Posted in Monday Mayhem

Favorite Zombie

Jack Flacco is proud to announce RANGER MARTIN AND THE SEARCH FOR PARADISE, the final book in the Ranger Martin trilogy, will publish on October 20.

When it comes to zombies, I have favorites. Who can forget the zombie from The Walking Dead the survivors find at the bottom of a well? What about the zombie from apartment 406 in the movie Zombieland? And of course, then there’s R from the film Warm Bodies. I think he’s the most endearing—even though he cracked a victim’s skull with his bare hands in order to get to the victim’s brain.

Jesse Eisenberg and Amber Heard in Zombieland
Jesse Eisenberg and Amber Heard in Zombieland

Let’s talk about favorite zombies for today’s Monday Mayhem. What makes them special? Why are they the way they are?

I mentioned the zombie from The Walking Dead caught in the well. The creature is not only one of my favorites, but the scene itself is hilarious—that is, if you like dark humor. The scene begins with the survivors finding a well. The resource would not only provide usable drinking water, but also allow them a measure of hygiene. The problem? There’s a walker in the well. They figure that if they can haul it out, they have a chance of salvaging what’s left. The plan calls for sending one of the survivors to tie a rope around the walker as a means of hauling it from the hole. Right up until they noose the walker, the plan seems to be working fine. As they heave the walker out of there, they don’t realize how heavy it is. And just as they had pulled half of its body out of the well, what do you think happens?

Well (pun not intended) the walker that had been in the well for such a long time, had absorbed a fair amount of water. The sheer weight of its body and the force the survivors exerted on that body caused it to tear in half. The walker’s lower half, including its entrails, collapsed back into the well. Not only was the scene kind of gross, but if you like that sort of humor, it was funny. Suffice it to say the survivors couldn’t save the well.

Nicholas Hoult as R in Warm Bodies
Nicholas Hoult as R in Warm Bodies

Another one of my favorites is the zombie from apartment 406 from the movie Zombieland. She doesn’t start as a zombie, but after a few hours hanging out with our hero Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) in his apartment, she’s ready to tear out his jugular. What I like about this zombie the most is the audience first sees her before she changes. She’s warm, considerate, and true to “the girl next door” moniker, she’s the girl any guy would love to date. Somehow, though, a homeless person bites her and she runs into Columbus’ apartment for safety. He has no problems with that. She’s attractive, what guy could resist not having an attractive girl asking for help?

Several hours later, the effect of that bite takes hold. Columbus runs for his life. What happens next is anybody’s guess.

What I enjoy about the whole scene is watching this beautiful girl turn into one of the zombies that then threatens to take Columbus’ life. A lot goes on in this scene, and it’s worth watching a few times to gain the subtle nuances the filmmaker intended.

Lastly, my other favorite zombie is R from the movie Warm Bodies. He’s the zombie that gains intelligence as the movie progresses to its inevitable conclusion. The theme is simple. A zombie falls in love with a human and wants to change the world with love. As ideal as it sounds, the story works for many reasons. The best reason I can think of is the love he has for the girl. Throughout the film he allows Julia into his world, and he’s the one who ends up changing for the better. R not only redeems himself by granting Julia her freedom, but also grows as a character, which then leads to greater things for him.

Barring from spoiling the entire film, R is one of my favorites because of his potential for growth, regardless if he is undead.

Your turn. What is your favorite zombie?

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, on sale now.
RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale now.
RANGER MARTIN AND THE SEARCH FOR PARADISE, on sale October 20.

Do you have a favorite zombie? How about a favorite zombie movie?

Posted in Monday Mayhem

A New Year

Happy New Year, folks! Welcome back to Monday Mayhem, where zombies rule and humans run. Perhaps this is a good time to lay the groundwork for 2015—what to expect and when, and to talk a bit about where JackFlacco.com is heading.

Everett's Hangout
Everett’s Hangout

First, two years have passed since I started writing three posts a week about zombies, strong female characters and anything else that pops into my mind. Recently, I’ve transitioned Wednesdays from my female-centric Women Who Wow Wednesday series to the testosterone-fueled Wednesday Warriors. This will continue through 2015, as the main character to my Ranger Martin series is just that—a testosterone-fueled warrior aiming to rid the world of the undead.

Second, if you haven’t caught my podcast interview with Denver Everett and TV Media Junkie Mark G. Pogue, I suggest you head on over to Everett’s Hangout to check out last week’s episode. Denver’s show is one of the few podcasts I listen to, and with Mark’s banter, I had so much fun fielding questions about my early years growing up in one of the toughest neighborhoods in Toronto, my family life, and my writing. You’ll finally have an opportunity to associate my voice with my words. Have a listen and tell me what you think!

Ranger Martin and the Zombie ApocalypseThird, as many of you may know, the only time when I talk about my books is during release. I’ll typically write a post or two dedicated to Ranger Martin, his latest exploits, and the road I had to take in order to get the book published. Other than that, I’m the type of guy who holds his cards firmly to his chest, only releasing news when I have to.

That is, until today.

Today, I’m announcing Ranger Martin’s exploits will end this fall with the third and final book. This should not surprise anyone close to me, since I’ve talked about a Ranger trilogy for a long time.

When I began to write the first draft of Ranger Martin and the Zombie Apocalypse in 2011 for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), I mapped a three-book arc for my hero that would include zombies, aliens, and other surprises. I had always meant it to be a trilogy, but never knew when I would complete it. Sure enough, here it is 2015, and I’m ready for the final, exciting chapter. Will there be zombie deaths? Oh, yes. Will there be revelations? Of course. Will there be explosions? I wouldn’t have it any other way.

All I can say for now is stay tuned, folks.

Finally, I’m holding on to a couple of more announcements until the time is right, but until then, check here often, as this will be the place where I will release the big news.

Again, stay tuned. There’s more to come.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, on sale now.
RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale now.

What is on your schedule for 2015?

Posted in Monday Mayhem

Anniversary Week—Part I (2014)

December 17th was the two-year anniversary when Jack Flacco: The Official Site went live. In celebration of this milestone, I would like to present the Top 5 Most Popular Monday Mayhem posts of 2014.

Before we get to that, I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who visited my site over the course of the year. It’s been quite a ride, folks. We’ve delved into zombies, zombie apocalypses and the like, and we had fun.

I don’t share this information freely, but I thought it appropriate given the nature of the festivities for the coming week. Here are some stats* you might find interesting:

  • Total views since going live: 113,376
  • The most views in one day: 1,194
  • Most views in one month: 7,741 views in October 2014
  • Most visitors in one month: 5,101 visitors in November 2014
  • The country with the most views: 31,520 views from the United States

* Statistics range from January 1, 2014 – December 29, 2014 as at 7:00am EST.

Let’s move along to the main attraction. When choosing the Top 5 Most Popular Monday Mayhem posts, I first wanted to present them based on amount of views. The more I thought of it though, the more it didn’t make sense. For instance, a visitor may pop into the site and hit the same post several times within the day. I didn’t think it fair, considering there could have only been two visitors for that day and a hundred views.

Next, I thought I’d use comments as the benchmark. You know, the more comments a post has, the more popular it is. Again, I didn’t think it represented a good way to measure popularity given I can comment on my own post a dozen times and push it ahead on the popularity scale.

No, what I used is the number of “likes” a post has garnered throughout the year. It will not only present a fair representation of popularity for a post but also prevents users from gaming the system with multiple “likes”.

Okay, enough chitchat.

The Top 5 Most Popular Monday Mayhem posts of 2014:

  1. Jack Flacco takes action to a new level.
    Jack Flacco takes action to a new level.

    My Second Book Release“Tomorrow, my second book in the Ranger Martin series releases. That sentence makes it sound as if something’s about to escape the San Diego Zoo. From what I know, literature doesn’t eat people. At least I don’t think it does. So I wouldn’t worry about wild books named Ranger Martin and the Alien Invasion running…” ~60 likes

  2. Asbury Park Zombie Walk 2010 (This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.)
    Asbury Park Zombie Walk 2010 (This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.)

    Why I Like Zombies“Have I ever told you why I like zombies? I mean, I write my Monday Mayhem posts, but I don’t think I’ve mentioned the reason why I’m drawn to these ill-fated, putrid-smelling, bile-seeping maggot bags the media affectionately calls zombies. I have a number of reasons for liking them, and today, you’re going to find…” ~51 likes

  3. The Walking Dead
    The Walking Dead

    Zombies and Mental Illness“Zombies are undead eating machines. They kill, consume and hunt for victims. They have an insatiable appetite. Their goals are simple. Kill and eat. Is it a wonder zombies have a reputation of being one of the most feared creatures in Horror? Monday Mayhem has always been about the other side of madness. It will always…” ~50 likes

  4. R from the movie Warm Bodies
    R from the movie Warm Bodies

    Zombie Characters“A few days ago, I watched World War Z—again. This movie will not go away, will it? I remember thinking how quickly humans had turned into zombies. The bite. The convulsing. The white eyes. The shreaking. And the cycle continues. I’d noticed this before, but never really analyzed it in depth. Not something I’m about…” ~48 likes

  5. The Terminator
    The Terminator

    Terminators vs. Zombies“They keep coming and coming and don’t let up. They’ll hunt you down and kill you without mercy. They have no soul. They’re impervious to pain. They are dead inside, unable to feel empathy or feel anything for that matter. They will not rest until every single human soul lies dead under their feet. If…” ~47 likes

Come back Wednesday when I reveal the Top 5 Most Popular Women Who Wow Wednesday posts of 2014. Don’t miss it!

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale now.

Do you have a favorite Monday Mayhem post you’d recommend to your friends?

Posted in Freedom Friday

Changes

In the next several weeks, you’ll notice a change here at JackFlacco.com. The change is an effort to capture my feelings about what I’ve been watching. For me, the thrill of starting something new has taken a life of its own. It will serve as the springboard for a new series. I’ll talk more about this later on.

It's that time.
It’s that time.

For now, today’s Freedom Friday is about change.

In the Oliver Stone movie Wall Street, Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) says, “Greed is good.” It’s an affirmation that I’m sure everyone has heard before.

I say change is good. Change allows for growth. Change keeps everyone thinking of better ways to get things done. Progress can only come from change.

Water needs to flow. It’s alive and vibrant when it moves from a stream to a river. It crests, splashes, and sprays as it enjoys the freedom of its movement. But when water remains standing—stagnant—an unpleasant smell occurs. Bacteria forms and makes the water undrinkable.

Similarly, in life, if there is no change, things become stagnant.

Greg photographs his food. (Photo credit: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic)
Greg photographs his food. (Photo credit: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic)

I try to balance the content of my articles as a means of maintaining an invigorating reading experience. When folks visit, I want them to say, “Hey, I never heard it put quite like that before!” That is the driving force to how I’d like my readership to react to the ideas I present on this site. It’s a tough balance, and that’s why you sometimes see photography and food articles for my Freedom Friday series. Changing it up makes for an enjoyable time—and who doesn’t like a good time?

Which brings me to my new blog feature—Wednesday Warriors. Since the protagonist to my Ranger Martin book series is a truck driver thrown in a fight he never wanted in the first place, and since I’ve been gorging on high-octane, white-knuckle action films, I figure I might as well make a feature of it.

Beginning December 17th, the first article for Wednesday Warriors will debut. It will feature fictional males in films and television who are either larger-than-life heroes or interesting anti-heroes with an agenda. Women Who Wow Wednesday may resurface, but for now, I’m looking forward to this new series and seeing where it will take us.

This is an exciting time here at JackFlacco.com, which I’m also hoping my readership will find just as exciting!

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale now.

How do you feel about change? Is it something you readily accept?

Posted in Monday Mayhem

My Second Book Release

Tomorrow, my second book in the Ranger Martin series releases. That sentence makes it sound as if something’s about to escape the San Diego Zoo. From what I know, literature doesn’t eat people. At least I don’t think it does. So I wouldn’t worry about wild books named Ranger Martin and the Alien Invasion running rampant in the streets. It’s just not going to happen—although you may encounter a slightly crazed author attempting to sell you his novel. And I use the word “attempting” in the loosest of terms because half the time, I have no clue what I’m doing.

Jack Flacco takes action to a new level.
Jack Flacco takes action to a new level.

I mean, I’d rather drive around aimlessly than spare myself the embarrassment of asking for directions. That’s how one year my family and I made it through Maine to Nova Scotia. How else do you think I’ve survived this long? I’m sure others are the same way. Same goes for bland theater popcorn. The idea of rising from my comfortable seat, knocking knees with the folks blocking the aisle all in a bid to get extra butter at the concession stand sounds like a lot of work to me. Instead, I’ll sit quietly never really knowing that I could have had more flavor for my snack during scenes of the latest Transformers film.

I’m not very good talking about myself either. I’m terrible at it. I have a Facebook page and Twitter account, and I post stuff on there, but I don’t like being intrusive. Trust me, I could do better with these days I have to talk about my book. It’s something that does not come naturally and takes me forever to come up with words that wouldn’t make me sound like I’m bragging. Because that’s what I don’t want to do—sound like I’m bragging.

For this reason, I’m dedicating this Monday Mayhem post to my Review Team. These folks volunteered their time and energy to read Ranger Martin and the Alien Invasion in order not only to provide me feedback, but also to give potential readers an honest opinion. It’s best hearing what they have to say than for me to open my mouth so you can watch my brains fall out.

Meet the Review Team

Kristin’s The Faithful Elephant“The moment you open the book, you are immediately immersed into the action. There really is no hesitation.”

Rhyanna’s Reads“This book is one fantastic pile of pages. The book is one of the more exciting stories that I have read. It has action, and some funny, silly, and active characters!… This book is so wild that almost everyone will love and read it!”

K. Andrews’ Barnfullawalkers“Ranger Martin and the Alien Invasion is a madcap ride, a rollicking read, that will keep you turning the pages well past bedtime. Flacco weaves a tapestry of imagery, dialogue and intrigue in his tale of zombie apocalypse and world’s end that I find endlessly compelling as a reader, and truly inspiring as a writer…Flacco shows his skill as a writer and a storyteller as he weaves these fantastic elements together in a way that is enthralling, believable, and quite simply, unforgettable.”

Sandi Layne’s Writing from time…to time“Though the title indicates there is an alien invasion—and there is—this is still a zombie story, complete with constant attacks by the walking undead as well as government cover-ups and entirely human bad guys.”

Karen Oberlaender’s My Train of Thoughts on…“This story is as cleverly elaborated as the first one, has a pleasant flow, focuses on its protagonists and their strategy to save the human race, as well on ethical values.”

Jolene Cecil’s Valley Girl Gone Country“I have to say that the twists and unexpected turns of this story will leave you stunned…unlike in a movie theater where one can cover their eyes with their hands shielding them from watching the impending doom of the characters on the screen, I couldn’t do that. I had to keep reading.”

Adrienne’s greatsnaps, goodtimes and me“Readers beware: Flacco is also not afraid to kill characters. This made me very happy because what is an action, suspense novel without a few shockers? Sometimes he even lets you get to know the characters, become attached to them, and then BAM! They’re gone.”

Shy’s .:shy:.“Ranger Martin’s ‘sidekicks’ are sometimes anything but sidekicks as some (a.k.a. Matty, a fiery teen) are just as gutsy as he is when it comes to crushing zombie skulls. I’m looking forward to reading the first book so I can witness some of the early events responsible for building these relationships.”

Mei-Mei’s Jedi by Night“Ranger is exactly the kind of guy you want with you when facing down the undead: solid instincts, quick thinking, and of course a good shot. But he’s facing more than zombies; there are some extraterrestrial visitors in town, and they don’t seem friendly.”

The L. Palmer Chronicles“Any good adventure also needs a great central villain. While the zombie is a unified hoard of un-death, General Grayson is a twisted, cold psychopath in search of only his own survival in this invasion. His cruelty and intelligence combine to make him a formidable enemy, and one who pushes Ranger Martin to his limits.”

The Scarlet Loser“It’s hard to tell who to root for and who the real enemies are in the story. As soon as you pick a side, that side either dies or does something that you find morally questionable. When you decide that you don’t like a character, that character shows a hint of a redeemable quality that makes you wonder from where the character’s motives really stem.”

Kim’s Tranquil Dreams“I have to say that adding aliens to the equation is very smart. It’s not just zombies but now it gets worse when you add in an unknown thing that has unknown capabilities like aliens. It’s a whole different ballgame and it makes for an exciting adventure. That’s how I felt while I was reading this novel.”

The Opening Sentence“There isn’t a wall or car windscreen in north America that isn’t now painted with someone’s brain. For the alien horror fans there are plenty of airshafts and cornfields to have your jollies well and truly freaked out.”

Molly’s Hot2Molly“From the very first sentence, Ranger Martin and the Alien Invasion draws you in. The action begins instantly and Jack’s descriptive, compelling writing style feels both new and thrilling as well as familiar and comfortable – like you’re watching your favorite zombie movie come to life through words.”

Karina’s Live with Courage“The very bestest, bestest, best part of the whole novel, though, is that there are strong female characters…none are cowering lacy dresses who talk nothing but boys and play the ‘woe-is-me-I’m-such-a-victim’ card. They all rise to the challenge and meet it head on. If the author was aiming for greater-than-life female characters that girls could look up to in tough times, I believe he nailed it.”

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale tomorrow.

Posted in Freedom Friday, Photo Opportunities

Ranger Martin Cover Design

If someone were to have told me this time two years ago I’d be in the process of releasing my second book Ranger Martin and the Alien Invasion, I would have said they were nuts. And yet, here I am. Another book release. Another cover. I’m not ready to take that yacht cruise I’ve talked about just yet. But maybe one day, when all the work is complete and I’m itching to try something new, I’ll indulge in a little R&R. For now, I only have this story to keep you entertained—this Freedom Friday story about the new book cover.

Original photo I'd shot for the cover
Original photo I’d shot for the cover

As with my first book Ranger Martin and the Zombie Apocalypse, I left the cover design process to the very last minute. It was not because I procrastinated, not by any means, but because I didn’t know how best to represent the story through art. I knew it needed a flying saucer, that was a given. I also knew it had to have a dark sky, again, another given. What kept me from going further was how all the elements would fit with one another in a nice little package.

Like last year, I had to dig deep in my 16,000+ original photos collection in an effort to find a handful of images that would work. Not an easy task. I was looking for woods scenery, but then I didn’t know how the spaceship would fit into the design. I was lost and time was slowly creeping away.

It wasn’t until I showed my son a few mockups that the creative juices began to flow. He had some amazing ideas and I wanted to incorporate all of them. One of his thoughts involved an onlooker watching the saucer from behind a tree. The forest scene would be reminiscent of those WWII movies where an escaped POW would be observing enemy planes passing overhead in the distance. I knew of the perfect picture and had no trouble finding it.

His next idea included deep dark clouds with a storm raging in the background. For a while, I wanted that, too. I tried adding clouds from a series of photos I’d taken a few years ago, but none them really worked. I ended up tossing the images and drawing my own clouds. Yep, them there are fake clouds, all right.

The last piece of the puzzle was the saucer. In reality, though, it was the first thing I’d worked on.

So begs the question—what did I use for the saucer? Initially, I wanted to throw a Frisbee in the air, take a shot and paste it into the scene. But my lack of motivation and lack of Frisbee prevented me for doing such a thing. I also had a hubcap I could have held from a fishing pole, yet again, my lazy self said, “I don’t think so.”

I eventually decided to work with a sightseeing landmark, cropping it, playing with the lighting, distorting it to have it look like the saucer in my head. The challenge was the bottom. Because the landmark is a tower, I had to erase the foundation and replace the underside with a pattern. Wouldn’t real life be simple if by the stroke of a mouse buildings could disappear? I’d totally replace them with parks and trees. By the way, if you can guess the landmark, I’ll give you the biggest kudos ever.

After I completed the work, I showed it again to my son. He liked it, but there was still something missing. I thought so, too. It needed color. That’s when I added the green ray firing from the bottom of the ship, the same ray featured in the first book of the series. Once I had drawn that, I knew there wasn’t anything left to do with it. I had finished.

And that’s the story behind the cover to my new book, folks. I really hope you enjoyed it, but most of all, I really hope you like the cover.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale October 21.

Did I miss anything? Do you have a question I may have not answered?

Posted in Freedom Friday, Other Things

Writing

As many of you know, and as some have noticed, I don’t talk about writing. There’s a reason for that. I’m sure I’ll get my hands rapped because of this declaration, but I think it’s important to talk about, since this is the rare and possibly only occasion when I will speak freely about this.

Photo credit: Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license
Photo credit: Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

One of my family members calls me a machine. I’ll take that as a compliment. The other comment I get is I’m a workaholic. Again, I’ll take that as a compliment.

The truth is, before I started this site, I had taken an extended leave of absence from all social networking sites. I know what you’re thinking, “Nothing wrong with taking a couple of weeks off to regain perspective.” In my case, it wasn’t a couple of weeks. It wasn’t even a couple of months. Sit down for this.

I’d taken eight months off from all social networks. That’s eight months off Twitter. Eight months off Facebook. Other than email, eight months off every social network. Months prior, I’d written a three-quarters completed draft of Ranger Martin and the Zombie Apocalypse. Then I stopped. Cold turkey. For eight months, I didn’t write a word. Anywhere.

[This paragraph is intentionally left blank.]

When I came back, I had so many pent-up ideas that I couldn’t stop writing. The format for the site took an afternoon. It was that quick. This includes coming up with the categories Monday Mayhem, Women Who Wow Wednesday and today’s Freedom Friday. I dusted off my old zombie manuscript and completed it. I quickly started Ranger Martin and the Alien Invasion.

Earlier, I said my family considers me a machine. Well, that’s not too far from the truth. I write every day except Saturday, even when I don’t feel like it. I don’t wait for inspiration because, I suppose, it’s now a habit.

If you’re curious, this is how I do it. I sit. I write.

Pretty simple, huh?

There’s a bit more to it than that, but I write whatever comes to mind. I’ll edit after it’s down on paper. And because I’ve established a two-to-three week buffer before publishing anything, I have a lot of time to think and play with ideas. If I don’t like an idea, I chuck it. In a year, I must have thrown away a dozen posts.

But I must say, hadn’t I taken eight months off before creating this site, I’m sure I would’ve convinced myself I needed inspiration to write. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The bottom line? I don’t talk about writing because I’m too busy writing.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale October 21.

What about you writers out there—what is it that compels you to write?