Posted in Freedom Friday, Other Things

Keeping on Track

During this time of year, I take some time out of my busy schedule to assess where I am and where I want to go. This assessment encompasses not only my personal life but also my writing life. Part of this exercise includes me looking at my life as a five-year plan, and in some cases, a ten-year plan. I began doing this a few years ago when I needed structure to my life—something I severely lacked before I started writing.

Create and keep a schedule
Create and keep a schedule

I can’t say what I do is easy, but it does yield fruit. I’m disciplined now and more attuned to what I believe my life mission is in the grand scheme of things. I’m not saying this to make it seem as if I have everything figured out. On the contrary, if I have anything figured out, it’s my name and where I was born—and maybe where I go when I die. Other than those little things, I’m at the mercy of the wind.

Anyway, the reason I’m writing all this is that I’d like to share with you three key things I do to keep on track for the year. Don’t expect miracles if you’re going to implement any of this stuff in your life. I can tell you it is not as easy as I make it out to be. But, it is worth the try, if you’re in the mood to make a change for a more goal-centered life.

Schedule downtime—That’s an odd way to think about getting things done. Isn’t scheduling downtime the exact opposite of getting things done? Well, not really. What you want to do is prevent burnout. I’ve been there when all I could think about was what I wanted to do, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. I read somewhere that the body functions on a time cycle, and if the body doesn’t get the rest it needs, it will rebel by throwing itself in bed. That happened to me. There was a time I became ill with a flu or fever every single year since I was a kid. Nowadays, that doesn’t happen. I take one full day off from being online, writing and chores to be with the family. It’s a full day of familial bonding that has since kept me healthy. The downtime also stimulates my creative juices, clearing my mind and readying the week for my reappearance. By the time my day off is over, I’m set to tackle anything thrown at me.

Work hard—Given I’m a proponent for taking a day off every week, the other side of the coin is making up the time by working hard during the other six days of the week. Working hard doesn’t mean sweating hard, though. It means doing more with the finite time you have available. If that means finding alternate ways to produce more than you are capable of, then it means you’re working not just harder, but smarter. The ultimate goal is to get the things you would have had done in seven days with six days instead. Tricky, but doable. In the context of writing, I schedule everything. My novel writing is part of my schedule as is my site writing. Responding to comments on my site, Twitter and Facebook is in there, too. At the end of the week, all that hard work will have paid off once I look at my accomplishments and realize just how much I produced.

Put it all down on paper—An interesting thing happens when you write things down. You remember them. I think there must be some sort of relational action thing going on in the brain when I write things down. I seem to remember those things and I can remember what they look like written on paper. The idea is a strange one, but I will have to say this really works. Do you really want to accomplish your goals? Write them all down on paper. Years ago, I had the idea in my mind of what I wanted to do—write a trilogy—then went ahead and wrote the titles down on paper. Suddenly, seeing the titles there made them more real. I hadn’t written any of them, but they were real to me. I did the same thing with my other parts of my life. If I wanted a new car, I’d write it on paper then I knew there was no turning back from achieving my goal. Again, write everything you want down on paper. It does make a difference.

Last thing on my mind is this: When a trial hits, you hit right back. Don’t surrender. Stay true to the course. There is nothing in this world that ought to prevent you from achieving your goals. To use the cliché: Live the dream. No one else can do it for you.

Get the Ranger Martin trilogy now!

What goals do you want to write down that would make it more real for you to achieve success?

Posted in Freedom Friday

Resolutions

Happy New Year, everyone! I’m so glad you’ve taken a moment of your day to visit. It truly is a pleasure to be here as well. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. To you, I tip my hat in honor of your steadfast support of my work, and for all that you do for me over the course of the year. May this year bring you good tidings.

Happy New Year
Happy New Year

As always, my goal is to entertain you.

So, what are my plans this year? Well, last year was interesting, to say the least. I wrote tons about zombies, went off on a tangent delivering my perspective of the Jodi Arias trial, and completed my Ranger Martin trilogy.

My wish for 2016 is to be able to provide you with the best entertainment you can’t find anywhere else. This will take a lot of work from my side, delivering engaging topics, discovering new theories, and highlighting my favorite things.

I think, though, it will be worth it. Much of what I have planned for 2016 will be in the context of what I come to realize as truth then impart to my readership the information as lessons learned. I may actually write more about writing given folks have been asking via email how do I maintain a site so consistently and still deliver a book a year.

You may also find me talking more about human nature, overcoming trials, and getting along.

New York Fireworks
New York Fireworks

But not everything will be serious. I’ll always continue to provide my favorite recipes, my very best photos, my vacation summaries and most of all, an honest opinion. I really want to make this new year a banner year for creativity—not only for me, but for everyone visiting my site.

If this is your first time here, have a look through my archives. I have them grouped in sections so that you can enjoy them as individual pieces or as part of a series. I’ve written my site with two purposes in mind:

  • To attract readers interested in the topics I love writing about, and
  • To support my books

Some topics, such as cooking and family life are not what one would come to expect from a writer who has written about zombies for over three years, yet I think it’s important to get to know a writer from all angles. That’s my honest opinion.

For those of you who have been with me from the beginning, I am in awe that you are still here. The longer I keep contributing my thoughts on my site, the more I realize how wonderful a support you have been toward my writing and me. I’m very thankful for your kind words, your generous views and most of all your ceaseless faith in what I do here, week after week.

Like I said, I’m in awe.

Now, I’m not much for resolutions, yet given today is the typical beginning of New Year’s resolutions for most people, I thought I’d add one for myself.

My resolution for 2016 is to become more transparent with my writing goals in order to provide my audience a peek into what I’m working on.

What’s that? What am I working on now? I can’t say. Shh, it’s a secret.

Oh, well. So much for resolutions.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Get the Ranger Martin trilogy now!

What are you doing for New Years’ Day? Have you made any resolutions for 2016?

Posted in Freedom Friday, Other Things

Writing Tips

Christmas Day. I’m not here right now but if you leave me a message I will get back to you as soon as I can. Actually, by the time you read this, it will have been a full month since I wrote it. I cherish these long timelines before writing something and before it goes to press. I can play with the writing, add a little, take a little—it’s very organic. Sometimes, and this happens more often than you think, I scrap the post for something entirely different.

Writing longhand
Writing longhand

It’s not my intention today to ramble on about nonsense, so I thought I’d give you a gift instead. Many times, I have felt the need to elaborate more about my writing, but I have never had the will to do that, particularly for these reasons:

  • Writing sites crop up every day, and what I offer isn’t anything you can’t gain from other sites.
  • I’ve never felt comfortable about writing about writing. I know, I’ve written three thick books that I should be proud of, but I’ve always felt unworthy to impart any information to my audience. In my mind, it seems pretentious to do such a thing, considering authors such as John Grisham, who I admire dearly, has never written about his writing. If anyone should write about writing, it should be Grisham.

Anyway, today I’d like to give you three things I do to keep on track with my writing. With this I hope to overcome this huge feeling of unworthiness that goes through me when I’m writing about writing.

All right, enough of the self-loathing. Here are the points:

  1. Schedule Writing Time—I’m a great believer in treating writing like a job. Well, for me, it is a job, so I have no choice. I clock in and punch out every day. That’s the secret as to how I get so much writing done in a day. I wake up at 4:52 every morning, wash up, have my walk, then I sit down to write while everyone is still asleep. My writing is scheduled. I don’t allow anything to interfere with my goal of getting 1,000 words done. Trust me when I say that when you become scheduled, writing will turn into a habit very quickly in your life. You’ll miss it if you do not do it.
  2. Write What You Love—Everyone has something interesting to talk about, even if it’s a silly subject like the zombie apocalypse. When I first started writing, I had no clue what I was doing. In some respect, even today, I don’t know what I’m doing. But, I’ll tell you something you may not know. If you write about things you love, you will never run out of things to talk about, either in your novel writing or on your site. I find it easy to sit down and come up with posts for my site and scenes for my books. And the only reason for that is that I love writing about the things that interest me. Fortunately, the things I love happen to be the things other people love, too.
  3. Don’t Rely on Muse or Inspiration—This is the only “don’t” on my list. Treat writing like a job. In a job, you don’t rely on inspiration to get things done. You do the job because you have to, and if you don’t get it done, you’re out of a job. Simple as that. Are you going to fire yourself? Of course not! You’re going to work hard until what you imagined in that brain of yours flows on the paper and you’re done. Yes, it will be hard, especially those days when you hear yourself saying, “I don’t feel like it.” I promise you though, if you treat writing like a job, you will never run out of anything to say.

One last thing before I go back to having my eggnog—always, always revise. Forget about the first draft. Sometimes I’ll knock out a first draft that appears publication worthy, but the usual thing I do is dump everything on paper, then revise.

Revisions is what makes your work shine. Never cheap out on spending the time with your writing to make it what you’ve envisioned.

Now, if you feel the need to write something, leave a comment. In the meantime, I’m sure at this very moment I’m getting ready to enjoy the rest of today with my family with tons of food and festivities.

Get the Ranger Martin trilogy now!

What writing tips do you have that you’d like to share with everyone?

Posted in Monday Mayhem

Excerpt

On October 20, I will be releasing Ranger Martin and the Search for Paradise, the final book to my zombie apocalypse trilogy. I’ll spare you the long introduction. Below is the first chapter. I hope you enjoy it.

Matty’s gaze locked on to Randy. There were too many. The redhead knew if they didn’t do something fast, they’d quickly become bait for the undead. As she let off one shot after another from her silver Colt .45, a gun that had once belonged to her grandfather, a terrible thought sliced through her head. What if this was it? What if this would be the last time she’d ever see Randy alive again? Then what? Her plan never included dying at the hands of the horde.

The undead crashed through the door, piling into the abandoned parking garage. As one zombie fell, another would take its place. As the bullets hit their targets, green blood flowed freely into the cracks of the pavement.

“We’ve got to do something, Matty.” Randy said, reloading his gun. “We won’t be able to hold them back much longer.”

He was right. The crowd had chased them clear across the back alleys of Sedona and into an empty apartment building where he and Matty thought they’d be safe. But when the rotting corpses burst through the outside door, then burrowed their way through a second door at the top of the stairs leading into the garage, the kids couldn’t think of anything to do other than open fire.

Despite the heavy shelling the zombies received by the pair, the undead didn’t surrender. They continued to flood the basement at the cost of losing more of their brothers and sisters in death.

While a group of zombies hugged the walls near the parked cars, Matty called to Randy and nodded at the vehicle closest to the door. A hidden language was in place between the fifteen-year-olds. When one would signal an idea, no matter how vague the signal appeared to be, the other would run with it. Chances were good they had the same idea. In this case, they did.

The kids retreated to the very back of the parking garage, diving behind several cars and trucks. Nothing had stemmed the flow of bodies shoving their way toward their next meal. The undead footsteps slamming against the hard pavement of the empty area sounded as thunder.

“Now, Randy!” Matty said. “Now!”

Without hesitating, Randy perched his arms on the hood of the car and aimed his gun. The crosshairs landed on the gas tank of the parked vehicle next to the door from where the undead came. He took the shot. He missed. Instead, he clipped the taillights, sending shards of plastic all over the back wall opposite his target.

“Do you want me to do this?” Matty asked.

“I got this.” Randy adjusted his grip to his gun.

In the meantime, the sons of rot continued to hug the walls, shinnying closer to where the teens hid.

Randy closed one eye, stared across the barrel of his gun, and aimed dead center at the gas tank. This time, he thought, he wasn’t going to miss. As more zombies poured into the parking garage, he slowly squeezed the trigger. The sweat from his forehead trickled from his brow into his open eye. He blinked several times until the sound of the gunshot echoed through the lot.

The bullet screamed through the air and hit the car without a problem, but it didn’t hit the tank. It hit the wheel and flattened it.

“You’re kidding me, right?” Matty’s ponytail jumped in the air as she grabbed Randy by the scruff of the neck. “Let me do it.”

“I said I got this.” He twisted his shoulders pushing her hand away.

The group of zombies hugging the walls was now halfway in its journey to making Matty and Randy a main course to a feast of its choosing. That was to say if Randy had anything to do with it. He wasn’t about to let anything happen to Matty. With both hands cradling his gun, he pursed his lips, squinted, and took a deep breath before he positioned his arms back on the hood of the car. Determination covered his face and he held his grip firmly on his weapon until peace passed over him.

The bullet left his gun in a flash and pierced the tank where the car rested, igniting the tank and the back end of the car. It exploded into a firestorm, taking the zombies hugging the walls and everything else in the sizzling blaze.

Flames crawled along the walls engulfing the door and the family of flesh eaters that had entered the parking garage. The fire ate through the crowd, shooting into the stairwell and flooding the steps with heat.

Nothing survived.

When Matty and Randy raised their heads from their hiding place, they couldn’t believe the devastation Randy had caused. They jumped into the air, slapped high-fives then fell into an embrace with one another. Bodies littered the floor of the garage torn apart from the explosion. The kids had imagined what it would have been like hitting that gas tank, but nothing quite as extensive to cause everything to become charred cinder.

In the midst of the kids’ celebration, as they held each other a while longer, the crowd of zombies that had hugged the walls hit by the fireball and was seemingly lying on the floor dead, began to rise. Whatever had happened, whether the flames weren’t hot enough or the impact of the explosion hadn’t been strong enough, they continued to lift from their fiery grave.

Gawking at the sight, Matty released Randy, pulled her gun and began shooting at anything that moved. Randy did the same without regard to what they would do if they ran out of bullets.

It took a few minutes before the inevitable happened. They ran out of bullets.

Randy tossed his gun and searched everywhere for something he could use to defend themselves from the rising bodies. But Matty had another idea. She yanked Randy’s sleeve and pointed to a door hidden in the shadows behind them. If they could make it to the door, she thought, they’d have a chance of living another day without worrying about the undead. At least that was the plan.

An even half-dozen rose from the ashes of the explosion, skin seared, hair razzed. The undead spotted the kids and their white eyes grew wider knowing the pain they had gone through would never satisfy their hunger for human flesh. Their lips quivered in a roar as they dragged from the spent fire. Their clothes hung from their skin. From that moment forward, not a bullet, human or fire would stop the zombie horde from shrieking its appetite to take hold of the kids.

Across the scorched threshold, Matty estimated they’d have ten seconds before the throng would reach them. It was not something she had imagined. The air caught in her lungs and she tore from her crouch, hauling Randy along with her.

The couple scurried to the door behind them, slamming into it, unable to stop from the inertia of their run. She grabbed the door handle and twisted it. No use, it wouldn’t turn.

“Turn it, Matty! Turn it!” Randy poked her in the shoulder.

She frantically twisted the handle, rattling it, pushing, pulling and finally kicking the door at the same time. The door, however, didn’t give in to her desire for freedom. It stood solid, and in some way, mocked her saying it had the last word regarding their fate.

Matty faced Randy with a ghost in her eyes. The realization hit that they had reached the end. They had escaped the undead clutches multiple times, ducking in alleys, stores, tossing broken crates in their path, slamming doors behind them, climbing fences and finally hiding in the parking garage thinking they had outwitted the undead crowd. Their last chance to leave death behind evaporated with that last tug at the door handle.

“What are we going to do?” Randy asked. He had always looked to her for a good idea.

“I don’t know.” Matty answered, allowing a moment where the groans of the rotting monsters could fade in the distance. “Randy, I have to tell you something. I don’t know if this will make sense to you or not, but I have to say it because it’s in my heart, and I’ve felt this a long time. I couldn’t bear to think what I’d do if I left without you knowing what’s been weighing on my mind.”

“What is it?”

“I—”

A blast tore through the silence and ignited the parking garage with sound.

The kids gazed at the opening of the stairs where moments ago a fireball had consumed everything in its wake. A silhouette appeared from the smoke. Solid. Firm in its stance. When he took a step forward, the remnant of the garage lights shining from above caught and revealed his face—Ranger Martin. Zombie slayer. The undead’s worst enemy.

Ranger adjusted his Oklahoma City RedHawks cap and reloaded his trusty Mossberg 500. Without a word, he pulled the trigger on his first victim, a deranged dragger that possessed no concept of self-preservation. Its brains splattered on the wall behind. The eater stood there for a moment with a gaping hole in its skull until it dropped to its knees and collapsed. The remaining five steered their attention away from Matty and Randy and pushed against the wall toward Ranger. No one had the right to kill one of theirs.

Despite what the undead thought, Ranger tossed several more volleys of gunfire into the horde, eliminating three more of the mass. As he reloaded, the two that remained turned and quickly raced to the teens that hadn’t moved from the door. Their feet had frozen in place as fear washed over their face. They had nowhere to go except forward, but that wasn’t an option either because forward was from where the zombies came.

In that split second while Ranger reloaded, a boy appeared from the shadows of the stairwell. No more than eight years-old, he shouted, “Matty, catch!” And with a long toss, a clip hurled through the air, passing over the heads of the undead to land in Matty’s hand. Instinct propelled her to unload her Colt .45, inject the new clip and pull a bullet in the gun’s chamber.

Bring ‘em on.

The zombie pair extended their paws as drool spilled from their mouths with only a few feet between them and their dinner. They were so close they could taste the kids.

At the same time that the redhead had reloaded her gun, so did Ranger. Two shots escaped their weapons and both zombies dropped to the ground. Green poured from their wounds. The undead never had a chance.

Relief blanketed Randy’s face. He thought for sure they would have met with death this time around, but fate had other plans for them.

Ranger slipped his shotgun in the holster that he had tied around his right leg, and he strolled toward the kids. Smoke smoldered in the background. Matty also had a place for her gun. She hid it in the small of her back. The teens met with Ranger in the center of the underground lot. Jon, the eight-year-old boy who saved Matty’s life, ran and hugged her. He said, “You didn’t think we’d find you. Did you, sis?”

“I knew you’d show up sometime.”

“You did not!” He pulled away from her then smiled.

“Sure I did. There was no way you’d miss the explosion. How many doors did it take out upstairs? Three? Four? I’m sure it even blew out a few windows, too.”

“You’re so full of yourself.”

Ranger shook Randy’s hand and said, “I thought we lost you.”

“You’re kidding. With Matty around? I wouldn’t think anything else would’ve survived.”

The reunion didn’t last long. As soon as they did away with the pleasantries, the sound of a thump travelled through the garage to hit their ears. Another thump, but this time it sounded like a pounding had erupted from behind the door where Matty and Randy wanted to escape. It happened again. Massive hits to the door until there was silence.

Jon’s face flattened. Matty stared at Ranger while Randy focused on the source of the pounding. They didn’t need another fight—not when they had resolved to put away their guns and go home.

Something else had other plans.

The handle to the door slowly turned as the four watched with gaping mouths. The latch clicked open and from the backdoor stepped a chewer, pale and tired. It must have heard the fuss from the other side. Soon, another appeared. Then another. And another. The longer the humans stood motionless, the more the undead emptied from the door.

“Now would be a good time to run.” Ranger said to the kids. “Go!”

They dashed to the stairwell from where the fire had left ash and soot in its path. As Ranger followed, he had an idea. He wasn’t ready to take a stand, not against fifty of the gut-churners. However, he did want to make clear that nothing would threaten the kids under his protection. This he knew to be true.

When the kids had all but disappeared into the stairwell, all except for Matty who trailed behind, Ranger grabbed her gun from the small of her back, pushed her into the stairwell, and aimed the weapon at the car she and Randy had hid behind when they had set off the first explosion. He waited until the crowd had passed the vehicle to pull the trigger.

The bullet burst through the gas tank and sparked another fireball, bigger than the last, taking with it three other cars. Shrapnel tore through the bodies as if they were sacks of green oatmeal bursting into liquid sludge. Whatever the fire didn’t catch, the shrapnel took care of.

In that instant, when Ranger could have waited a little longer to witness the destruction he had caused, he slammed the door shut behind him as the flames raced and crashed into it, trapping the undead throng.

As the blaze consumed everything in the parking garage, Ranger escaped with the kids with only one thing leaving his lips. “Yahoo!”

Search for Paradise Excerpt

Posted in Freedom Friday

Superpowers

The other day I read how someone believed everyone in this world has a superpower. In a sense, I believe that is true. I would have never assumed the art of writing as a superpower, but if it moves people to change is some way, no matter how small a change, then yes, I would say writing is a superpower. Sounds crazy for a Freedom Friday post, doesn’t it?

Marvel Comics
Marvel Comics

The very definition of superpower is the accentuation of strength beyond normal boundaries. That strength can be physical, but it also can be a mental or spiritual power. For instance, up until recently, I believed the Marvel and DC Comics superheroes were characters whom I would classify possessing superpowers. And why not?

Superman is faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive and is able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. Captain America possesses super speed and strength beyond that of mere mortals. Thor has the power of thunder rattling within his bones. And Hulk is a formidable opponent against just about anything.

Other superheroes, however, are natural superheroes based on their integrity to stand for truth and justice. Batman and Iron Man fall into this category, owning superpowers beyond the equipment they utilize to help fight crime. Should they not have their equipment, they would equally be able to defeat their enemies with their superpowers of persuasion, honesty and firm resolve. Their inherent powers are from within, unseen on a physical level, but evident in situations when called upon.

DC Comics
DC Comics

Similarly, if someone were to tell me I do not possess superpowers like comic book superheroes, I would agree. I am not faster than a speeding bullet. I mean, it would surprise me if I can catch the train on time. I am not more powerful than a locomotive. After all, I’m a scrawny guy with limited capacity to lift anything beyond a milk jug. And I cannot leap a tall building in a single bound. If I can lift my feet to climb the stairs, then that is as far as I’ll go exerting any physical activity for the day.

Of course, I’m being facetious. It’s fun making stuff up as I go along.

No, I may not be a superhero according to the standard definition, but neither is anyone else I know—at least to my knowledge. What I do know is every person on this planet has something they are really good at and no other person in this world can replace them doing what they do. Does that make sense?

Look at it this way, a brilliant writer who submits a 250-word article to a prominent magazine once a month will get paid $250 bucks. That’s a buck a word. For every “a”, “and” and “the”—that’s a buck. To be able to do that on a consistent level is having a superpower beyond imagination.

My dad had a superpower. He could do all sorts of plumbing. He used to crawl into exhaust tubes to retrofit vast arrays of water pipes from source to destination. At times, the pipes would burst and drench him from head to toe, but he’d always survive. There are only so many people in the world that couldn’t do that. To me, that is a superpower.

If you are a mom, then you would know you’ve got all those superheroes beat. No one can touch you. And no one can say you’re second-best.

I guess what I’m saying is you don’t have to be Superman, Captain America, Batman or Iron Man to make a difference in life. Your superpower is what you’re good at, and you can share it with the world.

And that is an amazing thing.

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.

What is your superpower?

Posted in Monday Mayhem

Cover Reveal

Four years later, it’s done. The final book to my Ranger Martin zombie series is complete. Today I reveal the cover to Ranger Martin and the Search for Paradise. Am I excited? I wouldn’t know where to start to tell you how I feel right now. Yeah, I am excited. Can’t you tell? Next month, my dream will come true. On October 20, 2015, the book releases.

Ranger Martin and the Search for ParadiseLast Friday, I’d promised I’d tell you where the idea for Ranger Martin came from.

As clichéd as it sounds, I woke up one morning in October 2011 with Ranger’s name surfing through my head. While shaving, the image of a zombie slayer turned father-figure began to take shape. Ranger would travel across the country saving kids from the likes of chewers and eaters, providing lodging and giving them a purpose for their existence.

The story grew after I had entered it as part of National Novel Writing Month in November that year.

Two of the other main characters in the series are Matty, a fifteen-year-old who doesn’t take any flak from anyone, and her know-it-all eight-year-old brother, Jon. Together, they’re the ones who cause Ranger the most grief.

What I found interesting writing this series is how the stories for each book flowed without much effort on my part. I had a general idea of how it would all work—actually, all I had were the titles Ranger Martin and the Zombie Apocalypse, Ranger Martin and the Alien Invasion, Ranger Martin and the Search for Paradise, and the endings. Beyond that, I hadn’t a clue as to what would happen in each novel. Every day that I took to my writing hole there was an adventure awaiting for me to discover.

In all honesty, it was as if I were taking dictation.

Anyway, to give you an idea where the cover came from, the photo is from October 2004. I was sitting on a hill watching the boats pass at Toronto’s Waterfront when I saw a women standing on the dock. She caught my attention and I snapped her picture. A few seconds was all it took and she was gone. Years later, I would remember that photo and it made me wonder whatever happened to that woman. What was she thinking while she stared into the distance? Was she thinking of her family? Was she thinking of a long lost love? Or was she simply standing there because she saw me taking photos of the area knowing she would become a timeless image for others to talk about?

If she only knew her image would become part of the cover to my next book, I’m sure now she would think it flattering.

Not to make it sound as if the whole process for writing the trilogy was easy, I had to sacrifice a better part of my Sundays and evenings to put the series together. That included dedicating writing sessions between events such as home renovations, birthdays, driving my kids to recitals, long weekends, funerals, and anything else you can classify as mundane tasks that would make up life. Add to the laundry list the blog schedule I had committed to in December 2012 to write three posts a week, no matter what the circumstances, and you have a very busy Jack.

Mind you, I’m not complaining—I’m explaining. Then again, I wouldn’t trade in the experience for anything in the world. If it hadn’t been for Ranger Martin, I wouldn’t have found the writing rhythm that works for me. Ranger taught me

  • Never to surrender.
  • Always be consistent.
  • And never pay attention to what the crowd is doing.

Okay, I think I can now can tell you what Ranger Martin and the Search for Paradise is about! From the back jacket:

There is no cure. The change is permanent. Whoever says they can fix this is wrong.

Months ago, billions of people died in the zombie apocalypse. The survivors either have become refugees looking for a way out or have turned against each other. No one will admit they killed their friend for a package of raisins. It happens though, and there isn’t anything anyone can do about it.

Undead slayer Ranger Martin makes the unforgiving Arizona desert his home. He has never had to defend it. He has never had to kill anyone for it. If anything, he has shelved his shotgun and has taken an early retirement package.

That is, until now.

When the military lays siege on his silo, Ranger and his crack team of professionals—a bunch of kids, really—have no other choice than to run. But after he discovers a map that may lead to a mythic city called Paradise, where neither army nor zombie can invade, Ranger mounts a cross-state journey to find the place of safety before the others find him and it’s too late.

Now, because I would love for everyone on the planet to enjoy Ranger Martin’s way of solving the zombie problem, and in celebration of my October 20 release of my new book, starting tomorrow for 5 days, I will be offering the first book in the trilogy Ranger Martin and the Zombie Apocalypse FREE. That’s right. You’ll be able to download it without spending a dime. It’s my way of showing my appreciation for all the support extended to me these past few years while I teetered on the edge of insanity doing what I love doing—writing about the zombie apocalypse.

Ranger Martin and the Zombie Apocalypse

Thanks everyone for all your support!

Posted in Freedom Friday, Other Things

Pre-Cover Reveal

When it comes to announcements, I’m never quite sure how to go about making them. Sometimes, I keep it a secret for as long as I can in order to maximize its impact. Other times though, I want to talk about it until I collapse on my bed and wish for a time less stressful.

Pre-Cover RevealToday, I’m trying to figure out which one of these times this is.

This coming Monday I will reveal the cover to my new book Ranger Martin and the Search for Paradise, which hits the shelves on October 20. I’m excited about it, but at the same time, sad. The book is the final entry in the Ranger Martin zombie trilogy.

For those of you unfamiliar with how the Ranger Martin series came to be, I had written the first book Ranger Martin and the Zombie Apocalypse during 2011’s NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), a writing contest that takes place annually in November as a way to spurn writers to compete against themselves in order to write 50,000 words in 30 days.

I joined the challenge thinking it would be a good opportunity to exercise my skills as a writer and write the book I’ve always wanted to write, even if I had no idea what the project was going to be about. I joined anyway with the hope it would take on a life of its own.

Pre-Cover RevealFor a month, I had no friends.

Yeah, you can say I went all OCD on everyone. The goal of NaNoWriMo is to write 1,666 words every day for 30 days and I approached it as if it were a war. No matter what, I wouldn’t let anything or anyone get in the way of my goal to complete the manuscript.

I was such an idiot. Seriously.

Part of that attitude came from the fact that the most I could produce at that time was 500 words a day. I wouldn’t have thought I was capable of producing three times that amount. Ever. I can truly say it is also the reason some reviewers felt the writing in the first novel had a sense of urgency. And there was. Every day was a race against the clock to get my ideas into the manuscript before midnight. The way it works is if I missed one day, it meant I would have had to write 3,332 words the next day. And that, to me, would have been equivalent to clamping my head to a paint mixer and flipping the switch.

Looking back, I now see how silly that was, given today I write every day out of habit. You know what else, though? Once I had immersed myself in Ranger Martin’s world, I was producing far more than the assigned daily quota. I actually was having fun, even if I had shunned society for the entirety of November that year.

Anyway, I was planning to talk about Ranger Martin, how the character came to be, but it looks like I’m running out of time. I guess I’ll save it until Monday.

Just know I’m excited to show you the cover. It’s a journey completed. I really can’t wait.

Oh, and by the way, in celebration of the Ranger Martin and the Search for Paradise release, I’m offering the first book Ranger Martin and the Zombie Apocalypse FREE next week for 5 days, starting on Tuesday. It’s my way to thank you all for putting up with my long-winded posts about zombies, women who wow, macho warriors, and anything else that may have caught my attention.

Here’s the first of the plugs I’m publishing for this celebration. Thanks for the support.

Ranger Martin and the Zombie Apocalypse