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

Posted in Monday Mayhem

Zombie What Ifs VIII

Today’s Labor Day weekend is all about fun! That’s right. It’s Monday Mayhem again, folks. It’s time to put your thinking caps on and help me escape the zombies. Are you ready to indulge in some serious undead running?

Arizona Zombie Hunting Permit
Arizona Zombie Hunting Permit

How it works: I present a scenario filled with zombies, and your job is to figure out a way to escape. Of course I’ll give you my answer telling you what I’d do, but it doesn’t mean that’s what you would do. That’s up for you to decide. And if you missed them, here are the first seven parts: I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII.

Are you ready? All right then. Let’s go!

Scenario #1: You’re in the woods looking for a place to sleep. In an hour, you’ll lose the light and will have nothing but the night to keep you company. You’ve discovered by some of the others who used to be part of your group that you are a loud snorer. In fact, you’re so loud that your entire group fell to the undead because of your obnoxious condition that had alerted a crowd of fly-breaders to your location earlier in the day. You manage to find a cabin. Inside, you also find it cozy if you were to leave the lights off. The shutters will do well with keeping the changed away from the area. Now the dilemma. Knowing of your condition, how will you guarantee to get a good night’s sleep without hinting at where you’re sleeping? Will your snoring be the end of you this time around?

My Answer: Apparently sleeping on one’s side is the best solution. Then again, so is sticking your head under a bucket. I’m not sure if that would help.

Warning
Warning

Scenario #2: Running several miles from a horde on the city street, you don’t notice the manhole ahead as you sprint toward a building. You fall in and injure your leg. You’re knee-deep in sewage and you can’t stand for long. If you stay where you landed, the zombies won’t touch you. It could be the zombies hate the smell of filth coming from the hole. Who knows? At the same time, because you fell into raw sewage, your injury will become susceptible for infection and you might pass out from the stench, thereby drowning in the only place where you find it safe. What are you going to do? Do you climb the ladder, take a chance by running to the building you wanted to get to before you cross paths with the crowd, or do you wait them out, hoping that in the meantime you won’t die in the bowels of the city?

My Answer: Get me out of here. The quicker I get to that building, the faster I can find clean clothes—I hope.

Scenario #3: The store at the end of the road is the only thing keeping the zombies from having their time with you. You duck through the door, lock it tight and run to the back where you find a rear exit. Before you can make it through though, three draggers pile from the entrance and chase you through the aisles as you try to avoid their paws from grabbing a hold in order to sink their teeth into you. Next thing you know, the front door bursts open and the rest of the crowd that was chasing you appear once more, marking their territory with their putrid smell. The way to get out of this alive would be to find a weapon, cut a path though the store and escape through the rear entrance. The only real problem is that it’s a dressmaking shop. Where are you going to find a weapon that would put those miserable rot-bags in their place?

My Answer: I figure a dressmaking shop will have scissors, but with a horde after you, it will take more than scissors to get out of this mess.

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 would you do?

Posted in Monday Mayhem

Why Are Zombies Popular?

One of the most interesting parts of a zombie apocalypse is the beginning. How does it start? Can anyone prevent it? Is the zombie apocalypse really that scary to want to run away from it? With yesterday’s premier of Fear the Walking Dead on AMC, today’s Monday Mayhem post would be a good place to have a look at the draw people have toward zombies and why these wretched disasters just won’t go away.

The Walking Dead
The Walking Dead

On October 31, 2010, Halloween no less, The Walking Dead premiered. From there a series began that would eclipse all other television series. Its premise is simple: a zombie apocalypse has taken over the planet and no one knows how to defeat it. As the series progresses, the audience discovers human nature, with all its entrapments, becomes a central theme in the show. Sometimes, what people do to each other is more stomach-churning than the deeds of the walkers. Should Fear the Walking Dead follow in the footsteps of its parent The Walking Dead, then one would assume the show will depict the darkest aspects of human nature.

Although zombies have always had a sordid history in low-budget spectacles, even having transformed into cartoons (eg. Scooby-Doo), recent activities in the genre have placed the undead in the forefront of creative bedlam. One thing is certain, the media does not like a vacuum. With the departure of Twilight from the Horror scene a number of years ago, vampires took a backseat to walkers. To that end, the popularity of zombies has never been better.

Fear the Walking Dead
Fear the Walking Dead

Just like their genetic makeup, zombies have crept into mainstream popularity and are now eating away at every form of media. The movie Warm Bodies is the latest entry to the genre, which film critics loved as the zombie equivalent to Twilight. The steady growth of zombie fandom hasn’t relented one bit either. Shows like The Walking Dead and In the Flesh have captured the imagination of viewers everywhere. Sites devoted to the undead have sprung up throughout the world. Commercials have even gotten in on the act. Zombies apparently love BMW, Ford and Doritos.

In the 1920s, H. P. Lovecraft wrote a short story called Herbert West—Reanimator. Inspired by Frankenstein, Lovecraft’s mad doctor believed he could bring life back from the dead, which he did. The caveat being the creatures reanimated came back as starved cannibals, killing and eating everyone in sight. Sounds familiar, huh?

In 1954, Richard Matheson wrote I Am Legend. Although devoted to vampirism, the common story elements with modern day zombies are evident. A virus infects humans who then infect other humans with their bites. In the 2007 movie by the same name, Will Smith fights dark seekers, which blurs the lines between vampires and zombies even further. Although never spoken of as vampires, if one were to view dark seekers simply by their behavior, one would think they are zombies (feed off humans, affected by a virus, etc.).

However, it wasn’t until 1968 when director George A. Romero released The Night of the Living Dead that zombies became what they are today—single-minded eating machines. These are the same zombies featured in the show The Walking Dead (born from the dead, crave human flesh and will die with a blow to the head—as I’d written in my post The Three Commandments).

This gradual escalation of zombie popularity has yet to abate. Once we see a full-scale acceptance of the zombie genre, that’s when a true zombie apocalypse will have taken place and everyone will fear the walking dead.

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 like zombies? Why? What draws you to the zombie genre?

Posted in Monday Mayhem

Cottage Zombies

Given it’s a holiday where I live, and most townsfolk around these parts have gone away for the weekend, I thought for today’s Monday Mayhem feature I’d talk about zombies in cottage country. As weird as the subject sounds, I would find it interesting should the zombie apocalypse occur on a long weekend in an isolated area. Let me explain what I mean.

Boat on the lake
Boat on the lake

What if you’re sitting in a boat in the middle of a lake fishing to your heart’s content while you hear awful noises coming from the woods? Would you row the boat to investigate or would you simply sit there hoping no one or anything notices you? The idea that the zombie apocalypse could occur in a rural area is remote—no pun intended. In a city, if there is an infection of undead proportions, not everyone would have a chance to make it out alive. The infection would spread from person to person, and those caught by the the roaming hordes will become part of the crowd.

However, in rural areas, there is a slim possibility that whatever happens in the city will also happen on the farms. The likelihood of that happening is slim, since people would be further away from each other in order for anyone to infect others.

What about cottage country? Wouldn’t the zombies have the time of their lives hunting humans, since the environment would be quieter than the city and anyone making any noise would alert the chewers to their location? What if it were a long weekend?

Running through the woods
Running through the woods

To me, if such a scenario does take place, I can only relate the incident to one thing—those caught on the beach on Amity Island in the film Jaws. In the film, the small island becomes a feeding ground to a great white shark. The town is small and it relies on summer dollars from tourists to keep the economy afloat. Similarly, many of cottage towns in our vicinity thrive on summer dollars to stay in business, therefore, there is a heavy push for towns to bring in city-folk into the region.

Again, I ask, would it be possible a zombie apocalypse could occur in cottage country?

My answer is a resounding yes. An ordinary cottage town of a thousand people mushrooms in the summer to ten to fifteen thousand. If one should have the zombie infection, the whole region could come under scrutiny. Furthermore, since many of these cottage towns border on a lake, most if not all the people will be on the beach enjoying the sun while the rampage occurs.

Ah, yes. But someone may ask, how could it affect other towns?

Remember that guy in the boat? Do you think he has a chance of getting out if he knows the whole town has turned zombie? Would he row to another area of the lake as a means to escape? He could. It is possible. Unfortunately, it isn’t probable. He has one of two decisions to act upon. Either a) he stays in the boat hoping he has enough provisions to outlast the apocalypse, which I doubt, or b) he could land his dingy ashore, take a chance and run through the woods for an escape.

Either way, he won’t make it.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend, folks!

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 think a zombie apocalypse could take place in the rural backwoods of cottage country? What do you think would be the best way to prevent such an event from occurring?

Posted in Monday Mayhem

Why Do Zombies Attack?

Some people never change. If you’ve heard that expression, you’re not alone. Yet In a zombie apocalypse, everyone can change. No one is safe. And the stubborn, those who run merrily along pursuing life’s little rewards, are the ones who the apocalypse will affect the most. Now, if only I can explain the zombie’s incessant need to attack—life would be perfect. Maybe there is an answer to this perplexing question. After all, Monday Mayhem wouldn’t be the same without answering another of life’s little mysteries:

Why do zombies attack?

The Walking Dead Attack
The Walking Dead Attack

Have you ever stood face to face with a lion while staring at it behind the bars of its den? I have. I’ve always wondered why it simply doesn’t attack the cage when it senses people nearby. The same goes for tigers and bears. Why don’t they without relent, pound the bars to get at you while you peruse their domain? Apparently, feeding them quells their inner desire to harvest us as their next meal. What makes zombies so different?

One would assume zombies work the same way. Feed the zombie and it would forget about dinner. It doesn’t work that way. If a stadium of people had a horde of the undead after them, the undead wouldn’t rest until every human dies an excruciating death. A handful of zombies can clear a room of unarmed humans without much trouble. In other words, no matter how much a zombie eats, it still wants more. Why?

Lions, Tigers & Bears
Lions, Tigers & Bears

Firstly, unlike animals, zombies have an “always on” switch that no one can turn off. Well, that’s not true. Shoot them in the head and they turn off—permanently. I digress. Zombies’ visual acuity does not function on movement alone but on the recognition that a live human is present. Call it thermal imaging, stealth detection or plain “I can see you” principle, zombies have a sharp optical sensor that allows them to spot its prey miles away.

Secondly, complimenting their evolved optical cortex, zombies sport an acute sense of hearing. Somehow, their auditory tracks allow them to hear whispers, which would add to the list of things that spring them into attack mode.

Lastly, as I mentioned, the zombie appetite is resilient. They are always hungry.

Put these all together and you have a good grasp of the undead killing machine.

Zombies attack because they have no choice other than to attack. Their sole motive is to consume. Their visual and auditory senses propel them to act on their impulses to maim and eat human. Simply eating one, two or three of us will not satisfy them. They want to eat us all. Their insatiable appetite hovers around madness, because their senses dictate for them to purge the world of our presence. Zombies can’t help themselves, and they will not surrender for any one of us.

If only zombies could remain docile behind the bars of a cage so as humans can visit them like lions, tigers and bears. Wouldn’t that be something?

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.

Why do you think zombies attack?

Posted in Monday Mayhem

Do Zombies Poop?

When I write about something, I try to find an angle to the story. Although I may have an idea, and it may be a good idea, I won’t write about it until I discover the hook. When it comes to zombies, as much as I enjoy the genre, the hook may not be so obvious. The reason for this stems from the fact that the genre has a number of mysteries I have yet to answer. I’m sure someone out there has the answer, but I don’t.

Do Zombies Poop?
Do Zombies Poop?

Today’s Monday Mayhem feature will concentrate on describing what three of those mysteries are.

Do Zombies Die?—I’ll have to admit I haven’t watched or read all the zombie stories out there. Yes, I also feel it is a travesty. Other than Warm Bodies, where, after some time, the zombies become Boneys, and in The Walking Dead, where the zombies show signs of aging, no stories of which I am familiar address this age-old question. What happens to the undead? Do they simply shrivel into a fetal position and drool their life away? Or do they rot until there’s nothing left? I don’t have an answer.

Do Zombies Sleep?—One of the lingering questions that has gnawed at my bones, no pun intended, is do zombies take time to have a regular siesta? In the last act of the film World War Z, the zombies stand in one position not really doing much of anything other than staring into the distance. They jerk around, but still, they are awake. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a zombie sleep in either a film or any other story. Why not? Don’t they tire chasing after people? The way I look at it is they don’t need sleep. Sleep regenerates cells, repairs internal damage from ordinary use and refreshes the brain in order for the mind to stay sharp and focused. I think zombies have passed the point of staying sharp. I could be wrong, though. What do you think?

Do Zombies Poop?—This, to me, is the biggest mystery of them all. With the amount of meat zombies consume, one would assume they digest and eliminate much like their human counterparts. But that would fly in the face of logic. If the undead are indeed undead, their digestive tracts would not function, their bowel muscles would certainly not work as well. So what’s the answer? Are we the audience to believe zombies can eat a whole man and not push him out the other end? What happens to the material the undead ingests? My theory? I think it piles in their stomach and comes out without digestion. My rule of thumb? Gravity rules.

That’s all I have for now. If I haven’t written about a mystery you feel needs addressing, go ahead and add it. I’m sure I will write a Part II to this discussion one day.

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 great zombie mystery do you find unsettling? Have you yet found a reasonable explanation?

Posted in Monday Mayhem

Zombie Apocalypse: A Survival Guide

Two years ago, I wrote an article called Zombie Emergency Kit based on the CDC‘s Zombie Preparedness page. In the article, I go on in detail about what kind of items people should keep at their disposal in order to survive a zombie apocalypse. I thought for today’s Monday Mayhem feature, I would revisit the topic and add a few more points to the already long list of items.

Emergency Preparedness Kit
Emergency Preparedness Kit

Let me be clear about one thing: If there ever was a zombie apocalypse, I hope I’m dead and buried way before then. I don’t know about anyone else, but if I see a zombie roaming about my property, no amount of convincing will deter me from my main course of action—and that is to run.

Right, but what if you make it through the first wave of zombie attacks? What then? You’ll need to make do with what you have on hand. That’s where this list comes in handy.

Jack Flacco’s Zombie Emergency Kit

  • Water, food, clothing and any other miscellaneous items—your neighbors will have many of these items available once they’ve turned into zombies
  • The only item on the CDC list left untouched: first aid kit (whistle, antibiotic ointment, bandages, face masks, gloves and reference book)
  • Multipurpose supplies (Louisville Slugger baseball bat, golf club, screwdriver, hammer, butcher knife, darts, picture frame wire, shards of glass)
  • Real paper map(s) of the area

Having the supplies is one thing, knowing what to do with them is another.

Finding a place to hide for a few days at a time will be the key. If a one-gallon ration of water per day per person is doable, then hiding in a basement will be comfortable. Food can be hard to find, given much of the supply chain will no longer exist. But if you can muster canned goods from your now-undead neighbor, life will be good. You can live for months in the same neighborhood going from house to house living off supplies stashed in cupboards and pantries.

Be prepared.
Be prepared.

Getting your hands on a first aid kit will also be critical for survival. Zombies love the smell of blood. One nick from a razor could mean death. Make sure you have plenty of bandages and lots of antiseptic. You don’t know what germs will be floating around when the undead walk the earth. My rule of thumb is never to touch your face. Germs tend to live on surfaces for a long time, up to twenty-four hours. Best keeping your hands where you can see them. You never know when touching something can lead to unintended results.

Now comes the fun part. As a means of keeping your friends and family safe, you’ll need a few things. My personal choice, as it should be in any zombie survivor’s bag of tricks is the Louisville Slugger baseball bat. It’s portable, you don’t run out of bullets, and you can make a mess of things from a fair distance. A golf club will do the same thing, but I prefer baseball to golf. Again, that’s a personal choice. A screwdriver, hammer, butcher knife will take care of things as well, however you’ll have to get close to the undead to unleash your brand of justice. Suffice it say, there is no end to the creativity a zombie slayer possesses in the throes of an apocalypse.

Last thing on the list is sporting around a real paper map. Can you still find one these days? If you don’t know where you’re going, you certainly don’t know where you are. Having a paper map will help with finding supply stores that may still hold stock. However, should a good portion of the population have survived a change into zombiehood, it would be better to hunker down in some farm, grow your own food and live the life of a nomad.

In other words, and this is my final advice—stay out of the cities.

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 strategy for surviving a zombie apocalypse? What supplies would you look for when scavenging for good?