Papa Zulu – Second Revision 1/2 Done!

editing1Editing is such a slow moving process, which is why I hate it so! As it’s not enough that you go through your initial draft and make all those pesky corrections, then you have to go over the whole thing and implement them. Then, assuming you haven’t made additional mistakes, you got to wait on beta readers to pick out anything you missed. Only then can you finally submit your work and wait for the kudos and criticisms from the reading public to come in.

At least, that’s the process when you’re working from a paper manuscript and doing most of it yourself. Were it not for the fact that this way is actually faster for me than scanning line after line of a doc file, I would have abandoned it a long time ago! And of course, its become a necessity since I can’t afford most editors rates. Oh, the slings and arrows of being an indie writer/teacher!

papa_zuluBut alas, this post was supposed to be about good news. After finishing the edits on Papa Zulu‘s first draft – the sequel to my Whiskey Delta zombie-apocalypse novel – I am now half done implementing all the edits and rewrites I made there. The process has felt arduous, but I’m actually surprised by the progress. I seem to be able to get four to five chapters a day done, far better than my initial prediction of say, one!

And in case its not patently obvious, I am very anxious and impatient to get this done! I was so hoping to have this novel finished by the end of this past summer. Despite its initial success, Whiskey Delta has been accumulating dust over at Amazon and the reviews have ceased since the last few (which were all really good). So I am determined to get the ball rolling and figured the sequel would be the best way of doing that.

thumbs upAnd of course, part of why this editing process is taking so long is that I am determined to get it right this time. Whiskey Delta still only has a rating of 3.5 stars thanks to all the people who penalized it for having editing mistakes. In my haste to get it out there after Max Brooks mentioned it by name (thanks again, Rami!), I took some serious flak for that. This time around, I want there to be no mistakes, or at least as few as possible.

I’m also hoping that getting the sequel out will help me get the ball rolling on the third one – Oscar Mike. I tell ya, that book has been through two starts and stops now, but I just can’t seem to capture the essence of what the third book should be about. Somehow, I feel that some sales and some feedback on the second installment might help me get my priorities straight for the latest.

Such is the life we’ve chosen isn’t it, my fellow indies? I sincerely hope you’re all doing well with your own pursuits and your works are garnering praise or at least some constructive criticism. And may we all find our way to that lovely person, known as an editor, who can take some of this arduous process of our hands and help us to do better!

World War Z: Novel vs. Movie

worldwar_zI’ll admit right off the bat that I haven’t seen the movie yet. But having bought the book recently and delved into it, I could tell right away when the previews hit that director Marc Forster and his crew of writers had no intention of following it at all. Sure, it looked like it good be exciting, and a good shoot em movie, but calling it an “adaptation” seemed like a stretch at best.

If anything, it appeared that Max Brook’s awesome and thoughtful story about a man who is going around the world and assembling post-facto oral accounts about the zombie apocalypse – how and where it began, what the signs were, how people survived – was little more than a guideline for a big budget disaster flick. If there was any doubt, the fact that Brad Pitt was cast as the lead silenced them all in a nanosecond.

Luckily, stuff like this allows other people to come up with good satire. Case in point, this infographic created by the folks over at The Oatmeal. In addition to providing all kinds of funny, happy ecards, infographics and jokes, they are also a place where one can pledge money for the new Arkyd program – the crowdfunded telescope you can have you picture placed on for $25.

world_warz_infoHere, they show the movie and book as two spheres, indicating that they overlap in one important way: they have the same name! Yep, that’s it. In every other capacity, except for the fact that it involves a zombie apocalypse and Brad Pitt’s character loosely resembles the narrator in the book, the movie and book could not be more different.

Personally, I think I’ll see it anyway. Maybe not in the theater, but it might be a good candidate for rental or Netflix. The wife thinks it looks like fun and I know that my curiosity won’t be satisfied until I witness this “adaptation” firsthand. Peace out, and go for the brain!

Source: theoatmeal.com

Big News (Updated)!

zombie_gore1Hey all, just thought I’d share a rather interesting and positive bit of news that came to my attention recently. Not more than two weeks ago, I put Whiskey Delta up for public consumption in both paperback and Kindle format. This would be the zombie apocalypse novel that Rami was able to get Max Brooks to mention while he was speaking at Ohio State University doing a talk.

Well, whether it was because Mr. Brooks gave it a mention, or just the inherent appeal zombie fiction seems to have, or a combination thereof, sales have been taking off! In fact, in the last two days, it has sold just over 200 copies! For most writers, that’s a drop in the bucket, but for an aspiring dude like me, it’s a veritable salesquake!

Thanks to all who have taken a chance on this piece of indie fiction. Rest assured, its encouraging and makes me think that Pappa Zulu, the sequel to this first installment, just might be worth publishing too! Who knows, it might force me to buckle down and get to work on the third installment as well, aka. Alpha Mike.

Update: Some reviews have come in, and the new is… generally good!

1: Whiskey Delta (Five Stars):
This was an excellant book from start to finish. I will be looking for other offerings from this author. He knows how to tell a good story, properly his characters and keep a reader riveted.

2: Almost There (Two Stars):
This book started out great but the spelling and gramatical errors really handicapped the book. Charachters change names several times through the book and the military lingo is never completely explained,and at times is very incorrect. There are no gunnery sergeants in the Army or the Air Force. This book has great promise but suffers from terrible editing. The story is great it just needs a little work.

So what I’m hearing is great work, need editing. Huh, tell me about it! My weakness always has been the process which needs to begin after the creative process ends. Well, some would say editing is part of that process, and an intrinsic one at that. But to me, editing and promotions have always been like the clean up and bookkeeping tasks that the artist retreats from in horror. So I either need to change my attitude, or get an editor! But dang, they cost money…

Still, that’s an average of three and half stars after two reviews. I gotta think that’s not bad. And not to be petty or vengeful but did you notice the unfavorable reviews was itself full of spelling errors. Just saying…

Whiskey Delta Published!

Whiskey_DeltaOh yeah, I went ahead and did it! Lord knows I wanted more time to get some spit and polish in her, but some things wait for no one. And in a lot of ways, I’m happy it came to this because there are times I need a boot in the ass! So my thanks to Rami for giving me that push, due in no small part to the fact that he did the mega-solid of mentioning my work to Mr. Max Brooks!

Yes, the author of World War Z himself recently visited Rami’s stomping grounds of Ohio State University to talk about writing, horror, and his fascination with the undead. And in the course of his talk, Mr. Brooks did me the honor of mentioning my name and the title of my book, as part of his shout out to authors who also tackle the zombie apocalypse. Who am I withhold publishing this book now that the name has crossed the lips of someone who’s actually famous?

So check it out, available on Amazon and Kindle in both paperback and ebook formats!

Amazon.com

Movie Trailer Monday: World War Z

worldwar_zDisclaimer: Yes, I know it’s technically not Monday, not by a longshot. But this post was meant to greet the week, but instead languished incomplete in my drafts folder, and the video took awhile to become publicly available. Point is, wasn’t willing to wait til next Monday. Enjoy!

Here it is, hot off the studio cutting room floor! Actually, I’m pretty sure these trailers get made well in advance and are released periodically with little more than a word from the studio. But whatever, you get the point. This trailer for the upcoming adaptation of Max Brook’s zombie-apocalypse novel, World War Z, is brand new and making the rounds. And just in time for the third installment of MTM (or not!)

Word is the movie will be coming out on June 21st, 2013 in 2D and 3D. But of course, that’s to be taken with a grain of salt since the release has been pushed back twice already. And word around the movie forums is that one of the original screenwriter didn’t even have time to complete work on the third act and someone else had to be brought in to finish it.

Still, the previews are nothing if not enticing and full of some malevolent, teeth-rattling action sequences. So who really cares if its totally different from the book? All that really matters is that they do the zombie apocalypse right!

World War Z Trailer!

Fans of the zombie-horror genre are no doubt aware of this title, and for some time now, it’s been known that Brad Pitt would be playing the lead role in the film adaptation of Max Brook’s seminal novel. Well it seems that they are all done shooting and preparing for launch! My thanks once again to David Lim at Ellipsis Media for bringing this one to my attention. I have to admit, it made we want to abandon NaNoWriMo and get working on my zombie stories again!

Admittedly, the movie doesn’t look anything like the book, which was a collection of oral accounts that describe the zombie war over the course of many years. But people will certainly forgive that if the movie boasts the same orgiastic zombie apocalypse stuff that’s apparent in this preview! As befitting a would-be blockbuster, the movie is set to be released in June of 2013. Which is good, because I plan to see this movie while sitting in a comfortable, air-conditioned theater eating hot popcorn and laughing at all the people who predicted a zombie apocalypse was coming in 2012.

Bath salts and some isolated incidents of alcohol-induced cannibalism do not a zombie apocalypse make! Anyway, enjoy the clip.

Upcoming Movies that Aren’t Reboots

Believe it or not, Hollywood actually has some movies that are now playing, or coming in the near future, that are not just reboots, reimaginings, or rehashings of old ideas. Much of this info comes from the online source Io9, and I have to say, I was quite impressed. To know that original ideas and long-overdue adaptations are actually in the works… wow. Still, don’t expect that this makes us even Hollywood! You’ve still wasted a ton of my and a good deal more people’s time and money!

Anyhoo, onto the list of coming or playing attractions:

Safety Not Guaranteed:


A time-traveller takes out an ad in the paper, looking for a companion to go back in time with him. A journalist, played by deadpan comedian Aubrey Plaza (of Parks and Recreation, Scott Pilgrim versus the World and Funny People), is tasked with finding a man who’s taken out the ad and determining just what his deal is. As time goes on, she becomes infatuated with the man because of his sincerity and the fact that he’s a true believer.

Produced by the same people who brought you Little Miss Sunshine and based on an actual ad, the movie explores the fine line between cynicism and realism, truth and belief. In the end, it remains a mystery whether or not the man is for real, and whether or not he is a harmless eccentric or a total nut! This movie has already been released and was screened at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival where it won the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award.

The Prototype:


A story of a humanoid robot that contains the consciousness of its designer, a man obsessed with achieving the Singularity, as predicted by men like Ray Kurzweil. After a successful run where his mind is placed into “the prototype” robot, it escapes from its facility and is chased by government agents who believe it to be a malfunctioning military drone. Though it does look a tad cliche and over the top, it nevertheless explores some issues which are only increasing in relevance and getting closer and closer to being real.

Enders Game:
I’m not kidding! After decades of waiting, it seems that sci-fi geeks and Card fans will finally be getting a chance to see Ender adapted to the big screen. As someone who thoroughly enjoyed the original, but never got into the sequels, I can tell you that I will be waiting on this movie’s Nov. 2013 release date with eager anticipation.

According to the buzz, Director Gavin Hood (of Tstosi, Rendition and X-Men Origins:Wolverine) is taking great pains to keep it as loyal to the book as possible. In addition, such big names as Harrison Ford and Ben Kingsley are attached to play Colonel Graff and Mazer Rackham, and Asa Butterfield (of Hugo fame)will be playing the lead role of Ender Wiggin.

Life of Pi:
Now this is one I didn’t expect to see on the silver screen! Director Ang Lee, who brought us such hits as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Brokeback Mountain and The Hulk will be directing this adaptation of Yann Martel’s magical novel about a boy, a lifeboat, and a handful of animals as they visit a strange island.

World War Z:
Not surprisingly, all this zombie-fanaticism of late has encouraged the good folks in LA LA land that it’s time to adapt one of the best zombie novels of all time. Written by Max Brooks, son of famed comedian Mel Brooks and master of all things zombie, the book tells the oral history of the Zombie War and was released as a follow-up to his satirical The Zombie Survival Guide.

According to the studio-related buzz, Marc Forster (Finding NeverlandThe Kite Runner, and Quantum of Solace) is slated to direct it, Michael Straczynski (creator of Babylon 5) is attached as a screenwriter, and actor Brad Pitt will be starring as the film’s protagonist. Clearly, these folks aren’t pulling punches with this adaptation. I look forward to seeing it sometime in 2013!

Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters
Look what you started, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter! Or was it you Snow White and the Huntsman with your decidedly violent take on a children’s classic? Perhaps it was Seth Grahame-Smith with his Pride and Prejudice and Zombies! I don’t know who’s to blame, but for some reason, it seems that fairy tales, classics of western lit and history are all getting the Buffy treatment these days.

But I digress, Jeremy Renner of The Avengers and the new Bourne Legacy movie stars alongside Gemma Arterton (Quantum of Solace and Clash of the Titans) in this sequel to the classic fairy tale. Apparently, the story takes place 15 years after the traumatic gingerbread house incident, and the now grown-up pair have become a leather-wearing witch hunting duo. Let’s just hope the producers of Van Hellsing don’t sue for plagiarism!

Neuromancer:
I almost jumped out of my seat when I read about this one, but then I noticed the production notes where it said that this movie hasn’t even been green-lighted yet. Ah well, fingers crossed it get’s made, because it would be about freaking time! Much like with Enders Game, fans of this sci-fi, cyberpunk classic have been waiting FOREVER to see a film adaptation! Several attempts have been made, but none have gotten off the ground.

But some details are forthcoming. For one, Vincenzo Natali, the brilliant Canadian writer/director who brought us Cube and Splice, is rumored to be the man who will direct this bad boy, should it ever get made. No other news yet, but my ear is firmly pressed to the ground and I will find out if it’s happening. Bank on it!

Snow Crash:
And another sci-fi movie that’s long overdue, but can never seem to get made! Well, it seems that writer/director Joe Cornish (Attack of the Block and The Adventures of Tin Tin) is set to adapt Neal Stephenson’s post-cyberpunk novel about the near future where America has been privatized, “franchulates” run everything, and a lone hacker named Hiro Protagonist investigates a potent new drug that infects users with a computer virus.

As a long0time fan of Stephenson’s, I for one will be awaiting this movie too with eager anticipation. In fact, I can scarcely believe that so many of my literary favorites are being adapted at the same time. One would think this was just a big tease, or some massive karmic payback!

Fingers crossed, people! Fingers crossed!

Zombie Weapons (addendum)

Can’t believe it but I seemed to have forgotten an all important aspect of zombie fighting with my last post (Zombie Guns). We all know there are certain kinds of firepower that excel at smashing zombie brains. But when it comes right down to it, there’s something to be said for a truly old fashioned weapon. The kind that relies on your swinging arm, or perhaps a little gasoline! I am of course referring to melee weapons, the kind that are designed for hand to hand.

So I am amending my last list to include some prime zombie smashing equipment. I also think I will amend the rules from the last post. Instead of four guns, I think we should get our pick of three plus one melee weapon. That seems fair, and works well with the whole balance of firepower and versatility thing. Bullets run out, but what you got in your hands can keep on killing until you break it or you get overrun! Dammit, all this talk of zombie smashing is making me

Melee Weapons:
The weapon on truly last resort, what you grab a hold of when all else fails or you just plain run out of ammo. In this case, what matters is either blunt force trauma, slicing power, or a combination thereof. Weight and balance are also important, as is compactness and portability. Since this is your last weapon, it should fit on your person without trouble and not be a hassle to get around.

Axe:
Chopping wood is just one of many uses for this traditional tool turned zombie killer! On the one hand, you can use the blade to chop zombie skulls, then you can turn it around for a little blunt force trauma. This allows for swinging back and forth without having to worry about making sure the sharp end is pointed forward. And it can also be used with one hand, keeping the other free for other weapons!

However, as anyone who’s chopped wood for an extended period of time knows, swinging an axe can get pretty tiring! And even though it can be swung with one hand, its hard to do that and shoot or stab from the other, know what I mean?

Baseball Bat:
Ah yes, the symbol of America’s pastime and the favored weapon of gangsters, gang-bangers and thugs everywhere! And in the event of a zombie apocalypse, its also pretty handy for smashing the heads of the infected/undead! In terms of blunt force trauma, it can’t be beat. Its tough wooden frame can take down a zombie with a single blow, and a few more will finish the job! It’s also quite wieldy and not heavy, making repeated use easy.

Downsides? Well it requires that you keep a hand free to carry it. Otherwise, you need a special carrying sleeve to hold it which can take up added room. Miniature ones can be snuck up your shirt sleeve, but that presents its own problems.

Chainsaw:
What is it about chainsaws that are just so cool? Is it because they’re gruesome and ruthless, at least in the right hands? Perhaps. But in the right hands, they are also a very good zombie killer. A single slashing cut can take off a zombie head, and simple contact can hew off limbs and chew through their ugly flesh!

Naturally, the size and weight of this weapon can make it a bit unwieldy. And of course it requires two hands which can make cycling between weapons difficult. And last, it requires gasoline to function, which means it has a limited term of service. Lots of killing power, but you pay for it in other ways.

Chainsaw bayonet:
Now here is a pretty awesome combination! The raw killing power of a chainsaw with the added functionality of a bayonet. In addition to providing the user with the grinding power of a chainsaw, it also frees up their hands so they can tote their rifle. This combination gives them killing power at a distance and an effective melee attack if any zombies get in close.

The downside of this is obvious though. The added weight to the front of the rifle makes for depleted accuracy and portability. Basically, a soldier has to hold the front end constantly, forcing them to shoot from the hip instead of taking aim. And again, the weapon is only functional so long as it has a gas supply.

Claymore:
The sword that made Scotland proud and its warriors feared! Heavy, long, sharp and beautifully crafted, this sword is famous for knocking off heads and limbs with single strokes. Its long blade also makes for a good reach against flesh-hungry zombies!

Downsides? Well, its size and weight make it hard to wield. As long as you got two arms and big muscles, you can swing this around and take out any zombie in the vicinity. But anyone doing this can expect to get tired fast. And like the chainsaw, it requires two hands, making cycling difficult.

KA-BAR:
The knife made famous by the Marine Corps, or was it the other way around? No, I’m pretty sure the Marines were doing fine before this knife came along. Still, its effectiveness as an infantry weapon make it a perfect addition to any zombie killing arsenal. A good 7 inches long, sharp as hell, and made of steel with a carbon tip point, a good thrust will render zombie brains inoperative.

As for downsides, can’t think of many. In close quarters, this is a good weapon to have, being lightweight and requiring only one hand to wield. Of course, the fact that it can’t take off zombie limbs means it can only kill when plunged into a zombie’s skull. And in its current form, it can’t be fixed as a bayonet, making it less versatile than some other blades here.

Pigsticker:
The little bayonet that could… F*@#! up the face of some zombies! Yes, this spike bayonet has undergone a revival of sorts thanks to the prospect of a zombie apocalypse. Small, adaptable to any rifle, and capable of taking out a zombie brain with a good poke in the eye, this weapon is both portable, versatile, and effective!

It’s small size and the fact that it can be mounted on top also doesn’t eliminate the possibility of a grenade launcher attached to your rifle either. However, the spike is somewhat limited in some respects. Being small and thin, it can’t really penetrate a skull with ease. Overuse can also break it, and its range is somewhat limited.

Samuria Sword:
My thanks to Goran Zidar for suggesting this one. In the event of a zombie attack, this weapon is definitely one I would want on hand! Made of folded, tempered steel, good weight and wieldy, this sword can cut through bone, flesh, knock off heads, and limbs all at once. It can even chop into the brain pan of a zombie when used in an overhead attack.

But of course, the sword still takes two hands to wield effectively. What’s more, in the event of a head attack, it can get stuck in vertebrae and skull bone if not used properly. Always remember to snap the blade back at the end of the strike!

SKS folding bayonet:
This Soviet-era bayonet is famous for being the only gun mounted blade that is retractable. This can be a time saver when it comes time to prepare for a zombie charge, or ensure some added safety should you want to leave the bayonet on full time.

Downsides are few, but the folding attachment means that a stiff blow can detach it from the fixed position. In a zombie fight, you don’t want to find your bayonet folded back on you, thus forcing you refix it between brain stabbings! Having this bayonet on also means you can’t have a rocket launcher fixed to your weapon.

Machete:
Much like the baseball bat, the machete’s greatest features are its simplicity and brutal efficiency. And just for fun, I selected the Kukri machete, the Nepalese inspired variant which is the workhorse of modern machetes. Few weapons can out-cut this one, and a single blow is about as effective as that of samurai sword. But the Kukri manages to accomplish this with a much smaller frame, making it more compact and portable.

Potential downsides… Well it’s not the easiest thing to carry when not in use. Its curved blade means that you’d need a special holster since you can’t expect to just stick in your pocket, not unless you want to sever something vital! And since it’s smaller than a sword, you can’t really sling it over your back. So yes, portability might be a bit of an issue.

M9 Bayonet:
Last, but certainly not least, is the standard M9 infantry bayonet. A favorite amongst the US Army and USMC, the M9 is effective, reliable, and a quick kill option when fixed onto an assault rifle. Fixed at two points to a weapon, the odds of it coming off are also unlikely, making it a sturdy killer as well.

Drawbacks include diminished accuracy, which has been a problem since WWII. Soldiers usually resolve this by waiting until the enemy is close before fixing them. However, this presents the problem of having to take the time to slap it on while the zombie’s approach!

Are You Ready?
Okay, so the rules are clear right? One melee weapon, three guns. GO! My new picks are as follows:

Melee: Kukri Machete
Small Arm: Calico
Shotgun: USAS-12
Rifle: Stey AUG

I’m ready for some zombie smashing! Let me at em!