Zombie Smashing: Z Nation Premieres!

https://i2.wp.com/www.blastr.com/sites/blastr/files/styles/blog_post_media/public/Znation_bat.jpgNever let it be said that the zombie apocalypse is going out of vogue, as it now seems that The Walking Dead has some competition. It’s called Z Nation – a show that premiered on Sept 12th on the SyFy channel – and which takes a similar, but altogether different approach for dealing with the zombie pandemic. Whereas the former is dark in tone and the characters seem to lurch from one tragedy to the next, this new series is all about zombie smashing!

As creator Karl Schaefer said of his creation, comparing it to its immediate rival:

If you’re going to go through the apocalypse, would you rather be with the people onThe Walking Dead, who are always kind of miserable and not having any fun, or our guys that are out to go kick some zombie ass?

I know my answer, and I have to say I’m a little peeved as well as impressed. Kicking zombie ass was what my series Whiskey Delta was supposed to be about! In fact, reviewers of that series have said how much they like a story where, for once, the military isn’t totally incompetent and knows how to deal with the infected and the undead hordes. Man, I haven’t felt this ripped-off since J J Abrams’ Revolution first aired!

https://i2.wp.com/www.cinemablend.com/images/sections/67248/Z_nation_67248.jpgBut enough about my half-assed grievances. As with The Walking Dead, World War Z, and a slew of other zombie franchises, the storyline revolves around a motley group of survivors who have come together in the aftermath of the collapse of civil order. In addition, the zombie concept is based on a virus that takes people over and reanimates their bodies once they die. But alas, there’s a big twist, which you will see in the trailer below.

Z Nation debuted to 1.6 million views for its premiere on Friday, September 12th, which is fairly modest for a Syfy drama series. But the network pointed out that this is a record for an acquired show produced by an outside party (Sharkado production company The Asylum made Z Nation), and that noted more viewers watched Z Nation than the most recent telecasts of The Leftovers on HBO, Teen Wolf on MTV and Doctor Who on BBCA.

https://i2.wp.com/www.cinemablend.com/images/sections/66519/_1406817935.jpgAnd interestingly enough, those ratings were comparable to the premier of The Walking Dead‘s fourth season fall premier, provided you add a decimal point in there. Yes, in a strange case of convergence, the WD episode “30 Days Without an Accident” garnered a total of some 16 million viewers, beating out the 2014 Winter Olympics AND the Beatles TV movie entitled The Beatles: The Night That Changed America.

So yes, it’s got some catchup work to do if it wants to be a contender for the top spot, but it’s really just getting started. Suffice it to say, I will be watching this show from now on! Check out the trailer and see if you agree:


Sources:
blastr.com, insidetv.ew.com

Oscar Mike 1/3 Complete!

zombies-city-and-the-crowdMore good zombie-related news everybody! With 22 chapters, 116 pages, and over 40,000 words (the length of a conventional novel), Oscar Mike is now one-third complete and on its way towards being finished! Granted, this is just an estimate based on the rough outline I have for the novel, but it’s a pretty good estimate.

And let’s be honest. Given the choice, I would rather not write a book that exceeds 66 chapters, 348 pages, or 120,000 words. I’m not Tolstoy, dammit. I don’t DO epics with more than 500 characters! Anyway, at the risk of previewing things a little, I decided I wanted to offer a brief synopsis of what can be expected in book III:

  1. Zombie Attack: For starters, it picks up shortly after where Papa Zulu left off. During the final chapters of that book, the Rattlesnakes had managed to drive the Eastern Faction (which is what the military units from the east are known as in book III), out of their hometown. However, the violent noise of this attack awoke countless zombies that had been living and hiding in the nearby hills. Now, the Rattlesnakes must deal with the aftermath of this latest assault by the zombie hordes.
  2. Change in Leadership: Major-General Michael Thur (aka. The Mage), was severely injured in Papa Zulu and fell into a coma. In Oscar Mike, his immediate subordinate, Colonel Haynes, has risen to take command of the Rattlesnakes. He is known for being a hard liner and a ruthless man, and his assumption of command will have dire consequences for some.
  3. Braun is MIA: After the events in Papa Zulu, Lieutenant Braun was stripped of his rank and command and sent to Santa Fe to live out his life as a civilian. Naturally, the people of 1st Platoon, Bravo Company are not too pleased with this. But for Braun, it means adapting to a new life, one where he is being compelled to make a difference in the lives of ordinary citizens.
  4. Danger Approaching: In the aftermath of the assault by the Eastern Faction, a small band of survivors is found. They carry with them a message, and some dangerous knowledge which could alter the course of the war. (Hint: Second Wave!)
  5. Zombie Revelations: For some time, it has been apparent to the people fighting the war against the Whiskey Delta that they are not all that they appear to be. For one, they continue to demonstrate that are capable of more than mere instinctive behavior, even a modicum of intelligence. And soon, a new weakness will be revealed. In addition to learning of a new threat, the Rattlesnakes will realize that they just might possess a weapon that could bring the Whiskeys down!

And that is what’s coming in the third installment of the Whiskey Delta series. Some time ago, I hoped to make it the final installment, but found that I had way too much to say to fit it all in one volume. But I am committed to ending it in five. I’m not George RR Martin either, dammit! Someone tell that guy to get back to work and finish the series!

More to follow on this and other writing ventures. In the meantime, always remember…

zombie_keepcalm

Good Zombie-Related News Everyone!

shutterstock_107588285Good evening all! I hope this August weekend finds you all happy, safe and having fun in the sun. But never mind that right now, I got some good news to share! For several months now, I have been trying to get Whiskey Delta placed on Goodread’s Listopia – a place where people can list their favorite works by genre.

And with a little push from some of my Goodreads friends, it finally happened! As of the writing of this post, it is placed at #220 on a list of 1139 original works. This list expands all the time as people vote to have their favorite works included, and books move up with each added vote.

If you have time, access, and would like to help a zombie fiction-writing indie writer out, here’s the link:

https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/933.Zombies_?page=3

Just scan the page for #220 (I will post again if it moves up in the queue) and vote for this humble work of fiction which I am working so hard to pimp out!

Writing About Trauma

depression1-650x487Delving back into the world of Whiskey Delta, I’ve found myself coming back to a familiar theme for me that informs much of my writing. It’s the theme of trauma, how one experiences the feelings of being overwhelmed, depressed, anxious, and at a loss for control in their life. For those who follow the Whiskey Delta series, all of these are things that keep coming up for one main character – Sergeant Aaron Dezba.

In the story, Dezba is haunted by the loss of his wife and daughter – two people who became infected by the zombie virus and turned into living horrors. Unable to deal with it at first, he locked them in his basement and kept them alive, hoping that some kind of cure might be found someday. But upon learning that such a thing would never be possible, he killed them both and fell into a deep depression.

zombie-girlAs the story continued, he found a measure of redemption by confessing his crimes and rededicating himself to completing a mission that could possibly result in the creation of a vaccine. Though the virus could not be cured, the researchers in the story were able to fashion something that would immunize the uninfected against it. However, Dezba never forgot the loss of his wife and daughter, and remains haunted by this and similar traumas throughout the story.

In attempting to write about this, I actually drew a lot on my own experiences. Mercifully, I have not lost my wife or a child, but trauma is something I’ve experienced in my own life. It’s something I’ve never talked about in this forum, but thought that I might share it at this time. You see, a few years back, I was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, and it was pretty obvious to the people I sought help from that it was caused by an extended period of high stress that I found myself in just previous to that.

https://i0.wp.com/blogs.psychcentral.com/nlp/files/2013/11/naturalremediesfordepression.jpgI’ve always been an OCD-type person; but apparently, enduring extreme stress can make the symptoms ten times worse, which pretty much describes my reality ever since! The short version is that during the fall/winter of 2007, I was working for three months in an isolated community, teaching grade 5/6 to a bunch of kids who hated my guts because I replaced their previous teacher.

He, I say at the risk of editorializing, was a selfish prick who ran out on them because he was pissed about trivial disciplinary matters. And he took all the resources with him, leaving me with nothing. The first week, I got virtually no sleep and felt like I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. I tried to quit, but couldn’t stomach the long-term consequences it would cause to my teaching career. No one else on the island was hiring, which meant I would have to find another career.

https://i0.wp.com/www.smarttop10.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Top-10-Home-Remedies-for-Depression.jpgWhat’s more, my father was absolutely livid when he found out I was hoping to quit, and I didn’t like the idea of being estranged from him. But mostly, I didn’t think I could live with the consequences of such a failure. And so, for the next three months, I stuck it out, committing to stay until someone permanent was found. And finally, at Christmas, they found my replacement, plus several more (more than a few people quit by this point in the year).

I then returned home happy and relieved as all hell, but found that I still couldn’t sleep right and was feeling quite anxious all the time. Eventually, my mother suggested I might be depressed and recommended I go talk to someone. I did, and they diagnosed me with acute depression and anxiety. Things got better, without the need for drugs, but I found over the course of the next year that I could not return to what I considered to be normal.

https://i2.wp.com/www.findingoptimism.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/depressed_7_w.jpgIt was quite hard for me to hold down a regular job, and I absolutely needed regular sleep or I was just not the same. Eventually, I began to take meds and sought counseling until I thought I had a handle on things. Still, I was not too comfortable around my parents, my father and I had several strained conversations over how I felt he had made things worse, and when my wife and I moved in together, I was quite happy.

That too improved, but as soon as we left Comox to move to Victoria, I felt myself having problems again. I had stopped taking meds around this time, and being outside of my comfort zone made a big difference, I found. I once again sought out counseling, took a new kind of medication, and once again came through. I’ve been through many changes these past few years and things have gotten better, but the problem remains.

When serious stressors strike or something comes along that sets off my OCD, I suffer from acute anxiety, panic attacks and depression, and it usually takes a few days before it all finally goes away. I’ve come to learn so much from these episodes, like how one’s own mind can become their greatest enemy, just how much a person can endure, and how wonderful it feels coming out the other side.

https://i0.wp.com/www.personal.psu.edu/afr3/blogs/siowfa12/vetptsd.jpgEvery time, I manage to come through okay. But I always wonder, is this the way it’s going to be for the rest of my life? Will I be subject to severe bouts of OCD forever, or can I expect to be normal again? Well, normal for me, at any rate. These are the kinds of feelings and questions that I tap into whenever I need to write a character who has endured trauma and feels like he or she will never be the same again.

I explore these questions because it is something I now know. It is my private shame, and something I only share if I need to, or I choose to get really up close and personal. But writing is perhaps the most personal thing of all. And when I write, I choose to express my own experience with trauma as accurately and vividly as I can. It’s like a form of therapy, and I do believe it has made me a better writer.

As for the rest… Well, as the sayings go, life goes on. That which does not kill us, makes us stronger. And when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. And if you’re a writer, keep hammering those keys and turning your personal pain into art. Otherwise, what the hell good is it?

Oscar Mike – Third Time’s the Charm!

zombies-city-and-the-crowdFor months now, I have been struggling to get the ball rolling on the third book in my Whiskey Delta series, otherwise known as Oscar Mike. Alas, it seems like every time I managed to get a handful of chapters written, I decided they weren’t good enough or were moving the story in the wrong direction and then throw them out. It was incredibly frustrating, but it taught me a valuable lesson.

That lesson is that writing sequels is not easy! And that’s something that I truly failed to appreciate up until now. With just about everything I’ve ever written, the work was standalone or part of something ongoing that had already mapped itself out in my head. But this time, I was just working with what I had written so far, trying to create the next act in a story that had two already set in stone.

Oscar MikeLuckily, I finally created a draft I feel I can be proud of. Incorporating a new group of characters that friends of mine created, material from the two previous drafts, and the reworked idea I now have for it, Oscar Mike is finally coming together. So over the next few weeks and months, expect to see regular updates and installments – I have 18 chapters finished to date and no intention of slowing down!

Some of them you may have seen already, others may have been changed drastically. My apologies in advance for this. And to those who read and enjoyed the first two, my apologies for all the starts and stops! Hope you like what I have I’ve done with the third installment…

Preparing for the Zombie Apocalypse!

zombies-city-and-the-crowdCurrent events not related to science, tech, and/or pop culture are not exactly my forte. But I came across this article in the new lately and could not resist passing it on. To break it down, police in West Brighton NY conducted a raid on a man’s apartment over the weekend. In the course of searching his place, they found tw0 loaded pistols – a Springfield Armory XD40 .40 cal and an American Firearms Mfg. Co. .25 cal – along with 43 loose .25 caliber rounds.

But the twist came when they asked Nelson Quinones, one of the two residents, why he was in possession of these guns, which he kept stashed in his dresser drawer and under his bed. Apparently, the man told police that he was gearing up for “doomsday” or the “zombie apocalypse”. Quinones also had a gravity knife on his person when police searched him in his apartment building’s rear parking lot, court papers allege.

https://i1.wp.com/www.transportationissuesdaily.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Zombies-ahead.jpgAccording to court papers and the District Attorney, both he and Ms. Meritza Hay (who lives with him) face serious criminal charges as a result of these weapons. Both face third- and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon, as well as criminal possession of a firearm and possession of ammunition. But Mr. Quinone’s wife also faces more serious charges due to the fact that she was convicted of misdemeanor drug possession in 2000.

But let’s face it: the real issue here is the zombie apocalypse, isn’t it? This man was in the early stages of stockpiling weapons because he knew what was coming! And while his intentions were good, his methods were terribly flawed! So let me address those now in an open letter to Mr. Quinone. Hopefully, it will give him something to think about while he’s languishing in jail…

gun_violenceMr. Quinone, while I applaud your efforts to be prepared for the inevitable rise/return of the living/walking dead, there’s a few things you need to understand. First of all, if you’re going to go the gun route for the zombie apocalypse, a 9mm is really the only way to go. More capacity for your weapon, big enough to take out a zombie’s brain, and far more common. This is important when it comes time to scavenge.

Second, everybody knows that firearms draw the attention of zombies (aka. Walkers, aka. Biters, aka. Zack, aka. Whiskeys!). If you’re planning on having to defend yourself from them, you should be hoarding melee weapons, such as the trusty katana sword, a machete, a truncheon, or just some good old fashioned baseball bats. You really want to fortify that for a zombie fight, wrap some barbed wire around it or stud it with some nails.

See?
See? Way more effective than a gun!

Some riot armor would help too, or just some improvised protection like some leather patches stitched into a suite of armor. Zombies spread their infectious disease through bites and scratches, so something that will prevent them from your from getting grazed would be a boon. And let’s not even get into how little thought you put into the state of your transportation.

Everybody knows that in the midst of a zombie apocalypse, you’re going to need to get the hell out of dodge, so something that can address the special needs of survival on a budget is a must. Naturally, you might be tempted to get yourself a horse since these and other more traditional modes of transportation are fuel-efficient (which is a big plus in any apocalyptic scenario).

zombie_carBut horses or mules are likely to panic at the site of flesh-eating zombies and buck you. What’s more, the presence of unfetid, uncorrupted flesh tends to draw the zombies in your direction. Far better to soup up your existing vehicle into a zombie-smasher with the addition of some floodlights and a front-end plough. I believe the picture above of Robert Kirkman’s zombie car will help to illustrate.

Last, but certainly not least, is the issue of supplies. When police raided your home, did they find a huge collection of fresh water containers, dehydrated foods, C-rations, vitamin supplements, batteries, solar cookers, camping stoves, propane tanks, or signal flares? No, they didn’t! These should be your FIRST priority, not some hand guns! What were you planning – to waiting for the crisis to hit before running down to the mall and hoarding with the rest of us?

Now that's what a storeroom looks like!
Now that’s what a storeroom looks like!

He who plans for the apocalypse ahead of time is always better prepared and more suited to life once its underway. Just ask all those nuts who live in their hilltop communities – the ones who’ve been stockpiling guns, ammo, food, water, diesel fuel and generators for decades. These guys will tell you that now is the time to stockpile for the coming apocalypse. But don’t mention zombies, they might think you’re crazy and shoot you.

But above all is the rather timid effort you put into stockpiling weapons, sir. I mean really, two handguns? Real survivalists have been spending the past few years amassing as many assault weapons, shotguns, pistols, and submachine guns as they can afford and the law will allow. Such popular weapons include the AR-15, Tech-9, Mossberg 590A1, and the Glock 17. And if the law is a bit inflexible in your state, just zip next door or go to a gun show!

zombiegun3Yes, it pains me to say it, buy you really dropped the ball on this one, sir! Now some might say that this was just your lame-ass attempt to excuse owning two illegal guns. But I know you to be a conscientious individual who cares greatly for your and your significant other’s safety. I also know that as such an individual, you want to be prepared to meet this inevitable catastrophe head on.

So assuming it hasn’t come to pass while you’re still in jail (in which case, you’ll die like a rat in a cage), I urge you to reconsider your efforts! Cover the necessities first, then worry about the incidentals. Thank you, and in the meantime, be sure to watch yourself while standing in the chow line. Also, don’t drop the soap. And if you can, find the biggest, meanest, ugliest man you can, and glom onto him. You don’t want to be just anybody’s bitch!

And if my might be so bold, you could read my Whiskey Delta series that deals with the zombie apocalypse, which I am currently working on the third installment for. It’s chock full of survival tips. They do get Amazon delivery in jail, don’t they? NOOOO? Well then, you’re screwed!

Another Five Star Review for Papa Zulu!

papa_zuluYesterday evening, an additional review came in for Papa Zulu – another five star one! And I was not really surprised, as the review came from a friend/fan of mine who has been following my zombie writing for a while now. But that hardly diminished what her review meant to me. And I swear without reservation that her review was in no way biased because of our friendship. In truth, we are friends through a mutual friend and barely knew each other before she started reading my work.

Anyhoo, this is what she had to say:

Without reservation, I heartily recommend Papa Zula and its predecessor.,

A true page-turner full of gripping martial action, starring realistic and well-developed characters, Papa Zulu is a great follow-up to Whiskey Delta.

Set in the zombie apocalypse, the story focuses on a conflict between two surviving militant factions – one that is working towards stopping the spread of the virus by creating a vaccine, and the other towards getting their hands on this vaccine – through whatever means possible – for mysterious and dark ends.

Throughout the story zombies pose an ever-present threat. Williams puts a fresh and terrifying spin on our flesh-eating foes, who display an eerie intelligence, making them much more than mindless. Think ambushes. Strategy. Zombie hoards with tactical sense.

All in all a riveting tale of intrigue and battle, Papa Zulu will leave you eager for the next in the series!

It’s no nice when people like what you have to offer. Makes the whole enterprise worthwhile! And after some of the mixed reviews I received for the first book, three consistently good ones is a really nice change of pace! Stay tuned, hopefully more book-related news is on the way!