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://i1.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://i1.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://i2.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…

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!

Whiskey Delta Countdown Deal!

Whiskey_Delta2Hey all! Hope the weekend is finding you in good spirits and with plenty of good company and good cheer! And if you’re Canadian, Happy May Long Weekend (or Two-Four Weekend as we like to call it!) And in honor of this weekend, the coming of summer, and just because I can, I have decided to launch another promotional deal for Whiskey Delta. Starting today, it is available for the low price of $0.99 and will remain at this price until Wednesday, May 21st. Then, from the 21st to the 25th, it will be on sale for the reduced price of $1.99.

After that, it goes back to the sticker price, so if you haven’t read it yet and want to get in on this deal, do so quickly. Amazon calls them Countdown Deals for a reason!

Click here or go to the cover pic on the right hand side there to purchase a copy!

Papa Zulu – Ready and Available, Finally!

papa_zuluWell, after about a week of tinkering, complaining, and demanding that Amazon, Kindle and Createspace get their act together, Papa Zulu is now available in all formats, and all in one place! This was a bit of a bugger last week, when I was finally finished with the tedious editing and submission process, only to find that it wasn’t even showing up in the right places.

To recap, Papa Zulu was made available through Amazon.com as of last Monday, but it did not appear with the rest of my books. So for the untrained consumer (i.e. anyone who doesn’t know me already), the book’s relation to Whiskey Delta would have been unclear. In addition, the Kindle edition and the paperback didn’t even appear together, with one only available at Amazon.com and the other at Amazon.ca.

But after a few days, that was all resolved. As of now, all formats of Papa Zulu can be ordered from one place (Amazon.com) and I’ve made sure the links to it have been updated to reflect that. And on top of that, it now appears alongside all my other titles on my Amazon author page. So now it will be easy to find, and people who said they wanted a sequel will actually be able to find it.

Yay for small victories and the work that makes them happen! Woe for the speed bumps and delays that make the extra work necessary! And feel free to check out the book’s listing and my author page, now that they are are in working order:

Papa Zulu:
http://www.amazon.com/Papa-Zulu-Matthew-S-Williams

Amazon Author Page:
http://www.amazon.com/Matthew-S-Williams

Papa Zulu Proof Ordered!

papa_zuluStep two semi-complete! After finishing my edits on Papa Zulu, I have gone ahead and ordered a proof copy so that my darling wife (i.e. chief editor) can give it a second pass. I’ve also sent the PDF off to my beta readers/other editors, so they too can tell me exactly what’s wrong with it and why I should stick to writing and avoid proofreading.

And while I was working on that, I fashioned a cover for the third book. All this work on book II, as expected, has gotten the ball rolling on book III. And as always, I feel the need to visualize the end product, even before I’ve committed to writing the manuscript. Once again, I’ve gone with a cover image from Shutterstock, which now provides the bulk of my cover art.

Oscar Mike_2What do you think? Too much green going on here? I really like this cover template because of the solid front cover, the watermarked back, and the balance created by the text boxes, images, and quote section. Can’t wait to get moving on that one too! I hope to augment as time goes on with more favorable reviews, which is what I did with the jacket for book II.

Good luck to all us indie writers! May the sales be plentiful, the reviews favorable, and the inspiration unending!

Good News! The Latest Reviews Are All Positive!

picture by tt83x at deviantART
picture by tt83x at deviantART

Well, well, well… you remember when you were young and things weren’t exactly going your way? Remember how your parents would tell you to hang on and wait because things would only get better? Or perhaps you had one of those cheery optimistic friends who’d constantly tell you that things are always darkest before they turned to light. Not to be over dramatic, but I felt myself in need of that kind of advice awhile back.

And now, I feel like it’s paid off, because for once I got some good news on the review front that was all positive. As I had hoped, it seems that the 2nd edition of Whiskey Delta has been absorbed by the reading community and the returns are coming back positive! Two more reviews have been added to the queue, one a four star and the other a five! The net effect of this has been to push the overall review of Whiskey Delta up to 3.4 stars (though it looks like 3.5 on the book’s listing).

But what I’m most happy about was that there were people who had just “good book” or “good read” to say, without all the additional remarks about editing and proofreading. In fact, out of a total of twenty, only two reviews actually came back negative on the story itself. Most people who gave it two or three stars said they liked the story, it was just the technical errors that bothered them.

Not so much here. Here’s what the latest reviewers had to say:

(5.0 out of 5 stars) Great read:
Great story about soldiers doing solider business. I recommend it to anyone who likes this type of book. Waiting for the next one!

john

(4.0 out of 5 stars) A great read:
Lots of action like the way he made me feel as if I was there in the middle of the action. Looking forward to more.

Jesse

Not too wordy, but that’s fine by me. In short, they liked it, and wanted a sequel. And I thank them for it. This is the stuff authors yearn to hear, the stuff that makes the effort feel like it was worth it and which encourages them to keep writing. And to all my fellow indies out there, especially those I know personally, I hope that you too are getting your share of positive reviews. Lord knows we need this kind of thing, don’t we?

Competition is fierce, the market is being flooded and publishing houses are simply not taking risks on new authors as much as they used to. Every additional star and positive review we earn translates to more sales and more recognition!

Go indies! Peace out!

Next Zombie Novel!

zombie_hardestpartHi folks! You may recall from the incessant way I keep posting about it that I recently published Whiskey Delta on Amazon-Kindle. And yes, after many a mixed review, I finally uploaded the 2nd Edition, the tighter, edited version, for purchase today. And now that I’ve tackled the first bit of advice all my reviewers had to give, I now go about dealing with the other. That would be the calls for a sequel.

Which brings me to the point of this post. As many people who follow this blog are also aware, Papa Zulu – the sequel to Whiskey Delta – has already been written. And like it’s predecessor, I posted it chapter by chapter on this site over the course of several weeks. And now that the first has hit the market and is selling, I need to begin prepping the second – which means proofing, editing, and giving it an appropriate cover.

The only problem is, I got a few contenders for the cover. There’s the one I produced some months back, and the more recent cover which I made with the upcoming release date in mind. Here’s the first, which boasts a drab and olive green color scheme and an image which I felt captured one of the biggest, most climactic moments in the story:

Pappa_Zulu

That was one version. I did another with the same picture but moved the color scheme around a bit to make it more stark and contrasting. But of course I worried that it was too much like its predecessor, who’s cover was also all olive and black. Just me, but I would imagine a second installment needs to look like it is striking a different tone, not fitting in or piggybacking on the first.

Pappa_Zulu

Ah, but after Whiskey Delta was published back in April, I began to wonder if the covers were a little boring and didn’t highlight the zombie-smashing enough. Now I’ve got someone on the task of creating me some original zombie art; but until such time that it is completed, I still needed something that screamed action, adventure and hails of gunfire. So here’s what I came up with in the meantime:

Pappa_Zulu2

As you can see, went with an action shot, paired the color of the print to match the most eye-drawing color there (orange-red), and made the background solid black to bring out the surrounding darkness, and kept the borders olive green.  I do wonder if I should change those, or ditch them altogether. They are different from the first installment which had no borders at all, but I do question my obsession with them for this book!

So what do you fine folks think? Door number one, door number two, or door number three? Always good to have at least three options. And just for fun, I’ll put it all in poll so people can just point and click. But of course, if you have any additional comments or want to say why you think one is better than the others, please do so…


And to all my fine, zombie-smashing friends who are participating in the Zombie Warrior challenge and creating a character who will one day appear in this series, remember the most important rule of all:

zombie_keepcalm

More Reviews Are In!

Whiskey_Delta

Hi folks. As the title suggests, more reviews have come in for Whiskey Delta and the sale figures are going up! Unfortunately, that’s where the good news ends. Of those buyers who chose to offer opinions about my book, the same combination of “good story, but needs some serious editing” was apparent in their comments.

Here’s what the latest reviewers had to say (note the first review has been shortened due to it being very wordy!):

An exciting and well told story (4.0 out of 5 stars):
This is a great book – exciting storyline driven by gripping and well laid out plot lines that keep the reader ‘on the edge of their seats’ right to the end. Even better is the superb characterization of the two main characters and also the driver Whitman, however, considering the small number of characters in the book, I thought the author could have spent a bit of extra ‘fleshing’ out of some of the others a bit more.

The reason the book was a four star not a five star, was that it had simply the worst editing I have come across on Kindle and I am not someone who cares that much about the odd misspelling or use of ‘their’ when you mean ‘there’ and so on as I am usually so lost in the story I barely notice… I must say though, that I am very happy that I did overcome my ‘scruples’ and bought the book in the end as the story was completely riveting from start to finish and the writing itself – aside from typos and little slip ups are all forgotten when caught up in the thrilling ride the author takes you on. Highly recommend it.

Not bad huh? The full length comment contained traces of displeasure about the lack of editing, but the overall feeling is that I wrote something pretty good. Well get a load of what this guy had to say:

Not a grammar Nazi but…, (2.0 out of 5 stars)
By Heuchler:
Thought it was a decent story, but the editing or the lack thereof killed it for me. Ever dozen pages seems to have a spelling or grammar mistake. Even basic things that could be caught with spell-check are there, which leaves me wondering how they were not caught.

Again, not to be petty, but the “not grammar Nazi” made some typos of his own there. And I know I’m going to hell for saying this, but with a name like Heuchler, that last thing you want to make is a Nazi reference!

Still, after reading these, it tore it for me. Whiskey Delta needs to be cleaned up and re-released! The public is speaking with one voice on this, and those who are giving it low marks are starting to bring down the overall rating. As it stands, WD is ranked 3.0 stars out of 5 and that’s just not acceptable. For any indie looking to establish a reputation and garner sales, a 3.5 or higher seems like the desirable place to be in.

What’s more, three copies have been returned after purchase. I can only assume they started reading and were deterred by the errors. And though this represents a mere 1% margin, it doesn’t seem too acceptable to me at this juncture. Barring accidental purchases, every copy sold should stay sold, in my opinion.

Lucky for me, I won’t have to take it down to fix it up, but it will mean the updated version will be clearer and (hopefully) polished whereas the ones that are currently selling will not. I can live with that, and hope the market won’t really notice much. Right now, the sales and positive reviews have me highly jazzed about prepping and releasing the second installment and working on the third. But for that to work, I need the first installment to be as good as it can be and get better reviews.