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.

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 Now a Double Novel!

Hmm, I think that title might be a bit misleading. What I mean to say is that my serial novel – Whiskey Delta – which I’ve been posting for the last few months, is now officially twice the prescribed length of a novel. Yes, according to the Science Fiction and Fantasy Novel Writers of America, a novel is any work that is 40,000 words or higher in length. And, as of my last count, Whiskey Delta weighed in at a hefty 82,675 words.

I was really kinda hoping this novel might be the exception that proved the rule. Instead, it’s just reinforced the rule! The rule being that I love to go on and on and can always find a reason to say more, write more, and keep going until they turn the lights off. But some people seem to like what I’m doing with it – you know who you are! – so I plan to finish it forthwith, and word counts be damned!

Speaking of which, it is only a few chapters short of completion. And once it is finished, I will be placing all chapters into a single compendium, tidying it up a bit, and of course, adding more chapters! Yes, after reviewing much of what I wrote I felt some pacing chapters and background might be needed for the sake of turning it into a true novel, and not the sort of thing people read in installments. Brevity, thy name is not Matthew, Williams, or any combination thereof!

I hope people will look for it once it’s complete, and will stay tuned for more on the Whiskey Delta front. Once the first novel is finished, I plan to begin work on the sequel: Pappa Zulu! Yep, I figure whereas the first book was all about the war on the zombies and the mission to find Patient Zero, book two will deal with the race to find a cure, and answer some mysteries that were laid out in the first. For one, it will become clear that the “Mage” is not all that he appears, and that he may have an agenda which goes far beyond fighting the dreaded undead. And of course, the main characters will be back for more action, once they heal from all the wounds I gave them.

Onto more writing and more zombie fiction! Stay tuned, and thanks to all those who have made a point of following my first serial novel on this site. Can’t imagine I could have done it without your support, encouragement and constructive criticism, and I don’t care to either 😉

Whiskey Delta

Night_vision1“Ambulans mortuus: noun. Lit. “moving dead” (lat.). A viral strain that appeared in Western Hemisphere in the early 21st century. Origin unknown. Characterized by high fever and death in infected subjects, followed by reanimation and extremely violent behavior. No known cure.”

-Merriam-Webster Dictionary. 2021 Edition.

Green and black. Always the same. Nothing ever looked different through NVGs. No other hues, just different grades of green and black. Some brilliant, some muted, but it didn’t matter. At night, all that mattered was what moved, and these days, it moved en masse.

Dezba lowered his scope and rubbed his eyes. After minutes spent looking at the green and black, even pitch black looked good. Less eerie, less filtered, less fake. The arms also had a way of stiffening after holding up an A1 for minutes at a time.

The headset crackled, the voice calling on over the squad’s general frequency.

“Hold your position. Keep your eyes peeled.”

He heard a sigh from beside him. At the other side of the foxhole, Mill was also taking a break. In his case it was to stretch his neck.

“Are we even sure about this intel?”

“The Mage said it’s tight, so it’s tight,” he replied, repeating the mantra. That seemed to be enough, since Mill went right back to sighting down his gun again.

Bringing the scope back into place, he got another eerie view of the landscape. There were the glowing patches nearest them, bright from the moonlight, and only small slices of black where shrubs cast their shadows. He scanned slowly left and then right, checking out the side scenery. He spotted the other shining Humvees, the LAV, and the other foxholes that were cast in grey. Plenty of mottled green helmets and dark weapons profiles filled them.

Beyond them was the relative dead of night and the line of Ponderosa pines that was black except for the few spots where the canopy opened to let things through. Not much seemed to be going on in there, but they wouldn’t know that for sure until it chose to step into open…

He looked back to the roadway next; the thin stretch of dirt and gravel that the old man said was their spot. Others had dismissed him as a coot, somebody who had nothing better to do but tell stories of doom and apocalypse. But the Mage thought otherwise.

For months now, they’d been spotting Whiskey’s inside the perimeter. Somehow, somewhere, they were making it through to 2nd Rattlesnake’s territory. Preying on the livestock and scaring the good folks, making them think their children would be next. No one knew where they were getting through, but where that was, it had to be sealed.

This place, he reasoned was the perfect spot for the Whiskeys to be walking in. Inconspicuous, unimportant, and with a natural canopy that made it inaccessible to the UAV’s. No one suspected that the Whiskeys were capable of reasoning that out, but it made sense to the Mage. The man’s word was law so long as they they had to contend with the presence of those walking nightmares.

And so, 2nd Battalion was sent in. No mistakes, no mercy. The Rattlesnake would bight back hard tonight. Assuming, of course, there was anything to bite at.

The call came in. “Eyes up”.

Dezba’s raised his gun into position. His heart began to pound and his hands tightened around the grips. Slowly, he scanned the horizon. No signs of movement. Mill didn’t see any either.

“Where are they?”

“I don’t see em,” said Dezba.

“What, man, I thought you Hopi fuckers could smell an enemy a mile away.”

Dezba smiled. “Wrong nation, asshole.”

He scanned left. Something seemed to be moving by the tree line. He sucked in a breath and centered the scope there. Another stirring. The bushes at the edge were moving.

Damn coyotes, he thought. If they had come all this way because of some mangy little scavengers, plenty of people would be pissed. Not the least of which would be himself. And while they waited, the real hole in their line might very well be filling with Whiskeys, on their way in towards town to find fresh victims. Tonight might even be the night that the damn things escalated and grabbed someone’s kid.

“Contact,” the Captain’s said, deep and low. He had to be right. He never lowered his voice except in the presence of the enemy. Somehow, knowing they were out there made him speak cautiously, like he worried they’d hear him.

Mill began to scan around too, moving his weapon back and forth. There was no time to reprimand him for breaking the basic rule. You move your head, not your SAW. One of the first things they taught you in basic. Spot your target, then point and shoot. Waving was for FNGs and fucking civilians.

“Shit… where?” Mill whispered. Dezba was wondering himself. As if on cue, the next call came in.

“Eleven o’clock level, in the treeline, coming towards the dirt road.”

Dezba zeroed in with his scope. He nearly swore out loud when he saw the hovering pair of eyes float into his field of view. Somehow, those eyes… they always glowed green through NV. He had never seen anybody else’s eyes do that before. Even coyotes didn’t get that sheen, and they glowed just fine in ambient light. Something about those dead, milky globes just loved to show up on night vision though.

By now, they were making their way out of the forest and into the moonlight. He had to zoom out just to get an idea of how many there really were. Luckily, the LT had a count ready just then.

“Whiskey Deltas at five hundred meters. Count two dozen plus Tangos, more coming…”

Sure enough, more followed. They moved slowly, as usual, but were gradually converging on the dirt road. Just like the old man said. Seems he was a lot less crazy than people suspected, and the Mage had been right once more…

“Standby,” the Captain ordered. Dezba did a quick check just to make sure his safety was off. At times like this, leaving it on could was just as deadly as forgetting to put it on when stowing it. With what he knew to be an armed rifle, he watched the glowing ghouls walk until they reached the road. Well over two dozen passed from the treeline, and more were coming…

 “Standby,” the Captain repeated, a note of urgency creeping into his voice.

The LAV’s and Humvee’s began moving their turrets into position. Their motors humming happily as their guns and cannons to target the dirt road. He could imagine how the crews felt because he was feeling the same way. They all were. Every finger poised, every heart pounding…

“Get some,” came the order.

Their line erupted in a blaze of muzzle flashes and tracer fire. For several minutes, nighttime disappeared as white phosphorous and hot lead turns the entire filed into another starry sky. The field opposite began kicking up dirt and fleshy bits too. Through his scope, Dezba saw nothing but bright flashes, pausing between shots to make sure his crosshairs were poised over a still-moving Whiskey.

“Get some! Get some!” came the calls over the line. Every soldier screaming into an open line to announce a kill. Dezba watched another one drop. Movement from an arm sent him a few degrees to the right, until he watched it fall and hit the ground. A 20mm round had turned one of them into a limbless freak, but the damn thing was still moving. A well placed sniper round hit it square in the brain pan and sent it to the ground a second later.

“Cease fire! Cease fire!” came the order.

It took a second, but silence overtook them. The last of rifle fire burst like firecrackers in the night, then died out, replaced by the sounds of empty magazines being popped and fresh ones loaded.

“How you doing?” he asked Mill. Mill checked his ammo belt just to be sure.

“Good one-hundred rounds left on this drum.”

Dezba nodded and peered through his scope again. Everyone on the line did the same, staring through whatever Night Vision gear they had on them. All wanted to see what had become of the horde.

“Oh shit!”

Mill saw it through his goggles. Dezba saw it too through the scope.

Milky globes. More of them. Way more…

“Holy shit, why the hell have we stopped firing?”

“Be quiet!” Dezba ordered.

More still came. They didn’t appear too concerned about the pile up of bodies that lay directly in front of them. Only the smell of fresh flesh ever seemed to get them in the killing mood. And they seemed to have that now, judging by the way they were moving right at them…

“Standby…”

Dezba took a deep breath.

“Standby…”

Mill took one too.

“Count four dozen Whiskey Deltas. More on the way. Standby…”

It was the biggest group Dezba had ever seen. This was no mere breach in their perimeter. This was a big ol’ clusterfuck heading their way! Whoever the old man was, he’d be sailing high on a wave of credibility after this, assuming any of them made it home to tell!

“Standby…”

The horde seemed to be picking up speed now. They were onto the smell of fresh flesh. And at least a dozen more moved from the tree-line into the open field. That made at least sixty that were now on the roadway. They moved with a purpose now, just like they had seen in the footage. And at this rate, they’d be upon them in less than a minute. What the hell were they waiting for? They could already see the whites of their eyes!

He could hear voices yelling from the other foxholes, cries of disbelief and panic. And yet, they held their fire, waiting for the order. The Mage didn’t tolerate no wayward scum in his battalion.

“Get some!”

The Lieutenant didn’t even need the coms this time. He yelled it loud enough for everyone to hear from his Humvee, and everyone happily obliged. Their line opened up again and another hail of glowing metal began to litter the field with bodies. Between the constant drum of Mill’s Saw and Dezba’s own rifle firing in three round bursts, all his ears should have been able to register was the steady thump, thump, thump of the LAV’s cannons.

And yet, there was something else approaching. A different kind of thumping accompanied by the high pitched whine of jet engines.  Dezba looked to the sky but couldn’t see a thing with the trees over their heads. But he heard it, the unmistakable sound of Cobras. And soon, he could hear their guns mowing too! Everybody else seemed to as well, because a cheer began to go up all along the line.

The only ones who didn’t know what hit them were the Whiskey’s. They continued to run, right through a hail of metal which began to chew them to pieces. Given the size of the bullets and the rate at which they slammed into them, no head shots were necessary. Every bastard who was hit was down for good.

And that’s when they let the rockets fly. The Platoon hollered once more as the night was lit up by fiery HE rounds exploding into the Earth and turning anything still moving into mush. The yelling kept up even as the thunderclap subsided and the coms became active.

“Viper, be advised, Voodoos are on station and bringing in air support, over.”

 The Lieutenant signaled back, his voice grateful and jovial.

“Voodoo, this is Viper actual. Damn glad to see you guys, over.”

There was what sounded like a chuckle at the other end, followed by more of the airman’s measured tone.

“We have eyes on target area, Viper. No further movement or indications of infiltration. Returning to base, over.”

“Roger that, Voodoo, thanks for the assist!”

The sound of rotors began to fade into the distance. Dezba could hear himself breathing again and realized he was breathing pretty hard. His heart was moving pretty fast as well. It couldn’t be helped. What started as a simple tip had turned into the biggest firefight of his career; the biggest of anyone’s on the line, he guessed.

“Shit,” Mill said, pointing to the tree line opposite them. “Look at that.”

Dezba looked across the field, saw nothing except from some flaming bushes and plenty of chunked up Earth. Mill could tell he wasn’t seeing it.

“No, further man. Use the scope. I see fires over at the forest there.”

Dezba raised the Starlight and saw what he meant. From the looks of it, some of the Cobra’s fire had caught on some of the trees. Mainly underbrush was catching, but chances were, it would be a full flame-up by morning. The entire field of Ponderosa’s would be nothing but ash.

“Relax, Gordy,” he said. “Fire’s good. Fire cleans up a Whiskey’s mess. By morning, any undead fuckers in there will be toasted!”

Mill scoffed. “Too bad we can’t eat em!”