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:

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Zombie Warriors: Apparel and Melee Weapons

apoc_soldiersFirst up, is the question of apparel, what you intent to be wearing when the fight begins…

Apparel:
As we all know, taking on zombies is a matter of protection as much as firepower. Nobody wants to step into the middle of the apocalypse naked or clothed in their basic street wear, especially if they dressed light! In addition, you also have to think about mobility, both in the getting around sense and the ability to move your limbs with comfort and ease. If you’re weight down, you’re likely to become a zombie’s meal. Using your physique as a template, select from the following items to see which would best suit you, taking into account various mobility and protection factors.

Body Armor:
Pros: Military issue body armor has a number of advantages when it comes to fighting zombies. For one, its loaded with kevlar plates that a zombie is going to have a hell of a time ripping through. Second, it covers your vitals, shoulders, crotch and neck from bites, while leaving your arms relatively free to fight. It’s also lightweight, which is handy since mobility is key in a zombie fight.

Cons: However, the downside to this armor is that it doesn’t provide protection for your limbs, which are often what the zombies go for. So in a close fight, you’ll have to keep moving to avoid that fatal bite and/or scratch. What’s more, it can constrict your mobility just enough to be considered an impediment. It’s great for protecting against bullet-fire. but in melee combat, it’s protection is limited. But of course, not all your enemies may be zombies. Just in case you have to go up against other hunters or certain “Governor” type forces, this suit could come in handy…

Fatigues:
Pros: If you’re looking for something loose-fitting and made for getting around, look no further! Army fatigues were specifically designed to give soldiers a full range of motion, which includes marching, running, shooting, hand-to-hand fighting, even rappelling. And the stitching ensures that you won’t have any embarrassing rip ups! What’s more, it covers your entire body which is great protection against zombie scratches.

Cons: However, the protection factor does not reach very far beyond that. The fabric is not strong enough to protect against bites, and a committed undead will be able to tear off a sleeve or a pant leg without too much effort. So while it’s great for mobility, don’t count on it saving your life when you’re in the thick of it!

Hooded Cloak:
Pros: True, the main advantages here are cosmetic, but damn it if those don’t count for something! Like Michonne’s mysterious cloak, this gives any zombie fighter that je ne sais quoi, that undefinable quality that makes others not want to mess with them. What’s more, its good cover for a sword or small arms weapon, which can come in handy when going up against the walking dead. And the cloak can even act as a weapon itself if its wearer is quick and uses the lapels to distract their opponent and then deliver fatal stabs.

Cons: Downsides are obvious. The cloak can be a liability when it comes to running and fighting. While it can conceal your face and give you a certain mystique, it can also get in the way in the middle of a fight. And of course, zombies can easily find their way inside it and get at your flesh. As your mamma may have told you when you were a kid “looking cool isn’t always smart”.

Kevlar Vest:
Pros: One has to assume that in the event of a zombie apocalypse, police gear will be suddenly available for civilian use, especially if you know the police HQ has been overrun. And as far as protection and mobility go, a Kevlar vest is not a bad option. While it may not provide any arm, leg, shoulder or neck protection, it still ensures that your midsection is well defended against clawing, biting zombies who would just love to get at your organs. What’s more, it does not constrict your mobility or weight you down.

Cons: But alas, armoring your midsection and leaving the extremities exposed might leave you wanting. Much like the full suit of Kevlar, this option is only partially suited to close encounters with zombies, but highly useful against opponents who have access to firearms. Again, it’s important to keep in mind that not all your troubles will stem from the undead.

Powered Armor:
Pros: When it comes to combining armored protection with enhanced strength and speed, the powered armor suit is the absolute tops! In addition to boasting armor plates in all the right places, it gives the wearer the ability to wield a power punch that could knock off a zombie’s head! And the enhanced leg strength allows for speedier running and higher jumping, which comes in handy in a pinch!

Cons: The armor suit has some drawbacks vis a vis its enhanced power, in that it requires you to wind up and let loose. If and when you find yourself set upon by hungry zombies, you won’t have the space to deliver a blow. And in this instance, the suit’s weight and armor can become a liability as well, proving heavy and cumbersome, and hence restrictive to movement.

Riot Gear:
Pros: Another police issue, the riot gear outfit is perhaps the best armor option available to the zombie hunter. Made up of Kevlar, plastic and fabric that covers your core, shoulders, arms, legs, and head, this suit has all your bases covered. Unless they are able to swarm you, zombies will have a hell of a time finding their way through this suit or armor. If you’ve read the Walking Dead comic or seen 28 Days Later, you know just how effective this suit can be.

Cons: But of course, the likelihood of being swarmed increases exponentially when wearing this suit. Although the wearer is a veritable walking tank, running is very difficult in it and mobility is highly constricted. And in the end, some areas are still exposed to zombies clever enough to find them, such as your armpits, neck and chin. These, they’ll only find if they really search for them, but if and when they get you cornered, expect them to try!

Melee Weapons:
No zombie warrior is fully equipped without a melee weapon, which is both a weapon of last resort and a way to dispatch the undead in a way that is quiet, and up close and personal! Not only do melee weapons not run out of ammo, they do not make a significant amount of noise which will attract more zombies to your location. Just remember, the bigger and more deadly the weapon, the harder its going to be to keep swinging it. Choose wisely!

Axe:
axePros: As zombie-smashers go, an axe is a pretty popular option. A solid blow from one of these is sure to split a zombies head in half, and the size and weight are still manageable. This balance of size, weight and killing power make it a weapon that can be swung for awhile before the user will succumb to exhaustion, and the odds of it breaking on you are quite minimal.

Cons: Only downside is that this weapon is capable of getting stuck in a zombie’s face after its been used to split their skull. This can really screw you in a pitch battle where multiple swings are needed to dispatch wave after wave of incoming undead.

Baseball Bat:
baseball_batPros: Perhaps the most popular option for zombie-smashing, the baseball bat offers numerous advantages in a small, lightweight package. The blunt force trauma from a few good swings is likely to be fatal, and since zombie heads are often softened by necrosis, a single good swing can often deal death on them.

Cons: Only downside to a baseball bat is that extended use can break them. Being small and lightweight, repeated blows to zombie skulls can lead to a breakage.

Hammer:
hammerPros: Another favorite of the veteran zombie warrior, the modern hammer offers a lot of killing power in a tiny package. Especially the all-metal variant, this melee weapon is a boon at close range since it can offer blunt-force trauma from the head or punctures from the clawed edge.

Cons: A small weapon, a hammer is heavily reliant on the one who swings it. A good strong arm can wield it for extended periods of time and send zombie after zombie to the grave for good. But in the hands of a smaller person, it’s likely to have limited power.

Katana:
katanaPros: An ancient and powerful weapon, the katana offers zombie-hunters quite a few advantages, and makes the wielder look pretty damn cool in the process! The solid blade, sharp edge, and manageable weight give it some pretty awesome killing power. Not only is it capable of hewing off limbs with ease, an overhead blow can split a zombie skull in half.

Cons: But of course, the katana is not for everyone. Like all swords, it requires some training before it can be used effectively and efficiently. Its not like other melee weapons that can simple be picked up and swung willy-nilly. And those who try are likely to hurt themselves or make a mess of things!

Ka-Bar:
Ka-barPros: The standard issue of the Marine Corps, the Ka-Bar knife is an effective killing tool when re-purposed for zombie-hunting. Lightweight, easily wielded, and very portable, this knife is sharp enough to slice through any necrotic tissue, and the sturdy blade has been known to be able to punch through skull.

Cons: One downside to the knife is that it is not designed for repeated skull-stabbing. Using it in this way can lead to breakage or loss, especially if the weapon gets stuck in a zombie’s skull. The best option is to find another route to the zombie’s brain and stab there.

Longsword:
longswordPros: A one-handed medieval recreation, the longsword is an effective zombie-killing tool in the modern age. Made of tempered steel, razor-sharp, and possessing a few good pounds of weight, a single blow is likely to split a skull or remove a head with ease. At the same time, it is easy enough to wield with one hand.

Cons: Some training required, and given the balance of weight and the fact that it’s one-handed weapon, its really only useful in the hands of someone strong enough who can comfortably swing a five pound weight without getting overtired. Much like the katana, the weapon is not for everybody.

Machete:
machetePros: Lightweight, easy to wield and sharp as hell, the machete is perhaps the most balanced weapon in the zombie-hunter’s arsenal. As an edged weapon, it possesses many of the advantages of a sword, but its smaller size and lighter weight make it far more portable and much easier to wield.

Cons: Interestingly enough, the advantages of this weapon also present some downsides. The lighter weight and small size means it has less killing power than a larger, heavier edged weapon. While a good blow is likely to take off a zombie head or hew a limb, its more likely to get stuck and has a shorter effective swinging range.

Truncheon:
truncheon
Pros: Another blunt-force trauma weapon, the truncheon is a common law enforcement tool that is popular when re-purposed for zombie-killing. Composed of metal, collapsible, and easy to swing, the truncheon is very handy in a close fight with a horde of undead. It can also be used for extended periods of time with little training and requires little upper body strength, making it highly versatile as well.

Cons: Unlike other blunt-force trauma weapons, this small and lightweight weapon is not likely to smash a skull with a single blow. While useful when deployed against a person, zombies feel no pain and aren’t deterred by stinging blows. Lucky for users that its light, because many swings will be needed to take your enemy down!

Time to pick and choose folks! Get your gear on and select your zombie-smasher of choice. And stay tuned for the next few posts in my series of Zombie Warriors! Next up, we talk about guns and ranged weapons! The zombie apocalypse doesn’t stand a chance!

Calling All Zombie Warriors!

Hello again my friends! After the success of the Revengers, the superhero league I formed and invited people to join, I began thinking about other groups I could start. And the next likely option seemed obvious: a league of zombie hunting warriors! I choose this in part because of some posts I did awhile back about different classes of zombie fighting weapons, but also in honor of Whiskey Delta’s sales record, which is nearing 850!

So in the coming days, I will posting lists of possible equipment and weapons specifically selected for the zombie apocalypse. I invite all of you, the readers, to select items from among said lists and use them to create your own unique character. I will post rules as we go, but I figure a system where you have a limited number of items based on size, weight, etc, would be the choice approach.

And of course, you can make up names for yourself and even back stories. Where were you when the zombie apocalypse happened? How did you come to find your current group of fellow fighters? And what’s your hope in fighting this zombie war? Are you fighting to protect the ones you have left, avenge the ones you lost, preserve the basic decency of mankind, start a new home, or just ensure that the strongest survive? As you may have guessed, much of this comes from the Walking Dead comic/TV series, which I highly recommend reading/watching for anyone interested in taking up the zombie fight!

So the way I see it, any choice of gear for the zombie warrior will need to break down into the following categories:

Apparel:
When fighting the undead hordes, your choice of outfit counts for a lot. If you plan on standing your ground, you’ll need something that can keep your flesh covered from biting teeth and scratching nails. If you plan on outrunning them, you’ll need to dress light. So choose wisely, knowing that your choice of clothing/body armor is the first step in choosing what kind of fighter you want to be.

Primary Weapon:
The mainstay and trusty workhorse of the zombie killer! This can be a shotgun, assault rifle, sniper rifle, bow and arrow, and any other form of ranged weapon. The key word here is primary, meaning its got to have the most bang for its buck and designed to kill at a respectable distance. So what matters here overall is the special balance of ammo capacity, range, stopping power and portability.

Secondary Weapon:
This is your fallback in case you run out of ammo, lose your primary, or just find yourself in a corner and don’t have time to reload. This is generally a handgun, but that provides a wide range of possibilities, including revolvers, automatics, or personal defense weapons. Of particular concern here is the ease with which you can get the weapon handy, how much killing power it will give you at close range, and just many bullets you can get on target before you run out and have to use your weapon of last resort.

Melee Weapon:
The weapon of last resort, or just the weapon you use when you want to be discreet, quick, and not draw attention to yourself. What matters here is zombie smashing power, the ability to either chop off heads or bash brains with relative ease! So your options are likely to include a baseball bat, axe, combat knife, machete, chainsaw or even a sword. Again, portability is a concern too, something that can fit on your person without getting in the way or slowing you down.

Detailed lists of options for each category will be coming in the next few days. Pick one of each, and then you are good to go! And as an added bonus, those characters that are created here will have the chance of being featured in the upcoming third installment of my zombie series, Alpha Mike!

The Birth of an Idea: “Alpha Mike”

Zombie Apocalypse by geodex
Zombie Apocalypse by geodex

I love it when an idea comes together! And what started as an experiment into zombie lit back in March of 2012 is coming together at last with a third and final installment. Yep, after a few weeks of hiatus, I’ve managed to finish my preliminary draft for the third act of Whiskey Delta, which I have decided to name Alpha Mike. Like the previous two installments, the name is an acronym based on the NATO phonetic alphabet.

And as with the previous two novels, this acronym has special significance. To break it down succinctly:

Whiskey Delta = WD = Walking Dead

Pappa Zulu = PZ = Patient Zero

Alpha Mike = AM = Ambulus Mortus

In each chapter, the name refers to the overriding theme of the story. Whereas Act I in any story is all about introductions, I chose to name in honor of the term used by the main characters to designate their enemy. In Act II, the war took a different coarse, as a new enemy emerged that wanted control over the cure. As such, this story was named after the first man infected by the virus – aka. Mance Harmonn, Patient Zero.

And for the final act of the trilogy, I chose the name of the virus itself. Those who have been following this series will (hopefully) recognize it as the Latin designation which literally translates to “walking dead”. Since the final installment will focus on bringing the war in its entirety to a close, I could think of no better name for it. For as the Mage, a central figure in the story, will be quoted as saying:

This is a war unlike any other in our history. We fight not against men or nations, not for spoils, honor, or revenge. Ours is a war against a contagion, an infection which turns our own against us and corrupts all life. Ours is a war against fear, chaos, despair, and death itself.

I plan to begin work on it just as soon as this season of the Walking Dead is over and I finish my work on a few outstanding projects. These would include “Arrivals”, my last contribution to the Yuva anthology, and editing Rami’s story Reborn City. Those are in various stages of completion and I shall not risk getting distracted at this point! As they say (or maybe I just made it up), overbooking is the enemy of completion!

So if you’re into zombie lit and liked the previous two, expect new chapters coming soon! As usual, they stand to be packed with plenty of zombie-smashing action, military misadventure, and post-apocalyptic goodness. Just watch for the title, Alpha Mike!

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