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Fast Zombies vs. Slow Zombies

There’s a debate that occurs among zombies fans about whether the undead creatures should be portrayed as fast or slow moving.

The purists claim that since zombies are corpses that have risen from the dead, they can’t move fast. Their bodies are slowly deteriorating, so it’s impossible for them to move with ease or quickness. The danger from these zombies comes from the fact that they are vast in number and have a habit of surrounding their victims.

These zombies are often referred to as “Romero zombies” because they were first introduced in 1968 with George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead. Since then, they have become the standard for the undead. Those on the slow side of the debate claim that the only true zombies are the Romero zombies.

Fast zombies were first introduced in 2002 in the movie 28 Days Later. They were thought to be more terrifying because they were harder to get away from. But there are some that claim they aren’t true zombies.

Fast zombies gained more popularity with the release of World War Z in 2013. Again, purists claim that these aren’t true zombies.

Honestly, I can see where the argument comes from. After all, in both of these films, they never claim that these creatures are actually dead; they have just become infected with a virus.  If the most simple definition of a zombie is a corpse that has been reanimated, they probably don’t fall into the zombie category.

However, part of the reason a zombie is a zombie is because they lose their ability to think and make their own decisions; they are often driven by primal instincts.  In the case of most zombie films, that instinct in the desire to feed.  Whether that is caused by a virus or space radiation doesn’t really matter.

Personally, I like both the fast zombie and the slow zombie. They both have their place in the zombie narrative, and they both function to scare the crap out of us. However, in my zombie books Life After the Undead and Death to the Undead (coming in February), I stay true to the Romero zombies and make mine slow.

Do you have a preference on whether or not your zombies are fast or slow?

I’m on Winter Break!

Before I get into my post, business first. Here are the winners of the Christmas Treats Giveaway Hop: everyone who commented. Thank you so much for participating! I’m glad you could be part of the fun!

Now that that’s out of the way, I’m off all week on vacation. It’s one of the wonderful things about my job. I have so many plans for this week, including writing, painting the inside of my house, and general laziness.

It’s possible that some, all, or none of these things will get done in the next few days. But I’m okay with that. I’m happy to just go with the flow and see how things work out.

Christmas was great. We spent a lot of time with family and friends and ate some amazing food. I have to say, though, I’m not sad that it’s over. It’s a stressful time for me (as it is for a lot of people), so I really look forward to just being done with it. The boys were happy and thrilled to be able to open their presents. Seeing their excitement and wonder makes it worth it.

At some point this week, the kids want to get out and have some fun, so we’ll make time for that. We got tickets to see the new Star Wars movie, so we’ll be going on New Year’s Day to check that out.

I’m really looking forward to some downtime. I’m hoping to de-stress and make a plan for 2016. I have high hopes for this next year. Not that 2015 was bad--it was a year--but I’m excited to see what the future holds.

What about the rest of you? How were your holidays? Do you get any time off?

More Zombies Are Coming...

Did you read Life After the Undead? Did you find yourself thinking, What? This can’t be over. There’s so many questions that need answered!

Well, don’t fret. The answers are coming. On February 16, 2016.

Death to the Undead.

Seventeen-year-old Krista has already proven she can survive the zombie hordes.

After moving to North Platte with her distant cousin General Liet to help build a wall that will keep the zombies in the West, it becomes apparent that the zombies aren’t the biggest threat—some survivors are far more dangerous than Krista had ever imagined.

With the help of Quinn, a survivor and fighter from the zombie-infested wildlands of the West, they free the garrison at North Platte from the power-hungry Liet. But there is a bigger battle to fight.

The Families who rule Florida and use intimidation and the threat of the zombie horde to coerce their territory want Krista and Quinn captured, the zombies want to devour them, and other survivors want them dead. Caught between powerful forces, will they survive long enough to devise a new plan and put it into action? Or will they self-destruct?

Find out in book two of this thrilling apocalyptic series by author Pembroke Sinclair.

And if you haven’t read Life After the Undead, what are you waiting for?

"A must read for those looking for a fun and different read in the world of zombie fiction." --Eric S. Brown, author of Bigfoot War and Kaiju Apocalypse

Seventeen-year-old Krista must quickly figure out how she's going to survive in the zombie-destroyed world. The one advantage humans have is that the zombies hate humid environments, so they're migrating west to escape its deteriorating effects. The survivors plan to construct a wall at North Platte to keep the undead out, and Krista has come to Nebraska to start a new life.

Zombies aren't the only creatures she has to be cautious of--the other survivors have a dark side. Krista must fight not only to live but also to defend everything she holds dear--her country, her freedom, and ultimately, those she loves.

Join Krista in her quest to survive in this thrilling apocalyptic novel by Pembroke Sinclair.

You Have to Work…Hard

The other weekend, I was laying in bed trying to wake up from a nap, and my oldest was on the floor petting one of the dogs. I was getting ready to do a Facebook takeover for one of my books, and he looks at me and says, “I don’t get it. We write books, why aren’t we famous?”

Oh, wouldn’t that be nice? That just creating something and putting it into the world made you famous? It would certainly make things easier.

I explained to him that just because something exists doesn’t mean that people know about it and to be famous they have to know about it and like it. Perhaps even buy it.

He still didn’t get it. He still believed we should be famous.

If there’s one thing I try to instill in my boys it’s a work ethic and the idea that nothing in life comes easy, nothing gets handed to them. I tell them that they have to work for everything they get, but with that comes a sense of accomplishment and pride.

Don’t get me wrong, if there was an easy way to do things, I would totally take it. It’s exhausting working hard. And more often than not, the hard work doesn’t pay off. There’s a lot of frustration and irritation. The world tries to stand in my way. People try to stand in my way. I stand in my way.

There have been days when I’ve wished for an easy way and cursed the world when I didn’t get it. I’ve stamped my feet and threw a temper tantrum, said it wasn’t fair, and cried tears of frustration. I felt better after venting, but I also knew that there was only one person who could change the situation…me.

I’ve worked hard to get where I’m at in life and as an author. I’ve been knocked down and had my self-confidence fail. I’ve become jaded and angry about my path. I’ve wondered if any of it was worth it. I’ve blamed others for my short comings.

I’m not special. I’m just an average Jane trying to make a name for myself. I have a family and a full-time job and people who count on me to be there. They all have visions of who I should be, and I have a vision of what I think I should be too—and often, those visions aren’t the same.

But I’ve discovered that I can be one thing AND another. I’m not just a mother or an editor or a writer or a whatever-other-label can be applied. I’m all of those things. And to make them balance harmoniously, it takes work. Lots and lots of exhausting, hard work.

The road is long and often filled with disappointment, but those moments when things work out and I accomplish what I wanted to accomplish—those are amazing! They push me forward and help me believe that maybe my dreams aren’t crazy. And they totally make me feel accomplished.

I told my son that if we keep working and putting ourselves out there, then maybe one day we will be famous. But there’s no guarantees. All we can do is try.

Christmas Treats Giveaway Hop

What are our favorite Christmas Treats? Books, of course! Stop by each blog for a chance to win fabulous books and gifties for the Holidays!

I'm really looking forward to curling up with some good zombie books over the holiday season. I know it doesn't seem "Christmas-y," but they are what I like to read and what makes me happy. 

What types of books make you happy?

If it's young adult zombie books, I have one that I'm giving away.  For a chance to win an ecopy of Life After the Undead, please comment below and let me know!  Please don't forget to leave your email address so I can get a hold of you.

Maybe zombies aren't your thing.  Maybe you prefer demons.  If so, I'm happily giving away ecopies of the Road to Salvation series (three books: The Appeal of Evil, Dealing with Devils, and Good Intentions).  Let me know if this is your preference!  Again, leave a comment below with a way for me to get a hold of you.

I hope you all have an amazing holiday!

Right Around the Corner

Is it just me, or is anyone else amazed that Christmas is next week? Seriously, where did the time go? This year has just flown by!

I’m really looking forward to the time off I get at the holidays. I have a lot of stuff that needs to be done, but I also need a chance to recharge. It’s been a bit crazy lately—and not always in a good way. Being able to step back and take some time to reflect is really what I need.

I’m also looking forward to spending time with the family. That always helps sooth the soul.

I hope that the rest of you are planning on having an amazing holiday. This time of year can be incredibly stressful and emotionally draining, but I hope you can find some moments of peace and happiness. Hang onto those and let them fill you and sustain you. And take the time to slow down. I know I really need that, and I’m really looking forward to being able to breathe again.

Holiday Movies

So last week, my coworkers/friends and I got into a discussion about holiday movies. They were giving me crap because I prefer to watch movies like A Christmas Horror Story (if you’re interested, you can read my review of this movie here) as opposed to something happy and uplifting, but as we talked about it, we realized that the vast majority of holiday movies are actually pretty dark or involve some kind of supernatural creature. Even the classics.

Let’s break them down.

It’s a Wonderful Life: this movie is about a guy who is contemplating committing suicide. Sure, he gets talked about of it by some helpful spirits (an angel), but that’s still pretty dark.

A Christmas Carol: a man is visited by three ghosts who show him the errors of his ways and give him a chance to redeem himself. You have to admit that Death or the Spirit of Christmas Future is pretty dang creepy.

Home Alone: a young kid gets left home alone when his family rushes out to meet their flight, then he has to fight against burglars. What they go through is pretty violent, especially at the hands of a child.

The Nightmare Before Christmas: I feel like this one is self-explanatory.

The Grinch (both the cartoon and the Jim Carrey movie): the Grinch is trying to figure out how to ruin Christmas for the Whos and breaks into their houses to steal their presents. Ummmm, cruel much?

These are just a few examples. I’m sure there are more. And they aren’t even horror films. I can give you a list of those, including Black Christmas, Gremlins, and a series of films called Silent Night—just to name a few.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some feel-good Christmas movies out there, but they still have some dark elements. Even in A Charlie Brown Christmas the other kids make fun of him because of his tree. 

However, I think the point is that we have to look at how bad things can be to be thankful for the good.

And you know what genre does that really well? Horror. They focus on things getting really bad. Horror films definitely know how to make you appreciate the good.

What types of films do you prefer this time of year? Do you have a favorite holiday movie?

Behind the Story: Life After the Undead

Life After the Undead is still ranking on the Amazon charts—which is completely mind blowing—so I thought I would share how the book came about.

I am fascinated with zombies—obsessed, if you will—and I have been since the first time I watched Night of the Living Dead many, many years ago. When I get really stressed out, I often dream of the undead and have to find ways to fight against them. That is where the inspiration for Life After the Undead came from.

The dream occurred several years ago, and while I don’t remember the exact details, I recall that my spouse and I were hiding in a small town while all of the zombies were migrating through. They were heading West so the humidity didn’t cause them to deteriorate faster. I woke up and thought, “Hey, that’s a great idea!” So I fleshed out the story.

It started out as a short story focusing on one small snippet in time. That story was published somewhere (I can’t remember and it’s no longer linked on my blog), and then I decided to expand it into a novel.

The first attempt was an adult novel. I’m fairly certain there were some cuss words in it and a bit more carnage. I decided to send out queries for the story to agents. For the first round, I sent it to 31 agents, all of which rejected it, except one who suggested I turn it into a young adult novel and then resubmit.

So I did. This required me to clean up the language a bit, take out some of the gore (although it still has its fair share), and make my main character a bit more na├»ve. I believe I also changed it from third person to first person. I sent it back in, feeling pretty good, and then she rejected it. But that didn’t discourage me. I sent it out again as a young adult novel.

For the second round, I queried 28 agents, all of whom rejected it. After that, I sent it to a few indie publishers, and one of them picked it up. I met a book cover designer online who painted (honest to goodness painted!) covers, so I commissioned him to create the cover.

The way the deal worked was that he would send the cover idea, then it was up to the publishing company to put on the title and my byline, which they did. The artist was then free to sell the original painting, which he did. However, I decided that I liked it so much I wanted one for my collection, so I asked him to create me another with my title and byline on it. It wasn’t something he normally did, but he did it for me. The painting proudly hangs in my house.

Life After the Undead is one of my favorite stories. One of the things I like so much about zombies is that they allow me to explore the question of what it means to be human. That’s a theme that runs through a lot of my books. Plus, I just really like zombies.

As the years went by, I wanted to breathe some life back into the story (pun intended), so I decided to republish with another publishing house. This allowed me to go back and make edits, expand the story and take out some things that bothered me, and I got a new cover. 

It was a lot of fun to go back and reread the story and make changes. I’m feeling pretty good about the story, and I think it’s closer to my vision of how I originally imagined it. Every time I reread it, I find a new aspect that makes me enjoy the story all over again. I would have imagined that after all this time and changes the story would get old, but it hasn’t. It’s still one of my favorites.

Dog Worms

One of the best things about living in the same town as my family is that we don’t have to travel very far for the holidays. We also don’t have to worry about the dogs—either taking them or boarding them. They get to hang out at home.

Every so often, I get this idea in my head that the Corgis don’t want to be in the box of shame (aka their kennels) and they should have a chance to stretch their stubby legs. I’ll put up a gate at the end of the hall, close all the doors to our bedrooms and the bathroom, and let them roam. I don’t know why I feel like they need to do this. I mean, Floki is an escape artist, so more often than not, he’ll either climb over the gate or plow his way through it.

Well, Thanksgiving was one of those times I decided they could be in the hallway. For the morning, they were fine. They stayed behind the gate and seemed to have a great time. When I checked on them that afternoon and let them out to go potty, all was well. That wasn’t true when we got home.

By that time, Floki had decided he was done being in the hallway and wanted to see how much mayhem and destruction he could cause in the rest of the house. He plowed through the gate and got into what he could. In the scheme of his destruction, he didn’t make an overly huge mess, but it was big enough.

As I was feeding them that night, I noticed that Floki wasn’t falling face first into his food like he normally does. I pointed at him and asked, “Did you eat something that upset your tummy?”

He just looked at me with his adorableness and went for his food.

I didn’t think more of it until later that night when he threw up. It was a huge mess! Seriously, it didn’t seem physically possible that he could have that much stuff in him. The pile was twice his size. On the plus side, though, he puked in the kitchen, so that made cleaning it up easier.

While I was taking care of the mess, I happened to notice pretzel bits in it. Pretzels, I thought. Where did he get pretzels?

And then it hit me: we had a bag of white chocolate covered pretzels that was now missing.

Yeah, I freaked. Chocolate is poison for dogs, and it was obvious he wasn’t exactly being his normal self. I grabbed my phone and typed “dogs and white chocolate” into Google.

Did you know there’s a poison control hotline for dogs? Well, there is. I didn’t wind up calling it because from everything I’d read, it didn’t appear that white chocolate would hurt him. I needed to keep my eye on him, which I planned on doing anyway, but it seemed he would make a full recovery.

Over the weekend, he would throw up sporadically, but he wasn’t acting like he was sick. He would still run around and play, and he was back to scarfing down his food at mealtimes. Still, I was a bit concerned, and I decided if he wasn’t better by Monday, I would take him to the vet.

Monday came and went, and he didn’t get sick again. I was beginning to think we were in the clear. Then, Tuesday morning, at about 3:45 a.m., I heard him in the living room. He had thrown up again. That was it. He was going to the vet. I knew that they would probably want a sample, so I grabbed a baggie and a plastic spoon and set to work to collect it.

And that’s when I saw it: a round, pink worm.

At first, I wasn’t sure I had seen it correctly. It was extremely early in the morning and I didn’t have my glasses on, so maybe it was something else. And dear god! Did it just move?

I put the sample on the counter so I wouldn’t forget it, then went to let the dogs outside. Then, I climbed back into bed and resolved to call the vet at 7:30 when they opened.

Right before I was ready to call them, the boys found another pile of vomit, and this one had an even bigger worm in it. There’s was no way to deny Floki was infected. It was freaking disgusting! I made an appointment for all three dogs to go in that afternoon. If one had worms, more than likely the rest did too.

If you’ve never had the experience of taking three dogs (one of which is a 93.5-pound black lab who is terrible on a leash), a 6 year old, and an 8 year old to the vet, you’re not missing anything. Seriously, I’m convinced it’s a level of Hell. The boys did their best, and I’m really glad they were there to help, but it’s chaos no matter how you slice or dice it.

It started before we even left the house. Floki and Ryder both had collars and leashes, but months earlier, Floki had chewed up Siggy’s harness, and I never got a new one, so she didn’t have one. I figured my youngest could just hold her in the Jeep, then I would grab a leash once we got to the vet.

Well, he couldn’t open the door to the vehicle to climb inside, so he set Siggy on the ground. She, of course, ran off, and she doesn’t come when called. I had to run inside to get her kennel, and once we finally caught her, we had to shove her inside. She’s right on the verge of not fitting into that travel kennel anymore.

Once we got to the vet, the dogs were hyper and bounding around because Weeee! Someplace with lots of smells! Then, when they brought out a dog another customer was picking up from boarding, they lost their minds. The vet’s waiting room has tile floors, so it echoes—loudly. With three dogs barking and an 8 year old yelling at them to be quiet, it was shocking that my ears weren’t bleeding by the time we left.

The dogs were administered their dewormers, which the Corgis ate heartily—pretty sure they didn’t chew the bone-shaped medicine—and then we headed home. Which was much less eventful—thank goodness!

Long story short, Floki picked up roundworms from something in the environment. While it’s fairly common for dogs to get them, it’s still an incredibly disgusting and worrisome endeavor. They can also be transmitted to humans. From the research I did, it sounds like we actually have to ingest them to be infected by them, but I’m keeping a close eye on everyone.

At least now I know why my fur baby was so sick. I worry about them so much, and want to do all I can to keep them safe and to keep them around for a long time—which means Floki and Siggy will be kept in the boxes of shame. No more hall for them.

My Challenges as an Author

One of the biggest challenges I face as an author is marketing myself.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love talking about myself and my work. I love talking about things that I’m passionate about, whether that be my family, my dogs, horror and zombies, or writing. The problem comes in when I try to turn those passions into sales.

To be honest, having a book sale isn’t the be all end all. However, sales are a tangible number that shows exactly what kind of impact my PR campaign had. For some people, it’s the only number that actually counts. There are some who believe that you aren’t a real author unless you have a certain amount of sales. And maybe it’s true. Maybe that is the true benchmark of “making it,” but maybe it’s not. Personally, I believe that we have to set our own standards and measure against those. This is something that is taking me a long time to learn.

When I do my presentations, I don’t even take books to sell. That’s not the reason I’m there. I’m there to have fun and talk about topics I enjoy talking about and maybe teach my audience something they didn’t know.

In some cases, I definitely could have made sales. While at MAPACA, there were several attendees at my panel that wanted copies of my books. They asked if I had any extras, and I didn’t. I even told them flat out that wasn’t my goal. I told them that I was there to meet cool people and geek out. One of them responded with, “You’ve done that, and now I’m missing out on a book that I have to have.”

The sentiment was sweet, and I really appreciated it, but it didn’t change the fact that I hadn’t brought any books to sell. Did they get online later and order my books? Maybe. It’s hard to say. I hope so, but without asking directly, there’s no way I can know for sure.

While I’m not necessarily the best at marketing myself, that doesn’t mean I’m not willing to try. In addition to my presentations and workshops, I also do blog tours and look for reviewers. I write guest blog posts and I’ve done radio shows. I’ve set up at holiday craft fairs to sell my paperbacks. I’m always trying to brainstorm ideas of how to get my work into the world.

Sometimes I’m successful, and sometimes I’m not. And the unsuccessful times can be frustrating and disheartening.

I’m not an optimistic person. For those of you who know me personally, you know that I’m pretty cynical and pessimistic. More often than not, I’ll look at the negative side of things just so I’m not disappointed when things don’t work out well. It’s a way for me to protect myself.

When a marketing campaign doesn’t work out the way I wanted it to, I tell myself that it was to be expected. At times, I even ask myself what I did in a past life to have this kind of karma, then I say, “Past life? It was probably this one.” I let the irritation and disappointment settle into a bitter little ball in my chest, and then I attempt to let it go.

I allow myself to recognize that the situation didn’t work out the way I wanted it to and I allow myself to be upset, but then I try not to dwell on it. I try to look for the good things that happen. After all, the bad can’t happen without the good and vice versa. I live and learn and move on to the next endeavor.

I’m still looking for that magic bullet that is going to catapult me into superstardom and make me a famous author. I keep plugging away through the frustrations, disappointments, and small victories because I know that one day, I’ll be able to look back and laugh, saying, “Remember when this marketing campaign failed? Well, look at me now!”

Even if that never happens, that’s okay, because I’m not going to stop trying. Facing challenges only makes me stronger, and the way I’m going, I’m going to be an incredibly strong person. I hope you can say the same.