Category: zombie story

The Best Books I Read in May (2019)

I read 17 books in May, bringing my total to 84 books read for the year.

My three favorite books I read in May were a paranormal, a historical fiction, and a YA.

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Storm Cursed, by Patricia Briggs. The newest novel in the Mercy Thompson series, which I love. Mercy is in trouble—again—but this time, there are miniature zombie goats to add to the fun.

the book woman

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek, by Kim Michele Richardson. This was an incredible read! I’d never heard anything about the Blue People in Kentucky or the Pack Horse Librarians…I have no idea how I’d never heard of these things, but there you go. Cussy Mary Carter is the last woman of the Blue People, and she’s a Pack Horse Librarian delivering books and news to the isolated people on her route. But some people are against her because of her coloring and she yearns for a normal life.

This was an incredible read!

two like me and you

Two Like Me and You, by Chad Alan Gibbs

Edwin Green’s ex-girlfriend is famous—really famous—and he’s not over her. He wants to get her back, and he knows if he gets famous, too, it will happen. Then he meets Parker Haddaway when they are assigned a history project together, and she introduces him to Garland Lennox, a WWII veteran who is still in love with a girl he met back then, and is determined to find her. So Parker and Edwin sneak Garland out of the nursing home and to France, and that’s where the fun really begins.

This book had me laughing so many times. Edwin’s voice is fantastic as he wrestles with what’s going on in his life and how it measures up to what he’s always known.

Book Review: The Manic Pixie Dream Boy Improvement Project, by Lenore Appelhans

manix pixie
Image belongs to Lerner Publishing Group.

Title:  The Manic Pixie Dream Boy Improvement Project
Author:  Lenore Appelhans
Genre:  YA, fantasy
Rating:  4 out of 5

Riley is a Manic Pixie Dream Boy—the trope’s token boy—in trouble for speaking out in his last novel role. He’s sentenced to do therapy in TropeTown with other Manic Pixies who have behaved outside of their roles. Riley isn’t sure therapy is going to help him, until he meets Zelda, another Manic Pixie, and decides maybe it won’t be so bad.

But the Manic Pixies have been causing trouble, and now they might be terminated. All the Manic Pixies will have to work together to save their trope from destruction, and Riley will have to choose between a secure future, and the chance to seize his greatest dreams.

I saw a comment that Riley might be a character from The Fault in Our Stars—although that’s never stated, obviously—but I’ve never read that, so I can’t comment on any similarities (I’m sure it’s a wonderful book, but I don’t read anything I know ahead of time will make me cry). This novel is ironic and lighthearted. It’s an easy read, and there are a few moments of surprising depth—like the lesson about other, now-retired tropes being terminated because of their racist characteristics—but at heart, it’s just a fun read.

Lenore Appelhans’s new book is The Manic Pixie Dream Boy Improvement Project.

(Galley courtesy of Lerner Publishing Group via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Getting My (Writing) Ducks in a Row

So…School is out. Vacation is over. Real life has started again. That means it’s time to get back to writing. Yay! In that direction, I went through the “Writing” folder on my computer on Sunday.

And found 67 pages of a story I don’t even remember writing, for NaNo 3 years ago. I read probably 15 pages before I believed that I actually wrote it. It’s a YA about the Sirens and Spartans, but set in the here-and-now. It was kind of like having an out-of-body experience, reading through something I have no memory of writing. (The writing took place about 6 months pre-stroke, and I stopped when my depression got really bad).

Yesterday, I found the story notebook for my newly rediscovered story. That’s the good news. The bad news…in it is one piece of paper with 40 words on it. Mainly character names. No plot ideas, no outline, nothing else. Also some printed out research on sirens and the like. It appears that I will be basically starting from scratch, because, let’s face it, I’m totally sucked into the 67 pages of MS I have. I was seriously like “Did I write this? It’s really good!” Guess what just got bumped to the top of my to-write list?

That’s not strictly true. I want to get going on The Fall again, too. I’ve only got a few chapters written, and I need to change some stuff that my Muse gave me over the past few months when I wasn’t supposed to be writing (my Muse is, apparently, a rebel). An outline would, perhaps, be helpful. Or, heck, even a basic idea of where the story was going. At this point, I’m flailing around in the fog, only able to see two steps in front of me.

I also discovered a tiny bit of another story, along with its notebook and partial outline, as well as a good bit of notes for a third story. I think 4 WIPs is a bit excessive, even for me. My Muse either fainted from excitement, or went on strike, I’m not sure which.
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Let’s not forget my to-be-revised list, which grows ever longer. Sigh…Think I’m gonna start with Witches,  though. Cutting down that 300,000 word behemoth is going to be…tricky, but the characters are talking to me. Or, possibly, I’m hearing voices….Yeah, it could be either one.

Writing question of the day:  does anyone else juggle multiple stories at the same time?  Some tips would be helpful. And very much appreciated.

Zombified

"...brains..."
“…brains…”

I have become a zombie.  It’s true.  Several months ago, I noticed that most of the people on campus at my university can’t seem to go anywhere without headphones on.  It takes what, three minutes to walk between classes, and they can’t go that long without listening to music?  And some of them would sit in the classroom/auditorium/lecture hall with their headphones on, until the professor would come in and actually start talking before they’d take them off. Then they’d act like it was a huge inconvenience to be without them.  It was like all these people were withdrawing from the world, wanting to live in their own little bubble, with no contact with anyone outside of it.  On one hand, it irritated me greatly.  On the other, my Muse thought it had great potential to be used in a dystopian story, and that turned into The Fall.

Today I realized I’m guilty of this as well.  I don’t know when it happened.  I don’t know how.  But I rarely go anywhere on campus now without my headphones on.

It’s not because I don’t want contact with the people around me–although sometimes that’s the last thing I want.  Have you seen how annoying teenagers are now?  (Suddenly, I feel very old.)  Plus, there are inevitably people who decide to talk to me, even though I am clearly wearing my “Please Don’t Talk to Me” face (Seriously, people?  Can you NOT see the look I’m giving you?  Get a clue.).  But even that’s not the real reason.

The real reason is because I find myself in desperate need of inspiring and uplifting music to get through the day.  My priorities have shifted drastically over the last six months, and one of the things that has changed is the music I listen to most of the time.  It keeps me on an even keel.  And considering the stress in my life, I need an even keel (and, possibly, a life preserver).  Hence the ever-present headphones.  But I do take them off when I go into a classroom.  And I can’t listen to words with music when I’m writing–not that I’ve done much writing lately–so I don’t use them there, either.

I haven’t written in a couple of weeks, but I did some background work on The Fall this weekend, filling in some details.  I also worked on the revision outline for the zombie story, AND the revision on the werewolf story.  I also spent an hour or so starting the Scrivener tutorial.  I’ll try to finish that up this week, and start actually using it this weekend.

I need to write.

Doing Too Much

In case you’re wondering where I’ve been (you know, all three of you that are reading this), I need to make a confession: I tend to over-commit myself. Basically, I need about 5 extra hours in every day to get everything done I need and/or want to do. Here’s a list of things I need to be doing on a weekly basis (some of which I’m failing miserably at):

1) Work (2 15-hour days, 1 13-hour day). On my feet….
2) School: 17 hours this semester (5 class, one lab, WTF was I thinking?)
3) 3 blogs (my writing blog, my personal blog, my environmental blog)
4) Write the first draft of The Fall (My Muse thinks I’ve gone on strike.)
5) Revise the zombie story
6) Revise the werewolf story
7) Write book reviews for Examiner.com (assuming I have actual time to read)
8) Keep up with my writing crit circle (I’m trying.)
9) Church (This has become a necessity in my life. Period.)
10) Keep up with all my home projects (the green-friendly ones that are now my priority)
11) Hang out with family and The Diva (so she doesn’t have a complete breakdown. I love you, sister-wife!).
12) Work out. (Ha. Hahahaha. Yeah. With what free time? I’m pretty sure the 5-7 miles I walk at work 3 times a week count for something.)
13) I’m taking a 6-week Nutrition class on Coursera (halfway through), with a Philosophy class starting in 2 weeks…
14) I’m pretty sure I’m missing something, but I can’t remember what just now…

You’ll notice this list does not include things like, oh, sleep, relax, hang out with friends. All of which are things I do try to do, too. I’ve had some stuff going on with the Sierra Club and Environment Texas. This past weekend, I had a membership class at church. I have another one next weekend.

Watching TV…sigh. It’s a good thing I have a DVR. That’s all I’m saying. Actually, I did watch two shows I had recorded on Sunday, while I was doing other things. A friend of mine called while I was watching. He asked what I was doing. When I said “Watching TV,” there was dead silence on the line for a good ten seconds, then “REALLY?!” Yeah. Before that, it had been…oh, probably a month, since I had my TV on. Money well spent on the cable bill, huh?

In short, I’d show you my daily planner, but I’m too embarrassed. It’s probably confusing to everyone but me. Plus, I’m severely OCD when it comes to my planner and it might be color coded…

So, every day, I feel like this:

"Lalalala...I've got this!"
“Lalalala…I’ve got this!”

But in reality, I look like this:

...or not...
…or not…

I Think I Might Have Found the Solution…

…to my complete inability to get anything done writing-wise.  Something that eliminates a lot of my tendency to procrastinate, and allows me to focus on a project for a short period of time.  What is this magical solution?  Setting the timer on my phone for 30 minutes.

Yes, this is something super-simple that I probably should have thought of before, but I didn’t.  I was trying to bribe my Muse into coming to work today, and said “Okay, if I can just write for 30 minutes, I’ll be happy.”  So, I set my timer for half an hour, pulled up my manuscript of The Fall, and started writing.  I managed 3-4 pages before the timer beeped.  It was a short enough time period that I didn’t get distracted, but long enough for me to actually get something accomplished, which made me feel about a thousand times better than my usual “You lazy bum, you didn’t get any writing done at all today!” vibe.

It worked so well that I tried it twice more.  I managed to revise an entire chapter in the zombie story from 3rd-person to 1st-person POV.  And I also did 14 chapters in the revision outline for the Werewolf story (less than ten to go).  It may not work for everyone, but it’s worth a shot.

If anyone has any other ideas, ways to get over the lack of inertia and start working again, I’d LOVE to hear them!

time

 

 

‘You and Me, Against the World,’ by Raymond Esposito

"You and Me, Against the World" by Raymond Esposito
“You and Me, Against the World” by Raymond Esposito

 

You and Me, Against the World is the first volume in The Creepers saga, by Raymond Esposito. Mr. Esposito is a long-time fan of Stephen King and Richard Matheson, and has written many short horror stories.  You and Me, Against the World is his first novel.

A devastating virus has swept the world, changing most of humanity into mindless, ravening monsters in a matter of days, sometimes hours.  Even the government’s “extreme measures” could not contain this horrific virus, and the world changed to a terror-filled nightmare overnight.

Dr. Russell Thorn is thrust into this new world without warning, and the Creepers ,as the zombie-like victims of the virus are called, lay siege to his home, as he searches desperately for escape amidst the chilling revelation that the Creepers are changing…growing more intelligent.  Dr. Thorn’s rescue by a group of young survivors starts him on a desperate quest to find the last safe place on earth.  But the evolving Creepers are not the only thing standing in the path of safety.

You and Me, Against the World is a chilling tale that zombie fans will love.  The action starts on the first page and never lets up.  The story is filled with non-stop twists as the group of survivors battles the Creepers and dangers they never imagined in a thrill-packed, blood-chilling adventure.

This book had me up half the night reading it.  I literally could not put it down!  I read a lot of zombie stories–I’ve even written a couple myself–but I loved the unique twist the author puts on his “zombies.”  Not to mention how quickly the virus spreads.  And the cats…(shudder)…the cats really creeped me out.  I found myself watching my own cats a little more closely.  You should DEFINITELY read this!

 

Lost: one Muse. If found, please send home ASAP

I’m proud to say I’ve actually made progress this week.  Not on writing.  I haven’t done any actual writing this week.  Sigh….Muse?  Where aaaaare you?  Hello? Okay.  This is what my progress on The Fall looks like over the past few weeks:

dear cursor

You’re right:  nothing.  No writing.  But it’s only Tuesday….Apparently, my Muse has taken off for parts unknown.  Knowing my Muse, “parts unknown” is probably code for “a beach with a hammock, a never-ending margarita machine, and a cute cabana boy.”  I digress.  Where was I?  Not on a beach….

I did, however, manage to do my revision chapter outline for seven chapters of the werewolf story this morning.  I also converted an entire chapter of the zombie story from 3rd person to 1st person POV.  That’s trickier than it sounds…I’ve done short crits for two people in my writing group.  Written several blog posts for my other blogs.  And looooots of homework.   Yay for homework.  Except not.

Goals for the rest of the week:  Convert another chapter of the zombie story.  Finish the revision outline for the werewolf story.  Write another chapter of The Fall.  Survive.

 

 

Bribing Myself

So, despite loads of homework and reading for school, I managed to do mini-outlines for two more chapters in the werewolf story. Progress, although of the infinitesimal, snail-like variety. Three chapters down, 29 to go…but it will get done. And I promised my best friend/co-writer that I would convert ONE chapter of our zombie story to first-person this weekend. I’m also thinking about trying out Scrivener. Anybody out there used it or have any opinions or comments about it?

I also have this sitting on my desk, waiting to be read:

Personal bribery at its best...
Personal bribery at its best…

I know, I know. The Wheel of Time series has dragged on forever. I’ve heard all the complaints. Seen all the bad reviews for the series in general. I know. Also, I don’t care. I haven’t opened it yet. IF I get all the stuff done that I need to this weekend–homework, writing, revision, blogging, cleaning, re-decorating, planting–THEN I will start reading it. If not, well, it’ll have to wait. It’s been years since I started reading the series, I don’t think a few more days will hurt me.

I’m the tortoise

So, school started again today. Not that I went. Um, the roads were pretty crappy this morning due to a winter weather system that moved in early this morning, and after watching news and traffic reports for a while, I decided I didn’t really want to risk driving 25 miles to school on the first day of the semester. Yes, I hate missing class. But at least this was a day that would have been at least partially taken up with going over the syllabus, which I’ve already read. So instead of risking my life with crazy Texas drivers who freak out at the first snowflake (and let’s not even talk about ice), I stayed home. I did quite a bit of homework. Yeah, I know, it’s the first day of classes. But the more I get done during the week, the less I have to do this weekend. And with 17 hours this semester, there’s a lot to do.

Despite my busy schedule, I still want to keep up with my writing. That means I have to set small goals, instead of my usual over-the-top, all-or-nothing method. With that end in mind, I’ve decided to do a very brief chapter outline of the werewolf story, to make revisions a bit less overwhelming. So I outlined the first chapter today. Granted, it’s maybe 5 sentences, but it’s progress, and I plan to do more work on it the rest of the week. I also plan on converting one chapter of the zombie story to first-person each week, and I also intend to get in at least one writing session a week on the new story. In addition, I’d like to keep up a twice-weekly blogging schedule. That doesn’t sound like much, but I do have two other blogs, so that’s a bit more time-intensive.

This week I’m focusing on baby steps. The tortoise won the race, didn’t he?