Daily Archives: October 13, 2015

#31ZombieAuthors – Day 13 Interview – Michael Cairns – Video Blogging

Michael Cairns headshot High Res copy

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Today’s zombie author is Michael Cairns, the scribe behind the series, Thirteen Rosesan epic tale that begins with a flower seller who’s forced to save the day in the face of a zombie apocalypse.

Here on the Bookshelf Battle Blog, I like to talk to people about their own personal battles.  Currently, Michael’s winning the battle when it comes to making a name for himself in the writing game, but analysts say the struggle to retain his hair might be lost.

I’m dialing him up on Alien Jones’ space phone now.  Michael?  Bookshelf Q. Battler here.  Let’s talk.

NOTE:  BOLD=BQB; ITALICS=Michael

Q.  Michael, I’m stuck in a rather stressful situation.  I’m in the middle of a zombie apocalypse that’s struck my hometown.  As if that’s not enough, a maniacal alien despot who hates reality television has threatened to conquer Earth if I die before writing a novel that’s so good, it inspires the masses to abandon any and all interest in shows in which vapid, mindless, quasi-celebrities are followed around by cameras all day.  On top of that, a corrupt general is trying to blow me up because I allowed one of my correspondents to write about a top secret mission dating back to World War II on my blog.

But this interview isn’t about me, it’s about you, and I don’t want to bore you with my personal problems.  Suffice it to say, all this stress made me think about your situation.  This year began with you making a pledge to your fans that you’d write fifteen books in 2015.  Further, you promised to submit a daily video log chronicling your efforts.

We’re on the tail end of 2015.  How has the challenge gone, what inspired you to do this in the first place and how have you dealt with the ensuing stress?

A.  Hi Bookshelf. First, can I say how sorry I am to hear about your terrible situation? That sounds like pretty dire straits to me. If you’ll forgive a little advice, I’d urge you to keep eating your greens to keep your strength up, and never leave home without at least two chainsaws about your person at all times.

With regards to your question, it’s been a pretty crazy year.  Just to clarify, the challenge was to publish 15 books.  My inspiration for this was that I wrote 15 books in 2014. I then sat down with another indie-published friend of mine who threatened to kick my arse unless I actually did something with them. So, the challenge was born. To keep things interesting, I also opted to write a million words, publish a short story on my blog every week and vlog my journey every day. The challenge has, so far, gone remarkably well. I’ve published 6 books and have another three less than a month away. So the last few months of 2015 are going to be pretty packed, but it’s still doable, assuming I’m willing to completely lose what remains of my sanity.

Regarding the rest of the challenge, that I’ll easily do. I’m going to hit a million words sometime around the beginning of October, and my short stories are, fortunately, getting better each week.

As far as stress goes, it’s been a mix. I’ve given up shaving, given my chocolate addiction free reign, and taken to shouting at myself on long car journeys…okay, maybe not so much of the last one. It has been stressful, though mostly in a fun way. I have two young children at home and also decided to move house in July, so that’s only added to the fun…

Q.  I whine louder than a balloon with air escaping out of it about how I can never find the time to write, but here you are living the dream.  Do you have any advice for my 3.5 readers about how to balance writing with all of the other curveballs that life throws our way?

A.  Excellent question. I think the answer to that lies in a couple of things. The first is to examine yourself and your habits, and decide how organized you are. If you are someone who does things in a random, scatty kind of way, it can be tricky to develop the discipline to write on a regular basis. Tricky, but by no means impossible. I wrote a guest blog post on how to develop said habit, which you can check out here.

The second thing is to decide how important writing is to you. I know that seems kind of obvious, but it’s easy to say how much it matters. The question is, is it important to ditch reruns of The Walking Dead? Is it important enough to wake up an hour earlier each morning? Simple things that will develop your writing habit.

I can highly recommend Julie’s website that tracks her first year in the self-publishing business. She’s a romance writer, so if you’re struggling to find the light at the end of your apocalypse shaped tunnel, Bookshelf, it might just help brighten your day. 🙂

Q.  How has daily video logging worked out for you?  Is that a means of author/fan communication that you’d recommend for aspiring writers?

A.   I have to be honest about this, it’s been hard work. I’ve got the process, from recording the vlog to having it uploaded onto Youtube and posted on my blog, to tweets scheduled down to about 20 minutes, but there have been more than a few nights when it’s the last thing I’ve wanted to do. Have said that, it’s also been great fun. I’ve gotten almost comfortable talking to myself, certainly improved my ‘umms per minute’ rate, and have a wonderful record of the year. I’ve also got to vlog from all sorts of interesting places. I toured Italy a couple of times with my band in the summer, so I’ve vlogged from over there. I’ve also been to numerous festivals and concerts and done the same from there, so it’s been fun. With regards to author/fan communication, I wouldn’t put it near the top of the list. I’ve had a few nice chats with the videos as a springboard, but not nearly as many as via emails and twitter.

Follow Michael’s 15 for 15 challenge on cairnswrites.com!

Q.  One Goodreads reviewer described Thirteen Roses as “The Walking Dead as if written by Neal Gaiman.  Is that a fair 51BTDCI9zlL__SX331_BO1,204,203,200_assessment and if so, why?

A.   I wish!! I loved that quote. It was the kind of quote you couldn’t pay to get, and that it was entirely not my doing was even better! Neil Gaiman’s Sandman is still one of my favorite comic series of all time, so I was beyond flattered to have that comparison made. I’d like to think I could get somewhere close to him in terms of characterization if nothing else, but I’d have to leave that up to the reader to decide…

Q.  There are a number of zombie apocalypse books which feature a science based beginning, i.e. an experiment gone wrong,  (which coincidentally is how my zombie apocalypse began), terrorists who discharge a virus, or some other physical phenomena.  I understand your zombie series has more paranormal origins.  I don’t mean to ask for spoilers, but can you elaborate a bit for my 3.5 readers?

A.   Without wanting to cop out, it’s very difficult to divulge much of the paranormal side of things without giving everything away. Having said that, I’m happy to say that the origin of the zombies is fairly standard. Am ambitious and slightly naive science student spends far too much time messing with an airborne-delivered toxin. The government takes it away from him, only to have some religious nuts discover the answer to their very screwed up prayers and get involved. The paranormal element comes in with the people left behind, the sorry survivors such as yourself. There’s more to it than that, but I really don’t want to spoil all the fun.

Q.  I might know a guy who’s also losing the battle for his hair.  Note that it’s not me at all, just some other unnamed person.  Any advice on follicle stimulation that I could pass along to this individual or should he just give up the goose?

A.  Alas, I’ve tried all sorts. I can confirm that having kids, moving house, and eating your own body weight in chocolate don’t help with hair growth, despite all my wife’s assurances that they would. Actually, she might not have said the thing about the chocolate…

Q.  Michael, thanks for taking a few minutes to speak with me today.  Before I go, do you have any final words of wisdom that might help my friends and I survive the East Randomtown Zombie Apocalypse?

Food! Head to the nearest library and get yourself some books on farming. Simple, self-sustaining farming is a must with all that supermarket fruit and veg already rotting away. Similarly, find some goats and put a fence around them. Chickens, too, if you can find them.

However, considering the people you surround yourself with, I’d have thought finding a space ship and getting the hell off this Godforsaken rock would be the only true way to survive.

Best of luck and lovely to talk to you.

BQB EDITORIAL NOTE: Thanks, Michael!  I’m going to check with Alien Jones on that, but he’ll probably bore me with some lecture about Intergalactic Space Law, which I usually just take as code for him being too lazy. Good luck with your challenge!

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BQB’s Zombie Apocalypse Survivor’s Journal – Day 13

At exactly six am, we all woke up to what sounded and felt like an earthquake.

I bet Jerry Bruckheimer doesn't have shit like this on his blog.

I bet Jerry Bruckheimer doesn’t have shit like this on his blog.

VGRF and I looked out the window just in time to see a squad of F-15 fighter jets flying over head. In their wake, a sonic boom followed.

Blandie popped out of the bedroom.

“What was that?!”

Bernie jumped up.

“I didn’t touch anything!  I swear!”

“Relax, humans,”  Alien Jones said.  “The East Randomtown Mall is no more.”

The space phone rang.  I answered it.

“Hello?”

“Battler, you son of a bitch.  You’re still alive.”

I recognized the voice from yesterday’s broadcast.

General Morganstern?  What a Douchenstern.

General Morganstern? What a Douchenstern.

“General Morganstern.”

“I was hoping you’d still be in the mall.  I do hate to waste good missiles.  Pity.”

I put the space phone on speaker.

“Wait.  So you’re TRYING to kill me?”

“Of course.”

I could feel a sense of panic spread over the group.

“Why?”

“Two words, dipshit.  Operation Fuhrerpunschen.”

I tried to bluff.

“I don’t…I don’t know anything about…come again?”

“Don’t play dumb with me, nerd!”  Morganstern shouted.  “You’ve got that 1950’s style private detective spilling his guts about how he took out Hitler all over your pathetic excuse for a blog!”

“So?”  I asked.  “I only have 3.5 readers!”

“That’s 3.5 too many!”  Morganstern replied.  “National security is at stake, son.  You and your friend out in California have no idea what forces you’re messing with.  We’ve got plans for Jake and as for you?  We’ll find you.  We’ll blow your ass up and the public will never know that you were anything more than a zombie apocalypse casualty.”

I sat down on the couch.

“Is there anything I can do to talk you out of this?”

“Maybe,”  Morganstern said.  “Turn over the alien so we can slice him up.  Do that and shut down the Bookshelf Battle Blog down for good and never utter the words, “Operation Fuhrerpunschen” to anyone ever again, and I’ll let you live.”

Alien Jones and I had become looked up at me and was about to speak when I cut him off.

“No, Alien Jones,”  I said.  “Don’t even think about it.  I’ll never give you up to save myself.”

“I wasn’t thinking that at all,”  Alien Jones said.  “I was just going to ask if you think your Aunt has any booze up in this shack.”

“You’ll get my alien over my dead body,”  I said into the space phone.  “Listen, my 3.5 readers just assume everything on my blog is fiction.  I’m not worth your time.”

“The very powerful man I answer to would disagree.”

“The President?”  I asked.  “I doubt he’d condone what you’re doing.”

“The man I’m working for makes the President look as powerful as an old washer woman.  That’s all I’ll say about that.”

“General,”  I said.  “Fine.  Kill me if you have to, but please, let my friends go.”

“Do they know about Operation Fuhrerpunschen?”  Morganstern asked.

Bernie and Blandie were clueless.  Alien Jones and VGRF were both Bookshelf Battle Blog contributors so of course they knew.

“No not at all,”  I lied.

“Sir?”  Blandie interrupted.

I directed my gaze toward Blandie and mouthed the words, “SHUT UP!”

“Sir,”  Blandie repeated.  “My name is Blandie Settler.  I’m a proud American in good standing and I just want to assure you Iknow NOTHING about Operation Furry-whatever, so there’s no reason to…”

Boo! Blandie is the worst!

Boo! Blandie is the worst!

“Jesus Christ, Battler!”  Morganstern barked.  “Have you had me on speaker the entire time?  Now I really DO have to kill every last asshole you’ve got in that room with you!”

“Thanks Blandie,”  I said.  “Thanks a lot.”

“You’re just lucky your phone can’t be tracked,”  Morganstern said.  “I’d of wiped you off the map by now.”

“How did you get this number anyway?”  I asked.

“We’ve been tracking your porn viewing for quite sometime, Battler.  Every time you hit on one of the sites we’re monitoring, it gives us all your info.”

VGRF wacked me.

“What?”

“Even now?” she whispered.  “You’re looking at porn during the zombie apocalypse?  Have you no shame?”

“I’ve got to say our tech guy had to work around the clock to figure out how to dial a number that included four pictures of a frog licking a cupcake.”

Alien Jones shrugged his shoulders.

“There are parts of the universe where a frog licking a cupcake is considered good luck,”  Alien Jones explained.

“You know what the sad part is General?”

“What’s that?”

BQB and Jake working on an Operation Fuhrerpunschen novel together?!

BQB and Jake working on an Operation Fuhrerpunschen novel together?!

“Had you just come to me and asked me to keep Operation Fuhrerpunschen off of my blog, I’d of done it.  But now that you’re trying to kill my friends and I, I can guarantee you that not only will I find a way to escape, but I’ll contract with Jake to put a full length novel about said operation on Amazon as soon I get home!”

The General went silent for a bit, then uttered, “You wouldn’t dare.”

“Try me, bitch.”

“You’ll never get out of this alive, Battler,”  Morganstern said.  “I’ve got surveillance drones combing East Randomtown as we speak.  As soon as you pop your ass out into the light of day, I’ll shove a missile up it.”

I hanged up the phone.

“Listen everyone,”  I said.  “I’m the one who allowed Jake to talk about a top secret mission on my blog.  I’m the one who brought the heat down.  Morganstern wants me.  He’s just threatening the rest of you to get at me.  Let’s split up.  You all get to safety.  I’ll turn myself in.  Once I’m dead, he won’t care about you.”

“Untrue,”  Alien Jones said.  “I read Morganstern’s mind.  He truly intends to hunt down you and anyone who has ever heard the words, ‘Operation Fuhrerpunschen.’”

“Shit!”  Bernie said as he stuck his fingers in his ears.  “Stop saying it then!”

“Our only hope of survival is to stick together.  It will be risky, but we’ll only move under the cover of darkness so as to avoid the military’s surveillance.  If we are detected, we run the risk of becoming the victims of another air strike.”

“Then it’s settled,”  VGRF said.  “Let’s all get some rest and we’ll move out at dusk.”

“I’m sorry I got you all into this mess,”  I said.  “I promise to you get you out of it.”

“Don’t make promises yo’ ass can’t keep, sucka,’”  Bernie said.

“Which reminds me,”  I said as I dialed a number into the space phone, “I promised to interview another zombie author today.”

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