Tag Archives: indie books

#31ZombieAuthors – Day 16 Interview – Saul Tanpepper – Zombified Video Gaming

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By:  Video Game Rack Fighter, Special Guest Interviewer

Today’s guest on the Bookshelf Battle Blog is Saul Tanpepper, author of the GAMELAND series, a saga set in a world where zombies outfitted with neural implants are controlled by players using video game controllers.

The carnage ensues when a group of computer hackers break into a Long Island turned wasteland and quickly learn there are consequences far beyond the average video game.

Saul, thanks for joining us.

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51TmgJ+nv1L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Q.   Zombies turned into video game avatars manipulated by wealthy video game enthusiasts.  Just when I thought the world was out of fresh spins on the zombie apocalypse genre, you come up with one.  How did you do it?

A.   I read Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games right after it was published and knew that it was going to be a blockbuster and therefore a good literary model to emulate. I’d been thinking about publishing dystopian fiction (not just horror or post-apocalyptic), and since zombies were starting to get hot, and readers were demanding series, I combined the three elements together and came up with the idea for GAMELAND. The original plan was to throw a half dozen young adults into a gaming arcade with the undead for a fight to the finish, but that seemed too much like HG. I made the gaming aspect secondary and went heavier on the post-apocalyptic theme.

Q.  I hope you don’t mind if I reveal on this blog that you are, in fact, Dr. Ken J. Howe, a PhD molecular biologist and former Army medic/trauma specialist. (Don’t worry, this site only has 3.5 readers so your secret is safe.)  Upon learning this about you, several questions come to my mind, the first being, does your experience and training come in handy as a writer and how so?

A.  It’s both helpful and harmful. As a former scientist, I tend to be overly critical about technical accuracy and probabilities, which holds me back from writing anything too outrageous. This applies to the technologies referenced in the GAMELAND series. We already have the capacity to prolong life and it won’t be long before we can reverse cell death. Scientists are also dabbling in neural implantation, so it’s not a great leap to think about implanted zombies. My medical background is a great help when it comes to writing descriptions. Having personally had my hands inside chests, smelled the effects of rotting flesh, assisted with surgeries, I try to relay the physical and emotional impact of those experiences to the reader.

Q.  Last I checked, zombies are just figments of our imagination  (I hope.)  However, as a molecular biologist/former medic, do you have any thoughts on zombie physiology that you could share?  Are there any known theories on how, hypothetically speaking, a human could be turned into a zombie or exhibit zombie-ish tendencies?

A.  There are some aspects of zombie physiology which the lore currently explains poorly. For example, how do they move and moan when they don’t breathe? Why don’t they rot faster? Why do they prefer brains? Why do they go after only the uninfected? GAMELAND attempts to explain some of these discrepancies.

As far as real-life goes, zombies aren’t that much of a leap, at least if we’re simply talking about brain-dead individuals attacking other people. The bath salt incidents of a couple years back, and any number of drug or hypnosis-induced incidents we’ve seen all resemble zombie-like behavior. If the mind can be so easily manipulated by suggestion or chemicals, it’s not hard to imagine an infectious agent producing a chemical to the same effect.

As far as reanimating the dead, that requires a bit more suspension of disbelief or more faith in the paranormal. Cells tend to break down very rapidly, so unless a person has only very recently died, it’s unlikely the body will have much function. My bets for zombies are on the near-dead or recently-deceased.

Q.  How would a real life zombie video game such as the one described in your series work?  Will video games ever evolve to the point where people can be controlled with a joystick?  (And is that necessarily something we’d want?)

A.  Technology already exists to remotely control inanimate objects in virtual reality (think drones, surgery, bomb robots), and game developers have reported early success in being able to manipulate living subjects remotely in the same way as well as with the use of neural stimulation. We are on the cusp of an explosion in VR gaming. Just beyond that horizon is remote controlled live action gaming. I don’t want to say too much about it, because it would seem to make the ideas I developed in GAMELAND appear less groundbreaking, but suffice it to say, I’d be surprised if we aren’t soon forced to ponder the very same moral questions the characters in my books failed to ask themselves when it comes to this subject.

Q.  You’re also the author of The Essential Book Blog: The Complete Bibliophile’s Toolkit for Building, Growing and Monetizing Your On-Line Book-Lover’s Community.  If you had to give Bookshelf Q. Battler one piece of advice on how to improve his blog, what would it be?  (Besides obtain more than 3.5 readers.)

A.   You’re doing all the right things — writing to a specific target audience, keeping the material fresh, engaging your readers, and leveraging other people’s fan bases — so that’s a great foundation for growing your blog. It takes time, as you already know. Having a mailing list helps, as does having something to offer your readers. For example, I offer my subscribers a free starter library and often tell them about deals and giveaways before I tell the general public. I include a lot of tips in TEBB on how you can monetize your efforts to help defray any costs and build income. Even utilizing the easiest of the techniques will quickly pay for the cost of the book.

Q.  Saul, your expertise has been greatly appreciated.  Before I go, do you have any final words of wisdom that might help my friends and I survive the East Randomtown Zombie Apocalypse?

A:  It’s been my pleasure. As far as surviving the Z-poc, my only suggestion is to get yourself a good sturdy toilet plunger (if you’ve read my series, you’ll understand why). That, and a comfortable pair of sneakers. You’ll be doing a lot of running.

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#31ZombieAuthors – Day 15 Interview – Peter Meredith – Finding Your True Passion

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51Hxq5kK0WL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_ My guest today is Peter Meredith, author of The Undead World series. The tale begins when efforts to cure cancer go horribly wrong, and survivors are forced to do whatever they can to survive in a world crawling with zombies.

A multi-genre author, some of Peter’s other works include: The Trilogy of Void, The Hidden Lands Series, The Sacrificial Daughter, A Perfect America and Sprite.

Hello Peter. Good to speak with you.

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Q.  Peter, I’ve tried a number of jobs in my life. I’ve been the assistant to the assistant to the Vice President of Corporate Assistance at Beige Corp, the world’s premiere producer of beige products and accessories. I started up a website that boasts upwards of 3.5 readers and now, as luck would have it, I’ve just been named Deputy Mayor of a settlement for zombie apocalypse survivors.

According to your Amazon author page, you’ve had quite the journey yourself. You tried your hand in real estate, worked as an emergency room nurse, and you were also the CEO of a national lighting company. Today, you concentrate on what you refer to as your “true addiction,” writing. For anyone out there who’s searching for their passion and has yet to discover it (or worse, won’t embrace it) what advice do you have for them?

A.  Don’t be shocked when you find it and embrace it when you do. Unlike almost every other author I’ve run across, I wasn’t reading at the age of two and writing my first poem by my third birthday. Quite the opposite, I hated to write. I never learned to type and my penmanship hasn’t progressed beyond a second grade level. Since I would fret over every little error, an e-mail used to take me close to an hour to write, if the client was important enough.

But that all changed in 2010. With the economy in the dumps, my company decided to rework our website and in order to attract attention to it, I was told I should write articles and submit them online. So I painstakingly wrote five articles. They were terrible.

Not terribly written, just dull. Writing about the technical aspects of LED lights is super boring and not just to me but for everyone. So with Halloween coming up, I decided to write about the two super-natural occurrences that I had been involved with instead. The boss wasn’t exactly happy, but seeing as she’s my wife, what could she do?

So I wrote two little short stories. Just like that, something kicked in. Suddenly I became a writer. It was altogether inexplicable to go from writing as little as possible to writing all the time. Without any classes or real training, I wrote a book, and then a trilogy, and now I’m currently working on my nineteenth novel. Life is strange, but great.

Q.   What motivated you to take the stories in your mind and put them down in written form?

A.   It’s a mystery to me. I had always been an unparalleled day dreamer but I never knew I could write. I didn’t know I had the discipline or the drive to write an entire, full-length novel until one day I just started.

Q.   Your reader reviews are very positive. One reviewer of The Apocalypse Crusade stated, “DO NOT pick this up until you are ready to commit to an all-night sleep-defying read!” As an author, how are you able to grab a reader’s attention and draw him or her into your world?

A.   For me the answer starts with creating realistic, relatable characters—that is key to any book. Then comes the story, and it has to move along at a good clip, one action leading into another in a manner that runs just along the edge of possible.


Q.   As William Ernest Henley’s poem, Invictus, goes, “Beyond this place of wrath and tears looms but the horror of the shade…” You’re the author of The Horror of the Shade, which begins with a recitation of Henley’s classic poem. I’ve always been a fan of Invictus. What is it about that poem that inspired you?

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A.  The clear call of courage within it matched what I was trying to write about with two of the characters William, the father and Will, the son. Both had their courage tested throughout the book, this being especially true with the confrontation of the demon.

Q.  In Sprite, you tell the story of Audrey “Odd” Wyatt, a twelve-year old girl afflicted with startling, dreadfully red eyes. To add to her problems, she’s saddled with Karen, her miserable, bar hopping alcoholic mother who rarely misses an opportunity to make Odd feel bad about herself. What I noticed about this book is that in Odd, you’ve created a very sympathetic character while Karen is likely the kind of character that readers will love to hate. How were you able to craft two completely different character types in one story?

41JsLlh4NtL._SX310_BO1,204,203,200_A.  Anyone who wishes to become a writer needs to be a student of humanity. It’s far more important than knowing where commas are supposed to go, or what participles are. When you know people and when you realize that human behavior is, for the most part, unchanging, then almost every character is opened to you as a writer.

Q.   Peter, thanks for taking the time to share your expertise with me today. Before I go, do you have any last minute advice that might help my friends and I survive the East Randomtown Zombie Apocalypse?

A.   Run very fast.

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#31ZombieAuthors – Day 14 Interview – Kate L. Mary – Nerds vs. Hunks

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Today’s guest is Kate L. Mary, author of the Broken World series.  Follow protagonist Vivian Thomas on the road in the midst of zombie mayhem as she and her DD’s convince a duo of redneck brothers to give her a ride to California so she can locate the daughter she gave up for adoption.

A stay-at-home mother and Air Force wife, Kate and her family have lived in Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, California and Oklahoma.

Her Amazon author page states:

“Kate prefers nerdy, non-traditional heroes who can make you laugh to hunky pieces of man-meat…”

So in other words, there’s a distinct chance I might be able to convince her to become the Bookshelf Battle Blog’s 4.5th reader.

Hello Kate.  Thanks for taking my call on the space phone.

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Q.   Let’s talk about the role of trust in a zombie apocalypse.  Sometimes a disaster can bring out the best in people.  Other times, it can bring out the worst.  Unfortunately, you never know who you’re dealing with until it’s too late.  My group and I, having just located a survivor camp operated by a retired used car salesman/former television extra, are having trust issues.  I think it’s a pretty sweet set-up.  My girlfriend thinks we should run.  Naturally I thought about Vivian, who makes the tough decision to trust a pair of redneck brothers on her quest to find her daughter.  Can anyone ever be fully trusted in a zombie apocalypse?

A.   Trusting people during normal times can be tough, but when it comes to a lawless world it’s an even bigger gamble. I know a lot of people hold the belief that humans are basically good, but I wholeheartedly disagree. People are full of bad intentions, and too often the only thing keeping them from acting on those intentions are the consequences. Take away the threat of punishment, and the world will very quickly get a lot darker.

In the case of the used car salesman/former television extra, I’d have to say I’m with your girlfriend. I know the idea of a used car salesman being sleazy and underhanded is just a stereotype, but throw the role of television extra on top of that and every warning bell in my head goes off. This person spent his free time pretending to be someone else on a regular basis. What makes you think that just because the world has ended, he’s stopped pretending?

Q.   As a fan of zombie books, movies, TV shows, etc., I’ve noticed that whenever a group of people happen upon a place offering shelter and safety, it’s usually some kind of trick.  Someone inevitably ends up robbed, beaten, killed, sold into slavery, chopped up into lunch meat or what have you.  Maybe that’s why my better half is so jittery.

As a noted zombie author, can you settle a debate that’s long ranged in the world of zombie fandom?  When survivors happen upon a settlement operated by seemingly nice people, should their response be, “Feets don’t fail me now!” or “Thank you for your hospitality.  I think I will join you!”

A.   In a disaster like this, the idea that there are no good people left in the world has me thinking one thing: If that’s true, why go on? If you’re a good person just trying to survive, you have to assume there are other people out there with good intentions as well. But trusting someone shouldn’t be your first inclination or you’re liable to get robbed, beaten, killed, sold into slavery, or chopped up into lunchmeat. I think it’s important to give off a “thank you for your hospitality” vibe while keeping your eyes open for anything suspicious, much like Rick and crew did when they first arrived at Terminus at the end of season four of The Walking Dead. You have to keep hope alive or you’ll find yourself turning into the very monster you’re afraid to run into, but you need to be smart about it as well.

Q.   I’m led to believe you prefer laughable nerds over hunky pieces of man meat.  Naturally, as a poindexterish proprietor of a book blog that caters to 3.5 readers, who currently finds himself knee deep in a zombie apocalypse, I’m intrigued.  My ensuing inquiries are:

Q1)  Is that actually true or is that just something that women say before they make a beeline for the hunky man meat?

A.   It’s actually true! While hunky pieces of man meat are great to look at, that was never the type of man I dated, and it definitely won’t be who I rely on when the zombie apocalypse hits. Strength will only get you so far before a horde of zombies decides they want to feast on a meal of muscles, but intelligence will keep you going. And a sense of humor will not only keep you from losing your mind, but give you something to keep going for. While I do share the common problem of most female Walking Dead viewers—a love of Daryl Dixon—I have to admit that I’m in major awe of Glenn Rhee. I wouldn’t mind teaming up with him at the end of the world!

Q2)  Point of clarification:  Are we talking about a full blown, genuine, bonafide Star Wars toy owning geek despite being an adult type of nerd or the Hollywood version of a nerd, which is usually just a hunky piece of man meat that someone in wardrobe whipped a pair of glasses on?  (A hunk in nerd’s clothing, if you will.)

A.   I’m all about the adorable kind of nerd. Star Wars toys aren’t a must, but they also aren’t unwelcome—I own a few nerdy Walking Dead toys myself. My husband is a toy collecting nerd as well. For Father’s Day the last two years I got him Simpsons Lego sets. They are currently assembled and on display above our fireplace.

Q3)  What is it about a nerdy/non-traditional hero that intrigues you?

A.  I think it’s the unexpected. Seeing someone who didn’t think much of himself before the apocalypse rises to the challenge and becomes an important part of a group’s survival. Anyone who looks at a “hunky” guy will assume he’s going to be able to take care of himself, but it’s the people who surprise even themselves who are the most enjoyable to root for.

Q4)  Who are some of your favorite nerdy, non-traditional, non-hunky heroes?

A.   Glen Rhee of course. The evolution of his character over the last five seasons has been incredible to watch. Every now and then I like to turn on an episode from season one of The Walking Dead just to compare the characters, and seeing how much he has grown since then is mind-blowing.

I was also a huge fan of Chuck when it was on. Watching Chuck fumble his way through assignments was adorable, but seeing how much he had changed by the end of the series was even more fun.

Q.  The Broken World series is in Amazon’s top one hundred when it comes to post-apocalyptic and dystopian 511rJyBOZLL__SX331_BO1,204,203,200_fiction.  What’s your secret to bringing so many readers into your world?

A.  Honestly, I think it had a lot to do with timing. I wrote the first three books a few years ago, but sat on them for a bit while agents and editors took their time considering publishing Broken World. By the time I finally got around to putting the first book out myself, The Walking Dead had reached the status of TV phenomenon, and it’s popularity really helped the series take off. The fact that it’s a great series—I never get tried of rereading these books!—and so different from a lot of zombie books out there helped even more.

Q.  What inspired you to take your ideas and turn them into books that zombie fanatics the world over can enjoy?

A.  The Walking Dead, of course. I’ve always loved post-apocalyptic stories, especially zombie stuff, but the sudden popularity of The Walking Dead helped form a story in my head that I just couldn’t get rid of. I almost didn’t write it as a zombie novel, though. If you do any kind of research on what editors/publishers are looking for, you’ll discover the sad fact that they do not want zombie fiction. They say there’s no market for it, which is just crazy—especially now! I wrote the first chapter of Broken World as a post-apocalyptic novel similar to The Stand, but without the religious undertones. But only one chapter in and I changed my mind, deciding to take a risk and write the zombie novel I’d been thinking about for months. Broken World was the result, and I’m so glad I took that leap.

Q.   Kate, thanks for stopping by, and especially for enduring my inquisition vis a vis nerds vs. hunks.  Before I hang up the space phone, do you have any last minute advice that could help my friends and I brave the zombie apocalypse?

A.   Don’t lose hope! It’s the one thing that will get you killed faster than a horde of zombies. If you don’t have some kind of hope for the future, you won’t fight as hard or run as fast. You’ll find yourself wishing that you never wake up when you lay down to sleep at night. If you don’t have any hope that you will be able to find a safe place or that the horror will one day come to an end, it won’t be long before the only end you can imagine is death.

Thanks so much for having me, and I hope you and your group find a safe place to ride out the worst of the zombie apocalypse!

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#31ZombieAuthors – Day 9 Interview – Devan Sagliani – Bringing Zombies to the Big Screen And Your E-Reader

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By: Special Guest Interviewer Video Game Rack Fighter 

Zombie movie buffs rejoice because today’s guest is none other than Devan Sagliani, author of the original screenplay for the movie HVZ: Humans Versus Zombies, a satirical thriller flick based on the live action role playing game of the same name. As if that weren’t enough, he also penned the Zombie Attack! series, The Undead L.A. series, The Rising Dead, A Thirst for Fire, and most recently Saint Death. Don’t forget to check out Escapist Magazine for his bimonthly horror column, Dark Dreams.

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Thanks for taking my call, Devan. Bookshelf Q. Battler would have called but he’s too busy arguing with his ex-girlfriend, which leads me to my first question:

Q.   Is it possible for a group of zombie apocalypse survivors to make it when they’re at each others’ throats? I think we’ll work it out so don’t worry about us, but generally speaking, if you had to give a pep talk to a bunch of survivors to convince them to drop their petty differences and focus on staying alive, what would you say?

A.   I’m more of a loner than a leader these days, but if it the role were forced on me I’d probably remind them that no one makes it in this world on their own, that we all work better as a team, and that if we stick together we can not only survive this nightmare but also create a better future for all of us in the process.

Q.  You wrote a screenplay for a zombie movie. What was that experience like? Can you describe it for BQB’s 3.5 readers?

A.   The movie was based off of the live action role playing game Humans Vs. Zombies, or HVZ. I’d had an idea for a zombie movie in mind when I got the call from a director I’d worked with before and the timing was just right. There is a downside to working in Hollywood, which is ultimately the lack of creative control you get as a writer. That’s why I decided to make the jump to writing novels, so I could make all the decisions and know they wouldn’t get changed at the last minute without my knowledge or consent. After all, when your name is on something you want to be able to be proud of how it turned out and not feel like anything was compromised.

Q.   In Undead L.A., one might argue that the City of Los Angeles is almost a character itself. From a pilot hijacking a plane from LAX in order to flee the insanity to a detective on the trail of a case that begins in West Hollywood, you provide a great deal of detail about the city. How were you able to make L.A. leap off the page?

A.   I think the best answer is simply that I love this city with all of my heart. I was born and raised here in Los Angeles and at this point I don’t want to live anywhere else. Los Angeles will always be my home. I feel like sometimes the city gets a bad rap from all the people who come here looking to create a better life for themselves in the entertainment industry or make it in Hollywood. I wanted to show off just how amazing and diverse this sprawling metropolis really is. I think too that people who have visited L.A. or lived here for a while before returning to where they are from can enjoy reading about the characters moving through the same streets they remember, seeing all the landmarks, and eating at places they ate at while they were here. I know I always enjoy that when I read Michael Connelly’s books.

Q.   In Book Two of the Zombie Attack! series, your protagonist, Xander, is put in charge of a survivor colony. With the help of his wife, Felicity Jane, the couple deals with reconstruction efforts, constant zombie attacks, and a bloodthirsty group of cannibals. That last part brings a question to my mind – who’s more dangerous in a zombie apocalypse? Zombies, or the humans who take advantage of the chaos that zombies create?

A.   In the Zombie Attack series the zombies themselves mostly just move the action along as Xander does his best to deal with a host of perilous issues that now exist in the post Z-Day world. Zombies are absolutely dangerous, no question about it, but many humans are far worse than the biters because of the deliberate evil they act on in the absence of established law and order. I feel confident that this is how things would devolve in the event of any major crisis or apocalypse. One group of people would work to uphold the common good while the rest would fight over what they could get and set up their own territories like warlords. Let’s just hope we never have to find out!

Q.   At least 2 of BQB’s 3.5 readers are wannabe writers. What advice do you have for someone getting started in the writing game?

A.   First I’d recommend that they read ON WRITING by Stephen King. That book changed my life and got me writing novels. Then I’d suggest that they give themselves time to grow and don’t be impatient to get stuff out there before it is ready. Take your time to learn your craft and develop your own voice. Last but not least I would tell them not to sign any publishing deals until they know exactly what they are getting themselves into. These days there are a lot of small press publishers who will promise the sun, the moon, and the stars to get new talent but can’t offer much more than the writer could do on their own with a Facebook and Twitter account.

Q.   Thanks for your help, Devan. Before I hang up, do you have any last words of wisdom to help my friends and I survive the East Randomtown Zombie Apocalypse?

A.   Make sure you can lock down one area for you and your loved ones, that it is secure from the living and the dead, and then stock it up with as much clean water as you can get your hands on. That’s going to be a huge issue during the zombie apocalypse. Then go for the canned goods next and nonperishables. Then it’s all about medicine, fuel, and weapons after that. Aim for the head and don’t stop until they are dead! Good luck!

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#31ZombieAuthors – Day 7 Interview – Gillian Zane – Alpha Male Lessons for BQB

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Today’s guest is Gillian Zane, author of the Nola Zombie Series. Follow the exploits of doomsday prepper Alexis Winter and macho ex-military man Blake Miller as they brave the streets of New Orleans in the midst of a zombie apocalypse, fight for their survival, and do it a whole helluva lot.

“Um…hey guys? Do you know there’s zombies outside and…oh what they hell, have fun you two.”

Filled with “zombies, sex, romance and carnage,” this is a series designed to titillate the senses of the adult reader and thus its only intended for those 18 years and over.

Hello Gillian. I can hear you loud and clear on Alien Jones’ space phone.

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Q. I have to admit, when I first heard about the concept of blending the erotic and zombie genres, I was skeptical. How could anyone feel frisky whilst surrounded by hideous killer zombies? But after learning that my group of survivors and I have to go on a desperate, high risk mission to rescue my ex-girlfriend, my current girlfriend got so hot and bothered that she jumped my bones and now I’m a believer.

What is it about a zombie apocalypse that drives people mad with sexual desire? Is danger an aphrodisiac?

A.  The zombie apocalypse is how it takes its form in my world, but basically it’s death in general. Or more importantly facing death. Zombies represent death in it’s basic form. They are walking corpses trying to get you to join them. When faced with death around every corner it is human instinct to survive. This includes sexual reproduction. So, to put it literally, a brush with death is an aphrodisiac.

Combine this with the breakdown of societal norms, a person that was once restrained by moral or societal constraints might find themselves more free to express their sexuality in an apocalypse. There is no one to judge them, shame them for their behavior, even themselves. You have no time to worry if he’ll “respect you in the morning” if you are the only two people left on the planet because everyone else is a zombie.

Q. On Twitter, you state “I write really sexy novels & novellas, with lots of angst and plenty of alpha males.” Are alpha males born or can they be made? I ask this because presently, I’m about as alpha as a puppy dog, but I wouldn’t mind becoming one of those perfect haired muscular stud muffins who grace your book covers. Is there anything I can do to alpha myself up or is it just a lost cause and maybe I should just embrace my usual nerdy demeanor?

A. Even a nerd can be an Alpha male. It’s not about muscles or waxed chests, in fact, most men that I’ve met who have perfectly chiseled abs and waxed bodies are as insecure as they come. The key to becoming an Alpha Male is confidence. Taking charge of a situation instead of sitting back and letting someone else run the show. The reason muscles and chest hair come into play is usually because of the strength aspect. Most alphas are stronger, faster, and bigger than their beta brethren. This is because in the animal world, bigger usually translates for a win. But, a faster, smarter man can always take down a big, dumb, slow loser.

Think David and that Goliath dude. You don’t think David got hoisted up to Alpha status after he took down the Giant? I betcha he never waxed his chest. So, basically there is hope. Pump up that confidence, do a few chin-ups, don’t let people push you around (but don’t be a hot-head) and if you want to be the star of a Romance – it helps to be really good in the sack.

BQB EDITORIAL NOTE:  Well, I’m screwed then.

Q. Your series takes place in New Orleans, a city rich with culture and history. When they aren’t killing and/or humping, do your characters get to pass by any of the sights? One of the reasons I’m intrigued is that a New Orleans setting seems like a fun, unique idea.

A. Well, it takes place in New Orleans, because what better place to have a zombie apocalypse? Or really, it’s because I know this place much better than any other place on the planet and New Orleans people are preppers by nature because of those pesky hurricanes. Do my characters get to check out any of the sights in New Orleans? Not really. A guy gets eaten by a zombie on Bourbon Street and that is shown on the news, but my characters are local, so they aren’t going to go around checking out the city. They hit places that aren’t very famous, but it does give you a unique view of the city from a local’s perspective. You might recognize some names, but I took great detail in going to places that I thought were logical for a group trying to escape zombies and actually ran the route a few times to make sure it was logical.

Q. Your character, Alex, is a doomsday prepper and on your Amazon page, you mention you’re a prepper yourself and that your past times include stockpiling Meals Ready to Eat and researching how to build a cistern on a budget. As a world renowned poindexter, I already knew that a cistern is an underground water storage tank that can be connected to sink or toilet and didn’t have to look that up at all. I interviewed another prepper earlier this month so I’ll ask you the same question. What’s up with the prepping? Are we all doomed or is it just a better safe than sorry thing?

A.   As I mentioned in the earlier question, as a New Orleanian, I’m a natural prepper. I have to be. I feel like I survived one apocalypse already, Katrina. I lived right where the levees broke, in a neighborhood called Lakeview. So, we had to bug-out very quickly and live like transients for about a month, until we finally had to rely on the government to get us a FEMA trailer. I don’t ever want to do that again. I usually prepped for about a week, to survive without electricity and water. But, now we have to prep to actually leave the city or bug-out AND I never want to rely on the feds to help me and my family–because it comes when they are ready, not when you need it. It is a way of life down here because it’s inevitable that another hurricane will happen.

Will it have the same impact as Katrina? Maybe not, but do I want to take that chance? Fifty years ago, Americans could can their own food, knew how to grow their own gardens, knew how to mend their clothes, had water stored…because, being self-sufficient meant the difference between life and death. We’ve become spoiled, our food is delivered to us, the majority of us couldn’t tell you where their banana came from, much less what fruits are grown regionally.

Should we be worried about an impending apocalypse? I don’t think there is one on the horizon, at least not a BIG one that destroys the world. But, I do see regional issues, droughts, more hurricanes, those sort of things, which being prepared for will really help. And in my world, it is always better to be safe than sorry.

Oh, and BTW – we use an above-ground cistern, can’t do below ground in New Orleans because of the water table. We actually have a raised cistern and we use gravity, almost like a water-tower. You would use it for watering your plants, or in an emergency for showering etc. You would have to treat it for drinking water, but that can be a simple filtering process. We get so much rain down here, it is logical to collect rain water for the plants.

Q.  Gillian, thanks for taking a few minutes to talk zombies with me. Before I go, do you have any last minute advice to help my friends and I survive the East Randomtown Zombie Apocalypse?

A.    Take to the water. Zombies can’t swim. But, shoot for deep water, they can float.

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#31ZombieAuthors – The Full Schedule

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Want to know what day your favorite zombie author is stopping by the Bookshelf Battle Blog?

See the info below.  3.5 readers, these writers were kind enough to help me out, so please help them out as much as you can.

Check out their books.  If you enjoy them, leave a review.  Reviews on Amazon send authors higher up the charts, so you can help them out.  Tell your friends about them through your favorite time wasting social media site.

DETAILED SCHEDULES

If you want a short synopsis of who the authors are and what they’re going to talk about:

Oct. 1 – 10 Interviews

Oct. 11-20 Interviews

Lineup for Oct. 21-31 is coming.

THE QUICK SCHEDULE

If you just want the author’s name and date of appearance, see below.  Clicking on the author’s name will bring you to their Amazon page.

DAY IN OCTOBER

1 – Sarah Lyons Fleming

2 – Jamie Johnesee 

3 – Stevie Kopas

4 – Ann Christy 

5 – Perrin Briar

6 – S.G. Lee

7 – Gillian Zane

8 – Joseph “Zombie” Zuko

9 – Devan Sagliani

10 – Armand Rosamillia 

11 – Rachel Aukes

12 – Joe McKinney

13 – Michael Cairns

14 – Kate L. Mary 

15 – Peter Meredith

16 – Saul Tanpepper

17 – Jeremy Laszlo

18 – Deirdre Gould

19 – Eric A. Shelman 

20 – Rachel Higginson

21 – Al K. Line

22 – Ryan Casey

23 – Peter Cawdron

24 – W.J. Lundy 

25 – Luke Duffy 

26 – Rhiannon Frater

27 – Jake Bible 

28 – A. Giacomi

29 – Rick Chesler AND David Sakmyster

30 – J.M. Wilde

31 –  David W. Wright of the Self Publishing Podcast

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Ask the Alien – 8/9/15 – A.H. Browne – Do Aliens Still Probe?

By:  Alien Jones, Intergalactic Correspondent

Plus 5, carry the one = get some more roughage in your diet.

Plus 5, carry the one = get some more roughage in your diet.

Greetings Earth losers!

Earth losers, this is a very special edition of Ask the Alien.

Sometimes societies do things that are wrong and don’t realize those actions are wrong until years later.

It’s happened on your planet.  Europeans arrived in the New World, declared it to be theirs, ignoring the natives’ protests of, “Hey, guys, we’re right here.  We can totally hear you.”

To put it in perspective, imagine how P.O.’d you’d be if you were relaxing in your living room, watching some human sporting event, enjoying a beer and a pizza and out of nowhere, a European explorer plunks a flag down on your barca lounger and announces your crap is his crap now.

But I digress.

Aliens have their own sordid past and a question from science fiction author A.H. Browne of “Pouring my Art Out” causes this outer space traveler to rehash a dark time in my species’ history:

Actually, my first question was going to be; “Uh, you aren’t going to probe us, are you?” You jumped the gun on that one.

Indeed, I’ve addressed this difficult topic before, but since only 3.5 people read Bookshelf Q. Battler’s nonsense, it’s worth repeating.

Yes, it’s true.  In the past, and for many, many years, our Supreme Overlord, the Mighty Potentate, commissioned a series of abductions, which were carried out as follows:

  • Kidnap humans
  • Insert probing devices in hind quarters
  • Retrieve data on what makes humans tick, how they function, and what they had for breakfast
  • Return humans to Earth.
  • Spritz them with gin so NOBODY believes them.
  • In fact, to make sure nobody believes them, we usually took eccentric folk in the first place.  You know that guy at the bar who’s always babbling about how the government is reading his mind and cats are actually spies that report all of your activities to the CIA?  Yeah, we’d usually scoop him up in a heartbeat.

Was probing our finest hour?

No, but we learned a lot about you and after 10,000 years of experience, we offer, in the name of peace and putting this sad chapter behind us, the full summation of our probing knowledge:

Eat more fiber.  Seriously.  You’re all backed up worse than I95 after a semi-truck rollover in the eastbound express lane.

Further, a public service announcement:

The Mighty Potentate cancelled the probing project over a thousand years ago.  There has not been an officially sanctioned probing expedition since medieval times.  If you want to know why the dark ages were full of angry people who were constantly hacking each other to pieces, it’s because they were so angry that we were probing the bejesus out of them.

But that’s all done now.  Once we reached the limit of all possible data available through lodging roving robotic devices into human nether regions, the MP put the kibosh on the whole deal.  After all, no one wants to waste their time watching something they’ve already seen.  It’s like MASH.  Why are the reruns still on the air?  We get it, Klinger.  You’re wearing that dress in the hopes the brass will send you home.

However, we do have some young aliens who don’t know any better.  Your human teenagers range from 13-19.  Our aliens have their young and dumb period between 100-1,000.  I always say, “Boy, I hope no one thinks ill of me just because of some stupid stuff I did when I was 999 and didn’t know any better.”

Anyway, our younguns often get rowdy and their idea of a fun Saturday night includes:

  • Flying to Earth
  • Probing humans
  • Teleporting cows to different locations, thus confusing the cow and the human farmer who’s left wondering where his cow went.
  • Crop circles (the Mighty Potentate had once ordered these markings to show our shock troops where to land, but the hostile takeover was cancelled once your planet invented reality TV, thus proving to the MP that your species wouldn’t be a welcome addition to his empire.)

In short, if an alien demands to probe you, he does this without the Mighty Potentate’s blessing, and thus you may feel free to defend yourself from insertion of a Probe-o-matic.

Usually, all you have to do is state to the alien intruder, “I’m telling the Mighty Potentate on you!” and they’ll skeedaddle.

Ornery aliens always wise up once the possibility of vaporization is on the table.

Now that you humans no longer have to fear probing, might I suggest that you use your new found free time to read one of Browne’s books?  For example, a lazy, opinionated janitor at an intergalactic Texas saloon becomes an unlikely hero during a spaceship hijacking in Saloon at the Edge of Nowhere.

Browne seems to have a good sense of humor, so the 3.5 of you who enjoy BQB’s scribblings will probably like this book too.

(Did I really get through an article about probing and not make a Browne/brown pun?  I’m slipping.)

Alien Jones is the Intergalactic Correspondent for the Bookshelf Battle Blog, on a mission to raise Earth’s collective intelligence levels one question at a time. Do you have a question for the Esteemed Brainy One? Tweet it to @bookshelfbattle on Twitter, leave it in the comments on bookshelfbattle.com, or stop by Bookshelf Battle on Google Plus. If he likes your question, he might even promote your book, blog, other project in his answer.

Image courtesy of a shutterstock.com license.

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Free Promo Do-Over – Free Promo Saturday

Oh alright.

Promote anything you want in the comments below all day Saturday…

and you don’t have to swear fealty to the Mighty Potentate at all.

Just don’t tell him I said that.  I don’t want to be vaporized.

(Those who do hail the Mighty Potentate will get a promotional tweet as well though.)

ALL HAIL THE MIGHTY POTENTATE!

ALL HAIL THE MIGHTY POTENTATE!

Gee whiz, asking your 3.5 readers to pledge allegiance to an alien overlord goes over like a lead balloon around here.

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Free Promo Friday (With a Catch)

Attention Pitiful Humans,

Know ye, Earth creatures, that I, the Mighty Potentate, declare the following:

  • This Friday, July 31 and this Friday only…
  • You may plug whatever you want to plug in the comments section below.  Books.  Blogs.  Whatever.
  • Bookshelf Q. Battler reserves the right to not allow it, especially if you’re book is titled “Hooray for Hitler!”
  • Share a link to your books, blogs.  Share a blurb what it’s all about…

BUT – THE CATCH…

At the end of your comment, you must swear fealty to the Mighty Potentate.

A simple, “ALL HAIL THE MIGHTY POTENTATE!” shall suffice, but feel free to get creative.

ALL HAIL THE MIGHTY POTENTATE!

ALL HAIL THE MIGHTY POTENTATE!

For those 3.5 readers just tuning in, the Mighty Potentate is the Supreme and Unquestionable Ruler of A Planet the Name of Which is None of Your Beeswax.

He of Great Potentostitude is the boss of Alien Jones, author of “Ask the Alien.”  The MP has declared Bookshelf Q. Battler to be the chosen one, the individual whose exceptional fiction writing skills will surely prevent reality television from sweeping across the universe.

Boy howdy, does the Mighty Potentate hate Reality TV.  Don’t even get him started.

Thus, the MP has assigned AJ to aid BQB in the promotion of his blog.  Alien Jones cannot rest until Bookshelf Q. Battler is a famous writer.

So go forth, promote your stuff in the comments below, and remember, you have to say, “All Hail the Mighty Potentate” or some reasonable facsimile thereof.

Remember, a column that plugs you as an author and your books and blogs is possible if you ask Alien Jones a question.

Image courtesy of openclipart.org

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Spookyshelf Battle (Or, 31 Zombie Authors)

Happy Thursday, 3.5 Readers.

Egads!  A zombie outbreak in East Random Town!

Egads! A zombie outbreak in East Random Town!

Is it too early to start talking about Halloween?

Not when you’re as big a fan of that holiday as I am.

And not when you’ve got a big idea in mind.

Today, my main squeeze Video Game Rack Fighter and I took a walk, did some shopping, and we stopped by a fortune teller who’d set up shop and was predicting futures at five bucks a pop.

VGRF talked me into it and, much to my shock, this mysterious gypsy lady with a kiosk next to the Orange Julius stand at the East Random Town Mall prognosticated the following:

That on October 1 of this year:

  • VGRF, Alien Jones, myself, and possibly The Yeti will take in a scientific demonstration by my mentor, the esteemed Dr. Hugo Von Science.
  • That Dr. Hugo, through his gross incompetence, will botch his experiment, thus causing a zombie outbreak to sweep over my hometown.
  • VGRF, Alien Jones, and myself will be left with no choice but to fight our way through the undead hordes until we reach the safety of the Bookshelf Battle Compound.
  • Perhaps we’ll even come up a cure for the zombie epidemic in the process.

But to get through this, we will need the assistance of 31, count em, 31 Zombie Authors.

ALIEN JONES:  Zombie authors?!  That’s ridiculous!  They can’t even hold a pen.

BQB:  No, I mean authors who have written self-published books about zombies.  Though, hey, if there’s an actual function zombie who is an author, I’ll gladly talk to him as long as he promises not to bite me.

Every day, as a new part of the story unfolds, a self published zombie author will take a question from a member of our merry band of unlikely heroes.

Questions will mostly come from me, but Alien Jones and/or possibly the Yeti might have some inquiries.  Maybe even Dr. Hugo will participate.

I’ve also heard rumors of this thing called “Women’s Lib” so hell, Video Game Rack Fighter will have some questions too.

Examples:

DAY 1 – We need some supplies.  Author Fred Fredman of Super Scary Zombie Book, can you tell us the essentials of what a zombie apocalypse survivor needs to fend off the undead masses?

DAY 2 – The Yeti was just bitten by a zombie.  Author Kate Katerson of Incredibly Frightening Zombie Book, do you know if zombie bites affect animals?

DAY 3 – We’re holed up in an abandoned shack and the TV’s working.  Author Annie Annerson of You’ll Crap Your Pants if You Read this Zombie Book! Which zombie movie do you recommend we watch to pass the time and why?

I don’t know.  Just some initial questions off the top of my head.

Heck, you non-horror authors could get in on this too.  Submit questions you’d like to know about how to survive the zombie apocalypse and maybe one of the members of our survivor party will pass it along to an interested zombie author.

ANTICIPATED QUESTIONS ABOUT THIS IDEA:

1)  Just self-published horror authors?

Not necessarily.  If you’re a traditionally published zombie author, I’d love for you to participate as well.  If you have a zombie blog or are some other kind of zombie writer, let’s talk.

Hell, if you’re George Romero, you can just take the blog over.

2)  You do a lot of interactivity on this blog.  Why a story?  Why not just a straight-up interview?

In today’s rapid information age, anything fun is going to be checked out more than a traditional approach.

Take all the late night talk shows these days.

Long ago, all the stars would just sit on the couch and shoot the bull with Johnny and Ed.  It was boring as hell.

We love stars but their stories about their acting method or the lunch they ate that gave them a tummy ache or whatever?  Who cares.

Jimmy Fallon does hilarious bits with his guests instead.  Be honest.  Do you want to listen to Scar Jo babble about how hard it was to pretend to be whoever she just pretended to be, or do you want to see her play a rousing game of “Box of Lies” with Jimmy?

NBC – Box of Lies – The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon

I loved that.  There you go.  Scar Jo’s latest movie promoted.  I’m left thinking she’s a ball of fun and I wasn’t bored with a story about her acting process.

“Let’s Promote Ourselves with Fun” is what I’ve been going for with Alien Jones’ “Ask the Alien” Column, and that’s what I’m going for with this idea as well.

3)  So what are you looking for?

Your choice of length to an answer posed by myself or one of my buddies.  I’d say 500 words or so sounds decent, but more if you’re willing.

We could come to an agreement on what question would be best for you.  If you have one in mind you want to be asked, that’s possible.

4)  Are you going to make me look stupid?

Your books, blogs, reputation as a writer, they’re all important to you, as they should be.  I fully understand.  Hell, I’ve put so much work into my persona as”Bookshelf Q. Battler,” I’d be unhappy if someone besmirched BQB.

I’d envision the post with:

A)  A quick synopsis of what happened today (day of post) with BQB’s friends vs. the zombies.

B)  A quick overview of you, the author, including links to your books and or blogs and or Amazon page (or wherever you’re selling them)

C)  An answer YOU WRITE that I’m not going to change.  They’ll be your words, so you can’t go wrong.

5)  I’m still skeptical.

I don’t blame you.  I’m a guy claiming to own a magic bookshelf and also that I’m an alien’s friend.  It’s understandable that you’d want to kick the tires on this one.

To that end:

A) Alien Jones has had 17 satisfied customers in his Ask the Alien column so far.  I’ve never received a complaint from an author who participated yet.  Usually they’re pleased enough that they retweet or share AJ’s witty commentary on their own blogs.

ALIEN JONES’ MOST RECENT COLUMN – Here, you can read on as Alien Jones and a self-published author mix it up.

B)  Alien Jones has a “Don’t Like it and It Gets Taken Down No Problem Guarantee.”  If it turns out you don’t like the post, let me know, and it’ll come down.  If we can fix it to your liking, that’s great.  If not, no hard feelings.  I get that writing is a business and you have to do what you have to do.  No muss, no fuss, no problem.

But luckily, no author has asked for that yet.  And I believe that’s a sign that when you take part in this, you’re in good hands with me and my alien.

6)  Keep talking.

At present, I have 1,250 (approx) WordPress followers, 5,400 Twitter followers, and over 500 Google Plus followers.  All will be notified of your awesomeness.

7)  I’m not one of your 3.5 readers, so I’m not up to speed on your blog and therefore unsure if I could respond to one of your friends’ questions.

No problem.  Here’s the lowdown:

Bookshelf Q. Battler = the owner of a magic bookshelf where small versions of literary characters come to life and fight over limited shelf space.

Video Game Rack Fighter = Bookshelf Q. Battler’s girlfriend and author of a video game review column hopefully coming soon, if she ever comes up for air from playing Arkham Knight.

Alien Jones – The Mighty Potentate, ruler of an undisclosed planet, is displeased with the growing popularity of reality television.  He’s a fan of scripted media and feels promotion of fiction authors is the only hope to stem the reality tv tide.  To that end, the MP has dispatched his emissary, Alien Jones, to answer questions from self-published authors and in the process, make Earth a smarter place one question at a time.  Alien Jones truly believes in this mission, and isn’t doing it just because the Mighty Potentate has threatened to vaporize him if he abandons his assignment before BQB’s writing career is off the ground.

The Yeti – An international war criminal and fuzzy snow monster, The Yeti is currently imprisoned deep in the bowels of the Bookshelf Battle Compound.  However, BQB isn’t completely heartless and allows the big lug out once a week to watch Scandal.  Alien Jones brings the bean dip.

Dr. Hugo Von Science – A distinguished professor of science at Science University, Dr. Hugo is this blog’s science correspondent and holds patents on over a bazillion inventions.  We’re fairly certain he might be plotting a global conquest in his spare time, but his generally goodnatured demeanor covers up his underlying intentions well.

There you go.  That’s the blog in a nutshell.  It’s a labor of love for me, and it’s enjoyed daily by 3.5 people, one of whom is my Aunt Gertrude.

(There are some subsidiary, occasional characters.  Uncle Hardass, the ghost of my grumpy uncle, shows up once in awhile to tell me to give up all of my hopes and dreams of becoming a writer and get a job at the salt mines.  The Funky Hunks are a rap group I used to belong to and they show up now and then too.  Oh, and a whole slew of tiny book characters live on my magic bookshelf).

Don’t get me started on Bookshelf Q. Battledog.

I don’t believe the subsidiaries will get involved but you never know.  31 days means I need to come up with a lot of ideas to keep a story going.

8)  You had me until you said you have 3.5 readers.  Doesn’t seem worth it.

“3.5 Readers” is an ongoing, inside joke for this blog.  In the beginning, I really did only have 3.5 readers.  But I pressed forward and now I have more.  Like any blog, I have up days and down days.  I’d say on a good day I get anywhere around 30-70 hits.

Views are often double, sometimes triple, the hit count and I believe this is because people who do find this blog like it enough to stick around and read some more.

At any rate, I’ll do what I can to make this a fun, month long Zombie fiesta.  On my own, I’m going to be writing about The Walking Dead and the new Fear the Walking Dead and overall, if this works out, it’s just going to be 31 days of zombies.

9)  What’s in it for you?

Cross promotion, basically.  If you enjoy what you see here, I hope you’ll do want you can to point folks to my ramblings.  Not required, of course.  That’s about it.

10So now what?

At this point, I’d just like to get the ball rolling.  I’m starting early because to recruit 31 people to respond to a daily ongoing story is going to be like herding cats.

Right now, I’d just like to see who’s interested enough to let me know.  If you want in, Tweet me @bookshelfbattle or tell me in the comments here.

You can send me a private message on Twitter too. Just tweet me to let me know you sent it so it doesn’t get lost in the mass of spam I get from folks trying to sell me timeshares, miracle ointments, and **Cough cough*** self published books.

I’d say by mid-August, if I can wrangle enough authors to be interested in this, then I’ll be able to see who’s who, what’s what and come up with better questions that would apply to various authors.

If it’s a go, I’d like to get questions to you late August, or September and have 31 posts in the can by the time October rolls around.

But then again, this could be a dumb idea.

If it fizzles out and goes nowhere, then hey, I tried.  You’ve got to try, right?

Feel free to share with anyone you think would be interested.  If I see enough interest, I’ll start getting in touch with folks with formal instructions at the end of the summer.

Leave me your thoughts, 3.5.

Until next time, this has been Bookshelf Q. Battler and Video Game Rack Fighter, signing off:

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