Tag Archives: zompoc

Bookshelf Q. Battler’s Bad Ass Guide to Surviving a Zombie Apocalypse – Introduction

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Artistic rendition of what Bookshelf Q. Battler would look like as a zombie nerd.

Good day, noble reader.

Bookshelf Q. Battler here.

Most likely, we haven’t met yet, but I hold many titles.  Specifically, I’m a world renowned poindexter, epic nerdventurer, reviewer of pop cultural happenings, a magic bookshelf caretaker and last, but certainly not least, a champion yeti fighter.

I won’t waste too much of your time going into all that hullabaloo.  If you’re interested (and I hope you are) you can read more about my life by visiting my humble blog, “Bookshelf Battle” located for your convenience at bookshelfbattle.com

As of this writing, I’m proud to announce that the Bookshelf Battle Blog boasts upwards of 3.5 readers, and it would be a distinct honor for me if you would bring that total up to 4.5.

Hell, if you’re one of those fancy people who has friends, feel free to tell them about me and together, we can make my plan to get my website up to 30.5 readers by 2020 a reality.

If you’ll allow me this brief plug, the Bookshelf Battle Blog is a rousing celebration of all things nerdy.  I don’t mean to imply that you, specifically, are a nerd. Cool people purchase books on how to survive zombie apocalypses all the time.  For the rest of you nerds, I think you’ll feel right at home after your first visit.

I’m not going to lie.  It isn’t easy juggling my many duties. Did I mention on top of all this I hold two full-time jobs?

One of them even pays. I currently hold the distinguished position of Assistant to the Assistant of the Vice-President of Corporate Assistance of Beige Corporation, the world’s premiere supplier of beige products and accessories.

Our motto? “When you need to wear a color that says absolutely nothing about you as a person whatsoever, try beige!”

Yup. It’s a gig that is as boring as it sounds, but it does pay the bills.  Don’t worry, I’m only doing it until my career as a self-published writer takes off.

FYI my writing career needs to take off or else a maniacal alien despot has pledged that he will conquer the planet, but I don’t want to bore you with my problems.

Well, technically it’s also your problem, unless you’re one of those who weirdoes who thinks getting your planet conquered by an alien would be good times. Personally, I doubt it.

Theoretically, I’m not sure the aliens could do any worse than the folks running the joint right now, but this isn’t a political book, so I don’t want to open that can of worms.

Where was I?  Oh right.  Telling you about my two full-time jobs.

The second one only pays me in heartburn and increased stress levels.  But it’s also the reason why I have become an expert on the subject of zombie attacks.

You see, I currently hold the position of Acting Mayor of East Randomtown, USA.

I was never elected and honestly, I don’t even want the job because it requires me to listen to the incessant complaints of a bunch of dumb dummies.  Literally, Kim Kardashian could challenge any one of my constituents to a debate and come off sound like Steve Hawking against these brain donors.

Look, I’m not trying to disparage my home town, but facts are facts, and here are some facts that will help you get the full picture of what I’m dealing with here:

  • An Absurdly High Mortality Rate – My home town leads the world in deaths caused by accidental choking caused by an inability to walk and chew gum at the same time.  I have done my best with a “Spit Before You Hoof It” campaign but I can only do so much.  We are also the town with the highest number of accidental drownings due to people leaving their mouths open when it rains. Thanks to my leadership, every neighborhood has a drown warden now, charged with the task of reminding everyone to shut their suck holes at the first sight of a rain drop.
  • Poor Education – Thanks to my “Books Won’t Steal Your Soul” initiative, I was able to convince more townsfolk to pursue higher education for awhile.  Alas, that all stopped when the local Hipster Hut had a sale on laser pointers. Now half the populace just draws on their walls with their laser pointers while the other half, much like cats, try to catch the light between their hands.
  • Favorite Pasttimes – Baseball?  No. Our official town sport is “Getting Drunk and Accusing Other People of Thinking They’re Better Than You.”  Resident Otto Dobner holds the record, having accused three hundred and eighty seven residents of thinking they’re better than he is.  (Between you and I, most of them were.)

Point? I never would have voluntarily sought the position of being the leader of this moronic wasteland.

Rather, I was drafted into the position in October of 2015, during which I bravely and selflessly took it upon myself to save the town from a zombie apocalypse caused by the evil mad scientist, Dr. Hugo Von Science. (Side note: Dr. Hugo is still a columnist for my blog but my lawyer is working on breaking that contract on the grounds of, well, he’s a nutbag who enjoys causing zombie apocalypses.)

Long story short, our elected mayor was eaten by zombies and then our self-appointed mayor tried to kill me and feed me to zombies.  Ultimately, I had to take the position and am doing my best to suffer through it until someone with half a brain is willing to take this burden off my hands.

I’m not holding my breath.  If you’re interested in the events of the East Randomtown Zombie Apocalypse, you can read more about that on my blog. Hell, feel free to click a few extra buttons while you’re there because it gives me the warm fuzzies whenever I see my blog stats go up.

My purpose with this book isn’t to educate you about the zombie mayhem that went down in East Randomtown.  Suffice to say, under my leadership, a whopping 35% of the townspeople were saved, which sounds low, but if you think you could save more people during a zombie apocalypse, then feel free to write your own guide to surviving a zompoc, you braggadocios pain in the posterior, you.

Instead, my goal is to take you, the noble reader, open up your brain and pour in all the knowledge I gained as an experienced fighter of the undead, thus turning you into a bad ass zombie apocalypse survivor.

Noble reader, I’ll even make you this guarantee.

If a zombie apocalypse ever does break out and the knowledge you gained from this book does not prevent you from dying a miserably gruesome death at the hands of disgustingly wretched zombies, then simply send me a tweet @bookshelfbattle and I’ll happily give you a full refund.

And if there’s never a zombie apocalypse, then you’re welcome. No doubt that will be the result of all the zombie apocalypse avoidance information that you will also find inside this revered tome.

Thank you for your time, your interest, and most importantly, the sweet sticky scrilla you dropped on this book.  Know that it will be spent on a good cause, namely, a wings and skins sampler at my favorite chain restaurant, which I will stuff in my face hole in your honor.

Now take my hand and join me on this epic learning experience.

Hold onto your brains.  It’s going to be a bumpy ride. (And also, it makes it harder for the zombies to eat them.)

Warmest Regards,

Bookshelf Q. Battler

Blogger-in-Chief of the Bookshelf Battle Blog

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Top Ten Places to Ride Out a Zombie Apocalypse

 

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Hey 3.5 readers.

BQB here.  As a noted zombiologist/survivor of the East Randomtown Zombie Apocalypse, I’ve learned a thing or two about the undead.

To help you, the general public (or at least 3.5 of you), here is a list of places I’d advise you to get your butts to in the event of a zombie apocalypse.

Tell me if I’m right or wrong and also if there are places I forgot about that you feel would offer decent sanctuary from the zombie hordes.

10.  Supermarket or Combination Supermarket/All-Purpose Store i.e. Wal-Mart-esque Type Stores

Lots of food.  Lots of tools and equipment.  Eat the perishables first.  Packaged and canned food will last a lot longer.

My group and I were pretty cozy in the East Randomtown Price Town.  Alas, we had to leave to save my pain in the butt ex-girlfriend, Blandie, but hey, as a stand-up guy, sometimes you’ve gotta do what you gotta do.

9.  Hospital

Medical equipment, which unless you are a doctor or nurse, you won’t know how to use any of it.  But, there will be medical supplies that you could at least attempt to you.  If you have to fumble your way through helping a survivor using what little medical knowledge you have, you’ll obviously do better with supplies than without them.

Plus, let’s hope some doctors and/or nurses stayed in the hospital and they can help you and your buddies when you are injured in anti-zombie combat.

Of course, there’s no curing a zombie bite.  That’s just science. As the evil Dr. Hugo tells us, you can’t argue with science.

I’m still not talking to that evil mad scientist douche.

8.  Beach

Put the ocean or a large lake at your back and you only have to worry about zombies attacking your front.

Unless the zombies learn how to swim…muah ha ha….

7.  Playboy Mansion

If we’re all doomed anyway, might as well go out in style whilst oggling scantily clad supermodels.

Plus, in the midst of a zombie apocalypse with chances of being eaten are high, those babes might loosen their standards.

Suddenly nerds like us start to look pretty good.

3.5 lady readers, we’ll invite some hunky dudes for you…but they have to stay on the other end of the mansion.  We can’t let the supermodel babes think they have options.

By the way, did you know the Playboy Mansion is for sale?

I feel like my 3.5 readers have been in remiss for not starting a Kickstarter to raise the funds I need to make the Playboy Mansion my new BQB HQ.

Although if the bunnies aren’t included then all you get is a giant house filled with Hef’s old man stink.  Thanks but no thanks.

6.  Convenience Store

Same reason as why I would want to stay in a big store but there is an argument that the convenience store, being smaller, makes it less likely a zombie could sneak up on you.  If you can see it all by just looking around and you keep your back against one of the walls, that should help you in a zombie attack.

Then again, they usually have glass windows and are easily viewed from the street so you might end up being a sitting duck for a hungry zombie.

5.  The Morgue and/or Funeral Parlor

Hear me out on this one.

If there are already a few dead bodies lying around, just hang out near them and the zombies will sniff the long dead flesh, decide there’s nothing else in there but more dumb zombies, and shuffle on.

Then again they are zombies and they like to eat flesh…would they care that it is dead?

I don’t think I want to find out.

4.  Gun Store

For obvious reasons.  The Founding Fathers have bestowed upon us a constitutional right to pull off as many sweet zombie head shots as possible.

3.  Boat

Look, don’t let that family on Fear the Walking Dead fool you.  Those people are some dumb dummies.

Maintain radio silence or if you have to communicate, do so without sharing details of where you are.  Duh.

Get out to sea.  Keep moving.  Keep an eye on that radar for visitors.  Catch some fish.

2.  Train

Like Snowpiercer, but the train just keeps looping around a big track at a fast pace so damn zombies can’t catch it.

Holy shit.  That is a badass novel idea.  Now I need to drop what I am doing and write Zombie Piercer.

  1.  Your Own Home

Screw those zombies.  This is America.  Aint no undead bastard gonna run me off my own property.

Just be sure to board the place up, reinforce the doors, stockpile food, equipment, supplies, ammo and what the heck, you’ll be comfier in your own crib anway.

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Top Ten Warning Signs Your Girlfriend Might Be a Doomsday Prepper

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Your girlfriend will kick so much undead ass during the zombie apocalypse.

She thinks it’s the end of the world as we know it…but do you feel fine? 

Alas, to all good things must come an end.  Just as the dinosaurs were wiped out when they plugged in their curling irons all at once, so too may humanity cease to be one day.

But probably not while we’re alive.  It’s those future suckers who’ve got problems.

Or is the end closer than we think?  Your girlfriend sure seems to think so.

From BQB HQ in fabulous East Randomtown, here are the Top Ten Warning Signs Your Girlfriend Might Be a Doomsday Prepper:

10.   Attempted to get you to drink your own urine to, and I quote, “get you used to the robust flavor.” Not only did you hurt her feelings with your emphatic refusal, you’re also not able to look at lemonade the same way ever again.

9.  Refers to The Walking Dead and Mad Max as “training videos.”

8.  Every piece of clothing in her closet is camouflage.  In fact, if you were to wear camouflage and then stand in front of all of her camouflage clothes, you’d disappear.  Trippy.

7.  Her basement is filled with enough tin cans to give a hungry billy goat an orgasm.  (Get it?  Because doomsday preppers store canned food and billy goats like to eat tin cans and…oh.  I guess the cans have to be empty for a goat to want to chew on it.  You know what?  Forget it. When it needs to be explained, it isn’t funny.  Moving on…)

6.  She has more guns than your local run of the mill street gang…and she knows how to use ’em.

5.  She packed his and her bug out bags filled with survival gear to grab in a hurry when the zombies, aliens, machines, invading troops, catastrophic weather event, nuclear meltdown or other to be named tragedy unfolds, causing a need to “bug out” the door in a hurry.  Feel loved, my friend, because that means there’s no one else she’d rather spend the apocalypse with than you.

4.  Forget diamonds.  All she wants for Valentine’s Day is a gas mask.

3.  From hang nails to a steak dinner, she does all of her cutting with the same machete.

2.  Claims an ability to patch up wounds with bat guano (in case you were wondering why she keeps feeding ex-lax to that bat.)

  1.  Built an underground bunker.  Connected a hot tub, disco lights, and a recording of Barry White to a gas powered generator because hey, the world may have come to an end, but the romance is just beginning.
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How the West Was Zombed – Chapter 17

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No makeup. No fancy hairdo. Not even a garter or lingerie or a frilly dress. Miss Bonnie strolled out of the Bonnie Lass wearing a simple white blouse and a blue prairie dress, her hair tied back in a pony tail with the help of a pink ribbon.

She carried a tin of blueberry muffins, purchased from Anderson’s General Store, of course. It was the thought that counted.

Rain,” she mumbled to herself under her breath. “I’m sorry. I’m very sorry? No. I’m sorry’s good enough. Hell, what do I have to be ‘very’ sorry for?

As one might expect, the local brothel keeper turned a few heads as she walked by. No one had ever seen her dressed in a respectable manner before.

For the first time since her divorce courtesy of Smith and Wesson, Miss Bonnie felt ready to give her heart to another man. Well, to allow him to take up space in it at least. She wasn’t about to roll over easy and she still wanted Slade to work for it but she figured a tin of muffins was a good investment to get things started.

Alas, her hopes were dashed when she spotted Slade eating a piece of fried chicken whilst being chatted up by his new love interest.

Miss Bonnie spoke to herself much louder this time.

“Who in the HELL is that cu…”

An old man who managed to sneak up on her cut her off mid-sentence, er…insult.

“Bonnie Lassiter, as I live and breathe, is that you?” Gunther asked. He was fresh from the telegraph office with an envelope in his hand.

“Who is that?” Bonnie asked.

Bonnie and Gunther watched as Slade quietly ate lunch and Sarah beamed at her new beau.

“Who?” Gunther asked. “The Widow Farquhar?”

“The Widow Who-quar?”

“Farquhar,” Gunther said. “The new proprietress of the Olmsted property. Taken a real shine to our fearless leader.”

“What in the…” Miss Bonnie was livid. “Has HE taken a shine to her?”

“Hard to say,” Gunther said. “I’ve seen more talkative cacti than the Marshal but I suppose he wouldn’t have spent so much time fixing up her place if he wasn’t sweet on her.”

“Sweet on her?” Miss Bonnie protested. “She looks like a damn broom stick with tits!”

“Miss Bonnie,” Gunther began but was cut off by Miss Bonnie, who felt it necessary to opine whether or not the Widow Farquhar was “lousy with syphilis.” She leaned toward the affirmative but she may have been biased.

“Miss Bonnie,” Gunther tried again. “Seeing you without your can can girl outfit on… without all the fancy straps and bells and whistles and so on…”

“Shut up, Gunther.”

“…dressed like a school marm with a handful of muffins. I’m liable to deduce you’re on your way to court our illustrious Marshal.”

That deduction was met with a spontaneous raspberry. “Pbbbhhht!”

“Like I’d ever give a hoot about that worthless jackass,” Miss Bonnie said.

She looked over just in time to catch Sarah laughing as she brushed some crumbs off of Slade’s cheek.

Ophelia Hutchins, the corpulent, elderly wife of local banker Ed Hutchins walked by.

“Afternoon, Deputy,” Ophelia said, ignoring Miss Bonnie, as most who disapproved of her profession tended to do. “I say, did you happen to peak at the Marshal and the Widow Farquhar?”

“Yessum.”

“They make a handsome couple, don’t they?” Ophelia asked.

Gunther opened his mouth to answer then closed it when he saw Miss Bonnie’s scrunched up face. That was her signature move whenever she was doing her best to hold back tears, or rage, or whatever emotion was on the way, rage being more likely in this case.

“I’ll have to uh…study that topic and back to you Mrs. Hutchins,” Gunther said. “Good day.”

“Good day, Deputy,” Ophelia said and then as she waddled away, “Whore.”

“Why does everyone call that bitch ‘The Widow Farquhar?’” Miss Bonnie asked.

“I don’t rightly know,” Gunther said. “It’s a title I suppose. Like ‘President Hayes’ or ‘Governor Montgomery’ or ‘The Widow Farquhar.’”

“So that’s all you have to do to get a title?” Miss Bonnie asked. “Just marry some asshole who up and croaks on you and then everyone considers that the best achievement a woman can ever have so you’re ‘The Widow Whatever-Your-Dead-Husband’s-Name-Was for the rest of your days?’”

“Her first name’s Sarah,” Gunther said. “I don’t think most folks call her ‘The Widow Farquhar.’”

The white haired, good natured, ever smiling Reverend Cavanagh happened by.

“What a glorious afternoon,” he said. “Hello Gunther. Hello Whore.”

“Reverend,” Gunther and Miss Bonnie replied in unison. She wasn’t lying to Slade earlier when she told him she was used to being called a whore.

“Ahh!” the Reverend said as headed to the church. “Excuse me but I must introduce myself to the Widow Farquhar and welcome her to our humble community. Take care, Gunther and Miss Bonnie, I’ll continue to pray for your blackened soul.”

“Yeah,” Miss Bonnie said. “Thanks for that.” Then to Gunther she added, “See?”

“I don’t what to say,” Gunther said. “I’m sorry you’re miffed, Miss Bonnie, but I’m not sure it’s my place to get in the middle of something.”

The muffin tin was spiked on the ground and its former handler stormed off back to her house of ill repute. Gunther picked it up.

“You want me to give your muffins to Rain?” the old man asked.

“He can have that slut’s muffins!” Miss Bonnie cried back.

Gunther helped himself to a muffin, chomping down on it like it was the tastiest thing he’d ever eaten.

“He won’t miss one.”

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How the West Was ZOMBED – Chapter 3

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“Step right up! Step right up!”

While Gunther was pleading Slade’s case to deaf ears, a flashy salesman set up a cart just outside the Bonnie Lass’ double doors.

The only thing slimier than this lowlife’s pitch was his appearance. He had a devilish black beard, the kind that came down his face to a point just like the letter, “V.” His mustache curled upwards at each end. He wore a red velvet suit, wrapped his neck up with an ascot, and carried a cane topped with a golden ball. Sitting on his head was a top hat that extended an extra two feet above his cranium.

“Step right up, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, step right up for a taste of Doc Faraday’s Miracle Cure-All!”

A large group gathered to listen to the huckster’s silver tongue wag away as it made all manner of suspicious promises.

“Step right up and purchase a bottle of the last medicine you will ever need!” the man said. “Lead an insurrection against indigestion, a revolution against devolution and decertify your decrepitude!”

Men. Women. Young and old. Several suckers were already holding the bottles they bought.

“Heart palpitations will listen to your stipulations, constipation will no longer be a source of consternation and you’ll never fight another bout with the gout!”

The show drew Gunther’s interest. He immediately sized up the charlatan for the fraud that he was, but he wanted to see where the doc was going with his routine.

“Ulcers will be ousted, your pain will be drained and tumors will become mere rumors!”

“Doctor,” an old woman said.

“Yes, my dear!” the salesman said.

“I got the worst pain in my bones. Will this help?”

The salesman didn’t flinch an inch.

“But of course, madam, but of course!” he said. “Bid me a moment as I tell you a tale of an elderly gentleman I met not more than fifty miles away who suffered from the most abominable, most abysmal case of rheumatism I’ve ever seen in my entire medical career. Let me tell you this man could barely move without crying out in debilitating pain. One sip of my Miracle Cure-All and…do you know what he did?”

The crowd waited for an answer with baited breath.

The so-called doctor was quite a showman. He jumped up and clicked his heels in the air. “Why, that gent started dancing about like a wild man, thanking me, thanking Jesus, thanking Mary, thanking Joseph, thanking God Almighty himself for bringing me to him so that I was able to introduce him to Doc Farraday’s Miracle Cure-All!”

Doc raised a bottle in the air. “Now remember, dear, dear patients, one spoonful will bring a fever down, two spoonfuls will cure a seizure of the heart and return it to its regular beating rhythm and as a trained physician, I can recommend half a spoonful a day every morning as an excellent regimen to ward off diseases, disorders, and other various and sundry maladies of the body, mind and spirit.”

“Does it cure flatulence?” a cowboy asked. That question drew dirty looks from the crowd. “I’m asking for a friend. He uh…he farts a lot.”

“Indubitably, sir, indubitably,” Doc replied. “Patients have reported to me that one swig of Doc Farraday’s Miracle Cure-All has given their bodily odors a robust, flowery scent with just a hint of lavender.”

Everyone reached into their pockets and pulled out their money. Gunther had enough and walked on.

“Excuse me, sir!”

Not realizing that he was the sir in question, Gunther kept walking.

“You there! Constable!”

Gunther stopped in his tracks and turned around. The good doctor abandoned the crowd, clutching a roll of dollars in his fist.

“Good day, sir!” the doctor said with an extended hand. Gunther hesitated. The doc was dirty for sure and the old timer didn’t want any of that existential muck to rub off on him. But, not wanting to be impolite, Gunther took it and shook it anyway.

“Faraday’s the name,” the salesman said. “Doctor Elias T. Faraday by way of Boston, Massachusetts.”

“Uh huh,” Gunther said, doing his best impression of an interested person.

“Oh,” Doc said. “But I’m no relation to the Chestnut Hill Faradays, I assure you. A band of beggars I’ll have you know. I wouldn’t trust my billfold around any of them if I were you.”

“I’ll remember that,” Gunther said.

“And you are?” Doc asked.

“Gunther,” the old man said. “Beauregard of the Kansas Beauregards. They’re all assholes but I love ’em just the same.”

“Yes, yes,” Doc said. “A man of good humor. I like it!”

The doctor handed Gunther a black bottle. Printed in cursive lettering on the bottle’s label were the words, “Doc Faraday’s Miracle Cure-All.”

“A gift for you, sir,” Doc said. “The very last medicine you’ll ever need. My way of thanking you for your efforts to protect this burgeoning metropolis.”

Gunther looked the bottle over. “What’s in it?”

Doc stroked his beard. “Ah, an astute question, my good man! Let me see. It’s a vast array of only the finest narcotics I assure you. Laudunum. Opium. Baking soda. Tree bark shavings. Dogwood tree leaves. Beaver mucous. Spider eggs, but only for texture. I’ll tell you as to date the scientific community is in a state of flux as to the alleged curative properties of spider eggs…tonic water, raspberry juice, cocaine…”

Gunther’s one eye lit up. “Did you say, ‘cocaine?'”

“Indeed, sir, indeed, plucked from the leaves of the finest coca plants I’ll have you know.”

Gunther pulled the cork out of the bottle and smelled it. “Ugh! That’s worse than an outhouse after a backyard barbecue.”

“No one ever said that the path toward vim and vigor was an easy one, sir. Tell me, do you suffer from any infirmities?”

“Infirma-what-ities?” Gunther asked.

“Infirmities,” Doc said. “Aches. Pains and the like.”

“Now that you mention it, my back always feels like a bull ran over it.”

“Then please,” Doc said. “Take a sip and feel like a young man again.”

Gunther looked at Doc. “Horse shit,” Gunther said. “What kind of flim flam scam are you runnin’?”

“This is all on the level, good sir, I assure you,” Doc said. “My reputation as a Harvard trained doctor of medicine is on the line with every bottle I purvey to the public and I tell you I would never commit an act of indiscretion that would put my good name into disrepute, sir.”

“Here goes nothin,'” Gunther pressed the bottle to his lips, took a pull, instantly sprayed it out of his mouth in a fine mist, then offered a trail of obscenities not repeatable in mixed company.

“Son of a bitch, Doc! Did you stick a horse’s pecker in a bottle and collect the piss?!”

Doc slapped his knee. “That’s a good one, sir but no, no my good man, Doc Faraday’s Miracle Cure-All may be an acquired taste, but it is one you shall have to acquire just the same in order to extend your life many, many years past your natural expiration date!”

“Shit,” Gunther said. He handed the bottle back. Doc took it and tucked it into his coat pocket.

“I’ll just keep my date with the grave if its all the same,” the old man said.

Gunther walked off again.

“Good sir!”

“What now?”

“I could not help but catch some of your impassioned plea as I peddled my wares outside the local house of ill repute…”

“Do you just love listening to yourself talk all day?” Gunther asked.

“Indeed I do for oration is one of the many gifts our beloved creator has bestowed upon me but to get to the point at hand, am I to understand our Marshall intends to stave off a band of miscreants on his own?”

“That’s the long and short of it,” Gunther replied.

Doc grabbed his lapels and puffed out his chest. “Then sir, I should very much like to lend a hand in this, Highwater’s darkest hour.”

“You?” Gunther laughed at the thought.

“Indeed, sir.”

“Are you handy with the steel?”

The good doctor let his cane drop to the ground. He shot his arms straight out to the left and right. Out from under his cuffs popped two sterling silver revolvers. Gunther was impressed.

“That’ll do.”

“An invention of my own design,” Doc said. “Spring loaded contraptions that respond with the mere flick of a wrist.”

“I really don’t give a musty ox shit, Doc,” Gunther said. “Are you comin’ or not?”

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How the West Was ZOMBED – Chapter 2

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The Bonnie Lass. It was named for its owner and proprietor, one Miss Bonnie Lassiter, declared by the populace to be the most beautiful woman in all of Highwater. A wood carved outline of her sultry shape adorned the sign hanging above the swinging set of double doors to her saloon.

Gunther strolled on in.

Drinking. Gambling. Wine, women, and song. Women especially. Ladies of the evening, even though it was daytime.

A fight over a fixed card game was in full swing. Grown men punched one another and slammed their opponents in the back with wooden chairs that conveniently splintered and cracked into pieces upon impact. There was even a fair amount of glass bottles being cracked over heads with reckless abandon.

The ladies were quite bored with it all. They milled about the bar, clad in fancy, frilly lace dresses, their hair done up perfectly, faces painted like works of art.

“Hey,” Gunther said.

No one paid the old man any mind.

“HEY!”

Still nothing. Gunther pulled out his sidearm and fired a round into the air. Everyone stopped what they were doing and looked at the codger.

“That’s more like it,” Gunther said.

“GODDAMN IT, GUNTHER!” came Miss Bonnie’s sweet though presently angry voice from upstairs. “WAS THAT YOU?”

Embarrassed, Gunther removed his hat and held it over his heart. “Yes, Miss Bonnie.”

“WHAT KIND OF A HORSE’S ASS SHOOTS A GUN INSIDE A PLACE OF BUSINESS?!”

Gunther hadn’t really thought about it. “I’m sorry, Miss Bonnie.”

“ARE YOU GOING TO FIX THE HOLE?!”

Gunther hadn’t thought about that either. “Yes, Miss Bonnie,” he said. “First chance I get.”

“YOUR CEILING IS MY FLOOR YOU KNOW! ARE YOU TRYING TO GET ME KILLED?!”

“Point taken, Ms. Bonnie.”

The cowboys let go of the various headlocks and holds they had on one another and gathered around the deputy.

“Gents,” Gunther said. “As you’re all well aware, the Buchanan Boys are on the way and old Smelly Jack Buchanan himself has put out the word that any man who stands in the way of his lootin’ and robbin’ and rapin’ and what have you is a dead man.”

Gunther stretched his boney arm toward the swinging doors.

“Out there on our main thoroughfare stands our man of the hour, Marshall Slade.” There was a tinge of pride in Gunther’s voice. “Who among you is man enough to stand with him?”

The room grew quiet. All the men looked at the walls, their boots, anywhere to avoid looking directly at the man who was about to lecture them.

“Well golllll….eee,” Gunther said. “Don’t y’all go and volunteer at once now, I’ll never be able to count everyone up.”

The general feeling in the room grew grim. The men were ashamed of themselves. They knew it. Gunther knew it. He did his best to play on it.

“This is our town, ‘aint it?” Gunther asked. “We built it, didn’t we? Who in tarnation does Smelly Jack think he is, that he can just waltz in here like he owns the place and take everything that ‘aint nailed down?”

Waldo Fleming, who in addition to his employment as the Bonnie Lass’ bartender served as the town’s illustrious mayor, was a goofy looking sourpuss. Hair parted straight down the middle, buck teeth and he always looked like he was sucking on a lemon.

“Ahh, hell, Gunther,” Waldo said. “Who are you to bullshit us about standing up for what’s right? Why, I’ve seen you and every other Marshall before Slade hightail it out of town like cats with their tails stuck between their legs whenever shit got bad. You’re just as yellow as the rest of us!”

Shock. A look of total shock took over Gunther’s face. “Them’s fightin’ words, ya’ ornery son of a motherless goat!”

“It’s the truth!” Waldo fired back.

Gunther put his hat back on. “Mayyyybe it’s the truth,” he said. “Or….” The old man raised a finger in the air to make a point. “Maybe, just maybe, I never had faith in any other Marshall we had before like I do with the one we got now.”

The group of degenerate barflies mulled that one over for a spell.

“Do you really?” Waldo asked.

The old man never could bluff. “No,” he said. “But he’s the first Marshall crazy enough to stand up for us and we can’t very well let him do it on his lonesome now can we?”

Martin Blake was a ranch hand who worked on a spread on the outskirts of town. He never failed to spend his pay at the Bonnie Lass, or to offer his two cents in any discussion.

“Slade’s an asshole,” the burly brute said as he slammed his beer mug down on his table.

Gunther spun around so quickly his fake eye almost popped out of its socket.

“Did you just say what I think you said you lousy, good for nothin’ sack of…”

Blake stood up and rested his hands on his big brass belt buckle. “Yeah, I did,” he interrupted. “Slade’s a fool. He’s gonna get everyone in town killed. He oughta stand down. That’s all a man can do when he’s up against a crew of roughnecks. Let Buchanan have his way with the town. Anyone who tries to stop him is just going to piss him off and egg him on to kill more innocent people.”

Claps. Foot stomps. Shouts of “Here, here!” and “‘Atta boy!'” and so on. The crowd was with the ranch hand.

“Stand down,” Gunther said. “That’s what y’all think the Marshall, our duly designated officer of the law, ought to do, is that right?!”

“YEAH!!!!” said literally everyone.

Gunther stopped by the bar, picked up an abandoned beer, and swilled it down. He didn’t care who it belonged to. “So that’s the path this country is on now, is it?”

He stepped back to the center of the room. “Well, is it?”

Burt Townsend, the local blacksmith, stood in the corner with his back against a support beam, an apron full of soot and a face weathered by too much time near a hot fire. “Blake’s right, Gunther. Slade’s playing a dangerous game here.”

“I can’t believe my own ears,” Gunther said. “What a sorry sack of so and so’s y’all have become…that y’all are such a bunch of weak kneed, lily livered spineless swine that you’ve tricked your soft, sad little mush brains into believing the bad guy isn’t Smelly Jack. That Marshall Slade is the bad guy here.”

The old timer paced back and forth as he continued. “That our town being sacked is just part of life in the West, something we should just become accustomed to, like tornados and coyotes and the like? Is that it?”

“Yes,” Townsend said. “Sorry, Gunther, but that’s exactly it.”

Waldo and Blake had always been degenerates, but Townsend had always been a reputable individual. His words hurt Gunter a little more. What really hurt though was that the old man secretly agreed with the crowd, but he wasn’t about to give them the satisfaction of letting them know that.

From upstairs came the sound of footsteps moving around, followed by a door opening. Miss Bonnie herself, in all her fiery red haired, big blue eyed, attractive and sensual glory, burst out of her bedroom wearing scandalous black lingerie that left little to the imagination.

She leaned over the bannister and looked down toward Gunther. “Is Rain in trouble?” she asked.

Gunther nodded then quickly averted his eyes, scanning about the room to find anything, anything at all to look at other than the scantily clad beauty. It wasn’t that he wasn’t interested but rather, he still considered himself a married man, even though his darling Mavis had passed on a decade prior.

“Yessum,” he said. “A bit of a spot.”

“Is there anything I can do?” Miss Bonnie asked.

That question elicited an endless supply of laughs from the lecherous losers.

“Why no, Ma’am,” Gunther said. “On account of you being…well…a…”

“What?” Miss Bonnie asked.

Just then, Roscoe Crandall, a tall, gangly looking doofus who loaded crates at the mercantile, ran out of Miss Bonnie’s bedroom with his pants around his angles, his pink polka dotted drawers on full display.

“Dammit, woman!” Roscoe yelled. “I ‘aint finished yet!”

Roscoe made a move to grab the little lady but ended up being grabbed himself. He was then thrown over the railing and down to the saloon’s main floor, where luckily for him, a table broke his fall.

“You’re finished when I say you’re finished, pervert!” Miss Bonnie shouted.

“I…I want…my money back,” Roscoe managed to say before he passed out.

“NO REFUNDS!” Miss Bonnie hollered. She turned back to Gunther. “You were saying?”

“Well,” Gunther said. “No doubt you can handle yourself, Miss Bonnie, but I just don’t think I’d be able to sleep at night if I went and put a woman into harm’s way is all.”

The redhead turned around. “I figured as much. Tell Rain I’m rooting for him just the same.”

And with that, the wealthiest woman in Highwater returned to her room and shut the door.

Gunther used his one good eye to give the contingent of cowards the evil eye.

“May it never be forgotten that the only one of you with the decency to offer a helping hand was a female,” the old man said.

Gunther knew it. The whole room knew it. Every man in the joint put his head down in shame, except for Roscoe. He was fast asleep.

“Pathetic,” Gunther said as he headed through the double doors. “PA-THET-IC!!!”

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#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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BQB’s Zombie Apocalypse Survivor’s Journal – Day 12 (Part 1)

“What are you up to Alien Jones?”  I asked.

“Consulting the human news reports,”  Alien Jones said as he surfed his space phone.

“Aww sweet,”  Bernie said as he cupped his hands and held them out from his chest, performing his best imitation of a stacked woman.  “Put on the channel that has that hot ass blonde chick with big titties!”

“Which one?”  Alien Jones asked.  “All human news outlets appear to require nothing of their reporters other than an attractive face and a copious bosom region.”

“Just pick one,”  I said.

Alien Jones pushed a button and put a news channel up on a holographic display so we could all watch it.  A television sized squared hovered in the middle of the room.

On it?  A female reporter, just as Bernie described.

Boo! Worst angle ever!

Boo! Worst angle ever!

“Hello.  I’m a Hot Ass Blonde Chick with Big Titties reporting live from West Randomtown.”

“Wow,”  VGRF said.  “It’s like they don’t even TRY to hide it anymore.”

“…where the military has established a forward operating base to respond to the zombie apocalypse in East Randomtown.”

The screen switched to the news room.  Walking, talking Ken doll Kurt Manley sat behind the Network News One desk, shuffling some papers to give the appearance that he was doing something important.

“Hot Ass Blonde Chick with Big Titties,”  Kurt said.  “I see General Morganstern is with you.  What’s his assessment of the situation?  Just how dire are things in East Randomtown?”

General Thomas Morganstern

General Thomas Morganstern

The reporter held her mic under the face of the grizzly, war weary General Thomas Morganstern.  I recognized his gravelly voice from a number of war related news reports over the years.  He wore a finely starched uniform that was lousy with medals.

“Make no mistake about it, Hot Ass Blonde Chick with Big Titties,”  General Morganstern said.  “East Randomtown is filled to the brim with hideous, flesh eating monsters who’d rip your larynx out and swallow it whole as soon as look at you.”

“That sounds horrible,” the reporter interjected.

“It certainly does,”  General Morganstern continued.  “However, what your viewers need to be aware of, Hot Ass Blonde Chick with Big Titties, is that the U.S. Army is here to keep the situation under control.  We’ve surrounded East Randomtown with our best and bravest, who are on standby to eradicate any zombie who dares attempt to shuffle over the town line.  Moreover, a series of coordinated air strikes are scheduled to begin bright and early tomorrow morning.”

“What’s the first target, General?”  the reporter asked.

“Well, Hot Ass Blonde Chick with Big Titties,”  the General said.  “Surely, you understand that normally I would not advertise over the public airwaves where we intend to hit the enemy.  However, since we’re only dealing with a bunch of dumbass zombies here, I can tell you the first strike will be on ground zero of the zombie apocalypse, the East Randomtown Mall.”

We all let out a collective gasp.  One of us emitted a panicked fart.  I swear it wasn’t me.  It probably wasn’t Alien Jones either as he doesn’t have a butt.  My guess is it was Bernie though I never did get closure on that one.

Back to the newsroom.

Kurt Manley, Network News One Anchor

Kurt Manley, Network News One Anchor

“Hot Ass Blonde Chick with Big Titties…”

“Yes, Kurt?”

“What about collateral damage?”  the anchorman asked.  “Surely there must be a few survivors left within the East Randomtown limits.”

Back to the base.

“Have you taken potential survivors into account, General?”  the reporter asked.

“Indeed we have, Hot Ass Blonde Chick with Big Titties,”  General Morgenstern replied.  “The public should rest assured that through a carefully conducted campaign of drone surveillance, we have concluded beyond a shadow of a doubt that there are no more human beings left alive in East Randomtown.  Every last resident is either dead or has been turned into a hideous zombie.  Once we’ve softened up key positions through a series of bombing runs, our units will move in and clean the rest up.”

A bunch of forty-something ladies wearing pink bedazzled cat sweatshirts and blue denim sweatpants marched onto the scene, waving picket signs and shouting, “Save the Funky Hunks!  Save the Funky Hunks!”

Bernie was beside himself.

“People still love us!”  Bernie shouted.  “I knew it!”

“Hot Ass Blonde Chick with Big Titties,”  Kurt said.  “What’s going on?”

“I don’t know, Kurt,”  the reporter said.  “I’m going in to investigate.”

The reporter pulled aside one of the protestors.

“Excuse me, ma’am.  I’m a Hot Blonde Ass Blonde Chick with Big Titties reporting for Network News One…”

“Oh yah!”  the lady responded with a thick North Dakotan accent, “I love the Network News One, dontcha know?”

“May I have your name?”

“I’m Mrs. Mary Flunderson of Bismarck and my friends and I represent the North Dakota Funky Hunks Fan Club.”

Marge Flunderson, Funky Hunks Superfan

Marge Flunderson, Funky Hunks Superfan

“The Funky Hunks?”  the reporter asked.

“Oh yah,”  Mary said.  “They were a real nice, polite duo of boys from the late 90’s and early 2000’s who rapped about wholesome topics like looking both ways before crossing the street and asking a girl for permission before you give her the old smooch-a-roo.”

“I don’t understand,”  the reporter said.  “What do they have to do anything?”

Mary pointed to her picket sign.  It had pictures of Bernie and I from back in the day, decked out in our rap gear, backwards hats and all.

Funky Hunks represent.

Funky Hunks represent.

“The Funky Hunks used to go by the names ‘Read N. Plenty’ and ‘MC Plotz’ but they’re really Bookshelf Q. Battler and Bernie Plotznick.  They’re both residents of East Randomtown and as soon as we heard about the zombie apocalypse, we drove all the way here to hold a candlelight vigil for those wonderful boys.”

“Does she realize you guys are just a tad younger than she is?”  VGRF asked.

“Hold on,”  I replied.  “Hear the woman out.”

“Our mothers loved the Funky Hunks and now we do too, thanks to streaming media, dontcha know?”

“Have you been getting residuals?”  I asked Bernie.

“Yeah,”  he said.  “The studio sends me a ten dollar check every year.”

“Where’s my check?”

“It’s uh…supposed to be for the both of us,”  Bernie said, sinking his head down.  “Sorry yo.”

“Oh,”  I said.  “That’s ok.  Keep it.  You need it.”

“The Army cannot blow up the East Randomtown mall,”  Mary said.  “BQB and Bernie are there right now!”

“How do you know this?”  the reporter asked.

“Have you ever read the Bookshelf Battle Blog, Hot Ass Blonde Chick with Big Titties?”  Mary asked.

“No,”  the reporter answered.  “Is that even a real thing?”

“Yes,”  Mary said.  “It’s a blog with 3.5 readers operated by Mr. Battler.  He’s been keeping a zombie apocalypse survivor’s journal from day one.”

“I have noticed a slight uptick in readers lately,”  I said.  “It must be Mary and her buddies!”

Kurt put a concerned look on his face and intervened.

“Hot Ass Blonde Chick with Big Titties.”

“Kurt?”

“I’m told our in-studio technician is working to confirm the existence of this so-called ‘Bookshelf Battle Blog’ but in the meantime, what is General Morganstern’s reaction?”

“General Morganstern,”  the reporter said.  “In light of this claim that two former rappers are alive and inside the East Randomtown Mall, will you cancel tomorrow’s airstrike?”

“Absolutely not, Hot Ass Blonde Chick with Big Titties,”  the General said.  “These forty-something year old ladies in blue denim stretch pants are mistaken.  We’ve researched the matter thoroughly.  Everyone in East Randomtown is either dead or a zombie.”

The military man raised his hands.

“Please disperse ladies!  There is nothing to see here!  Leave now or you will be arrested!”

Army dudes marched in and cleared the ladies out.

“Reporting live for Network News One, I’m a Hot Ass Blonde Chick with Big Titties, signing off.”

Back to the newsroom.

“Thank you Hot Ass Blonde Chick with Big Titties,”  Kurt said.  “Next up, is your breakfast cereal trying to strangle you in your sleep?  Another Hot Ass Blonde Chick with Big Titties will give you the answer after this word from our sponsor…”

“Alien Jones,”  I said.  “Can you put up my blog stats?”

AJ punched a button and the Bookshelf Battle Blog stats were on screen.

“Whoa!”  I said.  “One million…two million…three million…THREE POINT FIVE MILLION AND….back to 3.5.  Everyone’s back to officially not giving a shit.”

“Better to have had readers and lost than to have never had readers at all,”  Alien Jones said.  “But I believe we have bigger problems.”

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#31ZombieAuthors – Day 11 Interview – Rachel Aukes – Dante Zombified

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My guest today is Rachel Aukes, author of The Deadland Saga.  Set in a zombie infested midwest, the first book of the series, 100 Days in Deadland, was named one of the best books of 2013 by Suspense Magazine.  The trilogy concluded in May of this year with Deadland Rising.

Under the pen name, “Berinn Rae,” Aukes also wrote Stealing Fate, a USA Today recommended read.

Ahh let me see here.  Pick up the old space phone.  Dial up Rachel.  It’s ringing.  Hmm hmm la la la.  Hello!

RACHEL: Hey, BQB. Great to hear from you! How’s life treating you?

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51thgaVbyUL__SX311_BO1,204,203,200_Q.  Terrible, Rachel.  I’m currently riding out a zombie apocalypse in a small locked room.  Outside, zombies are desperate to get in here and gobble me up like a nice Christmas ham.  Inside, I’m stuck with my insufferable ex-girlfriend, who complains about everything I do.  Naturally, I feel like I’m trapped in the seventh circle of hell. 

But I don’t want to bother you with my personal problems.  What I want to know is what inspired you to weave that classic English 101 staple, Dante’s Inferno, into 100 Days in Deadland?

A.   I’d always wanted to write a zombie tale but never found the right inspiration… that was, until I was watching O Brother Where Art Thou one night, which is a quirky retelling of Homer’s Odyssey. Dante’s “Inferno” popped into my mind, and instantly I knew the zombie tale I needed to write.

Oh, and look at the bright side. You’re not trapped inside with two ex-girlfriends.

BQB EDITORIAL NOTE:  TWO ex-girlfriends?  What am I, Hugh Hefner?

Q.  The series continues, mashing Dante Alighieri’s other writings with zombitastic goodness.  I’m going to go out a limb and guess you’re a lover of the classics.  If you could zombify another classic novel, which one would it be and why?

A. I do love the classics. Most modern stories I’ve read seem to be simply new versions of old stories. If I zombified another classic, I’d go for The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emma Orczy (a newer classic). I think it’d be a hoot to write a fun romp of a witty master of disguise who rescues people during the zombie apocalypse.

Q.  Your protagonists come from two very different backgrounds.  Cash is an office worker with few survival skills while Clutch is a battle hardened veteran/PTSD sufferer.  Do disasters have a tendency to bring people together who would normally never have anything to do with one another?

A. I believe disasters unveil the best and worst in people by throwing them into inconceivable situations without a lifeline. Cash and Clutch never would’ve met in their normal lives. It took Cash running from zombies on the interstate and being given a lift by Clutch in his big rig for the two to be given the chance to meet… and discover that they made a perfect zombie-killing pair.

Q.  You’ve also written sci-fi romance under your pen name, “Berinn Rae.”  What are some of the key components of a good sci-fi romance story?

A. Sci-fi romance needs to have the same ingredients of any good story—a tempo that turns the page, characters we can love or hate, and a plot that makes us think. For sci-fi romance, you sprinkle on a happily-ever-after ending (or happily-for-now in the case of my stories since I’ve never been one for Disney princess stories). Then, stir in elements of science fiction. In my Colliding Worlds trilogy, an intergalactic war came to earth.

Q.  Rachel, you’ve received accolades from USA Today and Suspense Magazine.  Did you ever dream you’d get this far when you first put pen to paper (or fingers to keys?)

A.  Hell, no. I began writing because I had too many stories playing bumper cars in my head. I was ecstatic when people paid money for my stories. Whenever my stories receive accolades, I’m downright delirious. I love telling stories—that I’m fortunate enough to be building a career out of it makes me feel like the luckiest person on earth.

Q.  Speaking of, how did you end up writing professionally?

A. After I wrote my first story (a paranormal thriller), I shopped it around to a few agents and small presses. One of those small presses gave me my first break (This was before self-publishing had become a big thing). With that first sale, I learned the full editing process and the publishing process on a publisher’s dime. Not long after, I wrote a sci-fi with mild romantic elements and got a three-book deal with a larger house for the Colliding Worlds Trilogy. It took me three years before I dipped my toes in the self-publishing waters with the Deadland Saga, and I’ve never looked back.  

Q.  Thanks for taking the time to help a nerd out.  Before I return to my own seventh circle of hell, do you have any last minute words of advice that could help my friends and I survive the East Randomtown Zombie Apocalypse?

A. Use the ex-girlfriend as bait so you can escape. It’s a win-win situation… for you, anyway.

BQB EDITORIAL NOTE:  Not a terrible idea.  I’ll submit it to the group and let them mull it over.

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BQB’s Zombie Apocalypse Survivor’s Journal – Day 11

“I am the way into the city of woe,
I am the way into eternal pain,
I am the way to go among the lost.

Justice caused my high architect to move,
Divine omnipotence created me,
The highest wisdom, and the primal love.

Before me there were no created things
But those that last forever—as do I.
Abandon all hope you who enter here.”

-Dante’s Inferno

I felt like I was in the seventh circle of hell.

Typical Blandie

Typical Blandie

“You’re so useless, BQB,” whined my ex-girlfriend, Blandie.  “A real man would have rescued me already.  A real man would have swooped me up in his arms and whisked me back to his house for drinks by now.”.

“Maybe you should call Troy,”  I said.  “Or Channing.  Or Lance.  Or one of those perfectly coiffed hair muscle bound douches you assured me you weren’t sleeping with behind my back even though you totally were!”

“Oh whatever,”  Blandie said.  “A real man wouldn’t have his head stuck in the past.”

“Call the Mighty Potentate,”  I said to Alien Jones.  “I want him to vaporize me and put me out of my misery.”

“He won’t do that,”  my alien buddy replied.  “He believes in you too much, though personally, I wonder if he might have jumbled his prophecy.  Not that I’d ever tell him.”

“Why do you keep writing on that stupid blog of yours, anyway?”  Blandie asked.  “Writing.  Please.  Lame.  I mean, ‘Hello?’  It’s the twenty-first century!  No one reads anymore!  Get your head out of the clouds!  Duh!”

Bernie was fast asleep.  VGRF distracted herself from Blandie’s blatherings with Alien Jones’ space phone, playing a rousing game of Car Thief Mayhem: Mobile Edition.

Can't get enough of that Car Thief Mayhem

Can’t get enough of that Car Thief Mayhem

“When are you ever going to stop being a nerd and grow up, BQB?”  Blandie asked.

“You know what?”  I asked.  “No.  Forget it.  It’s not even worth it to tell you off.”

“Oh whatever,”  Blandie said.  “Like I care.”

“People are different, Blandie,”  I said.  “I act like a nerd because I AM a nerd.   You made me feel like shit for years, that there was something wrong with me…”

I put my arm around VGRF and snuggled her close to me.  Her eyes remained fixated on her video game.

“…it wasn’t until I met this goddess that I realized it was ok to be me, that there’s nothing wrong with being a nerd.   I am nerd, hear me roar, in numbers too big too ignore.”

“Aw sweet!”  VGRF said.  “I just ran over a crack dealer and stole all his money!”

Blandie blew a raspberry, making a big “PBBBHHHT!” sound.

“Whatever.”

Blandie was a big fan of the word, “whatever.”

“You’re a nobody, BQB,”  Blandie said.  “You think you’re somebody but you’re not.  The whole time we were together, you were just this big geek who played with action figures and read comic books and wrote boring stories and wore dorky glasses and….and….”

Blandie’s eyes welled up and tears poured out.

“BQB, the human is leaking,”  Alien Jones said.

VGRF paused her game.

Bernie snored.  He could sleep through anything.

“…and you were always THERE FOR ME!!!”

Blandie broke out into full weeping mode and threw herself at me, blubbering incessantly as she forced her words out between sobs.

“You never cheated on me like Troy did and you didn’t steal my life’s savings and run off with my sister like Channing did and I don’t even want to tell you what Lance did…”

“Um,”  I said as I timidly patted Blandie on the head.  “There there?”

“I’m going to die alone in the zombie apocalypse and my last thoughts are going to be about how I gave up the only man who ever truly loved me and that he’ll never take me back now because he’s in love with a girl who buys all of her clothes from the dollar store!”

“This is all JC Penney, bitch!”  VGRF said.

Blandie snorted and cried some more until she passed out and fell asleep.  Gently, I rested her head down onto one of the bug out bags, letting her use it as a pillow.

“I’m the man,”  I said.

“What?”  VGRF asked.

“I’ve found the love of my life in you, plus the girl who broke my heart is beside herself in agony over losing me.”

“Please,”  VGRF said.  “That’s just the zombie apocalypse talking.  When she wakes up, she’ll go back to chewing you out again.”

“True,”  I said.  “Being locked in this small room with her is like being trapped in…”

“Hell?”  Alien Jones asked.  “As described by the human writer, Dante?”

“Exactly,”  I said as I picked up the space phone.  “Come to think of it, I know an author who could shed some light on this.”

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