Zombies Invade Carytown (Again)

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When we first moved to Richmond, we hadn’t heard of the annual Zombie Walk. So, it came as something of a surprise one evening when driving through town to suddenly find ourselves surrounded by the walking dead. We were with friends on the way to an event and I remember our reaction was something along the lines of, “Hey guys? What the hell?” As it happened, we were with people who’d lived here for a while so they knew the deal. That particular year, I remember it was getting dark so they must have once held the Zombie Walk a little later than they do now. It definitely added a creepy dimension but I’m glad they’ve since started scheduling it earlier in the day. Mostly, for the sake of the zombies who a few times seemed in peril of getting struck by cars at intersections (I mean, I don’t think they’re real zombies).

Annual Richmond Zombie Walk

Annual Richmond Zombie Walk

Since that first time when we  happened upon the event, we’ve made a point of going each year to watch the parade of zombies as they stagger along Cary Street in a part of Richmond known as Carytown. Carytown, by the way, is pretty cool. It’s basically the more trendy part of Richmond with lots of restaurants, shops, record stores and, of course, the historic Byrd Theatre (which is reputed to be haunted). Carytown is great place to spend the day. It’s even better, naturally, when zombies shuffle about.

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Doctor Who Zombie

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Lego Zombies (Zombie Walk is a family event, sort of)

The Richmond Zombie Walk is a fitting way to usher in Halloween and loads of people turn out to either watch or participate. Those taking on the role of zombie for the day generally aren’t messing around. Most of the costumes, as you can see here, are really well done. There are plenty of creepy, gory, more traditional zombies but there are many others who bring a touch of humor to the event.  This year, we noticed one young man who even paid tribute to Doctor Who (sorry I didn’t get a better shot since people were crowing around him to take pictures). As Doctor Who fans (yep, there’s that theme again), we enjoyed seeing the Doctor represented (by the way, the boy was dressed as the eleventh doctor, zombified of course).

We also spotted a Game of Thrones character zombie, a squire zombie and Lego zombies, to name a few. The Zombie Walk is a family event, by the way, so there are a number of children and families taking part both as zombies and as spectators. Although, there was one young girl nearby who was clearly terrified and I couldn’t imagine why her father didn’t take her home. That poor kid will probably have nightmares for a month.

Squire zombie

Squire Zombie

Those of you who stop by this blog may have noticed that it’s been straying from writing-related topics a little. Not that there’s anything wrong with that  but my excuse for this post is that several of my YA novels involve characters in an afterlife setting while another involves, at least partly, continuing visits from a ghost. So, it seems to me there’s room for a few zombies here as well. Who knows, maybe I’ll write one of those books too. Actually, I started one and stopped when the movie Warm Bodies came out since it shared so  many similarities. I wondered if people would think I’d ripped off the movie. I don’t know, maybe I’ll dust it off and take another look at it. It seems like zombies are here to stay.zombie_gameThrones

Moffat Assures Fans That Doctor Who Finale Will Be The Same Old Impenetrable Bullshit

David Pandolfe:

Technically, this is writing-related but either way I couldn’t resist. Are you starting to sense something of a Doctor Who pattern on this blog? Yep, we’re big fans. Anyway, this spoof is for my fellow Whovians.

Originally posted on Blankfire Bulletin:

Steven Moffat holding the season finale script that is written on a papyrus scroll.

Steven Moffat holding the season finale script that is written on a papyrus scroll.

Steven Moffat has assured Doctor Who fans that despite several new writers coming in offering fresh, original interpretations of the show, the series finale will be as impenetrable and obtuse as viewers have come to expect.

Production assistant Anne Incider said that Ste-mo was relishing the chance to show the world how clever he is yet again. “It has been nice to have some fresh faces like James Mathieson and Frank Cottrell Boyce about the place giving the show a breath of  fresh air but Ste-mo has been quick to point out that in the long run their stories ‘don’t count’”

“Ste-mo has come up with a season finale so complex that anyone who walked past his office and saw his planning board would immediately collapse and have severe seizures. He’s become a bit Russell Crowe…

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What’s Next for Authors United?

David Pandolfe:

Agreed, it would be wonderful if Authors United worried more about actually uniting authors.

Originally posted on David Gaughran:

authorsunitedAuthors United has been spectacularly unsuccessful in its supposed mission to get Amazon and Hachette to agree a deal.

By contrast, Simon & Schuster was able to agree a deal in just three weeks – without the intervention of Douglas Preston’s group.

To be fair, Authors United has been very good at one thing: getting media attention.

Perhaps it’s time for Douglas Preston to widen the aims of the group and start campaigning on issues which actually matter.

It would be great if Authors United could get the media to focus on any of these problems. Alternatively, Authors United could continue to focus on propping up a broken system which only rewards those at the very top (like Douglas Preston, surprisingly).

1. Diversity in Publishing 

Publishing is very white and very middle class. And, at the upper echelons, often very male too. One of the many knock on effects of…

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That Isolated Writer (You’ve Seen Him Too)

writers400So, we watched one of those movies last weekend that had a writer in it. You know the story. The writer is a lonely guy. He stares at the “blank page” waiting for the muse to visit. At times, he gazes through tired eyes out at the ocean (writers always live at the beach, right?). He is, of course, an educator, once adored but now tarnished. He struggles with self-doubt and depression. The writer relies on booze for inspiration. In fact, the writer relies on booze entirely and, of course, ultimately acts like a drunken fool in pubic, humiliating himself by stumbling around in a bar where he causes a scene. Ultimately, more bad things happen to the writer since he’s such a tortured soul.

Why does this trope keep getting perpetuated? It’s just so strange to me since most of the writers I know work other jobs and don’t sit alone all day staring at their computer screen with one trembling hand reaching for the whiskey bottle. In fact, none of them drink heavily. By the way, only one is an educator. None of my writer friends live an isolated existence (although one does live at the beach and I’m a bit jealous of that). Like me, these writers are married, they have kids. They have a positive outlook and, sure, they’re obsessed with writing their books, their book reviews and book sales. To a degree, they’re just obsessed with books in general. But these writers care more about the people in their lives than their writing. In some cases, writing is their career and in others it’s a career in progress (hopefully). All the same, their children come first, as do their wives or husbands.

This representation of the solitary writer made me start thinking about why most writers start writing to begin with. While Hollywood often portrays writers as self-absorbed and aloof, I think most writers create fiction so they can reach out and share the stories they imagine (in which there is always a piece of themselves, of course). It’s not about ego and validation as much as it’s a desire to connect with others. What’s really wonderful to experience as a writer are those moments when you realize that’s actually happened. It’s incredibly meaningful to learn that you’ve had a positive impact, through your writing, on the life of someone you’ve never met. This happened to me recently when someone left this comment about Jump When Ready: “…I’d been living in a state of stasis more or less the last few years, not exactly like the group in your books. Recovering from illness and battling the daily uncertainty of depression which I’ve had to deal with the majority of my life. But those lines about jumping back into it again (life) with all uncertainty, fears, anxieties, laughs, time spent with real friends …really hit me and gave me a way of looking at it that made sense! It’s time for me to jump.” I can’t tell you how moving it was for me to read those words and realize I’d contributed something meaningful that touched the life of this person. I felt both honored and a bit stunned. What greater compliment could a writer ever hope for?

Recently, someone else left this in a review of Streetlights Like Fireworks: “I could feel through the characters and their journey how faith and following one’s heart can take us exactly where the universe wants us to go, and I was left feeling charmed and uplifted. Bravo! One of the best books I have ever read (and I just finished all five “Song of Ice and Fire” books, so I read a lot). A total breath of fresh air.” Every writer loves it when they receive praise, especially through a favorable book review. But, again, in this instance I felt incredibly humbled at the thought that something which sprang from my imagination altered someone’s outlook in such a way. Honestly, it just amazes me.

So, sure, writers may spend a fair amount of time alone. I guess that’s pretty much required since it’s extremely challenging to write while the kids are trying to get your attention (I know, I’ve tried many times). But in the end the writing is not about the writer but rather that imagined reader who, hopefully, ends up being a real person out there in the world someday when you finally publish that story or novel. It’s all about connecting, reaching out, not withdrawing into that lonely shell stereotype that Hollywood keeps dragging out of the closet. Okay, that’s it. I just wanted to share my thoughts on that. I’m off to the bar now for some time alone.

Yeah, right. I’ll be spending some time with my family first. Later, I’ll get some writing done. Cheers.

Not the coolest thing ever, but still very cool…

hot new 2This isn’t the coolest thing that ever happened to me. After all, I have two kids. But this is really cool. The new novel, Memories From a Different Future, showed up today as an Amazon “Hot New Release” in the Time Travel category! I really hope this doesn’t  sound like I’m bragging. I’m just excited and wanted to share since I know full well how things go and how data shifts. By tomorrow, this blip might well be over and someone else’s book will pop into that same position. That’s all good (okay, I probably won’t really feel that way). For tonight, though? Yep, that’s my new book sitting right there where I would not have imagined it being. Thanks to all who have read and reviewed so far!

Memories From a Different Future (and other news)!

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So, kind of a roundup of what’s been going on lately (some pretty cool stuff). Most of this is book-related but not all (I’m not entirely convinced a writer’s blog should only be about writing and I’d love to hear others’ thoughts on that).

First and foremost, the second part of the Jump When Ready series, Memories From a Different Future, is now published!! Yes, I’m kind of excited about this as I am each time I’ve published a new book. So far, it’s not getting any less exciting for me. This one will be exclusive to Amazon for a while so my apologies to you Nook and Kobo readers. The book will be available in print, of course, so that’s always an option. Also, I’ll let you in a secret: those who subscribe to my newsletter have learned about other options in the past. If you subscribe, give me a shout and we can talk.

Another milestone this week for me: Streetlights Like Fireworks crossed the 50 reviews mark on Amazon (and so far it seems like people really like that book)! I know there are writers out there with hundreds, even thousands, of reviews but, for me, crossing the 50 line is a first. I’ve only been at this about a year, so I guess that’s not too shabby and reviews from readers make all the difference in helping books get noticed by other readers. So, thank you to all who have read and reviewed so far!

SubCategoryWeirdnessAnd there’s this bit of ridiculousness to share with you guys. I was peeking at Streetlight’s sub-categories last night and saw this. That’s right. My book next to George R. R, Martin’s. Now, to put this bit of algorithmic strangeness into perspective, Mr. Martin’s book is evidently not for sale yet. Still, how it bumped into mine in a subcategory is something of a mystery. Either way, I guess it’s something like Robert Downey Jr. driving past you on the highway. You might say, “Wow, I’m on the same road as Robert Downey Jr!” Which just means that Robert Downey Jr. drove past you and obviously you’re not going to end up at the same party. All the same, how could I resist grabbing a screen shot of that one?

doctor-who-capaldiNow, this really has nothing at all to do with writing but the new season of Doctor Who kicked off last weekend featuring Peter Capaldi in the role of the doctor for the first time. Why am I including this here? For no reason other than we’ve become geeked out Whovians over the last year or so, which means this event was on par with how some people feel about the Super Bowl. We had a family Doctor Who night and did not come away disappointed. In fact, we unanimously agreed that Peter Capaldi is going to make a fantastic and intriguing new doctor and we’re totally on board for another season of adventures in time and space.

Okay, well it’s Labor Day weekend for those of us in the US. grilling-burgersDoes anyone else feel that this is the lamest holiday of the year? I don’t know about you, but I don’t really get too excited at the prospect of the pools closing, the kids going back to school (well, that part does have its upside but I know they’re not happy about it) and the raking starting (we have tons of trees). Have I also mentioned that I love fireflies? Obviously, I love summer. Oh, well. Cold weather does make for more writing time so there’s that to look forward to. Anyway, have a great weekend everyone!

Geronimo!

Capaldi

Some things I’m excited about lately: I’ll start with something that has nothing to do with writing but it’s just true: Season Eight of Doctor Who kicks off this coming Saturday, which for this family is a MAJOR event. Make your own conclusions about my family (as in, maybe we’re total nerds?) but we adore that show and cannot wait to see how Peter Capaldi fares in taking the reins from Matt Smith, who we thought couldn’t possibly top David Tennant but kind of did—or, at least, put a totally new spin on things (we still love you, David Tennant—in our opinion, you rescued the show).

On the writing front, things have been going nicely. I ran an Amazon free promo on Streetlights Like Fireworks after having not been in KDP Select for a while and the book saw over 17,000 downloads and stayed in the Top 100 free list for the entire week, which kind of blew me away. I always have mixed feelings about that type of promotion since you just never know but it’s been gratifying to hear that people have been enjoying the book and leaving kind reviews (much appreciated!). But, from there, I was even more pleased to see Streetlights holding its own nicely in both US and UK rankings. I’ve never had that happen before to that degree and it was really exciting. I know this will fade (Amazon is Amazon, after all, and new books come out every day). All the same, very cool.

Best part: When I told my wife and kids how well Streetlights was doing in both markets, I received a genuine (no eye-rolling involved) ovation. I will never forget that moment and will always treasure it, no  matter what, as the pinnacle of my publishing journey. You just can’t top that kind of memory, no matter what.

Oh, and I was off last week and we did summer things as a family. We hung out at the pool, took a few day trips, spent time with friends, saw some movies (Guardians of the Galaxy, much recommended—my son laughed like crazy). Just a great week.

Lastly, back to one of the earlier points: I know this might make me sound simple but I’m always blown away to learn that people are reading my books and saying nice things about them. This was the dream after all (really, all I ever wanted from this whole adventure). It could be that for more established writers, finding out that people enjoy your books not only in your own country but in countries you’ve never been to is no big deal. I can’t say and maybe, like me, they remain amazed. I certainly hope they do. For me, it’s just the coolest thing ever.

Meanwhile, I’m working on Jump When Ready, Book 3 and Memories From A Different Future (Jump When Ready, Book 2) will be coming out in September.

Yes, I’m having fun and couldn’t be more excited about the future. Especially, this coming Saturday when the new doctor learns how to fly the TARDIS.

Geronimo! (well, that was Matt Smith’s line). What do you have for us, Peter Capaldi? Cant’ wait to find out!

Memories From A Different Future

Guess what’s happening next month. Well, that big book cover below might have tipped you off but Memories From A Different Future (Jump When Ready, Book 2) is coming out in September! Sorry, that took a little longer than expected but I kind of got sucked into writing Streetlights Like Fireworks. That wasn’t the plan originally but I just had this idea for writing a summer road trip novel and I had to go with it. Glad I did but then I got back to working on the Jump When Ready series. Oh, and I’m already writing Book 3 (I’m really excited about it so far).

Would you like to know when you can snag a copy of Memories From A Different Future for free? Sign up for my newsletter and I’ll be sure to let you know about any new book releases. I almost always offer new books for free or $.099 for a limited time. Also, I will never clutter your inbox or share your email address. I promise.

Just in case you haven’t yet, you might want to kick things off by reading Jump When Ready. By the way, I’m offering it for $0.99 this week only.

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Arm Cast Podcast

Did you know that Armand Rosamilia has started a new podcast? I just heard about this and will definitely be checking it out. Why would I be interested in a “dead, sexy horror” podcast? A reasonable question, definitely, since I don’t write horror. That said, the book I’m currently working on has my characters sailing some pretty dark supernatural waters, so I could learn a lot from tuning in. And it’s not like I’ve forgotten my teenage years when I could not put that Stephen King novel down. My god, I carried The Stand around with me for an entire summer. All I’m saying with regard to my own writing is, you never know. I like to change things up every so often. And I still like to read all kinds of genres. Why miss out on great stuff?

Oh, and the name. Arm Cast Podcast? Think about it for a few seconds. Heh, heh. Yeah, right there I was in.

Here’s the link: http://armcastpodcast.com/