Friday, January 29, 2016

Surviving A Zombie Apocalypse

Good news, everyone! This isn't a post about revisions or my increasingly-ridiculous attempts to complete them! Instead, we're talking zombies because today, My Pet Blog belongs to the incomparable David Powers King, who's here to tell us how he would survive a zombie apocalypse.

Take it away, David!



Thanks for having me, MJ! The single largest open-ended question, or the ultimate “what-if” scenario is “how would you survive a zombie apocalypse?” Part of the allure to this question is that your mind actually wants to figure out this hypothetical (and maybe impossible) situation. If you are limited to your resources and location, what you do in the wake of a zombie outbreak will mean your survival or certain doom. As a general resource (and I’m not kidding about this), I highly recommend grabbing a copy of The Zombie Survival Guide. It has great general survival tips that has relevance in more than a zombie situation. I read it in one setting. It’s that awesome!

So, DPK … how would you survive a zombie outbreak? 

It depends entirely on location, resources, and circumstances. Let’s say I’m at work when the world starts going downhill. I would want to get to my family first. Roads might not be idle, so I’d take the back roads. Before doing that, I’d find a chair with metal legs and break a couple of them off for temporary melee weapons (not to take the zombies out, just leverage to get away).

Should I be lucky to make it home in one piece, I would gather my family, as much food and water as we could load up, anything that would make for reliable weapons and drive for the high ground. I happen to live near Sundance in Utah, which is a steep climb. Hard for anyone’s legs. Taking refuge at those lodges high in the mountains is a good idea. An isolated cabin is good, too. Basically, having the high ground allows you the advantage when the hordes are coming.

The first week will be the worst. If you can survive that, zombies will be the least of your worries. Make due and work as well as you can with other survivors, but keep your guard up. Hopefully things will work out long enough for society to reclaim a new, solid foundation.


Title: The Undead Road: My Zombie Summer: Part One
Publisher: Dashboard Books / CreateSpace
Ebook Release: January 2st, 2016
Paperback: January 26th, 2016
Cover by Steven Novak
Edited by Reece Hanzon

Blurb:

Nothing brings the family together like a zombie apocalypse …

Fifteen-year-old Jeremy Barnes would rather watch a zombie movie than shoot a real one, but he has no choice if his family wants to survive the end of the world. Their plan? Drive across the infected United States to a cabin in the Colorado Rockies without a scratch, but their trip takes a complicated detour in the middle of Nebraska when they find Kaylynn, a girl who can handle a baseball bat better than Jeremy can hold a .45 Berretta. And when they stumble into a sanctuary, Jeremy soon learns that Kaylynn is stronger than she looks—a deadly secret lies inside her.

After the radio picks up a distress call from Kansas City about a possible cure, Jeremy’s parents go with a team to investigate. They never return. The only way to find their parents is for Jeremy and his sister Jewel to rely on a dangerous girl who might just turn on them at any moment.

Amazon
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CreateSpace
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Praise for The Undead Road:

"For me, zombie stories are never about the killing. They're about the survivors and how people deal with the apocalypse. To this undead end, David Powers King has come up with the most original spin on zombies I've ever read." - Michael Offutt, author of Slipstream and Oculus

Contest Details:


Visit davidpowersking.com and leave and comment and/or tweet about The Undead Road (at least once) for a chance to win a free ebook. One out of every 10 comments and tweets is a winner! Use the Twitter Button below to ensure the author will see your tweet. Thank you!




About the Author:

David Powers King was born in beautiful downtown Burbank, California where his love for film inspired him to be a writer. He is the co-author of the YA fantasy novel WOVEN, published by Scholastic. An avid fan of science fiction and fantasy, David also has a soft spot for zombies and the paranormal. He currently lives deep in the mountain West with his wife and three children.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

It's About Time

I'm still working through revisions. I'm behind the pace I had hope to set for myself, but it is better for the revisions to be done well, rather than done quickly just to hit a target date. It does no good to rush. I've been getting into some of the heavier, more-involved corrects, and they just take longer.

At least, this is what I tell myself.

I had mentioned it to myself in my pre-edit notes that some adjustments to a particular scene around the chapter 30-something mark would probably need to be made because I thought it would prove to be just slightly off from the rest.

So I dug into it on Monday night, probably a little after 11pm, thinking it would only be a minor change that wouldn't require any changes to any other scenes. Around 3am on Tuesday morning, I had to face facts: there was nothing slight about the discrepancy. All of a sudden, I was on the Major Revision Highway.


Because, seriously, unless this character had discovered a wormhole and just never mentioned it to me, he had no business doing what he was doing when and where he was doing it.


There have been many, many times during this editing and revising process when I feel like I wrote the end of this novel without actually having read the beginning of it. This would be one of them.

But it's cool because it is obviously better that these mistakes are discovered now and not when, say... after a book is released into the wild. (Not that this book will ever make it out into the wild, at this rate...)

But it's also cool because in the wee hours of Tuesday morning, I devised a potentially genius—or at least potentially kind of okay—plan to fix it. I required pages and pages of notes, calendars, charts and a mini storyboard (hello, visual learner!) to do so, but  I did it.


And the best part is, the plan still holds up 24 hours later. Here's hoping I can make it 48.


Happy Wednesday, all!

Friday, January 22, 2016

A Star Wars Post (No, Really)

Well, J.J. Abrams, you've really done it now. I'm now actually posting about Star Wars on my blog, which was once a Star Wars-free zone, apart from the occasional shout-outs to Robot Chicken Star Wars parodies and/or Spaceballs.

But no, you had to go and make a movie that I actually liked and actually went to see more than once, and look forward to seeing again.

You made me into a Star Wars fan.

What the hell, J.J. Abrams?

But, whatever. This post is not about what J.J. Abrams has done (you know what you've done, J.J. Abrams. Go sit in the corner and think about this terrible thing you've done.) but rather some Episode Seven whatnots that I've enjoyed immensely and have decided to share with you today.

THEY WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS, OR SPOILER-TYPE THINGS, SO IF YOU'RE STILL LOOKING TO GO SPOILER-FREE, I WOULD SUGGEST YOU DON'T READ ANY FURTHER.

SERIOUSLY, DON'T READ ANY FURTHER IF YOU DON'T LIKE SPOILERS.

I'M GOING TO START WITH THE SPOILERS NOW. THIS IS YOUR FINAL WARNING.

ALL RIGHT, YOU'VE BEEN WARNED. HERE WE GO...

ARE YOU READY? BECAUSE I'M GOING TO DO IT! I'M DOING IT RIGHT NOW...

FIRST UP IS...

 Emo Kylo Ren and Very Lonely Luke

I don't know who runs these Twitter accounts, but I can't stop reading them. Here are a sampling of my favorite tweets thus far:




The next selections are from the day(s) these two have a truly epic Twitter battle (which you can Google to read more selections):




And then there's this video from Adam Driver's visit to Saturday Night Live:





All right, I'm out of here. I'm behind on my revisions—certainly not because I spent two hours looking through parody twitter feeds and video laughing my ass off instead.

Have a great weekend, all.

Except for you, J.J. Abrams.

Monday, January 18, 2016

(Re)Vision Quest

Today marks the day that I begin that perilous journey known as Revisions, where I attempt to implicate the three-red-pens-and-two-highlighters-worth of changes and corrections I marked all over my manuscript during the first two weeks of January.

Sample pages. Bet you can guess why I needed that 3rd pen...


That first run-through was actually done last Wednesday, but I took a few days off in order to talk myself out of 

A) deleting all 325,000 words of it

or

B) giving up writing in favor of running away and joining the circus

or

C) All of the above

Obviously I did none of those things because here I am, writing a post about how I'm about to tear those 325,000 words apart in the hopes of reassembling it into a shiner, better, happier—

Well, maybe not happier. I don't think my characters have been happy since...well, ever. (Better luck in Book Three, characters!)

But it's perhaps possible that I could make a manuscript with which I am happier. Or, at least less unhappy because, at the moment, I remain unhappy and unimpressed with this first draft.

Which is all right because I have a plan to change that. Or part of a plan, at least. The broad strokes of a plan. Meaning, I (mostly) know what I need to do, even if I have yet to work out exactly how to do it.

That's right. I split some infinities. Homewrecker.
This week will be devoted to the easy fixes: the misspelled words—i.e., though instead of through, and that one character named Rhona who I kept calling Rhonda for whatever reason—the misplaced or missing commas (try as I might, I never get the damn commas where they're actually supposed to go), and incorrect verb tenses—that sort of thing, hoping that focusing on the little things might help me find the solutions to correct the other, not-so-little things.

For example...that one character who seems to think she's in a completely different story each and every time she shows up on the page because apparently my other personalities all took a shot at writing for her. Her arc will have to be overhauled from top to bottom.

Or the two characters whose relationship just isn't quite what it's supposed to be. Fixing that will be like walking a tightrope, and I have terrible balance.

Or the rampant amount of telling and not showing I decided to indulge in. It's like I was trying to write an 800-paged Dick and Jane novel. Which I wasn't, so you know, that'll have to be fixed, too.

For example.

What it all boils down to is that I've got a lot of work ahead of me. Just...no one tell the Gator Girl, okay?

Did you say something, Mom?

Oh, like I can say no to that face...(Actually, I say that a lot to that face. It's just that the ears attached to it don't often care.)

So, one last thing before I jump down the revision hole...

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. I don't think it's one of those holidays where you say "Have a Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day" (not that I don't wish you a happy day), so instead let me express my hope that we all learn (or continue to learn) from his fine example and teachings.

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day, all.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

A Post In (Mostly) Pictures

Today should be—provided I don't jinx myself by saying so—my final day of editing.

Because I QUIT.

Just kidding.

It should be my final day of editing (as well as my last day blogging about editing) because as of the writing of this post, I only have three chapters left to go.

(For those of you keeping score at home, I'm onto Red Pen #3, but Highlighter #2 refuses to quit.)

And, as always happens when I'm editing or revising or writing or breathing, there have been several periods of highs and lows (mostly lows, but you had to have seen that coming...)

You've probably seen this picture before, but it's a little bit like this:


Except that I haven't actually gotten to the "This story is so awesome!" or the "Woo Hoo! Best! Story! Ever!" stages. This particular edit has seen me firmly on the right side of that chart.

You know that scene in Elf where Buddy's in the shiny mail room checking out the pneumatic tubes? You know, this scene:




It's like that, only I'm pretty sure that instead of the tubes he's actually talking about my manuscript. Yes, Buddy, it is very sucky, isn't it?

Sorry.

It's been a rough edit.


I really love this book—I don't want to screw it up, and I don't think I did it many favors in this first draft. I know the second draft exists to correct those first draft oversights—and I'm determined to do just that—but I'm feeling a little down about it right now.

I just have to do better.

But before I go off to do just that, I'm going to end this post with the pictures I promised in the title. I call this photo collection "In Which The Gator Girl Contends With Mom's Edits."

Enjoy.

I can help you with those edits, Mom!

Are you finished yet, Mom?

Screw your edits! Throw my ball!

Happy Wednesday, all!

Monday, January 11, 2016

The Noise Paradox

As I've mentioned in every single post I've done so far this year, I'm in editing mode. This post won't be any different. (Sorry.)



The good news for you, gentle readers, is that I'm down to the last ten chapters, so it won't be long now before you'll get to stop reading editing-themed posts. Of course, they'll likely be replaced by oh-my-god-the-beta-readers-have-my-book freak-outs, but I'm sure that will be fun for you, too.

Anyway, let's get to editing. Or, more specifically, my specific editing-related quirks,

(And for those of you keeping score at home, I'm now on my second red pen and highlighter.)

I need noise when I work. I can't sit in a quiet room and get any work done. If I'm sitting in that quiet room, I'm looking around for something to make noise. The noise, for whatever reason, helps me settle and helps me focus.

This is something that The Man cannot understand. He would be the polar opposite of me, requiring quiet for those things requiring one's concentration. So he marvels at me when I'm sitting on the floor in the living room, my manuscript on the coffee table and Gilmore Girls playing on the TV.

But then The Man also marvels when I pack up and leave the room because he's talking on the phone, or doing a Duolingo lesson within earshot. Yesterday, I worked in the living room until The Man started to do the dishes. The water was too loud, so I went to work on the screened porch until the neighbors started screaming at each other again, then came inside and worked in the living room (The Man promised to be quiet) until the washing machine was making too much noise for me, so I packed up yet again and went to work on a side table in my office, the door closed to outside noise, but music playing in the background.

It turns out that I have specific needs when it comes to noise. I know it's weird—the whole damn thing is weird—but I do. Here—because I know you care so so much—are my editing noise requirements:

—Any and all music must be instrumental. If there are words, I'll be focused on them and not the words I wrote, which means my story-specific soundtracks are out of the question. When editing, I usually rely upon the Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones soundtracks. But there are, of course, others. Yesterday, I created a Game of Thrones station on Pandora and listened to that.

—Any TV shows must be ones with which I am so familiar that I don't have to pay attention to the dialogue. Such series include the aforementioned Gilmore Girls, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Veronica Mars. Firefly, sadly, doesn't make the list because—although I know the show so well I could recite the whole damn series—every time it's on, I can't focus on anything else other than how much I love it, and how angry I am at Fox for cancelling it. (Seriously, Fox—some wounds never heal.) I can't do any show that has a laugh track—that's way too distracting. Occasionally, I can listen to the Red Sox game—but never the Patriots. When my beloved Pats are on, I am always standing in front of the TV screaming obscenities at it, but that may be another post for another day.

But since that day is not today, I'm going to sign off now. Those last ten chapters are calling my name. Hope you enjoyed this inside peek in the madness that is my mind.

How about you? Do you prefer noise or silence when writing/editing/revising? Have any soundtrack recommendations for me?

Happy Monday, all!



Friday, January 8, 2016

Week In Review

Here are a few of my celebrations/highlights from the past week:


1. The record heat finally came to an end! The temperature dropped so much that I was actually comfortable in Florida for the very first time in nine months. It's been mostly in the upper 60's, but there was one day where it was, like, 58 degrees. I didn't have to shave my legs. I actually wore a shirt with sleeves and pants that passed my knees. I wore socks and a flannel shirt. It was amazing. Of course, tomorrow, it's supposed to be back in the 80's. It was nice while it lasted.

2. Not only did I catch up on my editing goals, but I'm actually now ahead on my editing goals. I'm a little over halfway through the manuscript now. I vacillate between thinking, "This book isn't so terrible" and "this is the worst book ever written!" So I think that means I'm right on schedule, as far as the editing freak-out goes.

3. I received this picture of my brand-new great-nephew (That's right...I'm old enough to have a great nephew):


I have it on good authority that Effigy is one of his favorite bedtime stories. Suck it, Goodnight Moon!

4. I signed up for my first Florida book signing event-fair-thing! Sure, it doesn't happen until 2017, but I told a complete stranger that I had written a book and signed up for an event to promote said book. And hey, there might even be a second book by then. Wouldn't that just be crazy?

5. Speaking of crazy, I attended a local writers group meeting, and actually read something that I had written. I didn't hide under the table once! I think that's what the kids call 'progress.'


So that was my week in a nutshell. I'm headed back down to the editing cave, but first—How was your week?

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Red Pen Blues (An IWSG Post)

I haven't done one of these posts in a good long while. At least a year. Maybe two. (I just checked...it was two.)

I had a hard time settling on a topic for my first post back, and actually deleted the first two attempts because I felt they were overly insecure. I don't know if there's such a thing as "too insecure for the Insecure Writer's Support Group" but if there is, those posts (and by extension, me) were it.

True story.

Anyway, after that long and kind of weird intro, let me jump into the actual post part of this post...

Editing.

I announced on Monday that I'm gearing up for a book release later on this year, which means that at the moment, I am going through my first big edit of the manuscript. I've spent the first five days of the year with a red pen in one hand and a blue highlighter in the other, circling and highlighting each and every mistake that I come across.

A sample page from my first novel's edit. Not the current one.

You can probably see where I'm going with this, but...

I'm already on my second highlighter. Because there have been a lot of mistakes. A lot. And more than one instance where my side note is just a big REALLY? written in the margins.

I know it's a big book, and I know I miss things when reading through it because I'm so close to it that I know what the manuscript is supposed to say, and not always what it does say. And I know that's why I haven't looked at it for three months, so that I could go back to it with fresh eyes to more easily find all of those stupid, little mistakes.

But there are just so many stupid, little mistakes. And a few other not-so-little mistakes, too.

And here's the thing...I feel I should be better at this by now. I feel I should have learned from the mistakes I made the first time around, so I could be more careful in the crafting of a new novel. And I thought I had been. Instead, I find myself doing this...



 It's not that I expected this manuscript to be error-free—because I didn't. I mean, I know I write fantasy, but that's just one thing I can't imagine.

I guess I just expected more of myself, and I'm now disappointed that I was so far off the mark.

Please don't interpret this post as me giving up. That's not happening. I'm, by no means, throwing in the towel here. Just feeling a little more inept than usual. But I'll finish banging my head against the desk and then finish my edits and then live to write another crappy sentence another day. And then I'll edit the crap out of that one, too. And all the others that follow it.

No big deal. I just have a case of the Red Pen Blues.

Excuse me, folks...I feel a song coming on...



Thanks for stopping by today! I'll try to do better the next time!


Monday, January 4, 2016

The Year of Doing Better (The 2016 Edition)

Happy New Year, everyone!

This is my now-traditional post where I lay out my goals for the brand-new year. I have a lot planned for this year, partly because I like to set myself big and challenging goals, but it's mostly because I had a pretty terrible 2015, where goals were concerned.

I feel the need to make up for that.

So here we go...

The Writing Goals

1. Publish Second Nature.

If you follow me on other social media sites, you may have already seen this picture:



That's my manuscript—all 841 pages, and 325,000 words of it. I'm aiming to edit approximately 60 pages a day (Naturally, I'm already behind) with the hopes of getting it into the hands of the beta readers in February (Do you hear that, beta readers of mine? I'm coming for you...). After that I don't know. There's just darkness and some dragons (Name! That! Reference!) but should we get through the darkness and the dragons, we'll working toward publication.

2. Complete first draft of Full Circle.

Full Circle is book three in my fantasy series. There's currently no real plan for it because the events of Second Nature blew the original plan to smithereens. So this year will be about figuring out a new plan and getting the damn thing written. I honestly don't have a lot of faith that I can accomplish this goal this year, given the other writing goal that's in play, but I'm going to be working on it anyway, so why not make it a goal?

The Reading/Blogging Goals

1. Read 50 books this year.

I really dropped the ball on the reading goal last year. I had a goal of 60 books, and only managed about 32. My personal worst, by a long shot. This year. the number is set at 50 in order to accommodate that whole "publishing a book" goal I have. I will admit, though, it kind of makes me feel like a slacker.

2. Be better about reviewing the books I read.

For whatever reason, I fell out of the habit of writing actual reviews for the books I've read. I need to correct that. There's really nothing more to be said.

3. Be better about updating My Pet Blog.

My reading and reviewing were not the only things to be neglected last year. My Pet Blog was woefully ignored, so I'd like to get back to my old blogging schedule of Monday, Wednesday, Friday, with Fridays being set aside for guest posts. So if you're an author out there with a book or two or twelve that you'd like to promote, please let me know! Otherwise, I might have to talk about all the TV I watch.

The Fitness Goals

1. Walk, run, or bike at least 750 miles this year.

Another goal I neglected last year. Don't want to do it again. I'm not off to a very good start, but I can totally catch up. Probably.

2. Eat healthier.

I add this goal to the list every damn year. I have yet to accomplish it. But perhaps 2016 will be my year. Probably won't because I have zero willpower where cake is concerned, but it makes me feel better if I at least say I'm going to attempt it. But stranger things have happened, so who knows?

I do. I know.

So on that happy note, I'm going to sign off. I still have a good 700 pages to read and edit. I wonder how many highlighters and red pens I'll go through. Place your bets below!!