Thursday, December 9, 2010

Zombies on the Ice

Actually, I have not seen any zombies yet -- but I am in Antarctica and you know how things just sort of 'happen' when I am around.  Check out my Antarctic Adventures:

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Zombie Tactics -- Flanking

The greatest tactical advantage humans have over zombies is the concept of flanking. Simply defined, flanking is attacking from the side rather than straight on.
This level of planning and abstraction is simply not part of the zombie mind--just one more reason why we will always win.
Zombies will ALWAYS attack head one. When they detect you, they will come at you in a straight line, regardless of terrain, tactical situation, or other considerations. Use this to your advantage.
Simple uses of flanking:
  • Goad the zombies into charging one person, have another person attack them from the side.
  • Hide behind something they cannot get through. Now pick them off one by one while sipping a mai-tai.
  • Maneuver so something deadly is between you and the zombies (such as a hole, or a river). Let them attack--they will kill themselves while you smugly look on.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Colorado Gold Writer's Conference

This weekend I attended the Colorado Gold writer’s conference put on by the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. Yes, practicing what I preach. Here are my thoughts on conferences:
  • Attend at least one professional conference each year. The experience and contacts are well worth the time and expense. (check)
  • Attend at least one fan convention each year--learn what your market is reading, talking about, tired of. (planned for October)
Colorado Gold was a great experience. Met a ton of interesting people, recharged the writing batteries, learned new tricks, picked up new books, added several new authors to the ‘must read’ list, and had the opportunity to pitch Zombie Proof Fence face-to-face.

The pitching fascinated me. There was both a formal pitch appointment, and informal pitching. In the appointment, I had ten minutes to catch the interest of an agent. There were editors on hand as well, but each attendee was permitted only one appointment and I chose an agent. The pitch went fine, far more low-key and conversational than I expected, and the agent asked to see more (wahoo).

The informal pitching involved talking to other attendees about the book. This gave me a rare opportunity to talk about the book, the characters, the world, why I chose the subject, and how I tackled the project. In my day-to-day life this almost never happens. This part surprised me because so many people were not only interested, but positively bubbling with enthusiasm.

My biggest surprise of the conference came when people I had not talked to started to approach me, asking about the book by name. A stranger knows the name of my book? And cares? Wow. The first time, I thought it was a fluke. But it happened again, and again. Buzz? Whoa. I hope (fingers crossed) that the buzz reached some of the industry people who were there.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

September Status

Some interesting twists are in work.
First, submissions are out. There are currently 5 agents who have requested full or partial manuscripts. Tthis is REALLY good, so good I have put new queries on hold. So exciting--I feel action is imminent in the agent department. Once the agent-side moves to the next level, I will have a better feel for how things will move forward on phase two: selling the bloody thing.
But the agent search has been the plan all along, and it is a good book--so progress here is no surprise.
What is surprising is that I can’t get the story out of my head--a state that is causing some interesting side effects:
1) Thinking about zombies more than usual. Jotting some of it down -- a few blog posts, two dozen more in various stages of completion.
2) I’ve taken to drawing zombies and dogs. Started with a few gag-stick figures for illustration, but it could evolve into a regular thing (especially if I get positive feedback from readers).
3) ZPF spin-off short stories are popping out of my head like brass from a Glock on Saturday night. One, looking at the soma trade and the drug problem in the camp, is nearly done (done done--as in ready to sell), while several others are in the outline / brainstorming phase.
4) Darby Drew -- I have found myself back at the story, and the dog, that spawned all of this. Without meaning to, I am spending a lot of time revisiting this story, expanding it, and updating it to fit what happened in Zombie Proof Fence.
This last one is taking me to some interesting places, which were not in the plan for this year:
  • I have outlined the first act of the second book (focusing on the girls and the dog).
  • I am playing around with a graphic novel script, telling the story of the Rising from the dog’s point of view. A script for 22 pages (standard comic episode) will go to Writer’s Block for feedback. This project may go farther -- not sure yet.
  • Fiddling with a screenplay version (outline / notional), also from the dogs point of view.
  • Updating the short story.
These open up many interesting possibilities. However, they also distract me from the current project (revision of a YA steampunk novel).
We’ll see where this goes. Should be an interesting ride.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

What the f*** is a zombie anyway?

Which of the following are zombies:
(answers at the end)
The term ‘zombie’ refers to bit of voodoo mythology in which a normal person is brought back to life by a bokor. This is very different from the contagious reanimation so popular in our culture, which is interpreted in so many different ways that a singular definition seems nearly impossible.
However, I have narrowed it down to a simple definition:
A zombie is a human corpse that has reanimated, AND seeks to kill living humans.
This is synonymous with the living dead, the dead [in zombie fiction], mush-brain, mush-head, shamble, lurker and dozens of other terms.
So using this simple definition, which of our subjects are zombies?

  • Poorly drawn serial killer.
  • Trying to kill you, but very much alive.
  • Not a zombie.

  • Romero type-2 shamblers.
  • Dead. Trying to kill you.
  • Definitely zombies.
  • 28 days later rage-zombies
  • Dead. Trying to kill you.
  • Definitely zombies.
  • Neighbor lady inviting you to a ‘jewelry party’
  • Dead. Trying to hook you in pyramid sales scheme--which may destroy your soul, but does not technically ‘kill’ you.
  • Not a zombie*.
*Warning: resist urge to put this horrible creature out of its misery, such an action will result criminal charges.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Zombies Can’t Climb re-duex

Four people huddle on the roof of a garage, a zombie filled alley on one side, a zombie filled backyard on the other.
   “Don’t worry, Katie, they can’t climb.” 
   “Mon Dieu! C’est un grimpeur de montagne!”
   “What is it Sebastian?”
   “Zat one, he is wearing the climbing harness and has chalk on his fingers.”
   “So what?”
   “Zee is a climber! Zee has the muscle memory!”
   Katie looked at them, tears forming in the corners of her eyes.
   “I left the shovel in the truck.”
   Sadly, none of them thought to bring a shovel up onto the roof, so our climber-zombie kills them all.
Could this happen?
Do the dead have muscle memory? Can they climb ladders? What about stairs? Steep hills?
I concede, I have not run this test using the animated corpse of an experienced climber, but here are the lab results using a typical set of Hollywood zombies plus a [dead] Czechoslovakian pole-vaulter we were lucky enough to receive on Saturday.
Flat, open ground
  • Average Joe: 2 mph
  • Big Guy: 1 mph, falls often
  • Czech Pole-vaulter: subject escaped [later recaptured]
Steep hill
  • Average Joe: 0.5 mph
  • Big Guy: falls often, did not complete course
  • Czech Pole-vaulter: subject escaped, subject escaped, bit two guards [later recaptured]
Stair Test
  •  Average Joe: stumbles often, completes 71% of the time
  • Big Guy: falls often, completes 19% of the time
  • Czech Pole-vaulter: subject escaped, killed research assistant [later recaptured]
Ladder Test
  • Average Joe: Fail
  • Big Guy: fail
  • Czech Pole-vaulter: subject escaped [subject terminated to protect lead researcher]
Both stairs and steep slopes are navigable by the undead. For your protection, the RMA recommends at least a 10 foot-high vertical barrier with removable access (pull up the ladder dumb-ass). These precautions are not sufficient if you are pursued by dead climbers or Czechoslovakian pole-vaulters.

Friday, August 13, 2010