Why Zombies?

When I tell people I write about zombies, I usually get one of two reactions.

1) “Why?”

2) “Ooooh, like as an allegory/representation of society/symbol?”

3) Like that walking dead show?

Okay, that was three reactions.

I’m so used to reaction #1 that most of the time I don’t even try to be silly about it. “I know, right? I seem so normal” is my default response. Whoever I’m talking to usually quickly backtracks at that point: “Well, I didn’t say you were normal.”

#3 is the sort of answer I get from someone who has miraculously managed to escape the zombie craze. They probably have a vague idea of what zombies are (“They’re like…gross and stuff”), but have no idea that there’s a fandom around them, or that people might write books about them, or watch them without being forced.

As for reason #2…guys, I’m sure you’ve figured out by now that I’m just not that deep.

Anyway, after the latest “Why?” I started thinking about, well, why. Why, exactly, do I write about rotten dead people who wander around making life difficult for non-rotten living people? I know why I started, at least initially. Years and years ago, I watched the 1991 remake of Night of the Living Dead, and it scared the shit out of me. I think part of its appeal — and the appeal of zombies in general (if you can call it appeal) is because I’m a very visual person. The torn flesh, the staggering gait, the blank eyes…ugh.

So back then they were terrifying. I’m not really scared of them now; I’m more or less morbidly fascinated by them, and what their presence means to the people around them. Which I’m pretty sure is the premise for every zombie book, TV show, and movie out there. But even then, I don’t have a solid reason for liking them. I just do, just like some people just root for the Chargers.

(Disclaimer: I went spent a lot of time in San Diego over the course of six years before moving here in August. I am totally allowed to rag on the Chargers, even though they actually managed to win last night. Way to go, guys. At least you’re still better than the Padres.)

Anyway, that’s why I like zombies.

So — why zombies, guys? Respond here or on Twitter or Facebook — I’m curious!


Star Wars!

Guys, we need to talk about the new Star Wars teaser.

I am split on it.

On one hand, I love X-wings. Seeing them cruising over that (lake?) warmed my tired husk of a heart.

On the other hand, I’m sure Daisy Riddle and John Boyega are playing fantastic characters who we will all come to love, but people, we’re missing the important questions. Namely, WHERE IS HAN SOLO?

C’mon, JJ, give us at least a glimpse at one of our beloved original cast. Even the Phantom Menace trailer had Yoda and the droids in it.

Patience, grasshopper. 

Yeah, I know, I know. All in good time. Take a chill pill, Blackmore.

He did shove the Millennium Falcon at us backed up by the gloriousness of the John Williams score, so I suppose I can wait.

For a whole year.

Might as well settle in, folks. Winter is coming and all that.

But my inner ten-year-old would like to say the following:


Batter my heart…

…deep-fry my lungs.

I finished the rough-rough draft of GNW3. It’s not brilliant, but the point of the rough is to get the storyline down and figure out how everything works. I have that. The second pass (which will happen after I’ve stepped away) will flesh things out, add detail…make things funny…all that good stuff.



Grave New Draft 2

43k/65k. Just over halfway there and ramping up to what I’m hoping is an action-packed finale.

I’m averaging about 5k a day, maybe a little under. I like this Fast Drafting because it makes me get the bulk of the story out on paper fast. Does it read atrociously? In parts. Does it need lots of revision? God, yes. But I’ve already stopped and started on this book twice. It’s time to get the damn thing down and I can revise the hell out of it later.

With that said, I’m mentally tired. I’m helping my parents out with some matters at home, and that plus additional paid work means the 5k is starting to wear on me a little bit. Still, just 22k to go before I call it a finished rough draft.

Then I get to chuck the thing aside for awhile and let it percolate.

Things I’m noticing…the basic plot I picked does work, though elements are coming to life as I scramble for words. It’s fast, loose writing — similar to the way I wrote the first book. Once I go back and complete the revisions I think it might turn out to be very entertaining.

Fingers crossed, anyway.

Grave New Draft

25.7k/65k (estimated)

Not bad for a week of work.

I’m trying something new with this draft: crank it out as fast as possible and worry about the details later.

Okay, it’s not entirely new. I’ve done it before. Hell, it’s how I wrote the original GNW. But I’ve been taking on various projects over the last few years and the paid work always comes first, which means I tend to work on my own ideas in fits and starts. Some authors work well in that way; I…don’t. I want to get the entire thing out on the page and then finesse it into shape afterward. If I linger too long on anything it starts to go bad. I don’t lose interest — it’s worse than that.

I start to hate it.

I’m pretty sure most authors go through a phase where they hate what they’re working on. I will go through it myself regardless of how fast I write or how good the first draft is. But I have a unique sort of work loathing that pops up when I hang out with characters for longer than I should. Familiarity breeding contempt, I guess.

Anyway, Vibeke and the gang are trying to weasel their way out of the latest situation. I have a general outline I’m following, but leaving myself wriggle room in case exciting ideas spring up. I’ve also had a little help — this will be the second or third iteration of book three, which means I do have a lot of previous material to draw on if it’s suitable. So far, a good amount of it has managed to work. So no, that 27k isn’t entirely new verbiage.

My plan at the moment is bang through the first draft, then set it aside to percolate while I do a heavy revision on another zombie adventure (yes) in the pipeline, as well as put the final edits on a new serial coming out this summer, if all goes well. Then it’s back to Grave3 for the heavy revision, and eventually it would be nice to get the thing out this year.


We’ll see.

As we’ve seen before, I’m quite good at screwing things up. 🙂

Naming a Series

I am not much good at naming things.

Oh, I get occasional flashes of brilliance, usually when I can be funny…but when it comes to something where I can’t use a silly pun like “Grave New World” or “R2-D-Don’t,” I wind up having trouble.

I have a new series I’m working on. If all goes well (i.e. if my writing and/or my life does not implode), book one will be out in June, followed by a new release each month. Each book will be 22,000-25,000 words, give or take a little — it’s essentially a series of novellas. You may have noticed the influx of serial novels in the indie crowd — “Season One” of this, “Season Two” of that. Basically I’m trying that. Frankly, this is what I originally wanted to do with the GNW universe, but at that time I didn’t know what to call it and I wasn’t sure what to do with it, so I just released the two books in its ‘verse as a novella and a novel.

I think the key here is to get the bulk of the writing done before publishing. And I’m almost there; about 78,000/100,000 words. The story is there. I need to do some rearranging and cleaning, but getting this thing out on time should not be a problem.

It just needs a name.

It’s got a lot of stuff in it — basically I’ve loaded it up with everything enjoy in books. We’ve got a sci-fi/fantasy post-apocalyptic world (but with some “sweet spots” where things are Just Like Home), aliens, zombie-like creatures, starfighters, action, adventure, a little humor, a battleship, genetic engineering, menacing enemies, warring city-states, California, and all kinds of other stuff. I’m having a lot of fun writing it. The great hope is that folks will have a lot of fun reading it.

You can see why I’m having trouble naming it.

I have some basic ideas scratched out and I’m adding to them. I have badgered my family relentlessly in my efforts to get second opinions. I’m getting there, slowly but surely. Once I’ve got the title down (not to mention titles for the novellas themselves) I’ll get the cover art done and make a nice little announcement here.

But until then I’ll be here chewing my nails.

I’m also about to start work on what I think might be the first proper zombie book I’ve written in awhile, so stay tuned!

Starfall Lives

“It’s weird,” my mother said when she finished reading Starfall. “It’s interesting, but it’s weird.”

Yes, folks, Starfall is out on Amazon and B&N. It’s been out, actually, but things here have been crazy so my official announcements have been awhile in coming.

It’s the first book I’ve released for myself since 2012, and there are no zombies in it. (I figured I’d get that out of the way, since a lot of my readers are into the zombies. I, too, am into the zombies, and hope to return to their glorious rot soon, but for some reason I had to crank this one out first.)

I can’t pinpoint the inspiration beyond a mental image of a woman stuck in some sort of endless maintenance cycle because there was no one to tell her to do otherwise. I knew there was a lighthouse involved, and a lost city, but it was the lighthouse* I kept returning to — and Marina standing there, watching the sea. She’s surrounded by the ghosts and gizmos of a past era, some of which are not very nice. When the bulb in the lighthouse burns out, she must venture into the lost city to find the replacement. Naturally this is not a walk in the park.

So yes, it is a weird little story, and not what I usually serve up. With that said, I think it’s one of my better tales, and I’m pleased with it.

Anyway, it’s out. I’m curious to see how Starfall does, both as the shortest work I’ve produced and maybe the most different. My zombies novels are my most successful works, and I don’t notice a lot of crossover — GNW and DBG have sold fairly consistently over the years, but Echoes has not. Echoes and GNW tend to be my “gateway” books; if a reader of, say, Echoes REALLY digs the story, they might pick up GNW, and vice versa,  but if this was happening consistently then Echoes would have sold much better. I’m pretty sure for the most part the two genres have separate readers.

I hope that made sense. It’s been a long day.

So, will you, Dear Reader, like Starfall? I don’t know. My general feeling is if you enjoyed Echoes or at least did not find it utterly repugnant, you might like Starfall. But if you’re looking for wisecracks and hijinks a la GNW, it might not be your pot of coffee.

*Props to the ever-wonderful Steven Novak, who somehow took my vague mental image of a lighthouse and the stars and put it on paper. What I wouldn’t give for an iota of artistic talent…

Flunking the Test

O book coding, how I hate thee. Let me count the ways.

I currently have four books out under the Blackmore name, available at B&N an Amazon. I decided I might as well try to get them out to a bigger market (iBooks, Kobo, etc) and thus began checking out my options with Smashwords. The last time I looked at Smashwords, you had to run a Word file through their Meatgrinder, which seemed hit or miss as far as what sort of product it generated. Now, despite my ineptitude I’ve managed to generate nicely formatted EPUB and MOBI books, so using Mr. Grinder was out. I’ve recently discovered that Smashwords now allows you to upload a validated EPUB file, which is awesome.

Which brings me to my problem.

Three of my books have been uploaded (or re-uploaded as updates) to my two primary vendors recently. The last has been untouched since 2011, aside from a cover change. I ran all four through the Sigil validator and the Epub checker linked on the SW site. Two cropped up completely clean. Two had some weird error that multiple Google searches could not quite identify, though it obviously sprang out of the Calibre conversion process (I cleverly deduced this by the “calibre” that popped up in the coding).

In the words of Vibeke, “Shit.”

The books all look fine when viewed through Nooks and Kindles — they’ve been tested on multiple devices. But the manuscript coding needs to check out clean if I want them available on these other platforms…which means I need to figure out what this error is and why it insists on sullying my books.

I did notice one variable. The two clean books are Grave New World and Starfall. Both were experiments for me in that I used Scrivener for them. Grave needed a lot of cosmetic changes, and I ended up making a new Scrivener file for it so I could revise in something besides Sigil. Starfall was written entirely in Scrivener. In both cases, I saved them as ebooks and then opened them up in Sigil for final tweaks, before buzzing them through Calibre for the last formatting.

…it looks kind of complicated when I write it out that way.

Anyway, there’s probably easier methods of getting my books to look decent, but Scrivener-Sigil-Calibre worked out well for GNW and Starfall, and they both pass the check, so I guess I did something right. Provided I’m working with a completed manuscript and can keep myself from tinkering (oh, the tinkering!) with it, the entire process might take five minutes.

Except I have four books to my name, not two. Death and Biker Gangs and Echoes both threw errors when I ran them through the validators. Echoes, as stated, has been left alone since 2011. I did revise DBG, but the changes it needed were fairly minor and I made them directly to the Sigil file.


You can see now why I didn’t go into coding or programming or anything exciting like that.

Since the two clean files have Scrivener in common, I guess I’ll just run an experiment on DBG and see if that solves things. I’ll C&P the files into Scrivener and do whatever it is I did with the other two files to see if that cleans it up.

So scientific, right?

But I will do that later, because at the moment I have actual writing to crank out.


Look, I’m posting twice within a week! The stars must be aligning.

Well, no, not really. I was doing my taxes and had some vague idea that I would post more once they were complete…I’m almost done with them, actually. Once they’re off, I’ll get the formatting done for Starfall, hopefully (maybe) get that up by Friday. I also have some cosmetic updates I want to make to GNW and DBG, and hopefully by then Echoes will have worked its way out of Nook Press Purgatory. Nook Press reports it is looking into the issue.

Beyond that, not much to report. Saw Captain America: The Winter Soldier and really enjoyed it. Still not big on superhero movies, but I do dig Captain Rogers.