Tag Archives: book

This Plague of Days: Writer’s Digest Ebook Awards and what’s next!

image002

This series presents a fascinating and original take on the zombie apocalypse story. I was drawn in from the opening scene…and I found myself instantly connecting with the fate of the Spencer family. The writer did an excellent job interspersing the family’s story with details about the broader world. Every time it seemed that something was understood or under control in that sphere, the story would shift to reveal a new wrinkle in the plot.

~ Judge, 2nd Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published eBook Awards

The TPOD Omnibus won honorable mention in Genre for these awards in 2014.

This Plague of Days OMNIBUS (Large)Next month, the second book in the Ghosts & Demons Series will launch. In the meantime, get in on the ground floor of this really cool series with The Haunting Lessons. It’s a little bit Buffy and a whole lot of fun.

NEW THL COVER JAN 2015 COMPLETE


This Plague of Days: My top ten favorite moments

Warning: This post has spoilers. If you haven’t read Seasons One and Two of This Plague of Days, DON’T READ THIS!

Okay? Are they out of the room so we can talk? Okay. I hope they aren’t just pretending to be asleep or listening at the top of the stairs, because here are my top ten:

1. When Jaimie hands Theo the knife.

2. The sweetness of Jack and the cookie tin full of love letters.

3. “Kryptonite.”

4. The scene in Iceland where Cameron fights his way through the Sutr-Z infected to try for the rescue boat.

5. The zombie attack on Buckingham Palace while Shiva dances to “We Want Your Soul” (plus the corgi joke.)

6. Douglas Oliver’s battle in the basement.

7. Jaimie meeting with Sinjin-Smythe in the Nexus, among the Shakespearean trees.

8. The Battle of the Brickyard and the hospital attack (a tie for bloody and epic).

9. Dayo shaming Dr. Sinjin-Smythe on the rescue helicopter out of Dungarvan, Ireland.

10. Anna’s shift from being a bratty princess to a mature young woman who sacrifices her love of her boyfriend for her family.

There are many other moments I love, of course. I’m biased, for some reason. Probably because I wrote it. Yeah, that’s probably it. However, these are the first ten scenes that come to mind when I look back on the first two seasons.

What about you?

Care to share your favorite moments? (FYI: Season 3 is still being written and revised, so what you loved from the past might get a callback in the story ahead.)


This Plague of Days: Christmas is saved!

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000039_00004]

 

Let the Christmas shopping begin! Yeah, that's right! Shop here because when I do my Christmas shopping it's at the Dollar Store! Yeah!

Let the Christmas shopping begin! That’s right! Shop here because when I do my Christmas shopping it’s at the Dollar Store! Yeah!


This Plague of Days Fiction Secrets: About Maine

I write a lot about Maine.

Poeticule Bay, Maine shows in up in numerous stories. I have a detailed history of the ugly way the town was formed and a thorough catalogue of its many dangerous inhabitants. However, you won’t find Poeticule Bay on any map. You’ll find plenty of Poeticule stories in Murders Among Dead TreesI have several books at various stages of production that all have references to Poeticule, The Corners and Maine generally. Maybe it’s the steady diet of Stephen King I was weaned on. I’m sure that was an influence. However, for me, Maine isn’t really Maine. I grew up in rural Nova Scotia. It’s about the place and time I grew up. It’s also about my dad. 

Murders+Among+Dead+Trees+1121-1My father is a natural storyteller. On car trips, he’d tell colorful stories and report in detail about outrageous characters he’d known. Fishing trawlers, lumber mills, hunting, the woods? It’s all there, showing up again and again in my work. We didn’t get a lot of TV channels, but we had dad.

He told me the rhyme that shows up in Season One once (about Squirrel Town, Mink Cove and Sandy Cove). The talk was about baseball teams. I didn’t care about sports, but that silly chant stuck in my head forever. He had lots of stories about fights and the time the cook threw the knife and the time his store burned down. In short, he had lots of warnings about stuff I’m glad I didn’t live through. He had a tough life for a long time before it got good.

And he has expressions that are memorable, too:

“You’re jumpin’ around like a fart in a mitten.” 

“That smells so bad, it would drive a dog off a gut wagon.”

“His tongue has a hinge in the middle.”

“She’s got too much of what the cat licks its ass with.”

And you don’t have a cough. “That’s some cough.” 

“Uh-huh. Some cough…”

The advantage of an anxious childhood

Though my family doesn’t have much of the accent, we talk fast, trying to get the words out before someone interrupts us. When I moved away, I found people from Toronto spoke with greater diction, their words formed right behind their front teeth while I machine-gunned from my throat. It took a couple of years for me to slow down enough so my girlfriend could understand me. (She understood me too late, after the love had kicked in and invaded the bone marrow. She’s stuck now. Ha! I win!)

The scenery in Nova Scotia is the same as Maine and we had some interesting accents, too. I don’t have a characteristic Nova Scotian accent and it was never strong, but a few miles outside of my home town in any direction sounds like Anywhere, Appalachia. I remember trying to talk to a guy from the South Mountain (a few miles away). I couldn’t understand him. A farm kid in my class once twanged at me that I was a “city boy”. My “city” at the time was merely 1,200 people, but I couldn’t wait to go where millions of people would ignore me. (Sadly, I found the most sure way to become invisible was to publish my first book. I digress.)

There was dry humor, but a lot of teasing and meanness, too. When a remark was too caustic, the burn was supposed to be eased with the words, “I’m just being honest.” That’s not a salve, of course. It’s salt.

There was the guy down the street who wouldn’t serve a black customer. That racist is a remnant that’s symbolic of my childhood. I was a child in the seventies, but, like a Rod Serling story, the place I lived seemed stuck in 1955 permanently. (That was great at Christmas with Bing singing on the radio and the snow gently blanketing the twinkling Christmas lights. Otherwise? Less than ideal. I’d say it sucked for minorities year round, but we hardly had any and I wouldn’t know how those few felt. Incredibly outnumbered, I imagine.)

School administrators were often tyrants who kept the dated sensibilities of their youth in the ’50s. They had some twisted ideas about fairness, like, “It’s the second punch that starts the fight.” So, in addition to being pricks, they were okay with victims suffering beatings, I guess. They’re probably very grateful to be dead now. (I’m not unpleased about that, either.)

Misogyny, alcoholism, violence or the threat of violence was constant and casual. Homophobia was rampant. Everyone knew everyone else’s business because, though I come from a small town, it’s really a village. When you know everyone that well, you see all the weaknesses an urbanite might successfully hide from strangers. The only escape from gossip and constant judgment is the road out-of-town.

I don’t set out to write a theme in my books. 

I think sitting down to write with a theme or a lesson in mind is pretentious. You find out what your theme is after you’re Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000039_00004]done writing. It’s squeezed out organically. However, I’ve noticed a commonality. I write wrongs so my characters can right wrongs. They often don’t succeed or, at least, they don’t achieve their goals the way they thought they would. Who does? (Read my novella, The Dangerous Kind, in Murders Among Dead Trees. It’s drenched in this. The conclusion of This Plague of Days is not, I promise, a plucky bunch of gun-lovin’ Rambos goin’ zombie huntin’. In my zombie apocalypse, most of the Rambos died in the first wave of the Sutr flu.)

But one theme emerges in all my work.

No matter what I write, no matter the genre, it’s all about escape. Make that Escape, capital E.

Aside from the depression and anxiety, I was an insufferable little kid because I knew too early on I needed to escape to the city. Pretty much any city would do, but I needed to live far from haystacks and fish. Rural life is not for me. I need urban anonymity. I want to disappear into books, writing them and reading them.

Dad’s still there and loves it. He calls it “God’s Country.” For him, it is.

I go back there a lot, but only in the safe transport of fiction. Playing God is the strongest armour.


You’ve read it. It’s right before your eyes. Guess it and you’re in my next book.

It’s time for The Spoilers/No Spoilers Contest. 

There is a secret in This Plague of Days. It’s not buried that deep.

No one has guessed it, but it’s right before your eyes.

If you suspect you know, DM me on Facebook or DM on Twitter (and keep the secret).

Wild speculation will be entertained, but can neither be confirmed nor denied. No spoilers to the rest of the guessers.

Prizes? Sure.

First prize: A nice, fat, juicy paperback of Season One of This Plague of Days. (Signed with a personal note of praise and adulation. Probably signed by me.)

For the first three winners, I’ll use your names for characters in my next book. The secret will be revealed in Season 3.

Praise and adulation will be heaped upon all those who guess correctly on the All That Chazz podcast. 

Have at it!

Also, even if you’re way off, I still may incorporate your wild speculation into Season 3. I got an idea from a reader recently that I shall mold into…well, that would be be telling.

This’ll be fun, but it’s also serious. A chance at immortality hangs in the balance.

 


This Plague of Days: About Season Three’s End (No spoilers)

Just got the 51st review of TPOD Season One and the 14th review of Season Two!

Now I’ll now type something that you see in print sometimes but you never hear it in person: “Huzzah!” (Well, maybe Mr. Burns, once.)

One of the fun things in happy reviews is the number of readers anxious to find out what happens in Season Three. Me, too! However, today was a low energy day. I get these sometimes. Too much gluten, not enough sleep, mood swings and headaches and the rising urge to strangle people with sheep guts.

We all have those murder by haggis days, right? I slept. I puttered. I met She Who Must Be Obeyed for lunch to review our strategies for taking down the Establishment. Then…

I wrote the broad strokes of the end of Season 3 today!

808 words, so far. It’s the final scene. I had general ideas about what it would look like. I knew what would happen to Shiva, Adam Wiggins AKA Misericordia, Jaimie Spencer and his family. I’m about 35,000 words into the beginning and this scene gives me a place to navigate toward.

No spoilers, but I’ll say this: The climax is heroic and unexpected and operatic. Questions are answered and answers are questioned. It leaves on a note that’s equal parts hope and despair, victory and defeat. At the last word, the reader will be called upon to make a decision for themselves.

I’m very happy with who survives. I’m less happy about who does not. I tell lies to tell the truth, but I promise, I’ll stick to the honesty in the subtext. I’m tracking the story and I’ll follow where it leads and I will not allow anyone to finish this book with a dry eye. You may even be inspired.

That’s a lot of smack I’m talking for a zombie book, so I better write a book worthy of Jaimie, which also lives up to my aspirations. 

Since there’s lots of daylight left, maybe I can salvage this day and make it more productive. I have to attend to a suicide in Queens. A young man named Romeo Basilon is in big, Shakespearian  trouble. But don’t worry about him too much. He’s in another book I’m working on right now.

I should also mention that if you’re into dark, prose poetry with a cynical flair, you could try this short read. It’s 99 cents. It’s weird, but there’s some fun to be had in there.

braingasm cover

 


Q & A for This Plague of Days (PART 4)

Someone asked:

“Why didn’t you put out This Plague of Days in one big book?”

Long answer first. Skip to the end for brevity.

One book wouldn’t have been a sustainable model for me, artistically (or economically). In a publishing world where ebooks are getting shorter, if I’d made it one book, I’d be inundated with complaints it was too long. Can’t please everybody.

Season One is 106,000 words and written like a TV mini-series. (Yeah. On purpose!) I just finished formatting Season One for the paperback edition and it’s 307 pages. I can’t sell a paperback that’s longer than that. Only Stephen King could in this publishing and reading environment (and that may already be too long for paper as is.) I haven’t worked out the numbers yet.

Season Two is closer to 80,000 words. I think this season reads more like an action movie with some very weird twists.

By the end of Season Three, This Plague of Days will be close to 300,000 words in total (at least three times longer than what’s now considered a long book.) 

When I began this serial, I had a certain vision of how it would play out. Buckingham Palace would be taken down. Iceland would be attacked. Stuff would get blown up.  A lot of ships would be involved. Characters would evolve over long arcs and secrets from Season One wouldn’t be revealed until Season Three. 

For those who choose to board my crazy train to the end of the line, there are rewards. A lot of stuff will make more sense in retrospect. It’s so twisted, I may even have several, alternative endings. When it all comes out, you’ll want to reread the whole thing over again. I can’t explain more without giving away too much. Sorry if you don’t like serials, but I was clear from the beginning what it was and what it was going to be.

I’m really looking forward to delivering Season Three next spring.

It’s going to be epic: Epic battles; big reveals; trenchant moments, surprising wins and tragic losses and, ultimately, transformation. There is great potential in each of us. Season Three will prove it.

Thank you so much to all the wonderful readers who have been so kind, gave This Plague of Days a try and see potential in me to deliver a big story that will give great satisfaction to the end of the roller coaster ride.

The short answer is: 

Because that’s where the Art of the thing took me.

Don’t try to limit me. It’s not my choice. The story demanded what it needed for itself.

It had to be this way or not at all.

Related articles


Season Two, Episode One: The Spencers Flee East

The complete first and second seasons are up. Season 2 Episode 1 launches Monday. Click carefully so you get the right ones. Cheers!

The complete first and second seasons are up. Season 2 Episode 1 launches Monday. Click carefully so you get the right ones. Cheers! Or just click this cover to get Episode One if you want the serialization.

 

About the bathtub scene from Season 2, Episode 1: 

There’s something about that scene which reminds me of American Werewolf in London, or maybe some of Stephen King’s work. 

In all post-apocalyptic fiction, the hope for the future must be greater than the horror, no matter how bad things get. I love The Walking Dead, but to be honest, I’m not sure what they’re fighting for. I even said this in Season One and I mean it honestly. We need more than the hope of taking one more breath to sustain us. Sometimes the reason to live doesn’t come from us, but from our children or spouse.

That’s ultimately what the bathtub scene is about. It sets the stakes. As long as her family is alive, Jack knows what she’s fighting for. As Season Two continues, it seems her grasp on hope is tenuous. The lure of the quiet death is something all survivors must consider. When confronted with continuous horrors without hope, suicide is a reasonable choice. At the bathtub, choices are made that give gas to the narrative engine of This Plague Of Days.

I hope you enjoy it.

~ Chazz

 


Q & A #3: Time Management and when will TPOD be available in paper?

Wow. That was timely.

Somebody asked when they can get a print copy of This Plague of Days

and someone else asked how I manage my schedule.

The short answer is, I hope to have Season One and Season Two ready by mid-November. It might take longer after what I went through tonight.

The long answer

I was just whining on Facebook that it took me four hours to reformat Season One for a 6 x 9″ paperback. (At 300+ pages, it’ll be thick.) I say reformat because I farmed out the job to someone and it looks like they didn’t look at it twice after they ran it through whatever ringer they put it through. (Disappointing because they did a great job on another book they formatted for me.) 

There are other variables with the print delivery, like finding a local printer for selling straight to readers. Amazon’s Createspace can be slow to get books to me (though this week they delivered faster than ever.) I also have to fit into my good friend Kit’s schedule. Kit Foster of KitFosterDesign.com does my covers and I’ll need to get a new  (back) cover for the print editions. 

Getting interior book design right in paper can be surprisingly tough, even with awesome tech. Tonight I stripped out the deep indents and extra tabs and deleted blank pages between chapters. Then I had to redo all the numbers in the Table of Contents. I would rather have used those four hours to work on two new books I’ve got planned.

Time management is a constant challenge.

To master my use of time, I track time and word counts with my calendar and I even use the  stopwatch on my computer. I drink smoothies because it’s healthier, but also faster, with less clean up. When I exercise, I go for fast and intense so I’m not losing time in the gym that could be productive otherwise.

I’m ruthless and committed so I get the time to do all the things I need to do to get stuff done. Some people like socializing and the great outdoors. I can sit at my desk for many hours without ever getting bored and I’m afraid to go outside. I frequently skip sleep so I can pound my head against the brick wall to get everything done. I did have a nap this afternoon, but I dreamt lucidly and came up with three battle scenes for Season Three. That’s good because skipped sleep isn’t a good idea. However, when the demon ideas bombard me as I suffer insomnia, it’s not really a choice but I may as well go with it and get something out of it.

This month I have to:

Launch another website and information materials for a new business;  prep for that launch while writing and revising two books; revamp another book and plan promotions. I must move into a new office, buy a printer, office furniture, supplies, surveillance cameras, new finance hardware, new software and put together a new mailing campaign for the new biz.

Sadly, I probably need to learn how to format the print books myself or find someone else to do it.

One of the big keys to turn the lock on getting stuff done is to do first what needs to be done most. Therefore, I try to get into writing as early in the day as possible. Also, choose to do things that have a solid ship date. I have a huge writing project and a much smaller, easier writing project. I’ll get the smaller one off the table first. 

This strategy not only maintains my will to live, it makes me look more productive because more stuff is flying out the the door faster. When I choose my project, I focus on the one I can complete within the shorter time frame first. Otherwise, I’d be juggling several projects but never bringing anything in for a landing.

Tonight’s unexpected reformatting fiasco sure didn’t fit with the plan I had for today. Sometimes, the time management thing just doesn’t work. Man plans. God giggles.


This Plague of Days Q & A (Part 2)

Somebody asked if This Plague of Days is gory. 

The complete first and second seasons are up. Season 2 Episode 1 launches Monday. Click carefully so you get the right ones. Cheers!

The complete first and second seasons are up. Season 2 Episode 1 launches Monday. Click carefully so you get the right ones. Cheers!

Quite the conunbump, isn’t it? I mean, it can’t be a binary, yes or no answer. It’s a suspenseful story. One of my beta readers told me Season One isn’t horror but Season Two definitely is,  with more supernatural elements. And let’s not forget teaching a bit of Latin, discovering the names of new colors and learning the glabella relaxation trick. It’s a rich tapestry, I say.

Season One is based at the edge of reality but keeps a foot in that door. Season Two straddles the divide somewhat between international military thriller and some dreamy, supernatural scenes. I’m not trying to weasel out of giving an answer, but the reader is the variable, not I. Gee whiz, I tell the truth of one grisly coffin birth and suddenly I’m a monster. The coffin birth in question probably isn’t what you think it is if you’re a reasonably sane person. That’s a bit of (wisely) obscure knowledge.

This is my waffling way of saying that how gory you think it is depends entirely on you. Please read Season Two‘s sample or get Episode 1 on Monday and decide for yourself. Sorry, that’s the best I can do without crawling behind the controls of your brain and pushing all the buttons at once to see what happens.

One or two reviewers have mentioned that TPOD is a bit gory, but it’s not at all Texas Chainsaw Massacre over-the-top. Each act of violence advances the plot. In fact, everything advances the plot, even if I haven’t yet pulled back the curtain and yelled, “See? See? See!” Seeds are buried in Season One that don’t pay off until Season Three.

My kids are a couple of geniuses, although I’m proof emotional maturity doesn’t necessarily come with age. At ages 11 and 14, I’d let my kids read it. They’ve watched The Walking Dead and I hope they’ll read The Stand soon. Is The Stand gory? No. I don’t remember it like that. I loved that one and I purred softly when someone compared TPOD to Stephen King’s masterpiece.

(If you’re reading Season Two, have you gotten to the joke about The Stand yet? Did you laugh? I chuckled when it rose up off the screen. And the buried Highlander joke is kind of a gem, too.)

Ah. So it’s a joke book, but with a hero on the autism spectrum in grim circumstances. Speaking of which…

Somebody else asked why characters at the end of the world act the way they do.

My characters are pretty much like you and anyone you know. Under pressure, you make bad choices. I don’t enjoy stupid characters. They irritate me. Instead, I let smart people make self-interested, short-term choices. Smart people can do dumb things in fiction, if it seems like a smart choice at the time. Or people can act like cowards, jerks and manipulators, just like every other day. It doesn’t have to be the end of the world. Have you seen the news?

When it’s not the end of the world, smart people make sub-optimum choices all the time. They forget to get the chimney checked before winter. They put off paying taxes until the last minute. These sorts of operational deficiencies don’t make a heck of a dent in you besides stress. However, throw a bunch of people in boiling water and some interesting choices will be made that make sense at the time.

People act the way they do because it’s natural for them to do so. We’re emotional animals first. Danger amplifies the problems and complications that ensue. Maybe we’ll act better than my group of characters at the end of the world. But you probably wouldn’t want to read that story. Frankly, cooperation isn’t the way to bet when the danger is as big as it is in This Plague of Days. Also, I have to add, good books have conflict. So there.

Grab the complete Season One  and Season Two now or check out the release of Episode 1 of Season Two on Monday if you prefer to get your fiction as a serial. Either way, I hope you enjoy it. I’m straying off the beaten path and going for what people don’t expect from a book in this genre. That policy will continue in these books and all my books.

Got a question? Hit me up at expartepress@gmail.com.

Have you reviewed This Plague of Days yet?

If you would, that would be awesome and I’d appreciate it. Thank you!

 


%d bloggers like this: