Tag Archives: zombie

This Plague of Days: And the Winner is…

Thanks to everyone who gave me feedback on the interim cover for This Plague of Days, The Complete Series. I considered everyone’s opinion. Most people liked #4 so I went with that. Then I considered what everyone had to say again and went through with my tweaks to the cover. 

Here’s what that looks like:

TPOD OMNIBUS 3D

About the TPOD Season 1, 2, 3 paperbacks…

The paperbacks are getting reformatted now and Kit Foster of KitFosterDesign.com is doing new covers for the second editions of the books. I had some production problems with the ebook and paperback text. Typos that snuck in because of a file management issue have been corrected in the ebooks. The paperbacks are not available until they’re formatted and Kit has new covers. Everybody loves all Kit’s covers already, of course, but the man is an artist and a perfectionist. The new covers will have a matte finish and beyond that, all I know is Kit says they will be “sexier.” How different will that be? I don’t know. I let Kit do his thing! Don’t stand in the way of genius.

About the possibility of the Omnibus in hardcover or print…

Hey, if you’re into it, cool, but don’t get too excited about having the Omnibus Edition in print yet. At well over 1,000 pages, it would be very expensive to produce and would only be for collectors and the diehards, really. I’ve considered doing a Kickstarter for that project, but that’s off in the future, possibly after the movie deal is finalized.

The ebook of the Omnibus will be very affordable by comparison. Times are pretty tough to be charging people what a huge book would cost.

It sure does look great picturing it as a book in 3D, though, doesn’t it? It’s three TPOD Seasons put together, of course, so the real thing would be a King-sized brick, about the size of The Stand. (Hope you enjoy the Stephen King homage and the joke about The Stand cult in Season 3, too.)

Here’s a closer look:

TPOD OMNIBUS

I’ve asked Kit to do what will be the final, long-term cover. (So, hey, if you hate the cover, you shall be appeased.)

Also, I’ll have news for everyone  subscribed to ThisPlagueOfDays.com soon about TPOD Season 3. Membership has its privileges.

And finally, the winner picked at random has a connection to the book! Her first name was the inspiration for Dr. Keres AKA Shiva! Congratulations and the  TPOD Omnibus Edition go to author and former guest on the Cool People Podcast, Ava Easterby!

Thanks again and meet you soon in the Mindfield, everybody! Much love!

~ Chazz


This Plague of Days: Did I mention one random commenter will win the ebook of Seasons 1, 2 AND 3?

UPDATE: Thank you for your feedback so far. Here’s another cover to consider. This is #6:

How's this? A little classier with an added tagline?

How’s this? A little classier with an added tagline?

It’s cover choosing time!

Kit Foster of KitFosterDesign.com has created the cover for Season 3 of This Plague of Days and it is wonderful. I have no doubt you’ll be impressed. I’ll leave that awesome reveal for later. It’s different from the other covers, but, given where Season 3 takes us, that’s appropriate. It gets weird. I’m aiming for Strangest Zombie Apocalypse Series Ever Award. It’s given out by the Nobel committee each year, but the competition is stiff and those nerdy Nobel chemists grab all the glory.

Season 3 is due out on Father’s Day.

You can pick up Seasons One and Two through the affiliate link at AllThatChazz.com if you’re so inclined (and if you like autistic heroes trying to save the world from several kinds of monsters, including humans.) There are a couple of sneak peeks below this post, too, if you’re looking for more of a taste.

About that prize for a random assist: the compendium of Seasons 1, 2 and the finale in 3 will launch on Father’s Day, too.

In addition, I’m taking care of the cover for the Plague of Days compendium myself. About that, I have many doubts. Which cover do you prefer?

Please let me know which one you like best in the comments, 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5? A combination of several elements? None?

Thanks for helping me out with these heavy decisions as the big day approaches! And by “big day” I’m referring, of course, to the release of the pandemic flu virus that will kill most of us, turn a bunch more into zombies and…well…it gets worse as the virus mutates. Have a great day!

1.TPOD COMPENDIUM

 

 

2.

 

 

 

 

TPOD COMPENDIUM2

3.

 

TPOD Compendium3

 

4.

TPOD COMPENDIUM 5

 

 

 

5.

TPOD 123 COVER


This Plague of Days: Editorial team? Assemble!

This Plague of Days, Season 3 is off to the editorial team and I’m really excited!

I’m so pleased with the way the story developed over time. I thought about writing it faster, but it’s a delicate clock and I had to take the time to get the teeth of the gears meshing correctly. I’ve always said with all my fiction that you should expect something different. Genre fiction isn’t just a well of goofiness. I have something to say, dammit!

This book has been years in the writing. One of the things I love, and will miss, about serials is the ongoing contact I’ve had with readers as I write and tweak the manuscript. Your feedback made a huge difference and the readers who connect with me on Facebook have been really helpful.

I wasn’t going to include an epilogue.

Editors and agents (famously) don’t like epilogues. A survey of my readers showed you guys do want an epilogue. You want things wrapped up so I did it in a big way.

In the end, the epilogue added a new dimension and more opportunities for twists and surprises. This sort of feedback simply isn’t possible with a book that’s a one-off. TPOD has a group of readers anxious to see the finale and I promise a big and surprising finish.

Whatever you expected, I’ll ask you to put that aside.

Whatever you’ve read before, this ain’t that. Yes, zombies. Yes, vampires. No, no easy answers and no solutions you’ve seen before. 

Yes, your questions will be answered, though there will be a few you’re going to have to answer yourself. Meet me halfway in the give and take of the experience. 

We’ve added three new beta readers and discovered the bug in production that allowed some typos to slip into Season 1. It wasn’t the editorial folks, but a file management issue. We’re working to fix that as quickly as possible so a corrected volume will go out previous to the release of Season 3 and This Plague of Days, The Complete Series. 

A few people have asked about getting This Plague of Days on other devices.

I’m sticking with Amazon for now. You can read it on any device using the free Amazon reading apps. (Google “free Amazon reading app” to get one for your device, whatever your device.)

I do have books available on other platforms, but it seems Amazon is still the platform that moves my books. Eventually all my books will be available in Nook and Kobo and Barnes and Noble, assuming those platforms are even around next year. (But that’s another topic for another blog.) Suffice to say, if I thought I could sell books on the other platforms, I wouldn’t hesitate, but so far, they haven’t proved themselves.

I had hoped to get This Plague of Days, The Complete Series together in one huge book.

Unfortunately, it’s too big a book for my regular printer to handle. I’m exploring other options but I’m concerned it might be prohibitively expensive unless it’s a limited edition just for collectors and superfans. My main thought was that it should be in one big book for promotional purposes. Fortunately, a friend in the film business has taken an interest in my books. It’s way too early to get excited over a bunch of variables outside my control, but there’s hope that TPOD will find a wider audience through film.

In the meantime, yes, Season 3 will be available in print, too.

When we have a solid publication date, I’ll let you all know. I’m doing all I can to make it all close to perfection. When you board my crazy train, all I want to do is blow you away and melt your brain.

Stay tuned.

~ Follow me on Twitter @rchazzchute and on Facebook here.


This Plague of Days: Contest Closed

I posted this on Facebook tonight: 

Proofing Season 3 of This Plague of Days tonight, I realized something new about the book. That secret I’ve teased? Yeah, about that:

Some people are really going to HATE me for it. Fans will give me credit for the magic trick, but…wow…as I was reading along tonight I kind of finally understood the scope of the lunatic gamble. But this business, and art, isn’t for sissies.

I should also say, we’re too far along in the editorial process to add names, so the contest to discover the secret of This Plague of Days is closed. Sorry nobody got it, but thanks for playing and, as a consolation prize to take home, some lucky readers will be receiving their names in the book, anyway.

And no, I’m not telling you the secret now and no, please don’t ask for inclusion in the book. All the characters are named and I can’t create more characters to kill. The book’s already plenty long and I’ve already killed so many!

I thank you in advance for your understanding. About all of it.

Want to keep up with the latest updates on Facebook? Connect with me here.

I’ve recruited several new volunteers to our beta reading team and the book is coming along nicely. Shooting the manuscript over to our editorial aces in a few days. I’ll announce a firm date soonish, but you can expect the finale to This Plague of Days in early June. (And by the way, yes, that’s still spring. I checked.)

Thank you for your patience a I work furiously to deliver you a really kick-ass book. More to come, soon! Really!


Heat signatures, colors and emotions

Heat signatures, colors and emotions

Though this isn’t exactly how Jaimie Spencer sees the world, it’s too cool not to share. In the graphic novel or the TV series of This Plague of Days, this will probably be what it will look like.


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 and The Big Bang Theory and Autism

It’s past time I write something about autism as it’s presented in This Plague of Days. I’ve heard from happy readers who are related to people with autism or who have developmental issues. They all love the protagonist, Jaimie Spencer, because he’s on the autism spectrum. Later on in the story, Jaimie makes some very normal and logical yet scary choices. I hope readers will still love him when they see some of the things he’ll ultimately be responsible for.

Deep down, This Plague of Days is a little like all my books. Good versus evil doesn’t interest me. The choices are too stark. But Bad versus Evil? Complex motivations where the good isn’t all good and the bad isn’t all bad…or at least well-intentioned and understandable? Yes, that interests me very much. So far, readers agree and thank you very much if you’ve bought, dug and left a happy review for This Plague of Days.

As I write and revise Season 3, the world is getting darker. Season 3 answers the questions posed all the way back from Season One. One of the mysteries of the series* is Jamie Spencer. He’s a selective mute on the autistic spectrum. That surely makes him an unlikely champion in the apocalypse and unique in the genre. However, he’d be unique if this were a simple family drama.

My beloved wife, Dr. She Who Must Be Obeyed, is a school psychologist. She said the sentence that spurred this post:

The key thing to know about anyone on the spectrum is this:

When you’ve met one autistic person, you’ve met one autistic person.

Everyone is different and autism affects each person differently. Some are extremely visual thinkers. Many are very high-functioning people and the list of well-known people on the spectrum might astonish you (click here for that). There’s much speculation that some of the greatest thinkers and inventors in history were autistic. Though never diagnosed, Tesla, certainly, comes to mind. (Love Tesla and you’ll learn why if you click this link, but I digress.)

When asked, I tell readers that Jaimie has Aspergers with some interesting variations, like selective mutism and synaesthesia. He’s unique, as all people are.

The term “Aspergers” has fallen out of favor in professional circles. That may be a great thing. I’m not sure. Mere labels can’t help the individual, but sometimes they help others understand people on the autistic spectrum. Generally, many people would recognize stereotypical Aspergers traits in someone like Dr. Sheldon Cooper of The Big Bang Theory. The show’s producers have stated on many occasions they are not holding the comical character up as the poster boy for autism and he doesn’t represent any group.

I don’t want anyone to think Jaimie represents such a vast and varied community, either. He’s a fictional character who’s delving into deep matters of religion, mortality and immortality while dealing with people infected with three varieties of a deadly plague. His family unit and their problems relating to each other provides a realistic context and special challenges at the end of the world as we know it. He’s a wonderful character to write and he adds layers and depth to what otherwise be a pretty silly story. Jaimie’s point of view makes humans versus zombies versus vampires work.

Why make the protagonist a person on the autistic spectrum?

I could catalogue the artistic reasons to do so, but the short answer is, why the hell not? He’s a person first. The way his brain works is peculiar, but secondary. Despite how different he is, I (and many readers) connect with Jaimie Spencer emotionally, not as a mere intellectual curiosity. Jaimie’s a genius, but he’s no freak.

How does autism play into This Plague of Days?

At one end of the spectrum, autistics don’t develop language skills. With his special interest in words and their origins, especially in Latin, Jaimie does not lack language skills. In fact, selective mutism has nothing to do with autism. Fans of The Big Bang Theory will recognize the problem as an anxiety disorder (which, until recently, afflicted the character of Raj on the show.)

However, on a couple of occasions, I admit that I do indeed tackle issues around autism. It would be weird if I didn’t address those natural consequences, wouldn’t it? It’s tricky, in that autism is another obstacle in the family’s struggles at the end of civilization, but the story is not all about autism.

I came at the issue sideways, in character development.

We learn about Jaimie through his actions and we see how he sees the world. Anna Spencer relates to Jaimie in a very natural way. She’s protective of him when outsiders are involved, but within the family, it’s all sibling rivalry and older sister irritation at a little brother. There’s friction there as there is in many families. I purposely avoided Anna being too precious with him. Of all the people in Jamie’s world, Anna is the one who most treats him as if he’s not unusual.

Before the plague struck, Jaimie’s mother, Jacqueline (Jack) Spencer, struggled with the school and medical systems to get help for her son. She often wishes Jaimie was not on the spectrum. Meanwhile, Theo Spencer, Jaimie’s father, almost seems in denial. While Jack wishes her son were different, Theo accepts Jaimie as he is rather than fixating on changing him. The parents aren’t on the same page and one’s a complex atheist while the other’s faith is hard to hold on to in the face of so much horror. More fun family dynamics to mine there.

As we progress through This Plague of Days, you’ll find that Jaimie is changing. He’s getting wiser and, to survive, he has to learn how to lie. He’s discovering the new world’s secrets. In Season 3, Jaimie is much different from when we first met him. Travelling the road in the apocalypse will do that to anyone, but I don’t find he’s any less likeable. He’s just more complex and less sure of himself. The challenges ahead are too difficult for him to resist transformation.

In the final scene, readers will have a choice.

Some people reading This Plague of Days will also be transformed.

 

*A note to fans of Seasons 1 and 2 of This Plague of Days

In the third season, this officially becomes a series, not a serial. This Plague of Days will be sold as a trilogy in one complete book (This Plague of Days, The Complete Trilogy) assuming CreateSpace can handle printing a book that big. It will also be sold as Season 3 in paper so, if you got 1 and 2 in paperback, you’ll have a third to round out the collection on your shelf. Finally, of course, I’ll put it out as an ebook this spring. After that, I’ll be peddling it to Hollywood for a movie, I suppose. Or make it a graphic novel. Or get it on HBO with Alexander Skarsgard as Misericordia. Who knows?

However, unlike Seasons 1 and 2, there won’t be any releases of weekly episodes for Season 3. Despite my best efforts, there are still some readers who get confused about serialization, so I’m letting that go. The Law of Diminishing Returns had kicked in, anyway, so onward to a very dramatic conclusion. A lot of people you love will die in unexpected ways. Some will live to receive surprising, wonderful rewards. I’m going to be a little sad to finish the journey with Jaimie, but it’s going to be a wild ride right to the end. 

 


This Plague of Days: Excerpt from the work in progress

Just made it to another birthday and things are looking up. Revised three or four chapters yesterday and two more so far today. Some nice new reviews are up on the books. If the nice reviews are yours, thanks for your support! (Yep! Always watching!)

I actually got out of the house and had a lovely chat and coffee with friends, celebratory dim sum this morning and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty tonight. See it. It’s awesome, inspirational and aspirational and charming. I haven’t loved a movie in a long time and I love this. The stark beauty of Iceland is so striking I feel a little sorry for destroying it in the books.

The rest of the family is enjoying more time off. I’m back at the other job briefly tomorrow, but I’m trying to find the balance between spreading the work between two micro-businesses. I’m a work in progress and here’s sneak peek at This Plague of Days, also a work in progress. Revising another chapter tonight while listening to “Uplifting Pop Motivation” on Songza.

Jaimie listened to his mother curse softly as she repacked their backpacks. He heard Anna kick dirt over the last glowing ashes, burying the fire’s embers. He sensed his father had wandered off. Theo was out of sight but was never far away. 

Jaimie didn’t want to get up or even move to stretch. He’d risen too early. Now that they’d delivered the message, Genevieve and Fern would head to safety. He’d almost followed the girls when they left.

However, The Way of Things would have Its way or he’d never be allowed any rest. His father needed him and he would soon meet some of the European refugees in person.

With fewer people left in the world, it was easier to see how everyone needed each other. It was a strange paradox but, when the population was vast, more people thought they were alone. 

Before the plague, the word individualist was usually preceded by the word rugged. After Sutr-X, the accurate descriptor of individualist was the word dead.

 


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: Stress, The Apocalypse and You

Hurricane Katrina making its second landfall i...

Hurricane Katrina making its second landfall in Louisiana, as seen by NWS New Orleans radar. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Once upon a time there was a fascinating (and mean) experiment. A mad scientist made his subjects do math problems under stress. Loud music would play and a demanding experiment operator insisted the subject solve the math problems faster. Then the operator would tell them they got it wrong and had to try again. “Time’s was running out!” Sounds like an experiment designed by the Devil himself, huh? Mathphobics would burst aflame under such evil circumstances.

After the experiment, the mad scientist drew blood samples to track stress markers. He found them, of course, but it was the next version of the experiment that got really interesting. In Math In Hell Part II, the subjects had a button that could turn down the blare of acid rock (the most anti-mathematics music there is). It is no surprise that the stress markers went down in the second experiment.

That’s not where the surprise comes in. It’s this:

Stress markers decreased even among the people who didn’t turn down the music. The subjects had a button, but it may as well have been hooked up to a toaster. Simply knowing they had the option to control their environment brought their stress hormones down. It’s all about the illusion of control and the wear and tear and tears that illusion helps mitigate. 

But when the apocalypse comes, there is no button!

What fascinates about end-of-the-world scenaria is, what happens when there are no rules? When someone’s breaking into your home and the cops aren’t coming…well, bad example. That happens now. However, my point is, we all seek control, even if, perhaps especially if, it’s illusory.

To a large extent? Control is an illusion and the button isn’t really hooked up. Maybe you can control how you react to stress, but lots of the time, life happens to you. You don’t choose your parents or your country of birth or how smart you aren’t. Nobody feels much control sitting in a paper gown on a doctor’s examination table when the doc sighs and says, “Hmmmm.”

But how long will the inertia of our civilization last?

When disaster is cataclysmic, the rules change quickly. That’s Hurricane Katrina. But when the pandemic creeps in slowly (as it does in Season One of This Plague of Days — at least in the American theater of teh pandemic. Europe and the rest of the world get it in the shorts first.)

How will society break down from civilized expectations to Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome + The Walking Dead + 28 Days Later + Gigli?

Drones, robots, zombies: We’ve all had jobs that made us feel like we are taking up space, have no will of our own and are out of control. Our stress levels are largely tied to issues around locus of control. When the rules are gone and the economy falls apart and we’re all out of work, however, it won’t be a libertarian freedom fantasy. It’ll devolve into cabbage soup for breakfast, lunch and supper. And no wi-fi!

That’s why we’ll need people who remember their humanity even when there are no rules imposed by authority. That’s why, at the end of Season Three, you’re going to be given a shred of hope. Death will be faced and Death will win, as it always does eventually. However, amid the carnage, there’s a few moments where, whether your favorite characters live or die, there is a point besides how many gory deaths we can expect.

One reviewer (a detractor) asked indelicately, “Why are the uninfected all assholes in the apocalypse?”

Answers:

1. Because an apocalypse without conflict, scarcity, fear and anger isn’t an apocalypse and a book without conflict sucks. 

2. One-dimensional people who always do good no matter what are predictable and therefore boring. We love them in real life (if we can find them) but fiction demands more. I must also add that not everyone is an “asshole” in This Plague of Days. Certainly not. However, they have complex motivations and face peculiar challenges. This is not about a bunch of soldiers holed up in a fortress with all the supplies they could ever need and endless ammo. The Spencers are pretty much regular people in extraordinary circumstances and every day is a test they did not study for. Failure = death.

3. And finally, plenty of people are assholes now and it’s not quite the apocalypse yet. Not quite. At least, not everywhere.

It is the apocalypse in some places. Author William Gibson said, ““The future is already here – it’s just not evenly distributed.” Similarly, the apocalypse arrives at different speeds. And as Arnold said, “Judgment Day is inevitable.”

~ I’m Robert Chazz Chute. I wrote This Plague of Days, Seasons One and Two. I’d be happier if you read it. If you’re happier after you read it, please leave a happy review, too. Thanks!

Oh, and Season One is available in paperback for Christmas.

Get that for your friends, enemies, family, barber, Weird Combover Guy at the shop, the lady at the front desk at the office with the huge, hairspray hair, that avuncular uncle you like and the teenager who doesn’t like to read much but you want to encourage his brain. And so on.)

 


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