Guest Post: Jay Wilburn #SummerofZombie

Summer of Zombie 2015

Dead song book 1 CD Cover Idea-001

“The Weight of a World in Freefall”

by Jay Wilburn

The smart money in writing is on the series. Stand alone novels are thought to lose readership that could potentially follow the characters into another novel that carries the story forward. Readers of apocalyptic literature are thought to be particularly prone to follow a series or sub series which follow characters through the other parts of the world created by the story.

An extended series with multiple installments creates quite a landscape and mythology to follow for the readers and the writer attempting to serve the readers over time.

I’ve spoken to a few authors that don’t fret too much about the complexity of the world they create. Some of them use loyal beta readers that keep track of which houses are blue and which roads lead east. They quite successfully catch most of those bits in the editing as far as I can tell from my reading.

Writers are getting divided into planner/plotters or “pantsers” – those that plan and outline their stories as opposed to those that fly by the seats of their pants and just let the story evolve. I’m kind of something else, I think. I’m a tracker or mapper maybe. I do rough outlines for stories in the form of jotting ideas and I often outline out the last few chapters as I reach the final stretch of the book. Most of my notes on characters and story are after they arise in the novel. A character’s back story or some detail about what they say or do in chapter 5, I will write that down in running notes so that characters speak and act in a consistent way.

These running notes include the world building for me too. In the midst of my jumbles of hometowns, parents’ names, and catch phrases around a character’s name, I’ll also have sketched maps with roads, creeks, and lakes around a farm the characters are holing up in or returning to. These maps will expand to the fields where they drop a weapon while escaping or to a cabin on one side of the highway across the river where they became trapped by the zombies. If the characters return to these sites in a later chapter or book 3, then I flip back to those maps and update them as they interact with the landscape.

The fact that Line King Drive goes north along the eastern fence of DW Farms from the gate and burn pits to the docks on the Tennessee River west of the dam may not all be important every time they leave the farm, but it might be important for a reader that has invested into the setting of the story. The fact that Fisher Span goes northwest from the cemetery to a bridge that’s out with an abandoned neighborhood on the other side may never come up in the series, but it probably matters that I know where that road leads so that I don’t take it two different places in two different books.

I know other authors that just look that stuff up when and if it comes up in one of the later books. Maybe they will live longer than me by not worrying about it ahead of time, but I could have a nervous breakdown searching through a book looking for one detail about what street a house was on or where I said the master bedroom was in book two. Was it over the garage or over the office? The entire series may hinge on this!

The streets and lake position may matter a good bit in a series that stays put in the same town for a long time. A story that travels might have some bigger concerns in terms of the world.

A number of zombie stories I have written recently are taking place further into the future beyond the initial outbreak. I wrote one that took place in the distant future around Washington D.C. and Arlington. The details about the ruins, where monuments and bridges were located, and how the structures were used over the centuries all played into the story and the world.

In Dead Song, the characters are music collectors that travel between pockets of survivors to record music being played by these different groups. Some areas are more isolated and solitary. Other parts of the country have vibrant, post apocalyptic economies and trade. Some areas have been preserved by the occupation of survivors. Other land is being reclaimed by nature in its abandonment. Some scenes take place in areas that were once occupied, but then lost. That unseen history is communicated through details about what is left behind and in what condition and it manipulates the story based on the obstacles and visuals these pieces of the world place in their paths.

If a group of survivors expanded into an area, claimed it, and lost it, but then fell back to survive again, that is going to have certain structural clues to that history. If that culture is encountered in that regrouped state, are they reeling, are they recovering, are they better for giving up the ground, or have they doubled-down in some other way which will inform how they will interact with the characters? These differences may be subtle and not directly explained, but they can use the world itself to create layers to character and story that can be powerful in their subtlety.

My favorite uses of setting and detail are when the world itself becomes a character. In a very few stories, I have seen authors almost reverse the dynamic where the setting becomes the character and the people in the story are the set pieces that develop the place. It is tough to explain how that happens, but I see it in authors that are writing about a location they know intimately. If done poorly, they run a risk of saturating the reader with description at the cost of story.

The best settings reflect something about the characters. The lay of the land, the details of the decay, and even the graffiti inform about the characters’ past, their moods, their intentions, and their secrets. It foreshadows the action coming in the story, but also the inner turmoil of the characters themselves. Setting serves as a blank slate for story telling in the same way that zombies can serve as a blank slate of a monster for the characters to fight the dangers outside and inside.

A great story and a great series of stories deserve a great world to both backdrop the story and to enhance the experience of it all for the readers.

Check out The Dead Song Legend Dodecology Book 1: January from Milwaukee to Muscle Shoals

Check out the five song sound track in The Sound May Suffer … Songs from the Dead Song Legend Book 1: January

Check out the five song sound track in The Sound May Suffer … Songs from the Dead Song Legend Book 1: January

me (1)

Jay Wilburn lives with his wife and two sons in Conway, South Carolina near Myrtle Beach on the Atlantic coast of the southern United States. He was a teacher for sixteen years before leaving to become a full-time writer. He writes in many genre. His Dead Song series book 1 is available now along with the five song soundtrack The Sound May Suffer.

*   *   *   *   *

The stench of rotting flesh is in the air! Welcome to the Summer of Zombie Blog Tour 2015, with 30+ of the best zombie authors spreading the disease in the month of June.

Stop by the event page on Facebook so you don’t miss an interview, guest post or teaser…and pick up some great swag as well!

Giveaways galore from most of the authors as well as interaction with them!

#SummerofZombie is the hashtag for Twitter, too!

Guest Post: Eric A. Shelman #SummerofZombie

I’m a guy who has loved monsters of all kinds since I was a little kid, so I often wonder why readers would limit themselves to a diet of only zombie apocalypse novels.  It’s not a slam, because clearly I love writing zombie fiction; it’s just interesting to me that someone who is a voracious reader could have such a narrow reading focus.

I suppose the very question tells you that I do write other than zombie novels, and sometimes, when I’m fully intending to write a new one, I have all these freaky ideas pop into my head … often leading me away from the traditional, shambling, human-turned-walking dead, zombie.

Don’t get me wrong; you are one dedicated, crazy-ass group of zombie-lovin’ readers, and you are so greatly appreciated, it’s not funny.  My question to you is this:  Was your migration to this exclusive genre of literature immediate or gradual?  If zombie novels are about the survivors more than the zombies, what is it about the whole scenario that makes you so eager to read the next book from that next author entering the field?  I mean, there are survivors in every apocalyptic tale – and they become your heroes.   Must you have walking dead folks trippin’ down the avenue to warm the cockles of your shriveled hearts?

EMPs.  Nuclear disasters.  Alien invasions.  All of these threaten to destroy mankind … but man.  When it’s mankind that changes and threatens mankind (okay, PCers, humankind!) that’s when it really gets good.

So besides zombies, what IS the next big thing?   What really excites you besides the shambling dead?  Zombies may be first in your reading list, but is there a close second for some of you?  If so, what?

The books I’ve loved to read since I first got into horror are wide-ranging.  I was always a fan of horror tales.  When I was a little kid, there was a show called Thriller that came on around midnight, I think.  Great horror stories.  We also had Outer Limits, Twilight Zone, Night Gallery and so many really cool shows designed to freak you out.

I was also into horror movies, of course, but when I started to get into reading horror books, one of my early favorites was released around 1981, called Wolfen, by Whitley Streiber.   Let me tell you … this book scared the holy hell out of me, and I LOVED it.  I recommended it to others and they loved it, too.   It was so unique, and I could picture every scene in my head.  That’s one reason why, when the movie came out, I was so damned disappointed.

  1. Paul Wilson’s book, The Keep, was another book that I loved like crazy. Scared me good. James Herbert’s Lair was another of my favorites.   I eventually got into Stephen King and The Stand became my favorite book of all time.  This was a good versus evil story with a worldwide apocalypse going on at the same time, and it had every element of fantastic horror that I could ever beg for.   No zombies, though.  (I did love Stephen King’s Cell.  There.  I said it.  Even the ending.)

For all the reasons above, I absolutely still read the established authors that I’ve loved for years, such as Dean Koontz and Stephen King.  Others that I’ve read for a long time are guys like Robert Ludlum (dead), Clive Cussler and Ken Follett, who really can weave a hell of a tale.   I’ll still dig into a Grisham novel, too.   I think reading all of these guys makes me a better writer.  They’re just so damned good.

So please comment below and let me know what ghoul or freak, killer or monster YOU would like me to write about.  Your ideas would actually be cool.  See if you can throw me a concept or two and I’ll toss them around in my twisted mind and see if something comes to me.

And thanks again for checking out the Summer Of Zombie Blog Tour 2015.   This really is a fun bunch of authors and I’m so honored to be included in their numbers.

And I’m really honored to be included in YOUR reading list.

Thank you.  You buncha freaks.

 Shelman Author Pic

*   *   *   *   *

The stench of rotting flesh is in the air! Welcome to the Summer of Zombie Blog Tour 2015, with 30+ of the best zombie authors spreading the disease in the month of June.

Stop by the event page on Facebook so you don’t miss an interview, guest post or teaser…and pick up some great swag as well!

Giveaways galore from most of the authors as well as interaction with them!

#SummerofZombie is the hashtag for Twitter, too!

Guest Post: Jake Bible #SummerofZombie

Zombies: Why original ideas sometimes work and sometimes don’t

Jake Bible


When I first started writing professionally, sending short stories off and getting paid for them, I told myself I wouldn’t start writing a novel until I had sold six shorts.

Then that day came and I was left sitting there wondering what the hell I was going to write about. I’d always wanted to write about zombies, but there just didn’t seem to be anything original going on with the genre. It seemed, and no pun untended, dead to me.

Then one fine night I was watching television and an ad came on for Transformers 2. This sparked a train of thought that led me to my love of the mecha genre. Even though I had never really explored the genre in depth, I had always been fascinated by the idea of pilots in mechs kicking some serious ass.

Then my head went, “What if a pilot died in his mech and became a zombie?”

Dead Mech was born.

Zombies. Mechs. Zombies in mechs! It was the novel equivalent of chocolate and peanut butter coming together.

I started writing (and podcasting the novel) and by the time I was done with both I had built a solid fan base that was a mix of zombie fiction lovers, military fiction lovers, and mecha fans. Not a bad job for a first time writer.

But then what? Where to go from there?

I continued to write the Apex Trilogy (Dead Mech, The Americans, Metal & Ash), and was having a lot of fun doing that, but I felt I wasn’t done with the zombie genre. I had more story to tell.

Then, as luck would have it, I was at a con promoting Dead Mech with a bunch of other zombies authors and we were sitting on a panel. So was a a gentleman by the name of Jonathan Maberry. You may have heard of him (you better have if you are into zombies). He mentioned that agents were looking for YA zombie novels.

YA zombie novels? As in writing for young adults? Interesting.

On the long drive back from Pittsburgh (great city, that), my brain went into overdrive. I had eight hours to kill, so why not try to come up with an idea for a YA zombie novel.

I cycled through a billion ideas and tossed them aside. They’d been done. I was about to pull out what little hair I had on my head (I have even less now) when inspiration struck.

What was my main theme in Dead Mech? Family.

So, what if I made my YA novel about twin brothers, one alive and one undead? Perfect!

Not so perfect. One problem. The undead brother would try to kill and eat the living one which would make for a very short novel unless I wanted them to be enemies, which I did not.

Again, luck strikes, as I drive past a car with a baby seat in the back. I catch a glimpse of the sleeping infant and that’s when I realize that I can have one of the twins be an undead baby. And the only way to keep the parents from killing it was if the twins were conjoined!

Welcome to Little Dead Man!

Original idea, great theme of family and brotherhood, plenty of action and horror, the novel ended up having it all.

But, it also had a very weird concept. While I thought of the idea of conjoined twins, one alive and one undead, to be very original, most publishers and editors found it to be too out there to be marketable. My agent tried and tried, but we never found a home for the novel.

I received lots of “favorable rejections” from editors saying they loved the writing, but just didn’t know what to do with the concept. I’d actually created something too original.

Eventually I self-published the novel then went on to sell it to Permuted Press. It became one of the first of their offset printed trade paperbacks in their Permuted Platinum line.

It’s done almost nothing in sales.

This has a lot to do with factors outside my control, but also has to do with the one factor that was in my control: a completely weird, original idea.

I am very proud of the novel, and it has gotten great reviews and readers love it, but damn if I didn’t original myself into a corner.

So, when it comes to picking out original ideas for the zombie genre, always remember your audience. With Dead Mech I was able to cross over to the military scifi folks and the mecha folks. That broadened my readership instantly. But, for Little Dead Man, it was a straight up zombie novel with zero cross over.  And no matter how original the idea was, not having that cross over made it way too easy for folks to set the book back on the shelf and move on to something slightly more familiar.

People love originality until they don’t and I learned that the hard way.

But, hey, at least I’m 50/50 on the original idea scoreboard. I’ll take that win and move on. It’s what a writer does.


*   *   *   *   *

The stench of rotting flesh is in the air! Welcome to the Summer of Zombie Blog Tour 2015, with 30+ of the best zombie authors spreading the disease in the month of June.

Stop by the event page on Facebook so you don’t miss an interview, guest post or teaser…and pick up some great swag as well!

Giveaways galore from most of the authors as well as interaction with them!

#SummerofZombie is the hashtag for Twitter, too!

Guest Post: Armand Rosamilia #SummerofZombie

Same Songs, Different Stories

Years ago I wrote a long-winded comedic book about my experiences as a shoe salesman. It was fiction although way too much of it was autobiographical. It must be about 20 years ago I pounded away on my Brother word processor and finished it in about 2 weeks.

I literally did nothing but write the novel. It was awful, I’m sure.

Back then I had no clue what I was doing (I could make the same argument now, of course…) and just wrote. And wrote. I’d come home from work and immediately start typing, no care about sentence structure or anything else. It was fun and cathartic and I never had any intention of doing anything with it. Hell, I couldn’t in 1995 if I tried. I had no real clue except for short story markets.

I was going through a rough patch and needed to write. I also needed music to get me through the lonely nights by myself and my writing.

Dramarama was the band for me.

Never heard of them? Here is the Dramarama Facebook page even though they’ve been around before even MySpace was a thing… you might have even heard their only semi-hit, “Anything, Anything” (which is still my favorite song of all-time, by the way). They were the greatest New Jersey band that never made it as far as the rest of the world was concerned, and that is a shame.

I blasted all of their CD’s as I wrote and it put me in the perfect mood to write.

In the last 20 years I’ve gone back to this well many times and it has always worked when I’m not feeling it. When I’d rather be sleeping or watching TV or reading than writing.

I wrote most of Highway To Hell listening to Dramarama. I wrote almost every word of Dying Days 2 watching their videos on Youtube, too. My CD’s are all long gone in this computer age, although I had them all on my hard drive on my desk top computer up until last year.

Today, as I write this, I’ve just completed a whirlwind writing marathon over the last week. 30,000 words in 6 days on a novel on a tight deadline. The last 5 days my wife has been helping me but today she was back to work, so i pressed on to finish it myself. I wasted the morning playing on Facebook and listening to music instead of writing.

Then I saw a Dramarama video and got serious, killing my word count in less than 3 hours and wrapping up the book a day early. All I needed was the proper mindset and some old friendly songs to get me through…


*   *   *   *   *

The stench of rotting flesh is in the air! Welcome to the Summer of Zombie Blog Tour 2015, with 30+ of the best zombie authors spreading the disease in the month of June.

Stop by the event page on Facebook so you don’t miss an interview, guest post or teaser…and pick up some great swag as well!

Giveaways galore from most of the authors as well as interaction with them!

#SummerofZombie is the hashtag for Twitter, too!

Guest Post: Shawn Chesser #SummerofZombie

Seven Stages of a Chesser Novel

Stage 1: Oh Crap! I promised what, to whom, when?

Like one of those well-dressed Sunday morning callers bearing flimsy paper pamphlets, this gut-clenching realization comes a’ knocking the moment my book release party is over and I’m shutting the laptop—“For a month, honey. I promise”—and pushing away from the office desk. It’s at that moment, fingernails making half-moons in the wooden desk top, that I realize that I have just promised to my readers a follow-up novel with a working title and, inexplicably—as if I had fallen victim to some kind of Jedi mind trick—the EXACT month I hope to publish said follow-up. So … now that I’ve gone and saddled myself with a self-imposed deadline—which is hands down the last thing this indie scribbler intended to do—I scream. Loudly. Into a pillow.

Stage 2: Pantser powers activate.

After flapping my gums at the release party, I’ve left myself no choice but to slink off to somewhere my wife won’t find me and covertly crack open the laptop. I’ve already coughed up the working title (on eight of my nine STZA releases the working title went on to grace the cover), so let the pantsing begin.

For me an exhaustive outline is a big waste of time. Instead, being a pantser, I start writing and let the characters, and perhaps a couple of serendipitous instances from the previous novel, dictate where the story goes. Being more than a little Type-A, amazingly, writing is about the only aspect of my life where I’m comfortable just flying by the seat of my pants.

Stage 3: Rise of the Naysayers in my head.

Now that I’ve gone ahead and run with one or more of the plot devices I’ve purposefully planted in the previous novel, I start to second and third and fourth guess myself. This excruciatingly painful stage usually begins at about the two-month mark when I’m at least 30K words into the first draft, and new characters I’ve really grown attached to are taking life. It’s now that the cold finger of dread trying to tell me I’m off on a tangent seems to trace my spine several times a day. And no matter my melatonin intake, the thunka, thunka, thunka of the out-of-control hamster wheel in my mind is beginning to deprive me of sleep.

 Stage 4: Ahhhhh! The cover is all wrong.

It’s around month four and I’m about 80K words in when the stage four gut punch arrives. By now the cover has been commissioned. I am fully committed to the design, when suddenly I realize that the scene I had envisioned the cover to be representative of either will never make it into my first draft, or has turned out so radically different from what will be on the cover that I fear the army of internet trolls out there will catch on and (author’s privilege be damned) call me out for false advertising.

Since it’s too late in the game to change the cover, and I never, ever, feed the trolls, what does an indie author who doesn’t have a money tree growing in the back yard do?  He writes a good old-fashioned dream sequence. Voilà! Cover dilemma solved. Take that, nit-pickers!

Stage 5: Entering the Quicksand months.

Now it’s month five. My manuscript is barreling down the tracks and I realize, barring a complete rewrite, there’s no changing course. So I start to panic … a little. The hamster wheel is now full of rats—big ol’ specimens straight out of a city sewer—and the thunka, thunka, thunka in my head now sounds like a flat tire on a Mack truck going round and round.

If my current work in progress is slated for an early summer release, then we’re talking April and May, months in which my kids are involved in every spring sport save for the ones that are staged indoors where having my face parked in a laptop might go unnoticed. #NotWritingMuch

However, if my current WIP is slated for an end of year release, then the aforementioned Quicksand months are Noschoolvember (I coined that) and December—both big-time productivity killers.

The former is rife with teacher’s planning days that stretch every weekend to three and sometimes four-day mini-vacations for my kids. Throw Thanksgiving into the mix and I can count on two hands how many days my lovely offspring actually see the inside of a classroom.

While the latter, December, needs no alteration to remind me that during that holiday-laden month the classroom lights at my kids’ school are off way more than they are on.

Stage 6: Off to the editor.

I’m in the tail end of the Quicksand months and I’ve (hopefully) made my deadline and the MS has been sent off into the internet ether. Do I take a couple of weeks off while I wait for edits to come back? Nope. I’m already obsessing about whether I should change the ending or resurrect the reader’s favorite characters. Also I’ve started convincing myself my novel is craptastic and the beta readers hate it and the MS will return any moment from editor marred with red ink and retitled: WTF IS THIS?

Thankfully, over the years, only a couple of those beta readers failed to return feedback … and that doesn’t really mean they hated it … right? Maybe they were toiling away in their own Quicksand month.

Finally, just as I’m thinking the light at the end of the tunnel is a train, the MS comes back from my wonderful longtime editor, Monique Happy, and it’s not as marked up as I had feared. With my latest novel, “Ghosts: Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse,” amazingly, I actually ignored my monkey brain and kept the ending as it was initially written. And those beloved characters … I’m not telling. (Cue evil laugh.)

Stage 7: Postpartum depression.

The release party is in the books and prizes are all mailed out. What to do? Relax as per wife’s orders? Nope. Post-partum depression has set in. It’s the malaise that I’ve heard hits a lot of us scribblers once our new baby has gone forth. For me, the masochist who has seemingly forgotten the last six months’ struggle, the only way to remedy the funk is to dig out the laptop and LATHER, RINSE, REPEAT.

“Frayed: Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse” is slated for (hopefully) an early July release. Also look for a 19K word zompoc piece from me that will be included in the forthcoming “Middletown Apocalypse,” a collaboration of eleven zompoc authors headed up by the awesome Jack Wallen.

FB Author Page

FB Page

Amazon Author Page


*   *   *   *   *

The stench of rotting flesh is in the air! Welcome to the Summer of Zombie Blog Tour 2015, with 30+ of the best zombie authors spreading the disease in the month of June.

Stop by the event page on Facebook so you don’t miss an interview, guest post or teaser…and pick up some great swag as well!

Giveaways galore from most of the authors as well as interaction with them!

#SummerofZombie is the hashtag for Twitter, too!

Guest Post: Mike Evans #SummerofZombie

By Your Side

Mike Evans

Who do you expect to stand by your side in the start of the zombie apocalypse, when it all starts when hell is unleashed on society, when the crazy starts the anarchy rises? I know until recently my thought process has been on what I see in the mirror. What I see when I go to work, and I feel guilty about it, making assumptions about people, about a large portion of America. As a writer it’s my job to think outside of the box, but going off of mainstream media whether it be television or books bother elated to zombies I have not been as original as I might have needed to be to say that I am really pushing things to the limit, to the brink of sanity. What am I talking about? I am talking about the handicapped, the wounded, those with special needs. When can you say that you as a person one that is considered normal and healthy one that you wouldn’t consider telling your children not to stare at because its rude for some reason to look at someone with a disability. Because for some reason treating them as though they do not exist is what is acceptable. It makes me sick to my stomach and I can’t say that I am not completely guilty of it. I have scolded my own children for staring at a girl with braces, for one pushing a wheelchair, and why? Because that is the way that it has always been unfortunately.

So when you start to consider the zombie apocalypse and who you see, who do you imagine will survive, I have to ask you to think outside of the box. That people with special needs, that people will not be thinned out because of their special needs, their disability, their race or their sexual preference. The thinning out of a set percentage of people very well will be the ones that are saving your life, and keeping you moving on a daily basis. There is nothing about the apocalypse that means we as what America is basing its thought process of normal off of that means we will survive, that we won’t be a target.

I think those you choose not to look at would make it. I know that there and plenty of soldiers and vets young and old who are twice the man that I am. Those that have seen hell and came home from it. They might not have come back with the limbs that they have left with but they came back because they wanted to live and they know how to fight and how to survive.

You say so those with physical disabilities would survive but thousands upon thousands of Americans both young and old who participate and train for special Olympics and could easily kick my ass in a race ten out of ten times. There are weight lifters who could flip a Cadillac if it was in their way.

So when you think of the ones you are going to be looking at for help for those that you don’t choose to acknowledge for fear of being caught making eye contact, the next time say hello it might be the thing that ends up saving you when the dead decide to rise.

Mike Evans lives in Iowa with his wife and children. He writes for character depth because he wishes for you to love the character, regardless if they are the villain or the hero. He likes to write from a unique perspective, doing things with books that no one has done before. He keeps his characters realistic, there are no superhero like events that will happen. There are no perfect characters in his books, everyone has their flaws much like that of life.

Amazon Author Page

Facebook author page

Twitter @mikee1123



*   *   *   *   *

The stench of rotting flesh is in the air! Welcome to the Summer of Zombie Blog Tour 2015, with 30+ of the best zombie authors spreading the disease in the month of June.

Stop by the event page on Facebook so you don’t miss an interview, guest post or teaser…and pick up some great swag as well!

Giveaways galore from most of the authors as well as interaction with them!

#SummerofZombie is the hashtag for Twitter, too!