Guest Post: Steven Pajak #WinterofZombie

MadSwineTrilogyCovers (Steve Pajak)

Zombies. We all love them (or fear them). They are undead creatures that come in a variety of flavors such as dead bodies that are animated by magic, or the more modern that is the result of other methods, such as viruses.  Recently, after reading through some of the reviews of my Mad Swine series, I noticed many comments that refer to my zombies as ‘mostly zombies’ or ‘zombies, sort of’ and it sparked a conversation with a close friend about how people think of or categorize zombies. And more importantly, are zombies better than ‘zombies, sort of’?

I am sure the topic has been heavily debated in the darkest corners of the shadiest internet forums. There are those that draw their line in the sand and proclaim that Romero’s slow walkers are the only true zombies, while others, tend to have a more loose interpretation of what is a zombie, while others just don’t give a crap or care about the distinction (this is where I tend to pitch my tent) as long as they are entertained.

For me, it is a touch question to answer. I have no bias. I love my zombies in all flavors. Each has its pros or cons, but in the end, I am entertained, and to me, that is what is most important. That said, I’d like to hear from the fans, as well as my fellow author, their thoughts on the subject.

Author photo (Steve Pajak)

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The stench of frozen flesh is in the air! Welcome to the Winter of Zombie Blog Tour 2015, with 40+ of the best zombie authors spreading the disease in the month of November.

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!

#WinterofZombie is the hashtag for Twitter, too!

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Teaser: Heath Stallcup #WinterofZombie

Caldera resized

UPPSALA UNIVERSITY, SWEDEN

 

Dr. Neils Andersson stared into the microscope and watched for enzymatic changes as the pipette dripped the clear solution onto the slide below. He sighed to himself as sleet beat against the window announcing the next winter storm to slicken the university campus and forming an icy cap to the foot of snow already blanketing the grounds.

Rubbing at his neck, he pushed back from the workbench and made his notes in the lab book and tossed his glasses aside. He rubbed at his tired eyes and ran his hand through his thick blonde hair, then stretched his shoulders to regain some circulation into his upper body. Standing slowly, he stepped to the window to watch the grey black clouds that hung pregnant over the horizon dump their icy moisture onto the grounds below. Most of the students had already scampered indoors or had refused to venture out due to the weather and he couldn’t blame them. Most of their professors had cancelled classes because of the winter storm.

He turned back to stare at the upcoming tests he had waiting and sighed once more…science never waited for those who searched for answers. Picking up his cooled mug of tea, he sat back at his station and prepared his next experiment. Working with Neanderthal DNA wasn’t exactly the sort of science that could make one a rock star in his field, but he enjoyed it, and the answers he hoped to find would satisfy his own curiosity and that of his peers. What happened to these people? How did they disappear when they had the obvious advantages? They were stronger, more adept to their environment, they were skilled hunters and had rudimentary tools. It was obvious that they weren’t killed off by early modern man. So what happened?

Neils prepared his next sample and settled in to wait. He was becoming worried that the samples were tainted. Mitochondrial DNA shouldn’t ALL be the same, but these samples were coming up that way, which made him fear that somehow they had been tainted by the collectors. Mitochondrial DNA is passed from the mother to child only in all mammals. Yet somehow, all of the samples were coming up the same. And with no variations in the samples at all, he could only draw one conclusion…

Neils prepared the next batch for replication and reheated his tea for the third…fourth time? He shrugged at the thought and smiled to himself. What difference did it make? Tea was tea. As long as it was warm on a day like today, that was what mattered.

He took his seat and waited for the timer to sound when his computer chimed. Neils rolled his chair over and clicked the enter button to awaken the machine and saw the video conference icon flashing. Clicking it, the screen lit up and he saw the concerned face of a respected colleague, Dr. Vivian LaRue, who had been studying the caves of Nerja in southern Spain.

“Vivian, so nice to see you again,” he said, smiling.

“Neils.” She didn’t smile in return, and her eyes kept scanning something off screen, “I keep finding something odd in this DNA profiling. I thought I’d double-check with you since you’re the expert.”

Neils nodded and leaned closer, noting how he appeared in the little window in the corner of his own screen. “Anything I can do to help.”

“We’ve run these mitochondrial samples four times…” she began. Neils sighed, nodding. “They all return with disturbing results.” She finally looked up to meet his eyes on the screen.

“I’m running into the same thing here, Vivian,” Neils replied. “I can assure you, the procedure is valid. We’ve been using it for decades.”

She studied his image for a moment then glanced off-screen and lowered her voice, “I would offer that perhaps the DNA was compromised by whomever collected it…”

Neils could tell by the sound of her voice that she had more to say. “But?”

“Neils, I collected it myself,” she answered quietly. “I know I used proper protocols.”

Neils sat back and considered the possibilities. “That only leaves two possibilities.”

“Which are?” Her eyes widened with curiosity.

“Well, it’s simple really.” He tossed his hands up. “If you used proper protocols, then the results are valid and you have the correct DNA profiles.”

“Or?”

“Or somebody tampered with the reagents.”

Vivian sat back and studied his image for a moment, her jaw quivering. “We should meet.”

“I agree,” he lowered his voice as well, “because I’ve run the same test on a different group of ‘tals and I’ve gotten the same results.”

This time her eyes bugged as she sat forward. “You what?” She paused a moment to collect her thoughts. “That isn’t possible.”

He inhaled deeply and nodded, “I’m afraid it is.” He held up a printout of his results. “I printed it out and compared them just to make sure, and it is spot on identical.”

“Neils…that isn’t…” her eyes darted to the side.

“Not even with inbreeding to the nth degree it isn’t.”

“So what does it all mean?” Her eyes probed his displayed image. “I simply couldn’t dream that anybody would want to conspire to—”

“No,” Neils interrupted, “I’m not going to go that far.” He stood up and paced, not caring that he was walking in and out of the frame of the video conference. “But I might go so far as to think that perhaps the manufacturer of the reagents had a bad batch of chemicals.”

Vivian sat back and considered the possibility. “I suppose.” But she shook her head again, “But they’re so basic, Neils, how could it slip past—”

“I’m just playing Devil’s Advocate, that’s all.”

“Fine. Where do you get yours?”

He paused, looked at her, and shrugged. “I’m not…um…hold on.” He walked over to the workbench and pulled down the reagent box. “They’re from Germany. A research laboratory—”

“Ours come from France,” she interrupted him. “So what are the odds?”

He plopped back into his chair and stared at her image. “Where do you want to meet?”

“Somewhere warmer than where you’re at?” She finally smiled at him.

 

*****

 

“Vivian, we’ve run the test four times. It always comes back the same.” Neils sighed and pushed his glasses up on his head. “I don’t know what to tell you.”

“It isn’t possible that two separate groups of Neanderthals from two different regions would share the same mitochondrial DNA.”

“I’m not disagreeing.” He wanted to pace to allow himself to think better. “But the science says otherwise.”

“Then the science is wrong!” She slammed the notebook down. “Science is often wrong until it’s…”

“What?” Neils asked, his brows raised.

“Well, until it’s right.”

Neils chuckled and set his own notes down. “Trust me, Viv, I understand your frustration.” He stood and rubbed at her shoulders. “But yelling and throwing things won’t change the results.”

“What are we doing wrong?” she groaned as she stretched her neck under his artful hands.

He shook his head. “Nothing.” He exhaled long and hard. “It simply is what it is.” He continued to knead at her stiff muscles as his mind kept working over the results.

A technician entered with another batch of replicated DNA and placed the vials on the bench. “It’s ready doctors,” he said, setting the vials down. As he turned to leave, he stifled a rather loud sneeze into his sleeve then turned abruptly to the two researchers. “Pardon, nasty virus going around.”

Neils simply raised a hand and waved him on. The technician gave a quick apologetic nod of his head and stepped out. Neils chuckled, “Please remind me to use a hand-sanitizer after we strip these gloves. I wouldn’t want to catch this…” he trailed off.

“What?” Vivian turned a curious eye to him. “The bug going around the clinic here?”

Neils sat down hard in his chair and stared at her, a silly grin forming on his features. “Virus.”

“Yes?” she replied. “I believe that’s what he said.”

“No,” he laughed. “A virus! ” He slapped at his leg.

“I’m not following you.” Vivian was lost as Neils began fumbling through his research papers.

“We were looking for the wrong thing…” He pulled up the printout he had brought from his original sampling and pushed his roller chair over to Vivian’s research material. He scattered the papers until he found the printout from her own. “Ah-ha! ”

“I’m still not following you, Neils.” Her voice was hesitant.

“It was a virus! ” he giggled. “This whole time we thought we were mapping mitochondrial DNA, but it wasn’t. That’s the only thing that can explain it.”

“No, that’s not possible, Neils. A virus isn’t that complex.” She pulled her glasses back on.

Neils placed both print outs up to the light box and clicked it on. “Look. If it’s the same virus and it replicates itself, then it overwrites the hosts DNA. We know this, correct?”

“Well, yes, technically, a virus enters a cell and uses the cell’s materials to replicate itself, but, we are mapping mitochondrial DNA, not cellular DNA, so…”

“But what if this virus targets mitochondrial DNA?” His voice rising as he posed the question.

She sat back and stared at him. “I’m no virologist, but I’ve not heard of such a bug.”

“I’ve not either, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist.” He smiled at her. “And who’s to say what virus strains existed in the Paleolithic period?” He tapped the light box and indicated the repeating patterns. “Look at these patterns. They keep repeating over and over and over. Doesn’t that seem more than just a little off?”

“Well…yes,” she finally admitted. “But do you really think we’re mapping a disease?”

He sat back and chuckled again. “It would explain why two different groups from two different regions ALL share the same DNA when it should be lineal, don’t you think?”

Vivian sighed as she stared at the light box and the repeating patterns. “So, despite having ruined samples, and no way to discern lineage, or good working samples, or ways to discern familial types…”

“We may have discovered what really killed off Neanderthal man,” Neils theorized.

bulldog writer

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The stench of frozen flesh is in the air! Welcome to the Winter of Zombie Blog Tour 2015, with 40+ of the best zombie authors spreading the disease in the month of November.

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!

#WinterofZombie is the hashtag for Twitter, too!

Guest Post: Duncan P. Bradshaw #WinterofZombie

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Class Four: Those Who Survive

Duncan P. Bradshaw

 

Those Who Survive is the first book in the Class Four trilogy, which picks up from the events in Class Three. The dead now rule the world, and survivors are forced to eke out an existence any way they can.

My main aim with the book was to convey real people surviving in the apocalypse. The main theme is survivor guilt, and how normal people, having witnessed extraordinary things, deal with the consequences.

There are a number of narratives going through the book, the main one follows an ex-security guard and an eight year old boy, who he has promised to look after, following the death of the child’s mother.

The pair move from place to place, scavenging what they can, but always trying to stay one step ahead of the undead, and of other, less welcoming survivors. After a chance meeting, they strike out for sanctuary, some hundred odd miles away, hoping that with the promise of good people, and strong walls, they can make it through these dark times.

Along the way, they come up against the full spectrum of life in the new world. A freak show with a grisly secret, zombies, and a collection of mad, twisted yokels. Can they face each threat and make it to their journeys end? Even if they do, what condition will they be in?

The security guard is not alone in having a past he wishes to forget, and being a popular figure from my debut novel, Class Three, the readers discover the horrors that befell him on Day One.

Elsewhere, a group of survivors are holed up in an abandoned biscuit factory. Their defacto ruler is The Gaffer, a man who knows what is needed to get through the bleak aftermath of the fall of society. He has instilled a crude system of justice and will act on any indiscretion ruthlessly.

Yet not all of the inhabitants have as clear a head, and the most affected, the ones who have become a liability to themselves and the camp, meet each week, to share their stories, and come to terms with everything they’ve lost.

Unknown to all of them though, the Children of Ishtar, a doomsday cult, who believe that their goddess’ army needs to be swelled, continue to remove any resistance. They brutally ‘help’ the non-believers ‘ascend’ and become part of the undead host.

A clandestine Children of Ishtar operative is taken into the factory, and lays the groundwork for an assault, the likes of which, no one inside could ever hope to expect or prepare for.

These are the stories of those who survive.

 

Duncan P. Bradshaw is a UK based zombie author, and is man enough to accept that the apocalypse could happen any day. Tolerating his day job with as good a grace as he can muster, he gets through each day just so he can continue building his zombified world for the future Class Four books. Even when they are complete, new stories from this world will be written, painting a vivid picture of the British Isles under siege.

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Hit him up on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/duncanpbradshaw

Or his website right here http://duncanpbradshaw.co.uk/

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The stench of frozen flesh is in the air! Welcome to the Winter of Zombie Blog Tour 2015, with 40+ of the best zombie authors spreading the disease in the month of November.

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!

#WinterofZombie is the hashtag for Twitter, too!

Guest Post: Mark Tufo #WinterofZombie

ZF9

The Visitor

(This does not contain a zombie – I have to put the word zombie in here because Armand does a word check and if it does not have that then he deletes the story)

I get asked to do these guest blog posts from time to time and I always kind of sit at my desk, head cocked to the side, staring out the window with this thousand yard gaze. The internal debate is; what the fuck am I going to write about? I don’t consider myself an expert in any particular field, sure I have opinions but you know the old saying, opinions are like arm pits everyone has two and they stink. (Was that what you were expecting?) Probably not, cause I just made that shit up. And THAT, THAT is what I do, I make shit up. So I could drone on about the socio-economic blunders of Persia in the second century or I could do a micro-short.

It was June, the year 196, Xerxes had just bought his first gold-gilded chariot. Kidding, I’m kidding! This story is actually based in fact, in that, it was a dream (at least it better have fucking been). This happened two days ago from when I sat down to write this. The sun was peeking around and through the shade on the window. I’m not sure how in the entire room that damn sun beam always found my eyes, like a laser beam, no matter the season, or the time of day. That was my alarm clock, been that way for about four years now. Tough to sleep while your eyeballs melt, they start to stick to your eyelids, it’s a mess. My routine is to grab my iPad that is on the nightstand and check the time, I don’t know why I do, I just do, because invariably it is between 7:17 and 7:21, without fail.

Today it was 7:15, that was the first indicator all was not right with the world, I had not given the boogie man the extra time to hide. The next thing I do is look to my side and see if the missus had got out of the bed before I did. Unlike me, her internal alarm clock is all over the place. Could be anywhere from 5:30 to 9. I just needed to know how quiet I had to be as I grabbed some socks and exited the room. Normal shit right? Yeah, that was except for the guy that was standing next to her side of the bed looking down at me. To say my nuts were sucked up into my throat with my deep intake of air would be an understatement.

“Tracy!” I yelled. Bald-man did not move, if anything he took a deeper look at me, as if he were wondering if I could really see him or not.

“It’s early.”

“There’s a guy here!” I was nearly in a panic. My words affected Bald-man. He no longer had to wonder, as I was pointing. My finger was less than two feet from his face. Which I should add, wasn’t malice laced, did not appear violent. Just sort of questioning.

Tracy rolled over to look. When someone says that kind of shit it tends to make you move pretty fast. She spent a second or two, her sleeping mind trying to catch up with her waking body. “Tufo there’s nobody there.”

Bald-man’s eyebrows furrowed. “He’s right there! He’s looking at you!”

Tracy sat up and turned back to me. “You’re having a dream Tufo.”

“Do I look like I’m asleep?” Bald-man was leaning over, his face getting dangerously close to mine.

She didn’t even turn this time, she was not trying to humor me in anyway. “There’s no one there. Go back to sleep.” Tracy closed her eyes and within a few moments was a slumber.

I was freaking out, Bald-man and myself were having a stare off. He was as real as you would expect a person to be at the side of your bed. This is where it gets interesting. Well maybe more interesting. On the window side of the room I caught movement in my peripheral vision, what comes through is something I’m not sure I can explain. There were two entities, ephemeral, ethereal, would be two words I’d used to describe them. They were out of focus, I could not see them clearly, is what I’m inadequately trying to say. The sun streaming through the window gave them a shimmering effect. I won’t swear it on a stack of bibles but I’m pretty sure they had wings, they weren’t outstretched but rather folded in to their sides. I turned to Bald-man to see if he was aware of this new presence. He was, he didn’t look scared, more like a kid who had got away from his mother and a store and was checking out all the new toys. His eyes became downcast as he realized he was going to have to leave and probably do a day’s worth of chores for giving his mother a scare.

And just like that they were gone. Who the fuck were they? I don’t know. Pretty strange way to start the day. I looked at my iPad it now read that magical number of 7:17, maybe I should stick to that, who the fuck knows what happens beforehand.

mark1 copy

*   *   *   *   *

The stench of frozen flesh is in the air! Welcome to the Winter of Zombie Blog Tour 2015, with 40+ of the best zombie authors spreading the disease in the month of November.

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!

#WinterofZombie is the hashtag for Twitter, too!

Guest Post: Jay Wilburn #WinterofZombie

Dead Song Book 2 front cover

Winter of Zombie 2015

Something to Prove

by Jay Wilburn

 

The reason the question keeps getting asked as to whether the zombie story is over is because there are so many bad examples out there. One reason is because the basic structure of the zombie story is easy. Another is because self-publishing without professional art or editing is easy too. In the end, many of us did this to ourselves and it is for that reason that we seem to have something to prove, if we intend to keep operating within storytelling with the zombie trope.

Writing a great zombie story is as difficult as creating any great piece of literature. Making any old zombie story may be easier though. Taking a video camera and making your own steampunk movie would be daunting. The costuming and grand scale of sets and vehicles would be cost prohibitive. Figuring out what the story is about would be tough too. There are not a ton of examples of independent steampunk films and there are few big budget films that have tackled it either even through the height of its rise in popularity and the film industry’s desperation for any story to tell. There is not an automatic steampunk story. It is an aesthetic and the story has to be created from whole cloth.

Zombie stories are different. They can be done quickly with bad make-up, torn clothes, and any setting. The story presents itself too. Any run and hide scenario works. The emotion and losses are easy too. Any character can die at any time by an obvious means within the structure. Death makes the other characters sad and scared. Point the camera and shoot. This is not to say that any and every zombie film is cheap or poorly done. There are a lot of examples of ones that are because this is the reality of the low entry point into the storytelling.

The same is true for the written zombie story. Self-publishing opened up a world of possibility for anyone aspiring to be a writer. Amazon and Createspace and other platforms that all eventually channel through Amazon in some form have allowed authors to put work out in global availability and some of us to quit our day jobs to pursue the written word full-time. No complaints here about that aspect of the modern era.

As such, many writers have tried to catch their own editing mistakes and threw the work up online with whatever cover they could produce and photoshop themselves. I know a few authors with great graphic design skills that produce their own covers. Jack Wallen is one great example. Most of us are not.

No one can effectively edit themselves. We can and should find and correct all the errors in our draft writing as we can, but putting out a good work for publication, even self-publication, requires other readers and other editors to look it over. People outside our lives and outside our heads have to find what we missed and what won’t make sense for a reader that is not us.

The difference between professional work and work that adds to the question of whether a genre is over comes down to what the author is willing to put into the work. That might mean money. If you don’t believe in yourself enough to invest in a professional cover and professional editing, you probably don’t believe in your work enough to make it worthy of publishing. As an independent author or a blended author that is putting out some self-published work, it is on you to make it professional. That means a professional looking cover and professional editing. Covers can be simple and good. There are professional cover artists out there working for small presses and indie authors. You can usually tell a difference between their work and a twenty-five dollar or a ten dollar cover. There is also a difference between cover art that is exclusive and one from clipart that appears on dozens of books. Your mom might do a great job editing, but someone that is good at grammar might not be a great editor for genre and story in the way a professional editor is. That costs money. Not all professional editors are the best either. Even after a professional edit, it is still on the author again to go through the work with a fine-toothed virtual, metaphorical comb and find any glitches that slipped through in the editing process. If you are not skilled at formatting a book, it is on you to connect with someone who is.

I am nearly useless when it comes to even identifying good art. I have no skills for formatting a book. I benefit greatly from editors. As I do this full-time, I have found people far more skilled than me to make that happen for my work. They make me look far better than I actually am.

This is not the usual level of effort you see in zombie books or all self-published work. You can tell the difference in the authors that do though. The zombie sub genre in particular has suffered the most from the quick to publish lack of professional effort. As such, those of us trying to create a better story and a better product have the most to prove. There are prime fans of horror and dystopia and monster stories that have backed off zombies. The zombie story has to be that much better to win the chance to have them back as readers. If you want to win back the trope, you have to do your best work presented in the best way.

 

 

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

Start the series here è http://amzn.to/1CvxbST

Dead Song Legend Dodecology Book 2: February from Vicksburg to Cherokee

Continue the series here è http://jaywilburn.com/book-2/

Check out the first soundtrack to the series, The Sound May Suffer: Music from the Dead Song  here è http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/thesoundmaysuffer6

or on Spotify. The hard CD is also available on Amazon.

 

Visit:

http://jaywilburn.com/

Author Jay Wilburn

Jay Wilburn lives with his wife and two sons in Conway, South Carolina near the Atlantic coast of the southern United States. He has a Masters Degree in education and he taught public school for sixteen years before becoming a full time writer. He is the author of many short stories including work in Best Horror of the Year volume 5, Zombies More Recent Dead, Shadows Over Mainstreet, and Truth or Dare. He is the author of the Dead Song Legend Dodecology and the music of the five song soundtrack recorded as if by the characters within the world of the novel The Sound May Suffer. He also wrote the novels Loose Ends and Time Eaters. He is one of the four authors behind the Hellmouth trilogy. Jay Wilburn is a regular columnist with Dark Moon Digest. Follow his many dark thoughts on Twitter, Instagram, and Periscope as @AmongTheZombies, his Facebook author page, and at JayWilburn.com

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The stench of frozen flesh is in the air! Welcome to the Winter of Zombie Blog Tour 2015, with 40+ of the best zombie authors spreading the disease in the month of November.

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!

#WinterofZombie is the hashtag for Twitter, too!

Guest Post: Armand Rosamilia #WinterofZombie

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Dying Days And New Covers

 

I’m proud of all of my releases. Some of the writing is better than others, especially as I’ve matured. Some of the covers are better than others as well, too.

And sometimes you just want to change a few things, right? I know the fun of being an indie self-published author is getting to tweak and make changes. If something doesn’t work you can try something new.

Case in point: I wrote the first Dying Days novella many years ago. Many. Before I was as confident an author as I am now, and will someday be more in the future.

After really looking at my career from not only a creative angle but from a business angle as well (thanks to my wife!) I have decided on doing a couple of things new in 2016.

I’ll be doing a minor rewrite on Dying Days and Dying Days 2. Nothing major, just another round of edits on both as well as tightening up some of the prose. The story will remain the same but it will hopefully flow a bit better.

Also… I will be redoing all of the covers as well as the cover for Darlene Bobich: Zombie Killer. it will all flow together and, at the end of the series (whenever that may be) putting the covers side by side will hopefully tell a story.

The print books will go from trade paperback 6″x9″ to a more manageable 5″x8″ size, which has a much better look to me and looks like an actual professional book. Again, new covers that will tell a story.

I even have a live model who looks like the Darlene in my head and hopefully in your mind, and she’ll star on each cover as they are released. In early 2016 the first new cover will be unleashed and I’m very excited to be updating this project and eventually getting all of the new covers in the series out to fans old and new.

Armand

ArmandDrawing

*   *   *   *   *

The stench of frozen flesh is in the air! Welcome to the Winter of Zombie Blog Tour 2015, with 40+ of the best zombie authors spreading the disease in the month of November.

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!

#WinterofZombie is the hashtag for Twitter, too!