Shawn Chesser – Summer of Zombie Box Set

Shawn Chesser Interview

Life With Words

Summer of Zombie Box Set

What is the Summer of Zombie Box Set?

What authors and books are included?

Meet one of the authors and hear a tidbit about his book below:

Name: Shawn Chesser

Shawn Chesser

What is the title of your book that’s included in the Summer of Zombie Box Set? TRUDGE: Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse

Trudge: Survive the Zombie Apocalypse by Shawn Chesser

Who is your favorite character in that book? I’d have to say Vietnam war veteran Duncan Winters is my favorite character. His sharp wit and inability to apply a filter between his brain and mouth make him a joy to write.

Are there any “author secrets” in your title (things you included or ideas you had that aren’t shared with readers in the title)? Definitely … contrary to my series’ name, not everyone survives the zombie apocalypse. 🙂

Is your book part of a series (if so, what are the other titles in the series we should be looking…

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Jay Wilburn – Summer of Zombie Box Set

#SummerofZombie Jay Wilburn Interview

Life With Words

Summer of Zombie Box Set

What is the Summer of Zombie Box Set?

What authors and books are included?

Meet one of the authors and hear a tidbit about his book below:

Name: Jay Wilburn

Author Jay Wilburn

What is the title of your book that’s included in the Summer of Zombie Box Set? Loose Ends: A Zombie Novel

Loose Ends: A Zombie Novel by Jay Wilburn

Who is your favorite character in that book? Doc, the cook with the darkest past.

Are there any “author secrets” in your title (things you included or ideas you had that aren’t shared with readers in the title)? The novel focuses on the characters finding unfinished business from their pasts still hiding among the ruins and the dead.

Tell us something about your book that will make us want to read it: The narrator is a mute boy that follows and participates in the action without interjecting himself over the other characters.

Is your book part of a series…

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Guest Post: Jay Wilburn #SummerofZombie

Summer of Zombie 2015

“LGBT and Zombie Stories”

by Jay Wilburn

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If you listen to certain opponents of equality in terms of gay rights, the apocalypse is on the way due to the advances of the LGBT community. I disagree, of course, and that is not what this post is about. In science fiction fandom circles due to dust ups around the Hugo awards and the personal politics of certain writers, the conservative and progressive leanings of various authors, stories, and genre writing in general have been brought into question. That’s not really what this post is about either.

Zombie stories cover what happens to the world after the structures of the modern world are suddenly and violently stripped away. They follow the survivors after the rest of the population is transformed into monsters. These survivors cover a cross section of the population and typically involves throwing together survivors from differing backgrounds that are often in opposition to one another. This includes different races, faiths, socio-economic backgrounds, skill levels, political leanings, and levels of personal character and morality. This should naturally and logically include LGBT characters as well.

There are some notable, but isolated examples of gay characters in zombie fiction. Brian Keene uses a gay male protagonist in Dead Sea. There is a scene where this issue is discussed quite directly during that novel. It errs on the side of preachy, I think, but Keene is a skillful writer and the book stands as a great, zombie story. He uses many characters from across the spectrum of demographics including other gay characters in his other works.

Robert Kirkman uses a gay male couple in a notable role in the later editions of The Walking Dead comics. In the comic version, there is also a gay relationship portrayed during the prison stretch of the story which is not included in the television show’s prison seasons. The television show included a prominent lesbian character with little reaction from the audience. When the gay male relationship was introduced in the series, there was a little bit of a negative reaction on social media that did not last long.

It is telling though. Despite a wide range of gay characters portrayed positively in dramas and comedies over many decades on television, there is still a reaction with some people. Female homosexuality in everything from mainstream porn to zombie fiction is more readily accepted than portrayals of male homosexuality. When the gay male sexuality is shown through acts of affection from touching to kissing to whatever, it is viewed as threatening to some people in a way that lesbianism is not. Silly straight males!

When I sent out my novel Dead Song Book 1: January from Milwaukee to Muscle Shoals, I had two beta readers that gave notes about the gay characters making them nervous. Something about having two gay males in a scene together made them afraid that “gay stuff” was going to happen. Their reactions are disappointing to me still, but it illustrated the importance of those characters being in a story. One gay male in a story they could look at as a token nod to diversity, but two gay males in a story is a threat. Maybe I can invent the “Wilburn Test” wherein a story passes the Wilburn Test when two gay characters are in a scene together without having sex … until later.

This speaks to a need to include the range of humanity in a way that tells our broad story as people. It can have a direct message or an implied one. The very inclusion of people from a broad range of demographics in a story sends a message. Whether that message is sent well or clumsily is the responsibility of the writer. Whether that story is worth reading or not is on the shoulders of the writer too.

Equality issues are on the forefront of American culture and media at the moment. These issues, of course, extend globally to countries that have moved to inclusive laws more quickly than the United States and to countries where being gay or being the wrong religion have the same deadly potential. It is a wonder to me that this fact does not draw people together more than it does, but humans are a bundle of contradictions. This is what makes life hard and fiction interesting.

One book I’ve read recently is My Razzle Dazzle: An Outsider’s True Story by Todd Peterson. It is a novelized biography and not genre, but it drove home to me how deeply intertwined the story of growing up gay in America is to the American story broadly. The struggles of gay Americans in youth through adulthood from finding identity, dealing with bullying, reacting to institutions that are closed to them or only partially opened, coming to terms with family, finding friends, and discovering destiny are all relevant ideas to all readers. These are stories that are heartwarming and heartrending. It is a portion of the American experience that has not been fully told and has not been fully heard by people outside of the immediate circles of experience. Including gay characters in any story isn’t just about meeting a quota or getting diversity points nor passing the all important Wilburn Test. It is seeking out the story that hasn’t been told yet and telling it well. Whether a writer is gay or not, the experiences of gay characters have a wide potential of telling what has not been told in stories before.

Every character and real human is made up of a wide range of aspects that form identity. Orientation is one. How they approach faith is another. Their general demographics, culture, and background represents others. Their family history shapes them. There are a wide range of other details that define a person. In some ways, a character being gay is just a fact in the way that characters being straight, or Lutheran, or Green Party, or from a family of six brothers, but single does not directly feed into the details of how they kill a zombie. Although, it might. In another way, just stating a character is gay, having them kiss someone of the same gender, and behave identical to how you would write them straight is a disservice to readers too.

Having the fact that a character is gay be their only defining characteristic is insulting to the orientation and the readers. Avoiding an exploration of that aspect of their orientation is a wasted opportunity of storytelling too. There is a unique experience in terms of dealing self-discovery, family interactions, second family in finding support after adolescence, and the experience of society that has great potential to flesh out a meaningful character that is different and yet universally relatable in the story. This matters for storytelling and it matters for the progress of the world in which we live.

Those that feel threatened by gay issues being in their face in media and society are missing an important point – probably many important points. LGBT characters being represented in zombie fiction in the same way that all humanity is meant to be represented is important to the depth of the story and to the experience of the readers. Marriage Equality struggles echo other civil rights issues from America’s history. The new conflicts are a familiar part of an ongoing American story. Zombie stories may seem like an odd or unimportant place to address this, but zombie stories have great untapped potential and all stories are written to tell something.

In The Dead Song Legend Dodecology, two of the main characters are gay. The story rests on their shoulders and we experience the unique world of the apocalyptic American landscape through their travels and growth. The story is also told through the music of unlikely survivors thrust together by the rough hands and rough times of the end of the world. Music changes and so do the people. In writing my characters with normal, human flaws in an extraordinary world, I took it as an important responsibility to represent the gay characters as realistically as I could. I wanted them to be multi-dimensional characters worthy of carrying a twelve book series. They are my two most important characters and they have a lot of story to tell for themselves as individuals and the entire Dead Song America that they will explore on foot and through music for as long as they are able to survive.

I think zombie writers need to take on the challenge of writing LGBT characters well in a world that includes all of humanity fighting to survive.

Check out the first book in the Dead Song dodecology and the soundtrack The Sound May Suffer for the story told through words, pictures, and music.

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

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.

Dead song book 1 CD Cover Idea-001

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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: Eli Constant and B.V. Barr #SummerofZombie

The Potentially Lucrative Nature of the Well-trained Dog in Apocalyptic Scenarios

(OR- Sic Fido on the zombies!)


Author Pic

A lot of us have pets. We absolutely adore our Snuggles, our Milly-bird, our Judge the 3rd, and our Patches, the nearly wild, calico cat who often lurks in the shadows hunting the elusive vole. Animals are lovely family members and I can’t remember a time when I haven’t shared my home with a pet of some type. Those who are pet people understand how a furry baby can truly become like a child. We love them, we support them, and… we plan for them. Whether it is the matter of yearly vaccinations, well-researched boarding facilities, or the unpredictable ‘what-ifs’ of life, we plan for them. Because they’re important.

But my question is, now that I’ve spent one third of my life caring and enjoying the company of pets, what pet out there would be an asset rather than a liability during a dangerous, life-threatening scenario? Obviously it is man’s (or woman’s) best friend the dog; I mean, dogs are loyal, loving, and they’re good at protecting their families.  Of course, the communicable nature of a Z infection to nonhuman animals is impossible to predict (seeing as we haven’t yet been plunged into a Z-poc) and a Z-poc could very well begin with some Zoonotic illness (a special class of dog-to-human communicable diseases) given to us from our friendly, neighborhood stray (mutated Rabies, anyone?). But for the purposes of this paper, let’s rule out Zombies by Zoonotic Illness and we just won’t worry about our furry buddies contracting the Z virus. So, it’s really not ridiculous to believe that, sometimes, a well-trained dog might just be the answer to your survival.

As Marilyn Monroe said “Dogs never bite me. Just Humans.” 

Trust your four-legged friend!

Personally, I gravitate toward giant breed dogs. My family had a large black Dane named Hannibal when I was quite young, he was protective and intense-looking. Then my husband and I fostered a duo of Danes- Blu and Izzy. They were also large and intense-looking, but they were the biggest, most useless (and loving) babies on the planet. And the thing about Danes is they’ve been overbreed to the point that congenital defects often prevent them from experiencing the full length of, their already short, life span. This is quite prevalent in many large breed dogs. Our Saint Bernard, the most lovely creature on the planet, developed aggressive lymphoma at four years old and died shortly thereafter. Bernards were working-class dogs once upon a time, scaling mountains and putting in an honest day’s work. Great animals, but where during the big Z disaster are you going to find a vet to address the many issues that this breed can experience? Overbreeding. Another issue with large breed dogs? -Their nutritional needs. A giant or large breed eats WAY more than a smaller breed dog. That’s just a fact. You’re more likely to support the needs of a 10 pound furball than a 150 pound beast. However a ten pound Pug, cute as he might be, is more like luggage than a helpful co-pilot, so a middle of the road has to be found between the giant dogs I adore and the tiny teacup classes that are all but useless- unless zombies can die from ankle biting, that is.

While writing our book, Z Children: Awakening, my coauthor and I talked extensively about animals at the end of the world- dogs specifically. We spoke of how they’d be everywhere, running amok, forgotten by owners, etc. And then we spoke of how the correct breed of dog, well-trained and attached to a person or family, could contribute to survival.

My coauthor, with his extensive experience in the Military/Government and training with Special Operations personnel, has been privy to the training of service dogs- specifically German Shepherds (used almost exclusively in the beginning) and now, Belgian Malinois, which are used commonly for their compact size- an advantage over their brethren the Shepard. Size is so important because these dogs are trained to jump into combat with their handlers, get in and out of combat vehicles, and live out of their handler’s pack. The smaller the dog, the easier the transport, maintain and move with  and the trade-off from Shepherd to Malinois presents very little difference in capability and size. Both are highly trainable, highly response to commands, and highly efficient in a fight.

A Belgian Malinois grows anywhere from 56 to 70 cm and 25-34 kg (the females being slighter with a narrower, more feminine build). Sure, you could find a smaller dog that eats less and is trainable, but Malinois and Shepherds (as written above) have been proven, field tested and are reliable (and honestly, they’re food consumption would be manageable and they’re intelligent enough to forage when necessary). Many breeds in the herding family share qualities with the Malinoi/Shepherds, but, in my opinion, if you’re choosing a reliable gun, you go with something that has been trusted and proven in the field- like B.V. Barr talks about in his paper on gear during the apocalypse. If I have to trust my life to an animal- I’m going to go for the dog that the military and service branches trust without reservation.

So, how will having a well-trained dog better your chances of survival? Let’s step through this logically:

Animals, on the whole, sense things differently than we do. If you have a dog in your family, I bet you’ve seen his or hers hair stand on end, jump to attention on the back of their necks. This is a warning system- something is nearby that your dog doesn’t care for. You’d be wise to heed that warning. The worse mistake a handler or owner of a working dog can make is to think they are smarter than their animal. Listen to your friend! On the matter of sensing things- dogs have been used for many, many years for search and rescue. More than likely, you’ll stumble upon more than one person who needs a helping hand (if you’re willing to provide that helping hand and have not taken on an ‘every man for himself’ mentality).

The right dog breed, trained and attached to a person or family, will have one, and only one, instinct when they’re person (or family) faces danger (not to say that there aren’t dogs who are just inherently scaredy-cats). They will go on the defensive, putting their bodies between owner/handler and the threat. They very well might be the thing that stops a zombie from advancing, keeping that threat from getting close enough to you to warrant a resort to close-combat weapons- especially when you need to be quiet and a gun is an impractical and possibly dangerous choice. Close combat increases risks, especially for those untested.

A dog will also- and not to sound silly- provide companionship, emotionally and physically. At the end of the world, maybe that end coming in the form of a zombie apocalypse, sometimes people will find themselves isolated from loved ones and unable to maintain social contact. Isolation can wreak havoc on a person’s psyche, especially a person who has not gone through training to combat the effects of isolation. If your emotional climate is compromised, your ability to recognize and respond to danger will also be compromised.

With how important we feel a dog could be during a crisis, it makes sense that my coauthor and I designed a dog and a handler to fit into the storyline.

Ranger, a Belgian Malinois of course, will become a very central character in the Z Children world. His relationship with the Drifter (JW) is symbiotic; they feed off of one another intuitively, to the point where commands are unnecessary to direct Ranger to do what he’s trained to do, what is necessary. The Drifter, for his part, thinks of Ranger as a part of himself. They’re both scarred physically from an IED, both medically discharged from service, and, in many ways, Ranger is the reason why the Drifter can keep his PTSD in check- well, Ranger & a dose of Ativan here and there.

So, next time you find yourself on the fence about adopting that Shepherd mutt, that Malonois mix, or maybe even that loyal, tough Rottie at the back of the pound, think about how that animal can help you when shit hits the fan- after you’ve helped him or her secure a loving, forever home with lots of motivational treats for training.

Z Children 1 Cover eBook

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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: Leah Rhyne #SummerofZombie

Jennas War 333x500

Zombies. We’re here because we love them, right? You wouldn’t check out an event called the Summer of Zombie Blog Tour if you weren’t.

Me? I’ve loved them for a long time. I don’t remember the first time I saw Night of the Living Dead, but I don’t remember ever having not seen it, either. I grew up on horror movies, staying up late with my dad or my older brother, so I’ve seen ‘em all (or at least I’ve seen all the ones that came out before I had my daughter and suddenly couldn’t stomach watching horror movies in which bad things happen to little girls…which is pretty much all the contemporary ones…though I’ll watch World War Z any day…though the first 30 minutes make me cry every time….and I do mean every time…but I digress….).

But seriously. World War Z. The Walking Dead. Warm Bodies. Zombieland. We can’t get enough of zombie stuff, can we?

There are all sorts of theories about why we love zombies, of course. Sociologists and psychologists all have their theories, as do movie and literary critics. They mostly say it’s because we’re all becoming zombies, with our smart phones and our ear buds. With our texting and our emailing. We’re losing the ability to interact with other humans on a face-to-face basis.

There’s some truth to this, I’m sure. I do see a lot of it in myself. I’m a better emailer than I am a phone talker, and please, don’t ask me to set up a face-to-face meeting!

But mostly I call bullshit on those theories.

Because of course I have my own.

I think: we don’t love zombie flicks and lit because we’re afraid we’re turning into zombies. No. I think we love them because we, in the United States especially, are living in a world that’s remarkably safe for maybe the first time in history, and really? It’s exhausting to be so safe.

Hear me out here. Around the world, people live in squalor, in the midst of wars and tragedies and genocides. We see images daily of people living at the very limits of human existence. Closer to home, we hear stories of our parents and grandparents surviving their own difficult times. World War II. Vietnam. The Cuban Missile Crisis.

But we, of the middle class of the United States in the 21st Century, live in the First World, surrounded by First World problems. With a few notable exceptions (school shootings, bombings, and terrible things do happen, but these are the exceptions, not the norm), our world is secure. We’re not hungry. We’re not afraid. We’re not tested.

We don’t have to think to survive. We don’t have to kill to live. If we’re hungry? We drive to the grocery store.

In short, we’re mush.

And, I think, we secretly hate it. At least in a way. Because while it’s fantastic to be safe, to be secure, we have no need for adrenaline. We have no testing of boundaries, no pushing of limits.

And thus, we escape to Zombieland. We escape to a place where people have to work to survive, where it’s kill or be killed. We are voyeurs into a space where your every decision could lead straight to your death.

We get our adrenaline rush through fiction, and we love it, because it’s fake. It’s still within the confines of our security. It’s a way to live out our fantasies in the safety of our middle class living rooms.

Of course we love zombies, but it’s not because we’re afraid of becoming them.

It’s because we want to see if we think we’d survive!

Me? I like to think I’d be like Ana in Dawn of the Dead (still my favorite zombie flick ever). I’d survive, more by luck than by any particular skill, at least until I had time to figure out the brave new world.

But really, that doesn’t work for me anymore. I’ve got a kid. Everything I’d do would be to save her, because at seven, she’s still too little to save herself. I don’t want her turning into Sophia from The Walking Dead, getting stuffed into a barn after she’s turned into a zombie. I also can’t see her as Lizzie, murdering her sister and then staring at the flowers.

Better she be a Carl, a killer with a gun.

Better to be a killer in a kill-or-be-killed world, right?

Right. Or at least, I think so. And I do think about these things while escaping into zombie worlds. I get to think about them, to wonder, and then I get to turn them off and go play outside in the sunshine.

We love our zombies because it’s fun to imagine…what if?

But seriously, friends. Let’s hope we never have to find out….and until then, let’s have some keep on reading and watching all this awesome zombie stuff, okay?

Author Image Leah Rhyne

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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: Jolie Du Pre #SummerofZombie

Welcome To Our Zombie Hospital


The zombie apocalypse is upon us, spreading its ugly wings all over our beautiful planet and making the few humans left hide as deep as they can. The biggest problem is that more and more humans get bitten and infected with the nasty zombie virus, thus increasing the number of zombies.

Luckily, there’s still hope for the infected. The zombie hospital is the place where all the effects can be reversed so that these individuals regain their human status.

Once you get admitted into the hospital, you won’t see the daylight again until you get cured. The treatment consists of a series of prolonged UV exposure sessions. UV rays have the power of weakening the zombie virus, leaving it powerless, ready to get killed. This happens in the second stage of the treatment. Unfortunately, some patients are too weak to resist the first stage, which is quite aggressive. It is similar to what chemotherapy does to the human body while also killing the cancerous cells.

UV exposure makes the patients very vulnerable. This is why the second stage of the treatment takes place in an isolated aisle of the zombie hospital, where only a handful of doctors and medical nurses have access. Patients are put in metal containers, which are then exposed to extremely powerful magnetic fields, generated with the help of huge electromagnets. The polarity of the magnets is reversed every two minutes, the result being a Brownian movement of all cells in the body. This stage of the treatment takes several hours. When it is over, the patient is returned to the human condition.

However, the convalescence is a critical phase. Patients need to receive proper nutrition and human love. Otherwise, they pass away. Those who can afford to pay the hospital fees during their convalescence have more chances to be saved than those who are forced to return to the streets. However, they can only die, they are never going to turn into zombies again if bitten or infected with the zombie virus.

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Jolie du Pre is a dystopian author, paranormal romance author, article writer, blogger and lover of monsters, especially zombies.  The third book in her zombie series, Benton: A Zombie Novel, Vol. 3, is available now at Amazon.


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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!