Scary how often this happens these days.
Source: Two big asteroids to pass safely
Scary how often this happens these days.
Source: Two big asteroids to pass safely
Your astronomy lesson for the day!
A little over a year ago I released Zombie Girl, a short story in the Once Upon a Zombietale Anthology. You can still buy the anthology and read the original story as well as all the other fabulous zombietales in the book.
Maddie’s parents flip when they find out she’s failing science. That’s her worst problem until she wakes up and finds they’re zombies. Now she must escape them and her house. With nowhere else to go, and the keys to her parents’ sailboat, she makes her getaway. Finding Bryce was a fortunate circumstance and the two take on zombies and set sail for parts unknown.
Annoyed and scared, I cranked the motor and pressed the gas
pedal to the floor. The car plowed forward, hitting the lead zombie. It
thumped, flew, and slid beneath the car. More zombies hit the car; body parts and blood covered the windshield.
I fumbled with the dash, depressing buttons, looking for the wipers. Once I found them and turned them on, they swiped away the blood, leaving streaks on the windshield. Stuck in the pasty, bloodied streaks were little black dots. I looked closer, squinting my eyes. They were lovebugs; horrible little insects rumored to be created in a lab at the University of Florida to control the mosquito population in the state. Twice a year, spring and fall, they marred every vehicle on the road and were a complete nuisance.
I was thinking science again! And the thoughts kept coming. The heart pumps blood throughout the body. Did the zombies’ hearts still work? Did I kill them?
Slamming on the brakes, I wanted to know. I turned the car around, hitting the side of a truck’s bumper as I did. I drove by slowly. The body parts were still moving, and a couple whole zombies struggled to get to their feet. So how do I kill them?
With the car running, I considered my options and owned up to my morbid curiosity about them. I rifled through the contents of my mom’s car. No weapons. Disappointed, but not stupid, I turned and ran over the zombies struggling to get up and turned around again, the car thumping over
their wriggling bodies and crunching away at their bones. I got back onto I-95 and headed towards the Marina.
Bryce and my father were in trouble. I had to do something, so I grabbed the gun, twisted in my seat, and brought it to my face. I’d never shot a gun other than in video games, but I’d seen tons of movies. It couldn’t be that difficult. I clicked the lever thing on the topside of the gun. I knew that was the safety.
“Maddie, your father can handle him” she said, her voice quaking. I imagined her wringing her hands together like a dishrag.
From the corner of my eye, I watched Sarah lift her eyes off the cat and stare towards me. I met her gaze and she nodded her approval then mouthed, Be careful.
The men drew closer to the boat with each second I wasted. I pushed the door open, snuck around the side and observed my surroundings. I felt like a hunter in the wild carrying the big shotgun, but acted more like a detective on a cheesy cop show. As I moved around the van, I spotted a crate identical to the one where I found Bryce in my… our dream.
I scurried towards it, doing my best to step over and around the large puddles so as not to make splashing noises that would catch the creepy bald man’s attention. Upon reaching it, I crouched. Placing my back against the wet wooden side, I slid around it and onto my knees and peeked out.
Bryce and my father stepped onto the boat, I used the man’s shining head as a guiding light. He was still behind them. Taking a deep breath, I moved back around the side and out of their view. The nose of the shotgun rose over the top as I held it straight and fired. Its recoil hit my upper thigh and I screamed as I doubled over, the gun hitting the ground. My leg throbbed and I knew I’d have a nasty bruise.
Both stories end with a tad of a cliffhanger.
I’m not a big zombie fan in that I’ve never been drawn to shows like “The Walking Dead” and so forth. I’m prone to look upon zombies and vampires as analogies. To me, zombies represent those around us who simply go from day to day in a daze, missing what’s really going on around them, lacking joy and enthusiasm, and trashing those around them who have a life. Vampires are even more obvious, being the bloodsuckers that expect others to take care of them emotionally or financially. Since I’m not amused or entertained by such individuals, I’m likewise not usually attracted to such stories.
However, as a writer myself I enjoy a well-crafted story, regardless of genre. I especially enjoy award winning author, Elle Klass’, tales because they’re populated with well-developed, intelligent, gutsy, and engaging characters while her plots are original and full of surprises. Thus, for her books I’ll always make an exception. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed her “Bloodseeker” stories and now Zombie Girl because they’re well-written with lots of action involving memorable, believable characters as well as surprising and often intricate plot twists. A dose of Elle’s creative genius is the ultimate prescription to escape the figurative zombies and vampires in your own life.
I recently finished “Premonition” where the heroine, Maddie, is in trouble with her parents because she’s flunking science. Pressured to improve her grade, she reluctantly agrees to study more diligently. That night she experiences a vivid dream in which her parents have turned into zombies, so she flees her home. She meets a boy named Bryce, the two of them battling zombies, trying to survive. When she wakes up to a normal Saturday morning, she realizes it was only a dream, yet remains troubled. Not only was the dream itself far too real, a physical object Bryce gave her in the dream is still in her possession.
Huh? How could it be?
This physical evidence tells her for certain it was more than a dream–it was a warning. Nonetheless, months pass, and everything seems normal. Until another vestige from the dream becomes reality.
Elle knows how to build nail-biting suspense and “Premonition” is no exception. The story is relatively short, but sets the stage for what you know is going to be an exciting adventure with a generous sprinkling of dark humor. Fortunately, the sequel, “Infection,” is coming soon. Preorder now so you don’t miss it when it comes out in July!
Pick up your copy of “Premonition” here.
Preorder “Infection” here.
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Meet Kirsten Streicher, kick-ass heroine of The Blight, another nail-biter, suspense thriller by John Reinhard Dizon. First, a little about Kirsten and her story:
Kirsten Streicher is an Iraq War veteran assigned to the Supercop Unit in St. Louis. The elite unit has been successful in combating the Blight, a plague of poverty-driven crime that is overwhelming the city. Only a genocidal sociopath has declared his own war against the Blight and is conducting a campaign to eradicate the undesirable elements within the community. The death of one of her partners and the suspension of another portend the breakup of the team. Kirsten is forced to deal with a major change in her career path once the man called X is brought to justice. She is also involved in a romance with a UMKC professor, Kurt Franz. He takes her to a new reality amidst the protests of Brad, who is still hunting the killer despite his suspension. Brad reveals his love for her and places her in the middle of a love triangle. Making matters worse is evidence indicating that X is focusing on Kirsten, which makes her a potential target.
MF: Welcome, Kirsten. It’s a pleasure to have you here today.
KS: I’d just like to thank the interviewer for being so patient in allowing me to put my thoughts together. This has been a harrowing and traumatic time in my life. I’m finally able to articulate my feelings and my reflections, and I hope they might inspire young people out there trying to make the world a better place.
MF: I understand. The aftermath of such a time is often the most difficult, and you’ve had several such experiences in your life. Looking back to those that made you who you are, did any particular experience you had while serving in the Middle East have a life-defining effect?
KS: It had to be in Afghanistan when we took out that insurgent Taliban unit in preventing an ambush of American soldiers. We found out they were just high school kids who had been brainwashed into fighting for someone else’s cause. During the Blight, I saw the same thing in the teens who were recruited by drug gangs to advance the ulterior motives of others. Kids are so idealistic and easily influenced. Society has a tremendous obligation to raise our children in a moral and principled world.
MF: That is so true. Kids are always going to reflect their environment and how they’re raised. When parents fail, often law enforcement is forced to fill the gap. As such, what do you find the most satisfying part of being a cop?
KS: The chance to make a difference in society and defend the oppressed and underprivileged. It was the same thing we tried to do in the Middle East. We tried to do it here but we never dreamed we’d be dealing with the same kind of evil. At least we had the battle experience, and I hope that other veterans will be able to use their skills and knowledge to change things here at home.
MF: It’s so sad that our veterans come home to that, but it’s true they can definitely make a difference here as well. Nothing is simple these days. Do you see crime in terms of black and white or are there shades of grey?
KS: That is such a hard question. Good is good and evil is evil, that’s your black and white. Only the effect it has on others is where your shades of grey come in. It’s so hard to deal with victims of crime, especially in gang-controlled neighborhoods where they live. The Blight nearly immersed the city of St. Louis in the darkness. It was a miracle that we were able to help its citizens find their way back to the light.
MF: Yes, it truly was. And it certainly wasn’t easy. If you were “Queen of the World” for a day, what would you change?
KS: I would eradicate drug trafficking by any means necessary. It is what empowers drug gangs, poisons its victims and destroys communities. Cut off the supply, put dealers away for good and do everything possible to rehabilitate dependents. It is the singlemost terrible problem the people of the world are dealing with.
MF: I couldn’t agree more. What was the happiest moment of your life? The saddest?
KS: Waking up Christmas morning to find goodbye letters from the two most important people in my life. It created a void in my heart, in my existence, that I may never refill. I can’t even remember a happy time. I think readers of my story will fully understand why.
MF: I hope with time that some level of happiness and satisfaction will come your way as you recognize how many lives you have changed in a positive way. They say what doesn’t kill us outright only makes us stronger. In that context, what did you learn from your experience with “The Blight”?
KS: Well, let me take back that last statement. Seeing the people of St. Louis unite to keep the murderers from destroying Christmas was the most wonderful thing I ever saw. Black and white, rich and poor, Christian and Muslim, it didn’t matter who they were. We all became neighbors, we shared and shared alike. The citizens of our city decided they had enough of the Blight and made it go away. Americans have that in common, we stand together in times of trouble. It makes me so proud to be an American and a Missourian. I hope my story helps other people feel that way.
MF: Thank you so much for being with us today, Kirsten. The world needs more people like you in this crazy world we’re living in. I wish you all the best and that you’ll be blessed for all the good you’ve done.
Be sure to pick up a copy of The Blight so you can put Kirsten’s comments and insights into context. You can grab your copy from Amazon here.
Stock Photo copyright 123RF
eric1513/123RF Stock Photo
This well-written second volume of the YA Ripmender series provides an emotional rollercoaster ride as the saga continues of ordinary, somewhat plain Cathy Slater in what’s likely to be a dead-end relationship with rock star, Nathan Jake. As established in “The Ripmender”, Nathan Jake is a genetically engineered human whose purpose is to protect the Earth from hostile alien invasion through rips in the space-time continuum. As such, he’s been provided abilities that are marginally in the super-power range and further magnified by a super-charged cell phone, yet he’s emotionally impaired in that he can never fall in love.
Nonetheless, he sees Cathy as his best friend and insists on her companionship. Cathy is privy to Ripmender secrets humans aren’t supposed to know, but has earned immunity to having those memories erased. This brings various awkward moments with her friends, who are all great supporting characters who add a touch of normalcy to Cathy’s crazy world. These are all developed in the first book, which I recommend reading prior to this one for full context to this story and characters.
The pace, like the first book in the series, reminds me of a (mild) PG-13 version of something you might see on the Disney Channel or Nickelodeon. It keeps moving, the dialog lively and convincing, as this saga plunges forward. The plot thickens and the Ripmender culture grows more complex with other genetically engineered groups introduced such as Fembers and Carers. As assumed from the previous story, Victor is up to no good, and Hudson’s role is expanded as well. Various internal rivalries are explained, Nathan and Cathy often caught in the middle. Some questions carried over from the first volume are answered, new ones introduced.
I found this story leaning more toward contemporary fantasy than the sci-fi flavor of the first book, but that isn’t a criticism, just an observation. The suspense is well-sustained with numerous plot twists that are unexpected, sometimes jaw-dropping, which I won’t go into since they’re well into spoiler territory. The ending is satisfying, yet leaves you sufficiently curious regarding what the next episode will provide while dragging poor Cathy along for another wild ride.
I love the characters in this story, especially the heroine, Cathy. She’s been through an emotional wringer courtesy of various traumatic experiences, yet hangs on and confronts the challenges before her. This is an enjoyable and suspenseful Young Adult series that provides plenty of action while accurately reflects the feelings and challenges confronted during those college years and beyond. It provides a great escape while sustaining credibility that such a world could exist just beyond human perception.
I was provided a complementary copy in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.
You can pick up your copy on Amazon here.