Thursday, September 4, 2014

Hacked


I understand that having your most intimate moments passed around the internet must be a horrifically upsetting situation, and I feel for Jennifer Lawrence, Kirsten Dunst, pop star Ariana Grande, and the others, but there is no one to blame but themselves. There is one basic rule of the world wide web regarding privacy, and it has existed, without change, since Al Gore invented the internet. It’s the rule I teach my children and it’s the rule that if Ms. Lawrence, Dunst, and Grande would have taken to heart they would not be experiencing their current embarrassment. Simply put it is this: Unless you are 100% comfortable with the idea that whatever you are about to upload to the internet (picture, video, comment, email, post, status update, etc…) will be available to everyone on the planet, forever – if that idea makes you hesitate, even for a moment, then don’t do it. It’s that simple. And if there was a second rule to internet privacy, it would just read: See rule number one.

It’s unfortunate that iPhone and internet users believe that they are entitled to some form of privacy on the internet. Most of the terms of service agreements that we all agree to without reading, basically confirm the opposite. Although entities like Apple state that privacy is a top concern, they make no guarantees and claim no responsibility when your intimate photos end up on TMZ. 

But many still insist that privacy laws are on their side and are entitled to privacy on the internet. And that argument would really mean something, if the internet was governed by a united front of globally agreed upon regulation and enforcement. But since that is not our reality, the internet will continue to be the wild wild west, the kind of place in which privacy laws have all the enforcement power of well meaning suggestions.
Every internet gunslinger riding on the world wide web today needs to employ something already at their disposal before pressing that send button – Common Sense.  See rule Number one.

What are your thoughts? Do you think you are entitled to some form of privacy on the Internet, and if so, why? 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

ZomBEEs on Hold!


Due to interesting and unexpected news the release of Night of the ZomBEEs - a zombie novel with BUZZ! has been put on hold. Nothing has gone wrong, in fact this is good news, which may turn into fantastic news.

BUZZ, BUZZ...
I think one of my favorite things about life on this planet (just below ice cream) is that you really never know with absolute certainty what tomorrow will bring.

I will post updates as they come in. 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Katniss Everdeen Must Pee!



I mean, don’t you think?
But no. Two, three weeks in the woods, and not once did she pee.

If you don’t know who Katniss Everdeen is, where have you been, and what have you been doing with your life? No shame in it though. Ms. Everdeen is the heroin of the Hunger Games trilogy, YA novels that center on a violent blood sport in which children are forced to murder one another for the entertainment of a futuristic dystopian society. If you can get past the kid-on-kid violence and the fact that the novel’s main idea was surreptitiously borrowed from the Japanese novel Battle Royal and or its film adaptation, then it’s a pretty entertaining read.

My daughter started the books this summer and I though I’d tag along for the ride. We are both enjoying the novels, but one thing really bugged me. No one ever has to pee. Going to the bathroom is never all that relevant to a story, so I understand why us writers tend to give it a pass in our pros, but our heroin, Katniss Everdeen, is in a life and death struggle, not only against her fellow competitors but the elements of the great outdoors as well. Food, water, shelter, all the basics a human needs to stay alive are given great time and detail as Katniss hunts, gathers, cooks, and eats her way through the forest - almost as much detail as when Hemingway chronicled Nick Adam’s fishing trip. (Big Two-Hearted River)  But what we never see, although I’m sure it happens, is Katniss answering nature’s call. Why is this important, you ask? Because, so much of Katniss’s strategy involves staying out of sight, hiding, always being alert and never getting caught in a vulnerable position. Other than being caught asleep, can you think of a more vulnerable time then when you’re crouched behind a rock with your pants around your ankles pushing out some business?  I can’t, and as I read I kept wondering how this dilemma would be dealt with. It never was. Just to make sure I’m not crazy I asked my daughter if she had the same thoughts while reading. She did. So we are either both crazy or…people in the future no longer have to pee. I did enjoy the novel and am looking forward to reading about Katniss Neverpeein’s next adventure in The Hunger Games: Breaking Wind.
 

That being said, I promises that in my new novel, Night of the ZomBEEs – available July 15th, there will be peeing. Not a lot, just the right amount I think. On page 70 Sam Campbell, tomboy and self proclaimed daredevil, stomps off to pee. The book is not really about peeing…here read the promo copy.  

It’s Founders Day in Honeywell Springs, a day residents dress up in black-and-yellow costumes to celebrate the insect that gave the town its prosperity, the Honey Bee. But when a mad scientist releases a contagious swarm of mutant bees, it turns the townsfolk of Honeywell Springs into the walking dead, in bee costumes.

It’s thirteen-year-old Shaun Ripley’s worst nightmare. Plagued with apiphobia, asthma, and panic attacks, Shaun must draw on his knowledge of his hero, James Bond, to stay alive. With his best friend, Toby, a fellow 007 enthusiast, and Sam, a bullying tomboy, Shaun must overcome his bee phobia and find a way to escape Honeywell Springs. Terrified, surrounded, and running out of time, the three must work together if they are to survive the Night of the ZomBEEs!

More on this as the release date approaches. In the meantime, May the Buzz be with you.

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The concept of The Hunger Games, much like the novel and film it was borrowed from, Battle Royal, is hard to swallow. It centers on a violent blood sport in which children are forced to murder one another for the entertainment of a futuristic dystopian society. I can say as a parent that no way in hell would I allow this, oppressive government or not. Unless my kid had a really, really really good chance of wining, but other than that, no way. But if you can overlook the kid-on-kid violence then its a fast and fun read. Sad, moving, often thrilling, The Hunger Games is worth your time. One thing did bug me as I read. Our heroin, Katniss Everdeen, is out in the woods for 2 or 3 weeks and not once does she have to pee. Oh well, I look forward to the next adventure of Katniss Neverpeein' in The Hunger Games: Breaking Wind. 


Monday, June 2, 2014

Night of the ZomBEEs

Night of the ZomBEEs - New novel coming out this month and its about time. I finished the first draft in 2011, just a few months after Night of the Living Trekkies was released. After a half dozen drafts later, handling by several agents and publishers, it will finally see the light of day this month on Amazon. More on this as the date approaches.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This has been on my to read list for more than 20 years. I'm a big fan of the first film based on this novel (The Haunting 1963) and now I'm a fan of the book. Jackson's story about an unsettling house and the four people that spend a week within its walls is a character driven slow burn that by today's high gore standards might not make an impression. But I can imagine that 60 years ago it was extremely terrifying. And I think every haunted house story that has come after has been inspired by The Haunting of Hill House. 


My rating: 4 of 5 stars
As you may have heard, this is a follow up to The Shinning, one of King's best, if not the best, novels. It isn't the follow up I wanted, but when I got past that, King delivers a terrifying story with a repulsive new monster - part vampire, part succubus, and all evil.  


My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I'm a Trekkie first, but I am also a Star Wars fanboy, so this was a must read for me. Zombies in the Star Wars universe, why the hell not? Bit of a slow start as characters are developed, and I can see how zombie fans might be put off, but if you give it sixty pages or so, Death Troopers does not disappoint. About halfway through some very familiar SW characters pop into the story and things really get moving. Lots of fun. Lots of blood. Fun and blood really. 



Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Free Kindle Download

3 DAYS ONLY

Between February 17th and 19th, the kindle edition of my collection, Blood, Gridlock, & PEZ will be available as a free download.

Visit a post apocalyptic world where it becomes difficult to distinguish friends from food. Experience the dead reaching forward from the past to influence the future of the living. Summon nerves of steel to remove the spiders living in a human brain. Conspire with malevolent jack-o’-lanterns to stop a mad man. And stand up to death in the middle of a traffic jam with only your wits, and PEZ. 



Blood, Gridlock, & PEZ on Amazon

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Night Terrors III

Its official! Blood Bound Books has added me to the TOC of the new edition in their Night Terrors anthology series. My short story "Home Care," will appear somewhere in Night Terrors III. I don't think they have released a complete TOC or a NT3 cover design, but when they do I'll share. Blood Bound Books is a small genre press publishing out of Arizona, and even though they have only been around for a few years, they already have an impressive catalog. 
My short story collection, Blood, Gridlock, & PEZ: Podcasted Tales of Terror, got a little makeover recently. Little nip and tuck on the cover design and to celebrate I'm going to offer it as a free download sometime in February. Just waiting for the paperback to get proofed then I'll change the prices on Amazon. And if all goes well, I should have my new novel available around the 1st of April. No Fooling.
I've been asked to speak to an interesting class, via Skype, at Mansfield University (Pennsylvania). Professor Dan Mason teaches a course on the Zombie Apocalypse. Jeez, where was this course when I was at University? The students have an undead reading list and Night of the Living Trekkies is on it. This should be fun. I'm really looking forward to it. 

My co-author on Night of the Living Trekkies is diving back into the zombie pool with a new novel Boomtown Baby which he is putting online as he writes it. Go check it out on Jukepop, and let him know what you think. 


Sunday, November 10, 2013

Night of the Living Trekkies in Academia

Any writer that says he doesn’t read reviews is someone you shouldn’t stand too close to, because there is a good chance that at any moment their pants may burst into flame. When it comes to reviews, I can’t say I read them all… just the ones I find. Recently there have been some very flattering ones about my collection, Blood, Gridlock, and PEZ:Podcasted Tales of horror. Just thought I’d throw that in there. Reviews for my novel NotLT, which Sam Stall and I always appreciate, range from fantastic to less than fantastic. One phrase I’ve seen in many of the reviews, even the positive ones, goes something like Night of the Living Trekkies is not great literature, but…then it would continue on and say something nice. Okay, truth here, when I sat down to write that first draft of Night of the Living Trekkies, I wasn’t trying to be Hemingway. Hell, Hemingway couldn’t even be Hemingway, and he had 61 years to try. Point is, I didn’t sit down to write great literature, but I didn’t sit down to write mediocre literature either.  

So after reading that NotLT is not great literature line about a million times, I was pretty excited to hear that NotLT is required reading at Cayuga CommunityCollege in Kelley E. Rowley’s, PHD professor of English, Science Fiction Literature course. It has been for the past few years along with two other novels about the undead, World War Z by Max Brooks, and S. G. Bowne’sBreathers. Here is a little bit of what Professor Rowley had to say about why NotLT fits well into his class.

“The novel brings up veteran issues.  Our community college is close to Fort Drum and the 10th Mountain Division.  We get a lot of veterans.  Our students understand PTSD and recognize it in the Jim. (Jim Pike) Those that do not see Jim with PTSD identify a post deployment angst.  So one group sympathizes with the PTSD most all groups feel the angst that he does.  This universalizes the novel for any student going through a transitional stage.  What I like about the novel is that the angst is not a permanent condition.  It gives strategies to overcome the angst.  

Last, NotLT fits into a zombie trilogy that chronicles the post 9/11 world.  Many researchers are identifying the modern Zombie as a metaphor for fears of globalization and the struggle that is involved in the geopolitical boarder zones.  In these zones we are combating terrorists.  The first book we read is WWZ which introduces the common use of extreme violence to subdue extreme evil.  This was the zeitgeist of the early part of the Afghan/Iraq war.  Your novel provides a different prospective; rather than a zombie that is irrational, unpredictable and extremely violent, yours are intelligent, connected and persuasive.  They are recruiters that persuade some to their cause.  They are the ones that radicalize citizens into domestic terrorist through the use of the internet.”

And I’d just like to add a big fat, “Yeah, what he said.”

Along with NotLT being required reading, a student in France, ChloĆ© Royer, is currently translating the novel into French as a part of her Master's dissertation. Before she was allowed to use the novel it had to pass the scrutiny of her professor to make sure it was a proper literary challenge. It passed.   

In other news signed copies of Night of the Living Trekkies were a big hit at this years’ New York Comic Con. Looked like fun.

Few months back (September) marked the three year anniversary of NotLT release, and cosplayer, Lady Beth Vader, sent us a Happy Birthday picture. Thank you Ms. Vader.


Christa Abernathy-Meredith seven-year-old son drew this image for us. I assume he hasn't read the book but it’s a pretty nice rendition of Jim Pike taking on the Trekkie undead. 

There is a bit of movie talk going on again for Night of the Living Trekkies. Some nice folks with some interesting backgrounds and connections (which I’d love to share more about - not the right time) are working toward obtaining the novel’s film option. Like I said, I’d love to share more, but if it goes through I’ll be blogging and posting about it daily. 

Over at the Night of the Living Trekkies Facebook page I’m getting ready to roll out some new Geeky Holiday Wreaths for 2013. I have half a dozen ideas, but could always use a few more. Feel free to send me yours.


My collection Blood, Gridlock, & PEZ:Podcasted Tales of Horror, had a really good October, climbing up the Amazon rankings to hit #41 in the comedy horror category, right in-between Jeff Strand and S.G. Browne. Not bad for a collection with no traditional publisher, marketing plan, or any kind of promotion whatsoever.

My new novel Night of the ZomBEEs which was targeting for a Fall release will most likely get pushed back to Winter. After the holidays is not an ideal time to release a novel but we have fallen a bit behind on the editing, not my editor's fault, it’s pretty much mine. So we may be looking at an early Spring 2014 release. Either way, I’m very excited about this one!

Lastly, my flash fiction story, The Delivery, debuted in the anthology Dark Bits from Apokrupha press. Its 52 pieces of flash fiction that are not only a fast fun read, but the antho has been converted into a 52 week planner for 2014. (Sold separately) My story is on week two!   

And for those who give a ninja’s butt, here is what I’m reading, have read, and my reviews from GoodReads.


Currently Reading Death Troopers, Odd Thomas, and Forever Odd.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Fantastic idea and execution. A retelling of Star Wars as if written by William Shakespeare. I hope English teachers tasked with the responsibility of teaching Shakespeare to middle and high school students jump all over this. What a great tool to introduce Shakespeare to students. I’m sure the publisher, Quirk Books, is planning to do Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, but I’d really like to see William Shakespeare’s Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, or Serenity. Just a thought. 


My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Masello is a fantastic writer. The narrative jumps back and forth through the centuries and never becomes jarring. I did get a little impatient waiting for the supernatural elements of the story to kick in but when they did it was worth the wait. It did seem that the story could have moved a little faster up front but overall a wonderful read.


My rating: 3 of 5 stars
A very nice read. Not thrilling, but nice. I was a bit disappointing, and it is entirely my fault. I skimmed the jacket cover just enough to get the impression that it was a ghost story. It isn't. Well not the kind of ghosts you would think. Valentine is a wonderful writer and spins a thought provoking, coming of age, self discovery, put away the past, and get on with your young life kind of story. A very good, solid young adult read.