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Get Your Zombie Fix with Ace Antonio Hall’s “The Confessions of Sylva Slasher”

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Confessions of Sylva Slasher

A Zombie Novel

Ace Antonio Hall

Publisher:  Montag Press, April 2013

Genre: YA Horror

Book Description:

THE LOVE OF HER LIFE BECOMES THE DEATH OF THEIR LOVE

Sylva Fleischer is a teenager who works as a necromancer for a living. Wanting to get away from raising the dead for police investigations and demanding grieving families for a while, she goes on a cruise for spring break. Her vacation from the dead is short-lived when passengers on the ship turn into flesh-eating zombies. These are not the same simple-minded harmless zombies she raises and can control, so Sylva and her friends are trapped on the Pacific Ocean. Their only escape comes from a guy Sylva thought was dead: Brandon. It just so happens to also be the anniversary of his death, and she’s still hurting from his loss!

Why didn’t he call to say he’s alive? All those tears … for nothing.SylvaCover

Sylva doesn’t normally hold grudges, but when someone plays with her heart they have to pay. However, with the fate of the human race on the line, Brandon convinces Sylva to join him in a secret mission, yet she can’t shake the feeling that he’s hiding something.

It didn’t take long for her suspicions to hold true when it’s revealed that Brandon has been romantically involved with the very enemy he now wants her to destroy. To top that brutal betrayal, the villainous female would rather kill Brandon than let Sylva have a chance to patch things up between them. Sylva is not the kind of girl to walk away from love without a fight, but with a strange virus threatening extinction of human life, she shoves her own feelings in her back pocket to face her greatest nightmare, and that nightmare starts with something that is eerily growing right inside of her own mind and body.

When The Heart Bleeds, Sometimes Your Friends Are All You’ve Got

Available at Amazon

Praise for Ace Antonio Hall and Confessions of Sylva Slasher

“A treat for Buffy fans—but 100% Ace Antonio Hall’s own twisted vision. Breathes new life into the living dead; run, don’t shamble to get a copy.”

—Robert J. Sawyer, Hugo and Nebula Award-winning author of the WWW trilogy

“In a vast sea of zombie tales, Hall’s tale is more than a cut above. He brings the entire genre to heel and treats us to one Hell of a ride.”

—Art Holcomb, writer of Professor Xavier & the X-Men vs. The Avengers, Marvel Comics

Excerpt Chapters 1 & 2

PART ONE SILVER KISSES

For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man.— I Corinthians 15:21

Chapter 1

YEAH, THE WHOLE STINKING PLANET WANTED ME DEAD, and they got their wish. I tried to move but couldn’t. Not with a broken back. Breathing slow, uneven, I stared into the undead woman’s eyes that dripped an ominous glare down onto my helpless body.

Maybe if I hadn’t gotten dreamy eyes for this really cute guy (I mean jerk), the weight of the human race wouldn’t be sitting on my shoulders. I would’ve easily given my life so my best friend, Emily, wouldn’t die. Too late.

The full moon draped around the undead woman’s shadow that climbed up my broken body like ghosts of death. The island soil, thirsty for moisture, welcomed my blood. Terror wrestled me into a stone cold chokehold—I forgot how to scream. The scent of rotten corpses gripped my nostrils. A horde of the walking dead moaned and hovered over me like starved coyotes as the undead woman crept forward on all fours to kill me, again.

Chapter 2

Several hours prior:

I HATED THAT I COULDN’T TELL REALITY FROM MY NIGHTMARES. Maybe, just maybe I spent one too many nights raising the dead. My parents named me Sylva Fleischer, but most people knew me as Sylva Slasher (I’ll get to why later). I made a pretty cool living as a necromancer for The Silver Kisses Aerial Ash Scattering Company. We raised zombies for mourners to say their last goodbyes. A lot of times we did it for police investigations, occasionally for corporate disputes, and then we cremated the deadheads and scattered the remains over Hawaii’s beautiful waters. As a matter-of-fact, some guy from the military base in Honolulu kept leaving messages on my cell phone that he wanted me to raise some dead soldier for a case they were investigating. But I had other plans. Look, I just turned eighteen, so if I wanted to ditch some lame colonel for something way more hella-fun, I would. What? Can’t a girl have priorities?

Twilight peeked over my shoulders as I looked for my friends while aboard the Sea Queen a.k.a. The Ship of a Thousand Corpses—the best freaking zombie-themed cruise in America. Imagine being in one of those magnificent hotels in Las Vegas during spring break; the golden elevators, escalators, walkover bridges, restaurants, and stores, filled with tons of thrill-seeking college kids and adults. You could call the Sea Queen one of the world’s best luxury hotels but on water.

A woman hired me to do a raising on the ship. Emily, and her boyfriend, Beckham, or Flip as he liked to be called (Hawaiian-born and Japanese-descended like Em), were going to help me. After I finally got dressed, I saw Emily’s wacky picture that she posted on Facebook and her bitchy complaint that she and Flip were waiting on me (I’m always fashionably late) in the bar on the Nightwalker Deck. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a clue where to go. The captain was escorting me up, but some kind of urgent call came in and he dashed out of the elevator speaking radio codes into his walkie-talkie.

One of my all-time fave videos, Sweet Dreams, played on the inside of the elevator doors via a hi-tech projector system. I loved it that I could watch a music video (albeit, one I’ve seen a kazillion times) inside of the elevator. A volume control knob sat beneath the red emergency button. Marilyn Manson crawled out of the rundown fireplace wearing black boots, a dirty tutu, and a torn bodice that showed off his skeletal bare chest. Alright, that’s enough. I turned the sound down so I could briefly gather my thoughts for the raising.

The elevator doors eased open. I stepped out, immediately folding my arms and shivering. I wore a black mid-riff tee shirt, tight leather pants, and some five-and-a-half inch knee-high Gothic boots. I sighed, berating myself for not wearing a warmer top. The ship’s fake fog blanketed the air so I could barely see anything. Already late, I didn’t want to waste any more time so I stopped to ask a person dressed like a zombie nun for directions. She sat on the bench in front of the ship’s THEATRE UNDER THE STARS, rocking back and forth. A broken dog leash dangled in her hand. The closer I got, the more I realized her hunched feeble posture.

“Lady, are you okay?” I asked.

She didn’t answer but kept rocking. Her abrupt movements made her wimple flap around her neck and chin. I glanced up at the speaker mounted on the wall above us, creeped out by the spooky organ music streaming out into the foggy air.

The lady made a gurgling sound.

“Miss, hey? Are you okay?”

Her head lifted slowly. The yellow rays from the moon crept into the shadows under her headdress. I stepped forward slowly, swallowing unease.

A name spilled out of my mouth, slow, whispered. “Malena?

I remembered admiring the blind woman’s seeing eye dog when we embarked the ship. I couldn’t resist petting her wolfdog. Emily and Flip were so occupied looking for their tickets that they didn’t even see Malena and her dog.

She made another gurgling sound. I took a step back, peering into her cloudy-white eyes.

“Um, okay, I get it,” I said. “You were hired by the ship to scare people. Right?”

I swayed a little to the left as the ship went over choppy waters. The blind woman stared past me with a vacant stare, and then her head rolled over to her right shoulder.

“Hey—hey—hey. You’re not okay,” I said, extending my arm, ready to catch her if she fell off of the bench.

Was she having a seizure?

Malena muttered something. Saliva ran down her mouth and dripped down her chalky white face.

“Are you having a allergic reaction?” I glanced to my right, then left. “Maybe I should get the ship’s doctor.”

Her body started to convulse and she dropped the dog’s leash on the deck’s floor. She moaned, curling up into a ball on the bench.

“Okay—okay—okay, I’m going to get help,” I said, taking a quick step toward the stairs. “But, uh, shoot, I don’t want to leave you alone.”

A sign directly above her read nightwalker deck maze; another, near the elevator lifts, pointed to the bathrooms. Someone had to be coming by, any second. Another gurgling noise came from the blind woman. She coughed and blood spurted out of her mouth. I shielded my eyes with the back of my hand and something wet splattered on my forearm.

“Oh, my God, Malena! You’re, you’re hemorrhaging.”

I wiped her blood off my arms, onto the side of my top and pulled out my iPhone to call 911. No reception.

“Somebody, help. Call 911!”

I heard someone giggling and saw shadows approaching me through the fog. Two Asian girls, maybe in their late teens, dressed in shredded jeans and pink tee shirts passed behind me.

I gestured to them. “Can I use either one of your phones to call 911? This lady is totally sick!”

“Nice try,” one of them said, revealing the braces on her teeth. “But you only try to scare us.”

“No, please, really. Are you getting reception out here? I’m not getting reception.”

They laughed and pointed at the bench. “Maybe she pull your leg,” the same girl said.

I turned around and glared at an empty bench.

Where did she go?

The girls giggled and walked toward the bathroom, shaking their heads.

“What a moron,” the other one said.

“Miss? Miss, where are you?” I called out, a little irritated by those stupid girls who didn’t believe me. I looked toward the bridge then back at the girls. “Where did she go?” They ignored me and went into the bathroom. Seriously?

“Maybe I am a moron,” I said, under my breath. There were a few droplets of blood on the bench, but I couldn’t find a trail showing me which way she went. She could’ve only gone but so many places—the elevator lift, the stairs, across the bridge (which she didn’t because I would have seen her), overboard, or into the Nightwalker Deck Maze.

If that old, blind lady thought I was going to play her game and follow her into the maze, she had another thing coming. Whatever. Time to do this raising and then try to have some fun for a change.

I took one step and the thought of Malena sent a chill creeping down the nape of my neck. Where did she go? Aw, Who cares? I shook it off, folded my arms, again, and walked toward a bridge that led to the highest deck on the ship.

Someone screamed. I turned quickly, and blew out a long breath as a wolf man in tattered clothes chased a screaming girl across the bridge and through a door. Music blared from out of the place and I knew that Emily and Flip would be in there. That must be the bar, Lipstick Zombies.

I walked over the bridge, glancing back every few seconds for Malena. The instant I crossed halfway over, I heard the music thumping behind the bar’s door. When I saw the neon sign, I got a little excited. Maybe with a little partying, I thought, I’d feel better and forget about everything that sucked in my life—for a while.

CAN’T WAIT FOR THE SEQUEL? HERE’S A PREVIEW TO

SKATEBOARD XOMBIES, SEARCH FOR THE CRYSTAL COFFIN:

On a normal school day in Lunyon Canyon, California, teenage necromancer, Sylva Fleischer, bickers with her teacher in class over an unfairly graded paper. But when the principal announces that all teachers should lock their door and not let any students leave class, the entire school is trapped in a world of terrifying zombies that not only bite with their teeth, they bite with their minds.

Since all life on Earth faces extinction at the hands of the perilous undead, a guardian of a secret society of vampire monks saves Sylva, her friend, Half-Pipe and her family, and lead them to an alternate world. And that’s when the real terror begins … on a planet full of every imaginable type of undead creature that ever lived … Including those telekinetic zombies!

Ace_jump_in_tuxedoAbout the Author:

Ace Antonio Hall is an actor, former music producer, and ‘retired’ educator with accolades as a Director of Education for the Sylvan Learning Center and nearly fifteen years experience as an award-winning NYC English teacher. He has a BFA degree with a concentration in screenwriting and has published poetry, short stories and fiction in magazines, anthologies, newspapers and novels.

Inspired by his father, Chris Acemandese Hall, who penned the lyrics to the Miles Davis jazz classic, “So What”, sung by Eddie Jefferson, and his sister, Carol Lynn Brown, who guest starred in the 1970’s film, “Velvet Smooth”, Ace spawned his creativity into developing the beloved but flawed teen character, Sylva Slasher.

6793512_origAce was the Vice President of the Greater Los Angeles Writers Society (2009-2011), and continues to head the Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror (ScHoFan) Critique Group as Co-Director of critique groups within the society. He is also a member of LASFS and the International Thriller Writers.

On April 14, 2013, Montag Press published his YA zombie novel Confessions of Sylva Slasher. His next release, Skateboard Xombies, is coming out later this year, and he has already begun working on Skateboard Xamurai for the third installment in his Sylva Slasher series.

Amazon AuthorPage | Facebook | Twitter |

GoodReads | Website | Blog | Instagram

Looking for some zombie gear? Check out Ace’s Zombie Pop Shop!

Author Interview – Anthony Renfro – A Zombie Holiday Trilogy

Author Interview – Anthony Renfro – A Zombie Holiday Trilogy.

Thanks to Ch’kara SilverWolf for a great interview and introducing us to a cool new Zombie novel!

Interview: JT Sawyer, Author of “First Wave” – A Post-Apocalypse Novel

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It’s not often I highlight an author with such an imposing bio – so today is a special treat.  J.T. Sawyer is a survival expert who not only writes thrillers based on a post-apocalyptic world but also includes information on his website that might help you endure a real-life disaster. Keep reading because after the interview, I’ve included an exciting excerpt from Book One of the First Wave series.

You’re about to meet a most fascinating man . . . J.T. Sawyer.

I’m intrigued by the premise of your First Wave series – a man emerges from a wilderness, off-the-grid trip only to find the world infected by a biogenetic virus. It’s even more relevant since the Ebola threat headlines our news almost daily. How do you feel about the eerie connection of your story to current events? Is there anything you would change about the plot if you were writing it today?

First, thanks for having me on your blog, Deb! I had been mulling over the idea for this story for several years and published the first book in January of this past year so the timing with the current Ebola outbreak is indeed bizarre. Over the years, I’ve had numerous ER doctors and even a few epidemiologists in my survival courses and have been able to pick their brains about the threats humans have faced with pandemics. The insightful book, The Great Influenza, by John Barry was also helpful in understanding the global ramifications in the 1918 virus that swept the globe. All of this figured prominently into the plot of my books as well as too many late nights watching zombie flicks as a teenager eons ago.

As a survivalist guide and teacher, I’m sure you’ve encountered some interesting situations. Tell us about one incident that left its mark on you –  an experience you’d rather not repeat. (We all have a tale to tell. I suspect yours is much more intriguing than most!).

Well, I’ve had close encounters with bears, a puma, scorpions, and even flash floods but the most harrowing event in recent years was the time I poked my head into a small prehistoric cave to look around. Due to the excitement of exploring, I wasn’t paying much attention as I crawled through the narrow entrance only to hear the loud rattle of a snake off to my right. Slowly turning my headlamp, I saw an immense Diamondback Rattlesnake coiled on a ledge beside the entrance, about sixteen inches from my head. My exposed neck felt like it had a bulls-eye painted on it. Despite the desert heat, I’m pretty sure I have must have had a frost-bitten expression.

My future was in the scaly hands of, what I prayed was a seasoned old-timer who was more interested in packrats than a woefully unaware traveler. His agitated rattling continued and I spent ten (or maybe it was sixty?) minutes performing a Tai-Chi like extraction from the interior. His rattling only slowed once my shaken form was back outside in the sunlight. I collapsed on the nearby ledge, gulping in the fresh air.

My hiking partner, who was coming up the trail, asked why I was so pale and suggested that maybe I was low on water. I remember feebly sputtering out the words, “Me, not thirsty.” My friend and I still joke about that day since I ignored my own advice about not sticking your head or hands where you can’t see!

OMG . . . I’m still shuddering, part laughter, part terror. So glad it was you and not me!

Zombie apocalypse aside, what do you consider the most probable instigating factor for a SHTF event . . . an EMP/terrorist attack, a solar flare similar to the Carrington event, invading forces from a foreign entity, civil war or other? And why?

My formal academic background is as an anthropologist and it seems like humans throughout history have mostly had their numbers reduced through either disease or warfare. Yes, a meteor could pulverize our planet or something else environmentally catastrophic could occur but I would venture to say that it would be something of human construct.

I think there would be more concern with the hysteria and panic-buying of supplies associated with the potential threat of something (pandemic, rumor of an EMP, etc…) than an actual widespread disaster. The fact is, we, in western society are used to a certain level of comfort and so I see the threat of that lifestyle being disrupted of greater concern, short-term at least, than an actual catastrophe. For instance, there are many, many other threats to worry about besides Ebola but if a few more people get infected in the U.S. that could create this wave of panic-buying goods (and creating ripple-effects in the supply chain) along with people staying at home from work/school. So, my point is not to downplay the current concern with Ebola, but the human social dynamic has, historically, always been more of a chaotic variable than the actual disaster itself.

I was very pleased to see a page on your website www.jtsawyer.com listing items for a “bug-out” bag and offering suggestions on disaster preparedness. You also mentioned you’ve trained both military and community groups in survival techniques. Which do you enjoy the most – government or private sector – and why?

I always give priority to the military when they contact us. The men and women in our armed forces are some of the finest warriors I’ve ever worked with and they are highly motivated to learn the skills we teach so they can add another tool to their arsenal for getting back home. That being said, those courses are physically intense and we are often out in grueling weather for weeks on end. I only do a handful of those each year and the rest of our schedule is devoted to offering fieldcourses in practical skills to the general public. I like the balance of teaching both.

Okay, I have to ask this . . . indulge me.  When you chose your pen name, did it have anything to do with Tom Sawyer? I noticed the “T” and “Sawyer” and wondered if there was a connection. If not, how did you choose your name?

I am a fan of the show LOST and enjoyed the complex character of Sawyer (and his snarky attitude) the most. The “T” is from my first name, Tony, and my wife suggested the “J” to round things out. Though, I have to say, I am a sucker for the adventures of Tom Sawyer and anything penned by Twain.

You’ve spent many years testing survival skills under extreme geographical and weather conditions. But when you’re not trying to keep yourself or your clients alive, where do you like to hang out for fun? Mountains? Desert? Beach? And what attracts you to the area?

I can’t get enough of the Southwest. Where I live in Flagstaff, I can be in the mountains, canyons, or desert within an hour. Plus there are endless prehistoric ruins and caves peppering the landscape. I am in heaven. I originally grew up in Michigan and love the North Woods in the Fall but ever since I started teaching survival courses in the desert back in 1988, I’ve found where I belong. I believe we all have our physical birthplace and then the other setting or environment that we were born to. I found the latter many years ago and the love affair is still going on. My wife jokingly refers to the Grand Canyon as “Tony’s mistress,” and I reckon that’s the case at times.

Ahhh…I completely understand. I was hooked by the lure of the Southwest years ago. Hoping to migrate back there in the next year or so. 🙂

Could you share some of your future projects? Will there be more installments to the First Wave series or are you working on another novel with a different story line?

I have a fourth book that I am working on the First Wave series that will be out in late winter. It will focus on the hero Travis Combs once more and the broader picture of the pandemic.  It will be a longer book and reunite him with some of the characters in the story.

Besides that, I have just finished the first book in a new post-apocalyptic series about a female Secret Service Agent who finds herself in over her head when the world unravels from a deadly virus.  I’ve also got two non-fiction narrative books nearly done that assemble many personal stories from life-on-the-trail over the last twenty years. My teaching season just ended so I will be immersing myself back into navigating through the keyboard jungle for the next six months until I head out again.

Last question . . . if you had a magic rock which could transport you to any time in history, where would you go and why?

Since I was about eight years old, I have digested everything I could find on the Apaches and the Southwest. I would sure like to go back in time to the 1870s or so and get a glimpse into the indigenous people and their traditional lifeways before it was largely curtailed. There were a lot of interesting players here during that period. Most people are familiar with Geronimo but he was really a lesser figure in the broader picture. Apaches like Victorio, his sister Lozen, Cochise, and others, not to mention the US Chief of Scouts, Al Sieber, were all pivotal figures in the unfolding of Arizona’s early history.

Thanks for letting me pick your brain today, and a big note of gratitude for sharing your expertise on survival and preparedness skills.

Thank you, Deb. I sure appreciate your interest and wonderful questions.

Take care,

JT

WOW! Did I not tell you JT Sawyer is a fascinating man? His First Wave series is also intriguing and to prove it, I’ve included an excerpt. It’s a series you’ll not want to miss. Make sure you add it to your Christmas wish list! And if you can’t wait, just click on the Amazon link below. 🙂

First Wave

Travis Combs Thrillers

Volume 1

JT Sawyer

Genre: Post-Apocalyptic Fiction, zombiesFirst Wave New Author WEBSITE USE

Publisher: JT Sawyer

ASIN:  B00IHQAYYQ

Number of pages: 192

Word Count: 57666

Cover Artist: Melody Simmons

Book Description:

Special Forces veteran Travis Combs just wanted to forget his weary years of leading combat missions while taking an extended rafting trip through the Grand Canyon.

As he and his group complete a 22-day trip on the Colorado River, they find the world has unraveled from a deadly pandemic.

Now, he has to show his small band how to live off the land and cross the rugged Arizona desert, while evading blood-drinking zombies, gangs of cartel bikers, and a rogue government agency.

Available at Amazon

EXCERPT:

Prologue

August 26, Ten Days before the Pandemic

Doctor Robert James Pearson lowered the silver-rimmed glasses on his nose as he gazed at the clear vial before him. His technicians in the research lab next to his office had gone home for the day. The only noise came from the hallway outside, where he could hear the comforting footfalls of security personnel doing their evening sweeps in the high-security facility on the outskirts of Albuquerque, New Mexico. He stroked his thin gray goatee while marveling at the precious substance in the vial.

After thirty-eight months of toil in his lab, his research for the Department of Biodefense was complete. The viral load he and the other scientists had perfected in the modified avian flu strain had passed the initial series of animal testing and the antidote was ready to use, if necessary. They had painstakingly taken the original 1918 virus and magnified its replication capabilities. This super virus dramatically increases the onset of necrotizing bronchiolitis while instigating diffuse alveolar damage. The subject will typically perish from internal hemorrhaging within twenty-four hours of exposure, he had proudly stated in a recent briefing to his funders.

The Biodefense officials had assured him that his research in neurophysiology and virology was critical to arriving at an antidote before terrorists could complete their own strain of the new virus. Now, over three years later, he could wrap up this voluminous project and resume his work at Stanford. Pearson was part of a six-man group of researchers who conferred through daily videoconferences, comparing research data. They were the brilliant minds behind the resulting antidote that could potentially save millions of lives.

As he pondered the accolades he would receive from his contemporaries in the scientific community, the landline phone on his desk rang, jolting him back to the present. Very few calls ever came in on this phone, and he picked up the receiver, squinting his eyes and tensing his lower lip.

The trembling voice on the other end was his colleague, Doctor Emory from Chicago. “Are you alone?”

“Yes. It’s a little too quiet in here, to be honest,” Pearson said. “Only the security guards and maintenance staff are around at this hour.”

“There isn’t much time. You need to leave now,” the other man said hurriedly. “Take your notes, laptop, and the vaccine with you. Somehow, the virus has been unleashed in Europe. Soon it will be on our doorstep.”

Pearson interrupted his friend’s hurried exclamations. “What are you talking about? How do you know?” said Pearson, clutching the phone and thrusting his shoulders forward over the edge of the wooden desk.

“That new agency we met with last week…and that woman…they came to my office looking for me a few hours ago. They killed my assistants and took everything.” He paused, his breath racing over the phone. “I escaped, but the others…they’re coming for us all. Get out of there now. You have to disappear. Go to your fallback location.”

“Wait, what…what do you mean….why would they….” Pearson paused, and his eyebrows scrunched together as he heard the sound of muffled gunfire coming from the hallway. His eyes darted to the brown door leading into his small office. He tried to dismiss the noise as a janitor’s cart tipping over, or another sound—anything other than what he had heard. Then the rhythmic pattern of gunfire shuttered through the hallway again as he heard people shriek and collapse to the floor.

Pearson’s face looked frostbitten as his world constricted. He placed the phone down and grabbed the vials of vaccine from the desk, along with his laptop, and thrust them into a compact metallic briefcase. He could hear the password keypad being activated for the exterior lab wall across from his office, and the sound of a woman’s voice issuing commands. The familiar swishing sound of the first set of air-locked lab doors opening followed next. With a white-knuckled grip on the briefcase, he pried open his office door to see three armed men and a woman with a black vest enter the lab. The first series of doors closed behind them.

Pearson swung open the office door and bolted in the opposite direction, heading for the stairs. His tan blazer fluttered like a cape as he ran down the stairs to the emergency exit. He entered the security code, and the pressure-sealed door opened to a dimly lit parking lot. After the door slammed, he stopped and turned around, then activated the biohazard alarm for the building. He didn’t wait to see if his actions were successful in sealing the intruders inside as he sprinted for his black Volvo. As Pearson sped towards the security gate, he could see the door ajar on the checkpoint booth. The security guard, a portly man he had greeted each morning for years, was lying face down atop a blood-sprayed console.

As he raced away, he kept waiting for the roar of police sirens heading to the facility, but there was only the expanse of the lonesome desert road enveloping his car. On the seat beside him was the silver briefcase containing the vials of vaccine.

His constant furtive glances in the rearview mirror matched his racing thoughts. If the virus could be contained in Europe then there might still be hope of preventing it from turning into a catastrophic pandemic. But how long had it been? If quarantine was unsuccessful, then widespread fatalities would commence within two weeks. He reflected on the recent meeting that Emory had mentioned. That icy-eyed woman with the neck scar said her employer would be overseeing vaccine distribution in the event of a bio attack. How was she involved? What was she doing at the lab?

Twelve miles later, the remote two-lane highway ended at a T-section as the last glimmer of sunlight streaked across Pearson’s pale cheeks. The faint lights of vehicles driving on the interstate could be seen in the distance. A hundred yards down the road, a green sign indicated Albuquerque to the east and Flagstaff to the west. Reluctantly, he edged towards the west entrance ramp. This would be the safest direction for now, and perhaps offer a chance to salvage humanity’s future.

Chapter 1

Travis Combs was brushing flecks of sand from the side of his face as he sat up on his thin bedroll by the shoreline of the Colorado River. He turned and looked over to his left, where the rest of the passengers were still sprawled out asleep. To his right, the rafts were tethered to a row of cottonwood trees alongside the camp kitchen and coolers. Even with the sun having risen an hour ago, the inner walls of the Grand Canyon were painted in an orange-and-red hue, silhouetted against an indigo sky.

The morning silence was penetrated by the voice of a canyon wren, whose melodic song floated down the cliffs. The last few days had been quiet, with very few rafters on the river. The warm night had hardly required entry into his sleeping bag, and Travis had slept in faded khaki shorts and a cotton t-shirt that was nearly threadbare in the shoulders. His faint black beard was well groomed—one luxury he afforded himself on this trip.

As he stood, he caught the movement of three bighorn sheep making their way up an incline a few hundred yards away across the river. The clamoring of their small hooves on the rocks echoed off the canyon walls. All my years of rappelling cliffs and traversing mountains around the globe and I could never walk with that kind of grace, he thought.

Travis rolled his shoulders around in an effort to loosen them up. At thirty-four, too many airborne jumps and arduous missions in third-world settings had taken their toll on his otherwise fit body. He had achieved the rank of staff sergeant in the 5th Special Forces before serving the last three years as a SERE instructor, teaching others the skills of survival and evasion. Now, with his discharge a few months behind him, it was time to unwind and live without a schedule, and with no one to command.

AJTbout the Author:

JT Sawyer is the pen name for the author who makes his living teaching survival courses for the military special operations community, Department of Homeland Security, US Marshals, FAA, and other federal agencies throughout the US.

He has over 25 years of experience testing long-term survival skills in the desert, mountains, and forest.

http://www.jtsawyer.com

https://www.facebook.com/JTSawyerbooks

https://twitter.com/authorjtsawyer

 

 

 

 

 

Review: CEMETERY HIGHWAY – A Fresh Approach To Zombie Novels

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REVIEW:

I like some Zombie novels. I don’t love any of them,mostly because I consider the theme overdone.However, CEMETERY HIGHWAY by Hamish Robert Johnson offers a unique approach to the undead story line, leaving me teetering on the fence between like and love.

Admittedly, I was confused, then curious about how the author would handle a book where each chapter is a first person POV from different characters. Seemed like a lot of head hopping to me but in reality, it was nicely done and offered a wonderful slant on the events through different eyes, as well as breathing life into the characters. There’s no better way to learn about a particular character than through their own thoughts and eyes.

The story follows a group of young people as they try to navigate an emerging new world. The Zombies are now the rich and powerful, the humans relegated to a poor, humbling existence. Yet instead of an overload of gore and violence, Mr. Johnson treats us to humor, coming of age emotions and a sub-plot of good overcoming evil.

I was pleasantly surprised and can honestly recommend CEMETERY HIGHWAY to everyone, not just paranormal or YA fans but readers who enjoy an engaging, character driven story. Did I mention unconventional feel-good endings? Yeah, it’s got one of those, too.

Cemetery Highway

Hamish Robert JohnsonCemeteryHighway-A-Novel(2)

 Genre: YA Paranormal Romance

ISBN:1499520247

ASIN: B00K7JUAA4

Number of pages: 187

Cover Artist: D. Thomas Magee

Book Description:

Cemetery Highway is a rollicking tale of fame, friendship and falls from grace, set in a world where zombies are the elite and humans are the underclass.

Best friends Dexter, Michelle, Penny and Cakes have started a group called the Anti Zombie Alliance and plan on sticking it to the zombies once and for all. But when zombie big-wig Max convinces the suave Dexter to trade his standards for stardom, things get ugly.

Available at Smashwords    Amazon    Kobo

Excerpt:

MICHELLE

It is said that becoming a zombie is inevitable. Either we get attacked, or we sell out and take the Package, but sooner or later we all become zombies. I, for one, have never seen the advantage of aligning myself with a large group of any kind, certainly not one hell bent on human cranial carnage.

Sure, they have all the power and wealth, but take a look at their lifestyle. Zombies work 100 hours a week, and yes they do make a lot of money, but what do they spend it on? A nice car that they only use to drive to work, and expensive clothes to wear there. They have no time to enjoy themselves, or their all-important wealth. And they don’t even have love, because a zombie can only have whom he loved in life. To find love after the change had always been considered impossible. Oh, and they eat peoples brains. I tell you, it can really test my faith in the world.

Because of the current economy, more and more humans are taking the Package. This means they sell their humanity to the Zombie Corporation in exchange for zombie wealth and servitude. As a human I’ve always found this to be terribly disappointing, but it is not without its advantages. Current Zombie Corporate standards have put a stop to any unauthorized kills, which means that all kills must be ordered by the King. With the reduced number of savage zombie predators out and about, the streets are safer to walk than ever before, and I have long been an advocate for human safety and self-defense. Which brings me to the start of the story. This is the night when everything changed.

I was out celebrating with my three very best friends. We had been close for so long that I began to wonder if our bond had become more of a habit than anything else. But that’s beside the point. We’d recently formed a group called the Anti- Zombie Alliance, and we were holding our first fundraising event at a cruddy bar in downtown Industry. And I mean maximum cruddiness. There were tacky neon beer advertisements, sticky carpet and a musty smell that clings to you like a stray cat. And I’m told the men’s bathroom was just a trough of ice. Self-flushing maybe? Who knows, some questions a lady knows better than to ask.

I was sitting behind a desk with my best friend and Alliance co-founder, Penny Farthing, handing out brochures and stickers to the guests. The stickers had our name and slogan, “Life, it’s always worth the wait.” We really believed in the cause we were fighting for, because the zombies have had it too good for too long. I didn’t realize it as a kid, or maybe I did and just didn’t see the significance or implications, but they really do own and run EVERYTHING. And they don’t care about us humans at all, so we decided to stand up for ourselves. By we, I mean Penny, her ex-boyfriend Dexter, Cakes, and me. My name is Michelle Fernside and coincidentally enough this night was my 18th birthday.

Dexter was performing on stage as the evening’s musical entertainment. He did kind of a one-man show where he used programmed electronic music on his laptop and played electric guitar and sung over it. He was good, too. We always said that he would make it big if he could just get that all-important break.

Anyway, the guy has charisma, and bags of it. Every time he would spin or shake his hips, which was pretty frequently, all the girls in the crowd would swoon. Myself included. And he kept making eyes at me and smiling while singing his beautiful lyrics. I made eyes right back at him, which made me feel excited and nervous. I was trying to be subtle because I didn’t want to upset Penny, but seriously, Dexter has always been my cup of tea. He had a perfectly tapered short Afro that he combed meticulously, and really took pride in his appearance. I always admired that. Even when he had no money at all, he would buy silk ties from the Salvation Army for next to nothing and wear them in such a way that he would look like he had just taken the Package. But on this night he had no tie to speak of. Actually he was covered with no shirt at all, just sweat dripping over the tattoos on his smooth brown chest. I felt guilty just for looking, but it was a good kind of guilt. Exciting, you know? Like I was getting away with something naughty.

Speaking of naughty, I was surprised to notice that Penny was drinking something other than a soda. “Penny Farthing, what are you drinking?”

“Wine,” she said matter-of-factly. She took another sip then smiled at me. “This is a bar, Mishy.” Of course she was right. I had never been a drinker, but why should I look at my friend differently for doing what one does in such an establishment? “Want a sip?” she asked me. “It’s your birthday,” she said teasingly. I smiled and nodded. She poured me a healthy glass of burgundy liquid and I took my first sip. It was not as acrid as I expected. Quite pleasant, actually. Fruity, in fact.

“How many of these have you had?”

“What? Tonight?” Her giddy laugh indicated that she’s had a few. I took a big swig and Penny topped off my glass. She splashed a bit on the white tablecloth, but it was still the cleanest thing in here.

Penny turned to me and smiled. “I think he likes you.”

I was a bit taken aback. “Really?” I said. “Dexter?” I immediately regretted saying his name, because I was well aware of their romantic history, and the fact that she was not yet over him.

“No, Cakes,” she said without missing a beat.

It had been quite obvious to me for a while that Cakes was into me but I just didn’t feel that way about him. The funny thing is, if he had not been so obviously interested I’m sure I would have liked him more. But the fact that he made it so clear left no mystery for me. No place for my mind to wander, and this girl’s mind loves to wander. And also, I had never really been like that with guys before. I mean, I’d kissed a boy here and there, but it was all very innocent. In those situations I always felt like a kid trying on adulthood and walking around the store to see how it felt, before returning to my natural state. The idea of officially being in a relationship with someone, of having an actual boyfriend made me feel very self-conscious. I guess I was nervous about letting go of the final strands of my childhood.

“Oh, really? Cakes? Does he now?” I said, averting my eyes from Dexter.  “Because if you’re not into him,” Penny continued, “I could totally see he and I…” Cakes bumbled over and interrupted.

“I don’t know why he left our band for this,” he said. “This has no chance of going anywhere at all. Right?” He folded his arms, screwed up his nose and watched Dexter’s performance with scrutiny. “Not a chance.”

“I don’t know, Cakes. The girls seem to like it,” Penny said.

“Whatever. Who wants to play for a room full of girls anyway?” Cakes snorted. “Not you, apparently,” I quipped.

Cakes’s real name is Patrick Baker. Dexter used to think it was hilarious to call him Patty Cakes Baker, and over time I guess the name Cakes just stuck. It could have been worse though, he could have been called Patty. Anyway, Cakes was quite good looking, actually. Not handsome per se, but definitely good looking enough to be one of the “other guys”

in a boy band. I always joked that he looked like he’d just fallen out of a cheap fashion catalogue, wet brown floppy hair and all. Why some guys have perpetually wet hair, I’ll never know.

“Wait.”  Penny  turned  to  me.  “Why  did  you  think  I  meant  Dexter?”  I  froze, clamped my hands together and looked down at my black kitten heels.

“Oh, no reason.”

About the Author:

ham photoI grew up in Melbourne Australia and was fortunate enough to have a relatively unexciting childhood. After high school I attended film school at Deakin University, and while making the requisite pretentious art projects I discovered I had a knack for writing dialogue. In short, I wanted to be the next Quentin Tarantino.

After film school I put my passion asside and began an hilarious and relatively short lived culinary career. Quickly rising up the ranks, I found myself cooking in some of Australia’s finest restaurants and finishing a 3 year apprenticeship in 18 months. It was in these hellish kitchens that I rediscovered my love for quirky, dirty, flirty characters, which again stoked my desire for writing and the arts.

Upon hearing The Strokes for the first time, and with absolutely no preparation whatsoever I moved to New York City in 2003. I was once more surrounded by a bevy of interesting folks, inundating me with stories of hardship, romance and hope. How one cannot find inspiration in this city was beyond me. What was also beyond me was the ability to generate an income, so I hopped on the Greyhound with the little money I had left and got as far away as I could.

Austin Texas was my next port of call. Upon arriving I had a mere $40 to my name, but coupled with the attitude of a fearless traveler I was invincible. I quickly finagled a job, a room in a Revenge of the Nerds style college housing situation and the prominent position as lead guitarist in The Handsome Charlies.

I wouldn’t say I was a great guitarist, but I certainly knew how to act like one, and as we were sharing bills with The Black Angels and Ghostland Observatory I could be excused for thinking that I too would make it. But after a particularly ghastly SXSW performance I found myself standing in the parking lot listening to The Strokes perform “Is this it?” across the road. “No it is not”, I answered, and declared that I would return to writing and not continue to get distracted by flashier pursuits.

I commenced writing screenplays, pilots and web series like a madman and have not slowed down since. I now have multiple screenplays in various stages of development, and have completed my first novel. And I am here to stay! 

Connect with the Author at Smashwords   Wattpad  Twitter

 

A Zombie Tale…and Interview

Zombies are the next big thing, much like vampires and werewolves prior to Twilight. It’s almost a cult phenomenon and one that has definitely motivated writers to pen some intriguing tales. James Lacey is one. His new release, Perseverance – A Zombie Tale, is unique, edge of the seat and already boasts a strong following. 

MEET THE AUTHOR: James Lacey

I’m happy to welcome James Lacey, a most extraordinary author, compassionate paraprofessional, and outdoor enthusiast. That’s a lot of hats to wear and let me tell you, James wears them all well.

Tell us a little bit about your recent release, “Perseverance, A Zombie Tale” and why you decided to write about Zombies.

I always liked zombies as the background material for the larger story. The story here is the hero trying to keep his love, Ashley, alive in incredible circumstance. All the great zombie movies and stories I have seen and read do the same thing, use them as the backdrop to the big picture. And, let’s be honest, zombies are naturally scary and fun to write.

Your hero in “Perseverance” is a low key teacher forced to live outside his comfort zone to survive. Did you plan his personal metamorphosis into a reluctant leader as the internal conflict or did it just evolve during your writing?

It definitely evolved as I went. The original work was a short story that ended just as the hero receives the phone messages in the first chapter. Then the people who read it kept asking what happened next, so I had to sort of make it up as I went along. I think you can see that when you read the book, because the change happens so gradually that you don’t realize the character at the end is so completely different from the character at the beginning. Our hero wouldn’t even recognize himself if he saw what he would be transforming into.

Where do you find the seeds of inspiration that eventually sprout roots and become a book?

The original inspiration came from just an idea that popped in my head about how an individual in a situation would survive. After that it came from the support of my family and friends who read what I was producing and kept encouraging me to continue.

You’re a self-proclaimed outdoor enthusiast. Did you use your experiences as a hiker and camper to add reality to the struggle for survival, and if so, how?

There’s definitely some of that in the book, sure. You learn when you go hiking and camping enough how to travel light and make it a few days on the bare minimum of supplies. And you learn quickly how to improvise when something happens out in the woods. Cell phones usually don’t work in the places I go hiking and camping, so it’s important to know what you’re doing.

And now I just have to ask….why did you keep your hero nameless? Was there special significance in that? (I love first person writing and thought it was a clever ploy to keep the hero without a “brand” identity.)

I was wondering if I would ever get this question and I’m glad you are the first, lol. I kept the hero nameless because I never really knew who the hero was. He changes so much in the book that a name would feel like an anchor of sorts. And I think that worked really well. The funny part is that because the hero is nameless, some of the people who read the book and know me have a tendency to think that the hero is supposed to be me, and they couldn’t be more wrong. I don’t even really like dogs (no offense to Alice, but I’m a cat guy).

In addition to writing an exciting and vivid tale of a Zombie invasion, you are also a paraprofessional and Special Olympics coach. When do you find the time to write? Are you a “pantser” or a “plotter”? In other words, do you just sit down and let the story evolve or do you plot it with an outline?

I’m taking Master’s courses in Applied Behavior Analysis, too, lol. But I find the time to write no matter what because I love doing it. Most of the time I’m a “pantser,” and I just write whatever it feels right to write about. But I have a few long-term projects planned, and those I have to actually plot out. Sometimes it might be a few weeks until I have time to work on them, so I need to keep track of what I’m doing. Oh and it really helps being single. Lots of time. lol

What else are you working on?

Right now a few more video projects to promote Perseverance are in the works. I’ve also been putting up some bonus content for the book, kind of like DVD extras. They’re all on the website. And I’ve sat down and put some serious thought into a sequel, even drafted out a few scenes.

Last question, James, and completely off topic.
If you found a magic stone that allowed you to travel back in time to any era, any location, where would you go and why?

I wouldn’t go that far back. March 30, 2012, about 9am. I’d walk into the gas station, buy a coffee, and play the lottery. Mega Ball. Numbers 46, 23, 38, 4, 2 and the Mega Ball 23. Then having been a part of the largest jackpot in U.S. history I would be able to free up a lot of my time to write more 😉

(this answer was provided before the mega jackpot for Powerball…LOL)

Now that you’ve seen the clever and creative side of James Lacey, let me shed more light on “Perseverance”. First, I’ll share an excerpt but keep reading because at the end is a fun video parody called “It’s a Zombie, Baby”. LOVE IT!!!

EXCERPT:

It is close at hand…

Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain:

let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: 
for the day of the LORD cometh, for it is nigh at hand;

A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness,

as the morning spread upon the mountains:
 a great people and a strong; there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it, even to the years of many generations.


A fire devoureth before them; and behind them a flame burneth:

the land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; 
yea, and nothing shall escape them.

Joel 2:1-3

When it happened I was excited – at first. I was a fan of the movies, the books, the games…all of it. So when those first reports came on the television and hit the net I was probably the most excited person on the planet. I mean, you always wonder “what if” when you see it in films, but then to have it actually happen, it really gets you going. That is, until they’re banging on your front door. Or the door of someone you really, truly care about. Someone you love.

That is when the excitement fades to fear. The fear can turn to horror. But right before that there is a brief moment where human instinct takes over and you choose to either fight or run. You don’t think, you just act. That is how I’m still alive. And it is probably why she is dead.

My story is not a happy one. It is not about heroics or unity or the fight to persevere. It is the story of survival. The only thing a person could really do during the crisis. It is the story of trying to protect someone you love and failing. It is a story of love, friendship and ultimately death. I’m not holding back. I am going to tell you everything. For some, this story will be harder to read then it was to write. For others, it won’t. Either way, this is my story. This is my account of the zombie apocalypse.

I was trying to be reassuring and bring my students back to the mood they were in before we stopped to eat, which not many were doing. But I knew there was something big going on.

I could hear the words “bioterrorism,” “widespread” and “thousands dead.” I could hear people talking about countries all over the world. CNN had this gorgeous new anchor,

Rebecca Mailey and I had a sort of boyhood crush on her. I was 29 and still entitled to fantasize about celebrities. So when she was the one who sent a chill down my spine, I thought it was sort of ironic and could not help but laugh. I’ll never forget the colorless look on her face when she uttered, “We are now getting scattered reports of incidents here in the United States.”

I never finished booting up my laptop. My instincts told me to get everyone out of the rest area and back on the bus. It was a quiet on the way home. I told everyone to call their parents and let them know that they were okay and would be home soon. As we boarded the bus two police cruisers went speeding in the opposite direction, sirens blaring. It was unnerving, given what we just heard. The rest of the ride home was dead quiet.

“It’s happening everywhere.”

“What is?”

“This…thing. People are dying. Riots happening everywhere. They said that there are drugs in the water supply that makes you want to hurt others. Then they said it wasn’t drugs, but a massive psychological event caused by a solar flare or something. Another guy said it’s been happening for a few weeks, but until now the government had it bottled up. And then…”

“Keith.” I had to stop him. The talking heads on TV had him all turned around.

“Yeah?”

“Take a breath. Clearly they don’t really know what is happening. So the question remains. Now, what do you know for sure? What do they know for certain? Think simple, Keith.”

“I don’t know. People are killing each other, I guess. They haven’t really said why or how, just that it’s happening.”

That part bothered me. If it were a terrorist event, then someone would be taking credit by now. If it were a disaster, then they would know the cause. Not knowing information…that is when I became hooked. That is when it became…interesting.

I looked up at the clock on the microwave. It was almost 10 AM. I really slept in late. I went and checked my cell phone. Seven missed calls? I realized then that I still had the phone on silent from the tournament. One call from Keith’s mom. Two from my parents? That was odd. Four from Ashley. Damn…I had promised to go over early this morning. She’s probably pissed right now. I went back into the bedroom and turned the TV on as I checked my voicemail.

“Hi, it’s Keith’s Mom. Sorry I’m home so late. Thanks for watching him.”

All over the country people are fighting against…

“It’s mom. Calling to see if you’re okay. Call me back.”

Military response is beginning to organize…

“I need you! Now! Please hurry! Call me back!”

We have confirmed video reports of…

“Why aren’t you answering?! Oh good…I hope…call me back…”

Rising from the dead and attacking…

“They’re outside! Help me! I need you! I need to hear your voice!”

It’s A Zombie, Baby    Video

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
When not writing, James Lacey lives in the Pocono Mountains of Northeastern Pennsylvania.

He works with adults and children as a paraprofessional and Special Olympics coach. James also enjoys hiking, camping and watching
football.

http://www.jameslacey.net/

http://www.twitter.com/JLaceyWrites

 

 

Perseverance: A Zombie Tale
James Lacey

Publisher: 23 House Publishing
Pages: 324

Genre: Horror

Book Description

It didn’t happen the way it was
supposed to…

I am a teacher. At least, I was before it all happened, before I was forced to survive. I taught social studies at the high school. I was
also the coach of the school’s successful debate team. It was a cold Saturday in January when I heard the first rumor of trouble…

You know, pop culture had defined the zombie apocalypse time and time again, all coming from the minds of horror writers, film producers, and video game designers. Who knew that when it really happened, it wouldn’t be anything like they all predicted. Oh sure, the dead reanimated, and they were certainly hungry for living flesh…but what were the mysterious red-eyes, zombies that moved faster than their stumbling counterparts and seemed to not only communicate, but to exert some kind of
control over the others.

Barnes and Noble Amazon

“James Lacey takes the classic zombie story that we all know and love, and then
twists it off into the new directions and unexplored territory. Perseverance is fresh,
exciting, and edge-of-the-seat spell-binding.”

– Samantha Murphy, 13 Nights of Blood: Legends of the Vampire

Spring Break Must Reads – Day 7

7 books in 7 days . . . .Spring Break Must Reads!

Day 1 – Her Highland Champion by Alexa Bourne

Day 2 – Moonlight on the Nantahala by Micheal Rivers

Day 3 – Legends of Tsalagee by Phil Truman

Day 4 – Two Moons of Sera by Pavarti K Tyler

Day 5 – Mending Fences by Lucy Francis

Day 6 – Sharpshooter by Kit Prate

Day 7 – Deadlocked by A.R. Wise

Zombies. It’s the next big thing. Vamps and Weres are holding their own but Zombies in post apocalyptic tales are definitely hot right now.

 So I’d heard the buzz about Deadlocked by A.R. Wise and decided to give it a try. Holy Moly…and then some. Mr. Wise has several books on Amazon right now. Deadlocked is the first in a series. If you enjoy this book, you’ll want to definitely pick up Deadlocked 2, 3 and 4.

And if you like zombies, you’re going to like this fast paced novella about a father trying to reach his family during a zombie outbreak. There’s no down time with this one, folks, so make sure you carve out enough time to finish the book before you start reading. It’s addictive. It’s action packed. Well written with realistic characters. And this is coming from a reader who is not a huge fan of zombie plots. Make sure you check out the author’s comments at the end of story. Fascinating!

Spring Break Must Read number 7 …. A big winner! And best of all, for a limited time it’s FREE on Amazon!

Deadlocked by A.R. Wise

That’s the end of my 7 Books in 7 Days blogs series for Spring Break. Hope you enjoyed them and found some interesting new authors to try while soaking up the sun on “sum beach”.