NaNoWriMo Tag

NaNoWriMo Tag

You may have noticed I’ve been somewhat absent this week…relying on pre-written book reviews, links, and blog tour posts to get me through. 🙂 Instead of blogging, I’ve been busy working on my NaNoWriMo novel. (For those of you who haven’t heard about it, November is National Novel Writing Month, and participants around the globe spend the month consuming large quantities of coffee and chocolate, and attempting to write a 50,000 word draft in 30 days.)

Fellow NaNoWriMo participant Trey Schnarr tagged me to do the NaNoWriMo tag, so I thought I’d take a break from my novel and give it a whirl. (Thanks Trey!) Be sure to go visit Trey, and if you’re doing NaNo this year, feel free to add me as a writing buddy.  This tag was created by Kristina Horner.

What was the name of the first novel you attempted with NaNo?
My first try (in 2013) was titled “When the Bough Breaks“. It was a ghost story.

Give us a 1 sentence summary of what you’re writing this year.
A young adult novel involving multiple-world theory as fact, and the ability of some individuals to pass between these worlds.

What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever been given?
This advice wasn’t actually given to me, but I relate to it completely. Sometimes the hardest part is just sitting still and starting. The only way to write is by DOING it, instead of thinking about it.

This is how you do it: you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until its done. It’s that easy, and that hard. ~Neil Gaiman

Did you ever take a year off from NaNo? Why?
I haven’t – 2013 was my first try and I have participated each year since.

What’s your biggest inspiration when figuring out what to write?
I keep a notebook with ideas in it and by the time November comes around, I usually have several to choose from. Last year, my novel was based on a dream I’d had a few weeks before. I don’t even know where this year’s idea came from – I’m sure I saw or heard something that triggered it, but characters just popped up in my head, along with a vague idea of where they were and what they were doing.

Read us the first sentence from one of your novels. Ok, I’m going to cheat a bit here and give you a paragraph. I’ve read the first sentence of each of them and realized that alone, they are not very exciting! 🙂 This is from this year’s novel.

I’m afraid of a lot of things. Mostly the same things everyone else is afraid of – spiders, rabid dogs, gypsy curses, cancer. I fear those things but I don’t dwell on them. What I’m most afraid of, what terrifies me every night while I’m lying alone in the dark trying to go to sleep, is the sound of footsteps coming up the stairs. And before you ask, no, I don’t live with some monster who beats me, no abusive step-father or evil uncle, no drunken mother coming to wake me so she can blame me for all of her own failings. My father died when I was just six, I barely remember him, and my mother is a kind, loving, normal (almost to the point of dullness) woman. It’s not who is on the stairs that I’m worried about. When I hear the footsteps, my mom is already in bed, asleep. I’ve heard the footsteps every night for almost two weeks now, and when I go into the hall to look, there is no one there.

Why do you love writing?
I love reading, and writing gives me the same kind of opportunity to enjoy a story, but while controlling the outcome.

I don’t know how many other NaNo participants might be reading this, but if you are one, then I tag you!


The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever

Author: Jeff Strand

Release Date: March 1, 2016

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Jeff Strand gives readers a sneak peek at his latest novel The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever, and shares his five favorite zombie movies:

Jeff Strand’s Five Favorite Zombie Movies:

My five favorite zombie movies are very similar to many other people’s five favorite zombie movies. I could’ve gone the condescending click-bait route and written about “The Five Best Zombie Movies You’ve Never Seen!” but, no, I’m going with my five real favorites….

 #5: DAWN OF THE DEAD (2004 version). I was one of the many people bellowing, “You can’t remake DAWN OF THE DEAD! This is blasphemy! Blasphemy!!!” But somehow this remake to a sequel (but not a sequel to the remake) turned out to be awesome. Not quite as good as the original (SPOILER ALERT: That’s #3 on this list) but one of my all-time favorites. 

 #4: RE-ANIMATOR. I’ve now seen plenty of movies that are more over-the-top insane than RE-ANIMATOR, but this was the first movie where I simply couldn’t believe what I was watching. It was hard to believe that a movie so dark and gruesome could be so funny. 

 #3: DAWN OF THE DEAD (1978 version). Shameful confession: When I first saw this in high school I thought it was stupid and boring. Fortunately, I matured and accepted that it’s one of the high points of zombie cinema. It’s the reason I know to duck before walking toward spinning helicopter blades.

 #2: RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD. Fast zombies long before 28 DAYS LATER! The first time zombies ate brains! It doesn’t often get the credit it deserves, but this is one of the most influential zombie movies ever.

#1: SHAUN OF THE DEAD. The greatest zombie comedy ever. The greatest zombie movie ever. The greatest MOVIE ever.


After producing three horror movies that went mostly ignored on YouTube, Justin and his filmmaking buddies decide it’s time they create something noteworthy, something epic. They’re going to film the Greatest Zombie Movie Ever. They may not have money or a script, but they have passion. And, after a rash text message, they also have the beautiful Alicia Howtz—Justin’s crush—as the lead.

 With only one month to complete their movie, a script that can’t possibly get worse, and the hopes and dreams of Alicia on the line, Justin is feeling the pressure. Add to that a cast of uncooperative extras and incompetent production assistants, and Justin must face the sad, sad truth. He may actually be producing The Worst Zombie Movie Ever…

About Jeff Strand:

Jeff Strand has written more than twenty books, and is a four-time nominee (and four-time non-winner) of the Bram Stoker Award. Two of his young adult novels, A Bad Day For Voodoo and I Have A Bad Feeling About This, were Junior Library Guild picks. Publishers Weekly called his work “wickedly funny.” He lives in Tampa, Florida.

Website | @JeffStrand

 Excerpt from The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever:

The vampire, whose fangs were too big for his mouth, turned to the camera and hissed.

“Don’t look at the camera,” said Justin Hollow, the director.

“I keep poking my lip on these things,” said Harold, spitting the plastic fangs out onto the ground. He hadn’t been a very frightening example of the undead before, and he was even less scary with no fangs and a thick line of drool running down his chin.

“Cut!” shouted Justin, loud enough to be sure that the command was heard by his production crew of two. “C’mon, Harold. Stay in character. We’re three hours behind schedule.”

“I don’t care. I hate this. You promised that I’d get all the girls I wanted. So where are all of the girls I want?”

Justin let out his thirty-ninth exasperated sigh of the night. “The movie has to come out first.”

“It’s not even a real movie.”

Justin bristled. It was a full body bristle, head to toe, which he hadn’t even realized was physically possible. Bobby, who handled sound recording, and Gabe, who handled everything else, both stepped back a couple of feet. Neither of them truly believed that they were about to witness a murder, but they wanted to get out of the splash zone, just in case.

Had this been one of Justin’s movies, he would have very slowly lowered his camera, stared directly into Harold’s eyes with a steel gaze, and then after an extremely dramatic pause asked “What…did…you…just…say?”

His actual response, delivered in a squeakier voice than he would have allowed from his actors, was: “Huh?”

“I said it’s not a real movie.” Harold started to wipe the fake blood off his mouth. It didn’t come off, and probably wouldn’t for several days. Justin had planned to feel guilty about this later, but now he wouldn’t bother. “Nobody’s ever going to see it. You probably won’t even finish it.”

“I finished my last three movies!” Justin insisted. “I got hundreds of hits on YouTube!”

That statement was technically accurate, though it was the lowest possible number of hits you could get and still use “hundred” in its plural form. The only comment anybody posted about his latest film had been “This twelve year-old filmmaker sort of shows promise,” which really frustrated Justin since he was fifteen.

Harold shrugged. “This is a waste of time. I’ve got better things to do on a Friday night.”

“Nobody ever said this was going to be easy,” said Justin, who had indeed said that it was going to be easy when luring Harold into the role. “You can quit now, but what are you going to think about your decision ten years from now?”

“I’m going to think, wow, it sure is nice to be such a well-paid dentist.”

Harold walked off the set. It wasn’t an actual set, but rather a small park near Justin’s home, where they were filming without a permit. Justin knew he should shout something after his ex-actor. Something vicious. Something devastating. He thought about shouting “You’ll never work in this town again!” but, no, it had to be something that Harold would consider a bad thing.

“Fine!” Justin shouted. “But when we record the audio commentary track for the Blu-Ray, I’m going to talk about how you abandoned us, and how much happier everybody was with the new actor who took your role, and how we all agreed that he should have been cast in the first place, and how he had so many girlfriends that he couldn’t even keep track of them, and how they all found out about each other and had a great big awesome catfight in his front yard! And I’ll pronounce your name wrong!”

Harold continued walking, apparently not heartbroken.


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Review – Blue Karma by J. K. Ullrich

Blue Karma by J. K. Ullrich

Blue KarmaDescription from Goodreads:

Water. It covers almost three-quarters of the planet, comprises more than half the human body, and has become the most coveted resource on Earth.

Amaya de los Santos survived the typhoon that left her an orphan. Now she scrapes by as an ice poacher, illegally harvesting fresh water for an always-thirsty market. But when she rescues an injured enemy soldier, she’s pulled into a storm of events more dangerous than any iceberg. After years of relying only on herself, she must learn to trust another…or risk losing all that’s left of her family…. 

Genre: Young Adult / SciFi
Rating: **** (4 of 5 stars)

Blue Karma is a young adult scifi story set in an arid future where water is scarce and most of the water supply for North America is controlled by a corporation called Nilak. Amaya is an engee, an environmental refugee, and works with ice pirates to support herself and her little sister, Sayuri. After Amaya finds an injured Nilak guard on an iceberg she is working, she finds herself embroiled in events that quickly escalate out of her control, and she has to fight to keep herself, her sister, and maybe even the world’s water supply safe from harm.

This is fast-moving novel, with a protagonist I could really root for. Amaya starts out bitter about the life she’s been given, but with reason. It takes her a while to warm up to and trust people, but she is fiercely loyal once she does. I couldn’t help but want the best for her and Sayuri. Young adult fans should enjoy this fun “cli-fi” story.

Note: I received a free review copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author:
J.K. UllrichJ.K. Ullrich likes to joke that she began writing environmental fiction at age six, when she won the local library’s Captain Planet essay contest. In the ensuing 20+ years, she earned a B.A. in English and pursued a successful career in analytical writing, although fiction remains her true passion. She published her first novel, Blue Karma, in 2015. When she’s not reading or writing, you can find her running on a favorite trail, jamming with a local cover band, or yelling at her baseball team.

Connect with J.K. online: Blog | Twitter @trulyjk

Top Ten Tuesday Roundup

Top Ten Tuesdays – 11/3/15

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Every Tuesday they post a new Top Ten list prompt. This Tuesday however, I’m pouring all of my energy into NaNoWriMo. Since I didn’t want to skip the post completely – I love going around to everyone’s blog and reading their lists 🙂 – I decided to do a quick round-up of other people’s lists for you to enjoy this week. It’s early and a lot of the blogs I follow haven’t had a chance to post their list yet, so If I missed yours, please leave a link in the comments so everyone can find you!

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