Interview with a Zombie

51aVfDU7BlL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_Okay, so he’s not really a zombie, but he did get cast as a zombie for a yet-to-be-released film. He’s also a new writer, whose first book is one all readers of zombie fiction will enjoy. Even those who don’t read zombie fiction might enjoy this story, as it is about more than flesh-eating creatures. Read on to meet P. Mark DeBryan and to learn more about Family Reunion.

First of all, thanks for taking time from your busy schedule to answer my questions.
You are quite welcome, Sara.

Please tell a little about your book, Family Reunion.
Well, the book began its life as a short story. It was created for John O’Brien and published in his book Untold Stories, which was a companion book to his series A NEW WORLD. He then allowed me to extend the story to a full length novel. It begins with our main character, Ryan, stuck on a ferry boat in the Puget Sound when the zombie apocalypse starts. In all honesty, they are not zombies, as they aren’t undead, but they prey on the living as a food source so they get lumped into the zombie genre. The book follows the entire Brant family as they are headed to a long overdue family reunion. Each group is coming from a different location in the USA and their goal is to survive and see if they can’t locate the others in the family. Some are driving, some are flying, and one is even in a luxury motor-coach.

How did you get into writing? Who are your inspirations?
As stated above, it was a contest of sorts; John O’Brien asked his fans to write short story based in his world. As far as inspirations? I would have to say Stephen King introduced me to the post-apocalypse genre, but John O was the one that got me going.

How is Family Reunion different than other zombie stories?
It is about family and the strength the characters get from each other to go on. The hope of reuniting and the different ways the crisis affects each member of the family. They are not trained soldiers, and most are just average people facing a completely devastating situation.

Can you give your readers a little glimpse into what Ryan and his gang of survivors will face in the next book?
Hmm … that would be cheating, but just between you and me, Sara? Ryan sets out with Maddie and Harry and a few others to go look for the ones they left behind at home. They travel in the Marathon Coach, which is a luxury RV with many prepper amenities. The story will follow them and also keep the reader abreast of what is happening back on Whidbey Island and those that stayed on there to begin clearing the place for use as a new freak-free sanctuary. Look for some major twists right off the bat; it should get interesting very quickly.

I know your family has been very supportive of your writing. I also know many of the characters are based on real-life family members. What do they think of being used as zombie-story material?
Some are mad at me for killing them off in the first story, more are mad that I killed their wives, daughters, husbands and such. Minor spoiler coming … my best friend in real life was the first to die. I did it in self- defense. I mean, who in the family can complain when I took out my best friend first, right? When I say they are mad at me, it is an exaggeration. They all are thrilled to be immortalized in the story, or so I tell myself.

Have you ever been a zombie?
As a matter of fact, yes. I just got home from the set of a new movie called My Uncle John is a Zombie. It was written and co-directed by John Russo, who co-wrote the original The Night of the Living Dead. I am a zombie in the movie, and it was a blast to be involved in the film. Several actors from the original movie are also in this one, with many new faces too. Gary Lee Vincent, who plays Oscar in the movie has become a close friend and was instrumental in getting me cast as an extra. My wife, Jonie, is in it also. We had so much fun that we may decide to run off to Hollywood together soon.

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Zombified Zombie Author

The movie is a Zom-Comedy, where John Russo’s character from The Night of the Living Dead escapes alive—or I should say not killed again from the sheriff’s wrath in the original—and is rescued by his niece and hid in her basement. She protects him and teaches him to be more selective in who he eats and the whole movie goes insane when he becomes a modern day celebrity.

I am seen wandering while chewing on an unidentified bit of intestine, and then again when I attack another character and end his career. (I will include a picture of me as the “Dude Zombie” for your pleasure.) If you would like to help the movie get distributed, you can help by donating at http://www.MyUncleJohnisaZombie.com, as it is an independent film just like us independent authors.

In a real-life zombie apocalypse, how long do you think you’d survive? Do you have a plan?
I have a plan, but I need more slow people to join me, as that is my plan. I don’t really think I would last long, as I have been told I am a sweet guy, and what zombie could resist that?

If you could see one non-zombie TV series get thrown into a zompoc scenario, which would you choose and why?
Hmm, let me think. Oh, I know. Survivor! Could you imagine the hilarity that would ensue as the zombies chase the cute blond girl down the beach, or a horde shows up to the immunity challenge. Oh yeah, that would be good TV there. The tribe has spoken/groaned, it’s time for you to go!

List five things about yourself that your readers probably don’t know.
– I went to seminary for two years to become a Baptist Preacher.
– I had a crepe restaurant when I was seventeen called DeBo’s Place.
– My nickname throughout my Coast Guard career was Breezly.
– The Pirate Parrot was a friend of mine.
– I was an honorary member of Jeff Gordon’s pit crew at his last race in NASCAR … Don’t tell Jeff, somebody might get fired!

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Jeff Gordon’s honorary pit crew member.

Visit Mark’s website. He’s got a fun blog going there. Author P. Mark DeBryan

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Author Interview: M.C. Allen

Last we51YS-anwh-L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_ek’s interview was with author William Allen. It’s not a coincidence that this week’s author has the same last name. That’s because they are brothers. I’ve had the honor and pleasure of working with both of these men, and all I can say is their parents must have done something right.

They don’t know this, but for a while, I suspected William and M.C. were the same person (sort of like Latoya and Michael). They’re both witness-protection-program private and don’t have profile pictures. Plus, I’ve never seen the two of them in the same place at the same time. But now that I’ve gotten to know them a tiny bit, I do believe they are separate people.

I wanted to feature M.C. this week because he just published his first book. Not a short story, not a novella, but a full-fledged, full-length novel. His book takes place in the Walking in the Rain world. If you haven’t read William Allen’s Walking in the Rain series, you should because his books are great. But it’s not necessary to read them in order to enjoy M.C. Allen’s Firestorm. The characters are different and it reads like its own, unique story.

And now, read on to find out more about M.C. Allen.

Please tell a little about yourself.
I’m a full-time classroom teacher. Firestorm represents my first foray into writing fiction. I have a teaching degree in English and Biology from a small university in East Texas. William Allen is my older brother, and except for my wife, he probably knows me the best.

What is Walking in the Rain: Firestorm about?
Firestorm takes place at the same time as William Allen’s book Dark Sky Thunder. The characters in my story are trying to find a safe haven, and along the way they find some friends. They also run into some people who need a good killing. Firestorm is a little darker that the rest of the series.

What went through your mind when you finished your first book and finally hit that publish button?
Oh crap? What have you done? I panicked. I literally panicked that I had done something wrong. I understand the self-doubt that real artists go through with their work. I feel like a fraud putting my work out there next to all of the other great authors.

What did you learn in the process of writing Firestorm?
To me, the writing of the story was the easy part. Once I completed my first chapter, the rest of the novel wrote itself. My dad once said that parts of his book took on a life of its own.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?
I’m going to still be in education, but probably not in the junior high level. In the next two years I plan to complete my second Masters, or possibly go for my Doctorate in education. I definitely do not want to be a principal! No amount of money can compensate me for that kind of pain.

Do you like piña coladas?
I like just about anything with alcohol!

Of all your characters, who are most like? Is there a character you’d like to be more like?
I’m a lot like my character David. Slightly insane? Yep. Prone to irrational rage? Check. I would like to be more like Joseph. He has an even disposition and he tries to be rational.

Have you ever eaten grubs? If so, how did you like them? If not, go eat some and get back to me.
We grew up poor on a farm, but not that poor. I have sampled dried dog food and cattle feed at one time.

How do you find time to write? What is the best time of day for you when it comes to writing? What is the worst time of day?
I try to write at night before bed and on the weekends. I can’t write in the morning at all. My brain is too fuzzy before noon, and coffee only makes me jittery. I did write most of Chapter One of Firestorm at one of those meetings that are mandatory for teachers but unpaid.

You obviously have a good relationship with your brother, William. Did you always get along with each other? What is your favorite memory with your brother and/or family?
We used to fight like a pair of junkyard dogs. We are only 18 months apart in age, so I was the annoying little brother throughout grade school. My favorite memory was when my younger brother Chris got back from his tour with the Marines in Iraq. We had a blowout party, but the memory of all of us boys with our dad in a picture reminds me of that happy day.

Qqqqqqqqqwewqwweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqop[? (That question is from my cat)
Yes, I like catnip too, but it makes my heart race.

Do you listen to music when you write? If so, what? If you don’t listen to music when you write, when do you listen to music and what kind do you like?
I don’t listen to music when I write. I try to keep the distractions down when I’m working. I do like classic rock and a little country, but not the new crap. I’m not a prude though. I’ll jam out to pop on my way to work just to get the synapses firing.

How ready are you for a worldwide, apocalyptic SHTF (sh*t hits the fan) scenario? What do you think is most likely to happen to cause TEOTWAWKI (the end of the world as we know it)? An EMP; economic collapse; zombies; war, alien invasion, epidemic … or is there something else that maybe you know about that the rest of us don’t?
In a SHTF situation, I’ll be good for about six months. I think we will eventually slide into an economic collapse. This house of cards cannot be supported at the current rate of consumption. Eighteen trillion in debt? What happens when that bill is due? If we write that off, the world economy would go into a tailspin. Look at the austerity movement in Greece. That didn’t fix anything but make people more angry and resentful of their elected leaders. An EMP might actually be a godsend. Zap! All electronic debt could be wiped out in a split second.

Do you think people are inherently good or inherently evil?
People are people. They will jump good or bad based on how they were raised. I see it in my classrooms daily. A child will respond to someone in a positive way if they were raised correctly.

Do you have any scars? How did you get them?
My left thumb has a dime-sized scar from my experience with high voltage and a floor buffer in Germany. That is my most obvious scar. The farm left me with all sorts of interesting stories. Barbed wire fences gave me some good ones.

Of the following 1970s TV shows, which would you prefer to be in when society collapses, and why? A) Welcome Back Kotter; B) The Jeffersons; C) Gilligan’s Island; or D) Starsky and Hutch
I’ll take the island. At least there are coconuts! I’m taking Gilligan out day one though. The Skipper will be held in reserve for when the food runs out.

Let’s say you only have a roll of Duct Tape, a few Sporks, and can of Silly String. What kind of weapon could you create out of them to fight off zombies and/or bad guys during an apocalypse?
Without anything else? I can see using the duct tape to make some sort of fighting gloves with the sporks used for sharp pointy things. The Silly String doesn’t have much use except for the metal can. If I can bend it enough, I can make a sharp edge for creating a makeshift shank.

What’s next for you in terms of writing? Will there be a sequel to Firestorm?
I’m trying my hand at young adult fiction right now. I don’t have a projected completion time for it, but I feel that Christmas time is doable. I want to tell the story of David trying to hold his neighborhood right after the pulse. This is where he starts to lose it and “go hunting.”

What are your superpowers and/or secret talents?
I can’t tie a cherry stem into a knot, but I do know how to write lesson plans like a fiend. Ooh, I just remembered something! I know the secret to making Sonic’s onion rings. I worked as a cook and assistant manager where I discovered the inner workings of a fast food establishment. I do know my way around a reloading bench, so I make my own ammunition.

Where can readers find your book?
Firestorm: Walking in the Rain Book 5 is available from Amazon.com as an ebook. I anticipate having the hard copies ready by December.

National Novel Writing Month & Me, Part 1

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It’s that time of year again; November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). The goal of this challenge is to write 50,000 words during the month of November. I participated last year and, while I didn’t meet the 50K goal, I did produce about 33,000 words, which put my already-in-progress novel up to over 55,000 words. I don’t feel bad that I didn’t meet the NaNoWriMo goal. I wrote more than I’ve ever written before and that felt great.

I’m still working on the same book. I haven’t made much progress since last year, but I’ve learned so much from editing that I don’t see the time as being lost. Editing forces me to evaluate stories and ways to make them even better than they are. It also introduces me to a wide range of writing styles, techniques, and skills. I’ve also been reading books about writing—partly for my benefit and partly for the benefit of my clients.

With a new perspective and fresh ideas, I’ve restarted my novel. I decided I need to trim down the story, narrow its focus, and make my words more concise. I don’t think it was bad before, but I know it can be better.

My main characters are the same—they won’t let me forget them. But how they meet is different, events that transpire leading up to the action of the story have changed, and some unnecessary scenes have been cut. I’ve probably eliminated about 20K words. In some ways, it’s discouraging, but I also know the story will be better for it.

So, in two days, I’ll be pounding out the story again. I hope to reach the 50K word goal this year. It would be nice to finish this book and publish it so I can move on to the next one.

Good news (to me) is I finally came up with a title for my book! I struggle with titles. With short stories, I usually come up with one after I write it. But with NaNoWriMo coming up, I thought it would be good to have a name for my work in progress.

What is it? I’m not going to say … yet. That’ll be another blog post.

Interested in giving National Novel Writing Month a try? Check it out here: NaNoWriMo

So Happy to be a Part of This!

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Cover Art by André Vazquez

Bite-Sized Offerings: Tales & Legends of the Zombie Apocalypse

I haven’t blogged for a while (surprise, surprise). My excuse? The same excuse most people have for not doing the things they enjoy—work. For me, that means editing and proofreading. That is a good thing…no, that’s a great thing. I enjoy doing what I do and I love the people I get to work with.

If you didn’t already know this, the independent author community is filled with some of the most generous, kind people I’ve met. Ever. Sure, there are a few bad apples in the barrel, just like in any community, but I won’t go there.

Tonight, I’m going to focus on some good ones…specifically, the ones who gave their time, creative talents, money, and support to a project designed to help a friend, whose daughter needs heart valve replacement surgery.

The friend: A supporter, provider of encouragement, friend, and promoter of many independent authors who write dystopian and post-apocalypse fiction. This beautiful woman goes out of her way to help others when needs arise. She has organized auctions, online fundraising, and gives financially when she can. She is a generous soul.

The reason: Emalee.
She is Mysti’s thirteen-year-old daughter. Em has an extra chromosome. That means she was born with Down Syndrome. Em has had several surgeries in her young life and will soon be going through one of the most important surgeries of them all. She needs her heart valve replaced. As we all know, not all medical expenses are covered through insurance. There are many expenses that those with a chronically ill child pay out-of-pocket: second and third opinions, specialists, travel…just to name a few.

Almost everyone needs help at some time in their life. This is one of those times for Mysti and her family.

The project: Bite-Sized Offerings: Tales & Legends of the Zombie Apocalypse

The Background: This all began from a casually tossed out idea on Facebook. I used my author page to start a conversation about zombie fiction for kids. I was lamenting the lack of good, age-appropriate zombie books for my sons and former students who love zombies. A friend and fellow author…we’ll call her Lori (cuz that’s her name) threw out the idea of putting together an anthology of zombie stories for kids.

I must have been in my I-can-conquer-the-world mode, because I thought it sounded like a great idea. But only if the money—assuming the book would sell—went to a kid-related charity. But which one? Who would be the beneficiary of our vast wealth? Who could use a whopping five bucks?

Lori suggested Mysti. It was one of those moments when you say, “Of course! Why didn’t I think of that?” Emalee and her brother, Mason, love zombies. It was meant to be.

Then I put it on the back burner. Exit: I-can-conquer-the-world-and-everyone-in-it mode; Enter: I-want-to-hide-from-the-world-and-live-in-a-dark-cave mode. 

Fortunately, Lori, a dynamo of a woman, wouldn’t let it go. She got the ball rolling and I got excited about it again. I envision it like this: Lori packed a fistful of ice, rolled it over one author, who said, “Heck ya! I want to be a part of this!” She grazed it past another author, who also said yes! Those authors rolled the ball over more authors who wanted to help Mysti. And it grew. It…ready for this?…it snowballed. I’m a So Cal native; humor me while I talk about something I know nothing about.

Before we knew what was happening, more authors stepped up, wanting to be a part. Why? Mysti; that’s why. 

I’ll spare you all the wonderful details…the contracts, the editing, deciding on a title, working with the cover artist, etc. The bottom line is, we ended up with thirty-four awesome zombie stories. Each one is unique. All of them are appropriate for middle school-aged kids. The quality of the stories make the book appealing to all fans of zombie fiction.

All profit goes to Mysti to help with Emalee’s health- and surgery-related expenses.

The contributors:  From three different countries, all different backgrounds, and with different takes on the zombie apocalypse. One common goal: to help a mutual friend in need.

W.J. LundyShawn ChesserArmand RosamiliaTed NultyMichael RobertsonHeath StallcupSaul TanpepperMike EvansBrian ParkerJ. RudolphT.W. PiperbrookVeronica SmithJack WallenA.R. ShawJohn Gregory HancockWilliam AllenMichelle BryanP Mark DeBryanS.G. LeeJames DeanShannon WaltersShaun PhelpsJoseph CautilliMarisha CautilliEdward P CardilloAdrianne LemkeToni L.H BoughtonH.J. HarryJeffrey ClareChris BosticRich BakerCedric NyeGreg P. FerrellAllen GamboaLori FontanezE.S. OakesAndrew KishTorchbearer Editing Services

A is for Authors

A[1]A is for Authors

I love my little world of independent authors. Some are friends and some are clients… and many I consider to be both.

Social media has made it easy to connect with many independent authors, and what I’ve found is most of them are down-to-earth, humble, friendly people.

There are those who don’t think of independent authors as “real” writers because they aren’t published by one of the big-name publishing houses. I admit, I have read some pretty crappy self-published books, but there also is a lot of talent out there.

Many independent authors’ e-books are free, on Kindle Unlimited, or are much less expensive than the traditionally published authors. I had the “what have I got to lose” mentality when I downloaded my first few free books on Amazon. In return, I’ve been introduced to a whole new world of authors and genres.

I encourage you to check out some independent authors… you might be pleasantly surprised.

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Through a Mirror Darkly

My First Independently Published Book & Why I Wrote It

Through a Mirror Darkly is a short story I wrote under my pen name a couple months ago. I self-published it last month through Amazon. I wrote it originally for an anthology that was published this month. It has been categorized as a horror story, but it’s more than that.

When I think of horror stories, I think of crazy, knife-carrying clowns with fangs chasing a group of horny teenagers at a deserted camp. Through a Mirror Darkly has a paranormal element to it, but it’s also very loosely based on my own experiences with familial and personal depression.

When I wrote it, I didn’t think it would end up being therapeutic for me, but it was. I never had a chance to say goodbye to my mom when she died. I hadn’t seen her in over 35 years. After my parents separated, she tried to kill herself. I was barely seven when I heard her crying out from the other room. To this day, the memory of finding my mom on the floor, begging for help wrenches my heart.

After that, my dad got custody of my brother, sisters, and me. She was eventually released from the hospital and given visitation rights every other weekend. Despite her therapies and medications, she was not emotionally healthy and tried a few more times to take her own life.

Eventually, she stopped coming to pick us up for our weekends. The last time I saw her, I was nine years old. I never really missed her… maybe because her withdrawal from our lives was so gradual. Maybe it was because I was such a daddy’s girl. The only thing I was ever angry about was having to find her the first time she attempted suicide. More than anything, I hated the pity people would express when they found out I didn’t have a mom.

Looking back, I realize I spent my life in the shadow of my mom’s suicide attempts and depression. I was adamant that I would not be like her. I would never be weak like I thought she must have been. When I had my first child, I was even more resolved that I would be nothing like her. And I was a great mom: attentive, patient, happy, ambitious. For the first time, I resented her for leaving her children because I could not understand how anyone could do that.

Then, I had my second child. I knew something was wrong in my last trimester. I grew depressed, anxious, and obsessed about irrational things. I told nobody and figured it would go away after I got to hold my baby in my arms, but it only got worse. He seemed to cry all the time, he was a horrible nurser, and nobody but me could hold him. At the same time, my three year old demanded my attention.

I sank into a dark place. I found myself resenting my baby. I started having anxiety attacks when he would cry. I remember wondering if I could place him for adoption. I was sure someone would be a better parent to him. I didn’t want to admit I was “weak” like my mom. I spent my life being everything she wasn’t. I spent my life not being what she was.

Around this time, Brooke Shields wrote a book about her experience with postpartum depression called Down Came the Rain. I do not know where I would be if that book hadn’t ended up in my hands. As I read about her depression, I realized something: this beautiful, intelligent, talented woman was admitting she needed help overcoming her depression.

I decided that was where I would be different from my mom. I would get help before it was too late. I had to be strong enough to admit that I was weak. I was ashamed and embarrassed, but I did seek help because of my love for my boys. With the help of antidepressants, I became more like the “old” me again. I still struggle with depression and anxiety, and I still take medication for it.

When I found out my mom passed away a couple years ago, I felt I needed to do something to “release” her… to let her know I finally understood her. I needed to let her know that she had my forgiveness.

My goodbyes to her were put on the back burner, however. The same day I learned of her passing, my dad was undergoing surgery. Complications arose and he almost died. From that time on, his health deteriorated. He almost died several times in the months that followed. Emotionally, I couldn’t focus on my mom’s death. My dad had priority. He died five months ago and I miss him terribly. I always thought my first book would be dedicated to him, but as the story, Through a Mirror Darkly, wrote itself, I realized it was a book for my mom. It was my way to say goodbye, to let her go with my forgiveness.

I’ve always found comfort in writing, and this story was no different. It also brought healing. I believe in the afterlife. I believe she needed to know that she is forgiven. I feel I needed to tell her this for her sake and mine. I hope she has finally found peace and wholeness.

If you are interested in the fictional account of my story, you can get it on Amazon. It’s less than a buck and if you have Kindle Unlimited, you can read it for free. If you do read it, please leave a review on Amazon. Reviews help independent authors like me. Thank you!51AiuzkwVtL._SX312_BO1,204,203,200_ (1)