Archive

Posts Tagged ‘left with the dead’

“Remastering”, AKA Rewriting

May 16, 2017 3 comments

About two years ago or so, I released a co-authored work that frankly sucked balls. It was so bad that I unpublished it, deleted all references where it where I could, and downed many a bottle of Patrón silver in an attempt to purge the exercise from my mind. (The most fitting dénouement–being unable to remove it from my Amazon Author page. Damn me, cursed for all eternity!) To be honest, I’d created the basic storyline–man searches for son in zombie-filled Los Angeles–and after providing my co-writer with a copy of Left with the Dead and the sage advice to “make it like this,” I thought I was done.

Yeah, I was done all right: like “done in.” What was produced was such a steaming pile that I couldn’t save it in the short amount of time that I had to work on it. Golly, does James Patterson ever have this problem? But at least those folks who bought the paperback edition have something handy should emergency bowel issues arise. Hey, who said paper was dead?

This is hardly the way I open a post when hawking my latest ware, so bear with me a bit. Every now and then, a person can succumb to the most basic of deficiencies, most notably laziness and greed, so some mea culpa is probably prescribed. And laziness and greed are where my prior ill-fated partnership took me, pairing up with an author who, while talented, didn’t have the chops for what he was being tasked to do. I should have seen it, and should have stepped out of it right away. But, alas! Sometimes, stupid is as stupid does.

So flash forward a couple of years. Every now and then, I would pull this work out of the dustbin and do some body and fender work on it. Replacing a panel here, banging out a dent there, fabricating a whole new clip and fascia. What I began with was a quasi-comical story about a bumbling moron who, almost by magic, manages to find his son in the ruins of L.A. With some deliberate afterthought and the application of what meager writerly skill I possess, I managed to reimagine the work into what it always should have been: a tense story about a man slowly unraveling almost as quickly as the city around him as he searches for his kid. Along the way, he helps those he can, and turns his back on those he can’t. It’s sometimes callous, but for him, it’s all about his son. Like the stenches that pursue him existing only to feed, he lives only to find his boy.

As the father of a severely special needs kid, I at least can relate to that. And that’s the thing: I could never, ever, relate to the previously-described character in my titular co-author’s work.

I lined this up with the same timeline as The Last Town series, which also takes place (albeit partially) in Los Angeles. While there is no real-time interaction between the characters in this work and that one, they do actually lay eyes on each other. As Reese, Bates, and the others are fleeing the Hollywood Bowl, Wallace is skulking northward through Redondo Beach. And while the survivors of LAPD’s Hollywood Station make their way to eventual safety, Wallace has to contend with a metropolis that is filling with more and more ghouls every day.

In the first book, the lead character was a Hollywood stuntman. That was interesting; I know some stunt folks, and they’re pretty interesting men and women. But the character in the old book was nothing like them; no courage, no forethought, no ability to look at a gag and know it wasn’t going to work. In this work, Wallace is also involved in “the business”–he’s working on an incubating TV series for Gary Norton, a dramatic representation of Wallace’s time with the US Border Patrol–but that’s about it. More importantly, as a former USBP official, Wallace has some skills. Not the same type as, say, Dave Gartrell in The Gathering Dead, but enough to make his survival in the zompoc at least more credible. He doesn’t depend on luck and happenstance to get out of bad situations; he pulls himself through them, by his bootstraps if necessary. That was something in the original that made my clench my teeth in near anger; the original hero was so unworthy of surviving that it had me screaming into my hands.

So I changed that shit.

If you can manage it, look for Dead in L.A. at the end of the month. Hopefully, it’s about 40,000 times better than its ill-fated forerunner.

 

And if not? You know who to blame. No co-author to hide behind this time…it’s all on me. (Though if you want to blame WJ Lundy or Craig DiLouie, I’m all for it. Actually, no…blame Shawn Chesser. The guy doesn’t even drink, so how trustworthy is he, really?)

 

Advertisements

Make it a Zombie August: THE GATHERING DEAD Omnibus

August 1, 2016 2 comments

Omnibus Edition Cover

It’s August, which means the dog days of summer are fast approaching. Usher them in with some head-banging zombie adventure: The Gathering Dead Omnibus is still available! Almost 900 pages of high-octane, military-on-zombie action that spans the globe! Just like summer, this edition won’t last forever, so get it while the getting is good!

THE GATHERING DEAD Omnibus Edition

June 24, 2016 1 comment

Omnibus Edition Cover

For a limited time only, I’m offering the entire Gathering Dead series in a single volume. This includes:

A really crummy cover!

The Gathering Dead

Left with the Dead

The Rising Horde: Volume 1

The Rising Horde: Volume 2

The Farm

All of the text has been lightly refreshed to correct some typos and inconsistencies, but those of you who have already bought the series shouldn’t be compelled to buy it again. This release has a limited shelf life, as the universe of The Gathering Dead will be gaining two new additions: the prequel, Whispers of the Dead, and the final book which will close out this segment of the cycle, Echoes of the Dead.

This release is priced at $5.99 for over 850 pages of zombie mayhem, so if you’re new to the genre, pick it up and enjoy!

Visit The Gathering Dead: Omnibus Edition for your copy now!

$609.37

$609.37…that’s what I’ll be donating to AutismSpeaks.org, thanks to you guys and your purchases of Left with the Dead. Bravo, folks…it’s for a great cause, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart!

April is Autism Awareness Month…

April 1, 2013 8 comments

Left With The Dead, A "Gathering Dead" Novella

Art for Left With The Dead, A “Gathering Dead” Novella. Artwork by Jared Rackler

…and both Gartrell and McDaniels want you to push Left with the Dead on everyone you know, because all proceeds for this month will be donated to Autism Speaks. The crusty first sergeant might have failed in his mission, but you can complete yours, and without fighting the dead. Autism is everywhere, folks. Do what you can to help the professionals figure it out, so parents with those afflicted might one day find some respite from the constant worry that always gnaws at them. And bonus points for helping those who have fallen victim to the disorder, as well!

For myself, my little boy was diagnosed with autism when he was about three. He doesn’t speak, has some emotional distress conditions, but he’s beautiful and happy. Poppa Knight and Momma Knight ship him off to the best schools in the area, and we keep him growing and learning as best as we can. Despite everything we do, though, his road will be a hard one. So give a kid a hand and tell folks there’s this little book out there that might add some pennies to the war effort, eh?

I don’t normally post personal pictures and the like here, but I’ll bust open the piggy bank this time. Say hello to my son, Brian.

Brian

EARTHFALL Print Cover (and some non-related errata)

March 2, 2013 3 comments

The talented and just plain old über-cool Jeroen ten Berge turned in his cover for the print edition of Earthfall yesterday, and I have to say, it’s a nice one. For those who aren’t familiar with his work, he’s probably most widely known as Blake Crouch’s artist of choice–check out his covers for Blake’s excellent novels Pines, Abandon, and Snowbound, as well as the trendsetting illustration for RUN.

EARTHFALL Print Cover...ain't it purty?

EARTHFALL Print Cover…ain’t it purty?

Some thanks to Craig DiLouie for his cover blurb, and of course, the long-suffering Derek Paterson for his work on the product description, something I’m horrible at. Additional kudos to Joe LeBert, ultra-amazing author Fred Anderson, Scott Wolf, and ton of other folks.

And, oh yeah…thanks to those of you who bought Earthfall and actually liked it! It’s always a thrill to see a release creep up the charts, especially in a different genre.

Errata: the free period for White Tiger came to a close yesterday, and the numbers were almost 3,000 downloads in the US, and a surprising 685 in the UK. While giving away books for free seems like a dumb business move, it actually translated into some great sales–5 in the US in one day, and 14 in the UK. That’s a month’s worth of sales right there, and it’s also generated a few borrows through Amazon’s Prime program, for which I’ll get a couple of bucks as well. If this trend continues, Derek and I will have the best month ever for this book. Not a tough feat, since the highest sales numbers to date have been 21 in one month.

I’ve pulled The Gathering Dead from the other ebook sites and entered it into Amazon’s Prime program, as well. This gives me the opportunity to offer it for free, with the hope that it would spawn substantial sales of Left with the Dead and the two The Rising Horde books. I haven’t decided when–or even if–I’ll take this step, since The Gathering Dead is still my primary money-maker, but it is something to consider.

Anyway, that’s all for now, crew. Thanks for your patronage, and I hope this weekend is full of fun and excitement for all.

Interview: A Pair of Characters

February 10, 2013 7 comments

interview2

Today, I present you with a little something different: an interview with two crusty, surly Sergeants Major. One you know, from his role in The Gathering Dead series of books. The other makes his debut in the upcoming post-apocalyptic science fiction advenure, Earthfall.

In the left corner: Sergeant Major David Gartrell, still bloody and stinky from taking down untold numbers of stenches with everything from his AA-12 to an acetylene bomb. For those who might be interested, Gartrell is on the blond side, about five foot nine to five foot ten, and hardly an iron pumper…unless the heavy iron happens to be an M2 .50 caliber, in which case, he’s all over it. He’s a lifetime member of the NRA, and he subscribes to Guns & Ammo magazine under three different names, just in case he misses an issue.

In the right corner: Command Sergeant Major Scott Mulligan, also still bloody and stinky from his struggles against a pack of demented, cannibalistic survivalists in the shattered remains of San Jose, California. It should be noted that Mulligan is sporting the additional dimension of “battered.” Where Gartrell exudes a quiet sense of confidence and ability, Mulligan exudes a “I’m going to twist your head off and play some basketball with it” vibe that is made even more compelling due to his six-foot-six-inch height.

Stephen Knight: Hey, guys. Thanks for dropping by my mind.

Gartrell: It wasn’t voluntary.

Mulligan: Yeah, you really get off pulling the God strings, don’t you?

SK: Let’s, uh, let’s not make it too combative, okay?

Mulligan: Is “fuck you” being too combative? I got things to do.

Gartrell: What, another toenail painting session in your calendar?

Mulligan: Look, kid—you made it into print before I did, but I was thought up in 1983. Show your elders some respect.

Gartrell: Dude, we’re both in our early fifties.

Mulligan: Knight, can you make him sixty?

SK: I’ll make that a takeaway. All right, let’s get to it. Gartrell, what’s the worst thing about being in The Gathering Dead universe?

Gartrell: Gee, let’s think about that. [Pauses] Yeah, I’d have to say it’s the whole my-family-turned-into-zombie-things-after-I-wrestle-with-my-innermost-feelings-for-shooting-an-autistic-kid story arc you put me through. Thanks for that, by the way. You’re a sweetheart. If I were real, I’d pin you to a wooden chair by driving a sixteen penny nail through that tiny little bag that passes for your scrotum and light you on fire.

SK: Ah…ah, Mulligan? What’s the worst thing about the post-apocalypse world of Earthfall?

Mulligan: A distinct lack of tiki bars.

SK: Come again?

Mulligan: [Points to Gartrell] Listen, pal, you didn’t like it when he told you the truth, what makes you think my response is going to be happily received?

SK: Come on, Mulligan—

Mulligan: All right. Okay. Let’s see, I think I can work with this. You saddled me with a past that I have nightmares about. I’m trapped in an underground base with around three hundred and seventy five pinheads who are afraid of me, and the only person who really talks to me is a two-star general. Other than the expected lack of witty repartee such a relationship usually engenders—I mean, I’m sure all my off-camera scenes with Benchley consist of me smiling and saying such things like, “Oh, you really loved In-N-Out Burger? That’s great, sir,” and “You preferred the golf course at Fort Bliss as opposed to the one at Fort Knox, and gosh damn, you’re upset that the nukes came between you and your improving handicap?”—it’s a pretty morose existence you gave me. +1 for you being a dick, but -10 for blowing me up.

SK: Hey, you lived! And you didn’t even lose any limbs!

Mulligan: Yeah, but I was fucking unconscious when the girls in the SCEV were giving me sponge baths! What the hell is wrong with you? I mean, you give Mike Andrews a hot wife, and then you make her hate me for killing her parents, and then you force us serve on the same mission together. Thanks for that. You’re as much fun as a limp pecker at an orgy.

SK: All right, point taken. Sorry, guys, but making you suffer is what draws in the audience. Gartrell, would you agree with that?

Gartrell: What? Sorry, I fell asleep–is Mulligan done talking? For someone who’s supposed to be tall, dark, and silent, he sure does bitch and moan a lot, doesn’t he?

Mulligan: What’s the matter, Gartrell? Are you still upset that I was patterned after Charlton Heston, and you were inspired by a landscaper Knight worked for in 1981?

Gartrell: [To SK] Is this true?

SK: Well…physically, yes. You do look a lot like a guy I worked for back when I—

Gartrell: Wow. I guess any chance this interview might be therapeutic just went out the window. Really, Knight, how far under the water are you going to push me?

Mulligan: You want some advice? Put on some swim trunks.

Gartrell: Charlton Heston wore a hair piece. Do you?

Mulligan: You can try and pull my hair, but it’s gonna cost you.

Gartrell: What, you’re going to keep talking? I killed like eleventy-million carnivorous corpses, butt-wipe. You think you can intimidate me?

SK: Guys—

Mulligan: Gartrell, you couldn’t even figure out what to do if you suddenly found yourself trapped under a sleeping Armenian. Of course, I hear that kind of thing happens to you often. My tactical assessment: You need to stay out the Turkish bath houses.

Gartrell: Oh, yeah. Says the guy who took a multimillion dollar rig outside and drove it right into a freaking nuclear explosion. You’re a fucking rocket scientist, Mulligan. And you probably kept on talking as the shock wave rolled over you.

SK: Guys, guys! Time out! Look, let’s try this. Gartrell, are you ready for a sequel to The Rising Horde?

Gartrell: Screw that. Put me in a prequel to The Gathering Dead, where I’m still something like a human being. Give me some righteous snappy dialog with McDaniels, and explain just how the hell he and I got mixed up together again. I mean, I hated the guy. And you teamed us up? To repeat my esteemed colleague’s question, what in the hell is wrong with you?

SK: So, uh…a prequel, huh?

Gartrell: It would make some sense there, Copernicus. Call it something like The Day Before the Dead. Or even better, just make me the headline act: Dave Gartrell: Porn Star.

Muligan: There we go. Let him do the horizontal bop with a bunch of zombies. That’ll sell real well. We can give you a new nickname: “franchise killer.”

Gartrell: Y’know, I’m beginning to think you weren’t modeled after Heston, after all. I’m thinking you’re more like Piers Morgan, only in this instance, that left-wing douche bag lobsterback is eminently more entertaining to listen to.

Mulligan: Now, you listen to me, you sack of—

SK: Mulligan! Interested in appearing in a sequel to Earthfall?

Mulligan: Huh…you have me poised to get it on with a girl who’s half my age, and whose IQ is about four times higher than Gartrell’s. And she’s smoking hot. So unless I took a couple of rounds to my nuts in San Jose, what the hell do you think? Hell yes, I’m ready for a sequel!

Gartrell: Whoa, whoa…wait a second, here. This idiot’s going to get romantically involved…with something other than a blow-up doll? Are you kidding me, Knight? I mean, he practically has to pour alcoholic drinks into his right hand for two hours before he can get lucky solo, and now he’s going to get to have a relationship? Please tell me you modeled his future romantic partner after someone in keeping with his decade…Bea Arthur?

SK: I was thinking more along the lines of Jessica Alba, actually—

Mulligan: [Laughs] Yes! Hear that? Read it and weep, Smelly Gartrelly—the book comes out around February 15th. Though I’m sure reading isn’t high on your list of skills, so in your case, maybe you should wait for the audio book. I’ll try and get Knight to crack open the coffers so he can hire Jessica Alba to say my name all breathy and hot and stuff during the recording sessions. You’ll love it, trust me.

Gartrell: Knight…this ain’t right.

Mulligan: Oh, now he’s a poet. Here’s one you might like, tiny. It’s called “Fleas,” and it goes like this: “Adam had ‘em.” Impressed?

Gartrell: [Points at Mulligan] This guy is gonna get laid in the next book he’s in?

SK: Well…I haven’t decided it yet, I really only have a thumbnail of a plotline—

Mulligan: If I don’t get laid, I’m going to kill you. And everyone else inside of Harmony Base.

SK: But…but you’re not real, Mulligan.

Mulligan: I’ve haunted your dreams since 1983, pal. Think again.

Gartrell: Two can play that game, Knight. All I’ve gotten out of this duty is a quip to give a Ranger O-6 a lap-dance, and that ain’t cuttin’ it.

Mulligan: A lap-dance? Are you sure you’re not a Marine?

Gartrell: I don’t get laid in the next book, we’re done, pal. I’ll give you a case of writer’s block you wouldn’t believe. You won’t be able to write a fucking email by the time I’m done. [To Mulligan] And just to set the record straight, “Chuck Heston,” the books I’m in have sold over fifty thousand editions, print and ebook. Beat that.

Mulligan: Fight’s on, sweet cheeks.

Gartrell: Bring it, but it looks like I’ll have the tactical advantage: three novels and one novella. You’re just cutting your teeth on the first book, and there aren’t even any zombies in it. Well, except for yourself—I hear your emotional range is somewhere between “dead” and “comatose.”

Mulligan: I have a twenty-three year old who wants to jump me—all you have is an Atchisson AA-12. And as impressive a weapon as that is, I get to go out on missions with this girl…in a high-tech rig that has beds in the back. Beat that.

Gartrell: I fucking hate you.

Mulligan: Back atcha, champ.

SK: Oh, look at the time! Thanks for stopping by, guys. This’ll teach me to drink Suntory outside of Japan…

Gartrell: Oh, we’re done? Good. My pleasure to drop by. Kill yourself.

Mulligan: For the first time since this interview started, he actually said something I agree with. I’d only like to add the word, “soon.”

SK: You know, maybe I’ll do a Gathering Dead/Earthfall crossover. I’ll make you guys lovers. You can spend chapter after chapter taking steamy showers together. What do you say?

[Gartrell and Mulligan exchange disgusted looks.]

Gartrell: I get to be the top.