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Posts Tagged ‘Zombies’

As Halloween approaches, I think about what monsters frightened me as a child.

I always suspected there were monstrous creatures under my bed, and never let my hands or feet hang over the edge so “they” wouldn’t grab me and drag me under the bed. Likewise, I avoided shadowy places, just in case the shadow-monsters were lurking there, ready to pull me into their shadow world.

With evil clowns capturing recent headlines, I hesitate to mention my dislike of clowns (and mimes – their silent partners in frightening children). My friends thought Bozo and others of his kind were laugh-out-loud funny. But not me. I didn’t want to watch their antics at circuses and fairs, and certainly didn’t want to interact with them at parties.

As for Frankenstein’s monster, I always felt compassion for the fellow. It wasn’t his fault he was the way he was. Dracula? Even as a kid, it seemed fairly easy to me to avoid his fangs – wear a cross around your neck and line your windows with garlic. The whole wooden stake in the heart thing seemed unnecessary if you were careful.

Werewolves were more problematic. I couldn’t imagine myself shooting anyone or anything with a regular bullet, much less a silver one. And as a kid, I had no access to guns – unless you count water pistols and cap guns. And when I thought about zombies, I thought I could out-run their slow shambling gait.

I suppose all those childhood monsters and more have appeared (or are destined to appear) in my dark fantasy and horror stories. One of the benefits of being a writer – I can destroy monsters or make them “nicer” by just typing a few words!

Here’s a link to a wonderful post on Victorian Monsters from my writing friend, Andrew McDowell.

Now, it’s your turn. What monsters frighten you?

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IMG_1833 Halloween, the day when ghostly and ghastly thoughts swirl about like an autumn wind, is 17 days away.  A week ago, October 7th, was the 166th anniversary of Poe’s death in my hometown of Baltimore, Maryland. So naturally, I chose an Edgar Allen Poe quote for today.

“The boundaries which divide Life from Death are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where the one ends, and where the other begins.” – Edgar Allan Poe in The Premature Burial.

What a perfect quote for this pre-Day of the Dead time. In the era of The Walking Dead, Ghost Hunters, Twilight, and other undead delights. For fans of the undead, two of my zombie-ghost tales are currently available in new books. “The Return of Gunnar Kettilson” can be found in the beautifully-bound Gothic fantasy collection, Chilling Ghost Short Stories from United Kingdom’s Flame Tree Publishing. And from the USA’s Alban Lake Publishing, Potter’s Field 5 – Tales from Unmarked Graves, contains my story “Snowbroth.” (Also available on Kindle).

For Poe fans, here are some other EA Poe quotes: 30 Thoughtful Quotes from Edgar Allan Poe.

And don’t forget, I’ll be at HallowRead October 23 presenting a workshop on Anthologies at 1 PM, and on October 24 I’ll be participating on various spooky, dark panels.  Plus, I’ll be happy to sell and/or sign my books and talk to fans of dark fantasy and horror.

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karinachainsaw2 Thanks to author, Karina Fabian, for stopping by and sharing her take on writing monsters, and for including Whimsical Words in her I Left My Brains in San Francisco Blog Tour.

Writing Monsters: Start With What You Know by Karina Fabian

‘One maxim I try not to work by is “Write what you know.” Trust me, if I did that, I’d be bored and so would you. I prefer to write what I can learn about, sometimes learning as I go. However, it’s a good idea to start with what you know.

You know that you want to write a story with an imaginary creature in it. What do you know already about the story? Do you have characters, or are you looking for a character to fit a plot? I could easily imagine that Generation Dead started with Daniel Waters saying, “I want to write a YA about how hard it is for minorities or people who are ‘different’ to make it in society. Hey! What could be more different than zombie teens?”

Even when you don’t know much about a particular monster, starting with what you do know can give you direction. For example, when I was asked to write a zombie story that eventually led to the Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator series, I didn’t know much about them aside from some vague memories of Night of the Living Dead and the notion that modern authors were using zombies either as sympathetic characters and sickening corpses. I knew I preferred the shambling undead version, but I didn’t want to do scary horror.

I Left My Brains in San Francisco cover You probably also know what’s hot and what’s been done. Waters probably realized that with Twilight being such a hit, doing his story with vampires would not be as popular (not to mention drive him batty with comparisons). However zombies were gaining new life in the fantasy scene. I knew that the apocalypse had been done in movies and books, so I wanted a different approach.

As a result, I made my zombies animated rotting meat with some curious residual attitudes and mental processes, and I made them rare enough that they were not a pestilence, but a pest. And who do you call to get rid of pests? Thus, Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator.

When you want to create a monster for your story, it can help to spend some time mulling over what you know about the legendary monsters and how they are being treated in movies and literature today. This will give you some starting points and direction for your research and imagining.’

If you are interested in learning more about monster creation, Karina Fabian is teaching a webinar on the subject, Oct 19, 7pm MT. You can register at here.

Plus, Karina is offering four fun extras: a Trailer, Zombie Quiz #1, Zombie Quiz #2, and a Crappy Crude Song.

NeetaLyffe_ILeftMyBrainsinSanFrancisco_audio_MED Curious about I Left My Brains in San Francisc, the second Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator book, available in audio by author Karina Fabian, and narrated by Becky Parker, form publisher, Damnation Books?

Here’s the cover blurb:

Zombie problem? Call Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator–but not this weekend.

On vacation at an exterminator’s convention, she’s looking to relax, have fun, and enjoy a little romance. Too bad the zombies have a different idea. When they rise from their watery graves to take over the City by the Bay, it looks like it’ll be a working vacation after all.

Enjoy the thrill of re-kill with Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator.”

And here’s an excerpt:

‘Survival Hardware hadn’t seen such a rush of customers since the last Armageddon prediction coincided with Black Friday.

Manager Clint Sanders rubbed his hands with glee. Oh, Marley, if only you hadn’t gotten drunk and decided to go zombie hunting. Was it only last Christmas?

He hurried to Customer Service, crafting an announcement in his mind. “You want to live! We want to live! That’s why you are going to file calmly to the back if you need a suit.”

Yeah. Sense of urgency, plus that “We’re in this together” crap.

He got to the counter and nodded at Bitsy, who had rung up a chainsaw and a half-crate of bleach.

God bless survivors. Clint continued to the back. Out of habit, he checked the exit door, even though it was always locked from the outside. He needed to delete Marley’s old code from it.

He cleared his throat. “Listen up! You want to live! We want to live!”

The exit door clicked.

That’s impossible!” he declared. The store fell silent.

Boss?” Bitsy’s voice ended in a squeak.

That’s not what I meant! Security team to customer service!”

He reached under the counter for a shotgun. Bitsy grabbed the chainsaw. They had filled them that morning—another example of the excellent service at Survival Hardware.

The door swung open, and the zombiefied remains of his late business partner, Marley, staggered through.

Clint to blasted him with the shotgun. The impact knocked the Marley out the door.

Clint used the gunsight to scan the parking lot. “He brought friends! Call Nine-One-One. I’m putting this place on shutdown.”

Screw that! I’ve been prepping all my life for this!” With a howl of challenge, Bitsy dashed out the door. She swung low and decapitated her former boss before moving on.

Thundering footsteps signaled the customers following in her wake.

He gaped at the carnage while Dirk called 9-1-1. It’d be too late by the time they got there. All that’d be left was to clean up the zombie parts and get the customers back in to pay.

God bless survivors.’

And here are some buy links:   Damnation Books and Amazon: paper and Kindle

More about the book can be found hereAnd if you’d like to know more about Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator, go here. The second book, I Left My Brains in San Francisco, is supposed to be out in audiobook – but unfortunately, it has been briefly delayed. For more info.

But do not despair! Anxious for some zombie humor? So are we, but I Left My Brains in San Francisco still isn’t up on Audible. BUT you can get the first 3 chapters free and a chance to win the audiobook of Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator, the first in the series. Go here now. Hurry! This offer goes when Audible finally posts the book!

About the Author: Winner of the Global eBook Award for Best Horror (Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator), Karina Fabian’s writing takes quirky tales that keep her–and her fans–amused. Zombie exterminators to snarky dragons, things get a little silly in her brain. When she’s not pretending to be an insane psychic or a politically correct corpsicle for a story, she writes product reviews for TopTenReviews.com and takes care of her husband, four kids and two dogs. Mrs. Fabian teaches writing and book marketing seminars online. You can find Karina Fabian on her Website, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Goodreads.

081315_BeckyParkerGeist-7530lowres-Version-2-240x300 About the narrator: Becky Parker Geist owns Pro Audio Voices, serving clients internationally with exceptional voiceover for audiobooks, advertising & animation. She loves creating audiobooks with sound effects! Married with 3 adult daughters, Becky lives in San Francisco and New York, working Off Broadway regularly. You can find Becky Parker Geist on her Website, Blog, Facebook, and Twitter.

Thanks again to Karina Fabian for her guest post. Watch Whimsical Words for more guests, Quotable Wednesdays, blogs from me, and more. Have a zombie-free day! – Vonnie

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IMG_1803 On this dreary October day, what better quote than this ghost, spirit, and zombie friendly one from the master of the macabre: “The boundaries which divide Life from Death are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where the one ends, and where the other begins?” – Edgar Allan Poe

Though there will always be doubting Thomases and Thomasinas, ghostly sightings, unexplained occurrences, and haunted places are a part of our culture. Cemeteries in particular can feel rather spooky. I came across two sites which list haunted cemeteries: America’s Most Haunted Cemeteries and Most Haunted Cemeteries. (And it’s no surprise to find Poe’s gravesite on one of the lists).

Though I personally find cemeteries quite comforting, and have picniced with family members amongst the tombstones, this is not the case for many people. And it should not be the case for visitors to the graveyard in my Halloween story, “Bad Moon Rising,” from my science fiction/ fantasy/ ghost tale collection, Owl Light. Here’s an excerpt from the beginning of the story. (FYI, it gets spookier by the end – including murder and ghosts).

Bad Moon Rising

‘Darleen glanced at the clock hanging over the cash register. It was four minutes after eleven, and the last customer of the evening was still perched on a swivel stool at the luncheon counter eating a slice of pumpkin pie. She finished sopping up the coffee, cider, and cola puddles from the tabletop of the diner booth nearest the door and pulled down the window shades hiding from view the jack-o-lantern, bat, black cat, and owl cut-outs stuck on the storefront glass. Then, she walked in back of the luncheon counter, and slid her pencil and order pad onto the top shelf beside the bins containing extra sugar and artificial sweetener packets. Her feet hurt.

“Thanks,” said the elderly customer as he pushed the empty plate towards her. “That was real good.”

“You’re welcome, Mr. Sudduth. See you tomorrow night.”

“Right, tomorrow night,” the old man replied as he buttoned up his sweater, shuffled out the front door of Raleigh’s Delight.

Darleen took off her apron and hung it up on a peg. She checked her make-up in the shiny chrome of the carbonated beverage dispenser. She liked to look at herself in the chrome – the faint crows-feet around her eyes weren’t visible. The mirrors in the ladies’ room made her look thirty. But why shouldn’t they? She was thirty-six.

She pushed open the swinging door to the kitchen, hollered, “Stan. Everybody’s out. I’m leaving.”

She spotted the diner’s owner, Stan Raleigh, scrubbing the griddle. Darleen liked the fact he didn’t just hire school kids to do all the dirty work. He pitched in, did some of the messy chores, too.

Stan looked up from the greasy slab of steel. “Register closed down?”

“Yeah. I closed it before Mr. Suddamendala left. Tape’s in the drawer.”

“Thanks. Have a good night,” called Stan from the sink as he sudsed up a scrub brush. “Don’t forget to lock the door on the way out, especially tonight.”

“No problem. But there shouldn’t be any trouble, by now the trick-or-treaters are all in bed,” Darleen responded as she reached under the luncheon counter and grabbed her pocketbook.

Darleen walked out of Raleigh’s Delight, slammed the front door. Slamming wasn’t optional. The door never locked if you closed it gentle-like. She jiggled the handle, just to double-check. It was locked. She nodded at the cardboard skeleton jitterbugging on the other side of the door’s glass pane, then, turned and tugged the rubberband out of her hair. She wore her hair tied back when waitressing, but when not at work, she loved the silky way it felt against her neck.

Darleen hurried down the sidewalk, smiling at the full moon that hung like a dinner plate on the wall of night. The 11:20 bus should be by any minute, and she was eager to get home. She popped a piece of chewing gum in her mouth and looked at her watch: 11:21 pm. She wondered where the bus was.

Tonight, she needed to be home on time – she was expecting company. Plus, she’d forgotten to refill her ferret’s bowl of dried kibbles. Not that the ferret was thin. Darleen suspected she had one of the few fat ferrets in the world. Still, she worried that Claude might get into more trouble than usual if she was late coming home.

She heard the grinding of gears as the bus driver down-sifted at the stop before hers. She spit out her gum, wrapped it in a tissue, tossed it into a nearby trashcan, unwrapped a second piece, put the new gum in her mouth, and slid its wrapper into her uniform’s pocket. Two pieces of gum would normally be excessive, but minty-fresh breath was extra important tonight…’ (I’m sure you can guess – her “company” will be of the undead sort!)

HallowRead 2014 poster2 Looking for something fun and spooky to do this weekend? Attend HallowRead. Make sure to stop by and say, “Hi,” to me on Sat. October 25th. I’ll sign my books, plus have a few to sell. Cant’ make it but you’d like to read more of my fiction? Here’s my Amazon author page.

And for fellow Walking Dead fans, I couldn’t resist adding another zombie link. Based on this article, living in the Baltimore area, I’m “up-the-creek-without-a-paddle” when the Zombie Apocalypse comes.

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HallowRead 2014 Poster Many of us have been to “Haunted Houses” at fairs, carnivals or Disney World. For those of you who like Disney’s Haunted Manison, here’s a link to some cool facts about the ride.

And here’s a link to a few real haunted houses.

Better yet, visit this year’s HallowRead and visit some haunts on the ghost tour. I’ll be there on Sat., Oct. 25th on panels, etc.

I couldn’t resist adding a bit of haunt to the home at the center of “Bells,” the final story in Owl Light, my collection of dark speculative stories. In truth, some of the haunted bits included in the tale are taken from my personal experiences. Here’s the beginning of “Bells” for your reading pleasure:

Bells

‘The hundred and fifty-year-old Crosby family farmhouse on the corner of Park and Millstone Streets was cluttered with the dead. What should have been gray-toned or sepia photos of Melinda’s ancestors peered from shelves, tabletops, curio cabinets, and almost every available inch of wall space. But the pictures of the deceased had not been left in their original neutral tones — in an attempt to add life to the images, her Great-Aunt Vivian had garishly tinted the people’s faces, clothing, and surroundings with photographic oil paints. But by blessing men, women, and children with red lips, rosy cheeks, and brilliant irises, Aunt Viv had given everyone in the pictures the same unnatural appearance that was found on corpses at an open-casket viewing.

The room in the house on the corner of Park and Millstone where Melinda always stayed when she came to visit, had belonged to Aunt Vivian’s mother, Isabelle Worthington. Mel glanced at her Great-Grandmother Belle’s augmented photo on the marble dresser top. She shuddered. If she braided her waist-length coppery hair and pinned it to the top of her head in a bun, Mel would have been a dead-ringer for the long-gone Isabelle.

She touched the elaborately filigreed frame. Mel could almost hear her great aunt promising in her most wishful voice, “The dead are only separated from us by the sheerest gauze.”

Mel pressed her lips together, lifted her gaze from her great-grandmother’s picture, leaned forward, and checked her mascara for smudging in the wavy glass mirror. Standing behind her and just to the left, Mel thought she glimpsed the blurred image of Isabelle Worthington. She gasped, turned around. There was no one there but the bed draped in a shooting star quilt made by Belle, golden oak furniture laden with Belle’s carefully preserved belongings, the ever-present photographs, and a profusion of evergreen branchlets tucked here and there around the room.

Melinda stepped over to the window, watched the snowflakes sail down to the sea of white that covered the lawn, the sidewalks, and the cemetery across the street. Considering the weather, it was lucky most of her mother’s family still resided in the same town where their parents and their parents’ parents had lived, died, and were buried. Other than Mel and her sister and parents, everyone coming tonight for Christmas dinner could walk home if need be. She pulled the lace curtains together as far as possible trying to shut out the wintry scene below. But there was a bundle of greens tied together with red ribbon and bells dangling from the center of the rod, so not only didn’t the curtains close all the way, but her effort at privacy set off a metallic jingling.

 small owl light Shaking her head, Mel crossed the room to the bed, closed her suitcase, then strolled into the hallway. After a quick turn to the right, she descended the winding stairs to the main floor. The ghosts seemed to press less closely there, or so she thought, until a chill brushed past her on its way downstairs…’

Like what you’re reading? You can check out Owl Light and my other books on Amazon.

Last, but certainly not least, an update to yesterday’s Zombie post for you Walking Dead fans — I found a link to a zombie-proof cabin.which just might get you through the Zombie Apocalypse.

Only a few more days til HallowRead, then less than a week until Halloween — it’s my favorite time of the year!

 

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The 2nd annual HallowRead will be held October 24th and 25th in Ellicott City, Maryland. On Saturday, Oct. 25th, I’ll be participating on a couple of panels, visiting with fans of urban fantasy, dark fantasy, horror, steampunk, ghosts, vampires, zombies, etc., and, of course, signing my books.

Leading up to this darkly wonderful con, I thought I’d share a few appropriate links, an excerpt from one of my stories, and other HallowReadish odds & ends.

As a fan of “The Walking Dead,” I couldn’t resist making my 1st themed post about zombies. Though I must admit, this season of the television show so far has creeped me out. The whole hunter or prey vibe, while it fits the Zombie Apocalypse, is more disturbing than last year’s Governor and crew.

To survive a Zombie Apocalypse, you might need a fortress like the one in this link.

If you’re thinking of making a zombie video, you’ll need to know about movie make-up and fake blood.

hallowread_red And here’s an excerpt of my zombie love story, “The Return of Gunner Kettilson,” 1st published in an issue of Cemetery Moon, then in the Elektrik Milk Bath Press charity anthology, Zombies for a Cure, and lastly, in my dark fantasy story collection, The Greener Forest.

If you’re interested in reading the whole tale, I’ll have copies of The Greener Forest, plus 1 copy of Zombies for a Cure, with me at HallowRead for purchase. Or, you can always go to Amazon and grab a copy.

The Return of Gunnar Kettilson (an excerpt)

‘Celia sat straight-backed on an oak bench in her moonlit kitchen with the long-handled ax stretched across her lap. She listened for the shambling footsteps of her husband, Gunnar Kettilson, comforted in small measure by the presence of her great aunt beside her on the bench.

“Do you think he will come?” Celia whispered as she rubbed the wooden ax handle with her thumb and wondered if there’d be maggots.

“We should light the welcome candle,” said Rona.

The white-haired woman set the butcher knife she’d been holding in her right hand on the floor, stood, propped the fire poker from her left hand against the bench, and walked to the fireplace. She withdrew a blazing splinter of wood from the fire.

 Cemetery Moon “This night, one night, by full moon’s light,

we call you, Gunnar Kettilson.

Come home, cruel draugr.

Come home, bitter revenant,” chanted Rona as she lit a solitary white candle balanced in a silver candlestick, and placed it on the windowsill.

The elderly woman extinguished the splinter, returned to the bench, and patted Celia’s forearm before picking the butcher knife back up. “We should know before long if we sealed him in the grave or if he’ll return.”

“What more could we have done?”

Celia’s aunt answered her with a tilt of her head and a flutter of her heavily-veined hands.

As they sat in silence listening to the seawind in the trees, Celia recalled the somber funeral procession that carried Gunnar up the hill to the cemetery. She’d followed closely behind the casket beside Rona and Gunnar’s father, Lars. The whole village had marched after them. The whole village had to attend, because Lars owned the fish factory, cannery, and most of the fishing ships where the villagers worked. And Lars retaliated against anyone he suspected of not showing sufficient respect to the Kettilson family.

“Lift your chin up, woman,” Lars had growled as they’d followed the casket. “Be proud you were married to a Kettilson.” Then, he’d grabbed her upper arm, squeezed it hard, glared at her with his cold blue eyes. “And unless you’re carrying his child, I’ll have you out on the street within a year. And if you carry a babe…” He’d scowled, and added, “He’ll be mine at birth. You were never in love with my son, only interested in the Kettilson money.”

 zombies for a cure Celia had opened her mouth to argue, but before she could utter a word in her defense, Aunt Rona had stared the hulking patriarch of the Kettilson family in his pale, mean eyes, and hissed, “Shame on you, Lars. She’s lost a husband, and he’s not yet beneath the ground. The spirits of the dead remember such slander.”

Lars had pressed his thin lips together so tightly that they’d turned white, but he hadn’t argued with Rona – for Rona was Fae-Blessed. The old woman was known for her rune-reading, healing herbs, and blessing spells. And Lars would naturally suspect she knew darker magics, too.

Celia watched the welcome candle’s flame flicker. She wondered if Gunnar saw its light from the graveyard…’

And lastly, here’s the link to a post which discusses zombies from different world cultures. Enjoy!

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A month ago, I spoke at the Library of Congress along with Katie Hartlove, editor at Cold Moon Press, and Michelle D. Sonnier, a fellow Cold Moon Press author. Wow, is the only word I have for the marvelous building, helpful staff, and receptive audience. For those who’ve never taken a tour of the building, I highly recommend it.

The title of our presentation was: Zombies & Angels & Boogeymen, Oh my! Though I’ve used all 3 characters in my stories, my area of presentation was Zombies. I did a bit of research to show that the idea of the re-animated dead is shared by many cultures. Here are a few of the tidbits I unearthed:

Africa: The word zombie comes from the Kongo zumbi or zombi [Matthews, p.641] which means an enslaved spirit.

Caribbean: Priests in the Haitian voodoo religion sometimes use a nerve toxin to simulate death for up to 2 days. Haitian lore says that people who are dug up after being buried can no longer think for themselves because of oxygen deprivation, and therefore become slaves to another’s will. Feeding a zombie salt will return it to the grave.

Wales: In the story of Branwen, dead warriors are put in a cauldron and returned to life. These re-animated dead warriors are then placed back into battle.

Ireland: The Well of Slaine is used by the Tuatha de Danaan to re-animate warriors who’ve died in the fight against the Fir Bolg. Though they can fight, these re-animated soldiers are unable to speak because they’ve seen what exists after death.

Iceland, Norway, etc.: Draugr (plural Draugar, pronounced: droo-GORE) are dead Vikings who not only drive mad anyone who comes near their grave, but crawl from their burial sites and visit the living. They are very strong, smell like decay, and sometimes have magical abilities like shape-shifting. (This is the zombie of my love story, “The Return of Gunnar Kettilson”).

Tibet: (Just stumbled on this info, so more research needs to be done). Ro-langs are ro (corpse) + langs (rise-up). They cannot speak, so they communicate by wagging their tongues. Lore says that they can’t bend either, which is why it’s best to have a low entranceway into your home — to keep out the ro-langs.

Where in the world do I find interesting tidbits like these? Many places, but some of my favorite research books: The Element Encyclopedia of Magical Creaturesby John & Caitlin Matthews, Encyclopedia of Things That Never Were: Creatures, Places, And People by Michael Page & Robert Ingpen, The Enchanted World series of books from Time-Life Books, and An Encyclopedia of Fairies: Hobgoblins, Brownies, Bogies, and other Supernatural Creatures by Katherine Briggs.

So have a great day, and remember to carry a bag of pretzels to feed to the re-animated dead in the case of a zombie attack (see Africa above).

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