Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Free Contest and Pics--The Zombie's Lament in Black Chaos II

[No, this isn't about The Walking Dead, but it is about a free contest and a just-published zombie story I wrote.  If you can forgive this unabashed self-promotion--though it is my blog--then please read on and enter the free contest!]
On page 65 of Black Chaos II, edited by Bill Olver and published by Big Pulp Publications, you'll find my short story, "The Zombie's Lament." 
The cover looks great: bright colors, cool image from a known artist--Ken Knudtsen, who has worked on Wolverine for Marvel Comics, and on projects for David Geffen. 
I've been very lucky with covers of magazines and books for my short stories.  "Hide the Weird" was in an issue of Space and Time Magazine.  That cover was really cool, too.  Not too nerdy, very bright and colorful, and a skeleton is laying back, chilling out on the beach, having a drink--as the nuclear apocalypse mushrooms in the distance.  What else can you ask for?
The book's print is in good shape.  The ink is solid and it doesn't look unprofessional or cheap.  The author bio came out great.  There aren't any typos anywhere, and the book as a whole just looks good.
Anyway, the ISBN for Black Chaos II: More Tales of the Zombie, is 978-0-9896812-2-3.  It's available via bookstores, both brick-and-mortar and online.  The stories and poems are about zombies in relationships, zombies in the circus, zombies in a Christmas special, a mother-in-law zombie, and pissed-off zombies.  In short, if you like your zombies a little bit different, you'll like this book.
So, now, the contest!
On my published works blog (just click the tab above), you'll find "Everything's Connected" and "So Many Reasons to Celebrate the Season."  These stories were written by me and purchased and published by OverMyDeadBody.com and OnThePremises.com.  And they're free!  The first one is a very short, light detective piece and the latter is a very short (and, IMO, very funny--yet very not) slice-of-life piece about a writer coming home to a failing marriage and a houseload of people on Christmas Eve.  Jack Nicholson in full The Shining mode makes a brief appearance in that one.
Anyway, to enter the contest, all you have to do is go to my Published Works page, choose one of those two free stories, click the link, read it, and leave a thought or two about the story as a comment on my Published Works blog beneath that story.  Read both stories and comment on each and you get entered into the contest twice!  The winner gets a free copy of Black Chaos II: More Tales of the Zombie.  You don't pay for the book and you don't pay for the postage.
The contest will run until the end of June.  I'll notify the winner via email and get the mailing address at that time.  And because I have many readers outside the U.S., I'll leave the contest open to anyone in the world who wants to enter!
Thanks very much for doing so, and good luck!
And, by the way, if you've read "The Zombie's Lament," and you've found this blog entry from my author bio in the book, please feel free to leave a comment here and let me know what you thought of the story.  Please and thank you, and thanks for reading my work!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Black Chaos 2 and "The Zombie's Lament" Now Available!

Dear Readers:

This is an unfortunately necessary bit of self-promotion for my zombie story, "The Zombie's Lament," which is now available in e-book and (soon) print editions.  I've told myself it's okay to post here, since if you're reading about The Walking Dead, you're maybe interested in a short zombie story--that is, a short story about zombies, and not a story about short zombies.  So, please and thank you!


Steven E. Belanger

Black Chaos II is on the way!  You can get my story--"The Zombie's Lament"--and 24 other great zombie stories for just $4.99 on Kindle and other devices.
The e-book versions are currently up for pre-order at Smashwords and Amazon. The print edition also will be available directly from Big Pulp and through any bookstore.  Links to those will follow.
Please support me by sharing this message and the links on your blog or Facebook page.  Thanks!
The premise of my story: It's about a guy who loses the love of his life, gets bitten in the face by a zombie, and tries to apologize to his beloved before he turns--or dies. 

Monday, March 30, 2015

The Walking Dead -- Conquer

Photo: Greg Nicotero and friend, from the Wall Street Journal's photojournal page, at this website.

Well, this one was sort of anti-climactic.  Interesting towards the end in that you were expecting a climax involving:

--Glen and the townie trying to kill him;

--Daryl and Aaron getting killed in a car by a horde of walkers;

--Rick getting kicked out of Alexandria.

It was also to see any one of several things happening to the good turncoat priest, including:

--Father Gabriel committing suicide by zombie;

--Sasha killing Father Gabriel, or

--Maggie killing Father Gabriel, or

--The Walkers killing everyone in Alexandria because Father Gabriel left the door open, or

--The Wolves killing everyone in Alexandria because Father Gabriel left the door open.

Truth be told, I'm rather surprised Father Gabriel didn't buy the farm in this episode.

And maybe that was the whole point.  Nicotero (who again directed) and Co. are being very smart.  They're mixing it up.  They know we've seen the climactic episode at the end of every season.  It usually ends in a rush and someone dies.  Since they know we know that, this one doesn't.  It's that simple.  It is very smart as an artist to respect the intelligence of your audience.  These guys do.  They, like us, have seen it all before--but they acknowledge that we, the audience, are as knowledgeable of this genre as are they.  So they change some things--the tone, the pace, the endings.  They've seen it all before and they know we have, too, so they change things to keep themselves as interested as us.  They are not just content with the status quo; they know we won't be.

And so Father Gabriel and Sasha get their confession and redemption.  How long that keeps either of them from falling off the cliff is anyone's guess, but the key is that they're still surviving.  One day at a time.

Daryl and Aaron live to fight another day, since Morgan the Jedi arrived just in time.  Aaron will probably clean off that Alaska plate and add it to his collection.  (That was new, by the way: Death by License Plate.  Though those damn things can be razor sharp on the sides, for those of us who've nicked ourselves while putting one on.  And extra points to the guy who thought up the Death by Chain.  Why hasn't that been utilized before?)

Rick doesn't get thrown out of Alexandria, and even gets to kill the wife-beater that he--and all of us--has wanted to get rid of for awhile now.  (Storming the meeting to kill Rick with a machete was ill-advised.  Why not wait until he's alone with him somewhere?)

(How Alexandra Breckinridge's character responds to this bloodletting will be interesting...As is everything, probably, that Alexandra Breckinridge does.  I'm just sayin'...)  And that's a name right out of Jane Austin, too.

Carol gets to out-Machiavell Machiavelli.  While cooking casseroles, demanding the bowl back, and calling Rick "Sunshine" at the same time.  And threatening the wife-abuser at the same time.  She was so angry, you just know she was seeing Ed.  I mean, red.   

Glenn gets to stay Glenn, and not turn into Rick or Daryl, which is probably good for him.  (Though Daryl and Rick--and probably most of us--would've wasted that guy, especially after he let a pile of walkers fall on Glenn.)

And Michonne now gets to carry her sword, which is her third arm, without pretending she's over it.

Which is a good thing, because the big, bad Wolves are coming.  (Get the red poncho guy, now?)

See ya in a few months.  Thanks for reading.

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Walking Dead -- Try

Whoa!  Rick's gone a little off the deep end...Or has he?  True, he shouldn't have pointed his gun at everyone, but...What else do you do to a society that purposely and deliberately turns its eyes from a man who openly beats his wife?  You don't do anything to him because he's the only doctor you've got?  How well did that thought process work at the hospital?

A few other thoughts:

--Some may argue that, as Spock said, "The good of the many outweighs the good of the one, or the few."  In this case, sadly, it would be considered correct to ignore the abuse, specifically because he is a surgeon, the only one you've got, and he does a greater good for the many.

--But how could you live with yourself?

--However, the community did in fact seem to be living pretty well with itself, thank you very much.

--Shocking, that a politician would know there's an evil and ignore it because it's not in her (or her constituents') best interest.  Shocking, I tell you.

--So far I'm batting a thousand with my prediction that Rick & Co. would be the problem, and actually destroy the place from within.

--Not that it doesn't need it.

--Couldn't someone else with at least a little medical training be taught to be the next doctor?  I mean, you'd expect the community to create a backup doctor in case something happened to this guy, right?

--Where'd Father Gabriel go?

--Bold prediction for next week: Father Gabriel and / or Carol get it.  Rick's "girlfriend," too.

--And Carl's, too.

--Because there's no place for teenage love in the zombie apocalypse.

--(Or on my TV screen.  I mean, come on.)

--I almost threw something at the TV when they hid in the tree again.  If even one walker knew they were there, they'd be screwed.  It ain't romantic if it's stupid.  And, like, what about the ants and termites?

--I wouldn't have eaten Carol's casserole, either.

--Neat little name for an Etsy site: Carol's Casseroles.

--Speaking of Carol, I think she's purposely setting Rick up to fail.  She told him three times that his abusive neighbor needs to go.  She still hasn't forgotten that Rick banished her.  With Rick out of the way, she'd fill that power vacuum.

--But she'd have to get past Michonne first.  Which she wouldn't do.

--The real Michonne said on the Talking Dead that her character would stay with Rick's group, no matter what.  But...I don't think so.  If he gets tossed, I'll bet she'd at least be torn to stay there.  She could be a small town's sheriff, too.

--But all is not as it seems in Alexandria.  I say, staying for any of them won't be an option.  I'll bet someone leaves the gates open, or something else happens, or comes to light, that makes staying impossible.

--We'll see next week...

Monday, March 16, 2015

The Walking Dead -- Spend

Yikes!  Rather gruesome entry, far more grotesque than usual lately, just to remind us that all is not well, and that--yes--this is still a zombie apocalypse.

--Alexandria, where everyone's got your back--until they run away from you when things get bad.

--Eugene finally grew a pair.  But would that have happened if he hadn't loved the woman he was saving?

--But he's approaching his character arc, it seems to me.  What significance does he have once Alexandria has been destroyed?  Where is there for him to go after this arc finishes?

--Poor Noah, but poor Glen, too.

--When Noah started talking about building things, and smiling, you knew he was gone.

--If you remember the trauma I went through when Beth bought it, you'll understand what I mean when I say that this episode bothered me because, if she died to save Noah, and Noah dies (so soon thereafter, and like this), what was the use?

--The Lady Senator is not going to believe that her son died the way they say he did.  Especially after Father Gabriel's visit.

--And what are his ulterior motives, exactly? 

--Carol is MESSED UP.

--She's been playing the group for awhile, too.  Perhaps a very long while, since Rick banished her.

--Looks more and more like what I said was true: Rick's group is going to implode the place.

--Though the "Porch D---" is certainly going to get it.  Surprised he hasn't already, actually.

--All might not be what it seems in his house, though.  He's certainly doing something, but is he the only one?

--The boy is nefarious.  Something not right about him.

--I don't mean to sound heartless, but--as per the clip from The Talking Dead--I don't care about Carl's romantic interludes.  There's no blooming love amongst the teens in a zombie apocalypse.

--So if the grenade walker couldn't be killed because he was wearing that headgear, are we sometime going to see the NFL walkers?

--Speaking of zombies, my short story, "The Zombie's Lament," will be published in Black Chaos II, an anthology of zombie stories, out next month.  The front cover looks like this:

There'll be more info to come, once I know it, but if you're interested in zombie stories, please consider it.  My story starts on page 65.  Here's the Table of Contents, via the proof sheets the publisher, Big Pulp, sent me recently with my story:


1 We Always Get Our Man by R.A. Williamson
12 Shackles of Death by Thomas Canfield
16 When It’s Not Love, It’s Hate by Dawn Wilson
25 Sweet Bird of Death by Gary Ives
30 Cold, Lifeless Fingers by James Dorr
34 Dave Vs. the Zombie Apocalypse by Angel Luis Colón
43 Zombees by Gabriel Valjan
53 In the Storm They Came by Sean Ealy
65 The Zombie’s Lament by Steven Belanger
72 Daddy’s Home by Bo Balder
75 The Dead of Summer by Wayne Laufert
80 White Light, White Heat by William Johnson
92 My Mother-in-Law is a Zombie by Anna Sykora
95 Memories by Nu Yang
100 Lucky 43 by Joriah Wood
108 In Reynolds by J. Boone Dryden
115 American Refugees by D. Jason Cooper
121 The Not Tom by Ian Welke
126 Inhuman Resources by Brenda Kezar
136 The Zombie Mike Christmas Special by Terry Alexander
149 Bitter Inheritance by Jason Ridler
157 The Last Circus by DeAnna Knippling
166 In the Age of Resurrection by Deborah Walker
171 Dead Moon by Jim Cort
181 Newsfeed Zombies by Aislinn Batstone

Monday, March 9, 2015

Forget -- The Walking Dead Season Five -- Review

Are you over Carol's little death story?  Me, either.  It's printed below, if you want to read it.

--As I mentioned before, it looks to me like they're the villains now--or the anti-heroes, if you will.

--Carol's nuts and Rick is murderous.  One said the scariest things I've ever heard an adult say to a kid.  The other very strongly considered shooting a guy to be with his wife.

--It's Alexandra Breckenridge, so that's almost understandable.  But still...

--Buttons just didn't feel like running anymore.  That was incredibly sad, but also a symbol for how Daryl is feeling.

--Too much running makes you tired.  Literally and figuratively.

--But, poor Buttons.  I mean, damn.

--As that was on, I opened my mail.  I got something from PETA.  There were pictures of hundreds of dogs in a cage in China, ready to be slaughtered for their meat.  Cats, too, for their fur.

--I mean, DAMN.

--But I always give to them.  I will this time, too, when I get paid.  I like that they also supply you with an attached receipt you can fill out for your taxes.  I know convenience is lazy, but why not do everything you can so people can donate?  Though some will just fill that out and not donate, I know.

--I give to PETA and the ASPCA and the Humane Society and sometimes Best Friends, in case you were wondering.  If you're looking for something to give to, these are great choices.

--Back to the show...

--Ironically, Daryl might be the one most ready to settle down.  He may even shower soon.

--That kid's going to tell on Carol.

--And then he's going to get it.  (Maybe.)

--Jessie's husband is certainly going to get it.  He should be wearing a red shirt.

--So, too, probably, is Jessie.  (Sorry.)

--Representative Monroe, the lady who leads Alexandria, sees more than she's showing.  I'm not sure Carol's fooling her.

--Where'd Father Gabriel go?  He didn't enter with the group, right?

--Somebody's branding the walkers with a "W."  If you know my politics, you know who I think it is.

--Though someone would have to help him with the spelling, of course.

--(Sorry.)  C'mon, though, it was funny.  Okay, whatever.

--True, Michonne put the sword on the wall.  But it's within easy reach.

--And you know she'll be using it very, very soon.  I mean, there are just three episodes left.

--Because it bears repeating, here's Carol's little speech to the kid, copied from this very, very, very good review from the Wall Street Journal online:

“One morning you’ll wake up and you won’t be in your bed. You’ll be outside the walls. Far, far away. Tied to a tree. And you’ll scream and scream because you’ll be so afraid. No one will come to help. Because no one will hear you. Well, something will hear you. The monsters will come. The ones out there. You won’t be able to run away when they come for you. And they will tear you apart and eat you up all while you’re still alive. All while you can still feel it. And then afterwards, no one will ever know what happened. Or, you can promise not tell anyone ever what you saw here, and then nothing will happen. And you’ll get cookies. Lots of cookies.” She smiles. “I know what I think you should do.”

--And read that linked review for the clip of where we've all seen the "W." before.  Did you remember that?  Yeah, I didn't, either, though I did know I'd seen it somewhere before.  Here it is again, for your convenience.  That site always does a great job.

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Walking Dead: The Distance

Well, it's been awhile.  I know there've been a few episodes upon the show's return, but if you've been following my other blogs, you know the novel's going well, and time is at a premium.  I'm doing what I can.  So, as it's late, very quickly:

--My guess is that this time, Rick's group will be the reason a utopian society doesn't work.  Maybe they'll be so hardcore, so paranoid, that they either cause the place to implode from within the walls, or the society gets together and forces Rick's group to leave.  Just my guess, and I haven't read the comics, but I'm thinking it's time that Rick's group messes up a good thing for once.

--Having said that, let the record show that Aaron lied about the pictures.  Not about collecting the license plates, or about how many other people were waiting with him--but Michonne did catch him in a lie about the pics, and she knew it.

--Then they splattered through a large group of walkers with the car, and everything else got lost in the shuffle, especially when it turned out that he'd spoken the truth about everything else, even the license plates--but he lied about people in the pics.

--That will come back.

--As will the gun Rick hid near that shack just outside the gate.

--Are Glen and Maggie not going out anymore?  They haven't been close for a helluva long time now.

--Didja notice that Father Gabriel was mostly absent, but understood to be there.  Maybe he was filming an episode of Teen Wolf nearby.  That's the beauty of an ensemble cast.  You show an actor at the very beginning, and maybe at the very end, and it's understood he's been there the whole time.

--Again, I haven't read the comics, but I'm guessing the sound of children playing is from a tape.  Did they hear it once they got inside?  I'm not feelin' it.

--The sound of the kids playing would be to get anyone hesitant inside the gates.  Not necessarily for nefarious reasons.  Same goes for the lie about the lack of people in the pics.

--I'm guessing there aren't a helluva lot of people in this town, and they need the Ricktatorship to protect them.  There's a flaw in the safety of the camp they're not telling Rick's group.  Just a guess.

--If I were a member of Rick's group, and that place was actually a real, safe place, I would still crawl up inside my own house, lock the doors, and be totally okay with myself, my food (every house would have an internal and external garden, and a greenhouse), my books, my writing and, hopefully, my baseball cards.  Forever.  I'd say hello to the rest of the group now and again, when I saw them outside in passing.

--It's not that I don't trust anyone or anything.  It's just that I don't trust anyone, or anything.