Thursday, October 16, 2014

Permuted... Enjoy the Writers Apocalypse

Remember when we used to be so fun? We used to talk about wearing ugly pants and funding work out tapes for serial killers... good times.

I'm sorry time has prevented us from posting more of that life changing insight. Hopefully, we will return to answering tough questions like "who would you rather eat? Gary Busey or Charlie Sheen?" very soon.

Until then, this post is to help me clear my head about all the delightful things I have heard about Permuted Press.

First things first: I am NOT a writer.  Yes, I have this blog I occasionally write stuff at and I also contribute my lack of talent to other places on the web, but I am not a writer.  Everyone has a blog and anyone can type on a keyboard.  It doesn't give you talent.  With that, I have no dreams of ever publishing my prized novel so these opinions I am expressing are those of a reader. Not only am I a reader but I am also a huge supporter of the indie author, the indie crafter, the indie musician and the indie business.  One reason I've been neglecting this blog is because I spend a great deal of time encouraging the community to support those little guys. Of course it is also important to note that my husband IS a writer and he does have contracts with Permuted. I do see both sides of the coin.  Even with that being said, I buy books weekly. I am a consumer and a heavy reader and these are my opinions.

The plight of the indie author is much harder than many of the others. Why? Because independent bookstores mostly refuse to help them (especially if they are associated with Amazon/CreateSpace in any way) and indie publishers often want to be big publishers and can easily forget the labor of love that is writing.

About 8 years ago I was pregnant with my first minion and the Man-Meat was working at a large chain bookstore stocking shelves part -time. One morning, he came home with a copy of WORLD WAR Z and said he saw it and thought I would love it. I devoured it! Then he did. Even though we knew our own world was ending with the birth of our son (I mean he's great but kids change things), we still wanted more apocalyptic suffering.  He scoured the internet looking for more apocalyptic fiction and found Permuted Press. We bought everything. EVERYTHING!  Of course their catalog was much smaller then but we still read almost every book they had.  Only a few were duds that we will never speak of again but most have become my favorite books.  I will still defend that the MORNINGSTAR SAGA is one of the absolute best zombie series and can not be compared to DAY BY DAY ARMAGEDDON due to the character vantage point. And I stick to the "baby scene" in EX-HEROES as being the most traumatizing and memorable of any book. Don't even get me started on JOHN DIES AT THE END... that book changed my life! Even as the catalog expanded and they published titles I was less interested in, I still bought. Only now I started to buy ebooks of the ones I wasn't sure of and paperbacks for the ones I was waiting on.  Every week I received a Google+ notification (yup, you read that right) that "Permuted Press has shared a link with you" showcasing that months new release.  I bought it because they cared enough to put the work into it. I know it was shared with a massive list of people but they took the time to add me. They wanted ME to see it. I told everyone about them and bought copies of my favorites for friends. When ever an author responded to me, I squueed... and honestly, I still do. They were MY publisher!
A snippet of one our bookshelves. There are many more with that familiar logo, the new logo and even with the Permuted Platinum 

When the Man-Meat was given the opportunity to re-release his novel with them, I almost fainted.  I now had my very own Permuted author! Mine! It goes without saying that he was also excited... but this isn't his story, it's mine and my opinions.  Anyway, a dream come true and one day I would meet the rest of the authors and complete my autographed book collection.  Until... the sale.

It was one man putting in all that love and attention to every book release. Understandably, that's exhausting and the company was growing. He sold. My immediate reaction was terror but I also realize my own flaw with adapting to change. Everything was going to be fine, all my favorites were still there, the Man-Meats book was still being released. There would just be more people to give love to the precious pages of joy.  It's okay.

Next, this favorite publisher that carefully selected titles in the past, was now aggressively acquiring as many titles as possible.  It's like courting a girl for months, taking her to prom, getting a good-night kiss on the cheek and then she sleeps with the entire football team. In one night.  How could I trust what they printed if they printed everything and anything? And how would I even be able to afford all those titles? *puff-puff from inhaler* I'm sure it will be fine still, just need to be more selective. It's still okay.

Lucky for me, I didn't have to choose! Why? Because I had no idea they were released. Countless titles were published without a single mention on social media. This included my Man-meats. We knew because we saw it available on Amazon. Really a coincidence. All promotion was done by us. Now I felt like my initial fears were warranted. These guys bit off more than they could chew. I may not be a writer but I do have a decent business sense. They were flooding the market and nobody even knew it. Or maybe they did... but I didn't. My attempts at optimism are struggling at this point. I'm not saying it's gonna be okay and since I don't have anything nice to say, I'm just not saying anything.
I feel like I'm watching the world burn...

A couple months later, the Man-Meat goes on this conference call with other writers and comes off in a great mood. They've got a great plan, they've got it together, there is an organized team. He felt great and shortly after I saw the difference. They were promoting books and events, pushing their newsletter to make sure everyone knew what was being released and it seemed like things were going up hill. Of course, I'm an outsider. I only have the perspective of the consumer. But things are okay.

So what's the big deal? Why is there even a need to vent? Why did Brian Keene say he would not be buying any of their books for a while? And why have many authors gone to their own sites with gripes?  Well, I'll tell you. Last week authors were alerted via email that there will be some changes.  Going forward, only best sellers will be available in paperback.  That's right! That swarm of new writers just signed away their creative output to a predominately ebook-only company. Not a big deal for many authors but when your novel is released amongst a flood of others and nobody knows it's out... it's kind of hard to be a best seller. Not only that but EVERY one of those writers expected to hold a copy of their hard work in their hands. This also means NEW books will only be ebooks until they are a best seller. I just want to clarify that. I know there are many people who don't use an e-reader. You will have to wait. I buy ebooks but I prefer paperbacks. Especially for favorite authors. I ALWAYS buy the paperback for those books.  Since Permuted is small press and using a print-on-demand option, I'm a little disgruntled that they've made this decision for me. I could understand if they paid in advance, a book didn't sell and now they had thousands of copies sitting in a warehouse collecting dust. But they don't. If they did, getting a bookseller to stock their titles would be a lot easier. So now I can get a paperback from a self-published writer but not from my favorite publisher?

All over a paperback? Nope. There is more. There will be no new releases till 2015 (only a couple months...) and then when they resume it will be a lot slower. That means delays for many upcoming titles. Here I side with the publisher. It was just too much.  Yes, your heart is set on that glorious release date but what are you releasing to? The 10 other books that come out that day are fighting for the same buyer. Your odds are slim. Why not wait so it can get some attention? Maybe your publisher will even help you line up some early reviews, start a little buzz before it drops. Isn't that what you envisioned? Maybe the final copy will have your name and your title on the tops of all the pages and the ad in the back will have the proper info with them. Am I pointing out a flaw I noticed on some newer books? Maybe. I say give them more time and have it done right. But I'm personally tired of being overwhelmed with mediocre.

Don't worry there is a little bit more. This last reason I scoff. Writers will no longer have the final say on cover art. Maybe this isn't a big deal to them but it is to me. You know I'm vain and I do judge books by a cover.  I read a "now a major motion picture" edition of I Am Legend and repeatedly looked at the cover picture of Will Smith and wondered why they cast him as a tall blue eyed irish man. I do look at covers and try to find hints to the story in the images.  I want a cover that reflects the story I hold in my hands.  I saw earlier versions of the Man-Meats cover and I told him I would never buy his book based on what I saw. Fine, Permuted. If you aren't going to give authors the final say, at least make the artist read the book. And please stop using generic stock apocalyptic covers. They bore me.
Seriously? What are you thinking P.P?

Maybe these sound rather petty. In truth business is business but that isn't where my problem really lies.  Nothing Permuted has done is illegal. They did the same thing teenagers do everyday; they found a loop hole. They never said they wouldn't print your books... but they never actually said they would either. My problem is the ethics behind it. If I receive a review copy of a book there is a certain expectation that I will read it and then review it, even if I never actually say I will. Likewise, when you go to a book publisher, there is an expectation that they will publish your book. Perhaps my understanding of what you get from a publisher is off. I would think unless clearly stated, that your book would be printed, promoted and handled with care. If the writer can't print it(as the publisher holds the rights) and they must do all promotion themselves, why do they need a publisher? When I see a contract promising 10 author copies of the book upon release, I don't think to question whether or not there is a stipulation with format. I assume, that is what the contract is for especially when your percentages are separated by print and ebook.

Now my favorite writers are disgruntled and don't want to write. That impacts me. What's the point of going through a publisher if they take a larger percentage to do what you could do on your own? I also don't want to give my money to a company that I don't believe operates in an ethical manner.  The genre isn't as narrow as it was 8 years ago. We have options. Not only that, horror is no longer an obscure genre limited to indie press. Many larger publishers are carefully selecting QUALITY titles and delivering them to the masses. As for the authors with Permuted, many of them already have and may continue to self publish to the same viewers they reach now. All this experience has done is taint their image of the publishing world and hinder some desires to keep writing.

I don't plan to buy any books from Permuted while this issue is unresolved. Unfortunately, I don't know that I could go back after it is either. I want to but I'm upset. I will no longer be able to discover their authors at conventions with a stack of books or email them requesting an autographed copy. I don't like having that decision made for me.  Writers are my favorite celebrities and I want to interact with them knowing they are proud of their work and proud of the finished product. I understand that every business is run by people and people make mistakes. Hopefully, they will realize they are not only hurting the authors but the readers that support them and come to a better decision.
Ok, I'm the tiger and that man represents everyone. I love you. I believe it will work out. 

Annnnnnnnnnnnnnnd end scene. Thanks for the opportunity to vent. I wish all the writers involved the best of luck. As for us, I promise to return to mindless post apocalyptic vanity... or perhaps a book review. Yet for now it won't be a book from Permuted Press.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

A Dark Path

Disclaimer... this is not a normal Pretty & Putrid post. 

I'm Nathan, Kitty Pandemic's husband. Normally I write horror books and the occasional humorous post for my darling wife's apocalyptic blog. Kitty allowed this departure from fabulous survival to discuss the loss of the funniest man in the world.

Serious topics ahead - proceed with caution.

A Dark Path by Nathan Barnes

The first non-animated television show I have clear memories of watching is Mork & Mindy. I remember watching its reruns (since the comedy was off the air a couple years before I was even born) and having my little mind blown at how much I enjoyed something not drawn for the Saturday morning circuit. Even now I can imagine me as a little boy, big head and neon socks, giggling at the funny alien man in colorful suspenders.

From then on I was a fan. Robin Williams pulled me back in with various roles throughout my life. Seeing his face made me feel brave enough to watch Hook. I wanted him to baby sit me after seeing him wear a wig and a dress in Mrs. Doubtfire. I rubbed random pots and pans after hearing him in Aladdin hoping that a genie with his voice would offer adventure. My taste matured through age and I discovered his dramatic roles. It wasn’t until my second time seeing One Hour Photo that I could fathom the darkness portrayed by someone so silly. Around the same time, his standup brought me to the brink of losing control over my bladder. How could I not be a lifelong fan? Enjoying such variety from the same face is a sure indicator of brilliance.

Ripples of Robin Williams’ tragic end continue to travel throughout the world. Days after his death we are seeing a flood of touching tributes to a man that was far more giving than anyone knew. His generous spirit and overwhelming warmth brought joy to millions. It is so important to focus on these happy stories because each one confirms his zaney onscreen personality was extended long after cameras stopped rolling. Now millions (myself included) are trying to cope with how this exuberant personality could abruptly end in such a horrible place.

You’d be hard pressed to find anyone that hasn’t experienced sadness from the headlines. There are those that are naturally sad for the loss, and others outraged by the wakeup call for care of the mentally unstable. Then there are those who relate to that wretched word - depression. We hear the word whispered often. But why whisper? Why does it need to be a secret? So taboo?

What is most unfortunate is that the silent struggle of a unique man never found enough volume to bring him potentially life-saving relief. Struggle is an integral component of life itself. We cannot have the highs in life without the lows. The infinite capacity possessed by our minds inherits more challenges than benefits. Depression presents itself as a break in the processing of struggle. It puts a wall around the switch that could illuminate a proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. Bad days happen to everyone - depression bridges the bad days to step past the good ones.

There are varying degrees of depression, of course. Robin Williams reached a point where the only feasible course of action was to end it all. Thankfully, for every person that reaches his level, there are a thousand more that don’t. We know all of this but we may not want to think about it, discuss it, or properly address this insurmountable scourge. So why the hell am I rambling about it?

I’m writing this as an outlet for thoughts that have surfaced since Mr. Williams ended his journey. You see, a couple years ago I accomplished a long time goal of becoming an author. Few things are as gratifying as spilling your thoughts onto a keyboard into something remotely coherent. So I’m doing what authors do best - ignoring a deadline in favor of another project. This isn’t a project as much as it is therapy. So here’s my dose of reality...

When I was a teenager I wanted to kill myself. My perpetually moving mind took me down a dark path where I felt that the best outcome would be an end to my life. I pondered methods and outcomes from fulfilling what I knew I needed to do. Thankfully, I never acted on these feelings. After dwelling on temptations of release from the veritable pit in which my brain had become trapped, I opted to ask for help. Imagining what my departure would have done to my parents was enough to keep me among the living. At the time I didn’t give a damn about me; however, subjecting those two people, who are saints by all standards, was a more than I could ever do.

Through the lens of adulthood I can easily look back at that time as nothing but a stupid teenage phase. What teenager doesn’t go through emotional turmoil? I want to say that I was overdramatic, that it was something absurd from a lifetime ago. I’d love to think this, yet, every few years I feel myself sinking back into that place. Even after finding the love of my life, fathering two mindblowingly great kids, working a steady job and writing books that don’t entirely suck, I still feel the pull of that dark path. I’m thankful that it never gets as bad as it once was but I despise the fact that I still feel it at all. Depression is a blot on your soul that can never fully wash away. Every day is a painful blessing once you’ve experienced it; it’s a day you’re left with a relic from the brink where death actually seemed better.

We’ve all thought about death. Curiosity is in our nature; what is more curious than the end of it all? How can you not imagine what the world would be like if you were taken out of the picture? The futility of this question is that you have to be around to obtain the answer. Each and every day I see the ones I love, I’m thankful it never got dark enough for me to lose sight of how important my continued existence could be.

Don’t see this as one of those ‘I know how he felt’ testimonials because that’s not my intention. I don’t know how Robin Williams felt, thank goodness for that. The ones who do know aren’t here to tell you. A rare few might have an idea because some divine intervention or dumb luck robbed them of that release. But the ones that really do understand aren’t suffering any longer, their path ended. What remains of that path is a trail of mourning family and/or friends that are irrevocably changed due to a mental war that was silently waged and lost. Moreover, there are countless others desperately in need of a chance to change course.

Could it have been prevented? Could Robin Williams have been saved? There will never be answers to those questions. I had a friend take her own life a few years ago. She was an animal lover that took a job as an exterminator. For months she learned about chemical pesticides, ultimately using that knowledge to end her suffering. This wasn’t a rash move brought on by a particularly bad day, it was a calculated action that required long term planning. Her planning went as far as writing a note advising what chemicals were used to protect first responders from exposure. Could that have been prevented? How do you stop a fully functioning adult from making that choice?

It’s logical to assume that if enough people suffer from it, then the medical community would aggressively chase the problem the way you would a cancer. There are treatments, programs, medicines and therapies for those afflicted. In spite of all those things, the dark path is still taken. Robin Williams had things that most of us can only dream of yet the result was the same. In the wake of his death we’re seeing a call to arms for reform. Yes, the world needs more devotion to treating the mentally ill. Yes, those affected must have better access to potentially life saving measures. But what can be done when most of the people needing help may not even know it?

I’ll finish my therapeutic rant with two messages...

To those threatened by depression -
You must understand that there is something wrong with you. Ignoring it is as effective as snuffing a candle with gasoline. However, just because there is something wrong with you doesn’t mean it’s your fault. Consider talking to someone if there are more bad days than good ones. In the times when you have no reason to be down, but are anyway, recognize that a problem exists. Anti-depressants or therapy aren’t a means to an end but rather a means to a beginning. They should not be permanent fixtures; they should give you a step to rise from the pit that currently holds you. Don’t beat yourself up if you sink back into it after recovery because scars rarely disappear entirely. And if you’re at that place where taking your life seems right… hit the pause button. Pausing before that final choice is made could turn out to be your most impactful hesitation ever. Death is easy; life is hard. You weren’t born into death so its important to give living a chance. There are people out there that will miss you, no matter what your thoughts currently believe. The dark path can end in the light.

To everyone else -
Imagine the worst day of your life. Now imagine having to experience those feelings multiple times a week. Sounds nightmarish, doesn’t it? It is. There are people around you that could be feeling some degree of this nightmare. Those people are ashamed for not experiencing happiness. They quietly fight a battle in their minds regardless of how convincing their front seems. Don’t accuse, don’t diagnose, don’t assume. Just be a human being! Your actions ripple in unseen ways. A random act of kindness could be the highlight of another’s day. Courtesy can be medicinal. Simply asking ‘are you okay’ might force that person to face the reality of the answer.

Rest in peace, Robin. Thank you for bringing laughs to multiple generations. I’m so sorry for what you went through. Now that it’s over I’m glad you’re at peace. The rest of us can take some solace in knowing whatever place waits in the great beyond is much funnier with you there.

Nathan Barnes is the author of The Reaper Virus, it's sequel due out in January2015, What Remains and My Friend Asmodeus. You can follow him or just stop by to see how he's doing on the book of faces or on the tweeter.  

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Fear Fitness

I know what you're thinking! This is another one of those posts telling us to get fit to survive the apocalypse... Bitch, please!  I'm eating nachos while I type this.  Besides if you haven't already figured out the whole cardio gig you may already be someones lunch. No, no, no.  This post is about so much more...

I'm already sexy.  I'm just working on my ninja stealth.

This is a proposal.  An opportunity for someone to join me on a fantastic idea!  You've seen Sweating to the Oldies, Buns of Steel and even Hip Hop Abs... But have you ever seen "Stabbing Stamina: Strength building to the music of Hitchcock's Psycho" or "Fear Fitness: How to keep a steady heart rate when you can't see through your Mask?" Of course you haven't!  Because I haven't made them yet. This could be your chance to get in on the ground floor of a fantastic fitness program.  You... Me... A few other talented people... working on "Horror Hoe-down."

Not sold on it yet?  Eat some nachos and I'll tell you more...

I LOVE 'Freddy and Jason Have Fun!'

What do you think all your favorite slashers, stalkers and maniacs do in their off season? Sure we all have theories.  I personally believe that Freddy uses an alias to do voice work and read books for, Michael Myers runs a bed and breakfast in the country,  Pinhead has a quaint little toy store with unique puzzles and games, Sam and Chucky partnered on a delicious cupcake recipe, Jason just watches a lot of "Lost" and "Orange is the New Black" on Netflix...

"So are they all dead?"

Now picture them all wearing sweatbands like Olivia Newton John....  Close your eyes, do it right now. What you are picturing is quite magical.  You can become a part of this magical magicness.  All you need is the magic of your wallet... 

Do you think Olivia Hellraiser John is ready to get physical?  (Big thanks to Mark Reynolds for piecing this together for us!!)

I know it's sexy in a very disturbing way.  Maybe this is what your dreams have always looked like. We now know for sure what will stir your loins tonight... no need to be ashamed.  But Pinivia Headon John needs to work up a sweat!  It's our job to help!! With your help we can make "Lets Get Maniacal:Music and Moves to Mangle Maidens."  I'm certain it would be a blu-ray success.  Think of all the good we could do for these poor, misunderstood, under-exercised fiends. 

Everyone else is running marathons these days... why not these guys?

Clearly, I'm the brains of this operation but I still need actors, directors, cameramen, audio people, whatever a best boy is, editors, choreographers and lots and lots of funding. Plus, all the necessary people to do stuff I'm unaware of. Is there a Nacho Maker on staff?  Is that what a best boy does? Hmmm... I need more. 

This could become a reality... 

Go ahead, get your wallets out and picture dollar signs in your eyeballs.  We will be kazillionaires AND help out an under appreciated horror community.  Make your checks out to me and while I wait for them to clear and kickstarter to accept my proposal, stay pretty and prepare!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Wookie of the Apocalypse

I'm told it's spring.

The weather however, has not been informed.  It's confused about what season it is and looks to the outfits of Earths inhabitants for help.  Unfortunately, girls wearing Ugg boots with mini skirts isn't really useful. Actually, it's absolutely appalling. This whole post is really just to bring up how ridiculous it looks.  Blame anyone wearing those stupid boots with a summer outfit and maybe we can get back to normal.  I don't know, maybe "Weather" is really a symbolic horse of the apocalypse.

No matter what reason weather has for being confused, be it "Ugh" boots or global warming, one thing is for certain... no one knows when to shave.

Men have half beards and women can't tell where the cat fur ends and the leg hair begins.  If we are this furry now, what will happen when Weather, the 5th horse of the apocalypse, decides it has had enough and it starts raining zombie snowflakes while it's 110 degrees out?

Everyone THINKS we will look like this when the apocalypse is upon us:

Look at all those smooooooooth faces!  I'm sure we're all thinking our fit, always active, malnourished bodies will probably be able to rock this little number too:

No claim to the ways of the dirty hippie here!  Skin is flaunted in the heat without regards to unsightly bushes, braids and happy trails.  And not a single undesired mustache anywhere.  Television has correctly taught us that when men remove their shirts, all we shall see are the very badass scars.  Not a back hair in sight!


Get use to this scene right here!

Back to the Ugg boots... seriously, that trend started like 10 years ago.  When are people gonna let it die?! Books have been burned for less criminal offense. Why haven't the people risen and taken to the streets?  The only reason not to destroy every pair now is to keep them to shame murderers and sex offenders in the new world. Why are prisoners given striped jumpers when they should just be wearing UGG's?!

Anyway, if you're not 100% on board with embracing the look of a wookie, take care of it NOW! Thanks to hipsters, straight razors are making a comeback and easy to find.  Learn to shave old school.  Even learn to make your own shaving soap.  Nothing like ripping your skin off because you were to lazy to take care of it! 

The other option: laser hair removal.  Although carrying a straight razor in your go bag is pretty cool, saying you use lasers to prepare for z-day is even cooler. Pew-pew-pew! 

Of course, Wookies are pretty sexy... 

I wouldn't mind cuddling with one of these hot balls of fur! <insert wookie love roar here!> So sexy.  Make your choice now; to fur or not to fur?  I'm not saying the weather is hinting at the end of the world but I am saying our continued tolerance of Ugg boots is. Choose wisely and remember, Stay pretty and prepare!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Screw You, Valentine's!: The Selfish Buying Guide

I hate Valentine's Day. I have always hated Valentine's Day.  I am married, have children and cats, all who love me because they are brainwashed, and I still hate Valentine's Day.  My official name for the holiday has been "Mushy-Mushy, Sap-Sap Crap Day" for as long as I can remember.

Every year, people splurge on over-priced flowers, cheap chocolates and dinner reservations at an over-crowded and over-hyped restaurant.  All in hopes for a little something-something behind closed doors. Why? Because some dead guy used to marry people to avoid sending them to war. Not because of love. It really has nothing do with romance at all. ( He is also rumored to have cured some blind chick and left her a note: "Your Valentine." Not even a good note.)  So on this, the day of his beheading, we cover everything in pepto-bismol pink and act nice for a day.

Well screw you, VALENTINE! No body tells me when to be nice.  (... although many have tried.  You'll never find the bodies.) When I want sexy-sexy business time, I get it. Most importantly, if I want trinkets and treats, I get the ones I want when I want NOT what the man tells me I should get. Bitches.

Why wait for your sugar daddy/mama to get you something you don't want?  I say fight the power! Shop and make yourself happy.

 So here is my Selfish Buying Guide.

  1. Booze: I have kids. Mushy-Mushy Sap-Sap Crap day is just another day I'm reminded why I drink.  The class parties I have to make cupcakes for, the little cards that I have to fill out... All of it.  When I'm done with their list, I've got a valentine of my own.  I'm going to sip on some sauce in these bad ass glasses!  Even if you prefer a non-alcoholic libation for St. Valentine, the detail on this glass makes it extra special. 
    $35 decrepit bones for this set of decaying hands.  I'll do anything not to hold my own glass.
  2. Jewelry: This is such a typical VD gift, as in I gave you VD and now I feel kind of bad. It's also good for Valentine's Day but this particular piece is best for Just Because I Want It Day: a revolver pocketknife necklace.  It's so confusing, it's perfect!!  The shop offers a selection of other firearms as well, perfect to adorn your neck but completed with a tiny little functioning knife.  Again: it's a necklace... with a gun charm... that pew-pew's a knife.  It's AMAZING!
    Available from Contrary on Etsy for $38
  3. BOOKS!!:  I love books.  I love hiding from everyone, snuggling in a corner and losing myself in a good story.  My entry into the selfish buying guide is one that I had on my list for a loooooong time and after years of being neglected, I got it my self. Which is why this list exists.  I even marked it HIGH PRIORITY on my wish list!  I digress... Night of the Living Trekkies!! Written by Kevin David Anderson and Sam Stall, the story delivers a hysterical blend of sci-fi culture, comedy and of course, zombies! A Star Trek convention goes  horribly wrong when the attendees turn into the hungry undead.  It's a fun story that is well written AND the only one I know that uses bat'leths and lirpas to fight off zombies.  I can't think of a better way to honor St. Valentine....
    Available on Amazon from $9-$21 depending on your format choice.  Just buy them all.

  4. The Best Bird Feeder EVER: There are few products out there that really impress me or that I find truly original.  This is one of them.  The bird feeder is a hanging zombie body and it's rotted-out torso holds your avian food of choosing.  It makes it look like the bird is picking at its guts!!  This will really piss off my neighbors.  I should buy a lot of them.  It's really the coolest novelty zombie product I have seen in a long time.  I love it! 
    From NeatoShop for $49.95
  5. MORE BOOKS!!:  This Stupid Mushy Crap Day does have one glimmering shinning light to it and that is the Eat Your Heart Out indie book event!  It's being hosted on the book of Faces and tons of authors have come together to offer a wide selection of ebooks for  99 symbolic copper pennies... from your credit card.  The sale officially begins on February 14th and ends when the authors say so.  Join the event, stock up on books, and support awesome writers! There are 30... yes THIRTY... authors participating in this event including Rhiannon Frater, Timothy Long, Eloise J. Knapp, Michael S. Gardner, Craig DiLouie, Tonia Brown(who apparently raises unicorns) and MANY, Many, many more awesome writers.  
    Lots and lots of choices!  Each only 99 cents!!
There you have it!  My first Selfish Buying Guide for 2014! Because no body knows how to spoil you like you.  And because F@*% Valentine's Day!

P.S. On February 19th, the Red Vein Army will be hosting an online Book Club.  All are welcome to join as we discuss At the Behest of the Dead by Timothy Long (one of the featured EYHO books for a buck!). This event is extra special as the author will actually be joining in to answer questions and discus the story!!  Don't miss it!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

True Story: My Husband Wrote a Book That Doesn't Suck

Full disclosure:  I'm about to pimp my Man-Meat.

Before I do so, I feel like there are a few things that I must mention.  First, I am indubitably the most verbally abusive individual to him.  On a regular basis and for no reason.  I don't know how to show feelings so I say mean and hurtful things instead of "you are a nice person" or "I've grown to tolerate your odor as well as your complimentary face." See.  I can't even type nice things.  Limiting my abuse to verbal is also inaccurate.  I have a tendency to pelt my bony fists at his voluptuous Wookie torso just because he wasn't expecting it.  While he recovers from my fierce attacks, I tend to humiliate and confuse him more by gently caressing his chest and whispering how I will murder him in his sleep.  He does nothing to deserve any of this.  Luckily, we don't have stairs or he would probably have to come up with a good list of excuses as to why he's in the ER for stitches so frequently.  Lucky for him indeed.
Affection is best shown with knives.  

The second thing I should mention is that I am insanely critical and for the most vain of reasons.  Remember, I started a blog to inform people how to be pretty when the world ends instead of prepared.  I don't want to have to witness any ugly!  I expect the best.  I don't like half-assed attempts at anything... from other people. I like to listen to quality music, drink quality alcohol  coffee, and read quality stories.  The last may be the most important on the list.  If I'm going to drop everything around me and devote my time to a book, it better damn well molest my brain with sexy, sexy thinking words.

With all that in mind, I would like to tell you the story of when my husband started writing a book...

I was terrified.  At first, it was just an idea.  He wanted to write a zombie book.  No big deal.  Everyone has ideas.  We talk about stuff, never do it.  But then he actually started writing.  The start of his book meant the start of my list of supportive but not too encouraging comments.  I needed to be ready to say something like "that was fun" or "now the dog can have something nice to look at while he's crapping!"

The day finally arrived when he had written enough to convey the start of his story and was ready to share.  He hands me a neatly stapled packet, approximately 40 pages of single spaced hopeful apocalyptic goodness. He holds my gaze with his----

His eyes.  If one nice thing can be said about my man-meat by me, it is that he is the most charming individual I have ever met.  He has eyes that change from blue to green on any given day and the longest lashes I have ever seen on a full grown Caucasian male. He works it.  "Can you please read this and tell me what you think?  It really means a lot to me." Slight fluttering of the eyes as he looks down then returns to hold my gaze.  "I value your opinion more than any ones."
The author checking out the first edition with some dead chick. 

I'm mean but not heartless.  I held the start of The Reaper Virus (then titled "Barely a Soul")in my hands and prepared myself to decide it's future... and by that I mean 'prepared to think of a way to let him down lightly.'

It begins with a tremendous amount of bitterness from the main character.  He was defeated.  Run down.  A husband and a father of two.  It was based on our life and our family but it was set in the future.  I didn't know these people.  He was writing about our daughter who wasn't even born yet.

The story captured all of the meticulous and analytical details that Nathan uses in his real life (some that have since been cut from the book.  You're welcome.  You have no idea HOW MUCH detail this man puts into lists.  For real, for real...).  The story continued to lay the ground work and so far, so good.  No overwhelming need to vomit.  No urge to drop it in the trash, throw it on the ground, set it on fire and then stomp it out with the kukri my husband makes reference to owning in the story.  My interest was piqued. Enough to keep reading...

And then SHIT GETS REAL!! By the time I finished reading the packet, I was ready to punch a Wookie but this time he deserved it.

I wanted more.  I needed to know what was going to happen next but it hadn't been written yet!  Seriously.  What an asshole move.  I didn't have to lie.  It was good.  It was solid.  A little wordy at the beginning but it was a story I had never read.  I NEEDED to read more.

So began The Reaper Virus blog.  And so you know, it was MY idea.  Not only that, I got to read each post before everyone else.  I was first.  Suck it bitches!

I, like many others, continued to follow the story of Nathan, the middle-aged, over-weight police dispatcher who got stuck at work when the world fell.  We watched as this simple, untrained family man used the few things he had and his ever-questioning mind to find a way out of the ruins of a burning city.  We saw him evolve as his friends and coworkers turned into monsters, infected with a mutating virus, their veins blackening and showing through their skin and their eyes dark and empty, craving the living.  The only thing driving him past the heavy onslaught of lethal and untiring obstacles: his desire to see his family.
Nathan: the Man, the Lego, the Legend.

It's a zombie story, sure.  But it's not about zombies.  It's about the people and the way crisis makes us change.  How we handle our fears and adapt to the unexpected.  It's easy to say what we think we would do in a disaster but The Reaper Virus shows us how one man challenges himself to do more.  As the story unfolds, we watch the protagonist soften as he focuses on his loved ones and harden against the remainder of humanity.  It's an easily identifiable dilemma for every citizen of earth and one that questions your own priorities.  The more I read, the more I rooted for this family.  I wanted to get to know them, to discover more about the people I hoped one day I would be.

For the record, he described our future children perfectly!  Our son is just like he is in the story and our daughter... well she can be that sweet sometimes.  It makes you wonder how much of the remaining story will come true.  Perhaps you should read it so you're prepared...

Our daughter turns four next month and this month The Reaper Virus sees it's second edition come to life with it's new home at Permuted Press.  The very same publisher that got us both hooked on the genre many years ago.  The re-release also includes a heart stopping alternate ending, one you will be glad is not the real ending but equally pleased that you got the chance to read!

So yes, I want you to check out my Man-Meats book... cough* The Reaper Virus by Nathan Barnes*cough...  I think you'd like it.  He's a far better writer than I am and I would never suggest something that would reflect poorly on myself.  Remember: I'm mean and vain.  Only the best!

(side note: Mr. Barnes has actually written for this lovely Pretty & Putrid thing before he stopped loving me and started calling himself an "author." You can check out his writing style a bit on these posts: )

Nathan Barnes is the author of The Reaper Virus and it's upcoming sequel The Reaper Virus: What Remains, both from Permuted Press.  He is also the author of the darkly humorous novella My Friend Asmodeus, available on Amazon.  Follow him on Facebook but not Twitter.  Twitter is Skynet says he. 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Undead Resolutions

Congratulations on surviving another year!  I didn't think it would happen either.  Really!  After a series of unfortunate events I was certain the world was ending.  Since we are still here, I suppose the best thing to do is get back to business.

Comic by Sean Bieri.  Oh, how it makes me laugh each year!
The last time we talked I promised some pics of my minions dressed as Hawkgirl and the Scarecrow. Yes, I am aware of how long ago that was and no, I have no plans for an apology.  It turns out, taking small children to a comic book convention is really tough and makes it incredibly difficult to look at stuff.  But still pretty fun.  It also requires about four months of recovery time.  Our minions happen to love all things spooky and creepy and undead (big surprise!) so it's a delight to see them excited.  I recommend taking your minions if you know you have any!

I wish you could see his glove better... It's so awesome!  She left a trail of destruction with that mace. 

Since we must all continue to function within the confines of society until someone "accidentally" releases a "vaccine" on the population to cure "stupidity," I thought it would be fun to come up with a list of resolutions for the upcoming year.  Mostly, so next year you can join me in a good laugh when I say I did none of it.  I really just like making lists.

  1. Write a list of things I'll never do.  BOOM!  I won't be a complete failure.  
  2. Build a robotic zombie unicorn to disperse radioactive glitter by way of it's flatulence.  I may actually do this one, too. If you have never had glitter in your eyes, you have no idea how badly that hurts.  It's like little metal shards cutting into all your fleshy parts.  Not only would this be hilarious and create immense amounts of sparkle-tude in the world but it would also be a very confusing way to infect the masses.  
    What makes it so majestic is also what kills you.  
  3. Eat a cookie.  I put this on every list I write.  It prevents me from being a complete failure at life. *munches on cookie*
  4. Pack our bug-out-bags... For real this time.  I bet you guys were all like 'These guys!  They're way prepared!' Well if by way prepared you mean always puts stuff in a safe place because it could be useful later and then forgets where that safe place is, then yes.  We're very prepared.  This year I would like to find where that safe place is and put my kids there gather all those safely guarded items together in one bag and put it somewhere even I can remember.  Maybe... design some kind of contraption that fits on your back and is capable of holding a great deal of smaller items... hmmm... would probably look awful.  Maybe strap something to each of my cats.  I'll need more cats...    I doubt this one will be completed anyway but it would be nice.  
    Is that a dinosaur?!  Carrying my water bottle should be a piece of cake!
  5. Design a System of Carrier Cats for use during the Apocalypse.  I believe this may be one of my top 100 ideas ever.  Lets say you've holed up in your home and you want to make a run for it but you don't have a clear view of the rest of your street and you're afraid to leave only to be devoured by the horde hiding behind the stop sign.  You'd be surprised how much a sign could obscure your view... Anyway, you can strap a message to your loyal and obedient feline to deliver to your neighbor a few houses down.  For you naysayers who may see this as cruelty to animals I say have you ever tried to catch a cat who doesn't want to be caught?  There is no way a zombie will snatch one of these furry friends unless they stop to sun themselves and lick their balls.  Which is possible.  Of course, they would also have to like the recipient... and the recipient would also need to open a can of cat food at the exact moment you disperse your message... but it could work.  Just a few kinks still.  
Well, I believe that is more than enough for unachievable goals.  I guess I could also add that I hope to do a better job tending to you via the internet but I don't want to give you false hope.  I'm not a liar.  Raise your weapons high!  Here's to our last year as pretty and unprepared preppers!! Soon we become survivors of the apocalypse!!!... Or maybe it'll be just another year.  Who knows?  Let us know what goals you've made to not accomplish.  Until then, stay pretty and prepare!