Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Book Review: Case File 13 - Zombie Kid by J. Scott Savage

It's been awhile since I've reviewed a middle-grade book, so I was excited when an ARC of Case File 13 Zombie Kid by J. Scott Savage arrived in the mail.

The awesome cover stared at me for days, tempting me to ignore the writers conference. You'll be happy to know I didn't succumb to the temptation, but it was hard.

The summer is over and there's a chill in the morning air. Halloween is just around the corner. It's a perfect time to read a monster book, so when I sat down to read I had high expectations.

I enjoyed Zombie Kid. And I'm not just saying that because I have mashed potatoes on my head.

The book is full of hair raising situations, sandwich loving ghosts, talking cats, arch-enemy girls, evil curses, alligators, voodoo queens, zombies . . . and fart jokes. Yep, it has it all.

The story starts off with three monster-obsessed boys who quickly find themselves in the middle of a voodoo war, and one of them is turned into a zombie. Cool, huh? It's not all fun and games though as they struggle to reverse the curse.

I especially like how Jeff brings zombies back to their roots. These aren't some mamby-pamby-virus-zombies or glowing-radiation-zombies or high-tech-genetically-modified zombies. These are true voodoo zombies controlled by an evil Bokor. Oh, yeah!

Case File 13 Zombie Kid is creepy, quirky, and cool. It's scary enough to keep your attention, but not so much to give you nightmares. Oh, and try not to get too grossed out.

I've known Jeff for many years. He's written so many different things from a fantasy series and a mystery series to technological thriller and more and more, so I was especially curious what made this book so special to him. Here's what he said:
This is probably the closest story I’ve ever written to what I was like as a kid. I never turned into a zombie (although I might have seemed like it in my early teen years), but I loved monsters, explored all kinds of creepy places, and Halloween really was my favorite holiday. I attended Pleasant Hill Elementary and played on Dinosaur Hill. So writing Zombie Kid was a lot like recapturing my youth.
I never thought anyone would want to publish the Case File 13 series. It was too much my own twisted sense of humor, my own loves, my own story. Even when I sent it to my agent, I did so with lots of disclaimers. When he told me how much he loved it, I was still apologizing for even sending it to him. And then, when Harper snatched it up in a three book deal, I was floored. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one who experienced those kinds of things as a kid, and still enjoys these types of stories.
Don't worry Jeff. If it turns out that you're crazy, then I'm right there with you. Bring on more monster books.

Case File 13 Zombie Kid comes out in December 2012, so you don't have long to wait to get yourself a copy.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Just Quit

Since the conference, I've spent a lot of time writing. I love creating stories in my mind and crafting words to convey them.

I'm reminded of a piece of advice I heard somewhere. It's advice given from an experienced author to someone just starting out. And it goes like this:
"Quit. And if that doesn't work, roll up your sleeves and pay the price for success."
While that advice seems harsh, there's a lot of truth there. Over the years, I've given up a lot of things. Some things I gave up because I didn't have the money to afford it. Others I gave up because I didn't have the time. Many things I gave up, because I wanted to do something different.

And over the years, I've quit writing. I've put it on the shelf in order to do other things. But every time, I come back to it. I like it. It makes me happy.

So, I've made a pact with myself. I'm going to finish the second draft of my Thor story and finish the first draft of a to-be-started story before the end of the year. And if I have time, I'll finish the second draft of my Dreamer story as well.

That's a lot of stuff to do, but since quitting hasn't worked for me. I might as well roll up my sleeves and pay the price.

So, what's the best writing advice you've heard? Not the advice that sounds the best, I want to know what advice caused you to increase the quality or quantity of your writing the most.

* This picture of a Go game taken by Luis de Bethencourt looked so good, it made me want to learn how to play. You should check out his other photos.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The First Storymakers Midwest Conference

It's done.

It feel so good and so sad to say that.

The LDStorymakers Midwest conference is over. I had a wonderful time. It's always a pleasure to get together with fellow writers to learn from each other and strengthen our friendships.

The conference wasn't too big which was nice. We had about 40 people and an awesome group of presenters, so everyone got to rub shoulders with some very talented authors. Just take a look at this list of awesomeness: Traci Abramson, Don Carey, Karen Hoover, Heather Justesen, Josi Kilpack, Laurie Lewis, Lisa Mangum and Steve Westover. The whole thing was organized by Danyelle Ferguson and Lynn Parsons, and it was . . . well . . . awesome!

I'm still gathering my thoughts, but here are a few things I learned:
My view of dialog was too narrow. I need to open my mind to a new way of thinking to take my writing to the next level. Thanks Traci.
Authors can be great role models for children. Even when they do teach your daughter how to disrupt an entire class from the back of the room and supply the laser pointer to do it. Thanks Karen.
It's awesome to have friends who inspire you to be better, celebrate with you when you succeed, support you through the hard times, and are willing to tell you how it is when you need them.
Being a Tech Guy isn't so bad when you get great advice and work with good equipment. Thanks BJ.
Music brings people together and can be used to teach writing techniques. Thanks Don & Karen.
Average results require average effort. Good results require double-average effort. Great results require double-good efforts. This conference was great. Thanks, Danyelle, Heather, Don, and Lynn.
When you get writers around a dinner table, you'd be suprised at the mind-boggling variety of conversation topics that come up. From science to history to teenager's habits to the best place to hide a body.
I'm not quite ready to buy a Lamborghini. There are still a few things I need to do to keep my house in order. But there are things I can do today to get ready for that adventure someday. Thanks Lisa.
Great friends are worth their weight in gold. Great writer friends are worth their weight plus three-or-four-boxes-of-books weight in gold.

For everyone who went to the conference. It was so much fun to meet you. For those who weren't there, I hope to see you next year.
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* Background image based on Night Sky theme by Ray Creations