Zombie Books for Kids

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I was terrified of monsters when I was a child. I was convinced there were ghosts living in my closet and refused to sleep in my own room for several weeks in a row. I think my fear stemmed from my lack of exposure to monsters. I didn’t read monster books or watch monster movies, but one of my friends at school told me about ghosts, which completely freaked me out. Kids will find out about monsters one way or another, so it’s good to tell them about monsters when they’re young and explain that they aren’t real.

When I had my baby girl last year I knew I wanted to start reading zombie books to her because I didn’t want her to be afraid of them. I was scared of zombies until I was about twenty-nine years old – don’t judge! I came around. So I perused my local bookstores for kid-friendly monster books. I found some cute ones about Sea Monsters, Dragons, and even Yeti, but zombie books for children are hard to find (imagine that!). I started scouring Amazon for zombie books for little ones and found a few gems as well as a few duds.

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Hands down, the best zombie book for kids is Zombelina by Kristyn Crow. My ten-month-old daughter loves this book. She starts wiggling when she sees the bright red cover. I don’t know if she likes the soothing rhyming text, or the colorful pictures, but this is by far her favorite book. It’s about a little zombie who wants to learn how to dance, so her mom signs her up for ballet classes. On the day of her big recital the audience gets freaked out by the zombie onstage and flees the theater. But Zombelina dances for her family of monsters, and she’s a big hit! The rhyming text is so clever, and there are several puns that parents will appreciate. My favorite line is: “They said my performance was HAUNTING tonight! My family makes everything turn out all right. ‘You sure came ALIVE on the stage!’ my mom said…But I was DEAD tired. Yaaaawwwwnnnn. So I danced off to bed.”

Five stars all the way for Zombelina. There’s a sequel coming out in September called Zombelina Dances the Nutcracker. I’m getting a copy for my baby girl for sure!

http://www.amazon.com/Zombelina-Kristyn-Crow/dp/0802728030/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1437332848&sr=8-1&keywords=zombelina

Another cute zombie book for kids is Zombie in Love by Kelly DiPucchio. It’s about a zombie named Mortimer looking for a date to Cupid’s Ball. He places an ad in the newspaper to find a date: Tall, Dead & Handsome. He writes, “I’m dying to meet you.” Poor Mortimer waits and waits by the punch bowl for his dream date to show up…and eventually a “drop-dead” gorgeous girl named Mildred approaches him. It’s love at first bite! The pictures might be a tiny bit scary for little ones, but I think any kid over the age of four should be okay with this book.

http://www.amazon.com/Zombie-Love-Kelly-DiPucchio/dp/1442402709/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1437332876&sr=8-1&keywords=zombie+in+love

There is one zombie book I wouldn’t recommend for very small children. That’s Not Your Mommy Anymore by Matt Mogk would be okay for older kids (seven- to eight-year-olds), but younger children would probably be terrified by the concept. It’s about a little boy whose mother turns into a zombie and tries to eat him. The little boy has to run away from home and ends up finding a group of other kids who’ve had to flee their homes too. I read this book to my four-year-old niece before reading it on my own…oops! She asked, “Why is the mommy biting that man?” and “Why is there blood?” Even though this is a picture book, it seems like it’s meant for older children because of the gore and scary storyline. Someone gave this book to me as a gift, so I’ll hang onto it and give it to my daughter when she’s older (perhaps when she’s a teenager and wishes I were a zombie).

http://www.amazon.com/Thats-Not-Your-Mommy-Anymore/dp/156975926X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1437332899&sr=8-1&keywords=that%27s+not+your+mommy+anymore

There’s a series of books called Abigail and her Pet Zombie by Marie F. Crow, which is perfect for beginning readers. They’re cute stories about a five-year-old girl and her zombie. The first book teaches acceptance and reminds kids not to judge a book by its cover. I have the Abigail series on my Kindle, and I’ll buy the paperback versions for my daughter when she’s a little older and can read. These books are perfect for kids between the ages of three and six. They’re not scary at all, and the pet zombie isn’t very gory. These are indie books (hooray for indies!!). If you’re looking for zombie books for little ones and you want to support an indie author then you should buy these books!

http://www.amazon.com/Abigail-Her-Zombie-Marie-Crow/dp/0989424286/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1437332924&sr=8-1&keywords=abigail+and+her+pet+zombie

You’ll find hundreds of dinosaur picture books on Amazon, and countless books about farm animals, but there aren’t an abundance of zombie books. Even though there are only a handful of choices, I was able to find some fun options. With the zombie craze at its peak, it’s inevitable people will want zombie books for their little ones. Hopefully my baby girl won’t be terrified of monsters like I was when I was a kid… because how can a child be scared of an adorable zombie ballerina?

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Zombie Guide Magazine’s Review of “Where’s My Dinner”

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One of my favorite zombie authors, Ian McClellan, reviewed Where’s My Dinner for Zombie Guide Magazine. I feel deeply honored that Mr. McClellan enjoyed my book because I’ve been a huge fan of his for a long time. If you’re not familiar with his work, I recommend reading his first novel, Zombie Apocalypse 2012: A Political Horror Story. It’s the funniest zombie book I’ve ever read. His book made me laugh so hard I couldn’t breathe. Of course you’ll love it, so you’ll also want to read his second novel, One Undead Step.

You can find his books on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Zombie-Apocalypse-2012-Political-Horror/dp/147820138X/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1433308717&sr=8-2&keywords=ian+mcclellan

http://www.amazon.com/One-Undead-Step-Zombie-Novel-ebook/dp/B00IK9RQV4/ref=la_B0088Q14BM_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1433308736&sr=1-2

If you’re looking for more zombie tales, you might want to check out my 1950’s zombie novel. Here is Ian McClellan’s review of Where’s My Dinner:

http://www.zombie-guide.com/book-review-wheres-my-dinner/

In the mid-1950’s, a virus begins turning only women into zombies. As fearsome female flesh-eaters rampage, society begins to crumble.

Believe it or not, there are people out there who look down their noses at zombie books. If there is a single, overwhelming complaint that I hear, it’s that they are all the same. I don’t find that to be true at all, but I probably read more zombie books than the average person whereas most of those folks are likely just forming their opinions based on a small sampling. While I don’t feel the need to push my literary leanings onto others like some zombie book Jehovah’s Witness, if I could make the “they’re all the same” crowd read one zombie book, it would be Where’s My Dinner. This story is very unique. Set in the 50’s, it tells the tale of Rose-Lynne, a columnist and terrible cook (basically, a radical feminist in 1950’s America) who tries to get along with the other ladies in the neighborhood, all of whom live to look their best and dote on their husbands. When those ladies start turning into zombies, the men folk come to realize they’re incapable of taking care of themselves.

This book struck a bit of a personal chord with me. I didn’t grow up in the 50’s (I’ll be 38 next month) but I was raised in a very patriarchal, old fashioned home. I left that home at seventeen to live with the woman who would eventually become my wife. She did most of the domestic stuff while I worked a few jobs. Things often don’t work out the way you plan, and I became a single man who was (and still is) an awful cook, didn’t know how to work his washing machine, got headaches after looking at the bills for a couple of minutes, and was generally inept in every way when it came to keeping a home. If not for the kindness of some good friends who had me over for supper quite often, I may have starved in those first few years. Luckily, there were no children involved. I can’t fathom how I would have managed. I can easily imagine a complete meltdown in a world full of guys just like me who were suddenly forced to fend for themselves and their kids.

Where’s My Dinner is a quick, fast paced, and fun read. The main character is a true underdog who doesn’t just have zombies to worry about, but society, as well. The story has some great dry humor sprinkled throughout. There is definitely some tension, but not many scares. It’s a very PG-13 tale and, while I enjoyed it immensely, it may not be for the folks out there who are gore hounds. For me, this one gets five stars and two emphatic thumbs up!

http://www.amazon.com/Wheres-My-Dinner-J-Michel-ebook/dp/B00XLKIHK6/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1433308872&sr=1-1&keywords=where%27s+my+dinner

“Where’s My Dinner?” is now available!

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Hot Diggity Dog! My 1950s zombie novel is now available on Amazon. I wrote the first draft right after I moved from Maryland to California. I was living with my in-laws, hadn’t started my new job yet, and didn’t really know what to do with all my free time. I figured I had two choices: I could sit on the couch while watching TV and stuffing my face with chips, or I could write a book. After two days of couch-sitting-TV-watching-chip-eating bliss, I decided to write a book. Unlike my first novel, I didn’t have an outline for Where’s My Dinner?, but the ideas started flowing and I couldn’t stop writing.

http://www.amazon.com/Wheres-My-Dinner-Cornell-Michel/dp/1940938457/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

After I finished my first draft, which wasn’t particularly good, I revised several times, and then I enlisted my trusty group of beta readers. A big thank you to Lynne, Kenric, Ian, Alison, Anne, Linda, Cristiane, and Scott for their invaluable feedback. I also received tons of helpful advice from my fabulous editors, Edward M. Wolfe and Amy Eye. They are two of the most talented editors I’ve ever worked with. And of course I owe a big thank you to my publisher, Line by Lion Publications. I met the owner of Line by Lion at Fandomfest in 2013. My mother bought her book, Hunter the Horrible, and Amanda bought my first novel, Jordan’s Brains. I was thrilled when she emailed me a few months later and offered me a publishing contract for my next book.

My wonderful mother (and best friend) was kind enough to edit Where’s My Dinner? three times, and she vastly improved the story. I dedicated this book to her because she was my ultimate editor. She wrote middle grade novels, picture books, and she was a voracious reader. She passed away six weeks ago at the young age of fifty-nine. My heart is shattered, but I’m trying to focus on all the good times we had together (there were so many). Mom always told me there were way too many wonderful books in the world to read in her lifetime – I’m hoping she has a full bookshelf in heaven.

**Deep breath**

I’m not sure when I’ll start writing my next novel. I have a seven-month-old baby whom I read to every day, and I’ve fallen in love with children’s picture books, so I’ve started writing my own. I have four finished manuscripts, and I’m working on an idea for a fifth book. After I had my baby, I was afraid I wouldn’t have any time to write, but I’m able to scribble notes on post-its and steal ten minutes here and there to fix my drafts. I’m grateful I still find time to write, and I’m so happy my mother finally published her book, Annie Blue-Eyes, last year. Now my daughter will be able to “know” her nana by reading her book. As Meg Rosoff said, “Your writing voice is the deepest possible reflection of who you are. The job of your voice is not to seduce or flatter or make well-shaped sentences. In your voice, your readers should be able to hear the contents of your mind, your heart, your soul.”

Mom reading to me and my brother:

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Me reading to my baby girl:

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Books for Grown Ups

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My reading habits have changed quite a bit since I had a baby six months ago. I used to read at least one zombie book a week, but after my little nugget came along I didn’t have much time for novels. I started reading children’s books to my baby girl when she was five days old, and since then I’ve fallen madly in love with picture books. I’ve had to limit myself to buying only one children’s book per week, otherwise I wouldn’t have any money to pay my mortgage. Picture books are surprisingly addictive. To get my fix, I often spend my lunch hours in the children’s section of the Chronicle bookstore near my office. My favorites are Little Pea, Hippos Go Berserk, and The Boss Baby.

Despite my recent addiction to children’s book, I’ve had time to read three “grown up” books over the past couple months. It’s nice to indulge in novels when I have a few moments to spare. My baby is napping right now, so I’m using these valuable minutes to post reviews of the “grown up” books I’ve been able to enjoy recently.

Rage and Ruin: Zombie Fighter Jango #3 by Cedric Nye

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00P7SB4BY/ref=pdp_new_dp_review

Zombiefighter Jango is by far the most unique character in any zombie book I’ve ever read. There are thousands of zombie books out there, and too many of them have flat characters. That’s not the case with this book. Jango is the ultimate zombie fighting machine. After being abused as a child, whenever Jango comes across an abuser he goes on a killing rampage. Being inside Jango’s head is so very fascinating because he has Dissociative Identity Disorder. You never know which one of Jango’s personalities will come through.

Aside from having a captivating protagonist, Rage and Ruin has the perfect balance of action and description. I felt like I was right alongside Jango as he was singlehandedly battling a horde of a thousand zombies. Cedric Nye’s writing style is so fluid that you forget you’re reading a book and you get pulled into the story. I wish there were more books out there like this one.

Children of the Mark by Michael W. Garza

http://www.amazon.com/Children-The-Mark-Michael-Garza-ebook/dp/B00TVLFQP8/ref=cm_cr-mr-title

Children of the Mark is a horror story, but it’s perfect for teenagers because it’s scary but not overly gory. The story follows three high school students who stumble upon a spine-chilling ritual performed by the Cult of the Elder. The main character, AJ Scott, is attacked by a demon during the ritual, and then he starts having eerie visions. He digs deeper to find out more about the cult and quickly realizes he’s in way over his head.

The ending is exciting and satisfying, but it also leaves room for a sequel. I hope this becomes a series because I’m dying to find out what kind of trouble AJ gets into next. I highly recommend Children of the Mark to teenagers (and adults) who are into horror.

Time of Death: Induction by Shana Festa

http://www.amazon.com/Time-Death-Induction-Volume-1/dp/1618682725/ref=cm_cr-mr-title

The main character, Emma Rossi, is perfectly flawed in a way that makes her endearing to readers. You can’t help but root for the clumsy protagonist and her yappy dog, Daphne. I must say that I can’t stand zombie stories that kill dogs (I’m pointing my finger at I am Legend – shame, shame). I’ll try not to include any spoilers in my review, so I won’t give away what happens to the dog, but I will admit there are several nail-biting (paw-biting?) moments in the book.

The writing is solid and the plot moves along quickly. Emma is a strong character with a snarky attitude but is determined to find the silver lining in the darkest of times. Zombie books rarely have happy endings, but there was a bit of hope at the conclusion of Time of Death, leaving room for the sequel. The second book in the series, Time of Death: Asylum, was published in December of 2014. I’m looking forward to cracking open the next book. If you’re a fan of action-packed yet character-driven zombie tales, then I highly recommend you read the Time of Death books.

That’s all for now, folks. Maybe I’ll have time to read three more novels in the next three months. Uh-oh, my baby is waking up, which means it’s time to read Little Pea again!

Zombie Prepping for Parents

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My five-month-old daughter woke me up in the wee hours of this lovely Sunday morning, and seeing her smiling face reminded me of how grateful I am that zombies don’t exist. Sure, they’re fun to write about, but a real zombie apocalypse would make parenthood exponentially harder. Parents of young children suffer from lack of sleep as it is. If you throw zombies into the mix, all the sleep deprived parents will turn into figurative zombies. Hmm…I just got an idea for my next book.

Watching the season five group of The Walking Dead struggle with keeping baby Judith alive has been especially distressing for me because I know how hard it is to care for an infant, even without being constantly hunted by flesh-eating corpses. With the difficulties Rick’s group has faced this season, it’s made me realize how much we should appreciate life before the zombies show up and start raining on our parade.

As I count down the hours until The Walking Dead airs tonight (eight), I’m wondering what will happen to the group now that they’ve safely arrived at Aaron’s camp. Will they settle in and make a home there? Surely they can’t be safe and comfortable for too long or the show would be over. There must be something wrong with their new safe haven, but all I can think is, “Thank goodness Judith is finally safe!” Travelling out in the open with an infant during the zompoc is pretty much a death wish.

Before I became a mom, I was firmly in the “go out and fight zombies” camp. Now I’m in the “board up the windows and doors” camp. That’s a huge lifestyle change for a zombie prepper. I find myself stocking up when canned goods are on sale. While I was unpacking groceries last week, my husband raised his eyebrows at the ten cans of Chef Boyardee ravioli. My two-word answer explained everything: “Zombie apocalypse.” He knowingly smiled and stacked the cans at the back of the pantry. My husband is a sweet man for putting up with my zombie-related quirks, but he’ll be thanking me once zombies overrun the planet.

Thinking about the extra challenges parents of young children will face during the zombie apocalypse, I came up with five tips for parents who want to prepare for such an event:

  1. Diapers, folks, diapers! If my baby girl wears the same diaper for more than three hours, you can smell it from a mile away. That’s not hyperbole. Literally, a mile away. If zombies have a heightened sense of smell (they will), you’ll be drawing every zombie in the area to your family. I know most people use disposable diapers (guilty), but you should stock up on cloth diapers because you’ll need them until your little darlings are potty trained.
  2. Baby food. I’ve noticed canned baby food has a shelf life of less than a year, so when the zombies have settled in, and all the prepared baby food has expired, you’ll need to make your own. Since the electricity will be out, your food processor will be useless (unless you get crafty and use the blade as a weapon). Make sure you have something you can use to grind solid foods into mush for your baby.
  3. Toys and books. I know what you’re thinking. Who cares about toys when zombies are swarming the earth? Trust me, your kids will care. While you’re defending your fortress, the children are going to be bored, bored, bored. Make sure they have activities to keep them busy so they stay out of trouble and don’t wander off (Carl, season two, you know what I’m talking about). Also, save as many books as you can! I’m talking about real books. Kindles will be useless once the power goes out, and we’ll need real books to educate our children and teach them what the world was like before the dirty diaper hit the fan.
  4. Smiles. I’m sure it seems trite, but unless you want your kids to end up like Lizzie in season four, you’ll need to nurture your little ones so they don’t become unhinged by the zombie apocalypse. Make sure you take time out of your zombie fighting routine to spend quality time with your children.
  5. For the love of God, stay indoors! The only reason to leave your home with your little ones is if the safety of your house is compromised. If you want to go out on a run to find family members or raid the local superstore, don’t bring along the kids. Have a family member stay in a secure place with the children until you return. If it’s just you and your kids, don’t leave your house! Let the rest of your family come to you.

If you follow the five tips above, you’ll have a much better chance of keeping your babies safe and content. My little angel is napping soundly in her chair, and I’m happily sipping my second cup of coffee, thankful that we don’t have to deal with zombies just yet, but knowing that we’ll be prepared if the zombie apocalypse happens during our lifetime.

Walker Stalker Con – San Francisco

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December through February is a bleak time for fans of The Walking Dead as we wait for our favorite show to return, but San Francisco TWD fans saw the light at the end of the walkerless tunnel a weekend early in the form of Walker Stalker Con. This glorious convention had everything a zombie fanatic could want: the crème de la crème of The Walking Dead cast members, cosplay, food trucks, and of course, my personal favorite, vendors hawking their zombie wares.

My co-author/mother-in-law, Anne Barrett, ran an artist booth with me over the weekend. Hands down, coolest mother-in-law of all time. Not only did she write a zombie book with me, she spent her weekend working at a Walking Dead convention. We had a blast mingling with zombie fans and fellow vendors. We arrived at the convention center at 7:30 AM on Saturday, and set up our booth in a record twenty minutes.

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When the doors opened at 9:00 AM and the zombie fans started pouring in we met some fascinating people. After chatting with a few zombies, I took advantage of a lull in the crowd and snuck over to Michael Rooker’s table for a quick photo. I absolutely loved Merle because he somehow went from being a lecherous bigot to a caring brother who ended up sacrificing himself for a chance to kill the Governor and save team prison. His was the most badass death on the show. I AIN’T GONNA BEG!

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Rooker was one of the few actors who seemed to genuinely enjoy the convention. He was happy to meet his fans and had a smile on his face most of the day. I don’t blame the other actors for looking dead tired by the end of the day, but Rooker was still full of energy when others were starting to look fatigued. Meeting him was a true pleasure, but it reminded me of how sad I am that Merle is no more.

The general admission folks (my kind of people) were allowed in at 10:30 AM, and that’s when things at our booth got busy. We met dozens of people dressed as zombies, but my favorite was a zombie wearing a pinstriped suit and matching top hat. I love dapper zombies.

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I was surprised by how many small children attended the convention. We got to meet most of the adolescent attendees because we had a zombie head filled with free candy. Fact: people don’t come to these types of conventions to buy books, so we had to lure people to our booth with sweets. If I looked like Laurie Holden I wouldn’t have to resort to such measures, but average looking folks like me have to use chocolate to sell books. Our tactics worked though, and we sold every single one of our books. I’d like to take a moment to thank Snickers, Milky Way, and Reese’s for their contribution to my success. Maybe I should quit writing books and open a candy store.

The highlight of my weekend was meeting Josh McDermitt. I liked Eugene Porter from the very beginning. Much like Eugene, I’m socially awkward and tend to spout off phrases like “highly classified” when I don’t want to talk about something. Too bad his pants were on fire, liar, liar! I forgive Eugene though. He did what he had to do to survive, and I hope he wakes up from his Abraham-induced coma soon.

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McDermitt was hilarious in person. I had no idea that he’s a stand-up comic! He’s naturally theatrical and has a smile that could light up a crowded convention center. I’m praying they don’t kill off Eugene. The Walking Dead keeps killing my favorite characters, and they need to cut it out!

The Walker Stalker Convention was unlike any other con I’ve attended. I think it was the zombie-centric feel that made it so special. Sorry Wizard World, Walker Stalker Con is my new favorite convention. I had a spectacular time and plan on attending next year. I better start stockpiling fun-sized candy bars so I can bribe more people to buy my books next year.