Zombie Awareness Month

Hey people.

May is Zombie Awareness Month. Why is that, you ask? Well, apparently a hell of a lot of Zombie movies take place in May. I don’t know why, perhaps people think that the beauty of spring contrasts thematically to shambling corpses so nicely. Or the rebirth of animated corpses mirroring the rebirth of of nature. In the northern hemisphere, anyhow.

So, here are some things to help you celebrate Zombie Awareness Month. You can send your friends a witty postcard to let them know the joy of Zombie Awareness Month. You can deck out your Twitter and Facebook Avatars with these handsome Twibbons. Finally, you can buy Zombonauts, the anthology in which my “Zombies in Space” story appears.

Other cool Zombie related media include The Zombie Chronicles by Canada’s own James Melzer, The Zombie Doubleshot stories by Jennifer Hudock, and the Lost Zombies project. Have fun, and if you see any shambling corpses, call the authorities! They won’t listen to you or anything, but it can’t hurt.

But call them as you are running away from the zombies. That’s just good sense.

Edward G. Talbot is rocking the shorts

Ebook shorts, that is! This Mayday, May 1, 2010, Edward G. Talbot is releasing two ebook collections of short stories. A Funny Pair of Shorts contains three humorous shorts, while  A Horrifying Pair Of Shorts has three horror stories. Each set is only 99 cents!

Being the upstanding writer-type he is, you can read a sample of the stories, so you know what you are getting into.

For all of the details, including a groovy contest, go to Edward G. Talbot’s site right now!

New Music From the Hold Steady

Anyone who knows me, or who has read Lost Gods, knows how important The Hold Steady is to me. I am pretty sure they are the best band making music right now, and I often (or always) listen to them when I am writing.

In Lost Gods, Coyote takes Anansi to a Hold Steady show. That concert experience was lifted from my own expereince seeing the band at the Opera House here in Toronto a few years back:

The lights went down, and the curtains opened, revealing a somewhat motley looking group of musicians in standard rock and roll formation. Drums, keyboard, lead and bass guitar, fronted by a wildly enthusiastic front man. They launched into their first song, a story of booze soaked love and redemption that managed to avoid being cliché, and the crowd exploded. Coyote’s eyes were shining as he looked at the stage, wide with wonder and delight.

“Let’s go down,” he shouted. We swept down the stairs, and immediately felt the wall of heat from the crowd. Coyote, with a carnivore’s instinct for sneaking around unnoticed, lead us in a winding path through the packed bodies, until we were directly in the middle of them. We settled in behind two large indie kids, their shoulders making an inverted proscenium arch through which I had the perfect view of the stage. Song after song, the band played, drank, and communed with their audience. The subject material was dark; people living on the fringes of life, with a tenuous grasp on reality. I could relate. What was amazing is that no matter how dark the song, no matter how bleak the lives of the characters, the singer was so enthusiastic, so happy. The show was like a perfect distillation of joy, for all to indulge in. Joy as the new drug. And the audience was hooked. For over two hours the band played, giving their heart and soul to this celebration of life. It was staggering. Finally, they finished, and we went out into the night.

All this to introduce the new album, streaming below. Enjoy.

A conversation about eBooks

Recently I had the opportunity to join fellow podcasters Scott Roche and James Melzer in a Skype discussion about eBooks. We talked about different distribution models, Smashwords, how to publicize our efforts and more.

James had a lot of interesting things to say regarding the free model, and it seems that the conversation has helped focus his thoughts, because today he announced that he will be giving his short fiction away for free.

Scott has posted the discussion on his website. I hope you find it interesting.

She’s at it again!

Jenny Hudock is an unstoppable force of fiction. This week she has not one, but 2 stories for sale. I know what you’re thinking “She’s just trying to milk us for $1.98. I see what she’s doing there!” Well, you couldn’t be more wrong.

It’s 2 stories, for 99 cents. I bet you feel like a bit of a tool now, eh? Wanna know more? You can also get a podcast version free with purchase of the eBook.

So, get yourself over to Smashwords, and check this one these two out. Here’s a little taste:

Treed

I know it’s stupid, but I wish I had a backpack full of brains instead of a week’s supply of granola and dried fruit. Unfortunately when you’re packing for a big hike, the last thing you really worry about is how you’re going to fend off the walking dead. I’m more or less convinced that a backpack full of brains would be a good distraction, allowing me to climb down from this tree while they were feasting and run away.

So far, the tree has been a pretty safe haven. The dead aren’t smart enough to climb trees; they’re clumsy. These last two hours though, their focus seems to have gotten sharper, and I know it’s because I’m the only meal within a ten mile radius. And that is where the brains would come in handy. I’d only need to throw one or two of them and then watch them all stumble after it like broken dogs fighting over a bone.

Instead of brains though, I have granola bars and banana chips and enough water to choke a horse in the desert. I don’t even have a gun, and even if I did, I wouldn’t know the first thing about how to use it. I’m just a girl, and before you say, “Well I guess that was your first mistake,” I’ll have you know that I survived the first attack. I swung my way through a wave of hungry, dead campers while my boyfriend Keith was overwhelmed and torn limb from limb like a Thanksgiving turkey at a homeless shelter.

The last thing I heard him say was, “Run, Laura! Run!” That second “run” was wet, and it gurgled in his throat like hair in a clogged drain.
I didn’t ask questions. With a heavy branch in my hand, I picked up my feet and booked outta there Olympic-gold-medal-track-runner-style.

Keith’s garbled screams echoed off the canyons, and I ran until I couldn’t hear them anymore. By the time I stopped to catch my breath and shed a couple of tears, I was lost.

When we were attacked, we had already hiked about two days from the state park parking lot. Silly me left Keith in charge of both the compass and the GPS, which meant I was more or less screwed, and I wasn’t going back for either one. I didn’t even realize just how badly I was screwed until I circled back around the same rock formation the fifth time, stifling my own screams of frustration.

That was then I saw them. There were five of them staggering toward me in dusty clothes, their gore-crusted mouths gaping, innards strewn like gutted trout. Three of them were pretty badly decomposed from the smell of them, and the other two looked more like recent victims. Possibly even victims of the rotting corpses leading the way.

For a second I was scared that Keith was right behind them, but so far there’s been no sign of him.

Hey, I have a story up at Smashwords!

Hey all you beautiful people,

I know what you are saLasVegasCoverBlogying right now. “Drew is being awfully complementary, he must want something.” If that is what you were thinking, shame on you. I don’t want anything from you.

Well, now that you mention it, there is one thing.

I have a short story up at Smashwords.com. It’s called Double Deal. It already has 1 four star review, and Patrick Pillars says:

“Double Deal is a very good story with a protagonist you’re pulling for, right from the beginning. With excellent description and crisp language, the reader is right there, right in the story. I look forward to more titles from Mr. Beatty.”

So that is pretty cool.

Here is the other cool thing. You can buy it for just 99 cents! I mean, 99 cents, less than the cost of a cup of coffee, and you can have Double Deal in a variety of eBook formats. Take it with you on the go. Read it on your phone, computer, laptop, or iPad thingie.

You can buy it here. I hope you like it.

Jennifer Hudock’s “Call of the Selkie” now available!

Those of you that already know Jennifer Hudock know at least two things: She’s awesome, and she’s a hell of a writer. She is doing a cool, empowering thing – selling her short fiction online through Smashwords. Her most recent selection is now available, here is a sneak peak:

Call of the Selkie

Sure, I had memories, golden days in the park when he couldn’t push me high enough on the swings, summer afternoons wading through the creek catching crayfish, and how his knowledge of the stars could easily turn a sleepless night into adventure. He sang me ancient lullabies in a language I never learned, and his bedtime stories came from the heart, not the pages of a book. I knew that I got my green eyes from him, the red sheen of my hair from his mother’s grandmother, and the freckles from his brother, Owen, whom I had never met. Yes, I had more than enough memories to carry me through, but it was his paintings that lingered on after he was gone.

Despite living in the middle of farm country Pennsylvania, all of my father’s paintings were of the sea in its many guises. Each painting was a tiny piece of him that he’d left behind, the only goodbye note before he mysteriously disappeared that afternoon while I was at school. Every night after he left I sneaked into his studio, stood in the half-dark of the setting sun and tried to decipher the messages he’d left me. Orange slices of sunset slanted through the blinds behind me as I watched the raging sea roil inside the canvas. Alive and overwhelmingly real, in the silence I could hear the distant call of gulls as the waves smashed like fists upon the shore.

Eventually my mother put a lock on the door and gave me a stern lecture about putting the past behind us. She did it just to punish me. She was jealous that the paintings spoke to me, but more afraid that I might discover some hint about where he’d gone. Maybe she worried that I would follow and forget her just like he did. She hid the key so well that entry was impossible. I didn’t cry, or fight her though I needed to. I wanted to scream and tear the smug look from her face, but instead I acted like I didn’t care. She took away from me the last physical connection I had to my father, and for that I could never forgive her.

It wasn’t long after she locked the door that I began to dream myself inside the paintings. Drifting from wave to wave, surrounded by a host of sleek, grey seals, whose joyful song soared high above the waves. Around and around the seals swam in an ancient spiral dance, and then my father appeared from the edge of the circle, young again, younger than I’d ever seen him even in photographs, but his eyes always gave him away. He smiled, and it was a real smile.

“It’s time to come home,” he said.

He held out his hand, and I grasped his fingers, but as he disappeared beneath the water, the waves pushed me upward every time I tried to follow. No matter how I tried, I couldn’t follow where he went, as though the sea itself kept spitting me out. One by one the seals all disappeared and darkness drew the sun away. Alone, buoyant, wave over wave of salt musk and hundreds of miles between me and dry land, I laid back and floated beneath the endless stars while moonlight rippled silver sheets over my ocean bed.

Get the rest at Smashwords!

How you can help out

Hey people, as some of you might already know, I am writing for Examiner.com in the capacity of Toronto Books Examiner. What that means is I get to write about two of my favourite things, books and Toronto.

The great thing about this opportunity is that it is paid writing. The amount that I get paid depends on my reach. This is where you can help out.

If you would like to get an email telling you about each of my articles as they are published, please go to my Toronto Books Examiner web page and click on the “Subscribe” button. You can input your email there, and every time I write a new article, you will recieve an alert.

This would mean about another 2-3 emails  in your inbox every week, and Examiner.com does not lend, sell or otherwise use the email for any other reason.

So, if you could help me out in this way, that would be great.

Thanks!

The Mystery of “Under the Dome”

under-the-domeI recently finished “Under the Dome,” the latest from Stephen King, and a few small details struck me as being unusual. In the course of its 1100 odd pages, I couldn’t help but think things were not all as they seemed, there was a secret to the story that was buried within. A few casual comments by different characters made me realize that the book, which I initially took to be set in contemporary times, actually takes place in the near future. Under the Dome takes place in 2017 to be exact. Why would I date the novel in that year? It’s the only one that makes sense.

Please be aware that there are minor spoilers in the next sections, so if you wish to be completely unspoiled, read no further!

There are few outward indications that the novel takes place seven years from now. The technology is mostly the same. People use cell phones and iPods, they use laptops, both film and digital cameras, desktop computers, all of the things that most of us use in our day-to-day lives. There is no advanced technology on display, no hoverboards, or high tech implants. But as I continued to read, I felt that this was the only logical year for the story.

The first scene that sowed the first seed for me was when a character was recalling an incident in her past wherein she had a huge temper tantrum. In the course of this fit of rage, she ripped her favorite Oasis poster off of her wall and destroyed it. Now, this apparently took place 20 years ago. But, Oasis formed in 1991, so their 20th anniversary will not take place until next year. This was odd, I thought, but I paid it little mind. Mistakes happen, even to Stephen King.

Later, another character compares a piece of alien technology to an Apple TV box, that they purchased four years ago, although, in the book, Apple TV was released “some years” before that. So, in the continuity of Under the Dome, Apple TV has been out for at least 6 years (giving a conservative number of “some years”.) Apple TV has only been out a couple of years as of this writing.

Finally, a specific date is given in the book. Friday, October 27th is a very special day for the townspeople trapped under the dome. The next Friday October the 27th in our world will be in 2017, as 2012 will skip over to Saturday due to a leap year.

So, as far as I can reckon, the book takes place in 2017. Now, I only have 2 questions: Why is there no mention of this anywhere in the marketing, and why is Obama still president? Even his second term would finish in 2016.

Oh well, it was a fun little puzzle to figure out, and perhaps that is the best reward in itself.

Have you even noticed little incongruous things like this while reading? Let me know in the comments.

Seriously, Casa Loma, a ninja?

Probably filled with ninjas.
It's like a ninja paradise!

For those of you who do not know, Casa Loma (Spanish for Hill House) is a museum and landmark in uptown Toronto, constructed in the Gothic Revival style. It was originally a residence for financier Sir Henry Mill Pellatt. It looks like this:

If you are thinking to yourself, hey, I wonder if they have a ninja there, I must commend you for your astuteness. This Gothis castle in the middle of Toronto, Canada does in fact have an in house ninja.

Check it out, I got a flyer for educational programs at the castle this week, and along with things that make a remote amout of sence (knights, gardening, turn of the century Toronto) it included this gem:

IPhone Fall Pix 136
Because this totally makes sense.

My biggest question, aside from the obvious What the Fuck? is, how would a teacher get this past the administrators?

Teacher: So, we’re going to Casa Loma, we’ll be looking at the art, getting a tour, and oh, yeah, doing a Ninja Workshop?

Principal: Sounds good, wait, what, a ninja what?

Teacher: A workshop to teach the kids how to be more like ninjas. It’s part of my “Awesomely Insane” unit. We started with the 80s output of Chuck Norris, next we are moving into Ninjas, and we will wrap up with Luchadores.

Principal: The fuck?

Teacher: That’s what the kids say!

Pictured: The Official Luchadores of the CN Tower
Pictured: The Official Luchadores of the CN Tower

This can only end in tears.