Sunday, December 13, 2015

Interview with a Zombie

51aVfDU7BlL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_Okay, so he's not really a zombie, but he did get cast as a zombie for a yet-to-be-released film. He's also a new writer, whose first book is one all readers of zombie fiction will enjoy. Even those who don't read zombie fiction might enjoy this story, as it is about more than flesh-eating creatures. Read on to meet P. Mark DeBryan and to learn more about Family Reunion.

First of all, thanks for taking time from your busy schedule to answer my questions.
You are quite welcome, Sara.

Please tell a little about your book, Family Reunion.
Well, the book began its life as a short story. It was created for John O’Brien and published in his book Untold Stories, which was a companion book to his series A NEW WORLD. He then allowed me to extend the story to a full length novel. It begins with our main character, Ryan, stuck on a ferry boat in the Puget Sound when the zombie apocalypse starts. In all honesty, they are not zombies, as they aren’t undead, but they prey on the living as a food source so they get lumped into the zombie genre. The book follows the entire Brant family as they are headed to a long overdue family reunion. Each group is coming from a different location in the USA and their goal is to survive and see if they can’t locate the others in the family. Some are driving, some are flying, and one is even in a luxury motor-coach.

How did you get into writing? Who are your inspirations?
As stated above, it was a contest of sorts; John O’Brien asked his fans to write short story based in his world. As far as inspirations? I would have to say Stephen King introduced me to the post-apocalypse genre, but John O was the one that got me going.

How is Family Reunion different than other zombie stories?
It is about family and the strength the characters get from each other to go on. The hope of reuniting and the different ways the crisis affects each member of the family. They are not trained soldiers, and most are just average people facing a completely devastating situation.

Can you give your readers a little glimpse into what Ryan and his gang of survivors will face in the next book?
Hmm … that would be cheating, but just between you and me, Sara? Ryan sets out with Maddie and Harry and a few others to go look for the ones they left behind at home. They travel in the Marathon Coach, which is a luxury RV with many prepper amenities. The story will follow them and also keep the reader abreast of what is happening back on Whidbey Island and those that stayed on there to begin clearing the place for use as a new freak-free sanctuary. Look for some major twists right off the bat; it should get interesting very quickly.

I know your family has been very supportive of your writing. I also know many of the characters are based on real-life family members. What do they think of being used as zombie-story material?
Some are mad at me for killing them off in the first story, more are mad that I killed their wives, daughters, husbands and such. Minor spoiler coming ... my best friend in real life was the first to die. I did it in self- defense. I mean, who in the family can complain when I took out my best friend first, right? When I say they are mad at me, it is an exaggeration. They all are thrilled to be immortalized in the story, or so I tell myself.

Have you ever been a zombie?
As a matter of fact, yes. I just got home from the set of a new movie called My Uncle John is a Zombie. It was written and co-directed by John Russo, who co-wrote the original The Night of the Living Dead. I am a zombie in the movie, and it was a blast to be involved in the film. Several actors from the original movie are also in this one, with many new faces too. Gary Lee Vincent, who plays Oscar in the movie has become a close friend and was instrumental in getting me cast as an extra. My wife, Jonie, is in it also. We had so much fun that we may decide to run off to Hollywood together soon.

The movie is a Zom-Comedy, where John Russo’s character from The Night of the Living Dead escapes alive—or I should say not killed again from the sheriff’s wrath in the original—and is rescued by his niece and hid in her basement. She protects him and teaches him to be more selective in who he eats and the whole movie goes insane when he becomes a modern day celebrity.

I am seen wandering while chewing on an unidentified bit of intestine, and then again when I attack another character and end his career. (I will include a picture of me as the “Dude Zombie” for your pleasure.) If you would like to help the movie get distributed, you can help by donating at http://www.MyUncleJohnisaZombie.com, as it is an independent film just like us independent authors.

In a real-life zombie apocalypse, how long do you think you’d survive? Do you have a plan?
I have a plan, but I need more slow people to join me, as that is my plan. I don’t really think I would last long, as I have been told I am a sweet guy, and what zombie could resist that?

If you could see one non-zombie TV series get thrown into a zompoc scenario, which would you choose and why?
Hmm, let me think. Oh, I know. Survivor! Could you imagine the hilarity that would ensue as the zombies chase the cute blond girl down the beach, or a horde shows up to the immunity challenge. Oh yeah, that would be good TV there. The tribe has spoken/groaned, it’s time for you to go!

12355177_1715651935380961_1174373380_nList five things about yourself that your readers probably don’t know.
- I went to seminary for two years to become a Baptist Preacher.
- I had a crepe restaurant when I was seventeen called DeBo’s Place.
- My nickname throughout my Coast Guard career was Breezly.
- The Pirate Parrot was a friend of mine.
- I was an honorary member of Jeff Gordon’s pit crew at his last race in NASCAR … Don’t tell Jeff, somebody might get fired!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Author Interview: William Allen

One of my favorite things about providing editing services to independent authors is getting to know them better during the process. The indie author community is filled with amazing people, so I thought it would be fun to highlight an author every one or two weeks so we can get to know them better. I'm kicking the series off with William Allen. I was a fan of his before I edited the fourth book in his Walking in the Rain series. I also had the honor of working with him on the Bite-Sized Offerings anthology. He's a talented writer and a good guy. So, read on and get to know a little about William Allen.
Please tell a little about yourself.
     First, I am nothing like any of the characters in my stories.  I’m a  thoroughly house-broken suburban dweller who is a long way from his country roots.  I readily admit in the event of most SHTF events, I have the life expectancy of a Snickers bar at fat camp.  I don’t live in a cave in the woods, though some days I wish that was an option.  I have some skills when it comes to hunting, fishing and camping. Even though I have no actual mechanical skills, I’ve also always been fascinated by how things work.  
How did you come up with the idea for your Walking in the Rain series? What else can you tell us about it?
     The idea for this story came to me one day when I was sitting at O’Hare Airport in Chicago.  I was waiting for a flight that was eventually cancelled, and I was thinking dark thoughts.  Then I realized, “Hey, at least the lights didn’t go out.  And maybe my flight will show up tomorrow.  I’ve got it so easy in some ways.”
Since home is Texas, I got to thinking about what I would do in the event of an EMP event.  The sad truth is, I figured out I’d probably be dead inside a week.  Then I got to wondering about if the traveler was someone younger, fitter, and more creative, would they be able to make it home?  Still probably not, but it would make for a more entertaining story than chronicling the downfall of my out-of-shape butt.

     This was supposed to be a three and out series, if that, but as I wrote I kept getting more ideas for the characters.  Plus, I really hate a “journey” story where the tale ends on the completion of the journey.  I guess I could have ended the series with the conclusion of Book Three but I still had a lot more left in the tank.  I was especially curious to find out how Luke’s family was going to react to his return, and the changes he underwent on the road.  As I was rereading Dark Sky Thunder I realized I may have given a poor impression of his mother so I’ll need to figure out a way to make it up to her later.  Yes, I realize I am referring to fictional characters as real, live folks but to me that is the best way to deal with complex and evolving characters.  No, I don’t need to see a doctor for my delusions, thank you very much.        
What else have you written? 
     I addition to the four WITR novels, I’ve published a couple of short stories, and the one I am most proud of is "Ware, Goblins."  This is a very short story I wrote for Bite Sized Offerings and I have loved seeing the feedback on this one.  I also enjoyed writing my first published zombie story, “Hunger Driven” since it allowed me to add a little humor to the genre.  Dark, sad humor, but still funny to me.
Have you always been good at writing? When did you discover that you like to write? 
I only consider myself a so-so writer.  There are plenty of better writers out there, but I like to think I bring a certain break-neck spirit to the table.  I like to move the narrative along at a quick, stripped-down pace and the last thing I ever want to hear is a reader telling me how they had to skim through parts of my book.    

     As for how long I’ve enjoyed writing, I’ve been scribbling stuff in notebooks since I was about eight years old.  Like most people, I never dreamed of actually publishing anything.  My father always enjoyed reading my writing and he was my biggest cheerleader, but sadly he didn’t live to see me publish my first story.
How do you find/make time to write? 
     With a full-time day job that often demands big chunks of my nights and weekends, I have learned to make use of available time whenever I can.  If I have an hour sitting at the airport, then I use that time to write chapters longhand. If I have two hours at night between ten pm and midnight, then I use that time to either write new stuff or transcribe what I have written previously in longhand.  My best writing time is at night on the weekends when I am home.
Do you have any specific/unique writing habits?
     I wish I had a cool story about how I write listening to Mozart or Avenged Sevenfold or something like that but sorry, no go.  Get me in front of a laptop and give me a little quiet and I’m ready to go.  I don’t require silence to concentrate, but I do tend to block everything else out when I am writing.  Plus, coffee is a definite plus.     
Where/when/how do you come up with your best ideas? 
     I get ideas for stories all the time.  I tend to keep a notepad handy to jot things down as they occur to me.  Some ideas get a follow up and others just get filed away.  The best ideas usually come to me like pieces of a puzzle that I have to assemble in my head.
How do you choose names for your characters? Do you pick them randomly, or do they have some sort of meaning to you?
     I usually just make up character names but I have started recently using first or last names of people I know to fill out some supporting character roles.  These are usually beta readers and I use their names with permission, which they get a kick out of it when the stories come to them.     
Do you read your reviews? If so, do you ever respond to them? Advice for new authors regarding how to deal with negative reviews? 
     I do read reviews.  My advice it don’t do it unless you have a thick skin.  Five star reviews are easy and fill you with pride at a job well-done, of course, but those one star hatchet jobs can really irk you if you let it.  I’ve only responded one time to a negative review, commenting on the inaccuracies in his well-laid out but incorrect bashing of me as a person.  As I indicated, I think I have a pretty high tolerance for criticism and I will sometimes find myself agreeing with the complaint.  My writing is not for everyone and I am the first to admit this.  Calling me a racist and a misogynist really isn’t accomplishing anything constructive.
      For a new writer, this kind of vitriolic attack can certainly damage your confidence.  For me, I made note of the complaint and checked to see if anyone else felt the same.  After about three hundred more reviews came in for that book without a repeat, I decided the reviewer was just full of crap.
      Another example was one I just received for Dark Sky Thunder.  I’ve received about fifty four or five star reviews and a single two star review.  The reviewer there complained about how slow the book started (something I readily admit given the events in the previous three books) and then went on to rip the story for being disjointed and lacking in focus.  That part really threw me off, as I had worked hard to “script” this story (or heavily outlined, if you will) before even attempting a final draft.
      After some thought, I decided the reviewer just really enjoyed the travel aspects of the first three books and was disappointed I didn’t immediately send Luke and company off on a wild goose chase.  Sorry, but after all he has been through, Luke will be sticking close to home for the immediate future.  In fact, that thought was the reason I had to remove the “Going for the Horse Doc” chapters from the main story and spin them off into a short story for later.    
What is your best marketing tip? 
     As an independent author and publisher, my best marketing tip is to put yourself out there.  I don’t mean become obnoxious in your self-promotion, but be willing to answer reader questions and respond promptly.  For some of you, it might mean becoming active on Facebook.  For others, it is setting up your own webpage.  I am not that tech savvy and even though several people have offered to set up one for me, I do better with e-mails.  For example, if you e-mail me with questions or comments at walkingintherain6@gmail.com, I will respond.  Every time.  Trust me, people appreciate that level of interaction, and they will tell their friends.  At my level, word of mouth is the best advertising I can do.  

     I also get asked how I manage to get so many reviews written for my books.  The answer there is also simple—I politely ask readers to do leave a review, and then I explain how this helps me write more books.        
What secret talents do you have?
     I have the ability to blend into almost any crowd.  Yes, not easy for me at six feet five inches tall and two hundred fifty-five pounds (give or take), but I can easily adapt to a new environment in just a few minutes.  In the Deep South, my accent comes on heavy, with a distinct Texas drawl, while in the Midwest I’ve often been asked where I come from, since they can’t hear it in my voice.  I don’t do a Northeastern accent, but they often think I am from Chicago or Wisconsin.  I am stealthy in my own way.   
If you had a superpower, what would it be? 
     If I could pick, I would want to be able to control time.  That would be cool.  Plus, it would pretty much make me, and anyone else I chose, essentially immortal. 
Ever been in a bar fight? 
     Yes.  I am waiting for the statute of limitations to expire on that one, so the less said the better.  But I do have job experience along those lines that I can discuss.
      For a while when I was in college, I worked security at a beer store, so I got to fight the drunks almost every night when they were kicked out of the bar next door.  By the way, fighting drunks is like fighting zombies- they are uncoordinated but also don’t seem to feel pain.
      One night I saw a guy come in about 2am, barefoot and shirtless in the middle of winter.  The shirtless part made it obvious someone had stuck a rather large knife in his belly and left it there.  By the time the ambulance showed up with the paramedics, he didn’t want to leave because he was at Level Six on Miss Pacman.  Like I said, after a certain point, drunks don’t feel pain.  Either that, or he was a high functioning zombie. Either way, you can guess who ended up having to squeegee the blood off that game.  
Where is one place you’d like to visit that you’ve never been to before?
     New Zealand/Australia. I lump them together simply because if I get close enough to visit one, I am definitely visiting the other as well.  I’d love to pop in and visit with some of my favorite authors Down Under.       
Worldwide, apocalyptic EMPs… fiction or a reality? 
     Reality. The question is one of timing.  I groan every time I read an article about some billion dollar infrastructure project where the federal government fails to even consider spending a few million dollars of taxpayer money on something actually useful, like hardening the system.  Oh, no, we can’t do that.  The only rationale I can find is that some politicians think it sends the wrong message.
      
Sort of like the reason we did away with Civil Defense in this country.  We did not want to make the Soviet Union worry we were planning a first strike, so we left the country’s civilian population wide open for attack.  The problem here is we could face either an enemy like ISIS or Iran, who could care less about the status of noncombatants, or Mother Nature, who has been at war with mankind since Day One, and she doesn’t take prisoners.    
Who do you think would last the longest in the zombie apocalypse: Bill Cosby, Martha Stewart, or Gene Simmons?
     Gene Simmons.  A year ago I would have said Bill Cosby, but he has managed to tick off a large percentage of the female population in this country.  I doubt he would be welcomed into any survivor community unless it was a group of degenerates looking for his magic drug cocktail secrets.  Martha didn’t do her time the right type of facility to learn much in the way of street smart survival skills.  I don’t watch his reality TV show, but I understand Mr. Simmons stays in pretty good shape for his age.  Heck, for that matter I’d pick Richard Simmons over the Coz or Martha.
What food/beverages would you miss the most if the SHTF?
     Coffee.  I’m the kind of person who would hold up in a Dunkin’ Donuts for the coffee alone.  Forget Starbucks.  Most of their flavors are too bitter for my delicate palate. 
Advice for new and/or aspiring authors? 
     Write.  A lot.  Sit down, put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) and create something.  Do that once, twice, three times.  Then take that third manuscript and show it to someone in the business for a critique.  Up to you but I wouldn’t go to an English teacher or a creative writing professor.  For my first critique, I picked a few authors for whom I was beta reading.  To my eternal gratitude, they offered me some excellent tips on how I could do a better job with my writing.
      
Do not take offense, do not whine, and do thank them for their advice.  Be polite, and remember them when you do get published and thank them for taking the time to help out a fellow writer.  Then be willing to pass it on to other beginning writers who come to you for help.  And that ends the lecture.           
What are you working on now? Any new writing projects in the works? 
     I am currently working on A Feast for Crows, which is a direct sequel to the short story “Hunger Driven” that I wrote earlier this year.  I just enjoy writing books about people with “problems” and Brad McCoy has a lot of them.  He is moody, and cranky, and has a problem with authority, but he also has a really funny relationship with his boss.  This book will let me expand the world view a bit and add some more depth to the story, as well as hopefully entertaining the zombie masses.
After that, I have already started outlining the next Rain book, which will be a revisit of sorts as I go back and catch up with our friends at the Keller farm.  Even as I was writing Book Two, I was trying to figure out why the character of Scott Keller seemed to be so intriguing to me.  He never said much and he wasn’t a leader, but his skills in the woods and his easygoing demeanor seemed to make him a natural mentor for Luke.  Now I intend on figuring out what makes the character tick as well as telling a slam bang story.
      I am also working on several other stories in the developmental stage, including a post-nuclear war mystery involving a scarred faced hermit, a discredited FBI agent, and a whole slew of assassins in the woods.  This one has been on my mind for a long time and I am looking forward to finally being able to sit down and finish the thing.      
Where can we find your books? 
     For the time being, I am publishing online exclusively at Amazon for Kindle.  My first three books are also available on Audible.com and Book Four, Dark Sky Thunder, has been submitted for audio as well.  
Thanks for hanging with us!
William Allen's Amazon Page

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Outage Book Two: The Awakening by T.W. Piperbrook

Synopsis

The first several pages of the story parallel Abby and Rob's experiences that take place in Outage. Then the story picks up where Abby's story ends. Tom has lost his wife and is on the run, desperately trying to escape the creatures that seem to be everywhere. He knows his odds of survival are slim, but he is determined to go down fighting if need be.

Along the way, he picks up two young, stranded survivors and together they seek refuge from the storm and the creatures dwelling in it. Will they find safety? Can they survive the night? 


When it comes to Piperbrook's fast-paced, spellbinding way of telling a story, anything is possible.


Publisher: Post Script Publishing

Print Length: 93 pages

Cover Art: Keri Knutson

Editor: Cathy Moeschet
Proofreader: Linda Tooch

Review

Kindle Edition
5 out of 5 stars

Everything I loved about Outage (book one) is found in its sequel. Outage Book Two: The Awakening is a thrill ride. From the first page to the last, the story engages and delivers a fun experience to the reader. I found I could not put the book down once I started reading. 


T.W. Piperbrook is a talented writer and storyteller. Though the book is relatively short, each page is packed with excitement and what I think of as "concentrated story." What do I mean by that? Well, think of one of your favorite books, take out the fluff, and you have story-concentrate. That's not to say this book is lacking in character development and descriptive scenes; it has just enough of both to keep the story vivid in the mind's eye. 


As a writer and editor/proofreader, I sometimes forget that reading is supposed to be for pleasure, not just "work." Outage Book Two was pure pleasure reading for me, and it was great to experience that again! The book is both edited and proofread very well, which was refreshing since I didn't find myself getting distracted by errors.


I have a hard time recommending this book only to those who are fans of horror. Outage Book Two: The Awakening is a story that can be enjoyed by just about anyone who likes an engaging, fun tale. Don't miss out on this series!


Purchase Outage and Outage Book Two: The Awakening on Amazon.


My review of Outage (book one) can be found here.



About the Author
T.W. Piperbrook was born and raised in Connecticut, where he can still be found today. In addition to writing, the author has also spent time as a full-time touring musician, touring across the US, Canada, and Europe.
He now lives with his wife, a son, and the spirit of his Boston Terrier.
Follow Piperbrook on Facebook
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Visit his website here!




Monday, January 12, 2015

Something to Fight For (Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, Book 5) by W.J. Lundy

Synopsis

Brad and his team have returned to the United States only to find that the nation is as devastated as the rest of the world. The Primals are not the only threat to those who survived the outbreak. Hunger, disease, and other survivors are bigger problems to contend with. 

There seems to be a glimmer of hope, however, as Brad's team is enlisted to recover the key to developing a cure to the Primal virus. Time is not on their side as others seek the same objective. This is where loyalty and trust part ways, leaving the team questioning everything they have been fighting for.

Meanwhile, one soldier finds himself in the position of keeping the key to the cure protected at all costs.   

This is a Zombie War Story.

Publisher: PHALANX PRESS; 1 edition (December 10, 2014)
Print Length: 333 pages

Review
Five out of Five Stars (I would give it more, if it made sense to do so)
Purchase Something to Fight For on Amazon

When I read the very first book in this series by W.J. Lundy, I never expected it to gradually become my favorite zombie apocalypse series— there was some tough competition for that spot. Up until Something to Fight For, I considered the Whiskey Tango Foxtrot series one of my favorites. By the time I got half-way through this most recent installment, I knew that had changed.

Enough of my fangirling. I will tell you why I like Something to Fight For so much. First, of all the books in this series, this has the most depth; the characters continue to develop, the plot is becoming more intense, and there are some new, interesting characters added to the mix. 

Another reason I like this book so much has to do with the side story that is woven through the plot. The story of Brad and his crew eventually connects with this side story, and I can't help but hope Lundy follows up on this twist as he continues the series. 

What is the "side story" I'm referring to? Well, I don't want to give too much away, but it has to do with a former soldier who finds himself in the position of being the sole protector of a little girl. The story that follows the man and the little girl is both terrifying and endearing. Their story sucked me in and kept me thoroughly engaged to the point where I felt emotionally invested in the book.

W.J. Lundy's storytelling has gotten better with each new book and this one is no exception. I recommend this series highly to fans of zombie fiction, military fiction, horror, suspense, and anyone looking for a fun, excellent read.

About the Author 

W. J. Lundy is a still-serving Veteran of the U.S. Military with service in Afghanistan. He has over 14 years of combined service with the Army and Navy in Europe, the Balkans, and Southwest Asia. W.J. is an avid athlete, writer, backpacker, and shooting enthusiast. He currently resides with his wife and daughter in Central Michigan.

I developed the Whiskey Tango Foxtrot series from notes and ideas I had put together while deployed to Afghanistan. I had been jokingly asked how we would defend against a zombie attack. Escaping the Dead was written in a small spiral notebook and later clicked one key at a time into a word document once I arrived back home. At the success of the short story, the series was born.

All along, I wanted to tell a story that portrays the military that I know, the people I serve with, their characteristics, and something that shows our true, actual capabilities. These are my thoughts. I hope you enjoy them, and thank you for reading.


Follow W.J. Lundy on Facebook and Twitter.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Whispers by Heath Stallcup

Synopsis
Some loves transcend time. Some loves were never meant to be. Some loves are cut short by the evil of others. When Sheriff James Tolbert and his fiancé were killed by a malicious rancher and his cutthroat minions, nobody could expect that the very passion that fueled their love would be the same passion that fueled ghostly revenge. When grave robbers unearth Sheriff Tolbert's tomb searching for Old West relics, a vengeful spirit is unleashed on a small Texas town hellbent on revenge. If those responsible couldn't be made to pay, then their progeny would, and they would pay in the most bloody and horrific manner the spirit could dream of. Can modern day law enforcement stop a spirit destined to fulfill an oath made in death? Even when aided by a Texas Ranger and UCLA Paranormal Investigators, how can they stop something that is already dead and buried?

Publisher: May December Publications (October 2013)
Print Length: 475 pages

Review
5 Stars out of 5
Amazon Kindle Version

Heath Stallcup is a great storyteller and this book is just another example of that truth. Whispers is a ghost story in the purist sense of the word. That is what I like most about it. It is reminiscent of the kinds of ghost stories told around a campfire where every snap of a tree branch or falling acorn makes you jump. Who doesn't like that? That's a rhetorical question; don't answer it.

Stallcup's characters are well-developed and rich in personality. The storyline has a western vibe to it, but that doesn't mean it will only appeal to readers who like westerns. There isn't anything about this story I didn't like. It provides just the right amount of everything that I love in a story: action, revenge, good versus evil, interesting character interactions, and a great scare factor.

I recommend Whispers highly!

Purchase Whispers on Amazon. 

About the Author
Heath Stallcup was born in Salinas, California and relocated to Tupelo, Oklahoma in his tween years. He joined the US Navy and was stationed in Charleston, SC and Bangor, WA shortly after junior college. After his second tour he attended East Central University where he obtained BS degrees in Biology and Chemistry. He then served ten years with the State of Oklahoma as a Compliance and Enforcement Officer while moonlighting nights and weekends with his local Sheriff's Office. He still lives in the small township of Tupelo, Oklahoma with his wife and three of his seven children. He steals time to write between household duties, going to ballgames, being a grandfather to five and being the pet of numerous animals that have taken over his home. Visit him on Facebook or heathstallcup.com for news of his upcoming releases.

Rock and Roll Highway: The Robbie Robertson Story by Sebastian Robertson


Synopsis
Book Cover taken from Amazon
Written as a children's book, this is the story of Robbie Robertson as told by his son, Sebastian. The story shares Robbie Robertson's experiences growing up in Canada with his Native American mom and how they helped shape him into the musician and songwriter he ultimately became. It is a story about working hard, taking risks, and being brave enough to make dreams come true. Rock and Roll Highway is beautifully illustrated and includes an interview with Robbie Robertson at the end.   

Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) (October 21, 2014)
Print Length: 40 pages
Ages: 6-9

Review
Five out of Five Stars
This review can also be found on Amazon

My most cherished memories of my dad include sitting around on Friday nights, listening to his extensive record collection. He introduced me to the "oldies" like Janis Joplin, Bob Dylan, Joe Cocker, and The Band. I've been fan of Robbie Robertson ever since, so I had to have this book.

I purchased this in the Kindle format, which works very well. If I were still a classroom teacher, however, I would definitely want the hardcover and it would be in my library. The story is well told, the illustrations are beautiful (even on the Kindle), and the content is suitable—even beneficial—for children of all ages.

There are many valuable lessons that can be taken from Rock and Roll Highway. Probably the most prominent lesson is that dreams can come true with hard work and taking risks. The value of family and heritage is woven throughout the story. The interview at the end of the book is an especially nice feature. Sebastian Robertson encourages children to interview their own parents and write down their story.

My favorite line of the book comes from Robbie Robertson himself. In the interview, Sebastian asks his dad what some of his favorite books are. Robbie names his favorite authors and then goes on to say that reading helped to expand his vocabulary as well as influenced some of his songs. He finished the interview by saying, "Gotta read to write." As a reader and an author, I absolutely love this!

I recommend this book to parents, grandparents, teachers, and fans of Robbie Robertson.


About the Author (Source: Amazon.com)
Sebastian Robertson lives in Los Angeles with his family. In addition to his writing, he is a songwriter and composer whose work has been featured in numerous films and television shows. Visit Sebastian's author page on Amazon for more information.

The China Pandemic (Graham's Resolution, Book 1) by A.R. Shaw

Synopsis
What the world dreads most has happened—because of a mutated avian bird flu (H5N1) pandemic. It has ravaged the globe. Only 2% of the population has survived. A dying mother knows that her young child is among the few immune to the virus. What will she do to ensure his survival before her own coming tragic death? 

Meanwhile, Graham has buried his last remaining family member. Following his father's advice to make it to the family cabin, he meets with triumph and tragedy, learning new rules along the way. Just when he thinks he's finally got a handle on this new world, he's taken by surprise as he learns he's not alone. A hidden, yet vulnerable, community of Preppers are nearby. Will he find the strength to escape these dangers and go on living? And more importantly, will he have the ability to protect those he's come to trust? 

Publisher: Self Published
Print Length: 280 pages

Review
Five out of Five Stars

This is the first book in A.R. Shaw's Graham's Resolution series. I heard of this series months before reading The China Pandemic, but it wasn't on my "short list" of books to read. I had the honor of meeting the author at the Long Beach ComicCon in September and decided to bump it up the list. As a person, A.R. Shaw is a class-act; her intelligence, respect for her readers, and dedication to her craft shine through in her writing. 

I wasn't sure what to expect from The China Pandemic since it doesn't have zombies as part of its dystopian scenario. Once I started reading it, however, I wasn't able to put it down. I grew attached to the unforgettable main character from the start, as well as every other protagonist as they were introduced. The characters have depth, realistic emotions, and are very likable. The characters—both male and female—are strong, but not unbelievably so. 

The story itself is an interesting one, and scary in the sense that it seems plausible. Shaw created a world where survival is a day-to-day struggle. The plot is filled with action, making it seem like a quick read, in spite of its length. 

I recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of dsytopian fiction, those who like "shit hits the fan" scenarios, people interested in the prepper lifestyle, and anyone who likes an intriguing, well-told story.

Purchase The China Pandemic from Amazon. 

About the Author
A. R. Shaw, born in south Texas, served in the United States Air Force Reserves from 1987 through 1991 as a Communications Radio Operator, where she served at the Military Auxiliary Radio System (MARS Station) at Kelly AFB, Texas.

Her first novel, The China Pandemic, (2013) hit #1 in Dystopian and Post-Apocalyptic genres in May of 2014. Hailed as "eerily plausible" and her characters "amazingly detailed," Shaw continues the engaging series in post-apocalyptic (SHTF) fiction.

She lives with her family in eastern Washington State, where after the deep snow of winter finally subsides to glorious rays of summer; she treks northeast to spend her days writing alongside the beautiful Skagit River.
You can contact A. R. Shaw directly at (AR@AuthorARShaw.com) or through her website at (AuthorARShaw.com)