Kristen Lamb

Author, Blogger, Social Media Jedi

Kristen Lamb — Photo

Posts Tagged: zombies

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This poster for sale HERE.

Eh, it’s Friday, so we’re going to have a little fun debate. ZOMBIES. I never actively intended the undead to be part of my author brand, but strangely? It fits. Just take one glance at an author trying to make deadline (hmmm, word choice?) or someone who’s been through Revision Hell? The term “Walking Dead” fits. These poor souls shamble around moaning. They wear stained clothes, coffee mug in hand and have that creepy thousand-yard stare.

Don’t shoot! Well, unless it’s a tranquilizer gun because that is the only way many writers in these stages are going to get any sleep.

Jokes aside, why have zombies invaded pop culture?

The Spawn and Zombies

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It started out kinda cute. It was Halloween and Spawn was three. But first, a tad of backstory so y’all have context.

When Spawn was slightly less than two, he began to speak…beautifully. His third word was “dinosaur” and it was as clear as if an adult said it. I was so excited. He was talking! And just like every child I’d cared for in the past, he was speaking early, intelligibly and articulately. Then he was in a terrible accident and knocked his four front teeth into the maxilla. $20,000 of emergency maxo-facial surgery later? I had a baby bat who rarely spoke and hid his face.

Back to Halloween, 2013.

So Hubby and I were thrilled when all of the sudden, from the back seat, we hear this tiny voice say, “ZOMBIE.” That is SO OUR BOY!

Everything became about zombies and we’re still not exactly sure how since it wasn’t like we’d done anything to actively introduce him to the topic. I was addicted to documentaries about physics at the time.

Anyway, Spawn began making up zombie songs.

My husband loves heavy metal. All the sudden, I hear a growly toddler voice “singing”:

Zombies and BABIES

Zombies and BABIES

Meet you in the dark. Eat you in the park.



I confess, I laughed. I encouraged it because at least he was talking and singing. Then one day I hear him singing the Zombies and Babies tune, but the lyrics changed.

New song?

Zombies and Pears

Me: Zombies and pears?

Spawn: Yep.

Me: What kind of zombie eats pears?

Spawn: *matter-of-factly* Vegan Zombies.

And HOW do you argue with THAT?

And the ZOMBIE SAGA Continues…and CONTINUES

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At first it was cute, then adorable. But after almost a year of nothing but zombies? I’m a bit weary. But, the only time I can even understand half of what he is saying is when he talks about zombies. He tells stories, makes up songs, asks lots of zombie-related questions, makes zombie rhymes.

And for those who have followed this blog, my four-year-old son was fired from preschool for his love of zombies. No, he didn’t bite or attack anyone, he just liked to wander around the playground with a blank stare and moan. Clearly the school didn’t see he was BORN to run for government office.

So now Mommy is homeschooling (unschooling actually). What I’ve decided is if he wants zombies, that’s what he’ll get. Think of all the topics! ZomBIOLOGY 101.

Prevention, pathology, epidemiology, history, plagues, prions, viruses, the CDC, ethics, and on and on. Either I will burn him out and he’ll find something new, or at least I can have fun, too.

But it does beg the question…

Why Are Zombies SO Popular?

My friend Kevin Lucia is a horror author who’s taught for WANA International and guest-posted here about this often misunderstood genre. One particular Lucia post was fascinating because he spoke about how “horror” often reflects much of what we’re facing as a society. For instance, after the invention of the A-Bomb, radioactivity was all the rage. Movie theaters and comics offered up all kinds of radioactive spiders, lizards, superheroes, super villains etc.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre came on the heels of the Vietnam War, a war which decimated accepted rules of combat and exposed authorities as flawed, corrupt and untrustworthy.

Now we exist in a world where we are no longer fighting countries or governments, we’re fighting ideas/behaviors—The War on Drugs, The War on Obesity, The War on Terror.

War of Words

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Most of these “wars” are rife with ambiguity. Which drugs are the enemy? We’re Janus-faced. Our government burns poppy fields while doctors hand out Oxycotin like candy. The DEA torches marijuana fields, but then we can order “special” brownies in Colorado. Meth is evil, but then elementary schools are swimming in amphetamines (ADD meds).

Talk about confusing.

Then there is The War on Obesity. Sigh. I’m close to 170 pounds, but I wear a size 8. I fired my last doctor because he kept sending me for tests to figure out why I was so “morbidly obese.” Despite the fact that all my tests came back the picture of optimal health and my diet is gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, soda-free, low in sugar and no processed carbs, organic, non-GMO and I work out constantly, I was “fat.”

Ironically, if I wasn’t a white female, I’d be “curvy.” The African American nurse was my strongest ally and thought the doctor had four holes in his head. She made it a point to tell me I was beautiful and to ignore him.

But this is a fair question. What IS fat? In a world where J.Crew is offering up the NEW Size 000? Who the hell knows anymore?

The Shapeshifting

The terrifying part (for me) is that ideas are malleable and can be redefined. “Terrorist” is all about perspective and personal value systems. I’ve had people on Facebook call gun-owners domestic terrorists and viscously attack me for having guns. Of course, the interesting part is many of them live in major metropolitan areas. Politics aside, a large portion of these detractors don’t live in places where their definitive position at the top of the food chain not is static.

Image courtesy of Texana
Image courtesy of Texan


We’ve had nests like these (above) at our property, even beneath the HOUSE. I’ve nearly stepped on a rattlesnake countless times. Also at our ranch, we’ve been battling a MAJOR wild boar infestation. Wild boar can weigh hundreds of pounds. They’re viscous, invasive, aggressive, territorial and have long razor-sharp tusks that rival a French chef knife.

Cell phones rarely work out there, and even if they did, it would take at least 30 minutes for outside help to arrive.

New Kinds of War

Also, these days there is NO way to really know or see the enemy. The enemy (like Vietnam) can be anyone and everyone. It isn’t a soldier dressed in a blue or red or green uniform. Men, women, children, babies, elderly are all potential killers in many parts of the world.

Interesting how this parallels with the idea of zombies. However infected, the zombie is just as much a victim as its prey. A virus “recruits” universally and doesn’t discriminate.

A Universal and Politically Correct “Enemy”?

Original "Red Dawn"
Original “Red Dawn”

I was a child of the 70s and 80s. We were a seriously un-PC generation. We fought the Russians daily in our backyard and all watched the 1984 Olympics with more enthusiasm than any Olympics since. Our goal? BEAT THE RUSSIANS. Then the Iron Curtain parted, the Berlin Wall fell and a world with two major axes of power crumbled.

Also, with an increasingly globalized world most of us live in very heterogenous populations. I live in a relatively small satellite community in DFW. I see Vietnamese, Koreans, Indians, Muslims, Africans every time I go to a grocery store. This notion of we are ALL in this together? Clearer by the day.

Sure we witness human-against-human war all the time on the news, which is why I limit how much I watch. But my opinion? The biggest threats we will face in the future are not people, but biology.

Beat the Russians Bugs

In the 80s and 90s, doctors threw antibiotics at EVERYTHING. We’re seeing all kinds of superbugs emerging. I was an early adopter and contracted Swine Flu the year before it paralyzed the US. I’ve never been so sick in my LIFE. I had a boiling fever (104-108) for two weeks and it took THREE MONTHS to fully recover.

Add in SARS, Bird Flu, Mad Cow Disease, MRSA, Flesh-Eating viruses, Tuberculosis, The Kardashians and Honey Boo-Boo?

It makes sense that zombies would be part of the national consciousness when every time we get sick we need GODZILLACILLIN to tame a simple ear infection.

Zombies—A Social Observation? How We Feel About Others

Image via Pink's Galaxy Flickr Creative Commons
Image via Pink’s Galaxy Flickr Creative Commons

Zombies. Mindless. Unaware of anything but their own hunger.

A couple posts ago, I mentioned going to yoga to decompress and have quiet time away from the noise of our fast-paced world. The woman next to me texted THE ENTIRE TIME. She couldn’t set down the cell phone for an HOUR.


Fifteen years ago, if a car was going 20 mph in a 50 mph zone and weaving through lanes? Probably a drunk. NOW? Likely texting or looking at a phone.

I was at a 7-11 trying to buy water to bring to the park. I happened to be behind this young 20-something with his pants nearly to his knees….on a PHONE. The poor clerk kept having to redo the transaction because this guy was chatting away and kept hitting the wrong buttons on the swipe pad.

It took everything for me not to rip the phone out of his hands and yell, “I’m happy you are wearing underwear, but don’t need proof. Please pull up your pants, hang up the phone and give this person working to HELP you the respect enough to be present. You are not the only one in this world and there is a line of people behind you who’d kinda like to buy stuff too and not stare at your @$$ any longer than necessary.”

How We Feel About Ourselves

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I can’t speak for all the world, but I can speak for Western culture. Every time they give us a new “time-saving” tool, they just pile on more stuff to do on our heads. When I was in the corporate world, there were people who bragged that they hadn’t taken a vacation in a decade.

Please do, because you are a worn out jerk and everyone HATES YOU.

If you took a vacation, it was frowned upon and not-so-subtley punished. Even taking SICK DAYS was punished. When I worked in paper, I got pneumonia. They forced me to come to the office (loaded with paper fiber) and we were located next to a concrete plant so the air was full of concrete dust…but then had NO IDEA why I wasn’t getting better.

Many of us deal with workplaces that would rather us lumber in with 103 degree fever than take a day off.

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Thanks for infecting the rest of us.

So why ARE we fascinated with zombies? Many of us spend a lot of time burned out and surrounded by stupidity. We’re medicated, caffeinated and indoctrinated. I don’t know about you, but I seriously miss my BRAAAAIIIIINS. I also miss when Spawn loved NASCAR. Sigh.

What are your thoughts? Why have zombies taken the place of Godzilla and Giant Spiders from Outer Space? Do you think the zombie craze is a reflection of our social angst? Or maybe we relate to the poor zombie more than we’d like to admit?

It’s Friday, let’s have some fun and be Armchair Anthropologists and Sideline Sociologists!

I LOVE hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of JULY, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).


For those who need help building a platform (HINT: Start as EARY as possible) here’s my newest social media book, Rise of the Machines–Human Authors in a Digital World is NOW AVAILABLE. Only $6.99.


SATURDAY is my ANTAGONIST CLASS. NYC Time 12:00-2:00. Use WANA15 for $15 off. Have an idea for a book? Stuck and can’t move forward? Keep starting books you can’t finish? THIS class is the cure! You get two…okay usually more like three hours of instruction, the recording, detailed notes AND you can upgrade for personal consulting to help you repair or construct your masterpiece.


The Spawn loves airplanes. Watching The Blue Angels.
The Spawn loves airplanes. Watching The Blue Angels.

This week I have to go to a parent-teacher meeting regarding The Spawn. They are concerned he is developmentally behind because he’s four and people have a hard time understanding him. His speech isn’t where it “should be.” And this just puts a knot in my skirt.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I want to honestly and lovingly help my son with any challenges he might face, but sometimes I want to scream. We have handed our kids to the bean-counters and academics and the children are the collateral damage.

This Isn’t Our First Rodeo

When The Spawn was two months old, I took him for his first checkup and vaccinations. They wanted to give him and UNGODLY amount of vaccinations at one time and I said no. I wanted to space them out. He weighed only eight pounds and common sense dictated that a tiny body could not take that kind of bombardment.

The pediatrician shopped short of calling me an abusive mother.

Jerk Doctor: Well, the American Medical Association says—

Me: Okay, stop there. Doctors also thought radiation for everything was AWESOME and once recommended X-Raying children’s feet to fit SHOES properly. They prescribed Thalidomide for morning sickness which caused rampant birth defects. Every drug pulled by the FDA has first been approved by the FDA. So logic is not on your side, Buddy, and forgive me if I don’t worship the APA, AMA, FDA because I think that’s a good way to end up DOA.

He loooooved me.

What was particularly interesting was when I took our dog, Pippa, to be vaccinated, she weighed the same. Eight pounds. The veterinarian made me take her in multiple times because a body that small couldn’t take the onslaught of mass vaccinations. I asked if she could be my son’s pediatrician because she had more sense.

Let’s just say I have a history of being THAT Mom.

College Prep for Infants

So a couple weeks ago I hear a commercial for an on-line education system and I’m sure it’s great. But the commercial ticked me off. It’s a mom’s voiceover with touchy-feely music talking about how her son was born with a health issue and spent his first six months of life in a hospital and she was deeply concerned he’d be behind educationally.


All right. I am from Texas and maybe I’m a dumb redneck, but what’s a kid learning between birth and 6 months that needs help from a computer learning tool? Maybe The Spawn is defective because I remember chewing on toes and rolling across the living room floor to be the big deal.

I’m a bad mother. I was letting him teethe on picture books instead of refining his understanding of fluid dynamics.

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Big Trouble in Little Wedgewood Elementary

I was always in trouble in school. Yes, I see your shock face. I didn’t learn linearly. I had to reverse engineer everything and still do. I have the mind of an engineer or a ferret (jury is still out on that one). I have to pull things apart to understand HOW they work.

My mom was great. She didn’t force me to sit at a desk and do things the way “normal” kids were supposed to, likely because she already knew The Normal Ship sailed without me. She didn’t care if I did my homework hanging like a bat at midnight wearing a tutu so long as it got done and I made good grades. School, on the other hand, was not thrilled with me hanging like a bat in a tutu and this is why all memories of third grade involve me sitting in the hall.

Kristen Circa Third Grade
Kristen Circa Third Grade

I made the best grades but was in the most trouble and not a lot has changed.

I think standardized testing is fine…no, sorry I think it’s boneheaded. It has nothing to do with knowledge and only tests one’s ability to take a test. I scored so low on my SAT I think they had to check me for a pulse. I started out in junior college in Moron Math while I tutored Chemistry and Physics for extra money and read books on Chaos Theory for fun.

The “Test” told them what math class I needed and the Oracle Test doesn’t lie.

I dropped out of high school twice. It took me five years to graduate by the skin of my teeth and I am the reason for the current truancy laws. But, in my 20s, I spoke four languages and earned a degree in International Relations with a heavy emphasis on Political Economy of the Middle East and North Africa. I was a killer code-breaker and every branch of the military wanted me in Intelligence. So that whole reverse-engineering I received Fs for in school was apparently very useful after all.

Ironically, this skill is what makes me an excellent teacher.

What is Standard Anyway?

Either let our teachers be teachers and do their jobs and their art (which teaching IS) or just be honest and hand them a white lab coat and a clipboard and be done with it. Reward the kids with a Nutri-Log if they can figure out how the hell Common Core Math works.

And this whole notion that “Your kid is this age and should be doing this” would be fine with me if it weren’t worshipped to the point of stupidity. Yes, we need benchmarks. We need to know areas to focus so we can guide and nurture our wee ones. And maybe The Spawn is verbally behind because he loves solving highly advanced puzzles more than talking. He’s like his parents. More like Shawn cuz I never shut up, but dig puzzles.

Our boy is FOUR. For the love of all that is chocolate, let them be BABIES. Let them be LITTLE. It is such a brief and beautiful time and we are forgetting that.

Bat Spawn and his trusty minion, Lazr Cat. And, no. I have NO idea how he got up there.
Bat Spawn and his trusty minion, Lazr Cat. And, no. I have NO idea how he got up there.

They’re kids not copies. No human is identical. We don’t come off an assembly line. Can someone please tell the bureaucrats and scientists that they will never create a single operating manual that will work on all of us.

Michelangelo was dyslexic. DaVinci nearly lost every commission he was given. No one wanted to work with him because he was a NOTORIOUS flake. He’d start a project then see something shiny and disappear for weeks or months. He was SEVERELY ADD and that’s a good thing because we can thank him for his art, his groundbreaking work in anatomy, his early designs of flying machines and SCUBA gear and on and on.

Einstein likely had Asperger’s. Walt Disney was considered slow. Churchill had a speech impediment and was bad at math. Agatha Christie had dysgraphia (an inability to  understand written words) yet grew up to profoundly impact an entire genre with her unique writing style.

What if these geniuses had been in our modern school system? I think they’d have been sitting in the hall, too. Maybe the “experts” would have even medicated the genius right out of them so they could grow up to be something soul-sucking…with dental benefits.

No I’m Not Crazy. My Mother Had Me Tested.

I know I might be overreacting. I’m a writer and we can be dramatic, but often I think it’s because so many of us were chastised for being different. We didn’t fit in. We couldn’t be “measured” as accurately as others. Maybe we even were told we were learning disabled. Because my brain works differently than the fat part of the bell curve, I am disabled? Really.

Yes, I wrote a half a million words in less than a year…I also put the mayo away in the microwave.

And The Spawn is SO funny and clever. He made up the death metal song “Zombies and Babies” at age three. Not long ago he started singing “Zombies and Pears.”

Me: Zombies and pears? Zombies eat brains. What kind of zombie eats pears?

Spawn: *matter-of-factly* Vegan Zombies.

And HOW do you argue with that?

What are your thoughts? And feel free to disagree with me, I only ask that any debate be polite. I’m anti-drone so feel free to offer me another POV. It’s how I learn. Maybe there is a perspective I haven’t considered. The Spawn is my first and only boy, so this is new. Any of you have suggestions? Ways I can prepare for this meeting? I am bringing Hubby so he can hold my leash and make sure my muzzle stays on.

Do you think all this college-prep crap’s gone cray-cray? Maybe SAT instruction for pregnant women to put on their bellies?

Are you frustrated that every year they seem to be putting our teachers in a tighter straight-jacket? Are you one of those kids who sat in the hall, too? Hey, we’re Hall Peeps! Any teachers who can offer some help, advice, anecdotes? Do any of you  “suffer” from a learning disability? Has your “learning disability” actually been your greatest asset? I know my ADD presents many challenges, but so does being boring.

How have you overcome your disability? And sorry, that last question still ticks me off. WE need to overcome? Maybe “normal” folks should have a moment in our brains and see what they’re missing…SQUIRREL!


To prove it and show my love, for the month of MAY, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

I will announce April’s winner after waking from the conference coma in a couple days.

If you want more help with plot problems, antagonists, structure, beginnings, then I have a FANTASTIC class coming up to help you!


Understanding the Antagonist

If you are struggling with plot or have a book that seems to be in the Never-Ending Hole of Chasing Your Tail or maybe you’d like to learn how to plot a series, I am also teaching my ever-popular Understanding the Antagonist Class on May 10th from NOON to 2:00 P.M. (A SATURDAY). This is a fabulous class for understanding all the different types of antagonists and how to use them to maintain and increase story tension.

Remember, a story is only as strong as its problem 😉 . This is a GREAT class for streamlining a story and making it pitch-ready.

Additionally, why pay thousands for an editor or hundreds for a book doctor? This is a VERY affordable way to make sure your entire story is clear and interesting. Also, it will help you learn to plot far faster and cleaner in the future.

Again, use WANA10 for $10 off.

I’ll be running the First Five Pages again at the end of May, so stay tuned.

And, if you need help building a brand, social media platform, please check out my latest best-selling book, Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World.

Braaaaiiiiinssss….with some salsa, please. And a refill on my merlot?

Just made it in from a whirlwind week in NYC at Thrillerfest. I am so tired I want to DIE, yet my stupid biological clock still has me up at dawn despite how exhausted I am. Of all places, though, NYC seems to be the favorite place for moviemakers to destroy or infect. That and LA. Though I will mention the aliens never land in Texas.

Probably because the movie would be 15 minutes long :D.

One of my close friends, Piper Bayard, wrote a fabulous book, Firelands which deals with a post-apocalyptic world where religious fanatics now rule a world in ruin and use food to control the masses. In the spirit of her book, I wanted to discuss the apocalypse. That and I just spent a week in NYC walking through “mystery puddles”…which makes me wonder….

Why is the zombie apocalypse so fascinating to us?

Never Underestimate Zombies

One of the wonderful parts about being a writer is we are really well educated…too well educated. Any writer worth his or her salt reads…a lot. I recall (back in college) reading The Hot Zone, which is an absolutely terrifying book. Terrifying in its premise, sure. But also terrifying because it is based off real events.

For those who don’t know, Ebola actually made it to the United States in a shipment of infected monkeys back in the early 90s.

String-like Ebola virus particles are shedding from an infected cell in this electron micrograph. Credit: NIAID
String-like Ebola virus particles are shedding from an infected cell in this electron micrograph. Credit: NIAID

Ebola happens to be one of the most frightening diseases I’ve ever read about. Ebola Zaire, the most virulent of all the strains, essentially liquifies a victim within less than 12 days. The mass destruction it does to the body is the stuff of nightmares.

The virus does a number of nasty deeds to the body, but namely it attacks all the connective tissue from the inside out causing catastrophic internal hemmorhaging. This means the organs (including the brain) essentially turn to pudding because there is nothing left to hold everything together.

As a response, the body throws out all its clotting agents trying to keep the infected person alive…until it runs out of clotting agent and then the person just begins to bleed…from EVERYWHERE. Blood teeming with active virus begins to pour from the nose and mouth and eyes until the victim is rendered a puddle of infected blood, bone and tissue.

Um, cleanup on Aisle Five?

This is how the virus spreads—via blood contamination. The victim is literally dead before they die, their face sliding off the bones because nothing is left to maintain/support the facial architecture.


What makes Ebola especially horrific is that it’s only a few peptides and mutations from being something airborne. If something like Ebola spread like the flu? We’re toast. This is what The Hot Zone addresses. A version of Ebola (similar to Zaire in burn rate) really made it to the US…and it spread through the air like a cold.

I won’t say any more because this is a really fabulous book, but part of why it was so scary is IT FREAKING HAPPENED.

Ebola happens all the time in Africa and how do they deal with it? I call it the Three B’s—bleach, bury and burn. When a village has an outbreak, the authorities will cut down trees to block any roads leading to the village…and wait for everyone to die. Ebola Zaire has roughly a 99% kill rate. Almost no one ever survives. Authorities wait for everyone to be dead then torch the place.

Happy Monday! 😀

The Scary Part About Viruses

Viruses are a lot like politicians and Kardashians. They are parasitic and they will adapt as much as needed to survive. If they burn through a species, they’ll change to be able to burn through another. If contamination via blood isn’t working? A virus is fully capable of changing tactics, like marrying Kanye West and naming it’s kid something seriously stupid like North West.

Sorry, forgot we were discussing Ebola.

As populations get larger in countries like Africa, China and South America (ideal virus petri dishes because of climate and population density) we are invading areas of rain forest no human has ever set foot in. A virus might be inert or less virulent because local wildlife has developed immunity over time, and then? Virus spots the equivalent of a Twinkie on two legs (people). NEW JUNK FOOD!

Viruses have no long-term planning capabilities. They suck at having an IRA or even going to college. They just want to consume no matter the expense to the host, much like deadbeat in-laws.

Yes, this is me.
Yes, this is me.

But Isn’t This Why the Zombie Fascination is So Strong?

I love vampires, wizards, werewolves and the like, but zombies hold a unique fascination. Why? Because I think deep in our collective subconscious, we realize this is something that could happen…which is why you need a plan (but that is totally another blog).

I was one of the fortunate first people to get Swine Flu. Hey, I’m an early adopter. What can I say? I contracted Swine Flu a year before we had a pseudo-pandemic. I had 105 fever for almost 12 days, and not only did I want to die? I wanted to die, be cremated, then have someone shoot my ashes it was so bad.

We live in a scary world. Bird Flu, Swine Flu, Ebola, and the Kardashians.

Come on! The Kardashians already have a reality show and have invaded QVC. If they manage to marry and breed faster? We could be looking at a world filled with mindless people wearing too much lip gloss and trashy shoes and being permitted to name their own children *shivers*. If a Kardashian meets up with Ebola? They could spread through sneezes and unwashed hands. Next thing we know, we are filled with botox, unable to move our foreheads or articulate an intelligent thought.

Sounds like zombies to me.

What are your thoughts? Most of us aren’t afraid of a vampire invasion, but zombies? A lot of us still get that niggling, “What if?” Why do you think we do that? Is it because we think it might happen? Is it because we’ve spent too much time watching The Bachelor or Toddlers and Tiaras?

I know you guys are geeks and have thought this through, so I would LOVE to hear your thoughts!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of July, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novelor your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

NOTE: My prior two books are no longer for sale, but I am updating them and will re-release. My new book, Rise of the Machines–Human Authors in a Digital World is NOW AVAILABLE.

At the end of July I will pick a winner for the monthly prize. Good luck!

Clay Morgan, Author of “Undead”

Happy Friday, and do I have a treat for you guys–CLAY MORGAN, author of Undead–Revived, Resuscitated, Reborn. Some of you might think me inviting Clay to guest post is merely a shameless ploy to garner more zombie Klout…

Okay, busted.

Kidding! Though I do dig zombie Klout.

I met Clay on Twitter ages ago and have been blessed to watch him grow from hopeful noob to professional author. In true WANA style, Clay is here paying it forward which is awesome because it frees up time for me to keep reading his new book (which ROCKS, btw). Give him a warm WANA welcome!


I’ve been reading about how to get published for years, even before I wrote a bad novel that will likely never see the light of day. Like most of you, I’ve spent years trying to hop on that bucking beast known as publishing success. Studies have included:

  • Reading traditional mags like Writer’s Digest.
  • Following industry leaders from literary agencies as well as publishing houses.
  • Spending considerable time trying to figure out how the brave new digital world is changing everything.
  • Trying to determine whether self-publishing is a) terrible b) awesome c) inevitable d) it depends or e) *leaps to my death with Kindle in hand because I just can’t take it anymore*
  • Absorbing wisdom from standouts like my gracious host here Kristen.

After all of that, I’m now attempting to gather my thoughts from a unique position—a spot not everyone gets to be in and one where I’ll never be again. I’ve sold my first book through traditional publishing but it hasn’t quite released yet.

In other words, as I write this I am a published author yet not a successful or failed published author. I’m saddled up on top of this bronco, hat in hand, waiting to see if I’ll hold onto the reigns or get dumped on my keyster when that gate swings open.

I’m just a guy in the midst of this process and still asking a lot of questions, but here are 10 lessons I’ve learned from the traditional publishing process.

1. The author-agent relationship is critical.

I went to a conference last year with one particular person in mind as my ideal agent. She liked what I pitched and I thought I found my match. But then I bumped into another agent and we had instant chemistry. I signed with the latter and that other agent has already changed careers.

A thousand articles have been written by pros more experienced than me about what makes a good agent, but I can attest to how important the right one has been for me.

2. Finding the right publisher is critical.

We all know that rejection is a part of this business. It also really sucks. The challenge is to not equate your personal value to the responses your work receives. As my proposal went out and came back from editor after editorial board, I felt that angry horse kicking.

Not landing an agent is frustrating; watching your work get turned down by house after house gets downright terrifying. In the end a really terrific publisher named Abingdon made an offer, and I’m having a wonderful experience with them.

3. Know thy team.

The old maxim to “know thyself” still holds, but a close second in publishing is to know thy team. I was told that it might be helpful to meet with the people responsible for designing, marketing, publicizing, selling, and producing my book, so I flew to Nashville to meet with the team. You gotta figure there’s a pecking order everywhere, and I’d rather be a smiling face instead of just an ISBN number. We have a great working relationship and it all started there.

4. Some compromise is necessary.

If you want full control over your work then you should probably trot your trusty steed down the self-publishing trail. I knew before a deal was even offered that I would have to change my title. And since I write nonfiction the manuscript wasn’t completed yet. The scary thing about that is the potential for the entire direction of your book to change. Of course, input from smart people can be great as well, and I’ve been fortunate to work with smart people.

5. An accelerated timetable is both a blessing and curse.

I’m learning that publishing is the ultimate “hurry up and wait” industry. Nothing happens for weeks and then you may suddenly have two hours to come up with any number of critical items such as catalog copy ideas or alternate subtitle suggestions or whatever.

One experienced editor who’s worked with a big house told me that my timetable was about the fastest he’d ever seen. We went from signing a contract on an unfinished manuscript to having the book out in less than nine months. The process will often take twice that long, sometimes even more. But we made it and now the blessing is that I don’t have to wait another year for the release date.

6. Finishing is HARD.

Finishing this book was the hardest professional thing I’ve ever done. I’ve read On Writing by Stephen King a couple times and used to think it was strange how he said he was sick of his manuscripts by the time they actually came out. After working and reworking my book, I kind of get that now. I finally just read my own book start to finish for the first time.

7. Plan as if you will have to do everything on your own.

We always hear that the days of sitting back while the publisher does everything for us are gone. So I figured I would have to do everything myself. Turns out I’ve had wonderful support in many ways, but my efforts only encourage the team to work hard because they know I won’t waste their effort.

8. Networking still matters.

Connect with people like crazy and pursue any creative opportunity you can come up with. I try to combine my passions and abilities with areas where I have something to offer someone. Then figure out a way to approach that individual, organization, event, or whatever. Every little bit matters. I’m not likely to get a foreword by Stephen King but I can connect with 100 other professional creatives in a positive way.

9. Creating new stuff gets much tougher when promoting your past work.

As I write this in early September I’m thinking about the 50 pages of a new manuscript I told my agent she would have by the end of August. I’ve written four of those pages. Yes, I have a day job like most everyone else but the reason I’m not getting new books written is because I’m trying to do every last possible thing I can to make my first book a success. From what I see around the web, many writers struggle with promotion and publicity at the expense of writing new stuff.

10. You gotta enjoy the little things (big things too).

The farther along I’ve gotten in this process, the less I’ve celebrated milestones. I always thought that the most magical thing ever about getting published would be the day when those first books with my name on them would arrive on my doorstep. I imagined I would hold a copy into the sunlight and weep as Queen music played in my mind or something.

What happened instead though was that I smiled and then felt like I was going to throw up. Because this just got real. No turning back now; this book would be seen by people. What if I fail? That’s the problem with big dreams, the stakes are so dang hi! Success is never free of risk.

In the meantime, what if I spend so much time doing the next thing and the next that I never enjoy this ride? As Columbus had to learn in Zombieland, you gotta enjoy the little things.

So like I say I’m holding onto my hat. My feet are firmly locked in the stirrups now that some great people have boosted me into this saddle of opportunity. The ride isn’t easy but should be exhilarating. Yeehaw.


Clay Morgan is a writer, teacher, and speaker from Pittsburgh, PA who blogs about pop culture, history, and the meaning of life at He is the author of Undead: Revived, Resuscitated, and Reborn about zombies, God, and what it means to be truly alive. Connect with him on Twitter.

I LOVE hearing from you guys! And since we have a guest today, every comment counts DOUBLE in the contest.

To prove it and show my love, for the month of September, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.

I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novelor your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

And also, winners have a limited time to claim the prize, because what’s happening is there are actually quite a few people who never claim the critique, so I never know if the spam folder ate it or to look for it and then people miss out. I will also give my corporate e-mail to insure we connect and I will only have a week to return the 20 page edit.

At the end of September I will pick a winner for the monthly prize. Good luck!

I also hope you pick up copies of my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer And both are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in the biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left to write great books.

Author Kristen Lamb, social media writers, social media authors, social media platform authors
I was born for this town.

Got home from Thrillerfest early this morning…as in about 1:00 this morning. Made it to bed slightly before 2:00 a.m. and then The Spawn was up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at 6:30. So you might have guessed that I feel like I have been hit by a truck. But, I haven’t blogged since last Monday so I figured I’d pop in and say hello before you started holding candlelight vigils and checking milk cartons to find me.

Oh, and forget the milk cartons. I’ve left instructions that if I ever go missing to put my picture on wine bottles so my friends would actually know I am missing.

I guess the good news is that there was no Zombie Apocalypse while I was away in NYC. I would be lying if I said  wasn’t at least a little disappointed. But I am going to L.A. (Anaheim) next week, so I will still make sure to pack my 5 TSA-Friendly Weapons for the Zombie Apocalypse, because we all know that pandemics that turn living humans into the walking dead never happen when you need them to. Like when you have been screwing off instead of writing and really need more time to make your deadline or when you have to clean out the refrigerator.

Though my refrigerator, from the looks of things, could unleash the zombie pandemic so I think its best I leave that be for now until I can call the CDC and ask about proper liquid lettuce disposal. But the CDC doesn’t believe in zombies, and they don’t return accept my calls…so I’ll let Shawn clean it.

Author Kristen Lamb, Kristen Lamb, writer, social media writers, social media publishing
Run for your lives!

New York was SUPER AMAZING. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE New York City. Some of you may not know this, but my dad was a Texan and my mom is from New York, so I’ve spent much of my life very verklempt, y’all. It took all of an hour before I felt right at home. NYC is an extrovert’s DREAM. Beautiful buildings, lots to see, great energy, fabulous food…but a tad expensive.

Wow, this town IS pricey!

Anyway, Thrillerfest was fabulous. My panel went really well, and is feels like a real victory for WANA. I think the future is bright for writers and it can be for publishing as well. They just need to change their approach and update their business model, but we will talk more about that later in the week when I’m no longer hallucinating from sleep-deprivation.

The pink bunnies aren’t REAL?

I was blessed to meet some of my author heroes:

Sandra Brown, Kristen Lamb
Here I am with Sandra Brown. She is AMAZING!
Here with NYTBSA Joseph Finder
Lambo with the Creator of Rambo (The Legend David Morrell)
Eriq LaSalle, Kristen Lamb
Here I am with Eriq LaSalle best known for his role on ER.
Ted Dekker is SO sweet! And brilliant.
Here with Internationally Best-Selling Author Jaime Fevretti (She is writing the new Bourne novels).
At lunch with mega-agent Donald Maass and Nationally Best-Selling Author James Scott Bell.

Yes, I am a total groupie and got as many pictures with famous people as possible. In fact, my friend James Scott Bell said I reminded him of Forrest Gump because every time he saw me I was standing next to some famous person. I still haven’t decided whether I should be insulted or flattered.

Life is like a box of chocolates…

I was super sad to leave NYC and I really hope I get an opportunity to return there soon. It was so wonderful getting to meet with my WANA peeps and to make new ones. Publishing is going through a lot of growing pains, but it was a real blessing to be able to show them the WANA way, that we are not alone, that the future can be truly wonderful if we all work together. We can’t use tools of yesterday to carve out tomorrow. It’s like Forrest said, Stupid is as stupid does.

Hmmm, maybe Jim was on to something comparing me to Gump :D.

Well, off to try and rest. I am dreading the refrigerator and we have no food in the house that isn’t a possible source of Ebola. Also have a 55 pound suitcase that needs unpacking and somehow I made it to this point in my life and STILL do not have servants. Not like that would matter. I’d be getting the maid a drink while she got off her feet and I “helped.” I am pathetic, and tired, and needing chocolate. I ate pancetta with polenta for breakfast because it was the only thing in the house still edible. The fact that everything started with P and sounded all fancy Italian was just a happy accident.

So what are your thoughts? Have you been to NYC and loved it? What did you see or do? What would you recommend if I return? What are your thoughts on famous people? Have you met any? Were they awesome or snotty? Are you a groupie too? Did you just HAVE to get your picture taken with them? Who is the most famous person you know? When you go on trips, do you hate returning to your fridge? Unpacking? What is the best and worst part of traveling in your opinion?

I love hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of July, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.

***Changing the contest.

It is a lot of work to pick the winners each week. Not that you guys aren’t totally worth it, but with the launch of WANA International and WANATribe I need to streamline. So I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novelor your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

And also, winners will now have a limited time to claim the prize, because what’s happening is there are actually quite a few people who never claim the critique, so I never know if the spam folder ate it or to look for it and then people miss out. I will also give my corporate e-mail to insure we connect and I will only have a week to return the 20 page edit.

At the end of July I will pick a winner for the monthly prize. Good luck!

I also hope you pick up copies of my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer And both are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in the biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left to write great books.