ZOMBIES PAST AND FUTURE: 4 zombie plagues, 4 great prizes!

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This giveaway has now concluded. We had 72 contestants and drew the winners randomly. Congratulations, lucky numbers 40, 26, 2, and 6!

THE WINNING CONTESTANTS:
Jeremy Dick (#6)
Randy Lewis (#2)
Jen Jensen (#40)
Beverly Matthews (#26)

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litore_sitlscourge-cover Valley of the Dead by Kim Paffenroth Frater

4 winners will be randomly selected after December 20, 2013 to receive a holiday package of US kindle editions of all four of these critically acclaimed novels. Each novel takes the zombie apocalypse to a distant century.

Win All 4 Ebooks in the ZOMBIES PAST & FUTURE Giveaway!

Entering the giveaway also allows you to receive future updates from novelists Stant Litore and Roberto Calas. Eligibility: You need to live in the US — and like kindle books!

Each winner will receive a copy of all four novels — or the chance to designate someone they would like the prizes gifted to!

Surprise someone this holiday season with 4 zombie plagues
that reach across all of human history!

Enter today.

Here’s what you can expect in each of these great reads:

litore_sitlSTRANGERS IN THE LAND by Stant Litore. 1160 BC. You’ve read about the 10 Plagues of Egypt. Now read about the time ancient Israel and one aging prophetess faced a plague of the walking dead.

Valley of the Dead by Kim PaffenrothVALLEY OF THE DEAD by Kim Paffenroth. 13th Century. During his exile from Florence, Dante Alighieri encounters an eastern Europe where the savagery of the dead is exceeded only by the cruelties of the living, in harrowing scenes that inspire his Inferno.

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THE SCOURGE by Roberto Calas. 14th Century. In this retelling of the Black Death, Sir Edward of Bodiam and two of his knights search for Sir Edward’s wife across a nightmarish and zombie-infected England.

FraterLAST BASTION OF THE LIVING by Rhiannon Frater. Distant Future. Vanguard Maria Martinez has lived her entire life within the towering walls of steel that protect the last survivors of humanity from the Inferi Scourge. Now she has been offered the opportunity to reclaim the lands outside her walled city, but she may have to sacrifice everything to do it.

Why I Decided to Do a Kindle Serial

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I’m fascinated to see if the serial novel is ready to make a big comeback. Think about it:

  • In the previous generation, bookworms sat down quite happily with 1000-page historical fiction sagas or epic fantasy novels. Now, most days, most of us readers are in a mad scramble to get our stories in 10-20 minutes, in between the distractions of an increasingly hectic lifestyle and social media. (I could argue that there’s still a lot of value in securing evening time to just sit with a book and get lost in it, but that’s a topic for another post.)
  • We’ve mostly lost faith in Hollywood — it’s all car-chase shlock, with an occasional moment of unexpected grandeur. The real storytelling … and the viewers … are shifting increasingly over to seasonal miniseries, ten-episode seasons of serial narratives such as Breaking Bad, A Game of Thrones, and The Walking Dead. For bookworms and non-bookworms alike, this is rapidly becoming the dominant form in which we absorb our stories.

These are conditions that are training us to look for and enjoy serialized narratives. Does this mean that we will see more serial novels? Maybe. Hugh Howey’s Wool, published initially in serial installments, suggests that serial novels might really succeed in both sales and reader enjoyment. Amazon has their line of Kindle Serials, and some of the more interesting horror and mystery fiction out right now is being published there. (For example, take a look at Roberto Calas’ The Scourge and its sequel Nostrum).

150 years ago, the serial novel was the dominant form. You’d read episodes consisting of several chapters each, delivered in a magazine format, and at the end, it would all be collected together in one book. Serialized stories captured the hearts and imaginations of millions of readers — even as George R. R. Martin’s screen adaptation of A Game of Thrones does today. Thousands anxious for the next installment of Charles Dickens’ latest novel used to throng to the docks in Boston, to shout at the mariners on the incoming ships, “Is little Nell dead? Tell us! Is she dead?”

Serialized storytelling has a particular excitement to it. You get to live with characters you care about in their dangerous world not just for the days it takes you to devour the novel, but for weeks. You hear a little of their story at a time, and you wait, anxious for the next week. You think about them and their plight, about the decisions they’ll have to make. They accompany you through your day. They become a part of your community for a while, a part of that season of your life. And then, when the next installment arrives on your e-reader, your heart starts to race. Adrenaline surges into your body. You have to know what’s going to happen. You’ve had entire weeks to care about these characters, and now you simply have to know.

That’s exciting. I hope the serial novel does make a big comeback. It’s a beautiful form, and one that has waited lurking beneath our publishing industry, all but forgotten, like a dormant, sleeping Leviathan, for so many decades. Maybe this is when it will wake and surge upward again, breaking the waters and disturbing in its mighty wake all of our expectations about what reading a novel might be like.

We will see.

Litore_NLB_smallWe will be watching the water.

And while we wait to see what happens, I hope you will join me for my own Kindle Serial, No Lasting Burial, which is also about something lurking beneath the water. Something hungry. Something that will not stay dormant or asleep. Something that wants to come get you. Right now.

Come take a look.

Why I Love Ebooks

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Readers, I’m delighted (and wowed) to say that my post on the impact of e-publishing on rural America has been featured on Amazon’s home page today. You can read it here:

http://amzn.to/I32PvN

That is what I would say to anyone who is still skeptical about ebooks. And I would also say this (though I didn’t write it): http://amzn.to/1bAYQ0E

Africa

That’s one episode in a larger story about mobile learning in Africa. (In many rural areas of the continent, there isn’t enough money to build and supply more schools and colleges…but there is funding to get cellphone networks in. That can mean access to elearning programs, online degree programs, and ebooks.)

Here’s to literacy and here’s to great fiction!

Stant Litore

11 Things You May Not Know About Me

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You might know that I’m the author of The Zombie Bible, a series of novels retelling biblical stories as episodes in humanity’s long struggle against hunger…and the hungry dead. But below, you’ll find 11 things about me that you might not know. I was challenged to write this list by a friend.

1. “Stant Litore” is a nom de plume. It comes from stant litore puppes, a line in Latin from the Aeneid. “They stand at the shore.” At the fall of Troy, while the city burns behind you, you’re fleeing for your life with the last of your kin, and those ahead of you call out, “The ships stand at the shore! The anchor is already drawn up. Hurry!” The ships are waiting to carry you over the sea, and this moment of loss and grief while the world burns is a moment of embarkation, too. Every moment is a moment of embarkation for a future across dark waves that you can’t yet see, and for me stant litore is a good reminder of that. What the fugitives don’t know is that on the other side of that sea, they’re going to found mighty Rome.

2. The goats’ midwife. My dearest childhood memory: leaving my window open a crack on cold February nights, listening for the bleating as the goats began to kid out in the pasture. On those nights I would jump into rubber boots and go running out across the frost. Dozens of coyotes yipping at the scent of fresh blood from the hill to the east, and the low, steady barking of our barrel-chested dogs. Attending the births in our herd by night is the thing I remember most clearly from my young years.

3. How I met my wife. I met my beautiful wife through online dating. Sometimes that really does work. At the time I was an impoverished college student who relied entirely on buses, and she drove an hour to meet me, a remarkable sign of interest. After our first date and our first kiss — what a kiss! — I walked home in a world that had more colors than I had known existed, and brighter ones. I sang quietly to myself the whole way. That was nine and a half years ago.

4. I teach. I have taught Shakespeare courses at a university, private workshops for aspiring novelists, and seminars at my local church focused on religious studies and world religions. My most memorable moment teaching: leading a troop of eight students on foot, with our props on our shoulders, to a local assisted living campus for seniors, where we performed A Midsummer Night’s Dream. One of the students wrote a solo into our script and sang it, and one of the seniors, who had sung for a living, wept during the performance; afterward, the young student and the lovely old woman wept together.

5. I have an unreasoning and irrational fear of jellyfish, though my wife finds them beautiful. I do have an enchanting memory of my wife looking over the balcony at the Adriatic on our honeymoon cruise, calling out with childlike joy, “Jellies! Jellies!”

6. My favorite novel of those I have written is “What Our Eyes Have Witnessed.” My favorite character is Regina. Please do not tell my other characters this, as they will get frightfully jealous, and at least a few of them are violent.

7. The first horror movie I ever saw was “Hellraiser” (or possibly one if its many sequels), at about age 5 or 6. I think it was on a TV in my father’s repair shop. All I can remember clearly is Pinhead and someone chained up. Actually, even earlier than that, I saw Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” music video, which possibly explains my lifelong fascination with zombies.

8. My favorite song, and the one most packed with nostalgia for me, is Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here.” The song that makes me think of my wife: Lifehouse “You and Me,” our wedding recessional. The song that silences me in awe at the universe and at us within it: Hildegard von Bingen’s “O Quam Mirabilis Est.” When I was first learning Latin, I once wrote the lyrics to that medieval song in the dark before dawn in four-foot-tall letters in the snow between the chapel and the humanities building at the Jesuit school I attended at that time. My military roommates, returning from class to find me studying Wheelock’s Latin at the dining room table, promptly demanded to know if I was the one who’d written a giant hymn across the campus snow. Ancient languages are my wine and my violin and my dark drug.

9. I walked a way along the pilgrims’ road to Santiago de Compostela after backpacking through France, and though I did not complete the pilgrimage, I have never forgotten it, and I think I completed some other pilgrimage in my heart, up there in the misty Pyrenees and the Basque country, though now, twelve years later, I am still trying to figure out what pilgrimage that was. The journey and the people I met moved me.

10. I have never successfully bioengineered a velociraptor. Though not for lack of hoping for one. Prehistory fascinates me, and Dawkins’ The Greatest Show on Earth is one of my favorite books. Also, my guilty pleasure is rereading Jurassic Park fifteen times, starting at age eleven. I like dinosaurs. I also like baluchithers and giant dragonflies and titanoboas.

11. The Ghost Girl. It is possible that I saw what may have been the ghost of a murdered girl once, after dark, in one of the darkest places on this earth. Some day I will tell you the story.

And Some Nights, There Are Miracles

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I spent this week in the hospital with my youngest, Inara, for a weeklong EMU (Epilepsy Monitoring Unit). Her seizures have been under control since January, at a very high dosage of anti-convulsants, but late this summer, her body began having sudden and distressing spasms.

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This is Inara Cahira, my youngest daughter.

As her neurologist and we thought they were likely seizures, we were worried, deeply, that we might have to risk lifting her dosages to dangerous levels (I wrote about that dread here). So began a series of tests, including an all-night vigil prior to an EEG that proved inconclusive. I spent that night rocking Inara, reading to her from The Silmarillion and The Zombie Bible (the less violent passages), and keeping us both awake.

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Whether life is grim or happy, Inara always smiles when I read to her.

This week, we went to the hospital for a weeklong, 24/7 EEG. Here is the story of how that went and what we found.

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Caption: “Daddy, I’m going to the hospital AGAIN?”

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90 minutes of attaching electrodes to Inara’s head, to measure the electrical activity along her scalp.

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My caption to this photo: “Now I can control the world with my brain.”

The caption her mother supplied:
“Mommy, they’re going to steal my thoughts and the mysteries of the universe that I keep silently in my brain, and sell them to Stephen Hawking.”

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After all that, Inara was a little tired.

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But nothing keeps Inara down for long. She has a dragon’s heart.

Five days in, we have monitored four of her spasms, enough for the resident neurologist at this hospital to indicate that these spasms are almost certainly not epileptic — they are not seizures.

And that means that Inara’s high-dosage medicines have been keeping her seizures under control successfully.

And that means we don’t need to approach the extremely difficult and no-win decision of whether to increase her dosages into dangerous territory.

It is incredible and unexpected news. We didn’t expect to be told that these spasms weren’t seizures. We expected to capture enough information about them to be absolutely sure of what we were looking at and to make the best possible decisions we could about her medication. Her skilled doctors have instead handed us a best-case scenario we didn’t dare hope for.

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My little girl.

A vast community — my church, my readers, fellow writers, coworkers, friends — have been praying for little Inara, or keeping her in their thoughts, or sending good vibes. Some have even brought food for my family or have given hours of their time to help. A dear friend brought a check in a sealed envelope from our church’s benevolence fund. Inara’s three-year-old sister River has given her fullest support, too; when visiting the hospital, she climbed into Inara’s crib with her and kept her company.

2Sisters“Two sisters!” River cried happily. “Together!”

Many of you have followed Inara’s story and have cared for her, even at a distance. Thank you.

Of course, she is still having spasms that lock up parts of her body and cause her distress, and we still need to track down what these spasms actually are. But just knowing that we will not need to choose this winter between endangering her brain and nervous system and endangering her kidneys…for the first time in a few months, I feel real hope.

Tonight, I just held her for a while. Felt her tiny, fierce heartbeat. And wept.

Stant Litore

In Memory of Pern: A Tribute to Anne McCaffrey

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Anne McCaffrey passed away in November, two years ago. I have been thinking a lot about ‘Dragonflight’ lately, and I am reposting this tribute, which I originally posted on my old blog on November 22, 2011.

Things I learned as a teen from Anne McCaffrey:

  • Talent and beauty can be found anywhere, in even the poorest of fish-holds; in the meanest and most abusive of environments, something can still blossom. All that is needed is the courage to believe in one’s own worth. Menolly taught me that.
  • Compassion must always triumph over tradition. Lessa taught me that.
  • When you and your spouse are irritating each other, the proper answer is not to plead, argue, or ignore, but simply to draw her close and kiss her. F’lar taught me that.
  • Sometimes, there is no evil in being a follower rather than a leader, if the cause is one that touches your heart and the leader is one you believe in. F’nor taught me that.

When I was a young writer, McCaffrey was one of those novelists who taught me that genre is an artifice, and that the only thing that might keep musicians’ schools, flights of dragons, and derelict spacecraft from co-existing in the same pages is our own lack of imagination. Just as the only thing that might keep fishermen’s daughters and nobles from eating dinner together is our lack of imagination when it comes to people and our unwillingness to look into each other’s eyes.


Michael Whelan. Moreta.

I did not love every book Anne wrote, and I did not read further than the first nine or ten Pern books. But I can think of only a handful of writers who opened up my imagination as a young reader as deeply and poignantly and captivatingly as Anne McCaffrey did.

She is no longer here. She is now off the map — in the white spaces, the unknown, “where there be dragons.” But I would still wish her well and thank her for her fiction.

Stant Litore

Cover Reveal! No Lasting Burial

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COMING NEXT TUESDAY (November 12):

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The cover is by Jeroen ten Berge.

Here’s what No Lasting Burial is about:

A first-century Israeli village lies ruined after zombies devour most of the coastal community. In their grief, the villagers threw the dead into the Sea of Galilee, not suspecting that this act would poison the fish and starve the few survivors on land.

Yeshua hears their hunger. He hears the moans of the living and the dead, like screaming in his ears. Desperate to respond, he calls up the fish.

Just one thing:

The dead are called up, too.

No Lasting Burial ushers readers into a vivid and visceral re-interpretation of the Gospel of Luke and the legend of the Harrowing of Hell. The hungry dead will rise and walk, and readers may never look at these stories the same way again.

I hope you’ll order your copy and join me for this unique foray into the New Testament and zombie horror. No Lasting Burial will be released in nine weekly episodes as a Kindle Serial in the U.S., starting next Tuesday. After the Serial, 47North will release paperback and audiobook editions in addition to the kindle edition.

Note about the artist: Jeroen ten Berge is the same artist who did the cover for The Dark Need. I have always admired Jeroen’s covers, and am grateful that my publisher reached out to him for this novel.