Saturday, November 10, 2012

Zombie Apocalypse Survival Guide

One of my favorite things that I get to do when writing any book is research. Ok, maybe that's a little weird and I just proved that I am a huge nerd, but it's actually really fun to learn new things and it's really important to me that my characters know what they are talking about. I've learned a lot of probably useless information about a lot of random things and I know quite a bit about water mythology after writing Beyond the Sea. I actually own a TON of spell books, magical herb guides, magical crystal encyclopedias, divination guides, tarot cards, and runes. I think that stuff is fascinating of course and I also research what Anora's saying/doing. I like facts and getting them straight. 

My research sometimes includes not looking up information in books but instead doing something. I shot a LOT of different guns and even made my own 'zombie heads' to watch explode when hit with different objects. I watched many tutorials and talked to people who do archery so Orissa accurately uses her beloved compound bow. (I just started archery lessons from a friend!) I did a lot of running around and acting out scenes for the Contagium Series too; my friends and I had fun with that! I put 'important items' in bags to test the weight and to see how difficult it was to run/move/fight with those things attached to my body. I felt like I hit the jackpot for gross wound research by being in nursing school and having the chance to go to a wound clinic. I was able to talk to doctors, nurses, and my professors about medically 'realistic' zombies, and I have a very smart friend who has her master's in psych and went over my Phineas Gage crazy theory with me. I run all my fictional medical situations by an experienced ER nurse (who is awesome to help me with that!) to make sure everything is as it should be. 

So, because I was able to put myself into fictional zombie situations and learn what works and what doesn't, I've put together a list of the top ten things I've learned from writing the Contagium Series.

Top Ten Things I Learned from The Contagium Trilogy:

1.) “Preparation is the key to survival”. Have an emergency food stash, weapons, and ammo at the ready. The worst thing to happen during a ZA is to not be ready. Running through your plan will up your chances of making it out alive.

2.) Avoid big cities. Large human population = large zombie population. It's best to have a 'meeting place' of sorts already picked out. Get out of the city!

3.) Be resourceful. Hotwiring cars, picking locks, and making Molotov cocktails in the basement with Grandpa might have gotten you arrested before the zombies, but those skills just might just save your life now. Learn how to adapt what you know.

4.) Wear appropriate clothing at all times. You don’t want to get stuck in the ZA wearing a sexy nurse costume and high heels. 

5.) Include a hot doctor in your group of survivors. God knows you’ll need medical attention at one point or another. It is the ZA after all. (It won't hurt if he has a sexy accent either!) 

6.) Finding a group of good looking soldiers won't hurt either. Having others who know how to handle a gun increases your chances of survival.

7.) Safety in numbers…says zombies (they are quite fond of traveling in herds). When it comes to fast getaways, the more is not always the merrier, so know who in your group can slow you down. Be prepared to leave them or save them…repeatedly. 

8.) Know how to live off the land. Face it: all the supplies you've gathered are going to run out at some point. Knowing how to raise livestock, the ins and outs of farming, and how to identify edible wild plants will be the difference between life and death.

9.) Invest in high quality bow and arrows. Not only is killing zombies next to silent with the quiet whisper of a bow slicing through skulls, but you can get your ammo back. (Just remember to clean off the brain matter).

10.) And finally, under NO circumstances should you seek shelter from a tornado in a parking garage! Those places were creepy before the outbreak. Trust me when I say tornadoes zombies, and blindingly dark parking garages DO NOT mix!

Is there anything you want to add to the list? Let me know in a comment! :) 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Contagium updates

It's been a while since I've written a real post. A lot has happened in that time, a lot of stuff that's not too exciting as well as some pretty exciting news. First of all, I want to thank everyone who participated in the Reaper cover reveal blog tour. I had meant to compile a list of bloggers, but I've been sick for two weeks now and have fallen behind on pretty much everything. I have asthma, so when I get a cold it turns into a respiratory tract infection and then bronchitis (and sometimes pneumonia) pretty easily. Yes, I know how much this will suck in the ZA. I'm considering growing penicillin in my basement for this very reason. Preparation is the key to survival, remember? I have a bad habit of ignoring feeling sick and hoping it will go away. Makes no sense when you remember I'm in nursing school. I know the pathophysiology of bronchitis. I know I'm susceptible to it. Yet I ignore it and then end up really sick. Which is where I'm at now. I'll live and learn someday...I hope!

Speaking of school, I have a little over a month left until graduation! Yay! I cannot wait to be done but I'm nervous at the same time. Graduation means taking boards (which I'm really not too worried about...I've done well in school; boards shouldn't be any worse) and getting a job as a nurse. I'm really looking forward to working and being able to take care of patients. Once I don't have studying and homework, it should free up a lot of my time for writing. I have so many outlines and new stories that I want to write!

My current project is the third book in the Contagium Trilogy, and the point of this post. I've talked about this before, so I'll just recap really quickly. I made outlines for the three books in the series before I started writing. I knew what I wanted to happen, and I knew what I wanted to write to get to those things. I never intended on the books being as long as they are. I had planned on introducing Hayden's character around page 75 and it ended up being way past that. The characters literally took over and told me their stories. The first book goes beyond what I had imagined, but it was all in a good way. They characters had more depth, more to them that makes them relate-able, realistic, and gives you a better change to connect with them. I enjoyed writing the gross zombie scenes and got a little more descriptive than I wanted to as well, which added to the length.

The whole point of DC in outline form was to show that there are worse things than zombies left in the world. The ending of the book (spoiler alert!!!) where the guys find the prison is about halfway through DC's outline. Again, the characters had more to their stories and wanted to be heard. Though DC didn't get everything I had intended, I still think it's a good, solid read. I was worried about it, to be honest, and didn't want it to seem like a 'filler' book. I had many beta readers and got good feedback and since publishing, it seems to be doing well, though I'm still open to feedback about it.

I'm currently working on the third book, which was supposed to be the last book. This book was supposed to cover the second half of the out line for DC as well as everything I had for the final book. The ending is pretty epic and cannot be summed up quickly. If I were to put half of DC's outline with book number three, it would be really long. I don't have a problem with long books at all (I actually prefer them) so I'm really not worried about having the final book be 'too long'.

However, I say 'supposed to' in the above paragraph because I'm seriously considering making The Contagium Trilogy into a 4 book series. Obviously it wouldn't be a trilogy anymore. There was part of DC's outline that I was going to throw out/shorten to get a better flow of the third and final book. I really like that little section of plot and can develop it so much further. It adds a bit of a twist to the plot and shifts the main characters' attention to a different kind of problem. I really wanted to show that horrible events bring out the best and worst of people as well as show that desperation can make people do some terrible, unthinkable things.

Another thing I should mention is that I never thought I'd enjoy writing anything not paranormal. I had no idea I'd absolutely love the characters in The Contagium Trilogy as much as I'd do. I didn't anticipate totally loving writing about zombie fight scenes and the hardships of survival. But I do. I dream about zombies all the time, and they are always good dreams to me. I've become a bit of an obsessive 'prepper' and second guess wearing heels when I go out. (What if zombies attack?? Heels=bad getaway) Being able to write as Orissa and making myself learn new survival skills for the sake of my characters has been an unbelievable blast.Once this series is done I want to write another zombie series. (Or keep writing about Riss and Hayden...)

So, my plan would be to keep writing and sticking to the outlines, expanding on my above mentioned plot a little more (I have so many ideas for this!) and end the book when it feels right, which will probably be close to the end of DC's original outline. Then book number four will be the final book. I know I'm being vague, but that's because I don't want to give anything away. When you read the 3rd book, you will definitely understand what I'm trying to say...or at least I hope you will!

I cannot make up my mind. Three or four books? There is something nice and neat about trilogies, so I am a little hesitant to write four. But, I have so many ideas for where this could go. What do you guys think? Keep it as a trilogy? Or the more the merrier? I'd love to hear your input!