Sunday, March 31, 2013

Contagium Celebration Giveaway!

This year has so far proven to be a great year. I passed my state boards, got my first job as a nurse, signed the Contagium Series with a great publisher and I will be having our first baby in July! :) I definitely think this calls for a little celebration, and what better way to spread the cheer with a zombie-filled giveaway?

I am still waiting for a few of the prizes to come in the mail, and once they do I will update with a picture. 

This contest will have two winners of 'zombie survival kits' filled with:
  • Signed print book (Contagious or Deathly Contagious)
  • Signed custom book mark
  • Signed mini poster
  • Contagium key chains
  • Hayden's dog tags
I also want to say a quick thank you to the fans who nominated the series for Horror Fan's Asylum's first ever Author of the Year contest. The contest runs April 1-16th and is open to fan votes. If you think the books deserve to win, click here and cast your vote! My 'author day' is April 5th and I will be posting quotes and teasers from book 3 and giving away book marks all day!! 

Again, thank you everyone. Have fun and good luck! 


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Saturday, March 30, 2013

Exciting zombie news

For the last few months, I have been asked many time for news on Contagious Chaos's release date. And my answers have been very vague. For that, I am sorry. But now I can finally say why  I have been so vague. 

The reason is because the Contagium Series has been picked up by a publisher! :) The process of inquiry (someone from the publishing house contacted me on this one, asking if I would be interested in signing with them, so I did not have to go through query letters. Yes, I feel very lucky!), writing up a contract, and then reviewing the contract took a lot longer than I thought it would. Part of that was totally on me; it was hard for me to make the decision to sign or not sign. I've thoroughly enjoyed self publishing and have had great luck with my books published that way. To make a long story short, I am very happy with my decision to sign.

Now, to get back to Contagious Chaos...(I will try to be as straight forward as possible to keep this a short post.) 

The books are now in the hands of a publisher, which means that I no longer have control over the release dates.

Once I find out when the 3rd book is being released, I will of course let everyone know! I am only about 20,000 words away from finishing Contagious Chaos (I've been calling it CC for short) and will keep you guys updated on my progress with that as well. (I do know that books one and two are getting makeovers, and that will happen before book three's release.)

I also do not control the cover art. I know I had been asking my FB fans what they would like to see on the covers, and I think that I will have a little say, but I cannot be as strict and nit-picky as I am with my self published books. 

However, rest assured that the books will be very well edited from now on. And there is a chance that you can walk into your local bookstore and see this series on the shelf! Overall, being traditionally published opens up more ways for readers to get the books, ways that I couldn't provide myself. 

Now, to say a HUGE thank you to everyone who bought/read/reviewed/shared the Contagium books, I have put together a big zombie giveaway with two prize packages. I am still waiting for some of the swag to come in the mail. Once everything arrives, I will post pics and contest deets! If anyone has any neat ideas for zombie swag, post a comment! I want to make this giveaway epic!!!

And really, I do not think I can convey my gratitude. I am absolutely blown away by the following the books have generated and your support means so much to me. Thank you!!!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Well, that's just TOO convenient

I am a HUGE fan of the show The Walking Dead. It's one of those 'if you don't like it, we can't be friends' sort of deals. I honestly do not get how people can NOT like that show. Yes, there are some less exciting parts and it's not perfect by any means (what really is, though?) but I still think it's great and I look forward to it every week. What I do find interesting is the reasons why people don't like the show. I was talking to someone who said they couldn't get past the first season because the main characters were 'too conveniently planned'.

What??

They went on to say that with Rick and Shane being cops with experience and weapons was too 'convenient' for the group. Having Daryl come from a hill billy back ground and know how to hunt and survive in the wild 'just wouldn't happen in real life'. Plus, the fact that Lori, Rick, Carl, and Shane all knew each other was 'totally unrealistic'. 

I thought this was an interesting take and I could see the 'oh, they only did that for the show' point of view she was looking through. And it wasn't the first time I had heard someone use the 'too convenient' complaint about a main character. Though, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that these 'convenient' people become main characters for a reason.

I would love to say that I would survive the zombie apocalypse. I mean, I created Orissa after all, right?? She's somewhere inside my head, so I should know how to survive...right? Nope, not at all. I am by no means a 'convenient' person (even with all the research I did for the Contagium Series), as are most of the people who are fans of TWD. It's nice to imagine the average American citizen rising up against all odds, forming a group, becoming badass, and living through the ZA. It's a great Underdog saves the world story; very inspiring and offers hope to us all.

But realistically, that isn't going to happen. Just your average Joe isn't going to know what he needs to survive. Again, I feel that we all THINK we could survive. But drop me off in the middle of the woods and surround me with zombies...yeah, I don't think it would end well. I know the concepts of hunting and I've skinned a few things in my anatomy classes (we even had human cadavers!) but I wouldn't feel confident with having people depend on me to hunt for food. And finding clean water is even harder. By clean, I don't mean clean from zombie infection, either. This was something a few people couldn't figure out in the Contagium books. Orissa wants clean water but she never makes a reference to it being zombie clean. She was worried about bacteria, and I would be too. If you don't believe me, go drink from a random puddle or pond. You'll be lucky if you don't get sick!

So after you get food and water, you need to find shelter. If half the world is dead, you can just go into a random house, right? Easy enough. But securing that shelter would be another thing to worry about. How many of us 'average' people can actually create a house that is safe enough to ward off zombies AND humans? I think my biggest fear during a ZA would be of other humans. A disaster like that would turn people ruthless.

Once again, in theory, I would say I could easily board up my windows and doors and make my house as safe as a castle. (I should say that once my sister and I tried to build a bird house for mother's day. It came in a kit and had marks for where to put the nails. Needless to say, things didn't go as planned. Somehow we cracked the wood and nailed two parts upside down...)

And that's not to mention knowing how to properly store and can food (watch out for botulism!), stock up on medical supplies, live through hot summers, cold winters, and other bad weather, plus all the stuff I'm not even thinking of.

Anyway, my point is that these 'convenient' characters are the ones who have the know-how to make it in a zombie filled world. So instead of seeing them as 'too convenient', see them as necessary. Without their skills, they wouldn't have made it as far as they did. They took what they had learned and shaped it into something useful in the ZA.

I think that it's those 'convenient' skills that make a character deserving to be a main character. You don't want to watch some boring guy who chances it for a few weeks or survives by hiding out in a tree house until he runs out of food. For me at least, that would be boring. I can only speak for myself when I say that I like watching characters persevere against the odds and find new and creative ways to keep going.

Now, that's not to say that the entire group of survivors needs to be made up of these kinds of people. Typically, you're not gonna come across someone who has all the skills needed (think military medic who used to be a Boy Scout, worked in construction, and can fix up damaged machinery) either. That is why Rick, Daryl, and Hershel are key to their group. Each has a different skill that is valuable. (Same with Padraic, Orissa, and Hayden. Padraic is a doctor, Orissa had extensive survivalist training, and Hayden had many years military experience. Together they make a group that I would hope to be included in!).

And though said person didn't get the viewing pleasure of meeting Michonne (possibly my new favorite character), who better to survive the ZA?? A sword wielding, super tough, badass chick or just the girl next door? I hope you see my point.

But remember, Glen, Maggie, Carol, and even Andrea started out as run of the mill people. With a little training and a lot of determination, they turned into zombie killing badasses too.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Morning Sickness Relief

I know this post isn't what I typically write about, but in the off chance I can help another mama to be, I wanted to share my tips.From weeks 6 and on, I had about a hour a day when I didn't feel like puking my guts out. The rest of the day was spent forcing myself to eat and devolution a strong sense of will power to keep from barfing in public. As much as I love being pregnant, and I am so incredibly grateful for my baby, (YES the nasty symptoms are SO worth it!!) feeling nauseous all day is not fun.

My doctor gave me Zofran, which is the strongest anti-emetic that they will prescribe, and it did not help at all. Feeling hopeless, I spent a great deal of times looking up tips and home remedies to help myself feel better, and not too many of them helped. Through trial and error, I was able to figure out what helped me. If you feel all hope is lost for you, try one of these and see if it helps!

1.) Take a nap. I felt the worst after I ate anything. It was so disappointing and annoying to choke down nutritious food for the baby only to throw it up. I found that eating (small meals) and then laying down prevented that. I never took naps before I was pregnant, but now I'm so tired they are really helpful. Being tired increases morning sickness, so rest, rest rest! (This will be hard if you have other children or work a job that doesn't allow you to sit and slowly eat, so take advantage of it while you can.)

2.) Protein. For some reason, eating foods high in protein helped combat the sickness. Hard boiled eggs, slices of cheese, and peanut butter on apples or celery made up a large portion of my diet during the first trimester. I am extremely cautious of listeria so if I was able to stomach something more substantial, I would boil or bake the meat,even if it was prepackaged as precooked or came from a fast food place (Summer sausages, hot dogs, hamburgers, tacos, and lunch meats can contain that bacteria. Cooking it at a temp above 165 F will kill all the bacteria. You can microwave it too, but I don't trust that to be 100% effective in killing listeria. When it comes to a bacteria that can kill you baby, don't take the risk. Bake or boil!)

3.) Fresh fruits and veggies with little to no dipping sauces. I don't know how many cherry tomatoes or blueberries I ate! I had an apple or a banana every single day as well. Fruits and veggies can also carry listeria, so I washed mine with soap. We only use Seventh Generation brand cleaning supplies, which is natural and non-toxic. As long as you rinse the soap off, you cannot taste a difference. (And you'll feel better knowing the nasty bacteria is gone!)

4.) Drink water before getting out of bed. It took me a while to realize that part of why I felt so awful in the morning was due to going 8-9 hours without drinking anything other than the sip of water I took when I got up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. I found that keeping a bottle or glass of water next to my bed and drinking the entire thing before getting up helped me not only feel so sick, but dizzy and weak as well. My blood pressure dropped quite a bit during the first tri (due to dilated blood vessels) and staying hydrated helped with that as well.

5.) Don't let your stomach get empty. It's really hard to eat once you've gotten to this point! This also took me until about 9 weeks to really figure out. It is so hard to eat when I felt sick, and even harder after throwing up. But when I got to the point of being starving, the nausea was so much worse. I try to eat constantly throughout the day, and when I can't handle food, I sip 100% juice.

6.) Take PNV at night. I used to take my vitamins in the morning but there was something about them (maybe the high iron?) that didn't sit right in my stomach from about 7 weeks and up. I take them right before I go to bed, and I'm usually asleep before it upsets my stomach.

7.) Take a fiber supplement. Being constipated is another normal pregnancy symptom. Being constipated and  nauseous makes for one uncomfortable mama.

8.) Salty foods helped calm my stomach for some reason. I put salt on almost everything I ate. Be careful with this one, though, especially if you have heart problems of high blood pressure.

9.) Vegetable soup was another thing I was able to eat without throwing up. I don't know why. I could tolerate the smell and the taste. Not even bland Ramen stayed down. The Campbell's 'to go' veggie soup was a lifesaver some days.

10.) Snuggle with your husband, children, or dog. Vader was a very good 'doctor dog' while I was sick. he took naps with me almost every day and patiently laid by my side when I was curled up on the bathroom flood. My husband was great with rubbing my back to try and distract me or make me more comfortable. It won't make the sickness go away, but it certainly won't hurt!

11.) Accept help if it is offered. This goes back into being tired increasing nausea. My parents and my in-laws were wonderful. My mother in law brought me dinner many times. I'm not the kind of person who likes accepting help (I feel bad for 'making' someone do something for me) but it was really helpful to not have to worry about making dinner for myself or for my husband. There were times when I was too sick or too tired to take care of my ferrets and horses; it was beyond nice to have my dad, mom, and sister take over for the day!

The only 'normal' MS tip that helped me was drinking ginger ale. I would stick a straw in the can and sip it throughout the day. I tried nibbling on crackers all day but the dryness of them made me feel even more sick after a while, but it did help for a while (like an hour or so-and I preferred oyster crackers over saltines for some reason lol) Another great tip is if you are worried, call your doctor!!

I hope this helped! I know it's hard by try and relax and have a healthy pregnancy! :)