Review: Benjamin by Michael J. Evans

I just finished reading a short story by Michael J. Evans called Benjamin. Benjamin is a very fun short story that will have you guessing throughout the entire story. Michael J. Evans has spun an excellent tale that had me reminiscing on my own childhood memories of trying to sneak in a late-night television show or quick Nintendo game when I should have been in the bed. I’m sure everyone can probably relate to Benjamin’s desire to catch a late movie, against his parent’s wishes. Evans does a fantastic job creating the creepy atmosphere that Benjamin finds himself in, through very detailed descriptions. The characters are very believable, and as I mentioned earlier, very relatable. The story moves at a nice, steady pace and doesn’t rush you to the unexpected ending.

I highly recommend this tale of childhood fears to anyone, as well as something to drink before sitting down to read it. I started to get very thirsty about a quarter of the way through it and couldn’t pull myself away from the story because I just had to know what was going to happen next! A great story by Michael J. Evans! Looking forward to more!

Click on the cover above to go straight to Amazon and grab Benjamin.

Moving Day

Well, I’ve moved. Not houses, I moved my blog here to WordPress. I have reposted some of my older posts from my old Blogspot site here. So if you start reading some of the other posts and think you’ve read it before, then it’s possible you have already. I hope to be updating with some good news soon! As always, I hope to hear from you! Take care!

Everything Is A Process… Again

Hey guys! I’ve got some great news about Dead Are Alive. Eric S. Brown, author of Bigfoot War, and MANY more great books and short stories, will be writing the introduction for Dead Are Alive! Eric is one of my favorite authors and a true inspiration to my own writing. If you haven’t read any of Eric’s stuff, or you’d like to read more from him, come check out his blog at  http://ericsbrown.wordpress.comHe’s got all of his available titles listed there and you can find all of them on your favorite book retailer, Amazon, B&N, or whichever site you prefer. I really can’t tell you enough about how awesome his stories truly are!

 

I’ve been working on a couple of short stories to submit over the past few months. One story called “The Mothman Isn’t Real” is ready to go. Then there’s the other story, which is still untitled. I’ve got the general story down, next it’s onto putting the “meat and bones” on it. I’ve got more stuff lined up to start on after that’s done, right now it’s a matter of which deadline comes first. I’m hoping to get started on my second novel soon. I’ve got a few novel ideas, and I’m trying to decide what to work on first.

So things are getting pretty busy, and I love it! I don’t think I could ever complain about being busy with writing. When you’re doing something you love, then it’s not really work, now is it? Right now, writing still feels like something I’m doing as a hobby. It really is, seeing as how I’m still working a full time job and writing when I get a spare moment. But in some ways, I think that break in between really helps me think things over. When I’m at work, or driving I can’t exactly write lol. But, I can think about it! I go over plot lines, character ideas, and story ideas in my mind. If something strikes my fancy and I really like the idea, I’ll make a quick note of it and jot it on a piece of paper or make a note on my phone. I also like to write the date on the paper too, because it’s pretty awesome to go back to see when you got that idea, and sometimes it gives me a look at what might have inspired that particular thought at that moment.

The time in between getting the idea and sitting down to type it out gives me the time to expand on those ideas. So when I sit down to write the story, I’m ready to go with all of the notes and ideas I’ve gathered and it just flows out very naturally. Of course, nothing is going to be perfect the moment I sit down to type it out, but I do have a much better direction to where I’m going with a story. When I first started trying to write seriously, I was very unorganized, and constantly suffered from the awful writer’s block. I didn’t have a system down that worked for me. As time went by I started to develop a habit of jotting my ideas on paper and then later on, putting all of those pieces together. I really think that’s what took me so long to finish Dead Are Alive. I started writing it back in 2007 (I know this because I wrote the dates! 😉 ) And as I sat down at the computer, I was “unarmed” and didn’t really have a good sense of direction to where the story was going to go. I was bombarding myself with all of these questions that were VERY important to the story. Things like, “What caused the zombie outbreak?”, “Why is the main character here and how does he get involved with the outbreak?”, and “How is this thing gonna end?” I started to realize that for me, I really needed to have a roadmap to guide me along as I filled in the details. Many other writers have very different ways that they write their stories. This is just what works for me, and everybody has their own ways that works best for them. And that’s really what it’s all about, finding what works best for you!

As I began working on The Hungriest Zombie, I started out with a simple question, “What about people without teeth?” You always see stories and watch movies about the normal zombie, eating the flesh of the living. Well, it’s a known fact that there are people with no teeth, nothing wrong with that, it’s a normal part of life. But in a world where zombies have overran an entire country, probably the world, there’s gonna be some of those people without teeth that are gonna be turned. And how would they be able to do the same things you see these other zombies doing? And that was my whole thought on the story. So I had my basic idea and started to write down all of the details on paper. Soon I found myself with my very first COMPLETE story. I started using the same techniques I learned while writing The Hungriest Zombie on Dead Are Alive.

This has been working pretty good for me as I have been getting more and more stories finished. Before I could only get them started and that was it. Every writer has their own process that works best for them. The trick is to actually fine out what works best for you. Experiment with different techniques and don’t be afraid to try anything, the worst that could happen is that you find out it doesn’t work for you, and that ain’t bad! You’ll learn from that and move on to the next. Soon you’ll have your own process, and you’ll sit and wonder, “How in the world can they get anything done like that?” A good example of that for me is the writer’s that listen to music as they write. I absolutely LOVE music! I have one of the widest ranges of taste in music that I know; I pretty much listen to anything. But I absolutely CANNOT write anything at all with music playing. I get too distracted and find myself just sitting around listening to music instead of writing. Having a television on doesn’t bother me though… go figure. lol

I actually meant to talk about my writing process on a more technical level, but I went off rambling. lol Stop by again soon and I’ll go over that on my next blog! As always, drop by on My Facebook Author Page or Twitter and say hello. I love to hear from you guys! Until next time, take care!

An Assignment From Long Ago…. Again

Hope everyone had a great Easter! I had a really great time spending the whole weekend with my wife and both of our families. It’s been a while since my last post. Things have been moving at a very slow pace lately. I’ve been working on some stories, polishing up my novel, and receiving a rejection letter or two. I’ve been trying to decide what direction I should go with my writing, either keep pursuing a traditional publisher, or make everything available through eBooks on my own. I’ve decided that for now, I’m gonna keep trying to go through traditional publishers. So I’ve resubmitted my novel and I’m working on a few short stories for some anthologies.

I’ve been seeing a lot of stuff while watching TV and standing in line at the grocery store on magazine covers about some big royal wedding coming up. Not heard much about it really… (Actually, that’s all that’s been on lately and keeps interrupting my channel surfing. lol) Well I was flipping through the channels last night and came across a show talking about Princess Diana’s death, and the effect it had on her two sons. This made me remember about a poem I wrote soon after her death. I was 13 at the time, and my 8th grade teacher made an assignment for us to write a poem about Princess Diana. After I got home, I went to my room to start my homework. Well, it was probably many hours after I got home, I’m not gonna lie, I have always been a major procrastinator. Well, after hours of toiling over this one assignment I had to do that night, this is what came out of that:

The People’s Princess
Sitting happily in a room,
Not knowing of the waiting doom.
The princess was shining bright,
Not knowing it’s her final night.
As she gets into her car,
The paparazzi isn’t far.
Now begins the chase,
It’s tragic, but still you must race.
As they round the curve,
Their car starts to swerve.
When you hit the end of your sweet life,
The whole world’s heart felt stabbed with a knife.
Excuse me your majesty,
Your death has been quite the tragedy.
It hasn’t been the same since,
Princess Diana, the people’s princess.
The next day we had to read our poems out loud in class. I will always remember the moment after I finished reading it. There was a second where nobody said or made any sound at all, and I was like, “Crap, they’re about to laugh.” Then one-by-one everyone started clapping. It was like one of those moments you see on The Wonder Years or something lol. Love that show by the way. Well my teacher liked it so much, he sent it to our local newspaper and they published it in the “Poet’s Corner” section. It’s something I will always remember and will always be proud of. Just seeing that on TV last night reminded me about it, and made me want to share this with anyone who reads this. I had to get my mom to dig the newspaper clipping out of a box for me, so a big thank you goes out to her for doing that for me and always keeping little things like that from when I was little. It’s really fun to go back through stuff like that and remember things I probably would have forgot if mom and dad didn’t hold on to them.

Well, that’s all I have for now. I’d like to hear from you guys! What’s something from your past or childhood that brings back some good memories? As always, take care and keep in touch!

Waiting… Again.

This is another post from my old blog that I wanted to share here.

I used to think I was a patient person; that was until I started writing. Waiting to hear back from a publisher has been about the worst part of writing for me. Most people would think the dreaded rejection emails are the worst, but not in my case. I’d much rather have an answer about my story being published or not. I don’t mind being told that my story wasn’t good enough to be included in an anthology, because it gives me a reason to go back a few days later and look over what needs to be fixed. I fix them and turn the story into something that becomes better. I strongly believe that any type of criticism is good. Fixing those mistakes is what molds a story into something special, something that should be shared with people. Writing is a process, and sometimes that process just takes a little longer than one hopes for.

The reason I believe I hate the waiting part of writing is because you get so pumped up and excited about finishing your story. You proofread it 547 times (maybe not so many, but it feels like it), revel in the satisfaction of completing something you’ve worked so hard on, and then you just want lots and lots of people to read your masterpiece. Well it usually takes a few weeks to hear anything back from a publisher, and that may not seem very long, but just thinking about if it’s gonna get accepted or not during that entire time is just awful! Writers just want their stories to be read, and be read by LOTS of people. So waiting to know if it will only be read by the publisher or by anyone who buys the book just stinks!

Right now at the time of writing this blog, I have one short story and a novel that’s out there under the microscope of publishers at this very moment. I have spent years writing bits and pieces of the novel until I finally finished it a few weeks ago. It’s called “Dead Are Alive: A Western Zombie Novel”. I’m very proud of it and really hope the publisher accepts it. If you’re familiar with videogames then you maybe thinking “Red Dead Redemption: The Undead Nightmare RIP-OFF!” And believe me; I was very discouraged when it came out. I have been writing little notes and bits on this thing since 2007. I just kept getting sidetracked and stopped writing for long periods. After I heard I was gonna be included in First Time Dead 2 it gave me a whole new drive to finish it. I haven’t played the Red Dead expansion, or the main game, but I have researched the storyline some just to make sure they weren’t anything alike. From what I have read, the only thing the two have in common is zombies. I just got discouraged in thinking people may think I was trying to copy the game. My short story is called “King” it’s about an old man living on his own with his faithful pal, his dog King. They encounter the Appalachian crypto-creature, The Wampus Cat.

Now enough bellyaching! I thought I would share some of these very encouraging reviews about my short story “The Hungriest Zombie” from the anthology First Time Dead 2 that I have read during this horrible time of waiting. First are some reviews from Amazon…

– Jason Thacker takes a more comic approach to the zombie tale with “The Hungriest Zombie” as he tells his tale from the zombie’s point of view. This is the first zombie story I’ve come across where, between the chuckles, I actually felt sorry for the zombie. – M.J. Evans

-I may be weird — no strike that — I am weird but I found “The Hungriest Zombie” by Jason Thacker to be an amusing and heart warming tale. The author managed to make me feel sympathy for a zombie. The “scary” scenes appear to be deliberately written to pull a laugh from the reader. I read this one twice. – Stuart D. Cooper

– The Hungriest Zombie by Jason Thacker – The way it read like a nature documentary was really clever, and once again, good dark humour. – Chantal Boudreau

– “The Hungriest Zombie” by Jason Thacker reminds us all of the horrors of gingivitis. – John Lemut (This was one of my favorites. Gingivitis really isn’t a laughing matter!… lol)

And now a review done by AnythingHorror.com (You should go check this site out; some really awesome reviews on movies and books among many other things over there!)- “The Hungriest Zombie” by Jason Thacker, had me laughing out loud and almost feeling sorry for the titular zombie. This story follows Ed, a 70-something year old who was turned. But poor old Ed has a problem though: He has the voracious hunger of the dead but doesn’t have any teeth!! All he can do is gum his victims or get some other zombies’ sloppy seconds. There’s not a lot of zombie stories that come from the creature’s point of view, but Thacker does a really great job here. He has us laughing and almost feeling sorry for old Ed, but he never lets us forget that Ed’s a zombie and horribly kills people … or tries. But good old Ed stumbles upon a solution that works in his favor, even if only temporarily. It’s a great story.

And lastly, here’s what Joe McKinney, author of Dead City, Quarantined, and many more great novels and short stories had to say about my story… (SPOILER ALERT!!!! A little about the ending is discussed toward the end of Joe’s comments.) – Your story was a standout. I think what really appeals to me about your story is the way you’ve given Ed a real personality, largely through implication. A narrative strategy like that is not easy to pull off, but you did a great job of it. And I still love the cruel twist at the end of this story. You don’t want to root for Ed, but you do anyway, and when he gets put down at the end, it becomes highly reminiscent of that old Twilight Zone episode starring Burgess Meredith, the one where he’s an avid reader who survives the apocalypse only to break his glasses so he can’t read. Your story carried the same emotional punch in the gut as that one, but with the added irony that we loath ourselves for rooting for him.

I would like to thank all of these reviewers and my family and friends who have read The Hungriest Zombie for their very kind words about my story; it’s really encouraging to me to know my words are making such a connection with people. I love knowing this little story I made up is making people laugh and feel this emotional connection with a toothless zombie. So hopefully I can do this more often with more stories… and soon! I guess we all will be waiting together. Keep in touch! My links are up on the right of this page, come tell me what you think, I would really love to hear from you! Oh, and one more thing, I’ve been getting a lot of comments about the picture at the top of my page, I have a lot more of my photography over at my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=41316&id=164498536903678&l=6506b6164b Come “Like” my page and let me know what you think. Tell your friends to check out my page’s and story too!

Until next time, take care!

My First Blog… Again.

Here is my first blog from my old site. Just wanted to share it.

So, my first blog ever! The purpose of this blog is to share with everyone my experiences writing, and what better place to start than the beginning.

I have always wanted to do something that involved using my imagination. As a kid, I was always using my parent’s video camera to make these little movies. I would get friends to make short little movies that I would write scripts for, or we would just wing it. It was always fun for me and it got me thinking that someday I wanted to be a director.

I’ve always been into comic books since I could remember. Everything about them fascinated me! The beautiful artwork, and the amazing stories told in each of them would always leave me wanting more. I have to say, Spider-Man has always been my favorite. Some of my favorite issues of Spider-Man have always been the ones with Todd McFarlane as the artist. He has always had a really great style in any of his work, be it in Spider-Man, Spawn, or anything. So for a while I wanted to be a comic book artist. I would create these characters and draw them in my own comic books, where I would also serve as the writer. Soon this became a joint effort between me and my best friend; we would make characters and write out these elaborate story lines about each of them. For us, this was the most fun two 14 year-old boys could have! Later on in life, I still had a desire to do something with this imagination of mine. I was married (still am) to the most wonderful woman I could have ever asked for, and working at a good job. I never really thought much about writing until my wife really introduced me to the classic horror movies. The ones like Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, Leatherface, and above all… Michael Myers. Michael has always been a favorite in our house, and the first Halloween was actually the first movie my parents saw together, so it had to be fate. LOL. My wife has always been more of a fan of the older horror movies, but don’t get me wrong, she still loves some of the newer stuff, but the classics have always been her favorite. It’s kinda funny too, here was this beautiful girl, always wearing her Aeropostale, American Eagle matching outfits, with the pretty matching bow in her hair; yet when it came movie night she was always ready to watch some gory, violent, horror movie. But I wouldn’t have her any other way; she is truly my best friend! Well watching these with her, and growing a fondness in my own heart for them, I really got into horror books. I began finding myself wanting to write stories like the ones I saw on screen and in the books. I wanted to make people feel that cringing feeling when the bad guy was near, make them laugh at some ironic situation the character was in, and maybe even get them to shed a tear when something happens to a character they have grown fond of that I created.

I had the desire to write. But what was stopping me from jumping in? I finally asked myself that question, and the only answer I could think of was me. There was nothing stopping me from doing something that I have loved to do since I was a kid. I had the undying support from my wonderful wife and the courage not to worry if I was to fail or not. So with this great epiphany I started to write.

My first completed short story was “The Hungriest Zombie”. After researching online for somewhere to send this hatchling story of mine, I submitted it to an anthology. This was my first time of actually trying to be published, and I really didn’t have high hopes of being accepted. Well, about a month later I got the dreaded rejection email. I understood that my writing was probably very rough; I emailed the editor back to ask what I could do to improve my writing. I didn’t expect to get the response that I got back. The senior editor from 23 House (that was the publisher of the anthology) Mitchel Whitington gave me some of the best advice I have ever gotten in my life! He worked with me through numerous emails on my story and writing mechanics. He also asked one of the editors of the anthology to give some of his own advice. It was Joe McKinney… my mouth dropped when I saw who was sending me advice on my writing, Joe McKinney! I loved Joe’s novels and short stories, and I couldn’t believe I was getting those wonderful words of encouragement from him.

Armed with Joe’s advice and the constant guidance from Mitchel, I pressed on with my writing. I can never thank Mitchel enough for what he has done for me, I will forever be grateful for his wisdom and advice.

And here I am today. A proud published author! My story “The Hungriest Zombie” is included in the great anthology “First Time Dead 2” from May December Publications. I am continuing to write on something everyday, so I have many projects lined up for the future. So stay tuned throughout my epic journey, and read my ups and downs in this business of writing. Take care!