“This series just keeps getting better and better.

I really wasn’t expecting to have so many explanations and twists in this, the second book of the series, but I was WAY off. I enjoyed this book much more than the first and the first was great.

It picks up exactly where Bk1 ends. I KNEW there was something up with……wait a minute……I hate seeing spoilers, let alone giving them. ūüėõ

A zombie book with this story idea is way WAY overdue. If you enjoy zombie stories with anther twisted story going on, CHECK THIS SERIES OUTTT!!!

But seriously, you really have to read Book 1–Zombie World Order–first. It’s worth it.

Can’t beat the price… :D”¬†¬† P. Gross

Above is the first review of Dead To Rights: Zombie World Order Part Two.¬† True to his stated intention in his review of Part One, this individual purchased Part Two and read it. His review will stand out as the first feedback I ever got on Part Two. Plus it’s a customer review of both books, really.

A bit of bad news on the Zombie World Order front-I did not advance to the Quarterfinals of Amazon’s 2012 Breakout Novel Competition.

Here is how the competition was organized-Round One was based on a “pitch”. I advanced here-here is my pitch:

“Total strangers are thrown together into apocalyptic mayhem to test a bizarre form of psychotherapy. Everything they have is to be burned away in the hope they will be left with the will to survive.

Suicidal and ravaged patients from a rehab are forced to participate in a reality show gone wild, ostensibly meant to document their recovery, in reality meant to publicize their horrifying deaths. 

In an Orwellian acid trip, shadow government controlled hordes of Zombies are systematically unleashed upon the East Coast of America by the would-be destroyers of The American Constitution.  

Only one person understands the true nature of this evil-Marie, the persecuted daughter of one of the conspirators. Using only her wits, courage, and her sawed-off shotgun, Marie must lead the tattered remnants of America in the fight against a Zombie World Order.”

My excerpt was the basis of the Second Round (Quarterfinal Round). I essentially cut/pasted the first chapter of Zombie World Order, called “Marie”. Use the “Click To Look Inside” Button to read it. I’m cutting and pasting my two reviews which eliminated me, then I will share some reflections on the entire process.


Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Reviews

ABNA Expert Reviewer

What is the strongest aspect of this excerpt?

The strongest part of these chapters is the presence of the Devil, aka The Creep. Who doesn’t like to read about Satan and his minions? ¬†
Marie’s early experiences with The Creep reveal early emotional and probably physical abuse. Marie comes across as a savvy, strong, brave woman.¬†
The hook of the mystery to be solved and the scarring of Marie’s face push the book forward.

What aspect needs the most work?

The writer needs to reconfigure the opening chapters to avoid so much back story. Hints of prior abuse, hints of prior friendships gone bad, scenes that are provoked by something in the present–any of these would be preferable to long paragraphs of background.¬†
The writer needs to work on VERBS so that the “has been” and “have been” passiveness evaporates from the chapters. There are also some other problems of punctuation (dash = two hyphens –). ¬†
Finally, Marie also needs a last name and a clear age at present.

What is your overall opinion of this excerpt?

This book holds definite possibilities for future publishing. It’s not quite there yet. The comments in “needs improvement” give an indication of how the author needs to take on a rewrite, perhaps using a book editor or book doctor to get the feeling for how and where to cut.¬†
The premise itself, the pitch, the protagonist and the antagonist are all clear and exciting.


ABNA Expert Reviewer

What is the strongest aspect of this excerpt?

There’s a good measure of suspense about the events of the pivotal night and what lies ahead.

What aspect needs the most work?

This excerpt reflects the beginner’s mistake of telling, not showing. Too much is simply explained, rather than shown through actions, dialogue. etc. In fact, the lack of dialogue (I saw just one brief quote)is another problem. It distances the reader from the actions and the characters.

What is your overall opinion of this excerpt?

It’s hard to tell much from the excerpt, in conjunction with the synopsis, but this reads like a first draft. There may be promise, with extensive revisions, but there isn’t enough material to go on. The author might benefit from a fiction writing class (and I’m not being facetious–it could give him/her some perspective and tools to improve this).”

My comments on my reviews:
1. The reviewers face a daunting task. They have to use a 3000-5000 word excerpt to judge an entire novel. My excerpt was barely 3000 words.¬† Still, I could use an editor (“book doctor”).¬† I actually found someone last week that might give it a try, so obviously, I agree with that point.
2.” Finally, Marie also needs a last name and a clear age at present.”
Is this necessary? Marie is going to rehab, an anonymous place. Also, using only first names avoided pre-characterization and reliance on stereotypes.¬† The age comment is valid, but over the course of the books Marie’s age is revealed to be about 27.
3.¬† The beginning of the book is a flashback to the horrible night she was assaulted by her father’s girlfriend in a parking lot. Her reflections on this are what comprise her thoughts on the way from prison to rehab. It introduces motivation. The rest of the book is non-stop action, pretty much. Again, the problem of just reading the excerpt.
I try to write the sort of books I would like to read myself. I have thought of writing a play, since this would eliminate the need for any back story at all. However, dialogue by itself is often tedious to read. Is it possible television has trained us to rely on dialogue too much?
However, I respect the criticism from both reviewers on this count.  The second reviewer obviously did not care for my excerpt.  The first review was more positive.
¬†The “show don’t¬†tell thing“. A while back (last May), I¬†sent Part One to a guy who published a Zombie magazine, and he said he wanted a fast paced Zombie book with a lot of snappy patter (my interpretation of his remarks.) A bit crushed, I googled him and read some of his stuff online. It was funny and fast-moving, but shallow, and rather poorly edited for the online work of someone who edited a magazine. My point is, his writing was not my cup of tea.
¬†All in all, it was a positive experience. I tried something. I still wish the whole submission could have been judged by a publishing professional, but what’s the reality? I wrote my pitch in about fifteen minutes, cut/pasted my first chapter of Part One with one minor correction of a typo, and then cobbled Part One together with Part Two just to make the length requirement. Entire time investment for the submission, including registration? About a half hour. As I wrote here a while back, it was a whim.
 People work on their entry for months, workshopping and tailoring them. A lot of these people have taken oodles of creative writing courses, even have degrees in them. I am very much a one man band here. My brother helped me out with some classic Zombie book covers, but other than that, I have been alone on this thing. Frankly, considering this, I actually got some play on this project, at least from the first reviewer. As I mentioned, I started looking into getting some real help last week. If  that works out, I might enter a much improved version of the book next time, or even try another publishing route.
This is not to say I took no care with my submission. I did, but this was in editing the books over and over by myself. The strength of my books lies in the plot. The plot drives the story. As for the criticism, I presaged it when I sought an editor. This is not novel advice, many writers use editors. It is difficult to be objective about one’s own work.
Of the three reviews, the most important is the one who paid money to read my book. Thanks again, P. Gross. Thanks to both ABNA¬†reviewers as well, especially the first one since¬†they took the trouble to “show” what was wrong instead of just¬†“telling” me it was wrong.¬† This was a long blog, but I know some people will find it interesting, namely anybody entering this contest in the future.
Alternatively, I wrote a sucky book which cannot be fixed. This is a possibility which must be faced. However, this might be true even if I had advanced. The whole deal is pretty subjective. One lesson I have gleaned is I have to get the purely mechanical problems the book has fixed to have it taken seriously. It’s subjective, but there are some pretty objective standards you can hold literature to, and if those standards had been met in my excerpt, the reviewers would have had¬†less to complain about.