Enjoy a free book this weekend (2017 Dec 16-17)! Have a Merry Christmas, Happy Holiday, or whatever floats your boat.
I wanted to give a thanks to my supporters for the month of September in the U.K. I really appreciate your interest in my work and I will forever endeavor to write tales that will entertain you. Please spread the word!
I previously posted that I’d pushed the old “submit” button to send all my words saved as binary 1’s and 0’s to travel through the magical ethereal plane to the Amazon servers to then (hopefully) be summoned by kindles aplenty. If you have Kindle Unlimited you can borrow it for free (well..you pay a monthly subscription for it so it’s not exactly free) or if you have the $2.99 to spare, it is but a click or two away.
I hope my readers patiently (perhaps impatiently) waiting for this second installment enjoy the read. And please know that I am working on further stories to add to the series. Thanks and tell your friends!
A Review: The Apocalypse (The Undead World Series Book 1) Kindle Edition
Author: Peter Meredith
My Rating: 3 ½ cups of coffee out of 5
This summer I’ve taken advantage of the Amazon Kindle Unlimited 30-day free trial (this is not a paid advertisement by the way). I downloaded 10 books, which is the at-a-time maximum allowed for the program, and went to town reading, reading, and yep…reading just a bit more! Currently there’s something like 800,000 books available on Kindle Unlimited (mine being one of them by the way—just sayin’!) and with so many good reads, deep and developed series, and strong indie authors to choose from it was difficult to really know where to begin.
Now just where did I choose to begin my summer read-fest you ask? I chose the end of course.
What I meant by that is I chose a book from one of my favorite genres which is the apocalypse. I know, that sounds a little dark but, as my supervisors have said to me over the years in their most inspiring moving-and-shaking dynamic leadershipping “it is what it is.” How inspiring is that, right!? One day soon I hope to shift from sci-fi to the dystopian apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic genre, or perhaps even combine them, but that is a wind that has not yet carried to me.
A series I started this summer is The Apocalypse (The Undead World Series Book 1). As I noted earlier it is available through Kindle Unlimited but if you want to straight purchase the work feel free to do so. Being an Indie work it is priced accordingly and lacks the publishers bloated price. The Apocalypse (Book 1) is pretty much your standard end of the world by means of an evil zombie virus tale which pulls people from near and far together as they journey to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta (ala The Walking Dead and many, many others of the same genre).
Okay, so I made it through the first book. Good for me, right? Was it the greatest book I’ve ever read? No. Not by a long shot (my favorite books by the way are The Forever War by Joe Haldeman and Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein by the way). But I found it extremely interesting. Was it interesting enough to get me to open up Book 2? Yes. Yes it was.
I feel the author does a pretty good job with his characters and the troubles they find themselves in. The character can be considered lightly clichéd BUT not in a manner that is confounding or make the story boring. There is the strong male that is lost, the strong male that has concerns about his capabilities, the wild child, the depressed young woman, the evil woman…etc. They all have their own idiosyncrasies which the author does well to focus on to keep each character discernible from the rest which is a strong departure from what would probably be reality (but thankfully stories like these are a departure from reality) but this is how all these band-together-in-the-apocalypse survival stories are today.
What I love most about these stories is that I want to yell at the characters and the things they do because I believe I could do better. Could I? Maybe. But it’s fun yelling at the screen in a movie theatre when people are walking down the spooky staircase into the dark basement, right? Well at least in your head it is. If you’re that person yelling at the screen ruining the movie experience for everyone else then you need to know right not that you suck. You suck big time.
So the characters were okay and strong enough to get me investing and continue turning the pages, at least initially, but what about the story itself, is it worthy of your time? Yeah, I believe so especially if you take advantage of it on Kindle Unlimited. There are chases, zombies are killed, people are killed, scavenging (which is what happening after society falls and it is no longer called “looting”), there is discovery, and there is loss. Pretty much what you expect to see. Being an indie work there are also some typos (I’m guilty of this myself) but there is also some pretty sharp story telling. I recommend it at least through the first book and into the first quarter of book 2 which is where I am thus far.
(WHAT FOLLOWS IS NOT EXACTLY A SPOILER BUT…IF YOU ARE FAMILIAR WITH THE GENRE THEN YOU’RE COOL TO READ ON)
Something I’d like to see though is an end of the world zombie scenario that doesn’t rely on the CDC for the cure (which we know they won’t have for bureaucratic or McGuffin-device type reasons) and I would like to see a military that doesn’t turn against its own people as warlords rise. I know those are two staples of the genre but something different would be nice to see in other similar works. I have great hope for this series that as I continue to read it does not take me the standards such as nice settlement found then destroyed, the apocalypse family goes into diaspora, searching for each other, just missing each other, coming together, being harder after some shocking loss, and then moving on to find the cure to save the world all by themselves.
We’ll see where it goes from here. I know I’m gonna read on.
P.S. Sorry for the long time between posts. I, like no one else in the world of course, have been rather busy of late. Much of my time during my two laid-off teacher summer months is spent exploring other projects, taking private contract work, walking the dogs, working out, and…writing. BUT there’s a lot of time for fun to fill the time idled gaps. So, for much of this free time, I find myself catching up on all the games, movies, and books I miss out on while working a 12-hour day as a teacher (for those of you who think teachers have it easy…you have no idea and if I could go back in time…that’s a diatribe for another time!).
J.W. Kurtz (writer)…what I’m reading, what I’m watching, what I’m playing, & what I’m writing:
In an attempt to keep my ever busy mind occupied I quench its thirst with a bevy of media entertainments. Recently I watched Whiplash and wow! Wow! Wow! I haven’t watched such an intense film in I don’t know how long. It was absolutely fantastic. I don’t much care for the Academy Awards (Oscars) because they rarely if ever get it right. Well, J.K. Simmons winning for Best Supporting Actor was certainly warranted. I’ve always been a Simmons fan and it’s great to see that not only did he get casted in a role absolutely perfect for him to display his range but that he also received the accolades for his work. “Well done” all way around I must say. There is one thing that indie films and books tend to get right when compared to the massive corporate blockbuster world of media entertainment and that is story and heart. Indie’s time and time again get it right in a more consistent manner than the big fish. If you haven’t seen Whiplash you owe it to yourself to do so. Be prepared…it is rather intense and there is more than a little swearing so if you’re offended by such a thing you’ve been warned. Enjoy!
Currently I’m working my way through viewing The Last Ship. I’m more than half-way through the first season and I must say…it is not very good but I can’t bring myself to stop. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s the absolute absurdity of the whole thing. I feel like I am rubber necking while watching this fiasco. I need to stop but I just can’t! And no, it is not a guilty pleasure. It’s more like masochism.
What got me to watch The Last Ship in the first place? Well, I attempted to read the book once when I was about 14. I made it about 50-pages in and quit. I put it back on the shelf and moved on. Then about 6-7 years later I tried again. I loved the idea of it all but it was just very, very hard to get into. Then I tried about 5-years after that believing that my stronger background in naval history and end-of-the-world scenarios (I studied such fun things in college!) would better prepare me for one more attempt. Nope. Still couldn’t go past page 100 or so. Now here I am having a rough outline of the story (it is very different from the book) delivered to on the TV and I just sit there shaking my head wondering how it became a series. I’m shaking my head even as I write this. Obviously the creators of the series never attempted to read the book the show is based on for if they had they would have gone on to instead make a zombie vampire reality show or something. Oh and there’s a season 2!!! Crazy!
What am I playing??? Yeah I’m a gamer. A gamer that goes back to the Commodore 64 and Atari. Following those up I gamed on the first Nintendo NES and then I moved into the PC world of gaming. I’ve built…many, many systems over the years. Too many to count. I love games of all genres but especially strategy games. FPS and RPG games are fun but to me they don’t compare to the thrill I get from a classic double pincer move on a battlefield. Good times. The other day I found a deal on Steam for a game I’ve heard about for a while but I just haven’t had the time to check it out. The game is called FTL: Faster Than Light. It was on one of Steam’s super discount sales. I think I paid like $2.50 for it. How could you miss for the cost of less than a cup of coffee, right? Well, it was a bullseye. I played that thing for half the night. I’m looking forward to playing it later today when I get all my chores and projects done for the day. It’s my reward. Check it out. If you like strategy and supporting indie works you will not be disappointed!
Now what am I writing? I’m happy to have a great deal of time to work on my writing projects this summer. I hope to have the sequel to my first book, The Bellerophon: Ambush, completed by the end of the season. What has kept me so behind on this project? Well, I wrote about 80-90k words in a side project and then shelved it because work was interfering with my process and a whole bunch of other things were
going on. I don’t see it entirely as wasted time because it will be out at some point but I am really focusing now on Bellerophon Book 2 (just my working title). I do want to thank, again, all the people that have read and taken the time to review Book 1. There is nothing more thrilling to me than to see my book has been downloaded and that it was enjoyed enough to earn a review. Even the critical reviews are appreciated because they push me to do better. Thanks everyone!
Yes…it’s been awhile since I’ve posted. Sorry! Been busy with work and all that fun stuff that fills my days with responsibility and whatnot. Over the last two weeks I did manage to watch Longmire Season 3 and Vikings Season 3 so stay tuned to reviews on those shows. Vikings Season 3 is haunting me. I’m still trying to put it together in my mind. Also, I’m about a third of the way through my current writing project (Book 2 of The Captive Galaxy series) and making good progress that I would be much more thrilled about if I had an extra day or two per week to work on it but when I get home my brain is absolutely fried and watching Longmire, Vikings, or the Mariners lose is pretty much all I can stand. School is out in less than 3-weeks so I hope to get the rest done, edited, and up on Amazon by the end of the summer. I’ve learned a lot this year, between starting and pausing projects and juggling work with much needed downtime, so I hope next year will be much more productive in regards to my writing.
I did come across this and found it quite interesting:
“Teachers’ hefty salaries are driving up taxes, and they only work nine or ten months a year! It’s time we put things in perspective and pay them for what they do — babysit!
We can get that for less than minimum wage.
That’s right. Let’s give them $3.00 an hour and only the hours they worked; not any of that silly planning time, or any time they spend before or after school. That would be $19.50 a day (7:45 to 3:00 PM with 45 min. off for lunch and planning — that equals 6-1/2 hours).
So each parent should pay $19.50 a day for these teachers to baby-sit their children. Now how many students do they teach in a day…maybe 30? So that’s $19.50 x 30 = $585 a day.
However, remember they only work 180 days a year!!! I am not going to pay them for any vacations.
That’s $585 X 180= $105,300 per year. (Hold on! My calculator needs new batteries).
What about those special education teachers and the ones with Master’s degrees? Well, we could pay them minimum wage ($7.75), and just to be fair, round it off to $8.00 an hour. That would be $8 X 6-1/2 hours X 30 children X 180 days = $280,800 per year.
Wait a minute — there’s something wrong here! There sure is!
The average teacher’s salary (nationwide) is $50,000.
$50,000/180 days = $277.77 per day / 30 students = $9.25 / 6.5 hours = $1.42 per hour per student — a very inexpensive baby-sitter and they even EDUCATE your kids!)
WHAT A DEAL!!!!”
Update: NOT talking about Russia, the continued slow death of the Constitution, or UC Irvin. Nope all about Sci-Fi!
An update for those that enjoy my updates. And for those that don’t…well whatever then. This update is about my writing and has nothing to do with the Russian assassination of a critic of dictator Putin or the attack on the US Constitution by those sworn to uphold it nor will I go into detail about my thoughts on the UC Irvin banning of the American Flag (at least until these future leaders of the “free world” realized they’d lose their funding and loans if they followed through with it). I must share that there’s a reason why I write science fiction and I study the past…it’s because the “now” kinda sucks. We are far, far from the Greatest Generation it shames me to say. Oh well I suppose the Earth Abides (my second favorite book of all time – check it out!).
My writing projects have been slowed by work. I wish I could devote more time to them but in teaching 4 of 6 classes that are outside my specialty (or any type of training) I find I’m pretty busy during waking hours. Trust though that I am still working on the sequel to The Bellerophon: Ambush. The first 3 chapters are done and the majority of the book has a very detailed chapter by chapter draft/plan in place. Just need time to do it all! And I’m also busily putting together other outlines as well. I’m good for the next 10 years of writing I think, now if I could spend any of those 10 years actually writing I’d be good to go I think! Don’t worry. I’ll have the sequel done going into the summer. I can tell those of you who have followed my writing that this next book will be far more entertaining than the first. Promise!
P.S. Reviews/rating are welcome!
J.W. Kurtz update.
I’ve been writing and editing like mad. Recently I pulled my book from Amazon for a short hiatus as I do some heavy re-editing. I hope to have the 2nd edition out by then end of January. I’m about 80% done with this renovation project. I can promise you this…IT WILL BE MUCH BETTER than the 1st edition plus it will have a snippet of my 2nd book. I’ll update, tweet, post like crazy when edition 2 is done. I miss checking the Amazon Authors page daily!
My second book, Sigma Draconis, and just where exactly am I on that? I’m nearly at 80K-words. I would say I’m well over halfway through the first draft. Maybe a little more. Maybe a little less. I hope to have it out by the middle of the spring. I wish writing was my fulltime job but it isn’t…for now. The sequel to my first book will be started in earnest the day after I finish Sigma D.
In the meantime I hope to post some more movie/show reviews soon.
Thanks for reading. Thanks for checking-in.
Okay…so I get up this Black Friday morning thinking that I may browse some of the deals online before I get to work on my daily writing goal. Maybe while “window” shopping I’ll come across an interesting writing prompt to get me warmed up. I come across the new Star Wars trailer so of course I watch it a time-or-ten.
My reaction? ( Note: it is vitally important to remember that my personal reaction weighs oh so heavily on the Internet and its ultimate well-being).
My reaction is “huh…” So it appears JJ Abrams is doing what I expected him to. He’s turned Star Wars into a grittier world much like another movie franchise…now what was that one called again? Oh, yeah, Star Trek! Now just throw in a couple of redshirts (color the white stormtroopers red maybe), warp drive, phasers, and teleporters now because they would not be entirely out of place after seeing and hearing the trailer. Even the voiceover guy, talking about the “awakening force” and whatnot, sounds very much like it could have been recorded for a Star Trek movie trailer.
We did get to see the Millennium Falcon so that was pretty cool. What was completely missing was any other recognizable character – unless of course you consider tie fighters, storm troopers, and x-wings characters, which I suppose they kinda are. Where is Luke, Leia, Han, all the hyped up returning folks? Where is the wookiee roar! For goodness sake? Where are the stars of Star Wars!? Where are the stars for that matter? Everything takes place over sand dunes, a dark forest (I have to admit the bad guys red light saber looks cool – it has to be difficult to imagine a usable bad guy sword for every new Star Wars movie I suppose), and there are even x-wings screaming over what appears to be a lake. Nothing in space. Nothing.
So after viewing the trailer I am neither turned on or turned off (okay…maybe there was a little hair standing up on my arms when the Falcon zipped by – been missing her for more than 30-years!) for the upcoming mega-blockbuster-cashcow-in-waiting. I left more scratching my head trying to swallow the pill that this is Star Trek with the force and guys sweating like crazy under their stormtrooper armor. Just not entirely thrilled with the initial feel (love it for Star Trek but it has been done!) and not super excited about the look at all. Even the stormtrooper blasters look wrong. And what the heck is with the beach ball droid??!! I hope that droid isn’t a major player because I have a feeling he could be a mechanical Jar-Jar or something.
Yes, Disney, I’ll pay to watch it…I’ll pay for the Blu-ray to follow most likely. But I’m not going to say right now that it looks like I’m going to like it.
Just be prepared for the inevitable Star Trek crossover in the future everyone. Seriously.
Author Updates: SEE BELOW
This is a notice for any of those dog lovers out there that read my posts to please be aware that this one may be kinda sad. I’ve been off my daily writing goal for some time. The reason is that one of my dogs, a 5-year old golden retriever named Sasha, has been battling an autoimmune disorder since Labor Day. A couple trips to emergency vet hospitals, a couple weeks of hospital stays, and weekly blood testing and therapies have not solved the issue. Her last prognosis (received yesterday when I picked her up from the specialist ER in Seattle) was “Guarded to Poor.” Fingers crossed and trying to stay positive is all that is left. She has a chance but it will take weeks to months for her to recover if at all. Thank goodness I had the foresight to get pet insurance for her because all I can say is her name should be spelled $a$ha as the dollar signs are completely appropriate. In truth there should maybe be another dollar sign in her name. Please know that I am still finding time to get some writing done be it in the morning before work, after work as soon as I get home, on the weekends as much as I can between chores that have to get done, and even while in the shower…I won’t go into the details on that one. Thanks for the continued support through the downloads and fantastic reviews that are both thoughtful and constructive. It helps tremendously. And thanks in advance for the positive thoughts for Sasha. She’s just a fantastic girl. My wife and I love her very, very much.
UPDATE: It is with a heavy heart that I share the passing of my little girl, Sasha. She put up a valiant fight but the deck was stacked against her. The night of the 15th and into the morning of the 16th of November there was a battle fought and lost. She was brave and as strong as she could be but on the morning of the 16th it was time. We said our goodbye, held her paw, and watched her drift off. The tears are heavy and will continue to be so for some time. I miss my girl oh so very much. Thanks for the thoughts and prayers. We were lucky to have her in our life. We only wish that it could be for just but one more day.
Update: Sigma Draconis
Still working hard on this project. Or trying to. The illness of Sasha has kept me from this project and I am okay with this. Very okay because she is so very much worth it.
I’m 54k-words in and I feel it’s coming along. Wish I had an extra day a week to get this done sooner for everyone. I took a personal day last week to write and another one the week before that. Gonna run out of personal and sick days if I’m not careful but I FAR ENJOY WRITING much more than what I do during my regular work day. FAR, FAR MORE! A note on SD: if you’re looking for a blow-it-up-explosion-a-second ride…this is just a little different book than my first work for Kindle. This has a more thorough explanation of the colonial system, corporate future of space, and characterization of the various actors. Yes there is action. Yes there is ancient alien stuff. Yes there is adult language. And yes it will be longer than The Bellerophon: Ambush. I hope people enjoy it as much as I’m enjoying the writing of it.
Update: Captive Galaxy Novella
Sitting at about 4K words on this. I hope to have this in the 20-40K range and released ASAP. Kinda a wide range I know but I’m letting it go where it needs to go. If it’s 20K words then it’s 20K. I’m not going to needlessly lengthen or shorten it. It knows what it needs to be and I am just the tour guide of the exhibit. This novel is more in line with The Bellerophon: Ambush in regards to being a more fast-paced military science fiction work. Super fun to write it is. It is written in the first person and is more space marine-ish. It’s also warming me up for the direct sequel to TB:A because there will be some first person parts in there regarding a discovered journal. When I put out this Novella it will be released singly and as part of an updated TB:A combined release.
Stay tuned for more updates and more film reviews. While on sick-dog-watch-duty I get to watch a lot of movies and I really enjoy writing those reviews. I’m glad folks liked my last one on Snowpiercer.
Thanks for the support and as always…