The $100 best blog entry award (as chosen by a panel of 3) goes to Corinne for her poetic ode to Zombie Candy. I’d be remiss not to mention our very close second place, Kriss at Cabin Goddess for her review and recipe—she was really close to the win. It was a difficult choice!
The random blogger award of $50 goes to Katheryn Lane. Congrats!
The Rafflecopter awards (two $50 gift cards) go to: Silviano Baron and Shadow Kohler. YAY!
The Friday author contest winners are:
For the photo contest—
For the joke contest—
Read an Excerpt from the Book
A light breeze comes up. It feels heavenly on her face. With nightfall, the heat has gone out of the air. The heat must be trapped in these old stone walls — the walls of the farmhouse, the walls surrounding the vineyard. The aroma of fresh herbs floats from a nearby garden, rosemary, and mint, she thinks as she watches people dancing. The bride, her beautiful white dress with the daring silk bodice; the groom’s parents, a man with close-cropped gray hair and a red rose in his lapel, and his wife in a shimmering blue dress that looks specially made by an Italian designer.
She keeps one eye on the young man in the navy suit with the green silk tie. He looks like something Michelangelo might have sculpted, then breathed life into. This young man knows everyone here, and has danced every dance for the last hour. But he’s dancing with both older and younger women, probably cousins, friends, the mothers of cousins and friends. She has no idea who he is.
She feels outclassed in her red silk dress from Bloomingdale’s. She had worn the same dress at a wedding in June in Chicago. No one here has ever seen it. If there are any more weddings this fall, she will just have to go shopping in Siena or even Florence, that’s all there is to it.
“May I have this dance?”
Like a vision, Michelangelo man stands beside her. Has somebody cast a magic spell here? How did he sneak up on her like that? She didn’t even notice the song had ended. Or that another one had started.
“I’m not much of a dancer.”
“We’ll see.” He tugs her hand.
“Really, you don’t have to.” He obviously feels a duty to make sure every woman in the place gets at least one dance.
“Of course I don’t have to. I’ve danced with all the women I was obligated to dance with. Now I want to dance with you.”
She doesn’t need more arm-twisting than this. He leads her to the dance floor. The band is playing a quiet song from the 1940s, she thinks, something familiar. Grape arbors surround the dance floor and fill the air with sweet perfume. He turns and puts one hand around her waist. “My name is Giancarlo,” he says, switching to Italian.
“Candace,” she says. “I’ve been here for three weeks. I can’t believe I’m at this beautiful wedding.”
“Your Italian is marvelous.”
Your lips are marvelous, she thinks. Your curly hair, the color of black coffee, and your handsome chiseled face are marvelous too. But you can’t say such things to a man you’ve never met before. Not in Tuscany. At least not before the end of the first dance. He glides around the floor, leading her with slight shifts in his weight, slight pressure with his hands. Her feet know where to go, just as her mouth knows how to form the words.
“We don’t have weddings like this in Chicago. The food … the music … the grapes.”
“My uncle’s house is nice,” Giancarlo agrees. “But I am sorry for Lucia. She has married a playboy. I do not think they will be happy.”
“They certainly look happy.”
Giancarlo makes a face. “I should not talk about the details. I know him. I’ve known him all my life, and he will never change. I tried to talk to my cousin, but she is in love and blind. What can we do?”
Giancarlo’s smile, Candace realizes, has a hypnotizing effect. Thank God a fast dance is starting, the Bee Gees. He makes no attempt to bring her back to the table, merely releases his hold on her waist.
“You are a beautiful dancer,” he says when the Bee Gees song ends. The band takes a break. Everyone is leaving the dance floor. Her heart sinks. Somehow she has managed to cling to him for two dances, something no woman before her had managed. Now he will bring her back to her table, his duty done. He will go back to his people.
“Thank you for the lovely dances.”
“Come, let’s get some fresh air. I’ll show you around,” Giancarlo says. And the really amazing thing is he doesn’t let go of her hand.
Read an Interview with the Author
There was a famous golfer whose wife chased him out of the house with a golf club in the middle of the night a couple of years ago. It was funny that she attacked her husband with his own weapon of choice. I got to thinking what must be going through a woman’s mind in that situation? I thought it would be interesting to explore the thought processes of a woman who discovers that her husband is a serial cheater. After the denial comes anger, but there is also a phase of grief. There’s guilt. Maybe she blames herself, rightly or wrongly. Candace oscillates between wanting revenge and wanting her husband back, and as the novel winds up she makes discoveries about herself that I thought a woman in her situation would be likely to make.
2. Do you think Zombie Candy will appeal to true zombie fans?
What’s a true zombie fan? I don’t want to give anything away, but any active zombie fan who participates in zombie walks, goes to festivals, etc. will love Zombie Candy. That being said, this is a book that has elements of mystery, horror and romance all in one. It had quite a few early readers, fans of all different genres, and the consensus is that it really works.
3. The book contains some of Candace’s favorite recipes. Why?
I confess, I love to cook, and it’s such an important part of my life, it just felt natural to have Candace want to share her recipes. We are all vulnerable to being attacked through our taste buds. I like reading about cooking, and I love watching cooking shows on TV. I feel like I’m learning something and tasting it at the same time. It felt right for this to be really important for Candace. At the same time, her husband Larry is so incredibly lacking in appreciation of her talents, not just the cooking itself, but organizing complex meals and directing the preparation of them by her class of twelve people. These are amazing skills, and Larry is blind to them. I thought marriages are sometimes like that, where people get to a point where they are totally ignorant of what their partner is great at.
4. There is a no-cilantro label on the back cover of the book. What is the significance of it?
Candace is a gourmet cook, and her cheating husband Larry insists on covering all his food with cilantro. This is one of those minor points of contention in a marriage that flares up and becomes important, like a trigger. I thought it was funny. And it seems a lot of people really do have strong feelings about cilantro, either for or against. When I was searching for a good graphic I came across pages on the internet like ihatecilantro.com and facebook.com/i-hate-cilantro.
5. After starting out in Chicago, why did you decide to set the story in Tuscany?
I’ve been fortunate enough to travel to Italy forty or fifty times in my life, sometimes for a two-week vacation, sometimes just for a very short trip. I absolutely love it there, from the food to the language to the beauty of the countryside and the architecture. In Zombie Candy, Candace realizes at a certain point that she has to get Larry out of his comfort zone. This is a guy who travelled all over the country every week for his work, and cheated on Candace with waitresses, flight attendants, whoever. He can adapt just about anywhere. But in Tuscany Larry discovers two things: 1) it’s not so easy to find a willing waitress or flight attendant to spend the night with him; and 2) there are zombies here.
6. How would you describe the way you work as a writer?
I guess I’m a bit of a chameleon, able to adapt pretty well to circumstances around me. My wife and I have three boys and they are not quiet. I can do most revision with significant background noise and interruptions. Only when I’m writing a first draft or doing some serious planning work do I need peace and quiet. Then I’ll often take a walk in the forest anyway. It helps a lot to be adaptable. If I had to put off writing every time someone asked me to cook dinner or help them with their homework, my book would never have been finished. For me, being able to jump right back in has been the key to being able to finish big projects.
7. Did you always want to be a writer?
I was an early reader and this led to curiosity about writing stories. My sister and I wrote stories during long car trips. In high school and then in college I dreamed of writing novels, but I only started writing short stories after graduating from college. That writing phase lasted about five years, and I learned a lot about writing, but life got in the way, with marriage and job and career and kids. Only when my kids were halfway grown and my career reached a certain level of success did I find a way to return to writing. Now I’m fulfilling a lifelong dream.
8. What process do you go through to define your characters?
I start with an image of them as basically good or basically evil, and put them into a context or a situation, and then just basically make sure there is plenty of conflict. My characters are never perfectly white or black. I think we’re drawn to weaknesses. We want to watch them mess up, and see how they’ll extricate themselves. Of course, sometimes all my planning goes out the window. It’s a cliche to say that characters surprise you with their actions, but they do. They’re defined by what they do and what they say. I did some acting in high school and have always loved the theater, and knowing what it means to be in character helps me be in character when I’m writing dialogue. My books are fairly dialogue-driven. What the characters say reveals what they are thinking and feeling.
9. What writing advice did you receive that was most beneficial to you?
I had to learn to love conflict. The conflict is the story. The conflict shows the true colors of your characters. I grew up in the suburbs in a family where we avoided conflict at all costs. We talked like diplomats. So embracing conflict has been something I had to learn.
10. You’re an indie author. Any thoughts on the divide between independent publishing and traditional publishing?
I think the market will sort itself out, but it’s going to take time. Good books will find their way into readers’ hands somehow, whether in printed or electronic form. We need our stories every day. We can’t live without stories. For me personally, independent publishing has been the perfect solution. I found an excellent editor who professionally edited my manuscript. I like the idea that I can control the timing of the publication of my books. If my first book, Doing Max Vinyl, had been traditionally published in April 2011 instead of the way I did it, it probably would have hit the remainder tables by Thanksgiving, and it would be out of print now. I think Zombie Candy might spark some interest in Doing Max Vinyl, so it’s a benefit to readers as well as to me that it continues to be available, rather than going out of print and being forgotten. E-books are clearly here to stay, because the consumers (readers) and providers (authors) are the big winners. The only losers are the bookstores, publishing companies, agents and others who refuse to adapt.
Read a Guest Post by the Author
What Dad and I saw in Italy by Frederick Lee Brooke
I was on the train yesterday returning from Rome back to Basel, where I live, and I mentioned Monte Chianti to my seatmate. We were on the Red Arrow, the Italian bullet train, which cruises at 180 mph and covers the distance from Rome to Milan in just under three hours. Rossana is a banker who was travelling to Milan on business; in her hand was a paperback mystery in English. That’s how we started talking. She sort of nodded and looked to the heavens and tried out the name: “Monte Chianti, hmmm. Nice.”
I like Italy so much I decided that the action in Zombie Candy, my latest mystery, should move to a fictional town in Tuscany called Monte Chianti in the second half. The action starts in Chicago, and moves to Tuscany.
But this trip wasn’t really research for Zombie Candy; for me, more of a victory lap. Plus Dad wanted to see Rome once in his life, so off we went on the train. On the way to Rome we spent three days in Como, in Northern Italy. We did not see Giorgio (that’s what the locals call George Clooney) but we did see some beautiful lake vistas. In the picture below we are coming down the side of the mountain in a cog railway. Sure hope the brakes hold on this thing!
I learned Italian at a language school. I also married an Italian speaker, but don’t ever try and learn a language from the person you’re married to. You have enough to argue about without her correcting your grammar. My wife’s English is better than my Italian anyway, but she likes it when I make the effort.
While in Rome Dad and I visited the Trevi Fountain. If you throw in a coin, legend has it that you’ll come back to Rome one day. I threw in a pocketful, just to be sure. Then we hit the Colosseum. The ancient brick dividing walls in the floor of the amphitheater kept the animals penned in before they were sent in to the ring to fight. How can this thing still be standing, after two thousand years?
This is what was left of our rental car after … no wait, just kidding! This mess was parked right outside our hotel, not far from the Vatican. The hotel desk clerk told us a moped caught on fire next to the unfortunate Mercedes. I didn’t believe him — do you?
We took an all-day excursion to the island of Capri, off Naples. This involved a long, cramped bus ride and a transfer to a ferryboat, but let me tell you, the views were worth it. Just look at the color of the Mediterranean, from halfway up the mountain.
And here is a picture looking up at the branches of a mature maritime pine tree. I couldn’t resist.
It was a great trip. Dad and I had some nice talks, we did a lot of walking, we ate like kings, and we saw some beautiful places. I hope that Trevi Fountain legend really works, and we’ll go back to Rome again soon.
About the Book; About the Author
Frederick Lee Brooke serves up another literary treat with this bizarre and comical tale of love and betrayal. Candace Roach enlists her best friend Annie Ogden (our favorite sleuth from Doing Max Vinyl) to find out what her husband is up to – but their home-cooked aversion therapy gets out of hand and hurtles along an astonishing highway of the undead.
In the words of Emma Calin, author of Knockout, A Passionate Police Romance: “This book has all the ingredients of a perfect noir comedy – well formed characters, international locations, a fast moving plot with no brakes, and of course zombies. Revenge is a dish best served cold – and as a betrayed wife, master chef and cookery instructor, Candace cooks up the perfect recipe for the ultimate gazpacho.”
Get it on Amazon.
Born and raised in the Chicago area, Frederick Lee Brooke graduated from Amherst College and studied writing at the University of Montana. He has worked as an English teacher, language school manager and small business owner. Having lived in Germany, France and Switzerland, he has also travelled extensively in Tuscany, the setting of part of Zombie Candy. The first book in the Annie Ogden series, Doing Max Vinyl, appeared in 2011 to wide acclaim. Visit Fred on his website, Twitter, Facebook, or GoodReads.
The Social Media Events – This is Where the Prizes are!
Blogaganza on Novel Publicity. We’re kicking-off on the Novel Publicity Free Advice blog. We’ll ask Fred 5 fun and seemingly random questions to get everyone talking. Leave a comment or question in response to the post, and you may win an autographed copy of Zombie Candy. Click here to visit Blogaganza.
Twitterview. A tweet is tiny, only 140 characters, and we all know writers loooove to talk. Come join us for a live interview via Twitter as we ask Fred to sum up his book, writing habits, and personality in teensy tiny tweets. We’ll open to questions from the audience at the end of the interview. One question-asker will win an autographed copy of Zombie Candy! Join us on Twitter at 4 PM EST by searching #emlyn. READ THE TRANSCRIPT HERE.
Google+ Sharing Contest. Here’s an awesome opportunity to win a $50 Amazon gift card, and this time it just takes a single click! Visit Google+ and share Emlyn Chand’s most recent post (you’ll see Zombie Candy’s book cover included with it). On Thursday morning, one lucky sharer will be $50 richer. An autographed copy of Zombie Candy is also up for grabs. GO HERE TO SHARE.
Facebook Sharing Contest. Stop by Novel Publicity’s Facebook page and share their latest post (you’ll see Zombie Candy’s book cover included with it). On Friday morning, one lucky sharer will be $50 richer. An autographed copy of Zombie Candy is also up for grabs. Sharing is caring, people. GO HERE TO SHARE.
Super Big Finale Contest, Part #1: Photo Contest. Candace knows her husband Larry has an unhealthy love of zombies, so she decides to SCARE him into behaving, once and for all. Blood, organs, makeup and wax, clothes — she spares no expense, and by the time they’re ready, she and her friends could walk right onto a movie set. What about you? Put on your scariest zombie getup, and post a photo of yourself on this Facebook page to win big prizes. The cover of Zombie Candy has to be visible in the picture, either in paperback or on your Zombie-Kindle. A brand new Kindle Fire goes to the grand prize winner who has the most original and frightening zombie costume, plus a $50 Amazon gift card to the second place winner, and a $25 gift card to the third place winner. Let’s have some fun, and let’s rumble!
Super Big Finale Contest, Part #2: Joke Contest. Life is not all fun and games at the moment for Candace, who would like to feed her cheating husband to the nearest flesh eater. But the situation is what you’d call black comedy, being that Larry loves nothing more than watching a good zombie flick. Win big prizes for zombie jokes in our Zombie Candy zombie joke contest, like a $50 Amazon gift card for the best single joke, a $25 gift card to the second place winner, and $10 gift cards to five runners-up. If you make us laugh, you’ve got a shot at a prize.
Both these contests will be run through the Novel Publicity blog and Facebook page–make sure to come back and participate! GO HERE FOR MORE INFO & TO ENTER!
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