Sunday, August 7, 2011

Sample Sunday -- Zombie Showdown

The zombies stopped cold, right at the OK Corral, not 20 paces from the teens. Chris let a wry smile drift across his face as he noticed this. A couple of the zombies turned to look at the open lot, too.
The silence was eerie, and not even the night breeze could be felt. Only when one of the zombies stepped forward did their ears become quite attuned to their surroundings, as the dead man’s foot crunched the dirt underneath.
Chris quickly leveled the double-barreled shotgun at the zombie.
“Not another step, or I’ll blow what’s left of your face clean off!” he yelled.
The zombie gave pause, but then the dead man smiled at him as if he didn’t hear what Chris said.
“They are coming, little man,” it said, and its gravelly voice sent shivers down Rachel and Mackenzie’s spines. The zombie looked at the OK Corral again. “The Three are coming for revenge.”
Chris froze. He lowered the shotgun and just stared at the walking corpse, his eyes widening even though no one could see it.
“What did you say?” he asked. His voice shook.
The zombie laughed.
“Is that a touch of fear I detect, young whippersnapper? Afraid that the ones who were murdered are coming back to right the wrong committed against them? You should be afraid, tyke. You should be very afraid.” Then he laughed again, which preceded the laughter of the zombies behind him.
“Bubby,” Rachel said, a leer in her voice. “What does he mean by that?”
Chris ignored her, instead continuing to look at the zombie, whose laughter escalated. It sounded like Chris’s Halloween nightmares came true, even before he dreamed them.
“Chris?” Nick said. “You are scaring us, let alone the zombies scaring us. Answer your sister.”
Chris kept looking at the zombies; it was if the dead man’s voice petrified him.
“Chris,” Mackenzie said, more forcefully than the others. “Raise that shotgun again and blast them!”
“Chris,” they all said, before shouting “Chris!”
He finally turned, shaken from his reverie, to look at his sister and their friends. He kept the shotgun lowered, the barrel pointed at the ground. He looked pale under that black hat, as if he became a zombie; just seeing her brother like that made Rachel take half a step backward.
“Chris?” she said tentatively.
“I’m not afraid,” he said under his breath, but all three of them heard every syllable. “I’m not afraid of what’s coming.”
He stared at Rachel, and she immediately understood. She looked into his eyes, before she looked at the OK Corral, just like the zombies had done. Her eyes went wide.
“They are coming for revenge,” he said. “They must know we’re here.”
“So what are we going to do about it?” Nick interrupted.
Chris turned to his best friend and flashed a cocky grin his way, before he slipped the safety onto the shotgun.
“What do you think we are going to do about it?” he said. He stuck his thumb over his shoulder. “We’re going to turn these fuckers into dust, like they should have been years ago. Then we deal with what’s coming.”
All three of them gave Chris looks of determination and admiration.
“Ready?” Chris said.
They nodded.
“On the count of three,” he said. He hefted the shotgun up into both hands, his left on the barrel. He grinned. “One.”
“Two,” Rachel said, bringing her hands down to her slung low holsters.
“Two and a half,” Mackenzie said with a light, sing-song smile. They all looked at her. They weren’t smiling.
“What?” she said innocently. “Doesn’t two and a half usually come after two in situations like this?”
Chris, Rachel and Nick finally grinned. Chris gave her a little wink, before he turned to Nick.
Nick took a very deep breath before looking at Rachel and Mackenzie. Seeing they were ready to go, Nick said, “Three.”
Chris spun back to face the zombies and dropped the shotgun, moving his hands inside the trench coat, a blur of flesh as he acted. He had both revolvers in his hands and out of the holsters in a flash.
“Burn them down!” he cried, and as he squeezed both triggers, the sounds of gunfire erupted all around him as Rachel, Nick and Mackenzie all fired their weapons at the zombies.
The zombies in the front had no idea what hit them as the teenagers moved so quickly, catching the undead off-guard. Three went down with bullet holes in their skulls to match the ones in their chests, the wounds that sent them to Boot Hill Cemetery nearly 130 years prior. Three other zombiesone of them McGuirk staggered, as the teens’ shots struck them in the chest or arms, only causing a puff of dust to rise from their soulless bodies.
The kids cocked the hammer again and fired, Chris and Rachel’s guns blazing away, left and then right, right and left. They each took out several zombies, hitting them right in the head, rendering them dead for a second time; Rachel took McGuirk down. The zombies in the back of the bunch began climbing over the dead ones, trying to get at the obnoxious, gun-toting teens.
Chris saw this and held firm, not panicking. His mind, for the first time since a night ago, felt clear of confusion. He kept firing his pistols until they clicked, their chambers exhausted. He twirled the guns and put them back into their holsters before kicking the shotgun back into his hands, lifting it up with his right foot.
The zombies charged at him.
While the other three continued to fire, Chris calmly cocked the hammers of the double-barreled shotgun and flicked the safety back off.
He lined up his shot and waited for the lead zombie, one with four bullet holes in its chest, to get within five paces.
He pulled the trigger.
The zombie’s head blew clear off. The zombie dropped right to the ground. The other charging zombies gave pause as they saw what Chris did to the corpse of Lester Moore.
“Now that was fucking cool!” Nick exclaimed. “That was like popping a really bad zit!”
“You’re a really bad zit,” Chris said, busting his buddy’s chops even during the heat of the battle. “We need to run, and we need to run now!”
“What?! I thought we weren’t running away this time,” Rachel said as she emptied the chamber of her own weapons.
“I’m out of bullets, you’re out of bullets, and Nick and Mackenzie are out of bullets, so it’s time to improvise,” he replied. “We’re going back a few blocks; hopefully we’re quicker than they are.”
As the four of them took off, it took the zombies several seconds to realize what the teenagers were up to. The undead followed them slowly, their hunger for teen flesh sated only temporarily over the past two nights not abated in the least.

Zombie Showdown is available at, Amazon in both trade paperback and Kindle, as well as on Nook.

New name, new blog, new lease on a writing life

I've been meaning to do this for quite some time now. Over the past few months, I've been contemplating a full change in my writing life. If you've been following me since the beginning, you'll know that my first six novels were written under my pseudonym, John Fitch V, and since the start of 2011, I've released five novels -- seriously Sean, five novels in one year? -- under my real name, Sean Sweeney.

For the most part, the books weren't selling well under that name: sure, I sold a few copies here and there, and I tallied 689 books sold in 2010, all under the JFV name. Maybe it was due to the fact I had crap covers, or my writing (then) was crap, or the fact that I self-promoted myself ad naseum, that I didn't sell more. That's a debate for a different time.

But after I created Jaclyn Johnson and switched genres, I felt a change was needed. I wanted Jaclyn to succeed. With the "animosity" I inadvertently stirred up as JFV, I had the feeling Jaclyn wouldn't have found the audience she has now if I stuck with JFV. I had Trish put Sean Sweeney on the cover of Model Agent, and voila. It made sense to stick with the real name on the books once Jaclyn started selling the way she did.

To be honest, I struggled with this decision. Making the change would mean making a lot of other changes: Facebook, Twitter, my blog, my website, everything. There was the possibility of adding "Sean Sweeney writing as John Fitch V" on Royal Switch's cover in order to connect Turning Back The Clock to it, but I just thought that would have caused way too much confusion. In looking back, I think I caused quite a bit of confusion by going back to my real name in the first place. Last week's troubles with LiveJournal accelerated the thought process and brought me to this point.

I had a fun run under the JFV name. I wrote six novels under that name, as I said, as well as a few short stories and a novella. Not bad. JFV was a stage in my life. I originally intended it to be my writing persona for life, but with age and maturity, thoughts and perceptions change. It was a persona that I enjoyed, but I didn't enjoy being called "John" on Facebook or on the phone. Sean is who I am, and who I will continue to be. And while I will still sell the JFV novels as JFV (he lives on in the past!), today marks the beginning of the end of the JFV name. I switched my Twitter account a few months ago, and today I started a new Sean Sweeney, Author fan page on Facebook. You're on the new blog, which means I'll no longer use LiveJournal (I'll keep the page alive for archives, but I won't use it). The JFV Facebook pages will be deactivated soon. I will have a new website by the end of the year, which will effectively end my tenure as JFV. I'm sure there will be some tears when the change goes through, but I'll wipe them away and get writing again.

If you've been with me as John and continue to follow me as Sean, thank you for your support over the years. We've had a lot of fun, and we'll have some more under my real name. For those of you just joining me, thanks for hopping aboard. I promise a ride you're never forget.

I am and always will be,