Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Words to avoid while writing

These are my own personal notes. Writers may find this tool, or that keeping a list of passive or poorly chosen "words to avoid" to be useful for their own work. Here goes nothing...

Avoid the words:
I felt
in an instant
at least
had been
Not - anything NOT needs to be reworded to state what IS
Didn't, Don't, Doesn't... Same as above.

watch for:

avoid incorrect formatting and grammar:
double spaces
use contractions.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Excerpt from the Julie Rayzor Sequel RayzorWire - Enjoy!

Another hour passed. The tension slowly eased, the argument forgotten about for a while. Riding down the highway was boring. We slowed to a walk again and occasionally Horseman moved his horse to the shoulder and following suit, we picked up a canter and made up some time.
Several times he stopped and after saying, “Stay here,” he rode away, disappearing beyond the trees or going several hundred yards into a hay field and stopping for several minutes, looking for something, turning his head one way or the other, sometimes sitting still, perhaps listening to the wind or the earth. Upon his return he said nothing except, “Let’s go,” and he led us again down the highway.
Lopez and I fell back from the others, stopping our horses and letting everyone go by. I pretended that I wanted to show him something and when we were last we walked our horses side-by-side once more. I reached over and took his hand. I looked at him until he caught my gaze, a smile coming to his lips. It was clear that he’d been brooding on his argument with Jim.
“Gary,” I said. He looked at me, his lips taking a crooked worried smile.
I said, “I want to wrap you up and hold you forever.” 
His tension eased as his smile widened. He stared silently at me.
“I want you to feel loved and wanted. I want to call you mine and hold your hand and never let you forget me... And Baby, you will always be wanted by me.”
He leaned over, grabbing tight to the horn of his saddle and I leaned towards him and before our horses could swerve with the shifting balance, we kissed. It was just a quick peck for our horses were wondering what we were doing, turning their heads to look and shifting us both off balance. We swiftly separated and laughed together. Some of the others looked back at us and laughed curiously wondering what we were doing.
“This seems like a good time.”
“Time for what?” My smiling staying on my face.
He dug into a cargo pocket and withdrew a ring-box.
“You aren’t going to propose again?” I laughed.
“No. Better. I consider us this way anyways.”
“What are you talking about?”
He popped open the top of the box and handed it to me. Inside were two rings, one above the other. The rings were a matched set, gold and silver inlaid bands. A stepped and jagged rim, formed with interlocking teeth encircled the bottom of one ring. The second ring was a mirror image of the first, formed so that the two rings could be locked together. Words were engraved on both rings.
“I had them made. A jeweler...”
“What do they say?”
“The engraving?”
“Read it to me.”
I removed both rings, slipping my finger into the bands to keep from dropping them on the asphalt and I slipped the  box into a pocket.
Holding the rings up I read on along the words on one band, “Be thee mine.” On the second ring were the words, “As I am thine.”
“I do,” Lopez said with a smile.
I looked into his eyes and saw the handsome and tender person that often hid deep beneath a soldier’s exterior. I nodded and handed him one of the rings. 
“For us both?” I asked. “Together even if we were separated?”
“Yes.” He took the ring and put it on his smallest finger.
I fit the companion to several of my fingers and found that it fit my thumb best of all. 
“I will wear it for the rest of my life.”
“We have no priest to marry us,” he said.
“We are married in the heart. That’s all that matters.”
“Thank you,” he said, almost sheepishly. 
The others intermittently turned their heads or shifted in their saddles to look back at us. They knew we were up to something as witnessed to the grins on our faces, yet we didn’t speak for a long time. 
As we rode I caught Lopez glancing at me time and again, on his face was an expression of amazement as if he could not believed that I finally accepted him into my life.

Two miles further up the road we spotted Slick’s oil-truck in the distance, stopped in the median. We brought our horses to a halt and watched the truck. Nothing moved but we were  too far away to see any detail, even through binoculars. A thin line of smoke rose up into the air and I wondered if the Scabs had started a campfire. I told Horseman about Slick and how his men stole our gasoline.
“I’ll take my men north over the plains and circle in from that direction. You go south. Once the shooting starts come at a gallop. We’ll get your gasoline back and then some.” He laughed.
Jim and Lopez agreed with the plan and the two men led the way from the road to cross hay fields and putting scrubby brush and low trees between us and the oil truck. 
We rode at a trot on the grass for the sound of hooves was lighter and would not give us away. Forming a line we slowed to a walk as we approached the truck. I readied my shotgun. The others drew their weapons also and we prepared to fight. The truck was blocked by a line of trees along the highway, but the smoke still curling upwards told us exactly where to go. We closed to within a hundred yards and I listened for noise. All was silent. 
Suddenly someone yelled and then more yelling. I kicked Red into a canter and the others followed, but as I approached, my shotgun lowered, left hand on the pump and the reins, right hand on the stock, finger on the trigger, a man afoot, dismounted from his horse, walked out from the trees. He waved and yelled again. I almost shot him dead and trampled his body under hoof before I recognized Ramsey’s dirty blonde hair and crooked smile. 
Reining in Red and raising the muzzle on my gun, Ramsey stepped quickly to the side as I came to a stop. He was swift on his feet and he smiled Horseman’s grin, the family resemblance showing.
I turned to holler but his easy manner told me that everything was okay. I smiled back but I didn’t know why. There were supposed to be enemies here.
“They’re all dead,” he said, still smiling like an idiot.
I turned towards the road and passed through the trees. The oil truck was parked and leaking gasoline on the ground. Smoke billowed from beneath its hood, but worst of all were the bodies of Slick’s men lying on the ground. They might have been sleeping if not for the twisted angles of arms and legs and the sight of growing pools of blood leaking from bashed skulls and hewn open torsos. This was not a zombie attack with injuries formed by claws. The men were killed by prehistoric and primitive weapons. Arrows poked from one man. The broken off head of a bloody sledge hammer lay beside another. The haft was dropped a dozen feet away. Two more men were cut open as if by swords. 
I circled the truck, looking at the damage. Horseman and his men rode slowly around, looking at the carnage - no one speaking. Of the twelve of us only Ramsey was smiling his stupid grin.
On the side of the road a horse lay prone on the ground, raising its head to look at us. I steered Red towards the animal but she wouldn’t go. With blood everywhere and I was certain that the smell frightened her. Patting her neck and dismounting, I said, “Easy. Good girl. Peace. Love.”
She listened but when I tried to lead her to the injured horse again she would not go. Rather than fighting her, I handed the reins to Horseman.
“Don’t go over there,” he warned.
“Why not?” I turned and walked towards the horse, heedless of his words.
The horse on the ground raised its head once more, ears pinned back, it looked angry. I wondered if it was just scared, as the bullets holes in its side wept blood, blackening its heavy winter. He was dying. 
I walked around to its head. Its eyes were cast in grey, as if it was almost blind. I looked at its forehead for the sunken holes that come with age and found none. It’s tongue hung loose and I glanced its teeth. They were not pointed outwards like an old horse but the top and bottom teeth came straight down. She, for it was a mare, was young. Probably seven or ten years old.
I leaned into patted the horse on the head while I loosened by revolver in its holster. I was going to have to shoot him. It was the only thing left to show mercy to the magnificent animal. I didn’t want to do it. I’d never killed a horse before and I didn’t want to start, but he was in pain and he was going to die. There was nothing we could do.
“Get away from it,” Horseman ordered, not being quiet or polite with his second warning. 
I touched the horse’s brow and brushed his mane, rubbing his ears. Some horses don’t like their ears touched and this one shook his head, lunged from the prone position and tried to bite me. His feet flung sideways across the ground as if is effort to trample me. 
The sudden movement startled me and I jumped back a step, knowing that he was trying to kill me. His eyes, grey with near blindness were suddenly clear, as if focusing intense anger upon me. A sound like a freight train emanated from its throat - growling, not in frustration or fright, but rage.
I stepped back further and looked from him to Horseman. The man stared at me. The others gathered around watching. It was like a strange movie; woman versus crazy horse. 
The horse rolled onto its belly and struggled to rise, looking at me and gnashing the air with bloody teeth. It was then I realized that the horse was zombie. Somehow, some way, the Zomb mutated the virus to infect horses, just as they had done to the dogs from before.
I raised my revolver and drawing an imaginary ‘x’ from ear to eye across its forehead, I aimed and fired. The zombie horse dropped like a thousand pound bag of meat.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Do NOT use Discover Card

I haven't been posting in a while. I've been busy writing and working hard at my new software job, but I thought I would mention something that should of been obvious...

Do not use Discover Card.

A little background: I am slowly paying down a massive amount of debt from my first marriage. I've paid off over $20,000 in the last five years and I even transferred balances, borrow money from friends, and got a part-time job to pay down this debt. I'm one of those people who works hard and pays their own way.

Years ago I had six credit cards run up and I was paying everything I could towards paying them off. Being out of work last year put a nine month crimp in my payment plans - making only minimum payments until I found a job and getting ahead of the curve. I'm succeeding. My credit score is almost 800 and in three months I'll be debt free (just in time to replace my 15 year old truck and have that new payment and hopefully start saving for retirement.)

So last month, over three weeks ago I accidentally overpaid my Discover card by over a thousand dollars. The card balance was paid off but they have over a thousand dollars of my money that they absolutely refuse to give back to me.

They said they would send a check and that it takes 5 to 7 days. 7 days later, no check. I called them and they said they would send another check or send an electronic transfer of the funds. I gave them all the information to do the transfer and they said it would be there in three days. Three days later no funds. I call them again, they again lie to me and say, "In three days." Three more days later, still no check. I called the executive office today and their response was... wait for it... "three days." I tell them this is completely unacceptable. The woman promises to send me a check for $50. I don't want a check for $50. I want my thousand dollars. I call back to executive resolutions and they refuse to let me talk to a supervisor or the COO or the CEO. Of course they won't let me do that, they will get fired for what I would say to the CEO.

Yes, I made a mistake. I accidentally overpaid them but for them to keep the money is just plain evil. I firmly believe that they are intentionally refusing to give me my credit balance back because they want to keep the money.

Do NOT use Discover card.

Update: After a couple months I realized that they send me junk mail no less than once or twice a week. They refused to send me my money back. I had to fight and deal with their stress. They jerked me around for three weeks, but when it comes to worthless junk-mail they make sure it arrives like clockwork. Unbelievable.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Julie Rayzor Zombies on Barnes and Nobel Nook

My Julie Rayzor zombie novel is now available on Nook for 99 cents! This full length zombie book is less than a buck!


Friday, October 12, 2012

Midwest Book Review featured the Julie Rayzor zombie novel!

I'm thrilled!  On top of the great Amazon review yesterday, The Midwest Book Review just sent me a letter state that The october 2012 edition of their magazine Children's Bookwatch features "Julie Rayzor" zombie novel.

The review states: "When times are tough, everyone must fight in their own way. 'Julie Rayzor: Romance, Adventure, Zombies' is a thriller of a dangerous future world where Julie Rayzor, a seventeen year old trying to survive in thise conflict, embarks on a rescue mission that falls apart and leaves her in more danger than ever. A riveting tale of adventure with plenty of coming of age elements, 'Julie Rayzor' is a fine pick for teenaged readers and above, recommended."

Thank you to James A. Cox Editor in chief and Diane C. Donovan, Editor and the rest of The Midwest Book Review for this amazing feature! http://www.midwestbookreview.com/cbw/oct_12.htm

Thursday, October 11, 2012

New five star review for Julie Rayzor zombie adventure.

A new spin on the zombie taleOctober 11, 2012
This review is from: Julie Rayzor ~ Romance, Adventure, Zombies (Julie Rayzor Zombie Novel) (Kindle Edition)
I received this book from the author...

To be honest, this book took me by surprise. It takes place in the Tulsa area (and surrounding areas). Its a whole new take on Zombies. Julie was a Scab, but managed to survive on her own, with only her best friend, Jill, by her side. They made it to a military set up known as "Fort Tulsa" and were tested and taken care of. Little did she know, that the Zombs were doing things no one ever thought possible. They were almost...civilized! But how? Then, when the worst possible thing that could happen, actually happens, Julie has to test her own will and inner strength, and the man she loves, to get through it all. Absolutely LOVED this book!

From amazon www.tinyurl.com/JulieRayzor

Monday, October 8, 2012

Tulsa State Fair and Darkon Horror convention

We had a great time at the Tulsa State Fair. I sold about 60 books and it was pretty slow during a lot of the time. Our booth was in a back corner where few people visited. We will be at the Darkon Horror/SCI movie and book convention at the Tulsa Airport Radisson Hotel Nov 3rd and 4th 2012. If you missed us at the fair and would like an autographed vampire/zombie/paranormal book please come by and visit!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Author Bio

Richard Howes, the author of Julie Rayzor (tinyurl.com/JulieRayzor) and The Killer's Co-op (tinyurl.com/TheKillersCoop) is a 30 year computer programmer, 20 year electronic engineer, a wild horse trainer, artist, father, husband and writer...
He was born into the family of a Cape Cod Yankee dad and an Irish mom. Went to college in Boston and spent 14 years exploring the Nevada mountains and desert from horseback, he won a world championship buckle in the sport of Cowboy Mounted Shooting plus he programmed slot machines and worked as an engineering manager saving companies over $20 million dollars in sales during a three year stint of international travel fixing engineering problems in the field. He turned to writing as another one of his many hobbies and he hopes to retire some day in front of a keyboard writing books.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Julie Rayzor Chapter one of the audio book

Here goes nothing. I'm trying to figure out how to create an RSS feed so that people can get my audiobook on ipods. How do I insert an audio file...
Oh well. I'm using feedburner and struggling with this. If anyone knows how to do this process please let me know. The internet doesn't explain the process very well which means it is either very easy and I'm missing something, or ridiculously difficult, which I doubt.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

On JD Salinger

Julie Rayzor ~ Romance, Adventure, Zombies the Thriller Novel is NOW available in ebooks and paperback!
Check it out here in paperback: https://www.createspace.com/3758847
Or on Amazon Kindle here: http://tinyurl.com/cgmu3p5
I wrote this a little while ago... but after something happened I have to admit that I now understand why someone would want to write (because he or she enjoys doing it) and not publish, (because people feel it is their duty to tell you they hate the title of your book, or the name of your main character, or the book cover.) I still don't like Salinger, but I do understand a little better why he never published anything for 40 plus years.

On JD Salinger… Why anyone would write and not want to share that work with the world is beyond me. But for JD, that's a good thing, considering his work. I despise “Catcher in the Rye,” and not for the reasons everyone says about “not wanting to grow up” or being immature. The fact is JD Salanger lied to his reader, plain and simple. Lying to the reader is an unforgivable sin. Your reader is your friend, confidant, and closest ally that you allow into your inner circle, you let them share your deepest and darkest fears and whole truths about your characters. You do not tell some big long lie, build excitement, and intrigue, and then at the end spring out and say, “Ha-Fooled you. The character was in a mental hospital the whole time.”
What do you do when you're 17, trapped in a fortress that's surrounded by a zombies, and your boyfriend is lost? If you're Julie Rayzor, you lock n load.
You drop seeds of evidence that something is amiss. You leave a trail for the reader to discover the secret on his or her own while the characters are still uncertain themselves. Forcing students to read this drivel is just as bad as the author himself. A deceitful man who went off to hide from the world and for that, wonderful! I don’t want to read another thing of his, no matter how pretty the prose.
And upon recollection, his narrative is monotonous and boring. (Swearing makes it better! - NOT) Being forced to read this crap is like Chinese water torture and should be reserved for interrogating suspected terrorists, (and I read it in the 80s when the work was 40 years old, not 70 years old (so this is not an issue of old writing styles.)
"Anyway, It was December and all, and it was cold as a witches teat, especially on top of that stupid hill. I had on my reversible and no gloves or anything. The week before that somebody'd stolen my..."
Someone please make it stop. Make it stop. For the love of God!

What do you do with too many victims? Schwimer digs deep, exhumes the dead, and tracks down suspects. .

Do you like short stories: http://www.richardhowesbooks.com/2012/05/gold-digger.html

Poker Sharks and Loan Sharks

What do you do when you're 17, trapped in a fortress that's surrounded by a zombies, and your boyfriend is lost? If you're Julie Rayzor, you lock n load.
It occurs to me that people who play poker are simply attending a "random money loan table". They sit down with several hundred dollars and take random chances that they will borrow a random amount of money from someone else, OR that they loan money to someone else. They will then repeat this until they are either out of money or are tired. They usually don't quit when they are ahead. Plus the casino takes a 10% cut as a one-time fee on each transaction.

If your bank worked that way would you do business with them?

What do you do with too many victims? Schwimer digs deep, exhumes the dead, and tracks down suspects. .

Friday, August 17, 2012


Update: I found a good chiropractor!

After many years of semi-chronic fairly minor back problems I've been to several chiropractors. One was good. One was great. Several were terrible.

Lately I've had a run of bad ones and I wonder why the industry allows this to go on.

I don't believe that taking powdered flower pills, "3 times per week" chiro visits, watching videos, chanting mantras, or "really believing" will cause my joints to magically pop back into place, cure migraines, give me the energy of someone half my age, or cause me to levitate off the floor. I do believe that a good chiropractor can pop me back into position, that Triptans treat symptoms of migraines, eating right and exercising can give me energy, and that helicopters can make me levitate off the floor.

I don't need to wait for two hours in your lobby, sit through a twenty minute video, buy your herbs, have a two hundred dollar x-ray taken to result in a simple adjustment. I just need to be adjusted. To all the bad chiropractors out there, please just look at how I'm standing, know what the problem is, adjust it, and I'll see you next time. If you can't do that, then either you don't know how to do it, or you just want money. In either of those cases, I'll remove you from the "unknown" column and put you in the "bad" column and I'll move on to another one of the millions chiropractors on the planet.

This reminds me of the Simpsons episode where Homer pushes people over a trash can and they have their spine problems cured forever. No more "three times a week for the rest of your life". The chiropractor mafia enforcers show up with clubs and proceed to destroy his trash can.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Readings from Julie Rayzor ~ Romance, Adventure, Zombies

Chapter Readings from my zombie book: Now on youtube as well as Vimeo. If you like Julie Rayzor and want to hear the zombie war novel because you don't have time to read it yourself, now you can...

click here for chapter 1

chapter 2 is here:  http://tinyurl.com/9b6oree

The readings are back up!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Sequel to Julie Rayzor Zombie Novel: Rayzor-Wire

Okay guys - You got me to do it! I'm writing a sequel - It is tentatively called Rayzor-Wire. Here's a little excerpt that I wrote just tonight on my blog at RichardHowesBooks. If you like this you might like the first book "Julie Rayzor ~ Romance, Adventure, Zombies".

Need a Young Adult Zombie Thriller Novel starring a teenage girl with lots of Zombies Zombies Zombies?
Read Julie Rayzor ~ Romance, Adventure, Zombies
by Richard Howes

On Amazon Kindle or paperback here:

Excerpt from the sequel to the first zombie thriller - now in writing: Rayzor Wire

Okay guys - You got me to do it! I'm writing a sequel - It is tentatively called Rayzor-Wire. Here's a little excerpt that I wrote just tonight on my blog at RichardHowesBooks. If you like this you might like the first book "Julie Rayzor ~ Romance, Adventure, Zombies".
Lopez and I lay in the queen-size bedroom on the third floor. It was long past dark and the city was quiet. With the doors locked and windows covered, no flashlights in use, the house would appear as empty as the night before. We could sleep soundly with no chance of being discovered by Scabs, Leaders, or zombies.

Lopez put his arm around me and I rested my head on his shoulder. We were both fully dressed for the house was very cold and we didn’t dare build a fire in the small fireplace in the corner, even for the slightest bit of warmth. I wore gloves and had wrapped my scarf around my neck and shoulders. My winter camo jacket covering everything.

I listened to Lopez breathing. The sound was comforting, like puppies nestling together to keep warm. His breath landed on my cheek but instead of chilling me it made my blood warm.

Mutted conversation came from the next room, were Jim and Jill laid down together.
Faintly, coming through the walls, Jill’s voice said, “Not tonight.”
Jim replied in his heavier, throatier voice, “It will keep us warm.”

They fell silent and moments later the muffled sounds of movement came. Jill giggled and Jim laughed. The rhythmic squeak of bed-springs rose. It was slow and steadily speeding up, faster and louder. I turned my head to Lopez and blocked one ear by pressing it to his shoulder. My finger found my other ear to stop the noise. My face flushed with embarassment.

I recalled my one night with Jim so very long ago in the abandoned hospital bedroom. Our bed was of sheets and our light was from candles. That was my first time and it was wonderful. It was also my only time. Lopez and I had not 'done it' yet and I knew that he wanted to. He had mentioned it and I always put it off. I wanted it to be special and I waited for the right time and place.

Lopez... Gary, the name I didn’t prefer, kissed me on the top of my head. He turned slightly and I raised my head to look him in the eyes. Faint moonlight came through moth eaten holes in the drapes. He was a silhouette of shadow on darkness. There was not enough light for me to see his face and I wondered what his eyes would say if I could see them.

I knew without us having to speak. I nodded and pushed back the covers. He kissed my neck as he unzipped my coat. We struggled with our clothing and couldn’t help but giggle at our efforts. Eventually our clothes were cast to the corners of the room and we lay naked and cold under scant blankets and sheets with only each other’s body to keep us warm.

His lips found the nape of my neck and I kissed the top of his head. He slowly kissed along my jaw and turned his head to kiss me sideways. When our lips parted he hovered over me and I reached up to pecked him on the cheek, nose, and lips once more in an ecstasy of love. Our bodies warmed the air around us like an aura. He held my hands to his own chest and whispered, “I love you.”

I didn’t repeat the words for I wasn’t ready to hear or say that but I knew he felt love in his heart, and I loved him too, even as we had never fully said it or expressed it to each other. I somehow couldn’t do it. Beyond little actions and heartfelt gifts we often talked of big things, dreams, plans, the future and we just as often argued over little unimportant things.

This night was my gift to him and to myself. We did love each other and I pushed him away and sat up, rolling on top of him. He chuckled as I attempted to pin him to the bed. He let me hold him down and I kissed him on the lips, the moisture in the air from our breath mingling and becoming one in the moon beams, only to disappear into darkness.

I kissed down his chest and across his stomach, letting my hair drag across his skin. I felt his tight abdominal muscles quivering in anticipation. He was strong and brave. I loved this man more than I had ever realized. All our arguments and adventures together had brought us closer. When I had pushed him away in disgust or anger or frustration, instead of driving him away, it only made me want him more. When he sat outside my quarantine hospital bedroom for two weeks I despised each moment he was there and missed his company when he was gone.

I hated that Lopez had been Jill’s boyfriend at that time. I hated that Jim abandoned me, not for lack of love, but due to his own fears that I was infected with the zombie-flu and that he might become infected. Jim fled to Jill and she greeted him openly for Lopez had abandoned her as well - something that had been long in arriving.

Perhaps all along Lopez had known affection for me and that he hid it behind immaturity and vulgarities, but when I needed him, even when I didn’t know I needed him, he was there for me, to talk to me about nothing and annoy me in small and large ways. Even when I told him to leave me alone he would grow quiet and I wondered if he had actually left that hospital door. When I peeked out the little window he smiled cruelly at his joke. Maybe he knew that I cared for him and he had played with my feelings. Maybe he didn’t. It drove me to anger then. And those memories drove me mad with desire and I pressed him down and forced myself upon him like willing victim he was.
My hands on his chest and his hands on mine we rocked together as we moved in sync and the bed springs squealed as if in echo of the sounds from the next room over, but we didn’t care.
Both of us exhausted and sore from the long hike we had made that afternoon, and our more recent exertions, we lay together, protective arms holding each other. We were safe. We were warm in that cold third floor bedroom of the abandon house.

Johnson was surely sleeping - his turn on watch having ended. Wilcox and Escobar were probably in the living room telling bad jokes and drinking whatever liquor they might have found in some hidden cupboard.

We slept. For some short period we rested, cold air on our skin and warmth in our hearts.
The sound of gunfire echoed in my dreams and I awoke with a start. It was not a dream.
Leaping from the bed I grabbed my flashlight and dressed. Lopez awoke.

“Turn that light out,” he demanded.

“That was gunfire.”


Another burst of machine gun fire echoed through the house. Footsteps ran up the stairs. Yelling filled the air between Claymore mine explosions.

SEO: Zombie War, Zombie Apocalypse, Zombie Attack, Zombie Survival, Zombie Plan.

Monday, August 6, 2012

My book is at #4 on Amazon's Kindle Best Seller List: Julie Rayzor ~ Romance, Adventure, Zombies

A quick note: Julie Rayzor ~ Romance, Adventure, Zombies rose to Amazon's #4 spot on Amazon's Best Seller Lists for Kindle in the "War" category books and #21 in the "Horror" category!!!
And to think that less than a year ago, (when I started writing this book,) I was unemployed and struggling to pay the bills - living off what little savings I had when I was denied unemployment (after twenty years of paying into the system). It is a wonderful reward to see that people like my work!
A special "Thank You" to Holly Lisle and her recommendations on how to market on Kindle!
Richard Howes

Friday, August 3, 2012

Zombie book for free on Kindle Aug 5th and 6th 2012

FREE book on Kindle extended through Monday August 6th: Julie Rayzor ~ Romance, Adventure, Zombies.
Just go to this link on amazon:
If you haven't read the book, or an excerpt, or even seen this new zombie thriller novel, now you can get the book for free on kindle - But only THIS weekend!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Press Release: Julie Rayzor ~ Romance, Adventure, Zombies

For Immediate Release 
Richard Howes
Contact through this blog.


Young-adult zombie novel, Julie Rayzor ~ Romance, Adventure, Zombies, features 17 year-old Julie caught between a world of zombies and a life of drama. Julie has to grow up fast and sacrifice her own desires for the good of everyone around her. When she learns of a plan to rescue her missing-in-action boyfriend, she uncovers a dark secret - a secret that she must keep hidden deep inside until she can complete the most dangerous task of her life.

Available on Kindle and Paperback from Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/cgmu3p5

Reviewers say:

“Julie Rayzor is a woman for her times. She is secretly in love with Corporal Jim Barnett, who is out on a mission and missing. With a broken leg, she volunteers to go outside the walls of Fort Tulsa at the start of this crisply-written, dialogue-rich novel... Successfully blends sci-fi, a love story, and a war story, and it works on all three levels.” - Professional screenwriter John Hill - Quigley Down Under, Close Encounters of the Third Kind (uncredited).

“I was very surprised by Julie's secret... related to times past & explained how and why things had changed... Action, emotion and well-planned events within the story. Two thumbs up from me!” - Jes Piddlin writer and author.

New, up-and-coming author, Richard Howes, with LRCK Publishing, is releasing Julie Rayzor ~ Romance, Adventure, Zombies, on August 1st, 2012. Richard Howes is a struggling writer who lost his job due to the economic down-turn soon after his wife lost her job for the same reason. Out of work and deep in mortgage-debt in Las Vegas, Nevada, they relocated to the green country of Tulsa, Oklahoma for new opportunities. As a new comer to Oklahoma, Richard wanted to write a fiction novel featuring his new home. 

Combined with the popular zombie theme, Julie Rayzor is the result of that effort. His idea was so strong that he wrote 40 pages in three days and completed the first draft in five weeks. Another year of polishing the work resulted in romance, action, drama, and adventure.

L.R.C.K. has produced and released video trailers viewable on YouTube. Julie Rayzor ~ Romance, Adventure, Zombies is offered in paperback and Kindle eBook, as well as other electronic book formats to follow. 

Excerpts from the work, as well as book signings and book fair schedules can be found on Richard's blog at www.RichardHowesBooks.com or his Facebook page.
ISBN-13: 978-0-9849969-0-2 

For a review copy, to place orders, arrange interviews or book signings, etc, please call or email
: L.R.C.K. Publishing 918-224-6474 office 
Kristie Medlen PR: 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Press Release: New Young Adult Zombie Novel: Julie Rayzor ~ Romance, Adventure, Zombies by author Richard Howes

Julie Rayzor ~ Romance, Adventure, Zombies the Thriller Novel is NOW available in ebooks and paperback!
Check it out here in paperback: https://www.createspace.com/3758847
Or on Amazon Kindle here: http://tinyurl.com/cgmu3p5
For Immediate Release - July 26th, 2012

Richard Howes 
contact the author through this blog or facebook.


What does a 17 year-old girl do when the zombie apocalypse comes to Tulsa, Oklahoma?

The new young-adult zombie novel, Julie Rayzor ~ Romance, Adventure, Zombies, features 17 year-old Julie caught between a world of zombies outside of "Fort Tulsa" and a life of drama inside. When everything she loves in life is stolen away, her soldier-boyfriend missing-in-action, troubles with Jill, her best friend, Felix, a nerdy medical researcher fawning over her, plus a broken leg cast to weigh her down, Julie has to grow up fast and sacrifice her own desires for the good of everyone around her. When she learns of a plan to rescue her boyfriend and save the city, she uncovers a dark secret - a secret that she must keep hidden deep inside until she can complete the most dangerous task of her life.

Professional screenwriter John Hill - Quigley Down Under, Close Encounters of the Third Kind (uncredited), says this about Julie Rayzor:

“Crisp, fast-paced action novel... Richard Howes's writing style is very impressive... usually found in male adventures, yet his heroine is a woman in love... he pulls off the balancing act between realistic feminine energy and highly effective tough combat... Successfully blends all three genres: sci-fi, a love story, and a war story, and it works on all three levels.”

New, up-and-coming author, Richard Howes, with LRCK Publishing is releasing Julie Rayzor ~ Romance, Adventure, Zombies, on August 1st, 2012. Richard Howes is a struggling writer who lost his job due to the economic down-turn soon after his wife lost her job for the same reason. Out of work and deep in mortgage-debt in Las Vegas, Nevada, they relocated to the green country of Tulsa, Oklahoma for new opportunities. As a new comer to Oklahoma, Richard wanted to write a fiction novel featuring his new home. Combined with the popular zombie theme, Julie Rayzor is the result of that effort. His idea was so strong that he wrote 40 pages in three days and completed the first draft in five weeks. Another year of polishing the work resulted in romance, action, drama, and adventure.

To promote the Julie Rayzor novel, L.R.C.K. has produced and released video trailers currently viewable on YouTube and facebook. Julie Rayzor ~ Romance, Adventure, Zombies is offered in paperback and Kindle eBook, as well as other electronic book formats to follow. Excerpts from the work, as well as book signings and book fair schedules can be found on Richard's blog at www.RichardHowesBooks.com or his Facebook page.

ISBN-13: 978-0-9849969-0-2 
For a review copy, to place orders, arrange interviews or book signings, etc, please call or email: L.R.C.K. Publishing nnn-nnn-nnnn
Kristie Medlen PR: comment on this blog. We'll get back with you ASAP.

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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Book Review of JULIE RAYZOR, Romance, Adventure, Zombies by author Richard Howes

Book Review of JULIE RAYZOR, Romance, Adventure, Zombies by author Richard Howes

    Richard Howes's new novel, JULIE RAYZOR, Romance, Adventure, Zombies boldly hurls us into a post-apocalyptic world of human civilian soldiers against two different types of zombies.    One type is the classic stumbling but lethal, mindless zombie, wanting only to kill and eat any humans, and traveling in packs that usually comes to mind.   But the other type is Howes's own creative new take on zombies:  that some zombies are intelligent and called Leaders.   (Now there’s a scary thought for his heroine, Julie Rayzor, and the readers of this fresh, fast-paced action novel:  a zombie who can think and plan and lead!)    And Leaders are often one step ahead of the struggling, armed humans, who can never know when they are playing catch-up with intelligent focused zombies, as well as the biting, human-eating zombies.
    Julie Rayzor is a self-taught warrior, in an Army fort in Tulsa, Oklahoma, an oasis of almost-safety, in a world overrun by zombies.   She is secretly in love with Corporal Jim Barnett (who is out on a mission and missing at the start of the story, which worries her very much) and Julie is the one who discovers that clever Leader-zombies found out how to infect dogs and they attack the base immediately at the start of this crisply-written, dialogue-rich novel.    Having to kill man’s best friend due to the zombie virus infection immediately sets the tone.    Julie Rayzor is a woman for her times;  she has a broken leg, not yet healed, but volunteers to go outside the walls on the next mission, but her leg in a cast stops all this.  So right in front of the captain, she smashes the cast off her own leg, and pronounces herself ready for duty.   So she leads a group out to a radio station, into enemy territory (along with best friend Jill, and a few macho soldiers who don’t like taking orders from a woman).   They fight their way up the tall office building stairs, leaving Claymore mines behind for the zombies that come after them, and the explosions below become almost routine.   Things go from bad to worse in the ensuing battles, and the speed of Howes's narration is almost as fast as this summary.    Julie’s real hope is to find and save her secret lover, Jim Barnett, who is out there somewhere.
    Richard Howes's writing style is very impressive.   He is writing in a style usually found in male adventure, yet his heroine is a woman in love, but he also successfully pulls off the balancing act between realistic feminine energy and highly effective tough combat energy as well.   There’s a great deal of dialogue in this entertaining novel, and it’s the Elmore Leonard type:   short, character-revealing, and advancing the story conflict.   And conflict is everywhere.    This is a war novel in many ways, a war between humans working together in a combat unit, with zombies everywhere, so it’s a sci-fi zombie adventure, and also a love story.
    The impressive thing about Richard Howes's JULIE RAYZOR, Romance, Adventure, Zombies is that the author successfully blends all three genres:   sci-fi, a love story, and a war story, and it works on all three levels.   Additionally, the fast-paced (and violent - ever try to kill a zombie?) action works very well for male readers, yet the choice of gender of the protagonist and her secret love story quest will make this novel a successful read for women as well.
    Reviewers of books fall into two categories:  those who blithely give away important plot points and reveal secrets that should instead unfold in the contexts of reading the story, and those who review the book without giving anything away, yet providing some facts about what the reader can expect.   I personally am in that second group;  I will not give away any reveals or secrets or solutions to plot problems within this novel.   (I won’t tell you about the train scenes, wow, you’ll have to discover thoset yourself.)  I will say that she finds Jim, so the love story kicks in like an afterburner, but it all happens in a fast-paced, frightening world of a small Army patrol taking casualties, constantly having to run-shoot-hide, and improvise, since they are lost behind the scariest of all possible enemy lines.   They are fighting and trying to kill the already dead - and they are running out of ammo.
    Imagine the movie PLATOON or whatever the best military-platoon-o-patrol book or movie you ever read (or experienced yourself) and transplant that constant tension, surprises, and body count into a world of zombies, and you’ll have some idea of what kind of novel JULIE RAYZOR, Romance, Adventure, Zombies turns out to be.   It really is a great blend of romance, adventure, and zombies, (but not for the squeamish - there’s blood and body parts aplenty!)    Julie Rayzor on military patrol in this scary world is a total page-turner, one with fast-paced, realistic dialogue as well -- and just when you start to relax along with these warriors, zombies come around the corner and through the windows!
    And if that isn’t enough excitement for you... This is a novel that should be a movie and the first of a series of novels too.  When you finish reading it, you want more, and that is one big characteristic of a really fun novel to enjoy.
    -- John Hill, screenwriter, QUIGLEY DOWN UNDER, and Writing Instructor at the University Of Nevada in Las Vegas.

Monday, July 23, 2012

More Julie Rayzor Zombie Video behind the scene photos

Julie Rayzor ~ Romance, Adventure, Zombies is NOW available in ebooks and paperback!
Check it out here in paperback: https://www.createspace.com/3758847
Or on Amazon Kindle here: http://tinyurl.com/cgmu3p5


Ain't Julie and Jill cute? The J&J Team!

Run, stop, shoot, run. Good. Let's do it again! Repeat.

Get ready to run! Watch out for the post man.

On the roof tops! There's zombies on the roofs.

Hold it like this and aim down the sights.

Charlie's Angels - this isn't! But they are cute and the shoot was fun in the 100 degree sun!

They're over THAT way!

I've just gotta adjust my fly a little, then off to kill zombies.

Crap! Zombies are coming!

What's your name again?

My girlfriend is right over there. This isn't too weird.

It's July and 100 degrees outside and they want us to wear this?

Just a couple gals hanging out and killing zombies!

Behind the Scenes of Julie Rayzor the zombie book

Julie Rayzor live-fire action scene - Yes. She is shooting a real shotgun with real shotgun shells.
No blank ammo was used in this scene. 

Just another day for a zombie in Tulsa!

Julie Rayzor AKA Savanah Fraizer riding Mira down the dirt road.

A train in a zombie novel? You'll have to read the book to find out why!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

How I Became a Self-Published Author

Julie Rayzor ~ Romance, Adventure, Zombies the Thriller Novel is NOW available in ebooks and paperback!
Check it out here in paperback: https://www.createspace.com/3758847
Or on Amazon Kindle here: http://tinyurl.com/cgmu3p5
So you would like to be self-published or maybe you want to know how I did it...

Let's look at why literary agents and publishers reject work. We've all heard of the slush pile and know those editors are busy skimming through huge stacks of manuacripts, but getting rejected is not just a matter of getting lost in the mix. With self-publishing, as with anything else in life, follows the law of nature that good work rises to the top.

I've written for years. I wrote many short stories and submitted them to sci-fi and fantasy magazine. I was turned down with two or three word rejections written on the manuscripts: "Too long" (When they say 500 words they mean it!) "Not suitable" to the subject matter (fantasy, paranormal, apocalypse, etc. is not Sci-fi). The lesson there for becoming published, or being successfully self-published is to know your market.

I wrote two and a half unpublished fantasy novels based on Dungeons and Dragons games in college - yes, I am a geek. They were fun games and I wanted to remember them well. I wrote them down and then decided it would make a good book if I changed just a few things. The lesson I learned there is that I needed to change everything around in the story, time-line and keep only the character names, some character traits, and some of the things that were said in conversation. Don't get bogged down in your fiction with the idea that your real story "didn't happen that way". If you want to write fiction, write a good story.

On that note, I recently ran into a poem writer who admitted she gets so attached to her words that she can't let them go and delete a sentence or a stanza. Let it go! You may have the perfectly formed descriptive prose in your manuscript but if it doesn't fit the scene then get rid of it! your writing will improve with practice and you won't miss that bad sentance for very long after you see how much better the scene is without it.

The reality of all writing is to write well. As a writing coach told me one time, "If you remove all the bad writing from your work, you are left with good writing." Learn the recognize your writing weaknesses. Learn to rephrase and rewrite sentences so that they flow well through the scene. The lesson here is to know your tools. The English language is a tool set for transmitting information. Know how to use it! Good stories are well written, crisp, easy to read, and flow naturally. Make sure you balance dialog with narrative and action.  J.R.R. Tolkien was a great writer and his works are wonderful, but in today's book reading market people will simply not read three pages of description about a landscape scene - unless it is a book about landscaping!

Skipping ahead... so you now have a well written book and all your friends are kind to you and tell you that it is great. Don't take their word for it! It's free advice! Free advice is almost worthless (unless your friends are literary agents or "big publisher" editors.) I edited Julie Rayzor ~ Romance, Adventure, Zombies no less than 11 times, and 5 or 6 of those times were AFTER my copy editor made her first pass through the work. Write and edit, write and edit and then keep editing.

Okay, so NOW you have a well written book... You need a book cover. Hopefully you can do it yourself or you hired someone to create a book cover for you. Hopefully you don't have to learn about PDF printing to get the correct size and shape demanded by your POD company. I used GIMP, a free image editing tool, to produce my book covers, but my POD company (Createspace) couldn't accept huge size PDFs. The free PDF printers I installed for creating the final cover PDF document were 60 megabytes. The Print on Demand company had a maximum size of 40 Meg. to reduce the size I had to compress the graphics quality and the only option was a 1 Meg file size, but the image quality was terrible. To solve this problem I downloaded a trial version of Photoshop to simply print the pdf. I personally finished the Julie Rayzor book cover within the 30 day free trial. The good thing is that photoshop has a subscription service of only about fifty bucks a month, so you don't have to go out of pocket for the hundreds of dollars to buy it. Build your book cover using GIMP and print it using a free trial or subscription to Photoshop (and then cancel your subscription).

NOW: You have a well written book and a book cover... What else do you need? Advertising. Amanda Hocking is famous for selling a million copies of her book in one year as a self published author. The reality is she worked on advertising for ten years. She gave away copies of her work to the thousands of friends she made on social websites over that ten years. She had a following and she did it herself. If you don't want to work for ten years, well then you need to have millions of dollars to give to a big publisher to hire television advertising. I'll bet that you, like me, don't have millions of dollars to produce, create, and release TV advertising commercials.

So while we are social networking what else can be done?

I personally "donated" about a thousand dollars (when I was still in debt and on the verge of bankruptcy and walking away from ten years of real estate holdings that turned upside down) to make a video for Julie Rayzor ~ Romance, Adventure, Zombies. I bought two nearly complete military costumes one piece at a time on eBay. I bought Airsoft helmets and camouflage helmet covers, belts, holsters, Airsoft military weapons - painted with silver modeling paint to look like worn, battle scarred real guns. We got sweat shirts for the girls, canteens, etc. I grabbed a couple black pouch binoculars and slid them on the belts to look like gear and equipment. I solicited friends and looked on Craigslist for actors to star in the video. I sweated and worried that actors wouldn't show up. I hired stand-ins and undersudies and paid them all for showing up - just in case. My wife and kids helped me put together a story board for two versions of the video - with and without zombies. We drew picturs of each scene on small pieces of paper and taped them up in the order we wanted them to appear and moved them around to test different concepts. Then we filmed. After filming we edited the video on a PC and when the video and sound was right we pushed it onto youtube.

If you do that, you now have a video to go with your book and book cover. So what's next? Sit back and collect money... NOT!

Get on facebook, myspace, pinterest, instagram, twitter, and enter forums related to your subject matter, and then self-promote and advertise. You cannot do enough blatant self-promotion. As a marketing genius friend of mine says, "target your market." If you advertise outside the subject matter, that is almost worthless. Considering the value of your time, it is worthless. I went on zombie webpages and told everyone about the video and book. Post behind the scene images from the video shoot and pin and tag them. Make pages dedicated to your book and invite everyone you know to see them.

Then create a blog and write about your writing and post short stories and excerpts!

That's it for today! I'll leave the details of uploading to Kindle and other ebook websites to another time.

Oh yeah! Don't forget that Julie Rayzor ~ Romance, Adventure, Zombies comes out August 1st, 2012 and please watch the videos of youtube here:

and here:


and see the facebook page here:


See that? Blatant self promotion!

Remember, good work reveals itself! Don't give up! Write and edit, and write, and edit, and then promote and advertise.

And also more self-promotion follows:
Julie Rayzor ~ Romance, Adventure, Zombies is available in ebooks and paperback!
Check it out here in paperback: https://www.createspace.com/3758847
Or on Amazon Kindle here: http://tinyurl.com/cgmu3p5

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Excerpt from Julie Rayzor ~ Romance, Adventure, Zombies by Richard Howes

Julie Rayzor ~ Romance, Adventure, Zombies the Thriller Novel is NOW available in ebooks and paperback!
Check it out here in paperback: https://www.createspace.com/3758847
Or on Amazon Kindle here: http://tinyurl.com/cgmu3p5

Enjoy the excerpts:

   I killed a puppy - murdered it, actually. I shot it right between the eyes with a gun and didn’t feel even a little remorseful. It didn’t bother me. In fact, at the moment of pulling the trigger, it was the right thing to do.

    Awaking to tears on my face, my long red hair sticking to my cheek, I couldn’t remember when I last cried. It must have been a year before or even longer, when little Julie Rayzor was just an innocent pup herself. Sleep escaped me the rest of that night. I dried my tears and slowed my breathing to avoid waking anyone else up. To pass the time I listened to the sounds of the military hospital compound that we called ‘Fort Tulsa’.
    Through the barricaded windows set high-up in the warehouse the September sky forewarned of the coming morning. The night patrols should be back soon, and maybe Corporal Jim Barnett would return from his mission. It had been three days with no word.
Missing Jim, the man who had gone off to help defend Tulsa from the zombies, and the boy who pulled my ponytail when I wasn’t looking, I tried to forget that his patrol was long overdue and stifle the realization that he might have been bitten by a zombie. I stared at the ceiling wanting to cry.
    I almost never slept. Private John Wilcox, our resident explosives specialist and all around red-neck jerk, was snoring again from the men’s side of the warehouse-barracks. The sound came through the twenty-foot tall wall of shelves that separated the men from the women. Wilcox wouldn’t let anyone forget him either awake or asleep.
    His fiery red hair like mine, only much shorter, was a tribute to his temper. Even his snores sounded angry, but something was wrong with the noise. With every second or third snore a little creak or scratching noise came to me. I wondered if some of the other soldiers or civilians in the makeshift dorm were snoring in sync. I wondered if the rats had learned to work under cover of nasal protection.  
    Listening again for the odd creaking noise, I found that it had stopped. Wilcox continued snoring. I turned on my cell phone and used it as a flashlight. (No one had phone service anymore.) I looked across the room at hundreds of beds, army cots, hospital beds, double and triple-decker bunk-beds, hammocks, and sleeping mats lining the floors of the former city hospital warehouse. Half the beds were empty; the rest were occupied by sleeping soldiers and civilians.
    My right leg itched. I retrieved a straightened coat hanger from my nightstand table and slid it down between my leg and the plaster cast that protected a broken shin bone.
    The cast was intolerable from the moment it went on. When Dr. Teresa Scarbrough, a former general practitioner, and Felix Vinson, our full time zombie researcher, applied the cast to my leg, I asked for a walking cast. Felix brushed his long brown hair from his eyes and looked at me. “That was before the zombies,” he laughed nasally. “No one gets anything like that anymore.”
    Felix was a nerd in every way and he had a crush on me, but his laugh always made me want to vomit. Literally throw up. He’d scolded me as if I were a child for carrying a stretcher. I told him that Jill Addison my blonde-haired, blue-eyed, mid- western, California-girl, best friend and I could manage moving the patient down for surgery.
    Jim Barnett, with a square-jaw, brown-hair and dark hazel eyes, darker than my own brown eyes, was handsome in the way a man can be, that a boy cannot. Slightly older than I and strong, he had a man’s carriage, a man’s frame, and a man’s voice. I liked Jim enough when he offered to carry the stretcher for me. I wondered if he felt insulted when I said, “I’m not a weak little girl and don’t need your help.”
    Jim had laughed but then I added, “Like you,” and punched him in the arm. He laughed again and left me and Jill to manage on our own.
    A few minutes later I stumbled on the steps, and the stretcher slipped from my grasp as it plowed over the top of me. The patient went for a wild ride down the stairs, and I snapped my leg bone in an instant.
    I lay on the floor at the bottom of the stairs with Jill laughing at me. (She was the only girl who could make cargo-pants and a sweater look sexy.) I laughed with her as I’d felt no pain, but when I tried to stand up I realized that I’d broken my leg, and the laughter ceased.
Jim came to see me every day I was nursing my broken leg until he left on a mission with the Lieutenant-Colonel and three squads. Their return was long overdue, and everyone wondered when they would be back.
    The scratching returned in perfect rhythm to Wilcox’s snores. I wondered if the zombies were tunneling beneath the hospital. I wondered if Wilcox was dreaming up some new vulgar jokes and laughing in his sleep or if he were dreaming of killing zombies. I slowly realized that the scratching sounds were not coming from him or even from that side of the warehouse, but from the air vent under the stairs.
    Getting up, I reached for my .44 caliber revolver I kept under my pillow. Then I remembered it was gone, confiscated by Felix when he annoyingly tucked me into bed after putting the cast on my leg.
    “Ms. Ray-zor,” I recalled the sinus pitch of Felix’s voice as he scolded me. “Teenagers aren’t allowed to have weapons.” He knew, everyone knew, that I hated having my name drawn out like that - RAY-Zor or even worse, Raz. I told Felix I’d been shooting since I was eight years old. I told him it was my dad’s gun. He said he didn’t care, and he checked it into the armory where my dad’s Model-12 shotgun was stored when I first arrived at Fort Tulsa. Everyone also knows that almost everyone carries a handgun and to not get caught with it. Even Dr. Scarbrough rolled her eyes at Felix’s stupidity.
    I swung my leg-cast over the side of the bed, being careful to not make any noise when it touched the floor. My cell phone flashlight went to sleep so I woke it up. A glint of metal came from a pocket of my jeans which lie over my nightstand, and I recalled that Jim told me he couldn’t get my .44 back, but he had a .32 semi-automatic handgun. He hid it in my jeans pocket for ‘just-in-case’ and told me to deny all accusations if it were found.
    Pulling the jeans on, I cringed at the long slice up the leg that Felix cut to fit over the cast. I was still p.o.’d about that for it was my last good pair of jeans and I had to fix the gash with safety pins. I threw a scarf around my neck and longed for my old long- lost bathrobe to ward against the cold in the warehouse.
    With the .32 from my pants pocket in hand, I felt for the loaded chamber indicator. A round was in the pipe. Jim had shown me the safety latch and I clicked it to red.
    My flashlight went out again, and I left it off as I slowly limped across the warehouse. The sound of the scratching grew louder as I approached a ventilation grate beneath the stairs. I timed the landing of my cast on the floor to the rhythm of the scratching, trying to cover the sound of my footsteps. The noise sped up and I could hear the sound of rapid breathing. My heartbeat thumped like a drum. Sweat ran down my back and soaked my shirt. The breathing changed to whining as I knelt down.
    Turning on my flashlight-phone, I found a puppy behind the grate. It looked like a mutt, and feral dogs were rampant in the wasteland that was once Tulsa. This dog was young, cute, friendly, and black. I love black dogs and had always wanted one. He looked like a Labrador mixed with German-Shepherd.
    The latches turned easily, and I raised the ventilation grate to let the puppy out from beneath the stairs. He scratched at the floor and jumped into my lap, tail wagging in joy at his release. The grate fell out of my hands and landed with a clatter. Suddenly a sound like a runaway-train-on-fire rose from the vent. I backed away in fright. Holding the puppy close, I pointed my gun at the grate.
    “Christ,” someone yelled. Footsteps approached. The soldiers that patrolled the hospital were coming. Flashlights came on around the room.
    Corporal Gary Lopez ran up to me, the flashlight on his carbine radiating light randomly about the room.
    “What is it?” Lopez demanded.
    I sighed. I didn’t feel like being hassled, and he was sure to give me crap over the dog. I just knew it.
    “Did you open that vent?” Lopez bellowed at me. His crystal blue eyes almost glowed in the dark. He was so loud that people started to wake up.
    “It’s just a puppy.” I showed him the dog in my arms, but the sweet innocent puppy growled and tried to bite me. Green and yellow puss oozed from its mouth. It tried to sink its small sharp teeth into my arm. I wondered if it could be a zombie, if a zombified dog were even possible. Lopez shined his flashlight on the dog. Its eyes were filled with blood. It was surely blind leaving no doubt it was infected by the zombie virus.
   I grabbed the dog by the scruff of the neck and held it away from me as it twisted and turned. It tried to bite me but slipped from my grasps and fell to the floor.
    The explosive rattle of a machinegun filled the air as Lopez killed the dog.
    “Why did you do that?” I screamed as the roar from the ventilation system grew louder.
    “Masks!” Lopez yelled. “Attack. Zomb attack. Wake up. Balaclavas, masks.”
    The fire alarm rang indicating a zombie attack. Emergency lights instantly illuminated the hospital warehouse. Through the windows, spotlights turned night to day. From far inside the hospital the rumble of generators started up.
Lopez looked at the grate from which the roaring train noise emanated. Rabid dogs suddenly came at us barking and growling, only they weren’t rabid; they were zombie dogs. They pushed at the grate with their noses as they tried to crawl under it. I raised my pistol, aligned the sights and squeezed the trigger.
    “One,” I counted my shots as a dog died.
    Lopez’s M4 carbine fired in quick bursts. Down went one, two, and three dogs.
    All about us, the sounds of people shouting were drowned out by the crack of automatic gunfire and the boom of shotguns. Behind every ventilation grate spaced around the room, dogs growled and scratched trying to get to us. In front of each grate, a soldier or civilian fired weapons at them, killing them where they stood.
    A dog dropped from a ceiling grate twenty feet above. It broke its hind legs in the fall and crawled, snarling in anger, on its front paws toward me. I shot it dead. “Two,” continuing my silent count. How many rounds left in the gun? I didn’t know as the .32 might have a seven, eight, or even a ten-round magazine.
    Fear didn’t enter my world at that moment for I was too busy; too busy looking for zombie-dogs, zombies, and their Leaders. The time to be frightened would be later, after I survived. Fear of the virus was part of life. I knew that later I might relive my fear of death-by-zombies, although that didn’t bother me much because I’d be dead. What scared me far more was the knowledge that some victims would be dragged away to be infected and turned into zombies. That terrified me beyond any of the many other horrors I’d witnessed.
    The human zombies came next. They first emerged from the grate I’d opened. It was a Leader. He... it... looked human; uninfected and quite normal; normal for someone crawling around in the air vents in the middle of the night and oddly dressed in a spotlessly clean t-shirt and brand new blue jeans. His face was washed. I noticed he had even shaved, however poorly. He raised a hand as if he wanted to talk. I shot him in the face. I fired twice more to be certain he was dead.
    “Three. Four. Five.”
    I never looked at Leaders if I could avoid it. Their eyes were too intense and almost crystalline as opposed to zombies’ blood-filled eyes. Leaders were too human. Too much like me, Jill, Jim, or even Wilcox, but when I saw purple blood on the wall I knew shooting him was correct. He was a carrier and a survivor of the virus. He acted as the eyes and ears of the Zombs and commanded them with his thoughts.
    Five shots. How many left? Two? Three? Five? I realized I didn’t have a second ammunition magazine for my pistol.