Archive | January, 2014

Draft Cover Design For ‘The Outbreak’

30 Jan

Draft Back Cover Design

Draft Front Cover Design

With the writing of the second book in the For Those In Peril series going well, I’ve been turning some of my attention to other aspects of the finished volume. I’ve changed the title (it was originally On The Edge Of The World, but it’s now The Outbreak – which is much snappier), and I’ve put together a draft cover design, which I’m quite pleased with.

In keeping with the cover of the first book (For Those In Peril on The Sea), this is a composite image I’ve put together. The main background is a rather wonderfully post-apocalyptic sky I encountered a few years ago (the picture was taken out my living room window!), while in front of this are silhouettes of a number of most distinctive buildings and structures in Glasgow (where the story starts).

If you have any thoughts, or comments, on this cover design (or, indeed, the title or the draft of the blurb for the back of the book), I would be happy to hear them.

Draft Back Cover Design

Draft Back Cover Design

Here’s the draft of the blurb for the back of the book:

He was only in the city to meet an old friend, but within hours of his return, Ben’s running for his life …

As the world watches in horror, Miami falls to the infected, and with it America. Britain seals its borders hoping to prevent the newly-mutated Haitian Rabies Virus reaching its shores, but it’s too late. Somewhere in Glasgow is the man who started it all and coursing through his veins is the virus he accidentally created. When he finally turns, the city doesn’t stand a chance.

Minutes later, a small group of survivors find themselves trapped between the ever-increasing hordes of infected and the soldiers seeking to contain them. The roads are barricaded, the skies patrolled, and the only way out is the river which leads from the heart of the city to the safety of the sea.

About The Author: In his debut novel, For Those In Peril On The Sea, Colin M. Drysdale focussed on four strangers thrown together by chance on a small boat with no hope of ever returning to land. In this, the second book in the For Those In Peril series, and starting in his native Glasgow, he explores how another group of survivors reacts as their world falls apart around them.

Finally, here’s the full wrap-around view of the draft cover design:

Draft Full Wrap-around Cover Design

Draft Full Wrap-around Cover design



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From the author of For Those In Peril On The Sea, a tale of post-apocalyptic survival in a world where zombie-like infected rule the land and all the last few human survivors can do is stay on their boats and try to survive. Now available in print and as a Kindle ebook. Click here or visit www.forthoseinperil.net to find out more. To download a preview of the first three chapters, click here.

To read the Foreword Clarion Review of For Those In Peril On The Sea (where it scored five stars out of five) click here.

Vertical Farming: Could This Help You Survive A Zombie Apocalypse?

27 Jan

In any zombie apocalypse survival situation, one of the biggest issues you will face is getting enough food. Indeed, if you can survive the initial outbreak and find yourself somewhere safe to hole up, it’s the need to find food which will most likely cause you the biggest problems. This is because you’re most likely to encounter the undead when you’re out and about looking for supplies. So what’s the answer? Well, you could try to build up a big enough stockpile that you rarely have to go outside, but this is always going to prove difficult and in may ways it’s only delaying the inevitable.

An alternative is to try to grow your own food. In principle, this is a great idea, but in practice, at least using traditional techniques, it will prove difficult to implement. This is because you will not only need to find a suitable place to grow your crops, you will also need to be able to protect it, and enclosing a sufficiently large area of land with zombie-proof defences to grow enough food to keep you alive will be a mammoth task.

This is where vertical farming comes in. What, I hear you ask, is vertical farming? Well, it’s where you grow crops not in large flat fields out in the countryside, but instead grow them in buildings, often in the middle of cities. With the right set up, you could simply wall yourself into a skyscraper or other large building, and never have to venture outside again.

So how do you set up a vertical farm? Well, there’s many different ways, but the one which would be of most use in a zombie apocalypse would be some kind of hydroponic system combined with a passive system for ducting light into all the dark little corners. The water within the system can be recycled, making it highly efficient, and, while you might not like the sound of it, human waste can be used as your fertiliser. Done right, and if you choose the right crops, you can have a continuous supply of fresh food. And of course, if you fancy a bit off meat too, it would be easy enough to add chickens, fish, and possibly even the occasional cow into your set up, feeding these animals on the left-overs of whatever you grow.

Of course, this is all idle speculation, but there is a serious side to this too. With each passing year, more and more of us are flocking to live in cities, and getting enough food into these cities to feed everyone is a becoming an ever more difficult task which soaks up more and more of our rapidly diminishing resources just to transport the food from where it’s grown to where it’s eaten. Vertical farming promises to revolutionise this outmoded food supply chain. With vertical farming, food can be grown right where it’s needed, with no need to waste resources on transporting it half way across the planet. In fact, within many cities, there’s more than enough space to grow vast amounts of crops simply by giving over the upper floors of each skyscraper over to vertical farming.

This, therefore, is the future, and while it might seem unnatural first, it is potentially a lot more environmentally friendly than traditional farming. The food miles vanish, the need for expensive fertilisers is eliminated, and, since it’s all done inside under carefully-controlled conditions, there’s no need for pesticides or any other chemicals. It may take a little time for us to shift our perception of what a farm actually is, but in the end, we’ll need to accept it as a suitable, and environmentally sound, way forward. And of course, if there was ever a zombie apocalypse, having a few ready-made vertical farms at your disposal might prove advantageous to your long-term survival!



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From the author of For Those In Peril On The Sea, a tale of post-apocalyptic survival in a world where zombie-like infected rule the land and all the last few human survivors can do is stay on their boats and try to survive. Now available in print and as a Kindle ebook. Click here or visit www.forthoseinperil.net to find out more. To download a preview of the first three chapters, click here.

To read the Foreword Clarion Review of For Those In Peril On The Sea (where it scored five stars out of five) click here.

How Working With An Editor Can Improve Your Writing

23 Jan

Writers write. This is hardly Earth-shattering news, but it can led to challenges. In particular, as a writer, you will often be too close to a piece you are working on to be able to look at it in an objective manner. Yet, this is important if you are to be able to refine your early drafts into the final polished article. This is where an editor comes in. This doesn’t necessarily have to be a trained professional, it can be fellow writer, or a friend you trust to give an honest opinion. Their job is simply to give that objective opinion which you cannot give yourself.

However, working with an editor can be difficult, especially for the uninitiated. This is because you need to give up some of the control you have over you piece, and this is something most writers will fight against. After all, you’ll have poured your heart and soul into your work, and you will often feel as protective of it as if it were your own child. While this is understandable, this is something you need to get over if you’re going to succeed as a writer. This is because, in almost all cases, the editor, with their more objective frame of mind, will be right. If they say that a character has to go, them it’s almost certain they will have to go. If they say a scene isn’t working, or isn’t needed, the chances are they’re right. If they say the dialogue isn’t working or the plot is flawed, then this is what others are likely to think too. In short, while the editor’s job is to give an objective opinion, yours as the writer, is to listen to them.

There will be many times you will want to disagree with them, often vehemently (and occasionally even violently!), but you should bite your tongue. Pick your battles and only go into bat for the one or two suggestions you really feel you cannot live with. Even then, you’ll still have to work out why a specific scene isn’t working and then try to fix it; yet in the end, you’ll often find yourself coming round to the same opinion as the editor.

So, when should you use an editor? There’s probably three stages of any project where having input from an editor is most useful. The first is right after you’ve finished your first draft. Here, they can give you their thoughts on the broad outline: Does the plot work? What about the characters? Is the story arc complete and consistent with itself? The second is after you’ve fixed all the major problems with the first draft (and there will always be major problems with the first draft!). Here, they will concentrate more on the language your using, check that the dialogue is working, look at how the characters grow and develop throughout the story, make sure than you don’t use the same words and descriptions too frequently, and so on. As writers, it’s easy to slip into fixed patterns and continually pluck the same words or phrases out of the air, yet such repetition makes your text rather boring and flat. While you can go through and weed these out yourself, an editor will do it quicker and better.

The final point at which the input from an editor is extremely useful is right at the end, just before you publish or submit your manuscript. Here, they will concentrate on the nitty-gritty, ensuring that the grammar is correct and that all the commas are where they should be, that the spelling is right and that all the words are in the right tense.

While you might be able to write a complete novel without using an editor, it is almost certain that you will have a better final product if you work with an editor. In addition, you’ll often find that it’s quicker and easier to finish your book with an editor’s help. This is because they can often spot how to solve problems which you know are there, but that you can’t quite work out how to deal with on your own.

I suspect that some writers, especially those just starting out, feel that working with an editor is somehow cheating, since it can sometimes feel that a project is no longer all your own work. However, all writers need editors, and even the most famous authors need this type of external input in order to complete their work. They, too, will often find themselves arguing with their editors over decisions, and just like the rest of us, they’ll eventually realise that their editor is right and they are wrong.

So, working with an editor is a good thing, and it can only improve your writing, but one question remains: where do you find an editor to work with in the first place? This is a tricky question to answer. If you’re lucky, you will have friends or fellow writers you can turn to, especially for the first or second read-throughs (this is what I do, and I only use a professional editor for the final read through). If not, it can be a bit hit and miss. This is because there are many free-lance editors out there, and it can be difficult to find one you are happy to work with.

There are professional associations which you can use to help you find a reputable editor, and you can always ask for examples of pieces an editor has worked on before you take them on. Employing a free-lance editor will not necessarily be cheap, but it can make the difference between your novel popping and fizzing with action, or just coming across a little flat. This is particularly true for the final read through, where varying the punctuation marks can make all the difference to how the story comes across, and let’s face it, does anyone beyond a professional editor really know all the rules for the correct use of some of the more exotic punctuation marks that are out there?



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From the author of For Those In Peril On The Sea, a tale of post-apocalyptic survival in a world where zombie-like infected rule the land and all the last few human survivors can do is stay on their boats and try to survive. Now available in print and as a Kindle ebook. Click here or visit www.forthoseinperil.net to find out more. To download a preview of the first three chapters, click here.

To read the Foreword Clarion Review of For Those In Peril On The Sea (where it scored five stars out of five) click here.

Of Haikus And Zombies…

21 Jan

Haiku_Of_The_Dead_CoverFor those of you interested in the more quirky side of zombie fiction, there’s a new book just out called Haiku Of The Dead. As the title suggests, this slim volume (it’s 48 pages in length) contains zombie-based poems which follow the traditional Japanese Haiku format. This means each one is just 17 syllables in length set out in a 5, 7, 5 structure. I only received my contributor’s copy today (which I got because I wrote one of the haikus included in it), so I haven’t had a chance to do more than flick through it, but it looks like it would make an interesting, and different, addition to the book shelf of any zombie fan.



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From the author of For Those In Peril On The Sea, a tale of post-apocalyptic survival in a world where zombie-like infected rule the land and all the last few human survivors can do is stay on their boats and try to survive. Now available in print and as a Kindle ebook. Click here or visit www.forthoseinperil.net to find out more. To download a preview of the first three chapters, click here.

To read the Foreword Clarion Review of For Those In Peril On The Sea (where it scored five stars out of five) click here.

Do Infected And Zombies Symbolise Different Things?

20 Jan

When it comes to the zombie genre, there are two quite different types of monsters. These are the true zombies and the infected. True zombies are re-animated corpses and are usually taken to symbolise a fear of death and all the rotting and decaying that it entails. In contrast, the infected are still-living humans who have been turned into zombie-like creatures by a disease or some other agent.

Rather than symbolising a fear of death, I suspect that infected represent a fear of losing our identity. As humans, we are used to being aware of our own existence and of having a sense of self, yet in the modern world, it can be easy to feel like this individuality is being sapped from us. In particular, since the financial crisis started a few years ago, many people in western countries have found that the sense of control they had over their own lives has been gradually eroded. This, in turn, and can lead to the feeling that you are being swallowed up by life and that you are becoming lost within the crowd.

It is this feeling of losing your identity, and indeed any control over your life, which is represented by the infected. They’re not dead, rather they are you with everything that makes you an individual removed. If you become an infected, there’s nothing to differentiate you from anyone else: no personality, no individuality, no self-restraint. Your consciousness and your sense of self is gone, but yet your body carries on without you.

This is, I think, an innate human fear. While our conscious self cannot exist without our bodies, our bodies can exist without our conscious self. It’s as if the bit of us which we value most, our sense of self and who we are, has been bolted on to our physical being, almost as an after thought, and this gives us a certain fragility as we live in fear of the two becoming disconnected.

This is where the infected come in, they represent that innermost fear, one we face every night when our conscious self switches off as we sleep, but our body carries on doing what it has to do without us. And it’s not just a fear of losing ourselves, but losing those we love and care for, not physically, because they’ll still exist, but mentally. There can be nothing worse than being faced with someone you love, of seeing their face, of recognising them, but there being no hint remaining of what makes them them within the body you know so well.

We are, perhaps, able to accept this when it happens as part of the ageing process, but what if this were to happen to someone who was otherwise young and healthy? And not just to one person, but everyone we know. This is an altogether more frightening prospect. To suddenly find yourself in a world where everyone you know is still present, but yet at the same time not there, is surely as terrifying as being faced with the dead coming back to life.

While the infected remain alive, you cannot argue with them, you cannot reason with them, you cannot negotiate, or plead with them, or tug at their heart strings. All you can do is fight them or run, and this is what gives them the upper hand. While we dither, trying to decide what is the right thing to do in any given situation, they simply act. While we would hesitate when faced with an infected which was all that was left of a young child, it would not do the same and it would attack with no remorse. This, therefore, is at the heart of making the still-living infected such a horrifying prospect.



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From the author of For Those In Peril On The Sea, a tale of post-apocalyptic survival in a world where zombie-like infected rule the land and all the last few human survivors can do is stay on their boats and try to survive. Now available in print and as a Kindle ebook. Click here or visit www.forthoseinperil.net to find out more. To download a preview of the first three chapters, click here.

To read the Foreword Clarion Review of For Those In Peril On The Sea (where it scored five stars out of five) click here.

Book Giveaway: Signed Copies Of ‘For Those In Peril On The Sea’ and ‘Zombies Can’t Swim And Other Tales Of The Undead’

13 Jan

To mark the start of 2014, I’m giving away three sets of signed copies of For Those In Peril On The Sea and my recently released anthology of short stories Zombies Can’t Swim And Other Tales Of The Undead.

To be in with a chance of winning a set of these two books, just answer (very simple!) provided below:

The competition will be open until the end of January 2014, and is open to anyone aged 16 or older, and resident in any country in the world. Three winners will be randomly selected after the closing date, and they will be contacted by email. After that, the results will be posted here.

In the meantime, having taken a couple of weeks break over Christmas and New Year, I’ll be back to posting on this blog on a regular basis in the near future. You will be glad to know that I’ve been putting this time off to good use and have been working away on the sequel to For Those In Peril On The Sea, and, after a trick start, it’s finally back on track to be published in the summer of 2014!



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From the author of For Those In Peril On The Sea, a tale of post-apocalyptic survival in a world where zombie-like infected rule the land and all the last few human survivors can do is stay on their boats and try to survive. Now available in print and as a Kindle ebook. Click here or visit www.forthoseinperil.net to find out more. To download a preview of the first three chapters, click here.

To read the Foreword Clarion Review of For Those In Peril On The Sea (where it scored five stars out of five) click here.