A Date with Kai Kiriyama and Pathogen: Patient Zero

I’m so lucky to get to do a post for a lovely writer I hope you all come to know and love like I do. Kai Kiriyama has now published her second book, Pathogen: Patient Zero through Lemorn Literary Works.   

Kai was great enough to talk a little about her book and zombies for me so without further ado, a little zombie talk with Kai.

First off, I would like to say hello to everyone and a HUGE thank you to Red for hosting me on this, the very last stop of the Pathogen: Patient Zero blog tour. It’s been a pretty crazy 10 days and I’ve met and chatted with so many awesome people about my new book and about writing and life in general. I wouldn’t be here without the support of my peers and my friends and there are not enough words to thank you all for the support you’ve given me.

 

All right, enough of the sappy thank you crap. Let’s talk Zombies.

 

So, it’s pretty obvious that I’m a bit of a zombie nut. I mean, Pathogen is slated to be a trilogy. I have been working for Zombie Training Magazine (www.zombietraining.com) for over a year now and a serial novel of mine is being published there as well. My room is full of zombie stuff. I have a bunch of Walking Dead merchandise. I have met several key cast members. I have a little inflatable zombie punching bag on my desk that I named Joe and I use for stress relief when I’m busy writing. Hell, I have weapons in my room so that they’re close at hand in case of zombies. It’s pretty safe to say that I’m a little bit obsessed.

Now, I’m not saying that “holy hell, YES, zombies are gonna happen like tomorrow! Prepare! PREEEPAAARE!”

 

Mostly ’cause that’s crazy.

 

On the other hand, being prepared for a “zombie apocalypse” means that you’re very likely prepared to deal with a natural disaster or other major catastrophe. I’m rebuilding my emergency kits in my home, and I’m planning one for my mom’s car. Simple things like a 72 hour emergency kit – something that even the CDC tells you that you should have – are great steps forward in preparing yourself for zombies. Or floods, fires, hurricanes, tornadoes, winter storms that knock out the power, or even major threats to a city like bomb threats.

 

To be honest, I also wanna get out of the city. I want a farm. If you’re familiar with Walking Dead, then you’ll know Hershel and his farm. I want something like that. But with a prison wall around the property. I’m not paranoid. I promise.

 

In one of the first stops on this tour, you’ll remember that I said that zombies are the one monster in pop culture that hasn’t “lost their bite” and I still stand by that. Zombies are scary as hell. They’re the one thing that you really can’t make sexy. (Unless you’re into necrophilia, and in that case I’d suggest that you walk away and please don’t talk to me.) Zombies are dead, rotting corpses. They are killing machines. They don’t feel pain, and they’re only after their next meal. Like undead sharks. (And I think I just wrote a B-movie. I’ll keep y’all posted on Necro-Shark.)

 

Zombies are the one monster that could theoretically happen at any given time. A lab accident that mutates salmonella, or a virus unearthed from deep inside the Congo. Or, and this is my personal theory, the makeup companies learn how to revive dead cells to make women appear younger and then that gets out of control and BOOM, we have zombies. Scary when you think about it, right? Especially in that context!

Zombie evolution

Anyway, I’m a fan of zombies, and I write zombie stories because it’s something that I love and want to share with everyone else. I really think that my stories are a little bit more unique than the standard run-and-kill stories and I hope that they’re something that you all will read and enjoy.

 

Thank you again for coming with me on this crazy journey full of undead mayhem and stuff. It’s been rad. I hope to hear from y’all soon, and I really hope that you’ll all read Pathogen: Patient Zero and lemme know what you think.

 

A question for you before I go, answer me in the comments: What’s your zombie apocalypse theory? How do you think the zombies are gonna start and what are you doing to prepare?

 

Thanks again!

Slainte,

-Kai Kiriyama

xoxo

 

 

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New Contesty Thing!

So I loved the amazing stories I got last time, I’ve decided to do another contest! There will be Inspiration Dice involved! I will only give a blurb this time (no quizzes about me!) and you write 500 words or less to add to it. There might be some other things besides the dice for the winner, but you won’t know unless you try! You have from today until Sunday May 5th to get entries in. I will announce a winner on Wednesday May 8th.

And here’s the start to your mini-story:

The bus stopped with a jerk. Passengers closest to the windows crammed their faces to the glass while the rest pushed themselves up to see what the commotion was about.

And you’re off! Make it funny, make it scary, add some drama. Do whatever you please to write a great story!

My First Ever Writers’ Conference

I walked into my hotel room, hopped on to my fluffy pillowtop bed and relaxed. Tomorrow was the unexpected—my first writers’ conference. A weekend of being surrounded by other writers. Would they all be more advanced than me? The info for the University of Wisconsin Writers’ Institute (UWWI) said writers of all levels were welcome. The sessions offered looked interesting. The Female Superhero. Earning Your Artistic Stripes. The Deep Edit. As long as I could learn a thing or two, it would be worth it.
Then it was day one. Somewhere I read there would be food, but we all know that means maybe a dinky pastry or two so I ate my hotel’s continental breakfast, stuffed my bag with Poptarts and granola bars, and headed to catch the shuttle. I thought I missed the shuttle which turns out it was just late so I huffed it over to the Madison Concourse Hotel. Sweaty, I followed the herd to the lines of those registering. My food assumption was way wrong as I stood next to giant tables filled with pastries, fruit, coffee, tea, juice, and made a mental note to chow down on a second breakfast after I checked in.
The Concourse was a new venue for the UWWI but they’ve been doing this for 24 years so they know their stuff. I looked through the binder I received. It had notes for every session offered which came in very handy when trying to narrow down choices of which session to hit at which time since there were typically four going on in the same time frame.  Opting out of doing any agent pitches, I could focus on the other sessions. I’m still editing my first book and didn’t feel ready to pitch. I am an honest person in some situations and knowing I was ranting about an unfinished work doesn’t thrill me. I’m still ok with this decision and don’t regret it. It was my first conference and not feeling pressured while I was still getting the lay of the land worked out perfect for me.
The first panel was a group of published authors that freely discussed the secrets of published authors. They had good info and I ended up seeing two of them in sessions they presented for. I chose YA trends, How to write a Query letter, and the Deep Edit for day one.  A panel of agents ended our day. So much good info.
Day two was more of the same goodness. Another panel with local publishers started our day. One of the deciding factors in coming to the conference was an agent I Twitterstalk (yes, I freely admit it). She spoke about YA trends and researching/querying agents, but gave more info from a different perspective. I love that you could have duplicate topics that were really different because one was from an author’s perspective and one from the agent’s. I also went to Plotting, Earning Your Artistic Stripes, and The Sane Writing the Insane: Keeping the Dark on the page. Somewhere in the last three, I learned vodka is great for getting through tough scenes (feel free to use whatever method loosens and relaxes you. Point is, relax before the tough scenes). These authors/speakers were candid and offered their email/info should we have questions. The support was unreal. They had a book signing with all the authors, many of whom were success stories from previous UWWI’s, and we got to see all their pretty, shiny babies. I touched the books and dreamed that I could be one of those people someday.
If you ever debate if you should consider going to one of these conferences, I would urge you to do it. I am already saving up for next year! The opportunity to meet people who can become your CP’s or support group is fantastic along with the priceless information that authors who have gone through the publishing process can give. And the access to agents and publishers! You can touch them (though I wouldn’t recommend getting caught. They might think you’ve lost your fruit loops). There are tons of different conferences, workshops, and institutes across the country so do a little research for one that works for your budget and timeframe.  Even if you’re shy, you’ll learn great things from experienced authors and agents that might just spark your imagination. I came up with at least 3 new ideas from a few authors mentioning a couple of words. In fact, during plotting I was plotting one of them! Who knew a joke about downing vodka and pills for the end of the world would spur an idea (Thanks Tanya Chernov).  Did I mention there were a few 80 year old men in the sessions on YA and we all had a lovely discussion as to why there is a market for OA (old adult or golden adult) but no such designation for books? Such gems and more can be yours if you’re brave enough to sign up and go.

A little about me

So, now that the contest is over, I figured you were all dying to know the real answers. In most cases, I loved your answers better than the truth, but life is crazy like that so I’m stuck with the hand I’m dealt!

1. What color is my hair? Fluorescent Orange! Hehe, just kidding. Auburn or red

2. What movie(s) have I seen over 50 times? Aliens, Pride and Prejudice, Starship Troopers, Princess Bride. Goonies is probably at about 20 times along with The Covenant. This list could go on forever since I own so many movies!

3. What is my favorite writing place? If anyone has ever read the other blog I participate on (Samurai Scribes) Common Grounds coffee shop is my writing place of choice.

4. What is my biggest pet peeve at my writing place? Noisy people drive me nuts when I’m writing.

5. What is my middle name? Ann

6. What is my cat’s name? Trix

7. What is my birthday? December 27th

8. What animal would my Patronus be? A Unicorn

9. What is my favorite Disney Princess? Ariel or Merida. It is a hard toss-up between the two.

10. What is my favorite candy? Gummies. Bonus points would have been Dots. Double bonus points Tropical Dots.

11. How many siblings do I have? 1 sister

12. Name a show I watch (hint: I’ve probably tweeted about it!) Arrow, Supernatural, The Walking Dead, The Voice, Castle, Lost Girl

13. What Kickstarter did I recently give to? Most recent was Veronica Mars (did you see the GIF?) or Inspiration Dice. The only two I’ve given to!

Thank you all for participating! I will definitely have something like this again.

Give away Plan B

Ok, so my whole purpose of the give away wasn’t just to give stuff away! It was for people to make stuff up. Since using my info seems to scare people away, I’m going a slightly simpler route. I will give you a sentence and you will make up 250 words or less to add to it. Again, the prizes are: A copy of Save the Cat by Blake Snyder, a unicorn, and a movie of the winner(s) choice: The Goonies, Skyfall, The Princess Bride, Wreck-It Ralph, Brave, or The Guardians. I might also add extra goodies. So now, here’s your sentence:

The little red haired girl looked furtively into the dark forest.

Contest ends Monday March 25th 8pm CST.

A GIVE AWAY!

So I’ve seen quite a few give aways on other blogs and Twitter and wanted to do one myself. I have no special reason other than I love giving gifts so you get to reap the benefits. I will ask a series of questions. Please answer in the comments section or if you’re secretive of your answers, you may DM on Twitter–seeredwrite. Closest to correct or most creative answers will win prizes! Up for grabs are: A copy of Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat, a cute Unicorno, and a movie. Movie choices will be: The Goonies, Skyfall, Princess Bride, Rise of the Guardians, Wreck-It Ralph, or Brave. I might throw in a few extra goodies in there 😀 So get those creative caps on and give me some fun answers! Give me really fun answers and hey there.

 

https://i1.wp.com/www.reactiongifs.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/wink.gif

Ok, on to the questions!

1. What color is my hair?

2. What movie(s) have I seen over 50 times?

3. What is my favorite writing place?

4. What is my biggest pet peeve at my writing place?

5. What is my middle name?

6. What is my cat’s name?

7. What is my birthday?

8. What animal would my Patronus be?

9. What is my favorite Disney Princess?

10. What is my favorite candy?

11. How many siblings do I have?

12. Name a show I watch (hint: I’ve probably tweeted about it!)

13. What Kickstarter did I recently give to?

You have until Monday 3/25/13 8pm CST. Remember, creativity counts! Now go forth and have fun! 😀

Editing with the help of my friends…and the whole village.

As this whole writing, editing, publishing (eventually) stuff is all new to me, so are aspects that relate to these that I never even thought about. Take CPs and betas, for instance. Much is discussed on this topic, but no hard and set rules seem to agree on finding these mythological creatures. Critique partners (CPs) are people who read your early drafts and help fix problems and mistakes you may have. They are people you can turn to when you’re unsure of what to do in a story. At least, that’s my early definition of them.

Talking about them is so much easier than finding them. I really just want to tweet, “So, I’ve finished a new draft of YA creepy circus story. Any takers?” but the problem with that is—too many cooks in the kitchen. Letting people read your work can help, but those who truly understand your goals and writing style are the best help of all. I can have 20 people read my story and get 20 different thoughts on every aspect of it. The thought of that gives me hives (and I’ve never had hives).

So many different people who each think you should change something. I’m only mildly nervous about changing things. I know that it’s inevitable so I am prepared that there will be changes, but what happens when no one can agree on anything? I hate the main characters. I love the main characters. Why did you make the monkey so mean? I love that creepy mean monkey. You get the drift.

So far, I haven’t let that many people read my story because I have no clue how to approach people on reading my story. I’ve already had some no shows who said they would do it and then…crickets. Nothing. I get that people have lives so I understand this and it’s not a big deal, but it has made me less likely to try it out with more people. I hate imposing on people. The other thing I’m finding is the difference of opinions–what I write and what people who read it for me may write or their tastes in stories varies enough that it’s not necessarily a good fit. It’s hard to get notes of what to change when you think it is more a difference of opinion rather than a spot that really needs work. How do you know the difference?

Slowly, as I keep fixing this monster, I understand more and more about my writing, about who to turn to in helping me with my writing, and how to get better at all of it. I am still light in the whole CP department and as for beta readers, I think I will save those for when I think I am done or darn close to it. All I can do is keep trying to make the best book possible and ask for help along the way. If there are people willing to give it a look see, I will thank my lucky stars for them. As I get notes and opinions, I will have to decide for myself what I feel is helpful and what isn’t. I always did like the guess and check method!

How about you? How have you found CPs and/or betas? I love hearing how other people do things.

Helpful sites about CPs and finding them:

http://www.cpseek.com/

http://www.ladieswhocritique.com/

http://www.publishingcrawl.com/2012/12/05/finding-a-critique-partner/

http://writetodone.com/tag/critique-partners/