Belinda Frisch, Guest Blogger

Recently, my good friend, Belinda Frisch, released her novel, Cure. In support of the release, I asked Belinda if she wanted to do a guest spot on my blog. She agreed and wouldn’t tell me the topic of her blog until I received it yesterday. Needless to say (yet I will anyway), I was humbled by her words…

Hey there, Type AJ Negative followers. I feel like I’m among kindred here because we have this wonderful friend in common, Jeff Brown. AJ, if you will. Herbie if he’s being shy, naughty, or moderating this blog.

A couple of years ago I wrote this short story, Cure, and Tales of the Zombie War picked it up. You know TOZW and this great series they have going, Dredging Up Memories? Well, Cure was a seed, a tiny little idea that hadn’t reached its full potential. That was November 2010. Fast forward to June 2012 and there have been a lot of changes. For one, I’ve developed my writing abilities far beyond where I was two years ago. Dead Spell, my YA novella, was my first experience with long-form writing and I fell in love with it.

Luckily, Jeff and his wife, Cate, enjoyed reading Dead Spell. Jeff sent me a great review and pointed out a few, eh hem, flaws. So embarrassing, but a lesson worth learning: no matter how many times you look at things, you’ll miss something. This brings me to the point of my guest post: AJ rocks. Yes, you heard it here, folks, and while I can imagine his cheeks blushing with embarrassment, he deserves some major praise.

Not only is he a talented author and a devoted, voracious reader, he is also a genuinely brilliant editor. When it came time that Cure needed its turn with the red pen, there wasn’t anyone else I wanted to work with more than Jeff. He is thorough, attentive, and committed. He is what made me be able to sing from the rooftops that I’m the author of Cure. I’m not afraid of flaws because Jeff made sure there weren’t any. He helped me put out a top-quality novel and I’m forever indebted to the countless hours he spent listening to me whine on Facebook chat.

You see, a good editor has an eye for plot holes, character flaws, grammar, punctuation, and spelling. He can spot when some dialect needs tweaking and is fluent in redneck, which came in handy writing my character, Billy. Jeff pointed out places where he felt things could be done better or different and I ran with them. I didn’t question him when he said, “no way this character would do or say that.” I followed his sage advice and I know, without a doubt, that Cure is better for it. I call dibs on him for Afterbirth, Cure’s sequel, so be prepared to arm-wrestle me for his attention in another few months.

We’ve all been watching AJ’s trial with the day job and his vacillations between writer, editor, and productive member of corporate America. There are a lot of reasons to question publishing these days, not the least of which is favoritism and nepotism over talent, but writers and editors like AJ are a rare breed. Talented and not afraid of hard work, I know his faith will pull him through. I hope my cheerleading helps him the way that his has helped me.

Now, to talk a bit about our “baby”.

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Here’s the official blurb for Cure:

“Dark, disturbing, and deliciously addictive”
–R.A. Evans, author of Asylum Lake

Welcome to the Nixon Healing and Research Center, refuge for the indigent sick, and playground for the maniacal Dr. Howard Nixon whose cancer research has him dabbling in the undead. His human-zombie breeding program is falling apart and only Miranda Penton can save it.

Miranda gave up her budding military career to marry a fellow soldier but when their first child is stillborn, it’s more tragedy than their new marriage can handle. One year later, following her painful divorce, Miranda accepts an unexpected job offer to join Nixon’s security team. Her recruitment is part of Nixon’s dark plan and she quickly becomes one of his captives.

Nixon impregnates Miranda with a zombie fetus, but her imprisonment at the center is short-lived. A rescue team led by Scott, her estranged ex-husband, releases her and the infected on the unsuspecting hospital population.

The virus is spreading and must be contained. The center is going into lock-down. The group’s escape is threatened by a homicidal security guard and a raging storm. The town of Strandville is ground zero for the zombie apocalypse and Miranda must escape because the fate of humanity lies with her unborn child.

Only 5-star reviews so far, which is a testament to both my and Jeff’s hard work. Here’s what a couple of readers have said:

“Lets face it, original is hard to come by. Everything has been done and tried. But what makes a book unique and refreshingly stimulating, is the author’s ability to breathe life into their characters, and send them on a course that you are compelled to follow along. Cure delivers just that. It is a rotten breath of fresh air with a premise that I haven’t seen in any other Zombie novels.”

“I purchased this book for my Kindle on release day. Once I started reading, I was immediately drawn into the story and could not/ did not want to put it down until I read the entire story in one sitting! Without giving away the story, the author pulls you into a dark and twisted world, full of vividly graphic details that keep you in suspense as you delve deeper into the story to see what happens next. Immediately frustrated after reading the last words on the page because I can’t move on to the sequel! Ugh! I want to read more…I want to know what happens next! ! Drama, horror, suspense, love, loss and some intense zombie action…you can check all the boxes!”

As part of this guest post, I’m giving away (2) Kindle copies to randomly selected commenters. Tell me why you love zombies or confess your biggest medical fear and you’re in the running. Stay tuned for winner announcements on June 30th. I’ll need your email address to send them. Good luck and thanks for hanging with me.

Author Bio:

Belinda Frisch’s fiction has appeared in Shroud Magazine, Dabblestone Horror, and Tales of Zombie War. She is an honorable mention winner in the Writer’s Digest 76th Annual Writing Competition and the author of DEAD SPELL, CRISIS HOSPITAL, TALES FROM THE WORLD, THE WARD, AND THE BEDSIDE and the newly released CURE, the first in the Strandville Zombie Series.

You can find me blogging about writing and reading on my blog . My Facebook fan page is the best place to stay current with giveaways, reviews, and upcoming projects. I Tweet, randomly, about my books and others’ at @B_Frisch. And my Amazon author fan page lists all my available titles.

Thanks, AJ, for hosting me and for helping me make Cure the best it can be.

A Book Review: Dead Spell By Belinda Frisch

I would like to be up front about something before I go forth with this book review: I am not a book reviewer. There are reasons for this. One reason is that when I am editing others’ work, I am often a bit harsh. On occasion, writers of those works at those moments didn’t care much for how I went about explaining things. I used to be soft of folks so it took a while for me to be brutally honest about someone’s work. I’ve found sometimes you have to be a little rough on folks to get their attention, to make them listen. While I do tend to be hard on folks, I rarely ever end an editing job without something positive to say. For me, I try to balance the negatives with the positives in order that the writer can see that, even if he/she is struggling with a particular issue, there is hope and giving up should not be an option.

With that in mind, I don’t review many books simply because, though I know I can give fair and impartial thoughts, sometimes the writer simply can’t handle my opinion or the way I give it. The key word there is opinion. The other reason is I am a notoriously slow reader. It’s not that I can’t read fast–I can when I have to–but I don’t like to breeze through stories and not get the full effect the writer intended.

However, I got my keyboard calloused fingers on a book about six or so weeks ago and, after reading the first couple of pages, I was engrossed in the story. Ten minutes and twenty-five pages later I stopped reading. Did you catch that? Twenty-five pages in ten minutes (or maybe fifteen, but definitely no more than that). That’s a lot for me in such a small span of time.

I set the book down just long enough for my wife to pick it up and begin reading it. In my household that is all of about three seconds. She read it in a couple of hours and told me, “You really need to finish this book.” Finishing the book was my intention before the lovely lady picked it up.

I turned back to the first page and started over. I read through half the book that night and finished it the next day. For a person who takes six months to finish a three hundred page book, that’s quite an accomplishment.

Five paragraphs in to this, one would think I would have already offered up the title of the book and the author or even a little bit about this novel, but I havenn’t. On purpose. Remember, I’m not a book reviewer. So, I need you, the reader, to understand that though I am a writer, I am a reader (just like you) and I like to be engrossed in what I am reading. Understand? Good.

Dead Spell, by Belinda Frisch, is my type of book. It’s quick paced, but not all action all the time. There are enough descriptions to get the feel of the scenery and the people in it without overdoing it. And it has something that not many stories have (at least for me): a few really good cringe-worthy scenes. If you can make me squirm just a little, then you’ve done your job, and Belinda Frisch did her job.

A brief synopsis without giving too much away: Teen-aged Harmony struggles with living in a world where her mom has issues of her own and a ghostly figure named Tom haunts her on a regular basis. Her best friend, Brea, also has problems, but not nearly to the extent as Harmony. Brea has to help Harmony figure out who Tom is before it’s too late–for both of them.

I can’t really say too much more without spoilers, so I’ll try and talk around it a little.

As the story unfolds we find out how tight the bond is between the two girls and how Brea’s mother wants nothing more than for her to stay away from Harmony. There is a bit of mystery behind her reasons, which in the end, make complete sense. We also get to see more of Tom, the apparition tormenting Harmony, as well as Brea’s boyfriend and mother, who are somewhat over protective and, in the mother’s case, overbearing.

Again, I am not one to give away all the information, but in the end, the story takes an unexpected turn that gave me a satisfying smile. And that’s pretty hard to do these days.

This book could have easily taken that turn into young adult horror, but it stayed in the more adult arena. That is my opinion. Others may disagree and I’m fine with that. It does have the feel of a young adult title, but it also has things in there that definitely fit the more adult crowd. There are drugs, a bit of sex (and who doesn’t like them a bit of sex?), some paranormal activity, some violence, both inflicted upon and self-inflicted by the characters. There are lies and deceit and… gasps… a little bit of romance as well, but not too much and not enough to make me gag, thankfully. There is heartache and a bit of redemption as well. There are no glittery vampires or hunky werewolves and that made me a happy reader.

The real key to this book is not only the story, but the ease at which it was written. There is no flowery language to wade through, no purple prose. The characters come to life and, believe me, when certain events happen, you feel it. There is no extra padding of descriptions in order to make the story longer. It comes in at a relatively modest 198 pages, which is right around the forty to fifty thousand word mark. Belinda Frisch’s writing in Dead Spell is simple and easy to read.

If you like heavy descriptions and a lot of fluff, then this book is not for you. However, if you like a quick paced, easy to read story, you’ve found your book of choice in Dead Spell.

Will everyone like this book? Probably not. Nothing is ever liked by everyone. Will the majority enjoy Dead Spell? I am going to say they would. What I find refreshing about this novel is that it was written with the reader in mind, not the editor, not the publisher. It’s a story that the reader can understand without having to go back and reread portions of it just to ‘make sure.’ You don’t get lost when the plot takes an unexpected turn. I like that.

Everyone has a rating system of stars and what have you. What can my rating system be? Let me see… Stars? No. Skulls? No. Bones? No. Hair follicles? Yeah, right. How about blood drops? Sure, that works. I give Dead Spell five out of five richly red blood drops. Go pick up a copy. I think you’ll like it.

You can purchase Dead Spell at Amazon

Also, check out Belinda Frisch’s home page at:
Belinda Frisch, Writer With A Dark Side

In the Interest of Writing…

In the interest of writing:

Flash Fiction Chronicles, a website dedicated to flash fiction (obvious, right?) puts out a daily dose of advice on writing and publishing. It is owned by Every Day Publishing who also owns Every Day Fiction and Every Day Poets. You can subscribe to all three of the publications through your e-mail and get those daily updates with articles, stories or poetry (all three if you subscribe to all three).

I’ve found many of the articles at Flash Fiction Chronicles to be informative and entertaining. Does that sound like a cheesy infomercial to you? Just picture me holding a Shamway in a Snuggie while saying that…

There are several regular contributors to FFC and often times they are witty in their articles–I would be lying if I said I haven’t chuckled a time or a hundred while reading. My favorite of these contributors is Aubrey Hirsch. I like the way she writes and her Dating Advice for Writers is a terrific piece relating writing/submitting into dating terms, which I am sure all of us can relate to in one way, shape or form.

Oh and there’s one other tidbit that I would like to share about Flash Fiction Chronicles: they are always on the lookout for articles related to the writing business, whether it’s on the craft of writing or publishing or marketing. If you would like to write an article for FFC, check out their guidelines HERE

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My friend, Deborah Walker, has a postcard sized story titled Grandma’s Cottage up at Postcard Shorts. Give it a read if you will and explore the site for other stories under 250 words in length.

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Also, check out Belinda Frisch’s blog page, Belinda Frisch, Writer with a Dark Side. It’s informative, with great links to other blogs, and entertaining–a great combination. While you are at it, check out her novel, Dead Spell. It’s there on your left with links to the various places you can purchase it. You’ll like Belinda and you’ll enjoy her writing. Go ahead, check her out–I mean, the book. Come on, men, get your heads out of the gutters.

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Beneath the Surface of Things by Kevin Wallis is one of the best single author collections you will find this year. Twenty-five stories that tingle the spine. I’ve yet to read a negative review on this collection. Kevin is a tremendous author who continually crafts terrific story after terrific story. There is something for almost everyone in this collection. Pick one up today–you won’t be sorry.

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Normally I like to say something witty or leave you with a lasting impression. Today, I have nothing witty to say. Sad, I know. So, I’ll leave you with this: It’s time to get my sanity on…