#21: Puppy Preparedness
Hello again, my wonderful fellow brain-munchers,
I'm happy to report that despite Amazon's bizarre, somewhat bestial mistake in placing Dog of the Dead in the "Erotic Science Fiction" category for the first few days after it launched (feel free to insert your favorite "doggy style" or "dog bone" joke here...), my new book has done pretty well during its first month, and so far has been getting rave reviews across the board. For a four-legged mountain of flying fur, Quigley the dog has turned out to be a spectacularly popular hero, and he'll definitely be coming back for more adventures in my upcoming novels!
I've been doing some research lately to make sure I have my facts straight about Quigley's breed and temperament going forward into my Zombie Vale series. Quigley is a Komondor, a type of Hungarian sheepdog many people have never heard about. Komondors are large, powerful, extremely intelligent, and independent-minded dogs that were bred to be brave, stalwart guardians of livestock and property. They blend in with their flocks of sheep, and their thick, corded coats protect them from bites when fighting wolves and other predators (like... zombies, maybe?). Komondors are instantly recognizable because of their unusual coats, which often earns them the nickname "mop dogs". They're amazingly shaggy; I think maybe I like them so much because they kind of remind me a bit of what I looked like back in the nineties.
Choosing a Komondor for my post-apocalyptic pup-tagonist was a bit of a weird choice, admittedly. There are tons of dogs featured in end-of-the-world stories, but they're usually more standard "hero" dog breeds, like German Shepherds, mastiffs, labradors, huskies, etc. To my knowledge, a giant four-legged shag carpet has never taken the role of the canine hero in this type of story... which is partly why I chose a Komondor. I wanted an unconventional dog that was big, strong, and heroic... but also kind of goofy-looking. I love the idea of this brave guardian dog running around in a zombie apocalypse, helping people all over the place... meanwhile the scattered humans he encounters are almost more shocked by the sight of this weird-looking dog than they are by the zombies, wondering: "What in the world IS that thing?!"
But here's the thing. Although Dog of the Dead mostly happens in the first hour or two after the zombie apocalypse begins, my series' timeline will go on for much longer than that. And if there's one thing that I know about post-apocalyptic stories... it's that heroes get nasty. Not Negan-cracking-people-over-the-head-with-a-barbed-wire-bat nasty, no. What I mean is dirty nasty. Filthy, ragged, and probably super stinky. You never really see scenes of people trimming their fingernails, manscaping their bodies, or even lathering up in a hot bubble bath in a post-apocalyptic movie, do you? No way. They're running around, fighting monsters, rolling around in dirt, sludge and gore, sweating buckets, slopping zombie gunge all over themselves, and almost never changing their dirty underwear (which I'm sure are dirty, because if I were ever surrounded by zombies in a spooky junkyard or an abandoned shopping mall, my colon and all of its contents would immediately turn to hot margarine).
Ugh. Can you imagine how dirty we would all get if we were living in a post-apocalyptic world? I come back from a weekend camping trip and I feel like I need to be hosed down like in the opening scene of a prison movie. Heck, if I ride my bike for thirty minutes on a hot summer day, I smell like a freshly untombed jungle mummy, and about 28% of my underwear's fabric immediately decomposes on my butt in a pool of salty sweat. Man... if the apocalypse ever happens, I think I'll basically turn into Swamp Thing!
I mean, sure, in The Walking Dead, heroes like Maggie and Darryl look pretty hot, in a greasy, grungy, I've just come back from a gentle hike kind of way. But let's be honest here. If they crawled out of your TV right now from their alternate universe, all sweaty and grubby from their gory zombie-slaying adventures, they'd probably smell worse than the men's poorly ventilated bathroom on the last day of the World Pork Expo right after a hearty convention lunch of baby back ribs, cured pork sausage links, ham and beans, and a heaping bowl of bacon cabbage soup.
Note: This last bit was a nod to my delightful father-in-law Robert, who apparently also reads my newsletter. Robert and I had an odd conversation lately where he expressed his disappointment in me writing for so many monthly fart jokes without once mentioning the hellish, nose-hair singeing, soul-destroying odors which wafted from the public restrooms at the hotel convention center where he used to work, where a major pork producer convention happens every year. There you go, Robert. I have acknowledged and validated your nasal trauma. Yes: extreme pork consumption leads to terribly smelly BMs. Happy now? Cool. Now please write me back into your will, okay?
Anyway, all this to say that I had to figure out how my fur-covered quadruped would stay somewhat clean if he's spending his days running around, fighting zombies, and surviving in an unhygienic post-apocalyptic hellscape. Because who's going to want to hang out with Quigley if he smells like a pile of hot, wet, decomposing meat garbage? So I joined a Komondor owner's group on Facebook, and asked them for advice about post-apocalyptic dog grooming. I was swarmed with so many fantastic, enthusiastic responses that I now have tons of super useful information and ideas for Quigley going forward. For example, one of the more disturbing factoids I came across is that Komondors, given their thick pelts, often show up from their outdoor jaunts with hidden gifts in tow, hiding in their coats. Twigs, bugs, etc. So... it's very possible that Quigley's future friends might come across a stray zombie finger or two buried within his pelt while grooming him! Now there's a scene you won't find in The Walking Dead!
Either way, I now have a realistic, well-researched plan to keep Quigley tolerably hygienic throughout his upcoming adventures. His human companions, however... well, we'll see about that. Let's just hope for their sake that it rains a lot.
If you haven't read it yet, you can get a copy of Dog of the Dead (eBook or paperback) at the link below. It's also available for free if you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited. The audiobook is also in production right now, and I have a TERRIFIC narrator voicing Quigley's inner doggy monologue!
Meanwhile, Zillionaire: Zombie Apocalypse Survival for the Rich & Famous is finally set to launch on July 31st! I had hoped to publish this book a little sooner, but my co-author Ken Fosse and I were waiting for something really important: cover blurbs from two of my favorite authors! Here they are: you'll see them on the print edition of Zillionaire when it launches in a few weeks:
“With ZILLIONAIRE, Nic Roads and Ken Fosse bring biting humor, social satire, and awesome insights to the zombie genre! Two decaying thumbs up!”
"Hilarious and horrifying. I wish I was rich enough for this advice to apply to me."
James Breakwell, author of Only Dead on the Inside: A Parent’s Guide to Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse
Zillionaire will be available for pre-order very soon... I'll send you a quick email as soon as it's up!
As I've mentioned in past issues, my family and I are getting a new puppy very soon! Despite our already busy family schedule, obviously, we're suckers for punishment... especially if said punishment comes as a furry, diminutive, probably incontinent bundle of puppy-eyed chaos.
We all went to visit the four-week old pups a week ago to help us decide which one we'd be taking home with us later this summer. They were all so insanely adorable that I wanted to adopt all seven of them... but we had to choose one. (Also, apparently kidnapping a litter of puppies is somewhat frowned upon... sigh...) And JUST as I write these words, we got a call from the breeder to let us know that our number one pick is still available (we were number three of seven on the waitlist, so we had our fingers crossed that we would get one of our favorites!). We're getting the black and white heartbreaker you can see in the photos, the little dude with the pink smudges on his tiny black nose. He's one of the only two males from the seven puppies, and one of only three with the black and white coat. His temporary litter name is Junior Mint, which just happens to be one of our favorite candies here... so it was meant to be! But we're still debating what his final name will be, and trying out a few options. I'll let you know in my next newsletter. It'll be another 4-5 weeks until he joins our family... we're so excited!
As I explain in the afterword of Dog of the Dead, when I was a kid, we adopted a large dog to help keep us safe following a serious threat to our family. But I haven't had a dog in over twenty years now, so I'm kind of rusty when it comes to dog training. I'm listening to lots of puppy-training podcasts right now, reading books, watching Youtube videos, and speaking with some friends and family members who've recently raised a puppy to help get ready for our new arrival. But if you're an experienced dog owner and you happen to have some great tips or wisdom for a new puppy parent, please feel free to pass them along!
ZOMBIE MOVIE REVIEW
I finally got around to watching The Sadness, a Taiwanese horror movie that somewhat falls within the wider zombie genre, if you're willing to include non-undead "zombies" like the ones seen in movies like 28 Days Later or The Crazies, or books like Hater by David Moody, or Cell by Stephen King. This specific plague doesn't turn people into traditional "undead" zombies as we see in The Walking Dead or George Romero movies - instead, a rabies variant suddenly makes countless people turn into predatory, sadistic, blood-thirsty maniacs who start rampaging through cities, hunting down the uninfected, and doing unspeakable acts of violence to them. The movie mostly focuses on a young couple who are trying to reunite and survive despite the madness unfolding around them.
This is a very well directed movie, intense, frantic, and terrifying, with convincing performances by the well-rounded cast. Within the horror genre, there are many who consider this to be a masterpiece. However, I can't recommend this for squeamish viewers, or for anybody who might be triggered by realistic scenes of extreme violence, realistic gore, and shocking depravity. The infected in this story are still conscious, self-aware, and intelligent, despite their brutal madness. They gleefully run around inflicting horrific suffering and even sexual violence to their victims, and some of the scenes are among the most disturbing I've ever seen, even within the zombie genre. DO NOT watch this unless you REALLY know what you're stepping into.
The Sadness is streaming on Shudder and Amazon Prime video, depending on your location. You can watch the trailer at the link below.
OTHER ZOMBIE AUTHORS TO CHECK OUT
If you've read Dog of the Dead and are already barking for some more dog-centric zombie apocalypse content (there aren't too many of us writing in this sub-sub-category, that's for sure!), check out Doug Goodman's Zombie Dog series, starting with book 1: Cadaver Dog. Here's a quick message from the author:
Hello. My name is Doug Goodman. I wrote the “Zombie Dog Series” based on my time training human remains dogs in search and rescue. I wanted to write a small story about the local response to zombies, but I also wanted to write books about the realities of SAR volunteers and their hero dogs. Cadaver Dog is that combination of love and pain, but also the excitement of the trail and the terror of what lies at its end. I hope you take a chance on my book, so I reduced the Kindle to .99 from June 28 to June 30.
Training a dog to track a zombie is like training any other dog. It takes patience, trust, and the right dog-and-handler team. And to not be afraid of zombies.
Cadaver Dog: Book 1 in the Zombie Dog Series.
When Angie Graves is approached with the idea of training a dog to hunt zombies, she thinks this is a bad idea. She’s worked all kinds of dogs, including cadaver. But for this line of work, she needs a different kind of dog, and the only one available is a dog she rescued, a dog named Murder. The problem is, Murder is nothing like a hero dog. He’s scarred emotionally and physically. He’s slow to trust, has a mischievous mind, and obsesses over a chicken toy. But if he and Angie can learn to work together, they may be able to solve the riddle of where the zombies come from, and why they’re snatching up people. Cadaver Dog is a tender and terrifying story.
For readers of Nic Roads’ newsletter, I’m marking the Kindle down to .99 on Amazon June 28 through June 30 to encourage you to explore the world of monsters and the dogs that chase them.
Or copy the following URL into your browser: https://www.amazon.com/Cadaver-Dog-Doug-Goodman-ebook/dp/B013HDK25Y
If you've already read some of Courtney Konstantin's fantastic zombie apocalypse Sundown series, you should know that the sixth book Ruination is finally out, and preorders for the audiobook are open on Audible!
Montana calls to him and all he wants is to take his family home.
Rafe Duncan isn't the oldest of his siblings, but he felt the pressure of responsibility just the same. He dedicated his life to keeping their family compound running and his goal was to get them back there, alive.
At the beginning of the zombie apocalypse, Rafe couldn’t have foreseen what was to come. As he watched society break down, bringing his family together was his first goal. Now after all they had lost, he wanted safety for them all.
‘The Suit’ stood between the Duncans and freedom. The self appointed government leader had taken much from them in the beginning months of the apocalypse and he continued to be looming danger over their heads.
As the Duncans try to make plans to get home, ‘The Suit’ creates chaos by kidnapping one of their own. Rafe will stop at nothing to get back what has been taken from him and is determined to end the threat to his family. Rafe knows not everyone will survive the apocalypse.
Author Courtney Konstantin brings you along an exciting, heart wrenching, dangerous ride in this series finale. Be sure not to miss this sixth installment of The Sundown Series! One-Click to grab this thriller today!
Or paste this link in your browser: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09YMQXDF3
If you haven't yet discovered Courtney's books, start where it all began with book 1: Prepared: https://amzn.to/3HXFVVz
Finally, if you're hankering for some military-style, US Navy vs zombies action, check out Jeff Thomson's You're Never Ready for a Zombie Apocalypse
The crew of the USCG Buoy Tender Sassafras, out of Honolulu, has embodied the Coast Guard’s motto: Always Ready, in every mission, every circumstance, every crazy thing Mother Nature and the US Government has seen fit to dump in their laps. They’ve been doing so much, with so little, for so long, they feel ready to face anything.
But then, they’ve never had to face a zombie apocalypse.
That's about it for me! The next couple of months are going to be pretty busy: summer vacation with my family, doing lots of post-surgical physiotherapy for my knee, welcoming our new puppy, launching Zillionaire, and wrapping up the production of Dog of the Dead's audiobook version. After that, it'll be full steam ahead for Zombie Vale 1: In the Flesh. Thanks so much for sticking with me through all of this, for reading (and even reviewing) my stories, and for your ongoing encouragement and support. I feel so lucky and privileged to have you as a reader!
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