Review: Bring Me Flesh, I’ll Bring Hell by Martin Rose

Cover of Bring Me Flesh, I'll Bring HellGoodness, Vitus has issues! That was the refrain running through my mind as I read Bring Me Flesh, I’ll Bring Hell by Martin Rose.

Vitus Adamson is a zombie, but not your usual zombie. He was created as part of a government experiment gone bad, and unlike your usual zombie book, this one isn’t about an apocolypse (or not exactly about one). He’s a unique creature for most of the book. He’s not brainless. Far from it; he’s a private investigator, which makes the book an intriguing mash-up of horror and noir.

The plot starts when two clients show up, looking for their son, but the picture they hand Vitus is of the son he thought he lost when he became a zombie. As the book progresses, we learn more about Vitus, his family and how he became a zombie.

The horror in the book is more of the body horror type than the scare-you-into-keeping-the-lights-on type. I can’t say I was ever spooked by the events of the book, but I will say that reading it while eating is not the best idea.

Vitus was an intriguing character. Bring Me Flesh isn’t my usual reading fare, but I met Rose at a writer’s convention, and I bought the book to support a fellow writer. That said, I was never bored and did not think about quitting. It held my attention all the way through, even though the writing was awkward at points. I did occasionally need to go back and re-read passages to make sure I understood what was being said.

There were some good twists and turns. Without spoiling anything, I will say I had one classic “never saw that coming!” moment. 🙂 The blend of horror and noir was handled well and makes this more than just “another zombie book.”

The sequel, My Loaded Gun, My Lonely Heart, was released earlier this month, and I intend to purchase it as soon as I get my TBR list a bit more under control. Considering how Bring Me Flesh ended, I’m curious to see where Rose is going to take Vitus’ story. I kind of  hope he gives the guy a break, but somehow I doubt it.

STAR-3.5

Writing Into the Dark: Works Surprisingly Well

Writing Into the Dark coverEarlier this year I read Writing into the Dark by Dean Wesley Smith, and I was thrilled to see that something I had been doing is actually a good idea.

In the book, Smith talks about “cycling,” where you go back every 500-700 words and revise/review what you wrote. It’s a good time to add depth, fix consistency problems, uncover typos, etc. I’d been doing something like it but not consistently. At some point I had read “never go backwards.” The idea was to always move forward in a book. Editing as you go was a waste of time and a good way to get blocked. Smith says it’s the opposite. Cycling allows you to keep writing in “creative voice” while still finding and fixing errors along the way.

His goal is to write one draft and never go back to read through the entire story. Finish draft. Send to first reader and editor. Fix errors they find. Publish. Move on to next story.

That philosophy ran counter to everything I thought I had learned about writing, but as I read the book I realized it was the approach I wanted to use. I just needed someone to tell me it was okay.

The other focus of the book is on writing without an outline, which I have always done. And always kind of felt like I was doing it wrong. For the current book, I decided to completely embrace his method, and three chapters in, I already see the benefits.

He spends a lot of time in the book talking about the dangers of writing from critical voice instead of creative voice. He says beginning authors believe writers can’t add foreshadowing and come up with all those great plot twists without outlining. Smith says outlining leads to writer’s block because it’s boring to, in effect, write the story twice. He says you have to trust your creative voice and that it knows what it’s doing if you just get out of its way.

So what’s happened for me so far? Well, when I started this book, I knew four things needed to happen (one is too big a spoiler and I’m not going to reveal it here, so I’ll only talk about three of them.) 1. Dafydd was going to get an apprentice. 2. Paul was going to hunt a serial killer. 3. Buildings were going to start falling down around DC–magic is involved. I wanted there to be some connection between 2 and 3 but I had no idea what it would be.

Halfway through Chapter 2, the connection revealed itself, quite naturally, and a big zinger happened at the end of the chapter, which works (I think), but I had no idea was coming. Part way through Chapter 3, #3 started happening, and I think it’s a pretty cool way to introduce that particular plot element.

While I have the high level understanding of the relationship between points 2 and 3, I’m still fuzzy on the details, but I’m confident now that my creative voice has it all under control, as long as I’m willing to listen to it and keep critical voice firmly muzzled.

If you haven’t read Smith’s book, I highly recommend it. I think it’s going to take me to my next level as a writer, and I’m excited about that!

iPad Mini 4 As Writing Device

 I recently upgraded to an iPad Mini 4, and one of the ways I planned to use it was for writing. I’ve been writing on an iPad for several years now, and I can be highly productive at a Starbucks or Panera with my iPad and Bluetooth keyboard. My biggest concern about moving from a full-sized iPad to a Mini was the screen size.

I needn’t have worried. If anything, the Mini might be even better to work on than my old 4th generation iPad. For a start, I’ve always had trouble getting my iPad at the right angle. My usual case is the Apple Smart Cover, and it’s either too low or not angled enough. The Mini smart cover has the same problem, but I have an old tablet stand from Amazon, and the Mini fits in it perfectly. Finally! My iPad at the correct angle.

The biggest upgrade for me has been Split View, and it’s the main reason I splurged on the Mini 4 instead of buying the cheaper Mini 3, which Best Buy still has in stock. The 3 doesn’t support Split View, and I had a feeling it would be useful, providing it was usable on the smallish Mini screen.

Good news. It is, at least for me. How do I use Split View? Now that I’m working on the fourth book in The Warlock Case Files, I can’t keep everything in my head. Sometimes I need to refer back to a previous book for details. I have the three earlier books loaded in iBooks, and I use Simplenote for writing. Both apps support Split View, and it’s been convenient to have Simplenote open on one side of the screen and iBooks open on the other, for quick look-ups. The Safari browser also supports Split View, and I’ve had it open for research as well.

By being so small and light, it’s easy to carry my Mini and keyboard when I’m on my way to a meeting. I make sure to arrive at least a half hour early, which gives me time to bang out a few hundred words while I wait.
Productivity on the go!