ZA has always had a special place in my heart, and over four years since starting Zane's journey, it's more true now than ever.
ZA is special to me for a million different reasons, but one of the big ones is NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). Now those of you who know me will know how much of a huge deal NaNoWriMo is in my life. I've participated every year since I discovered it in 2011, and it's become a huge part of who I am as a writer. ZA was my very first NaNo novel, and I had never believed I could write so much in such a short space of time. Nothing encourages me as much as NaNo, and ZA was my first stepping stone in discovering the phenomenal world I now throw myself into once a year.
Another reason is of course, zombies. My dad and my brother and I have always been fans of zombie movies. In 2012 we took part in the very first Zombie Run up in Lincoln. I'm also proud to say that I read Carrie Ryan's The Forest of Hands and Teeth before anyone even knew what it was. Conversations and discussions in my house directly inspired me to write ZA. I'd be lying if I said that certain phrases and events in ZA weren't based on something real. The phrase itself - "ZA Ready" - was coined in my house. And the character of Jay is somewhat based on the fourteen-year-old version of my own brother.
So yeah, this book means a lot to me.
The original 2011 version of ZA up until last year had been available on Kindle, but as this story means so much to me, it wasn't good enough. I released it on Kindle in 2013 thinking that would be enough, but there was something about Zane's story that kept calling to me.
Original cover design by James Terry - email@example.com
So in 2015 during NaNoWriMo'15, I re-wrote the entire thing after the brilliant Kimberly Ito gave me some phenomenal editing critique. I agreed with every single tiny thing she told me and officially worship her editing talent. I managed to almost double the word count, adding suspense, gore, and of course, a load more zombies.
One of the reasons for doing this was Molten Publishing, the publishing company my dad and I set up in 2015. From then on, writing was not enough. From then on, I lived and breathed and inhaled all things books and publishing.
And that led us to the immensely talented Chris Kemp from CK Creative who designed thisawesome cover! Every time my inbox flashed up with an email from Chris, I was excited to open it and see what he'd come up with next.
Cover by Chris Kemp - firstname.lastname@example.org
Of course I can't go any longer without mentioning my second home, Movellas. The Movellas community have supported and encouraged me every step of the way and even helped Chris and I decide on a final cover design.
They also agreed to run a ZA competition, which is still open! Participants have a chance to win a signed copy of ZA and critique from me! The competition is the perfect way to get into the zombie genre if you're new to it.
It's only a little creepy that I have a picture of my sixteen-year-old self standing like Zane . . .
After the cover, I was a buzz of energy (and stress), fiddling with typesetting and blurbs and proofreads.
So yeah, sue me if I'm a little proud.
Okay, a lot proud.
And get ready for the Zombie Armageddon . . .
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