Lee Murray Dawn of the Zombie Apocalypse

Today I’m interviewing Lee Murray about her latest children’s book, Dawn of the Zombie Apocalypse, a clever book that breaks with tradition and presents a classic theme in a new light. These zombies are not like anything you’ve seen before. I loved this book and thought you may too, especially with Christmas coming up. Kids love video games – or reading about them!

Everyone loves a new computer game, especially Seb, who accidentally downloads a game that turns all the adults in Bridgetown into zombies. He and his friends must figure out how to save the world – after he deals with his screaming little sister!

Let’s see what Lee has to say about her book…

Dawn of the Zombie Apocalypse.

Congratulations on the release of Dawn of the Zombie Apocalypse! What’s the story about?

Twelve-year-old Seb downloads the latest Chaos game, along with its new subliminal feature. It’s awesome: hero Bastion Axestone storms though town, slaying the zombies. But after Seb downloads the game, all the adults in Bridgetown, maybe in the entire world, turn into zombies. Talk about a disaster! Now Seb and his best friends, Darren and Talia, have to work out how to reverse the effects of the game. Only, it’s not so easy to save the world, when you need to walk the dog and look after your baby sister Ava…

What Hogwarts house would your Dawn of the Zombie Apocalypse characters Seb, Darren and Talia be in?  

Sebastion and he tells me he’s a Gryffindor, like his zombie-slaying hero Bastion Axestone. It’s true they’re both inclined to be courageous—or maybe reckless is a better word. Seb’s mate Darren likes to think he’s a Gryffindor too, but, in reality, Darren’s a tried and true Hufflepuff. He’s a good friend, though. Loyal. Patient. Darren’s always there to help Seb out of a pickle, including letting Seb copy his maths answers before Mrs Pike turns up to class. Talia is Seb’s secret crush. The prettiest girl in school, she’s a Ravenclaw: a stickler for rules and ultra-smart. 

Is Bridgetown a real place?

Bridgetown is definitely a real place, only I’m not sure where. It could be in the US, or maybe in Australia or New Zealand. I should google it sometime. I’ll know it when I see it. It has a Founder’s Park in the middle of town, a school, sport fields, and streets named Mannering and Hulme. The thing is, Bridgetown could be anywhere that people spend too much time on their devices and ignoring the things going on around them.

 At the end of Dawn of the Zombie Apocalypse, readers are equipped with a REAL solution to the zombie problem. That concept could be worth millions of dollars, and yet you wrote it in a book. Why?

That’s the fantastic thing about speculative fiction; it allows us to test possible futures from a safe distance (where no one is actually being chased by teeth-gnashing ravenous zombies) and, sometimes, when we’re writing these stories we stumble across practical solutions to real problems. Of course, readers looking for clues to surviving the apocalypse, will have to pick up a copy of the book and find out for themselves.

Are any more books planned in this series?

Yes! I’m currently writing two more adventures involving Seb, Darren, and Talia called Dawn of the Mutant Invasion and Dawn of the AI Revolution. A Spanish language version of Dawn of the Zombie Apocalypse is also in progress and will be available from IFWG Publishing, Australia.

Lee Murray, author of Dawn of the Zombie Apocalypse.

Lee Murray is a multi-award-winning author and editor. Her books for children include Battle of the Birds, Misplaced, and Dawn of the Zombie Apocalypse, among others. She lives in New Zealand’s sunny Bay of Plenty, where she conjures up stories for readers of all ages from her office overlooking a cow paddock. https://www.leemurray.info/dawn-of-the-zombie-apocalypse

@leemurraywriter  https://www.leemurray.info/contact

Riders of Fire Audio Books on Audible

I’m absolutely thrilled to announce that Audible Studios  have produced Riders of Fire audio books for Ezaara, Dragon Hero and Dragon Rift, the first three books in the series. They’re up on pre-order now and will available to listen to on November 5th (subject to time zones) on Audible .com – USA, Audible .au – Australia, Audible.can – Canada and Audible.uk – United Kingdom.

We’re lucky to have the fabulous Caitlin Davies onboard as narrator.  Caitlin, an award-wining narrator and actress, has narrated many books in various genres.  I discovered her when listening to Lindsay Buroker’s Dragon Blood series and Alisha Klapheke’s Fate of Dragons. She has a great voice and excellent narration. I hope you enjoy her rendition of the first three Riders of Fire books.

As you can imagine, Caitlin and I have had fun with my pronunciation guide. I created MP3 files, using my fantastic New Zealand accent to pronounce all the fantasy names in the series. It’s been great emailing each other and gaining insight into the narration process. Seeing Caitlin discover Dragons’ Realm and our courageous dragon riders and dragons was fun. It was quite an adventure, especially my rendition of growly, snarly tharuks, some of whom only speak broken English. Despite my weird kiwi accent, I know she’s done justice to the characters. I hope you enjoy listening to Riders of Fire. Now you can enjoy your favorite series out walking, doing housework or working, anywhere at any time.

Get Riders of Fire on Audible here.

You could be Famous & Win Cool Dragon Swag!

Would you like to be famous? Or win cool Riders of Fire dragon swag?

Yes? Read on…

I’ve finished the draft of Dragon Strike, and guess what? At 180,000 words, it’s big enough to be two books! Yes, Dragon Strike and Dragon War (working title) will be coming out later this year.

To celebrate the release of Dragon Strike, Dragon War and my Riders of Fire audio books later this year (yay!!!!), I’m offering you a chance to star on my blog! Just send me a photo of you with one of my books – paperback, e-book or audio book!

If you don’t like photos, feel free to send your own art of dragons or riders from Riders of Fire! Or a just photo of my book somewhere interesting.

It’s that easy! Enter here now!

Don’t have one of my books? Download a free copy of Bronze Dragon or Silver Dragon by joining my readers here, or downloading Bronze Dragon from  Amazon.

I’ll collect the photos now, and be publishing them in November before the books launch.

Prizes – cool dragon swag

What cool dragon swag am I giving away? You’ll go in the running to win one of:

  • 2 x poster-sized color maps of Dragons’ Realm by Ava Fairhall (unframed – excuse the late night photo!)
  • 5 x e-books
  • 10 x  bright Riders of Fire lanyards featuring your favorite dragons.

Note: Due to expensive international postage, I can only send posters and lanyards to Canada, USA and NZ. (I’ll be in USA in November). I can send e-books internationally. I’d love your photos from all around the world.

To enter, click here

I’m asking for your location so I can make interesting blog titles, like:

  • Zak’s reading my book at the pool
  • Sam’s reading my book in Kentucky
  • Elsie’s reading my book my book a tree
  • Sarah is reading my book with her dragon (yes!)
  • Frodo is reading my book with a hobbit in her time machine
  • Samantha’s reading my book at the zoo in South Africa

The options are as wide as your imagination so, go crazy, and have fun!

Enter here, and you could soon be famous… or a winner… or both!

Thank you! My books are in the EFFYs! Thank you!

The final tally of EFFy nominations has been done!

Ezaara and Dragon Hero are now in the judging round.

 

Thank you so much for your support in nominating my books.

The Epic Fantasy Fanatics Readers’ Choice awards (EFFys) are running for the first time this year. Readers were able to nominate two books for the awards.  However, there was a catch. Each book had to be nominated 100 times in order to be judged.

With Riders of Fire being such a new series, and books from many previous years also being eligible, I faced a TSUNAMI of doubt! (Yes, the tsunami is in capitals because it was huge!)

But you came through. We rode that Tsunami and beat it, with our surfboards still intact!

Here are the lovely EFFY nomination badges that you managed to get for my books. Once again, thank you!!! It’s great to have such loyal readers who are enjoying Riders of Fire.

But don’t go yet, there’s more good news below…

Sorcerers of Summer

To celebrate, many of the EFFY authors have teamed up to offer Sorcerers of Summer,  a fantastic promotion with their nominated books at 99c for this week only. Sorcerers of Summer finishes on 22 July, so get in quick here or click the image below.
Here are the #2019EFFys Round Two Qualified Titles!!!
A Meddle of Wizards, by Alexandra Rushe
A Muddle of Magic, by Alexandra Rushe
Arcane, by Sever Bronny
Awakening, by Ross Kingston
Balam Spring, by Travis M. Riddle
Blade of Memories, by Tina Hunter
Daughter of the Dracken, by Kathrin Hutson
Dragon Hero, by Eileen Mueller
Eve of Snows, by L. James Rice
Ezaara, by Eileen Mueller
First Magyc, by Nicole DragonBeck
GLYNSHADOW, by Steve Hansen
Heart of Shadra, by Susan Faw
Heart of Tyr, by Susan Faw
If a Dragon Cries, by Gary J. Darby
Kingshold, by D.P. Woolliscroft
Mother of Rebellion, by B.K. Boes
Oathbreaker, by Aaron Hodges
Phate, The Cosmic Fairy Tale by Jason Alan
Recreance, by H.G. Chambers
The Sage, the Swordsman, and the Scholars, by Pierre Dimaculangan
Sands of the Fire God, by Matthew Silvester
The Song of the Sirin, by Nicholas Kotar
Soul Render, by T.L. Branson
The Ashen Levels, by C.F. Wellburn
The Crimson Queen, by Alec Hutson
The Fey Man, by James T. Kelly
The Game Bird, by Aidan R. Walsh
The Purple Door District, by Erin Casey
The Shadow Watch, by S.A. Klopfenstein
The Winter of Swords, by Aaron Bunce
To Make a King, by Krist L. Kramer
Winemaker of the North, by J.T. Williams
To celebrate and give back to you, Ezaara (worldwide) and Dragon Hero (UK & USA) are both 99c until 23 July. Check out the series here and grab your copy.
If you’re curious, the judging process for the EFFYs is outlined here.  The awards are judged by readers, which is very cool.
Good luck and happy reading!

Brightblade Box – Dragons Galore!! Win Dragon Swag!!

Isn’t this Brightblade Box prize beautiful?

I’ve teamed up with some great authors to bring you the Brightblade Box, a fantastic box of dragon goodies, including cool dragon books from talented and popular authors.

Brightblade Box - dragon books and gifts #giveaway #dragons

Yes, many of them are autographed!

This is an awesome haul for a lucky reader! And all the cool dragon swag makes it even more worthwhile! Will it be you? Let’s hope so.

Imagine that… autographed books from  amazing authors of cool epic dragon fantasy, bookmarks, a mouse pad, book ends and dragons to keep you company!

What more could you want?

Okay, that was a silly question.

And no, I don’t have a live dragon to throw into the prize draw. Mine are all out saving Dragons’ Realm from tharuks! But I have heard that the prize is delivered by dragon post!

Click here to get started. There are many ways to earn Brightblade Box entries, so have fun.

The goodies in the Brightblade Box, including a signed copy of Ezaara

 

Thank you to Tiger Herbert and Brightblade Press for coordinating this giveaway for lucky readers. Thanks to the other authors who have also generously  co-sponsored the prizes and spread the word:

  • Sarah K L Wilson
  • Alisha Klapheke
  • J A Andrews
  • R J Batla
  • Mike Shelton
  • L L Thomsen
  • Toni Cox
  • H G Chambers
  • T J Muir
  • J T Williams
  • Derek Siddoway
  • D L Brownson
  • Jon Cronshaw
  • Angel Haze
  • Daniel Kuhnley
  • Jeffrey L Kohanek
  • Gwynn White

Click here to get started.  Good Luck!

Summer Book Box 2019 Giveaway – 3 days to go!

Do you reading love fantasy? Get in quick. For the next three days only, you can win a summer book box of great paperback classics in this fantastic giveaway!

Enter the giveaway here.

Follow the instructions to get multiple entries and increase your chances of winning this great  box of paperbacks.

The good news is that you’ll also discover new cool books from exciting fantasy authors. Click here to get started. Pleasant reading.

Dozens of FREE Fantasy books. Win $100 Amazon Gift Card.

Looking for Great Fantasy Reads?

If you’re looking for great fantasy adventures, go no further. Get your next adrenaline rush here! Meet characters you’ll love, cool mythical creatures, terrible villains and have the time of your life. Discover new authors, find great series and go into win a $100 Amazon Gift Card. There are DOZENS of (in fact, over 100) FREE fantasy books available in this Fantasy BookFest. Pick a cover, a genre or an author, and get reading. Click here to start.

While you’re on the Fantasy BookFest page, search for the elusive $100 Amazon Gift card, which keeps moving around! Once you hit the page, scroll down and look at everything. Happy hunting!

 

 

 

#IFASummerChallenge19 – Join me in the Indie Fantasy Addicts Reading Spree

#IFASummerChallenge19

#IFASummerChallenge19 is on!

Love Reading Fantasy? Join me in IFA BookWyrms, our Facebook Reading group,  with co-captains author Katie Cherry and reader Lesley Donaldson-Reid. The more the merrier! IFA Bookworms is part of the #IFASummerChallenge19. Please also join the Indie Fantasy Addicts Facebook Group and read the instructions below to get started!

When you join BookWyrms, introduce yourself, tag me and say hi! Here’s our cover image so you know you’re in the right place. See you over there!

What is the Indie Fantasy Addicts Reading Challenge?

June 21, the first day of summer, marked the opening of the Summer Reading Challenge in the Indie Fantasy Addicts Facebook group. Read ANY indie fantasy, and sub-genre of fantasy (ARCs, audiobooks, and shorts included) and have a chance at winning some amazing prizes such as signed books, ebooks, audiobooks, and swag from some Amazon Bestselling and USA Today Bestselling authors! All readers have to do is post about their reads in the IndieFacebook group and tag them with #IFASummerChallenge19.

Details about our current Summer Reading Challenge are listed below. The goal? For members to discover more nail-biting, edge of your seat, take-you-for-a-wild-ride-and-leave-you-breathless books!

Many USA Today, award-winning and Amazon bestselling authors have graciously donated signed copies and ebooks to this challenge.

#IFASummerChallenge19 Details:

The purpose of this is just to have fun and discover more amazing indie fantasy authors! We are going to make this simple. There is no set reading list. ARCS and audiobooks also apply. Read whatever you want as long as it’s indie fantasy.

All you have to do is post what you’re reading, tag it with #IFASummerChallenge19, and your thoughts on the book (without spoilers!) so the rest of us can discover more amazing adventures!

You can read my FREE book Bronze Dragon to start: DOWNLOAD BRONZE DRAGON.

Click the picture below to get FREE books from participating authors, or  use this link.

Win #IFASummerChallenge19 Prizes!

The Challenge will go from June 21 to September 22, 2019—the last day of summer! For the solo challenge (everyone is included in this regardless if you’re on a team or not), we will be doing a tiered winning system since not all readers read at the same rate. Eg. A tier for the winner for whoever reads the most indie fantasy books, and a few other tiers. eg. 20+, 16-20, 11-15, 5-9. 0-4.

Draws will be done to choose winners from the two lower tiers.

Grand Prize: Multiple signed books and swag!

The other tiers will have chances to win a signed book, ebook, audiobook, swag, etc.

TEAMS:

There will also be prizes awarded to the winning #IFASummerChallenge19 team, the team with the best team spirit, the team who listened to the most audiobooks, etc.

Let the adventures begin!!

Get started!

See you over at BookWyrms and Indie Fantasy Addicts!

#IFASummerChallenge19

GeyserCon Photo Tour!

GeyserCon 2019 in photos

GeyserCon, NZ’s 40th national SFF convention, came, and it went —  in a blur of sci-fi & fantasy discussion, events, education,  networking, crafting, hilarity and fun. I had a busy weekend. For me, there were many highlights, best shown in photos! Okay, the photos aren’t brilliant, but they’re all I have!

Kids’ Workshop – Super Heroes & Interactive Fiction

A.J. Ponder and I taught a large class of kids in the Young NZ Writers Big Day Out — jam-packed sessions on how to write superheroes and interactive fiction like Mystic Portal, Dragons’ Realm and Attack of the Giant Bugs!

It was lots of fun, with very cool kids who all shared enthusiasm for writing and reading.     

Artist Janet Keen judges the kids’ art contest.
A.J. Ponder with budding artists

NZ Youth Laureate Award Book Launch

Editor Lee Murray and judge Piper Mejia, both of Young New Zealand Writers, did a fabulous job coordinating the NZ Youth Laureate Award, reading the manuscripts and coaching the winning authors.

Representing Phantom Feather Press, A.J. Ponder and I  launched the NZ Youth Laureate books at GeyserCon with Young New Zealand Writers.

Winner:  Emma Uren, It’s A Small World.

Editor’s Choice: Xiaole Zhan, The Extinct.

Emma Uren and Xiaole Zhan
Emma & Family
Xialoe & Mum
Eileen, editor, Lee Murray, Emma, Xiaole & A.J. Ponder
Lee Murray with Guest of Honour Kaaron Warren (both award-winning dark fiction authors), who is awarding finalist Denika Mead her certificate.
Gorgeous covers! It’s a Small World by Australian artist David Schembri, and The Extinct, designed by A.J. Ponder.
Something Strange Happened in Rotorua – an anthology from Young New Zealand Writers included finalists from the NZ Youth Laureate Award
Readings from the youth anthology.

Click on a cover to order your copy!

6:30am in the Redwoods

Groan, not that early in the morning! Yes, it was worth it. Yes, we’re all bleary-eyed after little sleep the night before! The redwood forests in Rotorua were beautiful.

It was still dark outside… and cold. Brrr…
Yes, that’s geothermal steam in the background, not cloud! A sleeping dragon (taniwha) maybe?
Rotorua Redwoods are riddled with mountain-biking tracks

GeyserCon: Future of High Fantasy Panel

I had an interesting time moderating a panel discussion on the future of High Fantasy with fellow writers Laura VanArendonk-Baugh (Guest of Honour), David Hair, Mark Johnson and Dan Rabarts. This photo does not do the panel justice. Although the photographer only caught Mark Johnson laughing in this shot, we did have fun, and the audience did too. It was a stimulating discussion, first thing in the morning — a great start to the day.

Laura VanArendonk-Baugh (Guest of Honour), David Hair (thinking hard), Mark Johnson (laughing at David’s witty comment) and Dan Rabarts (listening)

GeyserCon: Marketing for Indie Authors

Yes, I did give a presentation and there is a photo somewhere on the internet on someone’s feed, but I don’t have it! Rumors said it was great though!

GeyserCon: Creating Fantasy Maps

Ava Fairhall teaches at Yoobee design school. I was lucky enough to meet her online in an international writers’ forum and find out she lived near me! Ava gave a fascinating presentation on creating fantasy maps. The huge coloured map on the left is Dragons’ Realm, the world of my Riders of Fire series.

GeyserCon: Masquerade

The fun kept going all weekend!

Make-up specialist AJ Josephs prepares a little dragon. He did an amazing session on cosplay make-up, where he made over half his face like Deadpool. Unfortunately, this is the only shot I got of him in action!

Ready to rock!  Watch out for the guy in the back! He’s trouble (Darian Smith is a great writer of epic fantasy).

Told you Darian Smith was trouble. Those dragon eyes kept sliding around! Creeeepy.
Fighting fit!
Dragon mid-flight
Who killed the dragon? Horror writer Paul Mannering, who came back to life as a zombie, when the dragon got him back 1 minute later!

Cosplay Guests of Honour

Lauara VanArendonk-Baugh & Alena VanArendonk, our international cosplay experts, entice Lee Murray into a costume. Well, a hat anyway.

Laura, Lee & Alena

You’d never believe that in real life Alena (right) has really long hair!

Craft Corner

Victoria Dreyer had a fun time with kids (young and old) in the craft corner (writers have multiple talents). No prizes for guessing which piece of dragon-themed jewellery I made!

World Con 2020 – ConZealand

There was lots of cool news about ConZealand, WorldCon 2020! You can get more info here and confirm the rumours that George R R Martin is toastmaster and that great authors like Mercedes Lackey & Larry Dixon will be here in NZ next year!

Sir Julius Vogel Awards

It wasn’t my turn for an award this year, however here is the talented line up.

The 2019 Sir Julius Vogel Awards list is here.

More fun

 

Mr Col Slaw, aka Col, became the vege of choice and the official mascot for GeyserCon, although he was shredded after the awards ceremony, leading to many tears.
Guest of honour Alan Baxter presents Denika Meade with a prize during the young adult workshop. I’m lucky to have Denika, an accomplished author in her own right, as one of my Riders of Fire teen beta readers. Please note, that as well as being an excellent dark fantasy author, Alan is a Kung Fu black belt and is known known as “the cabbage shredder”.

GeyserCon is over

I met new readers, networked with writers, fantasy fans and friends. We also swam in the geothermally-heated pool, chatted in the bar, and to top it all off, had a pizza party in my room!

But, one last question: when a dragon’s not eating tacos or pizzas, what does it eat?

Answer: Dragon fruit!

I look forward to ConZealand in 2020 and hope you join us for New Zealand’s first WorldCon!

Why give book reviews? A misnomer.

Why review books?

Why review books?

Recently I had a reader write to me, saying that while they understood that reviews make a writer feel good, why is it that we want reviews? Why do we need a pat on the back? Don’t we understand that our books are good?
That letter made me smile. I love my books. I have readers who love my books. I have strangers who write to me and celebrate my books, and then become online friends as I find out a more about who they are and their lives.
Occasionally, I have someone who doesn’t like my books. That’s okay. Not every book is for every reader.
So why do authors need reviews on their books? Perhaps this graphic explains it:
amazon review - matters
So, once a book has over 15 reviews, it’s likely to sell more copies. And guess what?
Reviews sell books: the more reviews, the better sales will be.
People want social proof that something is good before they purchase. We want to know what we’re buying represents good value. We want to know that the $ and hours we’ll invest in reading will be worth it.
Well, that proves that reviews are important! They help sell books. Which means I can pay the mortgage, eat, and afford to keep writing.
Which means YOU get more of the adventures you love.

Most authors have more stories inside them than they’re able to physically get out of their fingertips (or dictation machines).
I’ve written three entire series in my head. It’s probably going to take me a year or eighteen months to get the first series into my readers’ hands — Riders of Fire is 8 planned books and growing…
 
And my next series? 4 books. I’ve plotted and replotted the first three books many times in my head as I swim, with the sun’s refracted rays playing along the blue tiles and dancing in the water (I swim outdoors in summer). But every time I get out of the pool, there’s still only one book written. A book that teens squealed about when I read them the first chapter a couple of years ago!! And a lot of work waiting to get the next 3 done!
Many sleeps to go.
That’s a lot of meals to eat between now and then…
And bills to pay…
So yes, please! Reviews!
You see, writing is a long haul game. Building worlds, one word at a time. Shaping imaginations and emotions with a few delicate keystrokes. Taking readers on journeys far outside their everyday lives. Helping people feel, grow consider, understand and dream. Exploring the gambit of human (and otherworldly) experience. Delving into emotions. Helping people make sense of their lives.
It’s a privilege. I thank you for it, and would love to be able to continue helping you take adventures.
And even more than the nitty-gritty of paying the bills, I LOVE hearing what you think, how my stories affect you. Whether they give you hope, make you despair, inspire or frustrate you. Which characters you loved or related to, which characters made your blood boil, and how their inner and outer lives helped shape yours.
So in answer to my reader who posed the question, “Why reviews?”, I’d say, “because they’re essential to me continuing my work and bringing you exciting adventures to enjoy.”
If you’d like to review Riders of Fire, you can find the series here on Amazon (or here on Goodreads).