Monday, February 29, 2016

The 6 Types of Apocalypses

Maybe it's just me, but I spend a lot of time thinking about this whole post-apocalyptic thing. In books, I see a lot of common themes when it comes to the causes of the end of the world. From popular books like The 5th Wave to literary masterpieces like The Road, if the end of the world can be instigated by something out of the ordinary, you can bet your last nickel that somebody is going to find a way to write about it. Here's what I have found to be the most common "end of the world" situations. 

Let's just talk about aliens for a second. Who isn't slightly fascinated or horrified with the idea of a faster, scarier and smarter race of aliens/humanoids/little green men who could potentially wipe out mankind and take the planet as their own? It's a little scary, which is exactly why there are so many movies and books about it. I have read a lot of YA books that have used this premise to kickstart their post-apocalyptic environment. A few books that come to mind are In The After, by Demetria Lunetta, Dark Inside by Jeyn Roberts, The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey or Planet of the Apes by Pierre Boulle. There are SO MANY books about this idea, I couldn't possibly list them all. 

Zombie Virus 
I realize that some people might be sick of zombies at this point, but I never get tired of reading about an apocalyptic world brought on by an army of shuffling, moaning dead people. What's not to love? *wink* Some of my favorite books are about zombies. Like the Rot and Ruin Series by Jonathan Maberry, The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan, World War Z by Max Brooks or Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion. I especially enjoyed The Dead by Charlie Higson. The Walking Dead graphic novels by Robert Kirkman are brilliant, too. And let's not forget I Am Legend by Richard Matheson!  Zombies will never die, so to speak. There are always authors around to resurrect them. (so many undead jokes, so little time!) 

New World Order (OMG!) 
A lot of post-apocalyptic books begin smack in the middle of a government that has been long established. Books like Divergent by Veronica Roth or The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins are great examples of this. They include governments that have been established in the midst of an apocalypse (and of course they are always sinister and deeply corrupt!). Another post-apocalyptic series that I am totally in love with are the Books of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau. The first book, City of Ember is awesome. The Giver, by Lois Lowry is another good one. 

Unexplained and Mysterious Events (gasp!)
There is also the scenario in which readers are left in the dark about the exact circumstances that caused the apocalypse that thrust mankind into the stone age and forced him to rely on cans of green beans for survival. (That was a long sentence, sorry. But not too sorry.) I mentioned The Road by Cormac McCarthy above and his book is a prime example of that formula. We never find out WHAT caused the apocalypse, it simply IS. The circumstances of the end of the world are as accepted and standard as today's society. I like it when it's a bit of a mystery - it gives the reader's mind some room to imagine the end for themselves. Ann Aguire's Enclave and S.E. Bodeen's The Compound makes this work for them, too. 

Massive Sickness and Disease 
And then there was this one. This is probably my least favorite of all of the options, if only because it's so realistic and reminiscent of the Bubonic Plague. I'd much rather read about zombies. But this premise is still pretty interesting, because it's so chillingly realistic. James Dashner's Maze Runner Series is all about a disease ravaging mankind (and I'm a HUGE fan of James Dasher's books), and I've heard that Jacqueline Druga's book, Last Woman, is pretty interesting as well. 

Nuclear War/Technological Attack 
This is definitely a scary one! The onslaught of radiation fallout and bombs going off left and right has been a favorite pick for post-ap authors for years. I like to theorize that The Road's unexplained and mysterious apocalypse was brought on by nuclear war. I know that Gray by Lou Cadle was moving in that direction, along with On The Beach by Nevil Shute and The Last Ship by William Brinkley. 

And hey - let's not forget my favorite method of apocalyptic fiction: EMP. Not only have I used this technological attack in my own novels, but they are prevalent in other books, as well. I just picked up Islands at the End of the World by Austin Aslan. It's also interesting that an EMP can be triggered by more than just a nuclear detonation in the atmosphere, too. Ever heard of a solar flare? During the 19th century, a massive flare wiped out all of the telegraph lines across the country - imagine what that would do to cell towers! 

What are your favorite post-apocalyptic books and movies? 

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Bravo Plush Figures and Wristbands for Charity!

I don't think there is any one group of fighters in our country that is as under-recognized as K9 units. Military and law enforcement working dogs really take the brunt of danger sometimes, and many canines have saved thousands of lives in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. 

Writing Bravo: Apocalypse Mission has really given me the opportunity to dig deep into the world of K9 training and operations, and all of that subsequent knowledge has really amazed me - and touched me. 

Did you know that it's hard for some retired MWDs to find homes after they've been deployed in active combat? Many of these dogs have been extremely heroic and saved the lives of countless soldiers, but they have nowhere to go during the last few years of their lives. 

This sad knowledge really hit me hard, and I wanted to find a way to help our four-legged heroes. So here's the rub: I will be selling Bravo plush figures and wristbands on my website and blog to celebrate the release of one my biggest releases ever. 

I will take 20% of the proceeds from these sales will go to a non-profit organization called Save-A-Vet, who help retired MWDs and law enforcement dogs find a home (or give them support) after their incredible work is done. 

This is not something that anyone is paying me to do, or an endorsement of any kind. I am simply a supporter of what the organization does, and the funds that I am able to allot from the sales will go to these dogs. 

The plushes and wristbands will be available with the launch of Bravo: Apocalypse Mission. I hope you guys will think about supporting Save-A-Vet, and I can't wait to put these fun items on sale for readers everywhere! 

Thursday, February 18, 2016


Welcome to the apocalypse. 
Just kidding, of course! Here's the thing. Bravo is releasing in just two months, and I am giving everyone an equal chance to sign up for the release blitz, because I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it when readers and bloggers are involved in the launch of my books. You guys are the lifeblood of what I do, and sharing these things with you is always a special treat. 

For Bravo, the release blitz will be running from April 22nd-April 24th. You can post any day within that time window, and there will be guest posts, interviews and prizes. I would love to have you all participate, so don't hesitate to sign up below. 

I will also be encouraging everyone to check out Save-A-Vet, a non-profit organization for retired MWDs - military working dogs. So not only will you be posting about Bravo, but you will be helping an amazing organization get some exposure for rescuing incredible K9 vets. 

And YES: there will be HTML posts provided if you don't feel like designing the post page yourself. You can thank Giselle from Xpresso Book Tours for that! *wink* 

To sign up, just follow THIS LINK.


Wednesday, February 17, 2016


If you follow this website (or any of my websites, respectively), then you will know that I'm planning on releasing Bravo: Apocalypse Mission, the first installment of a new two-part saga about a dog, in the Spring of 2016. I have finally managed to nail down an actual release date. It's taken a lot of hard work to get even this far in the book - Bravo's story is the most creatively challenging thing I've ever done. But I love a good might as well embrace it, right? *wink* 

The official release date for BRAVO: APOCALYPSE MISSION is: 

April 22nd, 2016 

Keep checking my Facebook Page and this blog to find out more. I will be offering ARCs to loyal readers once again - but only the first 20 to sign up will receive a copy. That should be happening next month! 

There will also be a blog-wide release blitz happening, and sign-ups will be posted for that soon, as well. 

SO EXCITED to share this story with you guys. Thanks for your continued support of my work - I'm stunned! 

Friday, February 12, 2016

The World Ag Expo, and Why Farmers Are Cool (Tangent Post)

The view near my house. 
Let's talk about local geography for a minute. I live in the Central Valley of California. My hometown was once dubbed the "Fruit Basket of the World." This area produces more fruit than anywhere else on planet earth. The lifeblood of the entire valley is in the acres of fruit trees, tin-roofed packing houses and bright green tractors plowing through the fields. This is farm country, and I've always loved it and been proud of it. 

Farming is cool. For one, without farmers, nobody would have any food to eat. And two, I think that those who live in cities or large population centers forget that their produce actually has to be grown somewhere, picked, inspected, packed and shipped. Food doesn't just appear. 

Our modern society here in the United States has moved a long way from prairie folk, duking it out on their own in the middle of the open fields of Kansas. We purchase food at fast food restaurants and grocery stores like WalMart. But somebody has been on the tail end of that process, making sure that YOU get your food from the tree and straight onto your plate. 

So what's my point? Here at Writing Belle, I always do stories that highlight the art of storytelling, but today I'm highlighting the art of farming - which is a story in itself. I visited the World Ag Expo this past week, the biggest agriculture show in the world. It's HUGE. And by huge I mean massive. I was there ALL DAY and I still didn't see a good portion of what was on display. Tractors, tools, dairy farm gadgets, ATVS and side-by-sides, 2500 pickup truck demo rides, delicious fair food (tri-tip sandwiches and Superior Dairy ice cream for the win!), pressure washers and welding helmets, drill kits and cow-washes (it's totally a thing), and so much more. Over 1,500 individual vendors. It was a long day, but it was fun. And it really inspired me to share with you guys just how important farmers are to our communities, states and countries. Farmers feed us, so when you can, support the farming community and - especially in California - try to conserve water so they can use it to keep their crops healthy and strong. 

What helps them, helps you, too! 
#SupportFarmers #SupportAg 

Monday, February 8, 2016

My Book Store Haul: February 2016 Edition

Do you ever get the feeling that you just need....MORE BOOKS? I get that feeling all the time. Never mind that I can't even begin to keep up with the massive pile of "to-be-read" books on my desk. That's irrelevant. I just need all the books, all the time. 

Here are the books I just picked up in February - a combination of purchases made at the Clovis Book Barn (a wonderful second-hand bookstore) and Barnes & Noble. 

The Compound 
by S.A. Bodeen 

Eli and his family have lived in the Compound for six years. The world they knew is gone. Eli's father built the Compound to keep them safe. Now, they can't get out. 
He won't let them. 

Sounds claustrophobic, doesn't it? I love post-ap bunker stories. I mean, look at my life. Post-apocalyptic insanity everywhere. I have no shame about it. #Survival

The People of Sparks 
by Jeanne DuPrau

When Lina and Doon lead their people up from the underground city of Ember, they discover a surface world of color and life. The people of a small village called Sparks agree to help the Emberites, but the villagers have never had to share their world before. 

This is the sequel to City of Ember, which is a fabulous read. Excited for this second installment. 

The Golden Compass
by Philip Pullman 

"Philip Pullman's award winning The Golden Compass is a masterwork of storytelling and suspense, critically acclaimed and hailed as a modern fantasy classic."

Everybody knows about The Golden Compass by the point, but I couldn't resist purchasing my own paperback copy. I mean, it was only 3.50 at the thrift store - how great is that? 

The Infinite Sea 
by Rick Yancey 

The epic, thrilling sequel to The 5th Wave. 

Only the best book I've read in a long time. SO EXCITED to read the sequel. I hope it's great! 

The Dogs of War 
by Lisa Rogak 

A non-fiction look at the inner-workings of operations and training for military dogs trained in bomb detection and tracking. 

This is a fantastic read. Everybody should check it out - canines are definitely the underrated heroes of our country. 

So that's my little haul! What are you reading this month? If you're like me, you might have a relatively wide variety of genres sitting on your shelf. It's good to keep things new and fresh. 

Happy reading! 

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Romance, Romance, Romance: Literary Love for Valentine's Day

Let me tell you a love story. 
Quiet, bookish, writer girl meets quiet, leather-jacket-wearing country boy. During the months (and years) that follow, they spend time together, go camping, ride dirt-bikes, go target-shooting, watch movies, travel to the beach, and spend lazy Sunday afternoons cuddled up on the couch, watching Food Network. They discuss love and life and politics and religion. They cook together, cry together and laugh together. 

And then, one day, near the end of a long, hot, summer, the boy and the girl pad the back of his big, red pickup truck with blankets and pillows, watching the stars. That's when the boy asks the girl to marry him, and he gives her a sparkling diamond ring in response to her resounding, "YES, OF COURSE!" 


I'll make him famous yet. * wink*
That little love story is my own, and I'm currently planning my own wedding and life with the guy who has been not only my best friend, but my greatest supporter and encourager. What can I say? He's the love of my life, and I'm honored and overjoyed to be able to look forward to marrying him later this year! 

But wait. There is a point to all of this romantic mushiness! This Valentine's Day, I'm reflecting on not just the love in my own life, but the love stories we find in literature. I've been positively obsessed with the romance stowed away in books since before I can even remember. Here are my favorite love stories of all time from the world of writing.

Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester
from Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte
I could write a whole book about how much I love and adore the writing of Charlotte Bronte. The romance between Jane and the mysterious (and goodness gracious, MUCH OLDER) Mr. Rochester is powerful, intense and - dare I say it - even a little bit scandalous? Jane Eyre has been my favorite classic novel of all time since I read it as a young teenager, and I still think those two unorthodox lovebirds have one of the best romances ever written. 

Clary Fray and Jace Wayland
from The Mortal Instruments Series by Cassandra Clare 
I'm going to throw it way, way back here and admit freely that I was a fanatical, border-line obsessive Clary/Jace shipper in my high school days. I loved these two together. Clary was funny and independent, Jace was perfect and incredibly sarcastic - I laughed out loud at his humor on multiple occasions. Still one of my favorite romances of all time. 

Tris and Four 
from Divergent, by Veronica Roth 
I know, I know. This one isn't exactly unknown. Everybody pretty much loves Four and Tris. I think their love story in the first book is pretty much the hottest event ever, and when I was a sixteen year-old Junior, I had a major crush on Four myself. (I freely admit this) To me, this will always remain a major event in my literary-loving-life, and although I DID NOT IN ANY WAY, SHAPE OR FORM, get the ending I wanted in the series, I still love their romance. 

Kelsey and Kishan 
from Tiger's Curse, by Colleen Houck 
This book is one of the very few in my life (minus Jane Eyre, of course) that I have actually re-read several times. I have always been in love with Indian culture, traditions and cuisine, so I gravitated toward these books when I was about 15-16 originally. Kelsey falls in love with a gorgeous Indian prince with a curse, Ren. But I always shipped her with Kishan, because he was the bad boy, and I was in a bad boy phase...and I kind of still am. Just saying. *swoon* 

Alex and Aiden 
from Half-Blood, by Jennifer L. Armentrout 
I remember when I read this book. On Christmas day, years ago, when I still lived in Sacramento. It was one of Jennifer's earlier books, and I remember doing an interview with her about the novel. I fell in love with the book (and series) because of Alex's incredible wit and razor-sharp one-liners. Plus, the whole falling-in-love-with-your-savage-instructor thing was very reminiscent of Divergent, so I dug it. Still do. 

Rose and Dimitri 
from Vampire Academy by Rachelle Mead
I have no words. All I can is that today is a serious high school throwback post. I apologize in advance for all of the plots that involve teen girls falling in love with their muscular ninja masters. I checked all of these books out from the library (the original series) and was obsessed with the romance between Rose and Dimitri. It was SMOKING. I felt like it was definitely more suitable for adults than young teens, too. But that's just me. 

Daisy and Gatsby 
from The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
I really, really hope I wouldn't need to explain this amazing story to you - because hopefully everybody on the planet has experienced its wonderful enchanting plot by now. I seriously ship Daisy and Gatsby together, and although the movie version of this genius piece of classic literature wasn't exactly what I had envisioned, it was still really fun - and the soundtrack rocked. 

Hazel Grace and Augustus Waters 
from The Fault in Our Stars by John Green 
I cried multiple times while reading this book. I cried way more reading the book than I did while watching the movie. That's a well-written book, people. The romance of Hazel Grace and Augustus, although tragic, is beautiful and poignant and touching. If you haven't gotten on the John Green bandwagon yet, please don't waste any time and go ahead and jump on now. 

That is my list for swoon-worthy couples this Valentine's Day. Trust me, I EASILY could have kept going, but I didn't want to crash the entire internet. That would be bad. 

I will check it later with more Valentine's posts and articles. Until then...go fall in love, be it with a significant other or a bar of chocolate. Either works fine. I approve highly of both. * wink *