Are YOU Ready for the Zombie Apocalypse?

Photo: Melanie R. Meadors

In 2010, author Roger Ma brought us the ever-useful tome, The Zombie Combat Manual: A Guide to Fighting the Living Dead. This book could do nothing less than save your life, should the day of the zombie apocalypse come. From conditioning and preparing, to weapons (both traditional and not), to combat strategy and techniques, this book definitely covers the bases when it comes to zombie combat.

And now, Roger Ma has brought us something even more fun and informative: The Zombie Combat Field Guide: A Coloring and Activity Book for Fighting the Living Dead. Highlighting all of the most important lessons from the Combat Manual, this coloring book gives folks a multi-sensory learning approach to surviving attacks from the living dead. There are coloring pages, fill-in-the-blank exercises, mazes, puzzles, and more, all designed to help prepare you for the impending apocalypse. This book should be in everyone’s survival tool kit.

There are pages to help you identify the enemy and know his methods of attack:

Photo: Melanie R. Meadors


Scenario training to prepare you for attacks on land, sea, or air:

Photo: Melanie R. Meadors


And of course, plenty of tips to protect your young ones:

Photo: Melanie R. Meadors


So break out your crayons, pencils, and markers. Preparation is the key. WE WILL SURVIVE.

As a nice supplement to his books, you can hear Roger Ma chat with author Anton Strout on The Once and Future Podcast about zombie fighting and more.

Roger Ma specializes in hand-to-hand combat against the undead. He is the author of The Zombie Combat Manual: A Guide to Fighting the Living Dead. His new book, The Vampire Combat Manual: A Guide to Fighting the Bloodthirsty Undead, focuses on surviving an attack from a hunting succubus. He is the founder of the Zombie Combat Club and the Vampire Combat Club, organizations that focus on battling the undead without the aid of a firearm. He was recently featured as a zombie expert on the History Channel documentary “Zombies: A Living History.” He currently trains in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He lives in Brooklyn, NY.

Ninja Dolls, Zombie Plants, and Gloom

ninja fam
Image By PegNation

Only just getting into the Halloween spirit now that October is here (not before October, dammit!), I was at a local festival and saw this ninja family. So cute! So deadly, I’m sure. Want a custom made peg doll? She’ll do whatever you like. I was thinking of a pirate-Christmas theme. (But not until December!) You can find PegNation on Etsy and Facebook.


zombie plant
Image By Ticklemeplant

How about a plant that dies and then rises from the dead? My son thought this one was really cool. It’s called a Zombie Plant. Perfect for your party, or just to freak out visitors.


Image By Atlas Games

I’ve mentioned this game before, but it’s absolutely perfect for the season: Gloom: Kill off your family to win!

Oh, there’s so much more to get into the creepy spirit. What’s on your radar this month?

GeekMom: Comic Book Corner — Alien Smugglers, Zombies & A Mysterious Superman

gi zombie #2
Cover by Darwyn Cooke, copyright DC Comics.

Happy Comic Release Day! Welcome to another installment of GeekMom Comic Book Corner, where we recap our adventures in comics for the week.

Dakster Sullivan — Starburn #1 by Kelly Bender and art by Brian Balondo (Emerald Star Comics)

Starburn courtesy of Emerald Star Comics.

Starburn follows a group of scoundrels that make their living by smuggling, stealing, and killing (not necessarily in that order). The team consists of mostly aliens, with three humans thrown into the mix.

I get a Han Solo-like feeling when I read about Guage (human male), but I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because he had the nerve to ask the Captain if he had a plan other than for them to fly into a mission blind. Captain Aphi comes off as an alien who cares for his team, but also likes money. I haven’t decided which he would choose, if it came down to only having one or the other.

Amongst the team, there are two strong female types that know how to handle the trouble they find themselves in. The creative team gets bonus points for both women being 80-percent clothed.

After an introduction to the characters, the story picks up and takes off into their first mission. It comes off as an easy pick-up-and-deliver job, but of course, something has to go wrong and we are left wondering how they will get themselves out alive.

I’d recommend this book for anyone 14-years-old and up because of a violent scene where heads fly (literally).

Curious to know what I’m pulling this week? Check out my pull list on Comixology.

Corrina —  Star Spangled War Stories Featuring G.I. Zombie #2 by Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray, and Scott Hampton

Futures End #17, various creators, DC Comics

One title is far too long and isn’t at all reflective of the material inside and the other title still bothers me for the missing apostrophe.

Of the two, read Zombie. It’s about an intelligent zombie who works as a federal agent and is infiltrating an American militia bent on anarchy. Zombie has a female partner and the power of not being able to die, and, as Palmiotti promised me at Boston Comic Con, he indeed rides a missile, a la Slim Pickens in Dr. Strangelove. The book has a similar sensibility to the movie, though without the political commentary. I have no idea who’s reading this except me (sales of #1 were very low), but if you like the work of the creators or zombies or cop stories and you have a skewed sense of humor, you should be reading this. Plus, the cover is by Darwyn Cooke.

Futures End is one of the DC events books, detailing how things have gone wrong on two different earths five years into the DC future. I didn’t like the first few issues and I don’t like it much now, but the story has improved marginally and the various creators seem to be using Lois Lane fairly well. Plotwise? Lots of DC characters are doing some things that seem random that will no doubt be connected at the end, and this entire story will all probably be retconned because the future will be reset so that these events never happened and Green Arrow is alive. Killing off a character now starring in a hit television show is certain not to stick.

The bright spot in #17 is the revelation of who’s pretending to be Superman. Hint: It’s one of the popular theories.

Age recommendation:

G.I. Zombie: 12 +

Futures End: 10 +

Looking for something else, readers? Check out this week’s listed books:

DC-Comics-Old.jpg marvel-logo1.jpg

Adventures Of Superman #16
All-Star Western #34 Final Issue
Aquaman #34
Batman ’66 #14
Batman Beyond Universe #13 GM
Batman Eternal #21
Batman Superman #13
Bodies #2 (Of 8)
Catwoman #34
DC Universe Vs The Masters Of The Universe TP GM
Dead Boy Detectives #8
Fables Vol. 20 Camelot TP
Flash #34
Green Lantern New Guardians Vol. 4 Gods And Monsters TP
Harley Quinn #10 GeekMom Recommended
He-Man And The Masters Of The Universe #16 GM
Injustice Gods Among Us Year Two #10
Justice League Dark #34
New 52 Futures End #17 Weekly Series
Red Lanterns #34
Secret Origins #5
Sinestro #5
Star-Spangled War Stories Featuring G.I. Zombie #2
Superman #34
All-New Invaders #9
All-New Ultimates #7
All-New X-Men #31
Amazing Spider-Man #1.4
Avengers #34
Avengers Undercover #9
Avengers Undercover Vol. 1 Descent TP
Cyclops #4 New Series
Deadpool Vs Carnage TP
Fantastic Four #9
Fantastic Four Vol. 1 The Fall Of The Fantastic Four TP
Guardians Of The Galaxy #18 GM
Inhuman #4 New Series
Jessica Jones The Pulse The Complete Collection TP
Marvel Masterworks Atlas Era Tales Of Suspense Vol. 1 TP
Marvel Masterworks Marvel Rarities Vol. 1 HC
Marvel Previews #133 (October 2014 For Products On-Sale December 2014)
Marvel Universe Ultimate Spider-Man #29
New Warriors Vol. 1 The Kids Are All Fight TP GM 
Original Sin #5.4
Original Sin #6
Oz: Dorothy And The Wizard In Oz TP Kid Friendly
Savage Hulk #3
Secret Service Kingsman HC (Premiere Edition)
Silver Surfer #5
Thunderbolts #30
Uncanny Avengers #23
Wolverine #12
Wolverine And The X-Men #8
X-Force By Craig Kyle And Chris Yost The Complete Collection Vol. 2 TP
X-Force Vol. 1 Dirty Tricks TP
idw-logo.jpg Dark-Horse-Logo-2.jpg

24 #5
7th Sword #4 New Series
Borderlands The Fall Of Fyrestone #2 New Series
Cartoon Network Super Secret Crisis War #3 (Of 6) Kid Friendly
Ghostbusters #19
Godzilla Rulers Of Earth #15
Illegitimates HC
Kill Shakespeare The Mask Of Night #3 (Of 4)
Last Fall #2 (Of 5)
Magic The Gathering The Complete Collection Oversized HC
Mars Attacks Deluxe Edition HC
Ragnarok #1 New Series
Star Trek Harlan Ellison’s The City On The Edge Of Forever The Original Teleplay #3 (Of 5)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles The Works Vol. 3 HC
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Turtles In Time #3 (Of 4)
Transformers More Than Meets The Eye #32
Transformers Vs G.I. JOE #2 New Series
V-Wars #5
Archie Archives Vol. 10 HC
Baltimore The Witch Of Harju #2 (Of 3)
Blood Blockade Battlefront Vol. 6 TP
Captain Midnight #14
Conan The Avenger #5
Conan Vol. 16 The Song Of Belit HC
Deep Gravity #2 (Of 4)
Dream Thief Escape #3 (Of 4)
Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan The Sunday Comics Vol. 2 1934-1936 HC
Emily And The Strangers Breaking The Record #3 (Of 3) Final Issue
Goon Occasion Of Revenge #2 (Of 4)
Groo Vs Conan #2 (Of 4)
Halo Escalation #9
Hatsune Miku Unofficial Hatsune Mix TP
Massive #26
Mind MGMT #25
Pariah #7 (Of 8)
POP #1 (Of 4) New Mini-Series
Star Wars Legacy II #18
Sundowners #1 New Series
Tomb Raider #7
X Vol. 3 Siege TP

Acronym Key: VC = Variant Cover / HC = Hard Cover / TP = Trade Paperback

Zombicide: Can You Survive?

Zombicide © Guillotine Games
Zombicide © Guillotine Games

The zombie apocalypse. It’s a rare geek who hasn’t at least thought about it and what their plans would be. Personally I have my eye on the convenience store in my village; solid concrete block construction, metal shutters across the doors and windows, and enough tinned and dried foods to keep us going a good six months. Of course we all believe that we’d be the ones who could survive when the dead walk the Earth, but how can you be sure? Zombicide allows you and your friends to work together to achieve objectives in a customizable world filled with the undead.

Zombicide began life as a Kickstarter campaign from Cool Mini or Not and has already gone on to spawn an expansion (Toxic City Mall) and Zombicide Season Two: Prison Outbreak. Designed for one to six players in a cooperative team, the game is highly customizable and can be played at a range of difficulties. The game boards are built from a set of nine reversible numbered tiles which are laid out together to form city blocks. Beginners can start out with small two tile missions while experts can play advanced missions from the rule book, online, or constructing their own.

Zombicide set up for an "easy" mission in the rule book © Sophie Brown
Zombicide set up for an “easy” mission in the rule book © Sophie Brown

The aim of each game is to achieve the mission objectives. This can be as simple as entering the room containing the objective token and picking it up or involve gathering multiple tokens, locating food & water, neutralizing zombie spawn zones, and escaping the board. The flexibility of the game allows for endless play and no two missions will ever be alike. To achieve your objectives you will depend on what you can find by searching buildings. Basic weapons like frying pans can be upgraded for rifles and pistols but beware, noise attracts zombies so sometimes a quiet crowbar might be a better option than a noisy chainsaw. Combat takes place whenever zombies and hunters come together and is dice-based. Weapons are logically ranged with rifles able to shoot out targets down the street while frying pans are only available when the zombie is right on top of you. Hey, given a frying pan over nothing I’m taking it—it worked for Rapunzel right?

Throughout the game you play as a number of named characters, the number you control based on how many players are participating in your game. Each character has their own unique abilities that change as the game goes on and they rack up more zombie kills. As the characters experience grows, the number and type of zombies spawning onto the board increases in difficulty. At the beginning a blue level spawning might only produce a single new walker. Once a character has reached maximum (red) experience that same spawn card can produce up to seven walkers, multiple runners, or other zombie types such as the dreaded abominations. It’s another example of how the game grows with the players. Oh, and the difficulty of the spawn session is determined by the single character with the most experience so you might wanna try and not have one guy leveling up too much ahead of the others.

Controlling a character in the Zombicide app © Sophie Brown
Controlling a character in the Zombicide app © Sophie Brown

A number of additional sets are available to enhance your games. You can add dogs as companions or as canine zombies and even add to the arsenal of zombies looking to take you down. Soon to be released is the first Zombicide Compendium, a large book containing missions designed both by Guillotine Games and by fans. The compendium gathers together the many missions released online and several new ones including Boomtown, a seven-mission campaign to nuke a zombie town off the map. The official website is filled with resources to help gamers customize their games such as hi-res blank character and weapon cards. There’s also a free app for both iPad & Android that works as a digital character card, helping you keep track of your experience points and simplifying combat through digital rolling.

I love the freedom and flexibility of Zombicide. I can play a short mini game by myself or I can set up a three hour epic with a bunch of friends. The minifigures included (and you get a lot of them—72  in the base game alone) are nicely designed. I haven’t attempted painting mine so far; that’s a skill I’ve not yet tried so I dread to think how they’d turn out, but a quick Google search reveals some beautiful paint jobs by other game owners. The game is enough of a blank canvas to be adaptable to various different franchise variants too. I’ve seen custom fan-mods for The Walking Dead and The Last Of Us, and the Kickstarter perks included additional characters based on Shaun of The Dead, the Hannibal Lecter series, and The Shining. Basically, this game can become whatever you want it to be. The possibilities are endless.

Zombicide's storage leaves a lot to be desired when this is the best you can achieve © Sophie Brown
Zombicide’s storage leaves a lot to be desired when this is the best you can achieve © Sophie Brown

Of course nothing is perfect. My biggest gripe with the game is the box itself. Unlike many other games I own, Small World being a rather wonderful example, the inside of the box is something of a let down. There are no nice storage trays, instead the figures are held inside cheap plastic trays within cardboard boxes and the plastic tub for the extra pieces isn’t big enough to hold everything, meaning bits are constantly getting loose. It’s frustrating and makes it difficult to pack everything back inside in a way that allows the lid to sit on the box properly. There’s some lovely trays available at Battlefoam that are especially designed to hold all the pieces, but after spending $90 on the game I’d feel more than a little ticked off at having to add another $40 just to store it so the lid actually goes on and without risk of damage. Not when other companies are giving me that for free.

However storage is at best a minor gripe. Zombicide is an awesome game with limitless potential and with more seasons coming (season three was announced in 2013) the game will just continue to grow. I do wish there was an option to buy a version of the game with pre-painted miniatures for those of us without the time and skill to paint them ourselves, but I’m content enough to play with monotone plastic for the time being. Now if you’ll forgive me there’s a horde of zombies in my office that I should really be dealing with, wherever did I put that shotgun…?

GeekMom received this item for review purposes. 

That Time Zombies Reached Out From a NYC Sidewalk Grate [Video]

Walkers Lurk Below the Streets of NYC, Image: AMC

Thanks to The Walking Dead, zombies are all the rage these days. It doesn’t even have to be Halloween anymore for people to make zombie references. You’ll see untold numbers cosplaying as zombies at every convention, and if you live in New York City, they may have grabbed your ankles through a sidewalk grate.

I hate walking over those big grates because I was once told a horrible story about one giving way and a person falling to their untimely death. I was maybe eight at the time, but it’s stayed with me and to this day I hate walking over those grates.

Thanks to AMC, I’m thinking there are a few New Yorkers who will never, ever, ever walk over them again.

To promote the return of The Walking Dead this Sunday night at 9pm, they staged a little prank. It started with setting up what looked like a construction project complete with orange-vested workers and a big tent erected over a section of grates near Union Square.

The fake workers installed modified grates with spots that would pop loose for zombie hands to reach through while makeup artists create a little horde of Walkers. The Walkers crawled into the space beneath the grates and then all they had to do was wait for innocent, oblivious New Yorkers to wander past.

Yup, never walking over a sidewalk grate again. Ever. For the rest of my life.

Window Shopping Leads to Gift Ideas

river song's journal
River Song’s journal, part of the GeekMom geeky journal collection on eBay. Photo via eBay.

My eBay Collections were curated as part of a sponsored collaboration with eBay.

I’ve spent some time during recent months putting together groups of items for eBay to help launch their new Collections. I expected a lot of searching before I found just the right items, and that turned out to be exactly right, though it was also fun. But the hardest part happened when I was done. After looking over the GeekMom collections, I wanted to buy everything. One reason for that is because I filled collections with stuff I wished I could have in my own house.

For example, the S.H.I.E.L.D. collection has items featuring the current show, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., including shirts with the S.H.I.E.L.D. logo, a keychain, custom collectibles featuring Nick Fury and Black Widow, and sunglasses to complete your Agent Coulson look.

If you’re a fan of Joss Whedon’s work beyond his current show, like me, well, I couldn’t resist a Joss Whedon is My Master Now collection. This includes t-shirts, DVDs, and other items from his previous shows, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Angel, Dollhouse, and Firefly. Though my favorite is the mash-up t-shirt with the logo: “And Buffy Staked Edward. The End.”

Some of the collections. Image: eBay
Some of the collections. Image: eBay

I moved over to my other interests for the remaining collections. I admit, I got lost on eBay for a while looking at all the amazing teapots available. I pulled a few for the I’m a Little Teapot collection, from the black cat teapot perfect for Halloween to the one that looks like a house to the Lenox pumpkin teapot. I also grabbed some infusers—yes, they come in robot-style—and loose tea. There were more sellers of great loose tea than I expected. Score.

With Must Have Coffee, I exchanged the pots for coffee makers, mugs, and several types of coffee. My skewed sense of humor immediately settled on a coffee mug that resembled a grenade entitled “complaint department.” But I also found mugs featuring Grumpy Cat, one featuring the actual Grumpy of the Seven Dwarves, and some beautifully made pottery-style mugs. There are also several coffee makers, including a Keurig machine, and Keurig coffee K-cups. And if you’re a purist (like my husband), whole bean coffee too.

steampunk, watch gears, men's watches
STEAMPUNK New Mens Swiss Design Men’s Silver Skeleton Man’s Mechanical Watch

The other collections are somewhat unrelated but I like to think Sherlock Holmes (the Elementary My Dear Watson collection) would love the Watches That Reflect the Steampunk Style. Sherlock Holmes—be he from the original Doyle stories, Jeremy Brett, or Benedict Cumberbatch—doesn’t feel right without the proper pocket watch.

Finally, you’ll need proper boots from my Coolest Retro Boots collection to run from zombies, though there are other ways to survive in the Zombies and How to Survive Them collection. Certainly, using the pirate boots from the boot collection to take over a ship and sail away from zombies would completely work as an escape. (I need to research whether zombies can swim. They can’t run, so surely they can’t swim?)

If not, the Zombie Survival Kit, gas mask, zombie slayer knives (pretend), or some movies in the Zombie collection might help even the survival odds. And what is more important to survival than keeping the proper notes to pass on knowledge?

The Geeky Journals collection can help with that. Besides the River Song journal, pictured above, there are journals with the Bat-signal, with illustrations from The Hobbit, pocket notebooks, a weather journal, and one with a Hunger Games-theme. (Katniss really knew something about survival.)

I loved every second of putting these collections together, except it was torture to not be able to buy everything I was adding to them. But it helped me create a wish list for myself for the future! Though I hope I won’t ever have reason for the Zombie Survival Kit. Hmm..perhaps my next collection should include boats.

My eBay Collections were curated as part of a sponsored collaboration with eBay. #FOLLOWITFINDIT

Ten Questions with Award-Winning Science Fiction and Fantasy Author Mur Lafferty

Mur Lafferty, after winning the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer at this year’s Hugo Awards. Check out the tiara!

In September 2013, author and podcaster Mur Lafferty was named the John W. Campbell Best New Writer at the  Hugo Awards (the science fiction and fantasy community’s version of the Oscars). The Campbell Award for Best New Writer is given annually to one author who has published his or her first professional work within the past two years. The Campbell comes with its own tiara and a list of previous winners that reads like a who’s who of modern science fiction, including C.J. Cherryh, Ted Chiang, Nalo Hopkinson, Cory Doctorow, John Scalzi, and Elizabeth Bear.

Mur Lafferty has been a presence in the geek community for so long, I can’t imagine it without her. So when she and her daughter (AKA Princess Scientist) agreed to talk to me for GeekMom, I was thrilled. I spoke with them about her new novel, The Shambling Guide to New York City (Orbit 2013), the award, advice she shares with Princess Scientist, and whether she’s pro faster-than-light (FTL) or not.

GeekMom: Congratulations on winning the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer of 2012 at this year’s Worldcon! Aside from getting (accidentally) smacked in the face by John Scalzi just after the event, how has your life changed?

Mur: Thanks! Little has changed. I’ve done a few interviews and was on our local NPR show this week, which is exciting. I have, as Mary Robinette Kowal says, a “new first name” and a tiara that so far I’ve only worn while writing by myself. Although I do want to vacuum with it on. Just because. The deep scar from Scalzi hitting me in the face with his Hugo is slowly fading, but the bitter memory remains.

GeekMom: You’ve created an amazing podcast called “I Should Be Writing.” What was the goal behind the project?

Mur: I felt that even though I was nowhere near a pro writer, as I hadn’t even sold anything, I did understand various things in writing, such as how rejections don’t mean you’re hopeless, and how you have to work to get better. I knew a lot of beginning writers who seemed to feel so alone when they felt lost and adrift and have the illusion that everyone’s career was moving faster and along a greased road made of gold and happiness. So I started it to let people know that they’re not alone, that these feelings are normal, that rejection is normal, and writing bad stories, also normal.

GeekMom: Geek or Nerd?

Mur: Geek.

GeekMom: FTL yes/no?

Mur: Totally FTL. I just don’t understand people who get mad about this. Without FTL, our space SF is limited to either generation starships or journeys within our solar system. Those stories are great, don’t get me wrong, but they’re not all that you should be able to experience. If you want to call me heretic and say FTL stories are fantasy, not SF, then I’ll say cool, they’re fantasy, now shut up and let me write my fantasy FTL story.

Mur Lafferty’s The Shambling Guide to New York City (Orbit 2013)

GeekMom: Tell me a little about The Shambling Guide to New York City. How did Zoe’s workplace evolve as you wrote the story?

Mur: Interesting question. I had to think of an easy way to get a light tight building in the city, and a condemned theater seemed the best way. From there I had to populate it, and I didn’t want too many zombies and vampires, so I started reading folklore and mythology and figuring out what other monsters I could put in there. So we have a death goddess/psychopomp, a water sprite, zombies, vampires, and a succubus and an incubus.

GeekMom: A question for Princess Scientist (Mur’s daughter): A bunch of us think your mom is darn cool. What’s the best piece of advice she’s given you? What’s the best piece of advice you’ve given her?

Princess Scientist: Best advice she’s given me: How to gently tell a boy that I don’t like him. (That’s LIKE like.)

Best advice I’ve given her: [When Mom gets jealous of another writer] You should be happy for him/her because think of how bad you’d feel if someone came up, pissed off that you’re doing well. You’re probably going to get up there [succeed] anyway.

Mur Lafferty’s Ghost Train to New Orleans (Shambling Guides) – coming from Orbit in 2014.

GeekMom: Another question for Princess Scientist: If you could ask your mom one question about her work, what would it be?

Princess Scientist: How do you get ideas?

Mur: I get ideas all the time, the problem is trying to decide which ones are worth going after and which ones are not worth my time. The more you create, the more ideas you get.

GeekMom: Which authors have influenced you the most?

Mur: Growing up: Robin McKinley, Anne McCaffrey, and Ursula K. LeGuin. Now, Neil Gaiman, China Mieville, and Connie Willis. And of course Dougas Adams, taken far too young, is an inspiration.

GeekMom:  What’s on your To Be Read shelf?

My TBR list is a source of great anxiety for me, especially as I know more authors whose books I haven’t read yet, but they’re there. Books I’m not ashamed to mention: I’m currently in the middle of the Kitty series by Carrie Vaughn, and I’m reading Railsea by China Mieville to my daughter. I am looking forward to Dr. Sleep by Stephen King, and I just got Elizabeth Bear’s new book, Book of Iron.

John W. Campbell Award Winner Mur Lafferty is an author and podcaster from Durham, NC. Her next book, Ghost Train to New Orleans, comes out March 4, 2014.


Ex-Patriots: A Novel Exclusive Excerpt and Giveaway

Ex-Patriots Cover
Broadway Paperbacks

Released on April 23, 2013, and published by Broadway Paperbacks, Ex-Patriots: A Novel is Peter Clines’ follow-up novel to Ex-Heroes: A Novel. GeekMom has an exclusive excerpt. Plus, we are giving away signed copies of Ex-Heroes: A Novel, and Ex-Patriots: A Novel, courtesy of Broadway Paperbacks, to one lucky GeekMom reader.

The synopsis of Ex-Patriots: A Novel reads:

Continue reading Ex-Patriots: A Novel Exclusive Excerpt and Giveaway

Doctor Who‘s Karen Gillan As The Zombie Spokesmodel For z’Ombéal Skin Care

Zombie Karen Gillan, Image: The Nerdist
Zombie Karen Gillan, Image: The Nerdist

It’s not easy maintaining a healthy, still-alive glow when you’re a zombie, but Doctor Who‘s Karen Gillan is here to help! She’s been turned into an undead corpse spokesmodel in this hilarious skit set to air during the zombie-themed episode of The Nerdist.

Watch as she suffers the indignity of rotting flesh, only to be saved by the wonder of z’Ombéal, Walking Dead Skin Care. This is just one of three Karen Gillan skits written by GeekMom’s very own Kristen Rutherford that will be a part of the zombielicious episode. Check out The Nerdist on BBC America this Saturday to see more of zombie Karen.

Book Review: Robot Zombie Frankenstein!

How many of the following does your preschooler find appealing: robots, zombies, monsters, pirates, superheroes, pie? The more of those you say “Yes” to, the more you should take a look at Robot Zombie Frankenstein! Watch the preview video, which shows you how the first few pages go:

Robot Zombie Frankenstein! is a very simple story of one-upmanship between two robots who have a great costume box. The pictures are made from basic shapes and colors, which give you a little bit more to talk about with a small child. What color is that robot’s eye patch? What shape is his body?

The entire book is a conversation between the robots, which means it can be a lot of fun for you and your pre-schooler (or two of your kids) to each be a robot and take turns reading lines. Because each robot’s line is additive and based on his costume change, after just a few reads, even a younger child who can’t read the words can look at the pictures and participate. Bedtime for my three- and six-year-old now sounds like this:

“Robot ZOMBIE!”
“Robot zombie FRANKENSTEIN!”

You get the idea. And I promise — the robot buddies work things out in the end.

At author Annette Simon’s website, you can download the Robot Zombie Frankenstein! Fun Kit, which includes 16 pages of activities to print. My favorite is the Bot Builder, which lets you cut out all the robot parts to build your own.


How to Make a Super Easy Zombie Cake

Our zombie cake

What’s better than birthday cake? Zombie birthday cake, obviously. I have few domestic talents, but this is a cake that even the most clueless chef can tackle with ease. Mistakes? No such thing. This zombie rises up out of a grave of chocolate cake, frosting, and crumbled cookies.

What you need:

What to do:

  • bake or buy your cake
  • line a cookie sheet with foil and put the cake on top
  • hollow out a small space in the middle of the cake (or use a bundt pan as I did)
  • frost – no points for neatness, sloppy is better
  • smear some of the frosting thinly over the exposed foil to make mud/dirt
  • put your cake topper in the middle of the cake
  • cake toppers are generally naked, cover in frosting to create clothing
  • smear green gel food coloring and some of the black frosting on the cake topper to create a zombie look
  • separate the creme filling from the cookie shell of the Oreos and crush the remaining cookies
  • arrange larger broken cookies in a circle around the zombie to suggest that she is rising from her grave
  • sprinkle smaller cake and cookie crumbs around the cake and into the frosting on the foil
  • adorn with gummy worms
  • stick in eyeballs or other plastic creepy things for atmospheric effect
  • cover a cardboard box in foil, and decorate to create a headstone (with happy birthday wishes) for your zombie’s grave

That’s it! It’s easy enough to do the same thing with cupcakes. We used mini bundt pans and small cake toppers for these little treats. To create small headstones, we used the creme filling leftover from the Oreos to frost mini-chocolate bars and then decorated with gel icing. No birthday for a while? There’s always Halloween. Ah, heck, who needs an excuse? These are good for the zombie geek any day of the year.SAMSUNG

The Return of the CDC Zombies: The Zombie Pandemic Graphic Novel

Are You Ready? Image: Centers for Disease Control.

Last week, just in time for NY Comic Con, the Centers for Disease Control went live with a graphic novel following up on their May blog post “Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse.”  The head of the CDC’s Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response was on hand at NYCC this past weekend, where he handed out hardcopies of the comic and even spoke on the “Zombie Summit” panel.

In the story, readers follow Todd, Julie and their dog Max as they learn of a virus, take appropriate preparedness actions and fend off the attacking zombies.  Readers will also learn about how the CDC worked feverishly on a vaccine to combat the virus.  By the end of the story, the vaccines are distributed to Todd and Julie, who are hunkered down in a shelter.  Stay tuned for a surprise at the end!

This outreach program has been recognized as an effective, popular way to educate Americans on emergency preparedness. Using a scenario that could apply to anyone, all readers can realize that preparedness isn’t just for people living on coastlines, in Tornado Alley, or in urban areas.  It’s important to be prepared!

Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to view a PDF of Preparedness 101: Zombie Pandemic.  You can also visit the center’s social media page for badges and widgets, and this site for free posters to share with others who you might feel aren’t yet prepared for the pandemic.

View GeekMom Jessamyn’s post from this past May about the CDC’s original blog post about being prepared for a zombie apocalypse.


The Zombie Family Lives

Crowd in front of the Lawrence Zombie Walk
Lawrence Zombie Walk 2011

Want to know what a crowd of almost 900 people dressed as zombies looks like? It looks something like this.

Yes, I do think a zombie march is a fun family activity. There’s makeup and costumes. There’s marching. There’s acting. There’s making crowds of people laugh at the absurdity of it all. I’ll clarify that my kids have never actually seen a true zombie movie, nor are they likely to see one anytime soon. That’s really not what this is about. It’s pure camp and pure fun.  This year, my husband organized the Lawrence, Kansas event and transformed it from a flash mob into a charity fundraiser.

There are all sorts of zombie walks across the country. Some are charity fundraisers, like the fantastic Iowa City event, and some are just loosely organized gatherings for the fun of it. If you don’t have an event near you, you can always start one up.

My Daughter the Zombie
My daughter the zombie

Our 2011 zombie attire tended to be on the practical side. My daughter wore a ghostly pirate T-shirt clearly derived from a certain Caribbean themed movie series. My son and I wore an official event T-shirt. Last year we had a zombie princess and a skeleton boy, but this year we just didn’t have the time to make more costumes. Casual dress codes don’t mean you can’t be creepy.

My son being a zombie
Mmm, doll flesh!

There were plenty of elaborate costumes. Some kids went all out with fake blood and even foam organs dangling from their mouths. There was a zombie Santa offering to let zombie children pose with him (my kids declined.) A piece of advice for would-be-zombies: Go for exaggerated makeup, because the bulk of the march takes place at night, and subtle just won’t show up.

I took an early day from work to help get everyone ready. How often does your husband ask you to come home from work early to help him with his hair? He had the most elaborate costume of the bunch of us and  went with a classic not-quite-zombie you might recognize.

My husband the zombie
Don’t say his name!


The sheet in his hand is full of stickers. He managed a “body count” for the walk by handing everyone a sticker and then counting how many he’d distributed. He  also organized event insurance, found sponsors, printed T-shirts, and walked around with paper towels and cleaning solution to wipe fake blood off of any store windows. Phew!  He managed to double last year’s attendance and raise $1000 in cash and wish-list items for the Lawrence Humane Society. He’s already in talks with the city library to coordinate their reading list for next year. How fun is that?

How does it work? Each zombie march is going to have their own rules, so check to see what’s available locally.  Our walk in Lawrence starts gathering in the evening around 6:30, so it’s still light outside, and everyone can admire the costumes during the daylight. In spite of the gore, ours is a very family friendly event and has lots of children.

This year we had a PA system and an MC. He warmed up the crowd with fake eyeballs and let them know the rules. Oh yes, there are rules. Zombies obey traffic signals, because we don’t like to see anyone become zombies for real. Zombies refrain from banging on glass, because it’s scary for real when the glass breaks, and then the store owner makes you pay for it.

The march started at 7:00 pm when it’s dark. Everyone walks up one side of downtown and then down the other. That’s it.  You might think that’s very dull, but you should see the crowd of spectators laughing and enjoying the whole thing. There’s also the camaraderie you experience with your fellow zombies as you shuffle up and down the street moaning about brains, and the high-fives for particularly gory or funny outfits. If it’s not on your bucket list, it should be.

Once we’d shuffled and moaned our way around town, we settled in for some “brain food” at a local downtown restaurant. We weren’t the only zombies craving pizza that night. After that it was bath time, and I tucked my tuckered little zombies into bed.

Not brains!