Minionmas, zombies and 15 fans

For the holidays, I ran a contest for the Dark Fairy Queen writing group minions. I called it Minionmas and the way to enter was by sharing the work of others. People gathered chances to win by sharing (and purchasing!) books and content of their fellow minions and by tagging it with #Minionmas. We had over a hundred entries, which made the #DFQ very happy.

I did this because I believe that for indie authors to ever succeed, they must band together to support each other, generously. Helping others makes them want to help you.


The winner (chosen randomly from the entries) won a guest post on Yearning for Wonderland.

The winner was J. Whitworth Hazzard and his very insightful post on the perils and pleasures of being an indie author is below. Please read it and leave some #minionluv in the comments.

And, for what it’s worth, he actually has 16 fans.

15 Fans

By J. Whitworth Hazzard

As of today, I have exactly fifteen fans. Trust me, I counted them carefully.

For someone who’s put out three serials on Amazon, been in four anthologies, and won a score of flash fiction contests, that doesn’t seem like a lot, does it? It’s not a mistake.

Mistakes were big for me in 2013. I learned some big lessons this past year, in what I consider my journey from novice to almost-but-not-quite-published writer.

My biggest lesson was that now is my time to fail. In all sorts of wonderful, spectacular ways. It’s not a bad thing to fail, either. It’s a very, very good thing. Off the top of my head, I can rattle off failures in grammar, plotting, editing, formatting, cover art, hiring contractors, critiquing, marketing, and networking. Hell, I even pissed off one of my beta readers so bad, they don’t talk to me anymore. I screwed up. And I’m glad I’m doing it now.

The small scale failures have helped me to balance my enthusiasms. There’s less pressure to be perfect and more incentive to take risks. When you allow yourself to take risks, you’ll wind up with stories that don’t fit into a marketing category, but damn if those aren’t the stories that are fun to tell. Dead Sea Games, a plucky little tale about a teenage survivor of the zombie apocalypse in New York City isn’t the kind of work that attracts the six-figure, debut novel deal. Those aren’t going to land on my desk. Realistically, (and this is a hard truth to swallow) my craft just isn’t there yet.

If some dark fairy queen did drop off a contract with lots of zeroes attached, I’d likely start having anxiety attacks. My work is fair on most days, good on some, and great rarely, and though I wish that readers would give authors second and third chances, I don’t think that’s realistic. With the world filling up with authors of the published and self-published kind, and entertainment of all other stripes filling the small voids, a reader’s time to invest is shrinking rapidly.

Fifteen fans are enough for me. I love them. I know them. And they’ll get me through this awkward phase. This horrible, ego-crushing stage where you have good ideas and good intentions, but can’t seem to translate them to success, either on the page or on the bottom line of sales. I hope I eventually grow out of this stage, but it takes a kind of fearlessness/obstinacy to keep making these mistakes.

Fifteen million fans would crush me under the weight of each tiny error and my journey would be over. But my fifteen fans forgive me my blatant overuse of commas, my melodramatic cheese, and the giant plot holes regarding zombies on the streets of New York. These fans are the basis of my motivation. They sustain me.

I think of myself as a storyteller. Happiness, to me, is sitting around a campfire telling ghost stories. I’ve watched eyes light up as you unfold mysteries and hit those punch lines with perfect timing. That is what I’m hooked on, and if I only ever get to tell stories to a room of fifteen people…well, that’s good enough for me.

Get J. Whitworth Hazzard’s first book, Dead Sea Games: Adrift, for only 99 cents on Amazon – you’re sure to be hooked!



One and half million people used to live on the island of Manhattan. Used to. Now—after the Emergency—all but a tiny fraction of those wander the streets as the living dead, searching for human flesh to devour. Jeremy Walters is one of the few survivors, living on the rooftops, making every day count adrift in a sea of zombies.

The adults may be content just to be alive, but Jeremy knows that the Colony is a cruel joke. To a teenager, just existing isn’t enough. Without hope, without a future, without any chance of escape, they might as well all be dead.

When two of their own go missing, this fifteen-year-old boy with a bad attitude and reckless streak a mile wide is determined to go after the lost survivors and bring them home. He’ll teach them all what it means to be a true hero. Zombies, gangs, and treacherous NYC landscape are the least of Jeremy’s worries. He’s got to come back alive—or his mother will kill him.


About the Author

J. Whitworth Hazzard lives in the vast cornfields of Illinois with his wife, and four nearly perfect children.  A Geek-for-Hire by day, J. Whitworth has worked for over a decade fixing minor computer problems, some of which he did not even cause.   He prepares technical documents for a living and tries not to include any zombies in reports on server upgrades and network outages (although not always successfully).

Dr. Hazzard has a PhD in molecular biophysics that he now uses to figure out how to scientifically justify the existence of mythical creatures.  Trained in science and critical thinking, J. Whitworth spends his leisure time writing fiction that would make his former professors cringe.  He has been a life-long writer and has spent more than his fair share of time writing about all kinds of ridiculous things.  His dream of writing for a living started in the 5th grade when his five page story “The Blood and Guts 500” entranced and thrilled his classmates.  His passionate prosody received a standing ovation and from that day forward he was hooked on the art of story telling.

Follow Dr. Hazzard’s adventures in fiction on:

Twitter: @Zombiemechanics (

Facebook: J. Whitworth Hazzard (

Web: Zombiemechanics Blog (

Tales of a Zombie Olive

So my lovely friend Holly is running a zombie flash fiction contest on her hilarious blog, Confessions of a Stuffed Olive.

She draws funny cartoons of olives, cats and other creatures. The winner of her contest will get their story illustrated by her.

Artwork owned by Confessions of a Stuffed Olive

You may recall the last time I did a zombie-themed story. That little story won the Fan Favorite contest run by J. Whitworth Hazzard.

I swore then that I would not write another zombie tale.

I lied. Not only did I have to write another flash fiction zombie tale, it had to be a funny one. CURSE MY LUCK!

Of course, my sense of humor is a little warped, so you can see the result:


A Life-Long Dream

She carefully traced a carmine line around her lips. They weren’t nearly as full as they used to be, so she had to employ all her arts to evoke youthful beauty. A hint of blusher, a quick hairbrush and she was ready to go.

“I, Norma Jean Pintucker, accept the crown of Miss Yuba City; it’s a life-long dream for me. I’d like to thank my agent, Quincy…”

Norma Jean frowned. What –was- her agent’s name? It rhymed with “squirter”, she was fairly sure. Her memory was worsening.

As she drove her 2006 Audi to the Convention Center, she fretted, “Werter. Frankfurter.” She examined her reflection in the rearview mirror, “Ugh, my skin looks so pasty.”

Once she reached the stage door, she patted her hair into place and whispered, “Showtime.”

The crowning ceremony had already started without her. That wasn’t right. She struggled through the heavy velvet curtain, applause ringing in her ears.

“I’m here!” she shouted, pushing some highlighted blonde stranger in a showy dress away from the microphone.

She plucked the tiara from the velvet pillow and stepped into the spotlight.

“I accept the crown of Miss Yuba City today. I’d like to thank my agent, Quincy-“

She was saved from recalling his name by the scream in the audience.


Just then, her lower jaw fell off and clattered to the stage floor.

She gingerly placed the tiara on her head, kicking her jaw into the orchestra pit, “Thank you, ish been a life-long dream.”


Copyright Brian Cameron


No Soda for Zombie Killers

I know that all my readers have been breathlessly awaiting my latest #ZAP progress report. Or not.
It’s easy to be gung ho when you start making a life change, but what about ten weeks in? Let’s check in with our beleaguered heroine, shall we?
So, I’d been running, running, running, every other day. And yet I had sort of plateaued as far as weight goals.
Please excuse my indelicacy, but it seemed like the fat was just sitting on top of the muscle. Thus, my pants felt tighter than ever. Even though I’m sure I was burning some fat, I wasn’t really monitoring my diet much.

For me, even if I exercise regularly, if I don’t eat better it doesn’t do much of anything apparently. So I was getting my legs much more toned and a better overall appearance but not losing all that much weight.

A casual glance at my daily diet would reveal why: fast food, lots of processed, high-salt and fat foods, lots of sugar. And, lots of soda.

Apparently this whole fitness revelation was going to involve even more pain and frustration than it already had – I was going to have to start cutting calories.

Allow me to preface this by saying that I am a female who has NEVER counted calories, never even really dieted. Oh sure, I would flirt with eating better occasionally, but I just could never turn down that bowl of crab bisque. Or that freshly baked Krispy Kreme donut. Or…okay, I’d better stop now.

I have a pretty positive body image, but even I couldn’t imagine putting on my wedding dress and having everything squish out. 
1) No Moar Soda
This was actually a hard one for me. Really hard. I love Coca Cola Classic. I cannot drink diet drinks, they leave a funny aftertaste on my tongue. But a 12 oz. can of Coke has 140 calories. And who can stop at one? My fiance pointed out that I’m likely one of those people who needs to stop cold turkey. So I did.
I had my last soda on Monday, October 22nd. It was delicious. But I also realized that it’s keeping me chubby. 1 soda/day x 365 days x 10 years = MANY POUNDS OF SUGAR FAT.
See how good I am at math? This calorie counting thing would be a breeze.
So, no soda. No lemonade or coffee (can only drink with major sugar anyway) or any other equally sugared substitute. I’ve only had water or a few glasses of orange juice since.
2) No Moar Fast Food
My last two years in Florida were a string of fast food meals. I mean it. Breakfast, lunch and dinner came in a little greasy bag. My car smelled like fries. When I cleaned it out, I would throw away 2-4 fast food bags filled with sticky wrappers. McDonalds, Wendys, Chik-fil-A, Arby’s, Sonic, Taco Bell, Burger King, you name it. 
There were two simple reasons for this. One, I was poorer than I have been in a long time. I could eat at McDonalds for $3.18. Two, I worked a great deal and was always in the car. I am not very organized when I am busy and grocery shopping became a time-consuming expense that I couldn’t manage.
Two years of this took its toll, which leads me to this moment when I am sharing all kinds of fun Anna facts with you.
3) No Moar Potato Chips, Candy or Other Delicious Junk Food
I have a sweet tooth and a major weakness for junk food. So I had to outsmart my brain. I found these new flavored Quaker Rice Cake Chips that crunch, so I feel like I am eating chips. The candy is more difficult. I do like Fruit Leathers, as they taste just like Fruit Roll-ups. 
I gave away all of our leftover Halloween candy in desperation, just took it into the office in a basket that had a hand-lettered sign that read:


Very poignant, neh? But moderation in all things. I did have some Skittles today…and they were yummy!
4) Face Stuffing Accountability
I got a handy little free app for my phone, courtesy of Angela Goff. It’s called MyFitnessPal and it allows me to log everything I eat. I turn it into a little game, trying to get under my 1400 daily calories. Not so easy. I had a banana mini-shake at Sonic, less than 10 bleeping ounces, and it was 542 CALORIES. 
So my learning curve was a little steep. But I’m doing much better now, except on Saturday when I misread the serving size for a dish. Apparently dieters eat a two-inch wrap portion whereas I would naturally eat all four inches. Sheesh.
5) Zombie Running
Let us not forget the central focus of #ZAP or Zombie Apocalypse Preparation: train like a moofawonker (sorry, this blog is PG-13). It is quite cold now by the time I get home, so I have to come up with some creative solutions as I can no longer run the neighborhood.

I have started high-speed Mall Walking with my mom, which I consider equally good #ZAP training. All the good zombie movies have a mall sequence. I’ll know where everything is. And yes, I haven’t missed the hilarity of it. 

Anyone have any innovative inside workout ideas that doesn’t involve a gym membership?
I’d love to hear your calorie counting/diet/exercise WINS and FAILS. 
Even with a FAIL, even when you fall down, the only rule is you have to pick yourself back up.