I’d like to get one thing out of the way before I let you know my thoughts on this book: I dislike zombies. I think they’re gross, overdone, and quite honestly very freaky. You can’t imagine my disappointment when I asked my son what his favourite monster was and his answer was zombies.
“Why?” I asked. Because they eat brains. Ugh.
All of that being said I absolutely loved Dying for a Living by Kory M Shrum, and this book has zombies in it. Well, zombie is not the politically correct term for it, but that’s what rude, bigoted people call them, so it counts right?
I found Dying for a Living through Bookbub, a website where I signed up to receive amazing deals on books. Some books I can get for free, some are just a great deal. Some authors are new and just starting out and others are well known. All I had to do was subscribe to their site and they send me a list of cool books with major discounts every day!
Shrum said using Bookbub has been a great experience for her. “As a reader, it’s very exciting. As an author, it can be tricky to get featured. They have stringent requirements before they accept your book for promotion and you have to pay for your promotion.
“For me personally, it’s been a great experience. Through three Bookbub features, I’ve put over 75,000 copies of Dying for a Living into circulation, which translated to a nice little sales boost for the other books in the series.”
The story follows Jesse Sullivan, a girl who can die and come back to life. There are only few exceptions to this rule, but for the most part if she’s shot, stabbed or has a heart attack, she will come back. In fact, she’s using this particular condition to make a living as a death replacement agent.
Picture this: You go see your doctor for your regular checkup. He has a nurse take your bloodwork, look at your pee and check your blood pressure. The doctor probes your nether regions, taking whatever samples are needed. Then it’s off to see someone who can predict, within a year’s time, when the day you die will be.
Jesse’s job is to go hang out with a person who is supposed to die for the whole day. Whether they are a businessman, janitor or game geek, her job is to stay by their side until they are ready to call it a life. She then swoops in to save the day and their life.
It’s not nearly so simple as that, of course, and Jesse suddenly finds herself in a situation where people actually want her dead. Dead, dead, as Shrum put it in the book.
According to Shrum, Jesse wasn’t always a death replacement agent. She said she’s had the characters figured out for a while, but it took reading a book on writing to get the ball rolling.
“I was thinking about Jesse and the gang as early as 2004 or 2005. I wrote two whole books featuring Jesse, Ally and crew. These books were pretty good, but something was missing.
“Then I read How I Write by Janet Evanovich. In this book, she talks about the importance of your character’s job. That’s when I knew what Jesse was missing. A cool job. And what can be cooler than a person who dies for a paycheck?
“So I trashed the first two novels and rewrote the entire thing. That was the beginning of Jesse as you know her in Dying for a Living.”
The entire book was action packed and honestly I had a hard time putting it down. This isn’t the only book in Shrum’s series, either, which makes this even better. Because, as I’ve stated before, I love to read a good series.
The characters are real and I was feeling what Jesse was feeling throughout the book, right down to who her significant other was going to be. That was a tough one and I’m still not sure if I’m satisfied with her choice. Which was undoubtedly the place Shrum wanted to leave me at the end of the book.
There is still a stigma out in the readerverse about self published books, so some readers might hesitate to give this series a try. To that I say “Fear not, brave reader, for you will not be disappointed!”
In fact, Shrum did try the traditional publishing route for Dying for a Living, but she says that route can be tedious.
“I’m a wretchedly impatient person. In traditional publishing, you write a book and find an agent. Then you wait for your agent to sell your book. Then someone buys your book and agrees to publish it—about a year or two after they agreed to buy it. If you’re doing the math, it can easily take four years to get a book written and published. One book!
“I tried this method. I started writing Dying for a Living in August 2007 and got a classy New York agent for it in January 2010. But by January 2014, my agent still hadn’t sold the book. So we broke up and I published it myself in March 2014 because I simply couldn’t wait any longer. And it worked out great!”
Whether a person is looking to go the self publishing route or the traditional route, Shrum has some words of encouragement for aspiring writers:
“Keep writing. Finish things. Immediately start writing something else. And remember luck favors the bold. And in this business, it’s a lot about luck.”
I encourage you to check out Dying for a Living, and if, like me, you find yourself speed reading through the books, she has another book for you to look forward to. Shadows in the Water is a dark fantasy novel about a vigilante who uses her special ability to hunt down the crime lords who murdered her family. This book will hit shelves at the end of 2016 or the beginning of 2017.
Shrum’s blog can be found at www.korymshrum.blogspot.com, and you can learn more about her experience with Bookbub and her upcoming novels there.
The Beguiled Bibliophile