Back in March I started talking about a new zombie related project I was working on, and no
one was surprised. Considering I frequently wear my blood spattered “This is my zombie killing shirt” t-shirt out in public, can we really say we expected anything different from the woman who casually stockpiles canned goods in her basement in case of a sudden outbreak or Trump election? (Truthfully, it’s undecided which would be worse, but either way, I’m not going down hungry)
Anyhow, the zombie project.
I cannot be more excited to share with you all the newest nonsense I’ve been writing. Jack and Shea stumbled into my life during grad school, outrunning zombies through the streets of Boston, and they’ve stuck with me in the months since. I’m a big fan of the strong female protagonist, and Shea Parker hasn’t disappointed. She’s shown herself to be quick thinking, calm under pressure, and pretty damn good at MacGyver-ing broken down cars on the side of the freeway (Is my age showing? That reference doesn’t seem like something the kids are saying these days).
All that to say, I’m feeling pretty ecstatic about this one, and I think you guys are really going to like it. My husband swears he couldn’t put it down, but that might be because I’m the one who cooks his dinner and he’s afraid to say otherwise. Either way, I can’t wait.
Luckily, some big opportunities have been thrown my way.
Spring of 2016 has turned out to be a crazy ride, and summer promises to be only crazier. I recently had the terrific honor of being chosen as a first place winner in the 16th annual Writer’s Digest Short Story competition (You can read the story here). The win came as a huge surprise, because short stories are pretty much my Kryptonite. Talking slower than 100 mph and keeping it under 45 minutes is my Kryptonite. Seriously. Some days my own father won’t even get on the phone with me because listening to me talk is that exhausting.
But, here we are, and I’m extraordinarily blessed to be able to pick up this year’s copy of “Show Us Your Shorts” and see my by-line at the top of the table of contents. The entire experience has been nothing short of amazing, and I’m pumped for the chance to wedge my toe in that big door marked Publishing.
This August, my dad and I are road tripping to New York for the Writer’s Digest Conference, where I’m hoping to network my buns off and hopefully snag an interested agent or two. Keep your fingers crossed that I meet some professionals who dig Shea Parker and Jack Casey as much as I do.
In the meantime, I’ll keep plugging away at The Second Death sequel draft (Which, by the way, is NOT called The Third Death, as my husband keeps insisting) and counting down the days until the conference.
Below is a little tidbit from what I’ve been working on these days. This snippet is from book two, The Sleeper Initiative (Once again, JEFFREY, not The Third Death).
A twig snaps somewhere to my right and I pivot hard, swinging the barrel of the gun towards the source of the noise. The trees before me are empty and dark. A feathery flap disturbs the air over my head and I look up to see the downy underbelly of a bird taking flight. Bits of decaying bramble spill down into my face and I pull Jack’s cap low over my eyes.
A cry, feeble and forlorn, echoes out from behind a tree somewhere up ahead. I feel a lurch of relief rush through me and I take off running, careless of the sound of my boots crunching through the rotting undergrowth. Through a tangle of black bramble I can see a flicker of white cotton—the tip of an elbow.
“June,” I call.
The crying falls silent at the sound of my voice. I stop running, keeping my gaze trained on the pale elbow that protrudes obviously from behind the tree. Her face appears, pallid beneath the brown fuzz of her scalp. Her green eyes are rimmed with tears. She presses her fingers to her lips, staring out at me with childish despair written across her freckled features. I press the gun into the small of my back, concealing it. Holding out my left palm, I gesture for her to come closer.
“It’s okay,” I whisper. “It’s okay, you can come with me.”
I know that she can’t understand me, but I can’t help myself from talking to her anyway. I hope beyond hope that the tone of my voice conveys a sense of trustworthiness—of calm. I take a slow step towards her and she draws back from me, letting out a squeal of fear. Her green eyes widen into perfect circles of horror and a wavering cry falls from her lips.
“I’m not going to hurt you,” I insist.
One trembling finger moves away from her lips and she points toward something behind me, her mouth moving in wordless silence. I freeze, momentarily confused. Gooseflesh rises across my skin in rippling bumps of fear. Something snorts heavily at my back and I feel a rush of air, warm and moist, tickle the nape my neck.
“Monster,” June remarks, her voice small and babyish.
I turn slowly, feeling my arms and legs go ice cold. I am suddenly face to face with the male Feral that had charged the car, staring up into a pair of shaded hollows where his eyes should have been. His lips are peeled back from his teeth in a crooked snarl. Most of his nose is gone, leaving only two reptilian holes in the center of his face. Behind me, June lets out a feeble wail of terror. The Feral doesn’t move—doesn’t respond to the sound. I notice that a thick line of blood dribbles out of each of his ears. Droplets of fat, black gore quaver at his chin.
He had been leaning up against Dominic’s window when the LRAD device first began emitting the sonic whine. I wonder if he’s gone deaf from the blast. Behind me, June cries out again, louder this time.
“MONSTER,” she shouts, her word fading to a sharp cry. The Feral remains absolutely still before me. He leans down, bringing his face close to mine. I can taste the sour reek of rot on his tongue and I bite my lip, terrified that he will feel my breath upon his face. He inhales thickly, smelling me. My lower lip quavers and I swallow an involuntary cry of fear. The gun in my hand hangs heavy beneath my grasp. Trembling, I crook my elbow and bring the barrel to within an inch of the Feral’s temple. A rippling snarl breaks free from his lips and he tenses, perhaps sensing the proximity of the weapon to his skull. His gnarled fingers reach out for me, snatching at the front of my hoodie just as I pull the trigger.