October 31, 2014

Undead America 3: Jenna's War!

Wow, you guys. Jenna's War, the third and final book in my Undead America series, releases today. It's already live at my publisher, and will go live at places like Amazon and Barnes & Noble throughout the next day or two. I'll update this post with links as soon as I can.

But....

It's weird.

Three Halloweens in a row, I've released books in this series. Next year, there won't be one. I'm done. It's over. My days of writing about Jenna and Sam and Will and Rosie and Lola are complete. Of course, that's not to say I'm finished with writing. With one book already complete (a straight-up sci-fi) and one mostly written (a historical fiction), I'm not stopping in this life-post-zombies phase. I still have more stories to tell.

Just none about Jenna...

I'm going to miss her.

So yeah. I'm feeling a little loopy today. A little conflicted. Not much in the way of euphoric. But that's okay. I'll just take it all in stride, and no matter what, I hope you all love the series finale. 

Jenna's War is out TODAY!


Here's an excerpt, narrated by Sam:



“Would you two shut up and shoot?” said Jenna. “They’re everywhere!”

And so they were. Filtering out of the trees on either side of us, appearing from around a curve in the road nearby. There was one clear path, just to my left. A huge tree lay, uprooted, blocking the zombies who couldn’t figure out how to get around it.

“Should we run for it?” I shouted.

“Not yet,” she said. “We’ll never make it.”

I nodded, though I knew she couldn’t see me, and turned my attention back to the matter at hand: the approaching beast of an undead man.

“Shit.”

He’d begun to move quicker as he zoned in on me for the kill. He was less than five yards away, and I was his intended target. His stink was powerful enough to knock me over. Raw, rotten meat, paired with human excrement.

He must’ve shit himself before he died.

I retched, but only a little.

I pulled my shotgun tighter into my shoulder. The chin wouldn’t work; I knew that. I aimed for the knees.

As soon as I pulled the trigger, the creature’s legs exploded in a wash of black zombie blood. It sprayed my lower legs, the chill of dead blood sending a shudder through my body. The beast before me fell, collapsing atop his now-shattered legs, the weight of his massive body shaking the ground beneath my feet. Or maybe it was all in my head, the shaking. Or all in my knees. The was no way to tell.

But still he came, that massive monster that wanted to eat me. The scrape of his homegrown armor against the blacktop permeated the sounds of battle around me, cutting through my eardrums with a splitting, shrill agony. I had to stop it.

“I’m stepping out,” I shouted, as though in some strange world I was headed to the store to buy a loaf of bread or maybe some milk. “I gotta handle this one.”

“No,” said Jenna, but she didn’t move. There was too much for her to do, too many creatures for her to kill, and she knew it. “Don’t leave your wingman!”

“I have to!”

I reached down and picked up her slugger – she never minded loaning it out – and took the first step away from the warmth and companionship of my partners in battle. The screech of metal against pavement was enough to make me wince. I walked to it.

The zombie’s wasted hand reached out for me, desperate and hungry. I let him grasp my foot, his fingers closing in a vice-grip that would, I knew, leave a bruise for me to deal with after the battle. He pulled himself closer to me, his mouth gaping wide behind the riot mask, revealing rotted teeth and a tongue barely hanging on by several stretching, dripping tendons. I let him come.

The mask hit my first foot, and the zombie smashed his face against it, his tongue making wet, sloshing noises as it slurped against the bulletproof shield. My foot was safe, blocked by the very piece of industrial-strength plastic that had kept me from being able to kill him. The helmet, held in place by a chin-strap that was giving way with age, moved off kilter, exposing the back of the zombie’s neck.

That was all the space I needed.

I raised Jenna’s Slugger, graying with age, black in part with ancient zombie blood, and brought it down on the exposed flesh with all the strength I could muster. It was, I must admit, considerable. The creature’s head detached from it’s body, the hand suddenly going slack around my foot. I flexed my toes with appreciation, even as the mouth below me continued to slurp and stretch, trying to bite me. I nudged it away with the toe of my boot, and it rolled end over end, the neck encrusting itself with debris from the road, before coming to a rest a few feet away. The opening of the neck pointed at me, wet and sparkling with glass shards and pebbles. The zombie’s jaw flapped, open and closed, open and closed. I aimed at the wet spot.

That should work.

I pulled the trigger.

The mask, once filthy but still transparent, was instantly covered with sticky black muck. The jaw could no longer open and close, because the jaw was no longer there, destroyed by the scattered shot from my weapon. The beast of a zombie was dead.

Sorry, friend. I admired your preparation. Wish you could’ve held out. I probably would’ve liked traveling with you.

But the thought was fleeting. Jenna’s voice cut through the noise around me. “Sam! Quit fucking around with that thing. We’ve got to go.”

A hand gripped me from behind – warm, this time, and small, Rosie’s hand – and pulled me along toward the closing gap in the herd of zombies. Soon, all I knew was running and running and running.


****

Links:

Jenna's War at Barnes & Noble

October 28, 2014

Introducing JENNA'S WAR!!!

2010. Four years ago. I started the book that would eventually become Undead America: Zombie Days, Campfire Nights on November 3, 2010.

I wrote the final words for the last book in the series in May of 2014. I'm going through the final proof of it as we speak. It will release this Friday. 

October 31, 2014.

Four years, almost to the date. Four years of life. Of writing. Of ZOMBIES!

You guys. I can't believe it's here. I can't believe that as of Friday I'll have an entire series up for y'all to read. 

Incredible.

So. Without further ado....let me please introduce you to....

UNDEAD AMERICA 3: JENNA'S WAR!



Jenna Price knows how to survive in Undead America:

Kill zombies;

Find food;

Most importantly, don’t trust strangers.

It’s a bleak, meager existence in the Nebraska countryside, but Jenna Price is willing to make it work. That is, until her feud with Michael explodes. Only then will she risk everything with Sam, Will, and Rosie, leaving Nebraska behind in search of a pipe dream: a cure to the zombie virus that plagues them.

So begins their journey east. East is where the old cities lay, sleepy relics of a world long gone. Controlled by a power-hungry warlord from Sam’s past, it seethes with zombies, alive and undead. East is where the future may lay, but it’s also where the worst things can happen.

For war is coming to Undead America. When her time comes, and the survival of her beloved family depends on her trusting a strange man with an ominous name, will Jenna Price be ready to fight?

****

I can't wait for you to read this book. I hope you love it. It'll be out on Friday, and I'll post links to pre-order pages as soon as I have them. 

I can't believe this day is almost here.

Incredible.

I love my job.

And I can't thank you enough for your continued support. It means the world to me.

Incredible.

October 27, 2014

Cover Reveal: ONE LAST SONG by S.K. Falls

My awesome friend S.K. Falls has a new book coming out...or rather, it's a book that's being re-released by a MAJOR FREAKING PUBLISHER, and I couldn't be prouder of her! ONE LAST SONG by S.K. Falls will hit bookshelves on January 13, 2015! If you like YA, this will be a GREAT one for you!

Check out this gorgeous new cover:


I'm going to quote the author herself about this cover now, from an email she sent when I complimented her on how beautiful it is:

"They made a point to get a non-white person's stock photo to represent the heroine!"

This is awesome for a writer who helped found the Diversity in Books movement on Twitter, and also for writer who hails from India, don't you think?

Without further ado, here's what ONE LAST SONG is all about:

I was seven when I swallowed my first needle.

My mom freaked out and rushed me to the emergency room.

She stayed by my side all night.

I never wanted it to end.

When you spend your whole life feeling invisible-when your parents care more about deals and deadlines than they do about you-you find ways of making people take notice. Little things at first. Then bigger. It's scary how fast it grows. Then one day something happens that makes you want to stop. To get better. To be better. And for the first time, you understand what it's like to feel whole, happy . . . loved. For the first time, you love someone back.

For me, that someone was Drew.

Look for One Last Song on January 13th, 2015! For now, you can add it on Goodreads.



S.K. Falls likes to believe a degree in psychology qualifies her to emotionally torture her characters in an authentic fashion. Her books have won the gold medal in the 2014 IPPY awards, been featured on USA Today’s book blog, and regularly appear on Amazon’s various bestselling lists. When she isn’t writing her twisted love stories, she can be found gallivanting around Charleston, SC with her family.

Visit her on the web at www.skfalls.com.

October 23, 2014

rUNdead is THIS SATURDAY!!!

Hey local people!! Are you coming to rUNdead 2014??? You know, the biggest, coolest, BEST zombie race in the Charleston area? It's happening this coming Saturday, October 25th!!!!



If so, here's what's in store for you - some facts, tips, tricks, and fun, from your very own rUNdead blogger (me!!):


  • Haven't signed up yet? No worries. You can sign up DAY OF at Wannamaker Park in North Charleston. We still have runner and zombie spots available. Show up between 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. and you can be a part of the festivities!
  • For runners, zombies, and spectators, gates open at 2 p.m. Children under 12 are free; anyone over 12 who wants to come watch and be part of the event may do so for a $5 donation to Lowcountry Food Bank, or the donation of at least five canned goods.
  • Bring the whole family!!! There's plenty to do for everyone!!
    • The Kid Zone will feature an obstacle course, and Nerf gun zombie target practice!
    • Everyone is encouraged to dress up in costumes, and there's even a costume contest!
    • For all of us 80s enthusiasts, there will be a Thriller Flash Mob, open to all and set up by the Charleston Zombie Walk crew!
    • There will be food trucks (Smoke, King of Pops, and Hot -n - Quick) so you won't starve!
    • After the awards ceremonies and costume contest, we'll be showing The Goonies on the Cinebarre big, blow-up screen, so bring chairs and blankets and sweatshirts!
    • There's going to be a REAL LIVE WALKING DEAD WALKER (not in costume, don't worry) telling all about his experiences on set. He's a cool guy, and I know you'll love talking to him!
  • And I will be there, selling copies of Zombie Days, Campfire Nights, and Jo!! Please stop by and say hi, buy a book, and I'll be happy to sign it!!
Seriously. I can't wait to see all you fabulous zombies. It's a great event, fantastic for the whole family, and I hope you join us!!

October 22, 2014

Apropos of nothing: a sweet Zoe story

If you know me, you know how much I love my child. You also probably know how great she is at driving me completely insane. I think she thinks it's her job to talk my ear off, all day, every day, and sometimes I run completely out of words (and patience).

Last night was one of those nights. As soon as I picked Zoe up from school, she started talking. And never stopped. Even at soccer practice, she KEPT TALKING to me. And then, during her bath, she wasn't listening, wasn't moving fast enough, and I was TIRED and CRANKY and FUSSY at her. 

But then....after the bath....once she was in her jammies and was sleepy and snuggly....this happened....and these are the moments I live for:

Zoe: <crawls into my lap for a hug>
Me: <sniffs the awesome smell of clean kid and immediately relaxes> I'm sorry I've been grumping at you, baby.
Zoe: It's okay, Mommy.
Me: Zoe, do I give you enough hugs every day?
Zoe: No, Mommy. It's never enough.
Me: Do I tell you I love you enough every day?
Zoe: No, Mommy. It's never enough.
Me: I love you, boo.
Zoe: I love you, too. 

I mean....how can that not make a rough night suddenly...perfect?

So anyway...that's the story. I'll have Undead America news later this week, but for now, that's all I've got.

October 9, 2014

#TBT: Our Alma Mater, Sayreville High



Let's go back in time for a minute, you and me.

It's the fall of 1996. I'm still Leah Soltis, a skinny, geeky girl living in Sayreville, New Jersey. For the past five years, I've attended every single football game my high school has played...and most of the ones for the two years prior to that. I'm a flag girl, a member of the marching band's color guard, and my brother was on the marching band for two years before I was old enough to join. By the fall of '96, I've been to over a hundred football games, and I'm actually the Captain of the color guard, if you can believe that. A Senior. Our band is on its way to a state title for our division. In a few week's time, we'll march onto the old Giants Stadium field and perform the best we've ever performed.

But that's not what I'm going to talk about today.

Today let's talk more about those football games. 

Like I said, I went to every game. I cheered my team on from the stands under balmy late summer skies, and in the freezing rains of November. I basked in the warmth of a harvest moon, and I huddled under ponchos and blankets, snuggling with my girlfriends to keep warm. 

I learned a love of the game of football in those years, and it's stuck with me ever since. (Seriously. Ask me sometime about that time the Giants were in the Superbowl and I was six months pregnant with Zoe and the refs made a bad call and I climbed up on my coffee table to yell at them....Charles was not pleased.)

On this particular day, at this particular game, the football team is marching its way toward a state championship. And man, I want them to win. We all do.

It's a home game tonight, and I have friends on the field. Because even though I was a band/theater/academic club geek, I was lucky. I was able to make friends with all sorts of people back then, and some of my friends happened to be on the football team. They were good guys...one, in particular, helped me get through A.P. Math that very same year. I sat with him and a couple of other jock-friends every day, and we did a LOT of group work. Thank goodness - I wouldn't have passed that class without them.

But I digress. Back to the game.

It's nearing its end, and despite this being one of the best seasons in our school's storied football history...we're losing. Nothing our team can do is helping. Our plays are falling apart. We're losing yards instead of gaining.

The minutes are winding down, faster than we want them to. We want more time instead, to get the score back to even. We want more time instead, to win.

It's not meant to be.

The players, the band, the cheerleaders, the spectators....everyone in our stadium....we're all on our feet, cheering on our team, hoping that maybe, MAYBE, one more cheer will be the boost they need to make it. The boost they need to win.

It's not meant to be.

The clock zeroes out, and the other team had wins.

It's the senior players' last game, and together, they tak a victory lap around the field. It's not a victory lap for that game, though. No. Rather, it's a victory lap for their high school careers. For their team's success over the prior four years. 

Many of them have tears cutting paths through the dirt on their faces. That one particular friend, the one who helped me through A.P. Math, cries as he runs. Tears burn white-hot in my eyes as well. I hate to see the season - their careers - end that way.

But it's a beautiful thing, that victory lap. There's not a single person in our stands who isn't clapping for our players. We were so proud they've come so far. We're so proud of their journey. 

I'll never forget that moment.

****

As much as it hurt to see my team lose that day, it hurts a thousand - a million - times more to have that gorgeous memory stomped all over, turned upside-down, topsy-turvy, inside out, the way it's been over the past few days.

This fall, fall of 2014, 18 years later, my old high school's football team has been shut down amid allegations of hazing...of abuse...of the sodomizing of children in the Sayreville War Memorial High School football team locker rooms. 

Oh, dear God, Sayreville. What have we done? What have we allowed? What has been happening in a locker room while adults were nearby, able to stop it, but allowing it to happen?

What the hell kind of culture have we created?

I'm heartbroken for the victims of this alleged abuse. I'm heartbroken for the abusers, too, though. For an abuser is often created by abuse. What was done to those players in the past, to make them think this type of behavior was okay? What chain of abuse has been allowed to exist in that locker room, and for how long?

I look back on that night, so very long ago, and I wonder....there were good guys I knew on that team. Was this going on back then? Had they partaken in the chain of abuse? Were they hurt? Did they hurt?

There are so many questions, and so many people can answer. So many people can shed light on the darkness of that locker room. I truly hope they will.

My hometown is hurting. I wish I was there, to stand with my classmates and my friends as they stand up together for the victims. I wish I had been there in Kennedy Park (Oh, God, remember the cement hills? The rope swings? The chain nets?) for the vigil. 

I hope my hometown can be strong. I hope they can come together like we did that night, for our team, long ago. I hope they can let this investigation not become a witch hunt, but rather a hunt for truth.

I hope my hometown can heal. I hope that, once the truth is told, that terrible wound that's been ripped through all our guts can begin to close. There will always be a scar, that's for sure, especially for those children most directly involved in these heinous crimes. But scars can be overcome.

Those poor children. Their poor parents. 

We have to do better, Sayreville. We can do better. I know it. I'm here with you, watching from afar, and I stand with you. Let's find our answers, let's fix the problem, and let's begin to heal. We owe it to ourselves....and those children.

October 7, 2014

In lieu of something more serious....ZOMBIES ATTACK GIVEAWAY!!!!!

Hey!

So I was bitchy yesterday morning....and then SCOTUS took HUGE steps toward marriage equality later in the day....and I'm still processing my happy thoughts on that so I can talk coherently about the topic later this week (Ellen, I'm going to have to plan that party we discussed, aren't I???)...so I thought....why not talk zombies for a minute?

It's pertinent, right? The Walking Dead starts SUNDAY and OMG I CAN'T WAIT HAVE YOU SEEN THE TRAILER YET!?!? Andrew Lincoln's beard, man....Andrew Lincoln's beard.

Plus, from Liberia, home of the Ebola outbreak, we're seeing (clearly bogus) reports of Ebola victims rising from the dead, zombie-fied. 

So...that made me wonder....I've written three books about zombies (Book 3 in the Undead America series is coming SOON to an online outlet near you...). I've talked survival. I've researched weapons. I've thought about all the ways a person could try to survive (and still probably die) in the apocalypse.

But what would I do?

What would I do if something happened in the middle of the day, when Zoe's at school and Charles is at work and the rest of my family is scattered around the country?

(The answer there seems clear....get to the school, get my child, go home and wait for my husband. When he gets home, try my parents' place in the country. Carry my baseball bat everywhere I go. And so on and so forth.)

What would I do if I happened to be out of town, far from my husband and child?

What would I do if Charles was away?

What if what if what if...

What if things were so bad that there was no way to fight, no way to survive? Or the only way would be to turn Zoe into a child like Carl, or worse, like Lizzy (Walking Dead references...look 'em up)? Would I want that?

Or would I be one of those parents who quietly gives my child a mouthful of poison, then drinks two mouthfuls myself, and lets us die in peace, while everything falls apart around us?

I don't know the answer to the question. I don't know what I would do.

So I'm throwing the question out to you: what would YOU do? How would you survive? What's your Zombie Apocalypse plan?

Answer in the comments, or on Facebook. My favorite answer will win an early e-copy of Undead America 3. I have no idea when you'll get it, but you will. Early. And trust me...you want to read it. :D

Make 'em good, people. This is all entirely subjective.