December 29, 2014

2014: My Year in Review

I spent some time last month putting together a photo book for Zoe, compiling some of my favorite pictures from the past 12 months, writing "witty" captions, and sending it to a photo company for printing. When she opened it on Christmas morning, she was THRILLED! A whole book about HER? OHMIGOSH MUST READ! She sat there with it, with unopened presents still beneath the tree, for a loooooong time, loving the look back at her year.

So I thought: t'is the season for retrospectives, right? Out with the old, in with the new?

I guess we all like to think about ourselves and our recent past, and it's definitely nice to look at a year in its entirety and ask yourself: What did I DO?

The answer, for me in 2014, is (no matter how much I felt like I frittered away too much time): a LOT. And I'm actually sort of excited about it...and about 2015 and what's to come!

So here goes. 2014: My Year in Review.

January:

January was a rough month. Or at least, it started rough. We said goodbye to our Molly, a sweet, beautiful Dalmatian who'd been a part of Charles's life for far longer than me. She had cancer. It ate up her abdomen slowly at first, but then the end came far too quickly for any of us. We had her put to sleep on January 2, 2014, one of our hardest-ever days.



Later that month, in a quirky twist of fate, we welcomed little Bennett into the fold. He and our other dog, Quentin, had a rocky start, but by now they're buds.


I mention all this because it had a big effect on our lives. We lost a friend. We gained a puppy. Suddenly my quiet little days at home were turned upside down by this crazy little spaz named Bennett. He needed to be watched. Walked. Cuddled (a LOT). Trained (a little).

At the time, I thought: Well, there goes my writing career....

Or better: The dog ate my writing career....

And yet...

February: 

By February I was editing my first-ever, straight-up science fiction novel. These days I call it The Mothers of Taremu. It's set on another planet, far-far away, and it's by far my best work to date.  I hope one day you can read it.

March:

In late February/early March, I wrote Jenna's War, the final book in the Undead America series. It was incredibly hard to know this was the last time I'd see these characters...I hate saying good-bye. More on that later, though.

Also in March I went to my first-ever Con - the Captain's Comic Con here in Charleston. It was...amazing. I had copies of Zombie Days, Campfire Nights to sell, and it amazed me that people bought it! They bought all the copies I had! I sold out by 1:00 in the afternoon, which was not something I ever expected to say. It was AMAZING!

April:

In April I started editing Jenna's War, and....I hated the ending. Hated it. I've never hated my own writing more. I hit a wall and got really, REALLY burnt out.

Luckily, we had family vacation time in NYC to bail me out of trouble. I put the book away, focused on my family, and by the time we got home, I knew what I had to do.

In late April, I trashed the final third of the story and completely rewrote it. It was much more in-tune with what the characters would do and say and be, and I was MUCH happier with how it all turned out.

May:

May was all about Jenna's War, and getting it ready to send to my publisher. By late May, though, I stared work on a new book. Right now I call it The Death Words, and it's a Holocaust tale. More on that later....because suddenly school let out and life got truly crazy!

June:

June was cool. I made a decision to independently publish my book, Jo, so I got to work editing that. With Zoe home for the summer, though, work was slow and not steady. We went to the beach a lot, the pool a lot...we began a summer of fun!

June was also the month I went to Louisville, Kentucky, to do my first ever live reading at Books & Booze Louisville. It was...incredible! I made new friends, caught up with an old one, and survived reading a story OUT LOUD to STRANGERS! Phew. I want to do it again!


July:

July found me at the beach, going to a friend's wedding in NYC, and still editing Jo. I found an amazing cover artist who made me the most gorgeous cover I've ever seen. And Zoe and I? Man, we had a good time together.


August: 

As I began to wrap up editorial work on Jo, we dropped everything to go see my oldest brother get married in Mexico. Ooooooh, Mexico. It was SO pretty and SO good to spend so much time with my family

September:

Jo came out in September!!! I was so excited to share this story, and early reviews have been pretty darn positive. I'm proud of my little Frankenstein-girl, and hope that, if you read her tale, you stopped by Amazon to leave a review. I love reviews on Amazon!

Once Jo was out, I went back to work on The Death Words.  It's the hardest thing I've ever written. I spent many days bashing my head against a wall of frustration.

In September I also spent a LOT of time helping my parents out. They bought property in the country, and I helped them move. I helped them (along with my brother) clear off land. I helped them set up their new house. I spent a lot of time there, all so I could eventually look like this:


Yes. They have horses. Snuggly, sweet horses. *giggles*

October:

Wow. Two books in two months. October saw me frantically working to get Jenna's War ready for release. It came out on Halloween, and again, reviews have been great! I love releasing books. I love the stress, the anxiety, the excitement. I love it all.


November:

The first week of November found me hunched over my computer. I was close to the end of The Death Words. I could see the ending. I could feel it. I knew I could do it.

That first week of the month, I wrote something like 20,000 words over the course of five days. It was unreal. But I finished it. I finished a story of death and survival, of love and destruction. I drank a lot of champagne that night (thanks, Charles!). It's impossible to describe the relief I felt at finishing something that was consuming by brain for so long.

I've also been "shopping" The Mother's of Taremu around, and in the final months of the year I've had some nice little nibbles that I hope lead to something cool for it in 2015.

Of course, by late November, the holidays begin....which leads us to...

December:

Whew. The holidays are a whirlwind in our house. Hanukkah, Christmas, New Years, events at Zoe's school every other day. I need to remember: make no plans to ever do actual, real work in December.

****

Throughout the year I've also kept busy writing dozens of articles and columns and things, both for LitReactor and The Charleston City Paper. I got to do things like go to a trampoline park with Zoe (and write about it), or go visit some friends at their book binding studio (and write about it).

I also went to every school event. I volunteered in Zoe's class every week. I attended most of her soccer practices (twice a week, starting in the summer), and all of her games. It's felt so hectic at times. So ridiculously, insanely hectic.

But the year has been rather amazing. I released two books, wrote another, started another (more on that in 2015), and I did it all while staying home and being with my daughter, my husband, our beasts, and yeah....whew. When I write it all out like this...

I'm pretty proud of myself.

So tell me: what are you proud of? What cool things have you done this year? If you think about it, I bet your list is even longer than mine! :)

December 22, 2014

Proud Mama Moment and my thoughts on the new Annie

Oh! My poor, sad, lonely, neglected blog! It's been years since I've spent any time on you!

Admittedly, I've spent much of 2014 chasing deadlines and writing books and being a mom and wife and all that stuff, but I'll admit: I miss my blog.

So! I resolve in 2015 to do better! To blog more! To share more! After all, isn't that what a blog's for? 

Thus, in the upcoming week, I plan an official 2014 recap (new books, new pets, and a whole lot of writing), a list of 2015 plans and resolutions (Will 2015 be the year I find an agent and land a giant book deal and take the literary world by storm? I don't know but I already also resolve not to stop trying!), and at least one book review (I wrote one today that's due in January, and it felt so good, I decided to write MORE reviews! Hooray!).

But for today, how's about something more simple? A proud mama moment, for starters, and then a brief discussion of the new Annie.

Proud Mama Moment

Y'all. Zoe has so many toys. Too many toys. Toys bursting from every nook and crevice in her tiny little bedroom. 

I feel terrible that she has so many toys. I feel like I've done something wrong. That I'm somehow uncharitable. But I guess we live in a consumer society, and we're very lucky in that we can afford to purchase a toy or a book for our only child pretty much whenever we care to.

Apparently, we care to a lot.

A LOT.

So. Her room has gotten out of control. Stuff is always on the floor, her closet is a Matchbox car short of a national-level disaster, and there are always stuffed animals staring at me, no matter where I go.

It's a nightmare.

A beautiful, amazing, ridiculous nightmare (for which I'm incredibly grateful, I swear!).

And in case you haven't noticed, IT'S ONLY THREE DAYS UNTIL CHRISTMAS! AND WE'RE ALREADY ON THE SIXTH NIGHT OF HANUKKAH! AND OHMIGOD ALL THE TOYS! ALL THE TOYS TOYS TOYS TOYS!

*ahem*

*excuse me*

*Dr. Seuss moment*

Last night I made a decision. Something had to be done about at least a few of the toys. So I found a Post-It note and a black Sharpie, and I did something I'm a bit ashamed of.

I wrote a note to Zoe, on behalf of her little Elf on the Shelf, Ruby.

"Dear Zoe," it said, in handwriting not-at-all reminiscent of my own. "Santa and I wondered: can you donate ten toys to needy children this week?"

I signed it, "Love you! Ruby."

I'm not proud of this. I'm not proud of the manipulation, the deviousness, the utter maniacal plotting on my part.

But I am proud of her response.

Today, while I was in the shower, Zoe picked out ten toys to donate to needy children. Some were large, some weren't. Some I had to veto due to "you don't actually own that toy, honey." We dropped down to eight, and then she found two more.

At ten, when she was supposed to be done, she said, "I want to give away more."

She went back to her closet and piled on a bunch more toys, and then made the decision to finally give up her giant collection of Lego Duplo blocks which she's been playing with consistently since she was two years old. 

It was a huge step.

We packed up all the toys (minus the Duplos...Charles needs convincing there...he's attached) and dropped them off for Lowcountry Orphan Relief, all before noon on a rainy, nasty Monday. 

Maybe her room's still a mess. Maybe she only gave away her toys because she thinks Santa will reward her.

I don't care. A whole bunch of kids are going to have new toys to play with, all because Zoe was finally willing to share her wealth of playthings.

This makes me happy.

So of course we had to celebrate. We did this by seeing the all-new movie production of Annie. Which brings us to...

My Thoughts on the All-New Movie Production of Annie

Look. I grew up on the original Annie, with the impish redhead and the bald Daddy Warbucks. I didn't expect to love Jamie Foxx or Cameron Diaz, and the truth is...I didn't.

But Zoe did.

Man, she loved this movie. She sang! She laughed! She danced in her seat! 

She didn't care that Cameron Diaz can't sing (and...gorgeous as she is...she really, really can't sing). She didn't care that Jamie Foxx's singing voice was far too high pitched for my taste (ha!). She didn't care that Rose Byrne was fairly stoic and boring as Grace. 

She fell in love - hard - for the new Annie.

And truth be told, so did I.

Quvenzhane Wallis is adorable. She's impish. She's quirky and fun and spunky and silly. It's impossible not to love her. 

She'll be the saving grace of this production.

To Zoe, it didn't matter that the whole movie felt a bit flat. She got to learn about things like foster homes, and she got to listen to songs she loved, and she found new songs to learn. She got to see dancing other than tap, and she got to laugh at the bits with the dog. 

I don't know. I was still expecting more. But my child came away from the theater singing "It's a Hard Knock Life" at the top of her lungs, and I guess I can't ask for anything else.

It was a good day here in Charleston.


December 3, 2014

Jane Austen Cover to Cover: For the Austen Fan Near You!

Tee-hee!! I am a lifelong Jane Austen fan. Did you know?

I mean...I love my Stephen King and my Neil Gaiman and my Robert Kirkman, too, but really, Jane Austen's been with me a long, long time.

I read Pride & Prejudice for the first time when I was in middle school, and I was captivated by the accounts of fancy dresses and fancier manners. It struck me as so different, so other from the life I was used to...I couldn't put it down.

High school found me, in my infrequent spare time, working my way through the rest of Austen's opus. Emma. Sense & Sensibility. Northanger Abbey. Persuasion.  I read them all.

And while the initial draw was the fancy dresses and other-ness, what kept me coming back was the comedy. Austen was a sharp satirist. She was a critic of the sterile manners and crusty classism of Victorian England, and she used her wit to poke fun at the parties, the frivolity, the seeming insanity of her world.


The results are often hilarious, and that's kept me coming back to these books year after year after year. 


Especially Pride & Prejudice. Hands down, that one's my favorite. I've had the same paperback copy since high school. It's starting to fall apart, but who cares.

So yeah. Jane Austen. I know!

****

When my friends at Quirk Books told me they were publishing a new retrospective on Jane Austen, called Jane Austen Cover to Cover, I was all over it. Of course I wanted to learn more about her, and about the images/bindings that have made up the covers to her awesome books through the years.

Why wouldn't I?

Especially with Quirk behind it - because, as you may or may not know, Quirk Books are the publishers of the great literary classic, Pride & Prejudice & Zombies! Clearly they love Austen as much as I do. 



Written/compiled by Margaret C. Sullivan, this book is gorgeous and fun. Sullivan is obviously a fan herself, and she seems to have fun talking about not only the covers, but the history behind each publication.

Like...did you know Austen only ever sold the rights to Pride & Prejudice? All her other books were published in such a way as to allow her to keep her rights, and to receive commission. Sound familiar? Oh yes. It's how some small presses work these days, and it's a lot like self-publishing.

And did you know that on some of the earliest covers, Jane Austen's name wasn't even included? Nope. It was thrown out in favor of displaying the name of the more well-known illustrators. 

I know, right?!

So, there's interesting history, and gorgeous pictures of old books. Really old books. I have no idea how she found all these images, but it's impressive. First editions of British and American printings, rare, illustrated editions...Sullivan's found them all. 

It's an awesome book, assuming you're a Jane Austen fan. I mean, if you're not, it's still lovely, but it probably won't be your thing. 

That said, it is definitely MY thing. If it's YOUR thing, too, I highly suggest you ask Santa to slip a copy under your tree this year. And maybe, if you're as nerdy as me, you'll find the page with a picture of your very own old, tattered paperback cover....and you'll of course have to snap a shot of it and post it on your blog. :)


Yep. I'm a dork. Deal with it. :)


November 24, 2014

Bundle up for winter, Zombie Fans!

Hi everyone! I know I've been quiet lately - been dealing with some deadlines, and still have a couple more big ones to meet - but today I have news! I tweeted about this last week, but here's some exciting information about the entire Undead America series!!

My publisher and I decided that, now that the series is released in its entirety, we could bundle all three books together and sell the series as one! It's sort of like a box set, only in eBook form! Check it out!


Isn't it pretty? 

It's available for pre-order now (links below) for the bargain basement price of $3.99. The price'll go up after the holidays. This would make a GREAT Christmas present on a zombie fan's Kindle or Nook, and it's a great way to purchase the series if you haven't already!

So please! Tell your friends! Your families! Your...BOOK CLUBS!! Undead America, the series....coming soon to an e-reader near you!!


November 13, 2014

Friday night at the Windjammer - Help Save a Life!

Hey you guys!

I don't often advertise events here on the blog, unless I'm directly associated with them. You've heard all about rUNdead, sure, and now Atomacon, but this is something different. I won't be at this event, but I wish I could be. 

You see, a friend of mine is trying to help a friend of HIS, a friend who's battled cancer not once, but THREE TIMES! And I want to help him spread the word! Because cancer sucks and it's stupid how much it costs to treat it, and far too many people in this world have their lives turned upside down by that awful disease.

So yes! Let's help!

My friend Tyler Boone is a singer/songwriter here in Charleston. His friend, Dan Rainey, is a musician with a bunch of local bands, including Tyler's. This guy Dan has already had three cancerous tumors, and now he needs chemotherapy. Medical bills have already piled up, and are threatening to get completely out of hand. 

So now, the Charleston music community is ready to help. If you can, head out to The Windjammer Friday night for the concert event, A Little Help from my Friends!


This line-up is pretty awesome. If you're local and you listen to The Bridge at 105.5, you'll know a lot of the music. Also, Box from the Box & Kelly morning show will be performing with some of the bands. Since I already know Box plays a mean air guitar, I imagine the results will be epic.

For more information, check out this page at the Coast Records web site.

The Charleston music community is small and tight. They're all good people. If Tyler says Dan needs help, then we should all help. Cancer sucks. 

If you are free Friday, you should definitely check out this show. All proceeds will benefit Dan directly, helping to pay down his medical bills. If I were free Friday, I'd be there - for the music, sure, but more importantly for the cause.

Fuck you, Cancer. The Charleston music community is coming for you.

November 10, 2014

Atomacon 2014: Where I'll Be

This is new! I've never had to do this before! But I'm a guest at this year's Atomacon in North Charleston, South Carolina, and as a guest....I have a SCHEDULE!

Yes, that's right! I'll be taking part in a generous handful of panels, talking about books, zombies, and publishing, and I hope to see YOU there!

And if you're asking, "What's Atomacon?" I have an answer! It's the Low Country's first Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Science and Technology, AND Gaming convention. There will be panels! Vendors! Cosplay! And MORE!

Here's info about how you can get in, and here's the full schedule (there are all sorts of different "tracks" to follow, and all kinds of awesome guests besides me), so do check it out.

And if you'll be there, here's where you can find me:

Friday:

6:00 p.m. Local Author Spotlight

7:00 p.m. Diversity in Literature panel

10:00 p.m. The Walking Dead panel (featuring Greg French and Mike Mundy, two Walking Dead walkers)


Saturday:

8:00 p.m. Pen and Sword panel (using weapons in your writing)


Sunday:

1:00 p.m. Zombie Survival Guide panel (talking about what YOU need to survive the apocalypse)

November 5, 2014

This I believe

Someone on Twitter yesterday made some comments about how he voted, then said something to the effect of, "I guess that shows how left-wing liberal I am. If that offends you, then I'm not sure how or why you're still following me."

Of course he went on to add, "Right-wingers are welcome here, no doubt, but if my beliefs don't work for you, you should probably look elsewhere..."

These aren't direct quotes - not at all - but they did make me think...

...as did seeing a lot more support of the GOP on my Facebook feed than I expected, and since (in my mind) the GOP has done so much more harm than good lately, it surprised me.

So here I am. I am going to lay my beliefs on the line in this blog post. If you disagree with them to a point where they make your skin crawl, well, then, I'm not sure why you're still following me.

That said, you're still welcome here. Because I believe in the right of everyone to have their own opinions...so long as their opinions don't start influencing my life.

But anyway, in no particular order, here's my belief system. I think it's important you know where I stand if you plan to continue reading this blog:

I believe in marriage equality. I believe two people in love should be allowed to marry, and to have that marriage recognized by our state and federal governments. I don't believe you can force a church/religious group to accept same-sex marriage, but if I were gay and wanted to marry and my church told me I couldn't...I'd find a different church.

I love the new Pope. Even though I'm a Jew, I love his progressive views, and his vision for Catholicism of the future.

I believe I am the only person who has the right to make decisions that affect my body. I believe in access to multiple forms of birth control, as decided upon by my doctor and me. I don't believe the government has a right to tell me what I can or cannot do to my body.

I believe in safe access to abortions for women who need it. I believe if we make abortion illegal, it will go back to being done in filthy rooms with inadequate tools, and I believe women will die.

I do not, however, believe in abortion as birth control. It's a serious decision, and while I understand mistakes happen, I also understand you have to learn from your mistakes.

I believe I will never figure out how I feel about the death penalty. My entire being rails against the idea that one human can tell another they deserve to die...but I also understand the burden of lifetime jail sentences, and I also believe that some people are truly evil.

I believe my chosen faith (strains of Judaism mixed with a healthy dose of skepticism) is mine to choose. I don't believe there's any single right answer to who or what God is or is not. I believe any God above would welcome a person who questions, who wonders, and who does not accept blindly all that is told to him or her.

I believe there are as many good people who practice the Islamic faith as there are Christians and Jews. I also believe there are as many bad people who practice Christianity and Judaism as who practice Islam. I believe religion has caused most of the wars we've ever seen, and thus I remain skeptical about organized religion as a whole.

I believe President Obama is a good man who took on the toughest job in the world. I believe in the ideals he set forth during both campaigns. I believe that when he's changed his mind on issues (i.e. gay marriage), he's done so with much thought and research and introspection, and not simply due to the changing of the national tide. I believe our Congress is currently doing more harm than good, on both sides of the political aisle.

I believe in taking care of our neighbors, of the sick, of the poor. I don't mind paying more taxes if it means the people most in danger in our society can get a little more help when they need it.

I support Obamacare, as it's given many more people access to affordable health care.

I believe we have a responsibility to educate children.

I support charities that provide funding to children, to animals, to cancer and AIDS research.

I believe that, one day, humanity will win. We'll all come together, and it'll be like this video a friend just sent me.

I believe everyone has a right to believe what they think is correct. If you disagree with any of my beliefs, that's fine with me. If you comment with negativity and vitriol, I believe I will delete your comment.

And now I believe it's time for me to get back to work.

November 2, 2014

Winter of Zombie Blog Tour: Spotlight on Jack Wallen

Every few months or so, I'm happy to open up this blog space to fellow-zombie author Armand Rosamilia and his <Season> of Zombie Blog Tours.

Today, as the air in South Carolina has taken a turn for the decidedly-wintery, I'm happy to take part in the Winter of Zombie Blog Tour. Please welcome author Jack Wallen to the blog today! I'm sure you'll enjoy his interview!


Your name:

Jack Wallen

Why zombies?

Because they taste like chicken … albeit rotten chicken. Seriously though, I enjoy zombies because they make for a perfect metaphor for humankind. I get to turn the mirror on humanity and show who the monster really is.

Plus, Hollywood has yet to make zombies sparkle – so they’re still somwhat pure.

What is your latest zombie release?

Cry Zombie Cry

Quick description of it:

With the Guignol Gang fully armed and prepared to defend the castle, Bethany and company are off to see the Wizard of Odd.

The long-awaited entry to the I Zombie series has arrived.

And it’s ready to rock.

Bethany Nitshimi is back and ready to crush the Zero Day Collective with a wall of sound. Together with the metal band Unsun, Bethany will have the undead horde banging their heads until brain runs thick in the streets.

If it’s too loud, you’re too old…or dead.

Something unique about it:

Cry Zombie Cry is, like Rob Halford of Judas Priest, made of metal. At the center of the story there’s a metal concert which serves as a backdrop for a rather epic battle of good vs. evil. Rock and zombies go hand in hand, so anyone prone to throw the horns \m/ will enjoy this ride.

Links for people to buy it:

Ebook
Paperback

Your promo links:

http://www.jackwallen.com
http://www.zombieradio.org
http://www.facebook.com/author.jackwallen
https://plus.google.com/u/0/+jackwallen/posts
https://twitter.com/jlwallen
http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B004MZWR3W

Your short Bio:

Jack Wallen is a seeker of truth and a writer of words. Although he resides in the unlikely city of Louisville, Kentucky, he likes to think of himself more as an interplanetary soul ... or so he tells the reflection in the mirror. Jack is the author of numerous tales of dark, twisty fiction including the I Zombie series, the Fringe Killer series, Shero, The Nameless Saga, and much more.

 

The stench of frozen rotted meat is in the air! Welcome to the Winter of Zombie Blog Tour 2014, with 10 of the best zombie authors spreading the disease in the month of November.

Stop by the event page on Facebook so you don't miss an interview, guest post or teaser… and pick up some great swag as well! Giveaways galore from most of the authors as well as interaction with them! #WinterZombie2014

AND so you don't miss any of the posts in November, here's the complete list, updated daily.

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.

October 6, 2014

A moment on a soapbox

Okay. I feel stupid for even commenting on celebrity gossip. Normally I make a point of AVOIDING celebrity gossip. But my feathers have been ruffled, and thus I must take to my blog, get up on my soapbox, and say:

Yes. Bruce Jenner, of Olympic and Kardashian fame, looks a little bizarre right now. No longer masculine, yet not quite a woman, rumors are all a-flying.

Normally I don't give a SHIT what Bruce Jenner looks like.

But as one of those latest pictures floated across my FB page, with dozens of posters and commenters mocking his appearance, you know what I saw?

I saw a man who's wondering if he's transgender, or a transvestite. I saw a man who's considering transitioning to become something new.

And I saw people mocking him for it.

UGH.

People facing gender identity issues are far more common than you may imagine. Experimentation in the name of finding the skin that suits is just as common. When I was a little girl, I tried to become a boy. Turns out, once hormones kicked in, I was mighty fine with being a girl.....but before those hormones overtook me, I dressed like a boy, cut my hair like a boy, and fought my mom any time she tried to get me into a dress.

Someone very close to me was once very similar to me. She, too, wanted to dress like a boy, cut her hair like a boy, and to BE a boy.

And for her, when hormones kicked in, it became clear she WAS a boy.

She is now a he, and he is one of my favorite people in the world. 

The transition was tough. It was confusing for everyone involved, at least for a little while. But now it all makes perfect sense. 

Imagine facing these questions yourself. Imagine feeling like your clothes don't  fit. Imagine feeling like your body doesn't fit. Imagine having to tell all your friends and family, "Hey, I'm going to transition," or even, "Hey, I'm going to dress like this other person for a while, just to see if it fits."

Now imagine doing that as a celebrity, with the world watching.

Dude. Leave Bruce alone. He's clearly trying to work some stuff out, and our snarky comments aren't helping.

Thanks. I'll get off my soapbox now.

September 23, 2014

Just for Funsies: Zombie Weapons

My parents just moved onto some land out in the country. They have horses, and want their horses to finally be able to share their address. 

Of course, no land is perfect, though, and their couple acres need to be cleaned up a bit before the horses can move in. My oldest brother, Jonathan, is here this week, helping to clear out some of the woody parts of the property.

This is the view from their back fence.
We've had so much rain here lately, this isn't normally a pond.
But you get the idea. Trees, vines, mud, muck. 

So of course I decided to help.

And of course we needed to talk zombies while we worked, and of course we now consider ourselves ready for the apocalypse! 

Because weapons!

Everybody, meet Jonathan.
He's killer with a chainsaw.

Me? I prefer this knife.
I think the hook on the end gives it that little something special.
Don't you agree?

Anyway, much as I joke (and much as I LOVE that knife), every time I do something like this I realize more and more: I'd never survive a real zombie apocalypse. It wouldn't be the zombies to get me, though. It would be the bugs. The ticks in particular. And the fact that, with my insomnia and compulsive need to feel clean at night, I'd never sleep and I'd go absolutely insane.

And incidentally: today I also learned I have an irrational fear of chainsaws. *shakes fist at Texas Chainsaw Massacre*

See? Insane.

Happy Tuesday and I hope I made you smile.


September 17, 2014

I'm Falling in Love with John Scalzi's Lock In

Yeah. You read that right. I'm falling - hard - for a brand new sci-fi thriller, penned by none other than John Scalzi (of the Old Man's War series and Hugo-award winning Redshirts).

But it may not be for the reasons you expect.


Sure, the story is fun and exciting. Sure, the sci-fi tech is accessible even to an English major like me. And sure, I love the idea of characters who've become "locked in," thanks to a disease that shuts down their nervous systems but not their thought/communication processes (hey all you Ice Bucket Challengers - this part will interest you!!!). It's only through human "Integrators" or mechanical "Threeps" that these characters are able to communicate and live semi-normal lives, and it's INTERESTING.

But nope. Those aren't the reasons I'm falling so hard for this book.

A big part of the reason is this: there are two characters, Jim Buchold and Rick Wisson, who are MARRIED. Yep. You got it. Two guys, married.

And here's the BEST part, the part that makes me love this book so damn much I want to squeeze it: in this book, this lovely little sci-fi novel, the fact that Jim and Rick (two dudes) are married is absolutely NO BIG DEAL!

YES!!!!!!!

A gay, married couple, treated JUST LIKE ANY OTHER CHARACTERS!!! They're introduced as guests at a dinner party, and it goes something like this: one guy introduces himself to the main character as the other guy's husband. The main character....doesn't even comment. It's just a fact, like any other fact at that dinner party. Far more interesting than the fact that Rick and Jim are married is the discussion around the plight of people infected by Haden's, the disease causing the locked in phenomena.

Jim and Rick are not the phenomena. Not at all. They're just two guys at the party.

Later, when something bad happens to Jim's business (I'm trying hard not to give spoilers here), we see Rick make Jim a drink, just like any other loving spouse would do. When Jim doesn't drink it, Rick does instead, just like any other loving spouse would do. They're not treated any differently than any other married couple in any other book.

Look. This may not seem Earth-shattering, but it is. There are a lot of books out these days with LGBT characters. In many of them, a character's being LGBT becomes a central theme of the work. And that's good. In fact, that's great! We need to discuss these issues! It's important!

But perhaps just as important is providing characters that are LGBT, and NOT making their sexuality central to the story. By letting LGBT characters become a part of the landscape, no different from anyone else in the supporting cast, Scalzi is making a huge statement. "Hey, world, this is normal. This is no big deal. This is how we SHOULD be treating LGBT people IN REAL LIFE."

I love it. So much it hurts.

(Of course, I'm only about a third of the way into the book. LGBT themes may come into play later on. Rick and Jim might be the bad guys! I have no idea! If that becomes the case, I'll update this post, I promise. But from what I know of Scalzi and his politics, gleaned from years of reading his blog, I don't think that'll be the case.)

(Don't forget - I'm a slow reader. It may take me another full week to reach the end. So don't wait around today, expecting an update.)

But yes. Please! Go buy Lock In, and support the idea that having a gay, married couple in your sci-fi novel should be treated as NO BIG DEAL! Because YES! LOVE! EQUALITY! HOORAY!

****

UPDATE:

I finished Lock In, and I'm still in love. It was a fun read, it spoke my language (code, patches, software, hardware - years in the software industry have taken their toll on me and I love to see that world in fiction), and the ending was completely satisfying.

Was it the best thing I've ever read? Maybe not, but still, it was super-fun. I highly recommend it, especially to all my old software buddies out there!

September 15, 2014

Florence Comic Con 2014

Hey y'all! Happy Monday!!! I'm completely exhausted but I'm up and have done my daily abs challenge (don't ask), made breakfast for Charles and Zoe, and am sitting on the couch wondering if Bennett the pup has a belly ache (more on that later).

Yesterday was a LONG and FUN day, hence the exhaustion. I sold books at the 2014 Florence Comic Con, and whew....it was crazy. Good crazy, though.

Florence is a city in South Carolina that's about two hours north of where I live in Charleston. I was invited to the con earlier this year when I was at the Captain's Comic Expo, and it sounded too fun to pass up. And since we didn't make the decision about who was going (would I go it alone? Bring just Charles? Charles AND Zoe?) until 10:00 Saturday night, Sunday was destined to start early and end late.

A quick note here on kids and Cons....Zoe came to Captain's with Charles and me last year. There were jump castles and toys and all kinds of books to look at, but she was still somehow bored within about two hours. Thus, I discouraged her from coming to Florence, and my mom was going to keep her overnight and all day Sunday, taking her to visit horses and to get into all sorts of shenanigans. But Zoe became determined (somewhere around 9:00 Saturday night) to go help Mommy, so home she came, and to Florence she went. More on how THAT went later...

So. We left the house at 6:30 a.m., locking the dogs together in the laundry room with a dog bed that was doomed to destruction, and we headed up to the con. Since I'd learned a little at Captain's last spring, here are some things I knew to pack:
  • Extra books (I sold out early at Captain's, probably because everyone was SUPER sweet to me);
  • WATER;
  • SNACKS; and
  • Stuff for Zoe to do
The drive wasn't bad at all, and we made it to the Con just in time to set up before their 9 a.m. (loose) deadline. Already the cosplayers were out in force. That was something that was new and different about the Florence Con....TONS of cosplayers. Lots of pics to come in a sec with some of our favorites. That wasn't really a thing in Charleston....some people dressed up, but not to the extent they did in Florence. We had tons of fun people-watching.

People started to arrive around 10, and sales were slow but steady throughout the day. I didn't sell out because I brought enough books, but I sold enough to be very satisfied. I sold more in one day in Florence than I typically do in a month online...so that's VERY cool, AND people were able to buy both JO and ZOMBIE DAYS, CAMPFIRE NIGHTS, which was awesome. Here are some pics...and some further Con lessons learned along the way.


This was the first selfie I took yesterday. Because PENNYWISE!!!! MY NIGHTMARE!!! So of COURSE I smiled pretty beside him. (To be fair...this was a mask....had it been a real person, I'd have run away with my tail between my legs.)


I found the Predator, too. Since I have GREAT memories of watching Predator and Predator 2 with my dad when I was a kid, I needed my picture with him. I wasn't afraid here....I swear!


Meet Zoe Maul. She was THRILLED to have such cool face paint....but this will lead to some lessons later on...

Like this:


No matter how much I pack or prep, or how much cool stuff there is to look at, Zoe will still get bored, and at some point, will wind up weeping with her Darth Maul face against my shoulder while I sell two books to a mom and daughter and attempt to sign them while not getting red and black makeup on my WHITE dress! 

Lesson learned: Pack make-up remover wipes for next year. Also: yes, her hair was sprayed quite red. That came out in her shower, though her eyes are still darkened this morning - she looks a bit like an ancient Egyptian queen!!


Charles made some new friends, too. Here is is with Harley Quinn and...um...I forget the other one's name, but they were cute and had their mom walking with them, managing their photo ops. I was amused.

Lesson learned: Leave all jealousy at home. At cons, there WILL be young women (girls, too) walking around, scantily clad, looking hot. I can't worry about them. I can only worry about me. Plus, they ARE fun to look at... ;)

And finally...


OMG INDIANA JONES BOUGHT JO!!!!!

So that was cool and it made me all kinds of giggly. Hence the giggly picture. I'm laughing hysterically here, while trying to take a selfie. It never goes well.

Lesson learned: Keep your composure, even when meeting someone dressed up as your favorite pretend boyfriend. Otherwise, your selfie will look like THIS!

We didn't get home until after 8...at which point I found the dog bed in a million pieces scattered throughout the laundry room. Which was fun to clean up. I mean, I knew it was coming - Bennett destroys beds, and when my mom let the dogs out mid-day, she let me know it was already quite a mess - but still...ugh. The puppy may have eaten some foam, hence my worries about his belly ache, so I'll keep an eye on him today. 

And then I got to wash the red spray out of Zoe's hair...and try to straighten some things up...and wash the red lipstick from my own lips....and eventually pass the hell out....

It was fun. So fun. I can't wait to do it all again next year!