Read the first chapter of The Blood Will Dry

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Stepping out of the car was like opening a hot oven and climbing inside. The sun beat down on my head while a burst of fiery air engulfed me, coating my skin in stickiness in five seconds flat. Even the tiny sundress I wore didn’t help. Not during the worst heat wave Ohio had seen in years. Not when there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and the air was sticky enough to curl even the straightest hair.

“Thank God for air conditioning,” I said as I slammed the door shut.

Only Michael’s head was visible from the other side of the car, and under the brilliant summer sun, his golden hair shone enough to blind someone. He shot me a smile that made the already bright day seem ten times brighter, and my knees wobbled just like they had when we’d first met. You would think I’d be over that by now. That a surprise pregnancy and the drama we’d been through with his family would have killed the butterflies that had taken up residence in my stomach. But it hadn’t, and I was starting to think nothing could, because I loved this man more than I could have ever thought possible. It was so intense that it felt like something out of a fairy tale or a Nicholas Sparks novel. A love that would transcend time and death and any other obstacle that got in our way.

“It isn’t even that hot yet.” Michael lifted his head toward the flawless blue sky. It was the same color as his eyes, although not nearly as breathtaking. “It’s only June.”

“Great,” I muttered as I headed to the back door, thinking about our shitty little apartment and the nearly useless window unit.

The thing worked in the broad sense of the word. It sputtered out cool air well enough, accompanied by a fine mist of water most of the time. It was all we could afford at the moment though, and even that was only because Michael had given plasma three days a week last summer so he could save up for the thing. Of course, back then we’d had it in our bedroom because I’d been big and round, and so hot that I’d found it impossible to sleep most nights. After he’d installed the little window unit I’d stretched out on the floor in front of it—totally naked—and sighed in contentment as it pinged me with icy drops of water. It had been such a relief that I didn’t even care that I was covered in goose bumps.

Now the window unit was in Cassidy’s room because she needed it more than we did. Although, with this heat wave sweeping the state, I had been seriously considering moving her crib to the master bedroom for the summer so we could all enjoy the bought air.

The back door squeaked in protest when I pulled it open. I leaned in, smiling so big that it made me feel like that freaky cat from Alice in Wonderland, and my eight-month-old daughter smiled back me. She squealed and her blue eyes shimmered the same way her father’s did when he was happy, while on her head the blond ringlets bounced back and forth.

“Hi, princess,” I said as I worked to get her out of the secondhand car seat we’d lucked into.

She squealed again, this time kicking her feet as well. She actually reached out for me, and it did something to my insides. Caused this pang in my chest that made it feel like she was holding my heart in her hand, squeezing it gently the way she did when she wrapped her fingers around one of mine. It was the most beautiful feeling in the history of the world.

I scooped her up and planted a kiss on her forehead as I turned. Michael was ready and waiting with the shitty umbrella stroller I’d managed to scrape up enough money buy. It was from Wal-Mart, so at least it wasn’t secondhand, but it was nothing compared to the fancy things I saw other moms pushing around at the park. Strollers that were made of chrome and converted for all the different stages in your baby’s life, that had baskets underneath so you didn’t have to lug bags around, and cup holders for that five dollar caffeine fix from Starbucks. Luxuries I knew nothing about.

None of that matters, I told myself as I strapped Cassidy into the stroller. One day things will be better. We have time to make something of ourselves. This is just a pit stop in our lives.

Michael was much better with the pep talks than I was.

I stood so I could look him in the eye, the man I loved so much. Our beautiful daughter was between us, strapped into the cheapest stroller money could buy. Next to us the rusty piece of junk that represented our only form of transportation sat baking in the sun, which wasn’t doing the already faded and chipped paint any favors. It had once been red, but now looked more on the pink side, which was a constant source of teasing between Michael and me. I loved pointing out how manly he looked driving around in a pink car. Not that he cared or complained.

“Tell me this is only temporary,” I said.

He couldn’t read my mind, but he knew what I was talking about. We had this same conversation several times a week. Every time a bill came in that I couldn’t pay or we had to spend the last of the money in our checking account on diapers. We were struggling, but we were getting through. Together.

“It’s only temporary.”

He flashed me another smile and I marveled at his straight, white teeth. Teeth that had seen the best orthodontics money could buy as a young teen. Teeth that represented someone who’d had parents who wanted perfection from their child. So much so that when he’d made a mistake they’d decided the only appropriate response was to cut him out of their lives and focus all their efforts on his younger brother.

“You’re happy?” I asked even though I knew he was.

“I’m happy.” He pulled the umbrella stroller back a few steps, maneuvering it behind our piece of shit car. “I don’t need a big house or lots of money. I just need you and Cass.”

When he held his hand out I took it, allowing him to pull me up next to him. I snuggled into his side, loving his body heat even though we were both sticky and gross from the hot summer day. He kissed the top of my head and I pulled back just enough so I could look up into his eyes.

“I love you,” I said.

“Love you,” he replied, and his grin stretched wider. “Now can we please get out of this damn heat?”

I laughed. “Yes. Please.”

He let me go so he could push the stroller and I linked my arm through his as we walked. The mall was packed today and we’d had to park near the back of the lot. In the stroller Cassidy kicked her feet excitedly and squealed. She was a happy baby, thank God, and had only gone through a few bouts of extreme fussiness during her eight months of life. Michael and I had been told by numerous people how difficult this would be, and they’d all been right. Having a baby at the age of eighteen with no help or support was hard, to say the least. But no one had told us how amazing it would be. No one had warned me that this little girl would steal my heart the first time I held her, or that seeing Michael rock her to sleep would make me love him more than ever. No one had told me that all I really needed to be happy were the two people at my side, and that cable and internet were a luxury I wouldn’t miss as long as I told myself that I was doing all of this so I could be with the man I loved and we could raise our baby together.

Michael could have made a much different choice, an easier one that would have had him at Harvard right now—his family Alma Mater—instead of struggling through community college while working forty hours a week. He could have chosen his family over me. But he hadn’t, and I was determined to never let him regret that choice.

I leaned my head against his arm as we walked. “Thanks for choosing me.”

“Thanks for being so amazing,” he replied.

Even with the heat it felt like a picture perfect moment, which of course couldn’t last when you had an infant in tow. We’d just reached the door to the mall when Cassidy spit up. I tried not to groan, but it wasn’t easy, especially knowing that I wouldn’t have the money to go to the laundromat for at least another three days.

Michael stopped outside the mall entrance and knelt in front of the stroller while I dug through the diaper bag I’d slung over my shoulder. Of course, I knew it was pointless. The bag was the only thing I could afford and it was way too small to fit everything I needed, meaning the extra clothes we had were in the car.

“I’m going to have to run back,” I said, holding the bag out for Michael to take. “Get her inside and out of the heat.”

He stood as he took the bag. “I can go.”

I shook my head just as someone passed us on the way into the mall. When they pulled the door open a burst of cool air swept over me and I almost groaned. All I wanted to do was walk around the mall in the AC for a few hours.

“It’s fine,” I lied and held my hand out for the keys.

Michael frowned as he slipped them into my hand, but he didn’t argue. I knew he was tired. He’d worked yesterday after staying up late so he could study for a calculus test, and then he’d been nice enough to let me sleep in when Cassidy got up at six in the morning. The man was a saint, so the least I could do was hike back to the car and grab the extra clothes. Heat or no heat, I owed him that much.

“I’ll be right back,” I said as I walked backward. “Go inside.”

Michael gave me one last smile before heading toward the door.

I turned my back on him and headed across the parking lot, dodging pieces of gum that were baking in the heat and a now melted pile of ice cream that some kid had probably dropped. The sun was directly over me, beating down on my head like it was trying to scorch my scalp. My body was so sticky from sweat that I knew when I finally did make it inside the mall the first burst of cool air would feel too cold and uncomfortable. I could already imagine how the goose bumps would pop up on my moist flesh and how my already wet clothes would cling to my body, almost as if they had been suddenly frozen to my skin.

I unlocked the trunk when I reached our car and the hinges groaned in protest. A woman with two kids under the age of ten passed and gave me a disgusted look. I knew what her expression said, what she thought when she saw me standing beside this piece of junk. I knew that she could somehow tell my clothes were from Goodwill. I did my best to ignore her judgment, but it was impossible. It wasn’t easy getting used to being trash.

This is only temporary, I told myself again.

It took a few minutes of digging through the trunk’s contents to find what I was looking for, but only because I had so many just in case baby items crammed in there that finding the onesie was like going on a scavenger hunt. I held it up to make sure it was clean and a pang twisted my insides. I’d window shopped at baby boutiques countless times, wishing that I could get Cassidy one of the adorable ruffled rompers in the window or the frilly dress that was as impractical as it was beautiful, but this simple onesie was the best I could do. At least it had flowers on it. At least the pattern was pretty and the fabric was soft instead of stark white and scratchy.

I sighed as I slammed the trunk shut, still picturing the romper with the lacy butt and imagining what my little darling would have looked like crawling away from me in that precious little outfit.

One day she will have that, I told myself. One day Cassidy will have everything.

For just a moment, I truly believed it was true.

The blast happened just as I turned to face the mall. The violence of it threw me through the air in a burst of pain and heat, and I landed so hard that all the air whooshed out of my lungs. I couldn’t move, and all around me the world was engulfed in deafening sounds that made it impossible to think. The crunch of metal and glass came from all sides, and above that was a roar I couldn’t comprehend. It was so loud that I had to cover my ears, but that did nothing to block out the noise. It felt like it would crush me with its strength. Like the world was imploding and I would soon be sucked into the heat and noise surrounding me.

Above me, the previously cloudless sky had turned dark. Black and gray clouds bubbled up as if from nowhere and stretched across the sky, growing bigger and darker with each passing second. There was nothing natural about them. They seemed to be centralized, as if they were all coming from the same spot and pushing their way out in hopes of engulfing every inch of blue, and they were darker than even the darkest storm cloud. Threatening. Terrifying.

I had to gasp a few times before I was finally able to fill my lungs, and even though the air was grimy with dirt, it helped bring my mind into sharper focus. My heart was pounding in my ears as I took stock of my body, wiggling fingers and toes, moving limbs. Everything hurt, but there didn’t seem to be any major damage, and once I was sure I was basically okay, I forced myself to sit up.

That’s when the mall came into view. Or at least the spot where the mall had once stood.

“No,” I mumbled as I scrambled over rubble and glass to get to my feet. “No!”

My legs were shaking as I hurried forward, and more than once I fell to the ground, cutting my knees in the process, but I made myself get back up. I couldn’t trust my eyes. I knew it had to be a mirage and that if I could just get there I’d discover that everything was exactly as it was supposed to be. So I ran, passing mangled cars that had been thrown during the blast and heaps of rubble that had come from nowhere. The cars were now on top of one another, reduced to twisted pieces of metal and glass that looked nothing like the vehicles they had once been, and all around me there were piles of rock or mangled metal that had to have come from the blast.

The sky grew darker by the second, and my heart pounded harder with each step I took. The closer I got, the less I was able to deny what I was seeing. It was as if the mall had been blown off the face of the earth or sucked into the ground. There was nothing but a crater now. A hole in the pavement that when I dropped to my knees in front of it and peered down, seemed to go on forever. It was deep and wide and black and crushing in its magnitude.

“No,” I said again, this time covering my face with my hands.

My body shook with sobs, and when another explosion rocked the ground beneath me, this time further away, I was only half aware of it. It wasn’t until another one exploded through the air that I pulled my hands from my face. In the distance, a fireball lit up the sky. Above it there was a mass of dark clouds, just like the ones over my head right now. The little bit of sunlight that was still able to penetrate the darkness glinted off cars as they went flying, and a few seconds later another explosion sounded to my right, and then another to my left, and another behind me until it felt as if I had been sucked into a war movie.

I knew I wasn’t safe where I was, but I couldn’t bring myself to care or leave. The sobs shaking my body were too violent, too devastating. It felt as if I would explode just as the mall had, and I couldn’t find it in me to care. Not even a little.

It wasn’t until I squeezed my hands into fists that I realized I was holding something. I looked down and blinked, but I had to force my fingers to relax so I could open my hand. The little purple flowers on the onesie felt like knives in my chest, and in that moment I knew I would never be the same.

Want to read more?? Get the book on Kindle and Kindle Unlimited now!

New Release: The Blood Will Dry

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The Blood Will Dry

Kate L. Mary

A Post-apocalyptic Romance Novel

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Five years after an alien invasion, the earth is unrecognizable. The human race has been decimated and the sun completely blotted out by dark clouds that bring constant rain. All indigenous plant life has been killed off and replaced by vegetation that has proven to be as deadly as it is invasive, and the aliens that have taken over the planet are seemingly invincible.

Living in a crowded building with other survivors, Diana Foster wants nothing more than to forget what she lost the day the aliens arrived. But an incoming platoon brings a familiar face, one that not only opens old wounds, but also forces her to deal with the painful memories she’s worked hard to forget. Bryan may not be the same cocky kid he was before the invasion, but his sudden appearance still turns Diana’s world upside down in ways she never expected. When he showed up she knew it would mean finally facing her past, but she never thought she’d find a future that was actually worth living.

After years of struggling to find a weakness in the aliens’ defenses, Diana stumbles upon a solution just as a new and more deadly threat surfaces. Faced with an attraction she never expected and a battle that most believe can’t be won, Diana must work through her painful past as the survivors mount a battle that may determine the fate of mankind. If her plan fails it very well could be the end of humanity, but if works it will mean having a real future, and a chance to allow the blood to dry once and for all.

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Excerpt

The city was as quiet as it usually was, but for some reason I felt on edge. Everything seemed to be sharper than before too, like I was really seeing all the details for the first time. The dark, nearly black clouds looked puffier than I remembered, and thick. They hung in a suspended state like Michelangelo himself had painted them. The vines that snaked their way across the streets and up the buildings seemed thicker and more threatening, their surfaces even more moist than ever before.

The drizzle Daisy had reported had lightened until it was nothing more than a fine mist. When it was like this it always made me think of amusement parks on a hot day, how they would have a misting station set up to help guests keep cool. I remember going to King’s Island as a kid, back before my dad died and my world had shifted for the first time, how I’d rush to join the crowd already gathered under the mist, fighting for my turn to cool off.

The air was as thick with moisture as it always was right before the clouds really opened up, despite how light the mist was. I could smell the rain on the air too. Not the pleasant odor that used to follow a storm in spring, but a sickly sweet scent that made me shudder. It reminded me of those first few weeks, back when we didn’t know how dangerous this new landscape was. Back when no one realized that some of these flowers were beautiful for a reason; that the bright pinks and purples and oranges were there to draw you in just so the aliens could take more of us down.

We were better prepared now. We knew what not to touch and what we could eat thanks to the rats and mice that had crowded the cities in those early days. We’d trapped them and used them to test out the flowers around us first, and then some of the other plants that had looked like fruit. With most of our native plants gone or dying, it was the only way to survive. Without the sun, nothing else would grow and we knew the processed food wouldn’t last forever.

I pulled the hood up on my poncho as I passed a gnarled old tree. The limbs hung bare and lifeless, like arms reaching up from a grave. It was just one of thousands of dead trees all over the city. Most of those close to our building had been cut down and used for firewood, and I knew this one probably wouldn’t last that much longer. It was a remnant of the past and a constant reminder of what we’d lost.

The rain picked up before I’d reached the end of the block. It changed from a fine mist to a light drizzle and felt unnaturally warm for such a cool day. The sun being so thoroughly blocked out had caused the average temperature to plummet, but the terraforming had been so complete that the atmosphere was now somehow cool and humid at the same time. Your skin could be moist with sweat and yet covered in goose bumps. The air could be cool like it was now, but the rain that fell was warm enough that it felt like the sun had heated it. Maybe it had. Maybe the sun beating down on those clouds was what made the rain so hot. Or maybe it was just how the aliens had engineered it to be.

About the Author

18581526_1671276819846638_9135279862380836398_nKate L. Mary is an award-winning author of New Adult and Young Adult fiction, ranging from Post-apocalyptic tales of the undead, to Speculative Fiction and Contemporary Romance. Her YA book, When We Were Human, was the 2015 Children’s Moonbeam Book Awards Silver Medal Winner for Young Adult Fantasy/Sci-Fi Fiction, and the 2016 Readers’ Favorite Gold Medal Winner for Young Adult Science Fiction. Fans of The Walking Dead won’t want to miss out on her Amazon Bestselling Broken World series, and the spin-off series, Twisted World.

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Coming Soon: THE BLOOD WILL DRY

The Blood Will Dry

An Alien Apocalypse Romance Novel

August 15, 2017

Five years after an alien invasion, the earth is unrecognizable. The human race has been decimated and the sun completely blotted out by dark clouds that bring constant rain. All indigenous plant life has been killed off and replaced by vegetation that has proven to be as deadly as it is invasive, and the aliens that have taken over the planet are seemingly invincible.

Living in a crowded building with other survivors, Diana Foster wants nothing more than to forget what she lost the day the aliens arrived. But an incoming platoon brings a familiar face, one that not only opens old wounds, but also forces her to deal with the painful memories she’s worked hard to forget. Bryan may not be the same cocky kid he was before the invasion, but his sudden appearance still turns Diana’s world upside down in ways she never expected. When he showed up she knew it would mean finally facing her past, but she never thought she’d find a future that was actually worth living.

After years of struggling to find a weakness in the aliens’ defenses, Diana stumbles upon a solution just as a new and more deadly threat surfaces. Faced with an attraction she never expected and a battle that most believe can’t be won, Diana must work through her painful past as the survivors mount a battle that may determine the fate of mankind. If her plan fails it very well could be the end of humanity, but if works it will mean having a real future, and a chance to allow the blood to dry once and for all.

Available for Pre-order NOW!

 

Giveaway to Celebrate 3 years of BROKEN WORLD

To celebrate the 3rd anniversary of BROKEN WORLD I’m giving the ebook away for FREE and one lucky winner will win a paperback signed and annotated by me!

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To enter you only have to do two things.

STEP ONE: Tell someone about the free promo. Either by word of mouth or on social media (Facebook or Twitter or any other place you can post). Here are the links so you can easily share: B&N   iBooks   Kobo   Amazon

STEP TWO: Fill out this form.

That’s it! Thanks for making the last 3 years great, for sharing the promo, and for entering the giveaway. And good luck!

 

TWISTED MEMORIES is live!

It’s FINALLY here!
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Twenty years ago Angus James woke to find himself in a sterile room. On the other side of the locked door, doctors worked to manipulate a virus, using him as their ultimate pin cushion. He was supposed to be dead – and there were moments over the next two decades when he wished he was – but despite his torturous existence, he remained a fighter. Through pain, love, loss, and heartbreak, Angus traveled a road that took him on a journey much bigger than the room he was confined to. As the world move forward without him, he fought to hold onto as much of himself as he could, determined to make it out of his prison a whole man. 

Outside the walls of the CDC, Angus’s family worked to move on. But between the dark rumors surrounding the man in charge and a twisted new religion that threatened to turn their lives upside down, starting over has began to seem impossible. With more and more of the freedoms being stripped away, and more devastating losses piling up around them, the group found themselves wishing they’d never set foot in New Atlanta in the first place.
And wondering if leaving was even an option
 
Travel back with Twisted Memories and experience the emotional journey Angus James was forced to take during his twenty years as a prisoner. Discover how he came to be a father, what he did to stay sane during his long confinement, and how he managed to earn his freedom. 

CLICK HERE to get Twisted Memories now!

 

Twisted Memories is now available for Pre-order

It’s finally almost here!

Twisted Memories is available for Pre-order and will be live June 7th!TM background3

Twenty years ago Angus James woke to find himself in a sterile room. On the other side of the locked door, doctors worked to manipulate a virus, using him as their ultimate pin cushion. He was supposed to be dead – and there were moments over the next two decades when he wished he was – but despite his torturous existence, he remained a fighter. Through pain, love, loss, and heartbreak, Angus traveled a road that took him on a journey much bigger than the room he was confined to. As the world move forward without him, he fought to hold onto as much of himself as he could, determined to make it out of his prison a whole man. 

Outside the walls of the CDC, Angus’s family worked to move on. But between the dark rumors surrounding the man in charge and a twisted new religion that threatened to turn their lives upside down, starting over has began to seem impossible. With more and more of the freedoms being stripped away, and more devastating losses piling up around them, the group found themselves wishing they’d never set foot in New Atlanta in the first place.
And wondering if leaving was even an option
 
Travel back with Twisted Memories and experience the emotional journey Angus James was forced to take during his twenty years as a prisoner. Discover how he came to be a father, what he did to stay sane during his long confinement, and how he managed to earn his freedom. 

CLICK HERE to pre-order Twisted Memories now!

 

Gone with the Dead Anthology

Check out my short story in the Romance/Horror Anthology GONE WITH THE DEAD!

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An Anthology of Romance and Horror where Gone with the Wind meets The Walking Dead!

When a convention of more than 4,000 romance writers and readers descends upon Atlanta Georgia, it can only mean one thing…a mash-up of two of the finest Georgia traditions.

Erotic romance anthologist Lori Perkins has brought together 16 tales of Southern love and death in this unique short story collection.

Stories By
Christina and the Virus by Sarah Bale – A Dead Man is Hard to Find by Ellay Branton – A Piece of Him by R. L. Merrill – A Happy Medium by Freddie Milano – Bait by Isabelle Drake – Bloody Line by Carolyn Haven – Devil’s in the Well by Harley Easton – A Ferocious Blossom by Marie Piper – Kissing Summer by Megan Hart – If I Only Knew By Genevieve Williams – Animals by Sue Ayers – Dogs of War by Andrew Robertson – The Music Man by Kimberlie L. Faye – Fallen by Xio Axelrod – Leftovers by Cassandra Chandler – Here for You by Kate L. Mary

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HUGE ebook Sale

For the first time ever ALL my ebooks are on sale for ONLY 99 cents each. This may never happen again, so grab them while you can! May 1st-9th only, you can get all seven books in the Amazon best-selling BROKEN WORLD series, as well as over a dozen other ebooks. Young adult, new adult, romance, dystopian, zombie apocalypse, and post-apocalyptic fiction!
 
CLICK HERE to get these great books!

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SALE on Zombie Romance Novellas

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Through April 1st you can get all four
Zombie Apocalypse Love Story Novellas
for only $0.99

More than Survival

Fighting for a Future

Playing the Odds

The Key to Survival

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Sale and Contest

Today, I have a fun surprise that I’d like to share with you. I’ve teamed up with 10 fantastic sci-fi romance authors to offer some great post-apocalyptic reads for $2.99 or less! My novel MOONCHILD is on sale for $0.99, along with books from authors like Eve Silver and Heather Knight.
Check out all the books here: bit.ly/post-apoc-rom-sale 
Happy reading! 
~Kate
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NEW Novella-The Key to Survival

The Key to Survival

39,000 Words

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After finding her fiancé in a compromising position, Jane heads to a private island resort in Key West to clear her head. There she meets Austin, six years younger than she is and the exact opposite of her fiancé in every way, he seems like the perfect prescription to cure her heartbreak. But everything changes when the virus that had previously only been a minor nuisance morphs into a full-blown epidemic. Three miles from the mainland and surrounded by ocean, Austin and Jane believe they’re safe from what’s happening in the world, but a virus knows no borders, and it isn’t long before other guests start coming down with the illness. 

Zombie isn’t a word that anyone likes to throw around, but it’s the only explanation the couple can think of when one of the other hotel guests tries to eat Austin’s face off. As things go from bad to worse and Jane leans on Austin more and more, she soon finds herself wondering if her little trip to Florida wasn’t just the key to her survival, but also the key to finding a man who will love her the way she deserves.

Available NOW on Kindle and Kindle Unlimited

NEW Novella-Playing the Odds

SURPRISE release of the next Zombie Apocalypse Love Story Novella:

Playing the Odds

 

playing largeWhen Cole breaks into a winery in the middle of Napa Valley, he’s pretty sure he’s only there to drink himself to death. After all, a virus has wiped out most of the population and turned them into zombies, and he doesn’t really feel like he has anything left to live for.

Alessa retreated to her family’s winery hoping to find comfort. Every good memory she’s ever had started there, and even though her entire family is gone now, she knows that she’ll have to hold onto the strength they’ve always given her if she’s going to survive.

After a rocky start the two find themselves trying to move forward, welcoming other survivors into the winery so they can work together to build a future. But as the chemistry between Cole and Alessa heats up, an unexpected twist is thrown their way, forcing them to fight the odds and find each other once again.

***39,000 Words

Available NOW on Kindle and Kindle Unlimited

Get Twisted Mind Today!

Now available: 

Born at the beginning of the zombie apocalypse to the head of the CDC and the leader of the new world, Jackson Star has always known that he would one day rule. Only the Stars’ plans go much deeper than simply keeping humanity alive, and the evil that sleeps inside Jackson is darker than even his father knows. Everyone in the settlement is a puppet, and everyone has a purpose in the Stars’ master plan, starting with Megan James.

But as Jackson and his father creep closer to achieving their goals at the CDC, things slowly begin to unravel. Meg isn’t cooperating the way she should be, and the presence of a new person in her life is threatening to blow their plan apart. Jackson must now decide how to deal with the girl he has spent the last nine years trying to manipulate, as well as the family she has left and the man who has taken up residence in her life. To complicate matters even more, the darkness inside Jackson has gotten increasingly persistent, making it difficult for him to control it at times and leading him to wonder if he shouldn’t just give in to his urges once and for all.

This novella is a dark and disturbing look into Jackson’s brain, and the inner-workings of the CDC. It will give readers a glimpse of the future, as well as answer questions that have plagued us from the very beginning of the Broken World series.

Buy on Kindle and Kindle Unlimited

Update!

Whew! It’s been a while, hasn’t it? I know I’m behind on LOTS of things, and updating readers is just one of them. Walker Wednesday fell by the wayside during my recent move from Oklahoma (I’m still going to get those posts up), and I had so much going on that I literally went weeks without writing a single word. It was stressful because I missed working, but also because I knew readers would be anticipating getting something new from me.

Well, I’m in Ohio now and in my new house, and I’m settling into life. I finally got back to work this week since most of my boxes have been unpacked, and I’m excited to announce that I have finished the first draft of a novella: Twisted Mind.

This story will fill in some blanks from the past, as well as give you glimpse of what to expect in the next book, Twisted Memories. Told from the perspective of Jackson Star, it’s a dark and disturbing look at the inner workings of the CDC and what they are trying to accomplish. Have you always found yourself wondering about the origins of the original virus? Well, you’ll finally have answers to some of the questions you’ve had since Broken World!

While I don’t have an official release date yet, I’m getting ready to send Twisted Mind to beta readers today and I hope to have it out to you by mid-January (holidays permitting)! Here’s the blurb so you can get a better idea of what to expect!

Born at the beginning of the zombie apocalypse to the head of the CDC and the leader of the new world, Jackson Star has always known that he would one day lead. Only the Stars’ plans go much deeper than simply keeping humanity alive, and the evil that sleeps inside Jackson is darker than even his father knows. Everyone in the settlement is a puppet, and everyone has a purpose in the Stars’ master plan, starting with Megan James.

But as Jackson and his father creep closer to achieving their goals at the CDC, things slowly begin to unravel. Meg isn’t cooperating like she should, and the presence of a new person in her life is threatening to blow their plan apart. Jackson must now decide how do deal with the girl he has spent the last nine years trying to manipulate, as well as the family she has left and the man who
has taken up residence in her life. To complicate matters even more, the dark-ness in Jackson has gotten increasingly persistent, making it difficult for him to control it at times and leading him to wonder if he shouldn’t just give into his urges once and for all.

Twisted Mind is a dark and disturbing look into Jackson’s brain, as well as the inner workings of the CDC. It will give readers a glimpse of the future, as well as answer some of the questions that have plagued readers from the beginning of the Broken World series.

 

Walker Wednesday

Walker Wednesday

 

The Walking Dead, Season 7, episode 4

November 13, 2016

This was a super-sized episode of The Walking Dead, and when the Saviors show up at Alexandria (early), not even a week has passed since Negan killed Glenn and Abraham. And Daryl is with them as the help. He wasn’t allowed to talk to anyone, and even when Negan gave him permission to plead his case for staying, Daryl didn’t utter a word. Different people are going to have different ideas as to why he chose to remain silent, but to me it was part protecting the group and part him feeling like he didn’t deserve to come back. He has enough guilt over Glenn and he’s been through a lot at the hands of the Saviors, then he shows up in Alexandria to find out Maggie “is dead.” I can’t even imagine how Daryl is feeling after that bomb was dropped on him, but to me it seems very possible that he’s going back with the Saviors because he feels like he deserves to be punished just a little bit more.

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While the Saviors were in Alexandria, Dwight made Rosita and Spencer go fetch Daryl’s motorcycle. Dwight is a character I’ll be interested to watch develop. He’s the bad guy, but I think he’s biding his time. What the motorcycle is all about is a puzzle, though. This guy is in charge of Daryl’s torture – or indoctrination if that’s what you want to call it – but he’s doing it out of his own sense of survival. Dwight knows that if he crosses Negan, he’s not the only one who will pay. Negan may think Sherry is “super hot,” but that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t slit her throat and trade her in for another woman if he thought it would teach a lesson. Dwight knows this, and he’s playing along, but I think that when the moment is right, he very well could be the group’s biggest ally and Daryl’s only chance of getting out of there alive.

Spencer made it pretty clear that he blames Rick for everything that’s happened with the Saviors. He told Rosita that the group should have made a deal with the Saviors when they had the chance. Problem with that is, things wouldn’t have turned out much different. Yes, perhaps Abraham and/or Glenn would still be alive, but someone else would have died in some other way. Negan would have thought it was necessary the moment he interacted with Rick, because Rick is a man who doesn’t go down easy and Negan is good at reading people. But Spencer is one of those characters who doesn’t learn easily. No matter what Rick does, no matter how things go or how long they live or what Rick gets them through, Spencer is always going to think he could be a better leader. He’s wrong, but that’s how it’s going to be until something major happens to kick him in the ass and change his mind.

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While in Alexandria, the Saviors were nice enough to leave all the food, but they took every single gun Rick and his group had. All of them. Rick even showed he was trustworthy by retrieving the gun Michonne had stashed away, which happened to not be on the inventory. Yes, he could have left it where it was, but I think his reasons for turning it over to Negan were two-fold. One, to show he was on board, but also so he could try to get Daryl back. It didn’t work, but I think it was the right move. After all, one gun isn’t going to do them a whole lot of good at this point, so why not add it to the ones Negan already took?

The Saviors also took most of the mattresses in Alexandria. Now, I didn’t understand this at the time. For one, Negan’s group is pretty established, so I figured they probably had their own beds already. Also, it seems like it would be fairly easy to replace the mattresses. I mean, odds are not many people raided mattress stores at the end of the world, plus every house you pass is going to have a couple beds up for grabs. But it all makes sense when Michonne discovers a pile of burned mattresses at the end of the episode. It didn’t have a thing to do with the beds. It was about letting everyone in Alexandria know where they stand. Not everyone was there to see what happened to Glenn and Abraham, and to many of the people in that town, losing the guns won’t have much of an impact. A bed, though… They’ll think about that every time they lay down to go to sleep. And the Saviors left the burned mattresses close enough that someone from the town was sure to find them, kind of like a big f-you for everyone in the town. Smart. Negan continues to surprise me with his psychological mind games.

My biggest concern during this episode, though, was Judith. I have this awful feeling that she is going to be of great interest to Negan when he finds out about her. For one, he already has it in for Rick, and after Carl decided to be a badass during this episode, he probably has it in for Rick Jr. too. What better way to make sure these two do as they’re told than to take Judith? The second Negan sees how much this baby means to them, she’ll be gone.

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Secondly, we know from last week’s episode that Negan is trying to get Dwight’s wife pregnant. At first I thought them throwing this into the story was just so they could emphasize how bad things are for Dwight, but now I think it might be foreshadowing things to come. Why Negan wants a baby is a mystery, but it has been established that he does. Thirdly, I found it very interesting that Judith was conveniently out of sight when the Saviors where around. You would have thought that the existence of a baby would have come up in some way when Negan’s men were searching the houses, but nope. Not a peep out of baby Judith. Finally, we got a major bomb dropped on us during this episode, something viewers have been speculating about since season two.  Judith is Shane’s baby. Rick knows it, apparently he’s known it all along, but he made a special point of saying, “I know Judith isn’t mine. I know it. I love her. She’s my daughter. But she isn’t mine.” Why after all this time would they choose this particular moment to bring Shane up unless they wanted to emphasize something about Judith? They wouldn’t. Writers always have a reason.

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What else happened in this episode… Michonne sneaks out to practice shooting and apparently she’s a really bad shot. After all this time during the apocalypse, you’d think she would have learned how to shoot just a little better. Was she planning to kill Negan when he showed up? Seems like it, which may be another reason Rick took the rifle. Also, why did Rick think he needed to tell Negan that Maggie died? To protect her or to cover up the fact that they are allies with the Hilltop? And is she out of the woods? Did she have surgery? Is the baby okay? Where’s Sasha? I’m not quite sure about all that yet, so I guess we’ll just have to see how it all plays out. Either way, things are going to get worse for Maggie (and the whole group) before they get better.

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Walker Wednesday

Walker Wednesday

 

The Walking Dead, Season 7, episode 3

November 6, 2016

 

For me, episode three was almost as emotional to watch as the season premiere was. Before we’d even reached the first commercial break, I had turned to my husband and said, “I can understand why people have stopped watching.” Here’s why.

The episode starts with Dwight going about his business. He’s making a sandwich, giving us a little glimpse into how things are run.

Dwight takes.

While other people living with the Saviors have to stand in line and wait their turn, sometimes begging for a small piece of bread, Dwight jumps the line and takes an entire loaf. Then he takes pickles from someone. He takes lettuce. He takes mustard. He takes an egg. Others get nothing, while he takes what he wants.

It’s obvious Dwight is at the top of the food chain here, so you think everything must be good for him. Then he steps outside, all ready to eat his sandwich (which looked really good by the way), and he seems to lose his appetite when he looks out over a yard of zombies who are chained up and struggling to get free.

Like Dwight, I was really bothered by the yard of zombies. It might not seem like much to some people, but to me it was another example of just how little humanity lives in Negan and his top men. The zombies may have been around for over a year now, and the sight of them may have become almost normal, but they were still people at one time. They were fathers and sons and sisters and mothers, and it should bother a person to see them chained up the way they were. A person who can feel anything should be able to look at killing them as an act of mercy. I think of it the way Rick did, way back in the first season when he woke up to a crazy world that had fallen apart. After parting ways with Morgan the first time, Rick went back to find the half-eaten zombie he saw when he first left the hospital, and before he put a bullet in its head Rick said,  “I’m sorry this happened to you.” To me, that’s a normal reaction.

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That moment when Dwight loses his appetite is our first clue that he might not be as thrilled with his position in life as he first appeared to be. Every time we’ve run into him since he stole Daryl’s crossbow, he seemed loyal and pleased with his place at Negan’s side. He also seemed to have a personal vendetta against Daryl.

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But it isn’t too long into episode three when we find out something is up with Dwight. 

We run into the woman he was with before, who turns out to be his wife, and it seems they are no longer together. Even stranger, she’s with Negan now, and apparently trying to get pregnant (creepy alert). There’s even a moment when Negan tries to use her as a reward for a job well done, which he doesn’t seem to realize would only be adding insult to injury for Dwight. It’s a messed up situation where Dwight has been backed into a corner of loyalty, and it seems he isn’t the only one.

No one except a handful of Negan’s top mean looked happy to be with the Saviors. The people are there because they feel like they have no other choice, but they’re scared of Negan. They bow down when he walks into a room, which I felt was a bit ironic considering we’d just met a man the week before who actually calls himself a king, yet not a single one of his subjects bowed to him. Negan rules with fear. He thrives on it. He uses the zombies in the yard to lord his power over people. He carries Lucille with him everywhere he goes as a reminder of what can happen if you cross him.

Seeing what Daryl is going through in this episode… Wow. He’s being conditioned and tortured. Locked in a cell with nothing—not even clothes at first—and fed dog food sandwiches while overly happy music is pumped into his cell. They’re trying to break him, and as the viewer, it’s easy to think that Daryl is stronger than this. He’s been through a lot and always come out of it. He’s Daryl Dixon. He can handle it. But now he’s alone with little hope of rescue, and he’s carrying the guilt of Glenn’s death with him on top of everything else. His one attempt at escape ends up being a trap and deep down he knows he only has one choice to get out of this alive: follow Negan. Daryl says he’ll never bow to Negan, but I have to admit that I like Dwight, I found myself wondering if he would be able to keep it together. A person can only take so much before survival instincts kick in. 

The standoff between Daryl and Negan at the very end of the episode was intense. First, we get the story of what happened with Dwight and his wife. She offered herself up to Negan in exchange for her husband’s life. Holy shit. Dwight has to walk around every day knowing that his wife is with a man he hates, and he has to serve that man.

Is it worth it, though? That’s the question. Watching this episode, I found myself wondering why these people were fighting to live if this was the only future they saw for themselves. I got why Gordon (the man who ran away from the Saviors) chose death over going back. There is no future in this group, not unless you’re willing to sell your soul. Dwight can see that logically, but he hasn’t reached the point where he’s ready to throw in the towel because he is focused on keeping his wife alive. Daryl gets it, though. Daryl understands Dwight now and I think that may turn the tide of how these two interact. But it’s also why Daryl refuses to give in. He knows doing it would be the easy way out. His torture would end. He could leave the room and join the Saviors and go about his day just like Dwight does, but it would be a betrayal after what happened. He inadvertently caused Glenn’s death, and giving in to Negan’s demands would be wrong in Daryl’s eyes. It would be repeating the mistake he already made, and he’d have to walk around for the rest of his life with the blood of every person Negan killed or hurt on his hands, and Daryl isn’t willing to sell his soul. It makes me love him so much more than ever before. 

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