Welcome, everyone, to my day in the My Crazy Corner YA/NA Blogfest! It might be a little bit of a stretch to put my books in the NA category, but I’ll let you be the judge. Ellen is in graduate school at the start of the series, making her around twenty-four years old. One of the main secondary characters is fifteen-year-old Melissa, who becomes Ellen’s adopted sister, so maybe that tips the scale a bit.
Just be aware, while this is a zombie apocalypse story, there are some really monstrous humans in their world. Ellen and Melissa go through some extremely ugly things. I don’t graphically describe them, but there are parts—especially in the first book—that could be difficult to read.
Good question. Honestly, it was kind of an accident. A lucky one, but still. My first book is a romance, and I consider myself a romance writer. But a few years ago, a zombie-writing friend asked me to write a short story for a collection he was putting together, and The Dead Survive was born as Monsters Unmasked.
Last year, after I started working with Limitless Publishing, I expanded it to novella length (so don’t be shocked when you find TDS is not a full-length novel) and it was released in December with its new title. I felt Ellen’s story was far from over, and wrote Fallback, which is full-length, and book 3 will hopefully come out later this year.
A SPECIAL SURPRISE, JUST FOR YOU!
As I mentioned, Ellen has an adopted little sister, Melissa Donato. Melissa is just fifteen when she is abducted by the same sadistic monsters as Ellen, and she and Ellen stay together after their rescue.
We learn a lot more about Melissa in book two, in which she is now seventeen. She was really broken after the events in The Dead Survive, and in Fallback we learn she copes with a lot of things by writing. I’ve never shared what she writes about, and today you will be the very first to get a peek into her journal. At the start of the outbreak, her Aunt Jenny came and tried to convince Melissa’s parents to bring her and flee with her in her motorhome to the Smoky Mountains. Her father refused, believing they were safe in their somewhat remote home…but he was very wrong. Though she hasn’t seen her aunt again, Melissa holds out hope she’s still alive, safe somewhere in the mountains.
Written inside the front cover of every volume of Melissa’s spiral-bound notebooks…
IF FOUND, please try to deliver to Jenny Donato, last seen three days after the outbreak. Driving an older green and white Winnebago with daisy decals all over the door, heading for the Smoky Mountains.
Well, Aunt Jenny, it’s really happening. I’ve been safe here with Ellen for two years, but tomorrow we’re leaving. There is a big group of bad guys, like the ones who took me and Ellen, and the council is pretty sure they’re going to attack us sometime this summer. In case we lose and have to abandon this place, some of us are going away—they haven’t told us where yet—to set up safe places for everyone to go until we can all get back together and start a new settlement somewhere else.
When we found out about the huge marauder camp and the council told us about the fallback places they had planned, I knew right away I wanted to go…wherever it was. You were right when you came to us at the start of all this and asked us to come with you. If only Dad hadn’t been so sure it was safer to stay in familiar territory! Maybe something bad still would’ve happened if we’d left, but I know for sure bad stuff happened because we stayed. I’m not staying this time.
I worried Ellen wouldn’t volunteer for a fallback team. I knew she’d want to, but I was afraid she’d refuse to because she thought it would be too hard for me. We’d never split up, so if she goes, I go. Period. She got me through all the months it took me to start to get over what happened (not that I’ll ever be totally over it), all that time I didn’t care if I was dead or alive. Even as messed up as she was herself, she took care of me, and I love her to pieces. She’s a lot better now too, and even started training to fight these zombies last year. She’s pretty bad-ass, but don’t tell her I said that. I like to keep her humble. (Ha.)
So, we’re going. Ellen and Rebecca are two of the fighters, and Ellen will help Marcus keep things organized. I’m going to help Jocelyn and Faith in the kitchen—Marcus says there’s a full kitchen where we’re going—and also work with Neil taking care of the animals. We have goats! I don’t think Ellen is thrilled about that, since she had to get Wilhelm down off the chicken coop in the back yard again today, but I love them.
The other excellent part of being on the fallback team is…Patrick is going too. I didn’t tell you about him before, but his name is Patrick Gough, and he’s so gorgeous. He’s a couple years older than me and Faith, and a really good builder. He’s Neil’s nephew, and he lives with him, so I see him a lot when I’m working with Neil in the barns and pastures.
He has curly dark hair almost long enough to reach his collar, and green eyes with the thickest eyelashes. He’s pretty tall and really strong, and he has the most amazing laugh. Faith thinks he likes me, but he hasn’t said anything yet. He comes around the barn a lot more than I think he probably needs to, though, so maybe that’s a good sign.
The whole thing scares me a little, because of what happened to me, but Patrick is really sweet and funny, and I know he’d never do anything to hurt me. I wish Ellen had somebody. I know she’s lonely, but after what happened last year in the cherry orchard, I guess she’s scared too.
Well, Aunt Jenny, I’d better go to bed. Early day tomorrow, and then a long day on the road. I’m worried about the zombies out there. I can kill them when I have to—I’m pretty good with my long-handled hatchet—but you never know what you’ll run into outside our walls. Wherever you are, I hope you’re safe and happy. I love you, and hope I see you again someday.
ABOUT THE BOOKS…
The Dead Survive (book 1)
It should be easy to tell who the monsters are in the middle of a global zombie pandemic…
The blank-eyed swarms of animated corpses who want to gnaw on your flesh. Well, those are the obvious choice, of course.
In reality, though, it’s not always that simple.
In the early days of the global zombie pandemic, Ellen Hale learned a brutal lesson. While trying to survive the hordes of zombies, Ellen was abducted by a band of marauders and subjected to abuse almost beyond her ability to endure.
She is broken both mentally and physically, and fears she is on the verge of becoming a monster herself…
Until she is rescued by a growing band of survivors and given a second chance.
Ellen is taken to “The Compound,” where she meets ex-convict, Quinn.
He’s everything she’d ever been taught to fear, but his presence is the only thing that makes her feel safe.
Will she be able to look past his rough exterior and learn to trust him? Or will the memory of the men who subjected her to such sadistic horrors ruin her chance at a new life?
Fallback (book 2)
After being rescued from a brutal band of marauders, Ellen Hale rebuilt her life in the fortified neighborhood that became her home. A heartbreaking decision and devastating loss pushed her to become a fierce fighter, because weakness only got you and those you loved killed.
Now her community is facing a deadly threat, and Ellen has another choice to make.
Ellen volunteers as a member of fallback team three, tasked with establishing a temporary refuge for their citizens in the event their community is overrun by the enemy. As the danger intensifies, she and her adopted sister, Melissa, set off with the rest of their team on the road trip from hell.
Their mission is cloaked in secrecy, but suspicions of a traitor arise.
Something is affecting the zombies’ migration patterns, and when blacksmith Tyler Garrett is discovered trapped in a farmhouse, the team refuses to trust him. But Ellen believes his story, and it’s not just because of his rugged, blond good looks and soft-spoken manner—his skills can greatly benefit their team.
As the team struggles to reach the fallback, previously secure locations are overrun, and their chances of success seem remote. With the likelihood of a traitor nearly certain, and the lives of everyone she loves at risk, Ellen must figure out who to trust before the traitor—or the zombies—destroy them all.
Is there a spy among the fallback team, or is there another threat lurking in the Kentucky hills?
I spent my early years reading books in a tree in northern West Virginia. The 1980s and 90s found me and my husband Tom moving around the Midwest, mainly because it was easier to move than clean the apartment. After seventeen frigid years in Minnesota, we fled to coastal North Carolina in 2013. I will never leave, and if you try to make me, I will hurt you.
I’ve worked in public libraries, written advertising copy for wastewater treatment equipment, and managed a holistic veterinary clinic. My current day job, conducted from my World Headquarters and Petting Zoo (my couch) is as a full-time editor for indie authors and Managing Editor for Limitless Publishing.
My dogs are a big part of my life, and I’ve served or held offices in Golden Retriever and Great Pyrenees rescues, a humane society, a county kennel club, and my own chapter of Therapy Dogs International.
Parents of a grown son, Tom and I were high school sweethearts, and he manages to love me in spite of myself. Some of his duties include making sure I always have fresh coffee and safe tires, trying to teach me to use coupons, and convincing the state police to spring me from house arrest in my hotel room in time for a very important concert. That last one only happened once—so far—but I still really, really appreciate it.
COME SEE ME: