Please help me welcome the lovely, the awesommer -- SOMMER MARSDEN. She's going to share with us her thoughts on running and writing, then some great books with hot covers and ZOMBIES.
Run for your life!...or your butt…
It drives my kids (and my man) insane that I run without headphones and music. I run in silence. The three of them can’t fathom it, and I can’t fathom any other way.
Running gives my brain a chance to run with the ball, so to speak. No TV, computer or people talking to me to interrupt the flow of my thoughts. Which, yes, can be a bad thing. But it can also be a super thing. It was chance run-in with a very strange passerby one morning that gave me the idea for LUNATIC FRINGE and the snippet below. If I’d been singing along to The Counting Crows or screeching Bohemian Rhapsody at the top of my lungs, I’d have never made the mental connection to my zombies and my exterminators. Ever.
Granted, a lot of what goes on in my head when I’m running is: Oh dear baby Christmas I’m still running is it over yet? Can I sit down now, please?
But during those golden moments where I drift and my mind wanders, I get some good ideas. For current books or future books or blogs. Or just scenes. Titles. Lots of stuff.
But yeah, mostly its internal weeping and begging. Occasionally, I pretend a zombie hoard is chasing me and I say to myself, Run for your life! I usually keep my same old speed, though.
Much to my dismay, I’m running more because I’m about to be forty. And I would like to be a tiny bit lighter. Not much, just enough to wear my favorite jeans to my party and…ya know…breathe.
I did consider on my morning run today, listening to books on tap. They have them now that are as small as an MP3 player and you just insert your own battery and headphones. But then I realized that I’d be piping someone else’s words into my head instead of letting my own unfold. And then I might have missed the fact that it was really misty and foggy and Jack the Ripperish. I might not have realized that it was unusually deserted for my neck of the woods. I live spitting distance from the city proper but for most of my run I felt like I was on some country road. I might have missed the webs that seem to have inundated our neighborhoods and are strewn all over the bushes and trees and even too-tall grass…
See? My brain just took off in six different directions ;)
Leave me a comment for a chance to win the zombie exterminator pdf of your choice. Tell me how you get your ideas (if you happen to a writer), how you exercise, if you love to work out to music or…your favorite zombie book/movie/series. Pretty much dealer’s choice
LUNATIC FRINGE by Sommer Marsden.
Buy link: http://www.
Poppy's birthday should be a big, fun, sexy deal. And it is, until the zombie exterminators find out that the creepers in their neck of the woods happen to be switching the game up a bit. They have a new nifty trick that keeps them from being readily recognizable. Something poor Poppy is unlucky enough to find out on her morning run. She goes from fantasizing about her birthday foursome with the boys, to running home to spread the bad news of mutation.
Her big day is suddenly full of machetes, a lady from the CDC and news of a new vaccine that might—or might not—work. Lucky for Poppy the boys won't let the new turn of events ruin her birthday, they still take her where she needs to go. Because all four of them know, every day could be your last. Sadly, Garrity, Cahill and Noah can't control what happens next. Things change, possibly forever, for their little group of exterminators. And over the next few days Poppy realizes a few things with perfect clarity: she loves Garrity, the thought of losing one of the boys terrifies her, and she's completely at a loss when it comes to one of her own being threatened. It seems to be the one area in which she can't pull off the bad ass persona.
What will she do, she wonders, if their perfect group of four suddenly becomes a group of three? How will she survive?
“Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday to you…Happy birthday, dear Poppy Cooper you stunning badass…happy birthday to you!” I wheezed to myself as I ran our back road that was nothing but dirt and gravel.
I was twenty-five today. I was running not so much from my birthday, but toward a new year. Or so I told myself. I had finally found a peaceful place in my life, so who was I to bitch about a change in the final digit of my age?
The Mizpah that Garrity had given me for Christmas banged against my chest under my baggy, stained tee. The tee was unattractive to say the least, but the very-vintage, white Old Navy shirt always made me feel peppy enough to run even when that pep was a big fat lie.
I reached up to stroke the sterling silver half- heart through the cotton. Then my hands, ever vigilant, reached around to check the machete that was hanging in a nifty little back sling. I blew out a big breath and concentrated on running at a good clip without falling down.
I was back to humming Happy Birthday, but more quietly. Feeling the Mizpah on my skin, I realized the jewelry was just a placeholder in Garrity’s mind. One day he’d present me with an engagement ring and expect to make an honest woman out of me. I wasn’t sure how I felt about that.
My foot slipped a little on gravel, and I turned my ankle just enough to sting but not enough to do any real damage. Still, I slowed my gait a bit.
“I’m more of the girl you have the wild fling with before you get married,” I confessed to myself because it was how I really felt, and there was no one here to judge me. “I’m the girl you bang senseless for a year or three before you go out and find the mother of your children.”
My throat closed up a little at my declaration.
“No maudlin birthdays, Cooper,” I reprimanded myself.
I started to run again, mostly to distract myself. Tonight there would be presents and cake and—I shivered here—possibly the four of us would do the nasty. Now that I had gotten past the guilt I’d felt at pulling Cahill into my long-anticipated three-way back in December, now…oh now, I wanted it to be all of us. I wanted Noah in my bed with the other boys even though he’d made it clear that he would be there for his man, Cahill. That was fine. I could do rules.
I saw the woman coming, and my heart stammered in my chest, doing that floppy fish tango that always makes me think I’m having a heart attack. Running through my mental quick checklist, I realized she seemed okay: pink flesh, eyes alert, pretty normal gait—normal for these uneven, uncertain gravel and dirt roads.
I raised a hand in acknowledgement.
She ignored me.
“Hunh. Maybe she’s shy,” I muttered under my breath, and I kept running. As long as she wasn’t a creeper, I could run past her without fear.
She was human—just rude.
I studied her some more under my slightly lowered lids as I ran. I was running faster than I’d realized because I was coming up on her faster than intended. Her skin was normal, her eyes were normal, her face seemed blank, but I’d met a few of those in my time. People who just mentally checked out and appeared vacant until you talked to them. So I talked to her.
I was about two feet from her when I said, “Hi, how ya doing?”
She sort of twitched, her eyes finding me, and when I was within touching distance, she grabbed my arm. Her skin was cold and kind of soft, and I felt it give as she pressed her fingers to my arm. Then I smelled her.
“Jesus pleesus, holy mother fuck,” I growled and grabbed her upper arm both to gain control and keep her from tugging me in.
Her arm came off in my hand, as easy as a chicken leg pulling free of a roasted bird at Sunday dinner.
I felt my stomach roll over and realized I was no longer running. I was standing stock still, clutching this woman’s arm. This perfectly normal-looking woman until…now.
She turned to me then, and I blinked, seeing the mottled flesh, the white-rimmed eyes, the gaping mouth, the hunger. I saw it all, and when she moved her face in toward me with that now-mechanically snapping jaw, I hit her with her arm. I clobbered her upside the head, and her dirty brown hair swayed. She made a moan-grunt-sigh sound, and I hit her again—hard.
Her arm fell apart in my hand, and I gagged. Sure, I’m an exterminator, but I’m still human. An arm coming apart in your hand is gross. I don’t care who you are.
“Bitch,” I grunted, trying to keep myself fired up. Angry keeps you alert. Scared gets you dead.
I stepped back from her—three giant mother-may-I sort of steps and yanked my machete free.
This time when she stepped toward me, I lopped off her head, stuck the tip of the machete in the front of her skull and split it like a ripe watermelon. Why? It was the kind thing to do. If I hadn’t punctured the brain, she’d just be a body-less head with some sort of murky awareness. To me, that is the very definition of hell.
I stared at her twitching body and her shattered head. The arm lay to the side of the road in some weeds. “Happy fucking birthday,” I said to myself and turned fast to run home.
Excerpt from WE KILL DEAD THINGS (Zombie Exterminators Book #1)
Buy Link: http://www.resplendencepublishing.com/m8/315-200-107-489-1--we-kill-dead-things-by-sommer-marsden.html
Also on Kindle, at ARe, Bookstrand etc.
Honestly, the whole thing is Noah’s fault. We were all doing our normal closing-time bitchfest in the food square at Parktowne Mall and not really paying attention, when the first creeper showed up. That’s what we call them—the zombies—creepers.
Anyway, the first one showed up, and I assumed it was just another stoner looking for a slushie. Nope. It took all of my college logic skills to finally realize the creeper was up to no good when it lunged over the counter at me.
Garrity—Chris to his enemies—the object of my not-so-secret lust, let out a yell and rushed out with the bat we keep behind the counter at Smash It, the slushy and juice shop we run. He hit the guy on the shoulder—intending to do no real damage—but the bat sort of sank in and then made a squishy noise.
“He reeks,” I’d yelled, or something equally brilliant.
Then Noah was running out of Mamma’s Pies pizza stand with a meat cleaver of all things. Which he promptly buried in the guy’s skull. Thank God he was carving up Italian beef at the time.
The creeper gave me a stunned look that almost made me feel bad for him and Noah gave the cleaver another little shove and something cracked deep in the dead guy’s skull.
The dead guy fell on me.
That had been the first creeper, and Noah had taken it out (being the only one smart enough to have the news on in his food court stall so he actually had news about the suddenly mobile undead). Garrity had to take out six more before we got the main doors locked. Nick Cahill—main man at The Beef Barn—found one making the moves on a side of beef in the walk-in. He took it out with an electric knife.
The night was pretty much what bizarre is made of, and when we found ourselves clustered on the merry-go-round drinking a good bottle of wine pilfered from the gourmet place, Noah made a joke.
“We should start a new business,” he laughed. He was a business major, after all. “Our slogan could be We Kill Dead Things.”
Excerpt from NO GUILT (Zombie Exterminators book #2)
Buy Link: http://www.resplendencepublishing.com/m8/323-201-107-489-2--no-guilt-zombie-exterminators-series-book-two-by-sommer-marsden.html
Also on Kindle, at ARe, Bookstrand etc.
“Don’t spook her,” Garrity said.
Noah was turning his big white van onto Topaz Lane, and I was trying really, really hard not to stare at Cahill. This was our first big job since moving from Maryland to Connecticut. Our first mission handed down and paid for by the county we lived in. Once we left our hometown after taking care of the Evoluminaries and their rabid leader William Tell (who had wanted to use me as a zombie baby mamma, thank you very much) we’d treated ourselves to a few weeks off.
Now the cupboard was bare, and we were itching to do something that did not involve loud music, alcohol and trading creeper war stories like old men at a veterans’ lunch.
“I won’t spook her. Why the hell would I spook her?” I snapped. Being fixated on Cahill’s offer wasn’t helping my mood. An offer of a threesome with him and Garrity—something that, yes, boys and girls, I have fantasized about more than once. It had come out of the blue after a drunken bucket-list conversation the four of us had had. Bam! In a moment of privacy, the offered was slammed down on the figurative table, and I couldn’t seem to stop poking at it. It was something I wanted, but it scared me.
I caught Cahill looking at me from the front seat where he rode shotgun to his lover Noah. I felt my face flush when I saw his cocky grin. Jeesh.
“Because you seem a bit on edge, Poppy,” Garrity said and leaned in. “Why are you so on edge, babe?”
It had taken forever and ever for me and Garrity to get together despite attraction and all that jazz. But my mother’s death and our last mission had sealed a bond that was a long time coming. So how would he feel about bringing handsome, tall Cahill in on the sex part of stuff? My brain wouldn’t let it go, but I swallowed hard and said “Don’t know. Maybe I’m rusty.”
“Nah. You’re good, girly. There’s nothing rusty about you,” he said and kissed me.
I turned my face fast—before I could analyze it—and kissed him on the lips. Part of me wanted to say those dreaded three words. I love you…part of me wanted to scream at even allowing myself to think it.
The van jumped and jittered on non-existent shocks and ripped me out of my reverie. “We’re here,” Noah said.
“Ready?” Cahill asked.
“No,” I said.
“Good.” Garrity patted my legs. “So let’s do this thing.”
We got out of the van and went to knock on Marylou Peterson’s front door.
I watched that instant—the instant that all couples seem to have—unfold. As Garrity was touching the small of my back, Cahill was touching Noah’s arm. That we-have-a-connection touch. Would Noah hate me forever if I took Cahill up on his offer? Would it ruin our friendship? Would it ruin the four of us and how we worked together? It was something I had to push out of my head as the front door swung inward. I had to focus on the complaints by the neighborhood and the county about a creeper that was loose that no one could seem to pinpoint. The last place it had been seen was Marylou’s house. I needed to focus on her.
“Hi, Marylou Peterson?” I spoke. The boys felt it better that I introduce us since I was relatively calm and a girl and there was a zombie apocalypse under way—or so the general population thought. “My name is Poppy Cooper, and we need to talk to you about a recent cree—” Garrity nudged me. Creeper was our own personal nickname for the undead. “Um…undead sighting on your property.”
“Who are you?”
“We’re county licensed freelance exterminators,” I said. Which was a fancy way of saying we kill dead things. We’re killers for hire.
“Oh,” she said in a small voice.
“May we come inside and speak with you?” Garrity asked, flipping a piece of nearly black hair out of his blue-blue eyes. He smiled. His boy next door shtick. Niiiiice.
“Sure. Come on,” she said and took a step back.
Funny. She seemed more scared of us than the idea of rogue zombies in her neck of the woods.
People were strange.
“It was on my property?” she asked. Her eyes were wide and frightened but off. Something wasn’t right, and I couldn’t figure out what. Maybe we’d interrupted her and her boyfriend or something.
I looked at the county’s paperwork. Connecticut was way more of a stickler for paperwork than Maryland had ever been. Go figure. “Two complaints of a lone male undead subject on your property,” I said. “But when someone is sent out to take care of the call, he’s gone. There is a note that the second complaint called was only partially sure it was a male subject. Have you seen anything?”
She shook her head. Her big brown eyes wide, her fingers twirling a piece of dyed-red hair so tight I feared the whole lock would pop right out of her scalp. “No. It’s just me and my brother here. I haven’t seen anything. My dad’s long gone—has been for years, my mom…” She shook her head and looked away.
Christ, I hated this part. I always felt like a heel. Like I was pouring salt in a wound, because I was. I had lost my mother to a creeper, I knew the pain of it. I also knew I’d been slightly luckier than most simply because my mother had been immune to the virus that was infecting all these undead. She didn’t rise. Most people had to deal with the loss and unwanted resurrection.
“I’m sorry,” I said. A few stupid words that could not possibly stem the flow of pain.
She nodded, cleared her throat. “My mother succumbed to the virus.”
“And your brother? Has he seen anything?”
“I’d have to ask him. Chuck’s not here right now, though,” she said, waving her hand around the kitchen. “But I’ll ask when I see him.”
“Can we look around your property? Maybe there’s something attracting this subject,” I said. When did I start talking like a zombie cop? I didn’t know.
“Sure,” she said and gave me another shrug. “You’re not going to find much. An overgrown yard, a shed, honeysuckle bushes and an old dog house. But go for it.”
“Thanks.” I nodded to her back kitchen door. “May we?”
Marylou stood and unlocked a series of locks on the door. Finally, she was able to pull it open. “I’ll be here when you’re done,” she said.
I eyed Garrity and his gaze flicked to the locks. Five of them by count and an old fashioned cheap battery operated alarm. It simply hung on the door knob, and if jostled it would sound an ear piercing alarm to let the occupants know someone had opened the door.
When we hit the wide planted, screened-in back porch, I whispered to him “Safety first.”
“Jesus, I’ll say.”
Cahill and Noah had already hit the property, walking the perimeter like two jungle hunters. I turned to face the house once I hit mid-yard. I stared up at the farmhouse windows that reminded me creepily of the eyes of the undead. They were there, they were open, but no one was home. The windows were uncovered, the sun bouncing off the upper panes of glass. I thought I saw something in the upper right, but then a crow flew overhead and it was gone. Probably a reflection.
The house to the right was for sale. The house to the left was buttoned up like a storm was coming. “We need to check next door,” I said to Garrity.
He grunted and checked out the shed. “Nothing but lawn stuff. Mower, hoes,” he laughed.
“Are you five?”
“Hoes,” he laughed again.
“Hey, flirt later!” Cahill called, and when I looked up, surprised, he winked at me.
It went right to my pussy, that wink. I shook my head, ashamed of myself. We were on a job. I could worry about my sex life later.
“Anyway, just some gas and lawn care stuff. Normal shed crap,” Garrity said and put an arm around me as he passed to show we’d just been teasing.
I kissed him on the cheek, and he looked surprised. It was my penance for dirty thoughts about Cahill. Now how did I make amends with Noah? I had no idea.
Not that Noah was even paying attention. Or seemed to care. Maybe he didn’t know about…
“Hello?” Garrity rapped softly on my forehead with his knuckles.
“Sorry. Spacey. What did you say?”
“I said we need to talk to that brother. But first we’ll go next door.” He cocked his thumb at the battened-down house. “My guess is at least one of the complaint calls came from there.”
“Well, someone call fucking Guinness. Or the church. Because that’s a miracle.” Noah brushed his surfer boy hair out of the way and holstered his gun. We were all armed to the teeth but trying to appear like we were just checking to see what was what.
It was nice to keep everything tucked away and hidden until we had an actual creeper spotting. On the other hand, we had to have it all so we weren’t caught off guard and didn’t become lunch for some dead things.
“Seriously,” Cahill said and put a possessive hand on Noah.
It made me hot all over to see those two touch, and it instantly brought to mind the times I’d accidentally seen them together. It was easy to imagine Noah sucking off Cahill. And it was never hard for me to call up the image of Cahill plunging into pretty Noah. Holding his slim hips and pushing his cock deep inside. But it had totally been accidental, me seeing them. Okay, the first time had been an accident. The other times had been luck.
“We’ll cut through the bushes to speak to the neighbor. When we come back here we can use the back door and talk to Marylou.”
“She’s edgy with a capital fidgety,” Noah said.
“I know. But imagine that you’re a young woman living with just your brother, and he’s not here. Maybe she’s alone a lot. Her mom died.” I felt a twinge in my gut when they all looked sad for me, and I shook my head. “Don’t do that. Don’t pity me,” I snapped, and they all fixed their faces into masks of indifference.
I cleared my throat, coughing away the ball of emotion that had lodged there. “And she doesn’t have dad to speak of. That’s gotta be hard. And then we show up—our ragtag team of killers…I gotta say, boys, I’d be a little edgy too, I think.”
Garrity sighed. “You have a point. Lucky you, you have us.” He smacked my ass hard, and I gaped at him.
“Come on,” Noah said to Cahill, and led the way. “Let’s go talk to the neighbor before they do something like fuck in the bushes.”
It was Cahill who turned and waggled his eyebrows at me. Jesus. This was getting sticky fast.