Today’s Featured Author: M. Lauryl Lewis

Today I welcome horror author M. Lauryl Lewis to my blog. Here is an excerpt from her latest novel, Grace Lost.

Excerpt

I was able to hear Emilie moan in anger above over my own sobbing. Immediately after she cried out, I heard the sound of my revolver firing overhead. I felt my stomach drop, my skin went ice cold, and Susan began sobbing beside me. The flicker of intrusive thought in my head had been mercifully brief. Boggs stood and walked up the stairs slowly, leaving me and Susan to comfort each other.

“What was that?” she asked me, her voice full of fear and disgust.

“Louisa woke up,” was all I could choke out.

I knew the door upstairs opened because Emilie’s crying got louder. I could hear Boggs’ muffled talking, and I could hear when Gus broke down for the first time since I had met him. The sound of a grown man weeping is in itself a frightening and heart wrenching thing.

Gus’ expression of grief got louder for a brief period while he walked through the hall. I heard his bedroom door close and knew he had shut himself in the room as a way to cope.

“I have to go to Boggs and Emilie,” I whispered to Susan.

I stood, shakily.

“Don’t leave me alone?” she begged. Her face was a mess of tears and grief.

I held a hand out to her, and she took it. She stood and we walked the stairs together.

“Susan, go into my room and wait? I’ll be back soon.”

She nodded and let herself into the room I shared with Boggs. I hesitantly walked to the room where mother and baby had died and entered. The many candles that Emilie and Susan had lit earlier in the day still flickered. Boggs was standing at the foot of the bed, looking at the mother who in death still clung to her baby.

“Where’s Emilie?” I asked quietly.

He turned to me, his eyes threatening to spill tears of their own. “She’s with Gus. They’re a mess.”

“I sent Susan to our room,” I said.

Boggs nodded. “Louisa came back, Zoe. Gus had to…”

I interrupted to spare him from having to explain. “I heard. The baby?” I asked.

He shook his head. “It’s just been still. I told Gus I’d watch for a while, though.”

I noticed Boggs held my revolver in his right hand.

“Maybe it won’t happen,” I said, hopeful.

“Maybe not.”

They say a watched pot never boils, but talking about it makes it happen. It was then that I heard that faint tiny cry again, and felt the dead baby invade my mind.

Boggs looked at me for confirmation.

I nodded once. “It’s turned.”

He sighed. “What should we do?”

“I think a gun is overkill, pardon the pun,” I said through fresh tears.

“I’ll do it, Zoe. I’ll make it quick.”

“Please hurry, Boggs? Send him to be with his mom and dad?”

He nodded. I left the room and went to sit with Susan. I got to our doorway. I never heard anything, but knew it was over when the spark in my mind died. I hoped I’d never come to learn how Boggs had gone about it.

I took a deep breath, and walked into our room. Susan was sitting on the bed, her back resting on our headboard.

She looked up at me, her face illuminated by the glow of a single candle.

“It’s over,” I said. “They’re all together now. A family of three.”

“Can I stay in here tonight?” asked the other woman through her tears.

I nodded. “Of course.” I couldn’t send her to be alone downstairs or expect her to return to her room where the corpses of our friend and her baby remained.

I walked over to the bed and sat down beside her. “Why don’t you climb under the covers? Try to sleep.”

She nodded. “Ok.”

I tucked the woman in. “I need to use the bathroom for a little while, Susan. I’ll be back in a while.”

She nodded. “Zoe?”

“Hmm?”

“Thanks for being nice to me.”

I smiled at her, but didn’t put much effort into making it seem sincere.

I walked alone to the bathroom, where I intended to draw a hot bath and try to soak many layers of evil off of myself. I was filthy. I lit a large candle that we kept on the counter. I studied myself in the mirror. My clothes were mucky from our trek through the woods. I wasn’t sure if the blood smeared on my arm was from Louisa, the faceless little girl in pigtails, or something I wasn’t even aware of. Dirt was smeared on my face. I took my clothes off and piled them near the sink. I walked to the claw foot tub and started the water. Once it was warm, I put the stopper in the drain and climbed in. I sat upright and drew my legs up, curling into a ball. I cried openly, hoping the sound of the water running would drown out my sobs. I wanted to be alone. I ached from head to toe, inside and out. I was tired of living in a Hell on Earth and tired of losing friends. I was tired of being afraid day and night. The tub eventually filled and I shut the water off. I let myself slip under the water and hoped to soak my troubles away. I came up for air and let myself just lay there with my eyes closed.

 Book Blurb

NewGraceLostAfter a night spent at a run-down cabin in the woods, estranged friends Zoe and Boggs wake to find that the dead have risen. They flee, hoping to find safety, but instead find themselves surrounded by their worst nightmares. Joined by two other survivors, they will face unimaginable horrors and suffer unthinkable losses as the rules of nature are rewritten. They will soon realize that the living dead aren’t just the shambling, mindless creatures that legends portray.

Author Bio

81phpnCH6yL._UX250_M. Lauryl is a wife, mother, author, former registered nurse, and nature-lover. Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest of the US, her books take place from seashore to mountains, often in the areas she loves the most. Her biggest goals in writing are to create realistic (and flawed) characters and to make readers feel the emotions of her stories.

You may find out more about her on her website or follow her on Twitter or Facebook.

You can buy Grace Lost on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Kobo.

A Halloween short story…

Two years ago, my local newspaper issued a challenge to write a Halloween “story” on Twitter using only 128 characters. (Their designated hashtag took up the remaining 12 characters.) They published the top entries which included two of mine. So this Halloween, I decided to take one of the entries and expanded it into a 500-word short story.

The original tweet:

His fangs lock on the zombie’s neck. Growling, he thrashes his head as he saves me. Never walk in a graveyard without your dog.

The new short story:

It was a dark night. The moon hung high in the air as I took my evening walk. I had been pouring over the books for so long that I walk in the brisk air was just the thing to clear my head. Dexter, my Irish wolfhound, padded silently beside me. His ears twitched as he listened to the night sounds.

grave1My path took me by old village cemetery. It looked creepy enough in the daytime but now in the dim moonlight the bare branches looked like gnarled hands reaching down toward the graves. They shook slightly in the wind.

I smelled freshly turned earth which seemed odd since there had been no recent burials that I could recall. I stopped and surveyed the scene. It was then that I noticed the figure coming toward me. He walked with an unusual gait dragging one leg behind him as if it was heavier than the other.

Dexter gave off a low warning growl as the dirt on the nearest grave began to move. I stared in horror as a hand shot out from the ground. The dirt tumbled away as a figure arose from the grave. I took a step backwards, tripping over a large stick. As I scrambled to my feet, I grabbed it. Immediately, I liked the way it felt in my hand. I gave a practice swing like a batter warming up before the game.

When I looked back up, there were now three of them, one blocking my escape. Dexter sprang into action. His large paws hit the closest figure in the chest. The creature hit the ground hard. I caught a whiff of decaying flesh. The smell caused my stomach to lurch. I swallowed hard as I hefted my club over my shoulder. I swung with all my might at the closest figure. The creature grunted as the stick hit its chest. It reached out. A clammy hand brushed against my arm. Goose bumps prickled my skin. I swung my stick again, aiming higher. This time my aim was better. I hit the creature’s head with such force that it sailed through the air landing in the brush some distance away.

I turned my focus to the last creature, a mere three feet from me. Before I could move, Dexter bound forward, crashing into the figure. They landed on the ground. irish wolfhound grey dayDexter’s sharp teeth sank into its throat, his fangs locking onto it as if it was his favorite bone. Growling, he thrashed his head side to side, tearing the flesh.

“Good boy,” I whispered as my legs felt weak.

Dexter let go of the creature’s neck and lumbered over to me. He brushed up against my leg. My fingers curled into his rough fur. I patted the side of his body as I turned for home. As we trudged home, I remember my grandfather’s warning – never walk in a graveyard without your dog.

 

Today’s Featured Author: Stacy Kingsley

Joining me today is Stacy Kingsley, author of Zombies Are People Too!.

Interview 

Hello, Stacy. Tell us a bit about yourself.

stacyI’m a horror aficionado.  I watch and read all of the horror I can get my hands on.  In fact, I love horror so much when I got my Master’s Degree I wrote an entire thesis on the decline of horror in popular culture.  I’ve also acted as a zombie in a short independent film and I have done makeup for performances that involve zombies. I continue to read everything I get my hands on, being a lover of literature, and while horror is my preferred genre I read anything (except westerns, I just can’t get into westerns). I also watch anything….again except westerns….I don’t know what my problem is with westerns, maybe they just don’t have enough zombies.

 Please tell is about your current release.

Zombie coverMy current book is titled Zombies Are People Too!  It’s about 3 characters, Valerie, Robert and Marcus. Valerie is a nineteen-year-old who gets into a car accident and loses her best friend. In the search for her friend, Charlie, she finds that the world has changed.  Robert is a father with two children, Darius and Maxine.  After having gone through a difficult divorce he finally has his kids for a weekend, and in that time he learns how far he will go to protect them.  Marcus is the dark horse.  A serial killer with a taste for blood, Marcus finds he has a chance to become the master and the monster he always knew he could be. Zombies are real and they have a hunger for the living.

This is the first book in a series of four.  I’m currently editing Zombies Are People Too!  So I can re-release it and I’m in the process of editing the second book Zombies Bite!  I’m also writing the third book Zombie Wasteland.  The final book in the series is tentatively titled The Anti-Zombie Underground.

What inspired you to write this book?

Honestly, I came up with the title first.  I kept seeing things that said “Zombies were people” and I thought to myself that it wasn’t true. Just because someone dies it doesn’t make them any less human.  So the title Zombies Are People Too! came to me and I thought that it was perfect for a zombie book.  I also loved the tagline that I thought of to go with it…Zombies are people too because you are what you eat.  It is a humorous undertone to a semiserious book.  Plus at the time there were several other zombie books and movies that had started gaining popularity and it inspired me to try my hand at it.  I have to say writing about zombies is seriously fun, especially when there are so many possibilities with the characters.  I rule who lives and who dies, and who becomes a zombie!

Which of your characters is your favorite?  Do you dislike any of them?

My favorite character has become Maxine, Robert’s daughter.  The reason I enjoy her is because she has developed in the books as a possible villain or a possible hero, she hasn’t really decided what she wants to be yet.  She is at a crossroads.  I also really enjoy Marcus, but he is so hard to write because being a serial killer he is often dark and I often have to be in a dark place to write him.  He puts me in a dark mood for the rest of the day when I write his chapters.  I don’t dislike many of my characters and when I do I kill them off, so I can’t really name names right now.

What was the most difficult thing/scene to write in this story?

The most difficult thing to write is a death scene. I really don’t like killing most of my characters and when I feel bad for them I don’t want to do it anymore. For the first book one of the characters dies and I had to make a difficult decision on how to kill them or how gruesome to make it.  I felt bad for this character and their family. I also had to kill a character that didn’t have much of a part in the story, the reader doesn’t get to know him, but it was a difficult scene to write because I had to make it gory and bloody. Being a zombie book it is sometimes hard to write the scenes that involve the deaths of characters I enjoy and in the first book and every other book in this series I have had to kill at least one character I enjoy.

If you could jump in to any book and live in that world, which would it be?

This is a difficult question to answer because there are so many books that I enjoy, but there is a series that I enjoy by Jasper Fforde called the “Thursday Next” series and I have to say I would absolutely love to be in those books.  The books involve a detective that can enter books and all of the crimes she looks into are literary crimes. I would seriously love to be in that world; surrounded by actually literary characters from all of the books I love!  Who wouldn’t want that?

What book are you reading right now?

Since I am currently writing my third zombie book I usually read zombie novels, but I had to take a break so I am reading Merry Christmas, Alex Cross by James Patterson.  I am a Patterson fan and I pretty much grab the books as soon as they come back.  After this book I plan on going back to reading some more zombie novels.  I read them so I can keep up with the trends in the genre, which is constantly changing. 

What is the best thing about being a writer? The worst?

The best thing about being a writer is that I get to create worlds and people that others can enjoy. So many people have read my books and lived through the eyes of people they would never be and it’s exciting to know I am creating characters that people enjoy.  When someone walks up to you and says, “I can’t wait for your next book,” is one of the best days in a writer’s life.  The worst thing about being a writer is the assumption people has that you don’t really work. People don’t understand how much energy it takes to create not only people but also entire worlds! I don’t just sit around watching television all day eating bonbons, I am writing, editing, creating covers and when I am not doing all of that I am freaking out about life just like everyone else!

Do you outline your books or just start writing?

I’ve heard a lot of people say that outlining a book is the best way to write because then you won’t have mistakes in continuity or character development, but to be honest my characters would never let me outline their lives. I may create the characters and the worlds that they live in but I don’t control their actions or their development, I sometimes wish I did as people die and I end up saying to myself they weren’t meant to die. I tried outlining once, it worked for one day and then the characters rebelled, so I just take notes as I write so no one has a different eye color or name.

Tell us a random fact about you that we never would have guessed.

I am really a girly girl.  I love a good romance story, even though I live and breathe horror I love when a man finally tames that wild girl of his dreams. Although I also love when that wild girl kills that man…hahaha.

Connect with Stacy on her Facebook page or follow her on Twitter.

Zombies are People Too! can be purchased on Amazon.