UNDEAD MUCH? by Stacey Jay

Dear Roz,

I never ever EVER thought I'd be asking myself--let alone a complete stranger--a question like this, but...what do you do when you're not quite sure The One is The One, anymore? I'm crazy about my boyfriend, but there's this other guy...he's really nice and funny and I feel like I can be myself around him in a way I can't always be with my boyfriend.

The only problem is, he's dead. Not dead dead--he looks as living as the next person and way more living than any zombie I've ever seen--but he's not. He's Unsettled and could go back to his grave any minute.

And the only OTHER problem is that I love my boyfriend and don't understand why I'm having more-than-friendly feelings for someone else!

And the only other OTHER problem is that I'm super busy dealing with black magic and the flesh-hungry variety of zombies and really don't have time for all this love-related stress.

Can you help?

She Who Can Not Be Named

Dear She Who Can Not Be Named (“Dear She” didn’t sound right),

Your problems are out of the ordinary, too. Scary even! Can we trade?

Seriously, I could handle the black magic part. Dabbling in online ouija and the occasional voodoo-type revenge scenario comes naturally to me. But I draw the line at combating flesh hungry zombies. They always go for someone like me—the girl with a little meat on her bones.

Seriously, seriously, love is great and all. Still, I believe you’ll be happier with someone you can act yourself around. Did you know that a person can die from suppressing their true nature?

Not really. But you may develop several unattractive nervous mannerisms in the process. I’d take my chances with the half-dead guy.


Letter provided by Stacey Jay, the talented author of the hilarious UNDEAD MUCH?, the second book in her trilogy that started with YOU ARE SO UNDEAD TO ME and ended with MY SO-CALLED DEATH. It has romance, it has gore, it has everything you could want in a YA horror/romance spoof. Check out her cool cover below!

More about UNDEAD MUCH:

Even Zombie Settlers with Super Hot Boyfriends get the Blues...

A few months ago I was a normal girl with a normal life. But that was before my power to Settle the Undead returned and someone tried to kill me with zombies.

Now I work magic and practice kicking butt while trying to find time for pom squad and my boyfriend, Ethan, and trying NOT to think about how freaky my life has become. It can be tough. Still…things could be worse…

Oh yeah, right:
1. Feral new super-strong zombies. Check.
2. Undead psychic hottie predicting a zombie apocolypse. Check.
3. Earth-shattering secrets that could land me in Settler prison for life. Check.
4. Cheerleader vs. pom squad turf war threatening the end of the half time as we know it. Check.

I’m going to need therapy (and a cookie) if I live through the week. Unfortunately I’m learning that’s not something Zombie Queens can take for granted.

More about Stacey Jay:

Stacey Jay is a workaholic with three pen names, and a sick sense of humor. She loves creepies, crawlies, and of course, romance. What would a zombie novel--or any novel--be without kisses that make your toes tingle?

Stacey has been a full time writer since 2005 and can't think of anything she'd rather be doing. Her former careers include theatre performer, professional dancer, poorly paid C-movie actress, bartender, and waiter.

You can buy Stacey's book here.

A Match Made in High School by Kristin Walker

Dear Roz,

Lots of my friends have parents who are divorced, which is awful, but I seem to have the opposite problem. My parents act like they're in a perpetual state of puppy love and they have no concept of modesty when it comes to PDAs. They'll kiss at the grocery store or nuzzle each other at the movies. My dad even groped my mom right at the dinner table. Can you believe that? Needless to say, I lost my appetite. Frankly, I'm surprised I didn't yak all over the table. Now I'm not saying that parental PDAs are nearly as bad as your parents getting divorced, but it's totally embarrassing nonetheless. And gross. So how should I deal with it?

Puking from Parental PDAs

Dear Puking,

Sure parental-PDAs are nowhere near a divorce-level catastrophe, but I don’t discriminate against little problems. Besides, almost losing your dinner all over the table constitutes a semi-emergency.

You could take a picture while they’re kissing. And threaten to post it on your blog. Sadly, they might actually like that.

Have you considered a spray bottle full of water? I’ve used one to train my cat not to jump up on the kitchen counter while I cook.

A shock collar might be a little extreme, though.

And there’s always talking. “Hey mom, hey dad. I understand you love each other, and I’m grateful for that, but could you please do that in your room? And close the door behind you.”

Unfortunately, we can’t choose our parents. Shakespeare said, Being born is like being kidnapped. And then sold into slavery.

I hope you turn eighteen soon!


Letter courtesy of Kristin Walker, author of the hilarious and heartfelt YA novel, A MATCH MADE IN HIGH SCHOOL. I love, love, love this book!

About A Match Made in High School
When a mandatory marriage education course forces Fiona to “try the knot” with super-jock Todd Harding, she’s convinced life could not possibly get any worse. Until moments later, when her long-time crush is paired with her arch-enemy (otherwise known as Todd’s obscenely hot, slightly sadistic girlfriend). But that’s nothing compared to her best friend’s fate – a year with the very shy, very goofy, very big Johnny Mercer.

A series of hilarious pranks and misunderstandings leave Fiona wondering: is there something her supposed “best friend” hasn’t told her? Could there be more to Johnny Mercer than a deep voice and an awesome music collection? And perhaps most intriguing of all, is it possible that Todd Harding could actually have a heart – and a brain – beneath his pretty-boy exterior?

About Kristin Walker
Kristin Walker grew up roaming the Pennsylvania countryside. She finally landed at Penn State, where she earned a BA in Theatre Arts. In addition to being actor, Kristin was many things on her way to becoming an author, such as a lifeguard, a nanny, a beginning ballroom dance instructor, a library circulation clerk, and very nearly a nurse. A Match Made in High School (Razorbill/Penguin Group) is her first novel. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Ladybug, Wee Ones, and two Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Kristin lives in a Chicago suburb with her husband and three sons.


The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Dress

Dear Roz,

Brace yourself because this one is a doozey. See, my dad is kind of (well, more than kind of—he is) the devil. Yep. That’s right. Lucifer himself. But that’s not even the worst part. The worst part is that I inherited his powers, and I can’t control them. They tend to go off at the worst possible moments. Like when the cutest guy in the whole school was about to kiss me.

So I’ve been avoiding this guy. A-because I don’t want him to know my secret. He’ll think I’m a mega freak. B-I don’t want my powers to go off again.

But now he thinks I’m not interested in him. And the school dance is coming up! How do I avoid him and still get him to ask me to be his date at same time?


The Daughter of the Devil

Dear Devilish Daughter,

My dad sometimes annoys me because he has a tendency to wear under-sized shirts with over-aged rock stars on them. And cooked Mad-Cow-Disease loaf for dinner after I became a vegetarian. But your dad is the devil himself? That must be crazy.

Can we trade?

I mean, he must give you awesome birthday presents.

Seriously, this kissing problem sounds severe, though. I’d love to have secret powers, but not if they interfered with my love life. Boys can be soooo picky about the freak thing.

Try calling, texting, and IMing your love interest before the dance. That way he’ll know you still like him. But don’t overdo it. Sixty texts a day kind of freaks the guys out.

The thing is, your guy will want to kiss you at the dance. If you make it to that point, can you think about something totally different when that happens? Something like the amazing differences between parabolas and ellipses?

The course of true love never did run smooth, especially when your dad is the devil himself.

Good luck!


P.S. I’m dying to know what happened when your guy kissed you. Did his eyebrows catch on fire? Did something explode? Did a cow suddenly appear in the room? What?

Letter courtesy of Shani Petroff, author of THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY DRESS (Book 2 of her Bedeviled series). For more information about Shani and her books, visit her website.

I totally laughed aloud reading the first book of Shani's series, DADDY'S LITTLE ANGEL. Here's the cover of book 2.

I can't wait to read it just to find out what happened when she kissed her boyfriend!

Note: To read more ASK MY SISTER--advice for those who dare letters, go here.


Do what others say you cannot do

My dad's birthday is coming up. So today I sent him a package with a giant wrought iron spider, a hand-made card, and a fortune that read: There is great pleasure in doing what others say you cannot do.

A long time ago, my dad was working on the interior our sailboat, Gaucho. Some people came along the dock and started talking, not realizing he could overhear them. One said, "That boat will never sail again."

Which made my dad see red. And become more determined than ever. He went on the restore the Gaucho. And sail the world in it with his two daughters for five years.

I share this story for one simple reason. If you have a dream, any dream, but you don't dare pursue it because someone tells you it's impossible ... don't listen! Go for it. Prove that person wrong, instead.

Stupid Cupid gives advice!

Rhonda Stapleton is the most excellent author of the new YA novel STUPID CUPID. Don't you love the cover?

 Stupid Cupid gives good advice, despite her name. Here's a sample:

Dear Stupid Cupid,
You wouldn't believe the size of my problem. I have the hots for this boy who's so beautiful it hurts to look at him. But he's my sister's boyfriend. Except I saw him first. Yelling dibs doesn't work when you're sixteen, I guess.

He kind of notices me and kind of ignores me, at the same time. Sadly, the other boy--the one crushing on *me*-
-has forgotten how to talk. He might have nice eyes. It's hard to tell because his bangs cover them.

And then there's this girl that's all waify and mysterious. She seems to like me. Like like. And maybe I like like her back. Just a little.

Tell me what to do!

Dear Roz,
Wow. What a pickle you've got yourself in! But my boss always tells me that's how love is--it's messy and crazy and worth all the fuss.
Here are my thoughts. As far as the hottie, I hate to say this, but friends have to come first...and that includes your sister. I know it sucks when you feel so strongly about someone, but trust me--no guy is worth ruining your friendship or sisterhood over. That's something my best friends and I have vowed never to do.
As far as the nice-eyed quiet guy, I'd recommend you study him closely. Maybe follow him around, or probe his friends (er, so to speak, haha) for answers about him. What's he into? Are you into any of the same things? Maybe those can serve as launching pads for convos with him. I recommend being careful if you follow him around--getting busted for that kind of thing sucks and is suuuuper embarrassing. Um, not that I'm speaking from experience or anything.
Aaaanyway, onto the girl--do the same thing! Love doesn't have boundaries, yanno? When it hits ya, it hits. So take some time to try to break through that mysterioso personality and see who she is on the inside. Maybe she's awesome. Maybe she'd be great to date--or just have a friend. But you won't know unless you try.
Sounds like you have some great options available for you. GOOD LUCK, and I'll be watching you closely! *wink*
Stupid Cupid

About Stupid Cupid
Felicity Walker believes in true love. That’s why she applies for a gig at the matchmaking company Cupid’s Hollow. But when Felicity gets the job, she learns that she isn’t just a matchmaker…she’s a cupid! (There’s more than one of them, you know.)

Armed with a hot pink, tricked-out PDA infused with the latest in cupid magic (love arrows shot through email), Felicity works to meet her quota of successful matches. But when she bends the rules of cupidity by matching her best friend Maya with three different boys at once, disaster strikes. Felicity needs to come up with a plan to set it all right, pronto, before she gets fired…and before Maya ends up with her heart split in three.

About Rhonda Stapleton
Rhonda Stapleton started writing a few years ago to appease the voices in her head. She has a Master’s degree in English and a Bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing. Rhonda works as an editor for a legal publishing company and enjoys offering editing workshops. Rhonda lives in Northeast Ohio with her lovely, energetic family, who are more than enough to keep her busy when she’s not writing.

In the twelve minutes of free time she has each day, Rhonda enjoys reading, photography, writing poetry, singing in the shower (and in the car, at work, or basically anywhere that provides oxygen), drinking chai tea, and playing on the Internet.

For more info visit Rhonda's awesome website

Or you can buy her book here


Libraries and me

I have a confession. Sometimes I cruise library websites to see if my book is checked out, and then I imagine the person who is reading it. A trip to the library is like going to a candy store for me. Or even better–Harrods in London. I always come home feeling richer and full of anticipation.

And now I know someone who checked out my book from her library in Indianapolis–the incomparable 2009 Debutante Saundra Mitchell. And she sent me a pic!

If you haven’t read Saundra’s book yet you're in for a treat. SHADOWED SUMMER is a delicious ghost story with romance, friendship, and family secrets rolled into one. If your local library doesn’t have it, be sure to request it.

Struts and Frets is awesome!

I just got a copy of STRUTS AND FRETS. And I'm SO into it. It's funny, poignant, and a fascinating glimpse of the indie music scene. Author Jon Skovron provided the ASK MY SISTER letter below. Read on for a little taste of his fun writing style.

Dear Roz,

You're a girl after my own heart, so I'm just gonna lay it on the line for you. There's this guy that I've had a major crush on for forever, but we've been best friends for so long that I don't even think he consider me a girl anymore. I'm worried that if I tell him, he's going to be totally grossed out and then it's going to screw up our friendship.

Plus, he's really into this snotty, rich girl who, I kid you not, looks like she just stepped out of Twlight, or True Blood, or one of those other sexy goth shows. Not that she would give him the time of day. She's way to shallow to ever appreciate him or his talent. But every time he starts mooning over her, I want to punch him in the mouth.

So what do you think? Should I:
a.) tell him
b.) punch him in the mouth
c.) punch her in the mouth
d.) all of the above


Dear Fiver,

Rule number one. There is no point trying to understand boys (or girls for that matter). When it comes love, they’re incomprehensible. Rule number two. I’m all for punching people who are annoying or oblivious. But it rarely works out well.

Eva would tell you to talk to him. Talking can be a good thing. In my experience, though, it doesn’t always work out. The last time I told a boy how I felt, he kept his girlfriend and tried to have me on the side. Of course, your crush might be nobler than my crush. Nah. I doubt it.

Have you tried more subtle hints—dressing girly when he’s around? Doing something special with your hair? You can mention some guy that’s interested in you. Jealousy is an excellent motivator. Just don’t go overboard. You don’t want to end up like poor Desdemona in Othello. Slain.

Good luck!

About Struts & Frets

More than anything, Sammy wants to play guitar in a famous indie rock band. The problem is that his front man is a jerk who can't sing, his bassist is a burn-out who can't remember the songs, and his drummer is just out to lunch. But Sammy needs this band because it's the only good thing he's got going. His father skipped out before he was born, his mother is an overworked therapist with a drinking problem, his grandfather is slowly losing his mind to Alzheimer's, and the girl of his dreams is dating his jerk lead singer.

Now that jerk lead singer has entered them in a Battle of the Bands contest to win free studio time and guaranteed radio play. Sammy has two weeks to get them to sound like a real band, or face public humiliation in front of the entire local indie music scene.

About Jon Skovron

Jon Skovron is an insatiable music geek who can play eight instruments, but none of them well. He was born in Columbus, Ohio, has lived all over the US, and now resides with his wife and two sons in Washington, DC. His short stories and reviews have appeared in publications like Jim Baen's Universe and Internet Review of Science Fiction. Struts and Frets is his first novel.

Learn more about Jon at his website

He's on IndieBounds Indie's Next list. You can buy his book

Remembering Matthew Shepard

Online reviewers have called My Invented Life a lot of things.


Charming–Lauren’s Crammed Shelf

Witty and Satisfying–Library Lounge Lizard

These words are all very gratifying. I’m always happy when someone gets my sense of humor I’ve also gotten comments about how I address the issue of sexual orientation in my novel. One blogger in particular, Anna of Book Nerds, mentioned she was glad I’d included Matthew Shepard in my story.

Matthew Shepard was a college student in Laramie Wyoming. One night at a bar, two teen-aged boys offered him a ride. Instead of taking him home, though, they tied him to a fence in a remote location, beat him, and left him there. All because he was gay. The next day a jogger found Matthew and got him to a hospital. He died later from the injuries.

I had heard Matthew Shepard ’s story before writing My Invented Life. But as I wrote, I learned more about him and read the Laramie Project, a play based on the events surrounding his death and the trial afterwards. The play moved me deeply. So I included Matthew in my novel as part of Roz’s personal awakening.

After languishing for twelve years, last month the Matthew Shepard Act was passed by Congress and signed into law. For the first time in history, LGBT people are protected from violence under hate crime law. Read more about it here.