If you’re like me, you’re looking forward to February 14 for the obvious reason: the mid-season premiere (WTF is that anyway, why were they on a mid-season hiatus!) of The Walking Dead. Wait… were you thinking Valentine’s Day? Yes, I do live the life of a glamourous romance writer, but since I’m single AF, most of the time that glamourous life resembles Joan Wilder from Romancing the Stone, but with an angry Chihuahua instead of a cat… So for me, I’ll be celebrating the day of chocolate, roses, and glittery hearts with, well, I hope some kick-ass killers of the undead. (Hmmm, perhaps this single AF thing is making more sense?)
I’m not only obsessed with TV zombies. I’m still tapping away at my lesbian zombie romance. The main character is just about to lead a small search party down a stairwell to find her roommate—who has left an ominous-sounding note and some boxes of ammunition behind. I’ve been trying to come up with all the awesome things that could happen on the stairwell—zombie granny, zombie rats, or just plain people with all their crazy-ass issues.
It occurs to me that one of the reasons why people love zombie stories so much is because the zombie genre allows us to face in brutally decisive terms some really tough reality. If done well, the zombie story isn’t just about the scary undead. Zombie stories evoke huge human issues–right to life, self-determination, obligations of power, trust, hope, coping. Just thinking about who “deserves” to live and be part of a society is pretty consuming stuff, and let me tell you, I’ve already made some painful decisions about my characters. (No spoilers here!)
Have you read any good zombie books? How about zombie stories with GLBTQ characters? If you try and search for “zombie” and “lesbian” let me tell you… the results are BAD. Worse than a single lesbian romance writer with an angry Chihuahua on Valentine’s Day bad.
If you’d rather think about love and squishy grown up stuff than undead things this Valentine’s Day, check out Don’t Be Shy. This multi-volume anthology published by Ylva Publishing received a Rainbow Award honorable mention and Volume I includes my erotic short story, Slammin’ Sunday.
Enjoy an excerpt from Slammin’ Sunday:
In college, I had a poetry instructor who fronted a band in the eighties that opened for hard-core metal acts. She was from North Dakota. Had run away at fourteen. Married at fifteen. Divorced at seventeen. At nineteen, after years of living in vans and singing in dives, she landed a deal with a small label. But road life never really paid the bills, and while she’d never intended to settle down, by forty, she had a job.
Trading in shredded jeans and midriff tees for pencil skirts and cashmere wraps, she accepted an assistant professorship at a land-grant state college. She paced the classroom as though it was her private greenroom, and she couldn’t wait for the show to start. I watched her closely, hoping to catch the moment when she stutter-stepped between the present and the past. I imagined her tossing down the syllabus, kicking off her shoes, and striding barefoot to the back of the class. In my mind, she turned the desks upside down, and screeched metal instead of spoken word poetry.
She taught us very little about poetry, believing that “writing is a gift of the soul which cannot be taught in workshops.” So instead of an academic analysis of verse and themes, Dennie—she preferred we call her by her first name—told us stories. She would sit on top of the desk, her eyes half closed as if the memories she fought were more real than the bodies and faces of the students in front of her. Her outstretched hands met loosely in front of her chest, as if reaching for a mic that was no longer there. Maybe not all of the undergrads in upper-division poetry spent the ninety-minute seminar fantasizing about her legs and her ass. But for an entire semester, while her words kaleidoscoped across our landlocked, windowless classroom I focused as much on the shape of her lips as her stories .
She didn’t just preach at us, though. She put us on the spot, believing in what she called “incidental genius.” A lot of students grumbled, but I never minded taking my turn. . Tingling after Dennie’s voice called my name, I felt as though she absolutely believed I could combine colors and textures and objects in a way that revealed my vulnerability, my fear, my hope. All in two minutes or less. I loved poetry, but my undeniable reactions to Dennie allowed me to embrace the growing awareness that I loved women.
… By the time I reached thirty, I still loved poetry, still loved women, but wasn’t much different than the student I’d been. Unfulfilled longing was my loveless partner. Bland people, tedious work, and uninspired meetings hadn’t been objectives on my resume, but poetry doesn’t pay back student loans. This creative writing student ended up in another nearly windowless building, working a corporate insurance job.
One afternoon, my boss asked if we could chat. He leaned his ass against my desk and moved so close I could smell the stink from his lunch on his breath. We discussed a problem with a bulk reserve for far longer than the issue deserved, and by the time he moved on to another victim, I literally needed some fresh air. I grabbed my key card and headed out for some coffee.
I wandered up to Café Q, an artsy little cafe that specialized in drip coffee, loose teas, and artisan pastries. Every table was taken, mostly by people in suits chatting on phones or tapping at laptops. Students sat on oversized floor pillows while a homeless guy pilfered napkins and honey packets from the self-serve bar.
I ordered a small decaf and checked the community board. A neon green flyer caught my attention. Slammin’Sundays. Café Q was pleased to host an inaugural Sunday morning poetry slam. All participating poets were given a free small beverage and would be entered into a drawing for a $50 Q’s gift card. Sunday mornings don’t have to suck… now they can slam!
Corny flyer, yes. But it had been a long time since I’d had a moment of “incidental genius,” or even just listened to a poet live. I folded the flyer in thirds and then in half again and slipped it into my wallet.
Countdown begins to Valentine’s Day, my friends. Have fun shopping for chocolate, heart-shaped odds and ends, and red and pink frillies. Me, my crossbow, and my Chihuahua will be ready…