October 24 2013

Hughes, Jill Elaine: Zombie, Incorporated, The Katie Allred Zombie Series

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Blurb:
“Newcomer Jill Elaine Hughes raises a fresh new voice in the zombie genre with a story filled with plenty of action, well-rounded characters and lots of shocks. Fun, fast-paced and highly entertaining. ZOMBIE, INCORPORATED rocks!”
–Jonathan Maberry, New York Times bestselling author of FIRE & ASH and CODE ZERO

Twilight. With zombies.

Eighteen-year-old Katie Allred is socially awkward and unpopular at school. The only child of parents who had her right out of high school, Katie is herself about to leave the nest, even though she hardly feels ready.

Katie’s new after-school job at the Zimble Box Corporation draws her into the complex social strata of high school cliques and backstabbing friends in ways she never imagined. Katie soon discovers there’s something very strange about the “in” crowd at school—and about her employer, too. Shortly after starting her new job, the Contagion breaks out, plunging her town and the entire nation into chaos as zombie shadow forces come out into the open, ravaging the streets. Katie goes into hiding and her parents disappear, along with almost everyone else she knows.

But Katie soon discovers she has special powers that help her survive. She’s a Beacon, someone with the innate ability to help zombies produce children. It’s a power her employer — and what little remains of the U.S. government — both want to exploit for their own ends. Not only that, it runs in her family—which has a secret past Katie never knew about until now.

Enter Agent Morehouse of the FBI Special Zombie Control Unit. A reformed zombie working undercover, he suppresses his urge to eat human flesh in order to serve
and save humanity. But Agent Morehouse can’t help but be attracted to a Beacon like Katie, and she to him. Even as they fight zombies the world over, they must fight their intense attraction to each other, hoping to keep Katie from suffering Agent Morehouse’s terrible zombie fate.

Books 6 for Patricia

Excerpt:

I guess if I really thought hard about it, Mom was right.  The zombie apocalypse was my fault.  Everything was my fault.  I’d ruined her life, and now she wanted me out of it. All the mean underhanded comments over the years, all the passive-aggressive decisions to spend money on herself instead of me, their decision not to plan for my future, all the not-so-subtle hints to get the hell out of her house and become somebody else’s problem—-it all made perfect sense now.

I could take a hint.  I knew where I wasn’t wanted.  And somehow I figured I’d have a better chance of surviving the coming onslaught of the Undead if I was on my own.  Conventional wisdom says there’s safety in numbers, but I’d watched enough horror movies to know that sometimes it’s best to fly solo.

I went to the bookcase and dragged over a milk crate to stand on so I could reach the top shelf. I reached behind the main part of the bookcase to the secret
compartment I knew was behind it, the same secret compartment where I’d hidden candy and comic books as part of a treasure hunt game I’d used to play alone as a little girl.  My fingertips felt around until they touched the smooth, cold gunmetal.  I wrapped my fingers around the pistol, pulled it out, inspected
it.  It was a lot heavier than I’d expected, yet it still seemed small, too small to be something that could explode and kill someone—-or something—-in less than a second. The lines of Dad’s semiautomatic Glock were sleek, almost animal-like in their curvature. I didn’t know what I was doing, but on sheer instinct my finger pressed a tiny switch on the spine of the weapon and the chamber popped open, revealing a bullet.  I popped the chamber closed, pressed another switch and the clip fell out into my hand.  I inspected that, studied it, worked out in my head how its various components connected with various components inside the gun which, when the trigger was pulled, would result in a projectile issuing forth, then with a flick of my wrist pushed the clip back inside its slot, heard it click.
I knew next to nothing about guns or weaponry or ballistics, other than that I knew my father stored guns in the basement and I had always been forbidden to
touch them. But despite that lifetime of ignorance it seemed as if merely holding the weapon in my hand transferred all the knowledge I needed about how or why to use it directly to my brain. As if I had a natural (maybe even a supernatural) talent for it, or a gift as my grandmother would have said. I could see all the moving parts in my mind’s eye as if they’d been there all along.

I reached back into the secret compartment and felt around again until my fingertips touched dusty cardboard.  I grabbed and pulled and came out with a heavy box of magazine clips.  Three magazines, sixteen shells to a clip. I couldn’t do the arithmetic in my head, but I knew it was a lot of bullets.  A lot, but probably not enough.  I reached and grabbed and pulled once again, and retrieved two more boxes of magazines. Lots and lots of bullets now.  I hoped I’d never have to use them, but just to hold them in my hand felt like a good life insurance policy.

I stood and turned my newfound possessions over and over in my hands, studying the switches and gears, memorizing where the safety was and mentally practicing how to disengage and re-engage it. I read the instructions and warnings on the sides of the magazine boxes, noted how they said that semiautomatic-loading weapons were illegal in many states, and the manufacturer had no liability for any physical or legal consequences for any injury or death resulting from
improper (or proper? Since guns were for shooting, after all) use of its commercial products. I knew I was holding deadly force within the palm of my hands, and knew that should have scared me at least a little bit.

But it didn’t. It did the opposite.

Mom watched me do all of this without comment. I made a point not to meet her eyes for a while, instead keeping my gaze on the gun and the shell magazines. The basement air thickened between us. The ticking sound of the air conditioner as the blower switched on automatically on the other side of the wall seemed way too loud. We both waited for the other to speak, or at least meet a gaze. But neither of us did, and for far too long a time.

Finally, Mom broke the silence. “It’s been way more than ten minutes, and your father isn’t back yet. What do you want to do?”

“I don’t know.”

“I think you should go up there after him, Katie. Take the gun with you.”

I forced myself to meet Mom’s eyes.  I saw a lifetime of disappointment behind her tinted glasses and blue-black mascara.

“You’re in a real hurry to get rid of me, aren’t you Mom?” I asked. My tone was cold, deadpan.  I was through with all the bullshit.  I just wanted my mom to tell the truth about me for once.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Admit it. You’ve been trying to get rid of me for years.  Makes me wonder why you didn’t just get rid of me before I was born and saved yourself the trouble.”

All the color drained from Mom’s face.  “How dare you speak like that to me!”

“How dare you say straight to my face that you didn’t want me, that you never wanted me, and that I basically ruined your and Dad’s lives!” I shrieked. “Because that’s basically what you just said.”

Mom took off her glasses, pressed her palms flat against her eye sockets and choked down a sob.  “Katie, you’re reading way too much into this.  Your father and I—-we made a lot of sacrifices for you. Most people who became parents as young as we did would never have done even a tenth of what we’ve done for you. You should be grateful.  And I think it’s high time your father and I had some time to ourselves now that we gave up so much to raise you. Except—-“

“Except now you can’t. Because of the stupid zombies. Which I suppose are all my fault too, just like everything else is.”

Mom slumped down onto a stack of milk crates. “I never said that.”
“You didn’t have to.”

We stared each other down for a minute or two, Mom always keeping a nervous eye on the gun.  For a split second I actually considered shooting her with it, but dismissed the idea as insane.  Plenty of teens my age think they hate their mothers, but they really don’t. It’s just a phase all young women go through.  The more I thought about it though, I didn’t hate my mother.  I honestly didn’t feel anything for her.  I was as indifferent to her now as I was to a lump of coal.  And that was far worse that hate.  After all, in order to hate someone, you have to love them first.  I wasn’t sure I ever loved Mom, and in that moment I doubted my mom ever loved me either.  Sending me off to face the zombies and my almost-certain death just proved my theory.

“So now you want me to save you from the zombies at the risk of my own life, huh?” I said, fingering the barrel of the gun in my hand. “Sort of kills two birds
with one stone, doesn’t it?”
Mom’s face crumpled in horror. “I want you to go find your father!”

“Find him yourself.”

I turned on my heel and dashed up the creaky stairs, skipping the rotten ones at the bottom.  I was still missing one shoe.
I headed up to my room and packed a knapsack with one hand. Clothes, shoes, and random toiletries landed in the bag at random as I kept the gun, cocked and
ready to fire, out at an angle and sweeping the air, ready for whoever and whatever might appear.
Books 6 for Patricia

 
 
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October 22 2013

Hughes, Jill Elaine: Beauty Secrets

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Blurb Ditzle

CoverThe Great Recession. Reality TV. Luxury cosmetics. And a basset hound named Botox. What do all these things have in common?

They’re all essential story components in BEAUTY SECRETS, a sexy romantic comedy novel, written in a style best described as “Jennifer Weiner meets E. L. James.”

Amanda Brown is a high-flying cosmetics executive for Revina Corporation, the oldest and most venerable cosmetics company in America. She comes from a good “old money” family, she went to Swarthmore, and she lives in a beautiful penthouse apartment in NYC’s Meatpacking District. But she’s only successful on the surface—-like many New Yorkers, she’s also financially overextended. Her parents are dead, her trust fund is gone, and when the Great Recession hammers her company, like millions of people across America she suddenly finds her job hanging by a thread.

Enter George Watson, a hedge-fund manager and self-made man from the Midwest who swoops in from Indiana to rebuild Revina Corporation from the ground up. Even if he fired everyone else at the company, he decides to keep Amanda on for her expertise. The two of them are from different worlds, and they can’t stand each other. But that doesn’t stop them from having wild no-holds-barred sex on their first meeting—-for reasons neither of them fully understand.

But this is no ordinary corporate takeover, and the unlikely romance between George and Amanda is no ordinary love story. It involves corporate greed, undercover investigative reporters, a sleazy reality TV producer who puts George and Amanda’s sexual relationship on national television, dark family secrets—-and a dog named Botox.

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EXCERPT:

Amanda took a brief tour of the store. It had been so long since she’d done her own shopping — she even had her groceries delivered, not that she cooked very often — that the very act of trolling the aisles was a novelty. She walked up and down past racks of shampoo and conditioner (not her brand), bins of empty plastic spray bottles (what on earth were those for, anyway?) and the baby-formula section, finally ending up at a display of condoms next to the pharmacy counter.

Condoms?

Amanda stared at the rows of brightly colored packaging in wonder. She’d never considered the idea that people actually went into stores and bought condoms. All the men she had dated over the past several years produced them as if out of thin air when they were already naked in her bed. Her college sorority house had kept a jar of them in the communal bathroom, though she’d never taken any. Condoms were something that just seemed to appear when required, not something that you went out and purchased like batteries and pantyhose.

Her eyes scanned the racks, noticing that some of the selections on offer featured silhouettes of slender, naked couples in sensual embraces, while others had “special vibrating rings for extra fun.” There were even flavored lubricants and serums that promised to add “heat” and “wow factor.”

Wow factor?

Amanda closed her eyes and felt herself blush. What kind of place was this? She felt like she’d stumbled into some kind of X-rated store on the side of the interstate, not a respectable-if-low-end Duane Reed. How on earth was stuff like this sold out in the open? Shouldn’t it be locked behind a counter or something?

Still, she couldn’t help but be intrigued, even a little titillated. Amanda’s sex life was nil at the moment, not that she cared all that much. But one should always be prepared, right? You just never knew what might happen. She selected a magenta box of Trojans with Vibrating Ring For Extra Fun and a tube of Wow Factor. Then she walked straight to the pharmacy counter to pay for them, too embarrassed to be seen carrying the racy items around the store. Once they were safely tucked in a plain white paper bag (stapled shut, for extra privacy), she headed to the front of the store to conduct a little market research.

Books 2 for Patricia small copy

It is my pleasure to interview Jill Elaine Hughes, author of Beauty Secrets. Welcome to Room With Books.

What sparked your interest in becoming a romance writer?

I think it was because I always loved reading romance, from Jane Austen up to modern erotica. I’m always a sucker for a good love story.  Even if I already know how it will end, I love the wild ride!

What was the first romance novel you read that made an impression on you?

Probably Austen’s Pride & Prejudice, which I read in college.  I’d read scores of romances prior to that, both modern-day and from the literary canon, but that one really stuck with me and I always remember it.  I think it sets the bar for the whole genre. I’m also a sucker for Jane Eyre and anything by Jennifer Weiner.

Tell us 5 surprising things about yourself.

  1. I’m an Irish-Catholic who converted to Buddhism.  And I’m married to a Chinese guy who was born and raised Buddhist but converted to Catholicism. Weird, huh?
  2. I hate mashed potatoes.
  3. I’m dangerously allergic to bee stings.
  4. I have naturally curly hair.
  5. I’m a triathlete.

What is your writing environment?

I write full-time (I’m a freelance journalist as well as a novelist) and the entire third floor of my house is my writing studio.

One of your favorite quotes.

“If you got paid to write something, and you paid the light bill with the money, then I consider you talented.”—Stephen King

Who is your perfect hero? And why?

I like heroes who are strong and successful, yet mysterious.  I like them to have some kind of dark past that involves deep personal flaws that they have overcome at least somewhat, but still contribute some quirkiness to their character.  This is what intrigues readers and also keeps me engaged when writing.

Which authors have caught your interest lately? Why?

There are too many to name! Of late I’ve liked Avery Aster’s MANHATTANITES series with Ellora’s Cave, J.L. Mac’s WRECK ME series, anything by Sylvia Day, and of course EL James!

What type of book have you always wanted to write?

I have written almost 20 books, of many different types and subgenres, so there aren’t many types I haven’t written yet.  But I DO want to eventually write a New York Times bestseller!

Who are your dream dinner party guests? All authors! (and a little eye candy) 

EL James, Jane Austen, Jennifer Weiner, Sara Gruen, D.H. Lawrence, and Charlie Hunnam!

What’s the last movie you watched and loved?

Probably FLIGHT, with Denzel Washington.  Good film with a good message. Plus you get to see Denzel naked, so there’s that.

Most nerdy  in high school. (popular, nerdy, sporty…) Why?

I was senior class valedictorian.

Top three things on your bucket list.

  • Go to India.
  • Go to Ireland.
  • Go to Africa.

 

Books 2 for Patricia small copy

 

Flirting Questions

Which actor or book character do you have a crush on?

Hugh Jackman, Colin Firth, and Mr. Darcy.

What’s your favorite body part of the opposite sex?

Aside from the obvious (snark), eyes.

What does love feel like?

Knowing that you want to spend the rest of your life with that person.

Hey, baby! What’s your sign?

Aquarius

When was your last kiss?

This morning.

What’s an absolute no-no in a relationship?

Cheating, lying, and violence.

How did you meet your significant other?

We actually met online!

What’s your idea of a perfect date?

Dinner and a movie without the kids!

If you could take a romantic trip, where would it be?

I’ve traveled a lot already, but I’ve always wanted to spend a week in Hawaii. Preferably on Maui or Kauai, they are more secluded.

Do you believe in love at first sight?

Yes

Books 2 for Patricia small copy

 

Flirting Quickies:

Boxers or Briefs? Boxers

Facial hair or clean shaven? Stubble

Alpha or Beta?  Alpha

Planner or Panster? Panster

White wine or red? Red

Coffee or tea? Tea

Vanilla or chocolate? Vanilla

Sweet or salty? Both, at the same time!

Sleep in or get up early? Sleep in

Laptop or desktop?  laptop

Beach or mountains?  Mountains

Winter or summer? Winter

Cat or dog? Dog

Twilight or Fifty Shades? Definitely Fifty Shades!

Spotlight or In the Shadows?  Spotlight

City or Country? City

Clubbing or candlelight dinner? Candelight dinner

Backpacking or luxury hotel? Hotel

Morning or night person?  Night

Christmas or Halloween? Halloween

Optimist or pessimist? Optimist

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