Word count: 60K
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
Sixteen-year-old Jill has been disguised as a zombie since second grade. It’s the only way she can stay with her family, since mixed living/zombie households are not accepted in her community. Even decades after the zombie apocalypse – and the coexistence made possible when “brainchow for zombies” replaced fresh brains -- “zits” (zombies) and “pumpers” (living) don’t mix.
Keeping her secret while growing up in an all-zombie neighborhood hasn’t been easy, but things get tougher when Jill transfers into a new high school. It’s integrated, one of three schools bringing together zombie and living kids and an important test for equal rights. There's new hope for a world where zombies are not routinely oppressed and where Jill can be herself and still stay with her family.
Unfortunately, Jill finds, though undead and living kids are in some of the same classes, they don't sit together. And each day, a new restriction is put on the zombies. The atmosphere is tense and growing more so.
The one bright spot for the school is the integrated football team. If she can form a cheerleading squad that includes both zombies and the living, Jill hopes it will be a catalyst for tolerance and lead to more equality before things get dire.
That means stepping out of the shadows and increasing the chance she'll be exposed. If that happens, she knows it could trigger a riot and the failure of the integration experiment. And she is likely to be pulled away from the family she loves. Keeping her secret is harder than she imagined when she is so close to the music of the living, the food they eat, and, of course, her first interactions with living boys her own age – including Dave, the football team’s quarterback, who has athletic grace no zombie boy can match.
Every success makes Jill more conspicuous, raising the chance she’ll be torn away from her family and they will become outcasts. And her biggest challenge is her longing to be herself, a living girl.
Jill sat on the edge of her bed and fingered the tray of zombie prosthetics. A gouged cheek. Part of a lip. The shoulder scar she’d hated since fifth grade.
She snatched up the ragged nose and placed it in front of her own small nose. She looked in the mirror. Most of one nostril had been torn free. She should have known. Each year, her disguise showed more decay, pacing her mom’s decomposition.
“I’m not wearing this,” she told her mom. “Not on the first day of junior year.” Not when living boys were there to gawk at her.
She dropped the nose back onto the tray. Her mother shambled over and aimed her good eye at her. “Then you’ll have to stay home. We’re all zombies in this family.”
“I’ll wear last year’s nose, okay?” That was fair. If her mom wanted more rot to show, she could do it with make-up.
“I recycled it.”
Jill scowled. This was the price of her secret. She strode over to the makeup chair, but hesitated.
“I’ve still got the old molds,” her mom said. “I’ll make a replacement nose. It’ll be ready in three days.”
Three days was a lifetime. She hadn’t seen Betsy all summer. Worse, she’d have to wait to meet the living boys she’d been dreaming about.
Jill threw herself into the chair, slumped, and folded her arms. Her mother went right to work, her hands practiced at turning her daughter into a zombie.
Entry Nickname: My Monster Twin is Rotting
Title: A Savage Miscreation
Word count: 86,000
Genre: YA Gothic Horror
When Talmage True was born, people said it was a mercy that his mother died for the child’s razor-sharp teeth would have torn her apart. He was born with a full set.
Now fifteen, Talmage hides his misshapen face from those who condemn him for being unnatural. But a chance meeting with his estranged uncle, a curiosity peddler hawking the medically grotesque, brings Talmage a spark of hope. For the first time, Talmage feels a kinship with the bizarre creatures on display--the eight-legged taxidermied kitten and the dog whose body ends in a shell. After all, Talmage, too, is an aberration.
Talmage is drawn into his uncle’s dark world and together they create a clockwork figure in his exact likeness--a mechanical boy made of metal, covered in the flesh of stolen corpses. Late one night, the figure comes to life and Talmage--who has never had a friend before--welcomes it as a brother. But the world is no place for a clockwork boy especially when its body starts to rust and rot. Desperate to stay alive, it turns to murder to harvest fresh body parts. When it sets its sights on Alice, a girl scarred by fire who sees beyond Talmage’s monstrous appearance, Talmage must decide: dismantle his clockwork brother or watch it kill the only person who has ever shown him kindness.
I always supposed it would be difficult to kill someone you love. More than difficult. It would be impossible, a gut-wrenching, mind-numbing horror that, if achieved, would haunt your soul forever.
It has haunted me every single waking moment of my wretched life.
You see, I did.
But if I had the opportunity, I would do it again. I would tear his body limb from limb, extracting bone from delicate socket and shattering them into a thousand pieces. From those shards, I would grind what was left of him into powder and then bury it miles apart so that there would be no chance his body could ever come together again.
If only I had.
His chest weighed against the curve of my back, his breath rasping into my ear. Gripping one arm, I dragged him down the rickety stairs, his bare feet knocking against the planks. Outside, amorphous shadows clawed at the edges of the cobblestone street--only the moon would be witness to my heinous act tonight--and so, without looking back, we slipped into the trees.
He was not awake and yet his lips began to murmur. I must move quickly but how to do it? How to kill? A swift stone to the temple? His skull was too thick. Saw his head off his shoulders? The spinal column too wiry. A blade, then, through the center of his heart?
“But he has no heart,” I whispered into the night.
A fire then, the thought suddenly dawned. Yes, a fire would do.