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Review: The Zombie Billionaire’s Virgin Witch

SJ Collins of Raining Ink says:

WARNING: DO NOT READ WHILE HUNGRY…or do the smart thing and have snacks at the ready. This is a dangerous book for foodies!

The Zombie Billionaire’s Virgin Witch is my kind of fairy tale: fun, heart-wrenching, and sexy all at the same time! If there’s anyone  I know who can pull of a Zombie Romance, I had absolute faith Joely was that author. Joely Sue Burkhart’s books are passionate and rooted in the sacrificial nature of love, which makes for engaging and emotionally stimulated reading. Added with her unique ability to sprinkle light-heated humor, a healthy dallop of tantalizing sex scenes, fascinating characters and world building dynamics, it’s all apart of why she’s my go-to author for romance.

Thank you so much, SJ!

I’m still looking for reviewers.  If you’re willing and able to post a rating or review anywhere online, please drop me an email (joelysueburkhart AT gmail DOT com) and I’ll get you a review copy.

You can still enter the giveaway:  Make Me Write the Book – Part 1.

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Zombie Romance Giveaway

Why am I so fascinated with zombie romance?

The first time I explored the idea of “undead” romance was several years ago in now-defunct Drollerie Press’s chat.  We always had such a blast talking about all things horror, and we got to talking about how hilarious it would be if someone wrote a zombie romance.

I mean think about it.  If someone’s dead, how can you possibly work out a HEA?

The challenge of it fascinated me, and then Deena threw down the gauntlet.  She challenged me to write one.  I accepted.   :mrgreen: That story is still available for free (click on the thumbnail to download a pdf, or other formats are available at Smashwords).

So I guess Zombie Category Romance was only inevitable.  I love the idea of warping traditional tropes.  That’s why I take Regency tropes… and twist them into Jane Austen Soap Operas where ladies rule instead of the men.  Now I’m taking billionaire alphaholes and making them zombies.

But it’s not easy.  I mean, to make it romance, there has to be more romantic elements than horror elements.  So there has to be a REASON for the hero to be a zombie, and it can’t be too disgusting.  e.g. no rotting flesh hanging off the bones while he eats braiiiiiiins.

So how could I come up with a zombie hero that’s not disgusting? That’s where the magical elements come into play.  Instead of a zombie apocalypse caused by a virus, the hero is simply cursed.  It’s not a widespread disaster.  There’s no need to hole up in a farmhouse with every gun you can find.

In fact, most of the time Yiorgos looks perfectly fine.  Only a handful of people know what happens when he takes off the signet ring he won from Emile Remy along with his restaurant.  He wears the ring the entire time he’s with Clare, except for one time she tries to use her powers to help him, searching for a clue to the curse.

He even eats normal food, not brains.  Which is a very bad thing for him, because Clare is a kitchen witch and she makes one mean chocolate cake.

So I came up with a few cheesy tag lines that were more jokes than anything.  My favorite that I didn’t use:

Come for the braiiiins.  Stay for the romance.

*laughs*  I promise.  NO BRAINS!

Remember all procceds in 4th quarter 2012 from The Zombie Billionaire’s Virgin Witch will go to Rebuilding Joplin.

To celebrate my first zombie category romance release, I’m giving away a $25 gift card to any online book retailer (AMZ, B&N, etc.)  Simply comment on this post by Oct. 10th midnight (CST) and tell me your favorite zombie movie.  This giveaway is open to anyone on the planet, even if you’ve won something from me before.

And stay tuned – I intend to giveaway several more prizes this month as we get closer to Halloween!

Anyone willing to review or rate The Zombie Billionaire’s Virgin Witch – email me at joelysueburkhart AT gmail DOT com with your desired format, and I’ll send you a review copy.  Thank you!

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Preparing My Zombie Story

I’ve been working on final updates to The Zombie Billionaire’s Virgin Witch, including formatting and a blurb.  I’m on track to release next week!

If you beta-read this book for me, can you drop me a note so I’m sure to include you in the acknowledgements?  Sometimes I lose track book to book and I don’t want to forget anyone who might have read it back in Nov. 2011 when I first finished it.

Does this blurb make you want to read the book? (It’s too long, so I’ll be trimming…)

The Zombie Billionaire’s Virgin Witch
A Zombie Category Romance
Because even zombies deserve a happily ever after.

Rich, gorgeous and powerful, renowned world-wide restaurateur Yiorgos Michelopoulos has it all. Except for the Midwestern ma-and-pa diner that somehow keeps winning the coveted fifth star over his own top-notch restaurants. The stubborn owner refuses to sell and beats him year after year. Infuriated, Yiorgos accepts the man’s risky bet, never knowing the secret to Remy’s success. Until it’s too late.

When he slips on the ring he won along with the diner, Yiorgos activates a curse that begins to turn him into a zombie.  Only someone of Remy’s blood can lift the curse, but the man died soon after losing his restaurant.  Luckily, he did have one lone daughter. The plump, frumpy kitchen witch ought to be easy pickings for a playboy like Yiorgos Michelopoulos. But one taste of her Death By Chocolate cake might just be the death of him.

Devastated by the loss of her father, their family signet ring and their restaurant, Claire Remy’s only hope for supporting her mother is to earn a teaching spot at the Wizard Council’s Academy.  Without the family signet ring, she must retain her virginity or lose her power entirely.

Which makes the gorgeous Greek a very, very dangerous man.

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Halloween Free Read

Happy Halloween, everyone!  I thought people might enjoy a short, creepy free read today, so I worked on a secret project this weekend.

A word of warning:  I’m not a graphic artist like Dawn, Deena, Silvia, or Soleil.  So while I did purchase stock to make a cover, it’s not “art” or anything unique.  However, with My Beloved Sis’s help, I think I made something simple yet appropriately creepy.

This is my short story, “Broken Angel:  A Zombie Love Story”  previously published in Drollerie Press’s horror anthology, Things That Go Bump in the Night.  We were in a DP chat (back in 2007 or 2008) talking about zombies (like we always did!) and someone ::cough, Deena, cough:: challenged me to write a zombie romance.

I wouldn’t really call this “romance” but it is a love story and it definitely involves zombies.  I hope it makes you shiver delightfully this wonderful Halloween!

Click on the cover to dowload pdf.  I’ve also created epub and mobi for Kindle (although I haven’t tested the Kindle version yet – Littlest Monster ran off with my Kindle).

P.S. I might load this up to Smashwords and Amazon as practice for the Shanhasson books coming soon, so Broken Angel may not be available for free very long!

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My Greatest Weakness

…A Challenge.

Man, do I love a good challenge.

If someone tells me, “You can’t do that!”  then I immediately want to prove them wrong.  Or if someone says, “Hey, that’d be really cool – I wish someone would do that.”  I immediately want to be the first to pull it off.

Which is how I found myself writing my first “zombie romance” years ago.  (See “Broken Angel:  A Zombie Love Story” in the Bump in the Night anthology.)

When you follow interesting people online, say Angela James on Twitter, you can hear some incredible ideas that simply make your head explode.  Challenge!

The other day she was talking about zombies, and how much fun it would be to combine them with a Category Romance.  She might as well have hooked me up to our overloaded power grid (we’ve set record temps well over 100 degrees three days in a row). 

Soooo many zombies began eating my brains it’s not even funny.

I love zombies.  I’ve been wanting to write a Presents for years.  (I’ve got a notebook started but haven’t been able to get the right unique approach yet.)

Yesterday, I not only plotted my first zombie category romance (ZCR), but I also wrote the synopsis for it.  It’s hilarious.  It’s wonderful.  I think I have a way to write a zombie that isn’t disgusting for a romance — and I explained why my heroine is and must remain a virgin.  My hero is a perfect alphahole, but for a reason.  However, my heroine is no doormat.

In fact, she tricks him into signing a contract with a clause (that she added) without even reading it.  How? 

Death by Chocolate Cake.

Mmmmm.  Does it every time.

I think while I’m working on revisions for Vicki and Tecun this month, I will be writing ZCR for fun.  I don’t want to jinx myself, but this could be one of those stories I write in a few weeks simply because it’s that. much. fun!

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Bump in the Night Review

Soleil has an incredible three-part review of the Bump in the Night anthology posted on her blog! Vampires, Zombies, Ghosts and others. As for Broken Angel: A Zombie Love Story, she writes:

Even in the first scene, Joely pulls us right into the heart of Angelina’s distress. She keeps having this horrible nightmare about a broken doll who Angelina sees too much of herself in. She obsesses over the dream, becomes sluggish and lethaargic, posessed. Worse, she finds she’s unable to feel anything at all. I’ll admit, the first scene creeped me out, but did not repell me, rather it drew me in. I needed to know what would happen to Angelina, I needed to know that she would be able to feel again. I needed to know what her story was.

Thank you so much, Soleil!

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Bump in the Night-Broken Angel Excerpt

I love a challenge.  

At one of the first Drollerie Press chats, Deena challenged me to write a zombie romance.  I mean, how could anyone pull off someone falling in love with a dead creature that hungers for brains?  Ewwww, right?  But the more I thought about it, the more I couldn’t look away from the horrific thing revealing itself in my mind. 

Broken Angel does involve zombies, and does involve a love story.  I’d even say it has a happy ever after (waaaaaay ever after!) — but I wouldn’t call it “romance.”  It’s quite gruesome.  So in that respect, I may have failed the challenge.   Angelina’s story wouldn’t let me go, though, until I discovered why she was haunted by this horrible dream.  It’s a short story, so I can’t share much of an excerpt without giving the whole thing away, but here’s the opening section for your enjoyment. 

The full story is available in the Bump in the Night anthology

Bump in the NightI dreamed of the broken doll again.

Standing on a bridge curtained with willows and blooming vines, I saw her in the crystal water flowing beneath the stone arch. At first, she looked perfect: lovely porcelain face, large sparkling eyes, and flowing silken ribbons of gold framing her angelic features. Beautiful, she rose from the gurgling stream, floated up to the bridge like dandelion fluff. She smiled with that Cupid’s bow mouth and walked toward me, stiff and jerky like a mindless robot.

Dread rolled through me, a drowning darkness of cold waters. I couldn’t breathe. My head pounded, my heart struggled to beat. Ice encased my hands, my feet, inching up my arms and legs. I wanted to run before she came any closer, but I was frozen immobile.

Dead leaves rained down; brittle flowers crumpled to dust; ice covered me. My face was stiff and cold, my eyes wide open and staring. Just like that horrible, perfect doll marching toward me with grim joviality.

From the other dreams, I knew there was something horrible about her face, something so terrifying that I couldn’t remember. I didn’t want to remember. I didn’t want to look.

Peaches and cream complexion, once smooth and symmetrical, now drooped. The eye on the right sat lower on her face, her mouth tugging down into a grimace. A dark slash cut across her forehead, another down her cheek. She stumbled forward, clutching a heavy gold watch, links of chain woven between her wooden fingers. I stared, frozen like a dumb animal, as that face broke open. Porcelain cracked away to reveal…

My face.

Screaming, I jerked awake. I clawed at the blankets, flailing toward the edge of our king-sized bed.

My husband reached for me, mumbling, “What’s wrong?”

Relieved, I sank back onto the pillows and rolled into his embrace. Even woken from sleep, his voice echoed with command. He was a man used to leadership, wealthy enough to purchase the best doctors and provide exclusive, expensive care for me. He loved me. I remembered that much.

A wave of nausea flooded my stomach, burning up my throat. I really didn’t want to see any more doctors. Perhaps one—the one who … My head hurt. Yes, he’d taken care of my head. After the accident. The bridge. Pain exploded. Why couldn’t I remember his face? His name? He saved me. Images fluttered through my mind like loose papers, blowing leaves, gone in an instant.

Pillowing my face on Robert’s chest, I tried to calm my thoughts. “I was dreaming. Oh, it was horrible. That doll, her broken face …”

Shuddering, I couldn’t tell him the worst of the nightmare. She was me. I was her. What does that mean?

“That same old nightmare again? Go back to sleep, dear.”

His dismissive attitude stung. Rather, it would have hurt if I could feel anything. I was suddenly aware that I was fully awake, yet I was still numb to my surroundings. His bare chest was beneath my cheek, but I felt no heat from him. I smelled nothing from his skin. Hadn’t he always smelled of cologne, even at night? His chest hairs should tickle, yet I felt nothing but the rise and fall of his chest. Panic gnawed in the pit of my stomach, twisting me into knots.

He made a sound of pain and took my hand in his, lifting my fingers away from his skin where I’d gouged my nails into him. “That hurts, Angelina. What’s wrong?”

I couldn’t speak for the dread choking me. I was still the doll, but I was awake. He rolled up onto his forearm and smiled down at me. Didn’t terror flash in my eyes, dark with the screams of nightmares? Or was it the blank stare of the doll? Which was worse?

He kissed me, murmuring against my mouth. I felt the pressure of his lips, but not the heat or wetness, nor the scratch of his mustache. I clutched him harder, pushing him over onto his back and climbing onto him. Nothing. No heat, no sweaty glide of flesh on flesh. Yet he threw his head back and groaned deep in his throat, his hips arching up beneath me.

He was inside me, and I couldn’t feel it. His hands gripped my hips, pulling me into a rocking rhythm that my body knew but didn’t feel. No stirring fire burned in me. Nothing but this spreading blackness of fear. I plunged harder, faster, desperation driving me to feel something, anything. He drew me down and whispered, “Are you ready? I’m coming, oh, my love …”

Nothing. I couldn’t even cry. He shuddered and made a masculine purr of satisfaction as he rolled to his side and tucked me down beside him. “I like these nightmares of yours.”

I lay there, silent, frozen, strangled with betrayal. How could he be so blind, so oblivious? Didn’t he see? Couldn’t he feel the coldness in my unresponsive body?

The reality was worse than the doll’s nightmare.