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  • Writer's pictureNic Roads

#13: Sorry for what you're about to read...

Ugh, November. Right?

To me, the month of November is kind of like the aftermath of a crappy meteorological one-night stand. It's almost as if some hot, sultry babe named August got a little nasty and decided to get it on with a dark, cool, and brooding (but amazingly buff) dude named February.

Hmm... let's try this out and see what happens.

* I apologize in advance for where the following bout of keyboard improv takes me... *



by Nic Roads

On a dry, sunny afternoon, August is finishing up her shift at Grandma Speedy's Tex-Mex diner over by Route 84.

It's been a slow day. August, who's blonde, curvy, and unrealistically optimistic about everything and everybody, smiles at the fifty-one cent tip her last customer left on his twelve dollar bill for steak and eggs, peach cobbler, and three refills of coffee. Old Mr. Schwepper sure is one cheap rascal, she thinks. It's okay though. She'll get him back by stirring a spoonful of kosher salt into his cup of coffee tomorrow.

The door bangs open and a gust of unseasonably cold air stirs the short stack of receipts impaled by the cash register. In walks February, a tall, quiet, mysterious fellow who's almost always in a somber mood as he skulks around town, always on the lookout for a shady place to smoke his Pall Malls. This time, though, he parks himself at the counter and winks at August. His grin flashes a perfect set of teeth as white and shiny as snow. August, who's been single for exactly twenty-two days, four hours and eleven minutes, smiles back. Her heart melts, as do her unmentionables.

Flash forward seventeen minutes.

Grandma Speedy is passed out in her office, once again snoring her way through a Wild Turkey-induced dream about talking fish. August and Feb are locked inside the middle stall of the men's restrooms, noisily partaking in an ergonomically-challenging quickie, mindless to the questionable hygiene of their cracked tile surroundings. The pair are so engrossed in their frantic coupling that they are unaware that Billy "Pickles" Benderkey is squatting in the stall right beside them, midway through an unproductive bowel movement. Still, Billy chuckles to himself while he livestreams the soundtrack of August and Feb's casual encounter to all of his TikTok followers, all of whom are devout chewing tobacco aficionados. Billy will get one hundred and ninety-one "likes" on his post.

For a grand total of forty-one seconds, it sounds as though somebody has dropped a pair of caffeinated, semi-feral cats inside a rackety clothes dryer, then run the tumble cycle. Unfortunately, the passion is short lived. As soon as he's done, February buckles his snakeskin belt and dashes off, muttering that he forgot his favorite Limp Bizkit sleeveless T-shirt at the Magic Dollar Laundromat. August sighs, fixes her hair in the stained restroom mirror then heads off to her car, where she remembers leaving a half-eaten Milky Way on the passenger seat. Hopefully it won't have melted too much.

Uh-oh. Three weeks later, August finds out she's pregnant. She drops by Feb's mold-blue 1987 Chevrolet G20 camper van, parked behind the abandoned bowling alley, but when Feb opens the door, he barely remembers her.

Feb's a real dick. He says he doesn't want to have anything to do with August or her baby. A natural skeptic, he blames the pregnancy on alien metamorphs from another dimension. Feb's always figured he was infertile, on account of that schoolyard dumbbell battle he lost when he was eight-and-a-half years old. So it must be aliens. In any case, he's crazy busy these days, laying down some tracks for his debut self-produced bluegrass hip hop fusion album. He's also learning how to use nunchucks on YouTube, which is a major time investment, so there's no way he can help August raise a kid. To make things worse, Feb's now boinking August's kid sister April, whom he bonded with while kicking the crap out of a soda dispensing machine at the Thursday morning dog fights.

Heartbroken, August walks away, heading toward her favorite nail salon in Chinatown, because there's a "Ten nails for the price of seven" promo happening today only. She plans on getting her fingernails adorned with the tiny, glossy, lacquered faces of her favorite classic boy band singers on all ten digits. Justin Timberlake and Nick Carter will each be respectively perched on the thrones of her extra-long thumbnails. August really wants to be able to watch Thumb-Justin and Thumb-Nick dance every time she's texting eggplant emoticons to hot dudes on Tinder.

Several months later, August gives birth to baby November in the checkout line of the grocery store while arguing with the teller over expired mustard coupons.

November, well. Poor thing. He's a colicky, gassy baby. He won't latch, and can't sleep for more than thirty-nine minutes straight without waking up, screaming like a donkey caught in an elevator door. He's allergic to sunlight, and for some inexplicable reason, he's always moist, pretty much all over. Roll him around in talcum powder all you want, he'll still come out as sticky as a peeled mango.

Now we all know that November will probably grow up and turn out to be a fine, healthy, upstanding, reasonably well-balanced citizen one day, and hopefully not a sociopathic axe murderer who likes to make underwear out of people's unwaxed armpit skin, like February's great-uncle March (also known as the Bayside Armpit Peeler). But for now, November is a gloomy, soggy, unpredictable baby, a miserable, tantrummy hybrid of August's fiery naiveté and February's grumpy, stubborn, elemental crudeness.

Also, as is the case with most babies too little to eat solid food, November kind of sucks.



The moral of this story?

I should probably never, ever try my hand at writing romance. Zombies... that's my jam, right there.

Also, November sucks. Sure, seasons are wonderful. Summer, Fall, Winter and Spring... all good. But our favorite seasons also have these tiny, sloppy hybrid micro-seasons nestled in between them. There's the mushy, mucky time right after winter, right before spring. And there's the unstable "shorts vs. pants" period right after summer, before the deliciously crispy fall sets in.

And then there's November. It's wet, chilly... and man. It sucks.

I think that sums it up pretty well. Although to be perfectly clear, I like babies just fine. So please: take that last story with a grain of salt, and don't leave flaming bags of dirty diapers on my doorstep.


October 31st, being only a day away from the flaming meteorological crap pile that is November, was Halloween, my kids' favorite day of the entire year. And obviously, even though the weather forecast gave us some false hope, it was pouring buckets the whole time we were out trick or treating.

To be fair, I was well-protected, walking around with a golf umbrella the size of Wyoming. So I stayed dry. But my kids, though... man.

My wife put in crazy hours to prime them both for the big event. The result was beyond impressive. Van was dressed as a fantasy wizard (I couldn't help but call him Vandalf). He was decked out in so much purple corduroy the 1970s called to complain. He also sported a felt and foam hat the size of a Ford Focus. Meanwhile, Lewyn was dressed as Godzilla, with a full-body soft and fuzzy fleece reptile costume. Fabric-wise, the costume was basically the polar opposite of GoreTex. I think most raindrops actually diverted their angle of attack just so they could hit the tiny dinosaur prowling the streets.

Basically, both of my kids were soaking up so much water they could have gone toe-to-toe with SpongeBob for their overall capacity to absorb rain. By the time we got home, bags overflowing with so much candy our family dentist will probably be able to afford to buy a third house in a few months, my kids had harvested so much rainfall in their soppy costumes we could have saved a beached whale or two.

The good news is, when you walk around for two hours carrying that much water weight, you burn enough calories that you can basically eat unlimited candy for three weeks straight without feeling guilty. Given how much pity-candy we have stockpiled in the house right now, I might just have to go on a hike every time it rains wearing only underwear and one of those blue, wavy memory-foam mattress toppers. It's hunting season right now, though, so I might hold off for a few weeks. I don't want to make the cover of The National Enquirer under the headline "Hunter Accidentally Shoots Man Dressed As Giant Sea Cucumber".

Anyway... how the heck was your Halloween? And what's your November looking like so far? Feel free to complain about the weather all you like. Misery (i.e. me) loves company.



A handful of you glorious, angelic souls actually took me up on my gracious invitation (i.e. me getting down on my virtual knees to beg) to go review Dom of the Dead on Amazon and/or Goodreads. As of right now, I have... wait for it... four reviews on, and two reviews on


Were you amongst the phenomenally awesome people who took a minute to write up a review? If so, please know that although we've never met in person, you rock my world. Hard. Not in a creepy, sexual way, but still. Thank you so much! Whatever books I write next, you were the wind beneath my wings. Or maybe the match that set fire to my literary farts. You choose whichever analogy you prefer.

I know that on average, only one out of every 120 readers ever bothers to review the books they've read, but man. It is SO DARN HARD to get reviews. Especially when your first name isn't Stephen, William, or Danielle, and your last name isn't King, Patterson, or Steele. So if you're just... I don't know... chilling on the john right now, or if you happen to have a few minutes to spare after practicing your tactical zombie beheadings in your garage using your favorite garden shears... well, heck. I'd certainly appreciate it if you could take a minute to hop on over and go tell the world what you thought of my first ever zombie book. Especially if you're one of the beyond-awesome people who bought the book, which earns you that oh-so beautiful orange tag authenticating your words as coming from a Verified Purchase!

Apparently, authors need a minimum of fifty reviews in order for the creepy Amazon AI technobots to start paying any real attention to them, and to start making a book more visible to readers... so I just need a few dozen of you to make the magic happen! Help a brother out, will you? It'll really help me keep churning out more shambling corpse stories for your twisted enjoyment.


Readers of the Lost ARC

Hey, if you want to be extra awesome, and also be included the select small group of people who get free eBook copies of my upcoming full-length Zombie Vale novels launching soon, why not apply to join my brand new Advance Review Copy (ARC) team?

Members of my new ARC team will get free electronic review copies of my latest books ahead of anybody else. I'll encourage you to post your review online whenever one of my books launches, even if it isn't mandatory. You'll be in my innermost circle of readers, so you'll be the very first to know about my projects, book launches, audiobook releases, giveaways, giant blockbuster Hollywood film adaptations (yeah, right!) and more. Sometimes I might even name characters or locations in my novels based on some of my ARC readers!

If you're interested, just click the button below, or copy the URL into your browser. You'll have to fill in a quick survey about your reading habits, but it should only take a couple of minutes.



Dom of the Dead is finally in production as an audiobook! Very soon, if you so wish, you'll be able to hear Yasmine in her own words, and relive her struggle for survival while you wash the dishes, take your shower, or drive your toddlers to school (actually, maybe rethink that last one. Dom of the Dead isn't exactly PG rated.) So stay tuned! The performer who's producing the audiobook is phenomenal. She's totally top notch, on par with some of the very best narrators out there.

Funny story, though. To hire an audiobook performer, you post a sample of your book on ACX, then request auditions from lots and lots of narrators. I received SO MANY auditions to play Yasmine, and only a few of them mistook my book for erotica, which, given the title, is commendable. But here's the funny bit: the very first word in Dom of the Dead is "Woof!". So within the first day or two of posting for auditions, I received a couple dozen recordings from professional female narrators... all barking at me.

I admit it: I couldn't help myself but do a round or two of only listening to the barks in rapid succession. It was one of the funniest things ever. My kids and I laughed like crazy, just bouncing from one bark to another. Some of these narrators were going for bullmastiffs, others Chihuahuas. It was radical. I'm telling you: if there were a podcast featuring only people pretending to bark, I think I might listen to it every day.


MORE BIG NEWS: You already know that Better Dead than Red is on its way soon, because I keep saying it, like, every week. And it's true, even if it's taking a while to get through all the quality control hoops. Right now, I'm scheduling the book launch for January 4th (and I'm also aiming to publish Zombie Vale 1: In the Flesh in March, which will finally kick off the full series). I've just had over twenty Beta readers go through the manuscript, and the feedback so far is fantastic! Several of my readers are reporting that they couldn't put the book down, and that it kept them up at night, or kept them from finishing menial tasks around the house. As an indie author, I love contributing to worldwide procrastination, even if it's only in microscopic, infinitesimal ways. Your sloth is my greatest compliment. Anyway, I really can't wait to share this story with you!

But wait: ANOTHER free story is heading your way!

About three weeks ago, I was invited to participate in a collaborative project where a bunch of post-apocalyptic and zombie authors write short stories, and everything gets bundled together in one big jumbo anthology that we'll all give away to our respective readers in the weeks leading up to the Holidays. Honestly, my mind is a little blown that I was even invited to be a part of this, because some of the BIGGEST names in the zombie/post-apocalyptic genre are also involved.

So the great news is that next month, in December, I'll be able to send you all a link to get the eBook anthology, absolutely free! Inside, you'll find a brand new 5,500 word story from yours truly, amongst a bunch of other great apocalyptic tales.

A word of warning though: the story I wrote for this book is straight-up post-apocalyptic, with nary a zombie in sight. There's mention of zombies (I couldn't help myself), but with this story, I wanted to try something a little different. In fact, I came up with a completely new (and dare I say pretty original) way of destroying human civilization. I can't wait to share it with you and see what you think! In the meantime though, here's a sneak peek at my story's cover art (which I made myself using Canva).

I've also started writing my next short story, the final of my three planned world-building novellas to wrap together all of my Zombie Vale side stories ahead of launching the full series in 2022. The only other thing I can tell you about this new story at this point is the title: Dog of the Dead.

Hey, at least when it comes to titles, I'm consistent.



There's some very cool stuff happening on both the big and small screen these days. First, the hit 2014 Australian zombie movie Wyrmwood is finally getting a sequel! Definitely watch the original if you haven't - it's absolutely bananas.

And here's the trailer to Wyrmwood: Apocalypse, which I'm hoping we get to see very soon!

Also, the brand new TV adaptation of George Romero's epic Day of the Dead is now airing on SciFi!

I haven't watched it yet, but apparently it's a lot of gory, campy fun. If you've watched the show, let me know what you think! In the meantime, here's the trailer:



It kind of embarrasses me to say this, but I honestly dig the whole Black Friday/Cyber Monday thing.

Not the in-store stuff, though. No. I honestly hate the idea of fighting my way through a vicious, smelly crowd trying to snag a few door-crasher deals. Not my idea of a good time. In a way, it's kind of like a zombie apocalypse, except that machetes are frowned upon. But I admit that I do enjoy planning for the annual sales. I usually keep a list in the months leading up to Cyber Monday so that I can do all of my online shopping ahead of the Holidays, and save a bundle in the process.

My way of operating here might even be a bit of a problem, because I basically stop shopping for anything except food in the months leading up to this time of the year. For example, I've needed new underwear since September, but because Black Friday is coming, I've been holding off until now to buy more, just to save a few bucks. Let's just say that there's not a whole lot of suspension to my undercarriage, these days. The tattered scraps I'm sporting down there would probably make for very believable props in a post-apocalyptic movie. I think even a hungry moth would frown at my offerings.

Aside from new underwear, the stuff I've got my eyes on this year include a new tarp for hammock camping, contact lenses, a bunch of books, a pair of Oofos, a subscription to Kindle Unlimited (they have an awesome 4-months for $4.99 deal right now) and maybe even a new Chromebook to replace my decade old mammoth of a laptop, which is about as reliable as a 1970 AMC Gremlin.

I'm also seriously thinking of picking up a couple of new Kindle Kids eReaders, although they're selling like hotcakes, and are often out of stock. These little eReaders come with a free one-year subscription to Amazon Kids+, which I think would make a phenomenal gift for children. Even if my kids aren't allowed to read their Dad's creepy zombie books, that is...

What about you? Do you have anything special you're shopping for ahead of the Holidays? Any hot leads on cool gadgets or especially awesome deals? Let me know—I read all my replies!



This was my main zombie read this month (I always have a few books on the go, but there's always at least one zombie-themed tale in the lot). Breathers is an older book, dating back to 2009, but it was SUPER fun. Totally different from the standard zompoc fare, this is a perfect read for anybody who likes to throw in some weirder, funny, quirky zombie fiction like Shaun of the Dead, Fido, Warm Bodies into their apocalyptic mix.

Breathers is an oddball story set from the POV of a zombie as he struggles to find his place in the world despite all of his new limitations, both physical and social. It's a really unique story with countless laugh out louds moments, lots of heart, and still wielding enough cannibalistic gore to keep you satisfied. I really, really wish this book were made into a movie or TV series. Anyway, for those of you who like to throw in an occasional splash of parody into your zombiereading, it's totally worth checking out.



Honestly, the offerings were a little scant this month, but I still managed to dig up a couple of freebie events that are worth checking out:


That's it! I hope you have a magnificent, not-too-sloppy autumn, and that you survive the Black Friday apocalypse, if you're heading out there. If you do, try to not get bitten. If the zompoc ever starts, Black Friday is probably where Patient Zero will be.

Be great,


- Missed a past issue? Check out The Zombie Pen's archive RIGHT HERE. -


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Sure, I like stuff. But there's plenty of stuff I don't like. If I'm recommending something here, it's because I actually like it, or because I've heard enough about it to be pretty sure I would like it. My posts are NEVER sponsored. Your clicks help to keep my site and newsletter up and running, so thanks for your support!

Copyright © 2021 Nic Roads. All rights reserved.

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