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  • Writer's pictureNic Roads

#17: I'm getting knifed!

Hey friend,

Whoa, that email opener sounded kinda spammy, right? "Hey friend." Eesh. Sorry about that. I've been getting so many spam emails lately that maybe they're starting to rub off on me. Especially since so many of those emails literally talk about rubbing off.

Do you also get those types of annoying phishing emails? You know, they start off all casual, like "Hi Dear, how are you?" before immediately moving on to some sort of almost completely unintelligible request like "Is there again a happy date with huge profit that we can collaborate for toward immense throbbing subscription success romance together?"

One of these days, I think I just might reply, just to mess with the spammer:


Why, hello to you, my darling!

So wonderful to hear from you again for the very first time! Yes, I would absolutely love to collaborate with you on a happy date huge profit. So sweet of you to think of me! Coincidentally, I just so happened to be on the lookout for a throbbing success romance. You're so perceptive! Does that gift come from your mother's side of the family or from your uncle's side? Anyway, if said throbbing success romance comes in a subscription or payment-plan format, I would be ecstatic. This is a genius-level concept! Your pet naked molerat must be so proud of you. Please see below for the latest photo of your adorable companion, which I took while you were sleeping yesterday. It really is true what they say: pets sure do end up looking like their owners. Right? The resemblance is uncanny.

Since you bring it up, I have indeed been rather short on immense throbbing in my life lately. Do you also have this problem? Boy, and here I was thinking I was the only one plagued by immense throbbing deficiency! Perhaps we should exchange photos to compare notes? Or would you prefer videos? I'll send you one of each and let you decide.

Please note that these are unedited. What you're seeing there really is me, although the lighting in my bathroom is extremely unflattering. I'm very sorry about section 3:11 through 7:49 on the video, but somebody else needed to use the bathroom, and it got pretty confusing there for a while. So much skin, right? But don't worry, what you see there isn't my foot-long skin tag, no matter how much it looks like mine. That specific foot-long skin tag belongs to the other individual in my bathroom, although I didn't quite catch their name (I was too busy dodging and screaming, as you can see in the video). Please note that my own foot-long skin tag is of a completely different color than the one in the attached clip. Mine also smells like sardines, and is much more moist (moister? Sorry, I don't know if one should say more moist or moister, but hopefully you get the idea).

In any case, yes, I would absolutely appreciate your generous assistance, thank you. While you're at it, if you could also throw in a little elongation growth click choking secret partner fertility deposit, I would forever be in your adult bitcoin debt.

I love you and am watching you right now. Your elbows seem delicious.

Yours truly, Nic.


Feel free to copy-paste the above response and use it when replying to any phishing emails. Admittedly, it'd be way easier to simply ignore and/or delete those junk emails, but I think that my strategy sounds way more fun.


So... yes, as per my email headline, I AM getting knifed. But don't worry, it's nothing as dramatic as self-amputating a zombie-bitten limb, digging out a secret 5g government-issued evil tracking implant from my left butt cheek, or participating in some sort of 1980's Michael Jackson-inspired "Beat It" knife fight.

On March 8th, I'm going under the scalpel. I'm scheduled to receive my long awaited surgery to rebuild the knee I pretty much destroyed on a stupid trampoline... er, I mean, uh... by Kung Fu drop kicking a genetically-modified rabid polar bear cyborg while dangling from an unpiloted military helicopter over an erupting volcano.

(Yeah. That sounds way better.)

Confession time: I've never had surgery before. Not even a broken bone, or even stitches. So, to be totally honest, I'm a little skittish. Okay, I take that back. I'm a LOT skittish. Everything about the idea freaks me out, from getting an epidural (a needle in my spine?! Come on! That sounds like something Jack Bauer would do to a psychopathic bio-terrorist captive inside a damp shipping container!), to the catheter (I'm actually losing sleep at the thought of this horrific tubular intrusion into my unmentionables), to being entirely awake while they snip and slice into my leg (apparently you can watch what's happening live on a computer screen - uh, no thanks), all the way to the post-surgical stitching. Ugh.

But I don't have much of a choice, really. I have to get this knee surgery, no matter how much of a namby-pamby, yellow-bellied, candy-assed doormat I may be when it comes to <shudder> people ramming razor-sharp blades into my tender, juicy man meat. I mean, what kind of post-apocalyptic zombie survivalist example would I be setting for my kids if I chickened out of this, and instead spend the rest of their childhood hobbling around like some sort of a whiny, half-man, half-gumby scarecrow impersonator? I think it'd take maybe a day or two for my beloved World's Best Dad jumbo coffee mug to end up in the landfill.

To make things worse, when I went to the hospital the other day for a pre-surgical evaluation, the nurse informed me, while looking through my paperwork, that yes, I was getting surgery on my knee... but also on my shoulder.

This was all news to me, mind you. Both of my shoulders are working just fine, thank you very much. I happen to like them as they are, occasional curly stray shoulder hair notwithstanding. But the friendly people over at the hospital seemed convinced that my injured knee would be terribly lonely if it were the only part of my body that ended up with horrific surgical scars. So it only made sense that the doctors would hack and slash into my shoulder also, out of compassion for the rest of my newly defaced body parts.

We had a conversation, the nurse and I. I used words. Persuasive words. Maybe even an expletive or two. But no, I must be mistaken, insisted the young male nurse. He had papers, after all. Official papers. My shoulder did need surgery. The papers said so. And when the papers say something, they mean it.

Maybe surgeons are like pizzeria owners and feudal Japan-era Samurai warriors, and only get paid by the slice. Did Samurai get paid by the slice? Good question. The Samurai are long dead, so let's agree that they did. Just to be on the safe side, don't look it up. Let's assume that whatever I write in my newsletter, as doubtful as it may be and virtually never verified, is 100% historically factual. As they say, blind acceptance is way more enjoyable than discourse, arguments, and defamation lawsuits.

We agreed to disagree. Although boy, I made sure that he understood that if any of the surgeons ever came anywhere near my shoulder wielding a scalpel, I would get all John Wick on their butts, epidural or not. I'll flip flop the heck out of my pasty white torso, roll off the gurney and nip at their ankles if I must. My shoulder WILL stay intact. I'm really not in a negotiating frame of mind on this. I won't even give them an inch (of any other part of my body). I don't have any inches to spare, as it happens.

(Feel free to come up with your own punchline on that last bit.)

Anyway, if you never hear from me again, somebody please launch an investigation into illegal Canadian shoulder harvesting cartels. I dunno... maybe middle-aged white-guy shoulders are a hot commodity right now.

So I have to do something like 41 hours a day of pre-operation physiotherapy for the next three weeks. And then, after the actual surgery, I'm probably going to be waylaid for a few weeks, hopefully surfing the blissful wave of a morphine-induced daydream for however long it takes for my wounds to heal. I have no idea. In any case, if you don't hear from me next month, please know that I'm likely taking a short writing break while focusing on my rehab. Or maybe I'll have skipped town on the morning of my surgery and run away to El Salvador to live under an assumed identity. If so, be on the lookout for any new books by a faceless Gringo author named... uh... Nico Rodeo in the months ahead. Maybe I'll write about cowboy vampires or cannibal fairies to keep the authorities off my trail for a while.


I've upped my slovenly office workout routine lately by setting up a Cubii Jr. underdesk elliptical in my home office, which I can lazily pedal while writing. I do still have my awesome folding bike desk, but I needed to find something a little more low-key to keep my circulation going during my lengthier, more passive writing sessions. It's actually kind of perfect, because I'm an annoyingly fidgety guy who always finds it hard to sit still for long. But this thing allows me to redirect most of my nervous energy straight into my feet. Heck, if they added a dynamo to this thing, I might be able to provide enough electricity to power my whole street.

There's no way I could ever hope to break a sweat on this ultra-silent, super-smooth machine, although to anybody chatting with me over Zoom, my slow, rhythmical pumping movements probably look like I'm doing something super inappropriate below the camera. Pro tip: always keep your hands visible and refrain from sighing when you're using an underdesk elliptical while on a video call, especially if you're chatting with teenage or elderly relatives.

Apparently you burn about a quarter of the calories you would using a real treadmill using one of these machines, so it's probably akin to walking, exercise-wise. Still, my physiotherapist says it's way better than sitting still and letting blood coagulate in my legs while I scarf down corn chips, Skittles, and Korean pork jerky. So I'm sold.


IN OTHER NEWS, my Zombie Vale prequel Better Dead than Red is officially up on Amazon, available in both paperback and eBook formats, and free on Kindle Unlimited! You can also get it at Barnes & Noble, order it from your favorite independent bookstores, or even request it at your local library. The audiobook is being recorded as we speak, so it should be available on Audible within a few weeks.

A HUGE thank you to each and every one of you who took the time to leave a review on Amazon, Goodreads or Bookbub. You guys rock my world! The book is averaging 4.5 stars out of 5 right now on Amazon, and I'm getting closer and closer to having that magic number of fifty reviews I'm hoping for.

If you'd like to get a copy of Better Dead than Red, you can get it at the links below:

ALSO, I'm currently editing my upcoming third (and final) pre-Zombie Vale novella Dog of the Dead. The main character of this short book will be a large, goofy, shaggy, and very brave dog of the Komondor breed (seen in the photo below), who will also become one of the main characters in my upcoming full-length novels.

Originally, my canine character was going to be named Clark, but I've decided to change his name because it's driving me crazy every time I have to write "Clark barked". So, as much as I love the name Clark, I have to come up with something different, ideally a name that doesn't rhyme with "Bark". So "Shark", "Nark", "Marc", "Larc", and "Quark" are all off the table, thank you. I'm building a shortlist of substitute names that might work well, and have received a bunch of great suggestions on my Zombie Pen Facebook group already, but if you have any good ideas, please send them to me asap! Just reply to this email with any fantastic dog names you think of; I might soon put it to an online vote to help me decide!

IMPORTANT: I'll be looking for ARC (Advance Reader Copy) readers to read and review Dog of the Dead in the next month or two, just ahead of publication. If you'd like to join my ARC team, please click the button below and fill in the quick survey. If you're already on my ARC team, no need to do this again. I'll email you as soon as the review copies are available!



Have you watched All Of Us Are Dead on Netflix yet? If not, I really encourage you to go check it out. It's a fantastic post-apocalyptic zombie survival series, which is no surprise given how devoted South Koreans are at making awesome zombie content lately. They definitely know what they're doing over there; I've spoken before about Train to Busan and Kingdom, and with this latest entry, it's clear that they're investing so much of their creative juices to bringing us more and more top-quality undead tales.

Sure, there's a fair bit of angsty teenage subplots (I mean, really? Would dating actually still matter during the opening hours of a world ending, blood-drenched explosion of contagious cannibal carnage?! Come on, now...), and the dubbed version has a few very annoying voices (I recommend the subtitled version), but still, you're getting a really smartly delivered, fresh take on a zombie origin story, and fantastic production value. Not to mention those phenomenally terrifying bone-cracking, break-dancing, rage-sprinting Korean zombies we loved in Train to Busan and its sequel Peninsula.

Highly recommend. Check out the trailer at the link below if you haven't already. Let's keep supporting all of these new zombie shows and movies to help ensure Netflix and other broadcasters keep delivering them to us!



A deadly illness. Panicked lockdown. And two sisters who’ll stop at nothing to save each other.

The second wave of the Siberian Flu catches the country completely unprepared.

Instead of killing the old and frail, the young and healthy are dropping... in hours, not days.

Kate, a new doctor, will sacrifice everything to break her and her sister free from a controlling stepfather and a dead-end small town existence. Moments from landing the critical job she needs, St. Louis falls apart around her.

Now it’s a race to survive. She has to fight through a city turning deadlier by the second and traverse a chaotic country to save her sister. Alisa should be safe at home in their small town, but she’s never been happy to sit back and let life pass her by. Concerned for her stepbrother, she finds herself embroiled in a far-reaching conspiracy that might be even deadlier than the pandemic.

As an invisible killer spreads like wildfire, society breaks down with astonishing speed. Refusing to succumb to the chaos, the sisters will have to dig deep for strength, rely on new friends, and fight a vicious battle to survive.


An apocalyptic end to civilization. Evil ravaging the world. Can a relentless teen hunt down a sadistic killer without joining the voiceless dead?

A warrior’s heart beats within Lea Callisto’s seventeen-year-old chest. Rescued as a child, she soaks up every lesson her mentor teaches her to survive.

After a farmer’s mutilated corpse is discovered, she vows to do whatever it takes to repay her guardian’s trust and bring the killer to justice.

But as dark secrets unfold, her confidence turns to fear when she realizes she’s next marked for death.

Can Lea outwit the killer before she becomes his next victim?


How far would you go to save the ones you love?

Two brothers learn of the apocalypse after being out of touch for a few days. Returning to town, they learn first-hand, the dead are coming back to life with a taste for flesh. With their parents in Nebraska, they must embark on a journey to rescue them as they set into motion their zombie apocalypse plan. But they'll see not all is fun and games as they realize it is nothing like they imagined it would be.

Can they make it in time to save their parents from a fate worse than death?

Emmett Wolfe has been preparing for this day for years, but still, cannot believe it is happening. An infection unlike any other has begun to spread across America and the world as he knows it is ending. He must rescue his daughter and ex-wife and transport them to a safe location.

But at the end of the world, nowhere is safe anymore.


War and alien invasion have scarred the planet. Countries have been obliterated. Jameson's father, a member of the Shepherds United, which protects the people of Earth, has been killed. Jameson's mother and brother were consumed by the house fire—a ghostly, blue fire he walked through unscathed.

Terrified and alone, at only eight years old, Jameson must find his way to the nearest desert city to survive in the post-apocalyptic lands of Earth. It's there that he discovers he's not the only one with a strange gift. But to speak of such mutation is asking for serious trouble.

Jameson is soon caught and forced into the Knock-pits of a Tropic Zone where he must fight to keep a new friend safe. Years pass. He grows as do his skills, leading to increased challenges, bigger competitors, and ultimately a raid by the Shepherds United, the worldwide military.

Jameson soon learns what it means to train and fight like a soldier of Earth's united peacekeepers like his father once had. He elects to set aside his emotions, desires, and instincts to become an enlisted member in hopes of grasping one last piece of his father. But when the second invasion hits, Jameson's conviction and control are put to the test.

He's not a child anymore. This time, he can't run from the truth. Jameson is more powerful than he ever imagined. Or perhaps, he simply isn't remembering everything. The shepherd's serum conceals memories, feelings, and the dark reality of what he's becoming inside, leaving him stumbling through a confusing awakening in a rising and falling tide of blood and fire.

Can Jameson pull his pieces together in time to save his team, or is his destiny to blindly wield death wherever he goes?






That's it for me! Thanks so much for reading, fellow humanoid. Talk to you again soon!

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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