Interview with the Author

Tell us about your newest book, Apocalipatick.

The elevator pitch: It’s Twilight meets The Walking Dead

Jenna’s dreams pre-pandemic included a high school graduation party before attending college and marrying an attractive future lawyer. Instead, she’s praying for a long, sharp knife and a big gun to survive the undead.

Jenna Martin lives in a world gone insane after a mysterious pandemic kills much of the population. Being alive after an apocalypse is bad, but it is made worse when the multitudes killed by the disease return ravenous for human flesh. 

Luckily, Jenna stumbles onto a group of survivors, including the mysterious and off-putting Caleb. The group travels to the relative safety of an isolated inn where Jenna falls hard and fast for Caleb, which causes more problems than she ever expected in the fledgling society. Although he withstood the virus, he has not come out unscathed. He and some others now labeled the New Race have changed into what many would call zombie kin—vampires.

Writing isn’t easy. What was the most difficult thing you dealt with when writing your newest book?

Editing! This book took extensive edits. It was originally released in 2013 and completely revamped for its 2021 debut. Not that I’m complaining because the editing process helped the characters come alive, but it was exhausting. Coffee and wine made the process possible.

Tell us a little bit about your writing career. 

I had no idea what I wanted to do when I grew up. I worked at an aquarium. I worked for the National Audubon Society.  I edited other people’s writing for a while. Finally, I settled on teaching. Throughout all my jobs I wrote, whether articles for the local newspaper, blogs, or working on my own dissertation. I slowly transitioned into fiction. Now, I publish in a variety of genres and teach at the high school and college level. I write for enjoyment and fun though it feels like hard work sometimes. 

They say Hindsight is 20/20. If you could give advice to the writer you were the first time you sat down to write, what would it be?

Don’t rush to publication. I wanted to be published so bad that I didn’t realize how much my writing needed an editor. Take your time. You want to put your best book out there. 

What was your most difficult scene to write?

I am horrible at writing romance/sex scenes, and yet my romance book under the pen name Dakota Star seems to sell the best (go figure)!

Are themes a big part of your stories, or not so much?

Yes, I like to consider the universal connections. In Apocalipstick, I thought about how humans can be more monstrous than the monsters. I also looked at the power of love and how it offers hope and redemption.

What are you working on now?

Book two of the Hell in a Handbag series called A Blush of Death. Look for it soon.

Is there a release date planned?

Summer 2021

Who is your favorite character from your own stories, and why?

I wrote a short story about a woman named Karny Valle who ran a carnival that punished evil men. She was just so wicked. I didn’t know I had her in me.

Most writers were readers as children. What was your favorite book in grade school?

I wasn’t a reader until I found Judy Blume and then I wanted to read all of her books at once. Her books and memorable characters made me into a reader.

What are your plans for future projects?

I’ve been writing a lot of short stories lately, everything from science fiction to romance. I hope to pen a few more over the summer. 

Is there anything you would like to add before we finish?

Support your indie author. They put out some amazing reads.   

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In the Kitchen with Lisa Acerbo

Who would have thought I’d end up in the kitchen?

It’s kind of a funny story. I love to write about vampires and zombies and spend a heck of a lot of time describing the carnage that ensues, but truth be told, I’m a vegetarian. I haven’t touched red meat in close to 30 years. Once in a while, I break down and steal a piece of my husband’s barbeque chicken pizza.  If you want meat, you’ll have to grab a copy of Apocalipstick.

Here’s one of my favorite vegetarian meals. Some of the ingredients might be hard to get in a post-apocalyptic word filled with zombies and vampires, but it remains tasty. It originally came with a Blue Apron subscription, but my husband and I tweaked it. Cauliflower is one of my favorite meat substitutes.

Cauliflower Grain Bowls for Two

  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 Cucumber
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 3 Tablespoons roasted pistachios
  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 1 lemon 
  • 3 Tablespoons dried currants
  • ½ cup whole wheat couscous
  • 4 oz grape tomatoes 
  • 1 large shallot
  • Balsamic vinegar.
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  1. First, peel and cut the shallot. Marinade in balsamic vinegar. Set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Line a sheet pan with foil. Cut the cauliflower in small florets. Discard the core. Drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.  Roast until lightly browned (approximately 25 minutes)
  3. Prepare couscous as specified
  4. Dice cucumbers and halve tomatoes. In a bowl, combine cucumbers and tomatoes with shallot. Squeeze the juice of half the lemon into mixture. Add 1 teaspoon olive oil. Stir to combine all ingredients. 
  5. In a small bowl, combine sour cream and 1 tablespoon water. Mix and season with salt and pepper. 
  6. When couscous is almost ready, fry eggs.
  7.  When couscous is ready, add currants, lemon juice from the other half of the lemon, a drizzle of olive oil, and salt and pepper. Stir to combine.
  8. On the two plates, divide the couscous. Top with the roasted cauliflower, cucumber-tomato salad, and fried eggs. Drizzle with sour cream and chopped pistachios. 


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My Favorite Zombies

Who’d you’d like to face off with?

10 favorite zombie characters in film and Literature

10. Zombieland clown zombie. My two biggest fears combined. I guess Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) and I can bond over this if we survive the apocalypse.

9. The food pantry zombies from The Walking dead. These were so scary I watched the entire scene with hands over my eyes. Talk about the worst-case scenario: small spaces and murky water.

8. Bill Murray from Zombieland. Okay, he wasn’t really a zombie at first, but the make-up and his unexpected demise is too good not to include.

7.  Ed (Nick Frost) from Shaun of the Dead. Keeping your best bud close after he turns into a zombie shows what true friendship is all about.

6. Melanie from The Girl with all the Gifts by M. R. Carey. A child zombie with intelligence. This could be good or very, very bad for the world.

5. The teeth-clicking zombie from World War Z. I still hear that noise in my nightmares.

A Tale of Two Stories: a World War Z Evaluation | Evaluation Blog

4. Ben Cortman from Last Man on Earth by Richard Mattheson.  Mattheson blurs the line between vampires and zombies in his novel with Robert Neville’s former best friend turning into his zombie-like nemesis. So good!

3. Night of the Living Dead. Sure, the hordes are creepy, but my pick is Karen, the young girl. Don’t “get in the cellar.” You have no idea what is waiting down there.

2.  Liv Moore (Rose McIver) in IZombie. This show had an amazing couple seasons as Liv struggled to deal with both human and zombie problems before it went somewhere no zombie show should ever go.

  1. R (Nicholas Hoult) from Warm Bodies. I’m a romantic and he’s adorable even as a zombie. What can I say?

Q & A with the Author

Do you believe in the paranormal and if so, do you have an experience you can share?

My daughter’s room is upstairs. The master bedroom is downstairs. When my daughter was around 14 and not long after my father passed away, she came stumbling and screaming down the stairs. 

“A man’s sitting in the chair by the book nook.” 

I ran upstairs and of course, there was no one there. Even though my daughter never knew what my father looked like young or that fact he was in the army, her description of him as a young man was spot on. She slept on the couch downstairs for about a month. I still get goosebumps every time I tell the story.

What titles are you working on now that you can tell us about? 

Apocalipstick is part of a trilogy titled Hell in a Handbag. Blush of Death is due out in the summer and Liquid Foundations soon after that.  One of the characters in Apocalipstick, Eric, makes a guest appearance in Blush of Death.  Seeing his character reappear in book 2 is definitely worth the read. In the third book, Jenna, Caleb and some others are trapped underground and face both zombies and a new threat. Think The Descent meets The Walking Dead.  

Tell me a little bit about your main character of this book.

Jenna Martin lives in a world gone insane after a mysterious pandemic kills much of the population. Being alive after an apocalypse is bad, but it is made worse when the multitudes killed by the disease return ravenous for human flesh. Jenna, in serious trouble and pursued by undead, heads to the safest place available, a cemetery.

Ready to give up, she finds the strength to persevere for one more night and meets a group of survivors willing to take her in. The group caravans to Virginia, where they plan to inhabit an isolated inn called High Point, but the undead are always close behind. Packs of zombies, known as Streakers, attack, leaving Jenna and the other survivors battling for their lives and racing toward safety.

Once safely isolated at the inn, the group rebuilds society and Jenna begins a relationship with Caleb. Although he withstood the virus, he has not come out unscathed. He and some others now labeled the New Rave have changed into what many would call zombie kin—vampires.

Jenna falls hard and fast for Caleb, which causes more problems that she ever expected in the fledgling society. But there are worse things than vampires and zombies searching for her, and they arrive at the inn’s door ready for destruction.

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Apocalipstick Excerpt and GC Giveaway


REMNANTS OF TOPPLED CASH REGISTERS, broken carts, card‐ board boxes, and plastic bags littered the floor. 

“Paper or plastic,” Quentin kicked a white bag. It flew across the room like a specter. 

Brazen vermin squealed and scurried in front of Jenna’s feet. Most of the shelves were not only empty but badly deteriorated. Still, Emma and Jackie were able to gather a few cans that had hidden in dark corners or under filth. 

She stepped over a long-dried puddle. It was hard and black. 

“Clean up in isle four.” Quentin’s voice rang out behind her. They wandered through the maze of aisles—skirting empty. molding containers, broken shelving, and avoiding the darkest of places. A noise caught her attention and that of the group, signaling for everyone to stop. Jackie motioned for Jenna and Quentin to fan out. Quentin gave her a thumbs-up before he prowled ahead. A broken sign dangled. The words cereal and bread still attached by thin chains. 

Quentin pulled out a wallet and handed Billy a one-hundred-dollar bill. “Go crazy. Buy whatever you need.” 

“Gee, thanks.” Billy took the money, but a moment later let it slip through his fingers. It sailed to the floor, landing gently. 

They could be dead soon. Why had she never tried to get to know Quentin?

Everyone loved him and his off-beat sense of humor. Something she didn’t understand and shied away from. He’d been part of the group for more than two months. One of the last human survivors she and the rest of them had run across. It was their first scavenging party together. 

Always friendly since day one. 

Did his antics make her feel protected? She couldn’t remember how that worked. 

Why had she remained aloof? 

“Attention shoppers.” His hands cupped his mouth, so the words echoed in the emptiness. “Today’s specials include dented cans of long-expired veggies. Don’t forget those condiments. A bottle of ketchup can spice up any type of zombie brains.” 

“We don’t eat zombie brains,” Jenna blurted. 

He smiled at her. “I know.” 

Exactly the reason staying quiet is best. 

She studied him. He stood at least five inches taller than Jenna, and when he turned back, hoisted his bat, and winked at her, the tight, long-sleeved T-shirt highlighted muscled arms. Tousled brown hair fell into his blue eyes. She’d seen it all before, but it was as if today she took it in and etched his features in her mind.

He waved her forward and she joined him. “The town’s been quiet since you and Caleb vanquished the last batch of Streakers.” Mice, frightened of his voice, surged forward, leaping over Quentin’s steel-toed boots. “Free of the undead types and humans.”

 Jenna jumped back before huffing out a breath. “Yup.” 

So much for practicing those social skills. 

“Looters cleaned this place out long ago.” He ran a long, straight index finger along a shelf, picking up a layer of dust mixed with animal hair. “Nothing’s here but the stench.” 

“And the rodents.” Jenna pointed to the boots the vermin had just run over.

“Those too.” He held her gaze. 

“We should have searched houses. You know how people stockpiled at the end.” 

“Staking out each house, ensuring there are no Streakers, and then searching takes so much longer. Grocery stores are a one and done deal.” 

“Does it make sense to split up?” Emma peeked around a corner. 

“It will make the search go faster. I doubt we’ll find much in here.” Jackie smoothed a lock of hair behind an ear. 

“Not too far apart.” Emma headed away from the group and Jenna. “We can see each other from the ends of the rows. Let’s stay in sight when possible.” “Come on.” 

Emma grabbed Billy and followed Jackie. “You two take the rows at the other end of the store. We can meet in the middle. Yell if you need us.” 

Quentin bumped shoulders with Jenna. “Partner.” 

She ignored him. He repeated the contact. This time more forcefully. 

“Stop.” The growl emerged from deep in her throat. She strode away until she found an interesting store aisle and then meandered through it; Quentin followed a few steps behind. His breath hit the back of her neck and she stopped short. “Do I need to yell over to Jackie for a rescue, or are you going to behave? I like my personal space.” 

What does he mean by all the close contact

Quentin didn’t take the prior hint and started a drumbeat on the back of her jacket. 

“Stop,” she protested. 

“What are you going to do about it?” 

“Are you ten years old?” Posture rigid, exasperation leaked out. “We’re on a mission here.” 

“I’m old enough.” Quentin’s blue eyes twinkled. 

“Good to know you’re so seasoned and battle ready.” 

“Look at these arms.” Muscles bulged under his shirt. “Do they look like the arms of a pre-teen? I’m ready for battle… and other things.” 

“All I see are the lovely and appealing stains on your shirt.” She did a double take. “Actually, I recant my statement.” 

His smile was wicked. “I knew you would.” 

“They look like the arms of a small child. Someone needs to be hitting the gym a little more often.” 

“Ouch.” He shoved her. 

Catching her off guard, she stumbled. He reached out and drew her in. “Sorry.” His whispered word tickled her ear. 

He didn’t let her go and she stood cocooned in his warmth. The heat of his body, close and warm, was confusing. It’s been such a long time since physical closeness with anyone was normal. 

“There’s a pharmacy at the end of the next row we should check out.” She tried to break the spell of the moment. 

“Really?” He didn’t take the hint and relinquish her. “There’s a lot going on right here I want to examine.” 

“I take it back.” She wiggled out of Quentin’s grasp, then punched his arm. 

“What?” His arms went limp at his side. 

“You’re acting like a toddler.” She inched closer to the pharmacy, placing more distance between Quentin, the confusing emotions, and herself. 

“Everyone okay?” Emma’s voice echoed from the next row. 

“We’re good. At least Quentin is good. I’m suffering through his antics.” Jenna wasn’t sure what was going on or why, and she didn’t want to begin to address the sensations careening through her. 

“Try your best not to judge him too harshly.” Muffled laughter filtered through the ramshackle shelving. 

“I’m trying my darndest.” To be over there with the rest of them. Why am I stuck in a teen dating movie? She chalked her bewilderment and awkwardness up to the recent near-death experience with Streakers and nightmares. After some quality sleep, everything would be fine and dandy. “Come on.” Jenna tugged the arm of his T-shirt. He remained planted like a tree. “We have a job to do and not a lot of time to do it.” Jenna edged back. “Let’s get moving.” 

He groaned but followed, kicking at the discarded face masks littering the floor, some flaked with dried blood. She checked the nook of a shelf on the way to the pharmacy. Vermin squeaked, scurried, then scattered.

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