Note: Pages one and two were posted last month and can be acccessed by clicking on the September blog archives, on the right. Or you can catch up (and get ahead) on my website,, where I've recently posted all of chapter one. (Or buy the book at :) )

UNDERDEAD is a lighthearted vampire mystery about middle school science teacher Jo Gartner who is bitten by an inept vampire and becomes not undead but UNDERDEAD--all the problems, none of the perks. It's the first night of Christmas vacation and while Jo would like to be at home spending a well-deserved night vegging on the couch, she's at a restaurant suffering through the science department Christmas dinner. Her two best friends at work, Becky and Carol, are making the evening easier to bear. Sort of.

Here's Chapter one, page three of UNDERDEAD:

“No, Becky’s right,” Carol said, eyeing my outfit. “What you’re wearing now really is much more age-appropriate. Not that I blame you.” She smiled. “I did the same thing when I was your age.”

I was trying to work out if she was on my side or Becky’s, when Becky attacked my hair. Literally. “Ouch!” I cried, slapping her hand away.

“And what’s with the granny bun all the time, for crying out loud?” She examined the bobby pin she’d taken from my hair as if it were a rare artifact. “I’d kill for hair like yours, and you hide it away.”

I glared at her and rubbed the tender spot on my scalp. “I wear it up because it gets in the way and tickles my face. But I’ll wear it down for you tonight. Happy?” I pulled out the rest of the pins and thick red-gold waves tumbled to the middle of my back. I pretended not to notice as midway up the table, Bob stopped talking sports with Kendra long enough to watch my unintentional imitation of a shampoo commercial. According to the students, Bob’s the reigning HTOC (Hot Teacher On Campus). I suppose he’s attractive, if you like the beefy football player type. I didn’t.

Becky said, “Let me take you shopping and then I’ll be happy.”

I held out my hand for my hairpin.

“All right.” She sighed and handed it back. “It’s Christmas. I’ll back off. For now. Will that do?”

“Fine.” I said it to keep the peace, but there was no way I was ever going shopping with her. My goal at work was to be inconspicuous. I didn’t think I’d help the cause by bearing my midriff or whatever was in fashion just now. As a five-foot-ten redhead, I had a hard enough time as it was. You can probably guess what my nickname was growing up. No, not Ariel of The Little Mermaid fame. Think more vegetable. And, though my mother says my eyes are a romantic green, they look like plain old hazel to me. So, in sum, giant, hazel-eyed carrot.

Becky reached for the nearly empty margarita pitcher and snuck a glance behind me as she topped off our glasses. “Hot man, still heating up the room, still checking you out.”

“Still not looking.” I slumped further in my chair. If I sank any lower, I’d be under the table.

“Besides, what happened to waiting until Roger goes home before starting the real party?” I said, trying to put her off before she did something awful, like wave him over to join us.
Becky opened her mouth to object, but I cut her off. “I’m not about to willingly provide fodder for the Bayshore gossip hotline.”
That at least was true. Schools are gossip pits without equal. If I showed any interest in a man, and I mean the slightest bit, the rumor mill would have us engaged by the time school started up again. It’s like that children’s game “telephone”. But instead of a phrase getting humorously distorted as it passes from person to person—Jo met a man; Jo met a can; Jo ate a can—the story gets cruelly embellished on each pass—Jo met a man; Jo and a man were holding hands; Jo and a man were making out in the parking lot; Jo and a man were buck-naked in the backseat of a Porsche having wild sex that’s banned in ten states.


Read page four of UNDERDEAD next Sunday, October 14. I'll also be blogging on food. (And getting crumbs on my keyboard.)