On Writing

  • After the Fall: Excerpt 5

    October 30, 2014

    He couldn't make out what he was seeing. There was what, a mountain lion, maybe a tiger. He scrunched up his eyebrows and leaned forward in his seat. Some animal was digging its head in through a crashed car at the intersection by the university. The beast’s shoulders were higher than the car, and it had its head down, rummaging through the driver side window.

    ‟Wait, how big is...” Vance's eyes went big and he leaned forward even more. That thing was bigger than the car. As he leaned forward, his left hand brushed too high on the steering wheel, hitting the horn.

    ‟Fuck, fuck,” Vance said, pulling back, spooking himself with the horn. He looked back up the street, meeting the gaze of the beast. He locked eyes with it, but he reassured himself it couldn't possible see him. He took a slow steady breath, once again reaching down to put the car in reverse. As he shifted, he saw the beast start striding down toward him, it's blackish orange mottled coat rippling over its muscled sleek body.

    ‟Bullshit, fucking bullshit,” Vance stammered as he pressed down on the gas, looking over his shoulder as he made his way back down the street. He looked back to see the bounding animal had already halved the distance. Vance wrenched on the steering wheel as he pressed on the gas, trying to fishtail the car around like he'd seen in so many movies. Instead he slammed the car into a sidewalk, upending the back of the car over a parking lot curb. He put the car in drive and slammed on the gas, but the back wheels were up off the ground, caught on the curb of the parking lot. He heard a guttural roar and looked back, the beast mere yards from the car. He was fumbling with his seatbelt when the creature broadsided the car.

    In his panic, he fumbled with the seatbelt, which probably saved his life. The car went up on its side and over. Vance screamed. He felt his body strain against the belt as the car lurched, but he stayed in place. He felt the airbag briefly hit his head before the car went over. Cd cases and change fell to the ceiling, and he put his hands up to brace against the top. He heard the beast roar again, prodding the side of the car with its head, pushing the car across the parking lot. Vance reached up again, this time finding the release on the seat belt. He pushed and quickly used his hands to catch himself, falling onto his side. The scrapping of the car's roof against the pavement echoed around him. He looked to his left out the passenger window and say the beasts maw, its teeth gnashing as it continued to head-butt the car.

  • After the Fall: Excerpt 4

    October 23, 2014

    He paused, shaking his head, then walked back to where he was replacing the lights with Kelly. He hadn't noticed it at first, he'd been too distracted, but he saw them now. From under the pile of dust he saw Kelly's converse peeking out, her black work pants, the green uniform tee. He started to walk toward the pile, then stopped himself. He didn't want to know what she'd worn under her outfit. He felt sick again. He turned back to the front of the store, reaching into his pocket and taking out his cell phone. He wasn't getting any bars, so he walked back outside, but it didn't improve. He checked the line anyway, but couldn't send a message. He tried texting his buddy Chris, but that failed as well. He went back inside again, walking over to the checkout and kneeling down, going through the pants pockets of the two women, then checking their purses, finding their cell phones. Both signals dead as well. He got up and ran back to the office. He saw Gorgeous's pink studded collar sticking out from a little pyramid of dust next to the desk. He picked the phone up and nearly cried when he got a dial tone. He called up Chris again, but the number was not in service. He tried his parents next, but got the same result. He tried three more friends before he stopped, then realized he didn't know anyone that didn't use a cell phone.

    ‟Fuck it,” he said to no one in particular as he dialed 9-1-1. The line rang, but no one answered. He let the phone dangle from its cord as he stopped moving and sat down in Mr. Yorken's office recliner. He thought he was going crazy. He pinched himself a few times to make sure he was not dreaming. He could not concentrate. The dust pile of Gorgeous was creeping him out, that little golden heart with the engraved name poking out from the pile.

    He went back outside, walking out to his car in the parking lot. Employees had to park in back, so thankfully no one had hit his car. He climbed into his beat up red cavalier, and let out a sigh of relief as the engine started up. The radio was nothing but static, but that was the least of his worries at the moment. He put the car in reverse, and then took a right, heading for home.

    For once, Vance was glad he worked a Saturday morning shift. The streets were relatively free of cars. He saw the occasional accident, a car crashed into a guardrail, or into a tree. The worst were the cars that had gone off the road completely, smashing into the front of someone's house. Traffic lights still seemed to be working. He stopped at the first one, before he realized there was no point, and began cruising slowly through the empty streets. He kept to the speed limits, simply to be able to avoid any obstacles that cropped up. As he made downtown, he had to take a detour where a firetruck had somehow overturned, blocking the street he needed to take. He started up the side street when he came to a stop, following the view up to the end of the street that dead ended into the university.

  • After the Fall: Excerpt 3

    October 16, 2014

    Then, from outside, he heard several large crashing noises. It caught him off guard, spooking him a bit, causing him to slip from the ladder, managing to land on his feet, but slipping on a coating of granular dust on the floor, falling back and partially catching himself on his hands.

    He winced, rubbing his elbows from the jolt, quickly getting up and running around to the front of the store. Car alarms were going off as he cleared the entrance. He saw cars crashed into the parking lot, a few collisions in the street, and other cars stopped dead in the road. But no people. The cars looked unattended. There were no screams of help. No one injured. No one anywhere. A grey haze filled his field of vision, one he thought a dust storm must look like.

    ‟What the fuck,” Vance slowly mouthed to himself, staring out into the street. He felt a shiver and turned back into the store, pulling the door shut behind him.

    ‟Kelly! Mr. Yorken! Eliot! Mrs. Yorken,” he called out, then stopped short, looking at the checkout aisle where the two women had been standing. He felt bile rise up in his chest, then braced against the door as he leaned over and upheaved the content of his stomach. A trail of spittle dripped out of his mouth before clinging to his chin, which he wiped away , then panicked as he saw he still had the grey grains on his hand. He smacked them off on his pants, kicking his legs and stomping his feet and smacking at his shirt and pants, knocking the grains from his clothes.

    He then looked back to the checkout aisle. Amongst the piles of grains on the floor, he saw clothes. The shirts and shorts and shoes one of the girls was wearing, piled hastily on top of one another like someone getting undressed in a hurry. He stepped slowly, spotting another pile next to it, matching what the other woman was wearing. He peered closer, noting a lime green bra and thong under one of the shirts. He backed away from the piles, walking around the counter, seeing a cashier's apron and a pair of jeans and a button down flannel that looked like what Eliot showed up to work in this morning.

  • Content Changes

    October 15, 2014

    Alright, so I’m winding down on digging into the World of Grey we see presented in Fallen Throne. I’ve gone through the writing process, the places, the characters. I might do write ups on some of the more minor characters, or on some of the cities, but I’ll save that for another time.

    What I am going to start doing is posting some of my other writing projects. Some will be unfinished. Some abandoned. I want to keep providing content for people to read, to keep up on my week to week progress. I’ll start next week with the first page of a story I was writing called “After the Fall” about four people who survive a world ending event, and are bestowed with weird powers. As far as they know, they are the only survivors, besides some unnatural animals that have sprung up. But they all have a mysterious calling, an ruing to travel to the west coast.

    I also have some side stories I want to tell. Stories about Jenner that take place before Fallen Throne. Stores about Colette. The origin of how Havelin and Umbrunzwe met. Nothing particularly long, maybe just some short stories.

    And lastly, the next book in the World of Grey series is coming along well. I’m a little ever a hundred pages in at this point, and plan to keep plugging away. I’m not sure if I’ll lend any insight into that story until its ready, as I like to keep it a surprise.

    So I’ll see everyone next week, with the start of my side project, “After the Fall.”

  • Building Grey: Races

    October 13, 2014

    I was reading a thread on reddit where someone was asking who to make the races of the campaign world they created feel unique, as all his ideas kept feeling recycled from other stories. I gave some tips on making the history of your world first, and then try to shape your races from those historical events. But something occurred to me while I was putting my post together.

    I love fantasy. I basically learned to read from old TSR forgotten realms novels, which was bread and butter elves, dwarves, orcs, halflings, etc. You couldn't throw a stone without hitting a demi-human race. They had long storied histories and age old conflicts. They paid homage to folklore, and Lord of the Rings.

    However, it didn't occur to me until I finished writing that reply, that I hadn't really placed any within the World of Grey. At least, not on the main continent on which Fallen Throne takes place. There are different races of humans, and the Dark Fey are the closest to another civilization, but they are still monsters at best. No dwarven warriors, elven archers, smallfolk thieves. It was never even a topic I discussed or plotted out.

    There's nothing wrong with fantasy races. I spent plenty of my formative years pretending to be them while rolling dice across the floor in grade school. But I felt like the story I wanted to tell did not need them. It was already a tale full of interesting individuals, magic and adventure. I did not need to add depth or complexity for complexity's sake.

    Whether you're writing age old tales or science fiction of tomorrow, make sure to think about what adding a particular race brings to your tale. Don't think you need to add it because that's what all fantasy novels do. Just make sure it feels natural, and that they are there because they are meant to be there, not because you feel they're supposed to be there.

  • Character Study: Aerika DuBay

    October 10, 2014

    Today brings us to the boisterous, short, temperamental, blue-eyed, blonde-haired protagonist of Fallen Throne. I honestly never thought much about her natural hair color, since it’s perpetually being dyed a rainbow of colors, but I have always felt she is a blonde at heart, or at least at her roots.

    Aerika has been a bit spoiled most of her life. Her mother wanted to groom her to be wife, to act helpless and require a man’s help, in order to catch a husband and live her days being taken care of. Her mother did not quite make that for herself, she felt Aerika could do better. So Aerika still has a lot of growing up to do, more reacting to her circumstances than controlling them.

    While appearing to the audience as a damsel in distress, there are great and terrible things in store for the eldest Dubay daughter. She has not found herself when we meet her, and she is still finding herself out by the end. However, the Aerika you meet in the next book will be quite a different girl than the one running around Fallen Throne.

    And then there is her unusual talent. I did not want her to be a majere. While I like the presence of magic, I feel it becomes too much of a crutch, as it can do anything. Even though Aerika has the potential for great power, it still appears to have limits. And I also wanted it to be something that came from within her, that she learned and practiced. She does not yet fully understand the extent of her powers, and as such, sees them more of a compliment to her fighting skills than a main form of offense or defense.

    Aerika is a bit of a knowledge sponge once Khristian shows her the world outside of how her mother raised her, and she’s only going to get more hungry as she sees more of it.

  • After the Fall: Excerpt 2

    October 9, 2014

    ‟Vance, so help me if you drop this on my head I will kill you assuming I don't bleed to death from all the shards,” Kelly said again, prodding Vance's hand with one end of the tube.

    ‟Whatever you say sweetie, Vance said, flashing her a pearly white smile and batting his baby blue eyes at her.” Kelly smirked, then sighed.

    ‟I already told ya, you're too young for me,” Kelly said, poking him in the ribs with the tube, scolding him.

    ‟Too old, we're the same age.”

    ‟Yeah, but you're a sophomore, and I'm senior. I can't help it if you're a little dim,” she grinned.

    ‟Oh my god, how many times have I told you. I didn't fail. I was out the entire semester with two broken legs.”

    ‟I'm not dating a sophomore, Vance.”

    ‟It's cool, it's cool. I know you're just intimidated by my youthful Brad Pitt-esque good looks,” Vance said, finally taking the tube from Kelly as he lifted it up above him, fitting one end into the fixture in the ceiling.

    ‟Brad Pitt? Lol, more like a skinnier Jonah Hill. But less funny.”

    ‟Um, thanks, maybe?” Vance said, shaking his head, snapping the tube into place. He then reached his right hand back for the next tube.

    ‟Any day Kelly, you were the one in a hurry,” Vance said, shaking his hand a bit.

    ‟Kelly, what are you doing,” Vance said, feeling a shower of something pelt his legs and lower back, like a gust of wind blowing up sand at the beach. He was further confused when he heard a sound like someone upending bags of salt all over the store. He looked around to see a white grey haze fill up the store aisles and around the checkout. Then he did a double take, scanning the aisles, looking to the checkout, then back to the deli, then down to where Kelly had been standing a second ago. Everyone was gone. The talking had ceased. The steady cadence of the meat slicer had stopped. And he no longer heard the terrier yapping away in the office. The only noise he could hear was the hum of the overhead lights.

  • Building Grey: Writing Again, Part 3

    October 8, 2014

    So, what I’ve been telling, my journey from starting my first book to putting the finishing touches on my digital releases, was for a reason. In all this time, I have been doing lot of polishing and promoting of my first book, but I had yet to sit down and start writing the second.

    For a while, I was just so busy with editing and learning the aspects of trimming my work down, and figuring out the ins and outs of formatting. Then I told myself I might not write a second book, if the first one never got off the ground. I think part of it was, the first book, I pretty book had written in my head, and I just needed to get it on the page. The second book was just a rough outline, and the third book is little more than a summary.

    Full disclosure, i have 9 to 5 five days a week job. Writing has been my hobby. I also maintain a pathfinder roleplaying game, like to watch TV and play video games, and hang out with my friends. I do all that, and made time to continually clean up and tweak Fallen Throne. It was hard to motivate myself to also flesh out and start writing book two.

    But, i’m here today to announce that”s exactly what i’ve done. I’ve been chipping away for the past three weeks, and while rough, it”s a great feeling to be back at it. I’m getting the band back together.

  • Building Grey: Writing Again, Part 2

    October 6, 2014

    So last time I had just described what I spent three years doing after I had written Fallen Throne. Along the way, everyone kept telling me I should publish digitally. I would hear things like, “Oh, it’s easy” or “Writers really hold all the cards these days” or “Everything’s going digitally anyway” and other similar suggestions.

    The first goal was to convert the story to a format that could be uploaded for digital conversion. I had written Fallen Throne on OpenOffice, and ran into a little bit of a problem. The commas and quotes didn’t seem to translate well, or paragraph indents didn’t always indent. I had just used line breaks between chapters instead of page breaks. I basically had to go through the entire story again for digital conversion edits. Even after, I would have to upload the story to a preview mode and double check.

    Next was trying to find the right approach to monetize my book. I wasn’t confidant enough to throw up everything at once. Plus, I hadn’t really done any kind of promotion. I hadn’t made any social media pages yet, I hadn’t been spreading word of mouth, and I didn’t have a website. If I put it all out there like that, I knew it would go nowhere.

    You see, while people say getting published digitally is easy, what I found was that’s probably the least important job of a publisher. Promotion and spreading the word about your book is what a publisher is really doing for you. I love writing, but I’m not an advertiser or marketing strategist. I was always more of a spectator on Facebook and never even used twitter, outside of redeeming some freebie in a game or monitoring contests.

    Know that when you self publish, you take on every role. You can no longer be just a writer. After much thought, I decided breaking my book up into four parts, and selling it over the course of a year would be my best bet. I felt comfortable charging that magical 99 cents that seems to be the go to price for digital goods, it would give me time to promote each part, and build interest, and it gave me time to work on side projects like social media pages and a website, so I could build a history.

    Wow, five more paragraphs, and I’m still not done getting to the end of my tale. I look back and the time I spent constructing the finished novel seemed to fly by, but by my own account, that’s clearly not the case.

    This article will conclude next week, so stay tuned, fans.

  • Building Grey: Writing Again, Part 1

    October 3, 2014

    It took nearly two years to write Fallen Throne. For the better part of 11 months, I wrote 5-10 pages a day 6 days a week. Then I went through a move and some writer’s block and it took nearly that same amount of time to get the last few chapters done.

    Then I spent about a year editing. Well, that’s not entirely true. I printed out 20+ copies to give to various people to read and get feedback on, and took 6 months off to forget about my book. Then I came back and spent 6 months editing and reflecting on the feedback I got back from the people that managed to finish. It was about 1 in 5.

    I always thought writing the story was the challenge, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Writing the story was a walk in the park, compared to the challenges I faced trying to get published. I wasted the first 8 months or so following the request most agents and publishers had, of not submitting to multiple people at a time. To wait until I heard back from one before sending out to another.

    By my tenth or twelfth rejection, I felt like it was taking forever, so I said the hell with it, and just started sending out 5 submissions a week. I figured the odds of getting 2 people that were legitimately interested at the same time were probably slightly better odds than winning the lottery. This went on for another year. I finally decided I might have to pursue other routes for publication.

    And again, I find myself at many paragraphs, and nowhere near the end of this story, so I’m going to break it here, and save the rest for next time.

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