Monday, May 31, 2010

You can't call them Zombies!

*I want to apologize at the length of this section. I didn't want to break it up without a place to leave a choice.*

Sitting on the bed Kyle listened to the floorboards creaked and groaned as the woman moved around downstairs. His mind raced trying to come up with a plan of escape. Cracking his knuckles he looked around the room. The teddy bears lining the walls stared at him, their beady eyes picking at his mind, trying to figure him out. A gunshot rung out in the distance, followed by two more. It didn’t sound too far, but he couldn’t tell for sure.

He hurried to the window and looked out. Below them in the streets creatures shuffled around like animals. No growling for the first time and Kyle wasn’t sure why. They seemed at peace as they moved down the deserted street. Not a single one even turned toward the house he occupied.

A knock at the door froze Kyle.

“Kyle?” Anna asked as she opened the door.

He let out a sigh and walked toward her. “You okay?”

“No.” Something’s wrong here. The room I was in was decorated for a girl. Frilly sheets and everything.”

“I know, look at this place.” He said sweeping his hand across the room.

“Kids!” The woman called up. “It’s time for bed.”

They both looked outside. The sun still high in the sky. It had to be no later than noon. When they both turned to each other they had the same look, time to leave.

“How do you want to do this?” She asked him moving away from the door as the woman plodded up the steps.

“Kids?”

Kyle braced himself as the doorknob turned.

The door opened and the woman stood in the opening. Her eyes squinted in anger. “What are you two doing in the same room? You know that isn’t allowed. There is no fornicating here.”

Kyle glared at her.

“We weren’t going to do anything, we were just talking.”

“That’s what she said last time.” The woman moved forward with uncanny speed and grabbed Anna’s arm. She pulled Anna close and screamed in her face. “Then you are going to tell me that my wonderful boy got you knocked up. You skanks are always the same.”

Anna tugged against the woman, but her frail body seemed like a vice.

Shaking out of his shock by her speed, Kyle tried to pry the woman’s hands off of Anna.

“Son. Don’t do this. You don’t know what you are doing. This woman is a harlot.” The woman screamed at him. Hot saliva smacking Kyle in the face. Veins bulged at her temples, her breathing sped up and she released Anna.

Anna tumbled against the dresser, knocking the lamp crashing to the floor. She shrieked.

Still flailing, the woman slapped and scratched Kyle across the face. He recoiled and the woman lunged at him. She attacked more relentless than any of the creatures that Kyle had faced. Her nails lashing him numerous times, stinging cuts sprung up. His terror slowly turned to anger as he shoved the woman off of him. She tripped and fell on her butt.

“Tommy, what are you doing?” The woman asked, confusion and sadness lingered in her eyes.

“Who’s Tommy?” Anna asked.

The woman didn’t look at Anna but started to get up. “Tommy, don’t you leave your mommy like this. I love you.”

Unsure of what game she was playing, he stood his ground as she straightened up. The anger had completely faded from her face. Her hair had dropped around her face, framing it like a lion’s mane. She reached out for Kyle. “Tommy. Please don’t leave me again. You’ve been gone so long. I will make your favorite dinner.”

Kyle looked to Anna for help, but she didn’t have any. This crazy woman had turned into a completely different one. The woman’s cold hands caressed Kyle’s face as she cried. “Tommy, will you stay please.”

Kyle nodded and stepped back. “Sure thing Mama.” Hoping to play along to get her to go away.

A grin spread across the woman’s face, her yellow, decaying teeth shining out behind her thin lips. “Thank you. Now will you go say hi to your sister, she’s been wanting to see you since you came home.”

Kyle took the woman’s hand into his. “Where is she?”

“In her room at the end of the hall.” The woman said and began to leave the room. “I’ll show you. Come on.”

Kyle turned to Anna and mouthed. “Get out while I have her distracted.”

Anna shook her head.

“Now.”

The woman turned to Kyle. “Excuse me?”

“Nothing Mama.” He lied and followed her down the hall. At the door, he looked back to the room, and Anna had begun to sneak down the steps. Good.

The woman opened the door for Kyle and the smell almost knocked him out as it slammed him in the face. Before this nightmare had begun he wouldn’t have known what it was. Now he knew for sure. Death.

“Come on Tommy. She’s looking forward to seeing you again.” The woman clutched his hand tight and led him inside.

His eyes and nose revolted and began to run. He wished he could join them, but needed to buy Anna some time.

The room was a typical teenager room of the 80’s. Posters of rock bands lined the walls. A mirror was covered in yellowing pictures of her friends during the time period. The bed was neatly done, like it was made every day. In the corner of the room, looking out the window was a girl, or used to be at least. Her hair has mostly fallen out, leaving only small patches of brown. Her once fair skin had turned to wrinkled, brown sludge.

The woman approached the chair. “Ginger, Tommy’s back.” She turned the chair toward

Kyle and his face must have turned clear as he couldn’t believe what he saw. It was worse than any of the creatures. This girl had been dead for at least a year, maybe more. Her eye sockets were empty, where her lips used to be was a crooked line of lipstick. A golden chain with a cross slid around the decayed flesh. The only thing that moved on her was her snapping jaw.

If Kyle could have bolted he would have, but the woman watched him with a keen eye. He only had to buy a few minutes. “Hi sis.”

The girl snapped at him. When she moved, her silk dress, maybe a prom dress, made a sickening slurping sound like wet paper slapping against wood. She couldn’t see him, otherwise he would have ran. He followed the gaze down to floor and noticed that the girl’s legs were missing.

“What happened to you sis, you used to be such a great dancer.” Kyle’s mind raced for any sort of escape.

“Tommy don’t be rude. You remember the accident.”

Kyle searched the room for an answer and saw it. A newspaper dated last year. He remembered the story. A young girl was going to prom with her drunken boyfriend and they got in an accident, flipping the car into a creek. The boyfriend lived, but the girl died because her legs were pinned underneath the car. She drowned. They assumed because the body vanished before the autopsy could be performed.

Kyle looked at the woman and took a shaky step backwards. “Mama, I’m going to go grab a snack, so me and Ginger can catch up, you mind?”

The woman grinned, oblivious to Kyle as he turned to leave. She played with the girl’s brown tuffs of hair.

Kyle snuck down the hall until he reached the steps then bolted down them in a hurry. He reached the bottom of the steps only to find Anna standing by the door. As he turned the corner, he had begun to ask her what was going on, but found the man had his rifle aimed at her. He hadn’t noticed him yet.

What should Kyle do?

Resources for Agents

Since I'm still in the pursuing stage of searching for an agent, I wanted to post a couple sites that I use on a regular basis.

Querytracker.net - Great source for agent information, as well as an awesome tracker to keep track of how many agents you have contacted and their responses. This site also has a wonderful forum that you can become part of where like-minded writers can help you keep mentally sane while you are pursuing the agents. Also there is a yearly fee if you want to, which gives you access to further tools to make the search more organized and provide you with more information you've built up.

Agentquery.com - Another great reliable source of agent information. I use this site to cross reference the information between the agent's website (Which is the most important place to check) with Querytracker and here to know the most up to date information. If it varies at all, trust the agent's website first though. This site also has a section where you can set up critique groups for your writing, as well as other discussion groups using the AQ Connect feature which is free.

So these two site are ones that I frequent and think you should too.

Beginner Poker strategy

So I haven't done a poker related post in a bit, so I wanted to share some basics for those of you that play. Mainly because I would love for my wife, who reads this to maybe pick up on the game more than just watching me.

Starting hands:
When you are first starting you want to stick with the top ten, may fifteen hands. These hands have better odds than the others. The odds maybe be better at the start, but once the flop comes out, it's a whole different story. So just for your information as a beginner the hands you want to play in order are:

1. A,A
2. K,K
3. Q,Q
4. J,J
5. A,K (Suited)
6. 10,10
7. A,Q (Suited)
8. A,J (Suited)
9. A,K
10. K,Q (Suited)
11. A,10 (Suited)
12. K,J (Suited)
13. A,Q
14. 9,9
15. Q,J (Suited)

So there you go, it's usually a good bet that this hands could start you off on the right foot. Now if I get some good comments, I might start a weekly poker post with more strategies.

Why do you do what you do?

So I was working on my newest project this week and was focusing on the motivation behind the characters. See my main character has two motivations, to keep the girl safe, and also to find out who is behind this mess.

My antagonist have the single motivation of power, by means of the girl.

Now the fun part in this is that it sets itself up perfectly for conflict. The antagonist wants what the hero has, so they clash just on their driving forces. Now this leaves the girl as a sort of rope in a big battle of tug of war, so I had to really want to get down to what her motivation was. Staying alive is real enough, but not very original, so I added in the desire to find the truth and begin to trust someone fully, because that's what I think is a better motivator.

So when you sit down and write, do you know your characters motivations and goals from the start. I have to admit for the above, I knew my hero's and antagonists, but the story wasn't full until I realized that the girl had some too. So it's fleshed out the story, made it three dimensional so to speak.

What are some of your favorite character motivations?

Curious George 2 Review

So over the three day weekend, my son was introduced to this famous little monkey in the form of Curious George 2. No to say that my son's nickname was monkey to begin with was expanded upon by the fact that he made monkey sounds every time this George on the screen. This was very cute, as well as comical because it was like pseudo Surround Sound. Now it got me to thinking I remember reading the Curious George books when I was younger and loving them, so I've gone full circle with my son. Pretty cool.

So let me just say that this movie was pretty good and true to the concept. I did enjoy the story for the most part, but I think it holds a special place because of my son's reaction. It's a similar thing with my daughter and Enchanted. So if you have a little monkey crawling around your house, give this movie a shot, he/she might just help you recall the innocence that is Curiosity.

Monday, May 24, 2010

You can't call them Zombies!

Standing in the middle of the yard, his legs riveted to the ground, his hand tight around Anna’s arm, Kyle contemplates the options before him as he stares down the barrel of the rifle. The old man’s eyes staring him down, growls rising up in the distance. The man doesn’t flinch, he seems to be battle worn, or really prepared for this nightmare.

“Kyle, come on, don’t be like that. He can help us.” Anna pleaded with him.

Prying his eyes from the man he looked at Anna. She grimaced as he lowered his head. He was so hard headed. “Fine.”

“Okay.” The man’s tone remained stiff, but he lowered the rifle. “Before I can let you in, strip down to your underwear. Can’t take the chance.”

Anna slipped out of her sweatshirt and t-shirt in an instant. The old man’s eyes widened at the sight of her chest bouncing from her breath. Kyle tried to stop her, but she had her jeans off a moment later. She stood in the brisk morning air in her bra and panties before an old man who stood leering at her.

She didn’t seem to mind, but Kyle’s cheeks blazed as the man nodded.

“Now you kid.”

Kyle didn’t move. He knew he wasn’t bitten, but didn’t want to start and more trouble so he undressed before the perverted old man. After making them turn in the grass, the man said, “Good, grab your clothes and get inside. My wife should have some food ready about now.”

Anna didn’t look at Kyle as they dressed. He fumed and stormed up the steps behind the man as they entered the house. Anna tried to speak, but a growl from somewhere nearby shut the words off before they left her lips.

The smoky smell of bacon made them both forget about their dire situation. They strolled through the living room without even noticing the d├ęcor. The bright lights of the kitchen blinded Kyle as he stopped before a woman dressed in a nice sun dress. She smiled at him like his mother used to and offered him a seat. Anna sat down before Kyle could adjust to the sight.

The old man set his rifle up against the fridge and kissed his wife adding a squeeze of her butt as he moved past her. She giggled like a school girl and turned her attention back to the stove.

Popping and sizzling of bacon filled the kitchen. Pancakes cooked on another carefully tended skillet and on the third one was a pan full of scrambled eggs. The woman moved with expertise that neither Kyle nor Anna has ever witnessed in their life.

Kyle looked at the man, who stared at them, a slight grin on the end of his lips. “So how did you two get out of the city?”

“Luckily. It was crazy and we barely made it out.” Anna blurted out.

“No talking about that in here.” The woman scolded the man.

He nodded.

The woman served up the breakfasts with expertise that only a waitress of many years experience would be able to manage. She handled all three of the places with one arm, poured the juice with the other and they had their food in front of them, just as they liked it.

Anna didn’t eat immediately, and looked to the old man for confirmation that it was okay.

Kyle dropped his fork and then noticed the tears in Anna’s eyes. She didn’t wipe them away as they ran down her cheek dropping into her eggs.

“Eat up.” The woman said and sat down with only a cup of coffee. She took a sip and stared at Kyle. Her eyes didn’t leave him as she took another sip, her eyes clouding with the steam. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing it smells great.” Despite not eating for however many hours, Kyle’s appetite faded at the sight of the woman. No one ate and the silence grew thicker.

“Help yourself.” The old man said a moment later and took a tentative bite of his bacon.

As if the floodgates opened, Anna started to eat and she devoured it like a vacuum. He had never seen her eat so fast.

Still the woman stared at Kyle, sipping her coffee.

Kyle picked up his fork and it jittered in the air as he took a bite of the eggs. They were good, about as good as his mom used to make. As the first bite slid down his throat, his appetite returned and he finished the rest of the food.

As soon as the breakfast was over, with the woman not saying another word throughout the meal, Kyle thanked her and turned to Anna. “You wanna get going?”

“No. I want to sleep here. I feel safe.”

“You two are welcome to stay for as long as you want. Or until this mess is over.” The woman said.

The man nodded and kissed his wife’s cheek. “I’m going to go out and check the traps.”

She patted his hand and smiled. “I’ll get the kids settled for bed. They look exhausted.”

With that the woman helped them up the stairs to a bedroom upstairs. He stopped at the sight. The room was decorated for a child. Blue wallpaper with Teddy Bears running throughout the pattern. The small twin bed was neat and matching Teddy Bear sat next to the pillow, waiting for a child that wouldn’t be returning. The woman stood next to him as he took in the room.

“We’ve been waiting for you to return Michael. I am so happy you came home.” The woman said as she left.

Kyle didn’t say a word, but looked back at Anna who the woman led to another room across the hall. Something was definitely wrong with the woman.

What should Kyle do?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

A split vote

So this is a first. The poll of my choose your own adventure was even with 2 votes. I flipped a coin and the part that won was to stay there. So look for the newest part on Monday.

What do you think so far?

So I've been doing this blog for almost 6 months now and wanted to hear from you.

What do you like about the blog?
What don't you like about the blog?
Do I ramble too much, or not enough?
Do I keep it on topic, and relevant to what you are looking for?
What are some subjects that I haven't covered that you would like me to?
Would it work better if I posted less, or more?
The Choose your own adventure, do you care for it, or do you think it is a waste of a day?
Should I focus it more on writing, or still move around between writing, poker, movies, etc.?

Here is your chance to really let me know how its going, and I want some feedback. Let me have it in the comments. No idea will be moderated, or deleted. You can cuss me out if you so please.

Taking feedback

So I've been doing this a long time now, I have to comment on how I receive feedback. I take it in stride, with the belief that they are trying to help me. I might be different in that I have a filter in place to not to take it personally. I know writer is personal and some take it that way, but I do this mainly for the fact that this way it doesn't make me want to quit.

I've gotten some harsh feedback when I was beginning and have to thank those that helped me back then. I have also gotten some feedback that I didn't agree with, and you have to be able to let it slide, otherwise it can fester, boil and bleed into your writing, and that won't help you, but hinder you in the end.

The key is trusting yourself. If you believe that your story is strong, that your characters are filled with flaws, and know where you want to take it, it will make it easier and more useful to receive feedback. Once you can allow yourself to see your own work objectively, is when you can really become better.

Status update of my WiP

So for those of you that are following along, my newest Work in Progress is flowing nicely. With the help of my critique group, I have really been motivated to drive forward. At first it was just a Nano piece, but now that I have spent sometime, I'm getting the same feeling I have for my other novel. My characters are alive, funny, and I like to hang out with them, even when they aren't doing what I want them to be doing.

So just wanted to update you on my current progress, the novel has added a chapter, setup the world better, and I think has a better twist into the meat of the story.

Alice in Wonderland Review

So I managed to see a copy of this movie this past weekend. I'm not a big fan of the original animated version nor numerous retelling of it, however this one enticed me to watch it because of the persuasive power of my wife. She's a big Johnny Depp fan and loves his work, especially along with Tim Burton.

My favorite thing about the movie was the role that Depp played. Very well done, however some of his motivations were hard for me to understand. Also his character, the Mad Hatter was crazy, and that is one of Depp's best moments. He was both comical, yet psychotic.

The set design which is Burton's calling card was top notch. Lots of colors, lots of fabulous costumes and quirky characters.

The thing that I think I didn't really care for and was a major reason that I found it boring was the lack of the magical moments. I don't know what to say, but maybe its just me, because the moment when Alice drinks the potion to shrink and eat the cake to grow just wasn't the same. Other scenes later on I didn't feel for similar reasons.

I'm not saying its not worth seeing if you are a fan of the original material as this one is a good telling of the story and the special effects were awesome, however, I just felt that it missed on some of the heartfelt moments that the first one had. I didn't really root for Alice to survive and want her to get out. So I give it a 2.5 out of 5.


Monday, May 17, 2010

You can't call them Zombies!

The fear seized him, tight around the chest, squeezing the air out of his chest. The thought of surrendering to the hordes appealed to him, but a small spark in the pit of his stomach kept fighting, yelling at him to get to his feet, and escape. The cold cement stung his skin as he hoisted Anna after him. She groaned, tugged against the handcuffs, but stopped at the sight of the creatures closing in on them.

His eyes watered at the putrid scent of decayed flesh. Muscles screamed at him to stop pushing his limits, but he continued, the creatures approaching, growling, dead-eyed and with a single purpose. To eat him and Anna.

Off of the cement and into the softer hillside, he yelled, “Anna go.”

Shoving her in the small of her back, she stumbled for a moment before regaining her balance. She turned to him, anger and hurt behind her tears. “I’m sorry for earlier.”

Kyle didn’t care, nor would he ever. The situation was different then. “Go. I’m right behind you.”

Backing up toward the hill, the creatures seemed to slow because of the change in his demeanor. He was angry and the steady gun in his hand showed that he wouldn’t go without a fight. It only lasted a moment before they charged, their collective growl vibrating in his ears.

He unloaded his clip, taking out the two creatures at the front of the pack. Their dead bodies slid in the dirt for a moment and then did what he hoped. The other creatures weren’t smart enough to step over them and tumbled down. Causing a back up as they struggled to get back up with more falling on top of them.

A lightness filled Kyle face and he smiled for the first time in a while. The sight of the once human beings tangled twenty feet in front of him like a pile of worms; he couldn’t stop the laugh from escaping his lips. “Take that.”

The gun now empty, he dropped it in the dirt and turned to run after Anna. He didn’t have to go far as she stood a few feet from where he shoved her. “I couldn’t.”

“Fine, then let’s go.” Kyle grabbed her hand and she intertwined her fingers around his. Together they jogged down the slight incline. For a moment, it brought back better memories of a time before all of this. One where he and Anna would go to the movies or dinner, or just hang out with friends. Now they feared that most of their friends were trying to eat them.

“Where are we going?” Anna asked when they were a good two hundred yards away from the creatures.

“I don’t know.” Kyle said. He had no plan, nor any destination. Just something away from the mess they were just in.

An occasional growl from the houses nearby kept them on their toes as they walked, but nothing approached them.

The sun had raised in the east enough to really show the carnage of the night and Kyle wished it would remain dark forever. Bugs were crawling over the remains of the creature’s meals along the street. Limbs were strewn about the street; some creatures were decaying on the side of the road where someone got lucky with a bullet.

The morning breeze kept the smell in their face as they searched for something to eat. Somewhere to rest and maybe some place to sleep. Both of them were exhausted and the slower pace proved it. Their adrenaline had left their bodies twitchy and high strung, nothing a good night’s sleep wouldn’t help with.

The next house, that looked relatively safe, one without any blood on the porch, they sat down on the steps. Anna leaned against him and a moment later was out. Her breathing steadied and he looked out over the street. Not a creature could be seen, but their destruction had been well documented.

His eyes lowered and he felt himself dozing off, but shook it off the moment his chin hit his chest. Shaking his head he looked around for a moment, but sleep took hold again.

A cough behind him, jolted Kyle out of his sleep and he faced the person who made the noise. A man, early forties, stood before them. His salt and pepper hair blowing in the breeze. His blue eyes were lively, the rifle in his hand even livelier.

“You two bitten?” The man asked aiming the gun at Kyle.

“No sir.” Anna spoke up first. “We’re just looking for a place to rest.”

The man looked over them for a moment, contemplating shooting them or something else. “You wanna come inside. I got food and a bed you two can use.”

Anna almost bolted inside, but Kyle kept her by his side with a tight grip of her hand.

What should Kyle do?

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Personal Blog reviews

A few weeks ago, I posted about some of the author blogs that I follow and read on a regular basis (can be found at:http://johnsankovich.blogspot.com/2010/04/blogs-im-following_9658.html), now I'm going to provide some reasons that I enjoy each one.

Weronika Janczuk: http://www.weronikajanczuk.com/
(I enjoy her blog because she is on the front lines, as a reader and as a fellow writer. Very insightful and informative regarding contest, and other goings on.)

(Her first blog is a collection of interesting blog posts around the globe, which are helpful, not always, but usually I will check out a few of them. The second blog is more about her writing and personal life. Some very nice insights into her process and fun things that pop up around the web.)

(She was the first blog I started following, and would be one of the last if they started to dry up because I love her sense of humor, her honesty, and following her journey to being published is very inspiring as well as humorous. She keeps it realz and awesomesauce, if she doesn't mind me taking her word. I've also got a soft spot in my writing life because she was one of the first beta readers of my first book and really got me to take my writing to the more professional level, while giving me a direction.)

(She is one of my fellow crit buddies who has gotten a lot busier as of late, but her blog is growing fast and I love her voice. Very informative and a great person.)

(If you are looking for ways to market yourself, your book or anything in between, this is the person to follow. She always has some awesome ideas, and keeps it very practical in regards to what is achievable. She's a marketing person in real life so she has the credential's to back it up.)

(Another beta reader that I started following. She's keeps it real, and is local to me. Her blog ranges from writing to personal at times, and I enjoy the voice she employs throughout it as she doesn't keep her opinion to herself and lets it out, very respectable.)

Suzette Saxton and Bethany Wiggins:http://suzettesaxton.blogspot.com/
(These two are probably the nicest people that I've never met. They always seem to have a positive outlook on subjects and seem to the front runners in a lot of events going on. If you have heard of something writer related going on, chances are they knew about it in advance and probably had a hand in making it a reality.)

(He is someone that has recently joined my critique group, as well as invited me to join his other crit group. Very straight forward and no none sense outlook on writing. I like his insights into his writing process as it differs from mine since its more analytical, and not as much emotional. Very cool read.)

(She's the newest blog that I follow, however, I like her voice and her cynical attitude to writing related things. She seems to say the things that most of us are feeling, but keeping hidden.)

(She's a medical mind and I have seen her blog morphing into a more mature blog over the past few weeks. I like the way that her blog is on a schedule so I know what to expect on each day before I click on it. I also know who to go to when it comes to any sort of psychiatric questions because she is working in the field.)

So this is my review of these blogs and am thankful for each and every one of them because they have opened my eyes to new things in the writing world. With them, I realize that writing might be solitary in creating, but doesn't have to be as such as you are part of something bigger even if you are just starting out, or been around the block a few times. Thank you all.

Other activities besides writing

So you know that I play poker, video games, read, and various other family oriented tasks when I'm not writing.

Now I want to know what you guys do when your not writing. What sort of things do you do to refresh those creative muscles? Garden? Jog? Eat a bucket of ice cream? Watch reality TV? This is me wanting to get to know you guys.

New Critique groups

So I have gotten into a new critique group, which is cool and all, but getting back into the flow of new people, some who have been working together before this group is a bit of a struggle. Reading the works of ten people can be difficult at times, good thing I have time at work on my lunch to do a critique or two.

I have noticed that my own writing time has dropped at times because I have a critique to get done and need to decide between writing that extra fifteen minutes or using that time to write out a critique, which can take longer, but both are important. I haven't quite got the balance I had in the past with writing and critiquing, because with a new son that I didn't have during my last big critiquing period time is cutting short. I can't believe it has been over a year since I had a very active critique group going.

What are some of your tips for working with a critique group? How do you manage that balance? I would love for anything to help.

Review of Android 2.1

So, I recently was able to get Android 2.1 installed on my phone. At first it doesn't seem like much. The way you unlock the screen is a bit different with a slide motion instead of a single push of menu. The layout with 3 home screens is the norm. The icons have a new look to them, which I like, more crisp, clear and I guess you could say, modern.

The main difference that I have noticed is battery life. It seems to last me almost 3 days on a single charge with moderate usage. I used to only get about a day and a half, so almost double which is amazing for a smart phone. Poor iPhone users I know can manage a day at most it seems even with moderate usage. Now I'm not a power user, and have my phone idle for most of the day while I'm at work, but still, 3 days is pretty good.

The other thing, which is the biggest thing for me is the increase in Apps for the store. A lot of the apps that I was reading about, or hearing about weren't on my old phone because of the older version. Now I have updated apps with features that take full advantage of my phone.

The one downside, that I had to go through is that it wiped my phone clean of any data I had on it, such as previous apps, so I haven't gotten all of my old ones back, but have gotten most. This was a bummer because I had some cool ones that I have forgotten the names of, so I need to try to remember, or will remember when I have a use for them.

Overall, I think this was a good update and recommend anyone that can should get it done ASAP.

Monday, May 10, 2010

You can't call them Zombies!

Feeling the anxiety grow with the other officers, he knew that this journey had taken a toll on them. They jumped at every little sound from the abandoned buildings. One officer opened fire on a shadow that moved weird, which got him chewed out by Officer Reynolds.

Something about wasting ammo or something, and the officer was left with only a baton for the remainder of the journey. It wouldn’t do him any good when they got to where they were going.

Cresting over the top of a hill, Reynolds seemed to get more fleet of foot as he led the way, but stopped and in the light from below, the blood drained from his face in an instant. Kyle even saw a quiver in his square chin.

The bright light came from the high school football stadium, but you couldn’t tell what it was, because the creatures had attacked and done so in such a fashion that the gates were bent over, pieces of decaying flesh stuck to links as they used their bodies to crush the fence.

Inside the field, many tents, which probably held injured and other officers alike were splattered with blood, limbs, and the occasional creature feasting on a poor soul. Kyle’s stomach churned as the stench reached all of them. Reynolds gripped his gun and turned to his men.

“We’re going down there to search for survivors.”

He wouldn’t get to finish as gun fire erupted behind them. The growls came in a large fast wave. Screams followed and Kyle rushed back to Anna. Her eyes were wide with terror as she shrunk against the back of the SWAT truck. Officers came running toward the commotion, but the creatures came out of the buildings like this was planned. Dozens poured upon the officers who tried to kill them, but for every officer there were ten of the creatures.

Kyle shot the chain connecting Anna to the SWAT truck and pulled her away from the oncoming swarm.

Reynolds saw him retreating, but couldn’t do anything as the swarm converged on him. He disappeared beneath the mass of decayed bodies, bones and tissue snapping just as he fired off his gun. The creatures kept coming and Kyle led Anna by the wrists. She stumbled over the curb and they both fell.

She pulled off her gag, tears streaking her face. “I can’t do it anymore.”

“Don’t be stupid. Come on.” Kyle grabbed the chain between the cuffs and dragged her onward. He saw a building in the corner where no creatures seemed to be coming from and his mind centered on that. The abandoned cars along the curb slowed the creatures down as they had to maneuver around and over them to get to the last remaining treats, Kyle and Anna.

With the early morning cold wind rising up, Kyle had to fight against the pain of his knuckles locking around the chain of the cuffs and pulling Anna behind him.

“Come on, we aren’t going to become their breakfast.” Kyle tugged and she fell again. He wanted to yell at her, but stopped as the creatures continued to rush. They were surrounding them like a well organized group. Stench filled breath and dead eyes fell upon Kyle and Anna.

Remembering that he had a gun, he started shooting at the nearest creatures. They went down momentarily as the bullets knocked them backward, but it didn’t kill them. It seemed to add to their desire.

All he could see were the creatures, as they came closer, growling and staring at them.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Poker and Writing

So for those of you that know me in the real world, you know that I enjoy poker and writing. So I wanted to tie these two things together, or at least how I see it.

Poker is a game of chance, odds, and a bit of luck. Writing is about creating a world with problems where your character must live and overcome these problems. Not to similar are they?

I think they are closer than you might see at first.

So even though I'm okay at poker, I think that I'm a pretty decent writer, at least worth of publication.

The most important thing in writing is making the characters believable and to do this your character has to gamble with something, see the poker relevance. Being a good liar is paramount to poker, because you want the people playing against you to believe you have something when you don't always have it. In writing you have to make your reader believe in the world you are creating, so that they can enjoy the tale you are weaving for them.

So your character has to take a chance, get outside of his comfort zone and rely on a bit of luck and hope the odds fall in their favor. (See how that ties to poker?) So by stacking the deck against the character, you are creating conflict, and drama, which is loved by readers. I think that the being able to tell a viable lie is what makes a good writer. Since you are making things up, just like you do in poker at times, the skill translates well to writing .

Maybe I'm just grasping at straws here and you can feel free to tell me in the comments, but there is some truth to it, I think...

Character Interviews?

So I've done one in the past. It was fun for me, but not sure if anyone else liked it.

What are some of the questions that you would ask your characters if you wanted to get to know them better?

Would you want to know more about their personal stuff, or more stuff oriented to the story you are telling?

I tend to do a bit of both, but focus more on the personal stuff, because that's what makes them easy to relate to. So some of the basic questions I ask my characters are:

How many siblings do you have?
What is your goal in life?
Who do you dislike/like the most?
What are most scared of?
What would you do if you were going to die in the next 24 hours?

What sort of questions do you like to know about your character before you get started? I'm curious, and I might post a question and answer to another one of my characters in the future.

Too busy to write?

So lately, I've been seeing a few of my writer friends having trouble doing the balancing act of writing, rewriting, and maintaining a normal life. Now I'm not going to say that it isn't hard, because I know. I only get a little time to write, and savor it because it's time for me to really enjoy myself. These people aren't going to quit writing all together, they just need to cut back on other things and focus on the most important thing, the writing. The story and your desire to tell it is what keeps most writers going. If that flame goes out, either by just not wanting to do it anymore, or time crushing it out, then you need to do what you need to do to keep it lit.

See, I have found that if I don't get to write during my normal times, I'm okay with that. It's not ideal, but it works because even though writing is important and I enjoy it immensely, sometimes other things come up. Being a writer is being flexible, being able to multi-task to the extreme, be two (or more) people at a time.

So for those of you having to cut back, do it. Your friends, both writer and non-writer will be waiting in the wings, and when the time comes that you have a success to share, we will be right there, rising from the shadows to cheer you on. Writing isn't the only thing in this world, it's just a small piece of it that we all enjoy.

Iron Man 2 Review

So for Mother's Day, my wife wanted to see Iron Man 2, so since it's her day, I said, heck yeah! I wanted to see it too.

So for those of you that didn't know, and if you are watching these movies, you probably did, but they are making an Avengers movie in 2012 which is tying Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, and Captain America movies together. This is important because of the links with the characters that carry over, and a few small fan service moments in the movie.

So the first thing that I'll mention of this movie was the visuals were spot on, they were great in the first one, and this one just built upon that.

I really like Robert Downey Jr in this role as he is perfect and comes across so arrogant that it is hard to see if he's acting or just being himself. The role that Mickey Rouke as the main antagonist was well done, and he just melds with each of his roles that it works perfectly. He can portray a psycho so well because he has that sinister half smile that can send chills down your spine.

The supporting actors Don Cheadle, Gwyneth Paltrow, Samuel L. Jackson and the others all did very well in their parts. I never really fell out of the moment of the story, which is crucial for a action story, because if they slip up, then you're out of the world which drags the movie down.

Since I don't like to ruin plots, I'm not going to say anything about it, except that it helps drive the character of Tony Stark to new levels, while slowly building toward the collaborative Avengers in a couple years.

One thing that sort of bugged me, but not as much as I expected, was the replacement of the actor who was Tony's friend, James Rhodes. I don't recall why they did the change, but honestly think that it wasn't needed. Don Cheadle did well in the role, but Terrance Howard did a great job as well.

Oh yeah, if you see it, wait until the end of the credits for a little bit of final fan service.

Monday, May 3, 2010

You can't call them Zombies!

It seemed like forever, the time dragged on, the darkness surrounding them from all sides. The creatures steady growl grew louder the further they moved into the city. Soon the houses that they had been walking by grew into small businesses.

Kyle’s legs grew heavy, his shoes scuffed along the pavement and sweat ran down his throbbing temples. The police officers were efficient, they took out every undead they ran across, mostly in groups of three or four, but one neared ten. The swat trunk moved at a quicker pace, and Anna tumbled to the ground a few moments later. It didn’t stop and drug her behind for a moment.

His chest filled with anger and he hurried to her side, letting her use his arms to get up with. She almost stumbled again and he caught her in the crook of his elbows. The officers saw this and moved toward them.

“Stay separated, or else.”

Kyle glared at the officer, unable to speak, but tried to make his intentions felt. The officer didn’t care and shoved them apart.

Pulling against the shackles proved useless and he almost stumbled as the chain yanked him with the truck. The officer smiled, and shook his head. Just as he did, a group of zombies, sprung out of a van they were passing. The officer vanished into a mist of blood, which coated Kyle and Anna torsos.

Her muffled screams shook the chains as she ran into Kyle. He tried to embrace her, but he didn’t have time. The creatures had started to swarm from the nearby buildings. The SWAT truck stopped, and the gunfight started. Creatures fell in droves, but they continued to pour out of the building. The group which came out of the van disintegrated in a flurry of bullets the moment the officer’s screams died down.

Kyle helped Anna up onto the back lip of the truck and out of the way. As he pulled himself up off of bloody cement, creatures came from another side. They took out a patrol car in a flood of growls. Blood painted the car red as the dwindling officers turned their attention to the new threat.

After about four dozen creatures were dispatched, the shooting stopped and Kyle pinned Anna to the wall of the van.

The commanding officer came around the side and looked at them. He smiled, the five o’clock shadow reflected in the flash lights on him. “What do you think you are doing?

Kyle tried to answer, but the gag chocked his words back and he coughed.

This made the officer smile broader; his teeth were coated in black stuff, a bit of the tobacco dribbled down his chin. He spit a large chunk of it to the ground. The sound stirred Kyle’s stomach for a moment.

“The kid wants to talk. Take his gag off.”

Two officers, their riot gear coated in blood and entrails, pulled Kyle off the truck and undid his gag. He grimaced, flexed his jaw and chomped twice. A loud satisfying pop rocked his mouth. He winced. “We’re not one of them. I want to help you guys.”

The officers standing behind him snickered, but stopped the moment the commanding officer turned his intense gaze on them.

“You wanna join us?” He scratched his chin. It sounded like sandpaper against his fingers.

“Yes.” Kyle didn’t care for the sir thing, but he kept his gaze on the commanding officer the best he could. “Looks like you lost some here.”

“Don’t these things scare you?” He asked.

“Yeah, who wouldn’t be?”

The commanding officer didn’t smile, his gaze roving over Kyle.

Kyle tried to hide the shiver that ran up his spine, but the commanding officer noticed. He turned to the officer’s behind Kyle. “Sure you seem to be up to the challenge. Unlock him.”

“And her too.” Kyle backed toward Anna.

“No. She’s a girl. We have other plans for her.” The officers laughed.

Anna shrunk a few inches against the truck.

“She’s my girlfriend. She can handle herself.”

“If you do well on the way to camp, we’ll see. Maybe you can get first dibs.” An evil gaze passed over the officer’s face.

Kyle couldn’t meet his hungry gaze and looked down at the officer’s badge. “Officer Reynolds”

He would learn to hate that name within the next few hours.

As the shackles dropped from his wrists, Kyle looked up at the horizon. The sun had crept up to the tops of the buildings. He had been awake for over twenty four hours now and so far, it had seemed like a year. Creature blood plastered his arms and neck.

An officer handed him a pistol. “Don’t shoot your foot off.”

Kyle held the heavy gun in one hand and turned toward Anna. Her face had gone pale. He knew what was running through her head, and promised himself that he wouldn’t let them do anything to her.

“Round up. We’re moving out.” Officer Reynolds ordered over the bull horn.

Kyle checked the safety of his gun and followed the SWAT truck, keeping close to Anna as it pulled them along. “I’ll get us out of here.”

She didn’t nod or anything, but her rasping breath squeezed around the gag, her eyes lowered and blood dripped off her chin.

How should Kyle rescue Anna?

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Industry Blogs

So a couple weeks ago, I listed out the personal blogs that I follow on a regular basis and now I'm going to do the same for the industry blogs:

Dystel and Goderich: http://dglm.blogspot.com/ (has recently became more active.)
QueryShark: (Not sure if it qualilfies as industry or not, but I enjoy her query comments.) http://queryshark.blogspot.com/
QueryTracker.net: http://querytracker.blogspot.com/ (This was one of my first blogs to follow)
Nathan Bransford: http://blog.nathanbransford.com/ (Probably one of the more popular ones out there.)

So there it is. I know once again its not a ton, but I do read them daily or when they are updated on a regular basis. What are some that you recommend me to follow? Any comments about any of these? Do you think one of these is great or not so much? Let me know I would love to hear from you.

Writing books

So I've been doing this writing thing for many years now and have my own collection of writerly books. Granted most of them are specific to Screenwriting and Filmmaking, but I was looking into getting some other more novel writing books on my shelf and was looking for suggestions:

My current list is:
"Creating Unforgettable Characters" by Seger
"The Writer's Idea Book" by Heffron.
"Story" by Robert McKee.
"Elements of Style" by Strunk and White.

Even those these are also for screenwriting, they do carry over into fiction writing. My personal favorite of this list is the first one. Very good at helping me develop more realistic characters. Any suggestions that I might want to look into?

Awaiting to hear

So I have a partial out and a full currently out being read. I need to reach out to the partial holder to see what's taken them so long as it's been over 3 months. So in the mean time I have been working on my Work in Progress, which is doing nicely. I'm happy with it, as I've stated on here before.

What are some of the things that you do while you are waiting to hear back from critique partners, or beta readers, or even the agents/editors? I've been trying to spend time working on my newest project, but still the waiting nags at the back of my head. Any other suggestions?

One vote?

So for my poll this past week for my choose your own adventure, I only got one vote. I didn't do anything different this time than I have in the past, and that might be the problem. I would like to know what, if anything, caused you not to vote if you read it, or maybe didn't even read it. If it's boring to you, I would like to know. Where did I go wrong with this? Or was it just a busy week that many people forgot to come back and vote.

Review of "Super Street Fighter 4"

So I haven't done a video game review for a while, so I picked up Super Street Fighter 4 for my Playstation 3 over the weekend, and have had a chance to put some time into it now.

Graphics:
If you played the one that came out last year, the graphics are just as clean, crisp, and beautiful as they were back then. The artistic style they chose for the characters really stands out with their fast movements, and crazy combos that they can pull off. All of it comes across clear and the only time you can get confused is if your opponent is causing it. For this version they even added a bit more to the characters as they have two additional colors, one is a sort of pen outlined, and the other is sort of sketchbook looking. I'm not a fan of either, but for people that like the look they are there.

Gameplay:
The most important aspect of a fighting game is the ease of the gameplay. Just pick up and play would fit this game well, however if you want to be good, or even great, there is a lot of depth to get into here. If you've played any other version of Street Fighter over the years, you know the basics. This one goes deeper, with Focus Attacks, Ultra Combos, and Special Combos which add depth and a bit of strategy to the fights. It's not just who can pull off the best combos and land the most hits, if you can manage to counter that super Combo into one of your own, you can go from a lost cause into a victory pretty quick. For me, personally, it can be frustrating, because I'm not that good at the game. But watching some of the things that can be done with the move set by more experienced players it makes me want to learn to get better.

Featuers:
This one has a few more features than the last version. It has the training, the versus, the arcade, but this time around, they added more features to the online mode. It is easier to get a match, and there is a bit more variety in the matches. You have endless battle where if you win, you keep fighting, but if you lose, you go to the back of an imaginary line to wait your turn again. Pretty fun to be had here, if you can manage to make it past one or two fights. Then there is team battle, which you can up to 4 versus 4 going at it in single matches until one teams members are all defeated. This is pretty fun, unless you run into someone who is more talented than your entire team.

Overall:
This game is well worth the budget price of $40.00 as it is has more features, and maintains the same flawless controls that the original had. It also adds ten new characters, which I'm still learning, but there is quite the variety between them.