Monday, January 31, 2011

You can't call them Zombies!

Looking down at her boyfriend of two years writhing on the pavement as blood poured down his face sent her heart through vibrations that she wasn’t used to. Her aching stomach gurgled and she ran her hands through his bloody hair. Pieces fell out, clinging to her blood soaked fingers. If it was any time before this entire outbreak she would have been squeamish, but it was too late for that now.

“Alex, I’m sorry. I…” Words failed her. She lowered him to the sidewalk and reached for the rock. It’s coarse texture cold to the touch. The creature behind the bars twitched, a low gurgle came from its throat for a moment before falling silent.

The bitter scent of blood coated everything. Death surrounded her and she stared at the rock. She needed to do this before Kyle turned on her. She took the rock in two hands and raised it. The sharp end cast a shadow across her face.

Kyle groaned, the blood flow had slowed and his pale face looked in stark contrast to the cement. He twitched and opened his eyes. “Please… before its…” He fell silent. His lips quivered, his glazed eyes watching her, wanting her to go through with it.

She knew what she had to do, the rock remained poised above her. Her muscles ached, her chest hitched in a sob and she drove the rock down into Kyle’s skull. The bone cracked, splintered under the force. Closing her eyes to the sight of the last person she loved and holding onto the memories they shared. She drove the rock into him time and time again. Kyle didn’t make a sound. Her screams echoed in the still air. Blood coated her arms up to her elbows and she only stopped bringing the rock down onto him after her hands went numb. She turned away and heaved. Nothing came out, but sweat sprung out all along her body.

She already missed him, but couldn’t bare looking at him. Casting his body aside, she stood, wavered and stumbled off the sidewalk. Collapsing into the street, she struggled back to her hands and knees. The need to survive still strong and somewhere in the back of her mind she knew the creatures would come because of her screams. The thought shot her eyes open and she scanned her immediate surroundings. Nothing so far.

Standing, she needed to get away from Kyle. She couldn’t bear to look at him; just knowing that his blood coated her arms was enough. Forcing her body to move, she started back toward the highway. Hunger ate away at her energy and she stumbled numerous times as she made her way up the hill.

“You did the right thing.” A man said.

Anna didn’t even stop to acknowledge the person who sat on the crest of the hill.

“Hey, wait a sec there. You need some food?”

The word got her attention. She looked at the man. He sat on a small backpack, his hunting rifle slung over his shoulder. His tan skin was in contrast to the orange hunting vest that he wore. He gazed up at, a grin and he offered her a package of peanuts.

The salty aroma lifted her spirits and she took a handful. They went down in a flurry and she mumbled a thank you between bites.

“Where did you come from?” The man released the peanuts to her grabby hands. She downed the remaining and tossed the package.


“Where did you guys come from?” He asked again with a bit more irritation.

“A nearby town.” She had failed to remember its name. “You?”

“Would you like to join up?”

“No.” She didn’t want another mistake of hers to cost anyone else.

“You sure? You look like you could use it.” He held out a canteen.

She took it, shook it, sniffed the contents a little suspicious of this stranger. After taking a small sip and realizing it was water, she downed a few gulps. It cooled her aching throat, washing over her tongue and lifted her spirits. “What do you have in mind?”

“I was thinking the Army base, they have more guns than I do.” The man said.

Anna stared at him. What did she have left to lose?

Monday, January 24, 2011

You can't call them Zombies!

“Fine, let’s do this.” Kyle’s stomach growled as he stood before the reaching man. He was starving and this was better than going on without food.

“We need to find something we can kill it with.” Anna searched the surrounding area. The way that she moved, stalked, around the sidewalk gave Kyle the creeps. His skin crawled as she started to pick up shards of glass, none very big, and then turned to rocks.

Kyle’s gaze locked on the dead eyes of the man. His top lip had been torn away, dried blood caked his teeth and his neck had deep scratches along the jugular. A low guttural growl emanated from where his voice used to be. A name tag hung from his chest pocket, but the name was covered in blood and something that looked like tissue.

“Found it.” Anna said. She held a sharp rock in her left hand. “You do it.”

Kyle stared at the rock and noticed Anna’s hands. They were scratched, bruised and just looked like utter crap. What did this world do to us? He sighed and took the stone from her hand. Its weight felt about the weight of a brick, yet fit comfortably in his hand. Almost like it was made for this purpose.

The creature growled as he approached. It seemed to recognize the stone and stopped reaching. He almost shied away for a moment until Kyle stood before the bars. He needed the man closer, so when he clubbed him that he wouldn’t be too far away. “Come on.” He called to the man like a frustrating pet.

The man backed away until only the glimmer in his eyes was visible. An animal’s glare sat deep in the man’s eyes and he soon vanished into the dark.

“No.” Anna yelled. “This is crazy!”

Kyle lowered the rock, turning his back on the man. “He seemed too smart for us.”

Anna glared at him. Her fury like a storm that washed over him. He shivered and wondered why she was mad at him. Not like it was his fault that her plan failed.

Her glare disappeared as her jaw slackened. “Look out.” She darted toward him, but fatigue caught up to her and she stumbled up the curb. It was long enough that she didn’t make it before.

Kyle spun as the man rushed the cage; his hands locked around Kyle’s neck and pulled him toward the bars. He slammed into the iron, cutting his face and dropping the stone. He saw his own reflection in the man’s eyes. Kyle’s pulse raced as he regained his bearings. The man was strangling him and his body reacted accordingly. He jerked and tried to punch the man, but his fist grazed the man’s head, taking off a small piece of dead flesh.

Anna appeared at his side, her balled up fists slamming against the man’s grip, but the man didn’t even give her a glance. His full attention was on Kyle and the feast that he was.

The man’s grip tightened. Stars popped in front of Kyle’s vision as the man moved closer. His mouth open; the smell of death closing in and Kyle couldn’t do anything.

Despite Anna’s help, the man didn’t hesitate to pull Kyle tighter against the bars. The iron crushing Kyle’s cheek bones. The pain excruciating as it ratcheted up along his face.

Using the last bit of his strength, he dropped his hands against the man’s wrists and heard a pop. The creature didn’t seem to care as his grip tightened again.

“Let him go. Kyle don’t give up.” Anna picked up the rock and slammed it against the man’s arms. More bone breaking and one hand fell away.

Kyle faded. His knees weakened as darkness crept into his vision. Then a huge burst of pain from his cheek erupted. The man had bitten him, the burning, his heart raced like it was trying to burst from his chest and he screamed. He didn’t care if it attracted the entire population of the creatures. This one had enough. His grip around Kyle’s throat loosened and he felt the creature picking into his cheek.

His fingers probed around like he was searching his underwear drawer for something to wear. The pain faded as he knew shock was setting in. This was it.

He turned to her and she stood there in shock, her face pale, her hands covering her mouth and she slumped into the ground. She had tried and failed. It was her plan that got him into this situation and now he had a hole in his cheek.

Kyle would have stepped toward her, but the creature got hold of his hair and slammed him back into the bars. His skull split, warm blood ran down the back of his neck. Anna seemed to snap too and brought the rock back up and hit the creature in the head before it could do anymore damage. As the creature’s grip released, Kyle slumped to the ground and covered his cheek. Blood ran through his fingers. He couldn’t talk, didn’t want to waste the energy.

Over the crest of the hill they had passed over minutes before he saw the silhouette of someone. Could be creature or something else. He pointed with one shaking hand. Anna didn’t follow his finger, instead collapsed against his chest. Her warm tears soaking into his sweatshirt. He still loved her.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Thinking about the blog

So I have been writing this blog for a year now, pretty amazing. I have learned a lot about myself during this time, and one of those things is that I don't know how to build an audience for my blog and honestly it is frustrating.

I want to get a bigger readership, yet feel that in the process of doing this I have neglected my other responsibilities, such as writing and that is the opposite of what my blog is about.

So in response, I think I'm going to be lowering my post counts to 3 times a week, unless the muse slaps me and something springs to mind that I absolutely must post about.

I am making a promise to my 42 followers that I will at least post 3 posts a week with occasionally posting more than that. I hope none of you leave me during this time and stick with me because I would love to share any news with you in the future.

If you have any suggestions to things I could do that you would like feel free to post it in the comments section and I will accommodated you.

Nuances of characters

Lately, I have been hearing from my crit group that my characters are sort of pawns of my plot. At first I was sort of like, what about it? They are the characters in my world, so technically they are pawns of my story....

Then I got some more details, and it was a MAJOR defect in my writing, so my writing goal of the newest book is to make my characters more real and in effect make the story more believable. It only took me what, 2 test books. :).

So now I am trying really focus on making my secondary characters little nuances that make them real to the reader, which is what I should have been doing from the get go. Go figure, better late than never and now, thanks to my awesome crit group, I can add another thing that I have improved over the past couple years of writing novels.

What are some of the things that you have added to a character to make them more real and in effect an individual that stands out instead of becoming a 1 dimensional character?

"Gone" Series

So this past week I finished the two most recent books in the series so far and have to say I'm hooked. I like the characters, like the plot and most of all I get lost in the world. The one thing that sort of bothered me in the last book, "Lies" was the fact that during the middle of the book it sort of dragged on and on. I think it could have been a bit shorter. However, overall I found the series as a whole very inviting and is a good setup for future books.

Has anyone else read any of these books and what did you think about them?

Now I'm halfway through the first book in the "Hunger Games" series, hope to have a review of it coming on in the next couple weeks.

Monday, January 17, 2011

You can't call them Zombies!

Anna stormed off into the distance. She still didn’t mutter a word and despite looking normal, her eyes revealed the pain and anguish that she must be enduring. The girl that she had been protecting almost killed her. Now they were alone again, with nowhere to go and no one to get help from. Kyle felt the weariness wash over him. His body needed to be fed, yet where were they going to find food now. The world had fallen apart.

“Anna, wait up.” Kyle rushed to keep pace with her as she moved determined like a devil was on her tail.

She turned to him, wavered on her legs and collapsed. Her knees cracking against the street sounded like cracking nuts. Kyle wasn’t able to stop her from falling to her side and bumping her head. With his heart racing, he knelt down beside her.

“Anna?” He shook her shoulders and she groaned and her eyes opened.

“What happened?” A small trail of blood ran out of the corner of her mouth where her lip was cut by the pavement.

“I think you fainted.” Kyle sat her up. Beads of sweat lined her forehead. Her skin was pale and she looked like she was going to vomit.

A moment later, she turned her head and threw up in the middle of the street. The sound splashing against the cement didn’t help Kyle fight the weariness in his own body. He shakily stood up and tried to help Anna up.

She refused to be helped and on quivering arms and legs, pulled self up. She brushed her hair out of her face and looked at Kyle. “Sorry. Just nerves, I’m not sick.”

“Fine, but where do you want to go now?” Kyle asked looking back the way they came. The girl was alone in the jeep, those creatures would find her and she would be a goner.

“We aren’t going back for her. She almost killed me.” Anna said. The anger in her voice snapped Kyle out of his thoughts.

“Where to then?”

“I don’t know, but we need to keep moving.”

She stormed off toward the cluster of buildings nearby. Long dead fires had engulfed the storefronts. The air was still choked with gray smoke making it hard to breathe as they approached. The soot stung Kyle’s eyes and he coughed. The smell of cooked meat made his stomach grumble, but that soon stopped when he saw that it was a woman. Her skin was charbroiled, with a few large chunks taken out of her arms and neck. The creatures got her first, but the fire put an end to her life.


Anna didn’t look back at him, but put her face up to the small corner market. Its doors were shattered, but the metal bars were still intact.

“Anna, what do you have in mind?”

“There’s food in here.” She pointed at the door.

“Yeah, there’s also an iron gate barring us from entering.” He didn’t know what she was getting at. Not like he could break in.

Just as he said that, a decayed man lunged at the gate from the inside. His arm was torn to pieces. His bones were visible in many locations, hanging flesh dangled from each bite. Some looked smaller than others. Kids? The mere thought made Kyle’s skin crawl. Why did they leave the girl alone back there?

Anna stepped away, not scared, but seemed to be searching for a way in despite the creature trying to get to her. He thought she must be losing it when she said, “Kill him, and we can get in.”

She pointed at the man’s key ring which clung to his bloody jeans.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Next Book series to Read?

So now that I have my Kindle, I have been looking for books to read. I'm currently finishing up the most recent book in the "Gone" series by Michael Grant.

I have been looking at picking up the 3 "Hunger Games" books next, but what else should I be looking for? I'm looking for Young Adult and am up for pretty much anything. List me your favorites and most anticipated so I can plan for the rest of the year.

WiP Wednesday

I only have a quick update on my newest project is that I have finished an outline of sorts. It goes back to my Screenwriting background as I did a Beat Sheet. It is the basic plot and the twists and turns. It doesn't go into a ton of detail, but I do know how I would like the story to end and how my main character to change, which is something right?

I'm taking this piece slow for a first draft, and want to have a 1st draft done by the middle of March, so I can get Beta's to read it, polish it hopefully by the Middle of April and then one more rounds of Beta's before I plan to query sometime in June.

Do you think 6months is too short or too long for a novel?
What is your average length of time it takes you to write your novel?

Little Big Planet 2 Review

I won a copy of this game during the Subway contest they had over the fall. I got my copy on Friday. I throughly enjoyed the first one, because of its flexibility to be so many different games in one. This one ups that bar to the point it had me asking, "Will I need another game ever?"

Over the weekend, my wife and I played through the story and those of you that have played the original and had fun with the story, this one is better. It even has voice over actors for the major roles, and it does a good job showcasing the various types of games that can be made in this game. For example, there is a few levels where they aren't just typical platforming, they have a caterpillar race through a tree as one level. I don't want to spoil anything else, but this story was pretty good compared to the first one. Minus a few nitpicks.

The humor of the game is still the same so if you enjoyed that it is more of the same.

The one thing that I haven't had a chance to play with is the create mode, primarily because I like to go into it with most of the items that I can get from the game, and I'm still about 40% short at this time. My wife and I already are thinking of a few different connecting levels which are children can play.

That's another thing about this game is that it is very family friendly. My 2 year old son really enjoyed watching us play because of the various funny things you can make your character look like, or do.

Overall, if you are looking for a game that has longevity, please check this out, because I think it will last for a long time.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Writers Support in the real world

So yesterday morning I was listening to the radio and heard this story below. I felt that it was a perfect way to summarize how writers support each other when things go bad for one.

I have a few friends that are writers as well, and when I get a rejection on a full or feel like my newest project is just complete garbage, they jump in to keep me from doing the drastic, which is quit.

So please enjoy this video and I hope that you see my point.

As you can see this relates to writing in a lot of ways, but was also a great heart warming video that made my day yesterday. I hope it can have the same effect on you today.

Enjoy the weekend,

Your fellow writer,
John S.

Monday, January 10, 2011

You can't call them Zombies!

Looking at the girl he had been with for two years in agony made his heart race. His palm slick with sweat and he looked at the one who caused her the pain. A small girl with blonde hair. Her eyes were wild with anger and a fury that he had never seen in a girl so young. Along her left hand fingers is the blood of his girlfriend, the green hue along the tips gave her blood a radioactive appearance.

“What are you doing? We are trying to help you?” Kyle pulled the girl away from Anna. From the corner of his eyes, he saw Anna’s skin blister immediately and blood trickled down her chin dropping onto her sweatshirt. Her limbs twitched and she moaned as unconsciousness must have helped her from dying.

The girl glared at Kyle, her lips rose in a sneer unlike any human. A pure predator trapped and threatened. Nothing like the little girl who he saved from a mad man not too long ago.

“She wasn’t going to hurt you, why did you do it?” He needed to hear her speak, wanted to see her guilt for what she did.

The girl didn’t regret it, her face gave that away, but she spoke. “She wanted to take me back to the army. They are the ones who are responsible for this. I’m not going back to them.”

“Okay, that’s cool, but really why hurt Anna?” The feeling of her name rolling off his tongue hurt his stomach.

“She deserved it.” The girl spat. Anger filled her words.

Pure vile rose in Kyle’s throat, he wanted to kill this little girl. He wanted to watch her suffer like she was making him suffer right now. He needed her though. Without her, Anna would die.

“Please heal her and we will go. We will just walk away.” Kyle pleaded. His voice caught in his throat and brought tears to his eyes.

The girl’s gaze softened, the hue from her hands changed to yellow.

He was reaching her. “Please.”

The girl reached over and touched Anna’s face where she earlier scarred her. The skin and blood slowly morphed back to its normal place. Anna gasped, her head rolled over toward the healing hand almost nuzzling it like a cat looking for love.

The girl removed her hand and turned to Kyle. “Go. Now”

Kyle clamored into the front seat and opened the passenger side door. Pulling on Anna’s arm, she stirred, and woke up.

Immediately she crawled her way out of the door, falling to the street below. Her mouth moved in mock screams, but nothing came out. She didn’t notice the cut on her cheek as she stood up and backed away from the jeep. Her eyes wild with fear and anger. “Kyle, we need to go.”

The girl’s face remained blank. Her eyes watching them inhuman like and it scared Kyle like he had never been scared before. His stomach clenched, his head buzzed and he followed Anna as she scurried for the farthest point of interest she could reach.

Kyle stopped at the crest of the hill. The jeep still sat silent, he could make out the girl in the back seat waiting, watching. The idea that she was the key flooded his mind and he itched to go back to her. Take her against her will to the Army and maybe they would keep them safe.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

New Poker Season

My poker group is starting the 5th season tomorrow night. Last year I tied for player of the year, and in the final game introduced a more aggressive style to my game.
So far this year, I won the first game of the year, and started off on the right foot. Now to keep it up for the rest of the year and take home back to back player of the year. The only thing that would make it better is if I can place in the final game of the year.

Since I'm mainly a writer and I know most of you are. I want to mix it up and ask: what are your non writer goals?

Get a new job?
Get a new significant other?

What drives you in life besides a publishing career?

WiP Wednesday

Right now my newest WiP is still going slow, but I am doing it on purpose, because I want it to be very strong and to do that I need to build it correctly.

I'm only on the 3rd chapter so far and have been focusing on letting the characters tell me where it's going to go instead of leading them around like pawn pieces. It's been going well and I think it's stronger for that.

How are your current projects going?

Are you near the point of querying? My goal is to get this book done by the end of March, polished by June and start querying in July.

Have you gotten back into the flow of writing since the holidays? It has been a bit hard, but I think I finally got through the barrier that was in my way at the start of the year.

Favorite book of 2010

I know some of my writer friends have read a lot more books than I did last year. I think I read about 15 myself, but a couple of those were very long.

I read:
"Under the Dome" by Stephen King.
The last three books of the Dark Tower Series by Stephen King.
"The Haunted" by Jessica Verday
"Gone" by Michael Grant
and some others that I can't remember off the top of my head.

I think my favorite book of the year was "Gone" by Michael Grant. I just found the way that he built up the world without parents was very well done. I also fell in love with the build up of the conflict and how it came to a head. It seemed well paced and believe in context of the story.

What was your favorite book of the year 2010?

Things you do that aren't writing related

So besides writing what are some of your other hobbies?

I'm an avid gamer. Currently playing Assassins Creed 2 Brotherhood, and soon to be playing Little Big Planet 2 which comes out in a couple weeks.

I'm also a poker player. Love the way that misdirection and using various techniques can tell a story every hand.

I read a lot too, more so now that the Kindle makes it so much easier, but I would think every writer would do that.

Those are just few of the things that I do when I'm not writing.

What are some your favorite non-writing tasks?
Do you knit, garden?
Watch television?

Just something that keeps you sane when the problems in your writing is making your brain hurt?

Monday, January 3, 2011

You can't call them Zombies!

Pulling the car over to the side of a desolate road, Anna shut the engine off to avoid unneeded attention. Still in the distance, creatures could be heard groaning.

“We need to find out what the General was talking about Kyle.” Her voice shook as she tried to calm her nerves. They just left the man to die and it still bothered her.

Kyle nodded and looked at the girl. “You think she’s the key behind this?”

Not sure, but had no other ideas to work with, she nodded. “He mentioned that he was after her, so we need to find out why. Maybe she knows why.”

The girl stirred and opened her blue eyes. She blinked, rubbed the sleep out of them and sat up. Her hair hung limp against her face. Her shoulders slouched as she looked between Anna and Kyle. She didn’t say a word, but fear creased her brow.

“Honey, what is your name?” Anna didn’t want to scare her anymore.

She licked her lips, but didn’t answer.

“What is your name?” Kyle asked more forceful.

The girl jerked and shied toward the door.

“Kyle, don’t be so mean about it. We just need answers.” Anna scolded Kyle as her protective instinct flared.

He opened his mouth to retort, but the girl spoke.

“Diane. My name is Diane.” The small girl’s voice was soft and sultry, almost sleep inducing. Nothing like they expected.

“Diane, when we found you and that guy, where were you coming from?” Anna turned fully around in the seat. The warm leather squished under her weight. A stiff breeze ran through the jeep, cooling her blazing skin.

“I don’t know.” Diane looked down at her hands. A yellow hue rose from her palm. The same color that happened when she had healed them.

“How long have you been able to do that?” Kyle asked.

“For as long as I could remember.” Diane clenched her fists and the light vanished.

“Did you happen to be at a military base?” Anna asked.

A deep glare set in Diane’s eyes and her chin quivered like a girl recalling a nightmare. Her response told Anna that she was on the right track.

“What did they do to you there?” Anna still needed to be sure.

“Nothing. Can we just go far away?” Diane said. Her icy glare remained. She wasn’t used to being challenged because of her age.

“No. If you can help us stop this, you need to do it.” Anna leaned forward. It was a mistake because the girl lashed out. A white hot slap that sent Anna back against the steering wheel. A searing pain rushed along her cheek and she screamed. Her skin was melting and the vision in her left eye had gone out like a light.

A scuffle started in the backseat as Anna tried to get her bearings, but the pain in her face grew until she couldn’t handle it anymore. “Kyle, be careful.”

Her stomach churned, her limbs twitched from overload and she collapsed. Her chest raced and the horn blared as she blacked out.

Sunday, January 2, 2011


When do you think revisions are enough to warrant shelving the book? I recently was told my by Crit buddies that my book is not believable because of a few character flaws, or things that aren't consistent enough, which doesn't bother me that much, but to implement the changes will require some big rewrites of the material.

So when do you decide that it is time to shelve the material and start from scratch on a new book?

What I got for Christmas?

Well I had a good Christmas with family and friends. Lots of time spent resting and reevaluating things for myself. I got a lot of good things for Christmas, but one thing that was not expected was getting a Kindle from my wife. It's just the WiFi one, but since I can store a lot of books on it and am at home every night, I don't think the 3g would be necessary for my use.

What were some of your things that you got over the holidays? Anything that you want to share? Anything you think was something funny or odd? Let me know, I am looking for some interesting comments to read this year, so be free and I will return the favor.

New Idea

So I have started to play with an idea that has been bouncing around in my head for a while. It's sort of a new world, but with characters from my first book involved. It's not tied to the first book at all, but has some similarities, such as kids with powers and a world that won't accept them.

My question to you is: What would say about using characters from another book in a new one, but not tied together in anyway, would it work?

I know Stephen King has done that with his books where characters overlap books, but they aren't the focus on the book they overlap in.

Besides, I can't stop these characters from speaking to me, so I have to listen otherwise risk losing their confidence in me. What would you do?

New Year Goals?

So I'm back after a great holiday month and hopefully this will be the year when I get an agent, but we will see. My current Work in Progress is in shambles, and will need a massive rewrite, so much so that I am starting a new book this week.

What are your goals for the New Year?
Mine are to complete my 4th book, and hopefully get it polished and ready to query by June. Other than that, keep improving my craft and get that mysterious thing they call an agent.