Jergen, Complete… Kind of

Okay, I’ll be honest up front here: I’m not getting 50,000 words done this month. I checked in at NaNoWriMo.org last night with 22,571. There will be more, but not 28,000 words. More came up this month than I expected between necessities for a return to college in the spring and an extended (Internet-less) trip home this week for Thanksgiving. Even that wouldn’t be an issue if my laptop would stay functional for more than 10 minutes a time.

Excuses, excuses, excuses.

Okay, deep breath.

What I can tell you though, and what you probably already guessed by the title here, is that “Jergen,” the fourth story in the Ereptor series is done. Well, the first draft is anyway. I think I came out marginally happy with this draft, so hopefully I can have it done by the end of the year. I’ve been slow with that recently, but my time will vanish come January, so I’m going to try.

For those of you who have read “Siren,” you’ll at least have a passing knowledge of Jergen’s character. The full story may be top secret from now, but I think I can part with a sample to (hopefully) give you something to look forward to.

***

I closed the door behind me as I entered Pauper’s small office. A tiny lamp hummed in the corner, casting the room in an eerie glow. In the old days, I imagined the room blazing bright as the sun, but having the lights back on did not yet give us leave to again waste energy. Pauper ruffled through a mound of papers on his desk, seemingly at random. One upward glance told me he would be ready in a moment, but he seemed to have a better command of the situation than the man standing twitching at his side.

I knew I recognized the man from somewhere, possibly another Medic, but he did not have the look of someone who spent much time in the field. He was starting to forget, starting to fall back into the mundane monotony we all faced before the Fall. How long since he saw a loved one die before his eyes? How long since he looked at a human’s face–zombie or otherwise–down the sights of a gun? The left side of his face was swollen, though, bruised and purple. I wondered what happened to the man–did someone punch him?–but he kept his eyes down, hands unsure where they wanted to be as he rocked and shifted at Pauper’s side. The balding man sometimes raised his hand to his open mouth, and on the fifth venture I noticed the missing tooth. A canine as I recall.

“Okay,” Pauper said. I snapped my eyes back to the man, but I held my tongue. Pauper’s summons already made me nervous; he was more suited to research and development than made me comfortable. I hardly thought myself a surgeon, but I’ve done my share of combat medicine and triage. Perhaps a few more hasty amputations than I want to think on as well.

“I’ll be honest,” he continued. “It’s going to be rough.”

“We can handle it,” I said. A distant part of me doubted that we could. We were still recovering from a mission several months earlier, one where we lost a Soldier of our own and let the Valkyrie die. The Valkyrie died! And the Historian was the one left with her execution. Other squads were sympathetic to our failure, but I felt the weight of that special shame I carried each day. Since the Fall, we ingrained ourselves to believe the Valkyrie would be the last person to die, but there we were, riding back to Atlanta with tails between our legs after an aborted mission. Valkyrie and Soldier dead, Historian going through her own therapy, and another Soldier out on bereavement.

We could handle it. We had to handle it. We had a number of successful missions since then, but high command no longer gave us difficult missions. If we could not handle Pauper’s request, then perhaps we really were cursed, as I heard some of the men whispering to each other when they thought I could not hear.

“We need more samples,” Pauper said.

“Samples? I saw dozens on the way in.”

Pauper shook his head. “They’re no good.”

“Why not?”

He glanced toward the balding man at his side before turning back to me. “Virus research is going nowhere,” he said. “We can’t cure it, and we can’t prevent it. We’re all lucky to be immune to the airborne variety, but that’s where it stops.”

“You’re dropping medical research?”

“Not quite.” Pauper splayed his hands wide on his desk, palms toward the ceiling. “We may find ourselves lucky, but I doubt it.” The man at his side fidgeted but held his silence. He opened his mouth for a moment, just long enough for me to see his tongue flick into the gap in his teeth, but then he was studying his feet again. “We’re looking into new weaponry.”

I nodded without understanding. “What does that have to do with me and mine?” I asked. We fancied ourselves long-range scouts, pioneers of a broken tomorrow. Yes, we had a handful of failures, but I imagined we were otherwise successful. We had bad luck with Valkyries, that was all.

We were a disgrace, even if no one would say so.

“It’s a, ah, unique mission. You won’t be clearing anything this time.”

I raised an eyebrow.

“Oh, I imagine you will be, don’t get me wrong, but that’s not the purpose. We’re sending you on a retrieval mission.”

I thought for a moment. “The target isn’t a group of survivors, is it?”

“You’re smart,” Pauper said. “That’s why we’re sending you, and damn the track record I know you think about. We’re sending you because you’re smart, you and your team, and I honestly know that you’re one of the few most familiar with the horror of it all. Oh, don’t make that face, you know I don’t mean offense. You’re a smart bunch, and we know you’ll be cautious. Can’t have you shooting the place up indiscriminately on this one.”

“But you already have samples,” I said.

Pauper laughed. “What we have is a bunch of bullet-riddled, thrice-amputated meatbags. All we can tell is that they’re filled with stem cells and that they can grow parts we’re not familiar with. Jergen, we’re looking for combat testing, but the ones we have are no good for that. Tissue samples, shit like that. We need one in here that’s at least less than half-rotten.”

“You’ll be hard-pressed,” I said.

“Again, that’s why we’re sending you.”

“Who else?”

Pauper shook his head again, not daring to smile. “You and your team. That’s it. Everyone else is focused on clearing north at the moment, or they’re out in Alabama doing long-range settlement sweeps. Your team is still getting to know each other again after–” He hesitated, and I felt myself flinch. “After Drayton,” he finished. “This will be a tough one, but I’m confident that you can get it done. I’m giving you this because I have faith in you.”

Because I need redemption, I thought.

“Fine, fine.” It would be a chance to see how the new guys held up. Stargazer seemed a decent enough fit into our group, even if he did have his head in the clouds more often than not. Damn fine Soldier, though. Sledge was an excellent fighter as well, but I think Carter perhaps found him a bit… Well, pious.

“I have faith in you, Jergen. I think the seven of you can handle it.”

I looked to the man at Pauper’s side again, then back to Pauper himself. The other man remained silent. “Who is the Valkyrie?”

The man at Pauper’s side raised a tentative hand against the side of his head, stroking fingers along his earlobe before letting his arm dangle at his side again. He opened his mouth, probed his tongue against the canine gap, then raised his hand again to rub the palm across the bare scalp of his crown. It was altogether uncomfortable to watch.

“Come on, Jergen. You’re still hung up on that? How long ago was that?”

I said nothing.

“Patience,” Pauper said after a moment.

“Never heard of her.”

“She’s good,” Pauper said. “Keeps her head down, knows what she’s doing. Very professional. We know your preferences–trust me, you made that clear to all of us–and we’re making sure to send you with one of the best. Try not to make use of her abilities, though.”

“Of course.”

“Great. You’ll be leaving in two days. Frankly, where you go is up to you. Find somewhere that’s mostly cleared but not completely. Remember that we need something whole if you can.”

I exhaled. “This is going to be a bitch, isn’t it?”

Pauper nodded. “You’ve got that much right.”

“We’ll get you the freshest zombie we can find then. You won’t even know it’s dead.”

With a soft laugh, Pauper stood and extended his hand across the desk. “Knew we could count on you, bud.”

I leaned and grasped his hand within mine, giving a few firm pumps before backing away. “You always can. Dismissed?”

“Dismissed.”

I turned to walk outside again, and a hand came onto my shoulder as I grasped the doorknob. I turned to see the balding man looking at me. Someone put the fear of life and death into him and recently. “You’ll get us something we can use, right?”

I gave what I hoped was a winning smile. “You can count on us.”

The man nodded weakly, and I felt his hand tighten against my shoulder.

“Lay off him, Lloyd,” Pauper said. “He’s got you covered. She’s suspended anyway.”

Lloyd nodded and released me. I offered a small bow to the two men as I closed the door behind me, turning again to the fluorescent hallway outside. As the door clicked shut, I heard one word that refired my doubts about the success of the mission.

Freya.

***

As it stands right now, “Jergen” is noticeably longer than both “Freya” and “Siren,” but it’s a little shorter than “Coward.” The way I’m looking at it now, it comes out to 96 pages, though I think Amazon will put it in the 75 range.

Anyway, I just wanted to let you guys know that the radio silence doesn’t mean that I’m slacking off. Granted, I have been doing that some, but work has happened. I’ll keep you guys posted, and hopefully the next information will include a release date.

As always, thanks a bunch, and I hope you guys enjoy.

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First story, completed!

NaNoWriMo has gotten off to a great start so far. I said earlier that I expected this to be finished after the first week or so, but… Well, it’s done now! At 8,594 words (17.18% of the goal), “Her” is complete on November 3. Well, “complete” is a loose term as it will still take a load of editing, but I’ll leave the first draft up here for you guys to read. It may take a while to come around to the genre, but I listed it on the NaNo site as science fiction. I really didn’t know what else to call it.

I’ll have more stories to share soon, though I may need to reserve “Jergen” and “Tim” for a while. I’ll take some time out and see if I can’t think of another one to post here soon.

Check out “Her” here.

As always, I hope you guys enjoy.

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Gearing up for NaNoWrimo

Okay, I’m not so much doing NaNoWriMo this year as ShortStoryPalooza.

November 1 is still several hours away, so I thought I’d take the time out here to go over some plans. I’m still shifting gears a bit as I swap over from Inktober with Reddit’s Sketchdaily community (I got 26/31 as a first-timer!). I think the art has steadily improved–with a few hiccups–since my last art post, and drawing has definitely made an impact on the frequency and severity of my depression. I’ll post a few images below, but they’re all posted on my Tumblr. Yes, even the more NSFW-ish, PG-13 ones that I’m uncomfortable posting to Facebook.

But let’s talk about writing. My first instinct was to do as I did last year and get another revision of Soulless out and done with, but I’m still waiting on general feedback from the second draft. That being said, I’ve been waiting quite a while, so I may decide to forge ahead and do the third draft on my own. We’ll see. I also wanted to generate some new content, since I’ve flagged behind on that recently, with the except of last month’s “Anchor.”

“Anchor” definitely got me in the mood to write again, but I got more than a little wrapped up in drawing. There still will be art coming out this month (for those of you visiting my WordPress via Tumblr), but writing will take up most of my time. I talked with my friend Ben from Calhoun County Insight, the magazine that ran “Anchor,” and the feedback seemed generally positive. That’s not to say there was a ton of feedback, but that I did get seemed good.

I also don’t want to start a new novel at the moment. I have ideas for several more (science fantasy, fantasy noir, more zompocalypse), but Soulless needs my attention for the Grand Work at the moment. Perhaps other writers can crank out multiple books in one go, but I don’t think I’m one of those. Not yet anyway. Not when I haven’t published my first single novel.

So here are my plans for the month:

“Her.” This one will be based on a dream I had a few years ago, one where I found myself being increasingly erased from someone’s memory. I tried writing this story a little over a year ago, but I lost steam and shelved it about a third of the way in. I’ll start again from the beginning and get my head back into it. I’ll expect this one to be around 8,000 words, but it may run longer to 10,000.

“Jergen.” Ereptor, part four. This one just needs an ending. I forget how many words I am into it, but I think it’s at least halfway done. It follows the story of Doc Jergen from “Siren.” Three months after the events in “Siren,” he accompanies the team that start clearing Drayton into Downtown Atlanta in search of a rare, complete zombie. One review on Amazon said that “Coward” was when I made my brand of zombies my own, but I think “Jergen” will clench it. This one begins the shift from zombie apocalypse to apocalyptic urban fantasy. I think this will end up around 15,000 to 18,000 words. Mind you, most of those are done already, but I’ll be honest in my reporting.

“Tim.” I guess I may as well try to conclude the Ereptor series, and this is as good of a time as any. Things are still sketchy at this point. I do know that this will leave the path open to begin the Ereptor novel, beginning with the aforementioned concert from “Siren” and “Coward.” “Tim” will largely deal with the difficult decisions of law in the new world as well as the general esteem of retired Valkyries. I’m expecting 17,500 to 20,000 words. Maybe less, maybe more.

If I finish both of those, I’ll try to bundle them all together into a single Ereptor volume by Christmas. If I’m able to, I’ll roll them over into the “Freya” file so that anyone who bought that one before will get the complete set for free. I’ll contact Amazon and see if I can do it. If so, I’m leaning toward a $3.99 price. I think it seems fair. What do you guys think?

Even at the maximum, I’ve only laid ground for about 40,000 words, and that’s pushing it. I believe I can think of enough to fill in the other 10,000. If not, I’ll get back to work on Soulless and if I can’t get this third draft started.

Thanks for sticking with me and being patient.

I guess I’ll toss up some drawings now. I hope you guys enjoy!

rgdampburrito

Redditgetsdrawn user: Ampburrito

rgdboobiesandbooze

Redditgetsdrawn user: Boobiesandbooze

I wasn’t as happy with this one, but it did start to bring me out of a mid-October slump. Things improved, and this one is still better than some previous posts.

rgdtitttsmcgee

Redditgetsdrawn user: Titttsmcgee

skdtwi'lek

Sketchdaily theme: Weird Hair (Darth Talon)

skdapple

Sketchdaily theme: Apple (Which also is the name of a Suikoden character)

IMG_20141003_213024_998

Sketchdaily theme: Super Smash Bros. (Marth from the Fire Emblem series)

skdwonderwoman

Wonder Woman as seen briefly in 2010.

skdshoggoth

Sketchdaily theme: Your pet (I don’t have a pet, so I drew a shoggoth.)

skdmummalien

Sketchdaily theme: Monster Mashup (Alien + mummy)

skdslenderwoman

Sketchdaily theme: Gender Bent Monsters (Slender Woman)

skdmonstergen

Sketchdaily theme: Monster Generator (“This towering humanoid creature can be found in places touched by dark powers. It attacks with spikes, ice, and lightning.”)

Okay, that’s all I wanted to share for now. I’ll try to remember to post more as NaNoWriMo progresses. Thanks again for sticking through all of this!

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Anchor, published

I primarily write fantasy (at least that’s the bulk of my content so far, though most of it isn’t published), but most of you who have read my material have read horror. I’ll debate whether or not Ereptor is horror eventually, but it’s urban fantasy in my mind. The point remains that at least one story contains long loops of intestines falling from a zombie onto Alabama blacktop, and that constitutes horror in many eyes. Breeze and Coal Creek were both horror-esque, and that’s fine with me. I think my deepest roots in writing are in horror, though I largely avoid gore. I think I’d lose much of my point if I had the reader cringing instead of, y’know, reading.

However, for two years in a row now (two whole years!), I’ve been contacted by a representative of Calhoun County Insight magazine for a submission for their October/Halloween issue. Last year’s entry was Coal Creek, which I like to think was met with general approval. It’s a story I enjoyed writing, and I think it’s a setting that could easily be revisited later. It gave me a break from the erman and bloodmage-filled world of Ilthirios and sort of cleansed my palate before last year’s NaNoWriMo.

This year’s entry was Anchor, a short tale about a character searching for gasoline and finding that forgotten horrors lurk in the Alabama backwoods. It only comes in at around 2000 words, but I can say that this definitely ties in with other works. Definitely with Soulless, maybe with Coal Creek. I think, yes, possibly even with Ereptor. Most likely. Definite maybe. I think Anchor may even continue into its own series of short stories, but these will be less than the Ereptor novellae.

Anchor slowly grew in my mind for some time beginning around this time last year. I would drive home from work in Fort Payne (the cities and locations in the story are real), and there was a… bizarre point coming down on the eastern slope of Lookout Mountain. Highway 72 cuts a diagonal path along the slope to minimize the incline, so there’s a high forest on one side and a low one on the other. To further decrease the incline, the highway makes a slightly serpentine route down, so you can never see too far ahead. It was along one of the bends in the road, though, that the world sometimes went dim. That’s the only way I can describe it. It was like an encroaching darkness in that area. I know (or at least hope) that it was just my faulty eyes struggling to maintain something in the dark, but gears turned. I thought about ancient spirits lurking in the shadows and wondered about their godhood. I wondered what they might be like, alone in the wilderness as the native tribes were banished to the Trail of Tears.

I thought even further back, wondered if they were all somehow connected. I wondered if they were even more connected in my mind, connected to things seen in other stories. I think to another planned book, Nickajack, and I wonder if the forgotten spirits have a place there as well. I guess we’ll find out together.

Anyway, I’ll get to the point of this post. I have Anchor up on my WordPress now if anyone would like to read it. Just check out the link here. I hope you guys enjoy!

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Second draft, completed

I thought I’d pop in to let you guys know that the second draft of Soulless is done! I finished the secondary touches on the epilogue a day or two ago, and I’m pleased with the results. The second draft is much more polished than the first, and I think now I’m more free to look for any gaping plot holes than needing to worry if entire chunks of the story are in the wrong place.

The original draft was 70 chapters including the epilogue; the revised version is now a total of 39, and I think I’ll probably compress that down to around 33 or 34 in the third draft. I’m not sure why I suddenly became less okay with strings of six-page chapters, but I think the combination and compression will make for an easier read.

The second draft is about 7,000 words longer than the original. Some of this came from the (get your Dr. Evil air quotes ready) “compression” of the chapters, but much of it came from the completion of chapter stubs left over from the first draft. 

Soulless-Final2ndDraft

There you have a shot of the final stats. 657 pages and 140,000 words. It ran a bit long, so I’m now left with two options. 1) Go through the third draft with a machete and a grudge and try to get this down to a more respectable 115,000-125,000 words. 2) Split the book into two parts and extrapolate some more on some subplots rather than cut them out altogether. I guess a third option is to say, “To hell with it,” and put it out as one volume. I’ll either be submitting to publishers and shopping around for agents soon, or I’ll be looking at self-pubbing again. I see the merit in both routes, but I would honestly prefer to at least try the traditional way first.

Followups? I did some more work on Jergen a few days ago, and I think I’m ready to get that out there, to finish the fourth installment of the Ereptor series. There is some flow there, but I’m working to get over the hump of Jergen’s past before the Fall. I’ll work out something, I promise.

I’m already looking to the next project, but I’m not sure which direction to take. Here are my options, and bear in mind that all this will eventually be written.

  • A side story to the Ereptor series, Beloved, a novel about an everyman struggling to find a cure for his wife who has fallen to the Ereptor virus.
  • A fantasy noir detective story set in the Soulless world of Ilthirios. I’m thinking a bloodmage detective with an erman partner. This needs to be fleshed out more, but I enjoyed my time spent in that world.
  • A more traditional fantasy story, focused on one of an army’s master swordsmen who fears that the new invention of firearms will put his career in jeopardy.

There will be much more to all of these stories, but I can’t reveal my entire hand yet, can I?

I’ll keep you guys posted on updates, and hopefully the third Soulless draft won’t take nearly as long as the first two.

Thanks for sticking with me.

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Taking a look at art

So I’ll start by admitting that I haven’t done a lot of writing lately. Things are still in a bit of turmoil, but I think they’re starting to settle down enough for me to get my life back on track. Soulless is still happening, and Ereptor will be finished. “Soon.” Writing is still my passion, but I think I lost sight of it along the way. Before you really get it out there, it’s like trying to tell yourself about a really awesome dream that you had.

I’ve tried keeping the creativity rolling through this lull. As I said in the last post, I’ve been going to therapy lately, and I guess part of that has gotten me back to drawing again. I started drawing many years ago back in my high school days, and, well, I thought at the time that it led to my depression. I’m starting to see now that depression led to depression, but that’s probably a lesson better learned at another time. A time when I haven’t already stuck the title at the top of the page and am too lazy to change it.

Anyway, I’ve always had a fascination with art. It took me a long time as a kid to come around to comic books, but I found them when I was in the 7th grade. I fell in love with the tales of superheroes–having just stumbled upon the world of science fiction through Asimov and Crichton–but I really noticed the artwork. I think mostly it was through Todd McFarlane, Jim Lee, probably Joe Madureira if I’d been willing to admit it at the time, a slew of others. The works of Alex Ross and Boris Vallejo captivated me as well, but I’ve never had either the drive or talent for painting.

I went through a long stretch where I lost that yearning for art. Like I said, I thought it was leading to depression; I never really thought that it could be one of a few things holding depression at bay. I tried drawing again a few times throughout college to no avail, so I let it slide again for a while.

Then this year around Valentine’s Day, I met a new friend at a coffee shop here in town, and she showed me some of her drawings. That got the gears turning again, and it was about the same time that I started my therapy. After the first session, I went out to Wal-Mart and bought a bunch of cheap art supplies and got a first drawing out that night, just a simple waist-up picture of a female character of some kind. I don’t think I had any thoughts of her in immediate roles in stories, but women were always easier subjects to draw, so it seemed like a good starting point. I had trouble with the hands, though. For a few days after that, I worked on drawing my own hands, worked on the shading, worked on a lot of things. I muttered, “What’s going on here?” to myself as I tried to find out how knuckles and palm lines worked. I’m still shady on a lot of it, but I can say that my hand-drawing skills have improved.

The point of all this is that I wanted to show you guys that I’ve been doing something. Even the act of drawing helps me clear my mind to prepare for further revisions in Soulless. Not to mention that it actually is therapeutic.

Let’s cut to the chase then and get to that part. Drawing pictures of my friends seemed a bit…invasive? I don’t know. It must be one of those things that I’ll have trouble putting into words. Instead of scrolling through Facebook, I turned to Reddit, namely the /r/redditgetsdrawn subreddit. People post pictures of themselves, loved ones, and pets, and request drawings. Some of the artists are really good. Others are…not so much, but their hearts are in the right place. I consider myself somewhere in the middle of the road, but I’m improving.

So… Here goes:

Image

This one was the first I tried there, and it gave me the most trouble. Her head was at a natural angle, but it was still a strange angle for my level of expertise. I had a more frustrating work on the previous sheet, and that somehow interfered with where this girl’s right eye was, so that came out looking weird. Also she was smiling, and I have trouble with teeth, I guess. I thought I did alright with the hair, though, but that’s about it for this picture.

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I liked this one a little better. It gave me a good excuse to work on drawing hands some more, so that was good. I did a better job with the eyes, but I wish I’d shaded her left eye a little better. I meant to put some more detail into her necklace, but I forgot at the end. Also forgot to erase the guiding lines before posting. Oops.

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This was another one I wasn’t too happy with. The eyes gave me trouble again and came out looking beady. Her hair was very dark, so I tried to shade it all solid, and I think that backfired on me. I got better on the smile though, and I like the shading on the right side of the picture.

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This is probably my favorite one of the pencil sketches. There was a lot of bright, direct lighting that washed out a lot of her features in the original photo, but that gave me more insight into the structure of noses. This was also my first real attempt at drawing Asian eyes, so that was its own challenge but one I think I did well with (thought something seems wrong with her right eye).

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She didn’t look so worried in the original photo. She did comment saying that I drew a better-looking version of her. I’ll take it? Haha. I liked the shading here. The hair wasn’t so bad, but I look at it now and see that it could have done with some improving.

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Shading was a huge issue here. The lighting in the original photo was so bright that her jawline disappeared in it. I made a casual remark about it when I posted it, saying that it was something I needed to work on. She apologized, said she would wait for the subreddit’s 3-day period before posting a new one, and deleted this one. Deleting submissions in /r/redditgetsdrawn is a big no-no, and she got banned. Oops. I still feel bad over this, but I never thought she would delete the post. Ack. This was after she said she really liked the drawing and hoped I would give her next submission a try.

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This was my favorite one. A firefighter said she was a fan of Captain America and other comics and wanted to be drawn as a comic book hero. Her photo didn’t show a lot of her face, so I had more room to freestyle. It was the first time working with ink since I started with art, and it was more comfortable than I expected. The fabric didn’t work out as well as I hoped, but I loved the effects on the visor and around the eyes. I tried to incorporate the firefighters’ insignia on her shoulders, but I don’t know how well that came across. More work on hands, but I can’t say I like the result of her left.

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More ink! And I drew a dude! For some reason, he reminded me of Ron Perlman, and that reminded me of Hellboy, so I had to try this in ink. The tattoos were harder than I thought when I started. I think I did a good job with the facial hair, but I wish I’d added more mustache on his left side. Needed more hair in the back too.

Image

After time spent inking, I tried pencil sketching with thicker lines. The shading of her face was a little odd anyway (she was in some fae cosplay), but I got the high points. Thicker lines in the hair seemed to be the main issue here, since she looks like she’s about to go Super Saiyan.

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Another person with her head at a natural angle, but one that was awkward for me to draw. The photo had her with her head tilted down slightly and looking up, while my sketch has her looking directly on. I think that skewed my proportions between different features, and the shading made her look older here than she actually seems to be.

I’ve done these drawings every day for the past…however many days that is. I’ll slowly get better here, but I think I’ll get better writing, too. If nothing else, this is helping me get in the mindset of making a schedule, and that’s always been one of my writing woes. Maybe I’ll learn to at least alternate between art and prose. Expect new material soon.

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I didn’t realize it had been so long, part 2

Time has a way of getting away from you, and I was more than a little shocked to see that it had been 10 months (!) since I updated here. I can say that a lot has happened since then, though! I moved, got a new job, started to finally make headway in the battle against depression and anxiety, and I even met a personal goal during NaNoWriMo.

Let’s start with that.

Many of you know the gist of NaNoWriMo: Writers crank out 50,000 words in a novel in 30 days. It doesn’t have to be a complete novel, and I suppose you can turn in less if you have a completed work that’s not quite novel-length. I guess I wasn’t particularly inspired to start a new project, since I’ve had Soulless going for so long now, so I worked on what I had. I made a lot of headway with Soulless this time. As a matter of fact, I only have about 10,000 words left for revision before the second draft is done. I don’t have the exact count on me at the moment, but I believe I revised about 52,000 words worth of material during NaNoWriMo. I see some things that need to be changed, but otherwise I’m feeling much better about it, and I think you guys will really enjoy it once I finish.

That being said, I’ve never been immune to holiday depression, and that started adding up around Thanksgiving. There were some changes at work at the same time too, and I think that contributed to the stagnation. I would look at Soulless and wonder why the hell I wasn’t finishing it. I only had 10,000 words left. Out of about 140,000. So there it sat for what seems to be 4 months now, gathering dust. Well, metaphorically. eDust, you might call it. It did give me more time to gather thoughts about what I want to happen with the story. Some minor elements need to be changed here and there, but it’s working.

Some of you that know me personally know that I’m finally in therapy and taking medication for the depression and anxiety. This is a huge step for me by itself, and it’s got me itching to finish the book. I read through the epilogue a few days ago and shocked myself to see that I loved it. I’d been beneath the burden of self-deprecation for so long that I expected to hate everything about it and debate scrapping it all for a new project or just giving up entirely. Taking more control in my own life has helped me realize that something is here. The story isn’t perfect (nor will it ever be perfect), but I realize now that I want to get it as close to perfect as I can. I feel capable. It’s an alien feeling, but it’s one that I can grow to like.

I was published, too! This happened back in October for Calhoun County Insight’s Halloween issue. The story is called “Coal Creek” and is about a pair of young magazine photographers investigating a haunted field in the mountains of rural northern Georgia. I went a little over the word count, but the editors were gracious enough to allow me some extra space.

You can check it out here.

Feel free to check out my Facebook page as well. I’ll try updating more often there, too.

That covers the major points for now, I suppose. I promise I’ll try to update more often, and I’m going to finish those last 10,000 words. I’ll update the Soulless sample chapters, and may even throw up a few more in time. I’ve been doing some work with art again, too (for the first time since high school, really), so I’ll add some sketches in the coming weeks.

Thanks for sticking with me. I’ll try to not be such a stranger any more.

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I didn’t realize it had been so long

Whoa! Sorry I haven’t updated here in months. I was shocked myself to see that I hadn’t said anything since Halloween.

Okay: Updates, updates, updates.

The fourth story in the Ereptor series–Jergen–is in the works. The first draft is about halfway complete, so I’ll try to get it out to you guys soon. I like the direction that it’s taking; makes the series feel more like my own, you know. The Jergen story brings back Patience, who I’ll admit is my favorite character in the story to date. I should have had this story out much sooner, but that brings me to the second update, which I’ll use as my excuse.

Soulless is done! Well, the first draft is done anyway, coming in at over 125,000 words. My copy is currently 546 pages and 70 chapters. I’ve been chugging away getting chapters edited, but it’s taking longer than I expected. I’m pleased with the content so far, but it’s hard to keep my mind open to change. Every edit is progress, though, and I expect to be done by year’s end.

I have some shorter works in mind as well. I’ll be sure to leave you guys some tidbits here from time to time. Thanks again for your support!

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Three day promotion!

With NaNoWriMo looming and Halloween being one of my favorite holidays anyway, I decided to share Freya with you guys for free. It’s free on Amazon for the day so you guys can check it out while I try to write the fourth and fifth stories this month. You can get the current series for free – Siren will be free on November 1, and Coward will be free on November 2. Share, tell a friend, and share in my excitement as my series draws to a (temporary) close.

As always, and most importantly, I hope you guys enjoy!

UPDATE! Okay, so I goofed on this, and Siren is going to be a day late. Freya, however, will be extended by two days, and the entire series (so far) should be free on November 2. Sorry for any confusion. I’ll do much better next time, and I am pleased to say that I jotted down the opening scene of Jergen (Ereptor’s fourth installment) tonight. It’s a small step, but one that brings me closer to the end. Enjoy!

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Characters, Stories, and Music That Inspired Me

A few days ago on Angela Scott’s blog, she asked what songs reminded her fellow writers of their own characters. Those of you who follow me on Facebook and Twitter will see me posting these songs from time to time, but I thought I would answer Angela’s question here. This will give you guys (and myself!) a place to see these tracks together, and hopefully I’ll stop cramming your feeds with them.

I guess the first one to bring up is Freya. She’s the character that’s been out there the longest now, and I think she’s still the favorite among most of my readers (or at least she’s the one I’m asked about the most). I heard A Perfect Circle’s “The Outsider” at some point while writing her story, and the song always stuck in my mind as hers. It has since been used in Resident Evil: Afterlife, so I guess someone else out there associated the story with zombie slaying.

Next up is Siren. Of course “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” comes to mind, but that was Thief’s song more than anyone else’s in the story. When Siren first started development, I always held her in my mind as an acoustic performer, someone lighthearted and always with a pen and paper handy to scribble down lyrics in her downtime. Once the Ereptor series is done, the novel sequel will most likely open with her lyrics during the Atlanta performance. At any rate, Siren always had a Jenny Owen Youngs feel to me.

Coward’s Dean held a grisly determination throughout the story, forever haunted by a moment of fear and panic. Giving himself over to vengeance against the zombie horde, he spent years pouring his being into his blade. If he stops fighting, he starts thinking, and you know what kind of toll that takes on his well being. Dean reminded me of Bush.

Even though Patience was only a supporting character in Coward, she is one of the most important characters in the series (you’ll find out why soon). I think her story is my favorite of all the characters, even if there are no plans to give her a perspective story before Ereptor ends. She will have a lot of work to do in the follow-up though! She knows more about Ereptor zombies than any other character, but she’s afraid she’ll seem insane if she speaks up. People are wary of Valkyrie madness, after all.

Coward as a story had a track of its own. When I write, I do like to have music playing, but lyrics are distracting. AvidyaZen of Minecraft fame turned me on to the music of Esbe, and Esbe always helps me clear my mind when I’m getting stories out of my head. “Behind Closed Eyes” has a spectral and paranoid feel to it, and I liked that the characters in Coward all had fearful thoughts rampaging through their minds on that rainy Alabama day and never told each other what they were feeling.

On to Soulless! Other than the first five chapters, I don’t have much of Soullesavailable yet, but I’ll share some music anyway. I think people associate Metric’s “Help I’m Alive” with zombie scenarios than fantasy, but the song helped in the story’s early development. I can’t really say how, but listening to it always gave me scene flashes. Is that normal?

When thinking of how best to answer Angela’s question, I couldn’t pinpoint a specific song that summed up how I felt about Caru or Mieta. Whenever I think of them together though, Lindsey Stirling always come to mind, especially with her violin-dubstep experiment, which I hope to hear more of soon.

Kimke was different as well, a character willing to accept others at the beginning but quickly struck down with grief in the face of an unyielding situation.

I always feel guilty about the song that reminds me of Blood-Emperor Theop since it actually is a dubstep remix of Nobuo Uematsu’s  “One-Winged Angel” for Final Fantasy VII‘s Sephiroth. Supremely powerful and as eager to use technology as he is magic, Theop is determined to forever root humanity in independence of any outside factors. And, yes, it’s a revisit to Obsidia and dubstep. What? I don’t hate dubstep. Veni veni venias! Ne me mori facias!

Upcoming story! The plan is for Beloved to begin next year, which will take place in the same world as Ereptor, even if none of the characters cross paths.

Shivaree’s cover of Gary Glitter’s “Hello, I’m Back Again.”

And another Jenny Owen Youngs:

Okay, I think that’s it for now! Hope you enjoyed the music, and maybe it will make the reading experience better for you in some way. As always, thanks for reading, and I hope to have new material for you guys very soon. Now to hope all those videos formatted properly.

Posted in Fantasy, Music, Writing, Zombies | 2 Comments