Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Eaters: Dark Journey Excerpt

No writing tonight. I'm going to do one final read through of Eaters: Dark Journey, so I can post tomorrow. Here is the short synopsis and an excerpt:

What could be more frightening than finding yourself alone in a world that has been overrun by zombies? As she wanders the streets of Golden, Colorado, Cheryl Malone’s only friend is the AK-47 that has helped to keep her alive ever since her fiancĂ©e, Mark, came down with the infection that turns people into Eaters and made her leave their shelter. The first survivor that takes her in is just as dangerous as the ghouls outside. After escaping from him, she meets Aidan, a saner companion, whose love for his Harley is only second to the love he had for his dead girlfriend. After barely making it up to the mountains with their lives intact, they meet a young couple who have to be convinced of the apocalypse that happened while they were camping, unplugged from civilization. The four of them retreat to Aidan’s cabin, but they soon find out that it is not a safe haven. The night has more horrors in store for them all...

       They kept on driving as the rain pelted them and limited their visibility. Cheryl worried about Aidan taking the curves so fast as they drove higher. One slip on the wet pavement could send them careening over the edge, flying out over a couple hundred foot drop into a grove of pine trees and aspens. She closed her eyes and held on, trusting that this wasn’t his first time driving in such dismal weather and hoping that he knew this road like the back of his hand after commuting from his mountain home to his job day after day.
She didn’t open her eyes until she realized that they were slowing down. The rain was still hammering down as he came to a full stop in the middle of the road.
“What are you—”
She looked ahead, through the sheets of water pouring down. A dozen yards in front of them, the road ahead was a solid wall of Eaters—a small infected army.
“Aidan,” she yelled with a trembling voice. “Turn around.”
As the mass started shambling towards them, he revved the engine, but didn’t move.
“What are you doing? Let’s go…”
“We can’t.”
She screeched now. “What do you mean?”
“Look behind us.”
She saw them in his side mirror before she turned around. There was another group closing in on them from the rear. They hadn’t heard the approaching moans, because of the loudness of the motorcycle engine. Now, they were trapped between the two oncoming groups with a mountain on one side of the road and a sheer drop down the other.
Her heart pounded, and her breaths came shallow and fast—not enough oxygen getting to her brain. “What are…we…going…to do?”
He revved the engine again. “Go through them.”
“You’re crazy. We can’t—”
“No time to debate it hon’. Just tuck in and hold on…”
Just as the Eaters in the rear came dangerously close, he charged forward like a lone knight with a lancet…into a formidable army. With her head buried in his back, and her arms tight around him, she couldn’t see anything, but she could smell the stench before they hit. It was like a thousand rotting corpses with flesh decayed into a nauseating stew of blood, pus, urine, and feces all mixed together. There was no time to gag as they crashed into the wall of bodies. The impact almost knocked them off, and it was clear that the group hadn’t parted at all as they drove over arms, legs, …heads? But, that was only a few. The rest hadn’t fallen like dominoes—they were a sea of snapping teeth and bloody grabbing hands. They clawed at their clothes and their hair, pulling and yanking at anything they could. Then, the motorcycle began to slow…
       Oh no. Oh, God. Please no.
      An Eater had a fistful of her hair. She held on to Aidan, screaming with pain as the Eater pulled it and tried force her head back. She knew that if it succeeded, her face and neck would be an open buffet for the crowd surrounding her. So, just as if she was holding on for dear life to the edge of a skyscraper, thirty stories up, she held on…as the roots of her hair tore away from her scalp from underneath the helmet.
Aidan revved the engine, trying to break free of the hold of so many hands, but they were slowing down from the drag of so much weight. “Hit them!” he yelled.
      She kicked to one side than the other, smashing her boots into shins and kneecaps. Then with one great exhale, she lifted her head and unshouldered the rifle. Using her elbows and the heavy gunstock, she began to hit left and right. She slammed into heads and chests, impacting some with a thunk, and into others with more rotten flesh with a squish.
       She could see Aidan kicking as he tried to do the same. They picked up a little speed, but still weren’t free enough to break away. They were too close to try to shoot, and she was worried that they might grab the gun barrel if she tried, so she alternated between using the gun as a bludgeon and punching with her fist. Her knuckles cracked into jaws, sending teeth and blood flying. She bashed another on the head with the gunstock then was about to defend the other side again when a shirtless infected man, whose flaking gray skin and bald head, mottled with rivers of blackened veins, grabbed her wrist. She couldn’t get the gun around quickly enough to bash him, as he started pulling her arm towards his mouth. She felt his cold, sick breath on her wrist as the motorcycle leapt forward. He didn’t let go. He stumbled forward along with them, crushing her arm with a vise-like hold.
      “Aidan!” she screamed as she was close to being pulled off.
      He looked back and saw her plight, slowing the bike just a hair. “Hit him! In the face!”
      It was a dangerous proposition—she’d have to let go of Aidan’s back in order to reach around and butt the Eater in the head with the gunstock. She wasn’t sure she had the strength left to hit him hard enough to knock him off, especially from such an odd angle. She had another idea, that upped the danger another couple of notches, but there was no time to do math and weigh the pros and cons, because he was leaning forward now as he stumbled along, jaws snapping, as he tried to gouge at her arm with his teeth. In another second or two, he’d find his mark if the others around her, clawing to get a hold, didn’t first.
Sophomore year in high school, she’d been on flag team—she’d twirled a flag on long poles with the band at football games and a few times—a fake wooden rifle painted white. She prayed that her muscle memory, after so many years, would still be there. Because, she’d only have one chance.
Clenching the sides of the motorcycle painfully hard with her knees to hang on, she let go of Aidan. Then, in one swift motion, she twirled the rifle around so the barrel faced away from her. She grabbed a hold of it like a spear then spun around and slammed it into the Eater’s cheekbone. As it connected, it slipped upwards and pierced through his right eye socket. She almost went with it as her knees popped up, but using every muscle in her core, she was able to swing back around. The gun barrel popped out of the Eater’s skull with a sucking pop sound, barely audible above the moaning and the whine of the engine. In the same instant, they shot forward, and broke free of the mob.
      She had not even realized that the rain had stopped until she saw a bright streak of sunshine slanting down over the road. They drove through it, and for a quick second, were in a spotlight slicing through the gloom. She thought it was like God’s flashlight, shining down. You made it kiddo…didn’t think you had it in you.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Eaters: Dark Journey Going LIVE This Week!

Houston...we almost have lift off. The second installment of the Eaters novella series is almost ready to post. I'm confident that the final edits and formatting will be done in a few days, pending the final formatting and some technical edits involving correct gun terminology that I need to clarify with a beta reader. (If he didn't have sleeping kidlings, I'd give him a ring tonight.)

The good news is...I wrote over 1,000 words the other night. The not so bad news is...that it wasn't on Eaters: Destination. I've got another project cooking in the pot on my shoulders, and I had to get some some of it in ink while the inspiration was hot.

I haven't been to the local fiction writer's conference in a few years, and I though I'm tempted by some of the interesting seminars on this year's schedule, I can't decide if it's worth forking up $300 and the white-knuckled highway driving to get there for several days in a row. The first year that I attended, my novel, The Gardener, was a finalist in their contest. It was an amazing experience to meet a couple of agents and attend a dinner with so many other writers where I received my award for placing in the contest. Since I'm into e-book novellas these days, and I don't have a full length novel ready to enter in the contest or pitch to an agent, is it worth it just for the seminars? (I could buy an awful lot of books on writing for that cost.) Me thinks that a good bonus from work this summer might help me make a last minute decision...

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Simmering the Word Soup

My writing is slow this week, but at least I'm getting some in on most evenings. Last night, I tried to stir up the creative juices by getting back to a little fiction reading (which I haven't done in a little while). I started 20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill. I am just always amazed by the creepy things that come out of his head, and being closer to my age group, I can relate to some of his interests (like rock music) that he often weaves into his stories. (Daddy King's stories in Full Dark, No Stars were awesome as usual, but didja notice that the main characters were all older? It makes some point in every writer's career, it's easier to identify with 58 and 68 year old protagonists than 18 year olds.

I've got a spiral notebook on the nightstand now! Last night, after reading, I did simmer up some good plot ideas for Eaters: Destination and jot them down. The framework is coming together...

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Spring Fever

Sales on Eaters: The Beginning definitely slowed this weekend. Maybe it's the good weather?  I definitely found myself doing more gardening and spring shopping than reading. Although, I sowed few words this weekend, I did sow lettuce in some cute planters outside and got some squash and tomatoes started indoors.

My DH is done with his edits on Eaters: Dark Journey and found very few typos. (Woohoo!)
One half of my other beta readers are done with their reading. So...maybe another week to post. I insist on having this book 'live' in April. (Still a month behind my ambitious schedule.)

That's all for ROW80 check in for now. I gotta do some writing...

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Wanted: NotePad for Brain

I'm sporadic on my 500 word/day word count. I'm up to about 3K on my story, though. So, I figure I've got a good snail's start.  A lot of my progress seems to happen in my mind, rather than on paper lately. Don't you hate it when you lie awake in bed at night with ideas for your story racing through your brain, and you tell yourself that you'll jot them down when you get up in the morning or remember them the next night when you sit down to write...but then dreamland and the next days activities kick in...and you completely forget your brilliant epiphanies? I know many writers keep a notepad on their nightstand, but my DH would be a little put off by a blinding light interrupting his sleep, and my body is usually too tired during these brain flashes to get up and make that much effort anyway. Does anyone else have tricks for remembering these moments of insight that can happen late at night or while driving?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Exploding Head

Rough weekend for the head. On top of a sinus cold (or allergy stuff?), I had a migraine so bad, it felt like shard of glass were embedded inside my brain, and blood was leaking out of the back of my skull. A couple doses of prescription med failed to knock it out. Thankfully, sleep overnight finally did. I felt one coming on again this afternoon. I took a half Excedrin, a glass of magnesium-infused water, and forced myself to eat a potato for dinner. I don't know if it was one of those or the combo of the three, but something worked, because the pain was aborted. Needless to say...I'm a little (lot) behind on my word count! I'm still waiting for comments on Eaters: Dark Journey to come back from four beta readers. Stay tuned for the excerpt...

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

ROW80 Round 2 Check In #1

Like last round, my goal will be 500 words a night. I know some nights I'll go over and occasionally I'll take a night off. Technically, I have over 1500 words started on Eaters:Destination with my notes and writing last night, so I guess I've got a good start. I'll be working a little more on character development in this one, since I think that was a weak spot before. I had sacrificed a little in that area for the sake of constant action, and I know that it's possible to have stronger characters reacting to the ever present dangers.

As soon as I get a copy of Eaters: Dark Journey back from one of my beta readers, I'll be posting an excerpt here.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

ROW 80--Zombies--Being Human

With life so busy, I hesitated on doing ROW80 again. Lauralynn's nudge to be number 100 to sign up made me cave. Since Eaters: Dark Journey is in the hands of beta readers and almost ready to post, I really do need to get going on the final installment, Eaters: Destination. I got cranking tonight and will report in tomorrow.

Are you still following AMC's The Walking Dead? If you are signed up for their newsletter, they are making a token effort to keep interest up until the series begins again with interviews with cast members and production crew. Like Lost, the quiet vacuum between seasons will probably cause some viewer casualties. I did really like this show and look forward to it beginning again.

In the meantime, my new t.v. love is Being Human on Scyfy. I loved the last episode when Josh said (about Sally), "She looks like The Grudge", when she morphed into evil ghost woman about to attack her murderous husband. The end scene was pretty cheesy, though. Can you say 'plot device'? Spoiler: Sally's door to the Other Side appears and Aidan is suddenly attacked by Bishop crashing through a window. Whatever! The season finale is April 11th. I'll be tuned in and hope for a better cliffhanger than Aidan hanging on for dear 'life' with a wooden stake in his chest. Possibly, Aidan's only chance for survival will be to cave in to Bishop's dark side...or drink werewolf blood?

Friday, April 1, 2011

Draft is Done!!

Finally...whew! Next year, I should remember not to make any promises for finishing anything in the month of March. It's a very busy time at my job, and I often come home and collapse aftwards. Eaters: Dark Journey is almost twice as long as Eaters: The Beginning, so it also took longer to write than the first one.
The rough draft is in the capable hands of my favorite beta readers, and I am anxious to get their feedback and edits. Depending on how long they take, I hope to have it posted online within a week or so. Now, it's time to start on Eaters: Destination. I have some notes already started...and I know how it ends.