Sunday, December 14, 2008

Stuck in a Rut

Yep. I'm stuck in a rut. It's almost winter, it's very cold, and I'm stuck.

That's all!

Friday, December 12, 2008

New Short Story - The Infestation

The infestation started a month prior. It began with one lurking in the dark. One quickly became two, and soon, there was a pack. It took a couple of days to notice what was happening. Television channels dropped off one by one starting with local access until C.N.N. was the last.

Dave had seen this before, of course. The flesh-eating vermin had been following him as long as he could recall. They were fearsome with their pallor, their stench, their shuffling gait. Their lack of coordination, their looks of confusion, their fear of fire made them humorous, but it took Dave a while to see that side of them.

Once, in Poughkeepsie, he shouted “what do you want?” to a couple that had shadowed him for the better half of a day. The taller one had responded by taking a bite out of his companion’s shoulder. Dave drove out of town that night with his dog and guitar and didn’t stop until he reached Shawnee.

From Shawnee, he went to El Segundo; El Segundo to Conyers. Conyers to Missoula, where he stayed for eleven months – the longest without a sighting.

The landlord’s daughter was the first to be converted. Dave saw her every morning on the way to the temp agency for his new assignment. At first glance, it appeared that she had a touch of flu, but her skin tone was gray and movements were choppy. She was still able to hold a conversation and each morning they talked about the upcoming town election, the church bake sale, or anything else that came up.

Like in every other town, the landlord’s daughter was followed by other town residents. They would watch Dave’s every move with eyes only and then the parade would start. Dave Michaels, the pied piper of the corporeal undead.

Each time he encountered them, there was a modification to their behavior. They stopped smelling. They were more nimble. They developed speech. They worked in convenience stores. They kept pets.

Without notice, the power was cut.

They were getting smarter.

Dave got up from the couch and peered out from the slits in the window blind. He turned to his dog, who became one of them in Agawam. “More zombies, Teddy.”

Teddy didn’t seem surprised by this news. Dave wasn’t either.

He left the window, picked up the flamethrower, and opened the door. There were more than usual. In fact, it was the largest group he had seen. They were standing on the lawn, bodies of all sizes waving like stalks in a field of grain. All ignored the “Trespassers will be engulfed in flame” sign. One stood apart from the rest.

“Mayor Lowell, get this crowd off my lawn. I flame throw without notice.”

The mayor stood with a vacant stare, not giving Dave or the flamethrower the caution it deserved. The crowd’s numbers swelled and seconds ticked by. They all stared at Dave; the mayor tilted his head to the side like Teddy had done countless times and licked his lips. That was new.

“Mayor, I told you to clear this…”

Dave’s words stuck in his throat as in the shadows he saw three figures shambling along. They were back, the original zombies, the ones he ran from originally. Their bodies had reached the final stages of decay, but his old roommates were instantly recognizable.

He heard an explosion and turned to see the mayor’s head erupt in a fountain of blood and bone. An incisor struck Dave in the eye, narrowing his field of vision drastically. It was in that moment he realized that the originals weren’t to be trifled with and had somehow learned to use firearms.
In the next moment, he realized that the flamethrower was no longer in his hand. Or that his hand was attached to his arm. In fact, the arm was lying on the grass a foot away from the flamethrower and what used to be Mayor Lowell. He didn’t feel anything fall off and there was no trace of blood. It made no sense.

He bent down to retrieve the flamethrower with his still-attached hand, but paused. The mayor smelled delectable. The thought didn’t disgust him and that didn’t bother Dave in the least. It actually made him hungry. He bent closer, lifted the mayor’s leg, and sniffed. It reminded him of Beef Bourguignon. A taste confirmed it. Did Dave taste like beef or chicken?

As he went in to sample his hand, he felt pressure enter the left side of his skull and leave through the right. He lost all control and fell to the ground, the world turning to dusk. The world grew silent, punctured with occasional bits of conversation.

“…Finally caught up to him… Evaded us this long… At least a few thousand… How did the dog get…? Now… It’s ended.”

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Cutting is Beneficial

I finished my latest round of revisions for FALLING TO NORMAL just now.

One thing that strikes me as funny is that I did this while a family poker game is going on in the background. With my husband, father, aunt, and two uncles. One of the uncles is wearing a cheeseburger hat complete with wig. I don't know why, but he is. He and my father just went to the grocery store. My uncle is still wearing the hat. This is funny because my family unbeknownst to them have given me some of the best material for this book. I love how they are here for the latest revision.

Even if they are wearing cheeseburger hats.

I just went through my drafts to see what I've done since I've taken this up full time in 2004. Here's a brief snapshot.

First draft completed June 2006. It had 319 pages and 82,000 words. It also had a prologue and was missing a lot of important information. So I needed to go to my second draft.

The second draft was completed two years later, this past June. I took so long because of wedding planning and Oracle kicked my ass. I beefed it up to 441 pages and 109,780 words, which is way too long for a YA book. It also still had the dreaded prologue. All backstory which needed to go elsewhere. I had to go through it again.

The third draft is what I just finished. It sits at 357 words and 87,000 words and the prologue is gone. I'm so proud of myself with this latest revision. I took a couple of weeks and read through it a couple of times. I managed to cut 50 pages of scenes from the previous version to the latest.

I didn't think it was possible, but am glad that I could do it. That means I'm one step closer to where I need to be.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Jumping the Shark

My friend Danielle and I were discussing this last night: can a novelist jump the shark? I think they can.

Take Anne Rice and the Vampire Chronicles, for example. I think she did this exact thing towards the end of the series two different ways. The first was by integrating the Mayfair witches with the vampires. The second was by giving Lestat a Christ complex.

What do you think? Can novelists pull a Fonzie? Who has?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

One Down...

... More to go!

I sent out my first official query today to Serendipity Literary Agency. Go me!It wasn't a standard query, as I met with the agent at Grub Street's Muse & The Marketplace writer's conference this past year. Grub Street does a manuscript portion for an extra fee, which I gladly paid. It was a good experience and stroked my ego a bit. So, I emailed her a quasi-query reminding her that she wanted to see my manuscript when I was done. Now, I wait.

I agree with Tom Petty. Waiting is the hardest part.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Cheyenne and Lucky's Grand Adventure

I previously stated how my cats are the best form of distraction ever. I still hold to that, but would like to add a disclaimer: DISTRACTIONS ARE BAD WHEN THEY HIT BEFORE DAYLIGHT.

In case you've never seen the cats, look here:

Cheys and Lucks

Cute, huh? They are the devil incarnate.

Cheyenne (the stripey one) is viciously clever and somewhat of a trouble maker. She has a tendency to open doors and tear open bags of treats. Lucky (the white one) is rather dumb and quite possibly can be considered the Tommy Lee of the feline world. He also likes to destroy things - vases get smashed, video cards cracked, keyboard keys pulled off... you get the idea. He's also some kind of Oriental cat so he talks. Frequently. We've gotten used to these kitty quirks. They're cats, this is what they do.

It's summer, so they like the windows to be open. We have a small one that stays open in our bedroom during the summer that overlooks our driveway and the side street. Since they're indoor cats, this is the extent of the outside for them unless we take them on the porch on a leash or the the vet in the carrier, like normal indoor cats. They fight over the windowsill view most of the time, but lately Lucky has been taking to curling up on the bed and Cheyenne perching near the window. She likes bird watching, so this is fine.

It was a ruse.

It was a night of broken sleep for me, so I heard everything all night long, including the odd scratching noise. I looked up and saw Cheyenne on the windowsill and told her to be quiet. The noise stopped for a little and started again. Then Lucky jumped off the bed. I heard the noise again. I looked back up and saw Lucky on the sill and no Cheyenne, which is odd because I didn't hear her jump down. I got up to take a closer look to find Lucky OUTSIDE THE BEDROOM WINDOW.

Both of the cats were outside on the little roof that covers the entraceway to our basement. Cheyenne was sitting watching the sun and Lucky was pacing around. Cheyenne had tore a hole into the screen large enough for her to go through and then Lucky muscled his was through it and made it larger. The hole was maybe a little larger than a softball. When I called them they gave me that cat look that says "This is where WE belong. Leave us alone."

I freaked out and got Josh out of bed and in our pajamas at a little before 5.30 in the morning we stood in the driveway, trying to reclaim our cats. Josh nearly broke a plastic chair trying to get at them and I couldn't reach them at all since I'm a foot shorter. We woke the neighbors dog, which startled Lucky. Neither cat would jump down because it was too high. We figured that treats should work, what cat doesn't like treats?

I ran back inside and grabbed the treats, shaking them as I went back into the bedroom. Lucky heard them and as soon as I took some out, he forced his way back into the screen hole. Cheyenne, of course, wasn't buying it. She wanted the treats on the roof. I couldn't get the screen out of the window so Josh and I had to switch places. Finally he got it open and dragged her back inside.

The pre-alarm drama finally ending at 5.37, taking about 10 minutes at most but it felt much longer. Of course, the cats weren't fazed. The stripey one was purring away like nobody's business the whole time I was getting ready for work and the white one pulled himself up onto the bathroom window sill (with an exponentially stronger windowscreen) and began the morning ritual of watching cars.

I think it may be a 2-coffee, 1-energy drink kind of day.

Monday, August 25, 2008

A Case of the Mondays...

I can tell it's Monday because I can't put my fingers on the correct keys on this here laptop. The home keys don't exist for my fingers.

I was back at the florist I PT at for the first time in a week and my boss decided that I was going to work on some pricey arrangement. Amazingly, I did well. But Monday struck there too. It took me way too long to design a $35 basket and I left my scene notebook for my next novel on the workbench. It's bad because I need to finish that scene soon. Like, tonight soon. I hope I can relock the shop door with no problem. It's an older door and wicked problematic.

So, without the all important scene notebook and my newly acquired free time, I decided to begin agent searching. Then, I realized - I have no clue how to organize myself for this. If this was Tuesday, I'm sure I'd have a better grasp.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Hat's Off

I went to Shana's graduation party today and saw her first the first time and a year and a half. Just wanted to do a public congrats on her completing her PhD. It's a mammoth accomplishment.

Congrats Dr. Shana!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Sedentary

With the exception of a few bathroom runs, I have been sitting working on line edits for six hours. I never knew how exhausting it is to sit down and not move. But it wasn't in vain since I achieved so much today. All the line edits and feedback I had received and reviewed this week has been incorporated into the manuscript.

Hell, I even changed the book title with a little help from hubby. I was quite fond of Trials and Tribulations, but I was told it wouldn't resonate with the YA crowd and she was right. It's taken me four months to find a title that sat well with me. FALLING TO NORMAL is the new shiny title. The new title solved a lot of problems. Since I was pulling a lot of things out of my youth, including the town, things were getting tricky. We changed the town, gave it a nickname, and a lot of character names were no longer questionable or identifiable. Victory is mine. *insert evil laugh here*

I finally gotten around to opening the Twin Peaks complete series DVD that I got as a brithday present. In January. I'm now on episode 6. I forgot how good of a show Twin Peaks was, despite how messed up the whole town was. Imagine what it would be like if every small town was that messed up.

I do love Twin Peaks though it was before it's time. And being before it's time, it was on way after my bedtime. Boo!

The cats must have discovered that I called them a distraction. They steered clear of the bedroom until about an hour ago (around the time I was wrapping up edits). Now I have the white one laying in his favorite spot doing his impersonation of a seal. The white one, whose real name is Lucky, is a 24 pound cat. Depending on how he lays out he looks like a seal or a polar bear. He's a cat though; the vet confirmed it.

It's been a long-ass day and I need to stretch my legs before they freeze in an Indian-style position.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Musings

I've spent the past three days going over revisions of my completed manuscript. In the past three months the "phone book" has gone through about ten rounds of revisions. I'm more than ready to shuffle this thing off.

I understand that revision is part of all processes: writing, business, cows (not really, I just needed a third thing), but it sucks. Royally. Really. I'm not kidding.

During the final stage of working on this book, I've learned the following things:
  1. I hate hard-core editing.
  2. I have a fear of completion.
  3. I work best when someone's cracking a whip in my general direction.
  4. My cats are the best form of distraction ever.
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