I am in the process of writing up “Broken Pieces,” which is one of the blog-only novels I had promised a long time ago. Many of you guys are already doing weekly series like this where you post a chapter at a time and often don’t worry about how good the grammar is or how well-developed the characters are.
I think its a chance to step out of the mindset I have had with the newspaper and my novel where I fight and fight and stress over being perfect. I mean, it happens when you win 10th place for newspaper at a national convention, but it probably isn’t healthy.
I am at the stage where, like in the music world Def Leppard reached in about 1993, where you work so hard on one thing and doing that one thing right, that it becomes tiresome and repetitive. I’m ready to play around for a while by writing a novel that comes straight from my dreams and didn’t become victim to excessive outlining.
So, I present to you a teaser for “Broken Pieces,” a look at what the first chapter will be about:
What happens when an advanced alien race stumbles upon a distress signal from a planet only seen from laser technology? They go find it obviously, but what happens when the planet under distress happens to be Earth, and an even more advanced alien race is warring with humankind?
“Broken Pieces” will attempt to answer those questions.
I wrote the first few pages of The Peacemakers last night. It will definitely need some editing and restructuring, but its fine for now. Here is the opening scene to the novel. Its pretty rough, but it gives me the right idea of what it should be like when its done.
There was a knock at the door.
A voice in the hallway. A female. There was another knock at the door, then the squeak of the door handle.
“Nolan, wake up!”
Nolan opened his eyes, the light from outside his bedroom blinding him momentarily. His girlfriend stood there in her night gown, her hands trembling. “Nolan, wake up. We have to go, now.”
Nolan sat up, rubbing his eyes vigorously. How long had she been trying to wake him? “What’s wrong? Its…” he turned to look at the red digital clock on his nightstand. “It’s three in the goddamn morning.”
Last year I came up with an idea for a novella called Paladins. The story would have connected horror, urban fantasy, and a generic superhero story line together into a new beast. I was excited about starting it, but I never did. This was as far as I had gotten. I did have an entire chapter finished in another version of the novella, but it took a really awful turn and I would rather forget that it ever existed.
The alarm clock beeped as I was drawn out of a nightmarish sleep. I felt as though my mind had been pulled from the depth of the deepest, blackest ocean. The dreams were there, but I couldn’t quite remember what they were about. I only saw darkness. I reached up from the warm sheets and into the frigid air to slide the alarm off.
5:40 A.M. Too early to be waking up every morning. I roll over and find that Tao was gone, a small crescent shape left behind from where he had been lying not too long before.
What to do now?
Well, I might still write it as a short story on this blog during the summer as a weekly or biweekly segment. Who knows. I never get rid of anything I write just in case I want to do something with it in the future.
Do you have any stories or novels like this that are just sitting neglected in your closet or on your hard-drive?
For my experimental dystopia novel, The Peacemakers, I am thinking about opening the novel with a grim scene. By that, I mean a scene that shows what someone just entering the world would immediately pick up on: the blood stained streets, the piles of burning bodies, and the deep pits from the bombs.
Even though I am using Camp NaNoWriMo to edit my fantasy novel I do plan on writing a bit in my new dystopia project, which is currently titled The Peacemakers. It is my pleasure to introduce the cast of my new novel (so far):
Whenever I start writing a novel or short story I do a little bit of world-building. I usually start with a map and develop names for countries, major cities, bodies of water, and mountain ranges. Then I start plotting them on the map and take a look at what relations they could have with one another.
For example: does country A have a peaceful border with country B, or do they constantly war with one another? Does this river have an affect on this town or this economy?
Then I usually get into style of government, leaders, and brief histories that I can tie into my story.
How much world-building do you do before you write your novel? What types of questions do you ask yourself regarding world-building?
As I have mentioned before, I am taking a short break from my fantasy series to explore some neglected areas of my writing. So, I started various side projects like Timber that I posted earlier, and this one. I don’t even have plans to make these into anything, they were just fun to write. These side projects are allowing me to escape from the confines of my planned out fantasy series, and all I have to do is start writing. Wherever it takes me, the destination is good.
For this little project I ventured into the life of a retired…well…I wouldn’t want to spoil anything, so I’ll leave it at that.
Excerpt from “A Good Day to Die” – August 9th & 10th 2014.
The sound of sprinklers always got to James Pursley. Not in the bad way like when things just change your mood from good to grumpy, but in the calm and soothing way that made him feel young again. He listened to the sprinklers go “tick, tick, tick, tick, tickkkk!” The screams of neighborhood children playing around made him think of his childhood, when he too loved to run through the sprinklers.
He was laying back in his lounger on the earthy-stained wood deck in his backyard. His black aviators kept the glare of his neighbor’s solar panels from blinding his sensitive blue eyes. He lay there to soak in the rare Washington sunshine and the cloudless bright blue skies, speckled with low-flying jet airlines bound for Seattle-Tacoma International and Globemasters bound for JBLM to boot.
It was a jolly good day to be alive in his books, but unfortunately he had just sold them all at the community garage sales the past weekend. Got a couple bucks out of them old first editions though, he thought. And that was all right with him. Afterall, he was a retired man now. And boy was he glad to be done with that dark chapter of his life.
But, he was burning. He got up and walked slowly into the shaded half of his deck, where the overhang’s outdoor fan immediately left him feeling cool. He sat down at the table, slipping a clean black vinyl record onto his turntable. He slowly lowered the precious needle into the grooves as it began to pop and crackle. Then the soothing sounds of Jim Croce’s “Rapid Roy (That Stock Car Boy)” began to drift from the speakers. James sang along, not missing a beat.
Just as his favorite part of the song started to play, he grabbed his glass of iced tea and held it up in front of him, blocking his views of the majestic Mount Rainier and its snowy glaciers. “To forever and always. It’s a good day to be alive!”
The wind began to whip through his backyard, twirling his hanging flower baskets and blowing pine needles across the gray deck. Wind was frequent in his master-planned neighborhood, since it was positioned right along the forested edges of the top of a 500 foot tall hill. The wind always blew right through the gaps in the massive houses as it cruised on towards the Cascades. Even so, James was taken off guard.
What a way to end a gorgeous day! He thought. The wind will surely bring the clouds in.
But he supposed that was also alright. He had chosen to settle down in the south sound region, hadn’t he? He could have moved to Arizona or California, but he chose to return to his childhood home town. He had moved all the way across the country to return. He had done it for the mountains: the sunrise was always so spectacular coming over the snowy peaks. He did it for the clear rivers and creeks and forest lakes, where he could fish and catch those crawdads. Most of all, he did it because the west was free. It was the only place he could go hiking through the snow-covered mountain meadows at ten, take a ferry across the Puget Sound for a nice seafood dinner at five, marry a man at six, and smoke weed at seven, without seeming out of place. Of course, that would be the case if he was into any of that, which he could happily say he was not.
He liked it here, even the rush hour traffic on the I-5 and the 512. Hell, he even enjoyed watching the meth addicts tweak around south Tacoma on his way to downtown’s antique alley, even if it took half an hour to reach the city from the suburbs. Anything was better than his old life, and hadn’t he loved that too? Oh yes, he had loved every minute of it. Now, it all seemed so distant, like a dream he had awoken to last week.
High thoughts came to an abrupt end when he felt the ice cold edge of the knife to his throat, pushing against his stubbled neck.
I don’t even know how I got to writing this. I decided to take a break from my epic fantasy series for a few days, just to let my creative juices flow. But then I did something strange. Instead of powering up Microsoft Word 2010 or Scrivener, I took out an old journal that I used to write in back in ninth grade. Then I grabbed my favorite green mechanical pencil and I just started writing for a good ten minutes.
It started off with a description of my surroundings, of the bright blue skies and the majestic Mount Rainier peaking out over my fence line. I even noted the kids in the neighboring houses playing in the sprinkler. But then I scratched it all and started over.
Now it resembles none of that. It is something different, and something that is much closer to my heart than my fantasy series. Enjoy, give feedback, or don’t…if that’s your choice. I don’t mind.
Excerpt from “Timber” – August 9, 2014
The November issue of South Wood High School’s Timber newsmagazine was the same as always. A lack-luster symbolic tabloid photograph was plastered to the cover page in a thick inky mess, the colors so distorted that only the news staff knew what it was supposed to be: the editor-in-chief chained to a school district official, who was ripping apart a copy of the first amendment to the United States Constitution.
No one but the staff of the newsmagazine even cared about the paper. Most of the 1700 copies ended up in recycle bins or neat stacks by the doors of classrooms, awaiting a Timber representative to take them away forever.
The students who did dare to open the bulky and inky newsprint were bombarded by lengthy articles and thick black headlines and decks that screamed “READ ME! READ ME!” On page two there was an article about the increasing violence and road rage in the school parking lots, featuring not one, but two dark photographs of the overcrowded lots: the cars blending in with the pavement. On page four there was a full-page sports feature on the star quarterback of the South Wood football team, complete with a blown-up photo of his cocky smile. For those still reading the paper, page seven had a poorly worded opinion article on Thanksgiving, in which the reporter concluded that turkeys were in fact beautiful creatures that shouldn’t be eaten. On the next page the same reporter had written a “Wacky News” article on immortal lobster power, the text completely surrounded by illustrations of lobster claws and butter dipping sauce.
Perhaps the greatest part of the issue was the seven-page In-Depth cover story about student press rights: urging students to join in the fight against the Silver Meadow School District’s prior review and censorship regulations.
“As if anyone cares,” Ted Eppe said. “I’m sorry, but your newspaper appeals to that one percent of the school that sleeps under the stairs during study hall because they’ve smoked too much weed.” He paused to turn to the back cover. “But, your lunch menu looks great! Cardboard Hawaiian pizza tomorrow. Delicious!”
Elizabeth Plant, “Lizzy” to all her friends, slapped the varsity football player with a rolled up newspaper, leaving an ink spot on his bare shoulder. “We did our best with what we had. It’s not my fault that all of the sophomore reporters are complete duds. I should fire every one of them at semester.”
The Wall scorched the man’s hand, flooding in around his rough flesh and trapping it there for the usual sequence. The man strained as he tried to pull away from the red field, veins popping out through his fit arms.
He knew there wasn’t much time.
He could feel his hand melting into the world beyond. It was like his skin had been pulled apart from the rest of his hand, and then cooked ‘well’ until the very blood turned into its gaseous form. He knew it was an illusion, but the pain was real.
He could recall that he had passed through The Wall many times before, each time worse than the one before. He couldn’t take it anymore: the unnecessary suffering, the draining of strength, and the quickening evolution of fear. He had to escape.
“Relax,” the familiar voice said from somewhere above. “You must be cleansed.”
“Cleansed? You call this cleansing?” He asked, spitting at The Wall. “I got something to tell you, I…agh!”
The pain from the current of electricity that had just passed through him caused him to partially collapse, hanging to the wall by his locked hand. He kicked at the wall, yelling in pain as his toes broke on impact. The rubber-toed shoes were completely stripped by the kick, The red Wall appearing to shimmer with delight.
“I bet you love that!”
The man had this all planned out. He wouldn’t take any more of it. “Hey, I’ve got somethin’ to say to you,” he began, reaching down for his black bag on the floor. “It’s a little song from the old days: we’re not gonna take it, no, we ain’t gonna take it…”
He opened the bag with his free hand, withdrawing a sharp, jagged rock. He raised it above his head and brought it down upon his wrist. He screamed as the pain rippled through his body, but he kept smashing at his wrist, warm blood trickling down his arm and dripping onto the floor. He couldn’t tell if the self-inflicted pain was better or worse than that of The Wall, but it didn’t matter.
He was free.
His hand remained inside the wall, melting as it passed through at a pace slower than a turtle. He began to laugh as he dropped the rock on the ground, looking at his crushed wrist. He turned to run, tripping over his bag as he headed through the corridors. The Wall howled in anger and the ground began to shake and bend.
He had become too weak to go any further. He collapsed to the ground, trying his best to crawl. He heard footsteps and a thousand screams. He felt lost and defeated, yet also victorious and found.
“Come and take me!”
Then the man was lifted by his feet, being hauled along the floor by cold hands. “You have expired. Protocol must be initiated.”
He felt a claw to his head, then a buildup of pressure. He let his mind wander as blood dripped from his nose. His eyes bulged and his ears began to ring. For the first time in his life, he actually wanted to live. But it was too late.
“Protocol requires that I take out the trash.”
It would be the last words the man would ever hear.