End of Year Blitzkrieg

So here we are at the end of September, with three months left to go in 2014 (as hard as that is for me to believe). NaNoWriMo is coming up again in November too.

I’ve been messing around with KDP Select and pricing and whatnot for some time now. That stuff doesn’t produce new words. I’ve also been revising, editing and proofreading The Crossover Gene, which has sucked a lot of my time away from writing new words.

I need to finish Badlands #3 and I also want to write a novel for NaNoWriMo. I was going to do it last year, but since I ran behind on Badlands #2 it got pushed. This year I’m on schedule, so I’d really like to knock out that novel this time around. I also have some short stories I want to finish.

So with the decision to do a 90-day stint in KDP Select already behind me and with The Crossover Gene being uploaded to Amazon tomorrow, I figured I’d just go nose to the grindstone and write the hell out of the rest of the year. Finish Badlands #3 and the new novel and those short stories. No editing or proofing, just new words.

I’ll likely go silent here on the blog for a bit, but I might try to check in once a month or so. I’ll definitely check in again by end of year and tell how things went, what worked and what didn’t, etc. I’ll also update with info on my current KDPS stint.

So until then, take it easy.

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The Crossover Gene: Sneak Peek

Now that I’ve finished up the first draft of The Crossover Gene, I think it’s solid enough to put the first chapter out as a preview. Here it is, unedited and unproofread, for your reading pleasure!  🙂

The Crossover Gene Cover 100x160

 

Chapter One

Andy Davis squinted through a vodka haze as he waved to a pale girl in a white tank top behind the bar.

“Another,” he said with a drawn slur, trying to be heard above the loud music.

She flashed him a fake smile. “Sure thing, hon.”

She flipped over a shot glass and filled it with with rail vodka before sliding it toward him. “Four dollars.”

“Jesus. No wonder I drink at home.”

He handed her a five dollar bill and kept the change.

White Tank Top’s smile faltered.

Andy frowned. It’d taken her five full minutes to even notice him. Then she served two people in front of him. What did she want the tip for? Her deep cleavage?

He slammed the shot, recoiling at the burn as he snagged a glance at White Tank Top’s ass. His mind wandered until he had to remind himself that he’d never had a chance with her anyway, even before he stiffed her on the tip. He should have been going home to Jenny, but that ended months ago. The best he could hope for was to keep it up long enough to jerk off before passing out.

Some life.

Today’s shit-storm at work (and the primary reason for being drunk again on a Wednesday night) had been over claims processing quotas. They wanted more work, Andy did less. He got seven different kinds of shit over it. It would only be a matter of time before they tossed him out on his ass; then he’d be scrounging for rent again.

And, of course, for another fix.

The smack was a nasty little fucker. He’d kicked it a half-dozen times, only to fall off the wagon each time. Currently he was off the wagon and lying in the middle of the road. The vodka didn’t quite feed the hunger the way the heroin did, but it helped. Surely better than nothing.

He waved a hand in the air for another shot that he knew he’d regret. White Tank Top ignored him again.

Well, whatever. Fuck her then. He still had ten bucks in his wallet and that would buy him a twelve pack at the 7-Eleven. He could use that to stretch out the night’s buzz. Besides, the guy at the convenience store didn’t expect a tip just for doing his goddamn job.

Andy dismounted the bar stool, nearly losing his balance. He used the bar to steady himself before shooting one more look back at White Tank Top. She remained oblivious to his existence, her back toward him as she washed shot glasses.

Oh, that ass…

He knew he should just give up on women altogether, but it was an odd sort of torture to want rid of something he couldn’t live without. A lot like the drugs, when he thought about it.

He checked his pockets for his phone and wallet before stumbling toward the front door. On the way out he glanced at the bouncer, a guy he knew from high school.

Their eyes met.

No recognition at all.

Andy stumbled through the door and onto the sidewalk. Outside, the sweltering humidity of the night air threatened to suffocate him as sweat beads ran down his back. August was the worst in St. Louis.

He suddenly realized he had to piss. Begrudgingly he headed back to the bar.

The bouncer held up a hand. “No way, pal. You’re cut off.”

Andy glared. “But I have to piss.”

“Piss in the alley then.”

Andy thought of telling the guy he’d just piss in his eye instead, but thought better of it when he got a look at the bouncer’s arms. As big as Andy’s legs. No wonder he was a bouncer.

Grumbling, Andy sauntered off in search of a suitable alley in which to relieve himself. He turned a corner and stumbled into the dark and narrow corridor behind the buildings. Beneath his feet, large swatches of the original brick still showed where the asphalt had begun to crack and break away.

He walked a few dozen feet into the shadows to avoid detection. Public urination could get somebody listed as a sex offender if they weren’t careful. He didn’t need that shit on top of everything else. He found a dumpster and sidled up to it. A quick glance around revealed no onlookers. A strong odor of rotten eggs wafted from somewhere.

He unzipped and let go.

Sweet relief.

A voice behind him caused him to jump.

“Andrew Davis.”

Andy closed his eyes. Shit. The cops.

He zipped and turned around. Before him stood three men; two wearing Fedora hats and something resembling pinstriped zoot suits with the third dressed in casual street clothes. The two in suits looked as if they’d jumped straight out of an bizarre gangster movie.

“Andrew Davis,” the man on the left repeated. Tall, his face covered with a couple days’ worth of stubble, his accent sounded strange. Andy couldn’t place it.

The man on the far right spoke with the same strange accent. “Your posterity statement?” he said.

“What the hell’s going on here?” Andy said, struggling to concentrate through the vodka.

The man on the right spoke again. “A posterity statement. Do you wish to make one?”

Andy only stared, befuddled.

The man in the middle spoke. He had an American accent. “Looks like no statement, boys. Go ahead.”

“On your knees,” the tall man on the left said.

Andy shook his head. “Wait…what?”

The man on the right grabbed Andy by both shoulders, forcing him down on his knees.

“What the hell, man!” Andy slurred. “I don’t know who you guys are, but this isn’t funny anymore.” The sulphuric smell of rotten eggs reeked so badly that he thought he might vomit.

“Close your eyes, kid,” the man with the American accent said. “You don’t want to see this coming.”

Andy felt his balls constrict as the two large men produced revolvers that looked like miniature Gatling Guns. They pointed them at his face.

Andy closed his eyes. Tears began to well. This is how he would die: killed in a filthy alley with a bullet in his brain, put there for reasons he couldn’t understand.

He always thought it would be with a needle in his arm.

He kept his eyes closed and waited for the end.

Two shots rang out, back to back, followed by the thud of bodies striking the pavement.

“Get up,” the American said.

Andy slowly opened his eyes. Before him the man stood holding a 9mm pistol, the bodies of his comrades crumpled on the ground on either side, surrounded by growing pools of dark-red blood.

The man extended his hand. Andy could only stare.

“There’ll be more where these guys came from, I can guarantee that. Especially once they find out about all this.” He gestured toward the dead bodies. “I think you’ll want to come with me.”

Andy slowly extended his hand. The man pulled him to his feet.

“I’m Cliff. I’ll explain on the way.”

“The way to where?”

“Just come.”

As Cliff and Andy disappeared into the shadows of the alleyway, the bodies of the two dead men behind them began to smolder, quickly disintegrating into a gelatinous pool of brown sludge.

# # #

Stay tuned for more!

Final Push – Day 22 (Last Day)

typewriter_keysIt’s finished.

I got up relatively early this morning and just knocked it out. I tackled that fight scene first off, getting it finally down on the the page. The scene as a whole sucks, but it’s the first draft. By the time I get back around to it for the next draft, my head will be in a different place and I’ll have better perspective.

I wrote the “cigarette moment” scenes where the aftermath of the final battle is played out. Those scenes turned out really nicely. I don’t think they’ll require much rewriting.

I left the book somewhat open-ended so that if I want to write a sequel some day I can. Don’t worry, the primary story arc is complete and the protagonist’s character arc is also complete. Readers will feel a sense of closure, but the possibility of a new adventure with the survivors is still an option. I’m really happy with how it turned out.

I wrote 1,855 words today, bringing the grand total of the manuscript to 70,830. Just about where I expected. With rewrites it’ll probably grow another couple thousand words or so.

Screen Shot 2014-05-31 at 12.37.22 PM

 

I always love this part where the manuscript’s first draft is finished. It really does provide a sense of satisfaction. But immediately I think of how much work it’ll be to to the revisions. The only difference with this book is that I’ve already done subsequent revisions of two-thirds of the text after dusting it off and resurrecting it. With so much work already done, it’s likely to only take me a month or so on the revisions. We’ll see.

As for today? I’ll probably take the rest of the day off, maybe even the weekend. Come Monday, for sure, I’ll be back to the grind. Probably working on Badlands #3.

I hope you enjoyed this little series of posts. With any luck, chronicling the experience proved helpful to you.

Now get back to work on that book! It’s not gonna write itself. 🙂

 

Final Push – Day 21

typewriter_keysBetter day today at work, at least a little. Terrible traffic on the way home, which put us behind. We went out to dinner with the kids and some friends and then I knocked out some writing. I hit 400 words before coming to a screeching halt. I’ve been struggling with this fight scene at the end and it’s just not coming together. I took a break and pulled out a how-to book by Rayne Hall I bought some time back on writing fight scenes.

The book ended up helping me get focused and to decide just what kind of scene I was trying to write. Gave me some good ideas for tomorrow when I make my final push to get the manuscript finished. Right now it’s sitting at 68,975 words. So close.

Final Push – Day 18

typewriter_keysAfter four days away from my day job, I’m back to the grind today. I did manage to squeeze in 796 words, more than my quota (if the manuscript does indeed end up being 70k words). Problem is that at this point I can’t know for sure exactly how long it’ll be. I could find there’s more story there and end up running past my due date.

But I’m not going to worry too much about that. I’m on schedule and on track to complete 70k words by 5/31. If that isn’t enough to finish out the story, then we’re looking at only a couple of extra days. That’s not really a concern. When a project runs two or three months long (like Beyond the Badlands did) then it becomes a concern.

The manuscript sits at 67,626 words. My biggest struggle right now is figuring out just how long the final scenes should be. I have a fight going on between the protagonist and the antagonist; I want the scene to be long enough so that it’s satisfying to readers who’ve stuck with the story, but I don’t want to go on too long and bore people. We’ve all seen those car chases that just go on and on.

I also have a subplot with another character that’s wrapping up too. The challenge there is to resolve her situation without taking too much attention away from the main storyline.

I’m going to take a stab at it and use my gut. After that, I’ll be relying on the beta readers to tell me whether or not I accomplished what I set out to do. Luckily with Scrivener I can rearrange scenes with a simple drag and drop if the betas have viable ideas about altering the story’s pacing. I’ve been using mostly the same people for the past few years and they do a great job of telling me when I’ve gotten it right (or wrong).

I have an offsite lunch today, so no writing over the lunch break. I should be able to hit the quota tonight though (it currently sits at around 700 words). Really looking forward to wrapping this thing up.

Final Push – Day 17

A spectacular day for productivity. I woke up with terrible pain in my jaw (apparently I grind my teeth in my sleep which really fires up my TMJ), so I downed a few ibuprofen before getting to work on the manuscript. I knocked out around 1,200 words before taking a break.

I enjoyed my day off work (the day job, at least), spending some time with the kids before lying down for a nap. Unfortunately I ended up sleeping more than two hours; not what I’d planned. By the time I got up it was dinner time, so we ordered pizza and I wrote a little more.

After dinner we got the kids in the bath and then off with their Kindles for some reading time. My wife wasn’t feeling well, so she ended up going to bed really early, around 8:00 pm. I used that time to push onward and really make some progress.

Remember yesterday when I said my goal for today was 3,000 words? Well, here’s the proof:

Screen Shot 2014-05-27 at 12.53.15 AM

Initially, I hit 2,800 words and wanted to stop, but then when I saw how close I was I just had to keep going. Ended up going over a little in the end. I’ll take it.

The novel sits at nearly 67,000 words right now. I’m in the final scenes, the big fight at the end, which I’m sure is going to take a couple thousand more words to finish. And another character is fighting to survive. Then the “cigarette moment” after the climax, which will add some more. So it’s looking more like 72k in all, before rewrites. I’m fine with that.

I couldn’t be happier with the progress I’ve made today. I’ve been having fun with it too. The story’s really ramping up and I’ve been outlining as I go near the end. Some really spontaneous stuff has happened, which took me by surprise. I love it when that happens.

I started this story back in November of 2012 for NaNoWriMo and made it 5ok before stopping. So it’s been sitting there ever since, waiting patiently for me to come back to it. It’s really cool seeing it so close to completion. I can’t wait to bring it over the finish line.

By my estimates, I still have around 3-5k words left to finish this thing out. I have five days left before my deadline, so that puts my daily word quota at maybe 1k or less per day. That’s doable. Looks like I might hit 5/31 after all.

Final Push – Day 16

typewriter_keysA not-so-busy day in terms of yard work and such. Got up this morning and knocked out around 1,100 words or so before going out to fire up the grill. I’m not much of a grill master, but during the summer I do it a half-dozen times or so. I’m happy to report that all the food turned out great with nothing burnt…and that’s a real accomplishment for me. 🙂

After dinner, I got the kids in the bath while my wife went out to see a movie with a friend. I wasted a full hour on nonsense before finally buckling down and getting some more words down on the page. By the end of my second writing session I had totaled 1,851 words written today for a grand total of 63,723 for the entire novel.

I’m far enough along in the manuscript now that I’m feeling like it might only hit 70k, at least the first draft. I think there are “thin” parts of the text that’ll get filled in with some more words, but estimates are maybe 72k, maybe 73k tops. We’ll see how it all shakes out. I think you have to let the story tell itself and if that takes 70k words instead of 75k then so be it. It’s not like I’m paid by the word. 🙂

Really happy with my progress over the past couple of days. It’s pretty clear how much time my day job takes up, but it is what it is. Besides, I like my day job and the paychecks are steady. If I wrote full time I’d constantly be worrying about being able to pay the mortgage or whether or not we could afford braces for my kid. That would no doubt affect the writing. Of course if I sold like Stephen King, well…one can still dream, right?

It’s a holiday tomorrow, so I’m planning on getting up and hitting the keys hard. I’d love to see another couple thousand words come out of the day. Three thousand would be superb. I guess we’ll see this time tomorrow, won’t we? For now, it’s time to call it a day and watch Mad Men.

Final Push – Day 15

typewriter_keysAn absolutely packed day today. I got up a little early and knocked out around 1,200 words. I spent some time with the kids and then I went outside and did some yard work, mulching around the bushes in the backyard and watering everything.

By early evening we were off to dinner, followed by grocery shopping at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. We came home, unloaded everything and then headed back out again, this time to Target to pick up the rest of the list.

By the time we got home it was ten o’clock. We got the boys in bed and then I pushed on for some more words, totalling 1,901 for the day.

The novel sits at 59,971 which makes me wish I’d just pushed a little harder and got it to and even 60k. Even number preferences aside, all in all a good day.

Final Push – Day 14

A solid day in terms of productivity. I took a vacation day from work and after dropping the kids off at school I knocked out around 1,900 words. This brought the novel to just under 61k words. I hit a good stride where the words were really flowing. The story’s amping up to the climax, so it’s getting more interesting to write. Here’s a screen shot of the progress so far. Love to see the top bar so green. 🙂

Screen Shot 2014-05-23 at 2.09.33 PM

Since we have a long weekend ahead of us, I’m hoping the extra time will allow me to get in a few more days like this. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll hit my target of 5/31.