Saturday, June 23, 2012

Novel Update III

Up to 17,500 words.  Finished Chapter 7 and I will likely start and finish Chapter 8 tonight, so that will put the word count somewhere in the 19,000 range.  Thoughts are flowing real good right now and I'm beginning to develop a plan for releasing the rest of the novel.  This really is a dynamic, learning as I go process.  I have always wanted to write a book, but this is my first attempt.  I hope everyone is enjoying it and I would really love some feedback from everybody. 

I am considering fleshing out some of the characters outside of the novel format; if there is anyone that you would like to know more about, let me know.  It would likely be in a short story format.  Not necessarily a bio, but more like a snippet from their past before the world went mad.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Novel Entry 4 - Chapter 1 (2 of 2)

  Friday Evening Teaser - End of Chapter 1:

 The two men continued on with what one might consider the small talk of some strange new world.  Sasha playfully gnawed at her bone, occasionally looking up at the two and tilting her head to the side, as if to admit confusion at some bit of news or gossip.  The men praised the acts of the now famous neighbors and how lucky the unnamed farm was to have neighbors close enough to hear and respond to the violence.  The two men realized, without mention, the similarities between the unnamed farm and their own.  Jake had bought twenty acres from Frank nearly ten years earlier – a parcel right next to the Thames homestead, much to the chagrin of Frank’s children.  The two had met through a realtor friend of Frank’s; she knew his situation:  Frank needed the liquidity to continue running the farm, but didn’t want to openly list the property and deal with the numerous random potential buyers stalking through the tall ryegrass and among the pecan trees that dotted his winter pasture.  She told him that it was just part of the process, but he refused:  “You’ll know the right buyer when you meet him – and when you do, send him my way.”  And so she did; Franklin Thames and Jake Sellers had a longneck and a long talk befitting old friends in Frank’s hayloft overlooking the property that first evening, and began the process of transfer the next day.  It took another week to formalize the transfer, but to both men the handshake at the conclusion of the first evening was the true point of sale.  Relative to the other homesteads and farmhouses, Jake’s house was unusually close to Frank’s old ranch style home, but the two families from different eras enjoyed the friendship that blossomed from that closeness.
            The men exchanged a few final words and nodded as they parted; Sasha stood to stretch and let out a high pitched whine as she yawned, and trotted off with Jake.  Jake and Sasha crossed the fence and continued to the back of the property to finish the morning outing.  The cool morning air began to betray the welcome arrival of autumn; the gentle breeze of the season would soon enough rustle the buttery, nut-like fruits from their perches high in the branches of the near perfectly aligned rows of pecan trees.  He looked forward to trading them for some of Mrs. Thames’ locally renowned pecan pies in return. 
            Jake’s pleasant anticipation was soon reigned in as his mind focused back on the reality of his situation; it had been peaceful enough for longer than any of them expected, but now the problems of the urban, and subsequently suburban areas had finally reached their sleepy community.  Besides the price of everything multiplying by a factor of at least five and mass unemployment, the first truly noticeable effect of the troubling storm cloud that had settled over them was the increasingly common blackouts. 
The first instance seemed innocent enough, a sub-station failure during a thunderstorm that probably just needed a quick repair by the utility company.  When the utility crew arrived onsite, they were violently ambushed, beaten and robbed.  By the second or third ambush, a worker was kidnapped and ransomed.  The workers eventually refused to perform any repair work without a police escort.  In the beginning this delayed the restoration of electricity by several hours, but as violence increased in the cities the delay would often be a day or longer.  This seemed to escalate the cycle of violence and unrest fueled the swift deterioration of the expected quality of life. 
His mind continued to wander as he approached the back of his house.  His wife’s silhouette appeared at the threshold of the back French doors.  “Come on in hun, breakfast is almost ready.” 
Jake stopped for a moment and grinned at her, his right hand instinctively coming to rest on the wood grip of the Ruger .357.  Sasha poked her head between his legs, plopped down on her haunches and looked at Kate.  
“What are you two staring at?”  Kate struggled to refrain the smile that was slowly creeping across her face as she playfully put her hands on her hips and feigned disdain.
“We just wanted to take you in for a moment; you look beautiful.”
“Oh hush!” she quipped, still smiling, “I look like a wreck; save your smooth talk for when you need it!”  She spun abruptly, hiding her blushing cheeks from him and marched back inside in an exaggerated manner.  Jake grinned and scratched Sasha behind her ear before starting towards the house.  Her tail wagged in delight as she bounded along beside him. 
Katelyn planted a loud kiss on Jake’s lips as she smiled and handed him two plates; he grinned as he spun and carried them to the rectangular oak table in the small dining nook.  He admired her figure as she grabbed her plate and a fresh pot of coffee and walked towards him; she shot him a wink and then poured the coffee into three cups already set on the table.  Jake’s brother Geram was slowly dragging himself to the table with one eye still closed.  He stretched his arms to the ceiling and slumped into the chair opposite of Jake.  “Kate you’re too good to this man; fried ham, eggs and home grown blueberries – you got a sister?”
She laughed, “Yes I am and you know she’s married, Geram.”
“That’s alright, as long as you make an extra plate when you cook for this guy, I can cope.”  Geram grinned as he popped a half frozen blueberry in his mouth and finished defrosting it with a sip of coffee. 
“You’ll have a plate here as long as you want it,” Jake added.  He finished his first egg, then continued, “Mr. Thames lost a calf last night to some poachers; they field dressed it in the pasture and left what they couldn’t carry or fit in an ice chest.  Did you see anything last night on your watch?”
“I had a dark SUV creep by us and the Thames’ at about zero one hundred, but I never saw them come back by.  I tried to get a number on the occupants with the binoculars, but it was too dark to see inside the vehicle, even with the full moon.” 
Jake nodded, “The only vehicle that I saw on my watch had the same description; they came by around 4 o’clock, but they weren’t creeping.”
“That would have given them enough time to scout and get the calf.” 
Jake nodded in agreement as he stabbed several blueberries with his fork and lifted them to his mouth.  The light banter at the beginning of breakfast had faded and the three were more solemn now.  Kate topped off the boys’ cups and left them alone as she went to feed Sasha some scraps.      
Jake pushed his plate aside and leaned forward, eyeing Geram, “It’s been two days since you showed up.  They don’t let you just drop in on family for several days while you’re in active duty.  You ready to talk yet, SEAL?”

Novel Update II - Book Cover

Novel Cover Complete.  Thoughts?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Novel Update

I am at the end of Chapter 6 now, about 14,000 words.  I'm shooting for at least 2,000 word chapters and have a good idea of where I want to take the story.  I would say I am somewhere around 25% complete.  Chapter 2 is my favorite chapter so far, I can't wait to share it with you.  I've picked up some steam and have put about 6,000 words to paper in the past week or so. The post quality will suffer while I'm writing so bare with me. I'm still not sure how much of the novel I will release here. Anyway, I'd love some thoughts and opinions on all things novel.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Novel Entry 3 - Chapter 1 (1 of 2)

He drifted in and out of that state of consciousness that was not quite asleep, not quite awake.  The sun was beginning to crest the loblolly and slash pine tops to his right and kiss the pasture beyond with its warmth.  As twilight slowly relinquished its dominion once again, he was gently tugged away from his lull.  Jake was not sure how long it had been since he had last heard the coffee perking, but even a bitter cup would be satisfying enough.  He grabbed the long barreled revolver from the table beside him and slid it into the worn leather holster as he sauntered into the kitchen.  A smile crept across his face as he poured the cup and stirred in the smallest amount of creamer.  The percolator was just another small trespass against what was expected, and he enjoyed that.
His stroll back outside was more purposeful as he began to feel the coffee’s effects.  Jake gripped the revolver and slid it back on the table as he surveyed the back of his property and the adjoining pastures.  It was peaceful and inviting – everything the world had ceased to be.  The spring fog acted like a blanket over the distant pond in front of him.  Several wood ducks quacked amongst themselves as they meandered aimlessly across the water, occasionally dipping beneath the surface for a minnow or maybe some pond weed.  He could faintly see a few white oaks beyond the fog and pines, as the fields briefly gave way to the stands of timber and eventually the hardwood swamp beyond.  Satisfied with the serenity, he downed the last of his coffee and stepped off the deck to scan the rest of the property, and reflect.
“How did we ever get so far off the path?” he thought to himself.  He knew the answer, even as he asked himself.  It was incremental; the seemingly small choices a people make are what ultimately destroy it.  The swings of society’s pendulum were almost always met with an equal and opposite force, but the nudges away from sanity always remaned.  It was the nudges, the values of a wiser generation that never connected with their sons and daughters; the lessons of history that were lost or rewritten.  He paused for a moment as he plucked a cold hardy mandarin and rubbed his thumb across the leathery and pitted skin as he continued on.  One day, a point of singularity is finally reached:  the nudges become shoves and reality seems to change in days and weeks rather than generations.  A paradigm shift occurs before your eyes.    
In one motion he lobbed the unripe citrus and lifted his hand to wave to Franklin Thames, his neighbor.  Frank easily had three long decades on Jake.  His skin was weathered by years of working the land and his world view was molded by the time spent in reflection of wars fought long ago that he was too young to understand in his youth.  He wore faded brown overalls with a dusty, half-breed, western hat.  Frank’s right arm cradled his ancient lever-action carbine and his left hand pinched a hand-rolled cigarette.  Frank was standing over a heap in his pasture as he motioned Jake his way.  Sasha, Jake’s German shepherd, was already with Frank, contently occupied with the thing firmly held in her mouth; he was the only other man Sasha would tolerate.  Jake had tried to break her from leaving, but if Frank was tending to the cattle, she would split time between the two men.  Jake eventually relented, partly because he knew Frank appreciated her keeping watch while he worked.
Jake spread the barbed wire wide enough to duck through and approached the two; the heap on the ground now obvious to him.  Frank took one last drag of the tobacco before stamping it out with the Cuban heel of his boot:
“Jake, what the hell are we going to do?  This is the second one this month.  I guess it’s finally made it here.”
            Jake examined the partially field dressed calf, its most prized cuts crudely removed sometime the night before.  The thing in Sasha’s mouth Jake had noticed from a distance was a bone of some sort that she had retrieved from the remains.  “Frank, I’m sorry; we never heard a thing.  How many calves does that leave you with?”
            “Ten, but I expect them to be gone before much longer if I don’t make provisions to bring them in closer to the house.  I don’t have the manpower to watch it all.”
            “I heard from Mr. Gaston that a farm not far from here was attacked two nights ago; there was about six of them.  The gunfire woke the neighbors; they started returning fire with rifles after they realized what was going on.  They hit one of them; he bled out after his friends left him.  The family didn’t even realize he was there until the next morning; everyone was too afraid to go outside.”
            “Yea, I heard about that.  The Sheriff showed up and took the body, but they didn’t even collect shell casings.  Son, they’re trying damn hard to stem the tide and losing ground every day – we’re on our own out here.”