Friday, February 26, 2010

New Echoes of Erebus excerpt - a bit long for an excerpt, but read it, dangit!

Here's a freshly written, and not yet edited chunk of Echoes of Erebus. This excerpt happens to cross the 100 page mark, and is a step further into the ugly gritty half of the story.

For the record, earning it's place onto the unofficial soundtrack was Marilyn Manon's 'Beautiful People' which I was listening to when I wrote most of this scene. Manson's not so much my thing, generally, but the MP3 popped up randomly, and the sound seemed to fit the mood of the scene.. not the lyrics mind you.

He stood in a dimly lit concrete stairwell. The small space he stood in now connected to an extruded metal staircase. After the polished posh gym areas, it felt like he had stepped into an alternate reality. Only the muted sound of those weights hitting down rhythmically reminded him otherwise.
Bam. Bam. Bam.

In front of him a staircase of dark extruded metal reached downwards. This was the kind of thing he was looking for. He slumped to the floor, to sit and steady his nerves.

Breathe. Think of something relaxing. Like Brianna, and her magnificent qualities. On a beach. A nude beach. Doing yoga. Breathe. Greene took out his little work terminal, and made sure he still had a signal out. It reassured him again that he was not in another world. The sound of the weights were becoming less and less reassuring, sounding more and more like the heartbeat of something massive and inhuman.

Push that bit of imagination aside. Call back Brianna's yoga. Everything's fine. Everything's fine. You've just entered a dungeon looking for huge monsters tearing each other apart, that's all.
Thoughts of the nanite-enhanced pit fights forced their way into his head. His breathing became tight. He needed some water, and had none.

Get up. Get up and dust the tux off. Greene took a deep breath and took his first step down those stairs. That wasn't so hard. They made more noise than he wanted. Blame the hard leather soles. Step softly. No rush.
Tap, tap, tap down the stairs. When the sound of the weights in the gym stopped, he was grateful. At first. He was left with only his own sounds and their cold little echoes. He strained to hear the music form the gym, but not a note could reach him.

He considered playing some music softly from his terminal, but stealth was more important. Maybe if he had earphones. No, hearing things around him was equally as important.
That thought struck an extra chord of paranoia. He stopped, listening for anything.

Even a growl would at least give him an excuse to run screaming out of the hotel and face the chastising of Mr. Book. How did Greene get himself into this? Why didn't he bring a gun, or a platoon?
Careful with each step, not to slip nor make a sound, he was soon at the door of basement two. Curiosity would not get the better of him. Opening that door could only serve to ruin his stealth. Onward. Down. Again staring down a set of extruded dark metal stairs.

The concrete walls were damper and colder as he went down, moisture seeping upwards from the ground. At the last step, he stood on a glistening concrete floor. Greene looked up though the stairwells, up towards the door that led to the shiny world of the buxom Brianna. Knowing such beauty up there in the light, she attained the title of 'angel' in Greene's mind. As he stood at the door to the third layer of this concrete purgatory, he jokingly whispered a little prayer to Brianna.

Brianna, O, goddess of the pool, bounty be thine chest. Guard me as I trespass, as I forgive those who sent me here.

Alright, stop stalling.
He turned the knob as quietly as he could, and opened the door enough to peek. Inside was about as hospitable as the stairwell, continuing the theme of damp concrete, but now with masses of pipes streaming along the ceiling.
Two directions led from the door. One to the left, which he couldn't see much of due to the door, and one straight ahead. Roughly fifty meters, on the left side of the passage, stood a man in front of a door. He stood facing away from the door, staring at the wall across the passage. His arms were crossed across his large physique, and he did not move.

He was not wearing a tuxedo. Nor gym wear. This was notably urban apparel. High end stuff, but not in great shape. It looked like he had been sleeping in them, and they were not clean. Given what he was here to find, it was likely smears of blood. His jacket was zipped up high, to right under his nose. His eyes were hidden under broad, dark sunglasses.

Greene didn't feel much feel like talking to the man. The left path would do for now. He stepped out of the doorway, keeping an eye on the large man all the while. Still no movement. Green headed down the left passage. Whatever the goon was guarding was now to Green's right, though the wall. He got some distance from the corner and pulled out his little terminal.

It still had a signal, barely. He took readings for any radio frequencies in the area. Anything. Yes, yes, there it was. This must be the signal type that the pit-fighters were run on.
It was deeply encoded, and was doubtlessly just commands that would mean nothing to Greene, but the pattern was unmistakably the same as those that Jonathan Coll and Erebus had used in Autar and Meston. Was the government aware of this? They must be, after all those pit fight raids.

Greene had to report this. He attached his readings to a message, and typed in a short note to Mr. Book, and transmitted.


That scream, that war cry. It was like the 'demon of Densfarn' he had seen taken into custody. In the cement underground, the sound reverberated and rebounded towards him, and hit him so hard he nearly dropped to the floor. He had to get out of there, now.

Running to the door, he could hear footsteps coming from the other passage. He had to race to get to the door first. A quick glance revealed that is was the guard. With an open jacket, he was just like the demon. Lower jaw split down the middle, body ripped open and hollow, with ribs sticking out like horns. The sunglasses were gone now as well, showing its raging yet lifeless eyes.

Greene slammed the door behind him, and headed up the stairs, eyes upwards to the land of his angel. He heard the door open forcefully behind him,

The hard leather sole of his shoe slipped on the third metal step, sending his face against another step. It hit with an ugly crack, shaking loose tears, blood, and his upper jaw.

Before the pain caught up with him, bloodied hands wrapped around his torso. With a firm embrace, Greene saw the demon's ribs burst out between his own, before the three-sided jaw wrapped around his head from behind. The two sides of the demon's lower jaw ripped at the sides of Greene's face.

The pain found him. It was blinding. Almost a welcome distraction to the monster ripping him apart. There was nothing but the pain. More screams of demons came from behind him.

Greene had no scream. There was no ability to scream with shredded lungs. The split moment seemed to gave him an hour or pain. It was incredible. Almost fascinating.

There was nothing but pain.

And the pain began to fade. Fading. Greene knew, and welcomed it. The pain was gone, the world was dark, and Greene was gone from it.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

"Soundtracks" to my books' "movies".

Ok, pure silliness here, but before I did the first signing for Lifehack, I collected a list of music that drove me during the writing, and fit the mood for several scenes. Lifehack had a lot of 80s and early 90s. Mostly rock, some pop. I played them in the background at the signing.

Watching Yute drew a lot more from 60s/70s rock. One scene in particular was 'written' in a dream where it played out over and over in slow motion to the tune of the Doors' "House of the Rising Sun". It turned out to be a huge turning point in the story. Frig, I'm listening to it right now, and it still chokes me up.. mainly because of the link in my head to that scene.
The ending of the movie has to quietly begin Rammstein's "Ohne Dich", as the camera pans out over the desert before fading to black and the credits.

This has me wondering what the soundtrack of Echoes of Erebus will be... I've been listening to stuff all over the spectrum, from more Rammstein, to Feist.

And as long as I'm being silly, what about casting actors? I'll have to ponder that one...

Ah, also, Echoes of Erebus is getting very close to the 100 page mark. I hope to end around the same range as Yute, which was 256. That 100 I have right now probably translates to a bit higher if I added page breaks for new chapters and whatnot. It'd be nice to have it ready for the next VCON (Vancouver sci-fi convention) but like Watching Yute, I will NOT rush it.

If anyone who's read Lifehack and/or Watching Yute has any casting/soundtrack ideas, let me know...! If you want some visual clues as to how I see them, there's always my anime art gallery... though I don't imagine the books in an anime style... that's just the gear my drawing was stuck in at the time. Someday after Echoes of Erebus is done, I'll have to attack my realism.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Turnabout is fair play

Friday morning, Caitlin wanted up on the bathroom counter. Yeah, that's pretty normal, she wanted to to brush her teeth. Her toddler toothpaste is nummy, and has a picture of winnie the pooh on the tube.

Not patient enough for me to comply with (or predict) her plan, she stepped up onto my feet/wheelchair foot plate, and climbed onto my lap as a stepping stone to the counter. Silly monkey.

As is typical, she examined the little rack of toothbrushes, pointing out who owned which. Hers is hard to mistake, the handle being shaped like one of Barbie's buddies, which makes it a royal pain to fit in the rack. She handed me mine, and started looking around for my toothpaste. Unsatisfied with the items on the counter, she kicked her heels against the drawer below her. "Da-ee, open!" Fine fine, move your lil feet. In the category of grown up toothpaste, we have 2 tubes, a white/lighter coloured tube meant for daytime and morning, and a black/darker coloured tube for bedtime.

I yank out the white one, as it was on top. "No! That mummee toothpaste!" Le sigh. I pull out the one that matches my wardrobe, and she's satisfied. I put it and my brush down on the counter, and pick up her set. "no, da-eee!" Fine. An extra brushing won't kill me.

I pick up my brush and play around, pretending to use the wrong end, or hold it at funny angles, earning amused "nooooo"s from her. She got tired of that eventually, and told me "toothpaste, da-ee." Alright, I put some t- NOPE, whoops, she has to do it. (with help) Thinking I was ready to brush, I brought the toothbrush up towards my mouth, intending to hold it in my mouth while I 'arm' her toothbrush for her.

Instead, she snatched my toothbrush from me, and leaned forward with a toothy grin. Well frig, she wanted to brush my teeth for me, like I do with her. I bore my teeth, and moved my head a bit to not get stabbed in the cheek. The lil squirt smiled like crazy, then stopped, and opened her mouth, cuing me to open wide. She actually did a pretty good job getting the back and such. I closed my mouth, and moved the brush in her hand, playing around.

I was promptly reprimanded. "No, da-ee." Oy. Fine. When exactly did I sign up to be a dolly? Roughly two and a half years ago, I guess.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Joss Wheadon needs to give me $1,000,000.oo

I know he's not looking for submissions, but I think he'll throw a million bucks at me for the chance to turn my novels into movies. I could possibly endure seeing his skills applied to my stories. The money will help me endure. He should get on EBAY ASAP, since it's only a week long auction:

There's also info there where people can get the ebooks free for the next month or so, but that's secondary.

They have a lot of stuff Joss likes. Strong female leads, sci fi, drama, action, humour, strong female romantic interests for the strong female leads, cookies. Joss likes cookies, doesn't he? If only I could get this info into his hands. Alternatively, Ms. Dushku should know that I have her underwear. I don't, but it might get her over here.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Updated my wiki! .. and bits of the site.

I just wrote "Echoes of Erebus" into my little wiki, which previously only covered Lifehack and Watching Yute. Now people can browse basic character descriptions/relations and locations and such for the book-in-progress at my wiki. I can get really into wikis, so I thought I'd set one up. If ya think it needs something, let me know...! Keep in mind, I avoid spoilers on there.

And no, you can't edit it, sorry. :P

I also updated my main website a bit, Most notably, I added excerpts in the Echoes of Erebus section- mainly the ones I've posted in this blog already.

Short entry this time! Shucks! Off to keep chipping away at the new book....!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Got interviewd! And to celebrate, have an Echoes excerpt too...!

Clinton Foster's 'Interviews and Projects' blog has just posted a spot about Watching Yute. I kind of end up on my gay-rights soapbox a little bit, but worse things could happen. All in all, it's good stuff. (in the event you're reading this long after my interview has sunk into the archives, you can probably find it directly by this link.) Thanks again Clinton! I know there's a reason you invented the internet... huh? Different guy? Okay. His own main site is here by the way.

Ah, I've been promising a new excerpt for a while, and I keep procrastinating. Here's the freshest stuff... it's not finalized by any means, and has had limited proof reading, but it does show a facet of "Echoes of Erebus" that I haven't really shown before. To set it up, our hero Sarah dreams from time to time when she has nothing else to do. It becomes clear soon that in her dreams she is 'Amanda', living out events during Erebus' attacks on the city of Meston....


Sarah found herself again dreaming that she was this 'Amanda'. She was with a group of a dozen or so people, wandering down a deserted street. A nearby discarded newspaper reminded her that she was in the city of Meston.

Some of the people in the group were wounded. Two were kids. A few could be seen carrying weapons. A couple rifles, a bat, a shovel. Everyone walked on cautiously, looking around now and then.
No one spoke, everyone listened. An unidentified sound caused the group to stop and listen. “What is it?” asked the younger child, a boy. He was shushed quickly by the girl standing next to him. Everyone kept listening.

Sarah looked down and saw blood on her hands. Was she injured, or was it someone else's blood? She felt pain. Her hands were scraped. She had fallen at some point.

The sound happened again. A dull but sharp sound. “It's one of those cannon things again.” said a man at the front of the group. “Maybe it means they're trying to send in more evacuation craft. Keep one eye on the sky, folks. If we spot a chopper, or one of those airlimbs coming in, we might be able to hustle over to get a ride.”

“Sure,” Sarah said, “If they don't get shot down by those things first. They'd be nuts to try that again.” Sarah didn't mean to say that, Amanda was in control of this dream. Sarah was just a passenger. Sarah didn't have much of an idea what she was talking about, but it didn't sound that optimistic. “Let's just keep going for now, alright?” A few people in the group murmured in the affirmative, and they got underway.

After a block or so, they came to a blood spill that reached across the entire street. They stopped at the edge of it, each silently considering having to walk across it. It looked to go on for about half a block.
“What the hell happened here?” someone asked quietly.
A woman in the group spoke up with a bit more of a tactical mindset. “Is it even safe to cross? I mean, if the zombies are nanite-driven like the Autar ones were, who's to say that this blood isn't infectious? Or even some kind of trap? It might infect us as soon as we step on it!”

The older of the two kids, a girl roughly twelve years old wandered away from the 'pond', muttering “This isn't happening, this isn't happening. I'm going to wake up now, alright? Someone wake me up now, please!”
That got the attention of the group. Many also looked to the younger child. A boy about eight years old. He was standing, shaking, staring out across the blood pond with wide eyes.

Amanda picked up the boy. “Oh to heck with this. We're not hauling these kids across this. It's too much.”
One of the men with a rifle nodded. “It's not like we were headed for anywhere specific. If we took a left back there, it's still roughly the same distance out of the city.” Amanda hadn't been waiting for his approval, nor the opinions of any of the others. She had already begun carrying the boy in the direction he suggested. The girl was the first to follow and the others were not far behind.

The boy clung to Amanda tightly as they walked, but he was still trembling. “What's your name, kiddo?” Amanda asked softly. He wasn't answering. “Hey little man, can you tell me your name?”
The girl walking beside them answered. “His name is Mitch.”
Mitch was getting heavy, but he still trembled enough that Amanda didn't feel like asking him to walk. “Hi, Mitch. Is this your sister here? She was kind enough to tell me your name, can you introduce me to her?”

“Cathy.” Mitch said quietly. Amanda wanted to draw more conversation out of Mitch, but every topic she could think of probably led to the horrible things going on. Gee Mitch, where are your parents, Mitch? Eaten, you say? Intriguing. You even got to see it happen, and hear the screams of your mother as her own blood bubbled up her throat? See? There's a unique experience you can talk about to your school chums. They what? They were eaten too? Oh, some of them were doing the eating. What a diverse group!

Amanda kept her mouth shut and just gave Mitch an extra squeeze. She wanted to give Cathy a squeeze too, but her arms were full with Mitch. Instead, she looked over to Cathy with a sympathetic forced smile. Cathy returned a similar look. It was heartbreaking.

“What the fuck was that?” a man in the group asked. He was pointing down the street, but nothing was there. “It ran across, it looked kinda big!” Amanda and everyone else kept an eye on that street. Something indeed sauntered out from an adjoining street, several blocks ahead.

A horse. With a rider. Maybe. It was too far off to see details, but it walked like a horse, and it was coming their way. It sauntered casually. Another two horses with riders stumbled into view behind him. They were wrestling as if they were dogs playing. The riders didn't fall off somehow, despite the horses falling on their side several times in their playing, often nearly upside down.

The first horseman continued striding forward slowly as the two playful ones were joined by a fourth. The first was close enough to see that the rider's head was little more than a skull. He raised his arms high in proclamation. He lacked hands; the forearms ended in narrow points. A voice came from him, booming so loud as to rattle windows.

“Hail, good travelers!” Despite a deep tone and immense volume, the voice sounded friendly enough. “This apocalypse is brought to you by our new and righteous lord and god, Erebus! Yes, Erebus! For when death isn't enough for you, Erebus will put extra spring in your step and extra human flesh in your mouth! If you get mutilated by only one necromantic god this year, make it Erebus!”

As the lead horseman lowered his arms, the other three ceased their play and began to charge. It was now easier to see that none of them had normal heads. One's head was replaced with a rifle sticking up, one had a roast turkey sitting up as a head, and the last one had half a dozen impaled rats planted in its neck stump.
All four charged with pointed arms held out to their sides, pointing downward at an angle. With that same volume, a scream came out that sounded a lot like that 'demon of Densfarn' that Sarah had seen.

Mitch grabbed onto Amanda even tighter as the group braced for the inevitable.

Friday, February 5, 2010

When good packing materials go bad.

"Y'know, I kinda hate cauliflower, but this marinate makes it pretty OK. It makes me forget that cauliflower usually tastes like styrofoam that's gone rotten."

"What? How does styrofoam go rotten??"

"By turning into cauliflower."

Yeah, that's about all I have to say. I plan to post another excerpt from 'Echoes of Erebus' soon, but part of the problem is giving away a big spoiler. an even BIGGER problem is posting something that needs a ton of explaining... then again, maybe I can just caulk that effect up to creating some mystery. Maybe I'll post cliff's notes to go with it.

It's not that any one section is all that complex, but there's a layering effect going on. Some rules get set, and the book follows them. Ok, a short tutorial, with minor spoilers:

Sarah isn't human, although she looks it. Her nervous system, brain included, is heavily operated by a fleet of nanites and related techno hooba-jooba.

Something she has in her brain is her 'father', Jason, who lives in her mind as a separate, mostly-independent thought process. Jason wants to help guide his 'daughter' in her new life, so they talk to each other a lot. Still with me? Seeing as they both think inside the same skull, there's no need for any vocalizations. Much like an online chat, they send thoughts at each other. And when this happens in the book, I let you know by modifying the syntax-

":::Hey Jason, I have to talk to you, but the people on the bus don't need to hear it."
":::No kidding. I, on the other hand, really have no choice but to talk to you through this system, because I don't have a mouth. I'm basically just a program in your head."
":::Where's the uninstall button?"
":::Ha freakin' ha, Sarah."

That lame exchange wasn't from the book.. it's just a demonstration. This ":::" syntax won't be totally alien to anyone who's read Watching Yute.

Well, it's late, I'm gonna pass out now. Bug me to get an excerpt up!