Tag Archives: Zombie Zoo

AIS Extras Part II: NaNOriginal Dream Sequence…

Yes. Dream Sequence… Gonna have to save my dream sequences for the fantasy series. Thanks, Amanda. Good call.

Remember, ALL IS SILENCE is ON SALE for the first time at $2.99 the entire month of November on all major sales sites in honor of NANOWRIMO.

Original Opening Scene of ALL IS SILENCE as written during NaNoWriMo 2012. Working titles were:

ZOMBIE ZOO
followed by
AND EVERYTHING AFTER…
then
ALL IS SILENCE IN THE WORLD
and finally
ALL IS SILENCE

Chapter One

No good sleeping in when her little brother, mom and mom’s live in boy-friend, man-friend, were making so much noise. She pulled a black hoodie and jeans over her t-shirt and underwear, ran her fingers through her short hair. The Boris Karloff buzz-cut had grown out to a boyish length and she wasn’t taking so much crap about it anymore. She had stuff to do. The flood was coming and they needed to move the house.

        She didn’t know how she knew it was so important, but the urgency was undeniable. She grabbed the combat boots and pulled them on over heavy socks–too much dirty work for the Docs. Lizzie’s little brother, Jason was giggling along with her mom’s chuckle. She’d never been into Saturday morning cartoons—too silly and obnoxious. She slammed the door and headed down the long hallway.

        “Thanks for letting me sleep in,” she said to the room.

        Her mom shot her an odd glance from near the stove. ““It’s almost dinner-time, lazybones.”

        Jerkwad, mom’s boyfriend laughed loudly. “When you turn eighteen-”

        “You’re not my dad,” she cut off the response she wanted to say aloud.

        “What’re you gonna be when you grow up, sissy?” Jason asked.

        Lizzie glanced at the clock—6:18. But the light was wrong. “We’ve got to get the house moved. The floods are coming.” The rain pounded on the window.

        All three of them stared at her.

        Jerkwad spoke. “What the Hell are you babbling about?””

        “The water’s rising. The rain. The news said-”

        “You ain’t watched the news, Lazy.” Jerkwad shook his head, grinning. “You’ve been asleep all day.”

        ““Mom?” Lizzie begged. “Make him shut up.”

        ““He’s right, Liz. What’re you talking about?”

        Jason chimed in, “You goin’ Crazy Lazy on us again?”

        “I hate you all! I hope you all die in the flood. I’m moving the house.” She grabbed a Coke out of the fridge and raincoat off the peg. “I’m moving the house.” She slammed the door. Its aluminum weight did not give her the satisfaction she wanted. When had the heavy wood door gotten replaced?

        The rain pelted her as she pulled on the hoodie and jacket. She turned to the house and found the old single-wide trailer she’d lived in as a kid. Weird. Where was the house? This would be easier to move. She grabbed Jerkwad’s work gloves that never got used and headed around to the front. She started tearing the lower panels away to get to the wheels she knew were under there. Inside she could hear them laughing and joking. Lazy Lizzie was turning into Crazy Lizzie again. She shoved in her earbuds and hit shuffle on her phone. Something metallic and grinding from the 80s soothed her anger. Good working music. With a vengeance, Lizzie tore away more aluminum panels, sending them flying as they broke free.

        The sound of a phone cut through as the song ended. Isn’t someone going to answer it? They call me lazy!? She sent the last panel flying across the yard. How had she done that so fast? The phone still rang. She shook her head in disgust and pulled open the back door to the little kitchen. The house was cold and empty. She slammed the door. The solid wood reverberated. What the Hell was going on? The ringing continued, but Lizzie couldn’t find the phone. It wasn’t on the wall. “Where’d you guys go?” she hollered. The phone stopped. Mom had been cooking. In the new house. Then it was the single-wide. Now she was back in the house, but it was empty. Am I going crazy?

A new screeching sound replaced the phone. Jason’s stupid freaking bird screaming alarm clock. Damn thing could wake the dead. I must be dreaming. It is morning. The dream spun downward as Lizzie’s body sank into the bed. She sighed. For a minute she’d wondered if they were right and the Crazy Lizzie had returned.

Come check out what it later became here. Or buy a copy here for only $2.99 the whole month of November 2015!

 

 

AIS Extras Part I: Lizzie’s Debut

Over the next couple months, I’m going to share some of the false starts and cut endings of my first novel, ALL IS SILENCE. Here are the first words as I wrote them long hand, long before I got serious about writing the novel. Maybe an R rating for language.

Remember, as part of the THIS SALE GOES TO ELEVENSIES, the ALL IS SILENCE ebook is priced for the first time at $2.99 the entire month of November on all major sales sites. Also in honor of NANOWRIMO, TOILS AND SNARES is also on sale for $0.99 until November 7th. 

Original Scene written in summer of 2011 perhaps, at least a year before NaNoWriMo 2012

Working Title: Zombie Zoo

Lizzy stared across the shotgun in her lap at the body on the floor. Damn fool hadn’t absorbed all the pellets. Half of the canned goods in the pantry had small holes still leaking liquids. F***ing a**hole. Not like there weren’t more canned goods than any of the survivors could ever eat in their lifetimes or before the cans rusted away or the food went bad. Besides she’d always hated her step-dad’s choices in food: Garbanzos, Mixed veggies. Creamed corn. Pickled beets.

But did she want to stay in the house now? No way in hell she was going to bury it. It. Not human. Humans didn’t act like that to other humans. Even under these conditions. She drug the body out the front door, wryly observing that her visitor had ruined mom’s crème-colored carpet. NO way those stains would ever come out. She let his body roll down the stairs, “Fair Warning.” She hoped the others were close enough to see the results.

She dead-bolted the door. Plenty of windows if someone really had a death wish and she’d hear them. She strode through the house checking all the windows and doors. She knew how hard this house was to break into, she’d been locked out of it enough. He step-dad had always threatened that she would get kicked out the day she turned 18. Well, I’m leaving a little early, dickhead. I won’t be 18 for three more months. Hell, I might not make it to 18.

She finished her inspection at the upstairs shower. Thank god the electricity and water hadn’t failed. How long would that take? She closed and latched the door then shoved the window to make sure it was locked. She set the shotgun upright on the toilet tank. Within easy reach. She longed for the time a few days ago when she thought she was the last person alive in a hundred miles. That illusion had been shattered rather unpleasantly.

Her black knit dress was stained with blood and the other bodily fluids. She’d have to get more clothes. She’d want more skirts like it, calf length and dark. Let you pee without getting tangled up. In case you were surprised. She’d been wearing her mary janes but her combat boots were coming out of the closet or out from under the pile of dirty clothes on her floor. Second hand at Sally Ann’s, they were actual combat boots, not some Hot Topic knock-off.

She stripped off her t-shirt happy to find no blood or bodily fluids. It had a graphic that looked like kanji but read “F*** You,” if you rotated it sideways. Mom had never let her out of the house with it on.

She jerked the water knob and twisted it all the way to hot. She grabbed the shotgun and sat down to pee. For the umpteenth time she checked that the magazine was full and that one shell waited in the chamber. Maybe her OCD would come in handy in this brave new world. She didn’t bother to wipe, reset the gun on the toilet and climbed into the steaming hot shower. She wanted to sear off the top layer of her flesh. The regular cuts on her arms had healed to angry white lines, though a few still stood out red from the last time she’d used her knife. So long ago. A thought flashed through Lizy’s head, but she shoved it aside. How easy would it be just to go to sleep? Mom had enough sleeping pills in her cabinet, but no, the last experience had led inevitably to this moment. But maybe she’d take the bottle with her.

The water poured down drenching her hair, dead and faded from too many bleachings and colorings. The water was hot, but not too hot. The Dickhead wanted to save electricity so the hot water was set to 110 degrees.

As she soaped herself she dispassionately looked at her own body. She’d always been a bit on the soft side, but two weeks of being sick, plus the aftermath had given her muscles a tightness and tone they’d always lacked. If Chad could see her now would he even recognize her? Her hair had grown out enough that she’d seen dark roots at the scalp and he’d never seen her with hair more than about an inch long. It was long enough now to lay down. Rinsing the soap off she felt the stubble in her armpits and on her legs. F*** it. She’d always thought shaving was stupid.

Under the hot faucet she let it flow over her face, rinsing her mouth, letting the water in and out. She scrubbed at herself. Suddenly tears flowed. Where the hell was Zach? How come he hadn’t been around when the a**hole and his gang had showed up? He’d promised to be back. Like he’d ever been on time.

For the all times she’d wished everything and everyone would go away, now she wished she wasn’t alone. She sank down into the water, tears washed away by the deluge. With hair in her eyes and shaking with sobs, she wrapped her arms around her legs and gave in. She’d never cried before. Not like this. Not since she was a little kid. Never let anyone in. No weakness. Weakness got you pushed around. Like her mom. Always needed a man. What kind of man was never as important as the fact that he had testosterone and a penis. Her body wracked with all the pain she’d never shared. And the only people she really cared about: Mom and Billy. Gone.

When the water changed from warm to lukewarm to cold in a matter of seconds she broke out of it. She gritted her teeth, slammed the knob in, shook her hair and scraped the drops of water from her body. Her legs complained as she stood and her fingers had gone all wrinkly. She grabbed the fluffy towel with “For Guests” emblazoned on it. The ‘good’ towels her mom always said. Like they’d ever had any f***ing guests since Auntie died.

The crying had done her good. She felt wrung out, but clean inside and out. When she stepped out of the tub a wave of dizziness swept over her she realized how hungry she was. She wrapped the fuzzy towel around herself and pulled the T-shirt over her damp hair. Funny how free she felt. She glanced at her face in the mirror amazed that her face did not look more like she’d been crying. She smirked at herself. Not bad for a vigilante killer. She snagged the shotgun off the toilet as she headed downstairs.

20 minutes later one of the last pizzas from their store run was sitting half eaten on the table. She’d never eaten like that. A half-finished beer sat next to the pizza. Lizy belched. Tasted as bad the second time. D***head certainly had no taste.

And some notes: Rescuing cats and dogs, filching small items as she goes. Guilty. Too much time as a klepto-5 finger discount. My little pretties… Cigarettes? Cell phone stuff? Need a cell phone for each service. At what point would the systems shut down?

Do people who survive without immunity lose some elements of humanity? Are there wild ones? Rabid humans? Zombies, but not traditional zombies. Angry, bitter beings who resent those who did not get their humanity stripped away? Feral ones… Children, adults, teenagers, teen boys would be really dangerous because of strength, stamina, etc. 

Current Author’s Note: Writing’s a bit rough, but the essence of Lizzie is there. And the focus on peeing, my editor came to notice. It was there long before NANOWRIMO.

ALL NANO’s EVE

ALLisSILENCEpumpkinHappy Howl-a-ween to those of you who celebrate such things. I’ll post costume pics later.

Two years ago on this night I embarked on a fantastic journey. I planned to write 60,000 words of a novel, tentatively title Zombie Zoo, during the month of November and “WIN” NaNoWriMo [National Novel Writing Month]. It was my third attempt at a decent novel and I had this killer idea. What if an at-risk teen girl, one who might have said, “I hope you all die,” to her family, where to be one of the few survivors of a massive pandemic? I had the idea as early as 2009, I think, so it had been rattling around for a while. I had a list of 42 odd scenes and figured if I could write 30 of them at about 2000 words a scene I would have most of a book. And that’s pretty much what happened.

I hadn’t figured out the ending. So that took three attempts and another six months of stumbling in the dark to get right, but I knew at the end of November I had a winner. I ‘planned’ to publish it the following August [Oh, how brash are the ignorant.]. It didn’t make it out until January of 2014 and has undergone a significant round of editing since then. It has done quite well for a debut self-published novel: a couple awards, a decent amount of sales and average reviews of 4 out of 5 stars.

SiD pubslush koboOne year ago I started writing the sequel, STRAIGHT INTO DARKNESS, and things did not go quite as well. I managed 35,000 words, but couldn’t seem to find my footing. So at the end of November I felt like I had about 20 great scenes that didn’t really hold together as a book. I continued working on it, adding another 25,000+ words, even as I marketed and published ALL IS SILENCE. In the last year I have also written 28,000+ words on a 25,000 word novella, a parallelequel to ALL IS SILENCE, called Toils and Snares. I still need a few scenes to call it a draft.

So, National Novel Writing Month this November I will be aiming to write 60,000+ words in the Deserted Lands Universe. See you in December. If you want to help motivate me, please consider becoming a fan of my Pubslush Crowdfunding Campaign for STRAIGHT INTO DARKNESS.

My Path to Indie Publication: Part V–Reality and the Instability of Time

My Path to Indie Publication Series is a companion series to Marshall Ryan Maresca’s Path to Publication. I have been avidly reading Marshall’s posts since I discovered his blog. Read Path to Indie PublicationPart IPart IIPart III. Part IV.

Reality and the Instability of Time, a.k.a. Learning to Use Scotty’s Law of Time Estimation (or even less well known, how to a write a blog post with too long a title…)*

[Author’s Note: Sorry this is late. It’s at least slightly ironic that this blog-post was late, no?]

When I “finished” the first draft of And Everything After… [Third working title. First was Zombie Zoo, Second was Where Have All Your Children Gone?] I decided I wanted to publish in August of 2013—TEN MONTHS after I’d written the first words. Hubris? Yeah. There have been lots of humbling moments in response to this presumptuousness.

As part of my NANOWRIMO prizes, and on the recommendation of my new editor, I bought Scrivener Writing Software for half-price–a steal at $20. Reasonable at the usual price. I bought the Windows version to format Outward Bound, the Science Fiction & Poetry collection. I had struggled with the NANOWRIMO 45 day free download of Scrivener and given up on it.

After the stress of finishing the first draft of the novel, I found that taking already existing documents and uploading them into the software was easy. Then turning it all into an e-book was even easier. The only real issue I had was formatting the poetry. One poem graphically moves across the page like a spiral galaxy; getting it to look right in an ebook was challenging. I had hoped to release Outward Bound in April or May as a way to build interest in the release of All Is Silence In the World [the penultimate title]. But as June came, it was not yet ready for prime time. Luckily, as a self published author the only deadlines one has to hit are ones own.

Meeting Alice Acheson at the Chuckanut Writer’s Conference helped me figure out a more reasonable plan for marketing and releasing the novel. All Is Silence. Alice suggested waiting until February because when bookstores get a book at the holiday season or soon after, there is so much going on that it may not get noticed. So I picked February 11th. It seemed like a long way off.

With my final installment of Memories of Light, the Science Fiction Serial, appearing in the Bellingham Herald in August, I wanted to maximize that press opportunity. But the novel was not nearly finished. I decided that releasing Outward Bound instead of the novel in mid-August with a sampler chapter of the novel made the most sense.

In late July I submitted the current draft of the novel to CreateSpace to see what it looked like in print. I went with a generic cover and the wrong title, Deserted Lands, not wanting anything to go wrong about having the book out too soon. I had printed a slipcover for it featuring the amazing art of Pintado. ALL IS SILENCE.  I was thrilled to hold it in my hands. For about 30 seconds. Well, maybe five whole minutes. This now svelte title, cut down due to reading a blog from Mark Coker of Smashwords, [Web editor’s note: Rob’s daughter Sheridan suggested cutting the title to ‘All is Silence’ months before he] housed a manuscript that needed a similar svelteness.  If I had published it at this point I would have been deeply embarrassed, yet many of the self-published books I have tried to read seemed to be released at this point.

The weeks leading up to the release of Outward Bound and my “chapter” of Memories of Light became full of marketing and formatting and uploading and re-editing stories and poetry I hadn’t read in years as well as the new Deserted lands works. On a challenge from Holly Lisle, I had started three short stories set in the Deserted Lands universe intending to include them in the collection. The first two came easily, but I realized the third was not a short story. It told about a European stuck in the U.S. due to the pandemic and trying to figure out how to get home to his lover who had also miraculously survived. This novel, about a bunch of non-sailors trying to cross the Atlantic, is now slated for #10 in the series, I think. Might be #7.

More delays coming. Which leads into Part VI: Playing the Professional.

* Adapted and expanded from the Foreword to Outward Bound: Science Fiction & Poetry, a collection of some of my published and unpublished works. Top

Path to Indie Publication: Part III–2003: Breakout year?

My Path to Indie Publication Series is a companion series to Marshall Ryan Maresca’s Path to Publication. I have been avidly reading Marshall’s posts since I discovered his blog. Read Part IPath to Indie Publication.

2003 Breakout Year *

101 submissions. Three sales. A Semi-Finalist in the Writers of the Future contest that earned me a K.D. Wentworth critique. I rewrote the story and sent it back out. Strange Horizons requested a rewrite. Alas, the rewrite, though it met their criteria, seemed to lack whatever would push it into the realm of a sale. In terms of my writing career, 2003 was a success.

I rode that wave of success to three convention appearances as a “professional” writer and panelist, well… the wave and my connections to fandom through the Heinlein Society.  I had some wonderful moments participating in panels with Alan Dean Foster and Greg Bear, but I felt like a pretender. I hadn’t written many new stories. I continued to teach Creative Writing at my high school and write some poetry as examples while I taught.

For the next few years my energy to submit fiction waned. I had spent fifteen years, collected 485 rejections, 14 short fiction sales and quite a bit of frustration. I puttered in short bursts on fiction, wrote reminders to myself about stories to write someday and gradually wound down to complete inactivity as a writer. This corresponded with a particularly hard time in my personal life. My creative energy went into theatre with Shakespeare NorthWest, and a few new songs and poems.

2010. The Future. Arthur C. Clarke had regrounded his future in 2010, why couldn’t I? I sent out a single submission. #500. For some reason that carried more weight. It didn’t sell. It took me a year to send out another, but I finished 2011 strong with 70 submissions. No sales. 2012 saw 37 more submissions up to August.

Sometime in 2012 I stumbled upon NANOWRIMO. I had an idea—a girl, an At-Risk teen, her DNA made up of 48 teen-age girls I’d worked with, surviving a realistic apocalypse. The basic setting was one I’d come up with back in 1997, not long after my first reading of Lord of the Flies. In world where almost everyone dies, even the worst humans will generally do the best they can. Not like Golding’s golden boys. So, I made a plan, created a list of nearly 40 potential scenes in the life of Lizzie. Then I wrote it. My brain had been thinking about it long enough and it pulled in all the things I knew. At the end of November I had 68, 000 words! And it was good. Rough, but good. I’d let a couple teen-aged girls read it as I was going along. It stuck with people. With o’ermuch hubris, I decided I would publish it the following August. The working title had gone from Zombie Zoo [Petty] to Where Have All Your Children Gone [Hooters] to All Is Silence In the World [Springsteen]. Finally, after reading a post from Mark Coker of Smashwords who said too long titles don’t sell well, I shortened it to All Is Silence.

In December, I cut the last couple thousand words and wrote 20,000 more trying to get the right ending. As the new year came I had finished a book. By January 2nd I’d decided I hated the 2nd attempt at an ending. Sigh.


Coming next week: Part IV–Synchronicity

* Adapted and expanded from the Foreword to Outward Bound: Science Fiction & Poetry, a collection of some of my published and unpublished works. Top

Electronic Advanced Reader Copies are out!

Hey folks,

It feels amazing. I wrote the first words to All is Silence November 1st 2012. It’s original working title was ‘Zombie Zoo’ (from Tom Petty) then ‘Where have all the children gone?’ (from the Hooter’s All you Zombies {also a Heinlein Title}) then ‘And Everything After’ (From Counting Crows) then “All is Silence in the World” (from Springsteen’s Jungleland) shortened to “ALL IS SILENCE.”

If you did not receive an e-mail regarding eARCs [aka galleys, aka the ‘last’ draft before line editing] and you should have send me an e-mail at rob@robslater.com.

Now I’m finishing out some pre-chapter quotes and formatting for print. I should have print ARCs/Galleys in about two weeks to send out to major reviewers.

Prepping to write the next book “STRAIGHT INTO DARKNESS” from the Tom Petty song of the same title. It’s about six months since the pandemic hit and Lizzie has choices to make. Stay tuned here for updates.

Rob