Archive for June, 2012

Onward with Rhythm and the Blue Line

Added 6/27/12 — Chapter 10 is now available at Literotica.

Hockey season is officially over (way to go, LA Kings!) but my story’s not! So here’s a little more hockey to hold you over during the off season. Chapter 10 has been/will be posted at the usual places, and 11 soon after. Chapter 12 will be the last chapter and I hope will follow in the near future. It’s written, I’m just waiting for beta reader feedback.

Thanks to everyone who has read and commented and voted or whatever — all of that feedback means a lot. And now… an excerpt.

He imagined that it wasn’t too different from when he’d started in the NHL. He remembered how excited and nervous he’d been as he’d at last put on the sweater for an NHL team, and it was hard to say now which emotion had been stronger. All he could recall now was the feeling that he’d <i>had</i> to succeed, had to bring his play up so that he could stay at this level. Going back to his minor league team would feel like failure. Somehow, he’d done it.

He was willing to bet that Ryan felt that way. Going back to the 9:30 Club wouldn’t be an awful thing, but he knew she wanted more and he hoped she got it.

It was going on two a.m. when he let himself into his apartment. The euphoria of winning the game had faded in the last hour and all he wanted was to flop into bed. He rubbed a hand over his face as he headed back to his bedroom, disappointed that Ryan hadn’t called. Just as he finished brushing his teeth, the phone rang.

“Hello.”

“Hi, Brody, it’s me. I’m sorry, did I wake you?”

“Hey, Ryan. No, I’m still up. Just getting ready for bed.”

“I won’t keep you, then. I got your message and wanted to call back. I know it’s late, but you said you’d be up, so I thought I’d try.” She sounded tense and he had to laugh.

“You okay?”

“Yeah, I’m fine. I mean, I am a little wired but I think it’s just the weird hours catching up with me.” She paused and he heard her take a deep breath. “Okay, that’s better. How’s everything?”

“Great.” He sat on the bed and kicked off his shoes before lying back with a groan. “We won.”

“I know! I’m so glad. I didn’t get to see anything but Nate keeps me updated. He’s always shoving the box scores in my face. Wow, one more and you take the series. That’s great.”

Brody chuckled at the image she’d put in his head. “Yeah, one more. I’m not trying to look too far ahead but I’ve got a good feeling about this.”

“You guys can do it.”

“Thanks. The next game is day after tomorrow, if you get a chance to watch.”

“I’ll try, I will, but I don’t know. This has just been so crazy. I mean, we’ve been doing some promotional stuff in addition to the shows and with all the driving, sometimes I don’t even know where I am.”

“Do you know where you are now?”

“Yeah, I’m in the lobby of a Motel 6, I think.”

“You think? And why aren’t you in a room?”

“All these places look alike. Lara’s in the room talking to Trout and I didn’t feel like talking to you in the bathroom. First rule of touring: there is almost no privacy.”

“Pity. I was hoping one night we might work in a little phone sex.”

“Brody!”

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Zombie saturation?

Zombies everywhere, that’s what you’re thinking, right? AMC has a hit series with The Walking Dead, people are parodying Jane Austen with Pride & Prejudice & Zombies, and even the CDC has a page on how to survive the Zombie Apocalypse. I myself enjoy a decent horror movie, and zombies are okay for that, but — are we reaching the limits of zombies?

Let me say the following — in the horror genre, one of my favorite movies is The Serpent and the Rainbow (Wiki link here), an early Wes Craven effort starring Bill Pullman and loosely based (and I use the word “loosely” loosely”) on a non-fiction book of the same title, describing a scientist’s investigation into voodoo and “zombi-ism” in Haiti. I have also enjoyed movies like 28 Days Later and Zombieland, and of course the classics like George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead. I even confess to liking the remake of Dawn of the Dead from a few years ago (hey, I have a soft spot for both Joe Weber and Matt Frewer, and Ving Rhames is cool). I’m a fan of The Walking Dead, and I am the one that got my husband hooked on it.

I have also read zombie books, such as the aforementioned P&P&Z, the other two books that make a trilogy with it (also liked Sense & Sensibility & Sea Monsters). I am currently reading a series on my Kindle called Living with the Dead, by Josh Guess, and just finished another e-book called Dead Earth: The Green Dawn. William Gibson, he of Neuromancer fame, also wrote Flatline Virus: When Zombies Evolved. This, I guess, is an attempt to show my zombie bona fides. I am not immersed in all of the stories and themes, but I’m probably more familiar than many 42yo suburban moms.

So the question I’m pondering is — are we at the zombie saturation point? Can anything new be done with this? Or if not exactly new, then different? Over on Literotica, where I post my stories, more than one author has story about zombies going on, and I hope they are well-received and that both readers and the authors enjoy them. I myself have toyed with the idea, but honestly, I can’t get there. Okay, so people are having sex after society has broken down — umm, okay, then what? Sex is still the same process right? I sincerely hope so.

The problem, as I’m sure many of you realize, is that zombies are not terribly interesting bad guys. I’m hardly stating anything new there. The focus of zombie stories isn’t the zombies, it’s the humans who survive and then have to keep surviving. So then you’re into stories with people in desperate situations. How much of that can you take?

I think zombie stories have, by necessity become “meta,” like the Scream franchise. Before Scream, characters in horror movies had apparently never seen any, at least none reflecting their situation. So after many years of this — Halloween, Jason, Freddy, etc. — something new was needed, and Wes Craven did a fantastic job with a movie that spoofed horror by having both the good and bad guys know the “rules.” Don’t go alone, check the corners, all of that.

It’s become the same with zombies, mostly. In The Walking Dead, they must be in a non-zombie universe. I haven’t heard a single Romero reference in two seasons (I am not a zombie nerd, so I may have missed it), plus they call them “walkers.” Zombieland and books like Living with the Dead, on the other hand, take a different approach, especially the latter, in that people do know what zombies are and hence are prepared to fight them. In fact, there’s a little bit of geek revenge going on because it’s the people who were ridiculed for paying attention to the details in things like Romero’s movies who are best fit to deal with it, if only in a strategic sense.

Still, I’m finding a lot of sameness in these stories, which I guess is to be expected. LWTD‘s gimmick of telling the story via blog posts is at least different and I like the way the people in the story, mostly the narrator, turn to the internet and use it to try to keep in touch with the outside world. Still, as in The Walking Dead, it’s a matter of survival and the group dynamic and there is the rational one, the humanitarian one, the guy or woman who wants to shoot anyone who isn’t in the immediate group, etc. Living with the Dead deals with the same things, but they went the opposite way and they are staying in one place where The Walking Dead‘s survivors are on the move.

The next step appears to be that zombies can learn, but I’m starting to wonder if this is a good thing. In one way I guess it is, because it forces a change in your survivor group’s dynamic. It’s one thing to pick off mindless, uncoordinated monsters, but another to deal with an enemy that can plan. Gibson did this in Flatline Virus and it appears to be the next step in Living with the Dead. I’ll have to wait until it’s all done to see what I think, but it kind of puts me in mind of crossing Jason Voorhees with someone like Pinhead. And why would you do that? If Jason has run his course (with mask, naturally) then can’t we just move on to something else? If zombies suddenly regain brain functions, are they still zombies? Is being a zombie just a state of undead being, or are you something else once your synapses start firing again?

I have to admit I’m less interested in how people in rural and suburban areas survive the apocalypse than in how it came to be. I’d like to see a zombie story/show that shows you how it happens, and the scientists and others trying to deal with it. Not just the politicians calling in the National Guard. One of the things that has disappointed me in The Walking Dead is that so far, we the viewers do not know — except by the occasional dropped hint — what happened in the month or so that our hero, Rick Grimes, was in a coma and the zombies appeared. I would really like to see that; AMC has done some webisodes, and I should watch them, I guess, to fill in a few gaps. But part of me can’t believe that Rick hasn’t cornered someone on the show and asked them, what the hell happened?

28 Days Later has this but to a lesser degree. At least there, we see in the beginning what happens — animal rights guys liberate some rage virus-infected chimps. That turns out to be a bad idea, perhaps right up there with Burger King putting bacon on sundaes. The chimps bite their liberators, the virus takes effect within minutes and, presto, no more fish and chips. Still, it might have been interesting to see things collapse as it happened.

Again, I give some credit to Josh Guess with his Living with the Dead, because our narrator gives us some of that. However, he’s in Kentucky and catching what he can on the news and internet, so while we have as close to first-hand as I’ve seen in many stories, it’s not quite what I’d like.

I guess the solution is to write what I’d want to see/read, but *whew* too much on my plate for that right now.

 

And it’s done

Wow, once again more time has slipped away and I have not blogged. Sorry.

However, the time has been put to good use, I think. I have finished Rhythm and the Blue Line. At least I think I have. Now I await next weekend, when my beta reader has time to go over it and shred give me his opinions. Which leaves me plenty of time to think it over, second-guess myself and tweak things.

I’ve noted before that I don’t think I fit the usual writer mode. For one thing, I want to be edited. And here’s another: I like it when my stories end. I think it’s the feeling of accomplishment, of having finished something. I’ve read a few writers who say they cried at the end, or were sad to see it end, but that’s not me. I enjoy my stories, and my characters (if I don’t, I figure there must be something wrong with the story), but stories have end points. I want to get to that end point — I want my happy ending.

I’ve written a trilogy (the Exiled books), so it’s not that I don’t like to keep a theme going, or even characters. Part of me wonders if I could write an ongoing series like JD Robb’s (Nora Roberts) …In Death series, and perhaps some time I’ll try. I just haven’t found the idea for that yet, and if I did, I’m not sure I’d want to write about another cop or private investigator or lawyer. Nothing wrong with them, but I’d want to find something different. I also enjoy reading series involving a main cast of characters; I’ve certainly read books that I didn’t want to end and was pleased to find there were more.

Still, most things can’t go on forever, including this story. So I hope you enjoy the ending, and I hope to post it soon.

In other news, summer is upon us as well as the end of school. Aaaugh! No, kidding. This is a good thing and I have some goals — stories to finish, and things I hope to fix up (tweak! tweak!) and put up on Amazon. I”ll keep you posted.

 

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