Alive-Third Book Completed

I am happy to announce that I completed a rough draft of Alive on thursday. I will be returning to the story to add, cut, delete, edit etc and have a polished version ready by July at the latest. Once I have an edited version, I will then look into editing services that can give me impartial advice on the book. Then I will pursue an agent. However, I wish to take a break from it for a week so I can return to it with fresh eyes.

Alive follows Mason, a young black man in a medieval society who is bitten by a werewolf. After surviving an attempt on his life, Mason meets Ayda, the woman who bit him. Ayda offers him a sanctuary in a society that rejects their kind, but informs him that she plans to use their power to eliminate the people who discriminate against them. Torn between his conscience and a desire for vengeance, Mason must confront a society that wants him dead and a woman who wants to use him to wage war.

I am especially proud of this book since it began with one poem that I posted to this blog. I built on that on poem with others and was able to craft a full novel from it. It has demonstrated the value of blogging and the creative benefits that it can bring.  I am also debating doing a second part, since the ending to this first book is open ended.

Once Alive is completed, I want to begin working on a novel for Hazard.

Alive

The idea for my second novel started with a poem from December 2015. I am currently 70,000 words into my werewolf tale. Alive revolves around a recently bitten human who becomes part of a black supremacist plot led by Ayda, the woman who bit him. The book is not an endorsement of black supremacy, it is only a tale using that vehicle to ask questions about identity and belonging.

The protagonist, Mason, is a man who has always felt like an outsider among his own people or others. Although he harbours resentment for the lighter-skinned people who hamper his rights, he is hesitant to take part in violence against them. His choice is taken from him when the other werewolves on his island, initiate a war with the island’s army. The first book focuses on their conflict with the island, while also exploring Mason’s conflict with the new black community that becomes his home. The second book will focus on the power struggle within the community and Mason’s attempt to prevent Ayda’s planned genocide.

As the story progresses, I now realize that this tale will need at least two parts. I am hoping to have part one wrapped up by March. The book begins with an origin story, but I will either be deleting those sections, changing them to flashbacks, or saving them for part II.

 

Stretching Writing Muscles

As I continue working on Alive, I’ve tried to keep a set deadline for its completion. Like my previous books, I set my original goal as one page per day. A typical novel’s length is 60,000-100,000 words and I figured that Alive would be at least 80,000 words. One page is typically about 300 words. That would mean the book would take at least 266 days to write, plus the time I would need to edit it before I can start submitting it to literary agents.

A friend told me about National Novel Writing Month, which challenges writers to write 1,000 words a day. Although I didn’t officially compete, I set the goal of 1,000 words a day for myself and this allowed me to craft the first 15,000 words of my book in a relatively short period of time. I read an article by James Altucher where he says that trying to hit a new daily limit is like stretching a muscle. I stretched the muscle to 1000, but then fell back on 500. With simple math this means that writing the book will likely take twice as long.

However, I also don’t want to fall into the trap of writing only to hit a word limit. This could lead to rushed plot developments or poor dialogue that I have to spend a lot of time editing anyway. I finished my first rough draft of Elseworld pretty quickly but then had to spend plenty of time editing dialogue, plot holes, removing characters and completely rewriting the book from start to finish. Elseworld was a great learning experience but I also don’t want to use it as an excuse to stick to 500 words a day.

As I write Alive, I brainstorm the next few pages of the book. This allows me to have a clear idea of where I am going with the next 1000 words to hopefully avoid time consuming rewrites later in the process. I’m currently at 30,000 words and if I can commit to 1000 words a day I can have a rough draft completed by April. Alive feels like it will be longer than Elseworld, and I am predicting the rough draft will hit 100,000 words, which will need to be trimmed. The main areas I will trim will likely be the first thirty pages.

In some ways, Alive is a superhero story, about a regular person being bestowed with superhuman abilities. The origin story might be taking up too much time. The one time I got any personalized feedback from an agent, they advised that they were worried the story started too slow. Alive has a slower start, so I think it is a good idea to cut it down for the final draft. I don’t want to remove all of the content but I will likely reformat it into condensed flashbacks. Until then, I want to keep taking it 1000 words at a time.

Stay True

As I continue writing Alive, I get closer to approaching the most controversial part of the story. When I started writing the novel, I knew I wanted to create a werewolf set in a medieval fictional society with a black protagonist. I knew I wanted him to live on an island with warring villages, where one village was systematically annexing all the others.

More brainstorming led to a more fleshed out story, and I realized I wanted the protagonist to meet another werewolf on the island; a black woman who wanted to use their gift to eliminate the people who oppressed them. Like Elseworld, a story of interplanetary slavery, the book doesn’t shy away from exploring discrimination.

I remember presenting Elseworld year to a literary agent at the Writer’s Digest Conference in New York. I was able to successfully pitch the book to four agents, although this ultimately didn’t get me anywhere. One agent honestly didn’t seem that intrigued by the idea after I described it, but she also said she didn’t want to represent a terrorism story. At the time, I was interning a few blocks away from The World Trade Center and it clicked to me that maybe my subject matter could be one of the reasons I am having a harder time getting an agent. I never truly considered this since there are so many recent films and books that explore the topic. However, being a nobody always makes it tougher to sell something.

As I get ready to explore black supremacy in Alive, I start to wonder if those two words might scare any agent away from my work. My problem is that I am writing the story I want, not just a story I want to sell. Maybe it will come at a cost, but a part of me believes that I will still be able to see my work published someday.

The Next Five Pages of Alive

Hello everyone,

As I have mentioned before I started writing my third novel at the end of October. It is inspired by my poetry series, Alive. Set in a fictional medieval world, Alive tells the tale of a villager who’s curse is used to attack another village. Instead of writing one page a day, which usually equals about three hundreds words. I am now committed to writing at least 500 words a day. It is a small change but will allow me to cut the expected completion of a rough draft down from June to April. I am excited about where the story is going but I also realize that the direction I am taking it in could be very controversial. However, the controversial story is the one I want to tell. Below I have the second excerpt from the novel. Along with the first excerpt, these pages account for chapter one.

*************

werewolf_tattoo_idea_by_spdmngtruper-d6gwr9b

About ten minutes passed before the cuts healed. Mason was doing a rough count in his head, to satisfy his own curiosity. He knew the cut was starting to heal before William left the cell. It was a sensation he became familiar with over the past five weeks. He could feel his skin stretching to sew up the holes that William created. It started with a burning sensation that gave way to a prickling one as the skin stitched itself together.

Mason peeled off the bandage and used his sleeve to wipe away the blood, revealing unmarked skin. He then put the bandage back on. He didn’t want to give William too much information yet. The longer William had to spend doing his tests, the longer Mason would stay alive.

These tests made it clear that Mason could heal quickly, but he was sure he could still be killed. There was a good chance his body might not heal from a severed head, and the village council must have thought the same thing. Maybe Mason’s head would reattach itself, but there was only one way to find out and Mason was eager to avoid it. He was also hoping that William didn’t have that test on his agenda.

About twenty minutes in, Mason heard footsteps approaching the door. Either his count was far off or William was eager to see his patient. The footsteps continued to the door, and then stopped for a few seconds. Mason heard the tell-tale clink of a key ring, then the sound of a door unlocking. The sound emanated from the base of the door this time though.

The straps pulled taut as Mason rushed to the foot of his bed, with his eyes fixed on the door. A panel slid open along the bottom, reminding Mason of the door he made to allow his dog to get out of the house. The bottom two feet of the door now revealed a food tray that was pushed into the room, sliding until it hit Mason’s feet.

Mason quickly gripped the tray with his feet and dragged it until it was at the head of his bed. From there, the straps allowed him to bend and lift the tray onto his lap. He looked to his right to see that the panel was already closed. The guard probably figured his job was done once the tray was in the cell, it didn’t matter if Mason could reach it or not.

The tray held three chicken legs and nothing else, which suited Mason fine. He knew meat was in shorter supply due to the recent raids, but it seemed like William also wanted to test Mason’s appetite. Mason could see the marks made when the guards deboned the legs, but he didn’t mind. Mason finished eating in a few minutes, leaving nothing but the tray. The tray itself was made from parchment, molded by a printing press into a single, thick sheet that folded up and formed a wall around the food inside. Mason tossed the tray back to the foot of his bed and washed his hands, barely able to reach the sink to his left.

By his count, he had another five minutes before William returned.

#

The door opened again in three minutes, by Mason’s count. William didn’t wait for the door to be closed behind him before he rushed to Mason’s bedside. The guards rushed to catch up to him, standing only within arm’s reach of William this time.

“Do you mind?” William said, as he reached for the bandage.

“Like you said, I don’t have a choice. Go ahead.” Mason said.

William offered a wan smile as he peeled the bandage back. He pulled a cloth from his robe and wiped away the blood, revealing the unmarked skin underneath.

“Amazing,” William said.

While William was fascinated, the guards both looked horrified. They both took a step backwards; as if they were worried the curse was contagious. It was, in a sense. A bite had apparently transferred the bite to Mason, but that appeared to be the only way for anyone else to get it. That didn’t matter to the guards at this moment. Protecting William was the least of their concerns.

“Not a single scar. Like anyone, smaller injuries heal faster. Took a few weeks to recover from your attack. What makes you special is that your injuries don’t leave a single scar. So many of our men have died in battles from injuries far less severe than yours. It’s possible that you could still die from old age, but I believe that if that does happen, it would happen much later than the average person. You weren’t affected by any of the diseases that normally kill someone after an animal attack. It’s possible that your body is able to resist infection completely. If we could find a way to transfer your healing to others, we’d never have to worry about raids again. If you work with me, you can save this village.” William said.

“How can you transfer it to others? Does the council want an army of…people like me?” Mason said. He still couldn’t bring himself to say the word.

“They want people with your abilities, without your alternate persona of course. Trying to create that is the greatest challenge.” William said.

Mason knew an army of soldiers that could heal from injury could protect Torville, but they could also turn against their people. The risk of coups and abuse of power would be amplified from people that didn’t fear death. As expected, there was something else that William wasn’t telling him. Probing for the truth wouldn’t get him anywhere right now. Mason kept focusing on the next full moon.

“Thanks again for your cooperation, Mason. It truly makes things a lot easier for all of us.” William said. Mason knew another test was coming.

William reached into the front pocket of his robe again, pulling out a syringe. The glass tube was about four inches long, with an iron handle and needle protruding from either end. The tube itself was filled with blood. At least that is what Mason guessed; he didn’t know what else the dark red liquid could be.

“I’m going to inject you with this; it will serve as one of the most important tests.” William said as he approached Mason again. “Is that alright with you?”

The second sentence seemed like an afterthought. Maybe William needed to maintain the charade of friendliness in order to sleep at night. Mason was smart enough to realize that the blood in the tube was altered somehow. Maybe it was tainted with some sort of chemical; a type of weapon that William was developing to kill Mason’s other half. Maybe William already had everything he needed and was now worried that the guard’s weapons wouldn’t be able to end Mason’s life. Mason realized that even if he was right, there was nothing to be done now.

Mason could feel his heart beating faster as it pumped his own blood. He extended his right forearm, seeing the veins bulging against his skin. William wasted no time finding his target and injecting the payload. The alien blood flowed into Mason’s body, and he held his breath as he waited for his body’s response. By the time Mason exhaled William was by the cell door.

“I’ll check on you tomorrow morning, good night Mason.”

Mason’s arm trembled as he brought it back to his lap. He knew the trembling was from fear. He was fine for now, but he worried what the future would bring. If he was injected with some sort of disease that could kill him from the inside, he might go days without seeing symptoms. William mentioned that Mason didn’t get any of the diseases that could normally result from an animal attack, and that was the only thing stopping Mason from panicking. He started counting again.

Twenty minutes passed, with Mason staring at the ceiling as he counted. Although he knew how much time passed, he realized he had no idea what time it was. He was losing track of hours and days. He only knew of the date for the next full moon because William told him, and William’s daily visits were the best indicator of time moving from day to day.

The cell door was never open wide enough for Mason to get a good glimpse outside. He only ever made out white walls. There appeared to be a hallway that led straight ahead, with no other cells in sight. Lanterns hung along the wall and there was one window carved into it about fifty feet down. There wasn’t any light filtering in from the window this time. It was dark out now, so it was probably at least seven o’clock already.

There was one lantern hanging from the ceiling, about twenty feet high and far out of Mason’s reach. The lantern wasn’t going to be in the room originally, William said it was only there due to his requests. Mason couldn’t be sure if William was telling the truth. Otherwise, the room would be shrouded in darkness for the entire day. There were no windows or openings of any kind, except the door, which was open for only a few seconds at a time.

This was his life now; Glimpses of sunlight, followed by one test after another.

 

Wattpad and Other Updates

The first chapter of my second book, The Visitor, is now on Wattpad. As expected, very few views but I’ll try to stick with the platform for a few months. I am only planning to upload one chapter a week so I won’t have to upload the entire book before I get to monitor the progress. In addition to editing and uploading The Visitor I will also start converting my werewolf series, Alive, into a novel. The poetry pieces I have on the site now will serve as the backbone of the story, but I will be expanding it. It will take place in a fictional feudal society, where the protagonist’s curse is used as a weapon to attack other villages.

werewolf_tattoo_idea_by_spdmngtruper-d6gwr9b

I am almost caught up with the 130 issues of Robert Kirkman’s Invincibleand will be writing an article for comicommand over the weekend. The series will end with issue 144 and I am hoping the ending lives up the series that preceded it.

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Alive: Part V

Hello everyone,

This piece will conclude the Alive series. I have finished a draft of The Visitor, and plan to start editing it in two weeks. I want to let it sit for a little while so I can return to it with fresh(er) eyes.

*******

The six-foot thick sheet of glass fell to the ground,

The scientists already vacated the room,

But their scents lingered,

Forming a trail that I could easily follow,

There was a door on the left side,

I knew I couldn’t fit through it,

With one slap I tore down the brick wall around it,

Showering the ground with tiles and revealing a hallway that led to the surface,

I could see the scientists now,

Running as fast as their legs would carry them,

They were about fifty feet ahead of me,

While a line of armed soldiers were less than ten feet away,

 

I screamed as a barrage of bullets hit me,

With the scream coming out as a growl,

Bullets pierced my chest, arms, legs,

I fell to the ground,

Knowing what the soldiers would do next,

They kept shooting for a few seconds,

More bullets hit my skull,

Grazing the skin but failing to break through the thick bone,

I barely refrained from smiling as I heard the click of empty magazines,

 

My body was already expelling the bullets,

Slowly pushing them out to make way for new muscle,

The pain would persist for several hours,

My mind would block it out,

My body was ready,

I leapt off the ground,

Swinging my right arm in an arc,

My claws severed necks,

Cleaved skulls,

Lacerated faces,

Five hits,

Five soldiers dead,

 

One more problem to take care of,

I waited a few more seconds,

I could feel some of the bullet holes were healed,

There were just a few more to go now,

One bullet was still being dislodged from my left knee,

Tearing through nerves and veins as it made its way out,

I heard it hit the ground,

Then I could feel my muscles stretching to sew up the hole,

I planted my legs beneath me,

Feeling their strength,

Knowing that I was ready,

 

I pushed off,

Sailing over the soldier’s bodies,

Another leap,

Then another,

The gap between the scientists and I continued to dwindle,

I could only make out grey figures with my eyes,

But my nose and hearing showed me more,

Their coats flapping,

The rhythm of their steps,

Sweat on their skin,

The scent of food on their tongues,

 

With ten leaps,

There was food on my tongue,

I tore through the first scientist’s shoulder,

My teeth collided with one another,

Rattling my jaw,

Compressing bone and flesh,

The man’s scream was almost deafening to my ears,

So I brought my right paw onto his head to silence him,

I felt his skull flex under the weight before it stretched and crushed his brain,

As I raised my paw,

His head was a single splatter on the metal floor beneath me,

Three more to go,

They were all running at a similar pace,

Separated by only a few feet,

 

Five leaps,

One swing of my right arm,

Two more carcasses,

I wanted to take my time with the last one,

He was the mastermind behind my imprisonment,

I wanted him to stare into Frankenstein’s eyes before he died,

Two more leaps,

A claw tore through his Achilles tendons,

Sending him crashing to the ground,

 

I heard screams again,

So loud, so grating,

Worse than gunfire,

The mastermind kept moving forward,

Trying to crawl to safety,

I slid a paw underneath his chest,

Lifted my arm to effortlessly flip him onto his back,

 

He saw me now,

Red eyes,

Bloodstained teeth,

Five hundred pounds of fur-coated muscle,

The scent of urine became more pungent,

The screams died down to a whimper,

Tears mixed with sweat,

Forming a tapestry that I found deeply satisfying,

Not because of the smell itself,

But what it signified,

The mastermind now realized that I was not his pet,

I was his damnation,

 

My teeth tore through his face,

Penetrating his eyes, mouth and skull,

As I pulled my teeth away,

I could only make out a severed neck beneath me,

A macabre fountain that was decorating the ground with coppery blood,

 

The scientists picked this area because it was remote,

Now that would be their undoing,

The sun wouldn’t come up for eight more hours,

My new body would carry me far away by then,

To freedom,

To peace.

 

 

Alive: Part III

Hello everyone,

I’ve been posting more excerpts of Part I and II  on instagram and they have gained some traction with some users; a little more engagement through comments and likes than some other pics. With analytics now installed it seems I got lost in vanity metrics for too long, I’m not seeing much improvement in website traffic. However, I have already put a good deal of time into building my followers so I figure I’ll continue, while also putting in more effort to promote the site via the instagram accounts. I previously had the naïve mindset that any follower or anyone who likes multiple pics, will check my profile and view the site. Then I realized there are plenty of users I follow, who link to their website in the profile. I always think that I’ll check it out when I get time but then I never do.

Using excerpts of my pre-existing pieces has given me a bank of stories to draw from, but the excerpts are now running low. I don’t like reposting often and it seems like engagement and followers dip if I do it too often. Then again, instagram users unfollow faster than users of any other platform (from personal experience) so the loss of followers could be completely unrelated.

With that said, below is part III of the Alive series. I plan to tackle a novel or perhaps a novella for this story once I complete The Visitor and Hazard.

***********

I could feel the blood swirling through my chest,

My chest was still expanding, and the blood was making its way up my throat,

My white shirt was stained as the blood lapped over my tongue and made its way into my lap,

My spine continued to elongate, it always grew fastest,

My torso now dwarfed my legs, stretching six feet away from my waist,

I looked down in time to see my arms and legs break free of the straps,

I braced for the most painful part of the transformation,

There was a deafening crack as my legs split along the femur,

Once the bone split, it began to twist and reform,

My five toes merged into three,

My skin started to shed now,

The dark brown canvas snapped like an elastic band,

Sprinkling the ground with skin and blood,

With the old skin now gone,

The new came out of hiding,

It seemed to come from beneath my flesh,

Wrapping around my muscles,

Black, almost silver under the light,

The fur came next,

I could feel the rough bristles tearing through newly formed pores,

It felt like my skin was burning,

Yet I knew it wasn’t,

My nose was already picking up new scents,

Cleaning products used days ago,

The scent of five people on the other side of the glass

Cologne, Cigarettes, Alcohol,

The food on their breath,

It was all coming to me,

Forming an image clearer than anything my eyes could give me,

The world became a swirl of greys,

All with different hues and tones,

Colour was gone, but clarity improved,

I could see grains of dirt that were invisible to me before,

I could see every pore on my arm as I stretched it in front of me,

Looking at the ground, I felt like I was floating,

Ten feet off the ground,

Two hundred pounds heavier,

Yet feeling lighter,

Baptized by pain,

In order to achieve power

 

 

Alive: Part II

This is a continuation of my previous post, Alive

 

I am considering expanding this idea for a novel, once I finish my current projects- The Visitor and Hazard

##

 

I could only see four walls,

Three were brick, one was glass,

The guards, scientists and politicians were on the other side,

I would be giving them a sight to remember,

 

I couldn’t see the moon,

I could feel it,

No distance, no wall could prevent its strength from seeping into me,

It crashed through my body,

In one intoxicating wave after another,

The straps were holding me still, but I could feel my limbs swelling with blood,

It wasn’t just my muscles that were growing,

My organs, my veins, my blood itself was multiplying to accommodate a new body,

A new body that was rapidly emerging as the moon reached its peak in the sky,

 

The straps were meant to stretch,

But not this much,

They began to tear across my chest, my arms, my legs as my body kept growing,

The power never came without pain,

My skin tore and peeled as my body shed its old suit,

I could see exposed nerves and blood-drenched muscles,

I screamed as I felt my spine elongating, being pulled so tight I felt like it would snap,

I gasped as I felt my lungs and heart expand,

My chest burned as more air and blood suddenly made their way in,

I could feel the blood gushing through me, and as always, I felt like I was drowning from the inside,

I knew the feeling would pass,

 

Once it did, my new skin would grow,

Then the final part of the transformation would take place,

The one that all the people on the other side of the glass truly feared.

 

 

 

Alive

I could still move my fingers,

It was the only sign that the restraints weren’t cutting off my blood flow,

The guards made sure to make them tighter after the last time,

The leather straps dug into my skin, branding my flesh,

Their tightness felt intrusive, foreign

But I knew I’d get used to it soon,

After an hour, I would barely notice them

In two hours, they would be the only things holding me back,

 

I couldn’t remember what I did the last time the straps failed,

I only heard from other people,

Fearfully, angrily telling me what I had done to their cattle, their pets, their loved ones,

I didn’t believe anyone the first time,

So I volunteered for my current situation,

Putting myself in a position to end the fear and anger,

 

I couldn’t deny what happened the second time,

It was preserved on film and nearly proved to be my death sentence,

There were no torches and pitchforks, but there were fists, knives and guns,

To keep my life, I had to lose my freedom,

 

Experiments, torture, whatever they deemed necessary to understand my curse,

Sometimes I wonder if it is worth living this way,

I was no longer a man to them, I wasn’t even an animal, I was an abomination,

A sign of something wrong, unholy, unwanted

I couldn’t help but wonder what they really wanted from me,

Why keep me alive?

Unless there was something about me they deemed necessary, or maybe even useful.