Final Project Part 2 – Inner Demons

So, here is the second thing I am going to share. During week 2 of this class we had to outline and describe our “bucket list” book. The book we have always wanted to write. I knew immediately what I wanted to use for this, but… it is such an undertaking and will require a decent amount of research asI want to do it right. I want to do it justice because it is a topic that is near and dear to my heart. It is a story largely about rape. No, it doesn’t go on and on providing the details of women being raped, but rather, the damage that is caused by a single incident and how that lives with the victim long after the event. When I started writing the paper outlining this “bucket list” book, I didn’t know I would be starting the book with my final paper. My idea is actually a Sixth Sense type of story where the reader is dumbfounded at the end. I don’t know if I can accomplish that, but this is a topic that is near and dear to my heart. Too many women in my life have been sexual assaulted/abused/raped. Not enough attention is paid to it (#metoo wasn’t enough) and I wanted to write a story with that as a focus. I want the reader to feel what the protagonist is going through and why she is doing what she is doing. It IS justified and should be recognized. I feel like I am ruining the story that I will eventually put out so I am going to stop there. I know I am a man who could never understand the depth and reality of this topic. Believe me. I get it and I don’t. But that is why it is my “bucket list” book. I already have several volunteers who are willing to tell me their stories. This takes courage and I respect the hell out of them for a) stepping forward and for b) helping me tell their story through a little bit of fiction. I will do the research and I only hope I can do their stories justice.

Also, I should add, the start of our story had to have an emphasis on nature for the project. This will not be the start of the story as I already have a different idea in mind (and did before I wrote this) but given the parameters, my original beginning wouldn’t work within the realm of the assignment. So I improvised. This will probably be the start of Chapter 3 or so (and will be heavily revised). Also, don’t read into the names. These are not final (and are nowhere near the final). I pick a name when I start writing. That is all it is, a name. Usually, somewhere between 40-80% I end up having a conversation with the characters and they tell me their name. That is the way I work. I don’t outline. I get an idea, highlight a few points and fill in the rest as I write. I hope you don’t judge me for that. My placeholder names are usually generic and usually a little bit out there, just so it is easy to find (and also it forces me to find their true character).

Also… not professionally edited. Just a minor Grammarly edit. Don’t judge me on tense/grammar, etc. I did a couple passes, but in reality, I suck at all that :). Please let me know your thoughts.

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

Raindrops pelted Maryanne’s face, driven by the fierce blowing wind as she looked into the deep ravine in search of her fugitive. Why do they always have to run? she wondered. It’s because he’s a rapist scumbag, that’s why. They always run. The rain made looking for the perp almost impossible. The slick, muddy ground didn’t help matters either. Movement caught her eye to the south, and she saw him following the path of a small creek nestled between the thick cover of aspen and pine trees.

“I’ve  got eyes on him. Heading south through the ravine,” she said into her walkie talkie.

“Roger. Patrol units are en-route.”

“And air support?”

“A bird is also en-route. We should have eyes on him in two minutes.”

Maryanne kept her visual on him from her higher vantage point under cover from the thick bows of an old cedar tree. Normally, she’d already be down in the bottom of the ravine hot on his tail. The mud made such an endeavor nearly impossible, and as such, she remained at the top of the hill, shielding her eyes with her hands so she wouldn’t have to squint and possibly lose him.

The whir of helicopter rotors entered her peripheral hearing, and she urged them to hurry before he disappeared in the forest, or down a culvert. She didn’t want this guy back on the street. A serial rapist of many women (of all ages and ethnicities), he’d been in and out of the system since he was fourteen. It seemed there was no woman (or girl) who was off-limits. He was probably abused himself at a young age, which is why he fell into this life. But that was no excuse.

He neared the edge of the ravine, and soon she was going to lose sight of him. “Where is that damn helicopter?” He slowed his progress to traverse a number of large boulders that blocked his path. From this distance, they looked like limestone.

Flashing red and blue lights lit up the base of the ravine and bounced off the walls of the cliffs, as well as the wet street below. Seven squad cars squealed their tires as they came to a screeching halt. The officers jumped out of their cars and drew their guns. They used their vehicles as a shield. She heard the deep mumbling voice of one of the officers who was issuing orders over his megaphone. Ricky stopped, and his head darted back and forth.

“No, you don’t, you son of a bitch. You’re not getting away from us today.” She grabbed her walkie. “Where is the helicopter? The suspect’s escape route has been sealed, but he’s looking for another way out. I need eyes in the sky.”

“Roger that,” came the response. “Bird should be there in fifteen seconds.”

An answer to her prayers, the helicopter flew over her head. It wasn’t dark yet, but given the weather conditions, there were so many shadows and it made finding Ricky next to impossible. The helicopter switched on its spotlight and bathed the damp ravine in bright light. They could see his every movement.

More orders were issued over the megaphone, and it looked like Ricky was out of options. But Ricky didn’t think so. Even from her distance, Maryanne could tell he was panicking and wasn’t about to give up. He had that trapped rat in a cage look about him. His head darted in all different directions while he looked for an escape. Maryanne knew he had very few options. She could see quite well from her little perch, even in the rain, and he literally was surrounded. If he turned around, she’d be on him in a second. He could hide in the trees, but there was no getting out of them. Cliffs bordered both sides of the ravine. The best he could hope for was to hide in the trees. But the helicopter had infrared and would be able to keep tabs on him until the officers moved in.

Speaking of which, several of the officers slowly closed on his position while the officer with the megaphone continued barking instructions. Ricky turned around for a second. She knew he realized he was trapped. While the officers moved closer, he reached behind his back with his right hand.

“No, no, no. Not like this. Please, God,” she said. She grabbed her walkie. “Do not shoot. He doesn’t have a weapon.”

More gruff orders and Ricky continued to reach for his back pocket.

Three bullets cracked through the air, and Ricky fell to the ground. Maryanne collapsed to her knees. This wasn’t the fitting end she had in store for Ricky. He needed to be punished, not killed.

[JH1]Blue highlights errors related to UCOL Guidelines, Turabian citation and reference list formatting, and/or professional standards expected by editors and agents.

 

Eliminate the extra space after your paragraphs using the Format drop-down menu

Final Project Part 1 – Broken World

Just finished another class (sorry, this is where all of my writing time is spent, unfortunately). For this project we had to focus on the zoom. We had to either zoom in or zoom out. I chose to zoom out and (hopefully) make a point. I had a lot of fun with it. It is repetitive, but I think that works as a cadence, but it is detracting as an overall story (better if formatted as a poem IMO). Let me know your thoughts (really, give me your thoughts).

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

A yellow ring circles the hole in the sink’s drain. The porcelain cracked and browned from times cruel hand. Sinewy brown legs appear through the drain looking for purchase as a brown spider crawls into the barren sink. In front of it, in the middle of the kitchen, is an old wooden table, long forgotten, and covered in a thick layer of gray dust. Spider webs stretch from the table to the counters, to the ceiling, to the fixtures, unbroken, allowed to dominate this empty establishment.

Whomever once called this domicile home, left in an absolute hurry. The chairs usually placed around this elegant table, now tossed aside, lying on the floor, some broken, others majestically accepting their final resting place. Cabinet doors remain open, as do several drawers as if someone was looking for something in a panic. A rancid odor permeates the thick, dust-filled air. Spoiled food from the still open refrigerator the likely culprit.

Behind the kitchen is a dining room, which is connected to a family room. Cobwebs create a barrier through each new doorway. Each room, another path through this decent-sized home. An office, bedrooms, bathrooms, even a laundry room. Between each room is a hallway, filled with pictures of the happy family who once resided in this now aging house. Likely dead and now a part of the reclaimed ground after the great war poisoned the very dirt this home sits upon.

The house’s cracked siding, with chipping blue paint, rots from the insects who have made it their home. Vibrant ivy climbs up each side of the house as if swallowing the building whole and digesting what remains for generations. Thick grass, untouched for years, surrounds the home. Tall trees stand dead, once green and vibrant, now something out of a Halloween horror movie with their long bony claws reaching up to heaven. To either side, more houses stretching for as far as the eye can see. This home is just one of many, once filling this concrete jungle. It is a neighborhood. And two streets over is another neighborhood, and another, making what was once called a suburb. Each suburb is next to another suburb, and several more, all of which once formed a city. At the heart of the city, giant buildings block out the sun and cast shadows in their wake. The hustle and bustle of people moving about long replaced with silence.

Hundreds of years ago, this land was a forest. Tall majestic trees filled the horizon. But then humans arrived. They chopped down the trees in the name of progress to build the things they needed, unworried about the future, knowing they would grow back. For a while, the trees did do precisely that, but as urban sprawl spread around the world to support the staggering population growth, more and more land dedicated to the trees was replaced by cities, suburbs, neighborhoods, and homes. When empty land grew scarce, human turned on human, brother on brother, neighborhood on neighborhood, and city on city all in pursuit of the resources needed to survive, which once grew in abundance, but because of human greed, all but disappeared.

When the dust of war settled, only a few remained, but with no one to produce the things the remaining needed to survive, they too disappeared. Even the mightiest of survivors will eventually pass on, some from hunger, others from feeling alone. The world is a big and lonely place, especially after so many have returned to the dirt. Now, Mother Nature is left to reclaim the world that once belonged to her.

Isn’t it ironic, that in the name progress and survival, humans devastated the very things they needed for survival? The very buildings they built to survive, remain long after the light of human life is extinguished. The concrete roads, streets, and highways, now cracked and falling apart. Grass, plants, and trees peak their heads out between the cracks to see if it is safe to sprout and survive. They crawl over the now empty surface and overtake the abandoned cars and trucks. Down each road, the plants find house after house to call home. Eventually, each car, home, building, and structure is covered in new, vibrant, green life. Finally, all signs the humans were even here are erased, which is Mother Nature’s intention. Humans were, after all, a failed experiment, and it is up to her to set things right. In just a couple of decades, the resilient Earth will long forget about the invasion of humans and will thrive in the new environment the Mother has given it.

Poem 4 – A Simple Lake

I got so side-tracked in this new Covid-19 world, that I never posted my last two poems. I may also post the unedited version of the other 4 poems, we shall see. Anyway, this was the 4th poem I submitted in my poetry class. My professor challenged me to look at an inanimate object and I chose a lake. I wanted to examine a bit of changing climates and what the world would be like if we continued on the current trajectory. Without further ado.

A Simple Lake
Nestled in the cleavage between
two massive, grass camouflaged hills,
is a mirror of blue, smooth as sateen,
broken occasionally by energetic fish
or an overzealous juvenile.

For just a moment, no one is fighting.
Children splashing, adults laughing,
heads dunked, glee and joy abounding.
This pleasure will last a moment,
for a warm front is in the forecast.

Tentacles of shadow extend,
the rush of living comes to a close.
The surface is uninterrupted,
smooth and calm, no more jubilation.
Vibrancy fades, eerie quiet invades,
crickets sing
the end is coming.

Now placid surface, the people gone,
the heat keeps on rising,
will it stop?
The crickets and roaches have all left too,
no creature to call this place home.
Beaches maturing all around the globe,
extinction is real, look at the sigillaria tree.

Poem 3 – Survivor

This was my 3rd poem and probably my favorite. Too many women in my life have been sexually assaulted. I can’t even begin to imagine what someone feels when they go through this. It should never happen, let me just say that from the get go. I hate that it happens and I will die defending someone in this situation. I tied to put it into words as best I could. Much of this comes from input from a number of different women. As always, please, please, please give me feedback.

Raindrops splattering my face

like tears,

but my eyes are dry;

nothing more for me to give.

The storm clouds rage above,

lightning flashes,

thunder crashes.

I’m all alone,

adrift in shame.

Blood runs down my leg,

a trickle.

I shift my dress to cover

my guilt.

This was my fault,

at least that’s what I was taught.

I’m angry, hurt,

why can’t I just die?

But I must go on,

dust off my clothes,

look in a different direction,

while locking my secret away.

A lump gathers

in my throat, blocks the airway

cutting off my breath.

I collapse.

The soft grass caresses me, the sun’s

welcoming embrace pulls me

from the ground, guides me forward

casting the storm aside, brightening

the otherwise gloomy day.

Life suddenly blossoms, birds

chirping, insects buzzing,

breathing new life into my soul.

A burbling stream gathers

my attention. Wading in

the biting, cold water attacks

my legs and feet,

but it isn’t all bad.

A ribbon of dirt, sweat, and blood

floats

downstream, away from me like

the river is cleansing my soul.

I’ll remember this day

forever,

the day a man assaulted me,

and tore away my innocence.

Poem 2 – The Dirt

So, here is the second poem I chose to edit for my class. If you don’t know what I am talking about, read my previous post, lol. I am always looking for feedback, so please give me some.

Impractical people,
permeating Earth,
hoarding wealth
and possessions,
like they can take
them to the afterlife.
Money doesn’t travel with
them, nor will their assets,
or other accumulations.
So why so much effort
to hoard these in life?
When life snuffs out,
each person the same.
Status won’t matter
nor the wealth they
made during their life.

I will reclaim them
because they are mine.
No place to escape,
nowhere they can hide.
Their fate always the same.
From the Earth they come,
part of the Earth I am.
Their corpse planted in me,
or burned, tossed in the wind.
One with me they become.

Poem 1 – Of Love

People who follow me know I am pursuing my Master’s in Professional Fiction Writing. I had to take some elective courses and just completed a course in poetry. I’ve posted a couple of poems recently, but I just received feedback on my final versions. I made changes based on feedback from my fellow classmates, as well as my professor. In all, I wrote 10 poems for the class. 5 of them we had to submit for final grading, as well as a rather long reflection paper. There were guidelines each week. I wrote some in a more traditional format, but my professor suggested they would be better if I broke tradition. So my efforts to conform, resulted in me breaking all the rules, lol. This was the first of my poems. I would appreciate any and all feedback as I know this is only the beginning in regards to poetry.

Of Love

Nervous hands, dancing feet.
Infatuation filling the hole in
my heart, I didn’t know was there:
empty, gaping, cataclysmic.
Love radiates outward, like
the warmth of the sun, tugging,
entwining our souls ever further:
one body, inseparable.
Even in love there’ll be arguments
and anger, veering us off course,
all building to a precipice:
rocky, unbalanced, broken.
She is the love of my life,
yet, she pushes my buttons.
Discontinue our love now, or
jump into the deep abyss together?

Life After Death

Those who follow me know I am working on my Masters in Professional Fiction Writing through the University of Denver (Go DU!). Anyway, I have never been into poetry, but I had to take three electives and decided to take a class on poetry. I figured I should push myself, and that is what I am trying to do.

In week 2, we had to take and idea that was near and dear to our heart and transform it into a poem. I have had too many women in my life affected by rape,  I just knew this was what I had to put on my canvas. So I wrote a poem, which you will see below. I had a meeting with my professor the following week and he suggested that I get feedback from women. Before posting it, I had already run it by my wife, but next week is week 10, and I need to turn in revised versions of all my poems.

So, I need women to comment and offer feedback. I know I am a man and can never truly understand the pain that is associated with such an act.  But I do feel for those who have been victimized and would like to make it a life goal to stop such things from happening. This can be tough, and I can respect those who wish to remain silent, but for those who have gone through these heinous acts, I am with you and would like to draw attention to the shit hole that this truly is. So if you are comfortable with it, I can use any and ALL feedback you can offer. It will be completely anonymous. I need the feedback and am only looking for comments. I appreciate the support.

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

Raindrops splattering my face like tears,

only my eyes are dry;

I can’t give any more.

The storm clouds above rage,

as lightning flashes, mimicking

my internal thoughts and feelings.

I brought this on myself, or so I was taught.

At least that’s what my granny would say.

Smoothing my dress to cover the bloodstains on my panties,

I try to climb to my feet, but can’t.

It hurts. I hurt. But I know I must go on,

it’s what we’re told,

dust off your clothes,

and look in a different direction,

all the while keeping a little secret.

With conviction, I make it to my feet,

pressing forward, as I will in life.

This won’t be the end of me.

I will not allow this situation,

define who I am, for I am strong.

A lump gathers in my throat,

blocking my airway,

cutting off my breath, and I collapse.

The soft pillow of grass caresses me,

and the warm embrace

of the Sun’s welcoming yellow arms,

pulls my head from the ground,

guiding me forward with resolve.

The reemergence of the sun

brings out the birds and insects.

My cheerleaders whispering this isn’t my fault,

The man is a predator, nothing but scum gathering beneath my feet.

I yearn for a warm tidepool,

to wash this filth away,

but water won’t help,

only the bite of cold steel will.

The Jungle

I’m in a poetry class and we needed to write the same poem but in two different formats: metric and cadence. I’m still early in the revision process, but which do you prefer and do you have any suggestions?

The Jungle (metric)

Tall masts, a beacon flowing in a sea

of green, stretching to the heavens, reaching

arms pleading with the Gods, a chance maybe,

to put this in the rearview, beseeching

the higher power to remove the pain,

for every one felled, I now must feign.

 

There is no more, only incompetence.

Bleats surrounding, lessening our breath,

methane filling the air, no bottomless

source. Each fallen brethren, another death.

We do not mourn, you’ve done this to yourself,

You never cared for the shrinking ice shelves.

 

The Jungle (cadence)

You see a tall mast, maybe a beacon, flowing in a

sea of green,

arms outstretched, reaching toward the almighty heavens,

pleading with the Gods for a chance

to put an end to this nonsense, and the encroaching

herd, a nuisance

eating their way through the life force, encouraging

a beseeching to the all mighty, anyone, to answer the call,

to make things right, and return to the Earth

a moment without blight, where you mourn the dead,

and cherish what has been returned to continue your life.

 

Your call goes unanswered, you’re fighting for your life,

not for lack of meat, but because livestock is your greed,

but the lack of trees,

is lessening the oxygen from the air you breathe,

giving you the replacement of methane,

which you do know is fatal, but as long as your stomach is full,

who are you to judge?

So cut down the trees, forget what they mean.

Burn them in your fires and fill the air with hydrocarbons,

for humans will live long after the rest of the Earth expires.

Emergent Reader

Hey, so I had to write an emergent reader for my Children’s Literature class. We had to use only a list of 40  Dolch Pre-Primer Words. We could not change tense and we could not use words outside this list. It would be so much better with images, but here is what I wrote. Please note, since I couldn’t use words outside of the 40 Dolch words, I used colors instead of names.

 

One is me.
Two is you and me.
Three is you and you and me.
Can you see it?
We three play.
We three run.
We jump up.
We come down.
Yellow is here.
Where is red?
I look to see.
Red is not here.
I jump with yellow.
I come down.
Where is yellow?
I look to see.
I see me.
Little is me.
Big is we.
We is you and you and me.

Not Your Grandma’s Vampire

I know… not a great title, but I wanted to be catchy.

My most recent novel released in print back in February. It is now live in eBook format. So for those of you who are like me and only order books electronically, the wait is finally over.

Enough propaganda (I’m sure we’re all sick of that with what is going on here in the U.S.) and on to the point. I’ve read many vampire stories. They are all very interesting, but it seems things haven’t changed with the rest of society. Most stories are the same concepts set forth by Bram Stoker in 1897. I think, Stephanie Meyer tried to make a more modern vampire with Twilight, but it was all very PG and cheesy (IMO, and before the Twilight fans come back at me, I’ve read all the books, and watched all the movies, and in all honesty, I enjoyed them). This isn’t a post to rip apart her work. I was entertained. But after a Twilight binge watching session with my wife (and not the first time we watched the movies), I gave her my thoughts on vampires. When I think of vampires, I think of sex, blood, alcohol, drugs, etc. But at the same time, I wanted to be different. This was the idea for The Vampire’s Curse.

I gave my wife my own ideas and she told me I should make it into a story. Two months later came NaNoWriMo and I said “Fuck it! Let’s do this.” I wanted to stay true to Bram’s original idea, but I wanted to modify it. In The Vampire’s Curse, the vampires are very similar to ordinary people. The sleep like humans, they don’t burn up from the Sun. They exist within human society and try to keep their identities a secret. They were created by Lucifer in rebellion of his fate. But God created his own minions to counter the vampire’s of Earth. I’m going on a tangent, but what I tried to create was a unique vampire story. They use magic. They exist, although hidden in modern society. They have even infiltrated the oval office. I wanted to create a non-PG vampire story and I think I was successful (although you all could tell me otherwise.) I wanted to create an MC that was a mix of Deadpool, but yet still a vampire. He’s not a superhero, and in fact finds trouble around every corner.

So if any of this sounds intriguing, please check out The Vampire’s Curse: Life Eternal. And there will be more. I’m currently working on the next book.

Here is a link to the physical book

And Amazon hasn’t linked the two versions yet, but if you are looking for the eBook, you can get a copy here

Also, don’t forget to visit my website and be sure to sign up for my mailing list.

cover_vampires_curse