Wasteland Wednesday #3

*Language and Content Warning*

skull and crossbones.jpgskull and crossbonesUnlike QE’s normal informational blog, Wasteland Wednesday is potentially full of foul language and post-apocalyptic nonsense.  I’m talking f-bombs, thrice-bosomed mutant women, and buckets of gore.

Wasteland Wednesday

Welcome to the third edition of Wasteland Wednesday!  Today I’m going to introduce you to an important and deadly lady.  Instead of applying epic creativity, I’m going to share my unedited original character concept with you.  Plus a couple author notes about the character from me at the end.

Full Name:  Alexandria [Last name unknown]

Nickname: Lex

Age: 30

Bio: Lex has only known the world as a wasteland.  She was born on the day the bombs decimated the United States.  Drake and her paths converged five years after the destruction.  Drake’s original party found Lex scavenging on the outskirts of Columbus.  She was dirty, alone, and starving.  Lex was also bordering on feral.

At this point in time, Drake’s group was starting to transition from deadly survivors into a disorganized band of raiders and slavers.  When a raiding group discovered Lex she was captured and brought back to central Columbus.

Conflict 101: Man vs ManThe general census was this young girl would be used by the group for morale (raped) and then traded to one of bands of slavers taking hold of the area.  When Drake saw the girl she reminding him of his dead son Jonathon who was roughly the same age as her when he was turned into radioactive dust.  This, combined with his depression and overall disillusionment with the group, caused Drake to attempt to free the girl and allow her to escape.

All of these events culminated with Drake getting blasted in the head.  In the confusion he generated, Lex did manage to escape.  Drakes presumably dead body was stripped of everything and left to rot.  Once they finished stripping Drake’s body and left the area, Lex returned to Drake.  He was still alive, but practically a vegetable.

Lex stayed with Drake bringing back whatever food and water she could find.  She also cauterized the holes in his head.  It took a while, but eventually Drake’s body recovered.  His mind never would.

Despite this, Lex knows that under the madness and insanity is a decent man.  Lex has stayed with Drake, often in the shadows, no matter how many half-hearted attempts Drake has made to rid himself of her.  They have traveled together for twenty-five years now.

Abilities:  Lex is perhaps more deadly than Drake.  Put another way, she is deadlier in different ways.  She thrives in the shadows and plays in the chaos Drake seems to endlessly generate. Drake has noticed that as she has matured her gun sounds before his sometimes, and that means she is perhaps faster.

While Drake is a master of chaos driven insanity and confusion, Lex prefers subtlety.  This natural inclination to shadow was fostered through her formative years with Drake.  Drake often told her to go and hide when trouble came, which eventually morphed into killing people from those hiding spots.

subliminalPersonality: Lex has an extreme aversion to being touched.  Especially being touched by men. For every settlement Drake has been chased out of for killing people, Lex has gotten them banished out of another for killing men who attempted to touch her.  Sexually, she will only pay for the companionship of females.  She only chooses to sleep with prostitutes because it ensures there will be no real emotional connection, just the promise of a needed release.

Many of Drake’s personality traits have been inherited by Lex.  With that being said, she is far more calculated with what she says and tends to think things through instead of speaking and acting on impulse.  Much like Drake, she has a soft spot for children.  Also like Drake, she has no problem killing someone if they say the wrong thing to her.  She’ll just wait until they are sleeping to deliver the blow.

Motivation:  Most people’s motivations in the wasteland are centered around survival.  This is true for Lex as well.  However, Lex also realizes the power of a story and a name.  Drake’s legend, while based on truth, has been largely fabricated and exaggerated due Lex’s influence.  Part of the reason she pays for female prostitutes is because she knows they like to talk and spread gossip.

rifle breakdownEquipment:  Lex learned a lot from Drake during their travels.  She adopted his, “one mind, any weapon,” philosophy and is proficient with most killing implements.  Her tools of choice are stealth weapons.  Knives, bows, and other projectiles are her bread and butter.  She does carry a rifle and pistol, but she normally uses them as a last resort.

Author’s Note:  Lex was a late addition to my book and required some sweeping rewrites (which I always advise against doing in a first draft).  I felt my book was a bit of a sausage fest and lacked the value of a female perspective.  But beyond just injecting a female character into the story to have one, I wanted a strong character that would add a level complexity to the story.

Alexis Final.jpg

My concept work for Lex.  I digitally painted this in Photoshop using a photograph I took as a blueprint.  It’s rough, but I’m getting better (slowly).  This image is owned and created my me.  If you would like to use it contact me.

Lex also allowed me to reveal more of Drake’s personality and backstory.  What is also solid about her character is it enabled me to do this through dialogue and action, instead of info-dumping or weird internal dialogue mechanics.

I have grown fond of Lex because she is like Drake in many ways, but better than him in others.  I also like Lex’s character because she isn’t a victim.  She is a capable predator.  She doesn’t play the damsel and she doesn’t pretend to be in distress, she simply kicks ass and collects heads (mutant inbreeder heads).

Additionally, she makes Drake’s survival and legend in the wasteland a little more believable.  Especially in regards to it being coherent in the story world.  When I first wrote the story, I made the assumption his legend would spread by word-of-mouth.  But there were issues with that assumption.

Did a slaver go to random settlement and tell a story about the man who came back from the dead and starting killing them?  Why is a slaver in a settlement chilling out and not trying to enslave people?  A raider certainly wouldn’t be telling this story in a settlement, he/she would be killing people.  Is Drake the kind of character I want to portray as someone who would blather on about his own legend?  These were the issues I was dealing with in making the legend of Drake believable.

Lex allowed me to propagate Drake’s legend and backstory in a realistic way.  She also has the ability to be a stand-alone character with a powerful backstory.  The book could be rewritten from her point of view and likely be just as interesting.  For me, that’s a good thing.

That’s it for today’s wasteland news!  I hope you all stop by next Wednesday for more information about Wastelander: The Drake Legacy.  I’d love to know what you think about Lex’s character. (I’m sure Drake will be jealous she got a full-page character breakdown before him.)  Until then, keep hiding, keep hoarding, and as always – stay alive.

Copyright Info (final)

Wasteland Wednesday #2

*Language and Content Warning*

skull and crossbones.jpgskull and crossbonesUnlike QE’s normal informational blog, Wasteland Wednesday will include foul language and post-apocalyptic nonsense.  I’m talking f-bombs, men with tentacle appendages, and joy-puking.

Wasteland Wednesday

Welcome back to Wasteland Wednesday!  Last week we tipped our hat to Michail Mamaschew and revealed his progress on the kick-ass cover artwork he is doing for Wastelander: The Drake Legacy.  Also, Drake knocked down the doors of my imagination and raised a tiny bit of hell.  I wanted to talk about the world today, but I know for a fact Drake is currently occupied, so let’s take a Wednesday and peel away one of Drake’s layers.

Before we do that, let me share some updates with you all.  I’m happy to report that the cover artwork is finished.  Michail couldn’t have done a better job.  Unfortunately, I’m not going to give it to you all at once.  I’ll give it to you all in snippets and explain the relevance.  Can’t an author get a little foreplay?

Secondly, I’ve managed to snag Michail for illustrations in the complementing novella: The Wastelander Survival Guide.  I’ve taken a couple weeks off from my writing projects to recuperate, but during my “free” time I have been sketching out storyboards and will be passing those along to Michail so he can get cracking on the line art.

All right, let’s talk about Drake.  Here’s the original concept cover featuring Drake if you missed last week where he explained what he was doing in this scene.

Wastelander Concept Art
The concept cover art for Wastelander: The Drake Legacy. This image is owned by Corey Truax. Any manipulation or use of this image without written permission from Corey Truax is not permitted.  Do you have a first-born?  Maybe we can barter – contact me

Today I wanted to direct your peepers to Drake’s left hand.  You’ll see something there.  A malformed snowball? A thirty year old puff pastry?  Nah, it’s a baseball.  Not just any baseball though.  A baseball named Sammy.  Here’s a better look for you.

Sammy (the baseball)

When Drake’s journal was converted into books, Sammy was introduced to the reader in Chapter 1 of both.  Here is an unedited excerpt from Drake’s journal.

“On a side note, some people might think it strange to include a baseball in your wasteland survival loadout.  Some people are idiots.  Why huck a rock when you can sling a baseball?  What if you can’t find a rock?  You gonna toss some other piece of gear?  Why not always have an item with you designed to be thrown?  Anyways, I digress.  So with Sammy in hand, yes my baseball is named after the late Sammy Sosa, I tossed a nice high ball straight up into the treetops to garner some attention from the clueless hunters.”

-Drake

So now we have a name, Sammy, and a little bit of backstory from Drake.  Now Sammy is an important item to Drake.  Beyond basic function (throwing), the baseball serves other purposes.  If it didn’t, why would this Sammy be the 17th of its kind?  The first Sammy had an original signature on it from Sammy Sosa.  All the following baseballs had Sammy’s signature on them, too.  The only difference is Drake forged all of those.

I‘ll let you sort out the value of a baseball in the wasteland if/when you read the book.  But today, let’s look at how the wasteland can bust your balls (or lady parts), both literally and metaphorically.

  • Sammy #1 Stolen when shot in head.
  • Sammy #2 Fell into a fire.
  • Sammy #3 Boiled and eaten to survive winter.
  • Sammy #4 Discarded while Sammy #1 was being reclaimed.
  • Sammy #5 Blown up.
  • Sammy #6 Lost him.
  • Sammy #7 Stolen while asleep.
  • Sammy #8 Stitching gave up and he fell apart.
  • Sammy #9 Fell into river.
  • Sammy #10 Got drunk and wagered him.  Lost the wager.
  • Sammy #11 Destroyed while Sammy #10 was being reclaimed.
  • Sammy #12 Modified into explosive and destroyed.  It was glorious.
  • Sammy #13 Inbreeder ate him.
  • Sammy #14 Traded him for food.
  • Sammy #15 Destroyed while Sammy #14 was being reclaimed.
  • Sammy #16 Was crushed into a million tiny pieces.
  • Sammy #17 Current Sammy.

That’s your sneak peak into Wastelander today.  I’m enjoying sharing some of this trivial information with all of you.  It’s tricky revealing information that is intuitive, but not going to spoil the book.  I’m doing my best to keep it entertaining though.

question markI‘m not sure what we’ll talk about next Wasteland Wednesday.  Heck, the world may be a wasteland by then.  Who knows.  Drake has his baseball and some other bits and bobs.  If the world was going kablooey tomorrow, what items would you take with you into the wastes?  Until then, keep hiding, keep hoarding, and as always – stay alive.

Copyright Info (final)

Wastelander: First Draft Finito

Wastelander Layout

The first draft of Wastelander is finally finished!  It took a lot longer to finish than I thought it would.  I’ve been told first books are like that.  To highlight this point, here is a post from June 13, 2016 where I thought I would be done with the book in just a few weeks.  Whoops!

Now it’s time to shelf the beast and forget it exists.  When I come back to it in six plus weeks, I will do a one sitting read through (83,723 words), blast it with red ink, and rewrite the whole book all over again!  In the meantime, here are the things that will be happening:

  • I should be getting my cover art in the very near future.  Michail is doing great work.
  • Drafting of The Wastelander Survival Guide has begun.  This is the complementing novella to the book.
  • The Wastelander Survival Guide is illustrated so I need to make a story board for this and search out a good line/ink artist for rough illustrations (the drawings are created by teenage character from the main book so they shouldn’t be too spiffy).
  • I have a stack of books on writing query letters and I’ve already got a “shortlist” of agents to contact.  It’s time to start writing and polishing query letters.  Look forward to posts about this.
  • I have pre-generated a series of teasers for the book. I’ll talk about this below.
  • I have two short stories outlined that I want to write and submit to literary magazines.  One is science fiction and the other is popular culture.  I’m looking forward to writing outside of the Wastelander universe for a spell.
  • I am picking up a new client (maybe even two) in September on the business side.  So I’m looking forward to jumping into to some new worlds.  Two clients is pretty much my monthly limit as general editing consumes a bunch of time.  Especially when we are working on novel sized projects.
  • Raising my son (the tiny Thor) and helping my radioactive wife fulfill her military obligations.
  • (Oh yeah, I write a daily blog post too…)

I mentioned above I have already generated some teasers for the book.  Here is the strategy I have decided to implement with releasing information about the book.  I didn’t want to release straight excerpts from the book.  Some publishers/agents frown on this and I’m attempting to publish traditionally.

My solution was Wasteland Wednesday.  This will be a series of shorts (under 1000 words) covering different elements from the book.  I will also be offering some graphic creations as well.  Some of the shorts will be little vignettes about characters, and some will provide you background/historic information regarding the world they live in.  I will share some of my character sheets, world building tools, and “behind the scenes” information as well.  Spoiler information will be redacted.

Wasteland Wednesday.jpg

You’ll learn a lot of things about the wasteland universe through these.  However, none of it will spoil the book for you; it should enhance it.  I’m creating a new category for these shorts titled “Wastelander.”  This will keep it organized for current and future readers.  I’m redirecting most of my Wastelander universe content to this category for housekeeping purposes.

wiki page.pngMost of us know that only about ten percent of what we know about our universes, characters, and cultural histories make it into the book.  This will allow me to share those aspects, and give me a place to compile them into a wiki of sorts.

That’s pretty much all the gears that are in motion right now.  I’m sure some monkey wrenches will start raining down from the heavens soon.  No worries though!  I’m wearing a viking helmet/hardhat.  I hope some of you are excited to learn about the Wasteland!  I’m thrilled to share.  Until tomorrow, keep reading, keep writing, and as always – stay sharp!

Copyright Info (final)

Book, Blog, and Thanks

I wanted to take a day to address a couple really amazing things happening in my life right now.  My progress on Wastelander: The Drake Legacy and the continued growth of my blog page (thanks to viewers like you).

First off, a massive thank you to all of you who swing by my blog, like, leave comments, or just simply give it a read.  I started this page in June, and in a little more than a month, I’m happy to report almost 300 followers, with more than 100 views a day.  I don’t know if in blogging terms that’s a big deal or not, but to me it’s huge.  Especially in the span of month and some change.  I couldn’t be more appreciative.

thanks.jpgAn extra big thanks to Akaluv (A.M. Bradley), kernerangelina (Where Dragons Reside), Sheila M. Good (Cow Pasture Chronicles), Grandtrines (Still Another Writer’s Blog), ascreasey (Mind the Dog Writing Blog), and M.L.S.Weech for your consistent reading, words of encouragement, and sharing.  You all rock.

I know this list of contributors is incomplete, but I just snagged the top six comment givers (as per my stat page) to keep the list from getting out of control.  While I am highlighting these six, every single one of your individual likes and comments help keep me motivated to push out these daily posts.  Regardless, if you are writing or reading, the bloggers listed above are some great people to follow.

Now I’m going to point you all toward my upcoming book, Wastelander: The Drake Legacy, which I’ve added to my blog layout with a teaser.  There are still a lot of things to do, but the first draft is very close to being finished.  If you’ve been following my blog for a while (you’re awesome) you might be thinking, “But Corey, you posted here you were almost done!”  I hear you.  It’s a classic example of when the story outgrows your outline.

Wastelander Layout

The idea for this book came to me shortly after my son Thor was born.  He wasn’t gaining weight quickly enough so my wife and I split the day into two 12-hour shifts to ensure he got food whenever he needed it.  She took 6am-6pm and I took 6pm-6am.  It was during those quiet early morning hours of December 2015 when Drake came to me.  I grabbed a notebook and transcribed a rough outline.  Now about seven months later, Drake has taken me into parts of the wasteland I didn’t know existed and done things that flabbergast me as his creator.

I‘m currently talking to artists to create artwork for the cover.  Also there is the novella, The Wastelander Survival Guide, that will release with the book.  The novella is going to be heavily illustrated so I’m looking for an artist for this as well.  Fun times are being had.

That’s the update!  Tomorrow we will get back on track with writing tips and other tomfoolery.  Until then, keep reading, keep writing, and as always – stay sharp!

Copyright Info (final)

Wasteland Survival: Open

Be open to new possibilities.  Be open to new people.  Be open to new ways of thinking.  Be open to the idea you are unique and special and perfect, and just…sigh…a dreamer.  I remember when people used to say bullshit like that.  And I admit, I sort of believed it in my own half-assed, let’s get drunk and sing karaoke and talk about how to fix the world, kind of way.  That was before the bombs fell.  Things are different now.

wasteland.jpgNew possibilities have been replaced with uncertain futures.  New people replaced by potential murderers.  New ways of thinking replaced with new ways of getting yourself killed.  As for being a dreamer, the only dream worth having is the one you wake up and don’t find yourself in the wasteland anymore.

If you want to survive out here, open your mouth to breathe, open your eyes to see, open your ears to hear, but close off everything else – especially your heart.  You decide to open that fucker up and someone will put a bullet through it.

-Drake 

Written from the viewpoint of Drake, the protagonist in my soon to be first-drafted novel, Wastelander: The Drake Legacy.  He’s very interested in these “Daily Posts,” and might just show up again to share his wasteland wisdom.

Copyright Info (final)

My First Novel: The End is Near

Wastelander LayoutWell my fingers are weeping with joy as I am closing in on the end of my first novel, Wastelander: The Drake Legacy.  The book is a post-apocalyptic jaunt taking place 30 years after the nuclear fall of the United States.  A few more chapters and the first draft shall be complete! *maniacal laughter*

I‘m approaching the seven month mark and it looks like it will be living in 80,000 word land.  Depending on your level of writing badassery/experience you are either saying, “Damn, it took you long enough to write 80,000 words,” or “Damn, I wish I could write 80,000 words in seven months.”  Probably the former.

If you are in the latter category (I feel your pain), here are a few tips from an amateur cutting his teeth to help speed you along.

rewriting.jpgRewriting completely derailed my progress.  I probably spent at least a month of my time going back through what I had written, making modifications, and trying to ensure the story was chronological, plot holes were filled, and everything was hunky-dory.

The problem with this was the more I went back into the writing to fix it, the more issues I found and more time I spent living in the past.  Also, my addled brain had trouble transitioning back into writing the current story after spending so much time regurgitating what had already happened.  Re-writing is essential, but finishing the book first is more essential.

broken dreams.jpgOutside influences destroying my dreams.  Ambiguous sounding right?  My book is in a post-apocalyptic world and there is no shortage of television, movie, and books living within the same realm.  I would be watching or reading one of these mediums, see something that felt to similar to what I had written, fall to me knees and scream, “Now I have to re-write an entire chapter (or the whole book) or people are going to think I’m an unoriginal fool.”

Then I listened to a podcast on Writing Excuses about the The Problem of Originality.  While I will let you draw your own conclusions from these seasoned authors, my takeaway was, just write you own content and don’t stress what other people are doing.  Your writing style or viewpoint of a subject, even if the subject has been done many times, may be interesting enough to make you stand out.  Your own twist may be enough to take something unoriginal and make it something new and fresh.

lack of time.pngNot enough writing time, thus, all progress stopped.  During the seven months I’ve spent toiling away, my wife and I had a baby (check out his cuteness on my Instagram, and yes, his name is Thor), and I quit my job to be a stay at home dad.  Add to the onslaught the fact my wife is active duty military, so the bulk of childcare falls on my shoulders. Additionally, I work as a freelance copy editor and as the personal editor for another author.  Eventually, all of these excuses were enough to halt my progress on a few occasions.  There were weeks of time where no progress happened whatsoever.

The solution was to find ways to generate progress even if I couldn’t sit in front of the computer.  I’m talking about using my phone as a recorder while crapping on the toilet and talking through chapters.  Walking around with my son strapped to my chest and explaining to inanimate objects various scenes.  And orating while doing chores around the house.

This, from an outside perspective, made me look like a madman.  What was important is it kept my mind in the story.  It let me keep creating, even when I couldn’t sit down and devote keyboard time to it.  The result, was lots of audio clips (with interesting background noises) that allowed me to speed through chapters because I wasn’t creating, I was simply transcribing.

facts not opinions.jpgPutting too much stake in outside opinions during the writing progress.  That tasty moment when you break down, tell someone you are working on a book, and they say the most useless and counterproductive thing ever.  Or you decide to email someone a copy of your progress for feedback, only to have them not read it – or worse – tell you why it doesn’t work and provide no other form of feedback.  Then you are tempted to rewrite.

Asking someone to read and give their opinions on an unfinished piece of work is the same as asking someone to tell you how a sandwich tastes, but only giving them a single piece of bread to make that judgement.  Wait until you have finished your first draft, do a second pass, then send it to Beta Readers to give you feedback.  Then you can begin lamenting – but hey – at this point you’ve already finished the book so you won’t have to worry about rage quitting.

devil on the shoulder.jpgLastly, writing for other people and not writing my story.  My book is from the viewpoint of a broken vulgar man.  I’ve had one person tell me, “Only mysteries work written as first person narratives.” (False.  But let’s not get into it.)  I’ve had another person tell me, “Maybe tone down the language, it will turn off some readers.”  This is true.  It will turn off some readers.  But who cares?  I can’t imagine pristine vernacular is very important to the people who are surviving in my post-apocalyptic world.

Not every book is going to appeal to every reader.  Do we need to understand our genre and what the expectations are – absolutely.  Do we have to use a cookie cutter to replicate those successful books in our genre?  I don’t think so.  When I started listening to the naysayers and rethought my premise, my writing sputtered.  Once I shut out everything else and let my characters gain their voices, my writing increased in speed tenfold.

Good luck finishing your first books and crushing more of them!  Once I wrap up these last few chapters I will start posting some teasers from the book and share with you how crappy the whole rewrite, beta-reading, editing, agent finding (or not finding), and publishing (or self-publishing) thing goes.  Until tomorrow, keep reading, keep writing, and as always – stay sharp!

Copyright Info (final)

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