When I started the final chapter of Connect I ended up getting a bit playful and inserted an Easter egg sort of tribute. I dare say it was somewhat unintentional and was the kind of thing that came out organically in the writing. It is something that usually doesn’t survive a second or third draft, and I have toyed with removing it all together if I get to a more complete re write.
Now with the passing of Bill Paxton I feel like this is something to leave in place. At the very least I will leave it here:
“I don’t wanna be bold
I don’t wanna be cold
I don’t wanna grow old
I don’t wanna go home”
— Recorded Wisdom of Before, vol. 2, ch. 5
“Well Frack. At least we don’t have to worry about getting killed in an ambush.” Hud said as he stood next to the large armored carrier.
“Why’s that?” Vas asked from her gun turret atop the vehicle.
“Because we’re gonna die here of old age before we get near that pass. Right Appo?” Hud said looking up at his unit leader who was standing on the side board of the armored carrier. When there was no response from the dark skinned man, Hud repeated his question, “Am I right?”
Appo looked down at Hud and his face did not return Hud’s smile at all.
Hud ignored the look and asked, “I mean it’s better than being up front and having to take point on whatever assault is coming, right Appo?”
“Bah, we so badass that we should be up front. I’d clear a path with these babies.” Vas said patting the large guns of her turret.
“Well, why dontcha walk on up to the front then? Right Appo? I’d bet they’d put her in charge!” Hud laughed.
Appo looked back down at Hud and held the man in a hard stare. “Shut. Up.” He said in a low voice that was laced with violent promises.
“Hah ha! Appo ain’t having none of your shit today Hud.” Vas laughed from her turret.
“Well you can have my shit anytime you want Vas.” Hud called up to the woman, clutching his crotch for emphasis.
“Please. Not if you was the last dick in After.”
“Bah, that’s probably because you already have a dick!”
“If I did, it’d be bigger than that pimple you keep rubbing all night long.”
“Hud! Vas! Stow that shit.” Appo yelled. “Any more from you two and I’m gonna be in need of two new shooters!”
“Yes Sir.” Hud replied with mock sincerity and a lopsided smirk that had Appo fingering his rifle.
“Appo, come in.” A voice asked over the wireless that Appo had on his weapons harness.
“Appo here. Somebody wake you up Hicks?” He replied into the small device.
“Yeah, we’re all nodding off up here. How you all doing back there on the ass end?” Hicks replied.
“We good. Bored, but good. Just cleared that rock slide and can finally see this damned pass up ahead. You?”
“Hah! Yeah, we are getting ready to go through. Dathan is only letting one group through at a time. Right now we got about half the assault groups through and setting up on the other side.”
“Solid. This is taking too long for my liking. I’m feeling very exposed out here.”
“Yeah, tell me about it. I’m looking up at the walls of this pass and not liking it. Mern cleared it though, and so far so good.”
“Get through there fast then. I don’t want to be sitting here at night fall.”
Just then there was a loud grating rumble from behind them. Appo turned and looked back down the path behind them. He did not see any movement.
“What was that?” Hud asked.
“Don’t know.” Appo replied.
“Something up back there?” Hicks’ voice came over the wireless.
Just as Appo was about to reply there came another, louder version of the same sound.
“The slide!” Vas called as she spun her turret around to the back of the carrier. She cocked the large guns, loading the ammo belts for rapid firing.
Appo looked from Vas back to the rock slide behind them. At first it looked like just loose rocks that were tumbling down the side of the mountain and spilling into the road. As he watched, some of the larger ones started to go. Then the whole of the rock slide seemed to come undone and start falling down the mountain like a flood of stone. The sound of the rock fall became a roar. A cloud of dust poured out of the mountain side as the rocks tumbled down, obscuring the road behind them. It billowed out washed over them before the winds started to swirl it about. As the obscurity of the cloud began to fade and the roar of the avalanche turned to a low rumble, Appo felt himself relax.
“Well, I guess we ain’t goin’ back now, eh Appo?” Hud asked looking back at the rock slide that now appeared to be completely blocking the road.
Appo looked closer as the dust cloud continued to thin out. From inside the cloud he thought he saw movement. Secondary slides following the first downhill? He knew he was wrong when he saw two red embers glaring back at him from within the cloud. The low rumble grew as the massive armored nightmare rolled forward up the road; its red sensor eyes glowing with a blood promise of death and a blue-white light dancing along its weaponized arms.
Diana watched long enough to see Tank, Jr. light up on the small screen of the controller on her wrist. Tank had named this one, and it brought a smile to her lips now to see it on the screen. When she heard the rumble of the landslide she knew that it had freed itself from its hiding place. She had gotten the idea when she had seen some of the natural slides in the mountains along this road. She had not been sure if the mech would be okay under there, but everything she had seen of the massive machines said that even these large rocks would not hurt it. The trick had been finding a niche in the cliffs along the road that Tank Jr. could fit into and where she could pull down a slide on top of him. Once Ferrin had been able to blast down some of the rocks and cover its brother, all Diana needed was for these Raiders to see just another rockslide and move past it. The real Ferrin had taught her that most times people would miss what is right in front of them when they are looking too far ahead. He taught her to focus on what was around her at all times, and especially when stalking prey. That way she would not miss any signs of the trail or anything that would help her to bring her prey down. For her snare to work she needed the Raiders, especially that Dathan dork, to be looking at the obvious trap of the pass. If they did that, they would ride right past Tank Jr. After half of the day of watching them crawl through the pass one by one, the last bits of their army moved past the fake slide and they were all in her snare.
Diana shifted along the ridge high above the pass. She braced Thumper on the rocks in a position where she had a sight line down on both ends of the Raider’s column. When she put her hand on the grip of the rifle the goggles scrolled through a set of symbols just in the periphery of her vision. This time it settled on a small picture of a stinging flyer. These bullets were different than the long shooting ones that could see. Tank had told her that these ones could do very bad things when they were friends with things like the mechs. She lined up her shot and the goggles did their thing and the target appeared over the fifth truck from the back in the line of raiders. It was a large barrel of a truck and one she knew that it would be filled with the fuel that the trucks used. She let the world slow down and her vision zoomed into a very tight view of the truck, then adjusted her aim and squeezed the trigger.
“Let’s Rock!” Vas called and opened up with both guns in her turret. The barrels erupted as a storm of bullets fired out. The mechanical clattering of Vas’ guns and the tinkling rain of the spent shells drowned out the rumbling sound of the mech. Hud and Appo, along with several other Brothers, all followed Vas and opened up with their guns. The barrage ripped into the dust cloud that obscured the mech and peppered its armored hide.
Appo emptied the ammo clip in his rifle at the mech. As he started to reload he saw the blue glow getting brighter from the lower left weapons pod. He was not sure what that was, but knew it could not be good.
“Cover!” he screamed as the blue beams lanced out of the clearing dust cloud. The beams needled through the armored transports at the rear of the column and burned through their armor like it was not even there. Appo watched in horror as his Brothers melted inside the armored vehicles that had protected them through so many other fights. He dove away from the armored carrier he had been near. He leapt too far and had to catch himself before he tumbled over the edge and down several hundred meters to certain death. As he started to pull himself up, he heard the sounds of his Brothers’ guns go silent. All he heard now was the pulsing stitch of the mech’s energy weapon as it lazed back and forth slagging metal, stone, and flesh in its wake.
“Cover!” Appo yelled and Hud turned and ran.
After emptying his own rifle into the mech, Hud realized how useless that was. He had heard of these things before. He’d heard that if you saw one, you ran. You ran or you died. So he ran. He headed up the road away from the death machine that was rolling up hill, laying molten waste in its path. As he passed other trucks, and more Brothers, they called out to him. He ignored them and ran. Let them try and take that thing down; he wanted no part of it. One Brother with black markings all over his face grabbed him, screaming something about fighting. Hud shot him in the gut and ran on.
The hill was pretty steep here and after passing the fuel trucks Hud stopped to breath. His lungs and his legs felt like they were on fire and he thought for a minute he might black out. Dropping his rifle he put his hands on his knees and tried to catch his breath. He needed to chase back the black spots that were crowding his vision. The sounds of gunfire and the heavier cannons of the rear guard pounded away behind him. He could hear the Brothers around him yelling to one another. They wanted to go forward, but were blocked in by the other vehicles waiting to get through the pass. The road was just wide enough for two vehicles to be side by side and so they were, leaving no room for vehicles to get around one another. Even if the Brothers at the pass started going through as fast as they could, it would take too long for that movement to reach back down the line this far. That would be much longer than it would take that mech to wipe them out. It did not look good for the trucks, but Hud was on foot now. Once he caught his breath he would just keep headed up the hill away from rolling death back there.
“Brother!” A man next to the fuel truck called. “What the Frack’s going down back there?”
“Bad shit.” Hud called back and picked up his rifle. “We lost the wireless so I’m running up to the front to get everyone moving out.” He lied. “Be ready to move, we gotta get outta here!” He finished between deep breaths. That’s right; no one would give him shit if he had a reason to be getting away from that mech other than trying to stay alive.
He turned to start up the hill again when something slapped into the upper side of the fuel truck with an odd ‘Vip-Splat!’ kind of sound. Hud looked and saw a small greenish jelly blob on the metal of the large tank of fuel. As he looked closer there was a loud set of ‘Phumpt!’s that came from down the hill. Looking back and tracking that sound he saw several rockets fire up from out of the smoke that was part rock slide and part burning vehicles. The rockets cork-screwed straight up leaving intertwining smoke trails behind them. They seemed to have no direction but up; they were not arcing in a way that would drop them on the road or any targets that made sense to Hud.
“What the hells?” the Brother on the tanker called out.
As if in answer to him, Hud saw a small red light start to blink from within the green splat on the side of the tanker. It was muffled, but he thought he could also hear a pleasant chiming sound.
“Look! Look! Look!” the Brother called again and Hud looked up. The corkscrewing rockets all suddenly whipped around and turned over in midair. As the two men watched the rockets turned downward and fired off as one with new found purpose.
“Well frack me…” Hud sighed as the rockets all zipped down directly at him, the green splat, and several thousand loads of highly explosive fuel.
So there it is. A set of Colonial Marines who had no business in Dathan’s horde and for the time being reside in the world of After as an echo from an altogether different place.
R.I.P . Bill Paxton and all the memorable characters that you breathed life into over the years!
The door creaks open letting in a sliver of light from beyond. The light is then briefly disturbed and followed by a shuffling sound as something moves through the darkness. Opposite the door and along the path of the shuffling there is a loud thump, followed by a sharp scraping sound.
A sudden silence falls over the room and you know you have been heard.
Cautious footsteps echo in the darkness back towards the doorway and its small beam of light.
There is a click and light floods the room.
“Oh, hello there! You’re still here. That’s great!”
So yeah, I have had a lot going and coming back to to this space feels like walking into an old closed up room and finding a long lost friend there. In a good way, not a ‘It puts the lotion in the basket’ kind of way.
“What’s been going on?”, you ask?
Well let’s see. First, I started a new job last month and that has obvious impacts on my free time for the immediate future. I also started down the path of a Mac user at this new job which has been less than stellar fun. I am working it out but in a corporate environment with a Microsoft backend and little infrastructure in place to support Macs, the experience leaves a lot on the floor. Outside of that the kids started school in September which is its own special brand of chaos in my household. Throw in a few health issues while changing over benefits between jobs and Wa La! there goes a month or more in the blink of an eye.
So now back to writing and some updates that are more pertinent to this blog…
Since my new job involved more drive time and less time in the comforting embrace of the NY/NJ mass transit system I have started listening to Brandon Sanderson’s Write About Dragons lecture series on YouTube. Basically someone had a great idea to cast his lecture series on novel writing and the publishing industry. It is all on YouTube and even only a few lectures in I highly recommend it. I watched an episode (?) of it earlier this year on short stories which really drove home my ideas and plans for “47 Seconds”.
(well that was subtle)
This is still happening. I have been getting lots of communication from TANSTAAFL Press about their upcoming “Enter the Apocalypse” series. My short story “47 Seconds” is slated for book 3: “Enter the Rebirth”. Super excited about that as it is my first paid writing gig, outside of self published work.
In other news, I may have to make some changes to how “The Mason Chronicles” is published now that the Amazon KDP Police are giving me grief that it is available outside of Amazon. While almost all of meager sales are from Amazon, part of me wants to remove it from KDP for a variety of reasons now that it has probably run its course. So more to come on that when I make a decision.
That’s all for now. If you know of any other great resources that are in an audio format that I can listen to while driving hit me up in the comments!
I’ll try not to be as sparse.
I am running a quick promotion on Amazon and “Contact” will be absolutely free of charge through Saturday 9/24! Hit the link below and pick it up before the price goes back up.
I only ask that if you enjoyed it, please add a quick review with your thoughts on Amazon or Goodreads.
Get “Contact” for free here.
Thanks, and have a nice day!
Well, that took longer than expected!
As you know, (since I know you follow this little blog religiously) I have been doing some editing. I finished up Contact a few (ed. several) weeks ago. So when that was done I turned my sites on Connect. Same process. I used the Hemingway App which helps to focus on readability. I found it helpful to tighten things up a lot. New version is posted to Kindle and Smashwords will follow soon after I get the reformatted version through the Meatgrinder. (Seriously that is the name of Smashwords’ program that converts the files to ePub, Mobi etc.)
At this point though now I have to swear off of that stuff. You can easily turn into George Lucas and keep going back and revising, re-editing, r-writing. And we all know how that goes. I am better writer now than I was when I first typed out
No one knew what had happened to the world Before.
Only that what had been Before was now gone and all that was left was After.
Of course, none of that was Mason’s concern at this moment.
But that doesn’t mean I should be rewriting the book.
Time to move on to some new things. I will be posting a short story I wrote called “47 Seconds” in this space soon. After that I have work to do on Conflict, the Mason Chronicles Part III (Gasp! Spoiler alert!) and I think I have several other good short stories to be told. I want to branch out of the world of After, so expect to see some other places and faces.
Good advice, me thinks!
If you follow me on Twitter you may have noticed that I have doing some edits…
— Rich Jones (@IM_RichJones) February 10, 2016
Day 4 of Edits. The red is abating. Am able to sleep, but still the dreams come! #amwriting
— Rich Jones (@IM_RichJones) February 11, 2016
Day 5 of Edits. I think I am done. WooHoo! Wait…OMG…What have I done!? WHATHAVEIDONE!!? #amwriting
— Rich Jones (@IM_RichJones) February 12, 2016
Day 7 of edits. What is a Semi Colon? No seriously WTF is it!? WHATISIT? *Whimpers into glass of whiskey*
— Rich Jones (@IM_RichJones) February 15, 2016
So far I have been doing most of my writing without a good editor who doesn’t have the same name as I do. Editor’s cost money and so far I have been hedging on investing too much in this little hobby of mine.
I still don’t have an editor, but I found a nice option that I think helped me tune up the prose. I used the Hemingway Editor app in this revision. It’s a simple tool and it basically scans your text and flags various things for your consideration. Think of it like Spelling and Grammar check in Word, but where it focuses on things that make it hard to read. So it color codes sentences that may be Hard or Very Hard to read and it gives you counts on usage of Adverbs and Passive Voice. It also points out any place that there is a Simpler Alternative to what you wrote. By no means is it a replacement for a true editor, but I found it helped me zero in on sections of my writing that were not user friendly. A lot of my writing came up as Hard to read. Mostly it was because of complex sentences with lots of “and” usage that merged a few ideas together which in turn made the prose less concise and a lot less tight and readable. Kind of like that last sentence. See what I did there?
So I pushed the edited versions out and now new readers will hopefully find Contact much more enjoyable and easy to read. Also if you want to see the difference, I would suggest re-reading the first chapter. That had a lot of edits. Makes sense because it was the first one I wrote and I was trying to introduce a lot of complex ideas. As I made my way through the edits I clearly improved and found a lot less edits were required. So reading Chapter 1 – Tank, should you give you a good idea of the improvements.
No I don’t expect anyone to re read the book, this was more for new readers.
So there it is, I am working on Connect now and will let you all know how that goes.
“What shall a man profit if he gain the world and lose his soul?”
–Recorded Wisdom of Before, vol. 2, ch. 1
Picking up right after the thrilling events of Contact, we find Mason and his team of Contacts fractured. Mason, C’er, and Tank race towards a destination that they do not know while Diana sets out on her own path towards revenge. Dathan’s horde of Brothers continue their crusade across the wastelands of the world of After. They offer a simple choice to all those they encounter: Join them and rebuild world from the ashes, or be burned to nothing.
Connect continues the Chronicles of Mason in the world of After. It is a harsh and unforgiving place and Mason is its perfect paladin. He travels with a Prophet named C’er whose precognitive abilities are maddening, but somehow stifled by Mason’s presence. For this task he has made two contacts so far. First is a mutated giant named Tank who has exceptional abilities with all forms of tek, but otherwise is like a small child. Second was Diana, a teenage girl with natural affinity for all forms of weapons and combat. While Tank needs to bring the group someplace special, Diana is bent on revenge against Dathan and his army of Raiders who destroyed her village.
Meanwhile in a mysterious Facility from Before, a small group of people struggle to restore systems that they do not fully understand. Systems that may not want to be fully restored…
You can get Connect starting today at the following links:
Note – Not only can you get Connect in any eBook format (.epub, .pdf, mobi, etc.) at Smashwords, they will also distribute it to iBooks, Kobo, and several other eBook outlets over the next few days and weeks. So if you read your eBooks on a different platform than we see above, either grab it from Smashwords directly and upload it to your reader of choice, or just be patient.
If you have not read Contact, (gasp!) then please don’t be one of those people who starts on Part 2. You can get Contact here.
So please get you downloading on, and then be the first to post a review! Seriously, go post a review. Do it now. Well, actually read it first, and then post a review. But don’t forget the review part.
I have made my way through the submission process for Google Play Books and now Connect is available here. So if you are one of the Google type people or use an Android phone or Tablet this may be the place for you. Especially if you are a member of Google Rewards where you get small credits for answering like 2-3 question surveys from time to time. One or two of those and you can get Connect on Google’s dime and not your own!
If you use other eBook stores and still want Connect, that’s great and see this post.