Archive for the ‘#transformationproject’ Tag

What Do I Miss?   6 comments

June 14, 2021

Write a top 10 list in the voice of a character. Is your character a tween writing in their diary? A person making a bucket list? How about someone listing their greatest fears? What does the list they make say about the character?

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The Setting & Purpose

Cai Delaney, the 30-year-old brother of Shane Delaney, an attorney and member of the Emmaus Civil Patrol, is writing it in the days before the end of Winter’s Reckoning, during a fierce blizzard when there was nothing to do but stock the fire and watch the snow fall outside the living room windows.

The town of Emmaus is cut off from the world by the bombs that destroyed life as they knew it. Now three months after the events in the first book in the series, there’s no television, no electricity, no central heating, no laundry, now hot water, limited groceries, and no communication with the outside world. The Delaney family is doing whatever they can to keep from going stir crazy, hoping against hope that they’ll survive to spring, when presumably things will get better. Gathered in the dining room with Cai are Jill Delaney, Click Michaels, Alicia Sanchez, Marnie Delaney, Shane Delaney, Alex Lufgren and Keri Delaney Lufgren. It was Alex’s turn to pick the game and topic. The Lufgrens are visiting (Keri is Cai & Shane’s sister and Jill’s daughter). Rob Delaney and Jazz Tully (household members) are on patrol. Shane, who was injured in the course of Winter’s Reckoning, was asleep in the living room, which is really the only warm room in the house with horizontal surfaces.

And, since Cai was shot at the end of A Death in Jericho, this list might be the last thing he ever writes. I make no promises whether he lives or dies.

Top 10 Things I Miss About the Old World

  1. Lazy Saturday Mornings hanging out in bed with Marnie, walking to downtown for croissants and coffee.

Cai and Marnie, newly-weds, have been insanely busy since the start of the apocalypse and the town hasn’t seen croissants or coffee in months. Cai is helping to keep the town going and Marnie is the only remaining town physician. They are doing what they must and are glad to do it, but Cai misses simpler times and the ordinary things of those days are now unattainable luxuries.

2. Baseball Games in the town stadium when most of the town is gathered and the summer afternoon hangs low.

It’s winter and without central heating, nobody ever feels really warm. So naturally, he’s dreaming of muggy summer afternoons. And, baseball — which plays in the background of sports discussions of this family.

3. Major League Baseball games in Kansas City or Denver.

Kansas City and Denver no longer exist. It’s possible major league baseball died with the United States of America. It’s normal to mourn the loss what used to be ordinary times.

4. Fishing at Jusilla’s Pond with Grandpa Jacob.

Jusilla’s Pond is still just down the road, but Jacob, the patriarch of the Delaney family, died in Gathering In. His grandson is missing him and probably concerned that Jusilla’s is getting pretty fished-out as going hungry is now one of the primary activities of the townspeople.

5. Ice cream on a hot summer’s night after a raucus song service at the church.

Church is important to the Delaneys, as is music. The church is still standing, but most people don’t have the energy for singing right now and it’s the coldest part of winter. And without electricity, who knows when they’ll see ice cream again.

6. The Walking Dead. Scratch that. I don’t like apocalyptic plots anymore now that I’m living one.

That should be self explanatory. Although Transformation Project is currently zombie-free, you never know what the capricious deity of their universe might throw at them. Cai misses things like television, but he’s afraid if he entertains zombies, they might materialize.

7. The feeling of my skin after a good long, hot shower.

They’re currently taking shared baths in inches of water heated on the coal stove. If you’ve ever been camping, when you get back to running water — showers are glorious, right? Well, imagine that feeling if you’d been three months without a shower.

8. The smell of freshly laundered clothes.

All the electronics that run washers and dryers fried in the EMP and without electricity…. When I was a kid, we lived in a no-water cabin in Anderson and trust me, the smell of freshly laundered clothes after months of handing clothes to air-out is indescribably beautiful.

9. Having access to the world through my smart phone.

Self-explanator. Cai was valedictorian of his high school class and graduated #4 and #11 from University of Kansas and law school. He loves knowledge and chafes under the restrictions of being limited to a physical book library.

10. A summer rain shower. Scratch that. After the nuclear fall-out, not sure I’ll ever feel comfortable in the rain again.

Self-explanatory.

Nostalgia, the stuff of younger years, and warmth capture his thoughts. An extremely smart, family-oriented guy, Cai’s thoughts are on those around him, but also on knowing what’s going on outside the “bubble” of their community. The last we see of him in the published books he is lying on the cold snow surrounded by a pool of blood.

Books On Sale   Leave a comment

Transformation Project Series is on sale for the launch of Winter’s Reckoning. The apocalypse continues as Shane confronts his past face-to-face.

Announcing “Winter’s Reckoning”   Leave a comment

The 6th book in Transformation Project is slated to launch August 11. Now on preorder with reduced pricing, it continues the story of the series with some truly heartwrenching scenes.

Emmaus faces a reckoning.

As deep winter descends, the fundamental transformation of the world they knew continues in the outside world. Meanwhile, Emmaus faces killing weather, dwindling resources, and the breakdown of community. Some cling to the ragged edge of hope and the demons of his past push Shane toward a long-resisted confrontation.

When death stalks the land, what choices do you have left?

Preorder Winter’s Reckoning

Full Cover Reveal   1 comment

Cover by Aurorawatcher Publications

Cover Reveal #4   Leave a comment

Image by Aurorawater Publications

Due out August 11, Winter’s Reckoning (Book 6 of Transformation Project) is now on preorder. Watch for the full cover reveal, blurb and discount pricing in the coming days.

Cover Reveal #3   1 comment

Produced by Aurorawatcher Publications

It’s official. Thanks to Covid19 turning life into a snorefest, I’m moving up the publication date of Winter’s Reckoning to August. It’s now on Preorder and comes out August 11.

Cover Reveal #2   1 comment

Winter’s Reckoning has a cover (Book 6 in Transformation Project) and here’s a teaser of what it looks like.

This cover provided by Aurorawatcher Publications

Cover Reveal for “Winter’s Reckoning”   1 comment

Coming This Fall. The story of Transformation Project continues in Book #6.

Lela Markham Books

When Pleasure Becomes Difficult   6 comments

We’ve talked about writer’s block. Have you ever gotten reader’s block?

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Defining Terms

Image result for image of reader's block

I’d never heard of “reader’s block” before the question was asked, so, definitions are in order:

  • Readers Block is a phenomenon where a person cannot proceed with a book. They are frequently distracted from the book or after flipping a page realize that they have been reading individual words mechanically without processing and understanding the meaning of the text in their mind. It has been named in sync with Writer’s Block, where a writer suddenly loses interest in writing.
  • Reader’s Block
  • This can happen because:
  • a) You have no interest in the book.
  • b) The book is itself bad and not written to generate interest.
  • c) You are too tired and exhausted to read pretty much anything.

What is Common To Humankind

The answer is – yes. Pretty much everything other human beings have suffered, I have suffered also. I’ve said I don’t believe in writer’s block, but that’s because I’ve never allowed myself to be mugged by it. That doesn’t mean I’ve never experienced the processes behind it, but that I’ve taken control of them and used them to my advantage.

Reader’s block, however ….

I don’t know when I first experienced it, but I do know when I became aware of it for the first time.

In high school, a friend gave me a copy of The Hobbit. For a fantasy and science fiction geek reader, it was right up my alley and I eagerly sat down to read it. I read the first page. I set it down. I didn’t pick it up again until college when someone was raving about The Hobbit and I felt like I couldn’t claim to be a fantasy geek if I didn’t read it. I picked it up and I read maybe a page and a half. I set it down. I didn’t pick it up again until my daughter was a new reader and she begged me to read the story to her.

I read 10 pages to her that night and then she had to go to bed and I finished the book before morning, then read it aloud to her over several nights following.

The Hobbit starts with an info-dump and I struggled to get past it to the meat the story. It kept boring me and that boredom “blocked” me from the story. I didn’t have a teacher (how I got through the info-dump that starts The Tale of Two Cities) or my dad (who expected me to read all the classics) pushing me to keep reading and so, I didn’t — until a seven-year-old pushed me to do it and then I got past the hard part and found a lovely story.

Too Rich for My Blood

But I’ve also blocked on Conceived in Liberty by Murray Rothbard because it just is so historically dense. It’s hard to read big chunks of it because it’s so rich. Reading is an intellectual exercise, and not always an easy one. I’ve never encountered a book that demanded more than my intellect could handle, but I’ve definitely been humbled by an occasional struggle with how smart a writer might be. I am still reading Conceived. It’s just that I’ve learned to take it in small bites.

Life Happens While You’re Reading a Book

When my son was a baby and my daughter was an elementary schooler, time for reading became the constraint. Yeah, there were the frequent “Mommy, will you read this book for me?” moments, but the times to sit down and read a book for pleasure just wasn’t happening. There was about five years there when reading for pleasure was a forlorn hope and writing was squeezed into minutes between life events. I totally don’t regret not having much time to read during those years.

Try a New Genre

Sometimes there’s no explanation but that you’re tired of reading. Frankly, I’d been in a reading slump for a while this summer. I had several books to read and I wasn’t reading any of them. I felt badly about not cracking the spine on Brandon Sanderson’s Oathbringer after I’d longed to read it for over a year. Then a friend suggested something totally outside of my usual interest – a romance. I do occasionally enjoy mysteries or thrillers that have romantic elements, but pure romance where the focus is man meets woman and they fall in love, usually after disliking each other for a while — naw, not my style. I am a skeptic of Happily Ever After, especially for people who have nothing in common but sexual desire. But my friend suggested I read Ghosted because it involves a second-chance romance between a recovering alcoholic and his baby mama who is deeply angry at him. I could feel myself yawning even as I opened the Kindle file, but I truly enjoyed the story — probably because it was more true-to-life than most romances — and that got me back reading other books (almost entirely non-romances — still haven’t changed my opinion on the genre). I realized something from my foray into this genre. Several of the reviews for Ghosted mentioned it was long. For me 450 pages is nothing. I’m a fat fantasy reader. I guess that’s pretty long for a romance (which might be why I keep thinking “nobody falls in love that quickly”). But — wait, maybe that was why I was in a reading slump. Fat fantasies are a commitment. You start it and it will consumer your evenings for a while – days, sometimes weeks. And maybe that’s why I couldn’t start it. I felt overwhelmed by the enormity of the task. After I finished Ghosted, I still wasn’t ready to read Oathbringer.

Revisit an Old Favorite

Rereading an old favorite is one of the best ways to cure the book blahs. When you revisit an old favorite, you remember why you love to read, how a fictional character could resonate so deeply with you, what ingenious word-play exists in the world, and what diabolical drama a writer is capable of concocting. You can reignite your love of reading. After Ghosted got me reading again, I went through several old favorites that have been sitting on my shelves for years and thoroughly enjoyed myself. I then cracked open Oathbringer and finished it in about 10 days.

Downside

The downside of igniting your love of reading when you’re a writer is that you may be inspired to write your next novel. Or is that an upside? Hmmm?

“Gathering In” Excerpt #2   Leave a comment

The night of the pulse, Geo Tully and Wes Marcus were in the basement of Wes’ aunt’s home that had become their safehouse.

Wes, a wiry com tech barely old enough to shave regularly, held up a photo album that showed a man standing in front of the post-World War 2 bungalow with a shovel. The front door stood behind him, but not the view of the house that Geo recognized. The articulated arm of a backhoe could be seen on the edge of the frame.

“The porch is an addition,” Geo acknowledged.

A Navy Seal from Kansas, Geo towered over his Seattle-raised compatriot. They’d thrown in together when Bunnell & Wilson’s Knights Industry division seized control of the city by murdering military personnel. Wes’ uncle Fred had been an urban survivalist before he died a few years ago and his aunt Connie had died in Portland’s bomb attack. Their house had been a safe haven for two fugitives, so far.

“And look at how deep the hole is behind him.”

Geo turned to the front wall of the basement. The shelves had kept him from investigating here. They appeared to be attached to the wall, but when he ran his hand along the back edge of the shelving unit, he found a throw-bolt. He pulled it down and tugged on the shelves, swinging them out away from the wall. Hinged on the far side, they glided on hidden casters. Behind the shelves an open space stretched the length of the porch. Geo tried the light on the ceiling, but it didn’t turn on. He used the flashlight on his phone to illuminate the small room. A ham radio sat at one end, covered with plastic, while storage boxes filled the other end.

“I knew that tower had to still have a use.” Wes squatted down to look under the table the radio sat on. As an Army communication tech, he knew radios. “He left it disconnected. It’ll take me a moment.”

The light bulb in the main basement flared and popped off. Wes smacked his head on the underside of the table. Geo’s phone light went out.

“What’s that smell?” Wes stood, sniffing.

“My phone just fried, I think.”

They fumbled around in the dark to find the stairs and make their way to the kitchen. Duke, the Labrador retriever, stood in the living room, staring at the window and whining.

Geo peeked out the curtains as the neighbors came out on their porch, staring around.

“You smell that?” Wes asked. “I’m going to go check for fire.”

“Do you hear that?”

Duke whined louder. Raucous voices filtered in through the glass. Geo watched as the neighbors ran off their porch. Wes swept the front door open.

“What the hell?” Geo growled.

“They need help.” Wes ran into the street.

“Stay, Duke,” Geo ordered and followed his stupid partner into the street, where the neighbors could get a full view of their high-and-tights. They’d agreed they wouldn’t do that, but Wes had forced them all in. A municipal bus sat at the corner, smoke pouring out of its windows as the people inside tried to get out, screaming, kicking, punching at the glass, but when one window shattered, it just fed the fire that doomed them.

Wes ran to the rear passenger door and tried to pull it open, convulsing and chewing his tongue, smoke rising from his body.

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