War In Flesh teaser #WarInFlesh #InTheFlesh

In The Flesh Cover Art

In The Flesh Cover Art

In The Flesh Cover Art

Work on the sequel to In The Flesh is moving along. Yes it is slow going. I’m not one of those authors who can just crank out hundreds of pages without a thought. In point of fact I’m realizing that my creative process takes a lot of thought and a lot of processing. I have to think the whole thing though before I can begin to write it. I have ideas and then need to play with them to see how they fit into the narrative. Sometimes they don’t and then I have to, in the words of Stephen King, “kill my darlings.” I also have my bs detector set to 11 apparently, so a lot of things I like don’t fit well into the story line and I have to set them aside. I will share the following teaser of a part of a chapter that I’ve written for War In Flesh for your enjoyment but I make no promises that it will survive the multiple editing passes in this books future.

Nevertheless, please enjoy:

War In Flesh

Copyrighted material, all rights reserved

Thousands of miles north of Antarctica, beyond the shining jewel of Ce Acatl, just inland from the coast of the long narrow island that is all that’s left of what was once the northern continent a battered, almost broken antenna picked up the weak signal. Ancient relays came reluctantly to life and deep below the surface lights began to flicker as emergency batteries sacrificed what little power they had left.

On the surface a mere handful out of dozens of hidden hatches opened through the debris that buried them. Up through the hatches solar collector arrays slowly surfaced. It took days for them to collect enough power to begin the power up sequence in deeply buried scientific research stations.
Subterranean bunkers long buried by the movement of earth and nearly flooded by raising water tables slowly revealed themselves to sporadic lighting. Sump pumps groaned and kicked on draining stagnant water where it stood in deep pools on the floors of the lowest levels. The scent of mold filled the dead air.

Slowly, one by one in the high tech labs computers came online, waking from their sleep state as the power came back up. They had been kept alive in a low power state since the cataclysm so long ago. Fans started to move and with them slow air currents began to swirl through the underground complex of labs and offices. Vats filled with nutrients far past their best by dates began to grow bodies, following centuries old routines.

Some of the cylindrical vats failed to come online. In a sub-basement some of the computers shorted out, falling to a combination of moisture and nibbling rodents that had encroached over the long years. Others powered up and began growing things even before the injectors inserted the organic material intended to be grown in them. Somehow their sterile interiors had been breached by microorganisms during their long dormancy.

The laboratories were climate stable by virtue of being so far beneath the surface. In such a protected place the denizens of caves made their home, just as they would any natural cave system. Bats found their way into the upper level. Mountains of guano became nourishment for cockroaches and other crawling things. Heavy, sealed bulkhead doors kept larger things out of the lower levels but were little barrier to microorganisms.

Weeks passed while the sump pumps and fans worked. Often they had to shut down to conserve what little power the solar collectors could provide. Every system in the buried complex was designed to protect the computers first, even the electrical system. With the emergency batteries dead and not enough power coming from the arrays to recharge them, if that were even still possible, the other systems regularly idled so that what power there was could be diverted to the computers.

Eventually the pumps got the floors dry and the fans refreshed the air, opening vents to the surface when what humidity and moisture sensors that remained permitted.

In the cloning vats things grew.

This is but a snippet, gentle reader, that I hope you enjoy. I have all of the ideas in place now and just need to see how they will hang together. Things always change as I write them and what I envision when I start out is rarely what the final tale is. Characters will do what they will and I am often just telling their story they way they would have me tell it. K.

Jeremy Webster of F5 Reviews In The Flesh for The Geek Girl Project

Check out this review of my novel by Jeremy Webster, who reviews movies for F5 and books for The Geek Girl Project. Here’s an excerpt:

Much the way Stephen King’s The Gunslinger told a dark fantasy tale by dressing it up in spaghetti western characters, costumes, and settings, much of Zolnoski’s science fiction debut comes in a shell of adventure fantasy, particularly in early, action-heavy setpieces involving a long, arduous escape from enemy armies and pursuing predators dense in a seemingly endless forest region, and late in as the novel’s protagonists set to sea in a steampunk-style sailing vessel to contend with sea monsters on their way to their fabled destination.

But to assume the work to rest on something as mundane as rescuing the girl or saving the world from the latest watered down wannabe Sauron or Morgoth is not what Zolnoski had in mind. A reader and fan of classics of the science fiction genre for most of her life, Zolnoski carefully weaves in plot elements involving issues such as sociology, relative ethicality and morality, ecological stewardship, and even innate species memory.

As Zolnoski approaches the novel’s climax and conclusion, the work begins to take on thematic elements of it being merely a tiny, but crucial, moment in many such moments leading to these events throughout history, many of which were either pre-ordained to occur or optimized on a statistical plausibility of occurring. Such is the sort of storytelling arc conceptualization we saw with Asimov’s Seldon crisis concept throughout his Foundation series, and the millennia-long genetic breeding programs eventually resulting in Paul Atriedes in Frank Herbert’s Dune series. Zolnoski works with the conceptual brain food of the classics, while delivering it in a package of epic fantasy adventure.

Zolnoski’s prose is largely fluid and easily accessible and her characters are interesting and relatable. They tend to be somewhat archetypal of their various specialties in interest in skill, but this is hardly a detraction to the proceedings as the novel itself justifies why they function in this way. A strange way to relate this notion, I know, but readers will know exactly what I mean when they experience the novel themselves.

Check out the whole review at The Geek Girl Project.

Also the novel is available through iTunes as well as Amazon. Best way to find it on iTunes is to type in: Zolnoski.

Anthologies: The Golden Years Of Science Fiction Fifth Series

The Golden Years of Science Fiction Fifth Series

The Golden Years of Science Fiction Fifth Series

The Golden Years of Science Fiction Fifth Series

One thing I love about anthologies is that you can get a lot of stories from a variety of different authors for one price. This particular anthology; The Golden Years of Science Fiction Fifth Series, pulls short stories from some of the masters of science fiction from the years 1947 and 1948. This is a bit of a transitional period when science fiction was emerging from the golden age into what is called the diamond age.

Another nice thing about an anthology, because it is a collection of stories from a well-defined time period the reader can get a sense of what was popular in the cultural consciousness at that time. For example in this anthology there is a lot of experimentation with the unexpected and exploration of what it means to be human. The authors experiment with perception and reality, they play with scale both of space and time in these stories.

In an anthology a reader can find new favorites without committing to an entire novel. If there is an author the reader doesn’t care for, there are likely several others whom the reader will enjoy. At least that’s how it works for me. Also writing short stories is an art form all its own. To be concise and still set a tone, create a gripping narrative and manage to tell a compelling story in just a few brief pages is, to me, nothing short of amazing.

In fact if you ask me, Stephen King is best when writing short stories, especially science fiction short stories. I’m planning on doing a post about some of his work so I’ll say no more here.

To let you know how amazing this book is, it contains stories, excellent, engaging stories by some of the giants of science fiction. This book list, among other authors and stories: Zero Hour by Ray Bradbury, Dormant by A. E. Van Vogt, Thang by Martin Gardner (possibly my favorite of the book), also Tiny and the Monster by Theodore Sturgeon, Little Lost Robot by Isaac Asimov, The Fires Within by Arthur C. Clark, oh and Tomorrow’s Children by Poul Anderson.

Now I got this used at a second hand shop but look at all of those huge names in science fiction. Granted these authors and the other amazing authors in this anthology were struggling writers at the time. They didn’t become the grand masters until their stories had withstood the test of time.

Where else is a reader going to be able to sample such high quality science fiction at such a reasonable price? I have to say that you can find some amazing things in second hand bookstores; or, these days, eBay or Amazon. This one is not available in eBook format.

Revelations in Writing 3 Things I Realized

Revelations in Writing: The truth is I’ve always struggled with choosing topics and narrowing the scope of my ideas for any written work. All through grade school and even in college I had too many ideas for papers, essays and reports. It’s just something I’ve had to work with for as long as I’ve been writing.

As you know, gentle reader, I’ve been struggling with War In Flesh almost since the day I started it. I wrote a gorgeous outline. I had grand ideas about sending my characters to even stranger new lands than I had in the first book: In The Flesh. I dreamed up this entirely new monster to be an unwitting harbinger of destruction. It seemed like such a grand story to tell. I was very well pleased with this monster that has no place in the book.

Because I realized that therein lies the problem. It was too much. It was too grand and too far to go. The monster was fabulously, deliciously horrible but required far too much background and setup. The entire journey was too far, too much, too slow. The past few weeks I’ve been rethinking the whole thing. I scrapped the outline and went back to my original idea for a scene in the book. This is important too—always go with your gut.

When I was working on getting my engineering degree I learned that my first answer in Calculus, in Thermodynamics, in any of the higher math classes was far and away the correct one. Now I’ve had to learn that lesson about my writing too. Likely I’ll forget because I’m a bit stubborn and sometimes a complete doofus but eventually it’ll sink in.

After several weeks of thinking about the story and the characters, and beating myself up for not getting more actual writing done on the project I dreamed up a plotline that I believe will be just right. It has a lot more dramatic elements from the get-go, rather than a lot of travel and scene setting. I feel it is considerably more dynamic too. The proof of the pudding though is that last night, for the first time in weeks, I had to stop writing before I was ready to.

I look forward to picking up where I left off last night and writing even more. I know it seems odd, it seems actually counterintuitive but I know when what I’m writing is right because it feels right. When I’m writing something good it just flows from me. When I try to follow the “rules” of writing we were all taught in school it turns a joyous process into drudgery and I feel that comes through in the finished work.

Stephen King is right, at least in my experience, it has to flow organically. The plot has to go wherever it takes me, the characters, when I’m really writing them, tell me what they will do and sometimes it is nothing like what I intended them to do.

Also, I know I posted this yesterday but the print copies of my book are gorgeous. They make the weeks of formatting and cussing like a sailor all worth it. As always I will keep you updated and I do hope you enjoy reading what I’ve written. K.

A Day In The Life Of An Author

War In Flesh is moving along. A friend pointed me to a quote by Stephen King that has been really really encouraging. “Stopping a piece of work just because it’s hard, either emotionally or imaginatively is a bad idea. Sometimes you have to go on when you don’t feel like it and sometimes you’re doing good work even when it feels like all you’re managing to do is shovel sh*t from a sitting position.” Thank you Stephen King.

That is how War In Flesh has gone even when I know what I want to write. There are so many demands on my time that even when I sit down to write my mind is going in a thousand different directions. I have to blog for you gentle reader so you don’t forget me or think that I have forgotten you. I need to watch The Guyver II and review it by Thursday for The Geek Girl Project. I had to work in the garden this morning and run some errands. This afternoon I have to make three batches of brownies for the school and church. All of these things cycle in my mind while I try to focus on what I want to write about.

This is a shame because I love my characters and they have some wonderful conversations and growth ahead of them. Yet this is life and it is good. Busy, but so very good because consider the alternative for one moment. I do not understand people who have time to be bored. Last night I started the novel for a humor romance I intend to do. I named it Latent Heat for reasons that will become clear. I don’t intend for it to be erotica, that would be too embarrassing to write but I cannot say right now where that book will take me.

Also I’m having ideas for the space opera I want to write. I’m excited to get started on that but I need to finish War In Flesh first or I fear I will get two books half way done and never finish. Discipline is key here.

Also, it took most of the day yesterday but I found a blog that is willing to review In The Flesh and I just emailed them a review copy of it this morning. I’m at once nervous and excited. I hope they enjoy my book. Just as I hope you, gentle reader, enjoy what I write. K.