December 21, 2012

Deleted Scene : Zoe and Jake - The saga continues...

This is a scene I removed after our first read through because I wanted Jake and Zoe's relationship to progress a bit differently. I really liked it though and didn't want to get rid of it completely, so here it is!  

Deleted Scene: Zoe and Jake's conversation by the fire after she recovers from the poisoning. 
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
   “Are you okay?” Jake asked. His voice was low and resonated deep inside me someplace, stirring a memory I couldn't quite remember.
“Yeah,” I said, leaning my head back on the couch. “I'm a mess, but we all know that already. Now we can add drunk to the mix. Yippee.” I raised my arms and let my fingers flit in the air emphatically before letting them drop back down again.
Jake smirked and walked towards me from his leaning stance in the doorway. His forearms flexed as he pushed up the green sleeves of the thermal shirt I'd watched him remove earlier at the gym.
Oh my God, Harper's right. I did take every opportunity possible to stare at Jake. Everything about Jake exuded masculinity. I couldn't look away as he walked toward me--his muscular frame, contemplative topaz eyes, and prowling gait made it impossible. I suddenly felt anxious and....too warm.
Motioning to the couch, he asked to sit. 

“Of course," I chirped a little too high for my liking. I looked down at the Husky at my feet and busied myself petting Cooper. I was distracted every time I looked at Jake, and I needed to think of what to say next. I needed to figure out what it was I really wanted to say to him. Agh! I groaned inwardly. There were too many questions...too many thoughts, and I had no clue where to start.
“We're never really been in a room....alone," I said stupidly. "I mean, I feel like there's so much to say to you, but I'm not sure where to start." I glanced over at my half empty beverage sitting beside me. "Or ir now's the best time to say them,” I laughed, trying to play off my discomfort.
“Maybe nothing needs to be said,” Jake offered, but I wasn't surprised. He was a man of few words, that was one thing I did know about him. 

Jake leaned forward and rested his elbows on his knees. Cooper stood and meandered over to him, placing his head in his master's calloused hands.
“There are things that need to be said," I answered adamantly. "I'm leaving soon, and I need to say things before-”
“Still?” He sounded surprised. After everything that'd happened, I couldn't blame him for his confusion.
I nodded. “Let's not go back and forth with the whys." I glanced over at him for the first time since he'd sat down. "I know you don't understand, but I have to do it."

Jake seemed unfazed by my words as he stared into the fire. 
Unbidden, is disapproval bothered me, and I felt the need to defend myself. "I'm one person, I'll be fine," I said with false confidence. "It's easier to take care of one person instead of seven, right? Besides, I told my brother and Dani about the Colony, we're not meeting there. You don't have to worry about that.”
His jaw tensed but he didn't move otherwise. “What does Harper think about all this?” he asked severely. His eyes scanned toward me, gleaming in the light of the fire. His stare heated my insides.
“Harper doesn't have a say," I bit out. "No one does. Why does everyone keep asking that? I'm a grown woman. I may not have any brute strength, but I'd like to think I'm smart enough to hide and survive for a few days. It's not like I'm going out there completely unarmed.” I glared at him, “It's my decision and I really don't understand why everyone seems to think they can change my mind. It makes me want to go all the more,” I admitted.
Narrowing his eyes, he looked away, searching the room for answers he wouldn't find.
“Plus, since the transfusion-”
“You don't know that'll work,” he said breathily.
I threw my hands up in exasperation. “You're right, but it might. I recovered from near death in three days, Jake. What makes my surviving out there alone so impossible?” 

Jake didn't have answer. His pained expression told me as much. Interrupting his thoughts before I lost my nerve, I continued,“You saved my life, again, Jake.” I knew I was pointing out the obvious, but he wouldn't talk to me about it.
A fierceness enlivened his eyes. “Don't! I brought that crazy bitch here. It's my fault she-”
“Stop blaming yourself for everything!” I snapped back at him and took a deep breath. “Jake, you can't read minds like I can." My voice was weary. "Do you know how stupid I feel not to have known what was coming? Not to have known how horrible she really was? I had a feeling she was crazy, and I ignored it because I'm too stubborn not to. I didn't want to deal with whatever the hell's happening to me so I pretended it was all my imagination. Look where it got me." I paused, "It's not because of you.”
remained silent, brooding beside me. 
“You need to let go of this whole bodyguard thing, Jake. You can't protect people all the time. You can't protect me forever. You've already saved my life, twice."
We sat in silence a while longer before I realized this was the perfect time to say everything I'd wanted to spit out since the first time we'd met. I cleared my throat and started hesitantly. "I'm extremely grateful that you saved me, don't get me wrong...but, I'm not your responsibility. Clara isn't your responsibility. Your sister made her own-”
“Please don't.” His eyes closed as he tried to reign in his control.
In the dimming blaze of the fire, his jaws moved in the shadows, clinching in determination. “What are you thinking?” I asked. I heard the plea in my voice and felt myself unraveling like spool of unkempt yarn, frayed and wild. I wanted to know more about the man sitting beside me than I'd ever wanted to know about anyone.
“Nothing.” Jake stood and walked over to the mantel. Resting his forearm against the brick, he leaned in.
My brow furrowed in frustration. There was only one way to get any answers from him. Focusing on Jake, I probed and prodded for a way into his mind. He was concentrating on keeping me out, something I'd grown used to. But I pushed through his dense barrier of secrecy and seclusion, and I felt a tug on my consciousness. I grasped at it. Willing myself into his mind, I felt a rush of humility and restraint engulf my senses, and my chest grew tight and heavy.
Images immediately followed, flooding my head and comprised of feelings and emotions so convoluted I could barely discern them. They were spiraling around in my mind like a whirlwind of past and present.
My sheet-clad form lying in bed, stretching and smiling as I spoke to Harper standing beside my bed. I was completely oblivious to Jake's afflicted and envious thoughts as he stood at the doorway. The emotion generating from him was a numbing disappointment. Jake was disappointed in himself. He didn't want to care.

I could vaguely feel the heat of Jake's eyes on me, but he said nothing. I continued concentrating.

Clara's delicate hands were on his biceps, inviting him to follow her somewhere. A look of injury plagued her expression when he pulled away with the shake of his head. His distrust in her was apparent, but unable bring himself to send her away.

I was suddenly there in his mind. My crumpled, unconscious body heaved on the floor. My skin was pallid and a sweaty film covered my body. Jake bent down to pick me up, and a venomous blame consumed him, mixed with the acrid smell of vomit. “Find her before I do!” He yelled to someone else in the room as he lifted my limp body up into his arms.

Jake's arm was lying beside mine, completely still. Blood drained from a rubber tube connected to his vein, into a clear, plastic sack. The room was silent and sterile. Harper's grievous, shadowed eyes looked down on me, on Jake. Although Jake's face was a controlled mask of certainty, inwardly he pleaded for the transfusion to work. My heart was no longer beating, and a sense of helplessness and determination battled one another as he grasped for a single spark of hope.

Harper laughed and pulled on my hair. My eyes followed him, glinting in excitement and playfulness as we walked away.

From my peripherals, I saw Jake's eyebrows raise in curiosity, but I ignored him.

Jake's arms around me, the scent of lemons rushed toward him as my braided hair clung to his stubbled face. He was content, and welcomed the amusement and diversion our training exercise brought. I twist and turn in his arms, and a virile lust excited him as our bodies rubbed against one another.

His held his red stained hands up in disbelief and fear. Blood saturated his clothes and a limp body lay in his lap. I felt his grief so strong it shredded our insides.

“I didn't know,” I said absently, pushing his memories. There were too many of them, and they overwhelmed me.
“Didn't know what?” he asked, watching me closely.
“Any of it,” I said simply. Warm tears gathered in the corners of my eyes, teetering on their rims. Unable to distance myself from his thoughts, Jake's agony filled my head and heart. It was too heavy to swallow.
As my words registered on his face, a fleeting look of recognition and dejection fell upon his features. “Why would you?” he said, walking towards the window. Ominous darkness and shadows rustled beyond it.
I knew our conversation was over. Jake had closed down, and I was suddenly too exhausted and surprised by what I'd seen in his thoughts to argue with him about anything else.
Grabbing my clothes, I stumbled my way towards to door. I was tired and clinging to the last of my buzz as I looked back at him, still leaning against the fireplace. 
“Goodnight,” I said and rounded the corner, making my way down the hall to my sleeping quarters.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 I like this scene because the reader sees how Jake view's Zoe. This excerpt give the reader a better glimpse into Jake's mind, which isn't something we really get to see much. Although a similar scene is in the book, this one is a little more...desperate, and I didn't want to get rid of it completely. 

(Please note this excerpt is NOT edited because it was removed from the manuscript early on. It is a raw draft of my original version of the chapter this was extracted from. Please don't expect a polished work of art)

December 6, 2012

December 3, 2012

Whirlwind Finish: Wrapping Up Our FIRST Indie Book...

We have a RELEASE DATE: December 14, 2012

Yeah...we're just as excited as Sam and Dean...

We have a FINAL COVER:

We (almost) have ARCs!!!

Book one of The Ending Series, After The Ending, is almost out there for purchase. We've decided to use Amazon's KDP Select, making the ebook exclusive to for the first ninety days. It will also be available through Amazon and other major booksellers (i.e., Barnes and Noble) in paperback and hardcover (which is what we're REALLY excited to get our hands on).

As we reach the final stretch of independently publishing our first book, we felt we needed to express how much we truly respect and admire all of the indie authors who have come before us...and those who are going through the same thing as us RIGHT NOW. It's taken sweat, tears, sleepless nights, troubled dreams, oodles of anxiety, and more excitement and fulfillment than we ever thought possible.

In less than two weeks, our baby (in the form of a post-apocalyptic novel) will finally be stepping out into the world. Go get 'em, Kid.

October 23, 2012

Alpha Male Blog Hop THANKS

We'd like to offer up a huge THANK YOU to everyone who participated in the Alpha Male Blog Hop on this here little blog.

An extra ginormous THANK YOU goes to Carrie Ann for arranging the grand affair.

And, last, but not least, CONGRATS to Misha, the winner of After The Ending's giveaway for a $10 amazon gift card. Yipeee!

October 19, 2012

The Alpha Male Blog Hop

Lindsey Fairleigh here, just waiting for my interview subject, Jason Cartwright. The ex-Green Beret kindly (okay, maybe "kindly" is bit of an exaggeration) agreed to have a little chat with me on the topic of ALPHA MALEs. How delicious. Ah...I think I hear him in the hallway...
As Jason walks in, I have a hard time not gawking. I always forget how simply LARGE he is. At 6'4" and just shy of 250, the man is a tall, hard, and surprisingly stealthy killing machine. To top it off, his chiseled face would make any ancient Greek statue jealous. And then there are his eyes...a blue to rival the Caribbean Sea. For a minute, I forget why I'm here...wasn't I going to...

JASON: Ms. Fairleigh. Oh, right, the interview. I watch Jason fold himself to sit on the log opposite mine. A pleasantly roaring campfire separates us, which is just fine with me...the man is INTIMIDATING as hell.

ME: Hello's nice to see you again. His lips twitch, but he says nothing. So, thanks for agreeing to this interview...I know you don't have a lot of free time these days.

JASON: Not a problem--besides, I owe you.

ME: What are you-

JASON: You know exactly what I'm talking about. His eyes flick to the petite red-haired woman combing a paint horse's mane. Ah, yes...Dani. I may have written them in a virus-ravaged world, but at least they had each other.

ME: Right. So, I'm actually here to talk to you about your role within your group of survivors. How would you describe your role?

JASON: His eyes narrow in thought for a few seconds. I'm the guy who keeps everyone out of the huge piles of shit you've so generously placed around us. Ah, how very Jason-y of him.

ME: Yes, well, I aim to please. Jason snorts but says nothing. Would you characterize yourself as an Alpha Male?

JASON: Like a gorilla with a dozen women just waiting for me to-

ME: No! I mean, that's not exactly the type of Alpha Male I was talking about...exactly. He chuckles and the sound electrifies the hair on the back of my neck. According to the Oxford Dictionary, an Alpha Male is a man who assumes a dominant or domineering role in social or professional situations. Do you see yourself this way?

JASON: That's a stupid question.

ME: I lean closer. Why?

JASON: Because you already know the answer. You're wasting my time. His eyes flick back over to the little red-haired woman. She's moved on the the horses tail. 

ME: Women love Alpha Males. There are workshops...some call them "boot camps"...where men can learn how to be more "Alpha". What do you think about that? Worried about the competition. Jason barks a laugh, and I shift back on my log.

JASON: What competition?

ME:, if you weren't here, who-

JASON: I'm bored with this conversation and I have shit to do. He stands and nods his head at me. Ms. Fairleigh. He walks off in the direction of the small woman and her horse. As he draws closer to her, I can't help but notice the way his posture changes, softening, becoming more welcoming. I shake my head and stand to leave.

 Jason Cartwright is a character in AFTER THE ENDING, book one of THE ENDING SERIES, to be released in late December. The story follows two young women as they attempt to survive a viral apocalypse and find their ways to each other across the desolate and violent United States. It is a story of survival, friendship, hope, and love...along with awesome ass-kicking and adventure. An excerpt of the first six chapters can be found at our website

REMEMBER...across the whole BLOG HOP there are three ginormous GRAND PRIZES. To enter the contest, you must comment on participating blog posts and include your email address in the comment.

1st Grand Prize: A Kindle Fire or Nook Tablet
2nd Grand Prize: A $130 Amazon or B&N Gift Card
3rd Grand Prize: The following Swag Pack!

PLUS...we're doing our own little giveaway on this blog...YAY! To be entered in the running for a $10 gift card, use the fancy-pants device below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

October 16, 2012

After The Ending is Participating in the Alpha Male Blog Hop!

Because we love to read as much as we love to write, and pretty much every book that captures out heart includes a captivating, infuriating, and domineering man, we decided to participate in the ALPHA MALE BLOG HOP. It starts this Friday and features the participation of HUNDREDS of blogs...each talking about drool-worthy alpha males. Here, we'll be posting a brand new interview with one of the alphas from After the Ending, book one of The Ending Series.

Here's some info about the blog hop:

What is your favorite thing about Alpha Heroes? Well, we authors are ready to share our favorite Alpha Males, our favorite things about them, and everything sexy and heated about those Alpha Males you can think of. *wink* Starting on Friday and ending on Oct 22nd, over 200 Authors and Bloggers will share their favorite things about those sexy men we know and love.

And while we do that, we are EACH doing a giveaway. Yep. There will be over 200 giveaways on each blog hosted by that Author or Blogger.

But that's not all....

We have THREE grand prizes. You as a reader can go to EACH blog and comment with your email address and be entered to win. Yep, you can enter over 200 times!

Now what are those prizes?

1st Grand Prize: A Kindle Fire or Nook Tablet
2nd Grand Prize: A $130 Amazon or B&N Gift Card
3rd Grand Prize: The following Swag Pack!

October 5, 2012

Second Book of The Ending Series is OUTLINED!

To get BOOK TWO started with a bang, we (the Lindseys) have taken a mini writing retreat. We drove several hours north of Napa and are currently hunkered over our laptops, typing away. As of fifteen minutes ago, the OUTLINE is absolutely, totally, and amazingly COMPLETE! We are so FREAKING excited! 

Engagement Phase? :  wedding Funny Pictures Cat Is Excited About Ribbons

Like, really, really, REALLY excited!

And we can't believe how many extra crazy awesome neato plot twists and sneaky things have developed for this next book...not to mention the third and fourth volumes of THE ENDING SERIES. Yippeeeeee! it's time to start chapter one. OMG! OMG! OMG! 

October 3, 2012

COVER REVEAL: After The Ending, book one of The Ending Series

After The Ending is in the final stages of editing, revising, and polishing, which's time to reveal the COVER!!! So, here it is:

We love it, and we hope you do too! Let us know what you think :)

You can find more goodies and news related to The Ending Series here.

September 30, 2012

SURVIVORS OF THE ENDING: How Big Of A Backyard Do You Need To Live Off Of The Land?

OK, I couldn't resist sharing this. If Dani, Zoe, and their assorted companions wanted to settle down somewhere permanent and survive sans-scavenging, here's what they'd need (per four people).

how big a backyard would you need to live off the land?

I stumbled upon this nifty infographic at but it originally came from Coolness!

September 7, 2012


The official website for The Ending Series is up...check it out here:

Many of the old goodies that had previously been on this blog are now comfortably situating themselves in at the shiny new website. There you'll find:

  • The first SIX chapters of After The Ending!!!
  • Info about the characters and authors
  • Extra goodies like the Survival Guide and deleted scenes
  • News and updates such as the soon-to-be announced release date of the first book, After The Ending

September 2, 2012

Five Sentence Fiction - Distance

Raven-black hair whipped around her hungry, teal eyes waiting desperately for the truth, but my lips were unmoving.
Unbidden tears crept down her milky cheeks and I yearned to wipe them away, but my arms hesitated at my sides.
“Merry Christmas,” she whispered, my chest burning in wanting as she turned and walked away.
Imagining my emptiness without her, torment tightened around my heart, squeezing it like rusted barbed wire.
“Damnit!” I cursed as I let her go.

Visit Lillie McFerran's Five Sentence Fiction Site at

August 31, 2012

Dani's Ultimate Post-Apocalyptic Shopping Guide

Hey there survivors! So, I know you've been scrounging around in gross places looking for the things you need, but I'm here to help you find everything in slightly...cleaner...less rotten corpse-filled...safer places. I know, I're thinking, "What places aren't corpse-filled these days?" I'm totally right, huh? I knew it! Anyway, check out my recs for finding the following won't be disappointed!

Shoes and Clothing
Note to survivors: Keep in mind that you won't really be needing 5" stiletto boots and Armani dress shoes, guys and gals. Think practical. And comfortable. And durable. And absolutely NO crocks. That's just gross.


  • Outdoor recreation/sporting goods stores - Seriously. Everything you need in one spot, and nobody thought about it while they were vomiting to death.
  • Department stores - Avoid actually going into the interior, enclosed parts of me. Just stick to the satellite department stores. It's WAY too easy to get trapped by Crazies without an exit in site.
  • Big value stores (i.e., Kmart, Walmart, Target) - Totally picked over. I kid you not, this is where EVERYONE went when they were running out of, well, everything.
  • Club stores (i.e., Costco) - Ditto. Besides, the selection is limited, unless you need a million fleece vests and pairs of fake UGGs.

Note to survivors: The same rules of food sanitation that applied before the virus wiped out most folks apply now. Chicken that hasn't been refrigerated for 5 days is going to kill you just as dead as it would have before the virus. Plus, now there aren't any hospitals to pump your stomach and fill you with anti-whatevers. Eat smart or die dumb!

  • Hotels - I cannot recommend this enough. They have huge stores of packaged food for the mini bars. 
  • Small town grocery stores - Pretty much everyone died before they could ransack the places. Go for it!
  • Military bases - Tons of food that lasts forever, but WATCH OUT for soldiers-gone-crazy. Seriously. If you don't believe me, ask Zoe. 
  • Club stores (i.e., Costco) - Think about's pretty much a warehouse where regular people can buy things. CAUTION: You may be required to climb pretty high up on the shelves to get what you need. Also, if you have a gas mask, wear smells nasty in there. All that meat and frozen food...
  • Hiking and Outdoor equipment stores - Freeze dried food...YAY! Way healthy and doesn't rot or require refrigeration! 
  • Big town grocery stores - Picked over. Too many people. BIG waste of time!
  • Value stores (i.e., Wallmart, Kmart, etc.) - See above under Shoes and Clothes.

Medicine & First Aide
Note to survivors: Pretty much anywhere that fills prescriptions but isn't an actual pharmacy has a fairly good supply of drugs and bandages. 

  • Club stores (i.e., Costco) - Way awesome find. Plus, you won't have to go searching for anymore for, well, ever. 
  • Huge houses - More often than not, they've got fully stocked medicine cabinets. And cupboards. And drawers. And...
  • Hospitals and Doctor's offices - Totally disgusting. Don't even think about it.
  • Pharmacies - Everyone and their brother and their uncle and their second cousin and their...

Fun Stuff
Note to survivors: It can get boring out there without all the TV, internet, and video games you're used to. Unless you've got the greatest solar and wind array ever, or a gazillion generators and gallons upon gallons of fuel, you're going to need to figure out some more energy efficient ways to have fun. Think about what people did 100 years ago to have fun? No? Nothing? Okay...go read Zoe's recs for Keeping Busy (Outdoors).

  • Bookstores - You can get the latest (and unfortunately last) Sookie Stackhouse book AND a helpful guide to foraging edible plants. How cool is that!?
  • Amazon warehouse - Seriously, if you're lucky enough to be near one and you pass it up, your and idiot. Or a Crazy. Just saying...
  • Other people's houses - Sometimes snooping is fun and fulfilling all by itself! You never know what you might find! Downside: You never know what you might find.
  • Electronics stores - Really? What are you going to use it for? How are you going to power it? Right? Right.
  • Value stores - Didn't I already cover this like twelve times?


August 20, 2012

Keeping Busy (Indoors) - After the Ending

How to keep yourself busy after the apocalypse...urban style.

1.  Throw stuff off the roof
2.  Go cow tipping
3.  Make a fort out of blankets and couch cushions
4.  Play dress-up and talk with a British accent
5.  Draw on the walls with Crayons like you always wanted to
6.  Build a bunker under your house
7.  Read all the books you kept putting off
8.  Paint with food coloring
9.  Spit polish the hardwood floor
10.Sing Celine Dion in the shower (don't deny it)
11.Convert your attic to a prison cell
12.Hunt for dust bunnies
13.Inventory your house's nooks and crannies in case you're ever in a pinch
14.Raid your neighbor's house
15.Climb the walls
16.Lock yourself in the closet
17.Come out of the closet
18.Practice yodeling in the bathroom

August 14, 2012

UPDATE: Revised First Chapters AND a Brand New Chapter

We're nearing the end of our first full (for the most part) manuscript revisions and have posted chapters 1-6 for your end-of-the-world reading enjoyment. The first half of the book experienced (was subjected to, tortured by, and eventually succumbed to our every whim...aka beat the bejeesus out of our brains) a ginormous overhaul and is really quite shiny and new.

We love it, Dani and Zoe are extremely happy (aside from the part where pretty much everyone they know dies...that stays the same and, let's be honest, makes them sad), and we hope you like the changes too. 

Oh, and Chapter 1 is BRAND SPANKING NEW...*Squeal*

July 17, 2012

Eight-Step Program or How To Deal With Having An Ability

Discovering (or even suspecting) that you have an extraordinary, virus-initiated Ability can be quite a shock. Remember, you're not the only one effected by this development. As much as it impacts you, you're ability has an effects the people who care about you. So, whether you can read minds, sense emotions, or manipulate other people's brain chemistry, it's important to have a plan for accepting your fate and telling your loved ones about your brand spanking new post-apocalyptic Ability.

Here's the official Ending Survival Guide recommended eight-step program to accepting and controlling your Ability:

1. Admit that you have an Ability--that you have innate skills beyond those of the usual, pre-Ending human.

2. Believe that this evolution of humanity could restore the stability and sanity of the species.

3. Decide to use your life and your Ability to the survival of humanity.

4. Look inside yourself and see what character defects might force you to use your Ability to harm your fellow humans.

5. Admit to yourself and another human being the exact nature of your Ability.

6. Make a list of all people you care about and be willing to use your Ability to aid them.

7. Tell each of the people you listed about your Ability, wherever possible, except when doing so would injure them or others.

8. Take a personal inventory whenever possible, and when you find you've done wrong, promptly admit it.

Above all else, having an Ability is far better that not having the world of The Ending, if you're Ability-free, you belong to the new sub-species, "The Crazies". Best of luck to you, survivors...

July 10, 2012

Apocalypse Soundtrack - Volume I

Everyone listens to music, even in the most desperate of times...

Track 1 - It's the end of the world - R.E.M.
Track 2 - Iridescent - Linkin Park
Track 3 - Until the End - Night Watchman
Track 4 - Don't Drink the Water - The Dave Matthews Band
Track 5 - People Are Strange - The Doors
Track 6 - Sister of Charity - The 69 Eyes
Track 7 - Adrenaline - Gavin Rossdale
Track 8 - Burn it Down - Linkin Park
Track 9 - Citizen Soldier - 3 Doors Down
Track 10 - Basket Case - Green Day
Track 11 - Hurt - Johnny Cash
Track 12 - Another One Bites the Dust - Queen
Track 13 - Let It Go - Tim McGraw
Track 14 - Airplanes - B.o.B. featuring Haley Williams
Track 15 - Better Days - Goo Goo Dolls

June 22, 2012

Keeping Busy (Outdoors) - After the Ending

Surviving the end of the world isn't all it's cracked up to be. Survivors often experience guilt and displacement after being ripped from their homes, losing their loved ones and navigating an unknown world in the hopes of remaining alive.

One might find themselves entertaining desperate thoughts of loneliness and uncertainty, especially living within the unfamiliar ranges of Mother Nature. Emotional breakdowns are not uncommon among survivors post-apocalypse and thoughts of suicide sometimes lingers in the back of their minds, the invitation to ease struggle or suffering a titillating possibility.

But alas, there is hope! There's plenty to do After the Ending, so cheer up!

When you're not scouting the perimeter of your safe haven, foraging for food or killing off Crazies, you can pass your time agreeably by doing any of the following things if you're living in the wild:
  • Build a fort or tree house 
  • Install a rope or tire swing 
  • Find hidden shapes in the clouds 
  • Go berry tasting - (Caution: this could result in death) 
  • Swing through the trees like Tarzan 
  • Establish a bug or animal hospital 
  • Go rock climbing 
  • Dig for gold 
  • Skip rocks (if there's any sort of body of water) 
  • Give yourself a tattoo using a bird's feather and black berry juice 
  • Go on a bear hunt 
  • Bird watching 
  • Plan a safari 
  • Go hiking 
  • Tie-Dye your clothes using vines as rubber bands and berry juice as dye 
  • Make mud pies 
  • Make a broom out of pine needles 
  • Whittle wooden sculptures 
  • Make Arrowheads 
  • Search for the elusive Bigfoot and hope he's friendly
  • Throw stuff off a bridge

Keeping Busy (Indoors) Edition Coming Soon!

June 4, 2012

Ultimate Field Guide to Crazies AE - First Edition

Survivors Beware! You may have been lucky enough to live through the H1N1/13 pandemic, but that doesn't mean you're safe. You can always run and hide in hopes of surviving, but it's better to know your opponent and how to defend yourself.

What happens post-apocalypse is a crapshoot. Every world is different, except for the fact you don't know what you're in for (although, generally speaking, it's never fluffy bunnies and merry-go-rounds). Worst of all, you don't know what you're up against until it's running after you with crazed eyes and a pitchfork or screaming like a suicidal banshee.

Our world is one of death, spontaneous genetic mutations, chemical imbalance and infection all resulting in some seriously disturbed individuals.

Here's what to expect After The Ending...

Crazies: [kray-zeez] proper-noun/plural Individuals who survived DNA damage caused by the H1N1/13 virus resulting in an adverse reaction of psychological instability.
Crazy: [kray-zee] root word/adjective/proper-noun - mentally deranged, demented, insane

Classification: Clueless Wanderer
Species: Homo Sapien
Region: Global
Origin: Infected by virus; Survived
Symptoms: Appears unconcerned with the world outside their head; Frequently disregards need for shoes/clothes; Possibly experiences tactile numbness
Dwelling: Anywhere and everywhere
Weakness: Is easily defeated through most means of defense due to their incoherence and lack of strength as a result of malnutrition.

Species: Homo Sapien
Region: Global
Origin: Infected by virus; Survived
Symptoms: Mindless aggression; Compulsive breaking and entering; Seeks out violence
Dwelling Abandoned houses and buildings in towns and cities; prefer locations with larger populations of survivors (potential victims); Frequently under the leadership of a Megalomaniac (who provides a steady stream of people to hurt)
Weakness: Noise -Loud, high-pitched sounds confuse them making it difficult to focus or follow orders

Classification: Manipulator
Species: Homo Sapien
Region: Global
Origin: Infected by virus; Survived
Symptoms: Easily agitated; Conceals aggressive intentions and behaviors; Uses victim's psychological vulnerabilities to determine effective tactics; Willing to use sufficient level of ruthlessness and cause harm to the victim; Generally covert and sneaky.
Dwelling : Groups of survivors (more targets to choose from)
Weakness: Entitlement -They're greedy and moody leading to irrationality and unexpected outbursts that expose them for who they really are, often times giving them away and turning their followers against them.

Classification: Megalomaniac [meg-uh-loh-mey-nee-ak]
Species: Homo Sapien
Region: Global
Origin: Infected by virus; Survived
Symptoms: Delusions of grandeur; Desire to rule the world; Finds excessive pleasure in dominating/hurting others
Dwelling: Fortified facilities surrounded by their sycophants (usually Grunts) and prisoners (people with abilities)
Weakness: Hubris -Their pride and arrogance affords them little to no patience when interacting with intelligent individuals. Intellectuals are threatening and unnerving so they often times reveal too much information resulting in their demise.

Classification: Paraphillias [par-uh-fil-ee-uhz]
Species: Homo Sapien
Region: Globally
Origin: Infected by virus, Survived
Symptoms: Recurrent, intense sexually arousing fantasies; Sexual urges or behaviors generally involving the suffering or humiliation of one's partner (generally non-consenting persons)
Dwelling: Abandoned buildings, submissive population a plus, tend to stay together
Weakness: Lust -Easy to lure using the object of their affection

Classification: Reclusive Kleptomaniac
Species: Homo Sapien
Region: Global
Origin: Infected by virus; Survived
Symptoms: Only goes out in full dark; Collects a specific item or type of item compulsively (i.e., shiny things)
Dwelling: Dark, cave-like spaces
Weakness: Light -Bright light burns their eyes and confuse them presenting moments of temporary weakness

June 2, 2012

Guest Post - The Bookshelf Muse: Frustration, Your Novel's Best Friend

Thank you to Becca and Angela for being our first guest bloggers! Creating characters in a post-apocalyptic world has been a labor of love. Thankfully, our efforts have been aided by the geniuses behind the Bookshelf Muse who's bountiful writing tools and expertise has helped make this process a little easier. 

We found this post both comical and enlightening, as Dani and Zoe, our survivalist characters, are frequently SUPER frustrated. Enjoy!

Frustration: Your Novel’s Best Friend
By: Angela Ackerman

You're thinking that title must be a typo, aren't you? It isn't, I promise. :) Frustration is awesome.

Sure, as writers, we want NOTHING to do with this emotion. Between critique partners ripping the guts out of our manuscripts to form rejections to a book review that compares our writing skill to that of a lobotomized hamster, frustration awaits at every turn.

We develop coping strategies to avoid it: pep talks before opening email. Chugging Diet Dr. Pepper by the six pack. Sucking on the sweet innards of M&Ms, pretending each one contains a Muse's orphan tears and gives us writing superpowers. *coughs* What, you don't do that? Erm, neither.

So, on the keyboard side of things, frustration sucks. But on the page? MAGIC.

Frustrationthat hair-pulling, chair-kicking delightis what drives our novel. It juices our plot, makes our characters twitchy and unfulfilled, and glues the reader to the page. Keeping characters from their goals creates Frustration (AKA Tension, the Heartbeat of a story).

So while WE try to avoid this emotion, it's important we make sure our CHARACTERS don't.  In this state a character reveals who they really are. Frustration is emotional GOLD, forcing them to ACT, which pushes the story forward.  

Of course, no two people express their Frustration the same way, and neither should characters. Understanding their Emotional Range (how they express emotion and to what degree) is key to creating believable emotion. 

When up against a wall, a character might:

Retreat inward
Run from the problem
Try to manipulate/influence
Give up
Get angry
Vent out loud
React with violence
Feel depressed
Lay blame
Seek revenge
Take out anger on others
Berate themselves
Ask for help
Analyze what happened in hopes of understanding
Fall into a bottle, feed an addiction, drink orphan tears
Act like it doesn't matter
Bounce back & try again

Do Reactions Fit the Character? 

A hardened criminal character isn't going to ask for help or have himself a weepy moment. A skittish, shy teen isn't about to rant and rave in the middle of the school, and I doubt a kindergarten teacher would whip out her AK-47 to get her rage on. These things don't belong in the character’s Emotional Range.

Who our characters are at their coretheir values, their sense of self, their confidence levels and insecuritiesdictate how they behave. The hardened criminal is gonna get himself some revenge. The timid teen might blame himself or simply retreat inward. Our kindergarten teacher would rethink the situation and maybe ask for help. Or jump back in because of the try, try again conditioning she promotes in the classroom. These reactions fit their personality types and so are believable to the reader.

Responses to frustration must evolve as the stakes rise, but stay within a logical range. Just like a thermometer, a character's reactions become more and more extreme as the novel progresses until the frustration causes them to explode. But, depending on the character, that explosion will come across differently. The teen might grow frustrated enough to break his silence and open up about what's happening. The criminal may become so blinded by revenge that he takes ludicrous risks, putting his freedom in peril. The teacher could sweep everything off her desk or even quit her job.  In each case, the reaction is extreme, but remains believable because it stays inside that character's Emotional Range.

So the next time you're frustrated as a writer, sit your butt in front of the keyboard and write. Pass it on to your characters and your book will thank you for it. :)

And if you need more suggestions on how to express a character’s frustration, check out Angela’s book, The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression. This resource comes to the rescue by highlighting 75 emotions and listing the possible body language cues, thoughts, and visceral responses for each. Written in an easy-to-navigate list format, readers can draw inspiration from character cues that range in intensity to match any emotional moment. The Emotion Thesaurus also tackles common emotion-related writing problems and provides methods to overcome them. This writing tool encourages writers to show, not tell emotion and is a creative brainstorming resource for any fiction project. 

Angela Ackerman writes on the darker side of MG & YA. She blogs at The Bookshelf Muse, a description resource hub for writers, and is co-author of The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression, now available for purchase through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and Smashwords. The PDF can be bought directly from The Bookshelf Muse.

June 1, 2012

The Ten Essentials For Surviving The Ending

Hikers and backpackers are well aware of the classic "Ten Essentials," items which all outdoor adventurers keep handy to avoid any untimely deaths. Though it varies slightly depending on the source, here's a generally accepted list:

1. Map
2. Compass
3. Sunglasses and Sunscreen
4. Extra Clothing
5. Headlamp/Flashlight
6. First-aid Supplies
7. Firestarter
8. Matches
9. Knife
10. Extra Food

My husband and I are seasoned backcountry backpackers, but recently we learned the value of following this long-standing protocol. We headed out on a winter day-hike in Yosemite and, stupidly, brought only one of the ten essentials (sun glasses and sunscreen). Well, unless cell phones count as flashlights...then we brought two. The hike, it turned out, took several hours longer than planned and we had to skitter the final few miles down a snow-covered trail in the dark. Like, DARK dark. And COLD. At least the stars were pretty...

The point is, the Ten Essentials for outdoor adventurers are extremely, well, essential. Thus the name, duh. Should've known, right? At least we learned our lesson without dying the aforementioned untimely death.

So, what would be on the list of "Ten Essentials For Surviving The Ending"? Let's first consider the obstacles and dangers facing the survivors of that blasted virus:

1. Almost everyone is dead, so there's not a whole gang of folks with specialized skills to lean on. The survivors must fend for themselves.
2. ALL survivors are affected in one of two ways by the virus: a) they're totally nutso, or b) they've gone through spontaneous genetic mutation resulting in a preternatural ability.
3. Without humans to maintain things, the infrastructure we so readily depend on rapidly crumbles (i.e., electricity, gas, internet, phones, etc.).
4. Necessary supplies like food and clean water are no longer being produced or maintained, though with the drastically decreased population, plenty of packaged food is available for the taking. Shopping spree anyone?

Whether you're ex-military or ex-graduate student, you're going to need a few things to help sure you survive in the crazy new world, post-virus.

Ten Essentials (for surviving The Ending):

1. Water Purifier/Filter
2. Knife, Gun and Ammo
3. Stockpile of Packaged and Preserved Food
4. Medicine (antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, fever reducers, tetanus and rabies shots, EpiPens)
5. First Aid Supplies (especially for stabbings, breaks, and gun shots)
6. Portable Solar Panels and/or Solar-powered Generator
7. Maps (road and topographic) and Compass
8. Lighter/Flint & Steel and firestarter
9. All-weather Clothing and Boots
10. Tent (you never know when the crazies might run you out of your post-apocalyptic home)
(Bonus) Animal Companions!

May 29, 2012

Contagions, Plagues and Outbreaks...Oh my!

If there was an airborne virus outbreak, how long would it take to spread? 

How long would it take before the CDC could concoct a cure or antivirus to prevent further infection or spreading? 

What are the odds YOU would survive?


In third-world countries, what seems like the average, common cold or flu to us, generally causes DEATH. This is something I don't think about often, but it's a very real, prevalent issue. Who's to say it could never be that way for America?

It doesn't seem to matter if it's a virus or bacteria, either way when I hear the word "outbreak" or "epidemic" a part of me panics. The perstering question of "what if" hibernating in the subterranean tunnels of my mind surfaces, stirring a primitive desire to survive (I'm sure names like the Bird Flu, Swine Flu and Mad Cow Disease don't help put my mind at ease either). The other more ignorant, lackadaisical part of me thinks, "Meh, it's America, it's the 21st century, nothing will happen here."

Since beginning the research and writing process for our post-apocalyptic book series, it seems as though I've taken a whole new interest in the unseen world of molecules, spontaneous genetic mutation and cellular biology. I used to think, yikes, cells and molecules and compounds, no thank you. Now, I think, oh, the possibilities!

How do you control something you can't see? The average person can't, that's what makes writing about a pandemic so interesting! Survival of the fittest, natural selection, evolution and genetic mutation happen all the time in nature so being able to write it into a storyline with our own little twist is fun!

Creating a dystopian world based on a make-believe (but very possible) virus allows us to get scientific and imaginative as we try to determine how realistic or far-fetched we want it to be. Figuring out what that virus looks like, how it effects the world and what happens to the small percentage of folks who can withstand it and survive is like painting a picture. What would that world be like? Every little piece is like a color and in the end....we have a masterpiece (or so we hope).

Contagion was a movie that helped me to actually see what it would realistically look like to see a disease outbreak.

Director Steven Soderbergh's 2011 thriller, Contagion was, for me, a realistic look at the "maybes" and "it could happens" and "what ifs." I've begun to seriously ponder what my chances of survival would be and what would happen to those who DID survive some sort of viral outbreak that plagued the world. Lucky for us, we get to explore the possibilities as we generate a virus and After The Ending world of our own.

My thoughts...
It wasn't interesting to me on an entertainment level because there were so many plot-lines and characters I could barely keep up. However, on an educational level, it was enthralling. It was very thought provoking and for me, any film that leaves me with a lasting imprint or with more questions means it accomplished something and was worthwhile.

Having so many celebrities involved was a bit unnecessary and overkill, especially since they all die. It would have been more realistic had their been "real" people enlisted for each role to make the content of the film seem more true to life, especially since the audience sees the disease spread in a hyperlink narrative fashion, bouncing back and forth between numerous characters.

The reality of it...
The film portrayed people infected by the disease from all over the world. It illustrated how quickly the virus spread and how each person was effected and in what way. No one was safe, not even the scientists who were the masterminds behind creating the cure. I'm no scientist or scholar on this subject by any means, but the film seemed extremely plausible. Scientists and science writers praised the film for it's real life depiction of what could happen, how the CDC would be involved and the process in which they would go about quarantines, tracking the virus origins, gathering live cultures for testing and so on.

What it would take...
Influenza viruses are constantly changing. To create a global influenza pandemic (worldwide spread) may occur if three conditions are met:
  • A new subtype of influenza A virus is introduced into the human population (historically and generally passed along by wild birds showing no signs of infection).
  • The virus causes serious illness in humans.
  • The virus can spread easily from person to person in a sustained manner.
Just a thought....
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), three to five million people get the flu every year. Just think of what would happen if an common epidemic turned into a pandemic and killed millions people....oh wait, that happened in 1918 when the "Spanish Flu" decimated 50 million people. When I think about how many people get the common cold and how easily it's spread, I'm not feeling the warm and fuzzies anymore.

While the odds of the United States becoming inundated with the sick and dying due to the flu are minuscule, it would be ignorant to claim it could never happen.

So.........what if it did? I'm just sayin.....