Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Virtual Book Tour - WEEKS: Book One by Jasyn T. Turley

Title: WEEKS: Book One
Author: Jasyn T. Turley
Publication Date: March 25th 2020
Print Length: 400 pages
Genres: Science Fiction, Post-Apocalyptic, Zombie
Phil, Tim, and Dakota are three survivors taking refuge in Atlanta, Georgia. The year is 2027, ten years after a nuclear fallout decimated the known world and left it in shambles. With hordes of the undead flooding their once safe home and a city now depleted of all resources and supplies the three must make a daring gamble. To trek across the States and Canada, looking for a new place to call home; safe from the monsters that plague the lands.

In their daring gamble this trio encounters more than just zombies. They are relentlessly pursued and hunted by both an old and new nemesis’. Trying to survive and stick together, no matter the odds, they must rely on their faith, bond, and past experiences to live through their tribulations. In this world, a fool's chance is usually their only chance.

Present Day

He stood there, in the middle of the four-way stop, staring down at the dusky horizon, the growing shadows of the building. There was a reason they had come here, but the beauty of the twilight mesmerized him to the point of forgetting. The fact that nature could still hold its beauty, its color, despite all that has happened, only strengthened his faith in God.

For ten years they had lived off of faith. Living on what they worked so hard to obtain. All the clues, riddles and puzzles they solved to find and unlock caches filled with supplies; their lifeline. For ten years of survival and struggle they found joy with pain, blood with sweet, rejoicing with suffering, repentance with sinning. It was their faith in Christ that held them together, in the darkest moments when the night closed in all around them and the sky seemed as if it was falling on them.

There was no sense of weekdays, calendars. All they knew was based off of measuring the months themselves for the last ten years, since 2017. They knew it was at least ten years that they’ve been together.

Thinking back to his memories always put Phil in a trance, and the twilight hours of day only deepened it. He could best be described as “the lights are on but nobody’s home.”
“Phil. Hey, Pastor Phil!” Tim yelled out louder than he was comfortable with, but he could see Phil was now alert.

“What?” Phil asked, breaking away from the trance of the twilight.

“The Humvees? Remember?” Dakota asked from nearby. Her voice sounded concerned as she pointed to the ancient bodies of metal vehicles.

They were only scrap now, after ten years of rot and decay has set in. All three Humvees sat at the four-way stop, filled with potholes; probably from mortar fire. This was obviously a case of friendly fire as the vehicles too looked like they were hit by mortars. Rubble had piled up on the sides of each vehicle and the area as a whole looked like it had suffered a good deal of mortar fire.

The three Humvees used to be used by the Army. One had a hatch on its roof, where a mount for a machine gun, now long missing, had been positioned. He had the idea to start searching the city more painstakingly, seeing that the last of their supplies was stretching thin. There were no more caches available and their resources were depleting. So Phil wanted to double check everything… again. He hoped these Humvees would make their day a little more fruitful because so far the only things they had managed to find was two MREs and a bottle of whiskey.

“Right,” Phil said, looking away from the twilight horizon again, to focus on the task at hand. “Tim, take the center, Dakota the first. I’ll check the rear one,” he ordered, walking away towards to the Humvee ruins in the back.

Tim and Dakota both shrugged their shoulders casually, but they were both thinking the same thing. Before Dakota parted from Tim, he stepped closer and whispered in a low voice.

“Do you still think he’s just going through a phase?” he asked.

“We all do every once in a while.” Dakota answered.

“In basic, you go through a thirteen-week adjustment period. Guess what, he’s been like this for months now.”

“Tim, it took me two years to adjust to America when I moved here, and three years to learn English. It has to be a phase.”

“Ten years after everything went into the gutter, and now he’s going through a phase? I don’t buy it, sis. Otherwise he would’ve been like this from the start,” Tim said, patting her back and turning his attention to the ruins of the vehicle in the center.

Dakota had the leading Humvee. It felt normal because she always was the one taking point—well, usually she was. Whether it was scouting, reconnaissance or overwatch, her eyes were mostly up front looking ahead. Even when she was in the 75th, she went on frequent scouting missions. Before that she was a field surgeon who knew her way around a needle and the basics of an operation table.

She was no psychologist but she knew something was wrong with someone who was constantly getting stuck in his head. Blaming it on current circumstances was futile: they were all, to a degree, sociopaths. She had shot and killed people within arms reach and still could sleep the same night. Granted, it took some time getting to that point. No, Tim was right. Something else was eating at Phil from the inside.

They would have to worry about that later, right now they only had a little bit of time left to forage what they could from these Humvees and head back to base before other things became more active at night. Though she and Tim both remember that they had already picked these Humvees clean long ago. The whole city was pretty much picked clean. For Phil to forget something as little as that, there had to be something more going on with him; and they couldn’t waste anymore days’ worth of work to let him sort things out in his head.

Phil watched as Tim took to the middle Humvee and started to pull on the driver door. Its long rusted hinges gave way as Tim pulled the door clean off. Of the three, Tim was the strongest. He could overpower Phil in any wrestling match they had. His dark skin was sweating, even though it wasn’t hot or humid outside.

He never knew why but, for some reason, when he was a child Phil was intimidated by black people. It was strange, because just about every black person he met as a child was a nice person, very charismatic.

All that intimidation would change the day he joined the Army, after graduating high school. Just about all the men with him in boot camp were African American. Even later on during active service, most of his fellow comrades alongside him were black, and were the closest friends he ever had. Maybe the intimidation was, in part, due to his sheltered upbringing. That was why he joined the Army in the first place, to toughen himself and discard that timidity he felt; for he was timid of many more things. It was ironic: since the bombs blew and the radiation created abomination from that of God’s creation, he found even more things to be timid of. There was that fear of combat that never did change, his mind just became calloused to it; and now there were unmeasurably more things to fear than other people. But he thanked God every day that he was no longer intimidated by people who weren’t the same color as he, for Tim always gave Phil a sense of security when present.

He liked Marines too, back in his day, they were always fun to mess around with because they could take what you threw at them and dish it back. Mostly. Tim even dressed the role on a regular basis, though more of a casual sense. There was no reason to dress in anything that wasn’t combat friendly. He usually wore the olive drab, or OD, green shirt with matching battle dress uniform, or BDU, digital camo pants and combat boots. But every once in a while, he would adorn civilian attire and a black leather jacket. Some things you just don’t quit doing after everything’s fallen apart.

Then Phil took a look at Dakota. She spoke excellent English for a Brazilian; save for some discrepancies that were so minor, he hardly ever noticed. Nevertheless you knew what she was saying.

Phil could relate to Dakota a lot more then he could with Tim at times. She was dominantly introverted. You’d really have to force her out of her shell to see any extroverted behavior. Fortunately, after knowing each other for ten years, they were all comfortable with one another, so she had long since come out of her shell. He himself was introverted, but at times extroverted.

Tim was extroverted, enough said.

Dakota had an inner beauty of her that reminded Phil a lot of his mother. For Phil and Tim, she was their rock, who could bear all sorts of weight on her shoulders. She too joined the Army, but later on she became a Ranger; Phil went a different path in his career. Phil often wished that the three of their paths had crossed before the fallout occurred, had he retired later.

Phil had mad respect for the Rangers. Hell, he went through Ranger school himself for the honor of the Ranger tab on his uniform. Ever since, he had the utmost regard for Rangers. But he loved harassing them at the same time, he and his buddies he served with. But it was more like picking on your little brother. Just like with the Marines, he could joke with any Ranger and expect them to return the favor, oftentimes tenfold.

Dakota chose a more practical way into the lead Humvee. The doors would not open for her and she knew she couldn’t rip it off like her dingle-dork buddy did. So instead she climbed on top of the vehicles and worked her way in through the hatch. But upon inspection, she came up with the same result as did Tim. There was nothing here. She looked out the busted back window and saw Tim rub his head as he finished his search.

Like Tim, she wore the same type of pants, except hers was a solid green pair of BDU pants, with combat boots. She sported a dark blue tank top with a dark green overshirt. She kept her hair in a ponytail with her bangs framing the side of her face. Neither Phil nor Tim could ever understand how she could stand to have hair as long as hers; though it wasn’t long at all, just more hair than they had.

It was a bust, the whole day. Two MREs and a bottle of liquor, even though the liquor could be used for quite a few different purposes. It could also help them to stomach these age-old MRE’s too.

Phil felt his foot move something, and a metallic clank followed. Looking down he saw a rectangular piece of metal, bent and twisted. The paint that once was green was now faded save for the last three letters spelling “ave”. He recognized this old road sign; it was still scorched and ruined as when he last saw it.

“Shit,” Phil said rubbing his head as he gently laid the metal back down. He remembered now: they had already searched this site, along with the entire portion of this part of Atlanta, at least four times. This place was long since bone dry of anything to scavenge.

Standing back up he looked towards Tim and Dakota and whistled, loud enough to be heard but not loud enough to echo down the street. He wouldn’t bother looking into the rear Humvee, there was nothing there.

With a wave of his hand he motioned the other two towards their mode of transportation—ironically, a Humvee. There were plenty of vehicles left once the military abandoned the city, the whole state of Georgia for that matter. Dakota had claims on their Humvee, as she was quite fond of it. But that didn’t stop Phil from climbing into the driver seat, knowing she wouldn’t mind; he needed the distraction of driving. He took a glance at himself: his old brown hiking boots, his blue jeans, black shirt and brown, leather bombers jacket were all dusty. It was time to clean them again—which meant dusting them off as best he could.

Tim climbed into the passenger seat and Dakota into the back with her eyes watching the rear.

Hmph, eyes on back. Nice little mix-up on things, she thought to herself.

“We’ve already been here before,” Phil mumbled, more to himself than to them. He was disappointed in himself.

“Don’t worry about it buddy, we’ll get it tomorrow.” Tim’s voice was solid and reassuring, but not entirely convincing. How do you make up for a days’ worth of scavenging?

“Maybe it’s time we started looking outside highway two-eighty-five?” Dakota suggested, but got no response.

The engine shook and rumbled to life at the turn of the ignition switch before Dakota could finish what she was saying. They all knew what lay beyond the highway encircling Atlanta, and he wanted to avoid another debate—at least for now. Phil took a wide ‘U’ turn and then they were on their way back home.
Jasyn T. Turley was born in Wyandotte County, Kansas City, Kansas; and lives in Independence, Missouri. He is an independent author and full-time custodian. He holds an Associates in Arts degree from MCC KC Community College. He started WEEKS Book One back in the summer of 2009 and has been continuously working on it, and its sequels, since then. He has more science fiction and fantasy books in the works that he plans on releasing in the future. You can learn more about Jasyn, WEEKS Book One, and future projects at his website.

Believable Characters
by Jasyn T. Turley

When it comes down to characters I feel like they have to believable; I know that’s a bit rhetorical but let me explain. In writing, especially in fiction, you usually find someone whom you can relate to. Where does this relation come from? Well, it comes down to the fact that the character you relate too, very much feels like a real person. He/she has flaws and strengths, they are dynamic and their background, or roots, coincides with who they are.

His/her flaws and strengths are very much believable and depending on the circumstances are relatable. Sometimes you have a character with flaws and strengths that are supernatural or superhuman, so that makes it harder to relate too but is still believable; but who’s to say you can’t relate to them in this case, maybe it’s metaphorical or symbolic of something that’s real. It’s hard to see in black and white, but essentially what I’m getting at is something everyone should know. Sometimes we don’t love a character for his/her strengths. Maybe we see what they struggle with and love seeing them rise above their inner adversity, or not in some cases. Their personality and circumstances in the plot very much interact with what he/she is good at and where they struggle. There’s a dynamic at play here and it’s very much gripping.

Speaking of dynamic, I find myself loving characters who do change. In real life, there are things I would never consider believing or doing, but because I’ve changed over time, the Me from five years ago is different from the Me of today. Same applies. Not all change is large, or sudden, and that’s something important to consider as well. I think it’s a good general rule of thumb that quick changes in character should be smaller and the longer changes in a character should be more subtle and take its time. Remember, no black and white here, for there are exceptions. But if we’re speaking about believable characters I find this to be a good rule of thumb, at least for me.

A character's background is very much essential for him/her to be believable. Here is where research is very much important. Figure out the geography of where he/she comes from and how that affects them. What part of the city are they from? Rural or urban? What was his/her occupation? The list goes on, but you get the idea, and you don’t even have to have all the answers yet if you don’t want to; sometimes you figure them out as you write. But there’s a lot to consider with how his/her background effects them.

There is also another factor at play here, more external. It probably goes without saying though. But during self-critiques and edits, I find myself not only making my characters more believable but also I learned more about them. During such changes, I think it’s important to have your character and his/her dynamics consistent with the story. It’s very important for them to be believable if their interactions with their circumstances are consistent and down to earth. Not saying you have to do this, but for me personally.

For me, I find a greater connection with characters who exhibits personal flaws and strengths. Their roots and background play a role in who they are and how they interact with their current circumstances. Not to mention as the story progresses, so do they, consistently changes, whether small or large.

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