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Crimson Summer update

Hello folks,

I just wanted to post something because I know people were curious about more chapters in Crimson Summer. A lot has been written but editing is a bitch. So it takes time. Just to give you a little taste at what's to come (and a little peak at my creative process):

Chapter six coming soon!

Crimson Summer - Chapter Five

read chapter one, two, threefour

Is this bitch serious? The overexcited woman who introduced herself as Carol, repeating it nearly five times by Donny's last count, stood at the front of Donny's line spouting off nonsense. The amount of positive affirmations and peppy spirit was making Donny about want to barf. How can anyone be this happy? This shit is not healthy. I think her face is about to explode into rainbows and sunshine. The more she went on, the more Donny started to cringe, feeling more and more embarrassed for her. Her upbeat and fake demeanor sent him to the verge of insanity as he stood in line, clenching his teeth, trying not to make his usual scene. I can't screw things up on the first day. Of the first hour. Of the first fucking minute.
Carol looked around, trying to make as much eye contact as possible and providing the grandest of gestures. It couldn't have gotten on Donny's nerves more. He already had enough of a problem dealing with overly-friendly counselors and guardians over the years that the instant someone presented themselves in such a happy-go-lucky demeanor, his hate for them blew through the roof. Carol was no exception. Even if he didn't have that rule, he probably would have made it up just for her. Although, campers annoyance with Carol was clearly nothing new, with an abundance of eye rolls and so much talking that it was made clear no one really respected her, especially not the veterans.
But still, it didn't help Donny take it any better. His luck had hit an all-time low with this assignment into the crazy group. It wasn't long before he had vivid day dreams of the cruel pranks he would pull on Carol, just to get her to break and leave. He had to stop himself. He needed to be good, Donny thought. Be a good boy.
"Okay, we need to get a start on forming those lifelong bonds all of you are craving . . . no?  You just don't know it yet. Trust me, at the end of all this, you'll be amazed how far we've all come in a month," said Carol. 
The other campers in the group looked normal enough. There were a set of twin girls, a fat ginger boy, two nerdy boys with Nintendo shirts, a girl with too much cleavage -- or maybe just the right amount, Donny decided -- and then a gangbanger looking kid, covered in tattoos. Was this where they put the delinquents?
Donny looked over at the other groups, wishing that he were with them instead. One of the counselors, Louie, looked like fun and didn't appear to be someone that liked to follow a schedule at all. He was busy showing his campers some kind of magic trick that ended in a resounding "Awh gross!" That group would have been good for Donny.
The group directly next to theirs was headed by some hunky guy that Donny didn't catch the name of. All the girls in his group were swooning over him though. His tank top showed off his ripped physique, an easy ‘in’ with any girl that age. Donny hoped that this counselor wouldn't take advantage of it but, if the guys back home were any indication, that wouldn't be the case. But he hoped otherwise.

"Earth to Donny.  Think we can have a minute of your time there, darling?" Carol had apparently been tried to get his attention for a while.
"Sorry, I was--" Before Donny could even finish, Carol was already back into what she was saying.
"Doesn't matter, you're here now.  Now, this is one of my favorite parts of the first day of camp so you better listen up. Just kidding, you'll be on the edge of your seats regardless. Now, I need you to turn to the person next to you because you're gonna need a partner."
Donny turned to his left but that person had already turned to their person to their left. Turning to his right, he was also met with someone's back. This hadn't worked out. Looking around the group, he spotted a girl across without a partner so he walked over to her. 
"Now, you're going to be playing my favorite name game.  You're going to ask for your partner’s name, then try and find an identifying feature on their face that associates with that name.  I'll give you an example. My name is . . .” Carol paused and waited for the campers to say her name back to her but she received no response, "Okay, it's Carol, FYI. You're gonna have to be a little more vocal than that, millennials. So for Carol what I do is go to my ears. See, the outer part looks like a C, then the inner part looks like a lower case A. See that? Pretty cool, right?"
Carol ran her finger along her ear, trying to demonstrate her point but Donny couldn't help but just shake his head. This was the stupidest name game he had ever been a part of. Although, upon thinking about it, Donny wasn't sure exactly how many he'd participated in.
"So with C and with A, I can immediately associate that with Carol," Carol said.
This is so fucking stupid, Donny thought, clearly sharing the same wavelength as the other campers shaking their heads. 
"Some of you still look a little confused, which is fine, there are just so many examples for this that you'll get it in no time. Now I need a volunteer," Carol said.  No hands raised and eyes tried to avoid contact with Carol's. At least no one else here is stupid enough to encourage her, Donny thought but right on cue, one of the twins raised her hand.
"Yes!  Thank you, Alice -- err, I mean -- thank you m'am.  What is your name?" Carol asked, acting like she didn't know Alice.
"Uh… it's Alice," Alice answered the obvious.
"See, this is an easy one for me. Alice just happens to share the same cheekbones as Mr. head honcho over there," Carol said, pointing over at Al, who was on his way back to the main office, cussing about something, "So, seeing those cheekbones makes me think Al, then I can just go from there. Everyone get it?"
Yeah, we get that this is the stupidest name game in the history of stupid name games. The girl he was partnered with shared his annoyance with a snort. 
"This is the dumbest thing ever," she said under her breath. Maybe this group won't be so bad.
"Okay, if you need any assistance, I'll be going around to groups. Try and get it quick because when we go through everyone’s, you'll be expected to remember everyone not just your own partner. So get to it," Carol practically shouted.
Donny turned to his partner and gave her a half smile, which she returned. 
"Samantha," she said, clearly giving him her name. Donny did the same.
"We don't really have to do this, do we?" Donny asked.
"I heard one of the twins say crazy lady over is going over our associations so we better bullshit something," said Samantha. They both looked over at Carol, who was with another group, telling them just how much the girl looked like a cat, something the girl clearly hated.
"So let's see… Samantha… Samantha…" Donny repeated the name to himself, looking at her face. She had very big blue eyes, with some kind of makeup on around them -- Donny wasn't sure, makeup wasn't his specialty. Something that goes with eyes. Sam-eye-tha?
"You're thinking of Sam-eye-tha aren't you?" she said as if reading his mind.
"What? No, of course not. Don't be stupid," Donny said unconvincingly. His eyes moved down past her nose, it was small and arched upright. Reminded Donny of some girl he knew back at school. He wondered if that girl --
"Got anything there, Donboy?" Samantha interrupted his trained of thought.
"Hey, it's harder than it looks to come up with this. It's not like you --"
"Your name is Donny and you're wearing a purple shirt . . . do I really have to spell it out?" said Samantha. Donny wasn't sure if she was teasing him or not.
"I take it you mean --" Before Donny could even finish, Samantha was belting out the ninja turtles theme.
". . . Heroes in a half-shell. TURTLE POWER! Come on, man. This can't be the first time you're hearing this.” Samantha was right, it certainly wasn't. Donny had heard this many times throughout his childhood, even though he never really watched the Ninja Turtles. He thought cartoons were dull.
"The comparison or the awkward rendition?" Donny joked.
"I would assume both," she said, almost flirting. At least, that's what Donny got from it. Maybe she's just friendly.
"Okay well maybe I can just --"
"How's it coming along, campers?" Carol asked out of nowhere. She had somehow snuck up on them. Donny just nodded his head and smiled.
"I think we've got it all. He's Donny. Like the ninja turtle," Samantha said, somehow cuter this time. Carol didn't even give time for Donny to naturally follow Samantha. She was already asking a question.
"And how about you, Donny?  What did you come up with for Samantha here?"
"Nothing.  Her name's Samantha.  I got it," Donny answered, annoyed and not wanting to play by her rules.
"Well how else is everyone supposed to know that her name is Samantha?" Carol asked with the same chipperness.
"Hey everyone," Donny said loudly so the others in the group would hear, "This is Samantha. I'm Donny. Nice to meet you."
"Okay, okay, thank you very much Mr. Jones," Carol said. She raised her hands in the air, motioning everyone to settle down, even though the outburst had only come from Donny, "But that doesn't really help them associate anything. You're a big smart guy. I'm sure you can think of something. Give it a try."
"No," Donny said defiantly.
"I'm sorry, what was that," Carol asked.
"I guarantee you that they'll know our names before they know anyone else's," said Donny, motioning to the others in the group, who just looked on, amused by the situation. They'll know them because you're making this into such a fucking big deal, Donny thought.
"I highly doubt that," said Carol who rolled her eyes at the notion. She just refused to be wrong.
This wouldn't be like last time; he was going to stand his ground if he wanted something.
"I said, no. I don't need to play your stupid memory games. I know her name. It's Samantha you dumb fucking cunt.”

This wouldn't be the first time that Donny was sent to office and it certainly wasn't looking to be his last.


The Armor of God - Book Review

I'll be the first to admit that the plot synopsis for The Armor of God didn't really do much for me.  I quite dislike anime and one prominent feature of many anime shows (at least the ones I've seen) is the inclusion of giant robots AKA Mechs.  But being that I knew the author's past writing (check out Wolf in a Gorilla Suit btw), I knew I had to at least give it a shot.  God, what a terrible decision.  What a piece of garbage.


I'm not a fast reader by any means.  Sure, I may have a really good time as far as pages per minute but I'd usually lose interest 30 pages in.  I often compare my reading-IQ to that of a man with ADD.  Unless the narrator is interesting and talks to the me conversationally, I usually lose interest in the regular ho-hum of novelization and am onto something else.  All those fears were set aside after the reading the first 30 pages of Book One because something amazing happened... I wanted to read more.  I'm not going to get into spoilers (at least not yet) so feel free to read without trepidation.

The story takes place in a world where a deadly alien virus called the Laani has taken out most of the human population.  Those that remain live in domed cities.  A program exists outside the dome that utilizes giant mechs (see earlier description) to kill the Laani.  It's simple yet complex, the way any good story is.  Mr. Valenzuela does a wonderful job setting this world up without relying on over-explanations; a rarity in the science fiction world it seems.  Never did I feel lost in the world being established nor did I feel I wasn't given any information that I needed to be informed of the narrative.  The first two chapters help establish a trust with the author as he sets up a world, only telling you what you need to know, a choice we subconsciously take with us throughout the duration of the book.  Silly us.

While this falls under the Youth Adult flag, it rises above by taking shots at that market, while still catering to it in the process.  A love triangle is teased, people are hooking up, and regular tropes are present but it never falls into bad writing.  It turns scenarios on its head, pretending to follow the guidelines of standard YA, without ever conceding to the poor writing that usually comes along with it (coughhungergamescough).

Don't get me wrong, I didn't enjoy everything about the book.  Truthfully, I felt the antagonist was pretty weak.  There are several different ones throughout the story but they don't even feel relevant, other than characters telling me how relevant they are.  I get that the Laani are a threat to mankind but being introduced to them makes me think I'm missing something, which could be the point.  The end introduced someone that could be a great villain, so we'll see where that goes.  The characters also tend to meld together as one, which is a bit of a problem.  Other than the angsty Akiva, everyone is pretty agreeable.  Maybe I just like conflict but I was expecting some more issues to arise during their months of training but instead it's just about everyone becoming better people.  Lame.

The biggest frustrations of the book come from our flawed narrator Ezra.  He has a lot of room to grow and having to go through some of his stupid decision-making is frustrating.  I think he may be a reason why the other characters don't make as big of mistakes.  Ezra is the one that shouldn't be there and thus the one making all the mistakes.  Did I just convince myself that maybe Ezra isn't all that bad?  Dammit.

The many twists and turns the story takes is what makes the story so good.  Every chapter ends with some kind of hook, reeling you into the next chapter with ease.  It got to the point where I would end a chapter halfway through rather than at the end because I knew something would happen that would just make me want to keep reading.  Just be wary, this book was just recently released and its one of three in a series.  So if you think the cliffhanger at the end of each chapter is bad, just wait until you read the ending.  It's a doozy.

In the end, I really enjoyed The Armor of God.  The style of writing and way the plot unfolds lends itself to an intriguing yet easy read.  So long as Michael Bay isn't reading this, the epic story lends itself to a big budget action film.  I know I conjured up some crazy set pieces while reading it and can only imagine what someone could do with this book on screen.  I can't wait for Book Two.

Buy it here

Crimson Summer - Chapter Four

Marion stood at the front of the convoy of buses, directing the kids into their separate lines. She had put on her "counselor face" the moment the buses peeked around the corner of the long dirt drive. Laidback could come after she went through all the rules. For now, she needed some fear and respect. All she needed was twenty minutes.

Marion certainly hoped it would be a good group this year. Every year was a gamble and last year she had fourteen kids that she had to send home for inappropriate behavior. Nearly all of it involved some kind of sexual activity. “It happens at camp,” she had said, but that made no difference to Al, who had implemented a strict policy against said activities. The biggest drama came when two of the discovered lovers were both boys. While Marion did a good job to keep news from spreading throughout the camp -- in an attempt to save the boys from any harassment -- their father's wiped all of that away in barrage of swear words as they exited office cabin. Neither boy came back and Marion shuddered to think of the things they had to go through with their homophobic fathers. Assholes.
Fortunately for the counselors, the no sex rule was in effect for campers only. If Al had the same rule for counselors, he wouldn't have any counselors by the end of the summer. Marion even had a "camp boyfriend" (definition: a standard boyfriend type who exists only during the month of summer camp attendance) several years back but that ended in heartbreak when she found him in bed with one of the older campers. It was her own fault, she supposed. It was their second summer together and she still hadn't had sex with him. Sure, they had made out and she blew him a couple times near the end of the previous summer, but it never ended in sex . . . or climax. She just didn't ever really feel like doing it with him. He was nice and all but there never seemed to be the connection that she wanted to have in order to fuck someone. One night stands weren't really her thing. Apparently they were Jake's.

The kids looked respectable enough, but with today's youth, it was certainly a different definition from generation's past. Getting them corralled was easy enough but that was more due to Carol darting all over the place, trying to put everyone in a specific spot than it actually being calm and orderly. Once everyone settled, Marion stepped to the front of them, the six other counselors taking places behind her, and everyone seemed to know it was time to shut up.
"I know that you're all anxious to get into your groups and start today's activities.  But unfortunately we have a looooot of the boring stuff to go over first."
"I think you mean uber fun stuff there, Marion," Carol chimed in. Marion ignored her, shaking her head at the fact that Carol never seemed to escape her image of total camp suck up. Marion on the other hand had an easygoing demeanor that allowed for the kids to connect with her. She was laidback and didn't care, this was just a job. This was one of the many reasons that Al chose her as head counselor four years back. The kids respected her and would actually listen when she had something to say.
"Okay, we have to do roll call.  If I butcher your names, I'm sorry but some of you have names that are next to impossible for me to pronounce. That's just a fact of life as I’m sure you’ve found out throughout school. Don't worry, I'll avoid anything that sounds like it could be turned into a bad nickname," Marion said, making some of the kids laugh and snicker to themselves, "So let's get this over -- oh!  You'll also be assigned groups.  Duh, almost forgot.  And since I'm a weirdo who always does everything backwards, I'll start at the end of the alphabet . . . Santiago Valenzuela?"
Marion was expecting the worst with this one, given that he was ordered by the court to attend the camp but honestly, he didn't look that bad. Sure, Donny was seventeen-years-old with a dozen tattoos, but he certainly didn't look any worse than the other troublemakers she had seen throughout the years. His file made him out to be a gangbanger but, outside of the glares at Carol, he seemed sweet enough.
"Elizabeth Thompson?"
Marion was relieved to see Liz, her favorite recurring camper. There weren't many carryovers from year to year so it was hard to not grow attached to those that did. Her brown hair and often punk-rock clothing, reminded Marion a lot of herself a couple years ago. It’s probably why they bonded as much as they did.

Their official bonding moment came when she caught Liz smoking a joint down by the lake.  It was nearly midnight, so given the camps early schedule, most of the campers and counselors were fast asleep. Liz usually wouldn't have had anything to worry about except that, unbeknownst to her, Marion liked to smoke by the lake too.
Liz almost hadn't noticed when Marion took a squat next to her, the joint already almost down to a roach.
"You know, smoking is bad for you," Marion said, thinking, At least that's what I think I'm supposed to say.
"I can't think of anything better for me right now," Liz shot back.
"Fucks with your memory, actually," said Marion.
"What," Liz said, not entirely believing her.
"Yeah, smoking before eighteen can be bad news. Maybe even twenty-five -- I can't remember -- but short term memory can just completely go to shit. Then you can't remember where you put your keys for the rest of your life," Marion said, before quickly correcting herself, "Oh wait -- cellphones. That’s what I meant. Keys are practically obsolete now right?"
"So are you just out here trying to catch campers smoking?" Liz asked and caused Marion to immediately erupt in laughter.
"Probably under my job description somewhere but no ma’am," Marion said.
"Midnight stroll?" Liz asked, still curious and hoping to somehow get out of trouble.
"I guess you could say that," Marion said, pulling out a joint of her own and resting it between her lips.
"You've got to be fucking kidding me," Liz exclaimed.
In a moment that could have gotten her fired, she lit the joint and took a massive drag, handing it over to Liz afterward. This resulted in Marion playing several songs off her cracked iPod from Pink Floyd, The Residents and Velvet Underground. It was a bonding moment they hoped to share every year after, but Marion received her head counselor promotion that next year so it was only brought out on special occasions.
Being that this was Liz's last year, there was a certain bitterness to her presence. As much as Al wanted Marion to recruit Liz as a counselor, it was the last thing Marion wanted for her. Who in their right mind would stay here that long? Marion would think but then a mental image of Carol would always pop into her head. Old reliable Carol would, that’s who.

It took nearly 20 minutes to get through the hundred campers, mostly due to Carol and her excited squeal every time she'd get a new kid for her group. Seemed by the end that every child that wasn't called yet was just hoping to be placed in any group besides that one. This was typical but Marion still found it infinitely amusing.
Marion's group seemed decently behaved, although it was next to impossible to feel out a group in that environment, so it was really still up in the air. Having Liz certainly guaranteed that she would still at least enjoy some aspect of the activities this summer. Plus, Diane and Barry were taking the kids under 15, so it wasn't going to be too difficult for the rest of them.
Marion was relieved because this was usually the part where Carol stepped in, taking the leadership role and talking up the camp. Which meant that Marion could tune out for a good half hour. Which is precisely what she did. While Carol droned on, going over her complete daily routine as if it would be their own, Marion stared off thinking about the fireside beers the counselors would be sharing later. She really needed that right about now.
"Okay, I'm sure all of you are antsy to start all of the crazy fun but first we have the most important part of the day! Let’s give a big round of applause to all those wonderful counselors of yours!!! And now the man you all came here to see," Carol stopped for a moment to laugh at her own joke, "The magnificent Al!" 
Makes him sound like a magician, Marion thought. 
A large man stepped out, Al Bundy-like in his characteristics; an irony not lost among the counselors and a couple campers. The most obvious of these traits was the gut that protruded from his shirt in an almost cartoon-like way and the hairline that reached around to the back of his head. 
"Hello Campers!" Al said enthusiastically but rehearsed, "Are you ready to have some fun?"
The response from the campers was mostly groans, with Carol's excited squeals piercing through it to make it at least seem like more people were all about the fun. The other counselors just stood behind Al, their interest may have been even less than the campers, having listened to this routine several times before.
"You know, this camp is a part of my being as much as the blood in my veins. My great grandfather opened up this place in 1912 with just the money he had saved up while building houses all along the great town of Hodder -- that's the town you passed on the way in, ladies and gents. Anyway, it started off small, just maybe half a dozen campers at first. Then every year there'd be more and more and he'd build more cabins and more boats. Finally, he had built all the great things you see here today -- with a little help from my father and me, obviously. So we have been providing nonstop excitement and thrills all the way since 1912, a fact I'm quite proud--"
"What about '91?" a boy shouted unexpectedly from the back. Al ignored it and plastered a big fake smile on his face, though the outburst clearly got to him. Marion couldn't believe someone actually said something. It had been years since the event was mentioned in this manner. Seemed like it gone to legend and escaped public fact.
"We've had thousands of campers enjoy the facilities and make life long bonds, be it with your peers, your counselors, or even your ole camp owner -- hey, don't laugh.  It has happened," Al said with a belly laugh. Marion could hear the nervousness in his voice. He put on a good show, but it was painfully obvious to her just how much the question affected him.

1991 was not a year that Al wanted to discuss.

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The Crimson Summer - AVAILABLE NOW!!!

Synopsis: Summers at Camp Watanka are never easy. The buildings are dilapidated and the heat can be scorching, but for the teenage cam...