Under the Electric Sun

I recently drew a new cover design for Under the Electric Sun, the science fiction novel I wrote back in 2012. I was never happy with the earlier cover. Here is a photo of the new version. No, I didn’t put greasy Saran Wrap over the camera lens. I took this picture with my prepaid cellphone, a tedious little device that demands to be recharged twice a day. Sometimes, you just do the best you can.

Under the Electric Sun is available in paperback for $6. The Kindle version is 99 cents. You can click here to order.

I hope you’re enjoying the cool weather — if you happen to live in this part of the world. Have a lovely weekend.

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My writing process

 

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Recently, my friend Liz Fountain tagged me in a “blog hop” series where various writers answer questions about the way they write. Here are my answers.

 

1.) What am I working on?

At the moment, nothing. (Unfortunately.) Since my writing is a “glorified hobby” and not a major source of income, I have to do work that I’m not so passionate about during the day. Recently, I started a new job at a mill. In an effort to learn how to operate my pellet-spitting machine, I’ve decided to put my writing on hiatus and free up some space in my mind. Later, after I’ve conquered the machine and grown accustomed to my new job, I’ll start another book. (Or maybe just a short story. I haven’t decided yet.)

 

2.) How does my work differ from others in its genre?

So far, I’ve published two novels, Under the Electric Sun and Citizens of Purgatory, on Amazon. 

Under the Electric Sun is a dystopian, post-apocalyptic, science fiction story set in a massive underground city beneath the ruins of Washington, DC. While the “after-the-end-of-America-as-we-know-it” scenario is vaguely similar to Hunger Games and other dystopian novels, my book contains a lot of offbeat humor inspired by Douglas Adams. The main character in Under the Electric Sun is a cybernetic raccoon named Tristan, a government-issued tutor. Tristan and his dim-witted student, Jake Sheldon, throw sarcastic barbs at each other throughout the book. When Tristan and Jake climb a secret staircase and see the surface of the earth for the first time, they enter the ruins of an affluent gated community where the locals have turned swimming pools into gardens and golf courses into wheat fields.

Meanwhile, Citizens of Purgatory takes place in Alabama in 2003. I don’t really know which category to put this one in. I suppose you would call it a slapstick Southern gothic comedy. When I was writing it, my biggest inspirations were Garrison Keillor’s radio stories and Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole.

 

3.) Why do I write what I do?

I grew up with Doctor Who and Douglas Adams. I’m fascinated with science fiction, especially humorous science fiction. But I’m also madly in love with small town Americana, so I enjoy writing Southern gothic fiction too.

 

4.) How does my writing process work?

I start off with a vague idea of who the characters are and how the story will unfold. I write one chapter at a time, writing a rough draft of the chapter and fine-tuning it before I move on to the next chapter. Then I go back and overhaul all of them, moving through the manuscript one chapter at a time again. Sometimes I take brief vacations between chapters to avoid a nervous breakdown.

You can click here to order my books.

 

(The photo above is a paper typewriter made by Jennifer Collier. She’s a genius.)

Laurali

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Here’s a drawing of my friend Laurali, who lives in Florida. Originally, I wanted to draw Florida scenery growing out of her head, but I couldn’t find any decent photos of oak trees draped with Spanish moss. (When I think of Florida, I don’t think of palm trees. I think of oak trees covered in gray moss. When I was growing up, I spent a lot of summers with my grandparents in Tampa.)

Anyway, after combing through Google Image Search for a few hours, I finally decided to dump the Florida scenery idea and stick a dinosaur and a nutcracker on Laurali’s head instead. And here it is.

My new job is going well. It’s harder work than my previous job, but it’s not nearly as stressful. I spent most of Friday shoveling sludge out of gaps in the floor. And once I had done that, I shoveled the sludge into a big metal box.

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You can click here to order my novels, Citizens of Purgatory and Under the Electric Sun in paperback.

Jessicka

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Here’s a drawing I started last night and finished this morning. It’s a picture of Jessicka, one of my Twitter friends. I enjoyed drawing her because she has thousands of miles of hair. She actually has blue hair, but I didn’t feel like breaking out the colored pencils. Too tedious. Maybe I will later.

Now I’m going to get ready for the ice storm/blizzard that’s supposed to be coming through. I hope you have a great week.

(Both of my novels, Citizens of Purgatory and Under the Electric Sun, are available in paperback now. You can click here to order them.)

Snowbound

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It snowed heavily today. Well, some people might not use the word “heavily,” but we rarely get snow in Georgia, so any amount of snow is a major event. Because the roads were icy and people had a hard time driving, there were traffic jams galore. A lot of people were stranded in their vehicles for hours. And many other people abandoned their vehicles and started walking.

I’m thankful I didn’t have to work today. I didn’t have to get out in it. I mostly stayed home and drew. At one point, I did walk over to the gas station on the corner to buy a phone card. On my way back, I saw people in trucks struggling to drive up the gentle slope in the road nearby. They weren’t able to make it. They kept sliding backwards. I was terrified for them. I helped one lady push her SUV into a ditch — since her tires kept spinning on the ice … and the ditch seemed to be the safest place.

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The other day, my friend Dan (who was my history teacher in high school) came over and brought me a kerosene heater. For some reason, this image (above) popped into my head after he left. This evening, while I was hanging around in my apartment with nothing to do, I sat down and put it on paper. (While watching the Andy Williams Christmas Special from 1967 on YouTube.)

It’s a dog … with Dan’s head … warming himself in front of a heater. I’m hoping to do a better version later, maybe tomorrow if I’m still snowed in.

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NOTE: My novel, Citizens of Purgatory, will be available in paperback soon. In the meantime, you can click here to download the electronic version to your Kindle. Citizens of Purgatory is a novel about the misadventures of Nick, a young sportswriter who doesn’t know anything about sports. Nick’s life turns into a nightmare when an ex-convict crashes into his car one morning.

Citizens of Purgatory

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Nick Youngblood just moved to Moccasin County two years ago. He works as a sportswriter at the local newspaper, even though he doesn’t know anything about sports. He stretches out his articles by using lots of adjectives. Since Nick is relatively new to the small community, he doesn’t know many of the locals yet. One morning, as he drives to work, a wild-eyed stranger crashes into the back of his car. The man identifies himself as Angus Rayburn. After hurling insults at Angus Rayburn in the middle of the highway, Nick learns that Angus is a notorious murderer who only served a brief stint in prison. Nick’s heart is filled with terror when he realizes he’s insulted a very dangerous man. As Nick struggles to cope with the situation, he throws up on a cheerleader at a football game and loses his job with the newspaper. Next, he finds a job at a textile mill, the same place where Angus works. On his first day, Nick encounters Angus in the men’s room. The demented ex-convict pins Nick against the wall and promises to gouge out his eyes if he ever sees him outside the mill. While Nick lives in a constant state of panic, worrying about Angus Rayburn, other fears and frustrations also plague him. He spends countless hours thinking of Ashleigh, a girl who sat in front of him in his high school algebra class. Nick desperately wants to find Ashleigh and marry her. But, most of all, he wants to flee Moccasin County and move back home before Angus cuts out his eyeballs.

Click here to download a copy.

Thanks for reading. I hope you’re having a great week.

 

Miller, Spock, and the Colonel



Here are a few pictures I’ve drawn lately in my Moleskine sketchbook. One is a caricature of Donald Miller, an author I like. The second is Spock from Star Trek and the third is Colonel Sanders. (I drew the Colonel from a black and white photo I found on Google. In all the photos I’ve seen, his face looks different from the illustration you see on the KFC signs.)

I just reformatted and re-uploaded Under the Electric Sun and gave it a new cover. I also finished another book recently, a dark comedy set in Alabama. My friend Hannah is proofreading it right now. I’m planning to upload it to Kindle as soon as she’s finished. I designed a cover for it yesterday afternoon.

Anyway, I’m exhausted. My brain needs to rest now. I feel like a hamster running inside a plastic wheel. For the next several days, I’m not going to write or draw anything. I plan to spend my evenings lying on the couch with the window open, letting a nice breeze blow in on me while I read. I keep buying these cheap paperback novels at the Dollar General, but I haven’t gotten around to reading any of them. It’s time to do that now. I’m also going to do some praying. I haven’t done enough of that lately, but I need to. My relationship with Jesus is the only thing that really keeps me sane.

Hope you have a good week. Thanks for reading. Cheers.

(Oh, I almost forgot. You can click here to download a copy of the book.)

Fake plastic trees

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I stumbled across something today on the internet that delighted me and embarrassed me at the same time. One of my Facebook friends posted a real estate ad for a home in Las Vegas with a luxurious bomb shelter in the basement. The basement is actually an extra house with an “outdoor” area that features artificial grass and trees. I know I sound sick and demented for saying it, but I’ve always been fascinated with fake nature. (I think it started when I was a kid. There were certain rides at Disney World and Epcot that grabbed my imagination and never let go.)

Anyway, the underground bomb shelter with the artificial trees really amazed me because my book Under the Electric Sun is all about a vast bomb shelter beneath the ruins of Washington, DC. The two main characters, Jake and Tristan, often visit a place called Bailey Park — which is a room with a light blue ceiling and fake green grass … and artificial trees everywhere. I’m slightly embarrassed to know that somebody beat me to the idea back in the 1970s. But I’m mostly just thrilled to see photos of the world that I only thought existed in my imagination. If I had $1.7 million, I would buy this place and live in it.

You can click here to read more about the bomb shelter basement. And you can click here to listen to some relaxing music.

 

Flowers

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I don’t think I’ve posted either of these pictures on my blog, so I thought I would share them with you quickly. The first is a drawing of Kelly Clarkson with flowers over her eyes. I drew it from a real photo of her. I think it was taken at a birthday party. The second picture is a colored pencil drawing of a water lily behind the house I stayed in when I visited Germany a long, long time ago.

This week, I’ve been reading over the first draft of my new book and making changes to it. I’m about to step away and do some more editing/re-writing now.

I hope you had a nice weekend.

Late night sketching

My headache went away, so I grabbed a piece of paper and started drawing again. This is a sketch of Myla Laurel. She’s an amazing photographer/blogger who lives in Dubai. This is only a work in progress. I’m going to wait and see what my friend Emma says before I really, truly, officially declare the picture “finished.”

I’m thinking about adding the silhouette of a palm tree in the background, on the right side of the composition, since Myla lives in an exotic part of the world. Not sure yet. I also want to draw my friends Ananya and G.E. Gallas, but I probably need to take a break from all this and sit still for a little while. I need to recharge. I love to draw, but there’s something extremely unhealthy (and draining) about finishing one picture and then staying up all night doing another. I’ve watched the same “Doctor Who” episode about four times tonight. It’s the one I mentioned earlier, with the Russian submarine and the ice warrior. It’s a good one, but it’s getting old.

It’s time to get some sleep now.

(PS – my novel, Under the Electric Sun, is available on Kindle. You can click here to download it.)