One of the best reviews I’ve ever gotten Commune B2 #communeseries #postapocalypse #dystopia

Originally posted on dustysharp.com:

Commune: Book 2 is a remarkable read, and even manages to improve on the solid first book in the series. And that’s a tall order, as that one came charging out of the gates as a fresh, thoughtful take on the post-apaclyptic theme by rookie author Joshua Gayou. With his sophomore effort, Gayou ratchets up the storyline by digging us deeper into the personalities of several of the main characters, while continuing to advance the overall narrative of the “history” of this fictional community of survivors.

Book 2 primarily expands the story of another of the commune’s main characters, who was briefly introduced in the epilogue to the first book. Gibs is a former Marine, and we meet him and his hapless band of misfits as they struggle to survive amid the ruined cities of Colorado. There are several tense, violent, defining moments where hope seems all but lost, but under Gibs’ will and perseverence they manage to press on. Eventually they make their way to the Jackson, Wyoming, and are taken in by the original settlers of the commune (whose establishment was the subject of the first book). Here, the narrative switches from run-and-gun survival against other groups of more ill intent, and settles into a procedural of planning and working toward their long term survival in a more secure, permanent place. There are some interesting solutions to the problems of housing, food, security, and yes even waste disposal. Gayou has thought of everything.

This is where Book 2 continues with the satisfying breadth of theme and subject matter that was initiated in the first installment. Yes, we get plenty of action, plenty of Road Warrior style confrontations with the bad guys. But mixing in a healthy dose of real-world problems, and the clever solutions to them, helps with the immersion into the story. It lends a level of believability that is absent in the more cartoonish, all-gore-and-grim examples in the genre. And, gratefully for this reader, it also infuses an underlying sense of hope to the story. Yes, disasters happen, the group is fraught with setbacks, but ultimately we can see that they’re laying down the groundwork for long term success. We’re rooting for them.

Which isn’t to say the violence and action take a back seat. The story climaxes in an epic road-borne battle that rivals any I’ve read in the genre. This is the set piece that Gibs’ entire story arc has laid the groundwork for. His colorful personality is matched by his battle-toughness, as he leads his ragtag group of scavengers against an overwhelming force of bad guys. Here is the red meat for hard core fans of the genre.

But Gayou’s talent is in weaving the id and the ego. It’s not all just gunfire and explosions. He’s put some real thought into many of the more basic questions of a post-apaclyptic world, and handled those subjects with skill. The aforementioned survival needs, and their solutions, are a case in point. But Gayou throws subjects into the mix that you’d never even think of, then forces his characters to figure out a solution. One such episode features a member of their own group, who goes off the rails in a way that I’ve never seen addressed in a story of this genre. Several themes come together in that one small corner of the story, such as the subject matter itself, the idea that the monsters a group of survivors must face can come from within as well as without, and also the moral struggle to figure out a just solution.

Commune: Book 2, ultimately becomes more than just a post-apocalyptic narrative. It studies themes that break the norms of the genre, and therefore would be a satisfying read for even those who don’t usually read such books. We see deep character studies, watch them grow and develop, some for the good and some not so. Gayou stress-tests them in a wide variety of situations to see what they do. And its fun to watch.

Disclaimer: I was provided an Advanced Reader Copy by the author at no cost. I was only asked for initial feedback, though there was no requirement to post an official review in exchange for the ARC. However, I enjoyed the book so much that I gladly purchased it anyhow, and am proud to offer my thoughts in this review as a verified customer of the book.

Advertisements

Commune Book Two – Progress Update #editing #writing #goodgodletitbeover

slamFirst editing pass is complete on the manuscript.  I’m not sick of the story just yet, which is good, but I soon will be after a few more passes.  Time to send her out to some beta readers now.  Unfortunately, there are few enough of those in my little circle that can read and critique a book in a timely manner – not due to lack of interest, of course.  None of these people actually get paid; they just do it out of the goodness of their hearts.  The thing about being a grownup is that your life is busy as hell.  I’m grateful to the folks who are willing to lend a hand.  To those of my friends lacking the time: I totally get it.  Just buy a copy when it comes out and we’ll call it even 😛

Commune Book Two Progress #apocalypse #amwriting

Well, I crossed the 110K word mark today.  Judging how much there is left in the story to cover for this entry, I’m guessing the final count will be somewhere around 130 to 140K, which is alright with me.  The good news is that I think I can still have it finished by August, but that’s probably only the first draft.  It’ll need to go through a few edits and such.

I didn’t have much of a target length for this book so much as I knew what the plot needed to be and what I wanted to cover.  I’m not sure if I’m surprised or not at the scope of this story.  I knew there were going to be several more people in it, that I’d have to deal a bit more with group dynamics, and that there would need to be some world building due to the fact that we’re now over a half-year into the post apocalypse and the world needs to be getting harder to live in as resources get consumed.

The biggest challenge by far has been keeping myself limited to telling the story in first person from POV characters.  It’s hard because as the writer, I’m aware of everything that’s going on in this world that I’d like to be sharing with you, the reader, and yet I can’t because the perspectives of my characters can’t see much further than the little valley they’ve carved out for themselves.  It’s important that I keep it up at least until the end of this book, though.  The idea that perspective of the narrator shades the story is a big part of what I’m trying to convey in these stories; giving up 1st person would obliterate that intent.

Should you be interested, you can find the first book in the series at this link.  Get yourself up to speed; these stories aren’t slowing down any time soon.

Fun little dialogue exchange I enjoyed writing #conflictresolution #marines #amwriting #postapocalypse

ssgtSSgt Blake “Gibs” Gibson is probably one of my favorite characters I’ve ever written.  Well, “written” may be putting it strongly.  He’s basically just an amalgam of some good friends who picked up a rifle and served.

If you’re ever about to tell one of them, “thanks”, do make sure you’re not being a dick when you do it.

“Easy,” George said.  “Gibs is a Marine Veteran.  He tends to look out for people.  We know this about him.  We’ve all benefited from this attitude many times over, lest any of us forget.  It’s a little disingenuous to start complaining when the very attitude that makes him such an asset in our group gets directed at some strangers in need.”

“Yes, George, that’s all well and good but the fact remains,” Edgar interrupted.  He turned his attention back to me and said, “First off, thank you for your service-“

“Don’t…you…even…try to start in with that line,” I said.

“I beg your pardon?” he asked, genuinely confused.

“That ‘thank you for your service’ bullshit.  It’s what a Vet usually hears right before he’s told that he’s basically wrong and irrelevant.  If someone’s gonna tell me I’m full of shit, I want to hear it outright.  I don’t want to be buttered up with that line.  You know how many times I heard that line right before someone told me in the same breath that I was full of shit and didn’t know what the hell I was talking about?  I’ll give you a hint: it’s like a big, old, sloppy blowjob in your basic, garden variety porn.  It’s foreplay, Edgar, and you’ve just told me that you like it rough.”

Vacations and Book Research #amwriting #postapocalypse #books #fiction

I’ve been on vacation out on Catalina Island for the last week and a half, so I’ve been pretty quiet with the whole on-line thing.  I’ve read this is a big no-no in terms of social media connectivity – you basically have to keep quacking out into the great big empty if you want to keep people engaged.  There is such a thing as decompression, though, dammit.

It’s been good being disconnected.  It’s kind of like when I wrote my first book.  I wasn’t trying to sell anything or engage with anyone.  I was just trying to bang out a good story.  This little media disconnect has taken me back to that early kind of momentum.  This has been good for the second entry in the Commune series; the book currently stands at 91K words with a lot more stuff to cover before it’s done.  I’m still projecting a finish around August (I’d love to have it all done by the time the Audio book for Book One is released), but who the hell knows at this point?  The story has already taken enough unexpected turns that I’m giving up on predicting anything.  I can say with certainty that book two is available well before the end of this year.  As far as the audio for book two?  Eh.  R. C. Bray is a busy dude.  He’ll get to it when schedule permits, I’m sure.

In the meantime, I thought it would be fun to post links to some of the articles and information I dug up while doing research for these books.  There’s a broad array of stuff to cover and still quite a bit more to go.  Never thought I’d know as much as I do about burning poop…

In addition to the below links, I am indebted to a collection of friends who have served in the Military over the years and who have been gracious enough to consider and answer my questions regarding their lives and experiences.  These people include H. S. Brandt (USMC), James R. Clark (US Army), and Brett Nelson (USMC).  All of these folks will get a mention in the coming book; they have been instrumental in this whole process.

Marine/Military Life
http://foreignpolicy.com/2013/01/04/were-getting-out-of-the-marines-because-we-wanted-to-be-part-of-an-elite-force-2/
https://www.mca-marines.org/leatherneck/lingo/b
https://undertheradar.military.com/2015/05/37-been-there-done-that-nicknames-for-military-gear/
http://www.leatherneck.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-98713.html

Weaponry
https://www.botach.com/pws-mk1-mod2-long-stroke-piston-rifle-5-56mm-18-bbl/
https://tacmedaustralia.com.au/graphic-grisly-effects-high-velocity-gunshot-wound-leg/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/5.56%C3%9745mm_NATO#Improvements
https://deserttech.com/product_overview.php?product_id=2&load=product_overview
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heckler_%26_Koch_HK416

Logistics
http://www.alu.army.mil/alog/issues/SepOct01/MS673.htm
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Classes_of_supply
http://www.thesurvivalistblog.net/dealing-with-human-waste-and-hygiene/
https://dmna.ny.gov/foodservice/docs/Field_Sanitation_Team_Certification_Course/Instructor_Manual/L006LP_Waste_Disposal_LP.pdf