The Underneath Part 2

The second part of “The Underneath” is posted. Enjoy! Please be advised the the below portion is just a portion. To read the full segment, go to Endever’s blog.

“Attention, attention,” the principal starts. Not surprisingly it takes everyone at least six minutes to actually give their full attention. Teachers from all over the room scramble to demand their students’ due respect for Principal Newhouser. Finally the principal speaks over the commotion. “I know it is tempting, especially now, to engage with your mobile devices, but I ask for at least ten minutes of your attention.” Only a few students using their devises take this threat seriously and put their phones away, which Cameron finds amusing.

“As you may have heard, there is a countrywide threat that has presented itself through several known attacks on several major cities,” Newhouser states, as officially as he can. Hungry for the latest, the students now direct their attention to him. “For any of you who have loved ones in any of the affected cities, my sincere prayers for their safety is extended to you. Rest assured that-”

Suddenly the ground and the chair underneath Cameron gives and the entire student body screams in terror as the lights flicker then burn out. The auditorium stills as quickly as it moved. Screams echo from all around and the auditorium is dimly lit by the blue and white glow coming from everyone’s phones.

Principal Newhouser’s voice can barely be heard through the speakers ordering everyone to stay calm and to not panic. But now even the teachers are ignoring him and poring over their devices. Cameron hears determined protests from people all around him saying they’re going home, and before he knows it, everyone is on their feet making a rush toward the Exit signs. A blow horn sounds, probably from one of the faculty members trying to get the students to settle down, but it goes unheard.

Trying to stay on his feet amidst the mob, Cameron pulls out his phone to text his sister, but it says there’s no signal. He pockets it and begins yelling her name, but his efforts are futile. He can’t even hear his own voice above the commotion. He’s determined to get to her before her boyfriend and his gang talk her into running off with them. She resents it, but ever since their parents achieved their fame and success, he’s had to become a surrogate father to her. If anything happens to Lisa, it’s on him, and he’ll be damned if he lets that happen.

The parking lot is a total disaster as students rush to get out of the school. It’s worse than Black Friday at the mall. Cameron notices the sirens have stopped, but it’s eerily dark out even though the nearest clouds are a long way off. He also notices that there are no shadows on the ground. He glances up at the sun and it looks no different.

Read the rest here.

 

 

What Makes “The Walking Dead” So Great?

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I know I’m late in the game by about six years, but thanks to Netflix I just got hooked on The Walking Dead. I don’t know why I’ve put it off for so many years, to tell  the truth. I like zombies, I adore suspense… maybe because I have yet to watch a major drama series that’s held my attention for more than a few seasons… I still haven’t finished Lost.

But, crap, I’m a couple of episodes into season 2 of TWD, and I am severely impressed, and officially hooked. The tension is thick enough for me to have to swim if I need to get up for a potty break. The character development is spot on, the pacing is never too slow or too fast.

But what makes the show great isn’t the gore or the horrific monsters wandering the earth. In fact, that’s probably why I’ve put the show off for so long, because I’m easily turned off by gore and blood and guts. And this show has tons of it, mind you. But I realized that it’s never there just for show. It’s there to serve a purpose for the greater story, and it serves it well. The way a war movie has plenty of guts and intestines in order to highlight the gravity of the war’s hell.

But what makes TWD captivating and a well-baited fish hook, is the show’s vast dynamics of characters. Each person from a different walk of life, contributing to a different demographic, representing different beliefs about God and the world as they know it.

No one is completely good or completely bad.

They’re all human. And they’re all just trying to survive this plague.

Sarabeth and I were just discussing the other night, what’s more important in a story? The plot or the characters?

I believe it’s the plot that reels us in. It’s the characters that keep us there. So they are both equally important.

As with The Walking Dead, I want to see how these characters will cope with the travesties heaped on them and how their relationships with one another will either strengthen or break them apart.

Are there any other Walking fans? Am I in for a continual good time to the end? And as you watch or read your favorite stories, ask yourself, “What is keeping me hooked?” Is it the story or is the characters?

Read the first installment of the exciting new serial blog: The Underneath

New Serial Novel: “The Underneath”

Be advised that this is a condensed version. To read the segment in full, click here.

Endever Publishing Studios presents

The Underneath: Part 1

Written by Coral Rivera and Andrew Toy

It’s heavily overcast, the clouds an inky black…he’s never heard sirens sound like this before. It’s a high-pitched whistle as well as a deep reverberating humming that he can almost feel under his feet. The sound comes from all around him.

The air is oddly still, but he figures the wind will kick up soon enough. He walks toward the horse pen and pets Kiss on the snout. She’s snorting and huffing more than usual, but that’s understandable with the sirens being as loud as they are. God, they’re getting louder. He almost has to cover his ears.

He watches as a hawk circles above several yards away and eventually swoops down to snatch its prey. It darts back up over the road that leads to his home and Kyle can see a mouse’s tail swooshing wildly in the bird’s beak.

Kiss just keeps shaking her head, snorting loudly and viciously. “What’s the matter, girl?” Kyle asks, trying to pet the long nose.

But Kiss does not calm down. She stomps her front hooves, kicking dust up all around them. Then without warning, she takes off running around the pen like a dog set free.

Suddenly the ground shifts under Kyle’s Converse and he has to catch himself. There’s a deep rumble in the earth as the entire countryside tremors as though the earth just got itself into a fender bender, or else the ground underneath just had an upset stomach. Either way, it’s enough to make Kyle have to regain his balance. Kiss stumbles, but continues her stride.

Silence fills the air.

It is utter and complete silence. No birds sing. There’s no breeze. And the sirens have stopped. A ghostly eeriness threatens to take hold as the clouds darken up above. There is still no wind, and even though it’s midmorning, it’s dark enough to be getting on midnight.

A sinking feeling pokes Kyle’s stomach, but he dismisses it as just immature paranoia. Tomorrow, after the storm blows over, the sun will shine and the neighbors will swap their storm stories with one another about how they had to live on their generators all day and how cleaning up the debris will set them back a day.

He turns his attention back to the hawk, gliding higher and higher with its prey clenched in its beak. Then suddenly, as though hitting a ceiling, it descends toward the earth. It doesn’t swoop down in one majestic motion like it had before. Instead, it’s falling clumsily to the earth like a rock. There was no gunshot, nothing. It’s as if the bird just stopped working altogether and now it’s falling as though some kid dropped a stuffed bird out of a plane.

Kyle furrows his brow and directs his attention out across the sea of grass. A few of the metal bars that holds up the fencing have been slightly bent, now leaning instead of standing erect.

He decides to go into the nearby town to pick up a shovel from the hardware store to fix the pen…He locks Kiss up in the barn, grabs the keys to his truck, hops in, and hopes to hell he makes it back before it starts coming down.

He slows his truck when he passes the fallen hawk and sees no abnormal abrasions. It lies stiff on the side of the road, its wings still spread as though posing for a picture for a museum brochure. In its beak the mouse still squirms and fights to get loose from its clenched beak, scratching the ground as though running in place.

 

READ THE FULL SEGMENT HERE

The Pixar Challenge

EdCatmull_lores“Good artists borrow, great artists steal,” is a motto Steve Jobs lived by.

As a business owner, I see myself as an artist because I’m creating something from nearly nothing.

But artists still need inspiration. Filmmakers need a camera. Animators need a pencil or a computer. Sculptors need clay. And painters need landscapes or models.

But all artists need inspiration. Without it, nothing could be created.

My inspiration as the founder of a publishing studio is an animation studio located 2,307 miles away. My inspiration comes from Pixar Animation Studios, namely the founder and owner Ed Catmull.

Millions of people watch Pixar movies every year and even study the studio from a business standpoint and ask, “How do they do it?”

It’s no secret. Mr. Catmull was gracious enough to provide many answers to both artists and businesspeople through his ingenious book, Creativity, Inc.

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In the book, Catmul is open and honest about his and Pixar’s mistakes along the way to success and even after. His thesis is that creativity is found in people, not just ideas—a revelation I’m still trying to wrap my mind around.

So how, as a fledgling company, can Endever Publishing Studios mimic a multi-million-Screen Shot 2016-07-03 at 10.58.49 AMdollar animation studio?

By their principles, for one. Pixar Animation gives their employees the freedom to express themselves and their ideas. They’re not hammered down by corporate policies and suits and ties. There are channels set in place for them to go through, but the channels are designed within the studio to be an asset to success, not a barrier, as most companies have it.

Their work ethic for another. I don’t mean just following the rules, but I mean going abovePresto_poster and beyond to win the trust and approval of their audiences (or customers). One example of this is by their short films they release along with every feature film they produce. Prior to (and excluding) the DVR releases of Pixar’s short films, they make virtually no money on their short films. They’re also in production to help aspiring artists and directors spread their wings in preparation for full-length features.

And lastly, but not conclusively, Endever Publishing Studios attempts to mimic Pixar’s storytelling techniques. This is critical seeing that Endever is in the business of storytelling. We are a studio that refuses to release ordinary material. I’m sure we’ll make mistakes in this regard, but we have a system that we are building from within to make the storytelling process as airtight and flawless as possible.

Catmull, in his book, even takes the liberty to give the readers a sneak-peak inside one of Pixar’s “Braintrust” sessions where the storytellers argue and analyze and hash out idea after idea after idea to extract exactly the feelings and thoughts they’re trying to convey to the audience. The process is rigorous, and even draining. But it’s a worthy expedition as Pixar makes films that not only entertain but that enlighten, affect, and even change lives.

It’s a wonder to me that no other businesses that I know of is following Pixar’s model. The leader of one of the greatest companies in the world has literally given us the answer sheet on how to run a successful business, how to begin the process of creating paramount and original stories, yet Dreamworks isn’t pulling the brakes on their mediocre creative factory to regroup, managers aren’t saying, “How can I make my employees feel enabled and motivated?”

If that’s happening, I don’t know about it.

I take Ed Catmull’s book as a challenge to the rest of us. A challenge to step up our game in both the creative and the business worlds. I want to be like Ed. I want my company to be like Pixar. I vow to keep my employees happy and make them feel enabled and that they have much to contribute to the company. I vow to not release a book or any published material produced by Endever until it is something that we believe will not only satisfy immediate readers but will withstand the test of time.

Consider me the first to accept the Pixar Challenge. Will you, as an artist or a business owner or manager, join me?

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Title Reveal for Endever’s Serial Blog

A few days ago I announced the release of a serial blog that will be released this Monday, August 1st.

Beyond building a readership to draw attention to Endever before releasing our debut novels later this year, we’ve decided to give our authors a chance to shine prior to their book releases.

They will be contributing to an ever-growing story with an ever-growing cast of colorful characters. A divorced lawyer-turned-ranch handler, a mother and daughter struggling to make ends meet and stay out of trouble, high school siblings whose wealthy parents have all but abandoned them, and many more.

Though they are scattered throughout the world, they all share one common goal: end-is-near

The fragile desire to survive the end of civilization as we know it.

When the world jolts on August First, no one has any idea that ordinary life has come to an abrupt end.

At first the decline is subtle. Faltering phone connections, weak internet signals.

And then it seems to all happen at once. Random airplane explosions, collapsing mountains. No more sun. No more rain.

In this altered world, survival is essential, it is not instinct. 

On August First, on Endever’s blog, dare to explore “THE UNDERNEATH.” 

Writers: Don’t Forget the Sugar

My favorite drink of all time.

It can be ordered at a bar or you can make it yourself.

Drink too much of it and you can get too sick to move. Refrain from drinking it at all and you could suffer major health issues.

I require it every time I come home from work, or home from a walk in the hot sun, or after playing with the kids, or even waking up in a sweat in the middle of the night.

There are three ingredients: Water, ice, and a squirt of lemon.

I have nothing against alcohol – I just don’t like it. I’ve tried whiskey, bourbon, beer and we now have several half-full bottles in the kitchen. Just doesn’t measure up to my taste buds.

I do enjoy a cold V-8 or a glass of milk. I even love bloody Mary – virgin, of course.

But just give me a cold glass of water with lemon and I’m all set. alkaline-lemon-water

But forget the lemon and I just might throw the water in your face. That’s just nasty. It’s like nonfat ice cream, or sugarless gum. What’s the point?

Most writers can tell a basic story. Introduction, conflict, resolution, the end. Easy. But what about the lemon? What about the stuff that makes the banal taste of water sweet (or sour)? What about the flavor?

Are you taking your story one step higher to add that touch of emotion, or comedy, or deeper insight into your characters? Don’t give your readers sugarless candy. Deliver the goods.

Give us a reason to relate to your character by cleverly providing a backstory.

Give us reason to find your characters’ departure from each other heartbreaking.

If you have a comic relief, don’t recycle old jokes you’ve heard elsewhere before. Be original. Give us fresh, new material that we can enjoy.

A Love Letter to Disney

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A while back I wrote a love letter to Pixar Animation Studios. I’ll never forget watching my viewership skyrocket that week. What was that all about? A couple of weeks later I received an email from Pixar Headquarters thanking me for my post and saying that it’s been making the rounds in the studio. Imagine that! I forget how long I cried. (The picture to the left is during the hysterics.) But the thing that made me happiest was knowing that the hard workers at the studio caught a tiny glimpse of joy they bring to our lives on a regular basis.

Yesterday Disney released the international trailer for their highly anticipated and surefire record-breaker, Moana. Take a second and watch it. I’ve watched it about nine times now and I still get chills.

It’s safe to say that Disney is on par with Pixar. After Wreck-it Ralph, Big Hero 6, Zootopia, and most likely Moana, we just need to stop denying it.

They bring a class and beauty to the world that we’ve all but forgotten. In our hurried and messy lives, Disney movies have a way of, I don’t know, restoring order. Even if it’s just the illusion of restoration – or better yet, the hope of restoration.

Their movies are not devoid of evil and chaos and bitterness and jealousies. And their resolutions aren’t as cookie-cutter as they used to be. Disney’s movies sell you on cute, sure, but they deliver on substance and depth.

I mean, how gut-wrenchingly hard is it to watch Hiro release Baymax into the Unknown? If that doesn’t tear you apart, I question your mortality. Not only is their attention to detail and vivid color out of this world, but almost every note strikes a cord with something deep inside us.

Why?

Because they take beauty to the extreme. They push the bounds of reality and expose us to a world of bliss and hope.

Like Pixar, they no longer make movies for kids. Their movies address us adults just as profoundly. Zootopia reminds me that even if I achieve my dreams, my story doesn’t stop and the struggles will keep coming.

Wreck-it Ralph delivers the hard message that I’ve been dealt my cards and I need to figure out how to make the best of it.

Frozen sings about letting go. Big Hero 6 shows us how to do it.

Thank you Disney, for the work and painstaking efforts you infuse in your movies. You have the challenge of not just catering to one specific audience, but to literally every single demographic. And you pull it off with class and style and unimaginable beauty.

I believe Disney movies do make the world a better place, even if it’s just a little. They bring families together. A reason for parents to take the kids out. They provide contexts for us to talk about serious things with our kids. They give us parents footing to address things such as good byes, racism, bullying, sibling rivalry, and my favorite: You don’t have to be a jerk just because you’re popular (Fix it Felix, Jr.).

I know there’s people out there who don’t watch Disney or Pixar movies just because they’re cartoons. I pity those people. They’re missing out on some of the greatest filmmaking in the history of film.

Thank you Disney, for all that you do. Keep at it, and we’ll see you in November!

For more on Disney check out

Baseball and Disney

and One of the Greatest Companies in the World.

 

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