Friday, March 16, 2018

Guest Post with X. Culletto

Photo Content from X. Culletto

Xela Culletto loves all genres, but especially loves to geek out to sci-fi and fantasy. She currently lives in Utah with her husband and three children.

Print Length: 205 pages
Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1973108321
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Publication Date: November 4, 2017
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
Language: English
ASIN: B0776FPK25

Without a doubt, the protagonist, Rhyan. As I was writing, it didn’t feel like I was creating her, but rather that she was telling me her story. I was surprised at how much spunk she had--right from the start.

There is a scene near the opening of the story where she comes across another post-apocalyptic survivor who grudgingly helps her. One of my beta readers insisted that Rhyan needed to be grateful for the help, rather than sarcastic and hostile, but I ended up keeping the scene as it was, because that is who Rhyan is. She has an edge that may put some readers off, but that edge is what allows her to survive for so long in such a dangerous world.

Another thing I like about Rhyan is that she doesn’t get distracted by the opposite sex. Though there are interested parties, she doesn’t let the idea of romance cloud her head. She’s a lot like Katniss in that way.

In many ways, Rhyan embodies a lot of what I lack, which is the great thing about writing--I get to create characters who have strengths where I am weak, and live vicariously through them. Maybe my next series will be about a space-travelling billionaire….


Here’s a short excerpt from Chapter 5. I hope you find it intriguing.

It was dark, but there was noise.

Was someone banging pots and pans around?

Zach shifted restlessly in the cramped space, hands clenched around a baseball bat. An especially loud bang made him jump. It had to be pots and pans. But who would be in the kitchen?

His breath came quick and heavy; his muscles were taut.

Suddenly, a loud shout.

Zach burst from the bedroom closet to find Dad—he needed help!

But he never made it out of his room.

I woke with a lurch, heart pounding. Darkness surrounded me. I gasped for breaths and tried to orient myself.

I was in a bear den. I was alone. I wasn’t in the cave because.… They killed Meg!

After that nightmare, I wouldn’t have thought there would be room for any more anguish, but somehow another morsel wormed its way in. I didn’t even try to fight it. Misery was my life.

My throat felt like it had been scraped down with sandpaper. Aliens or no, I needed water.

I got up, noting that my muscles weren’t even stiff. I must’ve only been asleep for a moment. Edging out of the den, I underestimated the height of the entrance and dirt clods fell into my hair.

Once free, I filled my lungs deeply, enjoying the clean air, then tried to shake the dirt off. Knife at the ready, I prowled through the night.

The creek was closer than I’d remembered. The sound of rushing water deepened my thirst, and unconsciously I began jogging. When it came into view I threw myself onto the bank and slurped without even an attempt at civility.

It took a good while, but finally my body was satisfied. I sat back, covered from shirt to boots in mud, and looked around. Nothing was out of the ordinary. The stars were sparkling and the forest was keeping its secrets hidden.

I didn’t want to go back to the den. There was no way I would be able to sleep now and even if I could have, the nightmares would be back.

And then I would be reliving it all. Again.

Remembering how I had come home, carrying in stolen milk.

Seeing Dad on the kitchen floor.

Finding Zach in the bedroom.

Imagining how it must have happened.

I couldn’t bear it.

Our city had been one of the first invaded. We’d had no warning. Most people had no warning. Finding Dad and Zach had put me on my guard pretty quick. That’s when I began keeping knives—the first, our kitchen butcher knife. It had saved me more than once.

Of course, there’d been the uninterrupted news coverage when the scientists had first discovered the approaching ships. The constant attempts at communication. The echo of silence.

Then, the world had gone mad.

Religions declared the end of the world; atheists began praying; people walked around openly armed—as young as gradeschool kids; then came the looting, the pillaging, the eye-for-an-eye ideology; world leaders pleaded for order, then disappeared; the police lasted longer, but not by much; schools closed; stores closed; gas stations closed; the only thing open was the churches, which became flooded with people; some went into hiding, many committed suicide; most hunkered down with their families.

Which was what we’d done. There were still times—lots of times, truthfully—that I wished I hadn’t left for milk that day. That I’d shared in their fate.

But when I’d seen that first alien—face to face, only hours later that same day—reflex kicked in and I’d attacked without even considering otherwise. The butcher knife proved itself.

I outlasted so many.

Outlasted only to end up here, sitting on a mudbank, too afraid to sleep.

● 75% of the plot for Girl Vs was developed in one night as I was falling asleep.
● The cover was developed before the novel was finished. The artist put Rhyan on a motorcycle, so I had to add in a scene including it.
● I toyed with the idea of using real cities, but in the end decided to keep to keep the places fictional.
● My beta readers urged me to change the coyote attack scene to a wolf attack scene because they thought coyotes was too unrealistic, but coyotes have actually been known to attack in groups. I thought wolves was too cliche. Plus, wolves generally live in wooded areas, not plains.
● When introducing new characters, I never spend much time deciding on their names. Generally I go with the first one that pops into my head.
● The character of Claire was created after the first couple of drafts to give Rhyan someone other than herself to care for and fight for.
● The only reason I know what a kama knife is is because my son recently started TaeKwonDo. They’re wicked-looking knives that I thought would go perfectly in this world.
● Liam, the nosy nurse, is a lot more like me than I care to admit.
● The design for the aliens came to me when I visited the local zoo that was putting on a display of giant animated bugs. They had a huge, 8-foot-tall praying mantis that looked so alien-like I had to use it.
● This is a planned duology, and the plot for the sequel is so thrilling I can’t wait to release it! So many good ideas have been coming that I think it’s going to be my best book yet.

Before the Vela invasion, Rhyan's biggest concern was getting through a day of school. But when she is thrust into the madness of a kill-or-be-killed world, her true strength emerges and a deadly warrior is unleashed. Stumbling through the new morals of a post-apocalyptic world, she learns to depend only on herself. As she gets closer to discovering what the aliens actually want, her lethality becomes unmatched, and she soon learns the extent she'll go to in order to survive.
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