Instinct Rising (Amazon Contest Entry)
Okay! Here's the first introduction of Instinct Rising, a novel that's been three and a half years in the running that's DONE. *whew* So I figured I'd share a sneak peak, as well as give the hook.
First round of judging is SOLELY on the pitch, in 300 words or less. I'll be competing against 5,000 other pitches. So....
This needs to be good. That said, here's my pitch.
"Instinct Rising is the brutally honest and intricate recollections of Croy Gilder, who tells the story of his transformation into a werewolf and the lust and aggression he struggles with in a true and hardened teenage point of view. His story is also told in part with five other characters who each have detailed backgrounds that intertwine with Croy’s experiences that range from the risqué, humorous, heartbreaking, and violent. It defies genre cliché in many ways while still maintaining the staples of the field in a 124, 000 word novel.
Croy lives in the heart of Texas hill country, living all but alone with his mother in a home on the edge of town. When the trauma of a car accident becomes the catalyst for Croy’s transformation, things begin to unravel. Croy starts hearing thoughts of rage and desire in his head. Dogs snarl as he walks by. He begins to scare people through his angry outbursts. As Croy starts to questions his sanity, strangers intrude on his life and antagonize, before finally driving him over the edge as he first shifts into his animal form. One such stranger is Janise, a wild and bawdy werewolf girl who vows to take Croy for her own love and pleasure as he copes with his new abilities. Janise tries to break Croy of his human psyche and ideals, as well as his current infatuation with another girl, but her own way of free-living, as well as her family issues, begin to wear her down, and she questions her own intentions as she realizes just how much she’s destroying Croy’s dwindling innocence. When a tragic death destroys any peaceful solutions, Croy’s anger and Janise’s angst clash in a snarling brawl as mistakes and truths are finally realized."
Alright, after this a 3,000 to 5,000 word excerpt is judged. The one I'm posting is 4,400 hundred words. A lot, I know. It's the introduction and part of the first chapter, but it was the only thing I could make work. See if it ENTICES.
Oh, and a lot of the formatting will be funky... MS Word is not ctrl-v friendly.
Introduction: The Catalyst
Oh. Got your attention there, didn’t I?
Your parents say you’re too young to be thinking about it, but you still do.
You contemplate when, where, how, and with who. It’s only natural. You’ve
gotten over your shyness of the other sex at this point in your life. But
always, your parents and the school system are telling you to stop and think.
Be responsible. They give the population seminars on why you shouldn’t do it.
There’s nasty stuff out there. You’re not emotionally matured to understand
the vast commitment that comes with intimacy. You’ll end up with a kid.
All valid points I heeded. I was certainly good about keeping a chain on myself
in those days where I lived under a single roof and slept in a bed every night.
Whether it was because of the warnings, or because I was simply too lazy to
go up to a girl and try for it, is up for grabs. I wasn’t exactly a super-stud,
but then again, the thought of someone as socially awkward as I was running
around in a diaper was an unattractive thought.
But imagine a world where all the nasty things you might catch don’t exist.
Think on the idea where the emotional commitment is all but eradicated,
because casual sex is was no more a taboo indulgent than ice cream.
Oh, and as for the kids thing? Imagine if conception could only happen one
day out of a whole month. How would that also change your hesitation
It’d change a lot, methinks.
But hold on. There’s a catch. Isn’t there always? What if right alongside these
freedoms of pleasure was something more ominous, something that would
threaten to overcome and override all rational thinking at the slightest
provocation? This addition to your psyche would cause you to do violent and
horrible things if it got too out of hand. It would constantly bring thoughts of
murder and malice to mind…
So what if your lust for the people around you was only matched by the
constant rage and aggression that constantly bordered your subconscious?
Would you make that sacrifice? Would you take on that aggression for the
sake of promiscuity? Or would you rather keep your sanity and hold tight to a
single loved one you kept yourself pure for?
Is this a choice you find tempting or revolting? Personally, I would have found
it disgusting. I would have wanted control over my body, thoughts, and
urges. I wanted to do things the traditional way. First date. Second date.
First kiss. On and on until a night beneath the covers. Before or after
marriage? I suppose it would have been up to her. I was much too pathetic to
make the bold move myself…
Well, it doesn’t matter anymore. As it turns out, the choice wasn’t up to me.
Being the bastard son of a werewolf doesn’t leave a lot of choices to the
offspring, as it turns out.
So with that said, I’ll start this as simply as I can…
It all started with a car wreck about two weeks before the beginning of
my senior year in high school. The mental and emotional trauma of the
accident would start my first transformation. I was lucky to be alive… or so I
There are many things one can do while driving. It’s a common thing to multitask while behind the wheel of the car. But if the car has a stick shift, you’re speeding, and you’re trying to eat a drooping and soggy hotdog…
Well, that better be one tasty hotdog.
But to be honest, it was. I loved it when Mom sent me out to get food for the
two of us. That meant that I got to pick what I wanted. Joe Dogs was the
place I always went. They had the greatest chili-dogs in Texas hill country,
honest. So even though I missed Mom’s home cooking, seeing as she was
always driving around a truck for a living, I was still alright with heading out to
indulge in those heart clogging treats.
It may seem odd that that my mother did the kind of job that usually brought
beer bellied or ominous looking men in cowboy boots to mind, but that was
what she did, and she did it well. It paid the bills, seeing as there was no
other man in the house to do so. And that was the life of a two member
family: a little bit quiet, a little bit lonely, and a little bit busy in terms of
keeping a home intact.
Anyhow, back to eating messy meals while driving through traffic
bottlenecked through construction. Not a good idea. I found it very hard not
to let any of the food spill over on the inside of my car, and I was getting
frustrated with the effort. Take a bite. Burn my tongue. Mentally flip off the
couple in the open top roadster who had just cut me off. Lick a piece of chili
from my chin before it rolled onto my shirt or the floor boards.
I guess speeding was a big factor in it all, but when you have a SS El
Camino, it’s hard not to. Yeah it looked crazy with that truck/car design, and
my particular specimen wasn’t too kosher, what with the mismatched panels
and missing front bumper. But last I checked looks did nothing to dampen the
power of that sweet 350 V8 underneath the hood.
You could hear the horsepower in this baby.
But it’s hard to keep any resemblance to what might be considered actual
driving while trying to fill your stomach and shift down, so I finally gave up on
the hotdog and set it down on the passenger seat just as I started getting
into the thick of the traffic mess. There was a busy highway intersection
coming up, and it was being obscured by brown dust that whipped up from all
the construction. A new overpass was being erected in the growing city.
That damned traffic light was red at first, but Lady Luck seemed to smile at
me as the light turned green. Grinning at the light and the empty lane in front
of me, I shifted and sped up. I felt good. I felt good like any other kid
wrapping up his summer to start his senior year in high school should have
Then Lady Luck bent me over backwards and screwed me sideways.
A humongous blue pickup ran its red light and filled my windshield. A Dodge.
My heart skipped more than a few beats when I saw this monstrosity, which
belched black smoke from its smoke stacks as it drove. The truck was the
kind you saw at tractor pulls and truck rallies. If you got your car stuck in the
mud, you called the driver of this truck. From the forty inch tires to chrome
pipe roll-cage covering every edge of the truck, this thing was boss wherever
But I was too terrified to admit it at the time. I was just wondering if the
driver would register his tires rolling over my car as an accident or simply a
speed bump. Not wanting to find out, I jerked the El Camino right and barely
missed the pickup, clipping the trailer hitch of the Dodge monster with my
mirror. My car slid on the dirt from the construction and smashed into the construction site, slamming through the wooden barriers. My windshield
cracked and the dirt and colors around me swirled like smoke under a street
I slammed the car into a concrete curb, flipping it with a lurch and a jarring
boom. The car was a tornado of debris, glass, and metal as it rolled over and
over. I think I rolled two times… or maybe three. I’m not really sure on
account of my head smashing into the window. Plus the hotdog splattered
against my arm. That distracted me too I guess... It stained my favorite shirt.
Then everything slowed down for a second. I was sideways, and my face
pressed against the twisted frame of the car. I moaned and looked out where
the windshield once sat and tried to focus on the horizon of trees in front of
me. But the horizon shifted as my car lost its precarious balance and landed
right-side-up on its ruined frame. I knocked my head one last time into the
cracked, and somewhat bloodied, window.
My mind blank with shock, I attempted to open the door and get out of the
newly formed piece of scrap metal that I was sitting in. I could feel bits of
glass digging in my arm. I tried sliding out, but the door only opened halfway,
and something was holding me back. The steering wheel was also jammed
against my stomach, having been wrenched from its usual position by the
ravished frame. Yet I struggled and pushed forward anyways in a blind and
I felt blood running down my face.
“Hey! Here, take it easy. It’s your seatbelt. Lemme’ un do it…” a voice said. I
felt a tug on the belt, but I didn’t even care. The man’s volume drove into my
skull like a bullet. I really wished he would be quiet. My head was killing me
and his voice was nothing short of annoying. Really nasally.
“Don’t touch him!” an even louder, female voice said, “He might have neck
injuries! Just leave him there until the paramedics get here.”
“HEY KID? ARE YOU OKAY?” another voice yelled. It had been the loudest
voice yet. It pissed me off because it was doing nothing but worsening an
already bad headache. Just because I was hurt, bleeding, and stuck in a
crumpled car, it didn’t mean I was deaf.
So I lost it.
“Shut up!” I hollered, “What kind of a question is that! Of course I’m not okay!
Look at me! Are you stupid?”
I undid my seatbelt and slid out. I groaned as nausea overwhelmed me, and I
tried to struggle to my own two feet. I grabbed the door to help myself up
and was rewarded with a sliced hand from the jagged glass. I cried out and
everyone jumped and moved towards me.
It was just not my day apparently.
“Kid! Just be still,” a woman in a red shirt hollered. Again, they were shouting.
Did an intense situation prescribe shouting like tetanus prescribed a shot to
the ass? Last I checked, yelling helped my condition just as much as it helped
yelling at someone who didn’t speak the same language.
“No. Get off me!” I snarled. I stood and shoved the lady off me. Leaning
against the car, I looked out towards the highway, searching for the ones
responsible for the mess, “Where is it?”
Everyone around me looked blankly at the other. There was a construction
worker, the woman in the red shirt, and a balding man in a sweater vest.
For some odd reason, I felt like suddenly punching that guy in the face.
Seriously. A sweater vest. What kind of an idiot wears a sweater vest in
The lady placed her palms out to me soothingly. Or at least she meant it that
way. It just made me more mad. I didn’t want to be comforted and soothed. I wanted the head of the blue pickup’s driver on a stake.
“Just stay calm. You’ve been in a terrible wreck and-“
“Well aren’t you the detective of the century!” I snapped, “Now just tell me
where it went! The truck!”
“The… truck?” she asked.
“THE TRUCK!” I screamed. My vision blurred as I took a step towards her,
“The blue truck that ran me off the road! The truck with tires the size of
ALABAMA! Did you not see it? How could you not see IT!”
Sirens approached. Someone must have called the ambulance. I sighed,
closing my eyes. The construction worker took my arm and tried to sit me
down, but I shoved him off me too. Again, I didn’t need help. I needed to
figure out where that blue truck was. I needed to find out who drove the
damned thing. I needed to find out if I was still strong enough to wrangle the
“Sir, you need to just calm-“
“I don’t need to be calm! I need to find that blue truck, find the idiot that was
driving it, and tear his throat out through his ASS! What do you not
understand about that? Now get off me, before I rip you a new one instead!”
Everyone took a step back at that little outburst. In a way, I did too. The
looks on their faces made me lose all the anger I’d built up as I recognized the
all too human emotion of shock and fear. They were afraid of me for some
reason. I looked at myself and I realized I was shaking and quivering.
Adrenaline? Fury? I couldn’t tell. I walked backwards to my car and leaned
Where had all that come from? I looked back at the people in front of me.
They were staring uneasily at me, but with good reason. I was even afraid of
myself at that moment. I wasn’t afraid of what I had said, but that I had
meant what I said. I honestly considered whaling out on that man who had
gotten close to me. I had been that furious… That was moment was
thankfully gone, though. And I didn’t want to hurt anyone anymore. They
were just trying to help. Bystanders. Innocent bystanders.
Yet... I still felt a blood lust for those responsible for my now ruined car, a
murderous, evil blood lust. That scared me...
I stared out over the roads before me. Heat waves rose from the pavement. I
sighed, starting to sweat with the heat and sudden rush of adrenaline to my
body. I looked back at the bystanders. Some were standing off uneasily,
wanting to help, but not wanting to... get eaten, I guess. And others were
getting back into their cars and driving away.
A ringing buzz filled my head. It ached. But the previous rage had completely
left me, and I was calm for the moment. It also had left me confused and
worried. That person… That thing that had risen up had not been me. It
couldn’t have been me. I would have never thought things like that.
“Hey. Kid. Are you okay?”
I turned at the re-asked question. That time it was a paramedic. His white
gloves stuck to his skin with perspiration. His bag was on the ground next to
him and he had a penlight in one hand. This time the question didn’t piss me
off as much as last time.
“I-…Yes. I’m fine,” I answered, not too sure all of a sudden.
“Alright then. Well, just relax for a minute. Try not to blink,” he said as he
shined the light in my eyes, presumably to check for a concussion. But as I
began to feel a sudden headache drill and dig into my skull like a steam
powered worm, I figured I could have just told him I had one. “Can you tell me
“Croy Gilder,” I said. That light was unbelievably bright. I did blink a lot,
despite his request.
“Good. That’s real good. Just hang tight and we’ll get you loaded up.
Everything’s gonna’ be all right. Do you have a number we can call? Your
I nodded and gave him the house number. As they loaded me onto a stretcher
and recorded everything down, I got a feeling that, in fact, nothing was going
to be alright. I felt like something was amiss. Or, that something was there
that hadn’t previously existed. I just felt… wrong somehow.
I was right in thinking that.... Damn. Looking back from where I am as I write
this, I realize I had been so damn right thinking that. It was the only thing I
can see now that I had been solidly certain about, and for good reason.
Nothing was going to be alright for a long time.
The aggression marked the beginning of a terrible transformation that had just
And there are some things that you just can’t stop.
Chapter 1: The Ram
I twirled the screwdriver in between my fingers, staring at the source of
my hate for the moment. I say, “For the moment”, because I was starting to find that I hated quite a few things. I hated them in way I hated sweater-vest guy; I couldn’t place the reason. Where there had been nothing before,
there was criticism and frustration at every single damn thing around me.
And that was just the beginning, of course. It’s always just the “beginning”.
For instance, a week after the wreck I had a run in with a clerk in the meat
section of the supermarket. The last gashes from the wreck had suddenly
healed up, and Mom considered me fit to let me out of the house while she
was gone. So I had walked a few miles into town and stopped at the first grocery store I could find.
I had a sudden urge to purchase meat. I didn’t want sandwich material, and I
didn’t want microwave meals. I wanted to get some raw meat and brown it on
a hot, steaming skillet.
As I picked up a plastic wrapped hunk of gore in the semi-cold, open fridgesit
occurred to me that my mother and I didn’t make much of a family. Something
about the fact that I did most of the restocking while Mom paid all the bills
sent my mind off in that direction. Yeah, we were tight-knit. Sure. But there
were only two of us…
So did I really need a family sized pack of hamburger meat?
I looked around for a clerk in the area to help me out with the issue, seeing as
the package was the only one on the shelf. There was no one in sight, so I
walked up to a sickly moist swinging door that lead the way to the back room.
I reached up to the wall and pressed the ringer, and a bell sounded out like an
anemic fire alarm. I took a step back and waited.
When the clerk flipped open the door, I couldn’t help but to take a step back. His hair was a bit wild. Bright red and very curly. But it was his face… Maybe he had taken an odd hack at some meat. He had red spray and gore flecked everywhere and looked like he belonged in a slasher flick. And the smell of it all… well, actually wasn’t that bad to be honest.
But the meat cleaver he held in his hand was a bit worrying.
“…Can I help you?” he asked. Covering my initial shock, I held out the package to him.
“Uh, sorry to bother you. But can you split this up for me? Put a new tag on it? This is a bit too much and there’s no…more…out here.”
He just stared at me for a few seconds before he took the package out of my hand. For a moment, I thought he was going to help me out. Instead, he just tossed it back on the shelf.
“Get a life, dude. Or go get some more cash. I’m busy.”
Then he turned his back on me and walked away.
For a second I was just numb. How could anyone be such an ass? It’s the nicest way to put it. He had willingly blown somebody off, and hadn’t given a damn about their issues or problems… Kind of like the man who drove that Dodge.
See where this is going?
Grinding my teeth, I rang the bell again and kicked the door open. I didn’t go in though. That was just to get his attention, so I just waited for the man to come out to confront me. As he did, I grabbed the most expensive steak off of the shelf and tore the package up. Again, I couldn’t help but to savor the smell.
“What the hell? You again?” he said, glaring at me.
With the most neutral expression I could muster, I held the steak up in full view and spilled it out of its wrap. It landed on the floor with a wet slap. Blood flicked around my feet, and then smeared on my boots as I kicked it towards him.
“Get a life, clean this mess up,” I said. Then I turned around and started to walk back towards the registers. The clerk came after me and grabbed my shoulder and tried to twist me around.
My own body seemed to fall out of my control at that point. Growling, I twisted myself around and slammed him against the shelf, knocking a row of canned beans off the bottom shelf. The clerk was skinny, and I easily held him there by his scrawny neck.
“Don’t you touch me,” I snarled, clenching my teeth.
The clerk was scatter-brained. “H-h-hey now! Calm the hell d-down. Sorry!”
“No. If you wanted me calm you woulda done your damned job back there. Instead, you wanted to piss me off. Congrats! You happy?”
He shook his head and gave me that scared look I’d seek a week earlier.
And, once again, I got myself under control and realized how much of a jerk I was being. I apologized, walked out embarrassed, and hoped that it would be a onetime thing and that I wouldn’t lose much control again.
But me getting angry at an inanimate object was proving that theory stupid.
Generally, they say violent, physical releases of rage and frustration are unhealthy. You know, punching walls isn’t exactly helping your anger issues. But slamming my fist into the side of the Dodge Ram 50 I was trying to fix up seemed to do me a whole lot of good.
In fact, it gave me a reason to take a break. My fist ached.
The truck had probably been sitting in the back yard since Jesus last walked the Earth, yet I had taken it upon myself to make it usable as the replacement vehicle for my El Camino… which I was still mad over.
Just to put the condition of this truck in perspective, let’s just say that it was more trashed than the El Camino. And after I towed the new truck project into the garage using my mom’s Ford, the passenger door fell off. When I saw that, I knew it was going to be a bad day. I knew my cars and trucks and how to work on them, and that was far from a good sign.
Now about the Ford I had used to tow it out of the yard… It was a truck, yes. And it did run. But it was what one might consider an “impulse” buy, and was next to useless for daily commute. If the blue truck that had nearly killed me had a father, the Ford would be its daddy.
My mom, whose name is Vickie, by the way, still saw fit to try to convince me to take it to school. She’s probably the only mother who would encourage her son to take a gas guzzling, top heavy, unregistered hunting rig to school. But I was obstinate is not getting myself pulled over. We fought about it as I helped her get ready for another one of her long hauls.
“Mom. There’s probably a rule against taking up two parking spots,” I explained as I hefted her bags into the truck, “And it’s an old truck. It uses way too much gas. You need that money for your truck.”
“You don’t need to be worrying about money. That’s my job. And I thought you’d like to drive a big pickup like that to school. You can show it off to all your friends,” she said.
I sighed. Sometimes parents can be sneaky, what with reverse psychology and all. But then sometimes it was just a bit too obvious. She was trying to back me into a corner about my non-social behavior with as much stealth as a blaring fire truck.
“Mom, I try not to bring attention to myself. I don’t have anyone to show this truck off too,” I said, tossing my hand towards it, “If I drive this thing I’ll just be known as the douche that takes up half a parking lot. And I don’t even see the point in hanging out with these people. I have only a year left and I’ll probably never see them again.”
“Croy! How can you not see the point in making friends? Baby, you need to have friends in life. You haven’t introduced me to a single friend, much less a girl. I can’t believe I’m saying this but… I don’t want to have to beg for grandbabies. You’re my only child, and I’d hate to see you grow old alone.”
I rolled my eyes. Mom and her grandbabies. I wondered if my father, had he existed, would have approved.
“Mom, I’m fine. I just haven’t seen anyone that has caught my eye. And you’re one to talk. You haven’t brought any guys home,” I pointed out.
It was a low blow, and I immediately felt bad for throwing something like that into the argument. Her eyes got real distant and she became quiet.
“…I’m still in love with someone Croy. I just want you to find someone,” she said.
I didn’t say much after that on account of the foot in my mouth. Plus… I’d been lying about not having anyone that caught my eye. There was this one girl, you see, one that I’d had my eyes on since the day I had moved to Johnson City…
But she was out of my league. Isn’t that always the excuse? I was plain, boring, and had a somewhat… chunky figure. Oh, and to wrap all this up back to square one, I doubt she would have wanted to ride in the pile of steel I was trying to make run.
*Not the end of the chapter, just ends at the best spot possible.
Annnd after that bit there's a few judging of the full manuscript. But, in the final running, there's a public voting. They can read the manuscript, as well as a bio that they can take into consideration with their votes. I also describe where inspiration for the novel came, as well as how I went about writing it.
So, here's my bio.
My name is Not_Tomato_Soup (not really, but you know). I’m a 19 year old college student going to Texas Tech University as a Mass Communications Major. I have two younger brothers and have lived in rural Texas most of my life.
When I started this novel I was 15. At the time I was very discontent with my life, having had to change schools once again. My aggravation at the social displacement was repressed, but it found its way through my writing, which I used as an escape. While looking through the many genres that dealt with anger and social displacement, I found that one of the predominate niches was that of the werewolf genre, which dealt with the two factors on a paranormal level. I began with the simple premise of a young man who didn’t know he was a werewolf, and it took off from there.
At the same time, I wanted to be honest with myself and the writing. I wrote this story while amongst my friends, going through the motions at school and trying to get by in class. We talked about sex. We talked about who hated who and why. So I was honest with who I wanted Croy and the characters to be. An honestly modern and male teenager. Rough around the edges, slightly rebellious, and somewhat mentally oriented on sex.
As I continued my high school career, my friends would speak often about other popular novels. I listened closely and made a point to jot down recurring themes I heard, as well as predictions made about the plot. I strived to break out of these ruts and create something that both surprised in terms of content and character. When I finally finished after three years, I knew it was something I could be truly proud of.
And that's it. Thanks for your time, and any feedback is welcome. c:
"I am prepared to meet my maker; whether my maker is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me is another matter." -Churchill