I’ve been so busy this week preparing for this weekend that I haven’t found the time to post. But now I’m just sitting around waiting for my mom and my aunt to show up (they’re taking the kids this weekend for me), and I have a few minutes. So what the heck, I’ll make a quick post and tell you what I’m up to.
I’m going to Jordan*Con.
It’s a local con dedicated to the memory of fantasy writer Robert Jordan, whose Wheel of Time series is one of the most beloved franchises in recent fantasy history. Had he not bogged down his novels with repetition and unwieldy narrative around book 4 or so, and had he not… died… well, he’d likely be right up there with George R.R. Martin. We might be watching The Wheel of Time on HBO, along with Game of Thrones.
At Jordan*Con, I’ve been invited to do three writer panels - one on independent publishing, one on the advent of e-books, and one on self-marketing. If you know me, then you know I have a lot to say on all three subjects.
Aha! That’s the doorbell. They’re here.
They say that writing is a lonely profession, and “they” have a point. Although I wouldn’t say that I’m lonely per se when I’m writing - just that I’m alone. Even when I’m at my desk and I have children milling under my feet with their Matchbox cars and Legos. Even when I’m at a bar, esconced in a bar stool with pen and paper in hand. Wherever I am and whoever’s around, I’m typically alone in my head (and if I’m not then I can’t write, because of the distractions). But lonely? No.
Right now, alone, I have a number of projects working. I’ve started not one, not two, but three novels in the past months - and yes, two of them are coming along quite nicely. I also have a short story that I’ve been struggling with since October that’s almost done, and three longish poems that have seen a lot of false starts. I’m also editing a bunch of old stuff, I have my client work (although it’s becoming more and more scarce), and there’s this web site. A lot to keep me busy all by my lonesome.
I don’t think writing should exist in a vacuum, however. At least not my writing. To that end, I’m in the process of sending a bunch of my existing material off to various contests and publishers, all in the hopes that something I wrote will drift ashore someplace nice and be able to set up camp. It’s tough out there - there’s a lot of noise that you have to rise above, and there’s a certain level of resistance to outsiders, i.e. people who exist outside of academia and the “traditional” publishing industry. Sometimes I regret my decision to leave academia and New York. But I can’t go back, not really, not now.
To further get out of the vacuum of my own thoughts, I have you - my audience - and I have social media, which has transformed the world, for better or worse.
In recent months, I’ve also become a big fan of collaboration. Although I love writing - I need to write, kind of like I need to breathe - it’s something I have to do alone, and I don’t always want to be, or act, alone. So I’ve been working with others. As we speak, I have several collaborative irons in the fire.
1) I’ve handed over a bunch of my poetry to a musician friend of mine who’s going to use some of my work as lyrics for her songs.
2) I’ve begun working with a friend, Michael Collins, on a graphic novel - the idea for which I’ve had since 1992. Off and on, I’ve floundered around for an artist who could realize my story, and I think I’ve finally found my guy.
3) Michael’s also working on the graphics for a game I’ve designed. The game design itself is almost there, and to that end, it’s been a real pleasure playtesting it with a whole bunch of my friends: Jay, Jim, Mike, Kristoff, Pierre, Erekh, Brad, Rob, Jeff, Caleb, Eddie, Scott, Tony, Garand, Richard, Lyman, and especially Roberto Arguedas, who gave me a new direction to take the game when the old one was hitting a snag.
The trouble with this game is that it’s based on a popular property, so to make it the way I’d like to make it would require the acquisition of a specific license. I’m hoping to make the best game I can, and then to shop it to various gaming companies who might have the wherewithal to get that license. If that doesn’t happen, or if the game mechanic appeals to a smaller company who can’t afford the license, I suppose I’ll have to repurpose the game to an original story framework. I can do that. I have stories in my head.
4) I’m hitting the Con circuit - baby steps - doing panels with other writers on a variety of subjects. My first outing will be JordanCon here in Atlanta next month. Hopefully, I’ll score more such panels as the months go by.
5) I’m working with a friend who’s quietly trying to break into becoming a publisher. With the advent of ebooks and online marketing and distribution, his overhead is minimal, so he’s willing to take a chance on me. Already, he’s backing my collection of horror short stories, and he’s looking to add other “acts” to his repetoire.
6) With his help, and the help of my incredible editor, Beth, I’ll soon have a novel published in ebook format. I’m launching a web site in the next week or so to market the book, and I’m working with my wife, Aida, on the design and execution of that site.
7) I’ve engaged four artists to work with me on a portion of the novel’s site. What they’re going to do for me is a surprise. First, I’ll announce that the site is live, then I’ll tell you what they’re doing.
8) I’m still working with a whole cast of voice “talent” on my podcast novel, A War Between States, which you can experience/read by clicking on the navigation to it over there on the right.
9) Finally, and if I haven’t said it enough, I’ve had the pleasure of working with Jason Snape, the artist and graphic designer who illustrated both of my short story collections. Jason, man, I have a brand, and it’s all thanks to you.
So you see, writing is an occupation that you have to do by yourself. Sometimes. But it’s never lonely.
Yeah, I know I said I had an epiphany regarding this novel - that I’d finally figured out how it was all going to go down. Well, apparently that hasn’t made it any easier to write. I’ve had some time issues the last couple of months, and as I’ve said before, this novel - though important to me - isn’t THE priority. Still, here’s yet another installment for your enjoyment.
On another note, I’ve noticed that the sound quality using my laptop isn’t as good as when I use my desktop. So I think I’m gonna switch back to be less mobile. That may inconvenience me, but it’ll be worth it to eliminate that background buzz. You? You ignore the background buzz, okay?
A War Between States Part 34:
Chapter 18: Campaign: Tamara, Part One
One day a week or so before, while her contract workers did the actual framing of her half-completed building, Tamara had borrowed a hammer, borrowed a box of six penny nails, and searched for some 2×4 castoffs in the wood scrap pile which had formed in one corner of her lot. She’d used them to build a makeshift ladder that she could climb to get to the lowest branches of The King. She’d built the ladder, climbed it once, then come back down and forgotten about it.
Until today. Now, just a few minutes after Sheriff Boyd had left, his idle yet powerful threat still hanging in the warm, humid early September air of Marionville, Tamara had walked dazedly over to the tree and climbed up into it. For a while, she contented herself with simply leaning back into the crook of the tree, her back against its massive trunk and her feet stretched leisurely out onto a thick lower branch. She closed her eyes. She was amazingly comfortable, and if her mind hadn’t been in such turmoil, she might have been able to doze off. Dangerous at such a height, but she could have.
Had her mind not been in such turmoil.
The sun beamed down on her and warmed her - she found she was enormously happy that the brutal Marionville summer had passed, making way for fall weather, weather which felt like a sweet, fresh blanket of the softest fabric, something you could wrap yourself in and sleep in. If your mind was at ease. Which… well….
“Oh, fuck you, Sheriff Boyd, for stealing this moment of bliss from me,” she said. Then she paused to listen to the tak-tak-tak of hammers, the murmur of Mexican voices, the buzz of a skill saw below her.
A slight breeze ruffled through The King’s remaining leaves, drowning out the chorus of sounds. Tamara opened her eyes.
She noticed with some interest that with so many of The King’s leaves gone, a clear path of branches would take her higher into the tree. She smiled. How long had it been since she’d climbed a tree? Had Phil Dobson been there? It seemed like he had.
She closed her eyes again, trying to settle into the calm she thought she might be able to find here, cradled in the arms of The King, suspended several feet above the ground. Behind her eyelids, though, all she could see was the top of the tree. It called to her.
She opened her eyes again and smiled again. She’d have to climb up a few branches higher, wouldn’t she? Then, sighing with a sort of delighted resignation, she clambered into a crouch and searched for the most readily available higher branch.
And she climbed.
She went slowly at first, fully aware of the fact that she probably weighed twice as much as she did when she last did this, fully aware of her mortality - after all, hadn’t she almost died once by being so reckless? And hadn’t she killed somebody else in a roundabout sort of way? No sense in getting over all that - almost - then coming this far and screwing it up by falling out of an oak tree she probably should have cut down and that she definitely shouldn’t be climbing.
Still, she climbed. But carefully.
When she was little, she would have climbed up to the top, to where the thin branches bent under her tiny, sneakered feet, to where the wind pushed everything back and forth so that she felt like she was truly part of some enormous cosmic machine, powerless to stop the inexorable motion, but powerful enough to keep going up, up, and up.
Now she stopped after a few feet.
She felt out of breath, although the climbing really hadn’t tired her. She could feel her heart beating, thought she could feel the eyes of her workers below, turning up to look at her as she clung to The King’s limbs and steadied herself. The tak-tak of hammers had stopped.
From this height she could see a long way. She scanned the woods and fields around her, looked up and down Cauley Highway, looked down at the top of her little trailer and the rough form of her future brewpub.
She gazed for a moment at the first row of shingles that Danny Jenkins had been tacking onto her roof before he’d turned to look at her with a wary smile, then she looked back at the highway. What she saw there now startled her - she almost lost her footing and her grip. She gave a little cry.
A man in a police uniform was stumbling down the middle of the road, clutching at his neck.
- Tamara Granger - Stephe Thornton
- Narrator - Will Kenyon
I read Paul Thigpen’s My Visit To Hell for a couple of reasons. One is a secret - and yeah, I’m gonna keep it a secret for a while; I can do that. The other reason is that I’ve been fascinated with Dante’s Inferno since my early Dungeons & Dragons days - and Thigpen’s novel promised to be a somewhat faithful retelling and/or update of the epic classic. Which it, thankfully, was.
I bought the trade paperback without knowing much about Thigpen. I didn’t know that he was a converted Catholic with an evangelical background (and I think he was still a Protestant evangelical when he first wrote My Visit To Hell). I also didn’t know that Hell was actually touted as a “Christian” novel.
I won’t say that I WOULDN’T have read the book had I known. I consider myself a Christian - a dismally bad one, but one nonetheless. Plus, I’m the kind of reader who believes that to become a better reader, thinker, and ultimately, writer, one needs to read expansively and inclusively. I mean, I TRIED to read Ulysses. On the other end of the scale, I TRIED to read R.A. Salvatore’s shitty-ass Drizzt Do’Urden fantasy novels.
I’ve certainly read “Christian” literature before - and not just C.S. Lewis’s brilliant work. Hell, I read Paul McHenry’s terrible, terrible, terrible Code Name: Antidote. You can ask some of my closest friends about that time in my life - you’ll love some of the answers.
Paul Thigpen’s novel is much more readable, interesting, and imaginative than CN:A, but it still got on my nerves to read a book like that. And by “like that”, I mean a book filled with less than savory characters who are in tense, less than pleasant situations, who still never, ever, never, ever say ONE swear word. Not one.
Not one “shit”. Not one “fuck”. Not one “asshole”. Not even a “bitch” or “cocksucker” or a “damn”. Unless you count “damned” as referring to the cursed individuals in Hell. And, of course, there’s the word Hell itself.
Other than that though, in Thigpen’s world, not even the nasty rapists and murderers who inhabit Hell are willing to say anything remotely blue. While I understand Thigpen’s audience and publisher, and their need to keep it “clean,” I found it ridiculous and incessantly annoying that - while people were running around naked, getting graphically blasted by fire and radiation, getting hacked to pieces by horrific demons and torturers, NOT ONE OF THEM EVER SAID A SWEAR WORD.
I think the nastiest thing anyone was called was “bucko.” Even the demons kept it clean.
Were that the worst thing I could say about the novel, though, I think I could give it a glowing recommendation. After all, no swearing is a pretty minor nitpick, no matter how annoying it was.
And I WILL give it this limited praise: Even though the not-swearing thing was annoying, even though it distressed me to no end that Thigpen reveled in saying CUSS instead of CURSE or SWEAR (he’s a Southern writer, too, folks), and even though some passages were sophomoric and trite, the book entertained me. Occasionally, the scenery was inspired. For instance, the level of Hell for suicides was creepy and sad in perfect proportions.
This brings us, though, to the title of this post and my greatest criticism of Thigpen’s novel: in a book that could have been sooo interesting, and for Christian readers so inspirational, and for non-Christians so informational, Thigpen decided to dwell overly long on certain evangelical “hot topics” that would likely have stopped many people - those who don’t already believe as he does - from reading further.
Can you name two topics which evangelical or “devout” Christians tend to dwell on that turn people off - so much so that people who might otherwise be receptive to the POSSIBILITY of a divine “God” and an encompassing plan for the universe say, “Fuck that - you guys are a bunch of hateful-ass judgmental bitches,” and either dismiss or reject altogether the entire premise of Christianity or religion in general?
If you said ABORTION or HOMOSEXUALITY, then take the pie - it’s yours.
What the fuck is it with “Christians” who set aside the most crucial of all God’s commands - that YOU LOVE GOD, AND THEN TREAT OTHER PEOPLE AS YOU WOULD LIKE TO BE TREATED - in favor of bile and vitriol, and the condemnation of circumstances and lifestyles that they do not understand, or even care to try to understand? No wonder so many people reject religion - it’s hard to believe in a God who cares more about what you do with your own body than He does what you do to other people.
I finished Thigpen’s novel for three reasons: 1) because I’m a believer, I’m straight, and I’ve never been involved in making an abortion decision, so I was able to swallow my disgust at how much he dwelled on those topics 2) because I was curious, and 3) because I’m a completionist. Had I lacked any of those characteristics, I probably would have set My Visit To Hell aside and started on the stack of Hulk comics I have on my bedside table.
Lemme give you a bit of context. In Dante’s Inferno, and in Thigpen’s interpretation of it, Hell consists of ever-deepening circular levels, and the deeper you go, the more heinous the sin, until you reach the bottom where Satan himself is half-buried in ice, his upper half still able to reach and grab and chew. This lowest Hell, the Ninth Circle, is called Cocytus, and therein dwell the worst sinners imaginable - the traitors. In Inferno, we see Satan gnawing perpetually on the three worst traitors in Dante’s world: Brutus, Cassius, and of course, Judas Iscariot.
So, here you go: Circle Seven is the place for the violent - those who were violent to others (murderers and tyrants), those who were violent to themselves (suicides), and those who were violent against nature and God. Now, both Dante and Thigpen relegate gay people to this Circle - in fact, they’re placed in a deeper ring than both the murders and the suicides.
Let me ask you something. When you think of violence, do you think about gay people? Does Neil Patrick Harris make you shudder with terror at how he’s going to gut you with his codpiece? Do you think that the average gay guy deserves a place in Hell that’s DEEPER than Saddam Hussein’s? Than Ted Bundy’s?
Dante put what he called sodomites in that level of Hell because he lived in a medieval age and had a medieval mindset. Thigpen… well….
What Dante NEVER mentioned was abortion. But guess where Thigpen placed the parents of aborted fetuses? In Cocytus, just a little ways away from Satan himself. Even saying that abortion was murder, and putting the parents of aborted fetuses on the Seventh Circle wasn’t enough for Thigpen. Nope. Ninth Circle: traitors to family.
And it wasn’t that Thigpen offhandedly mentioned, “Yeah, that’s where the abortion parents are. Yeah, that’s where the gays are.” He DWELLED on it. Not exhaustively, but enough that you knew he was trying to make a point.
And by making that point, he distracted me from the other points he might have been trying to make. In doing so, he lost an opportunity. He could have given me a story that scared me so badly I had bad dreams - I mean, what’s more potentially frightening than a place of eternal torment and freaky shit? He COULD have given me - and think this was his intent - a story of redemption and salvation, one that pulled at my heart strings and made me exult at the main character’s rebirth and reawakening. But alas, Thigpen’s writing simply wasn’t powerful enough to overcome the things he threw in there that distracted me from his point, and he would have lost me had I not been determined to finish.
In the end, though I can’t say My Visit to Hell was in fact, a visit to Hell, it certainly wasn’t a cakewalk either.
I haven’t heard the latest statistics regarding this holiday season’s Kindle, iPad, and Nook sales, but I’d be willing to bet that the number of people who own such a device increased last week, perhaps exponentially. I know for a fact that my family is one iPad to the plus: Eli’s digging Angry Birds on the “big screen.”
OK. So, did YOU get a Kindle or an iPad or a Nook? Or even one of the more generic or esoteric e-readers available? Cool. That’s a nice one.
Now that you have that awesome device, may I suggest that you purchase and download some short stories by an up-and-coming writer who’s busting his chops and trying to make inroads via electronic-only publishing? Looking at my site this week, I realized that I had been being demure about selling my new stories (and my old ones, too). I hadn’t yet posted a single post with ALL of the point of sale links for the stories, nor had I said “HEY!!! BUY THEM!!!”
You should, though. I’ve been told they’re pretty good.
Last time, when I self-published some stories, you only got 8000 words. Sure, they were only .99 cents, but still. This time, a small press has picked me up, and as an added bonus for you, this time around you get 20,000 words for the same low price.
Did I mention that you might enjoy them? In fact, if you do buy them and enjoy them, I’d LOVE for you to go to the site where you bought them and write a review of them. And if you’re a press or a zine or somebody in publishing, and you like what you see, well, hey - you know where to find me.
Now, here’s where you can find my latest works of fiction:
Barnes & Noble (Nook)
iTunes/Apple (iPad, iPod)
Smashwords (RTF, Plain Text, HTML)
Over the Thanksgiving Break, I was in what Gawker calls the “Wikipedia Hole”, and I got to reading about the mental condition called hypergraphia. This is the unrelenting urge to write, and though it doesn’t necessarily impare a person, it MIGHT, and the condition is often related to certain manias and epilepsy - which CAN impare a person. Supposedly, Lewis Carroll, Fyodor Dostoevsky, and the prophet Ezekiel had hypergraphia.
Which explains why they, at least, had to write.
Considering how unprolific I’ve been since the beginning of November, I’m pretty sure I don’t have/suffer from hypergraphia.
Reading about the condition made me think, though, about why I DID write. I’m a pretty smart and capable guy, and I probably could have fallen into just about any career you can name. (With some exceptions, sure. I DID said “just about”. Smartass.) But somewhere along the line, I decided I wanted to be a journalist and a novelist and a poet. So that’s what I did.
When I was young, I had visions of best-selling novels like Stephen King’s and Dean Koontz’s. That’s what I aspired to, and that is - sad to say - why I wrote. That and to impress girls. As I got older, money and fame mattered less, and instead I aspired to writing something profound and world-changing, something canonical, like The Lord of the Rings or The Lord of the Flies.
To a certain extent, I still have those dreams - I’d be a liar to say I didn’t - but I’ve learned to be satisfied for a while with simply managing to make a living.
Also, and in much smaller doses than what one would call “world-changing”, I’ve found myself having small effects on people. And THAT is - at the moment - why I write. As long as I can make a decent living, and occasionally hear things like this…
“It’s 5:45 a.m. and I just finished reading your stories. I had to sit here in deep thought for a moment or two. I hate to use overused adjectives to describe my feelings about them but that’s all my meager vocabulary can come up with. I truly enjoyed them. I’m very impressed with your talent.”
“I believe that in our mutual past, when it comes to writing criticism, I have always attempted to be brutally honest. Good or bad, I believe I strive to deliver an accurate assessment. I don’t offer empty praise out of some misguided sense of kindness. That being said, I want you to read carefully and accept what I am about to write. This was easily the greatest work of yours that I have read. This was a new level of Kenyon. I am seriously impressed. The tone, the language, the style…you nailed it.”
“I don’t think I’ve ever said this, but in spite of the lack of success in my writing career, I owe a lot to you. When I turned up at the writing group, you made me feel like I was a real writer.”
“While my examinations, at the time, were limited to passively reading and listening, Mr. Kenyon was, and had been for some time, busily engaged in creating his own output to add to the debate. From time to time he would share, an idea or even a finished product. There’s a little poem, based on Daniel’s dream of the statue, that still forces me to introspection whenever I read it.”
… I’ll be able to put pen to paper and churn out more stories and poems. And not because things like those above quotes serve to stroke my ego. (Although once again I’d be a liar to say that, as a writer, I didn’t have a BIG ego that needs periodic stroking. And yes, I noticed the sexual overtones of that statement. They’re unintentional and you need to stick to the point.)
No. I don’t keep those quotes around to boost my ego. Instead, I revel in situations like the ones those quotes imply because it means that my life has a purpose. When I die, I might not go down in literature books as someone who had a huge impact on the 21st century world, but I know that - to a handful of individuals at least - I left an indelible impression. Of the positive sort.
Now all I need to do is get to writing again, so that I have more stuff to put out there, so that maybe I can touch a couple more lives.
You may recall last time I posted a novel podcast that I said I’d figured a few things out about where this story was going to go. Well, as of now I have an outline for 14 more chapters, which ought to bring the whole thing to a conclusion. If you’ve been following this story, that’s good news. You’ll still have to be patient, because I have to actually WRITE the chapters. Then I have to edit them (although this story’s probably one of the roughest ones I’ve let see the public eye, I do still edit it a little). Then I have to prepare and post each podcast.
Hopefully, the whole thing will get finished, for good or for ill, by late next summer. At the latest.
In the meantime, here’s some more. And yeah, there’s a big car crash.
A War Between States Part 32:
Chapter 17: Skirmish: Tommy, Part Two
“Make a call,” Fran said, her eyes on the road, her knuckles whitening as she gripped the steering wheel, her hands at ten and two. “Anybody. Get a local officer on the scene of that accident back there, and get somebody to come at the Mustang from the other side.”
“You think the cops in the next county?” Tommy asked. “The county line’s only a few miles away. Hell, Alabama’s right over there.” He waved off to the right.
“Call whoever’s left in this county first,” Fran said. “Even if it’s Boyd. They all gotta know this is happening - they just need someone to tell them where it is exactly.”
The chase had started northeast of town, and now they were headed due south on a smooth but twisting two-lane that ran roughly parallel to the Alabama state line. Tommy was calling in when the Mustang ran up on a slower southbound vehicle - a metallic blue Toyota Sienna going about sixty-five. The Mustang swerved around it despite a blind hill, and shot off ahead. The county police car had to hesitate to let a northbound pick-up truck pass by. Fran and Tommy had to wait as well, and Fran let Tommy know how she felt about the Sienna and the truck with a stream of profanity.
Once the truck passed, all the police cars blasted past the Sienna, including Stan and John in the vehicle behind Fran and Tommy. They began to close the distance on the the Mustang. Tommy tried to radio the county dispatch, to find out who was in the county sedan. After a series of connects and disconnects, he was talking to Deputy Barry Soames.
“What happened at that mobile home, Deputy Soames?” Tommy asked after they all verified who was who.
“There was an exchange of gunfire. One of those guys in the Mustang shot Sheriff Boyd.”
“Holy fuck,” Fran said when she heard that. Tommy himself was speechless.
“I called in an ambulance when I was there,” Soames said. “They just radioed back.”
“Is Boyd all right?” Fran asked.
The Mustang caught up with another slow-moving car, this one a Kia Rio, and its driver once again passed it. Soames pulled his car into the oncoming lane to follow.
“I dunno,” he said over the radio, “They said they couldn’t find him. They said he was gone.”
Tommy heard what Soames said, but never got time to process it, because in that instant a northbound log truck crested the rise that Soames was on.
“Shitfuckcock,” they heard him say. Then they watched as Soames tried to turn away from the log truck to avoid a head-on collision. He couldn’t veer back into the proper lane, because the Kia was still there, still in his way. Instead, he pointed the nose of his cruiser toward the tree-lined side of the road, trying to go around the truck on the shoulder. Unfortunately, the log truck driver had a similar idea, and he shifted onto the shoulder as well. Soames turned his car sideways, and the log truck jackknifed, and both them skidded toward each other at a terrible, dangerous speed.
Fran braked hard to avoid joining the collision, turning their car into a tailspin. She screamed something that sounded to Tommy like a battle cry as she threw her whole body into the steering wheel, holding onto it desperately, trying to maintain control of the car. Tommy tasted vomit swelling in the back of his throat.
The restraints on the jackknifed log truck snapped, and now a pile of heavy pine logs tumbled off of it, scattering with a thunderous crash onto the dusty shoulder of the road. A couple of logs hit the road itself. Both of them bounced - one flipping end over end right into the rear of the Kia, the other careening toward Fran and Tommy. Just as Fran managed to get her car under control and bring them to a dead stop, the log smashed into the front, crushing it. The sound it made was the loudest thing Tommy had ever heard.
Then came another, smaller crash, and Tommy felt his passenger side car door cave in toward him, the blow knocking loose his grip on the door’s safety handle. It was like someone had shoved him from the side, really hard. He looked over, and there was John and Stan in the other GBI car, staring wide-eyed back at him. John had been driving, and he’d turned their car sideways, skidding to halt beside Tommy and Fran rather than hitting them headlong. At they speed they’d all been going, that probably would have killed Tommy, or at least sent him to the hospital.
Tommy swallowed his vomit, shook his head, and looked down at the huge dent poking at him through the car door. The plastic lining was cracked, and his door handle had popped free and was sitting in his lap.
Fran was scrambling out of the car. When she was on her feet, she turned back and checked on Tommy.
“You all right?” she asked, her voice shaking hard enough to register on the Richter scale.
Tommy closed his eyes and did a body check. He was okay, but he knew he couldn’t speak himself, not without whimpering. So he just nodded.
“Good. Get out.” And then Fran was gone, stomping unsteadily across the black top.
Tommy did as he was told, unfastening his seatbelt and clambering over the center console to exit out the driver’s side. He pulled himself out, made sure his legs would hold him, then took in the scene.
Fran was already beside the Kia Rio, which was pulled over on the opposite shoulder. John and the log trucker were standing, facing each other, John’s hand on the big, burly man’s shoulder, the man nodding in answer to John’s questions. Stan was coming around the two GBI cars toward Tommy.
“You okay?” he asked.
“As good as I can be. God, what a mess.”
Fran had left the Kia and was heading back toward them.
“Stan, you and John are in charge of this scene. Check on Soames, report in, call another goddamned ambulance. Do you think your car will move?”
“Yeah,” Stan said, already moving toward the deputy’s car. “The side’s dented is all. If you can get it pulled off of your car, you should be good to go.”
“Okay. Tommy, with me.”
Tommy bit his lip. “Really?” he said. “We’re gonna stay in pursuit?”
Fran sneered at him as she circled Stan and John’s car. “Yes, Krinshaw. I’m gonna get those little fuckwads and put an end to this.”
- Tommy Krinshaw - Bret Wood
- Fran - Aida Kenyon
- Stan - Chris Bulloch
- Narrator/Deputy Soames - Will Kenyon
“They’re coming to get you, Barbara.”
For the uninitiated, that’s a quote from the beginning of Night of the Living Dead. But I’m not talking about zombies coming to get you, or coming to get Barbara either. I’m gonna let Robert Kirkman and Max Brooks bring the zombies to the masses for the time being.
What’s coming from me to get you is three scary stories, soon to be available on your closest haunted Kindle, Nook, iPad, or computer. They have a few things in common - like the simple fact that they’re all horror stories - but otherwise they’re all very different. I announced them a few weeks ago, in the hopes that the finished products would be available by Halloween, and, well, I’m on track. Unless something unexpected like a zombie holocaust occurs between now and then, I’ll be able to tell you next Monday to go get them.
Just as with The Giant/The Littlest Goblin package I got published last May, they’re only .99 cents and only available as an eBook. This time, though, you’re getting a lot more bang for your buck: there’s THREE stories, and they’re generally longer than the first two.
Without revealing too much, here’s a little bit about each of the new stories.
The One That Got Away is a bit of horror/comedy - something along the lines of Stephen King’s first Creepshow or Tales from the Crypt. I got the idea several years ago when I heard that a girl I’d hooked up with a couple of times in college had died really young from some rare and vicious cancer. I know, I know - that’s not funny - and neither is the ultimate ending of the story. But as I wrote the initial scenes (which coincidentally take place in my favorite bar The East Point Corner Tavern), I had my tongue planted firmly in my cheek. The main character, Evan, and his best bud, Stan… well, they’re a couple of idiots. You gotta love them, but it’s hard not to chuckle at their alcohol-fueled antics.
I’ve mentioned The Thrall of Fate before. It’s an ode I wrote in 2009 to commemorate the birthday of one of my literary heroes - Edgar Allan Poe. Poe himself is the main character of the story - but he’s a very different Edgar Allan than the one who died in a gutter in 1849 of some strange and terrifying malady. I had to take some liberty with the details of Poe’s early life, so consider this an alternate history piece, with a twist and a finale I sincerely hope Poe himself would approve of.
I wrote Killing The Messenger with the sole intention of creating a monster from an unexpected source. And I don’t mean like the shit monster Kevin Smith created in Dogma or the meat monster from David Wong’s John Dies at The End.
You know, though, as I think about it, Messenger actually has TWO antagonists - one the monster I created, and the other, an amorphous, mysterious other. This other entity is responsible for doing what the title suggests, over an over again. But the visceral effect of my “monster” may be the thing you’re more likely to take away from the story. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
Anyway, Killing The Messenger was also partially inspired by the lyrics to a strange song by a musician named Jude, who had a few small hits back in the 90s. On his album No One Is Really Beautiful, there’s this song called ‘George’, and the beginning goes like this:
“George died in the fifth grade/no one ever knew why
He was out selling lemonade/on the Fourth of July, and he died
Sister Claire said that he was/an angel on Earth/She stood there and she told us
She had clearly rehearsed/Every verse/Of the lies that tie you down”
That’s it. I’ll leave you with that. That ought to keep you until Monday, I think.
On Monday, they’re coming to get you.
I told you this would happen.
OK. I told some of you. Others of you might have guessed based on discussions you’ve had with me regarding how the sales on my original two stories were doing: they haven’t made me a millionaire (and indeed, that is not my goal), but they’ve been encouraging enough for me to do it again. That is, to have MORE stories published on eBook and eReader formats, so that I can share even more of my work with even more people.
To that end, consider this the first formal announcement regarding THREE MORE forthcoming stories.
Now, here’s a bit of irony: I don’t consider myself a genre writer. I don’t set out when I write to write a horror story or a science fiction story or a fantasy story. I don’t say to myself, “Will - you should right a story about a school of wizards or a story about sparkly vampires.” I usually set out with some point I want to make, some germ of an idea - a bit of morality, a bit of commentary about life, death, and the human condition. Sometimes, I find those ideas easier to express in a particular genre. More often, that’s actually not the case, and one day maybe you’ll see more of my non-genre work.
Still, as I look over my stories lately - the one’s I want to see published, to share with people right now, I’m drawn to the genre pieces. And so it is that, once again, I’ll be sharing genre pieces with you.
Last time, I gave you a fantasy piece and a science fiction piece. This time, I’ll be giving you three horror stories.
Now, although they’re all from one genre, these stories are all very different. One’s funny, one’s deeply literary, and one’s well… strange. As the publication date draws nearer, I’ll give you more details. For now, I’ll just tease you with the picture of Edgar Allan Poe up above, and let you know that he’s a main character in one of the stories. I wrote that story a couple of years ago to sort of celebrate Poe’s 200th birthday. It’s taken a couple of years to get it published.
I’m told by initial readers that the story is kick ass. Here’s hoping that you’ll like it, too.