Early last year I wrote a piece titled “Why I’m Cool With the End of the World.” Back then I was ready - things were routine, I was treading water with everything in my life - basically, an apocalypse would have shaken things up and made things interesting again. Why the hell not.
The things I was cool with still hold true - except Obama DID win, and I am a little interested in how his second term rolls out, especially since he’s finally showing a little backbone against Boehnhead and the Republican House.
Truth is, though, in these final hours I’m not so sure about it all. You see, 2013 looks very promising for me, and it’d be a fucking shame if we blinked out of existence just as I was hitting my stride and getting off this Godforsaken plateau I’ve been on.
For your edification (and end of the world enjoyment) here’s a quick pictorial of some of the things I might miss out on if Planet Nibiru is for real:
These three stacks are novels. Over the last 12 years, I’ve written all three of them. The one on the left has moments of brilliance, but needs a major rewrite that I’m not sure I can give it. It was my first - call it an exercise in learning how to write a book. The middle one, The Survivor of San Guillermo, is going to get published in 2013. And the one on the right - The Talented Boys - is better than either of the other two.
Twelve years, I’m finally getting a book published. End of the world. Fuck.
This is an intricate, yet highly enjoyable and immersive board game I designed, which is based on a millions-dollar intellectual property that I can’t disclose until the property rights owner agrees to license it. If it gets licensed I’ll be ecstatic, because the IP is one I love, that my friends love, and that I believe is worthy of as much respect as Star Wars and Lord of The Rings. Even if we don’t get the license, I can adapt the game to a different IP and still have a great and highly publishable game.
Unless the world ends.
This is the back of my house. About five years ago, I added a new sun room to the back, with a little help from my dad. It was a project several years in the making, because I had to work on it in the nooks and crannies between doing all the other things I do. But it’s a great room - and it adds thousands of dollars of value to my home, as well as several hundred square feet. I’m almost finished with it, and then Aida (my wife) and I can start seriously looking into selling our house and upgrading to something even bigger. I’ll probably have it done by spring, weather permitting.
Finally, there’s these two little ones. As sure as I am that they’d get a free trip to Heaven should the apocalypse prove real, and thus avoid the horrors of teenage-dom and adulthood, it’d be a travesty of Earth-shattering proportions. I’ve invested most of my heart and a lot of effort in making certain these two are happy and wholesome. Having that job cut off before I finished it MIGHT piss me off more than all the other stuff combined.
So yeah. I take back what I said earlier this year. The end of the world can wait.
I have another post right here. In fact, I have two. In fact, I have THREE.
But right now, they’re waiting on important components:
One piece has a bunch of photographs accompanying it, and those photographs require a whole lotta touch-ups. The piece is basically a diatribe in defense of my need for validation. Yeah, I need validation sometimes - don’t we all - but in the last couple of years it seems like I’m not getting anymore the level I desire. Then I look around me and… well, you’ll see. Once I get the photos all cropped and sized and color-treated as best I can, you’ll see.
For another piece, I need an audio bit from my good friend Barbara. I’ve had the next two sections of A War Between States finished for a couple of months now, but sometimes - like now - getting all the voice actor parts recorded for the podcast takes Herculian effort. I’m down to just Barbara on the latest installment, and I’ll have that done the DAY she doesn’t forget to come by after work and record for me.
Another piece requires me to finish my friend Eric Sasson’s short story collection, titled Margins of Tolerance. I have ONE MORE story to read, and then I’ll give it a review. Eric (and anybody else who’s reading this right now), I assure you that I love your stories. One or two hit so hard I cried. No shit.
But you’ll have to wait for my review of Eric’s book. You’ll have to wait a little while for all these upcoming posts, because components are missing and this week I have jury duty! But they’re coming, along with…
1) a possible piece on why recent episodes of How To Train Your Dragon are allegories for the war against science and alternative energy in the United States.
2) a review of my friend Collin Kelley’s short story collection, Kiss Shot.
3) a teaser about my upcoming novel, The Survivor of San Guillermo.
4) a shout out to the folks over at Hallowed Waste Press, who graciously opted to attach their name to my second set of short stories.
5) a possible diatribe about the 2012 election, depending on who wins and how he does it.
These are pending, but I felt like I had to come up with something for you right now. Right this minute. This teaser, this bookmark if you will, was the best I could come up with for now. It didn’t make sense to use my energy on concocting anything else, given all the stuff I already have planned.
Look for the rest later this week and/or month.
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
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
I promised in my last post (see below) that I’d be making an announcement of sorts in the coming week for all of those who regularly (or semi-regularly) come to my site and supposedly give a shit. And here it is.
It is my intention to publish a novel this year, using whatever combination is most viable of Barnes & Noble’s PubIt!, Amazon’s DTP, Smashwords, CreateSpace, and Lulu. The novel is a science fiction/Western/historical fiction work called The Survivor of San Guillermo. More on it later.
At the moment, let me tell you definitively that no, I don’t know enough yet to even know if using PubIt!, DTP, etc. in combination is cost-efficient or worthwhile or even possible. I don’t know which one is best suited for my purposes. I know very little at this point of the technical aspects of any of them - I only know that they exist, what they exist for, and that for certain writers they have proven to be an inspired resource.
But I intend to explore all three thoroughly in the coming months.
Right THIS minute, I’m concentrating on creating a finished product that is worthy of publication. I’ve employed an editor - a REAL editor, not a “book doctor” - and we are weekly adding more and more pages of polished material to the heap. I’m going to start looking for an illustrator for the book during April, and as of this post I’m going to start peddling it ahead of its “street date”, which I’m hoping will be sometime in late November or early December. Just it time for the holidays! (Hint.)
Part of the impetus behind my decision to “indie-publish” The Survivor of San Guillermo can be found here, at Joe Konrath’s blog. It’s a rather long blog post - probably the longest one I’ve ever read - but even if you sample it, you’ll get the idea.
I’m simultaneously still trying to get an agent interested in my other book, The Talented Boys, which I finished last year - I’m trying to publish it using traditional means. I’ve been rather lax in doing so, having only sent it out to a small handful of agencies, but it’s out there. Somewhere. Given the newsworthiness of Atlanta graffiti, which figures prominently in the story, and the announcement of a movie based on Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, which significantly influenced it, one would hope that an agent or editor would pick up on it soon. In the meantime, I’ve decided to do something with San Guillermo, which has been languishing in a drawer for five or six years, screaming at me to let it out. And who knows? If San Guillermo does even remotely well, and The Talented Boys continues to make no headway with traditional/legacy publishers, and the benefits of indie-publishing continue to add up for me, then maybe I’ll be telling you the same thing about Boys in a year or two that I’m telling you about San Guillermo now.
Now, just a little about The Survivor of San Guillermo before I let you go. I’ll add more details later as I decide which details to add, and hopefully some information will show up in the future at my new URL, www.thesurvivorofsanguillermo.com (nothing’s there now so don’t bother).
San Guillermo follows the experiences of a Texas Ranger named Thom Reynolds in Arizona Territory in 1871. Thom’s just rolling along one day, doing his job, when suddenly he’s plunked down into a bunch of plots and counterplots perpetrated by a bunch of well-meaning scientists and assorted assholes from the future. And… pretty soon things start to suck for Thom. Poor guy.
So, if you know anybody who wants a good editor who’s new to the game but - as far as I can tell - quite capable of playing it, then let me know. I’ll put you in touch. Also, if you know a good sci-fi/Western illustrator who’s willing to work on spec, then again, let me know. Finally, WATCH THIS SPACE , and watch www.thesurvivorofsanguillermo.com for future developments on this particular project.
I hope I don’t pidgeonhole myself into being a “zombie book” reviewer, although that seems to be the kind of book nowadays that makes me want to sit down and TELL YOU ALL ABOUT IT. Take my negative review of this insipid little (best-selling) nugget here for instance. It just seems that, although I read everything from sci fi to the Booker Short List, from George R.R. Martin to Herman Melville, I only want to share tales of unholy mobs of flesh-eating terror with you.
Oh, what the hell. I can think of worse things to get pidgeonholed for. And the two books I’m about to tell you about absolutely deserve the attention I’m giving them - they deserve, in fact, far more attention than the book I mentioned above.
First, there’s Bob Fingerman’s post-apocalytic horror-comedy, Pariah. Set in the months immediately following the annihilation of New York City by the undead, Pariah follows a group of survivors who’ve holed up in an Upper East Side apartment complex. They’ve been there for months, unable to get to the grocery store that’s just across York Avenue, because of the hordes of zombies which tenaciously swarm the streets below them. They’re simultaneously starving to death and going just a little crazy, until a woman named Mona walks up - literally walks up - with the zombies recoiling away from her in utter disgust. That’s right - there’s something that disgusts even zombies, and Mona’s it.
Fingerman’s story uses a number of zombie conventions, but rather than seeming redundant - a rehash of familiar zombie tales - it comes across as fresh and evocative. It takes talent and a true passion for the zombie genre to get a story as familar as this one right, and Fingerman nails it. Pariah is dark, violent, sometimes disturbing, and often hilarious - a well-told survival narrative that’s worth checking out.
It’s the “Really Good” from the title of this post.
John Adjivde Lindqvist’s Handling The Undead is the “GREAT” from the title of this post.
You probably know Lindqvist’s work already - he’s the writer of both the novel and the screenplay Let The Right One In, a Swedish vampire film remade adequately enough in America as Let Me In. If you haven’t seen the Swedish version of the film, look for it - especially if you can find the subtitled version (the English-language dubbing kind of detracts from the original Swedish).
What Lindqvist did for vampires, he now does for zombies, although it’s quite possible that his unconventional take on the zombie genre might be even more original than his spin on the vampire legend.
Here’s what I can give you of Handling The Undead’s plot.
In Stockholm, something strange and awful is happening: electrical appliances won’t turn off and everybody’s got a splitting headache. Then, suddenly, it stops. Everything’s normal. Except that the recently dead - those who’ve died in the past two months or so - have all come back to life. The incident is limited to just Stockholm, and the undead only number about 1200 people, and that’s all I think I can comfortably tell you, because not knowing what’s going on is a driving force behind the power of the novel. There’s a mystery here that you, as the reader, must uncover.
Here’s what I will tell you: Rarely do books affect me the way Handling The Undead did, and certainly no book in the horror genre. The moment I read the last page, though, I closed my eyes and began bawling like baby in need of a diaper change. I couldn’t stop for several long, uncomfortable, yet cathartic minutes.
There will be those who no doubt won’t be as affected as I was because of their beliefs. Atheists will have to accept certain theological premises, and if they can’t, they won’t get it. Ironically, neither will some religious adherents, who’ll have to accept a certain “looseness” in their dogma regarding exactly what happens after someone dies.
But for those of us who believe there just might be something “after” and also accept that we can’t genuinely know exactly what that something is, Handling The Undead can be transforming.
And as a parent, even more so. I was a wreck for days after I finished it. All I wanted to do was be with my children.
That’s a horror novel, everyone, that made me feel that way.
Specifically, a zombie novel.
See? I TOLD YOU I wasn’t abandoning this project altogether. Now, it’s gonna be slow going from here on out, no doubt - there’s just a lot of irons in the fire that take priority over this. But I can’t just leave Sheriff Boyd sitting there in his car, bleeding out. Unfortunately, we can’t look in on Boyd just yet. When we last left off, you see, Bill Wells was divulging a secret to his bestest friends….
Oh, and if you’re new to A War Between States, you’d probably be best served going here and playing catch-up.
A War Between States Part 31:
Chapter 16: Campaign: Sarah and Nate, Part Two
“Ya’ll know that I know lots of people,” Bill began. He stood in front of them like a preacher in front of a congregation, and Sarah thought for a moment that Bill even sounded like a preacher. “Thing is,” he continued, “even though I know lots of people, I don’t love lots of people. I mostly despise ‘em, in fact. Ya’ll, however, are the exception. You folks gathered here today are the people on this Earth that I love above all others, and it’s ya’ll that I’m gonna miss.”
A titter of confused excitement passed through them at this statement. At the same time, Sarah could see that Bill’s eyes had begun to water. He was beginning to cry - and Bill Wells never cried.
“I don’t want this to get out, now,” Bill said, the quiver in his voice a vanguard for the tears he was fighting to hold back. “So after I tell ya’ll this, I don’t want none of you running out and telling your husbands or boyfriends. ‘Cept you, Sarah - you can tell Phil. If he didn’t have to work, I think I’d want him here, too.” This tangent allowed Bill to get his crying under control; the shake in his voice disappeared and he blinked his tears away.
“Anyway,” he said, “Lemme relieve you of your suspense. The reason I got all ya’ll together is to tell you that I got cancer. And I got it bad.”
They all gasped, just like any small crowd gasps when the magician finishes his trick, when the murderer in the whodunnit gets revealed.
“I’ve know about my cancer for a little over a year,” Bill said. “It started as a weird lesion on my back. I had it removed and biopsied, but it was already too late. I waited too long. I scheduled another surgery and some chemo for last summer, but I put it off until a couple of weeks ago. Kept rescheduling it, you know? Then, when I finally went in, turns out it had already metastasized, and it’s in my lungs.”
Bill paused, sucking in a breath. He might as well have been sucking all of the air out of the room.
“I dunno,” he said, and now he really started to cry. Sarah could feel her own tears suddenly coming - a surging swell behind an oh so fragile dam. “I dunno,” he repeated through his tears. “I kept putting it off. I didn’t think it could get so bad so fast. I thought I had time.”
Mary moved toward Bill, and the others stood as if to do the same. He just stood there, a spindly, deflated, slumping, and sloping version of himself, waiting for their embraces.
Then a siren went off outside the convenience store, followed by a crash.
“Holy shit,” Nate muttered beside Sarah - they had been the last to make a move toward Bill - and Sarah looked out the one window in the room, out to the place where Nate was staring. “I’m having a déjà vu, I think,” he finished.
In the convenience store parking lot, two cars had collided, one T-boning the other on the passenger side. A third car had jumped the curb on Washington Street and had smashed into the rear of Pammy’s parked car. In the distance, Sarah could see a white Mustang speeding away, followed closely by a very familiar police car, its lights blazing and its siren fading away.
They all moved away from Bill and gathered at the window. Bill stood behind them, wiping away his tears and straining to see past them, to see the wreckage in his parking lot.
Suddenly, two more cars - unmarked white sedans with dashboard-mounted lights flashing - came careening down Washington and headed after the Mustang.
“Somebody call and ambulance,” Bill said, his voice weak. Sarah looked back at him again.
She’d never noticed how small he was before.
- Sarah Dobson - Jennie M.
- Nate Wells - Jay Elgin
- Narrator/Bill Wells - Will Kenyon
You know, it’s been a while since I posted anything about the stuff I like. Except games. I suppose I HAVE posted a few things about the gaming phenomenon, but in those posts I really didn’t tell you anything about the games I’ve been enjoying of late. So let’s rectify that, shall we? Last week here in the United States we celebrated Thanksgiving, and during that slow and thank-filled day, I had time to reflect on some of the things I was enjoying. The things I am, in fact, thankful for. And now, whether you want to read all about it or not, I’m gonna share. Indeed, here are some of the things that Will Kenyon is digging these days- the things I’m drinking, watching, reading, playing, and listening to.
Beer and Booze
1) A few weeks ago, I was at Midway Pub in East Atlanta and got to hang out with some of the promotional reps of some of my favorite breweries, including Terrapin out of Athens, GA. That’s how I heard about the drop the next day of Terrapin’s So Fresh & So Green, Green. I really like fresh hop beers, so naturally I went to Green’s the next day and picked up a bottle. Holy shit. There are a lot of fresh hop beers running around on the market today, but the in-your face greenness of this beer’s aroma and flavor is the best I’ve ever had. If you want to know that the stuff you’re drinking truly comes from God’s green Earth, then this is your beer. Of course, it’s sold out across Atlanta, so that one bottle’s all I’m gonna get for a while.
2) I tweeted about this next one right after I had a bottle. And believe me, as good as it is, one bottle’s all you need of Southern Tier’s Crème Brûlée Imperial Milk Stout. Hell, it’s like a dessert - you might not want more than a small glass. But you’ll want it, oh yes, you will. It’s in limited supply, and it’s probably gone by now, but if you see it anywhere, have some. Skip the tiramisu or the cake and have the crème brûlée instead. IT TASTES JUST LIKE THE ACTUAL DESSERT. And it’ll get you drunk, too, so that’s a bonus.
3) Eddie lives down the street. I’ve known Eddie for 10 years. Eddie and I have remained friends despite some trepidation and some serious falling outs. And now, Eddie has notched an enormous amount of respect from me, because Eddie is doing something I’ve only ever talked about. He’s opening his own store and selling something he has a passion for: beer. Eddie Holley is indeed one of the very few people I know who is more into beer than I am, and now, because of him, I have a new place to go for my beer adventures, and a new guide to show me the way. Ale Yeah! Craft Beer Market opens this week, folks. I’ll be among the first in line. If not the first. You should be the second.
Books and Literature
4) Last June I met Colum McCann at a writing festival. He had just won the National Book Award for Let The Great World Spin, and he turned out to be a cool cat, so when I got back home to Atlanta, I bought his book and put it on my bedside table. It sat there through the summer while I finished up a few books already in the queue. Then, about a month ago I picked it up and started reading. Ironically, you’d think something so beautiful and rich would be like candy to a baby - that I’d read the whole thing in a couple of days. But no. It’s taken me over a month. This bothered me at first, but then I realized why I’m taking such an inordinate amount of time with this particular book.
I don’t want it to end.
5) I haven’t started Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book yet (see above), but it’s next in the queue and I’m giddy for it. I’m so ready to start Gaiman’s latest children’s book (although I’ve been told that some of the concepts are WAY above children’s heads, and that some of it’s downright scary) that I may start reading it alongside McCann’s book. I’ve been know to simultaneous read like that before. This might be a time for it. I love Neil Gaiman. He doesn’t know this, probably doesn’t know who I am from Adam, but he’s a friend of mine.
6) Twenty-two people are reading MY book right now. Some of those people are agents and editors. Most of them are my friends. I’m excited to hear what each and every one of them have to say about The Talented Boys. Is it as over-the-top as I think it is? Is it as quirky as David Wong’s John Dies At The End? Is it a page-turner? Did I get the characters right? How was that sex scene? Did my changes at the end work? Was it scary? Gross? Funny? Pins and needles, people, pins and needles.
7 & 8 ) I have some friends who play a lot of different games. In truth, I don’t actually play that many, at least compared to them - although the average person not initiated into the world of gaming might say my 300 or so games is a lot. Still, when I find a game I like, I tend to be loyal to it, and while I’m always looking for something new and cool to try out, I never fear busting out an old standby and playing the shit out of it. Many of my games are worn thin - I’m currently wearing out my third copy of Twilight Imperium.
Two newish games have emerged in the past weeks as being top of the heap for me, though. I’ll move on to my favorite standby in a moment. For now, allow me to introduce you to Glory To Rome and Innovation - two CARD games that hit that sweet spot for me. In Glory To Rome you’re a Roman Senator trying to rebuild burned buildings, all for the glory of Rome (and since you win the game by having the most influnce, it’s also for the self-serving purpose of asserting your power over your constituents and fellow Senators). In Innovation - which has, appropriately enough, a fairly innovative mechanic - you’re a society trying to build your scientific and societal strengths. I’ve heard it said that it’s Civilization stripped down to just the tech tree, and that seems accurate enough of a summation.
9) My favorite standby at the moment is Railroad Tycoon. I took it down to my mom’s house for Thanksgiving in the hopes of playing it with my brother and sister-in-law and… my daughter Madeleine. It didn’t get played, and the hole that omission left in me was remarkable enough to, well, remark upon. I DID get to play it this weekend with my friends Jim and Ken, and now I just want to play it again and again. I am really anxious to play it with Mad.
And… crap. This post’s already exceeding the word count I like to maintain with my posts. So I suppose I’ll have to sign off for now and hold my choices in Movies, Music, and Television (numbers 10 through 15!) until next time. Which will be soon, I assure you. Maybe tomorrow, probably Tuesday. In the meantime, digest what I’ve said - consider these things my recommendations, and if you think I might have any modicum of taste, check ‘em out. Except the Terrapin, of course. It’s sold out, so we’re all out of luck there.
Hmm. Maybe Eddie can hook me up.
Almost TWO MONTHS!!!!
That’s how long it’s been since I posted a podcast of my Southern Gothic black comedy A War Between States. You know why that is?
Because I haven’t written any more of it. What you’ve seen, if you’ve been looking, is all there is. All. By the way, if you haven’t been paying attention, or you’re new to my site, then you can find what there is of the novel here.
Now, this is not to say that I’ve given up on the book, or that I haven’t been writing. Au contraire. Instead, what it means is that I’ve been busy with projects which I am simply more passionate about, and which could prove more profitable. And not just monetarily, but in satisfaction as a writer - I don’t believe that dollars necessarily translate directly into success.
For instance, I have FINALLY finished a last round of edits on my novel Hood, which is now titled The Talented Boys. It’s currently finding some qualified success in agent/editor circles, and I am eager to push it further, in case the places it currently resides don’t work out. I’m jaded enough not to get too excited by the successes I’ve had, which means I’m busy, busy, busy shopping it around. If you’re an agent or editor looking for an over-the-top “urban horror fantasy” then be on the lookout for my query letter. It’s coming.
Oh, and if you’re one of my 20 or so friends whom I’ve let read the novel, then please keep enjoying it, and know that I am eagerly awaiting your feedback.
Next, I let my daughter, who is eight years old, read for the very first time something that I wrote. Even though she’s only eight, she’s reading the fourth book in the Harry Potter series, and she gets it. She groks/kens/understands it very well. So I figured she could handle what my writers’ circle from years ago dubbed my “Wolf Story”. It’s fantasy, it doesn’t have a lot of adult situations in it, and it’s relatively short. Forty-eight pages. Thing is, it’s Part One of a novella I started a while back that I think is quite good. So, now that she’s read this first part, I’m ready to finish the whole piece. I WAS about two thirds finished with Part Two, and now there are wolves nipping at me, pushing me to move forward.
Finally, I’ve started my next book. I’ve spent long enough with The Talented Boys, and for good or for ill, it’s time to move on.
As far as A War Between States is concerned, I’m not finished with it. But when I sit and write fiction nowadays, it’s technically fourth in priority, behind the wolves, the new book, and the handful of short story ideas that are swimming in my head. But I have worked on it some, and I will continue to do so. You MAY see a new chapter by the end of the year. Maybe more.
I’m sorry if you were even remotely interested in War, and I promise to give you more. This is just a quick note to ask for your patience, and explain why I’m asking….
Last time we were here, someone shot Sheriff Boyd in the neck. Bad news.
Well, now a small group of people in Marionville are getting set up for some more bad news. They just don’t know it yet. Whose bad news will trump whose? Your guess is as good as mine, folks….
A War Between States Part 30:
Chapter 16: Campaign: Sarah and Nate, Part One
The table stood in the middle of Bill Wells’s employee lounge, and on the table was a box of Krispy Kreme donuts.
Or what was left of one.
Around the table sat Pammy Roberts, Rhonda Byrd, and Amber Blue (whose real name was Sally Booker — she’d changed her name after winning $50,000 playing Lotto and using the money for liposuction and a boob job). Over the course of the past three hours, the three women had finished the Digiorno Pizzas which Bill had left for them, along with two six-packs of Mountain Dew, two pots of coffee, and most of the donuts.
Except for Pammy, who’d just arrived with Sarah Dobson, they’d all been working - more or less - at Wells’s convenience store, waiting for their boss to arrive along with all his guests. Sarah herself stood near the door to the lounge, listening to the other three women as they sat in their fold-out chairs and talked about all the ways Cyril West - Sarah’s opponent in the upcoming city council elections - had made a fool of himself. All the talk gave Sarah butterflies in her stomach. She wanted a cigarette, but ever since Bill had quit, he didn’t allow smoking in the lounge.
“And then he just unzipped his pants and took a piss right there on the side of the church, front ‘a God an’ ev’body,” Rhonda was saying around an enormous bite of powdered donut. Rhonda was the only black woman among them, and the white powder stood out on her dark chin and dark upper lip. Rhonda also had a bit of a mustache, and powder clung to her wispy black hairs like snow in evergreen trees. Sarah wondered why the woman didn’t just wax.
Amber probably wondered the same thing — she managed to keep her own would-be whiskers waxed, her nails long and painted, her make-up sufficiently plastered on, and her eyebrows plucked so severely that she had to pencil them back in where she’d ripped too much out.
“I done tol’ ya’ll ‘bout the time Cyril come over to my house and made a pass at me, right?” Amber said.
“Ain’t no surprise to me,” Rhonda said, pulling her curly black locks down and peering at the roots, her brown eyes rolling back into her head so she could see her hair sidelong. Sarah noticed the woman’s eyes were bloodshot around the edges, and she wondered how late Rhonda’s husband Rick had kept her up the night before. The man was insatiable. “Cyril once upon a time actually come over to my house and hit on my mama.”
“Doesn’t surprise me, either, Sally,” Pammy said, using Amber’s real name just to annoy her. “Seems to me, there hasn’t been very many men in town who haven’t tried to get in your pants.” Pammy was joking with Amber, but Sarah could still sense a residual panicked-ness in her speech and her gestures. She was still coming down from their run-in with Soames a few minutes ago.
“And ain’t many of those who didn’t succeed,” Rhonda added, laughing. They all laughed — even Sarah, tense as she felt.
Except for Amber, who scowled. “Oh, I’m sorry, Rhonda,” she said, “what did you say ‘bout Cyril coming to yo’ trailer to hit on yo’ mama?”
“It ain’t a trailer. It’s a mobile home.”
“Hey, ya’ll, that’s enough.” Bill Wells had finally arrived, strolling into the lounge with his usual loose gait, peering over his sunglasses at them. Even though Pammy and Sarah had been late to the party, it hadn’t mattered; Bill was late as well. “I know ya’ll - it’ll start out good-natured, but then you’ll just get mean,” he said. “Why cain’t ya’ll ever just keep it fun an’ not get personal with it?” Bill walked over to the coffee pot, checked and saw that it was empty, and started making a fresh one.
“Ya’ll ‘member my sister Maggie and her son Nate, don’t you?” he said.
On cue, two people walked in behind Bill - and yes, Sarah did remember them.
She’d seen Maggie around over the past couple of years, every time she came to visit Bill from wherever it was she was living now. Was it Dothan? Opelika? Maggie didn’t look much different than how Sarah remembered her from when they first met, way back when their two boys had gone to school together. She had the same long, straight, dark hair (even if it was graying a little at the temples) and the same large, sultry, doe-like brown eyes (even if there were hints of crow’s feet at their edges).
Her son Nate walked in beside her, and Sarah almost laughed. She hadn’t seen him in over twenty years, ever since he and Maggie had moved to whatever town they’d first moved to, after Maggie and Nate’s daddy had split up. Sarah’s son, Phil, saw him often, and he often said that Nate pretty much looked the same as he had when he was thirteen. Now Sarah saw that her son wasn’t exaggerating in the least. Nate was a tall - very tall, maybe six and a quarter feet tall - version of the handsome, square-shouldered, athletically-built boy he’d been back then, with dark hair like his mother’s (graying a bit at the temple like his mother’s) and bright, blue eyes like his father.
Sarah had heard from Phil that Nate was having trouble with the newspaper or magazine or whatever it was he owned up in Atlanta, and she thought she saw something of those troubles resonating in the boy’s eyes. Still, he walked in with the same ready assuredness she’d remembered from when he and Phil used to play Little League, and he immediately took possession of the room. Which, considering the formidable presence of his Uncle Bill, was no small feat.
All of the females in the room turned their full attention to him. Pammy sat up straight, which she never did, and cracked a nervous, vacuous smile. Rhonda actually made the effort to quickly wipe the powdered donut off her face. And Amber assumed a pose which smacked of a cross between a farmer’s daughter and a stripper, then said, “Hey, Nate. Remember me?”
“Now, now, Amber,” Bill said, turning back toward them from the coffee maker. “Nate ain’t got no time to become your next baby’s daddy, and he ain’t the reason I got all ya’ll together.”
Amber scowled at Bill, who ignored her, but she didn’t take her eyes off of Nate. She watched him the whole time Bill spoke, looking like she might pounce on the young man at any moment.
She watched him, that is, until Bill dropped the bomb he’d brought them all there to drop, until that and everything that came after.
- Pammy Roberts - Paula Towry
- Rhonda Byrd - Ray Manila
- Amber Blue (Sally Booker) - Stephanie Harvey
- Narrator/Bill Wells - Will Kenyon