Halloween has come and gone and I am pleased to say that I kept by promise (for a change) and got Land of the Beautiful Dead up on Amazon by my deadline. It should also now be live on CreateSpace for those who, like me, still like reading books on paper. Remember that when the zombie apocalypse happens, your e-readers will all be worthless and in thirty years, the undead lord’s mistress won’t be learning to read on a Kindle.
I’d also like to take a moment to thank everyone who has left comments/reviews/criticisms on my book, here or on your own blogs/social media page/Amazon, wherever. Heck, even if you stood up on the table at Denny’s and announced to the world it sucked, as long as you mentioned the title and my name, thank you. The hardest hurdle for any indie author is just getting out there. I am sincerely grateful you took the time to tell someone what you thought, no matter what you thought. Of course, I’m even more grateful if you thought kindly of it, but that’s because I’m enormously insecure, which is the same reason I don’t read my reviews. I know, I know, authors are supposed to be above having their feelings hurt over a bad review. Anyone who throws their work out into the public eye is supposed to have thick skin and teflon feelings. Well, it’s fine for Liberace to laugh all the way to the bank, but I don’t have the man’s confidence.
The reality is, I’m not an author. I’m a person who works by writing. And when I work on something for two years and it isn’t universally loved by literally all who clap eyes on it, my ego is shattered and dumped in a bowl of lemon juice. Before I adopted my present policy, I must have read a hundred good reviews and I could not tell you today what any one of them said, but I can quote the four bad ones I read by heart. So I don’t read them and I’m much happier. I once heard it said that writing a book is like opening a vein and bleeding all over the paper. Let me tell you, it’s true and it’s nerve-wracking enough without thinking about how other people are going to interpret the stains.
Enough about that. I hear people are already asking about the next book, because HOLY SHIT, PEOPLE! IT’S ONLY BEEN TWO WEEKS!!!! I still haven’t done my LAUNDRY from the day the book came out! I haven’t done all the laundry from the time the last book came out either. Look, I don’t do a lot of laundry. Don’t judge me. My point is, I have just finished a project and I’m taking a break before I pull Pool out of the ol’ dustry trunk of unfinished books and see where I left off.
I plan to get back to work on New Year’s Day, since that seems like the perfect time to start fresh on a new project (and we’ll just not mention the long list of broken resolutions that could, you know, wrap twice around the Earth if they elected to manifest in a physical form). Between now and then, I’m relaxing with my fanfic, which is not considered writing because it will never be published. Ha ha! I have put two hundred pages on it in two weeks. How’s that for not writing? Here is a small sample of the book you will never read in its entirety:
Ana drove only half an hour that first day, straight to Rider’s house. He and she sat up until the small hours, smoking way too fucking much and watching horror movies that seemed to get progressively sillier until they were both lying on the fucking floor and hugging each other, just howling with the tears streaming down their faces, while severed heads went flying on his big-screen TV. Then Rider became convinced yet again that he could run across the swimming pool if he could just go fast enough, so they went out to give it a go, tossing in every inflatable what-the-fuck he had first, because physics were still a thing and Jesus Christ, he was not. Thor, maybe. Not the JC.
After she pulled him out of the pool, they lay together on the stones, looking at the stars while, in the house, his girl-for-not-too-much-longer-if-she-didn’t-calm-the-fuck-down slammed doors and flicked lights angrily on and off.
“You coming back?” Rider asked suddenly, when Ana was almost sleeping, her eyes open but insignificant.
“Don’t I always?”
“This feels different.”
“It always feels different,” said Ana, closing her eyes so she could see the stars better. “I always think this is the one and I always end up back in your stable.”
“You want out? I’ll let you out.”
“Save that gangsta cradle-to-da-grave shit for Hollywood,” Rider said. “If I say I’ll let you out, I’ll let you right the fuck out. You’ve served your time. S’not like you’re gonna turn around and become a cop or some shit. You’d be happy with a little…like, a little coffee shop or something. Little glass counter with muffins and cookies and shit. Have, like, a couple racks of used books and some comfy chairs and couches, and play that alternative crap on the radio all day while kids sit around texting about social justice and checking each other’s privilege.”
Ana snickered. “Stoned-you is a closet hipster. I love it.”
“Fuck you,” Rider said comfortably.
“But it’ll never happen, Rider. I don’t mean you’ll never let it happen. I mean it never will.” She gave it some serious thought and said, “I think I was supposed to die when I was a kid.”
“Check that depressing shit now, darlin’.”
“No, I mean it. I think I was supposed to, like in that dumbshit movie we just saw. I think it was all planned out. In Mammon, I mean. Only I got away. Mom got me away. Of all people, right?” she interjected and snorted. “She tried to take it back later, but she couldn’t and that’s why my life is all fucked up. I was never supposed to live this long.”
“No,” she insisted, warming to the idea now. “You know, it’s like those old myths you read about. There’s these three ladies who weave the universe and every single person’s life is one thread. They weave them all together, these ladies. One spins, one measures and one cuts. I was spun, you know? I was measured and woven in, and then I was supposed to be cut, but I wasn’t. My thread is just…just sticking out, getting more and more tangled up the longer it gets, because it doesn’t fit anywhere. I fucked up the universe, Rider. The whole universe. I should have died.”
“Never pegged you for a fatalist.”
“It’s all fatal,” she said, opening her eyes to see the stars staring down at her with their thousand, thousand blame-filled eyes. “Nobody gets out of this game alive. Right or wrong, guilty or innocent, young or old, everybody dies.”
“Not fatality, fatalism. You’re talking about Fate. Capital F. Like, predestination and shit.”
“You just said you were supposed to die. And because you didn’t, the grand tapestry of the universe got all snarled up. Right?”
“So that means you think there’s some big plan and it’s all already worked out. Every thread woven in, you said. Every life going back to the beginning and every life going on to the very end, all measured and cut according to its color, to make the picture the universe designed. This is what you believe?”
“I guess so?”
“Well, see, there’s a paradox in that, darlin’. If Fate exists and predestination is a thing, then everything that happens was meant to happen the way it happened. So if you’re alive, then by definition, you’re supposed to be alive, no matter how random it seems to your puny mortal eyes. Because it ain’t just your thread, even if it is all snarled up. Universe made your momma do what she did. Universe made you show up soaking wet in your socks on my doorstep. Universe made you come here tonight so you could move on tomorrow. There ain’t no holes in the tapestry,” he said, lifting one hand to point at the sky, where he surely saw the proof written out in runes only he could read. “Universe got you out of Mammon for a reason. Universe is sending you back.”
Ana propped herself up on her elbows, but getting that much closer didn’t show her anything new in the night sky. “You think so?”
“Me? Naw, I don’t believe in that stuff. This life is all there is and when we die, we rot in the ground. There ain’t no Fate and there ain’t no one watching to see how bad we fuck up or to care when we die. We are on a spinning rock running circles around a burning ball of gas, pulling us through space at millions of miles an hour. Them stars you think is guiding your life are just more pockets of nuclear fusion of decreasing stability in a vast vacuum, no more aware of you than you’re aware of the billions of microscopic bugs feeding on the shit in your intestines right now. Less aware, even, because them bugs are at least feeding directly on you and those stars don’t have dick to do with us or with each other. Hell, half of them have probably burned out by now and it’s just their ghost-lights we’re seeing. There could be a billion other planets out there with life on it, a billion other folks like you, looking up and wondering, but so what? We’re all alone together in a universe that’s constantly expanding, just getting further and further and further apart. And you know what?”
He turned his head on the poolside tiles and she turned hers, so that they were looking at each other from inches away, upside down, each of them whizzing through space at a million miles an hour, but still somehow able to touch.
“It’s all right,” he said.