Capitol Reef National Park

Friday, September 16, 2016

Intersections Preview - Contains Eureka in Flames Spoilers - be aware!

“So what you’re saying is?”
From a folding metal chair that he was sitting on in a room in an abandoned hanger building, Colonel Marcus Powell looked at Allison Hoffman, who was also sitting on one of these ragtag chairs, and he said, “You didn’t kill Ralph Richards.”
“But I threw out all of the light energy that I could at that prick. I literally saw it going out of my body and toward the spirit. I lost two of my friends as a result of the explosion.”
“I know. You’re not a bull shitter. That’s why you’re here, working with all of us to solve our mutual problems.”
“You just watched the video feed of me doing it again, out there in the desert of wherever the hell we are.”
“I know.”
“You saw me incinerate the test site.”
“I know.”
“So how didn’t I kill him if I blew the hell out of that area?”
“Your weapon is like a nuclear bomb, but smaller, and it doesn’t emit nuclear radiation, though it does have a concentrated blast source and a lot of thermal heat, plus a lot of light. It also has a special substance seen only in paranormal explosions.”
“How do you know that?”
“We’ve been working on this stuff for a while.”
“I see.”
“Essentially, our scientists were able to determine that you only put off a fair bit of contained energy at the site in the form of thermal heat and blast strength, plus that extreme light.”
“You’re telling me what I already know.”
“It all came back to a simple thing really: the windows.”
“We speculated that this was the case, but we had to be sure.”
“So how about you tell me how this is.”
“The windows were still standing. From where you unleashed your mind power, a blast that would have been big enough to neutralize a developed and aggressive poltergeist would be something in the neighborhood of 500 pounds of TNT. That would have taken the building to dust or at least necessitated screen windows.”
“And you know this because of?
“Tests we did with other people who have these powers and who have used them on angry ghosts.”
“So I’m not the only one you’re studying like a lab rat?”
“Of course not. We don’t place all of our eggs in one basket.”
“But if I didn’t do it, then who did?”
“Why would he kill Ralph?”
“Well, he didn’t do it alone. You helped him. Neither one of you were strong enough alone, but you could do it together, so when he saw you getting ready to do it, he jumped in the game to help out.”
“What did he use?”
“We’re assuming something that got inside of Richards’ mind. It crushed his will to resist and made him more susceptible. Simply put, Kaldac crushed his inner strength while you tore through his outer frame.”
“That’s quite a one-two punch.”
“Yes, especially since we know that Kaldac can forcefully speak to people who cause problems for him.”
 “But why would he kill his faithful servant?”
“The curse punished them to walk this ground together. If they weren’t together anymore, then the curse didn’t work. It’s kind of a supernatural loophole.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Neither did we, but apparently, Kaldac’s gamble worked so right now, we have the brother of Bsoashavic looking to regain contact with his demonic family in an effort to control the souls of these two sacrificed children’s spirits.”
“You’ll have to bring me up to speed.”
“All in due time.”
Melissa Silver looked back into the burning brothel that once housed her livelihood. Even before the boards of the saloon turned into a raging inferno, she knew that she should have never conspired with Bob Clifford, the head of the Ford Silver Mine, and Leon Durham, the town sheriff, in order to bring Ralph Richards to justice. Even with a posse of company men and law enforcement types, Richards had that demon on his side. She knew the beast’s power because she once found herself in allegiance with it, too. Now, the witch knew that she had to get away from this destruction forever. However, before she could follow her destiny, she had to lay a curse to both Richards and Kaldac, which would imprison them to this land together for all time’s sake.
“As long as you both shall walk this earth, you will be bound to these grounds of Eureka, Nevada. Your forms will stay with these ashes, and you will be trapped here,” she said, betraying her former master and his extreme demands to chain it and his henchman to the desert nothing.
Melissa knew there were always ways for curses to be broken, but in 1879, she would take her chances that nobody who had those powers would come there to do this for a long time. Sure, there were other witches. She herself was one. There were also men who would willingly choose to serve Satan and his minions. She led Ralph to become one. Nevertheless, there were degrees of allegiance to the darkness, and there were some things that she just couldn’t do. Ralph had no filter for what he wouldn’t do. This scared her, and she never spooked.
She just had to get away from these things, but where and how? Then she remembered their discussion of the twins in Blackrock Canyon. They too were cursed by time, but maybe she could use her powers to break that curse or to find someone else who could help her.
Until then, she had other places that she had to go in order to get away from the duo. Right now, she had a date with another miner named Franklin Urban, who was going to help her escape from the town and start anew in Utah. She would be close enough, but far away from the twins when the time came. Franklin would assist her in being ready to fulfill this endeavor. In return, she would have to give him a place at the table and a share of the wealth and her “love,” but with help, all things were possible. Until then, she would be rid of Ralph Richards and Kaldac.
She hoped.
“So how much power do I have?”
“Well, based on the strength of your actions in the desert this morning, I’m thinking about the equivalent of a hundred pounds of TNT, but it’s all concentrated in that the blast is contained around your target and about a ten-yard circle surrounding him.”
“I don’t understand how it couldn’t be strong enough.”
“That’s what we need you and the others to confer on. How can you pack more of a punch with your mind energy? I don’t need an answer now, but I need you to think about it.”
“Either way, I’m not sure. I wouldn’t even know where to begin.”
“That’s why you’ll have others to talk to. We have one woman who set off what was the equivalent of a kiloton nuke in the astral world while all the while protecting herself from so much as a scratch.”
“I assume that’s really good.”
“She never did it before. It would seem she’s a natural.”
“Yeah, that’s also what I said.”
“So where is Kaldac?”
“He’s free, and he’s already in southeastern Utah.”
“But how did he get there?”
“It seems Tim Wesley gave him a ride when the curse ended.”
“Where’s Tim now?”
“He was disposed of permanently. I think we all knew that it would come to this when he went missing, but we didn’t think he’d be found so closely to Blackrock Canyon. That means that Kaldac is planning for the next stage of this war.”
“What’s that?”
“The end of the world.”
The beat-up old 1976 mint green Chevy Nova pulled off the side of Hovenweep Road. Looking at his companion, the driver, a nearly sixty-year old Native American, informed his wife it was time for a bathroom break. She looked at him with annoyance that he couldn’t wait to get back to their house, but he informed her that nature was calling, and he was answering, even if it was here on a roadside in the middle of nowhere.
As the man walked away from the road, he spied what seemed like a person lying down in the desert brush. The body was about thirty feet away, so he tried to ascertain what it was in the morning heat. As he did, instantly, his thoughts transferred from needing to water the weeds to seeing what this was.
“What the hell are you doing, John? Hurry up. I want to go home and watch The Steve Wilkos Show.”
Shut up, will you? I think I see something?”
“Well, what is it?”
“I think it’s a person sleeping, but that can’t be. Who the hell is sleeping out in the open on a hot July day?”
“Sleeping or passed out?”
“Well,” he said moving to what he clearly saw was a person. “I’m not sure. Hey, mister?”
The body didn’t move, so the man put his boot on the body’s shoulder and shook the man’s body hard enough that he would wake up, but not too hard in that he would hurt him. The man still didn’t move, so John knelt at the body’s side.
“Be careful with these drunks, John.”
John rolled the body over, and saw the hollow expression of death on the body’s face.
“Linda, I think we need to call your brother. This guy is dead.”
Calling a local policeman was all they could do since no amount of medical treatment was going to save this man. However, the authorities of the Navajo Nation would be able to at least find out who this misplaced guy with his flashy West Coast style suit was. Even if they couldn’t do that without American police, they would at least be able to take care of his corpse before the buzzards did.
For all that they didn’t know, two things were certain: this man definitely wasn’t from around here and he didn’t appear to be murdered, if the lack of blood meant anything to all of this.
“Are you familiar with a woman by the name of Anne Kline?”
“Annie?” Allison asked.
“Yes, she’s the one. She’s here with us, too.”
“But she has to be about seventy-five now. What can she do to help with this?”
“She can teach you, and she can also confer with you on other issues.”
“Issues like what?”
“She taught a woman by the name of Susan Heilman a little over a decade ago. Are you familiar with her?”
“I’m sorry, Marcus. I don’t know her.”
“That’s OK. We do. We’ve been keeping an eye on her for a while. She’s in Moab, which isn’t far from the ultimate destination of where you’re going.”
“Where’s that?”
“Blackrock Canyon. Did you ever hear of it?”
“Isn’t that the archaeological place in southeastern Utah?”
“One and the same. You know your news. That’s more than I can say for Ernie.”
“The cliff dwellings never were his thing.”
“Well they’re this gal Suzie’s thing, and seeing as she sets off mind bombs in the astral world, we’d like to know more about her.”
“So why didn’t you bring her in to talk about them and protect her from whatever is out there?”
“We need her to stay hidden from the demonic forces and the men who are working with them.”
“But isn’t she in danger?”
“Not really. In fact, she’s safer there. Besides, astral bombs, remember?”
“I’d think that because those things are after her, they would be a little bit more than the average astral realms evil spirit. Am I right?”
“Apparently not. Annie can help you understand.”
“The last time I saw her, she couldn’t even help herself.”
“She does have her issues. A lot of people in your profession do, no offense.”
“None taken, dickhead.”
He laughed at her, and then said, “With all of the hucksters and freaks, we ruled out a lot of people quickly. How did you ever end up with a pair of con artists like Lee and Maggie?”
“Opportunity to be in active spots and to get paid. They did their game, and I gave them what I could. I also got real experience. Most of my stuff was subtle and not fit for television, but it was real.”
“We know. Annie told us so.”
“So then she’s doing better than the drugs and abusive relationships that she was in.”
“No, not at all.”
“Why not?”
“Because she’s been ingesting some serious new drugs.”
“Hallucinogenic drugs now. Well, that and pot. Our main interest is something weird out of Mexico. It’s called Our Lady of Guadalupe.”
“You want to keep her clean?”
“Actually, we want to monitor her while she uses it. There are some really wild effects in it. When it comes to psychic abilities, this stuff accentuates the hell out of them.”
 “Is this some CIA LSD experiment?”
“Not at all.”
“And you’re saying these psychic and hallucinogenic properties are real? I mean Nostradamus had an apothecary background going into his clairvoyant days. I’m sure I can see some pretty wild stuff on those substances, too, but that doesn’t make them real. If you’re this worried about fakers, how do you know Annie is real?”
“I assure you, her psychic ability is on the up and up. She may be a mess of a woman when it comes to relationships and issues with chemicals, but she’s already predicting things we can confirm.”
“Like what?”
“Above top secret. Sorry.”
Allison looked at him with anger.
“You’re not going to get more out of me than I want to tell you.”
“Can you at least tell me where I am?”
“You’re in Nevada.”
“Is this Area 51?”
Powell smiled, and then he spoke again.
“We’ve been keeping close tabs on Annie. She’s off the charts with her memories of what she dreams and daydreams.”
“That’s something, but is she safe? How bad is this stuff?”
“She is safe now, and we can’t be sure how safe the stuff is. When we brought her in, we made the decision that she would do Our Lady of Guadalupe with or without our blessing. We wanted the data, so if we can get as much as we can… then we had to greenlight it.”
“Fair enough, I guess. As for this Suzie, how are you watching her? Does she know?”
“She is not aware, at least in the fact she hasn’t let on regarding preventative measures at avoiding us. As for the surveillance, we have insiders in the police department in Moab. There is one in particular who can make what we need to happen occur.”
“And he’s who?”
“Right now, that’s on a need to know basis, too, and while you will eventually need to know, you don’t need to know now.”
“I don’t understand that either.”
“It could be days before that need to know happens. If someone finds you and captures you, you could divulge his secrecy. We’ll tell you when you shake hands with him.”
“But what if I’m captured after that? I could still give away details.”
“Trust me; you won’t be captured.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Think about it, Allison. The demons who are interested in all of us will be destroying the world when we rendezvous with the police in Moab. They won’t need information because they’ll be strong enough to kill everyone, you and me included.”
“That’s what I said.”
“So what do we do to make sure that doesn’t happen?”
“A good place to start is working with Annie about what the two of you know and what Suzie knew or could know as based on her training with Annie.”
“But that was ages ago. She could have met many teachers since then.”
“I know because she has; however, this will at least give us a baseline reading to go on. We’ll just run some fancy regression analysis on our computers, and then we can estimate.”
“Even military paranormal investigators use statistics. I guess I should have taken my class more seriously.”
“You should have,” Powell said smiling. “But then you wouldn’t be helping us now.”
“So it’s us three real women against the world with Gilly and Ernie backing us up with Atomic 2000 Squirt Blasters.”
“Not really. The two of them are being trained with real weapons.”
“Are they here, too? Can I see them?”
“No and no. There’s a reason that we split you up. Different people need different training in different places. You’ll be together really soon. I promise.”
“I’ll hold you to that.”
“And I will bring you all together, really,” he replied. “But right now, we have other things to do.”
“So tell me how do bullets work against things that aren’t living? That’s why we went with the holy water guns.”
“We’ll have holy water for some things, but they’ll use specialty bullets against the demons.”
“I know there are rounds for guns, like Hydra-Shok for pistol ammunition, but what can that do against demons?”
“What does an aging hippie psychic know about that kind of ammunition?”
“Strangely, I seem to attract a lot of men who want to hunt monsters, so I hear these things when they try to recruit me?”
“You don’t let them?”
“That would be a deathwish.”
“Probably a valid point. All the same, we won’t be using those. Let’s just say there are certain holy relics, which can be cut down and melted into the tips of ammunition.”
“But isn’t that desecration?”
“Maybe, but we have Vatican approval to do what we need to do. Besides, the church is about the power of God. These things are best used to eliminate Satan’s power on earth. We’re doing what we have to do with the limited resources we have available.”
Allison sat in stunned silence
“I know. That’s what I said, too.”
“With all our similar expressions, you’d think we came from the same mother.”
He laughed.
“But those holy relic things; I can only imagine they’re one of a kind and priceless,” Allison added.
“Allison, life on earth is more priceless and valuable than anything we’ve recovered. Without these things, we don’t stand a chance.”
She gulped.
“That was my remark, too.”
Raymond Stoltzfus looked at Gilly and Ernie, and he smiled.
“I’m glad to see you’re a natural with the guns.”
“Thanks, but what’s an Amish guy doing training people for combat with demons?”
“What’s a British guy doing in America pretending to look for ghosts?” the man said back at Ernie.
“Good point, but we weren’t pretending.”
“That’s not what I heard, though I did hear that pretending for the camera pays well. Maybe you can train me when we’re done with this mission. I’d rather make bank that risk my neck day in and day out.”
“We were looking, but we did elaborate things from time to time. However, we can hold our own when the chips are down. That’s for sure,” Gilly said.
“That’s why you’re here. You were looking, and you did deal with a certain particularly nasty being. You almost beat him.”
“So that says we can take care of ourselves when the game is on the line,” Ernie said.
“No, it means that you got lucky, but we figured it was easier to train you and offer you a shot at revenge than just kill you outright and have to dig a hole.”
“So what does the training consist of?” Gilly asked.
“Handguns, sniper rifles, shotguns, and hand to hand combat briefly. That and you get to work out in the gym to stay fit while avoiding the legal entanglements of what’s going on back in Eureka.”
“Why only brief hand to hand combat training?” Ernie asked.
“Well, gentlemen, this is where I give you the bad news. If you go hand to hand with a demon, you will die. We try to stay far enough away that we can take carefully placed shots at them. All hand to hand will do is give you a chance to keep them away from us while we run like hell in the other direction.”
“That’s messed up,” Ernie replied.
“I’m going to say this the hip way, gentlemen. I’m all about keeping it real. There’s no point lying to you. You’d find out soon enough anyway.”
“Is there any way to refuse this job offer now that we accepted?” Gilly asked.
“You know the answer to that.”
“That’s what I thought,” Gilly laughed.
“So what’s a regular guy like you doing here?” Ernie asked.
“I made the mistake of helping to rescue a downed UFO a few years ago. We got it out of the woods, and a man named Bart Doherty recruited me and some of the other guys for this little circus sideshow. It was kind of hard to go back to farming in Big Valley when I saw dead alien bodies being carted out of the Pennsylvania mountains in pickup trucks.”
The two men looked at him.
“Are you for real?” Gilly asked.
“As real as you are with fighting demons in close quarters with squirt rifles filled with holy water.”
“Awesome!” Gilly replied and slapped the man with a big high five.
“You’re a unique bloke,” Ernie added. “Now can you tell me when we get to use those M-16s.”

“I thought you’d never ask.”

Monday, August 15, 2016

The JK Rowling Blues

            If you search for my book Dead Mouths: Book 1 on a Kindle search on Amazon (using the term “dead mouths”), the second book that comes up is called My Sister In-Law’s Mouth: Over My Wife’s Dead Body Book 2. The author is listed as Kilgore Trout Jr, which is most interesting in that whoever wrote this “classic” had to have read Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse 5 or some of the other books that said author’s “father” appeared as a fictional character in.

            While Vonnegut’s author was sold in adult stores, he was a science fiction writer, like the author who created him. It was said that he had great plots, but it was also said that these were the best parts of his writing.

Sitting here now hoping that someone finds my books and pays for them, this Amazon search makes me wonder what people will think of the fact that I am a self-published author, posting to tens of sites in the hopes that someone finds my book and decides to plunk down $3.99 on it (or $2.99 for my other book).  Will they think that this could possibly be a reference to a line in Pablo Neruda’s From the Heights of Machu Picchu Canto 12 (“I come to speak for your dead mouths”I come to speak for your dead mouths.I come to speak for your dead mouths.I come to speak for your dead mouths.) or am I destined to be forgotten in the where are they now bin when they think of what else a mouth does other than speak?

            Of course, there are many successes out there in the demo tape world of books, but then again, if Mr. “Trout’” can be judged for his cover, there’s a lot of other stuff, too. Of course, book genres like erotica sell (who am I to judge writing in supernatural fiction), and indie publishing’s biggest hit is 50 Shades of Gray, which is essentially “mom porn.” Who’s to complain about what people read if it gets them reading? That said, I’d assume there’s a plot with E.L. James (I refuse to read or watch – no matter how many books she sells), but I just am led to believe that this other “book” (a term I use loosely, though I am interested, even if only at the free Kindle Unlimited price) is simply a Penthouse letter that went long (no sexual innuendo intended).

Thus, by this book being here on Amazon’s Kindle site, we are led to believe that someone put effort into writing this, publishing it, and finding a model to get scantily clad for the cover. Here, we have to believe that this cost money to do because there are many stops along the way in the Create Space process, and all of them cost money if you don’t want to do it yourself (lots of money in fact). For that purpose, we’ll believe Trout did this himself, but we also believe he paid a model, or at the very least, he used up a favor with a friend.

And here, we have to believe it’s a he, though it could be a woman if she knows what sells to men, and yes, there is a series of these books. Like a man that my sister works with, he knows what sells, and that’s why he write’s romance books for $80,000 a year (if the story about him is true, and we have no reason to believe it isn’t). Maybe Kilgore is actually Kim or Kylie, and she’s raking in the does at $2.99 a pop to make that sweet 70% commission (as opposed to 35% if the author were to charge less) so that she can get Sandals vacations and a BMW in the driveway. Wouldn’t you?

That said, most of us would, but we still won’t see the rewards, no matter how long we leave our revenue streams up.

So in the end, at two dollars and change for a book, both Trout and I are giving it away to get some dream in return. Like many authors, we aspire to a movie / TV deal, Stephen King / James Patterson expectations on our book sales, and to be recognized, should we ever hire an Uber driver (which I don’t expect to since I own my own car). But what do really get out of our time other than to say that unlike many who aspire, we have succeeded.

Here, I think about 15.5 months of writing 3 books (with the second volume of Dead Mouths still not done with its final edit, so a little longer to type out and edit and re-edit my 900+ pages). Even if we just look at Eureka in Flames, I put a solid 150 hours into that. With 65 books sold at about $2 a pop before taxes, I’m still not making $1 hour. Are my services worth the $15 an hour that McDonald’s workers are demanding? Hell, I think I’m good for Robert Kirkman / Walking Dead money. But is anyone else buying? Thus, even at “slave” wages, McDonald’s employees get more for their duties than me.

True, I haven’t gone all in, as I’m still publicizing for free. I haven’t boosted posts or hired an agent. I didn’t send out free copies looking for reviews on them. Fortunately, I do have 2 reviews, both good, but the tastemakers aren’t bursting down my doors to tell me that all my work is about to be rewarded because I posted to one of countless free promotion sites. Hell, I haven’t even been spammed by someone else on them lately. Not that I want to be, but attention is a good thing.

Through it all, I’m glad I have some shred of self-esteem left, though it’s really only a shred at this point. Fortunately, the good will of family and friends is still hanging on, at least in parts, though it should be said that Netflix binging is a hell of a lot easier to make happen than let’s say 12 hours for the average person to read just under 400 pages.

And it’s still early, and there are lots of options that I’ll have to search out and apply. Hopefully, the cost / reward ratio will be there for library visitations and next year’s science fiction events as well as the hope that I can at least pay off the copies of my books that I order for these. Sure, I can make more than 2:1 cash on these, but I have to go into these things with substantial copies of each book just in case because Heaven forbid that I have 12 people who all want a signed copy, and I only have 10 books. And what if they all want the complete collection of all 3 books that will be available at this time?

Right now, I feel those deep down J.K. Rowling blues. You know the kind where there’s no other outlet than the major leagues saying, “Don’t quit your day job” as they send her off to do whatever it is that comes next while the bills pile up, the vacations await, the car gets worn down, and the future looms with no guarantee of a day-glo lime Jeep in my parking spot any time soon.

But J.K. made it count. She stood up and tried again. That takes guts and endurance to push a kid’s book that hard so that it’s loved by adults as well. To get there, she went through divorce, welfare, and depression. When she was accepted, she stopped being Joanne to not put boys off from reading her work.

Now, the 12 publishing houses that sent her packing, the dumbass rejecters, that is, they have to be kicking themselves now that she had 7 movies in the top 50 movies of all time (only 1 Harry Potter didn’t make it, just barely, but 1 more will soon be on the list) and more successful books than that. Oh, and ol’ girl has a theme park.

If that’s the goal, then the idea is that we need to go Michael Phelps and get in the zone no matter who or what gets in our head. Today, as I contemplate a publicity blitz and using up whatever assistance I can without going Kickstarter (though I’m not putting that past me), the goal is to be happy and realize that overnight success is a myth.

The goal is to avoid the J.K. Blues.

However, as I move to publish and make it count, level 2, the one that says people outside of the already established circle have to be established, I think about how to make that happen, and to make the world love my book on my terms (or if you’ll give me the Jeep and the World Petroglyph Tour, I’ll turn Tony Lucas into whoever you think sells).

You know, because I’m a ho like that. Aren’t we all?

But yeah, there’s pride and my personality and my ethics, so I’ll avoid that “My Sister In-Law’s Mouth Route,” because not to sound whatever, but I’m kind of hoping I get big and famous before Trout.

Truth be told, I’m sure all of us would go all Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson on people for a chance at the prize of being successful.

So as those clickbait pages that tell us the stories of how many rejections the great went through to get there, we just have to believe because good things are to come if we work hard and edit our work.

I think that’s how it works.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Talking to Myself 2

            With the release of both Dead Mouths books on the same day, what can we expect from this monumental release? I would hope that they would signal something ambitious, like Wilco’s Being There double disc, which was released together after A.M. Now, it wouldn’t be a big deal to see a band like Wilco do this since they’re a major player in the indie scene, but to compete with the glory that was Son Volt’s Trace, Jeff Tweedy had to respond in a big way, or he would have been that other guy in Uncle Tupelo. For me, the books were always meant to be together as one unit, so it’s not unthinkable that they’re both out the same day. It wasn’t like I always planned to hold off until I could do a Guns ‘N Roses Use Your Illusion. Besides, I won’t be holding the top two spots on the first week of chart sales. Instead, I want to put the backlog catalog out and move forward with halfway done projects like Intersections, The Last Day of Hunting Season, and The Wendigo Story, which will have a better name at some point. Sitting and looking at unfinished files, either for lack of time to write or inspiration to edit, is just depressing.
            That both of these books are from the same work is why they’re the same name? Yes. One book would have been too long and too expensive for a demo book / vanity printing. I thought about a different name for book one, but I just couldn’t so they’re both Dead Mouths.
            There are many new characters in these books, but there are a few older ones. Can you tell us about them? First and foremost is Tony Lucas. He’s the Blanding, Utah, chief of police. I’d describe him as a conservative man’s man in 2016. I wanted a character that my dad would like. He’s a great cop, a loving husband, a loyal friend, and the head honcho protector of his town. If I could be anyone in the story, I would be him because he balances professional between tough in a perfect way despite his use of unorthodox means like “wall to wall counselling” and the like.
            However, there’s another character that is more your persona? Yes, that would be Dave Robinson, who was drafted to be the lead, but as he was always the Roy Scheider in Jaws figure, it was clear that he couldn’t be the lead for what this story was meant to be (originally a trilogy, but now much longer). When I jackhammered the outline and went from a secret passage in a cliff dwelling leading to a single confrontation with a demon to what it is now, which is much different, his life became necessary to make S1 happen, but it was necessary in a different way than I originally made it be.
            How was it like Martin Brody? Well, Brody was a Chief of Police on an island, but he was afraid of the water. He was forced out into the ocean and left to his lonesome to confront the shark. The same is true for Kurt Russell in Executive Decision. Steven Seagal is wiped out and the desk jockey has to become a military hero. In this book, Dave’s anxiety and obsessions mix with his office nature to force him to step up or die. I like that in a character. Here, he’s not a hero in a traditional sense, nor is he one in an actual sense, but he does get opportunities to be heroic. Even if other characters will be the real heroes.
            Heroism is important for you. It most definitely is. If we look at large groups of the characters being led to a place where they will be intersecting in the book Intersections, we see others intertwining here to lead each other to a good place. Thus, it’s more like Stephen King’s The Stand or The Walking Dead than The Avengers, but a character like Colin Jameson, who is the sole focus of The Wendigo Story is a Captain America style superhero for what he represents and how he can do it. His military commanders, guys like Marcus Powell and Bart Doherty, as well as other men and women he will end up with also have power and special powers.
            You mention a lot of men, but who are the women? Well, Charlotte Robinson is one of these women, but she doesn’t know how she will be yet. The “writer” Susan Mavern is also more a part of the story than a pair of preludes. In addition, the most central lead female character in this story so far is Suzie Heilman. She’s more a paranormal source of power who is intermingling between many lives. And yeah, I’m being deliberately vague to not give things away with any of the characters, less people won’t buy my book! Originally, she was a throwaway line that became a character. Now, she’s kickass!
            You have other characters that grew out of that. I do. Both Charles “Chuck” Johnson and Henriette Fressineau were minor characters that begged for life and a second chance at living. Both would have had quick demises in the original story, like an unnamed character assisting Jack Bauer in 24, but they didn’t, and now they’re part of the new jackhammered plot because I couldn’t kill them off immediately, like I had planned.
            Killing isn’t easy, is it?!! Not at all. The most violent death in the books took me to a month-long break from writing. After that, it’s easier, but it feels real to hurt an imaginary character in that way. This death rattled me, even with its toned-down writing.
            Without giving the plot away, was this a main character? Well, I can’t give it away, so I’ll just say the character isn’t as quick to enter and leave as a “Random Cop #8,” if that’s what you’re asking!
            What about the Greers? It was essential to allow the history to develop and grow. I wanted to be true to a conservative desert ranch feel with a little bit of mystery. I also wanted the family to be likable, but I wanted them to be conflicted and able to make heel turns if necessary. That they’re not easy to pin down makes the book go forward into suspense.
            As for your villains, what were you going for with them? With Smothers, I wanted stock evil with the potential for complete evil like Senator Palpatine in the Star Wars movies. By the way, the voices of Kaldac and Ralph Richards often sounded like the Emperor to me when I was writing their parts in Eureka in Flames. As for Thurman Strong, he was always villainous, but he was never the arch-nemesis to what was going on; he just made it happen. Gary has evil in him, but there is just a lost middle-aged man in him. He’s like many bosses. People don’t always like them, but he’s not deliberately scheming to destroy the world. As for the demons and Visions of Clouds, they get to be and breathe, but their histories, other than what’s revealed in these first two books is part of the book after Intersections, which is called A Lot of People Die.
            A lot of musical and baseball things happen in this book, which seem like personal interests, but they aren’t, or are they? Benson Villaneuva and Chico GutiĆ©rrez are both central to Intersections after being background “noise” here. You may not be a baseball fan or a fan of an indie rock band, but both are needed to move the plot through to Season Three’s all-out action fest that is coming. Trust me; your patience will be rewarded. That said, all of the music that’s here means something to me, so I would support the bands or listen to the music to hear connections that I was intending.
            So what’s different here than the quick and dirty standalone Eureka in Flames than here? Well, the characters had to live and breathe instead of action from the first page to the last page. The older Greers; Harlan, Archibald, Ethan, and Willard, had to live again to make Harvey who he is. Barry Greer also had to be mentioned with members of Tony Lucas’ now deceased family to understand later chapters. Dave and Charlotte’s Pennsylvania lives and Suzie’s upbringing, from Japan to America, had to be told. Predetermined intersections and fate needed to prepare the characters to be together, both now and in the past. How can we care for characters if we don’t know who they are?
            This is something you learned from literature, right? Yeah, I’m a goll-danged Russian novel, but I’m also The Walking Dead. I’m an M. Night Shyamalan movie. I’m influenced by Nathaniel Hawthorne short stories as well as Jonathan Edwards’ “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” and George Orwell’s “Shooting an Elephant.” I’ve said it before, but I also follow the guidance of Aristotle’s Poetics for rules. Nevertheless, for as literary as I once was with Orwell, Faulkner, Dostoevsky, and the like, now I prefer Destination America shows and straight forward history done well.
            Is the character Wolf a product of history? Somewhat. He’s based on a man that I met at Ute Tribal Park in 2003. That guy was desert-hardened and cool in an older, tough guy kind of way. I think Wolf does him well. I also want Wolf to be a voice for Native America and a hero for a history that I find very intriguing.
            Dead Mouths is based on history, right? I mean not completely, but… Yeah. It was based on Waldo Wilcox’s news story of giving away his land, which housed many undisturbed Native American ruins, which led to this book. I said, “What if he did it because the land was haunted?” I mixed in some things I had read about cannibalism at Cowboy Wash, which mixed with my later on reading of Christy and Jacqueline Turner’s Mancorn. Between that and a healthy love for the archaeology and geology of the Colorado Plateau’s wilderness mixed with the supernatural, you get Blackrock Canyon.

            So what would you say to someone getting ready to read about 680 pages over two books of your story with the promise for much more to come in the indefinite future? Enjoy! I hope to have Intersections ready for Christmas sales, but all is depending on when I do The Wendigo Story and time between teaching and a planned surgery that is coming in December. I’d also say, “Thanks for supporting my writing dream.” It means more than most people will ever realize.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

August 20th... it's coming quickly.

Dead Mouths book 1+2 will be released in Kindle and paperback formats August 20th.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Talking to Myself

So now that you’ve indie published your first book on Amazon, how do you feel? Completely overwhelmed with the positive response. The goal for sales was 50, and in the first week, I saw 54 books sold. What’s amazing is that half of the sales were actual books. Some books were even being sold outside of my immediate or secondary reach. To be successful, it can’t just be about friends, family, and friends of family. All of the sales made me ecstatic, but those other sales moved things to another level.
So what happens now, and what are your next goals? Well, obviously, the next goal is triple digits. Inevitably, every author wants his or her work to grow to a point where it takes on a life of its own and he or she wakes up to new sales consistently. Inevitably, it would also be nice as Eureka in Flames joins additional published works so that it and they receive interest that I know they would deserve from mediums outside of the independent realm. To have my books read as a series would show just how valuable they are to people.
What do you mean by this “independent realm?” Obviously, every author sees a book as a film. I did write Eureka and the beginning of the as yet unnamed Wendigo book with the intention that they could be made into a movie, but I wrote the main books of the Blackrock Canyon series (Dead Mouths and Intersections) with a feel of a Walking Dead TV series in mind. I would love to see the characters visualized and expressed from my prose. While the subject matter and the language do get intense, I would prefer it to stay within PG13 or R, where it feels like some younger people might be OKed to see it with their parents, though it couldn’t be watered down beneath that. That said, I don’t ever want it to become a gratuitous violence thing like Saw or nudity for the sake of women baring their butts and chests just because like some of what Game of Thrones felt that it had to be. I know some people really dig on that show, but for me, I think I would have liked it better as a high school kid.
That seems to be a bold line in the sand for a book and a potential barrier to some fans who carve those things. Yeah, perhaps it is, but the rules of Aristotle’s Poetics that discuss focusing on the scene at hand and not deliberately shocking readers, thus detracting them from the scene with unnecessary nipples and orifices or grossing them out with blood, covers all of this. Things that don’t have to be there seem anathema.
But this doesn’t mean that these things aren’t there, does it? Of course not. There is actually one really horrific death in Dead Mouths Part 2, where a character is brutally murdered. However, it’s done off screen, much like Oedipus gouging out his eyes. The result of the action is seen, and the reader knows what happened because he or she witnesses a bandaged victim – not a knife wielding self-abusive act. To witness a murder up close or a bloody act like that would be too much. For me, it was the hardest thing to write because I had to imagine it and put it on the paper. I hated creating it in the same way that I hate watching terrorist actions in movies. We need to see them to make a villain that can be hated in that way, but to see innocent life lost in violent ways or even to witness a bad person killed in evil ways by darker forces can be too much.
What purpose did this murder serve, if I can ask without giving the plot away? It made a certain lesser character evil and moved said person up to the Major Leagues in later books.
How does killing characters make you feel? Well, if it’s Officer 1, it’s no big deal. Just like in 24, if they don’t give an officer helping Jack Bauer a name, you know he’s meat. In Eureka, there are people that shuffle off, and they have names. This isn’t a bad thing since a reader has to be able to believe that Tony Lucas, David Robinson, “Wolf” Owens, Harvey Greer, Chuck Jones, and Suzie Heilman can all die even though they’re the book’s core six. Granted, it’s nice to get the Walking Dead’s “If Glen dies, we riot” feel, but when they have to bring a dead character back / not give him an official send off on Talking Dead to create a sense of immortality, it’s too much to believe that a main character has a chance to die off unless it’s a very special episode.
But those characters are part of Dead Mouths, so you’ve had 15 months with them. You feel more personally toward them than Eureka’s characters, don’t you? Yes and no. While I wrote the first story (Eureka) quickly, I did it with the experience of Dead Mouths pretty much behind me. In that book, Henriette and Chuck were both meant to be quick exits, but somehow, I grew attached to what could be their greater purposes. Thus, they were saved from a quick exit and given life blood because I just couldn’t kill them off at that point. Thus, they became some of my “six characters in search of an author.” The same could be said for Suzie, Chico Gutierrez, Benson Villaneuva, and Sean “Big Dig” Caruthers. All of them were non-essential / one-off points in the plot or just a series of adjectives and extras, but now Intersections relies on them and their history to advance Blackrock.
And that’s how Eureka in Flames came to be. Yeah, even The Demon Hunters of Dodge County were a throw-away line in the story that shined out with potential in one of the final reviews. Making them into a team of phonies that have to play it real begged to be written. When I came up with a way to connect it to Blackrock Canyon, it just seemed like, “You gotta do this, dude.” And I did, knocking it all out in about a month…  maybe a little over it. This allowed me to go back into the final edits of Blackrock with more color to them than if I did things otherwise. For this, I’m glad I got too overwhelmed and read with the Blackrock drafts during my revisions after adding “reality” the story.
A short one-off book is what you went into Dead Mouths thinking, too, right? Yeah. I would have knocked that out in a couple months, 250 pages, and done. Then, I had about 400 pages in 8.5x11 Word formatting, which turns out almost twice as long in 6x9, so I had to split the book in half to make it manageable and affordable. What’s more, the story took on a life of its own, and it’s now an expanding universe. Keeping it as one book would be a $30-40 paperback, even with the affordable Amazon / Create Space prices.
So why $2.99 with Kindle? Why not go cheaper to attract fans and reviews? That was the original plan, and if I could have made 70% at $1.99, I would have, but they were taking 65% at that price point. I couldn’t have my publisher make more than me. That seemed wrong. I’ll accept cost for credit cards, advertising, and delivery platform, but that’s it.
How much do you make on an $8.99 book? I get $2 and change for penny candy, which I can’t complain about at all. The reader gets a beautifully printed book, and both the printer and the writer get cash. Once again, for Amazon’s platform, I have no gripes on this at all. They’re top notch.
So you like the print job? If I could, I’d marry it, but it’s a book and I’m married, so yeah. In all seriousness, holding the book for the first time was a humbling thrill. It was more beautiful than I ever realized it could be.
How about the first autograph? I was even more humbled, and it was hard to write a lot, but what I did write was done with sincere appreciation and respect.
Are autographs important to you? Giving my fans back the respect that they have for me is important. If someone wants an autograph or a picture, I’m there for it. I’m not so huge that I can’t accommodate a crowd or in need of bodyguards to keep overzealous fans away. I don’t ever want to be that guy, even if I ink a seven-figure HBO / Warner Brothers deal. Some people are afraid to lose the intimacy, and they try to stay indie when they should go big, even if they have to listen to the haters cry “sell out.” For instance, I think of the first wave of Neutral Milk Hotel reunion shows. They sold hundreds of thousands of discs to adoring fans plus introductions via “illegal” downloads, and people loved those discs, especially Aeroplane over the Sea. It was disappointing when they played shoeboxes and sold out show quickly like that when they should have been doing 2-5,000 person places. Then they did a proper tour at venues, and I saw them twice, which was incredible, especially at Ommegang Brewery. That was my favorite show ever, and I’ve seen a lot of shows. If I ever get lots of fans, I’d like to still be able to accommodate for them for book readings the like. Being generous to those who drop cash for us shouldn’t be a chore that comes for a price like with some people. I think of the money I paid for a picture with Carlos Mencia. Funny guy, and I know money is a good thing, but at some point, where does it end? The same can be said for ridiculous prices to pose with sports stars. I get if it’s for a signed ball or bat, but $50 because someone had a minor role on a championship team for the sake of a “complete” ball? That’s business, not love of the game and the fans.
So how long is this universe that you spoke of a few questions ago? If I had to guess, Eureka, the 2 parts of Dead Mouths, the untitled wendigo story, and Intersections have things written for them. There is a stand-alone book entitled The Last Day of Hunting Season, which connects back to Blackrock as well. The next book after that is A Lot of People Die, and then there’s One More Death, which are both names of songs by Passionate Chaos, which is Benson Villaneuva’s band. That’s eight, but I could easily do a lot more. I would expect at least one more other than that, which is much more than the original trilogy, even when Dead Mouths was all one book.
In Eureka in Flames, you had characters who you envisioned as real people, I guess as guidelines for who could play what if it ever got to that point. Who were these people? Margaret was Elizabeth Saint. 
Lee was Zak Bagans. 
Steve was Chadwick Boseman. 
Yadier Molina represents Gilly well, with his tattoos and tough guy look. 
Allison also needed a tough ol’ gal, and I thought of Jamie Lee Curtis for that. 
As for Ernie, I thought he would be played well by Nick Groff..
As for the other Ghosts of Shepherdstown guy, Bill Hartley, I guess could be a good cameraman, but I had no role for him in this book. 
Kevin Spacey would have done well as Tim. He just seems to represent the perfect evil asshole – in a good way.

Is there anything else you’d like to add? Thank you for checking out my book. If you haven’t already done so, you can buy it at the link listed. Previews are available here. My Facebook page is here. Finally, my regular website is here. Please share the word. It’s how indie writers get known.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Band of Horses - Is There a Ghost video and teaser clip from the soon to be released Eureka in Flames

As I wait for my file to come back from Amazon and the inevitable wait for my book to be listed online after I convert it to Kindle, here's another teaser from the middle of the book and the video of the song that goes with it. There first 2 discs were really good (the first one - Everything All The Time - is one of my favorites). This is on the 2nd one - Cease to Begin. Check it out and support them, too.

In the dark and even with the night vision equipment, the walk to the bathroom took longer to accomplish moving from the casino to the tucked away restrooms, which were located a few hundred feet down the hall. The fear of strange objects behind huge potted plants and trashcans presented an opportunity for evil to pop up and appear at any moment. Fortunately, it didn’t rear its ugly head, but its potential presence still scared the trio to the core.
“With it being pitch black in there, I think we should all go in together and make sure that nothing and nobody is stirring,” Linda hesitantly said.
“Not even a mouse, Linda. I promise. When it’s all clear, we’ll excuse the man child, and he will watch the hallway until you’re done, and when I say ‘will,’ I mean WILL Joshua.”
“How long do you expect to be in here?” Joshua asked.
“Why? Are you scared to be in the hallway by yourself, Tough Guy?” Allison asked.
“I’ll admit it. Yes, I am,” Joshua said. “The last time I was alone with him, he threw a shelf full of glasses at me.”
“But he missed on every toss,” Allison smiled. “You’ll be OK. I’ve got no feeling right now. If he were here, I’d be goose bumps all over.”
“Not long, Joshua. Two minutes tops,” Linda added.
“Can you handle 120 seconds, Big Guy? You’ll hear a flush, water running, and footsteps. Then you’ll see us. The sooner that we get started, the sooner that we can get back into the light and the sounds of the casino so you can be protected by a pair of girls. Are you going to be OK with just you and the infra-red goggles and assault squirt rifle? Maybe you can pretend you’re Rambo.”
“Well, when you put it like that, I’ll be fine. I hope,” Joshua mumbled as he reluctantly smiled.
And with that, the group walked in the bathroom. Once again, the lights weren’t working. Not even the emergency footlights were, so they used the flashlights to illuminate everything. Nothing moved or stirred, so the older woman covered the main floor of the bathroom while her younger companion went into a stall. Outside, the tapping of Joshua’s foot bounced along with him singing Band of Horses’ “Is There a Ghost” very softly and tunelessly for a good thirty seconds before Linda spoke.
“You OK out there, Allison?”
“I think so, but his foot tapping is getting a little off beat. I may not know a lot of music, but I know and like that song.”
At that, they both listened to his musical rendition, and then both his singing and the tapping stopped.
“If you don’t know any more lyrics, Joshua, I do,” Linda said.
The request was greeted with more silence as the woman stood up in the stall. As she did, Allison walked nervously to the front door to see what was or wasn’t going on.
Suddenly, as she went to push out on the door, a huge force slammed hard against the barrier that had created privacy. Immediately, the older woman fell to the floor. Where once the door provided privacy, now it represented an impediment to not only understanding what was on the other side, but in reaching a clear pathway to safety in the open hallway on the other side.
“Joshua! Quit screwing around,” Allison screamed, but still she heard nothing in reply. “If you’re screwing with me, I will kick your ass!”
Still the women heard nothing from him. As she listened, she realized that he was immature, but this seemed out of place, even for him.
“Rotten meat. I smell rotting meat,” Linda said.
“That’s not good, Linda. What’s more, I’m getting that feeling and the goose bumps again,” Allison said, realizing what was coming for them.
Jumping out of the stall and running to the sink to grab her Atomic 2000 Squirt Blaster, Linda stood by her companion’s side. She too held her gun up and aimed at the door like she had seen Special Forces soldiers do it in the movies.
“Are you ready for what’s out there?” Linda said, more for a break in the silence than an answer. They both knew that they had to be.