An Excerpt From OCTOBER ANIMALS

I’m trying something new with this post. I promised audio, and… here we go. Nothing too wild, today, just a short excerpt from my long-gestating novella, OCTOBER ANIMALS. The following is from the beginning of the second chapter. Hope you enjoy!

Reading father’s book had been forbidden. Maybe when you’re older, he had told her. Maybe never, said her mother, and she meant what she said.

Lizzie Bat waited all the same, waited for the day she would be old enough, bold enough, waited for her mother to forget about the book, waited to revel in the reveal of father’s secrets, waited in that way like many others who have waited, waited for a meaning or a purpose to appear, waited for revelation, clarity and clear, waited for her chance, but in the end she simply waited.

And then, Daniel Batson disappeared. 

Father had been gone a year when the storage shed, which contained all the copies of the book he had written, father’s forbidden book, caught fire during the night. Two-thousand books reduced to ash, Lizzie Bat cried at the sight, her father’s second death. Never would she be old enough to see secrets in this smoke and the rest of life yawned out before her, an unfathomable reechy darkness where secrets stretched their skeletal remains across a graveyard with no end. Lizzie Bat, in that moment, wished to never wait, never wait again.

She ran a hand through his carbonized dreams and searched in vain for a single page or a surviving word. Mother shed not a tear. Maybe never, said her mother, and she meant what she said.

“Forget about the book,” said mother. “Only witches can read dust, and you’re no witch.”

“You would know,” said Lizzie Bat.

Mother struck her for that. An open palm across the face. The woman may as well have cast a spell; form and features changed from that of mother to a nameless stranger. Lizzie Bat did not know this doppelgänger before her, as if shadow and skin had swapped places.

“He never should’ve written that damned book,” this Shadow Mother had said on more than one occasion.

OK, folks, that’s good enough for now! I’ll be plugging away at OCTOBER ANIMALS when I can, but lots and lots going on lately and not much of it conducive to writing a book. C’est la vie!

Thanks for reading (or listening).

Read and Re-read Get On A Boat

Life looks like it’s about to get topsy-turvy for a bit. I won’t be able to get to my computer for awhile, so I’m back to the old fashioned “pen & paper” technique. Happy to report I’m just as slow writing on a notepad as I am on a keyboard. Sometimes, though, words are a little different on a page than in a file. I don’t erase as much as strike through, or simply let the words pile upon themselves like my thoughts have just been in a terrible accident.

What definitely remains the same is my tendency to read aloud, and very often re-read. I find reading aloud akin to sharpening a tool. I listen to the sentences, and many times the cadence will come to define the way I write. I am this way with just about all the stories I work on, but especially OCTOBER ANIMALS, which concerns itself with language, with influence, and a type of vocalized spell. It is a musical book, I think, and it is very much designed to be that way.

Last week, I started writing a sestina in a rural hotel and today I may finish that work in a guest bedroom, elsewhere. This particular piece serves as a bridge between the previous reality and the reality to come, and it is composed of the many recurring phrases and details contained in earlier chapters.

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OCTOBER ANIMALS borrows quite a bit from poetry, though the sestina is (I believe) the only time I employ formal poetry in the manuscript.

Funny to think OCTOBER ANIMALS may find itself finished some 2,000-odd miles from where it started. These stories have their own lives, much like we do, and they go through emotional and physical turmoil and they, too, have memories buried inside of them, and everything seems so immediate in the moment.

I don’t know if I will record the entire book as audio, but I am thinking of select pieces from the manuscript.

But, first, I must finish the work and read and re-read to myself. Then, I can read it to you.

I also have to find a place to live.

No Clear Way Home

20210710_152136I am not home. But, I will soon be tasked with making it back there. Only, everything is on fire. Either highway I’d normally take is closed, because of fire. Still, I need to get home. Looks like I’ll have to figure something out, take roads less traveled, you know, metaphor shit.

And, damn, doesn’t that just seem like a proper metaphor? It’s the type of obvious shit you’d be afraid to throw down in a manuscript because it is so on the nose. But, here I am, with a journey to take, complete with obstacles and side stories and things I want and flaws and I ought to change in some way, surely, but… the getting there is now a struggle, and it’ll be linked to everything I do and every decision I make until the task is complete.

Similarly, I want to finish this book, OCTOBER ANIMALS, but life keeps throwing obstacles in my direction. I write when I can, in little bits, little chunks of scenes, notes, poetry. And now, when I thought I’d have the most time, it turns out I may actually have the least. Funny how that works out.

I’m not particularly angry or upset. Mostly, I’m amused. This is how life always seems to be, at least on my end.

Here we go. Onwards and upwards. Until I’m faced with the next thing.

WIPs, Video Games, Podcasts That Contain My Voice, and One of the Nicest Reviews My Work Has Received…

What an incredibly busy week and change!

Like, no joke, October is looking to be the single most busy month of the whole year, and the whole year has already been really busy:

1. I’ve signed contracts for two short stories;

2. two other short stories have now gone live in their respective anthologies (“Capistrano Boulevard” is in Star-Fox and “Elephants” is in More Bizarro Than Bizarro);

3. I’ve dutifully submitted two other short stories;

4. I am gearing up to submit two more short stories, with a third following shortly after;

5. made a really nice breakthrough on my new novella and it has re-lit a fire under my ass to get it done. And the idea was such a “no duh” type of inspiration that it’s almost embarrassing in hindsight, as I should’ve figured it all out looooooong ago.

C’est la vie, right?

BUT . . . the craziest bit of news (number 6, if you’re counting) comes from the world of side projects, namely video game development. Last year, Rooster Republic (the indie press I co-own with Don Noble) started exploring the creation of media besides books. Initially, we were entertaining the idea of board games and card-based RPGs, though that early effort quickly evolved into video games.

Continue reading “WIPs, Video Games, Podcasts That Contain My Voice, and One of the Nicest Reviews My Work Has Received…”