My Bookshelf

Saturday, August 31, 2013

End of Week #4 on Dead Man's Pond?

Today is the end of Week #4 on Dead Man's Pond. I told my companion, Moy, that it felt as if we had been transported to an uncharted island. It seems as if we are hundreds of miles away from the Plaza, from Westport, from the Shithole. We are in the middle of nowhere, in a place where time stands still, where only the summer heat and ennui are constant.

I wake up in the morning and write, I remain at the PC all day and write, I write before I go to bed. I take breaks to cuddle my cat, Jigsaw, or to retire to my bedroom to read or to take naps. Cable TV is my entertainment nexus, the Internet is my lifeline to society. This has become the most productive time in my writing career and the most stagnant interlude in my personal lifetime. Something may be right around the corner, but yet again, there may be nothing at all ahead of me. I may be heading for the greatest victory of my life, or I may well be headed for oblivion.

This morning I received an e-mail from Damnation Books with a JPG of the cover of Wolf Man attached. I was absolutely thrilled and wrote back to the company artist expressing my appreciation. She was just as glad. I'm still waiting to hear back from Netherworld Books, who got my approval of their marvelous cover for The Fury last week (or was that last month, or last year?). When is the launch date? It was the same question I asked my contact at Alpha Wolf Publishing about Generations. It's scheduled to be published next month, which starts tomorrow. Or is that September of next year? Or a September of the next decade?

Time stands still here on Dead Man's Pond...didn't I already say that? I forget when to eat, or when I should, which is a good thing. The food supplies seem to remain constant, as do the available funds. Only the calendar rolls on. Hours, minutes, seconds are meaningless. It seems as if a decade ago when three minutes before my next break, my lunch hour, or logoff time at the Shithole were like three milleniums. I look at the clock and remember that I used to have to go to sleep at 10 PM. Now I never have to go to sleep again...or one day I might just as well go to sleep and never wake up again. Would it really matter? I doubt it. I am a million miles away from everyone and everything.  

I haven't heard from Tenth Street Press. They made The Standard available online last month. Only it's an e-book, it doesn't exist in the real world. Did we make any money? I suppose not. If we did, and they decided not to pay, it would make no difference. Publish America said I did not make one dime after publishing five of my books. If I did not collect from them, I won't collect from Tenth Street. They are located in Australia, which is on the otehr side of the galaxy. Publish America is in Maryland, just on the other side of the solar system.

So, as you see, I'm writing the best work of my life, though I'm drifting further and further from reality. My reality has become my fantasies, but I can't even determine which of these are the most relevant. The Standard is to The Fury as Generations is to Wolf Man, which is as apples are to oranges. If someone asks what kind of novels I write, what could I say?

Who could ask? Who would ask? After all, I am a million miles away.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Santa Caligon Days Festival - Trail of Tears?

It was quite ironic that I entered this new phase of poverty just before the Labor Day weekend, with events taking place all over Kansas City. One of the biggest ones is the Santa Caligon Days Festival here in Independence. I've been to it twice over the past six years, mostly because I had the money to have left town on each holiday occasion. The last time I went to Des Moines, or at least I think that's where I was. It's hard to remember because nothing special happened besides the usual pub crawl.

The Festival is the one big score local merchants get to make outside of the Christmas holidays. They get charged exorbitant fees to set up their tents for three days and nights, putting up their stands on Friday morning and having to take them down Sunday afternoon. They don't even get Labor Day. As a result, they fleece the locals to get their money back. Having to walk ten blocks to get to the bank because the police have the festival area cordoned off, I saw prices of $2.50 for water and $8 for red beans and rice. As I watched couples and all their children braving the 100-degree weather today, it was hard not to have a sense of outrage. Imagine some poor soul having to fork over twenty dollars for eight half-liters of water for his parched family. That is without buying them a bite to eat or letting them go on one minute-long ride.

It's truly a vicious cycle, and those with kids can readily understand how hard it is to tell theirs how they can't afford to go when everyone else on the block is going. Sure, you can load them up with food before leaving the house, but what do you do when they start feeling the effects of the brutal temperature? You can load Mama up with enough bottled water to supply a Marine squad in Iraq, but the jarheads will tell you that it won't last forever. Maybe tourists from Iowa or Nebraska will think it worth their vacation money, but the blue-collar families on my block will have hell to pay.

Imagine if Lewis and Clark were able to travel through time and see how these price gougers are profiting on this celebration. If they saw how the point where the road through Independence Springs led all the way to Santa Fe, California and Oregon was being exploited by scalpers, they might well have left a warning sign: "Let the buyer beware!"    

On Dead Man's Pond?

I have finally taken the plunge.

After ending up on the losing end of a battle with the owners of the Shithole, I have embarked on a trip to Dead Man's Pond to begin the final leg of my life's journey. Like Thoreau, I bring with me only my writing and my basic necessities, waiting only for the Check to arrive. Whether it is the Benefit, the 401K cashout, or the phantasmal Royalty Check, it makes no difference. As long as it subsidizes this vision quest, it is my only concern.

It was almost as if God prepped me up for this final run. I spent the past several weeks driving around Kansas City, desperate to find kindred spirits among the cafes, bars and restaurants to no avail. I thought it ironic that I was carrying over a thousand dollars of disposable cash with me, and could not find a place worthy of spending more that ten dollars at a time. Now I am counting coins, watching the mailbox...and if I had another thousand dollars, there would be no place worth spending it.

The Internet is my window to the world, my only portal to cyberspace in communicating with those of like mind. I exchange posts on writer's websites, giving my opinions to others to do with as they like. I do exchange reviews with other authors, writing excellent reviews on works I would have never read, for the privilege of knowing that another person has read one of my books.

Writing is a lonely existence, much like long-distance running. The exhilaration of accomplishment is there, tinged by the regret that possibly no one will ever know of that private victory. It reminds me of my 500-pound squats in my basement, as sequoia trees I chopped down that no one ever heard fall in the forest. Yet, I continue to await the Publisher, the Royalty Check that will prove my worth and rescue me from Dead Man's Pond. Perhaps I await Godot, but...we shall see.