This is just what we kept saying the last time we saw “Ready or Not.”
This is just what we kept saying the last time we saw “Ready or Not.”
I would like to say a sincere “Thank You” from the bottom of my heart, and the heart of my bottom, for all the Birthday Wishes yesterday and the prayers, healing vibrations, and hamster sacrifices offered up for my fight with cancer. Having grown up as a bit of a professional New Kid in School and Authentic Whacko, I have always felt outside of every group I’ve encountered. Thank you for proving me wrong.
Today is my birthday. I used to get glum around my birthday, hating the reminder that I was getting older. I’d even tried to pretend it wasn’t happening.
Then this summer, I was diagnosed with colorectal cancer. Noting to fear,I am well on the way to beating it with a final round of chemo the end of this month.
Now, I’m really happy that I’m allowed to get older. I throw up my hands and shout “High Score!” I suggest you all try the same.
Stay tuned for the tale of Tommy the Tumor, along with speculations on what kind of superpowers you might get when bitten by a radioactive asshole.
It has been a while since the Arcanum Faire books have been available. February of this year, they went out of print. A few months after that Post Mortem Press, which had published them, went on indefinite hiatus due to the health of the publisher.
I got a local comic artist named Seth Lyons to do new covers and graphic elements. I had the advantage of the five years experience while Camp Arcanum was available to fine-tune things. The original covers were too creepy. Good but creepy. Readers who’d appreciate the humor and lunacy of the stories were frightened off. Those who like chainsaws, pentacles, and spooky old barns felt cheated.
So, the new iteration of Arcanum Faire is exactly what it says on the tin.
Here are the new covers for the first two books. Number three is in the pipeline. If you are intrigued, there are links to the Amazon pages to purchase. If not, we still have Paris.
Some say the world will end in fire, some say it will be ice. Nobody ever mentioned squirrels.
Forgive my absence for most of this month. When not getting myself irradiated, dealing with chemo, or simply napping, I have been putting all my writing energy into my WIP. Fortunately, my publisher Hydra Publications and I set something in motion before I got sick and it comes out today!
“Squirrel Apocalypse” started out just as goofy screenplay exercise: Lost Boys/Nightwings with Squirrels. Circumstances beyond my control forced me to transition it to a novel, though it is still just as ridiculous as when I started. Here’s a little about it:
Chris Day had a perfect life… when he was twelve years old. Twenty years later, he is divorced, unemployed, and desperate to get through to his twelve year daughter, Liv. He hopes his grandmother’s dairy farm in Crickson, California will be a good place to start a new life. Chris spent his boyhood summers in mischief and squirrel-launching there with his two best friends, Olivia and Rafael.Today, the dairy farmers grow marijuana to make ends meet, and the local radio station broadcasts the movements of the DEA to help them stay one step ahead. His grandmother’s obsession with squirrels has turned to a crusade of extermination. Olivia and Rafael are still in town, but nothing like the kids he dreamed of coming back to. Liv is sneaking out of the house late at night and Grandma has a collection of squirrel torture porn and homemade explosives. Pets and livestock are disappearing at an increasing rate. You really can’t go home again, especially when it’s being eaten by GMO killer squirrels.
We won’t be able to do a release party until after my surgery, I’m sure, but everyone can chow down on fresh-baked cookies, milk, and squirrel jerky in their own homes to celebrate. If you do, I want pictures.
I would like to thank all the fine people that have reached out to Kit and myself in the last few days through social media and in real life. As the “quiet” half of the single socioeconomic unit KitandJosef, I’ve long thought myself the invisible support structure behind the real star. I now see how many of you do see me and are concerned for my well-being. Many of you are concerned for Kit, who is really much more frightened than I am. I’ll take that.
As I try to keep my ass from kicking me, I will try to be a better friend, co-worker, and relative. All I can say is thank you very much. I’ll keep in touch.
Next time, I’ll make it funny…
(This may be a long way, but there is an important announcement at the end. Scroll to the bottom if you impatient. The crux of this post is the bottom.)
I was feeling pretty good last week. My years long problem with indoor allergies and asthma at the work place seemed to be getting under control. My fatigue and drowsiness from whatever toxins were in the ventilation system seemed to be getting better and the Company Nurse was even making arrangements for the company to pay for my air cleaner and filters.
I had gone back to counseling to deal my depression issues. He told me it was more like disthymia and PTSD, but we got a handle on it with additional meds and cognitive therapy. That, and I just started doing things that made me happy. I spent time with my wife not staring at adjacent screens on the couch. I took control of my books and even republished my first novel. I put it on Amazon with a great new cover; a handful sold the first week to total strangers on both sides of the Atlantic.
I was astoundingly close to happy, a position I had not allowed myself to be in for years.
Then, came the colonoscopy.
I had one five years before, and, just like then, the prep was the worst part of it. The day before you must stick to a clear fluid diet. The night before, you drink a gallon of some noxious fluid to clear the colon/small intestine of all fecal matter. This will let the candid colon camera inspect the walls and ceiling down there. The prep fluid is refrigerated, because at room temperature the motor oil on dead dog taste is too much to bear. For several hours I drank almost the whole gallon and spent much of the night squirting prep fluid out my ass. Kit and I made it to the doctor’s office by seven a.m..
I had planned to tell my co-workers what had happened to me when I returned to work. It would have gone something like this:
“I stayed up all night drinking, and then I got waylaid by a bunch of people in masks. They drugged me and started sticking things up my butt. What’s worse, they took pictures!”
I would have told my co-workers that the next day, but the technicians found something: A white mass, about 2 centimeters long, low in the colon. I would have been even more concerned if it had been a black mass. I never allow satanists near my colon.
The discovery led to a quick succession of tests. There was much poking and prodding and needling. I received a CAT scan with contrast and the next day developed hives as a reaction to the dye. In the end, my end, the results indicated the best bad news I could have. I have colon-rectal cancer, though the test results indicate a slow-growing tumor that may have stayed entirely in its place. After a few more tests, the doctors and we will decide the best course of action. Surgery, chemo, and radiation may all come into play. It will be a stressful few months. Some of them I may spend flat on my back. But this is far better than the prognosis if I had avoided the test as I wanted to.
There’s much more to this story, and I’ll try my best to make it a comedy.
There are few things more neuroses-affirming for a writer than having no books to sell. Except, of course, for everything else about a writer’s life. I have finally remedied that problem.
I have books to sell.
The rights to my Arcanum Faire trilogy reverted from Post Mortem Press in Feburary. After a thorough reformatting and error scouring (Toolcat 5600s do not actually have six wheels), my first book “Camp Arcanum” is back online. It has a colorful and energetic cover produced by the comic artist Seth Lyons. I can’t do much about the words underneath it.
The navigation through the KDP publishing system was a bit more involved than I expected. No-one died, though. Both the e-book and the trade paperback versions are live. Somehow, in less than twenty-four hours, I already sold an e-book. It couldn’t have been my mother. She is in that great stained glass workshop in the sky.
Whoever it is that had such good taste, or fearless reading habits, I thank you. I invite the rest of my friends and family to pop over and check it out. See the pretty cover, check inside so you can send me a list of typos and errors.
And, if you’ve already read or reviewed the first edition, feel free to do the same for number two. Even reprints need a little love.
It is not often that I have had the chance to put out a man on fire in my previous occupations. When I worked for a neighbor in Tennessee, acting as the ditch-digger assistant to his backhoe service, there were no chances at all for life-saving. I did get to play with jackhammers and dynamite. He taught me the frightful synergy of tamping a blast hole with diesel fuel and ammonium nitrate long before Oklahoma City.
Subsequent jobs had few chances for heroics, though I did learn concrete-forming, burger-flipping, photo-processing, and waste water lab testing. The one time a rack of super-heated test tubes full of grey water and sulfuric acid exploded all over my lab manager, he pretty much saved himself by diving into the safety shower. He sustained no serious injuries, but we all learned a valuable lesson about saying the phrase “things can’t get any worse” out loud.
Now, when I worked as a balloon delivery driver, that was my biggest opportunity to be a hero. Along with wrangling a dozen helium balloons at a time in high winds, I got to make deliveries to birthday parties, massage parlors, and gross anatomy classes. One time, I even got a chance to put out a flaming handyman.
The balloon service was preparing to move from its quaint but cramped quarters in German Village to Main St. in Bexley, the Beverly Hills of Columbus. (Say that to yourself a couple of times: the Beverly Hills of Columbus. Savor the cognitive dissonance.) A few of us twenty-somethings were painting and prepping the walls while the owner’s handyman was stripping the old wooden desks.
Now, this handyman was a curmudgeon and a proud graduate of the School of Hard Knocks. It sounded like he had been the keynote speaker and valedictorian of the class of ’32 as he shared the highlights of his speech. The theme was Common Sense and how “you college boys” don’t know anything about the real world and surviving in it. It wasn’t an overly complicated topic, but he expanded upon it with anecdotes and examples to make it clearer for those of us that were reality-impaired.
We really didn’t engage with him, but he just kept talking as he slapped the noxious chemicals on the varnished wood, scraped it off, and discarded the flammable gel on the canvas drop cloth. A fairly even coat got spattered on the legs of his jumpsuit, too.
Eventually, he took a break.
A smoking break.
He pulled out a pack of cigarettes and a book of matches. Right there, in the middle of the furniture stripping project, he did this. With a cigarette in his mouth, he lit one of the matches. I reconstruct the next few steps from the explanations he had to give to several people afterwards.
He struck the match.
He realized that he was in the midst of a large amount of open and flammable chemicals. Being a worldly man, he knew that this was a dangerous situation and he should really take this outside.
Because he wasn’t some snot-nosed college kid, he was smart enough to not set himself on fire. He stood there silently congratulating himself on his exceptional Common Sense. I don’t know how he did this, but it was a fraction of a second too long.
The match singed his fingers and he dropped it. It set the gel on the drop cloth around him to a small but steady flame. The legs of his grey-pinstripe coveralls caught fire in less than a second.
A good deal of shouting, flailing, and stomping ensued. I don’t know if it was just good planning or I had seriously expected this to happen, but I knew exactly where the fire extinguisher was. I hurried the ten to twenty feet to the big red cylinder on the floor. I popped the cotter key off that sucker and dowsed everything that was burning with a thick cloud of fire suppressants.
The handyman looked crestfallen, but no longer aflame. The atmosphere, previously tainted with blather and contempt, was now filling up with smoke, toxic fumes, and the bitter taste of the extinguisher. Formic acid settled onto the back of my tongue and stuck. My coworkers rushed to throw open both the front and back doors. It was a short contest between the evening breeze blowing through and the steady cloud rising from the smoldering goo on the floor. Eventually, clean air tipped the balance.
That’s about the time the fire alarms went off.
This was a new building to us. No-one had mentioned a built-in alarm system or how to turn it off. We rushed to the circuit box and started throwing switches until the noise finally stopped. We chuckled among ourselves, relieved that we were all alive and hadn’t burned down the building. I said something along the lines of: “Wouldn’t it be embarrassing if the lines were still connected to the fire department?”
That’s when we heard the approaching sirens.
Four or five firefighters in full gear came in the front door. The owner returned from his errands through the back door. It was a very uncomfortable fifteen minutes for the handyman.
When asked, I gave a fairly neutral version of the facts, even though the “stupid college kid” in me wanted to rub his nose in smoldering furniture stripping gel. I had done plenty of stupid things before. I have done a few stupid things since. I’ve been lucky that after the flames were out, nobody ever threw me under the bus.