Friday, January 20, 2012


            I wanted to post a short update. Most of you know that the print version of What Rough Beast was published December 7th. The Kindle version was made available two weeks after that. Several reviews have been posted on Amazon, and I’ve heard in person from a number of you, and the reviews have been overwhelmingly positive. Overwhelmingly.
            I have to tell you, honestly, that I am humbled and gratified beyond words.
            I’m working with various County Arts Councils to arrange book signings in nearby counties. I have nothing firm at this time – perhaps in February or March. I’ll keep you posted. If you know ‘somebody’, let me know.
            Nearly everyone has asked when the sequel, Taylor’s Kin, will be available. (It was a good idea to put that teaser chapter of Taylor’s Kin at the end of What Rough Beast.) It warms my heart to know that you came to care about Jonathan Taylor and that you want to know the next chapter in his life.
            We’re aiming for the release of Taylor’s Kin by the end of February. I think we’re in the final edit. We’ll proof the copy and polish it. There’s work to be done on the cover, then we’ll jump through the publishing hoops, and it’ll be ready. (Sounds easy, doesn’t it?) The original plan was to release Taylor’s Kin in Kindle version only, but so many have said they want a physical book that the original plan will have to be revisited.
            What’s Taylor’s Kin about? After reading What Rough Beast, you know what Jonathan Taylor has gone through. The Beast has withdrawn, and Jonathan now has to face a new set of challenges in a new world. All that he knew has disappeared. What would it be like to find yourself in a world where only one tenth of one percent of the population survived? How would you continue? What kinds of challenges would you face? Would you try to reshape that new world to mirror the former one?
            Taylor’s Kin isn’t as dark as What Rough Beast. It’s not a laugh riot by any means and there are a few heavy spots, but it isn’t as frightening. Taylor reflects some on the Beast and on being human, but there’s a greater emphasis – survival.
            Be advised: there are scenes in Taylor’s Kin which will touch your heart, maybe even bring a tear. You’ve been warned.
            What else is going on? I’ve dusted off a couple of stories I wrote several years ago. They’re nothing like What Rough Beast, but they try to look at the human condition. Also, I’m working on a new story set in the South of the late 50s and 60s. Yes, I remember those days when we thought the party was just getting started. And, I recently let Jonathan Taylor start running free in my mind again. Guess what. He has another story to tell after Taylor’s Kin.
            Stay tuned.
           And thanks again for your kind words. They’ve meant a lot to me.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Place Holders

            I had such a good time at my brother-in-law’s recent surprise birthday party. He turned the big six-oh and my sister invited family and friends, and a large group attended. The coolest part for me was seeing people I hadn’t seen in years. I saw people I had grown up with and had seen at least weekly at church for twenty-five years. I knew their parents and, in some cases, their grandparents. Then I moved away and I hadn’t seen some of them for thirty years or so. I don’t know if you’re like me, but I tend to be intimidated by gatherings like this because sometimes it’s hard for me to pull up a name that hasn’t crossed my lips in ten, fifteen, twenty or more years.
            And they had changed. They were older. Well, we were all older.
            I knew them when we were children bounding around the churchyard playing tag or hide-and-seek. I knew them in their pressed Sunday suits and their pretty dresses. I knew them when our eyes were bright and innocent. I went to school with them and knew them into early adulthood. I knew them when they married and when their children were born. I knew the events in their lives which had brought joy. I knew the events which had brought sorrow.
            We were family.
            Then I moved and our paths seldom crossed. I felt a pang of remorse that I had moved and lost touch, but one can only follow his destiny.
            We’re grandparents now. I’ve mentioned before that I’m an observer and as I watched the other night, I started thinking. It occurred to me we are all place-holders. We were the grandchildren of our grandparents, the children of our parents. Then we took the places they had held. We became the parents of our children and then the grandparents of our grandchildren.
            I began to wonder what it was all about. Through the ages the march of humanity has been an endless procession of place-holders: we’re born, we live, we die and another generation steps up to take our places. We take the place held by our parents then our children take that place from us. The term, place-holder, may sound insignificant. It isn’t. I think I can argue that being a place-holder is a significant part of why we’re here.
            What have I done as a place-holder? Have I taught my children to respect themselves and others? Have I taught them how to make their way in life? Have I taught them the difference between right and wrong, the difference between faith and religion, between wanting and needing, between inner wealth and a gilded exterior?
            It will be obvious to you that place-holding has application beyond our families to life in general. Have I done anything in my time here to benefit the human race? Is that too ambitious? Have I done anything in my time here to benefit even one other human being? Or has my life been only about me?

            These are questions worth reflection. And it’s not a bad thing to reflect upon life.