Peat Moss could not rid himself of the
ghosts. They raged at him from all sides, dragging over him like transparent
branches as he ran through the forest. Their screams and hollers of madness
grew louder as he leveled tree and brush up the hillside. Ahead of him,
sneaking in and out, from behind this tree then that, Peat Moss caught glimpses
of the stoic spirit of Buford Longpost. The dead man’s apparition would glance
sidelong at him with an unchanging expression of indifference. As if Peat Moss
were beyond his care, unimportant. The monster followed him, altering direction
to wherever Buford had last appeared.
Bethel was unaware of the monster’s approach. Of his chase to catch Before
Longpost and his own sanity. The young monk was in the yard of the chapel
preparing to bring the day’s water from the creek. Rampaging Passions being the
furthest thing from his mind, he thought it was but another beautiful day in
the valley forest.
were hiccups, of course, in the beauty of the day. Every day had unexpected
bumps. Grit had wandered off again in another frenzied, enigmatic search, and Honeysuckle
had ventured to the river. This surprised Jess the most. The peaceful Passion it
seemed had at last conquered his fear of the waters.
strange changes in his families’ behavior were not lost on the monk. He could
sense something; a change in the winds of the world. But how that change might
affect him, he did not know. How could one give a face to gravity if they never
knew it existed? Jess had been sheltered for so long a time that the outside
world or any danger it wrought was simply not a bother. In fact, he had always
felt secure in the forest by the chapel. He had known nothing but goodness,
first from Brother Patricio, then from Honeysuckle. The only great change that
had come along had been that of Honeysuckle, and that was a welcomed wind. One
as sweet as the scent of jasmine.
now, this new sense of change—there was something menacing about it.
Even more menacing than a sky full of heavy clouds threatening floods. He
thought to himself that Grit was perhaps right to be concerned. Still, what can
one do against the unknown? Against what’s yet to happen? So, Jess continued
about his day in normalcy and routine.
him, as he reached for the water bucket from where it hung by the chapel door,
Jess heard a ruckus such as he had never known. He turned quickly and saw to
his amazement birds, squirrels, raccoons, and all manner of forest creature
fleeing out of the bush as if being chased by a violent predator or great
forest fire. The creatures flew, hopped, and scampered past him, disappearing
again into the opposite flora.
with a crack like thunder, a great tree was struck apart and fell to pieces,
the wood splintering in a myriad of directions. The seething mass of quivering
muscle which stood in its place could be none other than the Passion Peat Moss.
The very one Honeysuckle had mentioned on quiet, desperate occasions when he
took to mourning. The forest seemed to shrink around him as he heaved and
twitched and growled.
first, neither of the two reacted. Jess simply stared with mesmerized fear and
awe. Then, the monster’s eyes seemed to transform from blind rage to a kind of
glazed familiarity. Jess could not know that at that moment Peat Moss no longer
saw him as a peaceful monk, but now perceived him as his lost Buford. He could
not know that Peat Moss thought to take him back to the cave and make love to
him forever. All Jess saw was a crazed grin creep across the Passion’s troubled
monk began to retreat slowly backward to the chapel. But Peat Moss was on him
at once. With one mighty swing the wall of the chapel tumbled to the ground and
Peat Moss threw the struggling monk over his shoulder. Jess kicked and hit, strenuously
defending himself. Peat Moss was tired of the struggle now, though. The spirits
still pecked at him with their cries and goads. To have this man, the one he
saw as Buford Longpost, being contentious as well would not do.
threw the monk to the ground and hit him, knocking him out. The blow was not a
hard one by the monster’s standards, but it was sufficient. Jess fell limp and
the Passion picked the man up again and disappeared into the woods.
1. My book Woke Up in a Strange Place is nominated for Favorite All-Time M/M Romance at the Goodreads M/M Romance Group awards. How awesome is that? It's up against some amazing competition, including books by Tj Klune, E.M. Forster, and Mary Renault. SuburbaNights is also up for Best Humorous Book. Also too as well, Woke Up was chosen as best book of the year over at Joyfully Jay. I'm feeling so Sally Field-like these days, surprised by all the love and always with a brown mop of hair atop my head.
2. Every time I hear the phrase "big ass giveaway" I get very excited...but it always ends in disappointment when I realize the speaker isn't being literal. Bastards.
3. Sometime in the past year my men and music blog Daventry Blue passed a million views. That's kinda cool, huh? My blog has been passed around more than one of them asses in that "big ass giveaway."
4. Tj Klune is coming to visit me here in Indiana. Shhhhenanigans!! Be sure to watch for our video where we'll be answering all sorts of sundry questions asked by you fine, sundry folk. That piece of performance art should be up here, there, and everywhere this Friday. Just a warning, though. If you heard my interview with Stonewall Live a few weeks ago, you know I can get a bit talkward. I'm a stumbler, a mumbler, and a boozer...er, I mean, a bumbler.
5. Thinking about a new erotic illustrated story along the lines of "Kid Christmas," this one called "The Skankiest Gun in the West." Tee-hee. Teej thinks it's a great idea and that's all that matters. I wonder if Absolutbleu would be up for it.
6. Galley Proof got an Honorable Mention at the Rainbow Awards! I'm honored. I know the book isn't everyone's cop o' tea, but it owns a special place in my heart AND HAS JUST BEEN OPTIONED FOR FILM BY ANG LEE!!! ...that's a total falsehood. 'Twould be real damn cool, though, eh?
7. "Ghouls Gym," the zombie satire Teej and I are writing for Empire Press' upcoming zombie antho Zombie Boyz, is coming along fantastically. I think we've invented a new genre: zombie pathos. It's a story that's equal parts thrilling, gross, sexy, funny, and scary, with a big dose of heart. Tj and I are having a blast working together.
8. I have an appointment with a rehab therapist the day after Teej leaves. I'm hopeful this fella will have some ideas on what to do with my foot. I've let them know I'm open to being put on any test medicine or procedure this side of being cloven-hooved. Though, being a sexy cloven-hooved sex demon would be interesting, wouldn't it, Teej? Yeah, it would. Yeeeeeeah, bitch.
A lost bumble-bird was perched on the
branch of a dogwood tree near the abandoned settlement that once thrived with
the valley folk. The tiny creature had been out all day collecting pollen and
twigs, but had wandered too far from its hive. Now the squat little fellow
thought it best that he settle somewhere and get his bearings.
looked around at the dilapidated houses with their falling roofs and overgrown
lawns. For a bumble-bird this was a prime twig-collecting area. His surroundings
were silent. Only the river made any noise, its flow clearing obstacles from
the little creature’s mind. Maybe he would be able to remember his way home.
quiet and still was not long lasting, however. From upstream came a gentle
sloshing through the shallow edges of the river. It was a Passion, the first
the bumble-bird had ever seen in his short life. For the valley had been
abandoned of any such spirits for quite some time. Long before this little
bumble-bird had been hatched in the hive.
looked curiously at the beautiful sprite that was Honeysuckle Sycamore. And, of
course, the Passion noticed the bird at once and gleefully spoke to it.
bird,” Honeysuckle said. “I haven’t been here in such a long time. Are you new
here? Or is this your tree now? Is that your branch? Though, I don’t suppose it
matters. All the people are gone. You have your pick of branches and trees. But
I have a feeling, bird. I have a feeling they’re all going to come back, and
very soon. What do you say to that, bird? Wouldn’t it be nice to sleep in
pumpkin patches again?”
bumble-bird cocked its tiny head. Soon the sprite walked on, looking through
the homes and gardens with hungry wonder. The bird watched for a bit, then,
after remembering a certain tree and its proximity to the hive, he flew in the
direction of the hillside.
flew into the forest, gliding on a sweet breeze, until he again could not
recognize his surroundings. So, again, he alighted upon a limb. Below him,
struggling through the dense wood over large roots and hills was the strangest
creature the little fella had ever seen. Stranger still then the sprite
Honeysuckle Sycamore. This sprite was tortured and sad. She twitched and
spasmed as she made a slow progression through the forest. Still, she was
clearly on a mission. There was a direction to her chaotic journeying. It was
as if she held a scent and was following it with an unalterable intent, tearing
down limbs and plowing through mounds of leaves that stood in her way. What
purpose, the little bird could not tell. But it headed off in the same
direction. Perhaps where she was headed was where he needed to be as well.
bumble-bird flew past the sprite Grit until she could no longer be seen. Soon
he came upon the most fearsome of all the things he had yet seen that wondrous
day. A large, angry Passion was batting at the air wildly, and grumbling and
moaning in crazed gestures. The bird had to fly higher to avoid being smashed
to a pulp by the massive strength of the monster. He did not stay long in that
area of the wood. He flew on away, but now in the direction of the angry
last, the little bumble-bird recognized some of its own hive mates sitting upon
the rotting roof of a little chapel and he flitted off to join them. He buzzed
and tweeted happy hellos at the relations, and spoke in birdspeak what he had
seen on his journey. The other bumble-birds were amazed. They had all heard of
Passions from the bumble-bird elders, but, the hive being so much farther up on
the hillside, they had never actually seen one. And they weren’t so certain
they wanted to see this angry-looking Passion seen headed toward the chapel.
on the ground, a young monk watched them with apparent appreciation. The
bumble-birds told their lost hive mate how wonderful the human was, and how he
adored them. He gave them crumbs of bread and sweet water. They all agreed that
they should remember the way back to the chapel. Fearing the crazed monster, however,
they flew away, the little lost bumble-bird as well, for their hive.
10. Some Nights, fun. Indie pop confection, but good indie pop confection with infectious hooks and some fun, interesting lyrics. I first heard these guys on an alternative Sirius station and so was unaware of their meteoric rise to pop stardom. One of the great things about not listening to commercial radio is I don't need to worry about a song being overplayed. Fav song, "We Are Young."
9. MDNA, Madonna. I can already hear eyes rolling. But I love this CD. I think it's a lot of fun and so SO much better than her previous collection, Hard Candy. Fav song, "Love Spent."
8. Carry the Fire, Delta Rae. Fellow author SJD Peterson intro'd this group to me. They remind me of a slightly over-produced Nickel Creek. The best song (and fantastic video) on the CD sounds like an old spiritual and is quite different from the rest of the album. This was disappointing at first, but then the other songs started growing on me as well. Fav track, "Bottom of the River."
7. Ashes & Roses, Mary Chapin Carpenter. This is the first MCC album I ever had to let grow on me. Usually I love her work right off the bat. But this is slower, even more introspective work than usual. Fav song, "Don't Need Much to Be Happy."
6. Charmer, Aimee Mann. One of the great modern songwriters. Actually, Mann and MCC are my two favorite singer songwriters of all time (though, Josh Ritter and Conor Oberst aren't too far behind). Mann once again constructs a collection of songs that are at once catchy, heartfelt, and sarcastic. Fav song, "Labrador."
5.In the Time of Gods, Dar Williams. The always reliable Williams has been putting great work out since the early 1990s. This is one of her stronger efforts in recent years, commenting on some of our society's most troubling aspects with an innocent voice. Fav song, "I Am the One Who Will Remember Everything."
4. Borderland, The Chevin. They're like a more operatic version of The Killers, especially on the opening track. The lead singer's vocals are soaring. I first heard this group as I flipped through the channels one night and landed on Letterman. Fav song, "Champion."
3. Battle Born, The Killers. Glamorous rock n roll. This is the perfect album to go riding around with the windows rolled down...if it weren't freezing out. Brandon Flowers has a voice that gives me chills when he hits certain notes. The songs are anthemic and grand. Fav song, "Here with Me."
2. The Lumineers, The Lumineers. My best friend Jason intro'd me to this group, the big surprise of the year for me. Great folk n roll with a unique twist and some killer lyrics. This is the folk rock album of the year, not Mumford & Sons disappointing sophomore effort. Fav song, "Stubborn Love."
1. An Awesome Wave, alt-j. FUCKING AMAZING. Funky beats, bizarre twists, and crazy ass lyrics that go perfectly with the quick-as-lightning vocals. The videos are so watchable as well. And how can you not love a group which mentions everything from singer Johnny Flynn to quotes from Where the Wild Things Are in their songs? Fav song: "Breezeblocks."
Jess Bethel naturally cared for the
woods and river as well as all the critters of the forest with unswerving
felicity. He loved the sprites of the Valley too, especially Honeysuckle
Sycamore. He even adored Grit, for he could see past the bitter hurt and
distorted pain that made her continuously weep and gnash her teeth. He saw in
her a soul bound by ropes of grief. To Jess, all manner of creation was part of
the great miracle.
gentle nature, though an inherent thing among most creatures, was imprinted on
him more so by the kindness that was shown him during his earlier years, a
kindness that began when he was a newborn child. His origins were unknown to
the individual who eventually found him floating like a bible story hero
upriver in a shoddy wicker basket. Brother Patricio Bethel was a very old man.
He had outlived anyone that anybody in the valley had ever known. He was
thinner than a cattail cane and his long robes hung from him like linens out on
the line set to dry. The children of the valley found him particularly strange
and could not help but stare on the odd occasion that they saw him. Brother
Patricio walked on all fours. This was due to a bone disease he had developed
in early life which had never been corrected. The truth is, however, he had
never thought about it too much. It never seemed much of a malady to him. His
soul had a greater purpose.
the old monk found the lost baby floating among the reeds as quiet and calm as
if the river itself were its mother, he at once took charge of the child. He
cradled and fed it, and as the boy grew, taught him the ways of the valley.
Young Jess Bethel was ever the dutiful son and was content in his world of the
stone chapel with Brother Patricio. They made their bread and wine, they tended
to the forest and its inhabitants, and they comforted the people of the valley
when the people needed comforting. They never wandered too far from the
chapel’s crumbling walls.
the Passions of the valley found the chapel a wonderful playground, and Brother
Patricio always enjoyed watching his adopted son play among them. Jess seemed
more inclined to the wonders of the sprites than the growing cynicism of the valley
continued blissfully until Jess Bethel was a young man. One day, while mixing
dough for a wheat bread, the old monk fell over and died. It was as simple as
that. There were no long illnesses or deathbed farewells. Jess buried Patricio
beneath the roots of an oak tree near the chapel, and continued to look after
the old place even when the valley folk had long since forgotten it was there.
And so that is where he remained until that day when a curious sprite in
mourning followed him home.
Moss stared steadily into the dark of the cave. If there remained a brave soul
left in the valley and they chanced past the opening, they would have seen the
Passion hunched and as stoic as a statue, peering glassy-eyed at the cave wall.
But Peat Moss saw something there no passer-by could have seen. His grief had
overcome him. The ghost of Buford Longpost, the only being for which Peat Moss
had ever felt any affection for, glared back at him. He was an unmoving spirit;
as fixed to his spot as Peat Moss.
Passion’s defeated eyes almost cried true tears. He almost wept bitterly at the
memory of Buford’s demise. But then something transpired that prevented that.
One by one, ghost by ghost, the whisper had spun through the afterworld that
the angry Passion’s eyes were open and he could see spirits. Those beings that
Peat Moss had massacred and murdered began to trickle slowly into the cave out
of curiosity and a taste of vengeance. It was only a small stream of lost
consciousness at first. But it soon became a deluge. It wasn’t long before the
sprite saw around him the glaring, angry faces of everything he had ever
killed. And they were not as quiet as the silent woodsman’s ghost. No, they
were bitter and resentful, shouting and moaning. They tried their best to reach
out from the eternal divider and drag him into their world so that they might
each in their turn rip him asunder.
cavalcade of anger brought Peat Moss back to himself. He felt the hate and ire
that was his life’s purpose return to him. At once, he rose and clamored after
the spirits, wanting to kill them all over again. But he could not reach into
their world either. Yet, the angry calls of the ghosts still harassed him.
Peat Moss ran from the cave. He realized he could not defend himself from the
calls of ghosts. But still, the victims of his malevolence followed him,
torturing him through the woods; an army of the dead searching for bloody
his flight from the cave, Peat Moss had unknowingly exposed his whereabouts to
an investigatory Grit. Still perturbed by the sense of unease that wrapped
around her heart, she had gone wandering through the forest yet again. Her
intent was to find the source of her mysterious restiveness and put an end to
it. Though, how that was to happen was a mystery to her.
heard the ruckus, and determinedly made her way in the direction of the cave.
It took some doing. She fell more than once. But eventually she found it. And
while Peat Moss was long gone, his mind slowly being chipped away by the voices
of the dead, she felt his essence of hate. She ran her fingers over the cave
walls, picking up his scent. It was then she realized what she had to do. She
understood who this abhorrent creature was; what he meant to her. So, she walked
from the cave and slowly felt her way back to the chapel.
The Mingled Destinies of Crocodiles & Men - Set in the same river valley as The Rest Is Illusion and "Honeysuckle Sycamore", the story follows three generations of valley folk, centering in large part on Minerva True, a River Dweller and mystic living deep in the forested hills. She is at times the only person who sees an ancient danger that resides on the chapel grounds which has begun to threaten the lives of those around her. Most are too complacent to see the truth and pay little heed to her warnings of the imbalance between light and dark, and in the end only a small band of warriors stand beside her. A tale of love and duty, of respect for nature and purpose, ensues, challenging the destinies of Minerva True and her clan, among them the young hero Leith, his lover Aubrey (they're GAYS!!!), and the mute boy, Deverell. Leith’s half-crazed mother Calpurnia has her own aspirations, however, that prove detrimental not only to Minerva, but to everyone she comes in contact with. This should be released early 2013. I am so excited to finally get this released. I've been working on it for the past SEVEN years.
"Ghouls Gym" in Zombie Boyz - Me and Tj Klune have concocted (tee-hee) this novella for The Empire Press' anthology, and it is a hoot, y'all! Bodybuilders trapped in a gym with a bunch of flesh-eaters? Oh, the horror! Oh, the comedy! Oh, the sexy! April 2013.
Crack the Darkest Sky Wide Open, which includes my fantasy story "The Demon of Jericho", is a foray into self-publishing I'm taking with writers like Tj Klune and Abi Roux, six of us in total, each offering a unique story that may raise an eyebrow. May 2013.
Simple Men German and French translations. More in my plan to take over the world.
Galley Proof Spanish, German, and French translations. Bwahahahahaha!!! The world is mine!!!
Woke Up in a Strange Place audio book as read by Charlie David. Not sure the release date, but I know a lot of people are looking forward to this.
Azrael & The Light Bringer - This prequel to Mingled Destinies has just been picked up by Empire. It's awesome that they have such faith in my Valley Tales. I love writing them.
The Rascal - My horror novel about a couple whose marriage-on-the-skids becomes an all-out trainwreck when they move into an old cottage on the hill. It's not just the cottage that's haunted, it's the whole hang hill. Oh, and there's a creepy faded actress who lives just above them in the big house.
Bubbles n' Gordy graphic novel - This has been in the works since 2010, but you can't rush perfection and Absolutbleu's artwork is gorgeous! Hopefully this will be out soon. I will say that my sex fantasies can be at times very twisted.
"Life in a Northern Town" in the Mixed Tape antho - Based on my favorite 80s song by The Dream Academy.
STILL OUT THERE AND WAITING:
Haute Couture - Keith Chawgo and me wrote this B-movie about a group of guys under the assumption they are in a big Hollywood mansion for a reality show. They're not.
The Rest Is Illusion - Award-winner Michael Tennant adapted the book to screenplay and it is now in the hands of at least one very prominent filmmaker.
Subsurdity - I don't suppose they'll keep the title if this teleplay is ever picked up. Logo was looking at it once...but passed on it for The A-List, or so I hear. I bow to mediocrity.
Terms We Have For Dreaming - Just finished, a spec fic epic with nine different plotlines. Set in a city-state governed by a crazed deity. I might still be working on this a few years from now. Must perfect. Must perfect.
Homeless - Shall start this next, a ghost story/thriller/love story set (for the most part) in an abandoned carnival. The title is temporary until something much more dramatic and awesome comes to mind.
It was with much anxiety that
Honeysuckle at last returned to the river. Grit had been so shaken upon her
return to the chapel, neither he nor Jess could calm her. He needed to know
what she had discovered, what had frightened her so. Some instinct in him
wanted to protect her.
approached the river with fear edging on disgust. He sat hidden by the trees
for some time and watched the river from the hillside. His eyes were fixed on
it as if it were returning his stare and neither of them would forfeit and
break the battle of gazes.
though, Honeysuckle’s fierce concern for Grit won out, and he broke through the
trepidation that had caged him for so long. He stepped quickly from the forest
to the beach and it was as if a breakwall had given out. Upon him cascaded and
swirled all the goodness the river had given him. He realized how much he had
missed the banks and the sound of water. Yes, there was immense pain there. But
there was also undeniable joy.
waded into the shallowness at river’s edge, feeling the water embrace him again.
And as he looked into the river his own image changed in much the same manner
as Jess had seemingly transformed before his eyes the night before. Now,
instead of his own reflection, Dogwood peered back at him once more, now in the
clear light of the day. Dogwood raised his powerful arm from his side and
placed it palm-up toward Honeysuckle. In tears, Honeysuckle did the same,
mirroring the mirror. As his hand lay over Dogwood’s palm, the water rippled
and the glassy image became that of Jess. And then it shuddered once more and
became Grit. Yet, it wasn’t Grit. For there, in the water she seemed
different...Content. Happy even.
of my life,” Honeysuckle whispered, his tears adding to the flow of the
current. “And you are with me.”
Grit had scared Peat Moss from instantly attacking Honeysuckle Sycamore at the
chapel, it was not her presence alone that took the monster aback. As he hid in
the brush watching the two sprites and their human he began to hear whispers.
These whispers coincided with a strange tinge of jealousy he felt at observing
the tenderness between Honeysuckle and the young monk. From the tops of the
trees the intimations seemed to fall. Like mist around him they settled. They
were barely audible at first, but then grew in strength. Peat Moss turned this
way and that in startled watchfulness. He stumbled away from his hiding place,
but the whispers followed him. He swatted at them like gnats, but they would
not be silenced. Grunting and flailing, he ran through the forest and down the hillside
until he came to a cave he had often taken refuge in during a storm. And at
once, the voices hushed.
Moss peered into the darkness. Though he could no longer hear the invasive
whispers, he sensed something still clung to the air around him. He was not
alone. He swung angrily, attempting to grab whatever creature had dared follow
him into the cave.
began to see tiny balls of light, like fireflies only much smaller and faster.
They took up the whispering again, but now louder. They whirled about him, over
him. Try as he might, he could catch none of them. He growled in frustration
and it echoed off the cave walls.
the tiny orbs began to cluster into a single, larger orb. It then became a
blinding white light at the center of the cave. Peat Moss shielded his eyes
from its brilliance. And, slowly, the giant orb began to take form and the angered
whispering suddenly dispersed again. Peat Moss’ eyes widened in pain and regret
as the ghostly vision of Buford Longpost formed silent and aglow in front of