Tag Archives: writing

Down With the Thickness: Writing, Family Life, and Dealing with Depression

DWTT Final Cover

It’s been a long time since I’ve sat down and actually wrote something. My last blog post was in September. Before that I’d only done one other post for the entire year, which makes me incredibly ashamed of myself. I’ve toyed with edits on my new novel off and on, but I haven’t sat down and really tried to write since I got married. I’ve been telling myself it’s because I’ve been adjusting to my new life as a stay-at-home dad. It’s been an experience and my kid can be a handful. That’s true, but it’s not the real reason that I haven’t been writing. It’s taken me months to really nail down exactly what my problem has been, but for the past few days I’ve come to the realization that I haven’t been writing because I’ve been struggling with depression and thus have been actively avoiding writing, or really anything that requires motivation and a sense of self worth outside of the things that I HAVE to do.

That realization surprised me.

Struggling with depression is nothing new for me. I’ve battled it my entire life. For years I couldn’t go more than a month or two without depression rearing it’s ugly head, and a few times a year those funks would dip low enough where suicidal thoughts would come and go as well. The thing is I haven’t had a bout of depression that bad in over a year. I had honestly thought that I may have finally slayed the beast once and for all once I got married. For as long as I can remember the one thing that I’ve wanted more than anything was to get married and have a kid. I always felt like that achievement would be the crown jewel in my life. It’d be the key to my happiness and once it happened all the feelings of loneliness, worthlessness, and all that other junk that depression likes to torment me with would all be rendered moot.

In a lot of ways I was right.

I’m happier now than I’ve ever really been in my life. I don’t feel lonely anymore. I don’t feel completely worthless or like I’m unlovable. My wife is the most loving, supportive, and understanding woman I could ever hope to find. My kid is an adorable, smart, hyperactive, spoiled pain in the arse and I love him more than I thought it was possible to love another human being. The fact that he isn’t my “blood” doesn’t factor into it at all for me. He is my son in every way that matters and both he and his mother are the answers to decades worth of prayers, wishes, and hopes. I couldn’t ask for a better family.

Which is why this current bout of depression has caught me by surprise. The depression has evolved. This time it didn’t attack me in the way it used to. Before, depression would come on hard and fast and put me on my ass for days. The world would go dark; I’d be a moody pain in the ass; and after a few days I’d emerge exhausted mentally and emotionally, but generally intact. But all of the old stuff that it used to use against me doesn’t work too well anymore, so it’s found new avenues to attack that are more subtle. In fact, I think it’s been something that I’ve been struggling with for months and I just didn’t fully recognize it for what it was until now.

Getting married hasn’t eradicated my insecurities or made the world a perfect place. My wife and I have had several very stressful things we’ve had to struggle with already. That’s just life. We’ve gotten through them together and we haven’t let those things affect our relationship. In fact, it’s only made our relationship stronger. That’s how marriage is supposed to work. That said, while the old insecurities may have been hammered down by the love of my new family, new ones have taken root and sprouted to take their place.

I have medical issues. They’re issues that are genetic and thus they are issues I’ll have to deal with for my entire life. They’ve caused a lot of physical problems, problems that have gotten progressively worse in the last couple of years.  As a result I’m unable to do much in the way of physical activity, I’m in constant pain, and I’m unable to work.  The dynamic in our house is my wife works full time and I stay home and take care of our little Tasmanian devil. I try to do things around the house: take care of the dishes, keep the house from being a complete disaster area, cook on the days my wife works, etc. I can’t do everything I want to do. I get tired and my body rebels on me after only short bouts of activity, so something that normally would take maybe ten minutes might take me half an hour or better. In a given day if I’m able to empty and load the dish washer, make dinner, and keep our kid from doing something that might hurt himself or others I call it a win. I’m not writing all this to throw myself a pity party or to garner sympathy. I’m just providing a bit of perspective.

I know that times have progressed. Gender roles aren’t what they used to be. I know that it is just as okay for me to be a househusband and stay at home dad as it was for wives to be housewives and stay at home moms. I know that having my wife bringing home the majority of our income doesn’t make me less of a man. I know that my wife understands my physical limitations and that she knows that I do the best I can with what I’ve got to work with, and that I work hard to provide for her in other areas to make up for what I lack in being able to help in the physical ones.

I KNOW all of this. That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t still bother me. That doesn’t mean that depression can’t use it as ammunition to assault me, and it has, because I was wrong.

The “war” with depression that I thought I won wasn’t the real war at all.  I’ve realized what anyone who has battled depression all their lives can tell you- it’s what Superman would describe as a “neverending battle”. Once you win one skirmish the enemy will find something new and attack again. It’s a war that you only win when you’re on your deathbed surrounded by your family and other people who love you and you realize that despite it you still lived a full and mostly happy life. It’s a war that you win by refusing to let IT win. Now I’m in a new battle with depression, but now that I’m aware of how it’s attacking, with the help of my loved ones, I’ll win this one too. Then it’ll be something else, but that’s okay. I have a family and friends that love me. I have a dream of becoming a published author.

I have things worth fighting for.

Maybe you’re reading this and you’re struggling in the neverending battle yourself. Maybe you’re in the thick of it and it’s hard to see around you. Maybe it’s hard to focus on what you have to fight for. Just know that you aren’t alone and that the only way you lose the battle is if you give up and let it win. Don’t give it the satisfaction.

Carry on.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Down With The Thickness

Quick Update: What We’ve Been Up To

authenticprint

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything and I apologize for that. Shawn and I have both been busy in our respective wheelhouses. Shawn has been gearing up for the Baltimore Comic Con next weekend, where he’ll be selling the print featured above as well as the first character print for our upcoming comic Failsafe. Since that print is a con exclusive I won’t be able to share it with you just yet. I’ve been working hard on a new novel, and I think I’m far enough along in it that I can share a little about it. I’ve written 4 books at this point. (5 if you count both Chosen books). I’ve learned a lot over the process of writing each of those books, and I’ve very proud of what I’ve accomplished. I think they’re all decent stories, and they’ve allowed me to play in different genres and try out different storytelling approaches. I decided that it was time to try my luck with traditional publishing- which means not only writing a 70,000 word novel but also trying to snag an agent and go through the whole fun rejection process.

I have a mystery novel that I’ve got planned out and have about 1/3rd written. I love the idea and I enjoy the story, but it’s not the kind of book I want to write on a regular basis, so I decided to shelve it for now. My favorite genre is urban fantasy. The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher is my favorite series of all time. I really love Larry Correia’s Monster Hunter and Grimnoir novels, Richard Kadrey’s Sandman Slim series, and Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid novels as well. I’ve really wanted to do something in this genre, and You Only Die Twice was my attempt at testing the waters in a sci-fi setting. This new novel is my take on a more “traditional” urban fantasy series. The protagonist is female, which I felt was important because there aren’t a ton of kick-ass female protagonists in the genre. Most of the books that do feature a female protagonist as the main character tend to degenerate into borderline romance novels with an urban fantasy garnish. That’s not something I’m interested in writing. I wanted to write a legitimately kick ass female main character that people, regardless of gender, would love, but particularly that female readers could be inspired by. I have what I think is a pretty cool magical system in place based around the manipulation of the 5 elements: Earth, Air, Water, Fire, & Spirit, & inspired partially by Avatar: The Last Airbender (the quality cartoon series, not the crappy movie) because they did some really cool, creative things with how those elements (not counting spirit) could be used. I’m also a history buff, and I love it when sci-fi or fantasy stories try to tie history in with their world building and offer alternate explanations for things (Like Stargate, where the Egyptians gods were actually aliens for example), so I try to do that in this series as well. Basically I’m trying to write the kind of book I love to read, and hopefully people will agree with me. My goal is to have the rough draft finished in the next few months with a final draft ready to shop around to agents by the end of the year. I’ll be looking for test readers soon, so if you’re interested shoot me a message and let me know.

Anyway, that’s pretty much where we’re at right now. Once Shawn gets back from the Con and has some much-deserved down time we’ll be starting on getting Failsafe into gear. Our goal is to have the first storyline done in time for the con next year. We’ll have the con print, test sketches, previews, etc. here as we’ve got stuff to share for those who are interested in following the progress.

Leave a comment

Filed under Update

So Many Feels!

chosenebook

Moments ago I hit the save button for the final time on part 2 of The Chosen Rebirthing. It is the second half of the novel that Mark Ruelius and I wrote together over the course of ten years, the first half of which I published last fall. As I did so the Man of Steel theme kicked in on my iTunes- epic win. I hope to have Part II available, finally, on Monday. A huge thanks to Cathy Johnson Holder for editing this beast for me, and for Shawn Skvarna for once again helping me with getting the cover done even though he’s got 40 million other things he’s trying to do right now. To put this into perspective (as to why it has taken so long)  the length of this second half is almost as long as my last two published novels combined. Yep, we really swing for the fences the first time out. No wonder it took us a decade. Keep an eye out here and I’ll let you know officially when it’s available.

Leave a comment

Filed under Novels, The Chosen: Rebirthing

Moving On: Chapter Five

Moving On

The awesome thing about being a spirit is that being stuck in a bathroom all day wasn’t nearly as horrible as I was expecting due to the weird way time passes for me now. It also didn’t hurt that Riley left pretty early on to go back to Becca, promising that he’d be back at sundown. I don’t care how fast the time passing thing is for ghosts; when Riley is around, time slows to a crawl.

Thanks to Michael-the-maybe-angel I had plenty to think about to keep me occupied. The basic gist I’m getting is that I need to find a way to resolve whatever crap I’m still holding on to in order to “move on” to whatever comes next. Turns out, when I decided to try and be honest with myself and really think about what that might entail, it became a pretty long list.

Mike was right, I have issues.

At the top of the list is my relationship with Jenna. She’s pretty much the last person I want to think about right now, and I could act like a complete child and just deny it until I’m forced to face it, but what’s the point? After the emotional butt kicking I received last night when Michael basically called me on all my bullshit, I realized that I spent an entire lifetime running away from stuff that made me uncomfortable or that I didn’t want to face. All that’s earned me is a one way ticket to bathroom purgatory. Mike was right, as hard as it may be to admit, it’s time I sucked it up and dealt with it. He could have been less of a jerk about it, but a spade’s a spade.

That doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy, and it doesn’t mean it’s at the top of my to-do list. I didn’t become the witty, neurotic, narcissist I am overnight, and a paradigm shift certainly isn’t going to change me that quickly either. It’s going to take progression, and as the popular saying goes: admittance is the first step. The next step is coming up with a game plan.

So it looks like I’m going to have to pull a Scrooge and face my past demons. I’m hoping I’m able to learn some stuff from the more experienced ghosts that might help in that regard, as I’m sure just figuring this crap out for myself isn’t going to give me all the closure I’ll need, or they’ll need, or however the hell this is supposed to work. Being able to interact with the living will be a big help.

Knowing that confronting Jenna is probably the biggest hurdle I’m going to have to face somehow makes the whole thing seem more manageable. I know where I need to go; I can see the mountain top, so now I just have to build myself up by tackling the little stuff, the little hills, until I feel ready to face Everest. Not that there’s really a lack of “little stuff”. While the tragic death of the only relationship I was ever capable of making work for any length of time was certainly a big factor in my decision throw in the towel in the game of life, it was hardly the only one. It really did feel like the whole world was out to get me. Trust me; there be hills a-plenty for me to climb.

But before any climbing can happen I need to get out of this damn bathroom.

The little Mickey Mouse clock mounted on the wall opposite the toilet tells me it’s six in the evening, which means that any minute now I should be good to go. I’m hesitant to test that theory by way of the doorway. Unmanly as that may sound, that shit hurt. Still, I’m not getting anywhere just sitting here being scared.

I walk over to the doorway and cautiously reach out my left hand… it goes through. No donkey-kick to the chest. Free at last, free at last! Still, I can’t help but wince as I step through the doorway, half expecting to get knocked on my butt anyway as some sort of spirit world practical joke. Thankfully, it doesn’t happen. I never thought I’d be so happy to see my Ikea-furnished living room.

I’d kill for a Frappuccino right now.

Just because I’m dead and don’t need to eat anymore doesn’t mean that those human cravings have gone. Thank God I never picked up smoking; otherwise I’d really be twitchy. I take a seat on my couch, twiddling my thumbs, and silently wish I could turn on the television. I’ve spent all day being introspective and it’d be nice to have something to take my mind off of things while I wait.

“Well, looks who’s finally out of the bathroom! How ya feeling, Dave?”

I glance up to see Riley’s head staring down at me from the ceiling. His right hand appears and gives me a little wave.

I stand up, anxious to get moving. “Much better, and itching to get out of here.”

“Well alrighty! Follow me.”

The head and hand disappear back into the ceiling above me and I leap after them. I catch up to Riley outside and fly alongside him, close enough so we can hear each other over the roar of the wind. “So where are we headed?”

“You know that YMCA downtown?”

I have to think for a second. “The one they closed a few years ago?”

“That’s the one. We meet in the basement. No one is likely to bother us down there.”

“So how many other spirits are we talking?”

“Hard to say. Depends on how many people in our area died without moving on, and how many of us spirits have moved on since last night.”

Makes sense. “How big is our area?”

“Just a few miles, man, otherwise it’d be nutso. Mike has a network of little hubs spread out in every city.”

I want to whistle, but flying at high speeds isn’t exactly conducive for that kind of thing. Now that Riley has pointed it out it seems obvious, but until now I never really thought about the logistics of how something like this would run. Especially when you consider Mike is doing it in every city in the world. At least, I assume he is. I guess if I were him I’d be a little crabby too if I had to stop managing a worldwide network of the wayward dead just to talk with one asshole.

The city whips by in a blur and it only takes us a few minutes to reach the YMCA. Without preamble we dip straight into the building and head for the basement, and I feel a little beam of pride in myself for not flinching this time as we ghost through the floors and walls. As we pass I can make out several homeless people who have taken up residence in the abandoned building. One enterprising couple has pulled in an old steel drum and has lit a fire for warmth. The bright orange sparks of ash dance dangerously close to flammable debris and walls. I guess someone shut off the sprinkler system in the building, or it just doesn’t work due to lack of maintenance.

It looks as though the entire first floor of the multi-storied building has been used as a large canvas for graffiti art, and I catch a glimpse of a particularly impressive looking dragon breathing fire before we dip below into the basement. Given the hobo-fire above, I fervently hope that wasn’t an omen. If so, we may have a few new members to our little support group tomorrow.

The basement is filled with broken chairs, old gym mats, and various other bits of dilapidated equipment that no one wanted to loot or bother burning. Unfortunately, being dead hasn’t dulled my senses much, so I get to enjoy the full bouquet of stale sweat, human feces, and broken dreams that permeates the very foundation of the building.

Fun fact: ghosts still have a gag reflex. When the full impact of the smell hits me I retch, and I hear Riley chuckling behind me.

“Yeah man, that smell is something else. Believe it or not, you get used to it.”

Huelk…Thanks for the warning, buddy.”

“Hey man, we’ve got to have some fun. Think of it as a newbie rite of passage.”  

Laughter echoes all around us as ten other spirits mist into view. They’re all the same blue-white luminescent glow as Riley and I, but there is a definite difference in body type and stature among them. It’s like I’m watching the Smurfs while tripping on LSD.

I smirk at the one leading the pack, who I assume is the one who just spoke. He’s a bit taller than the others and appears to have a thin frame that matches mine. “You must be Frat Boy Smurf. Nice to meet you.”

He chuckles and offers me a hand. “I’m Robin.”

I take the hand and give it a firm shake. I’m still amazed at how that works given we’re technically incorporeal. “And these are your merry men?”

He laughs as he lets me have my hand back. “Given that a few of them are women, no. We’re living in a politically correct society now. The proper phrase is ‘merry persons.’”

“My mistake. I’m David.”

He laughs again and gestures for me to follow. “C’mon, David, the smell isn’t so bad in here.”

He leads the charge as the others fall in line behind him, and we head into a side room that I assume used to be for extra storage. It’s since been converted into a ghost’s anonymous meeting room, complete with a circle of chairs. The only thing that’s missing is a table with refreshments in the back.

Robin takes a seat and we all follow suit. “All right everyone, let’s get this party started. We’ve already been introduced to David, but David hasn’t been introduced to us, so let’s do that now. Everyone concentrate just like we’ve been practicing.”

Everyone closes their eyes and, to my astonishment, one by one the group goes from smurf-o-vision to real life. Robin looks like a younger Mr. Rodgers, complete with yellow sweater and khakis. He’s flanked by an elderly lady in a yellow flower-print dress and an overweight, middle-aged, bald guy in a plumber’s uniform. His name tag says Robert. The others in the room are a nice mix of ages, races, and gender. There’s an African American guy, mid-late twenties, in a business suit; a young Hispanic couple in matching polos and jeans; and an elderly oriental man. My heart completely breaks when my eyes come to the last three. They’re kids- two boys and a little girl. They’re maybe eight years old and are all wearing t-shirts that read “Wilmington Elementary!” with a picture of a rainbow and multicultural stick figures with smiles on their faces holding hands under it.

I get a much-needed laugh when I get to Riley. In fact, I almost fall out of my chair because I’m laughing so hard. Riley is sporting dirty-blonde dreads, hemp khakis, and a “Jesus Saves After Every Level” t-shirt. He is a walking, talking cliché, and I love him for it.

“Dude, what is it?”

When I can manage to speak between gasps for air I manage, “I bet myself that you’d have dreads;” which sends me into a new fit of giggles that I just can’t stop. Then the kids join in and a few moments later everyone is having a good belly laugh, even Riley.

Eventually I try to apologize through wheezing breaths, but Riley just laughs along with the rest of us and pats me on the back. “It’s all good, man. I know I got style.”

When everyone sobers Robin nods at me. “Now it’s your turn, David. Close your eyes and think about who you are. Try and picture yourself in your mind as though you’re looking in a mirror.”

I tend to make jokes and be sarcastic when I’m nervous. It’s a defense mechanism and sometimes it makes me come off as kind of a douchebag, especially when the people I’m around are being serious or sincere.  That’s what happening now, with everyone’s eyes on me, but I fight the urge to make a comment and I do as he instructed.

I try to think of what I saw the last time I looked at myself in the mirror. It was yesterday morning, just before I took the razor to my wrists in my bathroom. I was about to get in the shower and prepare myself for another day at an office full of people I hate and who despise me right back…

I reach for the shaving cream on the counter and my hand pauses there, hovering just over where my Gillette razor is resting in its little holster. That’s when the idea hits me: What am I doing? Why am I even bothering? I hate my life. I hate my job. The one good thing I had, that had made me feel at least a little content, walked out on me, and I don’t blame her one bit.

I am a pathetic, unhappy man who is far too smart for his own good and has never made anything of himself with it. I’ve wasted my time. I’ve wasted my life. I’ve never really been happy. Why not just let it all go? What do I really have to live for?

I look up at the mirror. I stare into eyes like two chips of ice. They’re sad eyes, almost dead. I’m already almost dead.

Time to finish the job.

I flip the razor holster over to where the spare razors are held. I pull one out and look at it. No, this’ll be a pain in the ass to use. It won’t work. I open my drawer and I shove stuff around. I know it’s in here somewhere…there. I pull out an old straight razor. It used to be my grandfather’s. My father had given it to me on my sixteenth birthday. He’d told me I was a man now and it was time to start acting like one. He made me shave with it and I cut the hell out of myself that first time. He just laughed at me. He laughed as I bled and cried…

I open the razor and stare at the blade. It glints in the fluorescent light of my bathroom, mesmerizing me. I’d never realized just how beautiful the thing was. I feel a hunger growing inside me. My eyes are drawn down from the blade to my wrists. It’s like a siren’s call, and I know I’m doing the right thing.

The blade bites, red runs. I quickly switch hands while I still have feeling and do the other side. The blade falls from hands unable to hold it any longer. My knees go weak and drop me to the cold linoleum floor. I feel sticky warmth where the blood is pooling around my body, and I start to drift as my life drains away. The last thing I see before the darkness takes me are three men, all in shadow, smiling down at me with predatory grins…

Main Archive Page   Chapter 6 ->

Copyright © J.R. Broadwater 2013

All rights reserved

All of the characters are fictitious, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Leave a comment

Filed under Moving On, Ongoing Serials

Moving On: Chapter Four

Moving On

The candles go out as he disappears, leaving me sitting in the dark. When I was a kid and my mom used to drag me to church, our cranky pastor used to do that to the church lights when he was ready to get home to his fried chicken and football but his “flock” was hanging around gossiping for too long after service.

You know, subtle.

“Wow, Mike. Thanks for that.”

I know I should get going, but I just don’t have the energy to get up and move yet. Instead, I find myself thinking long and hard about some of the things Mike said. I think about Riley and how I treated him today. I think about how he died and what he left behind. I find I’m ashamed to admit that I wouldn’t have done what he did to save that woman. I’d like to think I would have been one of those people that would go back in the store and at least call the police, but I know I would never have directly tried to intervene myself.

That line of thinking leads me to Mike’s rather blunt assessment of the kind of man I was, and I guess still am. I never really thought of myself as a bad guy. Then again, I guess most narcissists wouldn’t, would they? I did always see myself as the smartest person in the room. I’d get frustrated when I saw people who were walking disasters get promoted ahead of me. I’d feel left out because I wouldn’t be invited out after work. I felt like my world fell out from underneath my feet when Jenna walked out the d-

No.

No, I’m not going to think about that. Not now. I’ve got enough to deal with as it is. Right now, I need to get my not-quite-solid butt back to my “tether” before sunrise. I don’t know what Mike’s definition of “unpleasant” is, but I sure as hell don’t want to find out.

Of course, as soon as I have that thought, a beam of muted sunlight breaks through the grime on the church windows and hits me right in the eye. Very funny, Michael, God, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, or whoever the hell is running things.

Very.

Funny.

“Well, shi-“

 It feels as though my entire body is being pulled inside out. My stomach does flip flops like I’m on the worst rollercoaster in the history of bad theme park rides, and just when I feel like I can’t stand it any longer I find myself back on the floor of the bathroom in my apartment- a mirror image of my position the day before. I also feel like I got hit by a semi-truck, backed over, and then run over again for good measure. It hurts to move. Hell, it even hurts to blink.

“Well, looks like someone got sling-shotted. Sucks, don’t it?”

Against my better judgment I force my eyes to open and instantly regret it as the slow, persistent pounding in my head suddenly becomes a death metal drummer. Once my eyes focus I see Riley staring down at me from his perch on my bathroom sink. He shakes his head in sympathy. “Harsh, man. Same thing happened to me my first night.”

I grunt in affirmation. It’s all I can manage. He nods in understanding and hops down from the sink. “Well bro, good news is the crappy feeling will pass in a few minutes.” He casually looks around the room. “Wow, your landlord was quick on the trigger to get this place cleaned up. It looks much nicer without all the blood and unhappy people everywhere.”

I grunt again and try to sit up. Big mistake. The room spins and my head drops back to the floor.

Riley helpfully chimes in, “Yeah bro, don’t rush it. Only makes it worse.”

Thanks, Riley. You’re a veritable fount of helpful information.

I lay on the floor for a few minutes, first wishing for death, then realizing that I’m already dead, followed closely by wondering if this might be hell and if the devil is just screwing with me. Meanwhile, Riley has been rambling the entire time, but I’ve been too focused on feeling like hammered dog crap to pay any attention. After about five minutes of this routine I finally feel like I can sit up and manage to do so.

Riley, pleasant and cheery as ever, waves at me excitedly. “Look who’s finally up!”

I try to remember the harrowing tale of Riley’s death and home life that Michael told me last night, but instead all I see are images of me beating him like a piñata and wondering if candy might come out. That mental image makes me smile, an expression that Riley takes as encouragement.  

“There we go, buddy! Feeling better?”

The smile dies a horrible, messy death, as I groan and try to stand up. I’m a little wobbly, but manage to make it without falling back on my butt. “This. Sucks.”

Riley nods emphatically. “Yeah, man. You better believe I’m home long before sunup every day after that first night. Once was more than enough for this guy. You should be right as rain in a few. You have a nice place here, by the way. I didn’t really get a chance to look around last time.”

I use the sink for support as I mutter, “Yeah, thanks.”

I’m feeling a little guilty about the piñata thing now that the pain isn’t wracking my body. As I watch Riley look around like a yokel during his first trip to a real city I feel a pang of sympathy for him. “Hey Riley, I’m glad you came by today. I wanted to tell you I’m sorry if I was kind of a jerk yesterday.”

He waves the comment away like he’s shooing a fly. “Naw man. It’s cool. You had a lot to process. I understand.”

I manage a smile for him. “Thanks. How’s your wife doing, by the way?”

I didn’t think it was possible for Riley to get any perkier than he already was, but I’m wrong. He starts to beam. “She’s doing great, man! Won’t be long now! I’m so excited I can hardly stand it! I’m going to be a father!”

I nod. “Yeah, congratulations. Michael told me all about it last night.” I study the floor for a few moments, my own shame suddenly overcoming me. Here I was, a man who took his own life, standing with another who had his taken from him. I hadn’t really thought of it that way until this moment. “I’m sorry, about what happened to you. It’s not fair.”

The sunshine dims just a bit, but he still manages a wan smile. “Yeah, that sucked pretty hard, man.” He shrugs. “But crap happens, ya know? That lady ended up okay, and I’m still able to be there for Becca. So, it’s all good.”

I shake my head. “I don’t think I’d be taking it half as well as you. I mean, you still get to see her, but it’s got to be hard not being able to talk to her, or for her to see you back, right?”

He frowns. “What are you talking about man? She can see and talk to me.”

He starts to laugh again as he points at me and what I’m sure is a comical expression of dumbstruck confusion. “Oh! You got me! You’re just messin’ with me!”

Maybe the slingshot trip messed me up more than I thought. I try to stand up straight and shake my head. “Wait, are you saying Becca can see and hear you?”

“Sure, man! I mean, it takes some real concentration, and it can be draining so I can’t do it for long periods, but she’s my tether, so it’s not too bad.”

Unbelievable. Michael had mentioned it was a possibility last night but I’d not really paid much attention to it. “So, does it work for other people too, or just Becca?”

He stops pacing around the room and scratches at his head. The action kicks up little wisps of spirit-smoke. “You know, I’m not sure! I haven’t really tried it with anyone else.”

“So how does it work?”

He leans against the doorway and I half expect him to fall right through like out of a slapstick cartoon. “Well, it takes a lot of practice. I think I scared Becca half to death the first few times. It’s like, you gotta really concentrate on what you’re doing.” To demonstrate he walks back over to the sink and grunts as he picks up my toothbrush that’s resting on the counter. He’s obviously straining with concentration and effort, but sure enough he’s lifting it. In the mirror’s reflection it looks like the toothbrush is floating on its own. “You have to focus on each word, and have really clear in your head what you want them to see and hear… or in this case, what you want to move.”

He sets the toothbrush back down and falls against the counter for support, breathing heavily, like it weighed a ton. “Whew!”

He has to catch his “breath” for a second before continuing, “It’s almost like when you’re all bound up from not eating enough of that nasty bran cereal, so you’re trying real hard to take a-“

I hold up a hand. “Yeah, I’m picking up what you’re throwing down, Riley. Thanks.”

He gives me a thumbs up as he pushes off the counter and stands up straight. “No problem, man. It’s actually kinda why I came by this morning. I was thinking you might want to meet a few of the other locals, you know? We try to meet once a day and talk. Help each other out.”

  I can’t help but chuckle. “What, like a spirit support group?”

He laughs with me but nods. “Yeah, something like that. They might be able to tell you stuff I can’t. A lot of them have more experience with this ghosting thing than I’ve got. They’re the ones that taught me how to do my little magic trick there. If anyone can teach you about how to make yourself be seen and heard, it’s these folks.”

I nod and take a few test steps. When I manage to walk a straight line without falling over I figure I’ll be okay to leave. “That’s a good idea man. Thanks. Let’s head out.”

He starts to warn me but I’m not listening as I try to step through the bathroom doorway and into my living room. The next thing I know I’m back on the floor and the death metal drummer is getting to his solo in my head. “What. The. Hell!?”

I look up and see Riley wincing in sympathy. “Ooohhh, sorry. I tried to warn you but wasn’t fast enough. I think you’re still on the energy mend, bro. You probably won’t be able to leave for a little while. It’s all good though, cuz the meeting isn’t until sundown anyway.”

The dizziness fades quickly, thank God for small favors, and I’m able to stand back up. “Wait, so I’m stuck in here until I recharge? How long is that going to take?”

 “Well, since you got sling-shotted, it’ll probably take most of the day.” He shrugs. “At least it did for me.”

“So I have to spend the day stuck here in my bathroom?!”

He nods, and then sticks his head through the doorway to admire my living room. “Yeah, that sucks man. You should have killed yourself in here! You’ve got a sweet setup!”

Anger and visions of piñatas are back with a vengeance, and I growl through gritted teeth, “Hey Riley? You like candy?”

Main Archive Page   Chapter 5 ->

Copyright © J.R. Broadwater 2013

All rights reserved

All of the characters are fictitious, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Leave a comment

Filed under Moving On, Ongoing Serials

Marketing? Help!

This is more for the other indie authors out there but if anyone else has two cents they’d like to add it’d be great. How are you promoting your books? What are some of the marketing tools you’ve been using to get your name out there? We’ve been struggling the past few months to promote our books, and I gotta tell you, it’s rough. I knew going in it would be a long, rough road, but you hear those success stories floating around the net and in the back of your mind you’re thinking “Yep, that’ll be me!” Not really… Everywhere I’ve looked I’ve been told that social networking is the way to go. I’ve been promoting with Twitter and Facebook but I refuse to just spam for the sake of spamming. We’ve been promoting on Goodreads as well. I actually purchased ads for both books and we’ve gotten a few responses for Clay Colt but I’m just wondering what else we could be doing shy of buying actual ad space on websites, which we can’t afford. I know that once we get into our comic stuff it’ll be a bit easier to promote. Comics are a visual medium, and it’s easier to garner interest when you throw up some panels with pretty art. Promoting books is more difficult because you have to grab people’s attention and get them to actually read, which a lot of times people just don’t have the time to do. Anyway, just thought I’d throw this out there and see what kind of response I might get. I could use any tips you other indie pros might have to offer.

Leave a comment

Filed under Rant Alert

Ask David Profiles on Our Books

Hey everyone. Ask David (the site with the creepy animated banner) just a did a profile on both You Only Die Twice and Down with the Thickness. Please check them out. If you’ve finished either book and haven’t already, that would be a good time to post a review of your own. We’re working as an indie group, so word of mouth is everything with getting this stuff out there. Right now this is my full time job, and what I bring home is basically what I make in profit on sales. Shawn and Cathy are doing me a huge favor right now by donating their services because, quite frankly, I’m not making enough to pay them anything yet. We’d really like to see this become a “thing” where we can get quality content out to you at affordable prices on a fairly regular basis. Not just novels and short stories, but comics and other fun projects as well. We all really appreciate your support and your help in getting the word out.

Leave a comment

Filed under Clay Colt, Down With The Thickness, Novels