Friday, October 23, 2015

Hungry to the Bone

This week I'm just throwing together the re-posting of a story I originally submitted to Draven Ames several years ago. I'll eventually move this one over into my Horror Realities sub-section, but for now enjoy Hungry to the Bone!

Matt Krudd just wanted a fucking burger. Something fast and simple, something that wouldn’t cost him an arm and a leg. Stomach threatening to gnaw away at muscle tissue if it didn’t get fed soon, he raced his Subaru Impreza through the parking lot of the first restaurant he had come across, Hungry to the Bone. With a distinct lack of cars and customers around, it seemed the store would close in a few minutes.

Slamming his foot against the brake pad, he reached the order box.

“We’ll be with you in a moment,” said the distorted voice through the speaker.

“Yeah, I want a burger,” Matt said. “Just give me something hot. It doesn’t have to be fresh.”

For a moment, silence filled the air. Then a blip came from the speaker, followed by, “I told you to hold on a moment. You’re dealing with a skeletal crew here.”

His arm dangling out the window while he waited, Matt began rapping his fingers against the car door. One at a time, the digits on his car clock ticked away. 10:47, 48, 49. 50. What could’ve been the hold-up? It wasn’t like he’d gotten in back of a long line of cars or anything.

“Are you there?” Matt tried his best to keep his temper in check. But when no one got back to him after five minutes, he hurled his fist at the empty passenger’s seat to his right. “Damn it, dude. I want food, and I want it now. Your lot lights are still on. I’m not going anywhere until you serve me.”

Another blip at last. “I don’t have to deal with this,” the order taker announced defiantly.

“Excuse me?” Matt’s jaw hung low. What the hell was wrong with this person? Receiving no further response from the jerk at the box, Matt swung around the drive-thru lane, pulling up to the window. Like the outside lights, everything inside was still lit up. He pounded against the window, hoping someone would take his damn order already. No one approached the glass.

Furious, Matt parked his car and stormed up to a side entrance. The handle twisted as it should have, indicating the staff hadn’t yet locked up for the night. He threw the door open and stomped inside. A dank odor, possibly of moldy meat, attacked his nose upon entry.

“Hello?” he asked, searching for someone to yell at over the horrendous service he’d gotten just now. Again, no answer. Covering his mouth with an arm to keep himself safe from the stink of the place, he marched away from the entrance. A moment later, he heard something click from somewhere nearby. The lights went off. Glancing around in all directions, including the entrance behind him, his search came up empty.

“I’m not going anywhere until one of you idiots apologizes and gets me a burger.”

“Looks to me like you’ve had your fill of burgers, young man,” a raspy voice spoke out to him from the shadows. “Haven’t you heard of dieting?”

Matt’s blood soared to beyond boiling. “That’s it. I’m calling your corporate office.”

Before he could reach for his cell phone, something icy grazed the skin on his arm. Bony fingers tickled his hairs, and then seized his wrist with a stone-hard grip. Matt struggled to break free, but as a second set of skinless digits snatched his remaining hand, his heart chilled.

The office light came on, shedding dim light on the inside of the restaurant.

Three skeletons had cornered him, all in tattered rags that may have once resembled crew member slacks and polo shirts. Maggots skittered about the eye area of the only one wearing a loosely wired head-set. A small noose, possibly a manager’s tie, dangled around the neck of the second. The third one, the one holding tightly onto him, wore slight patches of hair and flesh over disconnected sections, just enough to suggest that this creature had likely been a teenage girl in life.

A swallow of bile swimming around in his mouth, Matt choked on his next words.

“My employee did warn you that you were dealing with a skeletal crew,” the tie-wearing skeleton grumbled, gesturing towards the one wearing a head-set. Head-set Skeleton chattered his teeth at Matt and a few maggots plopped to the floor.

A weak whimper escaped from Matt as the manager skeleton fondled his face, using its talons to slice open Matt’s cheeks.

The skeleton with the head-set fingered Matt’s sides, asking the others, “Will we be eating here, or shall we take it with us?”

Friday, October 16, 2015

A Meaning for Us

I’m looking outside my window as my children nap. I’m bearing slight chitchat coming from the direction of the neighbors, and my Pandora station is fired up at the time of this writing. But for the most part, it’s a rather quiet instant in this writer’s life. I’m still waiting on the beta readers to send me their notes for Interstellar Dad: Mass Reproduction. In the meantime, I have a rough draft project in my ninth book that’s keeping me busy in my free time.

Although to be honest, lately I haven’t been as much in the spirit to write. Don’t get me wrong; I love writing. It has been there for me when everything else has failed. Getting my thoughts and ideas down on the page, I find myself with a sense of fulfillment in the act of creating something. Whether or not that something pans out to mean much of anything remains to be seen. I suppose it has to have meaning or else I never would have worked on it in the first place.

I think this is a fundamental element in why writers write. We need to find meaning in something, whether it’s the meaning within ourselves, the meaning of our relationships with one another, or just the meaning of our place in the universe. Since the moment our species learned to write, we have sought out to define our existence through our words, to give us a sense of value.

Right now, I’m trying to find meaning in why I write, and more importantly, what happens when we lose sight of our meaning. In the past hour, I’ve come to learn that a writer who I’ve never interacted with, but who had a heck of a following, took her own life this morning. I do not know what drew her to that final action, but I do know that a lot of people are going to struggle to find meaning in this tragedy. Perhaps there may be a sort of meaning that people will never truly understand. I know I don’t, and I would never presume to claim otherwise.

The veil of doubt is a dark one that can, and often times does, eclipse the light in our lives. It pales whatever meaning we have found in ourselves, casting a sense of despair and furthering that doubt that nothing we do will ever matter.

Everyone matters. Your art matters. Please don’t ever forget that.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Why I Suck at Self-Promotion

This self-promotion thing is a lot harder than it looks.
I’m of the firm belief that I suck at self-promotion. I’ve been self-publishing my books for a few years now, ever since February of 2012.

For a few of my titles, I did blog tours, particularly Spell of Entrapment and Optical Osmosis. I did the Facebook Author Page, the Twitter, and even joined Goodreads. It used to be that I wrote five blog posts a week, and even got around to commenting on other people’s blogs. I did everything I was capable of doing with the finite time and technology that I had on hand throughout the years.

Now, seven books in, I’m hardly a blip on the screen. And I’m terrified that every time I do a promotional post, I’m driving people away. I tend to push them away in real life too, but that’s beside the point. I’ll occasionally see things like 300 Pages read in a single day over at the Kindle Select page, or give away of 71 copies of Fire in the Forest during my last freebie promotion. I guess the latter disproves my opening line somewhat, except that said line includes the word belief.

This is where I’m at with that tricky word. It’s quite misleading in that it has to do with a perception, one in which I seem inadequate to my peers. I’ve seen a lot of success coming recently from those who I’ve fought long and hard in the literary trenches with. Major kudos to them, by the way. There’s a reason why they’ve reached and earned the success they’ve gotten. They’ve put themselves out there. I don’t, or at least not as much as I used to. Sure, I’ve published the seven books, and I’m active on Facebook and Twitter a good part of my free time.

But that’s where it ends.

I haven’t done any podcasts or hangouts, I haven’t done book signings or readings other than just the one reading last December. I could make excuses for why those things haven’t happened, but really it all falls back on me making the time and putting in the energy to do what I feel needs to be done. Truth be told, I’d rather be writing. I’m glad a handful of people are enjoying my books, and that’s the whole point of them. That’s my success. I may never see the monetary layers that other authors get to see, but really money isn’t why I’m doing this. It’s because I’m doing what I love, sharing my art and passion with the world at large.  Sometimes I tend to forget that.

You can't spell heart without art.
And if me doing what I love and focusing on that is why I suck at self-promotion, then so be it.

Do you ever have trouble putting yourself out there for the world at large?