Archive for Fiction

Self Promotion Round Up

By | August 31, 2014 | 1 Comments
October 7, 2014

October 7, 2014

Believe me, if there was a digital version of a sandwich board that read PAY ATTENTION TO ME OR I WILL FOLLOW YOU HOME AND TAKE A DUMP ON YOUR LAWN I would wear that sumbitch. Lacking that, I must lower myself to doing self-promotion like a commoner, begging people to put eyeballs on me. It’s humiliating. It’s why I drink. Damn you all, just buy my books without me having to do anything! Including write the books, as that is a LOT of effort.

Freebies!

Still, promotion must be done. Here’s a round up of all the freebies out there currently to inspire you to read my mighty works:

Here’s a starred review of We Are Not Good People in Publisher’s Weekly, BTW.

Appearances!

If the idea of meeting me and shaking my sweaty hand as I mutter and twitch appeals to you, you will have your opportunities, my friends:

Essays!

I’ve been writing a lot of things in service of self-promotion. Some of them are even good!

That does it for now. More things in the works, of course, but self promotion is exhausting and makes me feel dirty, so I need to drink now.

 

American Wedding Confidential: Will The Real Best Man Please Stand Up?

By | August 5, 2014 | 0 Comments
Out Now. BUY IT.

Out Now. BUY IT.

Celebrating the publication of my darkly humorous novella The Ruiner (out now from Damnation Books at Amazon and B&N), I thought I’d repost this essay I once wrote for the zine.

In which I learn the explosive force of love.

About year ago this Thursday my old friend Emil got married and asked me to be his best man. Emil’s a good friend of The Inner Swine Inner Circle (TISIC) in general, and there was some resentment, jealousy, and harsh words concerning my elevation to Best Man status. There were also isolated incidents of violence. Eventually, Emil managed to cool tempers and remind the rest of TISIC that they were, above all else, contractually obligated to me in perpetuity. After that impassioned speech the members of TISIC retreated to their various abodes to scan the fine print of their contracts, only to return in much more manageable moods.

The Best Man has a lot of duties in the modern wedding. Whereas in the good old days he was merely a responsible member of the groom’s clan who vouched for the groom’s sanity, financial solvency, and lack of venereal diseases, these days the Best Man has lots to do: organize a bachelor party (I’m told it was a humdinger; personally I don’t remember much after that fifth body shot off of Lola the Stripper’s washboard stomach), deliver the viciously hungover groom to the actual wedding the next day (Emil still had his Emergency Room ID bracelet on), manage not to vomit during the ceremony, and then, finally, and most importantly, make a speech at the reception.

The Best Man’s Speech is supposed to accomplish a few minor but cherished conventions: it’s supposed to compliment the groom, his choice of bride, and form a verbal bridge between the carefree days of the groom’s prior friendships and the more complex but equally rewarding years of mature friendship to come. In other words, the Best Man’s job is to reassure the groom’s buddies that they will indeed see him from time to time despite the nag he’s chaining himself to, and to reassure the groom that his buddies will always be there to say mean things about his wife in private if he needs them to.

I worked very hard on my speech in the ambulance, riding with Emil to the ER after the bachelor party had taken a dramatic turn. The transcript which follows is taken from the wedding video, and more accurately reflects what was actually said than the scrawled speech written on cocktail napkins in the ambulance. I think I accomplished the goals of the Best Man’s Speech admirably:

“Ladies and Gentlemen, friends and family, I’ve known Emil for sixteen years. When we met back in prison we didn’t like each other very much; he always wanted to pitch and I never let him. Being cellmates gave us time to get to know each other and by the time our parole hearing came up I was proud to stand next to him, hold his hand, and testify that we had each found Jesus and would dedicate our lives to upholding the laws of the land if we were released.

“In short, I’ve known Emil long and well. And in many ways, most of which I don’t wish to discuss here.
Over the years Emil and I have gone through a great many things and we’ve always supported each other: when my dog Skippy died, Emil was there to help me through it, tenderly digging a grave for poor Skippy and getting me drunk later that night before we traced the plate number of the car that hit Skippy and set it on fire, in revenge.

“When I became addicted to Internet Porn a few years ago, alienating my friends and family, losing my job, ending up at one point getting busted for public lewdness in The @ Café in New York City, Emil was the one who came to my apartment one July evening, knocked me cold and kidnapped me. Emil kept me in a cold, dark basement for six months, deprogramming me. To this day whenever I see a computer keyboard I shake and vomit helplessly. While this has caused me difficulty and unpopularity at work, it saved me: if not for Emil and the vicious torture he put me through in that basement, I would be in some asylum somewhere, trying to log onto from a pay phone.

“Emil has always been there for me, and I am pleased to be here for him today, the day he marries Petra.

“In the four and a half days I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Petra, I’ve realized that Emil’s life was but an empty and meaningless melange of sex, drugs, and progressive jazz music. In less than a week, she has become not only a dear friend of mine, but a dear friend of all the members of The Inner Swine Inner Circle, The Inner Swine being the magazine I publish which I really think you all ought to read and purchase subscriptions, because you see that large black guy in the back standing with several dozen men in fatigues? That’s Ken [REDACTED] and he’s going to be waiting for you after the reception, and all I can say is that he’s much nicer to people who have subscriptions than to anyone else, and I can also say that I have less and less influence over him every day.

“What? All right, all right, Emil, Jesus, calm the fuck down, okay?

“Anyway, as I was saying, Petra has not only redeemed Emil from his obvious descent into damnation and syphilitic degeneration, but she has entered and improved the lives of all of us. She’s a rare and delicate flower of womanhood, she’s a compassionate and beautiful creature who’s….energy and….emotion….and….and….ladies and gentlemen, I love her. Petra, I love you.

“I cannot stand here and pretend that everything is okay, while I am dying inside! Petra, I’ve been dying inside all these past few days! Ever since Tuesday night I’ve been tortured by my love for you, while you marry this troll, this monster, this syphilitic mistake masquerading as a man! Oh, the stories I could tell you! Emil, the whoremonger! Emil the petty thief! The man he killed in Mexico! The drugs he dealt to little kids while on work release! The Kiddie Porn! Oh, Petra, you’re making a mistake!

“Ladies and gentlemen, keep that madman away from me! Excuse me….pardon me….Ken! Help! Ladies and gentlemen, I beseech you! Petra! Petra!”

(At this point the audio becomes garbled as many voices intrude and the action on-screen gets a little hectic. Occasionally you can here me shouting “Not the face!” but I don’t think technically that’s part of the speech. At this point I felt the explosive power of love, and it certainly beat the shit out of me)

I often wonder what became of Emil and Petra. I suspect he still communicates with other members of TISIC, but none of the bastards will admit it, and the court order prevents me from finding out for myself. If anyone has heard of Emil and Petra’s whereabouts, please contact me. There’s money in it for you.

FIXER

By | July 7, 2014 | 5 Comments
Fixer by Jeff Somers

BUY ME.

The prequel novella to We Are Not Good People, Fixer, is officially out today! You can download it onto your kindle at the cost of zero dollars. And here’s why you should:

  • I can momentarily pretend I am hugely successful when Fixer is ranked #1 despite earning me zero dollars.
  • If you don’t, this blog will quickly descend into weepy paeans to the Good Old Days when people loved me.
  • You will really enjoy it, and it will inspire you to purchase We Are Not Good People when it comes out in October. Or possibly to found a new religion based on my teachings. Either way, all good.
  • It’s free. Exactly how cheap do you have to be to not download a free book? Followup question: Are you not cheap at all and simply like seeing me cry? Because I’ll happily send you fetish videos of me weeping, if you want.
  • It’s just 10,000 words, so you can read it on the bus into work and be approximately 1% smarter upon your arrival. That 1% might be the difference between life and death, depending on the nature of your job.

If all that doesn’t convince you, here are the first few paragraphs to read. That’s right, this is a free preview of a free novella. The gods have gone crazy.

FIXER

It should have worked. It did work, right up until it didn’t.

You got your trained bear on a leash, Vonnegan?”

I looked up and stared at Heller, his shaved head flaking into drifts of off-white skin that settled on the shoulders of his black fur coat. The big oversized sunglasses were studded with rhinestones, some of which had fallen off. He looked like he probably smelled, but I wasn’t going to test the theory. He didn’t appear to be wearing a shirt under the coat, though I was fucking relieved to see pants emerging from under its hem. Two kids, Asian and skinny and smoking cigarettes, stood on either side of him. Heller didn’t go for muscle. Heller went for speed.

Next to me, I heard Mags literally growling. I reached up and put a hand on his shoulder. I was slowly starting to realize that Mags had somehow bonded to me in unholy matrimony, and I was beginning to make long-term life plans that involved him.

I took a deep breath. “Listen—”

Heller held up a hand. “Save the bullshit, Vonnegan. You owe me thirty thousand fucking dollars, and you told me you’d have it tonight.”

I leaned back in my chair and let my hand slip off of Mags’s shoulder. I decided that if the big guy went nuts and killed Heller by accident, I would allow it. Around us, Rue’s Morgue flowed and buzzed, populated by a big group of slummers from uptown who’d somehow found the bar. The extra humidity and noise was straining the environment beyond its capabilities, and everything had become smoky and dense, the air getting thicker as more drinks were poured.

I’d never had much energy for bullshit. When I started a lie, it got heavier and heavier until I couldn’t hold it up anymore. So I just went for brutal honesty.

I don’t have it,” I said, spreading my hands. “I had a line on something, but it . . . didn’t work out.”

I pictured the ustari who brought me to this state, her and her lone Bleeder. She was a bottom dweller, going after her own kind. And that meant I wasn’t even a bottom dweller. I was fucking underground.

Heller smiled. His teeth were little green pebbles in his mouth, and I didn’t like looking at them, but I forced myself to smile back. We were equals, I told myself. I’d had ten years of apprenticeship that had gotten me nowhere, and a lot of the . . . people, the magicians, who hung out in Rue’s were way ahead of me, but I was learning fast. Heller acted like he was some sort of fucking Lord of the Shitheads, and I told myself that was an illegitimate position: No one had elected him.

I don’t give a fuck what worked out or didn’t work out: You owe me fucking money and you don’t have it.” He nodded, once, as if coming to a sudden decision. “Go touch your fucking gasam for it, right? Enough screwin’ around.”

Thinking of Hiram and his hot, musty apartment and his tendency to believe that verbal abuse was a fine motivator, I shook my head. Gasam had been one of the first Words I’d learned: teacher, Master. The implied bondage in the word hadn’t sat well with me. That should have been a sign it was all going to hell sooner rather than later.

I shot my cuffs and thought. Anything to not have to crawl back to that fat little thief and beg him for help. Anything. In service to the grift I’d even tried to improve my look by investing in a fifteen-dollar suit from St. Mary’s thrift store; it fit like it had been made for show and possibly out of cardboard. But thirty thousand dollars, I’d recently discovered, was a lot more money than I’d thought. It was turning into an impossible amount of money.

Keeping my smile in place, I shook my head and pursed my lips. “Isn’t come to that yet, Heller,” I said. “Give me a couple more days.”

Heller’s smile widened and he gestured, vaguely, in the air, with one hand. Rings glinted on its wiry fingers. I had a second of anxiety, then the weird sense of blood in the air. Then I was being pushed down into my chair by an invisible force, so hard I couldn’t breathe.

I could Charm ya out of it,” Heller said, stepping over to take hold of an empty chair and dropping it next to me. I could move my eyes but nothing else. Someone behind me, casting spells.

My heart was pounding. Next to me, I could hear Mags, caught the same as me, straining against the spell, trying to launch himself from the chair. I hated Heller, suddenly. He’d seemed vaguely ridiculous before, running his games, dressing like a porn producer from the 1970s. But now I owed him thirty thousand dollars, and I hated him. And I’d come so close to getting out from under him, too.

It should have worked. It did work. Until it didn’t.

 

The Very Merry Pranksters

By | June 27, 2014 | 0 Comments

I

Henry stared at the coffin, and thought about killing his wife.

The room, perfumed and stuffy, was filled with the blurry sound of chat, a hundred polite conversations going on simultaneously. Ted the Infinitely Wealthy had passed away suddenly, shockingly, and his death seemed unreal to everyone in the room, one of Ted’s famous pranks, and everyone half-expected Ted to pop out of the coffin with a bottle of champagne and demand that everyone dance. The closed coffing added some weight to this delerium, as everyone secretly wondered if it was maybe filled with sand, or someone elses body entirely. It was a meme that jumped from person to person without being spoken, mysteriously, and the whole room was making idle chatter while thinking, ashamed of even the thought, that maybe Ted the Infinitely Wealthy had not died of a sudden aneurysm after all, that maybe he was hiding somewhere, watching them all on closed-circuit TV, laughing.

Ted had done similar things in the past. Henry put his wife out of his mind for a moment, recalling some of the pranks. He’d never found them very funny, personally; pranks always seemed mean-spirited to him, as if it wasn’t bad enough that Ted the Infinitely Wealthy was so infinitely wealthy, he had to treat everyone around him like they were players in his personal troupe, entertaining him with their antics. To Henry’s thinking, the frequency and complexity of Ted’s pranks had increased in direct proportion to how ruined by money he’d become. Ted had always been rich, born rich, but as a kid his terrible home life—a nasty divorce, a father who’d kept his mother and Ted in near-poverty as they sued and counter-sued each other over support—had made him a moody, melancholy, but grounded individual. When he’d finally come into infinite wealth on his eightteenth birthday, it hadn’t seemed real for some years, and he lived simply, Henry remembered, for some time after that. Slowly, though, the money had crept into his life. The pranks had begun as good clean fun, an acknowledgment that Ted was rich and could do amazing things if he wanted. As time went on, though, Henry had detected a streak of meanness in the pranks, and in Ted.

Faking his own death, Henry thought suddenly, actually wasn’t out of the realm of possibility.

He went back to staring at the coffin and thinking about killing his wife.

The coffin sat on a raised dais, surrounded by flowers. A large picture of Ted the Infinitely Wealthy was displayed on a stand, a smiling, tanned young man with thinning hair and a growing paunch, dressed casually. Henry couldn’t tell where the picture had been taken, but it looked recent, and gave the impression that Ted had been caught by surprise, turning suddenly and smiling reflexively when he saw the camera. The effect of pleasant surprise was so perfect, Henry thought it gave credence to the idea that the whole death and funeral business was faked, that the photo had been taken a week ago in preparation.

Henry glanced down at his hands, which he’d cupped soberly so he wouldn’t have to worry about them.

Behind him, he could hear the soft whispering of his wife and Gina Gerrano, usually referred to as The Tart—another in a long series of silly nicknames acquired during college and never abandoned, Henry thought, despite their advancing middle-age and the sheer ridiculous weight of them. He could still refer to The Tart in the company of old college cronies and be instantly understood, just as he could refer to TIW and everyone knew he was referring to Teddy. The origins of these names were sometimes famous stories, recounted endlessly, and were sometimes lost to memory. Henry himself was known as The Hick. He’d never liked the nickname, though he’d pretended to for many years. He’d launched a campaign to discourage its use, but no one took him seriously about it.

His wife, who’d gone to a different college and didn’t like many of his friends, thought the whole nickname thing was silly and didn’t hesitate to tell him so. Her name was Miranda. All of Henry’s friends called her The Shrew when she wasn’t in the room. Henry had taken to thinking of her as The Shrew, and when he spoke about her to his friends he called her by that nickname.

(more…)

Watch the World Die

By | June 9, 2014 | 2 Comments

This story was published by From the Asylum many, many moons ago – in fact, the webzine no longer exists. I got paid $25, which I immediately spent on whiskey and regret.

Watch the World Die

HE sat on the hood of his car with an unlit cigarette in his mouth, a waxy, unkempt youth in Jeans and flannel, grinning. It was cold and crisp but not windy, a photograph to walk around in. Closer to the wreckage, it was warmer.

The highway had become still as well, a stretch of frozen motion. Behind him cars lined up in quiet rows, in front they were smoldering in quiet, jangled piles. Amongst them, people picked their way carefully, small and tender, some with dazed and jellied expressions, some with cool, detached demeanors. He watched them calmly, the familiar fines of the old Malibu slowly rusting beneath him.

Someone approached from behind and paused to stand next to him, but he didn’t turn to look at the newcomer, a bland young man in loose, easy clothes. His eyes, however, turned slightly, and then flicked back again.

“Did you see it happen?” the young man asked.

“Yep,” he replied.

There was a quick, elastic silence.

“Got a light?”

He smiled around his unlit cigarette and shook his head. After a moment, the bland young man shuffled away.

Abruptly, the end of his cigarette flared and caught fire, a jolly red coal glittering in the night. He took a deep drag and let a great gust of white smoke out into the air. He watched a tall State Trooper approach, his face nothing but vacant disinterest.

The trooper was tall and lean, dark and grim. Be held an open pad in one hand and a pen in the other.

“I’ll need to take a statement.”

The man sitting on the car nodded. “The red car, the Mazda, exploded,” he said with blank enunciation. “Just burst into flames. I’ve seen it before.”

“You have?” the cop asked.

“Many times.” A smile filled his face.

The cop nodded and pretended to write this down on his pad. “Could I have your name, sir?”

“The Mazda,” the man continued, “was driving like an asshole, weaving around, high-beaming everyone. It was really irritating. The asshole refused to see that there was nowhere to go, no one had anywhere to go.”

The cop pursed his lips. “Your name, sir?”

The man turned his bloodshot eyes up to the cop. “Sorry. Daniel. Daniel Eggert.”

Writing this down dutifully, the trooper didn’t glance up. “Did you see what caused the accident, Mr. Eggert?”

Eggert smiled around his cigarette. “I just told you: it burst into flames. The Mazda. The red one.”

This time the cop did look up. “Just like that?”

Eggert nodded cheerfully. “Just like that.” He shrugged. “That’s the way it always happens; once the gas tank catches, it’s too late.”

“I’ll bet.” The trooper had a bad feeling about this guy, but couldn’t put a finger on it. His eyes slid down. “This your car?”

Eggert glanced over the cop’s shoulder. “1973 and it runs like new,” he agreed.

The trooper glanced at his pad as he wrote the tag down. “Thanks for your help, Mr. Eggert.”

Eggert nodded, once. “Not a bit of it,” he said.

####

Driving home, Daniel Eggert studied himself in the rear-view with an unflinching gaze. The road was empty and dark and he drove by instinct, thumbs nudging the wheel carefully. His pale face shone in the glass, bright and smooth and framed by dark hair that blended into the dark, leaving him a moon in a constantly shifting night.

After a moment, he reached over and shut off the headlights. Dark snapped in, but his face still shone.

(more…)

Plotting and Chum

By | June 6, 2014 | 0 Comments
BUY ME

BUY ME

So, as mentioned previously,  in August I’ll be presenting a seminar on plotting a novel, much to the horror of many, many teachers, scoutmasters, and other authority figures I’ve known throughout my long-departed youth. To say that many people expressed doubt about my abilities to succeed in life would be an understatement. That happens when you discover alcohol at the age of thirteen and immediately take up residence on street corners for lengthy periods of time.

Still, I showed them! I am on the agenda of a major writing conference. Of course, this makes me sweat: As we all know, I take a certain, shall we say, casual approach to life in general. How do you teach something when your process involves getting blackout drunk and then being vaguely surprised at what you find in the morning?

ENTER CHUM

Well, I’ve been looking back on my mighty works and considering how I actually plotted them out. Chum was written (in its original form) in 2003, taken on by my might agent in 2004, re-written a few times along the way, and sold to Tyrus Books in 2013. With a story like that, it can’t be surprising to hear that the plot process on this book was complicated, mainly because I never really considered plot at all.

Chum is, I think, an unusual book: It has a transforming event buried in there, the Big Moment that everything revolves around, but it doesn’t really follow any recognizable model for plot at all. There’s really no rising action, no denouement. It’s told from various points of view and various moments in time, and the points of view vary wildly in states of inebriation and information.

So how did I plot this? I didn’t.

I started off, as usual, with a vision: The opening scene, which is fairly innocuous and humorous, with a slight spice of ominous — and then I saw what the Big Event was. From there, I simply slipped into the heads of my characters and explored what they might have seen, inferred, or eavesdropped, and what would happen to their relationships as a result.

It’s actually an approach to writing that I attempted once before, when I was much younger, in a novella titled “Shadow Born” (let’s not mock me and my titles; I will stipulate that my love for faux-poetic titles is awful and horrible and I am trying to be better about it, promise). The older novella was the story of a rape at a college party and explored how people hear about it, suspect it’s happened, and react to certain knowledge of it. It wasn’t entirely successful, and today feels like Juvenilia, but it felt like there was power in that engine.

Results May Not Be Verifiable

I don’t employ this kind of narrative trick often, because it’s more likely to collapse into a heap of chaos than yield a tight, interesting novel. Chum works because the characters came to life – at least to me, although I now have a few other people, some of whom paid me money, who seem to agree. If the characters had seemed flat or boring, we would have been in a lot of trouble. As a result, this isn’t really an approach I can recommend to newcomers to the novel game – although hey, you never know.

Other novels I’ve plotted differently, including a lot of “Pantsing” and a bit of “Plotting,” though the latter is usually only when I’m forced to. Both have worked for me, but I have to say: Plotting Chum was probably the most fun I’ve ever had plotting a novel out.

These days my plot technique involves alcohol and guesswork. And cats. Cat butts on my keyboard seem to be the secret sauce for my recent novels, actually.

Jersey City Writers

By | April 3, 2014 | 2 Comments

SO, last night I was invited to speak at the first-ever Genre Night for Jersey City Writers. Now, I was born and raised in Jersey City and I currently live a 5 minute walk away from that city, but when I was a kid it didn’t have writer’s groups. It had gangs, yes, and Boy Scouts. But no writer’s groups. So this was exciting stuff.

The event was held at the Freshly Baked Gallery on Monmouth Street in JC – it’s a delightful little space in the middle of a sleepy block in a newly revitalized area of the city. If you click through you’ll see a lot of really neat pieces – The Duchess and I were really intrigued by a couple of them.

Naturally, I was awkward. We walked in and after greeting Meg Merriet, who organized everything, The Duchess and I sat up front trying to look casual while an alarmingly large crowd filled the space. I turned to the Duchess.

“Think there’s a window in the back I can fit through? I’m terrified. I think I just wet myself.”

She slapped me violently and warned me not to embarrass her in public.

(more…)

Glad and Big

By | March 27, 2014 | 0 Comments
The cover glows in the dark!

The cover glows in the dark!

“Glad & Big” was the first story I ever sold for real, actual money. Written in 1993, it was published by Aberrations Magazine in issue #34 in 1995. I was paid 1/4 cent a word, or $7.50. I never cashed the check and still have it. In 2014 dollars that’s $12.19. By the time I die I hope it hits at least $20 so I can start saying “I got paid $20 in today’s dollars!”

This is very clearly, to me, an early story, right down to the narrating protagonist who happens to be a bitter writer, because all lazy writers make their characters writers as well, because we don’t know anything about anything else.

——————————–

Glad and Big

Life at Lee’s on second street had a pattern, one I liked well enough. It sucked at my heels with insistent attraction, pulling me back despite the heat and the same old people and the wooden seat worn smooth from years of my weight.

We usually played cards at the small square table in the big bay window, eating Lee’s filling specialties and drinking, smoking cigarettes, and ignoring everyone else. Sometimes I tried to stay away. It never worked. I always needed a drink and the only place to get one was Lee’s and my seat was always open.

That night it was raining and I felt pretty good. The conversation wasn’t too bad and it was warm inside, I was half-tanked all night and I had three packs of cigarettes to get through. Even in a crummy bar and grill like Lee’s, being inside with friends on a rainy night is a special kind of thing. Even being inside with people who drove you crazy like I was was still not bad.

###

It was an old, run-down place owned by a hundred different people so far, with a truckload of future owners down the line waiting to be suckered. You walked in, the old hardwood floor creaking beneath your feet, and the bar stretched off to your left, far too long, too far into the shadows, built in more optimistic times when booze was cheaper. Tables and the rickety wooden seats they required filled the rest of the floor, never crowded but always occupied.

The walls were three generations of photographs, mostly black and white. They stretched back into the past too far to be remembered; now they were meaningless portraits of people we’d never met, moments in time we couldn’t interpret. They wrapped around the back wall and behind the bar, big and small, some dated and some not. We each had our favorites.

Nelson, the crotchety old bastard, had a soft spot for Helen. She was a brooding, sad-eyed young girl in a bullet bra and a tight, tight turtleneck, sipping coffee, framed by the bay window. She had a Sixties hair-do and in the corner she had written “to Tony – always – Helen.” The steam rising from her coffee, the way she glanced away from the camera. It entranced the old fuck.

Terry liked the one with the big crowd. It was one of the oldest ones, and it showed old Lee’s filled with smiling, jostling, shoving people. There was pandemonium in that picture, static chaos. We all theorized that it had been taken just before a riot, just before the taps ran dry and drove the proles crazy. Terry didn’t have too much chaos in his life, but he desired it. The picture made him feel like it was all at his fingertips.

Me, I like the picture that had to have been the first one there, right behind the bar, framed. It was a dour, lean man wearing a bowler cap and a white apron, leaning behind the bar and staring at the camera fiercely. A small plaque on the frame declared him “Mr. Lee.” The first owner, I guessed. His name survived but not his memory – if asked I liked to say I thought he’d died in the great tapped keg riots of Terry’s picture. We were the only ones who got it, but then we were the only ones who mattered.

(more…)

Free eBooks

By | August 24, 2013 | 0 Comments

SO, in my ongoing attempts to draw your attention to my novel Chum, out from Tyrus books on 9/18, I’ve put together two free eBooks over one Smashwords that are either directly or tangentially connected to Chum:

Up the Crazy by Jeff Somers - a Lifers/Chum crossover.

Up the Crazy by Jeff Somers – a Lifers/Chum crossover.

Up the Crazy is a crossover short story. Crossover of what? Well, Chum and my first published novel Lifers share a universe and, briefly, some characters. They also share some scenes and characters from other novels I wrote, but since those remain unpublished they remain Novels Whose Titles Shall Not be Mentioned As They Are Meaningless to Everyone Not Named Jeff Somers.

So, anyways, I thought it would be fun to explore one point where the stories of Chum and Lifers intersect a bit a more fully, and wrote a “deleted chapter” from Lifers. It’s not necessary to have read either book to enjoy the story. Here’s a few lines from it:

“Trim, naturally, had a complete speech about Florence, the kind of speech Trim gave from time to time that convinced you he had dossiers on all of us with pre-canned speeches prepared for all occasions. The speeches were also curiously filled with strange stresses and obscure words and this also led me to believe they were basically toneless, rhythmless, rhymeless poems, the kind that Trim specialized in.

Florence, Trim told me, was too much woman for most men. She was tall. She was busty. She was, he insisted, a giantess – everything in proportion, but simply too much of it. It was overwhelming for most men, he said. Add to that red hair and a fuck yeah Florence! kind of attitude which gave her incredible confidence despite being a girl Trim was certain had been mercilessly mocked in her school days for being three or four times normal size, and you had a girl who intimidated all the men in her life and was therefore inexplicably single.”

American Wedding Confidential by Jeff Somers

American Wedding Confidential by Jeff Somers

American Wedding Confidential is a collection of essays from my zine The Inner Swine about the weddings I attended. I’ve been to a lot of weddings, at first as a sort of gigolo emergency wedding date for my single girl friends, and later as escort to The Duchess as everyone we knew in the universe got married one after the other. Weddings are, generally speaking, the most horrible way you can spend an evening, so I started writing darkly humorous essays about my experiences. Fifteen of them are collected here.

Why? Well, a lot of the action in Chum takes place at a disastrous wedding, so there’s your tangential connection. That’s about it, really, although you can well imagine that much of my inspiration for the wedding scenes in Chum came directly from my terrible experiences at the weddings described in American Wedding Confidential.

Here’s a sample:

 “I may have forgotten to explore an equally important facet of the swinging gigolos wedding experience: the dark side.

Oh, it’s there. I didn’t think so myself until a few years ago. Behind the free booze, between the drunkenly wanton bridesmaids, hidden by the blinding light of the camera capturing the Loco-Motion forever, eternally, winks the grinning leer of The Darkness, waiting for some sucker in a bad suit like me to innocently wander in. I started my long, slow walk into the darkness when Insane Co-worker #23 invited me to her friend’s wedding one day, about five minutes after she’d told me she liked me a whole lot and I’d blithely given her the memorized and oft-used (believe it or not) “we’re better off being friends but I will always be there for you” speech. Usually when I give that speech I mean it, and I meant it at that moment; even though I am running the other way as fast as I can whenever someone wants to date me, I usually do want to be just friends.

I hadn’t yet realized that Insane Co-worker #23 was, well, insane.”

Chum by Jeff Somers

Chum by Jeff Somers

Huzzah! Both are absolutely free and available in whatever format you prefer — go for it! Both are also rather poorly formatted and rife with errors, but then you wouldn’t expect anything less from me, would you? Now, go buy Chum before I burst into tears.

CHUM’s Cover

By | July 1, 2013 | 3 Comments
Designed by Frank Rivera

Chum by Jeff Somers

Here’s the Fab cover for my next novel, Chum, due out from Tyrus books on 9/18/13. Chum is a darkly comic novel about marriage, mayhem, and murder, told from multiple points of view and revisiting events from different POVs throughout the book.

When I first saw the cover I wasn’t sure what I thought, frankly – it seemed very stark and the roughness of the art on the bottles threw me. But then I got it, and realize how great this cover is.

It’s stark so it stand out as a thumbnail when people are scrolling on web sites or their phones.

It’s rough because the story is rough. The characters have jagged edges. The language is, er, salty (would you expect anything else from me?). There are literally – literally – no good people in the whole story. One or two people think they’re good, but they … aren’t.

And the off-center “U” in CHUM? Genius. It’s drunken and unpredictable.

So, my gratitude and respect to Frank Rivera who created this cover, and to Tyrus Books, for packaging my work so well. We’re gonna be good friends, I think.

 

And, without further comment:

Chum by Jeff Somers

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