Sunday, March 19, 2017

Grace Among the Dead, Chapter 2: “Retreat to Hidden Farm” as Read by the Croaky-Voiced Author

After so long looking for the best height and angle
on my webcam, it occurred to me to use the mic
and stand I employ for simple audio.
I’ve been sitting on the audio for this since the beginning of February. That’s how much I hate dealing with MovieMaker software, even if I am working with a template I established with the first chapter. Frankly, I think I’m better off just reading into the webcam. Anyway....

For those new to THE SAGA OF THE DEAD SILENCER, this second chapter of my second book finds Derek Grace and his stowaway from town, Kim, arriving at Grace’s hideout on the far edge of the Colorado Springs metro area. Through flashback, we learn the respective fates of Grace’s wife and children as the living dead have established themselves as apex predators atop the food chain. 

“Darkness on the Edge of Town” was irresistible to me as a subtitle, because that’s exactly where Derek Grace is in this chapter: in darkness, on the edge of town. He finds no new purpose in life with the needy stowaway. He knows he has to move on. But where? Moreover, for what? Grace’s world has ended. Is a new life possible, even desirable, in this New Weird Order?

Grace Among the Dead is a novel “of Love and Redemption, the Living Dead and a Monster Truck” and we’re going to get a lot darker in the chapters to come before we completely lose the prefix on Derek Grace's anti-hero status. Meanwhile, if you haven’t heard the first chapter, you can click here for that. If you want to read the series from the beginning, the magic and wonder of Bleeding Kansas is available to you here.

Copyright © 2014, 2017 by L. Roy Aiken. All rights reserved.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Pop-up? I’m Poppin’ Outta Here

Old man yells at (social media) cloud, Part 1. I like to yell.

It’s become reflexive with me now. It doesn’t matter how interested I was in the subject, if I’m just starting to read the post and a pop-up box obscures my view of the text, I swing the cursor to the upper right hand of the page and “X” out.

If that pop-up occurs during the middle, I close the tab. If it does so at the end, I’ll read no more on the site. Honestly, how can anyone believe that interrupting my reading is going to make me want to do anything they want me to do, let alone give them my e-mail address and sign up for their stupid newsletter?

For all I know people spend their entire mornings scrolling through newsletters in their emails. And here I am, thinking I’m with the times for hardly checking on it. (We all text and private/direct message now, right? Or has that changed?)

Granted, I’d be rich already if I understood the Internet better than I do, but I’m sure this whole “you MUST collect ALL of the e-mail addresses! you MUST send newsletters!” is of a piece of that stupid “you MUST have a Facebook page to promote your book.” Everyone feels compelled to do it thanks to Internet hucksters pretending to be wise online marketing gurus—worse, everyone knows this annoying make-work nonsense doesn’t work. Yet they feel compelled to do it anyway.

Not me. I don’t want your flippin’ e-mail. I don’t even write to people I care about. I’m a mean old thing. I announce new blog posts on Twitter, along with my more evergreen posts, so follow me there if you’re interested. 

Monday, March 06, 2017

Winter in Spudville

...will be a lot more bearable once we get the heat leaks in this antique old house plugged. We’ll always have pretty pictures, though.

It’s getting just warm enough in Monte Vista, Colorado, that we can cut the wood pellet stove off in the middle of the day to conserve fuel. “Warm enough” means “50s Fahrenheit,” which feels quite toasty compared to the low double-digit/single digit temps we’d get at night in December and January. 

Railcars at the ends of their lines as Acequia Avenue angles in to meet US 285.

We’ll still get an occasional dip into the teens at night, as we will tonight. Alas, if there is one aspect of the Deep South I grew up in that I would like to see in Colorado, but never will, is a proper spring with blooming dogwoods and azaleas. I miss the bright colors against the deep green of foliage, the perfume of wisteria. Spring in Colorado simply means house-shaking, fence-breaking windstorms.

It’s still a fair exchange for White Christmases and mild, sweet summers. I’ll simply have to get rich so I can fly back to Dixie during spring in time to see the sticky yellow pollen gum up everything. The jungle heat will send me back to my adoptive home soon enough.

Meanwhile, it’s gratifying enough seeing the valley fields emerge from their snow cover.

This photo and all following were taken on 5 Mile North Road, 22 February 2017, by Cynthia J. Aiken on her phone as we drove due east towards the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve.

By 22 February most of the snow was gone from the fields around US 160, so it was surprising to see this just five miles north of all that. The temperatures can be quite regionally perverse here in the San Luis Valley.

If this ain’t country....

One of my wife’s favorites from this batch.

...and we’re all clear here, save for a scrum of ice on the edge.

Friday, March 03, 2017

Ash Wednesday Confessional

Featuring photos of the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve and its environs between Moffat, CO, and my current home in Monte Vista, the better to break up the monotony.

It was a very pretty, if chilly day. Admission to the park was free on Presidents’ Day (normally $15 a carload), so we drove out to see what the big deal was.

There has been so much not to write about, I haven’t written anything. At least not for this blog. Make sense?

Sure, I could be babbling about current events that will mean absolutely nothing two weeks from now when the media rolls out the next Great and Terrifying Manufactured Crisis to keep us tuned in. It hardly seems worth it, though. As much as I enjoy the reading comments sections on news blogs, it occurs to me how exhausting it must be curating all that passion while working troll patrol.
Be vewwy quiet. We’re hunting trolls along the path south of the Visitors Center towards the main attraction. I’d love to take credit for these magnificent photos, but all photos featured in this post were taken by Cynthia J. Aiken on her phone.

You cannot imagine how grateful I am that I get so few comments on this blog. I’m not all that anxious for conversation; indeed, I’m anxious to avoid it. Unlike a lot of entities on the Internet, I don’t find myself all that fascinating. I live in a state of low-grade terror that anyone talking with me will learn the truth, namely, that I’m the dullest old shut-in they’ve ever met outside of an assisted living facility. Seriously, how interesting can a 50-something old guy who spends most of the day in front of his computer be?
Looking left towards distant Alamosa and the even more distant San Juan Mountains. Nope, no trolls here.

I’m not at all excited by film or television. I am the one person you know who has not watched a minute of the Groundbreaking and Edgy New Shows for Netflix, Amazon, whatever. I’m talking Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, House of Cards, all that stuff. I’ve read enough about it elsewhere to feel I’ve seen all there is to (not) see.

As an author of zombie novels, it seems incumbent upon me to watch The Walking Dead, but I haven’t been able to move myself to do so since the episode after Tyreese died, the one that concluded with them meeting Jesus. No, I don’t “hate” the series. Crazy as it sounds, I’ve got enough depressing post-apocalyptic stuff going on in my own third book right now, and I’d rather not wallow in the nihilism any more than I have to. 
Looking to the right. No trolls—and no flesh-eating walking corpses, either, thank God.

You know how some people like to go on with, “Every day I wake up and I’m grateful _______ is/is not my President?” Me, I wake up everyday and I’m grateful the electricity, and therefore the heat is still on. Every day is Thanksgiving when I see grocery stores with their glass fronts intact, stocked and open for business, when I can drive out to resupply without fear of crossing paths with a local warlord and his goons. Trust an old paranoiac who has done a lot of thinking on the matter—whatever flavor of your post-apocalypse, it’s going to be Negans everywhere you turn. 

Keep the lights on and the roads free of bandits. This is where another writer would add, “I don’t ask for much,” but it’s actually asking quite a lot. Civilization is no “small favor” by any stretch.
It’s as pretty as it is vast. But what if this was all that was left?

So I do what I can to keep my spirits up while plotting and executing some of the most violent and gruesome scenes I’ve written since my last book—these scenes must be ultraviolet dark and over the top, as the book I’m writing now concludes the series. I watch others get worked up into a fine froth over whatever minor terror campaign the Ministries of Misinformation are conducting at the moment, and turn away to look into the clear blue sky, grateful that the days are getting longer and that the trees will bud soon.
Actual, unretouched photo of the living dead prowling the post-apocalyptic wastes in search of live, uncorrupted flesh to rend and consume. Wish you were here?


The more I read about what’s (supposedly, allegedly) going on in the world, the happier I am that my wife and I settled out in the country, where the potatoes and beer barley are as fresh as it gets. Of course, even if I was living in the city, I’d be more preoccupied with minding my own business than what the so-called news tells me to be upset about. Of all the crazy things going on in the world, the one that confounds me is how the neighborhood where I used to live in Colorado Springs is still maintaining its overpriced value even as reports of car break-ins and other crimes are going up, and the streets and sidewalks have been neglected for so long they look, well, post-apocalyptic.

Honestly, I hadn’t wanted to move here, or anywhere away from an Interstate corridor. I like the amenities a good metro area has to offer. Thing is, most metro areas haven’t been good for a long time. So here I am in the high valley, and thank God it’s starting to grow on me. As it is, I have a sneaking suspicion what happened to us in Colorado Springs may yet happen over the next ten years in the San Luis Valley. There’s plenty of space to fill, and when everywhere else fills up, this is as fine a place as any to be.
Coming eventually: big box stores, apartment towers, strip malls with cash-for-gold and payday loans offices. Maybe not in the next ten years, but eventually.

Meanwhile, there’s nothing to do but follow Voltaire’s advice following the action of his dark comic novel, Candide. Let the rabble hoot and shout over whatever current Punch ‘n’ Judy show is playing, and mind my own garden. “Avoid foreign entanglements,” George Washington added most helpfully. It’s working for me.
Be like this tree. No one’s around to throw shade, and it’s got a hell of a view, besides.

The title of this post is “Ash Wednesday Confessional.” It started as “Sunday Morning Confessional,” but I got sidetracked, and didn’t resume until Wednesday. Now it’s Friday. What can I say, but keep watching this space. Life hasn’t killed me yet.
The road goes ever on and on.