Sunday, February 27, 2011

Scarry Night challenge

There are A LOT of stories floating around today courtesy of Patti Abbott's latest challenge. Below is my contribution. At 800 words each you can spare the time to read through all of them.

by Eric Beetner
As she spoke I knew I should have moved closer and held her but I couldn’t bring myself to. In bed, naked, still warm from making love and still freaked out by what I felt on her back, I listened.
The question must have come in my silence because she started spilling when I hadn’t asked a thing. The story she unfolded was horrific. Thirteen years old, a neighbor, kidnapped for four days, rapes over and over and the knife he took to her back to mark each time he had her. Not exactly pillow talk.
“I really don’t mind the scars,” she said.
Well, I did.
Maybe if she’d told me first. Anyway, I felt like a real shit laying there in the dark listening to her start to cry and not putting an arm around her to comfort or tell her it would be okay. What the hell was I supposed to do? What she went through needs a team of psychologists, not a third date that happened to end up in the sack.
The story kept going. She wasn’t the same girl, but her experience was so much like one on the news from when I was a teenager. It horrified me then and I didn’t have to feel the raised lines of the knife scars across her back.
She made me turn the lights off. I like to have at least a little light, usually, and this girl was hot. Tight little body, what I imagined were great breasts. You know how it is for guys, it’s all about the visual. But, I gave in just to make it happen. We could always turn the lights on later. 
My hands traced down her neck and pushed the straps of her bra off and I was not disappointed. All was well until I reached around and slid my hand down her back. I must have jerked my hand away like I had stuck it on a hot plate because she gripped me tighter as if to make sure I couldn’t run away. That’s when she went down on me, a more surefire way to keep a guy from running out on you.
I stuck with it and we made love, but my mind was on those scars. I tried not to be obvious as I snuck my fingertips over them like I was trying to sneak-read some braille. 
She started crying deep, heaving sobs. I wondered if it was because I wasn’t touching her or if she did this every night as a way of coping with her nightmare. Surely I couldn’t have been the first guy she slept with since then. She knew her stuff all too well. Damn, I wondered if anyone had the guts to go back for seconds.
She told me about the cell he made for her out of an old laundry room. It had a kids crib mattress in it and a single lightbulb and a dog bowl of water. A sudden shiver ran over me and I pulled the blankets up higher, but what I really wanted was to get dressed and get out of there. I figured that would be even more insulting than lying still and letting her leak tears all over my clean sheets. I could hear her nose running in each sniff and sob. Oh well, I should change them anyway after what we did.
I have some scars. But, like, fell off my bike scars. Ran into the goal post during a soccer game scars. These were . . . I don’t know what they were. 3-D, that’s for sure.
Funny thing was, the more I thought about them – I’d tuned out what she was saying by then – I had to touch them again.
She paused in her story somewhere around the hospital stay after she was rescued by the police. She tried to catch her breath and not hyperventilate. I reached out and touched her back. She jerked once like my hands were made of ice.
I let my hand hover close to her the way I would approach a wild animal. I let it settle again and brought my flat palm down between her shoulder blades, feeling the indent of each rib and bulge of each scar as I moved down to just above her (very nice) ass.
Her crying slowed. I turned my palm and let the back of my hand glide over her flesh before pivoting and moving back down again, trying to count the raised bubbles of skin.
I slid closer to her, let my naked chest cover her back, feeling each scar’s length on my skin.
“I really don’t mind the scars either,” I said.
I reached a hand over to the nightstand and clicked on the light. They were glorious. I stared, so focused on the scars I didn’t realize she had pushed her hips back into me. We made love again. I told her to start the story over from the top. 
Louder this time.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

One step forward . . .

I don't like to use the blog to complain. I'd like to think that's not a reason why I don't update as much as I should. But if this is going to be about my writerly life and possibly share any wisdom at all I need to include the bad news with the good.

Not like I have really bad news, just the daily aggravations of being a self-promoted author.
I had to cancel an appearance today. It would have been the first appearance for Borrowed Trouble. It was to be in Sedona, AZ. which is a beautiful place. Last time I was there was for the Sedona Film Festival with my movie so my associations with the town are very positive. That was the screening where the woman who was supposed to do the Q&A afterward couldn't do it because she was crying too much after the film. Apparently I struck some sort of nerve, which is the point of art, isn't it?
We had to cancel the workshop at The Well Red Coyote due to illness of my co-presenter, Deborah J Ledford and it is in no way her fault. She is, to quote her "at death's door" with the flu so better to postpone than infect a whole room of book lovers. I love Deb and she has been incredibly kind to me so I wish her good health and a speedy recovery.

Trouble is, this is the fourth signing appearance I had been counting on. First off, I know it is my fault to count on anything in this business, or hell, this world. But four? Come on. Throw me a bone here.
All I want is to get out and share the book and, yes, sell a few along the way. I've said many times before that I don't expect to make money at this for a while so the pleasure in having a new book out is actually meeting a select few who might read it and getting out to event that make me feel like a writer. Now I've had the piss poor timing to miss the Mystery Bookstore closing by only a few weeks. I have an invite to come to Chicago and when I found out I will be there in a few weeks for work I thought, great! Get the network to pay for my plane ticket and do a signing at the same time. Perfect for my self-financed book promo workings. To make a trip to Chicago just for a book signing would be a colossally bad financial move costing me about $50-$75 per book I might sell. And only that low because I could stay with my sister for free. But the store's schedule was already booked solid for that weekend. Missed it by that much.

I still might do it later. It's about getting in front of people. One brick in the wall at a time. My frustration right now is that I feel like I'm on brick 2 with Borrowed Trouble and the wall I'm building is getting smaller.

Lucky for me I am still stubborn and naive enough to not quit. These frustrations will continue in one form or another. After more than half my life in some sort of DIY attempt to get my work out there - be it music, film, painting or writing - this is just standard operating procedure. So do I get frustrated? Sure. Does it make me want to throw in the towel. Nope. I don't have it the worst out there, not by a long shot.
I go back to a great quote my Steve Martin, of all people, when he was asked about what it takes to succeed in stand up comedy. What he said applies to any art form though: "Be undeniably good." I'm trying my best, Steve.

And as proof that it's not all bad and I can't get too upset about anything, this week has also been great in other ways. I was invited to contribute a story to another anthology. Man, there is nothing like being invited to the dance. So flattering and such a boost of encouragement that came at just the right time. I also had another story accepted by a favorite publication of mine so I'm thrilled about that.
Working on two stories that are due Monday and thinking about getting to the revision of the new novel.
Oh yeah, I finished that. Draft one anyway. I like it, I think. We shall see. My sixth novel. Crazy. Man, I hope people get to read this stuff.

Note to self: write down where my wife can find all this stuff if I die suddenly. After all, there's no better way to stir up interest in your unpublished work, right? This gives me an idea to start a string of pen names and start killing them off one by one. Imagine making a great living off staging your own death time after time. Sounds like a story . . .

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Publicity tsunami

Well the books is out so that means we're out and about ourselves. People have been so sweet to invite us in, let us take over or ask us questions all over the blogosphere.
We've got guest posts up over with Elizabeth White, Patti Abbott, the Do Some Damage crew, Holly West and many more to come. 
It's great to be welcomed by writers I admire, people I like and people I haven't even met. Let's hope they like the book.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A Final Farewell

Enough has been said about the Mystery Bookstore closing so I'll just say that I had a fun time at the closing night party and for all of you who couldn't be there I'll let owners Kirk and Pam and managers Bobby and Linda say the rest.