Take another little piece of my heart now, baby…

All five of my completed novels are now available in eBook and print editions. Earlier this year, I published Kindle versions of The Other Mr. Bax, The Father, and Evelyn dear Fender. And just this last week (the last week of July 2016) I published the print editions of those three novels. Does it sound like I’ve been whipping them out left and right? Bang! Bang! Bang!

No, these books represent twelve solid years of work for me. I started writing The Other Mr. Bax in September of 1999, The Father was started in 2009, and Evelyn dear Fender got its opening paragraph in 2012. None were really finished until 2016. My other two (the John and Tess novels) were squeezed in during breaks (2 ½ years for The Sun, the Moon, and Maybe the Trains, and 1 ½ for All the Butterflies in the World, which was actually the last book I wrote).

So, here it is, twelve years of my life... a piece of my heart.

These three little narcissists were born to be read.

Evelyn dear Fender

(From chapter 17 – Evelyn meets Bobo while trying to enjoy her first sunset in no-man’s land.)

The sun is low off the bow, nearly touching the sea. Behind me, Armoon is up forty-five degrees from the horizon. Opbliss, I believe, will be appearing a little later. I kick back, make myself comfortable, and watch as the sun is absorbed by the sea. As it sinks and its light begins to fade, so does the breeze. Pinks, yellows, violets and greens, dance about on the water like blobs of paint on a dark, undulating canvas.

My god, here I am! Definitely an occasion for a toast.

I go below, fling open a cabinet door, dig through a mountain of canned artichokes, find the bottle of Blue Mountain at the back corner, pour myself a healthy shot, and then return above. Stepping up to the bow, I hold my glass straight out to the west, where a fingernail of pink marks the spot I last saw the sun.

“Methania,” I shout, “behold your discoverer!”

I take a sip—a bit more than I should’ve. It burns. I hold it, waiting for the fire to die, but it only grows in intensity. My eyes water. I swallow, then choke and cough as the flames spread up and down my insides.

“Not bad,” I whisper through a scorched gasp. “Not bad at all.”

It’s not so much because I made it this far that I want to honor myself tonight. No—making it this far?—anyone with a boat of any kind could’ve done this. I’m aware I still have the option of turning back, as I was seriously tempted to do this morning. I want to honor myself because I’m now dead certain I’m not turning back.

Holding my glass out at arm’s length, I say, “To Captain Kick-butt Hatfield!” then spin around at a noise behind me—whiskey sloshes from my glass. A dark creature, like a giant spider, skitters across the transom gunwale. I freeze. The thing leaps for the aft stay, swings from there to the main boom, then scrambles up the mast. It’s up there over my head, swinging its shoulders and little black head from side to side, barking.

“A monkey! Shit! A bloody monkey!” I wave a hand about and bark back, “Git! Scram! Get off my boat!” It then occurs to me the beast has no place to scram to. The stupid thing must’ve snuck onboard while I was docked to that dead tree last night. “Jimmy Frakkin’ Crust! Now what?”

It cusses me—a threatening string of chatter and short sharp barks.

Do I capture it and dump it overboard? How am I going to accomplish that? What if it bites? What if it’s poisonous… or diseased?

“Frackin’ crapola!”

I could shoot it. Yes, with the flare pistol. But suppose I hit it and it explodes into flames—and catches the boat on fire?

The smelly little beast chatters on, senselessly.

“This is my boat, buddy! You don’t cuss me on my boat!” I shake a finger at the monkey. “And you don’t touch my crackers!”

It quiets.

I cannot kill a monkey, but I will not have it in the cabin eating my food and making a mess. I slide by, keeping an eye on it, close the cabin door, then take a seat on the stern bench. What the crump am I going to do with that thing? Return it to its home? It would cost me two days’ time and two days’ rations. No, I’m not doing that. The stupid critter made a bad decision, for which I am in no way responsible.