Category Archives: About Hyperlink from Hell

Frankly, My Book Could Save Your Life!

vampire-lips-red-lip-gloss-fangs-draculaIt’s the Witching Season, or soon will be. Also the Vampire Season. Yes folks, it’s Vampire Books For Blood, a charity drive that is sure to drive you, well, batty. #VampBooks4Blood‘s founder, plotter, schemer and bottle-washer is Scott Burtness, author of the Monsters in the Midwest series. This year I am participating because, frankly, I didn’t know about it until now, though it’s been happening since 2013.

Here’s the lowdown: authors of books about vampires pledge to donate to the US Red Cross or the Canadian Blood Services — either a flat donation or a percentage of their book’s October sales! I will be donating 100% of my world-wide October proceeds from Hyperlink From Hell to this worthy cause. (Should be worth a pint or two, even at the discounted price of 99 cents for the ebook and less than 10 bucks for the paperback!)

But perhaps you would like to know my initial reaction, when I heard about the drive:

You mean my BOOK could save a LIFE? And not in the “confused reader threw it (the paperback version, not the ebook) out the window of a speeding bus, smacking a mugger in the head, thus saving a (frankly, whiffy) little old lady from having her Social Security check (which, also frankly, she should have been having direct-deposited all these years, but what can you do?) stolen and used to fund the mugger’s debauched, basement-based lifestyle of virtual bowling, online D&D and repeated, failed attempts to break the Guinness World Record for Cheetos Found In A Couch, all the while the (frankly, now even more whiffy) little old lady starved and was eaten by her cats?

Cool. I like cats. Count me in.

I did not write that cliche-riddled scenario to Scott, because, frankly, I don’t want him to KNOW I’m nuts. SUSPECT, sure. After all, he read the book. Even reviewed it:

This book was fun as hell. Philosophy, religion, and a world-class pun fest have been nicely rolled into a dark mystery full of fun characters, plot twists, and humor so absurd it’s flippin’ hilarious.

First, most of the story is the story within the story. I know, right? Head’s spinning a bit already. But the author does a great job setting up both worlds, and both sets of characters. Second, the story in the story is a madcap romp. When the MC comes up for air, you’ll be glad she did because you’ll need to take a few deep breaths as well.
Third, it will all make sense in the end, and you’ll be deeply satisfied.

If you enjoy Terry Pratchett and Monty Python, and also enjoy getting drunk and arguing with the desklamp about whether Schrödinger’s cat prefers dry food or dryer lint, you will absolutely love Hyperlink from Hell.

Now THAT’S nuts! (Thank you, Scott.) But seriously folks, this is a great cause, with some generous authors participating. I only have one vampire book to offer, but others are donating proceeds from a whole series! So frankly (Scott’s dog’s name is “Frank”; see how I got it in there? Repeatedly? Without mercy?), I will be buying a whole lot of vampire books in October.

Frankly, I hope you will, too! Go Here and learn how to get all these amazing books from authors that give till it hurts.

If you want to join the facebook kick-off party Oct 1st, 12 Pm Central US time — and you do want to, because I’m mesmerizing you with my vampira eyes — here’s the link!

Vampire Books For Blood Party

See you there, I hope.

Fang you very much,

— Lindy “Never Met a Pun She Didn’t Like” Moone

Annnnd, here’s Frank!
frank-the-dog-full-face

…Because Someone Has to Sort out Eeyore.

I’ve been asked by Christina L. Rozelle, author of The Truth About Mud (the second-longest story in my troll anthology), to post “Why I Write.” If you have blog-hopped here from there, thank you for coming. If you have hopped here from elsewhere, please hop on over to the link above. (Not now! Sheesh!)

Of course, there are lots of answers to Christina’s question — a different one for every day. A month ago I might have answered glibly, “Because it’s fun to wantonly use adverbs,” and run away — figuratively, of course, since my ass was firmly planted in this chair and it was hot, so my elbows were hopelessly stuck to the desk. (They still are.)

Peske_Little_Girl_in_red_Dress

Here’s me, showing my panties to a cabbage

I started writing (actually printing) as a four-year-old, when I made up stories about the family that lived in my closet — the closet I shared with my little sister. In that family, everyone had their own room, even the Mommy and Daddy (why should they have to share, after all?) and a sock doll named Eegie and Tuffy the cat. (Who, it must be noted, had the biggest room.)

Today, I could say I write to bask in the glow of reviews (which, frankly, are few and far between, possibly due to my habit of aggressive non-promotion). Yesterday’s new Hyperlink from Hell reviews, my first on Amazon UK, included such head-swellers as:

“The cleverest piece of fiction I’ve ever read.”

(and)

“Somewhere in the multiverse there is a version of me who hasn’t read this book. I feel sorry for her.”

A couple of days ago, if asked why I write, I might have said “Because writing and reading are comforting” and referenced my novel-in-progress, Riding the Bull, the sequel to the above-lauded (and larded) book. In RTB, a character relates this quote, from A. A. Milne’s Piglet, in The House at Pooh Corner:

“Supposing a tree fell down, Pooh, while we were underneath it?”

“Supposing it didn’t,” said Pooh after careful thought.

 (See? Comforting!)

Here’s that same character explaining why she became a psychiatrist:

It’s partly thanks to Pooh and Piglet—and lonely, depressed “Eeyore” the donkey—that I became a psychiatrist. I made a list of promises to my mother before she died; the first was to “Take care of Daddy.” The last was, “And if nobody fixes Eeyore, Mommy, I’ll sort him out.”

I was six. I still have that list, and everything’s checked off but Eeyore.

So I write because it’s comforting, and to make things right.

I also write because I’m kinda smart (the Internet says my IQ is 134, so it must be true!), and because I’m kinda dumb (too befuddled to be a waiter, for example; I really admire people who can do that), and because it’s fascinating — to me, at least — to see those two sides of me duke it out on the page. (This is not a pretty spectator sport; it’s hard to see exactly what’s going on — kind of like two bulldogs fighting in a bag.)*

My brain works, when it works, in mysterious ways. I am a curious sort. Just yesterday I was wondering if anyone else’s panties suddenly, irrevocably roll down when they stretch, yawn, or sneeze — and the median age when people give up the valiant fight and start wiping from the front. So I write to explore the gap between the odd way my mind works and the way individual readers’ minds work. I want to know if anyone “gets” me, I guess. (And if they do, I worry about them. I really do.)

But mostly I write for the money. I sold one book this month, so far. In Germany. I made .30 Euro. (Methinks I’ll buy a pony…!)

Or maybe a donkey.

I guess I must write… because it’s fun. Nothing else comes close. (Except, of course, painting pictures on a closet wall.)

 

 

*Please do not worry about the bulldogs. They aren’t real.


 

Peske’s “Little Girl in Red Dress” courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Other illustrations are Ernest Shepard’s drawings for A. A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh series.

 

Get Your Cliches from Hell Here!

Yesterday, I read this:

The Top Ten Storytelling Cliches that Need to Disappear Forever

Did you read it? Or did you skip to here? If you skipped, that’s okay. Who’s gonna know? But the rest of this post will make more sense if you click on the link and at least skim the list of cliches, m’kay?

Now: Here’s what I think about that post:

“I agree! And I’m dancing with glee!”

“Huh?” you say. “How can you agree that a writer shouldn’t use this list of cliches? For fuck’s sake, Hyperlink from Hell is loaded with them!”

To which I say: “You bet it is! It’s front-end loaded! It’s satire, remember? I can’t begin to say how thrilled I am to have hit the bullseye on 7 out of 10 of these!”

But listen: Hyperlink isn’t JUST satire. It isn’t just Pinocchio, poking his little (and sometimes not-so-little) nose into society’s blowhole to see where the bloated whale of our culture springs a leak. I took great pains to make sure he’s also a real boy — a real story about real(ish), crazy people. And I know some of you readers REALLY get that. And I love you for it.

But I’ve also realized that for other readers to get that, they need the other two books in the series, like, NOW. And they aren’t finished. So maybe I should have waited ’til they were done before publishing the first book, but live and learn — and I’ve learned so much from this last year and met so many wonderful readers and other writers, that I wouldn’t go back and change a thing…

Except one. I will soon be uploading a new version of the ebook, with a preview of the second book plopped on the end. Yes, you will soon learn if there’s a body in the tunnel! You won’t have to wait. And after I make those changes, I will make the book free for a while.

Then, after the troll anthology is out, I will write my fingers off to get those other two books out as soon as I can.

Now, about those cliches… Let’s have some fun with them!

1. Characters describing themselves in mirrors: Yes, Jimmie does, just once, stare at his face in the mirror and describe what he sees. But since his appearance keeps changing at Al’s Almighty whim, how else would he know what he looks like at any given time? It’s a win-win!

3. Blaming bad behavior on bad parenting: The whole book is a satirical look at this one. ‘Nuff said.

4. Too many inside jokes/references: All part of the satirical experience, at no extra charge.

5. The chosen one: Bullseye!

6. Countdown clocks: I am practically orgasmic that they included this one on the list!

7. Veiling your message in a dream: Or three! Weeeeeeee!!!

10. Knocking characters unconscious for plot convenience: Poor Jimmie! I did this countless times to him! And all on purpose! (I am a fucking genius!)

Now, I know what you’re thinking:

“What about numbers 2 (Broadcasting an upcoming plot twist), 8 (Using sex as wish fulfillment) and 9 (Magical Negroes and Noble Savages)?”

Well, I’ll do my best to squeeze 2 and 8 into books 2 and 3, but as for 9? No fucking way. I will simply have to admit defeat on that one — wouldn’t touch it with a 10-foot Polish person — but you know, my own list of Cliches from Hell…

Is just getting started!

Grant E. Hamilton’s 1885 political cartoon for the “The Judge” magazine.

(Wikimedia Commons)

 

Who Gives a Crap?

(Please bear with me; there’s a method to my “psychic shit” madness!)

Some of you know that I jokingly fancy myself a media psychic. That is, some strange, very specific things have happened on TV, online or on the radio not long after I thought or dreamed of them. Truth is, I’m almost 100% sure that they are coincidences — but they are freaky, nonetheless. I’m not claiming causation in either direction — just correlation.

Here’s one example: I had a nightmare, in which I was walking behind some friends in a supposedly haunted house. They were all spooked, but of course I was whining about not believing in ghosts and how stupid it all was, when I was grabbed by the clothes on the middle of my back — as if by a giant hand or maybe a grappling hook — and yanked backwards, twenty or thirty feet across the room. This scared the living shit out of me and I woke up.

That evening I was washing dishes and decided to turn the TV to a channel I never watched. I went back to the sink, but turned to look at a commercial — which was a scene from a new movie: the scene from my dream, exactly.

Oftentimes, I wake up with a strange word or sentence in my head, and that turns out to be meaningful during the day. Remember Quid Pro Ho? But these days, since I injured my arm and sleep with it in a sling, I wake up thinking “Careful… careful…careful.” Because, if I move just wrong trying to get out of bed, the pain is faintingly sharp.

This morning, my first thought after “Careful… careful…careful” was about toilet paper. That’s not so surprising; after all, what do you do first when you get up? Pee. But today, sitting there, I started pitying the forests of the world, and wondering if there was a really sensible alternative to toilet paper — one that wouldn’t use more precious resources, such as water, or cause worse environmental and public health problems. I wished Turkish plumbing was better, so we could flush toilet paper instead of it ending up in landfills. There, poor people are exposed to the unspeakable as they try to salvage something to sell to recyclers — thus spreading filth, and possibly disease, far and wide. So I started wondering if composting toilets compost the toilet paper, too, and next thing you know I’m off the john and online to look it up. “But first let’s just check facebook…”

where we find this, the original sit-in, for “Who Gives a Crap” toilet paper:

So, do I think these coincidences happen for a reason? No. Can I make them meaningful? Yes. For example, I can pledge to give all my 2014 profits from the paperback version of “Hyperlink from Hell” to the charity that “Who Gives a Crap” toilet paper supports with 50% of their profits: WaterAid. Their mission is to “promote and secure poor people’s rights and access to safe water, improved hygiene and sanitation”, worldwide. What better charity could my toilet-obsessed ghosts support? What other books have parts dedicated to poo? (remember Part Two: Shit with Wings?) I’ll also set it up so that anyone who buys the paperback in 2014 gets the ebook for a discount (for free, if I can manage that).

For those who don’t live in the US, here’s the global page for Wateraid, which will take you where you need to go, in case you’d like to make a direct deposit. For the holidays.

If you are lucky enough to live in Australia, you can do even more. You can really give a crap, because “Who Gives a Crap” toilet paper can be delivered to your door.

Quid Pro HoHoHo!

 

Secrets-of-the-Universe

priestess_of_Delphi john collier

John Collier’s
“Priestess of Delphi”

Question:

What does someone do with the time someone intended to spend putting up decorations, cooking, etc., when one has a bum arm and is forbidden to do any of the above? (Put up a tree? I can’t open a f&cking tuna can! I can’t yank the Band-aids off my own ass, the ones covering my two-a-day injection sites!)

Answer:

Someone finally joins Quora, and contemplates the secrets of the universe in question and answer form. (Someone also gets her husband to open the f&cking tuna. The tree? Ha ha ha ha ha… And the Band-aids will fall off eventually. Probably into the toilet. Clogging it up. You think Band-aids can’t clog up a toilet? We once had a plumber accuse us of flushing so much dental floss that it clogged the pipes. We did not flush dental floss. Not even a single strand. Someone did, though. But who? When? And did they cackle maniacally while they did so? Could they see the future, or know what damage that floss would wrought? We will never know.)

So, I probably won’t be asking or answering a lot of questions over at Quora, because this is the kind of question I want to ask:

“Who flushed all the f&cking dental floss, and why do I care that the plumber believes it was me?”

Mostly, I will be skulking around Quora like a one-armed, Band-aid-buttocked Bandit. It is my way. But I wonder how the inhabitants of planet Quora would answer Jimmie’s Secrets-of-the-universe questions, in Hyperlink from Hell. Remember this? It’s Jimmie’s lament that, given the opportunity to ask God anything he wanted, he’d wasted that golden moment:

I’d blown my chance to ask Al some gritty, secrets-of-the-universe type questions, like “Why do flies always buzz around the center of a room?” or “How can blind people tell when they’re done wiping?”

Well, You can’t just ask them, can You?

I’m deadly serious. Wipe that smile off your face. And while you’re at it, I could use some help in the bathroom.

No, no; not that.

It’s just…

I can’t floss my f&cking teeth.

The Masses need Glasses

Dear Universe,

This post was meant to be about author J.A. Konrath.

Well, not about J.A. Konrath, himself, more about this blog post of his, called “Zen and the Art of Bitching“, which reminded me of this part in Hyperlink from Hell where God starts bitching about all the lazy, ungrateful humans who sit on their asses and blame Him for their troubles. That is: they want Him to do everything; they won’t take responsibility for their lives. You know, like people who won’t wear seatbelts and blame Him for not deploying the airbag, as they sail through the windshield and into Intensive Care. If they’re lucky.

So, naturally, I ended up on YouTube watching this apologetic book trailer for Blinders Keepers, a book I’d never heard of by an author I’d never heard of, either. (I may be the last in the universe. I usually am. Damn You, Universe!)

I checked out the book’s blurb, on Amazon:

Collapse, chaos, confusion, rioting, looting. And that’s the good news!

America is coming apart and the President can do nothing to stop it. But 23-year-old Noah Tass has his own problems. Stuck his entire life in the hayseed capital of the Bible Belt after his father abandoned him 18 years ago, he has no future, all his friends are losers, his job is a dead end, his mother is stark raving mad, and his sister is a meth head stripper.

It was time to bail! Time to strike out a new path, to discover America, and kick start his life. Noah leaves Missouri and for a year truly experiences the adventure of a lifetime. But the country is one big loony bin and he ends up in the sock puppet theater of contemporary American life, inhabited by a deranged blundering president, brutal agents of the ATF, FBI and NSA — men who kill first and ask questions later — and an underground of wild and wacky but endearing freaks who are trying to overthrow the existing order.

Blinders Keepers is social-political satire in the tradition of Jonathan Swift, Kurt Vonnegut and Joseph Heller, but revved up and spit-shined to take on the historic new levels of absurdity and dysfunction of the 21st Century. It is one young man’s laugh-out-loud struggle to survive the epic disintegration of the American Dream.

Next,  I downloaded the sample to My Precious (Kindle), because I can’t afford to buy any new books until, like, 2045, and I started reading it. And that’s when I realized the title (Blinders Keepers) had special meaning to me. Because when I read this sentence:

“As I stand before this great body and look at the faces of those who have dedicated themselves…”

I saw this, instead:

“As I stand before this great body and look at the feces of those who have defecated themselves…”

So this post is about needing glasses.

Now… who can I blame for that?

“Cue the Oreos and Pubic Hair…”

Book Giveaway, take Two:

If Hyperlink from Hell  were a cookie, it would be an Oreo. It has a dark analytical crust with a light, naughty, madcap mystery center. If that’s your kind of cookie, give Hyperlink a nibble.

Need more nutrition info about the book? Forget that puny PG blurb on the Amazon page. Here’s the one I like, the long one, the one that starts with…

Murder. Mayhem. And at least one “bat” guy.

A missing reality star, a buxom redhead, and a naked guy with a clipboard and no pubic hair all have something in common: the first chapter of “Hyperlink from Hell.” But what, exactly, is Hyperlink from Hell? That’s what the new Director of The Haven needs to know. Her former boss and mentor has checked out of his ancestral castle and into his own padded suite, all because of a few murders… and because reality has-been, Jimmie Canning, wrote a report to God in a “novel” format, then disappeared.

Join the Director as she analyzes the hell out of “Hyperlink from Hell,” Jimmie’s unlikely tale of kidnapping, murder, time travel and wardrobe malfunction… of Post Traumatic Death Syndrome… of good versus “bat.” It seems that Jimmie has just one goal: to save his girlfriend from her toothy, bloodthirsty ex; and just one strategy: “It all comes down to math.” The good news? He quits smoking. The bad news? Almighty Al, a dubious deity, is pulling faces, pulling jokes, and pulling all the strings.

Pity the Director. To save her mentor from madness, she must divine fact from fiction, fantasy from farce. Is “Hyperlink from Hell” pure delusion… or is there really an alternate universe, where even God’s insane?

Still here? I’ll send a free paperback to the first three people who respond using the contact form, below. The rest of you? I’ll send you a free PDF copy of the paperback, or a MOBI file for Kindle — your choice. No strings attached. (Promotion ends Nov. 21.)

Naturally, I hope to get a few more reviews on Amazon out of this. One star, four stars, whatever you think it deserves, love it or loathe it! Just a few words can make all the difference… If you feel like it. All the reviews it has are wonderful, and I really appreciate them. But they’re getting lonely over there.

(If you do choose to write a review, remember to note that you received a promotional copy of the book.)

If you’ve already read Hyperlink from Hell and you aren’t my close friend or relative, please consider writing a short review for Amazon. Here’s the link. Just click where it says “Create your own review.” It’s pretty painless — even fun. Thanks.

Book Giveaway! Ta-da!

Come with me, on a journey through time and space…

In a hurry and don’t want to read today’s blathering? Scroll down for the giveaway info! But if you’ve got a minute…

Last week marked my childhood hero’s birthday. (Carl Sagan, groovy astro-science dude, would have been 79 years old November 9th.) This week will mark my birthday. (I’m not tellin’.)

platform shoes

I wouldn’t be caught dead in these shoes!

One of the things on my “Ta-da”* list for this year was: “Market my book. Market it long and hard.” That didn’t happen. Instead, I skipped right to “Give up marketing. It takes too long and it’s hard.”

That doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy. I put on my author “platform” shoes and got to work — started this blog, built my own groovy website, formatted Hyperlink for paperback and published it. I’ve met lots of funny, generous writers and readers through the blog and website, through Kindleboards and Newsbiscuit and countless other online hangouts. I’ve even started reviewing books for Amazon and Goodreads. My latest project is bringing an international group of writers together to write stories for charity, and I’m working on the cover.

Still, I’ve resisted self-promotion. Why? Fear of failure? Fear of success? Both, in equal measure, plus simple bewilderment at the enormity of the task of marketing. Because I may not have been doing any marketing, but I have been reading about it.

Naked. Sweating. Trembling in my platform shoes.

Marketing has always belonged in the horror genre, to me. So I’ve been hiding out with the monster under my bed. But it’s getting chilly under here. The dust bunnies are growing fangs. And I realize I’ve been seeing marketing all wrong — as an unnecessary evil, something dirty and disgusting that shouldn’t even be thought of in polite company, much less talked about or — shudder! — actually done. Sure, I read about it and crawl out from under the bed to wash my hands from time to time, but that won’t sell billions and billions of books — not for me, and not for charity.

Time to put on some clothes, to do away with the dust bunnies, to change the old attitude — which was: “Marketing is scammy, sucky and awful and I’m not the type who can do it (so I’m going to stamp my foot and moan about it!)”*

The new attitude? Marketing is necessary; it’s not evil. It’s not scammy unless I let it be. I’m trying to see it this way: “Marketing is sharing what you love with people who will appreciate hearing about it.”* That’s skin-crawlingly sweet, but so be it.

What pushed me over the edge, off the cliff, into the waiting maw of self-promotion? The charity book. It will be published before next Halloween, and I need to develop some marketing strategies well before then, if it’s to be a success.

So here’s the first step: getting more Amazon reviews for the book I’ve already published: Hyperlink from Hell: A Couch Potato’s Guide to the Afterlife. Here’s the blurb:

Murder haunts The Haven, celebrity James Canning’s home since he lost touch with Reality TV. What’s his “shrink” to do? Assign writing therapy, of course. But when the good doc reads Canning’s memoire, Hyperlink from Hell, he checks into his own padded suite and Canning disappears.
 To save the doc from madness, The Haven’s new director must analyze the hell out of Hyperlink from Hell. Is Canning’s tale of kidnapping, time travel and wardrobe malfunction fact or fiction, deceit or delusion? Can she solve the murders, save her boss and find Canning? Or will she need a padded suite of her own?

(Takes deep breath! Steps forward off cliff.)

Giveaway Info:

If you’ve already read Hyperlink from Hell and you aren’t my close friend or relative, please consider writing a short review for Amazon. 

Here’s the link. Just click where it says “Create your own review.” It’s pretty painless — even fun.

Haven’t read the book, yet? I’ll send a free paperback to the first three people who respond using the contact form, below. The next 20 people? I’ll send you a free PDF copy of the paperback, or a MOBI file for Kindle — your choice.

In return for the free book, I hope to get a few unbiased reviews on Amazon. One star, four stars, whatever it deserves, love it or loathe it! Just a few words can make all the difference… If you feel like it.

(If you do choose to write a review, remember to note that you received a promotional copy of the book.)

Whew! Thank you for listening to my appeal. Now, I do feel a bit dirty, and under the bed is looking mighty comfy…

But no. Not gonna go there.

*****************************************************

  1. A Ta-da list is a “To Do” list with delusions of grandeur.
  2. From “How to Market a Book” by Joanna Penn
  3.  Ditto, baby.

It’s a Boy!

October 27th. Yes, it’s that poor, deluded dude’s birthday again. The good news is: Jimmie’s about to quit smoking in “Hyperlink from Hell.” The bad news is… (spoilers!)

It’s also 100 years this month since my favorite hunky and irascible wit, Ambrose Bierce, author of The Devil’s Dictionary and An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge, disappeared in Mexico without a trace. (Just a little trivia for you, but I’m betting that, whatever happened, it didn’t seem trivial to him.) It’s all very sad, the not-knowing.

Now, back to the birthday boy: Here’s where it all goes Belly-up for Jimmie, as he tells us in “Hyperlink from Hell.” So make yourself a drink from The Cocktail Alphabet from Hell — a “Death Wish,” perhaps, or a “Closed Coffin” — and curl up in Al’s favorite armchair.

Smoking May be Hazardous

“Oh, enough about you! Let’s talk about me,” Monique said. Above her head, a string of outdoor lights — the ones shaped like chili peppers — shivered in the sudden breeze and went out.

“All right,” I said, tapping my last-ever cigarette on the rim of her piña colada. “What would you like to know about yourself?”

Hoping my breath was awful, I leaned toward her and leered. At least, I think it was a leer. I probably should have practiced that, because she didn’t even flinch. Instead, her mind wandered over to the poolside bar with her drop-dead body in tow.

“A Quaalude for me, and a Quickie for the gentleman.”

Monique was sipping her way through the cocktail alphabet, and I’d promised to join her at “Q.” Oh, I knew she was cheating. She had to be. No one could survive all that booze, so her drinks were probably virgins. So what? If we made it to “S,” she’d promised me a double round of Sex on the Beach under the Tequila Sunrise.

Don’t blame me. It was Monique’s idea of a birthday present.

Ah, Monique, I bet your real name is Monica, I thought, taking another drag. I’d told her to call me Dave, my best friend’s name. She just kept calling me “Sugar.”

I turned to watch her chat with the bartender, who might — in even dimmer light — have been as handsome as a bullfrog. Now, he could give lessons in leering. Whatever alternate universe Pedro came from, he had guts, balls, chutzpah. Whatever ugly guys have when they hit on gorgeous women.

Maybe he has a big attribute, hidden by the bar.

My Rolex buzzed the hour: three AM. I took one last puff and stubbed out my butt in the World’s Most All-inclusive Ashtray — where transfer-printed, grass-skirted pygmies danced the hula in the shadow of Angkor Wat.

Where was I, and what was I doing there?

“There” was “Bougainvillea-ville,” a Hell-hole hideaway in the Yucatan that had seen better days, and clientele, in the ’eighties. Where else should I have been, with Jenny?

Jenny was somewhere else, in the arms of some other guy. Her crumpled Note whispered from my pocket, even after all that time: I never loved you… don’t try to find me… I’m going back to Rick.

“Señor?”

A local urchin was tugging on my shirt. He looked about eight. A scrawny eight. His face and feet were dirty, but his hands were clean.

“Mister señor?” The kid held out a hand and tried to smile.

What to do? I considered adopting him; celebrity adoptions were all the rage. But who’d give me a kid — even this kid — with my reputation? He’d be better off without me.

Everyone was.

I decided on a small trust fund. I’d work out the details later, but to get things started, I tucked some pesos into his hand, ruffled his hair, then waved a wad of dollars at Pedro.

“Get this kid something to eat… for about ten years! And throw in a parent or guardian.”

Pedro made a quick call, then herded the kid up the steps toward the hilltop kitchen’s blazing lights. For the weeks (years? decades?) I’d been there, those lights had burned like a beacon all night, every night. If that was to keep the cucarachas in check, fat chance.

As Pedro lumbered back to the bar, the last customer belched, peeled himself off his barstool and announced, “‘To be a Gringo in Mexico — ah, that is euthanasia,’” before stumbling off, leaving the place to the three of us.

I watched to make sure he didn’t follow the kid, then resumed wallowing.

What the Hell was I doing there? Two obvious answers came to mind, both busting out of a plunging neckline. Monique’s twin peaks were back from the bar. At this point, I believe I burst into song: “America the Beautiful,” in homage to the “mountains’ majesty above her fruited plain.”

Oh, God.

I don’t want to talk about it.

For her part, Monique was going on about my eyes — how blue they were, or was it green? How from the moment we first met…

Pedro delivered our drinks with a gracious grunt. Finally, something to keep the mescal in my gut company. And the worm. I gazed into Monique’s colored contacts, knocked back the Quickie and choked. Bourbon, rum, andwhat’s that sweet stuff? Orange liqueur?

A Quickie is bourbon in lingerie. There had to be faster ways to kill myself.

I could smother myself with a plastic bag…

I’d have settled for paper. It’s slower than plastic, but biodegradable.

For a fleeting moment, I felt like a bag boy again: eighteen years old, working at the market I bought later, when all the money rolled in. That was my first “Can-Too,” the first of the chain.

I grinned at Monique’s chest. To Hell with plastic. I could smother myself in her breasts! Suicide was a sin, but at least my thoughts could be held against me. I grinned at my own little joke, thinking, God has no sense of humor.

Monique’s voice droned on and on, with the hypnotic quality of a medieval chant, reminding me of what a friend of my mom’s, an ex-priest, used to say about religion: “The music’s great, but the lyrics stink.”

He’d completely missed the point. He must be in Hell by now.

I was jerked back to the table by, “That’s a sweet little ass you got, Sugar.”

I’d been sitting on my ass for hours; how did she know it was sweet? With all the droning, there was no chance to ask her, so my half of the duet only played in my head: Look, I know I’m attractive. It’s just good jeans — I mean genes! It’s only luck, so don’t go on about it.

Monique stopped chanting and stared over my shoulder, neglecting to blink. That was odd. Just a second before, her false lashes had been flapping flirtatiously.

Was someone creeping up on me? Her husband? Better yet, a boyfriend? Boyfriends were more jealous than husbands. Boyfriends were prone to rash, head-busting behavior!

But it was just Pedro, with a round of R: “Red Rasputin. Vodka, Grenadine, Pepsi-Cola.”

I knocked it back, and Monique leaned forward to whisper something. Let’s see, what was it? Oh, yeah:

“R is for Roofie.”

The last thing I remember is quoting Speedy Gonzales. “‘No mas tequila. Already muy loaded.’”

* * *

I woke up naked and hog-tied, on a filthy mattress on a filthy floor in the filthiest hotel room I’d ever seen. And I’d seen a few. I wasn’t born filthy rich, as You know.

The room was littered with empty beer and whiskey bottles. Another big empty loomed where a TV had been ripped from the wall.

My head was splitting. The smell of the mattress was gagging. My throat was dry as a witch’s — well, as You might expect, under the circumstances.

“Thirsty, Sugar?” someone drawled from across the room.

Ah, the twin peaks of Mount Monique! I should never have taken up climbing.

But I didn’t remember any climbing. Or Sex on The Beach. I’d missed the Tequila Sunrise!

Chafing as it was to watch Monique sipping soda in her shabby armchair, my attention was drawn to the door — creaking open — and Pedro, whose secret with the ladies was sawed-off and double-barreled.

Coke in hand, Monique sauntered over to close the door while Pedro lurched to the mattress and flopped down beside me. His bullfrog grin widened as he admired the Rolex on his wrist. Funny, I felt so naked without it.

“Monique,” I croaked, one eye on Pedro’s grin, “we didn’t…? Did we?”

She sipped. “What do you think?”

Pedro slapped a newspaper down on the mattress. It was the Mercury News, my home paper in San Jose. The newspaper’s main headline and article were blacked out, but I could read the date: October 27th. Yippee, it was still my birthday! I was thirty-six.

The paper also said: “James Canning Missing in Mexico. See page 5.”

Page 5? Remind me to cancel my subscription.

Pedro lit a cigar with my lighter, the one engraved, “Smoking will kill you someday, love, Jen.” Last year’s birthday present. Right before she dumped me.

“Canning. That funny name for supermarket guy,” Pedro said. “How much you worth, Jimbo? You can tell me. I am so trustworthy. You give me million dollars, I give you Coca-Cola. Fair trade? That’s peanuts for you.”

He kindly blew the smoke my way. “You sell a lotta peanuts at those markets?”

“A whole lotta.” I breathed in deeply, but second-hand smoke wasn’t gonna cut it. “How about a smoke, and that Coke?”

“Oh, I am generous man, but smoking is bad for you. And no Coke.”

He motioned for Monique to fetch me some water. She filled a paper cup from the faucet and pressed it to my lips, saying, “Drink it, or the next one’s from the toilet.”

I drank it.

Pedro took a swig of Jack Daniels. “How you like your water, Jimbo? Your guts gonna do a little tap dance? ‘Montezuma’s revenge,’ eh?”

“Listen, Pedro,” I said. “This may be your first starring role in the re-run that is your life, but it’s not mine. Could you can the tourist crap?”

Pedro’s lips curled back. He had remarkably white teeth for a villain. I should’ve been more polite.

“Can? Tourist? Crap? Oh, Jimbo, you make me giggle. How much that sense of humor cost you, eh?”

But he’d already set the price.

I said, “If you want the money, I’ll need my phone and a pair of pants. And that Coke.”

“You want fries with that?” Pedro jumped up and cracked my head with the bottle. I saw rainbows, but didn’t black out.

Monique hollered, “Not so rough! Are you nuts?”

Panting and swaying, Pedro leaned toward me and belched. His breath burned my eyes. I lay there bleeding, head throbbing, wondering how the Hell I was going to get out of there.

I scanned the room again. One window. No extra charge for the bars. There was a copy of Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis” on the nightstand. Which of these geniuses was reading that?

In my cheeriest voice, I asked, “Who likes the classics? I’m a ‘Bullwinky’ fan, myself.”

Monique stared at me blankly. “Bullwinky?”

“You know, the moose. And Roscoe the flying squirrel?”

“Pedro,” she said, “how hard did you hit him?”

But Pedro didn’t answer. He and his shotgun were busy flopping back down on the mattress. When the bouncing stopped, my eyes came to rest on the blacked-out newspaper.

“What’s with the blackout?”

“What you mean, Jimbo? You wanna back out? No back out of this deal.”

“I give up,” I said. “I wish this was a dream sequence.”

“Dream sequence? How you know this notta dream sequence?”

“I just know.”

How you know? You naked. People always naked in my dreams.” He waved the shotgun at Monique. “Whassa matter, her tits not big enough for your dreams?”

“Sure they are,” I said. “I just hate dream sequences.”

“Me, too,” Monique said.

Pedro jumped up again. “Me three! Funny, eh? Arithmetic. We got so much in common.”

“God? Shoot me now.”

Those four little words… they just popped out. I swear I didn’t mean them.

* * *

“Sign this,” a shimmery, naked, made-of-light sort of guy said, holding out a clipboard.

What do you know? Shimmery, naked, made-of-light sort of guys have no pubic hair.

Right, like You wouldn’t have looked.

He poked me with the clipboard. “Sign it. And stop looking down there. Your file doesn’t say anything about you being gay.”

I glanced at the clipboard. The paper on it was blank. “What is it?”

“Being gay?” He tapped the pen on the clipboard. “Surely you know —”

“What’s on the clipboard?”

Tap, tap, tap. “I couldn’t say.” He looked like he could, but he wouldn’t.

“Hey, is this the dream sequence?”

“No,” he said, but at least he stopped tapping. “You’re just dead.”

“Jeez. You’re shittin’ me. I don’t feel dead.”

“It’s one of the perks. And I Shit You Not. I never ‘Shit’ anyone. It’s part of my job description. Sign here,” he said, tapping the paper, again. “Sign. Sign. Sign.”

Tap, tap, tap.

“I don’t sign things I can’t read,” I confessed. “It’s kind of a thing with me.”

Made-of-light Guy grinned. Even his teeth were shimmery, and that gave me the creeps. I looked around us. Everything — or should I say nothing? — was shimmering, like the static you get when you turn off the cable, but the TV’s still on. Only see-through.

At least I was dressed. And sober.

“Trust me,” the guy said. “You’re just one in a long line of dead leading men. It’s your ‘last starring role in the re-run that was your life,’ so to speak. Could be worse. Could be a cartoon.” He tapped the clipboard again. “Sign right here. God requires faith, if nothing else.”

I signed, against my better judgment. “God, huh? Sure I can’t get that in writing?”

“No.” He snatched back the clipboard, leaving me to wonder which it was: No, I couldn’t get that in writing, or No, he wasn’t sure I couldn’t get that in writing.

I think he read my mind.

“A little humility wouldn’t hurt,” he said, his milky little eyes narrowing to slits.

My own eyeballs were starting to tingle; this whole thing was making my skin crawl. Or maybe it’s the shimmering, I thought, waving an arm through the scintillant soup, the malicious miasma. There was something about it that looked… well, the only word is “curdled.” I bravely stuck out my tongue for a taste, and got a mild electric shock.

“What is this stuff?”

“It’s Sparkling Ectoplasm. That’s vodka, nutmeg, cream and lemon juice. Plus our own secret ingredient that makes it fizz.” He leaned forward and hiccupped. “Big secret. It’s seltzer! Never, ever, think that He has no sense of humor. He hates that.”

“I’ll remember,” I mumbled, wiping my tongue on my sleeve.

“I know you will.”

* * *

The next thing I knew, I was a shimmery naked guy, standing on a sidewalk in Silicon Valley. Folks rushed by, dashing to their high-tech lunches. They couldn’t see me — which was good, considering all that naked business.

Naked, not naked, naked again… Someone can’t make up His mind.

With a fizzy “pop,” Monique appeared beside me. She was shimmery, too. “Sugar! How sweet. Did you miss me?”

“Mount — uh — Monique! What are you doing here? You don’t mean…?”

“Yup. Pedro shot me, too. All because he didn’t use the waste basket. I had to laugh, didn’t I?”

“Waste basket? What waste basket?”

And so she told me the gory, glorious details of my death: a wayward sheath, a slip, a fall… and a big old bang.

“That’s what I get for being raised a Catholic.”

Oh, well, so he slipped on a used condom and the gun went off. At least he didn’t shoot me on purpose.

Monique ran her fingers through her scalp. Did I mention we were bald? I thought not. Still, she had a very shapely scalp.

She said, “I never slept with Pedro, you know.” I hadn’t asked, but that didn’t seem to matter. “We tried once, but he’s got a dick the size of a cocktail weenie. I’ve got a clit as big as that.”

Monique blushed all over — think Sparkling Ectoplasm with a splash of cranberry — and glared at me. If she was daring me to comment, I didn’t.

She went on, “When he flipped it out, I got the giggles and burst into baby talk. ‘Who’s an itsy-bitsy boy, then? Who’s a dirty little fella?’”

“Are you nuts? No wonder he shot you.”

Monique shrugged and looked around us. “Where do you think we are? Some sort of Purgatory?”

I felt my chest swell. “It’s San Jose! It’s my home town! And isn’t Purgatory a big word for you?”

“I’m not an idiot, you stupid shit. That was an act.”

“No need to be rude, Sugar,” I said. “Hey, are you allowed to swear in Purgatory?”

“Obviously. But I bet it adds to the time.”

I looked her up and down. “I can live with that.”

She grinned. “You think? I had a nice, long talk with that shiny guy —”

“Long talk? I just got here!”

“I don’t think time works the way we’re used to. Anyway, after I signed the clipboard he said, ‘From now on, consider yourself an exhibit. No touching.’”

“What’s the penalty? We’re already dead.” I reached out to cup her shimmering breast, but my hand went right through her.

“No touching is the penalty.”

Suddenly, Monique wasn’t shimmering anymore, and hair was sprouting all over the place. Looking down, she said, “No more waxing for me. It’s just insane how fast it grows back.”

Huh, who’d have guessed it? She really is a red—

“Adam and Eve!” someone shouted. “You never heard of fig leaves?”

Yes, the people on the street could see us now, and one of them had a Brooklyn accent. A small crowd was forming. And hooting. And whistling.

Someone called my name.

This isn’t Purgatory. It’s Hell.

Do you suffer from Premature E-Publication?

I do.

Now, if you’ve read Hyperlink from Hell, you might be saying, “No way! It’s awesome!” Which is your prerogative. I can’t stop you. I also can’t stop you from tweeting it to the galaxy or liking my facebook page or checking out my website or…Bull cover

But there’s more than one kind of Premature E-Publication. Naturally, there are a lot of indie publishing horror stories out there, books rushed-to-publish — unrevised, unedited, even un-spellchecked, for Godzilla’s sake. That’s the most common form of the condition, but I have the other one.

Here’s my particular affliction: I published the first book in a series, when the others weren’t ready to go.

I know what you’re thinking: “So what? Ever hear of Harry Potter? 7 years, 7 books?”

But I’m not JK Rowling, and The After Ward isn’t a children’s book or YA. And book two in The After Ward series, Riding the Bull, has me firmly impaled on the horns of its dilemma. It’s taking longer to finish than I’d thought, and I’ve got all the symptoms to show for it. I’ve got Sequel Sores on my butt… Traumatic Head Drama… Marketing Melancholia… Amazon Angst.

I’m working through the pain. Really, I am. Riding the Bull will not buck me off!

As far as Hyperlink goes, it works just fine as a stand-alone novel, because I planned it that way. Even so, some folks are itching to find out just what is — or isn’t — in that tunnel.

I hope it will be worth the wait. Because in book three, the Three Wize Monkies are already plotting to stuff me into their barrel.

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