A Day in the Life and the Premier of Worked Stiff: Short Stories to Tell Your Boss

This book is a salute and celebration of the Modern American Worker. Generations of unrecognized heroes who wash our cars, mow our lawns, bake our bread, douse our fires, take our garbage, teach our kids, grow our food, build our houses, mend our roads, and defend our freedom.

The American Dream is still there for all of them, hidden in plain sight, riddled with confusion and abandonment.

In an America full of unemployment, late fees, foreclosures, bankruptcy, and loss of hope…

There Are Consequences.

This short story collection includes some of the pale misery behind faults in the American Economy. Find a cab driver who lost his way, a down and out executive who stumbles onto a Voodoo curse in New Orleans, a nurse who pays the price for rescuing a man once thought loved, and a horrific, dystopian future. Discover new hope after cancer. Follow a paratrooper to manhood as he approached the deadly ground. Help the underemployed win at a game where reality TV meets nature at the crossroads of technology.

The stories in this collection contain clues, breadcrumbs dropped along a path to help you on your way.

Can You Find Them? 

 

This short story collection was a while coming but I am overall happy with the results. Between pulling teeth over the cover design, hiring an editor, and editing AGAIN on a 60 inch TV in a hotel in Tennessee, this has been quite the ride. How did it begin?

It all started this past fall when I was underemployed. Isn’t that how all mischief starts? I feverishly wrote before the light of day. I tested on the phone to unsuspecting victims. I was posting these and other stories on my blog. All because I read Miracle Mornings by Hal Elrod and Steve Scott and went off to the races every morning, writing whether I cared to or not. I am NOT a morning person, despite my military background, but I became one with coffee and anger.

 

 

I wrote a few of the stories while out on a case (I moonlight as a Private Investigator). I did some first drafts with Dragon Naturally Speaking, but most I crafted before anybody could get to me and ask for anything.

The first  in this series Worked Stiff: Poetry and Prose for the Common was an unusual 2nd book to put out. Yes, weird after Country Noir Modern Waste but that’s what a year in Russian school at the Defense Language Institute will do to you. Utterly demoralizing.

If you are interested in poetry, great art, or political treatise without picking sides, Poetry and Prose for the Common is good. If you are interested in selling books, it was not. What was I thinking?

Well, I was thinking about art and I am glad that was the first in the Worked Stiff Series but man was it difficult. Think layout is hard? Try adding stanzas and full page digital artwork into the mix.

Really though, I cut my teeth on that baby. And, after the first edition of Letters Never Meant to be Read, I can pull any project together.

So, naturally, a children’s book would be next, right? No!!!

I am actually working on a psychological thriller with A.M. Hounchell which I need to get back to. I will also be pulling together the next Worked Stiff: Crime Always Pays. Or, something to that effect.

Short Stories to Tell Your Boss was difficult because of editing and more and more editing. Why? Well, when you edit a novel or novella, you have mostly one POV and one tense. Short story compilations are tough and I found myself having to edit one story and taking a break before starting on another. This is after I hired an “editor”. I had to fix his mistakes too. There is no brevity as in a poetry book either.

I made the final cuts while in Tennessee, in a hotel, on active duty, plugged into a big flatscreen. That was so helpful and I am never going to edit any other way. All the mistakes were HUGE and it really helped me when I needed to read out loud.

I needed to get this out before I could move on. I know my writer buddies out there feel the same way at times. The cover design was a terrible process but I am satisfied enough for now and I can’t wait to see the print version.

I wanted this release to coincide with my KDP free promo days for the Letters Book but I hit a snag back there. This process has been a lesson in patience.

I am going to go for ACX tonight. I usually meander around awhile before doing the Audible version, but not this time.

Do tell if you see anything glaring and I sure hope you like it. My dog Maggie and I just got done with a long run and there is nobody home, and nobody will answer my calls of joyous celebration. So, I am sharing the release with you in this quiet way, for now.

Slow and Steady wins this one. May your night be wonderful and filled with dreams of paratroopers, android sex, and black mambas.

 

 

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Book Review: New Horizons by Joanne Van Leerdam

 

 

I first got serious about Joanne’s work on Twitter when I halted my incessant scrolling for answers. I was stopped short by the cover of her poetry book titled Stained Glass– This is the best cover I’ve seen in like forever so Joanne has to tell me who designed it.

 

 

 

 

I’m not in the poetry mood yet. as I am about to release my own short story collection (whenever the cover design is done), and, I am really into writing the short form right now. So, I checked out everything else by Joanne and bought New Horizons instead. I will read and review Stained Glass in a few weeks though.

Description:

A change of scenery. A new direction. A break in the weather.
Who hasn’t hoped for something different at some point in their life?

These sixteen short stories offer insights into how people respond when they encounter experiences and events they have not foreseen, or when they discover new horizons in their lives.

 

What I liked about New Horizons:

This book was settling and comforting in a way that I was not expecting. She must be a decent poet because her word choice and melody in this short form is astounding. No story is more than a handful of pages, and without counting, I’m sure some of them might be considered flash. One could read this book in under an hour as I did, or a story a day with your morning coffee.

I felt most of her tales were inspiring and left me wanting to know more about the characters, even the secondary. Each focuses on one character facing some kind of new beginning. Yawn all you want now, but there is some real depth here, and a kind of tease into the satisfaction of gossip or living vicariously.

Even small, supporting roles have their place and form here. Check out this excerpt from “Time Will Tell”:

A nurse works at her station on the corner of the small, cool room, making notes: a silent witness of every dreadful moment.

 

I teach English at an orphanage and work with children who are often in and out of foster homes. The story “Rube” really hit home for me and I believe it to be my favorite. Sorry Joanne, that’s favourite. This is the last line:

Heading for the railway station, Rube’s stride was brash and confident, but the tune he hummed was melancholy.

 

“The Karma Train” was another good one and it had me thinking for a moment that these were all parables in a way, life lessons for the willing. There is a steady theme of starting over and moving on that is hard to get away from.

Then, I found it. The dark and twisted side of reality shown through and I was in my special, evil place. “Coward” knocked my socks off with its form and economy of words:

They all think I’m a coward. That I couldn’t have done it. That I’d never fight back. But they’re wrong.

“A Most Educational Quiz” was very clever in the telling, I even read it twice, once to my wife out loud.

“Lucy” was another tasty treat as we danced in the dark once again, sin and ambition.

 

What I didn’t like:

Layout issued are paramount but should be an easy fix for the author. I’m reading on a Kindle Fire HD 8″ . This was so short that I didn’t read it on anything else as I sometimes do at work.

I’ll pay 2.99 because I write everything off like a wild bandit but I’m not sure everyone else would. My mom will after she reads this post. The author would do best by writing more and more and posting this for .99 cents. Kindle Unlimited wouldn’t do much for this title because of length but who am I to know such things?

“Revelation” should be a Letter in Letters Never Meant to be Read. It was more of a rant and didn’t quite have a place after “Lucy”.

It was strange to end with “Late Fall” because there was no suspense or cliff to hang, but that may be the point considering the subject matter. Still, in a house full of tease, I wanted more of that kind.

 

What this does for my writing:

It is so nice to bask in the real once again and feel the morphing and twisting of human nature. I can’t thank Joanne for all the evil thoughts either, it was the parlor crowd inside my head and their commentary. Sometimes, you have to go home and mix it up a little. Don’t know what I mean, do you? No, you wouldn’t.

When I was reading “Rube” I stumbled on this passage:

He didn’t want to go to the pokey country town school with all the farmers’ kids who couldn’t think of anything better than to grow up and work on the farm with their dads.

Oh the mayhem that occurred in my brain and the evil laugh I am giving off right now. Thank you Joanne for giving me the fuel to douse my barn with. Not really, but let’s just say that I have the perfect story idea that involves a steep body count and a poor farmer’s son. I made a few scribbles in my notepad before reading on and I am happy for the lead.

5-Stars

So I’m pretty much going to read everything by Joanne Van Leerdam but she better tell me where I can get a physical copy of Stained Glass or I will pitch a fit and blame the local banker for the trouble. Her work is soothing, calm, yet it packs a punch that leaves you waiting for another turn at the potter’s wheel.

Joanne van Leerdam’s blog: https://wordynerdbird.com/

Follow Joanna on Twitter

 

All works by Joanna:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: Nine Parts Bluster and Other Stories: A dark fantasy anthology by A.Z. Anthony

 

I first ran across A.Z. Anthony on Twitter and wandered over to his blog where I found him in the midst of releasing a story a month. He did this in four parts, one each week, and I got caught up in his writing style and unique setting. Every week for awhile, I would be in the same place, waiting, and Anthony’s stories would be there to let me escape to a far off land, play games of power, and fight.

Description:

Nine Parts Bluster and Other Stories is a potent mix of madness, myth, and murder, with a sprinkling of black humor.

A monster of legend stalks the shadows, surrounded by rumors as abundant as the slashed and torn corpses it leaves in its wake. It’s wonderful news, assuming you’re Senesio Suleiman Zhao, famed monster hunter, Champion of the People, and murderous egotist.

It’s the place of lesser men to fear the dead as Harper conquers the scared mountains of the ancestors. Honor be damned, there’s glory at stake.

Jao has always tried to do right by others, but the time for that is long past. When his brother and companions are murdered by bandits, there’s only one recourse: a feast.

A classical education at the imperial capital has taught Chen a great many things. What it hasn’t taught him, however, is to lie, cheat, and steal. A shame, then, that he’s working for the biggest liar, cheat, and thief this side of the empire.

 

Where are we Anthony? Singapore? Mongolia? Is the year 2136? Is it 1872? I don’t know and it doesn’t matter. Anthony creates a world that is here on Earth, in the East somewhere, or is it? Yes, his characters reference the West, but again, it is of little importance because he is so convincing that you already know. You already have some idea of your time and place and everything from there will be glorious.

Like Economy of Words? I thought I had a handle on that aspect of my writing until I read this short story collection.While the author doesn’t describe every facet of setting, the vivid direction is there for the taking.

He never says when we are either, not directly. He doesn’t have to. Somewhere off the Silk Road perhaps, an Imperial Land that has either reverted back to crude weapons, or is stuck in time.

I can’t get enough of this brave, disastrous, and comical duo in Nine Parts Bluster. Senesio is the perfect mix of charlatan and hero while Chen is a happenstance boulder.  I want to follow these two on every adventure from now until the end of time. Yes, I could be summoned to quest after quest in my armchair. I would walk along the path of danger, hardship, and riches with this pair any day, all the while laughing with my popcorn, still ready with my sword on standby.

Like Characterization? Anthony spends all his writer money on just that:

“Senesio had a way with words, to be sure. He shaped the hopes and dreams of men like a potter did clay. And like clay after it was fired, what Senesio promised was prone to shatter.”

The author’s action scenes and monster are great in this. I do not want to give anything away here,  but the way men die in this and Sensio’s reaction tells the reader so much.

In Respectable Work, the author jumps back to the duo’s first meeting. The action scenes are quite stellar and the origin story is there for the taking:

“A second knee caught him (in) the chin and he stumbled backward, spitting blood and what might’ve been a tooth.”

My favorite by far is Kiss of the White Mistress which had me entrenched in the protagonist’s inner and external battle. Again, the author’s ability to work magic with less is seen here. It is all characterization:

“He smiled at the pale chunks of white mistress floating in the simmering stew, and for an instant, in that shallow hell of a prison, he could swear the stew smiled back.”

This story was intense and deep. It had me up swilling Merlot last Saturday, turning pages and dreaming of a nightmare.

In the Garden of Giants, he describes a troop in almost another world that could be its own series as well. This story really brought out the author’s sense of narration. It made me feel like he was an authority, an old man of sorts that I could count on for a good tale.

What I didn’t like:

Found some minor editing flaws. No big deal but some people care when they stumble upon Indie material.

I am confused by the cover design. It markets like a horror feature yet the work is much deeper than that. While some aspects of the stories revolve around death and a body count, it makes me wonder if melee is the true purpose, or, an interesting side-effect of the characters and their decisions within this realm.

A.Z. Anthony would do best by writing a full-length novel including Senesio and Chen immediately and selling this book for .99 cents or free. That is likely the tactic here. All of these stories are available for .99 cents on Amazon. I WANT MORE! Now that he has released all of these in one collection, a fan like me only has one thing to buy. But, I was considering doing the same thing with my short story collection for marketing and funnel purposes. He did pretty much post everything on his blog, something I tried with my hopefully soon to be released short story collection as well. I had mixed results from my posts and we shall see when it comes to sales.

 

5 Stars

 

How this book effects my writing:

While I am here toiling away with the mostly real and dark, A.Z. Anthony is creating a convincing, dark world of his own. I twist reality while he creates one.

Really, Anthony reminds me what it is like to read for pleasure again and be entertained. My wife watches these Chinese recent release, action/fantasy shows that I get sucked into from time to time.

A similar hint of lore is there. His writing is so deep but he uses less. How? I appreciate Anthony’s presence, his word choice as a narrator, and his economy of words.

Follow A.Z. Anthony on Twitter

A.Z. Anthony’s Blog

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amazon KDP Select Free Promo Days- A Case Study for Letters Never Meant to be Read

 

 

 

My last book Letters Never Meant to be Read has had me in a fever.

Yes, book marketing can take over your life, if you care to let it, and this has been quite the puzzle. My Kindle Free Promo Days start tomorrow 4/21. What to do?

I listed all of the tasks I have done leading up to the free promo. Will it work?

I don’t just want to sell copies of the Letters book, I also want Letters to come in for the next edition. Basically, I want it to be a thing. Also, because I believe in the project, I want it to be a thing sooner than later. When people read the book, they generally like it, which only adds fuel to my crazed fire.

I realized that I was throwing money away at Facebook and Amazon ads after listening to and exploring the world of Derek Murphy  on his YouTube channel and his website Creativindie.

I reviewed his work Book Marketing is Dead: Book Promotion Secrets You MUST Know BEFORE You Publish Your Book on the last post and have implemented some of his tactics with regards to the Amazon page for the Letters Book.

I hired two people on Fiverr to help with the sales copy. The first was good, the second was better, almostfreemoney. She gave me new keywords with analytics, categories, and better description copy.

Part of the new description copy included a spot for a quote from the book. This put me in a panic because I couldn’t decide. I knocked a few around, but ultimately settled on a few simple phrases that better describe what it is because the work is unconventional. I am still not happy with the description, but apparently it includes the necessary keywords for the robots. I hope.

The cover? People love the cover so I think I am good there. I like it too, but that doesn’t matter. I have received many compliments from NOT JUST FRIENDS and FAMILY, so all is well, right? I hope so.

Before, when I ran Facebook ads, I’d get a 2.5% click rate and about a 10% sales rate from there. Well, when you get 1346 Button Clicks out of 57,000 impressions, you should get some sales, right? I am no math wizard. Is that good? Am I a moron? Yes, probably in this realm.

Hell no, that is not good and it leaves me squeamish when I look at my sales rankings, the Commander of My Life right now. Here is a great article on those monsters.

The idea is that if you get your sales ranking up and people like and review your book, the ever-knowing Amazon robot will nod in your favor and start pitching your book for you. Plus, it helps to be at the top of your categories. My categories are easier that most, being a niche book, but I have clenched my teeth when I get into the top 20, only to be faded away. It is like a slow death, really.

Which leads me to reviews. These are really important as well, and I have a 10% review rate on queries sent out to reviewers. Not good either and very time consuming. I need at least ten reviews, which shouldn’t be hard, right? Wrong.

Again, following the direction of Derek, I devised a plan:

KDP Select free days for Letters Never Meant to be Read are 4/21-4/25.

Goals: Garner more Reviews and Interest in the Project (Fans and Writers).

One week prior: I ran FB ads with new copy and fiddled with the description and categories (some more). I found a blog post that discussed having Createspace keywords different from Kindle keywords. Duh? Why didn’t I do this before? I did this.

My Amazon affiliate links are all good too btw.

The FB ad at $20/day for four days generated again a 2.5% click rate with only two sales. What? I did better before I tinkered, so what then? I don’t know, moving on.

Luckily I stumbled onto kindlepreneur.com from a Google search and found a quote from Derek Murphy on his site so I knew I was in friendly territory.

I found Dave Chesson. He was in the military, like me, and I have gone back to his site like 20 times since. I used his Amazing List of Kindle Free Days Promoters , even downloaded the preferred list went to work with the form fill.

I used the following Kindle Promotion Sites:

Freebooksy.com    $40

Pretty-Hot.com  $25

eBookasuarus.com $10

bknights on Fiverr  $6

Book Bongo $29.99

Robin Reads $55

*I did a few other easy and free ones, but these are the bulk and the ones I paid for. There are some that are difficult to navigate.

Total KDP Free days Promoters: $165.99

Pre-KDP Free days FB ad: $80

Budgeted for FB and Amazon During and Post (5 days after) KDP free days: $200

Total for this promotion: $445.99 + Ongoing $75 Twitter campaign from yourbookpromoter which will adjust tweets for the KDP free days.

Will I win? Am I wasting my money? Will I get more reviews?

Stay tuned.

Time will tell. I will write another post as a result to this campaign. I at least wanted to “do some things right” and give this project a fair shake. If people truly hate it, I will continue with Volume II and press on.

This Letters project is unique because the candle burns at both ends. I want nothing more for readers to enjoy the letters, the first examples, but also Send In Their Own for future publication. Because I and my alter ego who runs Rusty Wheels Media, LLC. believe in profit sharing, it’s a Win, Win for everybody.

Incidentally, my KDP Free Days coincide with World Book Day on April, 23rd. Will that put me in good running? Who knows.

I also wanted to coincide the release of my KDP free promo days with the Kindle release of Worked Stiff: Short Stories to Tell Your Boss. A great plan, right?

Except I am having trouble with the cover design being late from Fiverr (you get what you pay for).

This is not my first business and I have had minor success. This is certainly the most challenging and the most rewarding. I love writing and reading books but I have to tackle book marketing.

If anyone who may be reading sees any flaws in my little endeavor to spend money and make something out of nothing, please comment below. Also, if you notice anything that I could adjust with my overall marketing of my books and myself, please, feel free to comment. I could certainly use the help and insight from any veterans of book marketing out there.

I am smart, but only kind of smart when it comes to this game. At times, I feel I am stumbling around, alone in the dark. Other times, I feel like I am drinking from a water hose.

Of course, all of this takes away precious time from what I really love, Reading and Writing. Still, it is a game, and I like to win. I will play this one until I do.

Thanks for your input!

-The Apprentice

 

 

Review- Book Marketing is Dead: Book Promotion Secrets You MUST Know BEFORE You Publish Your Book by Derek Murphy

 

 

I know, I am late to the party again with this 2013 release with 2016 forward but… I have a funny story to tell.

First, the Description:

How to sell a ton of books (even if you’re starting with no platform). If you’ve found this book I’m assuming you have or will soon have a book out on the market, and are exploring ways to turn it into a best-selling powerhouse that will slaughter the competition and pay for your retirement. The indie publishing world is thrilling because of the possible returns, and I hope you and your book do well. You’re probably searching for things like “book marketing” and “book promotion” so you can learn how to find readers and convince them to buy your book. But almost everything you read will be wrong.That’s because marketing in general is dead. Advertising is dead. Selling and convincing people to buy: also dead. The new law of book sales is this: if you’re talking about your book, promoting your book, sharing your book… you’re screwing it all up. Don’t make “Old School” marketing mistakes that will sabotage your efforts! This book will help you to…

  • Avoid the common mistakes that kill book sales
  • Set up an author platform quickly that will triple your results
  • Use Social Media (like an expert) without being annoying
  • Advertise for maximum impact (at the lowest cost)
  • Make powerful friends online who can move thousands of books

Before you spend a lot of money on book marketing services or author publicity… Make sure you’ve plugged all the holes in your sales funnel so you’re not throwing money away. If you’re looking for a “Bestseller Campaign” but don’t have a big budget… This book will show you plenty of ways to improve sales without spending a dime.

Now the Funny:

Over the past year, I have seen Derek Murphy on You Tube while searching in a desperate, late-night manner for help with book marketing. His awkwardness and his soothing gravel-voice always put me at ease. I took in and nodded at everything he said.

I’m a good student, I swear. After all, I learned Russian in a year from those ladies at DLI and somehow survived. But I didn’t practice what Derek Murphy preached. While I nodded, agreed, and clicked on more videos, my left hand looked for quick fixes. Those one-time bandits in the book marketing world.

About a month ago, I was on a long stakeout (I moonlight as a Private Investigator) and I had Audible credits burning a hole in my pocket. I searched “book marketing” and found this book.

I did not, however, put the author and the videos I already watched together. Perhaps because I work 3 jobs + writing. Perhaps I am my own worst enemy.

This book is a new template for my Battle Plan. Because I want Letters Never Meant to be Read to be a thing, and because I want Letters pouring in from all over the world, I needed some guidance.

What I Liked:

This book is full of the basic concepts that don’t require an attempt at bludgeoning new readers into advertised submission.

Derek Murphy talks about marketing as we know it far into the actual book. He emphasizes having your pages, cover, reviews, and author platform in place before putting any money up for advertisement.

Also, the concept of stacking marketing efforts is much easier for my military brain to understand and more clever than hoping on those one-offs.

Unlike what most people think of authors, I am an extrovert and I love to make friends.

This is a blessing and a curse. Pitching my book to people is easy in person. Where I have failed in the past with social media is blasting “Buy My Book!” type stuff which Murphy warns against. I now see how silly this is. It’s hard to stop.

Instead, I need to use my talents for making friends and be the all-around likable guy I already am. I NEED to actually meet people on the web, which is awkward for me even though I can talk on the phone for days.

I am doing this, Derek Murphy. I am out there replying to Tweets instead of re-Tweeting after reading articles. I used to read anyway, then just re-Tweet. How dumb. These are difficult habits to break.  I feel awkward sometimes, but I just remind myself that most people are real and will respond similar to what they would in person.

I am also working on my battle plan. I have a 15 short story collection coming out soon, and I will make the stars align just as Mr. Murphy suggested. I will align the free days for Letters Never Meant to be Read, I will run simple Facebook ads for my book page, and I will get reviews. Slowly but surely.

The truth is, I like it better and I get discouraged less by marching the slow ground. The easy solution that my left hand looks for, that quick fix, is always there.

In reality, there is no silver bullet to shoot off when it comes to book marketing. I know that now but I have to remember, daily. Derek Murphy explains so many pitfalls, some I have already toppled into, head-first. I feel silly, but I have to keep moving.

 

What I Don’t Like:

If you’re looking for a “Bestseller Campaign” but don’t have a big budget… This book will show you plenty of ways to improve sales without spending a dime.

Yes, it does this OK. I tallied all of his advice and you would need some chump change. If you want to do it “right” you will need a little more. Every time he mentioned a figure, I cringed when I added it to my total. Not his fault, but I am an unfortunate older millennial with 3+ jobs and “My number is negative, I work for a negative number…” 

Of course, I was looking at it through the goggles of my latest Letters Book and I know what I need to do.

Some tasks I’ve already done since reading this book, like fixing my Amazon page, optimizing keywords, and  adjusting my categories using almostfreemoney on Fiverr. Worth every penny.

I’ve signed up for MailChimp but that is as far as I’ve gone so far, sorry Derek. I HATE pop-ups and I only signed up for yours on CreativIndie because I wanted to. For the most part, I ignore my email. I KNOW that email lists are important and I will come around and find my way eventually.

I also  have a hard time with his other section on reviews. I advertised that I would do book reviews on my blog. I did not solicit or ask for  reviews in return. Most of the books I bought and I will continue to buy with Kindle Unlimited or Audible Credits unless I need an ARC to do the review.

Yesterday, I received a nastygram from Amazon with a warning about reviews which I can only assume are the ones I got from other authors or a marketing campaign. Murphy does warn about this. If authors are in the same category, you can get tripped up. I didn’t think I was in competition with any of the reviewers. The Amazon warning, which is not uncommon, doesn’t give specifics, go figure.

This is less of a knock on Derek Murphy and more of a pleading to Amazon. If I lost access to selling books, I don’t know what I would do. This is my dream, my purpose. Amazon doesn’t care and is likely ran by a robot that has no feelings. Still, I need that mean robot.

I also get the feeling from his latest videos that Derek is getting away from helping authors to work on his fiction. That’s understandable. Perhaps I am reading him wrong here, but I need him to stay with me for a little while longer, or come back someday.

How this Book Changes My Writing:

Collaboration. I am working on a psychological thriller now with AM Hounchell and it is quite exiting. I am also thinking about the next book or series in a different light. I want to write something that will market itself. For some of you that think this is selling out, I don’t care, and neither does Mr. Murphy. I want to be prolific. If that means writing what people want to read for awhile, fine. The Beatles did it, then went on to make what they really wanted. In this case, The Beatles and Derek Murphy can’t be wrong.

5 Stars

Ok. I’ve spent some time here and this is a long post. I love this book and have listened to it 2.5 times in the car and at home. I am making my battle plan and this is my manual of sorts. I will have to buy the print version too so I can circle things and make notes. Derek Murphy does mention in a more recent version that there are some things that might not be valid any longer.

I want to thank Derek Murphy for writing this book. I know he sold a bunch of copies the past four years, but he has given me hope. And that, Dear Reader, is priceless.

Derek’s site: Creativindie  Post after post of helpful guidance.

Watch Derek Murphy on YouTube

Follow Derek Murphy on Twitter @Creativindie

 

 

Check out D.S. Murphy’s latest fiction:

 

 

Buy the Reviewed Book here:

 

My Latest Book:

Book Review: The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene

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I recently read, or rather, listened to The 48 Laws of Power on audible. My friend had the physical book and I shuddered at the length in print form, but love long books for my listening pleasure in the car. Enjoy history and powerful quotes? This book is packed full of both.

I must warn you though, most people either love or hate this book. If followed directly, it may turn you into a charlatan, or a politician.

Description:

Robert Greene and Joost Elffers have distilled three thousand years of the history of power into 48 essential laws by drawing from the philosophies of Machiavelli, Sun Tzu, and Carl Von Clausewitz and also from the lives of figures ranging from Henry Kissinger to P.T. Barnum.
 
Some laws teach the need for prudence (“Law 1: Never Outshine the Master”), others teach the value of confidence (“Law 28: Enter Action with Boldness”), and many recommend absolute self-preservation (“Law 15: Crush Your Enemy Totally”). Every law, though, has one thing in common: an interest in total domination. In a bold and arresting two-color package, The 48 Laws of Power is ideal whether your aim is conquest, self-defense, or simply to understand the rules of the game.

 

Powerful Quotes from the book (There are so many)

 

“person who cannot control his words shows that he cannot control himself, and is unworthy of respect.”
― Robert Greene, The 48 Laws of Power

“Remember: The best deceivers do everything they can to cloak their roguish qualities. They cultivate an air of honesty in one area to disguise their dishonesty in others. Honesty is merely another decoy in their arsenal of weapons.”
― Robert Greene, The 48 Laws of Power

“The key to power, then, is the ability to judge who is best able to further your interests in all situations. Keep friends for friendship, but work with the skilled and competent.”
― Robert Greene, The 48 Laws of Power

 

More quotes from Robert Greene can be found and interpreted on Goodreads.

 

What I like about this book:

Historical significance. This is packed with examples from history, quotes, and famous writings. Even if you are not interested in “playing the game”, looking at history in this point of view is quite enticing. If you want to find ways to improve your life as a predator, this book will work for you too.

This is not exactly self-help but applying these tactics with historical backing could really set you apart. To a degree, I believe in this book. I think it is important to take the life lessons from history and apply them to your situation. It is also important to understand how those in power achieve it, and how they maintain. Simply ignoring power plays can leave you feeling stranded and alone. At the very least, one can find a way to watch out for the traps of others.

What I don’t like about this book:

This is for the lone wolf. Yes, it does call for socialization to achieve power, but it does not promote the aspects of teamwork. In this light, everyone is using each other. Not exactly team friendly, right? I’m not always a shark to the people I’m trying to collaborate with. Should I be?

Even though I have the ability to manipulate situations, this book does not address a group mindset unless you are the top dog. You have to be willing to assert yourself and bend the will of others to achieve your goals. What about common goals? What about teammates?

4-Stars

Robert Greene has several books of this genre and over 2000 reviews with 4.6 stars on Amazon for this book alone. Must be doing something right.

Research, I imagine all of his books take years to come to fruition and copious amounts of time spent between other people’s pages. Hats off to him and his work. While I don’t want to read this kind of book every day, I will be reading/listening to more of his work with my Audible credits in the future.

How it applies to writing:

This book is well-written and the narration is gold. This spawned some of my writing marathons the past few weeks that had nothing to do with the content of the book. It is always good to branch out and read another genre, especially a work that is crafted in this way. Might have been the narrator, but the work provoked ideas and a writing fury in me that had nothing to do with the book.

Since I have my own narrator that talks to me too much, it’s always nice when I get a change in voice for the better.

Also, as we are all now Authorpreneurs, it is important to keep a business sense as you go out there in the world. Nothing has to be taken literally, but honing in on some aspects of this book will surely keep you from getting ripped off by the book marketing charlatans, of which there are many.

A hilarious, illustrated summary of the 48 Laws can be found here on YouTube

A blog-style cheat sheet can be found here on Sam Parr’s blog 

A link to buy the book on Amazon here

She Handles the Propane

 

With so many years before us yet so little time, she grabs me, commands my attention. With her words and her eyes, she makes me stand still.

“I had a weird dream last night,” she’ll say with as much expectation for a response as I waiting for the dream. Pausing for dramatic acknowledgement, and allowing her thoughts to catch up, she fills in the gaps, her account gushes with stunning imagery. The resulting tale is always hard to distinguish between the real and the manufactured. Still, I remain enthralled by the outcome, the clairvoyance, the show.

She will cook, without meanness, without the sense of repayable duty, no malice, no hardship. Exotic smells will waft from the back door, before I even open, before I’ve had a chance to turn the key and announce. I can feel a sense of home with the new smell, the calming vibration of a home cooked meal between my teeth, warming my belly. I’ve never smelled this before or knew that I was hungry for whatever it could be. My brow sweats in reaction to something foreign and unbland, a staple in her parents’ homeland. I can feel her eyes burn my right cheek, seeing how fast I gobble, observing whether I go for seconds or no. Ever eager to please, she will offer them to me but not serve them herself, and I will want.

She could chop wood as good as any man, get the job done, and talk about how fun it was. Gnats would sip on her tiny sweat and she’d be onto the next task. With her company, I could survive the zombie apocalypse, no problem. She could kill a man without remorse, providing he had it coming.

The ability to bear any burden without such laziness or complaint at the most minor inconvenience is instinctual, cultural. Her mother’s people toiled in the fields for generations as a matter of survival, not knowing of a failed existence by modern, woeful standards.

She could find a job faster than any woman I’ve known, then obtain a second. She possesses the ability to work until her bones ache before settling into the most minor of comforts.

Her muscles are hard and smooth, capable of expected labor, set upon like thick rubber bands on that fragile and pretty frame. You wouldn’t think it to look at her, but she could bulldoze an apartment. Feminine virtues are not forgotten though. They are not thrown away by excuses of long days and petty misunderstandings between the sexes. She’ll dress up all right, using time to her advantage, taking on a shimmer and glow only rivaled by the contrasting vision of her natural beauty.

Oh how common we all look compared to that mysterious figure. People are so confused. “Where does she come from?” they ask. Even when told, they haven’t got a clue. Never has such a hybrid of the Orient joined forces with the American Pacific sunset. Her figure and attitude creates a perfect design, a mixture of old and new attitudes of feminism.

You think she has no power because she doesn’t shout the word? Because she doesn’t carry signs or demand against the laws of nature? Oh she does have great power. Ready to use and in reserve.

There is no replica. People know when they see her by my side that I have somehow managed to find a first edition. Yes, a traditional, sleek, steel design in a woman that causes the rest to only gawk in awe with a jolt of satisfaction of uncovering only a small part of the mystery.

If I went to a land with more of her, the land of her father perhaps, I would not know what to do. I would be overwhelmed by the sheer beauty amongst simple hardship. In the land of a thousand hers, I would attempt to multiply myself so I could fall madly for each of them as individuals. In the process, I would become unbound.

She understands and does not shun the demands of a husband, that wolf within the coarser sex. Instead, she discusses and throws jokes upon them openly, simplifies their meaning, makes them her own. I have no choice but to reciprocate. There is no blame for the sinister, no mocking of the frustrated anger to be released, no ignoring the perversion within us all.

Household chores are not so difficult or serious. She knows when an item has been moved, she counts with her eyes, forms patterns which I have disturbed. She could toil in a field, just as all of our ancestors, and eat upon the fine fruits with such great joy and satisfaction. Apply this principle to our motors, our flashy screens, our robots, the outcome of success is the same. Hard work in, happiness out. She knows this.

When we are on an adventure, back to where we belong, we set camp and enjoy where work is abound. She does more than her share, this comes natural without expectation other than smile and attention later. I roll through my mind in horror and loathing at all the tasks that need to be done, only to find but a few made just for me.

She handles the propane. What a wonder. I could ask for water but before the words are able to leave my parched lips, she has known from my yearning eyes. She has already trekked the miles through impenetrable forest, machete in hand, snakes waylaid, and dangers thwarted. These actions are to prove and to please, not only me, but us. She does for herself as much as for me.

She could set up the tent by herself if needed. Instead, I am her worker. She points, knows what to do. I have worn the uniform, I should know these things. I do, but I also know the chain of command.

I begin to tend the wood fire out of tradition or entertainment, but she handles the propane. She knows where to buy it and how to screw it on the stove. She is in charge of the modern version of that fiery bliss, and I haven’t got a clue.

She cooks, I learn, we both fish. She catches fish and I cheer. I worry while she has already done. I am expected to hunt, gather wood, and tend to the fire, feast and rest. I can do more, would have to if on and adventure with someone else, someone with a more “modern feminist sense”. Most of the time, she wouldn’t have it, she could do these tasks better than me anyway, with more satisfaction knowing it was done right.

She grooms me, takes away the blemishes of any day, warms my soul but she does not do my laundry. She would if I asked her. Knowing she has all the power, she still yields to my will, allows her man to stand out front. Power is unbecoming for those who demand its need. True power is already commanded, it is projected upon another to implement. She knows this too.

She takes children under her tutelage, shows them how to arrange and care for the ever growing garden. These small ladies are not hers, but they are ours. Still, she listens to them, she talks to them, caresses them, and plays with them as if they came from her own body. Ever selfless, she absorbs their pain, makes them smile.

She tells me what to do after I’ve thought about doing, but before I have taken action. This causes both known frustration and a humble smirk. I could give her two guesses, she only needs one.

We could go to Bangkok and stare at the pretty girls. We could go to St. Petersburg and marvel at the history, holding hands in our fur coats. We could sleep on a train and dine from a food cart in Madrid. She would shimmy up a tree, then cut stolen fruit in the Bahamas, her skin turning ever darker while mine screamed for another layer. Her exploration in New York would not contain panic. She would wander around at first, feeling joy and bliss at the simplest of nuance or observation. She would be an expert without a map in four days.

She will be there when I am old and look at me as if I am young. She won’t perceive what I was, rather, she will giggle at the boy trapped in the old man. She will comment on the smallest of gestures, poke fun at the strange habits, and appreciate my youthful preoccupations.

She handles the propane. What a wonder.

 

 

In Review – Letters Never Meant to be Read

REBLOG: Thank you so much for reading our collection.

Dream Village

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Letters Never Meant to be Read by Marc Crepeaux, Kristi Denker, Joel Dockery, Brandon Lawrence, Meghan Rynn
Published by: Rusty Wheels Media, LLC
Genres: Nonfiction
Pages: 107
Format: Kindle Edition

4-star


About The Book:

Sometimes angry, occasionally sad and often with humorous quotes, the authors of Letters Never Meant to be Read share their views on life with the power of the written word. In the today’s world of 3 second text messaging, emojis and Facebook, most people don’t know how to write a letter that connects with others. Imagine the effect that you could have on the object of your unrequited love, if you could express yourself through letter writing!

Letters Never Meant to be Read contains a compelling series of writings which have been created by five accomplished authors. Immerse yourself in these amazing letters and allow your full range of emotions to be experienced as you…

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Book Review: Repulsive by Brian W. Foster

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Last night, I finished reading Repulsive by Brian W. Foster. I regulated my reading of this book to the evenings before bed and this superhero tale kept me up more than a few nights of eager entertainment. I love the robe, and the fact that you can’t see the hero’s face due to his power, which causes some to be physically ill. I actually fell in line with the troubles and intrapersonal turmoil of the characters. I wanted to help them, I was engaged.

Description:

Zack Zurick loves superheroes. Lives them. Knows everything about them. And hey, he is a classic underdog and has an alliterative name, so maybe he could one day be chosen to join their ranks.

His life drastically changes when he becomes Repulsor. He’d hoped the fame and money would make Hayli see him as more than a friend. Instead, she can’t even look at him without literally getting sick. And the whole saving-the-world thing turns out to be harder than he thought, too. The villains have teamed up, and the heroes have a traitor in their midst. Zack must figure out who’s betraying them, defeat the bad guys, and, oh yeah, not get killed.

Right. Why not just go ahead and win the girl while he’s at it?

Maybe he could. If she weren’t dating the most popular, most famous, and most handsome superhero of them all. And if only he weren’t … Repulsive.  

Ok, so the description is less than stellar but I am not familiar with marketing in this genre so I do not know the expectations of presentation. I peered into this book anyway and was hooked.

The origin story of this character was great, and I was impressed with Foster’s detail when describing the hero’s superpowers. The personality is kind of like Peter Parker in high school but we don’t stay in that environment long. Zach’s powers are unique and Foster offers enough believable explanation for the reader to understand as far as the physics go. For all I know, the writer knows what he is talking about.

The fight scenes in this book were awesome. Not too much, not too little, and the timeframe between action verses drama was balanced. I had a feeling that the author was the dungeon master, and the way he allowed the action scenes to take place was almost turn based.

I did like the ending, but I didn’t like the Epilogue. I could use 3 whole books with Repulsor finding his way instead of introducing the new (and then again, not new) character but I do understand why the author made HIS decision and where he could be going with the opposite archetype.

Digital Layout: Perfect. read it on Samsung phone, Kindle Fire and Desktop.

Cover: Cool

Editing: Great

Writing: Smooth and easy. The author’s go to words bothered me by the end, the ever present “crap” and “freaking” and I could use better character names besides “Bob” and “Amber” but oh well.

This would be good among late-teens and anyone who likes visual, movie like descriptions and action, a staple in the genre. I identified with the main character and his silly jokes.

I do recommend that anyone reading this checks out the short prequel Repulsive Origins – The Captain: A Short Story either before or after. In my case, after. This gave a lot more info on how the superheroes are made.

I would like to see Repulsor and would, more importantly, buy more Repulsor books if I could watch him turn from squeamish boy hero to seasoned pro. We caught a glimpse of this character growth with every battle and I want to see him as a man.

I will also be willing to read more by Brian W. Foster and more from this genre as it is intriguing.

4 Stars

Brian’s contact info:

On the internet at http://www.authorbrianwfoster.com

On Facebook http://www.facebook.com/authorbrianwfoster

 

 

 

 

I am a Survivor-Revised Edition

Here is another sneak peak at the revised edition of the short story I am a Survivor. This will be in my next book Worked Stiff: Short Stories to Tell Your Boss. This will be out before May. Critiques and comments are warranted and welcome.

 

I am a Survivor

 

I am a survivor. No, I don’t have bumper stickers and I don’t go on the walks. I absolutely hate the color pink. I’m just not that kind of survivor. Marjorie tried to get me to go on some kind of fundraising march to nowhere one weekend, only a short time after my hair started to grow back from the radiation treatments. Sure, I registered for the walk, I paid the fee, and I even received a packet in the mail with a t-shirt. But that crisp Saturday morning when Marjorie first texted that she was on her way to scoop me up, I tried for my good friend, but I just could not make myself go. Of course, that meant that she couldn’t go either, at least she felt that way because she never had breast cancer. She tried to convince me over the phone, caressing my wits, telling me that I deserved the recognition, that there might be more people like me. More people like me, I loathed the thought.

The truth was, I didn’t want to meet anyone else like me. I wanted to forget any of it ever happened. I didn’t want to go back to work until I could at least manage avoidance of my husband Bill, and most days I couldn’t even look at myself in the mirror. I was in the bathroom one morning, Billy in the shower with the heat pouring out, covering the glass with his wretched steam. I feverishly tied the bathroom door shut with my bathrobe belt and managed to undress in front of the full-length on the backside of the door. I did not feel empowered by my survival as I looked at what was left of my body that morning, or any morning. Marjorie didn’t understand.

The problem with people around you when you’re sick is that they pretend to comprehend your level of suffering. The truth is that I never wanted anyone to care. All I ever wanted was someone to talk to me like I was normal. It made me wish that I never told anybody after I left the doctor’s office that first day.

That first day when they told me that I had a sixty percent chance of survival and that they would have to do more tests.

I thought later that maybe they didn’t tell me the sixty percent part but that’s what I heard. They told me that I had a malignant tumor the size of a key in my left breast and it was a very, very good thing that they found it then, at that exact moment. I was apparently lucky. I do not consider myself lucky and the truth, the truth that I could never tell Marjorie, was that I would rather have not known.

From the first day in the office, after my general practitioner felt a lump, I felt like I was a victim of one of those snipers in the movies on the big screen. A confirmed kill, that’s what I was. From that day, throughout the chemo, before and after the simple mastectomy, onto recovery, I truly wanted to be a survivor. I did make friends with some of the ladies there who were also getting the drip. I joined support groups before my hair started growing back, but little by little, I secretly wanted nothing to do with any of it.

Marjorie wouldn’t hear any of this sad talk, but I figured that she knew anyway. God bless her heart, she tried to do so much for me and she really cared about being there in a spiritual sense, support for my backbone. But the truth was that I had no backbone, not anymore.

Yes, I appreciated her rides when I was too weak to drive myself. I appreciated her talking to the nurses and doctors when I began to not care. She thought that I was too fragile when that simply wasn’t the case, not physically anyway. I just grew so tired of talking about me. How do I feel? How was I getting along? How is my digestion? Did I wake up in the middle of the night? How was my sex life?

Oh that, well, sex ended long before my first horrifying appointment. My sleaze ball lawyer for a husband and his 22-year-old paralegal made sure of that before they gave one of my love cups the old snip snip.

Sure, Bill was real nice when we were just coming up or should I say William S. Montgomery Esq. as he was known to his even more sleazy clients. Did I marry an injury attorney? No, of course not. I married the man that I met first, how stupid. Worse than that, I lost my virginity to him. Both my parents are dead and gone now so I am free to call them what they were, stupid zealot Catholics.

Growing up, I was what most people thought the opposite of the Catholic school girl, I actually was good. I truly believed that I was to go to hell if I did not behave. I also believed in that ridiculous princess story about saving myself for the right man. What all that religious fervor didn’t prepare me for was just what the right man looked like, acted like, how he was to speak to me. I thought when I was a freshman in college that he looked, acted and spoke like Billy. Oh Billy, with that swaying brown hair that he combed only to meet me, with that worthy smile that you could just pin down and capture.  Put that in a box and just look at it. He sure was charming alright, but William S. Montgomery was not doing any charming now, not to me anyway.

Bill was the first one that I told in a fire of foolishness. I rushed right on home, calling him all the way. He didn’t answer and I still have no idea why I expected him to pick up the phone. Sitting there, giving the urgent message to call me through my car’s Bluetooth, listening to his tacky, official voicemail greeting. That was when I knew I was alone. He could say he was in a meeting, with a client, or in court. Sure, he could say that, and did all the time. While that may have been true, I knew that at least half the time he ever gave me that line, he was porking Sandy, that little blonde heartache of a paralegal that sat out front, the gatekeeper for Billy’s office. She probably stopped wearing underwear to work after the first week, if ever at all.

I imagined him trying out his paralegals during the interview process. I could see Billy fondling them for youth, caressing their breasts, their breasts without tumors, their perky B-cups. No, perhaps he remained totally professional, an air of innocence until one late night of working and trial victory all fell into place. That’s what Billy was, a right-place, right-time man with the plausible deniability to boot.

I found out for the first time when I pinged his phone, called it too and she answered, got him to take the call and then he lumbered along, telling me some kind of excuse with a totally different location marked on the digital map. One must love modern technology and a shared phone plan.

Bill had been sleeping with Sandy, if not a few others, at least six months before that first diagnosis. He was cold to me long before, and my expectations weren’t any different after I told him I had breast cancer. No, I would’ve probably hated him even more if he promised to stop screwing Sandy and actually fell through with it. I didn’t even let him try. He told me in his lawyer tone that everything was going to be alright and that he was truly sorry and just when he started to say that he was going to stop seeing Sandy, empty promises of this and that, I held out my hand and told him to shush.

Bill thought I was looking for sympathy, just like the rest. How foolish. What I was ultimately trying to say, or rather, inform him was that I would be out for a while. Out of work, out of the house, out of life and that he would have to adjust accordingly. He replied by saying whatever you need and even tried to hug me, how sweet and what a sap.

All those people were saps. The only ones I really felt comfortable around were the nurses, especially the older, hardened ones. They had seen it all before and I wasn’t going to render any sympathy from them. For that, I was appreciative. All I ever got from those nurses had been tough love and medicine. That was all I ever needed.

I truly just wanted to give up. Just like other times in my life, finishing college, getting married, having a kid, I was just going through the motions of what was acceptable within modern society. Acceptable was getting senile. Acceptable was feeling like I wanted to die. Acceptable was losing my hair and better yet, losing one of my tits.

What I really wanted to do, after that first appointment, before ever telling anybody else about my problem, was go home, clean out all of our bank accounts and safety deposit boxes, set the house on fire and just disappear. I would take my seldom used passport and find some spot on the map where there was both sand and legal weed for someone in my condition. This was my right. It was my life, it was my tumor.

Why couldn’t I just take my tumor, left breast intact and sail off into the sunset? What the hell was wrong with that? How come the doctors and nurses didn’t give that as an option? Why wasn’t there a financial advisor after the appointment, hell along with the divorce attorney too? We could sit down and discuss my real options. Where was that box to check? Where was the form for my bucket list? Was I too young? Was forty-five too young to just step out, exit stage left?

At least I had Marjorie. I really appreciated her help but didn’t show it. She did more talking about me to other people I think than talking to me, something I hated but never told her. I knew that she meant well though. Marjorie and I talked about the affair and she was quick to give me advice on the state of my marriage. She had already been through a divorce and I was there for her, so she felt like she owed me or something. I was always interested in being there for other people in times of fright or injustice or a gun barrel or cheating. But if any of these things ever happened to me, I wanted to be like a good loyal dog, trot into the forest and be alone.

Marjorie had quite the run with her ex-husband too and I figured in the man department, neither one of us were meant for excellence. Her doctor husband had been cheating on her with an older woman, the thought of that, an older woman, can you imagine? His mistress was ten years older than Marjorie and a goddamn patient too. After the divorce and after Marjorie got nearly everything on account of one of my husband’s lawyer friends taking up her cause, her doctor man headed down a real slippery slope. Marjorie’s ex ended up getting sued for malpractice shortly after their divorce and was later found by one of their kids snorting coke off a stripper’s tits in the bathroom of a nightclub. Oh, the tangled webs we weave.

Speaking of tits, after the state-of-the-art treatment, I only had one. I remember a day or two after, when I was still laid up in bed, the first time I came out and sat on the couch and had some chicken soup, Bill tried to broach the subject of getting implants. I assumed he was on some kind of hiatus from Sandy or whatever else he was growing in his slick office. Out of a sense of posterity, he showed some type of concern for my body. He hadn’t shown that level of concern for my body in five years. Sure, we had sex during that time but not one of us was ever there. It’s difficult to say that it was his entire fault, or that he lost interest in sex with me because of me, but he must have been sleeping around for a long time. Money and power will corrupt any man.

The truth was that I lost interest in the subtle dance of our youth. Sure, I put on makeup, the same as everybody else. I wore nice dresses for an office party or anniversary. I played the part of the lawyer’s wife.  I worked out at least two or three times a week, I ate pretty healthy considering what most Americans call food these days. I was still pretty skinny too, no gray hair showed that a box wouldn’t fix. I was what most people would consider a MILF, that’s the term, right? Mother I’d like to…

The truth was that Bill didn’t lose interest in me, at least not right away, I lost interest in me. It is so cliché but I felt like there was something missing. I devoted my life to my husband, his career, our son Daniel. Our son is now in his first year of law school, a horrifying spitting image of his father.

I devoted my life and what did I get? A tumor, I got a tumor. I guess some might say that I got a big house in a nice neighborhood with no crime to speak of, a bank account that I never had to worry about, a Jaguar like I always wanted, and a walk in closet all to myself. For the people in this world that think that is justified compensation for giving my life to a sleazy, no good injury lawyer who put on the charms to my little virgin Catholic ass have got another thing coming.  Billy scooped me up with a wide shovel like a cleft of snow thrown out of the walkway and I let him.

To justify my existence by all those material things would basically label me as a whore, a prostitute begging for affection. Was I a prostitute? If I was, I was expensive. Sure, sure, I was a mother and that was important. I love our son Daniel but let’s go and cover what I accomplished. I was an instrument and I bread another identical copy of him.

Not only was Daniel following in his father’s footsteps, he spoke like his father, he smelled like his father, he drank scotch like his father, and he used the same phrasing that his father did on poor innocent women. Was this all the women were good for? A vassal for the preponderance of sleaziness? I beg to differ.

I bet nobody ever talked about this in the support groups or the walks. I bet all they ever wanted to talk about was how hard it had been, how afraid they were, how difficult it was to fit into a real bra now. How hard it was to go back.

I experienced just a taste of all of this, which was why I never made it to more of those meetings. I was never afraid, just heartbroken. I do miss my left breast but I didn’t want to go back, I was pissed.

For a while, when my hair started to grow again, all I really ended up doing was sitting by the pool. It was kind of nice. I had my Kindle. I had my morning smoothies that Greta, our new aging housekeeper would make. I listened to music and took a dip whenever I wanted. There were no mirrors by the pool. Splishing and splashing was kind of fun, it felt like summer vacation and I was a little girl again. Actually, what I really felt like was a teenager. I smoked some weed that I hid from Bill. I stayed up all hours of the night watching movies, eating ice cream. I swam and read all day and I had no inclination of ever going back to work. Life was great. I could have lasted a long time just like that.

Bill would come out in the evenings, smoking a cigar and always with his scotch. Sometimes, he would take notice of my toned body as the sun began to set. How do you wear a bikini with one breast? I didn’t care to ask. One could wear a special garment, but my C-cup right baby was just enough. I felt fine within myself, that didn’t mean I wanted to go stare at my body in the mirror and look at my empty left chest. But I felt dignified, tanned, even skinny from the chemo, and I knew I still had a nice ass and I knew that Bill was somehow curious about me. He must have known at least a little but I would never sleep with him ever again.

When I first came back from the hospital, an expensive bed was set up in the lower den which overlooked the backyard, the game room where Daniel used to play pool, watch movies, and entertain friends. I stayed put right there, even after I fully recovered, even after I could tie my hair in a small ponytail. I had better access to the pool from that room anyway.

I would have lunch with Marjorie and we would gossip, do our usual thing at Café Santa Monica, the absolute best place to get a tuna melt in a hefty pita that I’ve ever had. Even when I went through the chemo, I never lost my appetite for tuna. It was the only thing I could eat for a while. It was at Café Santa Monica where I saw him, or rather, he saw me first.

Marjorie said that a waiter assigned to another set of tables kept looking over at me. I told her she was crazy. I moved my hair behind my ear, adjusted my top and blushed anyway. I refused to wear a prosthetic which called for a few strangers looking here and there, especially when I wore a tank top like I did that day and figured it was just that, a double-take for the viewer’s satisfaction. A guess that the eyes saw what was actually missing.

His name was Edwardo. He was Dominican, young, and handsome. His shaved bald head and thin mustache gave him an out of place look as a waiter despite his youth. That first night and several others, I got a hotel room, only the finest would do.

Edwardo became a part of the luxury, an amenity that I did not care about, other than that he pleased me. He pleased me and I made him and I liked the cold, yet titillating feeling of using a man. He kissed my scar as he did my other breast and I loved him for that and only that. I cared nothing for his hopes, his dreams, or his future. I lived in the moment. I got massages by the pool, ordered Daiquiris and giggled with Marjorie and texted Edwardo when I wanted, when I felt like I could use him and steal his moments, make them my own.

I moved out and into the hotel shortly after I met Edwardo, but not because of him, I did it for me. I divorced Bill and put the squeeze on him so hard, that hidden money rained down like every day was Mardi Gras. It was all for me. Bill gave me everything I demanded, his guilt ruining his bottom line and I liked the feeling of putting the screws to him, getting what was rightfully mine and then some. I stayed at the hotel for a while until I had enough, until I felt full.

I live in the Bahamas now, the sand and the ocean and the fresh seafood with occasional joint all calm my soul, my own being. Marjorie visits, sometimes for a month at a time and we drink and laugh late into the night. I call Daniel on occasion, he even visited me once but he brought a girl, some floozy paralegal he thought he could impress by whisking away to the Caribbean.  I kindly asked him to leave and never return.

I see tourist come, tourist go. I have become a part of the scenery. I talk to some of them now and then, I take on lovers when I want and I swim, oh God do I swim. Every day, I move my arms and legs, pushing and pulling the ancient water to my will. I love the water with the fish and the crabs. The surf is there for my enjoyment.

I swim naked most of the time, letting the waves push me down the shoreline the way they do, away from my starting point, my permanently rented cottage in Abaco. When I emerge from the surf, tourists and fishermen gaze in astonishment. I show my wears, one pretty scar and one breast. I walk with purpose and not a care back to my towel left quietly on the sand. The towel always looks different when I come back. Saltwater returns to the ocean, dripping off my tanned, powerful legs. I just smile at them all and wave.