Multiple Enthusiasms

Infinite jest. Excellent fancy. Flashes of merriment.

Tag: fiction (page 1 of 2)

A year ago today, I began to serialize Meets Girl, then published it in paperback and on Kindle over the Thanksgiving holiday, three weeks into its serialization. I refrained from writing about it for a couple of reasons, the most major being that I didn’t want to spoil anything for anyone. However, given that a year–give or take–has passed, I feel the statute of limitations on spoilers has expired.

So I thought I’d take a moment to write about it. If you haven’t read it yet, pick it up here, for Kindle or in paperback, and come back.

If you have, more after the jump.

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Part II

All Our Yesterdays

“It is utterly beyond our power to measure the changes of things by time. Quite the contrary, time is an abstraction at which we arrive by means of the changes of things.”
-Ernst Mach

“Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change those I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
-Traditional Gaelic prayer

“The sole purpose of history is to be rewritten.”
-Oscar Wilde in “The Decay of Lying”

“I believe that every right implies a responsibility; every opportunity an obligation; every possession, a duty.”
-John D. Rockefeller


Every hair on Chance’s body had tensed as if it planned to jump from its follicle, and goosebumps singed up his back and around his arms and legs. Even his lips tingled.

The lightning blazed the sky around it electrostatic blue-white, which faded first to purple, then indigo, and then finally into darkness. Raindrops like crystal pebbles filled the air, and a giant smoke cloud, highlighted by orange flame, smudged the night where Chance’s house had been.

Hanley, Geisel, and Nazor all stood paused in the street like mannequins, pointing their guns at each like characters in comic-book panels, their faces stunned, angry. A tiny burst of white clung to the muzzle of Hanley’s gun, and a thin curlicue of smoke like a prehensile tail trailed upwards from it without ever moving at all.

Chance took everything in without ever moving his head. His gut had clenched, his hands bunched into frightened fists, and his whole body had locked up tight, not like it couldn’t move but rather like he was too petrified.

“What’d you do?” he whispered. He barely moved his lips when he did so, and he didn’t turn his head to look at her.

When she spoke, her voice shook between awed, desperate, defensive, and apologetic. “I had to. Everything you said would happen was—I needed to think.”

“So what, you paused time?” His attention focused on the millions of frozen raindrops, each like a glass bead. “Can we move? Is it safe?”

“Should be.”

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I mentioned the primary reason Inside the Outside came to my attention was that its author, Martin Lastrapes, contacted me personally after I commented on a post he wrote. His contact came at a serendipitous moment; I’ve never really run interviews with authors before, but I’ve been corresponding with pen monkey extraordinaire Chuck Wendig, who offered me an interview spot on his site to help with promoting The Prodigal Hour. In addition to writing a ridiculous amount of material and posting every day to his site, Chuck is also a new father, which is to say I sent him answers to the questions he posed but it’ll probably be a couple more weeks yet before he runs it.

Point being, given that Chuck’s generosity, when Martin emailed me, I decided to pay it forward. I downloaded his book and agreed to take part in his web tour. So without further ado, an exciting interview with Martin Lastrapes:

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New to the story? Start here.

Geneva, Switzerland. October 31, 2001.

Conseil Internationale pour la Recherche Temporel et Nucleaire
(CIRTN, pronounced ‘certain’).
The Safe.

Hundreds of meters below the Operations Center, Leonard strode across the Schrodinger Chamber at the core of the Large Hadron Collider. Behind him, the Safe looked like a gunmetal cigar resting on its unlit tip, rising twenty feet before its tapered top intersected with the bottom of a down-pointing, porcelain white cone. Because the entire room was brilliant white as a laser-treated smile, its exact dimensions were elusive; its only visible feature besides the semi-cylindrical chamber was a small, dark-glassed screen next to a large door.

Leonard placed his palm on the screen, and a bright blue laser scanned his palm. It sped his fingerprints through CIRTN’s electronic databases before the door next to it whirred open. Leonard stepped through, into a long, white corridor where a man wearing the CIRTN uniform, khaki fatigues and dark shoes, waited.

The man half-raised his arm to salute, but paused at Leonard’s outfit. “Lieutenant Kensington,” he said, with an accent Leonard couldn’t identify.

“At ease,” Leonard said as he strode past.

The man fell into step behind him. “Grand Marshall Atropos asked me to brief you,” he said. “I’m Private Madison—.”

Leonard nodded. “There’s a problem.”

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New to the novel? Start here.

Chance awoke to bumps and shudders, a wailing, backward-rushing cacophony and the furtive rustle of crinkling plastic. Something clung over his nose and mouth, and pain throbbed in his head. His first thought was of his father and the gunman. His first emotion was panic. His first action was to sit up as he reached toward his face, where his fingertips brushed a mask.

Quick movement. A man to his left crouched over him. He wore a crisp, white shirt with a gold-and-black patch and put a latex-gloved hand on Chance’s chest. “Take it easy.”

“My dad.” Chance’s breath fogged the mask. His voice didn’t make it past the plastic.

“We’re taking you to County.”

Chance tried to rise, but the man pressed back against his chest, whispered something about sedation if necessary, and then, when Chance wouldn’t calm down, when Chance couldn’t calm down, made good on the warning. Chance felt a pinch near his elbow, looked down to see a clear plastic syringe with numbers on its side jammed to its hilt into his arm. He didn’t see the man depress the plunger, only felt calm, warm indifference spread like infection through his body before he sank slowly again into the darkness.

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New to the novel? Start here.

Southwark, England. 1606.

The first public performance of Shakespeare’s
The Tragedy of Macbeth


The Globe Theater was exactly as Leonard Kensington had expected: an open-air amphitheatre with three levels of gallery seats looming up and over him. Crushed hazelnut shells on the ground didn’t quite mask the body odor of 2,000 people who lived in a society that hadn’t yet discovered underarm deodorant.

Onstage, Richard Burbage, as Macbeth, began the fifth act to conclude the play. “Hang out our banners on the outward walls,” he pointed out over the audience as if he were seeing Inverness, and so the Globe pretended it was a centuries-old castle in Scotland, the river Thames pretended it was Ness. “The cry is still, ‘They come.’ Our castle’s strength will laugh a siege to scorn. Here let them lie till famine and the ague eat them up. Were they not forced with those that should be ours, we might have met them dareful, beard to beard, and beat them backward home.”

The quantum implant in Leonard’s temporal lobe began to buzz. He squeezed his earlobe, quietly cleared his throat, which meant: wait. He looked around at the people standing beside him, all of whom were enthralled by that big man on the stage and his words.

Backstage, and so in the bowels of Castle Inverness, several women screamed. Macbeth turned toward the sound. “What is that noise?”

“It is the cry of women, my good lord,” Will Shakespeare, playing Macbeth’s attendant, Seyton, answered. Shakespeare was a small, pale man with fine features and quick, lively eyes. He hurried offstage to investigate.

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“It is not unknown to me that many have been and still are of the opinion that the affairs of this world are so under the direction of Fortune and of God that man’s prudence cannot control them; in fact that man has no resource against them. For this reason, many think there is no use in sweating much over such matters, but that one might as well let Chance take control.”

-Niccolo Machiavelli, in The Prince


Part I

Present Fears

“Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute, there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.”
-T.S. Eliot, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”



Chance Sowin hoped only for a new beginning.

Halloween 2001 found Chance driving the narrow streets of the development in which he’d grown up, headed home. Six weeks before, he’d hustled out the main entrance of the World Trade Center only an hour before it fell, taking all that business and life, along with Chance’s temp job at a law firm, down with it.

Chance hadn’t been sure what to do next. His father, Dennis, had suggested he come home. “Take some time,” his father had said. “Sort yourself out. All the time you need.”

Chance had been uncertain about it until he’d realized there was no longer anything keeping him in Manhattan, and familiar sounded good. Familiar sounded just about right. And so he’d packed everything he owned into a compact rental car and taken the Jersey Turnpike south, and now he pulled that car to the curb in front of his childhood home, a long, flat rancher. He squeezed the steering wheel as he took a deep breath, as if to steel himself, though for what he didn’t know, and then he got out of the car and stepped up the curb and was struck by déjà vu like sudden density goose-prickling up his neck: You’ve been here before.

Of course he had: he’d grown up here, after all, played stickball at the foot of the cul-de-sac, even tripped and busted his baby teeth on the very same curb he stepped up, but what crawled his skin was not simple familiarity. It was stronger, stranger, and it made the world seem hyper-intense, the October leaves speckling the lawn more vibrant, the afternoon light more glaring. It persisted as Chance crossed his lawn, until he saw the front door: brief space between the edge of the door and its jamb, wood splintered where the deadbolt had broken. Chance felt two simultaneous emotions collide.

First: uncanny familiarity—of infinite broken doors on infinite splintered days, over and over again—followed then, as lightning by thunder, by cold, brutal fear.
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“Blues’n How to Play’em” is the second (other) of my stories from the Sparks collection I published with Simon Smithson that I’m now making available individually for anyone who missed that limited-edition collection.

It was one of the most challenging stories I’ve ever written for a couple of reasons, not least of which was that it’s written in a Blues-y patois.

I realized when writing about “Struck by the Light of the Son” that both it and “Blues’n How to Play’em” began their lives as two-page stories based on Janet Fitch’s writing prompts. I know that I wrote an early draft of “Struck by the Light of the Son” as a story for the “fret” prompt; I can no longer recall the word for which I handed in what later became “Blues’n How to Play’em.” I do remember that the prompt was just an excuse; I’d already started the story a couple of times.

Honestly, I no longer remember the inspiration for the story. I know I workshopped it a few times, both at USC and in one of the myriad writers’ groups I once-upon-a-time found and joined on MySpace.

Wow that seems like eons ago.

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When Simon Smithson and I published Sparks, the deal as we had discussed it always included a 6-week clause. When Sparks did so well at the outset–flying up the Amazon rankings in multiple categories and hanging in as a “Hot New Release” over Christmas–we briefly discussed keeping it live longer, but ultimately decided against it.

I think it was the right decision for Sparks. The 6-week window introduced an element of scarcity it didn’t otherwise have.

Digital publishing, however, seems to favor what many businessfolk call the long tail and I like to call the long game, mainly because even though I (mostly) have an MBA, I still like to play.

Now, just a week or so ago, Amazon announced a new Kindle Singles program, which Wired hailed as a beacon to “save long-form journalism.” Basically, it’s Kindle-original content that’s longer than a magazine piece but “much shorter than a novel,” clocking between 5,000 and 40,000 words, it seems. According to Wired. According to that press release, the lengths hew to approximately that midpoint.

I liked the idea. When I first published Entrekin, I used Lulu to implement what I called the iTunes publishing model; the collection was available, but each individual story was available as a 99-cent PDF.

It was a rousing success. It sold way more copies than I’d ever expected. When I made the digital content free, the downloads skyrocketed.

And now that Sparks‘ time has passed, and now that Amazon has announced this Kindle Singles–which is pretty much exactly the model I implemented nearly four years ago–well, it felt rather natural to published both of my Sparks stories the same way.

So I’m going to, and I’m going to start with “Struck by the Light of the Son,” and I thought, hey, what a great opportunity to talk about it a bit.

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So, how about Monday’s final chapter of Meets Girl? With the kissing and all? I don’t think I’m spoiling too much if I tell you that chapter thirteen is actually “Kissing Veronica Sawyer,” because how could our young hero narrator resist rhapsodizing about said making out?

Of course, if you want to read it, you’ll have to pick it up here. It’s still only $2.99. I’m keeping it there for the time being. I figure anyone who buys it right now has been following along, and keeping it inexpensive is my way of saying thanks for keeping up.

At this point, it doesn’t look like I’ll be posting any more of the story online. I mean, I won’t rule it out, if someone asks to run an excerpt or something, but here and now I like the cliffhanger, and really, three bucks for the rest of the story–which is really picking up–is a total bargain.

Already, it’s been a solidly positive experience. Reviews are good: Shannon Yarbrough of The LL Book Review said “So it’s romance and fairy tales. But it’s magic and whimsy too. It’s a writer’s lament and a coming-of-age tale (for lack of a better cliché.) It’s experimentation and taking chances. It’s poetry and music. It’s love and art. Boy says so himself…”

Which I thought was great. I liked that Shannon called it a coming-of-age tale, because while the hero-narrator of the story is in his mid-twenties, he still seems pretty immature, for the most part, for most of the story.

And there is a solid chunk left. Somewhere around twenty thousand words.

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In which certain things, which may or may not already have been obvious, are, if not revealed, at least made explicit

(the story so far)

where I found waiting for me a letter. The envelope addressed to me in my own writing.

Crash course: back when the events of this story took place time, aspiring writers would query their aspiring manuscripts (whose dreams are to be bound into real, honest-to-goodness books that will be shipped to real, honest-to-goodness bookstores, where they will be placed on real, honest-to-goodness shelves from which they will one lucky day by plucked by real, honest-to-goodness readers) to prospective agents by mail. As I record this at this very moment, many agents have switched to using e-mail, and who knows what tomorrow will bring (hopefully this very story will have something to do with whatever happens next)? The first time I wrote all this, nobody’d ever heard of Kindle or digital distribution.

Nowadays, I can read books on my Android-powered smartphone.

Back then, however, was different. Back then, writers had to use the good ole’ United States Postal Service to send literary agents query letters, and given that many agencies received hundreds, if not thousands, of queries every week, they simply couldn’t possibly keep up with the price of return postage, so writers had to include self-addressed stamped envelopes with their paper queries.

(Quicker crash: a literary agent acts on behalf of authors to negotiate publishing contracts with publishing houses.)
I mention all this so you understand why I was so excited to receive a letter addressed to me in my own handwriting; I’d included that very same envelope in the query I’d sent to Merrilee Heiftetz only a week or so before.

It may not be possible to open one of those letters calmly. Too many of us writers associate too much of our identity with our words and the possibility of the publication, and each new letter brings with it the blackjack rush of a gambling high: not the euphoria of winning but rather the uncertain glee of going all-in on a straight flush. That gut-clenching, icy feeling of knowing how much rides on the current hand.

Me, my hands have always shaken. Every time I have one of those moments—which don’t come often—I try to remain calm but never succeed. I know they shook, then, as I withdrew from the envelope a single, twice-folded sheet of high quality paper, thick and off-white. Fountain pen letter head, business address, and, below—

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I haven’t yet mentioned here: Exciting Books is doing well. Like, really well.

Like, bestseller-dom well.

The still-new reality of Amazon and a current literary marketplace is staggering. Used to be, bestsellers were determined by pretty much one place, and one place only: the New York Times. The infamous grey (or is it gray?) lady? The venerated bastion of journalism and culture, the heights to which every author aspired. Theirs always was the list to be on.

I’m not saying this is changing.


Do you go to the paper for your news any more?

I don’t. I can’t remember the last time I even saw an actual newspaper I wasn’t picking up solely to throw away. Though I did download an issue of The Washington Post to my Kindle. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

If I want news–real, right now, happening-outside-my-window news–I come here. Well. Not here. Not to my site. I used to post, sometimes, about news, and mean to start again, but obviously not right here.

No, I come online. I come to dot-coms. CNN and MSNBC. I come, in fact, to Twitter, to see what’s trending.

Right now.

Which is why I think cracking the Amazon bestsellers list may be even more relevant than hitting the grey lady. Especially considering Sparks, a Kindle-only publication.

I don’t know how the NYT ranks its list, nor what figures it bases its tabulation upon. I know that it doesn’t include every sale in America; that’d be impossible.

For a newspaper.

Not for Amazon, though.

When Sparks broke the top 50 on Amazon, it legitimately meant that, right then, Sparks was selling more at a faster rate than other books. It wasn’t select bookstores. It wasn’t a sampling. It wasn’t a pre-tabulated list merely being confirmed.

It was in real time and based on real sales.


And speaking of sales:

Did you just get a new Kindle? Do you have an iPhone? An iPad or iPod? Any Android device? How about a PC or Mac?

Most importantly, do you like good books? Or know someone who does?

If so, you can take advantage of the Winter 2010 Exciting Books Fire Sale. Because that’s what you get when you apply sparks to kindle.

For the next few days, while I’m sitting around a fire with my faithful friends who are dear to me gathered near to me once more, Exciting Books is slashing its Kindle prices. Are you looking for stories for your new Kindle? Are you looking for something to read on a long weekend off? Have you had your fill of nog and ham? Ready to kick back, relax, and fall asleep next to the fire with your Kindle in your lap?

You need Sparks. Every Kindle does.

You also need Entrekin and Meets Girl.

So for the next week, for the low-low price of just 99 cents, you can experience Exciting Books. You can read fiction that inspires and thrills. You can read the sort of book that isn’t just going to stay with you but is going to make you want to approach a friend and say, “Hey, you know, I read these cool stories the other day.”

Exciting Books has a mission, and that’s it: to be the stories you want to share.

So this holiday season, fill your Kindle with Sparks and Exciting Books. Share Sparks and Exciting Books with those same friends who are dear to you, whether they are gathered near or not. Because Amazon and Kindle have a great, new function: you can gift a book to your friends. Just use the one-click.

Here’s Sparks.

Here’s Meets Girl.

Here’s Entrekin.

Christmas at the Sawyers

Comin’ on Christmas, people decorating their trees. I printed out my newly finished manuscript I had dedicated to Veronica and jammed it into the backpack I wore across midtown Manhattan as I made my way to Port Authority to catch a Greyhound home. One of those slate-grey, nondescript buses down the Jersey Turnpike blur the spindly trees along the side of the highway, all the way back to my hometown by way of connections and cars, at which point I called Veronica to ask if we could meet up, because I had a serious surprise for her. I guess she could hear in my voice how eager I was to see her, and perhaps even that I had specific reasons for being so eager. She told me she didn’t have much free time, but I could attend Christmas Eve mass with her family.

Perhaps that’s the most you need to know about Veronica: not that she is beautiful, though she is; nor what she studied; nor what she’s accomplished since college; nor any other thing, because perhaps nothing will tell you so much as that Veronica Sawyer is the kind of girl for whom you attend Christmas Eve Mass at midnight. It’s the crowded mass, full of not just the fervent but also all the people who go to church solely on Christmas and Easter. I can’t tell you I was among the faithful; by then, I’d swung closer to agnostic, which was a major step in my own spiritual evolution—finally accepting that I didn’t know all the answers was slightly out of character for me. I had grown up attending Catholic schools but had transferred out on the first day of my junior year, after which I’d swung hard enough the other way that other people might call it over-compensating, filling my days and studies with classes about cold, hard, rational science and the kind of philosophical discussions that excluded God in favor of morals and “quality.”

But Veronica told me I could meet her at the mass and then return, with her, to her family’s house, where she and Tom would be up until the wee hours, wrapping presents over hot chocolate and Christmas tree cookies. I wrapped the manuscript folder I’d bought in my mother’s leftover wrapping paper and set it on the front seat of my car as I drove to the church and then, afterward, her house.

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Over at Amazon, Meets Girl gets its first-ever review. Five stars. “Catcher in the Rye meets Macbeth.” “Smart, unpretentious, and funny.”

I’m thrilled that the first review of my first novel came from a reader who gave it five stars. Hell of a way to begin one’s career as a novelist. Really, also, kind of appropriate given Meets Girl‘s themes. Meets Girl eBook: Will Entrekin: Kindle Store.

From Simon’s copy:

A sleepless traveler; a blues player who ain’t got soul. A lovelorn young man; a rising son. In the four short stories of Sparks, writers Will Entrekin and Simon Smithson bring you these characters and their journeys, over and through the streets and cities of the USA. Sparks contains a quartet of literary tales; of chasing dark dreams and falling sick with love, of trying to keep a house together and hoping just to get back

Introducing Sparks! The collection of four pieces of short fiction from Simon Smithson and Will Entrekin, published by Exciting Books, available for six weeks only, on It’s a collection of stories about travel and loneliness, music and blues, love and alcohol, and family and frustration. And I guarantee that it will fix anything you’ve ever been sad about, ever, although that’s by no means guaranteed.


You’ve read what we’ve said about paradigms shifting, the changing of publishing and distribution. We haven’t mentioned the fetishizing of dead wood bound in cloth. We haven’t talked much (lately) about how bassackwards the business model of most corporate publishers is. I’ve stopped talking about Sarahs and vampires.

Because this is bigger. This is better.

This is Sparks. This is six weeks, four stories, two authors, aiming at 1,111,111 ebooks.

Simon’s a great writer (and I hope he’d say the same of me). His two stories are terrific, redolent as they are of air travel and gin. He’s the sort of writer who doesn’t tell you a story so much as allow you entrance into a new experience, and that is such a rare and bold talent to have.

So Sparks.

It’s here, for your purchasing pleasure. For a buck. So buy one for yourself and buy one for any of your friends.

Because it’s on Kindle. Which is on everything. You don’t need a Kindle. Do you have an iPhone, or an iPod, or an iPad? You can get the Kindle app from iTunes. It’s in the Android Marketplace for your Android Device. It’s on Blackberry. It’s on PC and Mac.

And like any scout worth his salt knows, the one thing kindle needs is sparks.

That’s how you start the fire, after all.

We hope you like it, and we hope you’ll share it.

And Hell, why not attend our Facebook event while you’re at it?

Please, allow me to introduce myself. I hope you guess my name.

If you don’t, it’s Simon Smithson. I’m a co-writer of Mr. Entrekin’s from The Nervous, the online literary magazine that features authors from around the world. It’s a cool thing.

Will and I met on Myspace, originally, years back. We were part of a writing and editing group called Writers Who Don’t Suck, which, suffice to say, was a fairly ironic name. It was a busy hive of emo kids who wrote bad poetry about being tormented, misunderstood, and just waiting for the vampire who would see the real them, middle-aged sales reps who wrote bad fiction about assassins and snipers (so many assassins and snipers. You have no idea. If the assassin was a woman, it was a given that at some point she would survey her own breasts critically in the mirror), and twenty-somethings with a badly-disguised grudge against an ex or current (and soon-to-be-ex) boyfriend, girlfriend, or lover (and, on one memorable occasion, all three).

There was also, as a saving grace, a core group of writers who cared about literary merit, good editorial practice, and getting better at their craft. They were easy to pick, and Will was one of them. We tended to stick together, and one of the discussions we usually had was about the changing face of the business, and how the very existence of WWDS was something that would have been impossible in earlier times. This whole electronic world was undiscovered country, and the opportunities it yielded for networking, co-authorship, and writing groups were new and exciting.

Fast forward to 2010, and we’ve moved far beyond that. The Kindle and the iPad are grappling for a killer chokehold in the field of e-publishing, people are (once again, as they do every time anything happens in the world ever) predicting the death of the book, and the publishing industry, if reports are to be believed, is staffed entirely by a Keystone Kops-esque cabal of panicky idiots who are running shrieking through the halls of their golden palaces, terrified that Amazon is hiding in the closet and scrambling to steal all the computers before they go out of business forever.

In an era like this… two guys like Will and I can really clean up.

Which is why it’s my pleasure to introduce Sparks, the debut collection of stories by Messrs. Entrekin and Smithson from Exciting Books. Four pieces of short fiction, two apiece, available only on the Amazon Kindle platform, for six weeks only, from December 15, 2010, until January 26, 2011. It’s got a sale price of .99 cents. I think the stories are good, and if I were you and I had a Kindle, I’d pick up a copy.

Oh, and also, we’re going to be doing our damndest to sell 1,111,111 copies.

Why? Because we can.

The game has, officially, changed. Johannes Gutenburg never saw days like this coming; if he did, I would have asked him to write a foreword. These days, the role of the publisher is more dispensable than ever before. Authors can – and do – distribute their work directly to the reading public, because the delivery system has been put in place by Amazon, by iTunes, by this wonderful thing called the Internet. No one’s really sure which way is up at this point, but I believe there will always be a market for good fiction.

I’m also really curious to see if we can.

Our gameplan is this: the first day, we’re hoping to sell one copy. That’s it, that’s all, just one. The first week, ten. The second week, a hundred, and the third week, a thousand.

You can see where we’re going with this.

The stories are diverse in scope; music and travel and love and family are all themes, as is fate and choice and humanity. I’m proud of mine, as I hope Will is of his. What’s next is to see if we’ re right about the market – in this day and age where electronic dissemination has changed how we absorb music, news, TV, and gaming, what’s the next move for literature? Sparks is designed for the Kindle; the pieces are short fiction. Sparks is available only on the Kindle, and nowhere else. It’s the product of two guys who want to see what they can do in a world of exciting new opportunities, and we hope you’ll join us for the ride.

Chapter Six, in which I finish a novel, get drunk, fall in love with Veronica again, buy a tattoo, and finish up the first act, pretty much all at once (though perhaps not necessarily in that order)

Because that’s just about what happened. That woman brushed aside the curtain to allow me entrance back into the foyer, where Veronica looked up and asked: “Already? I thought you’d take longer.”

I didn’t think much of her question then.

The woman chuckled and ushered us out of her home as she admonished me that my fortune and reading were mine and mine alone; I could share them if I so chose, but nothing required me to do so. She told me, too, that if I chose to tell anyone, I should choose those people carefully.

Veronica and I walked back toward the mall, where my car was still parked, and I attempted to tell her about the reading, but she stopped me. “You heard her. That was yours. Maybe you should keep it for yourself for a while. Besides, what’s really important is what you’re going to do.”

I considered that, the woman’s talk of choices and changes. I would’ve given anything for that threesome.

“I think you should finish your novel.”

I didn’t respond.

“What else are you going to do? You’re just going to stick what you’ve written in some drawer and forget about it just because it’s a little tougher than you thought it was going to be? I think we both know that’s bullshit. You’re all paid at your apartment, so I think you should take the next couple of weeks to finish it. And when I say finish it, I mean do it right. I’m not talking about just writing on and on until you hit a spot where you can type ‘the end.’ I mean finishing it like a sprinter just totally shattering the world record at the Olympics, the kind of finishing where people aren’t like, ‘Well, he won,’ but where they’re like, ‘Sheeit, I didn’t realize a dude could go that fast.’ That’s the kind of finished I think you need. And you know your novel deserves it.”

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Which may or may not reveal my fortune, or my heart’s content, but certainly contains a first-act gun above a mantle

It was like walking into an alternate dimension.

If you had asked me what I expected while I’d stood in the curio-foyer with Veronica, I’m not sure what I would have guessed. Nothing much after having seen that other room; mismatched furniture, a threadbare rug, an old coffee table. Something ordinary, the kind of sitting room you grew up in, the kind of living room your great-aunt had, perhaps with plastic covers on the furniture.

Instead: a hall grander than I would have imagined and larger than seemed possible, given the dimensions of the house Veronica and I had entered. A marble floor with a deep, dark rug that could only have come from Persia, so intricate I would have believed it had taken several generations to handweave. A large, rough-hewn stone fireplace, in which crackled away bright orange flame that smelled like autumn and above the mantle of which rested a large, antique rifle—

If a gun is on a mantle in the first act, it must go off in the third.

with a coal-black barrel and mahogany finish. Solid, dark wood rafters decorated the high ceiling in even intervals; I could have believed we’d just crossed the pond to end up in a castle in Scotland.

“Wow, it’s—,” I started to say, turning back toward the beads, but the woman pulled me farther in. Two burgundy leather chairs in front of the fireplace, between them a small table that looked as if it had been carved centuries before.

“It’s home. Come, sit,” she ushered me toward one of the armchairs as she sat opposite me. “Let’s get to know each other,” she said, as reflections of orange flame danced in her eyes, so lucid that I could have believed they weren’t actually reflections at all.

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The presale for Meets Girl went so successfully for physical copies I thought I would do one for the digital ones, as well.

At first, I wasn’t sure how. The presale copies were signed (and, where desired, inscribed), and included a tarot card. But it’s not like I can sign a digital copy. And including a bonus poem, or something?

But then I started seeing all the Black Friday deals. The door-busting events. We all know people will start lining up at 4 am to buy socks at Walmart.

Is it just me, or does door-busting sound frightening? And heck, don’t forget, I’m the writer who likes to blow shit up. I will be avoiding retail locations from now until Christmas. I’ll purchase any Christmas gifts online.

And then Amazon announced it was giving people the ability to give Kindle books as gifts to anyone they’d like.

I’m sure you see where this is going.

So, you early adopters, you better readers who want to give the people you love great books this holiday season, now you can: you can buy it right here, from Amazon, for the insanely low price of 99 cents.

That’s a full-length novel for less than a dollar.

The Kindle sample includes the first two chapters (or so).

The chapters so far posted are collected here for your convenience.

So seriously, what are you waiting for? For one dollar, you can give a copy to everyone you love, resting assured in the knowledge that it’s a high quality, professionally edited, optimally designed novel written by a guy who knows prose well enough to have taught it in colleges. For, like, a third the price of a cup of coffee, you can give someone a book they’ll never forget.

Heck, for that price, you can buy a copy for everyone you know and not even feel bad about treating yourself to one, as well. Because it’s been a long year, after all, and you deserve it.

Meets Girl and its preorder is not the biggest news in books and writing this week.

I know! I’m as surprised as you are.

No, but seriously, I do hope you’ve been enjoying the serialization, and I hope you’re looking forward to launch day as much as I am. Or maybe even more; I’m looking forward to it with equal measures of excitement, hope, and terror. Especially considering that I’m a totally unknown writer, and especially especially given that what I’m doing flies against the conventional, the traditional, the Way Things Are Done.

Because let’s face it, this ain’t it.

The Way Things Are Done right now, really, is simple: if I wanted to go the conventional, traditional route I’d write up a nice, succinct query letter, and I’d go to Twitter and Agent Query dot com and literary agents’ websites, and I’d read their guidelines and I’d choose, say, ten agents to send that query letter, and the first chapter of Meets Girl, to. After which point, I’d hurry up and wait. I’d try to forget I’d sent anything out, because remembering so is a sure path to crazy, but mostly I’d be waiting for rejection emails if I got any responses at all, because so many agents, nowadays, don’t send them.

I’d do that because so many publishers–most especially the big six, but every day, others, too–don’t accept unagented manuscripts. Like there’s some sort of vetting. Kept gates, the theory goes.

Used to be–once upon a time–I followed that path, those rules. I queried out The Prodigal Hour, and before that Twilight Brilliance.

And maybe–onceuponatime–that system worked. It worked then, I sheepishly admit, because though I plan to do the same thing with The Prodigal Hour that I’m doing with Meets Girl, that’s only because I rewrote and revised and rewrote it again until it was actually a good novel.

You’ll probably never see Twilight Brilliance. Even my editrix had to wheedle and cajole it from my old hard drive.

But now?

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Some great entries to the Meets Girl contest. Also, some private comments from people who would have entered but didn’t want to share their stories of unrequited love, whatever the reason.

Because it takes some guts to do it. Takes some guts to put yourself and your story out there like that, for all the world to see.

I might know a little something about that.

In the spirit of the moment, I decided that everyone who entered gets a signed copy of Meets Girl, as well as an exclusive Deviant Moon tarot card. Just one, from a deck that’s been used. A deck I’ve used myself, in fact.

The copies are ordered.

In fact, more than those copies are ordered.

Want one?

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Maybe it’s because I worked for more than a year as a broadcast production assistant at Young & Rubicam, but I find the relatively new popularity of so-called “book trailers” in the publishing world fascinating. I bunny-quote “book trailers” because really, they’re not actually that, and neither are previews in front of movies. People called them “trailers,” originally, because they actually trailed movies and played at the end.

But then Hitchcock and Psycho came along. Hitchcock didn’t want the ending of Psycho spoiled, so he decided audiences couldn’t walk in halfway through the movie. Before then, one could buy a ticket, walk in to any showing, stick around for the end, and then wait until it started over to catch whatever you’d missed.

I like to call them teasers. Because I like to tease.

So here’s another tease of Meets Girl, a little more elaborate than the first one. Hope you dig it.

Meets Girl Teaser Two

“Once upon a time, I fell in love with a girl who didn’t love me in return.”

New York City, circa 2006. A young man lucking into any temp job he can while following his dream to be a writer. A dream girl and a bad case of unrequited love (is there any other kind?).

If the story ended there, it wouldn’t be extraordinary. It would be just another tale from the big, bad, glorious city; just another romance that never was; just another friendship that never got the chance to be anything more.

But the story doesn’t end there.

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Completing the MBA homework I needed those laddering interviews for made me think a lot about attention. How we get it and to whom we give it, and why. Every once in a while, I’ll make disparaging comments about some author or other–usually Stephenie Meyer or Sarah Palin. Lately, James Franco.

I make those remarks, of course, because I’m jealous. It’s the frustration of a still-emerging writer scared shitless of never making it, for whatever ‘it’ means. The fear of a newb that all the fancy education and writing learning and multiple novels will never get the attention I’ve always thought they deserve.

And of course they don’t. Because nothing really deserves attention. Attention has to be earned.

Which, I think, is where a lot of the frustration with Meyer and Palin and Franco comes in. As a writer, I don’t get the fascination, the quality people find, but maybe I’m approaching it with the wrong idea. Do Meyer’s and Palin’s readers go to those women’s books seeking depth of thought and lucidity of prose?

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First, a big thanks to anyone who filled out a survey. It helped me out a great deal, both in terms of my class and in terms of my plans.

Second, if you haven’t by now watched the teaser video for Meets Girl in the previous post, go ahead and do so now.

I tweeted a picture of the cover, and then posted this video. A lot of questions came up, most of which boiled down to “All right, it’s pretty, and I’m excited, now how do I get the damned thing, Will? You’re killin’ me, Smalls!”

The answer is simple:

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YouTube – Teaser for Meets Girl, by Will Entrekin.

When I first researched graduate school, what seems like all those years ago, one of the first things I did was order books from faculty members at every institution that caught my interest. Some great programs, like Johns Hopkins and Iowa, I had dismissed early because they hadn’t seemed to jibe with my direction, which left places like North Carolina and somewhere in Arizona. I don’t remember all the institutions, and only a few of the authors.

I didn’t have to do that this time around. This time around, NYU came to me with the same certainty as USC; all that’s left is getting in.

Which meant I felt I should familiarize myself with some of the work of some of the faculty members, the stand-outs of whom include E.L. Doctorow and Jonathan Safran Foer. Neither of whom I’ve ever read. Nothing against them, just never seemed like my thing; I’d rather read Neil Gaiman and Harry Potter and Joe Hill, most of the time. For me, the novels whose scope doesn’t stretch much beyond characters coping with ordinary lives have never really excited me so much. I’ve tried reading guys like Tom Wolfe and John Updike, and I generally feel decidedly meh about them. I hate to call it “serious” fiction, if only because it seems to imply that people like Gaiman and Rowling aren’t serious about writing and stories, and I think that’s foolhardy. I’d hate, too, though, to attempt to claim it’s all about marketing, because it’s really not.

Before this becomes a discussion of genre in fiction, though, let’s move on to the reading. Because the first book I picked up was Foer’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.

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I write to
And about
Will be someone.
Eventually, my lady, you
Will have a
A personality,
A face.
Eventually I will know
Just who you are,
You, about whom I have
Wondered for years.
Eventually I will not
Have to settle for a
Good time.
Eventually I will
Find you,
Know you when I
See you,
Hear you,
When your soft, light
Finally echo from my
Dreams to my floor.
Thank God I’m


One of six poems in the collection, and one of the earliest overall. I wrote it during college, which is also true of “Inspiration Point,” “This Ain’t Wonderland,” and “A New Drink.” This was, of course, at a time when I thought every line of a poem should be capitalized (I’m no longer sure, and I’d concede this one might look better without the capped lines). These and my other college poems were the ones that came closest to not making it into the collection, in fact, because I thought so much else seemed so much stronger, but one of the good things about doing it in the first place was recording those times.

I think every writer has early work that makes them cringe a little. I know I have a novel on the top shelf of the closet in my parents basement, which will, as far as I’m concerned, remain there forever (or at least until they move), a big, thick, hunk of a novel I thought it took nearly a ream of paper to tell. I’m pretty sure it’s up near 500 single-spaced pages.

Better I offer you the poems than that, I think. The poems, it’s fun to see how I’ve grown.

The novel you might just bludgeon me with were I to try to sell it to you.

As well you should.

It’s nice to know, as well as a little ironic, that a couple of you cited this and other poetry as your favorite. We are so rarely good at judging what of our work will appeal to others.


Like this? Remember to buy the book; it’s only available for a limited time, and all proceeds go to the United Way NYC as tribute to those we lost on September 11th, 2001.

My classes at Regis began this week, at the same time that I set in motion my departure from Lulu and wound up the assignment I’ve been guiding my students through.

The class, so far: meh. I don’t have a business background and, indeed, never took any such courses in college, even despite two degrees and graduate school. Which means that, though I’m currently attending Regis, I’m really doing a conditional acceptance sort of thing. I have to pass a couple of Foundations of Business or somesuchlike courses.

Which would be fine. I get that I need to know stuff like statistics. And I can’t wait to get to marketing.


(you knew there was going to be a but, right? Which gives me an opportunity to try out this “more” function thingy I’ve been wanting to use)

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The Bulwer-Lytton prize, named after the author who first set down “It was a dark and stormy night,” is a parody award given to bad writing.

This year’s “winners” have been announced.

Thing is, I’d totally read a novel that began:

Mike Hummer had been a private detective so long he could remember Preparation A, his hair reminded everyone of a rat who’d bitten into an electrical cord, but he could still run faster than greased owl snot when he was on a bad guy’s trail, and they said his friskings were a lot like getting a vasectomy at Sears.

Because, seriously, a Sears vasectomy is the sort of imagery that would keep me going at least 50 more pages.

In fact, I kinda think the only bad thing about that entry is the comma splice after “Preparation A.”

More winners:

2008 Results.

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