Archive for February, 2015

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Aaaaand…we’re back.

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Back from where? A brief disruption. A disruption from what? Why, Part 1 & Part 2, of course.

Onward!

I am delighted to announce that the final audio proof has been approved!

i approve

Audible tells me the audio version of Relative Karma should be available for purchase within 2 – 3 weeks. Happy dance!

So, what is Relative Karma all about? As noted in Part 1, this is a “what-if” story. What if the true events that inspired the story had turned out differently? My imagination had an idea what that would look like and supplied a grimy landscape of depression and aimlessness, with our hero spending his days pawing through yard sale boxes and thrift store detritus in a search for castoff relics. We don’t actually see him do any of this, but it’s what my mind knew he had been up to in the year since he left Shelley. I don’t remember consciously deciding that Jeff Vincent’s search service would act as metaphor for something deeper, but that seems to be what happened. Here’s an excerpt from Chapter 2, in which Jeff has staked out a table at The Yuba where he goes often to drink his runaway memories into submission:

Jewel seems to understand my obsession with finding things for other people when it clearly doesn’t pay to do so, which is saying something because I never quite understood it myself beyond the simple desire to stay distracted. She once said it’s like I was searching for something I’d lost, or maybe just hadn’t found yet.

Of course he lost—or threw away—Shelley, the one person in this great big world he truly loved. And he hated himself for it. And so, day in and day out, he went in search of lost things; missing things; or (to fine-tune the metaphor a bit) things people wanted and felt they couldn’t live without.

As I listened through the audio version recently I was struck by how much metaphor there is throughout the story.

A burning bed for our unfaithful protagonist? Yes, we have one. Trite? Maybe. Poignant? You bet.

And there’s more, a lot more, but I don’t want to give you everything here.

Maybe Relative Karma is not unique. Maybe every fictional story—be it roman à clef or not—is a symbol or metaphor for something. It almost has to be, doesn’t it? At the very least we are dealing with analogy. Every story is a writer’s attempt to show or understand an old thing in a new way, first to ourselves, then to our readers.

Read the book and see what you think. When the audio version comes out, give it a listen. And please share your thoughts. I’m truly interested.

And remember to share this blog with your friends and cohorts. Get them to follow along. There will be prizes at the end. Oh yes there will.

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“Awesome story with great characters and perfect flow. Martin Reaves writes with passion. You can feel it in every word, every sentence. He takes words and puts them together so successfully, it keeps you wanting more and more. He writes clean. He writes clear. And he writes with a purpose. Read this book, then read everything else by him.You will not be disappointed.” ~ Malina Roos ~

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(click on my scowling face–I promise I won’t bite!)

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Relative Karma - ACX FINAL

This is not Part 3 of our 10-Part Countdown. It should be, but it isn’t.

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I began working on Part 3 and it occurred to me that my time could be better spent Writing (yes, capital W).

“But this is a promotion of a new (sort of) release,” my inner taskmaster said. “It’s important to your burgeoning career.”

I ignored my inner voice’s loose usage of the word “career” and wondered if the sentiment were true.

Is it important? It could be, of course it could. Get the word out. Make a splash. Create some excitement. Get people reading about the new…ahhh, and there’s the rub.

As I typed “Part 3” I couldn’t help but be distracted by the hollow echo of the keys. Clickety-clack (clack) ((clack)) (((clack)))…

Why the echo? Or, perhaps more accurately, why the feeling that my words are echoing in an empty cavern?

Because my own quacking voice is all I hear.

In Parts 1 & 2 of this countdown I opened the floor for comments and questions.

<crickets>

In Part 1 I admitted to something very personal that nearly destroyed my wife and I some fifteen years ago.

<crickets>

In both preceding parts (and this is maybe most disturbing of all) I made mention of prizes. Prizes, not incidentally, that would have been purchased out of my pocket.

Cue crickets.

I don’t have a promotional team. I have only me. My day job sucks very nearly every last bit of energy I have—what I do, I do long after or before normal working hours. We all do this, of course we do. I’m no different in this regard, but it’s a point worth making. Time is limited and it could (and should) be better spent turning out new work.

I think my limited funds will stay in my pocket.

And my limited time will be spent rolling the bones and exorcising demons. Which is to say: Writing.

I’m not so whiny as to say no one cares, but I am realistic enough to see what appears to be truth: No one is reading these words.

I don’t begrudge anyone their choice to offer their attention elsewhere—we all have too much to read and do as it is. I am happy to add to the load if anyone is paying attention, but I don’t think that’s the case here.

To clarify: I will keep Writing fiction, and even blogging when I have something to get off my chest, or something that just plain amuses me enough to set down in type. But blogging and Writing are not the same thing. Writing demands I do it. Blogging is about as productive to my Writing as watching television, although a good deal less entertaining.

That’s all for now.

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And so we continue.

You may well be asking, “Continue with what?”

To which I answer: “Part 2 of the 10-Part Countdown to the Release of Relative Karma on Audio!”

To which you rejoinder: “Part 2? Where the deuce can I read Part 1???”

And I (trying not to become exasperated) say: “Right friggin HERE, ya big lummox!”

Go on, read Part 1…I’ll wait.

asleep at puter

Ah, back now? Good.

Things are heating up in the production booth, my friends. The final proof of the audio version of Relative Karma has been approved. I could not be happier. And as this process seems to be going a good deal more quickly than I anticipated, we’re going to need to speed through the next nine parts of this countdown and on to the quiz yonder down the road.

Ah yes, the quiz. Did I mention prizes? Prizes there will be, and so far—based on the sheer volume of crickets I hear—I will be keeping those prizes for myself. We shall see.

As noted in Part 1, I am open to questions. Hard or easy, hit me with your queries and I shall answer as best I can.

For this installment of the countdown, I want to drop a chunk of chapter 1 on you that was particularly poignant for me.

Our hero, Jeff Vincent, has been on his own for a year. Full of self-loathing and having no real desire to do anything other

than punish himself, he finds his way to a tattoo parlor (Roxy’s Ink Spot) where he is beginning to realize just how much a

tattoo in the center of one’s chest hurts. His reminiscence here is partially how things happened, and partially fabrication.

But the tone and intensity of his regret is very much how I felt during those very dark days in the real world.

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Relative Karma, excerpt from Chapter 1

“Here we go,” Roxy said.

I breathed in a lungful of Roxy’s cloying lemony body spray, and tried to relax into the incessant, swarming sting, to embrace the buzz of the needles and the resultant fire in my chest. It’s apparently not enough that the little harpoons are jamming ink under your skin—they have to scrape the fucking pigment in when they do the shading, which is the part they do last, fifteen or twenty minutes past the point where you decided this maybe wasn’t the brightest idea you’d ever had.

Though the pain was very nearly an all-consuming thing, I somehow managed to let my mind drift elsewhere. If I went far enough back there were uncontaminated memories to draw from, and these sepia-toned, eight-millimeter images of my childhood in Los Angeles began to float to the surface even as the metallic wasp did its work.

I let the burning acupuncture bury objectivity and found myself almost enjoying the impromptu trip back through time. Outside this silent-movie perfection Roxy murmurs something, but it doesn’t register because I am not there; I am fourteen years old, squirming on the hardwood church pew as the youth choir files onto the stage. And I am suddenly aware of nothing but little blond Shelley with the enormous glasses. Maybe it was her glasses that did it—they magnified her eyes and I swear she was staring at me. I couldn’t sit up tall enough. She saw me, looked directly at me—through me—and I swear to God nothing before that morning was ever as real or finely honed as that moment. She couldn’t have been more than twelve years old but I was barely fourteen and when had anything in church (or anywhere else) ever shanghaied my attention like this?

That had been the beginning, but that was then and this was now, and in the relentless fucking now my mind was trying desperately to slam on the brakes and drag me back to the present. But it was too late. From that first dreamy sight of Shelley in the youth choir I was suddenly thrust forward into the recent past: Shelley’s face is there, at first thrilled that I am home early from work…then her features seem to melt in my mind as she is drained of comprehension at the realization of my confessed betrayal. I see her beginning to hyperventilate as I deliver my half-assed fabrication of why I am leaving her, how I have been living a lie, pretending the love when the feelings were gone. I see her try to stand then collapse as though the floor is no longer there.

My mind began a sickening leapfrog through time, back and forth: That day the youth choir sang (“Dad, can Shelley go to lunch with us?”); our wedding day, watching her seem to float down the aisle on her father’s arm; our honeymoon, and the delightful shriek as I laid a sand crab on her gloriously bare stomach at Huntington Beach; then sobbing with her after she miscarried our first and only child.

Stutter-step back and I’m falling into her eyes as I promised to honor her as long as I lived; and twenty-two years later, shattering that promise with virtually no thought at all.

Roxy’s voice jolted me back. “What do you think?”

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And with that little bit of whimsy I leave you to comment as you will.

Feel free to share (please do, please do, please do) and I will see you back here for Part 3.

“Reaves is a quality wordsmith and his attention to detail is evident in his works. He understands mood and setting better than most and can spit dialogue like he’s emptying a machine gun’s clip. His books do not disappoint.”

~ Mark Leftridge, author of Our Bridges Made of Sticks, Safe Sects, and When the Hangman Weeps ~

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(click on scary me below…you know you want to)

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Relative Karma - ACX FINAL

Ruminating on RSS Feeds.

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Pay attention, kids, because there will be a quiz when the countdown ends and the confetti flies. It will be a tough quiz and there will be prizes. You have been warned.

Now then. Why have I brought you all here today? Because—cyber drumroll, if you please—Relative Karma is going audio! To say I’m excited is to vastly understate the situation. It’s more like this:

Im-so-excited

Yes, exactly like that.

Relative Karma is an intensely personal book for me; much of the inspiration for the book was taken (sort of) from real life. More on that later.

What has me squeeeeeing like that goldilocks above is the shear magic of hearing my characters rise up and speak so many years after their creation. They live, ladies and gents, they liiiive!

Its-Alive

Ahem. It’s at this point that I need to give a hellacious shout-out to the brilliant narrator of Relative Karma, Branden Mckenzie. His gift is substantial and I am over the moon that we found each other.

But on to the reason for calling you all forth from the nether regions. As the audio rendition has brought Relative Karma back to life for its creator, so would I like to breathe life into the book itself. Or, if you will, the story. Why I wrote it. Why I had to write it. Why I care about it, and why I want you to go and do likewise. To that end, I will endeavor to open myself to you by giving a behind-the-scenes look at the characters, excerpts from the book (with commentary), and, as promised above, a sprinkling of clues along the way for the quiz at the end. I hope you will find all this interesting. I hope you will tell your friends. And (heck, we all know why you’re really here) I hope you will all go out and by the book (click here) and review it and generally make a great big fuss about it.

I intend to bare my soul. And trust me, the inspiration for Relative Karma ain’t pretty. Some of you may well decide you’d be better off crossing me off your list of acquaintances. I will understand. I very nearly crossed myself off. I do not take lightly the circumstances that led to the telling (or retelling) of this story.

Make no mistake: Relative Karma is a work of fiction; a what-if scenario that grew legs and ran off. But every ounce of emotion portrayed is real. I lived it, and nearly died with it.

That’s probably enough for starters, but I will leave you with this:

There are three people central to this story who are based on real folks—Jeff Vincent, Shelley Vincent, and Darcy Lytle. Only two will have their real names revealed. The third is long out of my life and I wish her no harm—there are very few people still in my life who know her true identity, and outside of my immediate family they are unlikely to read this post or my book.

Jeff Vincent is me. No big shock there, it’s a first-person narrative. Shelley is my lovely wife Charla (yes, I checked with her before posting this). And (this is where I want to delete all this and move on to something else) I did lose my mind and leave my beloved for another, more or less as described. And, as described in the narrative, I came unhinged when I realized what I’d done. Jeff’s self-loathing in the book tells it better than I want to in this post. Enough.

This is us, much as we appeared in my head during the writing, although not quite so blurry:

Jeff and Shelley

With the exception of Jeff Vincent’s colossal act of betrayal, none of the things in Relative Karma actually happened. But I did live for a brief, dark time at the exact location referenced in midtown Sacramento. And The Yuba is exactly where I said it is, although with a different name. Go there; eat the food; drink the beer. You will not be disappointed.

As I said, the story started with a what-if question: “What would my life have looked like if things had not gone as they did? In short: What if Charla had not taken me back?”

The question “What if?” is the writer’s best friend. Everything stems from that one simple query. We just have to be brave enough to try and answer it honestly. And on the subject of questions, I offer myself up to yours. Ask me anything (preferably about Relative Karma, but I’m flexible) and I will answer as honestly as is possible. Post your question(s) in the comments section below and I will address them in a later post. I promise.

I’ll leave you now with the opening lines of Relative Karma:

I’d been dead for a year…
The day my life began to literally take on color again was a Friday, exactly one year to the day after I did everything in my power to fuck it all up for good. This colorful Friday was also one day before people started showing up dead.

What one very kind reviewer had to say:

“This novel was an excellent, entertaining ride. I enjoyed it so much that I read it all in one day. Reaves creates a genuine landscape of real people suffering from regret and trying to pull their lives back together. He sets the stage for a juicy mystery, kicked off by a strange murder that turns the life of his main character upside down. The novel’s twists and turns keep the reader guessing and wondering what will happen next. This was the first novel I’ve read by Reaves, and it was fantastic.
~ Sara Brooke, author of Kransen House and The Awakening ~

 

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(click on fancy me below…I’m fancy)

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Relative Karma - ACX FINAL