This Saturday afternoon my first — and most-likely my only — novel was released by self-publisher Outskirts Press and now it’s floating out there in the literary ether-world after a shitload of time in a cardboard box.
First draft was written in the summer of 1994, but how will the finished product look like when I get my first copies in the mail in a couple of days — how will time warp what I see?
Background via an update I posted in December:
‘If my memory is correct, by mid-summer (of ’94) I’d enough of a manuscript with characters and storyline to come-up with a title, “Brown-Eyed Girl With A Cold Corona,” and with continual editing, expanding chapters, segment revisions, the final version was copied/typed from my notes onto clean, easily-read hardcopy pages in late 1999. And for various reasons and circumstances, then spent more than 20 years languishing silently in a cardboard box from Poor Richard’s Press.‘
Although ‘Corona‘ is fiction, the main narrative is composed of my actual life in the mid-90s being ‘tweaked,’ a concept supposedly an easy guide to creating a story, and despite how I felt at the time, it was indeed an uncomplicated potline to follow. Writing a fictional story based on my actual life — weird, and interesting if done well. In reading the proofs, I maybe did capture elements of an era (and life) with normal, everyday observations and interchanges with other people doing about the same thing. One crazy ingredient — the tale is also a romantic fantasy with a little paranormal thrown in for good measure (or ‘tweak‘).
As I wrote a couple of months ago: ‘According to Merriam-Webster, the word, ‘tweak‘ means ‘to pinch and pull with a sudden jerk and twist,’ and also ‘make usually small adjustments in or to‘ whatever is being tweaked.
Although the main character in the novel falls in love with a murder victim after the murder and narrates the weird-ass shit to make such a freaky-tweak-like thing happen, he is surrounded by pretty much my own personal life, revised, energy-charged to make the mundane exciting, and worth a read, yet still be real.‘
Now just a matter of wait and see the reaction for readers to this major, long-ago personal project, after such a long time in that before-mentioned cardboard box. How will it come across as a paperback book you can hold in your hand, and maybe too, find later in the used-book section of a second-hand store.
Even at this point, I’m not sure if I’ve made the right decision in going with self-publishing, vs the conventional literary-agent-to-publisher route, and how will book sales be affected. Questions with no answers right now.
In a current historical note, the word ‘Corona‘ in the title doesn’t quite hit me hard as it did a couple of years ago when COVID started its initial run. I was just finishing a brand-new edit of the manuscript — my daughter had the written version made digital (Google docs) — and the whole scene depressed me so bad (death and disease and T-Rump and lockdowns) the virus name prompted me to stop work for months. My novel’s entire, continuous storyline is fashioned around a Corona beer. Oddly, simple ‘COVID’ eventually replaced ‘coronavirus‘ in the media as the go-to word for the pandemic. Weird. And fortunately for my ‘Corona‘ girl.
An Amazon/Kindle e-book is in the works and should be available soon.
The novel’s summary slated for the Amazon webpage:
Spring break mid-1990s in a small California beach town. A middle-aged man suffering a ‘mid-life crisis’ meets a young woman while out barhopping with a friend, and in less time than it takes for a few strokes of a Corona bottle, she creates an emotional whirlpool that will threaten his sanity. Yet will eventually lead to uncovering a murder.
Narrated in nearly-stream-of-consciousness by the man as he spends the next couple of days floating through a movable bubble of strange, but wondrous daydreams beyond his imagination, spiced by illusions of the young woman. Engulfed within those hallucinatory outings still churns the ‘crisis’ he is experiencing — divorce after a longtime marriage collapsed, then financial ruin, followed by guilt over not being there for his children, chaos made the worse by booze.
A mental state also intensified by his desire to creatively write again, dabbling even in poetry, a literary form he hadn’t messed with for near two decades. And also discovering he can cry too easily.
Instead of employment at a level with his age, his life’s work, and education, he’s chief night cook at a popular Italian pizzeria in Pismo Beach, an old, old guy compared to his way-youthful co-workers. However, he develops a knack for the phrase, ‘Yeah right,’ and the music of 4 Non Blondes.
Spring break at a pizza joint is beyond the concept of pandemonium, yet he handles the pressure, though, in a whining-like poise. Despite the restaurant getting slammed, and all the rush, disorder, and craziness that comes from it, the young woman makes two visionary visits, once playing out the scene at the bar — near-insane situations he conceals by playing dumb, which as it turns out, is quite easy.
Along with the cook’s job, he also occasionally prepares legal documents for his friend from the bar, a lawyer who’s reeling through a similar ‘crisis’ of divorce, and child guilt, who can’t seem to stay sober. In a short time, the two had developed an intense camaraderie of oddball misery — listening to their conversations one would think they were illiterate rednecks, cussing everything, and using the most-horrible grammar. Nonetheless, they’re ‘best buds,’ so in the words of the cook/writer’s 15-year-old daughter, with whom from time to time also shares a toke or two off a joint.
Two days following the meeting in the bar, and after a county courthouse visit to file a motion in a nasty divorce case, he encounters the young woman on the sidewalk, finds her to be much older in age, and too, carried a long-forgotten footnote tied to his distant past. A sensual trek through a seemingly hallucinogenic-like wormhole into a nostalgic neighborhood fabricated from a youthful, maybe more-secure time, generates an unraveling criminal scenario.
In like manner, he faces an abhorrent sacrifice in obtaining justice for that story.
A mystery is a mystery until it’s not. Visually written, “Brown-Eyed Girl With A Cold Corona” is a quick-paced exploration of life and love through the years, even beyond murder, with knowledge of the crime elucidated by the murder victim.
I’ll update with available links as it develops.
Even so, once again here we are…