Edmond

A Shitty Week

November 15th, 2016

Last week was a shitty week.

Many of us expected a different president, confident in Trump’s loss. We were horrified and depressed not just by the day, but by the vision of the years stretching ahead. And while sat stunned and mourning, his supporters have been celebrating this great triumph, their candidate ascended.

For most of last week, I didn’t do FaceBook. Avoided the news. I didn’t talk to many people. But after escaping the temporary despair enough to talk to a close friend, we shared our election sadness. She told me, “I never thought he’d win. I mean, I couldn’t vote for her, of course, so I voted for the third party. But I never thought Trump would win.”

I was furious with her, throwing away her vote as she did. I’m furious with me. I should have campaigned more. I volunteered for the Hillary campaign and twice when they texted me, asking for weekend time, I texted back, yes. But when they didn’t contact me to inform me where and when, I let it slide. I’m furious with me, too.

I feel belligerent with my countrymen, and I want to protest the future. I’m worried about friends, our economy, the rest of the world, and so many more on the list. But this is not an anti-Trump message.

This post is not about my shitty week.

Cindy and Mike married fifteen years ago and stayed in love for every single one of them. Most of those years, she worked as a police Sargent in a small town. She devoted herself to serving the community. Honestly, I don’t know them. They are friends of my sister-in-law, and I met them at my brother’s wedding. This was a very happy day in our family history, because we love my sister-in-law. In fact, I mostly know this couple from the wedding video. When Cindy and Mike show up on film, we cheer, because they are damn crazy on the dance floor. They’re the kind of couple who go grab people from tables to dance. They lead the chicken dance. They danced the slow dances, entranced with each other. Mike serenaded my brother with a love song, which made us all giggle.

Cindy and Mike made these newlyweds happier on one of the happiest days of their lives. Obviously, Cindy and Mike have a soft spot in my heart. I love to see my brother laugh.

This week, while sitting on a plastic pail in the garage (her favorite enjoy-a-cigarette spot), chatting on the phone with her brother, Cindy suffered an aneurysm. Her far-away brother, concerned by the abrupt end to the conversation, called Mike.

Mike found Cindy unconscious near the overturned pail. He called 911 and administered CPR for twenty minutes. Mike is a trained EMT, which means he also devoted his life in service to others. He kept her alive, but her brain was dead.

Can you imagine? The love of your life is unconscious on the cold garage cement, and you don’t know why. In that moment, Mike did not know her brain was dead–he only knew the dawning horror at the possibility of losing his true love. But he kept breathing life into her because his love was greater than his fear.

He loved her.

They decided to end Cindy’s life support two days later.

Two other things you should know about Cindy and Mike.

First, they vote Republican.

I’m not sure if they voted for Trump–I’m not clear what day and time Cindy’s aneurysm took place. I do not intend to ask. Most likely, they would be  Trump supporters. Right now, I’m so ready to vilify people who support Trump. How could you? How could you? I never had an in-depth conversation with Cindy or Mike, but I assume we disagreed on politics. Then again, they had no intention of voting for Trump. There are flavors of Republican.

When I contemplate Mike’s future, I do not ponder “how liberal is he?” My sister-in-law, who attended the out-of-state funeral over the weekend, reported to our family, “He is destroyed.”

The second thing to know about them is that she donated her organs. She and Mike did this one last amazing dance together. She gifted her body. He kept her body alive–obviously hoping for more of her to live–long enough that her wishes could be honored. Obviously, he wanted more of her to live. Together, Cindy and Mike gave six families in the world a reason to give thanks this month.

Six families changed because of the love Cindy and Mike had for each other.

Puts my shitty week in perspective.

The 2016 Gardening Awards

November 7th, 2016

November’s killing frost is upon us, once again. My two remaining beets shrink underground, like Nature’s shriveled nutsack, dormant until May makes the earth climax once again. Which means it’s time, gentle readers, for the 2016 Gardening Awards.

 

Biggest Diva Award: tomatoes

There’s a reason why tomatoes represent the best of summer:  fat and sensual, like biting into a tiny beam of juicy red sunlight cooled in a stream. Yes, your reputation is deserved. Every red cherry tomato plucked from the vine represented the best children of sunlight and dirt. You win. Every year. But you also took up a fuckload of space and other veggies suffered for your need for more sunlight, more space. Okay, that’s my fault for not obtaining the vegetable diva her (or his—gender unclear) the equivalent of their own trailer. My bad. I’d be angry at what you did to the celery, but you’re tomatoes, and I will applaud you under every growing circumstance.

 

Career Tragically Ended Too Short: celery, carrots, and red peppers

My bad. I planted diva tomatoes near you, which outgrew and overshadowed your careers. Sorry about that. The celery was amazing for two weeks, but then…tomatoes. I ended up crunching delicious stalks and a two bowls of celery soup, so, you didn’t die in vain. (In the same way, I screwed over the carrots and red peppers. Sorry.) I learned what to plant near each other, this year. Next year will be different.

 

Biggest Comeback:  beets

I planted everything early in May, and that decision bit me in my proverbial beet. One cold, cold night—not quite freezing but almost—blackened the flourishing beet leaves to a crisp. But they came back! By August, they were flourishing. Not every single one, but most. I harvested enough to cook two batches of beeets, and still had enough to give mom, as well as gift their greens to friends who value such things. A surprising performance, given the May damage. You made it, beets. You made it.

 

Biggest disappointment: basil

Sorry, basil. You’re a perennial fan favorite (see what I did there) and you had a few good moments in June and July, chopped up into a fresh salads and a cameo in a Caprese salad, but your big scene was scheduled for August, when you stepped into pesto. Because of excessive rain and root rot, you cancelled your public appearance, which pissed off everyone. Well, everyone in my house. The academy looks forward to your next year’s presence, but this year, you let everyone down. The academy voters are tough. Better luck for your limited run in, The Winter Vegetables.

 

Best Supporting Vegetable: cucumbers

Who saw this coming? Not me. I don’t love cucumbers. My mom makes good pickles, and I made her pickle recipe with the first few cukes, but the giant bastards kept growing and growing and growing, like spokesmen for those giant penis emails. (Which I have never answered. Ahem.) Disclaiming phallic interpretations, I gave one to my coworker, Tom, who shocked it into the spiciest, most dangerous pickle wedge I had ever tasted. Three bites, and instantly, I understood the massive potential in this inconvenient surplus. My cucumbers hadn’t been given a big enough role, a big enough platform to shine! Spicy cucumbers, you were a contender for best vegetable. But early on, you were miscast in a smaller role.

 

Best Impersonation: green beans

This year I canned dilly beans, which did an amazing impression of pickles. They tasted like pickles, had the crunch of pickles, were overall as refreshing as pickles. You surprised me. Delighted me. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I need to plant even more green beans in 2017.

 

Best Surprise Performance: butternut squash

You dominated my entire backyard, stretching your tendrils into alarming expansion week after week. Had you sentience, you could have (and would have) snaked into the garage and strangled me while I tinkered with the lawn mower. There were definitely times in this summer’s performance when I doubted your ability to make good, especially after squirrels decimated your entire first class. But during The Pantyhose Strikes Back, you found a role suited to your strange sensuality, sexy undergarment vegetables. Weirdos. Still, the squirrels couldn’t chew through the second class, and I’ve enjoyed eating you in soup, risotto, and oven toasted. Did not expect you to live through the season. But you triumphed.

 

Best Vegetable: green onions

Normally, a surprising ordinary role, a supporting vegetable to other more impressive, outlandish tastes, green onions stole the hearts of vegetable eaters throughout my household, night after night. I had no idea how much pleasure I would gain, June through November, walking into the back yard, yanking up some green onions, and chopping them up for that night’s dinner. Other vegetables held more dramatic roles (butternut squash, tomatoes, cucumbers), but green onions showed up every night for dinner, green little wisps politely asking, do we jump into that frying pan? Yes, little greens, please do.

 

Underwhelming Performance: the crimson (red) onion and the white

Neighbors to this summer’s Best Vegetable, these onions simply did not hold their own. Their bulbs never really grew to anything impressive. Hell, some of the green onion bulbs were bigger. I found out from a coworker they like lots of constant fertilization, so, there you go. They weren’t nurtured. Awww, poor babies. Beets weren’t extra-fertilized, and the cold burned their fingertips off. You don’t see them shirking their garden responsibilities. C’mon onions. Do your job. Next year, I’ll try more tough love (and nitrates).

 

Best Ingenue: sugar peas

The ingénue is a stock character in literature, film, and theater; generally endearingly innocent and wholesome. Snow peas appeared in late May, early June, crunchy and pure of heart. I almost never cooked them in anything, because eating them right off the vine was too tempting, every time. So sweet. So innocent. So digestible.

 

Solid Performance: acorn squash

Two beautiful orangey acorn squash were harvested, when nothing was expected. They were planted in an odd spot and received the same watering as other plants, but were expected to fruit in the shadow of all those raspberry canes. Nevertheless, they persevered. They didn’t explode with eleven squashes, but hey, two is solid, bro. *brofist here if you had hands*

 

Ingrid Bergman Award: cantaloupe

I checked on these fragile souls daily for a month and a half, encouraging their growth, weeding around them more than other plantings, and they hung on, but did not flourish. They were forced to compete for growing space with the aggressive butternuts, so, I’m not surprised they quivered and withered. Still, after leaving them alone for the next two months, three skittish cantaloupes appeared, a nervous trio, not sure whether to grow into themselves. One survived, and she was juicy.

 

Best Extra: green peppers

These veggies never stole center stage. They were shapely, familiar, chopped into a dozen dishes, and during canning, a bright spot of green against my pale spicy cukes. The green peppers were the Best Supporting Vegetable’s background friend. I’m not sure if I’ll plant these again next year. They are plentiful and cheap at farmer’s market, and I think I’d rather experiment with orange and red peppers, as well as the variety of Hottie McHotterson peppers. But the green peppers were a great extra in many popular dishes.

 

Best Performance From A Foreign Garden: plums

The plums were donated by fellow Minnesota gardener, and an extraordinary author, Jenna Blum. I picked them from the tree in her backyard. The thrill of picking fruit right from the tree is not to be underestimated. These lovelies made my lunch better for a week, but most of them are currently soaking in vodka in my basement, turning into a plum liqueur. Should be ready for a Christmas release. Honoring the fruit (or green beans, or tomatoes) from someone else’s garden is to experience the thrill of generosity. Whenever I sip this plum drunkedness this winter, I will recall my friendship with Jenna, our amazing reconnection, the chicken cordon blue squirting butter, the astonishing chocolatey cake, and the party she threw me for my book release. This plum liqueur represents friendship and love.

 

The Academy would like to thank all its voters.

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The October Goal

October 19th, 2016

In last year’s release of King John, in those final author pages after the novel concluded, I promised something mighty: I would finish The Lost and Founds first story arc (Book 5: Come Back To Me and Book 6: King Daniel) in 2016.

Yowzers.

For a guy who produces one novel a year, that seemed deludedly ambitious. (Plus, if you use words like deludedly, let’s go ahead and assume you have issues constructing sentences.) I justified this bold proclamation as achievable because I had already completed a shitty draft of Book 5 (written in 2008), and more than 50% of Book 6 has been written and released (in chunks) since 2012.

This goal seemed do-able.

Might still be.

We will find out. The year, 2016, isn’t over.

Come Back To Me took two months longer to rewrite than expected. Then, there was July’s Lambda Literary retreat, for which I wrote two new chapters of a future book. Then, food poisoning. Factor in my unexpected romance with gardening, which constantly stole time for weeding, watering, thinning, researching, cooking, canning, and photographing every goddamn green thing I pulled out of the ground.

Whew.

Quite a year thus far.

The October goal was to finish the first (non-shitty) draft of King Daniel before I attended this year’s Gay Romance Lit conference.

I did it.

Tonight, I finished the first (and pretty decent) draft of King Daniel.

Tomorrow morning, I drive to GRL.

I finished in the gazebo on my back deck, under my twinkling summer lights.

I had already packed the car, finished a few small errands around town, including visiting the library for a Batman graphic novel. The house is clean, mail is on-hold. Kitty sitter arrives tomorrow. I photographed squash-colored leaves this afternoon. Tonight, after writing, I ate stuffed peppers (including some surprising green onions which sprouted after my final harvest!), and after a neighborhood walk soon (and who am I kidding–porn), I’ll go to bed early.

This all sounds very Gay Norman Rockwell, and it was. Tonight, at least.

For the past two months, I have declined some pretty amazing invitations–autumnal cookouts, backyard fire pits drinking beer, horror movie nights screaming on the couch, and even a trip north to hug my motel-owning friends. I didn’t realize how much time would be required to meet this goal. My field of vision narrowed to one thing: the October goal.

When I started this series, I didn’t know if I could achieve it. I had a vision. A wall full of ideas and concepts, thematic arcs but completely lacking connective tissue, the only connective tissue essential for a writer: words. I envisioned grandiose plots spanning all six books (and beyond), with inside jokes relevant in the final pages, set up years earlier in the first book, King Perry. I had no idea how to accomplish some of these deludedly intense goals.

When I began, I didn’t know who I was as an author.

I have a better sense now.

I am someone committed to this craft. I’m committed to writing, to words, to storytelling. I make professional goals, and–vegetables permitting–I keep them. This is who I am. I do my best to honor my commitment to readers. And yes, it’s a little early to gloat, considering King Daniel needs reworking. And editing. And proofreading. Then, more proofreading.

I’m not sure this book will come out by late December.

Maybe.

Maybe early January.

I can live with that.

I’d rather break my promise by a month to create an amazing conclusion. I know a little more about who I am as an author these days. I know what kind of books I want to write.

Lest I stray too far portraying myself as some holier-than-thou word tapper, sipping my sarsaparilla root tea, clacking out THE END on the same typewriter Hemingway used, let me say this, gentle readers: fuck that. This past weekend, under pressure, I wrote 11K and the weekend before, 9K. I was frantic. I was in big danger of not making my October goal.

Accomplishing a goal like this isn’t exclusively about the deadline. It’s about committing to yourself. Having a dream of writing novels isn’t enough–you’ve got to commit. Sacrifice some awesome opportunities. Align your life to your priorities. If you’ve ever said, “I’m not smart enough/dedicated enough/whatever enough to write a book,” accomplishing a massive writing goal is more than words on a page.

I’m headed to GRL tomorrow morning.

A huge weekend party to celebrate writers, to celebrate readers, to celebrate readers who are writers, and writers who are readers. We will dance, drink, quietly talk in corners, ask questions of panels, exchange favorite book recommendations, fan-girl and fan-boy and trans-fan all over our favorite word-driven heroes. We will celebrate our successes. We will transform online friends into real-world ones.

Me?

I’m gonna drink some beer and chill.

I deserve it. I made my October goal. I am a professional writer.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go pack my feather boa.

 

 

Release Day

August 23rd, 2016

I’m writing on the back porch, the sunroom. The sun abandoned this side of the world an hour ago, a screaming periwinkle streaking across the sky before darkness finally caught up and blanketed it.

Years ago, I painted this room in cool colors, sea-foam greens, and blueberry sponge prints, interspersed with grape vines dancing along the room’s seams. There’s a Latin inscription YELLING ACROSS THE BACK WALL that makes you wonder if maybe the Roman’s went extinct because of hoarse voices. All that Latin yelling E PLURIBUS UNUM, and such.

The phrase wasn’t originally Latin.

The phrase came into my life as a fortune cookie from Rainbow Chinese. I had been so touched by the simple words, I taped the fortune in the kitchen door frame, somewhere I would notice but others might not. Over the next year, I grew so attached to the fortune, I asked my dad to help me translate it into Latin to go with my grapevine-themed, Romanesque sunroom.

“You have the capacity for enjoying life.”

Beautiful. Simple.

Insert a theological sermon about life-is-short, or why-not-love-it-all, but I have no patience for the simple morals dispersed at the end of TV sitcoms. Life can suck. People fall in love and then out. Children die unfair deaths. People wither from cancer all the fucking time, and then they’re just gone. You’re left with this person-shaped hole that only one person will ever, ever fit.

Life can be violent and brutal.

But the capacity is there. The capacity joy life.

I thought the phrase would look cool in Latin, so I asked Pop for assistance with the translation. Before his retirement, Dad taught high school Latin and English. In fact, he was my English teacher and also my Latin teacher. I saw him a lot during the course of a school day.

HABES FACULTATEM AD VITAM LAETARANDAM

After the words were stenciled, outlined, and painstakingly painted with a tiny brush, I was proud. I liked seeing those muscular words whenever I passed through the room, the room hoarding the most sunlight and breeze. I photographed the final resulted and printed out the photos, mailing them in a letter. (Yes, this was pre-cell phones.) I called him to discuss our collaboration, and like every hungry son, silently hoped for a father’s praise.

The first words out of his mouth were, “I think I gave you the wrong word for enjoying. I don’t think it’s supposed to be laterandum.”

I screamed, “WHAT?”

“I’m kidding,” he said. “It’s the right word. Room looks nice, by the way.”

My dad died of cancer.

There’s a hole in my life where he stood. Brilliant men I love have stepped through this Joseph-Leon-Manning-shaped wound and held my hand, so I’m not complaining about how there’s “no love” left for me. Far from it. I’m one of the most fortunate people I know. But my dad is gone and while I am adult enough to spend a whole weekend doing those same chores he often performed, I will always love him unreasonably, as if I were ten.

My book, Come Back To Me, releases today.

I wonder what dad would say.

It’s easy to romanticize him now that he’s gone but I prefer to remember the hard truths. He was not what anyone would call “supportive” regarding things of a homosexual nature. When I came out, he wept. When I was in my teens, some local Chicago alderman was getting an award taken away from him because the press found out he was gay. My dad glanced over the top of the newspaper he was reading, and said, “Good.”

Over the next twenty years, we argued. I disagreed with his priorities. His religion. His hypocrisy in that religion. I treasure those fights now, because I sharpened my courage with that man. I argued for greater love. He argued for greater love, too, but with different rules. It’s hard when you love people who see the world so differently from your own world view, but you know that. You love people like that.

I’m not sure he’d send flowers for this latest book release.

But he might be proud of me.

Come Back To Me has an odd history.

This is the very first book I wrote in The Lost and Founds series. I created this story (well, a shittier version of this book) in 2008, and despite it being shitty, I loved what I wrote. I loved this strange narrator so much, and his insane manipulations, I decided I could write another book about him. There was a sentence in the original draft that had stuck with me.

In speaking to another character, Vin said, “Want to hear the story of King Perry? There was a baby duck involved.”

I kept returning to that sentence, sensing a challenge. I wondered, could I really write a whole novel in which a baby duck was a central character?

As the vision for a book series became clearer to me, I filed away this shitty first draft and focused my energy on writing King Perry.

I hadn’t finished King Perry before I started writing key scenes from King Mai. In fact, one night while returning to Minnesota from visiting my parents in Illinois, I was seized by a thrilling idea on how to resolve the second novel. Despite the late hour, I pulled over at a Wisconsin rest stop off I-94. Under the fluorescent glow of bug-swarming lights, I wrote frantically at a picnic table until the computer battery died.

Then, The Butterfly King.

King John.

There have been a lot of release days.

Somewhere along the way, I stopped celebrating.

There somehow feels like less to celebrate when a total of twenty-four people purchase your book during an entire sales quarter. (A GOOD sales quarter.) Don’t get me wrong, those twenty-four are incredibly loving readers who have gushed love back to me, so much so, it makes me feel guilty for writing this sentence. The reviews are incredible. The friendships I’ve made are lasting. People have wept with my characters, which is what an author secretly wants.

I feel blessed.

But when you spend a year writing and polishing your sentences, and it’s the very best you can offer, and those sentences are not mentioning on The Tonight Show…you feel a little slighted. (I felt slighted.) Where’s the parade? Why hasn’t someone told Oprah “there’s a new author you should read.” It’s not even about book sales (although it would be cool to make money doing this thing I love). It’s the dreamer inside who thinks “I can change the world.” And the world doesn’t even notice you exist. Over the years, I’ve gone through a process of adjusting expectations. Growing up. Accepting the world as it is.

After King Perry, I stopped celebrating my releases. It wasn’t an angry, pouting decision. I just felt silly celebrating something that five people would purchase on release day.

Grow up, I would tell myself.

But then there’s that Latin phrase in my sun room: you have the capacity for enjoying life.

Today, I am celebrating.

Celebrations are sometimes quiet and sometimes loud. I’ve been waiting soooooo long to share this book that perhaps this time should be a slightly louder celebration. I’m toying with an official book release in a few weeks, done at a local bookstore.

Maybe.

I might not. But I love that I’m considering such an extraverted party.

Then again, this book’s release might require a quieter celebration, spent eating carrot pie in the sun room, letting a chilly August breeze delight me.

Today, I’m choosing to enjoy my life–this life–not an imaginary one where Jimmy Fallon says, “Hey, did you see there’s a new Lost and Founds book out today?” Then, he rips me a new one.

Nope. I’m celebrating this life. This release day.

I think my dad would be proud.

Maybe he’d even yell at me in Latin.

 

 

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Thus Far

August 22nd, 2016

I invited subscribers to my newsletter to give me some blog topic ideas for my Come Back To Me blog tour.

They did.

One idea was to summarize what’s happened in the first four books. This person suggested I do not reveal all the secrets, but at least give the relevant backstory to remind those who read the books (perhaps the first one as long as four years ago), what’s happening in this world.

This idea was perfect for new readers, too.

Come Back To Me is new reader friendly. Yes, there will be plot points and character references that won’t make sense. Sorry. But probably 89% of the book will work as a new reader. (This percentage was calculated using the rectal database, i.e., I pulled it out of my ass.)

So.

Here’s the story thus far.

In the first book of The Lost and Founds series, the strange, lonely narrator, Vin Vanbly (though it is revealed this not his real name) meets Perry Mangin at an art gallery and gives him an invitation: spend the next forty hours with me, doing everything I say, and I will help you remember your kingship. I will help you remember the man you were always meant to be.

Perry agrees, beginning forty hours of insanity in the Bay Area—Alcatraz, a homeless shelter, the Golden Gate Bridge, one of California’s secret beach coves, and a mountain top experience that changes Perry’s life forever.

Perry gets kinged.

The series never really directly answers “what does it mean to get kinged?” Well, unless you consider four (now five) novels discussing the concept of “kingship” as an answer. The reader must decide what kingship (and of course queenship!) means to them.

In the second novel, Vin Vanbly returns, but this book is set three years before King Perry. The participant is a small-town farmer named Mai Kearns who has been corresponding online with Vin. Vin leads Mai on a treasure hunt all weekend, seeking ways for Mai to save his soon-to-be-foreclosed farm. Through Vin’s eyes, readers again explore Mai’s internal life and what power is needed to become the king he is meant to be.

Throughout these novels, Vin reveals a sparkling fairy tale of The Lost and Founds, featuring the Found Kings and their counterparts, the Lost Ones. Their ridiculous antics and anecdotes guide each of Vin’s men on their King Weekend.

In the third novel, set a few years before the first two, Vin is younger and less experienced. He makes some big mistakes. Will he succeed in kinging this strong New York businessman, Terrance Altham? In The Butterfly King, Vin’s abilities are put to the test. Also in this novel, we learn more about the backstory of The Lost and Founds…maybe Vin’s crazy tale has some historical context. Maybe this “fairy tale” has mysterious origins older—much more ancient—than Vin’s imagination.

Magical realism is an element of each book, but in The Butterfly King, readers glimpses into the unique mythology. A street fortune teller tells Vin “a king named DC is going to destroy you. And for the Lost and Founds mythology to come true, you have to let him.”

Things look grim for Vin Vanbly.

In the fourth book, which takes place in 2002, Vin attends Burning Man, that crazy and insanely beautiful desert festival that happens every year in the temporary city of Black Rock, Nevada. During this desert adventure, readers witness the wear and tear these kingings take on Vin. Giving “all his love” to each man devastates him, leaving him even more lonely and desolate than before. How much of him is left? The novel ends on a jarring note—a police report reporting destruction of cemetery property, a tombstone with the last name of Vanbly. The date of damage was St. Patrick’s Day, March 17th, 2011.

Come Back To Me begins in the year 2005.

It ends on March 17th, 2011.

Do not expect all mysteries to be solved by the end of Come Back To Me. Some mysteries (such as Vin’s name and the secrecy behind it) are revealed, as well as Vin’s relationship to his adopted, older brother. But some secrets remain.

The sixth novel, King Daniel, is the final novel in this story arc. In this book (due out late 2016), the mysterious king known only as “DC” is finally revealed, and Vin’s fate—as well as those he loves—is now decided.

Welcome to The Lost and Founds.

***

Blurb for Come Back To Me

After years of lying, scheming, and dangerous manipulation, Vin Vanbly finally gets what’s coming to him: love.

How can he survive unstoppable, uncontrollable love when his very nature demands he control everything? Clues about his one true love—tantalizingly hinted at in each of the books in The Lost and Founds series—come together in four life-changing stories.

In No Kings, a sex hookup with a parking lot stranger reveals more about Vin’s life as a Lost King and his destiny than he could have dreamed. In King Fitch, Vin meets the last king in his long legacy, one final weekend before he withdraws from the world to an anonymous Latin American jungle. The Lost Ones recounts a terrifying kidnapping by street thugs from Vin’s past. In King Malcolm the Restorer, Vin’s mysterious relationship with his older brother—and the soul-crushing secret which drew them together—is finally revealed.

Through it all, Vin Vanbly struggles to survive. But what if he is destined for more than mere survival? Is he finally ready to embrace the truth and remember who he was always meant to be? Once there were a tribe where every man was the one true king and every woman the one true queen…

Amazon link:  Come Back To Me

 

Different Ways To Read The Lost and Founds

August 19th, 2016

This is gonna be weird.

When I reread favorite books, I love discovering details I didn’t see the first time, clues that somehow revealed the direction of the story. I love that shit! As an author, I wanted to write a series that would provide this fun for readers. As I brainstormed how to write these books, I realized I could make the books even MORE entertaining not just by integrating fun clues…but also by providing a different tale depending on the sequence. That got me excited.

Depending on your choice, you will uncover clues and revelations in different ways, giving you a very unique perspective.

 

#1 – Traditional Sequence: This is the sequence in which the full novels were published. (Heh. I used in which. Very adulting.) Personally, I feel this is probably the second best sequence to read the series, first time through.

 

  1. King Perry
  2. King Mai
  3. The Butterfly King
  4. King John
  5. Come Back to Me
  6. King Daniel

 

#2 – Heightened Cliffhanger Sequence:  Designed to tease and taunt readers who want a little extra thrill (sriracha) splashed into their Vin Vanbly adventures. In my option, this is probably the best sequence to read the series, first time through. You get the distant past! You get the more recent future! Who is DC and what is he up to?

 

  1. King Perry
  2. In King Daniel, read chapters 1-3
  3. King Mai
  4. In King Daniel, read chapters 4-7
  5. The Butterfly King
  6. In King Daniel, read chapters 8-10
  7. King John
  8. In King Daniel, read chapter 11
  9. Come Back to Me
  10. Finish reading King Daniel

 

#3 – Chronology Sequence:  The tales in The Lost and Founds are told out of chronological sequence. If you wanted to read “oldest adventure to most recent,” you could read them in this sequence and watch Vin Vanbly grow into his kinging skills. Some inside jokes will be explained early, and that might make it “less fun” when you come upon them in King Perry. I probably wouldn’t recommend this sequence unless you’re re-reading the series. In that case, shake things up and you’ll witness new patterns emerge.

 

  1. The Butterfly King – takes place in 1993
  2. King Mai – takes place in 1996
  3. King Perry – 1999
  4. King John – 2002
  5. Come Back to Me – 2005
  6. King Daniel – 2013

 

#4 – HEA Sequence:  This is very close to the traditional publishing sequence with one exception: read Come Back To Me first. Come Back To Me finishes with a happy ending (although the last ten pages might make you scream aloud at your Kindle). If you’re the kind of person who wants to see everything turn out okay and with great love (and lots of sex), try reading CBTM first. Then, start the rest of the traditional sequence after that. It will comfort your heart to know good things are eventually coming for Vin Vanbly. (But there are a number of inside observations/comments/jokes you may not get because you didn’t read the books in the sequence they were published.)

 

  1. Come Back to Me
  2. King Perry
  3. King Mai
  4. The Butterfly King
  5. King John
  6. King Daniel

 

However, you read this series (and thank you, if you do), I hope you enjoy yourself.

 

 

 

Tuesday, August 23rd: RELEASE DATE

July 11th, 2016

Vin Vanbly finally gets what’s coming to him…

 

ComeBackToMe_1400x2100-ebook

They Danced

June 17th, 2016

Once there was a tribe where every man was the one true king, and every woman, the one true queen. Odd, you may think, and wonder how any work got done in such a society with everyone making rules. But these were not those kinds of kings and queens. They required no throne rooms, no jewels, no gold crowns. They chose to king as they went about the business of living. The gardeners, the blacksmiths, even the tax collectors were fair and just queens (and sometimes kings).

Among them lived the King of Sorrow, a man flooded with dinner invitations from friends who desired his ear for somber conversations. More often than suppers, he was invited to funerals and desolate November teas where he and his host might sit and watch barren tree branches tap the windows at the urging of a brittle wind. After a while, the King of Sorrow would speak, and he always had something beautiful and surprising to say. His listeners were often inspired to work for social justice and to make significant changes to improve their own condition. He was frequently witnessed attending demonstrations protesting cruelty and inequity. He was truly impartial, without any biases, for he visited every single king and queen.

All the Found Ones knew the King of Sorrow—though he sometimes overstayed his welcome—was absolutely necessary for greater love, greater compassion. After all, he was their one true king. The Found Ones liked to give him oranges, as the uneven, craggy texture made him smile.

Despite his many social engagements, he found time to fall in love.

They met in her hospital room. She had lost her child at birth. The King of Sorrow appeared before her with downcast eyes, and said, “I am truly sorry.” She wept and made room in her heart for him, for though he was a stranger, he loved her child as much as she. He promised to never forget her son, whom she had named Aaron.

She was the Queen of Light.

When they attended funerals together, she would release sparrows which darted around the mourners, singing with delight. Instead of an affront, their presence comforted the grief-stricken, who needed the cheery warbling to keep them standing upright. She could make water sparkle for those who felt despondent. She would whisper the word, “blue” in someone’s ear, someone who had just been kissed by her husband, causing that person to look up and see the expansive cobalt sky while taking in a full, deep breath.

Though she had many sisters (and two older brothers) who also called themselves Queens of Light, her particular gift was in details. The single leaf twirling downward. A determined yellow flower boasting its color at the sun.

Together, the King of Sorrow and the Queen of Light hosted dances in their backyard, under a tree so green, it was hard to witness directly. He loved it when she twirled him; he lost himself in the dizzying patterns of leaves. They invited friends who stayed as long as they could, enjoying the Turkish dance music and occasional moody crooners from eras past. They especially enjoyed songs in languages they did not understand, for they could focus on feeling the music.

They danced.

Together, they were almost indestructible.

Almost.

Whose idea was it to leave the kingdom in hopes of restoring Lost Kings and Queens, those who had ventured far from the kingdom and forgotten their true nature? It is not known. “Perhaps,” they told each other, “Perhaps we might help the Lost Ones remember who they were always meant to be.”

They danced among the Lost Ones with their own unique moves, occasionally stumbling, then focusing on each other to right themselves. But they discovered restoring kings and queens was not as easy as they had assumed it would be. Over time, their attempts became more desperate. Instead of relying on the subtlety of birds, she would tell jokes at funerals, pushing too hard to temper her husband’s power. He continued to worship her and loved her by creating more and more opportunities for her gifts to shine.

At some point he became as lost as she, though he assured everyone he was not. “After all,” he boasted, “I still remember my name is the King of Sorrow.” He relied on this memory as proof, which meant he could not see the damage he inflicted, destroying hope. Among the Lost Ones, the King of Sorrow had grown sharper, more persistent. His gift was no longer a gentle and gloomy Spring rain, but had become a raging monsoon. She now laughed at the chaos he had sown, ripping photographs in half, throwing them into the wind.

The Lost Kings and Queens welcomed them readily, gorging on Sorrow as if he were the only dinner guest worth having. She remained at his side, snarking with gallows humor and jokes that hurt, forgetting fully the subtle gifts she once knew.

To this day, the Found Ones remain hopeful of this couple’s return.

They tell their children, if the King of Sorrow finds your heart, welcome him as necessary for life. Weep for the fallen. Shed bitter tears over the unfairness of this brief existence. Take action. Prevent horrors from repeating themselves.

But the key to this couple being restored to glory is the Queen of Light. In times of sorrow, say the Found Kings and Queens, remember her, too. Let her in. While feeling despondent, notice the taste of cold water, the determined agitation of a bug on a June sidewalk. See a mother holding a chattering ten-year-old’s hand and think, “That child is loved.”

Allow your fingertips to explore an orange and imagine each unique bump is someone in the world who knows your grief.

These things do not make the King of Sorrow retreat.

But they do make his presence bearable.

And if you are truly lucky, say the Found Ones, this couple will dance for you, a dazzling pas de deux, both painful and life-affirming, spinning under the tree of life. Open your heart to them, and you may help them remember.

Both of them are necessary, say the Found Ones.

After all, he is the one true king. And she is the glorious one true queen.

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TEASER from upcoming book: Come Back To Me

March 17th, 2016

This short excerpt is narrated by Malcolm, Vin Vanbly’s older brother. In the previous books, not much has been revealed about Malcolm, only that he is an African-American police officer, roughly twenty years older than Vin. Vin and Malcolm adopted each other as brothers at some point. This excerpt seemed appropriate to share today, Saint Patrick’s Day.

Enjoy!

Come Back To Me is scheduled for release in the first half of 2016.

***

“One night in early March, I came home and found a note in the vegetable crisper. I had mentioned the day prior I needed to use up the damn broccoli. Vin had anticipated me. The note invited me to bar on north Clark street to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day. He had written in block letters, PLEASE COME and underlined the words. I joined him that evening, despite how much I hated the day. All day, we answered noise complaints, party complaints, domestic complaints from people so drunk they could barely form words. This day brought out the worst in people, not the best, but Vin had never invited me out for a beer, or even to meet him outside the house, and I could not pass this opportunity.

“Vin had secured a table, no small feat in this crowded establishment, and had my favorite beer waiting for me. I was touched by this small gesture. He nodded. I nodded. We drank for a bit and watched the crazy people get drunker and drunker. Vin said, ‘It’s my birthday.’ I said, ‘Happy birthday.’ Vin said, ‘It’s not actually my birthday.’ After a moment he said, ‘I don’t know when mine is, and I need a birthday. Everyone has a birthday, right? I pick today. I was horrified and I’m sure my expression showed it. ‘It’s a good day,’ Vin said. ‘there’s always going to be a party on my birthday, and people are always happy today.’

“I said, ‘They’re in a good mood because they’re drunk. That’s not happy. Don’t pick this shitty, shitty day as your birthday, Vin. You will regret it. It will fucking haunt you. Vin laughed, and this was a new sound from him—laughter. He said, ‘I might actually be Irish, you know. I mean, look at me. Or maybe I’m German. Or Finnish. You know, blonds.’ I realized at this moment, it was officially, our first real, sustained conversation. But I couldn’t talk him out of it. He had picked Saint Patrick’s Day and he thought it was genius.

“We sat together on Vin’s first birthday drinking beer and conversing. We talked about sports even though it held no interest for either of us. We were hunting for common ground. I did not ask questions about his upbringing or anything to do with his former life. We mostly stared at the people around us and I started telling him my observations. He had made his own observations, and I discovered his talent—which I had suspected—was real. We ordered corn beef sandwiches, because, that’s what you do. Vin insisted on paying for everything.

“After that Saint Patrick’s Day, he changed. He ate more. Left his room. We would go out together and I would teach him how to watch people, watch for what was true, and then the truths behind their true. He already possessed this skill. I enhanced it. Vin always took it too far, further than I would. He would intervene. Once we observed a woman hailing a cab and both concluded—based on her clothes, her hairstyle, and the way she held her umbrella—she didn’t much like her appearance. Before I could stop him, Vin crossed the street to her and spoke to her. She smiled. When he returned to me, he explained, ‘I told her she looked beautiful.’

“Vin was beginning to find his own way.”

King Daniel, Chapters 1-11

February 25th, 2016

Didn’t you sometimes resent J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series? She created this fantastic world that sucked us in and made us care about potions class, an old geezer named Dumbledore, and bewitched furniture. But then we had to wait two years for the next installment.

Two years!

I always wished she provided a tasty tidbit between novels, like a Harry Potter short story.

I’m a slow writer, so between king novels I’m hoping to provide readers with a tasty tidbit. Roughly six months after the last book release (which hopefully is roughly six month before the next full novel), I will make chapters available from the sixth book in the series, King Daniel.

Wait, the sixth book? Prior to the release of the other books?

I know, I know. It’s messed up. But Vin Vanbly’s tale is odd and the telling of his stories must also reflect this oddness. Just go with it. Part of the grand adventure.

The release schedule:

King Perry (first book) – February, 2012

King Daniel, chapters 1-3 – October 2013

King Mai (second book) – July, 2013

King Daniel, chapters 4-7 – January, 2014

The Butterfly King (third book) – September, 2014

King Daniel, chapters 8-10– April, 2015

King John (fourth book) – September 10th, 2015

King Daniel, Chapter 11 –February 2016

Come Back to Me (fifth book) – prior to July, 2016

King Daniel (sixth book) – COMPLETED STORY, ???, 2016

The chess pieces are on the board. Vin Vanbly. Daniel Connors. The prophecies. The king whose initials are D.C. The Great Remembering. What happened to Vin in 2005? What role does Daniel play in The Lost and Founds? Enjoy exploring the world of the Found Kings in 2013, the year King Daniel takes place.

And if you’re here for Chapter 11, buckle up, Mare. The real show’s about to begin.

DOWNLOADS:

  • .PDF file is attached to this post.
  • .mobi file is available (but WordPress won’t let me attach). Email me and ask for it: remembertheking@comcast.net
  • .epub file is available (but WordPress won’t let me attach). Email me and ask for it: remembertheking@comcast.net

All my love,

Edmond Manning

King Daniel – Chapters 1-11 – Edmond Manning