vikings with guns attack a 7-11 in africa, or why you shouldn’t look at a writer’s browser history

Many of the authors I know like to joke that if the FBI,  CIA, NSA, or any other 3-letter federal agency looked at the search results in Internet browser history, they (the writers, that is) would swiftly be hauled away to either a black site for intensive interrogation, or to a mental institution for lengthy observation.  That’s because we sci-fi/fantasy writers research the oddest stuff for our work.

Case in point, here’s a partial list of what I pulled up the other night while writing two scenes of the latest chapter I’m working on for This Wasted Land, a young adult dark fantasy I’ll publish later this year:

  • “Big Empty,” by Stone Temple Pilots
  • Shopping malls and stores of western Africa
  • Currency of Ghana

ghana

  • Symptoms of jaundice
  • Popular candy bars from outside the U.S.
  • “Go tell Aunt Rhody”
  • The correct spelling of SpaghettiOs, Cheetos, and Powerade

cheetos

  • Mossberg shotgun with pistol grip
  • Bushmaster AR-15

shotgun

DSCF1296

From that list, you might be forgiven if you suppose that TWL is about Vikings, armed with military weapons, who raid a convenience store in Africa.  Nothing could be further from the truth, but I must admit that would make a kick-ass story–maybe some other time.  I describe TWL as:

  • Boy meets girl
  • Boy is abducted by witch
  • Girl goes to get him back.

Come back soon, and I’ll have more about This Wasted Land, including some sneak peeks.  Next time out, I’ll talk about the music I’m listening to–and is inspiring–TWL.

 

Kenton Kilgore is forging a new direction in young adult science-fiction and fantasy.  His latest work-in-progress is This Wasted Land, a modern-fantasy/horror novel, to be published in 2017.

Kenton is the author of Dragontamer’s Daughters, based on Navajo culture and belief.  He also wrote Lost Dogs, the story of a German Shepherd and a Beagle-mix who survive the end of the human world, only to find that their struggles have just begun. With Patrick Eibel, he created Our Wild Place, a children’s book about the joy to be found in exploring Nature.  

Follow Kenton on Facebook for daily posts on sci-fi, fantasy, and other speculative fiction. 

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feelings aren’t always your friends

Growing up, people tell you to

Get in touch with your feelings

and

You’ll feel it if it’s right

and

Don’t fight your feelings

and

Go with what your gut tells you.

They say things like:

I feel your pain

or

I’m not feeling it

and they ask

How do you feel about that?

and they say

Trust your feelings.

And they might be right sometimes.

But:

feeling1

People want you to

Share your feelings

and they say

If it feels good, do it

and at the movies, it’s

“I’ve got a bad feeling about this”

and every song you hear anywhere is all about feelings.

And that’s okay, I guess.

But I’ve learned that

feelings2a

*except when they’re telling you that you’re in danger–always listen to them then!  
Better to be safe than…well, you know

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve felt really strongly about something…

…and it turned out to be wrong.

You see,

feeling3Your feelings might tell you

He loves you

or

She hates you

or 

You can’t trust this one

or

You can believe that one.

Your feelings might say

I love her

or

I hate him

but

feeling4

If you’ve ever had your heart broken, you know what I mean.

Feelings don’t mean to lie. It’s just that they don’t think. They can’t think.  So,

feelings5

And that’s not always a bad thing, but you have to be careful.

feelings6

Don’t quit school or your job because of one bad day.

Or two.

Or even a whole week.

Or a month.

Don’t give up on people who love you even if they make mistakes

or aren’t as strong as you

or don’t know what you know,

so long as they’re trying, really trying to get better

to do better

to be better

and not just trying to hurt you.

You see,

feelings7

 Decisions that there was no coming back from.

Decisions that changed my life forever.

Decisions that I’ll always regret.

That’s because

feelings9

 and

feelings10

and

feelings11

Sometimes, you have to stop listening to your feelings for a while.

Just put them on MUTE and think.

Think about might happen if you do what they’re telling you to do.

It can be fun every once in a while to lose some control and let your feelings take over.

But when you need to, you have to be in charge of them,

not them in charge of you.

Otherwise, they’re like dogs with a new plaything.

They’ll drag you around the yard

and use you to play tug-of-war against each other

and gnaw on you

and finally drop you off somewhere, all slobbery and gross

or just bury you somewhere and forget about you.

feelings12It’s happened to me way too many times

and it’s never much fun.

I’m not saying

Be a robot.

I’m not saying

Be cold.

I’m not saying

Don’t feel.

 I’m just saying

feelings13

Kenton Kilgore is forging a new direction in young adult science-fiction and fantasy.  His latest work-in-progress is This Wasted Land, a modern-fantasy/horror novel, to be published in 2017.

Kenton is the author of Dragontamer’s Daughters, based on Navajo culture and belief.  He also wrote Lost Dogs, the story of a German Shepherd and a Beagle-mix who survive the end of the human world, only to find that their struggles have just begun. With Patrick Eibel, he created Our Wild Place, a children’s book about the joy to be found in exploring Nature.  

Follow Kenton on Facebook for daily posts on sci-fi, fantasy, and other speculative fiction. 

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why hand-sell books?

Last Saturday, I participated in the 20th annual “Heck With The Malls” artisans’ fair in Centreville, MD, peddling my books alongside jewelry-makers, painters, woodcarvers, knitters, etc.  If you’re an author, you might wonder why I would try to sell books at a craft fair (step this way, and I’ll explain).  More likely, you might wonder why, in the Age of Amazon, I’d bother hand-selling books at all.

heck2016

I’ll tell you, but first, let me define the term for the newbies and the non-authors.  “Hand-selling” is the act of selling physical copies of books, as opposed to electronic ones (such as Kindle versions) done face-to-face, usually at events like signings, or public readings.

It can be very rewarding, but it’s not for every author.  Why not?  Because:

  • It’s very time-intensive (you can easily spend a whole day doing it);
  • There are up-front costs (copies of books, promotional materials, travel, possible entry fees, etc.); and,
  • There’s a large amount of risk (bad weather or poor attendance, among other things, can scuttle your sales).

In addition, there’s the fact that, most likely, you’ll get more of your sales online, or through bookstores (if you’re fortunate enough to have them carry you), than you will by hand-selling.  In the time it takes to introduce yourself and pitch your book to a prospective customer standing in front of you, you could potentially sell hundreds or even thousands of copies online (provided, of course, that you’re a big-name author with a hot new release—in which case, I should be getting sales advice from you).

So why bother?  Because hand-selling books isn’t so much about moving paper copies as it is about making connections with readers.

With millions of books on Amazon, and thousands more appearing every day, the greatest challenge any author faces is discoverability.  How are people going to find out about you and your work?  Hand-selling is one way.

What hand-selling has going for it over all other methods of promoting one’s books is that it can’t help but be very personal.  You, the author, are right there, live and in the flesh, interacting with potential readers.  People can and do ignore online ads and e-mails, but it’s more difficult to blow off someone holding out their hand and introducing themselves.

heck2016c

Experts will tell you that talking with someone face-to-face is the most effective form of communication, and not just for conveying information.  In addition to hopefully making sales, hand-selling books allows you to:

  • Forge bonds with people, so that you’re not just a name on a cover, you’re a person they know;
  • Distribute business cards and other promotional items that people can take with them;
  • Tell about upcoming books and appearances in media;
  • Collect e-mail addresses for your mailing list;
  • Gain followers on social media; and,
  • Build a fanbase.

In short, hand-selling sells YOU, the author.  Though I had many sales at “Heck With The Malls,” those were merely gravy.  More important was that I met a lot of people; handed out lots of promo cards, most of them for This Wasted Land, my upcoming novel; got some e-mail addresses; and made (and reconnected with) fans.

twlcard1

Are you going to make a killing hand-selling books?  Most likely not.  Are you going to get yourself and your work out there and make meaningful impressions on potential readers?  Definitely.  Try it out, and good luck!

 

Kenton Kilgore is forging a new direction in young adult science-fiction and fantasy.  His latest work-in-progress is This Wasted Land, a modern-fantasy/horror novel, to be published in early 2017.

Kenton is the author of Dragontamer’s Daughters, based on Navajo culture and belief.  He also wrote Lost Dogs, the story of a German Shepherd and a Beagle-mix who survive the end of the human world, only to find that their struggles have just begun. With Patrick Eibel, he created Our Wild Place, a children’s book about the joy to be found in exploring Nature.  

Follow Kenton on Facebook for daily posts on sci-fi, fantasy, and other speculative fiction. 

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50 going on 15

Your life is like the clock at a football game:

  • If you’re age 0-20, you’re in the first quarter;
  • At 21-40 years old, you’re in the second quarter;
  • Age 41-60 is the third quarter;
  • 61-80 is the fourth quarter; and,
  • 81+ is overtime.*
*Though actually, the game can end at any time: I’ve known people who never made it out of the first quarter. I bet you have, too.

So today, I’m halfway through the third quarter. Today, I turn 50.

When I was younger, I never imagined myself being 50.  I didn’t know my father when he was that age.  To me, 50 was old.  You’re eligible to join AARP at 50.  It’s gray hair and wrinkles and arthritis, and getting ready for retirement.  It’s not that far to 55, which was how old Bruce Wayne was in The Dark Knight Returns, one of my favorite comic books when I was in college.

bruce-wayne-55

But here I am at 50, and…I don’t feel much different than I did when I was half my age.  Or even younger.

I mean, sure, I *am* different.  I’m not scrawny any more (I was 98 lbs as a freshman in high school, and even when I graduated, I only had a 28 inch waist).  I’m not as spry (it was humbling to find myself juuuuust missing those shots I would routinely return in tennis).  I’m much wiser (young men, I learned through personal experience, start developing brains at 27: start being the operative word).  I can’t eat late at night, or else I get acid reflux that makes me understand why people with certain illnesses would prefer to end their lives rather than go on another day.  And I have to shave more often (5 o’clock shadow really is a thing).

youngloveThe author with the future wife; May, 1986

I have a wife and kids and degrees and a house and cars and lots of bills (paying for my girls’ college takes a WHOLE lot more than it did paying for mine).  If you had told Teenage Me that at 50, I would be getting up before dawn every day to commute to a government desk job, Teenage Me would have cussed you out–and cussed out 50-year old me (then again, what the hell did Teenage Me know?).

But even though chronologically, I’m 50, mentally, I’m not.  It’s not perfect, but I have an incredibly comprehensive long-term memory: for example, I remember being a toddler and climbing out of my crib one morning while my parents were asleep.

As a result, the past is very vivid to me, for good or ill, and I often visit it.  There are jokes I heard 25 years ago or even longer that are still funny to me.  There are memories that are still exhilarating or still gut-wrenching.  I have clothes older than my kids (for a while, when it was a thing, my girls wore my concert t-shirts to school).  I have books and knick knacks that I’ve had since I was a teenager, or a young boy, or even an infant.

belgiumHaving my first legal beer at 16; Belgium, 1983

When I sleep, my dream-self is usually in my teens or early twenties, sometimes back in school, sometimes at jobs I haven’t held in decades.  Often doing things–skateboarding, playing D&D, noodling around on a guitar–that I haven’t done in ages.  Hanging out with friends and people whom I’ll never see again.

erhsEating lunch outside with my buddies, junior year of high school (February, 1983)

So I look grown-up, and I have all the trappings of a grown-up, and I (mostly) have the mentality and discretion of a grown-up (thank God).  But there’s a big chunk of me that has seemingly never grown up.  That’s still much, much younger.

And maybe that’s not all together a bad thing.  Maybe that’s why I prefer to write “young adult” fiction.  Developing the characters and getting inside the heads of Isabella from Dragontamer’s Daughtersor Buddy from Lost Dogs, or Alyx from This Wasted Land (my latest WIP) came very easily, very naturally for me.

I angsted about hitting 30, but my thirties worked out well.  I sweated turning 40, but my forties were the best decade of my life.  Fifty makes me feel like I’m at the top of a slide lined with razor blades–it’s just pain and suck all the way down–but I’m trying to be cool with it.  It’s midway through the third quarter, but there’s still plenty of time left in the game.  If I play it right, there’ll be overtime.

And along the way, there will be family and friends to cherish and enjoy, adventures to be had, books to write, places to visit or revisit (Joni, our daughters, and I will be going to London soon; the only time I went was when I was 16).

Let’s do this fifties thing.

london1983The author at the Tower of London; July 1983

 

Kenton Kilgore is forging a new direction in young adult science-fiction and fantasy.  His latest work-in-progress is This Wasted Land, a modern-fantasy/horror novel, to be published in early 2017.

Kenton is the author of Dragontamer’s Daughters, based on Navajo culture and belief.  He also wrote Lost Dogs, the story of a German Shepherd and a Beagle-mix who survive the end of the human world, only to find that their struggles have just begun. With Patrick Eibel, he created Our Wild Place, a children’s book about the joy to be found in exploring Nature.  

Follow Kenton on Facebook for daily posts on sci-fi, fantasy, and other speculative fiction. 

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when the world was young: edward gorey

The latest in a series about influences from my earlier days

It’s Halloween, so let’s get spooky.  Lots of my friends are fans of director Tim Burton, known for his dark visual style and movies like The Nightmare Before Christmas, Edward Scissorhands, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (which I reviewed here), and many others.  But Burton doesn’t do much for me, because I grew up reading Edward Gorey.

Gorey was an author and artist whose work is hard to categorize.  He wrote lots of short books and pieces, most of them stories, many of them wordless drawings.  Some could be enjoyed by children, a few were definitely adults-only (“The Curious Sofa” comes to mind). Much of his work is seemingly set in Edwardian times, and all of them were illustrated in his distinctive, extremely-dense style, usually in black and white.

amphi

My favorite pieces can be found in Amphigorey, a collection of his works from 1953-1965.  They include:

  • “The Unstrung Harp,” detailing the struggles of an author to write and publish a novel (something I can readily identify with!);

tuh

  • “The Listing Attic,” a series of macabre limericks;
  • “The Doubtful Guest,” about an odd, troublesome, but somehow endearing creature who invites himself into a family’s home;

tdg1

  • “The Object Lesson,” a nonsense story (“It was already Thursday, but his lordship’s artificial limb could not be found”);
  • “The Bug Book,” a humorous tale of how a group of peace-loving insects (all cousins) deal with a bullying intruder;

tbb

  • “The Hapless Child,” a heartbreaking tale of an orphan girl;
  • “The Gashlycrumb Tinies,” an A-B-C primer and cautionary tale about small children who meet their premature ends in horrible ways (“A is for Amy, who fell down the stairs; B is for Basil, assaulted by bears…”);

gct

  • “The Insect God,” a horror tale concerning the abduction of young Millicent Frastley;
  • “The Wuggly Ump,” a nursery rhyme about a child-eating monster.

twu

Gorey and his quirky, often humorous morbidness, and predilection for bizarre characters and creatures, was a big influence on my writing, particularly This Wasted Land, a modern-fantasy/horror novel I’m working on.  If you hadn’t heard about Edward Gorey before, check out some of his work.

tla

Kenton Kilgore is forging a new direction in young adult science-fiction and fantasy.  His latest work-in-progress is This Wasted Land, a modern-fantasy/horror novel, to be published in early 2017.

Kenton is the author of Dragontamer’s Daughters, based on Navajo culture and belief.  He also wrote Lost Dogs, the story of a German Shepherd and a Beagle-mix who survive the end of the human world, only to find that their struggles have just begun. With Patrick Eibel, he created Our Wild Place, a children’s book about the joy to be found in exploring Nature.  

Follow Kenton on Facebook for daily posts on sci-fi, fantasy, and other speculative fiction. 

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“miss peregrine” soars

I wasn’t expecting much from Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, released in the U.S. last Friday.  That’s because: 1) the premise–a household of misfit children with extraordinary powers sounded too much like Marvel Comics’ X-Men or New Mutants; and 2) because it was directed by Tim Burton, whose movies I loathe so vehemently that they make my therapist blanch when I speak of them.

(Just kidding: we don’t discuss Tim’s movies)

The reason I abhor almost anything done by Tim Burton is because: 1) his ersatz Edward Gorey macabre visual style wears thin on me (unlike everyone else, I’m underwhelmed by The Nightmare Before Christmas) ; 2) he struggles to tell a coherent story (I’m looking at you, Planet of the Apes); and 3) his adaptations of others’ characters and works are hit- (Batman) or-miss (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory).

But Burton hits it out of the park this time with Miss Peregrine’s Home, which I am ashamed to say that I have not yet read the young adult novel that the film is based upon. After finding his grandfather Abraham (the always-terrific Terence Stamp) murdered under mysterious circumstances, teenage Jake Portman (played  by Asa Butterfield, of Ender’s Game) travels to Wales–and back in time–to the home run by Miss Peregrine (the bewitching Eva Green), where the children who live there are, indeed, very peculiar.

 

 

Despite the similarity in concept with Marvel’s mutant comics, Miss Peregrine goes off in a dark, compelling direction as Jake learns that the children are threatened by “Hollows”–sinister “Peculiars” mutated into monsters–led by the mirthful but malevolent Mr. Barron (Samuel L. Jackson).

The film differs significantly from the book, or so I’m informed, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.  The casting is fantastic (though some aren’t happy); the acting well done (though Dame Judi Dench is given little to do); the story gripping and unpredictable; the costumes smashing (so much so, that two characters make references to their quality); and the effects seamless (perhaps because many of them are not CGI, and the “home” scenes are shot on location).

Burton reins in his gothic visuals, only really letting go in the scenes with Barron and/or the “Hollows.” His imagining of the “loop” in time (September 3, 1943) where Miss Peregrine and the children live the same 24 hours, presumably forever, is sunny, beautiful, and inviting, though not without its dark corners (as mentioned by Emma, the girl who wears lead shoes so she won’t float away, it isn’t “a perfect day”).  The final confrontation between Jake and the “peculiar” children against Barron and his monsters is a nice mix of juvenile derring-do and suspenseful horror.

Visit Miss Peregrine’s Home soon!

peregrine

 

Kenton Kilgore is forging a new direction in young adult science-fiction and fantasy.  His latest work-in-progress is This Wasted Land, a modern-fantasy/horror novel, to be published in early 2017.

Kenton is the author of Dragontamer’s Daughters, based on Navajo culture and belief.  He also wrote Lost Dogs, the story of a German Shepherd and a Beagle-mix who survive the end of the human world, only to find that their struggles have just begun. With Patrick Eibel, he created Our Wild Place, a children’s book about the joy to be found in exploring Nature.  

Follow Kenton on Facebook for daily posts on sci-fi, fantasy, and other speculative fiction. 

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concept art for “this wasted land”

I’m about halfway through drafting This Wasted Land, my young adult modern-fantasy/horror novel, and I thought I’d share with you some concept art that I’ve whipped up. Because my protagonist Alyx, a 17-year old Korean-American girl, is an artist, I’ve done the piece as something she might sketch.  Enjoy!

 

twl-concept-4
Alexandra “Alyx” Williams

 

train A ghostly train figures prominently in This Wasted Land

 

twl-concept-3Alyx finds herself in a haunting desert world where monsters roam
 twl-concept-5
Alyx tries to find her boyfriend Sam, who has been abducted to this desolate place

 

 

Kenton Kilgore is forging a new direction in young adult science-fiction and fantasy.  His latest work-in-progress is This Wasted Land, a modern-fantasy/horror novel, to be published in early 2017.

Kenton is the author of Dragontamer’s Daughters, based on Navajo culture and belief.  He also wrote Lost Dogs, the story of a German Shepherd and a Beagle-mix who survive the end of the human world, only to find that their struggles have just begun. With Patrick Eibel, he created Our Wild Place, a children’s book about the joy to be found in exploring Nature.  

Follow Kenton on Facebook for daily posts on sci-fi, fantasy, and other speculative fiction. 

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young people read old sci-fi/fantasy

I recently discovered a great site that I’d like to pass along to you: Young People Read Old SFF (science fiction/fantasy).  The idea is simple: the person running the site sends copies of old-school sci-fi to young people, they read it and send it their reviews, and they get posted.

yprosff

I like this site so much because in interacting with my daughters (currently age 22 and 17) and their friends, I’ve found that almost none of them, even if they love sci-fi and fantasy, have heard of, let alone read, most of the great authors I read when I was getting into the genre.

Now, SF author John Scalzi is seemingly cool with that, but I’m not.  While it’s all well and good–and understandable–to read and prefer the current stuff, I believe you should have at least some familiarity with what came before, because it enriches your knowledge and enjoyment of the genre.  Sure, Heinlein and Asimov and Bradbury were before my time, too, but at least I knew who they were and what they had done, and I had read several of their works.

Currently, there are seven works up at YPROSFF, and they are so, soooo good.  My favorite is Stanley G. Weinbaum’s “A Martian Odyssey,” which I’ve gushed about before.  The site is updated each month, and I’m looking forward to many more reviews in the future.

In the meantime, if you’re a young person who likes sci-fi and wants to read more, author David Brin has a great list of recommendations for you.  My favorites from that list are:

  • Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.  To be totally honest (and at the risk of inciting Adams fans everywhere), the joke wears increasingly thin with each succeeding book in this series, but the first one is wall-to-wall hilarious.
  • Isaac Asimov’s Foundation trilogy.  Continuing the honesty, the Foundation books are not the easiest (they can be pretty dry in spots), but they’re worth powering through, at the very least for The Mule.
  • Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles are good, but they’re nowhere close to what I consider to be Bradbury’s best.
  • Robert Heinlein, Have Space Suit, Will Travel.  Hardly anyone under the age of 50 gets the reference, but that’s okay: it’s a great story.
  • Richard Matheson, The Incredible Shrinking Man.  Matheson doesn’t get enough love for all the awesome stories he wrote.
  • Walter Miller, A Canticle for Leibowitz.  I first read this in college, and even saw a stage production.  The story spans hundreds of years (which takes some mental adjustments), and it helps to have familiarity with Catholicism, but it’s a great book.
  • J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit; Jules Verne, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (I preferred Journey to the Center of the Earth); H.G. Wells, The Time Machine and The Invisible Man.  Not knowing these is like calling yourself a classical music fan and not knowing Mozart, Brahms, and Beethoven.  or being a football fan and not knowing Butkus, Bradshaw, and Unitas. Or…well, you get the picture.
dayofthetriffidsAlso, this one. Brr!

 

Kenton Kilgore is forging a new direction in young adult science-fiction and fantasy.  His latest work-in-progress is This Wasted Land, a modern-fantasy/horror novel, to be published in early 2017.

Kenton is the author of Dragontamer’s Daughters, based on Navajo culture and belief.  He also wrote Lost Dogs, the story of a German Shepherd and a Beagle-mix who survive the end of the human world, only to find that their struggles have just begun. With Patrick Eibel, he created Our Wild Place, a children’s book about the joy to be found in exploring Nature.  

Follow Kenton on Facebook for daily posts on sci-fi, fantasy, and other speculative fiction. 

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here comes football!

And because I love the game so much, here’s an excerpt from This Wasted Land, my work-in-progress modern-fantasy/horror novel, about football.  Alyx, the 17-year old girl who narrates the book, asks her uncle about his former pro career.

“Uncle Tony, did you ever play for the Ravens?”

He sat back down. Puzzled look. “The Ravens? Like the Baltimore Ravens?”

“Yeah.”

“No, they came after my time. I played in the Eighties; the Ravens started in Ninety-Six. Though the funny thing is—well, it’s not THAT funny—is that the Ravens used to be the Browns.”

“Your team?”

“Yeah. Until that bastard Modell moved them to Baltimore.”

“Who?”

“Art Modell, the owner of the team.”

“Oh. Were you guys any good?”

“No, we were terrible, though we had some great players. Brian Sipe, Lyle Alzado, Ozzie Newsome. After he retired, Ozzie became the General Manager for the Ravens.”

“How about you? You must have been pretty good.”

“I was okay. I mean, sure, I was better than most of the other guys at Michigan—I was a fifth-round pick—but not compared to the guys in the NFL. I was a backup right guard, spent most of my time on the bench, unless someone got hurt. I started…I don’t know…maybe a dozen games. I lasted four seasons, then I got cut.” He chuckled. “And right after that, the Browns went to the playoffs five straight times. Go figure. Couldn’t win the big one, though.”

“That’s…that’s kinda sad. I mean, it’s a shame that all that time you played, it was for a bad team.”

“Ah, I’m okay with it now. I got to make a living playing a great game, I never got hurt too bad, I saved my money, and I was able to go into business for myself. Lots of other guys I played with weren’t so lucky.”

I nodded. “Dad used to talk about you all the time. Said you were rich and famous.”

“I was neither, but it worked out for me. And your father was just a little kid—the baby of the family—when I was playing. Your grandma doted on him. Spoiled him. That’s why Don turned out the way he did.”

I smiled. “I don’t even remember her. I think we went to visit them once, at Christmas.”

“I was there. You were four. All of us used to get together every year for the holidays, because that was the rule at our house: no matter where you lived, no matter how old you were, everyone came home for Thanksgiving and Christmas. That’s what your grandpa insisted on. He said that’s what being a family’s about.”

“But not my dad?”

“Not, not Don. Most of the time, it was because he was deployed. Other times, he just couldn’t be bothered. And your grandpa and grandma let him get away with that.” He shook his head. “By then, those weren’t the parents that raised me: those were old people trying to get into Heaven.”

“That’s funny.”

“It’s true.” He sighed. “I shouldn’t be talking about your dad like that.”

“It’s okay. I don’t like him much, either.”

“Well, nothing we can do about it. He is who he is.” My uncle stood up. “Don’t let me keep you from your homework.”

“I’m done, anyway.”

“Okay.” He cocked his head. “When did you start liking football?”

“I don’t, but this guy Sam asked me to go to the Homecoming game. And the dance.”

He nodded. “I see.”

“So, I was wondering, if you have some time before your trip, if you could tell me about football. You know, like explain it.”

“Wouldn’t you rather just look it up online?”

“No, it sounds more interesting when you talk about it.”

“Well, I have time now,” he said, and sat down again. “This boy who asked you out—is he a Ravens fan?”

“Yeah.”

“Ugh. Do me a favor: after the dance, dump him.” I smiled. He did, too.

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Kenton Kilgore is forging a new direction in young adult science-fiction and fantasy.  His latest work-in-progress is This Wasted Land, a modern-fantasy/horror novel, to be published in early 2017.

Kenton is the author of Dragontamer’s Daughters, based on Navajo culture and belief.  He also wrote Lost Dogs, the story of a German Shepherd and a Beagle-mix who survive the end of the human world, only to find that their struggles have just begun. With Patrick Eibel, he created Our Wild Place, a children’s book about the joy to be found in exploring Nature.  

Follow Kenton on Facebook for daily posts on sci-fi, fantasy, and other speculative fiction. 

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“the song remains the same”…

but the name changes.  As you might know, I’m working on a new young adult modern-fantasy/horror novel.  Alexandra “Alyx” Williams is a rebellious Korean-American high school senior who loves motorcycles, sketching, retro hard rock, and her boyfriend Sam.  When Sam is abducted by a shapeshifting hag and dragged off to a nightmare realm, Alyx pursues, bent on rescuing him no matter what terrors she has to face.

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Told from Alyx’s point of view, this novel has monsters you won’t find anywhere else, complex and vivid characters, “classic rock” references—and a new name!  The working title had been In Lonely Lands (a nod to Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s poem “The Eagle”), but now is This Wasted Land.  If that made you think of T.S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land,” you’re on the right track, but it also quotes an epic Led Zeppelin song.

Good Things Come to Those Who Wait.  I’ve finished 10 out of 21 planned chapters of This Wasted Land.  Originally, I had hoped to publish it in December, but the Dreaded Real Life ™ has delayed me (For example, re-doing the floors in my home has eaten a lot of my spare time).

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A lot of people are eagerly looking forward to TWL, but I don’t want to rush it and release something I’m not proud of.  After revising the schedule, I believe I can get it out no later than May 1 of next year.  So look for This Wasted Land in Spring, 2017.  You can follow my progress here and my Facebook page.

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Nervous About Public Speaking?  I used to be, too.  If you’d like some tips on overcoming anxiety about speaking to groups, come to my presentation on Saturday, September 17, from 10:00 am to noon at the Kent Island Branch of the Queen Anne’s County Public Library.  I’ll be speaking to the Eastern Shore Writers Association about what’s worked for me in selling books, but a big part of that involves overcoming one’s fears about meeting and talking to lots of people.

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And if you’ve ever considered writing and publishing, I’ll be glad to share with you what I’ve learned.  Plus, you’ll get the chance to meet some Eastern Shore authors and scope out their great books.  I hope to see you there!

Gearing Up For the Holidays.  Christmas is coming, and books make great gifts.  If you live on the Eastern Shore, I’ll be at the Artisans Bazaar at St. Christopher’s Catholic Church on November 12 from 10 am to 3 pm.  I’ll also be at the 20th annual Heck with the Malls! on December 3 from 9 am to 2 pm.  In addition to selling the books I’ve already published, I’ll tell you about This Wasted Land.

If you don’t live on the Eastern Shore but you’d like some signed copies, e-mail me (kentonkilgoreATkentonkilgoreDOTcom) and we’ll work something out.

Reviews: More Important Than You Might Think.  I need your help!  Research has shown that reviews on Amazon are a major factor in the success of authors and their books.  So if you’ve enjoyed Lost Dogs, my first novel Dragontamer’s Daughters, or my children’s book Our Wild Place, please click on the link and leave an honest review.

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