Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Golden Moment

Gentle readers, as a gift from me to all of you, I offer a short holiday story set in the same world as my book, The Marvelous Land of Ap.  I hope everyone has a joyous Christmas and a fabulous New Year.
Warmest regards,
George R. Shirer

A Holiday Tale of the Marvelous Land of Ap
It had been a hard winter in Ap. Thick snow blanketed the land and the River Surprise had frozen, so that a fat man could walk from one bank to the other without fear of falling through the ice. The days were short, the nights were long, and both were frigid. It had been a season of raging blizzards and creeping ice-fogs. No one went outside unless it was necessary. Some people decided to take sleeping potions and snooze their way through the bitter season. Most folks remained awake, to watch the hands of the calender-clocks creep toward Spring. However, before Spring could arrive, Winter had to end, and tonight was the night of Winter’s End.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Marvelous Land of Ap Free Promo!

Hello, gentle readers!

Today and tomorrow, my latest book, The Marvelous Land of Ap, will be available as a free download for Kindle.

* * * * *

Charlie has lived in the Marvelous Land of Ap since he was a teenager. He doesn't miss the world at all.
Ella has just arrived in Ap, and can't wait to go home.
Until that happens, Charlie has agreed to look after Ella.
Unfortunately, this arrangement gets complicated when Charlie's duty takes him, a reluctant Ella, and a young boy named Thimble from the safety of Ap, into the uncertain dangers of the Dustlands.

* * * * *

As you can probably guess, gentle readers, the book is a fantasy and it leans more toward The Wizard of Oz than The Lord of the Rings.  It's available at Amazon, around the world, thru Christmas Eve.


Friday, December 21, 2012

Fiction: On His Feet


It happened at three in the morning, the midnight of the soul. Jack was awake when the sure knowledge that the world was going to end just landed in his brain. He blinked and lay in bed, staring at the bedroom ceiling. Next to him, Pam muttered something in her sleep, then grew quiet.

For a minute, Jack thought about waking his wife. They had been married for fifteen years. Three years too long if Jack was going to be completely honest. Still, shouldn’t they be together at the end?

No, decided Jack. Let her sleep.

Carefully, he climbed out of bed and left the bedroom. He walked to the kitchen and took the chocolate cake out of the refrigerator. Grabbing a fork from the air dryer, Jack walked out onto the porch.

He sat in the rocking chair Pam had bought him as a gag gift for his last birthday. The joke was on her, though, as the chair had become Jack’s favorite. He dug into the cake. It was cold and a little dry, but not bad.

Overhead, the stars were winking out. In the distance, the world seemed to be growing vague and indistinct, quietly drifting away into mist and shadow.

Jack didn’t feel afraid and he wondered about that. The idea of death had always frightened him, mainly because there was no guarantee that there would be anything after it.

Now, though, he knew with bedrock certainty that there was something. That knowledge removed death’s sting.

He ate another forkfull of cake and watched the world come undone. The moon drifted away into white smoke. Down the street, the new condos evaporated.

The end drew near. Jack put aside the cake and stood to meet it.

And, as it swept over him, as Jack faded into mist and shadow, he wondered.

What happens next?

He was looking forward to finding out.

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Fall Back

Ladies and gentlemen, over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been telling fortunes at a couple of parties. It’s fun, easy money and gives me a chance to meet some new people.

This past Friday, I worked a party that I had been laughingly referring to as ‘the cougar party’ all week. The lady who hired me was definitely the cougar type. A real man-eater although I didn’t realize how big a man-eater until later.

I left early to make sure I could find the address. I’m glad I did as the house did not meet my expectations; it exceeded them. It was a rambling, two-story brick set in a very chichi neighborhood. A country club, thoroughbred-horse-raising sort of neighborhood.

I wasn’t certain I had the right address until I rang the front door and there was my employer, La Cougar. You would probably recognize the type if you saw her. Older, tan, moisturized, oozing confidence and surrounded by a cloud of expensive, floral perfume. Every strand of her platinum hair was in place and she wore a strand of pearls around her neck that she would toy with all evening.

She led me into the living room, an open space with pale walls and pastel-colored, soft furniture. La Cougar’s guests were obviously cut from the same cloth as herself. They sat around the glass coffee table, sipping cocktails and quietly congratulating the guest-of-honor on her recent divorce.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I was working a ‘divorce party.’

The fortune telling went over well. The ladies were relaxed and amused. They wanted to know about their love lives, their sex lives.  Would they get married again? Would the trip to Spain work out?

As the night passed, the wine flowed and the ladies became more relaxed. More salacious. The conversation drifted to talk of husbands, ex-husbands, boyfriends and even the occasional liaison. It was informative, if not always flattering.

After I had finished the last reading, La Cougar took me by the arm and led me into the dining room to pay me. She was very relaxed at this point, leaning into me. Her words were a little slurred, her fingers toying with her pearls. She sent her housekeeper to fetch her checkbook and patted my arm, told me how pleased she was with my performance and that she would recommend me to all of her friends. Even if she was genteelly tipsy, I think she was sincere.

The doorbell rang just as the housekeeper returned, but one of the guests announced she would get the door. La Cougar started to write me a check when her guest returned, followed by a young man wearing a Domino’s delivery jacket.

The young man, said the guest, was lost.

"I have a special delivery with extra sausage," explained the delivery boy. "But I don’t know where it goes."

He walked up to the guest of honor, a plump, pink older lady.

"Could you tell me where it goes?" He asked her.

At which point somebody turned on the stereo and the guy began to strip.

La Cougar had been writing my check, but the minute the stripper began to dance, she lost all interest in paying me. She was too busy staring at this young, lanky, blonde boy peeling his clothes off.

The housekeeper shook her head and led me into the kitchen. We sat at the kitchen table, where she proceeded to have a glass of wine, while looking through the shutters at the action in the living room.

"Scandalous," she said, shaking her head. But she had a little smile on her face when she said it.

From the noise in the living room, it looked like it’d be a while before La Cougar returned, so I asked the housekeeper if she wanted her cards read for free. She declined, saying she didn’t hold with fortune telling. However, I couldn’t help but notice she had no problem ogling the stripper. Or opening another bottle of wine.

The wine loosened her up some and she told me about La Cougar. How she had been married and widowed three times, each of her husbands richer and older than the last. No wonder she could afford such a nice house.

After a while, the music and noise from the living room ended. La Cougar returned, face flushed, eyes bright, patting her hair into place. She apologized for keeping me waiting, but she hadn’t known her friend had hired the stripper. Then wrote me a check and showed me to the front door where the stripper reappeared, mostly dressed, clenching a handful of cash. We walked out the front door together.

"Do you work for that lady?" the stripper asked me, looking at me, trying to figure out what someone like me could possibly be doing for La Cougar.

"She hired me to work the party," I explained.

He gave me a funny look. "What do you do?"

"I tell fortunes."

"Oh. I thought you were another stripper."

I just looked at him. "You’re kidding. Right? Is there a demand for fat, white strippers?"

He thought about it for a minute then said, "Probably."

So, gentle readers, if the writing thing doesn’t work out, I may have something to fall back on.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Fighting the Darkness

Over on Facebook a friend of mine reacted to news of the Connecticut elementary school shootings by voicing the opinion that we live in a sick and broken world.

In the face of such horror, as happened in Connecticut, it’s difficult to argue with that opinion. It doesn’t help that the media bombards us with awful stories on a daily basis.

However, I think it’s important to point out that, especially at this time of year, the world is not an awful place. I genuinely think that people are a little kinder around Christmas, that they become more self-reflective. We all try to be better people at this time of year.

I think that, in light of today’s events, perhaps especially because of today’s events, that we need to be mindful of the goodness in the world and in ourselves. We need to foster it and make it grow, we need to spread it to the people around us.

I don’t think you have to do anything big to do it either. Hug your kids. Tell your wife that you love her. Sit down and talk to that coworker who looks ground down.

Do something good.

Be kind.

Fight the darkness.

If we don’t, who will?

Monday, December 10, 2012

Let's Get Physical

Hello, gentle readers. How is everyone doing today?

I’m doing fine, thank you for wondering.

This weekend was fairly productive for yours truly. I got the critique/proofread of my upcoming book, The Marvelous Land of Ap, from my new Editrix this past Friday. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. My Editrix caught a couple of things I’d missed, made some suggestions and, generally speaking, did not have to use the whip.


Saturday, I worked on the book a little, but most of the day was devoted to pleasure and indolence. Basically, I spent the day lying around, eating potato chips and browsing Amazon.

Yesterday, however, was very busy. I decided to test the waters with CreateSpace for The Marvelous Land of Ap. And I can say, with some authority, that using CreateSpace was no more stressful than preparing e-books for Kindle.

Amusingly, after correcting my page size and uploading my files, I realized I needed to add page numbers to the book. I’ve gotten so used to reading on Kindle and having it auto-save my place, that the practical purpose of page numbers completely slipped my mind.

As I type this, the author’s proof of my book is being printed. I should have it in my eager little hands in a few days and, if it passes muster, I’ll have a print-on-demand book ready for the masses.


Sunday, December 2, 2012


This blog entry is dedicated with sincere affection to Anna, Dot, Molly and Laverne. The B-listers. Long may they rock!
This weekend I drove up to the mountains to spend some time with an old friend, Anna. She’s in a band and they’re heading west, stopping off at cities along I-40 as they trek toward Los Angeles.

It was nice to see Anna again. The last time I saw her, I was pretty sure I wouldn’t see her again. I had resigned myself to that, so when I got her e-mail telling me that the band would be in Cherokee for the weekend and would I like to come up? I was caught off guard.

Still, I figured what the heck? Hopped in the car Saturday and drove to the mountains.

I thought the band was playing a gig in Cherokee, but it turned out they were just enjoying a final, lazy weekend before they start heading across the country. We got to hang out, go to dinner, lose some money in the casino.

At one point, there may or may not have been a game of strip poker. I will never say for certain.

I was invited to stay the night, but decided against it.

When I left Cherokee that evening, there was a haunted moon in the sky and an invitation buzzing in my ear.

A year ago I’d been driving across the country along I-40. Earlier that evening I’d told the ladies some of my experiences.

They asked if I’d be interested in heading cross-country with them. Basically, I’d be a roadie, helping set up at gigs and taking a turn driving the van.

Ladies and gentlemen, I’m not going to lie and say I wasn’t tempted.

As I drove home that evening, my feet itched. I’ve got a mild case of the wanderlust and the thought of traveling cross-country again is appealing. Lately, I’ve been thinking how much I’d like to return to San Simeon, revisit Solvang and the Painted Desert.

There were sights I missed the first time round that I could catch this time. The Winchester House. The London Bridge in Lake Havisu City. Las Vegas.

However, I knew as soon as I got behind the wheel of my car and drove out of Cherokee, that I wouldn’t be taking the offer. It would have been a lot of fun traveling along I-40 with the band. We got on like a house on fire.

But I want to do what I want to do and, this month, that means returning to work on Dawnwind: Resurrection. That story has been lying, patient and still, in the back of my mind a long time and now it’s starting to get restless. It wants attention and I want to give it to it.

So, I declined the offer to live a rock-n-roll lifestyle, to travel cross-country in a van with four very talented and very sexy ladies, setting up amps and living off truck stop food. Instead, I’m going to focus on finishing Resurrection and getting The Marvelous Land of Ap out there for the public.

We all have to make choices.

This is mine.

I don’t regret it.