About WMG Publishing
Founded in 2010, WMG Publishing, Inc. is located in Lincoln City, OR. The company publishes more than 450 fiction and nonfiction titles in trade paperback, ebook and audiobook formats. In 2013, the company launched Fiction River: An Original Anthology Magazine, which publishes six volumes a year containing short fiction from New York Times bestsellers to debut authors. For more information about the company, go to www.wmgpublishing.com or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
The Latest News
I have some exciting news to share this week. We launched our third Fiction River subscription drive on Kickstarter last Monday, and this campaign is even bigger and better than any subscription drive we’ve done in the past.
In addition to this being the perfect time for readers to start or renew their subscriptions and writers to take advantage of workshop discounts, we’ve added a high backer reward just to keep things interesting. We’ve also added more stretch goals than ever before that not only include potential new volumes of Fiction River, but also bonus books from WMG’s vast inventory and a never-before-offered open call for submissions stretch goal.
So, why do we do our subscription drives on Kickstarter? Well, Fiction River is self-sufficient, but bimonthly publications don’t remain self-sufficient if they don’t get new subscribers every now and then. We could do an old-fashioned subscription drive, but we feel that’s a waste of time and paper. We’d rather have fun on Kickstarter. After all, Fiction River is a fun magazine to publish.
So, please help spread the word about our Kickstarter campaign—to your friends, your family, your Twitter or Instagram followers, heck anybody you kinda sorta like. We’ve got great deals on subscriptions, including discounted lifetime subscriptions for magazines and workshops. The Back to School packages (a Kickstarter exclusive) have returned. And the stretch goals add bonuses upon bonuses so that every supporter from the $15 level and higher gets another ebook on top of their reward pledge for each stretch goal level—that’s 25 bonus books if we reach the $50,000 stretch goal level!
Check out the full campaign and all it has to offer by clicking here.
We’re off to a good start already (we’ve made it to our first stretch goal!), but we need your help to spread the word! You can even send a link to this blog if you like. If nothing else, you should watch the Kickstarter video; it’s filled with lots of adorable cats.
For those of you who have already supported and/or shared this Kickstarter, thank you so much for being part of the Fiction River family!
Allyson Longueira is publisher of WMG Publishing. She is an award-winning writer, editor and designer.
I’m lucky to have a loving and supportive family. And I mean that: I know just how lucky I am. Because I know plenty of people who don’t—even some in my own family.
Maybe I should say I’m lucky with my immediate family. My mom, dad, stepmother, stepfather and sister are all amazing. Not perfect, mind you, but amazing. My sister is one of my very best friends, and I talk to my parents, all of them, often. Even more amazingly, we all get along and all talk to each other. Even though we have different political and religious views. Even though my mom and dad divorced years ago. Even though my sister and I fought like cats and dogs growing up.
We love each other. That trumps any and all disagreements.
As it should be.
But, sadly, that’s not always the case with family. My mother’s own family, for example, was a mess. Alcoholic parents, one of whom was an abusive narcissist. Six siblings who range from barely functional alcoholics to relatively well adjusted. My mom is one of the relatively well-adjusted ones, thankfully. It took years of therapy to become so, and I’m proud of the work she put in to do so.
I distanced myself—literally and figuratively—from most of my mother’s extended family years ago. I don’t believe being “family” means subjecting yourself to toxic people.
I believe true family is the people who love and support us. Sometimes, they’re biologically related. Sometimes they’re not. I am lucky to have a large and supportive family.
Kristine Kathryn Rusch writes a number of stories about the intricacies and complications of family. One of them, “My Real Cousin Ruby,” is her Free Fiction Monday story this week. The story was originally published in Fiction River: Fantasy Adrift.
Here’s the story synopsis:
For as long as she can remember, she has had two cousins named Ruby. Her so-called cousin, who lives in this world and whom she can’t stand, and the cousin she meets in her dreams—her Real Cousin Ruby.
Her siblings all dream about Real Cousin Ruby, too. But why?
In “My Real Cousin Ruby,” World Fantasy Award winner Kristine Kathryn Rusch challenges the border between reality and the land of dreams. And what crosses that border leaves serious consequences behind on both sides.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go call my sister.
Allyson Longueira is publisher of WMG Publishing. She is an award-winning writer, editor and designer.
I spent the weekend in Spokane, Wash., for a Kiwanis District Convention. Spokane is about an eight-hour drive from Lincoln City. Most of the drive out was shrouded in a smoke-filled haze. All of the drive back was shrouded in smoke, sometimes so thick that it felt like driving through dense fog. It was surreal.
It reminded me of The Matrix, and the line “We’re the ones who burned the sky.” I covered plenty of storms in my journalism career, and plenty of destruction, including all kinds of fires. But the scope of the wildfires’ impact was very sobering.
It made the landscape feel like an alien world.
Or an apocalyptic one.
Which brought me back to The Matrix. I remember when that movie first came out. It was a game-changer. Not just because of the special effects, but also because it touched on so much of our fears of technology at the time. Computers, and especially AI, were relatively new and scary. We were preparing for Y2K, which turned out to be a non-event but was feared to bring Armageddon at the time.
So, having a movie where the main character discovers—SPOILER ALERT—he’s in a computer-created simulation (and in reality, a slave and energy source for machines) was one hell of a premise. And the moment Neo finds that out—that was one doozy of a plot twist.
P.S. The fact that I felt the need to put a spoiler alert on the plot twist from a 20-year-old movie is in itself a plot twist I didn’t see coming.
Have I mentioned I love plot twists?
Speaking of, there’s still time to get the SF Plot Twist Storybundle, but not much. It ends this week, so if you haven’t already purchased yours, be sure to click here now for more information.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go search the Internet for updates about the rumors that Warner Bros. is working on a Matrix 4.
Allyson Longueira is publisher of WMG Publishing. She is an award-winning writer, editor and designer.
We’ve been talking a lot around the office lately about the Cold Poker Gang series by Dean Wesley Smith. We’ve been doing some heavy promotion for this series and it’s given these fantastic books some well-deserved attention.
Now, here’s the really fun part: These books aren’t new. Newer, yes, but the latest novel in this series was released last year. There will be more, I’m sure, but it wasn’t a new release in this eight-books series that prompted the promotion. We simply decided to experiment and see what happened. And that’s the freedom of non-traditional publishing.
Our experiment worked. We used book promotion sites like Bookbub and Freebooksy (we had already dropped the ebook price for Kill Game, the first book in the series, to free). And then we dropped the ebook price of the remaining novels to $3.99 each.
And sales for the series took off like wildfire. Now, mind you, the first book—the one we were promoting—is free. It’s the rest of the series that people are actually paying for.
Discoverability is the biggest challenge for any author or small press. But once you achieve that, you still need to back it up with substance. Bad books aren’t going to sell no matter what you do.
But good books? They just need that spark.
The Cold Poker Gang Mysteries are great series of because they combine good stories with compelling characters. And I firmly believe that it’s the characters that make it. Retired detectives solving cold cases, strong male and female protagonists—these are easily relatable and likable characters. Dean has really hit on something here.
For me, I’m pleased with the sales results (obviously, that’s my job), but I’m more pleased that these wonderful books are finding a wider audience. They deserve it.
And if you still haven’t tried this series, perhaps this will convince you to start. Kill Game is still free in ebook and the rest of the books remain at $3.99 for now.
You can read all about the series here.
So, go on, succumb to peer pressure. This is one of the few times you should.
I’m a hard reader to surprise. That’s to be expected, really, given what I do for a living. As a writer, editor and publisher, I’m far too involved in what makes a good story to be easily taken in by one. So, when I can’t forget a story—or find myself getting sucked in to it again and again when I’m supposed to be doing something, you know, work-related—I take note.
And if a writer can surprise me, well, that’s something truly unexpected.
Every writer in this bundle did just that: gave me something unexpected. Be it a twist I didn’t see coming, a voice I didn’t expect to hear, or an expression of emotion I wasn’t prepared for, these wonderful stories gave me a great gift. And that’s why I’ve chosen to share them with you in the SF Plot Twist Storybundle.
Included in the bundle is Fiction River Presents: The Unexpected, edited by me. This short fiction anthology is the inspiration for the whole bundle. I’ve also included another short fiction anthology, Captain’s Log: Boundary Shock Quarterly #1, edited by Blaze Ward, with stories ranging “from the silly to the sublime.” And we have Daughter of Nothing, a young adult dystopian novel by Eric Kent Edstrom, and Magician’s Choice, a space fantasy/alternate history novel by Stefon Mears.
As a bonus, we have Laying the Music to Rest, a twisty-turny time travel novel by USA Today bestselling author Dean Wesley Smith; The Falls: A Diving Universe Novel, a far future sf thriller by Hugo Award-winning author Kristine Kathryn Rusch; The Knight Deception, a near future sf thriller by Derringer Award-nominated author Ron Collins; Day 9, the 2013 International Book Award winner by Robert Jeschonek; Faster, a superhero novel by the incomparable Annie Reed; and Awaken the Star Dragon, a brand-new novel by Blaze Ward.
As always, at StoryBundle, you name your own price—whatever you feel the books are worth, and a portion of the proceeds goes to charity—in this case, AbleGamers For $5 (or more, if you feel generous), you’ll get the basic bundle of four books in any eBook format—WORLDWIDE. If you pay $15 (or more, if you feel generous), you’ll get the six bonus books as well.
This bundle runs for three weeks only. So, act fast, because the amazing value of the Storybundle is no surprise at all.
If you’re wishing you could take break from reality about now, how about escaping into some fantastic short fiction? Issue #3 of Pulphouse published last Thursday, and it’s cheaper than any vacation. Best of all, you get to enjoy it from wherever you are.
Here’s the Table of Contents:
“Time, Expressed as an Entrée” by Robert Jeschonek
“The Four Thirty-Five” by Annie Reed
“The Clockwork Man’s Canteen” by J. Steven York
“Red Carnation” by Lee Allred
“This Magic Moment” by Lisa Silverthorne
“Pinning the Rap” by O’Neil De Noux
“Daddy’s Little Girls” by James C. Glass
“Catastrophe Baker and the Ship Who Purred” by Mike Resnick
“Active Reader” by Mark Leslie
“Collector’s Curse: A Dan Shamble Zombie PI Adventure” by Kevin J. Anderson
“A Good Negro” by Ezekiel James Boston
“Fiction” by Jerry Oltion
“Alien Automotive” by Kent Patterson
“You Go Too Far” by Ray Vukcevich
“The One Left” by Valerie Brook
“Who’s the Abomination?” by Johanna Rothman
“The Case of the Vanishing Boy: A Spade/Paladin Conundrum” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
I promised in last week’s blog that I would have more information in this week’s blog about the WMG Publishing Business Master Class. Well, I keep my promises.
If you’ve been to the Master Class before and are thinking “been there, done that,” you couldn’t be more wrong. This year’s class features some amazing developments that take the Master Class to a whole new level (and that’s saying something).
Some of these changes were facilitated by the workshop’s move to Las Vegas. Others are the result of a rapidly evolving industry. But what won’t change: the incredible amount of information exchanged in this must-attend workshop, which will be held Oct. 19-24, 2018, at the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas.
Here are the highlights:
WMG Publishing Business Master Class: The Cutting Edge of the Publishing Business
New York Times and USA Today bestselling writers and renowned business and industry bloggers Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Dean Wesley Smith lead this intense five days of business and publishing learning.
Kris and Dean are joined by nine other experts.
— Mark Leslie (Lefebvre), acclaimed writer, podcaster, editor, and formally with Kobo.
— Kevin J. Anderson, New York Times bestselling writer and co-owner of the premier indie press Wordfire Press.
— Rebecca Moesta, New York Times bestselling writer and co-owner of the premier indie press Wordfire Press.
— David Farland, New York Times bestselling writer, Hollywood expert, and executive editor for Writers of the Future.
— David P. Vandagriff, aka The Passive Guy. Premier blogger, expert in publishing contracts, and an IP attorney.
— Christina F. York, bestselling science fiction and mystery writer under a number of names.
— Gwyneth Gibby, WMG Publishing Associate Publisher and an expert on the promotions aspects in publishing.
— Andrea Pearson, host of the popular Self-Publish Strong podcast.
— Donna Cook, author, editor, and publishing consultant.
Plus others to be announced, including T. Thorn Coyle as panel moderator.
This is a business workshop. No writing, but a notebook full of notes and a lot of training. In fact, every topic a writer can imagine needing to be covered will be in this week at one point or another by experts. From cash flow to increasing sales to SEO to website design to cover and interior book design to blurbs to publisher catalogs to distribution of paper books to stores to production to learning how to write more to audio to overseas sales to contracts to bundles to… So much more.
This workshop focuses on selling more books, selling subsidiary rights, indie publishing, the business of indie and hybrid, and the constant changes overwhelming us all.
Plus, a focus on networking. Lunches with experts, group breakfasts, time to talk, and every evening a hospitality suite to talk and plan and get to know other professionals.
This is the Premier Publishing Business Workshop for indie writers.
You can read full bios on the instructors and find all the information you need to sign up here. And check back to that link often, because we’ll be adding new and exciting information as we continue to develop this incredible workshop.
Did you know that WMG Publishing not only publishes books, but we also offer all sorts of online workshops and lectures on topics ranging from writing craft to cover design to the business of indie publishing?
If so, did you also know that we offer lifetime subscriptions to those workshops and lectures?
The lifetime lecture package includes 32 courses for $1,000.
The lifetime workshop bundle includes 51 courses for $3,000.
You can find out more information about those courses and the lifetime subscriptions here.
We also host in-person workshops, which we recently moved to Las Vegas (they were near our headquarters on the Oregon Coast in the past). The in-person workshops are intensive and limited, which is why we have always promoted them separately from the online workshops.
For the first time, we’re bridging the gap between them by offering any lifetime workshop subscriber free tuition to our WMG Publishing Business Master Class, which will be held Oct. 19-24, 2018, at the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas.
The Business Master Class is a business workshop. No writing, but a notebook full of notes and a lot of training. In fact, every topic a writer can imagine needing to be covered will be in this week at one point or another by experts. From cash flow to increasing sales to SEO to website design to cover and interior book design to blurbs to publisher catalogs to distribution of paper books to stores to production to learning how to write more to audio to overseas sales to contracts to bundles to… So much more. Click here to learn more about the Business Master Class.
If you are a lifetime workshop subscriber (or become one by Sept. 1, 2018), click here to read more about this offer on Dean Wesley Smith’s blog.
I’ll have more to announce about the Business Master Class next week, so stay tuned. In the meantime, if you want to learn more about our in-person workshops, click here. For our online workshops and lectures, click here.
As someone in the book business (with a background in journalism), you’d think nothing would surprise me. I’ve seen it all, read it all. Well, most of it anyway. That’s why I love it when a book throws me for a loop.
But I don’t love that feeling in real life. I don’t love irrational behavior. And lately it seems I have more experience than I ever hoped for with such behavior. I’m not going to go into details about that in this blog (or anywhere in cyberspace), but this week I realized why I find dealing with delusional people unsettling.
It’s like looking into a funhouse mirror. You know what reality should be, and you expect that to be reflected back to you, but instead what you get back is so twisted and turned it is almost entirely unrecognizable.
Constantly dealing with that warped sense of reality can threaten to drive a sane and reasonable person crazy.
Fortunately, I have a bunch of (mostly) reasonable and (mostly) sane people in my support system. So, here I am. Still sane. Mostly.
And I realized that as I was writing this blog, I kept thinking about a story in Dean Wesley Smith’s Seeders Universe. It’s called “A Pity About The Delusion.”
So, I thought, why not post it here for free. You can find it at the end of this post.
Perhaps I’m the delusional one after all, since I’m supposed to be selling books for a living and I just gave two of them away for free.
Maybe. But that’s the kind of delusional I can get behind.
A Pity About the Delusion
Dean Wesley Smith
Mandi Meyers turned the big, white Ford Explorer SUV onto Bryant Street and drove slowly past all the suburban homes that were damn hard to tell apart. Luckily, most of them had big numbers attached to the wall beside the standard two-car garage door.
She was looking for 1622, which would be on her right side.
All the lawns had once been beautiful, but now were patches of weeds, brown and dead now that it was summer and hot. All the cars left on the street were parked in the driveways or along the curbs. There clearly hadn’t been that many people in this neighborhood home when the world ended. She figured that most everyone here had jobs in downtown Portland and had died there, their cars more than likely parked in a transit-station parking lot.
The few that had died here on Bryant Street in that mid-morning were either self-employed or the parent that stayed home with the kids. But school in this town had already started in late August when the world ended, so she doubted there would be many kids bodies here either, even though this neighborhood was clearly one for young families.
She was used to mummified bodies in cars and along sidewalks, still in the same positions where they had fallen three years before. It felt strange to not see any bodies at all.
And if not for the weeds and brown lawns from the summer heat, she wouldn’t have been able to tell anything at all was wrong with this subdivision.
When the world ended, she had been working for the United States Air Force after finishing college. She had been twenty-three that day three years ago and had survived because she was working about thirty feet underground when the electromagnetic pulse hit the Earth and killed everyone who wasn’t inside protection.
No one knew the pulse was coming from space. One minute the world had billions of people, the next there were only millions left, most scattered across the planet wondering what had happened.
Many of the survivors killed themselves shortly after the first wave of deaths or went insane, unable to come to grips with everyone they loved being dead. But Mandi had been single and young. When the wave hit, her parents, her only family, had just moved to a small town in the Portland, Oregon metropolitan area.
She actually hadn’t seen them for a number of years, so she really didn’t miss them that much.
She had stayed with the other survivors in her unit and slowly, over time, a form of national organization started to come back together.
It seemed a lot of people in the military had survived, and a lot of people in subways and in tunnels and so on. And everyone wanted to rebuild before too much was lost.
Now, there was a national plan to restart five cities in the country and Portland had been picked as one of those cities because of its nearness to clean water, its long growing season, and mild winters. She had volunteered to come here and live and work.
Mostly she had picked Portland because she knew she would find the time to finally deal with her parents.
She had arrived last week in the first wave and had been too busy setting up everything for the thousands of more that would follow to try to get here, to her parents’ home, before now.
So finally, after three years of wondering, it was time for her to face the loss of her family. She had always known they would be dead, but seeing them was another matter. She needed to do that, then at some point get help coming here to bury them.
Her best friend, Donna, had offered to come along to her parents’ new home on this first trip, but Mandi had declined, saying she needed to do this herself. She didn’t even know if they had been home that morning of the electromagnetic wave.
If not, her parents were somewhere in the city and were going to be tough to find among all the bodies. But since the new government was working to give every body a decent burial and record what information was with the body, she might find them eventually.
Donna had been really, really worried about her coming alone. She said what little Mandi had said about her parents had not been complimentary. But Mandi had insisted she would be fine.
It had taken her almost an hour from downtown Portland to work her way out her into the suburb city called Lake Oswego. Part of the way the big freeway had been cleared by her people.
And part of the way she had been forced to use the police bumper attached to the big SUV front to gently nudge a car or two out of the way.
But now this suburban street was clear.
The winding street turned to her right and then wound back to the left.
She was getting close. Then, as she came around a gentle bend in the street she could see her parent’s home.
The lawn was green.
Flowers were growing in the flowerbed along the sidewalk.
That wasn’t possible.
Mandi stopped the car and closed her eyes, then opened them again.
The lawn was still green among rows of brown lawns and the flowers were clearly being watered.
From military satellites, she knew that only two people had been living in downtown Portland itself, and there were scattered survivors living out in the suburbs, but she hadn’t really paid any attention to see if any of those survivors lived close to her parents’ address.
Let alone their very address.
She shook her head to try to clear it, but the green grass and flowers remained.
She pulled the big SUV over near the front of the house and sat there, shaking.
Then she took a couple of deep breaths.
She had to think and be clear or this could turn out very ugly.
She had no idea who was in that house or how sane they might be. She leaned over and took out the loaded service pistol she had put in the glove box of the big car.
Donna had insisted on that just in case.
With the pistol in one hand, she slowly climbed out of the big SUV and into the heat of the later afternoon sun. She tucked the pistol in the back of her jeans and ran her hands through her short, brown hair.
She had kept it short for the last three years since it was just easier to keep clean and take care of.
The green lawn was still there in front of her parent’s house, as impossible as it was.
She moved slowly up the walk towards the front door, some of her basic training coming back in.
She moved slowly, one hand on the gun, as she scanned the neighborhood, looking for anyone watching her.
Nothing moving at all in the heat.
Except for this one house, the neighborhood was dead.
She reached the front porch and rang the bell, feeling so numb she couldn’t believe any of this was possible.
Was she having a hallucination?
Had she gotten sick on the way out here, or was she having some sort of reaction to actually finally seeing her parents dead?
She had no idea who was going to answer that door or what kind of reception she was going to get. For all she knew, one of her parents had survived and had gone completely crazy in three years and wouldn’t even recognize her.
After a moment the door handle turned and the door swung open.
Her father stood there, trim and fit and looking younger than she remembered him.
And he was as naked as the day he was born, with a drink in one hand.
She forced herself to look only into his eyes.
Music drifted from the inside of the house and Mandi could smell the wonderful odor of baking cookies.
“Hey, Mandi,” her father said, smiling at her. “Glad you could make it. Come on in.”
She started to open her mouth, but she knew she could say nothing.
That was not the response she had expected at all.
“Don’t let all the cold air out,” he said, standing back from the door. “It’s hot enough in here as it is.”
He laughed at that for some reason.
It was a saying he always had said when she was growing up with them in Southern California.
She nodded to him and stepped through the door.
He shut the door behind her.
The cool, air-conditioned air felt wonderful after the heat outside.
And all the lights were on.
Somehow her father must have set up a generator to run the lights and the air-conditioning.
The home looked standard, right out of the 1990s, just as their home had been when she was growing up. Couches were nice brown cloth and the carpeting tan. A large-screen television sat in a large entertainment center on one wall, and two recliners faced that area.
There was a large dining area off the living room with an oak table with ten matching wooden chairs. A wide, carpeted hallway disappeared off to the right. It must go off to bathrooms and bedrooms.
This was a nice, spacious suburban home, nicely furnished and kept clean.
Then from the kitchen area off the dining room, Mandi’s mother shouted, “Who is it, dear?”
“Come see,” her father said, smiling at her. “Mandi has decided to join the party.”
Mandi recognized that phrase, but darned if she could place it.
Her mother came out of the kitchen, also totally nude and thinner than Mandi remembered.
Her mom smiled at her. “Glad you could make it, dear. Jim, get her a drink before the other guests get out of the pool.”
Mandi again just opened her mouth, then closed it.
What the hell could she even say?
It had been three years since the world had ended. Yet her parents seemed to think everything was normal and there were other guests in the pool.
And why were they standing around naked.
And why weren’t they excited to see her?
It felt more like she had just stepped back in time, into her own past. There was so much of that past she had pushed away and forgotten. This felt like part of it.
But that wasn’t possible.
She could feel the room spinning some, so she moved over to a chair at the kitchen table and dropped into it.
Her mother smiled at her and went back into the kitchen while her father went to the bar in one corner of the family room and started working on a drink for her.
Neither of them made any movement to cover up their nakedness in front of her.
At that moment, the sliding back door to the kitchen area opened and four other naked people walked in, all of them in their late twenties, all of them laughing and dripping wet.
Somewhere, in her distant memory, she recognized them.
All of them.
“This can’t be happening,” she said to herself, shaking her head.
She closed her eyes, but the laughing and the voices continued.
“Not feeling well, dear?” he father asked. “It’s okay if you just go back to your room.”
“Sure is,” he mom said, coming in and putting a plate of chocolate chip cookies on the kitchen table.
The four other nude people gathered around, each grabbing a cookie.
“You better get a couple of those before they’re gone,” he father said, winking at her.
Then all of the naked people went into the living room and sat down, laughing and talking while Mandi sat at the kitchen table, stunned.
She put her head down on the hard wood, jammed her eyes closed as she used to do when she was a young girl and didn’t want to see or know something her parents were doing, and just let the voices and the scene of six naked people sitting around fade away.
The next thing Mandi knew, a hand was gently touching her shoulder.
“Mandi? Mandi?” the voice whispered. “Are you all right?”
She pushed back from the table, stunned, almost tipping her chair over in the process.
The house was dark and hot and smelled like a tomb. She had dust on her hands and she was sure on her face where she had put her head on the dusty tabletop.
Donna stood there with Henry Stevens, one of the main contractors working on getting the airport back up and running. Both of them had flashlights tied to their heads and another in one hand.
“I got worried when you didn’t come back,” Donna said, “so Henry and I came to see if you were all right.”
“How long have I been gone?” Mandi asked, trying to brush herself off.
“Seven hours,” Donna said.
Mandi nodded and stood.
Donna handed her a flashlight and Mandi went out into the living room.
Six bodies were there, on the couch and chairs, none of them wearing clothes.
They had basically become mummies in the heat of the house.
Donna recognized her father in a big recliner and her mother sitting next to another man on the couch.
“My mother, my father,” Mandi said, shining a light on the two grinning skeletons as a way of introducing them to Donna and Henry.
Mandi just shook her head, staring at the scene. It had been just after eight in the morning on a weekday when the electromagnetic wave hit and killed most everyone. And yet her parents, even here in Portland, even at the age of forty, were still up to their old games.
“Do you know these other four?” Henry asked.
“More than likely neighbors,” Mandi said. “Over for a morning of sex and mate-swapping, more than likely, considering none of them are dressed.”
Donna glanced at her, a very worried look in her eyes.
“Don’t worry,” Mandi said, smiling at her friend. “I dealt with my parent’s behavior a long time ago, when I was very young. I had forgotten it until now.”
“Wow,” Henry said, shaking his head. “Way beyond my comfort level.”
Both Donna and Mandi nodded.
It had always been beyond Mandi’s comfort level. She had grown up with naked adults coming and going at all hours and the sounds of sex coming from strange places in the house. It was no wonder she wasn’t interested in sex or getting married.
She was really going to need some help getting past that childhood, if she ever could.
Maybe seeing them like this would help.
With one last look at her parents, she said, “Lets get out of here. Let them have their party. For them, it was the perfect way to leave the planet.”
She went toward the front door and waited until Henry and Donna were outside ahead of her. Then with one last look at the six naked mummified bodies in the suburban house, she said what she had always said to her parents when they told her they were “getting together with friends.”
As she pulled the door closed, she thought she caught the sound of laughter and ice in a glass making a clicking sound as someone drank for courage.
Or maybe that was just her memory.
“A Pity About the Delusion” copyright © 2013 Dean Wesley Smith, cover design copyright © 2013 WMG Publishing, cover photo by Ekaterina Yudina/Dreamstime.com
This book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. All rights reserved. This is a work of fiction. All characters and events portrayed in this book are fictional, and any resemblance to real people or incidents is purely coincidental. This book, or parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission.
I was talking to a friend the other day about watching the World Cup. My husband and I are watching as many games as we can and following the progression to the Round of 16 (and will continue along into the quarterfinals this week).
If you had asked during the last World Cup if I was a sports fan (for you non-soccer folks, the World Cup is played every four years), I would have said no (or even hell-no, depending on the sport).
Soccer (football to most of you) was one of those hell, no sports. I didn’t grow up watching it or playing it, so I didn’t have the base of knowledge I had for baseball and football (the US kind).
Add to this my acquired distaste of all sports, and the last thing I’d have done was flip on a World Cup match.
So when I mentioned watching the World Cup to my friend, she mentioned how she was still getting used to me being a sports fan.
And in that moment I realized that my distaste of sports had never been about the sports themselves, it was about the interpersonal relationships I was experiencing.
I loved watching sports as a kid. My dad played on the company softball team, and we’d be out every weekend cheering him on. He watched football and baseball at home, but not religiously, and I grew up cheering on the Yankees and Giants.
As a teenager, after my parents divorced and my mom remarried, I spent less time with my dad and more time with my stepfather. He was all sports, all the time. If there was a game on the TV, that was what we were watching, and we’d better be quiet. It wasn’t something we did together, really. It was a strong reminder of what I’d lost. And I learned to resent those sports.
When my ex-husband turned out to be the same kind of domineering sports fan my stepfather was, my resentment grew to loathing. It got so bad that the sound of sneakers on a basketball court were like fingernails on a chalkboard.
So imagine my dilemma when, two years ago, my now-husband invited me to attend the Pac-12 college basketball championships in Las Vegas. We had known each other for many years but only very recently started dating. Vegas sounded fun, but the basketball thing had me worried. How could I tolerate even one game, let alone a whole schedule of them? But I had a feeling about this guy, and he made everything else we did fun, so I decided to chance it.
I’m so glad I did.
We had a blast, and a whole new world of sports appreciation opened up for me. Because John doesn’t force me to watch sports because it’s some sort of patriarchal right. He includes me in his viewing experience. He helps me understand what’s going on in the sports he has more experience with than I. And sometimes, he proposes we learn a new sport together.
Which is how we’ve come to watch the World Cup this year.
As for who we’re rooting for? That one was easy, but I’ll leave you to guess which one it is.
And if you’d rather read about sports than watch them, check out Dean Wesley Smith’s nonfiction book “The First Tee Panic: And Other Very Real Golf Stories.”
Here’s the synopsis:
Former PGA Golf Professional and USA Today bestselling author Dean Wesley Smith walks you step-by-step, club-by-club from your car to the first tee and beyond in a laugh-out-loud style that not only teaches, but entertains. Any golfer recognizes the fears, the patterns, the downright horrors of the first shot of a round. Ever topped that first shot just off the front edge of the tee box? Or worse yet, whiffed it completely? Come on, admit it. It happened. Remember? The problems with that first shot don’t start with the swing. Nope, the problems start in the parking lot. And this book will get you flawlessly from the parking lot, through the clubhouse, onto the driving range, over the putting green, and finally successfully off the first tee with a smile.
You can buy the book here.