So if you’ve been reading this blog for any time at all, you know my latest publication — fiction, this time — just came out this month. The title is Finis., the genre is magic realism, and the length is novelette (a classification that occurs in speculative fiction genres, but which is essentially a short novella). The response so far has been quite good. However, when searching for my book on Barnes & Noble and other retailers, some people have noticed there is some other genre work out there with similar titles to my book, which appear to be related to The Book of Revelations — and my story couldn’t be much farther from that!! So to clear up some confusion, here’s an excerpt from my Finis., just for you — the first chapter. (More information about the story follows the excerpt.)
ELSA’S PARENTS and sister have become meaner than usual, and her cat, Jonas, resents her. She has a nagging concern he wants to eat her.
“He bit me again this morning — I woke up to find half the toes on my left foot in his mouth! I kicked him away but he just came back, all fangs and hissing, till I locked him in the coat closet.”
But that’s only the beginning, Elsa tries to explain to her cousin Gerard. She has to speak in short bursts: he’s conducting his water exercises, his head bobbing in and out of the water in orderly arcs. She knew she’d be interrupting his routine, but this morning’s episode has brought things to a head. On her way to work, anxiety commandeered her every thought and movement. Before she could catch her breath, she found herself tearing through Gerard’s garden gate and rushing to his salt-water pool.
“Oh, Elsa,” he says, his feet spiraling around a large stalk of kelp just below the water’s surface. He runs a watery hand across his spiky brown hair, and brine curls down his back. “What are you going to do?”
“What’s even worse, my landlord left another threat-of-eviction notice today.” She sets her briefcase down near a baby potted corpse flower and ventures closer to the pool. “I’ve done nothing wrong. My rent is always on time. I’m a quiet, orderly tenant. I thought getting a cat would mollify the building association, but unless I become a cat, I don’t think it’ll help.”
Gerard dunks, flips neatly into a ball, and spins back up; he swims to where she stands at the edge of the pool and rises. “Have you had any hints of your self?” He looks at her carefully, scrutinizing, and she wants to shrink into the empty void of mediocrity. Still, his voice is tender. “Anything at all?”
“No,” she murmurs, mesmerized by the ripples his body makes, the way the water slaps against the side of the pool and then laps backward over itself, folding the brine under to dissolve in a never-ending cycle of thrash and renewal.
“I’m not sure I approve of where you’re living, anyway. Those nasty gangs — I read about them in the newspaper. Packs attacking Plain Ones right and left, even children.”
“I saw that, too. They usually go for adults, though — people who ought to have blossomed by now.” Her shame for the disgrace she’s caused her family burns on her face.
Gerard smiles. “Come in for a swim. You’ll feel better.” He shoots backward through the water, darkened spiny ridges flashing on his skin.
She almost wants to but imagines how painful it would be. “I can’t,” she says, then makes an excuse. “Work.”
“Of course. The monster.”
“I’ve never been a swimmer, anyway.” Even standing for too long in the shower makes her skin feel prickly and sore; she usually just soaps up before turning the water on and then washes her hair in the sink. “I think I’m allergic to water.”
He laughs. “Off you go, then. See you later–” His words bubble as he dives backward.
Elsa trudges out the gate, hardly even waving back at the friendly centaur trimming his hedges next door.
Finis. is an ebook, but if it had a back cover, this would be its blurb:
Elsa’s family grows more unkind by the week. Her boss, a seven-foot-tall rage demon, has control of everything but his anger. And her cat wants to eat her. Things could be better.
In a world where one’s Animal Affinity is a sign of maturity and worth, Elsa’s inability to demonstrate hers is becoming more than a disappointing nuisance; it’s becoming a danger. She has no confidence she’ll ever conquer her Plainness by “blossoming.” She also fears both the wolf packs that prowl her neighborhood and being stuck in a life plummeting rapidly from lackluster to perilous. Fortunately, she has a cousin and a co-worker who know her better than she knows herself and can see through to what society won’t.
Finis. is the magic realism of our time, a story of finding one’s way to the end of things, of persevering through the dregs of life to discover something more.
See advance praise in the following online listings, where Finis. is available for purchase:
Finis. is also available in Apple’s iBooks Store. And here’s its listing on Goodreads.
If you don’t have an e-reader, no worries! Amazon has a free Kindle app that will allow you to turn your device (laptop, tablet, or smartphone) into an e-reader. Finally, one more lucky person will win a free copy of the ebook by participating in my back-to-school poetry contest over on Twitter. You can also find the Facebook page for Finis. here. (Go on over and Like it. It’s okay, I’ll wait.)
If you’ve read the story, please consider leaving a review at one of the abovementioned places. I love hearing from my readers and am interested in what you think!
UPDATE (less than half an hour after this post went live): The Twitter contest is now closed! Thank you to everyone who participated. I may do another give-away in the future, so watch this space and Twitter for information about that. Cheers!