Category Archives: My world

Dogwoods vs. dog shit.

OK, folks. I meant to tell you this earlier. As you may have noticed, Adventures in Terror with Jasper Bohanon: Book One didn’t come out in December, even though it’s actually finished. Here’s why.

As the book came down the homestretch, I began wondering if it was really the best idea to split it into Book I and Book II. After much consideration, I have decided against that. Sometimes it seems important to have a lot of different titles out there, the notion being that there are a lot of bottles floating in the sea and the more bottles that have your name on them, the better chance that you’ll get lucky and somebody will actually pluck one out of the water, like what they find, then go diving for more bottles with your name on them.

But really, this goes against my most basic philosophy, which is that QUALITY RULES ALL. Or how about this: dogwoods are great year ’round, but dog shit sticks around for only a few days before the bugs eat it. Better to write and release one strong piece of work than rush out several mediocre ones just for the sake of having a longer list of search results under “Aaron Saylor.” I have to remember why I am doing this: not to make money, not to get Facebook likes, not to have Twitter followers. I’m doing this for the stories. I think they are worth sharing.

The truth is, Adventures in Terror was originally conceived as one book, then later split to A) allow me to release it sooner because I love it that much, and can’t wait to get it to you, and B) have two separate titles. In hindsight, that was a bad choice. But I’m fixing it.

The story was first plotted as one book, and I know – I guess I’ve always known – that as one book it should remain. Trying to make it something it isn’t will only hurt. It’ll hurt the book, it’ll hurt Grady and Jasper, and worst of all, it’ll hurt me. The publishing world is tough enough as it is, cluttered with mediocrity if not outright garbage, and I’d prefer to put out the very best book I can. If it takes a few more weeks, so be it.

I promise, the world will get Adventures in Terror later this year. If the wait breaks your heart, I’m sorry. I truly am. Just know that that we’ll both be the better for it, okay?

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RIP, Ms. Howell.

Fold your paper to the margin one last time. RIP, Ms. Howell. (Borrowed that from April Dawn, but it seems like the best line to say.)

My 6th grade English teacher passed away yesterday. She was from a different part of the world – the northeastern U. S., I think, Massachusetts or New York maybe, although I really can’t remember for certain and anyway, it might as well have been the planet Saturn to a 12-year-old from Eastern Kentucky . She favored Hush Puppies shoes and horn-rimmed eyeglasses that were a few years out of style, and never could quite get her pants long enough. Maybe that was because she was eight feet tall. She looked eight feet tall to me at the time. I still remember her looking like that, too; isn’t it funny, how we move along in our lives, but we think of people as they looked when we first knew them, as though they looked that way for the rest of their lives?

Also, Ms. Howell drove a dark green Volkswagen. It was an older model, a little beat up, and there were places where the paint peeled and you could see the primer underneath. I doubt she cared much, though; she never seemed like the type to be bothered by something as small as that. I’d rather believe she drove that car for her entire life and I suppose that’s just something else she will always have in my mind. Right now, I can’t remember if it was a Rabbit or a Beetle but I’m pretty sure it was one or the other.

Oh. I do remember that she taught in a Vietnamese village during the War. I remember that clearly because she talked about it sometimes in class. Even as a kid, I thought teaching Vietnamese villagers was a pretty damn brave thing to do; I hate to go outside in the rain, much less halfway around the world where it rains artillery shells and napalm.

In sixth grade, most of the kids thought Ms. Howell was pretty weird, and I’d be lying if I said I was any different. But looking back on it through the years, I started thinking of her as one of the coolest teachers I ever had. I don’t know how much she might have changed over the years, but I don’t need to know. Sometimes I just prefer to keep people the way they were.

Aaron

P.S.

I posted this on Facebook yesterday, but have now added the link to Ms. Howell’s obituary. There’s a picture, and it looks exactly how I remember her, except with bigger eyeglasses. Also, the obit confirms that she was born in Queens, New York (not Massachusetts), on Christmas Day. How about that.

A little bit…

I already shared this on Facebook (although I’ve edited a little since then), but not everybody follows me on Facebook (please change that) or Twitter (please change that, too). So, I decided to share a little bit from my new work here on this very blog.

I am sure we will discuss at greater length, but the quick version is that I just decided to write something about all the things I loved when I was in elementary school, and follow that through to all the things I love now, and hopefully will still love when I am Old, which is much less further away now than it used to be. This book has taken over my whole writing life, but quick.

Also — I’ll be giving away 10 e-book copies of Sewerville and publishing a new short story called “Me and Jasper Down at the Meth Shack” (which actually turned out to be a part of the same new book that is excerpted below) as soon as the Facebook page hits 1,000 “like”s. Just a handful away right now – help make a child’s dream come true!

So, here’s the new stuff:

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“Where’d you get those?” I gasped, pointin at the Fangorias like they was a sack full of hundred dollar bills.

“One place or another. Places where I get stuff. You know.” Jasper shrugged. As I’d soon find out, he shrugged at most matters in life. He could shrug to put a teenage girl to shame. He was a world renowned shrugger.

I stared at Jasper’s magazines for what felt like three days. Ain’t ashamed to say, I’d have given everything I had and half of what I didn’t to find out where he got them. It looked to my eyes like he might have every issue of Fangoria ever printed. Far as I was concerned, this was something like lookin at a unicorn.

Then… BOOM.

Buried in his collection, with just one dog-eared corner stickin out, was the Fangoria that ruled all other Fangorias. The one I desired like man desired to reach the stars, like Romeo desired Juliet, like Johnny Cash desired June Carter, like Roscoe P. Coletrain and Boss Hogg desired to one day run down them Dukes, them Dukes. At that point, I’d been tryin to get my hands on this particular issue for a good three or four years, or I should say, get my hands on it again.

Issue Number Nine.

Folks, we are talkin about the Ark of the Covenant here. Ask anybody that knows anything about Fangoria and scary flicks and bad ass stuff in general and they’ll back me up on this.

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Actually you don’t need to ask, because I’m tellin you right now: issue number nine – Issue Number Nine, it needs all capital letters – featured the infamous Motel Hell cover. You probably heard about it: that farmer dude in denim overalls and red flannel shirt, wearin a severed pig head for a helmet, wieldin a bloody chainsaw like it was the mighty Excalibur or somethin. Far as I was concerned, human hands wasn’t capable of creatin a more bad ass cover. Probably they still aren’t.

The sad part is, though, that cover was so bad ass, it didn’t take too long before a few so-called “adult” peckerwoods jumped up on their high horses and got it banned from every drugstore and supermarket in the country. Let me say that again: that cover was so bad ass, the peckerwoods got it declared unfit for human consumption. Pulled from stores. Burnt up on the sacrificial fires of common decency, as some folks say.

So yeah. Apparently a few grannies stumbled across that particular Fangoria down at the Piggly Wiggly or the beauty shop or wherever old grannies stumbled across things, and this indeed caused their plastic panties to get all wadded up in such a manner that I had never experienced (up to that point, anyway). And if you know anything, you know how the story goes whenever grannies get their panties in a wad. Things get escalated. The  righteous grannies pitched a fit to their preacher, a man of great wisdom and humility who immediately got on the line to the Reverend Jimmy Swaggart. Jimmy Swaggart had a few friends in high places – this was back in the days when some people actually gave a rip what Jimmy Swaggart had to say about anything – and the good Reverend called his coonskin-hat buddy Pat Buchanan (look it up), who was workin in the White House up in Washington at the time. Of course back then, the White House was occupied – some would say graced by the presence of – one Ronald Wilson Reagan, otherwise known as the Gipper, otherwise known as He Who Walks Behind the Rows. Soon enough Pat bent the blessed ear of the almighty President Reagan, and then Reagan bent down and kissed the ground and farted and declared that Issue Number Nine of Fangoria was inflictin evil on the minds of innocent little Ronnies all throughout the golden land, and therefore must be yanked off every shelf in the country, if not the world, if not the whole trickle down damn universe.

Well, that’s the story I always heard, at least. I can’t swear to it, but that’s what I heard.

Anyway, despite the Reaganistas’ efforts, a few hundred copies escaped. Somehow one of them ended up at Comic Book Land in Lexington, Kentucky, and miraculous as it may seem, happened to be sittin on the shelf one of the rare Saturdays that I visited the store. I was headed for the back issue bins when I glanced over at the New Arrivals rack and saw it gleamin.

I couldn’t get my hands on it fast enough, let me just tell you. And soon as I did, I took it back to Mom and said, “Mom, this is what I’m gettin. No X-Men. No Captain America. No Spider-man. This was a couple of years before ROM and G.I. Joe came out, but I would have walked away from them that day, too.

All I wanted was that one issue of Fangoria, Issue Number Nine, with the chainsaw dude in overalls and a dead pig mask.

So I said, “Mom, this is what I’m gettin.”

She studied the cover for a few seconds, looked over bloody pig head guy real good, and said, “No sir, you most certainly are not.”

“But mom, he’s got overalls and a dead pig head and his chainsaw’s got blood on it –”

“I said you’re not gettin it.”

“No, Mom, you’re the one not gettin it

Put it back.”

“Come on, Mom –”

“Put it back. Now.”

Good thing I had a backup plan. One rule I always follow  is, never give up hope. If you ain’t got hope you might as well lay down in the street and wait for the ice cream truck to run over your sorry ass. I took that Fangoria and stuck it in the middle of some Wonder Woman back issues, figurin it would be safe there since Wonder Woman sucks and nobody was gonna be lookin in that box any time soon. That would give me a few weeks to convince Mom that I really should get that Fangoria, and when I did convince her I could just pluck it out of the Wonder Womans on the next trip.

But it wasn’t meant to be. The next time I visited Comic Book Land, the Wonder Womans were still there but my Fangoria was long gone. I still ain’t figured out how that happened, but it did. And in the meantime, Jimmy Swaggart and Ronald Reagan ruined the fun for everybody.

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