Hagridden — Guest Author Post #1

Hagridden Newest Cover

Hagridden is a historical novel by Samuel Snoek-Brown, published by Columbus Press (ColumbusPressBooks.com).

Straddling the line of historical and contemporary literary fiction, Hagridden is a haunting drama that unflinchingly approaches race, culture, apathy, and humanity stripped to its core. It reveals what real people will do to endure, as well as how some morph into unrecognizable beasts while others hollow into shells of their former selves.

The novel follows two women struggling to survive in the war-torn South as the Civil War tumbles to an end. In a storm-ravaged bayou, their efforts and sanity are further threatened by the intrusion of a revenge-bent Confederate officer and supposed sightings of the fabled rougarou, a fierce wolf-like creature of local lore.

Shaded in Southern Gothic and classical motifs yet written in a sharp contemporary style reminiscent of Tom Franklin, Charles Frazier, and Cormac McCarthy, Hagridden presents a strangely beautiful world where humanity plays the contradictory roles of protagonist and antagonist.
Hardback, paperback and e-book editions of Hagridden are available at Amazon.com and at all major e-book retailers.

Find Hagridden here! Link to- http://www.amazon.com/Hagridden-Samuel-Snoek-Brown/dp/0989173798/

When Love is a Habit You Don’t Know How to Break


She had wanted to surprise him, to prepare dinner and get everything ready. He had wanted to go out, but she had a better idea. What idea, he had asked, but she told him he’d have to wait. And so, she had taken a half-day off and left work early, but the freezing rain had come unexpectedly, and the roads had not yet been salted. He wasn’t sure that anyone at the time knew it was needed since the temperature had dropped so suddenly.

He left the college late, unaware that his wife was not yet home. He usually called her before leaving, but had been distracted by a student wanting a last minute conference. He didn’t think much about it since he’d home soon enough.

The ambulance was gone by the time he arrived at the spot where her car had skipped into a tree, an old maple that stood skeletal against the fading light, but the sheriff was still there. The red and blue flashers on his cruiser had cast alternating shadows as he walked toward the professor, who waited in his car.

What’s going on, Sheriff, the professor had asked, but then saw the car.

I’m sorry, the sheriff had said. She’s alive, but that’s all we know. I’d better drive you. The professor nodded, handing his keys to a deputy who would bring his car later.

At the hospital he learned that she probably wasn’t aware of the cold when the hypothermia overtook her, having been knocked unconscious when the airbag failed.

That, perhaps, was a blessing.

A blessing, he agreed numbing.

She had been found too late; there was nothing to be done.

He continued to nod, mesmerized by the lights and beeps of the machines that were keeping his wife alive.

Do you know if she had a DNR? No, he had said. No, she did not.

She’s an organ donor, according to her driver’s license. What do want to do?

He stared at the doctor, uncomprehending. The machines continued to beep and blink.

When he finally got home, he found that she had purchased all of his favorites including a rolled roast for the rotisserie; it eventually spoiled and had to be thrown out.

He took all the leave he could, then a sabbatical, declined summer classes. She lie in her bed, unmoving, wasting away. He worked her arms and legs, massaged her muscles so they wouldn’t atrophied, preparing for the time when she would finally wake up, which he knew would never come.

His world narrowed to his home, now empty and hollow, his wife’s hospital room, and the vistas offered by history books. The ancient past was safe, a comfort. Those people were not dying; they were blessedly long dead. Traversing his own past, their past, that was now dangerous, a constant reminder that “they” were now a statistic.

By fall, he had to return to the classroom. Everyone murmured the proper, empty words. Time to return to the living, his friends had said. He’d nod and thank them, appearing to agree. He knew he would not rejoin the living until she did, which she would not.

He offered only his standard classes, the ones he could teach in his sleep, the ones he could phone in. It would be his last semester nonetheless. He should have seen it coming.

The end came on the heels a girl, a sub-par student used to getting by on her wits and charm, which included ample breasts that strained against her always too-tight blouses. She knew he was married, knew his wife was in a coma, but thought she could work that to her advantage. When she was unable to seduce him, when he refused her offer of sex in exchange for a passing grade, she went to the administration and accused him of what she had offered.

Her actions were so blindly selfish he could barely fathom what had happened. He lost his position, and with it, his insurance. The machines keeping his wife alive were expensive to run. He would soon be forced to pull the plug.

The student eventually recanted, but it no longer mattered. The damage was done and he knew he could not go back to that or any other school. It didn’t matter that he was innocent; one does not get out from under such charges. And besides, his wife was dead.

The day he was packing up his office, the student came to see him, begging forgiveness. Instead, he thanked her, saying he too had been selfish. He wanted to strangle her.

Through the entire ordeal, he had managed to hold it together, the days and nights beside her bed, the endless cups of bad coffee, the lack of sleep, the green line going flat, the green line screaming.

She had not believed in embalming so he was spared from seeing her dolled up, looking so natural.

During the prayers and eulogies, the trip out to the cemetery, even the lowering of the polished box into the earth, he held it together so well that he began to wonder if wasn’t he who was dead.

But then came the dirt, throwing the dirt into the hole, the dirt that would cover her forever. He couldn’t do. With both hands full, he sank to his knees and wept. Someone, he didn’t know who, tried to console him, to get him to his feet, saying it’s not what she would have wanted.

He shook them off and continued to howl.

By the time he had spent himself, everyone had gone and the sun was low in the sky. He stood and looked around, saw a shovel leaning against a tree, took it up and stood next to the hole. Some moments or hours later, a workman, an old black man he’d seen around town but had never spoken to, appeared at his side, and with more kindness than the man thought possible, said, here, let me do that.

The professor shook his head, saying no, he had to do it, but all he could do sink back to his knees and resume weeping, holding on to the shovel for balance. He felt a hand on his shoulder and looked up expecting to see the old man, but instead found the face of the girl, the student.

He felt her hand on his arm, urging him to his feet. He could not comprehend why she was there, what she wanted, but he stood willingly nonetheless. He let go of the shovel, allowing it to fall to the ground. She took his hand, beckoned him to follow. He hesitated but then complied, allowing her to lead him into the gathering darkness.

Caught in the Crossfire: Writers Waging War

Here’s a well-stated, strong argument in favor of self-publishing. If you’re new writer, there simply are no good reasons to go with a traditional publishing house. That’s right. Zero. Zip. Nada. self-publish, expressed very well.

Writerz Block Editing Service Presents: A Word to the Wise

Caught in the Crossfire: Writers Waging War.

I’ve been wracking my brain all damned day about the new dramatics facing Amazon.  The more I research indie publishing versus legacy publishing, the more inclined I am to urge fledgling authors to consider publishing independently.  I also advise all authors to follow Barry Eisler, one of the most respected traditional to indie published authors I know.

I met Barry on Myspace roughly ten years ago.  At the time, I didn’t know who he was-I was just networking and ran across him by chance.  I was shocked to find that this NYT Bestseller actually talked openly and directly to me-not something that had ever happened to me before.  It was nice, too-talking to a real live human and not a cursory exchange that I would otherwise expect from a famed author.

After I started speaking with him on occasion about writing, I…

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The Menacing Echo of Silence


The divine winds were still, so the pitiless roar of enemy bombers was drowned out only by the desperate wail of the air raid sirens. From the faintest purr of the first enemy plane until the last bomb fell, the world was noise, nothing but noise; the sirens would scream, the engines would roar, the bombs would fall, but fall somewhere else.

That morning started as all others, but it was not; three planes the radio said, so it could not be a raid. Only one was seen. It sounded almost lonely. Had it gotten lost, separated from the other planes, on their way to deal death to some other city? Would it deliver its death dealers here? At 8 o’clock, the ‘all clear’ sounded.

In a flash, the sun came to earth, followed by darkness. The bomb brought no fire, but small fires, started by stoves and fallen wires, ignited here and there, feed on the rubble of the collapsed, wooden city, swept by the bomb-born wind.

And above the destruction that signature cloud rose, towered miles above, like the shadow of a colossus, or of some monstrous god. In its wake, the menacing echo of silence.


“The Menacing Echo of Silence” first appeared originally at 52/250 A Year of Flash (http://52250flash.wordpress.com/2010/12/21/the-menacing-echo-of-silence-by-al-mcdermid/). The  details herein were gleaned from John Hersey’s Hiroshima.

Merrill: The Girl with No Fear of Flying.


The Merrill Diaries, by my friend, Susan Tepper

My first impression of Merrill is that she is a woman on a quest or an odyssey, though that would imply a goal of some sort; apparently Merrill’s goal is to simply go. Go, and keep going.

At the beginning of Merrill’s journey we find her in a dead-end marriage to Teddy, who seems a decent enough guy, good looking, but clueless; he doesn’t like Merrill bringing up that “stupid women lib stuff” that she gets from that “commie magazine” called Ms.(yeah, they are clearly not living in the same reality). She’s also working at the perfect dead-end job, a “freaking travel agency,” that leaves her envious of her customers: “even the lowly student with a cheap Eurail pass.”

What’s a girl to do? Join a rock band, what else?

Merrill’s view of the world seems zany at times (“I won’t dye my crotch,” I whisper in his ear.), but what I find irresistible is her courage. Despite missing the aqua walls of their house, she leaves Teddy (It’s not like he didn’t have it coming after inviting the spies and their devil dog Mungo to share their house) for Eddie, the lead guitarist in the band she joins (“It’s blasting idyllic for a week, until it comes time to do the laundry.”).

Speaking of Teddy, she writes, “his gray vision forming a gray life. I take no responsibility in this outcome!” This is what I love most about Merrill; other people are responsible for their own lives and, as the story progresses, we see that Merrill holds herself to the same standard. Her successes, blunders, and mishaps are hers (even when others have a clear hand in the troubles).

Not surprisingly, the singing gig doesn’t pan out (the place she shares with Eddies burns down) and so it’s off to London to sell truffles as Merrill Kimberly and marry well, only to also leave him and go to Greece in time for the revolution. And so Merrill goes, and goes, and goes. I love a girl who is not afraid to put the wind at her back

Besides Merrill herself, I also enjoy how Tepper has constructed a unified whole of the thirty stand-alone chapters that make up The Merrill Diaries. It is an intriguing, seamless (zipless?) read that keeps us wondering, what will this girl get up to next? While reading it I was perpetually smiling and frequently laughing out loud thanks to Tepper’s wit and timing.

If someone called one of my books “a delight,” I’d probably turn snarky and ask, “What is that, a dessert?” Merrill herself might ask, “Me? A delight? You must have me confused.” But what can I say, The Merrill Dairies IS a delight, as is its eponymous irrepressible heroine. As one other reviewer noted, “I want more of Merrill!”




Richard Brautigan and the Ghost of the Bolinas House

I just read a third account of the ghost of the Bolinas house and so thought I’d repost this.

Winging It

One of my favorite authors is Richard Brautigan. I like him so much that in addition to reading his novels and poetry, I’ve also read memoirs about him (I normally do not enjoy memoirs and biographies). In two of these, Downstream From Trout Fishing in America: A Memoir of Richard Brautigan, by his long time friend, Keith Abbot, and You Can’t Catch Death: A Daughter’s Memoir, by his daughter, Ianthe, I encountered a true ghost story. I was pleased by the discovery because I’ve also recently become interested in ghost stories (both true and fictional accounts). Both authors had contact with this ghost, and provide accounts that are both close enough and different enough that I can accept them as true.  I’ve included both here so that you can judge for yourselves.

In the early 1970s, Richard Brautigan bought a house in Bolinas, California (along the coast north of…

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A Supermarket in San Francisco (A Response Poem)

I was thinking of you tonight, Allen Ginsberg, as I walked down Polk Street,
laid now bare by AIDS and indifference, walked under a fog-shrouded
moon, thinking of you and Kerouac and hipster Zen haiku.
In my hungry fatigue, I wandered into Safeway, that luminous
cornucopia, open 24-7 and gleaming in supernatural ecstasy, the pursuit
of bread and cheese at midnight enshrined in the Declaration.
What perfect fruit! What perfect red meat! Amber-lit aisles of
genetically modified cereal grains dosed with sugar! All America is shopping
tonight, three carts over-flowing and don’t forget the latest National Enquirer!
Is this America, this endless consumption? America still has its
nuclear bombs, so what the fuck, and what the fuck has changed–and you,
Bill Burroughs, junkie-queer, when did you fly in and what were you doing,
lingering in the produce aisle, sniffing peaches, squeezing the tomatoes?

I saw you, Allen Ginsberg, lonely and childless, grubbing among
the cleaning products, the bleach and the Pine Sol, mumbling, wondering
when America will finally come clean, and like Walt, eyeing the grocery

I heard the questions you asked America: Why are the graves full
of tears? Where are the angels of our better nature? Why are you naked?
I followed you though this labyrinth, secure in the certainty that you
had strung the string that would lead the way out.
We dragged ourselves through these canyons of splendor, fingering every
Made in China delight two dollars and twenty-seven cents, and never finding
that angry fix.

Where are we going, Allen Ginsberg? The parking lot is chained and
anyway, it seems I have lost my car. Can you divine where I left it?
(I clutch your book and dream of our sojourn in California. Eureka!
Where has it gone?)

Are we lonely enough to dance together down the dark, negro streets
toward the false hope of dawn? There is no sun, no shade, and the twilight’s
last gleaming is shrouded in fog.

Shall we cross the bridges to the new America, past the rusting shells
of blue automobiles and vacant strip malls, to our cinderblock motel?
Ah, dear friend, monkish iconoclast, where is the revolution? Did it die
in Vietnam with the 58,000? Where can America go now that Charon’s outboard
has no gas? When it comes time to depart this smoking ruin, shall we swim
in the black waters of the Lethe?

Castro St., San Francisco
Castro St., San Francisco

29 August 2011
Tokyo, Japan

After Allen Ginsberg’s “A Supermarket in California” with references from his poems “Howl” and “America,” all of which can be found in Howl and Other Poems (1956).

“A Supermarket in San Francisco,” was first published on the Dead Beats Literary Blog on 13 September 2012.