Discover more from PICTURE DAY
And a way to get signed books and cat drawings
Hey, everyone. I am just back from my seven day, seven-city tour and feeling like a bag of hamburgers. Might need a day to recover.
My carbon footprint is now a hideous blight upon the land but as a result I have left signed copies of my new novel A Little Like Waking all over the western United States. Maybe you want one? I doodled little cat heads in each. These stores have a variety of other signed (and doodled) titles by me as well.
I’ll tell you how to get one below, but first I thought I’d share an excerpt of ALLW similar to the one I read at each bookstore and library stop. It’s a funny adventure romance about a young woman who discovers her reality isn’t real, and it begins below.
Here’s what Zelda’s town is like:
The air out here is tender and kind. The sun is a blush on her cheeks. There’s a sympathetic breeze like a hand on the small of her back as her limbs loosen.
This sidewalk was flat and straight once, but tree roots have pushed it out of plumb like a crooked smile—she has to mind her step as she waves at the paperboy, and says hi to Clara the mail carrier (“Hi, Zelda baby”), and nods professionally to the clown at the laundromat.
She climbs the library steps and slides back down on the handrail. She cuts through the skate park to admire the skaters, watches them all botch their tricks and get back up again. Then she turns into the town square to circle the courthouse a few times, and that’s when it hits her.
“Ohmygosh,” she huffs, grinding to a stop. “Oh no!”
There are a couple of guys playing Frisbee nearby, the kind who are all muscly arms and haircuts. “What?” one of them asks her, stepping close. “What is it?”
“My final,” says Zelda, and she glances up at the courthouse clock. “My geography final. It starts in five minutes!”
“Dude! That sucks!” calls the other Frisbee guy. “Well at least . . .ha! At least you’re already dressed for running!”
Zelda smiles wanly and raises a hand as she sprints off in a new direction.
“Good luck, Zelda!” say the Frisbee bros, in unison.
Zelda leaps over a little red fire hydrant and veers around the café. The flower cart woman calls, “Zelda, here!” and hands her a daisy as she passes. “Go get ’em, Zelda!” cheers the tattoo guy with his baby. There’s a funny tangle of leashes and legs as Zelda tries to get past that one old man with his three tiny dogs. It’s just the kind of lively moment you’d expect if Zelda’s life were a movie, and these the opening credits. A little snapshot of people and place.
“I think this belongs to you.”
And so on.
Finally, Zelda recovers and dashes past the boutique and bookstore and bakery. Runs under the jewelry store clock on the following block. “Four minutes,” she huffs. “Hey! Kid!”
There’s a girl with a bicycle, a beautiful blue bicycle with a banana seat and a backrest.
“Kid!” Zelda breathes. “Can I borrow your bike?”
The girl’s freckles are a constellation. Her gap-toothed smile is as crooked as an old sidewalk. “Sure, Zelda!” she answers, and hands over the handlebars. Just like that. Zelda mounts the bike at a run, leaping onto the seat and settling into a coast with one breathless sweep of her leg.
“Didn’t know I could do that,” she whispers absently.
“Atta girl!” shouts a meter maid.
Her feet touch the pedals. In that moment, her ears pop. Like something has changed in the air. A sudden shift in pressure. Or maybe not—no one else seems to notice it.
Zelda pumps her legs and settles into a groove. She’s going to make her test in time. This bicycle has a bell—she rings it. Its tone is perfect and clear, like a drop of blue water, and as it fades she tries to quiz herself with geography words. Isthmus. Peninsula. Bismarck, North Dakota.
Then she takes a turn a little wide, and there’s an oncoming car, and her heart sinks. Time slows down.
Still, Zelda has enough time to feel every bump in the road, hear the scream of tires, see the startled face of the driver that’s about to hit her. It’s that woman who’s always selling Girl Scout cookies outside the Sav-Mor. Zelda sees her mouth a word she probably doesn’t use in front of the Girl Scouts. Then someone somewhere shouts, “Loooook ouuuut!” and Zelda brakes, the car brakes, their brakes catch and they grind like glaciers toward each other in dilated time, patient but inevitable.
Actually, not so inevitable—they both stop, hardly more than a meter apart. A bird sings, whit-whee. The woman behind the wheel finishes the word she’d been saying, the crisp T of it fogging a little spot on her windshield. Then: time speeds up again as a third person—some boy—lurches across the road between them, trips over a curb, does a header over a railing, and disappears behind some bushes.
It seems like a good moment for someone to say, Ta-da! Nobody does.
Zelda’s chest thumps, and her head goes light. She’s standing in the middle of the street. The car stands in the middle of the street, facing her.
The driver’s-side window opens, and the woman sticks her head out. “Sorry, Zelda!” she shouts.
“No!” says Zelda. “Don’t apologize! It was me—I’m sorry!” She can’t remember the woman’s name.
The driver’s okay. Zelda jerks her head at the flowery hedge on the side of the road. “Who was that guy?” she asks.
“I think he was trying to save you!” shouts the Girl Scout woman.
Zelda squints at the bushes. “He missed.”
She wheels her bike toward those bushes and waves to the driver as she leaves. She doesn’t have time for this. She has, in fact, two minutes.
“Hello?” she calls to the guy. “Was that you who shouted, ‘Look out’?”
“It was just a suggestion,” says a voice on the other side of the flowers.
“Are you hurt? I have to go.”
“You go on ahead, then,” says the flower boy. “Having a lie-down.”
“All tuckered out from the big rescue attempt,” says Zelda, trying to get a look at him. The branches are too thick to see.
“Rescue? Nah. I was just rushing to get a good spot in the hedge before it filled up.”
“Hmm.” Zelda bumps the bike up onto the curb and leans across the fence, cranes her neck over the hedge into someone’s front yard. A little garden and a crab-apple tree. “Okay,” she says. “Thank you for—”
That’s when she sees him.
She looks away quickly. As if she’d happened upon something scandalous. But it’s nothing of the sort. Just a boy. A cute boy, her age, his long body draped over the wet grass.
She’s afraid to look at him again, but she also really, really wants to look at him again. How can it be both at once? She wants to cover her face and peek out at him through her fingers. Jeez, she thinks, get a hold of yourself.
It probably seemed weird to him, anyway—her looking away like that.
So she quiets herself, collects her features, and leans once again into the yard.
“Sorry,” she tells him, “I—”
But there’s no one there.
Zelda straightens. She looks all around. There’s no one there.
Wow, what a cliffhanger! You probably want to read the rest of the book now or something. And if you order from the stores below, they might be able to send you one I signed and, as I mentioned above, drew a little cat head in. Probably better to call them, I imagine? But here are the links to the stores in question.
As always, thanks for reading.