Think you know what awaits in the worlds beyond this one?
Lo, the cover of Book 3, The Catalyst, is revealed—and the brillance of designer Dan Fernandez shines yet again. I’m shooting for books two and three to be released in e-book and print by the end of August.
The cover of Book 2 (The Margins), by wonder designer Dan Fernandez, is finished. Now a print proof is winging its way to me, and at 700-plus pages, it’ll double as a self-defense accessory. (My first marketing campaign: read this, or I’ll hit you with it.)
Up next: the cover for Book 3 (The Catalyst), which is edited and ready to go once the design’s approved.
It’s not that far off now; hoping for a late summer release for both of them…
…at the promo copy for the next book in the Commons series, The Margins:
“I think I did something. Something someone really bad was counting on me to do. And I think you helped me.”
Ray-Anne Blair isn’t buying it. She just wants Paul Reid to forget about the imaginary place he says he needs to return to—and to stop calling her Rain.
Everyone wants something. Jeremy Johns wants to do well at his job, but the new office is strange. So is his boss, Mr. Truitt. Annie Brucker wants to understand how she ended up back with her abusive ex. Her son, Zach, wants to know if he should trust whatever it is that talks to him from the dark of his closet, something so heavy it makes the floorboards creak. Jonas Porter, Audra Farrelly, Po the silent monk, and Charlene Moseley want to know where their prospective Journeymen have disappeared to—though the answer might spell the end of all existence.
Welcome to The Margins, a place that shouldn’t be but is, thanks to Paul and the others. They thought they’d won. Instead, they played right into the hands of someone who anticipated their heroic act. Now realms are crossing over, the universe is collapsing, and it’s up to those who created the danger to overcome it.
It won’t be easy, but why would it be? It’s The Commons.
Image credit: Dan Fernandez
It’s 82 degrees outside, and we work with the windows open. It’s supposed to go back down into the 40s in a couple of days, but for now, it’s shorts weather.
And mask weather. But it was already that, no matter the temperature. Most people walking past wear everything from kerchiefs to surgical masks. Some are clearly homemade offerings, which earn extra respect from me. One guy, strolling with his wife and little girl, looks like an Old West train robber. Another looks like Bane.
We leave to get steps. In front of the building next door, somebody’s done up the sidewalk with a chalk activity walk. We’re supposed to follow a snaky line, skip, hop like a bunny, and take advantage of safe spots to avoid falling into lava.
We greatly appreciate the effort but cross through at a normal walk, as if none of it is there. We like when others get creative; we just usually refrain from participating. In that way, nothing’s really changed.
At the end of the day, a couple in the building across the street play a duet out their window, serenading two friends who stand on the sidewalk with their dog. It’s a perfectly respectable rendition of John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads.” I can’t see them clearly through the combo of our screen and theirs, but from the sound of it, I think the woman’s playing a ukulele. And her harmony is pretty damn good. After the friends move on, she starts into R.E.M.’s “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (and I Feel Fine),” but her heart isn’t in it, so she fades to a stop. Or maybe it’s just that it hits too close to home.
More people pass the window. I find myself thinking of the Gena Rowlands line from A Woman Under the Influence: “All of a sudden I miss everyone; I don’t know why.”
Only I do know why.
And I want them all to make it.
Colleagues take stealth photos of me when I’m not looking and then IM them to me. It’s kind of unsettling.
My dad would’ve turned 90 today. It’s the first birthday he’s not around to celebrate, and in the weeks leading up to this, I’ve repeatedly reminded myself to do the yearly ritual of buying his birthday and Father’s Day cards—before remembering that that’s not something I’ll do anymore.
In his eulogy, I talked about how the last time I saw him, I peppered him with terrible jokes just to get him laughing and about how if I had to live with a final moment, I can make peace with it being that one. It may not have been a real goodbye. But I’m not sure getting one of those in is anything but a matter of luck, ultimately.
The goodbye that comes back to me a lot these days happened nearly 20 years ago, in 1998. My wife, Renée, and I had eloped in April, and my parents wanted to have the chance to throw us something official. So later that year, we had a formal-esque brunch in suburban Philadelphia, near where I grew up.
It was a nice affair, with friends and relatives coming from quite a ways away to show up, and it ended the way many such things wrap up for guests of honor. It seems that people are suddenly heading off in all directions. And you thank as many of them as you can, but this thing that’s been anticipated for months is dissolving so fast as everyone goes back to their lives.
Back then, Dad had stumbled into a revived career of sorts with a company that had a Navy contract and was pulling engineers out of retirement because only the old guys had the necessary experience. And as our brunch was winding down, he was leaving in a rental car to catch a flight to where he needed to be.
Only I didn’t realize he was planning to do that. Either I’d been told and it hadn’t registered, or it just hadn’t come up. I thought he’d be sticking around, so I was surprised and a little weirded out to see him head down the restaurant driveway, clearly leaving for real.
“Wait—where’s Dad going?”
Somebody gave me an answer. Dad leaned over, smiled at us, and gave a quick wave as he passed. And then he was gone. Just like that. Just a pair of brake lights before a turn into traffic. I couldn’t help but feel like something was getting away from me, even though I didn’t know what it was. And for years afterward, every time I gave him a hug goodbye, I couldn’t shake that feeling—because at some point, it would be true.
The last time I saw him, I knew there was the very real possibility that there’d be no more partings. Yet I was surprised when that’s how it turned out to be. I guess part of me never really believed that would happen. I guess part of me still doesn’t.
Wait. Where’s Dad going?
Renée lost both her parents when she was young, and she’s often said over the years that you can’t know what it’s like until it’s happened. She was right.
All of this is probably coming off sadder than I want it to be when I thought it’d just be bittersweet. But take care with your goodbyes and your good wishes. Make them count if you can. They’re precious things.
Hello to you wherever you’ve landed, Dad. Here’s a good wish for the fifth of June. Happy Birthday, and be sure to hit ‘em with a few really awful puns for those of us back here.