Letters From the Labyrinth 323
Our wedding invitations arrived this past week. Mary designed them herself, to reflect the actual wedding, which is being held outdoors — rain or shine — amongst trees and fields and nature.
It’s going to be a rustic affair, because that’s what we want. Ceremony in the yard, followed by an outside reception at the river rescue station two houses down from our own. Tuxedos and bug spray. Dresses and sunscreen. Definitely no high heels, which are not conducive to dancing on grass and hay. My three sons — David (my oldest son), FirelordHD (the public nickname for my 14-year old whose real name you won’t know until he turns 18 and decides if he wants that information made available the way his older brother did), and Mike Lombardo (maybe not my biological son, but absolutely my son in every other sense of the word) — will serve as groomsmen. Mary’s sisters and her daughter Ada will be bridesmaids. Her niece and nephew will serve as flower girl and ringbearer, respectively (and Kristopher Triana’s dog, Bear, will be on standby in case the ringbearer needs help or decides he doesn’t want to do it at the last minute).
Good morning. I’m Brian Keene and this is the 323rd issue of Letters From the Labyrinth, a newsletter for friends, family and fans of my work. I’m glad you’re here.
Anyway, as you can see, the wedding is coming up in less than three months, and there is still so much to do. We need to start sending invites out this coming week, and we still haven’t completed the guest list. We are limited on space, and therefore, limited on the number of people we can actually invite. We don’t want to leave anybody out, but realistically, we’re going to have to leave a lot of people out anyway. Hopefully folks will understand. One friend has already joked that he’s going to sell his invite on eBay.
(And a brief aside — I keep getting texts, emails, Tweets, and direct messages from folks who want to send us wedding presents. That level of kindness and generosity from the public is appreciate and a little unexpected, but sincerely, I’m 55 and Mary is 40 for the 7th time this year, and we already own two of everything we could ever need. We’re not registered anywhere for that reason. The only thing we really need is what two writers will always need — the gift of money. It feels very crass and icky to ask for that, and I’ve been working on wording for the invitations to communicate that, but there’s no polite way to say “We have all the toasters and duck mailboxes and sheets we’ll ever need, but weddings and honeymoons are expensive so we’d be grateful for a check or money order or good ol’ cash.” So… if you’re one of those kind people I mentioned above who aren’t angling for an invitation, and really want to just send your favorite authors a wedding present, I guess the best way for you to do that is my PayPal. It feels very weird to me to post that, but given the number of queries I’ve received, I guess it’s okay. And thank you.).
Anyway, yes. Lots to do before the big day. My new mantra has been “Let’s just get past the wedding and then we’ll deal with that” or “I can’t commit to anything right now until after the wedding”.
The wedding isn’t the only thing being planned. I’ve been making tweaks and changes to me and Mary’s retirement plan over the last month. Now, don’t panic. Retirement doesn’t mean “quit writing”. As they say, old writers don’t retire. They just write another page. (Although I always preferred Warren Ellis’s “Writers don’t retire. they just dieeee…”). Thus, retirement just means “Come up with ways for us to continue to earn as we get older and our brains and bodies slow down and we just can’t sit and write all day anymore.”
What’s heartening is that a lot of other writers our age are doing the exact same thing right now. Why is that heartening? Because retirement planning isn’t something that writers have ever been known for. Maybe it’s the fact that for the last 25 years we’ve been inundated with heartbreaking stories and anecdotes about what happened to those who came before us when the words no longer came as easily as they had before, or maybe it’s because we’ve seen some of those repercussions first hand, but it’s not lost on me that suddenly a whole bunch of writer friends my age are engaged in the same off-hours activities and research that I’ve been engaged in, and now, when we touch base, instead of talking shop or gossiping, we’re comparing notes on stocks and investments, and life insurance policies, and thinking of our bodies of work as intellectual property rather than just some books we wrote and then forgot about when we moved on to the next one.
If you’re a full-time author over the age of 40, retirement is definitely something you should not only be thinking about — you should be actively planning it when you have free moments. Rheumatoid arthritis, Alzheimer’s, carpal tunnel, dementia, cancer, loss of vision or hearing … these things exist. Chances are we’ll all get at least one of them if we live long enough. I myself am already dealing with two. Our muses may never weaken, but our bodies most certainly will. Plan for that. Plan for what happens when you are reduced to typing one page per day rather than one hundred.
Myself? Well, keep in mind, I’m not any sort of professional advisor, but my plan is two-fold. There’s investments — stocks, mutual funds, gold, and equity such as comic books and collectibles. The second half of my plan is similar to how we’ve run J.F. Gonzalez’s literary estate — keeping everything in print and recirculating, and farm the I.P. so that it continues to generate income. So, eventually, when I’ve got full blown dementia and spend my days sitting around in my pajamas, petting Dallas and spilling oatmeal all down the front of my shirt, you can read a new Levi Stoltzfus novel written by Wile. E. Young, or Stephen Kozeniewski’s take on THE RISING — much like we’re doing with J. F.’s intellectual properties like CLICKERS, PRIMITIVE, SURVIVOR, and others. That way, they generate some income for me (and also for those writers).
My other bit of advice is that planning a wedding in middle-age is no easier than planning one in your twenties. And that all of the money you were squirreling away for retirement will get eaten up by the wedding day and the honeymoon to follow.
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Speaking of J. F., I have good news!
SHAPESHIFTER, J. F. Gonzalez's classic werewolf novel returns!
Mark Wiseman thought he had his curse under control. He thought he had kept it a secret. He was wrong. Bernard Roberts is a very wealthy and powerful man, and he knows all about the curse that flows through Mark's veins. He also knows how Mark's parents were killed. If Mark wants Bernard to keep his secrets, he'll have to do what Bernard commands. He'll have to use his curse to kill. But if Mark begins to loosen his grip over the wolf within him, will he lose control of it completely?
Midnight Library and Manhattan On Mars Press are proud to present this new edition of a seminal horror classic.
Paperback - Kindle - Nook - Kobo
(Cover art and design by Chris Enterline)
Next up will be SHADOWS IN THE ATTIC — a non-fiction collection, followed by a new edition of SURVIVOR, and then in quick succession MONSTERS AND ANIMALS, HERO and THE KILLINGS (those last three all cowritten with Wrath James White). After that, a new edition of CONVERSION.
This past week I also updated and revamped J. F.’s website. Check it out.
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Episode 9 of BRIAN KEENE LIVE is available for your viewing pleasure. This was an open Q&A. Watch here. My guest next week will be Laurel Hightower.
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Currently Watching: Aqua Teen Forever: Plantasm (HBO), South Park season 26 (HBO), Snowfall season 6 (Hulu), Party Down season 1 and 2 (Hulu), Mayor of Kingstown season 2 (Paramount+), and Survivor season 44 (Paramount+)
Currently Reading: Deadline by John Wayne Comunale and Elric of Melnibone: The Elric Saga Vol. 1 by Michael Moorcock
Currently Listening: Brian Keene Radio
(A listener messaged me this week and said, “I think your radio station is broken. It just played the same Sammy Hagar song three times in a row.” No, that was just me. I was in the mood for that song. Sometimes I forget that other people are listening).
Deadline by John Wayne Comunale is his best book yet. A marked shift toward mainstream horror but still firmly keeping his punk aesthetic. Highly recommended! Available in paperback, audiobook, and for Kindle here.
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AuthorCon II (a Scares That Care charity event) happens the end of this month! Meet literally hundreds of your favorite authors and artists, get your books signed, and socialize with fellow fans and readers. Or, if you’re a writer or artist, meet hundreds of fans and readers, and take some workshops on the craft and the business. Full details, including guests of honor, programming, special events and more can be found here.
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Last week was a good week, writing-wise. Took the day off yesterday, and myself, Mary, author John Urbancik, and my 14-year old went to the flea market. I bought comic books. Mary bought a pony. John bought a knife. And my son bought a throw pillow with a marijuana leaf on it. (I did something similar at his age, except it was a Cheech and Chong poster).
Chris Golden and I got some great news this past week, concerning something we pitched, and fully expected to hear “No” rather than “Yes”, so we’re both pretty happy right now. He’s celebrating by going to Ireland for a week. I’m celebrating by sitting here with Mary and planning how the hell to pay for the wedding.
I hope that you had a great week. If not, then I hope this coming week is better. I appreciate you reading, and I hope to see you all back here again next Sunday!
— Brian Keene
You are just a youngster Brian, after going through the school of hard knocks you’ve been through more in your lifetime than three regular joes so it might not feel that way. Remember legends like Stephen King and Dean Koontz are still writing away like total machines, it’ll be a strange day indeed when there’s no King or Koontz novel on the way.
Congratulations on you and Mary's upcoming nuptials. May Nodens bless this unholy union. All kidding aside I am stoked that 2 of my favorite authors are getting hitched. Though I am just a random fan please know that on the day of yall's wedding I will Crack open bottle of Kentucky's finest. I will then have a drink in yall's honor and will be wishing you and Mary many more years of happiness and joy.