Letters From the Labyrinth 354
I was somewhere around 30,000 feet yesterday, seated next to a guy who looked remarkably like author Nicholas Kaufmann and laughing with a flight attendant who looked quite like Sadie Hartmann (and who kept sliding me free drinks) when I got the distinct impression that alternate realities were collapsing in upon themselves and converging on me, just like something out of my own fictional mythos. It was as if I’d just gone through Amun’s Chamber of Spheres the same way the characters do in THE SEVEN.
This was most likely because, by that point, I was beyond exhausted. The older I get, the more trouble I have adjusting to time zone differences. As a young man in the Navy, these were never a problem, mostly because sailing is a slow process and you have time to adjust. But at 56, the bouncing around from place to place wreaks havoc on my circadian rhythms. I spent much of this past week in St Louis, Missouri, doing due diligence for Scares That Care (next year we will have two AuthorCon events — Williamsburg, Virginia in April and St Louis in October). Even though the time zone difference was only an hour, I found myself waking up at 4AM (5AM my time) and taking my afternoon nap shortly after eating breakfast. I played phone tag with both Scott Ian and my oldest son, one of which was an hour behind me and the other of which was an hour ahead of me. That wreaked further havoc on my sense of place and time.
But mostly, it was the workload. Galley edits on SPLINTERED: THE LABYRINTH Book 3, manuscript edits on OTHER WORLDS: THE COMPLETE SHORT FICTION OF BRIAN KEENE Vol. 4, final draft of GWENDY’S BUTTON BOX, first draft of my short story for THE MAP OF LOST PLACES, first drafts of two more Lost Level stories, first draft of BENEATH THE LOST LEVEL, and emails. So many goddamned emails. Patreon glitched on me all week, and Dropbox decided that it was a good week to also flake out on me. I found myself working at one in the morning simply because the hotel’s WiFi signal was stronger then. For every email I answered, ten more took its place, like some digital hydra. I knew I was tired when I found myself typing a panel description for GWENDY’S BUTTON BOX into BENEATH THE LOST LEVEL. I knew I was tired when I went downstairs to record a video of the conference area for Jake, the floor manager for AuthorCon, only to remember that I’d already recorded his video. I knew I was tired when I picked up my phone to make a call but couldn’t remember who it was I was supposed to call or why I was calling them.
It occurred to me last night after I’d landed, transitioning time zones and making it to the high school in time to pick up my youngest son from the football game (which only added to my sense of unreality), that I feel this way around this time every year. For whatever reason, October and early November are when I find myself slammed and overwhelmed with work. In years past I coped with this by taking a week to myself and either spending it in my cabin in West Virginia or ocean side in Ocean City, Maryland — spending a week doing nothing but consuming coffee and typing in my underwear, eschewing all phones, email, and social media, and interacting with the world twice a day when I emerge only to eat or walk.
I haven’t scheduled that time for myself this year, but I may need to.
I fully believe that there are alternate versions of this reality, with alternate versions of ourselves. That relationship you ruined? There’s another you who got it right. That dog you had as a kid, who got hit by a car when it was barely a year old? There’s another you with another version of that dog who lived until you went off to college. That stock you sold twenty years ago instead of holding onto it? There’s another you who got rich off that. The happiness you feel right now? There’s another you who’s hoping that some alternate reality version of themselves is happy, because they sure aren’t.
In October and November, for whatever reason, all of my alternate reality selves find themselves absolutely and utterly overwhelmed with work. Infinite Brians working on infinite things with infinite deadlines.
Burnout is a real thing in this business, and it’s not something we talk about enough. I fully believe we need to take time off on occasion and do anything *but* write. But I am also a big proponent of taking the time to plow through things, when the stacks get too high.
Learning to balance those two competing necessities can be tricky, but don’t worry. Somewhere out there is another you who has mastered the art of it.
Good morning. I’m one of the Brian Keene’s pictured above and this is the 354th issue of Letters From the Labyrinth — a weekly newsletter for fans, friends, and family.
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The signed limited edition of SPLINTERED: THE LABYRINTH Book 3 will be available for preorder from Thunderstorm Books on November 12th. It will cost $110. We expect them to go fast, so make sure you're signed up to get updates from Thunderstorm Books via their website.
It is my hope that paperback and eBook editions of the novel should also be on sale in time for the December holidays (as were the first two volumes in the series). However, I’m not going to rush production, so it’s possible we may creep into January 2024 for the actual release date. too early to say yet.
Here’s the cover, by the always outstanding Ben Baldwin.
For those of you who have not read the serialized first draft on Patreon, what you’re looking at here is Teddy Garnett and Nelson LeHorn versus Purturabo, Tony Genova versus Meeble, and Ob’s space station.
Yes, I said Ob’s space station.
And given the cliffhanger conclusion of SUBMERGED: THE LABYRINTH Book 2, you can guess that the crackling energy between these three scenes is the splintering of the Labyrinth, and thus, reality itself.
Anyway… November 12th! Be ready.
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The Kickstarter for THE MAP OF LOST PLACES has 11 days left. I’m writing a brand-new LeHorn’s Hollow story for this book.
There is also an Add-On, as well — a fifteen minute Zoom call with me. Just you and me and we can talk about whatever you want: writing, business, life advice, geek out over things together — whatever you like.
There are only five of those calls available, so hop on it if you want one. The way it works is back the Kickstarter (for example, you can pledge three bucks) and then at checkout it gives you an opportunity to add the add-on Zoom call.
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Next weekend, I’ll be signing in Virginia and Pennsylvania. These are the absolute last signings of the year.
Friday, November 3 and Saturday November 4 at Barnes & Noble 5501 West Broad St Richmond VA 23220
Sunday, November 5 at Lovedraft's Brewing Company, Mechanicsburg, PA.
The first 100 people in the door at Lovedraft’s will receive a copy of this limited chapbook, designed by Robert Swartwood and featuring a bunch of us, including yours truly.
I’ve also asked Rob to print me enough copies for my Lifetime Subscribers.
Speaking of which, I’m just waiting on a shipment of OTHER WORDS to arrive here so I can sign them, and then the next Lifetime Subscriber packages will be going out. You should all have them by the end of next month.
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Currently Playing: Clash of Clans
Currently Listening: Brian Keene Radio
Currently Watching: Doctor Who: Invasion of the Dinosaurs (Pluto), Survivor season 45 (Paramount Plus), and (while staying in the hotel) marathons of South Park, The Office, and Seinfeld (all via Comedy Central)
Currently Reading: Gather, Darkness! by Fritz Leiber, The Vanishing by Bentley Little, and The Flatwoods Monster by George Dudding
Most folks rag on Invasion of the Dinosaurs as one of the weaker Doctor Who serials of that era, and some of that is deserved, given the heavy padding of the plot and the laughable dinosaur effects (notably goofy in a show that — again, during that era, was already known for having goofy special effects). But it’s always been one of my favorites among the classic era, and it was nice to revisit it.
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If you ordered signed copies of my books from Manhattan On Mars this past week, thanks for your patience. I haven’t been home to get those packaged up and shipped. They will all go out on Monday.
If you haven’t checked out that storefront in a while, give it a look. I’ve put up a lot of rare stuff, in limited quantities, of course.
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And that does it for this week. Thanks, as always, for reading and sharing your Sunday morning with me. I appreciate all of you, and I’ll see you back here next week.