Well, today is the final day for the free eBook downloads at Smashwords and I have to say, in all astonishment, my erotic novel from 2011, Freak Parade, (yes, that’s 8 years ago already), had over 1000 free downloads.
So, I’m sort of saying, “thanks,” and also trying hard not to do the math on my royalties had you chosen to download the darn eBook for the usual $3.99. (!!)
But, thank you. That novel meant a lot to me and it frustrated me beyond belief when my agent shopped it for 5 years and no one would publish it because they couldn’t figure out how to market it.
Only 2 editors hated the book, the rest loved the book. So it was just a very frustrating thing that no one would step up to bat for it. (And also to be expecting a 6-figure advance from one publisher and have that dashed at the last moment… at Christmas…)
How can you not know how to market a book like Freak Parade? It’s all about the covert & overt racism shown towards Puerto Ricans in New York City every single goddamned day.
Oh, wait. There’s all that graphic sex in there… God knows, nobody wants to be confronted with sex. It ruins all the racism! And the drugs! And the music! And the Mafia! And all the homeless people living with AIDS!
Anyway, the book meant a lot to me and so I published it myself. And I think I did a great job. A lot of talented people helped me with it, for sure. The cover, especially. I think that cover alone helped me win the Silver Medal at the Independent Book Publisher Awards that year. I really do. (That was for the trade paper and hard cover editions.)
I am still planning on developing it as a limited online streaming series with Bohemia Originals in LA, but God knows, I’ve got a lot on my plate right at this particular moment.
That said, though, the rewrites on Tell My Bones are really, really going great. Through some miracle, all those things I struggled with before, when trying to translate too many elements from the screenplay to the stage — I’m working all of that through this time. (I think it’s because the director said, “Stop trying to stage it, let me do that.” It opened things up for me.)
Okay, I’m going to close now and get to work. I leave you with the theme song from Freak Parade. And a brief excerpt from the novel below that. Thanks for visiting, gang! I love you guys. See ya.
(Excerpt from Freak Parade, approx. 4 pages)
He took so long getting there that I thought maybe he’d changed
his mind. But then the buzzer sounded at last and I let him in.
“You don’t look so good, papi.”
“I know,” he said. “Trust me, I know.”
He came in and flung himself down on the couch.
“What is it, Eddie? Tell me.”
He sighed heavily and took off his coat. “Nothing.”
I had the money in a wad in my jeans pocket. I pulled it out. I
handed it to him. I said, “Please, take it. Pay me back when you can,
there isn’t any hurry. I don’t need it right now. Take it.”
He wouldn’t take the money. He just stared at it, at me, holding it
out to him. Then a dark cloud came over him and not the look of relief I’d been hoping to see. He said, “Is this what you had me come all the way over for? So that you could humiliate me like this?”
“No, Eddie. I’m not trying to humiliate you. I’m trying to help.”
“That’s not going to help.”
“But it’s a hundred dollars,” I said. “I can get you more if you need
He stood up abruptly. “I’m going,” he said.
“Eddie, don’t – please. Don’t go. Let me help. It’s just money.”
He turned on me then. He was extremely angry. He spat, “Is that
right? It’s just money? Come here,” he said. “I want to explain something to you about money.”
“No,” I said, knowing where that would lead us. “Come on, Eddie.
“No. Come here. Right now, come here.”
Instead, I moved farther away. “No, Eddie.”
“I want to make something very clear to you about money, so you
“I already understand,” I said. “I can tell – I’m punished!”
“Sí, mami. You are so punished.”
“But why? I don’t understand this! Why?”
“I don’t know why,” he boomed at the top of his voice. “You just
are, goddamn it! Now come here!”
I was petrified. He was too angry for me to risk moving even an
inch closer. I realized I was still clutching the wad of useless money and I felt so impotent that I started to cry.
“Don’t do it!” he shouted again. “Don’t cry! That’s not going to
help me, either.”
I screamed out, “What is going to help?”
“I don’t fucking know!” He sank back down on the sofa, his head
in his hands now. It was as if every ounce of fight he’d had in him only
a moment ago, had run out through a gaping wound. There were tears on his face. I was dumbfounded.
“You have no idea, Genie,” he said quietly. “You have no idea. I
have really been having a fucked-up couple of days. I can’t handle it
anymore. First, the mail came and Father Andrew says that there’s
something in it for me. I never get mail at that place. My mother usually gets my mail. But I knew what was in that envelope Father Andrew gave me. I didn’t even have to open it. I recognized it, you know? Fucking Claudia was suing me for the child support. I opened the envelope anyway and sure enough, not only was she suing me but there was already a hold on my driver’s license until I report to some office on lower Broadway to fill out some sort of pile of paperwork to prove I’m fucking broke. That was it for me, you know? How much was I supposed to take from that bitch? I’m trying to be fair.
“So I went right over to Claudia’s, to try to reason with her. To get
her to drop the suit; to give me a chance to find some decent work and get caught up on the child support. When I get up to the apartment, I find out she’s now living with some guy, some pendejo who has a good job. The two of them both work for the city, Genie, do you know what that means?”
“What?” I said, coming closer.
“It means they both have paychecks coming in, good paychecks,
benefits out the ass, right? Why the fuck does she need to sue me at this particular point? Put my license in jeopardy like this? I have no
I sat down next to him. I put my arm around him, tentatively at
first, but he didn’t pull away. He said, “And then my son is there and
do you know what happens?”
“My son calls that pendejo ‘papi.’ Right in front of me! Papi. He’s
not your fucking papi, I shouted. I’m your papi. He’s just the hijodeputa who’s fucking your mami!”
I didn’t know what that meant but it wasn’t the time to be asking
for a translation. I guessed it was unpleasant.
“So that pendejo lunges at me. And I’m fine with it. I am going to
bust his fucking head wide open. Let him come at me; let him make the first move. And he does. And my kid starts crying. And there’s a huge fight and of course, I’m winning. I told him, nigger please, just bring it on. And he’s bleeding all over the place and now he’s trying to get away. So naturally, Claudia calls the fucking cops and has me arrested. I got arrested for defending myself. Taken to fucking jail. But I made sure that mamabicho got taken in right along with me – so what? I spend the fucking night in jail. But did they have to handcuff me right in front of my son like that? I asked them to do it outside. Please. Do it outside, even out in the fucking hall. I’m not running anywhere, but they can’t even give me that break. They put on the cuffs. My kid is screaming like crazy at that point.”
“You spent the night in jail? Last night?”
“Sí, mami. I spent the night in jail. And now I have thirty days to
pay that fine or they’ll lock me up again. But they made the mistake of putting me in the same cell as that pendejo and I managed to kick the shit out of him before they realized their mistake and moved me.”
Now at least he was smiling. Faintly, but smiling.
“And then I got back to the shelter this morning and you know
what I find out?”
“The church has sold the fucking building! The goddamned
church needs money so I gotta move! I have sixty days and then I’m
“Oh my god. Eddie.”
“Do you still think it’s ‘just money,’ mami?”
“Eddie, I’m so sorry. What are we going to do?”
“We, mami? It’s not your problem. It’s mine.”
“But how can you have a problem, Eddie, without it being my
problem, too? I love you.”
Clearly, I’d caught him off guard. He stared at me strangely then
he kissed me. “And to think papi wanted to punish you,” he said softly.
“Don’t worry, I still might,” he added. “I know how much it pleases
you…You’re blushing again, mami.”
“No, I’m not.”
“Sí, mami, you are. It’s okay. You don’t have to be ashamed of it, I
know all about it.” He affectionately smoothed my hair away from my face.
“About what? What are you talking about?”
“Girls like you. You don’t think I figured out girls like you a long
time ago? White, Spanish, it doesn’t matter. A girl like you wants to be punished by her papi.”
I was indignant. “I do not.”
“Sí, mami, you do. It makes you come. I know all about it. You’re a
little girl who wants her papi to pay attention to her. I’m a papi, sí? I’m a magnet for girls like you. You aren’t the first one.”
I was speechless, utterly speechless. How had the conversation
wound its way to this; to me feeling like a total fool?
“However,” he said. “To get back to what I was saying. Father
Andrew said I could have a job again taking care of church property,
and not a shelter this time, a place where visiting priests stay. I could
have a house and a yard and a car and a little boat, a charcoal grill and a plastic pool and a goddamned fucking dog if I wanted one, but you know where this paradise is? In Pennsyl-fucking-vania, mami. So there goes that idea.”
“Sí, Pennsylvania. I’d have to leave New York.”
“But you wouldn’t have to pay rent?”
“I’d have to pay rent, but at least I’d have a job. I could actually pay
rent. But I’m not moving to Pennsylvania. Who the fuck would I know in Pennsylvania? It would be just me and a pooch and a bunch of traveling priests, like a sideshow or something. And god knows what those priests are ever really up to, you know what I’m saying? And how could I be without you, mami? How could I be without my little Ivory girl making me crazy every day, driving me out of my fucking mind? She’s living with fags, she’s sleeping with dykes; she’s putting cocaine up her nose. She’s doing things I don’t expect, that I don’t understand, she’s doing anything she wants in her little white girl way, whatever pops into her pretty head on any given day until she’s handing me money and I have to shout, stop it you’re punished, and she screams why, papi, why? And I don’t know why, I don’t have a clue anymore…how can I live without that, huh?”
Did I really make him that crazy? “You’d really miss me, papi?”
“Mami, I love you. You know that. I can’t go away. I need to get a
job; I need to find a proper place so that you don’t have to live here like this, without a home, either. So that you can, well…”
This was curious. “So I can what?”
“I want to give you a home, mami. I love you. Whether or not you
want to have a home with me, I guess that’s something you’ll have to
decide. But right now, I can’t do anything anyway. I don’t even have a
place for myself, let alone for you – a girl who could live anywhere in
the fucking world she wanted to.”
© – 2011 Marilyn Jaye Lewis