I finally have some news to announce!
I have to apologize for the delay here; there was a bit of an issue regarding cover art, basically, which set everything back by almost two months–since formatting can’t start until the cover art is done, we’ve all been in pretty much a holding pattern. I could have bought a stock photo myself and added some text to it, sure, but I wanted something better than that. More special than that. (I’m not saying covers like that can’t be good, at all. Of course they can. I’m simply saying that I personally lack the artistic talent and photo-manipulation skill to do it. I mean, I thought my little cover for BE A SEX-WRITING STRUMPET was pretty cute, but not only do I want something more…custom, shall we say, for this, there’s a good chance that I’m one of the only ones who thought so.) Add in the extra time for repeated editing passes, and copyediting by a professional, and now cover art which is being illustrated and painted by a professional artist, then then proper formatting (not just a text dump), and hopefully that explains some of the delay. It’s important to me that this be indistinguishable from the other books in the series, and that takes time. (Again, it’s not my intention at all to imply that if somebody manages to do all this faster it means lesser quality.)
But. I DO have something to share! I’ve been meaning to post the back cover copy for a while, and figured now was the perfect time, since I should hopefully have cover art to show in the next couple of weeks. And once that’s done, there should be a release date announcement not long after. (Future projects won’t take so long, I swear; I’m learning as I go here, and now I know a lot more about how to do all of this. Like, for example, don’t wait until the book is actually done to settle on a title and begin the cover art process. Heh.)
So. Here’s the back cover copy for WRONG WAYS DOWN, and then a new excerpt (remember, WWD is set in the time between UNHOLY GHOSTS and UNHOLY MAGIC; actually it takes place over the week surrounding New Year’s Eve, to be more specific).
It’s a thin line between right and wrong. It’s an even thinner one between wrong and dead…
Terrible has always been on the wrong side of the law, living up to the only name anyone ever gave him. As the chief enforcer for Downside’s most powerful criminal, it’s his job to collect debts and protection money by any means necessary. And he’s very good at his job.
But part of that job is also to keep Bump’s various employees safe. So when a street dealer is found dead and a prostitute is brutally attacked, Terrible immediately starts using his fists to hunt down the ones responsible.
He’s determined to find and destroy them. They’re determined to use his desire for the woman he secretly loves to break him.
He ain’t minded the cold, or the dark, but it did make shit harder. Finding people on the street weren’t as easy, and not as many people out there who might try starting shit with him he could finish. And fuck how he wanted to finish something just then, when Bump’s anger still made him tight inside. And fuck, wasn’t he glad he got the chance; third name on he list were home.
He flexed his fingers, stretching them, before curling them into a fist and slamming them into Sharp-Eye Ben’s face again. Ain’t should have felt good doing it, but it did.
And it helped him forget all the other shit. Helped him forget how he’d failed protecting the girls and how maybe he weren’t smart enough to find the dude attacked Sue. Helped him forget how his daughter ain’t even knew she was his, that she thought some other dude was her dad and he couldn’t ever, ever say the truth. Helped him forget how he looked, how fucking pitiful he was when it came to Chess, how he weren’t good enough to even be her friend, weren’t good enough for much at all.
Except this. This was the one thing he did better than anybody else, leastaways better’n anybody else he’d ever met. He’d never lost a fight. And when he was doing it, using his fists, his whole body…he felt right. Like his body did the thinking he mind couldn’t seem to get, and when he was fighting he thought faster than anybody else. If fists were brains he was the smartest dude in the city, and he couldn’t help how that made him feel good.
“Two weeks is up, Ben,” he said, letting his fist hang cocked in the air so Ben could see it. “Ain’t seein any lashers in my hand.”
“Sorry,” Ben gasped. Kinda hard to make out the words, what with he mouth all puffy and bloody, but Terrible had a lot of experience with that. “Tried, I done, I tried, but I ain’t got it yet. Just another week’s all I need, another week—”
Terrible hit him again. “Don’t got another week.”
He dropped Ben—he’d been holding him up by the hair—and turned away as Ben crumpled to the floor. Ben were a speed-banger; his place looked like a banger’s place, almost empty, and cold in the merciless light from the unshaded overheads.
But Ben were a cutpurse, too, which meant he might have something hidden away. Some last valuable thing, pass on to somebody who’d buy he a bag with it, since Ben couldn’t buy from any of Bump’s until he’d paid up. Also meant he knew other thieves, more’n Terrible did.
“Gonna have me the money soon,” Ben whined behind him. Terrible hoisted the end of the cheap-ass couch to look underneath it. Nothing but dust and bloody tissues. “Met—met me a dame, says she give me it, she do. Just ain’t knowing you be here on the today. Can have it on morrow, I can, have it for you then I’m swearing, just…”
Terrible ignored him. No food in the kitchen cabinets—no surprise there—cepting some dusty hard candies loose on a shelf. Nothing in the fridge but cheap beer. He opened the drawers, the freezer, looked under the sink. Dead bugs and rat droppings. Why anybody live that way when they had the choice? Terrible’d had enough filth around when he were a kid, sleeping on the street, staying with any lonely drunk or junkie offered him a bed or some food. Now he had he own place, he ain’t ever wanted to sleep with rats or roaches again.
Ben was still on the floor, ain’t moved at all. Blood dripped out his nose onto the thin dirty carpet. Terrible stepped over him to look in the bathroom and bedroom. Better chances on finding aught in there.
Couple loaded needles. He didn’t touch those. Didn’t really wanna touch shit in that bathroom, actually, or in that apartment. Chess carried gloves, just like she carried baby wipes. He wished she were with him. She’d help him search, help—no, he didn’t wish it. He hated her seeing him work, leastaways like that. It were different when he was protecting her or helping her, but…he hated her seeing him work.
Not causen he were embarrassed by what he did. More like he were embarrassed causen of how he felt about what he did, and it were just more evidence that he was a dumb fucking savage or aught like that, not the kinda man a dame like her even should talk to.
He’d found two gold watches tucked up under the mattress, obviously stolen, before Ben spoke again. “Please…hear you had you a robbery on the other night, I hear. Maybe I can get some knowledge on it for you.”
So Ben only knew about Sue, not Slick. Or was pretending he only knew on Sue, but Terrible guessed he honestly ain’t. Shit like that weren’t Ben’s style; he didn’t think Ben had any at all to do with the attacks, only that Ben might be an ear to the ground and Ben would be happy as hell to pass on whatany knowledge he got.
Ben musta seen him thinking. “Please. Terrible, maybe I find somethin out, maybe I give you what I find, maybe that be a help? Them watches—that one be my daddy’s, it were, my daddy’s watch.”
“Aye?” Damn it, why’d Ben have to fuck up a good deal with such a dumbass lie? He checked the back of the watch face, read the monogram there. “This one? What it say on the back, then?”
Ben hesitated. He’d managed to stand up; Terrible strode over to him and knocked him back down. Fuck, he were pissed enough already, and he’d just started feeling a little better, and now there Ben was pissing him off again. He’d learned a long time ago that when he got mad while he was beating on people, it ain’t ended so good. But now he was. “Don’t fuckin lie to me, Ben. Gets me mad, people lie to me. You want me fuckin mad?”
Ben shook his head, wiping at his mouth with shaking hands. “Nay, sorry, sorry, only I—weren’t thinkin, I weren’t, sorry.”
Should he hit him again? He wanted to. Ben was lying, and—aye, an that’s why he had to. Let people get away with shit, and they’d try getting away with it again. They’d think he was an easy touch, that he ain’t could figure out that they was lying. He hit Ben again. “Think better. Said you could get me some knowledge on that robbery?”
“Can—can try, I can. Bettin I can, I find somebody knows aught they can give me, I bet.”
Terrible pretended to consider it, then nodded. “Aye, right then. On morrow, dig? On morrow I come back. You better fuckin be here, an you better fuckin have the knowledge. And Bump’s money.”
Ben’s mouth fell open—as much as it could. “Thought I give you the knowledge, you take them watches, I ain’t got owes no more—”
Terrible shook his head. “Still got owes. Have em on morrow, and the knowledge. Or I come find you. And then I be mad. Dig?”
Terrible reached out and patted Ben’s shoulder, harder than he had to. “On morrow, then.”
He pocketed the watches and left, not looking back.