I have four or five early readers for my new book, The Man Who Saved Two Notch. A couple have gotten back to me with some invaluable feedback. I actually wrote a preface for the book that I otherwise wouldn’t have written without their input. That’s why I use early readers. They can help you make a book better.
I went through four versions of the preface and the last one is completely different from the first. Here’s the preface as it reads now. Remember, this is not a young adult novel like my others, so if you’re offended by graphic situations and language, look away… now!
I was there. I seen him die. The whore and him faced down nearly ten men. The sun was buried deep under the curve of the earth by the time the first shot was fired. Clouds smothered the tiny white slit of a moon. The flashes popping out of the muzzles of their guns lit up the night. The crack of the gunshots echoed through the emptiness of the world around us. If you listened hard enough, you could pick up the sounds of dying men fighting for their last breaths. But I didn’t care to listen for that sort of thing.
When the dust settled and I was sure it was over, I approached him. His feet was still moving, flexing up and down. Blood was pouring from all his wounds, old and new. His eyes were darting left and right. Words were coming out of his mouth, but I couldn’t make heads or tails out of what he was saying.
I knelt down and turned my ear towards his mouth.
“There’s a lot of ‘em.” That’s what I could make out anyway. It came out in a pile of mumbling. I looked where his darting eyes was scanning and noticed the clouds had give way. He was lying under a star-speckled sky.
“Yes, sir,” I said.
He reached up and grabbed hold of the back of my head. “Feel bad about the little ones.”
“Sir?” I struggled to work myself free, but his grip was strong as granite.
“I’ve gotta answer for the little ones.” He chuckled. “I ain’t sure they all deserved it.”
That’s when I knew he wasn’t talking about the stars. I didn’t know what to say, so I just said, “S’pose that’ll be worked out soon enough.”
He smiled. “That’s what I’m afraid of.”
A couple of minutes later he spoke his last words. The bouncing of his eyes come to a stop and he fixed them on me. “Don’t let that fucking bear eat me.”
I was calling this an Apocalyptic Western, but it turns out the industry is really into the term “mashup,” so now I’m calling this an Apocalyptic Western Mashup. That’s way cooler… I guess.