Long Live the Suicide King Cover Reveal

It’s here! The final, real, honest-to-goodness cover for Long Live the Suicide King! I’m so excited to give you a glimpse. Aaron Ritchey Full LLTSK Front and BackAnd, in case you’re not excited about this book yet, I’ve got a few more surprises for you:

The launch party! April 3 at Hanson’s Grill and Tavern. Be there. (Get the details and RSVP.)

Giveaways! I’m giving away a signed copy of the Advanced Reader’s Copy on Goodreads. You can score a copy with a totally different cover than everyone else. And if you prefer ebooks, I’m also giving away five copies of the ebook on LibraryThings. So enter and try to win. It’ll be worth it. Promise.

Excuse Me, This is Hard to Talk About

Back in the day, man, I’d talk death and suicide and hopelessness all day long, without feeling a thing.  I actually ENJOYED it.

Now?  I feel icky.  Seriously.  I’ve been blogging about suicide, I’ve been talking about suicide, and it makes me feel icky because part of me doesn’t want to even bring it up.  I’ve changed.  I want to talk about how great Lynyrd Skynyrd is, or how cute kittens are, or puppies, or how I loved watching Star Wars when I was a kid.  I’d pour over my Star Wars memorabilia and it filled me with such excitement, such longing, such power.  For an eight-year-old boy, back in the day, Star Wars was magic.

Don’t get me wrong, I can still talk about death and suicide and hopelessness, but inside, it just feels wrong.  I don’t know why.  Maybe it’s because I’m letting the world in on my secret, that I’ve had such a hard time with life—stupid, regular, boring, everyday, inane life.  Getting up, brushing my teeth, going to work, it all feels so hard.  I don’t want it to.  I want to celebrate life because it is so very, very short.  So very, very temporary.  But I forget.

Another reason why I don’t want to talk about suicide is that people have had friends, relatives, sons, daughters, mothers, fathers kill themselves, and if I bring it up, I might hurt them.  I worry about that a lot.

A bigger fear is that part of me is afraid if I talk about suicide, I might give people the idea that it’s okay.  It’s not okay.  Not at all.  Suicide and okay don’t even live in the same country.  Like I’ve said before, suicide is a form of murder, the person kills themselves and kills a part of everyone around them.  It’s a nuclear bomb going off in a family.  And radiation poisons everyone long after the fact.

So I’m afraid that, by talking about it, I’m spreading suicidal cheer like a demented Johnny Appleseed.  That’s in the book, one of my favorite lines.

I keep thinking about what one of my characters says to the depressed JD, the hero of LONG LIVE THE SUICIDE KING.  She says, “You don’t get to talk about suicide without there being consequences.”

And she’s right.  I only hope that people who’ve had the dark thoughts, that me talking about it, that this book I wrote, might let them know they aren’t alone.  I’ve been suicidal.  I am not suicidal anymore.  In fact, most days, I kinda enjoy life.

There is hope.  We can change.  There is help.

One good thing about life?  Music?  When I hear a song, and that song hits me in just the right way, like Fall Out Boy’s “My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark”, it’s like a Star Wars moment.  For a minute, the world is magical, I feel powerful.  There is a mystery to this life thing, a profound mystery I’m going to chase, I’m going to experience, and that I love.

Life is sweet.

I Needed a Win–The Kirkus Review Fallout

You have the right to work, but never to the fruit of work.  You should never engage in action for the sake of reward, nor should you long for inaction.  Perform work in this world, Arjuna, as a man established in himself – without selfish attachments, and alike in success and defeat.

–The Bhagavad-Gita

That bit of Hindu goodness is the ideal.  Ideally, I would write and not really pay attention to outside voices, because, in the end, the praise is candy and the criticism is poison and only the act of writing, editing, and publishing nourishes me.

Yes, at all parts of the process I need to be open-minded.  I need to listen.  Criticism I can’t ignore, I have to follow.  Anything else I can ignore, I should.  Truth floats and all else should be forgotten.  The end.

And when a book is launched?  It’s best I focus on the next project and the bread of the writing, not the candy, not the poison; the bread of writing, the broccoli of editing (unpleasant, but good for me), and the meat of publishing.  The end.

But after weeks, months, years of nothing but stale compliments and half-hearted ‘atta-boys,’ I need more.  I do.  I’m weak.

I needed a win.

It’s been a long fall and winter.  I’d had some issues in my inner circle of writing friends.  I’d been summarily rejected by all my favorite publishers and agents when I shopped the book of my dreams, which I figured would happen, but I had high hopes anyway.  I had some failures getting blurbs for another book, and then I got a bad rejection from a publisher who said my scenes lacked focus and my characters were overblown.  Ouch.

My first book sold solidly for a while, but then sales dropped off.

And now I’m walking that long road to promote my second.

I needed a win.

I sent my book to Kirkus Reviews, hoping that it would review well.  It was a gamble.  The day I sent it off, a writer friend said Kirkus bashed them up good.  I was frightened.

I needed a win.

Kirkus said that their deadline was Friday, February 7, but when I saw the email on the Wednesday before that, February 5, well, I opened it immediately.  I’d been waiting for two months.

Remember, I’d spent years opening emails saying all sorts of nice things, only to add their own, “BUT”.

I liked it, but…

You’re great, but…

You’re a rockstar, but…

So in this review, I looked for the good stuff, hoping there would be good stuff.  I saw the word “powerful”, I saw “witty”, I saw “compelling”.

I saw those words.  Then I read the whole thing.

And sat in my chair, rocking back and forth, face in my hands, repeating over and over and over…

“I needed a win.  I needed a win.  I needed a win.”

Maybe I shouldn’t have, but I needed a win.  And I got one.

I really thought that after the review, the magic would be gone in a few minutes, and I’d get back to work, shrugging off the nice things the reviewer said about me.  You know, all other praise I’d never really taken seriously.  I could see all the reasons why it was invalid.  It didn’t matter.  I wasn’t as rich and famous as J.K. Rowling, so it didn’t matter.

I found something with this review, though.  I’d go back to it, savoring it, sipping at it like water from an oasis.  I might not get another win for a long, long time, but I got this win.

And I think maybe that’s one of the nice things about being a writer.  Some of us get wins when we need them, others get wins out of the blue, huge wins, and others go a lifetime with very little other than the joy of creating, the joy, the struggle, the sorrow, the sense of victory.

I remember a story about Richard Bach.  He didn’t know he was a bestseller until someone finally pulled him off some airstrip and told him he was a big deal.  And I think of Poe Ballantine who won a huge national award for a story he wrote years before, and it led to a book contract with a huge press.  Stephen King had Brian de Palma make Carrie into a movie with Sissie Spacek.  Both Jeanne C. Stein and Mario Acevedo were in Barnes and Nobles top 20 Urban Fantasy writers in the first ten years of the 21st century.  Wins, all of them, big wins.

I don’t know if I’ll get another win, and on some days, I don’t care.  My day-to-day remains the same: How can I write as much as possible and make it as good as possible?  That’s the end of the story.  That’s what I need to do.  Praise or vitriol, that’s my job.

But this win?

I needed it.  I needed a win and I got it.  Thank God.

Of course, here’s the link:


Share the news!  It even got selected to be in the March 1, 2014 edition of Kirkus Reviews with a big ol’ blurb at the top.  Which happens with less than 10% of submissions.  A win.  A solid win.  I needed it.  Again, thank God.