COMING OFF HIATUS

With just two chapters — that’s right — TWO chapters — left on the WIP, I though it was time to come out of #amwriting hiding to fire up the blog.

teaser-2So much has happened since the start of the year, beginning with the home stretch gallop for SHELL GAME, my third in the Unapologetic Lives Series. What began as a reaction to an aggressive letter from city hall has turned into a novel journey that examines relationships through the eyes of a feral tabby cat.

Equal parts dark and humorous, SHELL GAME  didn’t reveal it’s true self until the tag lines started teasing their way off of the pages.

It’s to all those amazing Twitter hashtag games geared to writers that I owe a debt for knocking the subtext loose:

#amwriting Psycho-social #cat #dramady with death and laughs #Thurds Words #ShareWrit

#SHELLGAME This time, the cat wins #2bitTues

A pastoral community tweaks when it crosses the black #cat #humor #wip #wipjoy #GuessWrite

This proves again what I have always known about art: ready or not, it finds you. And in this vein, I’m pleased to share two things, beginning with this chestnut:

Writing is one part of the author journey. Getting up and performing is another.

There’s no way to sugar coat performance: it’s tough. Even the most accomplished veterans, the late Sir Laurence Olivier most famously, suffered from mighty stage fright. Canada’s own Gord Downie from The Tragically Hip, I recently learned, is another. But reading the work is critical to getting the word out that writers are alive and well and writing. Believe me, the reading out loud gets easier with practice, and I proved it again just the other night.

compositeBack in 2013, a group of crime-loving authors came together and launched NOIR AT THE BAR, an event that has spread across the country and south of the border too. The February 16 event in Toronto provided a golden opportunity to get up and read from the WIP. Was I nervous? You bet! Am I glad I did it? Absolutely! Writers Rob Brunet, Jennifer Soosar, Tanis Mallow, Hope Thompson, Ian Hamilton, and Howard Shrier shared their dark work with aplomb, along with Noir img_2340Founding Father Peter Rozovsky, who came all the way up from Philly to do so.

That I found myself in such august company was in large part due to hard work (the writing) but also finding the wherewithall to bravely get out to as many events as I could so that I could talk up what I was getting up to (the writing). The invitation to read at Noir followed.

Which leads to the second chestnut:

Talking about your work is well and good as long as you pass on the good karma by talking about the work of others.

paintnet-guess-writeThe incredible power of february-9the Twitter hashtag game cannot be stressed enough. For while the Twitterverse is huge, it lends itself to lasting relationships forged through shares, one line at a time.

Case in point: A group of us recently got together and pooled our hashtag games under the umbrella of #GuessWrite. Each month, game hosts like yours truly, offer up a different theme that acts as a clue to a single, larger #GuessWrite theme. The lucky tanyachrisparticipant(s) that guess the theme share in a prize pack offered up by the hosts. It is through this that I am able to share this space with February 2017 #GuessWrite winner Tanya Chris. Tanya and I have crossed paths many times through #2bitTues #1lineWed #ThruLineThurs, #Thurds Words and many, many more. Yet it is through the shared resources of participating writer gamers that I have the honor to feature her work here.

I can feel the good Karma, already. Can you?

And so it is, without further ado, that I sign off here and get to work on Tanya’s feature post, which will go live later today.

Such joy to be back here in the Blogosphere!

Adult, unapologetic and wholly cognizant,

I am
FUNKHAUSER SIGNATURE

#amwriting #amblogging #amreading #amsharing #writerslife

February 17, 2017

THE CLOSED WORLD OF THE FUNERAL DIRECTOR

The closed world of a funeral director is rarely glimpsed owing to the strictures of confidentiality scrupulously maintained by industry professionals. In SCOOTER NATION, the second novel in A.B. Funkhauser’s Unapologetic Lives Series, confidentiality, or more keenly the silence naturalized by a desire to protect the privacy of others, leads to inflated misunderstandings underpinned by a culture of myth and lore. What follows are a chain of events both comic and chilling.

 

E   X   C   E   R   P   T

Krause looked like she was going to cry: “Don’t you knobs get it? We’ve been sold to the Flexor Group. I just know it.”

Carla stiffened. “What did you see? Who did you see?”

The death business was a small, closed community with few strangers. Everybody knew everyone else and their business too.

“I only saw their feet,” Enid replied. “Black shoes. Square toes.” Her face whitened. “Loafers!”

Scooter Creighton dropped his lighter. “Are you sure? No mistake?”

Eyes 1“No mistake. I was wearing my bifocals. There can only be one person behind this.”

The ancient intercom on the garage wall crackled to life. Jocasta Binns had found them: “Put the damned cigarettes out. Meeting starts NOW.

Scooter Creighton nodded meaningfully at his companions. The rude bitch was clearly on a roll. Like most funeral homes that hadn’t caught up to the twenty-first century, Weibigand’s had a front door equipped with a tinny doorbell that sounded whenever the door swung open. More modern establishments employed greeters or hostesses that manned large semi-circular hotel-lobby like desks for a more personal touch. But Weibigand’s, experiencing a steady decline in business year over year, lacked funds to pay for such a person. So the bell, on duty since the 1930s, was the only way to know that someone had come in. It had not sounded.

“Jocasta turned the bell off!” Enid shouted. “Why the hell would she turn the bell off?”

There were only two possible explanations: Either some non-staffer had been assigned to inside doorstand watch at the door and had shut the bell off, or the doors were being locked and the bell wasn’t needed.

“My god,” Carla gasped, thinking of the square-toed, black leather shoes that, beyond any doubt, now stalked the hall above. Though there were many, only a single pair held any relevance.

Every profession had its own share of false gods and banal superstitions. Those, carried forth on a wave of feverish gossip backed by assertions that everything said was ‘true’, gave rise to fantastic mythologies that made a chosen few more significant than they actually were. Graeham Grissom of B.H. Hoage, for example, was the undisputed embalming god of their age while “Count Floyd” Aiken could ‘will’ new business into being with a stroke of a pen. That old age, arthritis, early-onset dementia and the public’s annoying preference for cremation over medieval embalming procedures decreased the field of competitors, and so guaranteed Graeham’s mantle in the first instance, had nothing to do with the stories spread: he made esoteric concoctions in the old Hoage basement that rendered his people ‘pliable’ ‘natural-like’ ‘soft to the touch’ and even ‘warmer’ without the slightest sign of decay, even after a fifty-four day hold. The same held for Count Floyd. No one could turn a prearranged funeral into an ‘at need’ simply by sending a get better card, yet Floyd’s people did die suddenly whenever he did, whether sick or not. That the deceased had crossed the century mark in every case had little to do with a great tale.

But there were other stories out there: stories not so benign and infinitely more sinister. eyesSome, it was said, enriched themselves through the weak willed. These were the mendacious pocket-liners who evaded the law and curried favor with popular opinion regardless of talk.

These were the ones to watch…

And fear.

The little group assembled in the Weibigand garage knew that fear and felt it now because it was right on top of their heads. Scooter Creighton, jaws clenched, ground the words out first, like a metal vise in need of oil: “It’s Clayton. He is in the building.”

 

SCOOTER NATION

OFFICIAL SCOOTER COVER

ON SALE NOW

Geo Buy Link: http://myBook.to/ScooterNation

Solstice Publishing & Amazon

From Humor to Horror: The Mortician and Her Charge

A fellow scribbler recently asked if I’d thought about working in other genres and I had to take a moment before answering. After a couple of slugs of coffee, here’s what I said: Anything’s possible, but do YOU consciously sit down and say ‘I’m going to write a romance today’?

It’s true that we have an idea what we are about on the page after a few false starts and a meme or two. But if you’re like me, you give your characters a wide berth and let them do the driving.

The tale of halting mortician Enid Krause and her charge, the badly decomposed Jurgen Heuer (read ‘Heuer’ as in ‘lawyer’) for me was a platform from which to launch some stories about what it’s like to be a funeral director in the space of a few precious days. The minutae, the stuff we as directors take for granted, like getting the flowers from visitation suite to church to grave without the family and mourners seeing us do it, became a subject of intense interest for some readers. The fact that the work was so physical, along with the long hours often spent waiting for something to happen seemed to be a jump point for discussion as well.

That HEUER went from conversation piece about an atypical job to an award winner under the HORROR category in this year’s PREDITORS & EDITORS reader poll did not surprise readers, but it did surprise me in the best possible way.

HEUER LOST AND FOUND is many things to me: it is a platform from which to rhapsodize about things near and dear, but it’s also a staging point for exploring complicated grief, guilt, addiction, false love, false starts, and, yes, embalming while under the influence of all of the above. Most exciting to me, was that I was able to present difficult and often horrific subjects under the umbrella of gonzo fiction; that is to say: by making the tough accessible through humor.

I’d like to thank my publisher Summer Solstice, a line division of Solstice Publishing, for believing in what I was trying to do. Solstice gave me the courage to press on through the hard slog that is editing and promoting. Most importantly, they gave me what I needed to keep creating NEW WORK. Thank you Melissa Miller, Kate M. Collins and K.C. Sprayberry for keeping me on task.

Preds and Eds thank youThe PREDITORS & EDITORS Reader’s Poll is my first award and as such my most precious, not just for the validation it gives me personally (shades of Sally Field at the Oscars back in 1985 dogged me, but only for a moment) but for the acknowledgement that the book and characters are MORE than they appear. What seemed incredibly funny to some, mortified others and vice versa. Tissue boxes, I’m told, were reached for in the closing chapters, while others cheered for Heuer, a “strange and complicated” character, to succeed in spite of his sometimes odious behavior.

Will I try another genre? Most probably, but only if the characters allow me to do so. If HEUER LOST AND FOUND has taught me anything, it’s that everything is subjective at all times.

Thank you one and all for your tremendous support on the journey. I am incredibly grateful.

Adult, unapologetic and wholly cognizant,

I am

FUNKHAUSER SIGNATURE

NEXT UP:  SCOOTER NATION Releasing March 13, 2016 through Solstice Publishing

 

Biography

IMG_20160104_121131A.B. Funkhauser is a funeral director, classic car nut and wildlife enthusiast living in Ontario, Canada. Like most funeral directors, she is governed by a strong sense of altruism fueled by the belief that life chooses us and we not it. Her debut novel HEUER LOST AND FOUND, released in April 2015 after five years of studious effort, has inspired four other full length works and over a dozen short stories. SCOOTER NATION, her sophomore effort, is part of her UNAPOLOGETIC LIVES series. Funkhauser is currently working on POOR UNDERTAKER begun during NaNoWriMo 2014.

 

HEUER LOST AND FOUND

Heuer Lost and Found - PrintUnrepentant cooze hound lawyer Jürgen Heuer dies suddenly and unexpectedly in his litter-strewn home. Undiscovered, he rages against God, Nazis, deep fryers and analogous women who disappoint him.

At last found, he is delivered to Weibigand Brothers Funeral Home, a ramshackle establishment peopled with above average eccentrics, including boozy Enid, a former girl friend with serious denial issues. With her help and the help of a wise cracking spirit guide, Heuer will try to move on to the next plane. But before he can do this, he must endure an inept embalming, feral whispers, and Enid’s flawed recollections of their murky past.

Geo Buy Link: http://myBook.to/heuerlostandfound

Book Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X-C5qBpb0Yc

 

 

PRAISE

“Funny, quirky, and sooooo different.”

—Jo Michaels, Jo Michaels Blog

“Eccentric and Funny. You have never read anything like this book. It demands respect for the outrageous capacity of its author to describe in detail human behavior around death.”

—Charlene Jones, author THE STAIN

“The macabre black comedy Heuer Lost And Found, written by A.B. Funkhauser, is definitely a different sort of book!  You will enjoy this book with its mixture of horror and humour.”

—Diana Harrison, Author ALWAYS AND FOREVER

“This beautifully written, quirky, sad, but also often humorous story of Heuer and Enid gives us a glimpse into the fascinating, closed world of the funeral director.”

—Yvonne Hess, Charter Member, The Brooklin 7

“The book runs the gamut of emotions. One minute you want to cry for the characters, the next you are uncontrollably laughing out loud, and your husband is looking at you like you lost your mind, at least mine did.”

http://teresanoel.blogspot.ca/2015/05/heuer-lost-and-found-unapologetic-lives

“The writing style is racy with no words wasted.”

—David K. Bryant, Author TREAD CAREFULLY ON THE SEA

“For a story centered around death, it is full of life.”

—Rocky Rochford, Author RISE OF ELOHIM CHRONICLES

“Like Breaking Bad’s Walter White, Heuer is not a likeable man, but I somehow found myself rooting for him. A strange, complicated character.”

—Kasey Balko, Pickering, Ontario

Raw, clever, organic, intriguing and morbid at the same time … breathing life and laughter into a world of death.

—Josie Montano, Author VEILED SECRETS

LINKS

Website: www.abfunkhauser.com

Scooter Page: https://abfunkhauser.com/wip-scooter-nation/

Podcast:  http://mhefferman.ca/author/podcasts/episode-3-an-interview-with-a-b-funkhauser/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/iamfunkhauser

Facebook: www.facebook.com/heuerlostandfound

Publisher: http://solsticepublishing.com/

Goodreads: http://bit.ly/1FPJXcO

Amazon Author Page: www.amazon.com/author/abfunkhauser

Email: a.b.funkhauser@rogers.com

Audio Interview:

Interview Part 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g2yhaXfh-ns

Interview Part 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WoPthI1Hvmo

 

 

HEUER LOST AND FOUND: THE EXCERPT

“Come with me, and I will show you worlds.”

 

At last, HEUER LOST AND FOUND is ready to go with presales beginning March 26 to the launch on April 23rd on Amazon. It’s been a long, exciting journey marked with encouragement and a lot of learning. I’ve made so many friends along the way, so much so that I owe this space and the people that help fill it a special nod all their own. In the coming days, I’ll be talking up my ladies in the Brooklin 7, my incredible sister and authorly inspiration Cryssa Bazos, and long time friends Gilda Heinrich Rousseau and Suzanne Fairbrass Stacey. I will also pay homage to the crew at the Wine Rack, the guys on the Canadian Poncho Car site, and the amazing staff at the Pickering Metro; all of whom make stepping out the door an adventure. Thank you. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Solstice Publishing, it’s staff—who are also writers—and the amazing authors I’ve grown close to as a member of the Solstice Family. All in due time. Today, is for every person I’ve spoken to who expressed interest in HEUER LOST AND FOUND. I owe you an excerpt.

Chapter Two

Two Weeks Ago

The house, like the man who lived in it, was remarkable: a 1950s clapboard-brick number with a metal garage door that needed serious painting. Likewise, the windows, which had been replaced once in the Seventies under some home improvement program, then never again. They were wooden and they were cracked, allowing wasps and other insects inside.

This was of little consequence to him.

The neighbors, whom Heuer prodigiously ignored, would stare at the place. Greek, Italian, and house proud, they found the man’s disdain for his own home objectionable. He could see it on their faces when he looked out at them through dirty windows.

To hell with them.

If the neighbors disapproved of the moss green roof with its tar shingles that habitually blew off, then let moet_champagne_partythem replace it. Money didn’t fall from the sky and if it did, he wouldn’t spend it on improvements to please strangers.

They were insects.

And yet there were times when Jürgen Heuer was forced to compromise. Money, he learned, could solve just about anything. But not where the willful and the pernicious were concerned. These, once singled out, required special attention.

Alfons Vermiglia, the Genovese neighbor next door, had taken great offense to his acacia tree, a towering twenty-five foot behemoth that had grown from a cutting given to him by a lodge brother. The acacia was esteemed in Masonic lore appearing often in ritual, rendering it so much more than just mere tree. In practical terms, it provided relief, offering shade on hot days to the little things beneath it. And it bloomed semi-annually, whimsically releasing a preponderance of white petals that carried on the wind mystical scent—the same found in sacred incense and parfums.

What horseshit.

It was a dirty son of a bitch of a tree that dropped its leaves continuously from spring to fall, shedding tiny branches from its diffident margins. These were covered in nasty little thorns that damaged vinyl pool liners and soft feet alike. They also did a pretty amazing job of clogging Alfons’ pool filter, turning his twenty-five hundred gallon toy pool green overnight.

This chemistry compromised the neighbor’s pleasure and it heightened his passions, blinding Alfons to the true nature of his enemy. He crossed over onto Heuer’s property and drove copper nails into the root system. It was an old trick, Byzantine in its treachery; the copper would kill the tree slowly over time leading no one to suspect foul play.

weird vistaBut Heuer was cagey and suspicious by nature, so when the tree displayed signs of failure, he knew where to look.

The acacia recovered and Alfons said nothing. Heuer planted aralia—the “Devil’s Walking Stick”—along the fence line and this served as an even thornier reminder that he knew. And if there was any doubt at all, he went further by coating his neighbor’s corkscrew hazel with a generous dose of Wipe Out.

Intrusive neighbors and their misplaced curiosities were, by turns, annoying and amusing and their interest, though unwanted, did not go unappreciated. The Greeks on the other side of him weren’t combative in the least and they offered gardening advice whenever they caught him out of doors. The man, Panos, talked politics and cars, and expressed interest in the vehicle that sat shrouded and silent on Heuer’s driveway. He spoke long and colorfully about the glory days of Detroit muscle cars and how it all got bungled and bargained away.

Detroit GTO“They sacrificed an industry to please a bunch of big mouths in Hollywood,” Panos would rant in complete disregard for history: Al Gore and Global Warming didn’t kill the GTO; the OPEC oil crisis did. But there was no point in telling him that.

Panos was an armchair car guy and incurable conspiracy theorist. He also kept to his side of the fence, unlike his wife, Stavroula, who was driven by natural instinct. Not content to leave an unmarried man alone, she routinely crossed Heuer’s weedy lawn, banging on the door with offers of food and a good housecleaning.

Heuer had no trouble accepting her cooking. But he declined her brush and broom. Was it kindness, or was she trying to see inside? He suspected the latter.

No one was ever seen entering Heuer’s house and while this piqued public interest, he never gave in, not even to those who were kind to him. He liked Panos and Stavroula and he regretted poisoning their cat.

But not enough to let them in to his home.

Others on the street had less contact with him. Canvassers at election time would disturb him, in spite of the lawn sign warning the solicitous away. That this didn’t apply to neighbor kids brave enough to pedal cookies and magazine subscriptions in spite of the sign, was a testament, perhaps, to some residual soft spot in his heart that endured.

Even so, he knew that people talked about him and, frankly, he had trouble accounting for their fascination. Short, curt, bespectacled, he courted an ethos that favored enforced detachment. When people got close enough to hear him speak, they detected a trace of an accent. Now faded after years of U.S. residency, his speech still bore the unmistakable patterns of someone undeniably foreign. Elaborate, overwrought and heavy on the adverbs, he spoke very much like his neighbors. Yet the distance between them was incalculable…

***

Day 1: Post Mortem

Heuer shook his head, finding it especially odd that he would think of such things at this particular moment. The circumstances, after all, were beyond peculiar. Coming out of thick, dense fog, standing upright, looking wildly around, and having difficulty comprehending, the last thing that should trouble him was human relations.

The man on the floor would have agreed, had he not lacked the resources to speak.

Heuer canvassed his surroundings. The room, still dark, the shades drawn, and the plants Stavroula forced on him, wilted and dry, bespoke of an unqualified sadness. His computer, left on and unattended, buzzed pointlessly in the corner, its screen saver, a multi-colored Spirograph montage, interspersed with translucent images of faceless Bond girls, twisting ad infinitum for an audience of none.

Back StairWhat happened here?

The bottle of Johnnie Black lay open and empty on the bedroom floor, along with a pack of Marlboro’s, gifts from an old friend. The desk chair lay on its side, toppled, in keeping with the rest of the room. His bed sheets were twisted, the pillows on the floor, and there were stains on the walls; strange residues deposited over time representing neglect and a desire to tell.

He looked down at his hands. They kept changing; the veins, wavy, rose and fell like pots of worms.

Trippy.

There was no evidence of eating, however, and this was really weird, for it was in this room that Heuer lived. Flat screens, mounted on the ceiling and on the desktop, kept him in line with the world outside in ways that papers could not. Screens blasted twenty-four and seven with their talking heads and CNN, whereas papers were flat and dirty, suitable only for the bottoms of bird cages. He cancelled the dailies first and then the weeklies, seeing no value whatever in printed words.

Pictures were another matter. Several in paint and charcoal and sepia covered the walls and floors. He loved them all, and he stared at them for hours when he pondered. His beer fridge, humidor, and model rocket collection completed him; housing the things he loved, all within perfect reach.

His senses, though dulled, honed in on a scent, distant yet familiar, coming from inside the room. It was bog-like-foul like a place he’d visited long ago, buried under wood ash. He frowned.

What was the last thing he ate? Did he cook or go for takeout? He wanted to go down to the kitchen to check, but found, to his astonishment, that he could not get past the doorframe into the outer hall.

Nein, das kann nicht sein!—Now this is not right!—he fumed, switching to German. He would do this whenever he encountered static. The spit and sharp of it forced people back because they could not understand what he meant.

Unballing his fists he felt his chest, registering the sensation of “feel”—he could feel “touch,” but he could not locate the beating heart. Consciously knitting his brows, he considered other bodily wants, his legal mind checking and balancing the laws of nature against the laws of the impossible. He could not, for example, feel “hunger” and he wasn’t dying for a drink either.

Was this a mark of passage into the nether? The man on the floor had no comment.

He thought about his bowels and if they needed attention, but that, to his great relief, no longer appeared to matter. Regularity, in recent years, wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. When he was young, he reveled in a good clean out after the morning coffee because it reset his clock and established the tone for the rest of the day. Not so latterly. His prostate had kept its promise, letting him down, enlarging, pressing where it ought naught. Awake most nights, he lost sleep and dreams.

With this in mind, he bounced up and down on the soles of his expensive shoes in an effort to confirm if he was awake or not. Perhaps he was sleepwalking, or heading off to the can for another urinary evacuation that wouldn’t come?

The man on the floor ruled out these options.

He tried the door again, and again, to his dismay, he could not leave.

What to do? What to do?

‘I think, therefore I am,’ went the popular saying, but what good was ‘being’ when one was confined to a bedroom like a rat in a cage?

He struggled to remain calm, just as he became aware of that heavy oppressive feeling one gets before receiving bad news. Pacing back and forth across the ancient floorboards in the house he was born into, he checked for the kinds of incriminating evidence the court of public opinion would hold against him once found. Pornography, loaded handguns, too many candy wrappers all had to be dispatched before someone inevitably broke the door down.

As light turned to dark and day gave over into night, Heuer’s thoughts came faster and faster, in different languages, interspersed with corrugated images, accompanied by generous doses of Seventies rock; a fitting sound track for the old life, now ended.

He fell to his knees. Somewhere in this mélange was something to be grateful for and with time, he was sure, he would figure out what that single, great, thing might be. For now, all he could really do was take comfort in the fact that his death had been perfect.

***

See the first trailer  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f3beUBWf2CQ

Definitely see the NEW ONE

Interview Part 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g2yhaXfh-ns

Interview Part 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WoPthI1Hvmo

BUY LINKS:

Preorder Link: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=ntt_athr_dp_sr_1?_encoding=UTF8&field-author=A.B.%20Funkhauser&search-alias=digital-text&sort=relevancerank

Amazon Link: http://www.amazon.com/Heuer-Lost-Found-B-Funkhauser-ebook/dp/B00V6KLAMA/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1427367625&sr=1-1&keywords=heuer+lost+and+found

Book Goodies: http://bookgoodies.com/a/B00V6KLAMA

Thank you. 🙂