I hear the jovial panting first, followed by two massive front paws that change the weight distribution on the bed. A furred head the size of a toddler takes up residence underneath my chin. He bucks upward in one clear jerking motion. I’m upright before the slot machines in my eye sockets stop their spinning. The dog, sitting on all fours in the center of the bed, barks once and grins. Waylon wants to go outside.
We do this every morning.
Literally this dog.
The eighty-pound lab gets his way and I’m off into the grey chill with pajamas passing for running pants and tennis shoes that lack socks. By the time we finish the run and the big guy is fed, I need a shower and something resembling hot coffee. It’s 8:30 in the morning, and I’m right on time to make it into the office. I might be a published author, but I still need that day job until the dump trucks filled with cash show up. Any day now, if I’m practicing my voodoo correctly.
As a freelance writer (or an outdoor cat as I like to refer to it), I prospected my own clients, wrote articles for a variety of different publications, and even managed a couple books. There was a two-month stretch where I only played video games – and someone paid me. Times were good, but as any independent contractor will tell you, the income is unpredictable. Then, a swanky firm brought me indoors to develop content for them, and that gig grew into full-time management of a marketing department. No day is really the same.
[Musical interlude while Jon races through the workday]
Waiting for inspiration. Notice the blank expression.
My writing happens at night, after Waylon is fed again and reasonably petted. I must tithe a sufficient number of head pats, lest the beast demand I throw the ball some more. Emails from freelance clients, hand-written charts with character sheets and plot points greet me at my desk. A couple blog posts to research and submit before digging through my notes. I still write story arcs and character sketches in spiral-bound notebooks, a habit from when I was fifteen and bored during the summer. I have a persistent fear that my laptop will give up the ghost in one violent explosion and all my manuscripts will go up with them, so I write key points and ideas with pen and paper.
The goal is 1,000 creative words per evening, and I can go solid until about midnight. Music is integral to the process and I tend to assign different characters varying soundtracks to help me get into their headspaces. Death Cab fades into Bring me the Horizon, which crashes into LIGHTS who morphs into Frank Turner and The 1975. My neighbors probably believe they live underneath a crazy person, and they’re not far off. Character creation and story craft is a kind of alchemy. Part of my heart relishes the mad scientist.
Fortunately, there’s someone here to tap my shoulder and remind me to pick my head up from the keyboard.
The night doesn’t end until she says so.
About the Author: Jonathan Lister is a full-time writer with work appearing in outlets of USA Today, The Houston Chronicle and many others. A graduate of the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa University, he’s waited an unspeakable amount of tables en route to having the career he wants, and the ability to the tell stories he loves. Crossroads: a Demos City Novel is Jonathan’s first book-length work of fiction. He currently lives in the Philadelphia area and continues to drink too much coffee.
Author Social Links: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Welcome-to-Demos/210152159060755
Twitter: @realjonlister Blog: ijonathanlister.wordpress.com
Werewolf. Bar bouncer. Dad. Standard traits for any self-respecting, reformed criminal, living under the radar in Demos City. For Leon Gray, normal is what he wants — for himself and his not-yet-changed teenage daughter.
Playing bodyguard to crusading reporter David Hastings would totally ruin Leon’s peace, especially since Hastings has hired killers on his trail, pros who know how he takes his espresso in the morning, and where Leon lives.
The payoff, though, would fill up Shauna’s empty college fund, and in a battle between opportunity and ordinary, money wins. He just has to keep Hastings alive long enough to cash the check.
If only he didn’t have to save his daughter, too.
As a budding wolf, she’s piqued the interest of a local pack Alpha — one Leon knows will steal Shauna right out from under him the first chance he gets.
Leon isn’t about to give up on his daughter or Hastings, and will fight for both longer than it took Demos City to see werewolves as equals to humans.
He can only hope it doesn’t take a thousand years.