Posts Tagged ‘The Beginner


Blake Has Written Books Part 2: The Beginner

The Beginner coverMy second book, The Beginner, was also given a revised second edition a couple of years ago, although the revisions to this book weren’t as extensive as those to Other People’s Heroes. Although I didn’t have a name for it yet, like OPH, this book has served as the launching pad for a continuity of related titles. But while the tales of Siegel City have been offbeat takes on the world of superheroes, the world of The Curtain draws its inspiration from the various realms of fantasy, monster movies, and horror.

In The Beginner we meet Curtis Dupré, a young filmmaker whose debut project got him enough attention that he’s got the freedom to do his second project just as he wants: casting an actress he’s admired for years and filming in his home turf in Louisiana. But things don’t go smoothly at all — people begin to vanish from the set, leaving everybody except Curtis himself unaware that they ever even existed. Desperate to prove his own sanity and save his friends from a mysterious creature with a glittering pick for a weapon, Curtis will have to find the truth about himself to stop the devastation.

The Beginner is a story for people who love a good campfire tale. It’s also the book that taught me a valuable lesson about titles: try not to be too generic. You know what you get if you do an search for “The Beginner“? You get ten thousand how-to books, that’s what you get.

Here, I did the search for you:

I ask again, guys, to help me spread the word about this book. Share! Tweet! Reblog! Let people know!


OPENING NIGHT hits tomorrow… read the prologue today!

As I mentioned Sunday, my all-new zombie novel Opening Night of the Dead is sittin’ high right now in the Amazon Kindle Store and the bookstore, for just $2.99 in any e-reader format. The book should soon be available in the Nook store, Sony Reader store, iPad store, and in print as well. (Watch this space for those announcements as soon as they’re available.)

Also as I mentioned, I’m asking those of you who are planning to get the book to wait until Wednesday to buy it. In short, I’m hoping to so a small-scale “rush” of Amazon, getting as many people as possible to get the book in as short a period as possible, helping it gain a more favorable position on the highly-competitive horror charts and increasing its chances to be seen by more people. I’ve even started a Facebook Event for the Amazon Launch, which you are all totally invited to join if you haven’t done so already.

To give you one last little bonus before tomorrow’s big push, I thought I would give you a taste of the novel itself. So here, for the first time, is the prologue to Opening Night of the Dead. Hope you enjoy it!



If he knew the crap he was in for after he died, Josh Cambre would have made a more concerted effort to stay among the living.

He wandered the Halloween Festival of Fear alone, Kelly having abandoned him for a guy in a Conan the Barbarian costume (and not a square of cotton padding necessary to fill out the muscles, either). Josh was dressed as a scarecrow, and like Kelly’s new Conan, he had the physique for his costume. Josh was thin, spindly – even sickly if you looked at him from the wrong angle. To be frank, it was astonishing that a zombie would bother to bite somebody with so little meat on his bones. Then again, it was just his luck to run afoul of the only member of the undead in the world busy counting Weight Watchers points. He hadn’t encountered any real zombies yet, but after his date walked off with the guy in the loincloth, he lost most of his inclination to keep on going. He wasn’t considering suicide or anything – Josh didn’t quite have the steel for that – but if you’d told him there was a flesh-eating ghoul marching around the Climax Studios Amusement Park, he wouldn’t necessarily have made an effort to flee in terror.

Wandering the park alone, not knowing or particularly caring if Kelly would have a ride home with her Cimmerian king, he decided to force himself to have a good time. This would have been a brilliant idea, had it proven even remotely possible. The roller coaster was a bust (literally, it broke down with three people remaining in line ahead of him), and the last time he’d gone on a Tilt-a-Whirl he’d been left with three days of hugging the toilet bowl. Popping into a Haunted House, he decided, would be his safest bet. It was unlikely he’d run into Kelly; if he did he probably wouldn’t recognize her in the dark, and maybe a good scare would wipe the depressed look from his face.

Of course, that was the great thing about the scarecrow costume – the mask covered his entire head. His Coke-bottle glasses fit under there as neatly as his enormous ears, his matted-down haircut was invisible, his acne across the bridge of his too-small nose was as good as clear. No one could even see the small brown blob underneath his chin, the birthmark that his mother always tried telling him looked like a lion, but that people always said looked like he’d been eating chocolate and hadn’t wiped his face well enough.

Chocolate if he was lucky.

Christ, it was amazing that Kelly had even agreed to come here with him in the first place, wasn’t it?

An enormous fiberglass proxy of Frankenstein’s monster was grinning down at him, lightning flashing up into his face and reflecting onto the ground with a strobe effect. Shuffling around outside of the building he saw mummies, werewolves, and slashers aplenty. This was the one he wanted. There were a dozen Haunted Houses on the Climax Studios theme park property, each with its own theme or overlay – Science Gone Bad, Gateway to Hell, Crypt of the Vampires (reportedly the tamest haunt on the property, and oh, how that wounded him). After very little deliberation, Josh decided to soak his sorrows in Silver Screen Screams, a house full of dioramas plucked specifically from classic horror movies – and, no doubt, liberal use of the characters from Climax’s recent horror hit, The Beginner. In fact, he could see one of the bad guys from that movie waiting in the wings – a little bald fella wearing all black and twirling what looked like a surgical scalpel from a leather thong on his left hand. Good job making the little bastard look creepy, if nothing else. He worked with this fright factory. It was good enough for Josh to waste a little time before he dragged himself home.

He was told that actors in a Haunted House are trained to leap at the most terrified-looking person in a group, and in front of him was a giggling mob of teenage girls, each of whom seemed to make for a welcome target when someone was primed to leap out from a casket or reach a mummified arm out from behind a hidden panel in the wall. Since the actors in their monster makeup invariably blew their wads trying to terrify the girls, they were always resetting the scene when Josh walked past on his own a few seconds later. He tried not to focus on the idea that even actors paid to terrify people seemed to have no interest in him at all.

After about 20 minutes in the house, Josh wandered into an area lined with rows of authentic-looking corn stalks, with yellow lights twinkling at him in pairs – eyes watching him from behind the rows. Interesting effect, one that worked pretty well, he thought. It would be better if they tried to shape the lights a little, they were too round to accept as eyes, but he could give the Climax folks an A for Effort. He even felt appropriately dressed here in the cornfield, even though he didn’t actually feel like he fit in any better than he did anywhere else.

A nasty chill whispered across his back when the gurgling sound began, and the zombie that moved out of the cornrows reached out at him, hissing and snapping his teeth. Josh didn’t scream – didn’t even flinch. He just rolled his eyes and said, “Dude, I really think you wandered into the wrong scene. You’re supposed to be a creepy-ass kid with platinum blonde hair. Good makeup, though.”

He moved to continue after the girls on the path, but the corpse wrapped its claw-like hands around his arm. Josh turned, starting to get angry with the pushy kid in the zombie getup. “Look, man–”

Whatever threat or ultimatum would have followed was lost when the zombie’s thick, yellow teeth chomped through the burlap shirt that was part of his costume and into the admittedly thin flesh of Josh’s arm. He shouted, yanking the limb back out of instinct, but succeeding only in helping the zombie rip out a chunk of stringy flesh. Blood spurted into the air and dripped from the mouth of the hungry ghoul. Josh screamed again, but still had the presence of mind to back away, flailing, and bolt from the scene.

The arm hurt terribly, not only from the wound, but from an intense burning sensation that seemed to consume the whole area. When he placed his good hand over the wound he was stunned to feel how hot it was already, as if his arm alone could somehow contain a fever.

Oh god, he thought, what if that guy had rabies? What if he had something worse? Those videos, those Curtain guys, what if— What did he give to me?

He rushed ahead into the house, shoving aside the teenage girls (who threw some decidedly un-ladylike language at him, not that he was in any condition to get into a snit about it), and began to wander through room after room, shouting for help. In an Egyptian crypt, he nearly trampled an old woman in a walker. In Dr. Frankenstein’s lab, he actually shoved the Monster himself over into the lab table, eliciting some joyous laughter from the kids Frankie had been attempting to frighten. Finally, he stumbled through the exit door and fell right onto the pavement, rolling to the feet of a little man with a big smile.

Josh looked up at him, seeing someone dressed in all black, which wasn’t exactly unusual at this time of year. The small figure had no hair, but a wide, toothy grin spread across his face like a famished man looking down at a perfectly grilled steak. He held something in his left hand – cradled it, if one was going to be honest – but Josh wasn’t even paying attention, which was the last mistake of his life. Josh was happy to see anyone, even someone dressed like the Closer-monster from The Beginner.

“Dude! There’s someone in there… someone biting people! You gotta call the cops, you gotta–”

“Joshua Cambre.”

Josh blinked, surprised to hear his name from the lips of this stranger, startled just enough to arrest his panic. “I… yeah, that’s me, but…”

“Eighty-two years old,” the little man continued. He reached out with his right hand, grabbing the burlap mask that shielded Josh’s unseemly face from the rest of the Halloween crowd. With one fierce yank, he pulled the mask away, exposing Josh’s skin to the warm autumn air of California. Josh looked up, seeing a horrible gleam in the man’s eye, and suddenly he was far more terrified than he was when it was just the walking dead after him.

“You die,” the man said. “You die alone, from a pulmonary embolism in your sleep, after a tragically lonely and pathetically uneventful life.”

“What the hell? Dude, break character! Some asshole bit my arm, you gotta help me!”

The little man raised his hand, and something flashed. Something long and silver.

“Don’t worry,” he said. “I’m about to spare you all that.”

*   *   *

Aaaaaand, scene! There you have it, friends, the prologue to Opening Night of the Dead, and I sincerely hope you enjoyed it. Don’t forget, some time tomorrow head on over to if you’ve got a Kindle or Kindle App and pick it up. If you’ve got an iPad or some other reader, don’t worry. I’ve got you covered at And don’t forget, as part of the launch celebration, I’m cutting the price of my previous novel The Beginner to just 99 cents until August 1. That, too, is available at, as well as The Barnes & Noble Nook store,, in print from (print version is still full price, sorry), and in your iPad bookstore.

See you all tomorrow!


Coming Wednesday to Amazon: Opening Night of the Dead!

Well my friends, after a lot of hard work, a lot of valuable help, and a little blind faith, my next novel, Opening Night of the Dead, is finally finished. I’ve declared this Wednesday, June 20, to be the official “launch day” for this new book, a zombie novel that combines my usual style of humor with the terror of wandering through an amusement park full of zombies… some of which are real, some of which may not be. Tell you what, let me let the back of the book explain it to you:

“The Climax Studios Festival of Fear is a Halloween tradition, but with monsters roaming the theme park and a monster movie filming on the adjacent film lot, what hell will break loose when a real zombie surfaces and starts biting? When you can’t tell who’s alive and who’s undead, can a stuntman, a makeup artist, a sleaze-slinging blogger and a pair of former cops stop the end of the world from sneaking off the studio lot and infecting all of California?

Blake M. Petit’s first zombie novel brings the sharp wit and genre-aware humor of his superhero favorite OTHER PEOPLE’S HEROES to the realm of horror. Fast, tense, and fun, OPENING NIGHT OF THE DEAD is a zombie tale unlike any other.”

Now, the book is going to eventually be available in all eBook formats, through the Nook and iPad and Kobo stores and even in print, but for the moment it’s only available at two sites: the Amazon Kindle store and in all other formats at In both places, the book is a mere $2.99 for a full-length novel PLUS the bonus short story, “It’s Time to Play the Music.” You can’t beat that, friends.

Now here’s the tricky part. The book is, technically, available for purchase right now. But I’m asking you, please, DON’T BUY IT YET. Wait until Wednesday?



Amazon ranking is influenced not only by how many books you sell, but also how fast they sell in a specific period of time. So if everybody reading this buys a book when they read this announcement, it won’t raise the book as high on the list as if everybody waits and buys it on the same day. And the higher it goes on that list, the better chances it’ll be found by people outside of my little community of friends and supporters, and that wil help this community grow, which is really my goal. So if you’re planning to buy the eBook for your Kindle or Kindle app on any device, great! I love you. But PLEASE, wait until Wednesday. In the meantime, though, help spread the word. Pass this link along to anyone you know who’s into zombies, horror, horror/comedy, or who you know enjoyed any of my previous books.

Speaking of which…

I don’t write any story in a vacuum, my friends. Like most of my work, Opening Night of the Dead has ties to another, specifically, it takes place in the same “universe” as my novel The Beginner. Now it’s not a sequel — it doesn’t share any of the same characters or pick up the story. To use a currently-popular movie metaphor, you could watch Captain America without having seen Iron Man and still get a complete story. However, just like those movies, if you HAVE read both of the books, you’ll see links and ties and begin to see a bigger picture.

And yes… just like those movies, those links and ties may ultimately be pointing towards a larger story in the future.

So, as a bonus to help people who discover my world through Opening Night, from now until August 1, I’m slashing the price of the eBook The Beginner from my usual $2.99 novel price all the way down to a mere 99 cents! Now it’s easier than ever to be introduced to this new universe of mine.

And one last thing, friends… every little bit of exposure helps. Once you read these — or any of my books, please go to Amazon (or Smashwords or Barnes & Noble or wherever) and leave a review. Reviews really are a huge help in spreading the word about a little book like mine, and it helps raise the profile on the site as well.

Thanks, everyone, who’s been asking about this book and when it was going to come out, particularly my beta readers and my sister Heather, who designed that spiffy cover. It couldn’t have happened without you.


For one week only, get The Beginner FOR FREE!

So you’ve read Other People’s Heroes. Loved it. Devoured it. Built a little shrine to V3OL in your garage. Awesome. And I love you for it. But have you tried out any of my other work? The Beginner, for instance? The Beginner is a dark fantasy about a filmmaker who begins to notice people vanishing from the set of his latest film… and when those people vanish, the ones that remain forget they were ever there. It’s different from OPH, but it’s a book I’m proud of.

And for the next week, it’s FREE at

That’s right, folks. From now until May 1, use the promo code VF55N at checkout and you can download the book absolutely free in any eBook format of your choosing. Get it, give it a read, and, most importantly, tell people what you think.

That’s why I’m doing this, guys — I want to help spread awareness for The Beginner as I get closer to launching OPENING NIGHT OF THE DEAD, my next book, hopefully some time in May. Opening Night is set in the same universe as The Beginner, and I’d really like to get the word out.

So if you get the book for free, my little gift, I AM making one humble request. If you like it, please, review it. Drop a review at Smashwords, at, Barnes and Noble, the iPad store — or all of the above. Reviews are an enormous help when these online stores generate search results and sales lists, and every review you write for one of my projects helps all of them get seen by more people.

So please, check out The Beginner this week — totally free, from me to you. And if you’d be so kind, once you’re finished, tell people what you think.


Read the first chapter of THE BEGINNER for free!

Hey, everybody. As I’ve mentioned once or twice or twelve times, as of this week my thriller novel The Beginner is available for sale in Amazon’s Kindle Store for only $2.99, the Smashwords bookstore (also for $2.99), and in print via CreateSpace for a mere $13.99. But many of you may never have heard of this one before. Not to say that Other People’s Heroes is world-famous or anything, but The Beginner doesn’t quite have the same profile as that earlier project.

So for those of you who are undecided, today I’m going to share with you the full, unabridged first chapter of The Beginner, followed of course by handy links to where you can buy it, should you be so inclined. And if you’d be so good as to pass this page along to your friends, I’d be much obliged.


 Fade In

Curtis noticed the first disappearance on the third day of shooting. Although he and Tom Henshaw already had one movie together under their belts, Wild Take was the first time they did a film with actual studio backing. Everything was on the Climax Pictures dole, from the sets to the costumes to the food, so when different people were manning the catering table that morning, Curtis didn’t know whether to think it was unusual or not. In fact, Curtis may not have noticed the change at all except that, on the last day anyone ever saw her, Tom Henshaw made eyes at the redhead serving lunch.

She was attractive enough — the green eyes and splash of freckles across her cheeks and the bridge of her nose were exactly Tom’s type, but he didn’t even manage a “hello” before she vanished back into the catering van and left him holding a turkey sandwich and chips. Curtis plopped down next to him at one of the picnic tables set up for the cast and crew. A thin smile, the most Tom Henshaw ever seemed to allow, cracked his lips. Curtis returned it.

“Why are you so happy?” Curtis asked.

“You saw that food service babe? She digs me.”

“And what, pray tell, do you base this hypothesis on?”

“I could tell,” said Tom. “It was in her eyes. It’s always in the eyes.”

Curtis shrugged. “Well, you do know she can handle cold meats. That gives her leg up on the competition.”

“Wiseass. Just wait, she’ll be back.”

“I’m still waiting for the windfall of ‘she’ll be back’s you promised in high school.”

“You weren’t a big-name director in high school.”

“I’m not a big-name director now.

“Give it some time, Dupré. Once they see this movie every second-rate actress in Hollywood will be trying to get on your casting couch.”

“Funny, Henshaw. And always subtle.”

Tom nodded and sank his teeth into his turkey sandwich. A blob of brown mustard squirted from the other end and spattered his plate, and he casually dabbed the end of his bread into the stain. “The first batch of dailies looked pretty good, don’t you think?”

“Absolutely, they look great,” Curtis said. His eyes wrinkled as he said it.

“What’s wrong?”

“You do know that I have no idea what I’m doing, right?”

“I count on it. Gives the universe stability.” He dropped another gob of mustard and began rifling through the papers on the clipboard he’d taken to carrying. The paper still managed to get bunched, however, because he stuffed the entire thing in the gray backpack he’d carried around since ninth grade like a security blanket. “I’ve been getting phone calls from the Timberton Charger. They really seem to want an interview.”

“The Charger?” Curtis asked, biting into his own roast beef club. “We’re not even doing any filming in Timberton Parish.”

“I know,” Tom said, “But I think the editor is on some ‘local boy makes good’ kick.  they want to do it this week.”

“Fine,” Curtis sighed. “Do I have a random five minutes open tomorrow we can set aside for her?”

“Consider it done,” Tom said, scribbling. “Now about the call from Climax Pictures–”

Curtis raised a hand and cut him off. “Whoa — don’t look now, Henshaw, but your girl is back.”

Tom took a glance over his shoulder at the craft services table. “So she is,” he said. “And she’s talking to your girl.”

Curtis felt the blood collect in his cheeks. He couldn’t believe he missed that. He had followed Rachel Gleason’s career for years, long before he had one of his own to consider. When he got word that she not only saw his first movie, Cover Story, but listed it as one of her favorites in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, he somehow conjured up the vertebrae necessary to send her agent the script for his next film. He had written the lead with her in mind, but never even let himself entertain the notion she would agree to do it.

Rachel usually made the sort of crappy teen movies that ended at a senior prom. At 26, she still looked young enough for the casting directors to pass her off as a teenager, and so to combat that she was trying a slightly different, older look for Wild Take. Her raven hair was cut down from its usual length near her shoulders to about chin-length, and she had refused the concealer Diane Heinberg, the makeup girl, was trying to slather on her face.

“You’re going to look like an old maid,” Diane grumbled. Rachel merely raised an eyebrow at Curtis.

“Can we get a verdict, chief?” asked Gloria Whitty, the assistant producer assigned by Climax, who was too worn down from arguing about the haircut to put much heart into the makeup debate as well.

“I think she looks perfect,” he said. After a brief, pregnant pause, he added, “for the part.”

Now at lunch, Curtis looked over at her talking to the redhead from craft services and giggling. The redhead laughed with her and Curtis felt a minor green tinge at being left out of the joke.

“She’s not my girl,” he said. “She’s an actress. A consummate actress, I’ll have you know, and she’s here for a role.”

Tom chuckled. “Consummate? What was the name of that movie you saw her in?”

That could be any of half a dozen films, but Curtis knew which one Tom was talking about. “Dancing ‘Till Dawn.

“Right. Didn’t she actually play someone named Dawn?”


“And didn’t you say that any movie that names the main character after a cliché in the title was–”

“Stop saying things.”

“I still can’t figure out what it is about her that gets you hot, man. I mean, she’s doing a fine job around here, but…”

Curtis frowned. “Look, I’m not saying it was a good movie, I’m just saying she had some sort of… quality in it. It was like she knew it was a bad movie and she was trying to make it better. And if she can do the same to my crappy movie, we’ll come out ahead. My interest in her is purely professional. I’ve got enough to worry about without dropping some female into the picture.”

“Was that a bad pun?”

“Is there any other kind?” Curtis popped a corn chip into his mouth. “Your little redhead isn’t bad, though.”

Time Lapse

But the next day, the little redhead wasn’t there at all. When Curtis called for a lunch break his eyes went immediately to the craft services van, waiting to see if Tom would gravitate towards her and make one of his trademark moves. There was a train of people serving food — a black woman, a pasty guy with bronze streaks in his hair and goatee, and a graying woman  who reminded him a bit of his mother, but the redhead never made an appearance. Once he was satisfied that he saw everyone who was entering or exiting the van, he went up to the black woman and read her name tag.

“Excuse me, Vivian?”

She gave him a warm smile. “Yes, sir? Can I help you?”

“I won’t keep you long, I just wanted to ask if that redhead was coming back today.”

Her eyebrows furrowed. “I’m sorry, what redhead?”

“The one who was working here yesterday. I’m afraid I didn’t catch her name.”

She shrugged. “I’m sorry, sir, I don’t know who you’re talking about.”

“Were you here yesterday?”

“Yes sir, I’ve been here since the first day. I’m certain that nobody with red hair has done any work with craft services on this set.”

This time it was Curtis’s turn to raise his eyebrow. “But I’m sure… no, I’m sorry, I’m sure you’re right.”

He smiled and spooned a helping of potato salad onto his plate so it wouldn’t look like he was just there to harass the craft services personnel, and joined Henshaw at what was becoming their regular lunch table. “I’ve got some bad news for you, friend,” he said.

“Rachel rewatched your first movie and decided she wants out?”

“Jerk. No, it’s about your little redhead — it doesn’t look like she’s coming back.”

“What are you talking about, man?”

“The redhead.” Tom’s face stayed blank. “The one you were watching yesterday. They’re telling me nobody with her description ever even worked here.”

Tom shook his head. “I have no idea who you’re talking about, Curtis.”

Curtis had to force his mouth closed. “The redhead. Green eyes and freckles. We sat at this very table and watched her talk to Rachel. We had a whole conversation about her.”

“Are you sure the pressure isn’t starting to get to you?”

Curtis let out a breath. “Of course. That’s it.” There was a tinge of sarcasm in his voice.

Tom reached into his pocket and produced a pack of Camels. “Cigarette, man?”

“You know I don’t smoke.”

“Yeah, but if you’re ready to begin losing your mind, now would be the perfect time to start.” He flipped out his lighter and took a long, slow pull. “You’ve got an interview with the Charger in 20 minutes, by the way.”

“There you go, Henshaw, earn your keep.”

Cut To

Ellen St. Christopher was old enough to be a fixture with the Timberton Charger, but young enough to still raise Curtis’ eyebrow when she met him in front of his trailer that afternoon. Her skin was deeply tan and her eyebrows kept a slight almond shape that made Curtis suspect an exotic ancestry. Her hair was dark, pulled tightly against her head, except for the shoulder-length ponytail that frizzed out almost as soon as it left her scalp. If she were to straighten one of those curls, it would certainly reach her waist, if not halfway to her knees.

Her accent betrayed her as a native of Louisiana, though, if not of Timberton Parish itself. “Curtis Dupré, right?” she asked. “Nice to meet you — I really loved your first movie.” Although she tried to disguise it, her diction frequently drifted to the realm of elongated “U”s and dropped “R”s. Without the effort put forth to disguise it, it would have come out, “Luved yuh fehrst movie.” As it was, she managed to change enough so that only someone like Curtis, who fought the same accent himself, would have noticed.

“Nice to meet you too, Miss St. Christopher.”

“Ellen,” she said. “People who make movies that run four days a week on the Independent Film Channel get to call me by my first name.”

Curtis led her into his sparsely decorated trailer, where he had a short couch that he napped on when he needed it, telling Tom he was going in for a “conference.” They sat together and Ellen placed a miniature tape recorder on the coffee table.

“Do you mind?”

“No, not at all. Um… where would you like to start?”

“How about the basics?” she said. “Where you came from, how you got where you are…”

“Right. Well, I was born in Timberton Parish, in Cooper, to be precise — of course you already know that, and I graduated from South Timberton High seven years ago.”

“Uh,” Ellen said. “Stop making me feel old. Now you did go to college, right?”

“At Caufield University,” Curtis said, “Same as everyone else at STHS who didn’t get a scholarship to LSU or something.”

“What did you major in?”

“Computer Information Systems.”

“Sounds exciting.”

“Excruciatingly so. That’s probably why I dropped out after four semesters.”

“Okay, that’s five years back – but that leaves three years before you released Cover Story. What did you do in the meantime?”

Curtis laughed. “Bookstore coffee bar. I went from exciting to moon-launch levels of anticipation. I’m not trying to disappoint you, Ellen, but I’m afraid there isn’t that much exciting about me.”

“We’ll see.” Ellen tapped her pen on her notepad. “Okay, I saw your movie, there must be something worth telling in there.” She clicked the pen and the ballpoint extended from the tip. “Let’s find out what makes you tick.”

Time Lapse

Curtis never thought he was the sort to do an enormous amount of ticking, but somehow his conversation with Ellen St. Christopher went through fifteen minutes of questions, notes and personal revelations before she had what she needed. She gave him a warm smile and slipped him her card. “If you think of anything else you’d like in the article, just give me a call,” she said.

“Something else?” Curtis said. “I’m astonished that I conjured up as much as I did.”

Curtis was about to open the door to his trailer to let her out when a quick rapping came from the other side. Ellen raised an eyebrow. “Expecting someone?”

“It must be time for Rachel’s daily question,” Curtis said. “She’s quite the method actress.” He pulled the door open and smiled at Rachel Gleason, right arm raised and about to tap the door again.

“Oh, I’m sorry. Am I interrupting–”

“We’re done,” Ellen said. “But I’d like to ask you some questions later, if that’s all right.”

“Of course,” Rachel replied .

“Good. You guys may be out to make Curtis a big star in Hollywood, but if I have anything to say about it, he’ll be a star down here first.”

“Well, he deserves it,” Rachel said. She and Ellen switched positions, Rachel entering the trailer as Ellen left, and Curtis closed the door.

“Aw, that was sweet of you.”

“Nah, just honest of me,” she said. “Have I told you how much I like this script?”

“Frequently,” Curtis said. His lips curled into a smile. “So what can I do for you?”

“I had a question about today’s pages.”

“I rather suspected,” Curtis said. After the first read-through, Curtis announced to the cast that his door was always open if they had any questions about the script. Rachel had taken more liberal advantage of that offer than the rest of the cast. Every day Curtis had seen her since then, she arrived with questions in hand.

Rachel’s character, an angry young woman named Carla Gutierrez, was planning to simultaneously rob an armored bank car and break her boyfriend out of a police transport, then take off on a road trip to evade the police. It was the trip that was the bulk of the film, but since both the opening scenes and the climax took place in southern Louisiana, Curtis was filming all of those scenes first before doing a few location shoots in Texas (he wanted a Western feel for some of the middle segments) and finishing up the film in California. At first the questions seemed like the sort of thing Curtis expected from a professional actor trying to discover her character — “Why does Carla want to take Joey with her?” “When did they fall in love?” “How did she learn to tamper with the traffic signals to make the transport and the armored car to stop at the same intersection?”

Curtis managed to fast-talk something about her father having been an electrician with the Department of Public Works, so Carla watched him set up traffic lights all her life, but as soon as he’d answered that question she asked the first of many questions that started off surprising him but now were becoming unusually common.

“How could someone who was color-blind know what color the traffic light was?” she said.

Curtis was surprised at the question. “Carla isn’t color-blind,” he said, wondering what in the script he may have written to give her that impression.

“I know,” Rachel said, “I was just wondering.”

“Well… I guess color-blind people just have to remember that red is on the top and green is on the bottom.”

“What if they were dyslexic too?”

Curtis held in a chuckle at that one. “I don’t think dyslexia works quite that way,” he said.

“Are you sure?”

He opened his mouth to answer and realized that, in fact, he wasn’t sure. This was exactly the sort of thing he would be looking up on the Internet if he ever wrote a dyslexic character, trying to discover limitations and abilities and how best to use them in the story. In fact… now that he thought about it…

“Hey, Rachel? What if Carla was color-blind?”

“And dyslexic?”

“And dyslexic. I’ll bet that would make it hard for her to read a map, don’t you think?”

“Probably so,” she said.

“And I’ll bet the scene where Carla and Joey get lost would make a lot more sense if it was because she couldn’t read a map than because the sign got knocked down.”

Rachel thought about that for a minute. “But if she’s had this problem her whole life, wouldn’t she have learned not to trust herself to read a map?”

“What if she didn’t want to read it? What if Joey made her?”

“Why would he make someone with dyslexia read the map?”

“Oh, yeah.” Curtis was about to dismiss the whole thing when he felt something in the back of his head — an almost audible click that accompanied an idea that clarified everything. “But you’re a — I mean, Carla is a proud girl. She’s the sort of girl who wouldn’t tell someone she loved that she had that sort of problem…”

“Because it would make her look weak!” Rachel said.

“So she makes Joey read the map,” Curtis said. “But she harps on him because he doesn’t seem to know where he’s going either, he gets fed up with it and shoves the map in her hands–”

“And because she doesn’t want him to know she’s got a problem, she tries to fake it!” Rachel said, finishing almost to the word the thought Curtis began. “That’s great!

“I’ll rewrite that scene tonight, Rachel. Think you’re up to playing a colorblind girl?”

“I think I can handle it,” she said, and for the first time he saw that glitter in her eye, as though a lightning bolt just fired off in front of her retina, and he knew they had something good.

Curtis winked. “Wundabar,” he said, scribbling down as much of their tandem planning session as he could before it slipped his memory. “You keep this up, Rache, and I’m going to have to give you a co-writer credit.”

She giggled like an April rain. “All I’m doing is asking a bunch of questions.”

“Yes,” Curtis said, but you’re asking all the right questions.”

“I’m glad you think so,” she said. “Most directors I try to talk to this way treat me like some uneducated cheerleader.”

“I’d never think of you like that.”

“I know,” she said, “But I feel bad, the way I monopolize your time. Isn’t there anything I can do for you for a change?”

Curtis had to force back a shocked, braying laugh. “How is it possible for you to not know how much you’ve improved this project?”

“Have not,” she said. “Come on, there’s got to be something.”

Curtis was about to protest again when his eyes fell upon a stack of (antiquated, he would admit) compact discs he kept in his trailer to listen to when he was doing a rewrite. “Well, if you insist, there is one thing I’d like.”

“Name it,” she said.

In the back of his mind Curtis could hear Tom Henshaw pointing out the various opportunities such a dangerously open-ended offer afforded him, but he suppressed it. Instead, he rifled through the CDs until he found the jewel case he was looking for. It was, as he suspected, embarrassingly close to the top of the stack.

“If it doesn’t lower your estimation of me to ask something so outrageously fanboy-ish,” he said, “would you do me the honor of an autograph?”

As soon as Curtis put the CD in her hands, Rachel exploded with laughter. He was asking her to autograph the soundtrack album for Dancing ‘Till Dawn.

“I can’t believe you bought this!” she squealed.

“I can’t believe I’m showing it to you,” he said.

“You know that’s not really me singing, don’t you?”

“You sang backup on Run Away and Hide,” Curtis said. Her jaw dropped and her eyes unmistakably conveyed the question, “How on Earth did you know that?” Curtis chuckled. “I’m the sort of geek who watches the behind-the-scenes features on a DVD,” he said.

“You have the DVD?”

“Oh, just sign it.”

She opened the case and removed the insert so she could inscribe something. “You’re cute when you blush, you know,” she said.

Curtis felt himself turn an extra sixteen shades of red when she said that. His mind quivered to come up with a response when Tom, who had impeccable timing and had never learned to knock, stuck his head in the trailer.

“Hey folks,” he said, “You have no idea how sorry I am to interrupt this, but do you remember that movie we’ve been talking about? Some of the other people and I were under the impression we were going to try to make some of it today.”

Rachel handed Curtis the autographed CD. “Sorry, Tom. I guess we got carried away.”

“I’ll bet,” Tom said, following Rachel out of the trailer. Curtis moved to join them, but before he stepped out, he glanced down at the CD in his hands to see what was written there.

“To the most deserving director I know. Love, Rachel Gleason.”

Deleted Scene

“Just – just call me when you hear this, dammit.” Mark Rourke pocketed his cell phone, disgusted, and glanced back at the seafood restaurant he’d just been expelled from. Talking too loud… God, this was Los Angeles, not Bite-My-Ass, Louisiana or wherever the hell it was Rachel was filming this week. It had been two years since her agent, his aunt, introduced them, and to be honest he couldn’t figure out why he was still with the girl. It’s not like she was going to be Julia Roberts or anything, dating her wasn’t going to get him any headway in his career – especially as long as she insisted on staying with Aunt Shannon instead of letting him manage her himself. The way he saw it, he was doing her a favor – who else would want to be with her after watching some of her lousy movies?

The strip was characteristically busy for sunset, with the tourists and rubberneckers retreating to their respective hidey-holes and hotel rooms and the other half of LA, the Night People, beginning to come out. Mark preferred the Night People; they had fewer pretenses. They knew what they wanted, be it a John or a cheap trick or a line of coke, and they went for it. Mark prided himself on being able to pick their desires at a glance – it was a skill that came in particularly handy as a manager.

Tonight, though, there was someone new. Not that Mark was on a first-name basis with the Night People, but it was easy enough to tell who was the junkie, who was the dealer, who was the tourist that was out too late. This man, though, this Dark Man, didn’t fit into any category. He leaned against the corner of the restaurant that no longer desired Mark Rourke’s patronage, black coat, black pants and midnight hair. Mark tried to make out the Dark Man’s features, but it was like trying to stare at a double-exposed photograph, only multiplied a dozen times. Layers and layers until Mark could comprehend nothing but a pair of obsidian eyes, somehow actually glowing black.

The man’s face was pointed down, aimed at his laceless jet shoes, not even really pointing in Mark’s direction, but somehow he knew those damn eyes were boring directly into him.

Mark shivered. It was 87 friggin’ degrees outside, he was wearing a three-piece suit, and those eyes were all it took to spike him with a chill like he’d never felt before. It wouldn’t even be sufficient to say it felt like someone was stepping on his grave… somehow, it was far worse.

Shivering again, Mark pulled his suit coat tight across his shoulders and resumed moving. If he didn’t look at the Dark Man, then maybe the creepy bastard wouldn’t pay any attention to him. He glided past the corner of the restaurant like he’d done a hundred times before, not looking back, not sparing a thought for anyone else until the Dark Man slipped past the corners of his peripheral vision and he was stupid enough to think That’s it, I made it. And then the voice said his name and everything ended.

“Mark Rourke.”

His own name had never given him a start like that before. The voice grated like a pair of steel-toed boots on gravel, scrambling down an incline, not intending to stop.  He wanted to keep walking, to pretend he hadn’t heard the voice. He couldn’t.

“Forty-seven years old,” the voice said, and for a second Mark relaxed. He was nearly two decades younger than that, surely this man had mistaken him for someone else.

“You’re lifting weights in your garage,” the voice continued. “You just hired a new secretary. She’s young, sweet… and your wife is never around anymore. You’re up to pumping 150, planning to call her to come over, when the blood vessel bursts in your brain.”

Mark turned. Dammit, he turned. The man was fiddling with a black leather cord wound around his right wrist. It trailed back into his sleeve, connected to some weight Mark couldn’t see. And damned if that son of a bitch wasn’t looking right at him now.

And smiling.

“Are you talking to me?” Mark managed to squeal. The gravel voice answered.

“I’d like to have a word with you, Mr. Rourke.”

Dissolve To

It was well past midnight when Rachel made it back to her hotel room. The shoot had ended at 5 p.m., “before the sun gets too low and the mosquitoes get omnivorous,” Curtis said, but she wound up in his trailer again. They were there for six hours, Curtis typing the entire time, save for a pizza break at about eight o’clock. Sometimes she’d ask him a question, less frequently she would make a suggestion, mostly she just watched over his shoulder as the words flowed from his fingertips to the screen of his Dell.

The color-blind angle wound up working out even more spectacularly than either of them had suspected. Far from rewriting a couple of scenes, Curtis had to go back and make changes to nearly every segment of the film. She could already imagine Bradley Hemingford, who played Joey, complaining about having to learn something new. They would have probably worked all night if Tom hadn’t shown up asking if Curtis wanted to see the dailies before the American Film Institute tried to preserve the prints as part of a historical motion picture project.

So she got back to room 203 at the Boutte Comfort Inn – not nearly the level of luxury she was used to in Los Angeles, but nice enough on its own merits — and planned to relax until morning. After she took a particularly long, particularly hot bath, Rachel slipped into a hideous yellow T-shirt she’d had since she was 17 and refused to part with.  She took out her cell phone, intending to plug it in and allow it to charge overnight, and saw a blinking icon indicating a new voicemail. The phone had been turned off when she was in Curtis’s office, she didn’t even know she’d received a call. She tapped the screen to play it, catching a glimpse of herself in the mirror as she did so. Even wet, she thought, her hair did look better short. She might keep it this way for a while.

“Rachel, it’s Mark,” said the voice on the machine. “Christ, are you still shooting? How late is that no-talent pissant going to keep you every night?”

There were a couple of voices in the background and Rachel’s caller began shouting. “What? No, I’m not going to keep it down. I’ve got a – What? What? Fine, you squirmy little prick! You hear this, Rachel? They’re throwing me out of Stingray’s!” He sighed – an angry sigh, not a sad one – and spat out, “Just – just call me when you hear this, dammit!”

There was a beep and a computerized voice announced it was the end of her messages. Rachel frowned. She didn’t like the tone of her caller. He was rude, he was abrasive… and now that she thought about it, she didn’t even know anyone named Mark.

She shrugged. Maybe she’d ask Curtis if he had any idea what that was all about tomorrow. She turned off the bedside lamp, slid under the blanket and fell into a warm, dreamful sleep.


Well there you have it, my friends, the first chapter of The Beginner. What’s going on here? What happened to the craft services girl? Who’s the creepy little guy who approached Mark? And why doesn’t Rachel know who he is? All very good questions. You want the answers? They’re all in The Beginner, on sale now.

The Beginner will also soon be available for the Barnes & Noble Nook, the iPad, and in print from I’ll let you know as each new format becomes available.

And don’t forget, my other two books are available in multiple formats as well:


Where to Buy: The Beginner

The Beginner

My second novel, The Beginner, is once again available in multiple formats, both print and electronic!

Filmmaker Curtis Dupré seems to have everything he could want on the set of his second film: studio backing, a professional crew, and an actress he’s admired for years in the starring role. But people begin to vanish from the set, and from the memories of everybody except Curtis. A strange visitor is eliminating those close to the young director, and there’s no telling who is next. To save his friends, to save himself, Curtis Dupré will have to look into himself and discover what it truly means to be The Beginner.

And don’t forget, my other two books are available in multiple formats as well:


The Beginner: Now (mostly) available!

You can’t get it everywhere and in every format yet, friends, but for you early adopters my novel The Beginner is now available!

After spending many (many, many) hours this weekend tweaking and playing with formats and uploading and retweaking and reuploading and re-retweaking and re-reuploading, you can now purchase The Beginner in the Kindle Store for a mere $2.99!

“But Blake,” you say, “I don’t have a Kindle! I have an utterly different eReader of a different sort! The sort that reads books in EPUB, PDF, or other assorted formats? Is there anything for me?” Oh, indeed there is, my friend. You folks can cruise on over to right now and get the book for the same $2.99 as those Kindle readers!

Now there are a few more formats in which the book is not yet available. I’m waiting for the book to go through the “Meat Grinder” process which will make it available in the Barnes & Noble Nook store and the iPad bookstore, but in both cases, I anticipate the book will be ready in a couple of weeks. And if you’re holding out for the print edition, that’s coming soon too! As soon as the proof gets to me and I give it the thumbs-up, it’ll be available for $13.99.

So it’s all coming, folks.

Don’t forget, in the meantime, I’ve still got two other books available!

Other People’s Heroes  is available for Kindle, Nook, iPad, as an audiobook or in print!

A Long November is available for Kindle, Nook, iPad, and as an audiobook!

Make sure you get the entire Blake M. Petit library!



My project for this weekend will be getting the final version of The Beginner ready for you guys. The text is done, the cover is done. All that remains is to format and upload everything to the assorted websites I use to sell Other People’s Heroes: that means Kindle Direct Publishing (for you Amazon Kindle users), (for you folks who use all of the other eReaders) and CreateSpace (for anybody who likes an old-fashioned paper copy).

Like Other People’s Heroes, this will be an edited version, but this one won’t be as heavily edited as OPH was. No new scenes, very few changes to the copy. Mostly it’ll be a matter of copy editing and polishing. Like OPH, though, I’m planning to throw in a little bit of bonus content. In the case of The Beginner, I’m going to include one of my Christmas short stories, “Promise,” which longtime readers will know has a very direct connection to the events of this novel.

And, like OPH, it’ll all be for the low, low price of $2.99. Well… the eBook will, I’m not sure what the price point will be for the paper version yet. But I’ll keep you in the loop. Spread the word!


Weird Karma

  1. My sister, Heather, finally has time to finish the cover for The Beginner, and a spiffy job she does of it, too.
  2. A friend of mine contacts me out of the blue to ask if I’d be willing to arrange a podcast interview with the writer of an upcoming comic book that I’m actually quite excited about.
  3. Another friend of mine contacts me to offer to help set up something very cool for Other People’s Heroes.
  4. My iPod suddenly stops synching to my computer or drawing power. A quick glance confirms some of the little bendy things (I looked it up, this is the technical term) inside the port where I plug it in are inexplicably bent.
On the other hand, I suppose if I’ve got to get hit with a problem to balance out the goodness of the last few days, I should be pretty grateful it’s so relatively minor.

Coming Soon: The Beginner

I’ve been talking about it for a few months, friends, and very soon it’ll be available as an eBook and through CreateSpace, just like Other People’s Heroes. Allow me to share with you (courtesy of Heather Keller) the preliminary cover design for the second edition of my second novel, The Beginner. Not bad, eh?

So what’s The Beginner about, you may ask? Here’s the elevator pitch:

Filmmaker Curtis Dupré seems to have everything he could want on the set of his second film: studio backing, a professional crew, and an actress he’s admired for years in the starring role. But people begin to vanish from the set, and from the memories of everybody except Curtis. A strange visitor is eliminating those close to the young director, and there’s no telling who is next. To save his friends, to save himself, Curtis Dupré will have to look into himself and discover what it truly means to be The Beginner.

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