The wait is almost over!!!
Just in time for Tj's birthday (yes, that's today, so hop over to Facebook to wish him a happy one), we are SUPER EXCITED to exclusively reveal the cover of
The Art Of Breathing
BOATK Book 3
Tyson Thompson graduated high school at sixteen and left the town of Seafare, Oregon, bound for what he assumed would be bigger and better things. He soon found out the real world has teeth, and he returns to the coast with four years of failure, addiction, and a diagnosis of panic disorder trailing behind him. His brother, Bear, and his brother's husband, Otter, believe coming home is exactly what Tyson needs to find himself again. Surrounded by family in the Green Monstrosity, Tyson attempts to put the pieces of his broken life back together.
But shortly after he arrives home, Tyson comes face to face with inevitability in the form of his childhood friend and first love, Dominic Miller, who he hasn't seen since the day he left Seafare. As their paths cross, old wounds reopen, new secrets are revealed, and Tyson discovers there is more to his own story than he was told all those years ago.
In a sea of familiar faces, new friends, and the memories of a mother's devastating choice, Tyson will learn that in order to have any hope for a future, he must fight the ghosts of his past.
Cover Artist: Paul Richmond
Publication Date: June 16, 2014
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
My name is Tyson Thompson (formally Tyson McKenna, aka the Kid), and I’m here to recruit you.
When was the last time you had a hamburger? A piece of bacon? A succulent chicken breast from KFC (Kentucky Fried Corpses?) Last week? Yesterday?
Did it taste good? Did the juice just drip down your chin as you shoved that poor defenseless cutlet (who undoubtedly had once been something’s mother or father, son or daughter) down your throat? Did you groan in delight when you finished, licking your fingers to get one last taste of the flesh? Did you spend a few moments thinking fondly back on that meal, only to forget it seconds later and move on with your day? If you did remember the food, it was only later when it was passing through you like liquid magma as you sat on the toilet playing Candy Crush on your smartphone. It burned coming out, I’m sure, but at least you had the time to beat level 232. Right? Is that how it happened?
Have I got a story to tell you.
Imagine, if you will, a beautiful cow named Carl. Carl is a Red Angus, the hairs on his body a deep maroon that catch the early morning light, causing him to flash like fire. He grew up on a pretty farm in the mountains and dreams of one day being the head cow in charge of his herd. He’s recently met a lovely heifer named Jennifer who sparks his cowish fancy. It’s the swish of her tail that first catches his eye, the way she bends over and licks the salt block with her long, flat tongue that causes his five-pound heart to skip a couple of beats in his broad chest. He’s two years old and is in the prime of his life. He’s ready, you see, to enter bullhood, leaving the calf life behind. He’s decided that the very next day, he’ll makes his move and let Jennifer know how he feels by mounting her in front of the herd to display his cowness.
He’s nervous! He’s excited! He feels like could jump over the moon!
But then it all comes crashing down.
He’s awakened early the next morning when men come and herd him and his fellow cows up onto ramps that lead into trucks of dirty metal. He bellows for Jennifer, but she is nowhere to be found. His eyes are wide, and he flares his nose in fear. He tries to break away, but the push of his brethren is too strong, and he is forced into the back of the truck, his face in the ass of another cow he barely knows.
All of them call out as the rear door slides shut, casting them all into darkness. The men laugh. There’s a knock on the metal paneling. The truck rumbles to life, and they are on the move.
But not for long.
It seems like only seconds have passed when the truck stops and the rear door slides open again, the bright light flashing against Carl’s eyes, causing him to cry out again. He shouts for Jennifer frantically, but even if she’s there, he can’t hear her over the call of the others. It’s also unlikely that she could hear him. There is only confusion. Chaos. What is happening? Carl wonders. What is going on?
He’s forced into the light and is startled to find himself in a chute of sorts, a high metallic fence around him, a dull and rusty orange. There’s no grass here, no feed in front of him. There’s no field that smells like sunshine. There’s no Jennifer. This is not his home. This is hell.
His brothers and sisters around him begin to move down the chute. He has no choice but to follow them. It’s a tidal wave of flesh and bone, and he cannot fight against it.
He is pushed into a large room filled with men. One stands in front of him and cackles maniacally. The man grabs Carl by the head and pulls him along. He’s thrust forward into a metal device that closes around his head, holding him in place. He kicks up his back legs, wrenching his neck in the process. Paneling raises on either side of him, pressing against his sides, holding him up and in place.
There’s a crackling noise behind him, and he has time to call out again for his beloved before he’s electrocuted with three hundred volts to the back of his head. Carl’s eyes are still open, and he’s still breathing, but he can’t move. He can’t seem to get his legs to work. He tries to move his tail, but it is dead against his rear. Everything is hazy. He flicks his eyes from side to side, sure he can find a way to escape, sure that this is merely a dark moment in his life that he’ll look back upon one day when he is old and fat and think to himself, Why, that was an experience. That sure was a scary time.
Then comes another sound.
A mechanical sound.
A deep whirring that grates against his bones.
A circular machine lowers from above him to the right side of his head. A small tube extends from this machine and presses against his skull, above his eye. He tries in vain to move, but the electroshock has rendered his body useless. He closes his eyes and thinks of Jennifer.
They are frolicking in a field. Grass and hay extend as far as the eye can see. There’s sunshine! And salt licks! Jennifer stares at him adoringly, and doesn’t he feel the urge to mount her? Why, yes! He does! He is the king of this field and Jennifer is his queen, and all will be well, will be well, will be—
A burst of compressed air propels a stainless steel rod forward, striking a forceful blow against the side of his head, and the darkness that extends over Carl at that moment is all-consuming.
Later, Carl’s unconscious body is pulled from the machine and chains are tied to his lower legs. He’s lifted into the air and placed in line with the rest of his knocked-out compatriots, his bindings attached to a track above his head that moves them slowly yet another machine.
He’s still dreaming of Jennifer when a razor-sharp blade severs his carotid artery and jugular vein. His life’s blood drips form his body in a fragrant gush, and Carl’s big heart, his loving heart, his five-pound heart, struggles to keep up with the loss.
But even the heart of a future Cow King cannot beat forever.
Carl dies of exsanguination, never knowing the loving touch of the mate who would have been his everything.
Once he’s drained, his head is removed. His feet are removed. His hide is removed. His internal organs are removed to be inspected for parasites or signs of disease. His tongue is removed. His head is placed on a hook and sent further down the line. A man named Todd who works for the Food Safety and Inspection Service (and whose soul is clearly dead) inspects the head and carcass of our beloved Carl to make sure it passes what is obviously the subpar standards set forth by the USDA. Todd (the malevolent, evil man) signs off on Carl’s body (not even knowing that this bull, this majestic creature, had hopes and dreams; no, Todd is only thinking about how he needs to pick up toilet paper and Fancy Feast on his way home so his mangy cat Mr. Fluffy Good Times doesn’t go hungry and chew on his toes during the night).
Carl’s chopped-up carcass is put through interventions of steam, organic acids, and scalding water to reduce levels of bacteria. His pink and shiny corpse is then electrocuted again to improve the tenderness of the flesh.
At this point, as if it couldn’t get any worse, Carl gets frozen for forty-eight hours before he is hacked into prime cuts—first split in half, then quartered.
But that’s not enough. No, sir! Not by far.
What remains of the once noble Cow King is processed further to make sure all of his flesh is sucked from his body, a process with the ironic name of “advanced meat recovery.” We can’t leave any part of Carl behind, you can bet the farm on that!
His bones are sent to a rendering plant, and pieces of his body are sent to distribution centers all over the country. These centers then provide them to the retail market.
Then to you.
How was that hamburger?
Did you get it from McDonald’s?
Perhaps the grocery store, and then you grilled it at the neighborhood barbecue where you were forced to socialize with Jeffrey from next door, who got drunk yet again and made a move on your spouse. That bastard.
Regardless of where you got it, chances are you just ate Carl. Carl, a cow who only wanted to love his precious Jennifer and eat and poop and die at the old age of twenty-three.
Horrified yet? Outraged? You should be. This happens to nine billion animals every year in the United States. That’s more than there are people on this planet! Where is the righteous anger? Where is the unending fury? These plants and facilities are essentially our version of the Holocaust (Cowshwitz, if you will, and don’t give me that look, you know it’s true!) and we must fight back! We must rise up! The madness must stop!
So, think of that the next time you have your dark and monstrous cravings. Think about how you are taking part in a long line of murder. It has to stop. And it can stop with us.
So, rise up with me, brothers! Rise up and—
“You would think,” Bear says from the front passenger seat of the car, “that after living with him for almost twenty years, I’d be used to hearing these things by now. It’s sad to learn I’m not. You just had to wait until we already ate, didn’t you?”
I fight the urge to roll my eyes. “That’s what you get for stopping for fast food. Think of all the cancer you probably have now. Not to mention the back fat.”
“Back fat?” he all but howls.
“The worst kind,” I say gravely.
“There was nowhere else to go! And they had salads.”
“Covered with chicken,” I say indignantly. “Do I need to tell you the story of Jermaine the rooster and his love, Lupita? It’s positively riveting.”
“Twenty more miles,” Bear groans. “We’ve come three thousand miles, and I’m going to commit murder in the last twenty.”
“You already killed Carl. What’s another one?”
“Jermaine?” Otter asks from the driver’s seat. “Sounds delicious.”
“Do not egg him on,” Bear says. “You know what happens when he gets going. I told you getting fast food was a bad idea.”
“I’d rather listen to his cow murder love stories than hear you complaining about being hungry,” Otter says. “At least with him, I know he’s eventually going to stop talking at some point.”
About Tj Klune:
When TJ Klune was eight, he picked up a pen and paper and began to write his first story (which turned out to be his own sweeping epic version of the video game Super Metroid—he didn't think the game ended very well and wanted to offer his own take on it. He never heard back from the video game company, much to his chagrin). Now, two decades later, the cast of characters in his head have only gotten louder, wondering why he has to go to work as a claims examiner for an insurance company during the day when he could just stay home and write.
He recently went slightly insane and moved to the East Coast from the Sonoran Desert with his fiance and neurotic cat in tow. He dreams about one day standing at Stonehenge, just so he can say he did.
And while you're here, we'd like to alert you to Tj's and Eric Arvin's fundraiser page, where donations can be made to assist with Eric's medical bills and Tj's efforts to bring Eric home to him. More information here. Please consider a donation if you can.
Thanks for stopping by. We hope to see you again soon!