I was hoping for July 29 as the release date, as that is the anniversary of Vincent's death, but I am only on Chapter 9 in my light editing at this point. The work was edited by an agent years back, and myself. The agent was not successful in placing with a publisher, as you might guess by now.
Still, I find it entertaining after not having read it in three years. With good fortune, so too will the reader.
Mini excerpt from Chapter One:
He squeezed his eyes shut and sucked in air thick as soup, held it there while straining every muscle in his body. Only when his lungs threatened to burn through his ribs did he allow the air to gush forth. Purple and white dots blinked around him. He gasped and eventually caught his breath. Dots faded ... and were gone. Tension drained from his body. Limbs responded to his wishes once more. The obsidian bands vanished. The tangle of color became a wheat field with cypress trees and a blue haze and fiery sun once more.
A temporary fix. He should get out from beneath the overwhelming sky and punishing sun, run like hell to that thicket over there and huddle against a tree trunk until it passed. That would be the safe thing to do.
Color erupted from the canvas before him.
. . . but he had come so far on the painting. He could not abandon it now, not even temporarily. He would have to pay the price.
He gnawed the end of the paintbrush and eyed the half-empty bottle of tequila that lurked in the shadow of the easel. Another pull might just postpone the inevitable long enough to let him finish.
The air around him swelled.
Too soon after the last. He’d kept it away this long by painting. If he continued, he might be able to handle it. He simply needed to keep —
The air crackled and hummed, as if he were surrounded by live wires ready to fry him with the slightest contact.
As was often the case, the act of painting had warded off its initial advances. He was nearly finished with this, his second canvas of the day. His faded blue t-shirt, smeared here and there with paint, clung to his upper body. His cutoffs were similarly smeared and just as wet, though the denim held true to its own form despite the loose fit at his waist and thighs. Willpower trickled from him as if carried through his pores by his sweat. Concentration slipped. Limbs took longer to respond, as if the sun had thickened the air around him into an invisible quagmire.
Some would say this was no more than the heat taking its toll on a man foolish enough to spend hours out in it, foolish enough to believe a straw hat could protect him from heatstroke. But though formidable, Vincent knew the heat was not directly responsible; he’d painted many times in the heat with far less trouble. Nor was hunger the culprit; more often than not his stomach was empty when he painted. No, this was the work of an adversary so familiar it was intimate, and one that grew stronger with the death of each day.