FAINT OF HEART, Archie/Gretchen book #7 sneak peek

So behind on this sucker, but not for lack of trying! Wanted to share the opening. I love these characters so much.  I'm sure this time nothing bad will happen to them. 



They are happy, and everything is fine.  

The house is on the west side, down one of the many winding sidewalk-less streets that knot through Portland’s west hills.  They have a yard. They have raised garden beds and a back deck and a covered woodpile.  They have a plum tree. They are ten minutes from downtown, but they still have deer in the yard most mornings, and once, a coyote.  They have lived in the house for ten months, but they have not finished unpacking.  

There are boxes in the storage room that Archie plans to never unpack.

He avoids the storage room altogether.

Susan’s mouth tastes like chardonnay and peanut butter.  “You’ve been snacking,” Archie says after he kisses her.

“You cook too slow,” Susan says.

He is making a meal from a subscription box.  The instructions always say it should take less than 30 minutes.  But it always takes him longer.  He takes his time.  He is wearing slippers..  His gun is in a safe in the hall closet. 

He touches Susan’s freckled face.  Her hair is a natural color for the first time since he’s known her - a mix of brown and light brown, though she has fancier words for it.  She wears it parted to the side so that a sheet of it falls over her ear, covering the scar  where her ear had to be surgically reattached, after a psychopath had severed it.    Archie threads the curtain of hair behind her ear, revealing the delicate surgical scar, a faint pink feather of flesh.  

Archie’s scars are much worse.

“You’re beautiful,” he tells her.

She blushes. The doorbell rings.  

They both turn and look at the door. They aren’t expecting anyone. Susan has painted the door aqua, like the bathroom door at a Mexican cantina.  Archie doesn’t know why.  There are things he’ll never understand about Susan; and things Susan will never understand about him.  They accept each other. 

Archie wipes his hands on a dish towel and walks to the security system monitor mounted just inside the door. The screen shows a hulking man with shaved head, a mustache, and a gun.

“It’s Henry,” Archie calls to Susan.

He unlocks the four deadbolts.  Each one has a different sound.  Click.  Clack.  Thunk.  Smack.  He’s aware of the fact that Susan has stopped moving.  She is still standing in the kitchen, watching him.  

Archie tries to come up with an explanations for this unexpected visit--Maybe he has invited Henry to dinner and then forgotten?  Maybe Henry has forgotten something at the house and decided to swing by and pick it up?  ---But a darker explanation is already forming in his mind.

Archie opens the door.

Henry’s eyes are bloodshot, his face grim.  “Are the kids here?” he asks..

This is not a good sign. 

“They’re at Debbie’s,” Archie says. 

Henry nods and scratches his chin. Then he wipes his cowboy boots on the mat and comes inside.  

Archie hears Susan pour herself another glass of wine.  It is a big glass, by the sound of it. Susan is the kind of wine drinker who drinks from Mason jars, a half-bottle of chardonnay at a time. 

“We need to talk,” Henry tells Archie.  No smile.  No eye contact.  

A sense of dread prickles at Archie’s stomach.  “I have a phone,” Archie says.  “For talking.”

“We all need to talk, in person,” Henry said.  He lifted his chin at Susan.  “Susan,” he called. 

Archie can feel her getting closer.  The smell of her chardonnay.  He’s  left mushrooms simmering in olive oil in a skillet.  Sizzle.  Pop.  Susan takes his hand in hers and seals herself to his side.  

Henry still isn’t making eye contact.  His black cowboy boots look freshly shined.  They barely make a sound as he paces.

Archie and Susan have a new couch.  Susan bought it from a website.  It’s emerald green, long enough to nap on.  Now they sit on it,  side by side.  Ginger noses out from under the coffee table and hops up onto the couch and lays her head across Archie’s knee.   Henry paces. 

The back doors are open, and Archie can hear song birds.  A couple of house finches have built a nest in the corner of the downspout.  Archie knows it’s not good for the house, but he doesn’t  have the heart to take it down.

He likes to listen to them sometimes, singing to each other.  

The male finch is red breasted.  The female is plain and gray.  

Henry exhales slowly and threads his hands behind his head. “I need to tell you something. And I’m not sure how you’re going to take it.”

“My… family?” Archie asks.

Henry shakes his head quickly.  “No, no.  Debbie and the kids are fine.” 

What then?

Archie tries to focus on the birds, on the sound they make, on the light coming through the window, on the weight of Ginger’s head on his leg, on the feel of Susan’s hand in his, the sweat of her palm.  

The mushrooms are burning.  They can all smell the smoke.  No one moves.

Susan‘s grip on Archie’s hand is a hard squeeze.  “What is it?” she asks Henry.  Archie is impressed by her voice, her ability to make herself sound unafraid.  “What’s happened?”  

That’s when Archie knows.  He can see it on Henry’s face.  Right there. It’s in his tense eyebrows and the twitch of mouth.   The tug of conflicting emotions.  So much concern,  apprehension, and underneath it, something else - a glint of joy in his eyes.   

It’s the joy.  That’s what gives it away. 

Archie lets go of Susan’s hand. 

“She’s dead,” Archie says.  “Isn’t she?”


We had an amazing trip to San Diego (ie, SDCC).  SDCC = COMIC CON.  (Comic con = THE BIGGEST, BRIGHTEST POP CULTURE CON IN THE US of A.) This is my third trip to SDCC.  The first was 12 years ago.  Eliza  was 2 yrs old then, and we drove down from PDX and stopped by my aunt's house in Bolinas, and Eliza was attacked by mosquitos and was covered with bites at SDCC, so looked like she had chicken pox.  Everyone gave us A LOT of elbow room. #ProTip

Seriously, this was such a terrific weekend.  Thank you, thank you, thank you. So grateful to the hundreds of volunteers who make SDCC run, and to our incredible creative team, expecially our cohort of 14-yr-old girls -- Eliza Fantastic Mohan, Stella Greenvosss, Emily Powell.  Not to be all MOM-ISH, but I am so proud of all of you. 



OFFICIAL ANNOUNCEMENT.  I will be at San Diego Comic Con (7/18-7/21), with MAN-EATERS varsity creative team members Lia Miternique, Rachelle Rosenberg, Eliza Fantastic Mohan, Stella Greenvoss, and Emily Powell.  Check out our panel on Friday (7/19) called "ARE GIRLS TURNING INTO KILLER CATS?" and join us for banter and autographs in the "official autograph area."  (Yeah.  I don't know what it means either.)  We'll be the ones wearing cat ears! And the other 10 thousand people at SDCC wearing cat ears?  They're our professional body doubles.  #Security.


Kill the bird

Twitter promotes extremism and it dehumanizes people.   

After I deleted my account, I went to a baseball game.  A recreational league.  I don’t care about baseball.  It was hot and the bleachers were hard.  But it was really nice to spend a few hours with two thousand strangers in a park.

Also, there were fried pickles.  


MAN-EATERS vol 1 named one of Amazon's Best Books of 2019 (so far)

MAN-EATERS vol 1 (collecting issues 1-4) was just named One of the Best Books of the Year ("so far") by Amazon.  That's pretty neat, right?!  

We are really grateful. 

You can buy MAN-EATERS vol 1 and MAN-EATERS vol 2 (collecting issues 5-8) at your local comic book store and/or independent bookshop.

To review, because it's complicated: Single issues come out every month and are available at comic book stores.  (So as I write this, comic book stores have up to issue #9.) Issues are then collected and published as volumes, and it is only at this point that the comic book is available in book stores (in addition to comic book stores).  It is a very silly and self-defeating distribution model.  But it is what we have.  

MAN-EATERS vol 3 (collecting issues 9-12) will be published in Sept or Oct (I think?). 

Here endeth the lesson. 



Incoming, Houston

Here's an interesting fact about me: I will be in Houston, Texas, this week, attending Comicpalooza with my MAN-EATERS co-creator, Lia Miternique. We will be handing out free tampons, should you need one. Also, we will have the very LAST of our limited GOLD editions of Vol 1. That's right. They are SOLID GOLD...So a pretty good investment. 

MAN-EATERS nominated for an EISNER AWARD

My comic book, MAN-EATERS, has been nominated for an Eisner Award for "Best New Series."  It's a pretty big deal.  Like, seriously.  Single issues are available in comic book stores (issue 8 came out this week!).  Volumes -- which collect 4 issues at a time -- are available at comic book stores AND book stores. Congratulations to our amazing creative team: Lia Miternique, Elise McCall, Joe Caramanga, Rachelle Rosenberg, Kate Niemczyk, Eliza Mohan, Stella Greenvoss, Emily Powell, Ava Hood, Kyle Scanlon, and our partners at Image Comics. Most of all, thank you.  Thank YOU.  

Why am I so busy?

I'm actually no more busy than normal.  I just remembered I had this website, and thought I should probably update it... 

Now, obviously, I am ON IT. 

Also, I am finding you very attractive - not YOU, you - THE WEBSITE - because I can post stuff here, and no one can comment.  

No offense.

It's just...nice.  

My name is Chelsea.  I feel like maybe we've met?

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