Dancing with the Dead

March 2nd, 2017 10 Comments


It used to be said that writing a book was some of the hardest work a person could do, but let me tell you, gentle reader, writing a book is a lazy day at the beach in comparison to getting the damned thing published, and getting said damned thing published is nothing, a trifle, a mere bagatelle, in comparison to marketing.

Marketing is an invention of the devil, an exercise in perpetual frustration, much like dining with the devil. (Remember the spoons and forks so long no one can get the food to their mouths?) After I finally found a publisher willing to take a chance on a novella (“No one publishes novellas these days,” I was told, “it simply isn’t worth it, financially.”) that is neither pure fiction nor pure non-fiction (“Where is the bookstore going to stock it? Which section? And what is it anyway? Is it a romance? An adventure? A memoir? What?”) I decided to get a jump start on marketing, a primer, if you will, from wiser and more experienced authors. I contacted every famous and successful writer I know and asked for their secrets, the tricks they used to make their books fly off the shelves and into readers’ homes. The answer from each one of them amounted to, “Damned if I know.”

So, like Butch Cassidy, if there are no rules, I might as well get started.

Most of the homeless you see are mad or drug-addicted or both, but there are a few whose worlds spun out of control through no fault of their own.

Dancing with the Dead is a non-fiction novella. Most of the primary characters in it were real people; most of the events actually occurred; most of what I’ve written about those people and those events is true. At least, some of it is.

Pamela came from a world of wealth, education, privilege, and unlimited opportunity. Tony came from a world of pre-civil rights poverty, discrimination, and manual labor, where options were circumscribed in ways that are hard to imagine today. Pamela’s world came apart in the junta of Argentina’s Dirty War. Tony’s world came apart in the jungles of the Viet Nam War.

Part I provides the backgrounds of these two very different people; told in alternating chapters we learn who they are, how and why they became the people they became. Part II follows Pamela from Argentina to Los Angeles, from wealth to destitution to that condition beyond destitution we call homelessness. Part III looks at them from an outsider’s point of view, the author’s point of view, as they were when our paths crossed during my Simon & Simon days.

In their individual ways both Pamela and Tony were beyond help in any traditional, societal understanding of that word, yet together they were able transcend mere survival. On the streets of Los Angeles, where any two desperate people might forge an alliance, Pamela and Tony were lucky enough to find each other and forge something more, something very human and very moving.

Dancing with the Dead can be ordered from Amazon


or any online source, or, I believe, through your local bookstore. If you like it, I would greatly appreciate it if you could post a review on Amazon.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Hello JP,

    so good news tonight…. a long-cherished wish has come true !!!
    It will become downloaded immediately!
    I’ve been looking forward to your new book so long and, yes, you kept me guessing about it’s content 😉
    I’m sorry not to have written any comments recently but tablets, gravity and tiles are a fatal combination as I found out. It took a while to have the spiderweb app removed by some service-man. Particularly if carnival puts a crimp in…
    I wholeheartedly wish you succes with your new novel. Many, many purchasers, a high revenue due to the actual effort 🙂

    Thanks, best wishes an a good success

    NW ( has just left the website and turned to amazon 🙂 🙂 🙂 )

  2. Anonymous says:

    Hey – it’s a bound book. How great !!!
    May it’ll take a little while until I receive it….


  3. Anonymous says:

    Yesterday was payday, so I think I can swing it. Can’t wait to read it.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Hello Mr. Parker,

    Congratulations on your new book! Very happy it’s an actual book. I just emailed my son to order it for me and bring it with him when he visits in April. He already got An Accidental Cowboy. I hope from now on you will always publish actual books. I don’t have Kindle. Thank you!

    I wish you great success with this new project!

    All the best,

  5. Anonymous says:

    Aujourd’hui, j’ai l’impression d’être une handicapée ou une attardée mentale. J’ai déjà acheté un de vos livres sur Amazon, mais je suis dans l’incapacité de le lire. Comme vous pouvez le constater, je ne sais que parler, lire et écrire le français. J’ai essayé de faire un effort avec le traducteur Google à côté de moi, mais je perds toutes les subtilités de l’écriture !!!!

    C’est promis, dans une autre vie, j’écouterai plus mon professeur d’anglais plutôt que de faire le pitre au fond de la classe avec mes amis 😉

    Je vous souhaite bonne chance pour ce livre et bonne continuation !!!


  6. Anonymous says:

    Nice! I like novellas. Don’t get me wrong, I also like chunky books like Shogun by James Clavell. But when I go up to my cabin for a weekend I like to take a couple books with shorter stories or novellas. I always keep a couple Nero Wolfe mysteries in my bag when going north, or some Sam Shepard shorts, and Poe, and Robert E Howard (his non-Conan fiction is pretty good!). I read a lot of pulp trash when at the cabin, what can I say. While at home I read text books, or that is what I have been doing around the house the past year. Been getting into Metaphysics for some reason. I guess after the elections I have been questioning reality and existence. Would have done the same had Hillary won, but with much more consumption of alcohol involved.

    Will for sure check out the new novella. I downloaded American Riff last year from Amazon and have yet to go put up a review… I know… I know… Reviews are so very important. I’ll try and knock it out soon. I liked it, it was a good story. It sucked me in right away. It could be made into a good mini-series or TV movie.

    Have you ever thought about writing some of your stories into screenplays?

    TD Bauer

  7. Anonymous says:

    I received my book yesterday, three days sooner than the prospective delivery date. Once I was able to start reading I couldn’t put it down. At times I truly felt as though Hemingway were alive again through your writing. This was such a fantastic book! Now I am going to amazon to leave a review.
    Nancy Darlene

  8. […] more about the story behind the book at the author’s blog, Barking Backward. Or visit him on […]

  9. Anonymous says:

    I can’t find “Dancing” on Goodreads to leave you a rating.

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