Life Better Lived Dead

Life Better Lived Dead, that’s the tagline of my second novel twisting in the grinder of the editing and revision process. I can’t recall how those words first emerged from the loamy earth, but I immediately liked the taste, smell and sound. That short phrase encapsulated the message of, ‘FLATLINE’.

It’s a crime novel, a fun little read, 90,000 words plus of bullets, blood, splattered brains, and big – make that – HUGE knives slipped from hidden sheaths between the shoulder blades of Goliath-sized cartel soldiers.

Can a book like that have a message to edify one’s soul?

All books and stories have a lesson, moral or message – for someone. I’m a believer. Every book I’ve read had something to say.

Stories, like primeval notes stuffed in bottles, are penned, corked and set adrift upon stormy seas just waiting to land on some foreign shore in the hands of its next reader. This happens by chance and providence alone. Or, how else would they find us? Or, we find them?

Every year for Christmas, Nichole, one of my five daughters, has given me a book. Not a one of those has failed to spark some big shift in my psyche. They arrived exactly on time. She had no idea what was swimming in my soul at the time, and we never discuss books since she is not a big reader. Even our tastes and styles run divergently to one another.

Asked how she picked them, she responded, “Oh, it just looked like something you would like.”

By the same process, ‘Life Better Lived Dead’ came to life. If I were to think on it much longer, I might wonder if it would stir some controversy, but then again, it may drive some people away. Perhaps it was not in the stars for them to read this book.

How do those words strike you? What do you think of me as an author for penning “Life Better Lived Dead?” Does it bring up thoughts of suicide or vampires, or a biblical verse you once read or heard?

Suicide:
Do I think suicide would be a better option than a living breathing above ground existence?
Not on most days, no. This story and that line are not a lead into a discussion on assisted suicide. I have strong thoughts on that, but would rather leave them where they’re at for right now.

Vampires and the Undead:
Am I a vampire or am I promoting the life of the undead as some better option than what most of us have here? Or, on the other side of the same coin, do I have something against the undead or a vampire’s lifestyle?
I’ve enjoyed reading vampire tales, but it doesn’t stir a belief in them. The original Dracula tale might come close, but is definitely more Christian than my story. Dracula was chock full of Christian truths in a metaphorical battle of good against evil.

Looking for the correct words to describe my experience with Dracula, I searched the internet and found Mike Duran’s tremendous blog and comments. His well-worded explanation for what I found during my read of the original Dracula was better than I could have come up with.

“For one, Christianity is portrayed in a positive light throughout Dracula. The protagonists pray, quote Scripture, seek God’s guidance, and ultimately prevail. If Count Dracula is meant to symbolize the devil, then it is clearly Stoker’s intent to show that the evil one is resisted through the power of God. And unlike much contemporary vampire fiction, Christianity is not minimized or mocked. Rather, our heroes display an unabashed reliance upon the God of Scripture and His Son, Jesus Christ.”

“Life Better Lived Dead,” should be better explained…

In my novel ‘Flatline,’ Troy Bittles is retired from decades as an enforcer for the world’s most notorious motorcycle gang. He sees his best years behind him. Life was once a constant flow of blood, bullets, and fists which never stopped flying. But those wild times have slowed to a nonexistent trickle. He and Sam, his Bulldog, go from one day to the next in a snails-paced progression towards the end…

All in one day, Troy moves from bemoaning his flatlined existence to tumbling headlong into a mad dash of crime and murder across two states and three countries. Troy is strong-armed into using his former skills in the killing arts to perform for a mystery organization. These deeds run counter to his newly formed set of values, but his only choice is kill or be killed. The only reason Troy finds to go through with it is one faint sliver of hope that he can redeem himself from an old dark regret that looms over his life.

He pours his life into that purpose rather than keep his life to himself. And, in that sense, his life is better lived dead.

“If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.” (Matthew 10:39 NLT)

When Jesus said this, there were no churches, so he meant more than church attendance and missions service. What he meant was, if you pour your life into his cause, you will find your life.

Jesus’ cause was people, not necessarily their comfort, but their life.
Our lives scream for a purpose, a cause to throw ourselves into, a cause outside of our own small world. When we chase that cause, it brings us life. Hence, our life is better lived dead.

You could read Flatline, ignore its message, and still enjoy it, but, why the hell would you waste your time like that?

I’m on my second pass of revisions. My next pass is to print it and read it aloud to the cat before turning it over to an editor.
Hopefully, it will be done by the end of 2015.

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