The Edge of the Map – No. 2

Greetings, friends and followers, and welcome back to the home of edgy fiction.  Before I get into this week’s books, I want to drop a quick update here:  My new project, working title Roswell Avenue, has surprised me in a most pleasant way.  The outline is growing and becoming richer with detail by leaps and bounds.  I haven’t had a project draw me in with this level of engagement and enthusiasm in over a year, maybe several years.  I don’t know, well, yes I do know how this will affect Stingaree.  It will slow it down, as Roswell vies for its share of the limited hours in a day, but I will not abandon Stingaree.  There are too many people who like it, and I have far too much invested in it to toss it aside, but at this point I’m thinking about dividing calendar weeks between the two.  There’s still quite a bit of sorting out to do there, so for now I’ll return to the blog.  I have quite a bag of goodies for your consideration today, so without further ado, let’s journey past the edge of the map and see what the true innovators are doing this week . . .

~~~

USAEliminated

USA: Eliminated by William D. Nash.  Jack Slater has chased UFOs his entire life – and now, he’s found one!  It’s real, it’s abandoned in an alien hangar – and it’s in perfect condition.  As the director of a governmental agency that studies aerial phenomena (OSAP), he knows he’s just discovered the find of a lifetime . . . and he wastes no time learning to fly it.  But as Jack and his OSAP colleagues explore the saucer’s secrets, the world watches as a deadly meteor plummets to earth, leaving a devastating path of destruction in its wake – including two important space stations.  Too late, it becomes apparent the meteor is a missile, apparently fired by the Russian Federation.  Detonating, it releases a terrible bio weapon, seemingly beyond the capabilities of Russia’s current weapons technology.  The alien technology Jack has discovered is the only hope of survival for the United States.  But that technology has appeared at a suspiciously convenient time, in Jack’s opinion.  What are they dealing with?  Is humanity truly at war with itself or is an alien external force playing a deadly game determined to see the USA eliminated?  $3.99 on Kindle.

WhiteWomanBlackHeart

White Woman, Black Heart by Barbara Miller.  Barbara often found herself saying, “the stork dropped me at the wrong house” only to find she was repeating her mother’s words.  In this riveting memoir exploring race relations and social change, Aboriginal elder Burnum Burnum, told her, “you may be white but you have a black heart, as you understand my people and feel our heart.”  He suggested to International Development Action that she take on the Mapoon project and played matchmaker by introducing her to Aboriginal teacher and Australian civil rights movement leader Mick Miller.  The Mapoon Aborigines were forcibly moved off their land by the Queensland government in NE Australia in 1963 to make way for mining.  With an effective team behind her, Barbara helped them move back in 1974 to much government opposition which saw her under house arrest with Marjorie Wymarra.  It also saw Jerry Hudson and Barbara taken to court.  In helping the Mapoon people return to their homeland, she found her home as part of an Aboriginal family, firstly Mick’s and later Norman’s as she remarried many years later, now being with her soulmate Norman about 30 years.  It is a must read for those interested in ethnic studies and political science as an isolated outback community whose houses, school, health clinic, store and church were burnt to the ground rose from the ashes and rebuilt despite all the odds.  It is a testimony to the Mapoon people’s strength.  $3.99 on Kindle.

AuntEnid

Aunt Enid: Protector Extraordinaire by Karen J. Carlisle.  Daemons, fairies, magic; it’s all real!  The Otherworld is bleeding through cracks into our world.  And Adelaide is ground zero.  Something is coming.  Something dark – trading souls for passage.  And only one person stands between The Dark and the fate of the world.  Aunt Enid is just your average seventy-something year old.  She loves to cook, is a regular at bingo and spends hours in her garden, talking to her army of garden gnomes and fussing over the colour of her hydrangeas.  When people start disappearing, her great niece, Sally, is drawn into a secret world and soon discovers her great aunt is a Protector Extraordinaire.  Aunt Enid: Protector Extraordinaire is the first book in The Aunt Enid Mysteries, the first series in The Otherworlds Chronicles$2.99 on Kindle.

fear-is-in-the-air

Fear is in the Air by Eva Newermann.  Kinky, charming, flight attendant and serial killer falls in love with an astrophysicist and they discover they both carry alien DNA.  Takes you on a wickedly funny ride around the world.  The book is colourfully illustrated with paintings by the author.  $1.99 on Kindle.

MatterOfTemperance

A Matter of Temperance by Ichabod Temperance.  “Hello, is anyone there?  This is Ichabod Temperance, transmitting from the year 1875.  Do you read me?  Oh my Goodness!  We’ve got trouble, y’all!  Ever since that strange comet passed our world, not only have there been more than just an overwhelming amount of steam and spring inventions popping up all over Earth, but there also have been uncanny monster sightings as well.  Well, almost sightings, as these inter-dimensional, over-legged, eyeball-clustered beasties are nearly invisible to the human eye.  That is where my own enhanced inventiveness has gotten me into misadventure as I alone have created a device that allows me to see the hippo-sized craw-daddies.  Maybe Fate had a hand in my goggle development, for it led to my meeting the most beautiful girl in the world.  Now it’s up to me and Miss Plumtartt to save our planet from being gobbled up gone!”  The first in an ongoing series of delightfully quirky adventures, A Matter of Temperance is sure to appeal to those who like their fiction as far from center as it gets.  99¢ on Kindle.

EscapeOspreyCove

Escape to Osprey Cove by Luisa Marietta Gold.  What Doug finds in the secret compartment of his new red Corvette will forever change his life.  It will also change Catherine’s. Doug and Catherine come from two different worlds.  Catherine’s world is one of privilege and wealth.  Doug grew up dirt poor and full of envy of others who had the things that he wanted but could not have.  His goal was to one day have all the things he coveted.  Their worlds collide when Catherine, VP of a large New York City marketing firm, hires Doug.  As soon as Doug learns of Catherine’s wealth, he sees Catherine as his ticket to all the things he covets.  After a whirlwind courtship, they are married.  Poor boy meets rich girl should have resulted in “happily ever after,” but not exactly.  Doug quickly learns he also covets independence.  Events begin to unfold in each of their lives.  For Doug, it is his mysterious discovery in the secret compartment of the Corvette.  For Catherine, it is a business meeting with Alex Droxell at the Osprey Cove Lodge.  When Catherine enters the beautiful and serene lodge, it’s as though she is entering another place and time.  The lodge is an escape from the nightmare she is living back home.  Follow the twists and turns of Book 1 of the Osprey Cove Lodge Series.  Follow Doug and Catherine’s story to see if there is a “happily ever after” and with whom.  Free on Kindle [reg. $2.99].

ScionsOfAzazyel

War in Heaven by R.K. Wheeler.  The oldest of the archangels was Satanel who became Satan after he was cast out of heaven.  Satan was followed by his twin brother, Sandalphon who was known among men as Odin.  Another set of twins, Raziel who was known as Zeus and Jophiel who was named by mortals Poseidon, followed.  Odin, Zeus and Poseidon came to earth to battle Satan, where they were worshiped as gods of the old world.  Next were born Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, and Uriel, “The Faithful.”  Finally, Zadkiel, Camael, Sachiel and Azazyel, “The Unvaliant” were born.  These last four archangels remained neutral in the War in Heaven.  As they refused to take up arms to fight Satan and his followers, they and their legions were later cast out, but not into Hell.  The Scions of Azazyel saga begins with War in Heaven.  $2.99 on Kindle.

PostApocalypticSociety

The Post-Apocalyptic Society by Stephanie Kato.  The Nelson family and their allies are still marching forward in a dystopian environment.  Danger is just a normal part of their world.  Along the way, the Nelsons will encounter a mad scientist and his bizarre creations, ruthless desert bandits, and genetically engineered humans who might put the entire Steampunk culture in grave peril.  Fortunately, the Nelsons still maintain hope and perseverance.  How long can they survive in a nation that’s falling apart? $3.99 on Kindle.

ConnorsGambit

Connor’s Gambit by Z. Gottlieb.  Brad Johnson, a lone witness to a UFO sighting becomes an alien target and quickly finds himself on an off-world adventure, relying on his skills to survive an intergalactic war.  As Brad struggles to understand the conflict between the aliens, as well as his place in the universe, he learns one group threatens Earth’s security and the other wants something entirely different.  All Brad wants is to return home to his family, but not until he embarks on the greatest adventure of his life.  99¢ on Kindle.

And that’s the roundup for this week.  Join me Sunday for a look at a couple of live-action shows, and how I think they’ve impacted my writing.  Read well, and write better!

Deja Vu

In a very real sense, people who have read good literature have lived more than people who cannot or will not read.  It is not true that we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish.”

~ S.I. Hayakawa

I have a real treat in store for you loyal readers today.  I’m going to give you some of that unusual type of information that we’ve all garnered where you think you know something, but you actually only know part of it.  This was the case for me as I researched this article, but in addition to that, I’m going to give you a bit of insight into my personal life.

In 1965 I joined the navy, and having successfully completed recruit training, was designated for the rating of Radioman, the contemporary term for the navy’s communication specialists, and sent to sea for several months of “seasoning” before the next term of communications school started.  I was sent to a minesweeper on the east coast, based out of Charleston, SC, which seemed incalculably wasteful, as all of my other service was performed on the west coast, or out in the Pacific, but <sarcasm>I’m sure they knew what they were doing.</sarcasm>  Serving on that wooden ship, and experiencing the traditions of wooden ships throughout time, from holystoning the deck to preserving the luster of the wood with coconut oil, has informed my writing tremendously, as a number of my reviewers have remarked.  Being in Charleston, in many ways the birthplace of the Confederacy, gave me another experience that figures less into my writing, or perhaps I should say, more subtly.  Maybe you’ve experienced the same thing.  I refer, of course, to deja vu, that odd sense of having been somewhere before that you know very well that you haven’t.

First a bit of backstory.  In grade school, I was a poor history student.  Like most, I think, I was stellar at the aspects that interested me, mostly the modern wars, but when it came to the Industrial Revolution, the Great Depression, or Andrew Jackson and the Spoils System, that was when I tuned out.  That was the time for me to doodle in my notebook, and memorize the list of dates so I could squeak by with a D on the tests.

So, arriving in Charleston, the adventure began, the first bit of business being that Base Admin had misplaced my ship.  It was eventually located, I reported aboard, and began the arduous project of learning-while-doing as regards becoming a sailor.  Once I got my feet under me, I began to explore my surroundings, which basically consisted of the magnificent old city of Charleston, SC.

Charleston Battery Panorama

The dun-colored strip running through the left side of the picture is the seawall at South Battery, now a promenade and park, where residents gathered to watch the bombardment of Fort Sumter.  The hulking fort still looms in the harbor entrance like a linebacker on a goal line stand, fittingly preserved as a National Monument, its light now guiding ships in and out of the harbor.  One day, off duty and with no particular plans, I decided to take the boat out for a tour; might as well see where the Civil War started as long as I’m here, right?

Well, I suppose you can imagine my surprise when I walked up the little dock and into the fort, and recognized virtually everything as if I’d been there just a year or so before!  I didn’t need a tour guide to paint a picture of the 34-hour bombardment from Forts Moultrie and Johnson and various temporary batteries set up on the mainland.  I knew that Captain Abner Doubleday, the alleged inventor of baseball and second in command of the fort, declined to use his best guns, mounted on the upper parapet, in the defense because it would have exposed his men to the exploding shells the Confederates were using.  I knew that the garrison mustered under the ongoing bombardment at 6:00 AM, breakfasted at 7:00 still under fire, then went to their batteries to open a return fire.  I knew about the relief force, held at bay by heavy seas until Major Anderson couldn’t sustain the defense any longer and surrendered the fort.  I even knew that the only casualties suffered by the garrison occurred when Anderson was firing a salute to the flag as allowed by the Confederates, and a gun exploded, killing one man and wounding another.  I knew all of this before the tour guide opened his mouth.

For many years, I believed in my heart of hearts that I served in that garrison in a former life (something I couldn’t reconcile, as my family is Confederate to the core), and that the memories in my immortal soul were triggered by the surroundings.  But is that really what happened?  Or did the surroundings trigger subconscious memories of lessons in those history classes, absently heard and barely remembered, only to be brought to life by standing in the very spot it happened?

I have come to believe the latter in the fullness of my years, but it’s quite a notion to think you may have lived past lives, forgotten on the whole, but remembered in bits and snatches as that soul-of-many-lifetimes encounters triggers from the past.  This could be a hell of a story point (literally!) for writers of supernatural or paranormal thrillers; when will a flood of old memories come tumbling out of your characters’ subconscious, and will they assist or impede the needs that character has in the story?  Inspired yet?  Good.  I can’t wait to read your story!

Other Voices . . .

C.W, Hawes, another of those names that gets seen a lot around here (and with good reason!) began a blog series Tuesday on Good Books You Never Heard Of.  He believes, as I do, that the innovative work in today’s literature flows from the pens of independent writers who dance to the tune of no editor or publishing house, but write their stories as they wish others to experience them, pure, clean, and untampered-with by third parties.  If you’re a serious reader, visit the blog, bookmark it, and come back often.

My friends at Nerd Lunch, after a decade or more of blogging about popular culture, have finally realized that they have collected enough material over the years to support a university.  And so they present, and I am honored to pass along, the founding post of Nerd Lunch University, a college of culture of the Pop variety.  Spend an hour with these guys, and you’ll never view life around you in the same way again.

Sara, blogging on Writers Helping Writers, outlines her practice of writing out of sequence, “connecting the dots,” as fantasy author V.E. Schwab calls it.  Under this method, you take advantage of your mood by writing the scenes that are speaking most powerfully to you at the moment, capturing your intensity and emotions at their strongest peaks and locking them on the page.  Like all systems, it has its pros and cons, and Sara discusses them all in detail.  I think I’ll try this for the last half of Stingaree, and see if that sparks anything.

Another podcast I enjoy very much is Hellbent for Letterbox, which appears irregularly on Michael May’s Adventure Blog.  In the latest installment, Michael and his sidekick Paxton Holley dive into an in-depth discussion of 1970’s A Man Called Sledge, starring James Garner and a cast of western movie notables.  They also look into 2018’s Damsel, and the first couple of issues of the graphic novel series Bouncer.  This is another podcast, so at some point when you want to fill an enjoyable hour, crank it up!

I-Alpha

Sai Sharma, who I met in one of my FaceBook groups, is an LA-based graphic artist of exceptional skill who can produce posters, pamphlets, illustrations, and of particular importance to this crowd, book covers.  We haven’t discussed prices and other salient details, but you can view a wide sampling of his incredible work and contact him to discuss details through his web page, Lucent Zon.  Very much worth a visit!

Kyanite Publishing offers Remnants, a shared post-apocalyptic world of unspeakable horror, and invites authors to submit stories for their planned anthology.  Click the link provided if you have an interest in participating.

Remnants-Banner

And inspired by that, I’m going to offer a shared world of my own, one in the realm of sci-fi with a supernatural flavor.  If that sounds appealing to you, read the story Possession of Blood by clicking the link.  It’s a novella of about 20,000 words, so allow yourself an hour.  The world is laid out in the story, which is as long as it is in order to establish the universe.  Once you have a handle on it, write a story of your own about an operation from the city of Nexus to investigate and oppose some supernatural activity somewhere in the world.  You can use Bailey and Nagoya, or create your own team.  Be inventive.  Create a mystery, then think outside the box to solve it.  Once you’ve written your story, submit it to me as an Office file, or if you don’t have office, e-mail it.  I’ll put it into format and add it to a new tab to be called The Nexus Chronicles.  The only pay I can offer is exposure and my gratitude, but if you’re looking for a venue to tell a weird story, this could be for you.  Contact me if you have questions.

Firewater Site is a newly discovered popular culture site that I haven’t had time, or maybe I should say haven’t made time to dig into yet, but the posts are frequent, every one or two days, and the operator, Firewater 65, is currently in the midst of a detailed look at every episode of the original Star Trek.  There are also articles on comic books, and book reviews; most likely a number of other things as well.  If you’ve enjoyed Nerd Lunch as I have, this is a must-see!

Aidana WillowRaven (actual name) is a graphic artist of no small ability who I have worked with in the past; she created the logo that graces my books, my calling card, and the top of this blog.  She also creates illustrations, maps, and of course covers.  The decision to use art, for what purpose, which artist, and what price to pay are individual matters for each author to consider.  What I offer you here is a link to her blog on which, not surprisingly, she discusses her business, what it offers, and why you need it.  Deep, thorough, well-reasoned information for any aspiring author to know.

Another area of great importance to a writer is editing.  It can be costly; the agent who looked at my first novel told me that it needed some work (duh!), but because of the “underlying quality” of the book, she could justify charging me just $3,500.00.  That’s the day I began to teach myself the art and science of editing, at least for spelling, typos, grammar, and plot continuity.  The fact is, though, that you cannot edit your own prose.  We believe that the words we have written cannot be improved upon, because if they could, we would have written them in their improved form in the first place.  Whether you choose an editor or a group of trusted alpha-readers, you need extra eyes on your manuscript, and an editor is presumed to be knowledgeable.  They don’t all charge the price of a used car, either.  Lynda Dietz, a professional editor who’s a pretty cheap date by comparison, talks about her trade and experiences, some quite humorous, on her Easy Reader blog.  Lot’s of good reading there, and it’s all well-edited to boot!

Eva Newermann is a painter.  She is the author of the sci-fi thriller Fear is in the Air, the story of Ewa Lowe, a flight attendant who is considerably more than she seems.  She and her daughter Line both fly photographic drones over the Norwegian countryside, and those pictures as well as her art and writing feature prominently on her blog.  Check in for a most excellent ride.

Religion and politics are two subjects I stay away from in these pages, as everyone already believes what they believe, and the most common result of trying to discuss them is anger.  Politics I’ll have no truck with, but the purpose of religion is to uplift and fulfill, and when it hasn’t been hijacked to serve a personal agenda, it can be beautiful.  A prime example is The Godly Chic Diaries, the blog of Junaisha, a 21-year old law student who has found her way early.  Pay her a visit before you go, and join her 13,000+ followers in recapturing your serenity.

And that’s it for this Sunday.  I’m working on a boffo, uptown collection of books to add to your reading lists, so check in with me this Thursday to see what I’ve rounded up!

The Edge of the Map

This post inaugurates a new feature of Riding the Blimp, a weekly roundup of interesting books I’ve encountered in my travels.  These books will be titles that I’ve found interesting, some because I’ve read them, some that I plan to read, and some I may never read, but because the blurbs are intriguing, I want to pass them along to my own audience.  The title comes from a statement I’ve made many times, and which I’ll try to paraphrase in some coherent fashion here:

The big publishers are called “the big publishers,” because they are on an obsessive quest to recreate the Last Big Thing.  It’s the independents, the self-published writers beholden to no editor, who are out there beyond the edge of the map, exploring the uncharted reaches that the big houses will be claiming they discovered ten years from now.”

Yes, indies are risky.  They can be an unedited mess, but you can use features like Amazon’s “Look Inside” preview to determine whether the author is crisp and coherent, or has no business writing a grocery list.  Be a smart consumer, and lose your fear of indies, because they are out there writing the challenging material that a serious reader craves.  My goal is to help you find some good reading, but first an update.

In last Sunday’s post, Ladies’ Man, I mentioned a blog post from another site that I had found interesting, perhaps interesting enough to jump start my stalled writing “career,” but that the owner of the intellectual property had not answered my inquiry about using it as a launching pad for a new book series.  Well, Tuesday night his reply came in, and it was a resounding “feel free!”  So now it can be told . . .

The original post appeared on the Nerd Lunch blog on October 2nd, 2010, and so impressed me that I remember it eight years later.  The challenge between the three famous Nerds of the blog was to each propose two ideas for new shows for the SyFy Channel which would be voted on by the readers and a winner crowned.  Jeeg, perhaps the most . . . eccentric of the Nerds . . . yeah, that’s the word . . . proposed Roswell Avenue, a show following the adventures of Rick Borden, a private investigator who finds a gig with a Seattle agency that investigates “unusual” cases, such as a werewolf who thinks his wife is cheating on him – with the vampire down the street.  With a whole cast of eccentric supporting characters, this supernatural/horror/comedy series could be just the thing to make it new and exciting again.  With the creator’s kind permission, we shall find out together.  First, though, Chameleon, then Broken English, then Stingaree;  I have to ensure that my word is worth something, after all!

And now, for all that Good Reading I’ve been promising . . .

~~~~~

DeceptionsLies

Deceptions and Lies by P.E. Sibley.  One terrorist, six hostages, a single bombing… nothing out of the ordinary for task force operatives Alexandra Lansing and Mark Praed.  With one exception; this request comes from the High Council on Kyree.  An appeal from Kyree for task force help is peculiar enough for a planet where non-violence is practiced by all its citizens, but the Council is very specific in their choice of task force personnel:  Mark Praed.  Praed is baffled by the request.  This is the same planet where his birth to a well born Kyreen female caused a galactic scandal, forcing his human father to flee Kyree with his half-human infant.  The operatives travel to Kyree and meet with the High Council’s leader, Dame Ruthanon.  Her orders are clear: the hostages are to be released and the terrorist captured, all without the use of violence.  Alex and Praed are soon caught up in something more devious than the straight-forward capture of a terrorist.  Nothing is as it appears, and what should have been a simple operation turns into a tangled mess of falsehoods, secret associations and hidden agendas.  $2.99 on Kindle.

Puzzled

Puzzled by P.J. Nichols.  Peter, an exceptionally clever junior high school kid, is pulled into an adventure where he and a few friends have to solve a series of very challenging riddles and puzzles.  Peter’s mind, which has an amazing talent for problem-solving, is needed to save the world.  This adventure sure is a big change from what Peter typically deals with in life:  He gets called geek and nerd by everyone in the cool group.  He tries to hide his love for learning, in a hope to stick out a little less.  He fantasizes about a girl who is out of his league.  Peter and his friends must solve every confusing riddle and challenging puzzle they face.  If they can’t, a powerful supernatural being will cause immense destruction and devastation.  For 9 thru teens.  99¢ on Kindle.

SecretsSynergy

Secrets at Synergy by Jodi Ashland.  A company she didn’t want.  A romance he didn’t plan for.  An embezzler who’s willing to cover his tracks with blood.  Jade is a college senior without a care in the world.  At least, until her grandmother wills her the family business.  After a financial audit reveals an embezzler in the company, her new resentful coworkers refuse to help.  The only person she can trust is Bryce, her COO and long-time crush.  But when the paper trail leads to a string of suspicious deaths, their hunt for fraud turns into something much more dangerous.  When half the company was passed over for the COO promotion, Bryce knew there’d be a target on his back.  So he wasn’t about to give them any fuel to sabotage his career, especially violating the work policy that expressly forbids office relationships.  But when Jade and Bryce start working overtime to save the company, Bryce longs to mix business with pleasure.  After the embezzler takes a personal shot at Jade, he’s torn between his desire to protect the woman he loves and the job he can’t live without.  To save the company from the deadly conspiracy bleeding it dry, Jade and Bryce must bring down the embezzler before they too are in the red.  Secrets at Synergy is the first book in the compelling U-District romantic suspense series.  If you like corporate intrigue, eccentric heroines, and blazing chemistry, then you’ll love Jodi Ashland’s high-powered romantic mystery thriller.  Free on Kindle (reg. $4.99).

LosersInSpace

Losers in Space by Scott Pixello.  Training astronauts requires a nation’s brightest and best.  But what happens when the world has no brightest or best?  Just a washed-up pilot, a young computer programmer and a garbage collector?  It’s not exactly rocket science.  This is science-fiction but not as we know it.  £2.69 on Kindle.

GrailGrimoire

Grail of the Grimoire by J.S. Sterling.  In the 12th century, sixteen-year-old Cassandra is likely to be burned at the stake if anyone finds out what she can do.  So the only magic she allows herself is used to hustle dice games from unsavory characters too cowardly to fight in the Third Crusade.  When she is kidnapped and brought to the Vatican’s secret library, the Grimoire, Cassandra finds that her place in the world is as the next leader of the Pope’s coven of sorceresses – to be held captive among the books forever.  Her only way out is to retrieve the Holy Grail from Jerusalem before it can be used by Richard the Lionheart or Saladin to create a magical army that could conquer the world.  Along with her brainy young tutor and a mysterious Muslim fighter, Cassandra will find much more in the Holy Land than just a cup.  Perhaps too much.  $2.99 on Kindle.

And that’s the roundup for this week.  Join me Sunday for an exploration of the strange phenomenon known as deja vu, both its use as a character device, and a discussion of how it has affected me personally and the conclusions I have drawn about it.  Until then, read well, and write better!