Good day, loyal readers. Today is Thanksgiving, a holiday begun in America and now shared by a number of mostly English-speaking countries, and there seems to be a tradition, a nice tradition, of columnists, reporters, on-air personalities, and yes, bloggers, waxing poetic about what they’re thankful for. This year I shall join that tradition, because a stranger has given me a gift beyond price.
Back in September, two months ago almost to the day, I saw an announcement on Facebook, and completely on a whim, I offered my Novella, Possession of Blood, to B.K. Bass of Kyanite Publishing, specifically the Kyanite Crypt, their horror imprint. Mr. Bass told me that Possession looked to be just the sort of thing they were looking for, but the whole staff would have to read and evaluate it, and given this was the busy time of year, he’d try to get back to me in a loose three-month time frame. The one thing they wanted was exclusive rights, so I took Possession down from this website; you’ll note that it is back.
And here’s the reason for that: Given the possibility of a multi-book deal (Possession was the first novella of a proposed series), I stopped working on anything else so as not to be mid-project were I to suddenly become a “real” author. So, aside from jotting down a few story notes about future works for the Possession series, I have done nothing writing-related for two months. No staggering out of bed in the morning, putting on the coffee, and spreading out storyboards, diagrams, character sheets, and note cards. No sitting by the window trying to dream up quirks to set my latest character apart. No doing anything remotely unenjoyable. My retirement now consists mainly of hanging with the fam, Xbox games, binge-watching TV shows and movie franchises, and reading, interspersed with the occasional bout of housework or garden maintenance.
Long-time readers will have seen me flirting with the idea of ceasing to write for a couple of years, but spreading out the material and trying to make it go had become a habit I couldn’t break. Plus I enjoyed the prestige, whatever that is, of saying, “I’m an author,” and hanging out in writing groups talking with other mostly pretend authors like myself. It was only the possibility of “real” authorship that made me stop for two months and see what I was doing to myself out of habit. So I thank you, B.K., and though I have done you a great disservice presenting myself as a horror writer, you have given me my life back by showing me that I really don’t want to spend the rest of my retirement with my nose to that particular grindstone. I owe you more than you can know.
So now, as a busy blogger with a decent following, I must speak of the future. My audience and my focus has been mostly writers, mostly early in the process I should think, and much of my content has gone to helping them avoid reinventing the wheel. As has been pointed out to me by a number of my readers, all that information is already out here, freely available, and no one needs me to provide it to them in this little blog, like I’m the only Great Prophet who can impart it. Ergo that, in the form of my Sunday “here’s how you do it” posts will be discontinued, effective immediately. It will be replaced in spirit, though not in content, by activity at my original blog, Jack’s Hideout, and I invite everyone who has enjoyed my ramblings here to click over, see what I’m doing there, and maybe bookmark, follow, or comment should it strike your fancy. I already have a major project in the works that has nothing to do with writing to inaugurate the Grand Reboot.
The book lists of the Thursday feature will continue, as I know from a lifetime of experience how difficult it is for an indie to gain any traction. I have had a great deal of fun and met a lot of wonderful people, and this is my way of paying it forward. I’m not going to recommend a big list of blogs after this week, though. When you arrive at the Hideout, you will find my bloglist in the right sidebar, and they are linked by their RSS feeds so that any time a blogger adds a new post, it moves to the top of the list in real time; check it as often as you like, as it can change minute-to-minute.
As to writing, I don’t see much of that in my future. I have republished Possession of Blood here, and anyone who likes a not-your-grandmother’s vampire story is encouraged to take a look. I have placed a story with an anthology that is looking at a release date in early 2019, so when that hits the shelves, I’ll be promoting here in loud and obnoxious fashion. I acknowledge the possibility that the itch may need to be scratched from time to time, and I may scratch it by dashing off a short story for an anthology here and there, but no more all-consuming projects that take over my life for months or years at a time. I will also begin in the near future to leave nearly all of the writing groups I have joined over my life as a writer, so if you enjoy my work and you’ve been getting your links from a third-party site, I recommend you bookmark what you want to return to, as all of those links will be fading away.
Meanwhile, enjoy the holidays; that’s really all that matters, how much enjoyment you can take from the journey. My heart goes out to all you real authors who humored me and let me play in the sandbox for a while. Thanks for everything; I had a blast!
Now let’s put this issue to bed.
~ Books ~
Obake Neko (Ghost Cat). 349-page novel by David Michael Gillespie. In the waning days of World War II, the Obake Neko is the last surviving Sen-Toku – a huge secret aircraft-carrier submarine created by the Imperial Japanese Navy. As the war comes to an end, the Obake Neko sets sail back to Japan with a cargo of unimaginable value. In the chaos of Japanese surrender, the clandestine vessel and its crew vanish in the seas of the South Pacific. Fifty-five years after the war’s end, former U.S. Navy pilot, Bud Brennan breaks into Pearl Harbor’s submarine museum in Hawaii. Bud’s son, Mike, is still raw from the death of his wife and grappling with a new career but still jumps in to help his dad. But when Bud’s antics garner the attention of the Navy’s JAG, Mike realizes his father may possess knowledge about the near-mythical Obake Neko and its fabled cargo – knowledge that is also of great value to the Japanese Yakuza. Now, Mike must scramble to learn the whole truth of his father’s decades-old connection with the legendary Japanese submarine and fight to defend his father from relentless military authorities and deadly Yakuza operatives. Even decades later, the Obake Neko and its legendary cargo are still worth killing over. Can Mike discover the truth and protect his dad before deadly assailants succeed in silencing Bud forever? $3.99 on Kindle.
The Rail Legacy. Steampunk trilogy by William J. Jackson. Though Mr. Jackson might take exception, I have long viewed this work (which I have read, by the way) as a sort of steampunked X-Men. There are people with powers who are persecuted by a frightened citizenry, corrupt officials who use some of these people to hunt others, strange occurrences at every turn, and riveting, well-written narratives that will keep you glued to the page. My problem is that William announces frequent, short-duration sales that always seem to begin and end between my promotional posts, so here’s what I’m going to do. Get on over to The Rail Baron’s Blog, follow it, or sign up for his newsletter, and when he announces his next sale, you’ll be first in line! Or you could just buy them; they aren’t that pricey. $3.98 for the whole series on Kindle.
Woman in Scarlet. 248-page novel by Karen L. Adams. An inspirational memoir of one woman’s 28-year journey from aspirations of becoming one of the first female officers within the fabled Royal Canadian Mounted Police, to overcoming the harsh realities of discrimination, injustice and personal violation. Karen Adams’ dream became possible the day the RCMP finally included women in what was then, an unashamed boy’s club. When Karen joined the very first group of female RCMP recruits at age 22, she never anticipated the indelible mark this would leave on the landscape of Canada’s iconic police force and the women who came after her. Fueled by equal measures of naiveté and a relentless pursuit of excellence to win the respect of her fellow officers, Karen found her passion in life despite a hostile work environment, both inside and outside the RCMP. Her story pulses with excitement as she recounts her initial forays into drug busts, surveillance and undercover missions–all the while suffering silently with PTSD after a physical assault perpetrated by a trusted member of the vaunted force she strived so hard to become part of. Told with exuberance, humor and astonishing honesty, Woman In Scarlet, is a thrilling police car ride-along, as well as a deeply personal and courageous view of one woman’s evolution from a fledgling cadet to a respected trailblazer for social and political change. Read Woman In Scarlet today for a remarkable journey filled with brutal obstacles, the heartbreaks of loss and the triumphs of achievement. 99¢ on Kindle.
Apollo’s Raven. 392-page novel by Linnea Tanner. A Celtic tale of forbidden love, mythological adventure, and political intrigue in Ancient Rome and Britannia. In 24 AD British kings hand-picked by Rome to rule are fighting each other for power. King Amren’s former queen, a powerful Druid, has cast a curse that Blood Wolf and the Raven will rise and destroy him. The king’s daughter, Catrin, learns to her dismay that she is the Raven and her banished half-brother is Blood Wolf. Trained as a warrior, Catrin must find a way to break the curse, but she is torn between her forbidden love for her father’s enemy, Marcellus, and loyalty to her people. She must summon the magic of the Ancient Druids to alter the dark prophecy that threatens the fates of everyone in her kingdom. $3.99 on Kindle.
Sugar Lane, Volume 1. 66-page novella by Harlow Hayes. The night of Christmas Eve changes everything for Rhema Clark, a 36-year-old housewife living on quiet Sugar Lane. One day she is hosting a birthday party for her 9-year-old son, Julian, the next she is watching her neighborhood become the backdrop for the perfect murder. To gain power, Rhema inserts herself into the lives of the residents of Sugar Lane. She knows they have secrets, but none of them run deeper than her own. On the outside she is a kind and caring neighbor, but on the inside, something sinister lurks beneath. The media storm surrounding this murder could destroy her secret life and expose her for what she is. But will her lust for power override her desire to keep her secrets? 99¢ on Kindle.
Daguerreotype. 63-page novella by Ray Zacek. Sifting through the squalor of his late brother’s estate, Garth Colby finds one thing of real value: an early nineteenth century Daguerreotype, remarkably preserved, depicting a street in Paris. This find represents an unexpected fortune which promises to make Garth and his wife Farah wealthy, however, neither Garth nor Farah are aware of this Daguerreotype’s sordid, and violent, history or of the uncanny power it asserts over its owners. 99¢ on Kindle.
Mind Candy. 177-page anthology edited by Patrick S. Baker. Mind Candy is a collection of speculative fiction around the theme of: What if the mind, memories, thoughts didn’t work they way we think they do? What if we had to share our thoughts? What if the land itself manipulated your thoughts? What do robots think? Twenty stories with settings from the world of insects to the vast reaches of space, by authors that are willing to take on these questions and many more. $5.99 on Kindle.
~ Blogs ~
My old Steampunk Empire and fellow refugee is long overdue for a major mention here, and I shall now rectify that oversight. Karen J. Carlisle is a multi-talented Australian author, costumer, songwriter, artist, video producer, speaker, and I’m sure I haven’t listed half of her talents. Among other accomplishments, she writes The Adventures of Viola Stewart, The Aunt Enid Mysteries, and the upcoming Department of Curiosities. A song she has written, The Gadgeteer, can be enjoyed on the album Left Foot Forward by the Littmus Steampunk Band. Her videos can be viewed on YouTube, and much of her art, photography, and costume work can be viewed on her blog, simply titled Karen J. Carlisle. The door is always open. . .
S.K. Anthony and Raymond Esposito have long shared a blog called Writers after Dark on which they wax profound about various aspects and issues of the writer’s art with insight, wit, and humor. They are a favorite stop of mine, despite the fact that Raymond believes that grammar is the work of Satan. Much like myself, they have worn out one blog provider and moved to another, and now they are adding a third partner to their empire, one Brandon Ax. I don’t know much about Brandon, other than the fact that he is an author as they are. The link provided leads to their introductory interview, and if you stop by to meet him, be sure to look through some of their other offerings; there’s a wealth of fine material for the writing craftsman on display. My only problem with their new site is that you have to have a Disqus account to comment, and I choose not to add yet another social media account to reply to one blog. Sorry, guys, I miss you. And, Raymond, that semicolon is my little gift to you!
New follower (last Friday) The A.D. Diary is another site with multiple contributors. This one delivers powerful free-form verse dealing with various aspects of relationships, pro and con. If that is your cup of tea, you need to nip over there for a read. Very much worth your while!
Christian Mahai performs an incredible amount of creative activity on line, the Irevuo blog being one of the high points. In the selected example, he looks at the relationship between consuming art and producing it. A real brain-tickler, and typical of his offerings.
November is Native American Heritage Month, and Abbie Lu has devoted a post on her Cafe Book Bean blog to books chronicling and celebrating the grand story of the Native American culture. There’s a lot of fine material there, posted for a fine purpose.
Eva Newermann seems to in the process of posting her novel, Fear is in the Air, on her blog. Chapter Five is up and ready, so if you’re looking for a bit of hidden terror, this is your read.
Steampunk and sci-fi author David Lee Summers takes to his web journal to look at Shogun and its influence on television and his writing. Always interesting takes from the pen (keyboard?) of this working astronomer.
Natalie Swift posts powerful prose, or is it free-form poetry, on The Midnight Ember. Whatever it is, she had certainly outdone herself with The Heart of a Crowd. Come and be challenged by a writer who gets to the heart of things, if you will.
One of the many things that San Diego boasts is being home to the Star of India, the oldest active sailing ship in existence. The key word is “active,” and to maintain that status, she has to get out to sea and, you know, sail at specific intervals. Whenever she puts out it’s a huge event, and last Saturday’s foray was no exception. Richard Schulte was on hand to capture the pageantry on his Cool San Diego Sights blog. Four other tall ships joined her, and it was a day to remember.
Regular readers have seen Alicia Butcher-Ehrhardt’s comments on almost every post. She also blogs herself about a wide range of topics. The latest is about her cross-country move, and the challenges involved in breaking the mold to make things better. Stop by and get acquainted; she’s quite a writer.
Once again I depart from my usual format to include a second entry for Richard Schulte, the photographer featured just above. Richard write these wonderful little slice-of-life ultra-short stories, and I always try to get him some exposure. This one is a bit of humorous fare called The Station Sparrow. Why not take a minute and put some joy in your morning?
I am long overdue to mention the work of Stephanie Kato, a young steampunk author who has just completed her first trilogy. Her page has many pages, usually dealing with her art, although today she is talking about Thanksgiving. Very much worth a read, though, for authors and steampunk fans alike.
Tara Sparling is one of my favorite bloggers, an Irish lass with a satirical stripe as wide as an American interstate highway. She is constantly “on” about various literary subjects, as in this week’s offering recounting why we need to stop justifying women’s literature. This is one of those classic discussions that you read and laugh at, then suddenly realize that it isn’t all that funny. . .
The Nerd Lunch crew returns in fine form as they undertake a drill-down of Star Trek V. They are, of course, exceedingly knowledgeable where any form of pop-culture is concerned, but the irreverent wit with which they approach their subjects is simply not to be missed by any trekkie or trekker worth his IDIC.
And that’s 30 for this week. Don’t forget to visit Jack’s Hideout, and I’ll be back next Thursday with another list of interesting reads. Don’t miss it if you can!