As anyone who has read any of my last few entries here knows, I am a bit conflicted about my writing right now. A bit conflicted, now there’s an understatement worthy of the ages! At this moment, I don’t know whether I’ll ever write again, and last week I was sure I wouldn’t, but I’ll say a few more words about that at the end. Right now, I just want to have some fun.
We’ve heard a lot over the past weeks about budget battles, government shutdowns, and the trillions and trillions of dollars being thrown around like we’re talking about some kid’s allowance. Most people in the modern world have some idea of what a billion is (It’s 10% of an aircraft carrier), but a trillion . . . We might be talking about the distance to the center of the galaxy for all that means to the average citizen, so I decided to do a bit of research, and see what a trillion might be compared to. Buckle up, you’re going to love this!
If Jesus had sued the Romans for the way he was treated, and the courts of the day had awarded him a billion shekels (or whatever they used back then) to be paid at the rate of one million per day, it would have taken them two-and-a-half years to finish paying him. If he had been awarded a trillion shekels, to be paid at the rate of one million per day, they would paying him until the year 2739. Stunned yet?
Let’s say you won the SuperLotto or a settlement for $1,000,000, and it’s going to be handed to you in crisp new $1,000 bills, crisp and new so they lay close together with no air space making the stack fatter. How tall will that stack be? If you guessed 6½ inches, we have a winner! If you win a billion dollars, you’d better bring a full-size pickup, because that stack will come in at 550 feet, about the same as the Washington Monument. A trillion dollars? Ninety-five miles high. The Space Station will hit it when it comes over.
One more? All right. I particularly enjoy this one. Approximately one billion seconds ago, John F. Kennedy was having his famous presidential debates with Richard Nixon; one trillion seconds ago, man was discovering fire.
And now, the promised few words: Virtually all that I have completed of Stingaree is up and ready to read, twelve chapters of a prospective 24. Half of Chapter Thirteen is complete, and will be added probably tomorrow. That leaves me with half a book to write, and that will be done before I work on anything else. Stingaree has proven to be one of my more popular endeavors, and if I can’t finish that for the wonderful people who have expressed their appreciation of it, then I won’t leave them hanging while I move on to other things. Likewise, Chameleon is moving along. That is complete, as is Broken English, which is coming along behind it, and both will be added a scene at a time. I have other ideas tickling the back of my mind, but Stingaree first. Then I’ll see whether I have any gas left in the tank for future projects.
Meanwhile, one thing I’m not conflicted about is what constitutes an interesting read, so let’s get this week’s expedition on the road to those particular discoveries, shall we?
Interesting Books . . .
Things I’ve Learned from the Homeless by Glen Dunzweiler. Glen Dunzweiler is a filmmaker, producer, writer and public speaker. He started his work with homelessness in 2010 when making his documentary “yHomeless?” After years of seeing the public bang their heads up against the same homeless issues, he was driven to write this primer. Things I’ve Learned from the Homeless looks to explain the world that housed individuals are often frustrated by. The goal is to flip viewpoints on homelessness, to create new dialogues, and to inspire action. Glen Dunzweiler invites you to get into it with him, so we can all start to figure this out. Do the homeless anger you? Frustrate you? Scare you? Sadden you? Confuse you? Make you want to DO something? Read this book. 99c on Kindle.
The Shadow Files: A Limited Edition Collection of Supernatural Suspense Stories. Twenty-three novels by various authors. Follow the lives of your favorite paranormal entities as they battle what lurks within the shadows of their supernatural worlds. Dance with Lucifer, experience love from beyond the grave, solve a case . . . Grimm-style. Join the dark side with vampires, cursed bootleggers, a wicked succubus, a demon prince, and the Devil’s daughter herself. Partner with private eyes with psychic third eyes, mages who resurrect rebel angels, and witches as they hunt down denizens of the dark. Take a walk down a mysterious dark alley with a magician as you battle murderers, relic hunters, and Nazis. And follow voodoo priestesses as they spy on nefarious secret societies and discover the literal heart of a serial killer in hopes of defeating the deadly creatures lurking in the shadows. Tangle with vampires, discover relics and get ready for adventures more exciting than Tomb Raider or Indiana Jones! Follow mages and rebel angels as they battle the evil threatening to end magic . . . forever. All this and more can be found inside these exciting and mystical stories! 99¢ on Kindle.
Saving Grace by Hannah Howe. The Western Mail, 2 August 1876: Sensation in the Charles Petrie Case! “Readers may recall that a young banker, by name Mr Charles Petrie, with every opportunity of succeeding in his profession, and commanding a not illiberal income, returned home after riding his horse to dine with his wife, Grace, and her companion, Mrs Quinn. During and after dinner he had nothing to excite him save the receipt of a letter which somewhat annoyed him, and that his wife consumed rather more wine than he considered to be good for her health. Immediately after retiring to his room he was seized with symptoms of irritant poisoning, and despite every effort made on his behalf, he succumbed to its effects. An inquest was held, which vexed the minds of the Coroner’s jury to a degree without precedent in Coroners’ Inquest Law, and an open verdict was returned. However, the matter will not rest there, for after questions in Parliament, a second inquest has been called under suspicion that Mr Charles Petrie was murdered.” Who poisoned Charles Petrie? Dr James Collymore, a man familiar with poisons, a man harboring a dark secret that, if exposed, would ruin his career; Florrie, the maid who supplied Charles with his bedtime drink; Bert Kemp, a disgruntled groom, who used poisons in his work, who four months previously had predicted Charles’ dying day; Mrs Jennet Quinn, a lady’s companion with a deep knowledge of poisons, and a deep fear of dismissal; or Grace Petrie, Charles’ wife of four months, a woman with a scandalous past, a woman shunned by polite society. With crowds flocking to the courtroom and the shadow of suspicion falling upon Grace in the shape of the hangman’s noose, could dashing young advocate, Daniel Morgan, save her? 99c on Kindle.
Rogue Star by Jasper T. Scott. A dead star is headed for Earth . . . The shift in Earth’s orbit will unleash a new ice age . . . And this summer will be our last. Logan Willis’s life is falling apart: he lost his job and found out that his wife is cheating on him all in the same day. Thinking that his world has ended, Logan checks into a hotel and turns on the TV to see that he’s not far wrong—radio telescopes have detected mysterious signals coming from inside our solar system, and the source is moving toward us at over 500 miles per second. The media concludes that these signals must be of an alien origin. Still reeling from the news, Logan gets a phone call from his brother-in-law. Richard is talking crazy about the end of the world again, but this time he doesn’t sound so crazy. Meanwhile, Richard, who is an astronomer working with the James Webb Space Telescope, is at the White House briefing the president to announce what he and the government have known for almost a decade: aliens are not invading, a frozen ball of gas is. The so-called rogue star is predicted to make a near pass with Earth, disrupting our orbit and unleashing an ice age, the likes of which we haven’t seen for millions of years. Government insider, Billionaire Akron Massey, has received a steady flow of funding over the past decade for his company, Starcast, to put a colony on Mars. Over the same period he’s been using his personal fortune to create a colony closer to home where he plans to ride out the coming storm along with a thousand of the smartest people on the planet. Humanity will need seeds to plant in the ashes after the chaos clears. When the true nature of the threat becomes known, the nations of Earth prepare to fight over all the warmest parts of the planet. But as war fleets set sail and armies begin marching south, a stunning discovery is made that will change a lot more than just the weather. $2.99 on Kindle.
Mysteria by David Hayes and friends. Be prepared to be spooked, but also be prepared to expect the unexpected. These are written to come at you from an entirely unexpected direction. There is more than a touch of the Gothic and macabre about these stories. In fact they are steeped in it. They are flesh-crawlingly delicious, and a treat for devotees of the paranormal. This is a collection of short stories. They are long enough to grip the reader, but brief enough to be read in a tea break or on a train – but why not treat yourself to a good spook-fest, and read them in the comfort of your armchair as the rain patters against the windowpane, and the wind howls its mournful tune – well, you get the idea. Read it wherever you feel most comfortable (or uncomfortable!). Just for good measure, I have also included a handful of stories (and a poem) from other authors who are friends of mine. You will find these scattered throughout the book at random intervals. So if you see the story title, and then a name, this will be a story from one of my friends, so watch out for Bernie Morris, David Clarke, Ann Perry and Lesley Hanson. See you on the other side! $2.99 on Kindle.
Sinful Cinderella by Anita Valle. I’m not who they think I am, a docile girl who meekly obeys her stepmother and stepsisters. Some kind of sick angel who cheerfully bears their mistreatment. That’s what I WANT them to think. Because then they won’t suspect what I’m really up to. The ball, the prince – it’s all part of my plan to come out on top. Stepmother and her demented daughters will pay for every floor I have scoured, every sneer I have borne. They don’t know about the white magic, how I use it to enhance myself. They can’t see that my heart is black as midnight, rotten as a poisoned apple. They’re about to find out. 99¢ on Kindle.
The Stone Seekers by Jack Tyler. The Settlements clung precariously to a hostile shore where the very ground opposed them. The people, fleeing a vicious tyrant, had crossed an ocean to get here, and had nowhere else to go. They bore with them a parting gift from a powerful mage, the Wellstone, an artifact that could locate clean water among the vile poisons their new land offered. When it is stolen in a raid by creatures of the surrounding forest, there is no choice but to go in pursuit. But with who? The entire combined militia of all the towns haven’t the power to overcome the forest denizens, so a skilled tracker and a savage warrior are sent to achieve through stealth what cannot be accomplished by force. What possible chance could two people have? No dwarves, no elves, no sign of Tolkien’s vast shadow. 99¢ on Kindle.
Interesting Reads . . .
Richard Paolinelli, writing on his blog The Eclectic Scribe, begins this week’s offerings on a chilling note, as he discusses the aftermath and possible future course of events following the assault on Jeremy Hambly at last fortnight’s GenCon 2018. The background situation he describes is news to me, but it bears looking into.
I was followed over the weekend by an entity known as Inmate Blogger. I still have a great deal to learn about how they work, but they seem to be a clearing house for blogs written by inmates of our penal institutions. Their intro states,
This site is a collection of blogs written by inmates. It serves as a platform which allows them to share their individual stories, opinions, talents, and their inner thoughts. You can lock up a man, but you can’t lock up their mind. We support, understand, and believe that writing can be a great source of rehabilitation, growth, and healing.”
I’m fairly certain that convicted criminals aren’t given free access to computers, so this may be an earned privilege, I don’t know. I also don’t know whether you can expect replies when you offer comments, but these boys and girls don’t blog about their favorite little themed coffee shop or the latest hair trends for tweens. There is some heavy stuff here. Heavy and often amazing. If you’re up for some of the more advanced reading to be found on the web, a few samples from those I received this morning are Introducing Michael Sammons, Forever Young, and Father Figure. The grammar and spelling may not be up to the standard we published authors are accustomed to, but the power and feeling present in every sentence are often overwhelming; we could take lessons . . .
Richie Billing, another name that gets a lot of play on these pages, takes his readers deep with a study of the many sub-genres of fantasy. From High to Low, Epic to Grimdark, come see what all the buzz is about in what is arguably the widest-ranging field in all of fiction.
Charles Phipps, prolific independent author, blogging on his United Federation of Charles site, lays out his 15 Tips for Indie Authors, very much worth a read if you’re still a babe in the woods trying to make sense of the complete, unfettered freedom available to you as an indie. It’s a world with no rulebook, quite literally none, but there are some unwritten guidelines that it’s worthwhile to follow, and Charles touches on a lot of them here.
I’ve been contemplating writing some horror over the past couple of months, and in a timely coincidence, Ruthanna Emrys, blogging for NPR, writes about the modern function of the horror genre. This is a wonderful read, and is highly recommended whether you’re thinking about looking into it, or are already steeped in the lore.
And that’s 30 for today. Be here next Sunday, when I’ll have more brilliant reading for you, my own and that of others. See you then!