Delusions on a Grand Scale

Never be bullied into silence, never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life, define yourself.”

~ ROBERT FROST

Excellent advice from an American icon, but what happens when it’s carried too far?  Is that even possible?  Oh yes, dear reader, it surely is!  This post first appeared on my Jack’s Hideout blog on November 11th, 2011.  I had more fun writing it than possibly any other post I’ve ever put together, and as my regularly scheduled blog date falls on November 11th this year, I am indulging myself by dusting it off and reposting it here.  My apologies to my long-time readers who have seen it before, but I have gathered a lot of new readers since then, and simply can’t resist.  So, without further ado, I present for your enjoyment 11-11-11.

Happy Veterans Day, by the way, and thank you all for your service!

11-11-11

What is it about dates like this that bring them out of the woodwork like some kind of biblical plague?  You know who I’m talking about.  The conspiracy theorists…  The UFO enthusiasts…  The out-of-body travelers…  Ghost hunters…  Moonwalk deniers…  Remote viewers…  Abductees…  Spirit Mediums…  Interpreters of the Mayan calendar…  Well, I could keep this up all morning.  You’ve heard ’em.  Maybe you’ve even had the tragic misfortune to rub up against one in your personal life.  If so, and if you’ve challenged his or her story about how a friendly bigfoot saved his friend’s life by performing emergency heart surgery with a sharp stick while he lay dying in the back country, then you’ve doubtless been accused of being a brainwashed tool of the Government Disinformation Office whose mission is to prevent those among us who are truly enlightened from bringing their higher awareness to a disenfranchised public at large; ah, for the simple life of an idiot!

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George Noory

I was at work last night, and into this morning.  As it was the night before a holiday, my main function was to serve as a weight to keep a desk from floating away.  Not feeling my jazz station, I decided to check in on the Lunatic Fringe and see what they’ve been up to since I last visited, so I tuned in Coast to Coast AM with George Noory.  Hoo, boy!  Now, I don’t recommend a steady diet of this stuff, but everyone should turn this on about once every three months just to remind themselves of how many of these wingnuts are running around loose out here unmedicated, voting, driving motor vehicles, and in some cases, reproducing.  You don’t need the bogey man to scare you; that alone ought to do it.

I used to listen to Coast to Coast a lot back in the 90s when I was trying to write fantasy.  I considered it my best source of WTF ideas that, being sane, were way farther out there than I could ever come up with on my own.  Once I accepted the reality that I was not going to be the next Steven King, I moved away from it, as I was worried that if I spent enough time wallowing in this stuff, my own brain cells might begin to rearrange themselves to mimic what they were hearing.

The Coast to Coast of my days with it was hosted by Art Bell, and came out of Parump, Nevada.  No subject was too far afield, and he brought in a range of guests who spoke on a myriad of topics, but who all had one thing in common; no news or science show would get close enough to touch them with a laser-pointer.  I read somewhere, in reference to this show, that it is dangerous to give deranged people a soapbox.   I don’t know.  On the one hand, I don’t believe in censorship in any form.  On the other, I think that in order to live in an uncensored world, it is your responsibility to have enough intelligence to sort trash from treasure.  In other words, as long as you understand that when tonight’s guest is going on about his trip to Venus aboard the Benelarvian starship Graximandr, he is either A, trying to entertain you, or B, stark raving mad, then everything’s good.  Sadly, unless all the callers are plants employed by the show, this is not the case.

An example will suffice.  The show has several phone lines:  East of the Rockies, West of the Rockies, International, First Time Callers, you get the idea.  At least a couple of times, Art Bell used to make an announcement very close to this:

“It is said that the Antichrist has been born, and is even now living among us.  If that is true, and if you happen to be listening, Antichrist, we’d like to hear from you.  What do you like to watch on TV?  What’s your favorite dessert?  What are your plans for humanity?  If you are the one true Antichrist, call the Antichrist Line at 123-4567 now.  This line is reserved for you.”

For the rest of the show, he never hung up that line.  Somebody would call up and rant for five minutes about how he loved the basic evil of society, it made it so easy to mold people to his needs, and here’s what he’s got planned for us after the rapture.  That guy runs down and hangs up, and Art instantly presses the button again.  Next caller introduces himself by screaming, “That guy’s not the Antichrist, I’m the Antichrist!  How dare you put that impostor on my private line?!”  I always had the feeling that Art was rolling on the floor laughing while this was going on, but sadly, those callers weren’t.

The show, under George Noory’s stewardship, has taken a most insidious tack.  It now starts with an hour or so of “hard” news right from the headlines.  Then, when the rest of the show devolves into guests and callers with Frequent Flyer Miles on the Mothership, it seems like a continuation of the news to those who lack the sophistication to make the distinction.  In other words, while Art was an entertainer, I don’t get the impression that George entirely disbelieves all this stuff.

So, last night, he has on a series of guests who told this wonderful story about having taken part in the government’s beyond-top-secret Project Pegasus, in which young children were put into an elevator in El Segundo, California, and teleported to the surface of Mars, where they cavorted freely without any form of environmental suits or similar protection.  I should throw in a disclaimer here:  Being a member of the great underprivileged masses who were brainwashed as children by good science teachers, and were encouraged to develop that part of the brain that can discern a nugget of truth among a field of fertilizer, there is no way I could follow these enlightened geniuses sufficiently to explain the details of their incredible experiences.  Nonetheless, I think I can hit the high points.

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Andrew D. Basiago

The lead guest was Andrew D. Basiago, an attorney, holder of several degrees from UCLA and Cambridge (who must be bursting with pride at their alumnus’ accomplishments), and part-time time traveler on the government’s secret dime.  Seems back in the 60s and 70s, while I was involved in mundane things like fighting in the Vietnam War, he was gallivanting around the Solar System with the likes of Barack Obama (who went by the name of Barry something, Sandaris, I think he said).  His training officer was Major (then Captain) Ed Dames, himself a frequent guest on Coast to Coast, and more on him shortly.  Since this top secret project had not only perfected teleportation, but time travel as well, they already knew that Barry would be president some day.  The scorcher is that they also told Basiago that he is going to be president as well.  He will be running in 2016.  Don’t waste your time voting against him.  They’ve been to the future; it’s already happened.  For a thorough examination of this future president, check this out.  I think it’s all the information you’ll need.

Appearing with him were shills fellow project members Brett Stillings and Laura Eisenhower, a descendant (she says) of the famous and beloved General and President; poor man must have done a backflip in his grave.  To Ms. Eisenhower’s credit, she didn’t claim to have participated.  Her contribution was to elaborate on how hard she had to resist the agents of the program who wanted her famous name to be involved.  Why a beyond-top-secret program would want a high-profile name involved in the first place is something I can’t begin to fathom, but like I said earlier, I don’t claim to be half smart enough to follow these guys.

nosferatu
My Favorite Martian?

Anyway, they needed children to do the actual teleportations because adults were too big for the equipment.  So, Mr. Basiago arrives on Mars in environmental gear, where he is scoffed at by the shirt-sleeved scientists who awaited him (Wait, how did they get there?  Oh, I know, they were sent years before when they were children.  But who trained them to become scientists?  Oh, my head!  I’m not smart enough to follow these guys.).  However it worked out, once on Mars, our intrepid hero and future president shed his useless environmental suit and skipped off to visit the Martians, who he says resembled Nosferatu, and try to avoid the half-a-hundred varieties of deadly predators that infest the surface.  He (a child, remember) was given a suicide pill to take in case he was cornered by one of these predators.  So rife and dangerous were they, that of the 49,000 (!) people sent to Mars in this program, only 7,000 returned to Earth.  An undisclosed number lives there still, and the remainder were killed and eaten by these predators.

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Ed Dames

All right, as fascinating as I’m sure you find this, I’ve had about enough.  Go to the Coast to Coast website if you can’t live without a transcript.  Here’s how looney this was:  Ed Dames, the supposed training officer, is a recurring Coast to Coast guest based on his “work” in Remote Viewing.  For the uninitiated, remote viewing is where you close your eyes, go into a trance, and send your disembodied consciousness off through time, space, and dimensions to examine basically anything that does, has, or will exist.  Wow, sounds like a good subject for Coast to Coast.  Oh, wait…  Anyway, as the guests were describing their experiences, Ed Dames called the show and laid into them for including his name in their “delusional fantasy” about teleportation to Mars; even Doctor Doom didn’t want to be associated with these loons.  Draw your own conclusions.

palenque

For the record, as a young adult, I wanted to believe stuff like this.  I did.  Chariots of the Gods? remains compelling to me to this day.  All you need to do is look at the sarcophagus of Palenque to see an astronaut in a capsule.  Mainstream archaeologists “explain” this away by saying, “That’s not what it is.”  Fine, what is it?  Oh, it’s the deceased king ascending to join his Gods; well, that’s all different.  There are things in this world that can’t be explained just by saying “That’s not what it is,” and von Daniken pulled a lot of them together in his book, but just because they’re mysterious doesn’t mean the explanations have to be supernatural, or just plain ridiculous.  I look into the night sky and see 6,000 stars; that’s the number Isaac Asimov said could be seen by the naked eye.  I know there are trillions more that I can’t see, and I can’t imagine that there aren’t other intelligent beings up there somewhere looking at their own night sky and wondering about me.  I can’t imagine that some of them aren’t more advanced than we are.  But consider this:

Consider the cost of developing the technology and engineering the equipment to put the International Space Station in orbit, the ancillary equipment to deliver people and supplies, the ground support infrastructure, everything.  It took the developed nations of the world using their tax bases and their ability to borrow money without collateral to get it done.  Now private enterprise is being invited into the field, because governments are finding it insupportable.  Now imagine what it might cost to send an expedition to another star, whether you postulate faster-than-light drive or not (and what would that cost?).  Once you arrive at said other star, you find a thriving civilization.  Obviously, your mission at that point becomes to hide in a swamp near a small town, and get your jollies frightening the town drunk…  Who’s in charge of the space program for these visitors, John Cleese?

So now I have to present a conclusion to all this rambling (If you haven’t caught on yet, this post was unplanned; I’m working very much without a net here).  I guess it would be, sample everything the wide world has to offer, no matter how absurd.  Enjoy whatever tickles your fancy, no matter how outrageous.  Do no harm.  And above all, keep a tight grip on your sanity, because a lot of this stuff is just waiting for a chance to suck it right out of you, and you don’t have to look far to find people who have already lost that battle.

All right, show’s over, folks.  All things willing, I’ll see you on the 15th with another assortment of Other Voices.  Til then, get out there and live life like you mean it!

The Mornings After

Today is the 17th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks on New York and Washington. This is a recreational blog, and as a rule, I like to keep it light, meaning that I avoid religion and politics at all costs. But once in a while, I feel the need to say something, and given the state of the nation right now, today, this is one of those times. I first published this article on Jack’s Hideout on the tenth anniversary in 2011, and for the most part it still applies. So here, with a few tweaks to bring it up to date, is my offering for the 9/11 remembrance.

It has been seventeen years since that dark day in history. As one who loves my country, despite all its faults and blemishes, it is time to tell my own insignificant story. Here on the west coast, separated from these momentous events by two mountain ranges and three time zones, it took on a surrealism that couldn’t be experienced by those in the immediate vicinity.

On September 11th, 2001 I was a shift worker. It was the first of three days off. I had come off a night shift, and crawled into bed for a good night’s sleep around 3:00 AM [all times Pacific, making it three hours later in New York and Washington]. Later that morning, about 10:00 AM, I woke up, staggered to the coffee pot, still mostly asleep, poured a cup, and sat down on the couch. When I flipped on the TV, KUSI Channel 51, an unaffiliated local station came on, showing a long view of the New York skyline with black smoke roiling up from the Twin Towers, a somber reporter making infrequent comments about the dark day this was for America. This was puzzling, as this outlet was normally showing a sort of localized version of the Today show at that time, and my first thought was, “Why are they showing a movie at this hour?” Remember, I haven’t begun to come fully awake at this point.

My first attempt to rationalize what I was seeing was that they must be showing scenes from an upcoming blockbuster. The effects were magnificent, of course, but when the view stayed the same, and the reporter didn’t offer much more in the way of dialogue, I got bored and cycled the channel to our local NBC affiliate.

Oh my God! There was the same picture, with a reporter offering much more information. I have never come awake that fast in my life; I hope I never do again. As I sat open-mouthed, my shaking hand spilling hot coffee on my jeans, the first tower began its descent into rubble. At first I thought I was watching live events. Only later did I learn that all this had happened while I was sleeping. That didn’t matter, it was live to me. My first thought was, It’s the end of the world; somebody’s going to get nuked into radioactive slag for this. Other impressions were of a missing President, as Mr. Bush was out of Washington at the time, and took to the air in Air Force One, escorted all over the southeastern United States by F-16s, presenting a moving target to an attack that no one could say was over yet. I remember the map with 5,000 little green glowing airplanes beginning to clear as the FAA struggled to clear the skies over America. But mostly, I remember Ashley Banfield.

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Ashley Banfield became the face of the 9/11 coverage for me. A reporter of personalities, she had a job on Wall Street interviewing the movers and shakers of the day. I myself had never heard of her. She looked like a ditsy woman I had once worked with, which was an initial strike against her, but she overcame that within minutes. Without hesitation, she descended on the World Trade Center, armed with a microphone, and accompanied by her cameraman, whose name, to my everlasting discredit, I have been unable to find. Arriving shortly before the first collapse, they broke into a closed business to shelter from the fallout. She emerged covered from head to toe in fine gray dust, finger-wiped her Clark Kent glasses, and proceeded to perform two nonstop days of the finest unplanned news coverage I have ever witnessed. She was given water by firefighters, caught a nap in the back of an ambulance, and interviewed everybody who would stop and talk to her. And this was none of that, “What do you think about this?” drivel you see so much at disaster scenes. Her questions drew out the essence of what it was to have lived through the horror, and kept us up to the minute on what was going on among emergency responders and survivors alike. I don’t know why she didn’t get Tom Brokaw’s job when he retired, or at least, Katie Couric’s. The only reason I can think of is what I call The Zulu Effect: In that no-longer-PC movie, after hours of non-stop attacks by thousands of Zulus on a small British garrison, the two officers, played by Michael Caine and Stanley Baker, stand amid piles of corpses in a small yard of the mission hospital they have successfully defended. Second-in-command Michael Caine asks, “Was it like this for you? The first time, I mean?” to which his superior, Stanley Baker, replies, “The first time? You think I could stand in this butchers’ yard more than once?”

I was scheduled to be off for three days, which was the length of time that all of America was a no-fly zone. It was eerie. I remember sitting out under the orange tree with Bonnie, hearing no jet noise, seeing no airplanes, except once on the second day when a flight of F-16s from an Air Force base up north made a sweep over the city. Getting to work would have been a nightmare, as security on all the bases was cranked up to a level unprecedented in American history. There were eight hour waits the first couple of days, as every car was checked with a fine tooth comb from hubcaps to sunroof. It was not the most enjoyable three days off I’ve ever had, hanging on news coverage that mostly showed the Towers falling, over and over and over again, waiting for hard information that didn’t seem to come. It did eventually trickle in, of course, a picture emerged of who they were and where they came from, and the War on Terror began on my birthday; I was proud of that . . .

Now it is seventeen years later. What has changed? Well, nobody flies for fun anymore. If you simply must, then before you get on the plane, government officials subject you to a level of sexual molestation that, performed outside the airport, would get them life in prison without parole. It’s harder to get into buildings than it used to be. My “rank” was sufficient that I could take Bonnie to the Officers’ Club for dinner; after 9/11 I couldn’t even bring her on the base. Have these measures helped? Possibly. It’s impossible to describe the attacks that didn’t take place because you couldn’t bring a bottle of shampoo onto an airplane, but it is more difficult to make your way through your daily life, and I can’t help but think of the words of Benjamin Franklin, words to the effect of, “Anyone who gives up some liberty to obtain some security will soon have neither.” I guess the jury’s still out on that one.

The survivors have become a subclass of our culture, and they say some things that seem odd. From the fireman who pulled his buddy out moments before the collapse to the securities manager who carried a wheelchair-bound woman down sixty-eight flights of stairs, they all say, “Don’t call me a hero. Talk to that guy.” Survivor’s guilt? Modesty? Just fed up with their unwanted star status? That’s not for me to say.

I sort of get it, though. As one who came of age in the sixties, I am a Vietnam Veteran, and while I will freely talk about what it’s like to ride out a hurricane on a small wooden ship, stand a pier watch in freezing rain, or hold a 25,000 ton fleet oiler steady in a seaway while a helicopter medevacs a stricken shipmate, I don’t talk about ‘Nam. I can’t. I tried to write a work of fiction incorporating some of the events that happened to me; it doesn’t come. What happened there stays there, somehow part of a sacred core that no one is allowed to touch. The 9/11 survivors had their “Tour in ‘nam” visited on them in a single morning, and with none of the training or preparation we had as soldiers and sailors. I briefly mention my own experience here as a reference point, but had I made a dozen tours, it would pale by comparison to what these people went through.

My grandparents recognized one date on which they remembered where they were, what they were wearing, who they were with, what song was playing, everything, like it had just happened moments ago. Their Date was December 7th, 1941. In the aftermath of that memory, their generation rolled up their sleeves and went to work. My grandma took a job building fighter planes for Lockheed, Rosie the riveter, freeing up a man to carry a gun. And carry guns they did. They made sacrifices on the home front, endured rationing, saved cans, turned in their aluminum pots and pans so that their soldiers, the Greatest Generation, could stamp out the greatest evil of their day, a pair of Empires so vile that we allied with Josef Stalin’s Soviet Union to defeat them.

How is our generation measuring up? Not well. Who do you know that has made one meaningful sacrifice? Oh, an individual here and there, and certainly those who have joined the services to stand in the face of a form of evil that will commit mass murder in the name of their god, but what is happening on the home front? Practically nothing. We whine about the price of bread while our soldiers die in faraway lands so that we can sleep peacefully in our comfortable beds. As Kipling noted over a century ago:

“Makin’ mock o’ uniforms that guard you while you sleep

Is cheaper than them uniforms, and they’re starvation cheap.

As Al-Qaeda and the other poisonous leagues of evil it has spawned, diligently plot the downfall of Western Civilization, what are we, that very Western Civilization, concerned with? Why, ninety-two flavors of butt-stupid “reality” shows, and hanging on every word of some rich-ass celebrity who’s blubbering into a hanky because the elevator in her mansion is out of service, while children starve on the sidewalk within view of her rooftop patio. Look what’s happened in our nation’s capitol year after year since, with our petty piss-ant politicians willing to let America slide down the toilet rather than take one step to compromise with the opposition party. We are openly encouraged by those very politicians to silence those who disagree with them with threats of violence and persecution. Just who is the enemy here, really? We elected these jackasses, so I guess we deserve them. Seriously, I posted the solution to that particular problem on the old Tyler Gang blog. It was up for three years. There was not one comment.

I look around seventeen years later, and I see the camaraderie that followed in the days after the attacks gone. It’s business as usual, like nothing ever happened. If you study the history of our great nation, you realize that the path of that history is littered with the wreckage of swaggering dictators and petty warlords who all believed that Americans were too soft, too addicted to their little creature comforts to actually set them aside and fight to preserve them. As I look around seventeen years later, I fear that this time, they may be right.

You will notice that I did not post any pictures of the actual attacks. You know where to find them, if that is your interest. I cannot look at them without being transported back to that day. It is like salt in an open wound, and when I see the images, all of my emotional makeup wants the bastards who orchestrated it killed. I want the people who nurtured them, and gave them the beliefs that led them to this killed. I want the countries who harbored them laid waste. See, when I look at those pictures, all of my religion, what I claim to be my spiritual beliefs, are made lies, because I don’t want to forgive any of them for anything. I want them killed, horribly, terrifyingly, lingeringly killed. Is this what my grandparents felt when they watched the black-and-white newsreel footage of the USS Arizona exploding? Most likely. Their generation acted on it, going so far as to immolate two cities in nuclear fireballs. In the aftermath, Germany and Japan are two of our staunchest allies. Where will we stand with the Middle East in fifty years? More importantly, where do we stand with ourselves today?

I sat down here to remember those who fell in a savage act of pure evil, and to honor the heroes of that day. I don’t think that can be done without looking at what has happened to the rest of us, to our culture, because of those events. I have spent many years learning the history of this nation, and from that perspective, I have to say that what I see frightens me for our future. Oh, not our brave and skilled warriors, but those of us left behind in the civilian world whose lives and actions form the foundation on which they stand. What do they stand for? What must they think when they look back to their homeland and see the biggest news items of the day are who got booted off American Idol, or what zillion dollar resort the Kardashians are frolicking at? I think that, while it remains a date on the calendar, most of us have, by and large, forgotten 9/11. As a person a continent away whose personal life was untouched by these events, that seems a sacrilege. And yet, during all the remembrance shows of this past weekend, one thing stands out. A survivor, being interviewed about her experiences of that day, losing her husband among them, had this to say:

“Everyone tells me, ‘never forget, never forget.’ Every time I want to speak with my husband, I remember, but if we are ever to achieve true peace and closure, don’t we have to, at some point, forget?”

In 1973, thirty years after the Second World War, my grandmother refused to allow me to bring my good friend, my good Japanese friend, into her home. Will my grandchildren be more enlightened thirty years from now? Let us hope . . .

Envisioning the Unimaginable

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 . . .

ThingsI'veLearned

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.

ShadowFiles

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.

SavingGrace

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.

RogueStar

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

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.

SinfulCinderella

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.

StoneSeekersFront

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!