Other Voices #14

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.

hammock_01

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.

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 ~

ObakeNeko

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.

RailBooks

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 Blogfollow 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.

WomanInScarlet

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.

ApollosRaven

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.

SugarLane

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

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.

MindCandy

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 SparrowWhy 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!

Other Voices #13

Welcome to Thursday, everyone, and my roundup of interesting reading that I’ve found around the web.  Before I get started, I want to share the latest news.  Basically, there isn’t any.  I continue to wait to see whether I’m going to be offered a contract to produce a series of horror novellas for a publishing house.  I’m not superstitious, but I don’t mention any names because the editor is a reader of this blog, and I don’t want to influence his decision, pro or con, by something I might say about him or his business.  I’ll get the deal or I won’t based entirely on the merits of the writing.

What this means in practical terms is that I’ve cleared the decks, so to speak, setting all my other projects aside and starting to work on outlines for the next several stories.  I will say that these involve continuing characters in a specific situation with story arcs that will be developed over a period of multiple stories.  If the deal is tendered, I’ll be ready; if it isn’t, well, that’s the easy outcome, and I’m already ready for that.  Either way, this blog with its current features will continue more or less unchanged for the foreseeable future.

“More or less” doesn’t preclude tweaks to the format, and beginning today, I’m providing updated links to the blogs I follow that have recent activity.  For the most part, I follow bloggers who have followed me, though there are a number who I follow unilaterally because they’re that good.  There is a widget on my Blogger site that allows me to enter anyone’s URL and be advised every time they update.  Unfortunately, some very good sites such as Radio Retrofuture, The Home of Lorna Lockheed, and Stephanie Kato’s blog, to name a few don’t have an RSS feed, and thus are not updated; I’ll do my best, but may miss some updates.  Also, blogs that aren’t serviced for over a year will be dropped as being pointless to direct anyone to, and lost through following that rule were some good blogs and even good friends, including K.M. Alford, James Mace, and Bryce Raffle.  If you folks are still reading, let me know if you become active again; I’d love to carry your links!

And on that note, let’s get started.

~ Books ~

WorldshipPraxis

Worldship Praxis.   166-page novel by J.D. Lovil.  To save humanity from extinction, one captain must confront his own nightmares, and a host of deadly aliens.  Jack Sadow’s crucial interstellar work requires him to be semi-immortal.  The captain of the gigantic colonist vessel Worldship Praxis knows that every decision could make or break humankind’s mission to find habitable planets.  But when a sleep shift brings him disturbing precognitive warnings of formidable aliens, he knows his toughest choices still lie ahead.  Untrained for battle against lifeforms with superior tech, Sadow wonders if he and his small crew can possibly survive to find a second home.  For humanity to endure after Earth, the captain has no choice but to use his mind and mettle to find his colonists a new safe haven.  Can Sadow conquer the mysterious aliens of his nightmares, or will humanity’s dreams turn to stardust?  Worldship Praxis is a fast-paced sci-fi colonization adventure.  If you like futuristic tech, intergalactic journeys, and mind-bending alien encounters, then you’ll love JD Lovil’s expansive novel.  $2.99 on Kindle.

ElvishProphecy

The Elvish Prophecy. 488-page novel by Neil Port.  850 years ago the once mighty Western Elves were fatally weakened by the sacking of Elvish Troia and then almost totally destroyed by a cataclysmic invasion of barbarian hordes that came soon after.  They now remain only in scattered settlements in the Black Sea region of Anatole.  The Eastern Elves hold the last of the elf cities, the magnificent mountain fortress of Elgard to the east and to the north of Anatole.  But the Elves are fading.  They have lost almost all their magic.  They no longer live longer than humans and each year they have fewer and fewer children.  Not only that, their world is on the cusp of an invasion by the unbeatable Makedóne army from the west and the appearance of a new and far more dangerous barbarian far to the East.  The final destruction of the Elves has been foretold two thousand years before, and now the time is all but upon them.  Only through an ancient prophecy can they be saved, but it will require every bit of love, sacrifice and courage that a group of extraordinary people have to give.  An Elf Princess of the Eastern Elves, an eleven-year-old gypsy orphan girl, and a mercenary tribesman are the first to be called.  They must unite in a desperate search through Anatole for the key to the survival of the Elves, but first they have to stay alive!  Free on Kindle as of this writing.

Permission

Permission. 519-page novel by Joe Dacy II.  “Prepare to meet your Maker.”  In 2045, with that ominous preface, the visionary CEO of a world-spanning Artificial Intelligence firm introduces a secret project to answer a vital question:  Can a society consent to be governed solely by a heuristic Artificial Intelligence with the support of robots and androids?  More than two centuries later, the Apprentice to the Maker, a girl of only 14 turns, discovers that the “Utopia” her people have inhabited for nine generations harbors a vile secret.  She comes to realize a singular truth: In every Garden of Eden, there is a Serpent.  During the Time of the Maker, a surreal religion has supplanted the CEO’s original dream.  Supported by the Verses of the Codex, the people of Permission have come to worship the A.I., the entity which rules “In the name of the Maker, and of his Sons, through the Coded Spirit.  For All Men.”  $3.99 on Kindle.

HeavenToBetsy

Heaven to Betsy. 278-page novel by Pamela Fagan Hutchins.  Dumped by her husband for a man, ex-rodeo queen Emily Bernal yearns for a fresh start.  When a handsome local attorney named Jack offers her a gig, she’s not sure if it’s the right fit.  But after a dead body takes a swan dive right in front of her and she learns a missing six-year-old girl is caught in the aftermath, Emily’s heart sends her from barrel racing to paralegal work in a hurry.  As she and Jack interrogate the young girl’s tight-lipped mother, a string of strange coincidences don’t seem to add up.  When sparks fly between her and her boss and dead ends start to become dead bodies, the race to save the girl comes down to the wire.  Can Emily and Jack decipher their feelings and the contradictory clues before they become the next victims?  Heaven to Betsy is a mystery thriller with a romantic twist.  If you like strong-minded women, heart-pounding plots, and a side-serving of humor, you’ll love Pamela Fagan Hutchins’ nail-biting novel.  99¢ on Kindle.

HouseThatHomed

The House that Homed. 44-page novelette by Ben Willoughby.  Four young adults that venture into an abandoned mansion with some dark secrets.  Two addicts soon enter as well, looking for stuff to loot.  What happens to all six?  Can any make it out alive?  It’s the house that homed, yo.  Read it and find out.  99¢ on Kindle.  I should call to your attention the fact that these books I feature are sourced from myriad sites and pages, and it’s largely a matter of luck over design what I come into contact with.  This one was not, but one I picked up from C.W. Hawes’ blog as part of his Good Books You’ve Probably Never Heard Of series.  It’s very much worth a read, which is why I linked it as well as the book, so take a hint and check it out.

Cobra

The Cobra. 38-page short by Tom Johnson.  The Cobra is back.  Raised in the mystic art of illusion in India, The Cobra’s power of mind control mystifies his enemies.  On assignment to New York City, Dean Bradley of British Intelligence unwittingly causes a crime wave of terror when he brings a British master criminal to justice on America’s shores.  Now it will be up to him to unravel the mystery in this new land before he can return to India.  But will even the dreaded Cobra walk away from this new encounter with The Viper?  And now that Dean Bradley has fallen in love with the girl who knows his secret identy, does India really matter?  99¢ on Kindle.

TestamentOfCthulhu

Testament of Cthulhu.  64-page anthology by Mark McLaughlin & Michael Sheehan Jr.  Five tales of weird fantasy and horrorin the tradition of H.P. LovecraftandRobert W. Chambers.  A grotesque deity exactsa terrible and unspeakably complete vengeance in The Foul One Lives To Destroy.  Sea-Green Gown With Gold Buttons presents a tale of The King in Yellow, a forbidden book that brings madness to those who dare to read it.  In this tale, a young performer is caught in a web of horror when he falls in love with a citizen of Carcosa.  In The Testament Of Cthulhu, an ailing traveler visits a community with a hideous secret; a secret that might be the answer to his complex medical problems.  The Ambassador From Ulthar tells of a young man who cannot escape his fate after injuring a denizen of the Dreamlands.  While escaping from an abusive relationship, an aspiring writer encounters an unlikely ally in The Sea-Spider.  $3.65 on Kindle.

BringHerHome

Bring Her Home. 254-page novel by C.E. Nelson.  Lake County Minnesota Sheriff Dave Trask and his identical twin brother Don, lead investigator for the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA), were bored.  Their planned fishing trip to Chase, Minnesota had been hijacked by the weather, leaving them with time on their hands, which they decide to fill by looking into the three-year-old disappearance of a local woman.  The weather improves, the Trasks go fishing, but they can’t shake the sense that there is something more to the woman’s disappearance than they see in the case files.  Don Trask assigns Agent Danny Carlisle of the Duluth office to look into the missing girl’s background.  Carlisle’s investigation leads her to the University of Minnesota at Duluth where she is stonewalled, and soon in danger, while the Trask brothers follow other leads bringing them to the conclusion that a serial killer is roaming northern Minnesota, abducting young women who disappear forever.  Currently free on Kindle.

StoneSeekersFront

The Stone Seekers. 369-page novel by Jack Tyler.  The Settlements cling precariously to a hostile shore where the very ground opposes them.  The people, fleeing a vicious tyrant, had crossed an ocean to get here, and had nowhere else to go.  They bear with them a parting gift from a powerful mage, the Wellstone, an artifact that can locate clean water among the vile poisons their new land offers.  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 tracker of exceptional skill and a savage warrior with a dark secret are sent to achieve through stealth what cannot be accomplished by force.  What possible chance could two people have?  99¢ on Kindle.

~ Podcasts ~

I’m breaking this section out for this issue, and time will tell whether it remains this way, but it seems to make some sense.  The inaugural podcast is a fabulous piece of pop-culture examination called The Fire and Water Podcast NetworkThis is a collection of podcasts taking on various aspects of popular culture, and the one that caught my attention was Episode 27 of Gimme That Star Trek in which the host, , moderates an in-depth discussion of Star Trek’s goofiest episodes.  Words fail me.  Just check it out, all right?

Last week I plugged Michael May’s Sleigh Bell Cinema feature, and though I try to avoid back-to-back links, this week I’m plugging it again as he is joined by Jeeg of the fabulous Nerd Lunch site for a detailed discussion of 1984’s Gremlins and other Christmas-horror movies they’ve enjoyed.  Yeah, good stuff.

~ Blogs ~

Starting right off, I encountered another interesting blog this week, this one the site of author J.T. Buckley (By Right of Arms, Blood & Steel).  His latest post as of this writing concerns writing reviews for books on Amazon.com, and is some timely information for anyone who’s ever struggled with this.  My own etiquette is that when I enjoy a book, I recognize the author’s skill and hard work.  Mr. Buckley says you should always leave a review every time, and he makes a good case for doing just that.  Check it out.  My sole complaint with his site is that his provider is Wix.com, which means that in order to comment, you have to have a Wix account.  That’s too bad, he seems like he’d be interesting to talk with.

Another newly discovered site that is frighteningly accessible is The Bold MomI won’t drop the lady’s name, as it isn’t on the blog, but this young woman runs a comprehensive horror site, and if you are a reader, writer, reviewer, publisher, or artist, she very much wants to hear from you.  Click over and see why.

Laurie Bell covers a lot of ground on her blog Rambles, Writing, and Amusing Musings, and what she’s covered today is a book, The Truth Pixie, by Matt Haig and Chris Mould.  This is alleged to be a children’s book, but Laurie is quite taken with it, and recommends this story of a pixie who cannot lie to everyone.

Cheche Winnie is a lovely young Kenyan woman, a conservationist, and an environmentalist, but one that doesn’t beat you over the head with it.  She simply tries to raise her readers’ awareness of what we stand to lose.  Today’s post is a beautiful and educational article about the Snow Leopard: Ghost of the Mountains.  By all means, take a break and enjoy a peaceful interlude with one of the beautiful big cats.

The Rebel Fish blog generally deals in subtle and convoluted comedy, and that may be what I’m seeing today, but it may be too subtle for me to grasp.  Judge for yourself as the Fish takes on the often unseen and misjudged relationship between happiness and failure.

Pointless Overthinking is a blog purported to be about understanding ourselves and the world around us.  That is a noble endeavor, and one that they (there are multiple contributors) try daily to live up to.  Today’s offering is a review of Extreme Ownership, a book by Jocko Willink, retired navy SEAL commander, about taking responsibility for your failures, and how much better that will make you and your team.  There is an attached video, and all of it is life hacks of the best sort.

I still don’t have a precise handle on Lucid Being.  Is it psychic awareness?  Holisic healing?  New age?  A mix of all those and more, I suspect, but it sure is deep, and great fun to read.  Open your mind and test the water, that’s all I can tell you; you may be pleasantly surprised.

The Bon Bon Lifestyle Webazine is about, well, life, and the many things that interact to make it what it is.  Today’s offering, Small vs. Big and Tall, sounds like a discussion of clothing sizes, but no, not the case.  At the link you will find a most charming video of toddlers (mostly) interacting with zoo animals.  Sooooo cute. . .

The Firewater Site is pure popular culture, and incredibly entertaining to a nerd like me (hey, I write steampunk on an alternate timeline; deal with it!).  The bits I find most entertaining, and go out of my way never to miss, are his treatments of individual Star Trek episodes.  This week he goes in-depth to outline and review the two-part finale of The Next Generation, and a spectacular ride it is.

Millie Schmidt’s The Cat’s Write site blogs about writing and blogging, and today’s offering is about building your author platform.  Great information there if you’re just setting out on this wonderful journey and would like some helpful pointers.

Some blog titles tell you in the first couple of words what they’re all about, and then others try to draw you in with misdirection.  Such is the case with The Bold Mom, a pure horror site, and one of my frequent stops now that I’m leaning in that direction.  Today, the aforementioned Bold Mom offers a review with video of Michael Reyes’ Clock’s Watch, a chill-inducing collection about a Guardian of Humanity going about his daily rounds.  Mighty good reading if you’re a horror fan.

In 2017, Kirilson, the gentleman behind Kirilson Photography, visited a contemporary art exhibit in Venice, and he is still posting pictures from the event.  He’s a very good photographer, and if you’re into these photo essays, you should make this one a stop.

Ula of the Simple Ula blog runs a straightforward exposition of health and beauty tips, but having just celebrated her 30th birthday, she has shared a huge collection of photos of the celebration.  Not profound, just good fun, and a nice introduction to her site if health and beauty holds your interest. . .

Elves Choice is the website of Adam Hazard, a graphic designer and family man, and Elves Choice is very much his business site where he tries to earn some extra income for his family by selling T-shirts, coffee mugs and the like.  Nothing out of the ordinary there, but for the holidays, since before Halloween, he has been providing almost daily recipes for festive goodies such as today’s Rocky Road Chocolate Cookies.  This seems a superb way to raise awareness of his site and garner some valuable good will for the future.  I recommend a visit at once.

MovieBabble is another site with multiple contributors and often multiple posts per day. Their stock in trade is movie reviews, such as today’s look at 2018’s An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn.  Add this to your bookmarks for spoiler-free reviews of the latest movies, large and small.

Christian Mihai, who operates the Irevuo site, also maintains The Art of Blogging, where he offers really good advice to bloggers who are looking for ways to increase their traffic.  Today is no exception. . .

I have mentioned Inmate Blogger on several occasions.  It is well past time that I provide a sample, so here is one from Deborah Reese, Department of Corrections #301820, blogging about the California wildfires.

This is a blog predominantly aimed at writers, especially those just beginning the Great Journey, in the hopes of offering bits of information that will help them (you?) find their way.  I found a wonderful article about language, and the limitations and cultural paradigms it imposes on its speakers.  It’s complex, and asks a lot of the reader, but if it sounds interesting, it’s linked on my other blog, Jack’s Hideout.  Come on over and check it out.

Finally, to end on a fun and frivolous note, I still receive steampunk-themed gifts, even though I no longer write the stuff, and that’s fine.  I absolutely love the aesthetic, the creativity, the look and feel of the stuff.  I still wear my goggles on my hat most times that I go out, and much of my decor is of the same theme.  Which brings me to a little bragging, or at least showing off, and a warning.

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‘Twas my birthday last month, and my kids bought me this lamp.  This is a beautiful piece of work.  A 2½” clock replaces the gauge that might typically be found on that mounting, and the red valve conceals the on/off switch.  There is also a dimmer in the line that you can set at whatever brightness you like, then turn it on at the valve.  It stands 12″ tall and is constructed of cast iron plumbing pipe.  It is quite heavy as well as off-center toward the light fixture, and therein lies the warning.

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You see, this comes mounted, and I use the word as loosely as possible, on the 9″-diameter gear in the picture.  Disfortunately, the gear is cheap plastic, or perhaps even a ring of genuine Sleazite©, and all that heavy iron is glued onto the hub!  The two pieces separated twice while they were unpacking it.  My daughter finally got it to hold with liberal application of some industrial glue, but after sitting nicely on a table for a month, it came apart and crashed over.  Fortunately, literally being cast iron, it is quite indestructible, but that doesn’t solve the basic problem.

It is a well-known fact, especially to charlatans, that steampunk enthusiasts love this stuff, and will pay a pretty penny, sight unseen, for something like this.  I found several hundred of these on line by Googling “steampunk table lamps,” and most of them are priced north of $100.  That’s pretty steep for something that’s going to fall apart as you’re unpacking it, so do your homework, and be sure that what you’re getting is worth the price tag.  In my case, I was willing to mount it to my desk’s top shelf with three small screws, but the next guy might not have that option, and be stuck with something not fit to use or display.

And that’s 30 for this issue.  Join me Sunday when I’ll be posting about the horror to be found in everyday situations.  Now get out there and live life like you mean it!

Other Voices [formerly The Edge of the Map] No. 10

Stories have to be told or they die, and when they die, we can’t remember who we are or why we’re here.”

~ Sue Monk Kidd

UPDATE:  I said last week in my Liberation Post (some might prefer to call it the Doomsday Post) that I still had hopes of writing horror novellas for a certain publisher.  I’ve had no word yet, and they did say that it could take until the New Year’s, but in an effort to be ready should the call come, I’ve been preparing the second story in the proposed series, and teaching myself the discipline of sitting down to work on them; later in the day seems to work better for me, mid afternoon especially.  I’ve gotten a couple of good sessions in during the past week, and have four stories in development.  Time will tell . . .

I had a series of conversations with a friend in last week’s comment section, who suggested that I should either quit, or quit talking about it.  I agree in principle, but as I have always tried to be more than simply disembodied text to people who take the time to give me their attention, I like to keep you up to date with what’s going on in my writing life; the sad fact is that I barely know myself.  But sparked by that conversation, I think I have come closer to nailing it down.

I was raised by extended family members, all older females, who had no patience for small boys nor the things they get up to.  Child psychology and teaching in general in the 1950s weren’t what they are today; if you didn’t excel, you were just a rotten kid who was going to grow up to be a ditch-digger or a career criminal.  I think now that I started writing in order to prove myself to the caregivers and educators who all agreed that I was never going to amount to anything.  Of course they were all long-dead before I ever published, but if they’re watching from some form of afterlife, they know among other things that I have four books on Amazon, and more stories and novels that I’m giving away for free just because I can.  But the proving is done, and there is no longer that “prod” goading me to excel anymore.  I need another one, and that’s why I’m waiting on, and working toward that possible book deal.  That would be the new prod at the next level, and I would dearly love to move on to that.  I am preparing plots and stories while I wait so I’ll be ready, but if the offer doesn’t come through, then I’m going to have to reassess my whole writing situation.  So keep an eye on this space; you’ll know when I do.

Turning to the primary purpose of this site, delivering items created by writers and bloggers laboring far beyond the edges of the map where the major publishers and studios won’t be seen for another decade, I present for your approval the following efforts.  Note that with Halloween looming, I’ve gone heavy on the horror this week; I trust such theme-based selections will meet with this audience’s approval:

~ Books ~

IndieWritersReview

Indie Writers Review #11, P.J. Blakey-Novis, editor.  Indie Writers Review is a monthly magazine showcasing the best of the independent writers scene.  This Halloween special includes short stories, poetry, horror reviews, and author interviews, as well as a chance to win three books.  £1.99 on Kindle.

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1:05 AM by C.M. Moore.  Yearning for a normal life, assassin Karmen-Marie has had enough — enough of surviving contracted hits, and enough of the post-apocalyptic world.  Forced to take one last job, Karma sets out across the frozen landscape of Earth.  Rea MacBain’s job is to ensure the safety of Earth’s precious few water purification plants.  He believes his abusive past must stay buried under the snow that encases his domain.  A single bullet will send Karma and Rea in a direction they’d never expected.  Ice-cold assassin’s blood drives the woman sent to kill him, yet it ignites the fire which thaws Rea’s heart.  Free on Kindle [reg. $2.99]

BreathThief

Breath Thief by Steve Hill.  A forgotten IRA arms cache.  A new generation of terrorists.  Only clairvoyant Annie Taylor can stop them.  If only they weren’t stealing her breath.  Thinking she’s entering a competition to win a dream holiday Annie uncovers a terrible secret and her world is shattered as her children become entangled in a terrorist conspiracy.  As a wave of violence explodes across Britain, victims of long forgotten crimes are seeking retribution and old comrades in arms must once more choose sides.  When the Breath Thief steals Annie’s gift, time is running out and to save her children Annie must find the power to reshape the future.  Free on Kindle [reg. $2.99].

19GatesOfHell

19 Gates of Hell, a horror anthology.  From the darkest places imaginable, both outside and inside the mind, comes 19 tales that will drag you into places you never dreamed of seeing, not even in your worst nightmares.  Come along as these tales open up 19 gates into hell and experience the supernatural, the darkness of night, and the unimaginable like never before.  Authors such as Byron Craft, Matthew V. Brockmeyer, Rich Restucci and many more have come together to show you in . . . and they won’t let you leave until you’re crying out for mercy, begging to live to see one last sunset.  What are you waiting for?  The gates are opening.  $3.99 on Kindle.

BastardBoysMontezuma

The Bastard Boys of Montezuma by Jaromy Henry.  Cash Holliday and Marshall Earp are the illegitimate sons of the most notorious gunslingers in the West.  Despite a lingering bad economy in 1896, the two operate a flourishing detective agency, largely thanks to selective partnerships.  When Sheriff Kristof Varga hands Marshall a bounty for the infamous Cactus Kid, they realize their business could change overnight.  But Cash receives a letter stating some of his late father’s possessions are in Tombstone and he becomes interested in a different pursuit.  Faced with lying to his best friend, crazy superstitions, a girl with a mysterious past, and a Pinkerton agent who is hot on their trail, Cash must decide if he’s willing to risk their lives for the secrets of a father he never knew.  $4.99 on Kindle.

Fall

Fall by Jeff Thompson.  Earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis . . .  They happen all the time, and when they do, people wonder:  What about the Big One?  Truth is, no one alive has ever seen a real Big One – not since Toba erupted 75,000 years ago and created a bottleneck in human evolution.  Then there’s the biggest of them all:  Yellowstone, where the Monster Under the Ground has been biding its time for 640,000 years.  What if it erupted tomorrow?  How would humanity and human society react?  How would they survive?  Pressure is that story, and Fall is just the beginning.  $3.99 on Kindle.

CostOfLiving

The Cost of Living by Marla L. Anderson.  A life for a life.  No one need die until someone new is born.  Then you’ve no choice.  This novella will take the reader to a dystopian future of a world of adults where birthmothers are a privileged class and every child is a celebrity.  Death has been conquered, but overcrowding has led to government enforced zero population growth.  When Janice becomes pregnant without government authorization, she must find a life donor or forfeit her own.  For every child born, someone must die.  The math is simple, but the politics behind it are anything but.  Janice soon finds herself diving into a deep conspiracy.  For those who love The Handmaid’s Tale, here is another take on what the future may hold.  $2.99 on Kindle.

STARSProject

The S.T.A.R.S Project by Lee Andrew Taylor.  The S.T.A.R.S Project was established by the government to increase the survival of the slowly decreasing rat population in the town of Aaronsville.  After a virus killed off a vast majority of rats, rats that humans need to help heal the sick, the local authority set up a lab in the university to help breed the rats, but after three years of experiments by the professor, the rats want out.  Tonight they will flee the lab.  Flee to take revenge on the humans who thought it was best to cage them.  Tonight, the town of Aaronsville will awaken once again with the scurrying rodents.  But this time the outcome will be different.  $3.99 on Kindle.

RebelFairytale

Once Upon a Rebel Fairytale is one of those huge Amazon collections that are quite simply the best bang-for-the-buck available to the reader today.  Cinderella has a dark secret.  The Little Mermaid loses more than her voice.  And Little Red Riding Hood isn’t so little anymore.  Join our heroes and heroines as they travel through the underworld to Mars, rescue damsels in distress, and battle deadly foes in Once Upon a Rebel Fairytale, a limited edition collection of beloved stories from today’s bestselling authors.  Inside these pages, you’ll find 25 action-packed fairytale retellings that rebel against tradition, from dark and gritty paranormal romances to sexy and thrilling supernatural fantasies.  The princesses, queens, kings, and villains of your childhood return in these adrenaline-spiking spins on your favorite bedtime tales.  But reader beware: these fairytales are not for the faint of heart.  99¢ on Kindle.

BostonMetaphysical

Boston Metaphysical Society by Madeleine Holly-Rosing.  Politics and power.  Demons and spirits.  When ex-Pinkerton detective Samuel Hunter married Elizabeth Weldsmore, the heir to one of Boston’s Great Houses, he knew his life would change forever, but he never expected the return of Elizabeth’s psychic abilities.  Not only do they have to keep it a secret, but Elizabeth must learn quickly how to master them.  For a psychic in a Great House is a political liability which her father, Jonathan Weldsmore, knows only too well.  As the Great Houses jockey for power, the three of them must contend with treachery, subterfuge, and potentially a new demonic threat, in this political and supernatural thriller set in an alternate-history Boston of 1890.  This novel is a prequel to the original graphic novel series, Boston Metaphysical Society.  $4.99 on Kindle.

LastRite

The Last Rite by Chad Robert Morgan.  The Last Rite was never meant to be found.  Ten years ago, the love of Daniel’s life disappeared.  Then Daniel learns that not only did she commit suicide, but she left behind a daughter he never knew he had.  Taking his estranged daughter home, Daniel gets detoured to the small logging town of Shellington Heights, a town that is no longer on any map and a population that is no longer human.  Daniel and his daughter find themselves pawns in a supernatural war, with the apocalypse hinging on one question – how far will a father go to save a daughter he’s never known?  99¢ on Kindle tomorrow through Halloween [reg $4.99]

~ Blogs ~

In preparation for Halloween, Elves Choice has been printing easy recipes for spooky treats.  As of this writing, recipes for Roasted Pumpkin Seeds, Rice Krispie Witch’s hats, Spiced Candy Corn Crispies, Mac-O-Lantern and Cheese Bowls, and my favorite, Spider Oreo Pops.  There may well be more by the time this goes to press, so if you have kiddies in your life or at your door, this is well worth looking into!

Nerd Lunch is also celebrating Halloween in their own inimitable style.  Jeeg and Pax are joined by Jay of The Sexy Armpit, and Michael May for the 2018 Halloween episode.  In this episode they select 16 movie monsters, put them in tournament brackets, and debate until they get a winner.  And there are some good discussions in this one.  Download the podcast and find out for yourself!

MovieBabble and Irevuo are prolific sites that publish multiple times each day.  MovieBabble, as the name suggests, looks at films through the lens of reviews, top-ten lists, and philosophical discussions.  Irevuo takes a broader view of the arts in general, books, painting, music, and some films as well.  Both have an intellectual tone, and cater to the serious connoisseur, so if that’s you, join the discussion at either of these fine sites.

I haven’t pushed Richie Billing for a while, and it’s high time I corrected that oversight.  Mr. Billing’s self-titled blog is a treasure trove of wonderful advice for the aspiring fictioneer, and his last couple of posts have concerned themselves with some great advice on World Building.  Very much worth checking out.

This one is a little off my regular path, but it is powerful, and needs to be shared with anyone who can be convinced to read it.  Angie K. Elliston and her husband of 20+ years have adopted 13 children of all ages and backgrounds, and writes at great length about the experience at her self-titled blog.  Incredible reading, and definitely worth a few moments of your time.

My drone-flying friend Eva Newermann has chosen to share the first chapter of Fear is in the Air, her sci-fi thriller.  I personally think that this is a wise decision on her part, as this is a grabber of an opening concerning a flight attendant’s dark little pastime.  Having been a flight attendant herself, Eva brings an authenticity to the page that stands out in the writing, though we can only hope that personal experience doesn’t extend to what the girl is doing in this passage!

Sarah Zama, who goes by the handle of JazzFeathers, is a Roaring Twenties enthusiast with a dieselpunk angle.  This week on her blog, The Old Shelter, she explains in depth her process for writing to a themed anthology.  A very useful post for anyone thinking about participating in that sort of event.

A couple of weeks back I promoted a unique blog collection called Inmate Blogger.  Monday, the operator posted the method for submissions, so if you know someone who is incarcerated who might like to contribute material to the site, be sure to check this out.

Sandy at Aging Disgracefully is a Newfoundlander who is prepping for another brutal northern latitudes winter.  Today she writes of strong broths, multicolored hair, autumn walks, and embracing your inner weird.  Fun reading on a regular basis.

Writers Helping Writers, a wonderful site that I promote frequently, has a post up for novelists, which I’m sure describes at least some of my readers, talking about the often overlooked benefits that writing flash fiction can bring to those novelists.  Check this out for a real and serious eye-opening.

I’m long overdue to mention Daimary John’s Pixel Edit again.  His whole blog is a collection of tutorials on how to use PicsArt, and it is a wonderful free course for anyone who wants or needs to become proficient at that particular program.  This week’s lesson is on creating a logo, and like all his presentations, it’s thorough and easy to follow.

And that’s 30 for this week.  See you next week with another roundup, and of course, breaking news will be posted when it breaks . . . if it breaks . . . who am I kidding?  See you Thursday!