THE RUT Release Day

Today is the release of my first novel. ARC readers reviews went well. Time to see what the world thinks. Grab it on Amazon.

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Observations #03

Observations

Japan #03

04/18/2019

This line in Takamatsu airport is backed up. China Airlines are doing well at keeping it flowing. I stand and take in the Japanese, Chinese, Taiwanese, Thais, and more as they go about their business of chatting, searching for passports, packing luggage, and moseying through social media. Young girls flick their hair and pooch their lips, forever in search of the perfect selfie. They possess iPhones, and luggage from various countries, though possibly all made in China. One Chinese man of fifty wears an Under Armor cap, another man of thirtysomething stands in a blinding yellow Nike t-shirt (and I am reminded of Jello Biafra on “Become the Media” asking if anyone had ever seen Tiger Woods’ hair and answering No because he wears the mark of the beast, the swooshstika on his forehead–which in turn conjures up images of well-to-do folks donning MAGA hats; meanwhile in 2019, Tiger has shocked golf fans and snagged another green jacket).

exhibit A

Globalization the modern Manifest Destiny.

The need to expand.

Bigger IS better.

This event is nothing new yet it feels surreal. In a world where we often hear of closing borders, building walls, placing stricter tariffs on this and that, and genuinely doing anything possible to live in fear and isolation I wonder how much longer I will be able to experience the gathering before me.

Some will be immediately repulsed by the cover art without hearing Jello out.

I am a traveler of this planet, albeit one on a budget, so I’ll keep on catching moments like poke balls. But these government-induced fears widespread by the mainstream is not the way to encourage those who have never held a passport. Encourage them to turn off Fox and CNN, pack a bag, and set out. Do it. I promise you will have a wonderful time as you talk to the people of the world, enjoy their land and their food, witness their culture and start to understand their views. They are not so different from your own.

A Journey to the Crossroads

Yo Readers,

Hope this week finds you well. I have a special announcement and treat. A new anthology I took part in is out and currently only .99 cents. PROCEEDS GO TO ST. JUDES!

If you like sci-fi, this is for you.

If you want to help a cause, this is for you.

If you fit both of the above, welcome to paradise.

I am also honored to feature the publisher of these out-of-this-world tales, Mr. Edd Sowder of Burning Willow Press.

Here is his in-depth blog about the creation of the Crossroads series:

A Journey to the Crossroads

A blog by Edd Sowder

 

Back in 2014, Burning Willow Press consisted of a few unknown authors, graphic artists, and one single editor. We—and collectively, I was a very silent part of it back then—did not know what we were going to do from day to day. We were winging it. Learning as we went and applying everything we learned to the process until it became embedded in our DNA. After a few hiccups, we got to where we knew what we were doing or at least we looked better at it than we did.  

Mid-2015 rolled around, and we were open for submissions when I, yes I, came to Kindra and our other partner at the time to announce that I wanted to do an anthology. I mean why not, right? Everyone else was banging them out left and right so I felt that we could too. After trying to come up with a working title and not having any success, one of our then authors came to Kindra and stated it should be called, Crossroads in the Dark. With a name, we needed a theme so Kindra and I bounced the idea off one another in the office. After a few days of coming up with a single reason to showcase this idea, and we had just watched the movie, “Would You Rather” on DVD, we had an idea. Morality. Or, how far are you willing to go to save your skin, or a loved one, or someone you do not even know? When the stakes were highest, and your life was on the line, where does morality come into play?The one that started it all

I opened submissions for the anthology, and two of our then submissions managers took over from there. They rejected some 400 short stories in the first month. The twenty-four that were accepted were the best of the ones submitted to us. I then had the task of getting the authors to sign contracts, go through edits with one of our editors, and get the book ready to be formatted for publication. It was quite a task. I mentioned that there were twenty-four short stories accepted for the anthology initially, and there was. Number twenty-four had a falling out with our process and was cut from the collection which left us with the stories that were graciously submitted, edited, and read (a lot). We needed a cover art as well, and while I still feel the artist could have done a bit more, I was pretty satisfied with the final product. I had all kinds of things done to make it sell and yet; anthologies rarely do incredibly well without a big name included. We released Crossroads in the Dark now known as Crossroads in the Dark I: Morality on October 31, 2015. Just six months after we went full into taking submissions for the collection.

Shortly after the release, I was already knee-deep in the creation of a new concept for a follow-up. Crossroads in the Dark II: Urban Legends was confidently pitched to the boss (Kindra), and she said to do all I wanted with it, but she was not getting involved since the first one was mediocre and a lot of work. I took on the challenge with my new title of Submissions Manager, to add to the growing list of those who were helping us back then. So, all submissions came directly to me, and I read them myself, and if I was on the fence, I handed it off to one of the other staff members to give me an idea of where it fits in the grand scheme of things. Over 200 submissions came in. 200! Out of them, I had to narrow it down to under fifty and try to scope it out from there. I settled on thirty-five and offered contracts to all of them. Three had subbed their story to someone else and got accepted, so I let that go quickly, and two wanted a lot of money for an advancement that I was not willing to do at the time. So, we had the stories that many more have read, and hopefully enjoyed. We released the book shortly after final edits were complete with tiny snags. There are thirty-two stories, by thirty-two different authors. The book was huge and as a result, had to be priced higher to make distribution happier. The price has since come down some but not as much as I would like to see. Every single person who read all the stories involved has loved each one.Including “The Spirited Children” by S.L. Kerns

In 2015, just before the end of the year, I announced: Crossroads in the Dark III: Monsters Under Your Bed for charity. We were going to give all the profits to Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome research in the name of someone who helped BWP get off its proverbial feet and consequentially suffers from this daily.  I was at the helm again with the subs coming directly to me; we got a great set of stories from only BWP established authors, for the first time. We did not open this one to the public since so many who know Tracey wanted to help. We ended up with over twenty stories when it was all edited, and finalized. When I wrote the dedication to Tracey in the inside of the book, I think I had tears in my eyes. She has been a big supporter of our works, and she was our first editor who had to leave us not due to a misunderstanding or falling out but because her illness was keeping her worn down. To date, this one was the first one I did as a labor of love, and the staff donated all the time that went into it. I did not expect that. I did not ask them to do it. They just offered. I sent Tracey the first proof of the book via snail mail, and she called me, crying because she saw the dedication inside and then the words that I inscribed for her alone. I call that a job that was well done regardless of how many it sells. We released it in November of 2016.With B-horror fun in “Ugly as Sin” by S.L. Kerns

In 2017, I was heading up the entire flow of the business side of things for BWP mostly alone. Kindra had decided to get her Master’s degree, and so, she was not available as much as I needed her to be. In that time, we – mostly me – decided to create Crossroads in the Dark IV: GHOSTS where the theme was all about ghosts, either paranormal entities or the spirits of your past. I read a lot of stories and only one rejection. It was later included after a few revisions by the author. After three years of doing these anthologies, I decided I needed to write one as well, and I even convinced Kindra to submit one for us as well. Mine is the last of the regular stories included, and it was written anonymously, sent to three trusted staff members, and two editors before I added it. Some of the staff knew who wrote it by the story itself but some did not. All unanimously agreed it should be included, which sparked my renewed interest in writing again.S.L. Kerns’ “Butterflies in the Killing Fields” is partially true and entirely dark

You see, I was not always a publishing monster, I was once one of the celebrated authors out there and thankfully, nothing from my past is available in internet searches any longer. That person died a few years ago. We released Crossroads IV in 2018 with a vast pool of anticipation where everyone involved wanted it for all of their friends too. The theme was not just about ghosts but also included the idea that we are never truly alone. We decided that the anthology would become a charity for Suicide Prevention and Awareness. That hit home for many of the authors who contributed. All of us, the readers, writers, humans, have been touched by suicide in one way or another. Some have contemplated and others, like myself, have tried and should have succeeded many times over, but a ghost was keeping me safer from the inner demons which I still fight often.

Right after the release of Ghosts I started accepting submissions from our authors in our first “mostly” science-fiction anthology, Crossroads in the Dark V: Beyond the Borders. Let me tell you, gentle reader, the stories submitted in this one is by far the freshest in my mind, and a few stand out among them as being favorites in the editing staff, but all of them are fantastic. Well-written, masterpieces if you will. From story one to the end, it’ll entertain. This particular anthology was released Wednesday, April 24th in print with the Kindle version coming out April 27th.E-book is only 99 cents at the time of this posting, including “Myxt Up Minds,” S.L. Kerns

One thing is for certain, I have certainly learned how to create an anthology, and with the help of our staff here at BWP, we will continue to create them, along with the collaboration efforts with L. Bachman whose Southern Fried Autopsies was dedicated to the hungry in America and produced by Burning Willow Press. She has learned a few things along the way as well, I’m sure.S.L. Kerns mixes some of his youthful days into all-out horror in “Rituals of a Wild Species”

Overall, the anthology series we have produced, Crossroads in the Dark has been one of my favorite things to set my mind to do. Short-stories are things we can tell around campfires in the summer, around the fireplace in the winter, on autumn nights when Halloween is about to set in, and even in the spring at cookouts around the world so why not share them? And if the book you just bought was for a charitable organization, hey, good karma on you for helping your fellow inhabitants of this planet in some way. We spend so much time wrapped up in our own world’s sometimes that we forget that others need help and are too afraid to ask for it. Burning Willow Press was founded on the principles that every author deserves a chance, and no tale should ever be forgotten. So with that in mind, I will close by saying this: all stories need telling, the difference between yours and the person experiencing the same thing right next to you, or telling the same story is simple, it’s YOUR story. So write it, and write it well. After all, it’s all about the story. See you at the Crossroads.  

With warmest regards,

 

Edd Sowder

Executive Vice-President, Chief of Operations

Burning Willow Press

 

To find any of the anthologies listed above, follow this: smarturl.it/aznbwp and enjoy the new adventures.

 

A teaser for CROSSROADS IN THE DARK V, with these stories and many more:

“Grandpa’s Glasses” by Cindy Johnson: A young woman helps her grandmother go through her deceased grandfather’s possessions, helping her decide what to do with everything. She discovers many things about her grandfather from the contents of a couple of boxes. The most interesting find is a pair of antique wire-rimmed glasses, and they are given to her as a keepsake. After trying them on, she discovers there was more to her grandfather than any of them ever knew, including a very dark side.

“The Cockroaches of the Universe” by Kerry Alan Denney: A spacefaring species searches the stars for other intelligent species. What they find is . . . disgusting. 🙂

“Like Clockwork” by Veronica Smith: Nina is about to turn 16 and knows her life will change. She doesn’t yet know what the future will bring. But something gives her the strength to make it this long. That’s the one thing that gives her true joy, true happiness. The will to live. And it always arrives on time; like clockwork.

“The Mud Man” by Donna Marie West: When Victoria Booth is summoned to consult on an archaeological dig in northern Canada, she expects to see the usual bits of soapstone carvings, bone jewellery, and obsidian tools. Maybe a pictograph or two, if she’s lucky.

She has never been more wrong.

“GLORK” by David Johnson: Humanity is contacted by a successful, warlike space species that desires to become more peaceful and be welcoming of its star neighbors. Ambassador Glork visits Earth with his body guards and becomes dedicated to Christianity. Things happen.

“Beyond the City Lights” by Nikki Collins-Mewha: Going into somewhere he knows he should not be, a small boy uncovers a secret about the City where he has grown up. A friendly light in the darkness guides him to his past, and everyone’s future.

“Raid” by Nikki Collins-Mewha: For a Shade Operative of the Counterintelligence and Information Suppression Corps the mission should have been a simple one, break into a immense building to collect supplies. Easy enough, on paper at least. However, there are things that are unimaginable to the intellect, to a human one at least.

 “Red Dust” by Nikki Collins-Mewha: Owned by the richest family in the Combine, the colossal liner lost in space one hundred and fifty years ago would have a vault containing many valuable treasures. It is every salvagers dream, the contract to locate her. But for Alece Ximantel, captain of the Cascade Fall, it might make his nightmares a reality.

“Myxt Minds” by S.L. Kerns: Myxt, an alien/human hybrid, is awakened on his cruiser with a bloblike being on his head, a pterock. How it came to be plugged into his mind and controlling his every move is a deeper story with lots of surprises. How he can get rid of it is another.

Observations #02

Observations

Japan #02

04/17/2019

Older than Jesus (2,000 years). More ancient than Buddha (2,500 years). The Camphor tree I visited today really raises a glass toward doubting Creationism. This natural beauty was approximately 3,000 years old–half the life of Earth?

While its age was impressive there was another more aesthetically pleasing 2,600-year-old tree that steals the vivid memories of the day. It stood on wobbly knees in the center of Ōyamazumi Shrine, the landscape surrounding it that earthy brown of dirt, under stone columns and before the orange beams of the shrine itself. In the center of the trunk, there was a hollowed out hole.

I told my daughter Totoro lived there, and her eyes lit up. Recently she has been a big fan and my wallet is starting to suffer for it. That matters little when I see joy stretch across her face.

This shinto shrine houses gods believed to protect sailors and soldiers, and holds 80% of the Natural Treasury’s collection of samurai armor and weapons; including a sword that dates back to 950, and one that weights 5kg. Several samurai once frequented these grounds. Notably, Tsuruhime was a 16-year-old “samurai princess” who lost her two brothers in battle, her father to illness and then lead her clan to victory and battle in the 1500s. But her life fell to tragedy after her fiancé also perished in battle; she shortly took her own life. A death of bravery and honor in this culture’s traditional views.

It was on the drive home that my cousin visiting from Thailand forgot her phone in Lawson, a convenient store. We quickly made a U-turn and I raced inside to check the restroom she had used.

Nothing.

The lanky Lawson staff met my lost gaze, and asked, “Wasaremono?” Forgot something?

I said Yes and he proceeded to ask about the item in question. “China phone?”

Not mine. I possessed little knowledge of the phone’s design but vaguely recalled the color.

Alas, I received the Huawei smartphone, thanked the staff and the man who had handed it in.

This happy-ending tale is common in Japan. Generally, people do not steal or take advantage of the distraught from my own observations. I have a few more stories to back up this theory that will eventually surface in later blogs.

I wondered if back on American soil the same thing would happen. I want to believe it might, but feel not nearly as assuredly as here in Japan, where socialized healthcare has us all living pretty comfortably. No one I have met seems desperate to pay bills, or trade in health for fear of debt. Welfare is not being stripped away and causing blind astonishment at the rise in drug dealers. When you lose your home, or can’t feed your family despite your best efforts, really, what else is there to do? Here, when I am sick, I go to the doctor. Back home that’ll cost you. And our current leaders show no logical plan on improving this; few have since Reagan sold us out after seemingly deciding there was money to be made from the healthcare system; then went on to defund Social Security, Medicaid, and so on.

Meanwhile in Japan: Having a baby? No worries. The government pays you!

This idea of socialized healthcare scares a fair share of folks back home, afraid someone will take and waste their hard-earned cash; which is a legit concern but from what I see this is by far the better way to go. And the percentage lost is hardly bank-breaking (certainly muchos cheaper than hospital bills or being turned away because you don’t have the right kind of insurance) but goes along way in the sharing pot. I’m not asking anyone to surrender their judgements. Or that changes can happen overnight. I’m asking to make demands, and get started on fixing the issues that plague us. Do the research. Keep an open mind. Travel. Travel. Travel.

Want to be a true patriot? Give (back) to thy neighbor. Insist the government take care of the people and let the people also care for one another. 4 years here–and 24 back home–is enough proof for me to detect a few of the flaws and benefits of such systems. The benefits of socialized healthcare over privatized wins by a landslide.

I will venture out and absorb whatever experiences possible. Re-evaluate the glorified capitalist system. Make my own judgement. I for one feel the usual powers that be will never use their tax cuts to bail us out when the bills are overdue and our breadwinners are out sick.

To wrap a bow on my experience: I am reminded by all this to be like the ancient Camphor tree. To stand tall over the years and keep breathing into the world around me as much freshness and purity as my ever-aging body can muster.

Observations #01

Observations

JAPAN #01

04/16/2019

Yesterday. Emotions mixed like they were tossed in the blender on a low setting, getting things done but savoring the minutes. I stood with several other tourists in front of Genkan Dome, a once industrial promotion hall of Hiroshima prefecture.

We all know how that changed.

At 8:15am on August 6th 1945 the A-bomb missed its mark but succeeded (?) in its mission. Though the deaths of innocents is not something I wish to refer to as “success.” Standing there with this destroyed structure among many smiling, and a few somber, visitors from around the globe, I couldn’t help but feel like I should apologize for the whole war.

I am American. We may have not picked the fight. It doesn’t change that we were a part of the horror. Soaking up the history, trying to understand what took place, made it clear: war is never the answer.

I hope our leaders know that. I doubt if they do.

The innocence in my daughter’s smile kept me strong. I have to be the change I wish to see in the world. For her. But I cannot do it alone. In my opinion, we are still in rough times. But I know the hope is in the young. Each passing generation has more tolerance, the doors of the mind are opening wider, they travel more, make friends from various parts of the world.

I, too, made acquaintance with a family from Belgium as they talked to my 22-month-old girl while she sang Whitney Houston’s rendering of “I Will Always Love You” to a mocking dog in a souvenir shop in Kurashiki.

Then after the sadness of Genkan Dome, we ferried to Miyajima and saw the stunning Itsukushima shrine. This was in stark contrast. Brightly colored in the orange we often associate with Buddhism and on the sea with deer roaming around, herons in the water and several happy people from places I have probably never heard of, well, it told me I was at the right place. Living for experience.

In the end that’s all I will have. So I had better get it while the getting is good.

My final picture of the day was of a crow in front of sunset and it captured the day well.

Two Covers Revealed

Lynn Lesher has outdone herself with two amazing covers, coming at you from Edd and Kindra Sowder of Burning Willow Press.

Here look:

“Butterflies in the Killing Fields” is pressed between this haunting art, amongst many talented authors, such as Kerry Alan Denney.

“Butterflies” finds an American backpacker in Cambodia. While missing his daughter back home, and fighting his depression about her mother who left him, he seeks history. His own ancestors were victims of the genocide brought on but Pol Pot in the 70s. But this backpacker discovers more than he bargain for at The Killing Fields.

And here:

IMG_1826.JPG

“Rituals of a Wild Species” is more than a southern horror tale; it is a criticism of the crazy shit people do to celebrate life’s milestones. When a young band set out for a night of unforgettable fun on the singer’s 21st, they learn a valuable lesson. Question is: will they survive the terror around them and make the changes within?

I Hear Reviews A-Comin…

I’ll let the readers do the talking in this post, but do want to say how flippin’ much I appreciate you taking time to share your opinions on my work.

So far better than expected.

They say the rocketship of being a writer doesn’t land in the literary world until you get a one star review, but right now I am soaring among the stars.

It’s (a)Live

My book is up on Amazon and selling well. I hope you buy a paperback and enjoy the free download for Kindle. Or you could just buy the one for Kindle. Many of my subscribers have freebies coming their way this week.

If you decide to purchase copy, be warned of scammers, such as the folks hocking it at around 30 bucks. It is a great collection. I should know, I wrote the thing. Be that as it may, it can be yours for less than 8 dollars.

Exhibit A:

And please leave a review on Amazon, good or bad, identified or anonymous. More reviews mean more exposure of my book from the powers of Amazon.

Thank you and happy reading.