A World At War Just Like It Was Yesterday: HAWSER – A Review

BOOK | FICTION | LITERARY
HAWSER by J Hardy Carroll
RATING: ★ ★ ★ ★

To one who considers some of his favorite literary works to be those about World War II – SLAUGHTERHOUSE FIVE and CATCH 22 being the obvious ones – the war seems to be very present for me, when in fact it is now eighty years in our past. With it now so far removed from us, and with the space filled in by so many countless other wars, it really is quite an accomplishment that author J Hardy Carroll was able to bring the period back to us in such a vivid and entertaining way.

HAWSER, our selection for Volume 3 of the Indie Author Book Selection & Review (IABS&R), is a finely weaved, fascinating tale of Hawser (don’t bother asking him his real name) as he recounts his time as a B-17 bombardier during the Allies’s bombing campaign against the Germans.

We meet Hawser in a prisoner of war camp and it is from there he recounts for us all that has happened to him in the war before that point. We learn how he washed out as a pilot to become a bombardier, how he had to abandon his unit because of a murder, how he was abandoned as a child, how he met his arch nemesis, how he became trained in subversive warfare, how he became an expert bombardier, how he became burnt out and disillusioned by the war, and finally, how he tragically became a Nazi prisoner. From there we pick things back up from the present time in the story and we go along with him until the book’s conclusion.

Within that very rough sketch that I just laid out of the novel, there are so many – too many some may argue – different plot twists and sub plots filled with suspense and murder and love and passion and discovery and deceit along the way that several times throughout the course of my reading the book I had to stop to marvel at Carroll’s ability to manage it all so seamlessly and with such intrigue, all the while bringing out some of the larger and more poignant lessons learned from the war: mainly of the incalculable death and psychological and material devastation that the war wrought across the entire globe, as well as teaching us – or reminding us – that war isn’t always honorable and that not all people go to war to be heroes…some go to war simply because they want to kill.

And I was equally impressed with all the military and war jargon with which Carroll was able to flavor the story. It it his description of the B-17s and all their guns and ammunition and flight formations, and his knowledge of England during the war and its pastoral settings and its pubs and its quirky dialects that truly bring the story to life. Now I don’t know how much research Carroll had to do – my guess is a lot – and I don’t know how much of the detail he writes in the story is accurate – my guess is all of it – but I don’t really care. I don’t care because it all seems so real and so accurate that it significantly enhanced the story’s ability to pull me into that zen-like space of blissful verisimilitude.

In the end, the only flaws to be found with the book are in its ambition and achievement. At times the sub plots pull back the tempo of the story and I never really felt that there was that one thing, that one element of the story that had enough heft to bring an immediacy, an urgency of discovery, from the beginning to the end of the tale. But I see that more as a good problem for an Indie Author to have, as it is always better to have too much material to work with than not enough.

So I say congratulations and thank you to J Hardy Carroll for writing such a powerful story that both entertains and reminds us just how much effort and expense throughout history we silly humans have invested in our seemingly never ending quest to kill and conquer each other.


Hawser

jhardycarroll.com

 

~~~~

RATING SYSTEM:
★ = UNREADABLE
★ ★ = POOR READ
★ ★ ★ = AVERAGE READ
★ ★ ★ ★ = OUTSTANDING READ
★ ★ ★ ★ ★ = EXCEPTIONAL READ

 
 

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THE GHOSTS OF THE EMERGENCY DEPARTMENT – A Relating to Humans Philosophical Issue

It’s been a while since I have shared a submission from the Relating to Humans feature and I so pleased to get things started again by sharing this hauntingly beautiful piece from our Philosophical Issues feature by Philip A Green.

As a quick update, on Wednesday evening we’ll have a much anticipated (certainly by me) Guest Post by author Manizha Sepas (bedvilledadventurer.wordpress.com) and next Friday evening I will post my review of our IABS&R Volume 3 pick HAWSER by author J Hardy Carroll (jhardycarroll.com).


THE GHOSTS OF THE EMERGENCY DEPARTMENT
by Philip A Green

I worked in an ER once with old wooden doors on the rooms. The patterns created by the grains in the wood became a Rorschach test for patients- some saw mountains, some saw animals, some saw nothing at all. But room nine, directly across from the trauma rooms, was different. Something in that door frightened patients.

It was the schizophrenics who first made me aware of it. God, they hated that room when the door was closed. I lost track of how many times the crash of that door being kicked open shook the department. The wall behind it had a fist sized hole from the handle punching into it. It finally reached the point where I had to make a rule, no psych patients in room nine.

I blew it off for years as a strange quirk until one morning, about three am, when I was interviewing a patient. In a sleep deprived stupor I sat on the stool next to the room nine bed, the gurney with the patient on it between the door and myself. The door was closed to give us some privacy. I was talking to the patient when the hair on the back of my neck began to rise.

There were faces in the door watching me. They wavered back and forth between a pattern in the wood and the Lost staring me down. I sat afraid, frozen in place, unable to understand what they could want from me. Finally, my patient on the gurney before me gave an awkward cough, and asked if I was ok.

That was a long time ago. I’ve moved on since then. Other ER’s, other towns, other stories. I never told anyone at work that I too, could see the faces. I’ve often wondered if a few of my nurses saw them as well. More than once during a trauma I’d catch a nurse staring off at the door on room nine across from us. The nurse and I would make eye contact, both waiting for the other to acknowledge the impossible. In the end, we never spoke of it, some things in the ER best being left alone.

The roughest part of what I do is getting out of bed each day, knowing an onslaught of suffering is barreling towards me. As I wake, so too are my patients. Perhaps we all drink coffee, sitting at our own breakfast table, chatting with our families about the day ahead.

I can’t help but think if only there were some clue, some way for me to warn them. Today is the day we will meet in the ER. Do not glance down at your phone on the way to work. Stay off Division Street. Wait, just one extra second, that’s all, just one second, before you step into the crosswalk in front of the school.

I imagine myself a ghost. Begging, pleading, screaming at them to stay home. Yet as a ghost, no one can hear me. My words have no meaning, my warnings no heed, my panic no justification. Nothing has happened yet. Today is starting out like every other day has started out, and those days were fine.

So instead we all get up, we go to work, and the day begins. I arrive at the ER, knowing my warnings have been unheeded. All I can do is prepare.

I walk through the department at the start of my shift. Airway equipment, check. Central lines, check. IV equipment, check. IV fluids, check. Room by room, item by item, I mentally touch and confirm each tool. As I see each item I make a quick practice run in my mind, so that when I need it I don’t have to think or feel. I can become pure action and resuscitation when need be.

Step by step I approach readiness, while somewhere, step by step, someone else approaches disaster. Like two planets whose gravitational fields pull them together, we begin on a collision course, gathering speed and momentum, neither of us yet aware of the other. I know a crash is coming but not who or what or where. My day is 10 hours of bracing for impact.

The buzzer on the radio squawks out through the department that a car has hit a pedestrian. The victim is unconscious on scene, rigs 7 and 12 are responding, and I know our planets are about to collide.

A hush falls over the ER as we listen to the call. They are on scene now, it’s bad. The victim is a child. She is critically injured. The car was speeding through a school zone. The quiet ding of a cell phone text has once again changed the course of the universe.

The medic phone rings and through the chaos and the static of the call there is only one thing I hear- the shakiness of the medic’s voice. ETA two minutes, he says, extensive facial trauma, chest trauma, maybe a collapsed lung. IV established, patient being bagged, not intubated.

My job now is to drain the department of all emotion. I become a human black hole. We cannot afford to feel. A child is dying. Feeling is for later. Now, we must focus. We must move. But we must not feel, or we will lose focus and fail.

My voice is calm, business like. As if we are getting a shipment of broken computer parts that require nothing more than reassembly in our shop. Part A will attach to Part B will attach to Part C. Nothing more.

I sound confident and ready, even to my own ears. It’s so convincing I almost believe it. Yet inside I feel it. The sheer terror. There’s no other word. The faces in the door of room nine show up in force for the show. They stare out at us, watching, observing, grading us. I try to ignore them as I prepare myself to once again bear witness to the horror of life tearing apart before me.

I take in a deep breath and push it down. Somehow I find a little space left inside to cram some more suffering. I shove one more round of fear into it, knowing at some point it’s going to break, but hopefully not today, not now.

We scramble to get the trauma room ready. There is motion everywhere. People run. Voices shout back and forth. Tubes are prepared, drugs are drawn up, machines are wheeled about through the department. Bright yellow gowns and blue gloves are handed out like bullets and helmets before a battle.

Everyone knows their role. The techs prepare the monitors and gurney. The nurses draw up meds one by one, laying the drug filled syringes out on the counter in a row, ready for whatever the enemy throws at us. Pastoral services arrive with a Bible. I stand off to the side, my head racing through protocols, doses, tube sizes, and back up plans. There is an excited buzz in the air as we prepare. Then it happens. We achieve readiness.

A silence settles over the room like a lens focusing us into existence. Nothing moves. Each of us alive and vivid and real and anxious and excited and terrified at what’s coming. The colors of the room seem brighter, my friendships with the nurses feel stronger, my mind feels sharper as I breathe air that suddenly feels cleaner. I can feel my heart in my chest, my hands, my skin, every part of me.

The medics come crashing through the door, CPR in progress, and once again motion returns. As they roll into the trauma room time slows. I focus all of my being onto the child sprawled on the stretcher before me. She is twisted and broken like a flower that has been stomped part way down into the soil. I know this battle has been lost before I even touch my stethoscope to her blood-covered chest.

The next several minutes are holy and private and terrible. And they shall remain that way forever. That is the one small power that I do have. Suffice it to say there is another face that stares out from the door in room nine, watching, waiting, perhaps remembering.

Weeks later, months later, years later, her face comes to me. I will be camping alone in the desert, as far from another human being as I can get. The door of room nine will rise in my mind, and I can feel the faces out here with me.

The desert, the stars, the heat, the desolation, the emptiness are not enough to keep them away. They follow me everywhere. That womb of stuffed down fear and horror inside me has to give birth eventually somewhere in my life.

I stare into my small campfire, the smoke twisting like ghosts rising to the night above. I wonder. Do the stars know? Does God know? Does the dirt know? What is this place, this life, this brief flash of light before we fall back into the darkness again from which we arose?

I watch the fire dance and the smoke rise for hours. The faces sit with me. I can feel it. They too wonder at it all. Finally, my fire burns out, the smoke stops, and the sun rises. In two days I have to go back to work. But now I understand.

The faces will always be with me.

Waiting. Watching. Making sure that I’m never alone when the next trauma comes.

philipallengreen.com

 
 

A Poetic Response to our Occult Relationship with the Vegetable as found in “Nature” by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson

The greatest delight which the fields and woods minister, is the suggestion of an occult relation between man and the vegetable. I am not alone and unacknowledged. They nod to me, and I to them. The waving of the boughs in the storm, is new to me and old. It takes me by surprise, and yet is not unknown. Its effect is like that of a higher thought or a better emotion coming over me, when I deemed I was thinking justly or doing right.

Give me the Forest

give me the forest
the whispers
the wind

where only the keening call of the morrow
dare break the sacred calm of the sylvan now

the ritual of the soaring hum

give me the forest
the neglected
the free

where there are no rules
but the rooting scrawls of the cloven beast
unearthing pagan creeds
blasphemous guides to the dark
to the place where all the fears are found

all the magic

give me the forest
the sanctified
the holy

where the haunted howls of midnight
call to worship
to prayer
all the pious and profane

all the naked unbelievers who mock the baptismal of the moon

give me the forest
the ancient
the eternal

where the tattered persona is stripped away
ripped away and hung from the treetops
desperate semaphore signals for the dire

the damned

where the anima dances on fresh laid graves
sodden with tears of the holy

the helpless

 

Let’s give it a go, shall we…

I wasn’t planning on committing myself to another IABS&R round just yet; however, I made the mistake of picking up Indie Author J. Hardy Carroll’s novel HAWSER to casually leaf through it during a rare fit of nothing-to-do-ness. Well, you know how it goes – one thing page led to another and before I knew it I was hooked. Carroll gives us a very strong opening that pulled me right into the vibe of the story.

So, since there’s not much chance that I am not going to read Carroll’s book, we might as well go ahead and make it all official-like and call this the official IABS&R VOLUME 3 KICK-OFF post and away we go…

Any books that mysteriously appear in my post office box henceforth will be shelved until we complete this round and move on to IABS&R Volume 4.

I know, I know…I still have essays to write from my first commitment to Emerson. But, as I am not going to do any further Emerson reading until I feel I’ve said all I have to say about Nature, I am in need of something to read (other than the gore and bore of the daily news) so Carroll’s apparently interesting novel fills that void nicely.

If anyone else has reviewed or intends to review HAWSER, please let me know. I’d like to check it out and maybe reblog it here.

Righto, then. Off I go…

Wish me luck!

(It better be good, JHC…)
 

Hawser-bookcover

IABS&R Volume 3 Announcement
hawesescapes.com
Amazon

 
 

theliteraryreader ~ Reviews of the written word

Our good friend in literature and life, Paul Xylinides, author of the powerful and finely crafted novel THE WILD HORSES OF HIROSHIMA, among other works, has taken on the noble challenge of standing up a literary review site that I encourage each of you to visit regularly and enjoy.

The site is called theliteraryreader ~ Reviews of the written word and you can find it at theliteraryreader.com.

So please join me in congratulating Paul on this new adventure of his and thank him for furthering the recognition and advancement of the written word.

Congratulations, Paul, and may you enjoy a success such that we all may be rewarded and enlightened by it.
 

theliteraryreader

book-cover-sea-trials-300x450

The Sea Trials of an Unfortunate Sailor by Kurt Brindley

Review by Paul Xylinides

paul_picture_03

Kurt Brindley joins forces with Herman Melville

Before I begin this review, let me first recommend to anyone whom it persuades to read The Sea Trials of an Unfortunate Sailor, that after doing so they further benefit themselves by looking again at their copy of Herman Melville’s Billy Budd, Sailor that I shall, however, quote from extensively. Kurt Brindley’s accomplishment should come into even greater focus when looked at through the lens of the nineteenth century classic novel.

Anyone who has ever experienced the injustice of being condemned by those who characterize their sensitivities in ways fundamentally at odds with their true identity will respond deeply to the travails of Kurt Brindley”s protagonist in The Sea Trials of an Unfortunate Sailor. From a tellingly different perspective the same fate befalls Melville’s hero. One cannot help but…

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A Meditation on an Introduction’s Opening Passage as found in “Nature” by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Our age is retrospective. It builds the sepulchres of the fathers. It writes biographies, histories, and criticism. The foregoing generations beheld God and nature face to face; we, through their eyes. Why should not we also enjoy an original relation to the universe? Why should not we have a poetry and philosophy of insight and not of tradition, and a religion by revelation to us, and not the history of theirs?

Here we find Ralph Waldo Emerson, in the opening passage of his introduction to his seminal essay “Nature,” bemoaning the distance he and his generation are from anything Original and True as compared to preceding generations. As he sees it, only through the firsthand experiences and the tales of our forefathers and foremothers have we been able to learn our life’s lessons and traditions. The gleaming highest highs our civilizations are able to reach are only because of the solid foundations built from and with Nature’s sacred mud by the caring and calloused hands of those to whom have gone before us and who now uplift us still.

If the great Emerson, a transcendental man, perhaps the Transcendental Man as he was in possession of a most extraordinary ability to focus and perceive that which the eye of most mortals miss, is shocked by such a revelation, then it seems to this less-than-transcendental and exceedingly mortal man just how far we find our present selves from those God beholding foregoing generations would bring about the death of fright to such a perceptive and feeling man as he.

And it is not just a distance in generational time I am referring to, but also, mostly, a distance in understanding, as perhaps the same could be said of Emerson’s meaning; though as far as he felt his generation was from an understanding of the Original and True, just how much farther away from understanding we of the present are is too hard for me to imagine.

Just what does our generation know of Nature? of God? of the Universe? Just how many more countless sepulchres have we built and how many more countless biographies have we written? Surely we know greatly of nature and of god and of the universe through the words and misdeeds of our spawning and splintering sects and religious disorders, and through the kaleidoscopic lens and the equations of the material, the physical, carried out to the farthest nth of a degree, accessible to only but a few of our most scientific of brains. Yea, ours is but a weak and plastic generation with hardly one of us finding even a germ under the nail let alone a fleck of sacred earthen mud, so far removed from Nature and Her Elements are we.

Like the everlasting trees
Of the most symbolic

Our ancients bare green before us
Full in their lustrous branches
Roots firmed in their foundation
While with the passing breeze
Our limbs naked and thin
We waive

Lo! but look at me. Look at me, me with my naked, thin limbs waiving away my right of birth to ancient spirits more alive long dead than I whose blood still courses hot will every be. I whose blood still courses hot but whose heart has grown cold and without passion for the Original, the True. I lie content each night having yet let another day slip away without once baring my feet and stepping into the grass; without once feeling the raw moonglow on my rusty skin.

But it wasn’t always so. I wasn’t always so distant from the Original and the True. And neither were you, for we were all born of and from the Original and of the True. It is who, in essence, I am and who you are.

We just forgot, that’s all.

We just allowed each passing day to take us farther and farther from who we were born to be.

So much time has
passed since then,
since I last felt raw
moonglow on
my rusty skin,
that I have forgotten
how the breath of night
can upturn a sallow face.

Long ago,
when I could still remember
how to pause,
and how to listen,
and how to breathe,
for more reasons
than just to breathe,
I knew fields
and wood,
and calico aster;
I knew how to kneel,
and how to observe,
and how to bring myself to quiet.

And I knew,
without knowing,
that if I lay
on my back
beneath the reeds
and remained hushed,
as night clouds
floated by,
shadowed and silent,
that my Self
would simply fall
away.

Step Into the Grass, an excerpt
from Poems from the River

As romping youth we did not have to be told how to meditate, how to pray. We just knew. We had no need for such technical terms as spirituality or epiphany or satori, for it was in our unknowing that we were able to truly know them. And now that we know them, we know nothing.

I suppose the question is, then, can we return to our essence? Can we, in our knowledge and understanding, return to the bliss of ignorance, to the wisdom of youth, so that we can come back again, if even just a little closer, to the Original and True.

Are we able to do that, knowing what we know?

Tonight
I’ll bare my feet
and step old and aching
into the caliginous balm
of the cool redemptive night.


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A Meditation on a Title and an Introductory Poem as found in “Nature” by Ralph Waldo Emerson

A subtle chain of countless rings
The next unto the farthest brings;
The eye reads omens where it goes;
And speaks all languages of the rose;
And, striving to be man, the worm
Mounts through all the spires of form

Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

Too often I’ll show little regard to introductions and read through them with hardly reading them at all, my eyes skimming dismissively over the words in an effort to get to “the true essence” of the work. However, as I have resolved to not just read, but to read deeply the work of Ralph Waldo Emerson, I have to remember, then, that care needs to be given to each of the words that Emerson had specifically chosen to pen, as he had entrusted each chosen word to convey its part of a broader message that he had, himself, intended to convey. So it is with care and attention that I proceed.

~~~~

Other than the title, the above poem is our first encounter with the essay “Nature,” the first piece presented in The Complete Essays and Other Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson; and, consequently, the first commitment to that which I have resolved myself. But before considering the poem, we mustn’t overlook the essay’s title; for, from it, we can focus more clearly on the meaning of the poem specifically, as well as the body of work writ large.

Hardly can there be a title broader in meaning than “Nature,” for the word encompasses so much: the essence of the Natural Environment – all within the world and all the worlds within the universe; the essence of the Human Environment – all that which the mind thinks and the body feels; as well as the Environment of the Animal, which may or may not include humans, depending on one’s belief. Though broad and ambiguous, it is full of meaning, as any title should be, as it prepares our minds for all the largesse and grandeur that both Nature, Herself, and the mind and poetic ambition of Emerson can account for. The title, therefore, helps us greatly in our discovery, in that it prepares us to read both the poem and the essay with a universal and open mind, where metaphors and allusions are to be found with meaning, and meaning more.

The poem, itself an introduction to the introduction, is both untitled and unattributed. Often we find authors will select poems and quotes from others, mostly those recognized by history as being of the elite authorial class, as a preface or opening to his or her work. These introductions in brief are generally an attempt to provide a broad look into the author’s mind and, hopefully, to the direction that his or her writing will be taking us. However, as it is untitled, and as Emerson’s reputation precedes his work, for he, himself, is regarded by many to be an elite author, it is easy enough to assume that the poem is an original piece by him. Still, the poem remains untitled, which only means that we will have to rely more heavily on its content, looking closely at each sentence and the words within for us to gain of it our fullest appreciation. So with the poem, let us begin.
 

A subtle chain of countless rings / The next unto the farthest brings;

Right away, the poem’s “subtle chain” announces that in the essay, as in Nature, we should expect revelations of mysteries linked yet boundless; simple in form, perhaps, yet complex and profound in meaning. For the “subtle” or simple chain, a common yet powerful metaphorical device, enlightens us with its “countless rings” – its circles of life – by alluding to the eternal fact that Nature in all her majesty enjoins all together in common constituency within her universal realm, from the most diminutive to the most grand, “unto the farthest brings” – to the infinite’s endless end.

The eye reads omens where it goes;

Sad would be the soul who hasn’t walked even the shortest way into the wood or out into the empty, expansive field, to where everything slows down to quiet and allows one to hear Nature’s call, be it through the creaking sway of the trees or the hum of the wind upon the grass. For once where She Her presence reveals, so, too, will Her omens, signs signalling the nature of our Collective and Universal Soul through the mundane: acorns scattered on the wooded floor signals life’s endless cycle of birth and death, as the mist of the passing clouds signals the transformative and transient nature of life itself.

And speaks all languages of the rose;

While not all of us speak the same language, we all can look at the rose and equally understand its beauty. And, regardless of all the many different ways we may express it in words, we all have that same feeling of awe and humility as we arrive at that deep and soulful understanding of just how small our presence is when looking up towards that grand vastness above filled with its countless twinkling diamonds of light.

And, striving to be man, the worm / Mounts through all the spires of form

The line suggests that the worm in its striving is emulating our behavior; however, I read it as further suggesting that from the worm’s behavior we have learned to strive, from the worm we have evolved, and as the worm forever works through all forms of nature – be it the soil, the wood, the apple – to realize its true nature, we, too, forever work “through all spires of form” – be they the physical or metaphysical – continuous “unto the farthest brings,” as do links of an endless “subtle chain,” in a most noble and enduring of effort to realize our own true nature.

~~~~

With this meditation on a one-word title and one-sentence poem we discover that, while both may appear simple in form, both hold complex and profound messages that are, we must assume, a herald’s call as to the further complexities and profundities that await us.


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Paul Xylinides, a literary fiction author in the classical sense for our less than literary contemporary times – A Review

BOOK | FICTION | LITERARY
THE WILD HORSES OF HIROSHIMA
by Paul Xylinides
RATING: ★ ★ ★ ★

I could have spent the time writing this review of Indie Author Paul Xylinides’s novel The Wild Horses of Hiroshima comparing and contrasting it with other similar works of literary fiction, or I could have attempted to apply the story’s highly powerful, poignant theme against the larger social and political woes of our time, but I am not going to do any of that, at least not as fully as I would had this been a typical review of mine. I’m not going to because if I had it would have meant that too much focus would have been on my knowledge of other such similar books or other such woeful contemporary issues rather than focusing on why Xylinides is so important to the Indie Author movement, as I believe he just may be the author who proves in a most definitive way that literary fiction of the highest sort does not have to be blessed and published exclusively by the traditional literary gatekeepers of days gone by.

My Kindle account is cluttered to near capacity with books I have downloaded from my partake of the many, many Indie Author giveaway promotions that are always going on. Unfortunately, I am sorry to have to say, I am unable to finish most of these books that I attempt to read. The reasons are many but it all boils down mostly to the books being either poorly edited or without a compelling story. There is so much Indie Author detritus out there, perhaps even including the work of yours truly, that it can become disheartening to even the most fervid believers of the Indie Author movement. But I am one of those fervid believers, and it is because of this belief that I host the Indie Author Book Selection & Review. The IABS&R is my means to help me find the best that the movement has to offer and a medium for which to share these finds with as many readers as possible.

I am very happy to have found Xylindes’s work and even happier share my high regard of it with all of you.

When I read a book with the intent to review, I always read with pen and notebook at hand, for one way I make judgement of the work is by highlighting the good and bad of it — the good with the marks of stars and exclamation points and the bad with the marks of strike throughs and question marks. Regardless the book I read, whether it’s published independently or traditionally, it always receive markups of both kinds, with the indie published books typically having way more of the bad kind than the good.

However, Xylinides’s book had so many stars cluttering the margins that it became a pointless endeavor. His ability to craft a sentence is magical. And they are some of the best I have ever read. The way he describes the scenery below and the mental reflections of the pilot as he observes it from above, just moments before he drops upon it the bomb that forever changes our view of warfare and of ourselves, is both heartrendingly tragic and breathtakingly beautiful all at once. And then his description of the impact of the explosion and the death and damage it causes moved me such that I had to put the book down for a while in order to collect myself. Those are just two examples of such fine craftsmanship found all throughout the book. This highly evocative read at times channeled in me the feelings I had of when first reading something along the lines of a Flaubert or a Balzac.

You may be reading this zealous, perhaps even overzealous, promotion of Xylinides’s book and wondering to yourself, if it is as good as Brindley says it is, then why only four stars? Why not five?

Good question. As good as the book is, it is not perfect. Most books aren’t. In fact, if I remember correctly, there is only one five-star review that I’ve written. And where Xylinides’s book succeeds, it is also where it, while not failing, at least causes enough disturbance in my appreciation of it to knock it down a star.

What I appreciate most from a good read is not its crafty sentences but its ability to take me away from reality for long periods of time. What is most critical for me when reading is attaining that Zen-like place of verisimilitude. The longer a book is able to hold me within that heavenly zone of literary satori, the more overcome by and appreciative of it I will be when finished. The truth is, Xylinides’s writing was so impressive and so often so that it literally pulled me from the story because of it. And after a while, it almost felt like a distraction, as I would have to then work to get back to that inner space where the magic truly happens. Another distraction, and I almost hesitate to mention it because, compared to all the other attributes the book possesses, it may sound petty, but the lack of commas ended up being a pretty big deal to me. I believe that if there is a natural pause in the momentum of a sentence, then that is where a comma belongs. A comma’s job is to signal and allow the reader to take that natural break that the sentence is calling for. Unfortunately, Xylinides does not follow this comma convention of mine and it left many of his sentences without guideposts that are essential for fluid reading and deep comprehension. Now, I do not believe Xylinides does not understand this; I believe he does but chooses not to follow convention, perhaps as an artistic statement of some sort. His is a challenging subject that he took on as a matter of literary courage and conviction. I suspect it was not an easy challenge for him to overcome. Why then should we, the reader, have it any easier? His success in overcoming such a challenge must be ours as well. As, that for which we work hardest for is that for which we appreciate most. Still, a distraction is a distraction, regardless how artistic and stylistic it may be.

While these distractions are significant to me, they are not nearly weighty and serious enough for me to lose my faith in Xylindes’s ability pick up the guidon of our movement and hold it high as he leads us in our charge toward Publishing Independence and Literary Respect.

The Wild Horses of Hiroshima certainly ranks as some of the finest writing of the Indie Author movement; additionally, I feel very comfortable saying that it just may rank as some of the finest contemporary literary fiction being written, regardless the publisher, or lack thereof. But my opinion of the book is just one, which is why I strongly encourage all of you who are also believers and supporters of the movement to purchase this book and, if you feel as strongly about it as I do, to review it and continue to spread the word that it is truly a work to be reckoned with, as it just may be the template of success that all Indie Authors, nay, all authors, wish to attain.

 

Wild Horses of Hiroshima
paulxylinides.com

 
 

The Lowdown for the Showdown…

Well, I wouldn’t actually call my review for the IABS&R Volume 2 selection a showdown, but lowdown and IABS&R just doesn’t have the same ring to it as does lowdown and showdown…

Can you dig?

However, since I’m still a long way off from finishing the selection, which, by way of reminder, is The Wild Horses of Hiroshima by Paul Xylinides (see sidebar), a lot can happen by the time I finish it so…you never know. The review just may as well end up as a showdown.

But I wouldn’t bet on it. In fact, I strongly recommend you visit Paul’s site and check out some of things he’s got going on there. Quite interesting… As a way of introduction to his work, I strong recommend this.

And, however again, even though I am still a long way off from finishing the book, I am going to boldly announce that my review for it will be published next week at 8:00PM (EST) Friday, January 9, 2015.

Nothing like a hard and fast drop dead date (Don’t get alarmed…in the military, that’s how deadlines are referred to) to bring one to focus, if you know what I mean.

As far as the way forward for the IABS&R… Well, seeing how I am keen on putting together a short story collection, as well as many other projects I have lined up for the year (and as discussed in the latest Newsletter Love issue (which is further discussed below)), we’re going to do something a bit different for the IABS&R Volume 3. Seeing how so many of you email me requests for me to review your books, if you have a book – that is not an Erotica or Romance novel – that is well written and with a compelling story, mail me a copy of your print edition – ebooks will not be considered – and if I find one that compels me to read it even during all the other things I have going on, then I will declare it the selection for Volume 3. I’ll send out a formal announcement soon to detail it all a bit more, but consider this the kick off and go ahead and mail me your book, if you’re so inclined. My snail mail mailing address can be found at the Contact page.

So…that’s the lowdown on that.

Let’s see…what else is going on around here?

Oh yeah…the subscription rate to our Newsletter Love has picked up dramatically lately. Thank you very much to all of you who subscribe and willingly invest even more of yourself into this little thing we got going here. I am humbled by your support. I sent out a new edition… yesterday? …day before? sheesh, time just scoots right along so fast that I can’t even keep up with it anymore. Anyway, whenever it was doesn’t really matter because you can check it out at the Archives page if you’re interested (see sidebar). In it, along with my typical jibbering and a jabbering, and even more of my exasperated musings about time and its inexhaustible pace, you’ll find a little insight into my drawing/photo graphic design process. But the most important thing you’ll find in the issue, in my view, is a profile of OneBigPoet’s poem The Diner, which hails from the RELATING TO HUMANS Race Issues feature. It’s a pretty powerful piece, it is. I’m not sure when the next issue will be released but I already have something literary and interactive ideas in mind for it so you just might want to join our little salon-like space to see what’s what.

Okay…so that’s that. What else we got?

Oh yeah…speaking of the RELATING TO HUMANS feature, have you checked out what’s going on there lately? Wow, there are some mighty fine bodies of work up there. The place is booming. Once again, thank you all for investing some of yourself here. Like, Write On! And also a big thank you to all of you who have taken the time to check it out and offer up your feedback and a “Like” or two here and there. Most awesome. So keep on submitting your work and I’ll do my best to profile the best of it here and in the newsletter. We should be having a profile of one of the submissions on the blog soon, as well as a guest post by the artist involved. I’m pretty excited about it to tell you the truth… Well, everything I’ve said so far in this post has been the truth…honest.

So much cool stuff going on here…and so much more to come. Once again, thank you for your amazing support. And for the last time this year – Happy New Year! – 2015 is going to be fantastically fabulous! And that truly is the truth!

And that, my friends, is a wrap to this lowdown of a showdown.

Wait a minute…

Is it lowdown or down low?

I always get those two confused…

Wink, wink

 
 

THE WILD HORSES OF HIROSHIMA – The Big Reveal!

In my view, it’s always pretty awesome around here, especially since we kicked off the Indie Author Book Selection & Review and Relating to Humans features a while back. But this week has been especially awesome. For this week we have witnessed the original thinking, compelling insight, and unique writing style of Indie Author Paul Xylinides with his essays TOTAL WAR OR TOTAL PEACE, a Relating to Humans Political Issues contribution, and Covered in Fish Oil and Honey while Sitting in a Public Toilet, his Guest Author contribution.

And it’s quite obvious to me, and empirically so, that you all think Paul’s essays are pretty awesome, too, judging by all the “Likes” you’ve given them, and the interesting comments you’ve left in response, and, especially, by all the page views they’ve received.

I must say, I wholeheartedly concur with your assessment.

Now, admittedly, I have an occasional tendency toward hyperbole, but you can take me at my word that, after reading Paul’s interesting essays, I was very excited to receive his book THE WILD HORSES OF HIROSHIMA, the IABS&R Volume 2 selection.

And so, it is with great pleasure that I present and proudly reveal to you Paul’s donation to me, his book THE WILD HORSES OF HIROSHIMA.
Continue reading “THE WILD HORSES OF HIROSHIMA – The Big Reveal!”

The IABS&R Volume 2 Selection Is…

THE WILD HORSES OF HIROSHIMA

by Paul Xylinides

Wild Horses of Hiroshima

Before I talk about why I selected Paul’s book, I first want to say thank you to all three authors who submitted their books for this round of the IABS&R. And, truly, each of the books, with their tight, eye-catching book covers and their interesting descriptions, could have easily been my selection. And while I will be reviewing Paul’s book for this round, I can surely see myself picking up copies of the other two books and reviewing them at a later date.
Continue reading “The IABS&R Volume 2 Selection Is…”

Hands of Evil, Just Another Evil Sign of the Times – A Review

BOOK | FICTION | THRILLER
HANDS OF EVIL
by Melissa Barker-Simpson
RATING: ★ ★ ★

Hands of Evil by Ms Melissa Barker-SimpsonIt seems that in this supposed enlightened day and age in which we live that there wouldn’t be, at least there certainly shouldn’t be, so much preventable human tragedy happening as frequently as it does. On any given day at any given time you can turn on or click to any given news outlet and find tragedy in the form of human disregard toward other humans, a disregard which so frequently takes the form of hate and abuse and murder. It’s just so sad. In the States we are going through a horrible and tragic convulsion of unarmed black boys and men being gunned downed by our well-armed and very powerful and legally well-protected protectors of the state. Right alongside that, we’ve been having a steady stream of high-profile reporting of an equally egregious and tragic crime; a crime most often committed inexplicably by a husband or a boyfriend or a date; a crime seemingly endemic to society and without a cure in sight; a crime of abuse and sexual assault toward women.

And it this challenging and heartbreaking topic of abuse and sexual assault toward women that author Melissa Barker-Simpson takes on with her novel, Hands of Evil.

Overall, this story was a mostly enjoyable read, especially in the context of how it brings to light strong women who have gained and earned their strength through their own tragic travails and survival of abuse. Grace, whom I regard as the story’s protagonist (though it seems Barker-Simpson touts JJ, a stoic and manly former military special forces operator and now civilian close protection officer as the lead, as indicated by both her submission for this exercise, as well as her synopsis on the book’s back cover), sets a fine example of a strong female character, which is definitely needed in times such as now.

However, as far as being a thriller, it simply isn’t. I list it as a thriller only because that is how it was pitched to me and that is how it appears to be as written in the book’s back cover synopsis. However, other than at the beginning and the ending, and a brief moment or two spattered throughout, there isn’t much mystery or suspense, let alone thrills. The killer, for whose crimes the story is named, is not developed and his role in the story comes to a predictable conclusion long before the book ends. To me, the killer seems more to be an afterthought. The real bad guy of the story, and a character the author did a good job of developing, is Grace’s former husband. It is he who adds what little suspense and mystery there is to the story.

What this story really is is a romance novel. And, while I’m no romance novel expert, Barker-Simpson does a very good job at illustrating all the contortions and misgivings and joy and sadness that human relationships of love and hate and envy and sex entail. JJ, who has his own scars as a result of abuse, abuse inflicted not to him but to someone he loves, and Grace, who is in the middle of her own recovery from abuse, are drawn together by the actions of the killer (apparently his primary and what seems to be sole purpose in the story) and must find a way to overcome all the challenges before them for their relationship to have a chance. Now, as someone who came into the story expecting a thriller, one romance (which included not one but two sex scenes for those of you who like reading those) would have been more than enough; however, we also are given the lesser developed relationship pangs and pains of two secondary characters.

As it is, I suppose a major take-away from this review is: if you’re looking for a thriller this isn’t it; if you’re looking for a romance novel, it just may be it. And even though the story is not what I expected or hoped it to be, it succeeds most in what it needs to be, and that is as an example of a contemporary female author writing about and paying tribute to strong, contemporary women by showing them surviving and thriving in an environment often hostile and dangerous toward their very existence. An environment that is very real and very present to far too many women throughout this often petulant and perplexing planet of ours. And that example set by Melissa Barker-Simpson and her character Grace, without a doubt, is what needs to be taken away mostly from this review.

Summing Up Maugham's OF HUMAN BONDAGE

BOOK | FICTION | LITERATURE
OF HUMAN BONDAGE
by W. Somerset Maugham

RATING: ★ ★ ★ ★

W. Somerset Maugham
W. Somerset Maugham

I suppose the easiest, and quickest, way to sum up Maugham’s OF HUMAN BONDAGE would be to write something along the lines of “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation,” which is certainly the case for the story’s protagonist, Phillip Carey.

If, however, that was all I wrote, then not only would I be overly brief in this review (which probably is not a bad thing), I would also be overly unoriginal since we all know the above quote belongs to the great Henry David Thoreau.

Unfortunately, because I do not have Thoreau’s genius for writing simply (which requires skill and patience that most writers, to include me, do not possess), I will have to deploy many more words than just Thoreau’s for my own summing up of Maugham’s masterpiece.

But what Thoreau wrote so poetically is undeniably what the essence of Maugham’s story is about:

 

Carey, born with a clubbed foot and who grows up to be shy and insecure because of it, lives a life yearning to be someone he can never be, to love someone whom he can never love, and to be somewhere other than where he happens to be.

His yearnings, we find, go mostly unfulfilled.

What I enjoy most about the story is Maugham’s descriptive ability. His writing magically places me deep within the England and the Germany and the France of the early twentieth century. I can hear the cart wheels rolling along the cobble-stoned streets. I can see the crowded, smoke-filled cafe. I can taste the absinthe and feel the immediate allure and rush as it blissfully numbs away the bite of reality.

What I enjoy least about the story is Carey’s excessively drawn-out infatuation with Mildred Rogers, the cruel and insensitive simpleton who fancies herself to be of a station in life much higher than the one she is unable to escape, no matter how hard she tries. While she does not have the capacity to improve her lot in life through earnest devices and effort, she does have enough smarts about her to understand early on in her relationship with Carey that she has a power over him from which he is also unable to escape no matter how hard he tries. She uses and abuses Carey with her power so often and for so long that I found myself becoming impatient and bored with, not only Carey’s unbelievable weakness, but with the story as a whole. However, by that point, I was already deeply hooked, addicted to the tale and desperate to know whether Carey would find a way to ween himself from his deadly addiction to Rogers, or if he would die unfulfilled and, as Oliver Wendell Holmes writes in his poem “The Voiceless,” with his music still in him.

While I find the tortuous, one-sided love affair between Carey and Rogers to be a bit too much, through it I am reminded that any unhealthy dependency, be it our dependency on love, on money, on drugs, or on whatever, often takes us down a long and troubling path that, if we stay on it, will eventually lead us to the point of our destruction. And it usually is not until we nearly reach that point that we are finally able to realize just how destructive our dependency, our yearning, really is. Only then, if we are lucky or blessed or both (for unfortunately, many are unable to stop before reaching the point of their destruction and continue helplessly, fatally on), can we find the strength to separate ourselves from that which is destroying us and begin on a path to recovery.

But I guess that’s how life goes, and how it has always gone throughout the desperate ages — if we do not somehow find a way to come to peace with our satiated yearnings, our unrequited desires, they will most likely be the sad and desperate songs we sing until we finally, and at last, are placed within our cold and lonely graves.

~~~~

Rating System:
★ = Unreadable
★ ★ = Poor Read
★ ★ ★ = Average Read
★ ★ ★ ★ = Outstanding Read
★ ★ ★ ★ ★ = Exceptional Read

So here’s the plan, Stan*…

The Indie Author Book Selection & Review plan, that is.

1. My review of HANDS OF EVIL by Melissa Barker-Simpson, the IABS&R Volume 1 selection, will be published at 8:00PM** Friday, December 5, 2014.

2. Submissions for IABS&R Volume 2 will close upon publication of the HANDS OF EVIL review.

3. IABS&R Volume 2 selection will be published at 8:00PM** Monday, December 8, 2014.

4. I will loudly and proudly sing Hark the Heralds Angels Sing and Joy to the World (no, no…the Christmas song, not the Three Dog Night song!) immediately thereafter in celebration of my selection.

Which reminds me, because I know you’ve been anxiously awaiting this announcement:

The playing and singing of Christmas Music is now authorized and strongly condoned in all participating households both near and far henceforth and hereafter until 11:59PM**, Wednesday, December 31, 2014, upon which all Christmas Music playing and singing will cease until hereby authorized once again by me.

That is all.

Oh wait…if you have a book you would like to be read and reviewed here, at Amazon, and at Goodreads, I’m your man***. So get your submission in pronto.

That is all.

Dang it! I forgot to mention that I strongly urge everyone to please visit the IABS&R Volume 2 submissions that we already have and vote for your favorite(s) with a “Like.”

That is all.

Ah…S#!+!! One more thing… And don’t forget about the Relating to Humans feature. Submissions are always open for that. Please please please consider sharing some of your awesomeness with us.

Okay…

For real now…

That is all.

No, seriously…

 

*non-gender specific

**Eastern Standard Time (you know, New York City time)

***gender specific

So yeah, about that book of yours, Author…

I’m not sure, but I think I may have mentioned before that I am kind of a slow reader.

I mean, if there were a speed reading contest and if I were the last contestant and our team’s winning was dependent upon, you know, me reading fast…

Well, I think you can guess how that contest would end.

Yeah, me as the losing team’s team loser because my reading is just…that…slow…

Don’t ask me because I don’t understand it.

But apparently, I’m finding, it’s not always that slow…

Because, apparently, I’m finding, it seems that with the right word arrangement, my reading speed increases significantly.

Because I’m finding, it seems, that apparently with my Current Read, you know, HANDS OF EVIL by Indie Author Melissa Barker-Simpson, you know, the inaugural selection of the Indie Author Book Selection & Review (or IABS&R (pronounced EYEABZER (Yeah, I know…but don’t blame me because I pleaded and pleaded for someone, anyone, to come up with a better name for it…but did anyone, someone? Nope. So now here we are, stuck with the IABS&R from now until who knows when this ride will end… But you know what? It could be worse. Yeah, that’s right…it could be that NaNoWriMo bullshiitake. I can’t even write that without cracking up. Or, it could be even worse than that…oh my god I can’t stop laughing now…it could be the NaNoBloMoFoSho horrible honk of a handle. Egads!)), for short), it seems, I’m finding, that apparently she has somehow managed to arrange the words in her book in such a way that I find myself zipping right through that thriller of a thriller. I’m talking shooting down ten Red Bulls and chasing those ten with ten 5-hour Energy Shots fast like reading. I mean, I’m reading so fast it makes this guy look like a star of one of those insanely slow Slo-Mo videos.

Yeah, it’s pretty darn good book, if you know what I mean.

Which got me to thinking…heck, if we’re gonna do another IABS&R we better get crackin’ because I’m gonna be done with HANDS OF EVIL faster than you can say I hate Christmas commercials airing before Thanksgiving.

Dang, you said that pretty fast.

See what I mean? We better hurry up and get our ho ho ho hustle on then, right?

So yeah, about that book of yours, Author…

Can I read it?

If so, then please meet me over at the IABS&R Volume 2 Call for Submissions page.

Just do it, yo!

Just do it, yo!


UPDATE: Look, I get it and I’m sorry. I understand that there are forms of depression so severe that asking someone who suffers from such to do what I’m saying needs to be done in this insensitive post would be like asking a quadriplegic to hop out of her wheelchair and go for an invigorating walk (Geez, even that sounds insensitive…sigh). My sincerest apologies to those I have offended by implying that just by doing what we know needs to be done, like eating healthier and exercising, will make our lives less depressing. While it may benefit most of us, it will do little for those truly suffering. And I’m sorry if I’ve caused addition suffering. Especially since I’ve known the mental health challenges so well…both manically and a depressively. Spending a year on high doses of the steroid prednisone was quite the long strange trip. While I rarely wrote when deeply depressed, I did write like, well, a maniac when I was manic. Though I’ve taken down most of those posts I wrote when on that trip, I left a couple up and added them to the “mental health” category if you’re interested. Again. I’m sorry. I should have known better.


 

A couple of days ago I had an interesting discussion with my new friend pixie over at her cool site Pixie Dust Beach.

She’s got a lot going on there – you should really go check it out.

And our discussion was in response to her thought-provoking review of Chris Guillebeau’s self-help book The Happiness of Pursuit: Finding the Quest That Will Bring Purpose to Your Life. . .

And I kind of been mulling over this discussion ever since…

You know, I’ve never been much of a self-help kind of guy, but there have been key points in my life where I have benefited from the motivation gained from the so-called Self-Help Expert. Tony Robbins helped me quit smoking oh so long ago…what, almost 25 years ago now…sheesh. I will be forever grateful to him for helping me be rid of that nasty habit. And recently I have completely changed my outlook on life all because of my new Personal Pope, that Greatest of Gurus, Dr. Wayne, The Wonderful, Dyer.

I love him.

Truly.

 

#iamthatiam

 

So I, by no means, am not down on the Self Help massive exploitation market of pain and misery…at all.

If it makes you happier and healthier, whatever the crutch may be, I’m all for it.

But, really, the answers to the complexities and challenges we face in this one big quest of a question mark we call Life are actually quite simple and fundamental.

We, all of us over a certain age, anyway, for the most part, already know what it is we need to be doing to make our lives less hard and less painful and less depressing…

Right?

Admit it…deep down you know what it is you need to be doing to improve your life…

But, unfortunately, it’s not just the knowing that gets it done, is it?

Nope.

It’s the application, the doing…

And it’s this dang doing of what we know to be true that is so frikkin’ hard.

So hard…

But still.

The doing has got to be done…

Right?

So, come on then…

All of us.

All together…

All together and gung ho and supportive like…

All Nike mass exploitative marketing like…

Let’s all just do it.

Let’s all just do what we dang well know needs to be done.

Every dang one of us.

Yeah…

 
 


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Melissa Barker-Simpson: Author of HANDS OF EVIL – Guest Post (A team is born)

Author Melissa Barker-Simpson
Author Melissa Barker-Simpson
Kurt kindly allowed me to hi-jack a little blog space to share my story – or at least a chapter or two. I’m sure by now you’re aware my novel, Hands of Evil, is the inaugural review in the new Indie Author Book Selection and Review feature (we really must help out with a new title!). Kurt’s Pick, The Review Challenge…something!

As you’ll be hearing more about the book (or certainly reading about it), I wanted to take this opportunity to introduce myself and give you a little background on the novel itself. I feel I should add a disclaimer at this point, because I talk about my characters in a very real sense. It’s how I see them – all the jokes about authors are based on truth; we do hear voices in our head and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

I’ve been writing since I could first craft a sentence and it has remained my one true passion. That isn’t to say I don’t have others, but writing is a big part of who I am. I can’t put a number on the short stories I’ve penned over the years, most of them aren’t worth reading, but they helped me hone the craft and continue to do so. We never stop learning and why would we want to?

Hands of Evil is probably my favourite of the Morgan & Fairchild series (though it’s only the second!). About fifteen years ago a character began to develop in my mind; a protector. His very essence is that of a soldier and he dogged me relentlessly. His name is Brad Morgan and I guess you could say he is to blame for my obsession with all things military.

Hands of Evil by Ms Melissa Barker-Simpson

When I did create a world for him to conquer, although I saw value in the end result, it wasn’t everything I expected it to be. At the time I had a young family and writing took a back seat for a while. That’s not to say Brad left me alone! He remained stoic and determined, waiting patiently for me to flesh out his adventure and commit to sharing it with the world.

My brother, whom I adore, enlisted in the Army around the time I wrote the book and we talked regularly about his own experiences. I loved listening to him describe his life in the armed forces. The more I listened, the more I began to picture the sense of family in his squad – the unity. It was a connection I hadn’t considered and I knew instinctively it was the element missing from Brad’s story. He didn’t have his family.

I’m not a planner, I never have been. I give the power to my characters and allow them to tell the story. Then, when it’s done, I go back and use every tool in my arsenal to whip it into shape; plugging those plot holes and polishing the heart of the tale. A fellow writer once taught me the benefit of giving our characters a voice, and so I wrote a piece of free-form fiction, in which I allowed Brad to talk about his team.

Melissa Barker-Simpson Website
Visit with Mel at her website mbarkersimpson.wordpress.com

He introduced me to Kelvin Fairchild, his best friend and co-founder of Morgan and Fairchild. Almost immediately, Susannah McElvogue piped up; the undisputed leader of the group. She hasn’t quit since. I retold the original story, adding Brad’s team and Sins of the Father was born. It was never meant to be a series, and yet I couldn’t walk away from them. As soon as I came to the end of the novel, Brad faded into the background and another member of the team stepped up to the plate (I know, I’m mixing my metaphors!).

I’ve always had a soft spot for Jonathan Jukes (JJ). He takes far too much responsibility on his shoulders, and his personal demons have haunted him for a long time. He’s skilled, loyal and has a strength others can rely on. It is a pleasure to spend time with him. Hands of Evil is JJ’s story.

Thanks to Kurt for allowing me to share JJ with you. I’m excited to hear his thoughts on the novel, considering he is a military man. I may even get some tips for the third in the series, which I plan to publish next year. My brother has always been a sound advisor, and I pour over books relevant to the stories I’m planning. In this case it was all things related to close personal protection and the police force.

I hope you’re still with me at this point, and if you are, thanks for hanging in there!

It was a pleasure to stop by.

Mel

Mel-logo

HANDS OF EVIL – The Big Reveal!

Well, I ordered the bloody book right after it was selected as the inaugural selection for the Indie Author Book Selection & Review (that’s a lot of selections in one sentence).

And after I did I joked with Melissa Barker-Simpson (Mel to her friends and cool people like me) about how she, living in the United Kingdom, practically lived at the end of the universe.

Little did I know how right I was. Well, at least based upon the number of days it took for the book to arrive – nearly two weeks – it seems that it may very well have been dispatched from the end of the universe.

Anyway, it’s finally here and I am really really really excited to begin reading it. But before I begin, I was thinking that it would be fun to do a little reveal sequence of the book…you know, kind of in the spirit of those tech nerd reveals that all those cool tech nerds like to do whenever they get all giddy over their latest tech nerd toy that they just received.

So, without further ado, I introduce to you my introduction to author Melissa Barker-Simpson’s novel HANDS OF EVIL

Well, by the looks of this photo, maybe it's me who lives at the end of the universe...
Well, by the looks of this photo, maybe I’m the one who lives at the end of the universe…
Well, well, well...it's about bloody time
Well, well, well…it’s about bloody time
And that there is the author. No, not the package, the website...well, the tiny picture on the website
And that there is the author. No, not the package, the website…well, the tiny picture on the website
There it is! Looks like a legit book to me...
There it is! Looks like a legit book to me…
And the back cover with a very intriguing synopsis about some Jonathan Jukes guy...I'm guessing he has something to do with the story. Not sure though...
And the back cover with a very intriguing synopsis about some Jonathan Jukes guy…I’m guessing he has something to do with the story. Not sure though…
Printed in Germany... How cool is that?! Yeah, I'm easily impressed, I admit.
Printed in Germany… How cool is that?! Yeah, I’m easily impressed, I admit. You know us silly Americans of the US kind…
Yep, It's legit all right weighing in at a ... huh? Wait a tick... No page numbers? Uh oh...I'm gonna be so confused.
Yep, It’s legit all right weighing in at a … huh? Wait a tick… I don’t know how many pages it weighs in at since it has no page numbers. Must be a European thing…
And no Table of Contents either. This scares me. It's like walking into the forest without breadcrumbs....
Pretty slick in all its style and sleekness, no? (Did that “no” make me sound European? I hope so…

Well, how about that… I finally have a book to read. And to be honest, I’m pretty frikkin’ excited about it.

And I’m so grateful to Mel for participating in the book selection thing. So grateful, in fact, that I invited her to contribute a Guest Post to talk a little bit about herself and her writing process. That will be following right behind this post so please check it out and then check out Mel’s site afterwards. I think you’ll find that she has really built a solid author’s platform for herself. She really is a very impressive person and I am proud to now be able to call her a friend.

So off I go to immerse myself in a new adventure, courtesy of Mel and her labor of love, the novel HANDS OF EVIL.

WRITE ON!

Oh yeah…since I am now…finally…reading my new Current Read, I think it’s time we start thinking about our next Indie Author Book Selection & Review. I’m up for another one if you are!

Hey Author, let’s make a deal (condensed version)

Sometimes the mojo magic gets to workin’ in me and gets me going on a post and before I know it that post is a mile long…

Such is the painfully apparent case with the original “Hey Author, let’s make a deal” post.

Yeah…I went to read over it again this morning, before my coffee had a chance to bake in…not good.

That sucker’s so long it makes the Great Wall of China look like the Just Above Average Wall of China…

It’s so long it looks like I’m getting nothing but sympathy “Likes” on it. You know those kind of “Likes”…if I “Like” it, maybe it will then just go away…

Yeah…I understand.

But what I’m trying to do with the post is important to me so I’m compelled to shorten things up a bit so you can actually finish reading something of mine in at least one sitting.

So, to reiterate what I reiterated way too many times in the original post but what you probably managed not to read anyway, here are the key points of what is so important to me and what I would like us both to do:


Your tasks:
1. Like this or/and the original post
2. Follow this website
3. Subscribe to my newsletter (this is key…I know, everyone hates to do this but please do)
4. Purchase my short story LEAVE
5. Write a smokin’ hot review for it


My tasks:
1. Finish reading and reviewing HANDS OF EVIL
2. Pick the best smokin’ hot review of LEAVE
3. Ensure author of smokin’ hot review meets all eligibility requirements
4. Purchase a book or story of author of chosen smokin’ hot review
5. Read the author’s book
6. Review the author’s book
7. Publish the review of author’s book here
8. Publish the review of author’s book at Amazon
9. Publish the review of author’s book at Goodreads
10. Publish my review of author’s book, the author’s review of my short story, and an accompanying author profile, in my newsletter (<–click to subscribe).

(Since newsletters are probably the best way to engage with your readers, I strongly encourage all of you to fire one up, as well. If you do, let me know. I’d be happy to subscribe. (: )


That’s the crux of it…short and to the point.

Just like the original.

. . . .

Um, excuse me, before you go. . .

I know, I know. . .

But before you go, I’d like to say something real quick about my short story LEAVE…and this applies to all my stories, including my book The Sea Trials of an Unfortunate Sailor, with a navy setting.

I am always receiving feedback from readers of my so-called “navy stories” that initially the readers were hesitant to read them because, let’s face it, who really cares about what’s going on in the navy. Aren’t they the kind of stories that only a certain kind of people, sailor people perhaps, would only want to read?

My answer to that is, sure these are stories with a navy setting, but they aren’t necessarily about just navy things.

Because all this is so fundamental to who I am, I have been planning to discuss all this much more in depth later, but in my About page I mention that I consider myself a Human Relations kind of guy. I believe I am qualified to say that because I spent a good chunk of my life studying humans…

I spent three months at the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute for some hardcore Diversity and EO training.

I was then certified as a Navy Equal Opportunity Advisor, where I worked daily managing EO issues and providing EO and Diversity training all throughout the navy’s Western Pacific operating area.

And, I have a masters degree in Human Relations (go figure).

So my “navy stories” are mostly about what most stories are about — humans and how we relate with each other. Which is often, not so well.

And these stories specifically put a special emphasis on those difficult relationships…relationships dealing with sexual orientation and race and gender issues and our perceptions and stereotypes of them and the harassment and harm we sometimes inflict on each over them.

So yeah, these stories, most of which you can read online for free right here, are navy stories in the sense that that is where they are set. . .

But it was my intent and my hope that they be stories that transcend way beyond just the navy and right into the heart of all of us.

 
 

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Hey Author, let’s make a deal…

Ha ha…remember that Seventies show?

No..not that That ’70s Show.

I mean that game show from the Seventies…

Let’s Make A Deal.

Classic…

What was that dudes name? Monty Hall, or something like that?

And all those crazy contestants all dressed up in their crazy costumes…

Man, that was awesome…

Such an awesome way to waste an hour of a life away…and a few good brain cells, too.

But that’s not why I called you all here today.

Today we are gathered here to discuss a way for you and I to make a deal of our own…

A deal all quid pro quo like…

A way for you to help me help you help me…

Huh?

Yeah, well, anyway…As I’ve been sitting here waiting for the dispatch of the inaugural selection for our Indie Author Book Selection & Review to arrive…

Hands of Evil by Ms Melissa Barker-Simpson

And waiting…

And waiting…

Is the United Kingdom really that far away from the United States?

And waiting…

Sheesh.

I tell you what, Barker-Simpson, your book better be good for as long as it’s taking to get to me…

Kinda makes a good tip o’ the hat to e-books, don’t it?

I could have been done and finished reading it by now if it had been an e-book…

Well, probably not.

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it already…but I’m kind of a slow reader.

I mean reeeally slow.

So slow that by the time it takes me to read a book, real or otherwise, a real one could probably have been delivered from the UK.

Or the end of the universe.

Which is apparently the same distance…

Yeah, I read that slow…

Anyway. . .

So, I obviously have had a lot of time to think while I’ve been waiting for Melissa’s masterpiece of poetic mojo to arrive…

And I was thinking that, while this Indie Author Book Selection & Review (Can someone please come up with a better, less exhausting name for this thing?! Maybe we should call it InAuBoSe&ReMo in honor of the NaNoMo…god I can’t even finish writing the acronym its so bad. Well, not as bad as that NaNoBloPoMe thing or whatever that beast is.) is cool and all…and I really hope we do more in the future…I was thinking about other ways for me to find your book so I can read it and love it and review it like a masterpiece of poetic perfection deserves to be reviewed…

And I was thinking…you know…

Heck, I’d like my books to be reviewed, too!

Yup, that’s exactly what I thought.

Actually, that’s exactly what I think about often.

I sure wish more readers (and I check my Amazon stats every once in a while (okay, like hourly)…and I see that someone is buying my books, which leads me to believe that they are being read as well, so I think it’s safe for me to assume that I have at least some readers) would leave more reviews.

I know, I know…

I know exactly what you’re thinking right now…

You’re thinking that maybe no one is taking the time to review my books because, maybe, perhaps, it’s a distinct possibility that maybe my writing doesn’t compel these readers of my books to want to write a review for them…

That’s exactly what you were thinking, I know…

Because that’s exactly what I’m thinking, too…

And I think we’re both exactly right on this thought.

Maybe my stories just aren’t compelling enough…

Maybe.

But I would like to know for sure.

And how could I go about doing that, you ask.

Well, funny you should ask because I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about just that lately…

Seeing I’ve had so much time to think and all.

And I was thinking that maybe you could read one of my stories for me and write an honest to goodness legitimate review, you know, like a review you might read in a newspaper (if they were to still exist). A review unlike most of the reviews on Amazon. A review with a minimum of at least three (3) paragraphs – an intro, a supporting, and a closing paragraph. You know, basic essay writing that we learned back in grammar school…

Wait, wait…

Before you hightail your tail outta here…

Just listen to what I have to propose first, please.

Continue reading “Hey Author, let’s make a deal…”