Now Available for Pre-Order

THE GOOD KILL

A former Navy SEAL turned vigilante hitman already in the crosshairs of corrupt Russian agents finds himself in even deeper trouble after rescuing a sex trafficking victim against her will just as she is about to be delivered into the hands of an unscrupulous corporate mogul, an impetuous and dangerous man who will not be denied his purchase. . .

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#TGK #dark #violent #thriller

   
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LEAVE IS LIVE! | PLEASE DONATE & SHARE

This is it, my friends. The moment I’ve been waiting for where things finally begin to get real for me.

And by real I mean from now until the end of the filming of LEAVE at the end of October, it looks like it’s going to be one mad rush of new and exciting experiences.

Awesome.

I would like to introduce you to the cast and crew of LEAVE. For now, you may see them and everything LEAVE is about here >> LEAVE: A Short Film.

After things slow down, I will introduce them to you personally here.

I would also like to thank all the good folks who donated to my website campaign here. Please check out the list and try to support them as awesomely as you support me. That campaign has officially ended and all donations will now be managed through IndieGoGo. I will use the funds raised here to get me across the country. I’m so grateful for the support.

I will introduce my final website donor to you, Author Anna Kopp, on Friday, October 14, 2016. Her work looks amazing. Stay tuned!

Today, I am heading on an anniversary getaway to New England with my lovely and loving wife. Shortly after I return I will get on the road again with my sons and drive cross-country to LA for the filming LEAVE.

I’ve decided to fire up my barely-used Instagram account and, beginning today as I head to the hood of some of my favorite authors, I will be photo-blogging my journey along the way and during the filming. Please follow along if you’d like (icon on the sidebar). I would love to have your company.

Cool?

Ice cold!

LEAVE: A Short Film

 
 
LEAVE, A Short Film

My April Fools’ Day Joke

I would like to thank Author Vivian Biro for donating to help me make my movie. It really means so much to me that others are willing to support a dream of mine in such tangible ways.

Please help me thank Vivian by visiting with her at her website, by purchasing her debut novel, and, by all means, letting her know what you think of her writing by sharing an Amazon Review.

And I tell you what, this April Fools’ Day Joke of hers is hilarious and completely genius. Check it out…

Guiding Principles of a Daughter’s Dad

I’m not the smartest or greatest dad there is. Not even close. I have many faults and made many mistakes over the years that I regret.

However, I do think I’m pretty good at understanding my faults and I work hard to minimize their impact to myself and others, especially to my family, as much as possible.

Even still… just because faults were minimized, it doesn’t mean there wasn’t impact from them from time to time. There was. I regret that.

But… we live and learn and live and relearn and one and on.

My daughter is my first child and when she was born I didn’t have a clue as to how to raise her.

I found out quickly though, that having children, and especially having the first child, is kind of like going to war.

No matter how much you plan for it, once the first shot is fired the best you can hope for is a campaign of organized chaos.

Fortunately, not long after she was born, I happened upon some useful information — probably from articles in a newspaper (remember those things?) — about the results of a couple of different studies.

I don’t remember the newspaper — probably the Stars & Stripes.

And I certainly don’t remember the studies or who conducted them so I cannot attest to the veracity of the reportage.

However, based upon my life experiences, what was reported seemed to speak the truth.

And from these apparent truths that I happened upon long ago, I was changed — or at least I sought to change — from their insights.

And from this change, I hope I became a better father to, not just my daughter, but to my sons as well. For I also hope that when my sons, too, have daughters– and based upon the make up of my lovely and loving wife’s family and mine, they probably will — they understand how their beliefs and, more importantly, their behavior can have such an impact on the outcome of their daughters’ lives.

The first thing I learned that changed my behavior as a father was…

The more education a father has the less the chance will be that his daughter will find herself in an abusive relationship as an adult.

The second was…

Girls with high self-esteem tend to have less sex during their middle and high school years and girls with low self-esteem tend to have more.

The inverse is true for boys.


It’s Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month.

#dadsmatter

 
 

INSPIRATION IN THE WORST OF PLACES | A Guest Post by Author Sherrie Cronin

With pleasure and gratitude, it is my honor to share with you a Guest Post by Author Sherrie Cronin. As April is Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, Sherrie’s post, and her books, are timely, important, and educational, as, sadly, the exploitation and abuse of women only seems to be worsening. Obviously, we must do more to prevent this; for this is not a problem only found in countries far and distinct from our own, it is a problem that just may be found not too far from our very own doorstep. On the sidebar, you will find her novel c3 and a link to where you can learn more about Sherrie and her books. I strongly encourage you to support Sherrie and her efforts.


 

INSPIRATION IN THE WORST OF PLACES
by Sherrie Cronin

46ascending.org

 

When I first outlined the stories for 46. Ascending, I knew that c3 would be about a group of young women who would thwart a sex trafficking ring, because I wanted a venue to explore the extreme edges of the way we as a society pretend not to see the many ways in which young women are exploited. I fully expected that my research would take me to some horrifying places, and it did. An internet connection is all one needs to visit ping pong shows in Bangkok and to peruse ads for “sexy and willing” Russian women. I still get the ads — I need to wash out my browser with soap.

What I did not expect, however, were how many inspirational stories and websites I would encounter as well. I stared my research with Somaly Mam’s book The Road of Lost Innocence: The True Story of a Cambodian Heroine and I highly recommend it.

My browsing then took me to the Sisters of the Good Shepherd, a group of Catholic Nun’s who have spent the last couple of centuries reaching out to women in unfortunate circumstances. I liked what I read so much that an imaginary nun worked herself into my story even though she wasn’t even in the outline. I hope that members of the order would not be offended by my spunky Sister Teresa-Marie, as she turned out to be one of my favorite characters in the book. Please read about this fine group and their efforts to help victims of human trafficking at goodshepherdsisters.org/trafficking.htm.

Next I found several non-profit organizations dedicated to stopping human trafficking, each one with an inspiring story. I will likely blog about them all individually here over time. One of the first that I encountered was an organization called Shared Hope International, founded by U.S. Congresswoman Linda Smith after she traveled into the heart of the brothel district in Mumbai, India where “she witnessed the brutal exploitation and sexual slavery of women and children.” She has been trying to do something about it ever since. This group also has a Facebook page well worth visiting and liking.

I expected to be disgusted at some of what I found, and I was. I expected to believe that this was a problem with no solution. Instead, I found brave women and men of all nations, ages, and belief systems working for positive change. I did not expect to walk away from my research marveling at those who fight every day to shine a bright light into the darkest of corners. But I did, and I am marveling at them still.


To find out how you, too, can promote your book or project, please visit here.

 
 

Two Marines walked into a bar…

…and the Sailor ducked.

Ba dum bump!
#militaryhumor

Okay, just a couple of quick announcements while I’ve got your attention.

I am overwhelmed with happiness and joy now that it is Spring, and because of all the wonderful submissions we’ve received to the Relating to Humans Women’s Issues feature in celebration of Women’s History Month. We still have a week or so to go for #WHM2016 and I am still posting to the blog all submissions received to the feature.

If you’re not sure what all this Relating to Humans stuff is all about. I attempt to explain it all here.

All RTH submissions received prior to 2016 have been moved to the RTH Archives. There is a lot of compelling reading to be found there so check it out if you have a chance.

Aurelius, Zeno, and I are vibing to some Nine Inch Nails Ghost I-IV right now, in case you were wondering.

Zeno & Aurelius rockin' the NIN... and their space heater.
Da Bro’s vibing some NIN… and their space heater.

Anyway… With just about all RTH past submissions now archived, that means there is a lot of white space for you to post your work.

We all know that the early bird gets the best spot where all the book worms like to hang out, if you know what I mean… So submit early and submit often, but only submit one article or piece at a time per feature. If you want to submit something new to a feature that you already have something submitted to, let me know and I’ll archive the old so you can share with us the new.

From now through the summer months, I plan/hope to be heavily involved with the raising of funds and then the production of my short film LEAVE out in Los Angeles. Fingers crossed.

Consequently, I am not going to have as much time to spend writing stuff here for you to read, hence the awkward necessity of this awkwardness. Consequently, I am going to be looking to your submissions to the various RTH features to pull from and post to the blog. Consequently, I am going to need you all to post a lot of compelling and awareness-raising stuff up there for me to pull from. Consequently, I am going to be adding even more features for you to submit your work to.

Can you dig it?

I’m thinking new features such as: “Health Issues,” (notice how I put that comma before the closing quotes? strange how we do it that way here in ‘Merica (prounounced: mur/e/ka) when our good friends across The Pond would put them outside the closing quotes… isn’t life wonderful with all its little peculiarities like that? though, in actuality, since I’ve now added this interesting – at least to me – parenthetical aside, I guess the comma really should go after the closing parenthesis… oh well. my blog my (broken) rules.), “Criminal Justice Issues,” and although I’m a bit hesitant about this one because I’m not totally convinced it fits comfortably with the other features but we’ll see how it goes… “Relationship Issues.”

I am going to ask/require that all human-related creative submissions, such as poetry as the primary example, be submitted only to its designated creative artsy-type feature. In other words, please submit your poems, photography, flash fiction, etc. only to its specific feature. In other words, all poems submitted to the “Women’s Issues” feature will be moved to the “Poetry” feature. To me it will be more interesting to read poetry or any other pieces submitted to the artsy-fartsy type features that cover many diverse, human-related topics in one feature. In other words, I hope I didn’t confuse you as much as I just confused myself.

April is “Sexual Assault Awareness Month” so, unfortunately, there may be opportunities to speak to that very unfortunate and sadly big issue.

Let’s start identifying “Trigger Warnings” where applicable, please. I think for a place like this those are a crucial necessity.

So… that’s about it. Please start submitting away and I will move all the submissions that move me to the blog so they can move all of us into a broader, more compassionate understanding of all that’s going on in and all around this pretty yet petulant planet of ours that we all can and do and must relate to because like it or not we are all humans and we are ultimately all related.

All** cool?

Yeah…

One last thing!

Have you considered donating a buck* or two to help me get my short film off the ground? If you do, I will help you promote your book, your project, or a cause your most passionate about. You can learn how here.

And if you’re a Newsletter Love subscriber, I’ll promote your work to our dedicated, and growing, newsletter group, as well.

Right on?

Write. On!

And remember…

Friends don’t let friends drive drunk, vote for Trump… or stumble headfirst into bars.

For pain will surely ensue if they do.


*Paypal accepts just about all major global denominations.
**Yes, you’re right. I did use an awful lot of “alls” in this post for some reason.

 
 

THE LIES WE TELL OURSELVES | A Relating to Humans Women’s Issues Feature

THE LIES WE TELL OURSELVES
        by Manivillie Kanagasabapathy

** TRIGGER WARNING: Abuse **

Deep Brown eyes stare back at me,
Fleeting whispers floating between us,
Shadows creep silently,
Across broad brown shoulders,
The darkness melding within the chocolate hues,
Lengthening to point accusingly,
At the faded bruise
That still held faint outlines of his hand.

“Are you okay? Should I call someone?”
I hear the teacher’s voice whisper
Behind
In front
Avoiding.

My eyes jump back up,
Shamed to be caught,
Starting at the dark eyes,
That hid darker shadows.

“I’m fine, I fell”
I watched her rouge tipped lips open in reply,
Tasting the words,
Rolling them around her tongue
Until they fit,
Like words spoken
In love
In faith
In truth

“Should I call a doctor?”
The persistent voice asked again,
Concern and patronization moving together
To create a melody of the question,
“No really I am fine, I fell.”
Stronger, this time
The eyes lit with the flame of memory,
Recreated to a story to be told over and over,
Each time more real than the last.

Hands lift reaching across
Touch the fading bruise,
Face flinching from where my fingers lay,
Turning to look away.

With a breath, I slowly withdraw my hand
Shaking as it moves from the mirror.
Square the shoulders,
Bright smile,
A deep inhalation and whisper…
“I am fine, I fell.”
 
mypoeticheart.com


 

Please submit your creative expressions that bring awareness to women and gender issues to the Relating to Humans Women’s Issues feature. All submissions will be profiled on the blog throughout Women’s History Month.

 
 

WOMEN ISSUES…OR ISSUES THAT SURROUNDS A WOMAN | A Relating to Humans Women’s Issues Feature

WOMEN ISSUES…OR ISSUES THAT SURROUNDS A WOMAN
by kalabalu

FROM THE WOMEN’S ISSUES ARCHIVE

Every morning , almost all dailies have a report on women abuse. Mostly domestic violence , dowry issues and early marriage. Each day , I read the story remains same but victims change. The culprit is seldom caught and rarely punished.

I feel that laws are useless when the enforcement is zero, in some instances below zero , yes going into negative area. The enforcers start abusing and humiliating the victim , they sort of make it appear , that she “asked for it”.

World has two sharp division, people who are on the “Man’s side” , this group also has women and the other “Woman rights ” fighters, they are vocal but can not always win, because women issue is a social issue.

If dowry is a bad practice, why do in-laws ask for it ? If beating up women is wrong, why don’t family members interfere ..it seems that society as a whole wants to support the strong and beat up the weak..those women who are strong economically or otherwise , they are seldom abused , but those who are vulnerable due to child marriage or poor back ground..they are tortured and killed..and this cycle is continuous.. Parents feel that marrying off a daughter is important to just move that burden from one’s shoulder to another, they don’t mind if she gets killed..I know that is a harsh way of putting it..but look at the way young girls at 11 are becoming mother and then their kids are getting killed or they are dumped for next victim…
 

kalabalu.wordpress.com


 

All submissions to the Relating to Humans Women’s Issues feature will be profiled on the blog all throughout Women’s History Month. Please share your creative expressions discussing Women’s Issues by submitting them here.

 
 

Seeking Submissions Discussing Women’s Issues throughout Women’s History Month

March brings with it Women’s History Month, as well as the launching of our Indigogo campaign to raise the funds that will allow us to produce our short film LEAVE.

And, not coincidentally, both Women’s History Month and our film LEAVE share the goal of highlighting and raising awareness of the many valuable contributions women have made and continue to make to societies all throughout the world.

In my effort to celebrate and support both Women’s History Month and the funding of our short film LEAVE, I am asking you to share your creative efforts here — either as an anecdote, a very short story, a poem, a photograph, or artwork — that seeks to raise awareness of women’s issues…

Because we all know that women’s issues are everyone’s issues.

To augment these Guest Contributions I hope and expect to receive, I will be sharing past submissions from our Relating to Humans Women’s Issues archive.

Even though I haven’t been promoting it lately because I’ve been so involved with other projects, the Relating to Humans feature is still very much a thing here and I encourage you to check it out and consider submitting your work to any/all of the issue features.

All submissions I receive for Women’s History Month will be published on the blog and on the Women’s Issues feature page.

So, if you have something to say that raises the awareness of women’s issues, please consider sharing it here. To submit your work, please follow the Submission Guidelines found on the Relating to Humans page.

And also, please consider supporting us in our efforts to produce LEAVE, a short film that seeks to both entertain and inspire discussion for positive change.


This article has been updated to reflect the change in submission guidance. This will allow all articles to go live on the Women’s Issues feature page immediately and will provide links back to the author’s website, versus submitting them through the Contact page and having to wait for me to publish them.

 
 

#OscarsSoWha??

What a night at the Oscars, eh?

Big night for diversity and sexual assault awareness.

While it’s no longer cool for us to say “boys will be boys”… I believe it’s still within the legal PC bounds of good taste to say “Chris will be Chris.”

He did a pretty good job of calling out all the major inequality themes re: Hollywood that’s been on everyone’s minds and tongues for the past few months. Though he did go a little easier on the Establishment and a lot harder on Jada than I expected.

I thought his most pointed call-out wasn’t a race issue but a gender equality issue when discussing the absurdity of having both a Best Actor and a Best Actress category. “It’s not as if they are running a track and field event and Robert De Niro has to say, ‘Whoa, I better slow down my acting so Meryl Streep can catch up…” It’s worth your time to search for and watch Rock’s opening monologue. It should be easy enough to find.

I was pretty bummed when Lady Gaga didn’t win the award for Best Song (or whatever the official nomenclature is) after her highly emotional and powerful performance of “Till It Happens To You.” But when Sam Smith gave his amazing acceptance speech calling on for equality and encouragement for the LGBT community I was like, okay… he’s cool.

But to me, Lady Gaga’s performance was definitely the highlight of the night and one of the most moving performances I’ve seen in a while. At least since her performance of the US National Anthem at the Super Bowl… which was also quite impressive. She’s quite the talent, that’s for sure.

As far as the movie stuff goes, I can’t really comment much because until I see the Oscars I never realize how many movies I haven’t seen throughout the year.

I’m happy and unsurprised that Leo won for Best Actor. Pretty impressive speech he gave re: The Environment. Of course it was a given he would speak about environmental issues knowing how passionate he is about the subject. And it also makes sense to discuss it seeing how critical Nature was to the success of his film. [See: The Revenent: It’s Really Good (for a laugh)]

I’m less happy that Tom Hardy did not win Best Supporting Actor and very surprised that, if Tom didn’t win it, they didn’t just give it to Sly Stallone for sentimental reasons (it certainly wouldn’t be for any acting reasons). As a former Intelligence Community (oxymoron, I know…) guy, I have been meaning to see The Bridge of Spies so I cannot judge the dude who did win. I cannot even judge him based on his past performances because I don’t even have clue who he is (although there is a tinge of familiarity so I’m sure I’ve seen him in this or that).

As for Best Actress… didn’t see “The Room” or is it just “Room,” but just based on the clips shown Brie Larson looks like a worthy winner. As for Best Supporting Actress… didn’t see “The Danish Girl” but Alicia Vikander is definitely the “It Gal” of the moment so I assumed she would win.

While Mad Max swept all the technical and nitnoid whatnot awards, I thought for sure The Revenent would sweep the Big Three. It got two with Alejandro González Iñárritu winning Best Director (two years running now), and Leo’s win, but missed on the biggest of all.

Haven’t seen Spotlight, the winner, yet. I’m still waiting on it to hit Redbox and then I’ll have to wait until Redbox texts me a free movie night before I do. Yeah, I’m cheap like that.

As far as the presenters go… it seems that there is a budding bromance between Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling. They were quite funny together and could make a pretty good living as a comedic duo.

And did anyone else get confused between Kate Winslet and Patricia Arquette? Did they look like copies of each other because they were sharing the same pair of glasses? Or are they secretly Pond Crossing Twins?

Speaking of Patty Arquette, you should check her out on twitter and see the work she’s doing with the #EqualMeansEqual documentary that is in the works. As you probably know she’s a major, outspoken proponent for Women’s and Gender Equality Issues. She believes because she called out Hollywood last year in its poor record of equality in pay between men and women that she has lost several potential acting gigs from it. Check out the good stuff she has going on at @PattyArquette at the tweet machine.

As typical, Sasha Baron Cohen provided the most cringe-worthy moment. His “Ali G” skit is no longer fun(ny), as it now comes off to me only as being stale and rather desperate.

Still, all in all I thought The Oscars overall was a great show. One of the most entertaining in a long while.

I’m really looking forward to seeing what impact all the awareness to diversity this year will have on next year’s nominees.

Aaand… that’s a wrap.

 
 

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.