First Review of The Fountain

Cover of The Fountain, Kindle bookThanks to D.G. Kaye, for her wonderful review of The Fountain short story collection, which is on pre-order from Amazon Kindle right now. It will available on July 10, less than a week from now. See her full review here and the highlights below.

If you enjoy short stories in fantasy/sci-fi genres, and stories that make you think then look no further than Maberry’s tales which will engross you with stories about karma, greed, time travel, aliens and muses.

In this book you will read stories about: a dog with extra sensory perception, a writer battling his own sub-conscience, a wizard who wonders if the spells he casts for others will work for himself, a man who experiences 2 lifetimes by opening a closet door. These are just a few of the stories to stimulate your reading appetite.

Maberry is a prolific writer who knows how to keep a reader captivated till the end and finishes his stories with an unexpected twist. This book also offers an excerpt to the author’s next upcoming novel. As in true Maberry style, he leaves us hanging in anticipation with more to come. A great read!

Falling teen caught by park goers

The co-hosts of this month’s We Are the World Blogfest are: 
Belinda WitzenhausenLynn HallbrooksMichelle Wallace, Sylvia McGrath, Sylvia Stein. Please visit their sites too.

I’m sure I won’t be the only one posting this, but it’s what I found. I thought it exemplified the #WATWB criteria of a good news story. People responding to a person in distress, including one man who himself injured his back in an effort to catch the girl dangling from a gondola at a Six Flags in upstate New York. No one, it seems, cared about the race or religion of the girl. No one, it seems, cared about her politics. Some reports say the 14-year old herself contributed to her predicament. That too is beside the point of the good Samaritans, isn’t it?

The Fountain and six more short stories coming soon

It’s been a long time coming, but it’s finally here! A seven-story fantasy and sci-fi collection of short fiction. One quarter the size of an average novel, it’s perfect for summer reading or when you have a few minutes to spare but not a couple hours or more.

Check it out at Amazon, where it’s available for preorder. It will be delivered to your Kindle device on July 10. NOTE: you can download a free Kindle app to enable viewing on tablets, phones, computers, etc. You DON’T need a Kindle reader per se.

Cover of The Fountain, Kindle book

You’ll find humor, twists and more in The Fountain. Like what? Here’s an example:

  • Karma can be painful in “The Fountain”–when a plunderer meets a long-dead shaman.
  • A family adopts a retriever with special talents in “Lily, an Amazing Dog.”
  • A vampire has a strange problem, in “Alfred’s Strange Blood Disorder.”
  • A perennial favorite, dimensional travel, with a strange twist in “The Closet Door.”
  • What could that column of fire be, rising from the Atlantic off the Outer Banks? Read “The Flame” to find out what it meant to troubled writer Carson.
  • A wizard casts a spell that works well for a princess, but will it be as good for him? Check out “The Wizard.”
  • Finally, “The Fribble” offers an alien encounter of an odd sort, to a pharmaceutical company rep searching for new drugs in the Amazon Rain forest.

Later in July and August, we’ll have some discount days and some free days. Watch this space for announcements.

By mid-September, we’ll make it available in other digital formats–ePub for Nook, Kobo, etc., and on iBooks for Apple readers.

Living with a dog

Just a short something today–very short. Other things are demanding my time. Still, you may find this amusing if you, like my wife, thinks your dog licks too much. When she makes that observation to Max,

Max, watching window TV

he ignores her admonition and continues. I, on the other hand, may note this variation on an old expression:

Cleanliness is next to dogliness.

Kind of goes right along with “Dog is my copilot,” seen on some car’s bumpers.

The Dog in the Yearbook

This month’s co-hosts for WATWB are Emerald BarnesEric Lahti, Inderpreet UppalLynn HallbrooksPeter Nena, Roshan Radhakrishnan. Please visit their sites too.

For this month’s We Are the World Blogfest, consider how much help our service dog companions offer to those of us who need them. Everyone’s familiar with drug and bomb sniffing dogs. But service dogs use their eyes, ears and noses for much more than security or law enforcement. They provide much-needed assistance to humans with disabilities or diseases. Read this item from WTOP News, a TV station that serves the DC Metropolitan area, including Northern Virginia, where this story comes from about a high school in Stafford, Virginia.

 

A junior with type 1 diabetes has a service dog that accompanies him to school. The dog lets him know when his blood sugar is getting off–too high or too low, 30 minutes or more before it becomes a medical issue. Amazing what dog’s noses can detect–upcoming seizures, cancer, and now the chemical clues that the person he serves needs to take action on his diabetes.

In addition to serving as Schalk’s primary spotter, Alpha has been a joy for his classmates.

 “There’s a lot of people you can tell they are having a rough day, but just seeing a dog in the hallway really brightens up their day. Alpha’s become such a big part of the school environment.”
Naturally, service dog “Alpha” accompanied 17-year old  A. J. Schaik to the photo shoot for his high school yearbook. The yearbook staff was happy to include a headshot of Alpha in the yearbook too. For more on the story, check out this news item.

HS student and his service dog in the yearbook

 

The Clear Stream of Reason

What can you do with a writing prompt? Almost anything. Consider this short passage from Rabindranath Tagore,

“Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into dreary desert sand of dead habit”

You could go somewhere with “reason,” “dreary desert,” “dead habit,” or more–especially if you examine the entire poem. Here’s a link to one of many layouts for it (I have no idea how Tagore originally presented it).

I went with “the clear stream of reason” to create a scifi backstory, which likely has no relation to Tagore’s point of “Let My Country Awake.”

The clear stream of reason flowed from the mind spring of Thallos. All who partook of its waters found enlightenment–the wisdom of the ancients. The colonists knew nothing of this. They came to raise crops, assuming the stream to be a great resource promising productive land. They weren’t entirely mistaken, but were surprised when what they planted evolved into something quite different than expected. Nutritious and flavorful produce, but not the same as they had grown on their former planet. After consuming the harvest for a time, they began seeing each other and Thallos differently. With a new awareness, they realized the plants had been enlightened by the waters as much as they had.

 

 

Tears and Laughter in the Desert

For this month’s We are the World Blogfest, we offer a mention of an We Are The World--in Darkness, Be Lightinteresting article from Desert Exposure. [You’ll need to zoom in to read the article or download the entire issue and read it as a PDF.]

The monthly paper is an eclectic mix of event listings, features on local culture, restaurant reviews, spiritual/metaphysical stuff, humor, ads for some very interesting services, letters on local political issues and a whole lot more. Probably the best, and most feature-filled free paper I’ve ever seen.

Morgan Smith discusses his most recent trip to Mexico from his home in New Mexico. Over the last six years, he reports, he and his not-long-deceased wife Julie, made 80 or so trips there to offer help in one form or another to those in poverty. The feature of the most recent trip included attending a wedding at a mental asylum run by a Pastor Galvin, who relies on donations to operate–not wanting accept funds from whatever government agencies offered it, but with strings attached.

What’s encouraging about this piece is the dedication to helping others who need it and are likely not looked upon with much less disdain than the typical urban panhandler at an intersection with the hand-lettered sign. Here’s a sample from the article:

First we stop briefly at Vision in Action, the mental asylum where two pairs of patients will get married. . . This is part of Pastor Galvin’s belief in the dignity of his patients and his sense that giving them the same opportunities that we “sane” people have helps them recover. For the past 21 years, he has cared for 100-120 patients, most of whom have been brought to him by the police with a variety of ailments.

Earth Day

This isn’t my usual WIP today. It’s part recollection and part a paean to our planet. We live here, we need to protect it to protect ourselves. The first Earth Day came during the first quarter of the first year of college for me. Yes, a long time ago–I’m that old. Perhaps the ecology movement that started in 1970 is now a part of the curriculum that millennials and their immediate elders study. Still, it seems clear enough that it’s something that has received scarce media attention for some time. It’s been eclipsed by the related subject of climate change in political discussion and on the news in the traditional media and all rest that didn’t exist nearly 50 years ago.  But this year’s celebration, that isn’t any decade anniversary, will likely be the largest since its first–if not the largest ever. You don’t need me to explain why.

We share the environment with all the creatures great and small. The plants, the trees, the rocks and all. We exhale carbon dioxide, the trees and other plants inhale it and give us back the oxygen we require.

There is no more and no less water on our planet than at its creation–absent a few additions or displacements due to meteor strikes or atmospheric leakage of water vapor at the upper reaches. In perhaps a ratio akin to that of homeopathic medicine you could say we’re all drinking dinosaur urine. Odd flavors from water wells in Wyoming, Montana and the Dakotas might confirm that, but not too likely. More likely odd flavors might come from fracking for oil shale or mining. The earth filters the contaminants we bury or pour into it–as much as it can.

But we need to be more respectful and considerate of our home. It’s the only one we have. Despoil it and we may share the fate of those dinosaurs. Overuse fossil fuels and we may become fossils ourselves sooner than we think.

We live high atop a hill in New Mexico. We have no air conditioner and no furnace. We do have ceiling fans and baseboard heaters–neither of which see much use. Passive solar south-facing windows add winter warmth. Casement windows on three sides offer wing-like capture of breezes that blow through during the warm summer. We have grid-tied active solar panels that sometimes produce a check from the power company and otherwise reduce the load we impose on the system. Our well uses a solar pump. Our electric fence that keeps the cattle (two weeks of grazing per year) away from the house is solar-powered. Our gate that keeps unwanted sightseeing (or prospective burglars) human visitors away is solar-powered. Our wetlands take care of wastewater. Soon, rainwater harvesting will supplement our well. So we do our part to reduce power generation requirements and we recycle all that we can–close to a 50-50 split with trash. We’d do more if the locality offered more.

I hope you participated in Earth Day some way yesterday and throughout the year in a way appropriate to your circumstances.

Derek’s Dominoes

An experiment–writing a story starting with a technique D.G. Kaye calls “trainstorming” on her blog. I have combined that with a short item I had crafted from the writers group that I belong to. Sort of as an introduction. 

Growth is measured by straying from the comfort zone–into untried and unknown. Unknown could be scary to some, especially in scary stories. Stories of unexpected events or visitors that appear in otherwise comfortable places. Places one frequents without incident until that time. Time should be a well known thing, a thing that behaves itself by moving in only one direction from past, through present, to future–never alternating. Alternating currents of time–what would, what could he do with that?

Time switching directions, moment to moment, like the wind in Mimbres Valley. A wind blowing from the west and then the north or south and back again. Time carrying him toward tomorrow when he’ll be doing this or doing that–all per the bullet list whose items are to be checked off while his body moves inexorably to its exit. The next moment the wind of time reverses, carrying him back to yesterday or yesteryear. Perhaps to travel a path not taken.

Derek faced this unknown alternating current of time, unprepared for its effects. Disorienting. Frightening. It took a long time—ha, for him to find it exhilarating. To fully appreciate the opportunity. First to make the most of each moment. Then to actually bend his brain to control the current–a capacity he’d never known might exist. No time traveling machine a la H.G. Wells–no, Derek mastered time itself. A mastery not without consequence.

The Carter Center–Waging Peace, Fighting Disease, Building Hope

We Are The World--in Darkness, Be LightSomething different for a year. The last Friday of each month, we will participate in the We Are the World Blogfest to offer some positivity in the world. This is our first offering of good news.

Jimmy Carter, the 39th President of the US served from 1977-1981. His legacy as President is at best, so-so. His legacy as the founder and, until recently, leader of the center that bears his name, is phenomenal. It’s website says this:

The Center is guided by a fundamental commitment to human rights and the alleviation of human suffering. It seeks to prevent and resolve conflicts, enhance freedom and democracy, and improve health. The Center emphasizes action and measurable results. Based on careful research and analysis, it is prepared to take timely action on important and pressing issues. The Center seeks to break new ground and not duplicate the effective efforts of others. The Center addresses difficult problems in difficult situations and recognizes the possibility of failure as an acceptable risk. The Center is nonpartisan, actively seeks complementary partnerships and works collaboratively with other organizations from the highest levels of government to local communities. The Center believes that people can improve their own lives when provided with the necessary skills, knowledge, and access to resources.

One example of its success:

Since 1986, The Carter Center has led the international campaign to eradicate Guinea worm disease, working closely with ministries of health and local communities, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, and many others.

Guinea worm disease is set to become the second human disease in history, after smallpox, to be eradicated.

In 1986, the disease afflicted an estimated 3.5 million people a year in 21 countries in Africa and Asia. Today, thanks to the work of The Carter Center and its partners — including the countries themselves — the incidence of Guinea worm has been reduced by more than 99.99 percent to 25 cases in 2016.

 

We have contributed to the Carter Center for over 30 years. It has a 95.23% rating from Charity Navigator. It’s a non-profit, 501 c (3) organization.