Deception! is the second anthology produced by Writing Bloc Publishing. I’m thrilled to announce that my short story “The Big Scam” was selected! It is in the company of 23 other short stories, written by some fabulous authors, all somehow touching on the theme of deception.
The coolest thing about Writing Bloc is the cooperative nature of the beast. Once the stories were selected, they placed the authors into groups of 5 and tasked us with editing each others’ stories. After that, the stories went through Writing Bloc’s internal editing. The end result is a top-notch product due to a remarkable level of collaboration and professionalism.
As a group, we submitted several cover designs and ended up with the gorgeous graphic you see above. We brought numerous other issues and details to a group vote. With the use of web-based technologies, we accomplished everything within a year — from initial submissions to publication.
The ebook version of Deception! is available on Amazon now and will be available on other platforms soon. The print version will be ready in the next few days or weeks. The ebook price is just $2.99, so it’s easy to grab your copy now! You’ll get 24 entertaining short stories that you’re sure to enjoy! Click on the pic for more information. 😀
I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving. We had a nice and quiet one in Winston Salem. It’s my favorite holiday because of the gratitude part. I try to always be grateful, but on Thanksgiving Day I make a conscious effort to count each of the many blessings in my life, and I have been blessed!
Right now, the blessing on my top plate is the imminent publication of a short story I wrote this year. It will be included along with other short stories from twenty fabulous writers. I am honored to be a part of this prestigious closed group called The Writing Bloc!
If you want to learn more about the authors in this anthology, click here.
This book is a collection of stories based on a common theme– Escape! It’s interesting to see how twenty authors took twenty directions with this prompt, within the structure of a short story. My contribution is called “Captiveedom“, a post-apocalyptic tragedy.
The book will be published on January 1, 2019, in digital format, with the print version shortly to follow, but pre-orders are underway!
Please consider grabbing a copy of “ESCAPE! A Writing Bloc Anthology” today. There’s something for everyone in it. I’ve read all the stories and I’m certain you’ll find hours of enjoyment within these pages.
Torkiya is a planet 50-light years away from planet Earth. The people of Torkiya are space-faring. They’ve been interested in the planet Earth (which they call Cerulea) for a long time, and they’ve sent many missions. Torkiyan missions to Cerulea are intended to explore and colonize the new world. The war-like Torkiyans’ altruistic excuse for the arduous project is to spread the beliefs and culture of the Torkiyan people, but the more compelling reason is for the commercial and financial aspects of the endeavor. The ideology of these competing yet complementary views are spelled out to the crews of the missions in their Mission Directives:
To establish a colony
To defeat and subjugate any sapient species they might find
To spread Torkiyan Knowledge, Wisdom, and Truth
To advance the technology of endemic sapient species with the goal of eventually connecting the two worlds
Torkiyan Mission 51 to Cerulea was organized about 500 Earth-years ago, at a time when the Americas were being invaded and colonized by Europeans.
The Spanish Missions of Alta California
Mission San Francisco de Asís, or Mission Dolores, is the oldest surviving structure in San Francisco and the sixth religious settlement established as part of the Spanish chain of missions in California. It plays a role in Mission 51.
Several ideas came together when I first imagined the story of Mission 51. I wanted to honor my immigrant parents. I wanted to contribute to the immigration narrative in general, even if it was in some small way. I wanted to be honest about human nature, about our virtues and our defects. I thought about how invaders have decimated native cultures, all over the world and across recorded history. I thought about the waves of immigration that have come into the United States, and how they have changed the very face of America. And then it all crystalized when I thought about the Spanish missions in California, and when I realized the notorious events in Area 51 occurred at the same time as my parents’ immigration to the US in 1954. The story simply had to be about missions and aliens! 😀
On June 28, 2017, Mission 51 finished in the top 3 of the Nerdist Sci-Fi Contest, out of 173 entries, winning a full publishing contract on Inkshares. It is currently in editing/production.
You probably saw Super Bowl LI, so there is a good chance you caught at least a glimpse of 84 Lumber’s Super Bowl commercials. Each was a portion of the “journey.” All together they were “The Entire Journey.” If you missed it or have not seen the whole thing, here it is:
As a first generation Mexican-American, I could relate to this at a gut level. No, our family did not walk for miles, pay a coyote, travel in a boxcar, or swim a river. We came over as “legal” aliens. My parents came in search of a better life for themselves and their children. The cost was losing day-to-day contact with family, friends, and everything about their native land. They came with nothing. They worked hard. They accomplished much. They set a good example, which for the most part I have followed. I now have hard-working children of my own. We are multi-generational Americans now, though still significantly bicultural.
My parents, siblings and I lived the immigration experience. We have feelings and opinions about the two countries that help define who we are, and about the immigration process itself. We believe in the sovereignty of the two nations. We believe it is right to obey their laws, including immigration laws. We believe in doing things the right way.
However, my humanitarian instincts tell me there are plenty of special immigration circumstances. Refugees flee oppression and physical danger, seeking asylum and help, with no way to go through legal channels. Families bring their loved ones for emergency medical care. The USA has a history and tradition of welcoming such people with open arms.
But this has not always been uniformly so. There is also a documented history of hostility towards immigrants, and of deportation. Several presidents have ordered such deportations in the past. One such policy was in place during the time of my parents’ immigration in 1954, derogatorily called “Operation Wetback.” But it is important to put all of that in the historical perspective of post-World War II, post-Korean War, Cold War America. One can imagine our entire country suffering from PTSD, trying to recover from traumas and fears. One can imagine misdirected finger-pointing and laying of blame. It was a priority to make jobs available for American citizens. These things may not excuse the immigration policies of the day, but they help to explain and understand them.
We are now in the midst of another immigration policy crisis. Our country is trying to find balance and common ground under a new administration. Certainly, most of us want to be that welcoming America symbolized by the Statue of Liberty, where people of every race, color, and creed can melt in the pot. We want to be humanitarian. We also want to be safe. We want jobs. We want fair trade. We want our budget to balance. Unfortunately, we are making it difficult to find that balance and common ground by willfully polarizing our political views. Nobody is walking in anyone else’s shoes. Everyone is wearing narrow-minded blinders. Everyone is applying their own brand of linear logic to multi-dimensional issues. (I am purposely generalizing.) At this moment, there is certainly more problem than there is solution.
I am not proposing a solution myself. I plan just to keep trying to do the next right thing like my parents and teachers taught me.
I have also written a Science Fiction book that parallels the subject. It is about an immigrant who also arrived in 1954, the same year my parents did. His name is Mat. He came at a great personal cost. He was mistreated when he first arrived, but he persevered and made a significant contribution to society. The book is called Mission 51, and I invite you to follow the project here.
“Immigration” is a complex of issues brought into sharp focus by our new administration. I believe We the People will gradually sort them out. I believe in our essential goodness and the power of the people. We will make it right.
Thanksgiving is a great time to reminisce. I have been blessed with another great year. I am thankful!
This year, we welcomed grandchild #6 into this world, baby Olivia. Thank you Kelly and Jason, for this precious little treasure! 😀
We have six grandchildren now. That in itself seems incredible to me, surreal. It is the source of my deepest gratitude, an affirmation that I have accomplished my mission in life. I feel like I have passed some sort of test. Like my First Grade self when he did a good job, the Universe has put a star on my forehead – six stars actually!
Here is a picture of them at their group baptism a few months ago:
I am thankful for each one of them. It is so fun watching them grow. It is hard to believe Max is already four, and Kenzie two! Thank you, Megan and Mike, for always leading the way!
None of this would have been possible without my children. I am so very proud of the good people they are. Accomplished, hard-working, generous, kind, loving, intelligent, fun. A father could simply not ask for more! – All four are married now, as this year Kevin married Natalie in a spectacular wedding! Welcome to the fam, Natalie!
Before that, Kevin invited me to his bachelor party. I was honored to be included in a group of such outstanding young men. Of course, a great time was had by all, and… I made friends with a wolf!
We made several trips this year to our Ohio homeland to visit with family, and we were visited in Winston Salem by my daughter Ginny, husband James, and their Helena, Sylvie and Alexander. We enjoyed some fun, hot-summer days with dinosaurs, the SciWorks Children’s Museum, haircuts with grandma Gail, violin shopping, and what-not. Our doors are always open to visitors from afar!
Besides our trips to Ohio, Gail and I enjoyed several other trips, starting with our winter birding trip in January with our Forsyth Audubon group. This year we went to the South Carolina coast. Among the countless memorable moments, we logged another life bird, this lovely Roseate Spoonbill:
In February, we met up with my brother Ed and wife Genie at the Chicago Auto Show for their charity event. What a fun weekend with an incredibly fun couple!
May was an outstanding month of Spring migration birding. This year we revisited two separate spectacular locations: the New River Birding and Nature Festival in West Virginia, and Magee Marsh in Ohio. Most memorable moments were Kevin and Natalie joining us for a day at Magee Marsh!
In October, we enjoyed a few days on horseback at our annual trip with Eric to Pisgah View Ranch. Great weather, delicious food, and of course beautiful horses. I enjoyed a night of star-gazing. Eric enjoyed the square dancing!
Earlier this month, we geeked out at the Walker Stalker convention in Atlanta with friends Sally Reed and her daughter Marie. This is THE convention for fans of The Walking Dead. It was awesome to be in the same room with cast members, directors, producers, etc. We took a day to visit several filming locations. What fun! Here’s a pic with Carol! Carol!!
After that, we drove down to New Orleans, a city that had somehow escaped Gail and me. It was our first time in NOLA and we touristed the heck out of it! Some people are probably still reeling from our excessive Facebook pictures and checkins. Ha!
Oh yeah, another thing this year, I quit my job! For the past 8 years I have been working as an Internal Medicine hospitalist in Winston Salem, for a company that has changed hands twice during those eight years. Too many things had changed, and not all for the better. So, 33 years into my career, I quit, again, to start something new, again! I am now working purely as a locum tenens, independent contractor, doing the same Internal Medicine hospitalist work, now in several locations throughout North Carolina. To organize it all, Gail and I started our own company, Broadwings, PLLC.
Oh, and yet another thing, this year I wrote my first novel! I had already self-published a few small books, but they were nothing compared to this project. I’m pretty proud of it, and I have met a world of creative people who have truly enriched my life. Mission 51 is a fun Science Fiction/Historical Fiction that is still in the works but soon-to-be-published. If you have not checked out the project, I invite you to visit the Mission 51 home page on Inkshares and follow! The book will be dedicated to my immigrant parents, with all my love. 👽
None of these things would be special if they weren’t enjoyed and shared with others. As always, I am so very grateful for the countless wonderful people who are present in my life. Thank you Gail, for sharing every moment. You are the perfect partner, and we make a great team! – Thank you, family. You are my very literal blood. I treasure every moment we are able to spend together. – Thank you friends and eFriends, here, there, and all over the world. I value every interaction I have with you. You make me feel like a true citizen of the world. I feel the love! – And thank you, Universe, for the gifts of loving parents, loving family, loving friends, good health, food on the table, roof over my head, education, opportunities, satisfying work, and for my energy and curiosity.