Wednesday, February 27, 2013

This Post Sucks ... (but it ain't the only thing)

I was at a friend's house this weekend. A group of us were sitting around the fireplace on his back porch drinking and chatting about life in general. It was chilly, but the big blizzard was still 24 hours out and the the fire was blazing so all was good.

The writer in me studied the group. An eclectic group on many levels. Almost sitcom-esque in makeup. The cigar smoking former Chippendale waiter turned big shot executive. The hairy rum swilling writer of women's fiction. An Australian triathlete. And don't forget Aaron, modeling his Hungarian Elmer Fudd hat.

Our wives were inside stirring soup and plotting adventures.

As we waited on even more of our group to arrive Murph, the cigar smoking host looked at me and asked, "Did I show you my new toy."

Those of us already in attendance proceeded tot he garage where Murph unveiled a gleaming Harley. He fired that bad boy up and told me to hop on. I shook my head.

"Come on take it for a spin."
"Nope. Not me. I'm fat and hairy but that doesn't make me a biker."

***********

Speaking of Murph. Last week I went to a brand new doctor and much to my surprise the man talked exactly like my friend. So much so I couldn't help, but smile all the way through my physical. Now I'm sure my new doc thinks I'm some kind of weirdo and trust me the last thing you wanna do is grin like a damned fool when another man has you by the balls, but his inflection, tone and vocabulary were so eerily similar to my buddy I simply couldn't stop myself.

And that wasn't event he oddest thing about my visit.

I had to surrender some blood for a variety of test but I have notoriously bad veins. The roll, collapse and are deep and hard to find for even the most seasoned of nurses. The nurse tasked with extracting my blood was around my age maybe a few years younger and she tried hard but thirty minutes in she was getting pretty frustrated as her failed bid to become a vampire.

Finally she manged to get in a vein but my blood was tricking out one drip ... drop ... at ... a ... time. We would be there all ... day ... at ... that ... rate, so she reached for a syringe and said, "When I can't get what I want out of a man I usually suck it out."

I didn't want to snort but damn that was funny. Realizing her mistake she looked at me and said, "That sounded bad didn't it?"

I shrugged and said, "Well, I've had a lot more ominous threats presented to me."
  






Friday, February 22, 2013

Life Always Has Its Lumps

Lots of things transpired during my 6 month blog hiatus. Turns out, life rolls on whether you blog about it or not. The high, lows and everything in between. Once upon a time I shared them all with y'all because that is how friends are. And frankly doing so helped hone my writing skills and turn me into a better writer. 

Today I'd like to share some of my writing that also happens to tie into perhaps the most significant event that happened during my blogging hiatus.

I was raised by a single mother that had to work full-time to support me and my brother. I was lucky enough to have a great set of grandparents that also were heavily involved in my life. Many of y'all have read the memoir I wrote about my grandfather's passing in conjunction with the birth and subsequent heart surgery of my oldest son.  Sadly back in December my grandmother joined my grandfather in the everafter. 
  
My Granny Howery shaped who I am as she was second only to my mom in influence in my life. As many of you know I've been working on a comedic memoir/cookbook/manifesto title Lettuce Is The Devil. Until my grandmother's passing I'd never shared one scrap of that project, but Chapter 3 showcased much of how I felt and was influenced by my grandmother so I shared it on Facebook and today I want to share it with those of you who do not follow me there. Today I've added a few photos to enhance the story.

From Chapter 3 of Lettuce Is the Devil : The Culinary Dogma of a Devout Meat Man

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve proclaimed the words, “Lettuce is the Devil,” I’d have enough money to purchase a lush mountain valley, complete with a herd of well-marbled Bonsmara beef cattle and a gurgling stream, teaming with fat and hungry trout and meandering by a nice spacious log cabin, containing two huge copper beer vats -- full to the brim of dark malty ale. Yes, my friends I would be in Meat Man utopia. 


But alas, spreading the gospel has not brought me that kind of fame or fortune to this point, which is why I thank you for purchasing this tomè and helping to remedy that gross injustice. Furthermore, now seems like a fine time for me to point out that this book would make a fine gift to all your friends, family and fellow countrymen, whether they happen to already be a righteous member of the meat loving brethren in need of fellowship, or a sinful, veggie-phyte in dire need of enlightenment.


Now let’s get back to my personal motto, “Lettuce is the Devil.” Upon utterance of these ever-so-truthful words I am met with a wide variety of responses. 


A fellow Meat Man is likely to offer an immediate high-five, or perhaps a military salute, whereas a vegetarian is apt to give a nervous chuckle. Vegans often swoon and faint on the spot, but given their frail and anemic dispositions that is no rare occurrence. 


The vast majority of omnivores respond with a question. “Okay, I’ll bite,” they say. “If lettuce is the devil, what is God?”


God.


The All-Mighty. 


Lord Of All Creation.


No food can live up to such lofty titles, so it is at this point I have to explain that when I say … “Lettuce is the Devil,” I don’t mean in the physical, forked tail and gleaming red eyes kind of way, so much as I mean the ultimate evil -- the epitome of the joy-sapping darkness draining all happiness and color from this world.


Therefore, the Anti-Devil, the divine, the most heavenly edible on this earth is not to be thought of as creator or even as the All-Knowing deity that people the world over turn to in times of need. No, the culinary king of peace, the messiah of mealtime is more of a savory savior. A righteous symbol of all that is good and right in the universe. It makes the dinner place a better place to sit. It heals, soothes, nourishes, and brings hope to even the most horrendous of slop. 


So what is this virtuous vittle? 


Steak -- perhaps, a nicely marinated rib-eye, or maybe even a porterhouse?





Nope. 


I concede steak is a worthy and wholesome meal, as well as a palate pleasing source of nutrition, but not even a perfectly cooked piece of beef can heal everything it touches. Steak does not make everything it comes in contact with taste better.


Bacon then you say? Surely it must the God of meats. After all, it makes everything it touches taste better. People even sprinkles bits of it on salad to improve the taste.



You are correct. Lettuce munchers do use bacon, and let me add what a terrible waste of pig flesh. Bacon, the candy of the meat world can and will help to cover the vile taste of the evil green one, but despite its tasty crunch and satisfying flavor, bacon is not The One, for it lacks the soothing tranquility necessary to bring about change. And the pure and holy food would never allow itself to be associated with bits of salad.


I hear the rumblings of the congregations, the impatience of the doubting Thomases. Not steak. Not Bacon.


They are the dynamic duo. The superheroes of the butcher shop. What meat could possibly be more righteous than either steak or bacon?

Hold onto your cleaver my friends, but the Yahweh of Yummy is not technically even a meat.


The Anti-Devil, The Supreme Culinary Comfort, the Dietary Deity is … Brown Gravy.


Do not be fooled its viscous nature, Brown Gravy's classification as food is steadfast and solid. Beverages are served in glasses, mugs, bottles, cans, and a variety of stemware. Dipping sauces come in dainty little bowls and ramekins. But like the very forefathers that forged this nation, Brown Gravy arrives in a boat.


Brown Gravy is forged from the juice of meat. Its base, the savory fluid, is the very essence of meat. But in a display of tolerance, love, and harmony Brown Gravy combines this delectable nectar with flour, the powdery essence of the wheat plant and transforms into the most holy of foods. Thick and meaty of flavor, and capable of supper time salvation, Brown Gravy can turn a plain ground beef patty into a hamburger steak. Let me say that again. Ground beef into a steak. Remind you of someone famous that once turned water into wine? 


Let me hear an AMEN!


And along those same lines it is said Jesus fed the masses with but a few loaves and a couple of fish. My mother used to do the same thing, only on a smaller scale, by feeding her two hungry teenage boys with half a pound of round steak and a boatload of Brown Gravy. No one knows how to stretch the budget better than a single mom.


But Brown Gravy’s miraculous ability to save does not end there. Picture this … you have a grill full of burgers going when that hot neighbor next door decides to mow her lawn. In a string bikini. Distracted you fail to notice the flare-ups. In a matter of minutes your tasty burgers shrivel and die. You could feed the dry, hockey puck like patties to the dog, but the game is about to start so you don’t have to time to cook yourself more. What is a Meat Man to do? Easy, whip up a quick batch of brown gravy, pour the ambrosia over the burgers and all is well for everyone but Fido.


Or your time of crisis could come as a result of your wife’s hysterectomy, when taking pity on you, your mother-in-law brings over her “World Famous” meatloaf to help feed the family. Until that moment in time you never realized “World Famous” was a synonym for bland, tasteless, and dry, but as your starving kids gaze upon you with those sad, do-we-really-have-to-eat-this eyes you remember that packet of brown gravy just sitting up there in the cupboard waiting to embrace a bad meal and turn it into something good.


I’ll grant you that fresh, totally homemade Brown Gravy, the kind grandma used to make is the best, but part of the beauty of Brown Gravy is that even emergency rations, such as the powder-filled, ready-made packets, offer hope and peace in times of need.


Legend has it that as a small child I’d eat anything. Whirled peas, spinach, purred carrots. My family tells me this was the case until just after my fourth birthday when I got deathly sick, and ran a high temperature for days,. They say I laid there sweating and shivering in that hospital bed. They say I nearly died. They say, the day my fever broke was the last day I was willing to eat vegetables.




Now I suppose there are several ways to explain this change. Perhaps I saw a light and realized life is too damned short to spend eating crap that tastes like weeds and lawn clippings. Perhaps I figured out eating all that “nutritious” stuff damn near killed me. Perhaps a carnivorous angel watched over me and whispered meaty lullabies in my ear while my body fought to survive. Truthfully, I don’t really care what brought about the change, I’m just mighty glad the truth found me, and at such an early age that my body, mind, and taste buds were not tainted beyond repair. 


Not that my family didn't try to perpetuate the damage. As the saying goes, misery loves company so my kinfolk, especially my mom, tried to turn me back to vegetables. For years, I battled my mom and others at mealtime.


You can’t go outside and play until you eat EVERYTHING on your plate.
How are you ever going to grow up big and tall if you don’t eat your veggies?
I don’t care if we have to sit here all night neither one of us is getting up from the table until you’ve eaten those three green beans. 

 
Yep, we had some battles.


My mom won her share, but this book is evidence that in the end, she lost the war.


Lucky for me, I could count on one steady and constant ally. – my Grandmother, or Granny Howery as I called her. 


Granny Howery not only told everyone else to leave me alone, but fearing my stubborn streak would lead to starvation, she went out of her way to make the few things I was willing to eat. Like Brown Gravy. And no one, made Brown Gravy like my Granny Howery.


It didn’t matter what else she cooked my grandmother ALWAYS made a batch of Brown Gravy, special for me. Many a time the family ate casserole, or goulash, or stew while I dipped fresh, hot buttery dinner rolls in Brown Gravy.


“Oh, leave him alone,” my grandmother would say to my mom, aunts, and uncles. “At least he’s eating something.”


Granny Howery steadfastly defended me to others, but in private she’d sometimes whisper, “You really should eat some vegetables. You don’t wanna get rickets.”


To this day I’m not sure what rickets actually is, but I do know I never got them, and at six-foot five, and nearly three-hundred pounds I’m kind of glad I didn’t eat all that stuff, for I do believe I’m as big and strong as anybody needs to be.


Not all Brown Gravy is as good or smooth as Granny Howery’s Brown Gravy, sometimes there are even a few lumps in it, but you know what? Life ain’t always fair, or easy. A Meat Man, however, knows how to deal with the trouble. A Meat Man embraces all situations. A Meat man follows Covenant #3 ...

DON’T LET THE LUMPS SLOW YOU DOWN

Like I said, me and my mom waged many a battle over my Meat Man or in those days, Meat Boy, diet. My dad was even worse, but given the fact he only showed up every six months or so those conflicts were sporadic at best. 


By the time I was seven or eight my mom had begun to realize the cause was lost. She'd mostly given up the fight, except when others were around. I suppose she feared criticism of her parenting skills for allowing me to eat only meat and bread. Maybe she worried they would call CPS and turn her in for not providing proper nutrition. Heck, maybe they all whispered in her ear, “That boy is gonna get rickets if you don’t start making him eat his vegetables.” All I know is the last real skirmish of our war occurred at a family function up in Denver, Colorado. Had we been boxers, it would've been dubbed – The Mile High Melee.




I believe it was a funeral, but I suppose it could’ve been a wedding. Whatever the reason we'd made the six hour trek north and were staying with some cousins. There was lots of extended family around. So many that we kids were not allowed in the kitchen to make our own plates. Given that we were nearly four hundred miles from Granny Howery’s kitchen the chances were slim to none that Brown Gravy would be served, so I was already dreading the meal, even before my mom handed over my plate.


A slice of ham, a dinner roll, some kind of nasty pink marshmallowy casserole stuff, and three green beans. Staring down in horror, I didn’t realize those three green beans were about to be the stuff of legend. Sorry Jack, but no tale of beans, yes even those of Fee-Fi-Fo fame, has spawned as much grief for their owner as that trio of legumes did me.


I ate the ham.
I ate the biscuit.
I fed the pink marshmallow goo to my cousins' Afghan hound, but the big hairy bastard wouldn’t eat so much as one of the green beans.


Man’s best friend my ass. A few years later that same Afghan sunk its teeth into my hand and I have no doubt the bite was retaliation for my repeated attempts to poke those beans down its throat. Never before, or after, did the pooch show even the slightest sign of aggression.


After a while my mom wandered over to the kids table. “You’re not going to go play with the other kids until you eat those green beans.”


I stared at her.
She stared back.


“Hurry up, Travis,” said my cousin Keith. “So we can go outside and play hide and seek.”


I shot him a look.


“Fine, I’ll eat them for you,” he said.


“Oh no you won’t,” chimed in my mom from across the room. “Earlier she hadn’t been paying a damned bit of attention, but now she was in heat seeking missile mode. Maybe she’d seen the Afghan licking his pink lips and realized I’d do anything to avoid eating the undesirable elements on my plate.


I sat there.
I begged.
I pleaded.
I cried.
I pouted.
And eventually got my way --sort of.


I was forced to go to bed extra early, while my cousins ran and played. But, I didn’t eat those three green beans.


The funeral, wedding or whatever it was had been the day before so the next morning the family loaded up a Winnebago and headed into the snowy mountains. This was the late seventies, so the RV was one of those huge, tin-boxes on wheels. Our clan was headed up near Winter Park to go tubing. We kids sat in the back, staring out the Winnebago’s rear window while making rude gestures at the unlucky motorists behind us. All the way up the mountain pass, my cousins teased me about having to go to bed early ... all because I wouldn’t eat three stupid green beans.


Bean boy.
Sprout.
Jolly Green Crybaby.


I took the taunts of my older cousins with all the grace, dignity, and unassuming gusto as any eight-year-old boy would. By whining, crying and complaining to any adult that would listen. But I didn't find so much as a single sympathetic ear as they all too thought I should've eaten those three green beans. Granny Howery had stayed back in Denver with the other senior set.


Things settled down when we reached out destination and we’d been tubing the better part of the day when it happened.


For those who have never gone tubing let me explain this rather simple activity. You take a inflatable inner tube, flop yourself down on it and slide down the mountain.



The laidback tuber prefers the butt in the hole position, as if they were simply floating along a gentle river, whereas the more daring folk assumed a belly down deployment so as to hurdle down the mountainside head first. Either way, getting from point A, at the top of the hill, to point B, several hundred yards down the hill, was relatively easy. Gravity did all the work.


However, getting from point B, back to Point A, was not nearly as convenient. In those days the process involved laying supine on the tube and holding onto a handle which was attached to a cable which pulled you back up. Sounds rather innocent, but after a long day of fun my eight-year-old arms began to tire.


There I was, getting hauled back to the top for the umpteenth time when I simply gave out and let go.


Gravity took over.


I plunged downward.


Sliding feet-first, I went no more than seven or eight feet before I collided with my mom. In a domino case of cause and effect, my snow boots impacted the side of her head, bringing about the release of her tenuous grip. With two tubers hurling down it wasn't long until a slew of folks were gathered up in an avalanche of flesh and rubber heading the wrong direction. Most happened to be related to me, but there were a few unsuspecting and innocent strangers among the disgruntled and battered bodies at the bottom of the hill.


Some were groaning, a few were cussing and most were trying to assess their various bumps, scrapes and bruises when Keith piped up and said, “Dang, it Travis. You should’ve eaten those three green beans.”


Three decades have passed since then. One for each of those green beans and yet, to this day I am known as the-kid-who-wouldn’t-eat-his-veggies. The family still talks about their minor injuries that day as if they lost limbs and shed copious amounts of blood, but they have never found a empathetic listener in me. For I know, had they fed me Brown Gravy rather than a trio of legumes, they could have easily avoided their lumps.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Right Balance to Write

There are two realities every writer needs to know. So I read a tweet in my twitter stream the other day.

1) You will never make every reader happy.
2)You will never make yourself completely happy. (because the end product never quite lives up to the vision)

I agree on both accounts but the first reality never has plague me much. I can handle both criticism and a discerning viewpoint. My years as a high school football ref here in Texas were great for teaching me that skill. Matter of fact I wish people were more direct and blunt in their criticism for it is easier to see where they are coming from and sometimes even agree and fix the problem when it is clearly stated.

That second reality has plagued me the last few years. Back when I first started writing it was all enthusiasm and bluster. I wrote hoping but not truly expecting others would read my words. As I have found a measure of success over the years I now expect, though I am at times disappointed, that whatever I'm writing will see the light of day. With that expectation comes an innate pressure to make it absolutely perfect. To make the story and characters on paper every bit as alive and vibrant as the they are in the movie running through my brain.

And that my friends is an impossible task. As the author I will always know more about the story and its inhabitants than my readers. I understand this, but I struggle with the paradox. And this struggle has turned me into a very slow writer. Which is why there has been no follow up to THE FEEDSTORE CHRONICLES despite the fine folks over at TAG Publishing urging me on. It is why I migrated away from the blog. It is why I have a handful of projects in various stages of incompleteness.

But I'm not going to let this self imposed pressure define me or stop me from writing. I'm going to find a way to face the reality that no story I ever write will feel totally complete in my mind.

I know I am not alone. Many authors have battled such feelings. Perhaps that is why so many authors are known alcoholics.

Truman Capote once said, "I drink , because that's the only way I can stand it."

Edgar Allan Poe lived to see his 40th birthday but barely and while the exact cause of his death is unknown alcohol, drugs, rabies, suicide, tuberculosis, and other causes have been cited.

O Henry, the master of the twist died an alcoholic at 48.

The list goes on and on. Faulkner, Bukowski, Fitzgerald, Kerouac, and of course Hemingway.

I am not trying to compare myself to any of these writers as they certainly had way more pressure and expectations on their shoulders. I am saying I understand where their compulsion to drink just might have came from. Of course the world is stocked full of drunkards without a drop of literary ambition so perhaps I am reaching here.

I guess this post is as much for myself and my close writing friends as much as anything. May it serve as a reminder perfection is not why we began writing, but excitement. Enthusiasm for telling a good story And that should not change regardless if but a few, or many happen to read our creations. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

Chef Boy-r-T

How do you follow a post about bathroom fixtures? With one about food of course.

But rest assured I washed my hands thoroughly between the two.

My love of all things meaty is no secret. And I'll go ahead and say it, I know how to handle my meat. This carnivore can cook some animal flesh. Smoker, BBQ grill, crockpot. Regardless of the means, I can hold my own. And no, that is not a reference back to the urinal post.

And believe it or not. I'm not talking about tossing a hunk of beef on hot grates and calling it good. Though there are times when that is exactly what needs done. But I am capable of getting a touch fancier with my meals. But sometimes my boys are skeptical and do not want to try new things. So I reinvent them.

Case in point -- Pirate Chicken

Now this is one of my favorite summertime meals. In truth it is coconut lime chicken, but when I called it that my boys wouldn't eat it. The next time I served it up I called it pirate chicken and they tore into with happy little taste buds.

Here is how it's created ...

Take 6 to 8 boneless skinless chicken breasts put them in a glass baking dish. 
Pour in coconut rum until there is a thin layer of liquid covering bottom of dish.
Cover the top of each breast with cream of coconut.



Bake in over at 325 degrees for around 30 minutes. (I can't tell you exactly because I like to sip the remainder of the run during this process and we all know how time flies when you're having rum.)

 

Heat up your grill.

Take breast out of oven and and place on hate grill. A few minutes on each side does it. While its cooking brush on a thin layer of cream of coconut and sprinkled shredded coconut on top. 

Once the chicken is browned pull it off and squeeze fresh lime juice onto the breast pieces. Sprinkle sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to your taste.

I highly recommend you pair this with a Shiner Ruby Red.

 

Okay, I know it may have shocked you to realize 1)I don't always eat beef, 2) I actually recommend squeezing the juice of something green onto your food, and 3) I touted a beer brewed with grapefruit juice so let me get back to some good Texas beef with this next one.

My boys won't eat roast. Or so they think. They claim roast is bland and tasteless. So when I make it I spice it up and call it Mexican Brisket.

Pick a roast that will fit in your crockpot. (pot roast, rump roast whatever kind is fine by me. I like them all and go for whatever I can get the best price on.)

Get some Fiesta Brand (salt free) Fajita Seasoning. It looks like this. (most stores, at least around here carry it)


Rub the entire roast down with the seasoning. Just enough where it sticks to the meat and covers it like freckles on that red headed girl you knew back in grade school. Yes, that is a genuine cooking term. thanks for asking.

Next pour in Worcestershire Sauce into your crockpot until it thoroughly cover the bottom of the pot. Add in couple of tablespoons of liquid smoke . Place roast inside and pour a cup of salsa on top. I use Old Tascosa myself and consider it the best.


But it is made right here in Amarillo and not widely distributed outside the region so unless you go here to their store and order it, or live nearby you are going to have to substitute some other brand. Y'all know I don't eat vegetables in their natural form but in liquid form such as hot sauce, pizza sauce and ketchup they are not nearly as evil.

Back to the roast. Put the lid on and cook that sucker for 6, 7, even 8 hours on low. I usually start this on in the morning, go to work and come home ready to dig in. The meat usually shreds easy and is quite tasty inside a flour tortilla. My boys eat it and even have said, "This is so much tastier than roast."

There you go folks. two of my favorite recipes that go beyond a hunk of animal flesh over a fire. Try 'em out and let me know what you think.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Taking a Stand

So there I was, standing, conducting my business when it struck me just how unoriginal and predictable we men are.

How else to you explain the word urinal.


Urinals are manly domain. I suppose a daring woman could perfect a leaning hover move and use one in certain circumstances but their back would get wet at the very least. Now we men are quite proud of our ability to stand and piss at the same time, but our multitasking ability seems to end there. Apparently, we are unable to use our brains as well. Perhaps we simply are incapable of thinking while holding our junk.

How else do you explain an asinine term like urinal. Sure it beats the urinator, but not by much.

The word urinal certainly does not compare with toilet, loo, bidet. And your regular unisex plumbing fixture carry a plethora of nicknames crapper, the head, porcelain throne, john, privy, the can and so forth. But if there are other terms for the urinal I'm unaware. (In recollection I did once hear a drunk man call one a piss trough but that was on relation tot he thing below and not what I'd call a true urinal)


I could diverge here and wax on poetically about the joys of gathering with a variety of drunken sports fans to piss together into a glorified bathtub, but I'm not. You men have already experienced this brand of camaraderie and you women will only shake your head. Come to think of it that is the final step in the prcess for men as well.

Moving on.

I am still baffled that we can have urinals like these ...






... and still not have a better word.

Sad thing even as a writer my imagination fails me at the moment.



Thursday, February 14, 2013

Long Time Forgotten

Once upon a  time this blog was my oasis. It was where I came to vent, rant, commiserate, and meet up with my friends. Not sure how many friends I still have who subscribe or bother to check this blog but not that I FINALLY finished rewrites on what I hope is going to be my next book I felt compelled to revitalize this blog.

I'm not sure if I'm getting lazier or life truly is getting that much busier but wow do I miss the good old days when I wrote this blog on a daily basis, as well as 2K-5K words of fiction each and every day.
Since my last update I've turned 40 so perhaps I'm just getting lazy in my middle age.

I had hinted at a big announcement in the last few post I wrote. At the time it had seemed I was about to embark on a huge endeavor. Sadly, my faith in that endeavor ever happening is not what it once was. I can;t say much as I did sign a confidentiality clause but the "big announcement" had something to do with TV cameras and me living with a group of strangers in a competitive setting. I would use the word reality but at this point after many hops and much effort the reality is I'm not very confidant its all going to come together.

So moving on.

A plethora of my friends have published books as of late.I won't inundate you with long flowery praise for these folks but I guarantee you there is a book or three on this list for all tastes so if you are looking for a good read check out a few of these. Most are available as both e-books and print editions.

THE RAINBIRD WAR by ALEX KETO -- When Richard Goodwin returns to Kenya after 15 years, he’s shocked to see that the peaceful colony he left as a child is gripped by bloody rebellion: the vicious Mau Mau are murdering settlers, burning villages, and slaughtering livestock in their bid to take back the land. Swept into the ruthless fighting as the killings mount, Richard wonders if he has another enemy, too—an insider who somehow knows his unit's location and wants him dead. Is it someone among the decadent, drug-addled settler aristocracy, or one of the two women he’s in love with?

FORSADA by PETER DUDLEY -- Lupay isn't afraid of fighting, but what can one girl do against an army?Thousands of Southshawans, whipped into a war frenzy by a fundamentalist demogague, are poised to sweep in and crush her home of Tawtrukk, and Lupay is powerless to stop it.

Or is she?

Driven into hiding and pursued even into the depths of the mountain, Lupay and her friens do their best to resist. But resistance won't withstand the onslaught forever, and ultimately Lupay must choose: flee into the radioactive barrens of the Desolation, or rise up and fight fire with fire, like the legendary Tawtrukk warrior queen, Forsada.

Forsada is the second book in the New Eden series, which begins with SEMPER. You can get SEMPER at Amazon here: bit.ly/semperbook
 

FLICKER by MELANIE HOOYENGA -- Biz is a perfectly normal teenager except for one minor detail: she uses sunlight to jump back to yesterday. She takes advantage of flickering by retaking Trig tests, fixing fights with her boyfriend (or reliving the making up), and repeating pretty much anything that could be done better. Trouble is, flickering makes her head explode from the inside. Or feel like it anyway.

No one knows about her freakish ability and she’s content to keep it that way. Guys don't stick around because she refuses to let them in, but all that changes when Cameron, her best friend, starts looking oh-so-yummy. Suddenly she's noticing his biceps, his smile, and the cute way his eyes crinkle when he—gah! This is her friend!

But the butterflies come to a screeching halt when little girls start disappearing, then take a nosedive when the police link the kidnappings to Cameron's sister, who vanished years earlier. As the police grasp for clues, Biz photographs a strange man lurking in the shadows and realizes that her flickering can help more than just herself.


FOREST OF THE FORSAKEN by JOANNE BROTHWELL -- Forbidden love. Buried secrets. The ultimate betrayal.

Following her mother’s death to cancer, Meg’s world crashes in around her. Her father re-marries within weeks of their loss, her step-mother is cold and rejecting, and her new step-brother, Joey, has some rather unusual sexual preferences. Meg’s only hope is to move away and leave her father and the dark memories behind.

When her father forces her to attend his honeymoon with this new and unwanted blended family, Meg finds herself in the remote wilderness of the Rocky Mountains, miles from civilization. Meg begins to see things in the forbidding forest—strange, unexplainable things she believes are the result of compounding stress. But when her father and step-mother disappear, leaving Meg and Joey to fend for themselves, lost and without supplies, she realizes her terrifying visions are not merely her imagination after all.

Will Meg and Joey find their way back to civilization? Or will they submit to the darkness within the Forest of the Forsaken?

In this eerie, erotic adaptation of Hansel and Gretel, the fairy tale ending may be far from happy.


BUCK and TANGEE: THINGS THAT HAPPENED by JON ZECH -- I thought when I finished this book, I was through writing. My editor thought otherwise and said I had to write something for the back cover to sort of sum up what the book was about. I guess that makes sense, and I figured it would be easy. It wasn't. Every time I tried to chop a forty page section down to two or three sentenses, it sounded stupid. Look:
The first section is about how my brother, Roy, and I tried to start a men'sonly, beer allowed, version of one of those PlastiQueen kitchenware parties. It didn't go well. There. See? Does that sound like a story you'd want to read? Maybe.

And the second part, about how four buddies and I took a trip out to Vegas in a reconditioned, forty-year-old school bus. Lots of things happened, but I can't cut any of them down to just a few words. Okay, here's one: When we pulled in to our very first overnight campsite, we had no idea we'd wake up in the morning, axel deep in.... No. I'm just not going to spoil it.

Then in the third section, Tangee got a job and I wrote this book. There, right? Not fair. Look, buy this book and read it. Then email me and tell me how you would have squashed it all into two hundred and fifty words.

I'm going to call it good for today with these five but I will include others in upcoming posts.

Today's sample has some Historical Fiction, Young Adult, Erotica, and Comedy. Please check them out.