This Symbol Does Not Belong To You

Last year, Nike planned on introducing their Betsy Ross shoes. They were basically a variety of fancy red, white, and blue sneakers with the original Betsy Ross flag on them. Kind of cool idea; the sneakerheads dug them. Since they were Nikes, they were probably going to cost a small fortune, but be good shoes. That came to halt because of, among other things, a comment from Colin Kaepernick about the unintentional message of slavery and racial divisions that had become linked to that original flag.

Kool in an “I need orthopedic shoes” kind of way.

Now, I won’t debate Kaepernick on that. He’s probably got a lot more first-hand experience with racism than I ever will. Being a white guy in America, the closest I ever came to being on the receiving end of racism was when a truck was backing up and someone said, “Better move, white boy.”

That was it.

So, for me to say I have some in-depth understanding of racial division in America after one off-handed comment would be a lie. That’s why I’m happy to listen to the guy who found a way to protest systematic racism in this country in a peaceful and respectful way and lost his career over it.

There’s been a growing movement in this country for racist fuck-wads to adopt traditional American symbols – such as our flag – and claim they’re the only ones entitled to it. To claim they’re the only “real Americans”. But, the country was supposedly founded on freedom and equality and, in my mind, that means knocking other people down to feel better about yourself is anathema to being an American.

And that’s a problem because at the end of the day, we’re all Americans and you don’t get to point at someone and say, “You’re not American enough”. And, yes, I am fully aware that right now I am pointing at people and saying, “You’re not American enough”. The difference is, I’m not pointing at people because of the color of their skin or their sexual preferences or what religion they belong to. I’m pointing at all the motherfuckers that have managed to turn the flag of my country into a manifesto of white nationalism. I’m pointing at every dipshit who thinks only people in his or her party love the country. Yes, I’m pointing my finger straight between your beady little eyes and reminding you that I’m a liberal and I was proud of my country before every two-bit, knuckle-dragging, mouth-breathing pieces of double-smoked butt-jerky decided it was theirs.

So, no. You assholes don’t get to keep the flag. That flag belongs to everyone in this country whether you like them or not. And I think it’s time we took it back from the bastards who want to keep it from us.

Maybe, just maybe, we’ll be able to remember what our country is supposed to stand for and be able to wear its symbols without giving handouts to the Nazi swine. We’re not a perfect country and we have a long way to go before we get the “Liberty and justice for all” part of our nation’s story. Until then, I’m going to at least rip that flag out of the hands of the ones who’d use it to beat the rest of us down.

WATWB – Your Monthly Shot of News That Doesn’t Suck

The aeroplane and the radio have brought us closer together. The very nature of these inventions cries out for the goodness in men – cries out for universal brotherhood – for the unity of us all.

Charlie Chaplin, The Great Dictator

It’s Thanksgiving in America, that magical time where we slaughter turkeys to celebrate something or other. Honestly, it’s usually just a good time to hang out with friends and family and enjoy a shit-ton of food. 2020, of course, had to change all that. The sane among us celebrated only with close family or alone or wised up and used some of the many tools we’ve used this year to stay together while remaining apart. The insane, or at least the completely uncaring bastards among us, got together and threw monster parties because reasons. Maybe a bit of luck will shine through and we won’t see a massive spike in sickness and death just in time for them to repeat the trick around Xmas.

But beyond the pandemic picking away us like the rats in Johnny Got His Gun. Even beyond the fact that economies are teetering on the brink and idiocy is still running rampant in Washington. Even beyond all the madness of 2020, there is still a shining light out there.

We live in a magical world.

I tweeted earlier today that I should Microsoft a thank you letter for XBox Live. Now, I don’t much care for online gaming, but it’s saved my son’s sanity in a time when seeing his friends in person means yelling across the park at each other. Now they can spend all night shooting each other or racing each other, hooting and hollering, and still keep safely apart. Seriously, if it wasn’t for online gaming, he probably would have lost his shit by now.

We all would have. Twenty years ago video calling was relegated to specialized setups that cost a small fortune. Now, you can do it on the phone in your pocket. I’ve spoken to people who set up Zoom meetings and had Thanksgiving dinner with their families even though they were scattered all over the country. We’re connected eight ways to Sunday and none of this technology is brand new; we’re just discovering how important it can be.

Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator was released in 1940. It was the first time he spoke in a movie and that last speech was amazing. It was a time when radio and airplanes were the same approximate age as teleconferencing is now. They were still magical things. Game changing things. Things that helped people come closer together. Flash forward 80 years and we have our game-changing things, our own ways to bring ourselves together.

Normally, this would be the point where I’d bust out some feel-good story to prove that the world’s not going to shit. That, after all, is the WATWB way; share a little love through some happy news. There’s plenty of that, too. Not one, but three possible Covid vaccines. A new era in Washington. A bit of new hope on the horizon. But I didn’t become a writer to follow the rules. Here’s your bit of happiness: Even though we’ve been pulled apart, we have ways to bring ourselves back together. All we have to do is use them.

If you’d like to connect your blog and help spread a little joy (or snark, like I do), it’s easy to sign up. Just ask and ye shall receive. Or go check it out here: here.

Check out this month’s co-hosts: Lizbeth HartzInderpreet UppalShilpa GargDamyanti Biswasand Roshan Radhakrishnan 

~~~GUIDELINES~~~

1. Keep your post to below 500 words, as much as possible. (Wow, I totally missed that mark this time around).

2. All we ask is you link to a human news story on your blog on the last Friday of each month, one that shows love, humanity and brotherhood.

3. Join us on the last Friday of each month in sharing news that warms the cockles of our heart. No story is too big or small, as long as it goes beyond religion and politics, into the core of humanity.

4. Place the WE ARE THE WORLD Badge on your sidebar, and help us spread the word on social media. Tweets, Facebook shares, G+ shares using the #WATWB hashtag through the month most welcome. More Blogfest signups mean more friends, love and light for all of us.

5. We’ll read and comment on each others’ posts, get to know each other better, and hopefully, make or renew some friendships with everyone who signs on as participants in the coming months.

6. To sign up, add your link in WE ARE THE WORLD Linky List below.

This is a Blog Hop!

Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…

And now your moment of Zen.

Book Review – Timberwolf: Symmetry by Tom Julian

I really love sci-fi that doesn’t pull punches. All too often, sci-fi stories show a humanity that’s evolved beyond our petty differences and everyone comes together to fight some alien monster that represents our past prejudices or fears. Reality will probably be far different. We’ll likely upgrade our differences along with our tech and entrench our worst natures even further in the face of an emotionless void.

Back in 2015 – in the before times, in the long, long ago – Tom Julian released the first installation of what would become the Timberwolf saga. Now, five years seems like a long time, like Julian was pulling a Martin and painting his house, but the extended cook time has yielded the beginnings of what looks like it’ll be a great space opera. Think Peter Hamilton’s Reality Dysfunction series or Alistair Reynolds’ Revelation Space series. Gritty, nasty stories filled with less-than-stellar people doing what less-than-stellar people do best.

The basic gist of Timberwolf was a war between religious zealots, giant spiders, and everyone else who just wanted the religious zealots and giant spiders to go the hell away. Like all good wars, the war of Timberwolf didn’t end, so much as shift in ways no one expected it to. Now, in addition to the religious zealots and giant spiders, new elements have been added: the last remaining brother of Highland and a race of giant cats that were stuck in time for a few million years.

While Timberwolf itself was a complete story, it really worked as an intro to the larger story arc. It set up all the pieces and got the conflict going. Timberwolf: Symmetry points the car at interstellar war and stomps on the gas.

But it’s not just god, guts, guns, and glory. Julian takes the time to flesh out the characters and put them in positions that help justify their actions. Old enemies will become allies, at least for the time being. This is the gritty, nasty kind of sci-fi I love to read.

Civil war rages!

Between those that want peace with the rest of the galaxy, and those that want to conquer all they can see. As humanity tears itself apart, the Symmetry awaken – an ancient force that knows nothing but obliteration.

The question is… who woke them up and why? Timberwolf Velez has to figure that out and bring the fight to the most dangerous enemy the human race has ever known.

Action, twists, turns and great characters will keep you turning pages. Book two in the acclaimed Timberwolf series.

Rig up and buy a copy!

Get your copy on Amazon

Check out the Timberwolf FB page

Book Review – Poppy Ogopogo by Susan Faw

Here’s a fun fact about me: When my son was little, he wanted me to read Dr. Seuss’s Fox In Socks every night for months. If you’ve ever read Fox In Socks, it was Seuss’s attempt to punish the world for wanting to read to their kids. It’s one long, absolutely brutal tongue twister. Imagine stumbling around drunk in the darkness while Luke Luck, his duck, and a mass of tweetle beetles are putting clothespins on your tongue. And then laughing at you when you try to talk. That’s Fox In Socks.

Amazingly, I got pretty good at it after a few months. By that time, I’d mostly memorized the book and had enough practice to know when to slow down and when to speed up and what places were gotchas.

Now my son is older and unless things get blowed up real good, he’s not interested. As a result, I don’t look into children’s books anymore unless something slides across the table at me.

Hence, Poppy Ogopogo.

First up, for those who don’t know, the Ogopogo is a lake monster in a Canada whose sightings go back over a century. Whether the critter is real or not, it’s usually described as a long, snakelike creature that does sinister things like swimming in a lake without a permit. Canadians are big on lake swimming permits.

Poppy Ogopogo, like a lot of children’s books, is a collaborative affair with words by Susan Faw and art by Alison Baker-Rasmussen. In children’s stories, the art is just as important as the words and must match with the text. It wouldn’t do to have a sweeping, epic tale of love at first sight and have all the pictures be charcoal drawings of demons. Unless it was about falling in love with a demon, but that probably won’t be a children’s story any time soon.

Instead of a story about demons, Poppy Ogopogo is perfectly matched tale of an Ogopogo who just wants some friends and the butterflies who make fun of her for not being a butterfly paired with gorgeous art to bring the characters and actions to life. It also confirmed my bias that butterflies are total jerk-faces.

By and by, catastrophe happens and Poppy finds herself in a conundrum. Whether or not to save the butterflies who treat her much like Luke Luck and those damned tweetle beetles treated me. It’s the perfect lesson to teach children and teach them early. And often, if the state of the world is any indication.

If you want to know what choice Poppy makes, you’ll just have to buy the book. It’s a great tale for young kids, especially those who might have an interest in xenobiology (yes, it’s a thing). But even those kids who probably wouldn’t want to spend their lives hunting down Ogopogos, Sasquatches, and Chupacabras should still be able to get into the vibe of beautifully-written story and the gorgeous artwork.

Poppy Ogopogo isn’t beautiful like the butterflies that live on the shores of the lake. Their mean laughter makes her sad, so instead she plays with her imaginary friends.

One day, the butterflies are swept out into the lake. Will Poppy forgive those who hurt her and become a hero?

Or will she leave them to their cruel fate?

Get your copy on Amazon.

Check out Susan’s Twitter feed

Check out Susan’s website

WATWB – Your Monthly Shot Of News That Doesn’t Suck

There’s a lot going on in the world. In addition to riots and shootings, the continued threat of the Cronizzle, and most of California being on fire, we lost a great woman – the Notorious RBG – recently. All in all, not a great year. While it would be easy to get down about all these problems, we still have one very important thing going for us: There are still dogs and they’re still happy to see us.

It’s been known for a while that petting a dog (or a cat) for 10 minutes can reduce your stress. All they ask for in return is food, water, and the entire damned couch. Or maybe that’s just my dogs. We also know that their sense of smell is on the order of 10,000 times more sensitive than ours. Or, to put that in different terms, that means a dog could sniff out a single drop of something in two Olympic-sized pools.

In addition to reducing our stress and taking up all the space on the couch, dogs have been trained to use those keen sniffers to detect cancer, malaria, and other maladies. Now, researchers in Finland have trained dogs to sniff out the Cronizzle – that’s Covid-19 for those of you who aren’t hip and with it.

A couple of the major problems in dealing with Covid-19 are the potentially long burn time of two weeks before someone even knows they have it and asymptomatic carriers who will never know they have it. Pair those things up with an airborn, highly virulent bug, and you’ve got a recipe for a pandemic. While various tests have been kajiggered up in labs around the world, they still take time and money to produce results. A dog can be trained to react to the smell of the virus as it comes out in our sweat and can produce results nearly instantaneously. All they ask in return is that you get off the damned couch so they can really stretch out and would it kill you to get them a blanket and pillow?

You can read the original article here. While you’re out perusing the Internet for more dog-related activities, be sure to check out No Dog Left Behind, the wonderful folks who helped rescue dogs who were left homeless in the wake of Hurricane Laura and Bob The Dog, who’s just too damned cute for words.

If you’d like to connect your blog and help spread a little joy (or snark, like I do), it’s easy to sign up. Just ask and ye shall receive. Or go check it out here: here.

Our lovely and talented hosts this month are: Roshan Radhakrishnan , Shilpa GargPeter Nena, Sylvia Stein, and yours truly.

~~~GUIDELINES~~~

1. Keep your post to below 500 words, as much as possible. (Wow, I totally missed that mark this time around).

2. All we ask is you link to a human news story on your blog on the last Friday of each month, one that shows love, humanity and brotherhood.

3. Join us on the last Friday of each month in sharing news that warms the cockles of our heart. No story is too big or small, as long as it goes beyond religion and politics, into the core of humanity.

4. Place the WE ARE THE WORLD Badge on your sidebar, and help us spread the word on social media. Tweets, Facebook shares, G+ shares using the #WATWB hashtag through the month most welcome. More Blogfest signups mean more friends, love and light for all of us.

5. We’ll read and comment on each others’ posts, get to know each other better, and hopefully, make or renew some friendships with everyone who signs on as participants in the coming months.

6. To sign up, add your link in WE ARE THE WORLD Linky List below.

This is a Blog Hop!

Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…

And now your moment of Zen.

WATWB – Your Monthly Shot Of News That Doesn’t Suck

Okay, so I’m late this month. Technically, this post was supposed to be up Friday at midnight UTC and now Damyanti’s gonna have my legs broken. In my defense, I’ve got two things that prevented me getting it out on time. 1, I’ve got a new book that just came out (link over there to the right, Roadside Attractions. Great book. I’m very proud of it). 2. I’m lazy. In fact, I just now got around to putting the link to Roadside Attractions over there even though it’s only, like, a two-minute process.

What was that title? Oh, yeah, Roadside Attractions. Jeez, talk about your gratuitous plugging.

Anyway, I went back and forth on what to write about. On the one hand, Kuwait has relaxed its book censorship laws, so that’s a good thing. On the other hand, women in France are eschewing bras. Which is also a good thing. But, considering the coming civil war in America, I decided to stick with the homefront and remind everyone that it’s, like, totally okay to not be a dick.

If you live in an area where you can get on Nextdoor, you’ll find it’s something of a mixed bag. For those of you not in the know, Nextdoor is an app and website where everyone in the neighborhood keeps an eye on things. That’s a good thing. Unfortunately, a lot of folks on Nextdoor have nothing to do with their lives, so their posts consist of, “OMG, strange man walking down the street! WTFBBQ!”

For a country as xenophobic as America, strange people can raise our blood pressure to dangerous levels that can only be alleviated with automatic weapons and cheap beer. So, given that mentality, when a man sees a kid constantly riding a bike in his driveway, you can imagine what comes next.

He draws the kid a race track in chalk on his driveway. And updates it frequently so the kid has a new track every now and then.

See, just because someone’s reading something you don’t like or going around braless, or riding their bike on your driveway, doesn’t mean you need to haul off and be an ass about it. Sometimes, just drawing a chalk racetrack is the best solution.

Read the original story here.

If you’d like to connect your blog and help spread a little joy (or snark, like I do), it’s easy to sign up. Just ask and ye shall receive. Or go check it out here: here.

Our lovely and talented hosts this month are: Lizbeth Hartz, Peter Nena, Shilpa Garg, Roshan Radhakrishnan, Sylvia Stein.

~~~GUIDELINES~~~

1. Keep your post to below 500 words, as much as possible. (Wow, I totally missed that mark this time around).

2. All we ask is you link to a human news story on your blog on the last Friday of each month, one that shows love, humanity and brotherhood.

3. Join us on the last Friday of each month in sharing news that warms the cockles of our heart. No story is too big or small, as long as it goes beyond religion and politics, into the core of humanity.

4. Place the WE ARE THE WORLD Badge on your sidebar, and help us spread the word on social media. Tweets, Facebook shares, G+ shares using the #WATWB hashtag through the month most welcome. More Blogfest signups mean more friends, love and light for all of us.

5. We’ll read and comment on each others’ posts, get to know each other better, and hopefully, make or renew some friendships with everyone who signs on as participants in the coming months.

6. To sign up, add your link in WE ARE THE WORLD Linky List below.

This is a Blog Hop!

Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…

And now your moment of Zen.

Book Review – Beneath A Fearful Moon by R.A. McCandless

I’ve always felt the novella doesn’t get enough love. In this day of digital and on-demand publishing, there’s really no reason to focus exclusively on massive tomes just because they’re easier to run through the printing press. Not every story needs to be four hundred pages long and trying to stretch a shorter tale into a full-length novel just gives you Star Trek: The Motion Picture. A story should be precisely as long as it needs to be and no longer.

Returning to Aqualine in the form of a novella was a good thing. It’s the perfect length for the story it’s telling. The story is clever and handled well and, thankfully, didn’t get dragged out into 400 pages of extraneous details. McCandless aims the story right at the point and stands on the gas. What comes next is a short, intense read that builds on his work in The Clockwork Detective.

And just like Clockwork Detective, Beneath A Fearful Moon is a great example of blending two genres to come up with something new. Part steampunk, part urban fantasy, Moon is a story that straddles worlds without letting the setting be overbearing. Imagine clicking gears and the so-perfect-they’re-alien Fae. Sundry things like steam-powered tree strippers meet fantastic water dryads. Nature buts up against iron technology. Even Aubrey, our protagonist, is a study in straddling worlds.

If you like steampunk or urban fantasy or just want to see what happens nine months after they get drunk and have a torrid affair, check out McCandless’s Constable of Aqualine series. Both The Clockwork Detective and Beneath A Fearful Moon are available on Amazon and both are well worth the read.

Constable Aubrey Hartmann did her duty, fought for the Empire and lost her leg in the process. All she wants is a quiet life, and the chance of some fun, romantic entanglements in the frontier town of Aqualinne.
When bodies start turning up, slashed from head to toe, she’s duty-bound investigate. As the clues start to point to the reclusive and deadly Fae in the prohibited Old Forest, Aubrey must rely on her war-forged nerves and her trusty Manton pistols. The challenge isn’t just to solve the case, but to survive it.

Get your copy on Amazon

Follow Rob on Twitter

Check out his blog

Check out his website

Book Review – The Man Without Hands by Eric Malikyte

Traditional narrative structure follows a three-part process: Introduce the characters and the plot, drop the characters into the worst possible place, Salvage the situation just before everything goes completely to shit.

Both of you longtime readers out there know I’ve reviewed Malikyte’s books before. Both Echoes Of Olympus Mons and Mind’s Horizon were clever, well-executed books that took horror into some amazingly fun new places. Rather than simple hack and slash, put on the hockey mask and kill some teenagers having sex, both books added a sci-fi spin to horror. They both had a brooding sense of “something is terribly wrong” that lurked in the narrative like an overbearing lover looking in your window.

The Man Without Hands has some elements of Echoes and Horizon – you can sense the DNA in the stories – but is very different beast. While the celestial horror is still there, The Man Without Hands is more both more exploratory and more action-packed. This is Malikyte taking his time, building worlds and giving us hints at a lot of back story that hopefully will be fleshed out in future installments.

At its heart, The Man Without Hands is about rebellion. All the magic and action and high-powered fighting serves to emphasize the differences between the protagonist on one world and everyone else and the antagonist on a different world and everyone else. And through the threads of the narrative we see the similarities between the protagonist and antagonist and begin to wonder if our initial assessments of “good guy” and “bad guy” are accurate. Which, frankly, is no mean feat and shows that Malikyte has a big idea brewing in his head.

As usual, Malikyte spends time developing his characters. They’re not two-dimensional cutouts, there’s a richness to them that makes them pop off the page. Even the minor characters have enough quirks to make us feel something for them. For some of them, it’s concern. For others, it’s an undeniable desire to punch them in the nose.

The Man Without Hands is book one in a series. Book two, The Rise of Oreseth, is available now. The Man Without Hands serves as step one of the traditional narrative; we get a good idea of who the players are and what’s at stake. I’m expecting book two will take the characters we’ve come like and drop them into the meat grinder.

The last war is on the horizon…

On an alien world, beneath an alien sky, deep beneath the mountains, the last remnants of a doomed people are preparing to go to war. Their enemies rule the humans of the world above like gods and command the power to reshape the planet itself.

The High Elder has declared that all Sulekiel youth must enter the Trials, giving them months to prepare for a deadly test of strength and otherworldly power when they should have had years. For Sage, the son of a traitor, it is a chance to prove himself to those who never trusted his tainted blood.

But none of the Sulekiel are aware of the power sleeping inside of him—or that one of their brethren has traversed the veil between universes, traveling to a place called Earth on a reckless quest to fulfill a bargain with an Eldritch god, leaving a trail of death and destruction in his wake. As the consequences of this traveler’s doomed bargain reach across worlds, powers beyond comprehension stir. The fate of both worlds might just rest in the hands of the traitor’s son and a desperate small-town cop.

Get your copy on Amazon

Follow Eric on Twitter

Check out his website

WATWB – Your Monthly Shot Of News That Doesn’t Suck

Let’s start by facing a couple of ugly truths:

  • The Confederacy were a group of traitors who lost the US Civil War
  • The Nazis were a group of vicious bastards who lost World War II

There, now that we’ve got that out of the way, we can move on.

So, in case you’ve been living on Mars in a cave with your fingers in your ears, you might have noticed that United States is undergoing an upheaval. Which is a fancy, polite way of saying, “Shit’s on fire, yo.” Underlying tensions finally hit a boiling point and the resultant explosion has been felt around the globe. While the ongoing protests were officially kicked off by the death of George Floyd, the turmoil has been lurking there in the dirty underbelly of my country for a very long time. Frankly, it’s like unwrapping a bandage and finding maggots digging around a festering wound on your arm. No wonder everything was so itchy and painful. We had maggots. And festering.

While this post isn’t necessarily about the Black Lives Matter movement – I support it by the way, feel free to throw rotten fruit – it is about change. Now, racism is an attitude and attitudes are very hard to zero in on. While mainstream American culture decries racism, it’s always been there like those maggots in the festering wound.

Yes, that’s an ugly description. But it’s racism we’re talking about here, saying we found cute puppies in a box isn’t an apt descriptor. It’s an ugly thing and it deserves an ugly description.

Anyway, narrowing in how many people have a particular attitude is a tricky thing. Especially in the case of racist bastards who’ve learned to hide their beliefs under a thin veneer of respectability. So, how do you figure out if an attitude is changing if you can’t actually find it because it’s so well hidden? Well, one thing you can look for the active removal of physical aspects of that thing. When someone gives up Pokemon, they toss a mountain of cards in the trash. When someone gives up martial arts, they send their gi to Goodwill for the next generation to pick up. Not that Pokemon or martial arts are bad things, but they represent an attitude that doesn’t always have an outward representation. So you look for the removal of less-than-public affectations. In the case of racist beliefs, you check for the removal of tattoos. If there’s a sudden influx of people who want their swastika covered up with puppies (or Pokemon), you can safely assume there’s been a turning point in the attitude.

Interestingly, enough, exactly that sort of thing is happening. Maybe not in vast numbers, but it is happening. People are going in and getting their swastikas and Confederate flag tats covered up or removed entirely. Consider it a growing-up process, looking in the mirror and thinking, “Shit, dude, I’m not that person anymore. Maybe it’s time to toss this crap in the garbage.”

Racism isn’t going to go away overnight. It’s something that will have to be starved out of existence and, unfortunately, that’s gonna take time. And it’s going to require exposure to the sun. Those maggots and that pus would exist forever in the dark. Ripping off the Band-Aid ain’t pleasant, but it’s the only way to see the root cause of the crippling pain in your arm. So, while the country is tearing itself apart right now, it’s a necessary thing to get at the rot in the middle. Don’t worry, we can put it back together again. We’ve done it before.

Read the original tattoo removal article here.

If you’d like to connect your blog and help spread a little joy (or snark, like I do), it’s easy to sign up. Just ask and ye shall receive. Or go check it out here: here.

Our lovely and talented hosts this month are:

Yours truly, Susan Scott, Inderpreet Kaur Uppal, Shilpa Garg, and Peter Nena

~~~GUIDELINES~~~

1. Keep your post to below 500 words, as much as possible. (Wow, I totally missed that mark this time around).

2. All we ask is you link to a human news story on your blog on the last Friday of each month, one that shows love, humanity and brotherhood.

3. Join us on the last Friday of each month in sharing news that warms the cockles of our heart. No story is too big or small, as long as it goes beyond religion and politics, into the core of humanity.

4. Place the WE ARE THE WORLD Badge on your sidebar, and help us spread the word on social media. Tweets, Facebook shares, G+ shares using the #WATWB hashtag through the month most welcome. More Blogfest signups mean more friends, love and light for all of us.

5. We’ll read and comment on each others’ posts, get to know each other better, and hopefully, make or renew some friendships with everyone who signs on as participants in the coming months.

6. To sign up, add your link in WE ARE THE WORLD Linky List below.

This is a Blog Hop!

Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…

And now your moment of Zen.

Book Review – Tales From The Hearse by David Allen Voyles

Imagine you’re riding through a cemetery in the back of a hearse on a quest to find some ghosts. No, you’re not one of the ghosts, you’re just looking for ghosts. Notoriously difficult critters to find. Fortunately your guide, in addition to driving a hearse like a real American, knows the lore of the land and isn’t afraid to share it with you while guiding you to your doom. Because, honestly, what else are you going to drive through a cemetery in, a Honda Civic? No way, that’s not how things are done.

It’s the little things that count when you’re trying to creep out your audience. Hearses. Cemeteries. Good stories with dastardly endings. Those are the things that turn good horror stories into excellent horror stories. Details. Nitty gritty stuff. It’s not enough to just say, “And then it turned out he had a hook for a hand!” There must be a build.

Too many horror authors get themselves wrapped up in the gore and the shock and don’t realize that jumping straight to the knife in the chest or the mouthful of alien juice doesn’t work. It’s not a shock or a terror if you can’t juxtapose it with the normal.

Voyles doesn’t fall into that trap. He doesn’t rely on jumping straight to the scare like a teenager in the back seat. Voyles romances us, sets us up, and then pulls the floor out from under us.

He also doesn’t skimp on details. For such short stories, they’re richly detailed without being overbearing. Voyles gives us a world that lives and breathes, something alive and normal, and characters that aren’t trite caricatures. That reality makes the horror elements feel more real and that’s when things get scary.

So, if you’re into gore, this isn’t the collection for you. If, however, you can feel the rumble of Hell’s V-8, hear the voice of the frighteningly knowledgeable driver, and see the silver moonlight casting shadows over rows of tombstones, then this is the collection for you.

“Virgil Nightshade is an expert storyteller, mixing the local supernatural lore and a bit of theatrics with a stage magician’s flare to create a sophisticated carnival ride. All while riding in a hearse.” – TripAdvisor Review

In Tales from the Hearse, David Allen Voyles evokes his past role as Virgil Nightshade, the storyteller and ghost tour host, with this collection of thirteen stories of the macabre. One can easily imagine riding in the back of his 1972 Cadillac hearse through a spooky graveyard listening to him tell his tales of horror just as his customers did in Asheville, NC. If you love ghost stories, haunted houses, and walks through the graveyard, climb in the hearse and take a dark ride with David Allen Voyles. Just make sure your doors are locked.

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