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Human Faces

July 14, 2014

I haven’t wrote on this blog in a long while. Much has changed, and though I won’t give a promise that I will focus on blogging more, I will say that I felt this important enough to keep forever, and not just as a post on a message board.

You see, I have been writing. Lots, actually.

  • After finishing my initial draft of the Message, I’ve been stuck on one particularly trying thread of the story’s tapestry. It won’t go in the right position, but I haven’t given up and have pulled in a few people to help iron that out.
  • I wrote a 2nd novel, The Seer Covenant (a New Adult – Urban Fantasy) also in the purgatory of rewrites after switching the story from 3rd person to 1st and then realizing (with others input) that it requires a 2nd character and therefore to be switched BACK to 3rd person with additional scenes.
  • I wrote several short stories, rejected but one made it in the top 30 for a British anthology – Fantasy Faction Anthology. It was a similar voice to the Seer Covenant, but it was much more over the top in the humor department. It’s working title was The Ghost Bounty Hunter. After it failed to make the final cut, I worked on extending the story into a novel or novella. That’s still a work in progress.
  • I answered an ad for content writers to The Geekality, a website that predominately reviews comic books, though I’ve also wrote an article or two about pro wrestling.
  • And I responded to a request for writer’s from a guy wanting to do a webcomic. His name is Nadi, and he’s the reason I’m writing this post.

I sent Nadi to this site to get an idea of my writing style, including comic work. He had some concerns, predominately about the religious aspects of my writing given he was Jewish and my comic work on the site was obviously Christian. We decided to move forward together with the focus of the story being human struggles, one that anyone could relate.

And it was about a human struggle that I’m writing today. As I mentioned, Nadi is Jewish. What I didn’t spell out is that he is Israeli. In light of current events, that’s an important distinction. This week, he sent me some images of the comic, and dropped a note that I should expect things to slow down due to the conflict getting tense in Israel. I, like many Americans, knew of the situation in Israel. During our church service yesterday morning, it was a topic of prayer. Our news had covered the growing conflict, and depending on where you watched the news, they slanted the story to be either pro-Palestinian or pro-Israeli. We discussed this at length, and I even spent some time looking for articles from US news outlets that provided corroboration for Hamas instructing Palestinians to stay in their homes (something that was challenging to find from major news outlets). Regardless of the conflict I had seen on the screen, and my knowledge of Nadi living in Israel, I assumed he was out of the fray. I was wrong.

After getting Nadi’s note, I went to Facebook to see if he was still online. He was, and I asked how he was and if everything was alright. “it’s frightening when there is an alarm but then things go back to normal kind of.” (his words, not mine). For me, it was a surreal situation, not only hearing of a news story across the world but having a person I knew, and had known, involved in it. As we talked, Nadi shared the situation from someone existing within it. The news wasn’t a story, it was a person.

In many ways, that’s how I try to read the Bible. It gives snippets of information. We learn of how the prophet did something, but it’s only when we stop and consider what’s happening that the story, the real story… the human story, comes alive. 2Chronicles 28 tells several stories, but in verse 14 it tells a most remarkable story. All the words say is: “So the soldiers gave up the prisoners and plunder…” but the story goes much further than that in the historical context. They gave up their pay, willingly, in order to not sin against God (as a prophet had warned them earlier). That decision was covered simply, and the following decisions of giving clothes to the naked and returning them to their families has a great many stories, each one of them important if you are a human who has ever lost a family member. All you would want is to have them returned.

So here I was, talking and learning from Nadi, and if you want to know the most interesting topic, it was his concern for innocent Palestinians, his ease at dividing “militant Arabs” from those who are utilized as little more than human shields. And the humanity of those innocents, whether they agreed or disagreed with his own views. A good deal of our conversation involved those people caught in the crossfire, especially those who may want to leave and not be involved in the conflict but have no choice.

And it left me with a prayer request to anyone reading this. Regardless of which side you fall on the Israeli/Palestinian dilemma, those who are in Gaza of their own volition, whether to send rockets in aggression or to be potentially martyred for that cause, are soldiers choosing this battle to fight. But there are others. Human beings caught, for reasons beyond my comprehension, into the conflict. They are not firing rockets, but they are afraid to leave. Pray for them. Pray for their way out. For in so doing, you may be praying for the peace of Israel and Palestine, the peace for a great many humans.

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Success!

October 6, 2012

My short story, “The Ghost Bounty Hunter” (nifty name, huh?) is in the final 30 of 1700 entrants to the Fantasy Faction Anthology.  It’s beyond what I could’ve imagined, except I did imagine it.  But it’s so hard to know what a judge will like, the best you can hope is to write something you enjoy and don’t worry about the rest.  Even if the story isn’t published among the final 6, this lets me know I may just have something with this premise.  Here’s to hoping I’m write!

 

http://fantasywritingcontest.com/2012/10/long-list-36-forums/

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Sharing a hero

December 4, 2011

We all hope to be heroic, but often when the opportunity presents itself, we fold.  Below is a story a proud mother posted to facebook.  It was a blog posted by the gym teacher at her son’s school.  I don’t know the child, the gym teacher, and the mother I went to High School with, but what I see in her son is as uplifting as any book I’ve ever read.  And it’s real.

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When I taught physical education it was important to me that all students in the school take the class. I believe that physical education is the broad foundation that all great athletic programs are founded upon. It is a class that puts the gifted athlete in with the awkward one and they can learn from and help each other. Once we had a boy with deformed hands who was not real good at ball handling skills but he was great at holding a badminton racquet. It was a good thing for the all state tailback to get humbled by the “handicapped” young man. Respect was gained on both sides. Great things can be accomplished at a school where students look after and respect each other and the adults.

I heard about a situation where a new student moved into a district and was in the physical education locker room. In the room some of the students were ridiculing a special needs student. This new student made a comment that this kind of conduct was not right. Of course the ones doing it challenged the new kid and started making comments about him.

This new student demonstrated a lot of courage because most people want to “fit in” and when you are the new kid on the block you are trying to find your place. It would have been very easy to let the special needs boy twist in the wind and not say anything for fear the pack would turn on him. This young man had the courage of his convictions and did what he thought was the right thing. How do you think the special needs students felt about hIm? I am betting that if the new student ever goes out for a sport, he will have a number one fan cheering for him. That is the kind of people I would like to have on my team because great things are possible with people who have physical AND moral courage.

What happened under Hitler was the direct result of people not speaking up because it was not affecting them and they let the ones getting segregated out, twist in the wind. Doing the right thing is always the right thing to do, even if it is not popular at the time.

I would say “Way To Go New Kid, Welcome To Our School, Do You Want To Come Out For Football…

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It’s the Christmas Season!

November 29, 2011

With the Christmas season upon us, and my own penchant for Christmas flash fiction, I sat down to edit the first Christmas story I’d ever completed.  And I completed it.  It won’t be the “Christmas card story” for this year’s card, that’s coming in short order when Kevin finishes his artwork, but consider it a way of wetting your appetite for what’s to come.

Check it out here!

OR, alternatively, if you want some of the story’s background, follow this link.

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Guest post by Steven “B5” Jones

November 22, 2011

Below is a guest post/review by Steve “B5” Jones, an author whose book I recently reviewed.

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The Land Beyond the Portal
J. S. Bailey
For more information on the book, go to: jsbaileywrites.com

“A charming brick house sat in the mountains like a mother bird in her nest.” …and so it starts, a story which begs comparison to names like: Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz, and Spirited Away.

We are introduced to a young woman named Laura who is alone in a house and is worried. We don’t really find out what the fuss is about, or her last name before all those considerations are lost with a tumble down the stairs. When Laura awakes, she doesn’t remember. As if that wasn’t enough, the girl goes into the cellar where she finds…well, what turns out to be a portal–a gateway to another place.

That’s in the first chapter. For what happens next, you have to read the book.

This is a Christian book. It is labeled suspense, but it could as easily carry other labels such as “novel”, “young adult” or the sometimes stigmatized, “science fiction”.

The writing is good, the description fine and vivid. The voice is distinct. The Christian elements are graceful and not stilted. The characterization is clear. It’s not a long book, 247 pages. It is not deep and philosophical; it’s just an enjoyable read.

People who like adventure stories will like this. Young adults will like it for sure. People who look for something with a flair for the mysterious will like this book.

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Tinker’s Tale Review

October 17, 2011

Tinker's TaleTinker’s Tale by Stephen “B5” Jones

The Good:

The book’s prologue instantly entranced me. In reading the first few chapters, I dwelt on the story as I fell asleep (right before bed is my typical reading time) and I thought of it as soon as I woke up. Few books have had such an impact on me, and to have it from a new writer bodes well for future work. As I look back, I struggle knowing what was so entrancing, but the best I can surmise is the prose style. In this way, it reminded me a bit of CS Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia, Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland or various fairy tales.

The Bad:

Some of the grammar was poor. Of course, this happens in every book, but the frequency of the mistakes was higher than normal, though not the worst I’ve seen from small press or independent authors. After the story moved into the actual Tinker’s Tale, rolling through various POVs in a single scene, I struggled a bit until it finally clicked that a Tinker told the story. Yes, I know it’s in the title, but it still is challenging to read in that rarely used 3rd person omnipotent style. Some of the challenges the heroes faced that led to the climax were a bit simple for the heroes to overcome, giving the appearance of walking through the scenes without any true conflict.

The Verdict:

Would I suggest this book to others? Sure, especially if you enjoy seeing a new voice in fantasy. It is a light, easy read reminiscent of days gone by.

View all my reviews

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Yeah, I’m raising a funny child

August 12, 2011

“Dad, there’s one thing I never liked about Wonder Woman,” my son began, though I’m not sure how Wonder Woman actually became a part of the conversation. Alex continued, “her invisible jet.”

Now, I’d agree with his summation. It does look rather ridiculous, and if I didn’t already agree, my son added a visual aid of himself squatted down like he was flying a jet.

Which got my own mind thinking (yeah, you know it’s gonna get bad right about now).

“It makes me wonder of better uses for her invisible technology,” I said.

“Like driving a car,” Alex said. To his credit, the thought of someone going down the road squatting like that with nothing around them except maybe their speakers did some pretty ludicrous. Why the speakers? Audio speakers as loud as my neighbors could never be invisible!

“Son,” I interjected, “you kinda look like your taking a dump in an invisible toilet.”

Alex laughed, which is always a good thing, and then added his own addition (which is becoming a funnier thing the more he gets this humor thing down), “Sitting on the invisible toilet reading the newspaper.”

I laughed, another good thing, and added, “Clark! (of Superman fame) You left the toilet seat up again!”

Alex interjected, “I thought it was down!”

Alex likes to ad-lib the acting, using a decidely outside voice tone that could work on most broadway theaters. This time, he took a Ralph Cramdon approach. Or maybe the incredible Hulk. Yeah, Hulk fits the theme, only with better syntax.

“Of course,” I continued, “it’d all be good until someone has diarrhea.”

We both laughed followed by my punchline –

“Well, at least they could see the toilet seat now!”

That’s right, toilet humor never fails!

And does this have to do with anything otherwise on this website? No, not really, but it made me laugh & hopefully it entertained you!