Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day & Resolutions

This week at Writers Evolution we are talking about how are we doing on our resolutions, you can see mine there.

Beyond that, it is Memorial Day, a day to honor and remember the US's fallen soldiers. This weekend has become one of barbeques and the first step towards summer. And as we go about our day today, please take time to remember those who are gone and will never return.

This poem has come through my email boxes many times and I wanted to share.


It is the Soldier, not the minister

Who has given us freedom of religion.

It is the Soldier, not the reporter
Who has given us freedom of the press.

It is the Soldier, not the poet
Who has given us freedom of speech.

It is the Soldier, not the campus organizer

Who has given us freedom to protest.

It is the Soldier, not the lawyer
Who has given us the right to a fair trial.

It is the Soldier, not the politician
Who has given us the right to vote.

It is the Soldier who salutes the flag,
Who serves beneath the flag,
And whose coffin is draped by the flag,
Who allows the protester to burn the flag.

----- Charles M. Province

(Photos top to bottom - Arlington National Cemetery, Deceased Soldiers coming home, Tomb Of The Unknown Soldier, Battlefield Memorial)

I wish everyone a safe Memorial Day.

I come from a military family and am surrounded by friends that I've made while in the service and afterward. I miss them when they deploy, I hurt for what they have seen and gone through, and I mourn when they do not return. Today is a day to remember the sacrifices that have been made by fallen soldiers throughout our nations history and to honor them.


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Guest Blogger - Amber Green

Amber Green is my guest blogger this week with a brand new book out!

Khyber Run is out this week.

Transplanted from an Afghani battleground to a Florida playground at age ten, Zarak Momand spent the next several years trying to remember Pakhtunwali, the Pakhtun Way, and instill the Pakhtun warrior spirit in his younger brothers. A generation later, he’s a burned-out Navy hospital corpsman who has lost touch with everything that matters: his brothers, his heritage, and possibly his soul.

Then he’s kidnapped by USMC scout-snipers hell-bent on seeing justice for a murdered brother marine. The murderer has deserted. They have ideas where to find him and plenty of unofficial support--but this is Afghanistan, where the easy answers are wrong and the best-laid plans don’t stand a chance. Codenamed Zulu, Zarak navigates the ambiguities of fourth generation warfare, where there are no front lines and where the moral high ground shifts from situation to situation. He can rely on no one but Oscar, a sexually compelling marine who is every bit the warrior young Zarak had once hoped to be.

When finally told the deserter murdered his estranged baby brother, Zarak sees his way clear. Pakhtunwali allows a man to pierce the wall of hospitality--even the code of sanctuary--to demand justice for a murdered son or brother. For the first time in years, his Pakhtun self and his American self are in full accord. With Oscar at his side, and with the memories roused by their travels in these legendary mountains, he finds his spiritual center.

Secretly crossing the border into the Khyber region of Pakistan, Oscar and Zulu lose their companions, their technology, and their horses. In compensation, they find Z's extended family, Taliban assistance, and gratified lust in the night.

But is Oscar’s rough passion a betrayal between brothers? And what happens when the deserter would rather die than go back?


Chapter 1

I woke muddled, thinking the ship's engines sounded wrong. Red light glared on my eyelids. Breathing meant gagging on the seagull-shit taste of a hangover. And that sound was not my ship's engines. More like a sardine can's engines or…a plane?

Opening my eyes took effort. A plane. From the rear of the fuselage, I faced up an aisle between rows of knees hugging sea bags. Not sea bags: MOLLE-packs. Red lights in strips overhead barely illuminated a couple hundred hunched forms in desert camo, a row of males in body armor along each bulkhead, facing inward, and two rows of females jammed into back-to-back seats in the center. Male or female, each of them clutched one of those carbines the sponges called an assault rifle.

Why am I in a plane packed with camo-assed bullet-sponges?

The plane's deck angled down sharply. Screams rang in my ears, going dull. My ears cleared, painfully, and the shrieks sharpened.

Crashing. That's what we're doing.

The deck roller-coastered up, then yawed faster than physics should allow. Whiplash. I saw stars. The stench of vomit wrung my empty guts.

A dive and another yaw brought more screams ringing off the bulkhead, prayer in Spanish close by, retching farther away.

How did I stay in my seat, with gravity halving and doubling and snatching me starboard to port? When the plane steadied long enough to let me look down, I saw bands of dull silver duct tape strapping my thighs to my seat, and another red-streaked silver band over my belt.

Something hung on my lower face. I had some kind of mask. No. Somebody had duct-taped a puke bag to my face. It sagged obscenely against my chin, like a giant used condom.

Pulling it off hurt. The stench blasted from it.

Where do I put this? I looked around, blinking, trying to make sense. The screamers in the middle seats were mostly army. The hundred or so men squatting in the seats lining the bulkhead were marines. Some laughed at the women. Others hunkered down, as if waiting for shrapnel to find them. A few threw curious glances at me, the only squid in sight.

A cluster of pops rapped at the bulkhead, like popcorn in my mother's big pot. One of the sponges grinned at me. "Small arms fire. Welcome to Bagram."

Bagram? A map of the giant air base flashed in my eyes, then a dim memory of riding my father's shoulder, hiding my face in his turban while a trio of Shuravi -- Soviets -- stomped an ominously silent laborer. Couldn't be…

"He means hold on," added another sponge.

I dropped the puke bag to grab my seat. The plane tilted, again nose-diving but this time braking hard. Instead of falling to the deck, the bag shot forward, splatting against a female's ear.

"I'm hit! Aaah!"

"God! Brains! Oh, God!"


The plane swerved and jinked, each jerk redoubling the shrieks. The smell of fear, sharp and sour, fought with the smell of vomit.

One of the marines chuckled, despite the sweat beading on his face, and pitched his voice low enough to hear under the shrieks. "You know you're going to have to police that up, Squidward."

"No-go, sir. The doc's our volunteer."

Volunteer? WTF? I twisted to see who'd called me a volunteer, but his rifle caught my attention first. A bolt-action rifle. A sniper's weapon.

Behind the rifle, teeth flashed in a grin. He didn't seem to exist, except as a rifle, a hint of helmet, and a grin. Then the grin vanished.

The deck flipped overhead. The unsecured marines bounced, sending bellows among the screams. I hung from my seat, still taped in place.

The deck flipped again, then slammed up at us. A marine fell across my lap. I caught his weapon before it could bean him. The cool metal slapped into my hand, rousing memories like an old lover's name.

Find a different excerpt here:

Buy it from Loose-Id today.

Monday, May 23, 2011

This Week..

This week over at Writers Evolution we are talking about if you're a closeted writer or not.

On Wednesday, author Amber Green will be my guest blogger.

Sometime this week there will be a retelling of the faire along with pics and most likely a delayed Monday Minute Fiction. Maybe I'll post that Friday to warm up the weekend.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

What's In A Name?

I'm over at Grand Rapids Region Writer's Group talking about naming traditions among various cultures and how they can be used in writing.

Monday, May 2, 2011

It's Monday

It's Monday. I'm revamping my website, hopefully that will be done in the next 48 hours. Over at Writers Evolution on the men in our lives who got away - this should prove to be an interesting week.

The Chatting With Joyfully Reviewed crew were very welcoming on Sunday when we sat chatting about the upcoming GayRomLit Retreat in New Orleans this year. And the books - lots and lots of good books to read. I can't wait!