World War Four: “Joey”

joey

© Gregg Cunningham

As I mentioned yesterday, my short story “Joey” will be appearing in the Zombie Pirate Publishing anthology “World War Four.” It’s available now for pre-order at Amazon for delivery to your kindle device March 1st.

Turns out fellow “Zombie Pirate” Gregg Cunningham has been creating individual cover designs for each of the short stories and posting them on the ZPP World War Four (private) Facebook author page. Above is the one he created for “Joey.” When you read the story, you’ll understand.

Thanks, Gregg.

Oh, and don’t forget to visit and “like” or “follow” my Amazon author page.

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Facebook Author’s Page

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James Pyles’ Facebook Author page

Yes, I’m engaging in more shameless self-promotion. However, a number of people have been encouraging me to create an author page on Facebook now that several of my stories are on the cusp of publication. I’ve already got an Amazon Authors page, but that promotes mainly my non-fiction work, at least until several days after the Zombie Pirate Publishing’s anthology World War Four publishes and I can add a link to that page from the eBook.

I only created the Facebook page less than an hour ago as I write this, so there’s not much content at the moment. Still, I hope you stop by and click “Follow” or “Like.” You could even add a comment or two. I could use the company. ūüėČ

Pre-Order the “World War Four” Anthology Today!

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Promotional banner for Zombie Pirate Publishing’s anthology “World War Four.”

Yes, you can pre-order the Zombie Pirate Publishing anthology “World War Four” at Amazon right now to be auto-delivered to your Kindle on March 1, 2019. Be the first to read (and review) this awesome collection of tales, including my short story “Joey,” as well as internationally best-selling science fiction author Neal Asher’s novelette “Monitor Logan.”

Publications Update

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Promotional image for Zimbell House Publishing’s anthology “1929”

A couple of days ago, I mentioned that I had a fourth story accepted for publication, but since the publisher hadn’t made a formal announcement yet, I couldn’t give out particulars. However, this morning Zimbell House Publishing on their Coming Soon page (scroll down) posted notice that “1929: A Zimbell House Anthology” will be published in both Paperback and eBook formats on March 26, 2019. My short story “The Devil’s Regret” will be included in the anthology.

Some of you may have read a few variations on that tale I had been playing with here on my blog in months past. My study group from the writing class I took last November, had plenty of opportunities to read refined versions of the strange adventures of sixteen-year-old Timothy Quinn, the boy who could hear news stories from the future on the radio, and discovered he was the only person standing between an innocent ten-year-old girl and murder.

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Shhhh…My Fourth Short Story Has Been Accepted for Publication

shhhh

Image found on multiple sites – no attribution given

I got an email yesterday evening that said one of my submitted short stories has been accepted for publication in an anthology (Hint: Not by a publisher who has previously accepted my work). They don’t have the pre-order info on their site yet, so I can’t give out details, what I just wanted to mention that for 2019, I’m four for four.

On the one hand, I’m incredibly delighted to add to my publications list and have another story put on my writer’s resume, but now I’m really worried when the bubble pops and one (or more, or a lot more) of my stories is/are rejected.

Naturally, I’d like everything I submit for publication to be accepted, but that’s not how the math works.

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Book Review of “Dark Intelligence: Transformation Book One”

dark intelligence

Cover art for Neal Asher’s 2015 novel “Dark Intelligence.”

Disclosure: My short story “Joey” will be published in the upcoming Zombie Pirate Publishing anthology World War Four which also features the novelette “Monitor Logan” by best-selling author Neal Asher. Watch for the anthology on Amazon starting March 1, 2019.

I must admit that prior to being informed of the above, I had never heard of Asher or his works, though scanning his published novels, I was certainly impressed. Since we’d be “sharing” the inside of an anthology, I felt I should get to know his writing a bit better, and so selected¬†Dark Intelligence: Transformation Book One (2015) as my introductory novel.

There was a superficial resemblance to Alastair Reynolds’ 2008 collection of short stories (all set in the same universe) Galactic North, particularly in the area of “medical atrocities,” but other than that, they’ve both described unique universes.

The novel is an ensemble piece, however the main protagonist, and the only one who speaks in first person, is a man called Thorvald Spear, who was killed in a war a century before by the rogue AI Penny Royal, or so it seems. Spear is revived with a strong desire to revenge himself on the supremely powerful Penny Royal, but as he continues to pursue her, he becomes uncertain if some, or any of his memories are truly his rather than images implanted by the AI in order to manipulate him.

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One December Morning in Stuyvesant Square Park

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Snow in Stuyvesant Square Park, Second Avenue & East 17th St, Manhattan

The three teens, two boys and a girl, all ran out of The Halal Guys restaurant across 2nd Avenue near the East Village. “Anyone chasing us?” 14-year-old Brenda asked her brother Brad, pushing her red MAGA cap up over long blond locks.

“No, don’t see anyone.” Their leader, 15-year-old Ken, took them up toward Stuyvesant Square Park. It was still early morning and they’d decided to harass the old Muslim couple who’d gone into Halal for breakfast.

“Didn’t think that white guy would defend those Arabs,” Ken mused.

The trio stopped as they saw three black teens running up behind them. The oldest, a girl, said the two guys with her, “We got away.”

“Yeah,” said the youngest guy. “Who knew that black dude would defend that old white couple we were messing with.” On a nearby park bench, the mysterious Never Man was having a little fun with justice.

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw flash fiction writing challenge. The idea is to use a Google Maps image/location as the prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 150.

Today, the Pegman takes us to Manhattan Island (yes, it is an island). Manhattan has an impossibly rich history, so choosing one topic upon which to base my wee tale seemed an enormous task. I decided to look up the local news and found an article titled Teens Wanted in Village attack on man defending elderly couple. Apparently three African-American youth between the ages of 14 and 17 were harassing an elderly couple in a McDonalds in the East Village. A 44-year-old man came to their defense, and the trio punched and kicked him before fleeing. Fortunately, he wasn’t seriously hurt.

Since this is Black History Month, I wasn’t sure how well this story would be received (even though the news story is factual), so I decided to illustrate that anyone is capable of prejudice and cruelty, regardless of race, social perspective, or politics. I resurrected Jonathan Cyfer, the “Never Man,” who has the ability to alter time and space for purposes of justice, though 150 words hardly does him or his activities “justice.”

Oh, the Halal Guys is a real restaurant just outside the East Village (I couldn’t find the McDonalds on Google Maps), and if I ever visit Manhattan, I’d love to eat there.

To read more stories based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.com.

January 2019 Wrap Up

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Winter in Boise, Idaho

Just a wee update. As you all know if you’ve been reading my blog over the past month, three of my short stories have been accepted for publication. You can find out all about them on my Publications page.

You also know that I haven’t been writing as much fiction here as in months past and have been, more or less, ignoring most of the writing challenge communities I enjoy so much. That isn’t an intentional snub. I’ve just been busy.

For instance, in the month of January, not only were three of my stories accepted, but I submitted 5 stories to various publishers. I can’t tell you anything about them because, after all, submitting is not being accepted, and I’ve fallen flat on my face plenty of times before, so there are no guarantees.

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Life After the State

rose garden

© Sue Vincent

David had lived underground all his life, his existence tied to the Hive habitat that had been manufactured hundreds of years ago, and his body, blood, work, all in the service of the state. He couldn’t have imagined the exquisite beauty of the garden he was now walking in, sunlight warming his back and shoulders, the sweet aroma of these spectacular plants, all so green, growing and alive, even after all the vid records he’d seen of life before the tipping point of global warming, he was still astonished.

“So, Mister. What do you think?” Ten-year-old Timothy had been assigned to guide the mysterious guest around the farm and the common grounds such as this community garden. He wore clothes strange to David, what they called denim pants, a “T” shirt, whatever that meant, and a hat. Oh, he’d used helmets on his job in maintenance to protect him against hazardous conditions, but what protection would one need in such an idyllic setting?

“I think it’s all quite amazing. I’ve never seen anything like this, all of this.” He spread his arms wide and whirled around in delight.

“You mean you lived all your life in a hole in the ground, like a gopher?” Timothy scratched at his dark brown hair under the billed red cap.

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Concealment: Should I Have Used a Pen Name?

guy fawkes mask

Guy Fawkes Mask

It’s too late for me to use this option (probably), but an incident (two, actually) occurred last week that got me to thinking.

I’ve already considered the idea that breaking into science fiction and fantasy as a conservative, religious, white, married, cisgender old man (and if you exist at a particular social and political extreme, all of that means I’m “evil”) might be a waste of time considering how the publishing industry in particular, and entertainment in general seems fairly prejudiced against creators who aren’t leftists and atheists (although I know some leftists who are religious). In science fiction in particular, this was played out in previous years by the Sad Puppies phenomenon, and not too long ago by the Comicsgate movement, which also seems to have gone by the wayside.

But as I mentioned, last week, a person responded to two of my missives on Facebook rather negatively. Normally, I take these things in stride, since “outrage” is something you get used to if you’re not following a popular social media narrative, but this time the person in question was in a position to significantly inhibit my future as an author, at least within a certain realm.

I won’t provide the specifics of this, but I will confess to having my anxiety level rise quite a bit and losing some sleep over it.

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