In December, I had the great pleasure of winning a contest!
I was floored, too. It was like a massive box of books came hurtling through the door and brained me. When I finally came to from the concussion that laid me out, I slit open the box to find wondrous goodies …of Words! And other assorted goods from the talented author, Brian Paone.
Would that I never had to teach or sleep or eat, or other assorted life things. Had I such a blank hole in life, then perhaps I would have had more than just one book read by this late day of 2018.
However, it is my great pleasure to say that I have finished the first of the books that I found in this wonderful contest package.
A Matter of Words was the first in the …of Words anthology series. They are generally themed, and have run through hauntings, journeys, and soon, contracts. Sadly, the submission I offered for A Contract of Words was denied, but that’s ok. The main character, Sanada Ryuichi will find his place in the literary world soon enough. I’ll keep you all posted with his eventual home. The …of Words anthology to come next will be A Flash of Words, another brilliant themed anthology that I will be submitting a piece to. In case you’re confused by the tangential explanation of my own participation in the …of Words series, I’ll let my good friend, Inigo take over…
Actually, I don’t really need to sum anything up. I just utterly adore this movie.
As for the …of Words anthologies, they provide authors a very solid avenue of publication composed in part of works submitted through a wonderful Facebook Community called Fiction Writers. Curious? Go ahead and find it. It’s there. Fun place. Submitted short stories for the anthologies aren’t limited to Fiction Writers members, but are open to the whole of the literary world. If you have a short story, go ahead and submit it. What is there to lose? Indeed, you might even get to place your name beside such brilliant authors as the late Chuck Mosley, Randy Blazak, Kim Loraine, Douglas Esper, Steven Hartov, and Michelle Bailey. One of the coolest things about this series is that in anthology, one junior author’s piece of art is selected to join the “mature” group of writers. For teens and pre-teens, this is a very cool honor, as it is a huge step up on those same “mature” writers. Please do not misinterpret my usage of the word “mature” to mean “like an adult” or “responsible” or even “reliable”; I mean it strictly in the sense that our juvenile minds haven’t quite realized that our bodies had broken down into husks of silver and creases. Maybe. Maybe just we’re not quite the 17-year-olds that we were last year.
A Matter of Words, the debut installment of this series had no theme, which stands it apart from the others. In a way, it was like the editor, Brian Paone, wondered if it would drum up enough of a group to see if he even could put the anthology together.
Much to this guy’s delight, he was able to do so. The result is a mishmash of tales from strangely apocalyptic, to heartbreaking, to murder mystery, to sci-fi to rural tale, to a journey with the King. Most of the tales in this reached out from the pages and gripped me by the face, to glue me to its words until I had finished the story. It was a rare case that didn’t do that. I will admit that with a couple, I felt I was just going along for the ride to be polite, but in the back of my head, all I could think about was “Can I go home now?” Luckily, such stories were few and far in between. Indeed, I’d much rather talk about the standouts.
Randy Blazak – Elvis is My Rider
This is a lovely story that is partial biography (possibly), partial roadtrip, partial social commentary, and 100% The King. It is such a stirring piece of art that brought out the man from within the legend in such a way that immediately after watching, I threw a DVD of Bubba Hotep in my Blue-Ray player. What? You say that Elvis was an actor who was in a bunch of movies? Well, maybe one day, I’ll be able to find some copies of them somewhere. I actually had Bubba Ho-Tep on hand. It became my de facto piece of Elvis art to enjoy.
Steven Hartov – Dead Drop
Gripping. From the very first beats, readers are thrust into a noir world where detectives were cheap, women were dames who looked like Jessica Rabbit, and cigarette smoke filled the hazy greyscaled world. But this was no pulp story. This was contemporary Bond filtered through a masterful lens of a skilled auteur. My biggest problem with this was that it ended. I really wanted to see what layers Hartov would be exploring in on this little detective story. It felt so much like one part of a much larger story.
Jacob Prytherch – The Uncanny Mr. Bones
To be frank, I hate it when people mock others. In a story, however, such people are fun. The Uncanny Mr. Bones follows a complete schmuck very-appropriately-named Crouch through a night at his new job as a security guard at a storage warehouse. While the premise might be rather boilerplate, Crouch’s pov ensures that this tale is anything but. He is a man who micks the world apart with casual indifference, lighting up cigarettes immediately after his boss tells him to snub his old one out. Honestly, even if the story had been about Crouch knitting a crochet, I doubt I would have been any less captivated.
Fury (the tank) from the movie, Fury
Stephen Rhodes – Just Another Day in Hell
I’ll admit. Just about all I could think about through every single moment of this story was David Ayer’s wartime tank movie, Fury. Both followed a group of tankmen who are stuck blowing things up in the middle of a war. Both get into their heads and explore the day-to-day motions of gore and maintenance that define tank squads’ lives. The biggest difference was that Just Another Day in Hell was set on a different planet. It’s a small difference, and this story was no less riveting for that.
Douglas Esper – My Wife’s Favorite
Holy hand grenade, Batman. This is my kind of story. It starts off cool, with characters that are interesting and inspire me to keep turning the pages, and then from there… wow. It’s like a Faberge Egg, where you get some great detail on the surface, but as you look, the egg opens up on you, expanding to reveal a much greater world deeper inside, and even as that expands out, there is more and more. Then, when you finally reach the inside, you find yourself screaming for escape. It is all so beautiful and heart-breaking, that it utterly shatters you, with the deep impacts of this egg lacerating your very soul.
All in all, I would say that the A Matter of Words gives readers a fun place to explore, and brings together some excellent talent to bring it together. I am very much looking forward to reading the second volume of my wonderful gift prize: A Journey of Words. Keep an eye out for that review in the weeks and months to come.
Finally, on February 3rd, I will be giving a reading my my latest novel Escape from the Spotlight at Orca Books in downtown Olympia, Washington at 6:00 PM. Come join me, and grab your very own copy of the book that “graces the world with a fresh superhero [and] gives young adults one they can relate to.”