Good News! IN THE BEGINNING ANTHOLOGY Announcement

The good news can now be shared publicly. The charity anthology, IN THE -BEGINNING, will be released in October. The anthology will benefit the Write Girl organization and contains YA dark retellings of Bible stories. My contribution is Last Will and Testament. It is based on the following verses from Isaiah, Chapter 53:
He was despised, the lowest of men, a man of sorrows, familiar with suffering, one from whom, as it were, we averted our gaze, despised, for whom we had no regard. Yet ours were the sufferings he was bearing, ours the sorrows he was carrying, while we thought of him as someone being punished and struck with affliction by God; whereas he was being wounded for our rebellions, crushed because of our guilt; the punishment reconciling us fell on him, and we have been healed by his bruises.

Source: The New Jerusalem Bible (NJB)

Sounds intriguing, doesn’t it?
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SIGN UP FOR THE COVER REVEAL NOW!

In the Beginning (Oct. 25, 2016) – Ten authors come together to build a powerful collection of dark young adult short stories inspired by the mysteries, faith, and darkness found within the Bible. Old Testament and New Testament, iconic and obscure figures alike are illuminated, explored, and re-envisioned throughout this charity anthology from Month9Books. A portion of the proceeds from the first five hundred copies sold will benefit WriteGirl.org.

IN THE BEGINNING, ed. Laureen Cantwell and Georgia McBride

Daniel and the Dragon by Stephen Clements

  • A troubled orphan named Habakkuk dutifully follows his master, the prophet Daniel, into temples of blood-thirsty demon-gods, battles with unspeakable horrors, and bears witnesses to mind-breaking evil until his master’s zealous defiance of the king’s law seals their fate.

Babylon by Nicole Crucial

  • Far above the earth, in Second Eden, where moments and eternities all blur together, young Babylon befriends Sefer, the Book of Life. As Babylon awaits the moment she’ll fulfill her destiny, she and Sefer try to understand the world in which they live.

The First Mourning by Dorothy Dreyer

  • Brothers Cain and Abel come to life in a haunting tale of sibling rivalry bound by insecurities, the need for parental approval and affection, and the precarious line between love and hate. Some sins can’t be undone.

Last Will and Testament by Mike Hays

  • A homeless young boy, Baz, bears the weight of humanity on his shoulders and upon his body. When dark forces test a new-found friendship, Baz’s willingness to bear the ugliness of their world will be shaken.

The Demon Was Me by Sharon Hughson

  • Based on the story of the demon-possessed boy healed by Jesus, this tale provides a glimpse into a post-apocalyptic world where a teenage boy seeks to journey to a better land and yearns to discover the kind of man he’s meant to be, only to be hijacked by an evil spirit intent upon chipping away at the hope, faith, and resilience of its host.

The Deluge by Marti Johnson

  • A non-believer shares the story of Noah’s ark-building and the deadly downpour that follows. Fear, faithlessness, and the fallibility of mankind collide in a community where second chances aren’t unlimited and a better-late-than-never attitude just might be your doom.

Josie’s Coat by Amy McNulty

  • A reimagining of the tale of Jacob’s favorite son Joseph, his dreams, and his famous coat. Josie, a dream-worker, is great at her job, but her coworkers’ cruel jealousy over her success leads to her enslavement and the loss of her dream-walker status.

Condemned by Elle O’Neill

  • Just sixteen-years-old, Barabbas finds himself pulled out of Routlege Academy and into a reality show competition—against Jesus himself—where the reward for the winner is life.

First Wife by Lora Palmer

  • In a first-person retelling of the saga of Jacob, Rachel and Leah, themes of family, deception, guilt, and heartache emerge amidst the first days of Leah’s marriage to Jacob—a marriage mired in trickery a mere week before Jacob was to marry Leah’s sister Rachel.

Emmaculate by Christina Raus

  • Based on the story of Mary’s Immaculate Conception, we enter the troubled mind of Emma, who finds herself torn between her religious upbringing and the purity ring that binds her to her boyfriend and the pregnancy that results from her relationship with another boy.

Add to Goodreads!

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25946627-in-the-beginning-charity-anthology

2015 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 310 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 5 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

A Halloween 2015 Words Look: Poe for Evermore

Besides Ogden Nash’s poem, The Duck, Poe’s The Raven ranks as a Mike Hays favorite. But, alas, it was too much work to memorize the whole thing for school poetry recitations, so The Duck was/is my go-to poem.

Here’s a link to the whole poem, The Raven, if you wish to read it in its entirety to celebrate the holiday. Better yet, listen to one (or all) celebrity readings of the poem at the Mental Floss link.

This post is my condensed version of Poe’s classic with only the last lines of each verse. To my untrained eye, it gives a cool, new perspective to the poem, especially when read fast.

Only this and nothing more.
Nameless here for evermore.
This it is and nothing more.
Darkness there and nothing more.
Merely this and nothing more.
’Tis the wind and nothing more!
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.
Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”
With such name as “Nevermore.”
Then the bird said “Nevermore.”
Of ‘Never—nevermore’.”
Meant in croaking “Nevermore.
She shall press, ah, nevermore!
Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”
Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”
Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”
Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”
Shall be lifted—nevermore!

Happy Halloween 2015! Forever-more.

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Everybody Has A Story To Tell

Everybody has a story to tell.

Truth.

We all just need to tell our story.

In a few weeks, the month-long focus on writing these stories will begin. National Novel Writing Month will run again through the 30 days of November. Better known as NaNoWriMo, this program is an awesome opportunity to write with a support team spread out across this great planet.

We are made to tell stories. It’s coded in the marrow of our being. It has been passed down from generation to generation since the very first time primitive man told the story of the bear “which got away” or told his children about the time he outran a cheetah while crossing the savannah on a Friday night in his youth.

We are story-telling machines.

So, tell your story.

Please.

Write your story. Record your story. Just tell your story.

Get it down. Put it some place other than just inside your head.

Don’t worry if it’s good or bad. Quality does not matter—it can be cleaned up later. It can be shined up IF it is down somewhere it can be worked on if you want to.

Don’t worry about it being “good”. Good is subjective. Besides, you don’t ever have to show your writing to anyone else if you don’t want to.

The power is in your hands.

The power of your story.

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We are fortunate to have a local group of supporters for the 2015 NaNoWriMo. We have a local group based out of Manhattan, Kansas. Find out more about NaNoWriMo here. Sign up and take a shot at it.

(In fact, for the first time the Manhattan NaNoWriMo group is having some events at the Clay Center Carnegie Library. Check out the groups Facebook page to stay informed. I plan on attending events when I can and I hope you will too. It is always cool to meet writers of any age, shape, size or skill level. If you like telling stories or would like to learn more about telling stories, please join up or even send me a message.)

Telling your story can be a scary thing. Like coming up to bat with the game on the line or shooting a free throw to win the game, writing becomes easier with people in your dugout or on your bench who believe you can do it. From the Pulitzer Prize winner to the scrambling middle-grade guy writing quirky books he would like to have read when he was young, it is a scary thing to throw your story into the world. Having people to cheer you on, help shine up your work, and/or keep you going when you feel like quitting, is invaluable. The community of writers is awesome. They are out there if you need them.

Write your story.

Don’t worry about “winning”. Worry about writing. Get the words down. Place them somewhere one word at a time, or, as the great Anne LaMott says, write, “bird by bird”. Get it done and get it down. I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo for four years and have never hit the 50,000-word monthly goal. But, what I have done is set a 30,000+ word foundation for what eventually became three middle-grade novels. Not bad for an old football coach, huh?

I hope to see you write your story.

You know you have a good one rolling around inside your head.

Let it out.

Put it down on paper.

Just write!

#WriteCC15!

A Words Look: SUMMERLAND by Michael Chabon

I am re-reading SUMMERLAND by Michael Chabon to prepare for my late July guest blog post on the wonderful literature review blog, Mother Daughter Book Reviews. SUMMERLAND is a fantastic book which seems to have somehow got lost in the shuffle for reasons I will lament upon in the blog post.

Released in 2002, it is a masterpiece combining myth, a hero’s journey, Native American culture, and baseball in order to save the Four Worlds from Coyote, who means to put an end to it. Young or old, I highly recommend adding SUMMERLAND to your reading list.

Summerland

Below are a couple of my favorite quotes from the book, in which, the young, chosen-one hero, Ethan Feld, finds a copy of the Ferisher (fairy) instruction manual on catching, How to Catch Lightning and Smoke, in his possession, and begins to read it.

“The first and last duty of the lover of the game of baseball, “ Peavine’s book began, “whether in the stands or on the field, is the same as that of the lover of life itself: to pay attention to it. When it comes to the position of catcher, as all but fools and shortstops will freely acknowledge, this solemn requirement is doubled.”  -Introduction to How to Catch Lightning and Smoke by E. Pevine.

It was here, playing for the Snake Island Wapatos amid the cottonwoods and wildflower glades of the seventy-two-team Flathead League, that he (Peavine) had first begun, in his words, “to grasp the fundamental truth: a baseball game is nothing but a great slow contraption for getting you to pay attention to the cadence of a summer day.”

A Words Look: RAISING STEAM by Terry Pratchett

I will miss the writer Terry Pratchett. He was a master.

I came to the Pratchett game late. I don’t know what rock I lived under, but I did eventually see the light and find his work. The Discworld novels, the Tiffany Aching books, DEATH, Hogfather, the collaboration with Neil Gaiman, GOOD OMENS. It makes my head spin to consider the volume of outstanding art he produced.

There’s been this vision in my mind of a huge two story wall existing in some secret location which served as a Discworld storyboard. I imagine illustrations of characters, storylines, locations, and a sapient pearwood trunk—all on an octarine background floating on the back of the Great A’Tuin. Truly a piece of wall art one could spent a decade studying. Maybe someday…

Terry Pratchett died March 12, 2015 from his Alzheimer’s. His speech on his Alzheimer’s is magnificent and can be read in a past post. It is a bit depressing to think of the stories he did not get to paper. The volumes of ideas nature kept for itself and we will never see. I think a good life goal will be to read every Terry Pratchett book published. I will give it a try, I believe.

Here’s an example of Terry Pratchett’s genius. It is from his latest (and 40th) Discworld book, RAISING STEAM.

“Most of them arrived in time to see something heading out toward them, panting and steaming, with fast-spinning wheels and oscillating rods eerily appearing and disappearing in the smoke and the haze, and on top of it all, like a sort of king of smoke and fire, Dick Simnel, his face contorted with the effort of concentration. It was faintly reassuring that this something was apparently under the control of somebody human—although the more thoughtful of the onlookers might have added “So what? So’s a spoon,” and got ready to run away as the steaming, dancing, spinning, reciprocating engine cleared the barn and plunged on down the tracks laid in the field. And the bystanders, most of whom were now byrunners, and in certain instances bystampeders, fled and complained, except, of course, for every little boy of any age who followed it with eyes open wide, vowing there and then that one day he would be the captain of the terrible noxious engine, oh yes indeed. A prince of the steam! A master of the sparks! A coachman of the Thunderbolts!”

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Bystanders to byrunners to bystampeders…

Nobody can do it like Terry Pratchett did.

Rest in peace, Sir.

You will be missed.

 

A Words Look: “These Days” by Jackson Browne

These Days is one of my favorite Jackson Browne songs. As I have aged, it has also slowly crept up the ladder for a permanent top-tier spot in my heart and soul.

Middle-agedness seeps from every word and note of this song. Life at a crossroads; the point in life where one contemplates the past and begins to fear the future. It is just a beautiful song.

Surprisingly, one of the first songs a teenage Jackson Browne wrote. Remarkable.

Absolutely, positively, mother-loving remarkable.

“These Days”

Well I’ve been out walking
I don’t do that much talking these days
These days-
These days I seem to think a lot
About the things that I forgot to do
For you
And all the times I had the chance to

And I had a lover
It’s so hard to risk another these days
These days-
Now if I seem to be afraid
To live the life I have made in song
Well it’s just that I’ve been losing so long

I’ll keep on moving
Things are bound to be improving these days
These days-
These days I sit on corner stones
And count the time in quarter tones to ten, my friend
Don’t confront me with my failures
I had not forgotten them