Book Review: Alcatraz #1259

As a criminal justice professional, I sometimes get the opportunity to attend national criminal justice conferences. These trips offer a wealth of knowledge and help me learn about national trends throughout the justice system. They also give me some great opportunities to explore some really cool places.

Last year, one of the conferences was in San Francisco, California. I’ve been there before, but only for a day, so I was excited to spend a little more time in the city. My top priority was getting a tour of Alcatraz. It was a bit of an ordeal, but eventually, I was fortunate enough to make it to the island. Once the boat docked, an announcement was made that there was a book signing taking place that afternoon in the gift shop. One of the last living Alcatraz inmates had authored a book, and he was present to sign as many copies as people wanted to buy. I’m a sucker for a signed book, and the fact that it pertained to a federal prison, while I was in town for a criminal justice convention just made it that much better.

I soaked up the sights and sounds of the audio tour while I wandered through the cell house, but my mind was pushing me toward the gift shop the whole time.  I entered the gift shop and navigated through two or three different rooms and there was no sight of a book signing anywhere.  Then I turned another corner, and there sat William G. Baker, flanked by stacks of his books.  He sat peacefully at his table, signing books and answering questions as tourists from around the world approached him.  I’m sure he’s probably heard any and every question hundreds of times already, but he remained cordial and patient with every visitor, myself included. Continue reading

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Literary Locations: New Orleans Edition

Recently, I was fortunate enough to get to visit New Orleans.  NOLA.  The Big Easy.  The Crescent City.  Call it what you want, just be sure to recognize the incredible history and culture the area harbors.  It was a short trip, but there were a few things I HAD to do while I was in town.  No, I’m not talking about bar hopping down Bourban Street.  If you know anything about me, then you already know that’s not my scene.  (Although, I may have ended up bar hopping down Bourban Street a little bit anyway though.  Hey, when in Rome, ya know??)  Actually, the places I had on my must-see list were almost all National Literary Landmarks.  And they most certainly did NOT disappoint. Continue reading

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Bookish Gaming, Part 2: Mobile Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Style

The last time I reviewed mobile games I commented about how the choose-your-own-adventure concept hasn’t successfully adapted to newer technologies outside of print books.  I did offer a great graphic novel type zombie title called Survivor Z, and disqualified probably the most well-known title, Choices, because, well…romance.  Blech.  Well, since then, I ended up going down a rabbit hole of the available apps that fit this bill.  It seems there are two primary developers (Hosted Games LLC, and Choice of Games LLC) that have built catalogs of subject matters for whoever might be looking.  I’ve already noted in the past that I’m a sucker for anything zombie related, so most of the titles I chose to review, (surprise, surprise) were zombie related – or at least zombie adjacent.  The apps from these developers are almost identical with the product being completely text based with no graphics or sound effects.

Really, my reviews should be based on the two developers, as each title would be based on each reader’s preference, and the structure would all remain the same throughout the different titles, so I’ll do a side-by-side comparison at the end.  First, I’ll review the titles that I took a shot with.  Since they all have unique writers who are independent from the software developers, the story lines and quality of writing should offer a range.  In theory, at least, right? Continue reading

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National Poetry Month: The Daily Struggle

It turns out that April is National Poetry Month.  Who knew?  I’ve been sitting on this gem for awhile now, undecided about if or when I should share it.  With everything going on in the world, now seems like a pretty logical time.  I wrote this when I was in a particularly dark place.  Not much has changed, and it never really seems to.  Some may see this as a cry for help, which I’m not entirely convinced that it is.  Mostly, this is just to serve as an outlet.  A lot of it reflects my own personal thought processes and ideas, sure.  But some of it is for artistic value.  I won’t break it down any more than that right now, but I hope you enjoy this poem for what it is: a glimpse into my broken psyche, and what I think is a pretty decent, fairly powerful poem about mental health and the struggles that people face with it.

Mental Health.

A current fad.

So many causes:

Work, kids, bills, health, genetics, weather.

So few solutions:

Counseling, medication, self care.

But who has time? Who has money?

Gym memberships. More money. More time.

Therapy, prescriptions. More money. More time.

More stress.

What’s the reason?

What’s the purpose?

Sleep, the only reprieve.

Temporary, but consistent.

Sleep, please come quickly.

Depression.

Anxiety.

Sadness.

Loneliness.

Taught to bottle it up and keep it inside;

Where it festers, eats you up, and rots you from the core.

Your mind works against you.

Share your feelings they say, let it out.

But why? What changes?

Pity? Become a punchline?

What’s the point?

Stress is all consuming.

Sleep will come eventually.

Perpetually.

Eventually.

Sleep.

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Book Review: Circle City Publishing Presents: Fun Size – A Sample Anthology

Some may see this review as a little self-serving, seeing as how I created the theme, crafted the call for submissions, reached out to several authors to gauge interest, then collected, edited, and organized all the stories before formatting them all for the printer. Those people may be right. However, the point of this review is serving the same mission as the point of this collection, which is to benefit the authors and readers alike.

One of the biggest challenges for any independent author is getting readers. The cost of marketing your books without the resources of an established publishing company is prohibitive for most authors who are trying to break out. People who aren’t familiar with the subject matter and writing style aren’t typically willing to risk the money for a book from somebody they aren’t familiar with.

That’s where Circle City Publishing and the Fun Size Anthology comes in. By featuring a wide array of authors from all genres (minus romance), the idea is simple: the more readers this collection can appeal to, the more beneficial for everyone. The concept of this collection is to offer a sampling of stories from existing novels and series, so readers can learn about the writing styles and universes that the authors have created. Continue reading

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Kids Corner: My Ship Don’t Sink! Reading

My favorite thing about this time in our world right now, is seeing the creative community come together and offer multiple different ways to consume their material.  Last week, I shared some Circle City Publishing coloring sheets.  This week, I’m happy to share a reading of my children’s book, My Ship Don’t Sink!  Continue reading

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Kids Corner: Circle City Publishing Free Downloadable Coloring Sheets

Hey there, everybody!  With the current condition of the world, it’s time that we all band together and get creative with how we fill our time.  It’s easy to get sucked into the couch and endlessly binge whatever shows or movies we can find.  Movie studios are making that even easier by putting brand new releases straight out for digital consumption (which is really a pretty cool move on their part during all of this turmoil).  Unfortunately, that may not be the healthiest way to spend our time.

Some of us may draw into working from home and become a productivity beast, which has its own benefits and drawbacks alike.  The flip side of that coin though, involves the countless number of youth who have had their school years completely disrupted, suspended, or even outright cancelled in some cases.

Finding physical activity and engaging our brains is super important during this time of crisis.  While I will leave the physical part up to each of you, I have been working on some activities to engage the creativity centers in our brains.  I did this primarily for the kids who need some help with their schedules and structure, but there’s no reason adults can’t enjoy this as well! Continue reading

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Author Spotlight: Cait Marie

Folks, I don’t know how else to introduce this next author other than by saying that she is an absolute force of nature in the independent publishing world. She founded the marvelous website, Functionally Fictional, and uses it to highlight indie authors on a daily basis. Her support of the self-published writing community alone makes her a-okay in my book! So without further adieu, let’s gets to know Cait Marie!

(Editor’s note: This interview was completed prior to the release of her debut novel, The Lost Legends.  If some of the responses don’t line up with the timeline of reality, that would be why.) Continue reading

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Fun Size: A Sample Anthology Available Now!

The time has come!  Circle City Publishing is proud to present our first anthology.  Fun Size: A Sample Anthology presents nine wide-ranging stories from nine great authors.  At this low price, how can you pass up this incredible offer?  Learn about new series, familiarize yourself with the author’s writing styles, then stock up on some exciting, new worlds!  Click here for the full array of available formats.  Check it out and help spread the word!

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Comic Books; Real Literature or Juvenile Comic Strips?

Comic books typically come with a juvenile stigma attached. When people ask what you’re reading and you say Faulkner, you get a nod of respect. However, If you say Ghost Rider, you will likely get an eye roll. (At least, that’s how it was pre-Big Bang Theory, anyway. That show made being a nerd acceptable, and whether you enjoyed the show or not, I think we can all be thankful for it bridging the gap between the cool kids and the geeks.) Most people have no idea that the latest run of Ghost Rider follows a Hispanic teenager/young adult, working as a mechanic to support and care for his disabled younger brother who’s bound to a wheelchair. The character development in most comic books is phenomenal. Iron Man has had struggles with alcoholism, and Green Lantern & Green Arrow have had to deal with the death of a sidekick due to a drug overdose.  The story arcs are broken up into small chunks, but they’re enthralling. They must be entertaining, or they wouldn’t still exist. Just like “regular” books. Besides, they’re called comic “books”, doesn’t that automatically give them credit for being real books? What about graphic “novels”? Any difference there?  The article at this link does a nice job of touching on all of these questions, so I won’t rehash what they’ve already covered.

Let’s take a look at the cover of “Pumpkin Heads” by Rainbow Rowell and Faith Erin Hicks. The first thing to notice is that Rowell is clearly labeled as a #1 New York Times bestselling author. That is a massive achievement for any author, and automatically gives legitimacy without even opening the book. The second thing worth noting is the part where it labels itself as a graphic novel. It very plainly identifies as a novel, but recognizes that there is art involved, which is why they shoehorn the word “graphic” in there. This is obviously just one example of the countless graphic novel offerings, but it makes quite a compelling argument I’d say.

Consider a couple other reputable authors who have ventured over into the graphic novel side of the publishing industry.  Chuck Palahniuk, most notably of Fight Club fame, decided to use comic books to tell his story for Fight Club 2 instead of writing another novel for the sequel to the massively successful book.  While there was a lot of criticism for that series, it hasn’t stopped Dark Horse Comics from announcing plans for Fight Club 3, which Palahniuk will maintain creative control over.  Kurt Vonnegut’s timeless classic, Slaughterhouse Five, is also getting the graphic novel treatment.  How’s that for legitimacy?? Continue reading

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