September 27, 2020

September Edition: “The Break from HOKAIC”

September Edition: “The Break from HOKAIC”

Editorial Note: This is the September edition of our new monthly feature from writing coach and longtime FC Barista Jason Brick. In this column, he’ll bring you news and advice from the writing world. Greetings again! September has been an interesting month in the publishing world. Here’s a selection of the most interesting, informative, or amusing things I found around the internet while researching my weekly newsletter for writers: A piece on the fact-checking crisis in publishing Whether you should offer comp titles in a query letter Case study on why women write under men’s names A solid article on how to market your book Writing advice from GRR Martin Why Gillian Flynn gets her best writing done after midnight If you have any questions or comments about these articles, leave a comment and let’s…

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September 24, 2020

“Love on the Road” — The Poetry of Irving Glassman

“Love on the Road” — The Poetry of Irving Glassman

               Love On The Road    We hug and kiss in the fast food parking area   From their SUV my family waves farewell to me  We are on the same road until they slow to approach their exit  For an instant we are side by side  Everyone turns in their seats and throws me an extra kiss  They look like any other family  Except they’re my family                   #   #  #                        Crossing Over               My daughter runs, hops, and skips        To the curb’s edge        For her ritual rite of passage               I assure her it’s safe to cross        She runs, hops and skips        To the opposite curb        “I’m a grown up now,” she yells           I yelled back, “Don’t grow up yet. You have time.” …

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September 22, 2020

“Counseling” — A Short Story by Yash Seyedbagheri

“Counseling” — A Short Story by Yash Seyedbagheri

Go see a counselor, classmates proclaim, when I ask for company. Friendship.  “It’ll help,” the ringleader of the pro-counseling legion proclaims. Her name is Betty Brown, she wears huge glasses, and I suspect she has a few fucking issues of her own. “It’ll help you get balance. You’ll find peace in your life, Nick.”  Balance? What the fuck? I want a friend. I want a fucking friend.  As if counselors can compensate for the vast spaces between me and people, the empty rooms at night, the excessive time spent with Netflix and its soothing red glow. Can counselors make people respond to the emails I send? Are they punishing me for bluntness unmasked? Counselors are just as fucked up, truth be told. They’re people who disguise sorrows beneath diagnoses and cold recommendations. Take this pill. Get more exercise.  I’d like a friend. That’s what every email I send…

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September 20, 2020

“Frank Olson” — The Poetry of Charles Rammelkamp

“Frank Olson” — The Poetry of Charles Rammelkamp

Frank Olson    “Webber,” my editor barked  when I walked into the office  that day just after Thanksgiving, 1953.   “I want you to look into this story  about the CIA guy who jumped  out of the tenth floor window   at the Statler, on Seventh Avenue.  Why did he do it?  Could he have been he pushed?”    My beat? CIA, MK-ULTRA, “mind-control” drugs.  Brainwashing.   I knew about Frank Olson already;  worked at Camp Dietrich in Maryland, Special Ops,   an aerosol expert, his specialty   “airborne distribution of biological germs.”   Worked on Operation Sea Spray a couple year earlier,   where they released a dust   that floated like anthrax, near San Francisco.   At Dietrich, he directed experiments  that involved gassing and poisoning lab animals.    “I’ll look right into it, sir,”   already booking a flight and hotel  in my mind, thinking,…

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September 18, 2020

“Juno Steel and the Prince of Mars”

“Juno Steel and the Prince of Mars”

Hello, Fictional Cafe Listeners! Penumbra Podcast is back again! Because you all seemed to enjoy it so much last time, we’re bringing you another story of that eccentric man from the future…who also seems stuck in the past. This time: Juno Steel and the Prince of Mars. If everyone is ready, we’re going to follow Juno Steel, a brooding, sharp-witted private eye on Mars, as he tangles with an elusive homme fatale, tracks dangerous artifacts of an ancient alien civilization, and faces his three greatest fears: heights, blood, and relationships. Juno Steel and the Prince of Mars (Pt. 1) http://www.thepenumbrapodcast.com/s1e4-juno-steel-and-the-prince-of-mars-p1 After an explosive murder case gone wrong, Detective Juno Steel is in the market for some slower work. His next client promises something quiet: a routine find-the-cheating-husband job. Well… it should be routine. Should be, being…

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September 15, 2020

“On Waking Up and Strong Desires,” by Kelly Burke

“On Waking Up and Strong Desires,” by Kelly Burke

It is Saturday morning. I woke up with a strong desire to get a haircut. On my laptop I look up local salons to read reviews and compare ratings. I find one that looks promising. It has 4.9 stars and a recent client named Beatrice wrote that the stylists are warm and helpful people. Everything on the website is written in a romantic cursive font like a wedding invitation. I book an appointment for noon. I type out my name, email address, and phone number. Before submitting the form, it asks me to select the length of my hair, long or short. There is no option for medium or other. It makes me wince a bit. Then I begin contemplating the most accurate way to describe the length of my hair. I think about how…

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September 13, 2020

“Leap of Faith” — An Ekphrasis Poem by Mark Blickley

“Leap of Faith” — An Ekphrasis Poem by Mark Blickley

Image by Mark Blickley  Leap of Faith  I’m a dead frog and I don’t say this with any pity or understanding or shame, it’s just an observation that people seem to like us, like us a bit too much because they like to push hooks through our jaws and cast us out to sea, as well as amputate us for fine dining and draw us as a cartoon shuffling cigar smoking smart ass, and they like to blame us when they choke on the phlegm in their throats, and they swear that some of us give them hideous skin infections while the evil ones enjoy tossing us into their steamy potions as the younger ones imitate us with a game of leaps and crashes, perhaps because we abandon our young and we larger ones like to…

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September 10, 2020

What “God” Is: A Philosophical-Scientific Essay by Steve Sangapore

What “God” Is: A Philosophical-Scientific Essay by Steve Sangapore

Pictured Above:LIBERATION72″ x 48″ x 1.5″Oil, mirror, and 24k gold leaf on canvas2020 What God Is (WITHOUT THE WOO WOO) Why God is the Pursuit of Meaning The evolution of the concept of God is one of the oldest, deepest and most important developments to ever have risen out of the human psyche. Throughout almost every culture on Earth we have seen evidence of belief in the divine. The idea of God or a creating force has evolved from the earliest known manifestations represented as human-animal hybrids, to pantheons of intervening superhuman gods, to God as man made flesh on Earth, to more contemporary notions of God as the totality of the universe and its contents. Humans in their desire for answers to life’s most pressing questions have creatively reimagined and transformed God over the…

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September 8, 2020

“Danger in Plain Sight,” a Novel by Burt Weissbourd

“Danger in Plain Sight,” a Novel by Burt Weissbourd

Editor’s Note: We’re pleased to be publishing an excerpt from Burt Weissbourd’s fifth novel here at the Café. Burt is a strong writer with a background in Hollywood movies, and it shows in Danger in Plain Sight. It’s tough, it’s suspenseful and it has strong forward movement like a good Mickey Spillane novel. This is Burt’s first Callie James thriller, which climbs aboard the Weissbourd novel train behind three Corey Logan works and one non-serial novel set in Wyoming’s Yellowstone Park. In this opening scene, we find Callie James working in her restaurant when her ex-husband Daniel shows up unexpectedly. If you like Danger in Plain Sight, you’ll probably be clicking away to get some more on Amazon. The following excerpt is drawn from the first two chapters, so let’s get to it! Chapter One…

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September 6, 2020

“Yodeling in the City” A Short Story by Marc Littman

“Yodeling in the City” A Short Story by Marc Littman

“No more yodeling, John, I can’t stand it!” Joan clutched her ears like she was clinging to a stout tree in a hurricane.  I peered at my wife’s pained visage, a face that after 40 years I no longer tried to spare any torment, and shrugged.   “Maybe I’m calling out to you, if only you could hear.”  “Like I’m a fat cow in the Alps and you’re a shepherd?!” Joan cried. “We live in New York, John. People don’t yodel in the city.”     Peering through our expansive windows at a Matterhorn of concrete, I started to warble but stifled the urge. Taking a different tack, I pivoted to confront Joan.  “Elmer does.”  “Elmer’s a peasant, he belongs in the Alps. He and Julie Andrews can sing their hearts out!” Joan volleyed back. I took a hit but stood my ground.  “Yodeling is more than singing, Joan. The subtle pitches and measured breathing, it calms me, and it reminds me of our younger days. Remember when we used to…

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