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My Tree

In chaos there is meaning.

The meaning is there is no meaning.

Chaos

The weirding of the word

Is a lie to its content.

A portion of the great Ain Soph.

The mind grapples what it cannot conceive.

In the no-thingness of chaos

Is contained the birth of all.

Order,

Born of chaos,

Dies

Kicking and screaming

As chaos

Welcomes

It home.

All cycles,

All possible,

Extremes,

I climb the tree to live.

Looking out

Over the great mass of non-being

I see

In the distance

Another tree.

Looking out from the tree

Is me…

Thank you for reading,

Ernest

The Paladin Mandates

MIKE CHINN’S LIKELY IMMORTAL PULP HERO FLIES ONCE MORE-‘THE PALADIN MANDATES’ DEBUTS FROM PRO SE PRODUCTIONS

“You get caught up in the slipstream of the airfights and enthralled by the origins and secret identity of Leigh Oswin … I really want to read some more about Damian Paladin …Jenny B. (PRISM UK)

Damian Paladin: aviator, an expert on the occult, and apparently ageless. Leigh Oswin: her origins as mysterious as Paladin’s own. On a cold day in July during the early 1930s, their paths first cross outside a deserted airfield – and history is made. Uniting, they tackle vengeful Native American spirits, golems, a thunderbird, deadly banshees, primeval monstrosities from before time, undying pharaohs – and ultimately, even their own pasts.

Author Mike Chinn’s New Pulp hero flies into adventure once more in THE PALADIN MANDATES. From Pro Se Productions.

“A ready-made pulp icon, rarely seen without his leather flying coat and jodhpurs … A loving reconstruction of cheap pulp heroics … the perfect retro-romp.” Nick Setchfield (SFX MAGAZINE).

Featuring a thrilling cover and logo design by Antonino lo Iacono and print formatting by Dave Brzeski and Jilly Paddock, THE PALADIN MANDATES is available in print for $9.99.

This New Pulp story collection is also available as an eBook formatted by Brzeski and Paddock on the Kindle for only $2.99. The book is also available to Kindle Unlimited members for free.

For more information on this title, interviews with the author, or digital copies for review, email editorinchief@prose-press.com.

Please visit our website to learn more about Pro Se Productions. Like Pro Se on Facebook for all of the latest updates.

The Zephyr

Image by Susann Mielke from Pixabay

The joy of fully realizing and knowing the bond of our friendship had deepened over the last three years made my heart sing that fateful morning. Seen from a distance, the early rays of dawn glistened against the silhouette of The Zephyr exiting the barn. The Zephyr existed was a triumph of the bond shared between Philip and me. Through trials, tribulations, and victories of our endeavors as our shared vision took shape, so too did our relationship grow from friendship to brotherhood.

Our combined skills in engineering and electrical sciences produced this magnificent airship. While not as large as its successors would be, this ship would be the proof of concept that would change the world, ushering in a new commerce and transportation age. This maiden flight would test and confirm our theories shining as a beacon of hope for the future.

Preflight checks all seemed to be in order. The rudder and planes responded well to the controls from gleaming brass and polished wooden controls in the wheelhouse. The small Donkey engine aft generated a good head of steam as it spun the two dynamos up to speed. Dials spun as they engaged both in the engine compartment and their duplicates in the wheelhouse. They reflected the steady pressure of the Donkey engines chug-chug and the current flow from the dynamos. A third dial held a constant vigil as the batteries held their charge. In contrast, four smaller dials below read the amperage fed to each of the powerful electric motors ready to spin the propellers.

A steam engine required to power even a ship this size weighed more than the ship could lift. Its cargo capacity being negated by the requirement to carry enough fuel to feed the monster. Our concept used a one-cylinder donkey engine to charge batteries. It was lightweight and could be turned off for extended periods while the ship was powered by its batteries, requiring much less fuel. At least that was the idea.

The coin toss went to Phillip. It would be he who piloted our craft as I operated the engine and tended the batteries. Our six backers and their wives would occupy the small but well-appointed, passenger cabin and we would carry 250 pounds of mixed cargo. Our future plans would aim for up to 100 passengers or as much cargo as a large freighter. Other designs might allow for a mix of passengers and cargo. Yes, our optimism was high.

The ground crew loosed our bonds to the earthly realm. With hardly a bump, our beautiful craft with its crimson and gold gas bag adorned by the saw-toothed stabilizer fins bore us heavenward.

We circled the town, checking our systems and operations, allowing our backers too, “ooh and ahh,” as we dipped low enough to view landmarks. A tight circle of the town’s clocktower confirmed the trim crafts maneuverability. All conducted in silence.

The intent was we would fly northward to our capital, showing our invention to the government. Surely after such a prolonged period of devastation, a design such as ours might inspire them to back us as well. The possibilities were endless. Our dreams were of the pie in the sky variety.  Our heads and our invention were in the clouds.

Our Backers were ecstatic. Fortunately, the weather was good, and they gushed over how comfortable the travel. Even the best trains were loud and smelly. This was almost as comfortable as sitting in their own parlors. Their schemes at attracting passengers soon outstripped Phillips and mine most grandiose of plans. The only sound the occasional chug-chug of the Donkey engine to keep up the charge.

As the batteries charged, two things happened. First, they generated heat, and this in itself could cause them to boil out, exposing the plates seated in the sulfuric acid, potentially causing a spark. This results in the second problem of an explosion. As the batteries charged, they generate not only heat but hydrogen gas. This gas is the very thing suspending our craft between heaven and earth. A spark could ignite it.

Phillip solved these problems in two ways. Each battery resided inside a glass housing. Ingeniously a stopcock attached to each of these housings allowed the hydrogen to be siphoned off and stored for future use. This would solve one of the questions posed in obtaining a supply for our ships. A creative system of ductwork flowed over the batteries removing the oxygen produced as part of the process, which had the effect of cooling both batteries and the engines. The controls to open these ducts resided in the wheelhouse. The siphoning process could be controlled manually at the batteries or from the wheelhouse.

We made the trip from Texas to Washington, D.C., in less than 14 hours. A three-day journey by train is reduced to less than a day. The trip was a complete success for our vision of the future.

Well, mine at least, for I noticed the temperature of the batteries rising. This had occurred a couple of times during the flight, but Phillip had opened the ducts rapidly cooling things down each time. There was no cool down.

The speaking tube engendered no response. Worried, I went to the wheelhouse only to find the door locked. My knocks produced no more response than the speaking tube. Concern for Phillip led me to break open the door. In the interest of lightweight, the doors and nonstructural components were made of the lightest materials, the door collapsed under a determined assault.

“Phillip, what is wrong?” stunned as he seemed to be piloting the craft normally. I could just see the capitol through the front windows of the wheelhouse.

“There is nothing wrong, Emmet. I aim to repair history. We should never have lost that war, and now carpetbaggers steal our ways of life. Take our property and our lands. Do you really think those men back there are not plotting to take every cent from our toil? When this ship crashes into the capitol, our brethren will rise again, throw off the shackle of these northern oppressors.” Madly throwing controls, The Zephyr abruptly canted downward. If action were not taken swiftly, our dreams would turn from an optimistic vision to a thunderbolt of Zeusian vengeance.

“Phillip, after all, we have come to understand each other how can you dash our dreams? The war was lost, slavery was on the way out as machinery changed the economics. Ours is a time to look to the future, rebuild from the ashes, and create new things like the Zephyr. Please, Phillip, step away from the controls.”

“I knew you had gone soft Emmet when you mourned Lincoln. I knew it then. You are a good man, but you just do not understand. The idea came to me as we flew. I knew you would never understand what this chance represented.”

“I understand, Phillip. I understand too well. Some cannot accept times change. There will always be those who want to hold dearly to old ideas, will fight to prevent change. Even change for the better where all mankind might learn to live as one brotherhood. How can I convince you this is not the course to take? Only evil can come of it.”

With a glance at the controls, Phillip spun to face me.

“I can’t let you do this, Phillip.”

“I can’t let you stop me, Emmet.”

Without further word, we launched at each other.

Thank you for reading,

Ernest

All That Weird Jazz – One Readers Review

Kevin Findley’s Reviews > All That Weird Jazz

Another solid anthology from Pro Se Press. The authors and their stories hit every beat (pun intended) needed to merge a love of jazz and the supernatural.

Each tale is quite good, but my favorite is probably ‘Jazz Juice’ by McCallum J. Morgan. He takes the idea of the Crossroads Demon and puts a ‘combo’ twist on it. If you don’t get that, consider it another reason to read the story. The protagonist ends up exactly where you expect, but Morgan still put a smile on my face.

The first story, ‘Trane Blue’, does the opposite. The supernatural creature is not one I have ever associated with Jazz prior, but I will certainly think about it from now on. A neat, little twist!

Next up is ‘Sounds and Sweet Airs’. The author has given us a tragic heroine, but not one that just accepts what her future might be. Dorothy doesn’t get exactly what she hoped for, but her visions led her to a piano player that let her see something better.

‘Ghost in the Jazz’ is the shortest tale, but it tugged at my heart the hardest. Sixie isn’t the typical, tragic heroine, but she is pretty tough, just the kind of gal (i.e. Stanwyck and Harlow) that belongs in a tale like this.

‘Django in Paris’ could easily be made into a Twilight Zone episode. Davide Mana has his characters dialed in that well. Many years ago, I had the chance to patron a Paris jazz club and it felt much like Davide’s story. On top of that, a bunch of Nazis get it in the neck. What more could you ask for?!

‘Siren Song’ is a time travel story that could have easily folded itself into a corner, but the author did a nice, little side step to avoid the problem. The main character also found himself with a little redemption and resurrection before the final page.

‘Dark Magus’ takes place in Ethiopia. It is a cracking good monster story that locks down a demon on the downbeat. Pun definitely intended that time. Our trumpeter has a familiar name, so I just added (to me) the appropriate last name whenever I read it. You probably will too.

Our last tale is ‘Sunshine in Storyville’. Perhaps not the best in the series, but the author certainly knows how to keep your attention and race you through New Orleans until you are out of breath by the end, and that is always a good talent to have.

Not a dud in the bunch, but I’ve come to expect that from Tommy Hancock and Company. Great book boys and girls!

Find it! BUY IT! READ IT!

All That Weird Jazz is available on Amazon for Kindle and in Paperback.

Please visit our webpage to learn more about Pro Se Productions or keep up with the latest news on the Facebook page.

If you enjoyed Kevin Findley’s review check out his other reviews by licking the link at the top of the page.

Thank you for reading,

Ernest

THE ADVENTURES OF LAZARUS GRAY VOLUME EIGHT’ AVAILABLE NOW

SOVEREIGN CITY’S PREMIERE HERO RETURNS IN FIRST OF MULTIPLE RELEASES- BARRY REESE’S ‘THE ADVENTURES OF LAZARUS GRAY VOLUME EIGHT’ AVAILABLE

“The only clue to his identity was a small medallion with the words ‘Lazarus Gray’ stamped upon it….” These words introduced many readers to one of the best heroes in Genre Fiction, created by award-winning author Barry Reese. Now, Pro Se Productions proudly presents THE ADVENTURES OF LAZARUS GRAY VOLUME EIGHT in both digital and print formats.

Lazarus Gray and his team, Assistance Unlimited, face an uncertain future at the dawn of a new decade. New mysteries, new allies, and new foes rise from the ashes of old to challenge this band of heroes as never before…But their greatest crisis comes from within as one of their number stands at a crossroad and makes a choice that may turn friends into foes forever.

Created and written by award-winning author Barry Reese, THE ADVENTURES OF LAZARUS GRAY VOLUME EIGHT features stunning cover art by George Sellas. Also included in this volume- SECRETS OF THE DEAD, a comic-strip origin sequence by Barry Reese and Sellas!

The winds of change are keenly felt in THE ADVENTURES OF LAZARUS GRAY VOLUME EIGHT from Reese Unlimited and Pro Se Productions!

Featuring logo design and print formatting by Sean Ali is available in print, THE ADVENTURES OF LAZARUS GRAY VOLUME EIGHT for $9.99.

The continued adventures of this New Pulp icon are is also available as an eBook formatted by Antonino lo Iacono and Marzia Marina for the Kindle for only $2.99. The book is also available to Kindle Unlimited members for free.

THE ADVENTURES OF LAZARUS GRAY VOLUME EIGHT is the first of several new volumes of the adventures of Assistance Unlimited penned by Reese to be released in the coming months from Pro Se Productions.

For more information on this title, scheduling interviews with the author, or receiving digital copies for review, please email editorinchief@prose-press.com.

To learn more about Pro Se Productions, [;ease visit our webpage or like Pro Se page on Facebook.

Thank you for reading,

Ernest

Tavern by Deston J. Munden – Book Review

Tavern (Dargath Chronicles Book 1)

By Deston Munden

Reviewed by Ernest Russell

I always enjoy a good fantasy and an author who can twist tropes just enough to make the story interesting. The main character in Tavern, Xelnath of the Gnarled Root Clan, or Xel, is such a relatable character, full of flaws and self-doubt. A stout heart, loyal to his friends, and genuinely wants to protect his adopted home. All of this and he is not above using its secrets to make a living. He faces adversity despite his anxieties and depression while maintaining a positive feel to the story. You will quickly find yourself cheering and rooting for Xel rather than pitying him. In the first chapter, you learn what I mean by how well Deston Munden twists tropes in Tavern.

Xel isn’t the only well developed, every character is fleshed out, and you get to know them. The villain is one of my favorite types, they are the hero of their own story. You can see their point and still ask what made you think this was a good idea?

Tavern is the first of a planned series set in the world of Dargath. The world-building in this first book is impressive. Primarily set in the city of Lladad, a major seaport, you hear and see many of the different inhabitants of Dargath and their cultures. The city is alive in this story as you wander markets, slums, and royal abodes. Fear not, in Tavern, Deston Munden has resisted the urge to be overly detailed. There is enough description to set your imagination flowing while the characters and their dialogue drive the plot.

Role players who cut their gaming teeth on Chainmaile and Dungeons & Dragons while quoting Tolkien will find many characters they have known or played. If this series gains a following, campaign settings for D&D, Pathfinder, or any other fantasy RPG setting would be fun. I know I would play in them. Dargath is already a world where I would vacation and explore. That Tavern by Deston Munden reads like a game probably shouldn’t be a surprise considering his degree in Game Art and Design. Here is a description of the entire party assembled before a battle with the villain.

“Two forest orcs on the wrong side of the world, a tribeswoman assassin, a former dragon pirate turned mercenary, a lady from the Glade’s court, and a brilliant engineer in the shape of a dog. They were as rag-tag as they could get.”

These are my kind of people for an adventure.

The plot is well-paced, without being too fast or bogging itself down. This is a book in which the story is a joy to read. Tavern was edited by Dominion Editorial. I commend Deston Munden for seeking editors, so many independents do not, and sound editing makes a difference. The content editing and continuity are quite good in Tavern. The copy editing came up short. Dominion offers various packages for their service, and I don’t know if a copy edit was included.  Any book can miss a couple of things, often minor enough your mind fills in or corrects for it. These don’t tend to pull you out of the story. There are enough words missed, or incorrectly inserted, I was drawn out of the story multiple times. Fortunately, the story is strong enough and compelling enough to pull you back into it.

Tavern by Deston J. Munden is a book I recommend. The story is good. The characters are well rounded and developed, the subplots are well executed, and with all the elements combined, this is a book I can see becoming a favorite.

Thank you for reading,

Ernest

Ferguson Ink

U.S. MARSHAL BASS REEVES #1

IN AFRICAN-AMERICAN ADVENTURE FICTIONCOMIC BOOKWESTERN

Some things just make your day.

Many authors have several works in progress at once, and often a few finished stories filed away. I’m certainly no exception. About two weeks ago, I entered a contest. Quite a few authors enter contests. I have toyed with the idea but never took the leap.

Swan Song

The contest came across my inbox as they do. I knew it was legit, and reading through, I realized the story was already written. The prompt was, “Tell a story in which the main character asks a question at the end.” Swan Song was gathering digital dust, so I brushed it off and tweaked it here and there. Then through the magic of having a partner, who in a previous business life, who has been a copy editor for a small newspaper in Maryland, had it polished and sent in plenty of time.

The cool part was receiving an email today announcing there was a new comment on the story. I am going to share it with you.

“Whoah, great story! There is so much richness in your writing, that the 3000 word limit really didn’t do you justice.

First of all, I loved the way you did dialogue. I could clearly hear the words Zeke spoke in my mind and was able to fabricate a fitting image of him from that. The dialogue sounded authentic, like that’s how the characters would actually talk if they were real persons.

Secondly, the relationship between Zeke and Maude was so sweet! IT really felt like they were long friends, and it showed (at least to me) that Zeke was probably a bit lonely, traveling and prospecting, so he conversed with his mule as if it were a human. Very very well done!

And thirdly, the story within the story. I don’t know if this is a true legend, or if you constructed it yourself, but it sounds like a true folk tale to me! I loved how you described it, and how it all turned out, the people being turned into swans. Brilliant!

The only thing that felt a little rushed or ended too soon was the ending itself. I liked it, but I think it would be even better with a paragraph or two more. Now, in all fairness, I think your whole story deserves to be expanded into a novella, perhaps a full-length novel even. It’s just so rich and vivid and the feel is authentic! Loved it! Hope to read more of your work! Keep writing 🙂 – H.V.”

When I read it, I wanted to jump up and do a fist pump. Not only is if very complimentary BUT SOMEONE UNDERSTOOD. This was almost as big a rush having a new book come out. Links have been placed in the document should wish to read the story.

Thank you for reading and sharing this small moment,

Ernest

Nightmare Asylum and other Deadly Delights – A Book Review

Nightmare Asylum and other Deadly Delights – Author Sonia Kilvington

Review by Ernest Russell

Nightmare Asylum and Other Deadly Delights by Sonia Kilvington starts at the cover. Your eye is drawn ever deeper upon viewing the cover art by Craig Douglas. This book, like the fabled abyss, will stare back at you as Sonia Kilvington plumbs the essential nature of human relationships. For these stories are not uplifting, Chicken Soup for the Soul, no, these stories are much more Charles Addams style. You see, each of these stories strips away normal. To quote Charles Addams –“Normal is an illusion. What is normal for the spider is chaos for the fly.”

These are short stories at their finest, which are a different skill set than a novel. Novels have time to explore the full three-act structure.  In a short story, you often only have space to write a segment of the three-act structure, usually a portion leading to a significant, transformative event for the main character.

Good short stories will have an impact. They strike you and stick with you. Weird tales and horror stories can kick your adrenaline and hours, maybe days later, they still rattle around inside your head. In this style, Sonia Kilvington is a master.

From the title story Nightmare Asylum to the final story Winter Baby, this book will enthrall you. They are fast reads. We need to remember horror does not lurk solely in darkness, seclusion, and gore. Innocence, passion, greed, and yes, even beauty, can bring their horror. Only the lucky ones get out of this through death. For the unlucky, shredding sanity as madness takes its toll.

If you ever watched Scooby-Doo, you should know this lesson. The real monsters are people. Stroll through the pages of Nightmare Asylum and Other Deadly Delights by Sonia Kilvington and meet the monsters. I wager you might even recognize a few.  

You can find Nightmare Asylum and Other Deadly Delights by Sonia Kilvingston on Amazon. It is available in print and on Kindle.

Thank you for reading,

Ernest

The Photograph – Flash Fiction

A sample of Millie Thom’s delightful Flash Fiction

Millie Thom

singer

The Photograph

Dearest Papa,

I hope this letter finds you well and you continue to enjoy teaching the piano to your eager pupils. Yes, praise for your skills and patience in this pursuit has spread far beyond Mayfield.

As you see, I have sent you a photograph, which I found whilst inspecting the contents of an old chest that had been stored, forgotten, in my attic these past ten years. I hesitated to send it for some weeks for fear of causing unwanted memories to surface, but my darling Arthur assured me that your memory of my mother’s death would have diminished after almost fifteen years, and the photo of the three of us may bring you joy.

I remember that evening so well, Papa. Mother sang like a nightingale; your piano playing enthralled and the applause from the audience made me proud to be your daughter. Later that week…

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