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The Jack Commer Resurrection

Nonprofit Chronowar by Michael D. Smith
I suppose that could be a clever novel title if I ever do an eighth Commer novel, but it refers to the republication of my Jack Commer, Supreme Commander SF series. My publisher, Double Dragon Publishing, was sold to a British publisher earlier this month, and although I had a choice to continue with the new publisher, I decided I really want to self-publish the series so I can update the books, especially the first three, at my leisure. At this point I own the six covers and have new ISBN’s ready for publication by Sortmind Press. I’d actually made my decision long ago and had already made extensive notes for updating this series. In 2018 and last fall I’d reread the entire series, and whil...
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New CommWealth Paperbacks

New CommWealth paperbacks
The CommWealth system, introduced just six months ago, has outlawed all private property–including the right to your own body. Two paperback editions are now out for the republished CommWealth: Amazon trade paperbackLulu.com mass market paperback eBook versions are also available: Smashwords eBookKindle eBook And there is a new CommWealth interview on Smashwords. Overview Introduced six months ago, the CommWealth system has outlawed private property. As the story opens, playwright Allan Larson is walking in the rain, spies a new Porsche, and demands the owner relinquish the car. By law, the owner must comply. Everything is free in this society. You just ask for it. To avoid subtle retaliatio...
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I Threw Jump Grenade a Little Further

Jump Grenade from Sortmind Press on Smashwords
A psychopathic Junior Dropout Basketball League star kills a radio announcer with hand grenades, then blows up an entire sports arena to erase all witnesses. Published by Sortmind Press, Jump Grenade is now available in numerous eBook formats from Smashwords. I published this short novel on Amazon with Kindle Select status in October 2019, but in the meantime decided that I’d rather have more places and formats for the eBook version, and so, after Select status expired this June 28th, I also published the eBook on Smashwords. Once you buy from Smashwords, you can download the book from its website in numerous versions: EPUB (for instance, Barnes & Noble Nook, Apple Books. Kobo, etc.)Mobi (Am...
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The Blank Zen Interview

Drawing 6-18-20 copyright 2020 by Michael D. Smith
I’ve done about a dozen web interviews and I always found them like writing a midterm exam where despite all the agonizing left-brained hassle you felt you’d pulled something valid or interesting together. In response to these interviews I came up with my own set of questions I might ask another author, but I find they work just fine being left blank. They can serve as issues to muse about without having to sit down and hash out any final answers. What would you like to see in a positive review? Postulate a negative review. What would the inevitable troll with an axe to grind say about your book? Or: write a scathing negative review of your own book. This may seem like marketing suicide, but...
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The CommWealth Republication

CommWealth, a novel by Michael D. Smith
A. Property What if anyone could ask for anything you owned and keep it for thirty days until someone else wanted it … your home, your car … even your body? Members of the Forensic Squad theatrical troupe find themselves leading a suicidal revolution against the CommWealth system, which has outlawed all private property. CommWealth was originally published in 2015 by Class Act Books, but after it became apparent earlier this year, after queries to fellow Class Act authors and to Amazon, that the small publishing house had, as far as anyone could tell, ceased to exist, Sortmind Press was right there to step in. I checked my Class Act contract and found I could sever it by giving 60 days’ noti...
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Complaints, Fight Songs, and Daily Technology

The Ace of Notebooks Tarot Card copyright 2015 by Michael D. Smith
I wrote this piece of satire after perusing some older journals, but to my dismay I realized that if I’d actually run across this passage in a previous journal I might have thought it was a real entry. It’s bugged me for years that a subset of journal entries begin with complaints that my consciousness has been dim, then morph into fight songs urging me to rise above the squalor. Sometimes I was warming myself up to a day’s writing session, but in any case the final result is just a fluffy bunch of words taking up journal bandwidth. So with a certain amused shudder I present this self-satire. Maybe there’s a novel character in here somewhere. I think I’m now strong enough to finally acknowle...
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The Super Colossal Mess Jungle 2.0

Super Colossal Mess Jungle 2.0 copyright 2020 by Michael D. Smith
Following up on the building of the red stretcher and stretching its canvas, here’s the sequence of the completed painting, though as usual I forgot to chronicle all of it, so we see just a couple major steps and the final result before gloss medium varnish. But there was some good learning along the way. I actually did two acrylic paintings Friday, April 24, the entire process as exhausting as usual. And I unexpectedly wound up with a third archival object. Basically I focused on the 41.5″ x 31.5″ main canvas, destined to be designated Painting 318. Here’s the stretched canvas ready for two coats of white gesso, but I have no photo of the gleaming primed canvas. That dazzling white always l...
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Stretching the Canvas


This almost has to be demonstrated in person before it makes sense, but I’m giving it a verbal try here. First, vacuum the floor to get up items like cat hair. Unroll the canvas on the floor. Place the completed stretcher (here showing my recently completed 49½” x 31½” red stretcher) upside down on the canvas, only the tips of the quarter round finishing strips touching the canvas. Use scissors (the kind of craft scissors that can cut through rough cloth like burlap work great) to cut the canvas so that the overhang on all four sides is more or less the same, at least five inches on all sides. During the following procedure keep straightening the canvas under the stretcher as you go along. T...
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Construction of the Red Stretcher


This will be a non-adjustable stretcher. It doesn’t allow further adjusting of canvas tension as with commercially-made stretcher bars, which have corner slots that aren’t glued, along with pegs which you hammer into these slots to take up slack. However, in making scores of stretchers I’ve never had to go back and adjust canvas tension. Making your own stretcher is much less expensive and allows you to make any size canvas you like. I’m starting with four 48″ and four 30″ lengths, all 1″ x 2″ boards. Because of the overlap technique described below, the final stretcher will actually come out to 49½” x 31½”. Of course I could have cut to 46½” and 28½” if I’d wanted an exactly 48″ x 30″ stret...
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The World’s First Nuclear-Powered Dinosaur, by Mickey Smith

The World’s First Nuclear-Powered Dinosaur copyright 2020 by Michael D. Smith
I’m not sure why my fifth-grade self chose to channel in this morning, but I awoke with this title and I knew I had to write this down. I had no idea what this would be about beyond the first couple paragraphs, but it was as if Mr. Fifth Grade guided the plot from then on. The story comes complete with fifth-grade memes, including the mention of an exact date and an exact city, a few spelling errors even where I knew better, and a quick happy ending. Then Mike asked Mickey to illustrate the beast in question as he so often did for his stories. Chapter 1. Plans Billy Thorsen knew that kids called him a twisted gernius, but he didn’t know what that meant, and he hated to use the dictionary so ...
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The … 2020–Soul … Institute–Clean-Up!!!!!!

The Soul Institute by Michael D. Smith
Computer technician Himal Steina realizes his dream of a mythic return to the sanctuary of a vast foggy university of Soul when he’s appointed Writer in Residence at the Soul Institute and falls in love with one of its numerous faculty goddesses, unaware that he’s blundering into a catastrophic jumble of power lust, romantic chaos, drug abuse, and gang violence. The Soul Institute is my best work, my flagship novel. Last month, five years after its 2015 publication, I reread my paperback copy, still enthralled with how marvelously this story unfolds; in fact, it’s hard to believe I wrote this thing. Yet I also noted, in growing dismay, that some of my old writing habits, mostly over-punctuat...
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My Life with the COVID-19 Lockdown…so far


The Insecure Writer’s Support Group (#IWSG)  Our April 1 question – The IWSG’s focus is on our writers. Each month, from all over the globe, we are a united group sharing our insecurities, our troubles, and our pain. So, in … Continue reading →Original linkOriginal author: Diana Stout
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Ancient Predictions for Spring 2020

In 2020 many famous asteroids were flung into the sun copyright 1966-2020 by Mickey Smith
Celestial disasters of the 2020’s set the background for my Jack Commer science fiction series. While I’m not offering direct comments about the COVID-19 crisis, I’ve been struck by the odd timing of my childhood predictions about 2020. When my eighth-grader self wrote the unfinished rough draft of The Martian Marauders, Fall 1965 to Spring 1966, he unconsciously followed a useful dictum of setting the story so far in the future that he wouldn’t have to worry–so he thought–about discovering whether his predictions would ever come true. So he could offhandedly note: “In 2020 many famous asteroids were flung into the sun,” as the characters in the book face an incomprehensible breakdown of the...
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Confucius and Opium: China Book Reviews


Have foreigners shaped China’s history to a greater extent than has previously been acknowledged, reaching back possibly millennia? Was Confucius’ most famous book, the Analects, inspired by entheogenic medicines imported from abroad, possession of which in the 1930s brought one before the firing squad in the name of Confucius? In these book review essays by Isham Cook, foreign devils, old China Hands, eccentric expatriates, and a few Chinese tell an offbeat history of China’s last two centuries, with a backward glance at ancient China as told by Western mummies. “Confucius and Opium contains surprises sure to both delight and annoy any potential reader….Cook’s audacity is shaming.”—John Gra...
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It’s Read an eBook Week – March 1-7: What are you reading?


The Insecure Writer’s Support Group (#IWSG) Rather than answer the March 4 question posed by the group, I’ve chosen to write about this week’s national recognition on eReading. It’s Read an eBook Week – March 1-7: What are you reading? … Continue reading →Original linkOriginal author: Diana Stout
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A Valentine for You – With Love


Movies + Romance = The Key to My Heart I’m a romantic in so many ways, it would take another blog to explain all of my many connections to Venus, the moon, nature, and more. As a romantic, I adore … Continue reading →Original linkOriginal author: Diana Stout
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At the Teahouse Café: Essays from the Middle Kingdom by Isham Cook review

via At the Teahouse Café: Essays from the Middle Kingdom by Isham Cook review Original link
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Writing China in English: Recent novels


If there was ever a story with an extreme cultural divide to navigate, it’s A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers by Xiaolu Guo (Anchor, 2008). A young woman from rural China is plopped down in London for a year on a study visa with little English ability or understanding of Western culture. Soon an Englishman she meets in a cinema seduces her and she moves in with him. He’s not your typical British chap (if there is such a thing) but an unpindownable bisexual eccentric and failed sculptor with leftist anti-establishment leanings and a Luddite distaste for the trappings of modern society. He’s also twenty years older than her but handsome and fit enough that she falls for him — her...
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The adorable expat eccentric


A lazy, hidebound assumption has long held sway about people who work as English teachers abroad: it’s the only job the “losers” and “bottom feeders” can find, as they lack the qualifications to hack out a career back home. But it’s a hackneyed cliché, one that obscures the real class of losers. Think about it. To be able to go abroad, all by yourself, is an impressive feat. You need, for starters, to have a certain imaginative capacity, a conception that there are other countries in the world, and that it’s possible to visit them and even live in them. This is more than can be said for many Americans. On my occasional trips back home, I am thrust into a sharply different reality. There is a...
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Midnight in Peking and True Crime Fiction


Bird’s-eye view of Fox Tower (bottom) looking west along the Tartar City Wall toward Hata Gate (top) in this bronze relief map of 1949 Beijing (Beijing Planning Exhibition Hall; photo by Isham Cook). Paul French’s Midnight in Peking: How a Murder of a Young Englishwoman Haunted the Last Days of Old China (Penguin, 2011) has sold hundreds of thousands of copies since its publication almost a decade ago. Deftly written and combining all the desired elements one could hope for in a nonfiction thriller — a hitherto unsolved murder, wild sexual intrigue, a motley cast of eccentrics, all set in the exotic past of an Oriental city — it’s not surprising it took off into best-sellerdom. Anecdotally, ...
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