Announcing the Orange Karen: Tribute to a Warrior Book Trailer.
Take a peek, it’s amaaaaaaaazing!
Annnnnnd we’re back after a short break! Thanks to everyone who has purchased a copy of Orange Karen: Tribute to a Warrior so far. If you’re just hearing about this for the first time, then perhaps you’d like to read up on why we are doing this.
Let’s continue getting to know some of the Orange Karen anthology authors. Today, allow me to introduce Gareth S. Young. Take it away, Gareth!
Author Name: Gareth S. Young
Title of Short Story: The Orange-headed Serpent
In 25 words or less tell me what this story is about: A story marks the beginning of a friendship between a young writer and the rough and tumble girl he fancies.
How did you come up with the concept for the story? I wanted to tell a story about the power of imagination, friendship and humor. The Serpent idea came from my day job and also from my fascination with mythology, in particular the Ouroboros (the ancient symbol of a serpent eating its own tail).
What prompted you to submit your story to the Orange Karen Anthology? I follow Karen on Twitter and enjoy her sense of humor and the fact she has some Scottish blood flowing in her veins. When she fell ill, I was moved by her strength, courage and by the amazing swell of support she got from Twitter. When the project was announced I had to be a part of it.
Tell us one thing about yourself that we wouldn’t know about you from reading your bio: I can juggle. Not well and only with three balls but it still qualifies as juggling! I practiced every Christmas with Satsumas…yes, the small, orange fruit!
What is your favorite “orange” item (it could be a food, an object…sky’s the limit)? Why? Sky’s the limit, you say? Very well, I choose The SUN!
If you had to use your favorite “orange” item to save the world, what would you do with it? To save the world, clearly I would have to make sure that everyone got good vacation time and always had a reserved spot on a warm beach somewhere under the Sun.
Who inspires you? Why? I’m inspired daily by the hard-working writers I talk to on Twitter. A lot of them have full time day jobs, many have husbands, wives or flock of children demanding their time and yet, there they are #amwriting and supporting other writers with words of encouragement and sharing of information. I have been bowled over by the writer community.
Excerpt: Hear Gareth read an excerpt from his short story, “The Orange-Headed Serpent” on R.B. Wood’s The Word Count Podcast. He has a phenomenal voice. Many a lasses have swooned over his Scottish accent, myself included.
One warm evening, I sat down on the middle rail of a long, wooden fence on top of a steep embankment. The spacing between the three horizontal rails allowed me to sit on the middle one and leave my feet dangling. If I crossed my arms on the top rail, my chin rested comfortably as I looked down into the forest opposite me. This was my place to daydream.
Lost in thought, my reverie was broken when a pair of well-worn sneakers swung through the gap between the railings. Bonnie, grinning big, sat beside me.
“Whatcha doin’?” She nudged my shoulder with hers. Her eyes flashed with mischief.
“Nothing much.” I couldn’t look at her. I stared at my spiral-bound notepad, wishing the words would rush out and climb into my mouth and give me something more interesting to say. I blushed instead.
“What’s in the notebook?” She peered over my arm at the closed pad. Leaning closer, an escaped strand of her hair brushed my face. My hand rose as if to swat away a fly and she leaned away. “Sorry.” She patted the rogue strand down while the rest of her hair threatened to escape from its ponytail.
“Oh. Sorry. I… it’s okay.” I lifted the notebook and waved it. “Just ideas and stuff.”
She bounced on the railing until I turned to her. She stopped when I met her eyes.
“Cool!” She beamed a thousand watt smile and then laughed. There was always a fire in the coolness of her eyes. “So, what do you want to do now?” She flopped back like she was going to fall from the fence. Instead her hands grabbed the top railing and she let her head snap back. Her ponytail brushed the ground. “D’you want me to go away? Quit bugging you?” She gave me a daring look. I wanted to talk to her, without mumbling and blushing, so I took a deep breath.
“No. You can stay.” I waved the notebook again. “I write stories. I like to come out here and look at the trees and the river, and listen to the birds. It relaxes me.”
She pulled herself up and leaned her head against the top railing. She had full lips, and she bit the bottom one, making me think about kissing them. “Tell me a story,” she said. There was a brief sadness in her eyes. The smile dropped away and then flashed back. “Please?” she added, swinging back and forth.
It took me forever to start talking. I persuaded myself it would be the only way to keep her near me. I looked down the embankment and the story sprung into my head.
“Have you heard about the orange-headed serpent?” I asked.
Her face lit up. “No. Tell me!”
“It travels around the world, day and night, never stopping. It consumes and devours everything in its path. It swallows orchards filled with sweet apples and fields full of woolly sheep. It drinks freshwater lakes and feasts on fish from the sea. Its long metallic claws sound like a butcher sharpening his knives as it snatches cows from their pastures. Its deep throaty growl can be heard miles away as it comes for you.”
Bonnie closed her eyes. Her face relaxed and her eyebrows twitched. She seemed to be imagining the orange serpent.
I continued, “It won’t ever stop, but if you can catch it and open its belly, all its treasures will be yours.”
“Treasure,” Bonnie whispered.
“Yes. Who knows what it’s gobbled up on its travels?” I chuckled.
Without warning, there was the sound of metal on metal; the sound of two sharp blades clashing.
“Oh, my gosh!” Startled, Bonnie stared at me. “The serpent.”
Gareth Young was born and raised in Scotland. After that it all gets a bit a hazy. What is known is that he spends his waking hours writing and railroading with varying degrees of success. And, despite the fact he now lives in the St. Louis area, he can still rock a kilt. (Or so he likes to think.)
The time has come … are you ready?
You’ve been so patient waiting for an announcement for the release date of the Orange Karen Anthology.
And I bet you want a sneak peek of the cover. Right?
I’ll give you a moment to make sure you’re sitting down. *takes a drink of water*
(Find us on Goodreads)
What do you think? Isn’t is a gorgeous cover? Many thanks to our cover artist, Kip Ayers, who donated his time and talent to create this stunning cover. Want to get to know him? I thought so.
Please extend your comments and thanks to our cover artist, Kip Ayers!
Tell us a bit about how you started doing cover design. I started drawing and painting as a child, and always loved it, but it wasn’t until my 30’s that I made the move from being a massage therapist to a full time freelance illustrator. I used massage to pay my way through college and all the while I built my illustration skills. After school I dove right into to working from my home studio doing book covers, concept art, basically any work that came my way.
Tell us one thing about yourself that we wouldn’t know about you from reading your bio: I have been a vegetarian since I was 16, and the respect for all life is very important to me.
Hidden Talent: I love and am pretty good at playing Native American Flute. I have two that I keep on my desk in my studio, and I often take breaks from illustrating to play.
What was your inspiration for designing such a great cover? As with most of my cover designs, the inspiration comes from an intuitive connection with my clients. They share their vision with me, and I bring that to life.
What is your favorite “orange” item (it could be a food, an object…sky’s the limit)? Why? That would have to be an orange Vespa Scooter. I imagine myself and my fiancé cruising around the Italian countryside on a bright orange Vespa.
If you had to use your favorite “orange” item to save the world, what would you do with it? I’m guessing you’re referring to when I’m called in to save the world from the moped riding beasts from outer space bent on world domination, and the only hope is the superior performance of my orange Vespa with racing stripes.
Who inspires you? Why? Thich Naht Hanh, his words about peace, love, and being present in every moment inspire me.
I was born in upstate New York, and currently live just outside the Binghamton, NY area. I have lived in many different locals, from Boston to a remote part of the Adirondack Mountains, but something always brings me back to my home town. Sure the art scene here is a bit malnourished, and you may ask why would an artist choose to live in an area like that, but truly it is the natural beauty that keeps me here. I am closely connected to the land. It also helps that the cost of living is extremely low, so it’s a perfect place for an artist who’s starting out to help build an arts community.
As with most artists, I have always been interested in the arts. From my early days with crayons, to my current endeavors with a Wacom Cintiq, creating visually is what I am meant to do. After high school, I took a break from art, and became a massage therapist. I enjoyed the work, and spent 8 years in the profession, but something was missing. It wasn’t my first love, and I knew that I had to get back to my artistic roots. I used massage to pay my way through fine art school.
After college, with so many options, I was somewhat unsure of what direction to take. I greatly enjoyed working in oil and thought about working my way up through the gallery scene, that is until I stumbled upon the Wacom Cintiq. Lets just say it was a love story from the beginning and it wasn’t long before I replaced my brush, with a stylus.
Today, I work from my home studio as a freelance digital illustrator. My focus has primarily been in the fantasy publishing industry, but I have worked for the gaming industry and done design work for logos, and album covers. I cannot imagine myself doing anything else. I wake up every morning knowing that my job doesn’t feel like work. I am truly grateful.
It’s time to meet another one of our amazingly talented authors on “Team Orange”! Read on to meet Patty Blount. I approve of her world-saving ideas…do you?
Author Name: Patty Blount
Title of Short Story: Murder is a Job Best Left to Professionals
In 25 words or less tell me what this story is about: A former NASCAR champion deals with his professional jealousy over his much younger rival.
How did you come up with the concept for the story? When the request for “Orange” stories came out, I immediately thought of Home Depot. A few years ago, we’d tried to paint our kitchen a Tuscan orange color but what we got was the Home Depot trademark color. I knew I had to write a story set in or around Home Depot, which became “RenovateIT” in the story and the NASCAR sponsorship made that easy to do.
What prompted you to submit your story to the Orange Karen Anthology? The fabulous Jennifer Gracen is my RWA local chapter mate and through her, I learned all about Karen’s ordeal. Even though I’ve never met Karen IRL, I felt a connection to her through Jen and wanted to help make things a little easier for this amazing survivor.
Tell us one thing about yourself that we wouldn’t know about you from reading your bio: I suffer terribly from self-doubt. Every success I’ve achieved is because I didn’t listen to my inner nag.
What is your favorite “orange” item (it could be a food, an object…sky’s the limit)? Why? Have you ever heard of the chocolate orange? You whack it and then unwrap it and the chocolate is shaped like orange wedges. I am the world’s biggest chocolate addict. The chocolate orange is a big indulgence. I’ve had it maybe three times in my life, but it remains one of my favorites.
If you had to use your favorite “orange” item to save the world, what would you do with it? *laughs* Save the world, one piece of chocolate at a time? I know the effect chocolate has on me. Calming. Soothing. I wonder if we could achieve world peace if we gave everybody on earth a piece of chocolate at the same time?
Who inspires you? Why? Maybe I’m old and jaded but I don’t try to emulate celebrities and sports stars anymore. Instead, I look at real people for inspiration. People like the school teachers who stood in front of a madman’s gun to protect their students. People like the passengers on the fourth flight that never hit its intended target on September 11th, 2001. And people like Karen, who could curl up in a ball and cry about what happened to them, but instead, fight and keep fighting.
“Yo. Harlan Hot Shoe Anderson. I’m a ‘uge fan. ‘uge! The name’s Tony.” The man sticks his cigarette between his lips and holds his hands three feet apart to prove it.
I nod politely and he whips out a cell phone, slings his arm around my other shoulder, and clicks a photo without even askin’ first.
“Hey, yo, Bobby! Check it out, it’s freakin’ Hot Shoe himself. Don’t piss him off now, don’t want him throwin’ a helmet at ya!” the man called Tony shouts into the crowd.
“Come on, Tony, back off. Let the man breathe.” A smaller guy I’m guessin’ to be Bobby steps out of the crowd, slaps a hand on Tony’s chest, pushes him back a foot. I nod my thanks.
“Yo. We came here to see Beau Givens. Is he comin’ or what?” Another ornery voice shouts.
Before I can reply, Dwayne shifts and adjusts his NASCAR cap. “Well, ol’ Beau — he’s around here someplace. Here now, how ‘bout a nice T-shirt?” He reaches into the show car, pulls out a box. “Here, Harlan. Start tossin’ shirts to the crowd.”
“He’s here? Oh, shit!” The man callin’ himself Tony lights up like a swarm of lightnin’ bugs and turns to me. “You ain’t scared, are you, Hot Shoe? Heard you two mixed it up last week after the Nationwide race.”
“No, sir.” I shake my head. “Beau just needs to be reminded to act like he’s got some raisin’ up to be done still, and I reminded him is all.”
Big Tony blinks down at me like I’d spoken in tongues. That’s when Dwayne’s assistant come runnin’ out of the store, eyes buggin’ and pale as a ghost.
Dwayne takes her elbow, leads her away from the crowd. I follow. “What is it, sugar?”
“He’s dead, Dwayne,” she whispers in a shaky tone. “Oh, Lord, he’s dead. They found him in the restroom at the back of the store.”
About the Author
Patty spends her days writing facts and her nights writing contemporary romantic fiction. A coworker once said if Patty were a super-villain, she’d be called The Quibbler. Her costume would be covered in exclamation points. Fueled by a serious chocolate obsession, a love of bad science-fiction movies, and a weird attraction to exclamation points, Patty looks for ways to mix business with pleasure, mining her day job for ideas to use in her fiction.
‘Tis the season for love. For sharing love. For receiving love. For finding the love we all desperately need. Though it’s been said many times before, it still rings true: All you need is love. As the final days lead up to the Orange Karen Anthology short story submission deadline (December 15th), we hear from Tess Thompson who talks about the little things in life that help us find light through the darkness.
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Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart. ~ Anne Frank
It is everywhere. Bad news. This autumn two high school friends lost their children. Another friend had open-heart surgery at 46; another lost his battle to cancer at 44. Our recently retired pastor at my church is fighting a brain tumor.
My little daughter is struggling in school. My mother’s been ill for months. My marriage collapsed, after twelve years.
My friend, Karen DeLabar, almost died last June from toxic shock. But in what can only be described as a will made of fire and steel, she survived. But every day since has been a struggle of gigantic proportions: excruciating pain, fatigue, and the latest in a long list of miseries, detoxing from pain medications.
And huge medical bills.
Last week, I have a sleepless night after a particularly difficult day in this journey called divorce. In the morning, after I take the girls to school I come home and crawl into bed. I watch the rain falling in sheets outside the window, the gray clouds low in a despairing sky. I think of all the ways hearts have broken yesterday and last week and last month. There’s my own heart, shattered and aching, all my dreams washed away like the rain that runs out the gutter and onto the sidewalk. I question everything. I call out to God, why? I wonder how any of us survive in this world of uncertainty and pain and struggle. I marvel that we all continue to get out of bed each and every day and fight our battles. Because on this day, I cannot.
And in the dim light, I understand only this. Despite all the bad, love continues to show itself. For me, just then, in the middle of my hopelessness, it comes in the form of several phone calls and texts from friends. Are you okay? Why weren’t you at Zumba? I love you. You will get through this, I promise. Go get your mail.
So I do. With all that love like a force, I propel forward. I do something normally so simple but so daunting in this moment. I get the mail. And in my box is a package from one of my dearest friends – an early Christmas present – a necklace with these words: “The story of friendship is written on the pages of the heart.”
And it was enough to save me. Love, there, showing its face to me in the midst of my anguish.
All of us in Karen’s circle of friends were terrified when she was in a coma. Now, we worry and fret during her long recovery. We wonder how to help. And yet, we know we’re limited. We cannot take away her pain. We cannot pay her medical bills. We cannot take away her sleepless nights.
But hear this. We want to. Because we love her. And because we’re good people. When love and good people are in combination, it makes something called hope. I know this, too – most human beings, despite our flaws, are good. We are made to love one another, both in partnerships, and families and communities. It is the best of who we are.
Some of Karen’s friends organized this anthology as a way to help with her medical bills. Will it make a dent? Who knows? But ultimately it’s not what matters most.
What matters most is how love appears despite low-hanging clouds. It is all there is. It is the only thing to hold onto in illness and loss and uncertainty. It is all that can bring us from the dark into the light.
My friend made it through his open-heart surgery. He’s home recuperating as I write this. I’m grateful.
I write this on his Facebook wall:
I love you. That is all.
It is enough.
Tess Hardwick is a novelist, essayist and mother. She studied acting at the University of Southern California and enjoyed many years as an actress and director in Seattle before writing her first play, which won the first place prize in the Burien Theatre’s new works series in 2001. After several productions of “My Lady’s Hand”, one of which she directed, she decided her sensibilities were better suited to novels.
After several years and many rewrites, her first novel, Riversong, was picked up by Booktrope Publishing and released in April of 2011. In October of 2011 it became the number 1 Nook Book. In April and May 2012, Riversong was in the top 20 bestselling Kindle books, and number 1 in the Contemporary Romance and Romantic Suspense categories. Since then, readership of Riversong continues to grow and is known amongst her friends and family as “the little book that could”.
Like her main character in Riversong, Tess is from a small town in southern Oregon. She currently lives in a suburb of Seattle, Washington with her two young daughters and their wild but lovable dog, Patches.
In March of 2012 a book of reflections on life’s past, present and future called Write For the Fight was released through Booktrope Publishing. A collaboration of 13 writers, all proceeds for Write for the Fight go to breast cancer research. It was in the top 10 Inspirational category on Free Kindle books in June, 2012.
Tess just completed her second novel, an ambitious historical fiction set between 1918 and 1934 in Alabama and Georgia, inspired by a story from her great-grandmother. She is currently working on a new novel, also historical fiction set in England during the Great War.
Steven Luna is a Wizard of Words. He spellbinds syllables and turns letters into beautiful prose. This post is no exception, folks. Luna waves his writerly wand and crafts up a post that inspires us to cherish all the moments in our life because each and every one of them is precious.
Just a few more days left to submit your short story for consideration for the Orange Karen Anthology. Time is precious, folks. Use it well.
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The Miracle of Time
One of my all-time favorite ideas to head-scratch over is the notion that time only exists to keep everything from happening all at once. Albert Einstein said that…or a much smarter-sounding version of it, anyway. As thought-provoking concepts go, it’s a beauty: wise and elegant, and – if you think about it long enough – thoroughly sensible. There’s a reason they labeled that guy a genius.
And let’s be honest: it wasn’t for his wardrobe choices.
Although some of those sweaters were pretty damn sharp.
In one sentence, he captured the essence of time as a stepwise element of human awareness. My world view gives it a slightly different spin: time is a commodity unrivaled by anything in the universe. It’s the only currency of which you can never earn more, and you’ll never end up with a surplus of it by working harder to acquire it. In fact, the opposite is true: the harder you push forward in your pursuit of gaining time, the quicker you end up losing it.
Whoa. That’s kind of heavy.
This, too: You can measure the prosperity of a culture not just in its ready access to necessities and luxuries, but also in the ability of its people to exert control over how their time is spent. It’s become a twenty-first century norm to double-up on everything in an attempt to find more time somewhere. But it’ll never happen. You get the time you’re given, and it’s up to you to figure out the most fulfilling way to spend it while you still have enough of it to enjoy.
Maybe you can tell that this time thing is a pretty significant concept to me.
Undoubtedly, it is for you, too.
My belief is that each of us is a clock; our windings are finite, and we’re all ticking away our moments at the pace we set for ourselves. It fluctuates according to situation, of course; sometimes it rushes right by without us being aware of it doing so, and sometimes it drags along at an excruciatingly unhurried speed. No matter the rate at which it moves, it all comes with a defined limit that none of us is going to exceed. And because of this, possibly the greatest mystery of life is how much time do we truly have? Barring any extreme circumstances, almost everything else we come into the world with can be managed or controlled in some way. But we’re losing moments from the very first one, without a single hope of ever reclaiming any of them at all.
Sometimes, though, if we’re lucky enough, we end up with an opportunity to reset our own respective timepiece. Sometimes we get to wind the spring again and start anew, with a greater appreciation for the meaning of each moment as it arrives.
Sometimes, we actually do get a second chance. And with it, more time.
My friend Karen did.
She was in the golden hour of her life, her hands and her heart and her head filled with wonderstuff– a beautiful family, a slew of friends and a long list of creative undertakings to make use of her myriad talents. And then, with little discernible warning, something dire pulled the pin and stopped her clock.
For those of us who care about her, it stopped ours as well.
She hovered, and we hung, wondering how long and how severe her ordeal would be. There’s nothing like the prospect of a friend losing the remainder of her moments – and her husband and daughters losing the rest of theirs with her – to remind you of just how important your own moments are. Luckily and happily for us all, she pushed through it.
She’s a badass like that.
Whatever force exists within her, whatever power kept her fighting for her life when it was insistent on surrendering, it recognized that she wasn’t finished with her moments. She woke up with a whole new set of them. That’s not to say some of those moments aren’t difficult or without challenges. Of course they are. But I know for a fact she isn’t wasting or overlooking or wishing away a single one. She has done nothing less than restart her own timepiece through sheer force of will, zest for life and utter obstinance. It’s been incredible to watch her come back to the world with a renewed sense of How to Live Your Moments Well. She’s embracing it all with her clock once more fully wound, and her heart barreling full speed ahead.
We would all be wise to take a lesson from her: If you’re ever faced with the opportunity to defy a cosmic phenomenon as precious and unyielding as time, this would be the way to do it.
I don’t call her Miracle for nothing.
Steven Luna was relatively quiet when he was born, but that all changed once he learned to speak. Now? Good luck getting him to shut up. He’s not known for giving straight answers, but no one listens much to him anyway, so it all evens out. He’s hard at work on his next big novel…but really, aren’t we all?
It’s Friday night – date night to many of you out there. Joe Schmidt: ladies’ man, man’s man, man about the cereal box, talks about the power of an Italian restaurant. Before you start playing footsies under the table, remember the Orange Karen Anthology submission deadline is coming up on December 15th.
Scenes From An Italian Restaurant
My wife and I recently went to a certain chain Italian restaurant. While eating at said establishment I noticed something puzzling.
There was a shit-ton of teenage kids with dates.
Young boys and girls, some that looked barely old enough to drive—sitting down, dressed to impress, and cramming bread sticks into their mouths. Everywhere I looked there they were, engaging in light conversation—looking at themselves over sodas.
It wasn’t until I witnessed one teenage girl move her blond hair to the side that it struck me.
This chain restaurant, this Gawd damn restaurant—with its all you can eat soup and salad, and free wine samples—this restaurant had morphed into a powerful weapon for young guys everywhere.
It wasn’t a weapon in the traditional sense. Its purpose wasn’t to kill or maim.
It did however up the chance that these young guys, with their trendy outfits, and piece of shit vehicles, were going to get laid.
Did I miss the note that was obviously passed around—that told every horny teenage guy, that the simple equation to getting laid or a handy at the movies was to take your date to this Italian chain restaurant?
Being young and with a limited income, I would guess that options would be few.
And I suppose I could see how taking your dates to a place like this, might somehow manage to help slide your date’s panties off—but trying that shit as an adult?
That was what made me laugh when I looked over all the tables of young adults that were engaging in the ancient art of courtship. They were at that beautiful times in their lives were the most expensive and high class joint their boyfriends/girlfriends could bring them was a restaurant that employed cooks that were anything but Italian.
As an adult the game changes drastically, the idea that somehow after we paid the check that my wife would be willing to give me road head on the way home was a joke. Things were more sophisticated now; I had graduated to more exotic fare. The days of being able to rely on this place to help me in my quest to get some ass had long passed.
To teenagers this restaurant may be their golden ticket, but adults this place was just another blip on the screen of a long line of last minute places to eat.
Maybe I wasn’t being fair.
Maybe, just maybe there was something more innocent to all of this.
I mean after all, not every young kid is looking to use this restaurant as a tool to help themselves get laid right?
That’s when I watched as one young guy looked over to another young guy that was seated at an opposite table.
Their eyes met and almost on cue they both head bobbed quickly at the other—a slight smirk on their faces.
And I remember thinking as I reached for my beer.
That I really should have paid more attention to that note.
Sugarballs, my first book, should be arriving sometime in 2013 It’s a humorous look at cereal, boobs, dry-humping, and haunted apartments.