Authors You Should Check Out – Jamie D. Greening

It’s not often that you find an author (or any kind of public figure) who openly refers to himself by comparisons to a vegetable. But Jamie “Green bean” Greening does. With a name like Greening, though, the comparisons almost make themselves.

I met Jamie Greening and Joe Courtemanche at the Athanatos Festival in 2018, where all three of us were speaking. Afterward, Jamie, Joe C, and I rode together back to the airport and, along the way, struck up both a friendship and plans for future writing projects. Joe C started this Covid Quarantine Cantina thing and Jamie and I were two of the first three.

Not that this makes us special, mind you.

Along the way, it’s been great getting to know Jamie and to call him a friend. Hopefully you like him as much as I do. Check out Jamie Greening.

How was your experience writing stories for the Covid Quarantine Cantina?

It was fun. At the beginning we were just thinking about providing people with something to read while they were on lockdown, but then it turned into a part of our normal rhythms, producing one story each week, which is not easy to do. At the time, my work as a pastor increased exponentially and that made the schedule for new stories challenging, but it was good for me. 

Which of your stories here is your favorite?

That’s not a fair question, a little like asking which is your favorite child. Each one reflects a different side of me and my writing. It is tempting to say the Butch Gregory version, since torturing poor Pastor Butch is one of my passions. But, honestly, The Vid Kids was probably my favorite just because I really hammed it up. But Let’s Do It is in that same category of just taking a completely silly and overblown part of the COVID-19 experience and blowing it up to its logical conclusion. 

Favorites from other authors?

All of the Fondue writers are so very talented, and their stories are wonderful. Kathy Kexel’s story about Janelle getting tangled up in Chinese spies somewhere in Wisconsin was a hoot. It is the Secrets trilogy. Who can ever forget Derek Elkin’s weinermobile in Them Ole Pandemic Blues Apocalypse. Paul Bennett evoked many emotions in his As It Is In Heaven. Robert Cely is the master of myth, and his epic retelling of the origins of the deadly COVID-19 virus in The Farmer, The Demon, and the Canyon of the Four Winds has stayed with me. I really liked Joseph Courtemanche’s Nema What, so much fun. Joe Shaw really impressed me with his four part story titled Two More. 

But again, picking out favorites is almost impossible. They are all great. 

How has the COVID pandemic affected your life?

People I know and love have died. Many have been very sick. I buried a lot of people in December and January from COVID. 

It has had a terrible impact upon church life, and I don’t mean the rhythms and practices of meeting regularly. I mean on the people. People have changed. I think the emotional, psychological, and spiritual impact upon folks will take a decade or more to heal, if ever. The levels of distrust, paranoia, and downright meanness is hard to fathom, especially among people who claim to follow the Lord. 

Current Projects?

I am editing my monster book, a further fleshing out of a series of short stories I wrote years ago about The Deep Cove Monster. I am also writing a reflection piece incorporation creative writing and poetry into the Gospel of John. 

Where can readers reach you?

The easiest place is jamiegreening.com. That is where I blog, and there is also a link to my Amazon page that has the books and stories I’ve written.

Authors You Should Check Out: Paul Bennett

You know how, with some folks, you just can’t seem to get their names right? Such is the case with Paul Bennett. I kept wanting to call him Steve. Or John. And then, once I got the first name right, I kept wanting to call him Paul Anderson. And EVEN THEN, I kept misspelling his last name. Benet? Bennet? Benett? Benette?

I’m sorry, Paul. I really am.

At any rate, Paul was one of the last writers to join our band of merry misfits. But his impact was huge. Check out Paul Bennett (or Benet. Or Bennet. Or whatever).

How was the experience of writing your stories for The Covid Quarantine Cantina?

It was a great experience writing for the COVID Quarantine Cantina. Several of my partners had a great idea for our group of writers to band together to provide some much-needed entertainment and distraction during a very trying time. Not only did it encourage us to dust off our writing skills and produce some quality stories, but it also allowed us to interact and build friendships with others living across the country. In addition, it was beneficial to our writing productivity by providing us with deadlines to meet. No one likes deadlines, but they do have a way of making sure the work gets done.

Of all the stories you wrote, which was your favorite?

I found writing a Halloween-themed story to be the most challenging, but that challenge also produced my favorite story. It turned out that after The Visitation was published on my blog, I was overwhelmed by the number of people who contacted me to tell me how much they could identify regarding the haunting they experience from their past sins, but also their thankfulness for God’s forgiveness.

How has the Covid Pandemic affected your life?

As a physician, COVID-19 has brought many challenges, but I have to be honest when I say that, during this time, God has given me a peace like never before. More than ever, I am convinced that I will not leave this world one second before He intended and that while I am here I am to go out into a fearful world to humbly, but courageously share His love.

What are you working on right now and in the near future? What can we look forward to?

Right now, my writing projects include writing the sequel to my novel, A Fall of Sparrows, as well as continuing to publish short stories on my blog. I will also soon release a previously unpublished novel of mine, Amalric, which is a historical fiction novel set  in Germania in the year 16 AD.  My plan is to release this novel, one chapter at a time, onto my blog. 

See more of Paul’s work, as well as each of the Fondue Writers, in our now-almost-a-year-in-publication book, The Covid Quarantine Cantina:

Authors You Should Check Out: Kathy Kexel

When Joe Courtemanche came up with the idea to write a story a week with just me, him, and Jamie Greening, we planned to write for two or three weeks and call it quits. That’s how long this pandemic thing was going to last, after all. Right?

Those were simpler times.

When it seemed like things might last longer, we decided to add a few friends. Kathy Kexel was the first of those friends. I remember telling her, at one point, she reminded me of my mom. So here is, from my perspective at least, the mother of the Fondue Writers Club (And Bar & Grille and Laundromat).

How was your experience writing your stories for the Covid Quarantine Cantina?

I was an interloper, in a sense. I saw Joseph Courtemanche’s plan for writing COVID related flash fiction. I asked if he was interested in a story from me and sent him a sample. He accepted. 

I expected to write just one piece and was a bit overwhelmed by the challenge of one story a week. I couldn’t begin to imagine multiple, very different stories on the same topic, but the challenge provided sufficient motivation. 

Of all the stories you wrote, which was your favorite?

That’s a hard one. I rather like Side Effects, but then I think it would be cool to be an elf maiden. 

What is your favorite story from each of the other authors?

Joseph Courtemanche: Lavinia Did It. (I was never a Downton Abbey fan until the last two seasons)


Rob Cely: In Memoriam. The simple reminder that gathering together with other believers is a necessity, no matter what the risk.


Derek Elkins: Them Ole Pandemic Apocalypse Blues. That story is just plain fun. Besides, the Weinermobile has its origins in Wisconsin. 


Jamie Greening: Academia. Having worked in academia at bot state and private universities, I can only testify to the truth of it.


Paul Bennett: Song in October. It’s hard to choose just one of Paul’s because they all are suffused with hope and light.


Joe Shaw: Special Deliveries. Proof that Shaw does have a heart. (Shaw sez: All lies and false propaganda!)

What are you working on now?
Janelle is about to meet motorcycle repairman who is also a lapsed preacher going by the moniker of Biker Rev. Then there’s that group of medical students on a medical mission trip in a fictional “Stan” country that get trapped when Islamic fundamentalists overrun the capital city and the only airport. Besides that, I have sporadic entries on my blog. And now that my sewing machine is out of the shop, I have a quilt for my grand-nephew to finish and a curriculum for children’s church to write.

Where can readers reach you if they want to read more of your stuff?

Woolgatherings on Facebook 

KathyKexel.WordPress.com

See more of Kathy’s work, as well as each of the Fondue Writers, in our now-almost-a-year-in-publication book, The Covid Quarantine Cantina:

Authors You Should Check Out: Derek Alan Elkins

We’re coming up on a year since we published our collection of Quarantine-Themed short fiction: The Covid Quarantine Cantina. And I thought it would be a good idea to take a moment with each of the authors from that book so we can see what they’ve been up to since last we spoke.

Today’s author hails from Kansas City, I believe, and has what looks like an MS Paint-themed icon for his Facebook Profile. It’s Derek Alan Elkins.

How was your experience writing your stories for the Covid Quarantine Cantina?

I’m not much of a self-motivator, so I enjoyed the forced motivation that the writing provided.  I love the act of creating new stories, but I get distracted easily with movies and video games.  Plus, I really enjoyed the camaraderie with the other authors. 

Of all the stories you wrote, which was your favorite?

I’m a big fan of fantasy in all its forms: horror, science fiction, sword and sorcery, etc.  I love stories that cram a ton of creativity into the story.  The story of mine which I think was most creative was “The Farmer, The Demon, and the Canyon of the Four Winds.” 

If you can…can you name your favorite story from each of the other authors?

Joseph Courtemanche – “God’s Rules”  Got to love a twisted and depraved mind.  Courtemanche leaves it all out on display in this story.

Jamie Greening – “Academia” It was tough picking one of Jamie’s stories, because I am fond of science fiction.  But this one comes with enough twists and turns to shove it into first place.

Joe Shaw – “The New Family on Beecher Street” I love a good analogy and this story is one big, beautiful analogy.

Kathy Kexel – “Secrets, part one through three”  Janelle…that’s all I need to say.

Rob Cely – “The Unessential” Rob’s got a big heart for the outcasts and this story puts his big heart on full display.

Paul Bennett – “An Acre of Peace, parts one and two” It’s a simple story with layers underneath.  Paul is awesome at those bean dip kind of stories.

How has the Covid Pandemic affected your life?

I’m an introvert, so I have seriously enjoyed working from home.  I could get used to this kind of life.

What are you working on right now and in the near future?

I’ve got the iron in a few fires these days.  Up front and close to the chest, I am working on a stage play about a girl that falls in love with a superhero, only to find out that the superhero was all in her mind.  The story revolves around reality and if our beliefs mirror reality or if they reveal something else.  I’m also working on several movie scripts, the most prominent is called “A Steamworx War”.  The movie is set in a steampunk world and concerns a Steampunk version of Charles Dickens investigating the kidnapping of scientists by a mastermind to start a war.  I’m also about 60 pages into a novel I’m writing called “Shadow Apprentice”, a follow up to “An Introduction to Shadow”.  The sequel is set in a world where people called Awakened fight monsters, called Fallen, hiding within the bodies of normal people.  I’m also starting a podcast this weekend called “Creative Diarrhea” with my son and a friend. Each week, we’ll be brainstorming something slightly weird like craft projects involving a dead hamster and how many weasels would it take to kill a T-Rex?  Should be mildly diverting. 

Where can readers reach you if they want to read more of your stuff?

I have a website, where I occasionally blog and stuff:  derekaelkins.com, also, I have books and short stories on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

See more of Derek’s work, as well as each of the Fondue Writers, in our now-almost-a-year-in-publication book, The Covid Quarantine Cantina:

Bring Two Of Every Kind

The Cincinnati Reds got rained out in the eighth inning last night, although you probably could have surprised the umpiring crew with that statement. Seemed like they just wanted to keep the party going. A quick glance at some Youtube videos showed the Gods tossing everything but the kitchen sink on the field in an effort to get the umps to pull their heads out of their echo chambers. I even saw some fancy silverware flying.

This ain’t football, umps. This ain’t Rugby. This is baseball. We don’t deal with mild spring rains here. No Sir. They offend our delicate sensibilities.

In reality, though, would you want to stand in against a professional major league chuck-flinger, who is capable of throwing projectiles in your direction at 100+mph when said chuck-flinger says the rain is so bad he can’t hold onto the ball?

Not me, bubba.

I’d rather be at the bottom of a mud pit dogpile scrum in a mid-November NFL game where the most exciting thing is the torrential sleet and downpour. At least there, you can make hand signals at the 350lb lineman currently crushing your chest cavity while your helmet fills with water. Death is no surprise in that scenario. And who knows? Maybe that guy will move and let you roll the dice again on the next play? Happens all the time.

A pitcher loses control of his fastball in the rain and your liable to wake up in the hospital three days later doing your best Dan Crenshaw impersonation. A permanent one. Then, all you’d have left is a career in piracy or politics (but I repeat myself), and what kind of fun is that?

The game resumes this evening, and let’s hope the Gods have found other things with which to distract themselves.

Dehumanization

Dehumanize

A popular Christian writer and speaker recently posted the following to his Twitter and Facebook pages.

I shared an opinion that, when we start referring to people who think differently from us as a kind of disease, we’re taking a dangerous and dehumanizing step.

It’s Conservative (not liberal) Christians who  don’t get vaccinated, even though plenty of non-Conservatives have decided against vaccination. They’re not making a personal choice (I thought “my body, my choice” was a popular slogan on the left?). They’re irrationally REFUSING to do what EVERYONE (who thinks like him) has already shown is a righteous and just act!

In fact, their behavior in the past fueled surges! They are the reason you haven’t seen your grand kids in a year! It’s their fault you can’t go out to eat! They’re actively spreading fear and misinformation! This is a wholly new and dangerous pandemic!

He doesn’t outright state that Conservative Christians are, themselves, a disease. But it’s heavily implied, and how far a leap is it from labeling a group of people you disagree with as active spreaders of fear and misinformation to saying things like “we need to put a stop to these insects … by any means necessary.”

He accuses people of dangerous rhetoric with no proof, but engages in dehumanizing rhetoric without a second thought.

History is full of powerful people using propagandist tactics like this to justify doing horrific things to people they hate. Rather than engaging in discussion and seeking to understand, they align the OTHERS with increasingly dangerous ideologies and shriek. Eventually, someone attacks. Someone always attacks. It’s a playbook as old as time itself.  

The conversation on his Facebook page did not go well. He accused me of not caring about the COVID pandemic, of ignoring conspiracy theories, of being an anti-vaxxer and anti-science moron. None of it’s true, but that doesn’t matter. The people who engage in dehumanizing language aren’t interested in dialogue. Point, Shriek, Attack. That’s all they know.

His fans were the same. Loads of baseless accusations. Name calling. Personal attacks. No substance. I’m not human to them. I’m a disease. And if you think differently, you’re a disease, too.

To be fair, this kind of activity exists across all ideologies, all along the political and spiritual spectrum. This is not just a liberal thing or a conservative thing, a christian thing or an atheist thing. This is a human thing. It’s everyone, all of us.

My comments were eventually deleted. Shortly thereafter, there was a comment from The Man himself, stating that all anti-vaxxer comments were being deleted because those people are dangerous and need to be stopped.

Which proves my point.

And I suppose it matters very little that I read this comment shortly after checking for openings to get a vaccine at any of the local centers (I was unable to find anything. Florida does a good job, but we have a lot of people here). These people are quick to judge, and quick to find fault. They write their labels in ink and they very rarely reconsider.

I think discussing vaccinations and real reasons why some people chose to do and some people choose not to. But we can’t get there if people like Matthew Paul Turner have their heads shoved so far up their own echo chambers, they can’t conceive that people who think differently than them aren’t bugs that need eradicating or diseases that must be stopped.

We’re headed down a dangerous path if that’s who we become.

Elevator Conversations: Weight Loss

Guy #1: So what do we do for lunch?

Guy #2: Chipotle?

Guy #3: Five Guys?

Guy #1: Actually, I was thinking of getting a salad.

Guys 1&2: A what?

Guy #1: … A sa…A salad.

(laughter)

Guy #1: I’ve gained a lot of weight lately. I need to dial it back some.

Guy #2: I’m sorry. I’m sorry. You’re right. I mean, you DO look like you’ve swallowed a sheep.

Guy #3: Right. It’s like you took the reverse Captain America Serum.

Guy #2: We should probably see if we can get a crane shipped to your house so you can move around from room to room.

Guy #3: But one of those REINFORCED cranes they use for lifting huge boulders on top of buildings.

Guy #2: Why would anybody want a boulder on top of a building?

Guy #3: This guy would. He’d probably try to eat it.

(laughter)

Guy #1: Fine. We’ll go to Chipotle.

Guys 2&3: Alright!

Santa Claus is Here – A Free Christmas Story by Santa Claus (aka Joe Courtemanche)

Merry Christmas, everyone!

We’ve made it to the end of another Holiday Explode-A-Ganza with the Fondue Writers Club AND Bar & Grille AND Laudromat. What better way to polish off this one than to end with a story from Santa Claus himself, Joseph Courtemanche.

Here’s a wonderful story about communities and the Spirit of Christmas. It’s called “Santa Claus is Here

While you’re at it, why not check out our new book of short stories. It’s called THE COVID QUARANTINE CANTINA, and it’s available in Paperback, Kindle, or Audiobook. Check out more of Santa Joe’s work at his website: https://commotioninthepews.com/. He’s got some books for sale at his Amazon Author Page as well as on Audible.

Thanks for checking out our stories. We have some Halloween and Thanksgiving stories as well, if you’re interested. It’s been a wild ride this year. We hope you had fun. We know we did. Have a Merry Christmas everyone. Have fun, Stay healthy, and please don’t break anything.

Christmas Fair – A Free Christmas Story from Kathy Kexel

If Kathy Kexel were a baseball player, she’d be Ted Williams. She’d be Hank Aaron. She’d be Joey Votto. Every time she steps to the plate (literarily speaking), something exciting happens.

Kathy’s got a new story up today. It’s call “Christmas Fair,” and there are a lot of German words in there. Which is fine by me, because I grew up in a town with a lot of German roots. All drinking and food and dancing and music. No Fascism.

Check out Kathy’s story, and see if you can’t find the same kind of Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz I felt when I read it.

While you’re at it, why not check out our new book of short stories. It’s called THE COVID QUARANTINE CANTINA, and it’s available in Paperback, Kindle, or Audiobook. Check out more of Kathy’s work at his website: https://kathykexel.wordpress.com. She’s got some books for sale at his Amazon Author Page as well.

Thanks for checking out our stories. We have some Halloween and Thanksgiving stories as well, if you’re interested. Santa Claus his ownself will close us out tomorrow with the last Christmas Story. See you then. As always … Have fun, Stay healthy, and please don’t break anything.