Saturday, November 26, 2022

GO EAST, YOUNG MAN, Book 2 in the Dreamfarer series, available by Pre-order

GO EAST, YOUNG MAN - BOOK 2 OF THE DREAMFARER SERIES AVAILABLE BY PRE-ORDER on AMAZONhttps://amzn.to/3Xbehvq  - Book 1, dreamfarer available at https://amzn.to/2ZsFws1

#sciencefiction #adventure - Go East, Young Man, the sequel to Dreamfarer, takes place 150 years in the future after World War III. Sam Adams travels with his friends from San Francisco all the way to Denver, having dangerous encounters on the way. Sam, who played a vital role in shutting down the San Francisco Dream Services Center and waking up half a million dreamers, hopes to meet a mysterious contact in Denver who will recruit him for his next mission.

The goal of the nationwide Resistance is to cripple the Dream factories completely and wake up all Americans, saving them from their psychic dependence on machine-induced dreams, which are far more exciting and fulfilling than the often dull existence of ordinary life.
They journey across an America that has regressed to being a lawless frontier. Wherever they stop, thieves and murderers attack them. Will they ever survive to reach their destination? Can Sam even trust his friends? Does he have any chance at all of succeeding in his mission? Amazon: https://amzn.to/3Xbehvq ~


TEASER from Chapter 1

 

Now, Sam thought, he must continue on to help those in Denver to disrupt dream services in that city or anywhere else, must save other sleepers from the deadly addiction of dreams which denied life itself. He had committed himself to a worldwide revolution, a movement that those in power would do anything to crush.  


Something moved in the distance. He rubbed his eyes. The light was still dim and he had probably imagined it. No, there it was again, far back down the road he had come. It looked like…a man. And he was walking directly toward him.


Sam staggered up, instantly alert. He had no gun or other weapon, and was in no condition to defend himself. Glancing about, he saw only thin stands of trees on both sides of the road. They offered few places to hide.


He squinted, trying to see better, to make out if the man was big or small. Whoever he was, he was probably harmless. Yes, the odds favored it. But the only times he had ever been a good gambler were in the Center’s dreams, when he had been a Western gunslinger or a secret agent. With his luck, the person had deliberately stalked him all the way from the Center to kill him for what he had done. It could be vengeance, plain and simple.


But vengeance made no sense and was completely implausible. How could anyone have tracked him all this way in the dark? And with all the panic and confusion, how could they have picked up his trail in the first place? Yet he had no doubt it was so and cursed himself for not moving into the trees immediately. He started to do so but at that moment the ripening sunlight touched the figure more clearly, revealing something familiar.


No, it couldn’t be. But Sam stood watching as the man grew closer and closer and finally halted a few steps away. Sam stared in amazement.


You!” he barely managed to say.



Sunday, October 9, 2022

INTERVIEW WITH RAMONA PORTELLI

John B. Rosenman was an English professor at Norfolk State University where he designed and taught a course in how to write Science fiction and Fantasy. He is a former Chairman of the Board of the Horror Writers Association and the editor of Horror Magazine and The Rhetorician. He has published 250 stories in places such as Weird Tales, Whitley Strieber’s Aliens, Fangoria, Galaxy, Endless Apocalypse, The Age of Wonders, and the Hot Blood erotic horror series. 

Altogether, John has published over two dozen books, including SF action-adventure novels such as Beyond Those Distant Stars, Speaker of the Shakk, A Senseless Act of Beauty, Alien Dreams, and the Inspector of the Cross series (Crossroad Press). He also published a four-book box set, The Amazing Worlds of John B. Rosenman (MuseItUp Press). In addition, he has published two mainstream novels, The Best Laugh Last (McPherson & Company) and the Young Adult The Merry-Go-Round Man (Crossroad Press). Recently, he completed two science-fiction novels, Dreamfarer and Go East, Young Man that are the start of a new Dreamfarer series. Two of John’s early literary influences are Ray Bradbury and Richard Matheson. 

Two major themes are the endless, mind-stretching wonders of the universe and the limitless possibilities of transformation—sexual, cosmic, and otherwise. 

Q. Tell me more about your latest book.

A. Dreamfarer is a novel of the future when 70 percent of humanity are serviced by dream machines after exercising their “option” at the age of thirty-two. These CIUs (Cerebral Interface Units) provide adventurous and romantic fantasies that are far more exciting and fulfilling than ordinary life in a post-nuclear-war America, now ravaged and divided into seven autonomous districts. The year is 2170, ninety years after World War III, and America, Russia, China, and the Caliphate are struggling for supremacy. Nuclear war on Earth is now banned, but the superpowers have exported their hostilities and suspicions to Mars and other planets, where they compete to control the solar system. 

What happens to a “Dreamfarer” when he wakes after seven years in a dream machine to find that he has become a Waker, one of the three percent of humanity who are immune to further dream stimulation and must face a dull and tedious existence? This is the case with Sam Adams, whose salvation lies in joining a movement to subvert and destroy the very technology that has robbed humanity of their identity and purpose. In the process, he becomes romantically involved with two radically different women, Trina and Diana, and through unexpected acts of heroism, finds he has become a national hero as well as a double agent like Seth Lance, a hero in one of his dream series. 

Q. What was the most challenging aspect of writing this book? 

A. Man, this book was difficult! Twenty or twenty-five years ago, a word popped into my head. It was “dreamfarer”, a made-up word. We have seafarers and wayfarers, so why not dreamfarers? And what is a dreamfarer? It’s someone who travels in dreams, perhaps to marvellous realms. In short, this one word was a mighty seed. It generated a whole novel in which people chose to be placed in dream machines that biochemically created the dreams of their choice. 

But it was hard to write the novel. My writers’ group wisely found fault with the style and execution, and I was eventually forced to set it aside for two decades. I picked it up two or three years ago and tried again. My writers’ group had dissolved in the meantime, but now I had an excellent beta reader to assist me. Sometimes, writers tackle a project too early and have to step back and wait until they’ve matured, and the idea has ripened in their mind. This, I think, was the case with me. 

Q.  What is your normal procedure to get your books published? 

A. Usually, I have certain publishers in mind as I write the book and conduct market research along the way. I used to submit my science fiction and fantasy novels and my young adult novel to the top or elite publishers, those who paid the most and had the best reputation and circulation. Those markets are damned hard to crack, though, and eventually I focused on those I had used before. Thus, once I had published the first novel in my Inspector of the Cross series with Crossroad Press, it seemed to make sense to publish the next five there as well. Since some of my books are stand-alone short stories or novelettes, I submitted to publishers or magazines that seemed to fit, paid the most, and had the widest circulation. If my work was rejected, I worked my way down. Sometimes I balanced the criteria off against each other. For example, would I rather be paid 5 cents a word by a publisher with a circulation of 500 or 2 cents a word by a publisher with a circulation of 10,000? In eight cases, I formatted and published short stories myself through Kindle Direct Publishing. 

The Books, Stories, etc. I Have Written 


Q.  Do you view writing as a kind of spiritual practice? 

A. Yes, I do. You’re trying to write the best you can, trying to achieve perfection, and that’s about as spiritual an endeavour as I can imagine. The goal is divine and impossible to achieve, and the process tests your faith with every word you write and cross out. Sometimes you almost feel that you’re nailing yourself to a cross, especially when you expose yourself to others’ brutal criticism or force yourself to be honest and throw out fifty pages you used to love. But when it’s going well, when the words pour out of you like holy oil, there’s nothing better in life or the whole universe. 

Q. How many books have you written so far? 

A. I count nearly thirty on my Amazon Author Page. Five separate short stories are between publishers and another, a novel, is out of print. Over 200 of my short stories have been published in magazines and book collections. Here is a list:

1. Dreamfarer (Book 1) 

2. Go East, Young Man (Book 2) – Due to be published in 2023 

3-5. Starfighter Chronicles (first three novels of my Inspector of the Cross series): Inspector of the Cross, Kingdom of the Jax, Defender of the Flame 

6. Conqueror of the Stars (Book 4) 

7. Skyburst (Book 5) 

8. Crash (Book 6) 

9. Childhood’s Day 

10. Dark Wizard 

11. The Merry-Go-Round Man 

12. Dax Rigby, War Correspondent 

13. Speaker of the Shakk 

14. Beyond Those Distant Stars 

15. The Lazarus Trick 

16. Dark Desires 

17. Only God and Demons 

18. Music Man 

19. Daniel, My Son 

20. Killers 

21. Here Be Dragons 

22. A Mingling of Souls 

23. Alien Dreams 

24. A Senseless Act of Beauty 

25. Bagonoun’s Wonderful Songbird 

26. The Voice of Many Waters 

27. The Best Laugh Last 

28. A Breath of Fresh Air (currently submitting for publication) 

29. Green in our Souls 

Q. What’s the best way to market your books? 

A. Here are three ways: 1. Conduct careful research with the best market guides, both traditional and online. 2. Be sure to read books in your genres that were published by publishers you intend to submit to. 3. Attend writers’ conferences and make pitches to the most appropriate agents and publishers. 

Q,  How hard or easy is it to establish and maintain a career in writing? 

A.  Very hard. Honestly, the odds are against you. If you define “career” in economic terms, then only a very small percentage of fiction writers make enough to support themselves by writing alone. Most fiction writers make below $30,000 a year. My advice: get a decent job and try to remain steadily employed to support your habit until or if you become monetarily successful. And if you don’t or can’t achieve financial success, learn to feel rewarded and fulfilled by creative success instead. Note: nonfiction or in-house writers of grants, reports, business proposals and the like will generally make substantially more. 

Q. What is your advice for aspiring writers? 

A. I’ll give them the same advice I often give myself. Write, write, write; revise, revise, revise. And lest I forget, Read, Read, Read. In fact, reading comes first. In my freshman English class in college, my professor told me that if I wanted to write, I needed to read as much as possible. I took him at his word, and I’ve tried to follow his advice. If you’re a writer who wants to be published, you also need to research the markets and aim for the best and most appropriate ones first, even if they are most likely to reject you. And keep sending your book, poem, or story out until you either realize it won’t sell or until you receive criticism that convinces you to revise it. And when you have revised it, send it out again. And again and again. Join a writers’ group of like-minded souls, weigh their comments, and revise accordingly. I belonged to a writers’ group for twenty years, and their advice—some good, some terrible—helped me to sell several novels and dozens of stories. Above all, don’t quit or become too discouraged. Put a story away for a week or month if necessary but resolve to return to it. Sooner or later, it will be worth it. 

Visit Author John B. Rosenman book links: 

Dreamfarer – Amazon: https://lnkd.in/dHN5MCT and Barnes & Noble: https://bit.ly/3Eiv49a 

Inspector of the Cross, Book 1 in the Inspector of the Cross series: https://amzn.to/3saMkno and Barnes & Noble: https://bit.ly/3r4MziO 

Kingdom of the Jax (Book 2): https://amzn.to/3cmmVAE 

Defender of the Flame (Book 3): https://amzn.to/3eAWhXz 

Conqueror of the Stars (Book 4): https://amzn.to/3pJNeFG 

Skyburst (Book 5): https://amzn.to/2NRv8Eo 


Starfighter Chronicles, Books 1-3, Inspector of the Cross series: https://amzn.to/2IphgP9 

A Senseless Act of Beauty: https://amzn.to/3btwBsW 

Speaker of the Shakk: https://amzn.to/3aKyClc 

Beyond Those Distant Stars: https://amzn.to/2NPR1UG 

The Merry-Go-Round Man: https://amzn.to/2MespEG 

Daniel, My Son: http://amzn.to/1Ix0CAj 

A Mingling of Souls: https://amzn.to/3SRVL8v 

Here Be Dragons: http://amzn.to/1H6SPwl 



Only God and Demons: http://amzn.to/1IK8PW8 

Childhood’s Day: http://amzn.to/1RjrAQJ                                                                                    Gypsy Shadow Publishing: http://www.gypsyshadow.com/JohnRos.html#Childhood                        Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/11323                                                 Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/1MWGk8W 

The Lazarus Trick: https://amzn.to/3fEbbz4 

*

Visit his website at http://www.johnrosenman.com









Instagram: John Rosenman (@johnrosenman) • Instagram photos and videos

Monday, December 20, 2021

A Holiday Gift-Giving List from Dark Owl Publishing

GIVE A BOOK AS A GIFT FOR CHRISTMAS!

FROM THE DESK OF ANDREA THOMAS, PUBLISHER OF DARK OWL PUBLISHING:

John Rosenman John B. Rosenman Vonnie Winslow Crist @vonniewinslowcrist @gbondoni
These are just a few of the authors we've worked with and will be truly happy to continue working with in the future! They feature in our two anthologies, A CELEBRATION OF STORYTELLING and SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY RIDES. We hope you'll consider their books for your Christmas giving AND receiving list! Just do a search for them on Amazon and/or Barnes & Noble, or visit their websites, listed below!


Monday, August 2, 2021

Steven Beai - Speculative Fiction Writer

 I've known Steven Beai for nearly thirty years. He's a close friend and a fellow writer. Steve says he's done many things thus far in his life. In fact, "I've reinvented myself more than once, after divorces, financial losses and other life-altering events. But always, I have been a writer." Among Steve's many, many accomplishments is that he's built high-end resin monster models, accumulated a collection of over 20,000 comics and monster magazines, and been a touring drummer in professional punk and new wave bands. He calls himself "a hopeless romantic." And I'm not one bit surprised!

An Interview with Steven Beai


John: Steve, thank you so much for being my guest. It's an honor to have you. My first question is the deep and profound one we've all been wondering about: Just how the hell do you pronounce your name? 


Steven:
  “STEE-VEN”  (laughs) Oh, my LAST name!  As you can imagine, John, I get asked that endlessly.  I used to say “It’s pronounced “FRON-KEN-STEEN”. It’s actually pronounced BAY-EYE. The peculiar mix of three vowels and a single consonant to form this last name, I have been told, was a hastily-concocted name-change in order for my great-grandparents to escape Nazi Germany. The original name was Beja. Since they had no grasp of English phonetics, they just dropped a letter, added another and got the hell out of their once-beloved homeland.

John: Wow. Could you tell us a little about your background and what is distinctive and different about your writing?

Steven: I’m an only child, born in the early sixties. My childhood was idyllic; I have no complaints thanks to my parents, Frank and Paulette. They provided me a typical suburban middle-class life and were generally supportive of my lofty creative goals early on.

I grew up with G.I. Joes, Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine and Universal monster movies. I can’t recall ever being lonely. I was content to create my own worlds with those G.I. Joe figures when I wasn’t engaged in solitary exploration of my environment, studying Midwest creeks, catching crawdads, taunting wasp nests, etc.  Mostly, I was a reader. I read every Hardy Boys book I could find, along with Stevenson’s TREASURE ISLAND, Conan-Doyle’s SHERLOCK HOLMES – similar classics like DRACULA and THE STRANGE CASE OF DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE, THE JUNGLE BOOK and THE TIME MACHINE to name a few.




I was around thirteen years old when I discovered writers whose influence would stick with me to this day.  Ray Bradbury was the first.  DANDELION WINE mirrored much of my own childhood growing up in small Midwestern towns. I was fourteen when I read DEATHBIRD STORIES by Harlan Ellison and devoured every other piece of writing by the man I could find. I was fortunate enough to form a casual friendship with Ellison years later when my phone rang out of the blue – he was calling to compliment me on a short story I had written for Talebones digest, “Slipstream Season”. “You better have gotten paid for that work!” I remember him saying gruffly! How he got my number, I have no idea. From then on, we spoke and corresponded until shortly before he passed away in 2018.


Beyond Bradbury and Ellison, the only other writer I count among proper “influences” is the incredible Donald Barthelme. Look him up. Read any one of his vast catalogue of short-stories and you’ll be hooked. 

As for my own writing, what makes it “distinctive” or “different” is probably the fact that I don’t “repeat”; that is to say, a reader never knows what they’re going to get from one story or novel or non-fiction piece to the next. I’m sure this has hobbled me as far as even a semi-lucrative career goes, but I write what I want to read, understanding that I, like everyone else, simply want to be entertained by a piece of fiction. Throughout the years, fellow writers have pointed to certain stories with surprise that I was the author. The best example I can give is “Falling”, appearing in the anthology DREAMING OF ANGELS. It’s a somber and quite gentle ghost story which brought many readers to tears at the conclusion. Prior to this story, much of my work was either profane, graphically violent, or both.

I hope that answers your two-part question, even though I left out my 15 years as a Federal Law Enforcement Officer. I prefer to write in a fictitious sense about strange and terrible things, about the almost incomprehensible technicolor violence one human can visit upon a fellow human, rather than relive experiences I had where no imagination was required.



John: Steve, where can we find your current work and any current projects in-progress?


Steven: My friend,  there are NO links to my work other than Amazon, where the Spiffington comics can be found for sale.  WIDOW'S WALK is long out-of-print, the numerous anthologies, I couldn't say.  


You know, my biggest "claim-to-fame", such as it may be, is being known as the writer who fervently admonishes new writers NEVER to give anything away for free.  "Contributor's copies" is NOT a form of payment. A vague promise of "future royalties" is NOT a form of payment. A publisher's job is to publish. Whether they choose POD or a manageable inventory of printed books, is NOT the writer's problem and should not affect the income of said writer. Yes, technology is wonderful, but it's not a license to cheat the creator of a product.  I have yet to hear a solid argument as to why a "publisher" can't pay an advance of a paltry 100 bucks to a novelist, or 5 bucks for a short story. I can pay a bill with either amount.  All I can do with "contributor's copies" is fill my office garbage can. And if enough writers stand fast and hold firm to the FACT that their work has value, imagine all the pseudo-editors and publishers, not to mention the beta-readers, who will quickly become Walmart greeters.


Evanston Publishing, the house that produced CENSORING THE CENSORS, folded a few years back. I took advantage of buying up their inventory of those books, hoping to keep them out of the hands of opportunistic sellers who would price-gouge with third-party sales. (At one point, I saw a copy of CtC signed by both you and me offered for the asking price of $1200....remember that convention in Atlanta where we first met in person?  That's one of those copies!)  I have a limited number of all four issues of "Spiffington, P.I." and a larger number of CENSORING THE CENSORS in my possession that I'm selling for well under the inflated prices, plus, personally signed.  So the only link beyond Amazon I have is the e-mail beai@att.net for anyone interested.



John:  Steve, what made you write 'American Dreams' and what did you hope to achieve in it?


Steven:  Well, although I've been training at self-quarantine for the last ten years, you're never ready for the main event until it's actually upon you! (laughs)  What inspired me to write "American Dreams" was in response to the countless number of times over 13 months I either heard or read of a single person or politician speak about "my country" or "the American People" as if there is only one opinion, one dream and one collective (to use a Star Trek Borg reference).  You know -- some outlier politician shrieks into a microphone that amplifies throughout the nation and claims to be a victim of, of all things "censorship".  "The American People won't stand for this!"  First of all, you're not being 'censored' -- you're all over the internet and national news channels -- not exactly what any sane person could think of as being "silenced".  Secondly, I AM one of the 'American People'.  Therefore, I must hazard a guess that the politician in question is simply an opportunistic liar.  When it came to fellow citizens bloviating about "my" America -- again, over free and unrestricted airwaves and broadcasts, all I could think was that these folks maybe just wanted to be left alone, which is an easy thing to achieve for anyone. Think about it.  Want to be left alone?  Easy. Talk to no one, keep your head down when go out to get groceries, don't have a phone, don't have friends or family.  Mission accomplished.  But don't tell ME that "my" America is somehow "lost". And please stop the nonsensical blathering about "censorship", "free speech" and the First Amendment without taking the time to understand -- to TRULY KNOW - what those three very different terms mean. 


So I wrote the essay in the hope of pointing out that there is not and never was, a single American Dream.  People in other countries own houses and property, have satisfying and financially-rewarding work, good healthcare, raise families and achieve satisfaction in mind, body and soul.  No different than what we in America can achieve. But a single, shared "dream" based on demographic?  Never been any such thing. I don't think I've accomplished enough to benefit this country to say I'm "proud" to be an American; rather, I say I'm "fortunate" to be an American.  The differing ways in which we live out our lives, our ability to express dissent and disagreement in a cordial and intelligent manner...this is what defines America. Thus, the essay was born.  


John: Before we get to your great essay, I want to thank you for being such an amazing guest. I especially appreciate your giving us an extensive insight into your life and creative process.

Steven:  Thank you for having me, John. It was an honor. Influences are many, but I've considered you my sole mentor for these many decades.



AMERICAN DREAMS

by Steven Beai

Many a hand has scaled the grand old face of the plateau

Some belong to strangers and some to folks you know

 - “Plateau”, Curt Kirkwood

     There are as many American Dreams as there are people in America. So, referring to THE American Dream seems somewhat lazy to me, leaving me to wonder what exactly is that sole dream shared by over 350 million Americans. And the laziest among us will answer using redundant words such as freedom and liberty, which mean exactly the same thing. Moreover, states of being such as “freedom” and “liberty” are subjective; that is, they are influenced by personal tastes, influences or opinions. For instance: Let’s say my version of “freedom” includes keeping loaded firearms in every room of my house within easy reach. Our children are friends. Your child comes to spend the night at my house. At some point your child’s brains are blown against the wall of my rec room due to an accidental misadventure involving one of my guns. I am sad and traumatized but, you know...freedom. I will attend your child’s funeral with the proper thoughts and prayers, neither of which are of any substance. It’s a fair bet you won’t be thinking about freedom, but wondering about a country that promotes a free-for-all.

    My freedom has become your oppressive loss. Hey! Don’t Tread on Me while I’m treading on the rights of everyone else.

      See what I mean? 

    Here, I would like to offer my personal “American Dreams”. These hopes and desires apply to me and my situation alone. They have not changed a great deal from my younger days to the present.

      At this point, I must confess that this is an interactive piece of writing. 

      YOU must participate to ensure a proper conclusion.

   Therefore, everyone reading these words will be compelled...or “invited” if one prefers, to proffer their own American Dreams, to confess by written comment, as I’m doing, to define what this strange and overused phrase means to them.

      Okay?  Okay.

      Here are my American Dreams:

      1.  The opportunity to do meaningful creative work free from Governmental restriction, work which sustains my spirit and with any luck, my body.

          2.  A clean and safe place in which to live.

                3.  A fair chance to own such a place.

\             4. The opportunity to love and be loved by whomever I choose, providing they will have me in the same manner.

5. Enjoying an equal amount of leisure, in quality if not quantity.

6. Growing older with dignity after a lifetime of work.

7. Wisdom to know my country well enough to teach my children the basics of life so that they may go on to do better than I, rather than be struck down before their prime by bullies, whether such bullies be in the job arena, in Law Enforcement or in the public square.

8. To die in mid-sentence, surrounded by a Feast of Friends, as did F. Scott Fitzgerald. Barring this, to die either in my sleep, or with much less drama than I lived most of my miraculous and improbable life.

There you have it.  No dreams of power. No dreams of wealth or fame. No proclamations based on politics or religions seeking to control the actions of strangers...or anyone else, for that matter. I will add one final thought: My American Dreams have all come true, with the exceptions of numbers six, seven and eight, which are pending, but looking good.

Now it’s YOUR turn.

Your American Dreams are just a comment away.

I look forward to reading them all in the Comments section below.

                                                   END


Monday, July 12, 2021

PIECES OF MY MIND by Steven Beai


(Please welcome my friend and guest, Steven Beai.)

  STEVEN BEAI has been writing and publishing short stories, novels, comic book scripts and articles for over 30 years.  Recently, during lengthy renovations to his home in Colorado, not able to focus on larger projects, he wrote a series of personal essays, journaling his way through the disruption late at night. In so doing, Steven found he was experiencing a level of introspection and perspective both euphoric and terrifying. Here is one of his favorites to start off, and John will post others in the future. Steve can be reached at beai@att.net.

PANDEMIC AS PANACEA
by Steven Beai


     On the evening of February 11, 2020, my father died after a
mercifully short decline. Two days later, I turned 57 years old.

    Two weeks later, whispers of a new virus were about to change the trajectory of all life on Earth. By mid-March, we humans were self-isolating, wearing masks whenever we ventured out to buy toilet paper that usually wasn’t there. Meanwhile, the rest of Earth seemed to be taking a deep breath and sighing with a sort of long-overdue relief. Carbon emissions decreased at a dramatic level, as did general air pollution. Wildlife ventured calmly over once-bustling streets and into suddenly quiet neighborhoods, as we stared out from our windows behind locked doors. Gas prices returned to reasonable levels, crimes of all stripes, from rape and robbery to murder, plummeted. On-line retailers enjoyed their boomiest-boom in history. For the United States Postal Service, along with UPS, FedEx, DHL and other private delivery services, every day was like a Christmas Rush.

     The following applies only to my situation. I would never deign to diminish the death of over 600,000 US citizens, because surely this number will grow before this virus is once and finally done. Nor would I ignore the damage done to countless restaurant and retail workers, the actors and musicians, the owners and managers of those related venues and so many more people adversely affected in ways both temporary and final, with a special nod to the superhuman efforts of the educational and medical personnel who, more than any other group, kept this country running. Indeed, these people, like my friend Derek, a nurse who worked 15-hour shifts without a day off for almost eight months, are responsible for getting us through the nightmare of an ongoing pandemic from a deadly respiratory virus. In this essay though I’m speaking only for myself and only for a single aspect of this situation.

      I’m speaking about self-quarantine.


   In the early days of March, 2020, it was obvious to anyone cleaving to facts that yes, this was a serious situation. Yes, you could die from this virus and die easily. Taking the advice to self-quarantine and use a mask on rare forays into public while waiting for a vaccine was a no-brainer to me.

     Truth to tell, it was like a Gift.

     I’m a writer. I work from home. I’m an only child. I had just lost my father, a man whom I was very close to all of my life. I was still processing his death and my loss. My wife was recently retired, so, like me, had no place in particular to go on a daily basis.

  Prior to the rise of the virus and resulting guidelines, I was constantly on the go, going places that were necessary but of great inconvenience to what I truly value: time to write, time to reflect, time to spend lazy days with my family. I was managing personal appearances to promote the latest published work or speaking engagements at bookstores or groups on subjects ranging from writing to politics, and then honoring those appearances. All that was over now with a great excuse.

     Self-quarantine. It was like winning a psychic lottery.


    Not only could I sleep in, I could sit with my wife in the afternoons engaging in hours-long discussions about any and everything. Or about nothing. We talked about our past, our future, what we wanted for supper. We talked about movies we had seen and wanted to watch. We talked about my Dad. We watched the desert in silence as we held hands. We fell asleep in each other’s arms, stretched out on the living room couch as the last rays of twilight sun cast shadows over the walls before nightfall. We woke easy and enjoyed long breakfasts.

    Michelle discovered magical objects to hone her already-advanced photography skills, objects within arm’s reach never before noticed.

     I mused and wrote thoughts and words I had never had the time to imagine before. I cried freely, with no need to hide my torrent of tears, for there was no one to hide from.

     I had many difficult and troubling moments as well. Many times, I considered drinking again...”just a few”... after not drinking for over 23 years. Several times I considered lying down in the middle of the day and, like several mornings, I considered never getting up again, forcing myself to keep eyes closed to discover what my father had already figured out in his own journey. I considered what it would be like to leave in an unexpected flash of suicide and then considered it from the point of Michelle and my children and there was a sudden epiphany of the sort I have never experienced. I basked in that epiphany until my self-pity disappeared and the self we call Steven Beai emerged wiser, never wanting to experience that particular all-encompassing empathy ever – not ever, ever – again. There is already too much pain in our world. I saw and learned that clearly. Pain doesn’t need any of my selfish help.

     My personal quarantine, a mix of dreams and nightmares, was the best experiences of my life to date. I loved every minute of it. Even now that I’m fully vaccinated.

     Pandemic is defined as a disease prevalent over a whole country or the world.

     Panacea is defined as a cure-all for every difficulty and disease.

     Some will go untouched by pandemics.

   And there is no such thing as a cure-all, a “panacea” for everything under our sun and stars.

  People will continue to cleave to political, religious and social tribes. People will continue to think what they are told, rather than simply think. After all, this is much easier and virtually pain-free. In the context of this pandemic, there will be those who refuse to hear the truth of self-quarantine, the benefits thereof, and the life-saving fact of vaccines. Many will die in the days to come, stubbornly honoring that refusal more than life itself. Many more will mourn their lost loved-ones with regret, forever wondering why.

   Perhaps all we can hope for is to keep moving forward to a more advanced and intelligent perspective, a willingness to embrace our personal self-awareness and confidence while denying the voices around us who ridicule such things and tempt us to deny our own instincts in favor of their deceptions. After all, those voices feed on deception and rely on our own self-deceptions and biases. They are forever busy and need constant feeding. I’ve heard their haunting whispers for my entire life.

   They have no defense against the daylight, much less a calm twilight and peaceful nightfall. They are more frightened and weak than we imagine compared to the courage we possess to see ourselves as we are.

     Thanks to the pandemic, the self-quarantine, et. al., I finally know where these voices have lived since time immemorial.

     They live in the dark nights of our souls.

END

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