Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Cover Reveal: The Well Below the Valley by Katherine Lampe

Cover by Matt Davis
Image:  A well in a valley has a blue magical power bursting out.


Six months after the birth of her daughter, Caitlin Ross’s life is in a tailspin. Still suffering from what he endured at the hands of his former lover, her husband, Timber MacDuff, has drawn away. The gods have stopped speaking, except for vague hints in bad dreams. Unwilling to face reality, Caitlin goes about her daily routine as if nothing has changed while deep inside she longs for distraction.

When the county sheriff asks for help with a puzzling situation, Caitlin believes her prayers have been answered. A rancher has drowned in the middle of a desert, and the means appear supernatural. The case is right up Caitlin’s alley, but her interest pits her against Timber, who insists getting involved is too dangerous now that she’s a mother. Neither he nor Caitlin realizes a greater danger awaits. Strange events in Gordarosa have brought the area to the attention of a group known as Shade Tracers. Mundane mortals, they’ve taken it upon themselves to protect humanity from magic—with deadly force, if necessary. One holds Caitlin responsible for a personal tragedy, and will stop at nothing to see justice done..

Past and present converge in Caitlin’s darkest adventure yet. With her own life at stake, she must journey through time to uncover the truth behind the Shade Tracer’s obsession. Success could provide the key to solving the local mystery. Failure will doom her to a life on the run, forever hunted.

The Well Below the Valley will be released in print and electronic editions August 2, 2016.


Just then, some odd flickers from the BLM land adjacent our property caught my eyes. Shading them with my hand, I squinted into the distance. A flash. A beat, and then another. No regular rhythm. They seemed to originate from the low hill from which we often watched the moonrise.

Some kids dicking around with a mirror. BLM land was public property, and this section lay convenient to town. Bored local teens partied there. Timber and I combed the ground a couple of times a month, picking up the trash they left behind.

I bent to retrieve my basket. As I straightened, the light flashed again, this time with a distinctive quality hard to define. Less like a mirror. More like a flame. I’d just settled on the difference when something whizzed past my left ear, and a cluster of berries fell off the rowan tree at the center of the garden. A split second later, a sharp CRACK! rang through the air.

My jaw dropped. What the hell? I lifted my eyes from the rowan berries to the hilltop in time to see the light flash again. At the same time, panicked voice shouted not three feet behind me.

“Jesus Christ, Caitlin! Get DOWN!”

A heavy object struck my back, knocking me to the ground. My basket flew from my hand, spilling my harvest. I hit the earth with a shock that drove the wind from my lungs. AS I lay there, cheek in damp soil, the intense, green scent of bruised tomato vines clogged my nose. A foot from my head, a pepper plant exploded. CRACK! Understanding washed over me, and I began to shake.

Someone was shooting at me.

About the Series

Rural Gordarosa looks like any small mountain town, with stunning scenery and locals who enjoy gossip. Witch Caitlin Ross knows, however, that there’s more to her hometown than meets the mundane eye. The caretaker at the local theater isn’t human, for example. And her best friend’s uncle is a demon. Sometimes Otherworldly forces get out of control, and Caitlin has to step in to put things right.

About the Author

Musician, DJ, and unrepentant Iconoclast, Katherine Lampe studied at the University of Michigan with Ken Mikolowski, and at Naropa University with Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs. The daughter of an English teacher and a self-professed heretic masquerading as a Presbyterian minister, she is interested in the individual's relationship with the divine. Her work explores the interaction of the supernatural and the mundane in the lives of real people.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Me Before You Role Reversal (SPOILERS)

The disabled community is abuzz with talk of Hollywood's next tearjerker, Me Before You.  Many disabled people and our allies are pissed over many aspects of this film/book.  And they're not wrong, it is exceedingly problematic on various levels.

A short synopsis:  A wealthy quadriplegic man wants to commit suicide because he doesn't think his life is worth anything, anymore.  A cute, able-bodied woman in need of some money is hired for six months to be the man's caretaker (and is on secret suicide watch).  When the woman finds out the man wants to kill himself, she endeavors to make his life worth living and tries to change his mind.  They fall in love, but he still kills himself and leaves her money so she never has to be without anything again.

The general public is raving about this story.  They say it's heartfelt, touching.  He, they tout, made her life so much better, and so much more meaningful.
"But there really are disabled people who want to kill themselves and feel useless," fans will say to defend this garbage.  They're right.  But...

What if the roles were reversed?  What if our young, lithe heroine was the one who didn't want to live anymore?  What if our disabled hero had to show her everything life had to offer within six months, or she would kill herself?  What if after courtship, conversations, friendship, she decided to kill herself anyway?  What if she were the one to set him up for life to pursue any dream he possessed?  He, the character the story constantly says (in one way or another) shouldn't enjoy life or want to live a long time.

I bet the majority of the defenders of this book/film would be screaming their heads off.  "Why didn't she get help?  Why didn't her family step in? Why didn't love save her or make her want to live?"
It wouldn't make sense for them, you see.  A young, able-bodied person's life is so full of promise and hope.  It becomes a tragedy for it to end.  A disabled person is a burden, a half life.  A light in the process of already being extinguished.

The vast majority of the audience for this would rather be dead than disabled like the hero, at least that's what they think.  And why wouldn't they think that?  If all Hollywood and the publishing industry is going to show us is burden, loss, sadness in the realm of disability, it is only going to reinforce the negative connotations of disability fermenting in most people's minds.

And don't get me started on the fact that the couple doesn't have sex!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

SSI and Writing Contests by Jennifer Ruth Jackson

Image:  A hundred dollar bill in pieces, face up.

Entering a writing contest can be a boost to any writer's career.  It can gain a writer more readers, gravitas, and even some cash (depending on the contest).  But money becomes a tricky thing on Supplemental Security Income.

I know there are concrete answers out there, but I'm often told different things when it comes to SSI benefits.  Some people say you don't have to report, say, the fifty dollars your uncle gave you for your birthday as income, and some do.  If you were to win one of the huge writing contests with a thousand bucks as a prize, it is illegal to not claim that as income.  But what about the small prizes?  Is it ever legal to not claim money you get, no matter how little an amount?

And receiving a fair-sized award (probably more than the aforementioned thousand but go with me on this) would throw your benefits out of whack for a month or two.  What happens then?  Do they take away your medical insurance for that month?  What if they are too slow with reinstating your regular payment?

I've been researching these things as far as I can remember and haven't come up with definitive answers.  Maybe some of you can help me with all this.
All I really know is winning is rare and should be something to celebrate, not cause more anxiety.

So, readers, can you give me insights into all this?

**Just a note:  I understand many disabled and/neurodivergent people have jobs, or are on a different kind of benefit program, etc.  I'm not saying everyone is on Supplemental Security Income.**