Editing my manuscript and preparing it for Smashwords (Ebook) followed by Lulu for the paperback edition.
Here’s a little taste of what awaits you in this journey through Korea in the 1990s:
Although I hadn’t noticed it before, as soon as we walked out of the hotel, we were greeted with the cold salt air night smelling of fish and simmering silkworm larvae—called bundaegi, a Korean delicacy. Down a narrow side street, chubby ruddy-faced ajumoni squatting over their wares on the sidewalk flashed us silver-capped toothy smiles as we passed. Further on down, we scurried past wooden carts lit with strung up jury-rigged incandescent bulbs swinging in the howling, swirling wind. Thanks to the movie Ghost, speakers everywhere resounded with the ubiquitous strains of “Unchained Melody” an octave above the market cacophony.
But it wasn’t the carts laden with pig intestines steaming in metal pans, sheets of seaweed, dried squid, and pirated cassette tapes that caught my eye; instead, a scribbled misspelled sign flapping in the wind above a vendor hawking his goods.
“Hey Ken, get a load of that,” I said, pointing to the sign.
Ken laughed. “Precious. I should have brought my camera.”
Instead of “Unchained Melody” the vendor had scribbled, “Unchanged Melody.”
In the mail today, my copy of Damaged Goods, a collection of short fiction or flash fiction.
It doesn’t make any difference whether it’s your first book or in my case, your third book, the wonderful feeling you have holding your book in your hands. This is your creation, something you worked hard on many days and nights, writing and revising and in the back of your mind, hoping that people will enjoy reading it one day.
I love the stories in this collection. Let me rephrase that, I’m proud of the stories in this collection.
Now, how would you like to hold a copy of this book in your hands?
Looking out my window this morning and here comes the rain again. Now meteorologists predict the rain is going to continue through Tuesday. In the meantime, Tropical Storm Maeri is on its way to the peninsula.
Today is also the 61st anniversary of the start of the Korean War.
My Korean War novel War Remains is about the opening months of the conflict, specifically the Pusan Perimeter, Kunu-ri, and Hoengsong.
From now until the end of the month, Lulu is offering a great deal on my novel War Remains and other books.
How great is the deal from the folks at Lulu? How does a 25% discount sound? Just enter the code, CYBERMAY when checking out.
And just in time for my birthday, I might also add.
When I was a young boy, I remember hearing my Grandpa Hahn tell the story about a story he had been told when he was a young boy in the late 1890s about how one of his relatives had shot himself in the foot to get out of serving in the 1861-1865 War Between the States.
Whether that story was true or not, it is what I used to start off my flash fiction story, “War Hero” — the story of a young man coming home from World War II after having been wounded in the Hurtgen Forest.
This story is one of 28 stories in Damaged Goods, now available through Lulu.
The back story for “Style before Gel” dates back to 1980 when I saw David and the Happenings for the first time at SIU (Southern Illinois University) and three times in Chicago, including one slam-dancing punk rock night at the Space Place, which was the inspiration for this story.
David and the Happenings was a popular band from Carbondale, whose lead singer was the brother of James Chance.
I got to know many of the band members quite well over the years including Scott Morrow, who passed away a few years ago.
I dedicated this story to Scott.
Damaged Goods is now available through Lulu and Amazon.
Cue the Johnny Mandel theme music/opening credits now…
The helicopter display in the back of the outdoor exhibition at the War Memorial Museum in Seoul might be the least visited of all the exhibits, but if you’re fascinated with helicopters like I am, you won’t be disappointed.
It’s amazing when you think about how this helicopter was used in the Korean War to bring the wounded from the front to MASH units.
Just think how many lives were saved.
Check out this cockpit. Talk about flying by the seat of your pants.
And now that I’ve gotten your attention, just wanted to remind you that all my books at Lulu, including my Korean War novel, War Remains are 20% off from now until May 16th. Just enter the code LUCKY when checking out.
Sometimes inspiration (with a little help from your Muse) for a story might be something sensory, in this case the lemony-sour taste of lemongrass.
And a photograph.
One of my favorite Lao/Thai foods is grilled fish seasoned with lemongrass and salt.
I was looking at the photo above (that I took in Savannakhet) as well as the one below (that I took on my first trip to Laos in July 2007) when inspiration (with a little nudging from my Muse) hit me.
What’s “Lemongrass” about?
Study the photos, then read the story in Damaged Goods. Now available through Lulu as well as Amazon (Kindle)
“How did you come up with the idea for your story or novel?” is a question that I am often asked when folks want to know what inspired me.
For my first novel, War Remains, the answer is a long one, which involves talking about writing for the Korea Times back in 2000, interviewing veterans and then, talking about how I wanted to do something special for the 60th anniversary of the conflict.
On the other hand, inspiration can be a snippet of a conversation, like the one I had with a female expat on the Number 9 bus in Hamamatsu, Japan one cold, rainy November day in 1989.
This woman, who boarded the bus after I did, sat down across from me, and in the short time that it took for us to reach the downtown bus terminus in front of Hamamatsu Railroad Station, had told me her expat life story since arriving to teach English one month earlier.
It hadn’t been easy for her, but she was optimistic. “As long as I have my Cokes and Smokes” I’ll be okay.
What she said was profound enough to stay with me all these years until I sat down last year and wrote this story.
Sometimes that’s all it takes to write a story.
I like this story a lot. I hope you will, too.
Damaged Goods, a collection of 28 flash fiction stories is now available through Smashwords.
This collection features flash fiction from 50 words to 1,000 words. The stories range from a soldier coming home from World War II and an Air Force pilot ejecting from his F-4C over Vietnam to the night John Lennon died and slam dancing at the Space Place in Chicago.
I wrote all of these stories while I was writing my first novel War Remains and in many ways, honed my writing skills with them. All but three were published in online literary magazines, and one of them, “Scent of a Woman,” was nominated for a Micro Fiction Award.