Review: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

Whiskey Tango FoxtrotWhiskey Tango Foxtrot by David Shafer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A dense, disturbing techno thriller, full of incisive social commentary, satyrical humor, and humanity. There is no ending in the traditional wrapping up of loose ends and concluding the narrative kind of way. If this is the kind of thing that bothers you, you should probably give this book a pass. Personally, I think the way it doesn’t actually end is a large part of the point, and it worked rather well for me. There are three main characters with interwoven plot threads, and Shafer goes back and forth among them throughout the book. They are richly drawn and entirely believable. The plot had a couple of holes, I thought, but the dynamics were so well wrought that I hardly noticed. It was only in thinking about what had happened well after I’d read it, something I did a lot, that slight gaps became evident. So it’s not perfect, but it’s damn close. The best thing for me was the lush prose, rich as a red velvet cake, so satisfying that I couldn’t keep reading late into the night even though I wanted to. I needed time to digest before I could continue. On balance, I loved this book. It’s the best thing I’ve read this year and I highly recommend it.

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Channeling Discipline

sacher-cake-1194524_1280Writing Is Not an Easy Occupation for the Self-indulgent

The writing life takes a tremendous amount of self-discipline. This is not a natural thing for me. On balance, I am an undisciplined and self-indulgent person. This is one of the reasons it took me half a century to begin writing in earnest.

martini and shakerI’m better at some things than others. For instance, while I almost never have more than one martini of an evening, I also never go without a martini so long as there are gin, vermouth, and olives in the house. While I don’t consider myself to be a big fan of cake or pie, if there is cake or pie in the house, I am going to eat it until it’s gone. The same is true of candy, nuts, and especially candy with nuts. You may already see the pattern emerging here.

My problem is with stuff that’s in the house. If it’s not in the house, I’m not so attached to it that I will ever go out of the house to get it. I’m too lazy for that. So, if you’ve been paying attention, I can achieve something that looks like discipline by managing my weaknesses so that laziness trumps my attraction to strong drink and chocolate.

Now if I can just figure out a way to utilize that in my daily word count, I will be golden.

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Launch Day!

Book cover image for A Cup of Pending

CLICK COVER IMAGE FOR AMAZON SALES PAGE

A Cup of Pending goes live today on Amazon. Those of you who pre-ordered have already received your download of the Kindle edition.

The paperback version is also up and available, although it is not as yet appearing on the same sales page as the Kindle edition. I’m working to fix this little snag, but you can easily find it with a search on either the title or on Jonah Gibson.

If you enjoy the read, please consider going back to Amazon and leaving a review. Indie authors like me depend on word of mouth, ratings, and reviews to be discovered. Thanks.

The Examined Life

Marilyn Monroe statue

Iconic Serendipity or Perfectly Staged Temptation?

It’s Good to be Catholic If You Don’t Try Too Hard

The unexamined life may not be worth living, as Socrates suggested, but it sure is easier than second guessing your every motivation. Maybe it’s not exactly what Socrates had in mind, but for the dutiful Catholic a regular examination of conscience is part of the defining regimen. It’s something we do before we go to confession. This means a thorough scrutiny of the things we have done that we shouldn’t have and the things we didn’t do that we should have, as well as the reasons we did or didn’t do them. As you can imagine there is enormous potential for inner conflict in this process. Continue reading

Coffee and Donuts with the Faithful – an excerpt

This is an excerpt from A Cup of Pending, which I released last year. I am posting it here in response to a prompt from my friends over at Studio30Plus. The prompt was profundity and/or wisdom. In my whole book, I only used the word wisdom once, and this is it. Enjoy. Oh, and click the Studio30Plus link and check it out. It’s a wonderful site, full of wonderful writers. You’re sure to see something you like.

dontu, doughnut, pastry,

This is a much better looking donut than you usually find in church halls after Sunday services. I find it irresistible, don’t you?

The Wisdom of Job?

The pastor sauntered over to the group. He was beaming and resplendent and looking, Cliff decided, for some attention of which to become the center. His gaze fell upon Cliff, just then having another nibble of doughnut, and his expression froze in place, not a millimeter different from the look of saintly warmth he had carried across the room, but whatever life had animated it before had dissipated like so much smoke.

“I see we have a guest,” he said.

He thrust a brave hand at Cliff who dusted crumbs off his fingers with a napkin and took it. “Welcome, friend. Folks call me Doctor Paul. I’m the pastor here. And you are?” Continue reading

Pratfalls in the Divine Comedy

Oil painting, Court Jester, Keying Up

KEYING UP – a court jester fortifies his wit with a little brandy – Oil painting by William Merritt Chase – 1875

Regrets – I Had None

When I was a young man, I told my mother that I had no regrets—that everything I had done or failed to do to that point only added to the sum total of me, which sum, in my opinion, seemed to be tallying up just fine. It turns out though, 40 some years later, that I had already accumulated many regrets by then. I just didn’t know it yet.

Now that I’m washed up on the shores of an uncertain dotage, ill-provisioned and with dim prospects, all those early and unseen regrets are coming due like markers to a loan-shark.

Now, I understand perfectly all the places where I went wrong. I know where I didn’t apply myself as I ought, when I skated or took the path of least resistance or effort, where I caved to idle self-indulgence, and where I wasted monumental effort on things that were bound never to pay dividends. I knew what I was doing when I did it, and I understood there would be consequences. Continue reading

A New Review

After giving away nearly 300 copies of Speedster for free last week, I got my first unsolicited review today from someone I don’t know. 4 Stars! Here’s what he said.

This is an almost perfect thriller with good descriptions of situations and believable characters, add a dash of humour and excitement for a great read. I enjoyed it.

That works for me. Sure, 5 stars is better than 4, and perfect is better than almost, but I already know I’m not Jame Joyce or even Stephen King, so I’m pretty happy with this. I see it as an auspicious beginning . . . even though it’s really in the middle somewhere. This looks like a plan coming together.

Another Hot Mess

Stuff Like This Happens when You Write

(This entry was part of a writers’ prompt exercise at Studio 30 Plus. Take yourself a merry little jaunt over there to see some fine writing. Maybe you’ll want to join up.)

pretty blond with nose ring“What are you doing here?” I asked.

It was a fair question. Necessary even, under the circumstances, as she had appeared unbidden and unannounced and dressed in such a way as seemed calculated to land me in hot water. I’m not talking about a short skirt or low-cut blouse either. She was full-on exotic dancer provocative in thigh-high leather boots and a thong—too much make-up, too little fabric, and jewelry in places that would have been uncomfortable had she made even the slightest attempt at modesty by covering them up. Continue reading