Say Something: The Red Book or Operation Iraqi Freedom is My Fault.

Over the course of the next few weeks, I am going to be posting the extremely kind blurbs and reviews I've received from so many friends and writers about my collection of essays that will be released on Labor Day, but before I get to that, there is something I need to say about the state of my country: a country for which I enlisted in the military and served with people of every color and faith, a country that myself and all those people I served with volunteered to defend so that the people who live here can live the lives they choose to.

The Red Book is the result of a lot of hard work by many people, of many colors and faiths. I wrote the essays, but I had a lot of help over the years from people who motivated me to keep on writing them even when I thought the essays were pointless. No one cares about this was a thought that I battled back again and again as the essays grew longer and the book became more and more complicated. But I got it done and now it's set to come out from Little Presque Books, and so it goes.

As I typed this post (and still now after it is finished) I wondered how it would be received because it is, in part, advertising. That's what you do when you write a book and you believe in it and you want people to read it and share it with other people: you advertise. So I am. But I do not just want to advertise my book here. I want to advertise something else too; so if the book ever does well, then it will be clear where I stand, and if no one other than friends and relatives ever reads the book, then it will be clear to them where I stand, and that is just as important. The absurd idea that you should avoid the topic of politics has to stop because if we never discuss politics or have our beliefs and ideas challenged, how can we grow?

For twenty years I was afraid to tell my friends and family that I was molested; I was silent because I was "being a man" and the pain of that event cut at me for a long, long time. After years of drinking and being negative and depressed, I was lucky enough to find people who believed in me enough that I felt compelled to tell them the truth about my past, and I was also lucky enough that they still loved me after I told them (perhaps that seems obvious to anyone who's never felt ashamed for something they had no control over, but I was legitimately afraid that if the truth about that event came out, my life would be ruined). Not everyone is that lucky; the world is not fair, and I know that. I've known that a long time. But despite the disparity of wealth and love and everything else in the world, we can do things to make the world better for people other than ourselves (which actually makes it better for ourselves as well because we are all on this planet together.)

I have met and known racists all over the world; they're all the same. They're all angry, and they focus their anger on people who "look" different than they do despite not being any different at all. We are all people, and we're all made up of the same stuff. "White supremacy" is a lie because "white" is not real. White supremacists have been lied to, and they believe the lie because they're angry about something. There is no single reason for the anger. People generally have reasons for feeling the way that they do, and sometimes those reasons are misguided. I was picked on many times as a kid in school because I am white, but the people who teased me or fought me were not representatives of their respective "races" (Again: races are not real. Humans with different skin tones; that is all we are. If you believe otherwise, you are setting yourself up for failure.) Because I had people around me to remind me that jerks come in all colors, I was able to know that good people come in all colors too; it's really that simple. We don't need to complicate it any more than that.

The thing that I hope some angry kids (regardless of skin tone) out there in the world might come across before they harden their hearts and decide to live their life angrily while trying to build an ugly and hateful world is this:

What happens when you get rid of the people you blame for all your problems and your problems remain? The hate won't stop with one group of people. First it's just about being white, but who becomes the problem next? Brown haired people? Brown eyed people? People with freckles? Left-handed people? People over six feet tall? People who don't score well enough on a test that favors people who read a specific version of the Bible only made available to people in the midwest? etc. 

I am writing this post because I have a book coming out that is in large part about my silence and anger and frustration over the years. But the book is also about ignorance and how it is literally destroying our country. I was silent about things that happened to me when I was too young to even know they were wrong, and I will not be silent about this now because people are always able to make a choice. If we give people access to the information they need to make a wise choice, then there is hope for them to make that choice. There are people who we will never reach, but those are not the people I am concerned about. I care about the people we might reach by saying something or writing something or doing something. Apathy and disinterest got me a front row seat during the invasion of Iraq (from Saudi Arabia. I was a communications guy.), and I am not going to let apathy and disinterest be the model that I show my children or my friends because I want to create a positive impact on the greatest number of people that I can during the time I have on this planet. 

For anyone else who is looking for a way to act similarly, here's what I propose: be an example of good. Don't make someone feel like they are a bad person because they are ignorant. Ignorance can be cured! And the way to cure it is by giving people the information they need to know in order to make an informed choice. If people have the information and they choose to disregard it, you cannot help that. But if you have the information and you choose to withhold it because you don't want to offend a family member or someone you care about, then you're hurting yourself too. When your aunt or uncle or whomever makes a racist joke and your kid is in the room and you say nothing, you are failing. Walking out of the room and leaving without a word is saying something, as Donald Trump showed us this week. 

I know some people can't escape racism. Some people depend on racists, are married to them or are their children. I'm not telling people to walk out of their homes if it means becoming destitute. But I am telling you that if you live in a racist household, then you can find a way to push back against the hate even if you have to do so discretely. One way to work against racism is to stop calling skin tone race because that is not what it is. "Interracial marriage" is an absurd term. It's marriage between two humans. "interracial families" are just families. It's called "the human race" because all humans are a part of it; so let's start talking that way.

Writing this is pretty easy for me to do. I'm just typing while staring at a computer screen. I'm not confronting a family member (directly), and I've been lucky enough in my life that I'm often surrounded by people whom I agree with. I live in a place where there were no protesters at the vigil I attended last night with my family in order to remember the ugliness that happened in Charlottesville, Virginia. I know that I am lucky, 

Everyone is capable of fighting this battle, but you have to figure out how you can fight it best. Mayor Pete Buttigieg mentioned in his speech at the vigil that we need to beat this with love, and that's the truth. We do need to beat this with love because you cannot beat it with more hate. Know your strengths and use them to push as much of this ugliness back into the holes where it hides as we can. One thing that these recent events have proven to me is that racism and hate will never go away completely. We will always have to fight them. We will always have to be vigilant. White supremacy or supremacy of any kind is terrorism, and we have to fight it together as humans. There are more of us than there are of them, and that's because we are human and we know that being human has nothing to do with the color of a person's skin, with their faith or their lack of it. Fight however you can. I'll write because that is what I do. 

 

 

The Bombmaker's Wife Free on Kindle Today!

Hey there,

Just some random painting I did.

Just some random painting I did.

I have been swamped lately with a lot of awesome things. My kindle single is finally getting released in German soon, a lot of blurbs have been coming in for The Red Book or Operation Iraqi Freedom is My Fault, and I am working on a logo for a company. All of that in addition to the regular day to day dadding activities. (Thank God the girls nap...most days).

The Bombmaker's Wife is actually free on Kindle today. It did not win the contest I entered, and the terms for it being available on amazon are nearly up, so I will soon pull it and pursue other means of publication for the book. So basically what I am saying is, if you want the book for free, then now is your chance to get it for free and potentially before it becomes a different book when a bunch of editors get their filthy hands on it and make me turn it into a Disney Movie (a bad one, I mean.)

Click the button below to get your free copy of The Bombmaker's Wife  before it's too late!

Waiting for the Enemy: a Reflection

This is the original cover.

This is the original cover.

I'm doing some reflecting these days on the path that I traveled to reach this point with The Red Book or Operation Iraqi Freedom is My Fault, and I'm starting with a book of fiction that was first published by Iron Horse Literary Review back in 2012: my first (and only) chapbook of stories.

When I submitted this collection to the Iron Horse Literary Review single author chapbook competition, I was not in a good spot psychologically. A lot of my colleagues were having publication success, and despite all the time and effort I was putting into my own work, I was not getting published as much as they were. It isn't supposed to be a competition, but the world doesn't teach you as well as it should to value the work itself, and partly that is because writing is very often a job that doesn't pay even when you do get published (or publish yourself), It was frustrating, and for anyone who doesn't already know this,  a large part of being a writer is being frustrated: with your work, with not hearing from agents or magazines, with the unknown. And that's okay by me. I have a lot of other things in my life that make me happy when I am not feeling accomplished as a writer. I know that is a gift, and I am grateful for it. 

I entered the contest thinking that there was no way I would ever win because, you know, what did I have to say that hadn't already been said better by someone smarter or someone who had a harder life than I'd had? All of the stuff in my book was said already in Catch-22 and Slaughterhouse Five and The Red Badge of Courage and The Iliad and The Bible. So sending the book into the contest was just like burning twenty dollars, but it was at least a better investment than a night at Waldo's (the bar I drank at most often in Kalamazoo during grad school.) And maybe the twenty dollars would help to support some brilliant writer's work. Good karma.

I cannot recall exactly how long it took for Waiting for the Enemy to be selected as a finalist or for the book to be chosen by Kelly Cherry as the winner. What I do remember was that when I received notification Waiting for the Enemy had won the contest that Leslie Jill Patterson's email said they were excited to publish my "Book of essays." That was shocking to me because it is a work of fiction; Rake and Vezchek and all the characters in the book are fictional, so I was terrified because I thought that the only reason Kelly Cherry and Iron Horse selected my book was because they thought the stories were factual. 

I called my friend Hugh Martin to tell him this and talk about how I was worried that if I responded to them and told them that the book was fiction that they'd say "never mind" and then they'd choose a different book as the winner. I remember telling him, "I'm not gonna tell them," because I wanted to be published so badly. I was tired of waiting for someone to recognize me and my work, and I wasn't going to hamstring myself. If they thought the book was nonfiction, then that was their fault. I never told them that it was nonfiction. I submitted it as fiction, so that's all that mattered. 

The thought of "cheating" to win in that way wore on me during the course of the day. I sat on the back porch, half-thrilled and half-despondent. The 1000 dollar prize wasn't small change to me at the time (nor should it be to anyone ever); the stipend that WMU paid me to teach was okay, but I still had to take out loans in order to survive ("Had" is strong. I could've worked somewhere in addition to teaching and being a Ph D. student, but had I done that I may still be in the Ph D. program today, and I would not be happy if I were).

After a lot of time tossing the frisbee to my mini Aussie Finny (hard to believe my life was ever without two daughters and two dogs.; I am so grateful to Tina for helping me to see the joy that caring for other living things can bring you), I decided to email Leslie Jill Patterson at Iron Horse Literary Review and tell her the truth about the book. I can remember feeling so sick to my stomach that I could barely stand after hitting send.

The rest of the day I questioned my decision. I'm not sure how long this was after the James Fray incident, but it was on my mind. Of course his book made way more money than my tiny chapbook of stories about soldiers and military brats would or will ever make, but the principle is what mattered, right? Being honest about what I presented was more important than 1000 dollars or feeling accomplished if the accomplishment was the result of a lie, even if it wasn't a lie that I told. Oprah was never going to call me to talk about my book, so it didn't really matter, But at least I had told the truth about it, and that meant I would be able to sleep easy at night once I got over the sadness of having a publication ripped from my hands by my own inability to keep my mouth shut.

Dread crept in eventually. What if I was never published again and the only reason that anyone ever liked anything I had ever done was because they felt sorry for me or because they thought by publishing some "war stories" they would help their magazine gain some exposure and further their ability to share work they really believed in. You know, like how some press might publish a book of poems by James Franco in order to get media attention regardless of how bad the work is (hypothetically: no one with integrity would ever do that, right?).

What happened later though was that Leslie Jill Patterson emailed me back and she said something that I will never forget. My email had said: "I'm sorry if somehow my work mislead you to believe that this book was nonfiction. This book is a collection of stories, and if that means you don't want to publish it anymore, then I understand."

Jill's response regarding the genre of the book was, "We don't care what genre it is; we love the book."

I don't think this is the way it goes for everyone all the time. And I feel extremely lucky that the book was published by Iron Horse Literary Review, and I feel even better that I was honest about what kind of book it was. And when I met Jill at AWP later that year and learned that Waiting for the Enemy had sold out and that they needed to do a second print run, I was ecstatic. 

Later, when the rights were mine again, I submitted the chapbook Kindle Singles. Submitting a book to an ebook only publisher was something was very much foreign to me and to my friends in the academy. I kind of did it and just assumed there was no way that amazon would ever want to publish something of mine because the market for literary fiction is nowhere near as profitable as the market for Romance or Vampires or Zombies or just garbage written by people who are famous merely because they're rich and "beautiful". 

And yet Andrew Eisenman at Kindle Singles told me they wanted the book, and then it was published on Amazon as well, and now it's there for as long as I'd like it to be as an ebook. It's a best-seller, and it was the #1 Free War Book (which is another thing. If I were ever to do so well that money didn't matter to me, I could just give my books away for free in perpetuity; I am not there, but here's hoping). It hasn't made so much money that it pays my mortgage or anything, but it's made more money than it would've earned if it wasn't available at all. These stories weren't written to make money, but a fact I've learned is that if you want people to read your work, then they are more likely to do so if they believe it has value. It's funny to me how people associate money and value, but I guess there's some connection there.

Waiting for the Enemy has been reviewed 8 times on Amazon and some on Goodreads, and I've been lucky enough to get emails from people who've read it to tell me they enjoyed it and so on. I'm sure there'll be some angry reviews or some reviews that don't like the subject matter or the style or whatever as well. But no good or bad reviews would exist if the book wasn't out in the world doing what books do, and I am grateful to Iron Horse Literary Review and Leslie Jill Patterson for telling me that they didn't care if the book was fiction or nonfiction. The genre didn't matter to me when I wrote the stories. I was just trying to tell them honestly, and I did the best that I could at the time. 

If you're interested in reading a sample from Waiting for the Enemy, you can do so by clicking the button below.

If you are interested in buying the book to read on the Kindle App (or a Kindle proper), you can click the button below.

 

 

 

 

 

Battle Rattle Free Today and Tomorrow!

Hello! The title says it all mostly. My best-selling and highly acclaimed novella Battle Rattle is free on Kindle for the next two days. I am doing this in order to try and spread the word about my forthcoming collection of essays Operation Iraqi Freedom is My Fault that will be out this Labor Day from Little Presque Books.

If you've not read Battle Rattle yet or if you have been trying to get people to read it and they didn't want to spend 3 dollars to do so, then now is their chance to get it for free. Tell them about the book. Click the button below to go straight to the page where you can get it.

I won't waste time here trying to sell you on Battle Rattle because if you follow the link, then you can read all the reviews. What I will try to sell you on is The Red Book or Operation Iraqi Freedom is My Fault which Wendell Mayo and Raegen Pietrucha have had some very kind things to say about so far.

 

Here are their words about my forthcoming collection of essays.:

Jennings is brilliant at the art of autobiographical essay, not only showing how he is caught up in mainstream events like 9/11 and Iraqi Freedom, but how his past and present selves whorl and eddy in essays that are richly drawn and brutally honest. In this groundbreaking book, Jennings intersperses excerpts from his teenage-self’s diary, the “Red Book,” dialogue with an unnamed other, footnotes, and so much more. The net result is a kind of atomic cloud full of crackling energy and wonder at these myriad experiences, as our narrator suggests, a startling spectrum, “a continuum that shifts from Pussy to Badass.” Read this book. It’s a stunner. It’ll open your eyes and break your heart.

-Wendell Mayo, Author of The Cucumber King of Kedainiai
There’s much to enjoy in The Red Book—humor and honesty topping the list. This personal meditation does more than acknowledge the inherent tension between individual identity and preordained masculinity, isolation and interconnectedness, and reality and human construct; it celebrates these often irreconcilable dualities. In doing so, Jennings reveals his unwavering faith in the power of art and its ability to save a life—even if that life is one’s own.



—Raegen Pietrucha, author of An Animal I Can’t Name

 

 

The Red Book or OIF is My Fault: Praise from Raegen Pietrucha!

The public thank yous continue today. I am sharing this blurb written by poet and friend Raegen Pietrucha. She was in her second year at Bowling Green State University when I started there. Raegen was a big fan of frozen chocolate bananas and of saying silly things and laughing at the silly things others said. Since a big part of my survival strategy while I was away from Tina was doing and saying silly things, this made it easy for Raegen and I to be friends.

Before I post the blurb, I want to mention first that the money Raegen makes from the sales of her chapbook are donated to causes that fight abuse. So if you buy her book of poems, then you will not only be getting an excellent book of poetry (I reviewed it here: An Animal I can't Name), but you'll also be spending money to help stop people from becoming victims of abuse or to help them escape abusive situations and so on. If you want to know what specific causes she donates to, then I am sure you can ask on the comments section on her website which I am linking to below. And if you want a copy of her book An Animal I Can't Name, the best way to get it is to click the button below as well. 

Here is what Raegen had to say about my book:

There's much to enjoy in The Red Book—humor and honesty topping the list. This personal meditation does more than acknowledge the inherent tension between individual identity and preordained masculinity, isolation and interconnectedness, and reality and human construct; it celebrates these often irreconcilable dualities. In doing so, Jennings reveals his unwavering faith in the power of art and its ability to save a life—even if that life is one's own. 

A Photo of The Red Book

A Photo of The Red Book

 

—Raegen Pietrucha, author of An Animal I Can’t Name

Thank you so much Raegen. 

The Red Book or OIF is My Fault: Praise from Wendell Mayo!

Here is the cover!

Here is the cover!

One of the coolest things about having a new book on the way is that you get to ask people you admire to read it and write up nice things about it. Part of what I'll be doing on the blog during the lead up to publication of The red Book or Operation Iraqi Freedom is My Fault is posting the blurbs from the awesome people who've written them for me and linking to their work so that hopefully some of you will go out and see what they are working on our what they've done already. 

Here is the cover of the original red book.

Here is the cover of the original red book.

Today I am posting a blurb from Wendell Mayo. Wendell was one of my professors at Bowling Green State University (what seems a million years ago), and being in a classroom with him was something special. More than once, he handed me a story back and the last two pages would be crossed out and he'd have rewritten the ending in the voice of my narrator. The man is powerful mimic and writer. He also often had fruit snacks.

Here is some of what Wendell had to say about my forthcoming book:

"Jennings is brilliant at the art of autobiographical essay, not only showing how he is caught up in mainstream events like 9/11 and Iraqi Freedom, but how his past and present selves whorl and eddy in essays that are richly drawn and brutally honest. In this groundbreaking book, Jennings intersperses excerpts from his teenage-self’s diary, the “Red Book,” dialogue with an unnamed other, footnotes, and so much more. The net result is a kind of atomic cloud full of crackling energy and wonder...Read this book. It's a stunner. It’ll open your eyes and break your heart."

Thank you so much for writing this Wendell and for believing in me and my work.

You can find Wendell's latest book by clicking the button below.

 

 

Mwabonwa Published in Proximity

It has been a busy few weeks around here, and even as I type this up, Tina is on call and despite being glad the girls are both napping, I need them to wake up so I can go get some groceries in order to cook dinner later.... Here we are anyway.

I meant to post about my most recent essay publication specifically last week but didn't have a chance because I was working on so many other things and just never got to it.

Thank you to everyone who already shared the essay with friends and family. I really appreciate it. All I am really trying to do here internet-publicly thank Maggie Messitt and Brad Modlin for taking a look at the essay and for ultimately giving it a home before it makes its debut in the full book on Labor Day,

Here is the link to the essay and to the issue of Proximity where you can read it. Thanks so much.

Happy Monday.

Operation Iraqi Freedom is My Fault: Last Essay Published in Proximity!

This is "The Red Book" that my mother mailed me which inspired me to write this collection of essays. Thanks, Mom. I appreciate this as much or more than Furlie Cat; Shannon loves to hear me read that book.

This is "The Red Book" that my mother mailed me which inspired me to write this collection of essays. Thanks, Mom. I appreciate this as much or more than Furlie Cat; Shannon loves to hear me read that book.

The official publication day for my new essay collection The Red Book or Operation Iraqi Freedom is My Fault is this Labor Day. In order to spread the word about it, I am going to be doing all kinds of stuff on my youtube channel and on my Patreon page as well as here on my website.

This book is one that I worked on for a long time, and it's a book that I am extremely proud of. For every essay that is included here, I wrote five that will forever sit on my hard drives. For every sentence that is included in these essays, I wrote ten that were deleted, and for each time that a magazine said yes to publishing one of these essays, twenty magazines said no. This is the way it is for most writers. I guess there might be a few writers who know the right people and have never had a submission rejected, but what's the point in doing anything if you're never pushed to try harder? An easy life where everybody just pats you on the back all the time doesn't sound like a lot of fun to me.

 

The final essay (about writing my dissertation while my wife worked at a Mission Hospital in Macha, Zambia) that will be included in Operation Iraqi Freedom is My Fault was just published in Proximity Magazine and can be read by clicking the button below. Thanks to Brad Aaron Modlin for soliciting the work and thanks to both Brad and Maggie Messitt at Proximity for the edits and taking the piece.

This is the front cover designed by Timston Johnston. 

This is the front cover designed by Timston Johnston. 

 

There's been a lot of war fiction and war nonfiction released since I spent my measly six months at Prince Sultan Air Base back in 2002-2003. I had some near misses with agents like Nat Sobel and Kirby Kim for a novel I was writing that became Battle Rattle, and then I had a couple agents tell me that my collection of essays (that Tim Johnston at Little Presque Books has edited the hell out of) was "too much like Phil Klay's Redeployment for them to know how to market it. (I have not read Redeployment despite being mailed a review copy by Penguin: I assume it was because I was still teaching and they thought I might assign it in my class.) I have no idea if our two books are similar, but I guess I'll learn at some point when I have time to read something other than parenting books. For now, I know that my book is nonfiction and Redeployment is fiction. So they are at least that different. 

When I started writing these essays, I was a very angry boy. I was focused on things that motivated me to push on as a result of anger and not because I wanted to make the world better for those around me. I finished this book before I had any children, and now I have two daughters. So my perspective has been altered. This is just a fact.

What this book is to me is a boy's journey into manhood. And I do not mean that I became a man because I "went to war." (To be clear: I fought war with communications equipment and not with bullets, so you'll not read about firefights or sieges in this book.) You don't have to go to war to become a man,. and you don't have to have children to become a man either. In order to become a man, you must engage in the world around you and work toward making it better. Of course "better" is relative, and one man will believe that some men's visions of a better world are anything but. 

So I wrote these essays about my time in war, about my sometimes unhappy childhood, about the time I spent in Zambia with my wife before her mother was diagnosed with brain cancer. I wrote these essays about a boy who loved to learn and then had his love of learning ripped away from him by some strange man on the night Mike Tyson lost the Heavyweight Title to Buster Douglas. Then I wrote essay after essay until I found the essay I was looking for all along: an essay about how my wife's love and patience were all I needed to rediscover my love for learning, life and people.

To all my friends who have supported me throughout the years during good times and bad: thank you. This is an amazingly good time for me. I've never been happier. And I am excited to share this book with the world. Now maybe some of you guys will have a better sense of what I did when I was in the Air Force when you read some of these essays. There will be more and more on this as the weeks pass, and I hope that you'll tell your friends and family. I will do my damnedest to do some readings and to get the book on the shelves in the stores where you buy books so that you can support those stores where you like to shop. For those of you who shop at home, it will of course be available on amazon too.

Happy Monday to you all. Here is a picture of a Dinosaur Tea Party that Shannon commissioned. She is paying me in laughter and smiles which is enough to sustain me on most days.

Dinosaur Tea Party #1 "An Uninvited Guest"

Dinosaur Tea Party #1 "An Uninvited Guest"

 

 

Operation Iraqi Freedom is My Fault is Coming!

For those of you who know me, I've been talking about a collection of essays that has been forthcoming for what seems like the last ten years. The book is titled: The Red book or Operation Iraqi Freedom is My Fault, and what I am here to say today is that the advanced review copies have arrived and that means this collection that I have worked on since 2007 is about to be released into the world by Tim Johnston at Little Presque Books

Here is front and back cover:

Right now I just wanted to share the cover and tell you all that I am so excited this book is finally going to be available. I cannot tell you how many hours of smashing keys it took to get this thing ready, and it never would've happened without the folks at Passage's North and Timston Johnston at Little Presque Books. A lot of other folks deserve, and will receive, thanks for their help on this.

I am currently looking for more reviewers and blurbs for the book. I'm going to send out a call in some military channels. I've been lucky so far to have Bruce Weigl agree to help me out; he's one of my literary heroes. So hopefully now that he's said yes it'll be easier for me to ask other writers I admire as well.

All right. Happy Thursday

Librarything Review Copies Sent!

Thank you to all who shared the info for my review copy giveaway on Library Thing. The giveaway ended on the seventh, and now all those books will show up in various inboxes this morning. There were a lot of Canadians requesting my books. Thanks, Canadians! 

Obviously I am still seeking more reviews (on any of my books), so don't think I've forgotten about you. I want to know what you think and I want you to share it with the world on Amazon, Goodreads or Librarything. 

It doesn't have to be long or brilliant. It just needs to be honest. So here is the link to the amazon page: 

Thanks so much to all who've supported me and my work so far. It means a lot.

 

 

Vote for The Bombmaker's Wife!

Last week I was notified by Underground Book Reviews that my newest novel The Bombmaker's Wife was selected as a Pitch Perfect Pitch finalist. This is. a big deal for me because there are not a lot of free outlets with a large readership for advertising and reviews in the indie publishing world. Underground Book Reviews is reposted on The Huffington Post and is a well-respected site in the world of indie publishing, and I am very glad that my book was selected for this. What happens if I win is that the book will be advertised to more than 3000 subscribers as well as anyone who visits the site while The Bombmaker's Wife is featured there.

Where do you come in?

This is an award you win based on the number of votes you receive. So I need people to go to the Underground Book Reviews Facebook page and select The Bombmaker's Wife as the winner on the poll there (assuming you don't prefer one of the other finalists, in which case please vote for the book of your choice). And the more votes I get the better my chances are at getting The Bombmaker's Wife in front of the eyes of a lot more readers than I have the ability to do on my own.

It is seriously an honor for me to be selected because this particular award is based on the sample and the book description. One of the hardest things to write for me is a book description because it requires that I reduce the whole book and all the things I believe it does down to a few sentences or less. And in addition to making it short and sweet, the description l needs to be interesting without being a plot summary. Because The Bombmaker's Wife  was nominated for this award, that means all those hours of scratching my head and smashing my keyboard paid off. (Who am I kidding? Shannon wrote it for me.)

So what I am asking of you is to click on the button below and take the poll on the Underground Book Reviews website. Vote for The Bombmaker's Wife, and then you're done. It costs you nothing but time and you'll earn some good karma. I'll be reposting this and talking about it a few times a week until the prize has been awarded. So please tell your friends and family to help out as well. And if you are into reading books written by new authors who are not the ones that the big 5 force down your throat, then take a look around The Underground Book Reviews site. Thanks so much and Happy 4th off July.

The Bombmaker's Wife 3rd Amazon Review

Picture of Adam Schuitema's thumb and my book.

Picture of Adam Schuitema's thumb and my book.

The Bombmaker's Wife has received it's 3rd Amazon review and I am happy to say it is another positive review. I've got some more good news to share about it (it did not win the 20,000 pounds, which is a bummer, but you can't always win the 20,000 pounds; trust me.) Anyway, here is what the reviewer had to say:

"Jennings suggests that if we fail to share or listen to each other's histories, we have no path to understanding. Stories can be our salvation. As Zeva explains, through stories "two people who come from very different worlds might understand one another better than two people who come from the same one.

I'll share the other news about The Bombmaker's Wife tomorrow once I have a chance to write the full post and give out all the details. Thanks so much to all who've read the book and taken the time to review it on Amazon, and thank you to the folks who've gone to Library Thing and requested review copies. 

Those of you who've spoken to me directly to say you liked the book: thank you too. Hopefully you'll tell your friends about it. This is the way "advertising" works in the world of independent writing. So until I'm lucky enough to be annoyed by an agent and a press, you guys are my army of support. 

The picture above is of Adam Schuitema (author of a ton of great stuff including a new collection of stories that is available here: The Things We Do That Make No Senseholding my new book, and I cannot explain how important this kind of gesture is to me. No one in the world has to buy anyone's book. But when people see that others have it makes other people much more willing to give the book a chance. So if you or someone you know has bought my book and if you or they would like a little shout out on my blog, send me a photo of yourself with my book (preferably not while burning it or defacing it in any way; at least not until after you've read it). All your support is welcome in all forms. So thank you specifically to Adam Schuitema here. And if you are interested in literary fiction, please go check out the link to his stuff on Amazon that I posted above. You will not be disappointed.

And if you are ready to check out my newest book, then click the button below to go to amazon and get a copy in either digital or paperback.. Also: I promise there will be no more portraits of George W. Bush. Unless you want to pay me for them. Then we can talk. I could use the money to buy a full set of copic markers and a rapidograph pen. 

Finally: for lighter "fare" you can check me out on Patreon where I am working on my Dr. Househusband comic. It's a (mostly weekly) strip. It's free, unless you want to support me. Which you can. I won't cry about it. Okay bye.

Done with Bush.

Tina is tired of looking at it, and I have also grown a little tired of seeing pictures of Dubya on my computer screen for so many days in a row. Now I can get back to work on the other projects that I need to complete. Here is the final version that I am going with unless for some reason I am compelled to open this file back up again. I doubt it though. 

The painting is titled "Hindsight". That's about all the info you need. Kewl. Onward and upward.

The painting is titled "Hindsight". That's about all the info you need. Kewl. Onward and upward.

Happy Monday

Took a couple days off and then got back at it this portrait this morning. Dubya is coming along, and I am about to take my own advice about writing that I so often give to people who want me to reread the same story a hundred times. I believe it's time to paint something else or I will likely never get any better. The portrait is what it is going to be for the most part. I may make some more small detail adjustments when I get some time, but I am going to focus on getting the background right, and then I'll send it out and move on with my life. I have a kid's book about a millimeter away from sending to agents and I have my comic and I have to get back to working on some animations and the podcast and, of course, the next Riverside novel. I think I am supposed to spend time with my wife and daughters too....

Here are a few iterations of the portrait with the backgrounds. As I said previously, I am going to do a video essay to explain why I painted this because a lot of people have asked me why I would do it, and a lot of the time they began their line of questioning with "Do you like him" or "do you hate him" and my painting this portrait has nothing to do with either of those things. I don't like or hate him. This isn't about honoring George W. Bush or mocking him. It's about painting and improving as a person. But, as I already said, I'll have more to show and say on that later. 

Here you are. Feel free to leave me comments, suggestions, or whatever. I hope you have a stellar week.

More Dubya Paint progress.

This is where I am today on this guy. Had planned on doing a watercolor background of a sandstorm, but then as I worked on that I started to see an aerial view of sand dunes instead. So I am going with that for the moment and maybe I'll change it up at some point. I don't know. I have about seven days left to finish it up, and at the moment, I'm pretty happy with the style and the way it's looking. I don't know if I'll change the colors of the background to make him stand out even more. I want the background to be sand (or representative of it) because I cannot hear his name without immediately remembering my time in the desert. Which is selfish because my time there was so short. Anyway. I'll be doing a video essay on this painting once I finish it up and that'll go up on the youtube channel whenever it's done. Feel free to send me any comments that you have about the painting. And again this isn't supposed to be "making fun" of him or creating an idol to worship. I'm just trying to understand him better without using words for once. 

Happy Father's Day

I've only been at this father thing for a short time, but I have a couple guys to thank for setting good examples for how to do it well. My dad and my father-in-law. Rather than buy them a card at the store, I made this one here. I love you both and hope that your day is filled with more enjoyment and good company than any of your days before. 

Inspired by Calvin and Hobbes.

Inspired by Calvin and Hobbes.

Dr. Househusband Migrating to Patreon

Why are there glowing orbs? Science.

Why are there glowing orbs? Science.

For any of you who are following my Dr. Househusband comic, I am moving it completely over to Patreon. This is mostly just to maintain separate spaces for me (the serious guy) and me (the non serious guy.) 

If you haven't yet seen my Dr. Househusband Comic, then please click the button below to check it out.

It's a comic strip and there will be more comics to come (as time allows). Thank you so much to those who've shared the page and who've commented with suggestions or just regular old Kudos. Onward. 

At the moment I have reward tiers set up for patronage, but most of that stuff will change as I determine what my actual needs are. Currently I am running the comic strip on a pseudo-weekly schedule, and it is totally free. So if you want to laugh at my interpretation of what it's like to be a stay-at-home dad, then you can check the comic out without spending a dime.

In addition to that, the page serves as a history of my own growth as a visual artist. I post all kinds of stuff on there that I won't be posting on my "professional" website, and if you know anyone who is interested in getting some original stuff (or possibly some fan art), then please feel free to comment on the Patreon page (or email me), and I'll see if we can work something out.

Okay. Back to work. Sounds like a baby is rolling around in her crib. Why would she nap for more than ten minutes?

Second 5 Star Review for The Bombmaker's Wife

If you're looking for something to read this weekend, then consider my new book The Bombmaker's Wife which has just received it's second 5 star review on amazon. Everyone who has been awesome enough to give me feedback on the book personally and online: thank you. There is no greater reward (aside from financial security) than knowing that a book I wrote made people question pre-conceived notions or that it made them think about things they'd never considered before. (I generally use other mediums if I'm going for laughs. Who knows what will come in the future. Maybe one of these days there will be no social issues worth writing about and I can focus on making people laugh full-time?)

So that's 2 reviews so far, and I am exceedingly grateful that there are people out there who have taken the time to spread the word about the book. I know time is valuable, and I appreciate yours. So thank you so much. 

If you're interested in getting a kindle copy, click this button: 

Or if you're like my Aunt Sheila and you only read physical books, click this button:

I can tell you that this is an important book all day long, and I would if you let me. But if you don't want to listen to me, then see what the reviewers had to say. Give the book a chance; I'm sure you'll be glad that you did. 

Click the button below to see the reviews on amazon (and maybe write one if you already read the book but didn't know where to go and do it.)

Have a great weekend!

 

100s of Review Copies on LibraryThing!

Hey Folks,

There is this pretty amazing site (Library Thing) that I had never heard of before where you can offer up copies of your books as review copies to anyone who is a member of the site. The winners of the giveaways are asked to review the books they win a copy of, but no one will hunt you down if you don't review the book. (I mean, you should review of course. Since the way that people are able to find new authors who aren't backed by a large press is through word of mouth and reviews, although they are most often typed, are word of mouth too.) 

So I'm offering up 100 copies each of The Bombmaker's WifeBattle Rattle, and also my collection Battle Rattle and Other Stories with the hope that some people out there might be willing to review the books in exchange for getting them for free (They've all been reviewed some already, but I hope to get a lot more reviews in order to build a larger fan base as I move onto the next books in the Riverside Series I am working on, and until I have big advertising dollars on my side, I am counting on readers to help me spread the word about the work I'm doing.)

So what do you need to do in order to win a copy of one of these books? All you have to do is sign up for LibraryThing (which has over 2 Million members already), then you can click on this button right here: 

An alternate cover for The Bombmaker's Wife

An alternate cover for The Bombmaker's Wife

Once you've signed up and clicked on this button, you should be able to scroll down the page and locate each of my books (as well as a bunch of others that you may be interested in reading.) There are buttons that read "Request it" to the right of each book. You click that button, and then you get on with your life and once the giveaway ends, you might get a free copy of the book. Because I am a small and insignificant man, I am limited to doing E-book giveaways at this stage. There are physical book giveaways on LIbraryThing and one of these days, I'll be able to run some of those too. 

If you don't want to fool around with a giveaway, you could always just buy the books, though. I'm not gonna stop you.

Here are the links to my books available currently.