Issue 14 is out! This issue concludes the EmotoSerial, Swing Zone, by author Jodi McClure and digital artist Zach Revale. Edited by yours truly.
The purists run into problems during their covert city mission, leaving Mia in a dangerous position. Coltis must contend with Zavier Blancharde and his cruel idea of retribution, which includes an ultimatum that leaves Lakeside reeling. After an explosive encounter, Mia finds herself out on the streets. Coltis has a tense standoff with Drew and discovers just how Commander Blancharde has been using his newly found powers. When the dusts of war finally settle, which side of the line will Mia be on? Expect the unexpected in this huge, action-packed finale!
So I’m giving it to you, for free, if you comment below with the following:
1. Your favorite issue of Swing Zone and why
2. Your favorite character in Swing Zone and why
3. Your email address
That’s it. But you only have until the end of the day on Sunday, May 5th. After that the giveaway will be closed and I’ll only listen to your pleas if I really, really like you.
This giveaway is now closed.
But really, what I want to say is thank you. Thank you to all the readers of Swing Zone and the fans of Grit City Publications who have supported the creative teams in even the smallest ways. We do this all for you.
I’ve had a tough few weeks, on a few levels, but it’s forced me into introspection, and it’s become habitual for me to recognize this as a good thing. One of my resolutions for the new year was to maintain consistent positivity. Positive thinking. Positive expression.
The thinking part of it is pretty impossible, but I think it’s most important that I stay positive on the exterior. It’s kind of like the threefold law, or karma, or whatever. The energy you send out gets returned to you. Energy is only borrowed, after all.
Admittedly, I was just tired of all the complaints. My Facebook newsfeed. The real news. The media. Everything. It was so bad that, at one point last year, I recognized that a single person I knew was always posting positive updates. Even when everything went to hell. Her optimism was inspiring. And practical, too, because expressing an attitude like that benefits everyone.
I’ve always found it useful to think in relative terms. Even at a point in my life when I was technically poor, I was still an American with opportunities to overcome it. Even when I’ve been depressed because a dozen little things didn’t go my way, I focused on everything else I have.
One thing that every American has, and almost every American takes for granted, is freedom. It’s a common subject to preach, especially in military culture. Freedom isn’t free. We know that because we’ve served or loved people who’ve served to protect our freedom.
I’m not saying that everyone else isn’t appreciative. But in general, there’s a lot of political commentary about recent and current wars and the motives behind them. I’m not discussing how our government might or might not abuse our troops. What I appreciate is the presence of our troops. Because without a military presence, we wouldn’t be able to defend our freedom.
Slavery, for most of us, is this vague far-away, long-ago concept. We forget that the whole world is not on our page. It’s easy to forget, really, in a culture like ours. So obsessed with other stuff…
We can read history books and books on cultures where slavery is still common or accepted. But it still exists a lot of surprising places, in some form or another. But we’re disconnected from the reality of that. What we need, to really understand, is empathy. And that doesn’t come from lectures, textbooks, or research.
It can come from fiction, though.
This is just one example. Fiction explores all kinds of themes in human history, society, and culture. The writers of these books do the research, then create the world and the characters to be real. To exist for a purpose. And within some of these stories, we can experience these themes we’d otherwise know nothing about.
Fiction can provide perspective.
That’s why literature is taught in schools. It is, actually, educational. So these adults I meet who don’t “waste” their time with fiction because it’s just “entertainment,” have probably not read much fiction to begin with. Because otherwise, they’d know better, right?
Fiction is life. It’s based on truth. It’s based on people. People write it. People consume it. It changes people. It can even inspire revolution. It has so much power. I can’t stand how easily it is disregarded by some.
Okay, rant over. So much for positivity.
In other news, my friend, Shawna, has created a fundraising team for MS. I interview her in my recent blog post at GCP’s website. Please help spread the word, and thanks in advance.
I’m meant to travel. The times I have traveled or lived in other places I’ve been my happiest. So, although I love my home, I recognize that it’s not where I’m supposed to be. For now, maybe it is. It’s a great place for my son to grow up, after all. And that’s why we’re here, really. That and work.
But sometimes I fail to appreciate this place. Not the house itself, but the region. It doesn’t lack beauty, but it’s so familiar. I grew up two townships over. Since I was a kid, I wanted to leave. And I did, but I returned and now, from time to time, I feel a little stuck. I’ve written about this before when I asked for travel fiction recommendations. Sometimes I’m satisfied to explore another place only mentally. Sometimes not.
The word, “touristy,” has a negative connotation because so many people have claimed they’re not attracted to touristy places. As though a tourist attraction is not authentic. But it is, in its own way. Museums, landmark buildings, famous restaurants… they’re all touristy. But they were once pretty cool, and that’s why they’re popular.
To me, it doesn’t matter. I like some buildings, some museums… but a museum can be anywhere. A restaurant can be anywhere. Buildings don’t adapt to the land around them. They’re superficial, like a layer that needs peeled away before you can appreciate the difference in location.
It’s not just about how the land appears. Whether I’m looking at rocky red cliffs, twiggy woodlands, an Eastern shoreline, or barren plains; all places, in their images, are beautiful. But the land has an energy to it. The air has a feeling. And it’s drastically different from place to place, if you pay attention.
I imagine every person would explain it differently, depending on their perspectives. But to me, most of the Northeast is heavy. The air is harder to breathe, just by a little. It’s beautiful here, with four seasons and breath-taking landscapes. But the land has always felt alien, like I’m not a part of it but walk upon it. Like a building.
There are exceptions. The woods, for one. Whenever I played in the woods when I was younger, I felt like I could stay there forever. Now, from the highway, I look at some of the undeveloped woodlands around where I live, and I wonder how I could get there, and how I could justify doing so. Not something to pursue during hunting season, for certain.
I also love the energy of dense-living. I grew up in suburbia, so when I was a teenager and moved to the city, I was captivated by it. Yeah, it was less than ideal when my neighbors, who shared my duplex, brought home a beagle, or when my car almost got towed outside my apartment because the landlord thought it belonged to someone visiting the bar next door, or when just down the street, a celebratory riot broke out because the Steelers won the Super Bowl. Some things I don’t miss. Gunshots at night. Kids banging on stop signs outside my front door. But to this day, I love the older houses, and their styles, and the on-street parking, and the general chaos and energy of it all.
It’s not that I prefer all other places over this one. I’ve been to Iowa- I loved it, the land was flat, the snow was left to accumulate on roads and in parking lots (unlike in Pennsylvania), and it was a fun trip. But I’m not drawn to it. The same goes for the Florida Keys. Largo was my favorite, or Marathon. But I was overwhelmed by their beauty, and I don’t remember exactly how they felt. Although they were not touristy, like Key West felt, but decidedly unique. I was fortunate to stay with some of the locals, and I was fascinated by their lifestyles. But I was not entirely envious.
My experience in California was a bit different because I could focus on the land. There was nothing else to focus on, other than a Carl’s Jr. and a motel. Even the barracks seemed temporary somehow, like a part of the land. The desert has always fascinated me.
But the air and the land in South Carolina is what I miss the most. The southern- but not that southern- and coastal- but not right on top of a beach- towns that I loved. Perhaps I miss it the most because I stayed there the longest. It was a short year, but everything was easier there. Easier to breathe. Easier to live.
And now you know the truth. I’m a little bit of a hippie. And it’s popular theory that I’m also crazy.
But there’s another reason I like to live in other places, and it’s possible this would eventually apply to anywhere I decided to settle down. When you pick a place and you find a home and you get a mortgage, you have roots. Those roots are not material gains, but rather the people you get to know. Eventually, you develop relationships with people in your area, and you become tied down by them. It’s not a bad thing. It can be a wonderful thing. But it’s a limiting thing. Not only because they make you hesitate to move away, but because for however long you stay, you’re surrounded by their particular perspectives and influences. There’s a reason why people from different places don’t just speak differently, but think differently.
There’s nothing wrong with how my friends think and act. I’ve come to love them dearly. But most people who live here, unless they’ve recently moved here from somewhere else, conform in the slightest ways to each other.
Sometimes it’s just nice to be that new person somewhere else.