Thursday, May 21, 2020

Panorama: The Missing Chapter by Ross Victory

By Ross Victory
Real Life Stories/Relationships & Sex

After a friendship ignites and morphs into a curious tale of parallel souls with a Brazilian-American soldier serving in the U.S. military in South Korea, Panorama reflects on the author’s contemplations to return to a crumbling family life in Los Angeles or to endure his life in Seoul for an end-of-contract cash payout.

With a thought-provoking storyline that covers eating live octopus, philosophical debates about the gender of God, a pregnancy, and bisexual erasure in men, Panorama delivers a page-turning cerebral adventure. Ending with prose that simultaneously bites and soothes, Panorama suggests readers stand tall in their unique intersections of relationships and sex. Reminding us that as daunting as the vicissitudes of life, and no matter the view from the cockpit of life, the human spirit cannot, and should not, be restrained. While truth may be the bitterest pill of them all, the effects of our truth can bring us closer to an unbroken life.


In this small book are two masterpieces, a riveting remembrance of several life-altering experiences and relationships the author began in Seoul, South Korea, and an essay, let's call it part tirade, part profound reflection on our view of men, masculinity, sexuality, and romance. You cannot stop until finished because there is no midway, no stopping point as you become a part of his world. After nearly every sentence you scream with or at his observations either with critical reflections or ecstasy. Ross has his pulse on his generation and the most precarious issues confronting sexuality and romance.

--Dr. Ritch C. Savin-Williams, Ph.D. -Cornell University & Author of "Mostly Straight: Sexual Fluidity among Men"


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I found myself in a local bar called Panorama, skimming through my work contract. I contemplated my ability to continue this working abroad disaster and considered walking away from a large end-of-contract payment, or perhaps I was simply waiting for an explanation from “God” about why everything falls apart. I read the pages over and over, searching for what I needed to do to end my contract and still get the cash. Panorama was a quaint, local bar that Koreans escaped to to enjoy horrific karaoke and shots of throat-burning Soju, the equivalent of cheap vodka. Americans were not interested, nor did they notice this dingy place.
Tonight, it was fairly empty. Alone on the stage stood a Korean ahjumma, or aged woman. An ahjusshi, or aged man, also Korean, sat in flooded tan trousers on a short stool next to her, holding a large cello. The woman had a gray, shoulder-length poufy perm with a slight purple tint. She wore a hanbok—a traditional Korean dress—her face covered in thick, pasty-white makeup. With clarity, passion, and purpose, she and the cellist performed as no one but me watched. The song had a simple, memorable riff with a reflective chord progression. The woman had turned off the karaoke television screen and sang from memory as the cellist supported her.
She sang as if this were the last song she would ever sing. Her soul flickered between every note, with presence and awe. Like she was going somewhere and would never return. As the woman sang, she reached into the spotlight that lit her, pulling the light closer to her chest—like she and the light had established a deep state of devotion. As the ahjusshi played the cello, hidden in the woman’s shadow, particles of dust floated through the light and disappeared into the darkness, like floating glowworms. I could not recognize her words but recognized the source of them. This woman must be singing to me... I thought. I fantasized about hope as she sang.
The four soldiers sat at the empty bar, near the stage. I sat in an oversized, black leather booth near the entrance. One of the soldiers went back outside, propping the door open momentarily. The glacial breeze returned. The soldier strode back in and took a detour toward my booth, warming his hands. I turned away but could see him approaching from the corner of my eye.
“Ey, excuse me, bro. Restroom around here?” He shivered.
“Behind the bar...” I pointed.
After a few minutes, as I began to pack up, I heard a voice. “Ey, can I sit here? You look normal...” I looked up, confused. It was him again. He chuckled and shivered.
“Yeah, I’m headed out...all yours. Has a good view of the stage.” I snickered to myself.
“Man, this woman can sing. I wonder what she’s saying. I’m Alveré,” the soldier continued, “Alvín in English. What you drinkin’?”
I motioned to my waiter for the check.
“Let me guess. You’re from the West Coast,” he said.

Alveré quickly made it clear that he had plenty of time to chat and was looking for a new friend. He removed his hat, placed it on the table, and rolled up his sleeves; he began flipping through the beer menu. Someone new in my life is the last thing I wanted.
Alveré had a slightly grown-in buzz cut and a naïve presence. He was dressed in army fatigues with coyote brown boots. He was covered in crisp snowflakes; Somehow, I could see the hexagonal and octagonal crystalline structure of the ice. His face was stuck in a half-smile, on the verge of a chuckle. He was nearly six feet tall with perfect posture and the typical, stiff, herculean stance of a military person.
He wore a forearm tattoo on his left arm of an Admiralty ship’s anchor wrapped in chain links. The anchor trans- formed into a thirty-petal rose at the eye of the anchor. There was a hummingbird feeding on the rose, its wings curled in and up.
“Yep, from California—L.A. I’m Ross.”
“Ross from Cali...” He seemed to contemplate this and quickly mumbled something in Portuguese. “Nice to meet you, Ross. I’m from New York, born in São Paulo, Brazil, though.” “Moved here when I was thirteen.” Alveré excitedly corrected himself, having momentarily forgotten that he was now in Korea. “You know what I mean...moved out there.” He laughed.
“Brazil? How’d you get into the U.S. Army?”
“Long story. My unit just got here. I just met these idiots—FML.” He continued. “You military? What are you doin’ all the way in yourself?”
“I’m actually an English teacher in a work-abroad program,” I responded.
“You signed up to come here? Who does that?!”
I pondered, squinting my eyes. “I guess I did? What a dumbass.” We laughed. “And I’m honestly sitting here regretting every moment.” I held my contract up.
“Respect. Wow.”
For the next several minutes, we spoke about the absurdities of Korean culture. Every time I glanced at Alveré to size him up, his eye contact felt like a Cyclops beam, at least for the fraction of a microsecond our pupils met. In these moments, the details of his eyes were apparent. His eyes were thalassic, deep, abidingly blue, with a thin chestnut lining. While intense and notably awkward, something about Alveré seemed familiar, like a puppy’s gaze.
As we spoke, Alveré was wringing his hands on top
of the table. He would rub his hands on the side of his pants and laugh randomly between longer gaps of silence, uttering, “Interesting!” at the end of most of my sentences. One of the other army guys tumbled into my booth.
“Hey, bro!” a drunken soldier said to Alveré.
“Ooh, he’s sexy, Alvin! Did you get his number?” the solider drunkenly joked while reaching out and twisting Alveré’s nipple. Alveré pulled away, embarrassed.
Another soldier interjected, “Alvin, you going tonight, bro? Rampant Korean p*$$y, flowing like mas agua.” The soldier began to do the robot dance.
“Alvin’s our new resident Brazilian model to attract that tiger pussy... Look at this face.” The soldiers exploded into gut-wrenching laughter, grabbing Alveré’s chin and squishing his lips. “F$g#@t,” one soldier joked. “We’re headed to this joint in Hungdae.” Hungdae was Seoul’s party capital. A night in Hungdae would mean we would be out until 6 a.m.
“You should join us...” The solider glanced over at me. “I’m Connor.” Connor reached out to shake my hand. He continued, “I hear they just let you...” The soldier paused, then wiggled his middle and ring finger around in quick circles. “And the girls just start makin’ out with each other.”
“You wanna roll through or...” The soldiers looked at me as Alveré hesitated. He whispered to me, “Don’t leave me with these idiots. Please, bro, pleassssse!”
I explained to the soldiers that I was an English teacher and that my class started early. They became distracted and began to chatter drunkenly to each other.
“Please, Ross from Cali... Don’t leave me with these douches—we vibin’, right?”
I continued to pack my bag.
“I’ll text you the address. Let me get your number. Just a few hours; never been to Hungdae...”
“Nice to meet you, Alveré, but I’m out...”
“My mom calls me Alveré; friends call me Alvin—you can call me Alví, though, if you want...” He continued. “You can tell me about L.A. I’ve always wanted to go there.”
I laughed. I stared at my contract. My passport looked back at me from the bottom of my bag. I looked back at Alví.
All right. I’m in, let’s go.

Ross Victory is an Award-Winning American author, singer/songwriter, travel geek and author of the father-son memoir, Views from the Cockpit: The Journey of a Son (2019) and Panorama: The Missing Chapter (2020). Ross spent his early years collecting pens, notepads and interviewing himself in a tape recorder. With an acute awareness for his young age, Ross was eager to point out hypocrisies and character inconsistencies in children and adults through English assignments. If he weren’t keeping his English teachers on their toes for what he would say or write next, he was processing his world through songwriting and music.



35 Miles From Shore by Emilio Corsetti III


By Emilio Corsetti III

On May 2, 1970, a DC-9 jet departed New York’s JFK international airport en route to the tropical island of St. Maarten. The flight ended four hours and thirty-four minutes later in the shark-infested waters of the Caribbean. The subsequent rescue of survivors involved the Coast Guard, Navy, and Marines. In this gripping account of that fateful day, author Emilio Corsetti puts the reader inside the cabin, the cockpit, and the rescue helicopters as the crews struggle against the weather to rescue the survivors who have only their life vests and a lone escape chute to keep them afloat.


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Thirty-five miles off the coast of St. Croix, sitting beneath some five thousand feet of water, lies the most unlikely of wrecks. It is not the wreck of an ocean liner or a Spanish galleon or a fishing boat caught in an unexpected storm. This wreck is that of a passenger jet. The exact condition of the aircraft is unknown. It has remained unseen in the dark depths of the Caribbean Sea for more than thirty years. What is known is the condition of the aircraft before it sank.

The plane remained afloat and intact for at least five to ten minutes. The galley door and two of the four overwing exits had been opened. There was a hole in the forward cargo compartment large enough to allow several aircraft tires to float free. Witnesses reported watching the plane bank to the right then sink nose first. From there, it would have continued its mile-long dive until finally hitting the sea bed.

No attempts have ever been made to recover the aircraft or any of the flight recorders. The cost of recovery simply outweighs the value of what might be retrieved. Treasure seekers might find a few items of interest. There is a blue suitcase discarded by one passenger who claims that the suitcase contained over $135,000 in jewelry. Another passenger claims to have left behind a briefcase containing several hundred thousand dollars in cash. The veracity of these claims has yet to be proved or disproved. Little else of value remains inside the fuselage: a few purses, reading glasses, a wine bottle. There are four twenty-five-man life rafts still secured inside the large bins mounted in the ceiling. Somewhere in the debris inside the cabin are two cameras containing rolls of undeveloped film that captured the last moments of the ill-fated flight. There is something else inside, however, of great importance to a number of people – clues to what might have happened to those who didn’t make it out.

The date is May 2, 1970. Low on fuel and flying just hundreds of feet above the ocean’s surface, the crew of ALM 980 look out their cockpit window and see a turbulent sea swirling beneath them. Ten- to fifteen-foot swells rise and fall in all directions. The sky above is equally turbulent with heavy rain and low visibility. Back in the cabin the passengers don their life vests, for they have been told to prepare for a possible ditching. They are obviously concerned, but most consider it nothing more than a precaution. A few passengers refuse to put on their life vests, considering it an unnecessary inconvenience. Assisting in the cabin is a purser, a steward, and one stewardess. The stewardess strolls through the cabin helping passengers with their cumbersome life jackets. In the front of the cabin, in the galley area just behind the cockpit, the purser, the steward, and a third cockpit crewmember, a navigator, struggle with one of the five life rafts aboard. No one pays much attention to the four life rafts located in the bins mounted in the ceiling just above the four overwing exits.

The lack of concern displayed in the back of the aircraft is not shared by the two men in the cockpit. Their eyes are glued to the digital fuel totalizer, which indicates a figure so low that the number is unreliable. Both men know they are only seconds away from losing both engines due to fuel starvation. When the engines finally do quit, there are only seconds left in which to act. The captain flicks the seatbelt and no smoking signs off and on to signal the cabin crew of the impending impact; he doesn’t use the PA system because it’s not working.
Some of the passengers stand as they put on their life vests. Others sit with their seatbelts unfastened. No one notices the seatbelt and no smoking signs flicker off and on. Nor do they hear the bells that accompany these signs. Even if they had noticed, it wouldn’t make much difference. The cabin crew was trained by a different airline, one that didn’t use bells to signal an emergency landing. A few people look outside their window and note how close they are to the water. One man sitting near an emergency overwing exit looks around at his fellow passengers; most have no idea that they are just moments away from impact. In the forward section of the cabin, two men stand in the aisle snapping pictures. They are not wearing life jackets. There are shouts from the front of the cabin for everyone to sit down. But the aircraft strikes the water before everyone can take their seats.

Accident investigators often use the term “error chain” when explaining how accidents occur. They know from experience garnered from decades of accident investigations that accidents don’t occur in a vacuum. Accidents are usually the end result of a series of mistakes or events. Remove one of the proceeding events, or links in the error chain, and the accident does not occur. While we can never totally eliminate errors, we can strive to not repeat them. When I first contacted the captain of the flight, Balsey DeWitt, to inform him of my intention to tell this story, he was reluctant to participate. He finally agreed to be interviewed because he felt that by doing so he might help prevent a similar accident from occurring again, or at least increase the chances of survival should another plane succumb to a similar fate. In the numerous times that I have spoken with the former captain, he has not once shifted blame to another individual. He accepts full responsibility for what took place. But the mistakes he admits to are not the only links in the error chain that led to the ditching of ALM 980.

Emilio Corsetti III is a professional pilot and author. Emilio has written for both regional and national publications including the Chicago Tribune, Multimedia Producer, and Professional Pilot magazine. Emilio’s first book 35 Miles From Shore: The Ditching and Rescue of ALM Flight 980 tells the true story of an airline ditching in the Caribbean Sea and the efforts to rescue those who survived. Emilio’s latest release Scapegoat: A Flight Crew’s Journey from Heroes to Villains to Redemption tells the true story of an airline crew wrongly blamed for causing a near-fatal accident and the captain’s decades-long battle to clear his name. Emilio is a graduate of St. Louis University. He and his wife Lynn reside in Dallas, TX.


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Wednesday, May 20, 2020

The Marvelous Mechanical Man by Rie Sheridan Rose

By Rie Sheridan Rose

The Marvelous Mechanical Man is the first book in a Steampunk series featuring the adventures of Josephine Mann, an independent woman in need of a way to pay her rent. She meets Professor Alistair Conn, in need of a lab assistant, and a partnership is created that proves exciting adventure for both of them.

Alistair’s prize invention is an automaton standing nine feet tall. There’s a bit of a problem though…he can’t quite figure out how to make it move. Jo just might be of help there. Then again, they might not get a chance to find out, as the marvelous mechanical man goes missing.

Jo and Alistair find themselves in the middle of a whirlwind of kidnapping, catnapping, and cross-country chases that involve airships, trains, and a prototype steam car. With a little help from their friends, Herbert Lattimer and Winifred Bond, plots are foiled, inventions are perfected, and a good time is had by all.


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I was debating just what I should do next when I heard the sound of a key in the front lock. Hurrying back to the laboratory, I was just in time to see Alistair Conn step inside.
            “Professor Conn! Am I glad to see you.”
            He set the bundles he was carrying down on the counter.
            “What is it, Miss Mann?”
            “Your mechanical man...can it walk on its own?”
            He frowned, glancing quickly at the rear door and back.
            “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
            I rolled my eyes.
            “We don’t have time for shilly-shallying. Yes, I know I didn’t have your leave to look in the back rooms, but I did. I saw the automaton, or statue, or whatever he was, but when I opened the door to the hallway this morning, the door to the storage room was ajar and the man was gone.”
            “Gone?” All the color fled his face, and he pushed me aside, practically running down the lab to the rear door. He threw it open and darted to the storage room. “! This is impossible! How could he be gone?”
            “That’s what I was asking you.”
            “He can’t move on his own, Miss Mann. He has no power source. He’s just a big metal doll without his heart—and that doesn’t work yet.” He wiped his hand across his lips then turned and ran back to the lab, searching furiously amid the items I had so carefully arranged—apparently to no avail—on the counter. “It’s gone!” he cried. “They got that, too? Oh, this is disastrous, indeed.”
            “Got what?” I asked, following him back to the lab, where he seemed determined to destroy all my neatening efforts of the day before.
            “The heart, Miss Mann, the heart! I showed it to you yesterday morning—it’s an oblong machine, about so big….” He held up his hands about six inches apart. “You asked me what it did.”
            I stepped over to the counter and opened the drawer beneath it. Rummaging in the back, I withdrew the silk-wrapped package I had placed within it the night before.
            “Is this what you’re looking for?”
            He practically snatched it from my hand.
            “Thank God! Oh, that was most clever, Miss Mann. Most clever.”
            I decided there was no need to tell the man it was only chance that had protected his precious...whatever it was. Let him think it had been foresight.
            “You say that’s the statue’s heart?”
            “Well, it will be, if it ever starts working. This little object will provide the power necessary to move the automaton’s limbs, to let him think. He will be a true mechanical man.”
            “But it doesn’t work.”
            He sighed.
            “Not yet.” He set the oblong down on the counter. “I’ve done everything I can think of, but I just can’t make it do anything.”
            I looked down at the funny little machine. I couldn’t tell him I had played with it and added things. He would never forgive me.
            Something looked odd about the assembly. I couldn’t quite put my finger on what, so I put my finger on the machine instead. There was a tiny lever half-hidden by the new gear assembly. It shifted under my fingertip, and suddenly, the heart began to beat.

Rie Sheridan Rose multitasks. A lot. Her short stories appear in numerous anthologies, including Nightmare Stalkers and Dream Walkers Vols. 1 and 2, and Killing It Softly Vols. 1 and 2. She has authored twelve novels, six poetry chapbooks, and lyrics for dozens of songs. These were mostly written in conjunction with Marc Gunn, and can be found on “Don’t Go Drinking with Hobbits” and “Pirates vs. Dragons” for the most part–with a few scattered exceptions.

Her favorite work to date is The Conn-Mann Chronicles Steampunk series with five books released so far: The Marvelous Mechanical Man, The Nearly Notorious Nun, The Incredibly Irritating Irishman, The Fiercely Formidable Fugitive, and The Elderly Earl’s Estate.

Rie lives in Texas with her wonderful husband and several spoiled cat-children.


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Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Book Blast: The Demolition of Democracy by Ted Bagley


Inside the Book:

Title: The Demolition of Democracy
Author: Ted Bagley
Publisher: XLibrisUS
Genre: Political Science
Format: Ebook/Paperback/Hardcover

This work is a synopsis of how I, from my research, feel that this current administration and its behavior, policies, and attack on the democratic foundation of the country could be the undoing of the US as we know it today

Purchase Here

Meet the Author:
The author is writing his fourth novel ,The Demolition of Democracy, to give substance to what he sees as a threat to the stability of our country by the current Trump administration.


Ted is giving away a $25 Gift Card!

Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $25 Gift Certificate to the e-retailer of your choice
  • This giveaway begins April 27 and ends on May 8.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on May 9.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone!


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