The Daily Ed

Free audiobooks on YouTube

I’ve long been wanting to revive my YouTube channel. As of this past week, I’ve started putting some videos up. I plan to add many more in the coming days and weeks.

I haven’t done the YouTube thing for a few years. But when I do get into the YouTube groove, I tend to add content pretty quickly. This is because YouTube is a do-a-lot-or-do-nothing-at-all proposition. No one wants to see a YouTube channel with three videos uploaded, the last one six months ago. You should be active on YouTube, or not bother with the platform in the first place.

Speaking of content: I will do some promotional videos for my books, and maybe the occasional video about my writing process. For the most part, though, I’ll be adding audio versions of my novels and short stories for you to listen to and enjoy.

The quality of these recordings will be reasonably high. I record with a prosumer mic and Adobe Audition. I use a pop filter and do some basic editing.

I won’t, though, be adding some of the finishing touches that would ordinarily go into an audiobook for sale on Audible. For example: If I was recording a formal audiobook and made a minor flub, I would rerecord the segment. You’re charging money for an audiobook, after all. It has to be as close to perfect as possible. For these recordings, though, I’ll simply correct myself and go on, provided the mistake is minor and doesn’t break the story flow…just as I would if doing a live reading.

These recordings will therefore be higher quality than the typical live reading (which usually has a lot of background noise). But I reiterate: this won’t be Audible/ACX-level audio production.

This is perhaps best demonstrated by example. You can listen to the first story video below, from The Rockland Horror:

I am also working on some serials and stories that will be written specifically for the YouTube/online audio format. Writing for audio is a little different from writing for text consumption, although they aren’t mutually exclusive or mutually unintelligible.

Why am I doing this, in particular? you may ask. As is always the case here, I like to tell you folks as much inside baseball as I can.

There are two reasons: First of all, I enjoy performing my stories in addition to just writing and publishing them. I’ve always been a fan of the music industry. (I love 80s rock: Def Leppard, AC/DC, Rush, etc.) Writers should be performers, just like musicians.

This isn’t a particularly novel idea: Charles Dickens, a century before there were any rock stars, went on tour performing his novels before live audiences.

Secondly, this will give readers who don’t find me on Amazon another place to discover my work.

You may be seeing a lot of book ads on Amazon and Facebook of late. Everyone is standing out there with a billboard saying “Buy my book!” “No, buy my book!”

There is a place for advertising books. But nothing advertises like a free sample.

This is, by the way, how I discovered my favorite bands in the 1980s. I didn’t buy Def Leppard’s Pyromania album in 1983 because I saw an ad on Facebook. (There was no Internet or social media back then, for those of you under the age of thirty.) I bought Pyromania because I heard “Photograph” on MTV and FM radio, and I was instantly hooked. Just like a gazillion other teens of the Reagan era.

From 1983: the video that sold millions of Def Leppard’s Pyromania album

Anyway, my YouTube channel, aka “Ed Tube” is officially rebooted. I hope you enjoy the upcoming videos, and the stories inside them.

The novels of W.E.B. Griffin

I’m presently reading The New Breed, the 7th book in W.E.B. Griffin’s Brotherhood of War series. This novel follows the lives and adventures of several U.S. Army personnel involved in covert operations warfare during the 1960s, particularly in Vietnam and the Congo.

Like most W.E.B. Griffin novels, The New Breed is not simply a series of combat scenes strung together. Nor is this a novel in which the Fate of the World rests on one man’s shoulders.

The New Breed is more a slice-of-life look at fighting men and their wives, girlfriends, and children. The entire series is like that. What Griffin wrote was not so much military fiction, but fiction about people who are in the military. Griffin’s novels are light on action, as novels set in global conflicts go. There are, in fact, quite a few W.E.B. Griffin novels in which not much seems to happen.

But when he was at his best, Griffin wrote engaging characters that drew you in to the story. I’m working my way eagerly through the Brotherhood of War books. Many readers have gone before me, and many more are sure to follow. 

When he was not at his best, Griffin’s books tended to ramble. Griffin was most on-point when he wrote stories set narrowly within the US military. When he strayed beyond that, he sometimes seemed to lose the plot.

Speaking of plot: I may be wrong, but I would be willing to bet that Griffin was a discovery writer—that is, he did not compose from an outline, but simply wrote down the story as it came to him. This kind of writing makes for memorable characters, but occasionally ersatz and meandering plots.

The consumption of alcohol is a big part of Griffin’s stories and characters. I’m not talking about drunken bacchanals here, but simply the demonstrated conviction that a grown man must be properly lubricated with spirits at all hours of the day and night. This was no doubt a real part of the postwar military culture in which Griffin came of age.

Also, it’s very clear that Griffin never bothered with what are now called “sensitivity readers”. There is a scene in the The New Breed in which one of the characters actually describes a woman’s breasts as “knockers”. Regular readers of this blog will know that I loathe political correctness; but even I would think twice before using this word in an unironic manner.

W.E.B. Griffin’s work largely avoids the ever-vigilant gaze of the culture nannies, though, because the culture nannies don’t read much military fiction. (So please, don’t link to this blog post on Twitter. Okay?)

W. E. B. Griffin (1929 – 2019) lived to within a few months of his ninetieth birthday. This is probably a wonder, as most photos of the author show him to be rather rotund, and smoking a big stogie.

After a childhood split between New York and Philadelphia, Griffin joined the U.S. Army in 1946. He therefore missed World War II; but he was involved in the military occupation of Germany. He also served in the Korean War.

Griffin was modest about his own military career, however. He once told an interviewer, “My own military background is wholly undistinguished. I was a sergeant. What happened was that I was incredibly lucky in getting to be around some truly distinguished senior officers, sergeants, and spooks.”

Nevertheless, the level of detail in Griffin’s military novels could only come from an author who has actually served in uniform. These books are extremely popular with veterans, as well as less qualified readers like me—who never served, and sometimes regret their failure to do so. 

Most of the Brotherhood of War series was written during the 1980s (with the exception of the final installment, Special Ops, which came out in 2001). All of these books are still in print, however, and available on Amazon in multiple formats. Highly recommended to the veteran and nonveteran reader alike.

***View the Brotherhood of War series on Amazon***

Snow White and the Seven Outrages

When I first heard that there was a new outrage over Disney’s 1937 animated film, Snow White, my first thought was: an inclusion or diversity issue (i.e. Snow “White”).

But no….apparently the controversy surrounds that scene in which Prince Charming kisses the sleeping Snow White. The scene was featured recently in an updated version of the Disneyland ride, Snow White’s Enchanted Wish.

And of course, someone found it “problematic”.

According to some of the culture nannies, the problem is that Prince Charming did not obtain prior consent. As Katie Dowd and Julie Tremaine of SF Gate wrote:

“he [Prince Charming] gives to her [the kiss] without her consent, while she’s asleep, which cannot possibly be true love if only one person knows it’s happening. Haven’t we already agreed that consent in early Disney movies is a major issue? That teaching kids that kissing, when it hasn’t been established if both parties are willing to engage, is not okay?”

I see the point, but only if one is being deliberately obtuse. Context matters. If I shove a fellow pedestrian on the sidewalk for no reason, I’m guilty of assault. But if I shove a fellow pedestrian out of the way of an oncoming bus, I’ve just become a hero.

In case you’re a little rusty on your Disney fairytales, here is the context in which the Prince Charming kiss takes place, per Wikipedia:

“The dwarfs return to their cottage and find Snow White seemingly dead, being kept in a deathlike slumber by the poison. Unwilling to bury her out of sight in the ground, they instead place her in a glass coffin trimmed with gold in a clearing in the forest. Together with the woodland creatures, they keep watch over her. A year later, the prince learns of her eternal sleep and visits her coffin. Saddened by her apparent death, he kisses her, which breaks the spell and awakens her. The dwarfs and animals all rejoice as the Prince takes Snow White to his castle.”

Can we all agree that those are extraordinary circumstances?

Prince Charming, moreover, is a distinctly female fantasy trope. Prince Charming—and a kiss from Prince Charming—is the archetypical female fantasy, in fact. Kind of like mud-wrestling with the Swedish Women’s Olympic Volleyball Team is the archetypical male fantasy.

There’s nothing wrong with men and women having mutually incomprehensible fantasies, by the way. Vive la différence. But again, the culture nannies are being deliberately obtuse, as usual. The suddenly controversial kiss isn’t Scratchy the Incel Dwarf feeling up Snow White while she’s incapacitated. It is Prince Charming chastely kissing Snow White in order to wake her from a state of quasi-death.

I’m a heterosexual man, raised in the 1980s. If that’s what it took to wake me from a yearlong coma, I would let Prince Charming kiss me without consent.

In fact, I would buy the guy a beer afterward.

Teachers, hookers, and drug dealers!

A little bit about my crime novel, VENETIAN SPRINGS

See below for sample chapters!

A young couple in debt. A fortune in blood money. A showdown with a ruthless narcotics kingpin. For fans of Harlan Coben and David Baldacci!

Read the sample chapters here:

VENETIAN SPRINGS Chapters 1 to 8

Amazon links below:

**View on Amazon!**

Also: VENETIAN SPRINGS is enrolled in Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program.

I discovered Zane Grey

As I’ve mentioned before, I like to listen to audiobooks while I mow the lawn. This past weekend, I started listening to a new title, The Fugitive Trail, by Zane Grey. I had about four hours worth of yard work to do, so I made my way through about half of the novel.

I’ll confess that I’ve never been a big fan of westerns. This may be partly due to generational factors. I started watching television and movies in the 1970s, just as our culture was becoming more cynical and “ironic”. The post-Vietnam cultural shift diminished the market for the big John Wayne-style western, with all-American heroes, and unambiguous lines of good and evil. Watch a cowboy movie made prior to 1968 today, and you’ll find any number of violations of political correctness.

I’ve watched Clint Eastwood’s spaghetti westerns, the films he made with Italian director Sergio Leone during the Vietnam era. I generally like Clint Eastwood, but the antiheroes he plays in these films are not endearing. The John Wayne version of the cowboy, while arguably less realistic, is far more sympathetic.

Zane Grey (1872 – 1939) lived, wrote, and died long before our culture turned against itself in the 1960s. His most popular book, Riders of the Purple Sage (1912) was published the year the Titanic sank…before World War I.

I’d been vaguely aware of Zane Grey for years, of course. I’ve been told that my paternal grandfather was an avid reader of Zane Grey’s novels. (He used to read them during his breaks on the night shift at Cincinnati Gas & Electric, according to my father.) But I’d never gotten around to reading any of his books myself.

Until I happened upon a discounted audiobook version of The Fugitive Trail, that is. I began the book prepared for anything—including the possibility that I might hate it. But as chance would have it, I liked the book a lot.

Zane Grey was a master of “pulp fiction”. He wrote fast-paced stories with passionate heroes and heroines, driven by universal human drives.

Speaking of modern sensibilities: The heroine of The Fugitive Trail, a young woman named Trinity Spencer, is no helpless damsel in distress. She takes the initiative in determining her own outcomes, and has no qualms about standing up to the men in her midst. Imagine that: popular fiction had strong women characters decades before anyone was “woke”.

That said, some of the language and dialogue in the book is dated, even clichéd. But that’s part of the fun.

Zane Grey probably won’t become my favorite author. This is fortunate, I suppose, since he’s been dead for 82 years and won’t be writing any more books. But The Fugitive Trail won’t be my last Zane Grey book, either. I already have my eye on the aforementioned Riders of the Purple Sage.

Check out The Fugitive Trail on  Audible.com

(BTW: While not a western novel as such, fans of western novels (and good vs. evil adventure tales) may want to check out my Kentucky crime novel, Blood Flats.)

Horror on Kindle Unlimited

Kindle Unlimited is Amazon’s main subscription ebook reading program. Kindle Unlimited gives you virtually unlimited (hence the name) reading privileges to a wide variety of titles, for a low monthly fee.

Not every title listed on Amazon is enrolled in Kindle Unlimited. Literary fiction from the big New York publishing houses generally is not included. You likely won’t find the latest Jonathan Franzen novel in Kindle Unlimited anytime in the near future.

Kindle Unlimited is heavy on genre fiction. This means: romance, space opera, LitRPG, fantasy, and horror.

I have a fair number of horror titles in Kindle Unlimited. I write supernatural horror, in the tradition of Peter Straub, H.P. Lovecraft, Bentley Little and E.F. Benson.

And yes (I know this sounds a bit pretentious) Stephen King. I have achieved barely a gazillionth fraction of King’s commercial success. But his formula of character-based, fast-moving horror is always on my mind when I sit down to write a horror tale.

What kind of horror don’t I write? If you want splatterpunk, or “extreme” horror (aka “torture porn”), then you should skip my books and stories. I have no interest in writing horror fiction that is endlessly grim and/or sadistic. My horror fiction is more akin to the campfire ghost story.

Below are the horror titles that I presently have enrolled in Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program. This means that you can read them for free if you’re a Kindle Unlimited subscriber.

To view one of these titles on Amazon, simply click on the image of any book, or any hyperlink below.

(Don’t have a Kindle Unlimited membership? Click here.)

Eleven Miles of Night

A college student takes a walk down the most haunted road in rural Ohio for a cash prize. This is a “haunted road” story, basically a tale of being stuck on a cursed country road at night. Ghosts, evil spirits, and hellhounds abound. Also, an evil witch that inhabits a covered bridge.

12 Hours of Halloween

A coming-of-age story set on Halloween night, 1980. This is a tale of supernatural events in the American suburb. A classic horror tale for Generation X.

Revolutionary Ghosts

The year is 1976, and the Headless Horseman rides again. This coming-of-age horror thriller is sure to please readers who appreciate character-based supernatural fiction with lots of twists and turns.

The basic idea is: the ghosts of American history coming back to haunt Middle America in 1976, the year of the American Bicentennial. (And yes, I’m old enough to remember the Bicentennial, although I was rather young at the time.)

Luk Thep

In early 2016, I read an article in The Economist about the luk thep “spirit dolls” of Thailand.

Manufactured and sold in Thailand, these are factory-made dolls with a unique sales point: each doll is supposedly infused with the spirit of a young child that passed prematurely.

The luk thep are intended to bring comfort to their owners. (They are marketed to childless women.) To me, though, the whole idea sounded rather macabre.

And I couldn’t help thinking: what if one of the dolls was infused with a child spirit that wasn’t very nice? What if that same doll ended up in the possession of an American woman who happened to visit Thailand on a business trip? Luk Thep is a fast-paced ghost tale that spans two continents.

The Rockland Horror saga

Spanning a nearly 140-year period from 1882 to 2020, The Rockland Horror is a series about dark events at a cursed house in rural Indiana.

Hay Moon & Other Stories: Sixteen modern tales of horror and suspense

This was my first short story collection. Although all of these stories contain speculative elements, there is quite a range in plot and subject matter. In this collection you’ll find vampire and ghost stories, but also a few crime stories with a “twist”. Oh, and there are also several “creature feature” stories that are kind of fun.

I Know George Washington and Other Stories: Five Dark Tales

Five dark tales of murder, hauntings, and the undead, set in locations from Tennessee to Mexico.

When your favorite history professor writes a book

During the spring semester of the 1986 to 1987 academic year, I was a freshman at Northern Kentucky University in the Cincinnati area.

That proved to be an interesting and academically enriching semester for me. For one thing, I had the opportunity that spring to meet poet Richard Wilbur (1921 – 2017). I took a particularly enjoyable astronomy class.

I also took a class on the American Revolution. I wasn’t a history major, and this was a general studies requirement. Not that I minded. I have always loved the study of history, and I almost chose it as my major.

The professor, Michael C. C. Adams, was British. Oh, the ironies, right? A British professor teaching a class on the American Revolution, in the heart of America at the height of the Reagan era.

It turned out to be one of the most enlightening history courses I’ve ever taken. Dr. Adams provided a unique, admittedly British perspective on the American Revolution. And I learned a lot about the revolution that I hadn’t known.

For example, Dr. Adams pointed out why the British were taxing the American colonies so heavily to begin with: mostly to pay off the debt for the French and Indian War, which had benefited the American colonists in various ways.

He also informed us of the mythologizing of the so-called Boston Massacre. It wasn’t quite like I’d been led to believe: evil redcoats wantonly massacring American colonists.

The poorly named Boston Massacre was actually a case of mob control gone awry. By most accounts, the redcoats were outnumbered and goaded into firing. Some members of the crowd were shouting at the British soldiers, “Fire and be damned!”

Oh, and the mob was pelting the outnumbered Brits with ice, rocks, and oyster shells.

I didn’t interpret these lessons as the sort of knee-jerk anti-Americanism that is common in American academia today. This was miles removed from neo-Marxist nonsense like “critical race theory”, or the distorted pseudo-history of the late Howard Zinn. Dr. Adams’s perspective was, rather, a valuable counterbalance to the hagiographic, almost mystical depiction of the American Revolution that I’d grown up with.

As chance would have it, Dr. Adams lived not far from me, and I ran into him a few times off-campus. He was a bit standoffish (as one would expect a British professor to be when forced to mingle with unwashed Yanks); but he was always cordial enough.

While browsing on Amazon, I recently discovered that Dr. Adams has published several books in the intervening years. His titles include Living Hell: The Dark Side of the Civil War, and The Best War Ever: America and World War II.

His main publisher is Johns Hopkins University Press, which explains the horrible, uncommercial covers. (Dr. Adams, being a credentialed academic, probably wouldn’t be hip on the idea of self-publishing, and I won’t quibble with that. In academic publishing, being vetted by an established publishing house still matters.)

Both books seem to do what that long-ago class on the American Revolution did: present a side of our history that might not be immediately obvious and apparent to the average American reader.

If history is your thing, I would recommend you check out both books. I haven’t read either one yet, but I can definitely recommend the author.

I should also note: Dr. Adams had no part in this endorsement. I haven’t communicated with him since 1987; and he wouldn’t remember me as a student in one of his classes at NKU more than three decades ago.

He probably wouldn’t even welcome this endorsement/recommendation. In fact, I rather suspect that he’d be mildly horrified. But I’m going to make the endorsement/recommendation  anyway. Like I said, Dr. Adams was one of the best instructors I had during my college years.