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Giveaway for Like a Box of Chocolates

Posted on April 13, 2016 at 5:45 PM Comments comments (4)

April 26th doesn't just mark the anniversary of A Bloody Bloody Mess..but it also marks the third year anniversary of the release of Like a Box of Chocolates. In honor of this occasion and on behalf of the fact it's National Poetry Month I will be doing giveaways and contests for the book throughout the month.

Giveaway- April 13th-26th

 

 

 Paperback Giveaway-

 Give me your favorite line from your favorite poem, it can be a poem from anyone throught history.

 *person with the best line will win a copy of the book.

 

E-Book Giveaway-

 What does Poetry mean to you? How far do you think poetry has come today compared to years prior? Those who I think come up with the best responses shall win E-Book copies.

 *the three best responses will win copies of the book.

 

 

 

Giveaway for A Bloody Bloody Mess in the Wild Wild West

Posted on April 4, 2016 at 3:00 PM Comments comments (3)

April 26th marks the fourth year anniversary release of my Western Horror, A Bloody Bloody Mess in the Wild Wild West. To honor this occasion I am doing some giveaways and contests throughout the month.

Giveaway-April 1st-13th

 


Paperback Giveaway-

-Your on the Good side with Emerson Shaw and the town fighting against the undead. Give me your best pre-fight speech to get everyone motivated and pumped up. Write your speech by commenting on this post.

*The person who I believe comes up with the best response will win a copy of the book.

 

E-Book Giveaway-

-Your on the BAD side with Javier “Bones” Jones and his army of the undead fighting against the townspeople lead by Emerson Shaw. Give me your best speech to your undead army(who will in all likelihood not even understand you anyways). Write your speech by commenting on this post.

 

*The three best responses will win a copy of the book.

The Green Gang: Shanghai's Underworld

Posted on October 28, 2015 at 3:10 PM Comments comments (0)

One thing I breifly mentioned in the Summary and Introduction for Opium Warfare as well as a video was the Green Gang. I thought I would give a bit more insight on the Green Gang about who they are and how they play an important role in the novel. First off, The Green Gang is a criminal organization in Shanghai. Members of the gang claim the origins of the gang date all the way back to the 1450's. While they relied on making money by acting as corrupt individuals their main source of income came from the trafficking of opium. It's worth nothing that upon considering a criminal organization for the book I considered the Yakuza and the Triads. However the Yakuza is a japanese gang and the Traid are the main Chinese gang. I didn't want to use the Triads and wanted something unique and more original so a simple Google search led me to find the Green Gang and how fitting was it? As you can see not only were they in Shanghai and operational during the time of my book but they also dealt in the dealings of opium, so it was a win win all around. So you know the basics about the gang and why I chose it for my book but let's talk about some interesting details you may not know and how it tied into the book and is useful to know overall about Shanghai.


Shanghai originally had two gangs, the green and the red and both were equal. Over the years the Green Gang began branching out in committing higher levels of crime it was wasn't too long after that they had established themselves as the lead gang in all of Shanghai. Like many crime organizations they are considered a secret society and their members were put into groups called fleets. These fleets were broken up into several hundred and each given specific tasks whether it be working a deal with the Triads or working the shipping systems along the rivers and docks. A very interesting fact is that very little illegal happenings go down in Shanghai without the Green Gang knowing. This shows that the gang is the elite of the illegal and if something goes down in Shanghai it can't do so until it goes through the Green Gang. The members come from a certain hierarchical manner. They are initiated by that of a blood oath. Those who have high ranking status in the gang are usually that of businessmen, politicians and high-interest bankers. The rest of the members were made up of everyday type citizens with jobs such as merchants, laborerers, other less influential politicians and even some military.


You know that saying? "I know people" or "one phone call"? Which is to state that a person has connections, well the Green Gang had connections...with French police. Since the Green Gang did opium trading with the French they needed people on the inside and those inside just happen to be the French authorities, now that's what I call having the right people in your pocket. One of the head authority figures in Shanghai was also in connection with the gang as he was a boss. This boss was in power during the early 20's when the opium smuggling was popular and right around the time of my novel. The Green gang broke two of their organizations under two different names when trading with the French. The French paid them and this also helped pay the top Frnch officials. There was also transactions to which covered all opium dens in France, this way the ones in Shanghai made the money and the extra cash covered the costs for their connections. In a nutshell, the Green Gang got most of the goods, most of the money and covered their tracks sufficiently. This is all noteworthy because not only does it tell you of the importance of the Green Gang to Shanghai but also shows that the time period to which Opium Warfare is set in is just right, making it a fitting historical fiction.


To read more about the Green Gang feel free to check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_Gang" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">this page and to read about how they operate in fiction be sure to grab a copy of Opium Warfare.

Anti-Drug Policies in 1920's China

Posted on October 26, 2015 at 11:35 PM Comments comments (0)

Someone brought to my attention and suggested that I discuss the anti-drug policies in 1920's China. I can first tell you that I had done no research involving anti-drugs when it came to my story for a few reasons. The first reason being regardless of what the laws are or were I wrote a fiction which went against whatever was true in this nature. Yes, I did incorporate a lot of factual aspects in the book but felt when it came to the opium itself, the regulations and rules needed to be as wide open as possible to give it real effect and show that the city was weak and accepting when it came to a possible outbreak. So were there real anti-drug laws in China in 1920? Yes, they have had longstanding ones in place since the 1920's. In the late 20's and early 30's opium was made illegal in communist controlled regions. During the 40's and later on the regulations and rules became more thorough and demanding due to people attempting to break the law and try to obtain the illegal goods. Basically, China did in fact have a drug problem in the 1920's just like they do in my novel, however my novel makes it more of a serious matter.

 


China’s drug problems while small in the 20's became more known and prominent in the later half of the century and early 30's so much that it is likely the reason for the rules and regulations made in place after the fact, The 40's from what I could gather was when China became more strict about the rules and regulations they already had in place. The main reason this was done was because of opium and later on more drugs associated with opium. Political and military conflicts also tied into the stricter rules in the 30's and 40's. It appears that the more China upped their rules the more people felt the need to break them and obtain drugs or that to which was deemed illegal to have. This is likely a pattern no matter what country but nevertheless also just like any country, China did what they felt they needed to do to stop the rise and distribution of opium/drugs in their country. Given that China had two opium wars long before the 1900's, it’s no wonder and worth mentioning that they already had several programs, documents and acts in place against the use, distribution and selling of opium and nacotics.

 


Throughout the years people always found a way to obtain the drugs just as today being the same. Many doctors practiced in belief that opium was a good pain reliever and many published books stating the belief and practice in the matter. It was because of this belief to which the country banned and made acts, seeing as opium was given out by so many doctors to relieve pain and to any one who could acquire it was no wonder the country tried so hard to prevent it from getting any worse. There was a prohibition and several treaties with countries to prevent future opium outbreaks because it was so severe. So were their anti-drug policies in place? Of course and they’ve been in place for hundreds of years and it wasn’t until the late 1920's that things started to get worse again and the Chinese government decided to look into the laws already in place and enhance them to prevent against a war or outbreak. My book could be considered a fictional aspect of a small outbreak that took place and because it happened it lead to the reason the Chinese government upped their game and enforced sticter rues in the end of the decade and beginning of the new one.

A Comparison of Shaojin and Trump

Posted on October 16, 2015 at 2:35 PM Comments comments (0)

As many of you may know Shin Shaojin is the antagonist of my crime thriller novel, Opium Warfare. However what do you really know about him besides the fact that he's a bad guy? Well for a simple explanation of him check out a post of him on https://www.pinterest.com/pin/320037117248422254/" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">pinterest. To be honest I don't really dip into Shaojin's past but tell you enough to give you an idea of the type of man he is. He is a businessman, perhaps the top businessman in all of Shaojin during the times. It isn't mentioned as to how he acquired such wealth but he owns his own business called Shaojin Enterprises and there are several headquarter locations throughout China not just Shanghai. I will give you one spoiler in simple terms that Shaojin is looking to expand his business ventures by having more buildings made in Shanghai which shows his willingness to try new things, expand and better Shanghai. Shaojin has backgrounds in fighting and hand to hand combat but never really mentions it as he is always looking forward and to the future. He's all business first and fun later type but what makes him tick? Why exactly is he so egotistical and arogant? Well there are several factors as to why this is which I will share.


I first took the ole cliche that most big head honchos of big businesses are full of themselves and only care about making more money and if it doesn't benefit them to some degree they aren't interested. This can be said about Shaojin. Also while most businessman tend to have you speak to one of their representatives and what not I sort of allowed people to be able to approach Shaojin which means he cares what people think about him and he's very quick to jump to conclusions and defend himself as he doesn't want to be misconstrued. Basically Shaojin while above people(or thinking he is) still cares what the everday man has to say about him, he's quick to snap at that person and doesn't care whether or not it hurts their feelings but in a way he cares about his image. Shin Shaojin does business with several other corporations and one can assume that he has business in overseas trading, real estate, and a Shanghai-esque Wall Street all to which accounts for his success and wealth.


Donald Trump, we all know who he is. Donald Trump is a modern day entrepreneur, a businessman who has a line of Hotels, clothing company as well as many other business type ventures. Also as you know he is running for president and it's because of this that we get to hear him and how he is. If you know Trump you know he too is egotistical, very rude, arrogant and foul mouthed. Trump thinks he's the king of swing and doesn't care if he offends people because he won't even admit to saying or doing anything wrong in the first place. Like Shaojin he is wealthy, arrogant and is quick to defend himself, always tried to get the last word in. He believes in himself a little too much and is probably his biggest fan, Shaojin can also be said to be his own biggest fan. Does Trump make good business choices? Absolutely there's no question about that and he also makes sure he follows up on topics and makes good points when need be. The problem is sometimes he goes too overboard or as any man in his position does, he jumps the gun, is quick to deliver and makes points and comes off like a total fool. He either tells you what you want to hear or tells you something as long as it's about him or benefits him.


Now everything I have said about Trump could be said to be my opinion but I'm merely basing my information off what Trump himself says and the way he portrays himself. I'm not telling you anything you probably don't already think yourself. Since I talked about what I based Shaojin off of, I'll get a bit more into Trump. Do you think Trump cares about what people think about him? No, I don't think he does and why should he? When your that full of yourself you only care about one person...numero uno, yourself. What does it say about him as a businessman? Well again I'm not downing businessman nor am I saying they are all alike I am merely really in and taking the ole cliche that most are arrogant, ego driven and while they have drive they are all about themselves. This to me is Donald Trump in a nutshell, sure every once in a while he surprises you by doing hospitality(whatever that may be) but in the long run he's the epideme of what I;m talking about, a wealthy man who thinks everything he says and does is right and if you call him out on it, he's going to tell you, put you down or say whatever he has to to make you feel bad for saying it.


Did I base Shin Shaojin off Donad Trump? No, not at all. At least not intentionally. When I created Shin Shaojin, Donald Trump wasn't even in my mind, in fact the old businessman of the day such as John D. Rockefeller and Henry Ford were people I had in mind. I then took those two men, visualized they were in another country and then gave them flaw after flaw until I had Shin Shaojin(That was a very brief assessment of what I did). Now that I look back and seeing as I'm writing this article I would say Shaojin definitely has traits that are similar and like Donald Trump. How are they alike? Well let's see:

-Ego Driven

-Arrogant

-Care what people think about them

-Are quick to defend themselves

-Wealthy

-Make points and want you to know they made it

-Tend to have slip ups when speaking

-They(pardon my French) know their shit:

-Are very blunt when speaking their minds


However, while they are similar they are also different. Aside from the obvious ones real and the other isn't Shaojin threatens those who oppose him, Trump at least to my knowledge does not. When someone calls Trump out or goes against what he says, he stays firm and takes them down and shows no weakness if only that he turns slightly redder then normal. Shaojin shows signs of weakness when someone catches him on something, he sounds lost as of what to say gets beat red and then decides how he wants to handle it. To put it in simple terms, Trump has one face, Shaojin has many. Basically what it comes down to is that Shin Shaojin and Donald Trump while alike are also very different. I'd give you numbers on their net worth but I don't find it irrelevant and plus I don't want any of us to feel like we are worthless or shells in comparison to these two men.


To find out more about Shin Shaojin please feel free to read about him in Opium Warfare


Donald Trump is actually quite familar with Chinese books and culture. Check out this article on an interview he had with a press agency of China, he listed 20 Chinese books that he had read, from memory.


Opium and Heroin: The Times Have Changed

Posted on October 9, 2015 at 5:10 PM Comments comments (0)

These days heroin is all too familiar in our country and culture. It has become an epidemic and there are way too many people dying from it. I'm not going to sit here and give you numbers on exactly how many because you probably have an idea for yourself as to how deadly it is and how many people it's killed. Also just take a guess and I'm sure your in the ballpark as to the amount. Why is heroin so big these days? That's anyones guess. I'm not familar with the drug world, I do not know how it operates but what I do know is basic information that any other normal person does: those who depend on it, it's easy for them to get their hands on it and will stop at nothing to get their hands on it. Heroin is the source of more deaths in the last two years than it normally has caused. Heroin is derived from an opiate and is made from opium..again known fact. The reason I mention this is due to the fact that this is the focus of thr article...heroin compared to opium itself and how compared to when opium was popular to how heroin is now and why exactly the two drugd while similar, one has a deadly effect and the other did not cause such a panic.


In my novel Opium Warfare, I take a very all too familar trend in both U.S and Chinese culture and put my own collective spin on it. I wanted to focus on opium because it was a popular drug and pass time of Chinese people back in the day. While I can tell you it probably wasn't as big as I make it in my novel in 1920s Shanghai, I assure you it was most definitely still active though my fictional telling of it creates a knowledge of it that while small it was there. I am not going to sit here and list ingredients of the drug, Google it if you must but know the two are similar but that heroin is made from several things and a heavier much more potent version of opium. Let me run a few questions by and answer them to fruther your wonder. Was opium as addicting as Heroin is today? -Yes, any drug is addicting and opium addiction is not to be taken lightly but if anything is to be known it's that back then opium was the only known drug at the time. Sure there was others but opium was the go to drug and people who did it didn't turn to other heavy drugs back then like they are likely to do now. Did people die from overodoses? -Yes, of course they did. Opium is the drug to which most drugs derive from so just like any drug, the effects can be deadly. -How does it differ from heroin today? -People didn't think of opium as dedly back in the day but we all know heroin is very deadly in todays society. Back then opium was a way of life, a practice and people would go to opium dens and have a good time, sure it got out of hands at times but the overall message wasn't to get high and waste your life, it was to extend it. The main difference between opium then and heroin now is that people celebrated and rejoiced and treated opium as a healthy way to life and incorporated it into their culture. Heroin now is like any heavy drug of today, we know the effects of it, we know it's bad, it can kill and we don't see those who do it as celebrating or living life to the fullest.


One thing I came across after reading "Confessions of an English Opium Eater" by Thomas de Quincey and researching on opium was that people were very casual and modest about their use with it. Nowadays if people do drugs chances are the only way you know is if they are strung out out of their minds or simple signs of drug use. When opium was popular centuries ago and during the time of my book, it was almost quiet and people didn't talk about stuff like that. Think of the 50's..look at all the stuff we do now that if it were done in the 50's would have sent people crazy! Well this is the same way with opium to heorin, if people abused opium as bad as they abused heroin, chances are we'd have some serious historical events back then to read about today. I'm not telling you opium was okay to use, no that's not the point to take here. The point I'm making is that back then it was a simpler time and now while it still is simple for most people, their are some who like those who abused opium back then, abuse heroin until the point where they are no longer alive to enjoy life. You could walk into an opium den with others there and enjoy yourself, you could probably have better control habits and know ones limits, today that just doesn't seem to be the case. Way too many people are dying from drug related deaths. It doesn't need to be said that no matter what time or decade it is, drugs are bad and have an ending result that no person wants but at one point, the effects were more clear, I only wish that the awareness or acknowledgement of it back then could be incorporated t today..maybe then people wouldn't be dropping like flies at the hands of overdosing on heroin or any other related drug.

10 Facts You May Not Have Known About Like A Box of Chocolates

Posted on September 11, 2015 at 3:50 PM Comments comments (0)

There are many things within the book to which people may know or have had an idea about. However as I am about to share, there are 10 things that you probably didn't know about the book. With that being said here they are:

10. The title was a Last minute idea

 

When you hear the title of the book you would think it was the first choice I came up with but the truth is it was the last. I had originally come up with titles such as The Mixed Book of Poetry, Mixed Book of Goodies and a lot of other less than catchy names, when I thought of Like A Box of Chocolates I realized it was perfect and very fitting.

 

9. Adrenaline Rush’s last line was changed

 

The second to last line in the poem within the book now reads “But now the body has become total mush” but it didn’t always read like that. Originally the line referenced the use of drugs in the form of using a needle but seeing as this was a bit extreme and there was already a few drug references in the book it made it easy for this to get dropped.

 

8. Rhyme scheme of Silverdust

 

Usually when poems rhyme they are known for either 1,1 2,2 or 1,2,1,2 however in the case of Silverdust a much different rhyme scheme is seen. The first word to start a new sentence in each line is rhymed with the last line of the following sentence and the last word in the first sentence is rhymed with the first word in the second sentence. Confusing I know but if you give it a read you’ll see what I mean. I thought of this while writing it.

 

7. Frozen Fire was altered a lot

 

I’ll admit Frozen Fire isn’t exactly the best poem in the book but compared to what it originally was it’s definitely a lot better. The original poem had weak rhymes and some of the lines either didn’t make sense or were misused homonyms. It was fixed up a bit and the last two lines were always there..your welcome.

 

6. The Prophet was a last minute add

 

As I explained in the Preface most of the poems titles were thought of by having people vote however toward the end some of them were poems I already had or just ended up writing. The prophet was one of the last poems I added. I also broke it into two sentence formats for a better feel.

 

5. The Immortal is about Vandal Savage

 

In the poem The Immortal, it doesn’t just tell of a random or completely made up character but is about the comic book villain Vandal Savage. While most would write about vampires when speaking of Immortals I decided to take a different approach and wrote about the less known comic book villain.

 

4. The Chemist and Killer Instinct share an Era

 

The Chemist in many ways is my version of Dr. Jeykll and Mr. Hyde and Killer Instinct is about Jack the Ripper. What’s interesting and on accident is that I put them both same pages back to back and Dr.Jeykll and Mr. Hyde was written in 1886 and Jack the Ripper began his killing spree in 1888, meaning they share a two year difference but are connected in the sense they are in the same era.

 

 

3. I consider Razorblades and Revolutions and Amongst the Shadows to be the two best poems in the book

 

Not to toot my own horn by any means but I believe these two to be the two best poems in the book for several reasons. For one I felt the rhyme scheme was very powerful and the lines all flow quite nicely. I feel the poems meanings are very deep and a lot more meaningful and really make you feel like an intricate story is being told. I put a lot of work into them and I feel they really shine off the pages.

 

 

2. There are several conspiracies within the book

One thing that makes the book interesting aside from it’s variety of poems and oddness is the several conspiracies within a few of the poems. I could tell you some of them but then where would be the fun in that? Just know that there are a few and read the book for yourself and see if you can pick them out.

 

1. The meaning behind the cover

When you see the cover I’m sure your asking what does it all mean? At first glance we see four characters in a bed and wonder why. Well not only do they all have meanings but it does past that as well. The man in the top hat is a Mortician and represents the poem The Mortuary, the skeleton for Skeleton Sex, the train conductor for Ghost Train, the Gorilla in a nightcap for Terminal Rage and the ninja ontop of the bed for Amongst the Shadows. The bed itself represents the poem Velvet Awakening and the fact it’s in space represents Starlight Express.

The bird and the clock on the back represent Upon the Strike of Midnight and the clocks weird morphed look is a reference to Salvador Dali’s work and is meant to represent Deadly by Design which talks about LSD.



Opium Use and Impact

Posted on September 4, 2015 at 3:35 PM Comments comments (0)

     If you trace the origins of Opium back to a certain date you’ll find that your going to be going a long way back. Opium has been used for many centuries and was a key asset and even was the reason behind certain organizations fall from power. The use of opium is no secret, it started off like most drugs do as a cure for an illness or ailment. However after a while people began to discover it’s true properties and began finding themselves using it for purposes other than just illness and ailments. Perhaps the biggest thing to take from this part is the fact that from all the way back then to now, people still continue to abuse drugs especially opium which of course has made it’s way into today’s society as a more lethal compound of a drug called heroin. However, as we go back through time we notice that the influence of opium was so great that it caused two wars. First the was the Opium War from 1839 to 1842 and the Second Opium War from 1856 to 1860. It was these wars that separated China from the rest of the world. The Opium Wars were not just about the drug itself but what else they represented which was the civilization of China as a whole and the balance between nations especially between the British.



 

The influence and impact of opium has taken cities by storm and cultivated a flurry of outbreaks throughout Britain and Eastern Asia as well as other places all around the world. The main source, spread and usage of opium however can be traced back to China. The Chinese relied heavily on China so much so that not only did it cause two wars but it left a big mark on the culture today as well. One of the main reasons I decided to write a book about opium wasn’t because of it’s checkered past but because of it’s past in general and that fact that the past has rolled over into the present day today and we here in America face the same struggles with drugs as they did in China with opium all those years ago. However let it be understood and noted that my book is of course written of fiction. While the location and places are of real nature the purpose of the book is to entertain and also enlighten a reader. To entertain them with a tale of a fictional 1920's Shanghai but to also perhaps tell the of a tale that reads all to close to home from the fact that opium is still alive and used today and that back then talks of it were in a fascinating state to which the people did not see the fears we face today. The book’s foundation and the main plot is just that; mixing in the past and the present to create a medium which is 1920's Shanghai.


For more information on the origin, usage and impact of Opium in China feel free to read the following https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_opium_in_China" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">article

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26090434-opium-warfare?ac=1" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Click here to find out more about Opium Warfare 

Chapter 1 of Opium Warfare

Posted on June 9, 2015 at 2:45 PM Comments comments (0)

*Please note the book has not been revised, edited or formatted so you may see issues within the chapter. This is to read and be enjoyed.


As a boy I remember my father telling me a bedtime story about the day my grandfather got decapitated. Sure it seems an odd tale to tell a young boy but I was strong and my father knew I could handle it. He told me because he wanted me to know about our family, where we came from, the struggles we overcame and that started with my grandfather, who was in the fur trade like his father. Business boomed but only because he made a deal with another man to help him with the money. When business got bad the money decreased and when my grandfather couldn’t pay his debt, he couldn’t pay the man back and it was in that moment that things changed forever. My father always said he knew not of the details of what happened entirely but knew my grandfather got his head taken off because he could not pay the man back. He also told me there was a myth behind the cruel act but swore to tell me when I got older; he never did. I always suspected it being something along the lines of grandfather’s head rolling down the top of a hill of the opium fields where he was killed, I always liked to mix my imagination along with the rumors.

 

Of course I’d like to tell you that was a different time and some things should stay in the past but sometimes you can’t control what may carry over into the present. It was 1885 when my grandfather was killed, that was thirty-five years ago. My father is now the same age my grandfather was when he was killed, I mention this because well I can’t help it. I know he doesn’t have a target on his head nor does he carry my grandfather’s blood money but I cannot shake that feeling of dread. I guess in some ways my childhood memories have finally caught up to me and how I should have been scared back then, I am now. Sure, the city of Shanghai had come a long way since those dark days but in a lot of ways it was no different then it was then. It still had it’s crime clearly visible right out in the open as any city does but this also meant if you were a kid running through the streets to run an errand for your dear mother you’d better take the back streets as best as you could. I have been fortunate in both cases; for I grew up when it was safe to walk the streets and I have no young one to fear may not end up back home. For the time being, the Tsang family tree ended with me.

 

Lately things seemed strange within the community. Something just seemed off about the general public. There was no efficiency when it came to coming together or the exchanging in friendly greetings and gestures. Always in a hurry, or kept to themselves in such a way that you thought maybe they all had death’s within the family and wished not to speak because of shock. Obviously this wasn’t the case but I just couldn’t shake it; me being a vibrant keep to myself young man I was curious and knew all to well of how things could change out of no where. There had been small talk of something going on within the community as the cause of it’s silent shakeup but I for the life of me could not figure out what that was or whether or not it was true. I first became suspicious of the cities activity after a day at the local market. Two men in business suits outside a local outside market on a Wednesday just seemed a bit off. I would have looked the other way and carried on if it weren’t for their demeanor. One guy seemed skiddish. He stood about 6'2 with a slender frame, black parted hair slicked back to where the back of his head was a small pony tail. Constantly making whispers to his friend while he kept looking around. I remember grabbing an apple and just glancing over into their direction only to notice the man’s odd behavior. The other just stood there with his arms folded as if he were guarding something yet there was nothing to guard.

 

He stood a bit taller then I at 5'11 and also had black hair though it was short. He also had a Fu-Manchu like mustache but clearly looked like he was trying way to hard, what a wannabe. My attention was diverted when a small boy about six years of age stole a good amount of fruit that he stored in a small sack. When someone chased after him I looked on with everyone else and then back to my own market goods. I then looked back over to my right shoulder to notice the two men were gone and what was even stranger is that they were no where to be found. I remember the young boy being dragged back to the market store as the guy who chased him had a firm grip of the boy’s shirt.

“Please, please I just need food for my brothers and sister’s” the boy said clearly scared.

I remember the man holding him looking over at the owner of the small marketplace and shaking his head. He put the boy down and he ran over to the owner and gave him a renminbi but it cost far more then that. I handed the man another four pieces to cover the cost and the man shook his head and gave me a smile before giving the boy a grin. The boy thanked me before running off. Before I handed the man the money to cover his expense I overheard the boy say something to him as to why he stole. It was in Chinese but I know I heard him correctly, he said “We have no money because of the Opi”. Odd thing to say and what did he mean by the Opi? As I thought about it I paid the man my money for my own goods and as I walked away I stopped and suddenly thought,

“Did the boy mean something else? I wasn’t sure what Opi meant but whatever it was the young boy knew it well and it led him to steal”

I had since forgotten about the incident until now, I don’t know why I’d forget such a thing but it just popped back into my head.

 

With so much going on in this place I decided to pay my old friend Liu a visit. I could always count on Liu to help me out with whatever whether it be someone to hang out with or if I needed a favor he was the man to see. More than likely Liu was on top of his roof. He liked to go up there and tend to his pigeons and if he wasn’t doing that he was usually jumping from building to building, sure it seems like a crazy thing to do but the buildings are close together and Liu knows what he’s doing. He was like many of us growing up always wanting to be a ninja; I grew out of that phase but not Liu. He was so determined to learn the way of the ninja that he once started a fight with a local gang from the block we used to live on. He went into that alley up against five guys and got his ass handed to him.

 

I watched from the window and then ran down to see if he was alright. His lip was gushing blood and he was beyond bruised but simply looked up at me and laughed. That’s the type of guy Liu was. I walked down the street Liu was on as he had the last apartment on it. Man, I thought, this place looked like crap since the last time I was here two weeks ago. A huge pile of garbage piled up against the building while the concrete blocks along the bottom were cracked, chipped and broken off mixed in with the garbage. One of the railings along the sides of the stairs was off it’s hinges to the building and dangling off. I couldn’t comprehend how a building could go from good condition to shambles in just two weeks. I made my way up the stairs and into the hall. I then made my way up the first set of stairs inside to the 2nd floor where Liu was. As I got to the 2nd floor I noticed the filth once more. The floor covered in trash, debris and whatever else one could possibly imagine. There was a small child playing in the doorway of the second apartment as I walked by. I got to the end of the floor and to the sixth apartment where Liu lives. I went to knock on the door but realized it was already open just slightly ajar. I knocked anyways and then slowly opened the door. I found Liu’s place almost completely empty. All that was inside was a dirty white mat where I’m guessing he slept, an old wooden chair with one of the back leg’s broken, a small dresser and table side by side. On the table and floor were what looked like broken glass and rug burns. I slowly made my way over to the bathroom to see if Liu was there but he wasn’t, just the toilet, bathtub and rusty, grim looking sink. Sitting on the sink was a broken piece of soap and hash pipe.

 

That’s strange I thought, Liu wouldn’t do drugs in fact he’s one of the most active people I know. I then wondered if I had the right apartment. I walked outside and looked at the number on the door which of course was in Chinese and read the number 6. Yeah, this is Liu’s place alright, maybe he moved I thought. I decided to go up to the fifth floor and get to the roof. If he wasn’t in there then surely he must have moved. As I made my way up the stairs I again noticed the uncivilized and filthy looking manner of the place. I truly thought I was going crazy. I know this was the place I was at two weeks ago in fact I walked the street to this place for a month straight when Liu first moved here. Yet in two weeks time since the last time I had been here the place had become a total disaster. The 3rd , 4th and 5th floor were no different from the 2nd. Dirty looking floors, stuff all over the place, dent’s in the wall and always at least one person hanging out in a doorway of their home.

As I got to the 5th floor I went to the EXIT door which brought me to the roof. I made my way out and was immediately hit by the bright sun just like I was always used to. After getting out of the sun’s ever so graceful stare I looked over to the left and saw four empty cages and laying next to the cages curled up in a fetal position was a man who I immediately recognized as Liu.

“Liu!”

He slowly rolled over and awoke before speaking.

“Hey man, how are you?”

“Liu what are you doing on the floor and why does your apartment look like crap?”

“Huh..oh I just..I shipped most of my stuff to Hong Kong, I didn’t tell you? I got a job as a stunt performer.

“No, you didn’t tell me, if I had known I would have helped you.”

“Nah it’s fine man I got most of it out.”

“This entire building has deteriorated and your place looks nothing of how you live. I saw a pipe to smoke Opium in your bathroom, what’s up with that? You don’t smoke.”

“I don’t know about the whole place, I really never noticed to be honest, been so busy. I told you I moved my stuff out so I haven’t really been staying here too much and when I do I’m usually up here jumping the buildings. Had to let the birds go, maybe I’ll take it up again in Hong Kong, you know?”

“And the Opium pipe?”

“Oh, a buddy that helped me move that’s his. Yeah, he introduced me to the stuff. Let me tell you, you want to feel metaphoric just disappear for a bit that’s what you do.”

“You never do drugs Liu, your one of the strongest guys I know”

“Psh..it’s nothing man, it’s not even a big deal, I’m fine see”

 

Liu gets up and brushes himself off. His white shirt was covered in a bronze and light gold like stain and was ripped at the right corner. We walked over to the other side of the roof and talked a little bit longer. I told him It was nice to see him and that I’d have to come visit him in Hong Kong first chance I got and he agreed. We said our goodbyes and I walked to the door. Liu yelled over to me.

“Just think, I’ll be doing this for a living!” he said as he jumped to the next building and ran off to the next.

I just laughed and shook my head, Liu was active and vibrant alright but he was also one crazy son of a bitch.

 

I made my way down the stairs and just kept walking not even acknowledging the people on the floors and the things I had noticed on my way out. I don’t know why it bothered me so much, the condition of the place, but I just didn’t get how in such a short time it went from livable to utter decay. As I made my way outside I walked back in the direction I came, I have nothing to do for the day so mine as well head back home. As I walked past the small alley between buildings I hear a loud thud. I glance over and oh my god Liu! Oh dear god I hope he didn’t fall, holy shit, holy shit! I rush over into the alley and look over and thank the heavens it’s not Liu or anybody for that matter. It’s a bag of someone’s trash. The order permuting from the bag is atrocious. It smells like a dead animal carcass wrapped up in a moldy blanket of rotten eggs and body odor. I run away from it as fast as I can and no sooner do I get away I see another bag of trash in mid flight soar down to the ground just hitting the other bag.God the people who live here are inhuman! Too lazy to take their trash to the back and dispose of it properly? No of course not, what was I thinking, I said people here are off but this is past “off”.

This was just part of what was wrong with the city. People just don’t seem to care anymore, they’ve gotten lazy and even the most simple of tasks seem unbearable to them. I’m just glad I’m not like that, to think of how easy some of us have it only to think that even easy is too hard. My father would call that Chinese wisdom, I call it an un-necessary paradox. As I walk the streets I glance over at Chao’s Deli. That’s funny, the place looks packed. Normally old Chao is lucky if he gets five people on a Monday afternoon and yet there he is with a full house of people. I sure am hungry but I would hate to wait a while for food but ehh maybe it won’t be so bad. I cross the street and stop in front of the entrance. As I look over an old woman gives me a glaring stare, I smile politely and she then smiles back revealing no teeth. I slowly glance back over to the deli and open the door. Hmm..doesn’t seem too bad.

 

As I approach the counter I am stopped by a man in a suit. He has slicked black hair and in the back a ponytail and what appeared to be a gun on his side. I suddenly remember it’s the man I saw at the market a few weeks back. Hmm..funny seeing him here, I wonder if his trusty sidekick is with him.

“Chao will be right with you, he’s currently taking care of some business” he says.

“That’s alright, I’ll wait. Say haven’t I seen you before?”

“Nah, can’t say I’ve seen you before. Please step back”

“Yeah, sure I have, you were the guy I saw at the market with that other guy.”

“I think your mistaken sir now please step back”

“No I’m sure I’m right it was you and another guy outside the market-

We were interrupted by the other guy who was all done talking to Chao. He grabbed his friend and they began walking to the door. I couldn’t help but watch them and I’m glad I did because the guy I was talking to didn’t take his eyes off me, clearly what I had said spooked him and he wasn’t letting his gaze off me. If he stared any harder I’d think id be afraid of him burning a hole through my skin. After they left I turned back to the counter where I was greeted by Chao.

“Ryu! Nice to see you my friend, nice to see you.”

“Hey Chao, nice to see you too. Say, what were those two guys doing in here?”

“Oh those guys? Just a bit of business about the building that’s all.”

“I’ve seen them around before, they seem a bit shady.”

“Oh..no..no Ryu they are just two men that work for the man who is trying to buy the building”

I could tell I was making poor Chao nervous so I decided to not ask him anything further.

“I’m sorry Chao, I didn’t know you were selling the place and I was just worried about you that’s all”

“Oh no worries my boy, Chao is not in any danger and I’m not selling the joint the man Mr.Shaojin just wants the building for his collection, he owns a few buildings on the block.”

I got the sense that Chao mentioning this Mr.Shaojin was him telling me more then he wanted to or was suppose to so again I just let it go and decided to order.

“Oh alright good to know your staying cause where else am I gonna get that Chow Mein Sandwich?”

“Ah ha, no where! And you got it, one Chow Mein Sandwich coming up. I don’t suppose I could interest you in this new sandwich they got over in the States, called a Tomato and Bacon sandwich could I?”

“Sounds tempting Chao but I’ll stick to the usual.”

“Alright, well have a seat if you can find one, oddest thing, I’m swamped today! Can you believe it?! Haha I’ll get your sandwich out to ya.”

I thanked Chao and decided to sit over by the window as a couple had just finished. As I placed my feet under the table my feet scuffed against something. I leaned down under the table and picked up what appeared to be a card. I put it to the window for light so I could see it clear. It read: No Wait. For A Better Future Today, Shin Shaojin, Shaojin Enterprises.

I quickly hid the card underneath my arm as it rested on the table when I saw Chao coming my way with the food.

“Here you are Ryu, Chao’s famous Chow Mein sandwich and one cold beverage”

“Thanks Chao”

“Your welcome, you tell your father I said hello”

I smiled and nodded. I couldn’t wrap my finger around it but something wasn’t right. There was no way Chao met with this Mr.Shaojin’s associate’s over just the building. What did old man Chao get himself into?

 

It was hard to believe Chao could have gotten himself into some trouble or suspicious activity. Aside from my mother’s cooking I practically grew up on Chao’s. I’d been coming in here since I was a boy with my father. Chao didn’t change much over the years, he’d always been a bit chubby but now he had white hair and looked a bit like Confucius, if Confucius ran a Deli in the busy streets of Shanghai. I finished up my sandwich and thanked Chao, he gave a quick wave back to me and I headed out. I looked across the street where I came from and noticed that woman that I had seen on this side of the street before I made my way into the deli. She was with a man who looked sickly thin. They both sat on the side of the house to which they lived I guess. As I looked closer I realized both had hash pipes in their hands and they were smoking opium.

 

I crossed the street and slowly passed them and they looked up at me but continued inhaling the vapor of the opium. As I walked passed them I stopped and shook my head. For at least the third time today I found myself thinking about or seeing evidence of opium. I don’t know if it’s a coincidence or not but I have a sudden feeling that perhaps my suspicions and observations of the city and opium are somehow connected. Maybe I’m just paranoid and it’s nothing but again, it all seems so strange. I took the card I had got from the deli out of my pocket. With everything else going on I almost forgot I had it. I thought back to when I was at the deli and I then glanced back down at the card. I wonder who this Shin Shaojin is and how it is he knows Chao. Chao seemed way too nervous for an old guy talking with a regular at his own shop.

Who are you Shin Shaojin and who are your associates?


If you enjoyed Chapter 1 and would like to read and know more about the book then feel free to join the Opium Warfare Book Group on Facebook where you can get exclusive access and contrinbute to the book as well. #OpiumWarfare #EmbraceThePoppies

10 Interesting Facts about The Macabre Masterpiece

Posted on February 24, 2015 at 11:15 PM Comments comments (0)

10 Interesting Facts about The Macabre Masterpiece

 

10. Rage of Hades wasn’t originally a Horror Poem

 

If you read “Rage of Hades” you immediately think wow this is gruesome and brutally honest horror from the lips of the Lord of the Underworld. Truth be told, it was never a horror poem. In fact it was a poem I wrote apparently when I was in a bit of rage myself and quite steamed. As I was going over poems I came across this and decided to add it in because if it’s sheer talk of brutality. I then gave it a title and the Rage of Hades as born.

 

9. “Vampires” was nominated for the 2005 Poem of the Year

 

This is something I don’t normally ever mention. While I was in high school was when I started writing poetry. During that time I wrote the poem called “Vampires”. I cam across a poetry contest in a magazine to which I submitted the poem. While it was nominated it didn’t win but they made me feel like a winner as I have a plague of the poem hanging up on my wall in my living room.

 

8. The title of the book came to me while sitting at my kitchen table

 

Believe it or not I had all fifty poems written with no title. As I sat at my kitchen table examining the paper that had all the names of the poems I asked myself what they had in common, which was horror. Even more so they shared something else, elements of Poe and then Macabre popped into my head and then from there Masterpiece found it’s way in and as I put them together, The Macabre Masterpiece was the title I decided on.

 

7. The Grim Reaper was not originally a horror poem

 

Another poem that wasn’t originally intended to be a horror poem in fact it never even had a title. However like Rage of Hades as I read over my pile of poems I came across this. I showed it to my father and he said it sounded like The Grim Reaper unsure of what to do with his new found title and powers. I read it over a few times before I saw what he saw. I then decided it fit the criteria and gave it the title The Grim Reaper.

 

6. There’s actually more Vampire poems then just the 4 in the book

 

Believe it or not as of right now there are seven parts to the Vampire series. I never included part 5 because I couldn’t find it kind of like part two(long story). Six and seven were recently written. Perhaps I’ll post them to my site some day for people to read.

 

5. The current edition is actually the 2nd edition

 

It’s no secret that I originally went with PublishAmerica to have the book published. What’s also no secret in the writing and publishing world is of how bad they are. Having been in a dispute with them over pretty much everything I finally got out of my contract with them in 2012. I had the cover re-done and the book edited before re-releasing it with Createspace.

 

4. There is a reference to “Macbeth” in “The River of Blood” poems

 

This is a fun fact that many may not have known. In the poem “River of Blood” there is a line which reads “In this river your hands will not be washed clean” this is a reference to Lady Macbeth washing her hands constantly as she sees blood on her hands when in reality her hands are clean but she merely feels guilty having committed a sinful act. It is again seen at the end of the poem with the ending line “Wash thy hands in the river of blood” and returns a third time in “The River of Blood pt.3" with the line “It’s time once again for the annual flood and for thou to wash thy hands in the river of blood”. Not only does Edgar Allan Poes work show up in this book but now you know Shakespeare’s does too.

 

3. The poem “The Screaming of Bloody Murder” was originally called Clue based off the popular board game

 

If you read the poem you sort of get the feel that it’s like one of those things where you can go stay and reenact a murder, if your really good with detail you’ll feel as though it sounds like the game Clue..well that’s because that was the original idea. I decided against it because I felt it was kind of corny and I wanted the poem to scare and not make people laugh. The last which reads “upon the cries and screaming of bloody murder” originally read “It was Colonel Mustard in the parlor with a wrench” ...I know I know, I should have kept it right?

 

2. I rhymed the word orange in “The River of Blood pt.3"

 

The River of Blood pt. 3 shows up on the list once again but this time for a reason far greater and actually has to do with the color to which Lady Macbeths hands are upon washing them a few times. The line reads” Yeah that river number one blood supplier and storage” to which I make the infamous rhyme of “turning the skin red, the mind a clockwork orange” Honestly I never realized how either absurd or impressive this was (whichever way you want to look at it). I don’t force rhyme but I liked storage and didn’t want to change it as I realized that orange sounded similar I couldn’t think of how to connect it, I thought of how blood is orange a few times after it’s washed but then A Clockwork Orange a book written in 1962 by Anthony Burgess and a film in 1971 by Stanley Kubrick stuck in my head. I knew it was a bizarre book and film so knowing just that I inserted it into the poem and not only did it fit and make sense, but the rest is history.

 

1. The original draft of the poem “Slaughterhouse” was far more graphic and gross then whats in the book

 

I liked to think that this would be a great rumor that I could have had going if I had gotten the word out about it. I could hear people saying, “They say he wrote an even more disturbing version”. However, I am confirming and telling you right now, that yes, the original verison was a lot different and much more graphic. So why didn’t I keep it? Why did I change it and keep the version you all can read in the book now? To be totally honest I was afraid of offending people. Don’t get me wrong I’m not afraid of shocking people in fact I’m sure some lines within other poems in the book are borderline offensive in some way but the intention of the original Slaughterhouse was just as it states in the poem, raw, unnerved, and disturbing. One example of this would be with the line, “Body parts of gutted people and animals desecrated and raw”. The original line went into detail about how the people were mutilated along with the animals as well. Not wanting to make people sick and not wanting to have PETA on my case I decided to tone it down and go into another direction. There was also a line that mentioned something about eating a filthy welcome mat and washing it down with a cold glass of blood fresh from the stomach of..you see I’ve already said too much. So that’s why we have the version that’s in the book. Will I ever let the public read the unedited, unreleased version? Ehh I don’t know, I think it might be too much...

http://smarturl.it/MacabreMasterpiece