More than two years since I posted. Life happens. Most everything on the site warrants updating. Slowly, I’ll get to it. I’ve not done much writing and am slowly getting back to that too. More to follow.

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Time Flies When Living Life

Summer is right around the corner, the deer are eating my garden, and darkness is lifting. Graduate school takes a toll – I mean, it is quite the time sink! The work is interesting and challenging. No new writing projects, but then, I have plenty of in-process projects to continue in between literature reviews, research, and assessments for Sport Psychology.  Enjoy your spring – I know I am!

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Update October 2017

Still writing, though I’ve begun a new graduate program in Sport PsychologyVAH head shotTwo projects I continue to work include updating the poetry book Literal: Defining Moments to reflect post election issues, and ready my MFA thesis (essays regarding my 33 year career including wars, peace enforcement, cold war, war on terror, and the era of persistent conflict ) for submission to an agent. The anthology writing projects are currently closed, and I may reopen them at a later date.

Postings here on the site will be occasional. Watch for an update regarding the Emerging Writer Prize coming soon.

Write On!


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Get Your Copy! Literal: Defining Moments

This summer I wrote a poem that my workshop mates called a call to action! I was encouraged to publish it and since there was not time to send it to to any publishers, in the centuries old tradition of poets before me – I’ve self-published it. This being the age of the independent author, I went with a reputable indie publishing company. Only to be come up against technical obstacles.  So the actual bound book and eBook files will be late. But thanks to a conversation with an old friend from high school, I’m sending the chapbook into the wild as a PDF. This particular version has a copyright notation that allows the PDF file to be shared.  Share widely. Literal: Defining Moments.

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New Chap Book – Literal: Defining Moments

literal-ebook-2A new book is coming out very soon. LITERAL: Defining Moments is my first chap book. The poem Literal is a language poem, following the meaning of words and creating a trail for the reader to follow. How often do we use words without thought to actual meaning?

It’s a political poem, because poets have a responsibility to bring the forth what doesn’t work in our world and our society. A deeply personal work, it is one I could not fail to create and keep true to what is integral to the fabric of who I am, an individual of integrity.

The book will be out soon in all the usual distributors. As soon as pre-sale is open, I’ll post it and I do encourage you to at least go read the pre-sale page, that will help boost inventory before the book is on sale in the retail venues.

I wrote this poem while participating in the Napa Valley Writers Conference this summer.

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The juju is back.

Returned last night from AWP 2016. I’ll just say up front, I signed up for #AWP16 last spring, long before my year of horror erupted. I was invited on two panels, and both were accepted. Once the tribulations of this year from hell began, I pretty much forgot about AWP. Before I knew it, I had a week to get ready. I almost flaked and didn’t go. Things are still pretty tough even though moving a little forward.

I’m glad I didn’t flake.

The two panels were well put together and well received. I thought we’d be the only veterans panels and I was so wrong on that. A dozen or so veteran oriented panels and readings. I met some outstanding military writers, veterans and spouses.

More than that, I came to the realization that the more than a decade of procrastination on my book, the collection of memoir essays about my military service has been in part due to the muzzle of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell that I was subjected to for all but the last year of my career.

A big ol’  crack in that OD green/BDU/ACU camouflage Berlin wall closet was struck during #AWP16.

I’m coming out from under my rock. I’ve got my mojo back on. The juju is back. The ones who shall not be named be damned with their piddlyshitasshat meddling in my family’s life. If need be, I’m going back to da Nile so I can get my creativity back in play.

That said, sent in my application to the Napa Valley Writers Conference today. (Priority admission deadline 23:59 tonight!). Wrote a book review today. Check it out.

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Back at it. One thing at a time. First….writing. The rest, in time. For the time being I’m concentrating on writing. Once that is back in sync, Three by Five will come out of hibernation. Book reviews will return later. There you have it. The pieces are being put back together.


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If you006 follow this site, you know for the last six months or so, something has been off. Posts are late, Three by Five interviews are late or don’t happen, no reviews have posted, no blog postings.

The truth is life is getting in the way. We’ve had a lot going on in my family, and have been dealing with an unfortunate disagreement with a neighbor that resulted in a lawsuit, stress related illness, and an accompanying inability to concentrate on more enjoyable tasks as a result. I’ve been unable to engage consistently in other things or concentrate at work, which is tough when the work is creative writing.

So, I’m not getting any writing done and I’m overwhelmed with those writing tasks that keep me from creative writing too. Guilt and failure are overriding emotions related to this.

I’m putting everything on pause so I can regroup. And stop beating myself up about not keeping up.

If you are on the schedule for Three by Five, you’ll be first up when I come out of hibernation.

If you want to be on the Three by Five deck, still email and I’ll put you into the rotation. I just can’t say when the rotation will pick back up.

Current calls for submission noted on this site will continue but, I am reviewing their viability given the low rate of submissions. So if you’ve been thinking about submitting your story for Dress Right Dress or DADT, do it now or risk the project called off due to lack of interest.

This is a radical action, to temporarily abandon the hard work I’ve built into this site over the past ten years. If this torpedoes my “platform” so be it. Right now, it’s time to take care of myself and my family so I can return and hopefully get back to providing a useful, informative, supportive site for emerging writers and authors. And more importantly, start writing again.



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In November – Novelist Chase J. Jackson

Chase J. Jackson, writes mystery, thriller, and suspense. unnamed-1

VAH: The kick off question is always why do you write?

CJJ: I write because writing is one of the most powerful forms of self-expression. I love the idea that I can create characters, dialogues and situations that people can relate to and can get a message from.

VAH: What got you started?

CJJ: I became a writer in the 4th grade. I remember my teacher gave an assignment with a variety of words listed and we had to create a story using those words. I wrote the story and when the teacher gave me my assignment back she asked if I got that story from somewhere. I told her I didn’t and she said it was really good. That’s when I felt like a writer.

VAH: Who were your influences:

CJJ:  R.L. Stine Goosebumps and Fear Street books influenced me as a writer. My friends and I collected all of them when we were in elementary school.

VAH: What do you remember about one of your earliest stories?

CJJ: I remember writing a story in the 6th grade about one of my classmates. The teachers thought he was funny, girls loved him & all the guys thought he was so cool. So I thought, this guy has to be an alien. There’s no way someone is this well rounded in the 6th grade. So I remember writing a story about him being an alien.

VAH: And your favorite piece that you’ve written?

CJJ: My favorite piece that I’ve written to date is my first novel, Whispers In The Dark. I spent a lot of time working on this book and developing the characters and making sure there was a message that readers can take from this story.


Chase J. Jackson Bio:

Born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, Chase J. Jackson developed an interest for writing suspense and mystery at an early age after reading all of R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps books. As a teenager, Chase began writing short stories and poetry based on his experiences. After winning a local poetry slam, Chase decided to bring his writing to life through the art of film. During his collegiate career at the University of West Georgia, Chase studied literature, cinematography, and film editing, ultimately graduating with a bachelor’s degree in English. Working two jobs to save money for film equipment, Chase filmed one of his short stories, Paralysis, which chronicles a teenager named Alyssa as she battles with sleep paralysis. In 2011, Paralysis was nominated for Best Film by The Peachtree Village International Film Festival.After college, Chase dedicated his time to writing his first novel Whispers in the Dark. Chase’s goal is to keep the readers interest from the very first page to the very end, keeping them on the edge of their seat until an ultimate surprise ending. Chase’s future plans include writing his second novel, The Parish Prophecies, and traveling across the country to film other various projects.


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Sam Slaughter – the Writer’s Life


1932805_10152273115942354_772377606_oVAH: Today the third and final installment with Sam Slaughter as we talk about the writing life. Sam – are you a full-time writer?

SS: I am indeed a full-time writer, though what I write tends to range widely. I get paid to be a copywriter for a health and wellness company here in Central Florida. That is my Monday through Friday job and as far as writing jobs go, I enjoy it. It is the first (paying) writing job that I’ve held that allows me to work creatively and collaboratively and since so much of my other writing is done by myself, I revel in the atmosphere around me.  In addition to that, I try and write something else (creative work of some sort, or book reviews) every morning before work. I’ve found that trying to do so after spending all day in front of a computer never works so I gave up trying.

VAH: So how do you get going the page/screen is blank?

SS: Stubbornness, sometimes. A glass of bourbon other times. I read somewhere that Russell Banks suggests that three drinks is the perfect amount to drink while writing, if you are into that. Now that I write mostly in the morning, I don’t drink, but I have found it to be beneficial previously.  Running also helps me because it isolates me and the voices in my head, allowing me to focus on something that I could write.

VAH: “Voices in your head,” such a good way to describe an author’s head space! What is your process when working on a new piece of writing?

SS: I hear it or see it or whatever it in my head long before I put anything on paper. Usually it starts with an image or a line and I build it out from there using the typical journalistic questions of who when and most importantly why. As a writer I’m always observing (I think there’s a certain point when you can’t not people watch whenever you’re in public) and plenty of times I’m left going what the hell or why would he do that. Those are the moments I build off because I’d much rather make up a person’s life story using what I can see than hear what actually happened, truth stranger than fiction be damned.

VAH: Getting your work out there – do you have a submission system or plan?

SS: I take what was referred to somewhere as a Hydra approach. I’ll send out a story (usually I’m sending out two or three or however many are ready at the time) to three places. When I get a rejection, I’ll then send it out to two more places, like a hydra getting its head chopped off. I don’t know if this is effective or not, but it makes me feel like I’m being somewhat productive.

VAH: What does your typical writing day include?

SS: When I wake up and drag myself about of bed, I make some coffee and boot up my computer.  I’ll either start a new piece or pull up an old piece to edit.  By around 7:30 I get ready for work. At work, I work on various projects—whatever is needed. During lunch or if I have a free moment, I try and use those to read or write down some notes or sentences on whatever I’m working on.  Night time I usually reserve for reading and just letting my mind wander around whatever it needs to in order to be able to write the next day.

VAH: Sam, what would you like to share about your current work?

SS: Last year I finished my first novel, DOGS.  I am currently shopping it while I work on a variety of other projects, including a second novel. The working title of the novel is Alternate Frequencies and will be an exploration of communication and love, of the desperation born out of not being able to talk to your own child even when he is in the very same room, and the lengths to which a parent will go to show his love. When he is only two, Markus Van Dennen is involved in a serious car accident, landing him in a six-month coma. His father, Chuck, escapes with minor wounds.  Throughout his time in the hospital, Markus’s grandmother sits by his side listening to old time radio shows. When he finally does wake up, life is different for Markus. Whenever he is around people, he sees them talking, but he doesn’t hear what they’re saying. Instead, life plays out like a radio show for him. Some days are dramatic, some unfold like a detective’s mystery, some are just plain funny.  His family, already strained from the previous six months not knowing whether or not Markus would live, are knocked off balance when they realize Markus doesn’t really hear them. Chuck and his wife, Darcy, are at odds over what to do about Markus while their older daughter Jane tries to keep the family together no matter what. Daily, Chuck and Darcy fight over what to do. Both want Markus cured, but amidst their fighting not once do they think Markus might be happy how he is. Jane is forced to watch as Darcy offers an ultimatum, threatening to walk out of the family if Chuck does not agree with her plan. Chuck, forced to show where his devotion lies, must make a decision that will effect the rest of his and his family’s lives.

VAH: Thank you Sam, for taking some time with Three by Five and sharing about your writing life.

Sam Slaughter was born and raised in New Jersey and currently lives in Central Florida.  He was educated at Elon University and Stetson University. He has fiction and nonfiction published or upcoming in a variety of places, including McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Midwestern Gothic, The Circus Book, The Review Review, and Heavy Feather Review.  He is the Book Review Editor for The Atticus Review and a Contributing Editor at Entropy. He was recently awarded the 2014 There Will Be Words Prize and his first chapbook, When You Cross That Line, will be published in 2015.

Social Media:

Twitter:  @slaughterwrites
Instagram: @slaughterhouserising
Website: www.samslaughterthewriter.com

Sam Slaughter Sampler:

1) An excerpt from DOGS, published at Revolution John

2) Part 1 of the story “Fame in the Graveyard,” published at The Circus Book

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