We Have A Winner!

Image by Lucie Hall (Linoleuim block print)Hello, Internet! Some of you may remember in the build up to the Cetus Finalis release, the announcement of a giveaway contest. One lucky writer would be chosen to receive a dual autographed copy of Cetus Finalis (signed by myself and the cover artist, Lucie Hall.) I am pleased to say that the winner has been chosen. His story, a short fiction about himself, a travelling companion, and a massive cetacean, cinched the judging with its oblique wit.

This whale tale was written by Oregonian Steven Joiner, a former director at Idealist.org, and I’ll stop there because his resume is longer than a silent movie. His online hub is www.stevenjoiner.com, and it worth a click-over. Steven sent in this story featuring a whale, but added a consistently creative twist that I could not resist. I will leave the rest to you, but enjoy the play, and places.

Steven Joiner Sports His Favorites

Steven Joiner Sports His Favorites

Steven recently received his dual autographed copy of Cetus Finalis, and was kind enough to send in a photo, all the while representing his favorite team, the San Francisco Giants. Cooler than autumn, I say. Thank you, Steve!

Without further ado, I present you with the winning story of the Cetus Finalis short story giveaway, the illustrious Steven Joiner’s original work, Sans Juan In The San Juans!

(Note: All location links were included by the author.)

Sans Juan in the San Juans: A Pacific Northwest Whale of a Tale

This is the tail of what should have been a lovely day on the water paddling amidst the islands of the Puget Sound. Despite my protests, I agreed to meet my friend Juan at Point Defiance Park. I was running late as I’d stopped on the way Tacoma my hair but wasn’t worried as Juan’s always Vashonably late.

We met and set out for what we thought Whidbey a lovely day. Paddling north, we wended our way among the ferries and cargo ships bound for the island betwixt the US and Canada. Which Juans you ask? The San Juans of course.

After a short but meaningless delay near Point No Point Lighthouse it became oddly silent as we traversed Mutiny Bay. We were definitely feeling the flow passing Fort Ebey and even offered to pick up a couple under-aged passengers heading for Minor Island.

Since we were krilling it and way ahead of schedule, we took a Victoria lap enroute to Orcas Island. But, as we crossed the Strait of Juan de Mutha Fuca, the water got choppy.

Cresting a frothing wave, we unexpectedly found ourselves dropping onto the back of an Atlantic gray whale. As we braced for impact, we did not have the luxury of settling into our cognitive dissonance to consider, a) they were extinct and b) we were off the Pacific Ocean.

Juan cried out, “Lord, if this is to be our finalis moment, please cetus next to you in heaven!”

The impact jolted me out of my seat, my either and my oar flying from my hands. The whale dove and our boat slapping the water with the force of a bug hitting a windshield, frothy whirls of shard and splinter.

The current turned me in time to see the broken back half of our boat, still afloat. Juan, legs splayed, baleen out water with his safety vest. From his temple, a stream of blood.

“Juan! Water you doing?!? You have a vested interest in jumping!”

The dulled eyes that rose to survey me told me how this tale would end. With slurping speed, Juan, still baleen, and the boat disappeared into the breach.

And that is how I ended up floating, awaiting rescue, in the San Juans sans Juan.

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ArrivalI watched Arrival in a packed theater with some rock star nerds, Erik Davis and David Gill among them. I’ve been waiting for a movie like this for a while. It invests heavily in storytelling, which can renew the viewers attention span. Some moviegoers thought it slow, mostly because it lacked prolonged violence or sensory assault scoring.

Twelve alien ships the size of skyscrapers land on earth and open channels for communication. Trouble is, no one knows what they are saying. During the course of deciphering mutually incomprehensible languages, they discover they can communicate with writing easier than with speech, and that the aliens’ written language gives some very interesting clues into the nature of space and time.

All the while, Arrival is a deeply personal movie. Like Robert Reed’s Beyond The Veil Of Stars, or Carl Sagan’s Contact it needs to be driven by characters. Here the movie does need some shoring up. With a marked lack of violent action, the demand on actors’ faces to actually emote becomes ever more important. Amy Adams does very little with her face, from a dramatist’s standpoint; a bit more range would have been nice. She played the character flat.

Most of the time, this expression.

Most of the time, this expression.

My favorite thing about Arrival was its ending. Despite the suspense, the international political tensions, the itchy military trigger fingers, the climax of Arrival can not be resolved without an increased knowledge of the human heart. The whole time the building tension of the movie is suggesting go-for-the-guns, go-for-the-guns. Yet when the time comes to cut the Gordian knot, you don’t need to go for the guns; remain calm, observant, communicative.

By movie’s end, the theme and message are worth talking about, and for days afterwords. With all of our potential for destruction, how do we stay tuned to the qualities that make us thrive? Go see it and get back to me!

Good movie!

Good movie!

Thank you for reading. Reading rules!

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New Year Launch Report

Hello, readers, and welcome back! Cetus Finalis launched! Oh, and how! Though it’s only a memory, I want to thank all of you again for making it such a stimulating and special event. The smiles and riles, the slanting sun, the crisp libations, the warm hearts, and vibrant art – it was a charmed day. We laughed like trains.


David Gill himself showed up and sat by my side; better than a birthday party. The inimitable Raffael Abramson and lovely Stephanie Shyn were first on the scene, with a passion for spreading the word, and last to part ways, even getting me home after dinner; nothin’ but love, y’all!


Alex Streczyn-Woods and Rachel Dossey contributed invaluable input on t-shirt designs and made me feel like an artist on the town! Gabe and Elsa Westray warmed me like the sun when they stopped by to get their long-awaited copy. Katie Renz confessed her romance with whales, and commended the conservationist theme in the novel. Justin Dossey approved the entrepreneurial spirit of the affair. Nowell and Sadie Valeri visited their subtle and rich artistic sense upon our discussions. The charismatic Chris Dickerson and talented Kundan Budwain brought their welcome blessings and some information which may lead to a Booksmith appearance. Chris Vukicevich bought a book for his darling mother. The pleasure hammer really dropped when none other than badasses Danna Sweidan and Sam Scott arrived, driving more than a hundred miles to surprise me in my element. Thank you Jessica Steger for keeping the secret! 😀 Sweet Kendra Wall and spicy Maryanne Diaz bought me a parting shot while Raffael brought the car around. Thank you to Mark Allshouse, Beth Mickelson, Sally Thompson, and Lindee Frankel for coming to the table; especially to you Lindee, for booking me at Finnegan’s.


Everyone fawned over Lucie’s gorgeous cover, and every single whale-printed item she made for the launch sold out before the shirts did. For those of you who are interested in more Cetus Finalis whale stationery, accessories, and wall prints, stay tuned! The talented and gracious Lucie Hall is in her workshop!


We rambled on into the evening. Lucie and I’s plan to have a quiet dinner together after the event and digest the experience was happily dashed. Thanks to cider, bourbon, and puffinstuff, a bistro dinner for 2 morphed into a party of 6 at Rosie’s Cantina; margarita pitchers, extra chips and salsa, and the last rootin’ tootin’ table to leave. A special thank you to Kristin Reinsberg for designating herself as the driver. We all got home safe and sound, packed to the brim with gratitude.


Note: as of the posting of this report, Cetus Finalis has broken even. Dear readers, you killed it!!! Thank you for reading. Reading rules!

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