The Forest Bed: Free ebook

Blogger and writer Shaily has a wonderful offer. Her new book of great short stories is FREE from Amazon on Kindle. And you don’t have to be a KU member! If you get a copy, please leave her a fair review.

Short Stories | Fish-eye Perspective

It is finally here! My very own short stories collection: The Forest Bed and other short stories. After long delays for ‘technical’ reasons, my book is finally available worldwide as an ebook. What’s even better?

The ebook is free.

The Forest Bed ebook is available to readers worldwide for free on Amazon Kindle

Offer valid from June 22, 2021, 12:00 AM PDT till June 26, 2021, 11:59 PM PDT.

  1. Open your Kindle app.
  2. Type The Forest Bed in your Search bar.
  3. Select the book.
  4. Download and read.
  5. Provide an honest review.

Or depending on where you live, you can find it on Amazon. Just click the relevant link below:

Amazon.com

Amazon.in

Amazon.co.uk

Just type in the comment box if you can’t find it. I’ll provide the link.

Book in Print: If you are more of a love-the-smell-of-books person like me, you can order the printed book from Amazon or…

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Short Story Collections

Free Books and Samples. Short story collections this time. Check out Stevie’s post!

Stevie Turner

Are you too busy to read long novels? If you are, then you might like this BookFunnel promotion, which features 18 collections of short stories and runs until June 12th. You will be able to download free books and/or samples by clicking on the link below:

https://books.bookfunnel.com/short-stories-on-bookfunnel/7pj2z8oqkp

I have added ‘Understanding‘ to the promotion, a collection of true and significant life events told not only by myself, but also by 19 of my author friends. Here is a review written in May 2019:

4.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Stories of the Struggles in Life that Lead to Joy and Peace

Reviewed in the United States on May 1, 2019 – Verified Purchase

I’ve delved into this book as if reading/listening to the lives of good friends who have gone through traumatic times, and come out of them with insight and wonder to write about them. Each ‘chapter’…

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Thinking Aloud On A Sunday

Reading Your Own Writing.

I have mentioned many times recently how I have lacked the concentration to read this year. Since January 2020, I have started three books, bought seven more for my Kindle, and two paperbacks. And I have not finished reading a single one. I am hoping that my desire for reading will come back soon.

However, I have been reading my own fiction. Ever since I started to feel ill three weeks ago, accompanied by the constant rain that stopped me wanting to venture out any more than I had to, I have been revisiting my own fiction from a different prespective. I have approached it as a reader, not the author. Some of my earlier short stories could do with better development, but I am happy with how I progressed with those, especially the series of photo-prompts.

I went back over some of my better serials, reading them first as a serial in parts, then as the ‘complete story’, in one go. When writing them, I read them constantly. I edit as I go, read the edit, and then read the whole thing before pressing ‘Publish’. But I read it as a writer; looking for errors, duplication of words or phrases, incorrect character names, and so on.

I have never read it as a reader, coming to it fresh.

I soon came to the conclusion that I don’t think they work as well as a complete story. They are written to be read in parts, and that seems to jar when getting through around 30,000 words. Although I am happy to compile them for readers who prefer that, I definitely think they read better as a serial, and flow better too.

Some of my serial fiction has complex structure, as in ‘The Old Remington’, where the events of one day change the past the next morning. Or ‘Little Annie’, which was told backwards from the ending. Two serials are very personal to me. ‘Benny Goes Bust’, which has a lot of ever so slightly altered details of my own life woven in, and ‘Vera’s Life’, based on the true story of my family and their neighbours during WW2.

But after a few weeks or reading my own stuff as a ‘reader’, I have decided that ‘The River’ might be my best work so far. Not only did I manage to tackle a setting in small town America, but it also stretched over a period exceeding twenty years. Without sounding boastful, and having just read the whole thing again yesterday, I reckon that one is pretty good.

If I say so myself.

Writing Challenge: Opposites

Maggie from https://fromcavewalls.wordpress.com/2020/08/09/a-writing-challenge-opposites/ is doing a writing challenge based on the above photograph. The idea is to find inspiration for two completely different emotions from the same picture, and write two short stories. I thought I would try it, as I rarely do blog challenges.

1) Grief.

Scott.

Walking across to the car at the usual time, Scott felt his phone vibrating in his jacket pocket. He had been in a meeting until finishing time, and it was only polite to have turned off the ringer. He smiled as he looked at the screen and saw the picture of his lovely wife come up above her name. No doubt she would be in Mario’s convenience store, and calling him to ask what flavour ice cream he wanted after dinner, or whether they should have some white wine later this evening.

Swiping up the green buton, he smiled as he spoke. “Hi, honey. If you’re asking, I will have chocolate chip, and it’s a yes to wine too”.
There was a pause, and he didn’t recognise the voice that replied.

“Sir, this is Officer Martinez of Metro Division, who am I speaking to please?” Scott felt a chill run up his back.
“Why have you got my wife’s phone? Oh, I am Scott Andersen, and you are using my wife’s phone. Annie’s phone”.

The pause that followed made Scott’s heart beat faster, too fast.
“Sir, I have to tell you that there was an armed robbery at a convenience store. The owner was shot and killed, along with a young woman, presumably a customer. She’s around twenty five years old, five feet-two, short blonde hair, wearing jeans and a sweatshirt. They took her purse, so we have no I.D. I found this phone in her back pocket. Your number was first in the list of recent calls. Does that sound like your wife sir?”

Scott tried to reply, but couldn’t speak through the tears. He didn’t think he would ever be able to speak again.

2) Self-pity.

Kevin.

As the concrete started to set around his legs and feet, Kevin was surprised by how hot it felt. Uncomfortably hot in fact. The man sitting across from him was leaning back in the captain’s chair, a smirk on face. “So you thought we weren’t serious? You thought you could take us for fools? Look where that got you, Kevin”.

It had started out the way most of those things do. Too much on credit cards, an expensive car he couldn’t afford, and a luxury apartment too fancy for one guy on his own. Kevin liked to impress people, make them think he was somebody. Hand-made suits, the right watch on his wrist, and the right girl on his arm. But it all cost money, money he didn’t earn as a realtor, especially when the bottom had dropped out of the housing market.

But he knew someone. Someone connected. He had sold him a house, a very expensive house with its own lake frontage and private boat dock. It was obvious the guy wasn’t kosher, but he didn’t care, as he made the sale and got the commission. Mr Anzorov was an American citizen, but only God knew how he managed that. After he signed the house purchase papers, he shook Kevin’s hand. “Come and see me if there’s anything I can do for you, Kevin”.

So Kevin went to see him, and asked for a loan of twenty thousand dollars. Anzorov handed the money over without hesitation, then spoke quietly. “So here you are. You understand that you now owe me forty thousand dollars, Kevin? No paperwork, just a handshake. You have six months to pay me back the forty thousand, or you won’t like what happens. Please take me seriously, Kevin”. Kevin nodded, but already knew he had no intention of taking him seriously.

So what was he going to do? Some old Russian guy with a big house and a clothes-hanger trophy wife. He could hardly go to the authorities, or through the courts. He was bound to have some skeletons in his cupboards. Kevin forgot about Anzorov, and enjoyed spending the money. He even had a nice vacation down in Grand Cayman. The six months passed, then nine months, and Kevin smiled to himself when he heard nothing.

Two men approached him as he left the office on his way to show a house. One opened his coat and showed him a gun in his waistband, and the other grabbed his arm in a friendly gesture and walked him over to a minivan parked nearby. When they sat him down in Mr Anzorov’s home office and placed his lower legs into a large container, he was sure it was a joke. Then he was sure it was just a scare. Then when they started to mix the concrete in the container, he was no longer sure about anything.

As the tears flowed, all he could think about was the lake, and that private boat dock.

Unfit Magazine: Volume 4

The latest edition of Unfit Magazine is out soon.
This is an idea of what you can find inside.

Overture
Some say the first real science fiction story is Frankenstein. This classic has always fascinated me because Dr. Frankenstein, the creator of the monster, was actually trying to make the world better through the application of technology. Little did he know how wrong his experiment would go. He could cheat death, but there were deadly consequences. And out of this we find the basis for many modern science fiction stories in which technology is ultimately evil, technology leads us to an unpredictable and dangerous future. It’s the fear of technology that many modern stories root themselves into, and the evil that ensues, that they thrive upon.

“The Hitter” by Emily Devenport is perhaps the best short story she has ever written, in my opinion. For some people, life is arrested, meaning they remain the same age until they die. Unlike Frankenstein, this one was a positive twist at the end.

“Eternal Boiler” by Taiyo Fujii is one of the first stories I’ve had translated. I’m a big fan of Taiyo and his brilliant book, Gene Mapper. The story here deals with immortal coils, engines that keep the world running. Translated by Toshiya Kamei and edited by David Grigg.

“The Algorithms for Love” by Ken Liu is, in his words, inspired by Ted Chiang’s “Division by Zero”. A man meets a woman raising a child, but he’s unaware the little girl is really a doll. Then they have a real child. It gets complicated.

“The Year of the Rat” by Chen Quifan is, many would agree, one of the best science fiction stories ever written. Mutated rats are hunted by unemployed college graduates who are despondent with life. Translated by Ken Liu.

Like the original Frankenstein, these stories play with the value of life, of tampering with the original biological design. However, they don’t all have a frightening theme. Technology isn’t exactly evil in some of the stories. It’s more like the applications are either misunderstood or the technology goes beyond expectations. I put these stories in this magazine because they take science fiction farther than the classics did. I think they’ll surprise you in many ways.

Here is a shorter explanation of the stories as appears on the back of the magazine.

• “The Hitter” by Emily Devenport is the story of the first and last inhabitants of a dead planet and how they remain there undetected.
• “Eternal Boiler” by Taiyo Fujii tells of the transformation of the world by an ammonia based engine and the folly of those who adapt to the changing technology all too quickly.
• “The Algorithms for Love” by Ken Liu puts a a real daughter in the lives of a couple raising an artificial doll.
• “The Year of the Rat” by Chen Quifan tells of modified rats being hunted by special extermination squads.

Follow this link to find out more, or to buy your copy.

Shop

Fictional rule-breaking

Most of you are aware that I write a lot of fiction on this blog. Just lately, I have been posting a daily serial that is currently twenty-three episodes in, and I have written close to four hundred stories and serialisation episodes over the last seven years. A few of my stories have been published elsewhere too, in magazines and on websites.

None of these fictional pieces have ever been subject to the attentions of a professional editor or proof reader, though David Miller very kindly emails me with errors he has spotted, or the incorrect use of the wrong character’s name on occasion.

I started writing stories at junior school, and most were well-received. On three occasions, I won a prize for them, in my English class. But back in the early 1960s, teachers were strict, and their adherence to grammar and English even stricter. That carried on into my secondary school, right up until the time I left to start work. Lots of rules. Rules about sentence construction, when to use a new paragraph, how much punctuation was acceptable, and how to show events through the eyes of characters or observers. I kept to those rules.

When I decided to start writing fiction again, I made a conscious decision to ignore a few of those rules. A lot of them, in fact. I would write the stories as I saw them in my head, more or less as if transcribing a film I was watching. If that didn’t work for some readers, then so be it.

One golden rule is that a dead character cannot tell a story. If they are dead, then how did we know what they did, or what they were thinking? Films deal with this dilemma by using flashbacks, or camera angles that show the viewer a reaction. The eyes of a strangling victim will show terror to the viewer, but in literature, we cannot say ‘She stared at her killer in terror’, because she cannot have told us that. We have to say something like ‘He noticed the look of terror in her eyes’. In one of my serials, a young girl notices the unusually white smile of her murderer. But how could I know what she noticed, as he had killed her?

I resolved to ignore such rules, and write the fiction in a style that I enjoyed.

I also use a lot of commas. My English teacher used to write on my essays in a red pen, ‘Too many commas!’ She would put a small ‘X’ next to every one of them she felt was unnecessary. The same with paragraphs. A red line with the capital letters ‘NP!’ I can still see all her corrections in my mind even now. But I am no longer in her class, so I don’t have to follow her rules anymore. I write sentences, paragraphs, and character conversations as if I am speaking them. So I use commas for natural pauses, like taking breaths. Not ‘proper grammar’, I know.

But I don’t care.

So if you have ever noticed any glaring errors in my construction, writing, or interactions between characters, that’s why.

I intentionally break those rules.

THINKERBEAT

Please read this interesting newsletter about a new concept in magazine and online publishing. Combining the blog format with short-story publications, and a community forum too. If you ever wanted to get published, this is definitely one way it could work for you. The news is self-explanatory, but if you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments, or send me an email.

THINKERBEAT
The Thinkerbeat Reader Newsletter

Welcome

Thank you for submitting your stories to UNFIT/UNREAL magazines. This newsletter is to let you know how I evaluate stories, keeping you in the loop on the submission process.

If your story was submitted before 6/20, most likely your story was not accepted for publication in the upcoming round of magazines. I’m very sorry about that because I know how difficult it is to get published these days. I’m not only a publisher, but also a writer.

So keep trying. In fact, send your story to lots of publications. I’m a strong believer in that. I’ll even show you where to find other publications, down below. For the record, I don’t charge for submission, and I don’t require that you to only submit to one place at a time. Simultaneous submissions are the best solution for making any headway in this profession. Seriously.

About the Process

As you may have noticed, I do things a little differently. For example, I don’t typically write to you and reject your story. The terms on the submission page say that if you haven’t heard back within 30 days, take that as a no. If you noticed the date above, you’ll realize I’m falling behind the 30 day window, approaching 50 days. There’s a reason for that.

I’ve decided to release this newsletter periodically so I can let a lot of people know at the same time what the cutoff date is for the submission window. Right now it’s anything submitted before 6/20. Included in this newsletter will also be tips on what I expect to see in stories from you, which should help you in the future. So stay subscribed and I’ll keep you informed.

What’s different?

1. I don’t usually respond to submissions. The truth is, there are a lot of you. And the number of people writing and submitting stories is growing rapidly every year. Currently, I have about 100 stories each at both UNREAL and UNFIT magazine that I have to read. That’s close to 200 stories, right now. And the number grows by 10 to 20 new stories per day. It’s almost impossible to keep up with.

In the future, expect more publications to follow suit. The New Yorker, one the most awarded magazines for fiction, has had the same policy that I follow for years. Their terms say that if you haven’t heard back in 90 days, assume you’re out. You won’t be notified, unless accepted. I shortened it to 30 days, but am struggling to make the deadline. In the future, I’m going to let people know by newsletter how things are progressing, like I’m doing right now. I’m hopeful it will be the best solution for both of us.

2. In recent weeks, I added a new line to the submission forms at both UNREAL/UNFIT magazines. It says, simply, “Your URL”. What I was hoping for was to get an indication of where your blog is. In the past, I’ve searched for your blogs by author name and that’s time consuming because it involves a lot of guesswork about who you really are.

The results of changing the form have been pretty interesting. I would say about 50% of the people submitting stories don’t have a satisfactory online home. Which I think is odd, because you can set up a blog in about 5 minutes, sourced from a variety of places such as WordPress or Blogger.

Many people are rigging the answer to get the story to go through, with things like http://NA.com and http://Idonthaveone.com. Another common response I see on the form is when someone puts an email address in the answer, like this: http://myemailaddress@wherever.com. All of these stories are being rejected.

When you sign a contract with me, I’ll be asking for rights to use your name, your photo, and your bio to promote the magazines. Professionals know about this and have little problem with it. I don’t mind that you use a pen name, either. The problem is that I need to verify that you are really you. That you haven’t just stolen someone else’s story and put your name on it. That you are really signing the contract as yourself. That you aren’t trying to sell me three stories under three different names, when I don’t allow multiple submissions. Your online home is one place where I check the facts. It tells me how stable you are as a writer. Plus, I also like to read your blogs. I like to get to know what you’re up to. Often I’ll click on the “Like” button on a WordPress site to let you know I was there. I’m interesting in you and what you’re doing with your words.

A number of people have used a page on Facebook or Twitter in the form. Some put down their author page on Amazon. These are interesting, but I’m on the fence about accepting them. Maybe it’s the first time you’ve written a story and you want to see if you can get published in a semi-pro magazine. I understand that. But as we’ve never met, I need verification that you’ll be able to spread the news about the magazine, that other people find you a good resource of publishing information.

What’s New?

Recently, I’ve started up a website called The Thinkerbeat Reader. If you don’t have a blog, feel free to join and I’ll give you a simple one. I’ll even help you upload your photo and add your bio. You’ll be able to use the URL of your homepage at thinkerbeat.com in the submission forms at UNREAL/UNFIT magazines.

If you already have an active blog, use that. I’ll stop by and see how you’re doing. Even so, you’re invited to join the thinkerbeat.com website.

At thinkerbeat.com, I’ve got an up-to-date list of 800 publications looking for stories written by someone just like you. I’ve got a social network set up so we can all talk to each other. I’ve even put the magazines that I publish online there for you to read. Get a look at the stories I’ve already bought for the next round of magazines, before they go to market. See what you’re up against. This should give you a better idea of what I’m looking for each time. It will help you eliminate the guesswork.

Let me say in advance, the site is not free. However, I’ll upgrade your account to ‘premium’ membership if I can see that you’re on my mailing list, you’re submitting stories to my magazines, or you’re an author I’ve published before. It’s like you paid, but you didn’t. I think this is a fair solution for both of us.

How do I evaluate stories?

With close to 200 stories waiting to be read, I have to have a pretty good system. With years of experience, I think I have a pretty good system.

1. Divide and conquer. First, I take about 20 stories and divide them into two piles, the ten best and the ten not-so-good. Then I take the remaining 10 stories and do the same thing, two piles, 5 and 5. Eventually I get to the top 2 stories from the reading session. Next I take another 20 stories and do the same. Then I evaluate the top stories from each group, comparing them to each other. 20 seems to be a good number because that’s close to the submission rate each day. I can’t compare your story to all 100 stories that I need to read right now. That’s not even close to realistic.

One reason I don’t send out rejections is because sometimes a story will grow on me. A week later, it might be in the rejection pile, but I can’t stop thinking about it. I’ll go back and take a second look. In the past, I’ve had cases where I’ve contacted an author after a story was formally rejected and then I asked to buy it. I might even contact you several months later to see if the story is still available, if I suddenly find a need for it.

2. Does the story follow a common trope? Most stories do. Even with the top writers in the field, most stories fit into recognizable categories, whether you realize it or not. One way to know if your story has been written before is to read a lot. You do read a lot, don’t you? You’d be surprised how many variations I’ve gotten on the same story. Man kills his wife only to wake up in the police station, being let go, because she was really a robot. Man kills his wife and wakes up in the police station to find out he is a robot. And she wasn’t. Or she was. And so on. If you’re going to write something already written, you’ve got to do it better than anyone before. How would you know? Read a lot.

3. Is the story low lying fruit? Low apples on the tree are easy to pick, and many stories that I get are based on simple ideas. You put a lot of time into crafting every single word in your story only to step back and realize there’s not much going on overall in terms of plot. I know, because I’ve been there before. It’s the apples at the top of the tree that I want from you. Those ideas are harder to get to.

A Brief History of Thinkerbeat

Thinkerbeat started a long time ago and reached a kind of wall that I couldn’t get past as a publisher. We’d put out an anthology called The Art of Losing with 24 authors in it. It wasn’t selling well and I got really discouraged. About that same time, I was laid off from my job and didn’t know where the money would come from for the projects I had planned. So I folded the site and took a break for a while from publishing.

Previously, I had finished my MBA degree and worked for a publisher. They published a children’s book I wrote. More of my history can be found on my blog.

Experience

Later, when I got my second wind, I started Longshot Island, knowing this time it was a long shot. That also reached a kind of wall in just the last year. I wouldn’t say it’s gone forever. But I’ve put it on the back burner for now. Both experiences opened a lot of doors and gave me the chance to meet a lot of great people, like you.

From there I started UNFIT/UNREAL magazines, publishing the best authors in speculative fiction.

About two months ago I noticed the URL was available for Thinkerbeat and a series of incidents got me to thinking of setting the site up again. There’s so much I’ve learned about authors and the publishing process and I’m more confident now that I can help you out. I have a strong commitment to helping undiscovered authors get noticed, because I know how hard that is. Put simply, by pairing your story up with writing giants, people are more likely to read it. At the same time, if we don’t cultivate new talent, where will the genre be down the road?

Here’s an older interview I did with Cathleen Townsend on the original Thinkerbeat website.

Interview with Daniel White–Publisher at Thinkerbeat

Thinkerbeat 2.0 is a great resource. The site offers:

a blog
a social network feed
a library
a list of publications
Learn more at the site: thinkerbeat.com, where you can talk to me.

The Round of Next Magazines

Here are the authors I’m talking to right now.

UNREAL 2

Ken Liu
Yoon Ha Lee
Jerry Oltion
Robert J. Sawyer
Ernest Hogan
Rebecca Linam
Robert Boucheron
Liam Hogan
…plus more, tba.

UNFIT 4

Taiyo Fujii
Emily Devenport
Ken Liu
Robert J. Sawyer
Jeremy Szal
D.A. Xiaolin Spires
…plus more, tba.

As I purchase these stories, they are going online at The Thinkerbeat Reader for you to check out, right now. As you can see, I need more stories for UNFIT at this time than I do for UNREAL. This list is not 100% final, but fairly close. I’ve discussed purchasing the stories and been given confirmation in most cases. Some of the stories have been bought already, but I still need to make the final decision in some cases.

Overview

The Thinkerbeat Reader has (or will soon have) stories by: Ken Liu • Cat Rambo • Emily Devenport • Martha Wells • Yoon Ha Lee • Jerry Oltion • Matthew Hughes • Daniel Wallace • Tim Major • Eric Del Carlo • David R. Grigg • Bruce Golden • Orson Scott Card • Robert J. Sawyer • Ernest Hogan • Tais Teng • David Brin • Robert Silverberg • J.B. Toner • M. Yzmore • Michael Merriam • LJ Cohen • Jessica Needham • J.D. Astra • Liz Kellebrew • George Salis • Joe Taylor • Adithi Rao • Nathan Susnik • Cathleen Townsend • Pete Johnson and more.

See you there!

Copyright 2019 © All rights reserved. | Magazine 7 by AF themes.

Thinking Aloud On a Sunday

Fiction.

Given that I have just finished a ten-part fiction serial, and have started to reblog some older stories, it was not unexpected for me to wake up thinking about Fiction this morning. Specifically, my own fiction on this blog.

Including my many long-running serials, I have posted over 330 fiction pieces here. What started as an experiment with a three-part crime drama became something I enjoyed a great deal. I have explored many genres, including some science fiction, dark crime, and nostalgia. I even tried my hand at some modern romance.

I got stuck in a style, but I am more than happy to be in that situation. I like ‘cliffhanger’ endings to serial episodes, and enjoy adding a twist to any story, where possible.

I even tried to write a story for children, but couldn’t seem to find my ‘inner child’ that time.

With so many new followers since 2016, I have recently resolved to reblog many of my earlier short stories. I am intrigued to see what the new readers might think of them, and would appreciate all the feedback, whether positive, or negative.

My fictional inspirations tend to come in fits and starts, with long absences in between. However, I think I will write more fiction during the second half of 2019, and explore some ideas that I had previously abandoned.

Thanks as always to everyone who reads them, and to those who critique, comment, and discuss. It is all very welcome.

Unfit Magazine: Volume 3

Volume three of this great magazine is now available to order.

Featuring Orson Scott Card, Philip K. Dick, Eric Del Carlo, David R. Grigg, Nathan Susnik, Ernest Hogan and Adithi Rao. Edited by Daniel Scott White.
This magazine is about the ways in which technology-based data may be used to change our view of reality. In the future, what will we crave more, simulated reality or our own senses? Here are stories that warp our perception of the world in some very surprising ways.

-In “Ender’s Game” (the short story) by Orson Scott Card, we meet Ender Wiggins, the young trainer of a team of cadets preparing to engage an enemy in an augmented simulation.
-“Adjustment Team” by Philip K. Dick plays with the idea that there are ‘caretakers’ behind the visible world keeping us to ‘the plan’.
-“Purchasing Power” by Eric Del Carlo is about a future in which commercialization is taken to an aggressive level using augmented reality.
-“The Pink Life (La Vie En Rose)” by Nathan Susnik tells the story of technology aimed at making life look great when it is anything but that.
-“Enhancement” by David R. Grigg details a woman on vacation and an unexpected outcome in her virtual experience.
-“PeaceCon” by Ernest Hogan involves a whole cast of characters involved in manipulation of the senses for commercial purposes through the use of deceptive technology.
-“The Making of Truth: Satya” by Adithi Rao is a real look into the film-making process in Bollywood.

Published by fellow blogger and author, Daniel Scott White, Unfit Magazine is available from both Amazon.com, and Amazon UK at great value prices.
Here are some links.