Check out the prologue to "Alone In The Light" by clicking here

An excerpt from: Alone In The Light

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

From our family to yours!

Today is December 4th. I know we're still 3 weeks away from Christmas, but I wanted to take a minute to say thank you all for your support and to offer up a simple "Merry Christmas" from me and my family to you and yours.

Things are about to get very busy on my end, so I don't know if, or when, I'll be getting over here to my blog. So I am taking the moment to wish each and every one you a very wonderful, very peaceful and stress-free holiday!

Friday, November 8, 2019

Thank you for being a friend!

One of the best things to come out of writing Alone In The Light is the connections I have made with people who have read it.

I have been contacted by people who I might otherwise never interact with. They've informed me how much the story has spoken to them and how much they've been able to connect with the characters I've created. On multiple occasions, I've struck up wonderful new friendships with these readers.

That, to me, is success. That, to me is the entire purpose behind this book. I'm not trying to be famous. I'm trying to connect with people and say, "Look, we're not alone. We're all out here trying to survive." In doing so - I hope that this work has, in some way, made a difference in someone's life.

If you are one of these readers-turned-friends... let me take a moment to say THANK YOU. Not for reading my book - but for reaching out to me and becoming friends with me. I cannot tell you how great this feeling is.

So, as they say on The Golden Girls, "Thank you for being a friend."

I look forward to our continued friendship in this crazy world and as I, hopefully, write more for you to read.

All my best,
Ben

Friday, October 4, 2019

An Open Letter To Jenna Bush Hager's Book Club

Dear Jenna,

I know that November is still several weeks away, but I would like to recommend a book for your #ReadWithJenna selection - Alone In The Light, by Benjamin W. Bass.

With November being the month of Veterans Day, I feel this book would be a particularly good choice. It was written by a veteran and tells the tale of two soldiers who meet in Kuwait and are painfully separated by the war.

Josh Carpenter is a National Guard soldier from Indiana who is injured in an IED explosion on Thanksgiving morning and he returns home, broken and unsure about his place in the world. Before his unfortunate incident, he meets, and falls in love with, Mary Fischer. She is an active duty solder from Fort Sam Houston who works in the Combat Support Hospital at Camp Wolf. After Josh's departure from her life she tries to go home and pick up the pieces of her life, leaving her overbearing mother and setting out on her own - which eventually leads her back to Josh on the campus of Indiana University.

The story is a very personal and real tale based partially on my own life and the experiences I had while in the military. The characters are very real and very relatable and the book itself is receiving great reviews.

I am an independent author. This book was thought up, written, and published by me and my wife. We have no backing of a publishing house, advertising group, or any other support outside of friends and family. It is this fact, as well as the book's overall message of hope and redemption, that I feel it is an excellent choice as your November pick.

Thank you for your time and, hopefully, your consideration. I am very proud of this book and I feel that many people will love it if they only knew about it.


All my best,
Benjamin W. Bass

Monday, September 16, 2019

My first book signing!

This Thursday will be my very first Book Signing/Meet The Author event! I am very excited about this.

This will be held at the Carnegie East Wing of the Shelby County Library - in Shelbyville, IN.

The event will be from 7:00PM until about 9:00PM when the library closes for the evening.

If I understand how this will go - I'll start with a general talk and discussion of the book and, once I've exhausted my speaking voice - in about 10-15 minutes, we will move on to the signing and handshaking portion.

Signed copies of Alone In The Light will be available for purchase for $15 - and you can bring a copy that you've already purchased and I'll sign those for free.

I am looking forward to this and I hope to see some people I'm NOT related to, but only time will tell on that front.

I am to understand there will be some sort of cookies... Those may just be for me, but I do like to share.

Come out, support your local library and a local author! It'll be a good time.

Monday, August 26, 2019

The AUDIOBOOK!

I am so freaking excited I can barely stand it.

I am moving forward with the Audiobook version of Alone In The Light and it is going to be AMAZING.


AMAZING!!!



I have been in discussion with two narrators who will both be adding their voices to this project and bringing my story to life in a way I couldn't imagine until I heard them reading it. I was just blown away. Like - WOW... It's one thing to hear a story in your head and VERY much a different thing to hear someone read it with their own take, their own emotion, their own delivery.

I was overwhelmed with how much emotion I felt at hearing my own words... I mean, it was surreal.

So, that being said, allow me to introduce the narrators...


The very talented Phil Thron will be reading the chapters/sub-chapters that are from Josh Carpenter's perspective.

Phil is an absolute DREAM to work with. His delivery is freaking AMAZING and he knows how to turn on the emotion when a scene calls for it. (You can visit his website here:  https://www.philthronvoice.com/)

He will be joined by award-winning narrator Natalie Naudus. She will be reading the chapters/sub-chapters from Mary Fischer's perspective. Her voice is SPOT-ON for how I pictured Mary. I am so excited to hear the finished product with her on this. (You can visit her website here: https://www.natalienaudus.com/)





So with this all in mind, I'm shifting gears into marketing and fundraising... yes, I know. THAT dreaded thing. But, it's true.

So, if you'd like to help out - I've organized a GoFundMe and you can help out if you'd like! Which would be AWESOME.

You can find the GoFundMe right HERE.

For your donation you will get one of the following:
$5 gets you a free bookmark.
$25 or more gets a free copy of the audiobook when it releases.
$50 gets you an audiobook and a free, signed, copy of the paperback.
$100... Well, let's just say I'll be VERY thankful... *wink*
$1,000 - I will come to your house, make you dinner, tuck you into bed, and read you Goodnight Moon


Thursday, August 15, 2019

No such thing as bad press!

The saying goes, "There's no such thing as bad press." - Or so I've been told. I guess that's true, too. Today's local paper featured a front page story about me, my book, and my efforts to draw attention to PTSD, TBI, and veteran suicide...

The article itself is good, but... there's always a but, right? BUT they put the title of my book in the article incorrectly. Not once, but TWICE.

It's Alone In The Light... not Alone In The Night.

Oh well, it is what it is. And, like I said, it's mostly a good article and I hope people will see it and it will draw attention to my book.

In the meantime, the reporter said he would run a correction in tomorrow's edition. If I'm lucky - that, too, will be on the front page.

We can always hope, right?

RIGHT?!

Also - go check out ALONE IN THE LIGHT at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or your local bookstore!

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

If you like it, put a ring on it? No, that's not right...

Ah, the world of publishing a book. It's all movie contracts and phone calls with Stephen King...

No. No, that's a lie. It might be real for SOME authors, but not for me. And not for many self-published authors who do everything out of pocket. For us, it's much more "spend your day online trying to promote your book in ways that make you almost uncomfortable."

Like right now.


Hi! I'm Benjamin W. Bass! Please buy my book.

It is also much more than that. It's trying to get your book noticed by more than just friends and family. It's trying to get your book to a point where it is bigger than your circle of friends. And that, unfortunately, is where the whole "Thanks for reading my book, would you please leave a review" comes in.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

FREE BOOKMARKS!

Hello again, everyone! How are you today?

I'm doing quite well, having filled up on homemade tamales for lunch... You have no idea. They were delicious.

Anyway - I am writing today to inform you all of some free stuff!

I will be shipping out FREE bookmarks to anyone who reads and reviews Alone In The Light.

No catch. That's it.

Leave an honest review on Amazon, B&N, or Goodreads and I will send you this nifty bookmark for your future reading!

Front
Back 

The front features the cover of Alone In The Light and the reverse offers the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

Fancy? I'm not sure.
Helpful? - We hope.

So - if you've already reviewed Alone In The Light drop me a link to your review at ben@benjaminwbass.com with an address and I will ship you a free bookmark!

Thank you for your time and your support.

Friday, August 2, 2019

Alone In The Light - A Visual Companion

While the events and characters of my book are fictional - Every place I've mentioned in Alone In The Light is a real place. You can visit all of them... I'd really recommend against F.O.B. Kalsu in Iraq though... And Camp Wolf no longer exists. But Fairland and Batesville, Indiana are both very real. As well as Indiana University in Bloomington. Some of the buildings have changed names since 2005, but the overall visuals are still the same I believe.

I've scoured  spent 30 seconds looking on the internet and found some lovely photos to help act as sort of a visual guide to the book if you'd be interested.

We'll start with Iraq and Kuwait.

Kuwait - Camp Wolf
A small tent city built near the Kuwait International Airport to serve as the APOD or Aerial Port Of Debarkation. This housed support personnel for the theater. Including the CSH or Combat Support Hospital - Mary Fischer's unit.

It was hot, dirty, and featured a pretty good dining facility - as well as access to Domino's Pizza via delivery. Just sayin...



Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Where Can You Buy Alone In The Light?

In a fictional conversation I've had with thousands of people, I am constantly asked, "Hey, Benjamin, where can I, your adoring fan, buy a copy of your book?"

I'm glad you asked!

Let me break it down for you as it stands now:

Signed Copies:
If you are feeling extra-awesome, you can email me at ben@benjaminwbass.com for a signed copy. If you require it shipped to you, the cost will be $20 via paypal (this includes shipping via USPS priority mail). If you live in the area and just want to meet up for drinks, it'll be $15.

Standard eBook and Paperback:
Currently you can buy both versions of my book (eBook and Paperback) are available over on Amazon.

Both versions are also available to order through Barnes & Noble!

But wait! There's more!



My book, Alone In The Light, was published through Amazon as well as IngramSpark. This means you can have your local library or bookstore order a copy for you through IngramSpark's direct publishing office.

Which is pretty cool.

This also means you can go into a retailer, such as Barnes & Noble or Joseph-Beth, and have a copy ordered for you to pick up in their store! It's a pretty nifty deal in my opinion.

In theory, once all the hoops have been jumped through, the "T's have all been dotted, and the "I"s have all been crossed, this will be available through more outlets such as Apple's iBooks and Wal*Mart's online store. So, if you hate Amazon or just have a strong hankering to support your local Wal*Mart, you can head over to their website, search for my name, and BAM! book.


I will update the links on this page as they become available across the various places. In the meantime, if you've read my book and liked it, please leave a review!

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Pre-Launch Anxiety

Happy Thursday, everyone!

In five short days, my book will go live. Which is awesome and terrifying at the same time. It's awesome because, well, shit... I wrote a book. It's terrifying because, well, shit... I wrote a book and people might read it.

This is where we all talk about imposter syndrome, right? Right.

It's that feeling that you and what you've created are crap. It's like you're just hanging out near the "big kids' table" at dinner pretending to be one when, in reality, you're still a kid wearing too much cologne trying to talk about politics with your Aunt Barbara and you have no idea what you're doing. Then you worry that one of the real big kids is going to overhear you, put you in your place, and make you feel awful about existing.


That's where I am right now.


I've never written a book. I've only ever been published once... ironically, it was the short story that then grew to become Alone In The Light. And it was under the same name back in... 2005 I think?  It was the Canvas Creative Arts Magazine at Indiana University. Not a huge publication, but it was nice for me to see my words in printed form.

But now... sheesh. I'm about to show potentially tens of people a work that is 330 pages of my inane ramblings. Okay, not ramblings, but my thoughts jotted down on the page. And I think my big fear isn't if people will like it or not like it... but what if they nothing it? What if they finish it and are just "meh" about the entire thing. I think that would be the worst.

Another fear is that people will go into this thinking it's a war story. It's not. It's a homecoming story. It's about coming back home to find your favorite things no longer feel or fit the way they should. It's about closing off from the people you love and the things you love to do... and it's about trying to overcome that through drinking. Which, minor spoiler, doesn't work that well.

This story comes from my many nights of sitting on my couch, smoking cigarettes, watching Stargate SG-1 reruns until 2am, and drinking a lot of alcohol trying to get certain things and images out of my head. This story comes from the idea of thinking college was the greatest thing in the world, but after going to Iraq everything seemed muted. It was like the color was sucked out of the world and I didn't know why... or how to deal with it. I came home and practically RAN back to college without giving myself time to adjust. For better or worse, it has worked out for me in the long run. I love where I've ended up in life. I love my wife and kids. I love our house. I love our neighborhood... I hate my commute, but that's a different story.

So... here we are. Five days away from having people potentially read my story, and I almost want to call the whole thing off.

Am I alone in this anxiety? Or am I just another in the long line of wannabe writers trying to sit at the big kids' table and not knowing if I'm ready or even able to pull up a chair?

I guess we'll know soon enough.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

So, You've Written A Book... Now What?

We're finally approaching the release of Alone In The Light. And I am immeasurably grateful for this. It's taken a little longer to get here than I'd hoped, but then again, I am an impatient sonofabitch. I like things now. Like NOW now. I hate waiting.

But, as I am learning, waiting is good. It allows you to step back and see things as a whole.

When I first started this thing, I was throwing it out to people asking them to read it, only to send them a newer, updated version a week later. Then another newer, updated version the week after that. I craved feedback that I wasn't just mentally jerking off - for lack of a better term - and I wanted to know that this would be mildly well-received. Based on initial readings and feedback, I hope that it is and people aren't just blowing smoke up my ass.

Writing a story is easy... sort of. You have an idea, and you write it down. It's the whole "step one" in the process. But then comes the rewriting, the editing, the formatting, the "making sure it isn't a flaming pile of random thoughts," and so on. Finally ending on, "is this any good?"

I think so.

I like my story.

I like Alone In The Light, and I think that is what is really important. Would I like it if other people liked it as well - you bet your ass. But I'm willing to be okay with the idea that this story is something that I'm proud of regardless of audience reception.

Josh and Mary are both very relatable people. They're both flawed. They're both trying to make sense of life. Hell, everyone is flawed. Mary's mom, Sharon, is terribly flawed - but not to the point of being a cliché or trope. Her flaws are based in reality. And that reality is something I've had in my own life. I don't want to give anything

Much of this work, while being fiction, is rooted in my life. I'd like that say that 40% or more of Alone In The Light is taken from the History of Benjamin Bass's life. I struggled for years with "self-medication" and drinking. I was sullen and angry. I ignored the people who cared about me in favor of being an ill-tempered asshole sitting alone in my apartment... And I think that comes across in Josh Carpenter's post-deployment attitude quite well.

In addition Social media didn't exist in 2005 - at least not like it is today. Smart phones weren't a thing yet - you'll not that both Josh and Mary have flip-phones.... Man, I remember when "thefacebook.com" came to IU. It was around this time, but it wasn't widespread then... this story would be very different in 2011 or 2019. We've become so dependent on smart technology and social media that it's almost impossible to remember life before it... but I remember. I remember just how easy it was to shut out the world and hide in my apartment... And I didn't have to post selfies or anything to prove I was alive and well...

Researching this, I've taken a lot time to look over the statistics of PTSD, TBI, and amputations throughout the timeline of OIF, OEF, and various other military campaigns... and one of the reasons this is set in 2005, aside from coinciding with my own life, is that I try to shed some light on the VA and U.S. government's lack of preparedness in dealing with these things.

I remember early visits to the VA when I came home in '04 and '05... and I remember the drastic change in patients that followed soon after. In the early years it was me and a few other younger soldiers with dozens of WWII and Vietnam era vets. They would look at us as an oddity. Then, as our numbers increased - we were sort of looked on with a knowing look of sadness and acceptance by the older vets. In '04 there was only, on average, one amputee per state in the union... that number grew every year, almost, since then. Now it's almost commonplace to see prosthetics.


So - that's that. I've written my story. It's being formatted right now... and in a week, it should be out to the masses to critique and pick-over. I hope it goes over well. I hope people enjoy the story. I hope people realize that not all wounds are visible. And not everyone who says they're "fine" is actually fine.



Monday, July 8, 2019

Marketing... sucks.

As a friend of mine told me today, "Marketing sucks."

And it's true. It sucks. Especially self-marketing.

Where do you draw the line between a few gentle reminders to "please buy my book!" and "I'M ANNOYING THE SHIT OUT OF YOU WITH POSTS AND UPDATES BECAUSE I WANT TO SELL MORE THAN 10 COPIES!" ??

Not asking for a friend. I'm asking this for myself.

It's hard to bust through all the chatter out there and actually make yourself noticed. Doubly so when you're trying to NOT be intrusive about it. Auto-DMs get you unfollowed or blocked. Random links to your amazon page go ignored with a simple "like" and then you're left where you started. Topping out at a handful of sales with no big firm behind you to help carry the financial burden.

Just like many indie-pub authors, I don't have much of a marketing budget. So I can't go around relying on ads from amazon or Facebook. I've found limited success in engagement through targeted ads on Facebook... but not a lot. Word of mouth will probably be my best asset - and that relies heavily on the first few people reading my book to like it enough to tell someone else.

Right now, my marketing plan is an 8-step process:

1: Facebook page with some paid ads.
2: My twitter account with occasional posts  - but as we all know, people tend to gloss over these as they're scrolling when it becomes clear the post isn't a meme.
3: A twitter account for my book. From here I can pin tweets, make posts, and possible sell an ad or two via twitter. This should, in theory, prevent my main account from being muted or blocked, while giving me a chance to put out new content.
4: Rely on friends and family to help RT and post links to my book when it goes live.
5: Prayer?
6: Hope REALLY hard that my book is good and people will just buy it.
7: Randomly tackle people on the street, force a copy of my book into their hand, and take $20 from their wallets.
8: Try to engage as many people on Facebook and Twitter as I can in hopes that some of them click the link to my amazon page out of pity.

***Contingency plan consists of duct-taping my book to cases of beer and selling it that way.

And that's about it. I think.

I am welcome and open to suggestions. I have about $100 to use for ads which, as we all know, isn't very much when it comes to this stuff.

How about you? How do YOU market your stuff?

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Ben’s Nachos... a Definitive Recipe

Due to a typo on a Tweet yesterday about cooking children I've had a sudden increase in questions about my Nachos... So, here it is. My nacho recipe. 
'


You will need: 1-3 lbs Chicken Breast (I do about 1 per person eating) 
3 or 4 strips of bacon (I prefer Wright's hardwood smoked bacon)
5 or 6 small, sweet peppers 
1 jalapeno pepper 
1/4 of a small, red onion 
1 bunch of fresh cilantro 
1 bag “Santito’s” White Corn Tortilla chips 
1 bag (2 Cups) of Sargento Colby Jack Cheese 
Olive Oil 
Salt and Pepper 
Cumin 
Paprika 
Onion Powder 
Garlic Powder 

1: Light your Charcoal/Grill to preheat - rub vegetable oil on grates 

2: lightly rub olive oil on both chicken breasts (front and back)

3: Cover Chicken lightly with salt, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder - don't do anything to the bacon. 

4: Cover Chicken not-so-lightly with Cumin and then Paprika 

5: Move chicken and bacon to the pre-heated grill - I hit the grill when it reaches about 375 degrees. 


- Side note - Only use direct heat for the first 3-4 minutes. After that - move the chicken to the edges of the grill, close the lid, flip every 10 minutes or so. Cook on indirect heat for about 30 minutes or more. Don’t start the following steps until about 20 minutes into the grilling... 

6: Slice all of the peppers, Dice 1/4 of a small red onion, finely chop cilantro - set aside 

7: Preheat oven to 475 degrees 

8: Cover cookie sheet with foil 

9: Spread one layer of chips across the sheet and sprinkle all chips with Cumin

10: Remove chicken and bacon from grill - let it sit for at least 5 minutes on a plate 

11: Evenly distribute all of the peppers, most of your diced onion, and a little over half of the cilantro (save the rest)

12: Chop the chicken and bacon into tiny-ass little pieces 

13: Cover the chips with the chicken and bacon
14: Cover the chicken and bacon with the 2 cups of cheese 

15: Cover the cheese with the remaining cilantro and last bit of onion 

16: Sprinkle liberally with Paprika 

17: Bake at 475 degrees for 10-12 minutes 



**18: Serve with salsa, sour cream, and whiskey.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

The Darkness - A Short Story (2010)

The Darkness

    Two men stood on the roof of a decrepit building, their bodies buried under several layers of clothes to keep them warm against the biting cold. The taller of the two looked through an aging set of field glasses exhaled through his balaclava as he focused in on the glowing light on the frozen horizon.
     “There it is again.”
     “Well, that’s nine of them. One every twelve hours.”
     “Well, that would lead me to believe that there is someone out there with resources to spare.”
     “Shit, Tom. That means there is someone out there. Period.”
     “How long has it been? Six months?”
     “Nine.”
     “Nine months without a single contact.”
     “And before that?”

Monday, June 17, 2019

An excerpt from Alone In The Light - Mary Fischer

Ladies and gentlemen!

Hello and a (belated) happy Father's Day to all you dads out there.

I felt that today, as a treat to myself on Father's Day, I'd share another excerpt from my upcoming story, Alone In The Light.

This is an introduction to Mary Fischer, the 2nd POV for my story.
I hope you enjoy it.


Thursday, June 6, 2019

The Prophecy - A Short Story (2008)

The Prophecy - A Short Story from 2008

     The prophecy had existed for generations: A hero would arise and sacrifice himself in order that the rest of the rest should live.

     That time had come.

     The Queen had approached him on a day like so many others. She told him that he was the chosen one and he must make the perilous journey across the vast kingdom, stand atop the highest hill and face the darkness. From the darkness a great light would come and that he would have to sacrifice himself. In doing this, the Queen and the rest of his friends and family would live on.

     He set out on his journey. A loyal troop of soldiers accompanied him for the first half of the journey, but turned back at the edge of the great desert. From there, he traveled on his own. He must face this part on his own.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

The journey to here...

BOOM!!

It's done.

Or I think it is at any rate.

Holy shit, it's done... It's been edited, re-edited, looked over, picked at, and, on one occasion, given the middle finger.

I don't know what I'm supposed to do now. Do I keep looking it over? Do I keep trying to go through and make it better? Do I just say, "Fuck it!" and let it be done?

This has been a long time coming and now I almost feel like I can't NOT do something with it. I'm mildly terrified. Releasing my prologue last week about gave me an anxiety attack... but now... shit. Now we're looking at a full-on book release.

And I have no idea how to react to this.

This has been almost fifteen years in the making. My first short story about coming home from Iraq was called Alone In The Light and I wrote it in 2004. It was published in an arts magazine at Indiana University. The first version of this was... very personal. It drew far too much from my own life and was less a fictional piece and more of an autobiography.

Over the last fifteen years that story has grown and evolved.

The first major change came when I wrote another short story called Realities. It was a "what if" story... as in "what if I'd met my wife while deployed." The story took my actual deployment and dropped in the woman who is now my wife, A.J. Bass. It was a fun story to write. What would she be like had she joined the army? What kind of person would I meet in this alternate reality? Well... Mary Fischer more or less.

Then the two stories got combined in a random Livejournal entry a few years back... and, well... Here we are. With the finished version of Alone In The Light.

It's no longer the 5,000 word short story about a guy sitting through his first day of class after experiencing war. This is now 120,000 words about two people coming home and trying to rediscover themselves in a world that is somewhat the same as before... but also wildly different. It's been a way to explore and look at my own PTSD as a result of things, and has been very cathartic.

With that all said - today I submitted my proposal for cover art and formatting. I also finished my final edits. Or so I hope.

I am very excited about this story and the chance to share it with the world - for better or worse.

Thank you for being a part of this journey. Thank you for taking the time to follow me on social media and interact with me.  I hope you like this story when it finally launches in a few weeks.

All my best,
Benjamin

Friday, May 31, 2019

Human - A Short Story (2010)

Another little short I did back in 2010. I think I was spending way too much time listening to The Protomen at that time. Which isn't a abad thing, unless you're STILL WAITING FOR ACT III!!!!

I mean, come on! It's been a decade! Patrick Rothfuss, George RR Marin, and the Protomen... I'm looking at all of you. You have fans out here!

What? Oh, right... my short story. Sorry. I just get passionate about things that, you know, I've been waiting on since my 30s. 

This story is about a man and his son, Sam. Sam is having trouble dealing with societal issues and the rise of robotic workers in the world. His friend's dad loses his job to a robot and Sam is angry because his friend is angry. But there's a little more to it than that. 

Here you go! I hope you enjoy. 



"HUMAN"

     The door slammed unintentionally as Sam entered the flat. He slipped the bag off his shoulder and dropped it to the floor. As he removed his jacket, he felt his father’s presence.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Apocalypses Now! - A Short Story (2010)

Hello, dear readers! How are you today?  I'm... well enough.

I have decided to start posting several of my old short stories on here... nothing spectacular, just fun things I wrote while I was on the road with my previous job, sitting in hotel rooms, and trying to pass the time.

Here, is the first of these posts: Apocalypses Now! - Written in February, 2010.



Apocalypses Now!



      As far as I know, I am one of only nine surviving members of the human race.

      Tragic, I know.

      Me, a fucking college dropout with a crappy job is one of the few “elite” who lived through it all.
     
      It was like every bad movie ever made came true, one after another.

      On March 12, 2010, a very large meteor impacted rural China. The initial blast killed thousands of Chinese farmers, villagers and the like. Luckily, it wasn’t large enough to do worse. As soon as it was possible, roughly a month after the impact, the governments of the world descended on China with every research tool known to man.

      Field camps and men in large, plastic suits filled every television screen you could find. They claimed that the meteor was teeming with biological life from the Universe. It was heralded as the “greatest scientific discovery in the history of mankind.” Well, eleven years later, I’d have to disagree with them.

      It started out well enough. The entire planet seemed to be in a good mood. We had proof of something other than ourselves. While there was some distrust from the religious right at first, they soon came around and proclaimed it a “message from God.” Hey, whatever works for them. All I know is that everyone and their brother was happy. One of the immediate discoveries from the meteor was… well, it was the cure for cancer.

      I mean who wouldn’t be excited about that? Well, that was the last good thing to come from it all.

Friday, May 24, 2019

An excerpt from: Alone In The Light

About Alone In The Light:


6,000 miles away from the explosion in Iraq that took his leg,
Josh Carpenter struggles to reclaim his former life as a college student.

Mary Fischer, a civilian for the first time in years, strikes out on her own to create a new,
independent life away from the army, and her controlling mother.

On the campus of Indiana University, Josh and Mary’s paths move ever closer to a reunion that could help ease the nightmares and heal old wounds… or make them worse.



PROLOGUE 



November 27, 2003 - South Of Baghdad, Iraq

Josh
     I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not always easy to be thankful. I’m trying very hard to find something to be thankful for right now, but nothing comes to mind. It’s Thanksgiving morning and I’m watching the beige landscape of Iraq pass me by. The “truck” I’m in is the beige painted Humvee we use for these missions. It is cramped, uncomfortable, and makes me claustrophobic. The dashboard is murder on my knees, the radio equipment takes up most of the free space, and the seat is like a brick. It doesn’t help that I’m 6’3” and 243 pounds of mostly muscle. And I’m wearing another fifty pounds of body armor, ammo, a grenade, and a bunch of other shit. This space was not made for me. If anything, the people who made this vehicle had my dad in mind – not me. He was only 5’9” and 190 pounds.
     The scenery speeding by outside is bland, just like the coffee I’m still trying to force down my throat. The coffee is not helping. It’s tepid at best. It’s just bland, lukewarm, brown water with a hint of caffeine to help wake me up. It does not work as advertised. I light another cigarette and scan the area outside the tiny portal that is my window. The truck doesn’t even have armor on it. I am, once again, reminded that my unit was not meant to be here. We’ve purchased some steel plates from a local guy, had them cut to size and bolted them on the doors, but they don’t do much in the way of reassuring me of my safety. I am having trouble giving much of a shit about it right now anyway. I can’t seem to stop thinking about home today, and it’s killing me.
     The wind is cold through my window. The air, more than the coffee, is keeping me alert. It does, however, elicit grumblings from the backseat from PFC Todd Allen. I smile at his complaining and watch patches of muddy, damp fields roll by. It’s all this brown that bothers me the most. Everything is brown. My uniform is various shades of brown, the truck is brown, the land is brown with spots of green, and the coffee is brown… I miss home today. I miss the cool, autumn morning I should be enjoying right now at home in Indiana. I’d like to think the trees at home are still red, yellow, and orange with bits of green still hanging on. Here, it’s just brown, brown, more brown, and the occasional splattering of green or white from one of the houses. I miss my house. I miss my family.
      I am just having a really shitty morning.
     As I inhale the cold, damp air I’m also reminded of how much this doesn’t smell like home. I can smell diesel, the road, the rain that’s been plaguing us for three days now, and the mud. The smells pour over me and I drown in the assault on my senses. It’s too much and I flip my cigarette out onto the littered highway and continue to be underwhelmed by the scenery of Iraq. I long for the smells of home. I long for it even more today with memories of my mom’s noodles and Bill’s pecan pie lurking in the fringes of my thoughts. The smell of the entire holiday as a whole… the memory of Mary’s perfume comes unbidden to my mind and I feel a small stab of loneliness in my heart.
     I sigh as the memories stir up far too many emotions for me this morning. I try to tamp them down, but I can’t. Nobody can on a day like this. It’s Thanksgiving for fuck’s sake and here we are, driving around on a patrol. In theory we’re keeping the roadway safe for the convoys coming up to Baghdad with other troops and supplies, but it feels like we’re just fucking around. Nothing has happened on this stretch in the month we’ve been at the F.O.B. and nothing will probably happen for the remainder of our time here.
     The boredom and monotony of this eats at me. I could be warm and comfortable in my tent, playing Xbox with Tim and Bob, but no. We are out here. I don’t want to whine, but let’s face it, I’m not the world’s best soldier. I, in no way, envision myself as Captain America out here fighting the injustices of the world. I am a college student, stuck in a Humvee, driving north on the Main Supply Route about 29 miles south of Baghdad and all I want to do is go home. All I want is to be back in Indiana.
     “With Mary,” my mind adds without my consent. And I think this is my problem today. Mary is about to go home. She is leaving Kuwait and headed stateside so she can begin the process of becoming a civilian again. I am jealous and I miss her. I am jealous she’s going to be going home. I thought I was going home a month ago. I was supposed to be home before her, but no. I am back in Iraq. Again.
     I inhale sharply as I return my focus to the job at hand. Jones can see I’m in a funk and I realize he’s saying something to me from his seat to my left. But I don’t hear him over the sound of the engine.
     “Eh?” I grunt at him.
     “I said, what kind of food do you think they’re going to be serving today?” His voice is just under a yell and I balk at his volume.
     “Who cares, Bob?” I smile at him, and I honestly don’t care. “But I’m sure there will be turkey and pie.” I smack Tim’s leg. He’s in the turret behind the 240B machine gun and he looks at me through his goggles. Along with the goggles, a neck-gaiter covers his round face. The goofy image it presents makes me smile. “Are you awake up there?” I shout so he can hear me.
     “Yeah,” his muffled voice intones. “I’m also freezing my nuts off.”
     “You love it!” I remind him with a smile, and he responds with a rather obscene gesture. Mason and Allen both laugh from their seats in back.
     “Shit,” Mason adds from the back seat. “The only thing Timmy loves is Twinkies.”
     “Timmy’s not fat, he’s just big boned,” I say as I return my focus to the vast, empty stretch of road before me.
     “Thank you, Sergeant Carpenter,” Timmy shouts to me and I smile.
     It’s so desolate and empty out here I almost lose myself in the flatness of it all. My watch beeps and I look at it. It reads 0800. I reach over and grab the little black headset of the radio to check in with Specialist Mitchell at the FOB.
     “Bulldog Six, this is Bulldog Three-Four, over,” I say in a rehearsed, yet bored voice.
Static.
     “Bulldog Six, this is Three-Four, over.”
     “Three-Four, this is Bulldog Six-Romeo, go ahead.” The radio beeps and crackles with Specialist Mitchell’s voice through the small, broken speaker.
     “Roger, we’re approaching Five-Two-Alpha, over.”
     “Roger, Three-Four. Anything for the log?”
     “Yeah, my ass is numb.”
     “Roger, Three-Four.” the specialist on the radio responds without the slightest hint of humor in his voice. “Drive safe.”
     “Will do. Three-Four, out.” I clip the handset back onto the dash and our little occupation of Iraq inches forward with one more check in the box.
     I pull another cigarette out of my pack, seat it firmly between my lips, and light it. The smell of the smoke is calming for some reason. I’ve been a smoker for more than three years now. But here and now, in this place, I find solace in the act of taking out a cigarette, lighting it, and inhaling the smoke. It’s one of the few activities I can truly say is mine. At least here I don’t have to sneak away to a designated smoking area.
     As I smoke, I think about Mary. Her memories weigh heavily on me today, and my hand absentmindedly rubs the flap on my body armor. Mary’s letter is between the twelve pounds of ceramic plating and my heart. My hand, or my homesick brain, seems to think rubbing this spot will somehow magically let her know I’m thinking about her. But I’m always thinking about her, and I hope she knows.
     “What a crappy Thanksgiving,” Jones remarks to me, interrupting the silence and the quiet moment I’m having. “Why couldn’t first squad do this today?”
     “Well, we drew the short straw, Bob. Sergeant Beckner had to go get his tooth fixed, leaving his squad without a squad leader.” I smile, showing all of my teeth. “Which means we get taken off of our down-cycle and bumped up to fill in.”
     “And Sergeant Hall hates you.”
     “There is also that,” I admit. And it’s true. Our platoon sergeant and I are not best friends by any stretch of the word. “Besides,” I continue, “If you were home for Thanksgiving instead of here with me, you’d just eat too much and get fat.” I tap Tim’s leg. “Just like Timmy.”
     “I’m not fat!” He smiles from the turret. “I’m just big boned.”
     “At least here you get to get out, meet new people… see the world.” I wink at Jones with all the mirth I can muster.
     “God. Are you going to be a recruiter when we get home?” Allen asks from the back. Jones and I grin at one another and the two in the rear seats chuckle to themselves.
     The radio beeps and crackles with static, ending our talk.
     “Three-Four, this is Three-Four-Alpha, over.” Wilson’s voice is rushed, and I remind myself he is young and excitable.
     “Go ahead,” I reply in my best ‘why are you so anxious’ voice.
     “We have an… aggressive driver on our six.”
     “Aggressive how?” I turn to try to get a look, but there is no back window and I’m left staring at Mason.
     “He’s approached,” static, “times and dropped back.”
     “Say again?” I hate these radios.
     “Aggressive isn’t the right word, Three-Four.”
     “What is the right word?” I use my ‘big boy’ voice trying to get Wilson to get his head out of his ass, but before Wilson can respond, a white car accelerates from behind the second truck and comes alongside. Tim immediately swings the turret in the car’s direction because Tim is good at his job. He tracks it as it increases its speed, pulling away from Wilson’s truck, then mine. I tap the handset on the dash as I watch this all unfold. Somewhere in the back of my brain, I hear myself reciting the Lord’s Prayer, but I tell that part of my brain to shut the hell up and I turn to look again.
     “How about sketchy?” Wilson finally responds through the radio. The whole ordeal has taken maybe ten seconds.
     “He drives like he’s from Ohio hanging out in the left lane like that. He didn’t use his turn signal at all.” I smile at Jones, but he’s concentrating on the road.
     My stomach is suddenly a twisted knot of anxiety. My hope is this is nothing more than a bad driver and my default setting is to, of course, make jokes about everything. Adrenaline surges in my body and I am on edge. My brain races through different scenarios when Jones snaps me back to a more sober mindset.
     “What do you want to do?” he shouts. I feel the engine begin to whine as he presses on the accelerator.
     “Tim,” I yell at the big man as I turn and smack Tim’s leg, “I want you to…”
     My words are lost.
     The world and all its beigeness is suddenly gone.
     I am pressed into Tim’s legs and I feel like I’ve been hit by a train. Everything is dark and light at the same time. My eyes and ears play tricks on me and I’m disoriented. The vast, empty road before me is now on its side and the smell of diesel is suddenly stronger, more acrid and biting. I am unable to focus. I am cold and I think I’ve pissed myself.
     My vision comes and goes and I am confused.
     I see smoke and fire and I lose consciousness for a moment.
     My eyes open and I see Jonesy yelling at me, but his words are inaudible. He looks like he’s in slow motion. He looks bad. Is that blood on him?
     Mason is above me. He’s upside down and my body is moving towards him. Why is he upside down?
     My leg aches but it won’t move when I tell it to. I want to stand up.
     I can’t breathe.
     Why are my hands red? Is Tim hurt? I can’t focus on anything.
     Where’s Tim? My thoughts are racing and my vision is narrowing. Where’s Allen? Who is screaming? Is that my voice?
     “Mary!” The word gets stuck in my throat.
     Everything is wrong. Something has gone terribly wrong and I am drowning. I am dying and I can’t scream. My voice is stuck in my throat and I feel a burning sensation in the back of my mouth and along the side of my face. I can taste blood. I can smell it. It overwhelms me and replaces the scent of diesel and fire. Blood is everywhere and it feels like hot, black, tar is being poured into my mouth and I can’t catch my breath. I can’t speak. I can’t scream. I can’t do anything, and I am so scared.
     “Josh?” I think I hear someone calling my name. “Joshua Carpenter!” I think it’s my mom’s voice.
     I am so scared.
     I am in darkness. I am alone.
     I feel warmth running up my arm. It feels amazing and the world slips away from me and I am falling. I see flashes of light punctuated with inky blackness and pain. I hear voices and there is more pain. It is so intense I can’t stand it.
     Light and the sense of motion. It is abruptly cut off and I am again in darkness.
     Mary’s voice? A warm hand against my face.
     I am falling into depths I’ve never known. It’s black everywhere around me. Above me, there is a pinprick of light and I am swimming in a vast, black sea darker than any night. I want to reach for the light and shout for someone to come get me, but nothing happens. I open my mouth and it is filled with the saltwater tang of the blackness flooding me.
     I feel like I am drowning.
     I fear I am dead.
     There is a light.
     It is everywhere.
     It is all around me.
     I am alone.







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Sunday, March 3, 2019

The Fire Circle




My short story entry for this week....

The Fire Circle



I stand at the edge of the field. I feel the wind push, pull, and claw at me and I pull the coat tighter around me. My insides churn with anxiety and fear. The bruise on my face is a disgusting green color, but the swelling has gone away. The blisters on my hands ache as I clench my fists in my pocket and move forward. I hear the voices coming from the clearing.

Ten or so people have already arrived and they are arranging things around the large, stone-ringed pit we use for these bonfires. As I reach the circle or people I am met with nods, a few half-hearted smiles, and a hug from Jenni. Nobody asks me about Colton. Nobody wants to know about him. The wind billows and blows and I watch as Henry drenches the pile of brush and logs with gasoline.

"Good." I think. "Make this mother fucker burn."

Coolers are placed around the circle, beers are opened. If anyone notices the excess dirt, mud, and mess surrounding the pit, they keep it to themselves. And I am happy of this. With a FWOOSH, the fire is lit and the branches blaze bright in the failing light. I am warmed by the sudden blossom of heat that burns in the circle. This fire is the avenging fire. This fire is the cleansing fire.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Welcome to my blog!

Hello, dear visitor! And welcome to my blog. 

My name is Ben.

Benjamin W. Bass if we're going to get all official about it. Which, I guess, is the point of buying a domain of my name... Mildly narcissistic... maybe?

I don't rightly know.

But, you're here! I'm here! Let's do some stuff!


About me:
I'm a native Hoosier, and a ten-year veteran of the Indiana National Guard. My time in the Guard gave me the basis for my novel, Alone In The Light. Drawing from my personal experience, I attempted to craft a very real depiction of post-deployment life. At least through MY eyes.

I graduated from Indiana University, where I met the love of my life, AJ. We've been married going on ten years now, and live in Indiana with our two adorable children, a lovable dog, and two very questionable cats.

What do I do when I'm not writing? I spend a lot of time playing on the living room floor with my kids - this usually involves copious amounts of Lego. I hunt on my family’s farm. But I'm most happy when I am relaxing on the patio with my wife and a glass of scotch.

Now it's your turn! Drop a comment below and say hello!


About my book:

6,000 miles away from the explosion in Iraq that took his leg,
Josh Carpenter struggles to reclaim his former life as a college student.

Mary Fischer, a civilian for the first time in years, strikes out on her own to create a new,
independent life away from the army, and her controlling mother.

On the campus of Indiana University, Josh and Mary’s paths move ever closer to a reunion that could help ease the nightmares and heal old wounds… or make them worse.

You can read the prologue, for free, on my blog HERE