Thoughts & Sayings (June 2014)


Here are some thoughts and sayings I posted on Twitter and/or Facebook in April and May. To my knowledge, I made these up (for better or for worse). Sit back, relax, and enjoy the write!

Encouraging Words

1. Question this.

question

2. Live it up but let it down slowly.

liveitup

3. It isn’t the end of the world, but avoid it like the plague.

plague

Twisted Words

4. This restaurant is notable. I can never get a reservation.

restaurant

5. If nobody’s perfect, I must be a nobody.

perfect

Random Musings

6. Why can’t I move as fast as my brain?

brain

7. It’s never dangerous until it is.

danger

8. Why do people care if chickens cross the road?

chicken

9. Every day, millions of people have their cake and eat it.

cake

Click here to visit the Thoughts & Sayings page, or click here to read the previous batch of Thoughts & Sayings.

Verda


“Verda” is one of the stories in Real Dreams:  Thirty Years of Short Stories. It is also available to read on Wattpad. Visit www.mgedwards.com for more books, stories, and travelogues from author M.G. Edwards.

verdacover

She rises in the evening sky like a beautiful green gem glowing in the early twilight. Watching over the earth, she bathes it in verdant light at the end of each day. She lies closer to our world than her barren twin, Luna, who shines brighter when the twilight turns to night. She is Verda, the green-tinged moon that orbits the earth. Also known as "Earth’s Sister," the small moon has long been an object of human obsession. For millennia, people have gazed up at her and wondered what secrets she has hidden in her veiled green atmosphere. It was not until the late twentieth century at the dawn of the Space Age, however, that many of her secrets were revealed.

Visit MG Edwards or Wattpad to read more of “Verda.”

verda2

© 2014 Brilliance Press. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted without the written consent of the author. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental. Cover photo licensed from iiuri courtesy of Shutterstock.

Real Dreams: Thirty Years of Short Stories


A French prisoner struggles to survive in a Nazi concentration camp during World War II. A delinquent youth is obsessed with a cemetery ghost. Good and evil fight over the soul of a zombie. A grandmother thought to suffer from mental illness predicts the future. Car trouble leads to an encounter with an angel. A chief must calm a volcano before it destroys his village. A human tries to dissuade elves and dwarves from going to war. A bride confronts deception in an effort to reunite with her bridegroom. A boy encounters superhuman army ants that escape from a military laboratory and move into his bedroom closet.

These stories and more are featured in Real Dreams: Thirty Years of Short Stories, a collection of 15 short stories I wrote between 1981 and 2011.

Dreams

Each story reflects changes in my writing style and interests over time. I wrote the earliest story, How Little Big Chief Calmed the Mountain, in 1981 at the age of ten, and the latest, Evil | Live, thirty years later. The stories are grouped by genre to help the reader identify each style. They feature some common themes, including hope, dreams, light, darkness, perseverance, and spirituality, wrapped up in some novel ideas. Enjoy these diverse and timeless works three decades in the making.

Story Synopses

Vichy (1990) tells the story of Jean-Marie Daubert, a spy for the French Resistance during World War II who was captured and sent to Gross-Rosen concentration camp in Poland (then Silesia). It’s a sobering story of love and loss told through letters from Daubert to his wife Corinne.

The Ballick Eye (1988) is a ghost story about a delinquent youth sent by his parents to live with an aunt who is determined to straighten him out. Can a cemetery ghost turn his life around?

Evil | Live (2011) is a twist on the traditional horror story. Good and evil engage in an epic struggle for the soul of a zombie.

The Grandma Conspiracy (2004) tells the story of an elderly woman with the ability to predict the future whose family believes she suffers from mental illness. The story is narrated by one of her grandchildren who struggles to help her.

Room G-13 (1993) is a horror story with a twist. Strange sounds emanate from the maintenance man’s room at a college dormitory, leading one student to investigate what’s really going happening there.

The Factory Worker in the Corner Office (2007) is an allegory about a white-collar worker who deals with a difficult boss.

Saved by Hope (1988) is a true story based on an encounter I had with an angel during the summer of 1987.

Mysterius, Lord of the Unknown (1987) tells the tale of the Greek god of the unknown. The ancient Greeks dedicated some temple altars to an unknown god. Mysterius is an interpretation of this deity.

How Little Big Chief Calmed the Mountain (1981) is an allegory inspired by the May 1981 eruption of Mt. St. Helens. A village leader must appease an angry volcano before it erupts and destroys his village.

The Emissary’s Battle (2005) is a story set in a fantasy world. A human envoy must use diplomacy to diffuse a conflict between elves and dwarves before it leads to war.

Kirche and the Mirror (1992) is a religious allegory. On the day her bridegroom returns, the bride must confront deception and illusions before reuniting with him.

Suits (1989) is a science fiction short with an ironic twist. A child dreams of an alien invasion.

Verda (1997) ponders the existence of a second moon orbiting Earth capable of sustaining life and humanity’s efforts to colonize it. The story explores themes ranging from space exploration to environmental preservation.

G.I. Ants (1983) is a story about a boy’s encounter with a group of superhuman army ants who escape from a military laboratory and move into his closet.

High Flying Deutschman (1988) tells the story of a German exchange student’s quest to learn baseball and join a championship high school team.

Real Dreams is available in e-book format for only $2.99 (or equivalent in local currencies) at:

Real Dreams is available in print for just $8.99 (or equivalent in local currencies) at:

More About Real Dreams

The Mennonites of Paraguay (with Photos)


Click here to read the original article on MG Edwards. Visit MG Edwards for more great travelogues, photos, and videos from around the world.

This is the full version of the original article.The third in a series on Paraguay’s Chaco region features the local Mennonite communities. The first focused on Filadelfia, the area’s largest town, and the second on the rural Chaco. The final post highlighted the local indigenous community. Enjoy photos and stories from one of Paraguay’s most intriguing places.

Paraguay’s remote western region, the Chaco, boasts a diverse mix of Mennonite, Spanish, Brazilian, and indigenous Guarani influences. The approximately 60,000 to 80,000 Mennonites in Paraguay who live in large communities, or “colonies,” dominate the local culture. Its distinctly German flavor was introduced to the country by Russian Mennonites of Germanic descent who emigrated from the former Soviet Union in the late 1920s and early 1930s to avoid persecution under Stalinism. Other Mennonite communities migrated to Paraguay between 1929 and 1932 from Canada, Germany, and the United States. The Fernheim, Menno, and Neuland colonies settled near present-day Filadelfia in 1930, and have since grown to more than 10,000 members. Most are farmers with large ranches (estancias) that produce a variety of agricultural products, including beef, dairy products, and other foodstuffs.

2008_08_31 Paraguay Mennonites (3)

2008_08_31 Paraguay Mennonites (8)

The Mennonites’ arrival in the Chaco coincided with the rise in tensions between Paraguay and its neighbor, Bolivia. Eager to solidify the country’s hold on the sparsely populated region, the Paraguayan government granted in the 1930s large parcels of Chaco land to the Mennonites on the condition that they establish a permanent presence there. The Bolivians, who coveted the Chaco for oil-producing potential that never materialized, invaded it in 1932 and fought the three-year Chaco War with Paraguay. More than 80,000 Bolivians and 50,000 Paraguayans died in the conflict that ended with Bolivia’s defeat. Although the pacifist Mennonites did not fight, the food they cultivated kept the Paraguayan troops fed.

2008_08_31 Paraguay Chaco (15)

2008_08_31 Paraguay Chaco (16)

The Mennonites struggled to survive in the 1930s and 1940s. An inhospitable, semiarid environment with little rainfall and poor soil made life difficult for the early settlers as they domesticated the land. Travel overland to Paraguay’s capital, Asunción, before the construction of the Trans-Chaco Highway in the late 1950s, was an odyssey that left the remote colonies isolated from the outside world. Indigenous groups such as the Guarani resisted encroachment by their new neighbors and fought occasional skirmishes with the settlers. The Mennonites and the indigenous learned to co-exist peacefully, and many indigenous now work for the colonies. After years of toil, the Mennonites transformed the area into one of the country’s most productive agricultural regions.

2008_08_31 Paraguay Mennonites (1)

The Mennonite’s cooperatives (cooperativas) are among Paraguay’s largest enterprises. Closely affiliated with the local Mennonite Church, they manage the colonies’ commercial interests. Their operations and logistics networks are brilliantly efficient. They provide farmers with enriched animal feed, transport raw milk from farms to dairy plants, transform milk into dairy products, process foodstuffs, and ship finished goods to market on gravel roads that they maintain. The cooperatives also operate service businesses, including hotels, restaurants, gas stations, hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, and shopping centers that cater to the Mennonite communities. Fernheim Colony’s cooperative, the country’s best known, also runs an experimental farm that incubates and crossbreeds cash crops capable of the surviving in the Chaco. The power and influence of the cooperatives is astounding, although one would not know it at first glance. The low-profile associations are opaque operations whose sole purpose is to serve the Mennonites.

2008_08_31 Paraguay Mennonites (4)

2008_08_31 Paraguay Mennonites (6)

2008_08_31 Paraguay Mennonites (7)

2008_08_31 Paraguay Mennonites (5)

The Mennonite culture emphasizes hard work, a simple life, and strict adherence to its religious beliefs. Unlike their Amish cousins, Mennonites embrace the use of technology when it improves their productivity, and they dress in plain, functional clothing. Most men wear short-sleeve cotton shirts and khaki pants or jeans; women usually wear dresses to church and pants on the farm. Most marry within the community, while those who marry non-Mennonites tend to leave the colony. As a result, offspring tend to look Germanic than Hispanic, indigenous, or mixed. It is common to see someone with blond hair and blue eyes walking around Filadelfia. Mennonites also prefer to speak Plattdeutsch, an old variant of Low German, to Spanish or Guaraní, Paraguay’s official languages. It’s easy for those who visit the Chaco to see the cultural divide between the Mennonites and non-Mennonites. While many indigenous and Brasiguayos, or Brazilian migrants living in Paraguay, work with the Mennonites on the estancias, they tend to live separately. Mennonites and other groups seem to frequent restaurants, stores, and services that caters to one or the other. Mennonite activities tend to focus on the church, while non-Mennonites enjoy pastimes such as soccer (fútbol) and public gatherings such as barbeques (asados). This tendency is reinforced more by tradition and preference than overt discrimination.

2008_08_31 Paraguay Mennonites (2)

2008_08_31 Paraguay Mennonites

A visit to the Chaco is worth the opportunity to catch a glimpse of the Mennonite culture set against a backdrop of the “Wild West” of South America. It’s a remarkable journey back in time to a simpler age.

2008_08_31 Paraguay Mennonites (9)

2008_08_31 Paraguay Mennonites (10)

Special thanks to Juliette Wade for hosting the original post on her blog, TalkToYoUniverse as part of the Writers’ International Cultural Share. I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to participate in this great forum where writers can share their cultural experiences and insights from around the world.

Thoughts & Sayings (April 2014)


Here are some thoughts and sayings I posted on Twitter and/or Facebook in February and March. To my knowledge, I made these up (for better or for worse). Sit back, relax, and enjoy the write!

Click here to read the original article on MG Edwards. Visit MG Edwards for more great travelogues, photos, and video from around the world.

Encouraging Words

1. You only live once. Use it wisely.

life

2. One’s misunderstanding is another’s failure to communicate.

communicate

Twisted Words

3. I’m the real deal. You can have me at a discount.

discount

4. A broken record gets tired of being played over and over.

record

In Its Own Write

5. I’m always inspired to write when someone else is doing it.

writing

Holidays & Events

6. Dive into the March Madness pool, but don’t forget to tread water.

pool

7. Can I borrow some green? I’m in a pinch.

green

8. Merchandising in the air.

merchandising

Random Musings

9. I dream of things that I never knew were on my mind.

dream

Click here to visit the Thoughts & Sayings page, or click here to read the previous batch of Thoughts & Sayings.

Paraguay


Click here to read the original article on MG Edwards. Visit MG Edwards for more great travelogues, photos, and video from around the world.

“An island surrounded on all sides by land” is how Paraguayan author Augusto Roa Bastos described his homeland. A small, landlocked country in the heart of South America, Paraguay has had a rich and tumultuous history since its independence in 1811. The country lost half its territory during the 1865-70 War of the Triple Alliance against Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay. However, it won back part of its dry, western half, the Chaco, when U.S. President Rutherford B. Hayes mediated a dispute over the territory and ruled against Argentina in 1878. Paraguay also held on to a large swath of the Gran Chaco by turning back Bolivia in the 1932-35 Chaco War. Known for long periods of isolation under presidents Dr. José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia y Velasco (1814-40) and Alfredo Stroessner (1954-89), Paraguay earned a reclusive reputation. In recent decades, however, the country has emerged from a half century of dictatorial rule and become more open to visitors. Hindered by a nascent tourist industry and dearth of obvious must-see attractions, Paraguay is easy to overlook. A visit can be rewarding to those who venture off the beaten path to enjoy its beauty, rich mixed indigenous Guaraní and Hispanic heritage, and warm reception from some of the most wonderful people you’ll meet in South America.

More About Paraguay

2008_07 Paraguay National Palace

2008_11_28 Paraguay Caacupe

2008_08_31 Paraguay Chaco

2008_01 Paraguay Itaipu Dam

Map picture

Thoughts & Sayings (February 2014)


Here are some thoughts and sayings I posted on Twitter and/or Facebook in December 2013 and January 2014. To my knowledge, I made these up (for better or for worse). Sit back, relax, and enjoy the write!

Encouraging Words

1. You cannot deny destiny, but if you do nothing, destiny can deny you.

destiny

2. Doing two things at once takes half the time.

busy

Twisted Words

3. I score a goal every time I hit the coffee puck into the trash.

puck

In Its Own Write

4. I’m writing a book about a pair of normal Romans.

romans

Holidays & Events

5. A human in a polar vortex is like a polar bear in a zoo.

polar

6. ’13 was my lucky year. I made it to 2014.

2013

7. The Mayan calendar ended in 2012. It only took me a year to catch up.

mayan

8. The ring of the cash registers sounds like silver bells.

jingle

9. Before the advent of December 1, there was November 30.

advent

Random Musings

10. Sometimes what’s in the rear view is more interesting than what lies ahead.

rearview

11. Trains of thought don’t always run on schedule.

trains

Click here to visit the Thoughts & Sayings page, or click here to read the previous batch of Thoughts & Sayings.

Images courtesy of Microsoft except Roman Coliseum photo by M.G. Edwards.

WAfK Front Cover (mini)M.G. Edwards is a writer of books and stories in the mystery, thriller and science fiction-fantasy genres. He also writes travel adventures. He is author of Kilimanjaro: One Man’s Quest to Go Over the Hill, a non-fiction account of his attempt to summit Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain, and a short story collection called Real Dreams: Thirty Years of Short Stories. He also wrote and illustrated Alexander the Salamander, Ellie the Elephant, and Zoe the Zebra, three books in the World Adventurers for Kids Series, and a 3-in-1 collection featuring all three. His books are available in e-book and print from Amazon.com and other booksellers. Edwards graduated from the University of Washington with a master’s degree in China Studies and a Master of Business Administration. He lives in Bangkok, Thailand with his wife Jing and son Alex.

For more books or stories by M.G. Edwards, visit his web site at www.mgedwards.com or his blog, World Adventurers. Contact him at me@mgedwards.com, on Facebook, on Google+, or @m_g_edwards on Twitter.

© 2014 Brilliance Press. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted without the written consent of the author.