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.

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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.”

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© 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.

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

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Cambodia


Cambodia is a land of contrasts. From the majesty of the former Khmer Empire showcased by the legendary city of Angkor to the country’s recent history under the Khmer Rouge still echoing in the Killing Fields, Cambodia is a mixture of triumph and tragedy. The country has emerged from the dark shadows of the past and is rapidly developing into a modern, vibrant society that stands side by side with magnificent edifices and artifacts. Few visitors to Cambodia leave without being somehow touched by the warmth of the Cambodian people, its rich culture and history, and stories laced with sobering realities. Its diverse land stretches from pristine beaches and wetlands along the Gulf of Thailand to the rolling Cardamom and Annamite mountains. Nestled in between is one of Southeast Asia’s largest wildernesses. Those looking for a fun, fascinating and unforgettable journey should spend time in Cambodia.

More About Cambodia

Top Ten Things to Do on Holiday in Cambodia

Heading to the Coast (National Highway 4)

Driving the Coast (National Highway 48)

The Cambodian Wilderness

Koh Kong

2012_12_26 Cambodia Angkor Wat

2012_12_30 Cambodia Silver Pagoda

2012_12_26 Cambodia Angkor Horizon

2012_12_31 Cambodia Tatai River

Map picture

Cross-posted from MGEdwards. Visit MGEdwards for more great travelogues, photos, and video from around the world.

World Adventurers for Kids Featured in the Foreign Service Journal


The prestigious Foreign Service Journal has featured my World Adventurers for Kids Books 1-3 collection this year in its annual “In Their Own Write” compilation of books published by Foreign Service-affiliated authors. The Foreign Service Journal wrote of Kilimanjaro (page 42):

This compilation of three children’s books (Alexander the Salamander, Ellie the Elephant and Zoe the Zebra) is designed to teach children valuable lessons while providing entertaining stories and beautiful illustrations of global landmarks and wild environments.

Young children will enjoy the stories of an adventuring salamander with his rainforest friends, a courageous elephant attempting to achieve his goal of playing polo, and a group of defensive pals from the African bush set against a bullying pack of hyenas. The stories are supplemented by wonderfully illustrated vistas and humorously drawn animals with large eyes. The book is in large print, which makes it easy to read for both young kids and adults of all ages.

After serving as an FSO in South Korea, Paraguay and Zambia, M.G. Edwards left the Foreign Service in 2011 to write fantasy, thriller, travel and children’s books full time. He currently lives in Bangkok with his wife, Jing, and their elementary-aged son, Alex.

Thank you, Foreign Service Journal, for including World Adventurers for Kids Books 1-3 on your 2013 list. I am grateful that my book joined other superb works written by Foreign Service colleagues and alumni. I encourage readers to browse the books featured in “In Their Own Write” and to peruse the pages of the Journal to learn more about the Foreign Service.

World Adventurers for Kids Books 1-3 is available to purchase as an e-book or in print from these booksellers:

E-book Version

World Adventurers for Kids Books 1-3 is now available to purchase as an e-book for only $2.99 (or equivalent in other currencies) from these booksellers:

clip_image002Amazon.com for Kindle ($2.99)

Amazon UK for Kindle (£2,03)

Amazon Canada for Kindle ($3.05)

Amazon Germany for Kindle (€2,68)

Amazon France for Kindle (€2,68)

Amazon India for Kindle (R177.00)

Amazon Italy for Kindle (€2,68)

Amazon Spain for Kindle (€2,68)

Amazon Brazil for Kindle (R$6,67)

Amazon Japan for Kindle (¥296)

Apple iTunes for iPad ($2.99)

Barnes & Noble for Nook ($2.99)

Barnes & Noble UK for Nook (£1,91)

Diesel eBook Store for multiple e-readers ($2.99)

Kobo Books for Kobo Reader ($2.99) (available in Australia and other countries)

Sony ReaderStore for Sony e-reader ($2.99)

Smashwords for multiple e-readers ($2.99)

Print Version

World Adventurers for Kids Books 1-3 is now available in print for $8.02 (or equivalent in other currencies) from these booksellers:

Amazon.com ($8.02)

Amazon UK (£11,89)

Amazon Canada ($19.87)

Amazon Germany (€15,56)

Amazon France (€14,78)

Amazon Italy (€14,97)

Amazon Spain (€14,36)

Createspace ($14.99)

IndieBound ($18.99)

Powell’s Books ($15.50)

Visit my website for a complete list of booksellers.

About the World Adventurers for Kids Series

The collection includes the first three picture books in the World Adventurers for Kids Series: Alexander the Salamander, Ellie the Elephant, and Zoe the Zebra. The book is available both in print and e-book formats from many booksellers.

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Alexander the Salamander discusses the importance of listening to authority figures. A young salamander named Alexander joins his friends Airey the Butterfly and Terry the Tarantula for an unforgettable adventure in the Amazon River Basin.

Ellie the Elephant encourages children to follow their dreams. A young elephant named Ellie living in Thailand dreams of joining the elephant polo team and playing in the Elephant Cup polo tournament, but her parents want her to work in the rice fields. Will she realize her dream of playing elephant polo?

Zoe the Zebra teaches children about bullying. A young zebra named Zoe who lives in the African bush joins forces with her friends Emma the Impala, Barry the Baboon, and other animals to protect their friend Wally the Warthog from a pack of bullying hyenas. Can they help him and stop the bullying?

About the Foreign Service Journal

The Foreign Service Journal covers foreign affairs from an insider’s perspective, providing thoughtful articles on international issues, the practice of diplomacy and the U.S. Foreign Service. The Journal is published monthly (July/August issues combined) by the American Foreign Service Association (AFSA). The November issue features its annual “In Their Own Write” compilation with new books by Foreign Service-affiliated authors. The list spans almost every conceivable literary genre: from history and foreign policy to memoirs and biographies, and from novels and short stories to mysteries and how-to books.

About the American Foreign Service Association

Established in 1924, AFSA is the professional association of the United States Foreign Service. With close to 16,000 dues-paying members, AFSA represents over 28,000 active and retired Foreign Service employees of the Department of State, Agency for International Development (AID), Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), Foreign Commercial Service (FCS), and International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB).

Click here to read about my memoir Kilimanjaro featured in the November 2012 edition of the Foreign Service Journal.

Click here to read about my book Real Dreams:  Thirty Years of Short Stories featured in the November 2012 edition of the Foreign Service Journal.

clip_image005M.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. 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.

© 2013 Brilliance Press. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted without the written consent of the author.

NaNoWriMo


Dear Reader,

I’ve been busy the past year working on my next book, a memoir called Vietnam: On the Trail from Then to Now. The book will explore the legacy of the Vietnam War. After my father died unexpectedly and left me a set of mysterious photographs he took during his 1968-69 tour in Vietnam, I embarked on a seven-year quest to uncover his story. The book will be about my search for the truth about dad’s time in Vietnam and how the war affected him.

In April and October 2013, I spent time visiting Vietnam from Hanoi in the north to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) in the south and almost everywhere in between. What I found was remarkable, and I’m now trying to put it into words for readers like you.

Vietnam: On the Trail from Then to Now will honor the past, acknowledge the present, and encourage reconciliation for those who remain. It is intended to help those who have no recollection of the Vietnam War remember the veterans who served and their legacy. It will also focus on how Vietnam has changed since the war. Many books have been written about the Vietnam War, but few have focused on the years that followed and the difficult process of healing and moving on.

I’ll be busy writing the memoir in November. I signed up for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) to keep me on track. If I can finish 50,000 words by the end of this month, I should be well on my way to finishing the first draft by the year’s end. Wish me luck! I won’t post many blog updates until it’s done.

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What is NaNoWriMo?

NaNoWriMo is a creative writing challenge held each year in November. Participants are challenged to write 50,000 words of a new novel from November 1 to 30. The program encourages writers to finish the first draft. Participants from around the world can join online at any time with a goal to finish 50,000 words by the end of the month. Since its founding in 1999 by San Francisco-based freelance writer Chris Baty, NaNoWriMo has grown to several hundred thousand participants who write billions of words annually.

If you’re thinking of writing a novel and need a push to get started, NaNoWriMo is for you. The challenge encourages would-be authors to write no matter how good or bad the story is. Quantity, not quality, is the name of this game. It’s not too late to participate in NaNoWriMo this year! Visit their website to get started. It’s free to participate, although donations are welcome. Even if you don’t reach the 50,000 word limit, you will probably be farther along in your novel if you participate.

Vietnam: On the Trail from Then to Now will be released in 2014…if I finish NaNoWriMo this year!

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clip_image004M.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. 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.

© 2013 Brilliance Press. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted without the written consent of the author.