Wednesday, February 20, 2013


Let's ask the author of 'Better than a Rabbit's Foot'... 
To get a FREE copy of Better Than a Rabbit's Foot, to review,
answer the simple question at the end of this post.
Hi Stan,
Your short story has recently been released through MuseItUp Publishing. Can you tell us a little about what inspired you to write “Better Than A Rabbit’s Foot”?

I was deployed in 2006-2007 with a security force, SECFOR, battalion. We were based at a camp a mile south of the Iraqi border from which Soldiers escorted convoys into Iraq every day. 

We had casualties from Improvised Explosive Devices. And lot of Soldiers had lucky charms that they took with them on missions. 

So I thought of a story about a Soldier preparing to go north, and upon learning of the death of a fellow Soldier he becomes painfully aware that he does not have a lucky charm. 

And the story took off from there. 

By the way, because I was an HR NCO I only went north on three short missions, and nothing happened. Not that I believe in lucky charms, but throughout my deployment I always wore a Celtic cross with my “dog tags.”

Who knows what would have happened if you didn't wear them. I am glad you did. 
Military fiction. Is your story based on your own experiences?

No. I was not lucky enough to have such a lucky charm mailed to me. The overall military background of course, is due to my military career and deployment experience.

What made you choose a short story formula rather than a novel?

I find short stories easier to write because they are—short. And for me the editing process takes a long time. It can take hours to edit a 3,000-5,000 word short story. Writing and editing an 85,000+ word novel is, well, not terrifying, but—anyway. I have made the move into writing novellas, though.

LOL My first series began as one book around 250k long. I don't understand short stories, so I find your choice interesting.
Writing the story is only half the exercise though, isn’t it.

Oh yeah. As I said, editing takes a long time. I have a tendency to write the way I speak and that isn’t always suitable for a literary effort. 

So after writing and letting the story sit for awhile, I return with fresh eyes and make one “editing sweep.” 

After a little while a second sweep, and finally a third. Sometimes a fourth. Then I will finally submit the story—the entire process can take several months for a short story, let alone a much larger novella or novel.

 I only restrict the number of my editings because I can edit forever, agonizing over a word, a phrase, commas, etc. 

On a more pleasurable level, research is another part of the writing process. Quality research can help get around the “write what you know” mantra, and it assists in creating a believable world, whether a world orbiting a distant star or the world of a law office. 

And on a business level, be sure to develop your own marketing plan in addition to whatever your publisher has in mind. There are a lot of publishers and a lot of books out there—be patient and be persistent because unless you are extremely lucky, it can take time to find an audience so that your literary career can take off. 

As you noted, writing is only part of the entire exercise.

What was the hardest hurdle for you in getting your short story published?

The hardest hurdle is matching the story with the publisher. There’s a lot of publishers out there, and the story may not fit many of them. 

For this particular story, it went to five different publishers in a three year period, and it evolved from 1,000 words to its current incarnation. 

Fortunately, MIU liked it and saw sales potential.

What do you mean by “evolved”?

I mention above the story evolving from 1,000 words to its current almost 5,000 words. I believe in what I write and I know how to tell a story, but after several rejections, and letting the story sit for awhile, I will go back and read it carefully. I often see where something can be expanded or where something can be deleted, all to improve the story. 

Perhaps what I see is why the story was not being accepted for publication. I do not do this after every rejection, but when there are several in a row, it may be that I am missing something, hence the careful re-read.

Have you always been a writer?

I have wanted to be a writer since I was 15 years old, but there were many years when I did not write. My military career and ordinary civilian jobs, combined with family responsibilities, took precedent.

I am glad you have time to write now Stan. It has been great to have you as a guest. Now for more information about

Sergeant Jerry Stanton is a young soldier serving in the War in Iraq. He is a gunner on a gun truck nicknamed “Lucky Bear,” one of those tireless workhorses that escort supply convoys from camps in Kuwait to destinations scattered throughout the war-torn country.

 In the early morning hours before a scheduled mission, a dust storm howls across his camp and threatens to bring convoy operations to a halt. Worse, the camp receives word that a gunner from his company was killed by an IED while on a convoy mission. 

Unlike most soldiers, Jerry doesn’t carry a lucky charm, but upon receiving news of the death of the gunner, he begins to mull over/ponder the merit/virtue of a good luck charm—only, what would work for him? Perhaps mail call will provide the answer.

 “People like a happy ending.”

Sergeant Jerry Stanton, an M4 Carbine slung across his chest, glanced at the dark form that trudged alongside him in the hot, early morning darkness. It was all the darker for the dust storm howling across the small camp, a dusty and sandy convoy support center, CSC, a mile south of the Iraqi border. He placed his hand over the tall styrofoam coffee cup from the messhall that was open at all hours to serve those about to head out on a mission. He felt the itchy dust filtering down his back, along his arms, and coating his fingers.

In spite of his short time deployed to Kuwait, he had learned that dust storms were worse than sand storms; they were hot and itchy while the sand storms stung exposed skin and chilled the air. Breakfast was good but tasted flat, more due to the question of whether their mission would be a go or no-go because of the storm that roared out of the midnight darkness hours before.


“People like a happy ending,” the soldier repeated. He was a gunner from another gun truck as the squat, venerable M1114 HMMWVs, which were never meant to be combat vehicles, were called. He held up a rabbit foot that spun frantically in the wind and added, “I like a happy ending.  Especially now.” 

They rounded the corner of a small building, actually a renovated mobile home trailer with a covered wooden porch lit by a bare electric bulb. The gunner pointed to a small black flag, suspended from a log overhang, flapping furiously in the wind.

“Oh shit.” Jerry sighed as a cold chill raced through him.

“It’s been there for an hour or so,” the soldier said as he enclosed the rabbit’s foot within both hands and brought it up to his lips as if to kiss it. He glanced at Jerry. “I’m not superstitious, but still, I mean, there’s nothing wrong with having a lucky charm. You know?”

“Yeah.” Jerry nodded as he watched the twisting flag. “I know.”

The soldier looked once more at the black flag and then walked toward the shower and restroom trailers beyond which were the air-conditioned sleeping tents they called home…

BETTER THAN A RABBIT'S FOOT from Museitup Publishing.


SS Hampton, Sr. is a full-blood Choctaw of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, a divorced grandfather to 13 grandchildren, and a veteran of Operations Noble Eagle (2004-2006) and Iraqi Freedom (2006-2007).

 He has served in the Army National Guard since October 2004, and holds the rank of staff sergeant. He is a published photographer and photojournalist, an aspiring painter, and is studying for a degree in photography and anthropology—hopefully to someday work in underwater archaeology. 

His writings have appeared as stand-alone stories, and in anthologies from Dark Opus Press, Edge Science Fiction & Fantasy, Melange Books, Musa Publishing, MuseItUp Publishing, Ravenous Romance, and as stand-alone stories in Horror Bound Magazine, Ruthie’s Club, Lucrezia Magazine, The Harrow, and River Walk Journal, among others.

As of December 2011, he became the latest homeless Iraq war veteran in Las Vegas, Nevada.

" In June 2007 we were one month away from returning home and in several months my original enlistment in the Guard would be over. I wanted more time to decide whether to stay in. So, what better place for a writer to sign a 1-year extension than at the Great Ziggurat of Ur, Sumeria (Tallil AFB, Iraq), where writing was invented?"
It has been great to learn more about you and your writing.  I love your bios image. What an incredible place and photo. 

To get a FREE copy of 
BETTER THAN A RABBIT'S FOOT, to review, just answer this simple question...
What did SS HAMPTON SR carry while deployed?
and email your answer to the author.


Edith Parzefall said...

Great interview and excerpt. I'm not superstitious, not really, but I'd hold on tight to a good luck charm in this situation.

Anonymous said...


I'm glad you enjoyed the interview. Thanks for dropping by.


Rosalie Skinner said...

Hi Edith,
I would be hanging on to a lucky charm too.
I have always wondered why the rabbits foot was considered lucky? Surely losing it wasn't lucky for the rabbit?
Do you know why it is considered lucky Stan?

Anonymous said...


Actually, no I don't. As you say, it definitely wasn't lucky for the rabbit.


Rosalie Skinner said...

I looked up 'rabbit's foot' on google... and found the wikipedia post says it's not just any rabbit's foot used for a good luck charm, the rabbit should be caught/shot in a cemetery, on a Friday, (13th) in the full or new moon, deciding on what you believe, with a silver bullet, and some rituals want the foot taken off while the rabbit is alive.

It is a good charm to avoid hoodoo. According to the post.

So... there you go.

What's lucky for some, is definitely NOT lucky for the rabbit.

The post didn't explain why the ritual requires a rabbit...

Edith Parzefall said...

Very interesting, Rosalie. Rather sounds like it should be a werewolf's foot with all these rituals. :-)

Anonymous said...


I didn't know obtaining a rabbit's foot could be so...challenging. That might almost make a story all by itself.


Rosalie Skinner said...

hehe Stan, it could make a story in itself.
Just hopefully NOT from the rabbit's Point of View. :)

I wonder how something obtained in such dark conditions could be considered lucky... then I think of shrunken heads... they were collected for luck too, weren't they.
Again, not so lucky for the donor.
Interesting/intriguing customs and rituals.

You have to love research don't you? It is one of the FUN parts of writing fiction. Learning the facts before you weave a story.

Jodi said...

Rabbit's foot. Eww! Frankly, Stan's MC reaps way BETTER rewards at mail call... That's all I'm saying. =)

Joelle Walker, Editor

Rosalie Skinner said...

I must read Better Than A Rabbit's Foot... to find out.
:) Thanks for dropping in Jodi.