Cruel Summer won the Honorable Mention Award in the Young Adult–Social Issues category in 2021 Readers' Favorite International Book Award Contest! Readers' Favorite recognizes Cruel Summer by Bernard Jan in its annual international book award contest, currently available at Amazon here. The Readers' Favorite International Book Award Contest featured thousands of contestants from over a dozen countries, ranging from new independent authors to NYT best-sellers and celebrities. Readers' Favorite is one of the largest book review and award contest sites on the Internet. They have earned the respect of renowned publishers like Random House, Simon & Schuster, and Harper Collins, and have received the “Best Websites for Authors” and “Honoring Excellence” awards from the Association of Independent Authors. They are also fully accredited by the BBB (A+ rating), which is a rarity among Book Review and Book Award Contest companies. Readers' Favorite receive thousands of entries from all over the world. Because of these large submission numbers, they are able to break down their contest into 140+ genres, and each genre is judged separately, ensuring that books only compete against books of their same genre for a fairer and more accurate competition. They receive submissions from independent authors, small publishers, and publishing giants such as Random House, HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster, with contestants that range from the first-time, self-published author to New York Times bestsellers like J.A. Jance, James Rollins, and #1 best-selling author Daniel Silva, as well as celebrity authors like Jim Carrey (Bruce Almighty), Henry Winkler (Happy Days), and Eriq La Salle (E.R., Coming to America). “When the right books are picked as winners we pay attention. We will be spreading the word about Readers' Favorite.”—Karen A., Editor for Penguin Random House Readers' Favorite is proud to announce that Cruel Summer by Bernard Jan won the Honorable Mention Award in the Young Adult–Social Issues category. You can learn more about Bernard Jan and Cruel Summer at Reader's Favorite where you can read reviews and the author's biography, as well as connect with the author directly or through their website and social media pages. “Bernard did a wonderful job of creating a beautifully written and compelling story that is very descriptive so that the reader feels immersed in the story. I enjoyed the detailed skateboarding stunt instructions at the start of each chapter. His characters were brilliantly written and very compelling.”—Rolanda Lyles for Readers' Favorite Please check out Cruel Summer at BookAwards.Com. Thank you. BJ Subscribe to my mailing list. Follow me on Twitter. Original post: https://www.bernardjan.com/post/readers-favorite-honorable-mention-award-for-cruel-summer
For three months last winter I stayed at a cold weather shelter (the shelter is opened from end of October to the1st of April.). The people at the shelter had some severe health issue. There were a lot of people there with “severe mental health issues” (if you get SSI or Social Security people with mental health issues are dumped in low-income housing if you don't get a check you are among the homeless.). One pretty young woman who legal name is Ashley, but she went by another name Martha. One cold morning Ashley decided to go outside barefoot and with no coat on. Another woman named Linda used to live under a bridge when the shelter was closed. Another homeless person named Mike (we called him chemical mike), all he would talk about is all the investigations into chemical leaks in the area. Another homeless person was Dan. Dan was a veteran who drank a lot. Dan was a savant when it came to music. Dan could tell you the name of a song, its artist, the year the song came out, and where it when to on the charts, just from listening to a couple of notes of a song. Because Dan drank a lot he ended up in hospital a lot (suicide attempts). You had to leave the shelter by 7 am. Dan would go to grocery store and ask people if he could take the carts back to cart area (there was a 25 cent deposit on the carts, when you put the chain back in the cart that was already there the quarter came out. That was Dan's panhandling day). I tried to help Dan out by giving him a couple of dollars (Dan was one of the homeless who weren't motivated to help their situation, the “chronic homeless”. Another young woman cut herself and had to be taken to the hospital. Another person was arguing with staff and not making much sense, he was escorted out of the shelter. There was one homeless person who stated “I can't wait for the shelter to be opened next year”. Shelters are temporary housing, they are not meant to replace regular housing. There was one woman named Lisa who I spent some time hanging around with at the shelter. Lisa had been homeless for six years, she kept all her belongings in a grocery cart and the shelter let her keep the cart there. She told me a story how she got be homeless, her boss where she was working found out the she was sole provider for her and got her fired just because he thought it would be funny. Lisa stated that she wasn't in contact with her family. I liked Lisa a lot. One night she had breathing problems, and was taken to the hospital. Lisa had no other person to call a friend, she stayed to herself. I like Lisa a lot (and due to my proclivity for the downtrodden) I went up to see Lisa in the hospital. One day I brought her clothes, and her bags on another day. She was to have a follow up visit with a doctor once she left the hospital, however Lisa had no money, no insurance, and no way to get to the doctor's. After the shelter closed on April 1st Lisa went to live under a bridge. Several other homeless people followed her. The bridge was next to police station. Several fights broke out among the other homeless people and the police eventually ran off everyone who was living under the bridge. At this time I was working two jobs and living in my car. One job was working in another state (Winchester, VA) after work I would drive to the bridge where Lisa was staying and would give her money for food. I had it, she didn't and because of the way I feel about her I could just let her starve. One time when I went to the bridge where Lisa was staying I asked her if she wanted to go on a date to a fast food restaurant just up the street from where she was staying. Lisa stated that the last time she left her belongings unattended she ended up getting in trouble. I also ended up getting Lisa a bracelet. I always told Lisa that I would get both of us out of homelessness (I really wanted to, I wouldn't have minded spending the rest of my life with her.). It didn't quite work out that way. A former policeman who is now a social worker helped get Lisa into low income housing and I eventually ended up in a second floor apartment that I had to give up a couple of weeks later because of breathing problems. I qualified for food stamps when I was unemployed and I went to a food pantry. I ended up donating the food to the shelter. This was my way of give back to the people who have helped me. Any little thing I could do to help out. In the time since, I have developed some health problems (I had to give up a couple of jobs because of them.). There was one time I donated food to the shelter, that I also gave them a knitted scarf to give to Lisa, I hoped she enjoyed it (It was around Valentine's day and I considered it a Valentine's gift to Lisa.). Lisa if you are reading this just know that I love you.
Long ago, my health became detrimental to normal life. First intermittent, now it's more often having escalated at a city shelter. I could no longer continue to work or finish my university studies pending health changes. Shelter food made me choke, vomit or sent me to the loo. It affects me daily. Every meal is sheer torture: I never know if I'll keep it down. A fluoroscopy confirmed that frequent up-chucking has narrowed and scarred my esophagus irreversibly. These dark times must pass. Like a boa constrictor who regurgitates barely-digested animals complete with that sticky gelatinous saliva, my choking is a lengthy painful process. Unfortunately, my constant throwing up isn't seen as an ingenious way of avoiding danger. The turkey vulture purposefully pukes up an entire stomach's wing-heavy contents, so that a rare predator will turn away from the maggot-infested stinky shit and rotting carcasses. My purging is just plain embarrassing and uncontrollable. Like boas who feed on rodents, songbirds, lizards and other small mammals, my normal diet is varied. My favorite meal is fish/seafood, rice/risotto and grilled vegetables. I like chicken, beef, lamb, and pork but can't consume these proteins without painful hard swallows. I can relate to captive boas prone to Inclusion Body Disease characterized by chronic regurgitation and abnormal painful postural positions: their challenges are like mine with Eosinophilic Esophagitis and other serious ills. Like a non-venomous boa, I wrap my coils around my faith. With God around me, I trust that things will improve henceforth. Also coiling myself around my friends, church family and sister, they act as the editors of my life and writings. Like the monogamous vulture, I'm fiercely loyal to those I love. Now others need to stick by me through thick and thin. Dark days must soon pass. Like boas whose habitat is threatened, so is mine, as Toronto's housing crisis means rising costs and limited affordable accessibility. As boas have adapted their perambulation to a straight line, I adjust to the times. Extinction threatens vultures too: they are poisoned by eating dead livestock given medication toxic to them. Shelters have fed me food months-to-a-year-beyond-expiration dates, poisonous to my now-delicate system. By picking dead carcasses clean, unsuspecting environmentalist turkey vultures are on clean-up and recycling duty to prevent the spread of disease. Their acute sense of smell has helped gas companies detect gas leaks as vultures circled attracted to the smell of gas also found in dead animals. Concerned with the environment, I enter contests funding tree plantings, clean-ups, and literacy programs. When migrating or searching for food, vultures congregate in ‘kettles' flocks of several hundred. I feed off the Salvation Army Bible study groups, kettle-crazed too. Like a baby boa, I was immediately independent, somehow discerning appropriate food without instruction. According to my father, I was ‘contrary' from birth refusing to drink my ‘milkies' and spewing up formula. My parents fed me pediatrician-recommended melted ice-cream. Somehow, I survived my first year, lactose intolerance then unknown. Again, I puke up constantly: it's hard to get nutrients into me. I'm not like others. I never thought as others do. Research is in my blood. An independent thinker, I can figure out most things with little or no instruction. Nowadays, Google becomes my first line of defense when faced with an unknown. Similar to boas and turkey vultures I hiss if threatened or encountering social injustice or iniquities upon the vulnerable. My sometimes-biting words are intended to propel others to act. Now I observe people's movements and utterances. Like an eagle-eyed vulture, I wait for the next juicy story. I write stories for contests. I may win one or not. But either way I'm the better for honing my observational, research and writing skills. Contests keep me alive. Everyday I write to achieve self-imposed entry deadlines. Too busy to worry about all the exigent conditions around me, including my own life's horrors, I focus elsewhere. Dark periods will lift someday. Till then, I keep my mind active even when my body fails me. Sometimes I write in floods like the expulsion of a boa's or vulture's stomach contents. Virginia Woolf's stream-of-consciousness. Other times I hover, searching for words. Like a vulture circling its prey from high to low altitudes, I scavenge for details to fuel my stories by people-watching. My prey is not physically dead. Yet like the city's forgotten vulnerable many are dead in prospects, motivations, hopes and dreams. Like the turkey vulture circling overhead, I hope for that tasty tidbit. Rather than with menacing size, I want my writings to stand out shining a light on social injustice. I want to change minds - ‘What ifs” to ‘right now.' I'm different. Boa-Turkey-Vulture Me.
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