Sunday, September 28, 2014

THE UNINVITED by Sophie Jordan

Imagine your goals, your dreams are just within your grasp and then a scientist you've never met discovers a gene that is common among the most depraved murderers in our nation's prisons and that anyone with this gene has a tendency toward extreme violence. Then, to ensure the safety of all citizens, the government requires everyone to test for this gene...and guess what, you have that gene.

Then the government decides that you and everyone else with that gene must be monitored and controlled. So you are placed on a government watch list and because you're distraught you tell someone, a friend, a coworker, a classmate, someone, about what has happened and soon everyone else knows because the fear of that gene and what the carriers of that gene could do is so great that your friend believes everyone needs to know that you are one of them.

Soon your classmates, your coworkers, even your friends and family are looking at you differently, distancing themselves from you. Your boss tells you not to come back to work, "It's for everyone's safety."

If you own a business, your clients stop coming around and if your raise your voice or lose your temper the government is going to put a mark on you, a tattoo, so that everyone knows your tendency for violence, even if you've never gotten so much as a parking ticket. After all, it's all genetics, right?

The saddest part of this young adult novel by Sophie Jordan is that it could happen. All you have to do is watch the news and watch society. Fear of what could happen or might happen is the ultimate control.

In the novel, THE UNINVITED, no one considers Davy Hamilton's past. How she's been a music prodigy since age three, an honor student and just about one of the nicest people you'll ever meet. All that matters is that suddenly she's been diagnosed as having the "killer" gene and her life is completely changed.

THE UNINVITED is an amazing book, no vampires, no paranormal, none of the usual young-adult fare. This book is just a good old fashioned captivating and compelling read that grabs your interest on page one and holds it until the last page. It reminded me of a cross between Suzanne Collins' THE HUNGER GAMES and George Orwell's 1984.

This book should definitely be on the reading list of every high school. Oh yeah, it's definitely up there with William Golding's LORD OF THE FLIES. It's all about being labeled, how society reacts to that label and how you have a choice between succumbing to their expectations or believing in yourself.

OUTCAST by Cheryl Matthynssens

I recently finished OUTCAST by Cheryl Matthynssens. The heartwarming tale of a half-breed boy, Alador, who is caught between two very different kingdoms. One kingdom reveres dragons and seeks to protect them while the other will do anything to acquire the magical properties of their blood.

From the author's webpage, :

The First of the Series, Outcast introduces the Great Isle set in the world of Vesta.  Two kingdoms interdependent upon one another with vastly different philosophies about dragons and magic vie for survival.  

A young half-breed finds a set of dragon bones and a enormous bloodstone that will change his life forever.  Meet young Alador, the village outcast and follow him to discover what happens when one receives a geas from a dragon.  Nothing will ever be the same!

4 out of 5 stars, but only because of its slow start. Otherwise this is definitely a 5-star book!

Thursday, September 25, 2014


Some books make you cry, some books make you laugh and some may even scare you... But if you're lucky, you'll find a book that does all three. Neil Gaiman's dark, children's book THE GRAVEYARD BOOK does all three. 

I started reading it a while back and decided it wasn't my "cup of tea." Tried again and so very glad I did. This is definitely one I will read again and again.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Caffeine-Induced Epiphanies

As caffeine-induced epiphanies 
Spew forth from this fuzzied core,
I am grateful for that one-less-drink 
I did not partake the night before.

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Fear Factor

A revisit to an old blog post from years passed...

As written in last week's post, my fictional viewpoint has changed to more of a focus on horror and dark fantasy. Bless you, Stephen King, for enlightening me with DUMA KEY.

I must confess, there have been other factors that have guided me this way. I have always been afraid. Afraid of things that go bump in the night, shadows on walls and even car grilles from the 1950s and 60s. The ones that come at you in the night with their glowing eyes and evil grins. 

Of course there was numerous other things that scared me, especially after watching a scary movie. There's the one particular movie I remember for my childhood which involved a violent transformation of society by a Satan-like creature. 

I don't remember the name, but do remember one particular scene where people with "disabilities" (eye glasses, wheelchair bound, etc) were being attacked by other more "perfect" people and fire (brimstone?) was everywhere. In the end, or at least at the point where I was scooted off to bed, a red figure with horns rose from the brimstone. I still remember that movie to this day...

Maybe maturity and education have changed my attitude toward  the fear factor. Or maybe it's just that in recent years I'm not so inclined toward a belief in the Bogeyman nor in the age old concept of a man in red tights. And so armed with an open mind and new ideals, I have descended into the nether realm, horror fiction.

After DUMA KEY came King's BAG OF BONES, my first horrific love story, and Anne Rice's INTERVIEW WITH A VAMPIRE. Nicely done, Anne.

I admit a certain fear and anxiety before my next two cutting-my-teeth novels, S.K.'s  'SALEMS LOT and PET SEMETARY. The movies totally freaked me out, couldn't finish them, but the books were another matter altogether. Maybe it's because books can be put down if they too overwhelming? 

No, I don't think that's it. Actually, for me, there's nothing like great writing. I love a good story where the author takes the time to entertain your mind and captivate your senses all at the the same time. 

Movies just can't give you what a book can.

The imagination is by far the most thrilling and provocative instrument the reader and writer possess. I was there in Jerusalem's Lot walking the streets with Ben Mears. I felt the confusion of each witless victim before they succumbed to the vampire, Kurt Barlow.

I have also found that there is a certain literary requirement to writing horror. The writer must not only tell a good scary story, but he or she must also follow the age-old traditions of writing well. Let's face it, if the Stephen Kings, Anne Rices and Dean Koontzs of the world couldn't write worth a crap, no one would read them...or would we? Would you?

The Muse, the Knife and the Football

I love to write
When the words glide smoothly
Like butter off a hot knife,

I love to write
When ideas burst from my psyche
Like a river during a spring thaw,

I love to write
When my muse dictates so
Clearly my fingers can’t keep up,

I love to write
During the quiet hours when I alone am awake
With no one to interrupt my thoughts

But not today...

Today the stories dance around my head,
Mentally, I can see the characters, sense
Their narratives and even hear their dialogue,

But somehow, from point A to point B
Something is lost, 

No, writing today, is like using
A dull knife to cut a football.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A Writer's Life - Vulnerability

Our secrets, the ones we hold deep within us, afraid to reveal, those are our biggest stumbling blocks. There is a part of us that so deeply wants to be free of that intense mass of pain and regret. If only a safe, merciful avenue of empathetic exposure were found, our vulnerability would be allowed. To lie naked and exposed before others, friends and strangers, that is the hardest act of bravery one could ever do.

I applaud those who are that brave. Not afraid to allow their writing to reveal their deepest, most earth-shattering revelations. But what about the rest of us? We need that release just as much. We need the knots to become unwound. We need the wound to be open to fresh air. In doing so, we too, can heal.

To these poor souls, I say one word, fiction. If our secrets are too profound. If our memories are too hurtful to ourselves or others, why not write in such a manner that allows us to reveal the pain but not expose our reality?

That is the path other writers have followed and for them it has been most healing. For it allows the pain to be handled in smaller doses and displays our memories at a safe distance rather than up close and personal.

To those who have and will endeavor on both the nonfiction and fictional routes, a warm smile, a big hug and a compassionate as well as empathetic “go in Peace” to you my friends, my fellow writers. I am on that path with you. It can be a dark, scary place. But with the love and comfort of friends, we can get through it and be all the better for it, on the other side.

All the best, always,


Fleeting Bliss

The rain upon the desert falls
Drenching it's sweet moisture
Upon the cacti, tall arms lifted up
Embracing the not-so-gentle drops
As in the distance lightning stabs the
Dark sky while thunder, like a rude
House guest, disrupts this fleeting bliss.

Off My Shelf - THE TURQUOISE MASK by Phyllis Whitney

Like most writers, I am an avid collector of books and like most bibliophiles, I collect faster than I can actually read. Going to a library or book store, especially a second hand one, is like going to a candy store for me. Oh look at that great cover! I must read it! Or, oh look, one of my favorite authors, I MUST buy that!

And this is how I managed to acquire Phyllis A. Whitney's THE TURQUOISE MASK. Ms. Whitney's books were favorites of mine back in my teens. So seeing her books in one of my local hunts proved irresistible and as I unleash my new determination to actually read all of the books on my towering bookshelves, I started with hers.

THE TURQUOISE MASK takes place in Santa Fe, New Mexico, a location that proved particularly fascinating to me. I currently live in the neighboring state of Arizona and have long wanted to visit artsy Santa Fe. So, with Ms. Whitney's helps, it was fun and fascinating to learn of its cobbled streets, adobe architecture and Spanish history and within the pages of THE TURQUOISE MASK, I truly felt like I was there.

I love a good mystery, especially one where I can't figure out the ending and the TURQUOISE MASK is one such book. It's only flaw was the romance between the main character, Amanda Austin, and her love interest, Gavin, it seemed a bit forced in the end. But even with this one flaw, it's still a great read.

Giving it four stars and a highly recommend!

Monday, September 8, 2014

They Marched Through My Dream

They marched in a line, through the
Darkness of my dream, their bodies
Engorged as I remembered them, eyes
Wide, frightened, reflecting our betrayal,

To this day I remember her, her loss
I felt so strongly as a child, hearing her
Loud, horrified cries as that man
With his three stubbed fingers,
Forced her onto the bed of his truck,

"No," I had yelled, cried out, she was
My world, my Molly...and she was there
At the head of the line, Molly so big,
So beautiful,

They were all there, Molly, her daughter
Beauty, and Baby, my Becky's mother and some
I hardly remember, ones we hadn't named,
In a long line,

My father, he was gone, but his words,
His history, his indifference remained,
A farm is no place for the soft of heart,
Our food begats our food, the first mistake
Is naming them, the second is loving them,
And the third is sending them to slaughter,

I left the farm right after high school and
Never looked back, the memories, the
Reminders, they still haunt my dreams,
My own private nightmares,
Of a place I can never return to,
And a barn that was both my only haven

And the place of my first, worst nightmare. 

To All of You Who Are Motherly!

Happy Mother's Day to all of you who are motherly! Mother's Day has always been an enigma to me and every year I am puzzled as to...