Friday, March 29, 2013

Hi

Today author and blogger Rhiann Wynn Nolet featured an article I wrote on Truth in Fiction.  Here is the link to that article and to her awesome blog!

 http://rhiannwynnnolet.com/guest-author-beth-winokur/


Bye!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

C.M. Brown: NEW RELEASES Christine's Oddyssey and Sunshine in ...

C.M. Brown: NEW RELEASES Christine's Oddyssey and Sunshine in ...: Howdy. I’m glad you’ve stopped in. My name is Christine and although I’m only eleven, I’m what some adults might call precocious....

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Shhhh....Thoughts in Progress


Hi Friends,

There are times when I’m producing non stop and other times where I’m absorbing information and find myself lost in thought. Those latter times are usually when I’m the most quiet and the least productive.  This past week I was lucky enough to be exposed to the top three best things in the world… music, art, and books, but I have little to say about the experience (let alone a review) – not that the paintings, books, and music weren’t great (because they were), but because my voice is quiet.  Since this blog is titled In Search of Truth and Beauty, I have to be truthful and admit that I have nothing worthwhile  to say this week – other then I’m always amazed at what humans can do when they pair imagination with ability. 

My lack of a voice could also be because my subconscious is working through some things (with my current projects).  A quote just found its way to my desk (literally, as I was typing a paper was dropped on my desk) which explains what I’m getting at, and how I feel right now about what my brain is doing (funny how that happens).

“…The diligent effort of my brain, working ‘behind my back,’ without seeking my approval”              –Arnold Schoenberg.

This is the shower theory (I’ve heard the theory called by other names too)... it’s where problems are solved while we’re doing mundane things. Chores occupy our conscious while our subconscious is busy at work finding the elegant solution to whatever creative obstacle we have encountered.  With that said, I have a door to paint, some cucumbers and lilies to plant as well as some tomatoes to water.  With any hope, my voice will surface next week and I’ll feel up to sharing all the beauty I stumbled upon. 
Meanwhile, here is a picture I took at the Getty a couple months back.  Looking at art can have the same effect on your brain as love :) 
Lilies by Van Gogh

Since I don’t have anything to write about, I thought I’d leave the floor open to whoever would like to promote their own projects (or someone else’s, that always nice too) or discuss their current works in progress. So please bark away…pretend you’re a carnie trying to get people to come to your booth… hook us?

I’ll go first…Sunshine in Darkness will be FREE next weekend (03/29 through 04/01) So please get yourself a copy!! And if you have time, please write a review.  If I could, I would sing a song to every reviewer that has taken the time to write about their take on Sunshine ;0)

One last thing, I have been consistently blogging on Friday’s but that has become difficult to maintain.  So I’m changing my blog day, please look for new post on Sundays J 

Lots of love to everyone (especially reviewers :) and here’s to a new week!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Random Thoughts: 5 ★★★★★ review of Sunshine in Darkness by Beth Win...

Random Thoughts: 5 ★★★★★ review of Sunshine in Darkness by Beth Win...: Rose Sunshine Pilgrim is a seventeen-year-old who’s never spoken to a human whose body has been infested from birth by an Intruder, a wraith...

Friday, March 15, 2013

Interview with Sharon Bayliss and Review of The Charge


How-do!

This week I was lucky enough to interview author Sharon Bayliss and review her debut novel The Charge. 

The Charge’s blurb:

When King of the Texas Empire kidnaps Warren's brother, Warren embarks into a still       Wild West to save him. On his journey, he makes a discovery that changes his life forever—he and his brother are long-lost members of the Texas royal family and the King wants them both dead. 

 He gets help from an activist Texan named Lena, who's itching to take on the King and happens to be a beautiful firecracker Warren can't stay away from. Convincing her he's not one of the bad guys becomes harder when a mysterious energy stirs in his body, turning his brain into a hive of emotions and memories—not all his own.

 A legacy of violence is not all he inherited from the brutal Kings of Texas. The myth that the royal family possesses supernatural powers may not be myth at all.

 Gone are the days when choosing a major was a big deal. Now Warren must save his brother and choose whether or not to be King, follow a King, or die before he can retire his fake ID. 

 

***

The Review

 I would first like to say that I am partial to any story that is layered with politics, especially one that pits democracy against monarchy (I majored in Political Science and love fictional politics – real stuff not so much). So after reading the blurb I was excited to read Sharon’s book.  Not only does she know how to write a compelling blurb (ha ha ha – what a great figure of speech!), she writes a damn fine book!  Great job, Sharon!

The characters were well developed; I really rooted for Warren and Lena and even found myself occasionally cheering for the bad guys.

I enjoy the way Sharon constructed the story.  Her use of third-person narrative while occasionally changing the focal character gives the story an immediacy and helps to keep things fresh and interesting.

There were times when I was reading where, had the character and I been talking, we would have said the same thing at the same time.  I would have been owed lots of Cokes…if you don’t know what that means, then I’m sorry, you had no childhood—maybe you’re a robot or a Caebellum (you’ll have to read the book to find out what a Caebellum is).

Additionally, I really liked the alternate history aspect of The Charge.  “The Texas Empire” …who doesn’t feel giddy whenever those words are next to each other?  It sounds like it should have some Ben-Hur timpani along with it.

Sharon also left room for a sequel (thank you – I’ll definitely be reading it!) while still managing to tie up enough loose ends to give a satisfying end.

There’s also some romantic tension for all you lovers of the mushy stuff too: not enough to overwhelm or detract from the story, but enough to sweeten things up and which I would have missed were it not there.

I can easily see The Charge as a bestseller. I have already recommended it to my seventeen-year-old son.  I don’t think I even need to say it, but this book gets 6 stars out of 5 (my version of 11, as in “it’s one louder”).

***

Quotes

 

“Lean had always believed in the soul. But only on faith, until that moment.  She felt hers now. He touched it. She pictured the soul as a point of light near the heart, but it ran like electricity through her entire body and mingled with the energy outside her skin. It felt he gently tugged on parts of her soul. She didn’t feel pain, but she could hardly bear the intimacy.”



The next pulse of pain might take out his heart. Wetness slid down his neck he guessed blood at first, but no, he was weeping. He knew the tears meant he wanted to live. He wanted it more than he had ever wanted anything.”

 

You’ve been brainwashed by the U.S. anti-Texas propaganda if you believe Texans aren’t up to fighting for their nation. They are a nation of ready-made soldiers who love their country like they love their wives.”

 

***

 

The Interview

 

Tell us about your most recent work.

When the King of the Texas Empire kidnaps Warren's genius brother, Warren embarks into a still-wild West to save him. On his journey, he makes a discovery that changes his life forever—he and his brother are long-lost members of the Texas royal family and the King wants them both dead.

Who inspired/helped you the most?  (they can be dead or alive)

I give credit to my husband. Fortunately, he's too kind and stable to inspire a book character, but definitely falls into the "helpful" category. He's supported me the whole way, even though it hasn't always been easy.

What are your five favorite books and why?

-Harry Potter (all of them) – Just a wonderfully entertaining story.

-1984, The Handmaid's Tale, & Oryx & Crake – Inspired my love of dystopia.

-Warm Bodies – The last a book I read. A great example of an unique spin on usual tropes.

 

What are you working on right now?

Oh, trying to manage all my responsibilities without going crazy. Did you mean in writing? J Currently, I'm working on a short story that I wish to submit to an anthology with other authors form Curiosity Quills Press.

What were some of the obstacles you encountered while writing your book and how did you overcome them?

Where to begin? J One challenge that hit me hard was classifying my novel. It's right on the edge between YA & adult. It mixes sci-fi and fantasy. And it's an alternate history. I'm proud that it mixes genres, but that can make it hard to market, so agents and publishers were hesitant. Fortunately, Curiosity Quills Press was up to the challenge.

Lastly, if you had to give a one-hour lecture to a hundred 13 year-olds….what would be the topic of your lecture? Why?

That is a creative question! If I'm allowed a little flexibility, I don't think an hour-long lecture would be appropriate for 13 year olds. I put together an active activity. Maybe a scavenger hunt or a kickball tournament. If I was forced to do a lecture, at the risk of upsetting their parents, I might instruct them on sex education and healthy relationships. I did one of my social work internships at a middle school and it was my job to teach 8th grade girls about healthy relationships. A tough task, but an important topic for that age. 

 


Sharon's Links

Blog/Website: www.sharonbayliss.com





*Sharon is also hosting a free giveaway from now until the end of the month (3/31)



 Y’all come back now, y’hear?

Friday, March 8, 2013

A Nod to the Prince


Feasgar Math (Scots Gaelic for “Good Afternoon/Evening”),

This week I had the double-pleasure of interviewing author Mike Robinson and reviewing his most recent book, The Prince of Earth.  This book falls under the horror and psychological thriller category and delivered both. The prose flowed as if it were a literary fiction novel, and I found myself feeling both frightened and uplifted—which is a strange feeling, it’s how I think a Jim Jones conference would feel like (“pass the Kool-Aid”).

First the Interview:

+++

Tell us about your most recent work.

As with many books, I both intentionally and unwittingly skirt genre categorization (mostly unwittingly), but my latest, The Prince of Earth, can be tentatively slotted on the Horror shelf. What kind of “horror” it is, though, can vary: there are elements strongly psychological, surreal, and monstrous. The story follows a young woman named Quincy Redding, a fantasy geek and adventurer, who in 1988 is capping off a solo European backpacking trip by climbing the infamously haunted peak Ben MacDui, in the Cairngorms of Scotland. Simultaneously, we follow her also in 2008, twenty years later, when as a mother and businesswoman she begins experiencing mounting anomalies that may be related to a mysterious encounter in 1988, atop MacDui. The eras become entwined. You question her, you question yourself.

Who inspired/helped you the most?  (they can be dead or alive)

For The Prince of Earth specifically, I called on the still-living spirits of Cormac McCarthy and Haruki Murakami. McCarthy because I wanted to paint a rich atmosphere, a landscape as much a character as was the wild, battle-ravaged Southwest in his opus, Blood Meridian. Murakami because I love his surreal enigmas, how with every page his characters stumble on yet another colorful crack in the world, and how constantly he leaves you transfixed, wondering, What is happening? How is this happening? It feels almost personal, as if it’s your own world unraveling its weirdness. Finally, I should acknowledge Lovecraft, the grandaddy of unfathomable, malicious grandeur. I love things beyond explanation, and I suppose that’s the binding theme here -- Blood Meridian’s antagonist Judge Holden, Murakami’s nether-worlds and Lovecraft’s creatures all transcend proper definition.

What are your five favorite books and why?

That’s a difficult pick. I love so many books, and their positions on any list is selfsame, as in, they’ll always be on the list, but their status may depend on certain moods, days, or phases of my life. Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury is up there, for its remarkable ability to make the ordinary feel fantastical (Steinbeck does this, too, though I prefer Bradbury’s hand). There’s a tie between Vonnegut’s Galapagos and his Breakfast of Champions, both of which, operating on Vonnegut’s characteristic zaniness, deliver biting, ageless and much-needed satire. My favorite non-fiction is still Conversations with God, a straight-forward, beautifully written book that, to its high credit, finds authentic middle-ground between traditional religion and empiricism. The aforementioned Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy makes the list, for its extraordinary craft, and equally extraordinary villain, the judge. And last I’d say Cervantes’ Don Quixote, for its hilarious experiments in meta-narrative, the wonderful exchange between Don and Sancho, and how organic it feels: half a millennium later, you still get the sense it’s being written as you read it. It’s also infectious -- more than once I felt compelled to strike out on my own wayward journey. Runner-up favorites are West’s Miss Lonelyhearts, Sinclair’s Main Street, Joyce’s Ulysses, Stephen King’s It, Doris Lessing’s A Briefing for a Descent Into Hell, Hermann Hesse’s Demian, Mark Danielweski’s House of Leaves, anything by Mark Twain and way too many others.

What are you working on right now?

Right now I’m buried in editorial projects, for myself and for others (I’m a freelance editor, and also work for my publisher, Curiosity Quills Press). Writing-wise, I’m beginning a collaboration with indie bestseller Aiden James, on the third installment of his series, Talisman Chronicles. My next novel, Negative Space, a quirky thriller / art satire / road journey / metaphysical work (remember, Genres, I’m none too loyal) will release August 17th this year.

What were some of the obstacles you encountered while writing your book and how did you overcome them?

Lately, in beginning projects, as a word or two squeaks out, as everything sounds wooden or banal, I get hung up in neurotic analysis of, How the hell did I ever do this before? But I know it’s me getting better, becoming less indiscriminate about what I initially throw at the page. I certainly experienced this in starting The Prince of Earth. I don’t outline, so I let the world, and especially Quincy, take me where I needed to go. It was slow, but gradually picked up steam. Editorially, the challenge came in pruning way back on the marshland of verbiage in that 1st draft, and realizing maybe I wasn’t so discriminate after all. But in all honesty, this book came a little more full-formed than others, and for that I’m always thankful.

Lastly, if you had to give a one-hour lecture to a hundred 13 year-olds….what would be the topic of your lecture? Why?

Hmm. Dinosaurs? Or they’d be “too old” for that, maybe (as for some reason gigantic prehistoric creatures with gnashing teeth, who devoured and impaled each other, are a child’s thing). Maybe I’d try to smuggle in a history lesson by discussing the “ancient astronaut” theory, the idea that extraterrestrials have influenced, even guided, our civilization. I’d also try to implore them to later on get into the sciences or the arts, as this world has had its fill of those running amok in finance, business and law. It’s hard, because I’m trying to go off of what would have interested me at that time, which I know differed starkly from many other peers. Oh, those kids today (and then).

+++


Prince of Earth Blurb:

It had come back.
            It had come back and it was stronger.
            It’s been twenty years. Not again. Not now.
            Not anytime.

            In 1988, young American traveler Quincy Redding is trekking across the misty terrain of the Scottish Highlands. She is destined for the infamous peak Ben MacDui, the summit of which soon finds her inexplicably debilitated and at the mercy of a malevolent entity.

            The book spans twenty years, alternately following Quincy in her 1988 ordeal in Scotland             as well as Quincy in 2008, when, as an adult, she begins experiencing abnormalities that        threaten her family and her life – phenomena that may be related to what happened all those years ago.

            As both older and younger Quincy learn more of their situation, and as their worlds           further entwine, she becomes increasingly uncertain of the perceived temporality or reality of each period.

+++

My Review of The Prince of Earth:

1. This book had great use of language, great story, ripe little nuggets of wisdom (did I mention this book has substance), and lots of creepy!! I give it five out of five stars.

2.  I really enjoyed this book.  Once, while having a bout of insomnia, I sat on my couch; it was about three am (prime time to read horror).  I remember thinking: that’s creepy, poor Quincy, wow that’s messed up… and then all of a sudden the book took me somewhere even darker than I’d expected. I became paralyzed on my couch, thinking: if I get up the Prince will find me. That was also the exact moment my enormous German Shepherd decided to bark at an empty corner (which gave me a nice little panic attack).

What the hell, Mike Robinson?  A little, “this book is going to mess you up,” warning would have been nice.

3. This book hooked me from the beginning. I repeated the phrase, “I’m reading,” so often that after a while I think the person or persons who disturbed me heard another phrase, one that sounded a lot like “piss-off” or something to that effect.  Good job, Mike!

 
Quotes

+++

“She meditated, aligning the three blocks of her being, as best she could. Her body raced. Her mind raced. Her soul was oddly quiet.”

“You thought of the Shoe Tree, which you’d only seen once—a group of junior high and high school kids had decorated a remote tree by the waterfall with dozens and dozens of old shoes.  They hung like dirty old earrings, their laces like encrusted moss. What was the significance of that anyway? Art? A place to do drugs? You didn’t know. You couldn’t remember.”

“People,” said the prince, “do not have so much memories but fantasies of the past, and these fantasies are often influenced by those of the present, or dreams of the future.  Nostalgia is a symptom of this.  I find inspiration in people’s creations. I devour them as they are the bulk of my material.”

+++

Well that’s the blog for this week.  I am off this week to listen to bluegrass, and jazz and I think a harpist. I love music…a bonus is the bluegrass group, The Rivertucky Ramblers, is playing a song called Mi Calida Forno (I wrote the lyrics and my husband wrote the music). It’s a love song to the San Andreas Fault and the American Southwest.I’ll try to get a recording and post it next week.

Latha Math (that’s “bye bye” in Scots Gaelic)

Friday, March 1, 2013

Dr. Seuss and Aliens


Hello alien friends,

This week’s blog is, unfortunately, on the anemic side.  I don’t have a new book to review …not because haven’t sunk my teeth into something good (actually, I’m something of a book whore – more on that next week).  It’s because life has been busy…my daughter’s baseball season is up and running, and I’ve been writing more than I’ve been reading.

I’ve also attended some writing meetings and a lecture at the Ontario Library—(what’s up San Bernardino Library?  I have to travel some 35 miles to be involved in the SoCal-writing world).  I listened to a lecture by literary agent and lawyer Paul Levine on Wednesday night.  The lecture was eye-opening; filled with lots of information – some quite bitter going down.  However, as Dr. Seuss says,

                                    There are so many things you can learn about, but
                                    You’ll miss the best things if you keep your eyes shut.

 So I’m glad I learned.

At yet another writer’s meeting (again, thanks to the city of Ontario) we were prompted to write about how we identify ourselves – not the suit we put on every day before we exit our front doors – but how we view ourselves.  Then we were asked to write about who influenced or nurtured our identity.  Since I don’t have much to discuss this week, I thought I would share it.

***

Kurt Vonnegut does not accept bad behavior (harming others) because he believes, much as I do, that humans are capable of, for lack of a better word, more.  He finds humor in everything, whether it is his belief that we are all here to fart around, or that we should never use a semicolon because of its hermaphroditic nature.  He believes in staying honest and striving to be a better person…which is why when asked how I identify myself, I say: I’m an alien striving to become human.

 

Good thing no one believes in aliens. J

Well that’s all folks.

Next week I’ll review, The Prince of the Earth by Mike Robinson. 

As always, feel free to leave a comment.