Monday, March 31, 2014

Review - Orison by Daniel Swensen

By Daniel Swensen
Publisher: Nine Muse Press
Copyright: 2014
Format: eBook

I have been told I am a critical reader.  And it is true a 4-star review is hard to pull out of me, much less a 5-star review.  I am also not much of a high fantasy reader; I prefer urban/low fantasy with familiar settings.  So the fact that I believe Orison to be a 5-star high fantasy book should give you an indication of how fantastic this book truly is.

The writing was beautiful.  The grammar was solid; the sentence structure was solid; the story flowed and the pacing was spot on.  Character depth was present and the story had just enough background and setting description to move things along without being "too much information."  The final scene was amazing and pulled the story in tight.

The story itself was intoxicating.  I had a hard time putting this book down.  Even when I knew certain events were inevitable, I wouldn't know how the characters would get from point A to point B.  I loved watching the characters motivation shift as the story progressed.  I loved the unique take on dragons and their part in the bigger scheme/story arc.  But mostly I loved the main character Story.  She was awesome in an understated way and the other characters moved around her without truly noticing her until the very end.  It was all excellent story telling.

Mr. Swensen pulled me into his world and held me tight - a tourist on holiday watching the pieces lock into place and the story unfold almost as if I were standing on the streets of Calushain itself.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Monday Morning Cracks

A long weekend full of work, frustration, and tears yields a very raw, very un-edited poem.  I think it has potential but I need to come back to it when it's not so fresh.


Moving thru the cracks
Eyes burning
Head full of noise
Pounding to a song
With no rhythm.
The world moves forward
Oblivious to the fissures
Ignoring the music
That has lost its tune.
Lurching ahead
Trying to keep up
Keep tabs
Keep going;
It's no use
The world moves on.
Lost on unstable ground
The gaps widen
And the sound beats still
With no point
No pleasure
Demanding to be heard
Above the hissing steam
Between the fractures
Filling the space.
Stinging fog irritates
Leaves etches on the cheeks
Tracks of failure streaming down
Hiding the holes
Blinding the heart.
The fog swirls and ebbs
In time with the deadening sound
But the world is gone
Long past this point.
Remaining here
As the earth opens up
For no other reason
But love.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Review - Soul of the Universe

Soul of the Universe
Edited by Michael Wombat
Publisher: The Anthology Club
Copyright: 2014
Format: eBook

It's been a while since I've posted a proper book review on my site so I am excited that the post is for The Anthology Club and its first release - Soul of the Universe.  I received an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) and a sneak peek of the cover and let me just say, it's been hard keeping my big mouth shut about this project.

Soul of the Universe is a group of stories based on songs.  Each author stated which song prompt they used and why it inspired him/her.  The stories and songs were as diverse as the authors themselves and ran the gambit from science fiction to realistic fiction.  There was even a Western piece with a touch of fantasy and a steampunk piece.

I enjoyed all of the stories but I loved the Sci-Fi piece by Michael S. Manz titled To Ride the Wind Dancing.  The writing in this piece flowed, taking the reader for a real ride.  The action didn't immediately kick in but the story still moved quickly.  And once the action did start, I found myself flipping pages as fast as my eyes could take in the words.  I truly hope to see more from this world.

Marissa Ames created a wonderfully detailed world in Darrion.  This was my first time to read works by Michael A. Walker and his realism was outstanding.  And of course, Michael Wombat had great tales with imaginative characters.

Soul of the Universe was a good read and each story had something different to offer.  I would recommend picking up this title for a fun escape that comes in small doses. 


I look forward to more works from The Anthology Club.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

#MWBB - Guarded

Last week over on MWBB was lusty.  And sexy.  And in one instance, disturbing.  Of course, the song called for it.  The The - Dogs of Lust

Yeah.  That.

I went for a head nod to older horror comics from the 80s, because I'm cool like that.  Oh, and not super lusty with my words.  And a bit dorky.  And kinda awkward.  In my mind I was thinking "Hell hounds, those will work".  What I ended up with was a flat piece about an actual dog.  Hey - it worked with the song.

I didn't win (because, hell hound) but I did place 3rd.  Make sure you check out Lizzie and Miranda's piece (winner and 2nd) plus all the great writing of lust and love.

She padded across the room, her claws clicking on the teak-wood floor; click-clack, click-clack as she paced around the bedroom.  He should be home by now.  Her keen ears perked at the sound of a car starting down the drive.  The familiar purr of his engine set her mind at ease.  He was late but at least he was back before dawn.  A door slammed, and then another.  He wasn't alone.  Female laughter trickled in on the warm summer breeze as he opened the front door.  His scent drifted along the humid air, mingling with the smell of sweat and desire.  She bristled and her senses heightened; he'd brought home a companion.

She moved into a dark corner of the bedroom, her yellow eyes watching each move as the couple entered.  Clothes were abandoned to the floor. Hands caressed smooth skin.  Bodies blended.  She stayed hidden in the corner, waiting.  Finally, she heard a muffled groan followed by an enticing rip of skin.  The aroma hit, a sweet metallic tang filled with iron, salt, and water; her stomach growled involuntarily.  She eased out of the darkness and moved silently to the end of the bed.

"Hello, Jasmine." Acknowledgment was all she needed.  She jumped nimbly onto the bed and stepped over the limp body cooling next to her master.  She nuzzled his arm, hoping for additional attention.

"Watchful as ever, I see."  He rubbed her ears lovingly.  She licked the blood from his chin.

"Is it almost dawn already?" he asked.  Jasmine whimpered.

"You shouldn't worry so," he chuckled.  "Vampires can feel the sun in their bones just as easily as their hell hounds do."  She licked his chin again then circled three times before laying next to him.

"I suppose we will clean up this evening," he said as he gave her one last scratch.  She blew air out her muzzle in agreement. 

Her eyes focused on the bedroom door and she settled in to guard her love while humans roamed in the sunshine outside.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Bloody Heart, Clean Words

I've been thinking about this post for several days.  Whether to put it up or not; if it will even be read; if it's too personal to put on the world wide web.  I have decided my large Russian readership is almost certainly spambots though, so a personal post might go unnoticed.  (Which is good; gets it out without having it seen sorta thing.)  So here goes.  It is writing related - promise.

I have been in an extremely dark place for a while now.  And not just down because of the weather sort of dark.  More like, a hard time breathing much less eating or sleeping sort of dark.  I'm fairly good at hiding it - a well placed laugh here, an appropriate comment there - but it is starting to soak into my writing where it is barely even veiled.

And I can't seem to stop it.  Words are almost oozing from my pores, pushing out as my emotions break down.  I know this is supposed to be therapeutic, all the Goggle sites say so.  But what scares me is that this exodus of words is, dare I say it, quasi good.  The ideas are crisp, the sentences concise and clean, the emotions 'jump from the page'; all things a writer strives to achieve.  And I'm not even doing much editing but I am getting more feedback and positive responses to my pieces.


Does this mean I am only a good writer if I'm broken?  Because that is a rabbit hole I've already fallen down and truly don't enjoy.  (Too many spiders and teacakes)  But seriously, what does this mean to me as a writer?  How do I hold onto this creative pulse if my heart isn't spewing blood?  I truly don't want to stay here in this horrible place, but I also don't want to lose this edge.

I want clean words.  But I guess the real question is, how did they get so clean in the first damn place?

Right, so there it is.  The spambots should have a field day with this post.  Maybe they will come down into the rabbit hole and eat all these spiders.  The teacakes are mine.

Monday, February 24, 2014

#ConDFW 2014

Great panels, excellent friends, and new author-stalkers - that sums up ConDFW for me this year.

ConDFW is a local writing convention I discovered a few years ago.  Each year seems to top the previous one for me.  2014 was no exception.

I was lucky enough to tag along with Larry Atchley, Jr. again.  His panels and readings were amazing, his mustache was epic, and the dinner conversation...let's just say I will never view risotto balls in the same way again.  Thanks, Larry, for another great Con experience!
New Author-Stalkers:
I like to follow, read, and promote writers, editors, and small publishing houses in a slightly obsessive manner.  If you make my author-stalker list, I will follow you on social media, faithfully read your blog, buy your books, and tell others how great your work is.  But don't worry, I won't actually stalk you.  Unless you are as awesome as Larry, in which case I might follow you around a Con. >.<

Bev Hale & Larry Atchley, Jr. cemented their place on my list. Love, love, LOVE their work!

Michelle Muenzler aka 'Cookie' Michelle - She was in Larry & Bev's reading panel and her story was amazing.  So good that I bought an anthology with her story, then hauled other people over to her so they could buy the anthology.  Her bucket-o-cookies had folks flocking as well. ^.^

Rachael Acks - She was awesomely fun and knew her shit when it came to writing steampunk.  I've already stalked her blog and can't wait for her Pompeii movie review to come out.

My biggest swag by far was all the signatures I acquired.  The authors were great about showing me inky love this year!  Of course, I also bought books and a fairy. ^.^
And finally...

The Panels:
I can't say enough about the panels this year.  I have pages and pages of notes on everything from how to negotiate a contract to writing a good villain.  I was so busy jotting notes, I don't have many pics, but here are a few.

How to Use your Villain
Monsters in Fiction

The Science of the Contract
Horror 101: Exploring Subgenres
Young Adult vs New Adult
Writing for Unorthodox Media
Escape from the Slush Pile
Upwardly Mobile: Writing Dirigibles and Other Flights of Fancy

Another great year for another great con.  Now for some sleep and then on to All-Con!!

#MWBB - Tears in a Jar

I think I might need to put one of those "Adult Content" label thingys on this blog at some point...

In the meantime, here is your warning for the following piece of flash.  It contains drug use, albeit not normal drugs.  If that is a trigger or is something you are not interested in, please skip this piece.  It also has a mild sexual reference. Oh, and swearing.

The song prompt was a nice throw back - Images of Heaven.  There were several great entries so make sure to check them all out.

Tears in a Jar

Theo closed his eyes.  Blue lace on white skin; his lips grazing the soft flesh just inside her thigh; her smile erupting into ecstasy. Salty; sweet; heady.  Images flickered through his mind like a silent porno - everything he needed playing out with the only girl he'd ever loved.  The door to his apartment slammed open, disrupting his train of thought and his left hand. He adjusted himself before the lights flipped on, just barely getting his pants zipped in time.

"Knock much?" Theo glared at the young boy in his living room.

"You said to hurry, so I hurried." The boy shrugged and flopped on the couch next to Theo.

"Did you get it," Theo asked?

"Yeah, but I doubt this shit will get you high.  I've never heard of shooting holy water, man."  The boy pulled a clear jar full of liquid from his jacket pocket and passed it to Theo.

"It's not holy water, dumb ass.  That's why I said Saint Catherine's on Vine Street.  That is where you went, right?"

"Yeah, man.  That's where I went.  Can I watch?"

"Sure."  Theo held the jar up to the bare yellow bulb illuminating the room.

"What the hell is that?"  Theo's eyes shifted from the jar to the kid from down the hall.  The boy was leaning over, examining the contents.  Should Theo tell him?  It wasn't like they were friends.  Theo just let the kid crash on the couch when things got too crazy in his own apartment.  He'd offered twenty bucks if the boy would run down to Saint Catherine's and fill the jar.  He probably wouldn't believe Theo anyway.

"Angel tears."  Theo put the jar on the coffee table and picked up the black travel bag sitting next to the ash tray.

"What the fuck?" The boy laughed nervously as he looked from the jar, to Theo and back again.

"You heard me," Theo said.  He didn't look up as he opened the bag and pulled out a syringe.  He skipped the cotton balls and empty tea light tin; no need to clean and filter this shit.  He pulled off his belt and slid it around his arm like a thousand times before.

"Don't you need to like, heat it or something?" the boy asked.  His eyes bulged as he watched Theo prep.

"No, this goes straight in.  You ever seen someone shoot up before?"  Theo put the needle into the jar and pulled up the stopper.

"Naw, man."  The kids eyes followed Theo's every move.  "Hey, what will shooting angel tears do, anyway?" he asked.

"Make her love me again," Theo replied. 

He pulled the belt tight and clamped it in his teeth.  He closed his eyes and inhaled through his nose.  Velvet skin flashed in his mind and he felt his jeans tighten along the crotch.  He exhaled, opened his eyes, and slapped at the veins in his lower arm.  He pierced his skin and pulled back the plunger, watching the blood swirl into the barrel before slamming the full hit.  He released the belt and pulled out the needle.

Theo waited.  He'd done this once before; he knew what was coming.  But it still hit him like a shockwave.  His back arched and his eyes rolled as hellfire shot through his veins.  He heard the boy whimpering next to him on the couch.  The burning pain sped through his body.  He doubled over, slipping to the floor.  The boy was screaming now.  But he had to purge his system, cleanse his soul.  She would love him again if he was clean. 

His body shook as his stomach released its contents, bile spilling under the couch.  His breathing slowed as the burning subsided.  The worst was almost over.  Theo knew he was too tainted this time; he'd need at least one more hit.  He slowly sat up and pulled out another syringe.  The boy was crying.  Good.  Maybe this would keep him clean; keep him away from any drug, especially love.

Theo's fingers shook as he pulled another hit.  He would have to walk through hell again if he had any hopes of touching that alabaster skin one more time.