Monthly Archives: October 2012

Poem: Rapunzel

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RAPUNZEL

By Judy Goodwin

My hair is flowing long;

Too long to cut, too long

To see through

Into a world choked with dust

And a shaggy dog

Licking the feet of its master

On a faded leather couch.

My husband stole my scissors;

He said I might cut myself.

My hair is dragging me down;

It snags on furniture,

Pulling sharp at my scalp,

And drags along the floor . . .

Whorls of dust cling to the curls.

I writhe, twisting to touch

The doorknob and

Fly free into the night, but

Hair wraps around my legs.

I am caught in my own web.

High in a tower, gazing down

On tiny ants snarled in endless traffic—

Such smooth walls, so shiny

For a lover to climb to my side.

I scream for help from the

Window washer, but he turns;

I am invisible.

Perhaps one day

My hair will grown long enough,

Twisting, snarling down floor after floor

Capturing pigeons, wrapping around

Light posts, until either

It pulls me

Soaring to my death

Or chokes the world

Entrapping me.

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Aside

Title:  His Majesty’s Dragon Author:  Naomi Novak Published: 2006, by Del Rey Genre:  Fantasy I love dragons, but I can think of quite a few books where dragons either aren’t terribly interesting, or they’re just plain terrible. I have to … Continue reading

Review: Fear of Falling by Susan Kiernan-Lewis

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Author:  Susan Kiernan-Lewis

Genre:  Dystopian Action/Adventure

Published by: San Marco Press

Those who read my blog know that I love disaster movies and apocalyptic scenarios. So the premise of this book, which begins with an EMP attack on London that knocks out all electronics in the British Isles, is right up my alley. What makes this book different from some of the other EMP scenarios, however, are the characters and their circumstances. Matt and Sarah are staying at a cabin in Ireland for vacation when the disaster happens and must deal not only with the scenario of being without power, but also with the fact that they are Americans and strangers to the local community. Ms. Kiernan-Lewis plays well with this tension and the cultural differences that exist between people who have been living close to the land for centuries with those who are used to a more urban environment.

One last thing I really liked about the story was the main character’s personal journey to combat her almost neurotic fears of things,from horseback riding to just letting her child grow up. I liked her inner journey even more than the physical challenges presented in the book.

My only criticism was the timeline for when Matt is imprisoned and the abuse that he survives. It seemed a bit excessive and almost cartoonish, after the stark reality of the rest of the book (typical bad guy notwithstanding).  A part of my suspended disbelief was stretched too far to accept that with no antibiotics and no medical care in general a man could survive breaking his leg and being chained to a bed for over a month with as few complications as Matt endures. Also, I have a hard time believing that the society left behind in the U.S. would do as well in such a crisis as the book describes, but that’s only a minor nit as it was only in the epilogue.

Overall, I really enjoyed the tale, and would recommend this book both to those who love dystopian fiction as well as those who love the Irish.  And horses.

Snippet of Short Story: Noon

My focus lately has been on final edits, formatting, and the cover for my upcoming novel. Because of that, I’ve been neglecting to promote the short stories I currently have out. So for today, here is a chunk of my latest short story, “Noon”, a tale about a man who has lost his shadow. And no, he’s definitely not Peter Pan.

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At noon Edward lost his shadow.

No pain accompanied the parting, but he felt something peculiar, a draining of energy, a slight dizziness. The sun beat down at him with a typical Miami fury, making the hairs on the back of his neck damp against his pressed white shirt. Around him, lunch goers marched on, oblivious to the change in him, dashing to cross the busy intersection. Clouds were already starting to gather overhead, a prelude to the monsoon that would drench the streets in the late afternoon.

The morning had been a disaster. A fight with his wife this morning—-well it had almost been a fight, except it seemed all she had done was complained, and all he’d done was try to get ready for work. Then later, a guy with a strange accent had called to complain about his cellular service and yelled at him for over an hour. He’d sounded familiar. Possibly the tenant upstairs who always played loud music at 1:00am. Edward had escaped for lunch down to his usual spot at Moe’s Deli, then he’d found a hole in his pocket had eaten all his change.

As he stood on the corner, taking a draw from a cigarette, Edward felt something sinking through him, like a bad burger, only worse–a leaden weight of his spirit, draining right down to the hot pavement and merging with his tiny shadow hugging close to his cracked leather shoes. He blinked and watched as the shadow detached itself and just walked away, a spot of darkness dodging between pedestrians, all foreshortened and compact. It dodged around a street performer playing steel drums and crossed the street, heedless of traffic, heading towards the projects.

Edward lifted each foot, searching for a remainder of shadow beneath him, but there was nothing; just pavement, sunlit as if he wasn’t there. He glanced in the window of the deli and swallowed a hard ball of fear. His reflection was gone too; he could see the parked car behind him clear as day, but not himself. He felt kind of hollow, empty. He kicked a rock into the gutter, yelping as an old man shoved past him to cross the street.

Great. Just great.

A glance at his watch warned him that lunch break was nearly over, and he debated whether or not to return to his office–could one claim a missing shadow as a disability? This could be real bad. What would being shadow-less do to him?

Edward hurried to cross the street as the signal changed, sweating with the heat of the day and the anxiety rising in his gut. What would his wife say? Things were rocky enough with her. He passed a doorway to an apartment building where several young men and women were listening to hip hop. As he approached, a pretty girl with long braided hair and even longer brown legs crossed in front of him and put her hand to his chest.

Only five minutes before he was due back at his desk, Edward calculated. He tried to brush past the young lady, but she grabbed his collar. “I saw it, your soul. It a-running back to the one who stole it. Somebody put the voodoo onto you.” Her voice was low and grave, the black pits of her eyes drawing him in. The world dimmed around him. He staggered.

“It was my shadow, not my soul, and I don’t believe in voodoo. Let me go,” he said, trying to pull free. The woman smelled of chocolate and coconut, an intoxicating combination.

“Don’t matter what you believe. Somebody wants you dead. You go a whole day no soul, you will be. I’d be a looking for my enemies, I was you.” She let go of his shirt and smiled, chuckling, then turned away from him and settled back on the top step, crossing her legs in a demure way that only made them more alluring.

Edward could barely make out her next words, muffled as she took a draw of whatever her friends were smoking, “You decide you need some help, you come back here and maybe I help you. For a price.” With a wink, she turned to her companion, a young man with a haircut like Spike Jones and a matching attitude. They began kissing.

Edward frowned and inched away. The others ignored him. A bell on top the tower of Gesú Cathedral began to ring, signalling that lunch hour was over, and he was late.

Well, he was sick, dying maybe, so there was no point in returning to work. Dead by tomorrow, from lack of a shadow? It must be a joke they were playing on him, that was all. He desperately wanted to believe that, but his racing heart refuted it. What if it was real? He’d seen his shadow walking away. Perhaps he was just hallucinating. What he needed was advice. His wife, while not the loving, sensitive woman she’d been when he’d first married her, was at least a sensible woman. He’d ask her.

A short bus trip later, Edward stood outside his apartment complex and punched in his security code to the access gate. It was quiet–just the sound of a mother and her toddler up in one apartment, and some reggae playing somewhere higher up in another room. If Caroline wasn’t home, he could at least grab himself a nap. Maybe he’d wake up and find the whole thing had never occurred.

He’d first been attracted to Caroline because of her beauty—that and her extremely efficient business sense. Christ, but the woman knew how to squeeze the most out of a paycheck. She wasn’t the greatest cook, which was okay, because the sex had been great. Of course, that had been the first thing to go. He’d tried fixing things, offering her gifts he couldn’t really afford, but lately it had been nothing but complaining. He worked too much, she said. But he also didn’t make enough.

They’d started drifting apart.

The apartment was empty. As he entered the breakfast niche, Edward’s nose twitched at the smell of stale coffee. Caroline’s purse was on the counter and her cup was still on the breakfast table, half-empty. Caroline abhorred dirty dishes; she’d never leave one out. Edward called out for her down the hallway, in case she was at Marge’s, their eighty-two-year-old neighbor. No answer.

Instead, the music from upstairs grew louder, until Bob Marley was practically shouting down the pink stucco walls. Edward took a broom from behind the fridge and thumped it against the ceiling.

“Can’t you leave us in peace once in a while?” He shouted over the music, then jammed the broom back against the fridge in disgust. He thought he could hear laughter . . . a man and a woman.

This was simply too much. First the awful call this morning, then his shadow, now his wife mysteriously was out–he was going to go up and warn that fellow that if he didn’t turn down the volume, he’d call the police and have him arrested. He’d seen the guy–dark, handsome, young, with a coterie of young admirers. Edward didn’t think he even had a job, though he seemed fairly well off, at least by his fancy clothes. A slacker, living off rich parents. He was going to teach the young man a lesson.

Taking the broom, Edward marched up the stairs in the courtyard, trying to ignore the dazzling pattern of light and shadow made by the palm trees. Still no sign of his shadow. He had to stop twice to catch his breath, and the sunlight seemed to almost burn. As soon as that music was turned off, he was taking a nice, long nap. He rapped on the door, trying to maintain his anger. His limbs were leaden.

Several minutes passed; he knocked again, then after what seemed a calculated delay, the door slowly opened.

Edward gaped.

Caroline, wearing only her white lace bra and panties, her brown skin slightly damp with sweat, answered the door. She gazed not at his face, but at his feet where the afternoon sun shone brilliantly against the pink stucco of the building, highlighting his absence of shadow. She smirked and raised her head to look into his eyes with a detachment that made Edward go cold.

Read the rest on Amazon!

The Next Big Thing: Blog Hop

Okay, I was invited to this by Jeanne M. Bannon; as a way for writers to talk about their works in progress or things that are coming out shortly.  Who knows, one of us may be the next J.K. Rowling or Stephen King? I’m still looking for a few more authors to join this hop so if you’re interested, leave me a comment and I’ll be happy to include a link to your blog below where you can answer the same questions.

We are blog hopping our way through some new reads.  For those who aren’t familiar with a blog hop . . .  it’s kind of like a treasure hunt – once you find something on one blog you hop on over to the next blog link for more treasure.  In this case, the treasure is a wealth of new and exciting books.  Some are still being written, some are just being released.

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What is the working title of your book?    Heart of the Witch.  This book will be coming out in ebook form soon, like December 1st, 2012. I plan to have the print version available in January.

Where did the idea come from for the book? 

The idea for this book came several years ago, based on books I was reading at the time and my own interest in history and other cultures. I wanted a fantasy that was different that the typical medieval knights and dragons kind of thing. I realized that in American history there was a perfect scenario—the Salem Witch Trials, when everyone believed in witches but it wasn’t real. What if there was a colony in a similar time period but in a world where magic really was real? That was the basis of my story.

What genre does your book fall under?  

Solidly under Fantasy.  There is romance in the book as well, but that’s a subplot.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?  

Wow, there’s a good question. Zerrick Dhur, the main character, is too pretty for his own good but actually hates that, with his black hair and pale blue eyes. Ben Barnes would be a possibility, except he has the wrong color eyes. Zac Efron actually had a close coloration too, but I’m not sure he has the acting talent.  For Mira, I could see someone like Emma Watson or Carey Mulligan—petite, not classically beautiful, but with that inner fire.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

In a world where magic is real and witches are burned at the stake, Zerrick must decide whether the heart of magic will lead him to good, or to evil.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?  No.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?  Yikes, this is an embarrassing question, because I actually started the book in college and then had a family and all kinds of things before I actually came to the decision to publish it myself. Ahem . . . about five years for the initial draft.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I see some similarities with Katherine Kurtz due to her historical details in her books, including “Deryni Rising.”  I see a little of Mercedes Lackey in there as well, with the angsty main character, such as in her Valdemar series. The main character is a young adult–twenty-one, so I see this as appealing to both adults and young adults, but the style is very detailed, more like “Lord of the Rings” than “Hunger Games”.

Who or What inspired you to write this book? 

I’ve been writing books since I was nine years old, and reading them as well.  I read “The Hobbit” at age ten, “Lord of the Rings” at age eleven, and then took off from there. I actually wrote my first book in high school, a trilogy, but realized it wasn’t publishable when I entered college to earn my Bachelor degree in Creative Writing.  It has been a life long dream for me to be a writer.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

The land of Argessa where the story takes place is based on the continent of Australia, and the natives are based on Aborigines. I actually crafted a language for them that is also loosely based on Aborigine. You won’t find any sex in this story but there is plenty of swash-buckling against creatures in the jungle, daring Star-Wars-like rescues, and an Obi-Wan-like figure. I had a lot of fun inserting a little humor into the relationship between Zerrick and Mira. Zerrick, as the son of the town pastor, tends to fret a bit and worry about his actions but Mira is headstrong and fiery. They make a great pair.

List of my tagged blog hop buds for next week.  Check out their blogs next Wednesday to read about their WIPs and New Releases:
<a href=http://bookofthedarned.wordpress.com/>L Kelly</a>

Paranormal short story

My next short story pack is now available on Amazon as part of their KDP Select program:

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Available here!
At noon, Edward loses his shadow. How did it happen? And what will happen to him now? Follow Edward as he struggles to break the curse that someone has placed on him. A jealous wife, a mysterious Haitian girl . . . Edward must hurry, or the curse will kill him, within twenty-four hours.

Bonus story included: “On Parole” about Randal Krevitz, past party guy and now hopeful dad-to-be, in a society where all are guilty until proven innocent and where the right to be a parent must be granted by the Parole Board.

I may offer this for a free promotion later this week–keep posted!