Well, I can say that I was anxious but excited to release “Forbidden“, as with any novel I publish. “Forbidden” is an allegory, it’s dark. Don’t expect to like the characters; don’t expect to even “get to know” the characters too well.
What I enjoyed most about writing this piece was the challenge of creating a story that a reader can take at face value or that he/she can choose to read into. “Forbidden” has the ability to be as dimensional as one might want to make it. Every word, every stylistic choice, even down to the back cover is a commentary.
With that said, I am excited to announce that I will be trying something new on my blog by releasing character interviews. I think this experiment will be entertaining and rewarding, overall positive.
Monday I will be publishing an interview by Reverend Elijah Colstock. So, feel free to drop questions for him in the comment section of this post. You can also leave a website or social media in the comment and I will link your name to it; that is optional, however.
Reverend Colstock will be selecting one person who asks a question to win a $5 Amazon E-gift card.
I hope everyone has as much fun reading the interview as Colstock will have answering the questions.
“The leaves are all brown.” And no, I didn’t go off the deep-end–I didn’t misquote The Mamas & The Papas lyrics– I’m not that kinda girl…don’t you all know that by now? SMDH.
“What are you doing, then?”
I’m quoting little Megan in Matthew Brockmeyer’s debut novel “Kind Nepenthe” that takes place in Humboldt County, California–more specifically, in the dead center of marijuana country…oh, now I have your attention. Great!
Throughout his work, Brockmeyer leaves no stone unturned–metaphorically, that is, and this begins with the title itself and its tragic-beautiful tie-in to the novel. Allow me to save you a bit o’ Googling. Nepenthe is a mythical drug believed to erase sorrow and suffering.
You’re welcome, by the way.
From the first page, I couldn’t help but feel an unsettling presence that seemed to float along with me through the piece–one of the many aspects that made putting “Kind Nepenthe” down, next to impossible–that’s right, not even a tub of gas station nachos was enough to lure me away from the deep-rooted–no pun intended–okay, bad joke– evil that was about to take place, and no amount of therapy sessions would’ve ever prepared me for the ending. How did it end? Here’s the obligatory “Buy” link.
We meet Rebecca–a dreadlock sporting, vegan hippie type who, tired of society, wishes to raise her daughter, Megan, in a quiet setting where they can live off the land. Speaking of land? Matthew Brockmeyer has an impressive knowledge of horticulture so I had to ask him if his repertoire came from research or experience.
“Well, my wife is an herbalist and I am a permaculture designer. We live on a small farm/homestead. So, most of this knowledge did come first hand. I love the use of nature in literature, both as world building and as metaphor. In particular, John Steinbeck and Cormac McCarthy both use it to great effect. You can convey so much with descriptions of the natural world, from majestic and awe inspiring beauty, to a forlorn sense of dread and creepiness.”
Squeaky grocery cart wheels aside–okay, only McCarthy fans will get it…hmm–the “Creep” factor is ever-present. There’s this whole Stephen King vibe in the ‘recovering’ addict, Diesel who is struggling to rekindle a relationship with his son DJ in anticipation of becoming a grandfather–all the feels, right? Maybe. If what you’re feeling is an eerie vigilance. So much so, that if Cormac McCarthy and Stephen King had a love child, it might be “Kind Nepenthe”, and Thomas Hardy just may have Saturday visitation.
Everybody is watching for something– Calendula, Rebecca’s ‘hippie’ boyfriend, is watching the grow room, Rebecca’s watching for Coyote, the owner of the land, to return and pay them, and Diesel is watching his son DJ follow in his footsteps of drug addiction and domestic violence.
All the while… who is watching Megan?
Yikes… and double-yikes, because I’m saying…it’s the same land where Spider, the ghostly solitaire-playing creeper, buried dead bodies.
Back to the solitaire…I put the question to Brockmeyer–Would he play solitaire with a ghost? He wittingly points out the flaw in my question–smartass…yeesh.
Even so, here’s what he had to say:
“Well, it’s a one-person game, hence the name. That’s the thing about ghosts, their utter aloneness, separate from everything yet stuck there just the same. Would I play cards with a ghost? Sure. I’ll play cards with anyone or anything, I suppose. As long as they’re buying the drinks.”
Despite the sarcasm of the above answer, I still enjoyed “Kind Nepenthe”–for anyone who hasn’t already drawn that conclusion. What made the book real to me was the characters: the dichotomy of hippie culture meets that of gun-toting-good-‘ol-boy, makes for the perfect storm once the two enemies meet–literally a storm.
Who doesn’t know the lady who lives in a trailer, watches home shopping channels, and buys trinkets such as Christmas ornaments? The absent father struggling to clean up and reconnect with his son? The mother who wants to make a better life for her child?
When we sew evil into physical nature, we can’t help but reap that same darkness, and this is the perfect juxtaposition to the human element–when we’re ensnared by our own dreams, when they turn dark, and hold us captive, do we reap a bleak future?
Perhaps we do, and in that, we find that maybe it’s not the dead we should fear. Maybe we should be more afraid and aware of the rapid transition of our best intentions into malice and how that translates into our future.
Until next time, my friends. Thanks for reading, and if you’re still awake, feel free to leave comments.
NO! It’s author Linette Kasper’s debut YA fantasy novel “Daimon“! Linette may reside in Northern Virginia, but her I’m-gonna-love-you-forever-no-like-literally-forever-tale-of-romance-gone-dark type novel weaves its mysterious tale around the historic city of Richmond, Va.
Megan, our scrumptious and sometimes sarcastic, female protagonist is still coping with the loss of her mother when– in true Cinderella fashion– her dad decides it’s time to move on. That’s right– he’s ready to tie ye ‘ol knot again.
Moving on– it’s a good thing, right? “Onward and upward.” That’s what they say. Perhaps forward motion is optimal– well, that is if you’re not planning to marry a half-crazed psycho– Erin, remember to edit this and take that out– you can’t belittle the anti-social personality disorder community by comparing Megan’s stepmom to a psychopath.
When Megan’s crazy-bitch-ass stepmom, Vanessa decides to physically abuse her in public by slapping her at a bridal shop, Megan takes off. Who can blame the girl? And I’m not even going to start on the employee who kinda just watched and didn’t really do anything… you know… like telephone DSS. Did Kasper mean this as a sly critique of the social system in the United States? You be the judge… like maybe, literally… Megan’s dad, Jack, is a lawyer… Okay, not funny… moving on.
I don’t have the answer to that question, BUT I caught up with Linette and her crazy schedule to ask her, “If you put a dollar in a claw machine and it broke down, would say nothing or complain?”
Her answer? “Depends on if that means it’s broken or faulty. I may grumble to myself, but I’m not one to complain or make a scene, so I would chalk it up to not being meant to be and move on with my life. If the machine were broken, I would report it so it doesn’t happen to anyone else.”
So maybe the claw machine isn’t meant to be, but I know what is– “I know what is” can be read in one of those over-used-I’m-gonna-do-a-high-pitch-sing-song-voice type deals. When Megan takes off, she drives to the cemetery where her mom is buried, and it is there that she meets a dark figure in the night.
Who could it be? Does she live? Does she die? Did Vanessa follow her? Who is the mystery stranger?
“He was stunning, like an otherworldly being, with beguiling eyes that took me in as I was taking him in and bow lips that naturally turned at the corners into a slight smile. Tall and lean, he was dressed in khaki pants and a pinstripe shirt that opened to a fitted black t-shirt” (Daimon).
He had me at khaki pants– swoon. There’s just something about an ironed inseam that gets me every time kinda like the hot fudge melting the ice cream on my sundae…
Oh, book review– forgot. So, we know our mystery guest is a “he“, but who exactly is that?
Cue 1970’s jazzed out theme show song, lower psychedelic backdrop: “Meet David, he’s a mysterious hot n’ sexy dream boat whose hobbies include, lurking through cemeteries, cryptic dialogue that deflects any questions about himself, and being cryptic in general.”
That wasn’t a quote from the book, by the way.
So, who is David, really? Megan wants to know, I want to know, you are sitting on the edge of your seat right now– leaning in– because you want to know…
But, like any good novelist, Kasper doesn’t tell us right away, however I managed to garner a few answers out of her about what she’d do in a cemetery if she came upon a smokin’ hot stranger.
“I’d definitely be leery of him, keeping my distance until a I felt a little more comfortable. I’m not a social person and people are not apt to approach me, so I’d wonder if there’s an ulterior motive.” — Linette Kasper.
Ulterior motive would be the perfect time for me to introduce Brian, David’s scrumptious, frightening nugget of a roommate, along with Odette, Madeline, and the shy, quiet Cary.
I hesitate to spoil much about Brian, other than to say he’s got all the girls swooning– including Vanessa. The only one who’s uncomfortable seems to be Megan, but why? Could there be more to find out about Brian?
Yes, why yes there is… want to know what he’s up to?
Whatchya scared of? I don’t bite…
Now lean in!
If you want to know, read the book!
Got you, right? No?
Next, I bet you expect me to tell you that Megan is the melodramatic-loner type that lurks the high school and narrates her lack of friends–
but I’m not! Wow, you’re thinking… maybe this is exactly what “Twilight” should’ve been– no, not linking “Twilight”. I’m lazy and you can Google it.
Megan has friends– even if they fail to question her hanging out with strangers in cemeteries late at night. David’s hot, right? He can’t possibly he dangerous– the ever so bubbly Claire, sporty no-nonsense Erin, and the-boy-next-door-who-Megan-should’ve-ended-up-with-instead-of-some-spooky-cemetary-stranger-but-didn’t-and-now-the-reader-will-feel-sorry-for-him-through-the-whole-novel… oh, I was talking about Ben.
Ben? A love triangle, you say? Oh, the plot grows jucier and jucier and we haven’t even gotten through the first couple hundred pages.
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Where the hell is my coffee !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Immaculately edited and polished, “Daimon” is a five-hundred-ninety-four-page, action-packed, supernatural, thriller, mixed with a touch of chic-lit and sentimentality ATOMIC-BOMB and Kasper paints a superb photo.
“Daimon” is a must read for young adults and adults alike.
Until next time, folks! Thanks for reading my review and WRITE ON!
I’m back to the blog once more. Guess what that means…
I have gas station nachos?
More episodes of the Chronicles of Ashzaria?
You published your second full-length novel?
YES!… well, tomorrow. That’s right, August 22nd, I’ll be releasing the second installment of the ‘Sync’ Series, “Menoetius”. Finally!
I won’t lie– I’ve worked hard on the proofreading and editing phases to bring a smoother, better narrative into this action-packed series and I feel amazing about it.
What else have you done, Erin?
Well, I’m glad you asked…
Today I started a YouTube Writing Workshop that I intend to upload videos to on a weekly basis. I’m excited for this project because I get asked a lot of questions about my writing process, and I cannot wait to try to answer them.
You can find the video on my YouTube channel, but just in case, I’ll enter the link on this post, too.
Hmm… are the thumbnails the worst expressions? Who sits in the cubicle at YouTube Inc. and monitors these things?
Well, my next video will be in landscape mode… I’m a newbie, so give me a break.
For now, I’m out. Sorry for the short post. I will be writing more over the upcoming weeks/months. Yayyy….
In the mean time, check out my online shop for all the “Synchronicity” Fandom…
While not much is written about Menoetius, or Menoitios, or at least much that I’ve came across, he is thought to be the god of rage and anger who fought against the Olympian gods and was struck down by Zeus.
The literal translation of Menoetius is “to defy fate” or “ruined strength”. But, is there strength in the defiance of fate? Or, if fate has a certain design, would fighting against it only be doing yourself a disservice?
One of the questions I get asked a lot has to do with how I chose to title the books in the ‘Sync’ series. Most understand the idea behind ‘Synchronicity’. If you don’t, Google Carl Jung– mostly because I’m lazy and I refuse to add the link right now. I’ll wait. I won’t wait long, but I’ll be here… for a little bit….
I was almost finished with ‘Synchronicity’ and still didn’t have a title. I’ve mentioned in precious posts how the working title was ‘Medium’, but as I wrote, I realized the telepathic abilities of my characters didn’t need to involve contacting the dead. Rather, I took a different approach.
The word ‘Synchronicity’ never would’ve came to mind if I’d sat and racked my brain, but while researching telekinesis and telepathy, I was fascinated by the many subcategories. So, like many writers, I dug deeper… about a hundred open tabs into the subject, I ran into ‘Synchronicity’ and Carl Jung. Eager to justify procrastination, I refreshed my memory on Jung’s theory.
I connected with the idea that occurrences aren’t a matter of coincidence. That everything happening around us, good or bad, has a purpose; there’s a much bigger picture. I slammed the top of my laptop down and exclaimed, “That’s it! I have it! The title has to be Synchronicity!”
I was bubbling with excitement, so I told a close circle of friends with eagerness. My replies were, “Cool, explain it.” Fair enough. Right?
Without going into details, my life hasn’t always been stable, and by no means has it been ‘normal’. Humor became a defense mechanism. But, more important than searching for the comedic lining in things, I had to believe everything had a reason. No matter who did what, or when. There had to be a reason because without one, I doubt I would’ve held it together, much less survived.
If book one in the series speaks to the idea of events working together and connecting for a greater purpose, I thought it only logical that book two speak to the entity who designs and directs the objective.
‘Menoetius’ begs the question of fate. Is it fate’s doing? And if so, do our choices ultimately construct our fate? Or, is everyone’s end game already set?
Woah, that’s a lot, right there!
‘Menoetius’ explores the old argument of, ‘You gotta help fate out a bit. You’re not going to meet the love of your life sitting at home on the couch, or you won’t start that career if you never apply for jobs.’
But, can events happening outside our own lives affect our choices?
To clarify, let’s take the person in the above scenario and call him Fred. Fred’s sitting on his couch… for those who require more imagery, let’s imagine Fred’s couch is burgundy because it sits well with his white carpet. White because, let’s face it… Fred doesn’t worry about stains because HE DOESN’T DO ANYTHING… ever…
Okay, continuing… SO… Fred lives on his couch and watches infomercials and Court TV. Even though Fred is stagnant, events around him continue.
Here, we can speculate.
What if Fred’s sister passes away? Or, what if she’s terminally ill? Perhaps, there’s a fire at the neighbor’s house that might spread to his. Or, his television is on the fritz and he telephone’s a repair service.
Any of these events set into motion could trigger a series of occurrences that result in Fred leaving his couch and venturing into the jungle of suburbia. What happens from there?
At least one, if not more times in ‘Synchronicity’, Lila asks herself if her parents hadn’t been killed prompting her to go on the run with Wesley, would they share an attraction? Was all of it, including the tragedy, a push for them to connect?
I felt that if book one asks those questions, naturally the follow-up would concern fate.
The last thing I want is for the series to provide answers. Rather, I hope the books serve as a vehicle to dialogue about possibilities. This is the joy of writing in first person. I have a means to explore a variety thoughts on the matters.
For example, (The following Might Will contain spoilers for book 2)
If fate is working to bring Lila and Wesley together, Why? And how do they feel about it?
It’s safe to say by book two, Lila’s been through the wringer. She’s lost her entire life and the two most important people in it. She’s learned she’s been living a lie. She’s capture by Sullivan and dehumanized and stereotyped.
Forgive her if she seems a wee bit disconnected and jaded by the time you roll around to “Menoetius”. Coming out of the trauma and struggling to redefine herself, the last thing she wants is to build a new relationship. I don’t think she’s ready to trust that it won’t fall apart. She’s not prepared to give answers when Wesley asks for them.
She scrutinizes the idea of fate, wondering if its a ‘cheat’ for her and Wes. She asks, ‘If fate is working so hard to bring us together, is the connection we feel, our elation, and our need for one another simply an illusion? Would we feel the same if fate wasn’t fighting for us? If fate hadn’t tried so hard for so long and we were just two people in the world, would we be able to pass by one another and not give it a second thought? And if so… is this genuine love and ecstasy?’
Then, there’s Wes, the borderline narcissistic lady’s man. You’d think he’d be the one angered at the idea of being with one person. In book one, he makes it clear he never wanted a relationship.
You got that, right?
In case you didn’t, or you missed it in the book, I’ll write it once more: Wesley doesn’t want a relationship; in fact, he never has. He’s perfectly content with a conveyor belt of women.
SKIP THE REST IF YOU DON’T WANT SPOILERS.
Okay, that was your warning…
When you dig through the surface, it’s because of the secrets he’s had to keep. His telepathy, for example. He’s lived nineteen-and-a-half years carrying the burden of this veiled world and all the implications that follow.
He feels like he can never truly get close to someone because they’ll never really understand him, but Lila does. When he’s with her, he doesn’t have to hide behind his arrogant mask (although, I find his arrogance human and endearing and it’ll be a quality that follows him through the series). He can allow himself to care about Lila so much because she’s essentially his equal. She a representation something he’s never had and I think that’s a large reason why when she snaps her fingers, he can’t help but come running.
His feelings about how fate is working is to the tune of ‘Why does it matter if we’re happy’.
I realize, for those who’ve read the first book, it’s hard to believe that a character like Wes would let the question go. I don’t think it’s a stretch. I feel like he’s questioned so much throughout his life that if being with Lila is good, he’s afraid that asking those questions could ruin it.
Again, I don’t want the series to carry the burden of answering why things work out the way they do, or why bad things happen and how fate works in that. I want them to create a conversation and explore the possibilities.
Unfortunately I can’t write out all my feelings on the topic right now, but free to leave your thoughts in the comments!
What do you get when you’re computer illiterate and you convert a file into a jpeg all by yourself? Hopefully, more applause than you can shake a stick at… Okay, it was funny in my mind. Maybe not as funny as my meagre attempts at book reviewing. You’d think I’d learn by now, sadly it’s not the case.
Today, I switch gears from horror anthologies to the British Victorian Period. See what I did there? I linked info; you’re welcome. I’ll wait right here while you polish up on history…
‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house was a slew of creepy-crawly horror stories guaranteed to scare you more than Aunt Gertrude’s pudding surprise (no offense to the reader who has an actual Aunt Gertrude who brings mystery desserts to family dinners).
Well, hello and welcome back for another good laugh at my feeble book reviewing attempt. Keep laughing, doesn’t bother me. When I review books, I indulge myself in gas station nachos– there’s a payoff after all.
Salem, Massachusetts-based press, FunDead Publications does it again! Headed up by Amber Newberry, Author of ‘Walls of Ash’, this small but growing press places a direct focus on publishing the macabre– which makes sense– they’re based in Salem… soooooooooooooooo, it’d be strange if they produced works about pink unicorns that fart sparkling wish fairies with purple glow-wands. At least, it’d throw me for a loop–
Following the success of their debut anthology ‘Shadows in Salem’, they set out to compile some of the best and upcoming voices in horror for a creepy seasonal selection guaranteed to make its reader think twice before dipping into that figgy pudding.
Boasting twenty unique short stories with compelling voices, ‘Oh Horrid Night’ is nothing short of disturbing. Without a doubt, it left me wanting more, or maybe a teddy-bear or night-lite or Shemar Moore…Just sayin’ . Not that I’d publicly admit to using a night-lite…
*Coughs* Moving on,
Load up on the bread and milk, kids because the icy journey begins with Corrine Clark’s ‘A Ghost Story’ where a stranded traveler shares a tragic story about a wife who goes in search of her husband and reaches a gruesome end, or is it the beginning of forever? Muwhahaha….
Who loves caroling? Meeeee. At least, I used to. Then, I read Kenneth Cole’s (No, I’m not talking about the shoe company) ‘Carolers’ and found I could no longer hold my sheet music still from shaking. Maybe it was the Felix the Cat clock that did me in right there.
One thing I have enjoyed throughout both books is the collection of voices and ‘Sol Invictus’ by Kevin Wetmore can be heard loud and clear. Not familiar with the subject, I did a bit of research. Here’s a link that’ll explain more about Sol Invictus. What do I love about the story? Uncle Mike’s retelling, duuuuuuuuuuuh. Or maybe the pipe-dream that the mystery stranger Uncle Mike encounters could look like Ian Somerhalder (??).
… And a holiday horror is not complete without Krampus. Now, I was hoping that in Brad Christy’s ‘ ‘Twas the Fifth of December’, Krampus might fool us all and be some good looking, yet shady character. No luck there and no luck for little Robby. The shocker to Christy’s tale was the ending; I caught up with Christy and asked him why he decided to trick me out with that. In his words, “I chose that particular ending because I wanted the reader to continuously question the reality of the situation. Is Krampus real, or just all in Robby’s imagination?…”
One of the most interesting questions to put to authors is, what inspired your story. Christy answers, “I’ve always been fascinated with the psychological aspects of horror. ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ for me, was greatest in the moments leading up to the killing, so I wanted to take a subject that screamed splatter punk and twist it into a psychological horror.”
“A Perilous Gift” by Amber Newberry illustrates a shining example of feminism in literature. What better way for a woman to maintain power over a man than by a symbol of objectification. You’ll follow after you read the story.
Another aspect I enjoyed throughout the collection is, simply put, nothing is sacred, not even the much sought after figgy pudding. Admittedly, I’ve never had figgy pudding.
*Gasp* I’ll wait while you shake your head in dismay and disgust.
Now? Yes, Erin, I’ve found coping mechanisms for my disappointment in you.
Great! Moving on…
If you’d like to mail me figgy pudding, please don’t. After reading “Figgy” by Wendy L. Schmidt and “The Sixpence in the Pudding” by Callum McSorley, I’ve concluded this pudding can giveth and taketh away…and I’m not talking about your waistline. I will not entertain receiving this in the mail, if you’d like, feel free to message a recipe to me– then I’ll know exactly what is in the mystical dessert.
While “Shadows in Salem” gave us voices from a gamut of time periods, “Oh Horrid Night” serves the reader with tales from an array of cultures. I particularly enjoyed ‘The Black Coach or the Visitation at Wakwak Creek’ by R.C. Mulhare & I.M. Mulhare. Hoof beats sound in the distance, but it sure isn’t Cinderella’s carriage. Perhaps, you guess, it’s family coming for the holidays… keep dreaming, this is a horror anthology, after all.
From the German celebration of Ogden to the Roman Saturnalia to the status quo’s commercialization, the history of the holiday season is undoubtedly deep-rooted in culture and tradition.
This being the case, what does the collective of voices tell the reader about this time of year? In a broader sense, the message is remembrance of the impoverished, of past transgressions, and lost loved ones.
Therein lies the juxtaposition between the warmth of friends and family depicted in traditional representations of the holidays and the reality of death, poverty, domestic violence, economic, cultural, and feminist struggles that continue despite society’s attempts to wrap them in pretty paper and garnish with glitter bows.
There’s something eerie behind the thousands of strands of twinkling lights garnishing the neighbor’s front porch (and it may not be limited to their electric bill…).
I would highly recommend the series of stories; I found them to be engaging, fast-paced, compelling, and meticulously edited. –‘Till Next Time–
I’ve never written a formal blog review of a novel *wipes sweat off forehead and grabs a tub of gas station nachos*. Soooo, thank you for sitting back, relaxing, and having a few laughs as I fumble my way through this article. *Clears throat*.
I’m always game for a collection; poetry, flash fiction, short stories, baseball cards, balls of yarn, wine, chocolate– especially the chocolate– you name it… I’m down. So it shouldn’t be shocking that when I first heard of Shadows in Salem, an anthology published in the fall 2016 by Salem, Massachusetts based independent press FunDead Publications, I was immediately fascinated. FunDead is run by Amber Newberry, author of Walls of Ash. (more…)
I’ll start off by drawing your attention to the new layout of my blog. I had no part in this, it is the creation of a wonderful and talented friend of mine, Amber Newberry. I linked her blog; check it out because she’s an amazing writer, human, and friend.
This is post is going to be chalked full of little known facts about “Synchronicity” for all three of you who’ve read it, want to read it, or have just ran out of shows to binge watch on Netflix and feel like this article might be an entertaining substitute… boy, are you going to be disappointed. I did want to add a warning: This piece might will contain spoilers. (more…)