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Shallow

We’re emotional creatures,

Living from moment to moment,

Making choices based on how we feel,

Putting ourselves first and justifying the means to that end.

Easier to agree to what we want than sacrifice for the sake of others.

*

And sometimes being the “good guy” puts us at a disadvantage.

Telling the truth hurts: either them, us or both.

Doing the right thing means we miss out or lose.

Being selfless leads to sacrificing when we don’t have to.

Taking the punches and not retaliating leaves us bruised and broken.

*

When our right comes before considering others,

Who then can we trust?

Who then can we rely on?


“In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you”

“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.”

~Matthew 7 – NASB

 

Joyland by Stephen King – Recommendation

College student Devin Jones took the summer job at Joyland hoping to forget the girl who broke his heart. But he wound up facing something far more terrible: the legacy of a vicious murder, the fate of a dying child, and dark truths about life—and what comes after—that would change his world forever.

A riveting story about love and loss, about growing up and growing old—and about those who don’t get to do either because death comes for them before their time—Joyland is Stephen King at the peak of his storytelling powers. With all of the emotional impact of King masterpieces such as The Green Mile and The Shawshank Redemption, Joyland is at once a mystery, a horror story, and a bittersweet coming-of-age novel, one that will leave even the most hard-boiled reader profoundly moved.


I think I’m going to go find this book today and read it for Wednesday Book Review. Sounds amazing!

 

 

The Warren by Brian Evenson – Review

Title: The Warren

Author: Brian Evenson

Genre: Science Fiction

Book procurement: Received a copy from Tor.com for Gamecca Magazine Vol 8 Issue 88.

Synopsis:

X doesn’t have a name. He thought he had one—or many—but that might be the result of the failing memories of the personalities imprinted within him. Or maybe he really is called X.

He’s also not as human as he believes himself to be.

But when he discovers the existence of another—above ground, outside the protection of the Warren—X must learn what it means to be human, or face the destruction of their two species.

Review:

First Thoughts

X, if that is his name, is a but a single person. Within him lies the imprinted personalities of others before him, salvaged minds seeking to keep knowledge within the last remaining human. However, X begins to question his humanity when he discovers another on the surface of what he calls, the Warren. Things begin to spin out of control as the two wrestle with an existential question: what makes one human.

I won’t say this was an easy read. Sometimes confusing. Sometimes annoying. Most importantly, it really did what it’s supposed to do: make us question the concept of what makes us human.

Writing

The Warren is a fascinating science fiction thriller, a dive into the mind of a man with multiple-personas within him. Only they aren’t just personas, bu the minds of people who came before X. Imprinting what remained of their minds into the remaining living being. The really creepy part was when X described the opening of eyes within his mind, as the individuals grew coherent of the fact that they too are fragmented minds living within another conscious mind. *shivers

Unable to comprehend the individuals within, X begins to seek out questions regarding his existence in the Warren. The personalities don’t share much and his only other source of knowledge is Monitor, a computer of some sort. It carries some of the information from before, but not enough to make a lot of sense to the questions that X asks. Questions that plague his existence. The most pertinent question, especially when X finds another human on the surface of the Warren, is: what makes someone human.

In light of this, you can imagine the conversations that occur. Also, the surface above the Warren is poisonous to all who stand in its air, and no one who has left has come back. Only there’s no way to know why it’s so bad, and why this person on the surface even exists. The only way to survive is to look for resources and continue your existence yet even resources have become scarce.

Not only that but imagine being the only living person with just a computer as your companion, trying to figure out who or what you are, and who the other person could possibly be. Would you risk the possibility of death to find out? Or continue in the routine of solitude and scouring where you can for resources.

Final Thoughts

Brian Evenson captures the isolation and alienation really well. One can almost imagine the paranoia and anxiety of solitude and confusion. Of having multiple minds just sitting in the darkness of your mind. More importantly, of trying to understand the world around you when there’s nothing to truly help. Except for the one thing you know you shouldn’t… exploring the surface.

Rating: A borderline 3 out of 5


What are you currently reading?

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Momentary

Suspended disbelief is only momentary.

The engulfing emotions so temporary.

We fill reality with useless garbage to feel,

Something other than what is real.

*

Pain is only momentary.

Yet the scars are etched into memory.

We may stop the bleeding,

But the memories are never receding.

*

Happiness is only momentary.

We clutch at it, fearing the scars we carry.

We may be elated for years , months and days,

While insecurities tell us it’s only a phase.

*

What then is not momentary?

Casting this poem as temporary.

If I knew I would share that truth.

For now I pretend to forget. To soothe.

*

It’s all just… momentary.


What helps you escape the difficulties of life? What emotions do you find overwhelming you?

NPCs by Drew Hayes – Recommendation

What happens when the haggling is done and the shops are closed? When the quest has been given, the steeds saddled, and the adventurers are off to their next encounter? They keep the world running, the food cooked, and the horses shoed, yet what adventurer has ever spared a thought or concern for the Non-Player Characters?

In the town of Maplebark, four such NPCs settle in for a night of actively ignoring the adventurers drinking in the tavern when things go quickly and fatally awry. Once the dust settles, these four find themselves faced with an impossible choice: pretend to be adventurers undertaking a task of near-certain death or see their town and loved ones destroyed. Armed only with salvaged equipment, second-hand knowledge, and a secret that could get them killed, it will take all manner of miracles if they hope to pull off their charade.

And even if they succeed, the deadliest part of their journey may well be what awaits them at its end.


Final Fantasy 8 was the Role-Playing Game that instilled my love for story based games and future RPGs. I don’t know about you, but I generally don’t care for NPCs unless they have a quest marker or new items in the shop. So when I read the premise of this book, how could I not add it to my TBR list!?

Drew Hayes is an author from Texas who has written several books and found the gumption to publish a few (so far). He graduated from Texas Tech with a B.A. in English, because evidently he’s not familiar with what the term “employable” means. Drew has been called one of the most profound, prolific, and talented authors of his generation, but a table full of drunks will say almost anything when offered a round of free shots. Drew feels kind of like a D-bag writing about himself in the third person like this. He does appreciate that you’re still reading, though.

Website: www.drewhayesnovels.com

Twitter: @DrewHayesNovels

Email: Novelistdrew(at)gmail(dot)com

Fear and Fervor – A Patreon Fiction

Today’s fiction is an excerpt from this month’s Patreon work. I’ve combined my two favourite genre’s – Romance and Horror – with a dash of Lovecraftian influence. Enjoy!


Up upon the attic’s bare wooden floors, in the bodega of Casa Del Potro, between discarded paint bottles and torn canvas. Therein lies the young male we know only as Eduardo. He sits with his back against the raised mattress, naked save for a pair of dirty boxers. They reveal the stringy black threads of hair covering his legs and arms and have begun to crawl past the navel to his chest. Smudges of paint cover some of his brown skin, and the whites of his hands are lost to a swirling grey rainbow of colour.

He sleeps deeply and soundly. The dark tendrils of oily curled hair tumbled down to his chin like a frayed curtain. Near his bare feet lies a canvas still heavy with wet paint. Each corner holds a random item that keeps the canvas from rolling in. An iron stands in one corner, the severed cord wrapped in dark tape. In another corner is the one half of Eduardo’s wearable Jordan’s, the bottom half yawning with yellow strands of loosening superglue. The foot of an aged table, and one of the three metal stools keep the remaining corners down.

Caressed over canvas is a visage of improbable beauty. Flaxen tresses that divulge in hues of orange and red cascading down the back. Golden braids coil the hem of the snowy dress that sits below the smooth skin of bare shoulders. An elegant face gazes out at the viewer with gleaming emerald orbs that reach into the soul and tug it to the surface. Pert upturned nose sits perfectly on the symmetrical face above thin pursed lips. There is a haunting glare accentuated by her slightly raised brow, as though she notices something behind the viewer. Perhaps she feels the tiny pinpricks of an insect crawling up her leg below the separation of canvas and real life.

Or perhaps her gaze from canvas onto reality bears a truth she wishes not to comprehend. The artist, a living soul, tethered to the encroaching darkness ignorantly rejected as merely death. Only she, the portrait, the art, the creation, has any semblance of what awaits beyond the veil.

There is more to this corporeal existence than we can see. More beyond the ethereal presence that on occasion slinks along our spine with icy tendrils.

I will tell you the story of Eduardo and his paintings for it is a story that must be told. Perhaps it shall restore the madness that rattles my bones like arthritis.

Pray the madness does not pass on to you, for there is no fetter back to this blessed ignorance.


 

What Does Your Story Say?

When I initially began writing, I was purposed to write stories with meaning. Not just fluffy fun tales of over-powered heroes saving damsels in distress, beating the familiar evil villain, and then riding off into the sunset with said damsel. It was too cliched. Too fake. Too fictional.

Hence that amazing quote by Anais Nin on the title of my blog. “Not what we all can say, but what we are unable to say.” There could be many reasons why we might not be able to say something, but in our writing we can most certainly elaborate on them. Explore and expound for others to read and comprehend.

I’ve thought about changing that quote a number of times in the past, but I can’t get past the truth it speaks. It guided my tentative steps into serious writing. As fun as writing fan-fiction and ghost stories can be, sometimes I needed to write something with substance. Something concrete, addressing a personal issue or belief. I attempted a lot these in the past, ranging from Christianity to relationships to my greatest fears.

Here’s an excerpt from a piece of writing I labelled The Past:

The Past…

…is like a dark cave, contaminated, murky, fearsome place, one that we cordon off and try to forget about, ignoring the signs all around us that point back to it. But we cannot escape it. We sometimes linger at its entrance, gazing within the dark confines to see what can be seen. Safe enough. Safe enough away from what we know is within its depths. We know of the familiar creature within, one that bares an undeniably resemblance to ourselves, except for its blank dead eyes, dead in trespasses and sins, blinded from the truth willingly.

I was in a dark place for a while.

Self vs Other

These days I seem to be driven by concepts that are ‘out there’ rather than close to me. Removing self from the story and characters to create something outside of me. It’s much easier to ignore introspection. To escape to books and movies and music and art.

I could only hope to recreate those sensations in my readers. However, what I failed to notice, was that each creator of those inspirational  works had their own directive to their creation, a source that guided their work. It not only made them unique, but I as the recipient of their creativity, was able to experience what they experienced much deeper and fuller.

Combining self and these external sources, can create something beautiful. For example:

  • Adele’s soulful musical style was inspired by her own heartbreak, relationships, and a desire to making up for all the lost time through nostalgia and melancholy – yet she was inspired by Amy Winehouse and the album Frank.
  • Masamune Shirow (Masanori Ota) is a qualified oil painter, and creator of Ghost in the Shell and Appleseed. He writes thoughtful post apocalyptic cyberpunk futures with female protagonists – inspired by (and creator of) erotic art.
  • Stephen King’s stories involve the “every day man” thrust into a horror-fueled adventure, with running commentary on abusive, religious mothers (or priests) – the king of horror was inspired by other kings of horror H.P. Lovecraft and Richard Matheson.
  • Quentin Tarantino’s non-linear stories driven by gore and satire, are a manifestation of his creative mind – inspired by old music, where he uses the music to create scenes in his head and bring them to life.

Prolific creative figures who have combined their own experiences with their inspiration to produce amazing works.

When I make a film, I am hoping to reinvent the genre a little bit. I just do it my way. I make my own little Quentin versions of them.

~ Quentin Tarantino

Truth in Fiction

Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying every story I write will be an obscured memoir of things I want to say but can’t say. I am saying, however, that there will be elements of ‘my truth’ to each story. Drawing from me and drawing from outside of myself to create. Ultimately sharing my truth in fiction, and still having a great story to tell. Combined with world building and character building, I can fully embrace a character and world without feeling like a stranger in my own story.

Like a ghost in a shell.


What does your writing process entail? How much of yourself do you put into your stories? Is your main character usually you or a version of you, or do you draw other people as your characters? What’s your inspiration?

Greedy Pigs by Matt Wallace – Review

Title: Greedy Pigs (Sin du Jour #5)

Author: Matt Wallace

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Book procurement: Received a copy from Tor.com for Gamecca Magazine Vol 8 Issue 94.

Synopsis:

The Sin du Jour crew caters to the Shadow Government in Greedy Pigs, Matt Wallace’s fifth Sin du Jour Affair

I never did give them hell. I just told the truth, and they thought it was hell.

Politics is a dirty game. When the team at Sin du Jour accidentally caters a meal for the President of the United States and his entourage, they discover a conspiracy that has been in place since before living memory. Meanwhile, the Shadow Government that oversees the co-existence of the natural and supernatural worlds is under threat from the most unlikely of sources.

It s up to one member of the Sin du Jour staff to prevent war on an unimaginable scale.

Between courses, naturally.

Review:

First Thoughts

 

First I just want to say I love the very concept of chefs and cooks who cater to both humans and supernatural entities. A clandestine operation in the most unexpected setting.

Sin Du Jour is definitely one of my favourite series, it just unfortunate how each novella is so short, and yet it is that very fact that makes the stories work.

This fifth book in the Sin Du Jour series is yet another great piece of writing from the talented Matt Wallace. He keeps the drama and intrigue going with just enough wit to lighten the load while getting the point across. Character growth. Excellent setting. Perfect cliff hanger ending. Looking forward to the next book.

 

Writing

The writing is as crisp and humourous as usual, with a weighty, earnest realism to it. Events from Idle Ingredients continue to escalate when politics came in to play and a massive war creeps to the fore. The staff members are still reeling from the last demonic entity that entrapped them, and the consequences of their actions haunt them.

What I enjoyed most about the writing, is how well the characters are captured. There was growth to the main female character Lena, and a foreshadowing of what is to come. Nikki brings a different perspective to the second female character the novel follows. Both are strong and as similar as they are different. I like both.

The roster of characters balances out well and adds a dynamic experience to reading the novel. We don’t see the whole team this time around, but Bronc the main chef and Darren are suffering more after the last encounter. How all of this will proceed opens up a ton of speculation. And let’s not talk about the big baddie who remains in shadow yet oozes an ominous presence throughout the books.

A couple of recognizable celebrities make cameos, and Matt Wallace doesn’t need to use names to capture their essence. You’ll know immediately when you read them. It’s clever. It’s sneaky. It’s great!

Final Thoughts

Perhaps I was a bit biased when I read the book, considering how well I enjoyed it. I can’t say if I did found anything wrong with the pace, the writing or the characters. I don’t know when the next book will be available, but I hope I get a chance to read that too.

Rating: A gratifying 4 out of 5


What book have you read with a unique setting and character roster? Is there a series out there you enjoyed immensely? What are you currently reading?

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Microcosmsfic Flash Fiction – The Daughters of Nereus

 

This was my entry to last Friday’s microcosmsfic. Hope you enjoy.


299 words
Nymph / Underworld / Myth
Special Challenge: Death

Within the depths of the great ocean lay a vessel of stone and wood and metal. As ancient as time. A primordial husk borne of demise. Upon the splintered furrows etched into the wood, emblazoned in gold aged and weathered, remained a single word that spoke of times past: Nereus.
From the hollows of the great sunken ark, worn trembling fingers wound gleaming gears onto the bosom of coral shaped as one of human descent.
“Ne’er shall ye taste the bitter elixir of death.” The voice rumbled. Creatures of the sea squiggled away from the words. Fearing entrapment. The old fingers slid the final piece into place, a soft caress and an ancient chant of a forgotten tongue sealing the alabaster skin of the slumbering creation.
She gasped to life with a flurry of froth and foam and the quiet tick of clockwork. Spiralling lashes fluttered open to reveal dark orbs reminiscent of Hade’s realm.
“Bring me souls dear one. Forty-nine more. The surface shall know our woe. This domain shall be Sheol to them.”
The young creature of the sea swam from within the dark abyss to the bright cerulean waters above. To the passing ships and echoing shouts of passing sailors. One of which gazed upon the waters to see a creature of immense beauty. Long dark tresses flowing down bare shoulders. Pink pouting lips whispering promises of love and pleasure.

Unperturbed, he dove to the waters and let the creature drag him into the watery depths. Death clawing at his lungs and throat until it seeped into him and faded into darkness.

She brought the sailor to her father Nereus. The ark thrumming with life as yet another coral-created form waited for the sailor’s soul.

“My daughters… no my Nereids. Long shall ye live with me.”


Shout out to Carin Marais who shared the Community Pick win with me. Read her microcosms entry: The Sisters Oath.


I built this story from the mythology of the Nereids:

THE NEREIDES (Nereids) were fifty sea-nymphe daughters of Nereus the old man of the sea.  They were goddesses of the sea’s rich bounty and protectors of sailors and fishermen, coming to the aid of those in distress. Individually they represented various facets of the sea from the salty brine, to the sea foam, sand, rocks, waves and currents, as well as the various skills possessed by seamen.

The Nereides dwelt with their elderly father in a silvery grotto at the bottom of the Aegean Sea. The Nereid Thetis was their unofficial leader and Amphitrite was Poseidon’s queen.

The Nereides were depicted in ancient art as beautiful, young maidens, sometimes running with small dolphins or fish in their hands, or else riding on the backs of dolphins, hippokampoi (hippocamps) and other sea creatures.

The name Nereides means “Daughters of Nereus” but also “the Wet Ones” from nêros the Greek word for “wet”.

~ theoi.com/Pontios/Nereides

Rhyming Rings by David Gemmell

David Gemmell was the UK’s number one fantasy and historical novelist until his death in 2006. A regular Sunday Times bestseller, and international sensation, his legacy lives on through his novels, his influence on the genre, and through the David Gemmell Legend awards.

Rhyming Rings is a never-before-seen Gemmell novel, discovered in his papers by his widow, Stella Gemmell. Merging autobiographical details of Gemmell’s life as a journalist in South London with a serial killer and a tinge of the supernatural, this is perfect for fans of David’s work, as well as readers of gritty crime novels. Set against the backdrop of a London simmering with poverty, change and racial tension, this taut thriller is a fitting legacy for the great writer.

This book includes a brand new introduction from massive Gemmell fan Conn Iggulden, and an afterword by Gemmell’s friend Stan Nicholls.

An ambidextrous killer is murdering women, leaving virtually no evidence behind, and struggling journalist Jeremy Miller wishes he was covering the case. Instead, he’s stuck with heart-warming local stories about paraplegic teenagers and elderly psychic ladies.

So when his stories and the murder case start to converge no one is more surprised than Jeremy.

Or, it turns out, more at risk.


Drew from The Tattooed Book Geek picked this up in his book haul and I was immediately intrigued! Looking to pick this up too!

David Andrew Gemmell was a bestselling British author of heroic fantasy. A former journalist and newspaper editor, Gemmell had his first work of fiction published in 1984. He went on to write over thirty novels. Best known for his debut, Legend, Gemmell’s works display violence, yet also explores themes in honour, loyalty and redemption. With over one million copies sold, his work continues to sell worldwide.

 

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