Breaking News Regarding My Secret Crush, "The Painted Man"

Okay, maybe not-so-secret. If you’ve read me for any length of time, you’re already aware of my un-embarrassed gushing over this stellar novel. In case you missed it, you can see the review of The Painted Man here and my interview with Peat here. If that’s not enough, check out my fangirl squee.

Are we caught up? Good. Because there’s more.

Check it out.

(I’m not a “told you so” type of person. But I believe when I read this the first time I advised Peat to hold out for merchandising rights when the book was optioned for a movie — and this was three or four years ago. Heh. OH – and I want an Arlen doll!)

Can you say FABULOUS?? I’m SO EXCITED!!!





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Fiction Friday – Take a "Vacation"

Once in awhile, I am lucky enough to run across a piece of work that not only touches my heart, but makes me think, and think hard. “Vacation” by Jeremy C. Shipp is one such book.

It’s marketed as horror, but trust me when I tell you that you’ve never read a horror book like this. It’s so much more than that. It’s layered with meaning and thought-provoking social themes, wrapped up in a kind of twisted love story, delicate like a baklava pastry with substantial walnuts of thought with a drizzle of honey to make it all very tasty.

Bernard Johnson is an English professor, and embarks on a once-in-a-lifetime Vacation subsidized by the government. What he learns about himself and his environment has far-reaching effects. Nothing is what it seems; the fabric of his unreality is re-woven into a new reality and the journey is fascinating.

Every chapter opens up a different line of thought, a unique perspective on the world as a whole and society in general. Shipp’s unusual vision of what makes this fictional civilization tick bears a striking resemblance to the world in which we live – and it isn’t pretty. It isn’t pretty, but every word shines with a truth that’s hard to ignore.

Shipp’s outlook and message might be difficult to stomach, but then, most hard truths are. His creative prose and singular subject matter combines horror, humor, and insight in a way that is most unusual from anything else I’ve read. Johnson is a sympathetic hero without being anything close to perfect, but who loves a perfect hero? His growth as a person is reflected in the choices he makes toward the end of the story, and while not all the loose ends are tied up in a pretty bow, it makes the story resonate that much more.

“Vacation” is not an easy read. It’s not a comfortable read. It’s a challenging read, and will stay with you long after you read the last page – much like baklava stays on your hips long after it’s eaten. This is one story that will make you think long and hard about your place in the world, the consequences of your choices, and how society and government plays a part in your life whether you realize it or not.

Jeremy C. Shipp has written an evocative and exciting literary adventure. Take a trip with him – you will never have a more unusual, mind-blowing, and illuminating vacation.

Stay tuned for an interview with the talented, wild, and crazy Jeremy C. Shipp. You can find his novel, “Vacation”, for sale on Amazon on the widget to the right.

If you’ve enjoyed this review or it has been helpful to you, consider making a donation. Thanks!





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Music Monday – Holiday The Green Day Way

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“Holiday”

Say, hey!

Hear the sound of the falling rain
Coming down like an Armageddon flame (Hey!)
The shame
The ones who died without a name

Hear the dogs howling out of key
To a hymn called “Faith and Misery” (Hey!)
And bleed, the company lost the war today

I beg to dream and differ from the hollow lies
This is the dawning of the rest of our lives
On holiday

Hear the drum pounding out of time
Another protester has crossed the line (Hey!)
To find, the money’s on the other side

Can I get another Amen? (Amen!)
There’s a flag wrapped around a score of men (Hey!)
A gag, a plastic bag on a monument

I beg to dream and differ from the hollow lies
This is the dawning of the rest of our lives
On holiday

(Hey!)
(Say, hey!)

(3,4)

“The representative from California has the floor”

Sieg Heil to the president Gasman
Bombs away is your punishment
Pulverize the Eiffel towers
Who criticize your government
Bang bang goes the broken glass and
Kill all the fags that don’t agree
Trials by fire, setting fire
Is not a way that’s meant for me
Just cause, just cause, because we’re outlaws yeah!

I beg to dream and differ from the hollow lies
This is the dawning of the rest of our lives
I beg to dream and differ from the hollow lies
This is the dawning of the rest of our lives

This is our lives on holiday.

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"Scratching" My Horror Itch

As a reader and a writer, it is the greatest joy of my life to discover new and amazing authors that rock my universe. It doesn’t happen often enough, but when it does, I’m flying like Aladdin on his magic carpet. By “new”, I mean “new to me”, so sometimes my ravings may elicit the response of, “Oh, jeez, know THAT writer, been reading them for YEARS, where the hell have you been?” Still, sometimes we need to be reminded of Golden Oldies, but sometimes we’re lucky enough to catch a rising star, and that’s really exciting to me.

I don’t confine myself to one genre — as a matter of fact, although I recognize the need for labels (marketing purposes, don’t you know) I don’t like them. I love finding material that either crosses the boundaries of genres, or blurs them so they’re not so sharp or delineating. Like a chalk hopscotch, doused in a misty spring rain. I’ve always been of the opinion that although good writers will do well in any genre — a word is a word is a word, and if you know how to wrangle them, it doesn’t matter what the task is — I further believe that writers do their best work if they are in love with their genre of choice. In other words, especially in this profession, you have to love what you do or it’s gonna suck.

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So, there I was, twittering on Twitter, when in the twitter-stream a very nice young man, who is planning to release a book this fall, was letting it be known he would participate in an interview to anyone who was interested. Of course, I’m interested, I’m always interested. Are you kidding? That’s like throwing a shiny thing in front of a magpie.

I traveled to his blog to check out his work — the first story I read was Scratch .

It was nothing like I expected. Oh, I’ve read horror, lots and lots of horror, and most of the time, especially in shorter works, I’ve found horror rather — unsatisfying. You know, too much gore for the message, or too little. Something that looks on the surface to be horror is really comedy dressed up in a shroud, and it’s often empty, like a zombie’s eyes. Nothing in there, can you dig it, just shock value and if there even is a message it’s lost in the horror of a good story gone bad rather than standing on its own torn up, blistered feet. Good horror is really difficult to write in a way that doesn’t come across as parody.

Not so in this case. This story blew me away. Actually, it made me cry. It made me cry because there is such truth embedded within, it burned my eyes. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a copy of Vacation, and next up will be my review. All I’ll tell you right now is, I wasn’t disappointed.

Even if horror isn’t your “thing”, I encourage you to give this guy a turn on the dance floor, even if horror is not your favorite genre. Because underneath the horror aspect, there’s a story, can you dig it — an awesome, mind-blowing, thought-provoking and thoroughly entertaining story. You can’t get better than that.

Definitely check it out, and keep your eye on Jeremy C. Shipp. I know I will.

ALL my eyes, because he’s tricksy.

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Screws – Loose and Otherwise

Cleaning and hauling was the first step. Then came the actual, physical move, which was much simpler because, well, I don’t have much. But then, oh dear and beloved friends and neighbors, came Screw Hell.

To say the previous tenants left a mess behind them is an understatement of the century. Still, I’ve dealt with that. I’m sure the garbage men have a voodoo doll of me full of long, wicked pins, but I’ll give them cookies at Christmas. I’ve even cleaned out the garage and hoo doggy, that was some kind of fun. I did not run across any dead critter bodies, for which I was eternally grateful, but otherwise, it was gross. Still, I’ve dealt with that.

What has bugged me up inside the actual abode are screws. Yes, you heard me. S C R E W S.  The previous tenant had a serious fetish for screws. It’s incredible. I have enough screws to supply a third world country, all painstakingly unscrewed from the walls and various other nooks and crannies. I’ve taken down hooks and hinges that don’t hinge anything; wood screwed to door and window openings, and screws that are just inserted into strange places on the walls with no discernible function whatsoever. I have found caches of screws with different personalities; wood screws, metal screws, ceramic screws, concrete screws, short screws and screws that look long enough to skewer a cow.

Hey, I guess you could say I’ve been well and totally screwed. Heh.

So, the work continues, because it seems everywhere I look, there’s a screw lurking. I really need to get them all out of the space I’m hoping to transform into an office (this writing and working from a decrepit TV tray from a Most Uncomfortable Chair isn’t working so well) so I can finish priming the walls for a coat of possibly periwinkle (or maybe pink; I haven’t decided) paint. I need to decide on a floor choice, too. Carpet? Vinyl tiles? Oh, decisions, decisions. I’ve already painted over the black ceiling. *sigh*

It’s a work in progress. I’m trying to be patient. I’m trying not to let the screws get me down.

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In addition to all this, I’m trying to organize my time to Maximum Efficiency. How’s that working out, you ask? Uh, okay. Fine. Oh, all right, maybe not so much. I’ve still met every deadline, and I’m not complaining. I know it will be a lot easier once the office space is complete and I can spread out.

In the meantime, I have a couple of interviews with some fabulous people coming up; reviews of various reading materials for which you will pledge to me your undying gratitude; a gaggle of great links to amuse, entertain, and enlighten; ramblings and observations from the mind of a working freelancer on the edge.

I know you can’t wait.

In the meantime, I’ll be unscrewing, editing, and while working on projects to pay the rent, I’ll also be trying to appease the Fiction Monster that’s been poking the soft gray matter of my brain and keeping me awake at night.

It’s hungry.

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