Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Maven - Goddess of Knowledge


M˄VEN 





Seek the Synthetic!

All around the Necro, the massive city state, were those glaring signs and flashing photos of extremely happy people enjoying themselves in various ways. Seek the Synthetic! Do not deny yourself pleasure, for isn't that why we are here? You, me, all of us – we are here to seek! YES!, said a billboard dusted in pink and bold green glitter with a slimy tone, we seek the Synthetic! Do not deny . . . and on and on it went.

Forever. Never-ending. Time is nothing, for there is nothing.



Jonah's eyes rolled back in their sockets as he laid back on the soiled and musty smelling couch, yet he did not care. His eyes moved under their lids as the drug seeped through his body, seeking, always seeking for that precious blood to infect. Last week, it was orange. This time – blue. Each one held their own satisfaction. Their own . . . whatever the fuck you wanted. Jonah, just like so many others, did not give a fuck. He felt his eyes continue to move as the Synthetic caressed his mind, nerves, blood, everything, then politely and quickly killed a little more of his true self. Seek the Synthetic, and so he did. He felt himself being caressed by hands, cold and sybaritic, and he could do nothing about it. He no longer wanted to have emotions. Emotions were for those who wanted to . . . suddenly, his eyes flew wide open as a word crossed his eyes. That one word. He looked around the room, searching for any sign of intrusion; nothing stirred. In fact, nothing had moved within that room ever since she left.
“Pandi,” he spat in the room. “Always fuckin' Pandi. Always leaving me, always never caring.” He touched the spot where he took his last fix and sighed. Gone all too soon, he thought. The Synthetic never lasted long enough for him to hold those cold hands, kiss them, and tell their owner that he loved it.
“I love . . . it,” he whispered.


“Always Pandi,” mumbled Pandi under her black hood as she walked down Lazarus Street, one of the main thoroughfares in the Necro. The winds felt colder than normal; of course, that was to be expected since the city was a modern necropolis. Deny the feelings, deny yourself, and Seek the Synthetic. Pandi stopped to look at a storefront window that displayed all forms of the Synthetic. Take your choice!, screamed the billboard in the window. Nothing is sacred! Only the Synthetic gives that which you most desire. Pandi growled then moved on. Fuck the Synthetic, she thought. I know of something else. Something different. Something lost.


Jonah stared at himself in the mirror, hoping to see what it was he searched for. His dark purple eyes seemed to look through the mirror and beyond the concrete walls. His pale skin glowed under the harsh lights in the bathroom, yet he had gotten used to it by now. Pandi couldn't; that's why she left. Pandi wanted something else.
“Well, I hope you get it,” he whispered in a spidery voice. “She doesn't exist; I kept trying to tell her that.” He left the bathroom and returned to the living room of his cramped apartment to sit on the couch once more. He pushed up his sleeve and stared at the now faint marks, the “kisses” left by the Synthetic, and grinned. “I have all I want,” he croaked as he leaned his head back. “Pandi chases nothing. She doesn't exist.”


Pandi smiled as she stood before the black wooden door. It seemed so out of place in the Necro, yet it gave her hope. She placed a hand on the door and felt the warmth emanating from it, then pushed with all her might. The door gave way without a sound and soon, she was in. A single light hung on the wall and as she walked towards it, the door silently closed behind her. Pandi pulled back her hood to reveal her long black hair pulled into a tight ponytail, showing off the top of her tribal tattoo that ended just above her butt. She looked at her all black attire then walked down the hall, past the light as instructed. Jonah gave up because he no longer believed, she thought as her boots made no sound on the black wooden floor. He gave it all to me and I willingly took it. I believe. As she walked, other lights turned themselves on, giving off a soft and inviting glow. The lights gave her assurance that she was on the right path. Don't stop, they seemed to say. Move forward. That which you seek is here. Pandi wanted to believe.

Jonah began to scream as the images reappeared on his arms. The Synthetic was not enough!, he thought as he jumped from the couch and began to throw himself against the walls. She called to him and he wanted to be deaf. She knew what he needed and he refused. I don't want to believe, he thought over and over as his slender frame slammed into the walls. Yet with every moment of pain came Her voice. She called to him, letting him know that he was still loved and needed. After all, She said to him as he slumped to the floor and cried, the War is coming. He looked at his arms again. The symbols had returned. She needed him. Pandi had made it. He closed his dark purple eyes then disappeared.

After what seemed to be an eternity, Pandi reached another door at the end of the hall. She placed a hand on the door and almost smiled as the warmth embraced her. She pushed and the door opened without any resistance, revealing a large room with twenty seated robed figures facing a woman who stood on a small stage. As Pandi walked in the room, she noticed that the woman's skin was bright white with strange designs on Her body not covered by Her black clothing. A strong and inviting scent compelled her to walk towards the woman; none of the robed figures turned to face her. The woman, tall and graceful, locked Her dark purple eyes on Pandi's face.
“You came,” She said as she raised a tattooed hand in the air.
“I had to know.”
“And now that you are here . . .”
“Ex Libris.” The woman smiled as Her hair, long black locks, began to move on their own. As Pandi moved closer, she realized that Her hair was actually strings of words that rose and fell. “Ex Libris.” She reached the woman and bowed low.
“You came because you believed,” said the woman. “Do you remember what it used to be like?” Pandi stared at the woman's arms and saw the words slowly moving on Her skin. Yes, she thought, I do remember what it used to be like. Books, words, knowledge. Reading for hours and no one disturbing you. No one asked you why you had a book. No one questioned the search for knowledge.
“Then, if you remember what it used to be like, will you fight with us? Fight the Synthetic and the destruction of the mind?” Pandi looked up into Her eyes, nodded yes, then turned to face the robed figures. Dark purple eyes, the sign of the Followers of Maven, Goddess of Knowledge, stared back at her. She felt Maven's hand on her neck and suddenly, her skin felt itchy. She rolled up her sleeves and saw words bleeding black on her skin.
“They tell the tales of Before,” whispered Maven, “when I was worshiped in plain sight.”
“Before . . .”
“When the world was made of words,” chanted the robed figures.
“Before . . .”
“When the Word was Truth.”
“Before . . . “
“When those who Sought were revered.”
“Ex Libris!” All turned at the sound of the new voice at the door.
Pandi smiled. “Jonah,” she said as Jonah pulled back his sleeves and allowed the words to be seen. Maven smiled as her High Priest walked, no longer a slave to the Synthetic, towards Her.


“The War begins now.”





Tuesday, December 29, 2015

YOU are My Obsession . . .



Have you ever had that feeling that someone was watching you?

Have you ever felt that something just didn't feel right?

What would you do if you knew that someone would do ANYTHING to have you in their life?

Before I begin this review, I want to state that, in being a dark fantasy/psychological thriller author, there are still some things that will make me jump out of my skin and/or creep me out so much that it takes a cup of Earl Grey, playing World of Warcraft, or watching the movie JAWS to calm me down. The book YOU by Caroline Kepnes is one of those things.



Joe is a mild mannered and somewhat asshole-ish bookstore employee in New York City who thinks himself to be way above those who enter into his domain to purchase the latest from Stephen King or some classic novel that he knows they will never read. However, his world is literally turned upside down when a young girl named Guinevere Beck walks into the store and into Joe's heart. At once, he begins to track her down through Facebook and other social media platforms; thus begins one of the most disturbing books I've ever read . . . except for Traumatized by author and good friend Alexander Brown (love you!)


YOU is told from Joe's perspective, making it hard to just "walk away" from his actions. He wants the world to see what he is doing. He wants you, the reader, to never stop reading his every move and the fact that he's proud of them. He claims his actions are for Beck, but are they? From convincing the maintenance guy that he is Beck's boyfriend so that he could enter her apartment, to stealing items from her apartment to create the Box of Beck, to considering and planning murder. It's all for love, baby, can't you see that? I began reading YOU early Monday morning. I snuck in pages while at work. I raced home to read more of the book and at 7:10, completed it, only to have a ten minute talk with myself about what I had just read. I even messaged dear friends of mine to explain why I needed a hug, a puppy, and ice cream with sprinkles. YOU left me feeling creeped out, dirty, heartbroken, angry, and just sad.

I LOVED IT!

While the story may not be an original one, Kepnes adds her voice and weaves a sinister tale that, thankfully enough, makes you want to read the last pages of the book - a sample from her new book Hidden Bodies. Joe reminded me of a new breed of Tom Ripley; if you have not read the book The Talented Mr. Ripley, I highly recommend it. You'll see what I mean.

Thank you, Caroline, for creeping me out just enough that I will watch my back every time I enter a bookstore.


EX LIBRIS!

Monday, December 28, 2015

Time is a Many Splintered Thing



As I stated in a Facebook post the other day - this guy can write.

I first met Peter J. Wacks at Geekonomicon and, after being on several panels with him, decided to purchase one of his books. I chose Second Paradigm, published through Wordfire Press, after reading the back of the book twice and thinking that I was in for a treat. Second Paradigm is not a treat; it is a mind blowing experience. Although I do love the concept of time travel, this book takes it in an entirely new and unexpected direction and the ending will frustrate and satisfy you.



In "current" time, Chris Nost has been convicted of a murder, yet does not live long enough to carry out his sentence. He is murdered and the world he knew comes to an end. However, when he "awakens" in the police state year 2044, he realizes that he must solve his own murder that will lead him to answering questions of who and more importantly, what, he is. Is he a god, or perhaps the wrong man at the right time? Why is everyone so interested in him and why is no one to be trusted? Conspiracies are born, treachery is commonplace, and the truth comes with a price, yet Chris will discover that, at the center of it all, Time truly is a Many Splintered Thing.

Second Paradigm was my introduction into the mind of Wacks and it was quite a pleasure to be there. He reads like Gibson, talks like Kerouac, and is still his own voice. He makes you think and does not lead you with a pampered hand. Rather, he sets the stage one agonizing piece at a time and just when you may have figured it out, his characters shift to an entirely different thought that involves more questions and slower reading. The book is not linear, jumping from character to character, time period to time period, yet if the readers pays attention, the true story does come to light. I will not give the entire story away, yet I will state for the record that Nost is definitely a WHAT and not a WHO. Also for the record, the character Alex Zarth is one that you will not forget, no matter your time period.

I can not praise this book enough and I truly do look forward to reading more of Peter's works.


EX LIBRIS!


Friday, December 25, 2015

Werewolves and Vampires in WW II!



After an awesome Christmas spent with family and friends all over the country, I'm finally home and ready to work on a review of a really cool graphic novel!



Operation: Silver Moon is an awesome graphic novel that showcases the talent of author Bobby Nash and artist Rick Johnson. The story combines world history, horror, and the supernatural into a graphic novel that deserves to be read over and over again.

It is World War II, and a group of Nazis in Romania have stumbled upon an evil power that appears to have been the source of the Black Death. They plan to use it to take over the world on behalf of Hitler and nothing will stop them! Nothing, that is, except for an American special agent and werewolf named Tom Lupus and a vampire named Vlas! The two work together to stop the Nazis and their undead monsters from spreading the Black Death again, all in the name of freedom!

A well told story with astounding artwork that will make you want more. Highly recommended!

EX LIBRIS!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

A Trio of New Teas from Viridian Tea Company!



With Star Wars Episode Two going on in the background, I've been hard at work finishing up the latest blends of Viridian Tea Company!

Here we go!


Blend One - Tubby and Coo's Tea

(Book - Guignol by Brett Schwaner and illustrated by Keith Hogan)

If you have ever been to New Orleans, then hopefully you have visited the awesome Tubby and Coo's Mid City Book Shop! They have tons of books, geeky and bookish items, plus games galore! During one of my many brain storms, I wondered if Candice (the owner) would be interested in a tea specially made for her store. She said YES, gave me a good direction to start, and the rest is history!

Tubby and Coo's blend is a delightful mixture of assam (black) tea, bergamot, lemon balm, and lavender! As the label states, the tea tastes great with a book! This blend will be sold exclusively at Tubby and Coo's; I'll be shipping out their first batch very soon, so be on the lookout for it!



Blend Two - Bohemian Tea



I'm honestly a Bohemian at heart . . okay, a DARK one. During one of my never ending brain storms, I decided to create a blend that would uplift and inspire the wanderer in all of us. The being that will travel anywhere, see everything, and simply live outside of the lines.

Bohemian tea is a groovy mix of green tea, peppermint, rosemary, and chamomile.



Blend Three - Endymion Tea



If you know your Greek mythology, Endymion was a beautiful shepherd who caught the eye of Selene, the Moon. While my tea can't guarantee finding your special love, this herbal blend of hibiscus, chamomile, lavender, rose petals, and peppermint will soothe and softly take your stress away.

Jewelry by my good friends Back to Earth Creations!

Endymion and Bohemian Teas will be sold at my Etsy store, ViridianTeaCompany, IONS Geek Gallery, and Woodruff Fontaine House, as well as any conventions that I attend. As stated before, Tubby and Coo's will be sold ONLY at their store. Support local businesses!

Now it's time to clean up. Wow.


HAPPY CUPS!





Monday, December 21, 2015

Of Trains, Hobos, and Johnnycakes!




Thanks to waking up at 2:23am on Sunday (I guess I was just excited to see The Force Awakens!), I decided to read a book until I fell asleep again. If you ever find yourself the recipient of insomnia, reading a book, exercising, or cleaning up your house/apartment/whatever are great ways of handling that. I suffer from I-have-a-lot-of-books-yet-I-don't-know-what-to-read itis, of which was quickly cured by picking up the book Crossings, the second book in the Steel Roots Series by J. L. Mulvihill, published by Seventh Star Press. By 4am, my eyes grew heavy and I had read over 100 pages.



Crossings picks up the story that The Boxcar Baby left off - AB'Gail, daughter of Bishop Steel, is still searching for her papa in Alternative History America that has a Steampunk flavour to it. With every person that she meets, she learns quickly whether to trust them or not, all the while enjoying the companionship of Boots, the more-than-a-cat cat. No trolls this time, yet there are more than enough people in the book ready to do harm to her. The System, overall mastermind of America, is now considering both her and her father as fugitives, so AB'Gail must stay several steps ahead of the metal fist powered by steam and broken human dreams.

Mulvihill continues her page turning writing ability in Crossings and the second book does not disappoint. In fact, I found myself finishing the book yesterday and ready to get to the next book. She is a gifted author with a vast imagination and it shows in this series. However, Mulvihill's writing also has a nice dash of the macabre, just enough to make the Steel Roots series terrifying, adventurous, and just a damn good read.

Thanks Jen, and see you soon!




EX LIBRIS!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

The Face of a Geek - Jeremy



Jeremy - Fire Protection Engineer



"My step father was a big geek - theatre arts in college, set design, makeup, and painted Warhammer figures. For my eleventh birthday, he got me the Batman Knightfall series - that ignited the world of Batman for me."



"I've been in fandom most of my life: Batman comic books, anything superhero related, and I had a wall of X-Men and Batman toys. I had series and series of Spawn figures. Any movies that were out I just ate them up."



"I've only been to Wizard World in Chicago once. I was thirty when I attended my first Memphis Comic and Fantasy Convention. I was in a small town in central Illinois before moving to Memphis. I met an old friend in Memphis who wanted to buy an old Batman cowl from me. He told me about MCFC - he dressed up as Bane and I dressed up as Batman for the convention."



"Cause Play Memphis was started as a non profit organization in February: we dress up as super heroes, Disney Princesses, and Disney Princes and do events at Ronald McDonald House, LeBonheur, Target House. We go visit the kids who probably need a smile and give them a smile."


A side note - after we finished the interview, Jeremy informed me that his wife thinks that he's actually trying to become Batman! I was super impressed when Jeremy said that he knew several forms of martial arts, yet stated for the record that he's a DC Universe fan and "has not read a ton of Moon Knight comics". I told him that I would let it go for now.

Thank you, Jeremy, for wanting to be a part of this photo shoot and thanks to Republic Coffee for letting us do this interview in their coffee joint. Salut!



Saturday, December 19, 2015

A New Pulp Hero with High Heels!



Thanks to Tommy Hancock, Editor in Chief and the face of Pro Se Press, my knowledge regarding New Pulp has grown significantly. Dashing masked men who serve justice to the scum of their city, or perhaps a woman shrouded in mystery who wears high heels when she's kicking ass. The Pulptress, a collection of short stories through Pro Se Press, is right up your alley if you need that Pulp fix. Showcasing the talent of Tommy Hancock, Terry Alexander, Ron Fortier, Erwin K. Roberts, and Andrea Judy, the Pulptress is one woman with many personalities and even lives. She is everywhere and everyone, yet she is one thing: a crime fighter. Each story tells a different tale regarding the Pulptress and her latest battle, and every time she hands out justice in the form of quick wit, sharp moves, and high heel shoes.



I still can't get over the fact that she wears high heels while fighting crime. That's kinda awesome.

The book is a quick read yet will leave you wanting more; in fact, I read this book at the wrong time. I had read Andrea Judy's book The Pulptress vs. The Bone Queen: Blood and Bone before reading The Pulptress. Please check out my review of her book in my blog! Judy's story in The Pulptress has a nice set up to what occurs in her stand alone book, yet I was still able to follow the events because Judy is just that talented of an author. Not to mention one of my closest friends.

The Pulptress is a great holiday gift for that special person in your life, even if that person if yourself!

Merry PULPmas!



EX LIBRIS!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Way of the Assassin



Meet Brandon. He's behind in rent, his boss hates him, and has recently become the laughing stock of his job due to receiving payment in the form of carrots. Meet Agkistrodon, an assassin with Assassins Incorporated, the top organization for all things murder and stealth. He's not seen as too threatening and completely pales in comparison to Naja Ashei, the top assassin in the company. He just can't seem to get ahead in life. However, when a top paying hit is sent through Assassins Incorporated, Agkistrodon jumps at the chance of going full steam on it.

Only one problem: the target is Brandon. And that just happens to be Agkistrodon.



Welcome to Assassins Incorporated, the awesome and action packed book by author Phillip Drayer Duncan, published at Yard Dog Press. This slim book is packed to the gills with action, sci-fi tech, cold blooded murder, and humour! Agkistrodon/Brandon must find a way out of his ever deepening mess, all the while realizing that blood is truly thicker than water and that a phone call every so often wouldn't hurt. Duncan has wonderfully mixed sci-fi, humour, action, and well developed characters to create a book that will surely give enough pleasure on a lazy afternoon fit for reading. The length of the book was perfect for the story and for the "resolution" to the central situation, all the while riding high on a wave of humour.

I had the pleasure of hanging out with Duncan at Geekonomicon and at Memphis Comic and Fantasy Convention; he is a delight on panels and funny as hell.

If you ever see him at a future con, ask him about being a brontosaurus.



EX LIBRIS!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The Face of a Geek Photo Shoot - Inaugural!



Last year, I decided to do the photo shoot The Hands of Art - my way of giving praise to those who use their hands for many creative endeavours. Although the ongoing photo shoot was a success, I wanted to do something else, something new. When I began following the site Humans of New York, an idea came to mind. The site is simple: a man with his camera takes photos of the people of New York (and now other countries!) and tells their compelling stories to the world. I loved the site so much that I wanted to do something similar yet with a geek/alternative/whatever edge. And so, The Face of a Geek was born!

Geeks are everywhere. We do almost every kind of job on the planet, yet most people who live outside of the fandom world would never guess that their next door neighbour, co-worker, or even boyfriend/girlfriend was a geek. Many people know of my Geek roots and I'm not ashamed to show them. The Face of a Geek is my way of saying - be proud of who (and what) you are. Never hide. Never be ashamed.

If you are interested in being a part of this ongoing photo shoot, send an email to: artgirl74@gmail.com and let's converse. 

Much love and thanks to my buddy, Alissa. Also much love to Bluff City Coffee for allowing us to begin this new road in their awesome coffee joint!


THE FACE OF A GEEK



Alissa Brielle - Manager of IONS: A Geek Gallery, Co-Programming Coordinator of Memphis Comic and Fantasy Convention, and coffee addict




"My dad got me into fandom; he's been a nerd all his life. We were raised on Star Wars, Star Trek, Stargate, all of it. We owned the VHS tapes for Star Wars."



"My faith is important to me; my faith in God brought me through many struggles in my life. It kept me going in life and in my fandom."



Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Of the Dead, Good Sir . . .



A Plunder of Souls is the third book in the Thieftaker Chronicles by author D. B. Jackson, also known as David B. Coe and quite honestly, the best book thus far. The series is a wonderful blend of mystery, humour, romance, history, horror, and fantasy, giving the reader more than normally expected in a book. Ethan Kaille, beloved thieftaker and conjurer, is hired by several ministers to discover the reason of a most upsetting discovery: several graves in many of the cemeteries are horribly desecrated. The heads, right hand, and three toes from the left foot have been removed from the corpses. Someone has also carved strange marks on their chests and removed a piece of clothing from the coffins. As smallpox ravages through Boston, the dead are no longer seen as the “final” stage of rest, causing the living to be fearful of those who have passed on. As Ethan races (and limps) through Pre-Revolutionary Boston, he discovers the line between the living and the dead will become an aqua coloured mass of danger and revenge.



Jackson's usual flair for enthralling his readers is quite apparent in A Plunder of Souls; in fact, he seems to have raised the bar much higher than before. Although I purchased my copy of the book at ConNooga, it took no time for me to return to the familiar streets, the smells of fish chowder and good ale, and cold as ice Sephira Pryce and her henchmen. It felt good to return to Boston and be with Ethan as he solved the latest “mystery” while barely clinging to his life.

Just for record, and I hope my friend David is reading this – Will You Please Make Ethan Ask Kannice To Marry Him?

Okay, I feel much better now. Back to the review.

I know that I am being redundant whenever I review Jackson's books, yet I can't help myself. The Thieftaker Chronicles has something for every kind of reader with that little extra that is Jackson's  masterful writing. I look forward to picking up the next book when I see my dear friend at ConNooga 2016!



EX LIBRIS!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Time Traveling Thieves!



What if Ali Baba was not an innocent?

What if Ali Baba became the leader of the Forty Thieves?

What if . . . the Forty Thieves were time travelers?




Such begins The Forty, a delightful idea brought to life by photographer Fox Gradin and writers Kathryn Hinds and James Palmer. The concept is this: deep in the Cave of Wonders are the Forty Thieves of Ali Baba. However, Ali Baba is away on an adventure, and so the thieves decide to tell their stories to each other to pass the time. Whoever had the best story would win all of the bottles of the Forty and enjoy a very good drink. The Forty are men and women, cowboys, samurai, petty thieves, and vampires, and each story is compelling. A photo of the thief accompanies each story, breathing life into the tales and the diversity of the Forty.

Although I enjoyed reading each story, my personal favourites were The Dandy Dealer, Duo Marceau, Jenny Cutpurse, Phantom of the Dunes, and Fortunato. To me, those stories stood out in my mind due to the "interactions" the thieves went through before they arrived at the Cave of Wonders. At the end of the book are the stories of Morgana and Kasim, Ali Baba's brother; they explain the real reason behind the Forty and why Ali Baba used such measures to lead them to the Cave of Wonders. I found it to be a rather interesting ending and would love it if there was a "sequel". This is a book worth reading again and again!

EX LIBRIS!




Sunday, December 6, 2015

Of Death and the Theatre!




There are days when I do enjoy a good spooky read. A story that will give me chills down my spine and make me check my apartment one last time before I go to sleep - that's the good stuff! It's even more fun to write macabre stories with a plot twist so as to "disturb" my readers, like Silk in Tales From a Goth Librarian, par example. Such was the case with GUIGNOL: A Tale of Escalating Horror by Brett Schwaner and Keith Hogan. The tale is a simple one: the students at Sainte Jeanne D'Arc are about to put on a play titled GUIGNOL for Halloween, as written by the school drama teacher Madame Jeannette. The word guignol comes from Le Theatre du Grand-Guignol, a theatre in Paris from 1897 to 1962 that showed plays that specialized in horror. Maelynn Maghee has always been a loner, so when she attends her first day of school at Sainte Jeanne D'Arc, she expects the same treatment from the other students. However, another loner and talented artist named Lilly Langtree quickly befriends her and soon, Maelynn is no longer alone. However, all is not what it seems, for Lilly is a special girl, one that can make anyone's dreams come true . . . all for a price, of course. Death, blood, betrayal, love, fear, and redemption are mere characters in the play and soon, all will know just why Lilly LOVES Halloween!



I picked up GUIGNOL at Tubby and Coo's Mid City Bookshop in New Orleans while visiting friends; when I saw the title, I knew I had to purchase it. Two and a half days of speed reading later, I hungrily (yes, I did say that) await the second book, of which does not come out until September of 2016. Rotten, but what's a woman to do? Schwaner's writing and Hogan's illustrations make quite a nice mix of a story that is truly not intended for children, even though the main characters are children. I even wanted to skip to the end, just to find out if the "unexpected twist" occurred. No twist, yet the book did leave on a good enough cliffhanger and that's enough for me. 



For the past several years, I've been toying with the idea of creating a theatre troupe that will put on the plays of the Grand Guignol, Greek tragedies, and other plays that are outside of the norm. Now that I've read GUIGNOL, my theatre idea may soon become a reality. Imagine, if you will, attending a play in which copious blood flows down the stage and Death is a character. Sounds like a lovely time, right? 

Here is one of my favourite scenes ever in a film - the Theatre of Vampires in the film Interview with the Vampire

Beautiful darkness . . . . 




EX LIBRIS!


Saturday, December 5, 2015

Of Molly and Wintermute . . .

Reading William Gibson is very much a hit or miss with me. When I read IDORU for the first time, I was completely blown away by his style of writing and his cyberpunk world. I then moved to another of his books and felt quite lost in it, as though I was not intelligent enough to "get" his words. However, the scales have shifted again as I read and completed Neuromancer. Despite the slimness of the novel, do not let that fool you. As I told several friends the other day, reading William Gibson is like eating bowl after bowl of yummy stew mixed with concrete. You want to keep eating while knowing that you are slowing down with every bite.

Okay, that sounded good in my head. Not so much when typed out. What do you expect?

Anyway.



Neuromancer is the tale of Case, a once time hacker who gets in trouble for hacking into the wrong system and as punishment, has his abilities burned out of him. He becomes a washed up junkie with nowhere to go in the matrix. However, once he meets Molly, a dark woman with knives for nails and eyes you don't want to stare into, he accepts a job he literally can't refuse. The cyber world he used to consider as home will soon become something far stranger than he ever dreamed of. All in the name of Wintermute. Neuromancer is sheer dark genius.

A while ago, I asked one of my publishers if cyberpunk was still "relevant" in our society. How can we read a sub genre that may no longer have a place within a society that has surpassed it? And yet, dear readers, I feel that cyberpunk is still relevant. Although we may have our smart phones, televisions that can basically tell you what shows to watch, video games that talk to you in "real time", cyberpunk is the answer of "What if we fully immersed into our computer world and it became our master?" Thankfully, (at least I HOPE so), we have not begun to call our computers Master. Thankfully, we do not live in a regime of Deus ex Machina. Wintermute, as much as I loved reading "his" enigmatic character, has not become a reality to us.

As I have stated before so many times, I do enjoy my occasional delve into cyberpunk, be it music, films, art, or books. I love the slick feel of the "world" - shiny leather and plastics that glow under a sky the "colour of television, tuned to a dead channel".

By the way, if any of you ever run into Wintermute, tell "him" that I 'm still searching. Any time "he's" ready.

As a final note, here's the song Martenot Waves by Meat Beat Manifesto from the Animatrix soundtrack - LOVE this song.




Tuesday, November 24, 2015

To Kill For a Smoke . . .






Rather than spend tonight editing a novella, I instead sat wrapped in a blanket on the couch and watched a film that I had waited years to view. This past weekend was Memphis Comic and Fantasy Convention, a weekend filled with geek chic, ultimate cosplayers, and much fun. It was also the weekend when I finally talked with all around creative Memphian Mike McCarthy, the director of the film Cigarette Girl. After talking with him for several minutes, I purchased my copy of the film, to which he signed it and added ultra cool swag then informed me that the soundtrack was included in the DVD package. 



This film, set entirely in Memphis, tells the story of the world in the year 2035. Smoking has become such a stigma on society that cities now have "Smoking Sections", an attempt at keeping the nicotine addicts away from the rest of the city. Cigarette Girl, the heroine of the story, lives with her ailing grandmother in the Smoking Section and works at the big smoking club selling cigarettes. However, due to the death of her grandmother, losing her job, and getting evicted, Cigarette Girl goes from helpless addict to a gun toting kick ass. In short, she would kill for a smoke.



As I watched the film, I tried to figure out all of the Memphis locations of the Smoking Section and even grinned when I recognized several of the actors. The Smoking Section is a dark and dystopian Wonderland, filled with every desire readily available that comes with a heavy price. Due to smoking cigarettes, one feels trapped in the desolate area, yet all it takes to leave is one car or bus ride out, provided that the addiction has not completely overtaken you. The inhabitants of the Smoking Section live from day to day and they are not afraid to do whatever they need to do to get that next "fix". I even liked how the film portrayed Cigarette Girl's own "addiction" that was also her dark motivation. If you like cutting edge films with "doom jazz" (I just learned about this style today!) soundtracks, then Cigarette Girl is for you. 

Wouldn't you just kill for a smoke . . . . . 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Autumn King - A Mabon Side Story



When the clock read 4pm in my cubicle, I quickly shut down my laptop, said goodbye to my co-workers, and walked out of my employer's building for the last time. After years of stressful meetings, hovering micromanaging bosses, and a constant feeling of being overwhelmed, I decided to cut myself from the corporate world in search of something else. When I informed my boss that I was leaving, I expected her to yell and scream at me for doing such a thing. Instead, she read my handwritten letter twice, looked up at me from her chrome desk, and began to cry. Not the emotional response I had expected, yet my mind was made up. I got into my car, flung my now invalid badge in the backseat, and drove to the nearest coffee shop. My celebration would begin with a cup of Earl Grey tea, followed by delivered Chinese food and anime. I reached my favourite place, Cafe Noir, and made my way inside. The deep wine coloured drapes and black furniture greeted me as I walked up to the counter and grinned at my friend and cool barista, Lucy.
“Happy Friday,” she said with a black lipstick grin.
“I'm celebrating. Hook me up with an Earl Grey.”
“You got it!” She began making my drink on the side counter then, as she glanced and noticed that no one was behind me, asked, “So, what's with the celebration?”
“I left my job,” I said with a hint of fear in my voice. Did I really do the right thing? I quickly calmed myself down. Of course it was, I reminded myself. Besides, I had a new job as a full time author with a publishing company. A contract that consisted of a five book deal and a $50,000 advance. I could not refuse.
“No shit?” she asked with wide eyes. “Wait . . you got it, didn't you? Holding out on me!” She raced over to me and gave me a high five, of which I accepted with laughter. “Congratulations, Matthew!” I blushed a little as she handed me my cup and quickly turned away. Ever since Cafe Noir opened five years ago, I had a very bad yet consistent crush on Lucy. When I first met her and quickly asked for a coffee, I instantly fell for her Goth style that framed one of the nicest people I'd ever met in my life. Although I was not Goth per se, my life held aspects of the strange and unusual and I did tend to wear a lot of black. Now that I was no longer in the corporate world, I felt as though I could explore more of my creative side rather than just open it for weekends only. I made my way to a table then sat down and pulled out my latest read; soon, I was deep in the shadowy world of a violinist in touch with his Dark Side.


For some reason, I looked up and saw a man standing at the counter, trying to figure out what to order. He wore simple clothing and his thick and deep red hair pulled back into a ponytail hit the middle of his back. Lucy smiled at him as she assisted him with ordering something, yet I could not stop staring at him. At once, he turned and his bright green eyes met mine. For a brief second, we locked gazes and I noticed that his eyes sparkled. They actually fucking sparkled. He grinned at me and I returned one in kind, only to frown then return to my book. Shit, does this guy think I'm gay or something? I hunched down in my seat and reached for my cup of tea that was thankfully still warm. Soon, the guy left my mind and I was back in the disturbing world of the violinist.
“Hey, may I sit with you?” I glanced up from my book to see the guy from the counter now at my table with a black mug. He motioned to the empty chair and I nodded sure, hoping like hell he would not want to have a “conversation” with me. I was straight damn it, I thought to myself as I returned to my book. “Thank you.”
I glanced up again; I couldn't be rude to him. “No problem.”
“I'm Lucius.” He held out his hand.
“Matthew,” I replied as I took it in mine. His hand felt rough yet strong and I felt shame at my soft hands.
He pulled away then said, “Good book?” I glanced down at my read then at him. Small talk, I thought. Okay, here goes.
“Yeah. I picked it up the other day from my publisher.”
“Publisher? Nice!”
“Thanks. Yeah, I signed my contract with him a while ago and he informed me that since I was now part of the family, I could take any of their works for free. I saw this one,” I said as I picked it up and handed it to him, “and I couldn't resist. I'd heard about her before and actually read some of her other works. She's used to live here but just moved to New Orleans.”
“Such an awesome city,” said Lucius as he handed my book back. “I hadn't been there in quite some time.”
“Yeah. So anyway, that's why I'm reading this. It's been really good so far. Right up my alley with its dark fantasy and overall darkness.”
“Most people are afraid of the darkness, for it represents the unknown to them. Yet, the darkness only means the way to understand that which is unknown. To understand that it can't harm you once you have accepted it.”
“Right!” Suddenly, I found myself actually liking this guy. “So, what do you do?”
“Me?” He grinned then long sip from his mug. “I'm the Autumn King.” I stared at him with a blank look on my face then began to laugh. He grinned at me and his damn eyes sparkled again.
“Is that your pen name or something?”
“No.” He took another sip from his mug then set it down. “I am the Autumn King.” I stopped laughing as I searched for some joke, some hint of a prank that would leave me with good spirits. Instead, I stared at a face that betrayed nothing.
“The Autumn . . . King?”
“More like god, but yes.”
“So . . . you represent Autumn? Like, Fall? Halloween and all that shit?” I figured I would play along with him. Harmless crazy guy. Oh well.
“Not really, but I am the season itself. I also go by the name of Mabon.”
“Ah, right. So, you're Pagan, then? That's cool.”
He smiled. “No. I'm much older than that.” I laughed and wondered how I could get away from this guy, when he placed his hand on top of mine. Before I could say anything, I looked into his eyes and soon . . . .




Falling leaves all around me. Colours of gold, red, and orange. Still falling from immense trees that line the pathway deep in the forest. What forest is this?
The Forest of Origin. The One from which all others came from.
Am I dead?
No. Very much alive. Do you see the leaves?
Yes.
Come with me.
I feel myself walking, am I walking?, through the forest, that forest that the voice said was the Origin. I am not alone. Something is next to me, leading me gently down this path, this path of leaves that never stop falling. I want to cry.
Do not cry. This is a happy time.
I'm . . . afraid.
I am here with you. I want to show you.
I feel a hand on my back gently push me forward. I can no longer feel my feet. The falling leaves all around me. I suddenly hear voices. See figures ahead dressed in reds, golds, and oranges. They see me and smile. I am no longer afraid.
They wanted to meet you. Do not be afraid.
They come closer. Eyes in colours I never knew existed. Their skin glows. I want to live here forever.
You can.
What is this place?
They move closer and whisper words to me in a language I don't understand.
They speak the Tongue of the Olde. You have not Awakened yet.
What is this place?
Otherworld.
How do I get here?
They soon fade away, the leaves stop falling. I return to being afraid, yet I feel a hand on my back.




“Matthew.” It sounds so far away. “Matthew.” I see black tables and wine coloured drapes and . . . I blink and see Lucius still seated across from me. I blink again.
“Where?”
“Would you like some water?” I shook my head no then glared at him.
“Did you drug me?”
“No. You wanted to know.”
I believed him.



They say that those who feel a pull come here, he told me. Those who have questions that can not be answered in books or learned scholars. He told me of Mabon, a town named after him, and that my questions, whether I wanted to reveal them or not, would be answered.




A year later, I'm sitting on my porch at my new home, watching people walk through my neighbourhood. There are no other seasons here, only Autumn, and that's fine with me. I sold whatever I could, informed my publisher of my new address, and took Lucy out on one date before saying goodbye. I'm waiting for my girlfriend to show up tonight, a wonderful woman who works as a leasing manager of an apartment complex. She's also a mermaid, as she told me on our second date. I laughed at her, only to stop when she dove into the salt water pool behind her home. I watched skin turn to scales and told her that I loved her.

I still see Lucius from time to time and he tells me of his travels over cups of tea. The sparkle in his eyes no longer bothers me and he continues to compliment me on my changes. I smile and offer more tea. He offers me red leaves.





Saturday, November 7, 2015

The Artist's Studio - photography

This past Friday was the Broad Avenue Arts District Fall Art Walk and a grand time was had by all. Good music, art, and people supporting one of the many art districts in Memphis has always been an excellent mixture. Several of the folks from IONS: A Geek Gallery set up shop in the studio of the very talented artist (and friend) Adam Benet Shaw; after some time had passed, I asked Adam if I could take photos of his studio. He said yes and the rest is history. Many of Adam's pieces are at IONS and they are well worth the view and purchase!

I hope you enjoy the photos and thank you again, Adam! I hope your wife likes The Decembrists!

Oh yeah, I have been introduced to the band The Orange Mighty Trio; if you like quirky instrumental work that is good background music for reading, pursuing creative endeavours, or just because, give them a listen. In fact, I'm listening to them while writing this post. Quite quirky.






































Final note: all photos I have posted are for sale. Send an email to artgirl74@gmail.com if interested. Thanks!




Thursday, November 5, 2015

Goddess of Ravens



This is what happens when you listen to the Mediaeval Baebes on repeat:



The feathers fall.
Each step, black and sensual.
She sees me and points Her finger -
black and crooked - through the fog of the dawn.
I am Here, She calls to me
under Her eyes. I am Here.
Only those of whom She wishes to see will be seen.
The Raven flies over me and I am blessed.
She calls to the warriors
and tells them not to fear Death.
I stand behind Her and gather feathers
for those who are favoured.
The battle begins.
Goddess of Ravens, they cry,
Be With Us.
She sees, She hears.
Come to me, daughters of the Raven,
and live beyond.
Warriors, dressed in colours soon to be muddied and blessed with blood.
They pull out their swords.
She raises Her arms and the Ravens fly.
Follow, She tells them. Follow
and give them their glory.
She of the Ravens calls to me and I have no choice.
Sustain the disbelief and acknowledge.
The fog rolls once more.
The Fae stand tall, hair moving against no wind.
Rise up and take to battle.
They run, shouting the names of those who watch over them.
The battle begins and turns the Fate.
I stand behind Her and watch.
The feathers fall.

(photo taken at Grand Canyon, Arizona - Kimberly B. Richardson)

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Vision Thing - Short Story

Yesterday, I went to my optometrist's office to get my annual eye exam. As the lovely young student took care of my exam, a story began to unfold inside of me. When I told Stacy what I was going to do, she laughed and said that hopefully, it would not be because I had a bad exam with her. I laughed and said that in fact, the exam inspired me and that I would dedicate the story to her. Thank you, Stacy at Southern College of Optometry

I hope you enjoy.




I arrived at the optometrist's office with just enough time to sit down in the bland coloured waiting room and stretch my legs. Suddenly, an older man dressed in the standard “uniform” of an optometrist walked in and called my name. I smiled as I got up and followed him back into the exam room.
“I hope you weren't waiting long,” he said in a soft voice. I told him that I had not. As we walked, I noticed that he slouched a bit and that while his lab coat was extremely white, his brown pants looked to be rumpled and a bit faded. His pale skin seemed a bit sickly yet his thick head of brown hair with no grey proved otherwise. Ignoring any further rude thoughts about his appearance, we finally arrived in his small exam room. He asked me to take a seat in the large chair and so I did.
“Have you had any problems with your eyes?”
“No. I wear my glasses as much as I can.”
“Good, good.” He turned to his desk and began typing on his computer as I began to fidget. Although I had never experienced pain at an optometrist's office before, I was always rather sensitive about my eyes. My last optometrist of ten years suddenly got married and moved with his wonderful optometrist wife to New Mexico, leaving me and many other loving and loyal patients without their beloved doctor. After asking around, I finally found the name of Dr. David Finnegan with an office near my home. It seemed, through some internet digging, that he had been in the practice for over twenty years and so, I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt and see him. As that thought dissolve in my mind, I turned to face the optometrist, who still typed away on his computer. He finally nodded and smiled then returned his attention to me, showing off his bright green eyes. “So, what brings you to my little office?” His smile was so radiant that I gave him one of my own. So far, so good.
“Just here for an exam. My last optometrist got married and moved away.”
“Oh, who was that?”
“Dr. Jacobs.”
“Oh, yes,” he said as he leaned back in his chair, “Michael is such an awesome person. He and I used to go to bookstores on Sundays. He will be missed around here.” He then got up and proceeded to check his instruments and confirm that yes, I was blind and always would be.
“Will you need to dilate my pupils?”
“Oh no. I had your records sent to me from Dr. Jacobs' office. Since you had that done last year, you won't get it done this time around.” He then moved the massive phorotper in front of me and asked me to scoot forward. Soon, we began what I liked to call “better or worse” game. Is this one better or worse? What about now? Better or worse? I answered as best as I could and with every answer, he replied with either a nod or a grunt. He flipped the lenses and changed the letter cards, asking me to read the smallest print. Better or worse? Better or worse? Twenty minutes later, he pulled the phorotper from my face then dimmed the lights for the next part of the exam. He sat on a stool and moved rather close to my face with a bright light pen. “Going to check your pupils,” he said in a soft and almost warm voice. “Just follow my lead.” As he spoke, I could smell mint and a hint of lavender coming from his mouth. I followed as instructed while trying not to get distracted from his slow and steady breathing. He then grinned and pulled away to turn on the lights. As I stretched in the chair, he typed away on his computer then returned to me.
“Give it to me straight, Doc,” I said in a poor imitation of Bugs Bunny. “Am I still blind?”
“Oh no,” he said as he slowly turned to face me, his grin even wider than before, “I'd say you were rather perfect.” Before I could ask him if I needed a new pair of glasses, the lights suddenly went out. I gasped for a moment then relaxed.
“Dr. Finnegan, what happened to the lights?”
“You don't need such limitations.” I heard the rustling of fabric nearby and then I saw a darker form rise up. “I'm so glad.”
“Glad? Um, what-” I heard rustling again and suddenly, the dark form began to emit a strange soft glow. I put on my glasses and saw that it was Dr. Finnegan or at least, I thought it was him.
“I have searched long and wide for someone,” said a voice that sounded remotely like my optometrist, “and yet no one came close.” The glow grew brighter and brighter and as I made out just what caused the glow, I couldn't move. There stood my optometrist, completely naked and yet not. He stood with arms and legs stretched out and his slender body with no genitals was completely covered in eyes of every colour and shape. They blinked at different times as they glowed in different colours. I wanted to run out of the office yet could not.
“I have been hidden for too long,” said the creature in a low and sonorous voice. “Others have awakened, yet I still slept.”
“Awakened? What are you talking about?”
He took a step towards me and half of the eyes on his body stared right at me. “Do you know how agonizing it is to be a sleeping god? I slept for so long, living here and hiding. I slept because no one remembered me anymore. Everyone had either left or died.”
“Who's everyone?” As much as I wanted to run away, I also wanted to know more about this . . . thing.
“My followers. They died or found others gods to follow. No one wanted my gifts anymore. No one cared. We all slept, back then. We slept, dreaming of when IT would return. Now it has and I waited for so long to find someone.”
“Someone to do what? Good god, what ARE you talking about?” I wondered if it was a good idea to argue with a possibly mad deity, only to drop it. “Who are you?”
“I am the God of Sight,” it said as now all eyes focused on me and refused to blink. “And you shall be my First.”
“First? First what? Wait, are you going to kill me?” I suddenly found my legs again and was about to run for dear life. He raised his hand in peace and the eyes focused in all directions.
“I am sorry,” he said as he took another step towards me, “I did not mean to scare you. Because of your perfect sight, will you be my First? My human voice to represent me as when the other gods and goddesses wake up? There are still so many of us that are still sleeping.”
Before I could ask him more questions, I said yes. Somewhere deep inside of me, I knew. When I was younger, I loved reading mythology from different countries and stories of heroes of long ago. Yet, as I read them I wondered where they all went. Surely, I thought, they had to have gone someplace. They couldn't have been just stories.
“What do I do?”
He smiled and several of his eyes blinked rapidly. “Let me touch your eyes. It will not hurt, I promise.” 


I, the First to the God of Sight, am his Voice.

The times that are coming are not times of war and destruction, but rather of change.

A massive change upon the entire world.


Stand ready and watch.


Friday, October 16, 2015

It's Not Easy Being a Vampire in New Orleans.....



Many of you know the story of how I got into the Goth subculture, so I won't repeat it here. To me, it's more than wearing all black and wandering through graveyards (although I do those things!). It's a state of mind, an aesthetic of Life that many people want to ignore or just pretend that it doesn't exist. Or, some will claim that being Goth equates with being Satanic or evil. Not true.

In my college years in the 90s, I was a full on black Goth, complete with dyed hair, black or deep red lipstick, and the jaunts to the various Goth/Industrial clubs in Washington DC. I danced with my fellow brothers and sisters of the night to the music of Sisters of Mercy, Rosetta Stone, Switchblade Symphony, Sunshine Blind, and many others. When I discovered Industrial music and stomped my way through the dance floor, the Goth side still lingered inside of me and refused to go away. Even to this day, I have a full Goth playlist on my phone titled CLOVES (cheesy, I know), and I will still pick up issues of Gothic Beauty while thinking of Propaganda, Ghastly, Carpe Noctem, and Dark Realms. I still treasure my Johnny the Homicidal Maniac shirt. 

In short, I am a Goth. Get over it.

Now, with that being said, this brings me to my review of a book that wonderfully reminded me of my younger days in the Goth scene. Bloody October, a novel by my friend Kurt Amacker, is simply brilliant because it not only tells a fantastic story regarding vampires, but it also provides a grand backdrop of the 90s Goth scene in New Orleans. Jason Castaing is a journalist who is all about the booze, writing the occasional article to scrape him along, and frequenting the various clubs and bars that host the denizens of the night. However, after rescuing a man from a car accident, his world gets completely transformed into the shape of a vampire who is the real deal. John, a loner in New Orleans, seeks a friend who will help him with the outside world, and Jason is just that man. Unfortunately, not all is well, for secrets will be revealed, ritual murder will dare to show its ugly face, and blood will rule supreme in the Crescent City. Welcome to Bloody October.



Amacker does an excellent job in giving the readers enough of a taste of New Orleans to bring the city to life within the pages, regardless if you have ever visited the city or not. While reading the book, I felt as though Jason were the Goth Hunter S. Thompson, always on the move, always seeking that next drink, always wondering about John, and always trying to stay afloat. Jason is that kind of character that you hope will make the right choices and will forgive when he disappoints because somehow, you think that it was all for the best. John fit my description of a true vampire – scared, alone, and yet still dangerous. When Amacker reveals the “source” of John's vampirism, it made a lot of sense in this crazy world.

If you are looking for an excellent murder mystery set in New Orleans that just HAPPENS to have vampires in it, I highly recommend Bloody October. Since Amacker's great writing reminded me of my younger Goth days, I figured I would end this review with some of my favourite songs back in the day that I still enjoy. Thanks again, Kurt, and see you soon!

(Rosetta Stone - The Witch)


(Siouxsie and the Banshees - Cities in Dust)



(Concrete Blonde - The Vampire Song. LOVED dancing to this song!)

EX LIBRIS!