Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Page 99 -- The Mirrors of Fate: Out of The Past

Page 99 from The Mirrors of Fate: Out of the Past
A YA Paranormal Romance
By Cindi Lee
Reprinted with Permission. Copyright Cindi Lee, All Rights Reserved

Book Description: Her academy’s community service program brought them together. Time and tide drew them apart. From the day Maria met Emma, she knew the little girl was different. An orphaned seven-year-old whose unnatural ability to recreate the past was even more frightening than the story of her family’s death. Obligatory time at White Crest Hospital soon became treasured time as ninth grader Maria Jaghai became friends with the child who spoke of a living dead brother.

But with the next school year looming and her own less-than-ordinary problems to worry about, Maria Jaghai moved on with her life and didn’t look back upon the child whose name she allowed to become a distant memory. Now as a high school senior, the present is Maria's only concern as she desperately plots to prevent an arranged marriage her parents are planning before she graduates. A new and pleasant distraction comes in the form of a handsome student named Alan, but behind his smiles lie dark intent, and soon the truths about the forgotten little girl and the horrors that haunt the child’s family come crashing down upon her. Maria will quickly learn that you cannot forsake your friends; you cannot control your fate; and you cannot escape the ghosts of your past. To heal the past and secure the future, Maria must leave the world she knows for a world of magic, wars, and fate science.
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Instinct or maybe paranoia told her what he might say next. This was the tradition for most girls, was it not? Thanks but no thanks. You’re not the girl for me. Or heaven forbid it was something like, Look you’re a nice girl, but...

She mentally prepared herself for whatever it could be and envisioned barricading herself behind an imaginary red-brick wall of safety. Whatever he had to say, she wouldn’t let herself be disappointed. Prepare for the worst. Don’t let his words or bad news penetrate you. Be strong.

“What do you want to talk about?” she asked after the awkward silence.

“I don’t think I’m cut out for this school.”

Oh hallelujah! They were not the words she dreaded, but Maria still frowned. “What do you mean you’re not cut out for here?”

He lowered his head and stared at the floor. “I just don’t belong here. And soon, I’ll be leaving.”
A whirlwind of distress threatened to topple her over. Maria went up to him. “You’re leaving? Why? You’ve barely spent any time here. Is it the workload you can’t handle? Because I can help you...although my grades aren’t as spectacular as they could be.” She laughed a little to lighten the mood, but his demeanor remained the same. “I mean, I don’t think you should give up just because of something silly. Naturally you just started a new school and it takes time to adjust. I don’t know how they teach things up in Iceland, but come on, think about it. You shouldn’t just give up like that.”

This was more than her rationality talking; this was desperation making a plea. If he had given her this information any time at all before their date, she would’ve been able to handle his announcement and wished him the safest trip home possible. Instead, her willingness to help him was nothing more than a deep unwillingness to see him go. He couldn’t leave. Not now. Not after she found someone like him. He was someone who paid attention to her. Someone real who seemed to love her company. Someone who...she was developing deep feelings for.

“I really think you should reconsider,” Maria told him again.

“I can’t. I never planned to be here long from the start anyway. My time here is limited.”

Maria’s voice dropped considerably. “Oh. I see. You didn’t tell me that before.”

“Why do you think I didn’t?” he asked, finally turning his face to look at her for the first time since they began speaking. His gaze pricked her like a thorn meant to cause bleeding. “I didn’t tell you because you weren’t worth telling.”
--------
Cindi Lee, born Cindi-Lee Bernard, was born in 1986 on the island of Jamaica. Living on and off in the United States, she attended schools in both Jamaica and the US. Cindi Lee earned a Bachelors in English at the University of the West Indies where she also studied Japanese. Her taste in books ranges widely, enjoying works by Christine Feehan, Alfred Bester, Jamaica Kincaid, Graham Greene, Charles Dickens, Judith Guest and more. She draws her writing inspiration from all avenues, but especially television, movies, video games and Japanese anime. Cindi Lee enjoys photography, calls herself a fitness nut, and enjoys writing articles on a wide range of topics. Visit her at her author Website: http://www.CindiLee.com

If you would like The Podpeople to feature your Page 99, send us an email to: podpeep at gmail dot com with the subject line Page 99. Please include a link to your preferred e-commerce site, a cover jpeg, and paste your page 99 into the body of the email or attach it as a .TXT file. If your page 99 happens to be a chapter start or chapter end and does not contain a full page, you may use the full page before or after your page 99. One page only please.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Free Book Friday

Title: Rolling With The Punches
Author: Jamie Kerrick
Genre: GLBT/Dramedy
Publisher: Outskirts Press
Price: $14.95
Pages: 236
ISBN: 978-1432754471

Book Description: Rolling With The Punches is what Joey Doulgas's dad always told him when things got rough. He explained that the punches in life were something you always had to deal with. Joey grew to understand once he got older, but it was a life long lesson. We start with a young Joey feeling he was different due to his sexual feelings toward men. Living in a small town in Kentucky only made it worse. There were three things Joey didn't want to be:gay, alone, and alcoholic. He was all three. This is his story, which can only be described as a dramedy for gay recovering alcoholics and addicts because it's both funny and tragic. We follow him as he grows up, goes to summer stock in Virginia, to study in Europe, New York, California, and finally back home. At one time alcohol was his answer to life. But it took over his life and he had to ask for help. But Joey is a slow learner. It takes him nearly 21 years before he found Alcoholics Anonymous and a new way of life. But the punches continued to come. The only difference is, he became aware of how to handle them. Find out how in this entertaining novel. You'll find yourself rooting for him, while identifying with him as well.

My review can be found here: http://podpeep.blogspot.com/2010/11/review-rolling-with-punches.html

To Enter this month's contest, please leave a comment with a valid email address by Midnight Sunday May 29, 2011. Winner will be announced on Tuesday May 31st after the Holiday.

Good Luck and Happy Reading.

Review: On Gossamer Wings


Title: Drumlin Circus – On Gossamer Wings (Copperwood Press Double #1)
Author: Jeff Duntemann and James R. Strickland
Genre: science fiction
Price: $11.99 (paperback) $2.99 (Kindle)
Publisher: Copperwood Media, LLC
ISBN: 978-1932084016
Point of Sale: Amazon
Reviewed by: Chris Gerrib

From 1952 to 1973, Ace Books published their “Ace doubles” – two short science fiction novels bound back to back in the same volume. Each book had its own cover, upside-down from the other book. For various reasons, this process died out. Well, recently my friend Jeff Duntemann decided to revive the process via his self-publishing operation, Copperwood Press. Although they are physically one book (even the Kindle edition has both titles) I’ve decided to review the novels separately. Since I started with Jeff’s book, this review focuses on James Strickland’s novel On Gossamer Wings.

Gossamer Wings is set on the planet Valinor, in the same world as and just before the events of Drumlin Circus. Some 250 years prior, a human spaceship appeared in the system and suffered a massive malfunction. The colonists and crew evacuated to the surface of the Earthlike planet and set up housekeeping. Shortly after arriving, they discovered Thingmakers – alien devices that, when a 256 bit code was tapped or drummed on them, would make something. These tools, called “drumlins,” proved vital to the colonist’s survival.

At any rate, society on Valinor is very similar both technologically and culturally to that of 19th Century America. There are, however, several key differences. Specifically, there is an organization called the Bitspace Institute, which is dedicated to improving the levels of science and technology so that their spaceship can be repaired. The Bitspace Institute spends a lot of its time suppressing and denigrating the use of Thingmakers. Opposing them are groups called the Grangers and The Tears, consisting of people who are perfectly happy to use Thingmakers and stay on Valinor.

Natalie Bishop is an autistic girl, a teenager, who has not learned how to speak. She has, however, learned mathematics and science, and seems to have an innate ability to drum up whatever she wants from a Thingmaker. So, she’s been busy drumming up the parts needed for a flying machine, something that’s not been seen in Valinor’s skies since the last shuttle landed from orbit. The Bitspace Institute really doesn’t want to see Nat’s machine at all.

Further complicating matters, Tommy McQueen, Nat’s neighbor, has a crush on her. This crush is opposed by most of the locals, including Tommy’s bigger brother / bully Billy. Resolving these various conflicts drives On Gossamer Wings.

One of the really nice things about the Drumlin universe is that authors get to play with steampunk technology and 19th Century American society. Nat is unacceptable as Tommy’s wife largely because 19th Century women must cook and clean. She can’t (or won’t – some of the story is from her viewpoint) do that. The fact that she can build a powered aircraft is not only not relevant but is a strike against her.

I greatly enjoyed reading On Gossamer Wings, and I found it a great complement to Jeff’s Drumlin Circus. My request from both writers is “more, please!”

Rating: 10/10

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Thoughts on the Craft -- cannegardner

My thoughts on the craft this week relate directly to one of the Publishers Weekly review comments highlighted in Carol Hoenig’s article “Selling Cartoonish Characters with Wooden Dialogue.”

I wanted to speak to that this week simply because, for some writers, dialogue is one of those literary tar pits. We all know that characters must speak in order for them to become real; that is, of course, providing that they are not disabled in some way that would prevent them from speaking. That is a whole other issue, but having a character speak is much more complicated than putting something in quotes and following it up with the word: said. Yea, we could throw in a thousand adverbs to indicate the mood of the conversation, the tone and attitude of the speakers, and we can even change that said to something else, like shouted or whimpered … but that really won’t fix the problems most writers have with dialogue, and oftentimes, those easy tricks actually end up making the dialogue worse. So then what? Well, every writer needs to be a good listener and a little bit psychologist/sociologist. Why? Because we have to listen and understand, not only what people say, but also what they aren’t saying. That isn't always the same thing.

When I was a kid, I used to love contemplating humanity through art. I could stare at a painting for hours creating in my mind all the various conversation the subjects of the painting could be having with each other. The painting above by Bingham, for example, is titled “Fur Traders on the Missouri” and it dates to 1845. In reality, we don’t even need to know they are fur traders; we don’t need to know it’s the Missouri River, or that it’s 1845. We can imagine the day, the river, the solitude … how quiet it must be. We get all that from the description. But when you look at the two men, they are full of expression, not only in their faces, but in their body language as well. We might imagine that the man in the hat is the trader and that the young man might be his apprentice. The apprentice is rapt, having slung himself forward in a completely relaxed and attentive posture, as if the older man has been enthralling him with a tall tale from his youth. On the other hand, it might be a father and his devoted son. We can get all that from the action in the scene. Good dialogue encompasses the entire scene: the words and the action. There are always bits of action interspersed throughout the dialogue, gestures being made or not made, words being said and not said. Of course, too much detail again will stifle the flow of the dialogue and too little will render the conversation emotionless, so it all takes a bit of practice to get those beats right. We see and feel people when they speak to us, we don’t just hear them, and in this case, showing us the emotion is better than telling us what the characters are feeling. We have to let the reader experience the characters emotionally, intellectually, and physically.

There are no hard and fast rules for dialogue other than a writer should be honest and be true to your characters. Everything else really depends on the effect you are trying to create. Keep your dialogue poignant, use it to further your story and open up your characters. Pages of idle chitchat are boring. Show the readers just enough detail to make the scene feel realistic; don’t over define the action or emotions. Keep your beats in time with the ebb and flow of the conversation, every conversation has its mood. Don’t clutter your dialogue with conversational verbs or adverbs. Using is "said" is perfectly fine, and if the reader can determine the person speaking, then the dialogue tag is unnecessary and ends up being just something to trip over, ruining the flow. Be careful with this though. In first person narratives, a dialogue tag is important, especially if you combine one character's speach in the same paragraph with the first person narrator's thoughts. Be sure to punctuate your dialogue tags properly as well. If you don't know how, learn how, and do it right quick.

Now I write novellas and flash fiction in which the characters are generally struggling with deep emotional issues. Cognative Dissonance is always present in my stories, so I keep the dialogue strictly to those scenes where I want to reveal something about how the characters relate to each other or feel about themselves and the world they are often forced to inhabit. Sometimes I have a character articulate what they are feeling, and sometimes I don’t say anything at all, using just body language instead -- a beat. Sometimes -- rarely -- I use an adverb if it works, and sometimes I just use said or nothing at all. My characters also tend to be very crass when they are with each other but not in their work-a-day lives. I make sure my dialogue reflects that duality.

I have a few things I like to keep in mind when writing dialogue: Are the words your characters use -- their language and their emotions -- true to them? How often do you interrupt your dialogue, and does it fit the mood of the scene? Are your descriptive beats mundane like lighting a cigarette, looking out the window, or eating something, and do your characters do those things too often? And lastly, do your descriptive beats expose your character? Yes, we want that. Actually, dialogue is all about exposing the characters and exposing how they relate to each other. Let them be who they are and steer clear of clichés.

I was listening to a comedy show while washing dishes the other night, and in one line of dialogue I got all I needed to know about the speaker and the two other characters she was speaking to, without even seeing them. It went like this: “I get paid for what I do, and not in animal pelts like you two butt-fuckers.” That tells us a great deal about who she is and her perception of the other two people in the room. Then after watching the scene, I got all the body language and silent reflection I needed from the other two characters, who said nothing in the scene at all. That’s good stuff.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Page 99 -- Cyberhug.me

Page 99 From Cyberhug.me
A Science Fiction Adventure
By Allan R. Wallace
Reprinted with Permission: Copyright By Allan R. Wallace. All Rights Reserved.

Book Description: When evil resists a push, it doesn't push back, it immediately seeks to destroy. Boldness is required for first limiting and then overcoming evil.
Of course surviving is nice too.
------

"Do you know how the gang members are situated at ambush?"

"Quite simply. The leader and his strongest two fighters are hidden behind the fallen tree. Five or six other gang members are in hiding on either side of the road, just enough forward so they won't hit each other with cross fire. When I left there was a gangster on your right with an antique rifle. There was no evidence of its use in the village, so he may have little ammunition for it. There are two outlaws further in the woods to your right, holding children. These guards have sidearms, but they use clubs and whips when driving children."

"How many children, and how old are they?"

"Over twenty children, most ranging in age from about six to twelve years old, other children were killed, although we did rescue a few left for dead or hidden. Adult survivors were tortured trying to find any hidden cash. " The gaffer shakes a bit, but continues on.
"They did take one pretty five year old girl - my granddaughter."

"What of the ambusher's weapons?"

"They all have energy weapons, although most also carry knives or machetes. Some of the energy weapons may be broken, these are treated more like jewelry than weapons. There may be other outlaws about, we think they are headed toward a permanent camp. They don't rest often, or stay in one place long."

"If we engage the ambush, will your group be able to protect and free the children?"

"We are already as close as we can get, give us a distraction and we'll try. We may be old warriors and grandmas, but we will not hesitate. We've made plans each time the gang separates, hoping for a chance to attack successfully."

"Would you like to ride with us, we will go up and talk to these outlaws, if talk they will. Otherwise we will engage the ambush on their terms."

"Can you give me an hour to get back to my group? I'd like to join in freeing the children."
------
Allan R. Wallace (aka: BFuniv) Trains Visionaries
Contrariwise: I write things that annoy the obdurate.

Allan is author of cyberhug.me - hacktivist cyberwars for human rights. He has also crafted a financial insight web site, Speculation Rules; and a slew of shorter works.

If you would like The Podpeople to feature your Page 99, send us an email to: podpeep at gmail dot com with the subject line Page 99. Please include a link to your preferred e-commerce site, a cover jpeg, and paste your page 99 into the body of the email or attach it as a .TXT file. If your page 99 happens to be a chapter start or chapter end and does not contain a full page, you may use the full page before or after your page 99. One page only please.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Review: Drumlin Circus (Copperwood Press Double #1)


Title: Drumlin Circus – On Gossamer Wings (Copperwood Press Double #1)
Authors: Jeff Duntemann and James R. Strickland
Genre: science fiction
Price: $11.99 (paperback) $2.99 (Kindle)
Publisher: Copperwood Media, LLC
ISBN: 978-1932084016
Point of Sale: Amazon
Reviewed by: Chris Gerrib

From 1952 to 1973, Ace Books published their “Ace doubles” – two short science fiction novels bound back to back in the same volume. Each book had its own cover, upside-down from the other book. For various reasons, this process died out. Well, recently my friend Jeff Duntemann decided to revive the process via his self-publishing operation, Copperwood Press. Although they are physically one book (even the Kindle edition has both titles) I’ve decided to review the novels separately. Since I started with Jeff’s book, this review focuses on his novel Drumlin Circus.

Drumlin Circus is set on the planet Valinor. Some 250 years prior, a human spaceship appeared in the system and suffered a massive malfunction. The colonists and crew evacuated to the surface of the Earthlike planet and set up housekeeping. Shortly after arriving, they discovered Thingmakers – alien devices that, when a 256 bit code was tapped or drumed on them, would make something. These tools, called “drumlins,” proved vital to the colonist’s survival.

At any rate, society on Valinor is very similar both technologically and culturally to that of 19th Century America. There are, however, several key differences. Specifically, there is an organization called the Bitspace Institute, which is dedicated to improving the levels of science and technology so that their spaceship can be repaired. The Bitspace Institute spends a lot of its time suppressing and denigrating the use of Thingmakers. Opposing them are groups called the Grangers and The Tears, consisting of people who are perfectly happy to use Thingmakers and stay on Valinor.

In previous short stories by Jeff, the conflict between these groups and the frequently-quirky drumlin technology have resulted in fun-to-read stories with more than a whiff of Boys Own Adventure to them. In Drumlin Circus, Jeff goes darker. Here we discover that the Bitspace Institute has, quite literally, lifted whole pages from the Spanish Inquisition. Torture, kidnapping and assassination in the name of science are perfectly acceptable.

Don’t get me wrong – dark is okay, as is Boys Own Adventure – but it was a bit surprising to me. Having said that, I found Drumlin Circus very enjoyable and readable. Jeff has created a wonderful world to play in. It’s steampunkish yet willing to take a hard look at cultural assumptions both good and bad. Nor is everybody absolutely good or bad. Although the kidnapping of a woman starts the story off, by the end we wonder if the kidnap victim was entirely as innocent as she seemed. (I can’t be clearer than that without spoilers.)

I also found Jeff’s world a wonderful place to operate in. The drumlin technology has a consistent set of rules, and the 19th century manufacturing with 22nd century knowledge leads to some interesting problems. Lastly, Jeff is (I think) having fun with his narrator by inserting a woman from a much different era into the plot. The bottom line is that I thoroughly enjoyed Drumlin Circus, and my message to Jeff is “write faster!”


Rating: 10/10

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Friday, May 20, 2011

Two Thoughts On The Business of Publishing

Thought #1

Jeff Duntemann, chief cook and bottlewasher at Copperwood Press, had been publishing his output thru Lulu. Well, for various reasons, he's moved, releasing his latest novel via CreateSpace. He's also got a short story collection that he's trying to put out electronically, entitled Cold Hands and Other Stories. He's got some interesting thoughts on the process so far on his blog.

Thought #2

Many moons ago, I reviewed Charles Sheehan-Miles' novel Republic. After I reviewed his enjoyable work, I rather forgot about it. It turns out that Sheehan-Miles has been making a decent amount of income from the book. At least, he was, until Amazon changed their website. But for those that are interested, you can stop by his blog and hear what he's doing about it.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Thoughts on The Craft Expanded Redux -- cannegardner

The Vitruvian Narrator?

"Sometimes in conversation the sound of our own voice distracts us and misleads us into making assertions that in no way express our true opinions." -- Friedrich Nietzsche

This week I wanted to talk about narrative modes and narrative techniques, particularly Point of View.

When you look closely at DaVinci’s Vitruvian man, we can see that it is the image of one man and many different and alternative views of that same man. In narrative fiction, a story is often comprised of many different views, or rather, what I like to call angles of vision, if you will. Within those various angles of vision lies the interpretation of your story. Ever ask a couple of friends to retell an event they all witnessed? You’d be surprised how different the story is each time. Simply defined, this as what we call point of view -- person, technique, and perception – and the combination you choose to you will dramatically affect your so story, so choose wisely, you have a lot of options. Your story can be interpreted through the eyes of just one character or many, and in some cases, the interpretive narrator might not even be a character in the story at all – doesn’t have to be.

I have heard many a rotten dictate when it comes to handling POV, specifically who should and should not narrate a story and what they can and cannot do within that narrative mode. I hope that my essay today might dispel some of those outdated myths.

First off, literary point of view is comprised of three aspects:
  1. The Narrative POV: First Person, Second Person, or Third Person.
  2. The Narrative Technique or Voice: objective, subjective, stream of consciousness, dramatic, direct/indirect internal monologue, and omniscience, whether it be limited or not, etc., and
  3. Perception: The person(s) whose perspective is being captured within the narration and whether or not the person(s) is/are actually a character in the story.
These three elements can be used in a dizzying array of combinations, and each has its benefits and pitfalls, but there are no rules. I write Novellas. By their very nature, they tend to be intense character studies with the main character’s viewpoint, opinions, and personal philosophies being the underlying thrust of the story, so I tend to favor the more intimate narratives styles: doesn’t matter if it’s First or Third person as long as the technique and perspective is subjective and limited. For my flash fiction, I tend to use either First or Second person. I like the Second Person POV for Flash fiction because it adds a layer of creepiness I can’t necessarily get with First or Third.

By default, many First Person narratives are limited and subjective, focusing on the thoughts and feelings of the narrator, who is usually the main character in the story. In this sort of narrative, the other characters are actualized mostly through dramatic scenes and dialog. As a reader, I personally like the intimacy of a First person narrative, but it too has its pitfalls. Technique, in this case, makes all the difference between a reflective, self-aware character and a whinny or self-obsessed one. Therefore, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, just depends on your intent.

One hears all the time that FP narrators cannot know the thoughts and feelings of the other characters in the story, but that again is one of those rotten dictates, especially if the storytelling style uses the past tense and a reflective First Person voice. The story has already happened and the narrator, or the main character, is reliving the story and already knows its truths with respect to the other characters and events. Even in a present tense story, the FP narrator can make known the feelings of another character because humans are notoriously guilty of making assumptions, and in that case, the narrator would be an unreliable one, but still within the boundaries, nonetheless. FP narrators often interject their own diatribe into the narration, which would make them subjective, but they don’t always have to, making them objective. Third person narrators work well for epic works with lots of characters, as the narrator can be removed from the story and offer the objective, all knowing and all seeing view, or they can be an actual character within the story, offering their limited view as well as their subjective take on everything and everyone else.

We are also not restricted to one consistent point of view, as long as your transitions are deliberate or so subtle that the reader does not get confused. For example: Bram Stoker’s Dracula is a multiple First Person subjective narration, using letters, journal entries, newspaper articles, ship logs, etc. to allow each character to reflect on how the story affected them personally in their own language and their own emotive sense of style. The letters, journal entries, and articles are the demarcation lines to keep the narrative from getting confusing. In addition, nowhere do we have Dracula represented except through the eyes of the narrators. His entire character is nothing more than an idea presented through the eyes of all the other characters, each with their own interpretation of him. In Ellis’ American Psycho, we have again another brilliant First Person subjective narration, and for a brief moment in one chapter, the narrator/main character shifts to an out of body third person limited point of view, which added even more suspense and psychological creepiness to the story.

Third person narratives are oftentimes the all knowing, all seeing, objective translator of the story, but, they are also allowed to be subjective, interjecting their own viewpoint. If you should choose to go that route, you just need to make sure your narrator has his or her own distinct voice so that he or she does not become confused with the other characters in the story, that is, of course, providing that your third person narrator isn’t one of the characters.

In reality, point of view, and all the various techniques used in combination with it, is all about manipulating distance to create emotional effect and varying levels of intimacy. You have all of them at your disposal, in any combination that works well for your story. Use it all, but watch for the pitfalls. If you end up with pages and pages of italics indicating internal monologue, then maybe you need to reconsider mode and technique. If your narrative seems too detached or too personal, or if your narrator and characters all start sounding the same, then again, it’s time to rethink your POV.

In one of my novellas, The Splendor of Antiquity, my narrator is dead. He is relaying the volatile love story between the archaeologist who dug him up and her rebuffed lover. Most of the narrative is in Third Person omniscient, but, he shifts often to his own first person subjective voice, interjecting his own take on the events unfolding in the story, whether the events are related to him or not. So in essence, he may be all knowing and all seeing, but he is an affected narrator, a flawed human spirit; we can share intimate knowledge with him even though we know that his view is often not reliable.

Second Person is a bit trickier, and I reserve that narrative voice for my flash fiction. In this case, the use of the personal pronoun “You” brings the reader into the story as an actual character. Depending on the context, this can have positive and negative effects. The aim of a second person narration is to create an intense sense of intimacy and can often leave the reader feeling powerless. For deep psychological impact, it is also used to place the reader in unfamiliar and disturbing situations in order to subliminally explore the demarcation line between the internal “You” and “I.” However, some readers may find it too uncomfortable to read from this POV without feeling alienated from their own consciously identified sense of self, so be careful with it.

Art is all about experimentation. I’ve written entire stories in one POV only to realize during revision that I had chosen, not necessarily the wrong POV, but a POV that didn’t necessarily deliver the emotional impact I wanted for the story. I will then rewrite the first 4 or 5 chapters in a different POV and let my beta readers have a go at it to see which one the majority prefers. I never ask which one they like, I simply ask them how each POV made them feel. With that, I can determine which POV works best for what I am trying to say with the story. You just never know what will happen, how the entire tone of a story can change, and that’s half the fun of it.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Page 99 -- Galen's Kids

Page 99 from Galen's Kids
A College Retrospective
By Kevin Doyle
Reprinted with Permission: Copyright By Kevin Doyle. All Rights Reserved.

Book Description: College. Tests. Future. Career. My Life. Why am I here?

Galen’s Kids traces the story of Brian Murphy, a sophomore attending St.Barrows College, a small private college in Helena, Montana. Away from his mid-west roots, he tries to fit in as a pre-med student facing a withering academic curriculum. Out of sync with his classmates, the Montana environment, his roommate, and the mid 1970’s; Brian finds himself “in way over his head” amidst a crew of focused, hard charging collegians. Galen, the famous ancient physician — whose therapeutic traditions still influence today — brought to the medical discipline, curiosity, confidence and relentless study that consume so many of its students. Brian is one of those kids, faced with a collegial perspective he doesn’t get, a cultural state of mind that he doesn’t relate to, a personal confidence he doesn’t have and a Big Sky Outlook he doesn’t understand. He struggles to fit in. His search for his own identity is influenced by his support network: the wizened loner, the quintessential doctor-to-be, the psychological misfit, a couple of sociopaths and most importantly . . . Sandie. A pre-med student herself, she leads Brian on his journey and shows him his own path. He may not be pre-med material but he’s still a collegian. Maybe in the true liberal arts tradition, he could be a future college professor. Just choose, decide, focus, stay on track, be like us, Sandie hopes. But can he? Facing personal demons, temptations, downturns, short-term victories and distractions; he drifts from Sandie’s oversight and vision. But to where? Can he make it back? Join a modern pilgrim’s quest in a small town college, whipped along by his decisions and their consequences. College is the laboratory where we first heat the test tube of our lives, where we face the discovery of who we are and what we need and why we choose what we do. If you’ve sweated college, your future and how you fit in; you have to read Galen’s Kids.

------

After a two minute walk over to their wing, he could hear Dan’s cheap stereo playing a Marshall Tucker song. “Fire on the Mountain, Lightning in the Sky.” Except fire was pronounced “fahr.” What the hell is a “fahr?” ‘Why can’t these country western music stump jumpers pronounce “fire” correctly,’ he wondered? He peered into their room and saw they were both there with a couple of other “bio” types. There was strong evidence that drinking was occurring. Brian was offered a beer. Third one in less than ninety minutes. One of these days, he would learn “food first, then drinking.”

"Well, Brian, where ya been, buddy? Don’t believe you were in your dorm room last night.”

“What?”

Maybe if Brian feigns confusion he can get out of this.

“Well?”

“Well, what?” No, not looking good here.

“Didja spend the night with Sandie?”

Women accuse men of bragging too much about their bedroom exploits, perceived or real. There wasn’t anything to brag about in this situation. Sandie and Brian stripped down to appropriate nighttime garb and shared a few hours of sleep together. That was it. Oh yeah, and five minutes of reproductive organ exploration too. But who would believe him? Telling anybody anything would eventually get back to Sandie. This heavy relationship stuff was getting more complicated by the minute. Going to Sandie’s mom’s house for dinner was looking to be a good option at this point.

“Where I was or who I was with doesn’t matter.”

“You bagged her, didn’t you?”

“I didn’t bag anybody. Will you two depraved fuckheads shut up and knock it off?”

Brian was just pissed and embarrassed enough that Danny and Sam momentarily backed off. There would be another time to face their questioning and he could give them enough details to shut them up. But for now they’d have to let it go.

“OK Murphy, we’re cool, have another beer. What are you up to tonight?”

“I’m supposed to hook up with the still virginal Sandra and go out or something.”

“How do you know she’s a virgin? Maybe in high school or before you hooked up with her . . . some wild stuff happened?”

Brian was part surprised and embarrassed by Danny and Sam’s third degree. It was meant in good nature and they weren’t sure if Brian would ‘fess up’ anyway . . . . but it was part of the ‘if you run with the "pre-medders," you better come prepared to play’ mentality.

--------

Kevin Doyle was born in Portsmouth, Virginia and grew up in Indianapolis, Indiana. He attended three colleges before graduating from Indiana University as an English major. He joined the Navy in 1980, serving five years aboard ships. He was stationed in Yokosuka, Japan for three years, then received orders to San Diego. Taking time off from the active duty Navy, he went into the family´s desktop publishing business and spent eight years being a part of the entrepreneurial work ethic.

A new career opportunity arose and he went into commercial printing and rejoined the Navy as a reservist. He returned to his university town of Bloomington, Indiana, working at a commercial printing plant.

The sad events of "9/11" changed many lives and careers of Americans. Mr. Doyle returned to active duty in Mayport, Florida as an anti-terrorism officer for a sixteen ship naval surface group. Two and a half years later, he mobilized with US Central Command (USCENTCOM) in Tampa, FL. He was assigned to and provided staff support to the Combatant Commander´s Interagency Coordination Group. This experience allowed him a unique view into the overlapping world of military, law enforcement, intelligence and State Department activities in the war on terror.

Departing active duty and now working as a contractor in Force Flow Management, he remains at USCENTCOM, and commutes between Jacksonville, Florida and Tampa.

Overseas travel has included trips to Japan, Korea, Thailand, Philippines, Hong Kong, Italy, Puerto Rico, Germany and to the mid-east country of Qatar.

He is married to the former Elizabeth Evangelista of the Republic of the Philippines and is the father of an adult and teenage child, Alison and Ian. His hobbies include motorcycling, a firearms enthusiast, reading and being an inveterate "homebody."

The story, Galen´s Kids, has been under development for some years and is a fictional recollection of the times he spent at college in Montana. It looks at students, their pressures, attitudes and private college life in the mid 1970´s.

If you would like The Podpeople to feature your Page 99, send us an email to: podpeep at gmail dot com with the subject line Page 99. Please include a link to your preferred e-commerce site, a cover jpeg, and paste your page 99 into the body of the email or attach it as a .TXT file. If your page 99 happens to be a chapter start or chapter end and does not contain a full page, you may use the full page before or after your page 99. One page only please.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Thoughts on the Craft Expanded Redux -- cannegardner

Between subjective and objective there is no vital difference. Everything is illusive and more or less transparent. There are no solid facts to get hold of. Thus, in writing, even if my distortions and deformations be deliberate, they are not necessarily less near to the truth of things. The truth is in no way disturbed by the violent perturbations of the spirit.
Henry Miller

Subjective: Existing in the mind; belonging to the thinking subject rather than to the object of thought.

Objective: Of or pertaining to something that can be known, or to something that is an object or a part of an object; existing independent of thought or an observer as part of reality.

Today's quote by Miller intrigues me, as I think it is the perfect definition of art, whether that be a painting, or a story, or a poem, or a piece of music. The reality that each of us creates in our fiction is a perfect blend of the subjective and the objective, fantasy and reality. A story may have certain facts that ground it in reality, certain truths, but the characters’ interpretations of those truths may be distorted and deformed, thus rendering the objective illusive and transparent. That does not mean that they are any less the truth. Sometimes in a story, I think those distortions actually push us more towards the truth than the facts can. I often discuss this theory with other writers with respect to descriptive details.

The book cover displayed is from Roland Topor’s The Tenant, which I received in the mail the other day. The cover itself is an exercise in subjective vs. objective details. As far as the story, the writing is brilliant, and it beautifully manipulates the truth through the subjective and the objective. In this bit of narrative exposition, our protagonist is about to move away forever from the room that had been his home for many years:

“Even now he no longer really felt at home in this room. The uncertainty of his situation had intruded on his last days here. […] He had given up such concerns as cleaning and dusting, filing his papers, or even making his bed. The result had not been a wild state of disorder – his passions were too few to cause that – but an atmosphere of vacancy, of sudden cancelled departure.”

The Objective details ground us in the room: the bed, the papers, the dust. But the Subjective details, which are more prevalent, tell us what the room really looks like to our protagonist, and not only do we know what the room looks like, but we understand the character’s state of mind in that moment. We can see and feel the connection between the room and the man, and thus, we can know the man. So when deciding how much detail to add, one needs to focus on emotional intent and remember: The devil is in the details, and the truth lies in the subjective ones. If we hyper-focus on objective details, our characters become caricatures, one-dimensional beings against that scenic backdrop. The story of life, fiction or not, is about relating to the world around us. How a character relates to his/her world is the essence of a story. As a reader, I don’t necessarily want to know what the characters see; I want to know what they feel, or rather, how they feel about the world they inhabit. Why? Because I want to know if they feel like me. Simple as that. I want to relate in some way with the characters, and I can only do that through their subjective view of the world they live in.

Most of you know I have been devoted to strictly writing flash fiction of late, and let me say that writing in the short form like this has really tightened up the writing, I think. Flash fiction is an exercise in subjective detail, especially when you are writing in the abstract. In this case, every detail counts, metaphorically speaking. In my flash piece titled Persian Cat, published at Dustbin April 10, 2001, illustrates how I like to use subjective detail as metaphor:

You were on a New York subway train in the middle of the night...
It stank of sweat and urine, scattered newspapers stuck to the floor as a field of lilies in fuchsia flew past us off in the periphery. You could hear Pan skipping along the roof of the rail car, his hooves trot trot trotting as they tinned and plinked off the steel, idle dreams flitting away in the whirlwind of jolly notes from his flute. He played that song for a near-sighted girl, spilt milk dripping down her leg as she needfully explored the barren landscape that was her own flesh. She smiled at you -- I smiled at you -- and you, in the flickering fluorescent light, smiled back.


Every single detail I used was a metaphor for the past and present state of the two characters' romantic relationship with each other: the filthy vile state of the train; the beautiful lilies flying past them in the distance; the nearsighted girl; Pan and his melody of hope; even the spilt milk. I didn't need to come right out and tell the reader a single thing about their relationship; it's all in what the girl sees, and more importantly, how she sees it. How she sees herself in relation to her current predicament. Even in the long form, this approach can be used to the writer's advantage. It creates mood and an abstract level of intimacy that can affect a reader on a much more subliminal level than any objective detail ever could. I also found that the use of the Second Person Narrative POV just further intensified the intimacy I wanted to create. Here, the reader is not just a simple voyeur. Course, this is all just one person's artistic opinion, and for this story, it worked.


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Review: The Scent of Jade


Title: The Scent of Jade
Author: Dee DeTarsio
Genre: Adventure / Romance
Price: $2.99 (Kindle)
Publisher: Amazon
ASIN: B00466HRVY
Point of Sale: Amazon
Reviewed by: Chris Gerrib

Dee DeTarsio send an email in to POD People asking for somebody to review her novel The Scent of Jade, which she described as “chick lit with action.” Even though I’m not a typical “chick lit” kind of guy, I am an action guy, so I decided to take a flyer on her book. It was an interesting read.

The book is narrated in a very conversational tone by Julie Fraser, a California woman married to Colin, a scientist. Julie decides to surprise Colin by flying down to Costa Rica to join him at a convention he’s attending. He’s very surprised indeed – he gets caught very flagrante delicto at the foot of an altar in the jungle just outside the resort. This sets up an adventure involving guns, a jade statue and a few amazing coincidences.

Although I found the book enjoyable overall, I did have some issues. First, chapter 1 is all about Julie, having gotten lost, camping out in the jungle overnight. I found that start entirely too much in the middle of things. A more conventional start would have worked for me. Second, and this is very much a personal thing, the book is told in an extremely conversational tone. It’s very much like Julie is sitting across from you telling her story. This was (for me) entirely too much Julie, as I found the character a bit scatter-brained. However, this is a convention for “chick lit” so Your Mileage May Vary.

Having said all of that, the book was entertaining, and there was some real danger mixed in with the romance. It’s a bit conventional, cinematic in a movie-of-the-week sort of way, but then movies-of-the-week are popular and enjoyable.


Rating: 7/10

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Page 99 -- Rebirth

PAGE 99 from the second book in The Judas Syndrome series - Rebirth.
A Post-Apocalyptic Novel
By Mike Poeltl
Reprinted with Permission: Copyright By Mike Poeltl. All Rights Reserved.

Book Description: Although Mike Poeltl never intended for The Judas Syndrome to be the first of a series, he caved in to reader demand in the spring of 2010 and began working on Rebirth, a continuation of the popular post-apocalyptic tale that one Facebook reviewer called “a stark and uncompromising vision of the future of our world.”

Narrated by Joel’s girlfriend Sara, Rebirth is a story of survival,betrayal, and hope. After giving birth to their son, whose evident purpose is to fulfill the destiny that Joel had forsaken, Sara realizes that her home is no longer a haven.

Menaced by a power-obsessed Earl and frightened by the deterioration of a once-tight group of comrades, she flees north- into a nihilistic world inhabited by dangerous nomads, new friends, and old enemies.

----

“This is a good reading.” Carol stood and moved through the room towards where Leif lay nestled on my lap, oblivious to all of the energy being generated in determining his future. “I would like to perform a séance with the boy. There is a great deal of spiritual energy surrounding him. The others are busy.”

“What would a séance do?” I was nervous about this next step into the unknown. A séance was like the Ouija board to me, a dark, misunderstood magic of sorts, talking to the dead and all that.

“I will be better able to speak with the boy’s guides, to know what they know.”

“I don’t know…”

“It’s up to you of course, Sara, but it is in the boy’s best interest that I perform a séance. The more we know, the more guidance we can offer you.”

“Okay, if you truly believe it’s in Leif’s best interest, I’ll consider it.”

“Enough for tonight,” Beth interrupted. “We have enough now to meditate on. Give the girl time to decide.” With that the women retreated to their cots.

*****

The two days following Leif’s Tarot reading gave me plenty to think about. Leif’s life plan was beginning to take shape and with it, mine. As I rummaged through the cold room, another fifteen steps below the bunker, Carol approached me.

“Have you made a decision as to whether you’d like for me to speak to Leif’s guide?”

“I think so.”

“Good, Sara. Good. I have a strong feeling this guide can help you.”

“How can you know that?”

“My own guide has warned me against channeling this spirit.”

“Then maybe you shouldn’t, Carol.”

“Perhaps.” She tilted her head to the left and looked down timidly.

“But it is because of my guide’s warning that I feel I must try.”

“If you’re sure.”

She smiled and nodded. “I’ll prepare for the séance. After dinner, we’ll begin.”

----

Born in Toronto, Ontario, Michael Poeltl earned his diploma in Interpretive Illustration and began a career in the field while educating himself on the art of writing. Writing quickly became his passion and after completing several shorts, he undertook his recently published work, The Judas Syndrome.

Drawn to the dark places of the mind, Poeltl often works through his own demons when putting words to paper. When the author lives the words he writes, experiencing each moment as it passes, it becomes more than a story,it becomes tangible, something the astute reader will pick up on.

And as with the Yin and Yang, he can appreciate the good in people, and the hope, and the dreams, and the work that is put into building a better life. This too can be found in both his writings, and in his own life. An example of that would be his membership in the Free Masons, where the motto is, "Taking a good man, and making him better."

Poeltl lives in Ontario, Canada with his family, wife Lisa, daughter Tatum and dog Jackson, and was Voted Best Writer/Author for 2010 by View Magazine: A weekly alternative newspaper reaching over 1 million potential voters/viewers. Visit him at: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2972105.Michael_Poeltl

If you would like The Podpeople to feature your Page 99, send us an email to: podpeep at gmail dot com with the subject line Page 99. Please include a link to your preferred e-commerce site, a cover jpeg, and paste your page 99 into the body of the email or attach it as a .TXT file. If your page 99 happens to be a chapter start or chapter end and does not contain a full page, you may use the full page before or after your page 99. One page only please.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Thoughts on The Craft -- cannegardner

“You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write.” –Saul Bellow, Nobel Price in Literature 1976.

I counter that quote with a tale/myth from the life of James Joyce: One day he managed to write seven words, and while that was good for him, at least, he didn’t know what order they went in.

We have all felt humbled by the juxtaposition of elation and frustration when it comes to writing and editing. Some days I am lucky if I even get seven words down. Though since I wrote this post originally, two years ago, much has changed. I could go for days only scratching out a sentence or two, but since I shifted my focus to the abstract flash fiction I have been writing of late, I am now writing more prolifically then I used to, sometimes to the tune of two or three flash pieces a day. This has helped me immensely during the revision/editing process of my novella length pieces.

Even so, I still love waking up in the middle of the night with what I call the afterburst, and by that I mean when my mind has been so consumed with a bit of narrative or a scene I just wrote during the day that a brilliant burst of clarity comes to me during my sleep. This happens often for me, and while I normally never touch the odd bits and pieces of prose or poetry that are conceived in that state, it doesn’t mean I should write in a perpetual fugue state.

Dreaming is where vision is given life. Editing is where the alchemy happens.

The editor’s desk is the dank fume-laden laboratory where we can take all our knowledge of literary technique and transform those magnificent tidbits of virtual nuance and metaphor into something cohesive. It’s where we transform the story into truth. For example, I was recently editing my novella And Death Dreamt Us All, and something just didn’t feel right to me. I had hit a wall in the first chapter. So I thought on it, reworked it, added more, rearranged it … etc, ad nausea, and still – it didn’t feel right. Then later that evening, frustrated beyond reason, I was watching the movie Girl with the Pearl Earring, which is about one of my favorite painters Johannes Vermeer, and the scene in particular had to do with the painting above. In the original painting, according to the movie, there was a chair in front of the woman. In the movie, the maid subsequently moved the chair out of the scene. He later repainted the scene with the chair removed. When Vermeer asked her why she had moved it, she said, “The woman looked trapped.” In that moment, something hit my subconscious, and I realized, yet again, what wasn’t right about my start: My intent was trapped behind unnecessary character monologue that would work better later in the book, after something actually happened, and so I cut and then rearranged the chapters before and after. Now it reads right, to me: The idea I wanted to hit the readers with is more subtle. Left for a quieter moment, my intent has become clearer. So in my opinion, the true brilliance of a story, any story, seems to originate from the subconscious mind or the dream state, where creativity lives unbound, but when we edit, we need to be consciously aware of our intent. Vermeer was painting from the subconscious emotion he felt, but his maid, by her very nature, was able to see the clutter and the apparent misplacement of the details.


Cheryl Anne Gardner

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Review: The Chosen

Title: The Chosen
Author: John G Hartness
Genre: Religious Urban Fantasy/Dark Humor
Publisher: Createspace
Price: $7.99 Kindle Edition 4.95
Pages: 206
ISBN: 978-1453770627
Point of Sale: Amazon.com
Reviewed By: Cheryl Anne Gardner

Our story opens at a Las Vegas casino, specifically at the gambling tables, where we find Lucky (Lucifer) and Big A having at a game of blackjack. Big A or rather, Adam -- yes that Adam -- and Lucky are trying to do a little bit o' the smash and grab at the tables, Lucky counting cards, and Big A trying to pass off 25 year-old chips from a long-demolished casino. This, of course, doesn't work. However, Adam and Lucifer's run-in at the casino is anything but coincidence, and Adam knows it. In days to come, an old girlfriend will be thrust back into his life along with a child he didn’t know he had.

This book reminded me of the movie Dogma. It's style and campy flavor reminiscent of the pulp-fiction religious satire you'll find in that film. The physical events in the book are relatively mundane. It’s a road trip story filled with bars, diners, strip clubs, and casinos. Your disenchanted group of derelicts on a quest type story. Pretty standard fare, no dead bodies, zombies, explosions, glowing briefcases, or anything interesting like that, but the subtle moments along the way, the actual conversations, which are primarily used for exposition, make it a fun read.

It was the mid-eighties and I’d gotten pretty tired of the New York music scene, what with all the pretty boys and androgyny going around. I’ve never looked very good in neon clothes, and while I didn’t mind the earrings, it’s always been important to me to be able to tell the boys from the girls. So I headed to the one place where New Wave had not gotten much of a foothold: Texas.

And of course this one from Michael when Adam asks when he became "British."

“Just now. It’s a pretentious decade and I can’t possibly fit in without an appropriately posh accent.”

And there were some very man-tastic sentimental moments, like when Adam describes his attraction to Eve.

"She laughed whenever she felt like laughing, and was so moved at the beauty of the sunset that she wept, big tears rolling down her cheeks to nestle in the hollow of her throat and collarbone while she grinned a grin that kept the sun up a couple extra minutes just to bask in her light.

So yeah, we fell in love. I guess we invented it, at least among mortals. The Seraphim had a whole different level of love working, what with their nigh-infinite intellect and capacity for emotion and all. But we fell in love, and we had babies, and then we had an unfortunate interaction with a certain Seraph with ambition that had managed to lose a celestial corporate takeover bid and develop a reputation as the most disgruntled of employees. You all know how that turned out. Then there was the whole Cain inventing murder episode, and things spiraled out of control between Eve and I, and that all culminated in a certain number of butterflies in my stomach as I sat in a relatively disgusting bar in New Orleans watching my ultimate first wife take her top off for dollar bills."

The book raises some interesting religious questions, albeit through some very gritty skepticism. Some overly sensitive readers might find themselves offended by the fact that Adam is a basic low-life drifter, that Cain is still a psychotic bad-ass, and that Eve works at a strip club. Oh how far the fallen have fallen. Not to mention that Archangel Michael is a fast-talking double-dealing troublemaker who makes Lucky Lucifer seem like a saint, which he is, sort of, but no spoilers here. In general, the entire cast of characters is what you would expect in a spaghetti western. Everyone is sarcastic and everyone has a few one-liners. It's not the funniest dark religious comedy I have ever experienced, but the plot is interesting. I did like the fact that Eve was set-up in the garden and that God, The Father, was the one who set her up, not Satan, and knowing this, had allowed her to carry that guilt for an eternity until she drives herself mad. God, The Father, comes off here like a manipulative dick and Archangel Michael as nothing more than a toady, like is brother seraphim Lucifer. This is the story of the Bible, in a sense, if the Lone Gunmen had been the scribes. We've got a lot if conspiracy theory here and a lot of conceptual religious scrutiny, scrutiny that makes you think about shit for minute or two, especially when Adam calls the Bible "a novel." Yes, it's also the kind of religious scrutiny that pisses people off, so again, this isn't a book for sensitive religious types.

Despite quite a bit of editorial awkwardness, this book was an enjoyable read from start to finish. There's not a whole lot of action here, but the drunken philosophical debates, the sarcastic monologues directed at the reader, and all the snappy one-liners move the story along at a nice pace. The chapters are very short, which makes sense because the book actually started out as a serial on Hartness' website. The brevity of the chapters, however, really made the editorial issues stand out, and there were a lot of editorial issues: fiddly bits that a decent proofreader should have caught, issues that readers will notice. The biggest problem area for me was with the dialog. There were strange dialog tags, incorrect punctuation before the tags, and some areas where dialog tags were missing altogether, which made me have to go back and reread portions to figure out who was actually speaking. This was particularly difficult when the dialog of one character was combined in the same paragraph with the narrative voice of another. Some readers might also find the dialog over-expository, resulting in a lot of sitting-around talking type situations at the expense of the plot. The plot being the group's quest to find some general nobody, who, after thousands of years and millions of other people, has been randomly chosen to make another "Great Choice" thus determining the fate of humanity. Tall order. The group has to trek across the country to find this modern nibble head and make sure he/she makes the right choice, whatever that might be, and save humanity. By half-way through the story, the merry band of immortal fucktards has just barely managed to stop hating on each other long enough to get the plot in gear: the merry band of players being Adam, Michael, Adam's first son Cain and his last daughter Emily, his ex-wife Eve, and his ex-girlfriend Myra. Lucifer sets the plot in motion and then you don't see him again until midway through the story where he appears "just to talk" for only about a minute, but don't worry, he takes center stage during the choice making session, and he ain't the bad guy.

So is there a point to be made here? Sure. There's a lot of "being who you are" metaphors, some loosely thrown about ten commandment type stuff, and a few overt stabs at the accuracy of the Bible such as this when Adam tells the Chosen one that he is not Christian:

“Junior. Take a deep breath. Now let’s remember, I am Old Testament. I predate Christianity by about 50 millennia, give or take a couple thousand years. I met the Carpenter. The Nazarene was a good kid, but he wasn’t the first or the last to speak that speech, so I’m not inclined to follow some hippie kid just because he says the Father loves us all. I know the true face of my Father’s love, and I know I don’t need an intermediary to get me there. All I need to do to talk to God is talk to him. I don’t need to do it just on Sundays, or just in rooms with a lotta stained glass, or just through a mouthpiece. Now I liked the Carpenter. He did some good things, and he had a fantastic speaking voice. But I’m a little more old school in my religion. A little more direct, if you get my drift.”

Take it for what it is. Overall, the story has a great concept. Eve made her choice in the Garden so that Adam wouldn't have to make one, ever, or so she thought, but that deal was a lie, or rather, a misdirection, and now Adam will have to make his own choice, which is all tangled together with the choice of the "other." There is a pulp flavor to the comedy, and all the players are gritty wisecracking wannabe gangstas. Biblical gangstas that is. So if you don't mind your Christianity dressed in black -- a black velvet thong and cowboy boots -- and you don't mind your saviors tattooed and pierced like a pin-cushion, not to mention all the bar brawls and Angels who drink, swear, and muck things up, then you will love this story. I sure did. It's a snarky satirical Sunday school adventure for mature adults, so if you weren’t even the least offended by the movie Dogma, then you will love this book.

7.5/10

Sunday, May 01, 2011