Friday, December 27, 2013

The shaking voice or the scream inside?

“Always speak the truth, even if your voice shakes.”

I’ve seen this meme going around and it struck me. I’ve felt my voice shake a number of times when I had to express my deeper feelings or beliefs, confront an issue, or simply offer something new about myself to another. It made me think about what it is to communicate, what risks are involved, and why people are so often bad at communicating.

It’s possible the meme is paraphrasing social activist Maggie Kuhn’s quote: “Speak your mind even if your voice shakes.” She talked about how hard it is to stand up for what you believe in, especially against assured dissension and possible hatred.

Is this what people face every day in their social lives and in their closer relationships? Critique, judgment, dissension, dislike, loss? Do we hold our thoughts for fear of punishment and loss?

Scenario: Spouse 1 is unhappy in a part of the marriage. Unspoken and unaddressed, the unhappiness moves from disappointment to discouragement and often to bitter resentment. Spouse 1 begins to believe Spouse 2 should know, should understand, should fix the problem that hasn’t been spoken. Blame shifts from self to other. Silence is justified. It even becomes a form of punishment. Spouse 2 feels the resentment and attaches it to different issues, unrelated, both blind to the original need.

Scenario: Spouse 1 is unhappy in a part of the marriage. Despite fear of hurting Spouse 2’s feelings, despite the potential for an argument, Spouse 1 relates the problem to Spouse 2. Spouse 2 listens but hears only “failure” and “inadequacy.” Spouse 2 is hurt and wants to defend intentions and actions. Spouse 2 thinks, with all the sacrifices and compromises of marriage already, there should be no complaints. Resentment builds. Spouse 2 thinks if Spouse 1 has such complaints, perhaps Spouse 1 should find something better.  Spouse 2 bristles and retreats and punishes Spouse 1 with cold silence. The original need remains unaddressed.

These same problems can occur in friendships or work relationships. Communication makes people vulnerable, both the speaker and the listener. Psychologists recommend using “I” statements when raising an issue between two people. Keeping the focus on what one’s feeling instead of what the other has done. “I was feeling neglected because …” “I felt unsure about your reaction in the meeting…” “I felt angry when you…and then realized I was hurt…” “When you said …, I thought you might mean …”

It’s scary. The voice shakes. Something is on the line: Healing or breaking something further. Exposing one’s insecurity or one’s weakness. Saying I made a mistake or saying that you did. Hurting oneself, hurting another. It’s a tough business being honest. Sometimes the heart clenches, sometimes the body quivers.
Does keeping a relationship strong, whether in love or in friendship or in the workplace, require a kind of bravery? Maybe sometimes. Like admitting when you’re wrong, like admitting when you’re sad, like expressing your essential needs—like asking another if they’re willing to help you through.

We need to speak so people can know, while encouraging the sympathetic ear that will listen. A tough business. Sometimes silence seems easier, but oh then, how loud the voice screams in our heads.  

Patricia is author of the vampire novel Beside the Darker Shore. 
Five-Star Review of Beside the Darker Shore 
Five-Star Review of Beside the Darker Shore 

Friday, September 6, 2013

"Haunting, cutting edge" vampire novel -- five star review

Tom Olbert gives a five-star-review to the vampire novel Beside the Darker Shore.

"Esposito has a vivid and delicious power of imagery reminiscent of Ray Bradbury; every dewdrop sliding off every blade of grass and the crackle of every autumn leaf resonates in a narrative that flows like sweet, dark wine. The story takes us from the streets, harbor-side parks and alleyways of Boston to the villas and forests of Spain in a tale of political ambition, moral conflict, love and insatiable animal passion."

"Complex and unpredictable, this one will keep you guessing, like an on-going nightmare landscape of sultry silver moonlight. Go buy this one."

Read the full review on Goodreads!

[Author's note: The review is so beautifully written, and I've found the author has many of his own works out. You might like to check those out too! I know I'm going to.]

Thursday, August 29, 2013

What's a little fire to immortal skin?

Excerpt from the vampire novel Beside the Darker Shore, as the immortal human Stephen succumbs to experiments to see why his skin, and not vampires' can withstand sunlight:

“They said there’d be anesthesia.” Stephen pulled his arm from Elena’s grip.   

“Do vampires have anesthesia?” She took his arm again. “You heal.”   

“No.” He looked to the humans standing there; he’d already forgotten their names, but one held a propane torch. “Jesus,” he whispered, and the petite woman in blue touched his arm gently.   

“Elena, the pain was extraordinary. We saw—”   

“Five minutes. We’ll anesthetize him after five minutes. Can you handle that, Salando?”   

Fire. No, he didn’t think he could. He didn’t want to. His mouth was dry and his heart tripped erratically. The room was long and narrow, tiled in russet orange, browns, and blues. He’d had dinner here with Arturo one week ago, and now it had a lab table with test tubes and monitors.   

He had monitors wired to the dots on his chest, his temple. They’d kept him from the mortal scientists in Boston, yet here he was once again succumbing to Elena’s will. Why? Because he had to believe there were options, that he could be made vampire, if David wasn’t going to ease his constant need.  

He stared at her as she took his arm again. “Will you find the gene? The DNA or whatever you need to make or reverse vampires?”  

“That depends on how much you let me do. First I want skin grafts. The torch contains a mix of hydrogen and helium, as well. Like the flamethrowers in Boston. Mimicking the sun, not just fire.”    

He nodded. “You’ll have to strap me down or something.” The silver-haired man flapped gray cloth restraints, and came around the table. Stephen lay down as he put a hand on his shoulder.  

“I can’t guarantee...” Stephen started, but what could he say? I’m an animal with no control? I have power I don’t understand? I’m a ridiculous puppet subject to your will? “With the pain, I don’t know what I might make you do.”  

At that, Elena pulled her attention from the monitor she was adjusting. “Light the torch,” she told the woman.  

The woman hesitated. “I can’t. I told you I couldn’t do this.”  

“You don’t have to. Just light it. I want to see what his fear will do.” She looked hard at Stephen. “You can train it. It’s night; there’ll be no having me run out into the sunlight.”  

“I could have her turn the torch on you,” he said.  

Both mortals stepped back. Had he sent the suggestion already? Was it in their minds? Elena’s hands were suspended midair, halted in whatever she was about to do. “You can tame it. We’ll start slowly. When you feel the pain…” She began unbuttoning his shirt, cool white fingers tracing from chest to stomach.  

“When you feel the pain…” Her words were breathy, her eyes lost a moment following the trail of her fingers over him. “You give off more heat than most, a kind of static,” she said, then she put her face down to his chest, breathing his skin, “and copper.” Her tongue was a knife on his stomach.  

“I lose any ability I might have during bloodletting,” he said. “If you draw blood, I won’t be able to stop you. It’s stronger.”  

Her face came up to his, the fluorescent electricity of her skin, her pinkish eyes. He didn’t want her, but he needed her.  

She snatched the torch from the woman and handed it to the silver-haired man. Then she handed a razor-like tool to him. “After it’s peeled, mesh it. We’re scraping every ten seconds. I want three inches minimum of burn for the samples, and three inches clean.”  

She turned to the woman. “Can you handle securing the samples?” The woman unrolled a strip of mesh beside Stephen’s leg. “I’ll be drawing blood, you understand. To keep him subdued. You need to do this.”  

The man nodded, and Stephen felt a cool tear slip down to his ear. What was David doing? What would he do if he were here? Elena rolled Stephen’s sleeve up and tapped on his vein.  

“Ready?” She brought his arm to her mouth.  

He could make her stop, he told himself, but already the electric touch of her teeth was on his skin. He needed this. He needed this and wanted one person, one person…  

She bit. The torch popped and hissed to flame. For a minute, he felt the mortal man’s hands on his leg, a gentle caress, and then he was torn. The surging ecstasy of the draw made him arch, but the restraints held him, and then came the pain. 

Five-star review of Beside the Darker Shore 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Watching the World Fall in Love—with Train Company

 Eavesdropping can sometimes lead to beautiful things. I was in a Starbucks, and the boisterous baristas were talking about a band, a local band I’d never heard of. I like music; I like to support local artists. I thought I’d go home and check out this band called Train Company. Odd name. I expected something maybe fun, a young group feeling their way into music, what we expect at a local level. I got something entirely different. 

Their website offered the entire album for play. I played it. I played it again. I bought it and played it every day for the next eight months. Call me obsessed: I fell in love. A day doesn’t go by that I don’t listen to them.

I’d love to define Train Company with a neat label that encompasses their sound, but it’s impossible. Blues rock, yes they are that. Indie rock, that too. Jazzy nightclub seduction, yes. Hard, anthemic rock, progressive rock, they have these too. They are a rhythm even non-dancers can’t resist, a contagious joy, with sex appeal that ranges from raw lust to sweet love. This band brings you life.

I had the lucky pleasure to see them live in a small, local venue, The Office in Batavia, IL. If I loved their studio sound, my love doubled on seeing them live. This band meshes. Young and energetic and in it for love, they play together like seasoned veterans. I was astounded. 

Train Company is a band that understands layers, the power of subtle nuance. They know just when to hold back and when to pull out all stops and crash together. They are five guys feeding off each other’s mood and direction, building intricately as keyboardist Sam Wyatt taps tempos and crescendos from elegant to joyfully wild, as saxophonist Mark Alletag blows svelte seduction or a playful bounce, as bassist Mike DeWitt tantalizes with rhythms that fix in our stomachs, as drummer Rob Lejman controls us with a steady beating or with expert elation rolls everything out. The band builds tension as they hold the song together, and singer/guitarist John Zozzaro buoyed on it all, responds to what he feels, tickling up a melody, luring us around corners, seducing us with a bluesy lust, or pounding a dynamic rhythm that lifts us off our feet.

The music drives forward, until suddenly all those separate sounds coalesce. The instruments quicken, each raising the other, and suddenly a wash of sound envelops the room. Zozzaro wails with a voice of silken seduction, rich and smooth, and guttural when need be. You’ve no choice but to relinquish, to give in to the ecstasy of release.

In this tiny venue, Train Company played all my favorites (do I have any that aren’t favorites?), and I don’t even know how many times the band hit transcendence. Always in “City Down by the Shoreline,” which is a fine example of their building mesh of sound, and the live version of “Other Side” caused the universe to crash and whirl together. In the bluesy, beautiful “Change,” guitars and lyrics built to climactic release, as Zozzaro sang, “Doesn’t matter anyway, ‘cause we’re going whether or not …” and the audience relinquished to his own beautiful succumbing to the life he depicts. A magnetic performer, Zozzaro’s songs sometimes bubble up inside us, making the audience smile. “Bannister” had the room dancing, the sweetest sexy song I’ve heard in a long time, while “Step to Me” brought out the low and dirty, a band at work together to create raw, sensuous need.

I hadn’t realized how hot and sexy Train Company’s music is because it’s also filled with light, boisterous living. I don’t dance, but hearing them live, my body couldn’t resist their rhythmic undulations. “Still Can Feel the Heat” and “Myself in Two” blended assertion and nonchalance with intriguing appeal. “Leavin’” felt like the aftermath of a final night of sex and the thrill of new adventure. “October” was a beautiful testament to the band’s fearless experimentation and talent. They play with the history of rock in their genes, yet know how to make it new.

They are a band that makes songs come alive. You see the sound taking them, how as they play along with each other, their stances alter, pulling them higher, as if the music is coming up through the floor, taking over, transporting them. Witnessing that kind of art is the greatest pleasure: immersion, surrender, and release.

At one point in that tiny venue, I looked around at the audience. I saw people smiling, dancing, or jumping to the energy, and one woman in a long, loose dress who swayed sensuously, her hands resting on her front thighs getting lost in the sensuality of Train Company’s sound. Playful, hard, and happy; seductive, sensual, and heated. There were times I couldn’t contain my smile and other times when the sensuality had me wanting to sway like her, biting my lip instead. Was it the intimate setting? I don’t know, but it was getting hot in there.

--by Patricia J. Esposito, author of Beside the Darker Shore

You can get a taste of Train Company here

Upcoming shows:

Monday, July 8, 2013

Five Stars for Vampire Novel

Five-star review of Beside the Darker Shore


"Beside the Darker Shore is different. It is not your usual vampire tale. There is no sex in the book, per se, but it is one of the most powerfully sensual books I have read. When humans offer their blood to vampires, the eroticism of the bloodletting has no need for sex. When Stephen is in the throes of his addiction for donating, he is lost to everything but that act in that moment. Ms. Esposito beautifully conveys the addiction and the yearning for the giving through her words...I liked the characters. While there are villains in Beside the Darker Shore, they are not the stereotypical villains of vampire novels...I hope Ms. Esposito is planning a sequel or prequel. There are many unanswered questions and these are characters that have not left my mind since I finished the book."

Available at the publisher Eternal Press or all major booksellers 

Patricia is author of the vampire novel Beside the Darker Shore. 
Five-Star Review of Beside the Darker Shore 
Five-Star Review of Beside the Darker Shore  

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

A seduction

Vampires. They tickle and tease the neck’s quivering willingness. From the peach tree, ripe fruit drops to the grassy hillside. Her skin peach under his cool lips…waits, tender and ready to be pricked. Full-leafed branches rustle and sway in a trembling wind. It shivers up her body as she tilts into his grip. A rain of ready fruit drums to earth, thunder in her gut, blood engulfed, swollen and ready to pour. 

Other vampire writings 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Vampires and the Sensual Awakening

I'm no longer sure there is an appeal to vampires that's any different from the appeal of pirates or cowboys/girls or folks in uniform or witches and warlocks.

One reader says it's the heightened senses conveyed in stories about vampires, another says it's the bad boy allure, another says it's the protective strength, and still more call it the aspect of danger or the tortured soul or the gift of eternity.

Couldn't most of these be applied to any antihero? Someone who is set apart whether by job or by general essence. There is something different about them. A challenge to the norm. We have to step out of ourselves and what we know, take a chance, risk.

I don't think the desire to take a risk is the same as liking the "bad boy" or "bad girl." Look how many have fallen in love with the good vampires of Twilight. But they do offer something different.

So, if the appeal of antiheroes is fairly universal, then why does one reader choose vampires and another pirates? I wonder if it reverts back to our first awakenings of sensuality or first taste of adventure.

My older sister had me watch Christopher Lee when I was fairly young. I saw something I'd never seen before. I saw a man bending over a woman who leaned her head back willingly, opening her neck to his lips. I saw something in their eyes that I'd never seen in kid-TV. Sensuality. Heightened pleasure. It looked a little dangerous but irresistible. A bit like sex.

For someone else, it might have been the cowboy sweeping the wild-haired woman up onto his horse. Or maybe that look on the pirate's face when he saw the reward of his travels: adventure. Our first taste of something new that set the adrenaline pumping and imprinted in our memory.

Stories imprint in our memory. Reading is sometimes about learning and sometimes about adventure, often both. Our peculiar passions are part of our growth.

Just as vampires have grown into our culture, the thing of the night, night's potential. They will always be here, just as the antiheroes will always appeal, in whatever dress they wear.

Something different, something to take us out of ourselves, a step away from safety, with the promise of adventure, the promise of good or wicked pleasure.

Patricia is author of the vampire novel Beside the Darker Shore. 
Five-Star Review of Beside the Darker Shore 
Five-Star Review of Beside the Darker Shore 

Friday, March 1, 2013

Truth and Beauty, Beauty and Truth

The ten most beautiful women. The ten most beautiful men. We jump to leaf through the list, knowing amid the ten, there might be one on which we agree. Oh, the others might be appealing, might have features we appreciate, but are they the epitome of beauty? Sometimes only one, sometimes none really stand out for any given person. Who is top on your list?

For that matter, what natural wonders of the world are the most beautiful? Is a beach sunset the purest beauty or a mountain peak sun-glistened? If we disagree on what is most beautiful, is beauty subjective? Or is it objective, with one true definition?

When in mathematics, a theory is defined in the perfect equation, simple, accurate, absolute, it is often called beautiful. In chemistry, the blending of compounds is sometimes called a beautiful synthesis. Is it true what Keats said in his poem? Beauty is truth, truth is beauty?

While looking at life events, recording memories, creating sketches of people I see, responding to things I hear or read, I hope to look at all life’s seductions, the things that spark us, that stand out as real, as beautiful in one way or another. I believe that something in our subconscious responds to equations of truth, the world when it shows us true grace.

Patricia is author of the vampire novel Beside the Darker Shore. 
Five-Star Review of Beside the Darker Shore 
Five-Star Review of Beside the Darker Shore