Friday, November 7, 2014

Five-star review of vampire novel

Five-star review of vampire novel Beside the Darker Shore from GLBT Bookshelf

By Aricia Gavriel GLBT Bookshelf

Review excerpts:

"Here is the most unusual and original vampire novel I’ve ever read – I know of nothing else like it, and I’ve read numerous novels in this genre...The story is so complex, you’ll have to roll with it and take up the details by osmosis. I can image the author trying to fathom how to set up this scenario via a conventional backstory. It would have been virtually impossible, and the alternative would have been to dramatize the whole shebang, ending up with a novel bigger than The Lord of the Rings. So roll with it, let osmosis happen…"

"The writing style is also unorthodox, with a narrative so rich in detail, words often seem to dance off the page. When it works, it’s deeply evocative – I’m reminded of Poppy Z. Brite on steroids! Occasionally, the unorthodox nature of this 'freeform' narrative can be a mite hard to follow – sometimes it’s not clear who’s doing and saying what – but overall, the novel’s voice is so fresh, I was beguiled to the end...It’s complex, as I said … you’ll need to concentrate, because you won’t be spoon-fed. You know how there are books that lull you to sleep? This one flips your brain’s 'on' switch!"

Five stars out of five, highly recommended.


Another five-star review
Available as ebook or paperback

Tell me a story; now tell me again

I wanted to write a story about a vampire guitarist. A friend scoffed: “If I had a nickel for every story about vampire guitarists…” Despite this quick dismissal of whatever need or passion was driving me to the sensuality of the vampire and the sensuality of music, I had to examine the idea that the story has already been written.

We often hear that every story has been written: the same love stories told again and again, the epic heroes on their quests, the rags to riches fantasies, the tragic hero’s fall.  We know of Joseph Campbell’s monomyth, the idea that basic patterns of the hero’s journey appear throughout literature, throughout time.

So what’s the point of writing if we’re allowed only to write something never done before, and yet everything has been done before? How do we define new? A werewolf guitarist? A vampire drummer? I’m deliberately trivializing because I can’t imagine dismissing anyone’s story idea without knowing what compels the writer to write it and how the writing of it might bring something new to life, or something old to life again. 

Why is it that so many writers, at some time or another, want to retell myths, fairy tales, and legends? Or want to extend characters and story lines from the ancient myths or even from their favorite books? Why when we read a novel we love, or view a painting that provokes us, or hear a song that stirs us, do we want to extend the experience?

A good story lives beyond the final word. A good story transcends cultures and generations. It must be that, however we’ve changed in society, something remains the same at the root. Are the myths retold because in them we recognize the basic human traits that pervade culture and time, and in recognizing that, there is comfort? What we are we have already been. Names change. Quests change. Gender changes. Nationality changes. The journey to a foreign land becomes the journey into the psyche. The battle with the giants becomes the battle with oppressive bigotry.

Are we justified in our fear of great power if we witness that same fear and the struggle to overcome in the ancient stories, still being told? What in stories of gods coming down from heaven to mold our fates can be found in tales of youth fighting society’s expectations or the questing soul coming to peace with the path life has drawn? One tale resonates in different ways for each person, each generation, each culture, depending on circumstances of place and time. A single story can be retold, reinterpreted, reimagined, relived a thousand times.

While we fight for individuality, for the way to say something fresh, I think we should be careful in defining what fresh means. If the goal is to say something new, the result often feels more like a gimmick, the piece contrived and conniving. Maybe it’s not saying something new that matters but reliving what’s old and what resonates in that universal way that makes us part of our history and our present and assures us a future as human beings.    

Stories don’t die unless we forget them.

What if we do forget? What will that make us?

-------


"Eight writers modernize ancient mythologies in Distorted,  proving that not every story has been told” (or at least not told in quite this way). Available in November from Transmundane Press.  “Tantalizingly bloody tales featuring human pitted against beast and gods, with the true majesty and horrors of the afterlife, with love and death and desire…”

Blog writer
Patricia J. Esposito is author of Beside the Darker Shore and has contributed to Distorted  the short story “Where the Arrow Flies," a retelling of the Apollo and Daphne myth, in which thwarted love seeks its failed cure.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Apolonio Forged

 
                        Apolonio Forged
                           

He is the sword forged from starlit cascade,
luster raised, core heat, and fiery shine.

Black flame stoked copper embers, poured
slick to form his mineral strength: desire.

How he stands regal, a body of celestial
elements with eyes spun from  sun—

he knows—in the blade of him
is our core, our trust, our final hope.

Unassuming bravery, he’s drawn
at the ready, gleam in his eye. Here,

let his black silk strands lash you;
put hot cheek to his saber shine.

Rise and dip from sun-tipped plane
to strong-jawed percussion. Taste

security as desire moans up you, lips
bedding his so pliant in their demand.

Your breast along his central ridge pulses;
tongue seeks coarsened chin, the concave

that slides you down the corded strength
of a neck, satin sheathed, to withstand

your hungry bite. We’re subjects, supplicant
in our need, fingers eyes mouths beholden

to him—kneeling at sword point, to tongue
the sculpted bevels, polished contours,

sword-slick drawing us to the tip.

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Good, the Greedy, and the Little Bowl


“I built this company with my own two hands,” the CEO says. In the backdrop are the fields of grapes being picked by two hundred pairs of hands. He built it alone. Beyond the workers are the machine operators and the truckers who carry the grapes, and beyond them are buildings and roads built by hundreds more to transport the grapes. He built it alone.

Does anything grow on its own? The CEO had an idea. The CEO took a chance. He invested his money; he took the risks. He acquired the knowledge needed to produce good fruit and to market it well. He worked mornings and nights and suffered droughts and kept going. Along with him, the pickers and handlers worked hard. Without them, would he have produce to sell? Without the workers building the roads, would he be able to distribute what he grew? The people together worked.

It took more than two hands. Southern plantation owners grew rich quickly with slave labor. Did they build their empires with their own two hands?

Ego. Sometimes it’s ego that drives a person to success. Ego rooted in a need to prove oneself, to make a grand show of success, a desire for riches to give credence to one’s name. When ego motivates, are others ever recognized?

The same weekend that I watched the movie Cesar Chavez I also watched The Wolf of Wall Street. Whom do we admire? The person who puts his own financial security and safety at risk to help others or the person who puts others at risk for his own financial success? Do we admire trickery and the ego that justifies it as talent?

When a person has knowledge, when a person has talent, does a person have an obligation to use it well? In The Wolf of Wall Street, the stockbroker had talent. He could sell. The CEO of the grape farm would have done well to have him market his product. The small business owner, the migrant worker trying to establish a union, they would benefit from the stockbroker’s talent. Drive and creativity, the power to persuade, these talents get the world moving, help bring new things to our awareness, raise production and bring more jobs.

What makes one person choose to use this talent to help others while another uses it to deceive and abuse the “suckers of the world” must come down to personality, innate or learned. In one movie I saw a compassionate heart and a mind with knowledge and drive to fix a failing situation; in the other movie I saw a greedy heart fixed on gathering the envy of others. It isn’t the money that corrupted. It’s the impetus of ego.

My daughter had a friend whose father was a pilot and whose mother was a university professor. Their incomes allowed a nice house, education for the kids, frequent travel overseas, grand vacations. Knocking on their front door brought the pilot dad skidding across the floor in his socks. He’d jump up and down like a kid. And the mom would invite you inside, talk about the kids’ latest art projects, ask advice about turning forty. Their wealth provided fun times and education and the chance to help people, without the need for praise. They were involved in democratic campaigns and their daughter aspired to a political office where she could do something good. Their jobs, their income, their possessions were never for show. What defined them were their kid-like pleasures, their sincerity, and their respect for people. Money did not corrupt.

Why is pride the deadliest sin? Is it at the root of greed? Deception? Envy? What does it mean to aspire to greatness rather than to arrive at greatness unsought? What is the difference between focusing on the deed and focusing on the reward? I think happiness. Is the reward ever as good as the doing?

Why couldn’t the stockbroker give up the company he created? He loved what he did. He had great talent for what he did. Exercising that talent undoubtedly made him happy. But he became addicted to the rush of each deception he pulled off, each new woman or toy he acquired, and each new man he impressed. Did he begin to mistake the reward for the happiness? The rewards that were never enough?

In raising kids, I couldn't embrace the reward system. It seemed somehow inherently wrong. I’d tell the kids that studying hard would give them confidence to take the test, and that was a good feeling. And whether or not they got an A, if they knew they tried, they’d handle the consequence. My daughter would come home and say her friend got a trip to the Dells for her good grades, but she'd laugh as she said it, knowing I’d just smile and say, something horrible like “That’s great for her, and you worked really hard and it shows. What you did wasn’t easy. But you did it.” Boring but focused on the doing?

What does it mean to get a prize for ordinary, even immoral, actions? What definition does that give to happiness? Does the excess portrayed in The Wolf of Wall Street come from a loop of striving for happiness with constant failure? Do we all fall into these patterns at times, in places in our lives?

Addictions, bad habits, false searches, all with the target of ultimate joy? I like the rush of excitement at something new, and I like working toward something I love. But life is as full of letdowns as accomplishments, and the process toward something seems to be what’s best. So should we forget happiness as a goal? The student monk who journeyed to Tibet to seek the wisdom of the old master at the mountaintop, said, “I am new to the monastery, what can you teach me?” To which the master asked, “Have you eaten your rice porridge?” He had, and the master responded, “Then go wash your bowl.”

Maybe Cesar Chavez always washed his bowl and made sure his neighbor had a bowl too. Maybe the Wall Street wolves prefer a new bowl every day and want to be sure it’s better than their neighbors’. Where does it begin, our pursuit of happiness and our means to getting there? What people helped or hurt us along the way?

My spouse is greasing trailer tires and gave me a job to do to help him. My daydreams of something fun tune into the moment; I'm washing the bowl. And life keeps moving forward.


-----

Patricia J. Esposito, author of Beside the Darker Shore.
Novel Reviews: Goodreads, GLBT Bookshelf,

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Poetry: The Service Prince

 
The Service Prince
                      

When the wide white store evaporates
and he stands in mineral warmth,
unassuming at the service desk,
there’s nothing to do but relinquish.

Relinquish gladly, there’s nothing else
in this fighting world, in this controlled
space where we cling to composed identity,
as he stands with black rain on his forehead.

As he stands comfortable in a body
that comforts the famished eye, climbing
a precipice of shoulders, T-framed, slinking
down the narrow, down the passages of him.

Nothing to keep the body melt from cascading
when he looks with gold-flecked eyes, sees
through narrow black-framed glass, stares
with the coursing goal of silt-silk rivers.

When you set the pen to the counter, a sword
before the prince, and his tender lips spread,
the fluorescence at throne in his smile, when
you beg to kneel at the gate of his tower,

 and he says rise, and he says flood me.


Originally published in Midwest Literary Review, 2011

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Take a Deep Breath of Music

 You can't listen to one song from The Remains of an Effort by Train Company and think you know this band. There's no pigeonholing a collection that ranges from gritty rock to nightclub jazz, from sexy blues to timeless pop, with genres I can't name in between. There is something for everyone. How this core band of five plays together with such diversity is astounding in itself, but what's even better is how energetic, sincere, empathetic, and joyful it all sounds together.

There's nothing like falling in love with a song, finding the kind of connection that makes you want to hug the music to your heart. I said you can't listen to one song to know this band, yet it takes only one song to know you're in love. Whatever genre they're playing in, the heart of Train Company comes through to create a full, cohesive work that in the end tells a story you want to hear again.

While exploring themes of change, the kinds of mistakes we all make, the kinds of growth we all need, there's both a sense of the drive to find yourself ("Look at you/Your face in your hands and you don't know what to do"; "to fill the void you make some noise") and a sense of compassion ("Through the air the numbered masses stay connected"; "'Cause I know, I've been there before/I know I'll be there once more") always recognizing the patterns of life we all go through ("You never know you're goin' round and round/Still fallin' up/All the way") with the feeling it's all okay, maybe even the point.

The musical arrangements (with added horns and strings) are the sound of seasoned players who know when to embellish and when to hold back. The music doesn't always go where expected, breaking the formulas with an understanding of layers and the power of nuance. Keyboardist Sam Wyatt taps tempos and crescendos from elegant to joyfully wild, as saxophonist Mark Alletag blows svelte seduction or a playful bounce; bassist Mike DeWitt tantalizes with rhythms that fix in our stomachs, as drummer Rob Lejman controls us with his steady beating or, with expert elation, rolls everything out; and singer/guitarist John Zozzaro buoyed on it all, responds to what he feels, tickling up guitar melodies, luring us around corners, seducing us with a bluesy lust, or pounding a dynamic rhythm to get even non-dancers dancing. 

As a songwriter, Zozarro, seems to have a vision, and it's played out in his lyrics, as well as in his emotionally textured yet astoundingly smooth, clean voice that is tender, sexy, triumphant, and playful.  He can wail with a voice of silken seduction, rip out guttural need, or soothe with the tenderness of a friend who cares. 

The opening song, “October,” is a beautiful testament to the band’s fearless experimentation and talent. It’s followed by the driving “City Down by the Shoreline,” a catchy song that then builds to a wild mesh of sound that demands relinquishment. “Leavin’” feels like the aftermath of a final night of sex and the thrill of new adventure,” and beside “Look at You,” leads the listener on in an album that begins to feel like a story. Bold assertion and sexy nonchalance blend in songs like “Still Can Feel the Heat” and “Myself in Two,” while the world turns moody and psychedelic in the midway gem “The Otherside,” then quietly compassionate in the lovely “Real Digital,” which I can’t believe isn’t a radio hit yet.  The feeling of story continues in songs like the rat-pack sounding “Face in the Crowd,” the vivid streets and voices of the cleverly constructed “Steve,” and the mysterious ambiguity of “Remains of an Effort,” while the charming “Bannister” pops up as one of the sweetest sexy songs I’ve heard in a long time.

When The Remains of an Effort ends—to snag a new meaning from "Face in the Crowd"—"You take a deep breath, then you start over." Train Company is the band to listen to if you’re “lookin’ for some change.” It’s time, isn’t it? 

Get a taste of them here! 


Reviews by Patricia J. Esposito
author of Beside the Darker Shore 
Goodreads Review 
Romance writers review 
GLBT Bookshelf review 

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Driving Hybrid Cars on the Moon Dreams

Advertising can be creative and clever and often misleading. So, I'm going to rant a moment on this Cadillac commercial: 2014 Cadillac ELR.

I think we all smile at the flippant remark about no longer going to the moon because we're bored. We like the romantic notion of exploration, inquisitiveness; it's curiosity that drives us in so many good ways. It's the "what if" kind of thinking that keeps imaginations active. But more likely, the reality here is that we're no longer on the moon because it didn't offer efficient means for exploitation and profit. While one person moved on to explore more fascinations in the universe, the majority moved on to what pays.

So, as the character in the commercial breezes past all his wealth, as if he doesn't care about it, I suspect instead that the wealth (and even the advanced hybrid car--after all, it is a Cadillac) is what defines him, rather than astronomy. Usually very curious, scientific types of minds are hiding at a messy desk surrounded by microscopes and computer screens and have little interest in fluff. Money gets behind that curious innovator because it wants to grow and sees potential growth in innovation. There can be excitement in that too and creativity (look at the fun of this ad), but all that halts immediately if the money isn't growing. What drives each is different, I think.

I did find this bit of optimism about the commercial from thinkprogress.org:  "...proof of how far these [hybrid] vehicles have come in the public imagination. Seeing environmentally beneficial scientific advancements as awesome and consumptively desirable rather than as effete seems like real progress." Because that's the only way to get some people to be socially or ecologically responsible.

I'm not saying I didn't smile a bit at some of the notions, because, we were raised with that work ethic, the drive, the pushing forward (go west, young man). But we also know the toll an uncontrolled push can take on what lies before it. Romanticism needs reality checks too. Does this character's boastful two weeks off a year take into consideration the family the ad poses to resemble security and success? Or his chance to actually be in nature, which might have better alerted him to the need for the hybrid car if money hadn't lulled him instead? Does he buy a Cadillac for each kid who turns sixteen and will never understand the lives of the people building the cars, because there are too many fun distractions? If someone said to him, hey, we found an alternative fuel source on the moon, would he be back there after all?

I think it's the money that keeps this one curious. And arrogance, not confidence, resides in his walk.  In art and literature, we use wrappings to convey our ideas  as close to our truths that we can. If a person feels coerced, falsely swayed, the wrappings are of a different sort. Truth or coercion: creative minds are clever.

Friday, June 13, 2014

      The Last Battle
   
(On The Death of Artemio Cruz by Carlos Fuentes)
              
We're at the window, looking over
the battle's dead, laid out like a feast
for you.  You've been staring long.

When will the next rebellion come? 
How much time has passed? I ask.  No
time, yet centuries, you say, for you see

already your fortress crumbling,
stone walls turned to dust, hooved
with the fury of horses, of soldiers

riding to some new war; yet you hear,
too, the small cry from a child's bed,
you, once nursed in a white-washed room.

How yesterday and tomorrow blend ,
you say, but I am deafened by each
battle's shrill resolve and can't move

past this moment.  Can we ever know
this time that is passing?  For you, we exist
all at once, but I'm like those chickens

loosed from their pens, scratching up
dust between the bodies.  I am frantic
with each second to move on from here.

Down in the yard, the beggars come
to pick. You turn away and shed
your coat. I don't think you have

the stomach for causes anymore.
Where does desire lie in your spectrum
of stillness?  Where is change?

Monday, June 2, 2014

My current, extensive copy editing project reveals some of the most frequently occurring grammar and punctuation errors. It reminds me that I no longer have my grammar website up and that I had intended on doing more of that here. More and more businesses, and independent entrepreneurs, are trying to develop their own websites and blogs for promotion. While many readers won't realize a comma is missing, correct usage lends both clarity and professionalism to any written words.

To come when I find time...
Recurring problems:
compound words written incorrectly (check dictionaries or Internet sites)
commas around independent clauses, closing commas around parenthetical phrases, etc.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

A song like a story

Sometimes, listening to the radio, a new song starts playing, catching your attention. You turn up the volume, interest piqued. And then a minute later, you realize you've stopped listening. What caught your attention has either shifted to something less interesting or has begun repeating itself in a diluting way. Sometimes you like a song and then find it repeats itself into an eventual fade without ending, inconclusive, no sense of climax or resolution. Some of this works well for dance music, where repetition keeps the feet moving or creates a sexual energy, but I'm thinking of the songs meant for listening, meant to convey an emotion or an idea and sometimes a sexual energy too, but more progressive and climactic perhaps.

And that's a lot of prep for my interest in looking at songs from a literary perspective, the building, the climax, the resolution, the need to have an ending, the need to wait until that last note so you feel your experience is completed. From the radio play, I moved to Train Company's song "Change" and then to "Steve." And then I began noticing how every song requires its ending. How at the end of "Other Side," I have to wait at each pause between notes for those last notes and the cymbal taps because they conclude the experience, because the song built to the climax and needs the resolution.

[Well...I need to hold off on the rest due to a work deadline today, but I didn't want to forget that I want to look at song structure, mostly through this band because I've been listening to them most this past year, and the songwriting amazes on many levels.]

Take a listen here

Monday, May 19, 2014

Five-star review of vampire novel from GLBT Bookshelf

By Aricia Gavriel GLBT Bookshelf



Review excerpts:

"Here is the most unusual and original vampire novel I’ve ever read – I know of nothing else like it, and I’ve read numerous novels in this genre...The story is so complex, you’ll have to roll with it and take up the details by osmosis. I can image the author trying to fathom how to set up this scenario via a conventional backstory. It would have been virtually impossible, and the alternative would have been to dramatize the whole shebang, ending up with a novel bigger than The Lord of the Rings. So roll with it, let osmosis happen…"

"The writing style is also unorthodox, with a narrative so rich in detail, words often seem to dance off the page. When it works, it’s deeply evocative – I’m reminded of Poppy Z. Brite on steroids! Occasionally, the unorthodox nature of this 'freeform' narrative can be a mite hard to follow – sometimes it’s not clear who’s doing and saying what – but overall, the novel’s voice is so fresh, I was beguiled to the end...It’s complex, as I said … you’ll need to concentrate, because you won’t be spoon-fed. You know how there are books that lull you to sleep? This one flips your brain’s 'on' switch!" 

Five stars out of five, highly recommended.


Another five-star review 
Available as ebook or paperback

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Character Sketches for WIP Apolonio's Light


First you gasp, because the immediate beauty of his face impacts like cannon fire, like creation’s first bang. Oh, the mind remembers his elegant symmetry, has recited again and again the lustrous fire of his brown skin. Still … you gasp, forgetting the power of one man’s beauty: the brows’ black slash, like night skies drawn a thousand times have never found a land to match their flawless stroke, till him. Him whose smile dimples as it seduces, rich lips that spin the stars’ glimmering eyes to him. Envious planets, envious suns, what you would give to shine with the candid joy in his eyes, and all your moons can’t beguile like the shadow-shifts as he turns bright welcome into devilish snare. 

You remember what you’ve forgotten, and you move to new impressions: his hair’s brief black ruffle beneath a stocking cap of wool. Cap ties dangle, tempting the finger’s tug, one slip to loose the universe he flings as silk across his brow, to trail the sky-blue, earth-brown flannel that coats the landscape of consummate him. Somewhere compressed heat expanded and meteors sliced the sky. He was created. But here, on the breadth of his chest, below the shelter of shoulders, is safe repose. Let his heart pulse through. The magnetism of planets, the thrill and the ache of beauty perplex as they awe. This man. There’s no turning from the blast that sets this axis spinning: his creation, and in turn, what you become through him.


Sequel to Beside the Darker Shore


Five-Star Review of Beside the Darker Shore


Five-Star Review of Beside the Darker Shore

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

I want to write a sweet love story, where characters are good and feelings are fine and light. There's a weight that's hard to lift on your own; it needs that dopamine blast to raise it.

Monday, March 31, 2014

"That whore was all over Steve at the club. Slutty bitch needs to get her own man."

I overheard a conversation with this disgusting dialogue. Two women. Two women talking about other women. I've never understood derogatory name-calling, hateful bashing of a race or gender. The words used in their dialogue made me cringe, turned my stomach.

We probably all name-call in a moment of frustration. It's a result of feeling powerless at the moment. But when done repeatedly, it's also a sign of insecurity and fear.

What made the woman "all over Steve at the club" a bitch, slut, or whore? She was a woman out at a club to meet people and have fun. She liked the looks of Steve. Steve might have liked the attention. It happens. In any relationship, however long people are together, there are moments when someone will come on to one or the other involved. We're sexually charged humans; we feel attractions. It's not wrong to like someone.

So how did this woman in the club become a victim of hate? Steve's partner or wife or girlfriend became jealous upon hearing someone else found Steve attractive. Instead of saying to Steve, "Of course she found you attractive. You are attractive!" she lashed out, feeling threatened. Was there a reason to feel threatened? Possibly if Steve wasn't the faithful type. Possibly, if instead of feeling a boost in his confidence, Steve felt the urge to try someone new. Possibly, if Steve did it out of spite or to make her jealous.

Is that woman at the club at fault? Is she a whore because Steve isn't trustworthy or wanted to cause insecurity in his relationship at home? Who is at fault? Maybe Steve is at fault for letting things go too far at the club. Steve is at fault for making his partner feel insecure. Or the speaker of these words is at fault for not coming to terms with her own jealousies and insecurities. She is at fault for her own negligence in the relationship.

The woman at the club is her own person with her own life; in another circumstance, she might have been, not a bitch, but a friend. Women don't steal other women's men. People can't be stolen. An attraction between two people can develop into a problem, absolutely. But it's not because women out there are any of these hateful labels. It's because, like men, like you or me, people feel lust and attraction and the thrills of new relationships. Maybe the speaker of these words could have asked Steve how he felt? Maybe she could have remembered a time when a guy at a club came onto her?

I don't want to hear those words anymore. I'm sick of hearing women contribute to their own diminishing. I'm tired of misplaced blame.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Erotic Ghosts Haunt New Short Story Collection

Excerpt from "At the Carousel Stop"
Available in Like a Chill Down Your Spine on Amazon



    Despite the plush chair’s comfort, Mrs. Sanchez sat at its edge, her fingers half in her purse, prepared to grab at something any minute. Working mom, Patrick thought. Always ready to move to the next thing that needed doing.
    “No kids?” he asked. She’d insisted on a two-bedroom, but claimed her kids were grown and out of the house. He asked again because when she’d entered his office, she’d been looking behind her as if someone were following—or like she wanted to be sure they stay put.
    Besides that he’d smelled cannabis when they’d spoken outdoors—though he had to admit he didn’t now that they sat together in the office. He’d had a moment’s doubt; maybe she was sneaking in a boyfriend, a dealer. But she was clean, neat, and pleasant, if a little nervous. She would be working and coming home to sleep. An easy tenant.
    Pushing the apartment key across the desk, he smiled. He’d rather welcome her than be suspicious. “Welcome, Mrs. Sanchez. I hope you like it here.”
    As she reached for the key, she shot a quick glance over her shoulder, then looked back apologetically. “I thought—”
    “It’s the glass case,” he said. “You probably saw my reflection.” Decorative cherry wood trimmed the curio cabinet, and chopped his reflection in half, but he saw himself sitting tall, his complexion warmly Irish. He’d gotten his hair trimmed close and neat. He felt presentable. It had been a rough week, but wasn’t it always?
    She stood. He almost wished she’d had a kid or two, a college guy maybe who’d laze around the small pool—glistening sleekness soaking sun, legs spread casually either side of the lounge chair. Patrick pushed the thought away and extended his hand.
    “Welcome, then.”
    “You have a lovely smile,” she said. “It’s in your eyes.” With that she left. Had he been smiling? In the curio cabinet he saw only a carousel of unicorns. And that reminded him that the collection needed dusting. He was the one who had said, “Don’t throw them away,” and now he stared at them every day, pointed reminders.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Vampire Novel Review

Five-star review of vampire novel from GLBT Bookshelf

By Aricia Gavriel GLBT Bookshelf

Review excerpts:

"Here is the most unusual and original vampire novel I’ve ever read – I know of nothing else like it, and I’ve read numerous novels in this genre...The story is so complex, you’ll have to roll with it and take up the details by osmosis. I can image the author trying to fathom how to set up this scenario via a conventional backstory. It would have been virtually impossible, and the alternative would have been to dramatize the whole shebang, ending up with a novel bigger than The Lord of the Rings. So roll with it, let osmosis happen…"

"The writing style is also unorthodox, with a narrative so rich in detail, words often seem to dance off the page. When it works, it’s deeply evocative – I’m reminded of Poppy Z. Brite on steroids! Occasionally, the unorthodox nature of this 'freeform' narrative can be a mite hard to follow – sometimes it’s not clear who’s doing and saying what – but overall, the novel’s voice is so fresh, I was beguiled to the end...It’s complex, as I said … you’ll need to concentrate, because you won’t be spoon-fed. You know how there are books that lull you to sleep? This one flips your brain’s 'on' switch!"

Five stars out of five, highly recommended.


Another five-star review
Available as ebook or paperback

Friday, February 7, 2014

Art begets art

Music makes the mind want to write, live music and the sweat of work stranding black over a face lost in sound, the fervent need pushing fingers to tug and stroke, to transpose the intangible inside into metal string vibrations. How do you not hear leavin' and ohh yeah without the intangible need inside trying to create something in words as well, to purge it, to speak.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

In need of inspiration

 
Stream me your words, feed me more
than review and lesson repeat respond more
than define the noun present verb past
and progressive passing, no more connect
infer analyze discuss and say, say, say…
these dull staples, too blunt to infect
stream me words, real words
like bourbon
like shotgun
like smoke
life, open your mouth on me,
rumble your lusty throat

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Train Company: Live Hot Fun


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. Gritty rock, progressive rock, they are 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. They might be who you want to see if you’re “lookin’ for some change.”

I had the lucky pleasure of seeing them live in a small, local venue recently. If I loved their studio sound on Remains of an Effort, my love doubled on seeing them live. This band meshes. Young and energetic and in it for love, they play like seasoned veterans having loads of fun. I was astounded. I was snared.

Train Company is a band that understands layers and 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 in the intricate building of a song.

Keyboardist Sam Wyatt taps tempos and crescendos from elegant to joyfully wild, as saxophonist Mark Alletag blows svelte seduction or a playful bounce; bassist Mike DeWitt tantalizes with rhythms that fix in our stomachs, as drummer Rob Lejman controls us with his 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 universes to whirl and crash together. In the bluesy, beautiful “Change,” from their EP, 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 vocals 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” brings 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.

When Train Company plays, you see their songs taking over, how their stances alter, pulling them higher, as if the music is coming up through the floor, 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, and jumping to the energy, and one woman in a long, loose dress 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. 

You can hear Remains of an Effort on the Train Company website. 

Upcoming shows include

Monday, January 20, 2014

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 

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Take a breath and fall in love...

You can't listen to one song from The Remains of an Effort and think you know this band. There's no pigeonholing a collection that ranges from driving rock to nightclub jazz, from sexy blues to timeless pop, with genres I can't name in between. There is something for everyone. How this core band of five plays together with such diversity is astounding in itself, but what's even better is how energetic, sincere, empathetic, and joyful it all sounds together.
There's nothing like falling in love with a song, finding the kind of connection that makes you want to hug the music to your heart. I said you can't listen to one song to know this band, yet it takes only one song to know you're in love. Whatever genre they're playing in, the heart of Train Company comes through to create a full, cohesive work that in the end tells a story you want to hear again.

While exploring themes of change, the kinds of mistakes we all make, the kinds of growth we all need, there's both a sense of the drive to find yourself ("Look at you/Your face in your hands and you don't know what to do"; "to fill the void you make some noise") and a sense of compassion ("Through the air the numbered masses stay connected"; "'Cause I know, I've been there before/I know I'll be there once more") always recognizing the patterns of life we all go through ("You never know you're goin' round and round/Still fallin' up/All the way") with the feeling it's all okay, maybe even the point.

Guitar, bass, keyboard, saxophone, drums--the musical arrangements (with added horns and strings) are the sound of seasoned players who know when to embellish and when to hold back, and who still like to have fun. The music doesn't always go where expected, breaking the formulas (an unexpected note held long, a sudden exquisite shift in rhythm, sax tinkering with near mischief, the softening turn of strings, the building tap tap tap of the piano), and the shifts startle you pleasantly awake. The singer-songwriter-guitarist, John Zozarro, seems to have a vision and it's played out in his lyrics, as well as in his emotionally textured yet astoundingly smooth, clean voice that is tender, sexy, triumphant, and playful. His presence rings through everything and immediately turns any bad day good.

When the album ends, to snag a new meaning from "Face in the Crowd"--"You take a deep breath then you start over."
 
 ---
Download an MP3 on Amazon or visit the Train Company website for more options and a free listen!

Summer Heat/Weekend Getaway Short Story

Excerpt from $0.99 story Good Brothers, the doorbell rings interrupting Richie's little sister's pool party:


 
Must be Clarita, I thought, as I headed to the front door to let her in.
A tiny dark-haired girl stood sandaled on the porch step, frog beach bag dangling off her shoulder. Cracking open the door, I smiled, then stopped.
Beyond her, swinging out of the car, was the brother. He rested his forearm on the car door, ginger skin, shiny like it was sun-polished, and tight over a smooth bicep and rounded shoulder. Slim and toned, he wore a white tank shirt with thin blue stripes. A breeze ruffled it over his lean chest, and it gaped beneath the shadowed clavicle.
“Hey, they’re out back,” I said absently as Clarita squeezed past me in the doorway. Kicking off her sandals, she padded through the kitchen. The backdoor protested on rusty springs and clicked closed. The brother stood, his eyes concealed by dark glasses. Black hair shone straight across his forehead. His plush lips tipped to a grin.
Jesus. Collecting myself, I stepped barefoot to the hot porch. “Hi. Thanks for driving her over.” The guy didn’t move to get back in the car. We stood staring. The sun fell like a concrete block. Then he slammed the car door and started over.
Animal, I thought. Each step was territory marked. I thought of that dancer at college, the one who’d leap the stairs, skirt down railings. There was something naturally fluid in this guy’s step. I backed up and realized I had nowhere to go. The door had closed behind me.
At the bottom of the step, he put out his hand. Shit, I was sure my hand would be sweaty. My lungs were tight. “Hi,” he said. “I was just wondering if there was a coffee shop or something nearby where I could wait.” The full lips spread with a flashing white smile. Then, slowly, he raised his sunglasses.
“Richie?” My dad’s voice startled me out of stupidity. The door cracked open, bumping my leg. “Oh,” Dad said then. Fuckin’ right, Oh.
Clarita’s brother.
He smiled again. Shit, those eyes. They were gold-brown, but more than that, gold-flecked, like the sun sparked through them. And this summer heat was framed by plush lashes and black brows arced in perfect midnight. A mere blink would stop the world.
“Hi,” he said, “I’m just waiting for Clarita. Thought there might be—”
The door urged me forward, opening wide. “Come in. Come in,” Dad said. “You can wait here. Have a margarita!”

Read more for $0.99 on Amazon: Good Brothers.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Is love simple?