Tag Archives: stories

May I Have Your Attention…

Hi! I’m creating a new blog. I hope you all will follow me over at that blog. I’ll post links to it here for a while before I stop posting altogether on here. The new page is spellboundscribbler.wordpress.com and please feel free to share it. I just posted my first blog at spellboundscribbler. Come on over and take a look!

At last…

I just read a blog about voice. The blogger was making a point about not being fake, not using a voice for a purpose and then being someone else in public or private. And I realized that I have never truly expressed my own voice. There has always been a tinge somewhere of the people around me when a child develops their voice.

Voice is not the actual tonal quality of your speaking voice. It’s not a persona people see. It’s who you are on a soul-deep level. My last couple of blogs I’ve mentioned struggling with a bit of old baggage. I finally figured it out today. I felt like my voice was stifled so long and so deep that I am still figuring out who I am. I had a similar breakthrough once I realized that the ex-husband did not define me. I define me.

Let me say that again. I DEFINE ME. Not the ex. Not my mom. Not my friends. People who knew me when I was younger see a different person now. Who I used to be was the persona, the version of me I thought I was expected to portray. But it’s not who I truly am.

The true me, well, I think the tattoo I got when I had that other breakthrough is very appropriate to answer that question. It’s an attitude that I have to remind myself of sometimes. The tattoo says Foxy Bitch. It sits across the back of my neck at the top of my spine. Appropriate considering I had to find my backbone along the way.  Sometimes Foxy gets a little lost and I have to go looking for her.

When I read Chuck Wendig’s blog this morning, I realized that I had lost sight of Foxy again. I didn’t have to look far. She’s there, here, typing out these words for you to read. When that moment of insight hits I get chills. The release of emotion is like shedding 50 pounds in an instant. I did shed a few tears because I’ve really been struggling with this for the last few weeks. And you want to talk about timing, I have a blues music channel on the TV and Etta James’ At Last came on and I had to sing with her. Loud. That’s who I am.

I’m loud and sarcastic and funny. I’ll talk about most anything with anybody but I can hold a secret tighter than a leprechaun holds gold. I love the rain and Mondays and cars with tailfins. I can and will take anything you say and make it sound perverted. I have a zillion ideas for stories in my head and I think now, finally, I can tell those stories. For that, I have to say thank you to Chuck. He helped Foxy find me again.

 

Review: Shane Berryhill’s Bad Mojo

Let me introduce you to the first Zora Banks novel, Bad Mojo.

Bad Mojo is a roller coaster through the Chattanooga underbelly. It’s told from the perspective of Ash Owens, a were-creature who works with hoodoo witch doctor Zora Banks to keep balance and peace in their beloved Nooga. We learn about Zora from Ash, the antihero. Where Zora is ethical, strong of faith, and true to her word, Ash is emotionally ugly, unclean, and amoral in the most delicious ways, answering only to Zora due to her ability to keep his own inner monster in check.

Berryhill brings us two seemingly parallel story lines that end up being one and the same. We get a twisted new vampire, were creatures, hoodoos, politicians, drag queens, trolls, zombies, the Fae, drugs and sex, all both honest and crooked in equal measure. The vampires are called vipers in Berryhill’s Nooga, an interesting twist on the bloodsucker leaning more toward snakes than bats. And we can hear the Southern speech of Ash Owens without the weird spelling that bogs down dialect. This look at Nooga shows humans and spooks with all their associated customs blending into a normal society for those aware of both sides. Almost like being a spook is a form of socially acceptable mental illness.

In the same vein as Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden, Berryhill gives us an antihero that tries his best, gets the hell beaten out of him at every opportunity and still gets back into the fight. Owens will do anything to accomplish what needs done; only being penitent to the exotic Zora Banks whom he secretly loves. Bad Mojo is a delicious read, both provocative and repulsive, giving the reader vicarious access to their own inner demons.

You can find Shane Berryhill’s Bad Mojo at Ragnarok Publications and at Amazon.

What I Want

moneytreeA money tree would be nice, right? Recent events have reinforced me opinions on financial independence. Not financial security, I’ll get to that in a minute. Financial independence is not something I was taught. I’ve had to learn it the hard way. It goes hand-in-hand with work ethic and job stability and budgeting. All of these things work together, if you do it right.

This is how it should work. You grow up seeing your parents work hard and take care of all their responsibilities and live productive happy lives. You get an education and find employment doing something you enjoy and make enough coin to take care of all of your responsibilities and live a productive and happy life. Your children grow up watching you and learning the same lessons you did. But it doesn’t always happen that way.

In case you haven’t been playing along, I grew up watching my parents constantly argue over money. There was never enough. It never got spent in the right way. We didn’t know when more was coming. These are the lessons you don’t want to learn. It wasn’t until I was grown, married and divorced that I learned how to live on a budget.

Budgets are easy concepts, really. Total all of your necessary expenses. Subtract that from your net income. The difference is hopefully a positive number and it’s what you get to play with. If it’s negative, then you need to reevaluate your expenses and your source of income. We waste tons of money on fast food and stuff we don’t need. Eliminate that stuff and then see what’s left. If you’re still in the red, you may need to find a better paying job or a second job. Not an easy thing in today’s job market.

Now here is the tricky part. You need to be able to do this without relying on your parents, grandparents, third cousin twice removed or whomever to bail you out when you get overdrawn yet again. Don’t let the bail-out become a habit. Each of us needs to be able to stand on our own and manage our own money independently without needing a knight in shining armor with deep pockets. It doesn’t matter what gender, race, sports team, hair color or anything else you are, learn how to manage money and live on your own. That’s financial independence.

Knowing that you have financial independence is how you build financial security. That feeling of knowing how much you have in savings, that you could survive for at least 6 months if you lost your job, that you’ll have money to live on when you retire to that beach house, that feeling comes from knowing that you have the ability to make money and keep money.

Oh, and check your credit report regularly. Especially if you’ve been in a relationship where money was shared. Those recent events I mentioned? Yeah, my ex-husband never learned those lessons any better than I did. The difference is that he still hasn’t learned them. I had yet another call this week from someone looking to serve papers on him. I may go ahead and change back to my maiden name after all.

Guest Blog by Glenn Walker: Heroes With a Darker Edge

Back in the day, you knew who the heroes were and who the villains were.  Sometimes it was a matter of just wearing black, or wearing white.  Indeed, in those days, the difference between being a hero and a villain was very black and white.  There were no shades of grey, you were either one or the other.  Things have changed.  Let’s take a look at the summer blockbusters in the theaters this year, let’s look at the heroes of 2013.

In Star Trek Into Darkness, we are presented with the new young Captain Kirk’s first real foray against evil, or are we?  Kirk, traditionally, has never made the right decisions, but following his rank and occupation, he is decisive.  Once he puts foot to path, he follows through, and so in the end makes sure lives are saved, no matter the cost.  This new young Kirk (long story short, new continuity, same names and characters, different circumstances, smart writing to free oneself of the chains of continuity) is a dumbass, who makes fundamentally bad decisions and learns the hard way.  Unlike the original version, he hopes he’s right as opposed to actually being right.

The antagonist is this timeline’s Khan, who is much different from the original, yet much the same.  A psychopath who does good is still a psychopath.  There’s no changing that, yet, it does impose those shades of grey on both Kirk and Khan.  I guess it’s a good thing that Spock takes the majority of the action in this one.

The fact that there is no longer black and white however is not all that new, especially in the heroic genre.  Iron Man is flawed from the get go.  He is one of the bad guys.  As an industrialist, futurist, and weapons dealer, Tony Stark has brought much death to the world.  Any grey goes out the window however when in Iron Man Three, he faces a foe so black and evil, there is no mistaking it.  If only Iron Man were a more straight forward white hat.

So we turn to the first and greatest of the superheroes, who also had a movie out a few weeks back, the big blue boy scout – Superman.  He represents truth, justice, and the American way, no matter how politically incorrect that might be these days.  His origin is part Moses, part Jesus, and yes, even part John Carter of Mars.  He is the guy we think of when we think ‘superhero.’  If there are any rules of black and white, good and evil, it should be in his latest film, Man of Steel, right?  Don’t bet the farm, Martha.

At the helm of the film is Christopher Nolan, a man best known with his last movie trilogy in which he made Batman darker, as if that was even possible.  Nolan brings to Superman a new kind of General Zod, one that if you watch and listen carefully is perhaps the most dangerous type of villain, and shade of grey.  He is the villain who thinks what he is doing is right.  No longer is Zod simply after vengeance on the heir of his jailer, or the conquest of some backwater planet – this Zod has been mandated with the task of saving the future of the entire Kryptonian race.

Seriously, if you’re Superman, how do you fight that?  How the hell do you even argue against it?  And if that’s not conflicted enough, there’s Superman’s father – no, not Ruussell Crowe as Jor-El, who crazily has more chemistry with Amy Adams’ Lois Lane than Henry Cavill’s Superman – but Kevin Costner’s Jonathan Kent.  This Jonathan suggests Clark not act and let his schoolmates die in a bus accident, and then also impels his son not to save his own life.  Pa Kent’s greatest lesson in this new world is paranoia and fear, rather than truth, justice and American way.

Perhaps it is this background that allows Superman only to act once the entire planet is in peril from General Zod’s superior forces, and then only when his momma is threatened directly.  This is a hero?  Hold on, folks, it gets worse, and if you haven’t had your spoilers helmet on yet, get it ready.

After punching each other through CGI scene after CGI scene of painful 9-11 conjuring disaster porn, finally Zod starts to take his wrath out on innocent bystanders directly, attempting to heat-vision a family in a train station.  Superman does the only thing the writers (I’m looking right at you, Nolan, and David Goyer) can think of at that point, he murders Zod.  It’s not unprecedented, it’s happened in the comics, but even there it was considered the darkest moment in the character’s history.

Excuse me while I soapbox for a moment.  Superman would have found another way to stop Zod, without resorting to murder.  He would have found another way – that’s why he’s Superman!  Soapbox mode off.

Rounding out this summer of heroes with a darker edge is one that should never have been used in this context – The Lone Ranger.  Let’s not even talk about what a complete dumbass move it was to put the bigger star in the sidekick role and have him steal the film with his moronic shenanigans.  The Lone Ranger is
a character of, well, high moral character.  He is more role model than hero.  He does what’s right, and while he has guns, he has never killed anyone, and here Disney has gone and Superman-ized him.

This new Lone Ranger is not bright, not heroic, not the least bit a role model, and firmly in the shadow of a mockery of his sidekick Tonto in this violent flick.  I hope you Johnny Depp fans got your fill, because the Lone Ranger fans left the theater choking and starving.  All I can say in this case is if Disney hated the source material so much, why did they remake it?

In the summer of 2013, it seems no hero is safe from the internal darkness that permeates pop culture.  I hope that changes.  Superman and the Lone Ranger have no reason to be dark.  And if things are so dark, shouldn’t we have real heroes and role models to look up to, to show us the light?  Just my opinion.

Copyright 2013 Glenn Walker

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Glenn Walker’s Heroes blog is also found in the August 2013 issue of Voluted Tales eZine.  You can find all the Walker you can handle and then so here:

Summer Time

Yes, August is here.  It’s hot and muggy in North Carolina.  I keep thinking about moving North to a cooler climate but then I remember that I don’t like being cold, either.  There is a lot going on for me at the moment.

School is going well.  I haven’t had any thoughts of dropping out so I’m doing good.

I have more craft/crochet projects than I can shake a hook at.  I’ll post pics of the beards when I have more finished.

In case you didn’t know, I am now managing editor at Voluted Tales Magazine.  It’s an e-zine featuring all things speculative fiction.  We have stories as well as interviews, reviews and articles on the industry and everyone involved.  I have to write my first editorial as the new editor for this month’s issue.  For once, I think I may be speechless.  I have no idea yet what I’m going to say.  Fun!

My in-person writing group is going well, also.  Hickory Writer’s Society is starting to gain new members with a wider writing background.  I’m very excited for the group.  We did have some people attempt the July Camp NaNoWriMo.  November will be here soon and I’m sure we will go all out for it again this year.

The day job is still going along swimmingly as well.  That’s about it for now.  I need a vacation. 😉

What are YOU up to?

 

Turn up the volume: Robin Renee

Music can be energizing, life-affirming, relaxing, spiritual, raunchy.  Music can be anything you’d like it to be.  I have found music to be all of the things I listed and so much more, which is why I am so pleased to bring you something new today.

Robin Renee is creating a new genre of music best described as mantra-pop.  Her music encompasses pop, rock, folk, meditative, kirtan.  What is kirtan, you ask?  Kirtan (or kirtana) is call-and-response chanting or responsory performed in India’s bhakti devotional traditions.  Robin has taken these chants and made a beautiful sound.  Her new album “This.” features kirtan, from the folksy Keshava (which reminded me Edie Brickell)  to the ethereal Leaving Space, and ending with the meditative (and almost operatic feeling) Om Mani Padme Hum.  I would meditate to the whole CD, but I’d probably end up singing along more than I meditated.  (A win-win, I’m thinking.)

Check out the new CD This.  here:  http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/robinrenee7

Robin also has a new pop/rock single, All I Am,  in support of the You Will Rise Project.  It is also available on cdbaby:  http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/robinrenee8

Music, poems, writing, wig head art.  Robin Renee is a woman of many talents.  You can check out all of her work on her site:  http://www.robinrenee.com/

The next stop on Robin’s blog tour brings you back to the infamous Glenn Walker at http://www.monsura.blogspot.com/

Check out the vids below for a quick listen to some of Robin Renee’s music.