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!
I love jigsaw puzzles. They allow me to space out. While the eyes and hands are busy forming connections, the subconscious is making connections in the background. Sometimes I get antsy and can’t focus and have to pull out a puzzle to help me narrow things down.
Recently I’ve been working on an issue with some pretty heavy baggage attached. I’ve written in my journal and delved into my puzzle stash to work through this one. It involves both Mom and Dad and rewiring my creative process. The puzzle I started is not complete…and never will be. That in itself could be a blog-worthy metaphor but that’s not where I made the connection. There are border pieces missing. The puzzle itself is broken.
Let me explain why this became significant. When I work a puzzle, my OCD kicks into overdrive. Pieces are separated into baggies, worked in sections and laid out in neat rows to be counted and rearranged as I progress. I don’t lose pieces. The last time I lost a piece was 1999. When I realized the border was a problem, the question occurred to me: how do you know when something is beyond repair?
Yes, it would be possible to contact the manufacturer to inquire about replacement pieces. But is that necessary? It’s like a relationship. Two people have joined their lives together into an intricate tapestry of emotions and behaviors. Sometimes something changes. The pieces don’t fit anymore. No matter how much therapy or how many arguments they go through, the relationship is not meant to be fixed.
How do you admit that it’s time to let go? When you’ve tried everything you can think of and it’s still not working, when you realize you don’t even know the other person anymore, when your partner is more of an enemy who tries to undermine your very existence, it is time to say I’m done.
Walk away and realize you tried. You cannot make a relationship work by yourself. It takes two people willing to learn and grow with each other, not grow apart. If the pieces don’t fit together anymore, just let it go. Open your hands and heart and let in fresh air and happiness. When the other person is unwilling to grow in the same direction, make your own path.
Without a doubt, the energy of a house is important if you want to be comfortable in your own space. I’ve been in my house just over a month now. There were several things I did to help make my space comfy. A couple of these things may sound strange but they work.
[Disclaimer: I’m of the Pagan persuasion and use energy work in my everyday life. Don’t be alarmed. Just read.]
One of the first things I did was cover all the mirrors already in the house (bathrooms and furniture-wise) with a white sheet. This helped in two ways. One, it cuts out all reflections that might spook you. New houses have lots of sounds and can cause sensory overload. Eliminating reflections will help ease you through that. No worries about scaring yourself when you catch sight of your morning hair in the mirror. No cats to run by a glass door at night and make you think a wild animal is prowling on your patio. No catching movement from the corner of your eye and trying to calm down long enough to realize it’s just yourself walking past a mirrored vanity. The other reason this is a good thing is that mirrors can be used as doorways. Covering all those mirrors for three days will close any possible entry points for wayward spirits. It eliminates some of the bumps in the night.
The second thing I did is one of those Pagan kinda things. Trust me on this one. I used sage and salt to seal the house off from any negative energies or spirits. This is how this works. From the main door you use to enter the house, light the end of a sage stick so it smokes and go left (counterclockwise). Wave the sage around all the entryways, doors and windows. Say aloud: All negative energies are released from this space; this house is now mine and negative spirits are not welcome here; only light and love are allowed in my space. Make your way all through the house until you come back to that main door. Now take a box of salt and go in the same direction, sprinkling salt across the thresholds of any and all outside doors and in each of the four outermost corners of your house. Important*, leave the main doorway open or open the window to the screen if it has one. This allows any negative energy a path to leave by as you go through the house. And salt the main doorway last. Close the door and leave for at least fifteen minutes so the house can calm down. This also helps rid the house of bumps in the night.
Next, get some nightlights. The first two weeks in the house I slept with lights on in both bathrooms and my bedroom door open. It’s a bit much. Especially if you like to sleep in a really dark room. So get some inexpensive nightlights. I found some cute ones at the local dollar store. The change from fully lit room across the hall to having a soft blue glow in the other rooms took a few nights to get used to, but I slept much better.
Spread your stuff all around the house. This may sound odd but keep in mind I had almost a house full of stuff crammed into one room. Unpack, open boxes, hang pictures, spread out through your space and put something you’ve touched in every room. This helps put your own energy in the space. Your own positive energy will circulate throughout the house. You’ll feel more relaxed with your stuff around you.
Invite people over. Call your family and friends. Have people come over for dinner, even if it’s just take-out from the taco place down the street. Fill your space with people you care about, laughter, happy sounds. This helps build up positive energy in your space.
Lastly, stop making assumptions. Every noise is not a serial killer clown breaking in to kill you. Go ahead and get up to investigate. But learn the sounds of the heat or air conditioning kicking off and on, the pool pump, the ice maker, traffic patterns, the neighbor’s dog, the plumbing. And yes, it’s okay to laugh at yourself when you get jumpy. I scared myself half to death the first night in the house. I hadn’t had a chance to salt/sage or to cover anything. I was seeing a reflection in the stove door from three rooms away when the air kicked on. I jumped out of my skin. This was after fighting of Psycho flashbacks while I took a shower. Alone. After dark.
Go ahead and laugh. I did.
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.
There’s a lot of talk about separating the art from the artist when we find out one of our idols from stage, screen, or airwave has different views on some topic than we do. Those of you up in arms about Ender’s Game and Orson Scott Card know what I’m talking about. The truth is that each of us is entitled to our own opinions on politics, religion, sex, birth control, gender equality, all of these and more.
As fans, we do need to separate the art from the artist sometimes. Each song/book/painting/movie touches each of us in a unique way that only we understand. What we have to remember is that it happens for the artist, too.
I’m particularly into music. It feeds my writing ideas, both fiction and nonfiction. Sometimes it’s the phrasing of lyrics. Other songs it’s the feel of the music itself. And sometimes you find an artist that you just can’t get enough of. Everything they touch turns to gold. I have been addicted to music since I was a kid listening to my dad on the radio. Dad would quiz me on artist and title when we were in the car with the music on. I love everything from Albert King to Rob Zombie and back around twice more.
Of all the artists I’ve found in my 42 years, Dave Grohl is one of my all-time favorites. He has an appreciation for the music that more musicians need to develop. His love of music is so profound that he bought the sound board from the Sound City Studio to preserve the history captured in all those miles of wire.
Grohl personifies what music does to the soul. Watch the video for Pretender by his band Foo Fighters and you’ll see what I mean. Many of the bands videos include cheesy costumes and campy themes behind deep, heavy grinding rock beats. But Pretender starts slow, just a voice and a microphone. Then Hell breaks lose. Pretender has both those moments of intense quiet and raging, balls-to-the-wall energy that drags you through the song at mach 3 with your hair on fire.
Watch not just Grohl but the entire band in that video. The song would be intense even of there wasn’t a riot squad involved. That intensity is evident in everything Dave Grohl does. Sometimes it’s just under the surface, others it breaks free. It is always glorious.
Since learning to play guitar at age 12, he has become one with the music and its power. That’s the point where the artist is so connected to the art they become inseparable. When you listen to an artist of that caliber, it sets your soul on fire.
Not sure how I missed posting a review of book 1 in the Dead West series but I will remedy that instantly.
Those Poor, Poor Bastards is a zombie western following Nina Weaver and her father through a shambling landscape of supernaturally undead. The characters are well developed, showing a range of the human condition in all of its ugliness and beauty. Setting, dialogue, characterization and overall style are true to the western genre while offering up plenty of action to keep you on the edge of your seat. There is never-ending danger of being bitten, ancient bad guys, human asshats, and a stoic, hereo-esque type in a Stetson with two very large guns. All combine nicely into a crazy train that takes you on one helluva ride.
The Ten Thousand Things barrels down the tracks with just as much action as the first book. We see some of the same characters and a few new ones, all being reassuringly predictable and still surprising as events unfold, forcing them to change in subtle ways. The humanity of the characters is hard-fought amid the shambling horde and shines through beautifully. The authors stay true to their western style while giving us a sex scene, a first use of native spiritual magic that is stunning, and a surprise at the end that I expected and still was surprised by.
I would recommend both of these books. Hopefully the third in the series will be out soon. My favorite lines so far:
Nina smiled and reached out to touch her Colt 1861 Navy where it rested just inches away. Hard iron in front, an iron-hard man behind. She was covered.
A writing pal of mine posted on his Facebook page about an anthology he was doing and I have to say my first reaction was “EW!” Zombie Erotica?! Really?! I have no hesitation in admitting that I don’t read horror, and I generally do not like zombies. That being said, my curiosity and love of erotica got the better of me. I asked contributor Tim Marquitz if I could do a review. Here are a few highlights…
Stacey Turner has done an excellent job editing a diverse group of stories. Fifty Shades of Decay opens with the brief and titillating Rabbits by Guy Anthony De Marco and does not let up. Hey, Girl by Erik Williams was quite funny while LOUP by Pepper Scoville brought to mind the gritty self-recorded footage of reality TV shows while offering an enticing way to calm the shambling horde.
Alex Chase’s Subject Zero-Zero shows the cold beauty of death. Ménage a Trauma by Dan Larnerd warns against slumming at two-star hotels. Wednesday Silverwood’s Angel of Mercy offers a kinky kind of karma. We get an interesting take on human cattle in Blaze McRob’s Perpetuation of the Species. The grind of Hollywood is portrayed in John Palisano’s Some Like It Rot; SPOILER: there is a cure!
Two of my favorites include Meat by Tim Marquitz, where we see the joys and dangers of eternally horny undead; and Benjamin Kane Etheridge’s sadly erotic The Z-spot. Last but not least I have to mention Jolie Chaton’s Pretty Kitty’s Post-Apocalyptic Porn Palace where even in the face of apocalyptic change human nature will find an opportunity to turn fortune in its favor.