Book Club Finish: Mexican Gothic

I know this is late, but I went back and relistened to some parts, just to make sure that the ending meshed with everything that had happened.

It did. I will probably read (well, listen since I have it as an audio book) this one again. It made it really hard to start another book, whether reading or listening.

This book was satisfyingly Gothic. It was dark, it was eerie, it was creepy, even a little gory at times, but it was sooooo good. To me, it clocked in just shy of horror (which I don’t really like), so I loved it.

Set in the 50s in Mexico, it is written entirely in third-person limited, which is my favorite pov. It allows for the misunderstandings and guessing that plays such an integral part of this story. It wouldn’t be half as creepy if you knew things beyond the main character’s knowledge.

As an aside, I see the mention of fungi in articles and documentaries everywhere now, and that creeps me out a bit. Overlap into the real, so to speak. Still love mushrooms on my pizza, tho.

If you like the Gothic tales of the 1980s, you will love this story. It is even creepier, and more adult, but considering our advanced age if we enjoyed those 80s books when they were published…I think that’s okay. If your teen wants to read, I suggest you read it first to make sure the adult bits aren’t more than they are ready for. This isn’t a one up from R. L. Stine.

Since I listened to this on audio, I thought I would mention the narration. It was well done, the Spanish words clear, and the subtle British accents of some characters just as well done. The narrator made it easy to know who was speaking even before the text tagged the speaker.

This story has eerie overtones that reflect on current events and opinions, and I had an inkling as to what was going on…but it was so much worse!

I won’t write too much more, as I don’t want to give anything away, but there is sweet romance in it, too, as well as misogynistic bad guys and the strong female character that leads you through this tale.

5 stars all the way!

Book Club

Amazon’s latest venture is Book Clubs, and for some reason, I got early access? That’s what it said anyway. The platform will be opened up to everyone later this year. Anyway – I set up a book club today. If you want to join me, click here: DreamPunkers Book Club. You just need an Amazon account; I think that will change in the future.

I plan for the book club to read indie and small-press published sci-fi and fantasy books (I mean, that’s what I write, so…), but it isn’t just about my books. I know quite a few indie authors, and their books are just fantastic, so I want to read them, and why not read them with you?

When we’re done (I haven’t added any due dates yet, but I will as we get moving through the books) we can come back here and I’ll post my thoughts on the books and you can share yours, too.

The first book we’ll be reading is Portals Book 1: Beliefs and Black Magics by Travis I Sivart. The premise for this adult fantasy series is that folx from our world, when on the cusp of death, are transported to a fantasy world and into the body of someone who just died in this world. I think it’s a bit like D&D on steroids, but there is a continuing story line through the series. There are already three books in the series, and they link to other books the author has written, so if you like it, it looks like there will be more when we’re done.

When you join the book club, you can suggest books for us to read in the future, all I ask is that they be sci-fi or fantasy and indie or small press. If we get too many suggestions (like that would be such a horrible issue to have, right?) we’ll come here and take a poll to decide what to read next.

Coffee Daze

I’m a coffee drinker. I like it strong, with creamer and sugar, especially with a hint of vanilla. My favorite creamer right now is Carnation Simply Bliss; it’s natural ingredients and not too sweet.

Even though I like cream and sugar in my morning wake-up cup, I still like it to taste like coffee.

So, when an author friend of mine, who also hosts a Twitch stream told me he had a branded coffee, I had to go and buy it. Just to try. After all, it’s coffee!

To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much from it, especially when it was a medium roast. I usually get a dark roast (you know, so it still tastes like coffee with cream and sugar in it).

But…it holds up to cream and sugar.

Here it is:

And if you want to try a cup, you can purchase it here: https://customlabelcoffee.com/products/vwwyxllbrlhdrdmlbwwrwjjh?variant=34405426069637?ref=TravisTavernTalk

Mourning Haiku

So on Monday, a friend let me know she was recently diagnosed with stage 4 cancer in the lungs and is foregoing treatment. She is older, and I can understand her decision.

My husband’s grandmother made the same decision when she was diagnosed over a decade ago with breast cancer at 82. She lived for a few more good years, without going through the sometimes painful and stressful treatment.

My mother, who died a couple of years ago, was only 62 when she received her diagnosis and nearly died–and her decision to undergo treatment was made by my brother (for the record, I would have made the same decision in that instant). We had six more years to spend with her, but the treatment was almost a year long and brutal for her. Her last three years was very hard as the initial treatment to save her life was radiation on the brain, and eventually caused early dementia.

I am eternally grateful for those extra years, though.

This news from my writing friend threw me. It is hard losing folx you love. I’ve lost more people to cancers, friends and family alike, than I ever thought I would when I was younger. I’ve lost a younger friend who battled breast cancer three times (I found out from the newspaper); three women from my church (two more who survived–so far).

My grandfather said once that it was hard to read the obituary columns when you recognize the names you see more than you don’t. I now know what he meant, the feeling he felt.

I don’t read obituaries. Not anymore.

And as I’ve discussed before, I write when I mourn.

This is a little different, as I’m mourning before she’s gone. Which may be easier–I know I have things I should say, and though she does not want visitors (talking causes coughing which causes pain), I have written some emails to her, expressing my joy at meeting her, reading her writing, and eating her wonderful Japanese cooking.

I’ve also let her know that I will deeply miss her and that my heart is already aching for her.

So, here is her poem:

For Midori

My aching heart hears
one last gasped breath of friendship
and you will be gone.

Sayonara

Blasts from the Past

Or maybe I should say, a poem (or three) from the past.

I was going through some boxes long packed away in the attic, trying to figure out what could go and what I wanted to stay, when I found some old journals from when I was a just-graduated high-school teen. I wrote (or tried to write) poetry back in those days, and even got a bit of recognition for them.

It was…emotional…reading some of these. They made me remember the awkward, angsty teen that I was. She was nice enough, but sometimes very depressed.

I even found a journal from when I was in my early twenties, newly married, then I lost my grandmother and had a baby. [Whew!] I’ll share some of these poems on a different day–the feel of these is very different.

Here you go!

Teardrops (December, 1987)

Drops on the windowpane
teardrops from heaven
falling silent and gentle
or violent with great wracking sobs.

~I added to this poem in February of the following year. I must have been feeling better by then about whatever inspired that first stanza.

Flowers growing in the meadow
–children of the Earth–
sprouting defiant and sure
or hesitant and wary like a child.

~I’d like to say this was an anomaly, these angsty bits of thoughts that might mean something, but this is a lot of what I wrote back then. I know it sounds like a cliche, but I think I wrote a lot of these poems to express the roiling emotions I didn’t know how to deal with. Not sure it worked…but I’m still around, so it must have done something for me.

Untitled (September, 1988)

all alone;
a solitary figure;
dwarfed by life’s problems;
overwhelmed

defeated;
a solitary figure;
bows under the pressure
enveloped by the passing tide

no one sees,
a solitary figure
disappear from the path
gone forever

never remembered;
that solitary figure;
hermited away
in solitude

of a kind–not happy

~Heavy stuff. Reflecting back, I don’t remember anything weighing on me that bad, but life is different as a teen. Everything is big and bold and in your face, especially the bad stuff. It can feel like things will never get better.

And then, there is this cute ditty that follows. I know the inspiration for this: an argument with my English teacher about what a poem meant. I stated that a poem means different things to different people, because the symbolism held in an image is not exactly the same for everyone. I damn-near failed his class, I think. And honestly, think about this: an image of a circle will not mean “eternal love” to the child of a single parent whose best friend’s mother is going through a nasty divorce. The image of a circle does not necessarily bring to mind a wedding ring! And if so, it might be tarnished!

Anyway…enjoy!

Ode to my Poem (September, 1988)

I wrote myself a poem, just the other day.
Funny thing about it, I didn’t know what to say.

So I searched my heart to its very core,
wrote down these words and nothing more.

It is such a sweet little thing; only I understand,
its deep and soulful meaning, written by my hand.

[My journal has this little note to myself in it after: I wrote this and it made me feel so good because it is good!]

A (cautionary) Tale of Two (maybe more) Ice Creams

I like ice cream. I’m not sure I can say EVERYONE likes ice cream, but a vast majority of us do. And for those of us who do, we usually have a favorite. Mine is vanilla — I like it plain, but I also like that I can add other flavors to it.

Now, I have a particular style (natural creamy) that I like best, as well a a favorite brand (Tillamook — I like their cheese, too).

Now, I would not say that I am a brand freak, but there are some things that I am brand loyal to, and for different reasons (Tide laundry detergent is one, because it is the only only I KNOW I will not have a skin reaction to). Tillamook creamy vanilla ice cream is one of them.

The hubby has his own items he is brand loyal to, but ice cream is not one of them. And for some strange reason, during this time of self-isolation, he has been buying ice cream on his way home from running errands. I know he thinks he;s being kind, providing me a comfort food. I mean, he’s been buying creamy vanilla — because it’s what I like and I know his favorite is strawberry or black cherry if he can find it — but in every brand but Tillamook. (Hubby quote ~ Do you know how expensive that is?)

Yes, yes I do. And it is worth every penny.

If there anything you buy brand name that you think is worth the extra cost?

Maverick Heart – by Pamela K. Kinney

Yes, I read this novella – I had to since I edited and published it. But honestly, it was a struggle to edit as I wanted to just read. The image above is a bit misleading – it is a novella, so it’s thinner than that – but sometimes one is stuck with what one has to work with to make an image.

The author, Pamela K. Kinney, is obviously a Star Trek fan, and her love of the series (and horror!) is evident throughout. As a bit of a Trekkie myself, I thoroughly enjoyed that aspect of the story. The trend toward horror was good, too; there is nothing gory in here, just good old-fashioned scare tactics. It was enough to get my heart pumping.

And though the author didn’t write it with romance in mind, there is a possible romantic b-story arc for those inclined to shipping.

Interested? It’s available as a digital download from the publisher (um, yes, that would be me) for only $1.99. But at DreamPunk Press, most of that will go to Pam.

/**/

Just Another Thursday…and Cabin Fever has Hit

During this time of self-isolation and social-distancing here in Virginia (I’m finishing week 9), this household just hit 8 weeks of three adults teleworking together. And today, the day before the end of week 8, tempers burst.

The hubby is the most social of all three of us, and I’m not surprised that he cracked first. He got on everyone else’s case about a stack of items in the entry that had been designated for donation just before the self-isolation due to COVID-19 hit.

There was yelling.

And I screamed back (shrill, voice cracking, the whole bit) reminding him that there is nowhere to take them.

I was surprised by my outburst – but I also understand it. I work as an editor, and I work best in quiet. I had a priority job to do, and his yelling was not conducive to me working. I’ve been feeling a bit of stress, not just about the regular work, but a couple of freelance edit jobs that I’m juggling right now, too. Yes, everyone is in self-isolation and at home, but I still have 8 hours of work to do to get my paycheck. (I haven’t made home-made sourdough bread, yet, or started a new hobby; I’ve just been trying to keep up with the old ones.)

The good thing is that once I screamed, he (and the just-an-adult kid) stopped yelling at each other. I think they both realized that I was not in the mood to put up with their Virgo BS this morning.

Hubby is chomping at the bit to go back to work. While he’s been social-distancing, he hasn’t exactly been in full self-isolation. He’s been helping a friend do some work on their house, and while it’s just the two of them, and hubby wears a mask, etc., this friend thinks the whole COVID-19 pandemic is a hoax.

!?!?!?!?!?!?

Yeah. he’s one of those friends. And every evening, when my hubby gets back from helping, the kid and I get an earful of frustration of just how misled this friend is. In fact, some extra frustration from last evening might have contributed to the outburst this morning.

Anyway, its good to remember that the temper flares and sniping happening now, aren’t going to last forever. Eventually, it will pass, along with the self-isolation and extreme social-distancing. Take deep calming breaths (altho’, those two were laughing and giggling at stuff only 5 minutes after the outburst); I needed longer to calm down.

But I did. Eventually. Mainly when I finished the edit job and could take a break from paycheck work.

And also remember, that while this is a time to be productive if you can, productivity isn’t a requirement. Sometimes, it’s enough just to get the job done, and not worry about the extra stuff.

So–Happy Thursday everyone. Let’s hope that’s a light at the end of the tunnel and not a firefly headed our way looking for the other end.

The [Marketing] Struggle is Real

You write a book. You edit the book. You get someone else to edit the book. You get a cover for the book. You publish the book.

And a pandemic hits.

All your publishing plans for your [YA contemporary] book fade away. Your plans were in-person and for brick and mortar stores and libraries, since your last attempt at digital marketing for teens went bust.

But that’s really the only option you have left.

You’d read the articles. You’d researched what to do and how to reach your potential readers [and their wallets…um…parents]. You had a PLAN.

A plan that you can’t implement. Oh, you’re probably still good for libraries– if the librarians are able to do their jobs in a pandemic. But…

And now, you are scrambling. You publish the e-book version early, you make e-books [including a pdf in opendyslexic) to offer straight from your publisher’s web site [http://www.dreampunkpress.com, of course], you even make activity pages [you can check those out here, if you’re interested] to try to help parents having to home school their kids all of a sudden.

And then you stumble onto a marketing opportunity, one that is free. You’ve done one before, for a different book, and you think it kind of worked before. Why not try it again?

So you upload your information, and with each glitch you try to figure out what went wrong [there is little direction on the site – I won’t name it and you’ll see why later] and eventually get it right.

You move on to the next step, and the next, making your author page and book page and even loading up a couple more books under another pen name you already had in their system. And there are more glitches.

And when you get ready to upload your files, you get an error [a 500 error to be precise] but nothing on the site tells you what it means. And you go to Google and do a search and find out its a server error. Probably the reason behind several of the other unexplained glitches you’ve experienced.

So all that work–better than two hours of inputting author data and double-checking your Pinterest (taramoe) and Instagram (@tara_moeller_69) and Facebook (/dreampunkpress or /taramoellerauthor) and Twitter (@taramoeller69) handles, and deciding which web site to send folx to, and…it’s all for naught.

You realize that you stumbled onto this opportunity late in the game–you only had until midnight to take advantage–and you sigh and shut down your computer and forget to make your blog post (you’ll get that one next week, LOL) and figure you’ll try again, only earlier than last minute [though you know in all likelihood, you’ll forget until then and do it all over that same way.

The struggle is real, folx. The struggle is real.

Watching Promare with the Kid

[And yes, I know it’s Thursday morning. This post should explain why I didn’t get it out last night.]

So, last evening, I watched the full-length anime movie, Promare, with my adult kid (check out their artistic endeavors over at Portfoli.Mo). They like anime and love this movie. I was supposed to go watch it with them when it was in theaters last September, but that didn’t work out.

First–the art in it is stunning, the colors used are just beautiful. Full. Bright. Just…I don’t know what other words to use as I am not an artist. I want to say saturated, but I’m not sure that’s right.

Second–all the characters have different body types. The females aren’t all busty and showing lots of skin; the males aren’t all muscular and manly looking. I love this. It represents real life better than some live-action movies in this aspect.

Third–the characters are…all different, too. They are all well-thought out and act consistent through-out the movie, unless the change in their action is due to character growth. Which happens, a lot. Which is good.

Last–the story line. Well, it’s sci-f, and since it is a full two hours long, it gets a little over-the-top in the end. But it is satisfying. It follows through on the over-the-topness with an ending that works.

While kids can watch this movie, be aware that there is death in it, and not just accidental. Mankind is being “human” and trying to wipe out what they consider a threat that they don’t understand, and aren’t bothering to try to understand. There are good guys and bad guys and truly evil people. But even the most evil character has a bit of a redemption arc. Not bad.

Look, it’s an anime, with all the tropes that come with most anime. But it’s well done. Just…be prepared for the ultimate idiotness of the main character. He’s consistent with it though, and (IMO) it stems from his truly good heart and desire to help others.

Bonus: There isn’t a romantic B-plot! I mean, it could. And there is s couple of instances where I thought it was going there…but it doesn’t. Which, really, is rather like real life, right?

I’m impressed. Kinda wish I hadn’t missed it in theaters. If you’re looking for something fun to watch during this self-isolation period, check it out.

More links for info about this movie:

GKIDS Films

Wikipedia

Forbes