I Got A New Book!

…and right now, I need a new book like I need a hole in the head. I have too many lined up to begin with, and I need to get some actual writing done.

But, as author, fellow Maine-iac, and story spinner once said…

If you want to become a writer, you must do two things above all others; read a lot, and write a lot.

-Stephen King

I didn’t want to make this, although every so often, I need to do something to shake me out of apathy.

I was going nowhere with the first draft of my latest story. Then, one day KABLAM! Instant distraction.

Also, since WordPress made it possible to put videos in posts now, I wanted to check it out.

Now that I got it out of my system, back to work.

Thank you for indulging me.

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Motivation Monday: Halloween Edition

Maybe it’s the time of the year.

Maybe it’s because I haven’t posted anything in over a week and I needed to stretch out and do something before I lose more followers.

Maybe it’s because I re-opened my t-shirt shop with a couple of new designs, and one of them was a design that I’ve been preparing for a couple of months, but it wasn’t completely finished until I found a technique that woke it up a little bit and I’m probably going to reapply this technique on future designs.

Like it? Buy it here.

Maybe it’s because I could stop saying to myself, “It’s only a matter of time before they reboot this” when I recently heard the news that they are finally remaking The Crow. My only hope is that they will be closer to the source material this time. Nothing against the movie, I had the movie adaptation on video. Watched it so much that the tape broke.

Maybe it’s all these things that prompted me to make today’s post, but since it the season for all things horrifying (Ebola hysteria notwithstanding), I thought this quote was particularly motivational.

“The Crow” was an independent comic produced in the late 80s. It’s a dark series involving darker characters and even darker story line that was inspired by truly unfortunate and even darker, real events. I’ll spare any spoilers for the one or two of you who haven’t read it yet. I will say that the antagonist of the story isn’t the most virtuous of souls. He is, however, one of the most tortured. Vengeance does that to a guy…especially for a guy that just came back from the dead to kill the people that killed him and his fiancé…

Anyway, today’s motivation quote appears at the end of the book, as the hero returns to the afterlife reunited with his beloved. This quote has always stuck with me. First, in a paint-my-fingernails-black-and-listen-to-The-Cure-while-I-lock-myself-in-my-room kind of way. But later, especially in these days of striking out on my own, I’ve reinterpreted it as a way of saying, “it ain’t over, till it’s over”.

Nothing is over until you say it is. Nothing. Not your life, your love, your wisdom, your empathy. Nothing. Yes they may come with bullets and crude weapons, they may come with a “cease and desist”, they may come and liquidate your entire department while promising you that if another position opens up, you’ll be the first in line and then 8 months later, advertise for that position in the want ads and “forget” to CALL YOU AND OFFER IT TO SOMEONE ELSE. ARE YA HAPPY, YA BASTARDS?!!!

….sorry….

While you still draw breath, you still have a chance. Poker players refer to this as “a chip and a chair“; so long as you have those two things, you still have a shot at the jackpot. It ain’t over till it’s over. Don’t give up. You still have a shot and so long as you are still walking and talking, you have a chance. You’re not dead yet.

It’s only death if you accept it…

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The Kids of Saint Anthony I-03 (Flash Fiction Friday)

The Kids of Saint Anthony I-03 (Flash Fiction Friday)
Photo by Primowalker

The growing cacophony of hoots, hollers and laughter of children at play contain this magical ability to render the thickest concrete walls invisible. A phenomenon not lost on Emily as she blindly navigates the familiar hallways of Saint Anthony’s with Sister Mary striding along beside her. Without looking up from her folders, she could tell by the various shrieks where she was and where she was heading…

Screams. Laughter. Red Rover colliding with Red Light/Green Light. The sound of sneakers and basketballs hitting pavement: The play area. If we keep going this route, next should come…

A chorus of “Our Fathers”: Sister Agnes’ class. That means we’re heading towards the dorms.

The dorms always made her cringe. The area where the older children, mostly boys, were left to their own devices, and the pack mentality that drives their primal urges that haven’t been fully purged from them. Entering this area was to subject anyone to taunts, bullying, unwanted and unwelcomed advances, the language of the streets. This is The Jungle. This is the landing area where the good is carved out of the evil; The first level of The Divine Comedy. Although age and wisdom has prepared her, although her eyes and ears have bore witness to some of the worst that mankind has to offer, even these many years later, she would still steel her soul, take a deep breath, and prepare herself to cross the threshold into The Jungle. “Courage, dear.” said Sister Mary as she consoled Emily with a boney touch. She could feel her fear. She always could. She would always remind her. Any minute now, the calls of horny, prepubescent boys would start staining the atmosphere. Any second now, the walking, talking, drooling by-products of Lust and Rage would come with their dirty hands and dirty mouths. Any moment now…

Silence. Not a breath. Not even the whoosh of a door opening or the creak of its hinges as it finds its resting position. Only the echoing sound of their feet marching down polished tile. It’s one thing when The Jungle was alive with noise, at least you could tell where the danger was. The hallway was lit, but it seemed like the air was sucked out of it. There was a stillness, even the years of obscene graffiti carved for posterity in indelible marker was pale. This wasn’t The Jungle that Emily remembered.

This was much worse.

“Well,” blurted Emily desperately trying to add some life to this ghost town of a hallway. “This isn’t the place I remember; it’s a lot less…lively. Where are the boys? Where is anybody, for that matter?”

For a brief, very brief moment, Sister Mary’s smile withered but was miraculously revived as she told of the bitter reality of running a day to day business. “Oh. Well dear, the funding from the Church wasn’t as much as it has been. It was around the time where…you know what…happened.” To this day, the shock that some in the Dioceses let their secret, carnal inhibitions loose on innocent children is just as fresh as the day she heard it screaming from random televisions and splattered across tabloid headlines. It is the Event That Shall Not Be Named. “Soon after the lawsuits, there just wasn’t enough to pay for the settlements and keep every orphanage operational at the same time.”

“Oh no,” said Emily stricken with genuine concern. “Are you closing your doors? Is the church liquidating Saint Anthony’s?”

“No, not yet, thank God,” said Sister Mary as she cast her eyes briefly skyward. “The budget constraints were just enough to cripple us, not kill us. We had to relocate a few of the Sisters a couple of months ago, and I suppose a few more of us might be heading the same way soon. But the real tragedy, dear?” She paused, took a breath, leaned in and lowered her voice to a confidential, confessional whisper, “The real tragedy is that the state has taken possession of the at-risk children. Don’t get me started on that. Some Godless bureaucrat thought it would be more cost effective if the children were “processed” rather than “cared for”. They had a better chance here than in some jail for toddlers…”

“I guess that would explain the lack of all the children,” said Emily, attempting to stop the freight train of a Nun’s rant from speeding out of control.

“Yes, it would appear at the moment we have more room than we need. Still though…” she flicked a switch at the other end of the hall which illuminated the rest of the way. “I suppose it might be to our favor in regards to the children you have there,” she said as she motioned to the folders in Emily’s hand.

“What do you mean?” asked Emily half expecting the children to be the spawn of Hannibal Lecter or something.

“Normally, we would separate the special needs children from the rest. But, since we brought these children in…this case was something that had us all… a bit puzzled.” Sister Mary paused before opening the door. “You mentioned something before about finding the children’s birth parents?”

“Yes.”

“They have no parents. None that we could find. That’s the first thing. The second thing is their condition. I hesitate to call it autism, because I’m not entirely sure that’s what they have.”

“Yes,” said Emily leafing through her paperwork. “Their medical records are spotless, their cat scans show high brain activity, and yet…”

“And yet,” Sister Mary continued, “They don’t respond to stimulation. It’s almost as if they’re lost in their own world. Usually, there would be curiosity among the rest of the children, but not so much this time. They don’t venture out of this room, save to go to the bathroom or eat. Which isn’t unusual, but they seem to prefer each other’s company over other people.”

“Which isn’t too unusual either,” said Emily. “So what you’re saying is that they are autistic, but…not?”

“Like I said dear…puzzled,” and with that, Sister Mary opened the door to the children’s room.

Whether she has planned on it or not, Emily’s life has always revolved around children. From her time here in these halls, to her training in her occupation as a social worker, to her continued interaction with children that still need help, to the brief moment in time where she was a mother herself, she is always about the children, and keeping them safe. She was born with an intuition and empathy, it was psychology that she had to learn. With autistic children, nothing can be forced. You cannot yell, scold or become impatient. With autistic children, you must observe. Silently. Any disruption to their routine could literally destroy their whole week. Be silent. Be patient. Observe. This is what Emily has learned. None of that seemed to matter as she walked through the door.

A young boy sits at the edge of his bed opposite the door having a serious, one-sided conversation with no one in particular. At the window on the far side of the room, a young girl transfixes on a finch perched on a tree branch. Completing the triangle in the opposite corner, a girl, noticeably older than the other two, sits among pages and pages of notebook paper with a variation of a circular design on each one. “We have done all we could to reach these beautiful children,” whispered Sister Mary. “I called upon you to see if you knew what we’re dealing with. We need your expert advice.”

“I’ll see what I can do, Sister,” whispered Emily. Somewhere along the line, “First, do no harm” crept into her daily life and applied itself into everything she does. When it comes to sensitive situations such as this, she has no choice but to do so. Don’t speak, just observe. Just observe their expressions, their attention spent on on object, how they handle a change in environment.

It is said that the greatest journey begins with one step. In the case of Emily, it was to ascertain first: what the children looked like, and second: what they do. One step. One foot hitting the ground, and all at once, the phantom conversation was put on abrupt hold, the finch flittered away, and concentric circles obsessively ground into notebook paper in crayon stop in its tracks. Not one word was spoken. Barely a move was made, and yet the fragile atmosphere was gently shattered by one footstep, as if she stepped on a frozen pond. Having made herself known in no uncertain terms, three sets of young, beautiful and haunted eyes lock on the stranger in the room, and study her.
©2014 The Writers Bloc/Anthony Payson

 

My review for Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children, # 1)Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My thumbnail review for Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children? It’s the book for people who understand or have heard of Harry Potter, Dr. Who, and The Avengers, but don’t necessarily care about any of them. Just when you thought all realms of all possibilities have been exhausted in terms of imagination and story telling, along comes author Ransom Riggs and offers his vision of a world that exists just beyond our own. A living, breathing world that has been under our noses for an eternity. Riggs has a talent for building tension and constructing an almost legitimate world that could plausibly exist without too much backstory. My only issue with this book was that it was too short. It was a quick read that was helped along by a plot that moved as fast as freight train rolling down hill.

The other issue I have is one of the reviewers featured as an endorsement for this book is quoted as saying something to the effect of, “not your typical children’s book…” The protagonist is in his late teens who may have been diagnosed with a depression disorder, his parents are apathetic caricatures, the story incorporates shades of the horrors of World War II, and there’s a little banter early on in the story between the main character and a random friend of his that involves a rather unsavory, but no less un-funny, remark about the other one’s mother. Now, overlooking the fact that this reviewer can’t discern the difference between “Children’s Books” and “Young Adult” literature, my question for this so-called reviewer is, what kind of children’s books have YOU been reading?

Anyway, it’s fast paced, deeply moving in parts, and a wonderful genesis story for a series that will be the delight of many. Well done.

My oldest daughter yanked this out of my hands as soon as I was done with it…she hates reading.

View all my reviews