Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Both of these pieces were inspired by a dear friend Karyn. I thought I'd share them, for those of you who like poetry.
Unrequited love, at 5:53am
Shivers down my spine,
And I start giggling,
When I'm unguarded
And I hear people say her name.
I feel like there's this snow globe
Of my love for her
And a happy place inside
That once I shake it,
To get the snow going,
Will all shatter
But I know when she walks in a room,
Even when my back is turned.
I know when she leaves a room.
And I know when she's happy,
I know when someone's making her
I can hear her laugh in a loud room;
Pick hers out in a crowd.
I have not been dishonest.
I am a friend to her.
But if I'm completely honest,
I may no longer be allowed
To have even that piece of her.
…and some really good things
came out of the deaths.
My aunt was a woman that taught literature,
And was cool as hell,
Seemed like she was proper
Most of the time.
Seemed like my secret.
Her memorial service
And former students spoke,
And I realized
She was a secret
I shared with the world.
Monday, May 30, 2011
Even though my mind is fading I can still taste her lip-gloss. It’s a little thing, I know; one of the many things about Anya that always sticks in my mind. The way she twirls her hair when she’s nervous, or how that hair smalls falling around my face when she’s above me in bed. All these are the things I know are gone forever, but I just can’t forget.
I pull the trigger, releasing her - Putting an end to the jerks and twitches of her body.
Nothing could have ever prepared me for this. We’ve been together since our second year of college. Fourteen years over, quite literally with a bang, not a whimper.
Outside the steel double doors I can hear them scraping and pushing, trying to get in. The painful groans from their vacant mindless bodies are the worst. I couldn’t let her become like that; let her suffer that way. I had to do it.
My vision is growing dimmer and the dull rush in my ears is almost as bad as the silence when the band on stage stops playing, before the crowd has time to roar. I don’t know how long I have left until I’m like them, but I have to do something to make her death – our death – worthwhile.
This building was an auction house a few decades ago. It’s been sitting, mostly vacant, for more time than I even knew Anya. We’d even talked about buying it once, to turn into an independent community theatre. I hate to think about destroying it now, but maybe I can take enough of them with me that Billy and the kids across the street at the dealership can get out of here safely.
(Thoughts, opinions, and feedback welcome)
Saturday, May 28, 2011
I never stop writing, because I can’t help it. I put down at least 10 pages a day, of something. It’s a habit I’ve gotten into over the last few years. It has served me well, and I couldn’t stop now, even if I wanted to.
I read more than I write, but lately I’ve been exploring different genres that I otherwise wouldn’t normally pick up. My reading has also ranged from “New/Self-Published/Indie Authors” to ‘Professional/Big Publishing House/Big Name”. I’ve noticed something in my recent reading that I think is worth discussing, only because I keep seeing it, and I’d like to hear what others think about it.
My favorite books have always been the ones with the most vivid characters; the real ones. They have depth, emotions, desires, and flaws. There are reasons for what they do, and they are capable of acting outside their normal motivations – with internal consequences for those actions.
I’ve got a problem with “Paladins”, and “Bad guys”, who seem to act only on what they are not who they are. A good guy, riding a white horse, who is good because he’s good, and always does the right thing because it’s right? Boring. A bad guy, riding a dark horse, who is bad because he’s bad, and always does the most evil thing because it’s evil? Equally boring.
People, humans and otherwise (depending on the genre and story), should all have personalities they reflect all the different shades between black and white. Selfishness can lead to “evil” actions, but so can fear, so can a desire to protect someone or something outside themselves. “Good” can be only skin deep, due to a need to be praised (selfishness), or to hide a deeper flaw or emotional wrong buried in the character.
In the end I guess, this is just a rant about surface writing. I may sound like a snob but I want to read characters that are each as deep as, or deeper, than then the plots they are involved in. Is that too much to ask for?
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Where do I even begin? Have you ever finished a book and been really pleased with the story, but wanting to immediately read more of those characters and that world? Yeah. It’s like that.
Olivia, the main character of this book, is part of a coven that defends against the evil Venators. Sounds a little cheesy, right? I honestly laughed at this when I read the book description. I’m not ashamed to admit when I’m wrong. I was very, very wrong.
Olivia is sharp, cunning, and deeply emotional. Her life is a wild one, and has left her a little worse for wear, but her soul shows through in so many ways. Not only does she have this massive power within her, she is also delicately feminine.From the second paragraph of this book I was drawn into her as a character. Her voice in this story has a beautiful truth to it even if the story is one of fantasy.
Due to circumstances in her life, Olivia is (like most great characters in fiction) at a kind of crossroads in her life. She’s chosen to go in a direction that is away from what has been her “norm”. She goes to live with regular people, something she knows nothing about.
There is romance of course, in the form of bad-boy Jackson, but I really don’t want to get into that. Girl finds bad-boy, sparks fly, we’ve seen that before. Let’s just say that it’s there, and it’s real. (There’s another guy too, but not really, ya know?) There’s also plenty of fights and action, and truly interesting “bad guys” in this story, and they were handled well. But spoilers are not my thing.
Spencer's writing is both level and almost poetic at times. You can actually feel the scenes as much as you can see them. Well written, is an understatement. I don’t normally do Paranormal Romance. I usually stick to darker stories of the paranormal. This was worth it. There were things about it that I think would be made better by the editing staff of a major publishing house, but Sammie Spencer definitely has the raw talent and brings the goods to the table in this offering.
I recommend Amaretto Flame to anyone who’s looking for a good paranormal story, and a romance that’s not just like everything else in the marketplace.
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Wow. Kurt Vonnegut is easily my favorite author. Hands down, bar none. 'Welcome to the Monkey House' is really beyond my ability to explain. I guess it was too much to ask that this book be able to match it, seeing as how it's full of works that were not published while Kurt was alive.
All I really got out of most of this was Kurt's hatred of war, in all forms and at all times. The quality of work here is seriously uneven. All that holds true is the passionate anti-war message as flow through.
I'm really not sure if all the work contained in this anthology was of a quality meriting publication. I love Kurt too much to say that it wasn't, but I can't say this is among my favorite works of his. I guess even Kurt wasn't always on top of his game.
Monday, May 23, 2011
Over the last month I’ve found myself more and more in the company, both in person and online, of writers trying to make the leap into publication. No matter what kind of book they’re writing, fiction, non-fiction, poetry; they all tend to say some of the same things. After a few dozen times of hearing the same things said, and knowing that I have said most of them myself, I figured I’d use the platform I have here as a way to reach out and send a message, for what it’s worth.
1) “I don’t think my writing is good enough to get published.”
How do you know? Seriously. Are you an expert? If you are a literary agent for a living, or work for one, you might have a leg up here, but almost every writer is their own worst critic. Why don’t you just go ahead and find an unbiased peer group to review your work, and grow a thick skin. After all, they’re not all going to like everything you write, but taking the criticism well (assuming it’s constructive) could make your writing more than good enough for publication.
2) “I write a lot, but I can never seem to finish anything.”
Now that is a hurdle. I know a lot of people who write a lot, but have never finished a book. I really don’t want to think about how many half-novels I have on my computer and in notebooks littering my house.
Drive and focus are really all that I can suggest here. Just keep driving. I’ve heard a lot of people tell me about their writer’s block, and to a degree I understand it, but I don’t let it stop me. I’m never writing just one project at a time. I always have 4 or 5 things I’m writing at once, and if I get hung up in one, I’ll put it aside and begin working on another.
3) “I wrote a book (or books) but I don’t know what to do with them.”
This is the easiest question to answer, but it also has the most right answers. Get your work edited. By that, I don’t mean your Aunt Flo who taught English for a year. Get an editor.
Once you have that done, self publish, or begin submitting or writing query letters. It really is just that easy. There are dozens of paths here to choose from though, so find someone who has taken the road you want to take and ask some questions. Don’t be pushy or rude, but what does it hurt you to ask?
Don’t be afraid of rejection either. It’s going to happen. Sometimes a lot. Expect it.
4) “My First book is coming out (with a publishing house or self published) but I’m really nervous and I don’t think anyone is going to like it.”
You’re not Neil Gaiman. You are not Stephen King. Hell, to a degree, they aren’t either. Their names are bigger than they are. They are real people, too. I’m willing to bet that they’ve both had their fair share of flops and rejections before they succeeded big. They also likely have a lot of unfinished works as well. What they have over you primarily, right now though, is that they didn’t quit. They never gave up. Because of that they found success. (And yes, they have boatloads of talent too. But who’s to say you don’t?)
At the core of every writer is someone who has something to say, no matter how important, and they want it to be well received by others. How can you expect people to support, and buy books by you, when you are unproven and unknown? You could suck, right?
This is like the age old conundrum of not getting hired for a job because you don’t have experience, but finding it impossible to get experience without getting hired for a job. You can let yourself get caught up in that, if you’d like. In the end, however, everyone goes through that. If you are ever going to be successful, the first (serious) step comes in letting yourself be.
Assuming you’ve done your homework, and a lot of leg work, and more writing than you ever thought you’d do in one lifetime, you’ll go far. You’ve had good unbiased peer reviews of your work and an editor, and your feedback is positive, then you just have to jump in with both feet and hope.
At the least, you've had a good time putting your story together, and nothing can take that away from you. Nothing else really matters.
You did something most people will never be able to do. You finished a book. That alone is massive. If you had fun doing it, all the better. Remember, it doesn’t matter if it’s published by Penguin, or by you, it’s still out there for the world to enjoy. You’re story has taken flight. How awesome is that, right?
Sunday, May 22, 2011
I gave this book 5 out of 5 stars.
I’ll start this off by saying that I didn’t realize going into this book that it was part of a larger series. I know, I know, it was on the cover. I’m oblivious sometimes. That being said, I think this book works without having read any of the books before it, and it works well. Tangled Threads seems like a novel that has been adapted from a graphic novel, and I love my graphic novels.
Gin Blanco is an epic “anti-hero” (think Wonder Woman crossed the Black Widow, mixed with mutant powers and an MO similar to the Punisher. I’m a dork, live with it) that does so much more than just kick butts and take names, she is a relatable character.
The book has a well crafted, fast paced, stylized plot, but that’s not all. It also boasts wonderfully written action scenes, and emotional grounding elements (serious relationships that actually ring true – like the one with her sister). I will be completely honest here and say that I didn’t really feel the depth of character in Elektra, the gun for hire that stands in opposition to Gin, but even with that the story itself held up marvelously and the cat and mouse/kill or be killed interplay didn’t suffer from it one bit.
I was so impressed with this book that I also had to blog separately about the author, and I fully intend to go back and pick up the rest of the series. I won’t say it’s a “must read”, but I will say you are worse off not having read it. It’s just so damned much fun.
- Dennis Sharpe
Tangled Threads on Goodreads.com
Tangled Threads on Amazon.com
Saturday, May 21, 2011
Basement of St. Mark’s Cathedral
The room isn’t packed for the Tuesday night AA meeting. There are more people than usual, but still not a full house. There are a lot of bloodshot eyes with the requisite dark circles under them, and even more nervous twitches. It’s an anxious room, full of forced acceptance. A short, stub of a man is just standing to address all the not so eager faces. He looks as though life has started, only recently, to eat him from the inside.
“Hi. My name is Joseph Tolliver, and I am an alcoholic.”
There’s a moment of silence and then a dull, apathetic chorus returns with, “Hi Joe.”
That’s my little brother Joseph. He hates being called Joe. But we all have those little things we hate. You know, just get under your skin. One of mine is people who act like experts on any subject you happen to be talking about, from ballet to basket weaving. I guess that stems from my hatred of lies and liars in general. Talk about irony, huh?
Sorry. I’m losing focus. That’s my little brother Joseph. He got Dad’s name, poor kid. I got stuck with Luther, but I don’t mind so much in comparison. I remember Dad a lot better that Joseph does. He was only ten when Dad went away. Even at that age he was old enough to want to be Joseph, not Joe. He understood guilt by association.
This little kick of group meetings is something new brought on by Joseph’s girlfriend Amanda. She’s an alcoholic and, God love him, Joseph tries to be as supportive as he can.
“I guess I started drinking as a way to escape. It was just too much for me to handle after Mom died and my three little sisters came to live with me on the farm.”
For the record, Joseph is the youngest of three boys. Our mother is alive, well, and playing bingo in south Florida. He hasn’t had a drink since New Year Two-Thousand, and he’s never, to the best of my knowledge, even been within fifty miles of a farm.
He is a great liar though. If what they say about genetics is true, then Dad’s found immortality through his namesake. Normally I wouldn’t consider working with family. I’ve done it before. It’s always messy. But my best pitchman got pinched three weeks ago and need, or greed, has caused me to be a little more…open-minded.
The sounds of traffic on the street make it difficult to hear, as the members of the AA meeting file out into the brisk night air, but a rather loud voice catches Joseph’s attention.
“Hey Joe, got a second to talk?”
“What are you doing here? How did you find me?”
“Junior, you are as hard to find as a fat girl at a buffet.”
“I’m not even going to dignify…”
“Shut up. The deal is a one-time offer. It’s a six digit payday, an even split on a five man job. It’s two weeks work kid, and I’m shopping for a pitchman. You in?”
“No way. Luther, I can’t believe you! Asking this, after last time. You really are amazing. You truly have no soul.”
Last time. Right. Last time was in January of Two-Thousand. It was a sweet deal, but a little risky. Minimal contact, big take. Problem was that Joseph gets a little ‘shaky’ around religious people, and there were these three nuns…Let’s just say that it went poorly.
Joseph got a slap on the wrist, as a first timer, Time served and two years probation. He’s still miffed that I disappeared for a couple of years. Keeping a safe distance and all.
“Look kid, I’ll give you some time to think about it. I’ll be at the Paradise Inn by the Airport. Room two twenty-three. Call me.”
“Nice seeing you, Bro. Have a safe flight. Enjoy your little job, or jail, or whatever happens. Send me a postcard. My answer’s no.”
This is getting tired. He’s staring me down. Time to drop my ace.
“Shame, Jersey will be sorry to hear that you aren’t coming in on this one. Oh well, have a nice night little brother.”
Wait for it.
Wait for it.
With a shake in his voice Joseph replies, “Jersey?”
“Jersey’s still working with you Luther?”
“Yeah, but it doesn’t matter. I’ll tell her that you…”
“Two twenty-three, at the Paradise? I’ll call in the morning.”
One thing about that boy: He’s always been predictable. He’s had a thing for Jersey Fontana since he was sixteen. She’s never even pretended to like being in the same room as him. He’s got determination; I’ll give him that. Poor sap.
Now the problem is finding Jersey. I haven’t seen her in over a year, but it still shouldn’t be that hard. I know she’s in town. My boy, Jules, said she’s been coming around to fence a few rings over the last few months. It won’t be as easy to track her down as it was ‘boy wonder’, but I think I can manage it.
I gave this book 5 out of 5 stars.
I have read, and reread, this book. Over and over. It keeps me laughing and engaged every time I read it. On one hand it is very well crafted and lofty for those of you who took the "classics" lit courses at university. On the other hand it is sharp, and barbed, and even quite base in it's wonderful humor (to appeal to all who have a sense of humor).
I can honestly say that as a writer, a reader, and as one who simply appreciates good story craft, and can get lost in the telling... I will be recommending this book to any, and every person I come across for some time to come.
- Dennis Sharpe
Dante's Inferno (A Comedy) on Goodreads.com
Dante's Inferno (A Comedy) on Amazon.com
Sunday, May 15, 2011
I'm at it again! Become a character in my next Jolie Wilkins book, Be Witched!
The super fun part of this contest is that Be Witched will be published by which means your character will show up in stores all over the place! Imagine that!!!
Saturday, May 7, 2011
Share this with any, and everyone!
I gave this book 5 out of 5 stars.
I must confess that I had very high expectations for this book. I went into reading it with epic hope that contained in this work I would find words like those of the greats of literature meeting a modern day approach. I was not disappointed. I will not say that I cared for all that the book contained. However, what I did enjoy, I enjoyed greatly. I would recommend this to anyone wanting to take an emotional journey. Not alone, but with the author as a guide. It's not always comfortable or pretty, but it is well worth the trip.
- Dennis Sharpe
Empathy/Sympathy on Goodreads.com
Empathy/Sympathy on Amazon.com
From the awning over his head came a steady drip, drip, dripping falling onto the suitcase in his left hand. He looked like a poorly rendered political cartoon with the oversized case jutting painfully out from under the dry safety of the stoop into the torrent of wind and rain.
All that he owned was in that suitcase. This was what he had been reduced to, in the course of just one night. Today he’d had a job, a car, an apartment, and a life. Tonight he stood without anything, save the suitcase by his side, watching reality ‘melt’.
“Jeffrey, you silly goose, you’ll get your clothes all wet.” Amelia’s voice lilted as though the sound had come from a dulcimer, not the pale young sliver of a woman standing in the doorway, “Come inside before you catch your death or mold!”
“Of cold,” He mumbled, correcting under his breath, turning to face her, “your death of cold.”
As he staggered through the doorway, still in the daze of post-traumatic shock, the lights flickered showing the room for the rundown condemned wreck he’d assumed it would be. The rotted holes in the wooden floor gave way to a darkness that he briefly mused could swallow what little life he had left. The room smelled of too often moistened drywall from just below the faded peeling paper. The storm outside had come in to have tea, as it trickled down through the Swiss cheese roof.
Jeffrey dropped his suitcase abruptly, causing a loud thud, and raised his hands to de-speckle his glasses. After another look around, through dryer eyes, his heart sank. Nothing had changed, as he’d hoped it would. Depression began to ooze from his pores, in a sweaty enveloping film of entropic, organic decay. This was the bottom, he thought to himself.
“Welcome home Jeffrey.” She chimed, “Dontcha just love it? We can live here forever. Isn’t that just fantastical?”
He let out a deep sigh, and softly began to weep.
“Everything looks better in the light of a new day” Amelia said, mere inches from his face causing him to wake with a start. Moving back from her violation of his personal space he found himself suddenly among a pile of empty food cartons and discarded wrappers on the decades dirty floor. This did not look better to him.
“I made you some breakfast.” She announced, presenting a plate and glass from behind her back. She sat them down in front of him ignoring his bewildered look, and continued, “It was hard to find things around here to eat; it must have been a while since anyone else lived here. Things will all be different once we have time to plant a garden.”
He stared at her and then the dirty cracked plate sparsely covered in vegetation for a moment before shifting his gaze to the broken glass, a large piece missing almost halfway down one side. He looked back at her, rubbed his eyes, and blinked in disbelief.
“Rainwater. It’s very good for you. I collected it for you this morning while you were sleeping. Her smile still amazed him. He had to be with her. When she looked deep into him he had no question that she was worth more to him than all he’d left behind. He just wasn’t completely sure if this was due to anything based in fact or reason or a result of his final descent into complete insanity.
“If this is where you feel safe we’ll stay here, but you have to let me try to fix it up a bit.” Jeffrey looked around the room, lifting the unbroken edge of the glass to his lips.
Thursday, May 5, 2011
The more I use Goodreads the more I realize just how many different and wonderful resources that site offers. I couldn't be more pleased with it. I'm sure over time I'll hit more little snags in the way they're set up that will annoy me (like the required chapter titling on their writing section), but overall I am in awe of their site.
Now it's back to coffee and revisions on 'Domestic' and 'Distant Thunder'.
Monday, May 2, 2011
Small-town life can be hard for a dead girl...
For Veronica Fischer the night to night life of a bloodsucking madam in Middle America is tough enough before she adopts Rachel Gregory, an eight year old ghost.
After her house is set on fire, and Rachel disappears, all signs point to foul play. When she finds herself with a hit out on her unlife, and warrants for her arrest, it becomes clear she's going to need help.
Now she has to contend with horny zombies, violent spirits, and murderous grave robbers if she's ever going to find Rachel and discover the awful truth of the coming storm.
of the lecherous undead.
"Unique for this, my favorite, genre." - Tammy Vonderheide, 'Mena & Chloe'
"In a market flooded with vampire stories, I was not expecting much from debut author, Dennis Sharpe. I have never been so happy to be wrong." - darkfaerietales.com
"I loved how strong Veronica was, she didn't whine she took action. My kinda vampire! The story development, very rich & well done." - wickedlilpixie.com
"I'm surprised that a male author wrote this book from a woman's point of view, and did it well!" - Paranormal Opinion
"I freaking LOVED Veronica. She's sharp, funny and has a totally killer attitude... and she's a madam!" - Bookish-Brunette.com
"Sharpe’s writing is refreshing. I was so astonished that a man could write such a dynamic female main character that I repeatedly checked the cover to make sure Dennis wasn't a Denise. " - Book Sake
"It has action, mystery and a kick ass heroine" - The Book Nympho
Links to Blood & Spirits, Book One in the Coming Storm trilogy.
(links updated after the Jan. 20th 2015 release)
Listing on goodreads.com
The cinematic trailer for Blood & Spirits
The first chapter -