Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Recent Reads and Recommendations...

So... guilty confession: I've been reading less lately than normal. That’s not to say that I haven’t been reading. Oh, no. Never that. I've just been so busy that my reading time has been cut down quite a bit. 

Screen Cap of my 5-star shelf
It’s because of that that I feel I should share some of the new titles I've been reading… and what I've gone back and reread recently as well. You can consider these recommendations, from me… as I have rated these titles 5 stars (on Goodreads, because that’s where you tell the world how much you love books, right?). 

Nothing O’Clock, The Sandman, and Scribe could all be easily read in the time most people waste flipping channels in an average day… and they would be a much better use of that time. Need a quick read? Gaiman, Burke, and Whiteside all really deliver.

The Collected Dorothy Parker and Broken Pieces are titles from sharp and witty, well-spoken (or written) women geniuses. One is obviously heart wrenching and relatable and the other is equally moving the more you chose to learn about the author. Not novels, but books more worth your time.

Then there’s a book you can pick up any time and laugh. No deeper plot to get lost in, but always entertaining. In OMG my kids said WHAT? Wheeler will not disappoint you.

I read Space Shuttles in school, and knew that it was a great collection (put together by Isaac Asimov, so you know they’re quality), but I didn’t know how well they would hold up. Guess what? They hold up marvelously. As a collection, this one is gold… assuming you like science fiction, that is. Me? I do.

Need some deep reading? Intellectual exercise to  keep your mental processes in shape? The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap and The Luck of the Weissensteiners will give you that in spades… and they are both accessible! These books were both a reading experience. Fischer and Mahurin are rare talents in the modern writing community… both, I believe, born out of their time.

These are just a few… and just my opinions… take them for what they are worth… or, decide for yourself… give them a read!

-Dennis


_________________________________________
Upcoming reviews


Inheritance

by S.K. Whiteside

"Talk about hell on earth..." Sekhmet's life was pretty good; you know for a goddess. Her job was simple - kill those that sought to go against the creator. It was a job she was good at but unfortunately got a little too carried away with when she almost single handedly wiped out mankind.



Riftglade

by K.R. Jordan

If you stopped time in that instant before the ancient one was impelled by the Realm of Clouds to reach out and taste fate, you would see an amazing sight. If you hovered in the face of the masterpiece of light and color, you would behold the sorrowful expression of an exquisite fairy. Long red hair flowed out behind her as she flies.



Monday, December 16, 2013

Top 20 "Must See" Movie List





In case you weren't aware... I'm opinionated. Who knew, right?


Occasionally someone asks me for my opinion (though I usually share - asked or not). This time, however, I was asked... so... per request I have put together what I feel is a list of 20 films that everyone should see. 


It makes me sad that I couldn't put a Kevin Smith film on the list (however, I do feel you should see them all... yes that means Jersey Girl and Red State, but not Cop Out), but there were many fine Cary Grant films (like Father Goose, His Girl Friday, and North by Northwest) that didn't make the cut… My top 20 list is always evolving… but these 20, in my opinion, everyone should see. 


It's also worth noting, that these are my "Must See" movies... my "Favorite Films" list is a little different.



Dennis Sharpe’s Top 20 Must See Movie List : 

1) Swimming with Sharks

What's it about?
A young Hollywood executive becomes the assistant to a big time movie producer who is the worst boss imaginable: abusive, abrasive and cruel. But soon things turn around when the young executive kidnaps his boss and visits all the cruelties back on him.

Kevin Spacey and Frank Whaley both turn in A+ performances, and the ending of this film is a can't miss. 

(It also doesn't hurt that this is - hands down - my favorite film of all time)


2) Igby Goes Down 



What's it about?
Igby Goes Down is a personal tale about a 17 year old misfit boy who copes with his mother's cancer and his father's insanity by pursuing relationships with older women. Truly an intellectual, Igby is a modern day Holden Caulfield, and the world he lives in is far removed from the high standards of expectation he holds for it.

Every member of this ensemble cast brings their best. Jeff Golblum, Jared Harris, and Bill Pullman deliver truly stand out moments of cinema gold.


3) Donnie Darko 





What's it about?
Donnie Darko doesn't get along too well with his family, his teachers and his classmates; but he does manage to find a sympathetic friend in Gretchen, who agrees to date him. He has a compassionate psychiatrist, who discovers hypnosis is the means to unlock hidden secrets. His other companion may not be a true ally. Donnie has a friend named Frank - a large bunny which only Donnie can see. When an engine falls off a plane and destroys his bedroom, Donnie is not there. Both the event, and Donnie's escape, seem to have been caused by supernatural events. Donnie's mental illness, if such it is, may never allow him to find out for sure.

The strange way this film is structured and filmed are haunting and beautiful The director's cut and the theatrical release are similar, but very different films. I find myself drawn to watch this film again, and again.
"Sometimes I doubt your commitment to Sparkle Motion."

4) An Affair to Remember




What's it about?
Handsome playboy Nicky Ferrante and beautiful night club singer Terry McKay have a romance while on a cruise from Europe to New York. Despite being engaged to other people, both agree to reunite at the top of the Empire State Building in six months. However, an unfortunate accident keeps Terry from the reunion, and Nicky fears that she has married or does not love him anymore. Will he discover the truth behind her absence and reunite with his one true love, or has fate and destiny passed them by?

This is *the* love story. Any other film... from Love Actually, to Say Anything... wishes it was this one. Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr are stunning, and the sophistication of the age of this film really brands it and sets it apart. Don't cheat yourself... romantic or not, this is an amazing film.

5) Boondock Saints 





What's it about?
Two Irish brothers accidentally killed mafia thugs. They turned themselves in and were released as heroes. They then see it as a calling by God and started knocking off mafia gang members one by one. Willem Dafoe plays the detective trying to figure out the killings, but the closer he was to catching the Irish brothers, the more he thinks the brothers are doing the right thing.

I really didn't see this film coming. It's similar to a few others... but there aren't any exactly like it, and its moments like the one with the cat in Rocco's apartment are absolutely priceless. Norman Reedus and Sean Patrick Flanery are really good here, but David Della Rocca is an amazing standout.

6) Labyrinth 





What's it about?
Young Sarah is left home alone by her parents and she has to babysit her little brother Toby. But the baby keeps crying and Sarah, while telling him a story to make him sleep, inadvertently conjures from a fantasy world the Goblin King who steals the child and brings him to his castle in the middle of a labyrinth. Sarah has to rescue him before midnight, or the baby will became a goblin... "Forever".

This 1986 classic is just as good now as it was when I was nine years old. The music is as wonderful as David Bowie's hair and cod piece are frightening. You really can't go wrong with this Henson-house gem.

7) Suicide Kings 




What's it about?
Ex-mob boss Christopher Walken is kidnapped by a group of four kids in a haphazard attempt at paying the ransom for another, separate kidnapping. Complexities arise as the group cannot seem to do anything right.

If you watch this film for no other reason... Denis Leary's role as Lono is well worth the time. Seriously.

Besides, Christopher Walkin as a duct taped mob boss with a pinky finger cut off by trust fund kids is just priceless.

8) The Princess Bride 




What's it about?
A kindly grandfather sits down with his ill grandson and reads him a story. The story is one that has been passed down from father to son for generations. As the grandfather reads the story, the action comes alive. The story is a classic tale of love and adventure as the beautiful Buttercup, engaged to the odious Prince Humperdinck, is kidnapped and held against her will in order to start a war, It is up to Westley (her childhood beau, now returned as the Dread Pirate Roberts) to save her. On the way he meets a thief and his hired helpers, an accomplished swordsman and a huge, super strong giant, both of whom become Westley's companions in his quest.

You should really read the book as well... but the movie is almost as good. What Mandy Patinkin and Wallace Shawn bring to their roles is undeniable. A movie that is quoted more often (be myself and my closest friends, anyway) than near any other... and with good reason - it is very well written.

9) Arsenic and Old Lace 





What's it about?"This is a Halloween tale of Brooklyn, where anything can happen - - and it usually does."
Mortimer Brewster is a newspaperman and author known for his diatribes against marriage. We watch him being married at city hall in the opening scene. Now all that is required is a quick trip home to tell Mortimer's two maiden aunts. While trying to break the news, he finds out his aunts' hobby; killing lonely old men and burying them in the cellar. From there it only gets worse.

Funny and macabre... cute and cunning... this film should be required watching for all screen writers. Cary Grant and Peter Lorre turn in shining performances, but Raymond Massey steals every scene he's in. 

10) Clue 




What's it about?
Clue is a movie based on the popular board game. It's about 6 guests, a butler, and a maid, who are all involved in the murders of 6 people. The guests all meet at Hill House, where you learn that Professor Plum works in D.C., where everyone else lives. Colonel Mustard is a client of Miss Scarlet, who is the ex-employer of Yvette, the maid, who had an affair with the husband of Mrs. White, etc. When Mr. Boddy, who is blackmailing each guest, gives the guests each a weapon, he tells them they should kill Wadsworth, the butler, to avoid being exposed. With Mrs. Peacock's craziness, and Mr. Green's clumsiness, the whole group finds themselves tangled in a web of murder, lies, and hilarity

Every performance, every shot, every ending (yes, there are more than one) is spot on. Tim Curry proves, again, that he is worthy of being called a legend.

11) Pump up the Volume



What's it about?
Mark is an intelligent but shy teenager who has just moved to Arizona from the East Coast. His parents give him a short-wave radio so he can talk to his pals, but instead he sets up shop as pirate deejay Hard Harry, who becomes a hero to his peers while inspiring the wrath of the local high school principal. When one of Harry's listeners commits suicide and Harry- inspired chaos breaks out at the school, the authorities are called in to put a stop to Harry's broadcasts.

12) The Dark Crystal




What's it about?
Another planet, another time. 1000 years ago the mysterious Dark Crystal was damaged by one of the Urskeks and an age of chaos has began! The evil race of grotesque birdlike lizards the Skeksis, gnomish dragons who rule their fantastic planet with an iron claw. Meanwhile the orphan Jen, raised in solitude by a race of the peace-loving wizards called the Mystics, embarks on a quest to find the missing shard of the Dark Crystal which gives the Skesis their power and restore the balance of the universe.

13) Reservoir Dogs 




What's it about?
Six criminals, who are strangers to each other, are hired by a crime boss, Joe Cabot, to carry out a diamond robbery. Right at the outset, they are given false names with the intention that they won't get too close and will concentrate on the job instead. They are completely sure that the robbery is going to be a success. But, when the police show up right at the time and the site of the robbery, panic spreads among the group's members, and one of them is killed in the subsequent shootout, along with a few policemen and civilians. When the remaining people assemble at the premeditated rendezvous point (a warehouse), they begin to suspect that one of them is an undercover cop.

The soundtrack, dialogue, graphic detail, stylized world, original characters and (most of all - in my opinion) the ending set this film apart from other caper films. It's just astounding.

14) Dan in Real Life 




What's it about?
Single father Dan Burns dedicates his life to his children, but one day he meets Marie at a bookstore. They get to know each other, but then Dan finds out that Marie is actually dating his brother, Mitch.

The plot is simple. The film is anything but.

In turns it is powerful, moving, funny, and painful. Worth the watch.

15) Sabrina (original, not remake) 




What's it about?
Linus and David Larrabee are the two sons of a very wealthy family. Linus is all work -- busily running the family corporate empire with no time for a wife and family. David is all play -- technically employed in the family business but never showing up for work, spending all his time entertaining, and having been married and divorced three times. Sabrina Fairchild is the young, shy, and awkward daughter of the household chauffeur, who has been infatuated with David all her life, but whom David hardly notices till she goes away to Paris for two years and returns an elegant, sophisticated, beautiful woman. Suddenly, she finds she's captured David's attention, but just as she does so, she finds herself also falling in love with Linus, and she finds that Linus is also falling in love with her.

Far superior to the 1995 remake of the same name.

16) Neverwhere (It's a BBC mini-series... but I contend that it counts)




What's it about?
Richard Mayhew leads an ordinary life in London when one day a girl named Door falls, injured, across his path. The next thing he knows, his life is gone and he's pulled into the fantastical world of London Below. Pursued by the murderous Messrs. Croup and Vandemar, Door and Richard with the help of Hunter and the Marquis de Carabas, attempt to find the Angel Islington, who knows the secret behind the murder of Door's family, and possibly a way for Richard to go home.

17) Wuthering Heights (1939)




What's it about?
The story of unfortunate lovers Heathcliff (not the orange animated cat) and Cathy who, despite a deep affection for one another, are forced by circumstance and prejudice to live their apart. Heathcliff and Cathy first meet as children when her father brings the abandoned boy to live with them. When the old man dies several years later Cathy's brother, now the master of the estate, turns Heathcliff out forcing him to live with the servants and working as a stable boy. The barrier of class comes between them and she eventually marries a rich neighbor, Mr. Edgar Linton, at which point Heathcliff disappears. He returns several years later, now a rich man but little can be done.

There are other versions of Wuthering Heights, but the 1939 film captures the story best, I think. Merle Oberon, Leo G. Carroll, David Niven, and Sir Laurence Olivier... wow!

18) True Romance 




What's it about?
Clarence and Alabama are newlyweds who acquire an unexpected wedding present. Unknown to the blissfully happy couple, ruthless gangsters are on their tail, determined to reclaim their lost property. It's a bizarre thrill ride you just can't take your eyes away from.

The cast is huge for this Tarantino penned Tony Scott film. Christian Slater, Patricia Arquette, Dennis Hopper, Gary Oldman, Brad Pitt, Christopher Walken, Bronson Pinchot, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Rapaport, Saul Rubinek, James Gandolfini and Val Kilmer (as the ghost of Elvis Presley - Clarence's Mentor)... How can you go wrong?

19) Mirrormask 




What's it about?
In a fantasy world of opposing kingdoms, a 15-year old girl named Helena who works at the family circus with her father and mother, who wishes--quite ironically--that she could run away from the circus and join 'real life'. But such is not to be the case, as she finds herself on a strange journey into the Dark Lands, a fantastic landscape filled with giants, Monkeybirds and dangerous sphinxes. She must find the fabled Mirrormask in order to save the kingdom and get back home.

The Jim Henson Company and Neil Gaiman... need I say more?

20) Things to do in Denver When You’re Dead 


What's it about?
Jimmy the Saint's business is videotaping the terminally-ill, so that they will be around to give 'Afterlife Advice' to their survivors. He hasn't been doing too well lately and has had to turn to loan-sharks to accommodate his failing business, as well as his expensive personal tastes. When an evil gangster-overlord buys up his note and demands a favor of Jimmy, in exchange for the interest that he can't afford, Jimmy capitulates. Jimmy is to scare someone for the gangster-overlord--really rough them up. Without giving too much away, the scene goes down badly and Jimmy and his crew all end up with contracts on their heads for their trouble.

Dark, violent, and all-together unhappy... a film classic. 
____________________________________________

Note: His Girl Friday didn't make the top 20... but it's a solid 21... for dialogue, alone...
(It kills me not to have The Usual SuspectsMemento and Fight Club on here... ~le sigh~)




"More?" you ask, "What more could you possibly share with us?"

Well, dear reader... I always have more I could share, I just usually know better. Alas, not this time.

 As many of you also know… and mock me for relentlessly… I am a fan of musicals. 

I couldn't, in good conscience, put together a list like the one above and not have a list of "must see" musicals. It's just the way it has to be.

So... These are my top 10 musicals that I feel everyone should watch. At the very least you should rent the DVD… one viewing isn't going to destroy you, and they are *so* worth it. 



Dennis Sharpe’s Top 10 Must See Musicals : 

1) Pink Floyd: the Wall

What's it about?
The movie tells the story of rock singer "Pink" who is sitting in his hotel room in Los Angeles, burnt out from the music business and only able to perform on stage with the help of drugs. Based on the 1979 double album "The Wall" by Pink Floyd, the film begins in Pink's youth where he is crushed by the love of his mother. Several years later he is punished by the teachers in school because he is starting to write poems. Slowly he begins to build a wall around himself to be protected from the world outside. The film shows all this in massive and epic pictures until the very end where he tears down the wall and breaks free.

The acting is superb... the imagery is stunning... the music is unparalleled. There's nothing else I can say.  

2) Brigadoon 





What's it about?
Americans Tommy Albright and Jeff Douglas, on a hunting vacation in Scotland, discover a quaint and beautiful village, Brigadoon. Strangely, the village is not on any map, and soon Tommy and Jeff find out why: Brigadoon is an enchanted place. It appears once every hundred years for one day, then disappears back into the mists of time, to wake up to its next day a century hence. When Tommy falls in love with Fiona, a girl of the village, he realizes that she can never be part of his life back in America. Can he be part of hers in Brigadoon?

3) Phantom of the Opera 




What's it about?
Begins when an opera ghost terrorizes the cast and crew of the French Opera House while tutoring a chorus girl. He finally drives the lead soprano crazy so she and her friend leave. The girl is able to sing lead one night but the soprano doesn't want her show stolen so she comes back. The ghost demands they keep giving his protégé lead roles. Meanwhile, His pupil falls in love with the Vicomte de Chagny, but the Phantom is in love with Christine, his student. The Phantom is outraged by their love and kidnaps Christine to be his eternal bride. Will Raoul, the Vicomte, be able to stop this dastardly plan?

4) Jesus Christ Superstar 




What's it about?
Based on a concept album project written by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, and the subsequent long-running Broadway performance, this film tells the story of the final 6 days in the life of Jesus Christ through the troubled eyes of Judas Iscariot. More than just a musical, this film is a "rock opera." There are no spoken lines, everything is sung.

5) Rent 




What's it about?
This film adaptation of the Broadway smash tells the story of one year in the life of a group of bohemians struggling in modern day East Village New York. The story centers around Mark and Roger, two roommates. While a former tragedy has made Roger numb to life, Mark tries to capture it through his attempts to make a film. In the year that follows, the group deals with love, loss, AIDS, and modern day life in one truly powerful story.

6) Across the Universe 




What's it about?
Across The Universe is a fictional love story set in the 60's amid the turbulent years of anti-war protest, the struggle for free speech and civil rights, mind exploration and rock and roll. At once gritty, whimsical and highly theatrical, the story moves from high schools and universities in Massachusetts, Princeton and Ohio to the Lower East Side of Manhattan, the Detroit riots, Vietnam and the dockyards of Liverpool. A combination of live action and animation, the film is paired with many songs by The Beatles that defined the time.

7) Little Shop of Horrors 



What's it about?
Seymour Krelborn is a nerdy orphan working at Mushnik's, a flower shop in urban Skid Row. He harbors a crush on fellow co-worker Audrey Fulquard, and is berated by Mr. Mushnik daily. One day as Seymour is seeking a new mysterious plant, he finds a very mysterious unidentified plant which he calls Audrey II. The plant seems to have a craving for blood and soon begins to sing for his supper. Soon enough, Seymour feeds Audrey's sadistic dentist boyfriend to the plant and later, Mushnik for witnessing the death of Audrey's ex. Will Audrey II take over the world or will Seymour and Audrey defeat it? (It really all depends on which ending you watch.)

Far superior in every way to the 1960 Roger Corman film that spawned it.

8) Fiddler on the Roof 



What's it about?
At the beginning of the twentieth century, Jews and Orthodox Christians live in the little village of Anatevka in the pre-revolutionary Russia of the Czars. Among the traditions of the Jewish community, the matchmaker arranges the marriages and the fathers approve them. The milkman Reb Tevye is a poor man that has been married for twenty-five years to his wife Golde and she has blessed him five daughters. When the local matchmaker Yente arranges a match between his eldest daughter Tzeitel and the old widower butcher Lazar Wolf, Tevye agrees. However, Tzeitel is in love with the poor tailor Motel Kamzoil and they ask permission of Tevye to get married. He accepts, only to please his daughter. Then his second daughter Hodel and the revolutionary student Perchik decide to marry each other and Tevye is forced to accept their decision. When Perchik is arrested by the Czar's troops and sent to Siberia, Hodel decides to leave her family and homeland and travel to Siberia to be with her beloved Perchik.

While it is set in the (now seemingly distant) past... many of it's core themes are still very relevant... and the music is undeniable. 

9) Seven Brides for Seven Brothers




What's it about?
Adam, the eldest of seven brothers, goes to town to get a wife. He convinces Milly to marry him that same day. They return to his backwoods home. Only then does she discover he has six brothers - all living in his cabin. Milly sets out to reform the uncouth siblings, who are anxious to get wives of their own. Then, after reading about the Roman capture of the Sabine women, Adam develops an inspired solution to his brothers' loneliness.

As always, Howard Keel's voice is unstoppable in this over-the-top musical romp.

10) Yellow Submarine 


What's it about?
The Beatles, at the height of their popularity, made this cartoon of a land that is taken over by the Blue Meanies. They band is recruited by an escapee in a submarine, that is the film's namesake, to come and bring joy (and music) back to the land. The animation style is truly psychedelic, and much care went into insuring that the walks, and smallest mannerisms, of the individual Beatles are captured in this surreal cartoon musical.

-----------------------------------
11) Wicked (This should have, and would have, been the #1, but… it's a Broadway Musical... making its way around the country, on stages, as well...  it's not a movie. Not yet, anyway. Just because I have it on DVD, doesn't mean most people even know how to acquire such a thing… if you are interested, contact me privately and I’ll show you where I got mine.) 



So there you have it. My lists. My opinions.

If you have any questions about any of my choices, any input to offer, or any titles you feel I have neglected in my list… please, feel free to let me know. 


-Dennis

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Apocalyptic Holiday Giveaway!



So... I’m having a little celebratory giveaway! I’ve had a lot of personal victories lately, not to mention a lot of good reviews (and quotes from Destroyer of Worlds popping up all over the place... like the ones down below the cover art) and, well... I have just have to share my joy… it is the season for that, right? 

So, I decided that it’s time for another giveaway!

To show my appreciation for all the love that has been shown for Dave, Destiny, Roger, Mireille, and Miri... the Destroyer of Worlds herself… and in celebration of the holiday season... I’m offering 10 free eBook copies, 2 $5 Amazon gift cards; 1 $10 Amazon gift card!

Here's hoping this will brighten your day... like so many things have brightened my days recently!

From Instagram on Tumblr

All you have to do to be entered in the giveaway is post a comment on my Blog! (It really is just that easy.)


Can you enter yourself more than once? 

Why, yes, you can!

You can get more entries in the drawing by ‘friending’ or ‘liking’ or becoming a fan of my Blog, Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads accounts. 
From RPG Eyecandy

If you do those as well each counts as an additional entry and ups the likelihood of being chosen!

Just post a comment with your account name on those sites so that I can verify your additional entries. An additional entry can also be gained if you add ‘Destroyer of Worlds’ to your to-read list on Goodreads.com! You can get an additional entry as well if you Tweet about the giveaway, or mention it on your blog or your Facebook.



How many entries can you have total? Let's look:

1 for a comment on my blog
1 for following my blog
1 for liking my Facebook page
1 for following me on twitter
1 for becoming a fan on Goodreads
1 for adding ‘Destroyer of Worlds’ to your to-read list on Goodreads
1 for tweeting about the giveaway
1 for mentioning the giveaway on your blog
1 for mentioning the giveaway on your Facebook


That could mean as many as 9 entries to win! It’s easy, and awesome!
If you've already done all the above, then post that in your comment, it counts!
There will be 10 winners selected, and posted on my blog on December 25th!
This contest closes at midnight on December 24th, 2013, so you should act fast!

Thank you all for being so supportive. I’m very happy to be able to give back to you all!

Links to my pages:
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4808225.Dennis_Sharpe



***Update - 12/30/13***Winners Announcement***



Winners Announcement!

The Amazon Gift Card Winners are:

$10 Gift Card

- Melissa Tucker

$5 Gift Cards

- Julia Summers
- Shannon R


The Destroyer of Worlds eBook Winners are:

- Melanie M
- Gregory
- Misty Mickeletto
- Kim Gold
- I Miles
- Steve Weber
- R2
- Faeriegoth
- Daniel Pamperin
- Msqun

If the winners could drop me a line, I'll get prizes out as fast as I can.
Email me at:

DennisSharpe@DennisSharpe.com


Thanks to everyone who entered! I hope you all have a wonderful 2014!

-Dennis

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A Review - Nothing O'Clock



I gave this book 5 out of 5 stars.




The Blurb: 

Thousands of years ago, Time Lords built a Prison for the Kin. They made it utterly impregnable and unreachable. As long as Time Lords existed, the Kin would be trapped forever and the universe would be safe. They had planned for everything… everything, that is, other than the Time War and the fall of Gallifrey. Now the Kin are free again and there’s only one Time Lord left in the universe who can stop them!

Author Neil Gaiman puts his own unique spin on the Doctor's amazing adventures through time and space in the eleventh and final story in the bestselling 50th anniversary series!



This eBook short is an amusing triumph for Gaiman, Doctor, and Reader!

What can I say about this bite sized adventure without sounding like I'm a gushing fan boy?

It's beautifully succinct and well told. What more can you really ask for from a 45 page genre fiction short?

Not a single word was wasted, anything added would have been too much. Gaiman has proven his worth yet again, and succeeded in giving us a tale of the Doctor that aches for the screen. Clearly he should pen more episodes of the series - and for what that's worth, give us more Doctor Who shorts like this one.

I can happily recommend this to fans of Gaiman, fans of Doctor Who, or any reader who wants a well told bite-size work of science fiction.



- Dennis Sharpe



Nothing O'Clock on Goodreads.com

Nothing O'Clock on Amazon.com (kindle)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A Haunting Memory

This piece is from (un)SPOKEN. It's been stuck in my head for a while now, as has my longing for another night... at the No Exit, or Heartland... Back on the North Side. For what it's worth, I hope you enjoy it.




Bohemian Parking Lot
With Lake Effect Snow


The acidic flavor of loss
Equal parts bile
And orange juice concentrate
The hazy outline
Of a conversation
With blinding noise
Providing the backing score

This is where the company parts
While the rain comes down
Like a million spears
Thrown by a tiny army of tribesman
Bent on the destruction
Of my temples, if not my soul

Awareness, I am alone
It slides upon me
Draped like a silk sheet
There’s a comfort there
However thin and less than insulating
It may be
The chill spills through me

One pint less and I could likely think
At least join one thought into the next
Without the abruptness
Of rough cutting reality
Inhale the blades of air, so cold
It’s frozen hair to my face in chunks
Adding weight to close my lips

I can smell the exhaust of the car
It’s gone but that’s still here
In the parking lot of Yabo’s favorite bar
This is where it happens
This is where I finally seize the day
Test the fragile bond of life
Throwing myself at its boundary full force

Tomorrow a new day dawns
With the dark heavy clouds
Likely still hanging thick over the L stop
I’ll rise, dress, and coffee myself
There may be enough ambition in me
To shave my face
And dress in worker’s clothes

Walking to my platform I’ll pass the scene
Of tonight’s miserable performance
Only the briefest of moment’s thought
Will be given over
Taken from my bagel and cigarette
The memory will be a haze
And not worth the effort to recall in full

I will force myself not to look into the window
Of the Evanston sandwich shop,
Where you worked
Nor will I look to my right as I pass by
That house where we met
Smoking on the porch over idle chatter
The kind only strangers make with other smokers

The whole of the time I’ve known you will be made
To vanish from my mind’s eye
I will tell myself this lie, until I can believe it
And then I will have died
Or the part of me I most admire will have
Buried under so many wrappers, cartons, and papers
In an alley refuse bin that smells of the rot
I will so keenly feel

But for now I will dwell
I die, as I imagine giving into
A frostbitten death by exposure
And paramedics trying to peel off
The ice solid layers that surround me
I die alone
Because I couldn’t stand to be alone
And so, have driven away those who
Truly matter most 



From (un)SPOKEN, by Dennis Sharpe
copyright 2010

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Summer Scare Giveaway

Beat the heat this weekend with the chills of this short fiction/horror story...


'First Boy' 

Free on Amazon July 4th-7th (Kindle Exclusive)


Blurb:

Forrest County Sherriff’s Deputy Matthew Burroughs is having a bad day. First there was the cold winter weather, then a car accident on an icy bridge, and finally a routine stop to investigate a claim of neglected children. At an abandoned farm house in the middle of nowhere he finds a little girl and boy, and ends up dealing with far more than he ever expected.

Rated:

4.8 stars on Amazon and 4.67 stars on Goodreads

Excerpt: 

“He was born in Nuremberg in sixteen thirty-two.” The boy stopped putting clothes in his bag and looked at Matthew. “Can you even imagine what that must have been like, Deputy? Like a fairytale land. Like something out of a Terry Brooks story.”

“Keep packing. That was the deal,” Matthew said, pointing back at the large plastic bag. The boy sighed and turned, but kept his eyes on Matthew for a moment longer.

“His parents weren’t royal, but they weren’t poor either,” the boy continued, ignoring Matthew’s persistence. “They were educated for their time, with enough money to travel. You know, just to travel.  But on a trip, when he was twelve, his parents got themselves caught up in the English Civil War.”

The boy was picking up each article of threadbare clothing from piles in the corner, to hold them out in front of him, and then gently refold them before placing them in the bag just so. He was stalling, and Matthew knew it. He was probably just biding his time, waiting for just the right moment to make a run for it. Matthew wasn’t going to let that happen. Not on his watch, not in this weather, and most certainly not with Holly waiting on him.

“They were killed -- his parents I mean. They were killed, right before his thirteenth birthday, and he was ferried off to what he was told would be the ‘safety of London’ in sixteen forty-five. He was put in an orphan’s home, but an ambitious woman sold him to a blacksmith for the price of a pair of boots. He was the blacksmith’s slave for almost a year before he escaped, only to be gathered up as a ‘ne’er-do-well,’ and shipped to the colonies to be a bound servant.”

“I’m going to check on…her. Is she your sister?”

“Yes, she is. But not in a way you’d understand.”

Matthew did his best to look sympathetic. This kid still saw children and adults as being in an ‘us versus them’ situation. “Hey, I was a kid once, too. I know you don’t think grown-ups understand you, and what you’re going through. I’m not your enemy though. I’m here to help.”

Shaking his head slowly, he replied, “You really don’t get it, Deputy.”
___________________________________________________________

Click on one of the links below to claim your free copy...

First Boy on Amazon.com

First Boy on Amazon.co.uk

First Boy on Amazon.ca

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

A Review - Broken Pieces






I gave this book 5 out of 5 stars.





Baring your soul... reading from your diary aloud... all your fears, pain, sorrow, anxiety… dealing with death… standing completely naked, bathed in stark light, in front of a judgmental public eye.

The author does this with a natural, stumbling, honest voice. She shares with us more than most are comfortable with ever sharing and does it in a formidable, “in your face”, way.

There isn't an easy way to explain the experience of reading this work. Much of it doesn't read easily. By that I don't mean it is difficult to decipher or understand, but the emotional resonance of the work has a certain 'punch-you-in-the-face' brutal honesty that is rare to find.

As this isn't a work of fiction the depth of the work is far beyond light reading. You have been warned.

It's common for me to say, in reviews that write, that I don't give spoilers... and I won't give spoilers here either. What I will say is that there is raw, honest looks into the human condition, and it can, if you allow it to, affect you on a highly personal level.

I will happily read and recommend this work of truth to any and all who will read it. It is simply amazing.



- Dennis Sharpe



Broken Pieces on Goodreads.com

Broken Pieces on Amazon.com (kindle)

Broken Pieces on Facebook


Click here for Rachel Thompson's Website


"Cool Kids?" This is no cool kid.


I don't normally get involved in societal commentary on my blog. This is a case, though, where I didn't feel I could rightfully keep my mouth shut.



This guy, Mike Jeffries - the CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch said this:


"In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids. Candidly, we go after the cool kids," the clothing retailer explained. "We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don't belong [in our clothes], and they can't belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely."

That's a direct quote. Look it up if you don't believe that anyone could be such a jackass in this day and age.

My day was made then by Larry Wile, who posted this gem on Facebook as a response:

"To paraphrase: "Fat people suck," said Mike Jeffries, CEO of Abercrombie and Fitch. An acquaintance said the following which made me laugh. "Have you seen his face? He looks like Nick Nolte and botox had unprotected sex behind White Castle after a bee sting incident." I would agree with that assessment."

Was this a nice thing to say? No. Was it funny to me? Hell, yes it was.

It wasn't said by a CEO. No, it was the response of an offended 'person on the street', as it were, to the asinine comments of a CEO in a interview by the press. It was one of the people hurt by the public figures slurs trying to strike back... and it was funny.

What this led me to think about is all the talk of bullying in our media today. How many times I've read about kids who were bullied for one reason or another, and suffered in silence, hurt themselves, or ended their lives. Then I see this pop up in an interview, and in the news all over the place, and I see a rich man directing a major retail outlet who is not only promoting elitism that leads to bullying... but being smug and unapologetic about it.

Abercrombie & Fitch clothing isn't for the "not-so-cool" kids... it's only for the "attractive kids"...  and the kids with enough money to afford their inflated prices... and by buying their clothes and supporting this sort of corporate bullying (on an economic level, a social level, a class level, and other superficial levels) customers are telling people like Jeffries that his attitudes and behaviors are rewarded.

We want the kids of this country to realize that bullying is wrong. We want them to understand that discrimination is bad. And what do we show them that those sorts of attitudes and behaviors do for you? We show them that if you behave that way as an adult you can be a rich CEO of a company to help promote those same negative attitudes and ideals.

I don't even know if a boycott of Abercrombie & Fitch is enough for how strongly I feel about what this man, and his statement represent. This cannot be allowed to happen without blow back... without some form of "societal punishment". I have never before wanted to see the bankruptcy and complete failure of a company as badly as I do in this case (and granted, there have likely been as bad or worse before... but I was likely younger, more naive, or not yet a parent at that point).


I want to believe that people care enough about the anti-bullying talk, and enough about the children of the world, that they can come together and wipe the smug smile of this scumbag'd face. I'm boycotting Abercrombie & Fitch and will actively and verbally stand against them.

Who's with me?

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Publishing Fiction and Crossing Your Fingers (Observations From the Trenches)

Writing really is only about 5% of the work, and it really is the only truly fun part. The rest is all work.




I’ve been mulling over ideas for marketing lately, trying to find what I’m missing in my attempts to get my books in the hands of readers… and thus accomplish the elusive goal of “finding its audience”.

When the rubber hits the road that’s what every writer wants, right? I mean, of course, they want to get their work finished… and after that get it edited into its best possible form… and most want to see their work published… but what does any of that mean if it isn’t picked up and read by the audience it was written for?

I’ve spoken to Rachel Thompson, a verified social media success story with the publishing of her last three books, and from her I’ve gotten tips on how to streamline my approaches to social media in my (all important) “Author Platform”. Overall, what I’ve learned is that I am a creative writer and not a marketing wiz. These days authors are required to be both. It’s really not an option. Such is the way of the industry.

I had a conversation with a fellow writer, and friend, S.K. Whiteside recently that went like this:

_______________________________

S.K. : I'll be honest. The only reason you are not (with 'Blood & Spirits') a bestseller is because of the MILLIONS of "authors" out there right now. You are just getting overlooked. Hang in there. Persevere! It took J.K. (Rowling) nearly 20 years.


Me : I'm not a bestseller because I tell average stories... in a small sliver, of an over-saturated genre... I have poor cover art, and I use my own name (not a female pen name).

S.K. : Female pen names don’t sell unless you are doing romance. I agree about over-saturated, but it’s not the genre. It's the scene period.

Me : Female pen names sell in paranormal. Fact.

S.K. : EVERYONE is an "author".
_______________________________

 

This led me to further examine what I thought was simply an issue of marketing. Perhaps it’s just as much an issue of trying to stand out as that one awesome grain of sand on the beach; a daunting prospect to be sure.  

Do I still need a great paced story, well told, with fully fleshed out and original characters that speak in their own distinct voices? Yes. Do I still need good editing, and an eye catching cover that not only fits in on the shelf with other books of my genre but really pops as something a reader can’t pass by? Yes. Do I still need to market myself and my work, getting the word out about my release, my promotions, and make sure book bloggers and reviews have my work in hand to rate or recommend? Yes. 

The issue… the big, fat, punch-me-in-the-face issue is that all of that isn’t enough.


I also have to find a way, after doing all that (which thousands – if not millions – of other people are doing, and doing it just as well as I am) to stand out. I have to get noticed to get read. I have to get read to build my audience. I have to build my audience to get recommended to friends (and strangers) by readers who will want to come back and see what other tales I have to tell them.


What does all this mean to you, my faithful reader?

It means you’ve been warned. You’ve been informed, and therefore you’ve been armed with this knowledge.

The market for books, and eBooks for that matter, is densely packed. It’s not enough to be imaginative and talented anymore. From what I can understand it hasn’t been enough for a long, long time… but it’s harder today, and it’s going to be harder as every day passes.

Keep that in mind when jumping into publishing with both feet. People will tell you to expect rejection… but what they usually don’t tell you (that is just as true) is to expect to work yourself into exhaustion to earn your sales.


Don’t get discouraged by having to slowly grow your readership.  It’s a relationship you have to build… one person at a time. It’s not easy, but it doesn’t have to painful or make you crazy. 

Look at it like a crowded dance floor in the most enormous school in the world, packed with millions of 10-year-olds who want to dance with the popular kid and really fear rejection…  your book is a 10-year-old and the popular kid is the all-important reader.  How are you going to make sure your 10-year-old stands out, and gets noticed by that popular kid?


I'd also be able to read minds and see the future.
There is no universal answer. When and if you find the answer, rest assured that it will only work for you. Moreover, it may well only work for the current project you are marketing. But once you find it… and with it you find your audience… and you start to get the feedback that your work has earned from readers who understand and are moved to respond to it…  then all of that mind-numbing, backbreaking, tedious, awful , unforgiving work will pale in comparison. 

If you can stick it out and you find your formula to locate your readers… your people... it is so very worth it.
_______________________________

Places I recommend to help you along your way:

http://rebeccatdickson.com - Editor and writing coach.

http://www.ambrosia-arts.com/index.php/graphics-artist - Graphics and cover design.

http://badredheadmedia.com - Social media and author marketing/branding consultant.