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Sunday, May 30, 2010

Memorial Day Weekend

Hello, Fire Enthusiasts. As many of you are aware, I had a major review come out on my novel, Dance on Fire, this past week. So excited was I, that I originally intended on leaving that information up for the rest of the year. Ha! I'm kidding. Seriously, I was planning on leaving the information up for a little while.

Unfortunately, I can't.

I could not, with clear conscience, continue on as if nothing of significance mattered this weekend, except my writing.

Too many have died.

Friday afternoon, I left the job of my choice and began my long weekend. Three days off where I could do exactly as I wanted. Saturday afternoon we joined family and celebrated the graduation of three members of the family: one from college and two from high school. Sunday morning we got up early and attended church services out in the open. We did not have to sneak around and hold secret church in the basement of someone's house. We then, on a whim, jumped into the SUV and headed to Yosemite National Park; a place we had never visited even though it is essentially in our backyard here in the Central Valley of California.

This has been my weekend so far. Not once did we have to ask anyone's permission to do any of these things. This has been possible because we are free.

This freedom hasn't come cheaply. Men and women of this country, as well as a great many others, have fought and died, standing between us and those who would deny us this freedom. They died so that we might write and share our stories, but out of respect for their sacrifice, and out of appreciation, I set down my pen and push in my keyboard.

We'll talk soon.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Dance on Fire review

Attention Fire Enthusiasts. Our novel was just reviewed by Mr. Andrew M. Boylan of Taliesin Meets the Vampires and can be read here. I recently read his novel, "Concilium Sanguinarius", which I thought was brilliant. I can say that now, right? He's already reviewed me and it's too late to change anything! With his constant reviewing of vampire literature and film, he has made himself one of the preeminent voices on vampires on the 'net.

Please use the link above to read the entire review on his blog. I will share his following comment: "The book itself, writing wise, reminded me of horror novels from the 70s/80s. The language used...was welcome as a departure from the dark urban fantasy that is currently vogue and also fit the cop story aspects well. Garcia would then spin the book towards a more cobweb festooned horror fantasy when describing the events in Romania. There were occasions Garcia would throw in a phrase that was so wondrously descriptive that the word poetic springs to mind. Occasionally I felt that characters took things a little too much in their stride and an even deeper exploration of the emotions of some of the characters might have balanced that aspect but generally Garcia created three dimensional and filled out characters."

I just want to thank Mr. Boylan for having taken the time to read "Dance on Fire" and for giving me his kind review.

We'll talk soon.

Friday, May 21, 2010

In Memorium

For those who have been following for a while, you will remember me mentioning how important music is and has been in my life...

In 1983, I was 14 years old and was just beginning to enter what I would refer to as my formative years. It was then that I would begin to discover reading when I came to realize that I was drawn to horror novels. At the same time, though I was born into a house that listened to Johnny Mathis, Gene Pitney, The Righteous Brothers, The Supremes, etc., I took a wood shop class in junior high school where the long-haired dregs of humanity, as I lovingly refer to them, began to influence me with their hard rock music.

Though I knew who Kiss was because of their notoriety, I knew nothing about the discovery that I was about to make. One might say that it was peer pressure that ultimately drove me, the fact of the matter was that I took to this new music: hook, line and sinker.

Soon, I was growing my hair long, too, and listening to Ozzy, Iron Maiden, Scorpions, Judas Priest, Sammy Hagar, Quiet Riot, Def Leppard, Van Halen, AC/DC and Black Sabbath, to name a few. I had yet to hear anything about Led Zeppelin (that would not come until Phil Collins introduced me to his three friends in Philadelphia at LiveAid in '85). Eventually, I would go backwards and discover The Doors, Jimi and The Rolling Stones. Later, new bands would come: Night Ranger, Motley Crue, Ratt, Poison, Great White and all the rest of the hair bands.

One of those that I listened to during these teenage years was Ronnie James Dio. It has been nearly a week now since he has died, and I have spent quite a bit of time, reminiscing about all of those lonely, unbothered times spent lying on my bed and escaping to all of that music. Although not yet a Christian, anything remotely considered Satanic by others had no effect on me. Whether it was or wasn't, I did not pay it any attention. I think most of us now realize that anything pushing boundaries was simply attention getters. I remember a news magazine on television one night where the topic was heavy metal music and its affect on young minds. My mother turned to me and warned me never to bring any of it into her house. The funny thing was: I had already done that; I owned nearly every album that was shown!

No, it was only the music. I was drawn to the fantasy world of the songs. And being a skinny, long-haired rock n roller, and having no girlfriends, I identified with all of the loved and lost lyrics. I would say that it was both the music and the horror novels that equally worked to form the writer that I would become.

As I said, I have spent a lot of time this week thinking back to those teenage days in my room, flanked by posters of the metal gods on every conceivable wall. I found the man that I would become there; I experienced loves and its loss there, well before I had ever been kissed; and I learned to dream there.

We have lost others during my lifetime, but most of those were from misadventure. This was natural causes. My heartfelt sympathies to Wendy and the entire Dio family.

Thankfully, though his tongue has been stilled, we still have his music. In the song, "Stars", for the Hear 'N Aid charity project, Ronnie wrote: "We are magic in the night. We are shadow, we are light. We are forever, you and I..."

We'll miss you, Elf, and pray to meet you again in some far away day.

We'll talk soon...

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Sunday Morning Musings

Greetings, Fire Enthusiasts. I hope everyone is well and having a great weekend. I've come to you this morning to tell you about a little book I just finished reading, entitled, "South of Broad".

Pat Conroy, you son-of-a-gun, you did it again! And I hope you won't make us wait another 14 years for your next one.

I won't bore you with a new synopsis, but simply give you what the Publisher listed on the jacket: "Against the sumptuous backdrop of Charleston, South Carolina, South of Broad gathers a unique cast of sinners and saints. Leopold Bloom King, our narrator, is the son of an amiable, loving father who teaches science at the local high school. His mother, an ex-nun, is the high school principal and a respected Joyce scholar. After Leo's older brother commits suicide at the age of ten, the family struggles with the shattering effects of his death, and Leo, lonely and isolated, searches for something to sustain him. Eventually, he finds his answer when he becomes part of a tightly knit group of high school seniors... The ties among them endure for years, surviving marriages happy and troubled, unrequited loves and unspoken longings, hard-won successes and devastating breakdowns, as well as Charleston's dark legacy of racism and class divisions. But the final test of friendship that brings them to San Francisco is something no one is prepared for."

I never wanted to read Pat Conroy. I'm a horror guy. I grew up reading Michael Slade, Stephen King, Clive Barker, etc. When a family member encouraged me to read "Beach Music" 14 years ago I asked her whether anyone died in the first chapter. It turned out that someone had, but by leaping off a bridge and sending her husband's life spiralling out of control. It wasn't exactly the grizzly murder scene that I was hoping for. In any event, I read the book. If you have not read of my adoration of that book, not only will you, but no doubt it will continue to pop up in blogs over the course of however many years the Good Lord has allotted for me. Yes, it is that good. Brilliant, even.

Next, my complaining turned to utterly disappointed preparations. What? Allow me to explain. I would then tell my wife that I would never read another Conroy novel because there was no way in the world that it could possibly be any good compared with the masterpiece that was "Beach Music". One would think that I would have immediately rushed to the book store to purchase every title in the Conroy catalogue, but no. So brilliant was that home run of a book, I was scared to have my memory of it ruined by reading another of his, which could conceivably land in the shortstop's glove in short left field (sorry, I'm a baseball guy, too).

Eventually, however, I did succumb to temptation, sinner that I am, and read another: "The Prince of Tides". I liked that one, too, but immediately felt the same doubt begin to creep in: "There's no way he could be that good; he's gonna fly out here pretty soon and end the game!"

Well, guess what? He's that damn good! In fact, a home run derby champion!

Okay, enough about baseball.

Let me tell you a little bit about prose. There are some writers who attempt to reach a better score on the readability chart by adding words that people have only stumbled across in dictionaries. As you read their wordy and mistimed sentences, you trip and fall over yourself as you try your best to follow along. This gentleman's voice is one I have never heard before, but believe in from the word: go. His sentences bring to mind what it must be like to dine at the White House during a state dinner, with the perfect silverware, the embroidered linen napkins, the finest of china and foods prepared in ways that I have only read about in culinary magazines.
At one point in the novel, the characters have lived through the real event of Hurricane Hugo, and Mr. Conroy writes: "I return to a hurt city with the sound of chain saws echoing over the alleyways and cobblestones. Squat brown Dumpsters line the streets of the old town as workers fill them with waterlogged furniture. Whole libraries have died on their shelves and bookcases. Paintings of the founders of the colony find themselves tossed on junk heaps, sodden beyond recognition of hope of restoration. The shrimping fleet of Shem Creek has disappeared from the face of the earth. The corpses of sleek yachts lie marooned in the green flanks of the great salt marsh."

The next thing that Pat Conroy does so brilliantly is perfectly weave his plot lines. "Beach Music" had more plot lines than one could count, yet ended tied in beautiful and perfect little knots, and "South of Broad" is no exception. The novel begins with Leo as an friendless eighteen year old as fate suddenly conspires to give him a great circle of friends that will last him well into adult-hood. We then find ourselves transported to present-day where that circle must band together once again for a common goal. As the story continues to unfold, we go back to the time of their youth, as a great many things are explained and revealed in the present-day; things that scar them all forever; and some are destroyed by them.

I have had some tell me that I, too, write pretty good prose in my fiction. To that I say, thank you, but be on your way because Pat Conroy is the master and has set the bar way too high. Reading his stories makes me equally want to be a much better writer, as well as to want to abandon the whole enterprise and go back to my day job.

I'm kidding, of course.

Mr. Conroy is brilliant and gifted in a way that I could only hope to be, and his latest novel, "South of Broad", proves it. It may not have been enough to knock "Beach Music" off it's perch as my favorite novel, but it's very, very good.

We'll talk soon.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Sunday Morning Musings

Hello Fire Enthusiasts, today is May 9th. Does anyone know the significance of the date? Yes, I know it's Mothers' Day; we'll get back to that. If you've read anything about my novel, "Dance on Fire", then you may recall that this is the time of year where the city of Kingsburg, California celebrates its heritage with the annual Swedish Festival.

Next weekend marks the 45th year, and as always, there will be a parade on Saturday, a pea soup and pancake dinner downtown on Thursday, a smorgasbord dinner on Friday, etc., etc., etc. There's really a lot to see and do for all ages.

A couple of years ago we almost had to cancel the whole thing after those two police officers were found brutally murdered. Okay, calm down. Fact just bumped headlong into fiction there. Of course, I'm talking about the novel again.

In the novel, about ten days before the start of the festival, two of Kingsburg's finest were killed. Their blood and been completely drained. Soon, another body is discovered. Eventually the body count got so high that the festival was nearly lost. Our mayor, in her first year of office, panicking that her career might be over before it began, was coming down pretty hard on the Chief of Police as if that might help him catch the killer any quicker. Police Detectives Michael Lopez and Mark Jackson were doing their best but it wasn't easy considering that there were more than one vampire loose in their fair city.

If that hasn't yet convinced you to check out the book, then consider the following: there is blood and lack thereof; Christian themes (one of the vampires is a good guy and may not be out of God's kingdom after all); a bit of romance (the good Vampire meets Mrs. Michael Lopez and the both of them are smitten); and the story takes place in a real town just before a real event which is next weekend.

Perhaps we'll see you there.

Now, it is also Mother's Day today. Happy Mother's Day to all of you with children or who care for other's children. Thank you for all of your tireless efforts. It should actually be Mother's week, should it not? In any event, I hope that you get some time for yourself today, or if being surrounded by your children is what the doctor ordered, then I hope you will be and you enjoy it. Luckily for me, my own mother is close enough so that I can visit her, as well as my Grandmother.

Have a great weekend and a great week.

We'll talk soon.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Sunday Morning Musings

Happy Weekend. I chose the above picture because it is one of the alternate covers of Led Zeppelin's "In Through the Out Door", and whenever I get a chance to talk about the mighty Zep-I'm going to! The other reason was because it was a depiction of someone drowning some sorrows. Not to say that I feel like doing the same thing, but I do find myself caught in a "waiting for something to happen" mode.

Everyone who has read my novel seems to come back to me with a word of praise or encouragement for what I have managed to accomplish (with the help of Gaynor, my trusty editor and publisher). Unfortunately, not that many have read the novel, as far as I know. I believe that at least two of my fellow bloggers will be reading "Dance on Fire" and publishing their review sometime this month, but in the meantime, I must wait.

It isn't all that I'm doing, of course. There's Facebook and Vamplit Writer's, etc.

In any event, rather than climb into a bottle like our friend on the album cover, I thought I would ask how others manage to get through these in between times. So I ask you: what do you do? How do you handle the waiting? Do you immerse yourself in your writing? Do you get away from it all? What?

I'm one of those who can very easily climb into my shell and keep everything inside. Are others of you similar? So, you see, that's what I thought we could do: share our stories.

If nothing else, and we get enough of us, perhaps we'll all take a chair at that bar and share that bottle.

That way we can all still walk away when it's time to go home.

I'm curious to see how others handle these moments.

Have a great week. We'll talk soon.