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Monday, March 26, 2012

Of Birthdays, Lucky 7's and Base Spirits

Hello, Fire Enthusiasts. Before I get too deep into this week's post, I just want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart for your birthday wishes last Thursday the 22nd. My wife was away at a school track meet and my oldest was on the central coast for a high school band trip. That left my 14 year old and I alone to celebrate the day. My parents picked us up and we went to dinner, which was followed up by some great cake. Anybody like German Chocolate? I still have some left!

In any event, there is nothing like having your iPhone buzz all day long as about 150 people dropped by Facebook to wish me well. I'm 43 now for those of you who are counting. I teased some of my female classmates on FB. I told them how unfair it was that we went through school together, but somehow they're still 39!?! Thanks again, you guys. *hugs and kisses* For those of you sporting facial hair, here's a strong handshake. ;)

I have come before you many times over the past year or so, sharing some amazing reads with you. You may have noticed that I have never come before you to share a miserable read, and I promise you that trend will continue. If I don’t like the book, as we discussed a month or two ago, I will refrain from telling you about it. Truthfully, I may simply “pretend” to forget that I ever read the book, and leave others to decide its review fate. Until someone hands me money and commands me to give my opinions, I’m not doing negative reviews here, or anywhere.

Having said that, I just had a very interesting reading experience this past week that I would like to tell you about. It was interesting because for much of the experience, I found myself completely uncomfortable and disarmed. The novel was written through the points of view of two very interesting women, both suffering through spousal abuse or at least domineering husbands. It was uncomfortable subject matter, and there were seemingly only a few really likable characters in the whole thing. Half way through, I found myself wanting to quit. Why didn't I? I kept going for two reasons: the potential of finding out what would happen and because Ruth Barrett is a brilliant author.

Here's the synopsis of her novel:

‘Murder has took this chamber with full hands
And will ne’er out as long as the house stands.’
~A Yorkshire Tragedy, Act I, Sc. v

In 1605, Sir Walter Calverley’s murderous rampage leaves a family shattered. The killer suffers a torturous execution… but is it truly the end? A noble Yorkshire house stands forever tarnished by blood and possessed by anguished spirits.

Some crimes are so horrific, they reverberate through the centuries.

As an unhappy modern couple vacation in the guesthouse at Calverley Old Hall, playwright Clara, and her scholar husband, Scott, unwittingly awaken a dark history. Clara is trapped and forced back in time to bear witness to a family’s bloody saga. Overtaken by the malevolent echoes, Scott is pushed over the edge from possessive husband to wholly possessed…

Inspired by a true-life drama in Shakespeare’s day, this is itself a play within a play: a supernatural thriller with a historical core.

Only one player can survive.

I was not very happy with Barrett there for a while, and I want to strongly caution you. The book begins with the execution of Calverley in 1605 for his terrible crimes against his family. We are told of how he had killed his children. Later, as Clara supernaturally relives those terrible events, we actually get to "see" him do it. In Horror Fiction, there are times when children have been murdered, but few authors actually show it to you. Barrett was very brave to take this step. As a parent, I didn't appreciate those horrible moments, but I got through them.

I am positively reviewing this novel for two main reasons. Barrett writes with beautiful prose and she nailed everything that was required of an author doing a period piece. That's what got me through the unsavory subject matter of abuse, as well as the murder of those beautiful children. When Clara and her husband were in present day, we were there with them. It was present day; anyone could pull that off! More importantly, however, when Clara began seeing through Lady Calverley's eyes, Barrett was able to fully transport us there, too. She nailed the culture, the dress, the language, the pacing, the lifestyles - everything! I found myself thoroughly impressed with Barrett here, and am convinced that no one but a master could have pulled that off.

Ultimately, that is why I will be back for Barrett's future works. You can find the author on her blog here.

Lastly, many of you have been tagged with the Lucky 7 meme. I have as well. In fact, I was tagged by a couple of you at least. My thanks to Melissa SmithEmily Bullock and best buddy, Jane Isaac. If there was another, I have sadly forgotten and beg forgiveness.   

Here are the rules:
1) Go to page 77 of your current WIP.
2) Go to line 7.
3) Copy down the next seven sentences, lines, paragraphs (I've seen it done many ways).
4) Tag 7 other authors.
5) Let them know.

With that in mind, here is my entry. It is from the forthcoming sequel to Dance on Fire, entitled: Flashpoint. One of the surviving vampires from the first book has returned and she is not alone. The motel staff in a tiny motel in Morro Bay, California, a tourist town on the Central Coast, have been unwittingly hosting them... 

   “Hey!” she said, suddenly snapping her fingers before his face. “Wake up. I’ve got work to do. What is it?”

   “Well, I’ve got less work for you,” he began once he had dropped the recollection.

   She appeared stunned. “You’re firing me! You can’t fire me!” Her voice was loud once again.

   Lucas spun around, worrying that she was making a scene that was being enjoyed by others. “Who said anything about being fired? You’re not fired!” He raised his voice to counters hers’, but now returned it to a whisper. “You know I can’t fire you. That’s not what I wanted to tell you.”


   “No.” Lucas paused. Even he was beginning to feel sorry that they had ever spent more than work together. He straightened his red vest and rolled up sleeves in an attempt to regain some composure. “You were off yesterday, so I just want to warn you that we are staying clear of room 108. I checked somebody in the other night very late, and they asked that no one disturb them. I was paid long term and they promise to let us know when they need anything.”

   “Who was it?” she asked, wondering what the big deal was.

   "Don't worry about that. There were two women and one guy. They acted like they were family. In any event, I don't want you going in there. I told everyone yesterday, and now I'm telling you. Just leave them alone. Okay?"

So there you have it. Who recalls the Meatloaf classic Bat Out of Hell album? Let's have a show of hands. Thank you. Do you remember the song "Two Out of Three 'Ain't Bad"? Good. I'm only doing 3 of 5 rules with this. This thing has been nearly everywhere and it might take me all day to find seven lucky victims. *grins* So, if you haven't been asked and would like to try it: go for it! Consider yourself asked.

We'll talk soon.


  1. Yahoo! I get to be the first (of hopefully many) comments.

    First off, as one of the facial hairs, I would probably still take a hug. Glad you had a good birthday.

    As to Ruth's story, I've been pleased to get to know more about her around and about. But as a new father (with another little one on the way), I dunno. Not long after my daughter was born, Pet Sematary came up on our Netflix queue, but I had to push it back because I didn't think I could watch that scene (if you've seen it, you know which one).

    Not that I didn't love it, but I just couldn't imagine it. I find myself all sorts of newly sensitive these days. Just watched Shutter Island and was more stricken than I would've been three years ago.

    So I may have to wait for this one, but like Pet Sematary, I'll get to it, I'm sure. I trust your opinions.

    Hope you have a good start to your week.

    Paul D. Dail A horror writer's not necessarily horrific blog

  2. Thank you so much! I'm glad you soldiered through, James-- particularly when I'd made you upset. Believe me, that subject matter was awful for me to deal with-- but I was writing a true historical event and didn't want to pull any punches. If and when it is adapted as a screenplay, I don't want to do more than suggest what is happening to the boys and not have it shown in detail.
    I know exactly what you mean about Pet Semetary, Paul-- I've not seen the film, but it's impossible not to be horrified with what happens to poor sweet Gage. I can still picture the blood-filled ball cap on the road. Sometimes our stories come out of us and present us with disturbing ideas. I know a friend had to put the earlier version of my book aside a few years ago when his kids were little, but he's since returned and re-read it. He thinks it's great. I've also had readers who have lived through abusive relationships read and love it. It's a high compliment when an author manages to disturb people on a deeply personal emotional level, and yet they still love the writing. Tricky stuff!
    Again, my humble thanks James, for these amazing comments on Base Spirits. See you out and about on FB and Twitter.... !!

  3. Oh, Jimmy, pick me! I need something to write on my blog and my ideas are fizzling out this week. I promise I won't say anything about your age. You're 34, right?

  4. Jimmy happy belated birthday. Seems I'm doing that a lot lately.

    And I think I'll go and do mine tomorrow, since I got tagged, and I'll take a page out of your book, Jimmy, if you don't mind. Finding someone out there that has not already been tagged is beyond my limitations. Still in edits, I'm not going to get them done hunting down peeps for this.

  5. Hey Best Bud! Another great post. So glad you had a great birthday. Psst - a secret? We are the same age. 43 is the new 33 in my world, LOL. Interesting book review, and loved the excerpt! I want to know what happens next. Dance on Fire is currently on my TBR list FYI (I'm having an abbreviation day, LOL!)**Big Waves**

  6. Happy belated birthday! Hope it was awesome! Thanks for the review of BASE SPIRITS, it does sound like an intriguing read! And ASYLUM LAKE is on my to-read list!

  7. Sounds like an intense read! And I enjoyed your excerpt.

  8. Happy belated birthday. Great post. I was just dropping by to let you know that I've tagged you in my latest blog post. Does that make you lucky 14? LOL. Stop by and check it out.

  9. Thanks for dropping by this week, my dear friends. It's always wonderful. I apologize for not replying as quickly as I would like. As soon as I figure out how to rig this thing so you can actually see my replies, I will. *sigh* I had it, then they took it away with their constant changes.


  10. Happy Belated birthday. If there is any of that chocolate cake left, I'm always here :) Love the meme post you can always find out the odd snippets of peoples life from those.


Thanks for stopping by. I really appreciate you taking the time. I'll get back to you here or on one of the other social networks. It's not like we're not on all of them, right? ;) Also, if you're here to give me an award - bless you. However, your friendship and visits are more than enough. Thanks and blessings.