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Monday, November 26, 2012

A Zombie Experience

Hello, Fire Enthusiasts. For those of you who celebrate it, did you have a Happy Thanksgiving? I did, and I hope you did as well. Everything was perfect except my beloved Dallas Cowboys losing. But hey! It’s been that kind of season, so what can I say? *wipes one solitary tear*

Have you ever tried gnawing every last piece of meat off of a rib during dinner while the teenagers were forcing you to watch the latest episode of The Walking Dead? How’s that for a segue, huh? *grins* Do you guys like that show? Do you like zombies at all? I was never much for them, if I can be completely honest with you folks. It’s not that I’m all about vampires and nothing else. I assure you that isn’t my story. Maybe I did appreciate the typical handsome, gentlemanly traits of most vampires. Perhaps because they seemed to live well, dress well and seemed to rise above the filth and the waste that zombies seem to frequent. I don’t know. I realize not all vamps are that cool and that there are a great many that do act like zombies, scrounging for gristle, but you get where I’m going, right?

In any event, a great many of my author pals do indeed have zombie books available. It’s just that I have been reluctant to pick one up. Do you know what I mean? I mean, I can see why The Walking Dead is doing very well. It’s a quality show for horror enthusiasts. It has good acting, a storyline that hasn’t grown tired and the effects are really good for a non-movie. It’s just not me, you know?

So, imagine my surprise when I finally picked one up, began to read and found myself intoxicated by just how wonderful it was.

I’m speaking of an entry into what Author Stant Litore calls The Zombie Bible, a canon of several books that he has planned. I read, Death Has Come Up Into Our Windows. The synopsis: God is weeping behind her veil in the Temple while the dead are eating her city alive, and her words are coming out through the mouth of her prophet Yirmiyahu. The king and the priesthood don’t like what he has to say, so they’ve thrown Yirmiyahu down a dry well, and once a day, his gaolers toss a zombie in after him. During the three days of this story, the prophet will have to fight to survive the hungry dead, dehydration, and some truly wrenching memories -- memories of atrocities witnessed, lives lost, and sacrifices that shatter the heart.
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As a Christian, I am familiar with the Old Testament books of the Bible. With his use of original language, setting and thoroughly capturing the speaking style of characters of this day and age, Litore completely and easily immerses us in the story; so much so that I believed I was either reading an Old Testament book or perhaps had unearthed another long lost scroll.

In less masterful hands, this could have very easily come off as campy and cute or boring, and completely solidified my desire to never read zombies again. Instead, quite the opposite has happened. Although the plot does include “the dead”, it more importantly includes the living. We feel for Jeremiah as he recalls his wrestling with God and what God wants from him. We see the horror that surrounds him and feel the pain that he feels over sending his beloved wife away…and much worse later - that comes off as one of the more powerful and heart-wrenching scenes I may have ever read.

Litore took aim at telling this sub-genre in a way that no one was doing and he absolutely nailed it. I’m seriously blown away by everything Litore has done here, and you will be, too. Death Has Come Up Into Our Windows, my friends. There are zombies that attempt to locate and feed upon the living, but what we get here is oh so much more. Five Stars! You can find it on Amazon here.

We’ll talk soon.

Monday, November 19, 2012

A Few Good Reads

Hello, Fire Enthusiasts.  Once again I feel the need to apologize for taking so darn long to get anything read around here. With my impossible schedule I just don’t have the time. If you only knew how many days and weeks I have brought my trusty Kindle to work never to open it. On the upside, if I start reading your novel, rest assured that your cover will be prominently displayed on my blog for weeks! *laughs* That’s good free promotion, my friends!

In any event, I have read some real good books of late which I think you’ve probably already heard about. They seem to be doing very well for as far as I can tell, and their respective authors have been making the rounds.

For the past couple of years I have almost exclusively read Independent or brand new authors. I think there is something about discovering great up and coming or as of yet undiscovered authors that really interests me. I hope there’s a bit of that in you as well.

The first novel I would like to share with you is The Book of Paul by author Richard Long. Here’s the synopsis:

"Everything you've ever believed about yourself...about the description of reality you've clung to so stubbornly all your life...all of it...every bit of an illusion."

In the rubble-strewn wasteland of Alphabet City, a squalid tenement conceals a treasure "beyond all imagining"-- an immaculately preserved, fifth century codex. The sole repository of ancient Hermetic lore, it contains the alchemical rituals for transforming thought into substance, transmuting matter at will...and attaining eternal life.

When Rose, a sex and pain addicted East Village tattoo artist has a torrid encounter with Martin, a battle-hardened loner, they discover they are unwitting pawns on opposing sides of a battle that has shaped the course of human history. At the center of the conflict is Paul, the villainous overlord of an underground feudal society, who guards the book's occult secrets in preparation for the fulfillment of an apocalyptic prophecy.

The action is relentless as Rose and Martin fight to escape Paul's clutches and Martin's destiny as the chosen recipient of Paul's sinister legacy. Science and magic, mythology and technology converge in a monumental battle where the stakes couldn't be higher: control of the ultimate power in the universe--the Maelstrom.

My Review: In the tradition of Clive Barker, Author Richard Long has created a world that is something like we have rarely seen. Joining science, magic and religion, and bridging this world's beginning to its terrible end, he has done something incredible. The Book of Paul is an astounding achievement with incredible characters of great depth, a body of near-perfect prose, wonderful pacing and a "voice" that will entice you through short chapters that prove to be a satisfying way of story-telling. Long takes us on a journey that is sometimes complex but at most times brilliant. He doesn't dazzle us with words, but with real dialogue and a plot unlike one we've ever seen. Prepare yourself reader, for having your mind blown is just the beginning.

Recently, I just completed reading Wishbone by author Brooklyn Hudson. Here’s the synopsis:

A Manhattan power couple survive a tragedy and attempt a fresh start only to be plagued by unexplained and disastrous careful what you wish for.

Kings Hollow is a quaint town, nestled in the serene Catskill Mountains of upstate New York. At first, their new home appears to be the miracle they prayed for, until a traditional children's game begins to destroy their bliss; Rachael is no longer herself and Julien is experiencing a string of bad luck and unfortunate accidents.
At the center of it all is seventeen-year-old Sarah, a part-time caretaker on the property.
Can Julien and Rachael escape the nightmare of Kings Hollow...or is this just Wishful thinking?

Wishbone is a multi-layered thriller incorporating several sub-plots; in the vein of Pet Sematary, What Lies Beneath, Misery and Stir of Echoes. Dramatic horror at its best, Brooklyn Hudson takes you on a suspenseful roller coaster ride of emotional turmoil and shocking events.

My Review: This book was two parts Twilight Zone and one part Stephen King’s Misery. I found the writing to be very good with top notch narration; I wasn’t tripping all over fancy description or decorative prose, but was just consistently led by the hand and taken on a ride well worth the effort. The main character is French and I found him so refreshing as we got to see as he slipped into his native tongue on many occasions, and watched him struggle with English as his anxiety or stress level spiked. Hudson did a very nice job in using the French, as well as figuring out ingenious ways of explaining him to us so we knew what he meant or was thinking.

The plot itself was quite gripping and different. I could never really guess where we were going, which was wonderful. The work was loaded with twists and turns that kept me guessing and willing to be led along. I hear there is a Wishbone 2 in the works which also leaves me guessing since I don’t see where we could possibly go from here. I guess I will just have to take Hudson’s able hand in mine and allow her to lead on. I think you will happily volunteer to be led once you have read Wishbone as well.

Lastly, I would like to tell you about the diary I just finished. That’s right. Diary. It is a novella that is entitled, 100 Unfortunate Days. It was written by Penelope Crowe.

The synopsis:
If you stumbled upon the diary of a stranger you might be compelled to read. If you stumbled upon the diary of a madwoman--how could you turn away?

"100 Unfortunate Days is a narcotic head-trip to the dark side of the narrator's mind. I've read books that gave me the creeps, read books that gave me nightmares, but until 100 Unfortunate Days, I'd never read a book that made me certain that the act of reading was inviting the attention of raw evil. Crowe delivers a blistering look into the furnace of madness, and does it with aplomb."

"Crowe has crafted a journal of 100 days that can make you laugh, sigh, and frown all in one "day". Theological, anti-spiritual, psychological, just plain weird... Crowe has a grasp of the reality and truth of this world and life that many others could never put into words - though they understand it to be true. 100 Unfortunate Days reads like the inner-workings of a dream - lyrical, powerful, and full of lessons, if you only know where to find them."

My review: Have you ever watched the film Pink Floyd’s The Wall? If not, you must at least be familiar with some of the songs. We get to see what Pink says and does, but have you ever wondered just what he was thinking? At first glance, Crowe’s work here might seem random. I assure you it’s not. Read it again. You will see a thread here and there, a method to the madness, as it were. This really is a brilliant piece, loaded with substance. Enter the mind of a madwoman. You’ll see glimpses, I think, of how she got there. I believe you’ll find traces of truth as well as slivers of insanity, and perhaps far worse. You may even find it dangerous to read this book – especially during three very particular times per day. If you have a cat, keep a steady eye upon it. It knows far more than it’s letting on.
We’ll talk soon.

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Reviews Are In

Hello, Fire Enthusiasts. It's practically mid-November as I pen this post. Are we ready for the holidays? Are you a fan? I am. Definitely. You most likely will not find me on-line much the day after Thanksgiving because I will be decorating. Yeah, some horror writer, huh? You would have thought that Halloween was more my time of the year, but it isn't. No. I am all about Christmas music; decorative lights, both inside and out; drinking my coffee out of Christmas mugs; etc. Last year, my regular followers may recall how I was sick for two weeks. Hopefully this year will be different and I will be able to enjoy the time. I hope you will, too.

I’ve been doing a lot of promotion of late, since I have the second book in my Dance on Fire series just out and have been posting several teasers. I will be doing more of this as I attempt to convince thriller, suspense, paranormal and horror fans to come along for this ride. This week, I thought I would let some of my reviews do the talking…

“This truly was a spectacular read… The first thing that struck me about this book was the author’s prose. It’s beautiful, almost poetic, but not overly done. It has a wonderful flow and rich descriptions that will draw the reader in, immersing them in mood and setting. You won’t find one-dimensional characters here. Not only did I enjoy reading about each one, but I cared what happened to them. Dance on Fire is a mysterious page-turner that moves along at a fast pace. This story is a well-balanced blend of horror and suspense, and though it’s referred to as a Christian crossover, the religious undertones were subtle enough that they won’t encroach or offend those with…different views.” – Adriana Noir, Author of Requiem: Book of the Fallen.

“I cannot wait for the next book from James Garcia Jr. This book may have taken him 20 years to write, but it was well worth the time he put into it. I cannot recommend this book enough. If I could give it more than 5 stars I would.” – Author Lisa McCourt Hollar.

“What Author James Garcia has done is he’s taken two genres: horror and crime and blended them magnificently. It reads like a cop thriller yet has the special excitement that one can only find in a horror novel. Fans of both genres will be glued! I don’t want to give too much of the story away but I liked that the two vampires had a relationship as well as a past history which makes their depiction all the more interesting. I guess what I liked best of all was the theme of good and evil, and the inclusion of God in this well-written story. Too many times I feel this vital ingredient of good vs. evil is left out of many vampire novels. This is fast paced and tense. I liked the time element that the author uses because it tightens the pace even more. Lastly let me commend author James Garcia, because in his adept hands he has made this thoroughly engrossing novel an exceptional read.” – Carole Gill, Author of The House on Blackstone Moor.

“I loved how the author has you immediately pulled into the story. Though a good sized book…there is a wonderful pace to it which keeps you reading, drawing you into the story with every word. You’ll find yourself quickly immersed in the story…The plot is superbly written. I loved how it also took the form of a mystery while you follow the detectives trying to solve the bizarre murders. You won’t be disappointed in the growing tension which builds up to a dramatic climax. Don’t let the genre titles of horror or Christian put you off, if you love vampire stories, you’ll enjoy this book!” Jen Wylie, Author of Sweet Light.

“From the very outset I enjoyed this book. I liked everything that I read. As a writer myself, I would not have changed anything. I particularly loved the start. You do not need to be told that this guy is bad news. From there on it never lets up, and keeps you wanting to read right up the ending. Well thought out and well crafted. I look forward to more.” – Mathew Bridle, Author of Emun of Mor

“I thoroughly enjoyed Dance on Fire and found it totally absorbing, a terrific distraction from my ordinary life. The plot was skillfully developed and strung together with such grace, I wasn't really sure what was going to happen in the end until the conclusion. Garcia teases the reader in a variety of directions, and, like any good mystery, although you search for clues, nothing is revealed until the end. I liked the treatment of the vampire as both light and dark, and this book dealt with both sides believably.”  - Angela Love

“I originally was drawn to this book simply based on its setting. What I found, however, was that this author brings such a depth to his characters and a unique perspective to the storyline, it makes it difficult to find a stopping point! I loved the way he weaves vastly different genres together so harmoniously that, rather than being ridiculous, leaves you thinking outside the box. I can't WAIT for the sequel! – Trish Barbarick

“Mr. Garcia has taken the oft over-drafted "Vampire" story to a new level. I was enthralled with the storyline and characters. Being somewhat familiar with Kingsburg, I found myself drawn even deeper into the action as I could picture myself at the exact locations. The bridge between vampirism and Christianity was an intriguing twist in the book and I thoroughly enjoyed each and every page. I certainly look forward to the sequel and future works by James.” – Glenn Murphy

“I love what James Garcia, Jr. has done with Dance on Fire. The characters are drawn with depth and substance. Garcia has a gift for dialogue that “shows” more than “tells” the reader about the characters. I was also struck by the imaginative storyline which builds tension to the dramatic, bittersweet climax. Garcia mixes a horror thriller with deep suggestions about the nature of grace and providence and leaves you thinking about these concepts long after the book is finished.” – Pastor Ed Esaki, Kingsburg, Ca.

“Characters with substance that get inside your head and don't let go. A literary ride that was exciting and enjoyable. A must for lovers of the Vampire genre, anyone who has ever spent a day or more in Kingsburg, California, and those who just love a good book.” – Micheal Graham

“The book was captivating. I was drawn into the characters. Even within their mundane lives that were soon to be turned upside down, they had depth to them that really pulled you into their world. The scenes were very detailed as well: some of which you wish there would be more left to the imagination. But it wouldn't be a horror story if it didn't have the gory details. Great read! Looking forward to the sequel.” Cassia Pabis

“This book (is)…very different, very detailed and leaves nothing on the table, and Vampire enthusiasts will not be disappointed. The book brings Christianity and Vampires on a collision course and I loved it. The one trait I look for in a character or characters is determination. And Nathaniel and Vincent fill the pages with this purpose and the author does it brilliantly and not many can web together multiply themes and emotions. Garcia did it beautifully.” – Vince Considine, Author of the forthcoming horror thriller, Unable.

“I really got into this book because of the characters, they were well developed and believable. The action is intense and relentless. An epic tale of good vs. evil. I don't want to put any spoilers out there, but a "couple" of the characters had me baffled and I am hoping to read the sequel very soon to see what happens. Well done! I can't wait for book 2!” – Erik Gustafson, Author of Fall Leaves and the Black Dragon.
“What a pleasant, pleasant surprise. I truly enjoyed this book. James gave vampires an entirely different view to me. I immediately fell in love with Nathaniel; captured as a child, imprisoned and then turned against his will. His life changes the day he saves Barbara & her babies’ lives. This story not only showed how evil & despicable a vampire could be, but how wonderful, God worthy people they also are. You have drama, mystery, horror…just intense suspense, plus spirituality - nothing over the top - but just enough to make the story work really, really well. Highly recommended - will be thoroughly enjoyed.” – Liz Cabrejos

"Many thanks to all who have posted reviews. Everything helps. For those who are reading my work and will be posting reviews in the not-too-distant future, allow me to thank you in advance.

We'll talk soon.

Monday, November 5, 2012

A Giant Celebration

Hello, Fire Enthusiasts. I want to thank everyone for helping to make the release of my latest book last week as successful as it could be. It was a long road, and I thank you. I really couldn’t have done it without the help of a great many of you. For now, however, let’s talk about something else, shall we? I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of talking about me all the time.

Sadly, what I bring you today doesn’t give me that much pleasure either. You might think I would be pleased, being from California, but I’m not. I’m certainly happy for the 2012 World Champion San Francisco Giants baseball team and their fans. Being a Chicago Cubs fan, I was just really happy that a certain other team from our division didn’t win it again this year. I wish my team didn’t always have vacation plans for October, but what can long-suffering Cubs fans do but look at the Giants – and their incredible run this October – and dream of what might be one day. One miraculous day.

It really is shocking to see what the Giants accomplished. So many times they were down to their last breath, only to rise up and rise above themselves. They had great pitching, timely hitting and made few, if any, mistakes.

I told my wife on the morning of game 4 that I would be shocked if the Giants didn’t sweep. They just looked to be on a great run that no one could stand in the way of. I also thought the Tiger’s fans must be mystified. They are used to seeing powerhouse teams come into that stadium; teams like Texas, Anaheim, New York. Do they even know who the Giants are? I bet they know now, huh?

Anyway, all I can do is tip my Cubs hat to the new world champions. Congratulations.

Hopefully one day it will be us, Chicago. One miraculous day.

If baseball isn’t your thing, I visited several places this past week or so, thanks to some really cool and special people. I certainly want to thank them for having taken the time. I was over at Author Lorelei Bell’s place, where she gave me the opportunity to share my new book. I was over at Author Jane Isaac’s place, where she interviewed me and made cruise plans for some future day. ;) I was also over at Michele Chiappetta’s place for a guest post on finding time to write. The awesome Nicole Ducleroir also shared my release with her part of the world without any prompting from me. She just did it out of the kindness of that big heart of hers. I was also included in the November Issue of Supporting Authors One Read at a Time Magazine, thanks to Author Eri Nelson. The last week or so has gone that way, where awesome, talented and very busy friends took time out of their hectic schedules to offer me a part of themselves. It was very humbling, and I adore each and every one of them for it. If you have a few moments, I would love it if you dropped by those places. Hugs to them.
We’ll talk soon.