Dark Goddess

I’ve been working on this novel for about twenty years now. It makes me feel old to realize just how long I’ve been writing it. It’s a paranormal thriller (I think) about vampires and a girl who just wants everyone to leave her in peace.

Here are the first 500 words.

Kali’s skin prickled the moment the stranger sat in the empty seat next to her.  It was a weekday afternoon and there were hardly any people in the movie theater, and yet he had chosen to sit directly on her left.  She clenched her jaw and tried to decide if she should turn and glare at him, ignore him, or move.  Between work and school, she rarely had the afternoon off; she didn’t want her experience ruined by some rando with no concept of personal space. There were a couple of white-haired old women sitting a few rows down.  She could go sit near them.  Maybe the jerk would leave her alone.

Kali slipped her book bag strap over her shoulder and started to rise.

The man grabbed her wrist, his grip bruising.  “I have a gun.” His voice, deep with an accent she couldn’t place, was just loud enough for Kali to hear him over the previews.  “Do as I say, and I won’t use it.”

She pulled against his grip.  “Let go.”

He tugged her back down to the seat and shoved up the armrest.  He leaned in.  The acrid scent of his sweat teased her nose. “I am very serious.” He was so close his breath stirred her curls.  “I have a gun in my hand.  Come with me now.”

She was about to push him away when she felt it.  Hard and bruising against her side through her shirt and his jacket.

Her protest died.  Sweat broke out on her temples and palms. Her breath was very loud in her ears.

She nodded.

“Good.  Come.”  The man stood, pulling her roughly to her feet.  “We’re going to walk out of the theater.  You won’t call for help.  You won’t indicate distress to anyone.  Understand?”

The gun was still pressed against her, hard through her thin tee shirt. She nodded again and allowed him to propel her down the row of empty seats to the stairs. His hand on her wrist and the gun against her side were all she could feel.  The thud of her heart and her over-loud breath filled her ears, drowning out all other sounds. 

The light pierced her eyes when they exited into the lobby.  She squinted, people’s bright shirts, the carpeting, and food concession displays blurring in a colorful mass.  The man moved next to her, twisting the arm he’d captured behind her and trapping it against the small of her back.  A sharp pain shot through her shoulder, but she hardly noticed it.  The gun, pressed against her side, stole her focus.

Kali barely came up to the man’s shoulders. She tripped once, trying to keep up with him. He stilled a moment, then started again, slower this time. His gait now matched hers perfectly, falling into a synchronicity that she found eerie.

There were people in the lobby, flesh colored shapes.  Not one of them looked at her.  They looked at movie posters, at the screens blaring advertisements around the lobby, at the popcorn, at their running children.  Kali was invisible. In all her life, she’d never felt more alone.

“Open the door,” he ordered.

She pushed open the exit door.  The shock of fresh air against her face caused her to inhale sharply.  It was her first real breath since he’d grabbed her, and the air cleared her head somewhat.  She looked at her captor.

***

Any thoughts or suggestions? I’d love to hear what you think.

Let’s Talk Bookish – Reading Slumps

Let’s talk Bookish is a new weekly meme hosted by Rukky @Eternity Books. Each week, Rukky offers a topic to discuss and people are invited to chime in. This week the topic is Reading Slumps and Ways to Overcome Them.

So, I only became aware of reading slumps as a “thing” when I dipped my toes in the bookish community. It’s not that I never went through periods of not wanting to read or not being able to concentrate, I just wasn’t aware it was a widespread thing. I just thought it was me. I was glad I wasn’t alone.

For me, reading slumps hit when I’m especially stressed or overwhelmed. When that happens, the best thing to keep me afloat is to turn to comfort reads. I turn back to childhood favorites, like The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi, Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede, and Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery. I’ll quite often turn to my Robin McKinley favorites of Beauty and The Outlaws of Sherwood.

If I’m not in the mood for fairy tales or fantasy, I might turn to movie novelizations or spinoffs. My favorite movie novelizations are the original Star Trek movies. Vonda M. McIntyre wrote Wrath of Kahn through The Voyage Home, and I love the details included that flesh out the universe. I mean, I enjoy the main story we get about the movie, but all the characters McIntyre wrote and the subplots are just magnificent. I love going back to those.

The last few years has been good for m/m historical romance, which is my jam. When I’m in a reading slump, especially if it’s not related to feeling stressed and is just me not knowing what to read, I go to Amazon and type in “m/m historical” and get a plethora of choices. This is how I discovered the Whyborne & Griffin novels by Jordan L. Hawk. I went from reading slump to tearing through the first 8 in no time.

So, I guess my advice for getting out of a reading slump is:

  1. Turn to old favorites, especially from your childhood.
  2. Reread books that gave you a sense of peace and happiness when you read the first time.
  3. Find a genre that you love with books that are fairly easy to read to get back into the flow of things. Soon, you’ll be ready to transition back to more challenging books.

So, those are my thoughts on reading slumps and how to get out of them.

What are some of your tips and tricks to get out of a reading slump? Drop a comment below and let me know!

Review: The Alienist by Caleb Carr

Title: The Alienist

Author: Caleb Carr

Genre: Mystery/Crime Thriller/Historical Fiction

Publisher: Random House

Publication Date: 1996

Length: 498 page

John Moore, a police reporter, is brought into an investigation of a recent string of murders. Someone is killing boy prostitutes in 1896 New York City and Dr. Laszlo Krizler, an alienist, is determined to use the science of psychology to stop him. Assembling a team that includes two detectives, Theodore Roosevelt’s female secretary, John Moore, and two of his former patients, Krizlern and company throw themselves into the investigation. Inciting the ire of policemen, mob bosses, and some highly placed officials, the team has their work cut out for them. When tragedy strikes, however, they discover that everything they’ve built may soon fall apart.


I highly enjoyed this book. I loved all the main characters, especially Laszlo. I liked this genius and certainty, but I also liked his fallibility and blindness in certain areas. I wanted to know more about him and get some idea of his inner life.

John Moore is the POV character and he’s a strong one. He is observant and clever, and aware of his own weaknesses. I like how he related to the other characters, especially Sara, the police secretary, and Joseph, a young prostitute he befriends.

This was, at time, a difficult book to read. It was very good at explaining why no one was helping the murdered boys or trying to help the boys trapped in the many brothels in New York. Still, the idea that children were going through such atrocities was hard to read about, especially the mutilations done to the victims. Occasionally, I had to gloss over some of the details.

I found the setting very vivid, if dark and gloomy. Carr’s New York of the 18902 is not one I’d be interested in visiting, although it made a fascinating story. I also liked the science behind the book and some of my favorite parts were when the characters were speculating and drawing conclusions about their murderer based on the evidence. Once the murderer was identified, the action became very suspenseful and I had a hard time putting the book down.

I thought this was a great book and worth of the hype it’s gotten. I look forward to not only reading the next in the series but also checking out the show.


WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam over at Taking on a World of Words. Each week, you answer three questions:

What are you reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

The Alienist was such a good book. I loved the characters and the mystery. I watched the first episode of the show, but I’m not sure if I’ll continue. Too many changes to the characters that I don’t like. But, I might give it one more chance.

I’m actually not 100% sure this is what I’ll read, but it’s what I was going to read next before Legendary became available at the library. My TBR list is longer than it usually is and I’m getting a little stressed about it!

What are you reading this week?

Top 5 Funniest Characters

Top 5 Tuesday is hosted by Shanah at Bionic Book Worm. Each week, she gives a topic and participants get to answer.  This week’s topic is Top 5 Funniest Characters.

Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery is a hilarious character. With her head in the clouds and imagination running wild, she gets into the most awkwardly funny situations. And the language she uses! It’s not best friends, it’s kindred spirits. It’s not a lake, it’s the Lake of Shining Waters. She’s not sad, she’s in the depths of despair. And yet, she’s a very human character and very real. I was Anne before I’d ever read the book, and once I did, I knew I’d found my own kindred spirit till the end.

Percy Jackson from Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan is another character who is very funny. He’s quick on his feet, always ready with a comeback or witty observation on the situation. As he gets older, his humor sharpens and matures. He meets the weirdness of the world he’s thrown into with humor and grace, and I love reading his point of view.

A lot of people think Magnus Chase from Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard is too similar to Percy, but I never found him to be. He’s older than Percy is, at least when Percy was first introduced, and his humor is darker. He’s been through a lot different struggles than Percy and has learned to adapt in different ways. And, yet, he still has a great sense of humor that I love and find endearing.

Luna Lovegood from Harry Potter is another character that makes me laugh even while I relate to her in a deep way. She has a unique way of looking at the world, and while sometimes her beliefs make me roll my eyes, the ways he expresses them makes me laugh.

Source: https://www.tumblr.com/tagged/catherine-morland-icons

I think Catherine from Northanger Abbey , like Luna and Anne, make me laugh because I’m really laughing at myself. She’s a passionate reader who gets immersed in the fantasy of it all. She loves books and loves creating stories in her mind, even when they scare her. She’s naive, but she’s also practical and strong. When she’s tested, she rises to the occasion. But, she’s also a very humorous character who makes me giggle as I’m reading her adventures.

And that’s my top 5 funniest characters. Who are some of the characters that make you laugh? Drop me a comment and let me know!

Review: The Night Circus

Title: The Night Circus

Author: Erin Morgenstern

Publisher: Anchor Books

Length: 391 pages

Source: used bookstore

Celia and Marco have been bound together since they were children, even if they’ve never met. The students of two powerful magicians each determined to prove his way of teaching is best, Celia and Marco were entered into a competition in which one must prevail.

The venue is a circus. This circus arrives at night without warning and is full of unimaginable delights. Le Cirque de Reves has been designed to be the most unique experience in the world, and it gathers followers wherever it goes. The people in the circus are bound to it more deeply than they know, and the circus’s very existence is tied into the competition and Celia and Marco. When the two finally meet, the outcome was unforeseen by their teachers and puts the lives of the performers and patrons in a precarious balance.

I apologize for the terrible summary, but this book is so hard to explain without ruining the utter magic. I feel like I’m waking from a beautiful dream after reading this book. Everything about it is wonderful: the language, the imagery, the characters, the plot. I love this book. I was hesitant to read it, and I’m not sure why. I thought it might be too fantastical for me, even though it takes place in this world. But I still hesitated until I found a near pristine copy at the library bookstore and decided to give it a try.

I’m so glad I did. I fell instantly in love with the mystery of the circus. I could not only picture it, but I felt like I was walking among the black and white tents, seeing the contortionist and acrobats and, later, the more fantastical elements that I’ve never seen.

The characters were vivid as well. Celia was my favorite as I was drawn to her suffering and serene nature. She was so peaceful, even with everything she’d gone through. I loved her relationships with other characters, especially Thiessen, whom I wish we’d gotten more of. But, honestly, I loved all the characters and want more of all of them.

For all the magic and beauty of the book, the characters were very real and complex. I understood their motives and inner lives and felt for them while they tried to navigate their place in the world. This is a beautifully written book with a wonderful story. It’s truly a magical journey.

Sunday Post: September 14

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by the Caffeinated Reviewer . It’s a chance to share news, recap the past week on your blog, and showcase books and things you’ve received. The rules are here: The Sunday Post.

This was a weird week. It was a long week, but it didn’t feel like it was that long in the middle of it all. It wasn’t until Friday afternoon when I thought back on what had happened and was like, “That was this week? It felt forever ago!”

Some good things happened. Yesterday, I went to a writers group and workshopped the first 500 words of my novel. It was very well received, which was gratifying, and I also got some excellent feedback. Which leads me to the question: would anyone out in blogland be interested in reading excerpts of it? It’s a vampire novel. If there’s interest, I can post snippets once a week or so.

In health news, I had my first asthma attack in years on Friday. It was very hot. I’d taken my kids to the library when my chest got tight and I started coughing. I knew what was going on, but I soldiered on and stayed with the kids. I also didn’t have an inhaler. Luckily, it all turned out okay; someone lent me there inhaler, someone took my class, I cooled down, and made it through the end of the day. I got home to discover I had three inhalers in my desk, so… those are going in my teaching bag.

Reading-wise, I’m nearing the end of The Alienist, which I’m loving. I’m thinking of trying the TV show after, if I can find it streaming somewhere. And, even though I have a TBR pile growing, I still checked out the book Legendary from the library because it was finally in, and I’ve been dying to read it. So… oops?

Monday: No Good Men by Thea McAlistair (ARC review)

Tuesday: Top 5 Covers of 2019

Wednesday: WWW Wednesday

Thursday: Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly (review)

Friday: Inside Out Book Tag

Monday: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (review)

Tuesday: Top 5 Funniest Characters

Wednesday: WWW Wednesday

Thursday: The Alienist by Caleb Carr (review)

Friday: Let’s Talk Bookish– Reading Slumps and Ways to Overcome Them

Saturday: Legendary by Stephanie Graber (review)

That’s my week in a nutshell.

What are your reading this week? Are you interested in reading a vampire novel about a girl who is the reincarnation of the very first vampire? Drop a comment below and let me know!