Featured

HOLY SATURDAY!

rodrigo-rodriguez-pmiJFEPHihk-unsplash
Rodrigo Rodriguez

I see the light through the long, dark antechamber.

Some believe Jesus has passed over to be with his Father in heaven.

This, what I remember from my teachings at Catholic school.

So now what am I to believe as the sun

shines brightly on this ‘dark’ Saturday.

I want to rejoice even if I was taught to

“believe in the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit…

As it was in the beginning, is now and ever

shall be world without end, Amen.”

Oh but I’ve mixed up the Apostle’s Creed with the Gloria Patri.

And that’s just what the church did to me – mix me up.

But still, world without end is a comforting thought.

And just what is meant by the ‘world’?

The earth, the globe, the planet, the biosphere.

Mankind, humankind -we are the world

We are the world. We are the children

*  “There comes a time
When we heed a certain call
When the world must come together as one
There are people dying
Oh, and it’s time to lend a hand to life
The greatest gift of all.”

As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be

World without end, so Sunday stay the fuck home. Amen.

* Michael Jackson, Lionel Ritchie

CURSE OF THE NINTH – BINGE-WORTHY BOOK FESTIVAL

I’m thrilled to be a part of this event. My book, CURSE OF THE NINTH, will be featured on 8/26/2020. I even talk about my first binge-worthy book I read. You won’t want to miss it.

Bookmark this get-together and tell your friends: https://www.nnlightsbookheaven.com/bookpromos/categories/binge-worthy-book-festival

With or Without You

I received an advanced copy of WITH OR WITHOUT YOU from my writer friend Caroline Leavitt and literally couldn’t put it down until I finished. Character-driven, the story moved along at a pace that kept me turning pages into the wee hours of the morning. 

Leavitt masterfully depicts Simon, Stella and Libby both in their raw and heartbreaking situations as well as in their courage to change and heal.  Because of their struggles and their capacity to untangle their messes, I couldn’t help but appreciate and empathize with each of them.

The idea that a woman can go into a coma and come out of it with an unexpected gift is definitely appealing. During these hopeless times in our history, WITH OR WITHOUT YOU certainly gives the reader hope and/or the idea that you can come out of tough situations as a new and better human with a new appreciation of life.

Thought-provoking and sad at times “I’m here, she wants to say to Simon. I’m right here,” it’s also full of unexpected twists and turns, and while the relationships may not turn out the way you might anticipate, you’re left with hope that there will be a sequel. 

Bravo, Caroline Leavitt!

LET ME OUT!

IMG_0609God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change: God, have I mentioned I don’t like change. Lately, I feel like crying, except I don’t think I deserve to cry. I’m healthy, have a roof over my head, food in the fridge. So I have to quarantine myself, big deal, Cry Baby. Others have it worse.

All is eerily quiet now, the new normal sound around the complex — great for writing. It hasn’t always been this quiet, especially with the pony-sized dog living above us. Nine years ago, our upstairs neighbor Doris brought home a cute little Labradoodle. Day and night, 2:00 a.m., Lucy ran back and forth, claws scratching across the wooden floors like she was sliding into home plate. And when she chased a ball, I’d swear there was a bowling alley overhead. When Doris would leave, Lucy suffered from separation anxiety. I’d use a broomstick handle to knock on the ceiling to try and get her to stop howling. I’d phone Doris, go upstairs and knock on her door, but Doris never answered. A couple of Christmases ago, Doris came down with a box of Sees Candy, a peace offering — an apology. I had to forgive her and learn to accept this situation as community-style living.

The Courage to Change the Things I Can: My husband eventually installed a ceiling fan and a white-noise machine with ocean sounds. Things seemed calmer. I learned Doris had been giving the dog tranquilizers when she left for Wednesday night square-dancing. I still cringe and sleep with a pillow over my head when I hear Lucy.

COVID now barks louder than Lucy. Doris is afraid she won’t be able to take care of her dog during this pandemic. She’s given Lucy to her daughter. Hallelujah! All is quiet on the western front once more.

And so I’m minding my own business, hunkered down with my first cup of morning coffee. Place is looking nice. Television’s off. Suddenly, I hear zapping. The lights in the dining room flicker on and off like something out of Poltergeist. Is the virus now inside the walls?The zapping stops. I hear dripping and then a rush of water seeps from the floorboards across the newly installed Pergo. NO!! (We’ve just finished remodeling this 70’s relic condo). I scream. My husband rushes in to see the freshly-painted walls buckling, the ceiling weeping. About-face, he’s out the back door to shut off the water valve. Upstairs, Doris’s water heater has sprung another leak. Jeff heads up. “Where’s your mask?” I scream. “Just call her?” Doris never answers. She’s afraid of us.

And now, we must act fast to stop the spread of mold. All of our precautions (quarantine, masks, gloves, Lysol, grocery-deliveries, staying away from family and friends, Zooming) will zoom out the window as masked and gloved workers come in and out of our small 800-foot-living space to remediate the damage. The room we were so proud to have cleared out finally (my writing refuge during this pandemic) will go back to being a storage space for all the water-displaced furniture and furnishings.

First, my novel’s failured launch because of Corona and now this! Seriously, does the universe really not want me to write?

And the wisdom to know the difference: I can just hear Wise-Old Mother Nature saying, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” F***k that. Right now, I’m so tired of being strong, holding it together. I just wanna cry.

I say surely ignorance is bliss. If not, why do we have leaders full of wisdom now telling us they have no answers except to get this country back to normal. If that’s not an ignorant statement, then what is? And how are we supposed to get back to normal? It’s not like I can just sit outside in the 102-degree heat (does it kill the virus?) or run over to Starbucks to do my writing! Don’t get me started. This is just my rant, and I know the broken water heater upstairs is simply the camel that’s broken my back!

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference!

Amanja Reviews “Curse of the Ninth”

2jsTtpGdRdS%i9ww7J+SEg_thumb_7c

 

Author Ruthie Marlenee

This is the spoiler free review of Curse of the Ninth by Ruthie Marlenee. If you would like to read the spoiler full review complete with every step of revenge please visit here.

Thank you so much to author Ruthie Marlenee for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Curse of the Ninth is a story of revenge. A story of betrayal. But above all, it is the story of a very dysfunctional father son relationship.

Doc is the father, Charley is the son. Charley is haunted by his father in a way that damages him irreversibly. He must figure out a way to free himself from his father’s expectations or he will never be able to find a healthy life.

That may seem vague but it’s better to let the story unfurl for you. Marlenee is a masterful author. She commands this story with such lovely prose you’ll feel like you’re reading an old classic (except you won’t be bored). The scenes are impeccably set and the character development is strong.

Each character has their own motivations and flaws and none of them could be considered stereotypes. They’re true to life characters. This helps balance the mild supernatural events that occur. Nothing like a fantasy novel but Curse of the Ninth dips just slightly out of traditional reality.

The theme of phowa, a transference of consciousness at the time of death, comes into play heavily in this story. It’s a word I was previously unfamiliar with but the premise certainly makes for a solid dramatic novel.

The narrative is split throughout the book and we get the story from the perspective of Doc and then his son Charley. I found the split a little confusing at the beginning of the book but as the story and characters developed it was much easier to follow along.

Marlenee’s writing style assured me that she knew what she was doing and kept me intrigued even through the mild confusion. It’s one of those books that gets better and better as it goes along.

The reader gets to learn more about the past of the characters and starts to piece things together for themselves. It’s an interactive story that requires the reader’s full attention. But don’t worry, you’ll want to give it to this book.

A sequel is in the works. I am unsure about how this story will be continued but I am confident that Marlenee is an author who can only get better with each book she writes. Her talent is palpable on every page.

If you love a good family drama story that takes place over two generations this book is definitely for you. But it is also for you if you just appreciate well written fiction. Pick it up!

4/5 scores 🎼🎼🎼🎼

in order to keep me up to my ears in books please consider using the following amazon affiliate link to purchase this product. it’s at no extra cost to you and would really help me out, thank you and happy reading!

Buy it here: Curse of the Ninth

TECOLOTE BOOK SHOP

It would be wise of you to please support this lovely, independent Tecolote Book Shop in Santa Barbara by purchasing a book or two. Tomorrow, they were to host a book-signing event for Curse of the Ninth. When this is all over, I invite everyone to visit the shop. I look forward to celebrating and signing for everyone someday soon. Hasta luego!

SILVER PARK ARTS LITERARY LOUNGE JOIN US IN THE ZOOM ROOM 5/5/20

SILVER PARK ARTS LITERARY LOUNGE will resume ONLINE IN A PRIVATE ZOOM ROOM with featured readers: Chad Sweeney, Mary Torregrossa, Victoria Lynne McCoy, and Ruthie Marlenée. Surprise Guests in Open Reading. May 5, 2020, 8:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Let’s do this thing. More DETAILS below BIOS.

CHAD SWEENEY is the author of six books of poetry, Little Million Doors (Nightboat Books, winner of Nightboat Prize, 2019), Parable of Hide and Seek, White Martini of the Apocalypse, Wolf’s Milk (bilingual Spanish/English) Arranging the Blaze and An Architecture, and two books of translation, The Art of Stepping Through Time, the selected poems of Iranian dissident poet, H.E. Sayeh and Pablo Neruda’s final book, Calling on the Destruction of Nixon and the Advancement of the Chilean Revolution (2019).
Sweeney’s poems have been included in Best American Poetry, The Pushcart Prize Anthology and Verse Daily. He is the editor of the anthology, Days I Moved Through Ordinary Sounds: Teaching Artists of WritersCorps in Poetry and Prose, and Iroquois elder Maurice Kenny’s posthumous collection of poetry
and prose: Monahsetah, Resistance, and Other Markings on Turtle’s Back. Chad Sweeney holds an MFA from San Francisco State University and a PhD from Western Michigan University. He is an Associate Professor of English/Creative Writing at California State University San Bernardino where he edits Ghost Town Lit Mag. He lives in southern California with his partner, Jennifer Kochanek Sweeney, and their
two boys.

MARY TORREGROSSA, often noted as a storyteller is most importantly a story-listener, a practice honed by her job as an ESL teacher in Southern California. Originally from Rhode Island, she blends portraits of people, places and experiences, both coasts of the United States into her poetry. Her chapbook, My Zocalo Heart, is published by Finishing Line Press. Poems appear in Bearing The Mask: Southwestern Persona Poems, in Wide Awake: Poets of Los Angeles and Beyond, in Voices From Leimert Park Redux and Miju Poetry & Poetics: Korean Poets Society of America. Mary is a winner of the Arroyo Arts Collective Poetry In The Windows and named Newer Poet of Los Angeles XIV by the Los Angeles Poetry Festival. Other publications include The Altadena Poetry Review, and websites for Ekphrastic Review, Dime Show Review.

VICTORI LYNNE McCOY holds an MFA in poetry from Sarah Lawrence College and a BA from the University of Redlands’ Johnston Center for Integrative Studies. Her work has appeared in Best New Poets, Blackbird, The Boiler Journal, The Collagist, Cultural Weekly, The Offing, and Tahoma Literary Review, among others. She currently lives in Los Angeles.

curseoftheninth_cvr-2__1579633046_104.34.83.151RUTHIE MARLENÉE, a second generation California native and an Angelino, earned a Writers’ Certificate “With Distinction” from UCLA. Her second novel Curse of the Ninth nominated for a James Kirkwood Literary Award was launched February 2020 by WiDo Publishers. Curse of the Ninth, a literary fiction with a psychological twist, takes place in historical Hollywood and Glendale. Some of her writing can be found in The Coiled Serpent Anthology, Silver Birch Press, Long Story Short, Midlife Collage, and SoToSpeak. Her screenplays have been recognized at film festivals, domestically and internationally. She published her first novel Isabela’s Island in 2004 and has completed a third novel, Agave Blues. Marlenée is currently working on the sequel to Curse of the Ninth. She is also a ghostwriter, a member of the Greater Los Angeles Writers Society, Los Angeles Poet Society, Sisters in Crime and a WriteGirl Mentor.

On May 5th from 8-10pm, Silver Park Arts will open its reading series ‘doors’ in virtual space. Tickets from free of cost to whatever on a sliding scale, priced to help keep Silver Park Arts kicking at this unprecedented time. Open reading and attendance only spots are on a first come basis so please RSVP at adhocink@yahoo.com. The waiting room will open at 7:30 for sign-ups. No one will be admitted after 8pm.

Limited attendance. Don’t miss out. Save the date and register early.

 

GHOST PLANES, GUILT AND GOONEYS

cLKIRgZWQfSodVoqeCiw0w_thumb_73
Gooney Birds catlin.wolfard

The drone of a plane awakens me out of a peaceful slumber. They’re coming to save us! Like paratroopers landing on the beaches of Normandy. But history shows what happened on D-Day. And there will be casualties of war.

I’ve awakened into a bad dream and strain to hear the ghost planes –those ghost riders, phantom fighters my husband heard as a Coast Guard patrolling Midway in the 80s. Islands isolated except for the gooney birds.

 

Petty Officer Gunn
Petty Officer Gunn, Midway Island, 1980’s

I roll over, cover my head with the quilt, shelter in place wrapped in survivor’s guilt. While we don’t have it as bad as Anne Frank and the others hiding in a tiny secret annex nor are our grandchildren living in filthy cages, I suffer to think I’ll never get to hold my little lovebirds again.

Even if the quarantine is lifted, without a vaccine or a cure, we’ll never get back to normal. Daycares are petri dishes full of germs, and the grandkids bring colds home like artwork to post on the fridge.

I’ll live with anxiety wondering if a soldier of death will come knocking on the door or just shoot first. I know there are other lonesome doves out there. I’m grateful to be isolated with my husband, within the walls of our 860 square foot bunker, our gilded cage during this tarnished age. I’m a survivor of misfortune, he’s a survivor of cancer. But can we outlive this pandemic like soldiers of fortune?

I wonder, after this pandemic, will the gooney be the only species left? Does a gooney suffer survivor’s guilt?

 

GOOD FRIDAY iCLOUDS

daoudi-aissa-Pe1Ol9oLc4o-unsplash
EPhoto by Daoudi Aissa on Unsplash

Good Friday, always cloudy as Jesus hangs dying on the cross.
I wonder now if tomorrow never came, would he still rise on Sunday?
Would there be a second coming if the human species disappeared
behind the clouds (except for the survival of the fittest, the survival of the richest)?

But if the species were to vanish with the virus into ether, what  would have been the reason to have any memories at all, or thoughts or the ability to create only to have it all destroyed?
Would this be the final death of the species –
the first occurring when your physical body dies the second when there’s no one left to remember you or to speak your name?

This Good Friday, I’m alive to say His name, to honor and remember
others who’ve gone before me — alive because I remember them.
Alive because I read their works. I remember their words.
But think about it. For those survivors of the fittest,
they’ll have our words, our stories, our poetry in the iClouds.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.”
In the end, we are the words, and the words are with God
and the words are God. We are the words in the iClouds.
Oh, I really don’t know clouds at all.

FLOOD IN THE TIME OF CORONA

IMG_0092I listen to the rain falling steadily all night long –

the caprice of the gods or the tears of angels?

Raining it seems for 40 days and 40 nights or

since the beginning of the Corona.

Water gushes in from a crack in the ceiling.

The community pool overflows. The tennis court is flooded.

Our whole condo building is surrounded by water.

 

In the distance, I hear Noah calling

for passengers to board his ark.

Wearing his PPEs, he takes their temps,

two by two, only the best of their species,

and so behaved with utmost goodness.

Noah won’t sleep for a year as he tends the animals.

After a time, a bat will return to the ark with an olive branch,

A symbol the world is all good again.