Talking Undead

I was invited to participate in my first podcast hosted by Ronan Mullin. You should check out this guy, he has good content. Our topic, The Walking Dead TV show, zombie tropes, and revolving themes. This was recorded before the show finished up it’s sixth season so there is no talk about that cliff hanger ending.

Before you give a listen, be aware, we all know each other and our discussion was in good faith. We finished this recording by playing a round of The Walking Dead Board Game which I lost and became a zombie!

Enjoy the listen.

Back to the Farm!

via The Walking Dead — Ronan Mullin

Book Review: Her Fierce Warrior by Paige Tyler

Another ARC from my job and it in no way sways my review.

Her Fierce Warrior by Paige Tyler is the fourth book in the X-OPS Series. It is a paranormal suspense romance if the cover didn’t give some of the genre away.  Kidnapped and experimented on, Minka escapes the laboratory cage from scientist’s who torture. On the run she is found by Special Forces soldier, Angelo. Can she trust Angelo, the only thing that can calm the beast inside, when she’s not even sure she can control herself around him. Angelo recognizes a hybrid when he sees Minka and to help get her to safety he calls his former team leader, Landon. But Minka and the beast inside are only calm when Angelo is near so Angelo’s protective instincts kick in and sticks with Minka, falling for the other each moment together.

I haven’t read any other books in this series and wasn’t confused when placed in this world. The world building was strong. The dialogue and characters were developed. The storyline was fun, and interesting with shady government cover ups, evil corporate dicks, as well as friends that help strengthen Minka’s control.

What I like the most about this book was the growth Minka’s character had through the story. She really gained a believable amount of confidence and strength. It had nice action sequences especially at the end. I like the therapy sessions featuring other shifters (I’m sure from other books) and the small glimpses into their lives.

I would recommend this book to people who like this genre. Can’t wait to read more of the people and shifters in this world.  This title will be published March 1st, 2016 by Sourcebooks Casablanca.

bookcover Tyler

 

 

Story from a Bookstore Employee 2

A man was using a store stool to reach the top shelf of the magazine section.

Me: “Excuse me sir, but you can not use the stool.”

Customer: *Stays on stool looking at magazines* “Why?”

Me: “It’s a safety issue. You could hurt yourself”

Customer: *Still on stool.* “Well, I can’t reach the top shelf of the magazines. I don’t understand how am I to reach them.” *Starts getting really huffy*

Me: “I can get any magazine you need but you can’t be on the stool. It does say on the stool for store use only. *I point to the sign on the stool* You will need to get down.”

Customer: *Still on stool.* “You know what this is discrimination! You’re discriminating against me because I’m short!”

Customer, realizing I’m not going away, steps off the stool and he is taller than me. He was only a few inches taller than me but it was noticeable. This is also where he won’t directly look at me any longer. It took everything I had not to say to this man, “Oh, you’re taller than me!” At least he got off the stool so I tell him he can speak to a manager if he is still upset but he says no he doesn’t want a manager. I had to get away from him. He left soon after that buying the tall people magazines.

I don’t know how much longer I can work in retail.

 

Throwback Thursday: My Interview With John Debney

When I was an intern with The Celebrity Cafe I wrote many stories. I just discovered that all those stories are no longer featured on their webpage but I have saved my work from those years ago and I can still share some of my stories. One of my favorite assignments was an interview with Academy Award-nominated composer John Debney. He is an amazing composer best known for The Passion of the Christ, Sin City, and Iron Man 2. This interview was conducted back in 2010 and he spoke to me about his recent work on the film The Stoning of Soraya M, and his other upcoming projects.

The Stoning of Soraya M is a drama set in 1986 Iran when a journalist, Sahebjam is told the unjust story of Zahra’s niece, Soraya and her tragic ending. What I remember most about this experience was how nice he was and getting a glimpse into his creative process.

Below is the interview with John Debney.

Marjorie Quinn: How did you get involved in the film “The Stoning of Soraya M?”

John Debney: It was kind of cool. I worked with the producer before on a film, “The Passion of The Christ” and his name is Steve McEvetty. And Steve is an old friend of mine and we’ve done a couple of movies together. So when he first called me about the movie he sent me a script and I read the script and I just feel in love with the script and the rest was sort of just, you know, we’ve worked together before and whatever he’s doing I try to do it if he needs me.

MQ: How long did it take you to write the score?

JD: Well, it was interesting. It was a very quick turnaround. I only had about 3 weeks to do it. So we had to put everything together really, really quickly. So I made a lot of phone calls to a lot of incredible performers that I know. People like Sussan Deyhim who is a wonderful singer. And other wonderful players and I just sort of put everybody together and they came and we sort of just started to work on the thing and it turned around very quickly. It was a quick turnaround.

MQ: So you said you were able to work with Sussan Deyhim. What was it like to work with her?

JD: Well she is, I don’t know if your familiar with her but some of your readers will be. Sussan is really a great artist in her light and has done a number of albums and has sung on a number of sound tracks and I knew imminently that I wanted to try and approach her with this because she is very socially active and politically active. She really loved the story about the two Iranian women. She just came and offered to work with me. It was fantastic. She didn’t even bat an eye. She just jumped in and did amazing work on the film.

MQ: You said this wasn’t your first time writing this kind of cultural style. What kind of process did you go through to write this kind of music?

JD:  Well, thank you for asking about that. I really did a lot of research when I did ‘The Passion’ and the Hollywood circles is sort of hearing a score that is influenced by that part of the world and by that great music in the middle east. And one of my pet peeves is hearing it when it’s done sort of not true to life as it were, and needs to be real, is what I guess I’m trying to say. So, I did a lot of research when I did the Passion, I listened and study a lot of this music. So that going back there for this filming, to do this kind of score was a joy because I love this type of music. So it was again just a nice journey for me going back and trying to do it in the most real way possible. And again I was very, very fortunate to bring in people like Sussan Deyhim and other performers to do the real thing. And they lend, I think, a credibility to the score.

MQ: Well your name is now attached to stopping the practices of stoning. How are you doing to do your part?

JD: Well, I think my little part is being involved with this film and I think it is just so very important a subject that hopefully people will see this film or if they can’t see the film there listen to the music and maybe I can help raise the awareness for this horrible barbaric practice that still incurs and we just got to stop it and meaning we as a world community. The point of women in certain parts of the world is still, unfortunately this way and not only women but men too but especially women. So I just think my being a part of a very important film about a very important subject is an honor really.

MQ: Pulling a little bit off the movie. I read that your symphony “The Passion Oratorio” will be performed in Saint Peter’s Square. Can you talk a little about that? It must be exciting.

JD:  Sure, I can. I would love to talk about that. You know, after I had done the film score, about five years ago now, wow I can’t believe it’s been that long. The idea arose that I might create a larger sort of concert work base on the music from the film and so I embarked on that journey and created this large work called “The Passion Oratorio” which we then performed one in Rome about five years ago and performed it a couple of time since for charities. When Katrina accrued we did a big concert for the Katrina victims, which was wonderful. So know we are going to perform this again this June 5th I believe is the date in Rome in Saint Peter’s Square which is completely humbling for me to have it performed there again. It will be a free concert for everyone basically who wants to donate anything it will go to the charity of Rome and for the restoration of Saint Peter’s Square. So it is for a great cause. Its going to be a wonderful, amazing concert with some of the performers of the film like Lisbeth Scott and I just couldn’t be more thrilled. It’s going to be with a huge, about 100 piece orchestra, about 200 piece choir and it’s going to be an amazing thing. There’s a wonderful woman conductor by the name of Candace Wicke. So I can just help with the planning of it and enjoy the concert that evening. So it is going to be a great world event. And it’s meant for people of all faiths, honestly, to just come and enjoy a concert under the stars in Rome with a spiritual base.

MQ: You’ve gone to and won many awards. Are there any pre-award show rituals you go through to insure a win?

JD: Oh my goodness. No. That’s very sweet of you. I’ve been fortunate enough to win a few Emmys and stuff like that. You know I really don’t. I think any kind of accolade like that is a wonderful, wonderful thing. I guess the biggest one would be the Oscar I haven’t gotten yet but have been nominated, which is wonderful.  I’m not very good preparing for those things. I honestly think the accolades are great but for me I learned it’s mostly about the journey and it sounds cliché and it’s about the work. It the work is deemed worthy then I’m delighted but I don’t really live for the awards thing. But it is an honor and it’s fun. When it happens it’s wonderful. Then it gives me the opportunity to thank those that like the work and give advice to those coming up. It’s fun. It’s a great thing but I don’t dwell on it too much.

MQ: Are there any new upcoming projects for you?

JD: There are a couple of great ones. I just finished one called “Valentine’s Day” which is a Garry Marshall film. It’s my fifth film with Garry Marshall and the cast has probably every beautiful actor and actress of Hollywood in it and it just turned out so well. It’s a great film. It’s romantic, funny. What can I say it’s Garry Marshall again at his finest. We just had a ball doing it. Just finished that. And then I’m in the middle of just finishing Iron Man 2, which is huge and fun, and lots of big loud music. And we’re going to be in London, in about 3 weeks to about a month now. So it’s busy and it’s wonderful and I couldn’t be happier working on these films.

MQ: Is it hard for you to switch styles of music between films?

JD: You know it’s actually cathartic for me. It’s actually a great thing to be able to switch gears. I’m just a pretty good multitasker and I’ve learned through the years kind of being able to switch gears is a fun thing for me. It sort of clears my head a little bit. So working on two so different projects is kind of liberating and kind of fun. I think it’s harder if I were doing a couple of one kind of thing back to back. That could be kind of hard. But this is fun. Being able to write a really romantic, pretty melody one moment and then turn around and write some kick ass “Iron Man” music. It makes it a lot of fun.

MQ: Do you know what kind of direction you will go towards when you receive a film?

JD: It’s always a lot experimentation in the beginning.  Always that way. That’s great to be able to do that if there’s time because then I can really experiment with the director and we can figure out what’s the tone of the things going to be. I don’t always have as much time as I like but when there’s a little extra time its really wonderful to do that. And with “Iron Man” and “Valentine’s Day” there was enough time for me to experiment a little bit which was fun.

2015 Year in Review

I had many reading resolutions for 2015. Some I completed and others faded but were not forgotten even if I never returned to finish them. First, I accomplished my goal of 50 books read for 2015. It was an amazing feet for me. I think back to the little girl that struggled with speaking, reading, and writing. Now, she is creating, and sharing her love of books.

Another thing I hold up to show off is my Goodread’s to-read shelf. I think I started 2015 with 70 or more books I hoped to read and now that number is down to 64. It may not seem like a big accomplishment but that number was a struggle to accomplished. Working in a bookstore I see so many titles I would like to read and they are easily added. I tried to be more selective and read some books right away instead of putting them on the list.

I read more titles from the floor I work on to better recommend books to customers but my Classics Challenge fell short. I took on the task to read one classic a month and only read six books. Five I even reviewed on this blog. I realize there are just too many books in the world I need to read. One more thing, the writing fell short. I didn’t keep up with the blog schedule I put forth and even behind the scenes I was unable to cut out time. All completely my fault. Exhaustion, stress, laziness, work and plans won most of my time.

After all that how do I make the up and coming 2016 better. Keep reading, keep fighting the procrastination writing fight, and be a little more forgiving of oneself. I signed up for the Goodread’s challenge again and hope to read another 50 books in 2016.

Neil Gaiman wrote, “May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art — write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.”

I now hope to surprise myself.

Happy and Healthy New Year to everyone!

 

Story From A Bookstore Employee

I work in a bookstore. An older man walks up to the information desk. I say “Hello” and he starts telling me a very long story. He had something that happen to him 40 or 50 years ago and he would like it publish. In fact, he has a lot of stories he would like to have publish. He doesn’t know where to start since, he says, he doesn’t write well. He was hoping to find a ghostwriter and would like to know how he can start in publishing his book. I tell him if he goes to the reference section in my store there is a subsection were he can find many titles to teach him how to go about finding a ghostwriter, agent, and publisher.
“I don’t want to read a book about it I just want to know how,” he says without skipping a beat.

We go through this exchange a few times in different ways. Always him telling me what he is looking to do and me telling him I don’t exactly know but there are many books on the subject to help in his search. If I say you probably need an agent or publisher to help you find a writer, he asks for an agents phone number as if I have one handy for these situations. I tell him I don’t have a number but there is a book published every year with a list of agents and publishers and their contact information. He says, “No, that’s not what I’m looking for,” and moves on to more questions about the process.

Around the third or fourth runaround I lose my patience and just say, “I don’t know I can’t help you” to his questions. He isn’t at the bookstore for a book and I can’t keep going though these repetitive motions trying to be “nice and helpful.” Maybe that’s mean but I only have so much tolerance in this situation. I gave you the information to start you on your path now do the work.

Just Write!

I’ve lost my writing schedule rhythm but I’m fighting to get it back. My changing work schedule and life are keeping me from pen and paper. I know I need to write more often in order to improve but I can’t seem to find the time or energy to motivate myself. When I do write, my new enemy is hesitation. Even now as I write this I am having trouble finding the thoughts I want to record and share. There is a struggle to not delete but I do because all of it doesn’t seem to sound right. Of course, I expect to struggle and fight to find time and subjects to write about. My brain is a dried ball on a pen. The pen is not empty. Oh, no. All I need is rapid scribbling to help the ink seep out once again. Until then I will often cringe and pause knowing this feeling will pass the more often I write. No matter the mental brawl, I will just write.

Book Review on A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn

I received an ARC from my job. It in no way sways my review. I have read Deanna Raybourn’s Julia Grey series and I loved them so I was excited to hear the author is writing another historical fiction series with another strong female protagonist at the center.

Veronica Speedway has no attachments after burying her aunt. She is finally free to resume her travels abroad with scientific studies involving her passion, butterflies. But when she returns home from the funeral finds an intruder that tries to kidnap her. With help from Baron Maximillian von Stauffenbach they defeat the kidnapper. The Baron reveals he knows about her past and believes she is in danger. Offering a ride to London and the promise to answer her questions she excepts. But when he drops her with an old friend of his, Stoker, for protection she finds herself thrown into an exciting adventure when the Baron is discovered murdered.
This was an amazing novel. The book is fast paced and keeps the adventure moving, fun, and never dull. I really enjoyed Veronica Speedwell. She is nothing like Julia Grey but still very likable. She was smart, stubborn, and funny. She is not the romanic troupe readers of historical fiction have been bombarded with and it’s refreshing. I loved her fight to be the independent woman not excepted during those times. Stroker was a little hard to pin down. He is grouchy and tight lipped about his past. I thought he could be prickly but he definitely grows on the reader. It could be because of the interaction and relationship between Veronica and Stroker. Their dialogues throughout the book are smart conversations and arguments which grows and helps the characters see each other as equals.

I can’t wait to read more mysteries involving these characters and see where their relationship can go. I’m sad to say goodbye to Lady Julia Grey but Veronica Speedway is a worthy successor. I am certainly recommending this book to others.

A Curious Beginning  By Deanna Raybourn

Classic Number Six: Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea

Still trying to read a classic a month and June’s read was Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne. Published in 1869, it is astonishing the then future technology that was imagined in this Science-Fiction novel. It tells the story of Professor Aronnax after he, his servant Conseil, and Canadian whaler Ned Land wash up on Captain Nemo’s submarine the Nautilus. They embark on an underwater adventure that takes them around the world.

First off, while reading this, I had to keep reminding myself the technology thought up for this novel was ahead of it’s time. I did skim over some Verne’s extensive scientific descriptions but the action and plot were really riveting. There is a clear picture painted of this underwater world and I loved the descriptions of the life under the sea. The author leads his characters and the reader to the red corals of the Red Sea, lost shipwrecks from historic battles, and the discovery of Atlantis. And the pace of the story improves when the characters use diving suits to go pearl hunting and fight a giant squid. The biggest mystery is not in the depths of the ocean but the people themselves. The reader is the witness to the curious Captain Nemo’s decisions and it is only hinted at why the Captain choices to exile himself from the world. While I’m okay with the mystery of the Nemo’s past and motive, it does make you wonder about a man who will give a whole pouch of pearls to a poor Indian pearl diver but at the end destroy the lives of so many and leave his men up to a possible devastating fate.

I think this is a very worth wild read if you can get pasted the scientific jargon. It will not be a read for everyone but I am happy I read it.

Classic Number Five: The Stranger

I’m falling behind on the classic challenge. I started and finished my May pick, The Stranger by Albert Camus, late. I bought this book at The Last Bookstore while I was on vacation and I’m so glad I did. What a great read although like many classic it is not a fairy tale. There is no happily ever after. Many may find the first person narrative boring since the main character, Meursault, is indifferent to all that is happening around him. The book starts with Meursault at his mother’s funeral. He express no remorse, and returns home. I had trouble with this scene. I felt it exhibit the expectation of certain emotions from others in different situations. But as the story goes on he is unaffected by the neighbor who abuses his dog, or a woman. The day after the funeral he meets, Marie. They go swimming, go to a comedy film, and he lives the appearance of a normal life. He expresses no issue with helping write a letter for his other neighbor, Raymond, to a girl who did him wrong. This indirectly gets him involved with the girl’s Arab brother. After a confrontation where Raymond is cut with a knife they return to the house. Meursault goes back out for a walk and ends up killing the Arab.

Part two of the novel follows Meursault’s thoughts during the trail and sentencing. He is prosecuted more for his moral character than the murder. After the trail Meursault finally has a moment of clarity when a priest comes to help him find solace and save his soul but Meursault sees “the benign indifference of the universe” like himself. Neither he or the world doesn’t pass judgement. Everyone will die and he finds a kind of freedom in this fact.

I can see this being a tough read for some. It is hard to follow Meursault and his lack of emotions. Readers will forever try to figure him out. This read will help you understand existentialism and make you think about life and how you relate to everything around you.