“Cream of the Crop” A New Review for A Jane Austen Daydream

My novel A Jane Austen Daydream has been out for a few years, but now and then a review appears online that warms the heart. This is one of those discoveries from a few days ago.

Erin, who is currently #38 top reviewer and #8 best reviewer on GoodReads, recently discovered the audiobook of A Jane Austen Daydream.

She gave the audiobook version five stars, saying:

Well, this book took hold of me and I listened to it during every moment of the day, right up until my head hit the pillow. Seriously, this book is so goooood!!!… Now I have read my share of reimaginings, sequels, inspirations, and fanfictions of Jane Austen and her books, but “A Jane Austen Daydream ” is by far the “cream of the crop.” I laughed and cried and was just so pleased that someone could bring Jane Austen and her world back to life in the pages.

You can read the entire book review here (but prepare for spoilers!, consider yourself warned).

If you have not read or discovered my novel A Jane Austen Daydream, you can learn more about it on this website here. It is available on amazon in paperback, eBook, and audiobook. I hope you will check it out!

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Uses of This World: Chapter 8

hamlet-and-ghostDenmark 1926. The world is on a powder keg, the old world is in conflict with the new, still recovering from World War I. Jazz and flappers. Cocktails and parties. In this tumultuous time, the king of Denmark is found dead… but his spirit is not at rest.

Uses of this World is the tale of the people around the events of Hamlet, from the soldiers to the royal family. Each is tied to the outcomes around the crown. And the country, as well as the world, is waiting to see what happens next.

Previous Chapters

Chapter 8: Son

For the first time in Prince Hamlet’s life he felt lost. Truly lost. This was not the garden maze of his youth. The well-worn turns and dead ends were now covered with dark leaves and thorns.

Unearthly. Unholy.

These thorns dripped black blood and stank of time and neglect.

Hamlet remembered chasing after the vision of his father, racing down the stairs of the parapet walls, and into the royal garden maze. Then everything changed. Not just in the environment but in his mind. The fog was everywhere, more than covering the ground, sticking to the very air around him, entering him, becoming part of him.

What time was it? How long had he been in the maze?

“Mark me,” a dead voice echoed around him in the air; like a wind, passing by and then racing away.

Hamlet stopped, he felt out of breath. Was he out of breath or was the air so dead that there was little for the living? “I will.”

A path opened up in the maze in front of him; the thorns turning aside, granting passage, with breaks and splinters in the wood and vine. The leaves on this new path were a dark green but eerie bright. The green reminded the prince of the glow of the kingly specter. A nightmare was in front of Hamlet, welcoming him, and he entered. Continue reading

Uses of This World: Chapter 7

GhostDenmark 1926. The world is on a powder keg, the old world is in conflict with the new, still recovering from World War I. Jazz and flappers. Cocktails and parties. In this tumultuous time, the king of Denmark is found dead… but his spirit is not at rest.

Uses of this World is the tale of the people around the events of Hamlet, from the soldiers to the royal family. Each is tied to the outcomes around the crown. And the country, as well as the world, is waiting to see what happens next.

Previous Chapters

Chapter 7: Father

The night air was stale and cold. It lingered not on the skin, but on the tongue, on the breath and in the lungs.

“The air bites shrewdly. It is very cold,” Hamlet said, a little louder than a whisper. Yet, his voice traveled easily among the group waiting on the parapet walls that dark night.

Horatio replied before the two soldiers. “It is a nipping and an eager air.”

Was that sarcasm? Even here? Hamlet couldn’t help but be impressed by his American friend. Yet, the more he studied Horatio in the shadows of the torches, he was not like his old self. The smiles were forced, the face more pale and wrinkled; like the blood was dripping from him, but to where?

The previous nights of the specter were marked by a fog, an eeriness, as if the world enjoyed taking part in some foreboding. Now, there was nothing. Just nothing. Like the dry air in a tomb.

“What hour now?” Hamlet asked.

“I think it lacks of twelve.”

Hamlet shook his head. “No, it’s struck.”

“Indeed? I heard it not.” Continue reading

Uses of this World: Chapter 6

OpheliaDenmark 1926. The world is on a powder keg, the old world is in conflict with the new, still recovering from World War I. Jazz and flappers. Cocktails and parties. In this tumultuous time, the king of Denmark is found dead… but his spirit is not at rest.

Uses of this World is the tale of the people around the events of Hamlet, from the soldiers to the royal family. Each is tied to the outcomes around the crown. And the country, as well as the world, is waiting to see what happens next.

Previous Chapters

Chapter 6: Watchman to My Heart

Ophelia was always running, because Ophelia was always late.

Through the hall, into the kitchen, past the guards outside the queen’s chambers (no time for a wave, but she did hear the soldiers call after her), a sprint down two hallways, down a flight of stairs, through another kitchen, and she was in the quarters that her family and the other families of the advisors called home.

He didn’t come to the library today. She was not surprised, considering the state he was in at the morning assembly, but she was still hopeful. Forever the optimist. Now she was late. That is where hope got her.

Her shoes were in her hands as she ran barefoot. The shoes were not made for running and the dress wasn’t either. Usually, she would be adorned in something more casual, more comfortable (but still presentable), but her father expected her to wear her best dress because they would be presented before the king and the entire court. He thought with this look she appeared more nobly. She just thought it made her look childish.

When would her dad see her as an adult? Of course, he would have to first see her.

Around a corner and down some stairs, if she was in a different dress she would have been sliding on the banister. This part was home to her. She past two maids, she heard them snicker as she past. She must have looked like in such a state.

Her governess (who should have retired two years prior) put her hair up in the style of a decade ago. It would have been the height of fashion then, now it was just frustrating and kept flopping in front of her face with each step.

Ophelia was unhappy with her entire look. She dreamed of a short haircut like the bobs the Americans were wearing in her magazines and silent movies, but her father would never have approved of that. She was so certain of that, she never bothered to ask.

An entire childhood of “no’s.” Ophelia had no reason to believe that another word was possible from his lips.

Another corner and…

There was her handsome older brother, ready with suitcase in hand, leaving his room. The look he gave her made her blush. He knew why she almost missed his departure.

He knew she was waiting for him. Continue reading

Five Things I Am Into Right Now, July 2016

This introduction has some spoilers for Game of Thrones, but seriously not a big deal. Don’t worry, I got your back.

Game-of-Thrones-Jon-SnowOkay, I have to say something about Game of Thrones. I have no choice. The fact I am only doing here as an intro is pretty surprising, since I find what we just saw happen over the season fascinating.

Every year I complain about the show. About the darkness, the violence, the aggression. Sometimes I am taking on George R.R. Martin, sometimes the writers of the show. But this season was easily the best the show had ever done.

I think a big part is that they weren’t slowed down by Martin’s books. Honestly, the last two books felt like filler for me. Something to extend the shelf life of the series as compared to moving the story forward. Obviously, the TV writers agreed with me when they cut those two books down to one season on the show.

My big love of the season is finally we are getting some comeuppance on the more villainous characters and we are getting answers to things that book readers have been debating for years. It almost makes a fan of the books want to send a thank you card and a box of chocolate to HBO.

Yet, I wonder what it is doing to Martin. It must be really hard to sit down at the computer each day and work on a book that has been spoiled for so many already. He must feel like he is just going through the motions. It almost makes me wonder if we will ever see the next two books in the series. Wouldn’t it at some point feel like writing one of those lame novels adapted from a film screenplay?

Read the book about the movie you just saw! Experience it again on the page! You loved it on the screen, just wait until you experience it again inside your head, written by someone unconnected to the screenplay or production who is just doing it for the paycheck!

Anyway, Game of Thrones is done. Here are the five things I am really into this summer not related to dragons. Continue reading

Five Things I Am Into Right Now, January 2015

This is Lightning. She only has bad daysSo I’m going through a thing with a video game.

Do you remember this post? (The reference is only a few paragraphs, it won’t take you long.) There I am praising Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII.

You can feel the love.

It could be argued that it was the honeymoon stage of my relationship with the game.

See, I’ve had a long relationship with Lightning and her role-playing world, playing both of the installments before starting on the third and final part (I’m sure it could almost equal entire months if the hours were embarrassingly added together). And, as you can guess from the post then, everything was going swimmingly in our relationship. We laughed at the same jokes, enjoyed discussing our past history…. Then this damn monster called Grendel appeared in a desert world and ruined everything for us.

Ruined, ruined, ruined!

Now, I love the literary reference in the monster’s name, so the creators get points for that, but that monster destroyed my infatuation with the game and world and Lightning and sent me away. (Actually, over to Gotham City and a Batman game.) It’s not often I leave a game unfinished, especially a Final Fantasy game, so it was rough. I like to think it felt that way to Lightning too.

So here I am, it’s a new year, and I am looking for new beginnings, new possibilities. And since Lightning and I have such a long past I decided to give it another shot….

Of course, this time I am wisely playing on easy.

I have no video game shame.

Here is my first list for 2015, and speaking of video games… Continue reading

The Stony Hue of a January Morn

January1 of 3

there is
no beauty
in a January snow
and
it conveys
no possibilities-

January cold
does not touch your nose
or tickle your skin-
it begins in your bones
deep in your marrows
then slinks out
like a death
never letting go-

there is a limit
in our cold, cold steps
and each could be the fated last
but we trudge
trudge
trudge forward
never running
forever counting down-

the sun is lost
baked red, hidden away-
the gray clouds will not free it
trapped like an animal
in a dark covered cave
waiting and growling deep-

when the world ends
it will look like a January morn-
quiet-
soulless-
colorless-
void-
and no amount of breath will bring it back- Continue reading

My Christmas Story “Kris and Me” is on Green Spot Blue

Mele Kalikimaka readers!

My Christmas short story “Kris and Me” is being showcased on GreenSpotBlue.com for the holidays (and if you haven’t visited that site before, you should. It’s an interesting mix of literature, parenting, and hip finds on the internet). Here is an excerpt from the beginning of the story:

Let’s get this out of the way first. Kris has always had a magnificent beard. Even as a freshmen, when the rest of us were dreaming for just the hint of a stubble, Kris had a full rich beard. Yes, the girls would giggle about it behind his back, but all of us boys were jealous, because we thought it made him look rugged and a little dangerous.

I once asked about his beard. “How can you stand it, Kris?”

“What do you mean?”

“Doesn’t it drive you a little crazy? Isn’t it scratchy? Don’t you want to shave?”

He merely shrugged in response to it. “I like who I am.”

Strangely, that response made me a little jealous too.

You can read my entire story here. I hope you will check it out!

Merry Christmas to my now 1548 blog followers! And my attempt at the worst Christmas movie ever!

Seriously, the worst Christmas record cover ever. I don’t know why I always get shocked by bad holiday stories. I already complained this year about the cruel Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas (here) but this weekend I found something even worse. Wow, this is bad.

I don’t know the title of it, but it involved talking puppies. Okay, talking animals I can get behind a little bit, but the family they are staying with have their house go into foreclosure. They sneak away, leaving the mommy dog and her puppies in the house. Then animal control shows up and takes the mommy dog away, leaving the puppies! But wait! We aren’t done. Then the house is broken into by a group of teenage hoodlums, who want to sell the puppies on the black puppy market…. Okay, it was then I stopped watching. (I expect better Netflix!)

So it got me thinking, can I come up with a worse Christmas movie idea? Can I?  Also, it turns out it has been a while since I have done something fun to thank my blog followers. The last time I did it was when I reached 1300 followers, but now I am at 1548. So… yeah… I am due for something silly.  (Oh, and thank you for following!)

So, to my wonderful followers and readers, I wish to proudly present my advertisement for the worst Christmas movie ever- 24 ‘Til Snow!

24 ‘Til Snow!

Dickie Wayne III (frat brother, smooth playboy and eternal mischief-maker) has just inherited his grandfather’s ski lodge. But there is no snow! And if there isn’t snow by Christmas all of the guests will cancel and he will be ruined before he can even start! What is there to do? Why have a wild Bikini Christmas party of course! But what will happen when that snooping sheriff and his talking deputy dog learn that Dickie doesn’t have a liquor license?

24 ‘Til Snow!

Oh no! Santa drank from Big Lug’s secret family recipe moonshine! How will the guys ever get him sober enough to deliver the rest of the presents before Christmas morning? Keep your clothes on Santa!

24 ‘Til Snow!

Trixie (Dickie’s younger sister) has sneaked into the party and wants to learn the true meaning of love. How can Dickie, the playboy to end all playboy, protect his sister from his frat brothers and teach her the truths about the heart?

24 ‘Til Snow!

Aliens!

24 ‘Til Snow!

In a very heartfelt moment with a poor family, Dickie and his guests learn the true meaning of Christmas… now back to partying!

24 ‘Til Snow!

It turns out that grandfather’s lodge has been a secret meeting spot for Russian spies since World War II. And the Russians have hidden their top-secret codes inside of the lining of Dickie’s grandfather’s fedora. The same one Dickie has been wearing all night! Can the rookie (and hot) FBI agent save Dickie’s life… without falling in love?

24 ‘Til Snow!

Fun for the whole family! (Rated R)

Kris and Me: A Christmas Story in 3 Parts

??????????????????????????????????????????????Part 1

Let’s get this out of the way first. Kris has always had a magnificent beard. Even as a freshmen, when the rest of us were dreaming for just the hint of a stubble, Kris had a full rich beard. Yes, the girls would giggle about it behind his back, but all of us boys were jealous, because we thought it made him look rugged and a little dangerous.

I once asked about his beard. “How can you stand it, Kris?”

“What do you mean?”

“Doesn’t it drive you a little crazy? Isn’t it scratchy? Don’t you want to shave?”

He merely shrugged in response to it. “I like who I am.”

Strangely, that response made me a little jealous too.

Mountain man was the best way to explain Kris’s look in those early days with his heavy and muddy boots, black pants, and thick red coat. He always dressed as if it was winter, even during the warmest days.

Kris and I were locker buddies. This was not out of friendship at first, but because our last names were close together, my name being Stewart Kristin. Only two people in my life has ever called me Stewie though. The first was my grandmother who I loved dearly, the second was Kris. The first time Kris did it, I blinked a little surprised.

“Is it okay?” he asked. He almost sounded nervous, noticing my reaction.

“It’s fine,” I said and for some reason it sounded good coming from him.

With the approval Kris laughed. Kris always had a deep, rich laugh that came right from his belly. And Kris would laugh a lot. I mean, seriously, alot. He laughed at every bad joke, and he told many; usually ones that were far too clean for a high schooler’s taste.

The only thing he would not laugh at was another’s misfortune. He was always the first to stop a bully or a fight, being there before even a teacher or vice-principal had a whiff of it. His stern and disappointed look would immediately cool the situation. No one wanted to be on Kris’s bad side… ever. Continue reading