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

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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

Uses of this World: Chapter 5

Hamlet

Denmark 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 5: Things Rank

A jerk.

A twitch.

Prince Hamlet was awake again.

How long had he been asleep? And what did he remember?

It took a minute.

He remembered starting to drink the absinthe the night before. When he would drink it with Horatio, it was always in sips, but alone and without companions he took on the entire bottle. When he began he hoped for the madness and visions that others claimed they would receive.  And Hamlet hoped in his visions to see his father, alive, brilliant and with that sense of safety only a loved child would understand.

No visions came, only a headache and some memory loss.

There was the morning assembly. Hamlet peeked an eye open and glanced around. He was in the portrait gallery. He closed his eyes again and searched through the messy remains of his memory. Was there a crowd? His finger traced along the chair arm he was resting against. He knew that too. He was asleep on the throne.

It was all a blur, flickering lights and images, like broken reels of a film spliced together all wrong, little bits of memory returning.

He remembered Ophelia bowing (her dress concealing too much), his uncle (his father now, that is what he called himself this morning) stroking that ridiculous long and thin black mustache of his. Hamlet wasn’t certain, but he might have been named the heir to the throne. Well, he was used to playing that part. Continue reading

Catch up on the new online book- Uses of this World

Hamlet Illustrated ClassicGreetings readers!

Why we all wait for the new Harry Potter book and tickets for Hamilton (seriously, I can’t wait to see that show, I’m addicted to the soundtrack), I’ve been working on a brand new novel online.

As I said in this opening discussion about it (here), it is an incredibly snobby enterprise. Prove it? I’m trying to reimagine my own version of Hamlet.

I know, I know…  Hamlet… Shakespeare… there is a chance there might be some eye rolling going on right now over the internet. But if I do this right, it should be a very engaging and interesting book with no prior knowledge of the Bard needed.

Denmark, 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.

This new book, Uses of this World, will be created here online, and I will be putting up a new chapter each time they are ready. Just this week I shared Chapter 3, finally getting up to the first scene in my favorite play.

Why not take this moment to catch up?

Here are three links to the first entries in this new writing experiment. I hope you will give it a try. I’m really enjoying the work and the process around it.

Uses of this World: Chapter 2

Cover Image

Prologue and Chapter 1

Chapter 2: Teach You to Drink

Everyone who is anyone in Europe knew Horatio.

American playboy, scholar, dreamer, writer, and spoiled drunken rich brat… at least that is what the people that didn’t like him said behind his back, including all of the gossip magazines. Horatio’s arrival in Europe landed with the start of the Jazz age and it was as if he had disembarked with his own soundtrack and style in hand. He was the one that introduced the young French populations to dances such as the shim-sham and perfected the art of the cocktail. He was then original and so very brilliant.

With the death of his rich grandfather the great Forster estate was his. Horatio had no interest in the oil enterprise that made the Forsters so prosperous. Even when his grandfather was alive and tried to introduce him to the family business, Horatio shocked the family by merely (and dangerously) lighting a cigarette by an open canister and simply shrugging his shoulders.

He was twelve at the time. Continue reading

Book Review: Star Wars Aftermath by Chuck Wendig

Star Wars Aftermath

Book Review: Star Wars Aftermath by Chuck Wendig

A lot of people are going to be disappointed in this book.

Some are going to hate the fact how little it sets up the next movie, answers questions we have, tells us what happened to our favorite characters in our favorite galaxy.

Others are going to be bothered by how this book is made for fans, not the everyday, casual reader. Alien names are thrown around with abandonment, assuming the readers know what they look like. Minor characters from the movies walk in and out of scenes as if we should know who they are. It is not a friendly book and will not draw new readers to future books. Even I, a lifetime fan of Star Wars, would probably need convincing before picking up another Star Wars novel.

For me though my biggest disappointment was with the writing. The author lists himself as a screenplay writer and that is obvious since it feels like a screenplay in many ways. Simple. Straight to the point. Dry. There is no literary art here, no sweeping moment of prose that will take you away. Nothing that embraces what makes books and literature a unique medium for telling a story. Honestly, I don’t think I could pick out any of the characters in a police lineup if I had to.

Then there are the “cute” moments in the book. The slight nod to Game of Thrones (the “Shooty” end of a blaster), the dialogue that sounds a little too contemporary as compared to from a galaxy far, far away. With such great writing done for The Clone Wars and Rebels TV shows, it is sad they couldn’t have found one of those writers to take it on. But you know with the love of Star Wars now, imagine if they could have gotten a real author to do it? The mind boggles at the idea. I cannot imagine any author from Generation X and younger saying no to the possibility. Why not try that in the future Disney? (Of course, I would rather write an Indiana Jones adventure, but that is just me.)

In the end, everyone will be disappointed… well, everyone probably but the author, his agent, and Disney’s pocketbook.

EBOOK SALE! Hey Janeites! A Jane Austen Daydream is only 99 cents for the Kindle! Limited time!

A Jane Austen Daydream“Scott Southard’s Jane is a delightful creature.” -Austenprose.com

“I consider this novel one of the best not only in regency era literature, but also in mainstream fiction.” -NovelTravelist.com

For a limited time, Madison Street is having a sale on the eBook of A Jane Austen Daydream! You can grab a copy today for only 99 cents! Here is the link: http://amzn.com/B00CH3HQUU

All her heroines find love in the end–but is there love waiting for Jane?

Jane Austen spends her days writing and matchmaking in the small countryside village of Steventon, until a ball at Godmersham Park propels her into a new world where she yearns for a romance of her own. But whether her heart will settle on a young lawyer, a clever Reverend, a wealthy childhood friend, or a mysterious stranger is anyone’s guess.

Written in the style of Jane herself, this novel ponders the question faced by many devoted readers over the years–did she ever find love? Weaving fact with fiction, it re-imagines her life, using her own stories to fill in the gaps left by history and showing that all of us–to a greater or lesser degree–are head over heels for Jane.

“If asked to sum up this book in one word, I would have to choose “unpredictable”… you will, in the end, be rewarded by a quick paced novel unlike any you can ever have read, which injects new ideas and possibilities into the world of Jane Austen.” -The Jane Austen Centre

Published by Madison Street Publishing, A Jane Austen Daydream has also been released as an audiobook! Narrated by the amazing Louisa Gummer, you can find it on Audible and iTunes.

“A definite read for all Jane Austen fans!” -Laura’s Little Book Blog

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Permanent Spring Showers by Scott D. Southard

Permanent Spring Showers

by Scott D. Southard

Giveaway ends July 31, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Please, Make It Stop: A Rant About Game of Thrones

DragonAvast there, me hearties! Here thar be spoilers aplenty! (Wait! It’s not Talk Like a Pirate day? What was I thinking?)

Let’s get this out of the way first. We’ve all been holding off saying this for a while, but it’s time.

Game of Thrones is a soap opera.

I don’t know about you, but I feel a lot better after saying it.

I’ve recently found an interview with George R.R. Martin where he argues his book series is not a soap opera, maybe it was his way of preparing an argument before it came at him from outside his circle, but it is. Both the TV series and his book series… two words… soap opera.

Look, I hate to say it as much as the next person. The idea of someone truly doing something new in a very established (and usually predictable genre) is an awesome idea. He combined the history of the middle ages and fantasy… but the result is a freaking soap opera. With history almost being used as an excuse (or as a resource) for twists that help the soap opera continue.

Consider:

  • Soap operas and A Song of Ice and Fire both has multiple POVs of good and questionable individuals.
  • Both end every moment in a cliffhanger (You can almost hear the “stay tuned” at the end of some of the chapters in the books).
  • Both have meandering plots (I feel like I should be capitalizing meandering; no seriously, all caps).
  • Time seems to have its own rules. And both have marriages that seem to last for the same amount of time (and just like in soap operas most are bad matches).
  • And both are not working towards a clean resolution. There is no Mount Doom in sight from what I can see.

Oh, and all of these points is before I even bring up the fact that George R.R. Martin used to work in television and was a writer on a popular fantasy-lite soap opera in the 1980s.

Game of Thrones is a soap opera with people in funny costumes and dragons and we have bought into it.

Heck, I didn’t just buy in, I bought the DVDs, the books, the shirts and even gave them as Birthday presents to people I love. (I was like: “Hi, I love cocaine, I want you to take it too. Here- Happy Birthday!”) Continue reading

An interview with Books Direct about new novel Permanent Spring Showers (Book Tour Day 9)

Even Superman writes!Just two days left on the book tour, which also means the book giveaway is coming to an end. You can enter on any of the sites I have been on over the last two weeks. Today, I’m on Book Direct with a new interview.

What is really cool is that Lynda Dickson who runs the site is actually reading the book right now and gave this update before my interview:

I have started reading this book and am enjoying it immensely. It’s like nothing I have read before. The plot and structure are extremely original and the writing is superb.

That quote kind of made me feel like the guy I put up in the corner of this post.

We cover a lot of the writing and inspiration behind the novel in the interview. It is chock full of my experiences and advice since I began this mad little writing adventure.  One example is this answer I gave around my hopes for the work:

There are a lot of layers to Permanent Spring Showers and none of the answers are very clear since it only covers three months in the characters’ lives. It really, in a way, is a book made for book clubs and the classrooms and discussions over coffee. What does it mean to be a good person? What is a good decision? Does great art truly justify everything? What is love? Is anyone truly happy?

Heck, I love books like this, works that dare readers to come to their own decisions, not having them dished out in a nice clean spoonful. What can I say? The book makes me happy. Hopefully, it will inspire its readers as well.

You can read the entire interview, enter the giveaway, check out other reviews, and take a gander at an excerpt here.

This was the ninth appearance on the book tour and the third interview (the other two can be found here and here). I have also written six guest posts on the book. They are on a range of topics from how it feels to write an anti-romance (here), eccentric characters (here), then about passion and sex in the book (here), the importance of springtime (here), and even some advice for new writers (here).Permanent Spring Showers

Hey! Did you know there is a sale on the book right now!?! Just for the tour, the eBook of Permanent Spring Showers is on sale! Just $1.99, it can’t get cheaper than that! So there is no better time to grab a copy. You can find it on amazon for Kindle here and for the NOOK here.