Book Review: The Gaiad

the-gaiad

In a society increasingly buried under the weight of its own insularity, an ancient and shadowy group selfishly guards a secret with the power to change everything. Tonight, on a stage in front of thousands, one of their members commits a horrible, shocking act. In the audience is Detective Fleur Romano. Bitter and world-weary, she vows to uncover the reasons behind the horror she just witnessed. In the process, she’ll discover that she’s led her lonely life ignorant a fundamental truth, a truth first discovered by a man who walked the earth millennia ago, a man mysteriously familiar.

In this powerful debut, William Burcher is willing to explore unique and fantastic themes with realism and grit. The GAIAD boldly poses big questions. What do we lose, as we separate ourselves from the earth and each other? What would the future hold, if suddenly something changed with that most fundamental of relationships—the one we have with our own planet?

Three Stars

three-stars

An original storyline based on a big idea.

The Gaiad’s intriguing premise is what brought me to it after meeting the author at a local writer’s event. Burcher tackles big, societal questions and challenges how we might think about our planet and our relationship with it through the eyes of a somewhat jaded police detective, the secret society she is about to come in violent contact with, and members of a civilization who lived their lives in a much simpler way that was more in harmony with the earth and her gifts.

Overall the writing is good. There were some awkward sentence structure issues and a couple of sudden instances of profanity that didn’t seem to mesh smoothly with the general theme and plot to me. Especially when uttered by the ancient people in the book. No, I’m not some prude who can’t handle a little profanity. This is where the three stars come in. The Gaiad is a good book with a great plot. The few things that pulled me out of the book were not nearly enough for a sub-par rating.

If you’re into alternative philosophies, thrillers, mysteries, and secret societies, I would encourage you to give this book a read.

Remember, just because this book wasn’t quite my cup of tea with crumpets on a beautiful spring day in an English garden, doesn’t mean it’s not yours. As it goes with any book, if it sounds interesting to you READ IT! Then help the author out and kindly REVIEW IT! Reviews are critical to any writer’s success.

If you’ve read The Gaiad, feel free to let me know what you thought. Let’s discuss.

 

 

Excerpt from Lux Lucis Proeliator

Here we go…it’s been a while friends and fiends of the blogosphere. I’ve been busy with a number of things including writing my first novel. The following is an excerpt from my newly finished novel Lux Lucis Proeliator (The Light Warriors) in which we meet James Brigand. Irish, doctor, and high-ranking Proeliator who doesn’t know it yet. Feedback is welcome and certainly considered.

Somewhere in the chilling drizzle doctor James Brigand thought he heard and even more chilling sound. An unearthly howling yanked him out of his lucid meditative state. It must have been that damned O’connell dog howling again, he thought he remembered some kind of warning about this kind of howling. Yes, there it was again, then a yelp, then silence. O’connell must have thrown a shoe at the animal as he often did to make shush him up, but then James realized it was too quiet. Rising from his meditation rug, and moving silently across the stone floor to the back window on bare feet, he drew back the curtain just a crack to see if he could see the dog in the back yard adjacent to his own. It was quite foggy and the drizzle had been coming down for days, but none of that changed what he saw with his own two eyes. Something was eating O’Connell’s dog alive and it was not animal nor human. In fact he wasn’t completely sure what it was he was looking at, but it somehow seemed vaguely familiar. Although James was sure he had but slit of the curtain open the creature locked eyes with him. Its eyes were red and wild, and strips of flesh and fur hung from its bloody maw that was lined with pointy, razor sharp teeth. It looked somewhat like Grogoch, but the Grogoch were benevolent creatures that helped with planting and domestic things asking nothing more than a jug of cream for their trouble. The Grogoch would certainly not eat one’s dog. The next thing James knew the creature had appeared at his window, just the other side of the glass. Its hideous jaws wide open and snarling like a rabid animal.

1st Time NaNoWriMo Observations: Pansters vs. Planners

So like a good little NaNoWriPar (National Novel Writing Month Participant) I’ve been following my local activity threads on the NaNoWriMo website. The first thing I notice is that there are few first-time participants like myself and these seem to me much younger than me. Oh well. C’est la vie. I didn’t get into this to hang out with any particular crowd. Our Municipal Liason (ML) is the owner of a local book store in her tenth year of doing NaNoWriMo. In an event where it seems that one is considered a winner simply by finishing, this seems to be big deal. And believe me, finishing, is no easy feat. We are talking 50,000 words in 30 days (November 1 – 30). Around 300,000 writers will participate and about 10% will actually finish. Pray for me people. Pray really, really hard!

An interesting dichotomy has garnered more of my attention as of late that is basic to writing and yet nonetheless fascinating. It is the division of the “pansters” and the “planners” otherwise known as “plotters” (suddenly I’m hearing the battle of the pugs and the poms from the musical Cats in my head). It’s not a new concept and much has been written on the subject. Basically, some writers write by the seat of their pants, throwing everything out there and seeing what ends up sticking during the rewrites, yes plural, meaning several. Obviously if you throw so much spaghetti at the ceiling, you’re going to have to clean it up. Others, opt for a more organized approach, these are the planners. Planners write outlines, make meticulous character development charts, create complicated story trees, map plot points, and basically leave as little to chance as possible. There are pros and cons to both approaches making neither one necessarily right or wrong except in the eye of the person doing the actual writing.

Pansters experience the divine art of creation through sheer imagination. A panster doesn’t think about where the story is going, how many scenes it’s going to take to develop each chapter, whether or not he is hitting plot points at the right time or if the character that just appeared out of nowhere is actually necessary to the story or what kind of ice cream she likes. Pantsters just write. In fact, the less thinking there is, the better. This allows for a purer channel for the story to come through and pantsters live on a kind of faith that their characters will come through and introduce themselves in all their idiosyncratic glory when the time is right. Of course this means tons of work on the tail end in the form of re-writes, but allows for a free and flexible flow of creativity. Sometimes pantsters don’t even know how a book is going to end until they are quite a ways into it. Hence the pantster runs a high risk of getting hopelessly lost in the big, scary forest of a story of her very own making <shiver>.

Planners/Plotters on the other hand, plan as much as possible on the front end of a project. They are the ones busy making outlines, developing story trees, mind-mapping and using any number of other ingenious organizational tools to map out a book long before any actual writing begins. By the time a good planner is finished with her planning, why, the book has nearly written itself. Unfortunately, writing this way doesn’t leave a lot of room for creative flexibility and when new material shows up that doesn’t fit into the paradigm of the world already built, it often must be scrapped or tabled for use somewhere else rather than be explored. However, Planners usually have little to do once the first draft is written as they’ve already planned out the entire thing and know how everything is going to turn out.

Who are these pantsters and plotters? Well, I’m about to drop some heavy duty, maybe even surprising names on you here:

Pantsters

Stephen King –

Preeminent “King” of horror, notorious pantster

Ray Bradbury –

Science fiction writer extraordinaire, pantster

Kim Olgren –

NaNoWriMo participant, multi-genre writer and blogger, pantster (okay, maybe not that big of a name…yet)

Planners

Charles Dickens –

Master Storyteller, planner

Edgar Allen Poe –

Yes, really, despite spending most of his time in one intoxicated state or another, planner

J.K. Rowling –

as with many fantasy writers, planner

Most writers fall somewhere in between the two. pantsters might use some plot points or a loose outline and many planners are not nearly as structured and rigid as the tools of the trade may indicate. However, I’m learning that many pantsters and planners are quite passionate about their particular approach to writing.

If you are a writer, which method do you prefer? Are you a pantster, riding the wave of the story and seeing it through to the end? Or are you a planner/plotter, putting things together with an end already in mind? Why does your particular method work so well for you?

Movie Review – The Avengers. See it. Feel Puny. Be thoroughly entertained.

Every so often I see a movie, hear music, see art, that I just have to share. I’ll write up a review and share it in hopes of showing others what’s out there. I believe that many of us just don’t have enough fun in life so when I find something fun I tend to shout it from the rooftops. This is one of those times.

I must open with a recommendation – to get the full entertainment impact of The Avengers (rated PG-13) you should have at least seen Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor or at least be familiar with the marvel comics versions of these characters. You should also be familiar with The Incredible Hulk. Although the movie is highly entertaining in its own right, knowing these characters in their recent movie setting adds a certain amount of depth.

That having been said and being familiar with said movies I am happy to report that I had a great time at this movie. My only disappointment was not knowing enough about superspy, Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow and outlaw archer, Clint Barton/Hawkeye, but knowing that this movie is based on Marvel Comics, and not being a big fan of comic books, I take responsibility for not doing my research on this before I went to the movie. Hence my recommendation above. You can find out more about any of the characters by checking out the IMDb page on The Avengers.

In The Avengers Nick Fury, Director of SHIELD, forms a group super human super heroes that are highly unlikely to succeed in cooperating with each other, into a kind of global threat response team. He pits this team against Thor’s bat crazy brother and his evil army to save humanity. That’s all I’m going to say about the plot because I don’t want to spoil it for those that haven’t seen it but are wondering if it’s worth the price of the ticket. Laughs, scifi gadgets galore, and terrific action. Yes, it’s worth the ticket.

Two-time Oscar Nominee, Robert Downey Jr. delivers what he does best as Tony Stark/Ironman. Hot, arrogant, bad boy/genius that really does have a heart under all that bravado…maybe. Ladies want to be with him and guys want to be him, but he doesn’t play well with others.

Oscar Nominee Mark Ruffalo delivers a great version of Bruce Banner the science and the man with a tortured soul behind the Hulk. His scruffy nature and cool façade can’t hide the anger that boils beneath the surface just waiting for an excuse to turn into a big green monster and start smashing everything in sight.

Chris Hemsworth, winner of ShoWest and Logie Awards, and teen Choice and People’s Choice nominee is Thor, true king of Asgard and brother to the bat crazy Loki. What can I say, Chris could be doing just about anything and it wouldn’t really matter to me because he’s hot! Hot! Hot! Seriously though, when the ego of a demigod and that of a bad/boy genius, or Hulk-ing monster collide, incredible action ensues.

The beautiful Scarlett Johansson is no stranger to the big screen. She’s been nominated for four Golden Globe awards and can be seen in Iron Man 2 among a myriad of other films. She brings the heart, edged with a little crazy to Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow. Oh, and this woman kicks some serious behind.

If you haven’t heard of Jeremy Renner, keep him on your radar. The Avengers isn’t the only blockbuster movie he’s worked on. Action seems to be his forte and he’s been a part of Mission Impossible 5, Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol, and Thor. I’m sure we will be seeing more of this guy. His boyish looks belie how dangerous he truly is.

Gwyneth Paltrow, an Oscar winning actress, is a superstar in her own right and plays Tony Starks right-hand gal/girlfriend, Pepper Potts. She’s beautiful, she’s got it together, and she seems to deftly handle Tony Stark when others are stymied to say the least.

Oscar nominee and winner of numerous other awards during his illustrious career, Samuel L. Jackson is Nick Fury, Director of SHIELD, referred to as simply the Director. Nick reports to a council in charge of this international intelligence agency, but like any good soldier guided by his heart, honor and a higher calling (and with a ton of secrets), he doesn’t always obey the council and can be quite dangerous.

Winner of various awards in the UK for his performances in film and on stage, Tom Hiddleston, is Loki. The brother that has lived in Thor’s shadow all his life only to find out that he’s not really and Asgardian at all. Driven insane by his long-held jealousy of his brother who has always been favored in his eyes and this new information, Loki raises an army to invade the home of Thor’s favored people – Earth. Loki hopes to gain revenge and ultimate power in the form of the tesseract.

The Avengers also boasts an awesome supporting cast including Cobie Smulders, of How I Met Your Mother fame and Stellan Skarsgard who also appeared in Angels and Demons and Mama Mia!

The Avengers is an action-packed, funny, and somehow inspirational film that’s just plain good times. Stay through the credits.