Juliette’s Book Club: Tales From the Edge of Oblivion

summerreading

While you’re on lock down at home you might just need some fun new reading material. Consider the themed anthologies from WPaD (Writers, Poets, and Deviants.) The books are fun, cover a wide range of genres, and include some of my stories too.

WPaD is the acronym for Writers, Poets and Deviants. We are a diverse group of writers who came together on the Internet to support and encourage each other.Our collaborative works are charity fundraisers, with a percentage of royalties being donated to Multiple Sclerosis in support of members of our group who live with MS.

Below is one of the stories from Goin Extinct: Tales from the Edge of Oblivion. At the end of the story is more information about WPaD and all of our books.

 

red heart

Captain Sandy and the Airship at the End of the World

(Published as author Marla Todd)

The end of the world had come and gone a long time ago. Of course I wouldn’t dare remind Captain Sandy of that extraordinary fact. He stood in the basket of the airship, hands on the control, the tails of his jacket blowing in the wind.

When the end of the world came the evil and the damned were gathered up and taken down to Hell. The pure and righteous were led up to Heaven in a golden white light.

That left the artists and writers, along with a lot of musicians, wine makers, computer programmers and antiques dealers. Of course there were others, but nobody that lacked a certain amount of creative or innovative spirit. One must have spirit and imagination to survive when the world ends without you.

It worked for me. Well, at least most of the time.

I honestly have to say, the world had become way too serious. I adjusted my goggles and scarf as I looked down on the tire fire that had been burning for the past 100 years. Adjusting the leather hood on my cat, I took him out of his basket to take a look. My five year old son Aaron stood on his toes to get a look as I held tight to the back of his jacket. I must have been a sight, boy in one hand, cat in the other.

Life was an adventure to be savored and enjoyed. It was a destroyed world being built up by those of us with visions of beauty and wonder. Captain Sandy always said this was Heaven. Of course I never told him otherwise. It was Heaven to be in the arms of my husband at night and feel the touch of his skin on mine, that is until I’d run my hand over the deep scars on his back. I called him my fallen angel. He would just laugh and kiss me as only an angel could kiss. Maybe it was Heaven for him since he was now dead, but I will never know unless I die too and find him there.

Once when I was younger my brother and I found some old movies in where everyone at the end of the world were driving big trucks and dune buggies as they shot anyone they came across. There were zombies and crazy fucks of all sorts fighting for the last clean water. It seemed they had unlimited amounts of fuel and bullets. No word of steam, solar and silent airships.

My brother and I laughed at the stupidity of it all. That was not our world. Ours was a world to create without hesitation or critical review. Our poets were considered as important as our politicians. Our sense of style always outweighed our sense of practicality. At least we kept telling ourselves that – all of us did as we banded together trying to give off an air of hope and strength. We created our own world going back to a time that didn’t really exist, where all things were possible and the modern world was still a beautiful dream.

Captain Sandy asked me what I was thinking that could have me looking so serious.

I told him and he just shook his head.

“Life isn’t a theater play like you make it out to be my dear. There are dangerous things out in dark areas of stench and smoke that would enslave us and make us into meals if they could. You’ve been protected in your leather and velvet bustle dresses and fanciful thoughts. It’s a good thing to be ignorant of the world but it is dangerous in ways you can’t imagine.”

“Captain,” I said, “you forget that the shadows took my husband. I take flights of fancy so I won’t fall out of the sky and die of sorrow.”

He turned and gave me a quick smile. Despite the dark pattern of scars on the left side of his face the Captain was still a handsome man with a dazzling smile. All the women were quick to notice him.

“Why are you alone Captain?”

“I’m not.”

“No wife or children?”

“I had a wife. She vanished when the world ended. I never knew if she went up or down or just vanished to dust. Who knows. The bitch could still be around somewhere.”

“So you’re alone,” I said.

“Just free of my wife.” He said nothing else then took off his hat and tied his long prematurely silver hair back with a ribbon he’d pulled from his coat pocket. “So, did you like movies back in the time before?”

I nodded. Of course I liked movies. Most of them were gone now. Rare stashes of films could be found and if we were lucky we’d find something to play them on.

Captain Sandy smiled a rare smile at me. “Sometimes I’m floating along above this all, all of this and I start thinking about Blade Runner and then my mind goes to Casablanca or off to Princess Bride then to In the Heat of the Night. I can run them all in my head, every line, every scene, every music score.”

I told him I did the same. We tend not to talk a lot about the time before the end of the world, but occasionally it comes out. We can’t deny our past. We just can’t help it.

“What did you do before, you know, the end of the world?” I asked the Captain point blank.

“I was a high school physics teacher. Physics and engineering to be exact. What did you do?”

“I produced reality TV shows. The last one was for MTV. Did you ever see Love Bytes?”

He laughed. “That was you? All of my students watched that show. Geeks and romance. A lot of them wanted to be on the show.”

The sky gradually started to turn dark. In the distance we could see lightning strike and the silhouettes of other airships.

I hugged my child and put a blanket around his shoulders. Aaron put his head on my lap and fell asleep. Captain Sandy sang softly a song that we both knew so long ago.

It seemed we’d been here for centuries, only the children aging and growing up.

As a rule we didn’t speak much of what we missed or how much. It was always there in the back of our minds. I missed skinny jeans and sweaters. I missed short tight dresses and yoga at the gym. I missed the music. I missed my friends and family. I missed my job. I even missed the orange trees in my back yard and the sound of the garbage truck at 6:45 am on Thursday mornings. I missed it all.

Captain Sandy turned suddenly and looked at me as if he could read my mind. “Don’t think of how things used to be. Don’t think of why we’re here.”

We both knew why we were here. Nobody wanted us. There was no place for us in Heaven but nobody in Hell wanted us either.

“You’ve got to admit,” the Captain continued, “we’re in a unique position. No matter how bad it looks, this is our world. I spent 18 years teaching kids to understand the building blocks of the universe. I thought I was contributing to the future of our young people so that they would make the world a better place.”

“Now it doesn’t matter,” I said in a rare show of depression over the events that brought us here.

“No. Now it matters more than ever. This is our world. Despite the shadows and ghouls, this is our world now, free and clear. We can still use the building blocks of science and art to make it the place we want it to be. Finally we can do it right.”

“You’re always such an optimist Captain Sandy but do you really believe that?”

“Of course I do. What other choice do I have?”

“You have a point,” I said, noticing the spark in his eyes.

He noticed that I’d noticed. “Look at this as the ultimate reality TV show.”

“If that is the case then who, Captain Sandy, gets the hot girl at the end?”

He smiled. “That depends on you.” Then he turned his face away from me to where I could only see the moon lit reflection of the scars that traced his jawline.

The crew of the airship came up on deck to view the stars and take in the night air. It was good to see them laugh and talk freely of the destination ahead. My son raised his sleepy head and laughed too. Maybe it wasn’t that bad after all. Maybe Captain Sandy would win the game and get the girl. I had a pretty good feeling he would.

Tangled Tales

This story was featured in the WPaD Anthology: Goin’ Extinct – Tales from the Edge of Oblivion. Available on Amazon B&N and with other fine online book sellers. Proceeds of all WPaD go to MS Research.

Coming Soon...

Who can come up with a dozen different ways to end the world? We can!
This apocalyptic collection of short stories explores numerous ways in which life as we know it could end. From the traditional nuclear apocalypse to cosmic events, zombies, mysterious alien substances, evil corporations and even… coffee. These stories will shock, entertain and tug at your heart strings. For your post-apocalyptic reading list, ‘Goin’ Extinct’ is a must-have.

Including stories and poetry from: Mandy White (Author), David W. Stone (Author), Diana Garcia (Author), Marla Todd (Author), Nathan Tackett (Author), J. Harrison Kemp (Author), David Hunter (Author), Michael Haberfelner (Author), Jade M. Phillips (Author), Gina McKnight (Author), Mike Cooley (Author), , Chris Da Cruz (Author), S.E. Springle (Author)

WPaD is the acronym for Writers, Poets and Deviants. We are a diverse group of writers who came together on the Internet to support and encourage each other.Our collaborative works are charity fundraisers, with a percentage of royalties being donated to Multiple Sclerosis in support of members of our group who live with MS.

 

Books by WPaD:

  • Nocturnal Desires: Erotic Tales for the Sensual Soul
  • Creepies: Twisted Tales From Beneath the Bed
  • Passion’s Prisms: Tales of Love and Romance
  • Dragons and Dreams: A Fantasy Anthology
  • Tinsel Tales: A Holiday Treasury
  • Silk She Is: Poetry of Daniel E. Tanzo
  • Goin’ Extinct: Tales From the Edge of Oblivion
  •  Creepies 2: Things That Go Bump in the Closet
  • Strange Adventures in a Deviant Universe (Science Fiction)
  • WPaD Weird Tales,
  • Creepies 3
  • Tinsel Tales 2 – Holiday Hootinanny

WPaD books are available worldwide in paperback and ebook editions.

 

Add Goin’ Extinct to your summer reading list today. You’ll thank me for it later. Also check out the other books from the WPaD group.

WPAD SciFi

Weirder Tales

Weirder Tales – Now Available on Amazon and other fine online bookstores. Proceeds to to MS Research.

wpad poster

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00LT240EA/ref=cm_sw_r_fa_dp_t2_LfZjybD530NJK

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Juliette’s Book Club: Last night I dreamt…

“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderly again.”
Daphne Du Maurier, Rebecca

Last night I dreamt I went to a rock concert in an old 1940’s movie theater. I paid for it with a credit card I found at an unknown location, and I took my cat with me. The cat ran off in the theater. Later after the show, which included several costume changes and fireworks I found the cat in a field next to the theater. I couldn’t find my car so we took a raised monorail home through a city that looked like it was right out of the Fritz Lang movie Metropolis. I never did figure out who the band was. Needless to say I do not steal credit cards or  take my cat to concerts. However I will always love the movie Metropolis and the book Rebecca.

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Daphne Du Maurier is one of my favorite authors. Her books are always mysterious, well written, and timeless.

Her villains are horrible. Her characters are vibrant. Her story lines will leave you on the edge of your seat, or glued to your book.

So today, while I write this still in a sleep haze of weird dreams and high winds trying to blow down my house, I recommend you read ANY books plays or stories by the amazing Daphne Du Maurier.

I’ve read that Du Maurier was somewhat cold, often called frosty when it came to other people. She was distant from her children. As an introvert she rarely gave interviews and disliked social gatherings. I would have thought she’d be the life of the party and had many many friends, and been a lovely mother. Go figure. Read the book and don’t worry about the author.

By the way, the move “The Birds”, you know Hitchcock “The Birds, was based on one of her stories.

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My favorites are Jamaica, Rebecca, and My Cousin Rachael.

  • Gerald: A Portrait (1934)
  • The du Mauriers (1937)
  • The Young George du Maurier: a selection of his letters 1860–67 (1951)
  • The Infernal World of Branwell Brontë (1960)
  • Vanishing Cornwall (includes photographs by her son Christian, 1967)
  • Golden Lads: Sir Francis Bacon, Anthony Bacon and their Friends (1975)
  • The Winding Stair: Francis Bacon, His Rise and Fall (1976)
  • Growing Pains – the Shaping of a Writer (a.k.a. Myself When Young – the Shaping of a Writer, 1977)
  • Enchanted Cornwall (1989)

 

I’ll see you next Monday for another Juliette’s Book Club.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

A Vampire Muses on Passion, Mr. Grey, Food and Marriage

February is here, and that means romance is in the air.

I first posted this a while back when we all had old computers, which were not so old at the time. Actually they were old as computers go. We all have new machines and life around my house has changed quite a bit, but one thing that never changes is romance. Romance, a sense of adventure, and of course food, and my love of books never changes.

A Vampire Muses on Passion, Mr. Grey, Food and Marriage

The teenager is using my computer, so I am using my husband’s. It is a lovely laptop with a 17 inch monitor. I have an old PC that is one heart beat away from death. It is maybe beyond death. It has Vista on it so it was dead before it even started to die. There is also an old Mac G5 on my daughter’s desk that once screamed with speed but now seems low and is not good friend with the Internet. So the child in on my Power Book Mac and I am on my husband’s lovely Dell laptop. I know for sure it is lovely because I gave it to him for his birthday and I was the one who figured out the specs etc, etc, etc.

The point of this is not computers. It is books and romance and writing. Some of you already know this, but my husband Teddy deals in antiques, antiquities and precious metals as a business. From time to time he leaves off bits of stuff on his desk. Not long ago in a box of odds and ends of gold and silver was a book. It was “The Last Man” by Zane Grey. Forget every single thing in Fifty Shades of… Zane is the man to go to for passion and romance. He is the one to go to for the agony of the heart. His mother had to have been a Bronte.

Zane Grey - Master American Story Teller

Zane Grey – Master American Story Teller

 

 

 

 

 

 

Despite the fact that it was published in 1922 it is HOT. And who said there was no romance back then. There was – especially in the great wild Western parts of the country (where I just happen to be from.)

The cover called to me so I had to open it up and read those words...

The cover called to me so I had to open it up and read those words…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I opened the book, just by random chance and came upon a paragraph that I was compelled to read.

“Again Ellen fell upon the soft pine-needle mat, face down, and she groveled and burrowed their, in an agony that could not bear the sense of light. All she had suffered was as nothing to this. To have awakened to a splendid and uplifting love for a man whom she had imagined she hatred, who had fought for her name and had killed in revenge for the dishonor she had avowed – to have lost his love and what was infinitely more precious to her not in her ignominy – his fault in her purity – this broke her heart.”

I had every intention of coming up to my husband’s computer to blog about food and the family dinner table, but Mr. Zane Grey swept me off of my feet. I’ll take Zane over Christian anytime. I’d even take Dorian Gray over the latest version.

Watch out honey, Dorian has a big ugly picture hidden away that you don't want to see!

Watch out honey, Dorian has a big ugly picture hidden away that you don’t want to see!

So back to food…

Vampires do not live on blood alone. OK we can, but we don’t.

We try to gather each night as a family, at the table. Sure the kids could ask to just grab a glass of blood and head up to their rooms, but we like the time as a family. My husband and I could just drink, but we like the time around a bit of food. Not too much just a bit.

We will gather around the table with a bit of rare meat sliced thin, maybe some seafood, hummus and thinly sliced vegetables, my own salsa, maybe some flat bread and goat cheese with fresh basil leaves or something small and light. Thick green Swiss chard and other vegetables are lightly sautéed in olive oil. Next to that is a plate of olives and cheese and some slices of fruit. It is just a bit, but enough to spark a conversation and talk about the day. As parents it is a opportunity to talk about school, and talk and talk and talk about school, both the academic and social aspects.

Tonight I was in the kitchen thumbing through one of Nigella’s books. I also like to check out Another Foodie Blogger (click here.) I make a lot of stuff. Today I cut a pork loin in butterfly fashion, pounded the jeebers out of it until it was thin and then rolled a lovely stuffing in it. That was tied with kitchen twine and put in the oven (where it still is 30 minutes later.) The stuffing was just fresh mozzarella cheese, a bit of spinach, a slice of bacon, fresh rosemary, garlic, onion and some more Italian type herbs plus any extra bits of pork that came off in the pounding. This was rolled up and then covered in a sauce I threw together of tequila, a bit of catsup, honey, dried onion flakes, a lot of herbs and spices and a splash of orange juice. And of course fresh rosemary from the yard. That was both inside and out. I know it will be good. Then I threw a couple of sweet potatoes (the orange kind) into the oven to bake (plain and whole.)

I wait for Teddy. He works 6 or more days a week because it is what he does. It is what most business owners do – they work. They work for money but there is something else that drives them. It is a passion and desire – not unlike a romance.

Some like to say that Vampires are bloodless and heartless, devoid of love and passion. That is so untrue. Even the most dead of our kind lives and breathes passion.

And speaking of sick and twisted passion (and my name isn’t Gray or Grey) I wrote a little story about pine needles and longing. CLICK HERE to read it.

My husband, the dad and the guy who works all the time is also a man of passion and romance. Right now he is downstairs with the teen discussing the latest airing of Bar Rescue with our daughter. Yes, folks you’ve come to the right place for high culture… anyway, my husband is a man of quiet romance and great passion. Unlike the men (be they Vampires, humans or other paranormal types) of movies and fiction he is here. There is no chase. There is no questioning motives. There is no mystery or inequality or hidden portraits of weird horrifying visages or any reason for me to have tears. He is just like that. And no, he never reads my blog so he won’t even see this.

But he brings home random old books, insists we sit together every single night and he loves me and his children. You can’t get more romantic than that – even if you are a Vampire (and a very handsome one at that.)

That’s it for tonight. xoxox

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

If you see one movie in 2015 then see this one (or read the book.) Read a lot of books.

If you see one movie in 2015 then see this one (or read the book.) Read a lot of books.

 

Juliette’s Book Club: Expanding Your Horizons

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“Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit, and as vital to our lives as water and good bread. A civilization which destroys what little remains of the wild, the spare, the original, is cutting itself off from its origins and betraying the principle of civilization itself.”
Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire

 

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My daughter called me to ask if I’d ever read Desert Solitaire by Edward Abby.

It was on a list of about 125 books from one of her classes. She had to choose one. All had to do with environmental issues and/or political issues with the environment. Also on the list were Silent Spring by Rachael Carson, A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson, and Arctic Dreams by Barry Lopez.

Yes, I have read all of them. Everyone should read all of them. I told my child to read all of them.

Then she said, “Mom, I only have to read one.”

“Then read Desert Solitare. That book changes lives. They all do, but read that one first.”

Then we talked about our trip to Arches National Park a few years ago. I told her how much the surrounding area and Moab have changed since Edward Abby wrote his classic book.

Desert Solitaire is a collection of treatises and autobiographical excerpts describing Abbey’s experiences as a park ranger and wilderness enthusiast in 1956 and 1957. The opening chapters, First Morning and Solitaire, focus on the author’s experiences arriving at and creating a life within Arches National Monument. In this early period the park is relatively undeveloped: road access and camping facilities are basic, and there is a low volume of tourist traffic.

Desert Solitaire depicts Abbey’s preoccupation with the deserts of the American Southwest. He describes how the desert affects society and more specifically the individual on a multifaceted, sensory level.

“A man could be a lover and defender of the wilderness without ever in his lifetime leaving the boundaries of asphalt, powerlines, and right-angled surfaces. We need wilderness whether or not we ever set foot in it. We need a refuge even though we may never need to set foot in it. We need the possibility of escape as surely as we need hope; without it the life of the cities would drive all men into crime or drugs or psychoanalysis.”
Edward Abbey

 

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I have started reading Horizon by Barry Lopez (author of Arctic Dreams.)
So far it has been a book that is hard for me to put down.

From the National Book Award-winning author of the now-classic Arctic Dreams, a vivid, poetic, capacious work that recollects the travels around the world and the encounters–human, animal, and natural–that have shaped an extraordinary life.

 

This Book Club isn’t so much about what I’ve read, but about what I’m reading now, or will be reading soon. Like most of you, I have a big stack of to-read books, as well as a long list of to-read books.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

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Juliette’s Monday Book Club: Don’t Mess With The Original – Dracula

This is both a book review and kind of a rant. Fair warning.

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In 1897 something extraordinary in both popular fiction and popular culture happened. Irish author Bram Stoker’s book Dracula was published.

Dracula introduced the iconic vampire Count Dracula.

The book is written brilliantly in the form of letters and diary entries.

This is the plot in less than three hundred words: Young attorney Jonathan Harker goes to Count Dracula’s castle to help facilitate a move from Transylvania to England. Harker finds himself in a strange and scary situation but makes it home. Dracula also makes it to England. The rest of the story is about Harker, Professor Abraham Van Helsing, and various friends trying to stop Dracula from stealing their women, and doing other horrible things. There is also a wonderful story of Renfield a bat shit crazy patient of Dr. Stewart. Renfield is controlled in a weird twisted fandom sort of way by Dracula. Of course there at the very Victorian main squeezes Mina and Lucy. Some people get bitten. Some don’t. Some make it. Some don’t. It is a fantastic brilliant book and oh so interesting to read. Stoker did an outstanding job making it all real. And I have an appointment to get to so I’m making this really fast today.

READ THE BOOK.

I bring this up because, in my opinion, nobody has ever done a screen version of this story that really follows the spirit of the book or does justice to the story.

Then there are those fans who obsess with every little detail of the book. Seriously folks, it was written as popular fiction by an author who managed a successful theater, hobnobbed with royalty and other popular authors of the time (Oscar Wilde among them) and wrote many other stories and books. This story is fun but nobody is expected to write their dissertation on what the “blue light” means.

Anyway, back to film and TV…

I recently attempted to watch the new Netflix version of Dracula. OMG it was bad. I couldn’t get through the first episode. It was painful to watch. You’d be better off checking out some of the old Hammer films with Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. At least those had some entertainment and production value. The Netflix version is the WORST version of Dracula I have ever witnessed or imagined.

With the Netflix series they had to include weird nuns, bad special effects, juvenile and unnecessary references to sex (gotta get in all of the sex), and horrible casting choices.

If you’re going to make a TV series or movie about Vampires make it NEW. Make a NEW STORY with NEW VAMPIRES. Don’t take a classic and mangle it.

Too few people have had the pleasure of reading the original Dracula. If you haven’t read it PLEASE read it. If you have read it, read it again.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Juliette’s Monday Book Club: Ecotopia

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Ecotopia by Ernest Callenbach

On Christmas morning I found my stocking hung by the chimney with care with a copy of Ernest Callenbach‘s Ecotopia.

The back cover description: Ecotopia was founded when northern California, Oregon, and Washington seceded from the Union to create a “stable-state” ecosystem: the perfect balance between human beings and the environment. Now, twenty years later, this isolated, mysterious nation is welcoming its first officially sanctioned American visitor: New York Times-Post reporter Will Weston.

Skeptical yet curious about this green new world, Weston is determined to report his findings objectively. But from the start, he’s alternately impressed and unsettled by the laws governing Ecotopia’s earth-friendly agenda: energy-efficient “mini-cities” to eliminate urban sprawl, zero-tolerance pollution control, tree worship, ritual war games, and a woman-dominated government that has instituted such peaceful revolutions as the twenty-hour workweek and employee ownership of farms and businesses. His old beliefs challenged, his cynicism replaced by hope, Weston meets a sexually forthright Ecotopian woman and undertakes a relationship whose intensity will lead him to a critical choice between two worlds.

Written in 1975 this novel is still relevant, especially today.

I haven’t read Ecotopia, but I’ll start today.

As a life long resident of California, and explorer of the West Coast and American West I’ve always been fascinated with the idea of California and maybe a few other states breaking off and seceding from the Union. I’m not one of those State of Jefferson folks, but the idea is fascinating (especially in today’s toxic political environment.)

So read along with me. Let me know what you think. My daughter told me that when she found the book at the used bookstore near the University she thought of me.

So happy reading, and wishing you a wonderful 2020 and many, many, many books well worth reading.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman