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

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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.

 

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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.

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Weirder Tales

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

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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

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: 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 

Juliette’s Monday Book Club: Friendship, Veterans, & Men’s Health.

I met Bob Tierno a few months ago at a book reading at my friend Dave’s shop in Fair Oaks, California.  Jon Obyermeyer (writer/poet) had recommended I come to the event. I’m glad I went.

Today, on Veteran’s Day, I feel honored to feature two books by Bob Tierno.

I just started reading the memoir “Letters in a Helmet.”  I love the concept of this story. We all have those friends who, no matter how much time, or how much distance, we always pick up where we left off. Shared histories and shared souls bring it all together.

Letters in a Helmet

by Ron Sorter and Bob Tierno  

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A Story of Fraternity and Brotherhood is a sweeping tale of two men, covering five decades of friendship and brotherhood. What elevates this story is a profound, interlocking bond that carries Delta Kappa Epsilon (“Deke”) fraternity brothers Ron Sorter and Bob Tierno across a transformative landscape of military service, career transitions, marriages, war wounds, cancer battles and bereavement. The immaturity of their youthful antics is followed immediately by the accelerated maturity of early adulthood, and later on, the accumulation of wisdom as they enter their eighth decade of life. This is an inspiring chronicle of American life, bridging the 20th and 21st centuries with this enduring mantra: “your brothers are always there for you.”

Letters in a Helmet, A Story of Fraternity and Brotherhood  Now Available (10/3/2019} in Amazon Books .

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My second book choice is something completely different. Listen up guys – this is about PROSTATE CANCER. This is IMPORTANT. There is a myth out there that Prostate Cancer is slow and won’t kill you. I stress the word myth. Prostate Cancer WILL kill you. Luckily the test is EASY. Just a simple blood test once a year. I know people who’ve tested and gotten it taken care of early (and still have great sex lives.) I also knew those who did not get it taken care of and are no longer with us because of that. The choice is yours. On the other hand it isn’t all yours if you think of your wife, your children, your friends. If you don’t do it for yourself then do it for them.

The Prostate Chronicles – A Medical Memoir: Detours and Decisions following my Prostate Cancer Diagnosis

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“I know not all that may be coming, but be it will, I’ll go laughing.” Herman Melville, Moby DickFrankly, most books on prostate cancer like this are boring and predictable, with an over-emphasis on the medical aspect. This book is irreverent and, therefore different. It sheds light on my journey and speaks to how relationships matter. Men generally don’t like to talk about their prostate because of its impact on their ego (sex life) and quality of life (incontinence). Life as they knew it is “over,” not acknowledging that their life already sucked thanks to their prostate as in always asking for an aisle seat near the restroom. As in always looking for the nearest bathroom at events, and of course, not enjoying that favorite cup of joe if a toilet was more than an hour away. You do have several options when diagnosed with prostate cancer, but frankly, they all suck. Despite numerous downside implications, there is the outcome that you live to see another five, fifteen or twenty years. Having that definitive end-of-life conversation with my urologist was sobering. Whether you are a man or a significant other, prostate cancer is steady part of our health lexicon today. If you’re lucky enough to live to eighty, you’ll most likely encounter this disease.I think of prostate cancer as a detour in my life in my late 60s, something I would not have asked for by any means. If you happen to have prostate cancer, you’re not totally, FUBAR, (Fouled Up Beyond All Repair). Okay, maybe a just little bit. At least you won’t ever again have to hear your urologist say “Bend over here it comes again!”Ella Wheeler said in her famous poem Solitude, “Laugh and the whole world laughs with you. Weep, and you weep alone.”Prostate cancer sucks, but you stand a better chance of coping if you have humor on your side. I’m choosing to take a humorous approach because it’s freaking healthy and because I can and that is what you will find in this book. My life has been a series of exciting eras, all of them fueled by my love of experiencing new challenges. I’m knowledgeable about many things, which I can now add prostate cancer and robotic surgery. Not my first choice, but it does make the list of my expertise longer. ~ Bob Tierno

The Prostate Chronicles- A Medical Memoir Now available on Amazon Books in paperback and Kindle E-Book.

Articles: ProstateCancer.net

https://prostatecancer.net/living/staying-active-during-recovery/

Juliette’s Monday Book Club: Halfborn. Horror from Soleil Daniels.

If you’re looking for an exceptionally well written, smart, and original horror story (I stress the horror part) add Halfborn by Soleil Daniels to your reading list.

I’ve just started reading Halfborn. I’ve read many of Soleil’s short stories – and I am always entertained, and simply in awe of her writing.

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Halfborn

It should have been simple. Easy.

She had done it a thousand times. A flick of the pocketknife. A slice from the blade. A trickle of hot blood on her tongue. Filling her mouth. That is how it should have been.

Instinctually, it was both . . . Oh, so simple as she pounced on the man across the room from her . . . and unbelievably easy as her teeth sliced into the side of his neck.

But it was different.

Animalistic.

And that bite would change Coral’s life . . .

Forever.

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I drew gulp after gulp of whiskey-tainted life past my lips. My head began to dizzy, whether from the new bond forming, the alcohol-saturated blood, or from simply consuming too much blood, I wasn’t sure. I withdrew from my lock on his neck. Blood ran down onto his once-white shirt, turning a copper color as the crimson mixed with the brown-gray stains from dirt and who knew what else. I stared for a moment, then I reached over, placed one hand on his right temple and the other just behind his left ear. I turned his head with a quick, swift movement, and with the snap of his neck, the dizziness in my head subsided.

Halfborn
Soleil Daniels

Note: Halfborn is for mature readers only. It contains violent and sexual content. These are not vamps for the kiddos. They bite, kill, and do very adult and monstrous things.

“HALFBORN is beautifully done. Soleil Daniels writes in the moment which places you right in the action. From chapter one she builds up intense emotion and passion. The twists in this book are amazing. HALFBORN is written in first person, which is usually a little harder to pull off, and she does it flawlessly. Marshall begins his journey as a laid-back gentleman which is a great pair for Soleil’s main character Coral. Their character development brings the reader to the edge of emotional tolerance. The emotions felt real and the dialog flows very well. We cannot wait until her sequel WRAITH comes out!

We at NeoLeaf Press give this book our Gold Recommendation and rate it 5 out of 5 stars.”

–Neoleaf Press LLC

Soleil Daniels is a writer from the Central Florida area. She enjoys creating new worlds with her imagination and bringing them to life. All while hoping to share them with those who enjoy reading, giving them an outlet from their everyday lives.
Soleil prefers writing on the darker side of the fiction spectrum—dark fantasy, horror, bloody, grim, and/or just plain sad. Also, her works are, more often than not, written for mature audiences.

Find more on her blog at: RANDOM WRITINGS OF A WOEBEGONE WRETCH

Soleil has contributed to WPaD anthologies, and has also published several books, which can be found at Amazon.com:

Other Books by and featuring the work of Soleil Daniels:

Looking for more spooky reading? Check out WPaD Publications‘ horror anthology, Creepies 3: Nightmares on Deviant Street. Currently on free promo until the 1st of November. Includes stories from WPaD Authors Mandy White, Diana Garcia (Author), Marla Todd, Michael Haberfelner , David Hunter , Mike Cooley , Soleil Daniels, Lea Anne Guettler, Debra Lamb, and more.

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I’ll be back next Monday for more new books, and something completely different.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman