Release Day: Hallow’s Eve Triptych

Hallow's Eve Triptych by Tonya CannariatoIn the immortal words of Carol Anne Freeling in “Poltergeist”… “They’re heeeeere!” Amazon and Smashwords have pushed the files live and the collection of short stories that makes up Hallow’s Eve Triptych are now available for purchase.

<pauses a moment to SQUEEEEEEE!>

As I said during my Sunday ROW80 check-in, these stories pushed me closer to the horror genre than I thought I’d ever get, so were a welcome stretch for my writing muscles.

🙂

Here’s the blurb for those of you who missed it earlier:

Explore the mysterious intersection of a day-in-the-life and the reality just the other side of the thinning veils in these three thematically linked tales. In “Last Supper,” discover the true wedge that drove Lana’s family to dissolve. In “Through A Mirror, Darkly,” watch as a family legacy explodes into Richard’s medical world. In “Root of All Evil,” learn how Leslie finds herself with a little help from the other side. In the end, it isn’t horrifying if the characters can learn to expand their souls.

I hope you enjoy the stories as much as I enjoyed crafting them.

Cover Reveal: Hallow’s Eve Triptych

Hallow's Eve Triptych by Tonya CannariatoLast night I got the gift of my latest cover, so today… I’m sharing the love with everyone else!

🙂

I’m in the final rounds of editing and tweaking this set of three short stories, and have tentatively decided release day is 11/27. Mark your calendars!

😀

Together, the collection is me pushing my own boundaries about what is spooky, as well as playing with some religious/spiritual themes. Without further ado, then, here’s the blurb:

Explore the mysterious intersection of a day-in-the-life and the reality just the other side of the thinning veils in these three thematically linked tales. In “Last Supper,” discover the true wedge that drove Lana’s family to dissolve. In “Through A Mirror, Darkly,” watch as a family legacy explodes into Richard’s medical world. In “Root of All Evil,” learn how Leslie finds herself with a little help from the other side. In the end, it isn’t horrifying if the characters can learn to expand their souls.

The stories are a slight departure from my normal focus on the paranormal, but the shift was a lot of fun for me to explore. I hope you enjoy them too. (And for those of you who want such a reminder, I’ve posted Hallow’s Eve Triptych to Goodreads, so you can add it to your to-read list.)

😉

Guest Post: Tricia Stewart Shiu

Please enjoy this guest post by Tricia Stewart Shiu, author of the paranormal YA novel with a literary bent Moa. Then read on to learn how you can win huge prizes as part of this blog tour, including $600 in Amazon gift cards, a Kindle Fire, 5 autographed copies of Moa, and 5 autographed copies of its sequel, Statue of Ku.

 

The Story Behind Moa by Tricia Stewart Shiu

I’ve always loved Hawaii and was thrilled when my husband booked a visit for us to see his relatives in Honolulu, Hawaii in October of 2006. We packed light and brought our daughter, who was three-years-old at the time.

Our condo was close to parks and monuments that oozed history. We enjoyed wandering around and indulging in the local cuisine. I even tried poi and liked it!

The morning after we arrived, I rose early to push my daughter’s stroller through the quiet, cool morning air. It felt like such a gift to experience Honolulu before the rest of the island was up.

After a hearty island breakfast, we headed out for a morning at our favorite sandy reprieve, Kuhio Beach. The water was calm and protected by a breakwater. Our daughter enjoyed digging and splashing and my husband and I sat sit nearby without worrying about the strong current.

Afterward, we headed back to our condominium, ate a light lunch, and took a luxurious siesta. Although I’m not usually a mid-day napper, the fresh sea air and sun lulled me into a light sleep—the kind where I felt like I was awake, but I was actually deeply asleep.

I heard a voice say my name and a part of me awoke. I use the word “part” because I could definitely feel my body touching the soft material on the couch. And yet, another part was keenly aware of a young woman with dark hair standing over me. It felt real, but dream-like, so I decided to go with it and ask her her name.

She pronounced a long Hawaiian string of letters, which seemed to go on for minutes. After repeating the name three or four times, she told me to call her “Moa.” Through my exhausted, sleepy haze, I remember being skeptical. If this was, indeed, a dream, I would ask as many questions as possible. So I did.

Why was she here? Where did she come from? How could I be sure she was who she claimed to be?

Instead of any answers, she flashed a mental picture of a woman and said that she was a long lost friend of my husband’s. She told me her name and explained that my husband’s family and she had lost touch 15 years before and had been orbiting around one another trying to reconnect.

I awoke from that nap, slightly groggy. That was an indication that I was definitely asleep. Perhaps it was just my creativity kicking into overdrive, I reasoned, and decided to go on with my day. We walked to a park with my daughter and began playing. Suddenly, there was a squeal and my husband and I turned to see the woman from my dream charging toward us with her arms stretched out wide. As she spoke, I tried to gather my wits. Here was the same woman from my dream, someone I’d only seen a mental picture of, and she was standing on the grass right in front of me.

She and my husband exchanged numbers and promised to keep in touch. For the next few hours, I tried to make sense of what happened. I had never had an experience like this before, but there was no denying that I saw a picture in a dream before I met someone and then they showed up in real life.

When I went to sleep that evening, Moa visited again. She answered the other questions I’d asked earlier that afternoon and wanted me to know that I was protected and should share my experience with the world. Since this was definitely my first metaphysical encounter, I had no idea how to form the correct words to share what had happened. How on earth, I asked Moa, am I supposed to convey such undocumented, unsubstantiated, unusual information?

She said that our world exists on many levels which all play simultaneously. Her analogy was of a DVR. Several shows can be playing at the same time but are on different tuners. That, she said, is where she existed.

When I awoke, I began writing and continued to do so. The story evolved into “Moa,” then the sequel, “Statue of Ku.” My daughter, now seven, took the cover photo and illustrated, as well. The photo was taken a few years ago on the North Shore as we played on the beach. The artwork has been compiled over the last two years.

Since my visit with Moa, I began an extensive and sometimes circuitous search to explain my metaphysical experience. I took classes on mediumship, Huna, energy work and through my education, I learned to create healing essential oils and elixir sprays and incorporated that information in the book. Not only did my experience with Moa inspire me and guide me through four-and-a-half of the most challenging years of my life, I also believe that writing about those events and including information I received about that inspiration and guidance, brought my own deep physical, mental, emotional and spiritual transformation and healing. Writing, editing and publishing Moa has opened doors to a new way of understanding myself, those around me and the energy we share.

Whatever your belief or understanding of the metaphysical world, I believe that if one person is transformed through learning, then we are all transformed. I truly believe the Moa I met came through in this work and, just as I connected with her as I wrote, those who read the book will experience her as well.

 

As part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, the price of the Moa and Statue of Ku eBook editions have both been dropped to just 99 cents this week. What’s more, by purchasing either of these fantastic books at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes. The prizes include $600 in Amazon gift cards, a Kindle Fire, and 5 autographed copies of each book.

All the info you need to win one of these amazing prizes is RIGHT HERE. Remember, winning is as easy as clicking a button or leaving a blog comment–easy to enter; easy to win!

To win the prizes:

  1. Purchase your copies of Moa and Statue of Ku for just 99 cents
  2. Enter the Rafflecopter contest on Novel Publicity
  3. Visit today’s featured social media event

About Moa: Eighteen-year-old, Hillary, anticipates adventure as she embarks for trip to Honolulu, but gets more than she bargained for when Moa, an ancient Hawaiian spirit, pays her an unexpected visit. Get it on Amazon.

About Statue of Ku:  The second book in the Moa Book Series, “The Statue of Ku” follows Hillary and Moa as they jet to Egypt on the Prince’s private plane to reclaim Moa’s family heirloom, the inimitable statue of Ku. Get it on Amazon.

About the author: Tricia Stewart Shiu combines her addiction to the written word with her avid interest in the healing arts and all things metaphysical in her novels Moa and Statue of Ku and looks forward to finding new ways to unite her two loves. Visit Tricia on her websiteTwitterFacebook, or GoodReads.

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Review: The Whole Truth

The Whole TruthAuthor Jim Murdoch contacted me to review the omnibus edition of his two paperbacks, Living with the Truth and Stranger Than Fiction, which he’s released as an eBook, available only via Smashwords. In specific, he was looking for a critique of the story arc across the two books. From that perspective, this is an easy task: They are mirrors of the same life, recalling the biblical passage “through a mirror, darkly” of 1 Corinthians 13, and particularly apt as one is viewed from the living perspective and one the dead. (Ironically, given the several Star Trek references, also sprinkled throughout the books, I suppose it could reference “In a Mirror, Darkly” too.)

From the blurb, then:

Jonathan Payne is a jaded bookseller at the end of a wasted life which has been spent in a dull north England seaside town. He could be an everyman, but seems to have missed the boat somewhere. He’s both distastefully pathetic and oddly sympathetic. A passive character, he has been happy to read about life without experiencing either great joy or great despair. If Death were to knock on his door it wouldn’t trouble him greatly.

The knock comes, only it’s not Death. It’s the truth; literally, the human personification of truth.

Based on this, I was expecting something along the lines of Piers Anthony’s “Incarnations of Immortality” series, exploring the nature of archetypal expressions in the world. What I got was more like the classic Vivian Mercier review of Samuel Beckett’s  Waiting for Godot, which she described as a play which “has achieved a theoretical impossibility—a play in which nothing happens, that yet keeps audiences glued to their seats. What’s more, since the second act is a subtly different reprise of the first, he has written a play in which nothing happens, twice.” (Irish Times, 18 February 1956, p. 6.). While this parallel may have been intentional, given Murdoch’s avowed adoration of anything Beckett, the existential blues were not really what I wanted to immerse myself in.

It also plays against that review in that this is not a book you can pick up and finish in one sitting. And it took me until well into it to catch on to the regionalisms Murdoch gives voice to–as well as learning to live with his pedantic style. There were so many nods to other great authors throughout the writing that it almost conveyed as an homage to The Book, without giving his characters the understanding that those books can convey:

No, he had his wall packed full of books (and very impressive it was, too) but that was it. He’d always adored those films where they showed the interiors of libraries with the walls covered in leather-bound volumes, particularly those where you needed to ascend a spiral staircase to reach the next level. Lip-smacking stuff. But there was simply no scope for something as ostentatious as that in here. He hadn’t read everything there. That wasn’t the point. A lot of it was for show and nothing more, so that, when he died, the undertakers would be able to lean on his coffin, enjoy a fag, look up at the wall of books and say, “My, ‘e must ‘ave been a clever bugger,” before carting him off down the back stairs.

From the philosophical perspective, we get let in on all the little (and big) secrets Truth can’t help but divulge; and Truth himself grows to appreciate Jonathan’s crotchety ways by the end of the first book–even encouraging the dour man to enjoy a day off, fishing. But reading about someone who “from all accounts … avoided making any of the important decisions in [his] life” behaves as a consistent misanthrope and feel a vague guilt about it… is not particularly entertaining to me.

The life review in reverse, in the second book, then, takes the questions raised about the nature of Life, The Universe, and Everything (intentional Douglas Adams reference, since his name comes up more than a few times in the course of the story) and drives it to its absurd end. God is sick of his immortal helpers’ inability to keep a Macrouniverse going:

Big G’s fed up having to set off big bangs every few billion years. They’re not cheap for starters. So, before we do this one, we’ve got to try and suss out where we went wrong the last four times. Which means we’ve got to go through every one that’s ever existed with a nit comb to make sure why they screwed up and to try and stop it happening again.

The reader is introduced to a few of the other immortals (the brush with Reality was, paradoxically, particularly distorted), and Jonathan is made to feel the embarrassment of his inadequacies all over again. The whole thing wraps up with an existentially nihilistic view: Yeah… we get another do-over, but it still doesn’t matter. Ironic, given that we’re doing it all for God, in the view of the immortals, who are prodding their little guinea pigs through the maze.

Given my own philosophical inclinations, this was a tough pill to swallow. Having let the story sit (and having taken longer than my normal book-in-a-day digestion), I can see Murdoch is noodling on some interesting themes, but I can’t say my appreciation for his pedantic style or nihilistic conclusion has sat with me any better. This one seems best geared to professorial types who enjoy nitpicking a theme into oblivion, but hasn’t encouraged me to go looking for more of the same from this author.

Review: Parallel Worlds: Nothing is as it seems

Parallel WorldsI debated whether to actually review this, since it touches on elements of spirituality some might find controversial, but there are a few points worth sharing that made me decide to move forward. I found this on Smashwords’ top 100 list and was curious that a book that self-categorized into the “visionary and mystical” realm would do so well. When the blurb mentioned past lives, then, I decided I should read for myself what had enticed enough readers to download and rate it so highly.

The first half, in particular was a slow trudge for me, and it took unusually long for me to finish the book (in fairness, partly because it’s still easy for me to lose track of an eBook, particularly when what I’ve read of it is forgettable). And the first half of this was forgettable. It was written in an almost preachy passive voice that made it very difficult to connect with the two young protagonists. And starting with their deaths and moving through dimensions–a tricky description to handle in any case, let alone as a third-person narrator–didn’t make it any easier of a task for Noell.

If you get past all that, though, the action does pick up, and the story becomes quite engaging. I read the second half in the matter of a few hours, and kept reading portions aloud to Joe as they pointed a spiritual way forward through difficult times. Even here, though, the author seems to approach the story in what I would describe as a “kitchen sink” fashion, throwing in references to conspiracy theories about Nicola Tesla, HAARP, secret government installations, and any other of a number of fringe elements.

The past life elements–the main driver of the story–could even be taken as an almost deus ex machina path out of several dire circumstances… if you don’t buy into the philosophical treatise Noell outlines throughout the book. Toward the end of her narrative, she finally masters the delicate art of conveying information less via narration, and more through the interactions between her characters. I suspect she and I share similar beliefs, based on some of the statements she makes on her website, but wonder whether she might not be a better motivational speaker than fiction author, given her rather Naïve art style. Nonetheless, I have to thank her for writing the following paragraphs:

“Do you know what these newly ‘free’ men did? They worked harder, pulled more stones, and completed jobs faster than they ever had before, their dreams now aligned with the priests’. Because you see, the true genius of the high priest’s plan was that by setting the slaves free of their captors, he saw that they would ultimately enslave themselves… for that was the only life they knew; that was just the way things were.”

“As time went by, gold was gradually replaced by nothing more than numbers and bits of paper. But that paper represented the gold in more ways than one – the hypnotic suggestion that this paper had value was so deeply engrained that no one questioned the fact that they were still functioning as slaves… and everything they desired in the material world came at the price of their own freedom.

“Mankind was then disconnected through many different forms of religion. And one of the most clever things the priests did was to create icons… a symbol that instantly delivers a message far beyond what words can express. These icons represented the Divine or people who were saints. And people would stare at these images… sometimes with love and reverence, but more often than not, they stared at the icon while holding a powerful image of themselves as unworthy, as a lowly sinner…”

We’re still getting a lot of exposition as a reader, this time from the past self of one of the main characters, but the context is just intriguing enough to open the reader to the possibility that they, themselves, might be enslaved to something so fundamental to our current society. For that, I have to say that if you’ve considered self-help books, but don’t like non-fiction ways of addressing self-improvement, this may be a good stepping stone to help you move forward. And that assessment is likely why there are so many willing on Smashwords to give a 5-star rating to a book that at best deserves 3 stars for its writing.

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