Review of Every Ugly Word by Aimee L Salter

Amazon/Goodreads

Review written by: Jessica C.

I used to think if I was popular, or if Matt loved me… that would do it. I thought it would close me up so I could feel whole…

Welcome to world and the mind of Ashley Watson. Each step in her teenage walk of life is one that so many of us can relate to in some form or fashion. The judgement, the internal struggles to feel accepted and wanted, the fending off of bullies. Every Ugly Word introduces the reader to the realism of that which is high school. The story breathes life into the emotional turmoil that each misfit endures. For Ashley Watson one mistake ends up being the catalyst for her entire time in high school being one of torture. A talented artist, Ashley finds herself so consumed with the ugly words around her and the opinions of others, she forgets to look within herself to see the true beauty within.  Ashley is so wrapped up with the cruelty of her class mates that she starts to believe that what they say is the truth, and in turn tears herself apart.

“Some things aren’t deep!!!”

“Yet those very things can have incredibly deep consequences.”

Thankfully, Ashley has the ability to see a bit of light through the darkness and pain. The light that is her future self as revealed in her own reflection in the mirror . Ashley’s future self is her conscience as much as her guide to a better life. Her glimpse into the future and her ‘future self’ guide her towards a path to hopefully correct the mistakes her ‘future self’ made. If only Ashley can believe that she is better than the ugly words she hears about herself.

“…just remember, no one’s perfect. But you want to be able to look at yourself in the mirror the next morning. No regrets. Better to make the right choice than to hate yourself the next day. You know?”

Every Ugly Word is a book that so many of us can relate to. Each of us at some point of our lives has been in a dark place, or have felt so low we didn’t know if would be able to make it through. The story itself though was unique because it made Ashley’s struggles so easy to understand and relate to. Aimee L. Salter helps the reader realize that bullying doesn’t always come in the shape of other people… sometimes we become our own bullies. If we do not feel good enough, if we do not feel like we are wanted, loved, or accepted… we in turn can become our own bullies and we beat ourselves down and tear ourselves apart.

People you love should always be more important than people who judge you

The truth is I struggled at times with this book. At times I found the main character weak and unrealistic. Ashley in some ways seemed blind to what was around her and so willing to give up at each word that she took personal. Still, when I look back and think of myself as a teenager, Ashley’s reactions really don’t seem that bizarre or unreal. We are our own worst critics and sometimes our self judgement can bring our own ruin. There were times in the book I just wanted to give Ashley a reality check, to just step into the pages and shake her shoulders a bit. Even her future self seemed the epitome of moping and loss at times. Still I cannot be so judgemental because what we dislike so much in what we see of others is often what we dislike about ourselves.

What happens to Ashley is horrible. How she treats herself because of bullying is even worse. The book isn’t easy to stomach at times, but it needs to be read. I wouldn’t put it on my highest rated reads, but it is a book that should be handed out as a mandatory read in high school. For me Every Ugly Word isn’t just about overcoming bullies, it’s also about learning to love yourself at the hardest times. I have to be honest, if Ashley had been a real person and in my school I probably wouldn’t have been able to stand her… yet… I can’t be the one to judge. If anything Every Ugly Word teaches us that even we can be bullies to ourselves. Our actions can make us bleed or they can make us heal. Our words can cut or they can be just the balm we need.

In the end Every Ugly Word leaves the reader with food for thought. Actions and words can destroy or they can repair. Make your choice wisely.

…It isn’t what happens to you in your life that destroys you. It’s what you do about it…..

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#28DaysofLestat-Anne Rice Week-Anne Rice’s Creation of the Facebook Fan Page/The Flourishing of “Bibliophile’s Reverie”

Dare to click the book cover below, to pre-order your copy, because this is a book you will not want to miss, if you view yourself as a serious fan of the Vampire Lestat…



Without Anne Rice and her amazing Facebook fan page (and all the wonderful people I’ve met through there), this blog would have gone extinct a very long time ago!

#28DaysofLestat- Anne Rice Week- Anne Rice’s Creation of the Facebook Fan Page/The Flourishing of “A Bibliophile’s Reverie”

The below may sound a bit braggart-ish, and I really tried to tone down the braggart elements, to instead show just how much Anne Rice’s support has kept this blog alive, while also creating one of the most dynamic author Facebook pages on the internet.

Sometime in 2009, Anne Rice forged a brave journey towards discovering the marvels of the internet, in how it allows her to almost instantaneously connect with her readers. Back then, she would often post letters-emailed from readers- and the response was often pretty sparse in number, as Anne Rice’s Facebook fan page had several thousand or so followers at that time.

Around 2010, I submitted a philosophy essay I wrote about the Augustinian elements of Anne Rice’s books, which she shared on her Facebook page. Later, she began sharing more of my Facebook posts via her page, including several of my Interview with the Vampire philosophy posts, the Memnoch the Devil discussion posts, etc.

There was one time that I offered a bit of criticism (very constructive and civil in tone, of course) about Anne Rice’s later Vampire Chronicle books, and the element of her response that really stayed with me was how candid, expressive, and civilly defensive she was of the merits of her later books. I have managed to earn a better respect with what Anne Rice was seeking to accomplish with books, like Merrick, Blackwood Farm, and Blood Canticle, which did not personally resonate with me as much. But, my response was, again, only my own subjective take on the work,and that any and all reviews should be something that doesn’t purport to be the only response to a work, but rather something that represents the beautiful subjectivity of artistic response. I was really glad that Anne Rice was able to respond to constructive criticism with so much class, and spunk, and the fact that she actually read whatever I posted on my blog, and responded to things, has always impressed me. It shows, again, that she has a genuine interest in the responses of her readers of her works.

Widening the approach to her Facebook Fan page, Anne Rice has always opened the discussion to everyone, with any type of view, as long as it’s civilly expressed. Unlike some other more cloistered sections of the internet, she welcomes discussion on tough issues, which is something I think people genuinely revere about Anne Rice, in a world where it is so tough to have these types of vigorous debates about different issues, without getting trapped in nominal semantics about things that sometimes require more thought (always accompanied with some tact too!)

Anne Rice reminds everyone that the world that values variance in response to things still exist, even when we hear that expressing certain unpopular opinions may prevent us from getting jobs. We live in a world that is precariously democratic, in that we have the pretense of respecting difference in opinions, but yet we’ve created a sort of limitation on these things. And, I think that this disdain for difference in opinion has actually made the tone of people’s opinions more desperate, more vitriolic, and less civilized, because people are letting loose their bottled-up opinions, and it will become uncivil, and agitated, because of that restiveness that we have in real life, where we are instructed daily that the world likes to pretend that there is more homogeneity than there really is.

It was thanks to her page, her willingness to express herself with frankness (and class) that has made me respect Anne Rice so much, someone that often gets categorized as someone that begrudges freedom of expression. I think she is only frustrated with the same thing we all are, which is this incivility we see leak into our discussions, that are so devoid of maturity and class.  That is something I’ve striven to attempt here on my blog; the same ideal as Anne Rice’s Facebook Fan page, which is allowing people to express a diversity of opinions about books, and anything that connects back to what we’re reading.

Anne Rice’s nearly five year support of A Bibliophile’s Reverie astounds me each and every day. She could have easily ignored the posts, seen them as mere distractions or poppycock. Instead, she decided to engage with the other areas of the internet that are beginning a new medium or format that speaks about books on a much more expansive platform than live book discussions.

Thank you to Anne Rice again for her support of this blog, the inspiration she inspires daily on her Facebook Fan Page, and the lessons I’ve learned about ways to engage with civility in discussions and reviews that have helped me immensely into being shaped into a confident, though kind/mature artist!! (or at least, I wish to think I’m either of those things)

On Tuesday night (10/21/14-week before Prince Lestat is released), I will posting the first of the planned six Vampire Chronicles Academic Review Session Posts,  recapitulating all the major things that we discussed that happened in the first three Vampire Chronicle novels!!

***Please send photos, artwork, letters, diary entries, an epistolary novel, something that you feel artfully engraves the impact Anne Rice’s stories have had on your life to narniafanatic@gmail.com with the subject line of “28 Days of Lestat! With your express permission being granted to share these things (one poem or song per day during the course of October, 2014, up till the 28th of October), I hope to post something each day- a small fragment of one person’s completely unique approach to the series, which will hopefully come together, impressively, on the 28th of October, to virtually reconstruct the different views and memories people attach to this series, the character of Lestat, and many of the other vampires (or immortal species) Anne has created, in an uncannily realistic way, which makes us believe that these characters are very real, and existing amongst us.

Also, be sure to share anything Vampire Chronicles-related on the Lestat Book Coven Facebook Group Page, any comment sections on all 28 individual #28daysofLestat posts here on this blog, or on Twitter,Instagram, Tumblr, and beyond!!
COMING SOON….News about Prince Lestat Book Coven Release Party Festivities-New York NY-October 28, 2014

SPECIAL BLOOD AND GOLD First Edition, Signed Hardcover Contest

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I will be attending Anne Rice’s signing at 192 Books on October 28, 2014, and I am planning to get a copy signed and personalized for the winner on that date!! This is a special laminated (serving to protect the book) first-edition hardcover that is in very good condition. This contest helps further promote my self-publishing publicity and editorial services, for the many indie writers out there, and I really thank you, in advance for entering this contest, as these contests do go a long way with helping promote this service, so aptly named: A Bibliophile’s Workshop

Another hypothetical prize- Video Greeting, from Anne Rice herself!(still not definite, as of yet) is to record a special message at the signing, from Anne Rice, to the winner. I’m pretty certain she’d be really excited to do this, so it is a good chance that it may happen. But given time constraints at signings, this may not happen…Stay tuned for more details on this development.

Contest Rules:
     Winners are chosen randomly, by the Rafflecopter APP, and the contest is to everyone, with a few restrictions. For those living outside either US or Canada, you can enter, as long as you understood you are required to pay the postage, as I cannot afford to pay any international shipping costs. I’d love to, but I cannot feasibly offer this, in my current financial situation!

I apologize to those in the same boat, as well, who would not be able to afford the shipping costs. I am always remiss to post that following message, barring you from entering. It generally sucks, as so many of you are equally as passionate (or even more passionate) about Anne Rice’s  than anyone.

**Comic Shared by Coven Member, Jo Vee**
Read, and be entertained by this very amusing comic, which will serve as the Hyperlink image, that will allow you to be redirected to a Rafflecopter App. that will allow you to enter this contest!!

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***Please send photos, artwork, letters, diary entries, an epistolary novel, something that you feel artfully engraves the impact Anne Rice’s stories have had on your life to narniafanatic@gmail.com with the subject line of “28 Days of Lestat! With your express permission being granted to share these things (one poem or song per day during the course of October, 2014, up till the 28th of October), I hope to post something each day- a small fragment of one person’s completely unique approach to the series, which will hopefully come together, impressively, on the 28th of October, to virtually reconstruct the different views and memories people attach to this series, the character of Lestat, and many of the other vampires (or immortal species) Anne has created, in an uncannily realistic way, which makes us believe that these characters are very real, and existing amongst us.

Also, be sure to share anything Vampire Chronicles-related on the Lestat Book Coven Facebook Group Page, any comment sections on all 28 individual #28daysofLestat posts here on this blog, or on Twitter,Instagram, Tumblr, and beyond!!
COMING SOON….News about Prince Lestat Book Coven Release Party Festivities-New York NY-October 28, 2014

**For those who reside in the vicinity of New York, NY, Anne Rice will be at 192 Bookstore in New York, NY on October 28th, 2014 (coinciding with the official release of Prince Lestat)  I’ll be attending the New York event, and there are some exciting events, planned ahead of the signing at 7pm. Eastern at 192 Bookstore, which hypothetically, may include a special dinner and “Coven of the Articulate” Dinner at a New Orleans-style restaurant or coffee shop

Here are the event details, and you can RSVP for this event by heading over to the appropriate “Prince Lestat Invades NYC” Event Page on Facebook (or click on the St. John Divine church picture below to be taken there!!)

Event Details- October 28th, 2014; 2pm. Live Reading at St. John the Divine Church; and 4:30pm. “Coven of the Articulate Dinner” at a New Orleans style restaurant (soon-to-be- announced)!

The date is finalized, but the time is still not, as of yet, finalized, and the exact events are not yet clear either. So, this space is merely used to gauge interest in this event.

It will most likely be comprised of a live-reading of “Memnoch the Devil,” by either Anne Rice herself (low probability), as she is very busy preparing for her signing. It will most likely be myself reading it, or someone else entirely. I would prefer someone else reading it, who has the right type of reading voice.

The event will start at 2pm., giving people enough time to leave around 3pm. to head over to 192 Bookstore in New York City. For those who don’t mind where they are in line for the event, there will be a special dinner at 4:30pm. at a New Orleans style restaurant in the Manhattan area.

If you have any recommendations, as to the best place for such food, please leave your recommendations here! I need a final count of people that would be able to attend the Prince Lestat Cajun Dinner, by next week on Wednesday, and I will call the chosen restaurant to make the proper reservations then.

If anyone has good filming device of some kind (an iphone), you may be in charge of filming the St. John the Divine event, if we are given permission to do that! I have a low-tech camera, which I really don’t want to use, as the quality itself is terrible.

**Those of you, who do not live in the New York area still have a chance to meet Anne Rice, and get your treasured/beloved copies of Prince Lestat signed.

Several venues have discreetly posted some ticket information for the upcoming Prince Lestat book tour.  I will try finding more, and posting them below, with hyperlinked text for your convenience!! If you need help finding a signing near you, leave a comment below, or email me at narniafanatic@gmail.com.

For your convenience, all events that are not free events (a vast majority, unfortunately, are events that have charges attached/require tickets) happen to have asterisks (*) next to them:

If you manage to find any more events, please leave the link and other pertinent details in the comment area below! Thanks.

*October 28, 2014- Anne Rice& Victoria Wilson Book Signing- New York , NY 
*November 2, 2014- Anne Rice & Christopher Rice Book Signing New Orleans,LA
*
November 5, 2014- Anne Rice, In Conversation with Christopher Rice- Hartford, CT (for some reason, this event is a bit exorbitantly priced)
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November 6, 2014- Anne Rice, In conversation with Victoria Wilson- Philadelphia, PA
*November 8, 2014- Anne Rice, In conversation with Victoria Wilson- Chicago, Il
*November 19, 2014- Anne Rice, In conversation with Christopher Rice- Los Angeles, CA   
(Click the hyper-linked text, to be referred to site to buy tickets!)A SPECIAL BLOOD AND GOLD First Edition, Signed Hardcover Contest

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#ReaderFence (Satire of #GamerGate)- Fighting Misconceptions of Readers, one incoherent tweet at a time!

An Honorable Monument to our cause- #ReaderFence

   To fight against the virulent stupidity of a certain infamous internet group #GamerGate, I decided that the best tactic of revealing the nonsensicality of some of the group’s claims ( and the fervid behavior that has threatened the lives of known feminist critics and game producers in the gaming world) is by relying on the ancient art of satire Jonathan Swift style.

 

Boo Radley-lamestream media’s stereotypical depiction of ” supposed reclusive readers”

Much like actor Adam Baldwin, I am just so perturbed that there is such an endemic misunderstanding and misapprehension of readers that we’re being portrayed by mainstream..ahem… I mean lamestream  media as recluses, much like a certain Boo Radley.  In new stories involving readers, they like to portray us as ghostly-pale (with sickly, yellow patches of skin), skull-like heads, protuberate eyes (from having to read in the dark at times), and a tendency to talk obsessively about books we love. Yet, they didn’t know that Boo Radley, a recluse, was really more self-aware of the world around him, than he is given credit for. And even though we readers are assigned such nasty pejoratives like being “aloof,” “crazy” “elitist” “out-of-touch,” “detached,” we are never given more concrete examples in the media of how reading actually has a lot of value, and plays an important role in opening our minds up to perceiving the deeper depths of reality, a part of reality that poor Boo Radley had.

A nemesis of #ReaderFence

The event that really spurred on the creation of #ReaderFence, a loose cobbling of social media vexations about readers and certain books being criticized unfairly in the media, was actually an entirely isolated event, which really angered me over this terrible stigma that the world has against readers..alike…was a post by a writer I saw on social media, who was writing a spit-fire rant about their supposed “really noxious, dangerous” ex, and this blog post just emboldened me to take all my smattering of completely irrelevant misgivings and frustrations about the media misperception of books (particularly Fifty Shades of Grey) and finally take a stand against it. Since the gamers already had a freaking ornate gate, we’re stuck with a fence!!

I rally all readers to join this great offense being taken to books, and now I want to show you the worst of the worst; these terrible, tongue in cheek critics that are trying to totally ban Fifty Shades of Grey..

Can you not believe that the otherwise smart, cool, (even chic) Mara Wilson, would dare say this about Twilight? Like, “oh, my, god!” she wants to take away our Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey. Her criticisms, along with that scandalous author break-up, and the media’s portrayal of readers as recluses

And then a certain provocateur Nella wrote these mean-spirited read-along posts, like totally making fun of my favorite romantic YA book! I mean.. the following excerpt from her first read-along…is so unsparing with its snark, that I cried crocodile tears, reading it…This is why we need #Readerfence, people!

Wait.. I have to add a GIF of crocodile tears, to emphasize my sadness over the following words about my precious Tiger’s Curse

 

“This author–bless her heart–seems to like words without understanding how they might contradict each other. Imagine a person shot out of a cannon. Now, imagine fingers groping. Notice, gentle reader, how the two imagines conflict with each other. But this is the book. This is it in all it’s glory. Words in an eternal struggle of opposing forces, painting one picture and then Jackson Pollock-ing all over it. If I didn’t know better this would be True Art. THAT IS THIS BOOK.

…I’m not even done with the prologue.” (Nella:fiendish critic of “Tiger’s Curse”)

(Taken from the bastion of offence against readers: Chez Apocalypse)

And, this pair, this triumvirate of writers from Chez Apocalypse, who are loosely connected back to that bad writer that cheated on their ex (and like totally discrediting the objectivity of book reviews as a whole), then decided to publish a mean book, making fun of Twilight.


Just, how anyone can write a satirical screed, against Twilight-an uh-mazing book- is just so irksome, to me, and demands that you have no moment of indecision, for deciding to rally for what is right, by standing for #readerfence.

**Now get tweeting, make sure to preface all your defense tweets, anything that has an inkling of criticism against #readerfence, with “Let me Enlighten,” then send all our movement’s approved links, say they’re always guaranteed to be the TRUTH, and you’ll be set to hold down the bookshelves, and defend the honor of readers, with our most unsatisfyingly incoherent cause…

If racism, sexism, regressive, extreme conservative values become part of this, be sure to divert critic’s attention away from bad press, by saying we’re actually totally against bullying…..

 If none of this makes sense, that is because #readerfence is about as incomprehensible, nonsensical, and incoherent as the purpose behind #GamerGate.

Always keep your mind open, and your critical thinking skills intact, or you could be pulled into a social media mob of half-truths and confusing messages!

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-#28DaysofLestat-Week of Anne Rice-Blood Canticle Controversy

Dare to click the book cover below, to pre-order your copy, because this is a book you will not want to miss, if you view yourself as a serious fan of the Vampire Lestat…


Anne Rice- Recollecting on the most memorable of Anne Rice’s awesome spunk/temerity (or just otherwise genuine spirit)

Anne Rice’s ability to always stay true to her artistic self, in the midst of sometimes very brutal criticism, has always been an inspiration for me, as a writer

Day 19 (of 28 Total Days) Post: Blood Canticle Controversy& Anne Rice’s Valiant Artistic Gumption

 

Anne Rice has always been as audacious and outspoken, in the best possible ways, as her own character Lestat. I was a little apprehensive about rehashing details about one incident, around the time that Blood Contaticle was released. But contrary to popular opinion, I thought Anne Rice’s counter-perspective or rebuttal against the critics of the then final installment of the Vampire Chronicles was a moment, where she showed that she was not daunted by the most surly, sometimes condescending voices of some book critics.

To this day, Anne Rice has continued the question the quality of reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, not in a way that promotes bowdlerizing or silencing the critics of certain books, but questioning whether or not reviews (written under pseudonyms usually)  that can be construed as outright bullying, or a strategized/orchestrated way to slash the sales of an indie writer  should be allowed on Amazon.

First of all, for your perusal, here is the original rebuttal review, written by Anne Rice, about the book Blood Canticle: (Taken from BlogCritics, and many other pages have preserved the text of this deleted review, because the internet is an eternal repository of things)

Seldom do I really answer those who criticize my work. In fact, the entire development of my career has been fueled by my ability to ignore denigrating and trivializing criticism as I realize my dreams and my goals. However there is something compelling about Amazon’s willingness to publish just about anything, and the sheer outrageous stupidity of many things you’ve said here that actually touches my proletarian and Democratic soul. Also I use and enjoy Amazon and I do read the reviews of other people’s books in many fields. In sum, I believe in what happens here. And so, I speak. First off, let me say that this is addressed only to some of you, who have posted outrageously negative comments here, and not to all. You are interrogating this text from the wrong perspective. Indeed, you aren’t even reading it. You are projecting your own limitations on it. And you are giving a whole new meaning to the words “wide readership.” And you have strained my Dickensean principles to the max. I’m justifiably proud of being read by intellectual giants and waitresses in trailer parks,in fact, I love it, but who in the world are you? Now to the book. Allow me to point out: nowhere in this text are you told that this is the last of the chronicles, nowhere are you promised curtain calls or a finale, nowhere are you told there will be a wrap-up of all the earlier material. The text tells you exactly what to expect. And it warns you specifically that if you did not enjoy Memnoch the Devil, you may not enjoy this book. This book is by and about a hero whom many of you have already rejected. And he tells you that you are likely to reject him again. And this book is most certainly written — every word of it — by me.

         If and when I can’t write a book on my own, you’ll know about it. And no, I have no intention of allowing any editor ever to distort, cut, or otherwise mutilate sentences that I have edited and re-edited, and organized and polished myself. I fought a great battle to achieve a status where I did not have to put up with editors making demands on me, and I will never relinquish that status. For me, novel writing is a virtuoso performance. It is not a collaborative art. Back to the novel itself: the character who tells the tale is my Lestat. I was with him more closely than I have ever been in this novel; his voice was as powerful for me as I’ve ever heard it. I experienced break through after break through as I walked with him, moved with him, saw through his eyes. What I ask of Lestat, Lestat unfailingly gives. For me, three hunting scenes, two which take place in hotels — the lone woman waiting for the hit man, the slaughter at the pimp’s party — and the late night foray into the slums –stand with any similar scenes in all of the chronicles. They can be read aloud without a single hitch. Every word is in perfect place. The short chapter in which Lestat describes his love for Rowan Mayfair was for me a totally realized poem. There are other such scenes in this book. You don’t get all this? Fine. But I experienced an intimacy with the character in those scenes that shattered all prior restraints, and when one is writing one does have to continuously and courageously fight a destructive tendency to inhibition and restraint. Getting really close to the subject matter is the achievement of only great art. Now, if it doesn’t appeal to you, fine. You don’t enjoy it? Read somebody else. But your stupid arrogant assumptions about me and what I am doing are slander. And you have used this site as if it were a public urinal to publish falsehood and lies. I’ll never challenge your democratic freedom to do so, and yes, I’m answering you, but for what it’s worth, be assured of the utter contempt I feel for you, especially those of you who post anonymously (and perhaps repeatedly?) and how glad I am that this book is the last one in a series that has invited your hateful and ugly responses. Now, to return to the narrative in question: Lestat’s wanting to be a saint is a vision larded through and through with his characteristic vanity. It connects perfectly with his earlier ambitions to be an actor in Paris, a rock star in the modern age. If you can’t see that, you aren’t reading my work. In his conversation with the Pope he makes observations on the times which are in continuity with his observations on the late twentieth century in The Vampire Lestat, and in continuity with Marius’ observations in that book and later in Queen of the Damned. The state of the world has always been an important theme in the chronicles. Lestat’s comments matter. Every word he speaks is part of the achievement of this book. That Lestat renounced this saintly ambition within a matter of pages is plain enough for you to see. That he reverts to his old self is obvious, and that he intends to complete the tale of Blackwood Farm is also quite clear. There are many other themes and patterns in this work that I might mention — the interplay between St.Juan Diago and Lestat, the invisible creature who doesn’t “exist” in the eyes of the world is a case in point. There is also the theme of the snare of Blackwood Farm, the place where a human existence becomes so beguiling that Lestat relinquishes his power as if to a spell. The entire relationship between Lestat and Uncle Julien is carefully worked out. But I leave it to readers to discover how this complex and intricate novel establishes itself within a unique, if not unrivalled series of book. There are things to be said. And there is pleasure to be had. And readers will say wonderful things about Blood Canticle and they already are. There are readers out there and plenty of them who cherish the individuality of each of the chronicles which you so flippantly condemn. They can and do talk circles around you. And I am warmed by their response. Their letters, the papers they write in school, our face to face exchanges on the road — these things sustain me when I read the utter trash that you post. But I feel I have said enough. If this reaches one reader who is curious about my work and shocked by the ugly reviews here, I’ve served my goals. And Yo, you dude, the slang police! Lestat talks like I do. He always has and he always will. You really wouldn’t much like being around either one of us. And you don’t have to be. If any of you want to say anything about all this by all means….And yes, the Chronicles are no more! Thank God!”

(Words property of Anne Rice)

Later, she wrote a different message about the novel, explicating more of things she felt were being misunderstood about Lestat’s character development in Blood Canticle (text taken from her author website):

Hello, Guys. Thank you for the responses to Blood Canticle that have been coming in. I appreciate hearing your reactions to my new book. In my last message, I talked about the hunting scenes and the dialogue, and how they were reflected an intimacy with the character of Lestat which I’d never achieved before. This time I want to talk about the theme of Redemption, which I think runs through all the Chronicle.

But first let me emphasize as I have in the past: each of the Chronicles is a distinct entity; each is a departure from what went before. No book plays by any set of rules. What I have always promised and what I have delivered in the Chronicles is that each book is written at white hot intensity, and that the content is utterly fluid during creation. That is, each chapter flows from what came before it, building slowly or swiftly to a climax and then an ending. Never anywhere have I ever promised a formula for these books, and never have they ever conformed to any notion of a series. Tale of the Body Thief radically departs from the epic style of Queen of the Damned to offer a first person adventure of Lestat. And Blood Canticle radically departs from the massive family epic of Blackwood Farm to go into the first person style of a song from Lestat that is similar perhaps to Tale of Body Thief. But no two books in the Chronicles are alike, really. And because of this, and many other factors, the Chronicles are absolutely unique in fiction. Now that they are concluded, I feel very good about them, and I am able to look at them from just a little distance and I find myself rather amazed as their peculiarities. But I think their strength lies in their individuality, in their eccentricity, in their bizarre tales, and twists and turns, as much as in the heat and intimacy of their characters.

Now, to the matter of Redemption. It is really the theme of Blood Canticle — Lestat’s search for Redemption. And it has been the theme of the Chronicles from the beginning. Louis searches throughout  Interview with the Vampire for a context, and what he really wants is meaning and what meaning will do for him is save him. When The Vampire Lestat open, Lestat seeks to become a rock star so that, in becoming a symbol of evil he might have relevence, and having relevence he might do some good in the world. He then tells us the story of his life, in which he once wanted desperately to be a monk but his father wouldn’t allow it. He goes on to tell us how he ran away from home to become an actor. And before the audiences on the boulevards in Paris he found a form of redemption. His life had visibility; it had meaning. But he was taken out of this temporary Heaven and doomed to a life of darkness. In that life of darkness he commenced to search for a way to exist that would redeem him; throughout the books, the discussion of redemption never really stops. Lestat seeks the great legendary Marius, believing that Marius will tell him how to exist in a noble way and in an honorable way, and the discussion deepens when the two characters come together to reflect a humanistic view of the world which gives Lestat a sustaining strength. But the world continues to test Lestat, and Lestat’s search continues…..

To read the remainder of her response, to criticisms about Blood Canticle, please click this hyperlinked text!”

 

I was actually a bit apprehensive about going ahead with posting the above (now deleted) Amazon review rebuttal, as it may not be something Anne Rice wishes to be preserved on a blog space like mine, which has a lot of respect for Anne Rice. I am sharing this, again, not as a way slander anyways, but merely bringing up moments of Anne Rice’s writing history that I thought was pretty pivotal, considering that the Vampire Chronicles have not come, at all, to a cessation. Rather in a little more than a week’s time, Prince Lestat (as you’re more than aware, at this point) is being released Tuesday, October 28, 2014, so when Anne Rice declared Blood Canticle back in 2004, that decision has been overturned.

But this  moment shows how important it is for an artist to have liberality and freedom, to write about the things that they feel most passionate about. Again, antithetically to much of the internet’s memory and reaction to Anne Rice’s Blood Canticle Amazon rebuttal; I actually saw that moment as a glimmer of Anne Rice’s mettle, lack of cowardice, and her artistic bravery, which is something denigrated sometimes in a culture, where we raise actors, writers, poets to some infallible place of exaltation, where they are not allowed to something even minorly wrong, unless they become subjected to a gratuitous degree of criticism, that is usually less forgiving than people within our immediate reality.

What else does Anne Rice’s Blood Canticle review shows? It shows that Lestat just needed to retreat awhile from the fervid, mixed reactions to Blood Canticle, and he needed some creative sanitorium, in some ways, in Anne Rice’s subconscious. 2014 is the perfect time for him to make his return, in many ways, with the abundant number of new takes on the vampire genre, allowing Anne Rice more creative space, in many ways, than ever to be allowed (not that someone as brave as Anne needs permission from anyone), or able,  to write a new installment for the Vampire Chronicles.

Now, I really seek your opinion, what do you think, overall, of Blood Canticle? And in retrospect, do you think Anne Rice had a right, as an author, to write a rebuttal to the spate of very nasty reviews of her book? Recently with Veronica Roth’s last Divergent title, and Charlaine Harris, with her Sookie Stackhouse series, the high-drama of readers and fan bases can be out-of-control, and lead to some really weird episodes, like death threats towards both these writers.

With the recent Gamergate controversy (with Anita Sarkeesian), this is a better time than ever to discuss civility and maturity, in how we criticize things. Hopefully, this reminder of this event reminds everyone of how we should say cool-headed, when responding to “Prince Lestat,” at the time of it’s release.

***Please send photos, artwork, letters, diary entries, an epistolary novel, something that you feel artfully engraves the impact Anne Rice’s stories have had on your life to narniafanatic@gmail.com with the subject line of “28 Days of Lestat! With your express permission being granted to share these things (one poem or song per day during the course of October, 2014, up till the 28th of October), I hope to post something each day- a small fragment of one person’s completely unique approach to the series, which will hopefully come together, impressively, on the 28th of October, to virtually reconstruct the different views and memories people attach to this series, the character of Lestat, and many of the other vampires (or immortal species) Anne has created, in an uncannily realistic way, which makes us believe that these characters are very real, and existing amongst us.

Also, be sure to share anything Vampire Chronicles-related on the Lestat Book Coven Facebook Group Page, any comment sections on all 28 individual #28daysofLestat posts here on this blog, or on Twitter,Instagram, Tumblr, and beyond!!
COMING SOON….News about Prince Lestat Book Coven Release Party Festivities-New York NY-October 28, 2014

SPECIAL BLOOD AND GOLD First Edition, Signed Hardcover Contest

IMG_1439

I will be attending Anne Rice’s signing at 192 Books on October 28, 2014, and I am planning to get a copy signed and personalized for the winner on that date!! This is a special laminated (serving to protect the book) first-edition hardcover that is in very good condition. This contest helps further promote my self-publishing publicity and editorial services, for the many indie writers out there, and I really thank you, in advance for entering this contest, as these contests do go a long way with helping promote this service, so aptly named: A Bibliophile’s Workshop

Another hypothetical prize- Video Greeting, from Anne Rice herself!(still not definite, as of yet) is to record a special message at the signing, from Anne Rice, to the winner. I’m pretty certain she’d be really excited to do this, so it is a good chance that it may happen. But given time constraints at signings, this may not happen…Stay tuned for more details on this development.

Contest Rules:
     Winners are chosen randomly, by the Rafflecopter APP, and the contest is to everyone, with a few restrictions. For those living outside either US or Canada, you can enter, as long as you understood you are required to pay the postage, as I cannot afford to pay any international shipping costs. I’d love to, but I cannot feasibly offer this, in my current financial situation!

I apologize to those in the same boat, as well, who would not be able to afford the shipping costs. I am always remiss to post that following message, barring you from entering. It generally sucks, as so many of you are equally as passionate (or even more passionate) about Anne Rice’s  than anyone.

**Comic Shared by Coven Member, Jo Vee**
Read, and be entertained by this very amusing comic, which will serve as the Hyperlink image, that will allow you to be redirected to a Rafflecopter App. that will allow you to enter this contest!!

1239816_10152523818170939_6313328142930099931_n

***Please send photos, artwork, letters, diary entries, an epistolary novel, something that you feel artfully engraves the impact Anne Rice’s stories have had on your life to narniafanatic@gmail.com with the subject line of “28 Days of Lestat! With your express permission being granted to share these things (one poem or song per day during the course of October, 2014, up till the 28th of October), I hope to post something each day- a small fragment of one person’s completely unique approach to the series, which will hopefully come together, impressively, on the 28th of October, to virtually reconstruct the different views and memories people attach to this series, the character of Lestat, and many of the other vampires (or immortal species) Anne has created, in an uncannily realistic way, which makes us believe that these characters are very real, and existing amongst us.

Also, be sure to share anything Vampire Chronicles-related on the Lestat Book Coven Facebook Group Page, any comment sections on all 28 individual #28daysofLestat posts here on this blog, or on Twitter,Instagram, Tumblr, and beyond!!
COMING SOON….News about Prince Lestat Book Coven Release Party Festivities-New York NY-October 28, 2014

**For those who reside in the vicinity of New York, NY, Anne Rice will be at 192 Bookstore in New York, NY on October 28th, 2014 (coinciding with the official release of Prince Lestat)  I’ll be attending the New York event, and there are some exciting events, planned ahead of the signing at 7pm. Eastern at 192 Bookstore, which hypothetically, may include a special dinner and “Coven of the Articulate” Dinner at a New Orleans-style restaurant or coffee shop

Here are the event details, and you can RSVP for this event by heading over to the appropriate “Prince Lestat Invades NYC” Event Page on Facebook (or click on the St. John Divine church picture below to be taken there!!)

Event Details- October 28th, 2014; 2pm. Live Reading at St. John the Divine Church; and 4:30pm. “Coven of the Articulate Dinner” at a New Orleans style restaurant (soon-to-be- announced)!

The date is finalized, but the time is still not, as of yet, finalized, and the exact events are not yet clear either. So, this space is merely used to gauge interest in this event.

It will most likely be comprised of a live-reading of “Memnoch the Devil,” by either Anne Rice herself (low probability), as she is very busy preparing for her signing. It will most likely be myself reading it, or someone else entirely. I would prefer someone else reading it, who has the right type of reading voice.

The event will start at 2pm., giving people enough time to leave around 3pm. to head over to 192 Bookstore in New York City. For those who don’t mind where they are in line for the event, there will be a special dinner at 4:30pm. at a New Orleans style restaurant in the Manhattan area.

If you have any recommendations, as to the best place for such food, please leave your recommendations here! I need a final count of people that would be able to attend the Prince Lestat Cajun Dinner, by next week on Wednesday, and I will call the chosen restaurant to make the proper reservations then.

If anyone has good filming device of some kind (an iphone), you may be in charge of filming the St. John the Divine event, if we are given permission to do that! I have a low-tech camera, which I really don’t want to use, as the quality itself is terrible.

**Those of you, who do not live in the New York area still have a chance to meet Anne Rice, and get your treasured/beloved copies of Prince Lestat signed.

Several venues have discreetly posted some ticket information for the upcoming Prince Lestat book tour.  I will try finding more, and posting them below, with hyperlinked text for your convenience!! If you need help finding a signing near you, leave a comment below, or email me at narniafanatic@gmail.com.

For your convenience, all events that are not free events (a vast majority, unfortunately, are events that have charges attached/require tickets) happen to have asterisks (*) next to them:

If you manage to find any more events, please leave the link and other pertinent details in the comment area below! Thanks.

*October 28, 2014- Anne Rice& Victoria Wilson Book Signing- New York , NY 
*November 2, 2014- Anne Rice & Christopher Rice Book Signing New Orleans,LA
*
November 5, 2014- Anne Rice, In Conversation with Christopher Rice- Hartford, CT (for some reason, this event is a bit exorbitantly priced)
*
November 6, 2014- Anne Rice, In conversation with Victoria Wilson- Philadelphia, PA
*November 8, 2014- Anne Rice, In conversation with Victoria Wilson- Chicago, Il
*November 19, 2014- Anne Rice, In conversation with Christopher Rice- Los Angeles, CA   
(Click the hyper-linked text, to be referred to site to buy tickets!)A SPECIAL BLOOD AND GOLD First Edition, Signed Hardcover Contest

 

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Filed under PrinceLestat

#28DaysofLestat- Lestat Musical Post #3-Lestat Musical Week- “Sail Me Away”

Dare to click the book cover below, to pre-order your copy, because this is a book you will not want to miss, if you view yourself as a serious fan of the Vampire Lestat…


Day 17 (of 28 Total Days) Post:

Lestat Musical Week

The conjoining of such two dissimilar things, like vampires and musical, seems to make people respond pretty vehemently, in opposition, when they hear of the reality of the legacy of the Lestat musical. Regardless of your opinion of it (and your opinion always has merit, when responding to something subject to perceptual differences like a musical), the Lestat Musical does have immortality, as many clips can be found on Youtube. I wish that the soundtrack were released some day, as a memento of a musical that I felt was misunderstood. Maybe in a culture where vampires have been allowed a bit more artistic liberality in terms of how they are constructed on screen and on the pages of recent contemporary fiction works, people may be more accepting of a revival of this musical.

At the time of the musical’s release, Anne Rice really loved it, as evidenced by her review published around the time it went live on-stage:“It’s a long road from Epidaurus to the Palace Theater. New dramatic forms have dazzled us and will continue to do so.  But only the stage can make the magic I saw in LESTAT.  Only living human beings coming together for a certain uninterrupted span of time in which they act, and sing, and pour their hearts out, can achieve this wondrous feat.”
**To help showcase some of the more memorable tracks of the ill-fated Lestat musical, I will be showcasing roughly-edited/filmed clips, stored on Youtube, to give all Lestat fans a special opportunity to reflect upon  the Lestat musical.

For today’s special Lestat Musical Clip, I have a clip, featuring yet another strongly-sung, emotive Hugh Panaro song (the perfect theatrical embodiment of Lestat), singing the song from the musical called “Sail Me away, which perfectly conveys Lestat’s emotions, while internally dealing with the betrayal of Claudia while embarking on a boat back to his homeland of France (greatly altered by various civil wars and rebellions). The fact that this musical tried to comprehensively detail all the various complicated emotions, going through Lestat’s mind, throughout Anne Rice’s story, is one reason that the musical definitely deserves closer examination.

 

 

**Also, below is a Youtube interview with both Anne and Bernie Taupin,one of the writers, behind this short-lived, though memorable musical (at least to my eyes). This should help better contextualize the talents behind this, and how supportive Anne Rice was of this musical (Tomorrow, I will post a link to a longer, more in-depth article, from her website that perfectly describes her praise for the musical).

**Did you have a chance to attend the musical, during the short time that it ran on Broadway? Now be completely honest, did it live up to your expectations? Was it a technically good musical? Do you have any memories of seeing or attending it? Email me anything related to the musical, for being potentially considered to be posted here on my blog (as part of #28DaysofLestat) at narniafanatic@gmail.com

***Please send photos, artwork, letters, diary entries, an epistolary novel, something that you feel artfully engraves the impact Anne Rice’s stories have had on your life to narniafanatic@gmail.com with the subject line of “28 Days of Lestat! With your express permission being granted to share these things (one poem or song per day during the course of October, 2014, up till the 28th of October), I hope to post something each day- a small fragment of one person’s completely unique approach to the series, which will hopefully come together, impressively, on the 28th of October, to virtually reconstruct the different views and memories people attach to this series, the character of Lestat, and many of the other vampires (or immortal species) Anne has created, in an uncannily realistic way, which makes us believe that these characters are very real, and existing amongst us.

Also, be sure to share anything Vampire Chronicles-related on the Lestat Book Coven Facebook Group Page, any comment sections on all 28 individual #28daysofLestat posts here on this blog, or on Twitter,Instagram, Tumblr, and beyond!!

SPECIAL BLOOD AND GOLD First Edition, Signed Hardcover Contest

IMG_1439

I will be attending Anne Rice’s signing at 192 Books on October 28, 2014, and I am planning to get a copy signed and personalized for the winner on that date!! This is a special laminated (serving to protect the book) first-edition hardcover that is in very good condition. This contest helps further promote my self-publishing publicity and editorial services, for the many indie writers out there, and I really thank you, in advance for entering this contest, as these contests do go a long way with helping promote this service, so aptly named: A Bibliophile’s Workshop

Another hypothetical prize- Video Greeting, from Anne Rice herself!(still not definite, as of yet) is to record a special message at the signing, from Anne Rice, to the winner. I’m pretty certain she’d be really excited to do this, so it is a good chance that it may happen. But given time constraints at signings, this may not happen…Stay tuned for more details on this development.

Contest Rules:
     Winners are chosen randomly, by the Rafflecopter APP, and the contest is to everyone, with a few restrictions. For those living outside either US or Canada, you can enter, as long as you understood you are required to pay the postage, as I cannot afford to pay any international shipping costs. I’d love to, but I cannot feasibly offer this, in my current financial situation!

I apologize to those in the same boat, as well, who would not be able to afford the shipping costs. I am always remiss to post that following message, barring you from entering. It generally sucks, as so many of you are equally as passionate (or even more passionate) about Anne Rice’s  than anyone.

**Comic Shared by Coven Member, Jo Vee**
Read, and be entertained by this very amusing comic, which will serve as the Hyperlink image, that will allow you to be redirected to a Rafflecopter App. that will allow you to enter this contest!!

1239816_10152523818170939_6313328142930099931_n

***Please send photos, artwork, letters, diary entries, an epistolary novel, something that you feel artfully engraves the impact Anne Rice’s stories have had on your life to narniafanatic@gmail.com with the subject line of “28 Days of Lestat! With your express permission being granted to share these things (one poem or song per day during the course of October, 2014, up till the 28th of October), I hope to post something each day- a small fragment of one person’s completely unique approach to the series, which will hopefully come together, impressively, on the 28th of October, to virtually reconstruct the different views and memories people attach to this series, the character of Lestat, and many of the other vampires (or immortal species) Anne has created, in an uncannily realistic way, which makes us believe that these characters are very real, and existing amongst us.

Also, be sure to share anything Vampire Chronicles-related on the Lestat Book Coven Facebook Group Page, any comment sections on all 28 individual #28daysofLestat posts here on this blog, or on Twitter,Instagram, Tumblr, and beyond!!
COMING SOON….News about Prince Lestat Book Coven Release Party Festivities-New York NY-October 28, 2014

**For those who reside in the vicinity of New York, NY, Anne Rice will be at 192 Bookstore in New York, NY on October 28th, 2014 (coinciding with the official release of Prince Lestat)  I’ll be attending the New York event, and there are some exciting events, planned ahead of the signing at 7pm. Eastern at 192 Bookstore, which hypothetically, may include a special dinner and “Coven of the Articulate” Dinner at a New Orleans-style restaurant or coffee shop

Here are the event details, and you can RSVP for this event by heading over to the appropriate “Prince Lestat Invades NYC” Event Page on Facebook (or click on the St. John Divine church picture below to be taken there!!)

Event Details- October 28th, 2014; 2pm. Live Reading at St. John the Divine Church; and 4:30pm. “Coven of the Articulate Dinner” at a New Orleans style restaurant (soon-to-be- announced)!

The date is finalized, but the time is still not, as of yet, finalized, and the exact events are not yet clear either. So, this space is merely used to gauge interest in this event.

It will most likely be comprised of a live-reading of “Memnoch the Devil,” by either Anne Rice herself (low probability), as she is very busy preparing for her signing. It will most likely be myself reading it, or someone else entirely. I would prefer someone else reading it, who has the right type of reading voice.

The event will start at 2pm., giving people enough time to leave around 3pm. to head over to 192 Bookstore in New York City. For those who don’t mind where they are in line for the event, there will be a special dinner at 4:30pm. at a New Orleans style restaurant in the Manhattan area.

If you have any recommendations, as to the best place for such food, please leave your recommendations here! I need a final count of people that would be able to attend the Prince Lestat Cajun Dinner, by next week on Wednesday, and I will call the chosen restaurant to make the proper reservations then.

If anyone has good filming device of some kind (an iphone), you may be in charge of filming the St. John the Divine event, if we are given permission to do that! I have a low-tech camera, which I really don’t want to use, as the quality itself is terrible.

**Those of you, who do not live in the New York area still have a chance to meet Anne Rice, and get your treasured/beloved copies of Prince Lestat signed.

Several venues have discreetly posted some ticket information for the upcoming Prince Lestat book tour.  I will try finding more, and posting them below, with hyperlinked text for your convenience!! If you need help finding a signing near you, leave a comment below, or email me at narniafanatic@gmail.com.

For your convenience, all events that are not free events (a vast majority, unfortunately, are events that have charges attached/require tickets) happen to have asterisks (*) next to them:

If you manage to find any more events, please leave the link and other pertinent details in the comment area below! Thanks.

*October 28, 2014- Anne Rice& Victoria Wilson Book Signing- New York , NY 
*November 2, 2014- Anne Rice & Christopher Rice Book Signing New Orleans,LA
*
November 5, 2014- Anne Rice, In Conversation with Christopher Rice- Hartford, CT (for some reason, this event is a bit exorbitantly priced)
*
November 6, 2014- Anne Rice, In conversation with Victoria Wilson- Philadelphia, PA
*November 8, 2014- Anne Rice, In conversation with Victoria Wilson- Chicago, Il
*November 19, 2014- Anne Rice, In conversation with Christopher Rice- Los Angeles, CA   
(Click the hyper-linked text, to be referred to site to buy tickets!)

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Spirituality for the Spiritual Wanderer:Countdown to Release of Karen Armstrong’s “Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence”

Warning for the believers that all religious discussion should be silenced, for the sake of preserving peace! This post is not meant to condescend, or patronize anyone’s own religious/spiritual practices; it is a free forum for people to discuss and ponder issues, for those that seek a silent, peaceful place to grapple with such issues, in the safe confines of this blog post!!

My Journey Away From Fundamentalism, to a Road of Wandering, Far, Far Away from the Jarring Distraction of Certainty..

The best practice of spirituality is to shut the door of your bedroom, and anywhere you can get far, far away from the chattering gales of brash certitude, particularly about metaphysical matters of which no one can be absolutely certain of. Fundamentalism, from my experience, is a deep neurosis, which really only makes sense, or seems sensible, when you’re already emotionally-weakened by a multitude of things in your life. My journey away from it was difficult, taxing, lonely, and it still is very difficult, analogous to getting over an alcohol addiction. You get addicted to the self-centeredness, gloating, and absolute self-hatred that soaks into your brain, like a porous, undeveloped sponge of a self/or identity that will soak   up all the masochistic, self-guilt messages from a fundamentalist sermon like an drug addict, gladly taking in every whiff of the drug of choice for the evening.

My fundamentalist addiction ended at a funeral, and my breaking point was the absolute disgust, shock, and continued unconscionable idea that a ceremony to honor a person’s death, could be used so selfishly, and profanely to instead divert our attention away from the person’s life and legacy, instead to a frightening aspect that this person’s life is proof we ourselves need to somehow dedicate ourselves again to a very punitive, belligerent, block-headed sadist of a God, who is only using the lives of supposed sainted few to remind us of how we need only to have blind adulation for this God, not to to love, not to forgive, not to have deep appreciation for the depth and beauty of the miracle of our lives, but to just vacuously escape the wrath of this God.
It was harder for me than ever to get over my grief, and I now have a terrible phobia of funerals for this reason, because I only remember being intensely angry. A part of me has forgiven that incident, as just a folly of humanity, trying so hard to feign certainty about matters they don’t really know anything about. But, a larger part of me is unable ever to fathom a form of religion that reduces the worth of our lives to just being about trying to escape the wrath of a not-so nice God. And, this God is evil, as though fitting the Gnostic belief that the Old Testament God is really the embodiment of evil (in my opinion, there is not clear description of God in the Bible, as the “God” in the Bible is merely a projection of how particular Old Testament characters perceive that God).

A God that punishes us for any fallibility in our limitations of knowledge and imagination, at this point in my life, seems far too domestic, far too human. I don’t think I could ever do religion ever again in my life, and I cannot even do atheism successfully either. Brash, fervid ideologies of any kind scare me, make me feel an almost impenetrable wall of darkness. Almost all these ideologies have certain figureheads, or personalities that become the face of this group’s entire ideology. People often talk as reverently about anything Sam Harris or Richard Dawkins says (I really like Richard Dawkin’s more scientific books, because he is a brilliant biologist), much like certain Christians may feel the same way about their preferred preacher for the weak. All of these ideas, including my very own, are fallible, and accepting that as a natural element of all our humanity was the road towards forgiveness for my past; an essential letting go of things, holding no antipathy and grueling hate towards it, and just accepting that neuroses (we all have them), and idiosyncratic beliefs are really part of human nature.

This takes me now to my current spiritual status, away from groups, ideologies, categorical thinking, which is really unconventional, and I don’t suggest people taking this road. There are many wonderful, thriving, and great groups that dwell within all ideologies and religions. Ever since leaving Christianity, I have had good church experiences (thankfully!) that have actually been an essential part of my own journey of forgiving the past. I think I would still attend a nice, edifying church service time-to-time, just to be part of some kind of community, seeing the ritualized ceremony acting out some essential myth that for some reason gives us intimations of transcendence.

Why Spirituality, and not religion? Well, my interest in etymology has been very interesting, indeed, for the meanings of the words religion and spirituality

These definitions are taken from the Oxford Dictionary online, and the origins of these words is particularly revealing, to me, as someone that is always looking up linguistic things online.

Definition of Religion  (Hyperlink takes you to definition page, to avoid any accusations that I am plagiarizing)
  “The belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods”

I don’t like the word “belief,” and sometimes it can mean something deep, and even reverent, and really uplifting to others, but for me, that word feels odious, restrictive, as though any love, wonder and imagination involved with good practices of spirituality have been leeched from the word, making it a boring, sterile word like belief. Anyone can believe, and my Fundamentalist upbringing taught me that “belief” connotes something unflinching, unimaginative, restrained, binding-almost like an obligation- to escape your own conceited fate of possibly being burned to death for eternity.

Religion has often been an object for control, and subjugation, when almost subsumed by political interests, starting very long ago, and into the middle ages and beyond. It is not always (and I will keep repeating this, as if I don’t, someone will be hastily judging me for being anti-religious, which I am not), and there were pragmatic reasons/maybe good-intentioned logical purposes, at a given time in history, for religion to be more controlling, bureaucratic, dogmatic, than other times. But, there was almost always a political motive behind it, more so than a “spiritual or numinous,” or the transcendent qualities of religion that help humanity to aspire to think outside the box of societal political structures. When religion has a more strident spiritual or mystical side alongside it, this is what uplifts it more from the more prejudicial, hierarchical, mechanical laws and codices.

In the Middle English, the word even curiously originated as being “binding, and obligation,” relating more to a political obligation to have unswerving fidelity for some sovereign king. The idea of God being a anthropomorphic despot in the imaginations of some people in both the Middle Ages, and Renaissance, is inevitable, when the brute force of religious orthodoxy is subsumed again by political obligations or rules. At this time, we get a lot of kings, asserting they were divinely chosen, which again confuses the religious imagination to think of God as a mere king, an anthropomorphism the Jews spoke pretty frankly about, when the “God” character of a certain Bible story fears the Israelite having a king, as if to forewarn them that a king might alter or limit the spiritual/mystical dimension of their religion.

So, the fundamentalism understanding of God is starkly religious, domestic, and very human, because he hales from  the history of God being merely some deified sky-king, always bestowed with all the same honorifics as the King of England.  If you didn’t have the right ideas or notions of the King of England, it would be “off with your head,” and if you didn’t have the proper ideas of God, then you’d be burned at the stake, then burned for infinity and beyond, in some hell dimension (beyond the pale of just mere sadism).

Now, here is the definition of spiritual:
Spiritual: Of, relating to, or affecting the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things:

**In history, we always had traditions of religion, which are both more mystical and spiritual. You will find these voices everywhere in every religion, and it is where spiritual wanderers like myself look to, when trying to escape the more domestic, religious notion of “metaphysical” things.

At the time when religion was very politically-influenced (and fundamentalism is ironically very secular/politically-influenced),we have groups like the Quakers that assert ideas of pacifism, egalitarian virtues, and the idea of the holy spirit, highlighting elements of Christian scripture that were more spiritual and numinous in their understanding. The Quakers are, in my opinion, one of the more successful religious/spiritual groups, much like some of the Franciscan monks (and various other orders) in Catholicism are often the most successful part of Catholicism (Catholicism and Eastern Orthodox have always tried to preserve elements of the spiritual and numinous in their religion;hence, the reason for less fundamentalism/literalism in some effect,among their ranks).

As a spiritual wanderer, I recently rediscovered the Quakers, and the writings of Quaker mystics, much like a volume of St. Francis quotes I read nightly, have helped me chase the storm of fundamentalism nihilism far away. Again, spirituality is not about beliefs, and things that are more political in nature (binding and obligatory). It is about the spirit, or in more Scully-rational terms, things which pull at our heart strings.

A song by Johnny Cash, or a wonderful concert/theater performance, can be just as numinous and meditative to watch, as any religious sermon. The one thing our culture has done wrong is to completely disregard the meaning of spiritual, consigning it to the world of New Age thinking, even though spiritual simply means of, or relating to the emotions.  And how “new” is new age, when the human proclivity to create art, stories, music that takes them away temporarily, from their more domestic, stressful lives has been a part of human history, longer so than political institutions??

There are a lot of spiritual charlatans out there, and I have found that the best, non-charlatan spiritual writers, write more spiritual advice that can actually fairly logical, in premise, while still allowing us to ponder the human condition deeply. Take John Donne’s famous sermon for instance, where he says that simple, though deeply meaningful line of “No Man is an Island.” A phrase, so pithy, so provocative, that it even is the title of an excellent Thomas Merton book. Yet, it essentially tells the biggest truth of our spiritual or human condition that no human being is a stranger to the confusing existential questions and doubts that exist in our minds. We may have more orthodox religions that try to hard to control these things, or just neglect them, but it is spirituality, what we read about in well-written novels, see in songs, or poems, the crucial truth of humanity.

And while not Catholic (at this point, let’s stop with thinking we must “be a certain nominal label” to read certain things), I think the crucifixes of Jesus that would hang all over the Catholic college I attended for my undergrad years, had this very peculiar power to make me ponder just how that crucifix of Jesus hanging from the cross, did not seem to have just a literal meaning, but something almost deeper, as if acknowledging the same battle waged daily, day in and day out, over the paradoxical knowledge that there is sorrow and tragedy in our lives, and this truth, seen in bitter, sobering news-stories, cause us to feel burdened with a heavy sense of melancholy, or feeling disconsolate. And rather than transcend these things, accept them and forgive them with a certain shred of equanimity (while still finding practical ways to help bring justice to these situations, of course), we may start to feel angry, as if feeling wrathful and vengeful towards a certain prejudicial group may help assuage our own bitter pain and fear. Yet, it never really helps anyone, especially if this anger manifests in acts of violence. Injustice and the sorrow accompanying our existence should never be the cause of sowing more suffering for others, or ironically multiplying it. When seeing that crucifix, I weirdly had this feeling of I need to forgive my fundamentalist past, let it go, and only see just what vital lessons it has educated me on, in terms of my own spiritual growth.
This brings me now to Karen Armstrong, who wrote an excellent book called Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life, a book that gave me some very helpful, though rigorously challenging ways to be more proactive about engaging with out humanity/ living life in a more spiritual (maybe even a bit Quaker) way.

This religious insistence that our lives are only about having qualified, correct, doctrinal-sound ideas has made many of us feel ridiculously embittered, annoyed, and very distracted from self-reflection. As a former fundamentalist, I never knew how to be compassionate. It was a word that was degraded in the Fundamentalist lexicon, to something more selfish, in that we must actively convert others, not because we love them, but to earn brownie points from the God-King. 

Karen Armstrong’s “Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life,” is so ridiculously challenging of a book, to read, and to ponder your own actions, that you’ll begin to understood more why people degrade compassion, because it is actually very difficult, in essence, of a thing to practice.

You may look at this books, and say to yourself cynically “Oh no! not another trite self-help book!” This isn’t self help; this isn’t spiritual charlatanism, disguised as exalted narcissism. Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life is really less about yourself, and more about how you’re interacting with others, and the challenge of trying to think  comprehensively about the complicated plights and situations that other people are in.

**As Fields of Blood, Karen Armstrong’s newest book is on the horizon of “the soon-to-be-released” category, I will be sharing with you all my own spiritual musings, examinations, and book recommendations, as a spiritual wanderer. This is not about what religion you are, or ideology, or what is the correct theology/doctrines/ set of beliefs to follow to escape eternal hell-flames. These posts are for everyone, and anyone that has ever felt alone, or as an outsider, for feeling like your spiritual imagination feels too wide, too expansive, at times, when sitting in either a church, mosque, synagogue, etc.

**Maybe, your particular religious  group actually equips you with ways to be more compassionate, because there are many wonderful examples of religious institutions that are actively trying to be more balanced with offering both spiritual/religious modes of engaging with the greatest questions that plague the human condition.**

Until October 28, 2014 (release of Fields of Blood) I will be reviewing books, across a spectrum of religions, that have helped me greatly, as a spiritual wanderer. And since Karen Armstrong’s newest book discusses the issue of whether religion can be solely  blamed for all violence in the world (a most ridiculous, facile argument), I think this is an issue to discuss, in terms of discussing issues of spirituality. Why is it that mysticism, ethical things achieved by some religious groups (like the Quakers, etc.) are too often ignored in the didactic popular media we have, that always wishes to reduce the complexity of almost all issues?

Spiritual Practice #1- Letting Go of  Controlled, Rigid Belief-
Tonight, lock yourself in your room, and give yourself a quiet space to think of any and all blasphemous thoughts that you can think of. Write them down, if you feel comfortable, and try to make peace with them, by remembering that our minds are “limited,” our brains are wired to think of multiple angles and perceptions of things.  Free up your religious imagination, and try not to worry about being damned for thinking silly things in your mind. It is your mind, and the benefit of this practice is really helping to strengthen the ability to empathize greater with others. If your brain is tightly wound with orthodoxies, and only thoughts of “my salvation,etc.,” you are neglecting the greater thought of your connection with other people, and the particular challenges other people face daily.

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Review of Curse of the Chupacabra by Michael Hebler

Amazon/Barnes and Nobles/Books-A-Million/Goodreads

Curse of the Chupacabra by Michael Hebler
Publish by Michael Hebler
Review by Christina R. Olivo

As October, and Halloween draw near it is around this time that we as humans look towards the very things that frighten us for entertainment. For some reason we have a strange obsession over what scares us, and what could be lurking in the shadows. Whether we realize it, or not we eagerly peer into the abyss at this time of year. We create the things that haunt our nightmares as if to shout into the never-ending pit we are not afraid. Is it also while looking for demons we look for angels. Memories of departed loved ones, and the idea that if we peer into the dark long enough we might see the light. Perhaps even make contact with them while the veil between our two worlds is blurred. Some live in the twilight forever like Michael Hebler’s characters of his Chupacabra series. There is no such thing as normality anymore, and yet it is what they strive for in the second book of the series.

“Curse of the Chupacabra” continues Jessie’s adventures now with Suzanne by train to Virginia City. Both have left the horrors of Dillmore Valley behind in hopes to start a new life. Although it is Suzanne’s hope that her arrangement with a couple called The Hutchinsons will help provide Jessie with a better life than she can herself. It is her thought that a whore cannot be a suitable mother for a child. There is obviously some shame in her former life, and it only grows as she is assaulted by a former Dillmore Valley resident in the back of the train before being rescued by a mysterious savior. There is also some regret as well for leaving Jessie with people she is not so sure of herself. Her misgivings turn out to be on point once they reach Virginia City, and she gives Jessie to the Hutchinsons. Both Mary and George are walking skeletons stretching out their last dollar, and placing all their bets on Jessie to one day be suitable enough to marry the Mayor of Virginia City. Jessie being the firecracker she is will have none of it, and tries to escape. In the middle of her escape she hears a familiar horrible sucking sound, and it seems the chupacabra has appeared out of nowhere once again. For once, the chupacabra is a welcome surprise as it distracts, and kills the Hutchinsons allowing Jessie to find Suzanne. Once the two girls are reunited again they find a kind hand in James who turned out to be not only Suzanne’s hero from the train, but an actor with a traveling troupe. James appearing to take a liking to them allows them to travel with them by wagon since they cannot afford a train. It appears the girls have finally met a decent human being until they find out they are not the only ones with secrets to hide. The girls seem to have caught a break until Jessie begins to develop a sickness at the same time something is following the wagons. Suzanne, and Jessie cannot escape towards the light no matter how hard they try.

As it was stated in the last review of the first book many of the questions were answered from the third book. It seems these girls attract the scum of the Earth no matter where they go, and as they encounter these people they only get stronger. Their bond obviously becomes stronger, and perhaps that is why I thought of them as sisters in the third book. They want what is best for each other, and they look out for one another. You really do want these two to make it to their dreams, and you want them to finally catch a break. Everyone has their highs, and lows but it is what you do after you reach that low that makes you what you really are. Jessie, and Suzanne are made of the strongest material on Earth if they can continue to hope for the better after the things they have witnessed. It is inspiring to see such strong female characters, and it makes you think if these two can get through hell then so can you. That is one thing especially in a time like this we all need to remember. We may come up against our worst nightmares, and demons but if we can fight them off we will become stronger.

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