Oct 09

Reading in Public – “Winter’s Tale” by Mark Helprin

I’ve mentioned before that Mark Helprin’s “Winter’s Tale” is my favorite novel of all time (and also the best novel I’ve ever read).  Every year, once the weather starts getting cold and the days shorter, I reread it, and it’s about that time.

This year, I want to share my love/obsession with the world (or at least the regular visitors of this blog).  I’m going to read two chapters a week, and post my thoughts and feelings about them.  And I’m encouraging any and all of my visitors to join me, both in reading the book, and in discussing it.

I’ll kick things off right here, talking about the very brief prologue.  Even before that, Helprin starts us off with a quote that sets the tone for all that’s to follow:

“I have been to another world, and come back.  Listen to me.”

That sentiment could apply to many of the characters in the story about to unfold, and it prepares us to jump across both worlds and eras (and different times ARE other worlds; as the famous quote has it, “the past is another country.”).

The prologue showcases Helprin’s gift of prose; it’s gorgeous from the very first word.  As he opens things:

A great city is nothing more than a portrait of itself, and yet when all is said and done, its arsenals of scenes and images are part of a deeply moving plan.

He goes on to talk about New York City specifically, where our story is set, and, really, the book is one long love letter to the greatest city in the world.  We’re told about the mass of white clouds that surround the city, about which we’ll learn much more as the novel progresses.  We  also get our first reference to the the city as one great machine, about which, again, much more later.

And then we are told:

…our swift unobserved descent will bring us to life that is blooming in the quiet of another time.

This is important, as we’ll see very shortly in chapter one.  The prologue ends with an invitation:

As we float down in utter silence, into a frame again unfreezing we are confronted by a tableau of winter colors.  These are very strong, and they call us in.

Colors, both wintry and otherwise, play a large role not only symbolically, but very literally in the story, as we’ll discover early on.

So the stage is set.  We’re about to embark on a journey that will span worlds and centuries.  I hope you’ll come along with me; our first steps will be onto the snow-covered streets of pre-World War I Manhattan, which is where chapter one begins…


Chapter Index

I’ll keep an updated list of links to the individual chapter discussions here, so it’ll all be easy to find…

Part 1, Chapter 1 (“A White Horse Escapes”)

Part 1, Chapter 2 (“The Ferry Burns in Morning Cold”)

Part 1, Chapter 3 (“Pearly Soames”)

Part 1, Chapter 4 (“Peter Lake Hangs From A Star”)

Part 1, Chapter 5 (“Beverly”)


Mar 18

Buy the Books!

Here’s the one-page resource for everything you need to know about me and my books…especially how to buy them!

Read the rest of this entry »

Oct 24

Cover Reveal – “Romancing Christmas”

Romancing Christmas: 10 Love Stories to Spice up the Holidays

Multi-author boxed set
Release Date: November 3, 2014
Genre: Holiday Romance

Cover Artist: http://www.bellamediamanagement.com/


Do you like your Christmas nice…or a little naughty? Bring the season into your heart with love stories to match your mood. This boxed set from 10 of today’s hottest romance authors will warm your heart even on the coldest night.

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Join the ROMANCING CHRISTMAS authors for their LAUNCH DAY PARTY! The authors and a slew of their sassy friends will be celebrating the release, November 3rd, 4th, and 5th, 10:30 AM to 10:30 PM (EASTERN TIME).

Prizes Galore, Q&A, Authors, Readers, Books, and FUN! So what are you waiting for? Come join us and have a blast!

~~Novellas included in set~~
USA Today Bestselling Author Dale Mayer ~ Broken Protocols 3.5 
Award-winning author H.D. Thomson ~ Shades of Holly
Chantel Rhondeau ~ Season For Love
Award-winning author Leslie Lynch ~ Christmas Hope
Award-winning author Sandy Loyd A Christmas Miracle
Website: www.sandyloyd.com

Barbara Lohr ~ The Salty Carmel Christmas 

Website: www.BarbaraLohrAuthor.com

Marcia JamesHeating Up the Holidays
Carolyn Hughey ~ Insanity Claus  
Website: www.carolynhughey.com

Tallulah Grace ~ A Family for Christmas 

Website: http://www.tallulahgrace.com

Rachelle Ayala A Father for Christmas

Oct 23

Reading in Public – “Winter’s Tale” (part 1, chapter 5 – “Beverly”)

Onwards we push, and we’re about to meet a new and very important character, in a chapter named for her.  Connections are becoming clearer, and seeds planted in earlier chapters will begin to bear fruit here.

We open with a description of the Penn family, and their home overlooking the Central Park reservoir.  There’s Isaac, the patriarch, as well as publisher and owner of the New York Sun (technically, as we’ll see in part two, it’s really two newspapers: the New York Morning Whale, and the New York Evening Sun), who spent much of his childhood and young-adulthood on a whaling ship.

Then there are his four children: Harry (who will one day follow in Isaac’s footsteps), Jack, three-year-old Willa, and eighteen-year-old Beverly.  We hear Beverly before we see her; she’s practicing on the piano when an optometrist arrives to examine her and make her a new pair of glasses.  Our first view of her is through his eyes (I think there’s something symbolic here – we first see Beverly through the lens of a man whose job is to make lenses – but I’m honestly not sure exactly what Helprin is saying or implying with that).

And then a young woman appeared in the doorway, apparently blushing, with cheerful eyes that stared in the direction of the ice-clad windows.  She breathed as if she had a fever, and the expression on her face suggested a pleasant delirium.  Her golden hair was lit so brilliantly in a crosslight that it appeared to be burning like the sun.

Beverly, of course, is suffering from consumption (no spoiler; we’ll find out on the very next page) – just as Peter Lake’s parents did.  And note the description of her hair – golden, burning like the sun.  Exactly as the clouds appeared to be burning with gold in the first chapter, when the horse so desperately wanted to cross over to them.  And just as in the golden room that Pearly Soames envisioned.  What does it imply about Beverly that she carries with her that same gold?

The optometrist examines Beverly, and in the course of his work, he observes that she is in fact consumptive.  He also determines that her vision is perfect.  Isaac protests that she’s worn glasses since she was a young child, but the optometrist answers:

“What can I tell you?  She doesn’t need them now.”

Just as her fever and her bouts of delirium have sharpened her vision of the universe, allowing her to see things that others can’t (more on that in a moment), so, too, her literal vision has been sharpened to perfection.

After the examination, there’s a family dinner, and then Beverly prepares for bed.  This is quite involved, because she sleeps out on the roof.  Due to her illness, heat and closed rooms are tantamount to a death sentence for her, and she requires  the fresh, cold air of the outdoors.  The Penns’ wealth provides for a sleeping arrangement worthy of an Arctic expedition, with every kind of cold-weather clothing and gear imaginable.  Beverly ascends to her perch, and commences to look at the stars:

not for ten minutes or a quarter-hour as most people did, but for hour after hour.  Even astronomers did not take in the sky with such devotion, for they were constantly occupied with charting, measurements, the fallabilties of their earthbound instruments, and concentration upon one or another celestial problem.  Beverly had the whole of it; she could see it all.

In her long hours observing the sky, Beverly sees things that she doesn’t understand – at first, she doesn’t even realize she’s seeing them.  She remembers waking up one morning to find a notebook filled with equations, all in her own handwriting, but which she doesn’t remember writing.  She brings them to the planetarium and shows them to an expert, who finds them fascinating.  When he asks her what they mean to her, she replies:

“They mean to me that the universe growls, and sings.  No, shouts.”

He presses her on the point:

“How, exactly?”

“Like a dog, but low, low.  And then it shouts, mixed voices, tones, a white and silver sound.”  The astronomer’s eyes were already wide, but she made his heart thud when she said, “The light is silent, but then it clashes like cymbals, and arches out like a fountain, to travel and yet be still.  It crosses space, without moving, on a fixed beam, as cleanly and silently as a pillar of ruby or diamond.”

Compare this with Peter Lake’s thoughts on his refuge in the “back of the sky” in the previous chapter.

And it’s here that we leave Beverly, as her attention returns to her present, falling asleep on a snowy, frozen rooftop, one consumptive among a legion of them:

They were there, each one alone – as all will someday be – in conversation with the stars, mining ephemeral love from cold and distant light.

Even if you didn’t know from the back cover of the book that Peter Lake and Beverly Penn were going to meet and experience an extraordinary love, it ought to be clear from this chapter and the previous one that they’re meant for each other.  It’s also clear that the fate of the world – of worlds – may hinge on their love and what becomes of it.  We’ll begin to get into that in the next chapter…


Oct 22

Reading in Public – “Winter’s Tale” (part 1, chapter 4 – “Peter Lake Hangs From a Star”)

I warned you a couple of chapters ago that there are some beastly long chapters in this book, and we’ve got one of them right here.

We also have an example of Helprin’s unconcern with traditional narrative devices.  This chapter is an extended flashback – a recounting of Peter Lake’s life from infancy up to the present (a point that we last left back at the end of chapter 2).  But it’s not immediately obvious that it is a flashback, not until a few pages in, when the Baymen make their appearance and it becomes clear what’s going on.

So: we open on a ship anchored a mile or so off of Governors Island, gateway for immigrants to the United States.  There are a hundred or so people on deck, in a state something close to shock.  In a flashback within a flashback, we learn why: they hoped to come to America, but, upon examination on Governors Island, they were turned back.  For a young couple with an infant son, the reason was disease – specifically consumption, which is notable for reasons that we’ll come to in the next chapter.  We also get a physical description of Peter Lake’s parents – his father has

eyes as blue as the wet blue cups in a palette of watercolors

Keep that in mind when we get to the first meeting of Peter and Beverly Penn in a couple of chapters.

The parents try to convince someone to take their son, to let him grow up in America, even if it’s without them, but they have no luck.  Eventually, however, they come up with a solution, when the father happens upon a four foot long miniature model of the ship in a meeting room.  It turns out to be seaworthy, and just the right size to build a tiny bed into.  Young Peter is put in the boat, lowered into the water and sent on his way, calling to mind (I admit that neither of these thoughts occurred to me; I read them in other reviews of the book, but they’re so obvious that I don’t know how I missed them) the story of Moses, and also of baby Kal-El, sent away from Krypton to escape its destruction.

I suspect that Helprin had both those tales in mind.  An infant is sent away to be raised in another culture, where he will forever be an outsider, but also have abilities/gifts that nobody else shares – that certainly applies here.

Peter is found by a group of three Baymen who are fishing; they take him in and, without any discussion, bring him back, to be raised as one of them.  For the next twelve years, Peter learns everything the Baymen have to teach (including swordfighting, which Peter takes to immediately).  But then he’s sent away to Manhattan, where after a very stressful first day, he comes upon two women dancing in a park – spielers, who also pick pockets to supplement their income – and he falls in with them (literally, once they arrive back at the hovel the spielers call home).

Peter learns one important lesson with them, when he sees passers-by throwing money to them as they dance, when he would have danced anyway, just for the fun of it:

to be paid for one’s joy is to steal

And he’s set on the path to becoming a master thief.  But there are some bumps on that path.  The next day, he wanders into a sales exhibition of industrial machines, and becomes entranced by them (It’s far too long to type out, but the sales pitch for the Barkington-Payson Semi-Automatic Level-Seeking Underwater Caisson Drill and Dynamite Spacer is a thing of wonder).  His wonderment is interrupted by the police, who snatch Peter up and take him to his home for the next several years, Reverend Overweary’s Home for Lunatic Boys.  There, he meets another mentor: the Very Reverend Mootfowl, who is:

forever at the forge or workbench, crafting, cutting, designing.  He lived steel, iron, and timber.  he could fabricate anything.  he was a mad craftsman, a genius of tools.

He’s more than that, too, but that’s for later chapters.  For now, he’s simply Peter’s guiding star.  All is well for a while, although Peter isn’t quite sure where he fits into the grand scheme of things:

He was not really a Bayman, not really Irish, and only partly one of Mootfowl’s boys, since, unlike the gamy five-year-olds who were to be seen in a corner of the shed, learning to work with miniature tools, he had been apprenticed relatively late.  He was not sure to what he had to be loyal.

Matters come to a head when the famous bridge-builder Jackson Mead comes to New York to start a new bridge – having just arrived after the mysterious cloud wall had cut the city off for weeks.  Mootfowl is beyond excited at this development, because bridges are, to him, sacred:

When a catenary of steel a mile long is hung in the clear over a river, believe me, God knows.

Helprin has told us this already, and it’s more than just flowery language.  Attracting the notice of God is the whole point of Jackson Mead’s bridges.  And Mootfowl has a plan to gain employment on this latest effort – he brings all his boys to Mead, and proposes a test: select an appropriately difficult task, assign it to any of the boys, and if he should perform it adequately, then Mead will hire the lot of them.  Mead, who is a striking and powerful man (six foot eight with snow-white hair and mustache, and an aura to match), agrees, and selects the boy who he deems the weakest of the bunch, young Cecil Mature.

Poor Cecil performs disastrously, and Mootfowl and company trudge away in defeat:

Their single-file walk back to the workshop was taken by many to be a funeral procession without a corpse.

But there will be a corpse: after a few days of despondent lethargy, Mootfowl calls Peter in to assist him on a new project, a strange wood-and-metal device in his office.  Peter has no idea what it’s for, but trusting Mootfowl, he helps out enthusiastically.  Finally, Mootfowl orders Peter to strike an iron bar with a sledgehammer.  Peter does so, then only belatedly discovers what the device was for: it was Mootfowl’s means of suicide, via the iron bar that has impaled Mootfowl and pinned him to the wall.  Needless to say, Peter runs for his life, and young Cecil Mature joins him.

After a short time on the lam, and just when the heat over Mootfowl’s death has begun to cool down, Peter and Cecil are at a saloon when they meet Pearly Soames, new chief of the Short Tails (having recently killed the previous leader; one can only imagine how insecure it would feel to have Pearly as one’s lieutenant!).  Pearly makes Peter and Cecil an offer they dare not refuse, and they become Short Tails.

We then get a few pages on the Short Tails, and a digression into some of the arcane criminal subspecialties they have refined into art forms, before catching up to the meeting in the Cemetery of the Honored Dead from the last chapter, and Peter’s betrayal.  As we already knew, he warns the Baymen of Pearly’s plot, and so, when the Short Tails attack, the Baymen are ready, and 97 of the 100 Short Tails are slain.  Only Peter, Cecil and Pearly survive.  And it’s Peter’s act of saving Cecil that alerts Pearly to the fact that he is the one who betrayed the gang.

Peter can only watch, helplessly, as Pearly rebuilds the Short Tails and goes on the hunt for him, and then we jump back to the present, with Peter and the horse.  As they gallop through the streets of Manhattan, they discover together that the horse can jump – or really, fly, since we’re talking about soaring over an entire city block in one go.  And then Peter stops, dismounts and asks the horse, “What are you?”  He gets an answer:

The horse then turned to look at him, and, he saw with a chill, that they eyes were infinitely deep, opening like a tunnel to another universe.

Which might well be literally true.  After that, Peter decides to head for a refuge he’s built for himself

above the barrel of the sky, atop the glowing constellations.

It’s located above the ceiling of Grand Central Station, where the architects created constellations of stars high up (did J.K. Rowling take the idea for the enchanted ceiling of the Great Hall at Hogwarts from this scene?).  Above the stars, Peter has a space with a bed, a larder, running water, a stove to cook with, and an escape mechanism.

Peter Lake was one of the few who knew that beyond the visible universe were beams and artifice, a homely support for that which seemed to float.  And he had returned by craft and force to the back of the sky, where once in another life he had helped to forge the connections between the beams, to rest now amid the props of the designers’ splendid intentions.


It’s clear, to me at least, that this is meant to be taken both literally and figuratively – this will play out over the course of the book, and keep this passage especially in mind when we get to the very end.

Peter’s refuge is not unknown to all, however – after thirty-six hours of much-needed sleep, he’s awoken by the approach of a gang.  Not the Short Tails, but another gang, the Dead Rabbits.  Thankfully, they intend Peter no harm, they just want to buy the horse (and enter him either in the circus or as a thoroughbred at Belmont).  Peter eventually makes it clear to them that the horse is not for sale at any price, and then he decides, once and for all, to make an end to the life of constant pursuit.  He considers various ways in which he might do so, including the example of St. Stephen, who

changed form before the eyes of those who watched, that he could rise in the air and be many things, that he knew the past and future, that he traveled from one time to another, though he was a simple man.

Helprin will come back to St. Stephen in part 3 of the book, but compare his attributes to what you’ll see Peter Lake do in the next few chapters, as well.  In the meantime, Peter purposes to:

steal enough money so that he could set himself up and try to become something other, and perhaps better, than what he was.

And the chapter ends with this musing from Peter:

“With all that I’ve seen,” Peter Lake said to himself, “I’ve seen nothing.  The city is like an engine, an engine just beginning to fire itself up.”  He could hear it.  Its surflike roar matched the lights.  Its ceaseless thunder was not for nothing.

Everything we talked about in the introduction and first chapter is here – building connections across time and worlds, New York City as a giant machine, and also as a single giant organism, the desire to cross worlds, to get back to another, better world – Heaven, maybe.

And in the next chapter, we’re about to meet someone who will change Peter Lake’s life completely…


Oct 21

Book Blast! “Getting it Right” by Christi Williams


book blast


sensual contemporary Western romance 

Getting It Right


Christi Williams


Last of a long line of agrarian witches, Selene

Pertunda thinks she will never meet the right man…until with the help of a

little magic, she finds Beck McNeal.




Named for

the Goddess of Desire, can she dream of lasting happiness with only one man?


Selene Pertunda has no trouble attracting a man. She just can’t seem to

find the right one. From abusive husband Robert to tattooed bad boy lover

Kevin, Selene draws men to her like bears to her honeypot. The problem is that

none of them proves to be a good fit.


Sure she will never find a shared happiness, Selene has no way to suspect

she’s drawn the attention of a powerful goddess. So she scoffs at the idea that

the handsome man who begins to  play a large part in her life could be her

destiny.  After all, what could worldly, educated Beck McNeal want with a

small-town girl like Selene?


Selene and Beck try to their best to resist the inexplicable mutual

magnetism flaring between them. But can two ordinary people avoid the decree of

the Goddess of Desire?

Getting It Right

is the first novel-length work in

the Wyoming Series of contemporary romances by Christi Williams.

Click this Amazon pre-order link for Getting It Right!


Other books by Christi Williams:

   “To the One I Never Forgot” is a short story that

launched the Wyoming Series. Gianna and Zack were too young for love

when they were separated. Now, all grown up, can Gianna be reunited with the

one she never forgot?

   Christi Williams is also the author of two novels and a

novella in the Hawk Point Romances series. Take a Chance on Love is the story of the

chance encounter of widow Chancie de Leur and hot Wyoming Highway Patrol

trooper Micah Taylor. Perilous Promises is Perris and Noah Dalton’s

story of recovery from breast cancer and the effort to revive their formerly

wonderful marriage. The novella Clay’s Quest is the tale of a hot

Wyoming cop who comes up with a wacky plan to save his marriage when he just

won’t accept that his beautiful wife wants to find someone else to father her



Christi writes sensual, entertaining love stories of

unforgettable modern Western men and women. Readers say…Sensual: “Taken

a touchy subject and made it heartfelt and humorous, but she’s made it

H.O.T.!!” Humorous: “Cracked me up!” Love: “To be loved

like that!” Stories: “Character driven fiction.”




 Links to Take a Chance on Love:


Links to Perilous Promises:


Links to Clay’s Quest:


Link to “To the One I Never Forgot”:

To celebrate the upcoming release of 

Getting It Right


$50 Amazon gift certificate!




Oct 19

Another Box Set!

I have the honor of having DREAM STUDENT included in a fantastic box set with thirteen other great authors, all of whom have included one of their novels in a huge, FREE box set.

You can find it on Amazon RIGHT HERE!

Oct 18

Author Spotlight – “The Final Checkpoint” by Will Zeilinger





I’ve got another fantastic indie author for you to meet today: Will Zeilinger:

Bill Web_2012

I’ve been writing for over twelve years. During that time, I took novel writing classes and joined writer’s groups, but what has helps me most are published authors who mentor, encourage, critique  and listen to me while I continue to learn my craft.  I live in Southern California with my wife and we are currently working on a crime novel together. Finding time to write while life happens is a challenge.

Buy all his books at:


And follow Will at:

Twitter:  @Will_Zeilinger

Facebook:  www.facebook.com/wzeilinger

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/pub/william-zeilinger/15/48/9a7/

website: http://www.willzeilingerauthor.com

blog: http://www.booksbywilzeilinger.blogspot.com


and here’s the book…


Photographer Ben DeCastro drives in sports car rallies on weekends.  He discovers an abandoned rally car in the California desert with a headless corpse in the trunk.

As a volunteer firefighter, he joins in the search for the missing drivers.  His life veers off course when their fingerprints are found on his garage door.  The FBI looks at Ben as a suspect. This hurts his professional reputation, and cramps his dating efforts with the women in his building.  An assortment of friends and neighbors try to help him with his circumstances, but cause more problems in the process.  How does he get out of this mess?


Finally, Will’s given us a great excerpt:

“You are such a party pooper Ben DeCastro.” slurred out of her mouth as I sat her down in the passenger seat and buckled her belt. I was hoping the ride back with the top down would provide enough fresh cool air to clear her head. But as we headed down the hill toward the long stretch of road at Bolsa Chica State Beach she started singing the theme from “Green Acres” – an old TV show on the retro channel and waving her arms above her head in the slipstream.

Suddenly she leaned over and wrapped her arms around my neck, “I love you Ben.” followed by three more choruses of the theme song. Then she started to cry.

“Are you okay?” I asked as she wept on my shoulder.

“No.” she mumbled, “You didn’t say you love me too.” and started to cry on my shoulder again. I thought maybe I should drive a little further up PCH. Maybe she needed more air and because I couldn’t imagine myself getting her up to her apartment in this condition. I reached over to smooth her skirt back down because the wind had bunched it up on her thighs.

“Ben, Ben,” she shook her finger at me while at the same time parting her legs slightly. “Just what do you thing we are doing?” slid out of her now smiling mouth.

“I’m just trying to put your clothes back in place. What are you doing?”

“Who me?” she pointed at her chest, “I was just helping you.”

“Just sit still, Jessica.” I got her skirt back where it should have been so anyone in a vehicle taller than mine wouldn’t get a free show. “I think you have too many Mojitos in you.”

“You think so? I’ll fix that.” With that statement, she turned away from me and threw up over her side of the car. “Sorry Ben… but I don’t feel very well,” and did it again.

I know it sounds selfish but that put the lid on anything further with Jessica tonight and I could just imagine what the outside of my car looked like. I turned around when I got near the roundabout in Santa Serena and headed back to Seagull Beach. Jessica put her head back on the seat and closed her eyes for the rest of the ride back home.

She was fast asleep as I pulled up to the garage. Her side of my car looked and smelled like I’d imagined so I took her keys out of her purse. Luckily she was light for someone around five-foot six. I picked her up and carried her to the elevator. Her shoes were missing and probably still in my car. This woman sleeps like a log but while waiting for the elevator I looked at her face. It was very pretty – even with the little bit of drool on her cheek. The elevator chimed and the doors slid open. There was Molly. Her eyes grew wide as her mouth dropped open.

“Hi Molly.” I tried to act like everything was normal.

“Hello Ben?” She backed around us and stood by the open door staring while I turned sideways and slipped into the elevator with Jessica, who’d stopped singing, in my arms.

“She’s asleep – not feeling very well.”

Molly fanned her hand in front of her scrunched-up face, “Yeah, I can tell. Whew!”

As the doors closed, I said, “Well, I’ll see you around… G’night.” Jessica stirred in my arms a little and snuggled her face into my shoulder. I managed not to hit her head on the wall when I carried her down the hall to her door. Juggling her keys I opened her apartment door and took her inside.

I hadn’t been inside her apartment before since she talked to me at the door when we met. It was very neat and clean. Her bedroom door was open so I took her in and laid her on the bed. Her eyes were still closed when her arms came up around my neck and she moaned, “Oh Ben, don’t go.” I didn’t say a word as I carefully peeled her arms from my neck and quietly slipped out of her apartment, locking the door behind me. As I turned around Molly was standing right behind me in the hallway.

“Did you follow me up here?”

Oct 17

Reading in Public – “Winter’s Tale” (part 1, chapter 3 – “Pearly Soames”)

Onwards we go, and in this chapter we get an extended look at one of the villains of the book, Pearly Soames.  This is (to me, at least) a fun chapter with some very entertaining moments, and also quite a bit of what some less charitable reviewers might call “padding”.  Personally, I love it, but it is something to be noted.

We open with the author describing the one and only photograph in existence of Pearly Soames and how it came to be – in a police station, with five officers holding him in place for the picture.

Pearly Soames had not desired to be photographed.

He’s quite striking in appearance:

His eyes were like razors and white diamonds.  They were impossibly pale, lucid and silver.  People said, “When Pearl Soames opens his eyes, it’s electric lights.”

He’s also got a remarkable scar, running from his ear to the corner of his mouth:

It had been with him since the age of four, a gift from his father, who had tried and failed to cut his son’s throat.

This is all we hear on the topic, except for a reference to his illegitimacy later in the book, but it says a lot about Pearly.  Pearly is human, more or less, but this passage suggests something a little bit on the “more” side of the question.  What would make a father want to cut a four-year-old’s throat?  And, considering that he cut Pearly deeply enough to leave a lifetime scar, how and why did he fail in the task?  Was Pearly aided?  Was he, even at the age of four, strong enough to fight off a grown man?

However he escaped death, Pearly grew up to be a criminal, the leader of the most feared gang in pre-War New York.  Helprin briefly digresses into a discussion about criminals, and why they may actually be necessary to preserve the equilibrium of society.  Pearly cares nothing for that, although he’s well aware of what he is:

So was Pearly all of these things, knowing at every instant exactly what he was and that everything he did was wrong, possessed with an agonizing account of himself, his mind quick to grasp the meaning of his merciless acts.

This biographical sketch ends with a description I just have to quote:

He was a bomb-thrower, a lunatic, a master criminal, a devil, the golden dog of the streets.

And then we find out what really motivates him, and it’s something we’ve discussed already: color.  And, more specifically, gold.  Not to hoard it as a dragon might, but for an entirely other purpose:

Strange, afflicted and deformed, he sought a cure in the abstract relation of colors.

We get a couple of wonderful pages about Pearly’s “color gravity” (as he refers to it), ending with a brilliant  passage concerning an art theft.  Having sent his Short Tails out to steal several very valuable paintings from an important gallery, Pearly is shocked when he actually sees the art in person.  His men frantically show him, cross-referencing with auction catalogs, that they took the correct paintings (Pearly has quite the temper), and his response is:

“I don’t understand,’ he said, peering at his collection of great and famous names.  “They’re mud, black and brown.  No light in them, and hardly any color.  Who would paint a picture in black and brown?”

Disappointed, Pearly has his men return the stolen art the next night, and he sends along a note which makes the front page of the newspapers, and which ends thusly:

I may be a thief, but I know color when I see it in the flash of heaven or in the Devil’s opposing tricks, and I know mud.  Mr. Knoedler, you needen’t worry about your paintings anymore.  I’m not going to steal them.  I don’t like them.  Sincerely yours, P. Soames”

Pearly isn’t satisfied with pictures anyway.  What he really wants is to be surrounded by color, to breathe it in:

He wanted actually to live inside the dream that captured his eye, to spend his days and nights in a fume of burnished gold.

Just as the white horse wanted to cross over to that land of gold he saw past the iron gates in chapter one, Pearly wants to live in gold himself.  Neither of them understand why, they just know that they need it.  The difference, of course, is that while the horse merely wants to cross over to the golden world, Pearly wants to trap it in a room where – although he doesn’t say it explicitly – only he and his chosen associates can experience it.

But how do to it?  To obtain so much gold would be impossible.  Or would it?  Here we get another digression, on the topic of gold carriers, the fastest and most secure ships in the world, dedicated solely to ferrying gold, and impossible to rob (or even to catch a glimpse of).  It’s a great passage, and it’s the privilege of a novel to include digressions such as this, even though it slows down the flow of the story (and, remember, we’re still doling out backstory here, as we will in the next chapter, too).

Pearly orders the full 100 members of the Short Tails to convene, and while their meetings are usually conducted in unlikely and dangerous spots (the Statue of Liberty’s crown, the rafters of police headquarters, the piers of the Brooklyn Bridge, etc), this meeting will be in the most hazardous spot available: the Cemetery of the Honored Dead:

Pearly had decided that a dead Short Tail deserved to be interred as close to hell as possible, and that the burial should entail as much risk to life and limb as could be imagined (the ultimate honor to the fallen).  Thus, all Short Tails killed in service were transported to crypts at the bottom of the Harlem River siphon.

The crypts are in a small chamber, several hundred feet below ground, past a quarter mile of narrow tunnel, and constantly in danger of being flooded with water from the reservoirs that supply Manhattan’s water.  As one might imagine, the trip into the crypts is both slow and terrifying; it takes three hours for all the Short Tails to assemble for the meeting.  Once there, though, Pearly quickly manages to dispel the gloom by describing his goal of a golden room in which the light will be trapped eternally; and the way in which they will steal the gold to build it.

The Short Tails, including Peter Lake – this is the first time we learn that he was once a member of the gang – are on board with the plan, until Pearly gets to the last step: which involves using the Bayonne Marsh as a drydock to bring the stolen gold carrier so that the gold can be extracted.  It will be necessary, Pearly explains, to wipe out the Baymen who currently live there.

“We’ll go over there in canoes when the men are at work, kill the women and children, and wait in the huts.  When the men come back, we’ll catch them unprepared, and shoot them from behind cover.  There’s no sense in an open battle.”

As strategies go, Pearly’s plan, ruthless as it is, makes a lot of sense.  It probably would have worked, except for one thing that Pearly didn’t know: Peter Lake had been raised by the Baymen, and could not allow them to be slaughtered:

Peter Lake had become forever alienated from the Short Tails, and would have to betray them.  He, and only he, knew that Pearly would never have his golden chamber.

And that’s where we end things.  In the next chapter, we’ll finally learn more about Peter Lake and his life.


Oct 17

Book Blast – “Night Crawler” by Candy O’Donnell

Title: Night Crawler 


Author: Candy O’Donnell
Release Day: September 28th, 2014
Book Blast: October 17th, 2014
The past never stays where it belongs!
In Westwood, California, was where John Francis, the town’s priest
re-encountered the beast. To his astonishment, horrifying events began
unraveling before him. These unprovoked occurrences soon turned to fright when
Sister Teresa’s body was found murdered. When Kathy Riego stepped into the
Sister’s shoes she showed him a renewed identification for the word love. John
began this new relationship with a masked reality as the horrid beast began
showing him a long forgotten past that was supposed to be buried long ago.


Author Bio:
 Candy O’Donnell was born in
Carmichael, California. At the age of twelve, she wrote her first mini book.
Filled mostly with what took place with her mother and her long tedious bout
with leukemia. It was a short story told as extra credit when she suffered a
sprained ankle and had to be out of school for over two months. School
officials refused to believe a word of what she had written until her
grandmother, her guardian back then, entered the school with the truth.
Everything she had written down was exactly what took place. Unfortunately her
mother succumbed to the disease. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in History and
Culture. After living with her aunt and uncle for over five years she wished to
explore her uncle’s Native heritage and did so with vigor. She also has 6 Grad
units in Criminal Justice.
Twitter: @Candyodonnell


Oct 16

Book Tour – “The Shucker’s Booktique” by J.C. McKenzie

I’m happy to be participating in the book tour for J.c. McKenzie and her new novel, “The Shucker’s Booktique”. Here’s J.C.:

View More: http://photos.pass.us/headshot2

Born and raised on the Haida Gwaii, off the West Coast of Canada, J.C. McKenzie grew up in a pristine wilderness that inspired her to dream. She writes Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance.

You can follow her all over the Interwebs:

J.C. McKenzie’s Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | The Wild Rose Press | Amazon

And here’s her book…


After her fiancé dumps her and her beloved Aunt Jenny goes missing, Willa Eklund travels to Lobster Cove with a broken heart to search for Jenny while running her bookstore. When a mysterious man visits the Shucker’s Booktique on a stormy night drenched in rain and covered in mud, Willa’s heart melts under his stormy gaze. She wants Lon and the answers he may have, but he also has a secret. Can Willa trust him?

Lon Devlin is a Tempest, a water sprite who can only take a human form during stormy nights. He rides the waves, lives by the tides, and nothing can hold him down, not even a beautiful woman. When he visits his mortal friend, he discovers she’s missing and her intriguing niece has taken her place. He wants Willa, but he also wants answers. What happened to Jenny?


J.C. has an excerpt for us…

Thump! Thump! Thump!

No! She gasped. It couldn’t be. The banging on the front door of the booktique had to be a figment of her imagination. She couldn’t will Lon into existence. Why would he come back? Especially if he was involved. Unless…cold ice prickled up her spine…unless he needed to eliminate her to take care of loose ends.

No. Crazy thoughts, Willa. He could’ve taken care of her the night before. No, her heart hammered against her chest for a different reason. But it didn’t matter. The knocking on the door wouldn’t, couldn’t be him.

Thump! Thump! Thump!

Could it? She clutched her hot mug in both hands and turned toward the doorway leading to the bookstore. From the kitchen in the back room, she had a clear view through the store to the front door, but not who stood on the other side.

“Willa!” Lon growled. “Wake up and let me in!”

Willa gasped and almost dropped her cup. The tea sloshed around and some spilled over her hands. It burned, but she didn’t move. She couldn’t breathe. Somehow the air got trapped inside her throat. Why was he here? What did he want?

Oh God, let it be me!

And here’s a great interview with her…

Who is your favorite author?

That’s a tricky one! Of all time?!? I’d have to say Roger Zelazny because he opened my eyes to the possibility of the supernatural living amongst the mundane.

How do you describe your writing style? 

Snarky with a side of humour

Use no more than two sentences. Why should we read your book?

When Saturn next aligns with Mercury, the universe will create a vortex of evil, and all those ignorant of my work will be sucked into a giant black hole of untold horror.

Have any of your characters been modeled after yourself?

Absolutely none of them!

If you could exchange lives with any of your characters for a day which character would you choose and why? 

I would choose Lon, from The Shucker’s Booktique. He’s a Tempest, a water sprite that rides the tides. I love the ocean, and I love the idea of dissolving into an incorporeal form to be one with the currents.

What books have most influenced your life? 

Oh my. You’re really not pulling any punches. The most?!? There’s so many that I love. I almost cried when I had to do a top ten book list. Okay, maybe a tear escaped. I’m going to list the books that have influenced my writing and what I consider my favorite books. I haven’t let any piece of literature, aside from university textbooks, influence my life in a grand capacity.

  • The Amber Series, by Roger Zelazny
  • The Chronicles of Faerie, by O.R. Melling
  • The Chronicles of the Cheysuli, by Jennifer Roberson
  • Mermaid’s Song, by Alida van Gores
  • The Hollows Series, by Kim Harrison
  • The Mercy Thompson Series, by Patricia Briggs
  • The Wheel of Time Series, by Robert Jordan
  • The Witches, by Roald Dahl
  • Tiger Eyes, by Judy Blume
  • Child of Awe, by Kathryn Lynn Davis

If you could select one book that you could rewrite and add your own unique twist on, which book would that be and why? 

I don’t think I would. I love books as they are.

Beatles or Monkees? Why? 

Beatles. No deep philosophical reason. I just like their music more.

Who should play you in a film of your life?

Jennifer Gardner. She’s down to earth and seems like someone who likes to laugh.

And, last but not least, there’s a giveaway, too!

a Rafflecopter giveaway






Oct 15

Dream Sequence

This is a newsworthy month for my books.  Not only is the new book, DREAM VACATION, launching at the end of the month, but I’ve got a brand new launch today!

I’ve created a mini-box-set of the first three books.  It’s called DREAM SEQUENCE, and it’s available on Amazon RIGHT NOW!


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