Sunday, April 23, 2017

Jennly Reads Writes Hallow Mass Review


Jennly Reads
A solid assessment of my Lovecraftian story on this fine Sunday morning. The reviewer found the book less a horror tale and "more a dark satirical comedy with a bit of the occult thrown in." Learn more over at Jennly Reads. I'm going now to microwave some bacon.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Book Reviews Anonymous Discovers Hallow Mass

Book Reviews Anonymous

Many thanks to Loretta Lynn for her fine take on my horror novel. She noted that my Lovecraftian story device—the book of dark unholy magic, the Necronomiconhas been mal employed by other writers.

 " . . . Imagine my delight and surprise, then, in Hallow Mass, to find that the book's used as intended. And what a narrative built around it."

Protagonist Mercy O'Connor dodges a number of female tropes to "stand out" as "her own personality,"

Read more over at Book Reviews Anonymous.


Sunday, April 16, 2017

Happy Easter!


Buildingontheword.org

A Sunday of religious services, family, and canned ham (surrounded in gelatin that we smother in whipped cream for dessert.) The movie this evening will be Hidden Figuresor an old mystery my wife digs out from her vast collection of old mysteries. A suitable genre on this day.  

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Book Review: Your Money or Your Faith in Islamic Spain

The Myth of the Andalusian Paradise: Muslims, Christians, and Jews under Islamic Rule in Medieval SpainThe Myth of the Andalusian Paradise: Muslims, Christians, and Jews under Islamic Rule in Medieval Spain by Darío Fernández-Morera
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Muslims once conquered most of Spain. What was life like for non-Muslims under their control? Christian and Jewish status in the period 711 to 1492 A.D. is the subject of this book. Contemporary accounts often allude to these centuries as a Golden Era of art, science and inter-faith tolerance, presided over by enlightened Muslims.

Professor Fernández-Morera offers an opposing view.

Using various accounts from Muslim, Christian and Jewish sources, we are presented with a Spain twisted by religious tension and marked by periodic uprisings, mass exportation of Christians to North Africa, and subordinate dhimmi status for Jews and Christians living under Muslim rule, forced to pay a tax for “protection.”

Some Jews, at certain times, did hold responsible positions, but their advancement relied less on tolerance and more on an individual Caliph’s distrust of fellow Muslims and the ulama—the religious council that enforced the Maliki version of Sharia law governing Spain at that time.

Given each faith’s exclusionary practices, the subsequent invasion of Spain by even more religiously strict North Africans, and the unrelenting pressure of the Christian reconquest, there seemed little inclination for interfaith dialogue. In Fernández-Morera's work, peace only descended after one faith or the other had been subsumed by the victors.

While readable, the book carries almost a hundred pages of endnotes and bibliography, basically a third of the overall text. I’m glad the author did his homework, but this imbalance left one feeling the main body might be a bit thin.


View all my reviews

Monday, April 10, 2017

High Like a Rock Star on Social Media


theodysseyonline.com

"Constant novelty at a click can cause addiction."

(Unease over what to write next. Wanted to go out to the kitchen for a cinnamon roll, but didn't.)

I just saw a video explaining why I spend so much time hopscotching around social media. That's because Twitter, Reddit, etc. are designed that way. Say I'm sitting at the computer and experience a negative emotion such as anxiety. A neurochemical called dopamine is released in anticipation of surfing for a reward, such as a funny video or interesting post. The notion of finding something cool on social media will lead me to click-scroll-swipe away, often to the exclusion of doing something productive such as write-exercise-interact in person with other human beings.

Internet addiction isn't new, but this made sense to me as I recalled my cigarette smoking years. The anticipation of lighting up released the dopamine. I feel the same way when logging on. And I escape into social media whenever I've hit another writing roadblock just as I used to fire up a smoke.

On the video, the addiction portion begins around 2:15. As a side note, I watched this on Saturday afternoon. Then I turned off my computer and left it dark through Sunday. I was very uneasy all that day. But I did finish reading a book and scribbled out notes for a review. I also thought of an idea for a short story, cycled, and watched TV with my wife.

Today, I logged back in, more aware of how I feel when I experience the urge to bolt from a vexing task and surf around. Fascinating.



h/t: What I've Learned

UPDATE:

Here's a darker, more global view of where dopamine addiction can lead:


h/t: Summer Rayne Oakes

Sunday, April 02, 2017

Pruning the Sidebar and My Lying Head


MVDIT Tech Blog
Yes, I know, blogging is sooo last decade. But on I trudge. Of course, I've neglected to trim the sidebar verge. So many promising blogs abandoned, without even a "Bank Sale" sign out front. But now tidiness reigns.

More writing today about the sidebar than I've done the last week on the book. Family crisis, problems with another neighbor—not that one—household projects, and a general lack of pep.

I blame my wife.

If she hadn't gotten a decent paying job last year that eased our financial pressures, I'd be cranking out copy like it was 2015 when I wrote 50 Shades of Zane Grey and Hallow Mass back-to-back while recovering from cancer surgery.

Already, the allure of a new project croons to me in quiet moments:

"It'll be easy to write. Hardly any research. The metaphors will blossom like desert flowers. You'll be finished in no time. This new book will be a big hit." 

Oh, devious, sinister cranium.