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Carmilla: A Good Old-Fashioned Monster

downloadI just finished my next audiobook adventure: Carmilla, the classic by Joseph Le Fanu, about a mysterious female vampire who preys on the young daughter of an Austrian nobleman. Given that this follows on the heels on Frankenstein, I’m thinking you can probably sense a theme here: monsters of yore. I am a fan of the Gothic horror genre. Forget the blood, gore and guts of modern horror tales, I’ll take an intelligent tale of things that go bump in the night, moral heroes and most importantly, monstrous monsters.

Yes, I said monstrous monsters. As of lately, monsters have gotten … conflicted. They have ‘reasons’ for doing what they do. They justify their actions. They lack the original mystery that made us scared of them. We’ve become so familiar with these monsters that we’ve had to add blood and gore to their stories to find any kind of fright in them. And in that familiarity, we’ve humanized them.

What do I mean? Dracula, in Dracula Untold, was forced to become a monster by an enemy who was more monstrous than him (again, using Ms. Shelley’s argument that man is the real monster). Damien, in the short-lived series reboot of the original story of the anti-Christ’s early years, was described as a millennial in therapy, conflicted about whether he should take over the world or not. The vampires in Stephanie Meyer’s books sparkle and marry and have children – a inside joke that made it into Hotel Transylvania, which went further to humanize and endear the monsters more than any other film I can think of (I actually liked the series).

I think this is what irked me most this time. I did what I usually do when I complete a book I know has a film adaptation and I googled Carmilla. I found sequels and reimaginings that focused on the lesbian love part (if only to titillate their audience, no different than Mr. Le Fanu), but dismissed the part where she was undead and preying on young women. And I know that authors and writers can create their own worlds and visions for stories, but there are some rules that don’t really change. Undead is undead. No matter how ‘romantic’ the notion, vampires can’t have kids, they can’t feel emotions, and no, they don’t sparkle in the sunlight – they burn. Plus, drinking blood is gross and unhygienic, not sexy.

And while we’re on it, silver kills werewolves, not vampires.

So yeah, I’m a bit of a purist when it comes to this. Give me a good old-fashioned monster any day. Their backstories might be tragic, and their tales meant to shed light on the unexplained, but in the end, they are evil and worthy only of vanquishing. When lines like that are drawn, life goes back to being simple. Black is black and white is white; and we find our purpose in the evil we battle.

Weekend Writing Warriors: Lost in the Moment

Welcome to Weekend Writing Warriors, where participants share excerpts of their books or works-in-progress. It’s a fun way to sample new books and find new authors! Be sure to check out their website. Today’s selection comes from my book, The Best Love (the full synopsis is below). Continuing where we left off last week, Alex may have have been the one to initiate their affair, but it’s Julieta who takes it to the next level, turning an innocent kiss into a make-out session that leaves her wanting more–and getting more than she is prepared for…


Snippet:

Emboldened by it, Julieta sat up and kissed him on the lips. Alex seemed to hesitate at first, but as she deepened the kiss, he responded. Julieta opened her mouth for him and found his tongue waiting.

She laid back onto the bed, pulling him with her. Body to body, skin to skin, she ran her hands up and down his arms, tracing the tattoo closest to her. She relished the feel of his skin beneath her fingertips and listened to the rhythm of his heart, now beating in concert with hers.

Lost in the moment, Julieta was barely able to process the next words she heard:

“What the hell?”

Manny!


Synopsis:

Front Cover“Ever since the accident…”

Julieta cringes every time she hears those words. Everything lately is a result of ‘the accident’, and she is so over it: after almost losing her life, Julieta’s had to make adjustments to deal with some of the challenges she now faces – physical therapy to regain use of her leg, lost school time and lower self-esteem, among them.

However, none of those changes compare to the ones in the people around her: her brother Manny is pushing her like he’s never done before; her sister-in-law Sonia is nesting and treating her like a daughter; and Manny’s friend Alex is now offering her the attention she’s been craving from him for years. So maybe good things do come out of bad situations…

Except that when Julieta finds out why Alex has been so attentive, her world comes crashing down. With her already-fractured family now at odds with each other, she is ready to give up on the notions of fate and love and happily-ever-after’s, when another accident shows them that sometimes the best love is one that begins accidentally.


The book is available at AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooks and Kobo.

#TheBestLove #RuthEGriffin #AwardWinningAuthor #Love #LoveStory #Romance #WomensExperiences #WomensStories #InterracialLove #WeekendWritingWarriors #8Sunday

Frankenstein: My Observations

Image result for frankensteinI recently discovered the joy of audio books. While they are convenient and perfect for my daily three-hour commute, they are also a great way to get through books that I started, but didn’t finish, but wanted to finish (yeah, I’m one of those people).

I am currently working my way through Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. It’s been years since I started reading it (okay, more like decades, but who’s counting?) and I’ve noticed some things since I last picked up the book:

First of all, Mary Shelley is VERY wordy. Oh my goodness. The woman had an amazing command of the English language and took great measures to make sure you understood what she was talking about, down to the minutest detail. I had to look up some of the words she used, as I was unfamiliar with them. Which wasn’t a bad thing as it has expanded my vocabulary. Sometimes less is better though.

Secondly, she tended to go off on rabbit trails, talking about places and people (again, in great detail) that had no bearing on the story. When the monster told his story to his creator, Victor Frankenstein, he went into a lengthy, LENGTHY discourse about the backgrounds of the family that he was staying near. At one point, he said, ‘this will prove that what I’m saying is true.’ It really didn’t, but I went with it. And so he continued his story, or rather their stories, for the rest of the day (and he got started early). I’m sure Victor was thinking, ‘OMG, just get to the point.’ I know I was.

Some of Ms. Shelley’s tale required you to suspend your belief. Especially with the monster, who sprang into being and then within two years, had an expansive understanding of the language (written and spoken), philosophy, government, religion and people. The last one is not too hard (they were the true monsters, after all); still, within the span of his education, he was reading Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s Sorrows of Werter, a volume of Plutarch’s Lives, and John Milton’s Paradise Lost. I still haven’t read those books.

All that aside, the most challenging thing about reading Frankenstein this time around is seeing an eighteenth century experiment through twenty-first century eyes. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t detract from the story, because I started questioning it. If it took months for Victor to create the monster and its mate, how did the parts not rot? Wasn’t the lightning which brought the monster to life (alluded to, though not specifically mentioned as the tool of reanimation) just a crude defibrillator? Would not a being created from human body parts be human? Was it truly another race, which it was constantly called? Would it require re-introduction and re-education if it had the a human brain to start with? Or would death have wiped away all of that?

Those questions may be valid, but they are also moot, because Mary Shelley‘s Frankenstein was never about the monster. It was about the ethics of Frankenstein’s experiment and his responsibility to the being he created. It was about the beauty of life and the need for companionship and love. And lastly, it was about innocence lost and made bloodthirsty in the mistreatment at the hands of our fellow man.

I’ve been told I ask too many questions sometimes; that I delve too much into a story, instead of enjoying it. And truth be told, if I wasn’t enjoying Frankenstein, I wouldn’t be reading it again. I love the genre, I love the story. It’s just interesting to me how age and time have changed my perception and understanding of it. Maybe that’s what Ms. Shelley truly had in mind when she wrote the book — to get her audience thinking. Shouldn’t that be the goal of any good author?

Weekend Writing Warriors: Proud of Her Thievery

Welcome to Weekend Writing Warriors, where participants share excerpts of their books or works-in-progress. It’s a fun way to sample new books and find new authors! Be sure to check out their website. Today’s selection comes from my book, The Best Love (the full synopsis is below). After spending the day with Alex, running errands she’d rather not run and fantasizing about things she’ll never have, Julieta steals something that will remind her of him.


Snippet:

“Your company made the excursion bearable,” she ventured, finding enough courage in her to flirt, even if it was innocently.

“Just bearable?”

“Just,” she said, then without giving herself enough time to reconsider her actions, she leaned onto her cane, rose onto her toes and kissed him on the cheek. If ever there was a time a kiss could be justified, this was it and she was going to take advantage of it. His face was clean-shaven, and he smelled so wonderful, she almost lost her footing. But she did not; and as quickly as she kissed him, she withdrew and dropped back down to her feet, proud of her thievery.

Julieta didn’t look up immediately, but when she did make eye contact, she saw Alex lean down and kiss her. Not on the cheek, like she did him, but on her mouth, with lips so warm and supple, Julieta forgot how to react.


Synopsis:

Front Cover“Ever since the accident…”

Julieta cringes every time she hears those words. Everything lately is a result of ‘the accident’, and she is so over it: after almost losing her life, Julieta’s had to make adjustments to deal with some of the challenges she now faces – physical therapy to regain use of her leg, lost school time and lower self-esteem, among them.

However, none of those changes compare to the ones in the people around her: her brother Manny is pushing her like he’s never done before; her sister-in-law Sonia is nesting and treating her like a daughter; and Manny’s friend Alex is now offering her the attention she’s been craving from him for years. So maybe good things do come out of bad situations…

Except that when Julieta finds out why Alex has been so attentive, her world comes crashing down. With her already-fractured family now at odds with each other, she is ready to give up on the notions of fate and love and happily-ever-after’s, when another accident shows them that sometimes the best love is one that begins accidentally.


The book is available at AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooks and Kobo.

#TheBestLove #RuthEGriffin #AwardWinningAuthor #Love #LoveStory #Romance #WomensExperiences #WomensStories #InterracialLove #WeekendWritingWarriors #8Sunday

Weekend Writing Warriors: Wishful Thinking

Welcome to Weekend Writing Warriors, where participants share excerpts of their books or works-in-progress. It’s a fun way to sample new books and find new authors! Be sure to check out their website. Today’s selection comes from my book, The Best Love (the full synopsis is below). Julieta has had a crush on Alex, her brother’s friend, for a long time; and now that she’s home recuperating after a bad accident, she finds herself with nothing but time to day-dream about what could be…


Snippet:

Julieta was too young to do anything about her crush then, but she had recently celebrated her twenty-second birthday, making her old enough to date him and fulfill his every desire, should he ever ask.

But it was all wishful thinking on her part: Alex had never shown interest in her and even if he did, her over-protective brother would never allow it. Manny had spent her teenaged years warning her about men who were nothing but trouble to good girls like her. Men, like Alex, who had spent time in prison and wanted only one thing from women: sex. Now that she was older and aware of her own sexuality, the thought was actually quite appealing. And to be frank, his past didn’t bother her at all—everyone deserved second chances. But she also knew she would never convince either of them that a relationship was worth pursuing.

Still, it didn’t stop her from fantasizing.


Synopsis:

Front Cover“Ever since the accident…”

Julieta cringes every time she hears those words. Everything lately is a result of ‘the accident’, and she is so over it: after almost losing her life, Julieta’s had to make adjustments to deal with some of the challenges she now faces – physical therapy to regain use of her leg, lost school time and lower self-esteem, among them.

However, none of those changes compare to the ones in the people around her: her brother Manny is pushing her like he’s never done before; her sister-in-law Sonia is nesting and treating her like a daughter; and Manny’s friend Alex is now offering her the attention she’s been craving from him for years. So maybe good things do come out of bad situations…

Except that when Julieta finds out why Alex has been so attentive, her world comes crashing down. With her already-fractured family now at odds with each other, she is ready to give up on the notions of fate and love and happily-ever-after’s, when another accident shows them that sometimes the best love is one that begins accidentally.


The book is available at AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooks and Kobo.

#TheBestLove #RuthEGriffin #AwardWinningAuthor #Love #LoveStory #Romance #WomensExperiences #WomensStories #InterracialLove #WeekendWritingWarriors #8Sunday

Weekend Writing Warriors: Kiss Me?

Welcome to Weekend Writing Warriors, where participants share excerpts of their books or works-in-progress. It’s a fun way to sample new books and find new authors! Be sure to check out their website. Today’s selection comes from my new release, The Book of Joy (the full synopsis is below). It is the last post I’ll make from this book and as such, I’m leaving you in a happy place, since I love happy endings. Last time we saw Shannon and Joya, she had rejected him. He chose to focus on work and his recent promotion to partner, unaware that the matchmakers had gotten involved once again. So he’s quite surprised when Joya crashes an office party. He’s happy to see her, but eager to know why she’s there.


Snippet:

Shannon let out a chuckle, but even as sly as she was acting, he wasn’t going to let the subject go.

“Really, what are you doing here?” he asked again.

Joya’s amusement turned to guilt. She dropped her arms, cleared her throat and said, “I need something from you…but I’m not sure how to ask.”

Shannon’s heart sank a little. This wasn’t what he wanted to hear. But because his heart still yearned for her, and there was nothing he wouldn’t give her, he composed himself on the inside, and with a steady tone, said, “Name it.”

In a small and hesitant voice, she said, “Kiss me?”


Synopsis:

Shannon wants for nothing except the love of a good woman. However, he is so focused on his career and caring for his elderly mother Evelyn, he doesn’t realize he’s missing anything. Until he meets Joya, the widowed daughter-in-law of a family friend. She is a loving, generous woman who brings a much-needed spark into his life; but because she is younger than him and still dealing with the loss of her husband, he is hesitant to approach her.

Joya, for her part, maintains a good attitude about her situation and is appreciative of the people around her—especially Shannon, whose friendship fills the gaps in her life that would otherwise remain empty. But after burying her husband, she isn’t sure she has it in her to fall in love again.

This, of course, will not do for Evelyn, who sees the potential for love (and grandchildren) in them. Nor for Gail, the family friend, who has her own reasons for wanting to match the two. They go to great lengths to bring Shannon and Joya together. But as the four contend with the directions their lives are moving, they soon discover that sometimes life is more about letting yourself be loved than it is about falling into it.


The book is now available at AmazonBarnes & NobleKobo and iTunes.

#TheBookofJoy #RuthEGriffin #AwardWinningAuthor #Love #LoveStory #Romance #WomensExperiences #WomensStories #InterracialLove #WeekendWritingWarriors #8Sunday