Here, There and Everywhere

Always the Season

264_400_csupload_67034708Seasons of love and War by Brenda Ashworth Barry
Reviewed by Gabriel Constans

This is a book to read in any season. Intimate, insightful, and identifiable. Seasons of love and War took me on an unexpected ride through American history, small town pride, and personal reflection.

In 1972, I was 18 years old, a conscientious objector, and adamant protestor against he war in Vietnam. At the time, I could not differentiate between the failed policies of the U.S. government, and those who were drafted to go fight in this disastrous conflict. Since then, I have come to know the difference.

I had friends at the time who went into the service, and I wrote a biography about a colleague who was there (Walking Into the Fire). I know how it effected thousands of lives, and the suffering that ensued. The impact it had on relationships however, never really hit me until reading this story.

The author conveys a deep understanding of two young people deeply in love (Beth Ann Rose and Kaylob Shawn O’Brien), the integral belief they have in honor and commitment, and the consequences there decisions have on one another and there friends and family. The time and place feel real and authentic.

It’s always a good sign when I find myself crying while reading about someone’s life, whether imaginary or real. This book touched me in unexpected ways. The support Beth Ann has from her friends (Frankie, Carol, Danny, Lisa) and the understanding she receives from her family, are precious. Many individuals do not have the kind of care and comfort she receives, or the faith that there loved ones will always come through.

Whether it is a time of peace or war in your family, nation or relationship, it is always a good time to pick up Seasons of love and War, and treat yourself to a moving, well told family saga that leaves you no choice but to read the entire series.

 

 

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Killing at the White Swan Inn by Carole Hall.
Melange Books, 2017
Reviewed by Gabriel Constans

whiteswannIf Nora Roberts, Agatha Christie, and Salman Rushdie wrote as a ménage à trois, Killing at the Swan Inn could be the story they birthed. Ms. Hall has written a tale that combines a cozy murder-mystery, with contemporary romance, and cultural differences, which converge in the Berkshires at Margot’s newly acquired inn (The White Swan). 

The characters who inhabit the inn, and who visit, are introduced in quick succession, with readers understanding, and cheerleading, for each to find release from an abusive relationship (Veronica Hewitt), forgiveness and redemption (Charles Allan Whittaker), safety from a vengeful family (Soraya and Omar Sulaman-Mamoud), and love (Isobel, Manager John, Charles, and Detective Adrian Reynolds).

Those who work at the inn, and mourn the loss of long-time owner, Isobel’s mother Claire, run the inn like a family, and try to make the well-known, and famous men and women that visit, a sense of it being their home as well. This sense of caring for one another is evident and visceral throughout, and one of the strongest characteristics of the story. Humanity at its best.

Killing at the White Swan is an enjoyable, and brief visit, with people you’d want to meet in person, let alone spend a weekend at the inn.

Treasure Hunt: Follow Your Inner Clues To Find True Success, by Rizwan Virk.
Reviewed by Gabriel Constans.

41aN4rbSPvL._SX313_BO1,204,203,200_“Interesting. Provocative. Well seasoned.” This sequence of words passed through my consciousness before reading Treasure Hunt: Follow Your Inner Clues To Find True Success, by Rizwan Virk, and were present again, upon completion. It was then that I recalled the words were from an old food commercial (for what I don’t recall) that I often heard growing up, and they encapsulate many of the concepts, experiences, examples, and sumptuous courses provided within.

Treasure Hunt is “interesting”, and pertinent, to anyone who wishes to makes sense of the “clues” that come to us daily (awake and asleep). Mr. Virk says there is a Treasure Map of information at our fingertips, if we pay attention to the clues. Clues can be recognized as synchronicity, hunches, gut feelings, visions, deja vu, bodily sensations, and dreams. Clues are subjective and each person’s Treasure Map is unique. It is “provocatively” laid out in five sections, with digestible explanations, examples and reasoning (or intuitions). The accessibility of the content, to people searching for there own definition of success and from all walks of life, is “well seasoned” with a personal touch, and warmth, even though it is often explaining esoteric or scientifically complicated concepts.

There are 20 “Treasure Hunting Rules” that are explained throughout. They include – If it repeats it’s probably a clue – One clue leads to the next – Pay attention when you have a big dream – Honor your clues with a concrete action – Ask for a solution in your own way. One of the most delightful aspects of Treasure Hunt is how it combines emotional, religious, and metaphysical views, with those of science and quantum physics. The explanations of how to translate personal experience into the language of business, is most insightful.

The author defines syncronisity as, “the confluence of an inner thought(and/or feeling) and an outer event.” There are strong “Clues” that Treasure Hunt: Follow Your Inner Clues To Find True Success is much more relevant, “interesting, provocative, and well-seasoned”, than the commercial diddy that went through my head before and after the reading of Mr. Virk’s enlightening book.

You Can Do Better

15085511-571384093053277-7761181997008017758-nSo, this was interesting. After a few years writing the screenplay for my story “Sorrow’s Embrace“, it was finally optioned by Breezeway Productions, and is now in development with Breezeway and Buffalo 8 Productions. I thought this was the beginning of the end for this screenwriting journey and it would soon be in distribution. Thankfully, my head got pulled out of the clouds before I floated away.

Just as directors, actors, actresses, producers, and others are lining up to get involved, the casting director, Nicole, tells me the script needs some work, and isn’t good enough to send out to “named talent”. At first, I thought, “Okay. Let me know what needs to be fixed and I’ll get it back to you in a day or two.” What needed “fixing” turned out to be much more extensive and time-consuming.

After grumbling to myself about all the work it would take, I started the rewrite using her suggestions, comments, and insight. Two weeks later, I am proud to say that this is now a story that will not only attract “name talent”, but be well worth watching, when it is released. Though I was reluctant at first, and skeptical, I am happy to admit that she was right on all accounts.

Now, it is on to rewrite my other screenplays (Buddha’s Wife, and The Last Conception), which are based on my books of the same names. I thought they were good already, now I can see how to make them much much better.

No Place Like Home

labygccoverSome people like to do it in bed. Others in a car, on a plane, or a train. A few prefer using other people’s houses, and caffeine addicts like doing it at coffee shops. What? No, I’m not talking about sex or eating. It’s all about writing. Well, usually.

You can see people going to retweets, or renting out cottages far away from there abode, or hanging out at Starbucks, furiously typing, looking off into space, or talking to themselves. You know these people. You may BE one of these people. For me, there’s nothing like creating at home.

Writing at home gives me a sense of security and safety, so that I can write about horrendous, dangerous, wild scenes, and acts, that I may never have done, or want to do, personally, yet the story, and/or characters, call for them to come forth and be manifested on the page (or screen).

I can take a break at home, without running into others, or being distracted from my train of thought or ideas. Grabbing something to eat is as easy as walking into the kitchen. Taking a nap, or reading someone else’s story, is as simple as laying down, or picking up a book. And, there are no lines, or waiting, for the bathroom.

There are a variety of places to write at home, including my desk, chairs, couches, in the garden, or in bed. It is also cheaper to do one’s writing where you live, as there are no expenses, or time, for transportation, workshop fees, or cabin rental.

Now that I think of it, it can be enjoyable to have sex at a restaurant, in a writer’s cabin, in a car, on a plane, or a train, but I think I prefer that most at home too, just like writing. If I plan it just right, I could write and have sex in bed at the same time. Ah, there’s no place like home.

Loving Annalise was conceived and written entirely at home,

Pleasure or Pain?

LastConception-CoverDoes writing give you pleasure, or is it a pain? Are you struggling through every line, wishing it would end, or enjoying the process word by word? Do you write out of necessity, or as a hobby, or pleasant pastime? Writers’ have argued through the centuries about whether writing should be, or is, a process of hard labor, or whether it is a joyous exercise in reflecting oneself and the world in which we live.

Some writers’ say they cannot live without writing something every day. Others tells us they write in spurts, when moved to do so, or have long periods of inactivity and/or creative ideas. And a few cannot stop writing once they get started and write manically, without pause or respite.

I’ve been told that writing involves a high degree of masochistic tendencies if you are not writing solely for pleasure, but to have what you’ve written read and accepted by others. There is a lot of truth in this, as so few writers ever receive any recognition, let alone financial rewards, for there many hours of plotting, research, editing, characterization, and marketing.

From my experience, writing can be both pleasurable and painful, whether it is for personal or public consumption. Scribbling, or typing, refried storylines again and again, is easy, but artistically boring. Writing something that has never been put together in quite the same way, can take hours of painstaking thought, and pleasurable results. Then again, the results may be painful to see, and not as joyous as the process.

So, this may sound weird, but unless it is a wee bit difficult, or challenging, I do not enjoy writing. That doesn’t mean I prefer an extremely intimidating project, but one that calls me out to do my best, improve my skills, and look at an issue, or story, with fresh eyes. Writing something I’ve written a thousand times before, though perhaps monetarily rewarding, is more painful than a new challenge.

What’s your hit? What’s it like for you? Do you cringe at the thought of a deadline, having to think of an idea, or putting an idea on paper? Or, do you get excited each time the words in your head come out on the screen as you envisioned? Pleasure and pain are somewhat subjective, but are also very real. I guess the real question is whether pleasure or pain is the driving force behind your writing, or any aspect of why you write at all.

Zen Master Tova Tarantino Toshiba, The Last Conception, and Loving Annalise, are some of Gabriel’s most recent works of fiction. They were pleasurably painful to write.

Fictional Realities

41jh2yi72qlThere is a friend of mine, who worked with me as a nurse at hospice a few years back. One day, after work, I met her husband. When I asked her the next day how they’d met, she told me she’d been married to his brother. Well, I thought, that’s interesting. Tell me more. What arose from her telling was a story that sounded like a movie. She isn’t the kind of person who jokes around, so I knew she was telling the truth, though it could have been the best of fiction. That’s when I decided to make it just that – a fictional story based on real life. Loving Annalise was the result.

After years of poverty, heartbreak, loss and betrayal, Tomas enters Annalise’s world and shatters the iron casing she’s erected around her heart. Tomas is kind, intelligent, romantic and handsome, but he’s also her husband’s brother! Once Tomas and Annalise meet, they are forever intertwined and repeatedly ripped apart by fate, self-doubt and blackmail. Her husband, Jens, is a brilliant, jealous and manipulative scoundrel who keeps her psychologically under lock and key, until her passion for Tomas sets her free.

Writing Loving Annalise is the second time I’ve written a novel based on historical realities. Buddha’s Wife was the first. Though most of the people in the story existed, and some of the places, times, and words are reported to have been accurate, the majority of the conversations, interactions, and story-line were imagined. Like Loving Annalise, Buddha’s Wife is based on history, and people that were living breathing beings.

Loving Annalise, and Buddha’s Wife, are the only time I have written stories in this fashion. Normally (whatever that is), I either write straight fiction, or non-fiction, about a specific person, place, or issue, and do not attempt to combine these disparate genres. That doesn’t mean that parts of my life, and personal experiences, do not influence or become part of my writing, but not intentionally (that I am aware of).

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