Monday, March 28, 2011

DID YOU WIN? IF SO, E-MAIL ME!

The following people have won items on my blog.  Please see if your name is on the list and contact me at sabrinaogden@gmail.com with an address so I can get these items in the mail.  You are not obligated to claim any item, but if you "manly men" are having second thoughts about claiming your Oscar Martello buttons...just know that "THE" David Cranmer was happy to take his. And Paul D. Brazil.  And Spencer Koch. See, men can have buttons and still be cool. Also, if there is an * next to your name it's because you've already received the item or you have already been contacted.  Thanks, much.

DEMISE OF THE SOCCER MOMS
Judy Parker*

FRUIT OF ALL EVIL-
Lala Bowers*
Gbeck*
Stacie (sent you a message with Google Messaging. Not sure if it worked...)

OSCAR MARTELLO BUTTONS-
Dawn Kirby* (almost in the mail)
Steve Weddle
JChrz
Gbeck
Angellabarra99
John Horner
DKN1
Sara
Christine
Spencer* (so it hasn't been shipped yet...the blanket is almost finished)
Small Town Girl*
Daniel B. O'Shea
Paul D. Brazil*
Elizabeth*
Sandi
David Cranmer* (almost in the mail)

TRAVIS CHASE SERIES BY PATRICK LEE
Grig (tried to reach you by e-mail, but got nothin' in response...)

NEEDLE: A MAGAZINE OF NOIR
Stephanie Bright (I also have a pair of shorts that your lovely daughter left at my house while babysitting my dogs when I was in NY visiting with this amazing man with the most beautiful blue eyes I have ever seen in a picture.)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Man Who Was Thursday by G.K. Chesterton

Why should you read The Man Who Was Thursday by G.K. Chesterton? Well, one of the best measures of a book’s strength is its staying power. This book was published over a hundred years ago and people are still talking about it, that’s some serious staying power. Another good reason to read Thursday is that if you are ever at a dinner party or on a date and have an urgent need to say something that makes you sound smart, as long as you preface your statement with, “I was reading The Man Who Was Thursday by Chesterton the other day and…”, you can say anything else and you’ll sound very clever. (I finally understood the metaphysical implications of potholes), (the solution to all the socio-economic difficulties in sub-Saharan became clear to me), (I decided to go with the pistachio ice cream).” Really, the possibilities are endless.

The Man Who Was Thursday was originally published in 1908. The plot centers around the efforts of a British government spy named Syme who is attempting to infiltrate an anarchist plot to disrupt the government. The spy infiltrates a secret cell of seven anarchist leaders and is given the code name of “Thursday” (the other members of the cell are also code named after days of the week). The rest of the book outlines Syme’s attempts to break up the anarchist plot. The story, even though old, has enough twists and turns in it to entertain fans of the thriller genre (I think it does anyway) and in the end it turns out that all the important characters are double crossers and double-double crossers. The best part of Thursday is the absurd chases across England and France; throwing the crazy French into the mix just makes the whole thing a little crazier. The plot twists and turns so quickly that it can be a little difficult to keep track of everything; however, the climactic ending clears everything up, though not in the manner the reader expects. Jack Reacher does not make any appearances in Thursday; I think he would approve of both our hero Syme and his exploits.

Although the plotline for Thursday ostensibly involves anarchists, bombs, and attacks on the French, all of that really serves to illustrate an entirely different point. Chesterton (the author) was a dedicated Christian (although he started out Anglican, he eventually converted to Catholicism) and he wrote the book as an allegorical condemnation of post-modern nihilist philosophy that was quite popular in late 19th century Europe. Chesterton saw the writings and philosophy of people like Nietzche and Wagner as an anarchist attack against the goodness of life. Thus, there are several Christian allegories and themes that play out throughout the book. However, the reader need neither recognize the allegories or care about them in order to enjoy Thursday, and that’s what makes it such a great read. Chesterton was a genius because he was able to write effortlessly on more than one level. One of my favorite things about this book was when I read a passage about anarchists and blowing things up, I would also realize a minute later that it had a double meaning. Secret Code! Fun stuff!

Now that I’ve heaped my praise on the book, I should point out that it was written a hundred years ago, that means there isn’t much blood, no sex, and no Jack Bauer/Chuck Norris style beat downs. So I understand that it may not be for all the readers of this blog. That having been said, give it a read, you’ll be glad you did, and you’ll have lots of clever things to say at dinner parties.

This review was written by The Senator

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

I’m Always Asking, Why?

Today I would like to welcome Cathryn Grant, author of The Demise Of the Soccer Moms, to My Friends Call Me Kate.  Cathryn has been gracious enough to stop by and share with us her thoughts on why she enjoys writing about psychological suspense.  Cathryn has also been kind enough to pass along a signed copy of The Demise Of The Soccer Moms for one person that leaves a comment today. (Winner will be chosen at random) She'll be stopping by the blog throughout the day, so if you have questions about her writing, today would be a great day to leave a comment. Comments of encouragement our welcome, as well.  If you would like to leave a comment without your contact information, but would still like  to be entered for the drawing, please send me an e-mail to sabrinaogden@gmail.com. I'll make sure to add you to the list.

Cathryn's Suburban Noir short fiction has appeared in Alfred Hitchcock and Ellery Queen Magazines, and her flash fiction has also been published in the eZine Every Day Fiction. 

Sabrina says she likes to ask writers why they write. I thought I’d take a slightly narrower focus and blog about why I like to write psychological suspense.

I fell in love with psychological suspense fiction when I discovered Ruth Rendell through her novel, The Bridesmaid. I was captivated by the way she probed characters’ fears and neuroses. I immediately devoured all her non-series novels.

Stephen King said this about Ruth Rendell’s fiction: “No one surpasses Ruth Rendell when it comes to stories of obsession, instability, and malignant coincidence….”

The obsessions and instability of human beings fascinate me. I’m interested in what makes people tick, interested in why they do what they do, and whenever I read about a crime, my first thought is, Why? I’m interested in what it would take to drive someone to commit a crime, especially murder. When I observe what some people have endured in their lives, I wonder sometimes how they keep pressing forward, how they avoid going over the edge.

Psychological suspense is the perfect framework for exploring the psyche, for putting characters that are already wounded under extreme pressure and watching where it leads. Most books grouped under the heading of psychological suspense have a protagonist that’s a detective or some law enforcement official. Often they’re matching wits with a criminal, and those are frequently pure sociopaths. I like a more ambiguous story, because I think life is quiet and ambiguous. My stories only peripherally involve law enforcement, and the “criminal” is not pure evil or without a conscience. In fact, I like to show “criminals” as someone who’s suffered a lot of misfortune, or is pushed into a corner by a series of poor choices that, at the time, might seem minor.

I think if I can achieve the goal of evoking empathy for a criminal, that readers will walk away from my stories with more compassion toward people whose lives go off the tracks, and that they’ll be a little more forgiving of themselves as well. Of course, I also want to create a little fear and build a sense of foreboding along the way.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Demise of the Soccer Moms by Cathryn Grant

The hardest part about talking about this book is deciding on my introduction. I usually give a little story...something about me that relates to the book I just read. That's how reading is for me. Personal. My problem isn't that I don't have something to relate to the book, it's that I have too many real life experiences that pulled me inside the story. The story in this book is so realistically written that I found myself recalling several experiences in my life, all of which left me depressed and somewhat irritated.

For instance, I could tell you about the time our family was run out of town after my brother went to prison for attempted murder. Things like that get noticed in a small town and people form opinions. I could also tell you that I've been a victim of a horrific crime, and relay to you in agonizing detail just how difficult it is knowing that no one is going to help you seek justice. Or there was this time that I joined this group in the neighborhood that met regularly once a week because, at the time, none of us had children. We thought we were cool, but it quickly took a wrong turn when people started having children and others in the group no longer wanted them to attend. Oh, and I pretty much got booted from the group when Richard had to work in Wyoming for a couple of years. "Don't you think it's inappropriate for you to be coming to these activities without your spouse." And  then there was this time when a lady in the neighborhood told me, "I think it's about time you put a For Sale sign in your yard?"

Ya, women can be vicious at times...and it totally comes through in this book.

With her shoulders pressed against the wall, she could still see a sliver of the living room. The man rolled off her mother's body and yanked her hair, snapping her head sideways. He whispered in her ear. Then he smacked her face with the back of his hand.

The Demise of the Soccer Moms centers around Amy Lewis, a woman who becomes outwardly perfect and inwardly a disaster after she witnesses her mother's brutal rape as a child.  The tragic event left Amy's mother depressed and withdrawn when her father insisted that Amy's mother was a victim because she didn't try hard enough to fight back. When Amy's mother becomes withdrawn and eventually commits suicide, Amy becomes determined to make a perfect life for her own family. She's married the perfect husband, lives in the perfect neighborhood and is raising two perfect twin daughters that love to play soccer.

Life in perfect suburbia starts to head south when a series of rapes in the area leave Amy feeling anxious and overly paranoid. This, after all, is a woman that has a secret she has never told her friends. And if you think the big secret has to do with her mother's rape, you'd be mistaken. The secret that lies beneath the surface is so disturbing and shocking there were times that Amy's behavior made me want to reach into the pages of the book and strangle her, if only to save the rest of the characters that I had grown to love.

If the rapes weren't enough to throw a dent into Amy's perfect world, add to the mix, Charlotte Whittington, the 'braless' single mother that has the audacity to allow her daughter (that has never played soccer) to join the soccer team.  Due to Amy's learned opinions from her father, she immediately passes judgment on Charlotte and enlists the aid of her insecure and loving BFF, Rachel Matthews, to help take Charlotte down.

Charlotte, having moved to Sunnyvale to escape her own past and make a new life for her daughter, finds herself being stalked and physically threatened by a soccer mom that everyone knows has issues, but for some reason isn't concerned about getting her help.  From damaged photographs to dead birds being left on her porch, Charlotte is left to fight a battle of psychological wits with a woman that lost her stability many years before Charlotte came to town.

I probably sound extremely cold and heartless for not having sympathy for Amy and her past, especially with the sympathy dripping from the opening pages. Well, too bad!  Look, I get that not everyone deals with tragedy and hardships the same, but I will never agree with using your past to make excuses for your conduct now or in the future. Amy Lewis struck a nerve with me like no other character I have ever read about. I'm angry with her. I was angry with her when her true secret was revealed and everything she did after that made my anger multiply. The ending of this book killed me.

But... all of this is a good thing. I like reading books and developing relationships with characters that make me think. The Demise Of The Soccer Moms is Cathryn Grant's first novel and her characters are well developed and the storyline is amazingly full of tension from the very first page. On the surface you may think that a book about soccer moms can't be suspenseful or entertaining, but you'd be wrong. My only disappointment is that I don't know of anyone else that has read this yet.  I want to sit around the table and vent my frustrations about the women of Sunnyvale just like I do with my girlfriends when a new Black Dagger Brotherhood novel comes out.

I want to talk! Scream! Cry!

__________
About Cathryn Grant


Cathryn Grant’s short fiction has appeared in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine and Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. Her short story, “I Was Young Once” received an honorable mention from Joyce Carol Oates in the 2007 Zoetrope All-story Short Fiction contest.

In her first Suburban Noir novel, THE DEMISE OF THE SOCCER MOMS, a provocative single mother permanently alters the lives of four Silicon Valley soccer moms. It’s available now as an eBook at Amazon.com and Smashwords. The print version will be available in late January. Her second novel, BURIED BY DEBT, will be released in November 2011.

Cathryn’s flash fiction has been published at Every Day Fiction and at her website under Flash Fiction for the cocktail hour. One reader commented that she “makes the mundane menacing”.

All her life, Cathryn has irritated family, friends, and co-workers by incessantly asking, Why? In real crime, the why is often left unanswered. Her fiction explores the social and psychological forces that could drive an ordinary person to commit a crime, especially homicide.

When she’s not writing, Cathryn works in high tech, reads, and plays very high-handicap golf. In the winter she huddles by the fire with a glass of scotch, a bowl of popcorn, a novel, her husband, and two cats.

For Cathryn’s blog & free fiction schedule as well as an explanation of Manic Mondays and Fatal Fridays, click here.


Sunday, March 13, 2011

"SLEEP"

I'm interrupting my reviews today to bring you something that I discovered via Twitter. I've been following this pretty cool chick and noticed in one of her tweets that there was a production company seeking financial backing for an independent film. The title had me curious so I decided to take a look at the link she provided.

I also checked out the website and read about the project. Then I checked out Keary Cunningham to see if this guy was legitimate...he is.  Then I told myself that I really needed to do something to help move this little project along, but...life got busy and somewhat complicated and I've pretty much been a flake.

Now...I'm ready.

Since the cost of making an independent film can add up quickly, Sleep The Film Production has set a goal to raise $2,500 by March 24, 2011.  With every pledge of $5 or more you will receive an assortment of movie items such as electronic movie downloads, dvd and blu-ray movie versions, t-shirts and much more! Also, beginning March 14, 2011 they will begin filming. Even more interesting, during the filming week (March 14th - March 19th), they'll be streaming the production live on Ustream.

You can read more about Sleep The Film on their website here.  If you are interested in backing this project click here. For now you can read  a synopsis and watch a little movie trailer that I found on their site. 

SLEEP THE FILM

September 27, 1977 - Everglades City, Florida. Joseph “Joey” Peacock, a 28 year-old resident slacker and Sam Johnson, an aspiring 19 year-old college student are drawn to a remote island deep in the Everglades. Guided by a raggedy map drawn 20 years earlier by Sam’s deceased father, the two set out with their own hidden agendas. Only one returned.


Keary Cunningham is an independent film maker in South Florida. Having produced many reality shows, documentaries and other videos, Keary is venturing into the world of movie production, his first love.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Thin Mints by Daniel O'Shea



With Girl Scout Cookie season in full swing, I thought I'd share with you an audio short story by one of my favorite twitter pals, Daniel O'Shea. 

Nothing like the hearts and flowers you probably imagine when you're stuffing your face full of cookies, Thin Mints is a sickening tale of drug abuse and the desperation that arises once the meth high is gone and the sweet smell of cookie money can be found within easy reach of any Girl Scout. Thinking they have an easy score, listen to how quickly things go wrong for two meth heads that didn't bother to learn the Girl Scout motto.  It's okay, some people have to learn the meaning of being prepared the hard way. And these two men, well let's just say, they're no exception.  Enjoy!

THIN MINTS by Daniel O'Shea

Thin Mints first appeared in Crimefactory. You can find other amazing short stories by some really brilliant writers on the Crimefactory website: http://www.crimefactoryzine.com/main/HOME.html, as well as find other great reads at DAY LABOR, The Official Blog of Crimefactory Magazine.


Dan O'Shea is a thriller writer represented by Stacia Decker at the Donald Maass Literary Agency. His fiction has appeared in Crimefactory, and will be in an upcoming issue of Needle: A Magazine of Noir. You can find him on his blog GOING BALLISTIC, or just head out to the Chicago area and pick out a bar. He'll turn up.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A Walk In Cabo San Lucas- Guest Post by Paige Shelton

My husband, Charlie, and I recently did some traveling. We flew into San Diego and then took a cruise from there to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. We had a great time.

On the way home, Charlie pointed out an article in one of the airplane magazines. It mentioned that the largest farmers' market in the country is located in Dallas, Texas. I had an interesting reaction to this fact. First, I thought: wow, I'd love to visit the largest market in the country. Second, I thought: well, it might be the biggest, but there are so many wonderful things about every market I've visited. And finally, I thought: ooh, Bailey's Farmers' Market needs to have a write-up in an airplane magazine. I was sort of jealous of the Dallas market. To be clear, Bailey's is the purely fictional market in my farmers' market mystery series. I laughed at my jealousy for my made-up world.

But the article also did something else; it got me thinking about the universal greatness of all farmers' markets. In fact, the time in Cabo among the street vendors showed me that there's something great about all sorts of markets set up with stalls that are run by a single person or a couple of people or a family. Farmers, artists and other vendors all work hard to create and/or display their products so people will want to buy them. And the vendors are the best part; they come in many different personalities; some are pushy, some are shy, some are friendly, some are cantankerous. I'm drawn to them all. I love visiting markets and talking to vendors and hearing their personal stories. One of my favorite things about writing the farmers' market series is creating the vendors' backgrounds and personalities. Sometimes, they take over and tell me more about themselves than I could ever make up; they have a tendency to take on a life of their own. Maybe that's why I was jealous for them.

So, on behalf of everyone at Bailey's, may your upcoming market season be full of amazing products and interesting vendors. If you get a chance, stop by and see us. We're always here.

Thank you!

BOOK CONTEST:

To help celebrate the release of Fruit of All Evil, Paige has given me a signed copy to give away to one lucky winner.  Just leave a comment on the blog and I'll randomly draw a name on Monday, March 7th!