Once again, author Calin presents us with a poignant short story of dreams and aspirations of the desperate and downtrodden. She has a grasp of colorful, working-class dialog like nobody I know. Oscar Sparrow's brilliant narration on the mp3 captures it perfectly with that lilting, dramatic voice of his!
She presents a wonderful array of vivid images in a day in the life of the protagonist, who hatches a scheme doomed to certain failure and clings way past prudence to his impossible hopes and dreams. His go-along partner is a perfect example of how unexpected opportunity turns the sheep into wolf.
One really can't get enough of these stories of Calin's, nor of her steamy, romantic novel, "Knockout". She has the strivings and foibles of humanity literally in the palm of her hand, and a profoundly intuitive finger on the pulse.
--Jo VonBargen 2012
The Chosen on Amazon UKOn TwitterOn Facebook
Today, I’m greatly honored to introduce you to Javier A. Robayo, a hot new novelist in the writing world who I predict will be a best-selling author in the not too far future! Javier came to the United States in 1988 at the age of 12 from Quito, Ecuador. He began writing as a way of learning English throughout his high school years. He studied at Slippery Rock University and lives in Western Pennsylvania, with his wife, and two daughters.
Javier has caught not only my attention, but that of many of my best author friends who have all written glowing reports of both his wonderfully sensitive writing and the intriguing, genuine character of the man.
JVB: Welcome, Javier! I certainly look forward to the day I can say, “I knew him when! I even had a conversation with him!” I’d like to begin with this. Since your writing is so intimately insightful and personal, I have to wonder how much of you and your life experience infuse one of your stories or novels?
JAR: So much for the warm up questions, lol. The majority of situations that my readers will find on the page are things I lived directly or indirectly. The Gaze is infused with a good forty percent of my own life. A lot of it has distinct parallels to my life since I came to the US.
JVB: I have a feeling I know the answer to this: Who are your heroes?
JAR: Mom and Dad. Most courageous people I’ve ever known. They both gave up so much for my sister and me to have a chance at climbing a few rungs in this Land of Opportunity. I’m not sure I could have made those same sacrifices, although I’m faced with a similar situation now, but I’m not facing those same challenges they faced head on. I have a lot of advantages, the main one being that I speak English now. When we first came to the US we might have known ten words between all four of us.
JVB: You are so lucky to still have your parents in your life. They sound like wonderful people! Now, will you tell us about your books in as much detail as you want and also the inspiration for them?
JAR: The Gaze, was almost more demanded than inspired. The story centers around a placemat this kid used to write the pain of his heartbreak over a girl he loved. Samantha, the main character, is so affected by the writing on the placemat that it becomes an anchor, a grounding point as she struggles through her life and her choices. The placemat actually exists. I wrote it while nursing a broken heart after leaving Sheri behind while I tried to put myself together. I left it at the diner and this girl found it and kept it. Some 12 years later, thanks to Facebook, she contacted me. At the time, Kaycee was working as an editor in New York City. She urged me to write, but I didn’t feel I had the time or the skill. She became friends with my wife and kept in touch even after moving to London. For six months, she kept after me to write a story. Finally, to sort of shut her up, I wrote a prologue, which I hated because it was written in third person. I changed it to first person, male perspective and she didn’t particularly love it. Hoping to once and for all end this nonsense about me writing a novel, I wrote the prologue from a girl’s point of view. When I polished it and went back to read it, I suddenly saw potential and in a way, I wanted to know what would happen with this girl. I never stopped writing until it was done some ten months later.
I found that there was so much I wanted to write and Samantha allowed me to infuse the story with different elements. I set out to write a romance, but little by little it became so much more. I didn’t have an outline so I was free to add anything I wanted. There are several historical components within Gaze and they weaved so well that it surprised my advance readers.
My goal was to make this novel rich with emotion, yet balanced enough to keep a reader interested. I wanted the emotions of each character to be the driving force behind the story.
It was a joy to write Gaze, something I’ll never forget.
JVB: You have said that finding a proper cover for The Gaze was somewhat an involved process. Can you tell us how that began and progressed?
JAR: It all started with the title. I was writing the very last pages of a novel without a title. It had to be something that jumped out at me. When it did, it seemed a little obvious to choose a physical depiction of a gaze, so it had to be unique.
When I met my Sheri, it took some time to get past her eyes. Back when we started dating, she came to visit me at school. I had to finish a paper and she sat on the couch, patiently waiting for me to get done. At one point, I looked at her and she gave me this look… I knew I was in love with her. I knew that’s the look I wanted on the cover, that particular gaze.
I followed her around, camera in hand, trying to make her look at me like that again. There were at least fifty shots of her face, from smiling pleasantly to royally annoyed glares and everything in between. We finally agreed on the shot then it was a question of how to use it. The final product came out when my graphic designer (Dad) filtered the shot in black and white and lettered it for the Kindle cover. It looked like a real book then.
After correcting Gaze for the final time, I matched the Kindle cover to the print, and I’m so happy with the results. Sheri is still a little bashful about it. She’s even gotten the opportunity to autograph a few copies because they found the cover so alluring. By the way, they only asked for her autograph.
JVB: That’s funny! How do you manage to find balance with family life, your own reading and pursuits, etc.? Do you, like many of us, get flack from family for spending too much time writing?
JAR: Are you kidding? My daughters would often come into the computer room just to roll their eyes, shake their heads sadly, and utter little comments like “you’re writing again?” In the beginning, I was even accused of letting the family ties vanish.
From then on, I always asked what the plans were and I left the computer to play with the girls. I did a lot of writing at work. There were many times when the steel mill shut down and I’d use those precious hours to write Gaze. I’ve never been a big sleeper, so as soon as everyone went to bed, I’d write into the morning. It was the only way. I think it all became much more demanding after writing the novel. The tweeting, the promoting, the blogging, seemed to take much more time than writing the novel, but it’s necessary. By then, Sheri and the girls understood and were great about giving me the time to do it. Let’s just say I learned a lot about using my Smartphone.
JVB: What goes into developing and naming your amazing characters, Javier?
JAR: Naming a character is a huge responsibility, but in this case, the name Samantha was an easy choice. I wanted to name my daughter Samantha. The name is just so poetic. I’ve always loved it, but despite my heavy campaigning for it, Sheri shut me down twice. She didn’t want people calling her daughter “Sam”. She said it made her think of a bold man with a mustache. When I wrote the prologue from a girl’s point of view, I knew right away Samantha would be her name.
Of course, I had to come up with middle names and surnames, and that proved much more difficult than I thought.
I believe names carry a personality, otherwise people wouldn’t say things like, “He doesn’t look like a Charlie...”
I based my characters on mixtures of real people’s traits, and the names slowly floated to the surface. Once I had a name and a face, the personalities created themselves and at one point, it was these characters telling me what to write, much more than me manipulating the prose. I was their instrument.
JVB: What authors have impressed you over the years and have had an influence on your writing and outlook?
JAR: Dean Koontz and Tami Hoag fascinated me. Greg Isle blows my mind. They create characters with heart and as a reader, you can’t not connect with them. As I was writing Gaze, I came across John W. Huffman and later on the one and only Bert Carson. Talk about authors who write from the heart! I still think of their characters, long after reading their books. I wanted that. I wanted to create characters that would stay in the mind of a reader even when the story itself began to fade in their mind.
JVB: I agree about Bert. His books are absolutely soulful and wonderful! Speaking of characters, have you ever made a character out of someone close to you?
JAR: My Fiction professor was a huge believer in writing what you know, and who you know. Part of being a writer involves the subtle study of the people around us, so of course I’ve based many of my characters on people that have touched my life somehow. In The Gaze, it’s pretty easy to connect the dots. I loosely modeled Tony Amaya after myself, though he is much, much cooler. It doesn’t get closer than that.
JVB: In writing stories or novels, do you endow your work with a moral underpinning or do you let other authors tend to the teaching and preaching?
JAR: The Gaze and its sequel The Next Chapter are character driven. Whatever their reactions to their situations dictates to me what to write on the next page. I did not consciously make an effort to teach something, or to portray an opinion.
I’ve been floored at the way readers have connected with the novel, claiming they’ve learned something valuable from Samantha’s struggles, from Lewis’s friendship, from Gwen’s strength, and others.
Most notable, a 17 year old girl sent me a message that said: “You’ve changed my life and I’m going to be a better person because of it.” I know if I had set out to teach something, it would’ve never happened that way. I think it’s presumptuous to attempt to make our readers see something specific in our work. Our life experience has a lot to do with how we absorb a story and what we draw from it. I let my characters tell their story, and I will happily let readers take from it anything they want. It’s still so surreal to know that my novel impacted someone so deeply. It’s incredibly humbling.
JVB: It is humbling, indeed. What a great experience for you! Is accessibility something you strive for in writing? Or is it more fun to challenge the reader?
JAR: Are you sure you’re not a full-fledged Literature professor? Wow! I’ll say that if I was writing a non-fiction book, I’d make it a point to make the work accessible by keeping it fairly straight forward. If I was writing poetry, I’d love to challenge the reader to look for the real meaning between the verses. But in writing a novel, you invite readers to lose themselves into someone else’s story. You provide them with a little escape into the lives of other people, so it’s your duty to keep them engaged, not just mentally, but emotionally. Some of the best books make everything disappear around you and you don’t even hear the phone! The story is so consuming that for those precious hours, you forget about your own stresses. I may challenge my readers, but always careful never to insult them either. Readers are very smart people and they know quickly whether your writing deserves their attention.
JVB: Absolutely true, Javier! Where do you get your ideas for a piece? Do they strike like a thief in the night or work their way slowly into your thoughts over a period of time?
JAR: Not too long ago, I was adding chemicals to our pool when a line formed in my head. “Small towns are cradles of secrets…” By the time I ran into the house to write it down, I had a new idea for a story.
My dad was worried I totally emptied the tank after writing Gaze. When I told him my ideas for a possible nine novels, I made him feel much better.
JVB: Nine novels? Astounding!! So, walk us through a typical writing day in Javier’s world.
JAR: I have to be in that mood. It usually happens in the wee hours of the morning when everything is quiet. Starting a novel is my favorite part, but if I’m adding to a work in progress, I’ll read the last two chapters I wrote to put myself back into the minds of my characters and pick up where I left off. If I run into a block, I’ll switch manuscripts and add to that one. Currently, I’m working on four different scripts. My Two Flags is nearing completion, so I try to concentrate on that one more.
JVB: Do you have any hobbies or fanatical pursuits outside of writing?
JAR: My Sheri would say the NFL and the NHL, and she wouldn’t be wrong, but she wouldn’t be quite right either. I love shooting. I won’t go fanatical enough to buy every gun every made, but I love taking a Remington 700 to the range and clearing my mind in order to make that elusive 400 yard bull’s eye. I love working on cars too, but only if time and money allow.
JVB: What advice would you give to new authors just starting out? What mistakes have you made that they could avoid?
JAR: Be patient and trust your instincts. I could have avoided so many embarrassing pitfalls if I’d been just a little more patient. I think I’ve made all the mistakes. I initially picked a poor cover design, I submitted a file that was ridden with flaws, I used two different trim sizes, I didn’t have a clue as to what entailed the promoting of a novel. I had no Twitter account, no blog, no website, nothing! I had to learn so much in so little time.
You wouldn’t believe the difference in the experience between releasing The Gaze versus releasing The Next Chapter. Night and day!
Above all, go to extremes to ensure that you are putting out a high quality product. Spend some time in creating the cover. It’s the first thing a potential reader judges. Make your blurb attractive, but don’t offer more than what your story delivers.
Help promote other authors and don’t shake someone’s hand as you shove your book in their face with the other. Be patient. As my professor often said, “If your work is good, it will float. But if your work stinks, it will sink.”
Lastly, the best advice I was given, encompasses every aspect of the writing experience. Respect your readers. It really says it all.
JVB: And I can tell that you do that. That’s the key to success! It’s been so exciting to be able to grill you, Javier! I thank you very much for taking valuable time to give us a peek into your mind…it’s been a distinct pleasure. So here’s an opportunity for you to say anything about yourself or your work that you wish, impart whatever wisdom you think would be useful, or send your personal message to the world. Don’t hold back!
JAR: First off, your poetry is absolutely captivating, Jo. I could never in a million years write like that.
I can’t thank you enough for this opportunity. I had the best time racking my brains to answer your excellent questions!
Like many authors out there, I set out to offer something worth reading and it’s my sincere hope to see a lot of people take a chance on my stories. I have more than a few readers that will say no one will be disappointed.
JVB: Thanks so much, Javier! And thank you, lovely reader, for faithfully reading along and supporting this blog. I hope that you will keep an eye on Javier and his writing career and I’m sure that you join me in putting your arms around this wonderful family as they move to Connecticut and go through some uncertain times. Haven’t we all been there? Yeah, baby! We’re with you all the way, Javier. Wishing you tons of success and safe journeys always…
Here are a few links to where you can find Javier and his writing:
The Gaze on Amazon
The Next Chapter, a sequel to The Gaze, on Amazon
Out of the Mind of Javier A. Robayo
Letters to my Daughters
Much can be done with a voice - take
that witty, Wilde-ish Sparrow, Oscar...
a presence, a man of stature reading
his poems better than well - when
he says light, you see yon light, or peach,
it bursts juicy sweet upon your tongue,
or London Bridge, it looms grey
above you, shadowed of the ages
Not one poem is an old-time ode, but
more of earth, blood-full, strong
and not down any known poet's old,
known road, oh - he could be
a Shakespearean actor, knowing just
when to twinkle, when to pause,
and each new line is a brand new
wrinkle, oh, yes...yes, and maybe if
you listen hard - let the poems
touch you, you might, just might,
touch the soul of the poet,
all the poets within him,
his beloved old cars and oily rags,
the thousand fathoms of the man
--Jo VonBargen 2012
A View From the Bridge of My NoseI Threw a Stone (on Amazon.com)
A TRAGEDY by Theo Marzials. Read by @Oscar_Sparrow Oscar Sparrow reading Jo Vonbargen's HISSING LIKE FIRE
Something my brilliant friend, Christina Carson, said the other day in a comment on one of my blogs has really gotten me to thinking. Hard. "When are people going to get curious enough to begin to become aware of a higher order of awareness that waits only an invitation? We are capable of doing more than chasing our tails." wrote Christina. She hit it right out of the ballpark, into the stars and this wondrous universe we inhabit!
Let's talk about dimensions. This will be laughably brief, but will give us a floor to walk on. Humans are currently considered, for the most part, to be third-dimensional, some fourth. This refers to our level of awareness in general.
One-dimensional space can be seen as a line.
Two-dimensional space would be a flat surface.
Three-dimensional space is a cube that has height, length, width.
Fourth-dimensional space is the addition of a time continuum; picture us moving in time through three dimensional space. We perceive being at a particular location in physical space at a particular time. (But this is not an exact picture of how fourth dimensional joins space-time into one larger whole.) Let's just say it's complicated.
Fifth dimensional space is generally not something one can imagine from a three-dimensional perspective, until the evolving consciousness allows it. It's a layer which is not spatial, nor is it temporal. It's the dimension that brings space-time into oneness with the timeless and eternal. So we see that fifth dimensional awareness creates a movement of consciousness instead of movement on the physical plane. This allows us to begin to perceive the unity of life and matter because we are moving within that higher plane. From here, we have a wider view of what reality is. Things are not separate. I am you and you are me and we are the world...that type thing.
So, within each of these five dimensions, there is a boundary of perception. Not a real boundary, but one in which the inhabitant feels free to move in all directions because it is all they know. They do not even perceive a boundary. Like living inside a donut. The person has sealed himself inside that layer, unaware there is anything beyond it. From the point of view of someone outside that donut, however, that person is living within yet another donut which encircles the smaller one.
Back to the fifth-dimensional layer, it also exists within other layers that have even higher numbers of dimensions, each higher layer still penetrating the layers within it, yet is not perceived, since the ones living within the current three-dimensional, for example, think that this is all that can be seen and felt.
Fifth-dimensional awareness means loss. Loss of the sense of separateness...both from others and from the universe in which we live. There is an awe-inspiring presence of expanding light which creates an experience of the Absolute, the divine within all, where distinctions fade into the background. Individual consciousness remains, but that sense of estrangement and isolation from life recedes.
Here one no longer relies only on the physical mind and five senses to define one's reality, but will move into the perfect light linking all with a vibration of love. Unfortunately, the experience of unity has not yet been widely, directly felt by humans, but many millions are awakening to it. The need to protect 'me' from 'you' still dominates, as the greater shift has not yet occurred. When it does, all will be seen as connected to all, and the new morality will not be based on self-preservation, but on concern for the whole. Your interest and my interest will be the same, and will seek to serve the good of all, rather than the desires of the self.
Moving on, keep in mind that these are just very, very basic definitions and each could be expounded on ad infinitum. We can all explore them in our own time and inclination as we jump back and forth from a third-dimensional 'victim' mentality to our higher levels of awareness. No longer can we, nor should we, say,"if I can't see it, it doesn't exist."
Be a pioneer! Work on developing the skills to both recognize and harmonize with the subtle energies that make up our universe...energies that are birthed into material form by our physical thoughts and emotions. Interact with other people who are working on their own evolution. There is a 'way', a natural way (the Tao) to achieve these higher states and it is a very personal journey. Give rein to your own inner spirit, which is endowed from birth with the light; it will show you the path if you just have faith and trust it!
--Jo VonBargen 2012
A friend of mine from Calcutta once said in his thick Bengali accent, "America's a tough town." As hilarious as that is, it's certainly turned out to be.
Just as so many well-loved, well-knowns before me, I prefer sustainable peace. I loathe killing and rampant destruction, though I know war is sometimes said to be necessary. For some reason, that makes me anti-American. The same hands that wave a Bible and a flag will shoot me the finger for adhering to tenets of those very standards! (Before you accuse me of being a bleeding-heart liberal, please know that I am fiercely Independent and have always been. And I hate that the word "liberal" has been turned into a slur. I also hate that we are now so polarized we cannot even have this discussion.)
Of course I love my country! That is precisely why I have the right to find fault. Who would even think of raising their beloved children without loving criticism?
Why is it such a reprehensible thing to long for an Earth with no borders and one people called humanity? Before you call me a sadly naive idealist, take a look at the historical record. All progress has been achieved via our wildest dreams and...yes...heresies. Our own USA included. Just ask the monarchy that birthed us, the high church that condemned us. And besides, there's no law against wishing.
Can truth still save us? It have to believe it could. It should be pursued with a vengeance. We should all be restless, damned curious and have a healthy irreverence for those in high places.
I just shake my head when I see reporters converging on DC for a scheduled press conference...off to pick up news like a party tray already packaged and tied with a bow. Where did we get the idea that truth can be found in a set-up like that? Government officials call them all by their first names, not to mention little perks on the side, free junkets, inside gossip, yadda, yadda. You have to ask: Is a press release out of a power-funded public relations department going to be anything more than an opiate?
Wake up, little lambkins, and smell the foul air. Clear that pie-in-the-sky from your eyes and see for yourselves what the pols have indeed caked all over us. It ain't chocolate pudding.
Sadly, most reporters have lost their motivation to dig for the real nuggets. Their employers cater to whichever party makes it worth their while to skew the tone of their network and would never air the real truth even if a brave employee were to buck the system and dig anyway. We are soooo screwed.
In reality, there's nothing mysterious about ferreting out fact. Visit Government Documents online or in your library and read official accounts of congressional investigations or even documents from the General Accounting Office. Stay up late to watch C-Span and see what your lovely legislators do to you while you're sleeping. Read transcripts of what our ambassadors have said to theirs in foreign countries...like Iraq. That one will clear your sinuses.
Read some of the foreign newspapers; lots of them have English editions. Read the histories of countries and peoples in conflict; find out why people are hurting, why they are frustrated, why they lash out when no one will hear them. We can't just swallow every sound-byte officials toss us on the tube....we need to keep ourselves immune. We shouldn't blindly accept any leader's insistence on making last year's golden boy this year's despot, or vice versa, nor should we assume that everything out of a politician's mouth is gospel as long as he belongs to our own party. Nobody can hump a duck like another duck, dearies.
Bottom line, we should give as much attention to the motives of our leaders as we would to a prospective mate. We'll have to live together for a long time. If the hard evidence says, despite glib assurances to the contrary, that you're being lied to, placated, misrepresented, or used for a pleasure receptacle while you're asleep, scream like a banshee. If you don't, then you mustn't complain when you plunge off the cliff with the rest of the lemmings.
--Jo VonBargen 2012
Now on Amazon.comThis Kindle short story is a parody of E L James's 'Fifty Shades of Grey'. It is entirely fictional, and the characters in no way represent, depict, or otherwise role-play anyone living, dead, or living with the dead. In point of fact, it has never happened, could never happen, and probably should not have been written.
Hmm. Just what is that mystifying, much-maligned character called a poet? Well, I is one, and answering the question is sort of like trying to nail Jello to a tree. But, being a Texan with a ten-gallon mouth, you know I'm gonna try (unless somebody knocks me down and steals my teeth!).
Marianne Moore famously described the poet's job as creating 'imaginary gardens with real toads in them'. Now there's a definition! Except with horned frogs and a sweat-slingin', bow-legged prince or two.
We could say a poet artistically renders words in such a way as to evoke intense emotion or an aha! experience from the reader. We could say poets use economy of language and are miserly and unrelentingly critical in the way they apply words to a page. But let's not do this. Don't shackle poetry with definitions. It can't be done. Poetry has enormous power, ya'll. Poetry is imagination and will break those chains faster than a prairie fire with a tail wind. And like grasping at that wind, once you catch it...it's no longer wind.
The wonderful and vastly prolific author, Paul Dorset, has posted an interview with me on his blog, Utterances Of An Overcrowded Mind, on Saturday, July 14, 2012. His publications include fantasy novels for ages 12-plus, how-to books for adults, and dark paranormal thrillers for ages 16+. I'd be grateful if you'd hop on over there and give it a read. Leave a comment for Paul if you have time, as he went to a lot of trouble...for which I give him a hearty, Texas-chick slap on the chaps and thanks! Just click the link to get there. Author Intervew: Jo VonBargen--Jo VonBargen 2012
When discussing my own work I often refer to it as "writings on human spirit". Just what is human spirit? We might say it is a component of philosophy, psychology or religion: the spiritual or mental part of humanity. While some might give it the same meaning as human soul, it really refers to to the impersonal, universal or higher component of human nature in contrast to psyche, which can refer to the ego or lower element. Awareness, insight, understanding, judgment and other reasoning powers all play a role in identifying human spirit as well.
Take the Hebrew word ruach which originally meant "wind". The ruach belongs to the divine, to the above, to the light. Its effects on humanity when it descends include heroism, enlightenment, all kinds of divination and ecstasy...it is literally poured out. So the human spirit can be seen as the higher component of a human's non-material makeup - the part that is impersonal or universal, as opposed to the soul, which is a personal element of each unique individual.
All that said, I use the term broadly to identify the mechanism by which ordinary humans endure, survive and transcend extraordinary sufferings and circumstances. We see it displayed when there is a natural or man-made catastrophe of some sort...when a whole nation can come together to aid, rescue, heal and rebuild. We see it when a battered mother takes a leap of faith to escape dire home circumstances where her children are at risk. We see it in soldiers who put their lives on the line crawling through whizzing ak-ak and explosions to pull their wounded and dying to safety.
It goes without saying that we might have to come up with another term if and when we finally have proof positive that there are other souls in this unbounded universe! They would not necessarily come under the heading of human. But I think they would all have the spirit part, nevertheless. If we could regard God, the Great Spirit, the Absolute, etc. as a vast ocean, then each individual could be thought of as a cup of that ocean, and it would apply to all sentient souls of whatever planet. (Just had to throw ET in here to maintain my outlier reputation!)
Overall, I see my role as a poet and writer as one which illuminates to the best of my ability. Being fascinated with cause and effect, my mission is to take a situation apart, look at the details (where they say the devil is!) and shine a spotlight where no one can ordinarily see. In my latest book, which is a collection of prose and poetry on human spirit, several themes run throughout, not the least of which is love, albeit failed love. The importance of these writings is to illuminate the power of love, even when it is love spent without return or love bestowed beyond all prudence. That power manifests as strength, resilience, wisdom and a strong determination to overcome. As such, unconditional love is its own reward in a world where, sadly, millions of women are subjected to being used and abused because their naïveté or kindness is mistaken for weakness...or perhaps because cultural, religious or familial ties require that they endure it. Some of these poems and essays exist to shine a hard light on these unfortunate and dreadful circumstances, if only to light a candle in the shadowy places where truth often hides. The hope is that there is enough beauty, contemplation and #inyourface rant scattered throughout so that the reader's experience isn't rife with gloom, depression and scattered entrails!
--Jo VonBargen 2012
Golgotha Connection (Out of the Darkness)
(Amazon Book Description)
""Golgotha Connection," totally revised and re-written as a Christian thriller, was originally published as "Place of Skulls."
A man with no known past and no name as been dispatched to the deserts, ghost towns, and underbelly of drug-infested Mexico to uncover a secret that could forever change the scope and teachings of Christianity. If not, the quest and the discovery would forever change his life.
A DEA agent has written that he possesses the unmistakable and undeniable proof that Christ did indeed return to earth again and walk the land of the Aztecs almost fifteen hundred years after his crucifixion on the cross. But has the agent found a relic? An artifact? A long lost manuscript of the written Word? No one knows, and the agent dies before he can smuggle the secret out of an empty grave.
Andrews St. Aubin can’t dig past the charred fragments of his memory, but he must battle drug lords and a rogue CIA agent to unravel the legend of Quetzalcoatl, the white-skinned, blue-eyed, god figure whose sixteenth century ministry, death, resurrection, and mystical promise to return someday to gather up his people closely parallels the Biblical story of the man called Christ. Is Quetzalcoatl merely a myth, or was he Christ himself?"
I've been reading Caleb Pirtle short stories for some time now, enjoying them immensely, and was curious to see if his talent could survive the rigors of a long novel. Indeed, it has, and gloriously so!
I love a sharp dose of authenticity - when a story is told arrow-straight and fiction feels like reality, when you may have never been to a certain place or met someone like the character you're reading, and yet you feel the narrative's truth. Caleb Pirtle definitely has a gift for this...in spades. In GOLGOTHA CONNECTION the writing is tensile-taut, the story lines are interwoven seamlessly, and all the gory details are nicely intact.
You can't imagine a gentleman like this author ever knowing an earthly thing about the underbelly of life that this novel depicts, but his writing resounds with the tone of real people imbedding a real place in time. The story breathes you in and holds its breath as the tension mounts.
The language is both stark and deliciously detailed. Scorching heat and terror are the forest, and the wiles and emotions of humanity fill the spaces between the trees.
An intricate plot and fleshy, memorable characters, the expressive narrative and relentless pacing will no doubt cause GOLGOTHA CONNECTION to be remembered as indeed one of the best mysteries of the year.
--Jo VonBargen 2012
Here is where we found her in death, the little calico stray who would never, even after a year, let us get closer than ten feet away. How sad to be bound up in such fear that even the hand that so faithfully feeds is such an imminent threat.
It could have been a fox or coyote that surprised her, or perhaps a large raccoon with whom she had argued vehemently over the food dish of late. As with all homeless, death lingers ever near, ever near.
We couldn't move her to sleep with others we've loved, as vultures had already done their necessary work and she was clearly dissolving into her surrounds. Remains don't ever remain long here in these woods, neither theirs or ours.
She was elusive, that one, and changed her habits from day to day, with our never knowing from which direction she'd come, and so we thought she was far too smart to be caught in this gruesome way. But today, it all became clear.
Just twenty feet into the woods from where she lay, a surprise! A tiny black kitten sat high in the crook of a tree, mewing softly toward its mother's sad repose. Our other cats sat semi-circled below, mewing back, "Come down, little one, come down!"
All efforts to reach it have failed, as Rick's multiple scrapes, cuts, bruises and frustration will attest. Seeing as the vines and underbrush provide a formidable fortress, both for keeping out intruders and trapping the terrorized, it might just to be too young to know water and food are a necessity of life.
We've put a dish of each at the base of the tree, knowing it has never had the experience of crockery or other things human, and so we wait, hoping the little thing will smell the water and food way before the raccoons do, before we have to find its poor body in the brush, before it even has a chance to own us.
--Jo VonBargen 2012