Seattle Red by Reb MacRath – Review

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , on May 7, 2017 by David North-Martino

 

Seattle Red

Seattle Red

A modern two-fisted pulp, loaded with action, mystery, style, intelligence, and humor.
In this fourth book in the series, Boss heads to Seattle to take on Organized Retail Crime (ORC). Heavily researched, and highly detailed, we’re treated to firsthand descriptions of the seedier side of the Emerald City, and delve deeply into the world of ORC. Also heavily researched are the “Armless Arms” —weapons disguised as ordinary everyday objects. “Toyless is Joyless.”

Grounded firmly in the heavily researched word MacRath has created, we can gleefully enjoy a pulp romp with Boss and his colorful team as they go from one wild situation to the next. Boss tends to play the jester, but he never plays the fool. Rounding out the MacRathian trinity of tricksters is a an old geisha—or is she?—and the spirit of Mae West appearing in the most unexpected of locations.

As an aside, I have to comment on the Glenfiddich 21 Boss quaffs. I thought the author had inverted the numbers—but no! Boss drinks some really high-end stuff. And why shouldn’t he? Not only because he’s rich, but because we get to live vicariously through his good taste, and in so doing, we’re not even set back the price of a bottle!

MacRath never writes down to his audience, bringing in both pop culture and literary allusions. Authentic Seattle-speak also included! It is rare to find an action thriller/mystery this smart and also this fun.

If you like the snappy dialog of Elmore Leonard, and enjoy Quentin Tarantino’s brand of film making, you are going to go gaga over Boss MacTavin. Highly recommended.

The Witch (2015): Alternate Ending

Posted in Horror with tags , , , , on January 23, 2017 by David North-Martino

Last night we streamed The Witch (2015) on Amazon Prime. This was the first time I had watched this film. I had heard good things, and I wasn’t disappointed. I usually spend time discussing the movie with my wife, and, if the movie has subtext, we spend time analyzing it. This analysis led me to think about an alternative way to end the film.  I like the original ending, I think it works, but I wanted to present a “quieter” version that I think works with the themes and still completes the character arc. Having some author friends who write novelizations, I was inspired to novelize a reimagined ending as fan fiction. Since the film takes place during the 17th century, I had a little trouble with the piece of dialog I needed to write. I still don’t like it, but I think it’s close enough to get the idea. And just so we’re clear, if you haven’t seen the movie yet–here be Spoilers!

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The Witch (2015): An Ending Reimagined

Thomasin looked down at her mother, the woman who had given birth to her, the woman she had just killed. Panic receded and was replaced with a wave of numbness. A sense of calm overcame her. She would not, could not, think of her family, or the preceding moments that had left her alone in this world. Instead, Thomasin picked up the bloodied billhook and strode off to her brother’s grave. Once there, she scooped up earth with her hands until there was enough of a depression that she could deposit the agriculture implement and bury it with loose dirt.

Retracing her steps, she began her preparation. She removed two eggs from the chicken coop and placed them in a satchel. Then she removed one chicken, the beast squawking as she did. She brought the bird over to her father’s tree stump where he had spent so much time splitting wood. Something that she had derided him for, but she wouldn’t think of that now. Couldn’t think of it. She had splitting to do of her own.

Using her father’s hatchet, she cleanly removed the head from the chicken. The force of the blade connected with the wood, making a hard thunk. Once the bird had stopped it’s spasms she placed the still warm carcass in her satchel, returned to the coop to snatch a second chicken, and then repeated the process.

Returning to her home for the last time, Thomasin thought about removing her bloodied garments but despite the disgust she felt wearing them, thought better of it. Instead, she grabbed more items she would need and placed a burlap shawl over her shoulders. All she wanted to do was sleep, but she could not. She had to be on the move before nightfall.

As her last act, she leashed Black Phillip with a rough braided rope. The goat gave no resistance. With her satchel strapped across her body, and Black Phillip in tow, she made her way back to the road she and her family had used to find their place in the world over a year ago.

Thomasin walked, thinking little, still numb, a numbness she wasn’t sure would ever recede. The forest around her had lost its color, and what there was of the sun had lost its warmth.

As night fell all around her, she had no choice but to stop and make camp. She tied Black Philip securely to a tree, far enough away from her camp that the rope would not allow him to reach her. She poured out some oats that would have been used to feed the horse, careful to give only enough to sustain him over night so that the food would last until she reached her destination.

Stoking a fire, (how many times had she watched her father or her mother do it? She couldn’t remember) the warmth of the blaze elusive to her skin, she plucked and then roasted the chicken over a spit, using branches whittled with her father’s hunting knife.

Her stomach filled, but her soul empty, she propped up against a tree and waited for daylight.

The next morning she broke camp. Black Philip had not escaped his confinement. Together they made their way down what felt like an endless road. How long this went on she could not remember, and her condition never changed. She could not shake the numbness or the emptiness within, and the world around her only reflected her depression.

Finally, the high walls that protected the plantation could be seen in the distance. The sight did not give her joy. She was sure nothing ever would. Once at the gates, she made a fist and pounded. Waited. Then pounded again. Finally the wooden doors groaned opened. The men who answered, who dressed in the same way as her father had, whose children she had grown up with, looked at her with pity. She did not want to be pitied.

They sent for the Governor and his two magistrates, and in short order, the three men who had sentenced her family to exile stormed through a growing crowd to look quizzically at the young woman, her clothing covered in dried blood, and the black goat that stood behind her on a leash.

“Mine family. Suffered I did to watch them die. Killed they be, by a hostile tribe,” Thomasin said, staring at the ground. Then she looked up. “Survived, I did. Alone.”

The governor nodded his head, a look of supreme sorrow darkening his expression. He waved her in, and the crowd parted to let her and Black Phillip through.

Crossing the threshold, they entered the throng, and the gates shut behind them.

End.

Year in Review 2016

Posted in Goals, Martial Arts, Writing with tags , , , on December 31, 2016 by David North-Martino

Each year I create a list of goals for every area in my life. Throughout the year I work on those goals, track my progress and my challenges. Then, to keep myself honest, I commit to posting a list of some of my top accomplishments and challenges, and some of my smaller ones as well.

I challenge you to create a list of goals, keep track of them during the year, and then celebrate and post your accomplishments at year end. If you do, please let me know. I’d love to look at your list.

Writing Career

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Novels

  • Major goal accomplished: I completed the final draft edits and formatting of my 90,000+ word crime novel, Year of the Demon.
  • Sent Year of the Demon to the Minotaur Books/MWA First Crime Novel competition.
  • One of my favorite authors read and gave me feedback on the YOTD manuscript.
  • Commissioned a new cover for Wolves of Vengeance from Lynne Hansen Design.

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  • Currently at 65,000 words of a projected 90k on my paranormal thriller, The Tower (working title). I set this book aside to complete YOTD and to take advantage of some other writing opportunities.
  • Having seen a publisher’s open call for military horror/creature novels, and having an idea for a novel length story that meets the guidelines,  I decided to bring back Captain Amanda Rann from WOV and begin a draft. The open call doesn’t have an end date, and it’s very likely that they’ll close submissions before the novel is complete. If that happens, I’ll be ready when they open again.  I’m currently 20,000 words into the manuscript. No matter what, this is a story that has to be written. Another opportunity came up, one with a very defined set of perimeters and end date, and I felt I needed to put this novel on hold for a short time while I worked on the new project. See below:
  • Another publisher has an open call for novella length fantasy stories of varying sub-genre, fantasy worlds that are inspired by cultures other than the usual stories based on ancient Western civilization. I finally came up with the perfect idea and began writing. I’m over 10k into the story, and hoping I can finish by the 12th of January when they close. This one requires so much research that the deadline may very well be impossible. Tor may extend the date depending on how many viable manuscripts they receive. Either way, I have my fingers crossed.

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Short Stories

  • Wrote a horror noir short story (5K).
  • Wrote another horror noir story based on an old story, reinventing it with everything I’ve learned over the years (5K).
  • Wrote the first draft of a dark fantasy flash fiction story (1K).
  • Began an edit of a previously written story for an open call anthology but abandoned in favor of a new story.
  • Began an edit of an old story, but decided to abandon it for now. I might return to it if the right market opens up.
  • Performed a virtual reading of Sat Down Inside Her from a room at Mohegan Sun. Sat Down Inside Her
  • Sent out short fiction to 4 markets. I spent most of my time working on long fiction this year.
  • Wrote two short stories. Again, I decided to spend my time on novels this year.

Networking

  • Wrote  reviews of books I enjoyed.
  • Included in a writing round table with some fantastic authors.

Down and Dirty: The Ultimate Writer’s Round Table Joust: Part 1

Down and Dirty: The Ultimate Writer’s Round Table Joust: Part 2

Martial Arts

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  • Made some fun martial arts videos:

Early Morning Kali Stick Work

Shadowboxing Workout

Ukemi on Hard Ground 

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  • I brought my old Wave Master Training Bag into the corner of the living room and put down a puzzle mat to create a small dojo/dojang/kwoon in the living room! Don’t tell my wife! 😉
  • Attended Master Larry Tatum’s Kenpo Karate Seminar at the Derderian Academy.

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  • Worked on Kali stick work, Panantukan – Filipino Boxing, and JKD mitt drills with Patty in our home training group.
  • Practiced Kali Sinawali and single stick drills
  • Worked JKD boxing drills and all my kicks, on training bag.
  • Utilizing JKD and FMA as a conduit, I was able to integrate all previous martial arts training. This has taken me years to accomplish.
  • Focused on Naihanchi (Tekki) Sam Dan & Jindo (Gankaku Kai) forms.

Health

  • Had two ophthalmologist appointments. Glaucoma medication increased.
  • Had two dental cleanings. Began using fluoride rinse.
  • Got an eye infection. Antibiotic eye drops cleared it up.
  • Had annual physical and taken off of low oxalate diet.
  • My weight has fluctuated, but overall it is down.
  • Increased weight training.

Family

  • Called my Mom & Dad 2x each week.
  • Had lunch with my parents and took them to see 13 Hours at the cinema.
  • Had lunch at Olive Garden with the in-laws/outlaws.
  • Celebrated our grandniece’s birthday.
  • Visited my Mom & Dad at Foxwoods.
  • Visited Mom after attending a martial arts seminar in the area.
  • Celebrated our 21st wedding anniversary.
  • Breakfast with outlaws at Meadowbrook Orchard.
  • Helped my uncle with a computer issue.
  • Attended an educational PowWow at the Foxwood’s Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center with my parents and danced with my Mom
  • Visited the outlaws new townhouse.
  • Brought my parents to see a movie in Worcester.
  • Contacted my brother and let him know about money the state owed him.
  • Celebrated our 24th anniversary of our 1st date.
  • Had breakfast with my Mom & Dad in Webster.
  • Kept in contact with my aunt.
  • Visited my father-in-law for lunch and fixed his wifi and set up his laptop.
  • Had Thanksgiving breakfast with my Mom & Dad
  • Donated in my sister’s name.
  • Sent my grand niece to see Doctor Strange.
  • Visited my parents for a pre-Christmas/Hanukkah breakfast and then went to the Townsend Rod & Gun Club where my Dad taught me how to load and shoot a black powder rifle.

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  • Attended my niece’s baby shower.
  • Attended Christmas gathering at the outlaws.
  • Became a Great Uncle for the 3rd time.

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  • Went to see Adam Carolla at Foxwoods. Ate at Junior’s Deli.

 

Car

  • Patty’s car –  Inspection, oil change, wheels rotated and balanced, brake job, airbag recall, replaced broken sun visor, replaced ignition coil (under warranty) and wires.
  • My car – B service, wipers, airbag recall, replaced battery, brake job.
  • Had an accident in my car and had car repaired.
  • Had a part fail and had to go back and have them replace the part.

 

House

  • General maintenance and cleaning.
  • Fixed TV by taking it apart and cleaning the fan.
  • Replaced bathroom rugs.
  • Changed the high/low return air registers for Summer & Winter.
  • Maintained air cleaners.
  • Cleaned out house and brought junk to dumpster provided by the association.
  • Replaced a burnt out AC capacitor in our central AC unit.
  • Created a small dojo by installing puzzle mats.
  • Took down old shades and installed curtains in the living room and dining area.
  • Removed and installed new blinds in bedroom.
  • Patty utilized a shredding day to get rid of our confidential documents at work.
  • Cleaned behind the fridge and stopped it from overheating.

Travel

  • Portland Maine – Stayed at the Portland Regency Hotel & Spa. Went to Holy Donut, dinner at the Armory Lounge where they played blues music and we relaxed and had drinks. I tried Woodford Reserve Bourbon on the rocks and enjoyed it. Irish pub, Elevation Burger, hotel restaurant. We poked around the shops. Jewish Museum. Alex & Ani.
  • Mohegan Sun – I turned Patty’s three day work seminar into a writing retreat. While Patty was at the seminar I stayed in the deluxe king room and worked on a novel. We ate at Summer Shack, Michael Jordan’s 22 Sports Cafe. I tried a Woodford Reserve Double Oaked Bourbon and l really enjoyed it.
  • Bronx Zoo – We visited the Congo area, saw the Gorilla exhibit, rode the monorail, and went to jungle world. We also saw sea lions yelling at each other.
  • Boston – Stayed at the Onyx Hotel  on the Penthouse level. Ate at Boston Beer Works. Had a good time.

 

That’s it for 2016. See you in 2017… HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Down & Dirty Writing Round Table

Posted in Writing with tags , , , on December 6, 2016 by David North-Martino

I was interviewed, along with three other “knights,” by Reb MacRath for a roundtable on the pros and cons of indie and traditional publishing. Check it out!

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Down and Dirty: Ultimate Round Table

Jun Fan Gung Fu: Seeking the Path of JKD 2 by Sifu Kevin Seaman

Posted in Martial Arts with tags , , on November 23, 2016 by David North-Martino

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Sifu Kevin Seaman has done it again with Jun Fan Gun Fu: Seeking the path of Jeet Kune Do 2. Like the first volume, Sifu Kevin presents a cornucopia of techniques, concepts and drills, which will be useful to practitioners of all martial arts disciplines.

I purchased this book directly from the author and have an inscribed and signed copy. I’ve been fortunate to attend seminars by and with Sifu Kevin, and with some instructors teaching under him. Although I’ve been practicing martial arts nearly 30 years, I’m just beginning to walk down the JKD path. I feel Sifu Kevin’s books are incredible travel guides for anyone’s journey into the art, science, and philosophy espoused by the incomparable Bruce Lee.

Although you can’t learn from a book alone, you can use this text, along with the first volume, to increase your knowledge, and guide your journey. This book can be used as a mnemonic for those who have been initiated. If you’ve had training in JKD, Sifu Kevin’s books can be used as a memory aid (I’m sure his books are much more organized than your notebook) where you can grab a technique, principle or drill, allowing you to work what you already know, getting expert coaching from the text as you do.

For those who go to seminars or have a teacher, you’ll be able to pull out things you’d like to work on and ask about the material, or to ask them to demonstrate. You can’t hunt down information that you don’t know exists.

The book can be used as an introduction to the principles of JKD, lighting a fire within you, pushing you to seek qualified instruction. And finally, for those who study fighting systems, and other styles of martial arts, you’ll be able to pull out drills and concepts that you can work into your respective martial art’s structure, enhancing your training.

This second volume not only builds on the physical foundations of the first, with topics like advanced footwork, defensive structure, and physical development, but also expounds on the principles, psychology, and philosophy of the well-rounded fighter and martial artist.

Sifu Kevin Seaman’s Jun Fan Gun Fu: Seeking the Path of Jeet Kune Do 2 is a worthy sequel to the first volume, a compressive reference guide, and highly recommended for all fighters and martial artists. You’ll find it a welcome addition to your martial arts library, and a working reference that won’t gather dust.

Review of Hank Schwaeble’s Angel of the Abyss

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on October 31, 2016 by David North-Martino

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Hank Schwaeble’s Jake Hatcher is back in his third novel, The Angel of the Abyss. As always, and just like his short fiction, Schwaeble crafts a rollicking good tale that will keep you turning the pages.

The beginning of this tale has Hatcher facing a demon, although it’s more complicated than that, giving Hatcher time to exercise his sarcastic wit. Fans of Supernatural and Ash vs. the Evil Dead will definitely appreciate the humor.

The mood becomes more serious and dire in the second act. The middle of the book, unlike many writers who get bogged down at this point, is where Schwaeble really shines. He does a great job writing from the perspective of Amy, Jake’s true love, who is also a former cop. I actually enjoyed Amy’s scenes even more than Hatcher’s. The two of them fight like the proverbial married couple, of which, I’m sure, many readers will be able to relate.

Schweable also does a fine job of taking on the perspective of a young boy. We meet the boy while he’s in a precarious situation, and we know from the beginning that the boy will converge with Hatcher and Amy at some point in the story. I won’t spoil it for you, but I think you’ll be racing to the end to find out what happens.

Hatcher’s past is constantly catching up with him, complicating things, and fans of the series will get some closure on events that were set up in the previous volumes. New readers can start here; Hank does a great job of bringing you into Hatcher’s world. You won’t feel left out or confused.

The last third of the book builds up to a hellish crescendo leaving this reader wanting more. There are questions left unanswered, promising a fourth book in this popular series. The Angel of the Abyss has it all: likable characters, demons, black magic, possession, secret military installations, cults, and lots of action. If you want a story to get you in the mood for Halloween and beyond, pick up The Angel of the Abyss. You won’t be disappointed. Highly recommended.

Review of American Nocturne

Posted in Horror, Kindle, Noir, Reviews, Short Stories on July 25, 2016 by David North-Martino

American Nocturne

Hank Schwaeble delivers the goods in this collection of short noir fiction. Each story is compelling and masterfully crafted. There isn’t a bad story in the bunch. Plus you get to read the amazing introduction by Jonathan Maberry.

Here are some of my favorites:

American Nocturne – A dime store detective attempts to solve the most baffling case of his life. This tale will leave you questioning reality.

Midnight Bogey Blues – How do you get rid of a boogeyman? Read this story and find out. You might not like the answer, but you’ll enjoy reading it.

Gomorrah – A story about the darker side of destiny. An initiation ritual gone wrong leads a participant down a very dark path.

Bone Daddy – This twisted tale goes into very dark territory. Made me feel a little queasy while reading it. A guilty pleasure for sure.

Phantom Hill – A weird western with a unique and compelling twist.

A Murmur of Evil – Who doesn’t like an officially sanctioned Kolchak: The Night Stalker novella?

Nurture – The argument between nature vs. nurture played out literarily and in the darkest sense. A bleak and disturbing tale with just a touch of politically incorrect humor.

There’s plenty more to enjoy. I can’t recommend this collection enough. Absolutely fantastic! If you like noir, have at it. You won’t be disappointed.

Buy american Nocturne here.