Book Review: Above All Men by Eric Shonkwiler

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Years from now, America is slowly collapsing. Crops are drying up and oil is running out. People flee cities for the countryside, worsening the drought and opening the land to crime. Amid this decay and strife, war veteran David Parrish fights to keep his family and farm together. However, the murder of a local child opens old wounds, forcing him to confront his own nature on a hunt through dust storms and crumbling towns for the killer.

In Above All Men, Shonkwiler thrusts us into the future, but not the kind of future you might expect, yet one that is painfully possible. The economy has collapsed. The landscape isn’t lush and healthy. Life isn’t filled with ridiculous gadgetry, as one might expect to encounter in a far off version of our now.  Instead, the unfortunate inhabitants of our tomorrow are forced to live a worse-off version of life than their long-ago ancestors once did. And the desperation which plagues this future is deliciously palpable and drips off the page, dances its way right into our hands and our hearts. And for as hard as times might be for our main character, David Parrish, the words which are used to tell this story are anything but. Page after page, you’ll quickly find yourself immersed into one of the most beautifully and artfully crafted tales about courage and strength and the power of resilience. It takes an author of real talent to tell a tale that is filled with a lot of ugly and make it anything but. And that’s what Shonkwiler is – an author of immense talent.

Above All Men now resides on my list of top reads of my lifetime. If you like your fiction more real than not and you’re a fan of magnificent literature, you’ll want, no, need to pick up a copy.

Available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Eric Shonkwiler has had writing appear in the Los Angeles Review of Books, The Millions, Fiddleblack, [PANK] Magazine, ed2383dd5d4e0a7f023591.L._V361843851_SY470_and Midwestern Gothic. He was born and raised in Ohio, received his MFA from The University of California at Riverside, and has lived and worked in every contiguous U.S. timezone. Above All Men is his first novel.

Connect with Eric on Facebook, his website, and follow him on Twitter.

Writing Prompt #20 ~ Stormy Weather

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The ground rumbled beneath his feet and his body trembled from the bitter air which danced violently around him. The sky was dark except for the intermittent flashes, when the bony fingertips of the heavens reached down to stroke the parched earth below…

As always, if this prompt leads to a story, do come back and share a link with us.

Happy Writing!

Interview with the Amazing Buddy Gott

Mark your calendars!  Tonight at 9:30 PM EST, the wonderful and amazing Buddy Gott is going to interview me on his fabulous writing show, Buddy’s Writing Show!  You all will finally be able to see me talk and move!  Pretty exciting stuff, I know.  If you watch the show live, you will have an opportunity to comment, so, yes, you will be able to drop by and tell me how amazing and awesome I am.  Plus, you’ll get to see me attempt to not flirt with the host (who is the love of my life).  It should be an entertaining evening all around :)

In any event, the show can be accessed by clicking HERE.  I hope to *see* you all there!

For those of you who are not yet familiar with Buddy, let me introduce you:

64575_10202510344707453_217292487_nBuddy is a native Delawarean (did I spell that right?), a fiction writer, a pop culture junkie, and a host of two shows on YouTube.  Buddy is a smart, sweet, and funny guy all writers and artists should connect with.  Buddy’s debut novel, I Was A Teenage Amish Vampire, will be published this year.

Buddy can be found on his website, YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook.  He also co-hosts Sunday Night Fiction Club with the lovely and talented Melissa Lummis.  Stop by and say hello.

My Everything

WP_20140216_031 (1)I sit at water’s edge
the waves lapping at my feet
the beauty all around me
and my heart does skip a beat
the sun is shining brightly
the clouds big and white
but it is not this natural wonder
which causes me delight
in everything I experience
and everything I see
my thoughts they only think of
all that we will be
you are my sun and moon light
my breath, my heart, my soul
and with you by my side
I am finally whole

He’s the One

I sit and watch him type. See the excitement in his eyes when he sneaks a peek at me when he thinks I’m not looking.  When he thinks I’m busy typing something else, reading something else.  But I’m sitting here thinking about him. About us. About all that we are and will be. And I smile. He thinks the emotion on my face is from this story I’m supposed to be making up. But how can I possibly make something up when we’re living the most magnificent story ever written.

I love him so much.

I stare at the blank page and the cursor dances, laughs.  But I have the last laugh.  My eyes see something other than emptiness, they see all the beauty and all the possibility in the world.  They see him.

He laughs at the story on his screen.  I turn and sneak a peek at him when I think he’s not looking, when he’s busy typing. He sings softly, “I’m lost in emotion,” and rocks in his seat.  Takes a quick drag on his cigarette and then glances at me again. I can tell in this quick moment he’s thinking about us. About all that we are and will be.  And he smiles.

He loves me so much.

I realize in this moment how far past wanting I’ve come. No longer something I’m merely interested in.  He is a need. He is the nourishment I never knew my soul required. I’ll starve without him.

And just like that, this comes to life before me. A sample of “us” lives on this screen. And I copy it, paste it on my website, caring only if one pair of eyes reads it. So he can quickly arrive at the end. And he sees this: I love you with all my heart and I’ll never stop.

Happy New Year, Updates, and a Free Book!

Happy New Year! I figured it was a good time to update all you lovelies on what exactly my craziness has been up to, as well as what you can expect to (hopefully!) see from me this year.WP_20140105_003

As many of you know, my educational pursuits took a good chunk of my free time (as well as my sleeping time) this past year.  Because of that, my muse became very irritated, packed her bags, and the bitch headed to Ireland, refusing to come back until I’d learned to manage my schedule a little better.

I basically just about burned myself out trying to juggle 886 things at once and last fall stepped back from everything for a few months to regroup, relax, learn to live a little, date some (oh my… the stories!), and contemplate where I was with life and where I’d like to go.

School starts up again next week, but this time, I’m taking a much more rational approach to the amount of coursework I’m taking on.  I’ve devised a writing plan to make sure my creativity does not suffer from my studies, and, most importantly, I’ve joined a few social groups to make sure I remember to, you know, stop and smell the roses too.

So…

I’m happy to report, Samantha (my muse), returned home just before the Holidays, and BOY has she been keeping me busy!!  I’m currently in the process of rewriting and editing Ugly Beautiful, which I hope to have out by this summer, as well as toggling back and forth between two WIPs, Shit You Need to Read, which is a comedy about an unemployed, nearly middle-aged writer who struggles to find his way, and Where the Sidewalk Ends, a novel inspired by my very own boss, which follows the story of a successful lawyer who learns what it’s like to say goodbye to a 35-year career and hello to the last quarter of his life.

I am also working on FINALLY catching up on some reading and reviews that I owe so, so, so many wonderful writers who shared their magnificent words with me.

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In celebration of this New Year, my anthology of short fiction and poetry is ON SALE for FREEEEEE until this Saturday.  You can snag your copy here.

What are your plans for 2014?