“Ever Rest” by Roz Morris

Book Review

I just finished reading Ever Rest, Roz Morris’ new novel due out June 3, 2021 (available for preorder). A fantastic read! Below is my Goodreads review of this literary book club treat.

Roz is the author of two previous novels — My Memories of a Future Life and Life Form Three — as well as the memoir Not Quite Lost and the book for writers Nail Your Novel. Besides being a writing coach and instructor, she’s a ghostwriter for bestselling authors.

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Ever Rest by Roz Morris is the kind of book you sink into and emerge from in a state of wonder. This beautifully written story steeped in the majesty of music and mountains is balanced on the riveting concept of a rock star, whose presumed death after an accident while climbing Mt. Everest, casts a years-long pall over the many lives he touched when young and famous.

Twenty years after Ash’s disappearance, his former girlfriend, Elza, a once young and beautiful dancer, is now an artist whose boyfriend has little concept of the celebrity that continues to follow her as fans worldwide keep her former lover’s memory alive. Ash’s bandmate, Hugo, the musical genius behind the duo known as Ashbirds, is the man who talked Ash into climbing Everest. Now he’s a climbing guide who eschews fame and wealth.

Following these people, along with and another five characters on the periphery of Ash’s inner circle, creates a wonderful tension akin to that evoked by Daphne du Maurier “Rebecca,” where the once grand lady of the manor continues to rule with the power of a ghost ever-present in the lives of those who walk beneath her portrait. While not as dark as that classic novel, this story captures that sense of purgatory where each discovery of a corpse on Everest reignites passions about the idol’s death while disrupting the lives of those closest to him.

The question quickly becomes, will the now forever enshrined by tragedy and mystery rock star ever really rest and give the living peace? Hence the brilliant title that creates foreboding as the pressure builds with every new body found on the famous mountain; a threat of avalanche exacerbated by an eccentric investor who wants to draw Hugo back into the rock scene and see the Ashbirds live on.

The story seamlessly moves amongst the viewpoints of the various characters while producing prose that brings the narrative alive with rich, authentic details and sensory descriptions that convince you you’re in the room with these people, whose lives, and demons, are so real.

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An essay about fear — its affect on humans and who uses it and why — just published in Spill It!

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A Plan in Case of Morning: Prize and Review

by Phill Provance

Coming Sept. 29, 2020, preorder

I received an advanced reader copy (ARC) of veteran poet Phill Provance’s first full-length collection. I was immediately delighted with the book, which amounts to a meaty, accessible memoir of a man’s life written via poetry. Fascinating!

Though I read poetry almost every day, most people are leery of the form, believing poetry to be too high-brow and only for those who’ve taken courses in that realm. That’s absolutely wrong-headed, in my opinion, and neither does the anonymous donor who’s putting up $10,000 to the winner of a contest for this book that runs from now until April.

A journalist by training, to me the deal sounded too good to be true. So I got confirmation from Vine Leaves Press, which will publish Provance’s book Sept. 29, 2020. Apparently a benefactor who loves the poet’s work believes the book deserves a wider audience, a hence began the contest that will end April 16. The promotion states a winner will be chosen from those who do the following:

  • publicly post a selfie on Instagram or Facebook
  • along with a person you consider to be a hero (I assume this means either stating who your hero is or posting a photo of the person if you have one)
  • a favorite line from Phill’s book
  • and the hashtag #APlanInCaseOfMorning

What an amazing opportunity for the poet and his work to help convince more readers that poetry is for everyone and should be embraced with joy, rather than trepidation.

To do my part in encouraging more regular consumption of poetry, I’m posting the review I wrote for Goodreads. Whether you win the $10,000 or not, I hope you enjoy this collection as much as I did.

Review

Phill Provance’s new poetry collection, A Plan in Case of Morning, is truly a fast-changing landscape of emotion riding on varying currents of form.

Just as sculptors and other fine artists allow ideas to choose their medium, so Provance allows each poem to choose its own pace, rhythm and tone to best express the impassioned flow with an end clarity that’s eminently satisfying. In subject matter, Provance flies us around the world, both literally and proverbially, as we visit times and places in his life and within his heart.

That mix of shifting fluidity, instinctual word choice and unpretentious honesty — sometimes gentle, sometimes melancholic, often brutal — make this collection a swift ride you want to prolong.

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Preorder Winter Light, due out Oct. 6, 2020

For a full list of my book launch events, visit my website.

In the Fullness of Time

I was happy to receive an advance copy of this book. I was even happier to truly appreciate the author’s restraint when it comes to telling vs. showing.

I’m not a fan of books that explicitly tell me everything, which implies I’m too stupid to figure things out for myself. Carolyn R. Russell, on the other hand, doesn’t make that mistake in this new YA dystopian thriller, In the Fullness of Time. Instead, she has confidence in the intelligence of her young readers and drops them into the States — a filthy, overpopulated urban environment — right behind the story’s teen protagonist, 17-year-old Somerset, where they have to fend for themselves just as she does.

The slang and terms used immediately create a sense of claustrophobia, both physically and emotionally. In this world, only the children of the elite go to school, where they’re fed propaganda. Somerset is one of the few who reads the “old-timey flatbooks” from the Lost Ages to learn how the world could have changed so drastically. She’s also one of the few who has access to Hydracomputers. She’s afforded such privilege because she’s one of the privileged, a status she despises.

The only hope of getting fresh air in this chokingly-controlled society is for Somerset to follow the trail of mysteries that begins on the first page when she snatches up a little girl who falls amongst the street masses and is almost trampled. By showing such compassion for innocence, and such intolerance for the few privileged at the top, Somerset reveals the bravery and independent spirit of a true hero.

Wearing her clerical robes, Somerset clandestinely performs acts of rebellion with her antiauthoritarian friends. With every action she takes and every questions she asks, she forges ahead to expose the government’s criminal acts, both in relation to the masses’ cheap food source, ‘Brix, and the mysterious means of Revving, an act the government bills as a spiritual transformation and that Somerset suspects leads to a much darker outcome.

At some point I plan to write a book about showing vs. telling, probably the trickiest aspect of writing anything. When I do, I’ll call upon such examples of how to respect readers’ intelligence.

Happy writing!

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Conscious: A Brief Guide to the Fundamental History of the Mind

I woke up this morning dreaming about a book I finished three weeks ago. That’s the highest praise I can give a book, to still be contemplating the ideas within the text long after I’ve finished. That’s the case with Conscious: A Brief Guide to the Mystery of the Mind by Annaka Harris, a consultant to science writers who specializes in neuroscience and physics. The book offers concepts you’ll chew on for a long time, and rather than in the laborious way of gnaw on gristle, what Harris serves up is a trippy feast I had to step away from occasionally, then rejoin, to make sure I got the full flavor of dishes far outside anything I’ve had before.

Comfort food, this is not!

All of that, yet the book is only about a hundred pages. That’s because, as Harris explains, while scientists have launched forward in the study of how the brain works, especially in the last decade, there are few experiments on human consciousness. Why? Because consciousness is so hard to grasp. What is it? Where does it reside? In the brain? A gene? Did consciousness evolve, so that after billions of beta versions, humans get the honor of running the official first release of the software? Or has consciousness always existed and we humans are simply incapable of getting our heads around the fact we share a commonality with other matter, but experience the feature in a different way? Are we really behaving out of free will born of consciousness, or are our actions at the mercy of a parasite, bacteria or other life form that needs us to do something so that it can continue to exist?

Perhaps the best question, though, is the one Harris asks in the book’s first paragraph:

Why would any collection of matter in the universe be conscious?

As a writer, I love these questions because I’ve never felt humans are the top bananas in the universe and love the idea of other forms of consciousness. I’m also a huge science buff and am not scared by explorations that question the idea of souls and humans’ place in the universe and other questions our specie grapples with. Even so, certain theories put forth in the book — especially those relating to our concept of time — had me holding my head in complete inability to imagine the theory or implication.

Which is exactly why I’ll encourage you to read the book. Taste a little, step back, clear your palate, then taste a little more. Then consider allowing the ideas to shift your world view — your universal view — because that’s what such books are meant to do: push humans farther down the celestial road.

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I’ll provide you with updates about my newest book, Winter Light, forthcoming Oct. 6, 2020, by Vine Leaves Press. As a thank you, I’ll give you a FREE excerpt of my first novel, The Wind Thief!

I look forward to hearing from you!

The Rich Inner World of Asperger’s

My sister and I believe my dad, now deceased, had Asperger’s Syndrome (AS), a largely hereditary form of high-functioning autism in which people function within a socially acceptable norm, but have a neurological disconnect that messes with their ability to communicate with others at a fundamental level. In Pretending to be Normal, Liane Holliday Willey describes what it’s like to be AS, and to such a deep degree the reader can’t help but be absorbed into the confusing, perilous world where she fought daily to understand and be understood until coming to terms with who she is.

The memoir takes readers through Willey’s youth, marriage and birth of three daughters. When her six-year-old is diagnosed with AS, the author realizes she’s neurologically atypical, too. Rather than dark, her beautifully-written story is filled with light, insight and encouragement about a condition that affects millions of people worldwide:

No matter the hardships, I do not wish for a cure to Asperger’s Syndrome. What I wish for, is a cure for the common ill that pervades too many lives,; the ill that makes people compare themselves to a normal that is measured in terms of perfect and absolute standards, most of which are impossible for anyone to reach. I thik it would be far more productive and so much more satisfying to live according to a new set of ideals that are anchored in far more subjective criteria, the fluid and the affective domains of life, the stuff of wonder… curiosity…creativity…invention…originality. Perhaps then, we will all find peace and joy in one another.

A professor of psycholinguistics and learning style differences, Willey seeks to educate people who don’t have AS so they’ll be more accepting. The author also includes tips for success for AS when they go to college, look for jobs and establish a home. Then Willey finishes the book with a long list of resources and organizations and a glossary of terms.

For those readers who loved to be pulled into another life, world or universe, this book is for you!

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SUBSCRIBE to my newsletter and get a Free novel excerpt!

I’ll provide you with updates about my newest book, Winter Light, forthcoming Oct. 6, 2020, by Vine Leaves Press. As a thank you, I’ll give you a FREE excerpt of my first novel, The Wind Thief!

I look forward to hearing from you!