GRAVITAS: VALKYRIE IN THE FORBIDDEN ZONE

My new short novel, Gravitas: Valkyrie in the Forbidden Zone is now available. Plus a FREE story: Valkyrie in the Demon Realm!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

A Cool Week so far! Reviews of Gravitas, Basking in the Spotlight!

This has been quite a week. And it's only Wednesday, Jessica Wren cast a spotlight on Gravitas and on Facebook she also mentioned the free short story! Happily basking in the light! Jessica her review began by saying:

Have you ever traveled to a foreign country? If so, do you remember how different it felt, and some of the local customs felt strange? Imagine visiting a foreign planet. In Lynne’s Murray’s novel Gravitas: Valkyrie in the Forbidden Zone, which is a science-fiction comedy with just the right amount of erotica, Val-Sybilla (better known as Sybil) finds herself in that very situation.

While making a trip to transport a shipment of “Gravitas,” a powerful aphrodisiac within the Ritual Jewelry that the powerful women of the planet Valkyries wear, she and her companions stop at a market, where, to her horror, she finds her first (and favorite) husband Josu, chained and being offered for sale. Determined to find out the truth about what happened to Josu, she enters a ritualistic meditation state to conjure up the three (very interesting and diverse) “demons” who live in her head. When her meditation is interrupted by Gelbraves, a loutish delegate from a rival planet, they both, along with Josu, fall into a portal that makes them crash-land in the Forbidden Zone (known to us as “Earth.”

The whole review is at Spotlight: Lynne Murray

Monday, a great review of Gravitas from The Reading Bud made me feel validated. We all endure the bad reviews but when someone says, "I loved the cover, I beginning/the end," it is massively encouraging, and courage is essential to live the writing life!

But enough about me. Yesterday, I was able to cast some light from a Body Impolitic blog post on Joseph P. Eckhardt's Living Large, the story of little-known silent film star, Wilna Hervey, and her life partner of 59 years Nan Mason.

I explain in the blog post how I went on a quest to find Wilna Hervey, and found the just-published biography of the woman who made many silent films as The Powerful Katrinka. The book is charming, as witness this "discovered by the moviemaker" scene--take that Lana Turner, famously "discovered" sipping a soda in a Hollywood ice cream parlor. Could she lift a trolley car?

Wilna Hervey would long remember the interview in New York that changed her life. She arrived at her agent’s office to find him engaged in conversation with another man, who was impatiently pacing up and down. As Wilna entered the room, the pacing stopped and the man looked up. “My God!” he exclaimed. “She is the original Katrinka!”Expressing his astonishment—and delight—was the noted cartoonist Fontaine Fox, creator of the Toonerville Trolley cartoons, which were then syndicated in several hundred newspapers around the country. One of the most popular of Fox’s inventions was the character of Powerful Katrinka, a massive young woman of superhuman strength, and limited mental range, who was capable of lifting the trolley off the tracks. … Properly casting this role was essential to the success of the proposed Toonerville films. The actress needed to be enormous and very strong, as not all of the feats of strength would be sight gags.

Monday, July 13, 2015

A great review of Gravitas from The Reading Bud!

This wonderful review from Heena Rathore made my day--well, okay, my week. It looks a lot more elegant on The Reading Bud site.

Rating

Story/Plot:

I loved the plot of this amazing novella. It has a really, really unique concept of having a planet where women dominate men and they undertake several husbands to look after the estate and home affairs. Lynne Murray successfully created a unique world that is both believable and marvellous. It’s uniqueness really stood out and I was longing to be able to visit this wondrous place (but only if they’ll allow a human from earth to visit their planet!)

I loved the attention she paid to all the small details. Everything sounded so beautiful and real. The concept of humans worshiping the alien visitors was hilarious and interesting, I mean what if the world in the book is really ‘real’! God, that will be amazing!

The over all structure of the book is great and it keeps you glued to the book from staring to end.

Characters:

I absolutely loved Val-Sybilla (a Valkyrian.) She is the strongest and the most independent female leads I’ve ever read. She is beautiful in her own way and I love this about her. The second character I loved in this book is Gelbrave. Initially I hated him but the author worked up her magic in showing his growth in the story. By the end I found him to be extremely humble and adorable.

Rest of the characters were also amazing and I was able to feel a connection with each one of them.

Romance:

There was a lot of romance, or should I say, Gravitas propelled lust. Sybil carried around huge amount of Gravitas with her in a ritual jewellery and it made people get attracted to her sexually. So everyone kind of wanted to take her. But, the relationship between Josu and Sybil was beautiful. It was a true-love relationship and I loved the fact that he always supported her.

Writing:

Lynne Murray’s writing is beautiful. It’s subtle and had an easy flow to it. I was lost in the story as soon as I started reading it. No complicated sentence-structures and no unnecessary tongue twisting words – just perfect.

At some points her subtle sense of humour made me laugh. It was a great experiences and for a novella, this book is amazing. Not too long, not too short, just the right length.

Beginning:

I loved the beginning, the first chapter started right in between a complex situation (as you can guess from the first line, see below) and then the author explains how they got there and then later picks up from there and tells what happens after that first scene. The structure of this books is so amazing that it’ll grip you right from the first page.

Ending:

The ending is perfect. It had the right amount of drama, action, emotions and logic. I enjoyed it and it made me smile broadly after finishing the book.

Cover Art:

I love the cover art. It’s stylish and beautiful. And the red hair girl goes well with the description on Sybil. The colors on the cover really stand out. It’s one of the two reasons I read this book.

Blurb:

The blurb is intriguing and is the second reason for me to accept this book for review.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

A Book Trailer & Preview of My Review About a Lost Powerful Film Heroine

I'm getting ready to review a biography of Living Large: Wilna Hervey and Nan Mason by Joseph P. Eckhardt. Earlier I sought out fat women in film and they are disappointingly few and far between, as I discussed on a Body Impolitic post. Nobody Loves a Fat Woman on Film.

This was so unlike the rich group of fat male character actors in film. at least there were enough big guys in film history that film critic, Dana Gioia invited them to a mythical banquet

I like to imagine these hefty heroes gathering in the afterlife. The feasting hall of their B-budget Valhalla is the original Wilshire Boulevard Brown Derby secretly rescued by Valkeries from the wrecking-ball. As they file in (to the accompaniment of Miklos Rozsa's "Bread and Circus March" from Ben Hur) for porterhouse steaks and lobsters thermador, cherries jubilee and baked Alaska...

No such banquet for the women.

And yet, and yet... By a wildly unpredictable path (which I'll describe in the review) I found out about Wilna Hervey. Seriously how could I have missed her? In a coincidence worthy of Carl Jung's synchronicity, I discovered that Wilna Hervey and her life partner Nan Mason are the subjects of a loving biography.

check out the trailer for Living Large, it got me a bit misty-eyed. More to come in my review on Body Impolitic soon!

Lovely trailer for Living Large

Friday, June 19, 2015

Gravitas Showcased on The Virtual Bookshelf

I've loved books (and bookshelves!) for as long as I can remember. I'm particularly happy to see Gravitas in the spotlight on The Virtual Bookshelf!

Thanks to Glynis Smy for allowing me to unwrap some of my favorite Reviews in her virtual space! Though she's in the UK, in the seaside town of Dovercourt~Harwich and I'm on the oceanside edge of San Francisco in the US. Different oceans notwithstanding, the internet makes us neighbors!

Reviews:

Reading this Lynne Murray book is like being a kid in a candy shop. Sure, she can weave a thrilling story line, but she also makes you feel as if you can indulge your dreams and fantasies about living in a different, much more delightful world. Read the book. It is more fun than eating chocolate while sipping wine. Frannie Zellman, author of The FatLand Trilogy

Escape to the outer reaches of space….and San Francisco…in this intriguing thrill ride of a tale that had me hooked from the first page. I was on the edge of my seat and reading on to see what would happen next. I truly did not want it to end, and am hoping there is a sequel that I can get my hands on as soon as it comes out! Tracey L. Thompson, author of Fatropolis A Novel

If you like Terry Pratchett, you’ll enjoy Lynne Murray, who blends social issues, fantastic worlds and humor in breathtaking stories! Jaqueline Girdner, author the bestselling Kate Jasper mystery stories

Murray hurls the reader into her story and her universe, with links to daily reality, which make it seem more possible. The strong-minded protagonist displays Murray’s trademark flashes of wit. Well imagined and thought provoking!” Leslie Moïse, Ph.D., author of Judith and Love Is the Thread

Monday, June 15, 2015

Happily interviewed at Little Birdy Blog!

Snippet from Little Birdy Blog interview--

LBBB: How do you come up with ideas for your stories?

L.M.: I like to turn situations upside down when I write. For example, Gravitas: Valkyrie in the Forbidden Zone stemmed partly from a Carl Jung book called Flying Saucers, where he suggests that the UFO craze is an example of a religion being formed in front of our eyes. That led me to think, "What if the people of Earth have been doing this for thousands of years, creating a new religion every time they run into alien tourists?" I also liked the idea of a heroine who comes from a planet where women are expected, indeed required, to have several husbands.

More at Little Birdy Book Blog

Friday, June 12, 2015

Update: Blood Tide Snuffs Candle--Moth Unharmed

I have to follow up on the post last week, where I whined what about being powerless before the elegance of ABC's television series Hannibal. I'm still liking Aquarius, the Flower-Power-Meets-Noir-Police-Procedural show that airs just before it. But last night's episode of Hannibal restored my critical faculties. I still watched it only in snippets, but the opening sequence was bizarre in a way that helped me get some distance, to see what bothered me about the thing.

It begins with long-suffering (and I mean that literally) FBI agent Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) almost mortally wounded by Lecter. This may have happened more than once over the earlier two seasons, but I seriously don't care. I think it was a dream sequence, but again, who cares? I couldn't help thinking about a quote about Titus Andronicus (maybe from Margaret Webster's Shakespeare Without Tears) "When the stage direction reads, 'Enter a messenger with two heads,' the reader can be forgiven for wondering if he's carrying them or wearing them."

Lecter holding a knife, slashes a girl's neck, also fatally wounds a stag and, of course, Graham. Then he asks for Graham's forgiveness. For what? Oh, so many things. Then blood flows from oh, so many donors. The tidal wave of blood gets deep enough that Will, helplessly wounded, sinks into it as if into a swimming pool.

What is it with magical realism and blood tidal waves? I'm no expert, but I've seen blood flowing on occasion, and it clots pretty fast unless there's hemophilia or blood thinning chemical present. However, watching Will Graham submerge in a lake of blood brought home the point to me: the blood is filmed as if it had the liquidity of wine or possibly paint, i.e., visually prettier than actual gore, although plenty of more authentic looking gore coated the actors as well.

It was blood porn. The pornification of blood (also suffering and pain). I was reminded of Cindy Gallop's insights in Make Love Not Porn on how hardcore pornographic video has created clichés and myths that have distorted an entire generation's actual experiences of sex and sensuality.

Similarly, the blood in Hannibal behaves like wine and the suffering that Hannibal inflicts on those around him is romanticized and prettified into a relationship, a dysfunctional bromance that glorifies the psychopathic killer as a hero. Oh, yeah and Graham forgives Hannibal at the end of the episode. Domestic violence mass murderer style.

It's like a conjuring trick, once you see how it's done you can't un-see it and I don't want to.

I'm now turning off masochistic anthems á la Billie Holiday's My Man ("He isn't good, he isn't true. He beats me too. What can I do?" Um, call 911? Get the hell out of there? Seek counseling?), and put on The Thrill Is Gone from B.B. King (RIP)

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Moth Meet Flame - Why I Can't Seem to Quit Psychopathic Killer Stories

I wrote this on June 5, 2015, but Thursday is one day away and Thursday is Psychopathic Murderer night on NBC. I had mixed emotions from my June 4th viewing.

I looked forward to Aquarius, which views Charles Manson's 1967 heyday through the eyes of a cynical Los Angeles cop and World War II veteran beautifully portrayed by David Duchovny.

As a '60s survivor, my own path to novel writing led out of the sex, dope & rock and roll world through the Raymond Chandler L.A. noir mystery stories. So it was not just the nostalgia of all that 1960s music that captivated me. With the mystical babble removed, Duchovny's assessment of Manson as a simple, garden-variety pimp and con artist was refreshing. Then after watching Aquarius, I found myself fluttering like a moth working a 12 step program backpedaling away from the much-promoted show that followed.

I feel both drawn toward and repelled Hannibal. It has been visually beautiful from the start, but I stopped watching during Season 1 for reasons shortly to be discussed. This season they upped the ante in the poker game of beauty.

The promos for Season 3 were stunningly evocative. One used an Edith Piaf vocal with a motorcycle trip past the Eiffel tower at night with leather-clad biker Mads Mikkelsen removing his helmet to say, "Bonjour." Announcing without further ado that the seductive bad boy had arrived. Another Hannibal trailer "Bride of Hannibal" used the 1967 hit song "Happy Together" by The Turtles to tie David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson together, even though Hannibal and Aquarius have no overlap and almost nothing in common aside the psycho killer theme and the fact that the two actors collaborated so memorably in The X-Files--which I loved.

I started out watching Hannibal in the first season because of the wonderful actors (Mikkelsen, Anderson, Hugh Dancy and Laurence Fishburne to name a few) and the sheer power of the images. That was part of the problem.

The subject matter so beautifully presented soon drove me away. Even elegantly done, I can only stand so much torture, murder and gourmet cannibalism.

So I consciously avoided the season premiere of Hannibal. I tried to distract myself watching an old rerun of Blue Bloods--a police procedural that could qualify as the "Anti-Hannibal." But I changed the channel back to Hannibal and then away again when the sadism and gore started to flow.

One phrase from the snippet I watched while channel surfing was Mikkelsen's remark to a fellow amoral fan of medieval torture devices: "Ethics becomes esthetics." I don't know. I'm struggling with this.

Beginning with the print versions, I have a troubled history with the works of Thomas Harris. I've been in discussion groups where his gory scenes are dissected frame by frame. On paper he is a skilled author, and his "Hannibal the cannibal" character is both compelling and disturbing. (Although my standard joke on the subject is that if Harris had named the character "Norman" he would have had to make him a Mormon.)

When I was picking up paperbacks carelessly I even accidentally read Harris's Red Dragon twice. I couldn't stop the second reading, even when I realized what I was doing and knew I was going to regret exposing myself to the images again. It bothered me for years.

A close friend who knows my sensibility advised me to stay away from The Silence of the Lambs. She probably remembered staying up with me till dawn after the night we watched Night of the Living Dead because I was too scared to be alone.

I did eventually read Silence of the Lambs during a period of angry depression as a kind of literary equivalent of Russian Roulette. I wouldn't do it again, but it wasn't as harrowing as I had expected. The female FBI agent as the central character helped.

One positive outcome was that I finally managed to quit Thomas Harris's print books for good. Reading the final chapter, I realized that the author had fallen in love with his psychopathic killer and lost whatever objectivity had previously existed. From that point on it was all about Hannibal, his evil genius and inevitable appetite for human flesh. To me it seemed clear that Harris saw his former ultra-villain as Everyman. Or maybe he just realized he'd struck a nerve and decided to keep hitting it. In any event, I hated it enough to stay away from future books.

The audience for this heroic psychopathic cannibal broadened immensely with Anthony Hopkins portrayal of Hannibal as the ultimate boogeyman in the movie. Eventually the killer "got the girl" and functioned as a romantic lead of sorts in the movie, Hannibal. The character's troubled youth is explored in the 2006 book and 2007 movie Hannibal Rising.

Hopkins portrayed Hannibal as the creepy, yet hypnotic predator. The television series uses charismatic actor, Mikkelsen to make the psychopathic killer seductively refined. His predator is connoisseur of unknown delights, smarter than everyone around him and infinitely more refined. It's his gourmet palate that demands human flesh and his inner sadist wants to do the butchery himself. To paraphrase Auntie Mame, his view is that life is a banquet and suckers with ethics don't know what they're missing.

I still mean to quit the TV series. Maybe the first step is to realize I am powerless in the face of dazzling artistry. Now where is that dang higher power when I need it? Maybe a candle-snuffer would do, or a TV remote and a strong dose of mental moral. Oh, no that never works, I'm doomed.