Dreamspinner Press, Eric Arvin

Eric Arvin’s Woke Up in a Strange Place Is A Life After Life Adventure

To die will be an awfully big adventure. – Aristotle

Imagine, if you will, standing upon the banks of a lazy river, its surface a cool and contemplative deception that masks the roiling current tumbling below. You wade into its deceptive stillness, unaware of and unprepared for what lies beneath, an unknown variable that, in its depth and power, sweeps you off your feet and carries you to the beyond, a traveler on its every whim, helpless to do anything more than succumb to it, leaving you at the mercy of its will.

This is exactly what reading Woke Up In a Strange Place was like for me, drifting along on a river of words that flowed at once serenely then became turbulent in their emotional depths. Eric Arvin sat down in front of a computer one day and began to tell a story, opening a floodgate of imagery so museful and inspired that it lured me in, in all its subtle tranquility, and then drew me under, setting me adrift on an unexpected journey that transported me to a place far, far from where I’d begun, a place that is other and exists just beyond the veil of “I am”, in a place we may know as “I was”.

Imagine, if you will, that we are little more than souls inhabiting a temporary shelter, traveling on an endless journey that loops in a continuum of beginnings, the sort of beginnings that lead us down a path once traveled then forgotten that must be traveled then remembered before we can begin again. The journey will take you through a Neverland of wondrous and impossible possibilities, an Elysian Field where each station of the course is laid out in a carefully constructed relief map of the unexpected, where those who are expecting the unexpected watch and wait in remembrance of us.

Joe has set out upon this journey through his own Avalon, chasing his life in death through snippets of memory until the moment he will reach the thing closest to a heaven only he can claim as his own. Only, Heaven is closed for business…or, is it?…in this through-the-looking-glass adventure, in this searching of souls where a man discovers that the pride in all his battles in life have built the strength that leads him to a love of lifetimes.

Over land and water and through the skies, Joe will encounter places of grief and regret, of seduction and salvation, of mystery and revelation, places of grace and of love, and faith and forgiveness. It is the place called the Eternal Second, the place where mythology meets the poetic, and where Joe will search for The Stranger he knows so well but can’t yet remember, not until he relives time and time and time again.

Woke Up In a Strange Place is a story of death and rebirth, of destiny and second chances, like an ambling journey through a long and winding poem written in perfect symmetry and rhythm, a visual journey sketched on the mind’s eye of halcyon days and a tempest of moments that have served to build a man from beginning to end to beginning again.

I love this book, love it with everything there is to love about storytelling and wordsmithing and imagination and speculation about what lies beyond for us all. It is personal but not only to the author. It is personal to each and every one of us who is willing to read and examine our beliefs of what happens once we shuffle off this mortal coil, but it is not a story of what happens after we die.

This is a story of what happens after we’ve lived.

The book is subliminal and it is sublime, and if you haven’t read it yet, I can’t recommend highly enough that you do, and soon.

Reviewed by: Lisa

You can buy Woke Up in a Strange Place here:

Erin Lark, Loose Id

When Happily-Ever-After Takes On New Meaning – His Heart to Reap by Erin Lark

Though lovers be lost, love shall not; And death shall have no dominion. – Dylan Thomas

Some people are blessed to pass from this mortal coil with the knowledge that their lives have been lived with purpose and can be celebrated without regrets when the end comes. But sometimes the journey from this world to the next gets waylaid by things left unfinished, things left unsaid…loves left unclaimed. For those souls, there is a place called limbo—the space that exists between life and the ascension—where the troubled soul resides until it can make peace with whatever it is that’s keeping it tethered to the in between.

Aiden Scott has lived in limbo for years, so long, in fact, that he’s made a career out of being a reaper, a counselor to the recently deceased who helps those who’ve just crossed over to come to terms with their deaths and then helps them attempt to find the closure they need to move beyond the state of flux in which they currently abide. It is a state of perpetual motion in which Aiden has become stagnant, not quite ready to put a name to what it is that keeps him from experiencing his own ascension, not quite happy in the lonely existence carved out for him by virtue of that inertia, not quite convinced that confession will be entirely good enough for his soul to move on.

But, then even in death, it seems some have a purpose far less ordinary than to follow the preordained path to what lies beyond.

When Brandon Jamison arrives in limbo, to say that Aiden is shocked is a bit of an understatement. He and Brandon had met in elementary school, and though their friendship had taken a brief intermission in junior high, they’d drifted back together in high school and had remained close until Aiden’s death. But that’s all they ever were to each other—friends—because neither had ever confessed to the other that he was gay, nor did they ever speak of the attraction they’d felt for each other. Life was about wasted time and squandered opportunities. And sadly, it appears as if they may be doomed to repeat that history, even in death.

Some people live a purpose driven life. Aiden and Brandon live a purpose driven death, and Erin Lark has written a sweet and sexy, and sometimes heart-tugging little story about sacrifices and second chances filled with universal truths about the power of forgiveness and of the grasping hold of happiness at each and every opportunity, because you never know if it might be your last.

It’s a story of compassion that begets healing, and of the healing that begets fulfillment and achieves the ultimate joy in the midst of the life that happens after…well…life. It’s a story that suggests it’s not at all how one dies that matters, but, rather, how one lived that truly accounts for who one becomes in the ever-after, and I liked it very much.

You can buy His Heart to Reap here: