adobeDreams

Welcome to the adobeDreams blog of author Robert Burke.

"adobeDreams" is a fictitious bed & breakfast hotel located in Santa Fe, New Mexico, as featured in the novels, "adobeDreams: A Novel of Santa Fe," and "adobeDreams II: The End of Karma."

Parental advisory: The "adobeDreams" series contains mature themes and is intended for adult audiences. DISCLAIMER: The characters and events in "adobeDreams" are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.

adobeDreams: A Novel of Santa Fe

A young travel journalist searches Santa Fe, New Mexico, for adobeDreams, a bed and breakfast that doesn't appear on any map. Each step leads her deeper into a world of angels, demons, and an attraction she did not expect.

Paperback version available here: www.amazon.com

Amazon Kindle® e-book format: www.amazon.com

Also available in other ebook formats.

adobeDreams II: The End of Karma

The adventures of heroine Abigail Regan continue as her transformational abilities are coveted by a centuries-old succubus in Paris. Rayna, the master warrior, returns with her own deadly agenda, and Abigail is forced to choose sides in a battle that may impact the fate of mankind. Danger and betrayal block the way home to adobeDreams as Abigail must confront her past and master the bestial rage that threatens to destroy everyone around her.

Paperback version available here: www.amazon.com

Amazon Kindle® e-book format: www.amazon.com

Also available in other ebook formats.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Customer Reviews!

Customer reviews from the paperback version of "adobeDreams" at Amazon.

4.0 out of 5 stars Makes you think
Mr. Burke takes us on an adventure to a world we've never been. It is a journey of Super Heroines overcoming violence from past experiences and finding the strength to look their abusers in the eye letting them know "no more". The central character, Abigail, is there to take photographs of AdobeDreams for her travel guide, but finds much more. The picture Mr. Burke paints has many layers. His description of the landscape makes you feel like you have been to the places he describes and he also takes you to places you never want to go. This action adventure makes you appreciate the resiliency of women and their ability to keep going no matter the circumstance. I found myself wanting to know what happens to Abigail next!

5.0 out of 5 stars LOVED IT!
This is a fun, metaphysical sci-fi that is a fast and easy read for those with an open mind and a belief in infinite possibilities. Can't wait for the next journey.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Watermelon Salsa

The recipe for Watermelon Salsa as it appears in the novel:

2-cans Kuner’s No Salt Added Black Beans, drained
1-onion chopped
½ to 1 jalapeno, seeded, chopped
watermelon, diced (off season: use diced pineapple)
fresh cilantro
fresh lime(s)

Mix all together in a bowl. Squeeze lime juice over salsa. Serve with colorful tortilla chips and cold beer or margaritas [please drink responsibly]!

Book Club - Part 1 of 3

In late April I had the great privilege to meet members of a local book club who have read “adobeDreams.” It was something of a genre/demographic mismatch as only one member had previously read fantasy sci-fi, but valuable nonetheless. A ninety-minute discussion ensued with candid feedback from eight avid readers. My sincere thanks to Ann, Elaine, Jane, Kitty, Maureen, Nancy, Susan, and Tris for your time and hospitality! Note: Where more than one member responded to a question or comment, each member’s comment is shown within its own quotation marks.

WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD

Author: It’s funny, when you write a book and people know you, they tend to think the book is about you. Friends of my wife, for instance, read the book and then made a point of having lunch with her and asking, “Are you okay?” “What’s going on there?”

Book Club: “Do you beat your wife?” “Where is that scar [referencing the heroine’s scar from domestic abuse]?”

Author: Yes, exactly. And for me, what I think of, is as a kid my favorite author was Edgar Rice Burroughs. He wrote a series about John Carter of Mars. “A Princess of Mars” was the book I liked most. It was about this Civil War veteran who is out west and is pursued by hostile Indians. He runs into a cave to escape but then realizes there are strange vapors that paralyze him. The Indians come to the entrance but are afraid to enter and leave him to his fate. When he wakes he finds himself on Mars and has all these adventures. You know the author because he also wrote the “Tarzan” series. The odd thing about Edgar Rice Burroughs is that he never went to Africa. So he wrote all those “Tarzan” books without any direct experience. Presumably he never went to Mars, either. So you can write a lot of things, I think, without it being about you.

Book Club: “Just using a good imagination.” “’Cause you’ve never been a lesbian, right?” [Much laughter]

Author: No, not in this life. Maybe in another one, I don’t know. I kind of wondered, after reading the book, how many of you assumed the author was gay? Did you think that at all?

Book Club: “No.” “I was surprised it was a male who did the book.” “It’s like ‘Little Bee’ [one of the club’s previous books] had a male author.”

Author: One of the things some of our friends liked about ‘adobeDreams’ is the absence of superfluous details. So many books have so much background detail in them that you almost get tired of reading all of it. For example, I read Stieg Larsson’s “Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”—certainly a great book—but I got to, like, page 350 and I realized the story was just beginning.

Book Club: “Yes, there is a lot of detail in ‘Dragon Tattoo.’” “That’s right.” “The movie is very streamlined [compared to the book].” “I loved the movie.” “I’m not sure I would have understood the screenplay if I hadn’t read the book because the movie was so streamlined.”

Author: But for me, give me 350 pages and we’re going to go to the moon and come back. And I think part of that is that in my previous incarnation as an Information Technology manager, I did a lot of technical writing.

Book Club: When you write, you cut to the chase.

Author: Yes, I’m accustomed to communicating things as simply and directly as possible. And hopefully that’s the way I write fiction, too. Another thing people noted is the speed of Abigail’s transition from straight to gay. They thought it happened too fast.

Book Club: “Yeah, it was like, ‘Wait a minute!’” “It was way, way too fast.”

Author: I thought about that as I did rewrites, but I wanted that whole “Earth Paradise” thing—where they go back and experience life as Australopithecus “ape-girls”—to happen at the very beginning in order to get that kind of stuff rolling, and I also wanted that romantic encounter to happen immediately afterwards because they flowed so well together. So I really had to jump into it, and all of a sudden Abigail is smitten.

Book Club: “Yeah, you were very descriptive in your writing. You painted a good picture.” “Yeah, you really got into that scene.” [Laughter]

Author: Actually, I tried—as much as possible—to communicate the feeling rather than the mechanics.

Book Club: So you’re telling me this book is not a dream? I was thinking the whole story was a dream, that she dreamt the entire thing? Because, if not, then that blows my whole theory.

Author: No, it’s happening in “reality.”

Book Club: “Doesn’t the last page say she woke up, or something?” “Yeah, it did say something like that, that confirmed it was all a dream.”

Author: She woke up in Paris with Caroline. After the big battle at adobeDreams, they basically escaped to Paris. [Change of subject:] Was the book too violent for anyone?

Book Club: “I didn’t think so.” “Pulling the snakes out of his heart [scene where Lucifer first manifests] was frightening.”

Author: Yes, that was scary. And, actually, part of that was a true story [see answer to question 6 of the 15 Questions for Author Robert Burke article]. But the scariest part for me was writing the “Heart of Darkness” chapter that takes place in Africa. That scared the crap out of me—my heart was pounding as I wrote the chase sequence. Did it seem frightening to you?

Book Club: “It was a scary situation, with the people hiding out, afraid to be discovered by the troops, and then the troops came back.” “What was the deal with the gun? She was firing the gun and it ran out of ammo?”

Author: No, she tried to fire it and didn’t know how to release the safety. [Change of subject:] Were the romantic encounters too sexual, too explicit?

Book Club: “Yeah! I am not a prude at all but why...why did you go there? I just don’t like anyone talking sexual like that.” “We don’t read anything that graphic.” “What was the point? I don’t need to hear that many details.” [One member to another:] “What did you and your husband do this week?” [Other person’s response:] “Very similar to the book!” [Laughter] “What was the point of that much detail? To me that looks like filler, like when comedians get raunchy, ‘cause to me it looks like you don’t have anything else to say so you do it to fill up pages.”

Author: No, I was challenging myself as a writer to see if I could write decent erotica. Is that a contradiction in terms? [Much laughter from group.]

Book Club: Okay, but put it in a different genre, like Danielle Steele, but don’t put it in those. Don’t mix the two.

Continue to Part Two: Book Club - Part 2

Book Club - Part 2 of 3

WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD!

Book Club: “The one thing that did upset me a little is that they were in love because each was so beautiful and so perfect. There are few people that are that perfect, and so I thought that was a little superficial. Like she [Caroline] was the top of the species with such a beautiful body and everything.” “Except when you’re first in love, people actually feel that the other person is perfect.” "Infatuation." “I thought it detracted from the book.” “Well [the attraction] had to be that extreme because everything else was extreme.”

Author: [In regards to the erotica] Like I said, I wanted to stretch myself as a writer.

Book Club: “You did it!” “Really well!” [Laughter]

Author: I was also trying to add some shock value, just to do something different. The second book is much more toned down. It doesn’t have that level of detail because I already did it.

Book Club: “It didn’t turn me on.” [Another member responds:] “We’re glad you weren’t turned on.” [Laughter] “It was just like, I didn’t need to know this. I thought it was unnecessary.” “The explicit detail didn’t bother me. I think that’s because of my interpretation of what the book was about. It made sense to me. It’s that it was a dream and it was really her and she was facing some stuff in her life, the demons in her life, her ex-boyfriend, and she was trying to find a way to love herself again. So I didn’t think it was inappropriate or out of bounds.”

Author: I’ve actually considered the it-was-all-a-dream angle, but I think that’s robbing the reader. As a reader I’d think, if none of it was real, then why did the author waste my time? Does that make sense? [Of course, in the larger scheme, it’s all made up!]

Book Club: “I don’t like that, either.” “I don’t like movies where they wake up and you find out none of it really happened.”

Book Club: “So I don’t know that I got the real meaning of the story. Some of the things were like, ‘We already know that,’ and although it was enlightening to the character and kind of woke her up, I thought maybe it was simple. I was expecting and hoping for something a lot more and I just didn’t get it.” “Well, it’s supernatural, crossing that threshold into a place that does exist, but doesn’t exist exactly on Earth.” “Yes, into another realm of reality...” “Parallel lives.” “There are people out there who think we do live parallel lives.” [To author:] “You’re a sci-fi person, though. And I am not a sci-fi person.” “I always say that at the beginning of the X-Files, ‘I don’t like it.’ Then I watch the show, and then it’s kinda weird, and I decide it’s pretty good.” [To author:] “So do you think there are other planes of life or activity?”

Author: There are supposed to be an infinite number of parallel universes. Basically, every time a choice is made it spins off another parallel universe. At least that’s some of the new, strange physics you hear about.

Book Club: “But I was in there thinking I was going to be enlightened or thinking that something was going to change...okay, I’m going to learn something...something is going to hit me..it’ll be something new and exciting...but it left more questions than answers.” “It did leave a lot of questions.” “So, can you do me a favor, can you give me a synopsis of the meaning of this whole book? Because I can’t figure it out yet.”

Author: At one level it’s a metaphysical action-adventure and what it gets into is the possibilities of human development. The whole idea of the protagonist’s ability to ‘tune’ into different states—that’s the main thing; and how that might also affect the overall evolution of mankind, because I think we all need to ‘tune’ to a higher state.

Book Club: So how long did it take you to write this?

Author: Here’s the story for you [see answer to question #2 of the 15 Questions for Author Robert Burke article].

Author [responding to question about publisher]: I’m self-published through Amazon CreateSpace. I originally went with ebooks—Amazon Kindle—and it’s also out there in Apple, Kobo, Nook, and Sony ebook formats, because I initially thought that was the way to go. Then I had so many people who said, “I want to read your novel, but I don’t want to read an ebook,” that I did the print version.

Book Club: “Don’t give up writing. But don’t be explicit on that stuff unless you want to be a Danielle Steele romance novelist.” “I haven’t gotten to the erotica [two members had just begun reading the book]. I know we gotta get there. ”

Author: Chapter 5 ["Girl Love"]. [Much laughter all around.]

Book Club: The erotica didn’t seem to bother the rest of us except one, but what kind of feedback are you getting from other people who have read the book?

Author: I haven’t received any negative feedback about that.

Book Club: Everybody thought it was okay?

Author: Or they’re not saying.

Book Club: “I thought part of it was for shock value.” “But why shock? No, I didn’t like it. I thought it took up a lot of the book.” “I thought the recurring sexual relationship was a lot.”

Author’s Note: I had to look this up! There are 2,050 paragraphs in the book. The physical attraction between the girls is certainly a constant theme throughout, but only 25 of the total paragraphs describe actual “make out” sessions, or hardly more than 1% of the book (depending on how much "mood setting" you want to include).

Book Club: “I wanted to get something out of the book. I don’t need to know about somebody’s sex life. That’s not why I’m reading this book, damnit! I want to find something really great in it.” “You don’t have to go there [to the explicit scenes]. Just be gay, be lesbian, and just do it without the details.”

Author: Another question I had. Was there too much male bashing?

Book Club: “It seemed like there was some real male bashing in the whole book.” “You know, at one point in time we might have been in agreement with you there. For the most part we all like men pretty well.” “We like some of them some of the time.” “We talked about the male-bashing, and then I was in my gym and I heard this woman talking to this other woman and I guess she was in therapy and had been through all this abuse from men, and it’s like, well, I guess some people do have that negative experience.” “And that’s what hit me, there are people out there who can relate to that, we just happen to be not those people.”

Book Club [the conversation shifts to lesbians]: “I think a lot of people come to that because of really horrible experiences.” “To me Abigail was a circumstantial lesbian because of her experience with her father and boyfriend. I worked with a girl who had a history of abuse and she hated men because of it. But I think most people who are truly homosexual are born that way.“

Book Club [change of subject]: The woman in the desert [Sam], from Taos, who knew Caroline and Raphael. She had been to adobeDreams. How does a person get drawn to that location? What was it? Abigail said she saw something on the Internet that interested her and she was a journalist doing a report [travel guide]... but it seems like to get there you have to be accepted.

Author: You have to have the spiritual inclination.

Book Club: “How does one get called to anything? Somehow the universe takes you to where you’re supposed to be. Even though in my opinion you still have free will to accept or decline.” “One weak link is why did she assume that she was stood up on the corner, when it was Raphael who showed up and she started talking to him?” “Why couldn’t he have just said, ‘Hi, I’m from adobeDreams.’”

Author: For me, it was a test for Abigail, because they then go to Burro Alley, and the whole sequence that follows is a sort of test.

Continue to Part Three: Book Club - Part 3

Book Club - Part 3 of 3

WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD.

Book Club: What made you think of Santa Fe for the setting?

Author: I love Santa Fe and Taos. If you go to my blog there’s a list of locations that inspired scenes in the novel [see Locales That Inspired Prose].

Book Club: “I should have worn my necklace with a cross that has dirt from Chimayo.” “And I have so many stories from that dirt.” [Laughter] “He [the author] did the photography and stuff on the book, and I think that’s pretty phenomenal.” “The cover’s really great, by the way.” “And that room they go into, where everything happens [The Grotto of Hearts], was there something that inspired that space? Is it a real place?”

Author: No, it’s a photomanipulation. The source image is a wood bench sitting in front of a flagstone wall.

Book Club: Was there an inspiration for the Grotto from other movies, or paranormal, or did you just kind of imagine that one yourself?

Author: I got it straight from that image.

Book Club: Is your second book a sequel?

Author: Yes, one of the threads I didn’t finish in the first book is that Abigail wants to know what’s on the other side of the mirror. Early on, Raphael entices her to stay by telling her she needs to pursue the answer. Later in the book she steps through the moon gate and has a vision of people standing in front of a theatre. The people are speaking French and she wonders what’s going on, but Raphael is suddenly beside her and says, “It’s not your time. Go back.” And where do they end up at the end of the book?

Book Club: In Paris, where she’s always wanted to be.

Author: Where people speak French, and that’s where the second book takes off.

Book Club: Did Abigail or Caroline see the little girl?

Author [making the assumption the question is in regards to the little brown-eyed girl that appears several times]: Caroline is the little girl—or, rather, her spirit is the little girl.

Book Club: Abigail is the one who saw the image in the mirror that was different from what she looked like.

Author: Abigail was wearing lipstick and the little girl in the mirror [an apparent double of Abigail] was not.

Book Club: Who was the little girl then?

Author [still assuming the question is about the little brown-eyed girl, although it may have been about the girl Abigail saw in the mirror]: The little girl is a manifestation of Caroline’s spirit. [For the answer to who the little girl in the mirror was, wait for book two!]

Book Club: “At one point it said that you could never know true love unless you have a child of your own. How can you tell a lesbian person something like that, when she might never have a child?” “They do it through in vitro fertilization or surrogates, same as single women who want children, or couples who can't conceive.” “But it seems strange that you talk about it as the epitome of love when maybe she’d never experience it.”

Author: Second book! Things happen. [Change of subject:] Who knows that there was a recipe in the novel? They were at Sam’s and they’d been working out in the sun all day and they came inside and Sam was making watermelon salsa. [Author hands out copies of recipe; see Watermelon Salsa article.]

Book Club: “Did Lucifer die in the end?” “You can’t kill Lucifer, sorry...”

Author: ...because he’s being fueled by man’s evil. Actually, my original plan for the end of the second novel is that Abigail is dreaming and she senses this gathering darkness, then sees these silver orbs coming toward her. She figures out the orbs are the medallions on Lucifer’s boots. And that’s going to kick off the third novel because Lucifer is back. But I kind of changed my mind about that. If I do write a third one I’ll do something different.

Book Club: With the same characters?

Author: Pretty much the same characters. I feel like I’ve done Lucifer, so it’s time to move on.

Book Club: In my mind a lot of the book had to do with good and evil and as a species we are doing a lot of things that are affecting the Earth.

Author: For me I think the male morphic field—group consciousness or whatever you want to call it--has been hijacked by greed and plunder.

Book Club: Yes!

Author: As a consequence we’re destroying the Earth and we need to bring back the female energy; and the male energy needs to transform into more constructive stuff.

Book Club: “You see that happening now, with young fathers who are active participants in the child-rearing process, whereas with our generation the roles were really divided. “ “Yes, it was our job to take care of the kids, cook, and clean the house.” “The first time I ever did my husband’s laundry was the last. There was a sweater that he liked and [it got messed up]. “Just by accident!” “Good plan! Good plan!” [Laughter]

Author: Everything you’ve said is perfectly valid, even the criticism—I understand it.

Book Club: “We always think of it as constructive.” “Absolutely.” “So is there anything that you would like readers to take away?”

Author: I hope there is be something in there that people could come away with—maybe it was, for instance, when Rayna was talking about the Earth and says it’s not God’s planet, it’s ours, and we’re responsible for how things turn out. She uses the analogy of race car drivers who get in these horrific wrecks and you see the videos and the parts go flying all over the place and the driver is okay. The idea being, who is responsible for the fatalities in car wrecks? Who designs the cars? God doesn’t make those cars; people do. He doesn't drive drunk or go text messaging down the road, either. Indeed, for the most part, God doesn't allow bad things to happen, we do.

Book Club: Yes, I remember that part.

Author: It’s a group consciousness thing. It’s all of us; that’s the trick. You can only work on yourself, but it’s all of us. Another thing Rayna talks about is that “people respect strength and exploit weakness,” and I think that’s very true.

Book Club: “It’s very true.” “That’s a good one!”

Author: So it’s just little things like that. I like the part where Raphael is doing Tai Chi and he starts talking about time and he says it’s basically a stream of transitions in the ever present now.

Book Club: Something I made a note of as I was reading is that in two different places you talk about the irony that in order to have peace you have to be prepared to wage war.” “Unfortunately that’s the way the world works.” “That’s the way mankind is, if we’re going to preserve peace or freedom we’ve got to be prepared.”

Author: And yet in another chapter, Rayna holds up an assault rifle and says, "This is a last resort.” You know, have you talked? Have you compromised? There’s a whole list of things that she goes through as alternatives to violence.

Book Club: “There was a lot of wisdom written in it.” “I liked it a lot. Just to enjoy the experience. It was a great story. I believe in endless possibilities. I loved it. I loved everything about it.”

Author: I really like the Earth Paradise chapter where Abigail is climbing up out of the canyon, away from the flash flood, and as she starts to revert back to herself she finds her own answer to the question of why the Earth should be the best possible place it can be—because of all the people who have struggled over the centuries to evolve humanity to its present state. We owe it to them to get our act together.

Book Club: Yes, let’s keep human evolution going. We have grandbabies!