She’s Got a “Monster” of a Smile (and for good reason!)

Source: She’s Got a “Monster” of a Smile (and for good reason!)



Finding the perfect voice to narrate your audiobook sounds like a simple task, right? I mean, after all, it’s just someone reading your words. As a newcomer to the audiobook scene, I quickly realized how wrong I was. A narrator must be able to convert your words into a mental portrait, enabling the listener to see the characters, as well as their settings, and he must do this entirely using nothing but his voice.

J Bruce McRell IS that narrator. His voice is like none other I have ever come across, and he has done an outstanding job of bringing my characters in The The Monster of Silver Creek Audiobook VersionMonster of Silver Creek to life. I had the pleasure of working with him closely for several months and found him not only to be extremely professional, but respectful to my wishes as well. J put his heart and soul into narrating my book, as his desire to make it great matched, if not surpassed my own.  As an author, I hear the words in my head as I write them down, and J nailed every breath, and every gesture, that my characters made, as well as captured every inflection in their voices.  Not an easy task, I assure you.  If you click on the cover image on the left, you can listen to the five-minute sample that J produced for the audiobook and hear for yourself what the voice of a great narrator sounds like.

During his work on my book, I discovered that he brings new meaning to the phrase, “Mobile Office.” Below is my off the cuff interview I had with him regarding the aforementioned subject, as well as how he came to be a narrator.

Tell me a little bit about yourself and your family, J.J Bruce McRell Narrator of Audiobooks
My wife and I just celebrated our 20th anniversary. We are a blended family. I brought four girls, she brought three boys to the union. And we just celebrated grandchild number nine. We were both born in Massachusetts, me in Boston, she in Worcester.

Being a narrator is a tough market to crack. Can you tell me why, and how, you came to be one?
I have 25 years experience as a radio announcer, and 19 years as an electronic media writer/producer for an advertising agency in the Boston area. Back in the day, I’d go from agency to agency looking for work as a voice talent. That taught me the discipline of the audition process, which is how I’ve connected with authors seeking to create audio versions of their work.

What are some of your credits?
I’ve always looked for books that match my style. I consider myself a fairly straightforward announcer from anywhere USA. I’ve recorded non-fiction and fiction works and have enjoyed bringing these books to life.

About 5 years ago, you and your wife made a life-changing decision. What led you to that choice?
When my wife Paula and I first started dating, we talked about someday traveling this country in an RV. Through our married life, we enjoyed camping, first in tents, then a pop-up, then a travel trailer, and then back to tenting. When I decided to retire from full-time agency work, we decided it was time to start living the dream. With six months to retirement, we bought a motorhome and cleaned out our house of everything we couldn’t take with us.

How did you decide what type of RV to buy? What were some of the amenities you were wanting, and did you do a lot of research before purchasing?Georgetown XL 36-foot Class A motorhome
We opted for a 36-foot Class A motorhome which gave us a good amount of kitchen space to cook our own meals. And we also liked towing our Honda Civic Hybrid along to do exploring once we were parked. My wife scoured floor plans for a decent amount of closet space as well. We found our first motorhome in Pennsylvania after some serious online research.

When you pulled out of your driveway for what would be the last time, did you think to yourself, ‘What the heck am I doing?’
I retired from agency work on 3 Dec 2010. We hit the road one week later with a huge winter storm bearing down on us. We traveled from Boston down the East Coast trying to outrun the winter weather. The last sleet and snow we saw was in Fayetteville, NC, and we slowed down when we got to Jacksonville, FL where we left the sub-freezing temperatures behind. Wearing a t-shirt in the middle of winter made it all worthwhile.

Any regrets?
I wish I’d remembered to unplug the motorhome when we left a park outside Philadelphia in 2012. No damage done, and it’s part of the learning experience. And I thank the kind people in the park who waved at me to let me know I was dragging my power cord.

What is the best part of living life on the open road?
We love seeing new places, discovering historic downtowns, and fascinating back roads. One of our continuing enjoyments is dining al fresco any time of the year. It’s a special community of travelers – some working, some retired, all friendly and there to help or just chat.

J Bruce McRell - Narrator of audiobooks, including The Monster of Silver CreekDo you have a plan mapped out for where you’re going next, or do you just go where the road takes you?
Although we traveled way too much in the first couple of years, moving from place to place twice a week, we’ve slowed down, opting to spend at least a week and up to a month in one spot. We make our plans a week at a time usually, except for the big summer holidays when you have to book well in advance to find a good spot. As always, our plans are written in Jello.

Describe a typical day for you.
I have always risen early, usually around 5 AM. After checking emails and catching up with news and weather, we use every other day for checking out the area, looking for historic sites, jaw-dropping vistas, and a good local cafe. We also like to hang in and enjoy the campground, relaxing with a good book, Facetiming with grandkids, taking walks to explore the area.

Did you have to make any modifications to your RV to outfit your recording studio?J Bruce McRell Narrating from his RV Motorhome
Motorhomes are generally cozy which provides a quiet environment for recording – if you’re not right off the Interstate. When properly set up, it’s like a rolling studio. We always look for parks that have good wifi service as well as a good Verizon signal so we can stay in touch.

What do you enjoy most about being a narrator?
I’ve always enjoyed a measure of autonomy in my work. Narrating allows a disciplined person to set a comfortable schedule of recording and editing to meet an author’s schedule.

Do you, yourself, like to listen to audiobooks? If so, do you listen to them while driving in your RV? What are your favorite types to listen to? (Mystery, science fiction, etc.)
I enjoy fiction, usually action/adventure/crime works. Because of the concentration required driving an RV while towing a car, I stick to music when we’re rolling. My wife and I share the driving.

5 years ago, did you ever think you would be where you are now?
I’m amazed that we’re now in our fifth year of RVing. It’s been time well spent, having made memories and friends in all directions. We’ve discovered places we really like and some not so much. Right now, we’re discovering California with plans to head east to New England when weather permits.

Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?
Having only scratched the surface so far, we anticipate still wandering and discovering this great land five years from now. But our pace will be slower. We’ve learned this is not a race from sea to sea.

I hope you take the time to give a listen to the sample.  I promise that you will be wowed by J’s performance. The Monster of Silver Creek audiobook version is available for download at, Amazon, & itunes.  If you are an author and are interested in having J narrate your audiobook, you can contact him via email at

~Note: Belinda G. Buchanan is an author of edgy women’s fiction, & mystery romance. Books include: After All Is Said And Done: a Novel of Infidelity, Healing & Forgiveness, Seasons of Darkness, and the previously mentioned The Monster of Silver Creek.  

All are available in Paperback and e-book from, Barnes & Noble, itunes, and Kobo.

Saying Goodbye to Edward Herrmann

Tribue to actor Edward Herrmann

Tribue to actor Edward Herrmann

Last week, the television and movie industry lost one of their greatest assets. Moviegoers and fans lost their friend. Edward Herrmann passed away New Years Eve at the tender age of 71 after a battle with brain cancer.

Generally described by those who knew him, Mr. Herrmann was kind, considerate, and scholarly. I cannot attest to any of those things as I did not know him personally, but I do know the way he made me feel when I watched him on the screen.  Mr. Herrmann brought an undeniable magnetism and charm to his roles, whether he was playing a villain (like the evil Max in Lost Boys) or the stern, but empathetic grandfather, Richard Gilmore, in Gilmore Girls, or a morally conflicted father in the movie The Face on the Milk Carton.

The first time I ever saw him on screen, I was twelve. My mom had taken my sister and I to see The North Avenue Irregulars. I was immediately smitten and touched by Mr. Herrmann’s performance as a widowed pastor with two young children.  Since that day, I have been a fan (and quiet stalker) of his work.

His role in Gilmore Girls solidified him as a household name and his turns in films and television such as Father McCabe in St. Elsewhere (remember him talking to a young Dr. Donald Westphall while indisposed in the restroom?), Graham Sherbourne in Big Business, Harrison Beecher in Oz, and Lionel Deerfield in The Good Wife showed just how prolific and talented he was.

During his career, he made too many films and movies to name, but there are two to me that particularly stand out. The first one was a made for TV movie called Sweet Poison. He plays a hapless man on the way to a funeral with his wife who gets taken hostage by a convict on the run.  Although, he usually comes across as intimidating, Mr. Herrmann brought an intense vulnerability to this role.  His expression as he is tied up while the convict has his way with his wife is forever burned in my memory.  But all is not as it would seem, and as the plot unfolds, so does his relationship with his wife. If you haven’t seen this movie, I strongly recommend that you do.

The second most favorite movie I saw him in was Overboard.  He played the arrogant and narcissistic husband of Goldie Hawn to perfection. To quote him in the film, “I’m so virile, I’m so great!”…and he was.

He will be greatly missed, and Hollywood is a little darker because of it.

What are some of your favorite Edward Herrmann movies?


Belinda G. Buchanan is a writer of Women’s Fiction & Mystery Romance. Her books include, After All Is Said And Done: a Novel of Infidelity, Healing, & Forgiveness, Seasons of Darkness, and The Monster of Silver Creek. Married for twenty-five years to her soulmate, she is the mother of two sons, (one who loves her unconditionally, and one who loves her only when not in public), and a menagerie of animals.


Tall, Dark, & Troubled

Ethan Harrington in Seasons of Darkness

This handsome guy is the inspiration for Ethan Harrington in the scenes with his beloved horse in my latest novel, Seasons of Darkness.

I felt he was perfect for the part ,and I’ve proudly added him to my Character Gallery.

What do you see when you look at this picture? A young man and his horse?

This is what I see:

A boy just on the verge of becoming a man – and this is the summer of his awakening as love comes knocking.  For shy, lonely Ethan, it’s his first – and one that he is bent on keeping.  Finding that nothing else matters when he’s with Mary, he immerses himself in their relationship, being content to lie to her when it comes to holding on to his family’s secrets.

Look closer.  I’ll tell you more.

Behind those dark, piercing eyes of his lies a realm of bitterness and pain that he will not allow anyone to touch.  His innocence was lost seven years ago when his mother took her own life.  Now sixteen, and still ravaged by her death, he struggles to live among the shattered remains of a family that was never functional to begin with.  Unable to cope, it isn’t long before he turns to what he has seen his father take comfort in time and time again – thus giving rise to an inner demon that will not turn him loose.

Intrigued?  Here’s a special excerpt from chapter 1 just for you:

The bottle dangled carelessly from Ethan’s fingertips as he sat gazing out the small window of the loft.  The sun was beginning to sink behind the tree line, painting the entire horizon in a soft orange.

A gentle breeze fluttered around him carrying with it the sweet smell of honeysuckle.  He Seasons of Darkness by Belinda G. Buchanansettled back against an old bale of straw and breathed in deeply, enjoying the silence.

He found himself wishing that he could be as excited about summer vacation as his sister was.  Although he liked being older than her, there were times he longed to be a kid again, as her days off would no doubt be spent playing with friends and going swimming at the public pool in Manchester.  For him, it meant interning three days a week at his father’s company.  He took another sip from the bottle and sighed.  It was going to be a miserable summer.

He was jarred slightly by the sudden sound of metal hitting wood, but knew what the noise was without turning to look.  The wind had stirred the pitchfork that was hanging on the wall behind him.  He listened as its tines clanged softly against the slats of the barn.  It reminded him of a bell—the kind that you heard on the water.

When he was a boy, his mother would take him down to the canal to see the boats.  They used to stand on the cobblestone sidewalk and watch the ships pass by one after the other.

He sank farther into the straw and closed his eyes, letting his mind drift.

The ship’s enormous bow sliced through the water in front of him as he leaned over the rail.  He watched it intently, certain that its massive hull was going to hit the edge of the concrete wall and send it crumbling into the depths below.

The ends of his toes curled up inside his shoes as the ship loomed beneath him.  It was so close he could count the wooden planks on the top of its deck.  He tightened his grip on the rail as he braced for impact.  He watched with both fascination and disappointment as the captain of the boat guided the craft safely through the narrow opening with master precision.

With danger averted, Ethan pushed himself away from the railing and grinned at his mother.  “When I grow up, I’m going to be the captain of a big ship.  Just like that one.”

She looked down at him and smiled.  “Is that so?”

“Yes, and when I pass by here, I’ll be sure to wave at you.”  He squinted up at her.  “Will you come and watch me?”

“Of course I will, love,” she said, cupping the side of his face in her hand.  “But I shall miss you terribly while you’re gone.”

“It will just be during the day.  I’ll come home every night like Daddy, I promise.”

She arched her eyebrows.  “Promise?”


“All right, then.  Come on,” she said, making her way over to a park bench.  “Mummy needs to sit down for a moment.”

The shrill horn of a boat sounded in the distance, indicating it was about to pass underneath the bridge.

He sat down beside her and watched for it.

“Here,” she said, reaching into the folds of her purse.  “I’m sure the pigeons have missed you.”

Ethan took the brown paper sack from her and opened it up.  The birds heard the crinkling and immediately began gathering at his feet.  He pulled out a handful of breadcrumbs and tossed them onto the sidewalk.  Within seconds, every morsel had been devoured.  The birds looked up at him, cocking their tiny heads from side to side, waiting for more.

His mother sat forward.  “Where’s Stubby?”

“There he is,” he said, pointing to the bird with the missing toe.  He’s standing next to Fatso.”

“Ah,” she said, smiling.

“Which one shall we name today?” he asked, searching out one to pick.

“Oh, I don’t know, love,” she answered, slumping against the bench.

He held his hand out in front of him and blew the crumbs from his fingers.  “Mummy?”


“What did you want to be when you were little?”

She shielded her eyes from the sun and looked out across the canal.

“Did you always want to be a mummy?” he prodded when she didn’t answer right away.

Her lips wavered slightly.  “For as long as I can remember.”

He eyed her stomach for a moment.  “Is that why you’re having a baby?”

“I suppose so.”  Her voice was distant.

The big tug slowly came into view as thick black smoke billowed from its stack.

Ethan sat back and watched it glide silently across the water.  He wasn’t sure about all this baby business.  His parents had told him repeatedly that nothing was going to change.  Yet, last week, he had been relocated to the bedroom at the end of the hall in order to make room for what they kept calling his little sister.

His mother put her arm across his shoulders and drew him close.  “Did you know that I asked the angels to send you to us?”

An absurd image formed in his head as he pictured winged beings with halos bringing him down from the clouds.  “Did they put me in there?” he asked, touching her belly.

She laughed.  “Yes, I guess they did.”

“Did you ask the angels for this one?”

“No,” she answered as her smile slowly faded.  “She was a surprise.”

Ethan turned the sack upside down and emptied it, sending the pigeons into an ecstatic frenzy.

“You and I will always have a special bond,” his mother said, squeezing him tightly.  “No matter where you go, or what you do, I’ll always be thinking of you.  And no matter how old you get, you’ll always be my little boy.”

He rested his head upon her shoulder and closed his eyes as she began stroking his hair.

“I will never stop loving you,” she whispered.

The tug sounded its horn again, drowning out her last words.

Ethan opened his eyes and looked up at the darkening sky.  He figured heaven must be somewhere past the clouds.  There were times he wondered if she ever thought about him now, or even knew how old he was.

He pressed the bottle against his lips and took two long swallows, hoping to wash away the lump that had formed in his throat.  His shoulders involuntarily shook as the liquid heat traveled through him.


He bolted upright at the sound of his father’s voice.  “Yeah?”

“I need to speak to you for a moment.”

“Coming,” he said.  His fingers trembled as he screwed the cap back on the bottle and stashed it in the hay beside him.

“What are you doing up there?”

“Nothing,” he replied, making his way down the wooden ladder.

His father looked up at the loft for a moment before letting his eyes settle upon him.  “You must be doing something.”

“I was just thinking,” he said, being sure to keep a safe distance between them so he wouldn’t smell the scotch.

“Thinking about what?”


His father took a deep breath and sighed.  It was exaggerated, and meant for Ethan to know it was a sign of his frustration with him.

“Greta will be here tomorrow afternoon,” he said.  “I need for you to keep an eye on your sister until she arrives.”

Ethan secretly hid his delight as he nodded.  If he had to watch Renee, that meant he wouldn’t have to go to the office with him in the morning.

“I expect you to help Greta get her things upstairs and be mindful of her,” he said in a stern tone.

“I will,” Ethan answered, irritated that his father thought he had to tell him that.

The last of the sun’s light began to fade, casting a dark shadow inside the barn.  Silence soon followed.

Ethan stuck his hands in the pockets of his jeans and shifted his feet.

His father finally turned and walked over to one of the empty stalls.  “This place is cleaner than the house,” he said, taking a moment to look inside.

Ethan remained silent, uncertain if that was a compliment or complaint.  He watched as he ran his fingers along the leather saddle that sat astride the stall door.

“This weekend, I’m going to go see a man about a horse.”

Ethan blinked as his mouth fell open.  “Really?” he asked, uncertain if he’d heard him correctly.

His father’s mustache turned up at the corners.  “Really.”

Ethan could not contain the smile that consumed his face at that point, and it brought forth a small chuckle from his father as he turned and headed towards the door.

I hope you enjoyed the excerpt.  You can read more chapters for free by clicking here. Thanks for stopping by!

*Photo courtesy of & cynoclub

amazon buy now Seasons of Darkness  barnes & noble buy Seasons of Darkness  iTunes- buy Seasons of Darkness  kobo buy Seasons of Darkness  smashwords - buy Seasons of Darkness

Review of Seasons of Darkness

I am honored and humbled to have received such a great review from author Robin E. Mason.

robinsnest212 - stories by design

The month of October is a special time for me:

my debut novel, my baby,


will be released IN PRINT on Halloween!





Sixteen-year-old Ethan is following in his father’s footsteps. But not career wise, and not by choice.

When life becomes a fragile balancing act between a presentable image and the darkness that torments, Everett Harrington buries himself in his work and hides his feelings – and his fears – in a bottle of scotch. But stuffing yourself in a bottle or a board room is but a temporary fix, and the demons that are hiding eventually show their ugly faces. And with Everett, they showed up as contempt for the son who once was the little boy he so adored.

Everett, apparently, had his life neatly planned out. A solid career, no female distractions…

View original post 272 more words

Why you must read Belinda G. Buchanan’s Seasons of Darkness – an interview by David Njoku of Indie Author Land

Everett Harrington, a no- nonsense businessman, should have taken Natalia’s behavior that night as a sign of things to come, but hadn’t. When it came to her, he found himself unable to think clearly.

It was on a scorching afternoon in late July that he had stood at the altar with her, making a promise in front of God and her parents to love her for better or for worse – and it was ten years later, on a rainy morning in September that he’d buried her. The days in between had been filled with brief intervals of happiness…and long periods of hopelessness.

Now, left alone to raise a son he can’t talk to and a daughter that he wants nothing to do with, he chooses to spend his evenings drowning his frustrations in a bottle of scotch, leaving him without the ability to control his temper.

Forced to grow up in a hurry, nine-year-old Ethan Harrington quickly learned to build a wall around his heart, vowing never to let it be hurt again. Now sixteen, and still ravaged by his mother’s death, he struggles to live among the shattered remains of a family that was never functional to begin with.

What genre is this?
Women’s Fiction & New Adult.

A story of hope – even in the darkest of times, this is a coming of age novel that depicts the sometimes difficult and oftentimes complex relationship experienced between father and son when tragedy strikes.

We know we should have guessed from the title, but there are some really dark moments in this story.
Mental illness not only touches those who have it – it consumes their loved ones as well, leaving a haunting impression long after they are gone.

That’s very true.
Seasons of Darkness is for those who like darker themes or taboo subjects. There are some defining scenes in the book. Although they may be difficult to read, they set the stage for Ethan as he becomes a man. Read more

Meet Guest Author Belinda G Buchanan

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

Belinda G Buchanan

Drama is raw. Drama is pure. Drama evokes emotion like no other. That’s why I write it. And when you combine it with tall, dark, and handsome, it’s positively electrifying.

My desire for these things started when I was a little girl playing with dolls. My imagination would create a tumultuous storyline that eventually ended up with Ken storming out of his and Barbie’s dream home and peeling away in her pink convertible.

Years later (I won’t tell you how many) I took this yearning and put it to paper. Minutes, hours, and months slipped away until I had written my first novel. Now what?

I decided to self-publish. I was hesitant at first, but three years later, I can honestly say that I’m glad I went the indie route. Why? Because going rogue allows you the freedom to publish on your own terms, and your own time. Your royalties…

View original post 989 more words

Meet Guest Author Mike Jecks

Mike Jecks – Author Extraordinaire

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

Michael Jecks 01Hi, I’m Mike Jecks, always writing under the name Michael Jecks, and I’m the author of 35 published books, as well as a bunch of short stories, novellas with Medieval Murderers, and, let’s not forget, five unpublished books.

I never meant to be a writer.

Back in the 1980s, I embarked on a new career in computing. Before that I’d been determined to have a life as an Actuary. What’s that? A mathematician and statistician who applies his brain to insurance and finance problems. Or, as I learned later, having failed every exam for two years, a person who finds accountancy too exciting.

I thought there must be more to life, so I set out to be a computer salesman. And I did very well. My first 5 years saw me as one of Wordplex’s top salespeople; my second 5 years saw me as a successful salesman in Wang Laboratories

View original post 4,826 more words

How Do We Truly Forgive Someone?

This question has been on my mind a lot over the past few weeks.  Are you the type of person that forgives easily, or does it take you some time to get over it?

I have met a few people in my life who have the unnatural ability to truly forgive and forget.  I stand in awe of these fortunate souls, wondering why the hurt seems to roll off their shoulders like water.

Personally, I’m the type that takes forever to get over something.  I catalogue it, commit it to my photographic memory, file it under NEVER, and harbor a grudge for all of eternity.

Yup, that’s me…or at least that was me until about three years ago.  What brought about the change?  Simply put, it was the desire for happiness.

For some of us, the hurt we feel runs deep and is burrowed so far down inside of us, it has literally grown roots.  The more time passes, the longer those roots grow, until eventually, you are not only an angry person, but a bitter one as well.

Elton John wrote a beautiful song for The Lion King called The Circle Of Life.  There is a verse in there that goes ‘Some of us sail through our troubles, and some of us have to live with the scars.’  As humans, some of have been deeply hurt or even traumatized by something that has happened to us as an adult or child.  It has left us emotionally scarred because we can’t let it go…no matter how hard we try.  We didn’t have a choice in this matter-and we absolutely cannot change, or forget, what happened.

Carrying around anger over something that we cannot change can eat us alive.  Does forgiving someone erase what has happened?  Of course not.  But I do know that forgiveness can be healing.  We must let it go.  Once we turn it loose, our heart begins to heal.  It’s not easy by any means, but it’s better than the alternative.  I realized that I didn’t want to grow to be an old and bitter person who has lived my life being angry about something I have no control over.

It was this realization that inspired me to write one of my novels.

The message of forgiveness runs throughout the pages of After All Is Said And Done, where we find Ethan Harrington struggling to come to terms with his wife’s infidelity. Her affair with a colleague of his has left him hurt beyond words.  It’s a hurt that slowly begins to heal with the birth of his son, but it isn’t long before he learns a devastating secret. His drinking, fueled by this discovery, engulfs him, and his marriage soon starts to buckle under the strain.

With his life now in pieces, and his sanity questionable, Ethan is forced to come to terms with his alcoholism and face a past that he has spent a lifetime trying to forget.

After All Is Said And Done is a novel about infidelity, healing, and the long road back to forgiveness.



View the Book trailer:

Available at Amazon, Barnes & NobleKobo & Smashwords

Belinda Buchanan is an author of women’s fiction that also includes, Seasons of Darkness, and The Monster of Silver Creek.

My son, myself, and Mass Effect

Last month, my oldest son asked me if I would play Mass Effect.  

“Sure,” I said, “I’d be happy to play with you.”

“No,” he replied.  “I mean, you play it, and I’ll sit beside you.  I’ll help you out on what to do.”

“Oh…okay.” So we sat down in front of the TV and he handed me the XBOX controller thingy.  Now, mind you, the only experience I’ve had using this controller is when I watch episodes of Call The Midwife or The Walking Dead  on Netflix while I’m exercising on the elliptical – and all I have to do is press the A or B button.

My son got to work creating my character.  “I’ll make Commander Shepard a girl, since that’s what you are.”

“Thanks,” I said with a smile, happy that he’d noticed.


I looked back at the screen and felt my smile dissolving.  I didn’t know whether to be flattered or horrified.  “Um…her jumpsuit’s kind of tight, isn’t it?” I asked, staring at her chest.  



“It’s not a jumpsuit, it’s a uniform,” he said, sounding annoyed.

First stop for Commander Shepard, and her voluptuous assets, was a planet under attack.  We went through the Mass Relay and took a shuttle down to the planet.

“You get to drive a Mako, now.”

The Mako resembled a moon rover, but with lots of upgrades.  I can drive a minivan, so this shouldn’t be too hard.

“Get inside it,” my son said, pointing at the screen.

Easier said than done. Remember what I said earlier about my experience with XBOX?  I move Commander Shepard behind the Mako, under the Mako, in front of the Mako, and on top of the Mako – but can never seem to get her inside the Mako.

My son shook his head and sighed.  “Here.” He pressed a button, and boom – I’m inside.

So off we go, driving around the planet – or in my case, driving as if I’m drunk around the planet.  Navigating the Mako is proving to be a difficult task.  After running over several innocents and lots of rocks, we finally reach our destination and get out.  

“See that sniper?”


“Shoot him!”

“How?” I asked, still trying to locate the enemy.

“Press B!”

I pressed B, but apparently not fast enough.  I know this by the amount of blood that had seeped onto the screen.

“Let me help you.” My son snatched the controller from my hands, and with quick and skillful precision laid the sniper to rest.  He then proceeded to take me to the next checkpoint where a conversation between Commander Shepard and a hunky soldier by the name of Kaidan ensued.  “What do you want to say to him?”

I looked past Kaidan’s bulging biceps and saw that I got to pick my dialogue.  

“Your decisions affect the outcome of the story.”

This was a very neat aspect to Mass Effect that I quickly came to appreciate.  Shepard’s actions have consequences, and are the driving force for the storyboard. What you say and do dictates how things turn out. Very cool. I pick something from the dialogue box and Kaidan says something back to me.  Mmm, he has a dreamy voice.  Then, after a few minutes, he joins me in the Mako and we’re off to another war-torn place.  Now, at this point, my son still has the controller, and I really don’t think he’s going to give it back.  

“Why don’t I do everything for you – and you can just pick what you want to do and say?” he said while firing a missile at an enemy referred to as the Geth.

“That sounds great,” I replied, settling back into the chair.  

For the next four weeks, my son and I played Mass Effect, Mass Effect 2, and Mass Effect 3.  It was brimming with drama, depth, emotion, and morality – touching on subjects such as genocide and the sterilization of a barbaric race.  I came to love Shepard, Joker, Garrus, Liara, Miranda, Thane, Kaidan, Grunt, Wrex…all of the characters.  But what I loved most was the chance to be involved in my son’s life.

As I sat watching him kill a large Krogan, something that Frankie, from The Middle, once said popped into my mind. It was the homecoming episode and Frankie didn’t get that big, public moment she longed for with her son. That’s okay. This private little mother-son moment was just as special.

…and it was. 




Note:  Belinda G. Buchanan is the author of After All Is Said And Done, The Monster of Silver Creek, and the recently released Seasons of Darkness.  All are available in paperback or e-book.