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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Writer Wednesday: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

It's time for "Writer Wednesday" when I discuss another author and his or her book. For October's posts, I will be discussing some seasonal classics.

From the moment I read of the Tappan Zee, I know that autumn is truly here. As assuredly as leaves changing, apple cider simmering and pumpkins appearing in the fields, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is a part of my autumn. With so many books in the world, I reread few. However, I make an exception time and again for this classic. I first read this when I was twelve, after ordering it from a Scholastic flyer at school. Each autumn since, I read Washington Irving's charming tale.

Irving is in love with language. This is abundantly obvious in his descriptions of the overflowing delicacies at the table that Ichabod admires. A fair amount of bewitching magic is added to conjure an inescapable vision of a bygone era that seems to inch closer as the old Hessian soldier gallops nearer. If you have only seen the film versions of this tale and not read it, then perhaps the ending is a bit of a mystery to you. Irving pens more than Ichabod's demise; he hints at so much more. If you are unsure what I mean, I encourage you to find out for yourself and perhaps you'll be charmed both by the book and the season.

My best to you all,

Monday, October 28, 2013

Autumn's Mirth

Autumn's Mirth 

Whisper wind through Harvest's door
Enchanting with your welcome lure
Have you seen the man in wait?
Standing by the open gate
Crows gather by his feet
Waiting for October's treat
Red and yellow 
Fall to earth
Green and orange
Bring Autumn's mirth
Nestled on the lane below
Pumpkins wait in twilight's glow

Megan Easley-Walsh 
October 2011

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Saturday's Quotation to Inspire- Success

"In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure."- Bill Cosby

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Writer Wednesday: Dracula

It's time for "Writer Wednesday" when I discuss another author and his or her book. For October's posts, I will be discussing some seasonal classics.

After suffering from childhood sickness, Bram Stoker once said, "I was naturally thoughtful, and the leisure of long illness gave opportunity for many thoughts which were fruitful according to their kind in later years." Dracula, in its construction and themes, can be read as the spreading of illness or disease. 

Illness often starts from afar, infecting others, until it winds itself around an individual. In Dracula, the story begins in Transylvania, far from the story's life in England. Through newspapers and letters, the tale grows and news of Dracula comes closer. This is akin to hearing about sick relatives. In the carriage, the line "For the dead travel fast," signifies the rapid spread of disease. Even the house that Dracula acquires, Carfax Abbey, "is four sided, agreeing with the cardinal points of the compass," which again alludes to the spread of disease from a deadly center. 

Bela Lugosi as Dracula 
Throughout Dracula, blood (a sign of both health and disease) features. It is what the disease (Dracula) thrives on and signifies life itself. When sickness comes, people pray and religion is used as a defense against Dracula. The crucifix is also frequently seen in places of sickness- hospitals, bed sides, and cemeteries. Likewise garlic, that Lucy's mouth is stuffed with, is used to treat illness. Also, symptoms including a haziness of disease, are recorded through the visions and noises that are experienced by those affected. 

In the end, disease can only be overcome when it's gone from England and hunted down where it came from. Only then, the disease and Dracula are defeated. After a long drawn out fight against Dracula, the book ends (rather abruptly) with a tacked on mention of Harker's and Mina's son. While it seems abrupt when read merely as plot, it is necessary when the book is read as a tale against disease because, it highlights the triumph of life. 

My best to you all,


Monday, October 21, 2013

Monday- Trick of Treat! A peek into my book goodie bag


Trick or Treat!
Today, I thought I'd give you a glimpse into my book goodie bag. Below are the books that I've read (other than research and my own writing) for August, September and thus far into October.




Currently Reading: 

What are some of the books you've read recently?

My best to you all,

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Writer Wednesday: Frankenstein

It's time for "Writer Wednesday" when I discuss another author and his or her book. For October's posts, I will be discussing some seasonal classics.

In his quest for life, Frankenstein loses all versions of it. Frankenstein trespasses where man is not permitted. By eating from the tree of temptation to create a man, Frankenstein is cast out of his Alpine Eden and condemned to a hell of continued loss and death.

Life, in its innocence, is lost through Henry's death. Life, as symbolic of truth and justice, is lost through Justine's death. Life, as comfort and hope for the future, is lost through Elizabeth. Forced to abandon his country, Frankenstein endures even the death of his nation. By the end of the book, Frankenstein is so distanced from his life and himself that the story is conveyed through another's journal. Having poured his life and all that is good with it into his monstrous creation, Frankenstein is left as a shell. In order for Franken
Boris Karloff as Frankenstein
stein to surge to life again, his icy heart must be thawed and this can only be accomplished when the monster mounts his funeral pyle as he announces he will do when chased to the Arctic (Frankenstein's icy heart).

With her parting words, Justine bids Frankenstein, "Live, and be happy, and make others so." It is already too late for Frankenstein, though, and her words go unheeded. It is precisely because Frankenstein has looked to death to create life that all vitality is destroyed in his world. This is the corruption of attempting to be God and why Frankenstein is banished - banished even from his own life. In the words of the monster: "Like Adam, I was apparently united by no link to any other being in existence... He came forth from God a perfect creature... I was wretched, helpless, and alone."[Chapter  15]

In Frankenstein's creation of an Adam-like creature, whose life surged from death, he is drained of his own life and is left out of Eden and distanced from life.

My best to you all,

Monday, October 14, 2013

Perspective in Literature- From the Writing and Reading Toolbox


Writer's and Reader's Toolbox Time

I've been thinking a lot about perspective lately. In a conventional sense, perspective is how someone sees something- their side of the story, so to speak. In writing and reading, perspective is how the story is told.

1st person- I am telling you the story
2nd person- You are personally involved
3rd person- He or she is in the story

There's more to it than just that though- certain "persons" lend themselves to different types of writing. For example, if the story is a personable tale of someone's adventure, perhaps 1st person is a good choice. If the stakes are high in a story, though, and the character's safety is in jeopardy or question, perhaps 3rd person is a good choice since 1st will seemingly convince the reader that the narrator (that character) is all right. 2nd person is rarely used in fiction. It's more often found in instructional manuals, self-help books or cookbooks.

Perspective is not only the "person" that a story is in, but also the tense. For example, is the story told in 1st person past?

I ran up the stairs. I went to the park.

Maybe, it's in 3rd person present, to make the action more immediate and draw the reader in.

Sally's running up the stairs, gasping for air.

What it comes to is this- how a story is told directly impacts how the story is perceived and what the story is will naturally affect how it's told. 

Questions to consider--

Writers- what perspective do you like to write in?

Readers- what perspectives do you like to read?

Imagine your favorite book or one you read recently. How would the story change if it were told in a different perspective?

My best to you all,

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Saturday's Quotation to Inspire- Try

"If you hear a voice within you that says 'you cannot paint', then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced."- Vincent van Gogh

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Writer Wednesday- Jack Pumpkinhead

It's time for "Writer Wednesday" when I discuss another author and his or her book. For October's posts, I will be discussing some seasonal classics.

The Wizard of Oz. The Ruby Slippers. The Yellow Brick Road. These are the images of a beloved story and yet many of the details in the 1939 movie version are different from Frank Baum's original. For instance, did you know that the slippers in the book aren't red? They're actually silver.

Frank Baum wrote a series of books about Oz. The second in it is The Marvelous Land of Oz where Jack Pumpkinhead is introduced. Jack Pumpkinhead comes to life through a magical "powder of life".

In cartoons from the early 20th century, a character is often portrayed made from wood and a pumpkinhead. He seems to perfectly match Baum's "Jack Pumpkinhead" in appearance. What is the appeal of a character with a jack o'lantern head? I think it's the delight of knowing that something commonplace, any field pumpkin, can be magically transformed into a new friend. Isn't that how books are as well? A pile of paper and ink transforms into something that can transport, entertain and endear itself to its reader. With an inner glow, like a jack o'lantern, books can light the way.

My best to you all,

Monday, October 7, 2013

Museum Monday- National Gallery London


It's time for another Museum Monday. The National Gallery in London is a fantastic (and free!) place to visit. There are also wonderful resources available online for when the famous red double deckers aren't whizzing past you.

Want to quickly see 30 great masterpieces of western art including Canaletto, van Gogh, Constable and Turner? Here's a great desk side tour.

Many people are now interested in podcasts as well and the National Gallery of London hosts a monthly podcast, discussing not only art in the gallery but also cultural elements of the time.

Paintings, not only for their artistic beauty, are great resources for writers and anyone wanting to learn more about a particular time period. Fashion, the way a city looked, and even the values of a society (through the symbolism and central focus of the art) are all evident within art. Just like pieces of literature, art also provides layers of meaning and purpose that can be rewarding to uncover. 

My best to you all,

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Writer Wednesday: To Kill a Mockingbird

It's time for "Writer Wednesday", when I discuss another author and his or her book. For October's posts, I will be discussing some seasonal classics.

What does To Kill a Mockingbird have to do with autumn or Halloween?

Firstly, there is the ham costume. Dressing up in costumes is one of the most fun elements of the holiday.

Second, and bigger, there's the lesson on who the villain really is. With a character named Boo, it seems he will be the villain. But, if you finish reading To Kill a Mockingbird and still believe that Boo Radley really is the villain, then perhaps, the story should be read again.

To Kill a Mockingbird is one of those books always appearing on the lists to be read and assigned in schools that warrants and deserves its place there. Atticus Finch and his timeless advice that "it's a sin to kill a mockingbird" continues to ring true. Perhaps, the mockingbird really is in all of us and Harper Lee is warning us to preserve the best, truest part of humanity, in ourselves and in others through defending what is just.

My best to you all,