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Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween!

Autumn's Mirth

Happy Halloween!

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

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Writer Wednesday: The Halloween Tree

Hello! It's time for Writer Wednesday, when I discuss another author and his or her book.

Ray Bradbury is an icon of twentieth century writing. The first Bradbury I read was The Martian Chronicles. Last year, at Halloween, I read Something Wicked This Way Comes. This year, it was The Halloween Tree. Bradbury is enchanting and his stories are transportive into a realm of science fiction, horror and intrigue. In an interview about Universal monsters, Bradbury relates his early experiences with the Universal horror movies of the 1920s and 30s and their impact on his writing. I too have drawn from the appeal of the Universal classic monsters in my writing.

The Halloween Tree is especially interesting as it delves into the meaning of Halloween symbols. Historic time periods that have given their traditions to current celebrations from ancient Egypt to modern Mexico are explored. Bradbury's imagery is captivating and both its beauty and simplicity work to deliver an effectively scary atmosphere. Bradbury's work is infused with love for genre, words and the light of humanity striving in a troubled world.

My best to you all,

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday- Halloween!

From The Broke and the Bookish 
Today, I'm taking part in the Broke and the Bookish Top Ten Tuesday for "Top Ten Books/Movies To Read Or Watch To Get In The Halloween Spirit". 

You're getting a bonus here, as I provide both 5 great books and 10 movies. Enjoy! 

from Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein


1) The Legend of Sleepy Hollow - Washington Irving
2) Frankenstein- Mary Shelley 
3) Dracula- Bram Stoker
4) Something Wicked this way comes- Ray Bradbury
5) The Halloween Tree- Ray Bradbury 

from Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein


1) Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein-1948
2) Bride of Frankenstein-1935
3) House of Dracula- 1945
4) Shewolf of London - 1946
5) The Mummy - 1932
6) The Ghost Train- 1941
7) The Mystery at the Wax Museum- 1933
8) The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari- 1920
9) The Return of the Vampire- 1944
10) It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown and bonus
Disney Halloween Classics including The Legend of Sleepy Hollow from 1949 and 

The Skeleton Dance 1929

from The Bride of Frankenstein

Don't be scared! Dive right in to some Halloween treats!

My best to you all,

Monday, October 27, 2014

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Writer Wednesday: We have always lived in the castle and Dr. Caligari


On Writer Wednesday, I discuss another author and his or her work. On Friday, I discussed some seasonal reads that I reviewed last year on Writer Wednesday during October. In it, I said that I like to read Halloween themed books and mysteries during October. Today, I'd like to talk about one of the works that I've read for Halloween this year.

We Have Always Lived in the Castle-
Mary Katherine Blackwell,  nicknamed Merricat, is at the heart of this story and shows the importance of voice and narration in a successful plot. To know Merricat is to know the story. Whether or not she's a trustworthy narrator, though, is certainly debatable and so knowing her, and thereby the plot, is more complicated than it may at first seem. Secluded in a life of dreaming about the moon, talking to her cat and loving her sister, Merricat battles against the scars of the past and a day that caused almost her entire family's disappearance. But what really happened? To answer that, you'll have to read for yourself.

Before I read We Have Always Lived in the Castle, I read that others immediately gave it to their family and friends, so that they could discuss the plot after reading it. That is exactly how I felt after watching what has been dubbed the first horror film: The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari. A thrilling spectacle of surrealism that was made in Germany in 1920, this is an exciting story told in six acts. It tells the story of a carnival that comes to town and the strange appearance of Doctor Caligari and his somnambulist. I won't say much more about the plot than that. It really is better to just watch. I will say though that We Have Always Lived in the Castle and The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari share several commonalities. One, the townsfolk love a good spectacle and are given one in each story. Two, there is a question of the mystery related to what happened- for We Have Always Lived in the Castle, it's the mystery of what happened in the past. For The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari, it's the mystery of the future telling somnambulist. Thirdly, each piece explores and thrives on the question of mental stability.

Both are suitably atmospheric, especially for this most bewitching of seasons!

My best to you all,

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Roses from Autumn Leaves

Hello! Autumn's winds are howling outside today, blowing the leaves down in torrents. On a nature walk the other day, I collected a number of leaves in various hues and then saw a project where roses were crafted from these leaves. I tried it today and am pleased with how they turned out. Have you created anything with autumn leaves? Feel free to comment below. 

My best to you all,

Success! Roses from Autumn Leaves
"I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers."- Anne of Green Gables 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Friday, October 17, 2014

Friday Fun- Seasonal Reads!

It's time for Friday Fun!

In October, I like to read Halloween-themed books and mysteries. Last year, I featured a few literary classics and some great reads in general that follow along with this feel. Here they are below.

To Kill a Mockingbird

Jack Pumpkinhead 



The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

I'll write more about what I'm reading for this October later. What are some of your favorite October/Halloween reads? Do you have any traditions? As I mention in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow post, I reread that classic each year.

My best to you all,

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

What does the 8th most watched Youtube video of 2012 have to do with historical fiction?

What does the 8th most watched Youtube video of 2012 have to do with historical fiction?

The answer isn't that it's a documentary or even anything to do with books.
Instead, it's a song that I love and I think it encapsulates perfectly the ability for a story to sing. A violin, an instrument rooted in history, is the star of this piece. In my book I'm currently editing, reference is made to violins and the song within the wood. Alongside the tried and true in this song, though, is an all new fusion of style, beat and imagination. See, yesterday's post, on Adding to the Conversation, for more on the importance of this. Contemporary historical fiction (that is historical fiction written now) is most effective when it merges the style and beauty of the present with the historical rooting of the past. This symbiotic symphony of that power is beautifully illustrated in the song below.

Happy Listening!

My best to you all,

Monday, October 13, 2014

Adding to the Conversation


Last week, I shared my first gif post on the art of writing. The essentials for writing a successful novel were included. Today, I'd like to discuss the role of the author within the larger writing community. More importantly, I'd like to address this question.
Should an author write for himself/herself or the reading community at large?

This is a trick question. The answer is actually both. I'll explain why now. First, an author has a unique vision and story to tell, as explained in this Neil Gaiman quotation:
"The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision."

This individuality will allow the author to write about things and think about things that no one else has. Just as a scientist or historian will conduct research relevant to his or her own interests, so too will an author write something that is of personal appeal. This is encapsulated through this Toni Morrison quotation:

“If there's a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it.”
It is also important to retain this individuality because chasing trends or capitalizing on current interest does not guarantee sales. Likely, a category will flood the marketplace, or if the author is published through traditional channels, the lead-time from writing to publishing means that this trend may already be over by the time the book hits the market.
Reading and Writing- Book Multiplication depends on it
More important this this even, though, is authenticity. If a writer tries to write what he or she thinks others want to hear, it is likely that the book will come off as a forgery, a farce, a parody or an imitation. It is better to deliver a rich and full story, filled with detail and with certainty. In other words, as a writer
Be True to Your Story. 

Now, for the second half of the answer of who a writer should write for. Unless, a reader lives in isolation from all books, chances are readers have encountered previous books. The very notion that the reader can read seems to necessitate this. That being the case, it is important than an author be aware of what has come before.
What books are classics?
Why are they classics?
What do their plot structures or memorable characters reveal about the longevity of literature and the timelessness of certain elements?
It is also beneficial to be aware of what is popular at present, though, and specifically within an author's genre. To write without exposure to other writing is to deny the brilliance of others that can be built upon.
What do I mean by this?
 Imagine that a chef has a bag of groceries. There might be some pretty interesting combinations that are created, but there will ultimately be limitations. No one person can think of everything. Now, imagine that the chef makes a recipe from a cookbook. The recipe will taste fine, but is unlikely to garner much attention: everyone's doing it. This is what happens when writers try to copy a style or plot that has popularity for a time. Now, imagine that the chef tries out a few recipes and then creates something utterly new based upon the knowledge of what elements have been tried together and what is breaking new ground. This is the equivalence of writers who read the works of others and then create their own.
As a writer, your story will be more rewarding when you push beyond what's previously been done. For readers, the books will be more exciting and riveting as well. This also is true because recent studies have shown that reading a novel causes the brain to be more creative for a full five days afterwards. A writer that reads a lot is thus benefiting from this added burst of creativity and is exposed to its creative influences.

Write your story, but do so as a part of the writing conversation: adding something new to say, in your voice, with your wit, that can fit among other writers as a bright spot of its own. 

My best to you all,

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Writer Wednesday: The Land Uncharted

It's time for Writer Wednesday, when I discuss another author and his or her book. Today features Keely Keith, a writer friend of mine, who kindly provided me with an advanced copy of her debut The Land Uncharted. I'm officially in the acknowledgements- yay! :) Thanks, Keely! Make sure to check the links at the bottom if you'd like to pre-order your copy.

So, what is The Land Uncharted about?
Here is the official blurb from Amazon:
Lydia Colburn is a young physician dedicated to serving her village in the Land, a landmass in the South Atlantic Ocean undetectable to the outside world. When injured fighter pilot Connor Bradshaw’s parachute carries him from the war engulfing the 2025 world to her hidden land, his presence threatens her plans, her family, and the survival of her preindustrial society. As Connor searches for a way to return to his squadron, his fascination with life in the Land makes him protective of Lydia and her peaceful homeland, and Lydia’s attraction to Connor stirs desires she never anticipated. Written like a historical, set like a scifi, and filled with romance, The Land Uncharted weaves adventure and love in this suspenseful story of a hidden land.

Imagine Lost (without the crazy polar bears or experiments) plus Little House on the Prairie plus Doctor Quinn: Medicine Woman plus Wonder Woman and Major Trevor (without the super powers). That will give you some indication of this mash-up genre creation. In other words, The Land Uncharted, written in narrative style instead of close, is reminiscent of watching the action of a television show in its bird'se-sye view of the characters. This allows for an expansive view across time and the vastness of the island. Intrigue is added through secrets of the past including the founders and a hidden book and the pressing need of a world at war in the near future of 2025.
As well as being a writer, Keely is also a bassist and that steady unhurried rhythm carries the story, uniting its various elements throughout. This mix of genres also creates a cross-time feel. For example, while Lydia's male relations and great-aunt seem firmly set as 19th century characters, her sister has the feel of a modern teenager. As for Connor? He seems like a navigator who had his sights set on something and found something entirely different than he expected.

Would you like to discover The Land Uncharted? If so, follow the links below!

My best to you all,

Pre-order for October 21st:


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Top 10 Character Driven Novels

From The Broke and the Bookish
Today's Top Ten Tuesday is about novels that are character driven. Although there are many great characters in books and many that I love, here are a few novels that stand out for their memorable characters that drive the plots forward. They are in no particular order.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

TransAtlantic by Colum McCann

The Ocean at The End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman 

The Movement of Stars by Amy Brill 

An Officer and a Spy by Robert Harris
Mermaid by Carolyn Turgeon

Juliet by Anne Fortier 

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Monday, October 6, 2014

How to Write a Novel in Gifs


As well as writing my own material, I have also taught the art of writing. I decided to write about this using my very first gif post!   Let's take a look at the steps necessary for a great book. Shall we? 
First, it is required that there's a character that, though you don't yet know, you're willing to trust on the journey of a book. 

Also, the character should be intriguing, so that the reader is willing to jump on that horse (or reindeer) and learn more about who the person is and what he or she will do.

                                                                                                                                                                A setting that leaps to life is also important. This is particularly true in historical fiction, that the past not feel static.

An exciting premise, with intrigue and twists and turns is essential. Catch your readers completely by surprise. This is accomplished best when there is not a single reveal, but several throughout.

                                                                                                                                                                 In order to meet these challenges, the characters must rise to the occasion. Situations and fears must be faced head-on. 

If you're writing historical fiction, remember that women are still important characters. They may have had less opportunities at times in the past, but that doesn't mean that they should be passive in stories. Make them women of action to create a richer and more true to life story. 

Remember to include a strong supporting cast of characters. Helping each other accomplish goals and sometimes complicating those challenges makes a story all the more interesting. 

Think outside of the box, in order to deliver new and innovative solutions to problems. It's been said than an effective technique is to offer two solutions to the problem and then have the characters find a third. 

Add in a little magic- through vibrant characters, beautiful metaphors or unexpected plot twists. Better yet- all three!
Put the elements together with sparkling dialogue and success will be achieved.

And there you have it... a successful book!

Join me next week when I continue this topic and discuss writing in relation to other authors and in becoming a part of the conversation.

My best to you all,