Wednesday, October 22, 2014

October Reads: Guest Post by Jeff Chapman

Leaves are changing; pumpkins are sprouting fully formed on your neighbors' porches; and there's a sharp chill in the air. It's October. Time for Halloween. Time to curl up in a cozy chair with a mug of hot chocolate (mocha for you coffee addicts) and a good book. Do you have any favorite reads for the October season? I have several.

At the top of my list is Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu's vampire tale Carmilla. Published in 1871-72—twenty-six years before Dracula—Le Fanu's novella tells the story of Laura and her father, English expatriates living in Styria, and their dealings with a strange visitor, a beautiful young woman named Carmilla. Laura documents Carmilla's strange habits. Their guest rises very late, doesn't eat much, and suffers from a perpetual langour. Carmilla also has a fixation on Laura, who is simultaneously repelled and attracted to Carmilla. Many young women among the local peasantry are succumbing to a mysterious illness that visits them in the night. You can find the text for Carmilla in Le Fanu's In a Glass Darkly. There's an excellent audio version read by Elizabeth Klett on LibriVox.

If Carmilla doesn't help you sleep soundly or ghosts and demons are more your thing, check out the stories of M. R. James. A medievalist scholar and university administrator, James penned several volumes of ghost stories and is credited with redefining the ghost story for the twentieth century. As you might expect, his antiquarian interests feature prominently in his stories. There's lots of digging around in dusty old manuscripts and visiting crumbling old buildings where his protagonists unearth evils that should have been left alone. A wonderfully creepy atmosphere pervades James's stories. Three of my favorites are Count Magnus, Canon Alberic's Scrap-Book, and The Ash-tree. If you can't get enough of James after reading the stories, check out A Podcast to the Curious.

Finally, we come to Roger Zellazny's brilliant novel A Night in the Lonsesome October. Zellazny combines many of the tropes of horror and Victorian detective fiction into a charming tale with a Lovecraftian twist. We meet the Count, a werewolf, Doctor Frankenstein, a mad monk, a witch who flies about on a broom, and the great detective. Zellazny tells his story from the perspective of the animal familiars of the players in this Lovecraftian game of openers and closers. The protagonist is Snuff, who is a watchdog for Jack—yes, that Jack—who oddly enough is one of the heroes. There's a chapter for each day of the month. You can find a wonderful audio version of the book here on YouTube.

Thanks to Tyrean for letting me borrow her blog space for the day. Happy reading, everyone.

Jeff Chapman is the author of Last Request: A Victorian Gothic and the upcoming Give Me Your Teeth: A Fae Tale. He writes software by day and speculative fiction when he should be sleeping. His tales range from fantasy to horror and they don’t all end badly. He lives with his wife, children, and cats in a house with more books than bookshelf space. You can find him musing about words and fiction at Regards, Jeff Blog Twitter Amazon Goodreads

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Back to Life

Back to Life, Back to Reality - anyone remember that chorus . . . ?

My life is back to "normal" rhythms as my husband's heart is back to normal rhythms.

After getting out of the hospital, my husband and I celebrated with a leisurely, doctor-approved bike ride for three miles. That's like a super leisurely stroll down the block for my husband who normally rides 12-30 miles a day at high speeds.

After that in the later afternoon, I was a "dock mom" for my daughter and another new canoeist as they struggled to balance in racing canoes, learn j-strokes and c-strokes, and just get around the dock while the racing team (with my kayaking daughter) were out in the harbor doing a workout that focused on technique at partial speed.

After 48 hours of stress and concern, everything just slipped back into regular life and reality, and I feel so thankful for "regular" and "normal."

I just wanted to stop here and say . . .

THANKS! Thank you for all your encouragement in writing and life!

And here's a view from a sun-break on the dock yesterday:

My daughter canoeing with two kayakers coming in behind her at the end of practice.
Hope that "normal" life is treating you with sun breaks and moments of fresh air!
Praise God for Life!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Awesome News and Answered Prayers!

My husband gets to go home from the hospital in a few minutes!!! Woohoo! Praise Jesus for health, answered prayers, thoughts, and hugs!!!


Today's post that was meant to be: Meet the Character

But . . . life is full of unexpected interruptions.

My husband has been in the hospital since yesterday morning.

I won't be able to blog comment, because my mind is scattered like a million leaves.

Speaking of which, I saw this little bit of beauty outside the hospital yesterday:

It felt like the words I couldn't seem to say, an answer to prayer, and a small reminder of how precious each moment is all at once . . . and that still isn't capturing the moment right.
And, when I got an e-mail that said one of my stories has been published at a non-paying site this morning, I didn't even want to post a link. I still don't. I love to write, but there are moments when whether or not I'm published . . . that part doesn't matter.
What matters is taking a moment to love those we love best, to drink in the beauty around us, to praise God for each breath.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Celebrate the Small Things, and Prep for NaNo, part 2


Celebrate the Small Things

1. I came down with my personal "ick" again (just after I posted that it was over - ugh), but friends and family rescued me with lots of help for all the daily life happenings in our household.

2. Feverish (literally), I wrote crazy bits of writing (still moving forward) and decided to do a few re-publish, pre-sale experiments with my flash story, "The Bridge Snap" and the beginning of a new series of stories and memoirs, "The Horse in the Well."

3. I made progress on Champion's Destiny.

4. I spent some quality time with Captain Wrath this week. I delved into some of his earlier life as plain old Ben Cranston before his life starts to spin out of control.

5. Decided to have a super sale on all my books in e-book. Everything is 99 cents: short stories, novels, etc. from now until November 1st. See my Amazon Author Page for the list.

Friday Freebie: "Seedling" is up for free grabs for kindle readers and kindle apps again this week. Click on the title to follow the link.

Prep for NaNoWriMo, part 2: Theme

Theme is the basic big idea that drives a story forward. It's usually simple and can be summed up in one to three words:



Love conquers All

Those are just some theme examples.

I didn't realize how much theme mattered until I was hopelessly lost in a convoluted plot with a dozen rabbit trails. Theme can help a writer stay focused.

What's your theme for NaNoWriMo this year? And, what are you celebrating this week?