Tag Archives: Mary Shelley

A little Halloween Reading

With Halloween sneaking up on us in just a few days, my household has been entrenched in anything resembling spooky. My yard has been transformed into a haunted graveyard, with skeletons and spiders hanging from tree branches. Thankfully, this year the dog caught on quickly that these bones were not his chew toys. Unthankfully, I hate spiders and we have one huge brown one that just freaks me out anytime it catches my peripheral. Ghosts and jack o’lanterns are set about my living room, wreaking havoc on my cats. We made our annual trip to the pumpkin patch, where we brought home pumpkins that outweigh my youngest – oh how I am dreading the de-gutting of those. Costumes are ready and waiting to be worn and soiled.

Yes, we are ready for Halloween at the Prince residence.

Another part of our ritual is during the entire month of October, we collect books and stories from the library that revolve around goblins, ghosts, witches, and anything else that jumps in the night. Even the school has gotten on board with tying the fun of dressing up with reading. We have story book character day in our district where each child has can dress up, but must bring a book about that character. (I will be honest, I find this to be a good concept of an idea, but extremely annoyed at how they go about it.)

During this month, I tend to read more in the horror genre than I do at any other time of year. There are so many great books tagged as horror, that it was hard to really narrow one down. Last year I read a few horror books, but the classic Mary Shelley’s, Frankenstein was the one that stuck out for me the most. So this year I decided to read Bram Stoker’s, Dracula.

And I chose well.

Books written around this time period generally are written in journal/diary format. This seems to be how the writers were able to jump point of views easily and tell a story in a way that felt natural to them. It is not my favorite form of literature, but it works well for this book. It’s like piecing a puzzle together, and I enjoy that aspect.

The story itself is creepy in a very simplistic way almost. It doesn’t slap you in the face with the horror of what is happening, which so many books do. Instead it’s a slow and subtle build up that gives you chills when you picture what is unfolding in front of you. Take the character Lucy for example. At first I thought Lucy was just a side character with very little importance, but as the story grows, so does her part in it, until she is no longer of any importance.

Stories now days tend to be more graphically descriptive than they used to be. This tends to be a good and a bad thing, in my opinion. But there are some great descriptors that are so simple but paint a vivid picture right in front of you. There is this scene where Dracula scales the side of the castle like a lizard, and you can’t help but imagine what it would be like to be able to do that!

So do your reading/writing habits change during the Holidays? What are you reading right now? Let us know in the comments, we’d love to hear what you have to say.

Till next time,

~AJP

Writer’s Groups

First Critique Group

All right, my cartoon may be a bit of an exaggeration. Writer’s critique groups probably haven’t been around as long as that. Critics most likely have, though. I’m sure someone told one of those cave artists that he didn’t like the shade of red that he used.

But the truth is, writers have been getting together to talk about their craft and to bounce ideas off of one another for ages. At least since 1816, anyway. I bring this particular year up because during that year’s rainy summer, four writers happened to be doing just that at a villa in Switzerland. It was pouring outside and they were getting cabin fever. One of them was Lord Byron and he said to the other three, “Hey, how about we all write a scary story? Just for giggles!”

Percy Shelly, a poet, turned to his girlfriend. “Mary, what do you think?” he asked her.

“I’m game,” she told him.

“Why not?” added John Polidori, the fourth writer in the group. “What else is there to do in this damn weather?”

And so they wrote. Polidori comes up with an idea that he titles, “The Vampyre.” It’s gone down in history as the first modern vampire story and kind of started the whole genre. Mary, who would later marry Percy, penned a chilling little number that she called, “Frankenstein.” You might have heard of it. Byron and Shelly ripped theirs up after reading those two.

What’s the point of all this, you ask. It’s to show you that if you are a writer, it’s good to meet with others of your kind; Those of a like mind. People who will understand when you tell them that you have voices in your head. They won’t look at you strangely when you complain that, “The character I just wrote keeps answering me back and won’t listen to what I say!” Yeah…try telling that to someone who isn’t a writer. But most importantly, joining a writer’s group will make you write!

I joined the little bunch I’m with about three years ago. Unfortunately, we don’t meet at a villa in Switzerland. We meet at a library. But it doesn’t matter if you meet in someone’s garage. The point is having people with whom you can get together on a regular basis to talk with about writing and to learn from. The group I belong to showed me that I could write, and then they made me write. I have a short story published and a novel I’m getting ready to shove out the door. Several other short stories will, hopefully, be released in an anthology before the year is up. I wouldn’t have written a word if I had never joined the group.

Writing is a solitary and sedentary endeavor. If nothing else, joining a writers group will help you make a few new friends and get you out of that chair.