On This Day – March 31st

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Today in 1836, the literary world was treated to the first monthly installment of The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club. Charles Dickens published this serial under pseudonym of Boz at just 24 years old. Another early 20s successful writer. Although to compare myself with Charles Dickens would be a prime example of hubris run amok. The man was a genius.

I think the lesson I am learning from seeing these authors become successful so young is that I need to step up my game and focus on writing more and procrastinating less. You might see some gaps in this series from time to time. It isn’t because I am not writing my Gentle Readers, but mainly because nothing from that day really spoke to me. For now, I’m going to work on my own creative projects. Until next time. Live well, Write well, Be well.

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On This Day – March 30th

This day in 1820 welcomed into the world a woman whose single work, published near the end of her life, is beloved by children the world over.

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Anne Sewell wrote the book to speak out against cruelty to horses during her lifetime. Black Beauty, narrated by the namesake horse, speaks of mistreatment after mistreatment. Sewell showed incredible courage in speaking out against animal cruelty.

To write something of such profound social importance is a dream come true, but sadly Sewell never got to see the impact of her work as she died in 1878, shortly after Black Beauty was published. The book would go on to be made into a movie 3 times.

I can only hope to one day have such an impact on the world as Sewell did. I ask all of you, if you could write something that would have the kind of widespread success and impact as Sewell’s book, what would you speak out against? Hunger? Poverty? Corrupt politicians? Sound off in the comments my Gentle Readers. Until next time. Live well, Write well, Be well.

On This Day – March 26th

It was on this day in 1920 that a career was launched. F. Scott Fitzgerald became the youngest author published by Scribner’s with the release of his work:

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Fitzgerald sought literary fame as a way of winning the affections of Zelda Sayre, the daughter of a Supreme Court Justice. Zelda didn’t think Fitzgerald could support her, hence his quest for literary fame. He was an overnight success, however he still couldn’t manage to support the lifestyle they both desired after their marriage. Fitzgerald and Zelda even fled to Europe in an effort to cut back and pay down their debts.

Though his later work, The Great Gatsby, would be a success, Fitzgerald would see a decline in his popularity with his short stories and further work not resonating with his audience.

If Fitzgerald can become a success at 23, then I am a decade behind on where I should be. Other than a few poems I have never written anything to impress someone, however, and maybe that is my problem? I generally write because I cannot get the story out of my head. What about you my Gentle Readers? Sign off in the comments. What makes you put pen/pencil to paper, or put fingers to keys? Until next time. Live well, Write well, Be well.

Book Review – Captured by Catherine Stovall

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Captured
The Blood Prophecy Book 1
Catherine Stovall
4 stars

Catherine paints us a very interesting twist on the age old vampire story. Jenda is a young woman who suffers a terrible loss. Her best friend, Soborgne, disappears, leaving behind blood and a mystery. Jenda is shattered, though the chilling words left in her friend’s blood lead her to feel that not is all as it appears. When Matteo, a centuries old vampire, comes looking for her, Jenda is scared to learn the truth of her friend’s disappearance.

This book is a little reminiscent of a big name in this genre, old vampire and high school girl, but Catherine’s take on the tale gives it some unique features. Her heroine, Jenda, is not completely helpless and more than willing to kick a little vampire behind on her own. Her bond with her friend Sobo transcends their trials. All in all this was a nice little diversion from reality. I enjoy a good vampire story.

The bad news is that there are quite a few minor errors that jerked me out of the great pace of the book. I found sentences with the words flipped around, or extra words that don’t quite make sense in the sentence. The story was great and flowed well other than that so I was willing to overlook the minor inconveniences in those sentences.

Get our copy of Captured by Catherine Stovall on Amazon HERE

On This Day – March 25th

Today, in 1955, the US Government launched the first volley in its latest attempts at censorship by seizing 520 copies of “Howl” based on obscenity charges.

The poet was Allen Ginsberg.
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I confess that I never had the pleasure of reading Howl. I must have been living under a rock to have also missed the 2010 movie. Hopefully I can find it on Netflix or something. As for the poem, I was able to find parts 1 and 2 on Poets.org

This is some powerful stuff from a generation that shouted against the conventional norms of the time. To speak so openly about drugs and sex brought the ire of the conservatives in power at the time. To think just 60 years ago. what Ginsberg wrote was considered so horribly obscene that it required a governmental assault to try and keep it away from the public.  Now we have things like Miley Cyrus and parents taking their 8 year olds to see R rated films. Have we become so desensitized to shock that we laugh at this instead of the horror expressed just 60 years ago.

I ask you my Gentle Readers, did we lose sight somewhere along the way of the creative art and simply keep escalating the shock value in our work? When did we stop pushing the envelope and start napalming it? I know it might sound hypocritical for me to applaud Ginsberg but condemn Cyrus. However, I am not sure that we can put them in the same category. What is the purpose of Cyrus acting as she did? Maybe it is hypocritical of me.  Maybe I should stop this trainwreck while I have some shred of credibility as an artist left.

Keep pushing the envelope my Gentle Readers, but have a purpose. Be opening the eyes of closeminded people, not just seeking attention for shock value. Until next time. Live well, Write well, Be well.

On This Day – March 24th

Though his birthday is 2 days away my Gentle Readers, today belongs to Tennessee Williams. His highly successful and Pulitzer Prize winning play, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, opened on this day in 1955 in New York City.
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Tennessee Williams was a child of an abusive traveling salesman and an overly controlling mother. It is believed he used his family, especially his mother and beloved sister Rose, as the basis for characters in multiple works.

Williams, though alcoholism and drug use eventually took his life, was a picture of overcoming obstacles in order to succeed. Though he was pulled from school to work for his demanding and demeaning father, Williams would return to school, eventually earning his Bachelor of Arts degree in English from University of Iowa in 1938. He took great care of his mentally ill sister Rose, especially after her disastrous lobotomy administered as a cure for her schizophrenia.

In Williams we learn that you can overcome any obstacle, but beware the demons you allow entry into your heart. Williams went from being a favored punching bag of his father, to a very successful playwright. It is unfortunate that his later years would be claimed by alcohol and drugs.

Seek to overcome the doubts, naysayers, and those holding you back from your dreams my Gentle Readers. Just take care that you do not fall victim to what you were trying to overcome. Until next time. Live well, write well, be well.

On This Day – March 23rd

This day Gentle Readers brings us another wildly successful author. Though he is not as prolific as yesterday’s authors, today would still be a good birthday to share.

ThomasHarris.jpg Thomas Harris was born this day in 1940 in the town of Jackson, Tennessee. He would move as a child to Mississippi. Thomas is famous for creating the iconic connoisseur of human flesh, Hannibal Lector. Like his creation, Harris is a fantastic chef and purveyor of fine wines. He has even taken the grueling Le Cordon Bleu exams. Not much else is known about this supremely private storyteller, as he has not granted an interview since 1976 and avoids publicity like the plague.

To be able to pick the brain of the man that created such a fascinating character as Hannibal would be a dream of mine. However, I am sure he will not break his media silence any time soon, even for a fellow southerner such as myself. A guy can dream though right?

Happy Birthday Thomas Harris, may your meal be delicious and your wine perfect on this day. May I suggest a nice red?

I think Thomas proves that you don’t have to write a hundred novels to be successful. All it takes is that one character who will live on in literary, and in Hannibal’s case Hollywood, history. Go find your character my Gentle Readers. Until next time. Live well, write well, be well.