On This Day – March 19th

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Today my Gentle Readers, we learn a lesson from the great French playwright and novelist, Honoré de Balzac. It was on this day in 1842 that Balzac’s play Les Ressources de Quinola opened to an empty house due to a failed publicity stunt. It seems that in his genius, Balzac told people opening night was sold out in order to create buzz about the performance. Due to this, all of his fans stayed home.

I can only imagine the shame and embarrassment Balzac must have felt when the curtain went up on what should have been a momentous night for him. Although, from what I have read of his many failed business ventures, maybe he was used to that kind of thing. Can any of you imagine what it must have been like to go through this? Thinking you had a perfect marketing ploy for it to completely blow up in your face?

I think this is how a lot of us feel when we stake out on a creative adventure. I know this feeling that I would “open to an empty house” is part of why I took so long to begin sharing my work with the world. While a few of my endeavors have fallen flat, there has been some very positive reviews of my work as well. Finding strength in the constructive criticism seems to be the hardest part of fighting off doubt.

I vote we take a page out of Balzac’s book my Gentle Readers and go for it all. Don’t let the naysayers or past failures stop you from trying new things or chasing your dreams. Because, in the end, what are we left with but our memories and experiences? Until next time. Live well, write well, be well.

 

Book Review – First World by Jaymin Eve

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First World
(A Walker Saga Book One)
Jaymin Eve
4 stars

Jaymin creates an interesting post-apocalyptic style New York City, complete with a Mad Max gang feel. Her main character, Abigail, reminds me of more than one teenage girl I went to high school with, aside from the combat training. Dialogue and attitude seems pretty spot on. The interactions between Abigail and her best friend Lucy are entertaining. I picked this one up as a freebie off a mailing list I was on and thought, why not. The concept of these Walkers Jaymin creates is intriguing. I wouldn’t say this book (and maybe the series) is necessarily marketed to my demographic but I would certainly have my teen children read this one. It was nice of the author to include two chapters of book 2 at the end of book 1. Almost makes me want to pick them up just to see what she does with the concept of “Walkers”.

 

First World (Walker Saga Book 1) on Amazon

Author Jaymin Eve’s Website

 

On This Day – March 18th

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The man above my Gentle Readers, for those who don’t recognize him, is Irving Berlin. A prolific composer who came to the United States from Imperial Russia at the age of five. Berlin was not even 20 years old when he sold the publishing rights to his first song, “Marie from Sunny Italy” for 33 cents in 1907. His success, however, would begin with the song he copyrighted today in 1911.

“Alexander’s Ragtime Band” would become one of the highest selling piece of sheet music in history, topping 1.5 million copies in the first 18 months of printing. It’s simple,yet catchy, tune was easy for amateurs to master, increasing its popularity. For those unfamiliar with the tune, CLICK HERE to hear it played by Wayne King and his Orchestra.

Irving Berlin’s early success would lead to a career writing songs and musical scores for stage and screen. By the time of his death at at 101 in 1989, Berlin is attributed with over 1500 songs. In his career he gave us “White Christmas”, “God Bless America”, and “There’s No Business Like Show Business”. All three staples of American musical culture.

According to a couple of inflation calculators I found on the internet, Berlin’s 33 cents he received for his first song in 1907 would be roughly worth a whopping $8.46 cents today. If he had taken this pittance and given up, the American Music scene would be much different than it is today.

What we should learn from this genius of music is to never give up. Just because your first attempt is a failure, or not as much of a success as you would like, DON’T GIVE UP. You never know when that big break is going to hit. Until next time my Gentle Readers. Live well, write well, be well.

Book Review – Evensong by Krista Walsh

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Evensong (Meritas Trilogy Book 1)
Krista Walsh
5 Stars

Krista Walsh earned 5 stars and more with this one as far as I’m concerned. She takes a deep dream of mine, to enter the worlds I create (or others have, Hello Middle Earth) and spins a tale that is gripping. I devoured this book as quickly as I could, stealing a page or two every chance I got.

Jeff Powell is an above average author of fiction working on the fourth, and as far as he is concerned final, book in his successful fantasy series. As tension and potential tragedy mount in his writing, Jeff looks forward to moving on to other projects. His current project will have none of that as Jeff awakens to find himself trapped in his creation. At least, these are the characters and locales he ‘thinks’ he created.

After getting to know the people he had told stories of in the flesh, Jeff begins to doubt his own sanity. Is he dreaming? Is this one big hallucination? Or is it possible that Jeff didn’t create the world, he is merely telling and influencing a small part of it.

Time is running out for Jeff to fix the disasters he has forced upon the realm of Feldall as a mysterious force from Feldall’s past is seeking to gain control of Jeff and the entire realm. Now Jeff must save his characters, himself, and the woman from his realm that he loves before it is too late.

If you like swords and sorcery fantasy you will find much to love about this book. It has all the classic elements, with the added twist of getting to see the Author interact with his characters. I highly recommend this book.

Evensong on Amazon  As of 3/17/2016 you can pickup Evensong for Free on Kindle. Who knows how long this deal will last.

On This Day – March 17th

Luck of the Irish to you my Gentle Readers. May Saint Patrick’s Day bring you much revelry. It was this day in 461 AD that the man who would become the patron saint of Ireland died in Saul, Downpatrick, Ireland.

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Image from The Famous People.com

The man began life as a son in a Christian family in England with Roman Citizenship. Patrick lived his well to do lifestyle until, at the age of 16, he was captured and taken to Ireland by marauders.There he spent 6 years as a herder, turning to his religious faith to survive his abduction. When he escaped and returned to England, it would be natural for the man to hold a grudge against his Irish captors. This is not the case.

Patrick tells us in his own words, in his book Confessio, that he experienced a dream that told him to return to Ireland. After becoming an ordained bishop, Patrick did just that. He returned to his kidnapper’s homeland to preach the Gospel. He spent 40 poverty stricken years: building churches, teaching, traveling, and converting thousands of Irish. Instead of rage or hatred for those who took 6 years of his life, Patrick sought to better the Irish people. For this he was named their Patron Saint.

The legends of Saint Patrick have grown in the succeeding centuries. There are tales of him baptizing hundreds of people in a day and drove all the snakes from Ireland. Some say he used the three leaf clover, Ireland’s famous shamrock, to teach about the Holy Trinity. I would ask what is the deal with the 4 leaf clovers then. Who is the extra leaf?

Anyway, I think there is a great lesson in Saint Patrick to think about this day as we all don our green attire and drink or eat to excess. That lesson is one of forgiveness. If a young man of 16 in the early 400s can find a way to not only forgive his aggressors, but seek to better them through education, then we should be able to do so much more today. Drink the green beer and wear the leprechaun hat today my Gentle Readers. Also channel the incredible forgiveness of Saint Patrick. Until next time. Live well, write well, be well.

On This Day – March 16th

An icon of American Literature was published on this day in 1850.

Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter would become required reading over a century later (at least I remember it as such). When he published it however, it was finally the means to financial success for his growing family. Hawthorne had struggled up to this point, even trying his hands at an agricultural coop (which he turned into his novel The Blithedale Romanc, and spending time working in a Customs house in order to support his family.

Hawthorne was born in Salem Massachusetts. The 100 years since the actual witch trials had left a heavy pall across the town, influencing much of Hawthorne’s early years. After he started to see marginal success in 1842, he married Sophia Peabody and moved to Concord, Massachusetts. There he became friends with Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and Branson Alcott, father of writer Louisa May Alcott.

A few years after the publication of The Scarlet Letter, President Franklin Pierce, a college friend of Hawthorne’s, would make him the American consul to England. His family would live ‘across the pond’ for three years, before returning stateside. He would later leave die in Plymouth, New Hampshire in 1864.

The story told by Hawthorne in The Scarlet Letter is sadly all too true in this world today. Adultery doesn’t carry quite the same shame and stigma experienced in this country’s infancy, but it should. If you are not capable of holding onto your promises, then it is best to not get married in the first place. Find where you belong my Gentle Readers, and stay out of someone else’s relationship. It never ends well. Until next time. Live well, write well, be well.

On This Day – March 15th

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A man of legend, Julius Ceasar, was stabbed on this day. The warning given to him by a soothsayer, “Beware the Ides of March”, still living on to this day. Ceasar was “Dictator for life” of the Roman empire when his hubris became too much for the senators of Rome. A plot was hatched and his protege, Marcus Brutus, was enlisted. When Ceasar entered the meeting hall that fateful day, he was accosted by some 60 senators wielding daggers. His story is told over and over, famously by Shakespeare in his play bearing the emperor’s name. I encourage everyone to beware the Ides of March today, though hopefully you don’t have 60 angry men with daggers calling for your death.

While it is unfortunate Ceaser died on this day, another event of more significance to me also happened on this day, just some 2000 years later.

In 1972, Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather opened in theaters to a resounding success. Coppola had collaborated with the author, Mario Puzo, to create a movie portraying the times and life of Italian Americans, rather than focusing on the criminal and sometimes bloody aspect. Marlon Brando, who had become moody on set and seeing a decline in his Hollywood credit, gave a stellar performance as the patriarch of the Corleone family, Vito. His portrayal earned him a Best Actor award, which he declined to accept. Other greats turned out great performances such as Al Pacino, James Caan, Robert Duvall, and Diane Keaton. The Godfather remains one of my all time favorite movies. The sequel, especially with its scenes of old Italy and Vito’s young life, was also a huge success in my mind as well as commercially.
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I think I am going to have to go watch the movie now. It is 3 hours well spent. So go make life an offer it cannot refuse today my Gentle Readers. Until next time. Live well, write well, be well.

Book Review – Another Broken Wizard by Colin Dodds

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Another Broken Wizard
Colin Dodds
2 Stars

Colin Dodds gives us a glimmer of a story here, but it falls flat for many reasons. The biggest of these is personal growth. The ebook itself was formatted well and I didn’t catch too many spelling/grammatical errors that ripped me out of the story.

The story revolves around two friends, Jim and Joe. Jim is your typical small town boy moved on. He leaves Massachusetts, gets a job in New York City and things are going well. Until he is laid off and he returns to his hometown to take care of his father who is having open heart surgery. Joe is the friend who stayed behind, never growing up from the drugs an alcohol induced fog that was his high school and early twenties years.

From the get go, it is hard to see Jim even making a half-hearted attempt at his actual responsibilities of life. He spends more time drinking and doing drugs with Joe than he spends contending with his father’s needs, which don’t seem to be much even after the surgery. Jim’s inability to have any integrity in his personal relationships is disappointing.

Joe is just a train wreck, and SPOILER ALERT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

 

 

 

He crashes HARD, no big surprise really.

There are a few shimmers of light and profoundness, but they are grossly overshadowed by the complete foolishness of the scenes that play out.

It took nearly the entire book to get to this shining passage: “You can interpret and re-interpret what happens to you. But reality only lets you get away with so much.” Maybe the author should have led with this line and let reality have a bit freer hand in the rest of the prose.

Honestly, disappointed and glad it was free from a mailing list I was on.

Another Broken Wizard on Amazon

On This Day – March 14th

The last few posts I know I have stuck to one event from the date, mainly because that was the topic that spoke to me. March 14th however has a couple of things that I want to talk about.

The year 1879 brought us one of the greatest minds on earth.
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Albert Einstein. A man so brilliant and dedicated to science that we often call people we think of geniuses as “Einstein”. His research led to nuclear fission, the founding of the Manhattan Project. He condemned its use as a weapon despite his support of the Allies during World War II. Luckily for us all, he was visiting the United States when Hitler came to power. Given that Einstein was Jewish, he wisely stayed in the US instead of returning to his teaching post in Berlin.

This day also saw the release by Putnam of Max Brand’s first western novel, The Untamed, in 1919. Max Brand, a pen name employed by Frederick Faust, is considered the most prolific writer of Westerns to date. Faust was known for applying his keen writing style without geographical, and sometimes historical, accuracy. To his readers it didn’t matter that the locations didn’t exist or the conditions works of fantasy, the story was compelling enough to drag you in and force you to turn the page. It is estimated that upon Faust’s death in 1944, he had penned over 30 million words amongst his more than 500 Western serials and short stories.
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My last entry for today was actually my first pick for this post. I wanted to save it until last to be my closing remarks. Sylvia Beach, was born on this day in 1887, the daughter of a Presbyterian minister. When she was 14, her family moved to Paris. Sylvia was in love with the city. She stayed and, in 1919, opened her soon to be famous bookstore Shakespeare and Co. Her store would become a haunt of great literary giants in the 1920s like F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway. Sylvia was a strong advocate of James Joyce. When Joyce’s serial publication of Ulysses was cut short in the Americas, Sylvia published it completely herself in 1922. The book caused great controversy and was banned from US distribution until 1933. If it were not for Sylvia’s tenacious love for the written word, this work may be something that never saw the light of day.
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Thank you Sylvia for your tireless efforts on behalf of readers everywhere. You are an inspiration to speak up against censorship just because it may make a few people uncomfortable. Be brave and tenacious my Gentle Readers. There are always going to be critics. Until next time. Live well, write well, be well.

On This Day – March 13th

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1891 theatre critics clamor to ridicule Henrik Ibsen’s Ghosts, which opened that day in London. The play, written a decade before, focused on the subject of syphilis. It was reviled publicly, but Ibsen did not give up. He began to gain traction in the more progressive theatres of the time. His controversial plays were universally condemned in conservative circles. Ghosts would go on to become his most frequently performed work to this day.

Norwegian born Henrik Ibsen was the oldest of five children. Ibsen’s love of theatre came early in his life and he was known for his puppet shows performed for friends and family. His father, a merchant by trade, went bankrupt when Ibsen was 15, forcing the young man into the work force while he saved for university. School was not going to factor much in the young playwright’s future and he quickly set out on nearly a lifetime of travel around Europe, writing and directing in the theatre.

His 1879 play, A Doll’s House, portrayed a dark view of a woman’s disillusionment with her marriage. Critics were not happy with its bleak ending. Ghosts was written in 1881, and also angered the more conservative critics of the time. Ibsen’s momentum rolled on with An Enemy of the People (1882) and The Wild Duck (1884). This time of his life established him as a masterful playwright of the time. In 1891, he would return to his native Norway. He would remain there until his death in 1906, from a series of strokes.

I hope all of you out there will take the story of Henrik Ibsen to heart. My Gentle Readers, he was a man ahead of his time. Although he saw a measure of success in his lifetime with his work, it is his passion for pushing the envelope that I hope we can all aspire to. Not for the sake of shock value, but for the purpose of opening people’s eyes to the plights of humanity. Until next time. Live well, write well, be well.