On This Day in Literary History – Nov 10th

Gentle Readers, I usually stay away from controversial topics like religion and politics, but November 10th is a day I cannot ignore. The year was 1483, and in the town of Eisleben, Saxony, part of the Holy Roman Empire, the Father of Reformation was born.

Martin_Luther_by_Cranach
Portrait of Martin Luther by Lucas Cranach the Elder

Martin Luther (10 November 1483 – 18 February 1546) was the eldest child and his father had big plans for his heir. After following his father’s plan all the way up to enrolling in Law school in 1505, but quickly dropped out. He began a philosophical journey that led eventually to the clergy. He was a vehement about questioning the Pope’s role and authority, treating the Bible itself as the only true guidance from God. He also denied that Heaven is obtained by performing good deeds. Luther taught that salvation is a free gift from God, through Jesus Christ, that one only has to accept. His criticism of the Catholic Church led to his excommunication. He was also branded an outlaw of the empire.

Though I am not particular religious, some of Luther’s teachings ring true with me. His principle of “Justification by Faith Alone”, to me, is something so many people could be served to think about. I don’t feel that one can “buy” their way into any sort of heaven, paradise, nirvana, etc. The afterlife, which sometimes I question myself still, is either there or it isn’t. I don’t claim to have the answers, which I don’t think Luther thought he had all the answers either. I just am not sure that where anything divine is concerned, mere mortals can get it 100% correct. IF there is a great architect to this universe, I don’t think we would be able to comprehend the intellect that orchestrated all that is, was, or ever will be.

When I was younger I questioned a Southern Baptist preacher on the interpretation of a passage in the Bible. I was looking at the section in its entirety, where only a small verse was used as part of the sermon. I had not intended to offend the older man, I simply had questions. His denial to engage in any sort of debate and subsequent shunning sparked my jaded view of Christianity. I want to be clear that I believe very much in many of the teachings of Christianity. There are great morals and lessons to be learned. I just abhor the way the Bible has been disassembled and twisted to serve whatever “righteous” cause is trying to wield oversight over another person’s life. The hypocrisy has caused my own break with organized religion in many ways as I have grown older.

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On this Day in Literary History – Nov. 8th

Gentle readers, indulge me if you will. I am going to attempt a new series of posts to keep things lively. I am calling them, On this Day in Literary History. I am hoping to find something of consequence each day that holds some personal meaning to me and share with you a bit of history, a bit of myself, and generally just revel in the lush history that is the written word. So, to begin, here is a writer who has written a book I have read multiple times, whose birthday just happens to be today.

Bram_Stoker_1906

I imagine it was a chilly day in Dublin Ireland the morning of November 8th, 1847. This day would see a literary giant born the third child of a well to do family. Abraham “Bram” Stoker (8 November 1847 – 20 April 1912) would spend much of the first 7 years of his life bedridden. When he recovered, he was enrolled in private school. It is said he attributed his long years of illness beneficial to his thought development. Even excelling at athletics later in life, Bram found early success as a theatre critic with the Dublin Evening Mail. His review of a production of Hamlet garnered him a dinner with the great Henry Irving.

He continued to write short stories, and as a clerk in Dublin wrote a manual on the profession. He also was a founder of the Dublin Sketching Club.

After marrying Florence, much to the chagrin of his friend Oscar Wilde, Bram relocated to London and would embark on a 27 year journey in the employ of Henry Irving, first as the acting manager, and later business manager, at Lyceum Theatre. His journey’s took him through much of Europe and even to the United States where he met two presidents, and one of his idol’s, Walt Whitman (a personal favorite of mine as well). During his time in London’s high society, Bram would also become friends with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (another favorite of mine). Quite lucky of him I think to have hobnobbed with such famous personages.

His only child, Irving Noel Thornley Stoker, was born during his time in London. Father and son were both cremated upon their deaths, son being added to father some 50 years later. Their final resting place, Golders Green Crematorium, is a tourist destination where visitors are escorted to see the urn containing this literary legends ashes.

There is a festival I would love to attend held in late October to celebrate the life and work of Bram Stoker. If you are ever in Dublin around this time, I suggest you check it out.

Bram Stoker’s Dracula was probably the first “horror” novel I ever got my hands on. I devoured it quickly. I have watched both the “unauthorized” adaptation (according to Bram’s wife, Florence), titled “Nosferatu”, and the authorized version starring Bela Lugosi. The story of Dracula is so permeated in popular culture that many purists have resented the recent “sparkly” vampires. I have read many vampire stories, including Twilight, but I always come back to Stoker’s excellent tale. Hopefully one day soon I will be able to share this book with my son. I don’t this would particular scare him or anything, but just that he doesn’t quite sit still long enough for longer books yet. For anyone reading this who hasn’t read Dracula. I suggest you add it to your To Be Read list asap.

Author Interview – Justin Osborne

Today I have the pleasure of interviewing a writer with three published works under his belt, Justin Osborne. His first book, Epic:Legacy, reached #5 in its genre. As usual, My comments are in Green, and Mr. Osborne will be Blue.

I want to start by thanking you for agreeing to do this interview Justin. I have become a fan of your exploits on Facebook in both groups I am in with you.
Let’s start with some background. How long have you been writing?

I started writing seriously in 2010, I was at a boring job with a LOT of down time, so I said
‘Screw it, I going to write a book.’

I know you have a new Anthology out and we will talk about it in a minute. First though, how many works have you published?

I have 2 Fantasy novels, EPIC: Legacy and EPIC: Exodus, with Book 3, EPIC: Reunification in the works.

Do you stick to one genre typically? How would you classify yourself?

I like to mix it up. While the EPIC books are primarily ‘Fantasy’, I put elements of other genres in there as well, there’s drama, laugh out loud comedy, sci-fi, etc. The same holds true for my Horror works, a little something for everybody.

Let’s talk about your new Anthology. What would you like to share with readers about it?

It’s a mixed bag of older, previously released stories, as well as some new ones. I even have a piece written by my daughter when she was 16. I included it because of positive reader
response. No Nepotism! Haha

I want to get a little personal with you now. I have noticed that you are married. What does your wife think of your work? How does she handle the hours you spend in the seclusion of your mind while you work?

I usually write when she’s doing something else or if I’m alone, so there’s no struggle for my attention.

How has the rest of your family reacted to your chosen profession?

My kids are amazingly unimpressed, especially the older ones. My youngest seems to be the most supportive and proud, even though he refuses to read EPIC. Haha

I want to thank you Justin for taking some time out of your busy writing and promotion weekend to grant me this interview.

Here I have some links where you can pick up Justin’s work gentle readers. I also have included a link to his Facebook Fanpage where you can keep informed about his upcoming projects. I hope you will give a look and snatch up anything that tickles your fancy.

EPIC: Legacy

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EPIC: Exodus

Epic2_

Antholocaust

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Facebook Fanpage

Poem – Life of a Writer

Life of a Writer

Penning works of fiction or prose
So the life of a writer goes
Seeking out the darkest truth
Leftover from our own youth
But what we seek we don’t always find
For there are many corners within the mind
A treasure trove of ideas to pursue
Like blades of grass covered in morning dew
Snatch them quick and pen your verse
Lest you fall prey to the common curse
Oh I’ll get to this
I’ll write that later too
You just might miss
The Muse that favors you
Once it’s down, your fervor exhausted
Sharing brings its own troubles
Critics can make you feel assaulted
Self Doubt growing until it doubles
Then there comes the sunny day
When someone comes along to say

“Your words touched my trouble heart
Expressing what I dared not start
Thank you for sharing what I could not
And easing the pain not quite forgot
For in your words I finally knew
I was no longer all alone
Before I thought there was nothing to do
But bear what I could not condone”

The greatest praise a writer could see
Is to hear from readers like you and me
So don’t be shy with critique or praise
By both a writer’s skill you can raise
Steady on Writer of fiction or prose
Or poetry if that’s how your talent shows
Though you may face some abuse
Trust in your personal Muse

Poem – April Showers

April Showers

I gaze upon this dreary morn
Wonder where this storm is born
Rain saturates the drunken ground
Forming puddles all around

West to East the chill wind blows
Leaving sadness where ever it goes
But they say, of April showers
Without them, we have no May flowers

So while the weather keeps us indoors
We can catch up on our Spring chores
Finish now so when comes May
We can go outside to play

Don’t Doubt. Don’t Fear. Just Write.

So on Twitter yesterday I saw a call to give advice to a young/new writer in 6 words or less. Without a moment’s hesitation I knew the best advice I could give anyone, because it was something told to me once. “Don’t Doubt. Don’t Fear. Just Write.”

Don’t Doubt. Doubt is the enemy of action. The enemy of genius and most importantly, the enemy of creativity. Doubt pushes away the thoughts and clouds the processes necessary to do just about anything in life, be it writing, sports, or even interacting with other people in a social setting. I always doubted whether I was wasting my time writing or if I had any talent at all. I recently received very positive feedback on my work which crushed any doubt that I have a voice to share

Don’t Fear.  Fear can be crippling. Fear of rejection is something we have all had to face in our lives I am sure. I was so scared when I finally decided to share my writing with even my own family that I kept it to myself for years. After getting rejection letters from big publishing houses, I realized that the only thing holding me back was myself. I went ahead and self published my first novel and, other than having to market my work all by myself, I have been pleased. For me the goal was to hold a book in my own two hands with my name on it. I achieved that goal and achieving a life dream like that is a great antidote for fear.

Just Write.  Phrases, sentences, whole paragraphs. Whatever comes to you in the moment. Get it down on paper or in a document. I prefer a notebook for works of poetry but my story ideas generally end up being typed as I cannot write as fast as my mind works sometimes but I am a pretty fast typist. Whatever works for you, do it and don’t look back. Keep fighting the fight and I will see you on the literary side.

A year in review…. (One year of WordPress)

I received a notification this morning that I have been a member of WordPress for a year now. I look back and I think the last couple of months have been my best months of blogging. I got off to a rocky start. I really didn’t know what I wanted to share or if my words would mean anything to anyone else. I have met some really fantastic people on here and I am glad I made the plunge into the world of blogging.

Last July I published my first book. While I haven’t topped any best seller lists (yet!!), it is still incredible every time I look at the book and know that I wrote this. It is a piece of my mind and soul, not just a passing fancy. There is a character Bio of my main protagonist, as well as the first chapter posted on this blog.

My son turned 10 this past year and he is really becoming more and more his own personality. It was great watching him play football for the first time on an actual team. He loved it and I hope he will continue to play as it is a great outlet for his high energy level. I continue to learn more and more about being a father every day. We have started giving him an allowance to teach him responsibility with his money. He was overjoyed to be able to go online and order toys he couldn’t get in the store. To watch him count and recount the money to his mother so he could be sure he had enough for what he wanted was a sight to see.

I joined the Blogging 101 and Writing 201 courses offered on WordPress and it was a lot of fun. I found some great blogs to follow and made some more e-friends. I learned a few things about poetry and blogging in general that have been helpful as I continue this journey into the blogosphere.

Here is to another year of blogging. Cheers…