Archive for October, 2014


It’s Halloween week, which means it’s time for supernatural tales.  Some people have a thing for zombies, others hanker for sexy vampires, and then there are witches and skeletons and creepy crawly stuff.

For me it’s always been ghosts.

ghost on tr

Ever since I could trick or treat, I was nuts for ghost stories.  Sure, they scared the *%!!#! out of me and convinced me that something dark and terrible was lurking under my bed and if I dared to climb out from under the covers in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom it would grab my ankles and pull me under and….

But I still couldn’t stop reading those scary stories.

Well, in the spirit of the season I figured I should share my terror by mentioning one or two ghost books I might have read over the years.  So I went went to the bookshelf where I remembered keeping a couple and realized…

Holy crap, I’ve got a lotta ghost books!

We’re not talking fiction, either. We’re talking a broad collection of non-fiction, swear-on-The-Bible, these are absolutely true tales of the supernatural, or so the writers claim.  I have guides to haunted places in Britain (and yes, I spent one night in an allegedly haunted inn somewhere in Cornwall but saw nothing).  I’ve got several books like Psychic Visits to the Past, which are supposed to be about people witnessing slips in time, but to me come across as scary ghost tales.  Then there’s Ghosts of the Air, which are the experiences from pilots, and the inevitable books about ghosts of the Civil War or Gettysburg or just war in general.

holy ghostbuster

One of my favorites is Holy Ghostbuster, which was written by J. Aelwyn Roberts, a Welsh vicar who describes his ghostly experiences from the perspective of a spiritual man who has been to many deathbeds and in many creepy Welsh and English country houses.  It’s a classic.

I’ve got the omnibus from those two Ghost Hunters guys on the SciFi Channel, Ghost Files: The Collected Cases from Ghost Hunting and Seeking Spirits.  If nothing else, check out the photos.  I guarantee that a couple will creep you out.

Finally, there’s the book that instilled in me a permanent, paranoid fear of ghosts.  It was the very old (second edition 1926), beaten-up, taped-together True Irish Ghost Stories (compiled by Seymour and Neligan) that my parents, for some sick, warped reason, left lying around the house when I was still an impressionable tyke.  I read it cover to cover and haven’t been the same since.  If you’re interested, it’s now back in print, and while some reviewers complain that its tales are very spare and newspaper-like, for me their simplicity and factual language made them all the more real, which made them all the more unnerving.

So is it ghosts for you, or are you a zombie or vampire or other supernatural fan?

Have a great Halloween.

TV Lovers

on October 20, 2014 in Misc 10 Comments »

The last thing I need is to be hooked on another TV show.

I am now hooked on Outlander.

The main reason, of course, is that the story is fascinating and intelligent and has emotional complexity, which means that the series of novels it’s based on must be the same.  Now I wish I’d started reading those books years ago.

The show also has a fabulous leading lady, as Mike over at SLC Kismet has wisely pointed out.  She’s high-spirited and strong-willed and a skilled healer/combat nurse, and her narrative voice adds depth to the story.  Then there’s aura of mystery, the high standards of production… And oh yeah, this reason…

shirtless

That’s right.  Jaimie is one of my new fantasy lovers.  Damn.  Like I’m not distracted enough by Ichabod Crane of Sleepy Hollow, who’s still my number one.  The man with a bedroom voice, a stunning face, lyrical sentences, knee-high boots… You get the idea.

use ichabod

These men are two of the reasons why I didn’t get any writing done this weekend.  Sure, I did some plotting for my screenplay, but that isn’t much.   (WHY am I s-l-o-w-l-y writing a screenplay when the odds of selling it are a million to one?)

The fact is, we’re also having a beautiful autumn here in Colorado.  A lot of years we don’t:  last September there was terrible record flooding, and other times we have early snows that ruin the leaves.  But this year there’s a glorious riot of colors, and since I live in a very leafy neighborhood with lots of old trees, I would much rather be outside and moving than inside and writing.

Maybe when the snow starts to fall I’ll stay at my desk during daylight hours and write.  Then in the evening I’m curling up on the sofa with Jamie and Ichabod.

So who—besides your beloved significant others—do you plan to spend fantasy wintry evenings with?  (Alex, I already know that yours will be Kate Beckinsale.)

Here is my humble Ode to Genre Women. I’ve only addressed a few today but I might finish this in another posting.

sigourney

A woman in sci-fi is not very meek,

She’s high-tech and crafty, a cool-headed geek.

Whether princess or pilot, she outwits pursuers,

Alters dystopia, and takes down bad rulers.

Xena

A fantasy woman has thunderous thighs,

Long flowing hair, big breasts, and fierce eyes.

She wields a long sword, a spear or a saber,

And the fate of the world depends on her labor.

 cate

Unless she’s a fairy, a witch, maid or queen,

In which case she’s smaller and softer and lean.

Her weapons are subtle with some kind of magic;

Her motive is love, her history quite tragic.

angela lans

In mysteries the women are victims or cops,

And sometimes a killer with poisonous chops.

She can be an old lady who solves bloody crimes,

Or a toughened detective who shoots multiple times.

ava gardner

In noir all the ladies are dangerous dames;

They smolder with sex and want to play games.

They’ve all got a past and can watch a man die,

But have a soft spot for a hard private eye.

books

That’s it for now, and I hope you enjoyed these rotten rhymes. Got more any more genre lady rhymes in mind?

Have a great week.

Novel Revenge

on October 5, 2014 in Misc 8 Comments »

You may have noticed that the movie Gone Girl came out this last week.  It’s based on the bestseller that sold about half a billion copies.

NON-SPOILER ALERT:

I’m not giving anything away when I tell you that the story revolves around some pretty twisted revenge.  Not the Carrie-level, impulsive mayhem type, but some crazy payback nonetheless.

gone girl poster

I thought about Gone Girl and retribution/ revenge/ The Avengers (just kidding) a couple days ago when I learned that a lawyer I had an unpleasant legal encounter with a couple years ago, and who insulted me and pretty much called me a liar, has since gone through some hard times.  He might now be divorced and his professional life, which wasn’t exactly stellar to begin with, has slid even farther into obscurity.

God forgive me (and yes I do have spiritual beliefs), I was so happy about this news.

See, the thing is this involved a minor case of my being paid my medical deductible for an injury.  I also wanted an apology from the client.  Well, I received most of the payment but nothing else, and a part of me is still angry with the lawyer and his spineless client, and I’ve been angry with myself for not standing up for myself when I had the chance.

Sure, I should just forget the matter.  I know better than to wish misfortune on others because it’ll only come back on me (maybe that’s a superstition more than a belief, but I heed it).  Still, that memory sometimes drifts through me as if in search of a cathartic ending.  I really do believe that a sense of justice is hardwired into our genetic makeup.  We all have a sense of fairness and of right and wrong.  We want goodness to be rewarded and evil to be punished.

Okay, so this lawyer is not evil, just a mediocre twit.  And no, I most definitely do not want Gone Girl type of retribution.  But because he has had some misfortunes, most likely because he brought them on himself,  the world around me feels a little more balanced.

Maybe this is why books like Gone Girl or Carrie are so popular.  They’re over-the-top overreactions to injustices, real or imagined, that characters experience.  But if we’re not careful our sense of justice can turn psycho, which is entertaining in a movie or book but not so much fun in real life.

How about you?  Any tales of retribution or justice you’ve lived through and thought of turning into a novel?

Have a wonderful week.