Pinned: Spring into Horror Readathon

Hosted by Michelle @ Seasons of Reading

The one main “rule” of Spring Into Horror is that you must read ONE scary book (which can be a thriller, mystery, Gothic novel, or similar for those who are faint of heart). The rest of the week…anything goes!

TBR

I’ve been following my reading whims lately so I’ve been a little reluctant to schedule anything specific, but I have several “scary” books in my immediate TBR:

Infernal Parade The Janus Tree and Other Stories The Island of Dr. Moreau
  • Infernal Parade by Clive Barker
  • The Janus Tree and Other Stories by Glen Hirshberg
  • The Island of Dr. Moreau by H.G. Wells (changed out with the less-horror aspected The Invisible Man)
  • And who knows what else from my shelves!

Writing Update, 4/12

(The #1LineWed theme was “wise.” Searching through my ms, I realized I use “otherwise” a lot.)

Progress
I finished my Wicked Witch, Retired reread/rewrite last week. Yay! (Yes, it took a month to get through 58,000 words…) Started writing new words Monday. Schlepped the laptop to the library yesterday which went pretty well aside from losing confidence in the bus I was on and deciding to walk two miles to my transfer.

There’s a lot of travel in this book and I’m very close to setting distances between things and speed scores to various travel methods so I can get the timing down.

What is This?
Wicked Witch, Retired is my current writing project. It is the sort-of sequel to a flash story I wrote, “Wicked Witch for Hire,” which is currently available in the anthology Bounded in a Nutshell.

#1lineWed is a Twitter event hosted by @RWAKissofDeath. Every Wednesday writers share a line of their current work-in-progress based on a theme.

It’s Monday, What Are You… (4/10)

…Reading?

Adelaide Herrmann Queen of Magic The Map of Time

I seriously thought about joining Tome Topple last week in order to make some headway on Map of Time, but I decided I really wanted to start Adelaide Herrmann, Queen of Magic. I’d been putting Adelaide aside in favor of other reading events since I purchased the book in December.

Short stories this week:

  • “The Toymaker’s Daughter” by Arundhati Hazra
  • “A Green Silk Dress and a Wedding-Death” by Cat Hellisen
  • “The Haunting of Jezebeth” by Paula Cappa

It's Monday! What Are You ReadingIt’s Monday! What Are You Reading, hosted by Book Date!

…Watching?

Specifically, this morning:

Marvel isn’t quite as good as DC at the rock ‘n’ roll superhero trailers, but they’re trying. This is definitely integrating the Guardians of the Galaxy universe in glorious 70s tone as well as content. But it was the last bit with Thor and Hulk that made me laugh. Laughing, not an easy thing at 7:30am and only a half cup of coffee and no ibuprofen in me.

…Doing?

This should be a quieter week than last, with only one league game instead of two. Ultimate frisbee four days in a row was rough. Easter dinner with my parents on Sunday.

Deal Me In, Week 14 ~ “Bluebeard’s Wife”

(Deal Me In logo above created by Mannomoi at Dilettante Artiste)
(Deal Me In logo above created by Mannomoi at Dilettante Artiste)

Hosted by Jay @ Bibliophilopolis
What’s Deal Me In?

“Bluebeard’s Wife” by T. Kingfisher

Card picked: A
From: Available online!

The Story

He had apparently been a very evil man, but not actually a bad one. Althea had spent the last few months trying to get her mind around how such a thing was possible.

What if Bluebeard’s wife hadn’t looked into the forbidden room? What if, with two boundary-defying sisters in her past, she has no problem letting her husband have a room of his own? It’s not like she’s giving him the key to her diary. A room full of dead bodies isn’t something that can be kept a secret forever, but what if remains truly a secret for twenty-seven years of fairly happy marriage?

The classic story of Bluebeard is a weighty tale. T. Kingfisher (aka Ursula Vernon) handles it with her signature light touch and knowing nods to the original.

Personal Trivia
For many years, I confused the tales of Bluebeard and Blackbeard. I found it very strange that a pirate would keep a room full of dead wives on his ship. The only other things I have a similar problem with are kingfishers and the Fisher King. So, it seems inordinately appropriate that “Bluebeard’s Wife” is written by T. Kingfisher.

Writing Update, 4/5

Progress
In March, I started a read-through/rewrite of the first 58K of Wicked Witch, Retired. I’ve taken way too long with it, but I’m making a push this week to get through the last 10 very messy pages. The read-through/rewrite has been a good experience. I nailed down some plot things that I had let slide while rushing with new words, and generally solidified what’s going on.

What is This?
Wicked Witch, Retired is my current writing project. It is the sort-of sequel to a flash story I wrote, “Wicked Witch for Hire,” which is currently available in the anthology Bounded in a Nutshell.

#1lineWed is a Twitter event hosted by @RWAKissofDeath. Every Wednesday writers share a line of their current work-in-progress based on a theme.

Review ~ Exclusive Magical Secrets

Cover via AbeBooks

Exclusive Magical Secrets by Will Goldston

Exclusive Magical Secrets, along with the later More Exclusive Magical Secrets (1921) and Further Exclusive Magical Secrets (1927) were part of the “locked books” by Will Goldston. Each book came with a padlock and key with a clasp built into the book to keep the book, in a cheap red leather binding, closed. Thus, you were not able to walk in a magic shop (Goldston’s, mainly) and browse the book. (via Magicpedia)

Why was I interested in this book?
I was particularly interested in the chapter on Buatier de Kolta and his expanding cube mystery. Buatier’s was a forerunner to Joseffy’s similar trick. The chapter did not disappoint. It presented a nice-sized bio of Buatier and De Kolta, since the origins of the act involved two men.

What Worked
Exclusive Magical Secrets is a weird little collection of magic subjects. There is an range of how-tos from small pocket magic to theater-scale stage illusions, but then there is also the de Kolta bio—the only biography in the book— and individual chapters on subjects like a whist-playing automaton, quick-changes, juggling effects, and a nice bit of philosophy concerning comedy before a section on comedic tricks. (And, yes, a couple escapes contributed by Houdini…)

It took Goldston a decade to put the book together, but he didn’t seem to end up with a cohesive treatise. Instead Exclusive Magical Secrets is sort of a survey on different types of magic that might actually be more useful than if he delved into only one aspect.

Will Goldston magician
Will Goldston, 1911
What Didn’t Work
Reading about how magic tricks are done can be really boring. Goldston actually has a pretty light touch, but if you’re not really intending to perform the tricks, any instruction can be a little mind-numbing.

Originally published in 1921, it’s also a somewhat dated. Many common objects and situations aren’t so common any more. Also, “Chinese magic” was a prominent fad at the time of the publication. Goldston doesn’t hide the fact than many Chinese acts were performed by white Western magicians, but he also has no problem with that.

Overall
If you don’t want to know how magic tricks are done (even ones that are 100 years old), this isn’t the book for you. If you do want to know how modern magic is done, there are a few tidbits here and there that are still applicable. If you’re into magic history, this is a glimpse into the style of the time with a few glances back to even older magic acts. I picked up my copy used at Bookmans and it was well worth it for the chapter on de Kolta alone.

Publishing info, my copy: trade paperback, Dover Publications, Inc, 1977
Acquired: 11/19/16, Bookmans
Genre: non-fiction

Visit my Magic Picks shop if you’d like your own copy.
(Amazon associates store)

Deal Me In, Week 13 ~ “The Apparition”

(Deal Me In logo above created by Mannomoi at Dilettante Artiste)
(Deal Me In logo above created by Mannomoi at Dilettante Artiste)

Hosted by Jay @ Bibliophilopolis
What’s Deal Me In?

“The Apparition” by Guy de Maupassant

Card picked: Q
From: The Literature Network, probably via The October Reading Club

The Story

The old Marquis de la Tour-Samuel, who was eighty-two, rose,and, leaning his elbow on the mantelpiece, said in his somewhat shaky voice:

“I also know of something strange, so strange that it has haunted me all my life. …”

Thus, in classic style, Guy de Maupassant begins this ghostly tale.

When the Marquis was a mere twenty-six years old and a brash soldier, he met an old friend who had obviously fallen on some hard times. While the Marquis hadn’t seen this friend in only five years, the man looked like he’d aged thirty. His friend asked a favor of him: to go to his estate and retrieve three packets of letters from a desk in his bedroom. Seemingly a simple task, the Marquis agrees (even though his friend admits that he never wishes to reenter the house and gives no reason). His friend provides him with a letter to give to the gardener to grant him access to the house. The gardener is rather confused by the letter and the request, but the Marquis is undaunted. The house is very run-down and he finds the bedroom dark and musty. The shutters are rusted shut so the Marquis must go about his search in near darkness. It is after the second pack of letters that the Marquis realizes that he is not alone in the room.

This is one of those ghost stories that doesn’t provide much background or explanation. The Marquis comes away from the experience badly frightened—he has been afraid of the dark for the past fifty-six years—but we’re never given the back story of his friend or the ghostly woman. When the Marquis returns to town, he sends the letters to his friend, but his friend then goes missing. What was in the letters? Or even in the letter that the Marquis gives to the gardener? We never know.

The ghost in this tale also bears some resemblance to the Japanese yūrei and I wonder how familiar Maupassant was with Lafcadio Hearn’s Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things (although I realize that the white-clad, dark-haired appearance of the yūrei might be more of a modern trend).

Still, a chilling tale for October or April.