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New Short Story: Tappety Tap

I had a lot of fun writing this story. It quite literally gave me the shivers – which I consider to be a good sign.

I hope you enjoy ‘Tappety Tap’. It’s not in any of my books, and it’s free to read on WordyNerdBird Writes until after Halloween.

Tappety tappety tap.

Something about the low light amplified the tiny sound that seemed to grow louder as it continued.

Tappety tappety tap.

She leaned forward to try to peer into the darkness beyond, but the leather cuffs that secured her hands behind her back restrained her movement.

Tappety tappety tappety tap.

The sound began to slow as it drew nearer, yet whatever was making the noise remained out of sight.

Tappety tappety.

An involuntary gasp escaped her lips as a spider, like none she had ever seen before, tappety-tapped its way slowly toward her. Even as anticipation unleashed a caterpillar of fear that crept up her spine and over her scalp,she watched, transfixed, as itsskeletal form crossed the floor.

The meagre light reflected dully off its bony thorax, from which extended eight legs that consisted of the clean, white phalanges of long, dextrous fingers. The tap-pet-ty tapping of its…

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Horror Scenes in Shakespeare: Hamlet’s Father Haunts Elsinore Castle

Today’s post via Shakespeare Nerd focuses on the ghostly apparition of the former king in the opening scenes of ‘Hamlet’.

Enjoy!

Shakespeare Nerd

‘Hamlet’ opens with a spooky, although not macabre, scene. This scene is all about those common elements that make horror work: creepy chills, fear and dread. 

It’s the dead of night and the guards at Elsinore Castle are going about their regular duties, except that they seem nervous: Bernardo opens with the line “Who’s there?” and Marcellus leads their conversation leads with, “What, has this thing appeared again tonight?”

They are discussing the apparition that has appeared to them on the two previous nights. As they talk, the ghost appears again. It doesn’t speak to them, it doesn’t harm them… but it definitely scares them. 

As they discuss the ghost and hypothesise as to whether or not it’s a bad omen, it returns, spreads its arms wide, and then disappears when a rooster crows. 

Afterwards, Horatio tells Hamlet about seeing the ghost, and gives more detail of how frightened they…

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Reviews – Why they mean so much to Authors and Artists

Lisa Shambrook hits the nail on the head repeatedly in this great blogpost about the life of an Indie creator.

It is so hard to achieve and maintain visibility, and it takes time and effort that authors and artists would really rather invest into writing or creating. Marketing your work sometimes feels like selling yourself. It’s a really tough gig.

A review helps to gain visibility. Attention, it seems, attracts attention, It encourages others to take a chance on a book, or a CD, or a hand-crafted item that has been created with heart and soul, time and energy, that readers, listeners and admirers may never fully understand.

So, take a look at Lisa Shambrook’s article and, whenever you get the chance, leave a review for someone who needs it— an author, a artist, a crafter, a local small business, or your favourite coffee shop. Sharing the love is easy once you get the hang of it.

The Last Krystallos

Review: to think again. It’s about considering, assessing, and to offer an opinion, and how many of us love offering an opinion? Social media is all about reviews… we’re posting about our lives, reviewing what we’ve done, where we’ve been, and sharing our thoughts about it. These days, reviewing is just another part of our life.

Reviews - Why they mean so much to Authors and Artists - The Last Krystallos

So, since we’re doing it all the time, how about taking a few minutes – the time to write a status update – to offer a review to those who need them?

It’s my birthday week this week and when I’m asked “What would you like?” – right now, I’d just love a review.

Not a review of me, I think I’m open enough for everyone to know who I am, and I don’t need a rate! I’d love a book review or an Amaranth Alchemy Etsy review.

If you love and…

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The Value of Listening.

In this highly screen-oriented world, are we losing the skill of listening?

There are four main sets of skills that English teachers work to develop in their students: reading, writing, speaking and listening. 

Over the past few years of my teaching career, I have observed that my students find listening much more difficult than the others. 

I’m not talking about them showing respect or being quiet when I’m talking – most of them are pretty good at that, thankfully. 

It’s the art of deliberate, intentional listening, focusing on what is heard and processing that kind of information, that people seem to struggle with. 

I have offered my students audiobooks to help them with reading their set texts. Most of them aren’t interested in that— not even the struggling readers, who would really benefit from that kind of assistance in getting through a book. I have also offered them podcast episodes related to the books they are studying, and I don’t recall anyone taking up the offer. 

Give them a YouTube clip, though, and they’re on it like flies at a barbecue. 

Don’t get me wrong – those YouTube clips and TED Talks can be super helpful. My issue is that people – and it’s not just kids, I’m sure – are so oriented to screens and visuals and  hooked on sensory overload that they’re losing the art of listening. 

People these days frequently have music playing while they do other things – work, run, work out, eat, walk, shop, drive, clean the house, you name it. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. But do they ever really just stop everything else and just listen to something? 

It is really healthy to turn off the “noise” of the world and the demands of a busy life and close your eyes to focus on what you can hear. You don’t even have to listen to anything in particular – it can be fascinating to see what you can hear when devices, TVs, and appliances are turned off and things are quiet, especially if you go outside.  

In terms of listening material, there is so much available that is good to listen to beyond music or commercial radio. Audiobooks are fantastic, as I’ve observed in a previous post. There are podcasts on every imaginable subject, free of charge, just begging to be listened to. Listening to talkback radio is both informative and entertaining, if you can find a station or a show you really like. 

Listening is such a valuable skill. It enriches life in so many ways. It builds relationships, enhances learning, develops understanding of the world and the different people in it, provides entertainment, aids relaxation and soothes the soul. 

If we would all just turn off the screens, close our eyes, and open our ears more, we’d be a lot better off. 

The Cow Lick Bookshop

I love finding a great bookshop. It makes me feel like I’ve stumbled on a treasure trove, and it’s all just waiting for me to plunder it. In all honesty, I do my best — within the limits of my budget, of course.

I visited the Cow LIck Bookshop for the first time yesterday. It won’t be my last visit.

An Aussie Maple Leaf, adrift on the wind...

Yesterday I was granted an opportunity I’ve been waiting for: I visited the Cow Lick Bookshop in Colac, Victoria. which I had discovered and followed on Facebook about a month ago. 

Colac is in the Western District of Victoria, in the middle of God’s own dairy farming country.  It’s about half an hour’s drive from where I live, but in the opposite direction to where I work, so I don’t get there often.

When I lived on a dairy farm at Princetown and visited Colac regularly, there was no bookstore, so I am super happy that there is such a great one there now.

Neal, the owner, is very friendly and knowledgeable. The shop is really well set up, and has a refreshingly quirky, welcoming vibe. The store has books on a wide range of subjects, with an excellent range of kids’ books, and Young Adult and general fiction. In…

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It’s All Fun and Games…

This article resonates deeply with me on so many levels. My mother used to quote things like this all the time, with her favourite being “Stop it! Stop it! Someone will get hurt in a minute!” My beloved mum is long gone, but this still gets quoted among our family in our best “Mum” voice on a regular basis.

The author of this post makes some really good points about how people treat one another, especially on social media where some seem to think that everything is acceptable because they are hiding behind a screen and a keyboard.

Cruelty is never okay. A joke among friends is one thing: mocking someone, making fun of them, calling names or deriding their character is a different beast altogether.

It really isn’t so hard to be kind. It really isn’t so hard to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and think about how they might feel.

It’s pretty basic, really, to “do to others as you would have them do to you”, but so few people seem to manage it.

In the immortal words of Maxwell Smart, “if only they used their [social media] for goodness instead of rottenness.”

Make good choices, people. Choose the positive. Choose kindness.

c.j. langer

DSCN0502…until somebody loses an eye.

Remember that gem? I’m sure my parents rolled that one out a time or two when I was finally doing something active. I’ve always been risk adverse. Better safe than sorry has been my life’s mission statement.

Yeah, sometimes I think I was born old…

But I want to change this saying to fit our wonderful social media age. I think it should be ‘it’s all fun and games until we need the people we’re making fun of’.

Because as much as I like to think I don’t need people sometimes life is much easier with people. Most of the time they were people I had just met. People who were capable of empathy, capable of being decent, friendly human beings, capable of showing someone respect just because and without judgement.

In other words, not my family…

Now, though, we have a whole generation of…

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Shakespeare Annotated: John Milton’s First Folio

Every now and then, a fascinating discovery is made that thrills scholars and literature lovers alike.

This is one such revelation: the annotations on a rare First Folio are in the handwriting of 17th century poet John Milton, author of the epic poem Paradise Lost’.

Shakespeare Nerd

John Milton – portrait attributed to Godfrey Kneller. Image: Public Domain.

This is a fascinating discovery!

A copy of the First Folio has been proven to have been annotated in John Milton’s own handwriting.

Read more about it at The Shakespeare Blog’s article titled Shakespeare annotated: John Milton’s First Folio

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Romance Is Not Dead.

Today I was browsing in a bookstore when a guy nearby did the most romantic thing I’ve witnessed in quite some time. 

He took out his phone, made a call and said, “Hi sweet, I’m just at the bookstore… do you need anything?”

I was overcome with “all the feelings” and I’m sure I had a goofy smile all over my face, despite the realisation that my dream man was a complete stranger and in a relationship with someone for whom he is willing to buy books. 

And they say romance is dead. 
What I saw and heard today proves otherwise. 

What a guy!

Pumpkin.

I love pumpkin. It’s my favourite vegetable. I love the colour and shape of them. I love the fact that they are all so different. If there were ever a type of vegetable that embraced individuality, the gourds and squashes would be it.

When I visited Canada, I loved seeing them decorating shops, gardens, front porches, letterboxes, streetscapes… they were everywhere. What really surprised me is how little pumpkin they actually seemed to eat, unless it was in a pie.

Speaking of which, I need some pumpkin pie. I adore pumpkin pie, but it’s really hard to get here in Australia.

While I’m daydreaming about that most delectable of desserts, please enjoy this rumination on ‘pumpkin’ via Sesquiotica.

Sesquiotica

It’s orange, except when it isn’t. And it’s big, except when it isn’t. But when it’s big, it can be very big, and it can keep getting bigger and bigger, sometimes until it’s too big and it just breaks right open. Hazards of competitive growing!

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Horror Scenes In Shakespeare: Banquo’s Ghost in ‘Macbeth’

Don’t let all that fancy language and the ‘thees’ and ‘thous’ fool you: Shakespeare definitely wrote some scenes that are more than worthy of Halloween reading.

The scene in which Banquo’s ghost appears in ‘Macbeth’ is a case in point.

It’s a great scene, so take a look!

Shakespeare Nerd

There is a beautifully crafted moment in Act 3, Scene 4 of ‘Macbeth’ where Macbeth, Lady Macbeth, and a group of lords gather for dinner. There is no place set for Banquo, because Macbeth knows he will not attend dinner – he cannot, because Macbeth has had him murdered. 

Just as Macbeth is about to sit down, he makes a speech saying that all the greatest men of the kingdom would be under one roof if Banquo were there, but he hasn’t deigned to join them. At that moment, Banquo’s ghost has shown up and taken Macbeth’s seat. Macbeth, not realising the others can’t see Banquo, tells Ross he can’t sit down because the table’s full. Lennox shows him to his place, and Macbeth starts acting very strangely. He directly addresses Banquo’s ghost, saying “Thou canst not say I did it: never shake thy gory locks at me.” 

This is…

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