Celebrating Mary Shelley’s Birth Date, August 30, 1797
“Invention, it must be humbly admitted, does not consist in creating out of void, but out of chaos …” Mary Shelley
Every year, the most ardent Mary Shelley fans remember this author on August 30. Frankenstein is still one of the most popular and enduring novels since its publication in 1818. We spend time reading her short stories and browsing her biographies, maybe discovering a new fact about her life and writing.
Did you know Frankenstein was inspired by a nightmare? In the preface of the third edition of the novel, Mary says that Frankenstein came to her in a dream. During a sleepless night in her dark room, behind closed shutters “with the moonlight struggling to get through … I saw with shut eyes, but acute mental vision – I saw the pale student of unhallowed arts…
I generally love a good thunderstorm. Tonight, I appreciate it even more than usual.
Growing up, I loved seeing Snoopy start his stories with “It was a dark and stormy night”. I used to giggle at that clichè long before I understood the deeper allusion to the fact that authors sometimes use the weather to reflect or foreshadow what characters in their stories feel or experience.
This is a literary device known as pathetic fallacy. It is used to set mood and tone in a piece of writing or art, emphasising emotions and heightening reactions. Rain can be used to reflect sorrow or misery, dark clouds can suggest anger or resentment, and a storm can suggest conflict, inner turmoil or violence.
If you’ve ever read ‘Wuthering Heights’ by Emily Bronte, you will have experienced pathetic fallacy being used so expertly that you may not have even noticed. Blended seamlessly with gothic imagery, turbulent relationships and the isolation of the Yorkshire moors, Bronte’s use of snow, rain, storms, cold and dark makes for incredibly powerful writing. Who can forget Cathy at the window during that storm, begging Heathcliff to let her in? It’s legendary because it is powerful, emotive writing that embeds its imagery in the consciousness of the reader.
My other favourite example of pathetic fallacy is Shakespeare’s King Lear shouting at the snowstorm, “Blow, wind, and crack your cheeks! Rage, blow!” Lear has literally been left out in the cold by his daughters Goneril and Regan, who have exploited his love and trust before throwing him out, homeless and broke. It’s such a potent scene — the depths of human coldness are amplified by the vision of a broken-hearted old man outside in a blizzard. It is chilling in more ways than one, and possibly one of Shakespeare’s finest scenes.
At other times, pathetic fallacy seems predictable and cliched. Sometimes it is almost painfully obvious and clunky. It often appears to be overused by authors who don’t have the finesse required to make it work — possibly because when authors do have that skill and it is done well, it it works as it is intended to without irritating the reader.
Tonight, nature is doing the author’s work for me. Outside, it is indeed a dark and stormy night. It has been raining steadily for hours now, thunder rolls and reverberates every now and then, and a draught of wind occasionally howls at the door. I am sitting in my father’s hospital room, having been called in late at night because he has been distressed and agitated. I have shed tears while talking with family members or sending messages. My emotions are all over the place. I’m both incredibly tired and wide awake.
A rainy night with the occasional rumble of thunder is most fitting.
There is massive irony in authors complaining that they can’t reach readers or find an audience while failing to list their books on a site where readers will actively look for books in their genre.
Sure, BookBub began as niche marketing, but it has very quickly become mainstream to the point where it’s becoming as popular among readers as GoodReads. There are good reasons for that: BookBub is very user-friendly, well organised and easy on the eye. Sharing a book from BookBub to other social media is straightforward, achieved simply by clicking a couple of buttons.
As a reader and reviewer, I’m always dismayed when I read a great Indie book and find that I can’t review it on Bookbub because the author or publisher hasn’t listed it there.
Not only are those authors missing out on free promotion, they are overlooking a place where readers flock to find something new to read.
As an author, I love BookBub.
When readers mark one of my books as “Want to Read” all their followers see that. When readers review or recommend one of my books, everyone sees that.
I get a weekly email that tells me how many profile views, recommendations and new followers I’ve had that week. And it’s completely free to be an author on BookBub. You don’t have to pay for promotion there if you choose not to: that’s totally optional.
If you’re an author and your books aren’t on BookBub, that’s something you should probably fix sooner rather than later. Unless, of course, you’re happy with lower visibility and fewer opportunities to reach readers. That’s a choice that is entirely yours to make.
Why Indie Authors Should Have Their Books on BookBub #IndieAuthorsBeSeen #IndieBooksBeSeen #authorlife #bookmarketing #IndieAuthors #BookBub
Audible has released a whole bunch of audiobooks for kids and families absolutely free, called Stories.
There’s an extensive range of books for kids of all ages, from ‘Littlest Listeners’ to teens, and some excellent literary classics, too!
What a fantastic opportunity for beating the lockdown blues! It’s great to see one of the big companies taking the initiative to offer something to help us all out by feeding our imaginations and entertaining our families.
An Audible membership is not required, so anyone can use it. As it is browser based, no credit card or personal information is needed to listen. It works on phone, laptop and tablet.
Completely free #audiobooks for kids and families to #ListenTo while #stayinghome – fantastic! Thanks, @Audible!
This week, February 7, is the birth date of Charles Dickens. How many of us have read his ghostly inspired The Trial for Murder? Let’s focus on Dickens today to remember this timeless author and his life.
A quick 30-minute read, this story is a dive into 19th century England, murder, a trial, and a ghost. Because Dickens was a court reporter during Victorian times, we can appreciate the accuracy and characterization of this murder trial.
During the 1830s, Dickens covered Parliament and British elections for the Morning Chronicle. Many of his fans know that Dickens owned a beloved raven “Grip.” Dickens believed that his pet raven was immeasurably more knowing and “could make a very queer character of him.”
He was a member of the Ghost Club along with Arthur Conan…
I really enjoy the story of Beowulf. I read it with my Year 9 students in English, and we explore the ways in which the poetry and storytelling are similar or different to the ways in which things are done now.
That’s why I was excited to learn of the existence of The Seafarer, another AngloSaxon poem of similar vintage, which was almost lost to history for all time.
It, too, is written in Old English, and uses similar devices of imagery and poetic narrative to those found in Beowulf, such as kennings and alliteration. This poem, though, reads more like a dramatic monologue than an epic heroic adventure, and is far more religious and deeply spiritual than the secular, wildly fantastic and, at times, quite superstitious story of Beowulf.
What treasures these stories and poems are – snippets of the past that have survived the centuries despite the best efforts of warring tribes and religious authorities alike to destroy everything that stood between them and the power they sought over Britain and her people.
I didn’t need this quiz to tell me I’m a book lover, and it certainly won’t come as any surprise to seasoned readers of this blog.
Still, it’s a fun quiz that highlights the fun things about loving great books.
For the record, there were three things on this list that i didn’t check off.
I haven’t missed a bus or train stop because I’ve been engrossed in a book in at least 30 years, simply because public transport isn’t really a thing where I live.
I haven’t joined, or thought about joining a book club, because my experience tells me that I like different books than most people. The minute I joined, they’d choose for us all to read some soppy romance or militant women’s fiction, and I’d have to fake my own death to escape. It really is a better choice to just leave them to it.
If you want to know what books I enjoy, follow my Book Squirrel blog for reviews and recommendations!
Just to make it clear, this is not a contest that people can vote on. This is an entirely subjective and preference-driven selection process. Book Squirrel knows what he likes, and that’s what he reads. When he reads, he always leaves a review. And on the Book Squirrel blog, he awards gold, silver or bronze acorns instead of a star rating system.
At the end of the year, he chooses the best of the books he has read and reviewed, and gives some nice shiny awards to the wonderful authors who entertained and enlightened him in the past twelve months.
This year, gold and silver awards were given to books in 20 genres, across a variety of age ranges, interests and styles.
While Book Squirrel is fully committed to being as fair and impartial as a squirrel can be, so you can be sure that the winners of Golden Squirrel Awards are excellent reads, and worthy of recognition.
Christmas Eve is one week away, and it’s an unavoidable deadline for buying gifts. If you’re stuck wondering what to buy for the book lover in your life this Christmas, here are some great suggestions.
A voucher or gift card from their favourite bookstore. In this case, vouchers are not impersonal or thoughtless: the greatest joy for an avid reader is browsing a bookstore and choosing their next escape. If you wanted to add a personal touch, you could always wrap the voucher with a nice bookmark or some chocolate.
Alternatively, you could create a voucher of your own, gifting them an expedition to the store where you accompany them and buy whatever book they choose. This would definitely make it more personal, and give you an opportunity to spend some time together too.
An assortment of their favourite reading snacks. Coffee, tea, nuts, chocolates and candy go very nicely together into a box or hamper with a note or card that says ‘For while you are reading!’
If they grind their own coffee at home, some freshly roasted coffee beans will always be a hit.
A cosy blanket to snuggle in while reading.
Reading time! Often, readers are kept from their books by the demands of life. A voucher that promises two or three uninterrupted hours of reading time while you mind their kids, walk their dog, cook dinner for their family or clean their house for them is a great way to show your love and appreciation for them. Keep in mind, though, that if you choose this option, you need to keep that promise or you will have a very sad reader on your hands!
A subscription to Audible. Busy people who love books will often greatly enjoy and appreciate being able to listen to great books while they do other things. They even get their first audiobook free! If they already have a subscription, you could supplement that by gifting them with extra credits.
I hope you have found these gift suggestions helpful. Is it wrong to also hope that my own family and friends are reading them?
Sonnets are hard to write. There are rhyme and rhythm patterns that one must observe and maintain, which force the poet to refine and craft their words meticulously so that no nuances of meaning are lost in the interests of obeying the rules.
I have written one sonnet of which I am very proud.
I have also written several others which are pretty rubbish, and therefore will never publish them. I firmly believe that their value lies in the learning and the practice, rather than in the reading. Failure can, after all, be a most effective instructor.
I hope you enjoy the poems this post has to offer, and find yourself more informed about the beauty and complexity of the sonnet when you leave it than when you arrived.
10 Classic Examples of the Sonnet Form via Interesting Literature
The sonnet form is one of the oldest and most popular poetic forms in European literature, having been invented in the thirteenth century and used since by poets as varied as Petrarch, Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Christina Rossetti, Tony Harrison, Carol Ann Duffy, and Simon Armitage. Below, we offer […]