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The holiday season is upon us, and I hope you are all enjoying yourselves. I know I’ve been on the quiet side for some time, but I’ve been dealing with some health issues (which I’ll discuss down the road, it’s still not fully resolved yet). But I’ve also been working on a special project for the last 2 years. It’s been quite a journey with this particular effort of mine, as it’s part audiobook and part video. 

As you all know I’ve done a fair amount of audio work, but adding video was a whole new ballgame for me. Getting everything lined up just right, finding imagery in public domain, as well as music to go along with it, took a considerable amount of time and energies. But I feel like the results were worth it. I learned a lot along the way and may actually start doing some podcasting in the near future. We’ll see.

But for now, I’d like to present to you all to a brand-new Unabridged presentation of Mr. Charles Dicken’s classic “A Christmas Carol”. It’s up on YouTube and you can reach it simply by clicking on the image below:

Why I chose this particular work is explained in the opening of the video itself, but I’ll briefly summarize my reasoning here. After years of watching all the versions created for film and television, I finally read the novella itself and discovered that a large proportion of the story never makes it to the screen. And as I read, I found myself occasionally reading aloud in various voices I assigned the characters in my head. So, after actually doing audiobooks, I felt it was time to give Mr. Dicken’s story a shot. 

So far, my beta-viewers were all pleased and impressed with the finished project. And I hope all of you will be as well. 

Please leave any comments on YouTube, as well as hitting the Like button if you enjoy what I’ve brought you. 

I am considering doing some more Christmas related ghost stories down the road, as I’ve discovered a trove of such stories available in the public domain. For those who don’t know, ghost stories at Christmas was a time-honored tradition over in Europe, long before Mr. Dickens created his famous novella. I’ll go into why this was so in more detail in my next post, but for now please enjoy my holiday season offering and stay safe my friends.

And as always, keep writing and recording, everyone.

Veteran’s Day 2022


Reblogged from Aurora Jean Alexander’s blog “Writer’s Treasure Chest“…

Writer's Treasure Chest

Picture courtesy of Guideposts.org

Prayer:

Lord, You know how deep a warrior’s wounds go. You see many of our veterans’ loss in body and soul. You know the memories that haunt them and the scars that many of them continue to carry. Please bring healing to those veterans who are still hurt. Please grant patience and wisdom to those around them who cannot understand but can sometimes help the healing process. Please apply both natural and supernatural medicine to their wounds.”

(Source: https://guideposts.org/how-we-help/military-outreach-stories/5-prayers-for-veterans/)


Letters from Home John Michael Montgomery

Lyrics

My Dearest son, it’s almost June
I hope this letter catches up with you
And finds you well
It’s been dry
But they’re callin’ for rain
And everything’s the same old same
In Johnsonville
Your stubborn old daddy
Ain’t said too much
But I’m sure you know
He sends his love
And she goes on
In a letter from home

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Yesterday I was scrolling through YouTube and ran across something that really caught my eye.

Yes, I’m one of those people who when the Halloween season rolls around, I break out all kinds of horror movies, especially the black and white ones. And I freely admit that I’ve watched this classic gem many times. 

However, it wasn’t the full movie that was being advertised. Instead, this was a 40-minute video about ‘deleted’ scenes from this movie, which immediately caught my attention. Pausing only to grab a cup of tea, I sat down for a good viewing and was not disappointed. Now, I’m not saying that they had actual footage that was left out of the final cut, but what they did have took me completely by surprise.

For those who are less familiar with the old universal black and white monster films, I’ll give you a quick rundown here. This video covered the actors who played Frankenstein’s monster. 

For the first 3 films it was Boris Karloff who had been handpicked by the director James Whale, even though Bela Lugosi was originally intended to play the role. However, Lugosi thought he’d be playing Dr. Frankenstein not the creature, so when they went with Karloff instead, he was not overly disappointed. Now the story arc between these 3 films was pretty well connected. The first movie involved the creature’s creation and subsequently being villainized by villagers because of his appearance and an accidental drowning of a young girl (please keep in mind the creature had the mind of a child for the most part and didn’t understand that tossing a little girl into the water who did not know how to swim was a mistake).  Then he was hunted by the villagers and his creator and left to die in a fire.

The second movie took right up where the first left off with the creature surviving and wandering the woods where he seeks companionship and after saving a young woman from drowning, he is again hunted by villagers. Eventually he makes friends with a blind hermit who teaches him to talk and be happy, only to have this taken away as well by frightened angry people. By the end of the film he and another mad doctor force Dr. Frankenstein to make him a mate, who rejects him. The creature then proceeds to try and destroy himself. saying he and his ‘bride’ belong dead, not among the living.

So you see a real continuity in the character throughout these films. Good editing really helps the stories feel cohesive. In the 3rd film the monster no longer speaks, but it is clear he suffered more damage from the explosion and has only one friend, Igor the hunchback who is a wicked creature himself and takes advantage of the monster being easily guided or misguided in this case. 

In the 4th movie Igor is still leading the monster (now played by Lon Chaney Jr as Karloff felt he was too old to handle the physical demands of playing the monster), continuing to rely on the creature’s needy nature for a friend, to do bad things. Yet, at points, the creature shows kind and compassion side. At one point when he’s wandered off on his own, he helps a little girl retrieve her balloon from a tall building. Later in the film, after locating one of the sons of the original Dr. Frankenstein, Igor convinces the man to correct his father’s mistake by giving the creature a new brain. Young Dr. Frankenstein agrees and plans to use the brain of a recently killed colleague. Only Igor interferes by working with the doctor’s assistance to have his own brain placed inside the monster’s indestructible body. The result is the monster is now able to speak, in Igor’s voice, and is cleverer and more dangerous than ever before. However, there is a problem, due to a mismatch in their chemistry, and the Igor/creature becomes blind and lashes out starting another fire that seemingly destroys all within the building.

So up to this point we have a good continuity with explanations throughout the series of films. However, the next movie “Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man” is where it all goes downhill as far as continuity is concerned. In this movie, the creature is not able to speak anymore for some reason. Also, the way Bela Lugosi (who finally got another chance to play the creature, as Lon Chaney was playing the Wolf Man of course in the film) moves about the sets one would think that maybe the monster may still be blind? Neither of these facts are explained in the movie and of course another scientist is introduced who goes ahead and tries to put the monster back to full strength, with the intention of then siphoning off the lifeforce of both the creature and the wolf man to put an end to each of them. Of course, angry villagers blow up a dam nearby while the two monsters are battling it out inside the lab thus apparently destroying both once again… until the 5th movie. 

Yet for years I asked myself, why the sudden change in continuity? What happened? Well yesterday, I got my answers, which brings me back to the deleted scenes video. Those answers, which I’m about to share has left me more than a little sad for what happened in the studio’s editing room.

The host of the video explains that a copy of the original script, which was used in the film, has been on the internet for some time and held all the answers to my questions. In the original shooting of the movie, the monster (played by Bela Lugosi) DID speak! Also, he was still talking in the Igor voice. Furthermore, he was still blind as well, which explained by Bela moved the way he did (as if he couldn’t see properly) throughout most of the movie.

There were also some great dialogues between the monster and Lawrence Talbot (the Wolf Man), sharing their thoughts and feelings, as well as each other’s desires. The monster, wanted to be restored to full strength hoping he’d get his eyesight back, as well as planning to make others fear him and leave him alone, or allow him to take power over entire villages, cities, even countries. Again, we see the sinister intellect and drive of Igor’s brain at work. And as I said before, they find a doctor who is supposed to help them both. Lying to the creature, he promises to bring him back to full strength while planning to actually the lifeforce out of both to destroy the creature and to allow Talbot to end his curse of lycanthropy.

Sounds like the original cut was great, right? So what happened? 

The test audiences loved the film, the story, the action… but they had one little problem. That problem was Lugosi’s accent. Folks thought it was kind of weird to hear the Frankenstein monster talking in a Hungarian accent. So, the studio panicked and went back to re-edit the movie removing all of Bela’s dialogue. Even in the scenes that remained we can see his lips moving as if he were talking, but instead of reshooting all his scenes they either cut or simply removed his part of the soundtrack.

This to me was a grave mistake. As I’d said earlier, growing up I felt a serious disconnect between the “Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man” and all the earlier films, so it was clearly apparent to others. Yet, because it was the first time in movie history two legendary creatures crossed paths in the same film, it did quite well at the box office, spawning 2 more films in the Frankenstein series, with the creature continuing to be mute and less sympathetic for the most part. 

Still that interruption in the continuity of the Frankenstein films, is very jarring, I have heard this many times especially coming from viewers in modern day who watch them all and left wondering what happened to the monster’s personality and ability to speak.

And of course, the culprit was too much editing! A danger that every person who is writing a series must be careful of. Your readers want continuity, as well as unanswered questions and plot points from earlier books. The audience becomes invested in those characters and situations, so they want to see things get resolved at some point in the books and definitely before series is brought to an end. 

So, we must be extremely careful when it comes to those edits. Whether you’re doing the editing or have hired someone else, remember to think long and hard about what’s being suggested you cut or change. Yes, it may slow down the process of getting the book published, but your readers are counting on you to deliver a solid tale that fits in nicely with the rest of your series. Because believe me, if you don’t, the same word of mouth that helps bring more readers to your work, can also drive new customers away. 

That’s all for today. Take care and keep writing and recording my friends.

BONUS THOUGHTS:

For those who have never watched the original Universal Frankenstein Films here the titles in order:   

FRANKENSTEIN (1931)    BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1935)
SON OF FRANKENSTEIN (1939)
GHOST OF FRANKENSTEIN (1942)
FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLF MAN (1943)
HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1944)
HOUSE OF DRACULA (1945) – in spite of the title, this is considered part of the franchise since it     directly follows the events of House of Frankenstein. It is also considered the final film in the series.

And for anyone who wishes to check out the YouTube Video with the ‘Deleted Scenes’ here is the link:

My Thoughts on Draft2Digital…


Recently I’ve been struggling to try and get Helen’s short story collection up onto Smashwords, with less than sterling results. Now, in case anyone out there isn’t familiar with Smashwords, they use an entirely different format style than say Amazon’s KDP. By the same token, they also have a wide distribution that includes Barnes and Noble Nook, Kobo, Scribd, and a host of other sites which includes distributors for public libraries.

Now after successfully getting our first book up on Smashwords, I created a template to make things easier for future submissions. And until recently, this template worked every time. I would simply change a few details like title, year of publishing, etc. then I would simply copy and paste the new manuscript into that template. 

However, this time something went horribly wrong. We kept getting messages that there were problems with the formatting of the document and at one point, I even uploaded the corrected manuscript onto Smashwords under an existing title of a completely different book, which of course led to more messages about the formatting being incorrect. Well, in this particular case, I still had the original formatted file that had been accepted by Smashwords a few years ago, and resubmitted it to the correct title. Unfortunately, I got a message back saying that file was now incorrect as well. Long story short, I discovered that MS Word has some new autocorrect features and changes that were altering the old template I’d created that made in incompatible with Smashwords requirements. And try as I might, even using the Nuclear Option on the original document, issues kept cropping up with ever submission to Smashwords.

At this point, we were considering dropping Smashwords and losing their numerous distributors and going exclusively with KDP. Then I read about a e-book publishing option for indie authors called Draft2Digital. I had only vaguely heard of them in passing so I didn’t know much about them. Still, I checked out their distributors and lo and behold, they had just about all the same ones as Smashwords, including some I’d never heard of before. But that wasn’t all! I also discovered that they and Smashwords (since they had so much in common) were in the process of merging into one company.

So, I decided to check them out even further. Long story short, I signed up with Draft2Digital and have taken 2 books down from Smashwords “The Vampyre Blogs – Coming Home” 

and “The Vampyre Blogs – One Day At a Time”. 

*FYI, “The Vampyre Blogs – One Day At” was the book where I screwed up the interior with the wrong file.

I was also able to get Helen’s book “W. I. T. C. H. Hunters Forever” uploaded onto Draf2Digital as well. 

Now you might be asking, “Was it worth the effort?” To which I reply, “Absolutely YES!” 

You see, Draf2Digital (D2D) is much easier to work with than Smashwords and even KDP in many respects. Their system does all the formatting for you. And I do mean all! You can take an unformatted manuscript and upload it to D2D, and it will create a working table of contents for you as well as offer some pretty nifty options to make your book’s interior even more intriguing to the reader. There are little themed designs that can be applied to the beginning of every chapter, as well as within the chapter itself if you have a change of viewpoint/scenery taking place.

They will also supply you with an option to have a pre-submitted author bio that you can plug in with every new book, with an option to update that bio whenever you wish.  Plus, a lot more. You still have room for a dedication page, introduction, acknowledgements, etc. as well. 

Also, you they give you the opportunity to have a ‘Teaser’ section for one of your other books, as well as an “Also by This Author” section. It’s very easy and upload a book and get it up and running with them. 

Now I will admit, I had a learning curve of how to use all the options and make changes to the manuscript at first (but I couldn’t help but play around and experiment). But once you’ve learned them, you can literally be ready to go within minutes. 

Where I recently struggled with Smashwords for over a week, I got books up and running on D2D within less than a day.

As far as percentages go, you will get 60% on every sale (30% goes to the distributor and 10% goes to D2D), the same as on Smashwords. But for the simplicity of use and the extra options, I really think going with D2d was a no-brainer.

What about any of you? Have you had experience with D2D and what were your feelings about it? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below so we can all learn from each other.

Until next time, stay safe and keep writing my friends.


Kindle Pre-Orders are being taken now for Helen’s “W. I. T. C. H. Hunters Forever” a short-story collection/spinoff of her Forever Detective Series of books. Here you’ll find some familiar faces such as Clara Thomas, Sir Lynn Fox her brother-in-law/wizard, Medium Brown a spiritualist accountant, plus many new faces. Here’s more:


When he heard about Hitler’s interest in seeking out artifacts and legends, British wizard Sir Lynn Fox knew he needed a group with unusual talents to do more and better. W.I.T.C.H. Hunters is that group.
This collection of stories gives us a sample of the wide variety within the group: a sympathetic healer, a hedge witch with a penchant for sleuthing, a telekinetic sculptress, a spiritualist accountant, a demonologist monk, two Antipodean adventurers, and one extraordinarily ordinary woman who wants to do her part, and an immortal cat.


Order your copy now and have it arrive in your e-mail this Saturday:

Amazon US Link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0B8YFYH8G

Amazon UK Link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0B8YFYH8G

Amazon CA Link: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B0B8YFYH8G

Amazon AU Link: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B0B8YFYH8G

*NOTE: Paperback editions and Smashwords, Kobo, Apple and other links will be available this Saturday


It’s been a while since I did a book review so I’d say we’re do for a new one. Right? Well even if you said no, this post is going to be a book review anyway, especially since the book in question is by an author I’ve long heard about and was a huge influence on HP Lovecraft (one of my favorite authors of all time).

Now some of you may have already figured out who I’m talking about, but for those who haven’t caught on, I’m referring to Lord Dunsany (better known by friends and family as Edward Plunkett, the 18th Baron of Dunsany).

Now as I said before, I’ve heard of Lord Dunsany from my collection of HP Lovecraft books which often reference his lordship as having a big influence on the creator of the Cthulhu Mythos. And I’d been rather interested in trying some of his work for some time. However, I’m one of those readers who likes shall we say… a sampling of an author’s work before committing myself to a full novel. So, I read a lot of collections and anthologies by various authors and choose who I want to read more of from there. In fact, that was how I discovered Mr. Lovecraft.

Well last year for Halloween, Helen and I were exchanging Trick or Treat bags. Due to the pandemic we decided to fill a bag for each other at Halloween with odds and ends with a creepy/spooky themes. We don’t have kids but have always loved decorating for the holiday and giving goodies out to trick or treaters. Plus we love costuming and have hit more than our fair share of conventions over the years. So we started this little tradition between ourselves to keep Halloween special for each other.

Well, one of the things I found in my bag was of course this little treasure:

After thanking her profusely (and affectionately) I dove right in and discovered I had gotten quite a wonderful treat indeed.

The collection is broken up into 4 sections: Men, Heroes and Wonders, Jorkens and Gods. Each tale quickly grabbed my attention and I was fascinated in his lordship’s storytelling style. Whether the setting be in the author’s sense of modern day (late 1800’s early 1900’s) or a far distant time, he sets the stage in such an easy manner that the reader can imagine the setting and the characters in beautiful detail. 

His tales can be curious, entertaining (especially the Jorkens’ stories), mystical, or unnerving. But each one is original in its own right, even when dealing with a familiar theme like spirits and hauntings. In one tale titled simply “The Ghosts” he spins a yarn that at first seems very familiar then adds an brand new element I’d never seen used in any ghost story that took the tale to a whole new level for me. “

“Thirteen at Table” was another spirit-related tale that also took a turn I had not seen coming, with delightful results.

His lordship also creates wondrous places such as the beautiful yet doomed Bethmoora, or Yann and other fascinating destinations in which the readers of Mr. Lovecraft can clearly see the influence of Lord Dunsany on the latter.

Then there are the Jorkens Tales, which focus on that one chap you meet in a club or a bar, who always seems to have the most unusual stories to tell you that he insists are true, and you can’t help but wonder if he’s not right.

And of course there are the tales of the gods and the creation and end of men and worlds, each told with such lush detail that the reader can feel a little sad at the end.

This volume also contains some beautiful artwork by Lord Dunsany’s collaborator Sidney Sime who’s talents well compliment his lordship’s stories.

A must read for fans of Lovecraft and August Derleth.


The Vampyre Blogs - Private Edition

Happy 4th of July Everyone!

Tonight’s fireworks display was spectacular as always. I have to say here in Pointer we know how to party. There was a huge barbecue in the park as always where most of the families converged. Marisa, me and a few others like Teddy had blast. There was the annual softball game, frisbees flying everywhere, and the traditional water balloon toss. And as per usual, the waterballoon game turned into an all out water pistol fight thanks to ‘certain’ individuals who’s name begins and ends with the letter N. Naturally, Uncle Nathan denies the charges even though he was the one who handed me a couple of the water pistols himself claiming they were “Strictly for self-defense.”

He doesn’t realize I saw him pull another one out of his costume and nailed Marisa with it. Then he had the nerve to tell her it was me…

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Musings Of Two Creative Minds

When I started out on this writing journey, I never saw myself as someone who could a whole bunch of writing projects going at the same time.  That kind of thing was reserved for some of the great prolific authors like Isaac Asimov, who was notorious for working on multiple projects on a regular basis.  The man insisted on having a portable typewriter or two wherever he went.  And if he couldn’t get his hands on a typewriter, he’d pull out a pad of paper and a bunch of pencils/pens and wrote the old fashion way, long hand.

But me, I could never picture myself even thinking about working on more than one story at a time.  In fact, the very first novel I started working on was set in the early 1800’s and I had gotten about 2/3’s of the way through the tale when my wife pointed out…

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Authors beware when reading and signing contracts… here’s an egregious attempt to steal an authors rights to their own works.

Writer's Treasure Chest

Hi, everyone. My name isMichael Capobianco, and although I’ve been an adjunct member of Writer Beware for some time now, this is my first official blog post.

I’m also the Chair of SFWA’sContracts Committee, which means I see a lot of bad contracts, both for book-length and short fiction. I’ve gotten used to much of the unfortunate and often contradictory clauses in these contracts, but last week I ran into something that caught my attention: a virtually identical terrible clause in two separate small publishers’ book contracts, a clause that I had never seen before.

Both contracts were for original fiction, but aside from the fact that neither paid an advance, they looked fairly different from one another until they came to this clause. To save you any further suspense, here it is:

The Publisher reserves all copyright, trademark and other intellectual property rights in and…

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The Vampyre Blogs - Private Edition

*In honor of the ending of World War I, I’m re-posting this story from several years ago. I have never done another because I don’t think I could surpass its message of gratitude to those who paid the ultimate price for serving their country. And to all who loved them, God bless and keep you all.”*

     The Soldier appeared again this year, just as he has over almost a hundred and fifty years.  The first reports of him showing up here in Pointer date back to 1868 when the first Decoration Day (now called Memorial Day) was held.  At the time most people assumed he was merely a veteran but when he moved there was no sound,  and when he spoke everyone felt compelled to listen.  It was as if an enchantment had been cast over all.  He spoke of each soldier from the town who had fallen during…

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