Happy Birthday to Edgar Allan Poe!

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Happy 209th birthday to Edgar Allan Poe, one of America’s greatest writers! Not only is Mr. Poe one of the most important writers of Gothic literature, in which he explored the darkness in the human soul, but also he is considered to be the father of the modern detective story. In his detective M. Dupin, Poe laid the groundwork, in terms of observation and deduction, for the great Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Among his best short stories are “The Fall of the House Of Usher”, “The Masque of The Red Death”, “The Tell-Tale Heart” and “The Purloined Letter.”

Equally as important as his fiction is his extraordinary poetry. My two favorites are “Annabel Lee” and “The Raven.” When reading these, please try doing it out loud. Hearing the words gives life to the rhythm of the poems.

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I first encountered Poe as a student in 8th grade. For some reason, many consider his works to be juvenile writing, but that is a complete misreading of his deeply complex work. I have studied his writing in graduate school, and I also teach his work in a variety of college courses, both at the Wescoe School of Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA and at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA.

If you have never read his work, do yourself a favor, and read from one of the masters of writing.

Again, here’s to you Mr. Poe!

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A Simple Hope For Writers

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To all the writers out there, whoever you are and wherever you may be, please remember to value yourselves, to respect your efforts, and to keep on writing.

Also please remember, writing comes from dedication and consistency and not from waiting for inspiration.

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Please follow the following links to find my novel:

ebook

Print book

Thank you!

The book trailer:

Maledicus:Investigative Paranormal Society Book I

My radio interview:

interview

 

 

Quotations on Character

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“Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently.”

                                                                     Maya Angelou

 

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“All men make mistakes, but a good man yields when he knows his course is wrong, and repairs the evil. The only crime is pride.”

                                                                          Sophocles

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“Knowledge will give you power, but character respect.”

                                                                          Bruce Lee

Helen Murray’s Homemade Chicken Soup

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Helen Murray, first appearing as a client and then a warrior in my horror novel Maledicus: The Investigative Paranormal Society, Book 1, has become in Gallows Hill: The Investigative Paranormal Society, Book 2, a full member of this society. Originally, I had envisioned this series to be three books, each featuring one of three older gentleman who made up the group, but now there will be a fourth book, and that will focus on Helen.

Continuing with my exploration of the characters’ love of food, I will offer Helen’s homemade chicken soup, a simple, but delicious, meal.

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It begins with a baked turkey!  After cooking and enjoying the bird, Helen carves all the meat, leaving only the bones.  Then she makes her own stock.  She places the bones in a large stock pan, adds carrots, onions, curly parsley, celery, and any other vegetables she might have handy.  Then she adds water close to the top of the stock pot and brings the water to a boil. She turns it to a simmer and lets it cook  for 8-9 hours. After it is finished, Helen carefully removes the vegetables and bones and strains the broth and stores it in the refrigerator over night.

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The next day Helen makes the soup!

INGREDIENTS: (all of these ingredients are included by choice, except the stock and chicken. Use the amounts you desire)

*turkey stock

*boneless chicken thighs (1-2 pounds)

*carrots

*corn

*green beans

*other vegetables as desired

*1 lb bag of wide noodles

*black pepper and salt (as desired)

*dill weed

*touch of paprika

Process:

Combine ingredients into stock, except for noodles.

Heat slowly for several hours.

Season to taste.

With approximately 10-15 minutes to go, add noodles (if desired).

Serve and enjoy with good bread!

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Please follow the following links to find my novel:

ebook

Print book

Thank you!

The book trailer:

Maledicus:Investigative Paranormal Society Book I

My radio interview:

interview

 

 

Beautiful Writing: Part 7, Frank Delaney

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Frank Delaney was a brilliant writer, historian, and journalist who was born and lived in Ireland. As a novelist, he wrote, among other books, Ireland A Novel, Shannon, Tipperary, and The Last Storyteller. Delaney’s work is insightful, lyrical, and beautiful. I have used Ireland A Novel in my Irish Literature class at the Wescoe School of Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA, and the adult students loved it. In this novel, Delaney weaves a double narration of the history of Ireland as told by the last seanchai–the Gaelic word for storyteller– with the family history of Ronan O’Mara, a boy of nine when the book begins.

For those interested in Irish history and culture and for those who love a magnificent family drama,  I give this extraordinary novel the highest recommendation!

I offer a few quotations from the novel:

“No, I’ve never separated history from myth,” said the great voice. “I don’t think you can in Ireland.” (151)

“Here in Ireland, we’ve received most of our inner riches from Mother Nature. In olden days, the monks in the abbeys made art from natural matters. They were inspired by the sights they saw every day–a rabbit leaving its burrow; a fox running across a hillside with its red bush of a tail streaming out behind it; a horse standing in a field, its back to the rain; a hawk making its point far up  in the sky. And even their painting materials also came from the nonhuman world–bird’s feathers and colors from the earth.

So: all our expression, all our means of saying what’s in our souls, came first from the universe that we see every day around us, out under the air.” (264)

“I cannot satisfactorily explain this widespread individualism, but when I try to grasp it, or discuss it with people who have been listening to my stories, I often feel I come close to a greater understanding of the whole island; this forty thousand square miles of Atlantic land has a vivid fame the world over. What caused it? Do we talk so long and so loud that everyone hears us? Or did it come about because we put the first dent in the might British Empire?

Perhaps our writers did it. I would like to think that they did, because they came from my tradition–poetic, journeyman storytellers who may have twisted and fractured the forms of language along the way but who have always tried to get the flavor across.

Liken it to a stew, a tapestry–anything that draws a final impression from mixed and visible ingredients. The individual counties when melded give me the whole island. We are illogical–the man from Carlow taught me that. And how violent we are; to kill a British soldier matters not a blink to men I have met, no thought of how his eyes closed, where his blood flowed, if he tried to breathe at the last minute and found he couldn’t and panicked.

. . . We are seers too–or so we say. Islands appearing in the oceans of the coast surprise no one; strange birds in farmyards portend death; ghosts stride hillsides.  what I mean is–we are infinitely permissive of possibility ; we rule out nothing.” (397-398)

Please do yourselves a favor, and give yourselves a gift, and read this book!

 

Quotations on History

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“If you don’t know history, then you don’t know anything. You are a leaf that doesn’t know it is part of a tree. ”

                                                                         Michael Crichton

 

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“The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.”

                                                                        George Orwell

 

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“Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.”

                                                                        Edmund Burke

 

Doc Chuck’s Recommended Readings–Revisited

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This blogpost was written several years ago, but I thought it was worth revisiting, especially because I love to suggest books for people to read.

I had the good fortune this week of delivering a talk at the Muhlenberg College Board of Associates Meeting on the topic of Great Books.  I spoke with the audience for about 20-25 minutes about what I consider to be great books and why they matter. The main argument I made about the importance of books is that they connect us as people.  I am an unreserved humanist; I believe that human beings have the power to improve themselves, that education is crucial to develop of an informed  society, and that books allow readers to experience the worlds of others.

The audience was one of professionals from many fields but very few English Literature majors; however, their interest in reading and books was heartening for me.  They wanted to hear suggestions about what books I would recommend.

In my classes, I sometimes do something I call — Chuck’s recommended readings.  I ask the students to write the title and author and then tell them that what they do with that information is entirely up to them.  Since several of the attendees of this talk asked for further suggestions, I decided to put together a list, very abbreviated I admit, of books I would recommend.  Some of them I consider among the best and most important books ever written, and some I simply found to be wonderful and entertaining.

Now, the list:

Doc Chuck’s Recommended Readings
Agee, James and Walker Evans. Let Us Now Praise Famous Men.

Allende, Isabel. The House of the Spirits.

Bradbury, Ray. Fahrenheit 451.

Brown, Larry. Fay.

Cervantes, Miguel De. Don Quixote.

Delaney, Frank. Ireland.

Dickens, Charles. A Tale of Two Cities.

Doyle, Roddy. A Star Called Henry.

Eco, Umberto. The Name of the Rose.

Gaiman, Neil. American Gods.

Grass, Günter. The Tin Drum.

Helprin, Mark. A Soldier of the Great War.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . The Pacific and Other Stories.

Hemingway, Ernest. For Whom The Bell Tolls.

Homer. The Iliad.

. . . . . . . The Odyssey.

King, Stephen. Hearts In Atlantis.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . The Stand.

Lee, Harper.  To Kill A Mockingbird.

Poe, Edgar Allan.  Complete Works.

Rice, Anne. Interview With the Vampire.

Rowling, J. K. The entire Harry Potter series.

Shakespeare, William. The Collected Works.

Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein.

Steinbeck, John. The Grapes of Wrath.

Stoker, Bram. Dracula.

Tolkien, J. R. R. The Lord of the Rings.

Twain, Mark. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

Zafon, Carlos Ruiz. The Shadow of the Wind.

Zusak, Markus. The Book Thief.

I am certain there are many books I have forgotten to mention.  This is neither intended to be all-inclusive, nor is it meant to be authoritarian.  I hope that someone may find a book or books from this list, read them, and enjoy them.

Happy reading!

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Please follow the following links to find my novel:

ebook

Print book

Thank you!

The book trailer:

Maledicus:Investigative Paranormal Society Book I

My radio interview:

interview