Tag Archives: the stand

What is in a name?

Hello Scribblers!  J Monkeys coming atcha from inside a snow globe.  Or at least that’s how it looks from my office window.  A fresh batch of snow fell last night and everything in view is covered – trees, roofs, even the sky is white, matching the gently falling flakes.  Quite a contrast from the book I’ve been reading this morning.

How do you select a book at the store?  Usually, it’s one of two things that prompts me to pick something up – either a cover that attracts my attention, or the author’s name.  When it comes to authors, naturally, it’s repeat business for me – I’m buying books by authors I’ve read before and enjoyed.  Lynn Kurland, Julia Quinn, Julie Garwood, Jude Deveraux.  Sometimes it’s a new book written by a friend or acquaintance – especially when they are written in a genre that isn’t typically my cup of tea, but where I know from experience that I’ll enjoy the ride – Kristan Higgins’ contemporary romances, Katy Lee’s inspirational romances or Casey Wyatt’s urban fantasies, for example. 

This morning, I’m reading a book that I chose based on the author, but it isn’t an author whose work is familiar to me.  In fact, the book I’m reading is his debut novel.  Nor was the book/author recommended to me by a friend.  I’m reading Dracula the Un-Dead written by Dacre Stoker – great grand nephew of Bram Stoker.

dracula-the-un-deadI’m almost exactly to the half-way point in the book and it’s a delight!  It’s not scary, which is a good thing for me because I do NOT like scary stories.  Mr. King’s The Shinning still haunts me 25 years after I read it!  While I loved The Stand, there were parts that I found creepy – I remember reading it while sitting in a corner, hidden from any ghouls lurking in the ether.   But Dracula the Un-Dead seems more like a drama than horror as I think of it today.  It’s written as a sequel to the original book.  In truth it’s co-authored by Dacre Stoke and Ian Holt apparently written (according to Wikipedia) “Because of the Stokers’ frustrating history with Dracula’s copyright, Dacre with encouragement from screenwriter Ian Holt, decided to write “a sequel that bore the Stoker name” to “reestablish creative control over” the original novel.”  What an interesting idea.  I don’t know the extent to which it would reestablish copyright – but hey.

But if you’ve enjoyed the rise in vampire stories in the last decade or so, you might want to take a look at this homage to the original.  It’s well done (at least the first half!) and worth a few of your hard earned dollars.  And, again according to Wikipedia, they wrote it based on Bram’s original notes and stuff pulled out of the original novel.  Again, a cool idea. 

Today’s secret: Dracula is Un-Dead and available at the bookstore once again.  :)  Oh and by the way, they have begun filming season 6 of True Blood, speaking of popular vampires.  The delightful Mr. Skarsgard has revealed a spoiler-ish something from filming.  Click here to find out what.

Today’s question: how do you decide to buy a book?  What changes you from a browser to a buyer?

Time Travel Is a Fascinating Way to Explore!

Hello peeps!  J here.  I just finished reading 11/22/63 by Stephen King.  I mean I “just” finished.  Like 10 minutes ago.  My sister got a signed copy for Christmas and I hijacked it.  Have you heard of this book?  It’s new, just came out in November.  It was REALLY a great read.

I’m not a huge reader of Stephen King’s books.  I read The Shining when I was about 20 and it scared the bejesus out of me.  I have a very active imagination and I don’t need help getting frightening images in my head.  One day of high stress and my dreams become 3-D night-terrors for a week.  After that one twirl around the dance floor, Mr. King and I stayed on opposite sides of the ballroom.  I did read The Stand (the long one) when I was 27 (the first time – I’ve had many 27th birthdays since) and I enjoyed the story, but there were definitely parts of it where I was reading huddled into a corner of my living room where no one could sneak up on me, that’s for sure.  

Then this past summer, I was researching book trailers (see mine here…) and I came across a great trailer for Under The Dome.  If you wonder how trailers should look, check out this fabu example.  Of course, we don’t all have Mr. Kings deep pockets…which I’m sure has a lot to do with the difference between his and mine.  I was intrigued enough to get Under The Dome out of the library a few months ago.  It was also quite good, but a bit long for me.

Now, 11/22/63 is at least as big a book as Under the Dome and at 850 pages in hard cover, probably about the size of the longer version of The Stand, but the story doesn’t seem too long, or draggy.  What kept me glued to my chair wasn’t fast paced action or a heart wrenching love story, although 11/22/63 has both of those.  I was mesmerized by his detailed descriptions of life in the late 1950s and early 1960.

Gerard Butler in Timeline

I’ve been a fan of time travel stories ever since I watched Somewhere In Time at some point in the 1980s.  I read all the Constance O’day Flannery time travel romances and, of course, I absolutely devour Lynn Kurland’s time travel romances, with many other time travels thrown in for good measure.  Michael Creighton’s Timeline was a page turner and a good movie.  I’m even going to write a time travel myself this year.  But most of the TT stories I’ve read have the character traveling to a distant time – hundreds of years, or nearly so.

I was born in 1970, just two days after the Beatles broke up (hence the reason for my many 27th birthdays).  1958 is just a dozen years earlier and 1963 is just a hop skip and jump backwards, but American life as Stephen King described it is as foreign seeming to me as Lynn Kurland’s Artane castle of 1215.

soda can pull ring

I grew up with a rotary phone, dimes in my penny loafers to make a call at a pay phone, and life with only 3 channels of TV.  I can barely remember watching a black and white television, twisting the rabbit ears to find just the right angles.  I remember the invention of the pop-top soda can and the commercial with the teary-eyed Native American in his regalia climbing a mountain of litter.  But even so, I can’t picture a world where I might utter the words, “You’re my husband, so of course I’ll obey you.”  Or where I might buy a candy bar with a racial slur in its name.   King’s descriptions are so real, the flavor of a root beer, the cloudy haze of a public smoking everywhere, the narrow-mindedness of a school board firing a teacher for having the bad taste to be the victim of a home invasion.

This all struck me as so odd, that I had to ask my mom about it.  She was 10 in 1958 (she’s only 35 now, so you understand where  I get my penchant for creative math).  She clearly remembers a time when women were expected to wear hats and gloves to church and skirts to work.  And of course, defer to the wiser, stronger, more adept men in their Holly-homemaker little lives.

All of this brings me to today’s secret: time travel is a fascinating way to explore!  Our 2012 sensibilities might be affronted by life in an earlier time, but that’s kind of what makes it so interesting to imagine.

Today’s question: What’s your favorite time?  I’m hard pressed to choose between  medieval England, Revolutionary America or maybe even the 1950’s.  I sure would like to taste that root beer.

Here Comes the Story of the Hurricane…

Hi!  J here.  I know, it’s been a week already and you are sick of hurricane stories.  I can’t help it!  I’m Saturday’s Scribe.  I haven’t had a chance to weigh in yet.  So stick with me a minute. 

I love adventure stories which comes as no surprise since that what I write.  I like all kinds of adventures: those that come with a romance (time travels – what bigger adventure could there be?) and those that don’t (thrillers and who-done-it types).  And like many people, I love disaster stories.  Movies of global disaster like Deep Impact, Armageddon, Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow.  Or movies of smaller disasters like The Poseidon Adventure, Twister, Dante’s Peak, Volcano.   And books like Jess Anderson’s Nightkeepers series, the Left Behind series (well, the first 8 at least…) by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins, The Stand by Steven King. I love them all!

In fact, my earliest stories, created to amuse myself on the mile walk home from Illing Junior High School, centered around disasters.  What would I do if a freak blizzard left me stranded all alone for weeks at the local strip mall?  How would I survive?  Who should I miraculously rescue to keep me company?  Might there be kissing?  Hey – I was 13…

It’s not much of a leap from those imaginings to The Cordovan Vault where a pair of 14-year-olds find their world flipped on its end and have to scramble to survive.  Look for The Peacock Tale: Book 2 in the Livingston-Wexford Adventures on October 18th. 

As storms go, hurricane Irene was a bust for me (our power didn’t even blink and the wind was no stronger than anything we see in a normal storm) but it got me thinking about personal disasters like that of Hurricane Carter.  Click here to hear Bob Dylan’s great song about it and if you haven’t seen it, Denzel Washington starred in a wonderful movie about that travesty. 

But whether fictional or based on true events, the personal disaster is at the core of many stories, across many genres, including my own.  Hopefully I’ve managed to develop a more sophisticated tale than I dreamed up when I was in 9th grade, but at its heart, my tale is a disaster story. 

Today’s Secret: next time you are stumped about where your story should go, consider writing in a disaster.  What could/would/should happen if that freak blizzard strikes, or if an innocent man minding his own business is mistaken for a criminal.

Today’s Question: what’s your favorite disaster movie?  I like the personal disaster Steath, starring my fav Josh Lucas. 

Isn't he dreamy?