Quotations on Books

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“A room without books is like a body without a soul.”

                             Marcus Tullius Cicero

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“Books are the perfect entertainment: no commercials, no batteries, hours of enjoyment for each dollar spent. What I wonder is why everybody doesn’t carry a book around for those inevitable dead spots in life.”

                                            Stephen King

 

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“We live for books.”

                                             Umberto Eco

 

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“Books are the food and drink for the human soul.”

                                Charles F. French

To Writers

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To all the writers who read this blog:

This is a very difficult time for all of us. Please remember to do the best that you can to endure. Please remember to value yourselves and your writing. Please remember that you are writers, no matter if you are published, self-published, or beginning a work. Please remember that if you write, then you are a writer.

Be proud of yourselves.

Value your writing.

Keep writing!

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November Self-Promotion Party!

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Hello to all the writers out there and reading this blog!

It is well into the month of November, so it is time for a shameless self-promotion party; please do not be shy about your work.

Writers need to be their own best publicists, and we should also help each other!

Let the world know about your book(s)!

Promote them as much as you can!

Shout to the world about your writing!

Tell us about your book(s), and leave an image and a link if you can.

Here is my shameless self-promotion: my latest nonfiction book can help writers who have issues with finishing first drafts of their books. If that is you, I offer direct, practical advice on how to Get The Draft Done! Helping Writers Finish Their First Draft by Charles F. French.

In order for as many people to see your work as possible, please Tweet, and reblog this post!

Please remember to be proud of your work!

My latest novel, just released is Evil Lives After: The Investigative Paranormal Society, Book 3.

Available on Amazon

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Get The Draft Done! is available here: Amazon.com

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Gallows Hill can be found here in ebook.

Gallows Hill in paperback can be found here.

An interview about Gallows Hill can be found here.

32570160

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

coverIPScookbook

Available on Amazon

New Poems by Robert Fillman

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I am honored to announce the publications of new poetry by the extraordinary poet, Robert Fillman!

“Witness” which appears in Split Rock Review

Witness

Probably by now, my friend
has recovered from the shock
of finding his pet rooster
headless and strung to the fence.
He has no doubt untangled
the thing, his bare hands perhaps
sticky with feathers and stained
with blood, the knees of his pants
maybe cool, wet from kneeling
on damp earth, having buried
the bird, taking care to smooth
the mound with a shovel, still
not realizing what transpired,
how he had hunted it down
before dawn and drunk with rage
bent over its body, choked
last crows from its throat and stole
the morning light from its eyes
before returning to his
home and probably crawling
into bed, without knowing
what he was capable of,
how late he’d sleep, what silence
would follow his every step
when he finally started
his long list of daily chores.

Three poems in hamiltonstone
 

Promises

My father didn’t talk

much to me as a kid.

So each sentence glimmered

 

as if it reflected

his eyes and not the mug

of beer lifted beneath

 

the yellow kitchen light

those nights on Union Street.

My son’s hesitant Yes

 

I would like that brings me

back to words my father

never said but guided

 

into me with his hands,

the even syllables

of a saw pulled across

 

a two-by-four, the rasp

of a taping knife scraped

over spackle, the smack

 

of an old baseball trapped

in the web of his glove.

Each act translated back

 

to a promise of love,

the only way he knew

how to cure the silence.

Omen

The mountain as severe

as my grandfather’s brow

in that small airless room

during his final hours,

I see a barn owl soar

out of the ridge’s mouth,

its big head, terrible

eyes cursing all color,

as if it were hell-bent

on draining the season

 

of red maple, black gum—

every leaf a target.

It doesn’t seem to know

the difference between

misery and mercy,

the living and the dead,

that my grandfather warned

Go easy on your kids

before he closed his eyes

and slipped away his hand.

 

My body suddenly

tight, bracing for a blow,

as if I am the prey,

a small, soft animal,

yet I’m surprised to feel 

a fluff of brown feathers

then a rush of wings that

beats on, flooding my ears

with what could only be 

the sound of a last breath.

 

The Vanity of It All

Two months into quarantine

and I’m still shaving my head,

scraping a razor across

the curve of my skull every

single night, the edge of each

blade sounding like my mother’s

cheerful voice those mornings she

greeted me at the breakfast

table with pink lips, bluish

black mascara, two eyebrows

perfectly penciled on. Her

uniform for a long day

of chores in an empty house,

the sagging clotheslines, the hours

of stirring sauce on the stove,

all the dirty dishes stacked

in the sink, my father’s shirts

piled for ironing, shower

and toilet always needing

to be scrubbed. In the bathroom

steam I’m staring at myself

in the mirror as I rub

a palm over scalp to feel

some small comfort. I lean in,

clicking my tongue if I spot

even one errant hair I

might have missed, those wisps I am

desperately hiding from

whom? My wife and kids? Maybe

a delivery man or

that nice neighbor who brings us

our groceries? All the while

my mind tries to smooth away

this human need of keeping

up appearances, this strange

compulsion to polish things,

with every swipe of the blade

memories of my mother’s

painted face reflecting bright

in the shine of a brass pot.

And two poems in Innessfree Journal

On date night my wife must choose

 

between love and food because
her body will not allow
her both, so I ask her to
starve herself in one way so

I can be satisfied in
another. Last night I grew
frustrated by her illness,
selfishly imagining

how every spoonful to her
lips was a cold betrayal,
willingness to twist with pain
on the couch and not with me,

heating pad strapped to her gut,
the nausea setting in,
all color drained from her face,
as if each little swallow

were another nail punching
through the white skin of her breast.
Now I’m left wondering if
my depravity caused this

crucifixion, how all she
craved was a scoop of ice cream
from the cafe down the street,
how I will writhe in hell,

be made to atone for these
wicked thoughts, no saint to save
me, no matter how badly
I hunger for forgiveness. 

 
 
Learning to Listen

I remind both kids to be
extra good today, insist
their mother doesn’t feel well,
that she has to stay in bed—
and hate myself for it.

            Kids
should be able to be kids.
But when my son suddenly
leaps onto the couch and makes
the springs cheep and squeak I snap,
ask why he never listens,
threaten to send him to his
room alone if he doesn’t
stop, my voice breaking apart
when I notice the redness
of his cheeks, the tears that will 
follow.

             Then I consider  
how only moments before
the three of us were huddled
by the window watching four
goldfinches peck at feeders
on our porch, how my daughter
said they were a family
flitting about, their frank chirps
a break from the hard silence. 

Robert Fillman is the author of the chapbook November Weather Spell (Main Street Rag, 2019). His poems have appeared in The Hollins Critic, Poetry East, Sugar House Review, Tar River Poetry, Valparaiso Poetry Review, and others. Fillman earned a Ph.D. in English from Lehigh University and is an Assistant Professor at Kutztown University.   

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Available for purchase at:

The Main Street Rag Online Bookstore

Favorite Horror Films: Part Eleven: The Horror of Dracula

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I am returning to my series of examinations of horror movies through various decades.  After the great horror  cycle of movies from Universal Studios in the 1930s and 1940s culminating in the Abbott and Costello spoofs, serious horror movies vanished for a period. They were replaced by the spate of giant critter movies spawned by the fears of nuclear fallout post World War Two and the ominous threat of nuclear Armageddon of the Cold War.

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(https://en.wikipedia.org)

In 1958, Hammer Studios, a British film company initiated a new cycle of horror films with the release of Horror of Dracula (the American title) or Dracula (the British title).  This film not only allowed this film studio to emerge as a major force in horror films, but also it spawned a new cycle in horror that would span nearly two decades. The film starred Sir Christopher Lee as Dracula, Peter Cushing as Dr. Van Helsing, and Michael Gough as  Arthur Holmwood and was directed by Terence Fisher.

Christopher_Lee_at_the_Berlin_International_Film_Festival_2013

(https://en.wikipedia.org)

This film dramatically changed the course of horror films.  Prior to Horror Of Dracula, most horror movies, especially  the classic Universal films were shot in black and white; this film was in vivid color. Also changed noticeably from the 1931 Dracula with Bela Lugosi was the pacing and the level of over sexuality and violence. This movie moved at a very rapid pace with condensed action and compression of characters from the book.  A very lively film score added to the tension and feeling of almost constant movement.

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(https://fr.wikipedia.org)

Christopher Lee brought an imposing physicality to the role and played the count with a noble British accent. He showed great strength and mobility in his performance. And this film introduced  the vampire with fangs and blood.  When he emerges in full fury after the vampire girl has attacked Jonathan Harker, he is a demonic image.  This was a representation of the vampire that was entirely new and very powerful.

In Britain, this movie received an X rating because of its, what was for the time, overt sexuality and violence. The women sometimes wore low cut gowns, and Dracula’s attacks carried a not too subtle sexuality, although by today’s standards, this shocking sensuality certainly would be tame or almost quaint.

Horror Of Dracula was a success both financially and critically. Hammer studios would make numerous sequels to this film and would also base the release of other movies, principally on Dr. Frankenstein, on their good fortune. If you enjoy horror films and have not seen this particular movie, I recommend it.

evi lives after cover

Evil Lives After is available at

Amazon

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Get The Draft Done! is available here: Amazon.com

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Gallows Hill can be found here in ebook.

Gallows Hill in paperback can be found here.

An interview about Gallows Hill can be found here.

32570160

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

Available on Amazon

coverIPScookbook

Available on Amazon

Favorite Horror Films: Part Ten: The Curse Of Frankenstein

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(https://en.wikipedia.org)

Terence Fisher directed The Curse of Frankenstein for Hammer Studios in England, and Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing and Hazel Court starred. This 1957 movie was the first in the Hammer Studio’s emergence as a major producer of horror films and it was the beginning of a new horror movie cycle. The result was an innovative, fast paced, and  vividly colored film. Hammer Studios completely changed the approach to horror movies of the Universal Studios that had dominated the horror movie cycle from 1931-1945. Color, explicit violence, and sexuality were introduced as central filmic components.

The Curse of Frankenstein was, like so many other movies, loosely based on the great work of Gothic English Literature by Mary Shelley: Frankenstein: Or The Modern Prometheus (1818). Yes, that is the accurate subtitle, although it is usually omitted in most printings of the book.

Frankenstein_1818_edition_title_page

(https://en.wikipedia.org)

This movie was highly successful, both financially and critically.  And like Horror of Dracula would, as Hammer Studios expanded their treatments of classic Gothic novels, it spawned a long series of sequels. A major difference between the direction of the following films was the focus: the monster Dracula was the recurring character in the vampire movies, while Dr. Frankenstein, and not his creature was the repeating protagonist/antagonist of the Frankenstein movies. This is also an  important distinction between the Hammer and the earlier Universal movies in which the Creature was the primary recurring character.

The Creature was also a mindless killing machine in this film, and none of the Creature’s humanity was kept from the novel, which is the film’s major flaw. It is, nevertheless, an important film from this era, and if you enjoy or are interested in horror films, then I recommend it.

evi lives after cover

Evil Lives After is available at

Amazon

GetthedraftdonepossEbookcover!-page-001

Get The Draft Done! is available here: Amazon.com

GallowsHillFinalCoverEbook

Gallows Hill can be found here in ebook.

Gallows Hill in paperback can be found here.

An interview about Gallows Hill can be found here.

32570160

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

Available on Amazon

coverIPScookbook

Available on Amazon

Evil Lives After: The Investigative Paranormal Society, Book 3 by Charles F French is released!

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I am very excited to announce that the 3rd book in my series of ghost investigators is officially released!

Evil Lives After: The Investigative Paranormal Society, Book 3 is now available for purchase on Amazon!

This novel continues my series begun with Maledicus: The Investigative Paranormal Society, Book 1 and then continued with Gallows Hill: The Investigative Paranormal Society, Book 2.

In Evil Lives After:The Investigative Paranormal Society, Book 3, the Investigative Paranormal Society confronts an enemy that is both human and supernatural, one that the world faced down in World War Two and is confronted by as a growing menace today, that of Fascism. Jeremy leads the battle against the ghost of an American Nazi who lived during W.W.II and his grandson, who are both attempting to change the course of history and establish an American Reich. Freedom rests on their actions.

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Favorite Horror Films: Part Nine: The Wolfman

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“Even a man who is pure at heart
and says his prayers by night
may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms
and the autumn moon is bright.” (The Wolfman)

This is the well-known saying that is at the heart of the 1941 Universal Studios film The Wolfman. This film completes the quartet of monsters that are at the heart of the Universal horror franchise: the Frankenstein Monster, Dracula, The Mummy, and the Wolfman. While there were certainly other creatures and monsters in the films in this time period, these are the four most prominent.

While we see science run out of control and ancient evils in the other films, in The Wolfman, we view a story of tragedy that is focused on an ordinary man, Larry Talbot, who is swept up in unfortunate events beyond his control. Because he is bitten by a werewolf while trying to save a girl and lives, Larry Talbot is fated to become such a beast himself.

The director and producer was George Waggner, and the writer was Kurt Siodmak. Most of our contemporary views about werewolf behavior do not come from ancient traditions or medieval European beliefs but from the mythology that Siodmak created for this movie. Siodmak created the idea that the time of the full moon is when a werewolf takes it form and that to become one, a person must be bitten by a werewolf and survive.

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More importantly, he included elements of tragedy, of a man fated to murder and to be destroyed, despite his desire to be a good person. The incantation the gypsy woman Maleva intones over Larry Talbot after his death illustrates this theme:

“The way you walked was thorny through no fault of your own, but as the rain enters the soil, the river enters the sea, so tears run to a predestined end. Now you will have peace for eternity.” (The Wolfman)

Siodmak also addressed contemporary issues, specifically the idea of a star marking the next victim of a werewolf, much like a star marking the Jewish people of Europe by the Nazis. Siodmak was a German Jew who had been successful as a writer but had to flee Germany with the take over by the Nazis. While the reference is not direct, it is still a clear metaphor for the horrors of the Nazis. The film demonstrates that evil is both natural and human created.

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In addition to excellent writing, the cast was also of the very best. Along side the star Lon Chaney Jr. were Claude Rains, Ralph Bellamy, Bela Lugosi, Maria Ouspenskaya, and Evelyn Ankers. Jack Pierce, as in the other main Universal horror films, created the unforgettable makeup that is the foundation for all other filmic and literary werewolves.

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It was a film that was excellent in every level of production, and it maintains its excellence today.

If you have never seen this film, I recommend it highly!

evi lives after cover

(coming soon!)

GetthedraftdonepossEbookcover!-page-001

Get The Draft Done! is available here: Amazon.com

GallowsHillFinalCoverEbook

Gallows Hill can be found here in ebook.

Gallows Hill in paperback can be found here.

An interview about Gallows Hill can be found here.

32570160

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

Available on Amazon

coverIPScookbook

Available on Amazon

Favorite Horror Movies: Part Seven: The Invisible Man

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The Invisible Man

The-Invisible-Man

(en.wikipedia.org)

One of the more interesting and unusual horror films of the 1930s is The Invisible Man, directed by James Whale and produced by Carl Laemelle Jr. for Universal Studios (1933). This film is based on H.G. Wells’ novel of the same name, and it is a reasonably close adaptation of the book. Some changes were made to the story line, notably the addition of a love interest and moving the time from the Victorian Era to the 1930s.

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(en.wikipedia.org)

The film was unusual in the caliber and sophistication of the special effects, which still hold up to contemporary scrutiny.  It is important to remember that these filmmakers were not using computer generated images to create their effects; rather, they were forced to create from ingenuity, creating new techniques in cinematic art.  The end result shows visual images that are still powerful and compelling.

The story is well told and excellently acted. Claude Rains  stars as Dr. Griffin, the Invisible Man, and he does a superb job in his performance. He creates a convincing character of the scientist, who much like Victor Frankenstein, exhibits hubris in his research.  He succeeds in finding the way to invisibility but goes insane as a result and becomes homicidal. The film ends with his character being chased down and killed, and before perishing, he admits he should not have explored forbidden areas of science.  Again, this reinforces the theme earlier seen in Frankenstein.

Another interesting theme that is hinted at in this movie is the danger of drug abuse, as also show in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Dr. Griffin uses a drug identified as “monocane” in his formula, and the consequences are his becoming dangerously insane. While he does not use the drug as an addict might, he still ruins his life through its usage.

The film did well at the box office and is considered by many critics, including me, to be one of the best horror films of the 1930s.

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(https://en.m.wikipedia.org)

evi lives after cover

(coming soon!)

GetthedraftdonepossEbookcover!-page-001

Get The Draft Done! is available here: Amazon.com

GallowsHillFinalCoverEbook

Gallows Hill can be found here in ebook.

Gallows Hill in paperback can be found here.

An interview about Gallows Hill can be found here.

32570160

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

Available on Amazon

coverIPScookbook

Available on Amazon

Favorite Horror Movies: Part Six: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

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(https://en.wikipedia.org)

Based on Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde from 1886 , which gave the world the epitome of the double, one of the central characteristics of the Gothic genre, this 1932 film is one of the best horror films of that decade or any other time. Robert Mamoulian directed and Adolph Zukor produced the film for Paramount.  Fredric March played Jekyll and Hyde and won the 1932 Oscar® for Best Actor. The film was expensive, coming in at approximately one half million dollars to make, and it was also a financial as well as critical success, making about one and one quarter million dollars–a huge amount of money in those days.

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(https://en.wikipedia.org)

The film is an excellent adaptation of the novella, something I rarely say about any film.  I love films almost as much as I do books, but almost any adaptation of a film is inferior to the book. The novel has the ability to speak directly to the reader, and the reader’s mind creates images that go much further and deeper than the particular aspect of a director’s vision, at least usually.  Stevenson’s novella is oddly short and would have benefited from begin developed in much more depth.  I can speak to that in another post in the future.  This film develops much of what is only hinted at in the Victorian era novella and is one of the few examples of when a film is superior to the book on which it is based.

The book hints at being a metaphor for drug addiction and the concurrent behavior of addicts, when their worst selves emerge. This film, in a manner that is overt for the early 1930s, visually makes these suggestions.  When Jekyll transforms for the first time, Mamoulian uses Jekyll’s POV (point of view) and shows us the images whirling through his mind.  Rather than eliminating his negative and evil impulses, he manages to bring them out to the front, and Mr. Hyde indulges his desires.

The book and the film also speak to the issue of the misuse of science and the unguarded pursuit of knowledge. This hubris, always punished by the gods in Greek Drama, was seen earlier in Frankenstein, and it is an issue that will continue to haunt us not only in contemporary films such as Jurassic Park but also in the very real world of scientific research.  Atomic weapons immediately come to mind as an example of how science can produce terrible as well as wonderful ends.  This film, in Gothic fashion, speaks to the problems of scientific hubris, uncontrolled by ethics.

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(https://en.wikipedia.org)

Fredric March was one of the great leading men of the time. He had a long and extraordinary career, including winning the Best Actor Oscar® two times.  Arguably, his performance in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was his best work of his career.

If you have never had the opportunity to watch this film, I recommend it highly.

evi lives after cover

(coming soon!)

GetthedraftdonepossEbookcover!-page-001

Get The Draft Done! is available here: Amazon.com

GallowsHillFinalCoverEbook

Gallows Hill can be found here in ebook.

Gallows Hill in paperback can be found here.

An interview about Gallows Hill can be found here.

32570160

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

FOE_Cover_French

Available on Amazon

coverIPScookbook

Available on Amazon