Garrett’s Bones by K.D. Dowdall–a review

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Garrett’s Bones by K. D. Dowdall is a book that will satisfy readers from the young to the, may I say, more experienced and older. Dowdall combines suspense, intrigue, excellent character development, themes of the forest and spirits, along with a well-paced and well-developed plot into a book that resonates with power and beauty.

This novel is both a coming-of-age Bildungsroman and an exploration of themes of good against evil. The main characters, Garrett and Anna, are young and have a complex relationship throughout the book. It is one of the strengths of the novel that Dowdall creates multi-dimensional characters whose hopes and dreams, fears and anxieties, strengths and weaknesses permeate the tale.

Additionally, this book speaks of the supernatural as well as history, love as well as hatred, and life as well as death. I was moved when I read it, and I consider it to be an extraordinary novel. I give it a 5 star, full-hearted, unreserved recommendation! This is a book to be put on everyone’s to-read list!

Garrett’s Bones by K.D. Dowdall will engage your imagination!

Please visit Karen’s site! https://karendowdall.com/author/kddowdall/

Writing Quotations

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Here are a few of my favorite writing quotations:

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“You put one word after another until you are done.”

                                                                                   Neil Gaiman

 

 

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“If you write books, you go one page at a time.”

                                                                                   Stephen King

 

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“I don’t fiddle or edit or change while I’m going through that first draft.”

                                                                                   Nora Roberts

March Writing Progress

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As I was working on a draft of one of my books yesterday, I realized that I had not give my monthly report on my writing progress.  My apologies for tardiness!

I received excellent feedback from a fellow blogger on my novel Evil Lives After –thank you!  I finished the 9th draft, and I am now currently working on smaller revisions for the 10th draft, which I hope will be done this month. Then I have to decide–do I keep trying to get an agent for it, or do I self-publish? I am leaning now towards self-publishing this book.

I am continuing timely progress with book 2 in my YA series. I expected to have about 100 pages written by the end of March, and I am exactly on target.  With this rate,  I will complete the first draft by the end of June.  It will also keep me on my target goal of drafting two first drafts every year.  I know that these are not finished works, but without something down on paper, there is nothing to correct.  Also, I have so many novels and a few nonfiction books patiently, or not-so-patiently, waiting in line to be composed that I must continue this pace.

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Book One of this series is now the novel that I will begin to pitch to agents.  I think I have a much better chance of finding an agent for this piece than the horror novel.  I will work on both my query letter and a pitch to give at the Writers Digest 2016 conference in Manhattan this summer. As always, I am excited about going to this conference.

That is all for now…will do another update in one month or so!

 

 

Sam’s Chicken Paprikash

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It has been a while since I have talked about the characters from my horror novel Maledicus: The Investigative Paranormal Society, Book 1. Sam Sadlowski is one of three founding members of the IPS, the Investigative Paranormal Society, a ghost and supernatural investigation group, that is central to my book.

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Sam is a retired homicide detective and an avid cook.  But he doesn’t do any of “that high-class stuff served on a plate too large and a portion too small,” as he would say. A proud descendant of Polish and Hungarians, he loved the peasant food he grew up with. He loves hearty food and plenty of it.

One of his favorite foods was a meal his mother made often when he was growing up.  Here is his version of Chicken Paprikash:

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(Photo By Liz French, 2016)

Ingredients:

2 pounds chicken, either breast or thighs

2 green bell peppers

2 large onions

1 pound button mushrooms

1 can crushed tomatoes

paprika — regular or hot depending on the level of desired heat

fresh ground black pepper

garlic

pinch of salt (optional)

sour cream

either dumplings or wide noodles

To prepare:

Use a large dutch oven, preferably of cast iron.

Boil the chicken for a few minutes to begin the cooking process, then transfer to the dutch oven that has a hot layer of cooking oil in it that has been heavily coated with paprika, so that the oil looks red.  Be sure to pat the chicken dry first with a paper towel to avoid oil splattering.

While the chicken is searing, on both sides, chop the peppers and onions. Clean the mushrooms with cold water and a paper towel.

After the chicken is seared, turn the heat to low or simmer.

Add the peppers, onions, and mushrooms.

Add the seasoning.

Add the crushed tomatoes.

Add two-four tablespoons sour cream, and mix completely.

Let simmer in the dutch oven for 1 & 1/2 to 2 hours.

Cook the noodles or dumplings.

To Serve:

Serve over noodles or dumplings in a large bowl.

Slick thick pieces of good bread to place on the side.

Sam prefers to drink Hungarian red wine: egri bikaver, which translates loosely as “bull’s blood” with the meal.

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If you enjoy hearty meals, give this a try. You will probably enjoy Sam’s recipe.

 

 

 

Writing Update

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It has been a while since I have posted my writing progress, so I want to give an update on what I have been doing. I posted a while ago that I want to write a first draft of a novel every six months or so, and I am on target with that goal. I hope that the first draft I am currently writing will be between 200-250 pages, and I currently have about 40 pages written.  At the pace I am going, I should have it complete in June.  This is book two in my YA series.

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I am also very busy working on revisions of my horror novel Evil Lives After and the first book in the YA series. In both cases these revisions are minor. I believe both books are ready for submissions; I will see what kind of results I get.  In the case of the YA, I have been getting excellent feedback and reaction from readers. I have also received excellent advice on the horror novel, and I have cut some and rearranged chapter order, so I believe it moves along much faster and better than before.

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On the academic writing front, I am working on revising an article on Gothic literature as well as conducing research for a book on an obscure Irish playwright, Seamus Byrne. I hope to send the article out again soon, and I will work on drafting a chapter of the book in the summer.

I will give an update every month or so on my progress.

 

 

 

 

Favorite Horror Films of the 1950s: The Curse of Frankenstein

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First I want to begin with a mea culpa. I made an error in my last post about horror films in the 1950s. I wrote that Horror of Dracula was the initial film in Hammer Studio’s emergence as a major production house of horror films; it was not the first.  The Curse of Frankenstein in 1957 was their first horror movie.  I apologize for the mistake.

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(https://en.wikipedia.org)

Terence Fisher directed The Curse of Frankenstein for Hammer, and Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing and Hazel Court starred. The result was an innovative, fast paced, and  vivid colored.  It was, like so many others, 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.

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This movie was highly successful, both financially and critically.  And like Horror of Dracula would, 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.

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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

 

My Current Writing Progress

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It has been a while since I have updated my writing progress, so I decided this would be a good time to do so. I just finished the first draft of a horror novel about a werewolf.  It is clearly a misshapen skeleton of a book at this point, but at least, it is done and can be developed and edited later. As indicated in my previous post, without words down on paper, there is nothing than can be revised.

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My writing goals for the first half of 2016 follow. First, I will revise my horror novel Evil Lives After, which would be its 9th draft and to continue submitting it to agents and publishers. If I have no success, I will then plan on self-publishing this book.  I believe it is time. Next I will revise the first book of my YA series and also submit it to agents.  I am not sure if submitting two books is recommended or not, but I am following my own plan of action.  We will see what happens. Finally, but definitely not least, I will write the first draft of the second novel of my YA series.

As long as I maintain the pace I have been keeping over the last few years, I should be able to accomplish these goals.  We will see at the end of June if I have reached the destination.

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Dining With Characters: Part 3

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It has been a while since I have made an entry to this series, so I thought it was definitely a good time to do so. As before, I am imagining what it would be like to invite a few fictional characters to a dinner and have conversation with them.

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(This is the first page of the extant original copy of Beowulf, written in Old English.)

 

Today’s guests are Beowulf, King Arthur, and Aragorn, all kings from British epics: Beowulf, Le Morte d’Arthur, and The Lord of the Rings. These books range from the Dark Ages, circa the mid 800s to the Middle Ages, circa 1485 to the contemporary world in the mid 1900s. These texts are all important to me, both as a reader and as a teacher, because I have used all of these books in different college classes. While covering a very long historical range, they all deal with the difficulties faced by leaders especially when the fate of their kingdoms rests in their decisions and actions.

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(King Arthur and his knights)

For this entry, we would dine again at a traditional British pub, and we would be seated around a fairly large, wooden, round table.  This seems appropriate, given the attendees.

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“Aragorn300ppx” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Aragorn300ppx.png#/media/File:Aragorn300ppx.png

I would like to ask these three kings what it was like to lead soldiers actively into combat. Unlike the leaders of contemporary armies, they faced death directly with their fellow fighters. I would also ask them what they see the main responsibilities of leaders to be. I would also like to ask them if they consider fate to be real, or are they in control of their own destinies?  Given the variation in optimism and pessimism that ranges in their attitudes, their approaches to facing the difficulties of life and death would be fascinating to explore.

I would certainly be curious to see how these three warrior kings spoke with each other. I think a checking of the swords at the door might be a very good idea.

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What questions would you ask these leaders?

Favorite Christmas Movies: Part 1

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There are so many aspects of this holiday season that are wonderful to me: getting together with loved ones, friends and family alike; the spirit of giving that I hope continues to grow; celebrations; the holiday music; and the memories of happy times.  Among the favorite memories I have are a few specific Christmas movies.

The movie I will talk about today is Scrooge with Albert Finney as the star; he does a magnificent job in his performance as the miserly and misanthropic loan-shark. This musical version of A Christmas Carol is one of the finest filmic adaptations of the classic Christmas Eve ghost story and morality tale.  This film follows  the story closely with Scrooge being visited by the ghosts of Christmas Past, of Christmas Present, and of Christmas Future. Among the movies best songs are Scrooge singing “I Hate People” which clearly shows his despicable and greedy nature,  “Thank You Very Much” in which a tap dance is done on Scrooge’s coffin in the future, and “I Like Life” in which the ghost of Christmas Present teaches Scrooge about experiencing life as well as having empathy for others.

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This movie does an excellent job of showing Dickens’ critique of a greed based society and one that did little or nothing to help alleviate the enormous difficulties of the poor.  When first confronted by the ghost of his dead partner Marley, Scrooge tells him that he was always a good man of business.  Marley’s ghost responds, “Mankind should be our business.”  This is a sentiment that stands today.  We should be putting the good of humanity above the pursuit of greed.

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I was a teenager when this movie was first released in 1970, and I loved seeing it with two of my closest friends.  We were captivated by the music and the story, and it remains as powerful to me as when I first saw it. If you have never had the opportunity to see this particular film, I give it my highest recommendation.

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I also remind all of us, in paraphrasing the Master Charles Dickens, that we must always remember to make the good of others our business.

 

Best TV Shows of the 1950s and 1960s: Part V, The Addams Family

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For my next installment in this series, I will talk about a show that I find fascinating on many levels: The Addams Family. Seemingly a sit-com about a group of misfits, based loosely on figures from horror films, whose adventures are fodder for laughter, it was actually a demonstration of a completely loving and functional family.

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This unusual family, given to behavior that was not indicative of the so-called normal American clan, has had numerous incarnations since the late 1930s. Created by cartoonist Charles Addams, this family first was seen in The New Yorker and continued appearing there for several decades. Then, from 1964-1966, the family was featured in the sit-com on Television, complete with the catchy finger-snapping tune that so many people know. Several feature movies and a musical followed, so the characters continue on in new variations to this day.

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As a child, I loved the silliness of the show as well as the Gothic atmosphere. I loved the classic horror films of the 1930s and 1940s (which will become a later blog series I will write), and this show was evocative of those movies.

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Today, I see a series with a far deeper meaning that what I perceived when I was very young. This family is not one of which people should be frightened. Rather, they could be held as an exemplar of a loving and in love couple, who after many years of marriage, still carry great chemistry in their relationship. They love their children and their extended family.

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Additionally, this show interrogates the need that America seems to have for normalcy. We are taught that everyone should behave according to set standards, or we are somehow wrong. Certainly the members of the Addams clan do not abide by such behavioral proscriptions. They are able to define their own lives and live decently without harming other people. But they are different from others.

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This point clearly speaks to the issue of bigotry and tolerance. While it does so metaphorically, it still make the necessary and vital stand that we, as a society, must embrace other people, no matter their differences: of gender, sexuality, race, class, religion, nationality, neuro-diversity, intelligence, and many other so-called divisions that are often applied to humanity. While always funny, The Addams Family is ultimately a show about understanding and inclusion, a theme that should resonate today.

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