Happy Halloween 2020

The dark history behind Halloween

(Source: Business Insider.com)

The word ‘Halloween’ was first popularized in a poem.

Scottish poet Robert Burns helped to popularize the word “Halloween” with his 1785 poem of the same name.

So where does the name itself come from? According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, it’s actually two words smushed together. “Hallow” — or holy person — refers to the saints celebrated on All Saints’ Day, which is November 1. The “een” part of the word is a contraction of “eve” — or evening before.

The day’s morbid traditions go back to ancient times

Historians have linked Halloween to Samhain, the Celtic festival of the summer’s end celebrated in Ireland, Scotland, and the Isle of Man.

According to Celtic mythology, the veil between the Otherworld and our world thins during Samhain, making it easier for spirits and the souls of the dead to return.

People would make offerings of food in order to get on the good side of these spirits and departed ancestors, according to the Mirror.

Allhallowtide, which includes All Saints’ Eve, All Saints’ Day, and the subsequent All Souls’ Day, was initially celebrated in the spring, during the early years of the Church.

Pope Gregory IV switched it to the current date in 837, according to Britannica. His reasons were unclear, although influence from Celtic factions of the church and the fact that it makes sense to commemorate death during the fall are possibilities.

Bobbing for apples used to be more than just a splashy party game.

Halloween has come to be most closely associated with the pumpkin, but apples have played an important role in its history.

After all, apples make numerous appearances in Celtic mythology and are often connected to the Otherworld.

Bobbing for apples remains a popular party game.

The reason? Well, the practice used to be considered a form of divination performed around Halloween, according to NPR. That’s right — people would dunk their heads in a vat of water and try to bite into floating fruit in a quest to figure out their future spouse.

Ladies would mark an apple and toss it into the tub. The thinking was they’d be destined to whoever pulled it out of the water.

Jack-o’-lanterns symbolize a fateful deal with the Devil.

Otherwise, you might end up like Irish folk figure Jack O’Lantern.

Modern day, intricately designed pumpkin creations certainly make for impressive decorations. But back in the day, folks in Ireland dubbed their carved, fiery turnips “jack-o’-lanterns” thanks in part to an ominous legend.

One night, a conniving local drunkard named Jack trapped the Prince of Darkness in a tree by hacking a sign of the cross into the bark. In exchange for letting Satan climb down, Jack had him vow to never claim his soul.

Jack proceeded to act like a jerk his whole life. When he died, he sure as heck was not allowed in heaven. So he tried to return to his old pal, the Devil. But Satan upheld his end of the deal, hurling a piece of coal from hell at the dead man for good measure.

Left without anywhere to go, Jack placed the blazing coal in a turnip to use as a lantern. The dead man then set out, doomed to wander until he can find an eternal resting place.

Trick-or-treating has ancient precedent — but the candy part didn’t come about until much later.

Modern day trick-or-treating is a confluence of various traditions.

Ancient Celts dressed up as evil spirits in order to confuse demons, according to Smithsonian Magazine.

In medieval England, “soulers” would go around begging rich folk for “soul cakes” on Halloween. Instead of threatening to play tricks, however, they’d pray for peoples’ souls in return for the cake, according to “The Compleat Teacher’s Almanack.”

Throughout medieval Europe, mummering — dressing in disguises and visiting neighborhoods while dancing, playing music, and doing tricks — was popular on major feast days.

TIME reported Irish and Scottish immigrants brought “souling” to the States in the 1800s. But modern day trick-or-treating didn’t catch on in the US until the 1920s.

The practice was pretty controversial into the 1950s, though. According to the American Journal of Play’s “Gangsters, Pranksters, and the Invention of Trick-or-Treating,” many adults raised “stern objections” to trick-or-treating over the decades, as it was often viewed as a form of extortion.

The “Bloody Mary” ritual has unclear origins (and various practices).

Late folklorist and UC Berkeley professor Alan Dundes wrote an article titled “Bloody Mary in the Mirror: A Ritual Reflection of Pre-Pubescent Anxiety” about the various origins and practices of the “Bloody Mary” ritual, also known as “Mary Worth” and “Mary Whales.”

Many versions of the ritual include the elements of a girl peering into a mirror (often in a bathroom), darkness, blood, chanting, and the appearance of the cursed “Mary.”

Black cats have been associated with the supernatural for hundreds of years.

Black cat costumes are particularly popular on Halloween.

“In the Middle Ages, black cats were often portrayed as the famliars of witches, which is likely to be the origin of the distrust with which they are regarded in America, where early Puritan settlers rejected anything associated with the Devil and witch,” Chloe Rhodes wrote in “Black Cats and Evil Eyes: A Book on Old-fashioned Superstition.”

According to History.com, it was also believed in the Middle Ages that witches transformed into black cats to conceal themselves.


After this interesting and fascinating information about ‘All Hallow’s Eve’ I wish you and your loved ones:

Picture courtesy of http://www.google.com

 

A Halloween Poem – Written By Mark Egan

Even though there is no Halloween Poem Contest anymore in 2020, I got sent a beautiful Halloween poem that I would like to share with you, with the permission of the author, Mark Egan.


Picture courtesy of: http://preventioncdnndg.org/

‘Don’t Go Outside’

                                                            Mark Egan 2020

‘Don’t go outside’, the girl she said

And said twice more, ‘lest we be dead’

She feared a sprite this Hallows Eve

With an endless hunger for souls to feed

To garner strength from lives ashriven

From the essence of the living

‘Don’t leave me here’, the girl she begged

‘Tis a darkling night, one full of dread

A spooky, creepy graysome night

I fear that I might die from fright

And then I’ll pass beyond the veil

Myself a spirit who’ll moan and wail’

‘Don’t make a sound’, the girl did whisper

I feel it’s close, my hearts a jitter

I hear it’s tread, it’s cloven gait

It’s funeral march, it’s wicked hate

It’s gaping maw, it’s jagged teeth

It’s claws and arms, stretched out in reach’

‘I think it’s here’, the girl did say

Her voice a ghost, yet quiet and fae

I smelled her breath sour and sweet

I felt her heart a fearsome beat

‘Don’t go outside’, she once more said

She laughed and lunged, then I was dead.


(The copyright of this poem is with Mark Egan, please respect this poem as his property)

THE MAGICAL RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE WRITER AND THEIR NOTEBOOKS #AMWRITING – Written By Lucy Mitchell

Lucy Mitchell explains why there is a magical relationship between a writer and notebooks. Thanks so much for your post, Lucy! How many people don’t understand that bond.


#writingcommunity #writerslife

This weekend will be spent clearing out my dressing table and creating a temporary work desk. As I am working from home in my day job, the teenagers are off school due to half term, my husband is also working from home and we are in the middle of a strict lockdown, I cannot spend the next two weeks working from the living room. Not only will I have to put up with pyjama clad teens wandering about in the background while I am on Zoom calls, I will also have to listen to my loved one shouting at everyone to keep the noise down from his desk.

Underneath my dressing table there are three large boxes filled with notebooks. Some of my old stories were born inside these notebooks and some still reside between the pages. I have to write this post because I think my family believe this will be the weekend I finally clear out all my boxes of notebooks.

CONTINUE READING HERE

Asking the Right Questions with Character Interviews – Written By Becca Puglisi

Becca Puglisi published a blog post about asking the right questions with character interviews. How do we know the character, what’s important? Thanks so much for helping us out answering these questions, Becca.


on Writers Helping Writers:

Developing characters is one of the joys of writing and it’s a dream when we understand them and what they’re about. Inevitably, though, there comes a time when our characters do and say things that don’t make sense to us, we feel they’re one-dimensional, or we just don’t know how they should react to situations. This can stall our story.

Character interviews are a fabulous way to address these problems. Not only does interviewing your character help you learn more about them, you’ll be able to note the hesitations or uncertainties so you can drill deeper into those areas. It can also give you a better feel for their voice, which can sometimes be hard to nail down.

But there are so many interviews and questionnaires available on the internet, and we can lose a lot of time answering questions that may not be relevant to understanding our character. So how do we know which questions are the right questions? Which ones will help us dig deeper into our characters and, ultimately, strengthen our story?

Continue reading HERE

How To Edit A Book And Do It Right – Written By Derek Haines

Derek Haines gives us advice on how to edit a book. Thank you so much for helping us with your information and experience, Derek!.


on Just Publishing Advice:

When you sit down to edit a book, you want to improve your story and your writing.

It’s a good idea to do a thorough grammar and spell check before you start. You have a choice of plenty of premium and free grammar checkers to help you.

But a grammar check is not editing. The editing process starts when you carefully read your manuscript, line by line.

If you don’t have a professional editor, you can learn how to self-edit your book by following my checklist of 20 common faults.

Continue reading HERE

Narrative Style: The Heart of Storytelling & Why It Also Matters in Memoir – Written By Kristen Lamb

My favorite blogger Kristen Lamb has published a post about narrative style, the heart of storytelling. Thank you so much for another educational blog post, Kristen.


Narrative style is the beating heart of writing. While our voice might remain consistent from a blog to a non-fiction to a fiction, narrative style is what keeps our work fresh and makes it resonate.

Developing a strong narrative style is especially critical if we decide to write a memoir because the style will need to not only reflect the personality of the author-storyteller, but also hit that sweet spot in tone that is appropriate for the story.

But what IS IT?

Last post, I opened the discussion about memoirs. Memoirs are not only becoming increasingly popular, but with the implosion of traditional publishing, there’s good news. Anyone can write and publish a memoir. There’s also bad news…anyone can write and publish a memoir.

Before we talk about the various structures and types of memoirs, it’s a good idea to first discuss the broad concepts. Last time, I mentioned that superior memoirs frequently DO reflect The Hero’s Journey.

That was our first meta-concept, so to speak. The second meta-concept is narrative style. This aids us in connecting with audiences and generating long-lasting resonance.

Narrative style can be one of those amorphous concepts that’s tough to define directly. Sort of like black holes.

Scientists don’t per se observe a black hole directly, as much as they suspect they might have a black hole because of what’s going on around a certain area in space (the behavior of light and nearby planets, etc).

This said, all creators would be prudent to keep some core principles in mind when writing anything from a blog, to a non-fiction, to a memoir. These principles lay the foundation for what we think of when it comes to ‘narrative style.’

CONTINUE READING HERE

Author Spotlight – Steve Anderson

Welcome! 

Please introduce yourself. 

I’m Steve Anderson, a ten year veteran of the US Navy, a world traveler, and lately, a teller of tales.

 

  1. When did you start writing?

At age twelve, my father gave me a manual typewriter.  I wrote my first fantasy story with it to go with a map I had drawn of a magical world.  I wrote on and off while on active duty, and as a personal past time after leaving the service, but I didn’t get serious about writing until 2017.

 

  1. What motivates you to write?

The sheer joy of creating a compelling story.  Having an immersive world is nice for the reader to escape their daily life.  Connecting to characters, living through their struggles, and their victories reaches deeper into what makes us human than escapism in general.  I like to provide both.

 

 3. What genre do you write in, and what made you chose this particular genre?

Both Science Fiction and Fantasy, but my focus for the past year has been exclusively Fantasy.  Specifically, the contemporary fantasy world I’ve been building.

 

  1. What is your goal in writing? Do you have dreams where your writing should take you?

It may sound anachronistic, but I want to spread hope.  My stories involve perseverance despite overwhelming odds.  My protagonists exude hope the way Lady Liberty holds her torch.  I’d like my writing to reach a broad audience, but mostly, I just want to share my stories with like-minded readers who seek a little bit of awe and wonder in their reading.

 

  1. Do you ever suffer from writer’s block, and if yes, how do you deal with it?

I don’t believe in writer’s block.  I can always write; it may not always be great and may throw a night’s work away after I’m done.  I still believe it’s essential for this author to write every day.  I wrote over a million words in the past two years because I believe that a writer’s job is to write.  When I got serious about the novel I wrote I finished it in five weeks.  For me, writer’s block is a sign that I’m struggling to overcome how to present an idea or a scene in a story, not that I can’t write at all.

  

  1. What advice would you like to give new, hopeful authors? Write.  Don’t focus on craft to the exclusion of your voice.  If you write enough, your voice will come through, and you can learn the craft as you go.  The most important thing is to put words on the page.  You can make them pretty, or horrifying, or technically correct after they are out, but until then, they are just ideas in your mind.  The world needs to hear those ideas, and you alone hold the key to their freedom.

  

  1. Please, tell us about your work.

My work is expansive.  I have six short stories set in the same world as my first novel, Fantastic America.  The premise is that magic has always existed, but was largely absent throughout recorded human history.  It came back on December 21st, 2012.  The world didn’t end, but it changed forever.

Fantastic America looks at how people react to the return of magic, through the lens of a reporter caught up in those changes.  She doesn’t believe everything about magic is evil, despite prevailing wisdom to the contrary.  Her antagonist is a federal agent willing to do anything to prevent the miracles, monsters, and magic representing those changes from tearing apart the world he knew before the solstice.  He’s like a modern-day little Dutch boy trying to hold back the ocean with his finger.  What neither of them know, is that a dark and deranged killer has learned to harness magic to unleash a killing spree that will affect both of them and the world at large.

That’s just the first book.  It gets weirder from there!

Thank you for being my guest. It was such a pleasure to have you here!!


Steve’s Books:

 


Meet the Author:

I’m originally from Raleigh, NC, but now live in Ottumwa, Iowa.  I’ve traveled all over the Caribbean, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.  My hobbies include sharing drinks and good food with friends, gaming, studying history, and collecting comic books since age five.  I’ve been a sailor, a security guard, a tax preparer, an insurance salesman, a telemarketer, a DJ, and a bar manager.  Traveling and doing, I’ve seen a lot and love telling stories, some true, some not.  Which is which?  You decide!


Connect with the Author:

www.renegade-galaxy.com  And soon: www.thesorcerersrealm.com

https://www.facebook.com/ReneGalaxy

https://www.linkedin.com/in/steve-anderson-1b371810/

https://www.pinterest.com/sea52501/

Realistic and Unrealistic Injuries In Your Books

The ones of us writing fiction might have come across the one or other injury our characters are experiencing within the story. Depending on your genre of fiction (most significantly probably in crime stories, SiFi, occasionally fantasy, or mixed genres), these injuries might be more severe than a paper cut. (Even though they really hurt and nobody ever believes it, but that’s for another time.)

We all had the situation we watched a movie or read a book and our hero took a blow to the head or a bullet to protect his beloved… In movies, it’s normally quite simple. We watch the beloved carefully dab a tiny cut (where does that come from?) on the hero’s temple, most likely with a part of her clothing, and he comes around, pitifully whining and groaning. After three minutes he tells her they have to flee, jumps up, and with three bullets in his body, saves the situation and the girl. My hero…

One of my favorite examples at this point is the ‘Die Hard’-movies with hero John McClane. ‘The Week’ has taken a closer look at John McClane’s injures with a professional back in 2014. You can read the article here. )The poor man fights all by himself (mostly) against groups of criminals, using all his wit, experience, – and a handgun. Generally, he wins the fight by a hairsbreadth, with his, once white, undergarment dark gray and blood-soaked, cut feet, cuts, and lacerations all over his body, limping, and somewhat between two to five bullets in his body. Admirable – and completely unrealistic. So what? Hollywood has a monopole for explosions, fake catastrophes, bullets, freak destructions, and unrealistic injuries… But what’s good for Hollywood is not necessarily good for a debut writer.

Let’s have a look at a few examples in books and movies and analyze their grade of realism.

  1. Head Injuries

A human taking a blow to the head and collapsing is better off in the lateral recumbent position anyway, but that’s only a detail. If the blow was hard enough to keep the victim unconscious for more than three minutes, the chances are high that there is a concussion, or even a more severe injury, like brain injury, bleeding within the brain, or brain swelling. Jumping up and running around after several hours of unconsciousness won’t be possible. The victim would most like just helplessly stumble or have problems with the eyesight and orientation.

 

2. Dismemberment

You are writing fantasy and your victim gets dismembered? Losing an arm or a leg is no laughing matter. In such a case we look at a severe injury that, in real life will end fatally, if the victim does not get help within the shortest time and the wound is professionally taken care of immediately. The heart would still pump blood through the exposed arteries, which would splatter the blood all over the place in remarkable fountains. The would would have to be carefully secured. The blood loss would weaken the victim severely. After the fast loss of approximately 1/3 of a gallon (1 liter) of blood, the victim experiences rapid heart rate, confusion, weakness, shallow breathing, blood pressure difficulties, and medical shock. There is no ‘continued’ fighting with only one arm.

 

3. Broken Bones

If your character experiences broken bones, the victim will face horrible pain. Depending on how bad the break is if it’s clean or dangerous multiple fractures, the pain can lead to dizziness, lightheadedness, and finally pass out from shock. The limp with the broken bone won’t be able to move, a possible numbness could start if the break involved nerves. The healing of a broken bone can take between six weeks and six months, depending on how severe the bone is broken, if it was a leg or an arm, hands, joints, feet, and wrists are usually taking longer. If the bone is older the healing takes longer too.

 

4. Bullets & Stab Wounds

They are generally called ‘puncture wounds’. We are, at this point, talking about an object ‘entering’ a human body, injuring the body in the process. From what my research showed me, there are low, medium and high energy puncture wounds, caused by, for example, spears or knives (low), arrows, or crossbow bolts or handguns (medium) and high-powered rifles (high). Puncture injuries are described as sharp pains, often stinging, occasionally burning. They might take up to six months to heal and very often result in late consequences. These wounds are never harmless. There is no place in the body where it’s not dangerous. Puncture wounds can turn into massive blood loss and death within only a few minutes. (Getting up and solving a case after two days is not going to work, oh Hollywood, city of illusions).

 

5. Some Other Injuries

Of course, there are other injuries. Burns, cuts, slashes, even toxic influence on the body, or in rare cases, decapitation. Buns and cuts can be treated and, depending on the severeness, can heal quite quickly, within ten to fourteen days. Unless the burns are more severe, then they will need far longer. Slashes most likely need stitches. As for the toxic influence of substances on the body, that depends on the situation and I won’t go deeper into that subject. There are too many toxic substances and I suspect, some research would be needed in such a case. Decapitation ends fatally to humans, period. There’s no way out. If the injury happens to supernatural creatures, the writer does have some freedom with the recovery process.

 

I hope, this list helped a bit to keep the injuries in your books on a realistic level. Your readers will appreciate your sticking to reality in this case.

Picture courtesy of TheWeek.com