Poetry – Just a Poe Boy (or Girl)

edgar-allan-poe---master-of-mystery

If Edgar had a muse
to hassle and abuse,
why not I?

Enter those raven’s wings
and all terrible things
from finer days gone by.

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2 Vintage ACEO Artworks: Edgar Allan Poe and Victorian Shoes

Here are a couple more vintage-themed ACEO artist trading cards. Both are mixed media pieces. The first one here features paper with an Edgar Allan Poe stamp in the background, so I had to feature that! I thought the scissors looked kind of cool with it too. Then I painted over it with oil pastel and watercolor.

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This second one was made with some victorian shoe stickers against a paper background of print and flowers. Lastly, I added a little random scribbling in black, white, and yellow gel pen if I remember right.

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Check out my art currently for sale on my Ebay store!

Book Review – ‘The Misadventures of Edgar & Allan Poe’ middle grade series

Misadventures of Edgar & Allan Poe

It has been quite a while since I posted a book review, but I just love this new series so much I had to share my thoughts about it! So far, “The Misadventures of Edgar & Allan Poe” book series (written by Gordon McAlpine and illustrated by Sam Zuppardi) consists of two published books. The first volume is entitled “The Tell-Tale Start” and the second is called “Once Upon a Midnight Eerie”. As you can probably tell already, the author loves a good play on words (as do I!).

I was initially drawn to this middle grade (ages 8+) children’s series while browsing the children’s department at Barnes & Noble. The cover and title of the first book immediately captured my attention because I have always loved Edgar Allan Poe. When I studied the book further, I found the premise quite original. To sum it up, the books revolve around Edgar and Allan Poe, twelve-year old identical twins who also happen to be the great-great-great-great-grandnephews of the famous horror/mystery author. One thing that makes these twins unusual (and help creates some of the drama) is that the boys have a telepathic communication ability and pretty much function as one person. In both books, there are significant threats to the lives of both main characters, so it is full of action, suspense and a touch of morbid humor for kids who like that kind of thing. Of course, since it is a middle grade series, Edgar & Allan always manage to foil their enemies and survive.

I think the best thing about this book series though are the parts where you get to see Edgar Allan Poe himself in the “great beyond”. It is hilarious to see our poor Poe having to work for the seemingly grumpy and narcissistic William Shakespeare in heaven. Poe constantly finds himself in trouble in heaven because he is always breaking the rules to interfere in the lives of his nephews on earth. Of course, being in trouble is nothing new to Poe, seeing as he was quite used to it during his earthly life. I also love how in the second book, Edgar and Allan are joined by a pair of twin girls named “Em” and “Milly” Dickinson, who happen to be the great-great-great-great-grandnieces of the famous spinster poet Emily Dickinson (more name puns there). I look forward to seeing which other literary greats (and their descendants) may be written into the story in the future.

I realize that not all adults like to read children’s books like I do, but I hope that if you have kids in the middle grade age range you will have them check out this series and see if they like it. I am hoping it will become popular enough to go on for quite a while because I want to keep reading it!

Interview with author Tammy Ruggles

(Before we get to the actual interview, I just had to say that this author really made me happy!  Since Edgar Allan Poe has always been my favorite author, it is a joy to get to write about another devout fan of his!  Also, the first two writers I would choose to meet, living or dead, are the exact same ones this author chose!)

OK, now on to the interview…

Tammy Ruggles is a writer who dabbles in many different areas.  She has had a fair share of success with her most recent published work, Peace: Quotations & Aspirations for a Peaceful Planet, but may be even more well-known for the audio books she has created for young adults under her pen name, Miss Tammy.  These audio books are gritty and realistic, meeting kids and teens right where they are, in the midst of this confusing, often messed up world we live in.

I could tell you more about Miss Tammy, but perhaps it would be best to let her tell you in her own words…

1. When did you first decide that you wanted to be an author? What made you want to choose this career path?

I first got that dream when I was about 13, which was when I started writing short stories and my friends passed them around to each other at school. My classmates really liked them and I really liked creating the stories, so I kept doing it, but I didn’t have any aspirations of becoming a real, professional, published writer. It was something I did on the sidelines as a hobby, just for myself. I didn’t choose it as a career path until I was 40, when I had to retire from my first chosen career, which was social work. Even at 40 I wasn’t sure I could write professionally. I still felt like that 13-year-old writer. It still seemed like a hobby. But I gave it a chance. It took a lot of query letters, but it worked. The first article I ever sold to a magazine was about babysitting, and I got a check for $35. It felt like Christmas!

2. Who are some of the authors that greatly influenced your writing style? What were some of your favorite books as a kid?

Well, I wish I knew what my style is! I don’t know. But I dearly loved Dr. Seuss books, and still do. He really sets the imagination free. I liked Chalou, which was the story about a dog, because it’s a story that tugs on your heart. Later, Harold Robbins was a writer whose style I liked to read, which was simple and easy. William Peter Blatty riveted me with The Exorcist. Peter Benchley is another writer whose basic, direct style was something I liked. And I cannot leave out Edgar Allan Poe. There is an elegance and a rhythm and pace to his stories that I really get into.

3. Did you have a hard time getting your first book published?

I think it was a little hard trying to break in at 40. It took about 500 rejection letters from all kinds of publishers to get that one yes for Peace.

4. Assuming that you write for children or young adults, what made you decide to write for those age groups? Do you still feel connected to your “inner child”?

I think I have a connection with kids. They seem to like me. I still feel like a kid at heart sometimes. I haven’t forgotten the ups and downs of childhood and adolescence, and, being a retired social worker, writing about and for kids and teenagers in trouble comes easy for me. I don’t mind writing about touchy subjects. It’s reality, what kids are really going through. Like with my two new audio books coming up: How To Save A Life is about a boy who tries to save his best friend’s life, and Summer Doesn’t Dance Anymore is about a teenage girl afraid to tell even her best friend that she’s been raped. Then I have a 3rd one, an Edgar Allan Poe story, The Tell-Tale Heart, which is a little different for me because I didn’t write it.

5. What are some of your hobbies, other than writing?

I love going to movies. I love sketching. I love cooking. I love listening to music.

6. Do you have any sage advice for new authors who are just entering the field?

One, keep trying. If you give up too soon, you’ll regret it. Try not to take it personally when your material gets rejected. That’s part of publication. Just learn from it and go on. Grow. Two, although writing is an art, it’s also a business, so keep that in mind when dealing with editors and publishers. Three, write what makes you feel good, what comes easy to you, always try something new or different, and finish projects that you start. Four, don’t just talk about writing. Actually write. And five, don’t forget the query letter. Publication begins with querying. You must do this continually. It’s probably the most important part of becoming published.

7. Do you hold any other jobs outside of your writing? If so, do you find that this helps your writing or gets in the way?

Since I’m retired, I have a lot of free time for writing, and I love doing it, but I don’t let writing get in the way of my family, friends, and faith. I like to have a balance of things. I think it helps the writing when you fill yourself up with life and doing other things besides writing. Then you’ll have something to come back and write about.

8. If you could meet one author, living or dead, who would it be? Why?

I would like to meet two of them. Edgar Allan Poe, and Emily Dickinson, because I’d want to ask them, “How do you do it?” but I’d probably be too nervous to meet them.

9. Do you have any other information you would like to share, such as a website, author page, awards won, etc.?

I don’t have any awards, but I do have a professional website that tells about my stuff:

http://tammyruggles.tripod.com/

Then there are a few websites where you can go and hear my audiobooks:

www.learnoutloud.com

www.teachoutloud.com

www.youtube.com/misstammyschannel

And other places on the internet like amblingbooks.com or audiobooktreasury.com. Just google it and you’ll find the places I didn’t mention.

Skeleton Creek book #4 ‘The Raven’

I’ve really enjoyed reading the Skeleton Creek young adult series of books by Patrick Carman.  I actually came upon the first volume while looking through the books at our local Goodwill store.  I couldn’t really tell what it was about, since there was nothing written on either cover about the story, but it seemed like a scary tale and I do love horror, so I picked it up and gave it a try.

I immediately liked the main character Ryan, mostly because he is a fellow lover of words who strives to be a great writer.  I was surprised to find how much I liked the secondary character, Sarah, who is Ryan’s best friend and his partner in crime.  Although Ryan is smart and likeable, Sarah is brave, ferocious and determined to a fault.  Her passion for video-making and getting in trouble often puts her in the spotlight and in some ways outshines the reserved, cautious Ryan.

The fourth book in this series, ‘The Raven’ carries on with Sarah and Ryan’s adventures as they seek to unravel the mysteries of a secret organization called ‘The Crossbones’.  Like the prior novels in the series, this book has accompanying video clips that you can actually watch online, a hook to be sure, but an effective one.  Of course, I was halfway through the first book before I figured out that the website was real…guess I’m just too old to keep up with the current trends in technology!

Anyhow, it seems that this last book tied up all the loose ends, so I’m not sure if the series will continue or not, but it has been an entertaining journey.  Several things I have really liked about the series include:

  • The videos…a great tool to get reluctant readers, or those who are constantly attached to the computer to sit down and actually read a book!
  • The journeys that Sarah makes to real-life haunted places looking for clues.  Each stop has it’s own little docu-drama and appeals to ghosthunters like me!
  • The entire series, and the last book in particular, have a real connection to Edgar Allan Poe (my favorite writer of all time).  It is a fitting tribute to the reigning master of horror, mystery and science fiction stories.  It’s always great to see an author who finds a way to interest current youth in classic authors.