Short Story Review: The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allen Poe

The Tell-Tale Heart was first published in 1843 and is a short story by the American writer Edgar Allen Poe. It was then subsequently published as part of Poe’s Book – Tales of Mystery and Imagination.

The story is told by an unnamed narrator that tries to convince the reader that he is not mad but provoked and haunted by the ‘evil’ eye of the old man, taunted almost, and to rid himself of the eye, he must murder the old man that he loved very much. It follows him as he walks us through his calculated and cunning plan to commit the murder, all while declaring his sanity.

What I really like about Poe’s works, is that you can expect his narrators to be unreliable, making the reader unable to really know whether to trust him or not. In this case, the narrator is trying to mask his true intentions and feelings by his attempt to prove his sanity by exercising dissimulation. What’s to say he isn’t using dissimulation on us too?

What I think is both a strength and weakness of The Tell-Tale Heart is Poe’s style of writing, it can be quite maddening, with his short sentences leave me with questions as to the meaning, and his longer sentences are precisely worded and descriptive. It is so carefully worded, which highlights Poe’s exquisite talent as a writer, that it highlights the angle of the narrator’s chaotic mind.

I really like Poe’s work, and I have a copy of Tales of Mystery and Imagination. What I will take forth with me from this piece was his narrators’ deception and use of dissimulation, I like that the reader doesn’t know whether to trust what he says as truth or not.

Poe, E.A. (1843). The tell-tale heart. Retrieved from

https://www.poemuseum.org/the-tell-tale-heart

Book Review: Bone Tiki – David Hair

Bone Tiki – Wow. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Have ordered the next book in the series.

The first few pages for me were a little slow, and I was not encouraged, but persisted. 

Using a mixture of culture, heritage, mythology, legends, and historical knowledge, David Hair was able to bring life to those well known mythological/ancient creatures and Maori legends in a way that captivated my imagination and soul, and with a balance of backstory weaved amongst the story to keep it moving forward. 


The aspects I liked were:
1) That David Hair was able to use legends and myths within Maori culture that are established. Based in Taupo, and having spent much time in the Hawkes Bay and Hastings regions as well as further north. Using the taniwha of Lake Taupo/Waikato River coming up over the bridge in Taupo was so real, I could envision it clearly. The legend of HatuPatu, is a place that I always honk at on my way north, but never really knew significance. There were so many. But the author really brought them to life in a whole other way, by not only paying tribute to these Maori legends/mythical creatures/people but ellaborating as to their story and significance to the region and Maori people. The Opepe battle scene is real along the Napier-Taupo Highway, and so that leads me into my second point.

2) I liked the attention to detail with not only the significant locations, and legends, but also the scenery. It was so vivid, the walking along the rivers and through the bush.

3) Whether the ellaborations on existing legends and myths that are brought to life in this book are entirely true or not, is not a hundred percent clear to me. But there was definitely an aspect of realism to this book. It has been cleverly done. I loved the part about riding the Taniwha up the Waikato river and all other (smaller) taniwhas rose their heads.

4) The character of Wiri was captivating, as too was that of the dog. Wiri reminded me of a friend of mine from high school that actually died in a river along the Napier-Taupo Highway. But his presence and character was so familiar, it drew me in. Also, to note, his entrance into the book was powerful. I was like ‘wow – who is this?’ 

5) I liked the character development of all the characters – Mat, Kelly, Wiri, Tama, etc. They kept growing and gaining more depth.

This is definitely a book I would read again, and recommend. Great selection guys.

Two things I picked up on was a catastrophic spelling mistake – only one. And that this book is categorized as a YA.

Book Review: Halfway to the Grave

Frost, J. (2007). Halfway to the grave. New York, USA: Harper Collins Publishers.

Author:

Jeaniene Frost is an American author who has penned New York Times and USA Today bestselling fantasy – The Night Huntress series. Halfway to the Grave is the first book in the series.

Summary: 

The product of a non-consensual tryst, Cat Crawfield is different but not in the way most humans consider. She is born half-vampire, half-human. Filled with a vengeance towards the very undead that ruined her mother’s life, she crosses paths with Bones. Forced into a partnership, Cat trains under Bones, to hone her deadly skills and lure vampires to their death with her beating heat. Then pursued by a ring of human enslaving vampires, Cat and Bones must choose a side.

Analysis:

From the first paragraph, I was hooked. The first three chapters were all action, with backstory interwoven in small increments, so the flow of the story isn’t interrupted.

With all the action sequences, there is a building romance between Cat and Bones. It is fierce and primal. In the early stages, Cat is disgusted at the very thought of him, and plans to kill him the first chance she gets. What struck me most about this romance, was hate turned to love. In the end, she chose to run away, to protect him. The last line of the book, she hopes that Bones will come find her.

The complexity of their bond and the distaste between Bones and Cat at the beginning, reminds me of Jay and Stone. The moment Stone is attacked, Jay still hides his feelings for her from Velkan. From the relationship of Cat and Bones, I am going to rewrite the scenes following the attack, to insert Jay’s inability to hide his feelings anymore. Velkan will become aware of them, Stone will not. It will add conflict between the two men.

The language used, for the intimate scenes wasn’t explicit. I find it hard to write intimate scenes, but reading one is catapulting for me. Frost was able to enact scenes and movements, in a way that wasn’t crass. I will put the intimate scenes between Velkan and Stone, under the microscope. Tightening their touches, and intimate interactions, but keeping within my own voice. Forcing an intimate scene, is not what I feel comfortable with. It will bring the characters of Stone and Velkan closer together, and readers get a better sense of Velkan’s character.

The use of non-explicit language to lift the tension between Stone and Jay, when they fall on the couch together, by describing what Stone is feeling using touch sensory, the context could become electric. 

It would change the entire dynamic between Jay and Stone; Stone and Velkan; Jay and Velkan; attributing to a building tension.

Book Review: The Awakening by L.J. Smith

The Awakening is the first book in The Vampire Dairies series. The main plot follows main character, Elena Gilbert, who is a doppelganger for a centuries old vampire who caused romantic havoc between a pair of brothers, Stefan and Damon; whilst she tries to readjust to normal life after losing both parents in an accident.

The subplot follows Elena and her encounters with a black crow, unaware it’s Stefan’s brother Damon. The crow appears at the most harrowing times, causing unease. The subplot is crucial to moving the story forward because it lays the foundation for Damon’s entrance, his fascination with Elena, and shows us that his character is darker and more dangerous than Stefan’s.

I applied an interwoven subplot to my story by the lingering strangers following Danielle, i.e. “standing at the edge of a darkened alleyway, was a man. His eyes were locked on me, even as the sea of people crossed his path continuously. I stared back at his eyes for what felt like a minute, he did not look away or falter…and as I looked back to the man, he was gone.” This intertwines with the main plot by letting the reader know everything is not as it seems, it adds to the external conflict when all is revealed to Danielle.

Smith, L.J. (2007). The vampire diaries: the awakening and the struggle (1st ed.). New York City: HarperCollins Publishers

Writing Exercises: Three Sentences Rewrite

Sentence 1: Marie hurried down the steps.

As she stepped out her front door, the icy cold wind slapped her in the face, her breathe smoked like she was having a cigarette, and her eyes became glassy in the bitterness of the weather. How could she have forgotten the Turkey for Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow, Marie thought to herself with her cheeks flushed red in embarrassment as she hurried down the rattling four flights of steps to her newly purchased red hatchback car. She only had twenty minutes to fight the Thanksgiving crowds and traffic to get to Coles before it closed. She prayed as she drove, hoping there would still be a Turkey left.

Sentence 2: I went up the tree-lined driveway.

So many thoughts scrambling through my head right now. All my fears, hopes, dreams, and heartache of this moment were now going to become a reality. I had wanted and waited for this moment to happen for so long. Walking up the tree-lined driveway, each step closer getting heavier, I had to focus on putting one foot in front of the other. The silence walking between and under the towering trees that shadowed me was unsettling, a little eerie, like the silence before a storm, making me even more nervous and apprehensive. The excitement of this long awaited moment was overrun with the fear of being unloved, she was my biological mother after all, surely she felt some love towards me.

Sentence 3: Kevin and Angela fought.

Standing in line waiting for their turn, Angela and Kevin fought between themselves laughing as to who was going to go first down the water slide. They became so engrossed in who was going to go first, they had forgotten the platform they were standing on was wet and slippery. Angela poked out her tongue and pushed Kevin. He grabbed her forearm to stop himself from falling over, but they both slipped over and landed on their bottoms with a gigantic thud. Embarrassed with flushed red cheeks, they couldn’t do anything but laugh.

Authors and Social Media Platforms: Stephen King

The use of social media is not one that is alien to people of today posting pictures of their kids, what they ate for breakfast, etc., so it comes as no surprise that the King of horror, Stephen King, is active on social media promoting his work, projects and waffling on about his dogs. But only the King of horror could get close to 80k likes on a photo of his sleeping dog and still retain his 1.1Million followers on Instagram.

Stephen Edwin King dubbed the King of Horror by critics and fans alike, was born in 1947 in the United States. His career includes 58 published novels, has sold over 350 million copies, and many of his books have been adapted into movies. This American author writes horror, supernatural fiction, suspense, science fiction, and fantasy.

Stephen King has a presence on many social media sites, but especially Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

Instagram is a social media platform that is image-based, allowing for a small comment section underneath. Stephen King established his presence on this platform in October 2013. Since then he has only posted 92 times and recently the posts are down to 1-3 posts per month. Given his fame, as an author, it is not surprising that he has 1.1million followers on this platform and retains them, no matter how little he posts. Even with minimal posts, his personality shines through on his comments on his posts. He is quite a character with a quirky sense of humour, it feels like he is the type of person who laughs at his own jokes and doesn’t care.

His Instagram posts consist of mainly of pictures of his dogs, his friends, himself and what he is up to, his books, snippets of audio books, his characters that have been made into novelty items i.e. Pennywise cereal, snippets of new short stories he is writing, magazine covers. While his Instagram is eventful, it is used as a mixture of self-promotion and author promotion. He gives us glimpses into his home/personal life and then the next post will be about his books or a movie that is an adaption of his book. There is a little pattern between his posts on Instagram, it’s like work, work, home, work, home, home, work. I don’t think this pattern is intentional, but I noticed it.

It is quite clever how he balances his posts between home and work life, but as he is an already established and well-known author, those posts about his dogs does not affect his presence.

On Instagram, you cannot post any hyperlink text or website links in the comments below each post, as it simply won’t hyperlink. Stephen King combats this by having a business account, which has been verified as truly being him by the small verified tick and placing his hyperlinked website address in his bio space. He gets anywhere between 70k-160k likes per post and between 351-3,200 comments per post. That is high engagement with his audience by Instagram influencer standards.

I think Instagram is a great platform, but it is clearly not King’s main social media platform because if I look at his Facebook page where he has over 5million followers, he posts 1-2 times every 2-3 days. This, of course, is unless he has something on his mind, like his wife being insulted by a recent article.

Facebook is a social networking website that users can join for free and share pictures, comments, videos, and post links. It also has the feature of being able to do a live chat, private messaging, and you can buy goods and services on Facebook.

On King’s page in the about section, he has a hyperlink website address to his website. There is a message me button placed under his profile picture, and I suspect that while yes you can send the page a private message, like most celebrities, it is not read or answered by the person the page is about. If you do receive a response it is most likely from a manager, agent or other assigned employee of that celebrity.

The content of King’s posts are links to other Facebook page’s dedicated to his adapted films, his books, or critics reviews. He shares movie trailers that have been adapted from his books, and what audiences and critics reactions are to those movie trailers. He shares videos and pictures of projects he is currently working on, links to talks he has done, nominations for awards, short stories he has read and what his critique is on them or suggestions to the author. I like that he also shares his random peculiar thoughts with his followers, it makes him a very interesting character to follow.

I found that while his Facebook posts get anywhere between 2,000-50k likes, 50-10k comments, and 30-20K shares, per post, there is a lot of repetition of posts. King will share the same movie trailer or audiobook sample 3-4 times over a few weeks. I didn’t like the repetition, but it is an effective marketing tool, as those who didn’t see the first post, may see it on a new post two days later. His posting is consistent to the once or twice every 2-3 days.

Facebook is an incredible marketing platform for King, as each post has a ripple effect, making his post reach further than just the people who follow him. If one post is shared say 20,000 times, each of those 20,000 people has followers that will see this post on their newsfeed, giving them the potential to share it on further. The reach is unlimited on Facebook and that makes it incredibly powerful for marketing and promotion, especially to someone established like Stephen King.

The consistency and reach of King’s posts on Facebook could make you think that this is his main social media presence but in fact, there is one better in engagement for King. Twitter, the online news and social networking site where people communicate in short messages called tweets, like microblogging but with a restriction of 280 characters per tweet.

It is on this platform that King has 5.1million followers, and posts between 1-3 times, every 1-2 days, making this his most used platform.

King uses Twitter as his platform to voice his opinions on political issues, especially Trump, and other issues he feels strongly about. He doesn’t do this on his other platforms, which is quite curious to me. He tweets about the best short stories he has read, small excerpts from his books, issues with writing and editors, book reviews, to tell jokes occasionally and talk about his thoughts and ideas. The idea of an author tweeting strongly about political issues and their stance on it is something I find taboo, however as an American, this is something very publicly discussed, and King doesn’t lose engagement or audience over it.

King also uses the platform to retweet reviews about his books by others, film reviews, and film trailers. He also likes to use hashtags on Twitter, where he does do that at all on Instagram. The other thing he does on Twitter that he doesn’t do on Instagram is tag people using the @ symbol, this tags them in his post and will send them a notification of him doing so. By tagging someone in his post and using hashtags he is furthering his audience reach because anyone searching by hashtag will come across his tweet and the audience of the tagged person will also see the tweet.

King has a hyperlink to his website in his bio section, as he does not post hyperlinked text or website addresses within his tweet. Doing this is clever because a follower must click into his tweet, follow it back to his Twitter account and then click onto his website link. It creates traffic to his page and website, and anyone who knows anything about marketing knows that generating traffic to website and accounts is a valuable tool.

Whatever King tweets about he is generating a huge amount of engagement with his audience. Each post can get anywhere between 140-15K comments, 200-120K likes, and 200-5k retweets. This is huge engagement on each post and that makes this platform the most valuable to King in the promotion of not only himself but his work as well.

After analysing each social media platform Stephen King is active on, there is on clear thing I picked up on. It doesn’t matter whether he posts about his books, his dogs having a sleep, his anti-Trump opinions, or his random thoughts, whatever he posts is gold.  Whether he posts once a month or once a day he attracts high engagement and his followers grow.

I don’t personally follow Stephen King on any platform because I do not like horror genre anything, but after reading each post on his Instagram, this would be the account I would follow. This is because his posts are humorous, his quirky personality shines through in his comments and it made me laugh. I really got a feel for his personality, I liked it and found it relatable.

I think for anyone that is not Stephen King you have to be cautious posting your personal opinions about things like politics on your social media accounts if you use them for the promotion of your writing and work. There is a fine line between preaching and opinionated, and I don’t like to be preached to. That is my opinion on that little thing.

I do like that on his Facebook and Twitter accounts, he gives critique to novels and short stories he has read, offering the authors perhaps valuable insight to their writing or where they have used a filler. It is quite interesting to read his take on these books and then to read them myself and see if I pick up on them. I like that he isn’t harsh with his words, but his words are helpful. 

It seems no matter what he posts or where he goes Stephen King has sway, an audience of magnitude follows him. He keeps the appearance and layout of his accounts professional and I think he approaches social media with a minimal is the best approach, especially for Facebook and Instagram. With the number of followers, he has, I think he can afford to be minimalistic on his posting. He makes practical use of his accounts and each one has a different feel to it.