Month: October 2016

Dispatch from book launch

Pale Hearts is out in the world! The books are printed, orders have shipped, and my first book signing went wonderfully yesterday.

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I’m so grateful to the readers who stopped by!  I was impressed to hear that someone already read the entire book on Kindle.  Thank you for taking the time out of your busy lives to say hello, and thanks especially for buying the book.  I am truly appreciative.

My next event is on November 7, when I’ll be reading at Trident Booksellers in Boston (7 pm).  I’m looking forward to it!

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In other great news, Pale Hearts made it to the shelves of Harvard Library!  I’m very thankful for and excited about this development.

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Putting a few copies on my personal shelf realized a lifelong dream.

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Advertising, Nature, Escapism

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Source: By TerjeN, Creative Commons License (CC By 3.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0), via Wikimedia Commons

Lovers of northern landscapes may have seen pictures of the Trolltunga in Norway. It’s a literal “tongue” of rock that overlooks stark cliffs and shining water. Many pictures of the Trolltunga feature an individual hiker solemnly gazing upon the scenery.

As a hiker and nature-lover, I have dreamed of visiting Norway.  I want to see the fjords and experience endless summer nights.  After learning about Trolltunga, I thought it might be the perfect hiking destination.

Then I did some more research.  A quick search online reveals dozens of the cutesy photo-op people have invented for Trolltunga.  There are yoga poses, group jumps, newspaper readers.  A rock band staged a rehearsal there.

I started to wonder how many people actually visit this place.  It turns out that only a few honest photographers show what the scene really looks like.  The landmark is too famous for only one hiker to be present at a time.  In reality, a large crowd waits at the base of the tongue while each individual gets their chance at an epic photo.

I experienced a similar phenomenon while traveling to Western Brook Pond in Newfoundland.  It’s an inland fjord that is featured in all the Newfoundland tourism photographs.  The scenery is stunning–or at least it should be.

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Source: By Tango7174, Creative Commons License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

In reality, it’s the most crowded place in all of Gros Morne National Park–probably because of all very same tourism photos.  Not only is it crowded, there is a cafe built right at the end of the fjord, as well as a noisy tour boat that blasts its commentary on loudspeakers as it motors through the water.

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The cafe–deserted only because the boat tour just left. A crowd was here moments before.

A few signs near the cafe helpfully inform you that the rare, fragile ecosystem of the inland fjord is now threatened due to boat traffic.

This is not to say that we shouldn’t expect crowds.  I have no more right to enjoy a place in solitude than anyone else who scheduled their vacation on the same day.  Everyone wants to see beautiful places.  As the population of the world increases, it’s a simple fact that there will be more people everywhere, even in scenic, isolated spots.

And yet it still feels like there’s a disconnect between our photographs and our reality, one more insidious than a few prettified tourist brochures.

Halloween Stories

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With Halloween a few weeks away, it’s the perfect time to read some creepy short stories. Here are some of my favorites:

The Monkey’s Paw by W.W. Jacobs – A haunted monkey’s paw gives this family whatever they wish for…with a twist.

Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? by Joyce Carol Oates – A creepy guy shows up at her house. What should Connie do?

A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Connor – A family road trip goes horribly wrong.

The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe – A murderer is haunted by guilt.

The Lottery by Shirley Jackson – A seemingly normal small town turns out to have a dark secret.

The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman – A confined woman descends into madness.

The Adventure of the Speckled Band by Arthur Conan Doyle – A woman’s twin sister dies under sudden and suspicious circumstances.

The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle – A mysterious beast causes some suspicious deaths. This one’s actually a novel, but I had to include it because it’s so terrifying.

My new story collection, PALE HEARTS (now out in Kindle and paperback), has a few stories that are Halloween-worthy.  In “The Grechtzoar,” Jimmy has to hunt the dangerous monster that  killed his best friend.  In “Unhanding,” John’s hand is stolen by an imposter.  Mysterious disappearances, vacant houses, and a possible kidney haunting round out the generally creepy atmosphere.  Check out my new events page to attend an upcoming reading!