•October 22, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Guest Post by Kim Marie Ostrowski

Everyone should read at least one Kurt Vonnegut book — Welcome to the Monkey House and Mother Night are my favorites. They’re blunt. Dark. Demanding. And they make you think, and laugh, and want to be a better person. What more can we ask of literature, and what better person to turn to for tough love on writing?

It’s not surprising that his thoughts on art, writing, and the writing life are just as thought-provoking, funny, and inspiring…

If you want to really hurt your parents, and you don’t have the nerve to be gay, the least you can do is go into the arts. I’m not kidding. The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.

A Man Without a Country

… that they tear down our pretensions and keep us focused on the craft …

Novelists have, on the average, about the same IQs as the cosmetic consultants at Bloomingdale’s department store. Our power is patience. We have discovered that writing allows even a stupid person to seem halfway intelligent, if only that person will write the same thought over and over again, improving it just a little bit each time. It is a lot like inflating a blimp with a bicycle pump. Anybody can do it. All it takes is time.

Palm Sunday

… and that they’re direct, pointed, and eminently useful:

Here is Creative Writing 101:

1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.
2. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.
3. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
4. Every sentence must do one of two things — reveal character or advance the action.
5. Start as close to the end as possible.
6. Be a sadist. No matter sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them — in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
7. Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.
8. Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To heck with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.

The greatest American short story writer of my generation was Flannery O’Connor (1925-1964). She broke practically every one of my rules but the first. Great writers tend to do that.

Bagombo Snuff Box

In the end, what I love is how he helps me focus on the writing itself. Not the moral or lesson or the conceptual leaps of what I’m trying to communicate — just the words, and how they build on one another into phrases, then sentences, then stories, and then big ideas:

There is no beginning, no middle, no end, no suspense, no moral, no causes, no effects. What we love in our books are the depths of many marvelous moments seen all at one time.


He’s a needed reminder of the power in each of our pens.

This was originally posted in the daily post.

Writing A Review

When writing a review there is certain criteria to follow

You need to give a short plot summary, what it was you did and did not like about what you are reviewing be it products, movie, tv show, or book etc.   Depending on where you write you may have a bit of a limit so many characters or words, or you may have a quota of words or characters to fill. One way or another sometimes an outline helps, but don’t always follow it as readers will notices this general form you are writing in and likely no longer pay attention.

This is what I try cover in my reviews

(this basically covers everything)

  Some give the star treatment a rating of 1 through 5 stars 1 being worst and 5 being best; while others just use a number system for an overall grade, which works pretty much the same as the stars.

There are those that use the  letter system for an overall  grade like they did in school; F being a fail & A+ being the best.   Someone a long time ago had told me about   their criteria for their review how they do it and told me I could make use of it, and use it to add to my own.

This is an amalgamation of both of our criteria  so that you can use it or some parts in a review and other parts in a different one.

————-  THE REVIEW —————



(studio for movie or tv)


Plot outline (try to limit to 3-5 lines)

include the characters/ stars  & co-stars if you feel the need

Write about what you DID like about the movie/show/book/product

Then what you didn’t

What was your favorite part

a Favorite Quote?

If it’s a Book to film or a remake of tv to film or film to tv etc. Please be sure to note if you have read or watched the other.

Note the differences and if you like them or not

What do you like about the new version

What is t that you don’t?

 Ratings:Originality: 5/5   Length: 5/5  Plot: 4/5  Characters: 5/5  Cast/acting   Set-up/ Execution

Cliche factor





Depth/ Range /Emotion






CGI Action


Quality  (rise or decline)

Would you recommend this to someone?   & How Best to see/buy  in theater, buy, rent (or borrow) wait for  a sale or tv

Overall grade  Letter/number/or stars

—-I will likely add to this as I think of anything else —–

again remember please do not use the same outline to review anything, it sounds generic when you do and you want it to be heartfelt, that way other will know if they want to go ahead and see, read or buy what you have reviewed.

#20 Dracula Day!! – A Fang biting Holiday

•October 20, 2014 • 3 Comments

#20 Dracula Day!! – A Fang biting Holiday.

I’ve made a separate page on

Bela Lugosi and Dracula day

Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula was based on the 15th century Romanian Prince Vlad Tepes also known as Vlad the Impaler and Dracula as Son of the Dragon.  Among the Romani people Vlad was and still is revered for defending his country against the Turks. Vlad’s manner of impaling his victims was to make an example of them (which I think and wish to be used in our times, being as punishment by jail does not seem to work) and be a warning to others. Sadly Vlad even used his method for those who’s ‘crime’ was as minor as lying. Vlad’s reputation, if not historical accounts inspired Stoker to write Dracula, written centuries later.  Vlad thought to have been born in what then was a town called Sighisora which was at the time part of  Transylvania  (now part of Romania) , the younger son of Wallachian Prince Vlad Dracul, who was a warlord  and inducted into the Royal Society ‘Order of the Dragon’ which was one reason he was called Dracula as in medieval times the dragon was synonymous with the devil. In Romanian language the word Dracula means ‘son of the dragon’ and in turn son of the devil, so he lived up to his name.

The elder Vlad was forced to give up 2 sons, Vlad and his older brother Mircea II were hostages of the Ottoman sultan. Radu was put to death  by being blinded with iron stakes and buried alive. Vlad needless to say grew up with an intense hatred o the Turks as well as any who were disloyal and competitive against his family these were high-ranking Russian, Moldovian, and Wallachian aristocrats).

1447 The elder Vlad Tepes was assassinated and was now time for young Vlad to rule. With the herculean task of  restoring order to Wallachia. his land now a poverty-stricken country whose economy completely collapsed and crime endemic.   Vlad wiped out threats to his power, to curb the boyars he knighting lowly individuals as well as appointing some to important government positions. He cut off trade between the boyars and the Saxons that settled in Transylvania; and when the boyars resisted, he had Saxon Officials impaled as a warning not to flout his authority.  having made an alliance with the Hungarians in 1461, he marched into Ottoman territory and laid waste to the population south of the Danube. Vlad was said to having boasted or killing 20,000 Turks and Bulgarians chopping off their heads and burning them in their homes. The Sultan responded by sending an army of 90,000 men, who upon arrival  were greeted by the forest of thousands of dead and dying  impaled upon stakes.

Vlad’s army was no match for the Turks’ when they attacked the castle.  During the siege, Vlad’s wife threw herself from the tower rather than be captured by the Turks. With the castle taken, the sultan threw Vlad in prison and put half brother Radu on the Wallachian throne.  Vlad was killed in 1476 fighting near Bucharest, the Turkish soldiers cut off his head and sent it to the Sultan who prominently displayed it in Istanbul fittingly on a stake.

During he campaigns he was said to have killed 40,000 to 100,00 people, but in his Romania where he was heralded as a freedom fighter and hero the figures are said to be exaggerated.  In Germany  Vlad was alleged of being a sadist, in which his crimes included Burning, skinning, roasting, He was said to have forced his victims families to eat their flesh ,boiling and drowning victims, nailing hats to their heads, and cutting off of limbs. . There are at least 2 ‘stories’ I heard of  of the later 2. (Now I’m not sure if this was just in a movie about Vlad or a documentary about him) But I remember watching something (NOT Dracula Untold)  that Turks came into the throne room, without having taken their helmets or turbans off. Vlad requested they do, but they refused and so he had them nailed to their heads. The cutting off of limbs, from what I know is let the crime fit the punishment; if you stole you had a finger or hand cut off. There is more on these punishments but I don’t want to scare any of those with a weak stomach or heart! Historians however think believe these accounts are exaggerated. He perfected the slow death of impalement to create maximum pain before death. It was important to sharpen the sake but not too much so the victim would not die of shock. The stake was then oiled  and forced into the body; normally the stake was inserted through the anus and forced right through until it came out of their mouth,  however for some crimes  they were impaled upside down, or it would be inserted in other orifices or pushed through the chest or stomach. The victim was then left outside in front of passers-by  to die a humiliating slow & agonizing death.  The size of the stake  indicated the person’s rank. They were also arranged in patterns around a village, city, or town the soldiers were targeting, and once a victim died, they were left to rot away. Vlad Tepes may have gone down in history for his blood thirsty ways of punishment there is nothing to suggest that he (in fact) drank blood or was a vampire.    want to learn more  about Vlad Tepes?

In the novel Dracula lives in  Transylvania which is supposed to be a ‘cursed land’ ,originally the novel was supposed to be set in a region of Austria called Styria, having been inspired  by reading a book of a remote castle, however when he read another book said to be Transylvania Superstitions by Emily Gerard and was an account of the folklore of the regional forests, werewolves and ruined castles. One of these superstitions was that of the locals belief in in Nosferatu, and how they tried to ward off evil by hanging garlic over their doors. Stoker thought this to be a fertile ground for a horror story. There was one other book that that was an important influence ‘An Account of the Principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia by William Wilkinson which was published in 1820 In this book he came across the accounts of Prince Vlad III as well as possibly by his Hungarian friend and  professor Armin Vambery.

Read the follow up, Did you know that Stoker’s novel was originally supposed to be titled un-dead? Continue the Dracula tale with his Great nephew, in Dracula: Undead. (I enjoyed it and loved the twist)

No one knows if  Vlad Dracul ever visited Bran Castle  but it is known as ‘Dracula’s Castle’ and is one of Romania’s top tourist attractions. The castle made headlines after being returned to it’s original owners the Van Hapsburg family (in which someone from my county of  Westchester in NY was one of them) 60 years after it was seized by the communists.

Check out The Ghost Adventures 2013 Halloween special in Dracula’s castle  ,  Targoviste Castle    Hunedoara Castle

http://draculascastle.com/html/vladhistory.html    Hunedoara Castle

Oh I just came across some new news!!!  for a documentary


Find out how many brothers Vlad Tepes had? 

After seeing Dracula Untold (see my review here ) I came across this, which by the title of the article alone made me feel all Fangy and giddy!


theatrical-review-dracula-untold from iHorror/




want Vampires in general? They’re day errr Night is coming up

Ideal reading

The ultimate Dracula anthology was released for the 60th anniversary of the Original Motion picture.

sadly I couldn’t find the Vampire book with the cover I have of Keifer Sutherland in the Lost Boys!

Reposted from a friends blog.

The Knights of Good Hope Battle The Dragons of Tanzania

•October 20, 2014 • 4 Comments


New post from Gill in Tanzania, if you feel you can help them to batten down the hatches and protect from future storms then contact me and I will let you know how you could help.

Originally posted on gillswriting:

I love Fairy Tales and Fables and I live in a land made of them.

There are real life fairy tales going on all around me. fairy tales in a country with few books and scarcely any authors, a land where the meaning of dreams focuses on survial until tomorrow. Fairy tales where the dragons roam the street breathing the all-consuming fire of poverty, the knights fight the dragons swathed in armour made of dedication and sheer damned strength of will. The good witch battles daily to cast her spells of education over the happy, smiling and friendly ordinary folk who breed children pure and open-minded and with a longing for the succour of knowledge. A land where the inevitable little people eating ogres run amok in large castles called government. Here they control and influence the minds of those ordinary folk that are trying to do a good job. Here…

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Life’s Imbalance

•October 14, 2014 • Leave a Comment


Gill has arrived back in Moshi with the children of Good Hope. Enjoy her words this week.

Originally posted on gillswriting:

Sometimes life can blow your mind. At other times life can simply seem too damn tough. Many times life is a joy. At all times life is an unfair balance of these things.


Like the iconic justice scales which symbolise a fair and equal administration of the law, life is also a balance which is rarely equally split between the scales. In fact I would beg the question, “does the balance of life ever sit equally across the two scales?”  I think not.

For me personally, the challenges of the life I have chosen to live in Tanzania seemed overwhelmingly difficult during my month-long trip back to Europe. The proverbial scales felt heavily weighted against me. The distance and differences between my two lives was so great that it made the challenges I face in Tanzania seem insurmountable. Several personal factors have weighed in heavily and added to that negative…

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Life’s Contrast – stark and a little frightening

•September 8, 2014 • 1 Comment


Next instalment from Gill, on a break from Tanzania, the differences are stark.

Originally posted on gillswriting:

Hmmm … How to start today my friends,

It is 8:55am on Sunday September 7th 2014 and I am sat at the dining room table in my son and daughter in law’s beautiful, open plan and very Nordic lounge cum kitchen cum dining room with my trusty laptop parked in pole position by the window. I look out on a cloudy grey sky and tree tops swaying in the wind. To access this paradise you mount 85 stone steps of varying depths, the houses here are elevated up into the hillside making his street or road a vertical one. They chooses to live in the last house but one and I love it. The mountains that ring Bergen are on the horizon and a lake ringed by green parks and woods lays below across a road that in no way resembles any road off the main Arusha to Moshi highway back…

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Break the Silence – Save our Women and Children

•August 31, 2014 • Leave a Comment


One minute of your time to sign this petition could change a persons life.

Originally posted on gillswriting:

Good Morning Friends,

Today I recommend listening to Kiss the Rain as you read my post, for today I step outside my usual mental meanderings and ask for your support.

I came to Tanzania wanting to help change children’s lives. I came to Tanzania vaguely aware of the injustices of a country with no tangible women’s and children’s rights policies. That awareness has heightened over the past year.

These are issues I feel strongly about but can influence little, however I do what I can.

I was honoured and privileged to be asked to help a good friend finalise her petition to the South African government to take action to save the countries women and children. The cases within her petition; of a paedophile father and a girl being raped on the beach are people she is very close to. The picture of the little girl on the petition page…

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Book Review – Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner

•August 28, 2014 • Leave a Comment

First Published in Great Britain by Hot Key Books – 2012

Maggot Moon
 Amazon UK link here

This is a story for young pre-teen boys in the main, although some girls will also like it.
This is a science fiction book for kids, it is fun, fast paced and enjoyable.
The main character’s, best friends Hector and Standish live in zone Seven, they are kept here by the motherland so they can be kept under surveillance by others like them.
When their football goes over a wall into a restricted area they decide to retrieve it despite the risks. This leads to a secret, threatening levels of change and the need to make an ultimate stand.

A thought provoking read of could happen in a dystopian society.
Can friendship and trust help the boys to win through?
An excellent book for this age group which I really enjoyed as well.



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