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The Veil: The Jersey Devil

The story begins with a woman name Jane Leeds and great mother Leeds had already given birth to twelve children, but upon finding that she was pregnant for a thirteenth she cursed the child. She called it the devil and wished it would be taken by the devil. Upon the night this child was born it stormed, and it introduced the world to the Leeds Devil.

The legend described the birth as violent, with the baby ripping from her and flying around the room before escaping out of a door/open window. An alternative version says the baby beat everyone in the room with its tail before escaping up the chimney and out into the world. Another version says that Leeds was the mother, but the devil himself was the father. Both versions I’m aware of describe a priest going into the Pine Barrens to perform an exorcism. There are two versions of the story that I can tell, but there are many subs-versions that combined the details of two separate tellings mixing them around and telling alternative versions. 

Upon deeper research for this post, I discovered a third story version that says that Leeds was punished by a higher power for having a child out of wedlock with a British soldier, an enemy of the country during the Revolutionary War.

Some folklorists had identified mother Leeds as Deborah Leeds, on grounds that Deborah Leeds’ husband, Japhet Leeds, named twelve children in the will he wrote during 1736, which is compatible with the legend. Deborah and Japhet Leeds also lived in the Leeds Point section of what is now Atlantic County, New Jersey, which is commonly the location of the Jersey Devil story. One theory says that the story of Mother Leeds, rather than being based on a single historical person, originated from colonial southern New Jersey religion-political disputes that became the subject of folklore and gossip among the local population. 

According to the theorist, folk legends concerning these historical disputes evolved through the years and ultimately resulted in the modern popular legend of the Jersey Devil during the early 20th century. It contends that “colonial-era political intrigue” involving early New Jersey politicians, Benjamin Franklin, and Franklin’s rival almanac publisher Daniel Leeds resulted in the Leeds family being described as “monsters”, and it was Daniel Leeds’ negative description as the “Leeds Devil”, rather than any actual creature, that created the later legend of the Jersey Devil.
It’s an interesting and more rooted of the story, but the eyewitness accounts are not of a Daniel Leeds and him being a monster and of something very different.

The Jersey Devil is often described as a flying biped with hooves, but there are many variations. The common description is that of a bipedal kangaroo-like or wyvern-like creature with a horse- or goat-like head, leathery bat-like wings, horns, small arms with clawed hands, legs with cloven hooves, and a forked tail. It has been reported to move quickly and is often described as emitting a high-pitched blood-curdling scream.

With many legends dealing with crypto zoological creatures, there have been many hoaxes with people faking ‘hoof prints’ and claiming to find them in the area The Jersey Devil calls home. There seems to be details even pointing to an actual manhunt for the creature by President James Monroe in which the claim that the devil was in fact found and killed by a man named Commodore Stephen Decatur, but there’s no hard evidence that I can find that proves this manhunt even happened. For me, this story of the devil being found and killed seems to be just a story to calm the nerves of locals or even as a bragging-rights type of tale.

With, all the information that is out there about The Jersey Devil, I recommend you doing your own research as I have purposely left much out to shorten the post. It’s a interesting story with historical ties.

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2020 Book Review: Welcome to Marwencol by Chris Shellen and Mark Hogancamp

I read this book after researching after seeing the movie Welcome to Marwen. A unique and sad telling of trauma of a man and how he coped. It really spoke to me, and I wanted to learn more about Mark Hogancamp. I came across this book during my digging into the search and wanted to read more and see it from the eyes of the artist and not the vision of a director.

This book talks about the life Mark had before and after the attack that changed his life. It goes more in depth about the fictional world he created set in World War II and the town of Marwencol. I love how many pictures are included giving a closer look at each building and characters constructed in his world. There are also photographs that compliment the story telling of life before and after his traumatic event. You can really see how the world he created was truly formed by the things he can remember and even by the things he couldn’t.

The movie and the book are both incredible testimonials of how life can be derailed and how art can help with coping. I realized one morning after I wrote this book on my list to review this year that this hit harder home to me as someone who began an art form to cope with the things that have traumatized me and even to this day using art and writing to revisit old wounds to heal.

This is a recommended book because it’s a fantastic book. I do also recommend the movie as well, but this book is what’s up for today and should be given a closer look by anyone and everyone.


This review is a part of my 2020 yearlong self-challenge to read and review. I have reread some books for the purpose of reviewing them on my website whereas I have read others for the first time. Check out Book Reviews and Recommendations to find other book reviews, book recommendations, and more information about the books I’m reading, have read, or are sharing.

Have you read this book? What were your thoughts? Do you agree with me? Do you disagree? Let’s have a conversation about it.


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2020 Book Review: An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917–1963 by Robert Dallek

I have to confess, on this list of all the books I’ve reviewed and will, this book is not my own. It was a borrow from my mother, who enjoys biographies. This, like most biographies, covers the highlights of the subject’s life, but also taught me a few new ones. It really digs into Kennedy’s life and shows a side of him I was never taught in school.

It is said that such focus has been on the death of a man that very clearly had so much life before his end. This book covers his illness, even how despite being sick he served active duty in the South Pacific as the captain of PT-109. I wondered time to time if the author tired of writing about the former president or if some lack of detail was purposely chosen to gloss over aspects of his life with some way he writes portions, but either way it didn’t cause me to lose momentum in my reading.

I didn’t expect a book to focus mainly on his passing, but his wife and his time in office mentioned far less than expected compared to other books I’ve read about him. It wasn’t until I was reading more about the book as a product that I learned how much had been left out. I am not sure if some of what I read about is true or not, but it is sad that if he had lost a child with his wife while in office was left out why it was. This isn’t something I knew of before, and if it’s true, I would’ve like to have learned about how he and his wife handled such a terrible loss. It must’ve really hurt Jackie O.

This is a VERY thick book and wasn’t something I could read in one sitting, but over many days. This is how I recommend this book be read. A long-lasting reading, as it is just so large.


This review is a part of my 2020 yearlong self-challenge to read and review. I have reread some books for the purpose of reviewing them on my website whereas I have read others for the first time. Check out Book Reviews and Recommendations to find other book reviews, book recommendations, and more information about the books I’m reading, have read, or are sharing.

Have you read this book? What were your thoughts? Do you agree with me? Do you disagree? Let’s have a conversation about it.


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The Veil: The Wampus Cat

It’s getting closer to a very spooky day, so let’s talk about The Wampus Cat. A good deal of may never have heard of it, but that doesn’t mean the legend is less real. This is an Appalachian supernatural beast with its very roots in Cherokee tales. From what I understand, the legend begins with a Native American/Indigenous hunting tribe are about to embark on a long hunting trip. They allowed no women to accompany them as it would be too dangerous and rough on them, so they were to be left behind.

The story continues that during this trip that one woman from the village went alone, anyway. She covered herself in the hide of a mountain cat, cougar, or mountain lion. She spied on the men as they asked forgiveness for what they were about to do, taking lives of animals, but also thanking them for their lives. The woman was so enthralled she stepped back breaking a stick. This stirred the hunters and ultimately they took her back to the village to let the shaman of the tribe decide her fate. The shaman turned her into the animal she wore the hide of, a mountain cat.

There are different variations of the story I know online interesting reads. One variation is that the woman was the wife of one hunter and the other was a spirit that transformed into a woman to follow them. One of the more interesting variations is that the woman was cursed to walk alone for being a witch dating the legend to a different time period altogether. 

It is said the Wampus Cat is forever to roam the Appalachian Mountains at night and some have claimed to see it. The tales are all different, as mentioned above, but primarily that it is a woman that roams the night as a half-cougar half-woman as a punishment of some sort. This is primarily a North Carolina crypto animal and tale. 

Folklorist have dated the tale going back to the 19th century with a 20th century twist turning it into a Native American woman.  In 1964 reports of a ‘ape-like’ creature seen roaming the woods came to light and they labeled it the Wampus Cat, but ‘ape-like’ and ‘cougar-like’ are very different descriptions. It is said that you know you have a Wampus Cat near if in the middle of the night you hear odd cat-like meowing or growling or if animals have disappeared from local farms. 

The term ‘catawampus’ in the south to refer to something being ‘odd’ or ‘strange’ is said to come from this legend. I’ve even used this term to describe something messed up, for example: the room was clean until the kid ran through now it’s all catawampus.

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Melankholia, All of My Every Things, and Harvest Updates & Reveals

Last weekend the digital version of Melankholia released, but as planned the paperback edition released on October 5th, how exciting. Along with this wonderful news, I made a small announcement. The announcement was about All of My Every Things will have a second edition run with additional poetry and the long awaited paperback edition, but before the second edition will release and the website posts about that let’s take time to appreciate that a second poetry book has been released.

Melankholia

This book is now live in digital and in paperback formats. It is the first book of poetry that I’ve branded with the Edkar logo. To learn more about Edkar read Edkar Press where I explain more about this organization method I’m using, i.e. publishing house. I have previously mentioned Melankholia on the website read What is Melankholia?

Melankholia has some selected poetry from All of My Every Things included near the end, as well as poetry written from this year’s Napowrimo back in April 2020, and a lot of recent works I’ve polished up for publication. All of this beautiful hard work is introduced by Oliver Sheppard. An amazing poet in his own right and I recommend checking out his work. My favorite is Thirteen Nocturnes.


All of My Every Things

All of My Every Things was previously published last year. It was a simple digital release with plans of a paperback release to follow, but never sitting well with me, I quietly postponed it, but finally with some polishing and adding additional poetry the paperback is coming. I have gone in and updated the book.


Harvest

Harvest is coming out as a re-release November 24th, 2020 with the publisher Three Furies Press. This is just a reminder that it will mark the continuation of The Blasphemer Series with the book following Ghosts, coming out 2021 around August if everything stays on course.

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2020 Book Review: Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne

This classic was a suggested read when I was in school. Whether it was an assignment or just a recommendation from my teacher, I can’t remember. This is a beautifully written story of adventure written by Jules Verne. When you take in consideration, the period of which it was written and the other works Verne wrote, you can appreciate the details included on this journey that takes place in the late 1800s.

The journey only happens because of a bet being taken on by the main character, Phileas Fogg and employer of his helper Jean Passepartout. I have seen none of the movie versions of this book so I cannot compare them, but from what I remember Fogg is a mundane character, he’s hard to like as he’s not especially exciting and rigid, despite being well written. I feel this was done on purpose as to not take away but to add to the adventures. What would this person do if confront with a wild adventure? An unexciting person on an exciting adventure.

Recommending based on it’s a classic. Everyone should at least dip their toes into the classic literature books at some point in their life.


This review is a part of my 2020 yearlong self-challenge to read and review. I have reread some books for the purpose of reviewing them on my website whereas I have read others for the first time. Check out Book Reviews and Recommendations to find other book reviews, book recommendations, and more information about the books I’m reading, have read, or are sharing.

Have you read this book? What were your thoughts? Do you agree with me? Do you disagree? Let’s have a conversation about it.


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The Word: 5 Tips for Poetry Writing

How does one start in poetry? How can someone go from novel writing to poetic prose? Both valid questions and both questions you may ask. I can only share from my personal experience, but as an actively working fiction novelist and poet, I shared a few tips that may help you along your journey.

  • Read as much poetry as possible. Read a vast variety of different poetry from different poets throughout history and even current. This, for me, was a gateway to expanding my horizons. Every new poem or poet I came across I could see or try to see where that poet’s message lied. Whether it was about a falling leave in Autumn or the great despair of losing a child.
  • Learn more about poetry itself beyond the reading of the different prose you come across. The research into the poetic world will introduce you to more than you may know. For example, you will learn about free-styling poetry compared to a structured haiku set-up. These are important upon you developing a style for yourself. You may even discover you want to try your hand at all the different poetry forms!
  • Keep a journal nearby. I already practice this as a novel idea that may come and go. I will need to write it down before I lose my thought. Poetry ideas and lines can come just as quickly as they fade away. You may think of a beautiful way of saying something you’ve struggled with for some time, a journal can net that fish before it escapes.
  • Play with your words. Experiment with assonance and initial rhyme. These can help develop a flow in the work and a style. Along with this experiment, with metaphors.
  • Don’t be afraid to restart a poem. Editing your work is a good way to polish it. For me, this was natural as I would write a chapter draft or even a manuscript draft and re-approach it with fresh eyes during the phase of writing of self-editing. A poem doesn’t have to be perfect and if you think it is the first time you’ve written it, approach it again later on to test your original feelings of the work. This is also a good way to develop your writing and poetry, never publish the first draft of anything you ever write. Publishers will know and so will readers, it will feel ‘off’.

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2020 Book Review: Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson

I find myself time to time delving into a biography, usually that of musicians I’ve enjoyed, but sometimes a politician or great mind comes into my possession. This is one of those great mind examples of a biography I thoroughly enjoyed. This is a complete journey into the world and man of Leonardo da Vinci. It contains a lot of information and is one of the heavier books I’ve read. They credit Da Vinci as one of the greatest minds throughout history, and this book is all the proof I needed to confirm that.

They cover everything I knew about him before reading the book within it from the Mona Lisa to his inventions, it’s the best reference guide, if one was to use it that way, on this man. I even learned many newer things. Da Vinci loved horses. 

I recommend this book to those interested in the life of Leonardo da Vinci, but do not recommend it if you’re wanting a quick guide this is not the guide for you. This is a heavy, well-written, but very in-depth biography that starts with da Vinci’s early years and then moves through his life. Isaacson does all the work and all you have to do is read and enjoy, but take your time cause you’re going to need it to get through every word and image included.


This review is a part of my 2020 yearlong self-challenge to read and review. I have reread some books for the purpose of reviewing them on my website whereas I have read others for the first time. Check out Book Reviews and Recommendations to find other book reviews, book recommendations, and more information about the books I’m reading, have read, or are sharing.

Have you read this book? What were your thoughts? Do you agree with me? Do you disagree? Let’s have a conversation about it.


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The Word: Advice on Nanowrimo

I wrote, in the past, why I decided to do Nanowrimo last year, but it also taught me things about myself. As time has passed, I have realized it taught me more that the initial realizations.

For me, confirmations have always been the best for me to know I can do something or that I’ve done something right. Often, I can do this for myself because I will build confidence due to research. With Nano I went in almost blind. I only had a week to prep. I was taking in a lot of information in a short period, mostly alone researching, but also talking to veterans of the event.

Here I sit, months later, and I realize Nano taught me if I can focus I really can accomplish many things. I have always tried, but my life is often crazy busy, to type here and there, but all I can think was everything seemed to work out for me to get 2019 Nano done.

I am still pretty happy with myself for pushing myself. I work well under pressure and this was an entire event I expected to be nothing but pressure. I started off doing it roughly, pushing and pushing, but ultimately and very quickly I didn’t. I would relax and tell myself that it was okay, something is better than nothing.

Below is all the advice I can share on my experience, I hope it helps someone.

Advice to take away:

  1. Don’t give up
  2. Some words is better than no words
  3. Ignore the community factor if it’s hindering your progress. This is a self-challenge, not a challenge against others.
  4. 50,000 words breaks down easier than you think, just breathe, and you can do it
  5. Self-care is important, don’t push yourself to hit the goal.
  6. If you don’t hit the goal to ‘win’, reflect upon what you accomplished, and remember that was so much more than you started with.

Follow my blogging from last year’s Nanowrimo. Great to see the word count progress. Check out these links in order for a better idea of how little or how much you can do and still ‘win’.

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2020 Book Review: Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman

I already posted my review on American Gods by Neil Gaiman, an excellent read, and I recommend it if you haven’t read it yet. When I found out that there was a second edition of the American Gods world I knew I had to buy it and luckily, when I bought my edition of American Gods I also purchased Anansi Boys knowing I’d want to delve into it right after and I did.

I found this book very well written, quick-witted, and even funny with the way the characters speak. Anansi being the character portrayed in the tv show, I expected nothing less from him and Gaiman delivered staying true to the character. It isn’t often I come across something that causes me to laugh out loud, but this book did that for me. I have become a fan of Gaiman’s and love his imagination. You can tell with his writing that he researches and really does the work that it takes to put into a book. This isn’t something thrown together and I am glad that I expect high quality from him. He is truly a legend, and this book really cemented it for me.

The story reads like a twisting adventure with touches of mystery. I loved that I couldn’t predict what was coming and loved the journey it took me on. That’s high praise! 


This review is a part of my 2020 yearlong self-challenge to read and review. I have reread some books for the purpose of reviewing them on my website whereas I have read others for the first time. Check out Book Reviews and Recommendations to find other book reviews, book recommendations, and more information about the books I’m reading, have read, or are sharing.

Have you read this book? What were your thoughts? Do you agree with me? Do you disagree? Let’s have a conversation about it.


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