Ann Rule ~ 1930-2015

Ann RuleTrue-crime writer Ann Rule, who wrote more than 30 books, including a profile of her former co-worker, serial killer Ted Bundy, died Sunday 26th July, at age 83.

Although not my go to genre, I always enjoyed books written by Ann Rule, and her skill of making ‘true-crime’ interesting for the lay reader will be a great loss.

Our condolences go out to her Family and friends.

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Tom Piccirilli: 1965 ~ 2015

tom-piccirilliTom Piccirilli was a two-time winner of the International Thriller Writers Award for “Best Paperback Original” (2008, 2010). He was a four-time winner of the Bram Stoker Award. He was also a finalist for the 2009 Edgar Allan Poe Award given by the Mystery Writers of America, a final nominee for the Fantasy Award, and he won the first Bram Stoker Award given in the category of “Best Poetry Collection”.

Author of The Last Kind Words: A Novel (Terrier Rand)Pentacle – A Self Collection, and The Walls of the Castle, he more than once managed to make my hair stand on end.  I would like to express my condolences to his Family at this time.

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The Unauthorized Guide to Trek ~ James Van Hise

DPS_Blogger-header-copyDigital Parchment Services Reprints
Unauthorized, Behind-the-Scenes Books
by Trek Chronicler James Van Hise

For Immediate Release:

Digital Parchment Services and well-known media journalist James Van Hise have signed an open-ended agreement to bring his now classic journalistic examinations of the Star Trek phenomenon back into print.

The first five books in the series will be published throughout 2015.

The entire series will appear under the title “The Unauthorized Guide to Trek”.

The new edition of Mr. Van Hise’s books will feature additional photographs taken by him personally during his three decades chronicling the shows, movies, and the cultural phenomenon Star Trek became.

Beginning in June, DPS will release the following books under the Unauthorized Guide to Trek series title:

Gene Roddenberry: The Man Who Created a Phenomenon

Leonard Nimoy: The Man Who Was Spock

The TOS Years (1966 – 1969)

The Movie Years (1979-1991)

The Complete TOS Crew Book: The Characters and the Actors

The first book issued, fittingly enough, features a look into the private life and public accomplishments of the man responsible for the vision that became Star Trek.

Readers will learn:

  • the childhood circumstances that led to Roddenberry’s passion for science fiction;
  • how his early days as a police officer gained him entry, later in his life as a writer, into the newly burgeoning field of television;
  • about the bitter behind-the-scenes battles to keep the Star Trektrue to Roddenberry’s vision of a diverse and pacifistic future where conflicts were solved more often with brains than weapons;
  • the reasons for the constant scene and plot changes in the movies as they were being shot;
  • which actors loved him—and which…not so much—and why;
  • how Roddenberry trained the next generation of Star Trektelevision producers to realize his vision after his death, and how that training influenced Star Trek: The Next GenerationDeep Space NineVoyager and beyond;
  • and much much more.

Look for more news about The Unauthorized Guide to Trek and Gene Roddenberry: The Man who Created a Phenomenon, coming soon from Digital Parchment Services.

James Van Hise is a well-known journalist specializing in film, television, and comic history. A long-time fan turned media historian, Van Hise’s credentials as both writer and editor are extensive. He was the editor of the pivotal comix zine Rocket Blast Comic Collector (1974-8) and the pioneering Enterprise Incidents: The Magazine for Star Trek Fans (1976-85). In the comic field he has written stories for Dread of Night, Green Hornet, Ray Bradbury Comics, and Real Ghostbusters, among others. As a journalist Van Hise has authored books on Batman, Dune, Conan, Star Wars, The Lone Ranger, Dick Tracy, Stephen King, and Star Trek.

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Isak Dinesen

April 17, 1885:

Isak Dinesen is born

Karen Dinesen, Baroness Blixen-Finecke, better known by her pen name Isak Dinesen, is born in Rungsted, Denmark. Dinesen’s memoir, Out of Africa, helped demystify the Dark Continent for millions of readers.

Dinesen was born to an upper-class Danish family. Her father committed suicide when Dinesen was 10, ending the happiest period of her childhood. She began writing plays and stories and studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen, where she developed an interest in art.

When her family sent her to Oxford to study English, she rebelled and went to Paris and Rome to study painting. In 1914, she married her cousin Baron Bror Blixen-Finecke, and the couple moved to what was then British East Africa (now Kenya), where they owned and operated a coffee plantation. While the unhappy marriage dissolved in 1921, Dinesen fell passionately in love with Africa and remained to manage the plantation for a decade. In Africa, she was a lively and extravagant hostess, fond of throwing lush dinner parties for her friends-parties which laid the basis for her 1949 story, Babette’s Feast, which was filmed in 1987.

Drought and a crash in coffee prices forced Dinesen, penniless, back to Denmark in 1931. She began publishing short story collections with Seven Gothic Tales (1934), followed by Out of Africa in 1937, which brought her recognition and respect. She published several other story collections before her death, in 1962.

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Happy Birthday

April 4, 1928:

Maya AngelouMaya Angelou is born

On this day poet and novelist Maya Angelou-born Marguerite Johnson-is born in St. Louis, Missouri. Her parents divorced when she was three, and she and her brother went to live with their grandmother in Stamps, Arkansas. When she was eight, she was raped by her mother’s boyfriend. When she revealed what happened, her uncles kicked the culprit to death. Frightened by the power of her own tongue, Angelou chose not to speak for the next five years.

From this quiet beginning emerged a young woman who sang, danced, and recorded poetry. After moving to San Francisco with her mother and brother in 1940, Angelou began taking dance lessons, eventually auditioning for professional theater. However, her plans were put on hold when she had a son at age 16. She moved to San Diego, worked as a nightclub waitress, tangled with drugs and prostitution and danced in a strip club. Ironically, the strip club saved her career: She was discovered there by a theater group.

She auditioned for an international tour of Porgy and Bess and won a role. From 1954 to ’55, she toured 22 countries.

In 1959, she moved to New York, became friends with prominent Harlem writers, and got involved with the civil rights movement. In 1961, she moved to Egypt with a boyfriend and edited for the Arab Observer. After leaving her boyfriend, she headed to Ghana, where a car accident severely injured her son. While caring for him in Ghana, she took a job at the African Review, where she stayed for several years. Her writing and personal development flourished under the African cultural renaissance that was taking place.

When she returned to the U.S., she began publishing her multivolume autobiography, starting with I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Four more volumes appeared during the next two decades, as well as several books of poetry. In 1981, Angelou was appointed Professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem. She has been nominated for several important awards and read a poem written for the occasion at President Clinton’s inauguration.

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Canadian Alice Munro, 82 yrs old, is awarded the 2013 Nobel Prize in Literature.

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Earlier this year, the Canadian short story writer Alice Munro announced her retirement, at the age of 82: “It’s nice to go out with a bang,” she said when she won a Canadian book award for Dear Life. Now she has won the 2013 Nobel Prize for Literature. The dramatic and unexpected coincidence – “I knew I was in the running, yes, but I never thought I would win” – is like the plot of one of Munro’s own stories: understated and elegantly structured. The Nobel is a bang by anyone’s standards.

Munro was born in 1931 and grew up in Wingham, Ontario, where her mother was a schoolteacher and her father a fur and poultry farmer. Her early compulsion to write is captured in the story “Cortes Island” from the collection The Love of a Good Woman (1998):

It seemed that I had to be a writer as well as a reader. I bought a school notebook and tried to write – did write, pages that started off authoritatively and then went dry, so that I had to tear them out and twist them up in hard punishment and put them in the garbage can. I did this over and over again until I had only the notebook cover left. Then I bought another notebook and started the whole process once more. The same cycle – excitement and despair, excitement and despair.  

Alice Munro is acclaimed for her finely tuned storytelling, which is characterized by clarity & psychological realism.

If you have never read any of Ms. Munro’s work, here are a few suggestions you may enjoy investigating for yourself:

Best-of collections:

Selected Stories (1996)

Vintage Munro (2004)

Carried Away: A Selection of Stories (2006)

Stand-alone books:

Dance of the Happy Shades (1968)

Lives of Girls and Women (1971)

Something I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You (1974)

The Beggar Maid (1978)

The Moons of Jupiter (1982)

The Progress of Love (1986)

Friend of My Youth (1990)

Open Secrets (1994)

The Love of a Good Woman (1998)

Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage (2001)

Runaway (2004)

The View from Castle Rock (2006)

Too Much Happiness(2009)

Dear Life (2012)

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Three Passions ~ Bertrand Russell

bertrandrussellbigThree passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind. These passions, like great winds, have blown me hither and thither, in a wayward course, over a great ocean of anguish, reaching to the very verge of despair.

I have sought love, first, because it brings ecstasy – ecstasy so great that I would often have sacrificed all the rest of life for a few hours of this joy. I have sought it, next, because it relieves loneliness–that terrible loneliness in which one shivering consciousness looks over the rim of the world into the cold unfathomable lifeless abyss. I have sought it finally, because in the union of love I have seen, in a mystic miniature, the prefiguring vision of the heaven that saints and poets have imagined. This is what I sought, and though it might seem too good for human life, this is what, at last, I have found.

With equal passion I have sought knowledge. I have wished to understand the hearts of men. I have wished to know why the stars shine. And I have tried to apprehend the Pythagorean power by which number holds sway above the flux. A little of this, but not much, I have achieved.

Love and knowledge, so far as they were possible, led upward toward the heavens. But always pity brought me back to earth. Echoes of cries of pain reverberate in my heart. Children in famine, victims tortured by oppressors, helpless old people a burden to their sons, and the whole world of loneliness, poverty, and pain make a mockery of what human life should be. I long to alleviate this evil, but I cannot, and I too suffer.

This has been my life. I have found it worth living, and would gladly live it again if the chance were offered me.

~ Bertrand Russell

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