All posts by Wendy Van Camp

Writer. Gemologist. Artisan Jeweler.

Book Review: Dracula

Book Name: Dracula
Author: Bram Stoker
First Published: 1897

Bram Stoker was born on November 8, 1847 in Dublin, Ireland. He was a sickly boy but he fully recovered when he was seven. He had no other major health problems and even became an athlete at Trinity College, Dublin when he studied there from 1864-1870. He graduated with honors with a degree in Mathematics and became auditor of the College Historical Society and President of the University Philosophical Society.

While he was a student, he became interested in the theater and later became a theater critic. He became known because of his good reviews even though theater critics were not highly respected those days. He gave a positive review of Henry Irving’s Hamlet, which resulted to Irving inviting him for dinner and the two becoming friends.

In 1878, Bram Stoker and Florence Balcombe married. The couple moved to London and had a son in 1879. Stoker worked as manager of Irving’s Lyceum Theater for 27 years. By working for Irving, the position gave Stoker the opportunity to meet famous personalities and travel. It was during this time in his life that began writing his novels.

In 1890, Stoker went to the English town of Whitby, where it is said he got some of his inspiration for the novel Dracula. He also met the Hungarian writer Armin Vámbéry, who told him scary stories about the Carpathian mountains. Stoker then studied European folklore and vampire stories for several years. It was not until 1897 that he published Dracula. Other inspirations for the novel include the Slains Castle in Aberdeenshire, the crypts of St. Michan’s Church in Dublin and Sheridan Le Fanu’s novella Carmilla.

Stoker had several strokes and died on April 20, 1912. His cause of death is not definite – some say he died from tertiary syphilis while others claim it was due to overwork. He was cremated and his ashes were placed in an urn. When his son Irving Noel Stoker died in 1961, his ashes were also placed in the same urn. The ashes of Bram Stoker and Florence Stoker were supposed to be put together but when Florence died, her ashes were scattered at the Gardens of Rest.

“There are darknesses in life and there are lights, and you are one of the lights, the light of all lights.” -Bram Stoker, Dracula

In the late nineteenth century, a young British lawyer named Jonathan Harker goes to Castle Dracula in Transylvania to finalize a real estate transaction involving Count Dracula. On the way, he encounters superstitious villagers who become fearful upon hearing his destination. He continues despite their fears and is driven to the castle by a mysterious man.

His accommodations are suitable, but he finds his host Count Dracula to be a strange thin and pale man. He discovers that the Count drinks human blood in order to survive but the latter escapes to England along with fifty boxes of earth. Harker is left at the castle sick and weak.

In England, Jonathan’s fiancée Mina Murray is with her friend Lucy Westenra. Lucy has three suitors who have offered her marriage – Arthur Holmwood, Dr. John Seward, and Quincey Morris – and has begun to sleepwalk. Mina is worried about her friend and because she has not heard from Jonathan for a long time.

A damaged ship carrying Count Dracula’s fifty boxes of earth arrives, but the ship’s crew is missing. Mina finds the sleepwalking Lucy near the graveyard, with a tall, thin figure nearby. The figure vanishes and Lucy does not remember anything when she awakens. Lucy is cold and has two tiny puncture wounds on her neck, but Mina thinks she has just accidentally pricked her friend with a pin. Over the next several weeks, Lucy’s health deteriorates but her former suitor Dr. Seward cannot determine what is making her sick.

When Mina receives word about Jonathan, she goes to help him. Lucy’s condition worsens so Dr. Seward asks the help of Dr. Abraham Van Helsing. Van Helsing notices the spots on the girl’s neck and her blood loss. They give Lucy several blood transfusions, but the girl improves only temporarily. Van Helsing suspects that Lucy is being victimized by a vampire and puts garlic in her room and around her neck to protect her. However, the vampire is able to attack the girl again and Lucy dies.

After her death, a beautiful lady begins attacking the children in the village. Disturbed, Van Helsing asks Dr. Seward to help him open Lucy’s coffin. He also gets to read Mina’s transcription of Jonathan’s diary about his trip to Transylvania. He gathers Lucy’s previous suitors and explains to them that Lucy has become a vampire and how they can save her soul and kill Count Dracula.

Dracula Book CoverDracula is not a novel, that is a single tale woven as a movie might be, instead it is in epistolary form as a collection of journals, letters and papers. The many viewpoints through each journal entry serve to create the suspense which sets the tone of the novel. I will confess that Dracula is not my favorite book of all time. I have never been into horror novels and this one is the granddaddy of the horror genre. Still, it is a classic that has been a part of our literary history and part of our pop culture. It is well worth the time to go back and see the original tale by its creator.

No Wasted Ink Writer’s Links

writers-linksAs a long time artist of jewelry, I know how important marketing is in selling your creative efforts. What works for art also works for books! This week’s list of article links focuses on marketing as an author. I hope they give you plenty of good ideas on how to make your own marketing efforts go more smoothly.

Is it Worth to Join Google+ Communities?

5 Things For Authors To Tweet About

What Readers Look for when Buying a Book

Marketing tools for your self-published book

Word of mouth

AUTHOR CORNER: WHEN TO “GET PROFESSIONAL” WITH MARKETING

Science Shows Something Surprising About People Who Love to Write

ORIGINAL WRITERS, THE NEW-AGE DINOSAURS

8 Writer Tips To Keep Your Butt in the Chair

Seven Lessons of Writing- From Poet-Philosopher: Friedrich Nietzsche

Book Launch: The Curate’s Brother

The Curate s Brother Book Cover

BUY IT TODAY ON AMAZON

THE STORY:

The Curate’s Brother is a short story about the relationship between the two Wentworth brothers as seen through the eyes of EDWARD WENTWORTH. It follows their romantic antics over one summer in 1806. This short story could be seen as a prequel to Jane Austen’s famous novel “Persuasion”.

Edward Wentworth lives a quiet, structured life as a curate in the regency era village of Monkford. He spends his days ministering to the sick and downhearted, which he considers his life’s calling. His comfortable life is shaken when his elder brother, COMMANDER FREDERICK WENTWORTH arrives on his doorstep for a visit. Frederick has returned to England after seeing action and commanding his first vessel, a prize ship won in the West Indies. He is awaiting orders and has the hope of commanding a ship of his own by the end of summer. His only goal is to pass the time with the only family he has left in England until his next assignment.

At first Edward is glad to see his brother. They have not spent time with each other for years due to his brother’s naval service. They are opposites in many ways. Frederick is bold and likes to take risks. Edward is shy and over-aware of social implications. When his brother flirts with SALLY MARSHALL, an outgoing beauty that Edward is used to viewing as “a child”, the young curate becomes aware that his viewpoint of Sally is sorely outdated. His peaceful life is full of turmoil as he observes Sally flirting with men at public assemblies and realizes that he does not like it.

Meanwhile, Frederick finds himself a celebrity in Monkford. Word from the London papers paint him as “the Hero of San Domingo”, where he won a commendation for his quick thinking in action. The men want to hear the story of his exploits, but Frederick would rather dance with the ladies. The Commander takes an interest in shy wallflower, ANNE ELLIOT. He pays no heed to Edward’s warnings that the girl is the daughter of a baronet and well above his station. Edward fears that no good will come of a union between his brother and the girl due to her family connections.

At the end of summer, a letter and a package arrive that will change everything for the two brothers. Which way will prevail, the bold action of the commander or the quiet manners of the curate?

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY:

Wendy Van Camp is the writer behind the blog No Wasted Ink. She has published memoir shorts in literary magazines, writes non-fiction articles for various art and literature magazines and is a volunteer coordinator for Nanowrimo. Wendy is also working on a long Steampunk Science Fiction trilogy that will hopefully debut next year. Her latest series features a variation on Jane Austen’s Persuasion and will be composed of two volumes: The Curate’s Brother and Letters From The Sea.

Wendy makes her home in Southern California with her husband and australian shepard. Wendy enjoys travel, bicycling, gourmet cooking and gemology.

Author Interview: Diane M. Robinson

Diane may be a self-proclaimed delusional fantasy writer, but she takes the craft of writing well seriously. Her goal is to leave something original and fun in the minds of her readers. I think she has hit that goal out of the ballpark with this interview. I’m pleased to welcome Diane to No Wasted Ink.

Author Diane M. RobinsonHello Wendy and readers of No Wasted Ink. My name is Diane Mae Robinson; I am a children’s fantasy/adventure chapter book author who lives in an out-of-the way magical forest in central Alberta, Canada. Yep, magical forest: gnomes, elves, dragons, castles, all of it. People who know me say I am somewhat delusional—ummm, aren’t all fantasy writers?

Besides being a writer I have other jobs, which pay for the upkeep of the magical forest: dental office manager, art teacher, and writing instructor. In this magical forest, I live in a small castle-type house, which my husband and I designed and built by ourselves several years ago. The forest is also home to my five horses and four dogs. Through the years living here, I have worked on building many wonderful medieval-type flower gardens and stone pathways, filled with sculptures of magical creatures that I have made. These gardens surrounded by the forest is where I get my inspiration for writing fantasy.

When and why did you begin writing?

I started writing around the age of eight–well after I had learned to read and, by then, had read every children’s book in the small town library—when I decided to make up plays and perform them for the neighborhood kids. The only other volunteer in my plays was my younger sister, which was good and bad—the themes of the plays were medieval; my sister would not act the part of the prince unless she was allowed to wear her cowboy duds. So, as I was the princess being rescued by my handsome prince (aka cowboy), the plays were performed to a live audience of five until a particular day when chaos struck. My prince had a simple task—jump from the roof of the house and rescue me where I was tied to a tree by the evil villain. The prince (aka cowboy) jumped, broke her arm, my mom heard the racket, I was untied by mom, sister went to hospital, sister got home from hospital, I asked her: “Why didn’t you just use your cape?” Mom banned me from ever making up plays again. When sister forgave me, I wrote more plays that she agreed to be the prince (aka cowboy) in. So, what else to do but bring my merry band of play watchers deeper into the forest and out of prying eyes.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I have considered myself a writer ever since I started writing plays at age eight: I write, I create, I am a writer.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

I am currently working on book three of my fantasy/adventure series, Sir Princess Petra’s Mission–The Pen Pieyu Adventures. Book one, Sir Princess Petra,—The Pen Pieyu Adventures, was published in 2012 and has since won three major book awards. Book two, Sir Princess Petra’s Talent—The Pen Pieyu Adventures, was released in Sept. 2013. I am also working on a grammar book for elementary grades; this book has a medieval theme and the characters from my series are in this book also.

What inspired you to write this book?

I’ve always preferred fantasy stories and movies over all other genres. So, once the characters of this series started invading my head several years ago, they became so real to me that I had no choice but to write about their adventures. Often, I just feel like the writer while they tell me what is going to happen.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I am definitely a character-driven writer over a plot-driven writer. Plot is very important in children’s books, but if kids can feel and see the adventures through my characters. to me, all is won. I have an out-of-the box sense of humor and this comes out in my characters and their situations.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

The characters woke me up in the middle of the night, dictated their names, told me the places, declared their situations, and yes, even forced me on the titles of the books. Does this ever happen to other writers? Just curious.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

The main character of this series, Sir Princess Petra, is a princess whose greatest accomplishment is becoming a knight. She accomplishes this through kindness, understanding, and acceptance of others; all to the dismay of her father, the king, who thinks knights have to be big and mean and nasty.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

All my characters and situations in the stories are purely fictional—made up in my delusional (or so I’m told) mind.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

I’ve been reading C.S. Lewis for years. His stories influence me by the way the reader can totally get lost in his fantasy world. Lemony Snicket influences me with his sharp wit and humor, and the bizarre situations of his stories. Both of these writers inspire me to write engaging stories for children that leave a mark, have good values, and are fun to read.

If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?

I think anybody that writes a great story is a mentor because they instill in us, other writers, the need to write well.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

The cover designer and illustrator, Samantha Kickingbird, was selected by the publisher as she works there. I had no choice in the matter and didn’t see the first illustrations until well into the set-up stages of the books. I couldn’t have asked for a better illustrator for this series.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

As I tell my writing students: If you love to write, learn to write well. Don’t be in a hurry to publish. Re-write and edit, and then do it again and again until you have nearly created perfection before submitting your manuscript to publishers. My first book was rejected 27 times over a 9 year period before I finally received a traditional publishing contract. And my 2nd book was well on it’s way to receiving numerous 5 star reviews before I acquired a literary agent. It takes patience, perseverance, and the art of writing well before you have a book that you can be proud of.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Write from your heart, with passion and imagination, and you will breath life into your stories.

Sir Princess Petra's Talent Book CoverDiane Mae Robinson
From a magical forest, near St. Paul, Alberta, Canada

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Cover Artist: Samantha Kickingbird
Publisher: Tate Publishing, LLC

AMAZON BOOK ONE
AMAZON BOOK TWO

BARNES & NOBLE BOOK ONE
BARNES & NOBLE BOOK TWO

ABE BOOKS 1
ABE BOOKS 2

No Wasted Ink Writer’s Links

writers-linksMarketing your books is one of the important aspects of being an author that is new to the field. No longer do we as writers depend on a publishing house to sell our books for us. We have to do the marketing ourselves. This week No Wasted Ink features several articles on this topic for your edification.

Take Charge of Your Author Business: 5 Aspects to Consider

Stop Using ‘Poet Voice’

Beth Bernobich: Writing Advice, the Meta Post

YOUR AUTHOR PLATFORM IS NOT YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA FOLLOWING

14 Never-Fail Tricks Every Writer Needs to Know

4 COMPLETELY SCIENTIFIC WAYS TO KNOW IF YOUR CONTENT IS COMPELLING

Publishing is a Business…Why I Don’t Give my Book Away for Free

Which 5 Book Genres Make The Most Money?

10 RESOURCES FOR WRITERS AND BLOGGERS

7 Top eBook Blog Tour Sites