Stephen King in his book ‘On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft’ says:
“The real importance of reading is that it creates an ease and intimacy with the process of writing; one comes to the country of the writer with one’s papers and identification pretty much in order. Constant reading will pull you into a place (a mindset, if you like the phrase) where you can write eagerly and without self-consciousness. It also offers you a constantly growing knowledge of what has been done and what hasn’t, what is trite and what is fresh, what works and what just lies there dying (or dead) on the page. The more you read, the less apt you are to make a fool of yourself with your pen or word processor.”
In his Amazon Prime series, Aaron Mahnke offers an overview of the “lore” from numerous cultures created by our ancestors in an attempt to explain the unknown workings of the world around them. For example; how did a deadly disease contribute to a belief in the existence of vampires? What geological features as said to be the home of fairies?
Now the writer, producer, and narrator of the series Lore has released an anthology titled The World of Lore: Monstrous Creatures, which includes some of the most interesting encounters from the popular show as well as a wealth of additional stories and background information about the evolution of the myths, folklore, and campfire tales of “things that go bump in the night.”
The author uses historical accounts and descriptions of known “sites” of supernatural and unexplained phenomena to describe how a lack of scientific knowledge and fear of the unknown culminated in a belief in numerous supernatural creatures and phenomena. Then he shares examples of the tales of happenings in a “story-telling” manner consistent with the scripts of the television series.
I found the scholarly portion of the book to be very informative but a little dry, despite attempts by Mahnke to inject humor and current events into his explanations of the supernatural. By comparison, his accounts of the “events” read like very engaging short stories of horror and the paranormal.
After reading a large portion of the book, I decided I needed to watch some of the episodes of the show for comparison purposes. I found that the podcast featured some of the same stories in the book, heavily dramatized and enacted, but seemed to focus more on one particular example instead of the multiples given in the manuscript. While both were interesting, the dramatization of the show drew me in much more quickly than the volume, if only because the length of the episode was longer than each encounter narrated in the book.
Still, I found the book interesting enough to give it four stars and would recommend it to anyone who wants not only to get a chill out of a story of the paranormal, but also an understanding of why the story could make the reader feel fear in the first place.
The promise of warm weather and a break from school is the opportune time for many families to reconnect. When your family is as scattered as mine, getting together can be a huge and potentially overwhelming undertaking. To help you prepare your next get-together, I’ve shared some of my best tips for serving up a successful family reunion.
Start by Prepping Your Space.
One of the beautiful things about planning a reunion in the spring or summer is the fact you can use the weather to your advantage. If you have a small space and a large number of relatives, you can always move the bulk of the festivities outdoors. Picnic tables and benches or camp chairs are wonderful for sharing food, conversation, and keeping an eye on the little ones.
If you live in an apartment and don’t have outdoor space you can reserve or utilize, check out your local parks. Some take reservations while others have a first-come-first-serve policy, so do your research as soon as possible after the date for the event is set if you choose this option.
Add Plenty of Good Food.
Sharing a meal is usually an integral part of family time, so plan ahead. Try to over-estimate on the amount of food that you think you’ll need, because the last thing you want to do is send someone away hungry! Be aware of relatives with special dietary needs, such as for medical conditions and allergies, and make sure there are plenty of options for picky eaters.
Consider having willing family members help in the preparation, or in bringing their own signature dishes from home; everyone wants to feel needed and to be a vital part of the gathering. Also, don’t forget to have plenty of disposable containers on hand to pack up leftovers.
Blend in Activities.
Be prepared for when the conversation lulls or the kids get bored by planning a number of activities appropriate to the group as a whole and the ages of the family members. There are any number of games the entire group can enjoy, from three-legged races to water balloon tosses to Pictionary or charades. These require very little equipment, and can be adapted to suit the size and ages of your group members. If you have one available, a fire pit can be a wonderful addition to your party, offering a venue for toasting marshmallows and telling ghost stories as the evening winds down.
Prevent or At Least Chill Conflicts.
The last thing you should have to worry about at your family reunion is a major argument between attendees. There will always be disagreements between family members, but a group party is more than likely not the ideal time to resolve these problems. If conflict is unavoidable, try to encourage those involved to move to another room or space and calmly, quietly discuss their issues. Offer impartial intermediation if needed. Hopefully they can work out their differences or at least agree to a truce. After all, they may only have the opportunity to see each other and the rest of their relatives once or a few times a year.
Enhance with an Archivist.
If your family gatherings are as rare as mine, they feel all the more precious each time you gather. Children grow up and move away, and older relatives sadly pass, so it’s impossible to predict who will make it to the next reunion. Consider creating a Facebook event page or similar where photos and memories can be shared and posted. Put everyone in front of the camera. Elect one relative to film each attendee as they share personal remembrances, funny stories, or nuggets of wisdom to pass on to other members.
I hope you get to spend time with your extended collection of loved ones soon, and that these tips help you host your ideal event. Remember: family is special and irreplaceable, whether you have a large clan by blood, or a few you call family by choice. Either way, they provide us with a sense of belonging and community that fills our hearts and enriches our lives.