Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Spooktacular Giveaway Hop

Boo!  The Spooktacular Giveaway Hop is herehosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer, and just in time for Halloween too!  I've already checked out some other blogs and the giveaways are scary good.  

To me, creepy books are a perfect giveaway for this hop.  But still, the horror genre might not satiate your book thirst.  Not to worry though.  I like to keep things simple with these hops and with my giveaway, you can be as choosy as you want.

I'm giving away one (1) FREE $10 Amazon Gift Card so the winner may pick their poison.  See the details below on how to enter:

To enter…
You MUST be a follower of my blog and MUST fill out this entry form. (And yes, I do check GCF)

Extra entries…
+2 Subscribe to my blog
+2 Like me on Facebook/MinaBurrows

+1 Follow me on Google Plus
+1 Tweet this Twitter (limit 1 retweet)

The giveaway runs from 12:01 AM on Oct. 15th - October 31st, midnight. Contest is open to
 International participants. 

Want to see who else is participating?  Visit I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and check out all the links and hop on by.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Get Ready for Halloween!

Are getting ready for Halloween?  Well, kitty is getting ready.  Seriously though, there's a ton of stuff happening next month so I thought I'd share some cool spooky things to see if you're interested in participating.

Wicked Kitty Source

Spooktacular Giveaway Hop

6th Annual Spooktacular Giveaway Hop starts on October 15th and runs until the 31st.  There's always a good amount of participants and with that some great prizes are up for the taking.  You can either join the linky list to host your own giveaway or you can mark your calendars to visit that blogs and enter to win.  How's that sound?

More details about the Spooktacular Giveaway Hop here.

The IWSG Short Story Contest 2015

ISWG has an short story competition with the top ten stories getting published in an anthology. How exciting is that? The story word count is 5000-6000 and the theme is Alternate History/Parallel Universe. The details are listed on the IWSG website. The entry deadline is November 1st so with Halloween around the corner, this should be a fun one to enter, right?

Share a Scare Blog Hop 2015

Looking to create your own fun this Halloween?  This hop encourages all bloggers, writers and artists to feature a scare on their blog -- the creepier the better.  Bloggers can review a favorite scary book, writers can create their own frightening tale and artists can post a wicked picture they created.  Details about this cool hop are here.

That's it for now!  Sounds like fun, huh?  If you have any other cool ideas for Halloween, comment and share the fun.

Have a great weekend.

Mina Burrows

Wednesday, September 2, 2015


It's September and time for the Insecure Writers Support Group post.  A special thanks to Alex J. Cavanaugh for creating this monthly opportunity to purge all our ill thoughts on writing. I also want to give a shout out to all the co-hosts: Julie Flanders, Murees Dupé, Dolorah at Book Lover, Christine Rains, andHeather Gardner!


I just want to say thank you to all my friends who had such kind words to say about Fred.  As I mentioned, Fred's passing left a real emptiness with our family, but we are doing much better now.  And Fred's ashes are safely back with us so things are indeed better.  On a side note, I find myself snuggling more with the other pooch, Spike, because the poor thing was seriously depressed after his buddy died.  I never knew that dogs would be so effected by another dog's passing, but apparently that can happen.  It's a pack thing and I feel silly for not realizing that sooner.  For the dogs remaining, you have to watch them closely for signs and give them additional attention.  I learned that after reading a few of Cesar Millan blog posts.  All is well here as are hearts are slowly on on the mend.

That said, my kids have gone back to school and we've been fine-tuning our schedule of activities and so forth. I mention this because my schedule is paramount when trying to fit in my writing.  I've also done some major purge-cleaning and plan on doing more of that in the coming months to help keep me more organized.  So far so good.

With that, my goal this month is to keep calm and write a ton.  Since most of my friends are Joss Whedon fans, I wanted to share with you all this throwback that just made me chuckle and gave me some inspiration.


What are your insecurities this month?

Happy writing.  Have a great week!

Mina Burrows

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Rest in Peace Fred

It is with great sadness that I inform you all that Freddie, my faithful dog and beloved friend for the past sixteen years, passed away last Thursday night. Words cannot describe the hole I feel within my heart since he left us. This may sound strange to some of you, but Fred was truly a vital part of our family.  Since he was a puppy and well throughout his life, his happy-go-lucky personality and unconditional love were always there, offering our family (me, in particular) silent support. I suspect in the future there will be countless days where I will subconsciously call for him as if he's still alive. I always knew I was blessed to have a dog as wonderful as Fred, but now more than ever, I feel the blessing tenfold. To me, he will always be one of God's finest creatures.

Rest in peace Fred. We miss you dearly.  

Freddie, July 4, 1999 - July 30, 2015.

Mina Burrows

Monday, July 13, 2015

Book Review: West of Paradise by Marcy Hatch

Not too long ago, I read Marcy Hatch's latest book, West of Paradise and for some time I've been meaning to post my review.  This time-traveler book hooked me from the start and was a great book to add to my summer reading collection.

From the author:  When Jack McCabe gets the opportunity to go back in time, he jumps; it’s the adventure he always dreamed of - until he meets a beautiful but deadly train robber. Katherine Kennedy can't believe an ignorant bounty hunter has mistaken her for a criminal – until she sees the picture, which looks exactly like her. Neither of them imagines how the past has a way of catching up with the present. Set in the old west, this is a tale of mistaken identity, romance, and murder.

My thoughts:  For those that aren't aware, I'm a huge fan of historical romance as well as paranormal books.  Marcy's West of Paradise has both and what a fantastic read!  I haven't read a good time travel book in a long while, so I was do.  Have you ever wanted to trade your current life for one in the past?  Our two main characters, Katherine Kennedy and Jack McCabe decide to do this and like any good story, they have no idea what awaits them.  Both Jack and Katherine have their own reasons for traveling time and essentially it's to escape their current realities and responsibilities.  Jack manages to find his own path in the past in the Old West.  As the story unfolds, he's created quite a life as a bounty hunter and in his mind he's content until he meets the confounding Katherine Kennedy.  Like Jack, Katherine longs to escape into the past, but when she arrives, her life spins wildly out of control from a case of mistaken identity.  Can you imagine be mistaken for an infamous murderess and thief?  And worse, having one of the best bounty hunters on your tail?  As much as Jack wants to capture the elusive, Alanna McLeod, Katherine halts much of his progress.   Katherine is pretty amazing, but does she have what it takes to survive the Old West?   This story takes you on a wild ride filled with bank robbers, murder, deadly family ties and of course romance.  If you're looking for time traveling romance adventure with taste of the Old West, then you'll definitely want to check out Marcy Hatch's West of Paradise.  I really enjoyed it and I think you will too.

Get your copy via Amazon today!

You can follow Marcy on her blog, or on Twitter.  Also, you can find Marcy and West of Paradise on Goodreads.

Happy reading.  Have a great week!

Mina Burrows

Friday, July 10, 2015

Friday Summer Blend: IWSG, NetFlix, & Fred

It's July everyone!  Can't believe how much 2015 has disappeared.  TGIF, though.  Since I've missed too many Fridays this year, I decided to do a quick Friday post featuring a few topics such as, IWSG, NetFlix, & last but not least....Fred.

Insecure Writers Support Group

Although I missed Insecure Writers Support Group this month, I wanted to post a brief comment on my insecurity status. It's been a few months since I posted with IWSG and there are no excuses other than work and taking care of my family. That said, my biggest insecurity surrounds my inability to manage my time better. This month, I've managed to get back on track though. I'm back into writing and of course editing. I found this clever image online on precisely how I feel about editing. Other than that, I'm still plugging along.

What about you? What type of insecurities do you have plaguing you this month?  

So true!

What's Hot on Netflix - Sense8

From IMDB, the Netflix original series Sense8 is about "a group of people around the world are suddenly linked mentally, and must find a way to survive being hunted by those who see them as a threat to the world's order."

After binge-watching this series, I have to say this brief description above doesn't do the show justice. In the Sense 8 world, there are a group of individuals who are connected mentally and have the ability to communicate with each other despite being located in various countries all over the world. It's amazing how these eight individuals can get into trouble and what's cool is these eight can physically support each other when dire circumstances arise. Have a problem with a drug dealer or gangster? No problem. When you're a part of the Sense 8, just call upon the group's ninja master to step into your body and kick some ass. Yeah, it has some intense action like that, and it's endless in this series. If you get a chance, don't hesitate to watch it!

On a side note, this series has graphic nudity and content and is definitely a Rated R series.  Not for the kiddos, folks.

Fridays with Fred - Birthday Boy

Last weekend Fred turned 16.  I thought it was 17, but then double-checked and realized, he's only 16.  And for those that don't know, he's an Independence baby too since his birthday is on July 4th.  Last weekend, Fred, my loyal friend, celebrated another year of greatness.  He's getting up there and at times moves slow.  Other times, he's limber and still likes to jump and frolic with his two-year old friend, Spike.  Some days he can hang, others not so much.  Anyway, it's been too long since I posted about Fred.  For those interested, he's still kicking!  Happy Birthday, Fred!

Stay tuned on Monday when I post about a review on another book I read from fellow author friend, Marcy Hatch and her latest novel, West of Paradise.

Hope you all have a great weekend.  See you next week!

Mina Burrows

Monday, June 15, 2015

Book Review: A Change of Mind and Other Stories by Nick Wilford

Get your e-copy on amazon now here! 
Last month, author and friend, Nick Wilford, released his contemporary speculative fiction book, A Change of Mind and Other Stories. This book was a wonderful read, and I'm so glad I had a chance read it and brag about it. It consists of consists of a novella, four short stories and one flash fiction piece--four of which were previously published in Writer's Muse Magazine

At just around 100 pages, this book is a great choice for a quick and intriguing summer read. In the first story, A Change of Mind, we meet Reuben. He works in an office where he's bullied at every turn and can't even get a date let alone summon the courage to ask a girl out.  It makes you ache to read about his sad state because I swear in life we all have a sullen side to ourselves.

Anyway, Ruben decides to meet with a quasi-brain surgeon to help him rewire some brain parts in a bizarre cutting-edge procedure. Now, how many times have you thought about changing something about yourself or the way you think? Too often, huh? Well, Reuben can't stand himself any longer and decides to undergo the procedure. What he gets is mind blowing change. I won't tell you what happened, but it's suspenseful and reminded me of a modern version of The Twilight Zone Show. Remember how strange those episodes were? Or what about Steven King's Quitters, Inc. about the smoker who tried to quit? After finishing the novella and the other stores, I was left with twilight zone vibe and that's a great feeling for someone like me who truly enjoys those classic stories. Wilford is a fantastic writer who knows how to draw in a reader!

If you're a fan of dark, short stories with an edge, than you'll enjoy A Change of Mind and Other Stories. Get your e-copy on amazon now here!   Visit him at his blog or connect with him on Twitter or Goodreads.

Sounds like a good one to pick up for the summer, huh? Yup, it sure is!

Mina Burrows

Monday, May 18, 2015

Blood, Boobs, and Carnage Blogfest!

It's the Blood, Boobs, and Carnage Blogfest hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh and Heather Gardner. For this blogfest, we're posting about about a movie, television show, book, or all three that falls into any of these categories.

Okay, I've decided to pick a movie, television show and book the comes to mind when I think of each category.

Blood, Boobs & Carnage: I immediately thought of Tarantino's "The Bride" played by Uma Thurman in the Kill Bill series. Does that include all three or what? Yup!  


Then I thought about Tomb Raider's Lara Croft. For a video game character, turned movie blockbuster, she epitomizes blood, boobs and carnage, huh? You know it!

The Walking Dead has all three as well, but mostly blood and carnage. When I mention carnage because it can get bloody as hell. Last season had some of the worst death and destruction caused by many of the survivors of the zombie apocalypse including the living and the dead. For those that aren't familiar, this past season dealt with zombies, cannibals, isolated societies and Carol. Carol, was my choice for blood and carnage because she is just BAD ASS!

Those are my picks! Man that was fun. Did you participate in the challenge? If not, see the links here and take a gander!

Have a great week!

Mina Burrows

Friday, May 8, 2015

2015 A to Z Blogging Challenge Reflections

I'm posting my A-Z Challenge reflections a bit behind schedule.  I didn't want to miss the chance though.  The idea of the post is to reflect about your the overall challenge and discuss what you liked and didn't like.  Overall I enjoyed writing about the penny dreadfuls of the Victorian era.  (Hey, if you missed any of my posts, please click here.)  I learned a ton about the literature in the 1800's and however bad the writing was considered back then, there were many wonderful and iconic pieces of literature created.  And some like The Demon Barber and more have stood the test of time.  Interestingly, the cheap printing methods opened up the lit flood gates to the masses, providing mid to lower classes access to exciting, affordable stories.  When you think about the vast majority of changes the publishing industry has endured over the last few years with the surge of e-publishing, the comparisons between then and now are eerily similar.  

My dislikes for this year's A-Z challenge really came down the time management.  I would have preferred to spend more time visiting and reading my author/blogger friends than writing all the content.  I know that sounds utterly ridiculous, but I think next year I may create another challenge or team that visits the blogs and then highlights the best content every week.  This way I can participate in the process, but spend more time visiting and supporting others, especially folks that are new to the challenge.

Lastly, I want to say a special shout out to the late great Tina Downey at Life is Good. We miss you Tina! God bless!

Those are my thoughts for this year!  I've been participating since the beginning and I'm proud I finished it, but WOW was it tough!  What about you?  Did you have any thoughts on how you'll take on next year's challenge?

Mina Burrows

Thursday, April 30, 2015

A-Z: Y is for The Yorkshire Witch and Z is for Edward Zane Carroll Judson

I'm posting for the letter Y and Z for the A-Z Challenge.  For the letter Y, I'm featuring Mary Bateman, the Yorkshire Witch and for the letter Z, Edward Zane Carroll Judson a.k.a. Ned Buntline.

"Mary Bateman, the Yorkshire Witch"

The penny dreadful, Mary Bateman the Yorkshire Witch, was written by Thomas Peckett Prest in 1840.  Under the direction of Edward Loyd, Prest endeavored to write bloody tales, often creating storylines from news headlines.  Mary Bateman (1768 – 20 March 1809) was an English con artist who would steal and pretend she had supernatural powers to deceive her marks.  She befriended a husband and wife ( William and Rebecca Perigo) who believed in her abilities.  They paid her a substantial amount of money for her magical potions, spells and such.  Rebecca eventually died eating pudding laced with poison.  Her husband grew suspicious and contacted authorities which led to Mary's arrest.  Mary denied any wrongdoing, but the authorities found poison and other incriminating items in her belongings.  She was sentenced to death by hanging in March 1809.  Afterwards, "her body was put on public display with strips of her skin being sold as magic charm to ward off evil spirits."  Ack!.  That's just gross.  You can read more information about Mary here.  Anyway, there are no known copies of the penny dreadful, Prest created based on that original story which is really too bad.  I suspect with his talent for flair and romance, there might have been a riveting read on our hands.

"Edward Zane Carroll Judson"

Since there is little on penny dreadfuls that begin with the letter Z, I focused on an author from the U.S. who wrote serials.  Edward Zane Carroll Judson was an American, using the pen name Ned Buntline, who wrote serials such as The King of the Sea. A tale of the fearless and free and The Virgin Bride. A romance and more.   Ned had a seasoned background in the Navy and military and later roamed the Wild West with the likes of Wild Bill Hickok and Buffalo Bill.  This author led an amazing life to say the least.  He produced Wild West shows with Buffalo Bill and  Texas Jack Omohundro and even claimed he nicknamed "Buffalo Bill" for the hero of his serial novel Buffalo Bill, the King of the Border Men, published in the New York Weekly" in 1869. "Ned Buntline was an American publisher, journalist, writer, and publicist."  I was able to find most of my information about Edward Zane Carroll Judson here, but this image of him hanging with Buffalo Bill is perhaps my favorite.

Not too bad for Y & Z.   Anyway, that's a wrap!  I'm off this weekend to spend time reading the blog posts of other folks since I've been remiss this last week.  Enjoy your weekend!

Mina Burrows

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

A-Z: X is for eXtra Penny Dreadfuls

The letter for today for the A-Z Challenge is the letter X.  Well, this one as you can imagine is a difficult letter to source.  In order to make the most of this challenge for my readers, I decided to source more penny dreadfuls and post where everyone could find them free.  I'm using the letter X for eXtra penny dreadfuls.  Please enjoy these exceptional serials

George W. M. Reynolds' The Mysteries of London

Overview: George W. M. Reynolds' The Mysteries of London is a sprawling tableau, seeking to depict life as Reynolds saw it in mid-Victorian London and expose what he viewed as gross injustice toward the poor. He wide range of tales included a clergyman as the main character and hump-backed dwarves, harridans and grave-robbers [who] groped past against a background of workhouses, jails, execution yards, thieves' kitchens and cemeteries.

Get your Free copy here via Gutenberg.

William Harrison Ainsworth's The Lancashire Witches

The serial which was later published as a novel is based on the true story of the Pendle witches, who were executed in 1612 for causing harm by witchcraft. It is considered one of the major English novels on witchcraft.

Get your Free copy here via

William Harrison Ainsworth's Jack Sheppard

Overview: A celebrated thief is the un-worthy hero of this early dramatic romance.

Get your #Free copy of Jack Sheppard via

William Harrison Ainsworth's Auriol: The Elixir of Life 

Overview:  On the night of the 1st of March, 1800, and at a late hour, a man, wrapped in a large horseman's cloak, and of strange and sinister appearance, entered an old deserted house in the neighbourhood of Stepney-green. He was tall, carried himself very erect, and seemed in the full vigour of early manhood; but his features had a worn and ghastly look, as if bearing the stamp of long-indulged and frightful excesses, while his dark gleaming eyes gave him an expression almost diabolical.

Get your #Free copy via Amazon.

Mary Elizabeth Braddon 's Lady Audley's Secret

Lady Audley's Secret was first published as a serial in the mid 1800's.  Here is an overview of the story.  Lady Audley's Secret (1862) was one of the most widely read novels in the Victorian period. It exemplifies "sensation fiction" in featuring a beautiful criminal heroine, an amateur detective, blackmail, arson, violence, and plenty of suspenseful action. To its contemporary readers, it also offered the thrill of uncovering blackmail and criminal violence within the homes of the upper class. The novel makes trenchant critiques of Victorian gender roles and social stereotypes, and it creates significant sympathy for the heroine, despite her criminal acts, as she suffers from the injustices of the "marriage market" and rebels against them. 

Get your #Free copy via Amazon here.

Have you had a change to read any of these?  I haven't, but I can promise there are a few here I'll be adding to my TBR pile.

Have a fantastic day!

Mina Burrows

Monday, April 27, 2015

A-Z: W is for Wagner, the Wehr-Wolf

We're in the final stretch of the A-Z Challenge.  Yahoo!  The letter for today is W and I'm featuring, George Reynold's penny dreadful, Wagner, the Wehr-Wolf.   Earlier in the A-Z Challenge, I blogged about Reynolds and mentioned some of his accomplishments including Wagner, the Wehr-Wolf.  Today, I wanted to go into more detail about the penny dreadful and how important it's story was to the Gothic genre.

"Wagner, the Wehr-Wolf"

Like Varney the Vampire or Feast of Blood, Wagner, the Wehr-Wolf, is a classic piece of Gothic literature.  Aside from the pack with the devil, many werewolf characteristics we use today originated from this serial.  For example, Reynold's story was the one of the first English literature that mentions of a man transforming into a wolf-like creature.

From the back cover of Penny Dreadful Multipack Volume 1, (a book of the original penny dreadfuls with images) the series "is set in the sixteenth century and begins with a recently abandoned old man waiting in vain for his granddaughter to return and care for him as a storm rages in the ancient forest surrounding his isolated cottage. To his surprise, a stranger appears and offers him something he cannot refuse: beauty and youth. But it comes with a price as he must also suffer the curse of the werewolf. Love, violence, and intrigue are all weaved around Fernand Wagner as he struggles to balance being a human and a murderous animal. As things become more out of hand and uncontrollable, the secret he has been trying to hide may just have to come forth and be faced by all involved, including his beloved Nisida."

Where can I get a copy of Wagner, the Wehr-Wolf ?

I found my FREE copy of George Reynold's penny dreadful, Wagner, the Wehr-Wolf via Gutenberg ebooks.  Enjoy!

Have a great day!

Mina Burrows

Saturday, April 25, 2015

A-Z: U is for The Union Jack & V is for Varney the Vampire

The letters I'm posting for today is U & V for the A-Z Challenge. U is for The Union Jack and V is for Varney the Vampire or The Feast of Blood.

"The Union Jack"

The Union Jack was another half-penny dreadful created by Alfred Harmsworth in 1894.  In his quest to rid the market of penny dreadfuls, Harmsworth published serials like The Union Jack, offering readers morally cleaner stories with better writing.  In his first serial, he published an editorial statement, promising  his half-penny's featured "...No tales of boys rifling their employers' cash-boxes and making off to foreign lands, or other such highly immoral fiction products."  His strategy worked, of course, as the rise of the half-penny dreadfuls did end the penny dreadful era.  That might seem a bit depressing, but perhaps the violent trend had run it's course with the general public?  The Union Jack had a very successful run of over 35 years, hosting top characters from the penny dreadful era like Sexton Blake.  

I wasn't able to find an ecopy of this publication which seem strange.  There were a fair amount of original copies being sold online, but nothing in e-format.  Sorry. :(

"Varney the Vampire or The Feast of Blood"

Varney the Vampire; or, the Feast of Blood, was a penny dreadfrul written in 1845-47 by the duo goth writing team, James Malcolm Rymer and Thomas Preskett Prest.  The serial is about a "exploits of a deathless creature with an insatiable appetite for blood."  And like many of these goth novels, there are a band of heroes wanted to track and kill the beast.

Varney gave birth to how many of us view vampires today with key characteristics such as "fangs, leaves two puncture wounds on the necks of his victims, has hypnotic powers, and has superhuman strength"  Vampires with their brooding and self-loathing seem to be a favorite pastimes with iconic vampire literature, right?  Did you know it originated from ol' Varney.  Even though many people today aren't that familiar with him, he was the first in a long line of "sympathetic vampires."  The ones we're more familiar with are Dark Shadow's Barnabas Collins, Anne Rice's Louis de Pointe du Lac, Buffy the Vampire Slayer's Angel, and Charlaine Harris' Bill Compton.

Where can I get a copy of Varney the Vampire?

A copy of the Varney the Vampire or The Feast of Blood can be found at Gutenberg.

Wow!  We're getting close the end of A-Z.  You guys having fun yet?

Mina Burrows

Thursday, April 23, 2015

A-Z: T is for Trials

It's the A-Z Challenge challenge again and today I'm posting for the letter T.  My choice of penny dreadfuls in an interesting one.  As I mentioned, the penny dreadfuls were often written about real-life crimes and were often embellished to drive the public into a reading frenzy.  One source of these works comes from a publication called The New Newgate Calendar which published stories based on the hottest crimes and trials.  It's subtitle was Remarkable Lives of Trials of Notorious Criminals.  Past and Present.  Below is a few images of the original versions I found.


"The New Newgate Calendar - Trials"

The Newgate Calendar, the original publication started in the late 1700's as an account of notorious characters, and their infamous stories which let to their inevitable incarceration at Newgate prison.   From the Hathi Trust Digital Library, here is the The New Newgate Calendar synopsis:  "The new Newgate calendar : being interesting memoirs of notorious characters, who have been convicted of outrages on the laws of England, during the eighteenth century, brought down to the present time ... With occasional essays on crimes and punishments, original anecdotes and observations on particular cases; the speeches, confessions, and last exclamations of sufferers, to which is added a correct account of the various modes of punishment of criminals in different parts of the world / By Andrew Knapp and William Baldwin, attorneys at law."

Where can I get a copy of The New Newgate Calendar ?

Thankfully there were a a couple of versions of The New Newgate Calendar available online. I found this one, Beau Langley, Scholar and Libertine here and The Murder of Maria Marten in the Red Barn at Polstead here.

It's fascinating how the illustrations sensationalize these crimes, isn't it?  

Mina Burrows

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

A-Z: S is for Sexton Blake

Today's letter for the A-Z Challenge is S for Sexton Blake.  Like many pieces of literature, sometimes the characters outlast the stories.  Take Sherlock Holmes for instance, there have been countless detective stories created from his original character.  He's been a household name for over a century, but he's not the only one from this era.  Like Sherlock Holmes, Sexton Blake was a famous fictional detective and he was created during the penny dreadful Victorian era.  Sexton Blake was extremely popular and since then, his character has also been reinvented in numerous works.

"About Sexton Blake"

Sexton Blake first appeared in the Half Penny Marvel in 1983, a publication created by Alfred Harmsworth.  The character detective was dubbed the "poor man's Sherlock Holmes" and grew so wildly popular that the character grew into a veritable comic icon.  There were thousands of versions stemming from the original which continued well into the 1970's.  Beside penny dreadfuls, he appeared in dime novels, slicks, novels, movies, plays, radio shows, TV shows, and comic books. The first penny dreadful was called "The Missing Millionaire" and was written by Harry Blyth.  If you're interested in learning more about this fictional character, visit ReoCities and the ComicVine.  Unfortunately, there were no original copies of the penny dreadful version.  There were, however, dozens of authored variations about this character on Amazon.  

Are you familiar with this English legend?  I had heard of him, but never knew he was so popular or that he originated from the penny dreadful era.

Mina Burrows

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

A-Z Challenge: Q for FAQ & the letter R is for Risen from the Dead

The A-Z Challenge continues with the letter Q & R! For the letter Q I'm posting a few important facts and questions about penny dreadfuls. For the letter R, I'm featuring the penny dreadful, Risen from the Dead or The Medical Student.

Q is for Penny Dreadful FAQ's

There were few penny dreadfuls I could find for this letter. I did find The Divorced Queen (published in 1868) but beyond that, nothing more. In doing my research, I discovered some interesting facts about penny dreadfuls.

* Many penny dreadfuls did not last throughout time due to their poor quality paper know as cheap pulp paper.

* Its been stated repeatedly that the penny dreadfuls were low quality writing from hack writers.  Knowing how much the industry has changed in recent years, do you believe that statement is true?

* Plagiarism found a happy home during the penny dreadful years. Publisher Edward Lloyd, for example, created titles such as Oliver Twiss and Nickelas Nicklebery based on Dicken's classics. I wonder what Dickens thought about that?

"Risen from the Dead or The Medical Doctor"

Now this penny dreadful sounds wonderfully wicked,doesn't it. From the first glance, it reads like a zombie story straight out of the Victorian era.  I regret to inform you that I was unable to find anything about this serial.  Drat!  Boy did I want to read it!  Still, I enjoyed the illustration since it left much to my imagination which is why I chose to feature it. I also researched information about Boys Weekly Reader, but alas my search gave me squat.  During this era there were far too many publications using the name "Boy" which probably caused much brand confusion. Back then, there were publications such as Boys Library, The Wild Boys of London, Boys Own Paper and the list goes on... I suspect they did that on purpose to gain more readers. Think about it...competing publications could look like other best-selling penny dreadfuls, feature a similar story and header line and countless readers would probably purchase a leaflet for a penny, right? It didn't cost the reader more that a penny, right?  Right! Yeah, that's certainly a strategy.   As far as this one here, the story might not be memorable because it was a bad as the paper it was printed on. Who knows? It still looks interesting though.

That's my Q & and R.  How's everyone's week so far?

Mina Burrows

Saturday, April 18, 2015

A-Z: O is for the The Castle of Otranto & P is for The String of Pearls

The letters I'm posting for today is O & P for the A-Z Challenge. O was not easy so I decided on the The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole, published in 1784.  And for P, I've decided to feature one of my favorites, The String of Pearls.

"The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole"

Although this one is not a true penny dreadful, The Castle of Otranto, an original Gothic novel, fueled many of the great Gothic horror stories such as Dracula and Frankenstein.  In addition to these classics, it also lead to many Gothic penny dreadfuls in the 19th century.  According to the British Library, the story is about "Manfred, the prince of Otranto, who is keen to secure the castle for his descendants in the face of a mysterious curse. The novel begins with the death of Manfred’s son, Conrad, who is crushed to death by an enormous helmet on the morning of his wedding to the beautiful princess Isabella. Faced with the extinction of his line, Manfred vows to divorce his wife and marry the terrified Isabella himself."  The novel was responsible for creating some of the many Gothic horror supernatural elements we us today such as, "secret passages, clanging trapdoors, hidden identities and vulnerable heroines fleeing from men with evil intent."   

Where can I get a copy of The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole?

Get your free e-copy of The Castle of Otranto via Gutenberg.  Wahoo!  I love Free shit!

"The String of Pearls"

Edward Lloyd's The People's Periodical and Family Library, first published The String of Pearls penny dreadful serial in 1847.  The famous tale, also known as Sweeney Todd, the Barber on Fleet Street (a.k.a. The Demon Barber) had two authors linked to the writing, James Malcolm Rymer and Thomas Peckett Prest.  For those that aren't familiar with the Demon Barber's story, its about a bitter barber who slits the throats of his patrons and robs them of their personal property.  The remains of the dead customers are then put into a pie by Margery Lovett as depicted in the illustrations below.  The story is a love story and is quite more involved than that description I gave you.  I've read the book and reviewed it here and also had the chance to see Tim Burton's musical version featuring Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, and Alan Rickman.  I found both the original penny dreadful and the movie exceptional!

Where can I get a copy of The String of Pearls?

A copy of the The String of Pearls can be found at ManyBooks here.

Have you had a chance to read either one of these creepy classics?  I haven't read The Castle of Otranto yet, but it's on my must-read TBR list!

Mina Burrows