Category Archives: #amreading

READ BOOKS ALL DAY & GET PAID FOR IT

Thanks to the rise of self publishing, there is a fresh gig opportunity. Chances are that if you are an editor, you are already doing it. It’s called book coaching and it’s a holistic approach to publishing that covers the entire process from edits and content organization to agents.

I came across this idea sometime in the summer through the Author Accelerator accreditation program so of course I bought the book: Read Books All Day & Get Paid For It by Jennie Nash.

This is one of those texts that I have on Kindle and paperback, I enrolled in the class and if there was a T-shirt, I would buy it. An excellent book for the writerly inclined that addresses the business end of book coaching. Jennie covers the tough topics like setting a price, putting value on your time, scheduling, contracts… I think you could probably start a well organized coaching business from just reading this book.

Jennie’s approach to the topic is warm and professional. There is a lot of information packed in the book but no where did I feel overwhelmed by dry details. Her voice is engaging, informative and helpful. There is enough here to benefit anyone in the writing industry with services, but it is specifically addressing those that want to be accredited as trained book coaches in fiction and/or nonfiction with opportunities to specialize in a niche like memoirs.

I am in the course right now in the nonfiction tract and I will probably include the memoir specialization. I decided to take this course because story and book coaching is what I spend a good deal of my time doing anyways, just for free. Unfortunately, that started eclipsing my own writing so my big interest in taking this course is learning to manage a business, set boundaries and streamline the process. I’m 15% through the class and I know I made the right choice.

If you are thinking you might like to get serious and organized about your own author services, I highly recommend this book. If you think you might like to be a book coach, definitely read it so you know all that’s involved. You can find Read Books All Day & Get Paid For It by Jennie Nash on Amazon here. If you’re interested in looking at the Author Accelerator program, you can find that here.

*I paid for all copies of the book out of my own pocket to review. Book links may be affiliate links.

SAVAGEPLANETS ISSUE 3 IS LIVE

Congratulations to the SavagePlanets team for their third issue! There’s a lot to read, including my poem “The Nukekubi” from Tortured Willows and an all new story I wrote titled “Destroy With Love.” To access the magazine, create an account at savageplanets.com and find all three issues to read for free.

#3 October 2021

Win a copy of MONSTRUM POETICA by Jezzy Wolfe with a signed bookplate. Winner will be drawn live on Halloween and posted here. 

To enter, simply leave a comment for Jezzy here.

HORROR WRITERS: ARCHITECTS OF HOPE

Thank you to Siren’s Call for choosing me as their featured writer in the coveted Halloween issue! My piece on page 177 is about how science has verified what most of us have known all along—horror can save our mental health. Best part of all is that my essay, “Horror Writers: Architects of Hope” is available to read for free right here.

Besides my essay, there is “Mochi and Umeboshi” a chapter of Bitter Suites to read and 143 other pieces of dark fiction and horror in the form of short stories, flash fiction, and dark poetry! All FREE!

Looking to submit work of your own? Siren’s Call is open for submissions right now. Details on that here.


Win a copy of MONSTRUM POETICA by Jezzy Wolfe with a signed bookplate. Winner will be drawn live on Halloween and posted here. To enter, simply leave a comment for Jezzy here.

REVIEW: MONSTRUM POETICA + GIVEAWAY

Looking for some dark edification? Look no further than MONSTRUM POETICA by Jezzy Wolfe. Published from Raw Dog Screaming Press, this is a poetic primer about monsters across cultures. Jezzy takes the reader on a well-researched tour of some of the creepiest and most horrifying things to crawl across the page. It’s poetry, read to be savored but I was also educated by learning about some myths I’d never heard of.

Black-eyed children is one of my favorite sections. A relatively new monster, this is my first introduction to them. Melon heads are another new-to-me creature with plenty to learn about. Classic monsters such as vampires and werewolves are explored alongside American continent nightmares like the mothman.

This is a poetry collection you will want to dip into repeatedly. Aside from the impressive collection of monsters to explore, there is the poetry. I feel like the forms must have been picked to reflect the subject. A good example of this is “Road Hazard,” a chain of linked haiku that explores yokai. In the concrete/shape poem “Dog Deadly,” Jezzy mimics the loping run of a hunting canine across the page, heightening the reader’s experience.

A beautiful collection in every way from the quality of the poems to the stunning presentation from Raw Dog, this is a book I will return to when I need something to savor. I highly recommend MONSTRUM POETICA, and I look forward to seeing more from this poet.

You can find MONSTRUM POETICA on Amazon here or see if you are the lucky winner of a copy with a bookplate signed by Jezzy Wolfe. Just leave a comment on this post and I’ll draw a name randomly next Halloween and get this book sent to you. With all the shipping issues, I am going to limit this one to the Continental US so it will actually arrive.

Want to hear Jezzy read from MONSTRUM POETICA? She was on LIT UP a few weeks ago, so wish granted.

ONE WEEK OF TORTURED WILLOWS: REVIEWS

I don’t know if I have ever had so many reviews on a one week old book as we have on Tortured Willows right now… and such reviews. My head is spinning from all the responses but not just “great poetry” or “spooky reading.” The responses have been conversations.

The theme of all these reviews seems to be connection. Readers say they understand it more about Asian culture, or empathy because they’ve felt the same things. Some have discovered new things, concepts, perspectives. All have been flattering. That is why we wrote this collection. Thank you for all reviews, every word of feedback. To quote Elizabeth Miki Brina in Speak, Okinawa, we “feel seen, rather than exposed.” That is worth everything.

Tortured Willows for ebook should be available within 24 hours. Here are just a few of the reviews that have been filling the inbox.

Thank you Nat Whiston Reviews!

More TORTURED WILLOWS Reviews


Tortured Willows, Skydiving, and the Magic of Poetry.
Geneve Flynn in a Guest Post on Stephanie Wytovich’s blog Join Me in the Madhouse.

The Horror Tree Blog Tour
Lee Murray — Cheongsam
Geneve Flynn –When The Girls Began to Fall

Epeolatry Book Reviews: Tortured Willows: Bent. Bowed. Unbroken

3 POETRY CRAFT BOOKS TO LOVE

Happy National Poetry Day! In the US, this is the day we celebrate all forms of poetry—the perfect opportunity to share some of my recent favorites. All three are by Edward Hirsch, and I have the Cake & Hyperbull show to blame for that. Co-hostess Amy Zoellers and I have started a challenge each show where we pick a random form out what has become one of my favorites, but it’s $160 for the hardback and $17 for the Kindle version. I sprung for the ebook. So my number one favorite poetry craft book as of today is…

A Poet’s Glossary by Edward Hirsch And here’s why (from Amazon): “Hirsch has delved deeply into the poetic traditions of the world, returning with an inclusive, international compendium. Moving gracefully from the bards of ancient Greece to the revolutionaries of Latin America, from small formal elements to large mysteries, he provides thoughtful definitions for the most important lyrical vocabulary… shot through with the enthusiasm, authority, and sheer delight that made How to Read a Poem so beloved, A Poet’s Glossary is a new classic.” At $160 —$17 for an ebook—if you ever see this in a used bookshop, grab it. You can read more about it on Amazon here.

Which brings me to why this second book is a new favorite, even though I just ordered it. The Essential Poet’s Glossary by Edward Hirsch! Yes! When I went to Amazon today to drool over the expensive original, I found this new version published for a very affordable $9.99. Thank you, Mr. Hirsch—for the good of poetry-kind!

From Amazon: When Edward Hirsch’s A Poet’s Glossary was first published in 2014, it was hailed as “an instant classic that belongs on the bookshelf of every serious poet and literature student.” Now Hirsch selects the most important material from that extraordinary volume for The Essential Poet’s Glossary (The Washington Post)… knowing how a poem works is crucial to unlocking its meaning—entries will deepen readers’ relationships with their favorite poems and open greater levels of understanding in each new poem they encounter.” Read more about it on Amazon here.

And because I tend to go on tangents, my final favorite lately is also by Hirsch: How to Read a Poem: And Fall in Love with Poetry. I’ve been going through this one slowly with the intent to write a review for next National Poetry Month (April 2022). I bought it because I really wanted a hard copy of The Poet’s Glossary, but $160. This was my consolation book. I haven’t gotten far into it, but I can see why Hirsch can command high prices. I look forward to sharing the review.

From Amazon: “Read a poem to yourself in the middle of the night. Turn on a single lamp and read it while you’re alone in an otherwise dark room or while someone sleeps next to you. Say it over to yourself in a place where silence reigns and the din of culture—the constant buzzing noise that surrounds you—has momentarily stopped. This poem has come from a great distance to find you.” So begins this astonishing book… a masterful work by a master poet, this brilliant summation of poetry and human nature will speak to all readers who long to place poetry in their lives but don’t know how to read it.” Read more about it on Amazon here.

Those are the three poetry books I’ve been obsessed with lately. Have you read any books by Hirsch? I haven’t read any of his actual poetry books yet, but I think I need to. If him discussing poetry is this good, I can only imagine how fantastic his poetry is. I just hope they aren’t all $160. That would really Hirsch. 😂

BOOKMAIL: ANCIENT GIRL BOW GIFT

Happy October! I love sharing my book mail. It’s nerd show-and-tell. This week I have the final books I ordered on Okinawa and Uchinanchu culture. My book budget is busted and I have a lot to get through. I didn’t get a chance to stop by the library this week, but I know they have some waiting for me. Good thing the library is free. By the way, these are affiliate links which go towards Amazon gift cards… and more books!

The first book this week is The Girl with the White Flag by Tomiko Higa. As of today, this book has 138 ratings with a solid 4.8 out of 5 stars on Amazon. I think this will be another read all day and cray book, so I’ll probably wait until after I get the last of my big projects wrapped up.

From Amazon: New York Newsday called this memoir of a warhood childhood in Japan “one of the saddest and yet most uplifting books about childhood you will ever encounter.” Separated from her family in the confusion and horror of World War II, seven-year-old Tomiko Higa struggles to survive on the battlefield of Okinawa, Japan. There, as some of the fiercest fighting of the war rages around her, she must live alone, with nothing to fall back on but her own wits and daring. Fleeing from encroaching enemy forces, searching desperately for her lost sisters, taking scraps of food from the knapsacks of dead soldiers, risking death at every turn, Tomiko somehow finds the strength and courage to survive. Many years later she decided to tell this story. Originally intended for juvenile readers, it is sure to move adults as well, because it is such a vivid portrait of the unintended civilian casualties of any war. Find this book on Amazon here.

Next was The Catalpa Bow: A Study of Shamanistic Practices in Japan by Carmen Blacker and, if you read my post from yesterday, it’s already been an exciting read. I didn’t expect to find information about poetry, magic practices and haiku with a random flip through, but there it was. If the first five minute browse is that exciting, I’m interested to see what else is in this book.

From Google Books: This classic work describes shamanic figures surviving in Japan today, their initiatory dreams, ascetic practices, the supernatural beings with whom they communicate, and the geography of the other world in myth and legend. Find this book on Amazon here.

My third book of the week was Ancient Ryukyu: An Archaeological Study of Island Communities by Richard Pearson, and you can probably see why I need to slow down on my book collecting. Some of these are going to take me awhile to chew through.

From Amazon: Who are the people of the Ryukyu Islands? How could they survive and prosper on small, isolated islands? How did the independent Ryukyu Kingdom become a major player in East Asian medieval trade? Ancient Ryukyu explores 30,000 years of human occupation in the Ryukyu Islands, from the earliest human presence in the region up to A.D. 1609 and the emergence of the Ryukyu Kingdom. It focuses on the unique geopolitical position of the islands, their environment, and the many human communities whose historical activities can be discerned. Drawing on the impressive work of dozens of local archaeologists who have brought the islands’ early history to life, Richard Pearson describes explorers and sojourners and colonists who arrived thousands of years ago, and their ancient trade links to Japan, Korea, and China… Find this book on Amazon here.

Finally, I have GIFT OF A BLUE BALL: Path of a Fortune-teller in Okinawa by Jeff Tuthill. I’m actually trying to reach out to this author to see about republishing with some revising and edits. This book hasn’t gotten the best reviews, but as I paged through I can see there is a lot of solid work here. My guess is that this book needs to be a nonfiction instead of fiction. I’ll let you know when I finish reading it. If anyone knows a good way to contact authors that self-publish without web pages or active social media, please let me know. I’m hunting for at least two of them.

From Amazon: This is a historical fiction following the life of a yuta (fortune teller) in Okinawa from childhood to her death at age ninety. Kameko witnesses the horrors of war as a twelve year old in the Battle of Okinawa and survives into womanhood to locate the thief of the Royal Ryukyu headdress and reclaim the national treasure. By using her gift of sight and ability to communicate with the spiritual world, Kameko attempts to recover the crown, a promise that she makes her mother’s spirit. The reader will discover the meaning behind the gift of the blue ball and the path of a yuta in Okinawa. A story of people interacting with ghosts demonstrating how fate is influenced by both the physical and spiritual world. Although a fantasy, the novel consists of a good deal of research on Okinawan culture and belief systems, including ancestor worship. The result is both entertaining and informative for the reader, using accurate descriptions of historical events as the background for a ghostly and mysterious tale. Find this book on Amazon here.

And that’s it for this week. Thanks for all the responses! While most of what I share I’ve either purchased or contributed to, I’m happy to share any book in a group post like this, but I can’t guarantee I’ll review anything specific. I do pass on books I’ve read to Space & Time reviewers and interested others whenever possible.

Any mail can be sent to:

Angela Yuriko Smith
P.O. Box 214
Independence, MO 64050

Book Mail from September 4-30

POETRY MAGIC… OR MAGICK?

One of the books I’ve recently picked up is The Catalpa Bow: A Study of Shamanistic Practices in Japan by Carmen Blacker. While I’m not crazy about the word shaman, and Blacker seems to lump Okinawa in as being the same as Japan, there’s a lot of meat to chew through here. I just thought I’d share an exciting morsel I read today on poetry, magic practices and haiku…

When interviewing Nakayama Tarō about the language of the gods, Blacker says, “Nakayama points out, we can detect in the god’s speech the metre which from the earliest times has been fundamental to Japanese poetry, a metre of alternating seven and five syllables… Japanese poetry began as the utterances of a shaman in a trance. Its metre and poetic devices are not the work of man, but revealed from a divine source.”

“A metre of alternating seven and five syllables” is pretty much haiku. Without getting into a discussion of what is and isn’t haiku (excellent post on this btw: HAIKU: A WHOLE LOT MORE THAN 5-7-5) the point: In Japan, poetry began as utterances of magic in a 5-7-5 meter—haiku.

Why does it matter to me? Because I write in linked haiku—even the canzonet I’ll be reading this coming Saturday for Cake & Hyperbull I wrote in a 5-7-5 meter. I like the challenge of staying within the syllabic structure and choose to work within those boundaries. That’s what sounds/feels right to me. It was very cool to read that haiku began as shamanic utterances… but it’s no surprise revelation.

Poetry has been in the realm of magical utterance in many (if not all) cultures. Far before “Boil, boil, toil and trouble…” became a thing, humans have exhibited a natural appreciation and awe of the poet as conjurer. Witches and warriors alike have sensed the power of the poem to create change. Poetry is magic. Magic is power. Poetry is power.

It’s just nice to see a scholarly work say so.

FURTHER READING:

The Catalpa Bow: A Study of Shamanistic Practices in Japan (3rd ed.) by Carmen Blacker (Sept. 15, 1999) affiliate link

how to write powerful poetry spells” by Lisa Marie Basile, Luna Luna (Feb. 28, 2021)

Poetry and Magic” by S. Musgrove, The Australian Quarterly Vol. 18, No. 1 (Mar., 1946)

Poetry, Like Witchcraft and Magick, is an Act of Transformation” by Janaka Stucky, Literary Hub, (May 3, 2019)

Page 112, The Catalpa Bow: A Study of Shamanistic Practices in Japan
by Carmen Blacker

BRIANT LASLO AUTUMN IRON WRITER CHAMP

Congratulations to Briant Laslo for winning the Iron Writer Autumn Quarterlies with his flash story “Vibrancy.” Briant moves on to compete for the year title in June 2022. He won his first competition in July with “The Descent.” Today, meet Briant Laslo:

First off, congratulations Briant! I think you have competed in every competition we’ve had from the beginning, so I’m really happy to see you qualify for the year competition next year. This means we will be seeing more of you in the future. Can you please tell us about yourself as a person and a writer?

Briant Laslo

BRIANT LASLO: Well, I’m a bit of an anomaly. I was born with a form of muscular dystrophy and I’ve been in a wheelchair since I was two years old. My parents were originally told I would be lucky if I made it until I was five, I just turned 50 this past July. And, the only medicine I am on is a minor blood pressure medicine, so, no difficulties breathing, talking or anything else. When I turned 18 or so, my doctors LITERALLY said “okay, we give up, we don’t know how long he is going to live, just like anybody else.” I’ve kind of embraced that way of thinking my entire life. I never want to end my life wondering “what if I had…” None of us know how much time we have left in this reality, so we all need to enjoy as much as we can. And writing is a part of that for me. Whether it’s something dark, or funny, or outright adventurous, it’s a great outlet for me to create something that, on the one hand, just gets it out of me, and on the other creates something that people can, hopefully, enjoy.

Wow! That is such a fantastic origin story! From my point of view, I think you are really lucky to be aware of the immediacy of existence and I can see it in the flash fictions you’ve posted at ironwriters.com. When did you first know you were a writer? Where has your writing taken you? 

BRIANT LASLO: You know, I still struggle a bit identifying as “a writer”. I think it’s more that I associate “writer” with a profession, and I have not as of yet attained the level where I can treat writing as my profession. Although, that is certainly the dream. My best life would be being able to sustain myself with my writing. I’ve always considered myself a storyteller though. Ever since I started playing Dungeons & Dragons when I was just eight years old, I was always the storyteller, the Dungeon Master. At social gatherings I’m always ready to retell stories that actually happened in my past, or create brand-new tales just to get people talking and interacting. It’s only in the last three or four years that I started trying to focus a bit more on getting my writings out to a wider audience. It’s taken me to a couple of conventions, I learned more about the Civil War than I ever knew before from researching a steam punk story I was writing, small journeys like that. 

I think every artist struggles with that imposter syndrome at some point in their life. I know I do. An unfortunate fact is that many great writers never reached the point of supporting themselves with their work. I think you have definitely earned the right to identify as a writer. Aside from the ability to crush self-doubt, what do you think are some of the most important skills for a writer to have? 

BRIANT LASLO: I think that creativity is obviously the most important. Doesn’t matter if you are creating a home from scratch or researching some actual historical event, if you can’t be creative with it then it’s not going to interest anybody. Whether it’s creatively describing the scenario, the times, the lay of the land, or coming up with a whole new plot twist that nobody saw coming but still makes perfect sense, it’s all about creativity. And then I think that being able to go with the flow is extremely important. For me anyway, a story takes on its own life. It doesn’t necessarily go exactly the way you thought it was going to go at the beginning, or even necessarily finish exactly the way that you thought it would. Characters start to breathe and make their own decisions, and there comes a point where you think about what you wanted your character to do next and you realize “there’s no way she would do that!” Well, when that happens, you can’t force the character, you have to be true to that character and see where it takes you. Which, I suppose, kind of leads back to creativity.

I love it when the characters in a story start to do their own thing. It’s the one time when we, as creators, get to be surprised. Maybe that’s why so many deities choose to serve time as mortals—it’s nice not knowing what happens every minute. How about you—what is your most important and treasured moment as a writer. How about as a human?

BRIANT LASLO: Well, as I mentioned earlier, I feel like I’m still pretty much in the infancy of “being a writer”. I think that as of right now, possibly my most treasured moment was attending my first World Fantasy Convention, which was the 44th annual in Baltimore. Being able to hang out with so many different people, both established and aspiring authors was fantastic. I remember having a late night conversation in a group that included Scott Edelman, and people were just talking about who they were. When it came my time, I mentioned that I just had my first short story published, an alternate telling of Cinderella. And, the way that a number of the other aspiring authors reacted saying “well geez, that’s more than I’ve had, I don’t have anything published yet other than self-publishing!” And Scott Edelman congratulating me on the good work of getting something published really felt great.

As a human, it would be meeting my best friend Karen. We met back in 1993 on a now defunct early social media network called Quantum Link. She was living up in Salem, Massachusetts. I was in a small town called Johnstown, Pennsylvania (look it up, floods kill everybody about every 40 years) and we hit it off. We now live together in Pittsburgh and she helps me with everything that my muscular dystrophy makes it more difficult for me to do. From getting in and out of bed, to eating, to traveling. She is without question the sole reason I am still alive at 50 AND happy to be alive.

I think some of my most treasured moments have happened at writer conventions as well. There is nothing quite as empowering as being in a group like-minded people. Finding your best friend is also up there. Where do you hope your writing will lead you in the future? 

BRIANT LASLO: As I mentioned earlier, being able to sustain myself as a writer is the dream. The bigger dream would be being able to sustain my immediate circle so they didn’t have to have regular, mundane jobs either. But, beyond that, would just love to be able to bring some kind of escape to more people. Whether it’s a 10 minute flash fiction story that somebody can read during their lunch break, or a 300 page fantasy epic that they can enjoy over a few nights. Would love to be able to make more conventions as well, I enjoy the interaction with a bunch of creative minds.

I hope to see you at some conventions! I plan to physically attend StokerCon and Necon next year. Personally, I hope virtual conventions become a staple that continue long past the pandemic. I’ve enjoyed getting to attend a lot more this last year. Can you share what you have coming up, and where we can find you?

BRIANT LASLO: I’m working on three separate stories right now that I hope I’m able to develop into full-length novels. I’m working on a shorter comedy idea that’s coming in at around 60,000 words. A real-world introspective serial killer story that’s more of your typical book length, looking at about 80,000 words. And then lastly, a friend of mine and I have worked on a fantasy novel, the first of a trilogy, for many many years. The actual writing of it is complete and coming in as a big one, around 120,000 words. I hope to someday be in a position where I can spend the time needed to tighten it up, streamline it and find a home for it. You can find me online at amazon.com/author/briantlaslo and on Facebook at facebook.com/Briant.S.Laslo.

Biography: Briant Laslo has been defying the odds for a long time. Born with a form of Muscular Dystrophy, his parents were told he would be dead before he was five years old. He turned five in 1977 and is still going strong. Despite the wheelchair and extremely limited use of his arms, he has driven across the country four separate times with his friend and believes in experiencing as much of this life as possible. Having spent the last 15 years working in the world of Social Media, building relationships between Fortune 1000 companies and their members, Briant has seen the impact a good story can make. An avid reader, he now is beginning his journey in the world of writing, seeking to bring his creations and stories to a larger audience.

BOOK MAIL: GREAT DEVIL SHADOW SHAVES

Book mail this week was a nice combination of gift, contributor copy and library to balance all my recent purchases. I have bought way too many books this last month and all I can say is I am really lucky to be married to a man who doesn’t begrudge me my book piles. By the way, these are affiliate links which go towards Amazon gift cards… and more books!

One of these can be yours…

First, Giving the Devil His Due: Special Edition edited by Rebecca Brewer. I was so excited to find this in my mailbox. I have a story included titled “Just Us” and I’ve been really excited to read the rest. This is a special edition as well. This cover will only be available for a limited time and it’s already been sold out once. I’m signing 16 limited edition bookplates (pictured) for a fundraiser you can find out about here. But on to the actual beautiful book which I finally hold in my hands…

From Amazon: In Giving the Devil His Due, the Pixel Project’s first charity anthology, sixteen acclaimed fantasy, science fiction, and horror authors take readers on an unforgettable journey to alternative worlds where men who abuse and murder women and girls meet their comeuppance in uncanny ways… stories that will make you think about the importance of justice for the victims of gender-based violence, how rare this justice is in our own world, and why we need to end violence against women once and for all. You can find this book on Amazon here.

Next, a gift from my mom sent from the recent (virtual) Okinawa Hawaii Festival: A Chilling Tale of Shave Ice by Glen Grant. I’m excited to read and review this one. The illustrations really appeal to me and there’s a glossary of Hawaiian, Japanese, Chinese and Pidgen words in the back.

From Amazon: A Chilling Tale of Shave Ice is a poignant tale of the widow Mrs. Sugihara and her teeenage son who run a small store in a sugar plantation village on the island of Hawai’i in 1937. When the neighborhood stories of strange hauntings in the near-by Japanese language school reach the ears of Mrs. Sugihara, her fertile imagination concocts a supernatural plot which will soon have the entire village waiting for the return of the spirits of the dead. As they wait for an encounter with a ghost, the villagers spend the night telling ghost stories which capture the multicultural lore of the Hawaiian Islands. When the ghost of the Japanese language school fails to appear, Mrs. Sugihara then attempts to resurrect the dead, a turn of events which will spell disaster for the village and the Sugihara Store. You can find this book on Amazon here.

To follow that, more ghosts! This one I purchased myself. The Shadow Book of Ji Yun: The Chinese Classic of Weird True Tales, Horror Stories, and Occult Knowledge by Yun Ji has been on my list for awhile and I’m very excited to crack this open. “Weird, horror and occult” are three of my favorite qualities in a book.

From Amazon: Imagine if H.P. Lovecraft were Chinese and his tales were true. Or if a national, political figure like Benjamin Franklin was also a paranormal investigator—one who wrote up his investigations with a chilling, story-telling flair that reads like a combination of Italo Calvino, Lafcadio Hearn, and Zhuangzi. In China, at roughly the same time that Franklin was filling the sky with electrified kites, a figure existed who was a little bit of both these things. He was Special Advisor to the emperor of China, Imperial Librarian, and one of the most celebrated scholars and poets of his time. His name was Ji Yun.

Beginning in 1789, Ji Yun published five volumes of weird tales and ghost stories that combined supernatural autobiographical accounts with early speculative fictions. Combining insights into Chinese magic and metaphysics with tales of cannibal villages, sentient fogs, alien encounters, and fox spirits; as well as accounts of soul swapping, haunted cities, and the “jiangshi” (the Chinese vampire), there is no literary work quite like that of Ji Yun.  You can find this book on Amazon here.

Last on the list, you might notice a theme. All from the library, I have loaded up on variations of the classic The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. In all, I grabbed two graphic novels, a movie and the book. What’s with my sudden Gatsby obsession? I have a friend who plans on writing something along these lines… but no more on that. It’s also a good opportunity to read a great piece of literature I somehow missed growing up. While I got mine at the library for free, you can find a big selection of The Great Gatsby, books and movies, on Amazon here.

And that’s it for this week. Thanks for all the responses! While most of what I share I’ve either purchased or contributed to, I’m happy to share in a group post like this, but I can’t guarantee I’ll review anything specific. I do pass on books I’ve read to Space & Time reviewers and interested others whenever possible.

Any mail can be sent to:

Angela Yuriko Smith
P.O. Box 214
Independence, MO 64050