Join Us in Hoboken for a Haunted Titanic!

Press Release 03/30/2018
Explore a Haunted Titanic
On the 106th anniversary of its sinking, Titanic’s ghosts still haunt us
Saturday April 14, 4-5pm Symposia Bookstore
510 Washington St. Hoboken, NJ

Over a century after plunging into the icy waters of the
Atlantic, the Titanic still haunts our collective memory. In 2017 Bearport Publishing invited NJ author E. Merwin to research and write ghost stories for its best-selling series. Having always viewed ghosts as the stuff of fiction, she was puzzled—however, she took a plunge into the supernatural, penning eight spooky books for young readers. Join Eileen as she shares her experiences
writing for Bearport, as well as some verifiable ghost
stories from A Haunted Titanic.
Author of fantasy, fable and narrative non-fiction for kids, E. Merwin has won numerous awards, including the Next Generation New Indie Award in 2017 for regional fiction.

Seating is limited, so please RSVP below!

 

 

 

ASA Student Gallery

Here are some creative samples of our English Comp 1 students’ writing. Please take a moment to comment–all writers enjoy feedback!

The first is a poem by Yolanda Core. One Sunday, somewhat spontaneously, our 9 a.m. class trekked uptown to the MET where the assignment was to walk through the galleries until an artwork reached out, pulled you in– then simply to listen.

Given the poem’s unique structure, the reader can feel this woman’s isolation, perhaps hear the wind outside the cottage, and sense the hope of a guest arriving to share this meal.

 

 

 

PEASANT WOMAN COOKING BY A FIREPLACE

As I sit on my stool,                                                                                          Thoughtless nights far from sight,                                                                                  As the days go by I try to survive,                                                                                  And no one around to talk to at night,                                                                    While making a fire close to midnight,                                                                          Cooking my meal in this gleaming night,                                                                  Cooking my meal to share this night,                                                                          thinking of someone soon to pass by,                                                                              But I’m still alone wondering why,                                                                              Still lonely and weary I will survive,                                                                                I know someday this night will end,                                                                            And I will no longer be depressed,                                                                                So as I continue to breathe  this air,                                                                              I will not fall, I will not break,                                                                                        It will be another day I sit in my shed,                                                                            a peaceful mind day by day,                                                                                      trying to survive so it will never end,                                                                        Back on my stool I sit again.

 

In the following literary analysis of “The Cask of Amontillado” by Edgar Alan Poe, Anna Hajdo, draws some disturbing connections to own dark times. Looking at the drama of international politics, she compares the cunning of Montressor to Putin, and guess who plays the hapless Fortunato…

Keep your friends close and enemies closer. This powerful philosophy is a great tool to trick others, especially when held by a determined individual. Deception is a smart, yet unfair way to gain various advantages in life, such as money, power or revenge. The world of politics, great finances and marketing is based on playing, tricking others. Daily news and headlines bring various examples of the top public figures and institutions being deceived all the time. That brings to mind “The Cast of Amontillado”, a memorable story of two people, who seemingly were friends, but turned out to be the worst enemies. Following the news on a daily basis, I am truly concerned that this is also the case on the international political scene nowadays. The world leaders use the language of flattery to manipulate one another and poison each other’s minds. A perfect example of such would be the relationship between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin. Sadly, the latter seems to be more cunning. Thus, the current American president resembles Fortunato and the Russian leader brings to mind Montresor.

The analogy between the two mentioned politicians and the characters of “The Cask of Amontillado” can be found at the very beginning, in their background. While Fortunato is a member of a rich and well-respected family with traditions, Montresor suffers financial difficulties and humiliation. Likewise, Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin come from very distinctive environments. The former is a privileged man from a rich family, which helped him start his career as a wealthy businessman. Like Fortunato, he was raised in comfort and safety, which made him not realize many difficulties that ordinary people face. Everything was handled to him. Thus, he might very often not be aware of how desperate and determined people can be. On the other hand, Vladimir Putin was born to an ordinary family and raised in rough conditions of the Soviet Union. He had to fight his way to the top. He knows the costs of being in power and he will do everything to maintain it. Not only that, he wants to lead his country to becoming an empire again and it seems like nothing can stop him. Despite its enormous size and undeniable influence on the international political scene, Russia still faces poverty and hardships that are unfamiliar to the people of the United States. Likewise, Montresor’s family lost the greatness it once had, which hurt his ego so badly that he would do everything to defend his honor. Human’s desperation is a much greater power than money.

The resemblance between the country leaders and Poe’s characters goes further and it reveals itself in their personalities. Both sets of characters contain a loud, arrogant extravert and a silent, patient introvert with a hidden agenda. We meet Fortunato during a carnival celebration, when he is wearing a motley and drinks quite amounts of wine. He is enjoying his time, dancing to lively, loud music among people he considers his friends, unaware. Likewise, we meet Donald Trump as a politician during the election campaign, which can be easily compared to the carnival season. He is also wearing a costume, his oversized suit crowned with the red, power tie. He is a showman, who loves to appear in the media and to be praised by mobs. He is arrogant and self-confident, yet seems to be blinded by his self-love and drunk on flatter. On the other end of the spectrum, there is Vladimir Putin, a silent, lurking bear of the East. He carefully weighs his words whenever he speaks in public and he does not seem to be appealed by the media at all. He is discrete and focused. That brings to mind Montresor, who stays in the shadow and silently follows his mysterious agenda. Likewise, he does not wear a costume and stays serious despite his smile. Like Sun Tzu once wrote in “The Art of War”: “Appear weak when you are strong, and strong when you are weak.”

Finally, the most terrifying resemblance of the Trump-Putin relations to the ones from “The Cask of Amontillado” is the plot of events. The hidden agenda to compromise the opponent seems to be the underlying theme of both stories. Like Montresor used the rare wine to lure Fortunato into a trap, Putin does the same by using Trump’s biggest weakness, his hunger for flatter. Finding someone’s desire is the best way to manipulate the person. Montresor knew it well. “He had a weak point- this Fortunato- […] He prided himself on his connoisseurship in wine”, he said. Likewise, Vladimir Putin seems to pour Donald Trump the wine he loves the most and the latter seems to be dizzy already. “He is a very colorful person, talented, without any doubt.” he said about Trump. The American president seems to be very pleased with all the compliments he receives from the Eastern leader. One of his public statements about Putin proves it perfectly: “I think he said some really nice things. He called me a genius.” Putin seems to know how to manipulate Trump to make him happy as a child, but I am not so sure if the opposite situation would be the case as well.

The analogy of Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin to Poe’s characters is symbolic, yet seems very accurate. One man seems to have a leverage over the other by knowing what his wine is. That kind of knowledge can be deadly, like the events of “The Cask of Amontillado” show. People in power especially should be aware of it as the consequences of their actions may affect millions of others. Putin lures Trump with flatter and promises of a fruitful cooperation. At this point Donald Trump has already entered the catacombs and tried some wine. How far he will follow Putin in the tangle of the dark corridors, we will see. Let’s hope the end of this story is less bleak than the one of “The Cask of Amontillado”.

The following is work of flash fiction by Luz Ramos that conveys a contemporary tale of entrapment and self-realization– all in about 400 words. Well-done, Luz.

It was a beautiful Saturday in May.  The birds were chirping.  She could smell the flowers blooming.  Here she was, standing in front of the church with her son, waiting for her husband to park.  It was her son’s big day, he was getting baptized.  Her husband finally arrived in his suit, handsome as always.  They went inside with the rest of the family.  The ceremony was beautiful and her son look so cute in his white suit.  They proceeded to the usual shin-ding, a reason for free food and drinks.  She was her usual self, serving and making everyone have a great time.  She look around while everyone was eating and drinking, different conversations, carrying on, which she wasn’t part of.  She didn’t fit in.  This wasn’t her home.  She felt like the maid but in a beautiful dress.  And there it was! She heard her voice, from across the room, her sarcastic laughter.  Her son’s grandmother.  Her mother-in-law.  God’s gift to earth, better said, God’s cruel joke to her.  Sweetie!, can you bring us more drinks?  She was  so oblivious.  God! Did she not know she was the daughter-in-law, her grandson’s mother.  Not the damn maid!  She was something else.  With her usual smile she approached her, of course, Margie, anything else? No darling, that will be all for now.  Under her breath she mumbled, you should be more sociable, darling.  That darling! was like a knife to her stomach.  What more did she want, with anger inside her, she smiled and apologized.  I’ll get those drinks. She walked away.  She went to her room to freshen-up.  She had her son in her arms.  As she looked in the mirror her son said, mommy are you ok?  Yes, sweetheart. She gave him a kiss.  He was her only reason.  She had a plan and she was going to see it through.  She looked around one last time with a smile, knowing, there was nothing there she would miss.  She joined the party again.  She saw her brother across the room, one look, he knew it was time.  She spotted her husband and approached him. Excuse me. sweetheart, can I have a word with you?  He smiled at her, in a sarcastic way.  She looked into his eyes and told him, we’re leaving.  I don’t want any problems or a scene, my brother has our bags and he’s taking us to the airport.  I’ll call you. 

Haunted…for Real?

Thanks to all who attended our Book Bogglers presentation, Haunted for Real: In Search of the Verifiable Ghost Story.  It was a pleasure to share my dilemma as a writer to create narrative “nonfiction(!)” spooky books for my publisher Bearport’s series for young readers. Faced with the question of how to verify a ghost story, I soon figured out that the emphasis was not on ghost in ghost story, but on story–and that the great fun in writing Dark Underground Deserted Cities was discovering the history– so often weirder and more oddly coincidental than the sightings of spirits, attached to these events.

Special thanks to Prof. Brooke Stowe, Library Director at ASA College, for sharing his expertise not only in research, but also on Fala, the phantom dog said to haunt the long abandoned station below Grand Central Station, Track 61. (Google it!)

After presenting Haunted for Real, I was delighted by the many stranger-than-life stories many of you shared.

So delighted, that I’d like to start cooking up a kind of Paranormal Soup for the Soul series, recounting our own unexplainable events. If you’ve witnessed, survived or been told by a reliable source of a paranormal event, please click comment and tell your story!

From Aesop On…

Thanks to all for your time, talent and insights as we read and discussed great works of literature–ranging from the legendary Aesop to August Wilson. Special thanks to Aminata, who confirmed that indeed the tales of Aesop, whose name translated in ancient Greek as the Ethiopian, are alive and well in Senegal where her own grandmother told her the tale of the lion and lamb–as the hyena and the gazelle. As we discovered, Aesop’s fables placed the African oral tradition as the cornerstone of western fiction. (And of course, to those of you who read Piccolo: an Artist’s Tale thanks on behalf of my pup, Piccolo.)

If you ordered review copies of any of our Book Bogglers’ titles, they’re on the way. And for those of you who visited the Poe cottage in the Bronx, attended a reading or participated in any other literary events around the city or online, please be sure to share your comments!

Bring Literature to Life

Thanks for all the good wishes for Book Bogglers’ 2nd Birthday!

For those who would like to attend, a group of us are meeting in the upstairs lobby (by the elevators) at ASA College, Manhattan campus at 5:30 to travel together to Symposia Bookshop in Hoboken. (Only a 20 minute ride via PATH train).

We’ll begin with an open mike, inviting writers to read a short work of fiction/non-fiction/poetry. Then Dr. Cynthia Stuart, co-founder of Book Bogglers, will be reading from 3 of our books– all of which we are very proud  won awards in 2016. There will be refreshemnts, and a raffle if you’d like to win a copy of one of our Book Boggler titles.

For my English Comp 1 students– this counts for a Bring Literature to Life project– as does any participation in poetry slam, spoken word event, book signing, writers workshop– whatever you do out of the classroom to bring literature to life!

 

Piccolo Podcast & Indie Book Award!

Thanks to Jon Menaster of Read Live Learn for hosting his site to create a forum for writers and their readers. In episode 12 we spoke about Piccolo: an Artist’s Tale–as well as modern day slavery and the line between devotion and servitude.

http://www.readlearnlivepodcast.com/piccolo-an-artists-tale-ep-12-with-eileen-merwin/

Also, happy to announce that The Northman’s Daughter has won 1st Place in the 2017 Indie Book Award for Regional Fiction!

ASA College, English Comp 1 students: as we approach Final Exams keep our “Bring Literature to Life” series and be sure to report your literary activities: poetry slams, book signings, library lectures, or even a visit to the Poe Cottage in the Bronx have qualified in the past. But feel free to propose your own activity– including book reviews or on-line critiques of one of Jon’s author interviews–it’s up to you!

http://www.readlearnlivepodcast.com/

 

 

 

 

Bring Literature to Life

Special thanks to my English Comp students and their deep and insightful discussions based on our reading of the drama, Donovan’s Charge.

For those of you who signed the request sheet, we will gladly gift you a copy. (If you missed the opportunity, feel free to add your request as a comment to this post.) Thanks again, from both Glenn and myself, and continue to be courageous in these outrageous times. As in the play, let your spirit sound the charge! Also, be sure to sign up for our next Book Bogglers poetry reading at ASA College on April 7. Our theme–Illumination 2. (Let me know your availability so we can set up a date and time that works for all.)

Also– a bit last minute, but we are seeking students to read poems of your choice to honor Black History Month here at ASA College on 2/23, 3-5 pm. Please let me know if you plan to join us!

To celebrate Writers’ Digest reviews: gift books!

18203-wdan-awVery happy to have received these reviews from Writers’ Digest on Book Bogglers’ titles… equally happy to share Review Copies, just email bookbogglers@gmail.com with your request or comment below for free e-copies with our sincere thanks!

Also, please remember to RSVP if you’d like to join us for our next Book Bogglers event at ASA College: 1/12/2017 at 4-5:30 pm.

You can add a comment below to let us know if you will be reading your own poetry or that of an admired author (all languages welcome!).

Judge’s Commentary*: Piccolo: an Intern’s Talepiccolo_an_interns_cover_for_kindle

I don’t think I’ve read a stranger (in a good sense!) book in this year’s contest than PICCOLO: AN INTERN’S TALE, by “Piccolo Fortunato” and Elias T. Ressler. Piccolo is an Italian greyhound, and he narrates his own story, and the book (the cover of which is terrific) is illustrated throughout with what appear to be woodcuts. It’s a charming and entertaining book, and it manages, at once, to be both earnest and serious and also quite tongue-in-cheek. I’m an academic who works on Virginia Woolf, and I am reminded immediately of Woolf’s book FLUSH, which is told from the point of view of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s cocker spaniel. I’m curious if the author has read it. The writing itself is smart, sly, and very effective, and I found myself often laughing out loud at the sheer verve and nerve of the narrative and the voice. Ressler is clearly an odd duck in the best sense of the term. In a sea of standard mysteries and genre books this year, this one clearly stands out. I have almost no complaints, and would very much like to see the other book in this series. The book’s physical production (from a publishing house in England) is also very well done, and the woodcuts are reproduced beautifully. Quite entertaining and fun.

book-display

Judge’s Commentary*: Northman’s Daughter
What a beautiful story! The research you did was superb! It was great seeing how the facts of history related to your characters and the mythical world that you created. The character of Svana is well developed and likeable. She pulls the reader into the story with her personality. You can really hear the accents when reading. It’s wonderful to see how Svana grows through the story. The length of the book and type size is perfect for a middle grade or a young adult book. There are a few places in the story where the action lags a bit. Tightening up the text or perhaps even cutting out that section would help the pacing, particularly in the second book. There are quite a few words that are difficult, especially for younger readers. It’s great to see the glossary in the back, which gives the definitions as well as the phonetic spelling. There are a few typos, but nothing that detracts from the readability of the story. My only criticism would be that the cover design doesn’t really capture the wonderful story inside. It looks like a travel book. This would not be something that a young girl who enjoys historical fantasy would immediately recognize as a book she’d like to read.

Judge’s Commentary*: Wolfdogs
I’m digging the wolf photo. And I certainly cannot disagree with the synopsis. I like the paw print at the chapter headings.
Ha! Funny opening. Your writing style is infectious and conversational – a harder trick than many people might think. A little bit of overuse on the one-line paragraph. It’s interesting to watch his growing attraction to music. It’s sort of like a relationship (p. 24).
“The many layered lands…” that’s a great paragraph. (p. 38) “The air was almost delicious.” great line (p. 70).
I like the surreal sensation of finding himself in New York. That’s exactly what it’s like (p. 90). “like a plant tilting toward sunlight” (p. 105).
I really enjoy your writing – just note all the little gems I’m pulling out. You have a gift – which is why I’m finding this book frustrating, because I’d really like this thing to have an actual story. Even well-written reflections and self-discoveries do not carry the same weight as a strong story (p. 124). Yikes! Dead rabbit. Rude way to wake up. I love the discovery of the record treasure chest (p. 146). “like an archaeologist peeling back the bandages on a mummy” (p. 162)…. I love your writing style, your quirky way of looking at things, and this still might be the best book I’ve read for a while, because talent is talent, and you’ve got it. Whatever happens in this contest, keep at it. And best of luck.

Judge’s commentary*: Northman’s Daughter
The Northman’s Daughter filled some gaps in Irish history and folklore for me. You have obviously done a great deal of research to make the scenes live and breathe for the reader. The travels in time were very creatively maneuvered, and the characters sparkle with passion, pathos, wit, and humor.
The grammar errors are minimal. However, you will want to know that the Oxford comma (comma before the “and” when writing three or more items) is back in vogue….
The cover needs a picture that grabs the attention and the imagination of your readers. While the picture does depict the coast of Ireland, those who are geographically challenged won’t even get that. Find a picture that depicts Svana in one of the most important scenes in the story….
Thank you for the privilege of reading your novel; I truly enjoyed the way you put the stories together around Svana, and I loved the fact that her father was restored when she forgave him.

Blessed are the speechmakers…

12… and the writers who share their truth. And at ASA College in both my Communications and Comp 1 classes, these fine New Yorkers from around the world, shared their perspectives on love, life, literature, social issues and the fine artworks they discovered at the MET.

I am so proud to have met and worked with you all, and encourage you to keep writing and keep speaking out on behalf of Life, Community and Boundless Goodwill.

Congratulations J. Carter Merwin on “The Tales of Earden”

La_Hire_-_Art_Collection_of_Prince_Władysław_Vasa_-_Detail_-_Sketchbook_of_Hans_von_AachenInterview with J. Carter Merwin

author of ‘The Tales of Earden’ novels, a romance/fantasy/adventure series available in book form and on Kindle from Amazon

How would you describe yourself as an author?

Absolutely selfish! Although I hide it well, I would rather be writing than doing anything else, especially not doing anything for anyone, chores, commitments, meetings, visits…I’d rather be by myself immersed in the world I’ve created, amongst my friends. In fact, now that I think of it, when I was a small child I had 5 imaginary friends. I was an only child and spent a good deal of my time alone. My friends were ghosts and they lived in the closets of our home in Rochester, N.Y. I only remember the names of two of them, “Skinny and Fatty”. Actually, there are ghosts in my world of Earden, albeit much more sophisticated ghosts.

What compels you to write?

Something drives me to create, some spark, I don’t know. If I weren’t writing, I’d be painting. That’s what I went to school for, but really, when I think about it, I’ve been shifting on and off for years between the brush and the pen.

How do characters occur to you?

They just come around the corner at me as I’m writing about a situation or an event. The name comes first and then the quirks of his or her personality. I like character flaws, obsessions, these are the things that make us human and get us into trouble. Perfect people don’t interest me.

Do you have a favorite character?

At the moment my favorite character is a drunken slut of a princess you get to meet in the third novel, The Guardian and the King which I hope will be available this Christmas season. Jermaine is a piece of work, stubborn, spoiled and addicted to cherry wine. She causes no end of trouble for her parents and the man trapped into marrying her.

Why this genre/ time period?

I have always been a big fan of J.R.R. Tolkien, Sir Walter Scott, Dumas and was fascinated by anything medieval when I was young. In college I was in a group of painters called the “Post Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood”.

How do you do your research?

It depends, mostly on the internet if it’s something I know nothing about, which is an amazing place. For my first book, ‘The Swan and Arrow’ I learned more than I ever wanted to know about knife-fighting and for the second ‘The fledgling’ I spent a lot of time on falconry websites. For the human condition, I rely on my own experiences.

What do you find most challenging?

Getting the action, the fight scenes or the sex scenes described correctly so that the reader can see, and sense everything that is going on. What the characters are experiencing, that’s what’s important to me.

What do you find most rewarding?

Just having someone say they ‘liked’ my book. I’m really immensely grateful to my family and friends, they’ve all been so supportive and encouraging.

 

 

 

1 2 3