Month: October 2018

3 Creepy Short Stories to Read this Halloween Night

Related image Happy Halloween

Stay nice and cosy at home with these creepy short stories this Halloween night. I can’t guarantee the spooks will stay away but I do promise these stories will give you the creeps!

The Yellow Wallpaper

‘It is stripped off – the paper – in great patches . . . The colour is repellent . . . In the places where it isn’t faded and where the sun is just so – I can see a strange, provoking, formless sort of figure, that seems to skulk about . . .’

Based on the author’s own experiences, ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ is the chilling tale of a woman driven to the brink of insanity by the ‘rest cure’ prescribed after the birth of her child. Isolated in a crumbling colonial mansion, in a room with bars on the windows, the tortuous pattern of the yellow wallpaper winds its way into the recesses of her mind.

Charlotte Perkins Gilman was America’s leading feminist intellectual of the early twentieth century. In addition to her masterpiece ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’, this new edition includes a selection of her best short fiction and extracts from her autobiography. – Goodreads

Berenice

Berenice is a horror short story by Edgar Allan Poe. The tale is centered on the death of a young girl, named Berenice, and the mysterious visions of her cousin, Egaeus. – Goodreads

The Raven

No poem has ever received the kind of immediate and overwhelming response that Poe’s “The Raven” did when it first appeared in the New York Evening Mirror on January 29, 1845. It made Poe an overnight sensation (though his great fame never brought him much wealth) and the poem, a powerfully haunting elegy to lost love, remains one of the most beloved and recognizable verses in the English language. – Goodreads

The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe Elaine Howlin Literary Blog

What are your plans this Halloween? Trick or treating? Movie marathon?

Related image

How I Take My Instagram Photos

Let me begin by saying I have a fancy camera (Canon 700D) but you do not need one to take good photos. It certainly comes in handy but for beautiful Instagram photos, it isn’t really necessary. Also, I attended a course in photography about 10 years ago so a lot of this comes from what I learnt there.

I also use a tripod but again this isn’t necessary as long as you have good lighting.

I’m going to go through what+ I think about when I take my Instagram photos. From coming up with ideas, composition, lighting, texture, framing, and post-processing.

My Camera Canon 700D How I Take Photos for Instagram Elaine Howlin Literary Blog

Idea Generation

I always start with trying to come up with some ideas for photos. I used to prowl bookish photographs on Google, Pinterest, and Instagram looking for something to spark an idea. Now it’s always kind of in the back of my mind and then I see something (a flower, a tree, a cup) and think “I really want to photograph that“. After I have some props I want to include in my photos I look up how this item has been used before by others. For example, I have a crystal cake stand so I typed cake stand into Pinterest and found these photos.

Inspiration from pinterest for instagram photos idea generation Elaine Howlin Literary Blog
Pinterest is my main source for idea generation. It was unbelievably useful when we were planning our wedding.

So using these photos as a general guide I went out and got some flowers, my cake stand, a stack of books, chose a location in my house with good lighting and got snapping.

books and roses on crystal cake stand instagram photos Elaine Howlin Literary Blog
I took 48 photos using these and got 21 useable ones from this

Some people like to sketch out their ideas before shooting but I like to work from a very general idea. I usually base my photos around one or two particular items that have caught my attention. It may be something pretty like flowers or something with appealing texture like dried leaves.

Lighting

This is the absolute most important thing when it comes to taking photos. A camera records light bouncing off of surfaces, no light means no photos. Daylight is best (unless you have a lighting kit but if you have a lighting kit you know more than me about taking photos). I choose a spot in my house close to a window (usually my kitchen) with lots of light coming through. I like directional light because it casts some shadows and gives depth and dimension to the photos. I set up my shoot to have the light coming from the side and don’t use anything to reflect the light. If you wanted more even light you can use something white to reflect the light onto the other side of what you’re photographing. So if your light source is on the left you would place a white sheet on the right.

Coffee and reading lighting example instagram photos Elaine Howlin Literary Blog
In this photo, you can clearly see the light coming from the top right and casting shadows

The light needs to be good to achieve what you want. Middle of the day is perfect but sunset can work well too as long you’re able to achieve what it is you want and see everything clearly.

Composition

This is basically setting up all of the props attractively. Placing the main subject in a way that catches the viewers eye then leads them to look around the rest of the photo. The best way to do this is to follow the rule of thirds (that grid you can bring up on your screen when taking photos). This will help you pick a focal point and have lines leading the eye from there to the rest of the picture. Avoid having your focal point in the centre but this does work sometimes. The grid divides your screen into 2 vertical lines and 2 horizontal lines and you want to align your focal point (where you want people to look) along these lines usually at a point where they intersect.

Books and roses Rules of Thirds example Instagram photos Elaine Howlin Literary Blog
The rule of thirds

This does not mean that your photos have to be full of straight lines but once you start looking for lines you’ll see them everywhere. They can be diagonal or curved it’s just something that leads the eye from to the focal point to the rest of the image.

My Engagement Ring Elaine Howlin Literary Blog

In this photo of my engagement ring, your eye is instantly drawn to the ring and then brought out again by the petals of the rose.

Framing

This kind of ties in with composition but I want to make a few specific points regarding frame. The idea here is to really fill the frame. When I’m taking photos for Instagram I’m conscious that these photos will become squares so my frame is a square. You need to get close to what you’re photographing so the rest of the area isn’t visible taking attention away from the subject. There should be several interesting elements in the photo but it should never be cluttered and these elements need to enhance the presence of the main subject. I also always change my angle and take several photos of the same scene from different viewpoints.

books and roses instagram photos framing Elaine Howlin Literary Blog
Change viewpoints to get the most out of your set up

Texture

This is a big one for me when taking photos. I like lots of texture and contrast between items in an image. Books are quite plain so the other elements I add need to give depth and feeling without drawing too much attention away from the main subject. I like to use a sheepskin rug, a piece of hessian or a wooden tray as a base for the still life. Texture is kind of hard to explain but I think of it as something that when I look at it I can imagine how it feels.

Strawberries and nuts texture instagram photos Elaine Howlin Literary Blog
The slate, hessian and sheepskin in this photo give contrasting textures

Post-Processing

And after snapping all those photos they need to get some post-processing. I’ve often heard people say they prefer photos that are unedited but I think this is silly and that these people don’t fully grasp photography. Ye olde film photography has always undergone post-processing it just wasn’t done with a computer. Filters were used in enlargers to change the tone and contrast of the image. Development times in chemicals affected the outcome of the image as well and I’m sure they had plenty of other tricks I know nothing about. Post-processing can mean a simple adjustment to the colour or light levels or a big adjustment to change the style and feel of the image kind of like what I do. I like to give my images a vintage look with a brownish cream colour to them.

before and after post-processing instagram photos Elaine Howlin Literary Blog
Before and after editing in Photoshop

I use Adobe Photoshop to process my photos which costs about €25 a month but there are many free alternatives available. GIMP and Pixlr are both really good editors that I have used in the past. Instagram also has editing tools and filters built in.


Phew! So that’s it. That’s how I take my Instagram photos and some tips that will hopefully help you if you’re struggling or feel that you’re not taking the best photos you can.


You can follow me on Instagram here @elainehowlin_

 

Buy me a coffee on Ko-fi to support creation of future content. Elaine Howlin Literary Blog

All photos by me unless otherwise stated.

 

New Releases October 21st – 26th

Shadow and Ice (Gods of War, #1)Shadow and Ice – Gena Showalter

Knox of Iviland, the most ruthless warrior in All War history, has spent his life fighting others to the death, winning new realms for his king. Now the stakes are higher than ever. If he prevails in the battle for Earth, his slave bands will be removed. Victory is his sole focus…until he meets her.

On an arctic getaway with her foster sister, street tough but vulnerable Vale London is shocked to stumble upon a cave filled with ancient gods waging epic combat. When she is inadvertently drawn into their war, she is forced to team up with an unlikely ally—the sexy god who makes her burn with desire.

Though Vale is his enemy, Knox is consumed with lust and a fierce need to protect her. But only one combatant can triumph, and he will have to choose: live for freedom, or die for love.

Get the book: Amazon / Book Depository 

‘Tis the Season: Regency Yuletide Short Stories – Jennifer Ashley

‘Tis the Season, a unique Regency romance collection is sure to fill your heart with holiday cheer!

NYT and USA Today Bestselling romance authors, Jennifer Ashley, Grace Burrowes, Christi Caldwell, Louisa Cornell, Eva Devon, Janna MacGregor, and Jess Michaels are ringing in the holiday season with this limited edition collection of short stories.

You’ll be swept away by some of your favorite heroes and heroines. Delight in meeting old friends from previous books and new ones you’ll meet again in future titles!

The collection includes:
Jennifer Ashley: A First-Footer for Lady Jane (A Scottish Regency Romance)
When Grandfather MacDonald predicts Lady Jane will marry the this year’s First-Footer–the first guest into the house on Hogmany—she laughs. Her childhood sweetheart is fighting on the Peninsula, and she can’t imagine marrying anyone but staid Major Barnett.

But when the clock strikes midnight, and Hogmany begins, a knock at the front door changes Jane’s life forever.

Grace Burrowes: A Knight Before Christmas (A Rogues to Riches Story)
Chloe Thatcher’s livelihood is in peril when her late grandfather’s bookshop is doomed to be sold at auction just as the Yuletide season arrives. Aidan Ferris is a man of business for the banker most determined to gain ownership of Chloe’s property, but Aidan is also decent, honorable, and prone to lingering beneath sprigs of mistletoe. Will Aidan take possession of Chloe’s home–or of her heart?

Christi Caldwell: Home for the Holidays (The Brethren story)
Martha and Graham Whitworth are eagerly embracing their first holiday as a new family. But will a summons from Graham’s father, the Duke of Sutton steal their holiday cheer? Or mayhap Christmas might prove a time of forgiveness and new beginnings for all…

Louisa Cornell: (A Many Brides of Lord Creighton story)
Sebastian and Minerva Brightworth are prepared to celebrate a wonderful
first Christmas together. Until Minerva accepts an invitation from Sebastian’s estranged brother Will Sebastian and Minerva’s first holiday together be their last?

Eva Devon: Joy to the Duke (The Duke’s Secret story)
When the ghosts of Christmas past come to haunt The Duke of Blackstone, will he and his new duchess be able to put them to rest? In a story that revels in the joy of the holiday, join the characters of The Duke’s Secret for a festive escape.

Janna MacGregor: The Earl’s Christmas Bride (The Cavensham Heiresses)
Cameron Dunmore, the Earl of Queensgrace, is determined to win the hand of his true love, Miss Julia Lawson. Julia never forgot Cameron, but she won’t abandon her family, even if she must sacrifice her own happiness. When a Christmas angel in the guise of Julia’s little brother brings these stubborn lovebirds together, only Cam and Julia can decide if Christmas wedding bells are in their future.

Jess Michaels: Silent Night (A 1797 Club story)
Ewan and Charlotte Hoffstead, the Duke and Duchess of Donburrow, are anticipating a wonderful holiday with their children, family and friends. But when Ewan finds out a secret Charlotte has been keeping, they’ll have to face a painful past and redefine their love.

Get the book: Amazon 

Terry Pratchett HisWorld Official Exhibition CompanionTerry Pratchett HisWorld Official Exhibition Companion – Terry Pratchett

In 2017 the Estate of Sir Terry Pratchett, the Salisbury Museum and illustrator Paul Kidby joined forces to present the award winning Terry Pratchett: HisWorld exhibition – taking visitors to the heart of the world of the Discworld creator.

This comprehensive and fully illustrated guide is the official companion to that unique collection.

With additional images and extra content including essays by Rhianna Pratchett, Rob Wilkins, Paul Kidby, Colin Smythe, Bernard Pearson, Stephen Briggs, Amy Anderson for The Josh Kirby Estate, Professor Roy Jones, Jake Keen & Nick Cowan.

The exhibition won Best Temporary or Touring Exhibition in the prestigious Museum & Heritage Awards.

The judges described it as “an exhibition which demonstrated great emotional connection which resulted in a marked change in visitor demographics”.

This book is a perfect memento for those who made the journey to view the resoundingly popular exhibition and the perfect consolation for those who were unable to visit in person.

‘Meticulously crafted HisWorld shows why Terry Pratchett was his generation’s Dickens.”
-The Telegraph

I'll Be There for You: The One about FriendsI’ll Be There for You: The One about Friends – Kelsey Miller

This definitive retrospective of Friends incorporates interviews, history and behind-the-scenes anecdotes to offer a critical analysis of how a sitcom about six twenty-somethings changed television forever.

When Friends debuted in 1994, no one expected it to become a mainstay of NBC’s “Must See TV” lineup, let alone a global phenomenon. In the years since, Friends has gone through many phases of cultural relevancy, from prime-time hit to 90s novelty item to certified classic. Ross, Rachel, Monica, Chandler, Joey and Phoebe have entered the pantheon of great television characters, and millions of people around the globe continue to tune in or stream their stories every day.

I’ll Be There for You is the definitive retrospective of Friends, exploring all aspects of the show from its unlikely origins to the elusive reasons why we still watch it. Journalist and pop culture expert Kelsey Miller relives the show’s most iconic moments, analyzes the ways in which Friends is occasionally problematic and examines the many trends it inspired, from the rise of coffee-shop culture to “Friendsgivings” to the ultimate 90s haircut, The Rachel.

Weaving incisive commentary, revelatory interviews and behind-the-scenes anecdotes involving high-profile guest stars, I’ll Be There for You is the most comprehensive take on Friends, and the ultimate book for fans everywhere.

Get the book: Amazon / Book Depository

Kingdom of Ash (Throne of Glass, #7)Kingdom of Ash – Sarah J. Maas

Years in the making, Sarah J. Maas’s #1 New York Times bestselling Throne of Glass series draws to an epic, unforgettable conclusion. Aelin Galathynius’s journey from slave to king’s assassin to the queen of a once-great kingdom reaches its heart-rending finale as war erupts across her world. . .

Aelin has risked everything to save her people―but at a tremendous cost. Locked within an iron coffin by the Queen of the Fae, Aelin must draw upon her fiery will as she endures months of torture. Aware that yielding to Maeve will doom those she loves keeps her from breaking, though her resolve begins to unravel with each passing day…

With Aelin captured, Aedion and Lysandra remain the last line of defense to protect Terrasen from utter destruction. Yet they soon realize that the many allies they’ve gathered to battle Erawan’s hordes might not be enough to save them. Scattered across the continent and racing against time, Chaol, Manon, and Dorian are forced to forge their own paths to meet their fates. Hanging in the balance is any hope of salvation―and a better world.

And across the sea, his companions unwavering beside him, Rowan hunts to find his captured wife and queen―before she is lost to him forever.

As the threads of fate weave together at last, all must fight, if they are to have a chance at a future. Some bonds will grow even deeper, while others will be severed forever in the explosive final chapter of the Throne of Glass series.

Get the book: Amazon / Book Depository

My Life in Books Tag

Hi everyone 🙂 it’s tag time. I’m not going to tag anyone directly. If you want to do the tag then please do. I found it on Talk Less Read More.

Article Elaine Howlin Book Blog

1. Pick a book for each of your initials… EH

Embrace the Night (Cassandra Palmer, #3)Halfway to the Grave (Night Huntress, #1)

E – Embrace the Night by Karen Chance

Recently named the world’s chief clairvoyant, Cassandra Palmer still has a thorn in her side. As long as Cassie and a certain master vampire – the sizzling-hot Mircea – are magically bound to each other, her life will never be her own …

The spell that binds them can only be broken with an incantation found in the Codex Merlini, an ancient grimoire. The Codex’s location has been lost in the present day, so Cassie will have to seek it out in the only place it can still be found – the past.

But Cassie soon realizes the Codex has been lost for a reason. The book is rumored to contain dangerous spells, and retrieving it may help Cassie to deal with Mircea, but it could also endanger the world…

H – Halfway to the Grave by Jeaniene Frost

Half-vampire Catherine Crawfield is going after the undead with a vengeance, hoping that one of these deadbeats is her father – the one responsible for ruining her mother’s life. Then she’s captured by Bones, a vampire bounty hunter, and is forced into an unholy partnership.

In exchange for finding her father, Cat agrees to train with the sexy night stalker until her battle reflexes are as sharp as his fangs. She’s amazed she doesn’t end up as his dinner – are there actually good vampires? Pretty soon Bones will have her convinced that being half-dead doesn’t have to be all bad. But before she can enjoy her newfound status as kick-ass demon hunter, Cat and Bones are pursued by a group of killers. Now Cat will have to choose a side . . . and Bones is turning out to be as tempting as any man with a heartbeat.

2. Count your age along your bookshelf, what is it?

A Girl is a Half-formed Thing by Eimear McBride Elaine Howlin Literature Blog

A Girl is a Half-formed Thing by Eimear McBride

Eimear McBride’s debut tells, with astonishing insight and in brutal detail, the story of a young woman’s relationship with her brother, and the long shadow cast by his childhood brain tumour. Not so much a stream of consciousness, as an unconscious railing against a life that makes little sense, and a shocking and intimate insight into the thoughts, feelings and chaotic sexuality of a vulnerable and isolated protagonist. To read A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing is to plunge inside its narrator’s head, experiencing her world first-hand. This isn’t always comfortable – but it is always a revelation.

Touching on everything from family violence to sexuality and the personal struggle to remain intact in times of intense trauma, McBride writes with singular intensity, acute sensitivity and mordant wit. A Girl is a Half-formed Thing is moving, funny – and alarming. It is a book you will never forget.

3. Pick a book set in your city/country.

Old Ways Old Secrets Pagan Ireland by Jo Kerrigan Elaine Howlin Literature Blog

Old Ways Old Secrets Pagan Ireland by Jo Kerrigan

In a land like ours, the old beliefs bring pleasure and wisdom…

Exploring the legends, special places and treasured practices of old, Jo Kerrigan reveals a rich world beneath Ireland’s modern layers.

So many of today’s Irish traditions reach back to our ancient past, to the natural world: climbing to the summit of a mountain at harvest time; circling a revered site three, seven or nine times in a sun-wise direction; hanging offerings on a thorn tree; bringing the ailing and infirm to a sacred well.

Old Ways, Old Secrets shows us how to uncover the wisdom of the past, as fresh as it is ancient.

4. Pick a book that represents a place you’d like to travel to.

Harry Potter Books by J.K. Rowling Elaine Howlin Literature Blog

Hogwarts from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

“Whether you come back by page or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.”
― J.K. Rowling

5. Pick a book that’s your favourite colour.

The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry Elaine Howlin Literature Blog

The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry

Set in Victorian London and an Essex village in the 1890’s, and enlivened by the debates on scientific and medical discovery which defined the era, The Essex Serpent has at its heart the story of two extraordinary people who fall for each other, but not in the usual way.

They are Cora Seaborne and Will Ransome. Cora is a well-to-do London widow who moves to the Essex parish of Aldwinter, and Will is the local vicar. They meet as their village is engulfed by rumours that the mythical Essex Serpent, once said to roam the marshes claiming human lives, has returned. Cora, a keen amateur naturalist is enthralled, convinced the beast may be a real undiscovered species. But Will sees his parishioners’ agitation as a moral panic, a deviation from true faith. Although they can agree on absolutely nothing, as the seasons turn around them in this quiet corner of England, they find themselves inexorably drawn together and torn apart.

Told with exquisite grace and intelligence, this novel is most of all a celebration of love, and the many different guises it can take.

6. Which book do you have the fondest memories of?

Falling For A Dancer by Deirdre Purcell TowerHouse Dublin MacMillan publishers

Falling for a Dancer by Deirdre Purcell

If the bus hadn’t broken down that August afternoon on the road between Dublin and Cork, Elizabeth Sullivan would never have met George Gallaher, a travelling actor of infinite charm and fatal weakness. She would not have been forced to marry, nor found herself trapped in an alien landscape.

  • I’ve read this book 3 or 4 times since I was a teenager. There’s no one thing about it that I can say I love. The book as a whole just seems to resonate with me.

7. Which book did you have the most difficulty reading?

Breaking Dawn by Stephanie Meyer

I hated Breaking Dawn so much the entire time I was reading it but I was determined to finish the series.

8. Which book in your TBR pile will give you the biggest accomplishment when you finish it?

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell

 

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke

Sophisticated, witty, and ingeniously convincing, Susanna Clarke’s magisterial novel weaves magic into a flawlessly detailed vision of historical England. She has created a world so thoroughly enchanting that eight hundred pages leave readers longing for more.

English magicians were once the wonder of the known world, with fairy servants at their beck and call; they could command winds, mountains, and woods. But by the early 1800s they have long since lost the ability to perform magic. They can only write long, dull papers about it, while fairy servants are nothing but a fading memory.

But at Hurtfew Abbey in Yorkshire, the rich, reclusive Mr Norrell has assembled a wonderful library of lost and forgotten books from England’s magical past and regained some of the powers of England’s magicians. He goes to London and raises a beautiful young woman from the dead. Soon he is lending his help to the government in the war against Napoleon Bonaparte, creating ghostly fleets of rain-ships to confuse and alarm the French.

All goes well until a rival magician appears. Jonathan Strange is handsome, charming, and talkative-the very opposite of Mr Norrell. Strange thinks nothing of enduring the rigors of campaigning with Wellington’s army and doing magic on battlefields. Astonished to find another practicing magician, Mr Norrell accepts Strange as a pupil. But it soon becomes clear that their ideas of what English magic ought to be are very different. For Mr Norrell, their power is something to be cautiously controlled, while Jonathan Strange will always be attracted to the wildest, most perilous forms of magic. He becomes fascinated by the ancient, shadowy figure of the Raven King, a child taken by fairies who became king of both England and Faerie, and the most legendary magician of all. Eventually Strange’s heedless pursuit of long-forgotten magic threatens to destroy not only his partnership with Norrell, but everything that he holds dear.

  • At over 1,000 pages long it will definitely be an accomplishment to finish this tome.

Synopsis from Goodreads. Photos from my Instagram @elainehowlin_

 

4 Reading Update Templates for Instagram

Let your friends know what book you’re reading and how you’re enjoying it in your Instagram stories with these bookish templates.

And if you want to you can check out my Instagram here @elainehowlin_

Notepad and pencil Currently Reading Instagram Story Template Elaine Howlin Literary Blog

Notepad and Pen Currently Reading Template Instagram Stories Elaine Howlin Literary Blog

Notepad Reading Update Instagram Story Template ElaineHowlin Literary Blog

Notebook and Pen Reading Goals Template Instagram Story Elaine Howlin Literary Blog

For more literary printables such as bookmarks and a book info card, visit the printables page.