I read my first Gothic Horror novel: “Dracula” by Bram Stoker.
I personally am not into vampires. I don’t like them; they have gone from creepy and disgusting to just plain annoying in today’s world! So, when my mother suggested I read the old classic “Dracula” I was naturally leery. However, Dracula is now on my “Favorites” shelf and I think that it throws any other vampire stories I have read so far “into the mud”. I also think it was one of the most Christian books I have ever read, next to anything written by Frank Peretti. It surprised me that Bram Stoker actually depicted the vampires as demons, with no heart or mercy or pure thought, inhabiting a human’s body. Try to find that in today’s vampire stories!
However, before I would recommend Dracula for reading I would give a warning: it is a horror genre novel. It has some very gruesome, morbid parts and it does suggest some very mild sensuality in some parts that would be somewhat disturbing to a few readers that I know. But, if you can handle watching the news on TV or if you have read any of Frank Peretti’s books, I can guarantee you will be able to handle Dracula.
So now that I have that said and done, shall we move on?
It took about three chapters of for the story to really get rolling, but I must give the author some leeway because “Dracula” was written in the late 1800’s and does not follow the guidelines of today’s modern fiction: begin with a KAPOW that grips your readers on the very first page! Dracula actually eases mysteriously into the story, which was a nice change from today’s fiction.
Once I got past the first couple of pages, the story became very intriguing. I was amazed at how well the author tinged the story with deep mystery, really arousing my curiosity in the plot. This kept me turning the pages through the first part of the book.
The book is written completely in first person, being a collection of diaries and memoirs from each character involved in the story. I was certain that the first person narrative was going to drive me crazy, as it did in Mobey Dick, but it flowed smoothly in this book and made the characters VERY realistic. Again I was amazed at the author’s skill as he was able to craft each of the characters with such different personalities! I generally pride myself in staying detached from fictional characters in a story, but Bram Stoker’s skill in the first person narrative made it impossible for me to remain indifferent to these characters. In other words, I became attached to the characters of the story very quickly.
One of my favorite characters was Abraham Van Helsing. Caring, gentle, intelligent, crafty, and humorous, Van Helsing has a right to be one of the main heroes in “Dracula”. He is a brilliant Dutch doctor who is in England, trying to help his friends smoke out and destroy Count Dracula. Because he is a Dutchman in England this causes some humor throughout the book as his English is sometimes a little shaky and he gets things a little mixed up.
Midway through the story it became practically impossible to set the book down! The plot grew intense as the characters started making discoveries and finding out their foe, and the story started to roll very quickly as Count Dracula tried to destroy them and they quickly learned how to fight the demon back.
The ending seemed a bit rushed to me, but it ended better than I thought it would. I expected everyone to die and the bad guy to live on, as in many horror novels, but it was not the case and all the mystery and puzzles presented throughout the book were wrapped up very well in the end.
All in all, it was a very good book that I would recommend to most people, and I like it much, much better than any other vampire literature I have come across. Thumbs up for Bram Stoker’s Dracula!
“I saw the Count lying within the box upon the earth, some of which the rude falling from the cart had scattered over him. He was deathly pale, just like a waxen image, and the red eyes glared with the horrible vindictive look which I knew so well.”
- Mina Harker - Dracula
"...a contemporary fantasy story that inspires young people to dig deep within to find their God-given strengths and use them to overcome any obstacle. It’s a perfect blend of fantasy and science fiction with a Christian message."
There are four books in the series: RAISING DRAGONS, THE CANDLESTONE, CIRCLES OF SEVEN, and TEARS OF A DRAGON. In paperback, kindle, or audiobook.
TIP: they are excellent in any format. Just pick one and get involved!
This is an Amazon Affiliate Link.
Do dogs really have self-esteem?
I might not have been able to answer this question a few years ago. Since I've had Pilot, though, I can confidently say YES. Dogs do have self-esteem.
Most of the dogs I have owned in my life have had no lack of self-esteem. They were confident in themselves and their abilities, and they were assured that their owner felt the same way. They were not afraid to try new things, and if they failed at something, they got right back up and tried it again and again until they succeeded.
Because of this, I never questioned whether dogs had self-esteem.
And then I met Pilot.
Pilot was easy to worry. He was clingy. He was hard to teach and train. If someone spoke one loud word he would drop to the ground like he was being punished. If he did something wrong and I said "no", he would do the same thing. Sometimes he would shut down completely and not do anything at all.
He wasn't as troubled as some dogs I've met. He was still a happy, playful pooch, ready to please me, but he just wasn't... well... I couldn't put my finger on it at the time, but he was missing something.
Then, the day came when he learned to "Roll Over" on command. The first time he did it, I threw a party and he acted surprised. The second time he did it, I threw another party and I saw a light come on in his head.
After that, Pilot became a whole new dog. He became more receptive and started learning more tricks. He would try new things, instead of shutting down. He started wandering short distances away from me on hikes, rather than sticking to me like glue. He grew more calm and confident in public. His self-esteem tripled just from learning that one trick, then it continued to grow with each new trick he learned, with every public place we visited, and with every new thing we tried.
Pilot showed me that dogs DO have self-esteem, and it can be weak or strong, just like ours.
How do you build a dog's self-esteem? Have patience, try new things with them, and set them up for success. Every time they succeed, they become a little more confident in their abilities. It can be a very long process, especially for those dogs who need their self-esteem built from the ground up. But it is very rewarding to see them gain that confidence bit by bit, and having a proud, confident dog is the goal of every dog owner, isn't it?
Here are 10 of the best ways to build up your dog's confidence:
"Wait, you're a CO-AUTHOR?"
Yes. Yes I am. I know I haven't been keeping folks updated (for many reasons of my own), but it is true. I have spent the last year or so co-writing a book with a fellow author and close friend, F.P. Spirit, and now it is FINALLY PUBLISHED! And I am so excited!!
The book is titled "Princess of Lanfor" and it is available on Amazon as an ebook, and will be in paperback as well later this month!
For more information about this awesome book (and F.P. Spirit), please watch this YouTube video I put together to announce the book, explain a bit about it, and featuring me, myself, and I reading an excerpt from it!
When you are finished watching, don't forget to share it with your friends! Get the news out, because I think the world needs to see this book!
Have you ever witnessed a dog get hit by a vehicle? Or trampled by a horse? Have you ever been in a situation where you found yourself thinking "If my dog just understood what I was saying, I could save him."?
I know I have been in all three situations, plus some. None of them ended well. That is why I have made a big deal about drilling my dog, Pilot, on three simple commands: Come, Whoa (stop), & Down.
Suppose Pilot is hiking with me off leash (as he often does) and he unknowingly strays toward the den of a wild animal. I can say "COME" and he will obey me right away, leaving the territorial wild animal with big teeth and innumerable horrific deceases alone. This works the same way if he is out of the yard and the UPS truck pulls into our drive unexpectedly.
The "Whoa" command works in a similar way.
There have been times when we are walking down an old dirt road and Pilot and I are on opposite sides. If a vehicle comes down the road toward us, I can tell Pilot "Whoa" and he'll stop, sit down and not move until I give him the okay to do so. This allows the vehicle to pass us both safely.
Down is another important one, where I live. Sometimes, the places we hike have horses or cattle. Most cattle, especially those with babies, do not like dogs. If the cows grow concerned with Pilot's presence, I can simply tell him "Down". As soon as his head disappears beneath the grasses, the cows settle down and eventually move away to greener pastures. This works for horses and stray dogs as well, and keeps fights at bay.
One other command I am trying to teach Pilot is "RUN AWAY". Sometimes, that's about all one can do when faced with an angry cow, horse, or certain kinds of wildlife. The thing is, though, I want him to run AWAY FROM ME. He tends to run to me and hide between my legs when things get heated. That causes.... *cough*.... problems. Especially when we are both running for our lives.
HOW DO YOU TEACH THESE COMMANDS?
There are tons - TONS - of videos on YouTube on how to teach your dog the "down" and "come" commands. So I won't even try to explain those to you.
Whoa, or stop, is a little more complicated.
The first time I needed such a command was when I'd just brought Pilot home. He was playing in the farm yard one day, saw me, and started running toward me like a crazy happy dog. Sitting right between him and I was an angry hen with a bunch of tiny baby chicks. In an effort to stop a catastrophe from happening, I ran forward, put my hand out like Iron Man, and screamed "WHOA DOG!"
He stopped instantly and looked at me like "Oh no! What did I do?", and the flustered hen was able to shuffle her chicks to a safer part of the farm yard.
From then on, I started actively teaching the "Whoa" command to Pilot. I started out by calling him toward me. When he was just a few feet away, I jumped toward him with my hand out and said a loud, firm "Whoa!". When he stopped, I'd wait a second before calling him to me. Then I would throw a super big party for him with lots of treats and praise until he came to realize that "whoa" was not a harsh, mean word. As he got better, I started stopping him further and further away from me, and making him wait longer and longer for the release. Now, he's pretty much a pro.
Now, I will say that I haven't tried to actively teach this to any other dogs yet. I guess this technique would work with just about any dog, though, since it is a natural reaction to freeze if someone jumps and yells at you.
If the dog was a small or very gentle mannered dog, though, I'd take a softer approach to teaching the "whoa" command. Otherwise, it might scare them away, not make them freeze.
Here is a very short YouTube video of Pilot demonstrating his "Life Saving" commands. Enjoy!
I cannot tell you how happy I am that the second installment of Tales of the Wovlen is FINALLY DONE and PUBLISHED! Can you believe that it's been 3 years since I published the first book??
I have been so frustrated with this book, because it took forever to get it written, edited, and formatted. And I know you've been frustrated because "What the heck is taking that author so long to get the next book done?!" and "She keeps setting a date, then pushes it back. What's up with her?"
But, the frustration is finally over. At long last, the book is published!
You can buy the paperback at CreateSpace (which gives more of the royalties back to the author).
Or you can Pre-order the Kindle ebook on Amazon.
Unfortunately, it will be a while before I can offer signed copies for sale.
If you would like to preview the story before you buy the book, that's not a problem!
You can read the prologue (chapter before the first chapter) here: Thank You For Loving Me
You can also read a snippet of chapter 9: Annaka & Arden
Please, please, PLEASE leave a review of the book on Amazon after you've finished reading it. Just a simple, honest review will be fine. Even bad reviews are helpful! Every review I get boosts my book's stats, regardless of how many stars they are.
So please, help this poor author get her belated book noticed by reviewing it on Amazon, blogging about it, making a video review, and sharing it with your friends via social media or in real life!
As a bonus, if you are a proud book worm, like to make book suggestions to others, really want to review my book specifically, and have a blog or Youtube account to share that review on, I will send you a FREE ebook of The Dragon's Due for you to review! Just send me a message on my Facebook page, and we'll iron out the details there.
You can also help out by sharing the image above! It can be pinned to Pinterest and I will be sharing it to my Twitter and Facebook pages, so please pop over to one (or all) of those and click LIKE and SHARE (or retweet... or pin it... whatever the case may be).
Thank you guys for all your help, patience, and support thus far, and please enjoy the continued adventures of Keegan and Pharrgon the dragon!
What do you know about Service Dogs? How educated are you about them?
If you are like most people, when someone says "Service Dog", the image of a blind person with a dog probably pops into your head. However, Service Dogs are not just for the blind or those in wheelchairs. There are a wide variety of Service Dogs and they serve a wide variety of people in a number of different ways.
Service dogs vs. Emotional Support dogs vs. Therapy dogs:
Service Animals help with performing a function for a person that is limited by a disability. They are protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which means that they can, by Federal Law, go anywhere and do anything in America with their handler, and no one can stop them. Literally. But it also means they have to be well trained and exceptionally well behaved.
Emotional Support Animals (ESA) help individuals with emotional problems by providing comfort and support.
They are protected by the Fair Housing Amendments Act and the Air Carrier Access Act, which means they can go onto air planes for free and are allowed in all housing, regardless of pet policies. They don't need any sort of special training, but they do have to be prescribed by a doctor or therapist of some sort.
Therapy Animals provide affection and comfort to individuals in hospitals, nursing homes, and other facilities. These guys are protected by no law. They are usually well trained though and are very friendly and they are only allowed to go to hospitals, nursing homes, and some schools.
The different types of Service Dogs:
Not all disabilities are visible.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a little broad on the topic, but here are a few disabilities that qualify for the use of a service dog:
Where do you get a service dog?:
Anywhere dogs are sold. Seriously!
Depending on your disability and needs, you can take the 10 year old dog that's already in your back yard and turn it into a fantastic Service Dog.
If you need a dog with some advanced training, such as a seeing eye dog, then there are organizations that specifically breed, raise, or rescue dogs and train them for that purpose. The same goes for every other kind of Service Dog.
There are so many places you can get Service Dogs, I can't even list them all. You can find one - or several - in just about every state (except in Oklahoma, apparently *glares at Oklahoma*)
But, you can train your own Service Dog. I am currently training Pilot, my dog, to be a Hearing Alert dog! (Don't ask how that is going - don't even ask.)
You can find great books and DVDs all across the internet on how to train your own Service Dog. Here is a list of the Top 10 Best Service Dog Training Resources (my favorites, personally, are the Teamwork and Teamwork II books/DVDs).
What makes a service dog legitimate?:
Basically, if your dog can do the basic heel, sit, down, and stay, be controlled in public, and it can assist you in at least one major way, then it is a Service Dog. Plain and simple. You don't have to register it anywhere, it doesn't have to wear a vest, and it doesn't even need to be professionally trained. If you say it's a Service Dog, and can demonstrate a decent measure of control in public, then by law you have a legit Service Dog.
You can make it even more legit by getting a Service Dog vest, a collar and leash that say SERVICE DOG, and a fancy holographic Service Dog Tag. You can even pay a little money and have your Service Dog registered. All of that stuff makes traveling with a Service Dog easier, but it isn't required.
So, that is the very basic in-a-nutshell version of "All About Service Dogs". If you have any questions, or would like some more information, don't be afraid to ask in the comments below. I'll be happy to help you out!
Self-published author of the fantasy series, Tales of the Wovlen, Kathryn spends a great deal of time in the world of her imagination, having tea with fire breathing dragons, writing books on flying space ships, and practicing her mad scientist laugh with gusto. However, on occasion, she returns to this world just to play with her dog and blog about her fun.
The First Book