Book Review – White Fang by Jack London

This is the third book written by Jack London I have read in the last month. They are all well written stories about people and animals and their struggles against their environment. White Fang is no exception. I read an adapted version of this one, since it was sitting on our book shelf right next to The Call of the Wild. I enjoyed all three books.

White Fang

Selma’s Book Review

Book Title

White Fang

Author

Jack London

Type of Book

Adapted version would probably be a good middle grade read. I would caution sensitive readers there is some violence depicted in this story. It is in line with what actually happens in nature, but some readers may get upset by it.

Background

Just like The Call of the Wild, it was first published as a serialized story. According to Wikipedia, it was featured in Outing Magazine, which was published in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century under many different titles. Its tagline “the outdoor magazine of human interest”, ceased publication in 1923.

It was published as a book in 1906 and is said to be a companion book to The Call of the Wild, which focused on a domestic dog becoming wild while White Fang was a wild wolf/dog becoming domesticated. When two stories do this, it is called a thematic mirror. Disney also made a movie of White Fang in 1991.

Summary of Story

Story takes place in the Yukon during the Klondike Gold Rush in the 1890s. A she-wolf has been living with a wolf pack. They have been foraging for food. When food becomes scarce, the she wolf and another wolf named One Eye, leave the pack. She gives birth to five pups. Due to the lack of food in the Alaskan tundra, only one pup survives. It is White Fang. This is his story of growing up as a wolf/dog.

Reactions to book

I liked the story. As an animal lover, I really got into the character of White Fang. The violence of nature in the book did get to me at points, but London was just telling the story from his experiences in the Yukon. And it was a hard and violent environment. It was neat to see the parallels and mirror images between this book and The Call of the Wild. I didn’t expect it, but glad that I read the other book first to be able to experience it.

If you are interested in picking up a copy, you can find it here White Fang

To learn more about the author, be sure to check out his website Jack London.

Happy 4th of July! It’s a milestone day.

A couple weeks ago, I realized that I was getting close to 100 blog posts on this site. I looked at the calendar and noticed what day the post was going to fall on. This year July 4th falls on a Monday, the day I post my weekly blog on. This is my 100th post on WordPress and it is going live on the internet on the 4th of July 2016. It’s debut comes on a day designated to celebrate our country’s independence with picnics, parades and fireworks. It is a great day to post this milestone’s debut on.

You may notice some changes to the look of my blog site. Thanks to some new found knowledge from a workshop about WordPress that I am currently working through, I did some updates to my blog. Some of them you will see. Different colors with additional pages containing an author bio and another page with a contact me form. Other changes are working behind the scenes to make things work better on the site.

So, let’s start this post with a little bit of background about Independence Day.

According to Wikipedia, the Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Continental Congress. It declared that the original thirteen American colonies would become a new nation and no longer be a part of the British Empire.

From the onset, Americans celebrated the anniversary of this event on the date the declaration was signed and appears on the actual document, July 4th, 1776, rather than the date the resolution was approved, which was July 2nd. Not only is the difference in these dates an issue and disputed fact, but it isn’t even certain that the declaration was even signed on July 4th, even though Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin later wrote they actually did sign it on the 4th.

Some additional bits of trivia about July 4th,

  • Both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, the only signers of the Declaration to later become presidents of the United States, died on the same day, July 4, 1826, which was the 50th anniversary of when the Declaration was supposedly signed.
  • Another Founding Father, James Monroe, died on July 4, 1831, now the third president who has died on the holiday.
  • So far there has only been one president born on Independence Day, Calvin Coolidge, our 30th president, was born on July 4, 1872.

I enjoy doing research for my blog posts. I learn a lot of interesting things that I want to share. I hope you find some of it interesting too. Through my blogs this year I have learned many fun facts about different events in the history of our country. I wonder if one of these facts will win me any money in a trivia contest someday.

Along with my 100th blog post milestone, I have another blog writing milestone to celebrate from this holiday weekend. I achieved the 100 likes mark on Saturday, thanks to another author who commented and liked last week’s blog post. Even though I feel like my writing has been at a stand still lately, these milestones show me the work and time I am putting in on my blog is progressing. I’m also making more contacts and meeting some great people in the process. This networking is helping the typically solitude life of a writer change into more of a social experience.

I have gained so much knowledge and experience about the writing and publishing process through this journey. Not only by the writing itself, but also by listening to the advice of others who have walked the path before me. There are a lot of people to thank for their help, advice, and support along the way. I know now, as a writer, you definitely don’t journey down this path alone. I have made contacts with so many people around the world through blogging and social media groups. I don’t know how I would have done it before the invention of Facebook and the creation of my blog.

Last week while I was sorting out my feelings about my writing progress, I came up with the writing house analogy. It is a way to view what I’m putting together for all my writing processes and goals. I compared it to building a house, because there are a lot of things that go into it. Some are visual, like the colors and furniture on the inside and some are essential but hidden from view, like the foundation, or writer’s platform, which needs to be stable and built the right way. Constructing the writing house is not only putting together what is seen on the outside, the right website, Facebook page, blog, or cover design for the novel. It is also having a comfortable place to go and create the stories and blogs that make the rest of the writing journey work and the house function with it.

Everyone has a happy place. A place where they can go to feel relaxed and calm or maybe just simply be happy. For my writing house, I’m picturing a tree house with a writing desk in it. Birds singing and wind blowing through the leaves. I feel a sense of calm when I imagine myself there, away from the stress of day-to-day life. It gives me a place where I can be quiet with my thoughts and listen to my heart’s passions; for my family and my writing. Even if I can only just imagine being there, it ultimately helps me get creatively inspired to write those stories that are inside of me.

My 100th post is a definite writing milestone for me. It makes me stop and think about how far I have come with my writing. A lot of work has been and will continue to be put into it. There have been a fair share of hard times and happy times on the journey, but anything worth having has to be worked for. And the work isn’t easy, but the results are well worth it in the end.

A Girl becomes a Blogger

Blog? What even is a blog? When I first heard the word, it sounded made up to me. And me become a blogger? Didn’t know that would happen. Let’s see if I can find some information about it on Google to understand what it is all about.

After a basic online search, I found out that blogging is a fairly recent phenomenon in our history. Its creation came with the art of website development becoming more user friendly. According to Wikipedia, it was originally called a weblog by Jorn Barger on December 17, 1997. He used the term to describe the process of logging (posting) information on the web. He began his “logging” with daily entries on his blog, Robot Wisdom. He wrote a lot about James Joyce and artificial intelligence in those posts and his written works are almost all self published. Peter Merholz broke the word up into we and blog on the side bar of his blog Peterme.com in April or May of 1999 which is how it got known as just a blog.

The typical blog that one sees on the internet today evolved from what was known as an online diary. It was a webpage where people kept a running journal of their personal lives or a travel log for their trips. I think part of the origin goes back even before the computer, when that information was in more of a handwritten form found in a diary or journal. The entries contained in those books went from being written on paper to being typed in digitally on a computer.

People have been sharing their lives through writing for years. There are journals and letters dating back to the time when when writing was done on stone tablets and parchment paper created from animal skins. Most of that writing was not intended to be shared with many people other than an intended recipient, but some of it has been found and used to add other people’s experiences to our history. Blogs are a popular way to share our experiences with many people in real time. They are also an important writer and author’s tool to present their writing style to potential readers all over the world.

Ever heard of a vlog? What is the difference between that and a blog, I asked? Back to Wikipedia. They are both regularly updated websites or web pages typically run by a person or small group. A vlog is where the postings in the feed are primarily in video form. A blog has postings that are written in an informal or conversational style and posted as written posts.

There are many places online where one can set up a personal or author type blog. WordPress.com, Blogspot.com and Weebly.com  are just a few options. Once a person sets one up, they need to decide what they want to do with it. Is it just for their own personal writing? Is it going to be shared with a few friends? Or maybe with the world?

As an up and coming author, it became apparent that I was going to need to start writing a blog. Not only for honing the craft, but also to get my name and writing out there for the public to read. It is fine to journal and write for myself, but if I want to get a book published and be successful, I have to put my writing out there. Not only is the blog important for promoting my writing, but I also have to recruit other authors and readers to follow me on it. Just like I had to do with Facebook and Twitter. Most authors I have talked to say it takes a while to build the following from scratch. I have found that it also takes daily attention to make it happen.

At the beginning of 2016, I started my Monday Morning Blog posts. Not only has it been a fun and educational journey for me, it has also worked out well to get on a writing schedule for about 1000 words a week on something that is separate from my novel project. It has also enabled me to give my followers a weekly post to check out and read every Monday.

Many of my blog posts are a combination of creative writing and researched facts online. I often find it is fun to just start writing about something random and see where things go. I took a writing class in college many years ago that talked about Rush Writing. It is a writing method where you just start writing about whatever comes to your mind at the time. For me right now, I’m thinking about a calculator. So that would be my subject to write about. I’ll have to use that as a writing prompt someday. It is a great way to get the writing head warmed up and get some creative work done. By using that method, I have written some pretty neat things and when I have added them to my other writing, it has given those projects an extra boost.

Then there are the writing prompts I have used to get the creative juices flowing too. I actually used writing prompts as the subjects of my April 2016 blogs. They not only gave me something unique to write about each week, it also gave the readers a little different feel for what my blog can give to them. For one of them, I had no idea what I was going to write about and I just let the story role out onto the computer. It actually became a mini story of its own. You can check it out with this link, Writing Prompt #3 from April 18, 2016.

All of this blogging is in addition to working on my first novel that I’m planning to self publish by the end of this year. I also have two additional novels, one as a draft and one in idea/outline stage ready follow it to complete a trilogy. The blogging and recruiting followers on social media not only helps readers get to know me, it also paves a path to market my books on, once they are ready. It also keeps this soon to be published author very busy.

May Holidays continued

When I posted Monday’s blog about Mother’s Day I noticed that we had two weeks in a row with holidays. Whether they are national holidays or Hallmark holidays, it made me wonder what the weekend of May 14th and 15th could hold this year. I looked at a calendar and saw that the 21st is Armed Forces Day and the 30th is the Monday of Memorial Day weekend, but no big things were posted for this weekend. So, I decided to continue my search elsewhere.

When I typed holidays on May 15th into Google, it came up with some days that were declared to be on May 15th like Stepmother’s Day and National Chocolate Chip Day. As important as those days are, it just wasn’t what I was looking for to be the topic for this week’s blog. So, I looked at birthdays that fell on May 15th and I found one that interested me, an author. It was Laura Hillebrand, the author of the book Seabiscuit: An American Legend.

Not only am I intrigued by authors, but since the 142nd running of the Kentucky Derby is in our recent history, it seemed appropriate to write about her and the horse that she based her book on. According to Wikipedia, Seabiscuit was a champion thoroughbred. He was foaled (born) in Lexington, KY on May 23, 1933. The mare (mom) was Swing On and the sire (dad) was Hard Tack. Seabiscuit was a smaller than most thoroughbreds with his height only being 5’2, ironically as tall as me.

Since he wasn’t living up to his racing potential at Wheatley Stable in Paris, KY, he was purchased by Charles Howard for a bargain. Howard left the horse in the hands of two men, whose job it was to make him into a better race horse. His trainer, Tom Smith, and the jockey Red Pollard, worked with him and brought him out of his shell.

He raced during the Depression as kind of an underdog and became a hero to the people at a time when people needed one. Due to the beating triple crown winner, War Admiral, at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, he became the American Horse of the Year in 1938. After coming back from a ligament injury, he won the La Jolla Handicap at Santa Anita in 1940. He retired after that as horse racing’s all time money winner.

Sea Sovereign, one of the horses that Seabiscuit was a sire to, did some horse racing and was in a movie about his Dad with Shirley Temple called The Story of Seabiscuit in 1949. He took the role of this father in this fictionalized account about his life.

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Being an author myself, I’m intrigued with the writing journeys of other authors. It was fun to find Laura Hillebrand  through such a random series of things. The fact she had written a book I enjoyed made it even better.

Her book was published in 2001 and was adapted into a feature film in 2003. I remember going to the theater to see it with my Godson. I really enjoyed it.

But, I was sad to find out she suffers from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. She was diagnosed in 1987 while she attended college. According to an interview by Monica Hesse, a Washington Post Staff Writer on  November 28, 2010, Hillebrand says that she copes with her disease by detaching herself completely from any aspirations she would have for her own life.

According to Biography.com,  she loved to ride horses as a teenager. She was even considering the idea of pursuing a career as a jockey. Her interest in horses and history led her to write articles about horseracing and have them published in magazines. She did most of this writing while she was staying with her future husband in Chicago, where  he was doing grad work at the University of Chicago. While she was doing research for these articles, she came across the information about Seabiscuit. It was an unlikely story of a less than perfect horse finding huge success on the track. The perfect story idea for a book. This became the theme of what would become one of her best selling novels.

Unfortunately, when the book Seabiscuit was released, she had a relapse from her disease. From that point on, she was unable to leave her house or even meet with many people.

Aaron Gell from Elle.com did an interview with Laura on December 2, 2010 and asked her about Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Here’s what she had to say about her writing process,

“I climb into these stories because I don’t want to be here,” she says, “I don’t want to be in this body and I don’t want to be in this place, so I’m on that raft. It takes a while to get my concentration to that level, and then I lose all track of time.”

Using research and writing as an escape is how she copes with her disease and still continue to write. I know that I run to my writing to escape real life sometimes. Joining the story with characters that I’ve created.

I was intrigued by her because I loved her book. Then when I learned more about her, I was even more intrigued with who she is and how she was able to write. By looking at her website, you wouldn’t know that she suffers from a disease with no cure that keeps her at home quite a bit of the time. As a reader, all we see is the end product. We don’t see the blood, sweat and tears that went into making that book. As an author myself, I read books from a different angle. I’ve been honing my craft for many years and am finally on the cusp of publishing my first book. But, after blogging about Laura Hillebrand, now I have another thing to keep in mind when I’m reading. What is the author overcoming to bring their writing and their story to the public? Is it a physical illness? An emotional journey? Or maybe trying to make it happen with life being a constant interrupt?

Even though I didn’t have a specific holiday to write about, the research for this week’s blog took me on a little different, but fun, writing journey.