[Guest Post] Choose Your Ending by Brian Jay Jones

Please welcome Washington Irving biographer, Brian Jay Jones. Brian’s is discussing the various endings to The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, and I can’t think of a better way to end this month of Sleepy Hollow Celebration!

CHOOSE YOUR ENDING
Brian Jay Jones

When Washington Irving’s short story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” appeared in bookstalls in London and the United States in 1820, there was nothing anywhere quite like it.  “It is a random thing,” Irving modestly said of it — but the thirty-six-year-old Irving had actually carefully blended together nuggets of the Dutch customs, stories, and characters with a bit of German folklore and a few dashes of American locations and attitudes to create something new and entirely different. Here was a ghost story taking place distinctly in America, and written by an American—but in a language so elegant that British readers were convinced Irving had to be a fellow Englishman.

“The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” was only one of more than thirty short stories and essays written by Washington Irving as part of The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, which he self-published in seven installments in 1819 and 1820. When “Sleepy Hollow” appeared in March 1820 — tucked among two other stories as part of The Sketch Book’s sixth installment — it was an immediate sensation both in Britain and the United States. Its success propelled Irving from a mere man of letters into an international superstar.

The legend itself has become so integrated into our American DNA that most of us think we know what the story is about, even if we’ve never read it. It’s true that Irving’s tale is more about mood than plot— most of it is actually set-up for the climactic chase most of us remember from the Walt Disney cartoon, with its memorable image of the Headless Horseman hurling a flaming pumpkin at gawky schoolteacher Ichabod Crane. But what else do we remember?

Irving spends much of his tale, in fact, introducing his characters and setting up the rivalry between Crane and the brash, practical-joke loving Brom Bones as they vie for the hand of the winsome (and wealthy) Katrina Van Tassel. Irving eventually brings the three together at a dinner party — where Crane hears the Dutch elders telling tales of the Headless Horseman — then sends the skittish Crane riding home on horseback through the dark spooky woods of Sleepy Hollow. From there it’s off and away into the woods and Crane’s breakneck pursuit by the Headless Horseman.

The pursuit of Ichabod Crane by the Horseman — and that thrown pumpkin that tumbles the schoolteacher from his horse — is the moment we remember. But when I talk about Irving before audiences, I always ask if anyone can tell me how the story actually ends –- and faces almost always go blank. But that’s okay—because what most of us don’t remember is that Irving gives us not just one ending to his tale, but three – a clever conceit that allows you, as the reader, to decide which one you prefer.

The first ending provided by Irving is the creepier, Hammer horror film ending:

The next morning (writes Irving) . . . [i]n one part of the road leading to the church was found [Crane’s] saddle trampled in the dirt; the tracks of horses’ hoofs deeply dented in the road, and evidently at furious speed, were traced to the bridge, beyond which, on the bank of a broad part of the brook, where the water ran deep and black, was found the hat of the unfortunate Ichabod, and close beside it a shattered pumpkin.

The brook was searched, but the body of the schoolmaster was not to be discovered . . .

Don’t like that one? Here’s the second:

It is true, an old farmer, who had been down to New York on a visit several years after, and from whom this account of the ghostly adventure was received, brought home the intelligence that Ichabod Crane was still alive; that he had left the neighborhood partly through fear of the goblin and … that he had changed his quarters to a distant part of the country; had kept school and studied law at the same time; had been admitted to the bar; turned politician; electioneered; written for the newspapers; and finally had been made a justice of the Ten Pound Court.

Did Ichabod Crane really survive his midnight ride through Sleepy Hollow, then? If so, was there really a Headless Horseman? And what became of Brom Bones and Katrina Van Tassel? Irving answers our questions in the story’s true payoff:

Brom Bones, too, who, shortly after his rival’s disappearance conducted the blooming Katrina in triumph to the altar, was observed to look exceedingly knowing whenever the story of Ichabod was related, and always burst into a hearty laugh at the mention of the pumpkin; which led some to suspect that he knew more about the matter than he chose to tell.

Despite the punchline, Irving can’t resist wrapping up his story with a creepy flourish, swirling his cloak about him as he ends his tale and disappears into the fog:

The old country wives, however, who are the best judges of these matters, maintain to this day that Ichabod was spirited away by supernatural means; and it is a favorite story often told about the neighborhood round the winter evening fire. The bridge became more than ever an object of superstitious awe; and that may be the reason why the road has been altered of late years, so as to approach the church by the border of the millpond. The schoolhouse being deserted soon fell to decay, and was reported to be haunted by the ghost of the unfortunate pedagogue and the plowboy, loitering homeward of a still summer evening, has often fancied his voice at a distance, chanting a melancholy psalm tune among the tranquil solitudes of Sleepy Hollow.

Choose your ending—but whichever you prefer, savor for a moment the fact that you’ve just read the first great American ghost story, told by our first great American author and international bestseller.

About the Author: Award-winning biographer Brian Jay Jones spent two decades as a writer, speechwriter, and public policy analyst, serving elected officials at three levels of government, including nearly ten years in the United States Senate. Despite this background, he writes nonfiction.

Brian’s first book, Washington Irving: An American Original, was hailed as the definitive biography of American literature’s first popular author and pop culture icon. The Associated Press praised the book as “authoritative,” the Washington Post’s Michael Dirda called it, “engaging, clearly written, and well researched,” while the New York Times summed it up simply as “charming.”

In 2010, Brian was awarded the St. Nicholas Society of New York’s Washington Irving Medal for Literary Excellence, joining David McCullough, Ron Chernow, Christopher Buckley, and William Zinsser on the list of medal recipients.

When he’s not writing, he loves listening to classic jazz and blues, admires the films of Charlie Chaplin, reads anything having to do with Batman or the Beatles, and generally succeeds in trying the patience of his wife.

He is presently at work on the first grown-up biography of Jim Henson.

WASHINGTON IRVING: An American OriginalAmazon CA | Amazon US | Goodreads

Changes Happening Here

This site will be getting a makeover on Monday, so things might be wonky for the next couple of days– nothing to do with Frankenstorm! The site might even be down for a while on Monday. Once all is said and done, you should be able to find your way to the new site via the old urbanfantasyland.wordpress.com, but just in case you get lost, the new url will be: www.kaleidoscopereviews.com, though it too will be wonky.

See you soon!

The Sleepy Hollow Celebration Continues!

We’ve had lots of fun with Washington Irving’s tale this month, and there still more to come! Here’s a recap of the posts so far:

Guest – Adrienne Clarke – The Enduring Power of Scary Stories

Guest – Stephen Morris – Fantasy Brought to Life

Guest – Sandra Sookoo – The Headless Horseman

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow TV movie 1980

“The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” by Washington Irving

Be sure to check Sandra Sookoo’s post for details on her giveaway. And the fun’s not over yet! Tomorrow we have author P.T. Michelle (Patrice Michelle) with her Sleepy Hollow inspired chase scene. Be sure to check it out! And next week, Washington Irving biographer, Brian Jay Jones will be here!

So break out the candy corn and get ready to fling pumpkins at timid school teachers– er, no. You know what I mean!

[Indie Sunday] THE ARTIST’S INHERITANCE by Juli D. Revezzo

Welcome to “Indie Sunday”! Each week Urban Fantasy Land features independent or small press published authors.

THE ARTIST’S INHERITANCE
Juli D. Revezzo

Cover Copy: Settling into their new home in Gulf Breeze, Florida, Caitlin finds strange changes coming over her husband Trevor. He seems obsessed with a beautiful chair he’s carving.

When the nightmares deepen and ghosts begin lurking—she knows something’s not right, and not just her newfound precognitive abilities. It’s the damned chair, she’s sure. Could it be just what it seems: a mundane piece of furniture? If so, why is it attracting dark forces—the forces she suspects drove Trevor’s siblings to insanity and suicide?

Before the same happens to Trevor, Caitlin must convince him to sell his art. But armed with only a handful of allies, and little experience of the supernatural, she must proceed with caution against the hellish forces besieging her family. If she succeeds, she will break the ancestral curse. If she fails, she may lose forever the one thing she cares about most: her beloved Trevor.

The Artist’s Inheritance is available for Kindle:
http://www.amazon.com/Artists-Inheritance-Antique-Magic-ebook/dp/B008XL82IU/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1345040600&sr=1-1

and in paperback:
http://www.amazon.com/Artists-Inheritance-Antique-Magic/dp/1479188972/ref=la_B008AHVTLO_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1349117936&sr=1-3

for all other ebook formats:
http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/jdrevezzo

About the Author: Juli D. Revezzo has long been in love with writing, a love built by devouring everything from the Arthurian legends, to the works of Michael Moorcock, and the classics and has a soft spot for classic the “Goths” of the 19th century, in love of which she received a Bachelor’s degree in literature from the University of South Florida. Her short fiction has been published in Dark Things II: Cat Crimes, The Scribing Ibis, Eternal Haunted Summer, Twisted Dreams Magazine and Luna Station Quarterly. She also has an article and book review or two out there. But her heart lies in the storytelling. She is a member of the Independent Author Network. The Artist’s Inheritance is her first novel.

Juli D. Revezzo’s site links:
http://julidrevezzo.com
on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Juli-D.-Revezzo/e/B008AHVTLO/
on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/JD-Revezzo/233193150037011
On Good Reads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5782712.Juli_D_Revezzo
on Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/111476709039805267272/posts
on Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/jdrevezzo
on Twitter: http://twitter.com/julidrevezzo

[Guest Post] Sleepy Hollow: The Enduring Power of Scary Tales by Adrienne Clarke

The Enduring Power of Scary Tales
by Adrienne Clarke

I like scary stories, the darker and more mysterious the better. People are often surprised by my penchant for horror, perhaps because I don’t look the part. I’m too girly, too soft spoken, and I have almost no black clothes. My love of all things gothic might be a less visible aspect of my personality, but it burns brightly underneath my pastel exterior.

Like many people, my love of scary stories started early, and one of the first scary stories to make a deep impression on me was The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. In many ways this tale was a departure for me.  With neither looks nor charm to recommend him, Ichabod Crane was not the sort of hero I was used to. The absence of superior strength, intelligence, or wit made him vulnerable and touchingly human. A passionate reader of fairy tales, Ichabod seemed a rather sorry figure compared to my golden dashing princes, who fought dragons and cut down walls of thorns. Still, there is something about the underdog, the ordinary person, which arouses our interest and enlists our support.

Undoubtedly ordinary, Ichabod was not devoid of admirable qualities. I liked his tenacity, his daring to pursue his heart’s desire in the face so much adversity. Difficult not to feel sympathy for an outsider in this odd place where “… a contagion in the very air… breathed forth an atmosphere of dreams and fancies infecting all the land.”

Our appetite for scary stories shows no signs of going away. Awash in horror movies, TV shoes, and books that look for new ways to frighten its audience, so how does The Legend of Sleepy Hollow endure? One reason, I think is the tale’s ambiguity. Was Ichabod the victim of a cruel hoax? Was the vision of the headless horseman real? Or a trick of his fevered imagination? The story challenges the reader to decide whether Ichabod’s fate was human or supernatural. Too often, stories beat us over the head, telling us what we are supposed to think and feel. While frustrating to some, I find the idea of not knowing for certain, for having to make up my own mind exhilarating.

The best stories make us call upon our own powers of imagination. Do we believe or not? Can we enter that sleepy town, mysterious wood, or dark grotto and emerge unchanged, or belief system intact? Or are we changed somehow? Of one thing I am certain: Reading scary stories has changed the way I see the world. Like the inhabitants of sleepy hollow, strange and mysterious happenings form part of my consciousness. I peer carefully around dark corners, wondering with a mixture of fear and awe what might be on the other side. My fear is part of what makes me a writer. I like to explore those dark places, to travel down that dark and lonely road, even when I’m uncertain of what I might find there.

Adrienne Clarke’s debut YA fantasy novel TO DANCE IN LIRADON was recently released from Soul Mate Publishing.

Website: http://adrienneclarkewriter.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/#!/ToDanceInLiradon

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/AdrienneLClarke

TO DANCE IN LIRADON is available at:

http://www.soulmatepublishing.com/

http://www.amazon.com/

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/

Reminder: Things You Can Win between now and October 31st!

Did you see Sandra Sookoo’s awesome giveaway? Go to Sandra’s Sleepy Hollow guest post to enter. Thanks, Sandra for this fabulous giveaway!

One lucky commenter will receive book swag (postcards, bookmarks, etc.) plus a free download of one of my Halloween-themed books. You can choose from: Courtesans and Thieves, Hunter’s Moon Magic or Tail on the Moon. All blurbs can be found on my website.

Please be sure to leave your contact information and enter by October 31!

Have you entered Adrien-Luc Sanders’s contest? You have until Oct. 31st to enter.

Win $500 or $250 Visa Gift Cards or a manuscript crit if From the Ashes reaches the Amazon top 100!

Contest Rules / Entry Page | Buy on Amazon | Add to GoodReads

[Indie Sunday] THE LEGEND OF RACHEL PETERSEN by J.T. Baroni

Welcome to “Indie Sunday”! Each week Urban Fantasy Land features independent or small press published authors.

THE LEGEND OF RACHEL PETERSEN
J.T. BARONI

Having experienced the life-changing benefits that leader dogs have brought his Brother, author JT Baroni today announces his spooky new ghost story. As with any good book, there is a twist; Baroni will be donating proceeds from the book to a Michigan leader dog charity.

Following a year and a half of diligent development and editing, JT Baroni is delighted to announce that his latest paranormal tale, The Legend of Rachel Petersen, has been released through Damnation Books.

However, unlike most authors, Baroni won’t be taking the profits directly to his own bank account. Instead, Baroni plans to donate a portion of the proceeds to The Leader Dogs for the Blind – a charity based in Rochester Hills, Michigan. This organization has been providing free leader dog training and placement since 1939, directly changing the lives of thousands along the way.

“Over the past few decades I’ve directly experienced both the generosity and the impact of the vital services The Leader Dogs for the Blind provide,” says Baroni, whose Brother, Gene, has been blind since birth.

He continues, “The visually impaired depend, trust and rely on their dogs each and every day. I was actually Gene’s first ‘leader dog’ as a kid; we were totally inseparable. Since Adulthood he has had three canine companions and I want to ensure that the charity can continue to do their great work.”

Baroni admits to being constantly impressed by the ability of his Brother’s leader dog; helping Gene navigate around his home city of Philadelphia. However, the inspiration for The Legend of Rachel Petersen came from an experience near his home in rural Johnstown, Pennsylvania.

“I am an avid outdoorsman. There are some fascinating places to explore within walking distance of my home. Last year I discovered a grave, deep in the woods. This gave me the inspiration for my book,” he adds.

The eerily enthralling book follows Christian Kane, a thirty nine year-old sports writer who becomes lividly outraged when The Pittsburgh Gazette overlooks him for a well-deserved and coveted promotion. After quitting his job and moving to the country to write fiction, he is inspired by a grave he stumbles upon in the woods.

This experience compels Kane to write ‘The Legend of Rachel Petersen’ – a story about the dead twelve year-old girl who is buried beneath the weathered tombstone. His release unexpectedly climbs the country’s Best Seller lists and is turned into a hugely successful Hollywood movie. With his newfound wealth and fame, Kane is dumbfounded when Rachel rises from the grave, seeking revenge on him for slandering her name.

….Or, does she?

“As with any timeless classic, there is a twist at the end. In fact, there are two twists!” Baroni explains.

Even though the book has been received into the literary world with critical acclaim, Baroni is conscious not to lose sight of its real purpose.

“Raising a puppy to Leader Dog status is extremely time consuming and expensive. In fact, it averages around forty thousand dollars per dog. I hope that this book will, in some way, relieve the financial burden to The Leader Dogs for the Blind and allow them to continue their great work well into the future,” he concludes.

The Legend of Rachel Petersen is available now in both paperback and e-Book formats from all good online bookstores.

More information can be found at the book’s Amazon Homepage or at JT Baroni’s Official Website.

For a movie trailer of the book, click here.

About the Author: JT Baroni lives in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, a small town east of Pittsburgh. As long as he can remember, he has been an avid outdoorsman, and has always had a fondness for word games and great story-telling literature. His older brother, who was born blind, taught him the game of chess at an early age; consequently, he plays a mean game.

Along with his wife Becky and Son Skyler, Baroni shares their cozy home with a psychotic dog, a full-blooded boxer they christened ‘Butkus’. When he is not on the job as a transformer repairman with the local electric company, you’ll find him either hunting, fishing, or rooting for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Baroni has also penned several song lyrics, which have been professionally put to music and are currently signed with a music publisher.

GET THE BOOK:
Paperback and Download:
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-legend-of-rachel-petersen-jt-baroni/1107747868
http://www.amazon.com/Legend-Rachel-Petersen-J-T-Baroni/dp/1615725431
Download only:
http://www.damnationbooks.com/people.php?author=135