[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

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[Guest Post] A Sleepy Hollow Inspired Chase Scene by P.T. Michelle

A Sleepy Hollow Inspired Chase Scene
by P.T. Michelle

If you don’t remember anything else from the short story The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving, you remember the chase scene! Irving sets the scene with a quirky, flawed character in Ichabod Crane who fully believes in the supernatural. Painting Ichabod into an interesting backdrop of a small, sleepy town full of old legends and a rivalry for a woman’s affection, Irving sets up the perfect scenario for Ichabod’s inevitable run in with the Headless Horseman on a lone dark road sprinkled with creepy night sounds, shadows around every corner, and patches of dense woods.

When I write a chase scene, especially one that takes place in darkened woods, the Headless Horseman scene is usually in the back of my mind. Whether the Headless Horseman was real or not, Ichabod’s fear certainly was: will he be able to out run his pursuer? the fear of learning the villain’s identity–is he real or supernatural, and what will happen to him if he’s caught? I try to incorporate all those emotions within my own characters.

Check out the chase scene below from my YA BRIGHTEST KIND OF DARKNESS. 

Shit!” One of them yelled as I disappeared into the bank of trees.

“She’s just a girl. She can’t get far. Go around, I’ll follow her!” a gruff voice ordered.

I entered the forest on a well-worn path, running straight ahead. When I saw that the woods only went so far in the direction I was headed, I veered off the path. Staying within the thick protection of the trees, I alternately cursed and praised the darkness. I’d run a quarter mile in when I heard the blond guy’s gruff voice sing-song “Narrr-ah”, then deepened in a growl of anger, “Come here, you little bitch!”

Panic shot through me, but my lungs were on fire, so I quickly stopped and threw my back against a thick oak tree, doing my best not to pant or make any noise.

I thought back to the day Ethan had helped jumpstart my car. I’d assumed I’d left my headlights on, but now with these two psychos chasing me, I realized those guys probably turned my lights on to drain my battery so they could “offer” me a ride. That’ll teach me to lock my car.

Why were they after me? And why did the names Kurt and Jay sound so familiar? I wracked my brain trying to remember, but the fear pumping through my veins scattered my thoughts like the leaves falling from the trees around me.

The blond one had stopped running. The underbrush rustled as he walked a few steps, then stopped. Probably listening for my footsteps in the thick leaves.

I heard the dark-headed guy running through the woods too, but he’d run the opposite way from me and had apparently doubled back.

“Jay, that you?” The blond, not more than ten feet away from me, yelled out in the dim light.

“Yeah, I haven’t seen her yet,” Jay answered from afar.

“Go to the edge of the woods and make sure she doesn’t come out that way,” Kurt said. His friend immediately headed off to his right, away from us.

Rustling kicked up once more. Every leaf-crunching step brought him closer, making my stomach twist. He was less than five feet away now.

“I know you’re in here, somewhere between Jay and me,” he said. “You’ve already cost me fifty bucks. Don’t piss me off any more.” His footsteps stopped, then thumped the ground hard, followed by a grunt of annoyance.

I can’t believe he’s after me over fifty dollars. So the “pretending to be offended that I’d dissed them” was just an act? Still, I had no clue why I’d cost him any money at all. I scanned the woods, looking for a path I could take that would allow me to work my way around toward the soccer field and my car in the lot beyond.

BRIGHTEST KIND OF DARKNESS, BOOK 1

Nara Collins is an average sixteen-year-old, with one exception: every night she dreams the events of the following day. Due to an incident in her past, Nara avoids using her special gift to change fate…until she dreams a future she can’t ignore.

After Nara prevents a bombing at Blue Ridge High, her ability to see the future starts to fade, while people at school are suddenly being injured at an unusually high rate.

Grappling with her diminishing powers and the need to prevent another disaster, Nara meets Ethan Harris, a mysterious loner who seems to understand her better than anyone. Ethan and Nara forge an irresistible connection, but as their relationship heats up, so do her questions about his dark past.


Read an excerpt | Watch the Book Trailer

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

LUCID: BRIGHTEST KIND OF DARKNESS, BOOK 2

Once Nara combines her prophetic ability with Ethan’s power to outsmart Fate at his own deadly cat-and-mouse game, she’s more determined than ever to help Ethan learn the meaning behind the raven sword tattoo that suddenly appeared on his back after their confrontation with Fate.

During her quest to uncover the tattoo’s secrets, Nara enlists the help of some new friends and discovers her own surprising connection to Ethan.

While Nara digs deeper into the mystery, her desire for answers leads her down a dangerous path full of powerful and ruthless enemies. Swept into an age-old battle, Nara quickly learns that keeping one’s enemies close can be a necessary evil, making an intangible enemy she can control far more preferable to the human enemies she can’t. 

Read an excerpt

Amazon | Barnes and Noble
ABOUT P.T. MICHELLE

P.T. Michelle is author of the young adult series BRIGHTEST KIND OF DARKNESS. When P.T. isn’t writing, she can usually be found reading or taking pictures of landscapes, sunsets and anything beautiful or odd in nature.

LINKS: Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Pinterest | Newsletter

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!

[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/

[Guest Post] Sleepy Hollow: Fantasy Brought To Life by Stephen Morris

Sleepy Hollow? I clearly remember watching the Disney animated version of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” as a youngster and I clearly remember reading the original story in a small, beige book I found on our family bookshelves one afternoon. I read the story in that small book many times over the years. But I always assumed that the town of Sleepy Hollow was as much a fictional creation of Washington Irving as the escapades of Ichabod Crane, the Headless Horseman, and the rest of the characters. The name itself of the town sounded like an artificial creation to me, growing up in a neighborhood of Seattle in the 1960s and 70s. What real town would ever be named “Sleepy Hollow?!”

Then I came back east to attend college. The arrival of the acceptance letter from Yale was my ticket out of Boredom and Exile and an admission into everything I thought life ought to be! Flying from Seattle to JFK in early September 1976 was the first time I had ever been in an airplane. Escaping the prison that I felt Seattle to be and arriving on the East Coast was already a foray into an urban-fantasy-come-true! But then, that autumn, as I was talking to a recent graduate during one afternoon shift of my student aid job at the Anthropology Library, he remarked in passing that he would be visiting a friend of his that weekend in a picturesque Hudson Valley village known as Sleepy Hollow.

“Sleepy Hollow?!” I exclaimed. “It exists? It’s real?” I was dumbstruck.

“Sure, it’s real,” he chided me, laughing. “It’s a real place, though I’m not so sure the Horseman is.”

That was the beginning of a series of mythical places suddenly becoming real, earthbound locations. London was suddenly closer and cheaper to reach than Seattle was. I could feel the axis which the world rotated around suddenly shift beneath my feet. New York was within striking distance as well, less than a two-hour train ride from New Haven. One day, walking with friends from the metropolitan NYC area along First Avenue, we walked under a large overpass whose concrete walls were carved to imitate rough-hewn stone.

“Remember the song, ‘Feelin’ Groovey?’ The one called the ‘Fifty-Ninth Street Bridge Song’?” one unexpectedly asked as we passed into the shadows beneath the underpass.

“Of course,” I replied, unsure why he was suddenly interested in my memory of that particular song.

“Well, this is the Fifty-Ninth Street Bridge.” He pointed to the wall and the massive structure it supported.

My feet froze. I stared at him and then at the stonework around us. It felt like I was seeing clouds and ether materialize around us, dreams taking substantial form in the waking world, an extra-dimensional door opening and taking solid form before my eyes.

Everyone else kept walking but then burst out laughing when they realized that I had frozen in place.

I reached out and carefully poked at the concrete walls, afraid I might disrupt the magic and the whole bridge suddenly disappear. But the stone was solid and rough to my touch. The bridge remained above us. As I walked to the next street, my fingers trailed along the wall beside me. I was touching myth and legend made stone.

Years later, I drove with a friend to visit mutual acquaintances who had recently moved to Sleepy Hollow. It was a village of picturesque houses and soothing river views along the Hudson and I had the sensation again of feathery, delicate dreams settling on the earth and taking on materiality. It was a warm, sunny Sunday afternoon in the early spring but a distinctly chilly shiver rippled down my spine as I opened the swinging gate in their picket fence.

Not even an appearance by the Headless Horseman himself could have been more fantastic than the ability to touch myth and music incarnate on those afternoons.

About the Author: Stephen has degrees in medieval history and theology from Yale and St. Vladmir’s Orthodox Theological Academy. A former priest, he served as the Eastern Orthodox chaplain at Columbia University. His previous academic writing has dealt primarily with Late Antiquity and Byzantine church life. “Come Hell or High Water” is his debut novel.

Book Available at:
Kindle and paperback on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Come-Hell-High-Water-Part/dp/0984773126/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1346427751&sr=8-1&keywords=come+hell+morris

eBook on Nook: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/come-hell-or-high-water-part-one-stephen-morris/1111794614?ean=2940014626972

[Guest Post] Author Sandra Sookoo Takes On Her Fear of the Headless Horseman

We’re kicking off the Sleepy Hollow guest posts with author Sandra Sookoo. Her recent release is about werewolves in the Civil War! Read on for an excerpt and a giveaway! 

Thanks for having me on your blog today!

I love the legend of Sleepy Hollow. As a child it was one of my favorites. Of course, me being a Disney freak, the version that sticks close to me is the Disney version. I’ll never forget the first time I saw the headless horseman gallop onto the animated screen with a flaming pumpkin under his arm to bedevil poor Ichabod Crane!

Since then I’ve devoured every remake and version that’s been put to screen and book. One of my other favorites is the Johnny Depp version, Sleepy Hollow. To this day Christopher Walken’s portrayal of the horseman gives me the creeps. And who can forget that eerie tree that sucks people down into the ground?

Brrrr!

This year, I’ll be experiencing a first for me. Every year the local living history museum, Conner Prairie, puts on the ride of the Headless Horseman. They have a really nice bridge over a stream there. The first time I saw it, I could well imagine the area being blanketed with chilly darkness with dry leaves crunching beneath my feet, and in the distance, the unmistakable whinny of a worse. Couple that with the mocking laughter of a headless horseman… And yes, I’m the biggest baby for scary stuff that ever lived so I’ll be the forty-year-old woman in the hayride wagon screaming her fool head off at some bit of make believe. LOL

I love this time of year—not for the scary stuff but for the imagining of the scary stuff!

I’d love to connect with you around the web! Here’s where you can find me:
Website:  http://www.sandrasookoo.com
Believing is Seeing blog:  http://sandrasookoo.wordpress.com/
Twitter:  http://twitter.com/sandrasookoo
Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/sandra.sookoo
Goodreads:  http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2931453.Sandra_Sookoo

A Wolfish Tangle

In the mood for a bit of werewolf fun? I’ve brought the blurb for my latest release A WOLFISH TANGLE. It’s the sequel to A Wolfish Scandal. What could be better than a story set in the Civil War era and the hero is a werewolf besides?

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

While the War Between the States grips America, Franklin Garrett fights his own battle.  A wolf shifter, he successfully manages Rutledge Estates, but he’s a failure at romance.  When an old family foes resurfaces and threatens his idyllic life, he sends his cousin Grey and his wife Lyndal away for their safety.  Unfortunately, a different sort of peril lands right on his doorstep, stirring his protectiveness and sense of duty.

Caroline Harrison’s brother is detained in Camp Morton, a Union war prison in Indianapolis. Led by intuition, she arrives at Rutledge Estates, where she’s promptly kissed by an inebriated Franklin.  Her personal desires collide with her devotion to her family and her personal promises, yet Southern charm will see her through. Though she’s had enough of arrogant men, she needs his help to spring her brother.

When the man who decimated the Rutledge wolf pack shows up, both Franklin and Caroline must figure out what’s more important in life—family or love?

Excerpt

A gust of wind caught a tendril of her hair. It streamed behind her in a dark ribbon. “Though I doubt the wisdom in that plan now. Southern men, and especially those in my social circle, aren’t willing to invest in a headstrong female. Whatever else I am, I will always be that.”

“There is a certain appreciation in knowing your biggest flaw is also your greatest strength.” Here was the opening he needed. “What are you searching for in a man, a mate? You’d already indicated you wouldn’t consider a werewolf, so I’m curious.” Though he attempted a nonchalant stance, he couldn’t control the wild beating of his heart. He wanted the chance to change her mind, wanted the ability to say she should try pursuing a man from Northern roots—him.

“If you’d have asked me that question a week ago, my answer would have been an adamant no to courting another werewolf.” She chewed her bottom lip.

“And now?”

Her shoulders lifted with a shrug. “I might be changing my mind.”

“Why?” He had to know.

Her breath came in shallow pants. “You, but I don’t understand why.”

“Ah.” Franklin fought the urge to bundle her into his arms. If he did that, he wouldn’t be able to stop himself with merely holding her. The passions simmering just below the surface would take over and he’d be lost. “Not all men are like your husband. Believe it or not, some of us still have honor and practice respect.”

She gathered her hair over a shoulder. The length covered one breast and brushed her waist. “I still have my doubts.”

“I see.” He rubbed a hand along his jaw. “With your earlier slip of the tongue, you said ‘courting a werewolf.’ Will you take control in your next relationship?” The scene on the train flickered through his mind. She’d been more than willing to assume control then, yet she’d let him carry the lead. She was a delightful mix of controversy.

“That depends on the man.” The corner of Caroline’s mouth quirked in a grin. She continued to gaze over the lawn, her expression intense. “I want a man who won’t seek to dominate me, but won’t allow me to dominate him either. We’d be well-matched in temperament, charm, and attraction.”

“An ambitious ideal. You might need to employ some of your Southern charm in order to seduce him first.” Despite his tenuous frame of mind, Franklin grinned. “Any man worth his salt, werewolf or not, would find you an appealing challenge. The chase goes both ways, my dear, and you’d be well worth it.” Did he make a declaration? Did she understand what he was offering?

“Would you be daring, Mr. Garrett?” She didn’t move any closer, yet her body heat seemed to twine around him, tugging at him, drawing him in. She knew.

Excitement gripped him. He hadn’t wanted anything—anyone—as much as he wanted her in that moment. “It depends on the strength of your seduction ability.”

“You weren’t immune to me in the orchard.”

“True, but it could have been an aberration.”

“There was always the train.”

“Yes, but the session didn’t go very far, did it?” Why not attempt to bait the hook and see where she’d take their teasing? Was she serious about a romantic attachment or was she seeking only to play with his emotions? “Perhaps you weren’t trying as hard as you thought, or perhaps your potency doesn’t have an effect on me.” It took all his willpower not to look at her. He kept his gaze on the verandah’s flagstones.

“Too bad you feel thusly.”

Franklin raised his eyes to her face. Hers glittered with mischief. He had to know how she saw him, needed to ascertain her interest. “Out of curiosity, how would you attempt to seduce me?”

You can purchase A WOLFISH SCANDAL here:

Publisher buy link:  http://www.lsbooks.com/a-wolfish-tangle-p703.php

All Romance buy link: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-awolfishtangle-946723-139.html

Amazon buy link:  http://www.amazon.com/A-Wolfish-Tangle-ebook/dp/B009G9T8TU/ref=sr_1_37?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1348571604&sr=1-37

Giveaway

And, because fall and Halloween are my most favorite times of the year, I’ve brought a 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!

“The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” by Washington Irving

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
Washington Irving
short story

If you haven’t read “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” yet, you can download it for free from Project Gutenburg.

“The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” is narrated by Diedrich Knickerbocker, a character who really loves to describe the details, going so far as to take an entire paragraph to describe something as simple as a tree or the sun.

The tale is set near the Dutch settlement of Tarry Town, based on the real Tarrytown, New York, in a glen called Sleepy Hollow. Ichabod Crane is employed as the school master there. When not teaching, he makes himself useful teaching psalms and helping out on farms. According to our narrator, Ichabod is respected in the community despite his gangly appearance and love for local superstitions and legends.

Ichabod wants to win the hand of eighteen year old Katrina Van Tassel, who shall inherit her parents’ farm. Our narrator wishes us to believe Ichabod is interested in Katrina for the steady supply of food and transportation that shall become his upon marrying Katrina.

But someone else is also interested in marrying Katrina: Abraham Van Brunt, aka Brom Bones. Katrina encourages the interest of both men. Bones, we are to believe, is not so well liked in the community. He runs with a gang, making mischief and given that he is also described as broad-shouldered and arrogant– among other names– we know he is something of a bully.

Their rivalry comes to a head at the Van Tassel’s party when Katrina spends most of the night dancing with Ichabod, setting Bones into a jealous tail spin. However, at the end of the night she rebuffs Ichabod, sending the poor soul home, dejected, to pass through Sleepy Hollow at the witching hour.

With his head full of the ghost stories told at the party, including Bones’s own encounter with the Headless Horseman, Ichabod is surprised by a fellow traveler on the night road. He is further frightened when that traveler does not go around him, but follows and turns out to be the Headless Horseman himself.

Ichabod urges his horse to make a run for it, but the Headless Horseman gives chase through Sleepy Hollow, to a bridge famous for goblin stories, and the whitewash church beyond, where Ichabod believes he will be safe from the ghost rider.  But just as Ichabod reaches the bridge, the Headless Horseman hurls his severed head like a missile, striking Ichabod in the head.

The next morning, the horse is found, but Ichabod is not. A search party finds Ichabod’s hat on the bank of the stream near the bridge, and next to the hat, a shattered pumpkin.

We come to the end of the story learning our narrator heard the whole tale at a business meeting.

The devil is in the details. It would be easy enough to believe Bones attacked Ichabod on that bridge or that Ichabod, suffering the shame of Katrina’s rejection, skipped town that night. But there’s no way the narrator or the businessman would have knowledge of all those little details. There’s no way to know what’s true and what’s legend. Unless one of these men was Ichabod himself.

You’ll just have to decide for yourself.