Book Review: Private Demons - The Life of Shirley Jackson by Judy Oppenheimer A Premier Biography

Premier: adj. first in rank or importance

Full disclosure: I was fully prepared to rip this author to shreds, purely based on a number of reviews I had read prior to reading the book. But from sentence one, I was engrossed, enthralled and enraptured at the unfolding of our beloved Shirley's life, warts and all. It is crystal clear to me now that the reason why the second biography of Shirley Jackson, 2016's A Rather Haunted Life by Ruth Franklin has received all the glowing reviews is because they didn't read this one first.

When I posted Private Demons on my social media channels, most people were not even aware that another biography existed. This is one of many reasons why I am on such a quest to bring awareness to vintage books. There is so much out there that will float into the abyss without due recognition, and that makes me very sad. Even within my specific niche, people are pretty much reading the same books, which also makes me very sad. 

As a writer myself (albeit not a professionally published one), I fully understand the scope of supporting new books by new authors, heck we all gotta eat. It's just that I believe people would expand their worlds and enrich their lives far more if they included even a few books from the past. I'm not talking about the classics, those are a given. I'm talking about titles basically unknown to the common man because they have been exiled to charity shops, Goodwill bins and the like. Thus is why I do what I do. But I digress...

Private Demons answers all the questions, and this is where Judy Oppenheimer's book shines; she gives us a very well-rounded view of Shirley and all aspects of her life, her works, her children, and especially the volatile marriage she couldn't live without (mayhap until very near the end) leaving the reader satisfied that they may well relate to our underappreciated heroine even more than they did before reading it. I personally will be on a crusade to acquire any copies I can for the shop, to help bring Private Demons back into the circulation of awareness for the die hard Shirley Jackson fans.

Introducing The International Paranormal Inquisitor Magazine

 It gives me great pleasure to finally announcement my involvement with a brand new magazine called The International Paranormal Inquisitor. When my friend Antonio asked me to join the contributing writing team, I felt like the clouds of my elusive writing career were beginning to lift.

The magazine covers all aspects of the paranormal, spiritual and metaphysical, leaving itself wide open to a cornucopia of related topics. For my part, I will most likely focus on these subjects in the form of book suggestions, and the passing on of valuable information from my own studies. Antonio has graciously given me creative control over my articles, which is a writer's dream come true!

Additionally, he has embraced my volunteering to act as proofreader, which thrills me to pieces, because it is something I have always wanted to do. I am far from an expert, but do seem to possess a keen eye for typos and grammatical errors, which usually doesn't make me very popular. However, Antonio encouraged me to be very forthcoming with my "red pencil", with the goal of making the magazine look its very best. Let's face it, it's difficult to expect readers to take you seriously when the text consists of more errors than facts.

 At this time, the magazine is issued quarterly, and the downloadable version of Issue #1 is available right now via the Paranormal Energy Norway website, with a print version coming shortly. Printed versions will be available in the Etsy Shop very soon, so stay tuned for that announcement.

I especially love that this is an International undertaking, encompassing experience and information from all over the world instead of just here in the US. Anything that helps bring people together to educate and entertain, as well as celebrate cultural differences and lifestyles, is something I am proud to be a part of in any capacity.

You can follow IPI on Facebook and Instagram (@ipi_paranormal_magazine) feel free to follow and reach out. The magazine is very easy to access and read on all forms of devices, but for those who prefer a physical medium (like me!), we are working on the printed version as I write this. Please join us!

My 2018 Reading Challenge Results and Changes for the New Year

So long 2018, smell ya later! I know for a lot of people, this past year wasn't the best. For myself, it was just another rollercoaster year of extreme highs and extreme lows...with heavy emphasis on the lows,. But I'm not gonna talk about that here. Today I wanted to share with you my first ever Reading Challenge results, nothing to write home about, but it is rather interesting to look back on a year in books. Come along...

I wish there were an easy way to post the results as a page like this one (or mayhap there is but I am clueless as to how to do it) so I'll just go over the highlights:
  • My reading goal was to finish 30 books.
  • I completed 39 books by the end of the day on Dec. 31st, 2018, making a total of nearly 11,000 pages read!
  • My average rating was 3.6 (I don't give 4 & 5 stars lightly, these are reserved for books that I feel are uncommonly good.
  • 4 titles were by Shirley Jackson. Part of my goal-within-a-goal is to read ALL of her work. Technically I could call it 7 titles, as there was a 3-books-in-one omnibus included.
  • 5 titles were non-fiction. I'd like to up that a bit.
This year, I've upped my reading challenge to 50 books. A small feat by a lot of people's standards, but I'm a busy lady and a bit of slow reader. Hopefully I can continue to increase it as time goes on. Follow me on Goodreads if you want to keep up with my reading shenanigans, I'm trying to be diligent about writing reviews on each book as I finish it.

Next, I thought I'd go over a few changes that I'm making to the blog and Etsy Shop. As you may know by now, I've closed my website for good, and am operating solely out of the Etsy Shop. This is the first time since opening LaCreeperie in 2014 that I've only had one shop going. Sometimes business decisions are easy to make and hard to execute; or easy to execute and hard to maintain, depending on the nature of the business and the changes implemented.

As for the blog, I really enjoy the once a week schedule, however the holidays sure blew that method out of the water. My hope is to get back up on that horse (for the ga-zillionth time) and resume that schedule. The biggest problem I have with frequent blog posts isn't finding the time to write them, it's finding the content to write about. 

If you've followed me for any length of time, I'm sure you're aware that I have no interest in writing about the same old things everyone else and their mother writes about. Take the movie mini-reviews for example, I really, really enjoyed writing those, but no one cares. No one. OK, maybe one or two people. And I know the purpose of a blog is to put out the content YOU, as the writer, wants to put out. But when I put all this time and energy into something and no one pays any attention, well the wind falls promptly out of my sails, and I drop whatever it is and move on to the next thing.

With that, a recent snit over someone's assholish comment on their opinions on their own feed have turned me off to reviews of any kind. Opinions. Everybody's got 'em, and everyone feels only THEY are right and I'm just not that interested in adding to that endless pile of white noise. So alas, movie mini-reviews are no more. It's kind of a bummer, because I was planning on making a 'zine out of the reviews, with some added content to make a fun little publication. C'est la vie. I really need to focus on getting more of my other writing out there as another stream of income before I'm too old to even try.

I know a lot of this sounds negative, and it really isn't meant to be. It's actually just the way I've had to operate during the last 15 years of online retailing, and figuring out what works and what doesn't. This year, I am teaching myself Astrology and Numerology, and have already learned that the mission in this life, for me, is FREEDOM. That was an incredibly enlightening piece of information to learn, and makes so much sense looking back on my life's journey up to now.

So. What that tells me is not to give up and get some shitty job just to help pay the bills, I’ve come this far for this long, it ain't gonna change overnight. It actually fuels my fire to continue to sell books (and various other items), and to pursue my dream of supporting myself and my husband with the fruits of my writing. It's gotta happen sometime, right?

Happy New Year everyone, I hope all of your plans and dreams come to fruition. We sure need it after the shit-show that was 2018, but maybe it's what's gotten us to stir the pot and shake things up a bit. Kind of like the Punk movement in 1976-77. Oi!