Thursday, September 20, 2012

Featured Author – Jeri Walker-Bickett

Our next featured author, Jeri Walker-Bickett, piqued my interest with her book, Popular Poe Stories in Plain English. First, I must confess that I haven’t read Poe, not even in college. Second, I always loved Shakespeare but people have complained about not understanding the writing. The thing is, I have always unraveled Shakespeare in my head and matched it to today’s English, and in a sense this is what Jeri has done with Poe.

Jeri Walker-Bickett was born and raised in Wallace, Idaho, a rough and tumble mining town with a checkered past. The storytelling urge struck at a young age, but an undergraduate degree in writing led to a graduate degree in English education. Between living the scholarship-laden life of an academic bum, she did seasonal work in national parks. Jeri met her future husband in Yellowstone and they later married in Las Vegas. This phase in their lives sparked an obsession with food and travel. Fate has intervened to allow her to take time off from the classroom. Her forthcoming novel, Lost Girl Road, is a ghost story that takes place in the woods of northwest Montana. She currently lives in North Carolina with her husband and their pets.

Popular Poe Stories in Plain English Synopsis

Five of Edgar Allan Poe's most popular short stories have been rewritten in a plain English version that is more accessible to today's readers. The content has not been shortened or simplified. Modernized paraphrases of the following stories are inlcuded: "The Cask of Amontillado," "The Masque of the Red Death," "The Oval Portrait," "The Pit and the Pendulum," and "The Tell-Tale Heart."

Since I was curious as to how Jeri rewrote the stories, I purchased Popular Poe Stories in Plain English yesterday and I’m halfway through. The cover matches the book beautifully—coinciding with the story, The Masque of the Red Death. If you’re not familiar with Poe and would like to read his short stories but are too intimated, then I suggest you get yourself a copy of this book. You will not be disappointed.

Here’s an excerpt from The Masque of the Red Death:

For a long time a deadly plague known as the Red Death had spread over the land. No virus had ever killed so many or been considered so dreadful. A sure-sign was all the disgusting blood involved. It announced its presence with light headedness, followed by bleeding from the surface of the skin, and inevitably death from all the blood loss. The mess that leaked from the sick person, specifically the blood oozing from the face, made it impossible for anybody to help the victim. The course of the disease from start to finish took only thirty minutes.

How did the idea come about?

Writing this book provided a way for Jeri to overcome severe writer's block and it also got her back into a regular writing routine. As a teacher, many of her students always struggled with grasping Poe's language. This is her way of bringing Poe to those who might feel his writing style is too old-fashioned.

Why Self-Publish?

Jeri decided to self-publish to make up for the valuable writing time she lost to teaching. Indeed, Kindle's popularity helped bring back her desire to write. Her motto has always been "slow and steady wins the race," and she has taken the past year to learn the ropes of being an indie author. Jeri’s Poe eBook provided the chance to learn how to format a cover as well as gain experience formatting text for a successful upload to Kindle. Jeri still plans to query agents once she finishes drafting Lost Girl Road, but in the meantime, she will also self-publish the novel.

Link to Amazon Purchase:
Author Blog and Website: 
Facebook Page:

I want to thank Jeri Walker-Bickett for giving me the opportunity to enjoy Edgar Allan Poe’s stories. For those self-published authors out there looking for a hired critique, proofreader or copy editor, I also suggest you start with Jeri’s editing services (knowledge in MLA, APA, and CMS guidelines). Not only is she a writer, but an editor as well. I know I’ll be hiring her for my next novel. Thanks Jeri for being a featured author and participating in Pay It Forward. Now spread the word about Jeri Walker-Bickett and her Popular Poe Stories in Plain English - There might even be a student in your life that could use a little help with Poe.

Classics and Interpretation,


  1. I'm interested to see the feedback you receive. It's a neat idea, but risky. It may upset the Poe-purists. :) Good luck!

    1. I understand what you mean about the Poe-purists, but I think this book was a great idea. So many won't read some of the classics because of the writing. Maybe this will open their eyes to these great stories.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Libby.

  2. That's actually a very cool idea. I love the ideas behind Poe's stories, but because of the language used during that time, I'll admit it's a little hard to digest. Will definitely check it out.

    1. BFTS, Great to see you again.

      I'm with you about the language, which is why I got it! You won't be disappointed.

  3. I wondered the same thing about how Poe Purists and other language buffs would feel about my approach, but so many people (including my students) miss out on awesome stories because the language is too daunting. At times, it took me FOREVER to do some of the paraphrasing... I think I have those stories memorized now!

  4. I'm enjoying this introduction to Jeri and to her book. A truly innovative idea - taking Poe and updating it. I did like reading Poe as is, but I have read Shakespeare in updated English, so I can certainly understand the appeal.

  5. I have to admit to being one of those "Poe purists" -- I love the language he used. But anything that gets people reading his wonderful stories is okay with me. ;)

  6. Wow... good for you! I have never had the stamina to finish reading any of the stories. Now I just might have to try again. I think this approach was a great idea!

  7. This is awesome. I've learned something about Jeri I didn't know. The fact that she wrote this book being one of them. Poe has/is not a very easy read. It has been a very long time since I have read anything by Poe because of that. The fact that Jeri has done this work has prompted me buy her book. I am looking forward to getting it and reading it. Thank you for sharing this.