Wednesday 26 May 2010

Halfway there – hurrah!

Yay!  I’ve hit the halfway mark with my sequel to Alone, currently entitled Buried.

Of course there is no real way of knowing how long your novel is going to be, but most of mine seem to end up around the 80 – 100, 000 word mark so I settled for 90,000 as being a fair bet.

One day I would love to write a real epic.  Some of my favourite novels are epics (The Stand, and Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth).  I would love to write something that follows a huge multi-numbered cast over some life-altering journey, but I have absolutely no idea what it would be about just yet.  Also, I have no idea if a publisher would bother risking publishing such a huge novel.  However, even if it was never picked up, I think the pleasure gained from writing something that long would be worth it.  I’ve got the next few projects planned out, so I will just have to wait until inspiration hits me.

Other news is that fellow vamplit author James Garcia Jr got a great review for his novel Dance on Fire over at Taliesin meets the vampires. Taliesin loved the novel and even described some of James’s writing as ‘poetic’, which naturally I was quite jealous of!

You can find out more about the novel over at James Garcia Jr's blog.

And Nicole Hadaway is posting over at Write in the Shadows tomorrow.  There is still a huge five book competition going on over there for you guys State-side, so make sure you check out the contest page.


Knowing (2009) – movie review

imagesknow Okay, so I am a bit of a closet Nicolas Cage fan. I know he’s done some terrible movies, but he’s one of those men I have always had a bit of a crush on, but wouldn’t really admit to – a bit like Dr Gregory House (for any of you who know the show).

Anyway, when I saw he had made a supernatural movie it was straight on my must-see list.

Knowing starts fifty years in the past.  In a local school the children are drawing pictures to be put in a time capsule.  One little girl is hearing whispered voices, and when time comes to draw the pictures she writes lists of numbers all over both sides of the page.  When the teacher tells her that her time is up she runs away and is later found hiding in a closet.  She has scratched the door so badly all of her fingers are bleeding.

Fast forward fifty years.  Time has come to open the time capsule.  Nicolas Cage’s character is recently windowed and he is left alone with his young son, who attends the same school the girl did.  On the day of opening the capsule the son is given the envelope containing the numbers.

Nicolas Cage somehow recognises the numbers as dates of terrible tragedies, and then his son starts to hear voices and see strange men watching him.  Cage discovers that imageskno the final numbers are predictions and he decides it is his job to stop them from happening.

Knowing starts off really promisingly.  The stuff with the little girl is really creepy, and I almost wish they had stayed with that storyline rather than jumping ahead (but then I guess that would have been a different movie all together!).  Cage plays a decent portrayal of a recently bereaved man, though I did question how quickly he managed to figure out what the numbers meant.  I also had to question the actions of some of the characters, as the daughter of the woman who wrote the numbers makes some bizarre decisions.

The ending was a bit of a disappointment.  Without giving too much away the film seems to lose track of what it wants to be.  It starts off in a spooky, supernatural genre, but finishes as a sci-fi/end-of-the-world disaster movie.  There was even a bit of religious symbolism thrown in for good luck.  It was a shame because I had really enjoyed the movie up to that point.  Also, the ‘people’ following the son looked like grown up ‘children of the corn’, which was a bit off putting.

Despite this I did enjoy the movie overall.  It’s not a scary as I would have liked, but it is worth a watch.

Something Wicked 6 /10

Saturday 22 May 2010

Scary Saturday!!!!

I saw this little film last fall when I was on Twitter and a follower of Drew Daywalt. No matter how many times I've seen it, it still scares the bejeezus out of me!

Yeah, you'll be sleeping with the lights on!

Mark Crittenden posted this short over on his blog a few days ago, and I had to post it here because it's absolutely freaking hysterical:

I wish my cats would do cool stuff like that!!

Wednesday 19 May 2010

Book Review -- Antarktos Rising

One of the great things about my new writing career is that, while researching agents and publishers, I came across a whole host of novels I might not otherwise have found or read on my own. Antarktos Rising by Jeremy Robinson is just such a novel. Though it was published by Variance Publishing back in 2008, it features a topic that is very popular today -- the Nephilim.

I'm sure all of you who read this blog have read my own novel, Release, and therefore are quite familiar with who the Nephilim are in Judeo-Christian mythology ;-), but just to refresh your memory, the Nephilim were man-eating giants, descendants of angels and mortal women, who populated the earth in the days before they were wiped out by the great flood (though it seems that they may have been around afterwards, too). 

“The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of men and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown.”

– Genesis 6:4

Basically, the premise of the novel is this:  the earth's crust shifts drastically, causing the magnetic poles to shift and basically, much of the earth ends up under ice and uninhabitable. The only land left for humans (what's left of them, as the shifting of the crusts and resulting climate change happens quite suddenly, killing most everyone) that is habitable is Antarctica, which is now a lush, green paradise.

Our heroine (yay -- you go girl!), Mirabelle Whitney, is picked (or rather, forced) to be on a team of elite members who are to compete in a race with other countries (or conglomerates thereof) to claim Antarctica. Why is she picked, when she's just a wildlife photographer? Because her father knows more about the land down under more than anyone -- he's actually trapped down there when all this crustal displacement starts.

So Mira must find her dad, compete with other teams, some of whom will do anything to win, and make it across Antarctica. As the team gets deeper and deeper into the new land, however, they find that things which they thought were long gone had merely been frozen for centuries, and are now out and about, looking for food and vengeance.

Okay, let me state right off the bat that for the most part, I can suspend my disbelief with regards to science and accept whatever fiction is thrown at me -- that to me is part of the fun of reading, to take the impossible and make it into a 'real' story. I've read that this novel got negative reviews for its implausible science, but honestly -- it didn't bother me one bit.

This is a plot-driven novel, though the author does take a bit of time to develop characters, though don't expect something out of Austen, and I liked them well enough that I wasn't happy when some of them died. It's not a deep novel, but rather a light, fun adventure full of ancient civilizations, crossovers of religions, danger, and father-daughter bonding. The mythology was very interesting, and the pace for this type of novel was very good. The ending is very much a cliffhanger, and if there is a sequel I will be interested to see where this author takes the story.

Something Wicked -- 3/5

Monday 17 May 2010

May We Please Have Your Attention??

Right, now that I've got your attention (thanks in part to the awesomely talented Mark Crittenden!), I'd like to direct it to a new blog that Marissa and I have going on with several other funny, smart, and talented paranormal writers -- Write In the Shadows.

Because when the shadows fall, it's best to keep your WITS about you (or you just might end up a vampire!!).

Brand new blog launched today – Write In The Shadows…

This week welcomes the launch of a new blog dedicated to all things with a paranormal and fantasy aspect. Be it writing, reading, movies, history or whatever strikes our fancy.

Seven authors (myself included) who compose fantasy, young adult, paranormal suspense, literary paranormal and romance novels, will share what they’ve learned over the years, discuss their genres, offer tips, occasionally review books or movies and bring you along on their journey to succeed in a highly competitive and tight market.

We'll be introducing ourselves throughout the week, with some days two posts going out. Please stop by and say hello, and if you like what you see, please pass our link on to a friend.

Write in the Shadows

We're also launching our first contest with a bang! Six books will be given away with a $25 gift certificate as well.  This one is only open to the US, but I will be running some competitions for the rest of us later in the month!

I hope to see you there!

Saturday 15 May 2010

Clairvoyants and Mediums….Are they telling us the truth or just what we want to hear?

A0M5DTICAUTZPMNCAQD2RGICA156B5ZCAA0MD3BCAPZ7HB8CAZWUYYRCAKKDNISCA33UBBICAHB2AXOCAQ1DN39CAAO3QLNCAHM6FJWCAY703YACATQORX9CAUQU1TCCA4GAY6DCACRNE88CA3ZHZ4S This week someone close to me went to see a clairvoyant.  When she told me I automatically laughed.  It seemed like such a silly thing to do, but she really believes in it.  This particular clairvoyant did get some stuff right (some names, characters, even a recent illness), but most of it was stuff you would expect to hear (you are going to have a really good few months and come into some money), and some of it was just downright bizarre (someone in your family is going to travel the world weight lifting!!!).

Of course it is only natural for us to just hang onto the things we want to hear and just skip over the rest.  We want to be told that we are going to win lots of money and meet a tall, dark stranger, and so if someone tells us this we want to believe it is true.

The same thing applies for mediums.  Most people who go to see a medium has lost someone and is looking for comfort.  Because of this people will twist things they hear to make them fit in with what they need to hear.

Is it better that we believe the medium has contacted our lost one?  We go home feeling happy they are still watching over us, and the medium makes a living.  Or are these people just exploiting the grief of others?

For me the way clairvoyants and mediums use their ‘talents’ are very different because of the vulnerability side of it.  Clairvoyants may say they can tell your future, but at least they aren’t exploiting poor dead Aunt Maude to do it.

Then of course, what is to say that some medium’s aren’t genuine?  I believe in ghosts and spirits, so why not believe there are people who can communicate with them?  Personally I am sceptical, to the point of disbelieving, but I would love to know if there were people out there who had proven, without a shadow of a doubt, that they can talk to the dead.

I want to believe.  I want to believe out loved ones are still out there watching over us, but for the moment I remain undecided.

Wednesday 12 May 2010

Angels -- the kind that weep

So when I read Anne Rice's Angel Time (and she mentioned my review on her FB page. It's been a while and just wanted to bring up that past glory ;-), the angels in her story couldn't understand exactly what was in the heart of man, but they did hide their faces and weep when people turned their backs away from God and did the wrong thing.

So the statue of a weeping angel is not anything unusual. It typically evokes feelings of grief, sadness, and loss. I'm not sure one would associate it with horror, but leave it to Doctor Who to do just that.

The Weeping Angels appear in what is probably my favorite episode of the re-booted series, Blink. [Just to give my quick thoughts on Doctor Who:  loved Tennant as the Doctor, favorite series was Season 2, favorite sidekick was Donna Noble and was really looking forward to her turn as the companion but that series was very sad and dark for me.]

Anyroad, with all the talk about Angels these days it's nice to see Doctor Who bringing them back in the two most recent episodes featuring the Tenth Doctor (Matt Smith). Yes, Matt is young, and I had reservations about him replacing Tennant but they were completely washed away when I saw his performance at the end of Time Part 2. I wasn't even aware that BBC America was running the series until I was flipping through the stations on Saturday night and saw it was on AND that my favorite baddies, the Weeping Angels, were once again in it.

What makes these beautiful messengers so bad that I love them? Well basically, they look like statutes, but really they're humanoid beings who cannot move while someone is looking at them or seeing them. They move when the lights are out, or when your back is turned, or when you... blink your eyes. In a split-second, they'll touch you and send you back in time. Just the thought of beings masquerading as innocuous statues who can sneak up on you in the blink of an eye and then -- whammo! That's right, you'll end up, just as you are in the here and now -- same age, same experiences and memories -- only you'll have to start over again with your life in, say 1890. Or 1945. Or 1762.

Sure, it doesn't sound so bad, especially for people who like historical fiction (though not having antibiotics does make me shudder!) but in the lastest episode -- the angels are killing people, and now they've trapped The Doctor, his new, spunky companion, and Alex Kingston who plays River Song, a woman from the Doctor's past (or future, depending upon which point in time you're at) and that's what makes her so mysterious and intriguing.

I'll definitely be tuning in this Saturday night for the concluding episode, Flesh and Stone (and I know the folks in the UK have probably already seen it so please don't spoil me!) to see how it all ends.

Sunday 9 May 2010

Carriers (2009)- movie review


carriers Carriers differs from normal ‘end of the world because of a terrible disease’ movies because it starts after the epidemic has wiped out most of the population.  It follows a group of young twenty-something’s trying to reach an old beach resort where the two men (who are brothers) spent happy childhoods. They have rules to escape infection including avoiding populated areas, always wearing face masks when around the infected, and believing the infected are already dead.

It has a little known (unless you like Captain Kirk) cast; Chris Pine (Star-Trek) and Emily Van-Camp (Brothers and Sisters).

So far they have escaped the disease,  but as their journey across the desert brings them into contact with others, their commitment to each other and their own morality is tested.

Brian (Chris Pine) acts like a bit of an ass the whole way through the movie, putting himself and the others in danger, but the reason for his behaviour is justified somewhat when it is revealed what he went through during the pandemic.

It does bring up the question – what would you do for your own survival?  Would you kill strangers, friends, your own family?  I am sure most of us would say ‘never’, but in extreme times it can sometimes be a case of kill or be killed.

I don’t know if it is the effect ‘The Stand’ had on me at a young age, but I really like end of the world movies.  I like to see how the few survivors will manage and how the world’s infrastructure would break down.  I don’t feel that this movie really showed enough of the practicalities of their survival (apart from getting gas for their car).

It is not a ground breaking movie and there were some questionable choices the characters made. They also seemed to go the entire movie without having to worry about any food or drink (apart from alcohol).  Never-the-less, the movie gave an interesting insight into human behaviour and does make you question what you would do in the same situation.

Not a bad movie, I would rate it a Something Wicked 6/10

Friday 7 May 2010

Book Review! White Wolf of Avalon by Eva Gordon

Finally, I finished this novel!  What took me so long (since I purchased it in mid-January?) -- certainly not a fault of Eva Gordon's I can tell you. Life and my own work got in the way (in addition, I was hesitant to read on my iPhone in the sun by the pool when I was on vacation -- water damage!).

I will state for the record that I'm not really into romance novels. Nothing wrong with them, they're just not my cup of tea (flavor of ice cream, etc.). However, I do like Eva's novels, particularly because her attention to historical detail is amazing. After reading her excellent mix of werewolves and vikings, I couldn't wait to see what she would do with the Camelot myth, and this book certainly didn't disappoint. Indeed, I liked it a bit better than the last one!

One thing about Eva's novels is that she starts well before the hero and heroine meet -- this creates a longer novel which is a bit of an epic tale. The main focus of the story is the love interest between the two -- a wolf maiden (a human) and her intended alpha werewolf male. In Ms. Gordon's mythology, which is largely based upon how actual wolves and wolf packs operate, alpha werewolf males can only successfully have offspring with human females (no shapeshifting or otherwise special abilities). The interplay between a stronger male and a female at a disadvantage is not one I particularly care for, but Ms. Gordon makes it work in her novels such that I enjoy the characters.

Annora is a Roman scholar and wolf maiden who, while journeying on to her intended betrothed alpha male all the way in far off Britain. Along the way, her caravan is attacked by a rogue alpha who intends to kidnap her and make her his wolf maiden (thus violating the rules of the werewolf governing council, the Lupercal). Annora manages to escape and find her destined alpha male, Bledig, but with one snag -- Bledig detests his wolf nature and hopes to cleanse it from himself in a Christian ritual so he can be a respected knight of the round table for the legendary King Arthur.

I absolutely love the King Arthur legend, and it's all in here, including some twists that I'd not been familiar with -- Morgan le Fay is a good witch, and it's her sister, Morgause, that is the evil witch who unknowingly seduced her brother, Arthur, and bore his illegitimate, nefarious son Mordred.

Of course, it does take a bit of time to get deep into the King Arthur mythology but the pace is rather good; alot happens in the course of the novel so it's rare that there are any slow or dragging parts. I loved how the author speculated upon the history of Stonehenge (and that it might once have marked where Avalon lay?), and there were shades of Marion Zimmer Bradley in there, too. It's a good novel and I do recommend it, but be warned -- it's not horror, on the contrary, while there is fighting and shape-shifting, it's a character-driven novel and the werewolves are not the bad guys but romantic heroes. It's perfect for someone who loves historical paranormal fiction.

Stay tuned and please do Something Wicked over the weekend!!!

Wednesday 5 May 2010

A Happy Birthday Vamplit! And some help needed please…

This week Vamplit Publishing turned a year old. Happy Birthday Vamplit!

Vamplit has been the platform from which Nicole and I have been given our first chance as writers. It is hard to believe it has only been going for a year; it seems to have accomplished so much already.  The books it has been publishing have been getting great reviews, (including our own of course!), and now there is a brand new site which you can find here, which looks amazing.  Also Vamplit’s bestselling novels are going to paperback this year, which is really exciting for the writers involved.

I am sure Vamplit’s second year will be as exciting and successful as it’s first!

On another topic we’ve been asked by Tina over at The Clean White Page to compile a list of modern horror writers we would recommend and it would be great if you guys could help.  Do you know of any contemporary horror writers you just couldn’t live without? If anyone has any suggestions it would be much appreciated – just leave us a comment below.

Something Wicked!

Tuesday 4 May 2010

When do creative differences become too much?

The following post has nothing to do with the lovely people at Vamplit publishing…

I hate to air my dirty laundry in public, but a recent incident had got me thinking…and thinking… and thinking.

What do we do if someone’s effort to ‘improve’ your book are falling far from the mark?  Do we continue to faithfully listen to someone else’s advice even though alarm bells are going off, or do you have to stand your ground?  Just because someone may have more education when it comes to writing, does that automatically make them a better writer? I don’t think I am precious about my writing and I am always keen to learn, but what if you honestly believe what is being ‘taught’ is ruining your book?

At what point do you make the decision to agree to disagree and go your separate ways?  And what happens next?  All of a sudden you are in the messy world of contracts and who owes who what.  Oh boy…

Wanting to have something published is only natural for a writer, but is it better to remain unpublished than to have something published you are unhappy with?  I think I would rather go unpublished, and for me the reality of this has sadly happened.

In the end it simply comes down to faith – faith in your own abilities and faith in eventually finding a publisher who will suit you.

I have faith.

Saturday 1 May 2010

Urban Legends

Last night I watched the 1998 movie, Urban Legend, starring Joshua Jackson and Jared Leto.  It got me thinking… what are the scariest of urban legends?

Urban legends are stories we all grow up with.  They are modern day folklore, and the stories are passed from person to person, most often on particular nights such as Halloween.  After all, who doesn’t enjoy a scary story at Halloween?

These are my creepiest…

The Clown and the Babysitterimages00

As with most urban legends there are several versions of this story, but most are based around the babysitter and the intruder story.

A babysitter is taking care of a baby while its parents are out.  When she goes up to check on the baby she sees a life-size statue of a clown standing in the corner of the room.  She feels like the clown is watching her and she can’t get it out of her mind.  When the father calls later to see how things are she says the baby is fine, but could she move the life-size statue of the clown as it is freaking her out. The father then tells her to call 999 immediately.  She asks why and he tells her they do not have a statue of a clown..

Clowns have always freaked me out. I think I watched ‘IT’ at too young an age!

Bloody Mary

This urban legend was also the basis of the Clive Barker movie, Candyman.  I think that is the reason Bloody Mary gives me the chills.

Mary, (sometimes known as Mary Worth) was a very beautiful woman. She was well aware of her beauty and would spend hours in front of a mirror admiring herself.  Then one day she was in a terrible accident which not only killed her, but disfigured her face horribly. From that point on her ghost haunts mirrors, and anyone who repeated her name in a mirror would find themselves either disfigured or dead.

The bathroom mirror in the dead of the night is often a porthole for ghost stories.  I, for one, will never repeat the words Bloody Mary, or Candyman, in front of a mirror.

Live Worm Inside Patients Eye

A man thought he had dust caught in his eye as it was irritable.  He rubbed and rubbed at it, and it got redder and redder.  He bought eye drops, but his eye just got worse.  When he went to see his doctor the doctor ordered a scan.  The doctor thought he saw a cyst and arranged for an operation to have the cyst removed. But when the doctor cut into the cyst what they actually found was a live worm…



When I studied Parasites at university my lecturer actually told us a very similar story. To this day I have no idea if what  he told us was true, or if it was simply another version of this urban legend.  What ever the truth, the idea of having any kind of living bug growing inside my eye is enough to give me nightmares!