Wednesday 30 June 2010

Preview of illustrations for ‘Alone’

P1000241 I’m working on some pictures to make a you-tube video to promote ‘Alone’.  I haven’t drawn since I was sixteen, but I’ve rediscovered the love of it.  These are just some of the pictures for what I hope will be about ten in total.  My brother is studying to be a sound-producer and is pretty good with the computer side of things, so he has offered to put together the final clip.


I am hoping it will look good and I’ll not just embarrass myself!


Tuesday 29 June 2010

Nicole's Top Ten Scariest Reads!

Extra thanks to Marissa for starting us on this topic -- she posted her top ten horror novels last week, which got me thinking as to my own list.  Now, I've spent the majority of my life reading murder mystery novels, so I can't really name 10 horror novels that would fill this list, but I've read quite a bunch of short stories that have gotten into me and my psyche so here goes!

10)  and 9)  The Figure In the Shadows and The Letter, the Witch and the Ring:  Yes, these are YA novels (actually, they were YA back in the 1970's which means they're probably more for children these days!), but when I read them as a child -- the images of Lewis Barnavelt being followed mysteriously by some cloaked figure, as well as Rose Rita Pottinger driving a car to look in the rear-view mirror and see a pair of yellow glowing eyes -- SCARY!!!

8)  Stephen King's It:  I got to the part where the clown's hand came out of the photo album and had to stop reading.

7)  Dorothy Sayers' Suspicion (short story):  this is more of a tale of suspense, but the last line always gives me goosebumps!

6)  The Monkey's Paw by W.W. Jacobs (short story):  classic, just classic.  The pacing and the suspense at the end is priceless.

5)  The Fall of the House of Usher (short story):  no listing would be complete without Poe, and while many tales of his may be creepier or scarier (Tell-Tale Heart, the Black Cat), I just love this one, maybe because I'm into brother-sister dynamics.

4)  There's a short story out there that I read like 20 years ago, it was in an anthology, about a man who takes his daughter to a carnival and is watching her ride the ferris wheel, around and around, until -- her cart is empty!!!  She's not there!!!!  I cannot for the life of me remember what it's called, but it's NOT The Black Ferris by Bradbury.

3)  More Spinned Against by John Wyndham (short story).  Wyndham is certainly more well-known for his novels, The Day of the Triffids and The Midwich Cuckoos (filmed as The Village of the Damned), but I love this tale.  It's not particularly scary, but has a great, creepy twist at the end.

2)  Lamb To the Slaughter by Roald Dahl (short story):  more known for his children's stories, I just love this tale from beginning (it's set in the 1960's when pregnant women could drink alcohol) to the lovely ending.  Not a scary one, but it's a tale of suspense and revenge.  LOVE IT!!!

1)  The Boarded Window by Ambrose Bierce (short story).  Read it and tell me if you can walk into a dark room without turning on the lights afterwards!!

Sunday 27 June 2010

Infestation (2009)– a modern day creature feature!

infestat I love it when a movie surprises me!

I sat down to watch Infestation with very low expectations.

Infestation is about a young man (Cooper) who seems like a bit of a no-hoper.  He fights with his Dad about not having a career, and mucks around when he does go to work.  We also find out that he lost his mum a month earlier.  He is about to be fired by his boss when there is a blinding flash of light and he wakes up to find himself and everyone else covered in a white cocoon-like material.  He is then attacked by a giant bug, but manages to kill it. 

At this point I thought ‘oh-no, this is going to be as bad as I thought it would be,’ but then, surprisingly, it picked up.  Cooper then wakes up an assortment of random other people and together they try to find their loved ones and just simply stay alive.  But when the ‘love-interest’ is taken, Cooper then decides he must go to the insect’s nest to save her.

I am not a big fan of ‘giant insect movies’ and I thought this was going to be a terrible film.  I started watching it expecting it to be a serious horror, but it’s not at all.  If anything it’s a black-comedy, up there with Shawn of The Dead and The Cottage.  There were some moments I actually had tears in my eyes from laughing.  Some of the people become spider-hybrids and the graphics are surprisingly good.

It isn’t an original idea, but the acting isn’t half-bad, and the funny moments in it really are funny.  If you’re up for something that doesn’t take itself seriously then I would definitely recommend it.  Much better than some of these high-budget remakes that are out at the moment.  7/10

Also, I’ve still not heard from the winner of my 30 Seconds to Mars Contest – So Christi, if you’re out there, can you either email me or leave me a comment, else I will have to forfeit your prize to one of the other entries!

Friday 25 June 2010

Marissa’s Top Ten Horror Novels..

Now I have taken some liberties with my list and I apologise to all you horror purists who will disagree with my ‘category’, but as I pointed out to a family member earlier today when I was compiling my list – it’s mine so I can put in whatever the hell I like!

The Stand #1 The Stand – Stephen King. Okay, for my number one spot I am cheating as I’m lumping a number of Stephen King’s novels into the number one spot.  If I didn’t this my list of top ten horror novels would basically just be a list of my top ten favourite Stephen King novels!  I grew up reading Stephen King and he is also the writer who has influenced me the most in my writing (not very original, I know, but what can you do..?).  So there are a number of his novels I absolutely love and have read over and over again; some of them are The Shining, IT, The Green Mile, Talisman (co-written by Peter Straub).  I love most of his novels, though sadly his older stuff is the best.


magic cott #2 The Magic Cottage – James Herbert.  The story of a young couple who move into a cottage in the woods.  The animals are particularly friendly, but before long they discover the animals are not the only creatures they have for company.  Another of his books that I loved is Fluke, but he’s also written some classic horrors including The Rats and The Fog.Furnace


#3 Furnace – Muriel Gray.  For those who haven’t heard of Muriel Gray, she is a Scottish writer who has only written a couple of books.  Her most recent one isn’t as good, but I absolutely love this one.  It is the story of a truck driver who is given a curse while passing     through Interviewsmall town America.  It is fast-paced and clever, with some kick-ass, but believable characters.  I only wish she would write some more!


#4 Interview With The Vampire – Anne Rice. I know many people would not classify this novel as being a horror, but it introduced me to the literary world of vampires and I even studied it, together with ‘Bram Stoker’s Dracula’, for my final A-level thesis.  It is a classic.IamLegend


#5 I am Legend - Richard Matheson.  I read this novel before I saw the movie and so naturally I was hugely disappointed with the film.  The book has a completely different ending and adds a whole different meaning to the entire book.  Just brilliant  He also wrote Stir of Echoes which I read after seeing the movie (which I also loved).

funland #6 Funland – Richard Laymon.  I read this as a young teenager, and boy did it stay with me.  Violent, sexual, it exposed me to all the things a young teenaged girl shouldn’t be!

red #7 Red Dragon – Thomas Harris.  Okay, this isn’t technically a horror, more a crime.  However it started the whole ‘Hannibal Lector’ craze and in my opinion is the best of the bunch.Strain


#8 – The Strain – Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan I’ve only just read this book so it is fresh in my mind.  There are no nicey-nicey vampires in this  book.  The vampires are a terrible disease that threatens to wipe out the world. An old story with a modern twist; I’ll be reviewing it here very soon.


 drac #9 Dracula – Bram Stoker.  How could I not include this novel?  The master of all vampires…



#10 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins  This is a classic ghost story I read as a child.  Years ago I also went to see the play in London, which was  absolutely brilliantThey created all of the ghostly effects with smoke and sound, and it literally made me jump out of my seat!

Thursday 24 June 2010

Daybreakers, and a reason your DVD player might suddenly stop working.

Finally I got to watch Daybreakers

I say finally, because I had really wanted to watch it at the cinema, but I was still living in Spain when it was released.  Then I saw it was out on DVD and so I went up to Blockbuster and rented the movie, but it seemed it was not meant to be.

After spouting about how we’d had our DVD player for years and had only cost us twenty quid, I then put in the DVD and… nothing.

I ejected the DVD and put it back in again…still nothing.

I then switched the player on and off again.. still nothing.

I switched it off at the wall..

I swore at it…nothing

Then hit it several times… still swearing…

And at this point my husband noticed I had rented a Blue-ray DVD, so of course it wasn’t going to work!  Shame-faced I took the DVD back to the store and opened my explanation to the guy in the store with , ‘I know I’m an idiot, but…’

So this is my formal apology to my DVD player for the abuse I hurled at it!

Anyway, back to the movie.

daybreak Daybreakers is set in 2019, where most of the worlds population have been turned into vampires.  Now the humans are the endangered species and the vampires are running out of blood.  Ethan Hawke’s character plays the ‘vamp with a heart’, Ed, and is trying to create a blood substitute so humans no longer need to be hunted.  If the vampires don't drink human blood they mutated in long eared bat-vampires who are stronger, but a lot less human that the other vamps.

These mutated vampires were great – much more fun than Ethan daybreakers Hawke’s character.  It was well done because I did feel empathy for these hideously ugly creatures, especially as they were essentially just starving vampires and the ‘normal’ vampires just treated them like they were scum.  I also loved the way the vampires exploded – they really made me jump. 

Daybreakers is a new and original take on the vampire genre.  It is fast paced and engaging.  It has a futuristic feel to it that reminded me of another movie – The Island.  I thought they stretched the truth a bit with the vamps being able to go out in daylight as long as they stayed in the shade, and they didn’t seem fast or strong enough to me, but that’s just my personal vampire taste! Also, I wasn’t sure about the storyline about the ‘cure’, but again, it was an original idea.

It was a shame the ‘normal’ vampires weren’t stronger or faster.  If anything they seemed a bit too human, but overall I really enjoyed this movie.  It is a must for any vampire lovers!

Friday 18 June 2010

Pics of a "Real Live" Ghost

Although I suppose it should be "Real Dead", LOL!!!

For the full story, click here.

Thursday 17 June 2010

Nicole's Top 10 Horror Movies!!

My dear blogmate Marissa posted her top 10 Horror movies earlier this week, and it got me thinking as to my own list, so I thought I'd post today about the movies that scare the bejeezus out of me ;-)  I had a bit of a time compiling the list -- what is "Horror" -- does it mean suspense, or should there be creatures in it?  Can slasher-killers fall in there, too?  I don't have the answers -- I just posted movies that I thought were good, creepy, and downright horrific to think about, and as with most of my stuff, the fall across the genres from creature features to psychological thrillers.

10)  Scream:  I like all three of these, but the first one, after I saw it in the movie theater -- I had to sleep with the lights and television on.  That initial scene with Drew Barrymore being stalked in her house -- not something you want to see if you're a single female living alone!!!

9)  The Uninvited (1944):  No, not the 2009 movie based upon a Japanese film -- I'm talking about the Ray Milland version.  Yes, it's black-and-white, but set by the seaside and a huge cliff -- there are some creepy moments in it!  Plus, I love how Martha Grimes incorporated it into her novel, The Lamorna Wink.

8)  Aliens:  My mom and I saw this movie, like, 14 times in the theater we loved it so much.  Kick-ass heroine, marines, a little-girl-in-trouble, and the mother of all monsters -- awesome!!

7)  Jaws:  This movie doesn't scare me as much anymore, but back when I was 5 I had constant nightmares about sharks.  I still hate having them in dreams, and I cannot look at this movie poster without my palms sweating.  Notice I'm not posting it here!

6)  Halloween (1978 version):  Yes, it's an oldie.  But it's a classic, and it still makes me think twice about being home alone.

5)  John Carpenter's The Thing:  a bunch of guys stranded in the Antarctic, one of whom is Kurt Russell, trying to figure out who's the alien.  I watch it ever time it's on, saying "Oh Goodie!  The Thing is on!!".

4)  Psycho (1960):  No list would be complete without the master of suspense, Hitchcock.  I still jump when he turns Mother around in her chair!

3)  The Blair Witch Project:  yeah, it was gimmicky and ran its course, but when I saw it in the theater -- I woke up in the middle of the night and had to go sleep in with my mom.  And I was like 25 at the time!!  Spooky!!

2.5)  Yes, I'm cheating and including The Howling because that scene when the lady is looking through the filing cabinet still makes me jump to this very day.

2)  The Exorcist:  Marissa listed this one, and our WITS co-blogger Boone Brux talked about it yesterday -- I've only ever seen this movie one time because it's just so damn creepy/scary with the images (as well as when she stabs herself with the crucifix).  However, I am very much enjoying the painting I won by Scare Sarah featuring the poster image, and Father Karras (Jason Miller) lived for a long time in Scranton, PA, which is near the town in which I grew up (I once dated a guy whose aunt dated Miller!).

1)  The Haunting (1963):  based upon Shirley Jackson's novel, The Haunting of Hill House (some of you are probably more familiar with her short story, The Lottery), this is hands-down my all-time favorite scary movie.  There's no special effects, no creatures, no slashers -- we never even see the evil entity -- and that's what makes it so damn brilliant.  It's all shadows and camera angles, and most importantly -- plot and acting (hey, remember those??!!).  Watch it with the lights off and then ask yourself -- "Who's hand was I holding???!!!!"  (Hint:  DO NOT RENT the 1998 version -- it's got good actors but the plot isn't good).

Monday 14 June 2010

Book review – Blockade Billy by Stephen King

blockadex Oh dear, what can I say about this book?

First of all, it’s not much of a book, size-wise.  Normally Stephen King writes these huge brick books, which I love, but Blockade Billy is only a novella, and a small one at that.

Blockade Billy is about a kid from a small town being called up to play baseball for one of the pro teams.  He is an amazing baseball player, but he hides a dark secret.

I really wanted to like this book – hell, I always want to love Stephen King’s stuff.  As his main character says in ‘Misery’ ‘I am your number one fan!’  But this one really disappoints.  If you are not into baseball or, like me, have absolutely no idea about the rules of baseball, don’t even pick it up.  If you know and love the game then you will probably also enjoy the book. I suspect that American’s will probably enjoy the book more than us Brits, cause even if you are not a baseball fan you will probably have some idea of the game.

For the first twenty-five pages or so I found myself skim-reading because most of it was about game-play and I just didn’t get it.  I’m not a sport person – I don’t watch sport, I don’t play sport, so I certainly don’t want to read about sport!

I also dive into King’s books expecting (and hoping) for a bit of the paranormal to be involved, but in Blockade Billy, and in the short story ‘Morality’, which is included at the end, both stories are essentially just about not very nice people doing horrible things.

Sorry, I’m probably being harsh, cause I’m not a sports fan, but for me this one is a stinker.  Definitely not worth £9.99.

Friday 11 June 2010

And the winner is….

(drum roll…)  Christi Corbett!  Congrats!  Email me your snail mail address ( and a copy of A Beautiful Lie will be heading your way.

Thanks to everyone else for entering and watch this space for more competitions coming soon!

On other news there is an interesting new sci-fi show starting.  It’s by the making of ‘Life on Mars’ and ‘Spooks’, both of which were great shows, so this one has promise.

TV - Tube Talk

And it looks like even Robert Pattison has got sick of the ‘softly-softly’ approach of Twilight.  He has announced that he wants the next instalment to be a hardcore saga for adults with sex scenes!  Sounds like a drastic improvement to me.

Twilight saga - Breaking Dawnimages1111

Finally, the first England game is tomorrow against the US.  Everyone has gone world-cup crazy at the moment and everywhere I look there are flags hanging, so I’ve hung one of my own!  Personally I think  everyone gets so excited about the world cup cause it gives us another excuse to drink copious amounts of beer (not that we need much encouragement as a culture). Anyway, I will be watching – obligatory beer in hand. 

I am going to go out on a limb and predict a two – nil win for England!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Saturday 5 June 2010

The Uninvited (2009) – aka, ‘The Hand that rocks the Cradle’… with ghosts!

A girl is at a party on the beach. Her boyfriend pushes her to have sex with him, so she leaves the party and runs home through the woods.  She comes across MV5BOTY0OTc3OTkyNV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMTg4Nzc5MQ@@__V1__CR0,0,426,426_SS100_three garbage bags filled with something unknown.  One of the bags moves.  She goes to the bag and bends to open it.  A body ,which is a tangle of disjointed limbs, bursts from the bag and the head twists round to face her. ‘Don’t go home’, it says.  But the girls does go home and she finds her sick mother in bed in family’s boat house.  She runs up to the main house, but as she runs the boat house bursts into flames.

Fast forward eight months and the girl, Anna, is recounting this ‘dream’ to a psychiatrist.  She is about to leave a mental hospital where she has been since she slit her wrists after her mother’s death.  Anna goes home to her older sister, Alex, and her nonchalant father.  Living with her father is the woman who nursed her mother, Rachel. 

As soon as Anna gets home she is plagued by ‘bad dreams’ and eventually decides the ghost of her mother is trying to tell her something.  Anna and Alex MV5BMTkyNTM1MTU3Ml5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNDg3MDYyMg@@__V1__CR120,0,485,485_SS100_ become convinced that Rachel is not who she says she is and in fact murdered their mother so she could have their father for herself.  So starts a series of ‘ghosts’ and visions leading Anna to the truth about what happened the night her mother died.

The Uninvited is a remake of a South Korean movie and it does have the same feel about it as some of the great Japanese remakes, such as The Grudge, and The Ring.  The main similarity it has to those movies is the way the ‘ghosts’ move – in that same jerky, back-to-front, way.  The ghosts are scary and I would have liked to have seen more of them, but there were some really jumpy moments right from the very start.  I felt sorry for Anna as her father just seems to not give a shit about his daughter, who has just come out of a mental hospital and obviously has some stuff to deal with (huge underestimate!).  The girlfriend, Rachel, treats the girls even worse than their father does and you can’t blame them for thinking she killed their mother.

There were some strange decisions made by some of the characters and whilst watching I was thinking that they were seriously letting down what could have otherwise been a decent movie.  However, I had to totally eat my words when the movie ended with one hell of a twist I just did not see coming (and I normally pride myself on spotting these things).

Though it had some rocky parts in the middle the ending definitely makes up for that.  It’s a decent remake and worth a watch.


Wednesday 2 June 2010

Doctor Who -- Vampires of Venice

Okay -- sorry for the delay in this posting; Doctor Who (Vampires of Venice) episode aired like 2 weeks ago in the States, but on that very same night I was living my own horror story as kiddo woke up at 10PM with a stomach virus (which I came down with 2 days later) so....

But I'm here, and I have to say that despite what some naysayers say about the new doctor (ahem, certainly not pointing to my co-blogger here) -- Matt Smith is really growing on me.  Like Taliesin, I had grown a bit bored with the new series (I really, really looked forward to the season with Donna Noble as the companion, but it was a bit too dark for my tastes), ideas seemed to be recycled, so I'd stopped watching until I saw the episode with my favorite baddies, The Weeping Angels. Now I'm kinda into it again, and of course I tuned in for the Vampire episode.

So, the Doctor and his new, spunky companion (Amy) and her fiance (Rory -- why is it that the boyfriends/fiances are always bumbling idiots in this series?)  find themselves in Venice.  Amy is having doubts about her wedding, especially after she kissed the Doctor, so the Doctor decided to reunite the two lovers and take them on a romantic getaway to 15th (?) century Venice.

Only problem -- there appears to be vampires in town.  There's a really cool moment reminiscent of Jonathan Harker/Dracula where the Doctor meets a group of vampire brides -- no reflection, lots of teeth, white, billowy dresses.  I do like the new doctor!

Of course, things aren't as simple as they seem -- it's not just 'vampires' that are threatening to take over Venice. I won't give out spoilers, but there's a bit of a mystery the Doctor must solve before he can save Venice from total flooding. Amy is very courageous and offers herself as bait -- I'm liking her too, kinda like Rose, but she doesn't moon as much over the Doctor, which gets tiresome after a while.  The parts with Rory I found boring -- much like when Rose's boyfriend, Mickey, joined the team, and there's a bizarre love triangle wherein he feels insecure around the Doctor and competes with him.  Overall, though, I enjoyed the episode and will be tuning in for more.

Something Wicked  4/5

Tuesday 1 June 2010

I don’t like to complain, but….

I am hugely lucky.  At the moment I am doing the two things I have always wanted in my life – I take care of my children and I write.

I saw a seriously depressing statistic the other day. It went something like this;

7% of books published make up 92% of book sales.

So basically all  of the big names make the sales, the rest of us just fall into oblivion.  As I said – depressing.

Things are happening for me, but it is all frustratingly slow.  Sometimes I want to fast-forward a couple of years so I can see what position I am in then.  If success (and in my eyes that is less to do with fame and fortune, and more simply being able to support my family comfortably while doing what I love) is only round the corner then that is fantastic.  If not, then I will have to start thinking about going back to my day job when the baby is old enough. The thought of going back fills me with dread, but if it is what needs to happen then that is what I must do.  While my husband is hugely supportive, I can hardly expect for him to put up with me sitting in front of my laptop for the rest of my life if it’s not bringing the cash in.

If I could see into the future and know what was going to happen it would make life easier. I will always keep writing because it is what I love, but I will not put the effort into the other side of it – the queries, the agents, the promotional work. Of course, knowing what is going to happen is impossible, but if you don’t keep trying then you will never know what might have happened.

In the meantime know I am doing all the right things.  I write my ass off and I am trying to get my work out there.  I just have to make sure I am enjoying what I do at the moment as trying to look too far ahead just ties me in knots.