Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Hurricane Sandy

Planned on this post being a movie review then Frankenstorm descended on the East Coast. Following and experiencing Sandy, all I could think was this is like some SyFy B movie. Stuff like this just doesn't happen in NY.

The city that never sleeps is pretty much shut down. Many subway stations are flooded and most streets are for emergency vehicles only. Trains and buses aren't running. I can't go anywhere but at least I can walk around outside. Couldn't do that yesterday.

Fortunately, I still have power and I live in an area that doesn't normally flood. A lot of people can't say the same. I still can't believe the water got high enough to flood Battery Park. I was stunned yesterday when they closed all the bridges. Lower Manhattan has no power.

This storm actually got me to turn on the news. This morning, the streets were empty. This is NY, the streets are never empty! Speaking of news, it's interesting how times have changed. My TV was acting up yesterday so I couldn't watch the news. I got information from my Twitter, Breaking News and CNN apps. I needed an update on the storm, I went to my iPhone. Good thing I didn't lose power.

Of all the things to lose because of Sandy, I didn't expect to wake up with no running water. No one in my building has running water and we don't know when it'll be fixed. At least I have power.

I took my dog on a nice, long, slow walk this morning. Sandy had me in my apartment all day yesterday and the walls were closing in. My neighborhood has a lot of overturned trees but from what I can tell, they, for the most part, landed in the streets and the yards.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Haunted Places

Never been a big fan of documentaries but I'll watch one taking about haunted places.You don't have to believe the stories to enjoy them and the creepy images. They're brilliant fodder for your own dark tales. Despite the tons of horror movies I've watched, I'd loved to visit one for the atmosphere and the inspiration.



Monday, October 22, 2012

Sinister Review

This. movie. scared. me. Something about Sinister got in my head and twisted everything. That's saying a lot. I'm a life-long horror fan but I pretty much stopped expecting the genre to be scary.

It gets kinda old watching a movie or reading a book that's supposed to be scary but it's not. I expected Sinister to be good but it turned out to be like the best horror movie I'd seen since The Women in Black. Actually, it might be better.

This is my favorite type of horror movie. You know me, I can do gore but I prefer atmospheric horror. I'd take two faces in the mirror when you're home alone over watching someone's guts getting hacked out. Sinister had both except the gore was off screen which is a better way to do it.

Implied gore is worse than the actual thing. I'm not squeamish and I don't scare easily but I cringed at some points and even closed my eyes. Sinister is part snuff film- not exaclty my favorite type of film- but the way this movie did it was so disturbing. Sinister wouldn't be as scary if that element was taken out.

At its bases, the movie is about an author who moved his family to a house in almost the middle of nowhere to write what he hopes is his next bestseller. Countless haunted house movies have started this way. You'd think this plot was worn out but it's not.

If I had the opportuity to escape to a large house in the middle of nowhere to write, I'd do it. Wouldn't need to think about it. I'd risk it even if I knew about the house's gruemone past. I'm a horror fan after all.

Sinister was an interesting twist to the haunted house tale though. I tried predicitng what would happen next but was wrong every time. It had funny moments too but they didn't take away from the frightening atmosphere.

I was feeling pretty meh on Saturday when I saw this movie. My assignment at the NYPL ended Friday before last and my temp agency hadn't gotten back to me about another assignment. I'm job hunting...again so, I was in a terrible mood all last week. But, I left the movie, Saturday, feeling much lighter. See, the power of a good story. The tale doesn't have to be all pink unicorns and bunnies. It just needs to suck you in.
Saw a poster for this movie. I had to find the trailer.
I'm definitely behind on my horror news.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Oh Horror I've Missed You

As a life-long horror fan, October is my favorite month. Since I started writing in Dark Fantasy, I've kinda neglected my macabre side. Here's a little story I wrote to appease the horror within. 
Humans find the one good house on the block and call it haunted just because it didn't look new. They told tales on Hopewell. 

While feasting on two females' life forces, Reeka Aberret overheard one say Hopewell was once the residence of a couple who rented the rooms to travelers. At night, they drugged the guests, carved out their organs, cooked and ate them. Sometimes, they skipped the drugs and the cooking.

Seriously? How uncreative.

Reeka knew a guy like that. He didn't have to lure. People willingly gave their internal organs to her brother Lo. He didn't ask. All he did was smile and the humans sliced open their own guts .

Why did the stories always take place at night? What self-respecting demon needed darkness to hide their exploits? If she always attacked at night then, when would she sleep? During the day? Yeah, like she’d give up a prime opportunity to feast when humans were most active. 

“Why are you eyeing the haunted house Rikey?”

Sevya elbowed Reeka, throwing her at the brick wall surrounding this decrepit structure.

Nursing sore ribs, Reeka stood upright and glared at her little sister. All Aberret's were immune to the vicious effects of her stares. Wasn't the first time this fact irritated Reeka.

Unlike the rest of the family, Sevya elected to wear her thick black hair cut above her ears. This, on top of her hard features, made her look masculine but apparently, Reeka was the only one who thought this. Males- humans and demons- hung off her like her skin was made of gold. 

“It’s not haunted,” Reeka said bumping her little sister with her ample hips. Sevya had the face but she had the body.

“It is actually. By a delicious spirit.” 

“Spirits give me gas.”

“Attractive as always big sister.”

The gate voiced its agony when Sevya pushed it open. Reeka was still rocking her head to its cry when Sevya walked up the stairs. The wood creaked. How delightful?

Hopewell had once been elegant. Age and neglect had improved it. Looked like little vermin with little teeth were taking their own sweet time gnawing the wood. What would they sound like? Reeka bet their music was beautiful. 

Nature was having her way with Hopewell. The yard was overgrown and tangled. Green and red vines strangled the roof and base. Reeka loved the porch. The withered pillars were almost as tall as the building. 

The house screamed. 

Reeka laughed. It actually screamed. 

What a delicious sound. It vibrated her bones. The fierce rage in that noise made her skin tingle. Reeka could picture it. Furniture levitating. Doors opening by themselves.Wooden stacks hurling at Sevya. Would there be any utensils in the kitchen? She hoped so. 

Beneath the screams was a melody of breaking glass. As far as Reeka knew, the house possessed no glass. Not even the windows were shielded. Gorgeous, pointless madness. The screams ceased and father's voice roared- berating Sevya for not finding her niche. This little demon could manifest its victim’s personal darkness. 

And to make it even more fun, all the ruckus drew a crowd. Despite the many savage stories secreting from these grounds, people looked more worried than frightened.

Reeka leaned on the brick wall. More than one voice came from Hopewell. How many people did this weak demon eat?

“Have you called the police?” A human male asked her.

She ignored him. Hopewell was trembling. All the voices were pissed. The captured souls apparently had fallen in love with their murderer. 

The male grabbed Reeka’s collar, forcing her to look at him. He actually touched her. How wonderful it was her first instinct wasn't to drown him in his own fluid. 

After examining her as though she was fresh dog waste on his shoe, he tossed her aside and turned to the crowd. 

“There are people in that house who need our help.”

The joys of disbelief. 

Turning, he disappeared into the shuddering structure. A handful of humans followed, waving garden tools. Others screamed at their backs not to get involved. 

Reeka stuck out her tongue and tasted Hopewell’s aura. Her mouth salivated. This spirit ate fifty humans. Fifty delicious souls just waiting for her. Plus the handful of brave imbeciles. 

Someone clamped their hand on her shoulder. Her knees buckled. Reeka didn't care anymore. A feast was within reach.

“The heroic ones always taste better but, baby sister, you forfeited your right to this meal.”

She shook her shoulder out of Lo’s grip and batted her golden eyes at him. 

“But they smell so good.”

“Stop whining, it’s beneath you.”

The voices joined in perfect harmony to release one last tortured wail before the entire house collapsed. The dust settled to Sevya rubbing her stomach and licking her fingers. She joined them at the wall.

Lo waved his hand and the onlookers dropped to the ground. He also knocked out every person who heard Hopewell’s requiem. 

“I have an idea,” Lo said wrapping his arms around Reeka and Sevya’s waists, “What if we rebuild this house to make it look new and invite the family to a little get together.”

Releasing them, Lo turned to the unconscious spectators. He waved his hand. The humans rose and walked away as though being guided by strings.

“We alter the minds of the towns’ people,” Lo continued, “make them believe a well-to-do family has invited them to a party at this lovely house. Then, when they all arrive, we seal the house and have some fun.”

Sevya grabbed Reeka’s shoulders and shook her hard enough to rattle her brain.

“Our first Halloween party.”

Reeka had no interest in this get together. Sharing was not in her nature. Besides, she hated large gathering. She had let her own disbelief block her from the ultimate feast. There won’t be another like it for years, maybe centuries. 

Lo slapped her back. Reeka fell forward cracking her nose on the cement. 

“Cheer up baby sister. Big brother will make sure it’s worth your time.”

Reeka sat up smiling as her nose healed. Lo always kept his promises.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Schedule-phobic

I now understand the statement there aren't enough hours in the day. My day-to-day is supposed to be writing my second novel, editing my first, world building, research, helping my mother with her business, establishing my business, building my author platform. Then, add to all that, a full-time job. Fun. Actually, it really is fun. The headache comes when I'm trying to pack them into one day or even one week.

This is where a schedule comes in. Unfortunately, I'm not the type who can say from 9- 9:30, I'll do this and 9:30-10:30, I'll do this. So, I tried a daily and then a weekly checklist. Instead of times, I wrote a list of things I need to get done every day and every week. That worked for a while.

Scheduling is not in my blood. I don't even know what I'm going to do on the weekend until it gets here. I don't make a habit of planning things far in advanced. Even with my writing. Outlining is my four letter word. Yes, I know we need to write everyday but the idea of setting up a specific time each day to do it makes me cringe. I'm more the spur of the moment type. How do you create a schedule when you're schedule-phobic? Don't know yet but I'm not giving up.

How do you make sure you complete everything on your personal checklist?


Friday, October 12, 2012

Character Descriptions

Character physical descriptions. How much information do you give? Or rather, how much information do you need to give? Once again, there are no set-in-stone rules on how you handle this.

From reading romance novels, I've gathered the author is expected to give a thorough description of how the characters look. On the other hand, we have books like the Harry Potter series. All we know about Harry is he has untidy black hair, light eyes and glasses; Ron- red hair and freckles; Hermione- bushy hair and big teeth.

Does one work better than the other? How you handle character descriptions seems to have more to do with your genre. In my opinion, less is better. You should give the readers enough information to kick start their imaginations.

Sometimes, all you need it a one sentence description. For Dark Fantasy books, though, it's kinda tricky. More often than not, the POV character is some otherworldly being. Whenever I tell people my characters aren't human, the first thing they ask is- what do they look like?

In the past, I got feedback that the reader couldn't picture my characters. I used to give bits and pieces of physical traits along the way like "she threw her long hair out her face," or "she pulled back her shoulders to try and look taller than she was."

If the reader doesn't have a firm grasp on what your character looks like yet you keep reinforcing they aren't human then...the story loses something. Now, I give two or three sentences of physical characteristics when they first appear then throw in more details as the story develops.

To make things even more fun, genre is not the only thing to consider. If your story is in first person or close third, the description of another character will be marred by the protagonists own biases.

How do you present your character's physical appearance?

Friday, October 5, 2012

How Do You Like Your Backstory?

Reading King of Thorns got me thinking about backstory. Like most aspects of writing, there are no hard and fast rules to backstory. How you handle it has more to do with your personal preferences.

For those who don't know, backstory is any information about a character's past. It's the things that happened before the events in your story took place.

Like I said in the previous post, I don't like it when authors spend a whole chapter on backstory. Sometimes it's necessary but, I still find it annoying. I don't want to be spoon fed all the information at once, I'd rather get it in bits and pieces so I have the whole picture by the end.

With my novel, I wanted to include some journal entries from the past but I was weary given how I feel about backstory. I tried to keep the entries as brief as possible without making them seem rushed. It took me awhile to get it right.

Also, in college, I learned we were to keep backstory out of the first couple of chapters. If the reader doesn't care about the character yet, why would they want a chunk of information about their past? This, I agree with but again, personal preference. If you have to dump backstory, stick it as close to the end as possible.

That being said, some authors could go against my personal preferences to write a completely brilliant story.

How do you like your backstory?

Monday, October 1, 2012

King of Thorns Review

Ever read book you didn't want to finish because it's that good; a book where you can't help but break out the highlighter?

I loved King of Thorns. Another amazing cover by the way. This is the second book in Mark Lawrence's The Broken Empire series. The first was Prince of Thorns.

The story centers around one major event with about half of the book being backstory. I had trouble getting into it at first because of this format. There are a few chapters in some of my favorite books, including Harry Potter, I haven't read because they're all backstory. I don't like it when authors break from the story with a chapter of backstory. With King of Thorns, I couldn't skip section because I'd miss half the story.

What kept me going was the voice. I love Jorg, the protagonist. He's got a whole lot of attitude. I've never come across a character like him. It's awesome. Had to break out the highlighter. I tried to resist since I don't like writing in books. Makes rereading them a bit irritating. But, I couldn't help it. Some books have the one liners that make you roll your eyes. Jorg's one liners make me so happy.

King of Thorns was a brain work out. It's been a while since I read a book that had me thinking so much. It's written backwards almost. You see the results before you find out how the character reached this point.

Without giving too much away, one character kept referring to an event. Every time she mentioned it, I kept thinking back to the first book wondering when this happened. It was maddening. I didn't remember it the way she did. I was tempted several times to stop reading this book and reread Prince of Thorns. Then, I reached a point in the story where the narrator explained why I didn't remember said event the way this female did. All I can say is well played author.

Writing this way could go wrong. Just like his first book, the author explains nothing. As the reader, we are simply taken along for an intense and sometimes maddening ride. This story is a puzzle but no matter how many ways you examine it, the tale never turns out quite the way you expected it. It's unpredictable without the ending coming out of left field.

The story is dominated by men which is not a problem for me. The two main women in this story are amazing. In most books I read, I tend to favor the males over the females. I usually just put up with the women but the two in King of Thorns were awesome. They remind me of the queen from 300. If they're afraid of something, we wouldn't know it. They hid it under several layers of steel. Well, not really hid, more like they see what they're afraid of, acknowledged it but don't let it control them. I love female characters like this.

Now that I've finished King of Thorns, I don't know what to read next. Everything on my shelf pales in comparison. Wish there were more books like this one.