Good morning, my Followers of Fear. It’s Halloween, the day of the year when my powers are at their greatest, and I am at my most terrifying. In fact, I woke up this morning and I wasn’t me. I looked like…well, if you scroll down below you’ll see what I woke up as.

In the meantime, I thought I’d share some videos with you guys in honor of the holiday. Nothing too scary, I promise you, just some fun Halloween-themed videos like the title of this post promises. Unless of course you’re very easily scared, in which case I can’t guarantee how you’ll react, but I hope it’s a hilarious reaction and someone films you when it happens.

Our first video has been on the blog before. It’s a great video, it’s got wonderful rhythm and rhymes, and it’s got two very influential writers featured in it. It’s Stephen King vs. Edgar Allen Poe in their Epic Rap Battles of History video! It’s the only one of ERB’s videos I have on my iPod as well. You can see why I have it on this list.

Our second video is something I discovered this past summer. Jack’s Halloween Treats is a lite version of the movie Trick ‘r Treat. Of course, because it’s YouTube there’s nothing too terrible, and it’s even got a moral theme. Also, I like this artist’s work (she even did a very interesting take on Frozen‘s “Let it Go” not too long ago) and the video gave me an idea for a Halloween-themed novel that I hope to write someday soon.


Up next on the menu is independent artist and YouTube star Alex Boye. I love this guy, he does some very interesting stuff, like taking traditional songs and remixing them with an African beat. As far as I know though, this song is his original work, and it’s for a very good cause. I hope you like the song and the video. I certainly did.

Number four is a recent upload to the YouTube scene. Lady Killers is a take on how sexy versions of our favorite monsters may not actually be that sexy, but could just be very terrifying. It’s kind of funny, not really that sexy, and sort of scary too.


Our final video is like our first. No particular reason why, except maybe I like the video, and I thought that it’d be good to end this post with the similar kind of video to the first one. This is not Epic Rap Battles though: it’s Animeme Rap Battles. Check out Slender-Man vs. The Unwanted House Guest.

Well, I hope you enjoyed this post and the videos in it. Whatever you’re doing for Halloween, I hope you have an excellent time and please let me know what you’re going as. Have a spooky good time, my Followers of Fear. RAWR!

How do I look this morning, my dears?

How do I look this morning, my dears?

Oh, and sorry if any ads keep you by about fifteen seconds or so from watching the videos. Can’t control that, as much as I try.

Me at Buckeyethon 2014. I hope to be on the black team this year. I'll even go Goth for the occasion.

Me at Buckeyethon 2014. I hope to be on the black team this year. I’ll even go Goth for the occasion.

It’s happening again! I’ve signed up for Buckeyethon, a fundraising event through Ohio State that raises money for the Children’s Miracle Network, an organization that funds research into juvenile cancer (at least that’s how I’ve always understood it). This is my last year at Ohio State, so unless there are rules I don’t know, this is also my last time fundraising for Buckeyethon. And also the last time I’ll attend a dance marathon if I reach my goal. Kind of makes me sad.

Anyway, the goal for this year is a bit higher than it was last year. Instead of raising $100, I have to raise $250 to reach my goal. Considering the university is trying to break their record and raise one million dollars this time around, I’m not at all surprised that the goal’s higher, but that still means I need to raise a lot of money. And if everyone who followed this blog donated just one dollar, not only would I far exceed my goal, but it would also bring the university that much closer to its own goal, and would probably make a pretty good dent in the toll that cancer, particularly juvenile cancer, makes every year on people and on families.

Now I know not everyone will be able to or even want to donate. Some will be suspicious of this just due to the fact that it’s coming through a blog and it’s from someone they don’t even know. But the impact we could all make together against cancer and to help many families who have to live through a nightmare that is all too real would be so powerful. So if you feel comfortable with it, I ask you to please donate however much you want to donate. If you do, I’d be most appreciative and grateful for your contribution.

Oh, and Ephraim Ungar is my legal name. That’s why it’s listed that way and not Rami Ungar

If you would like to donate, please follow this link. And thank you so much for your contribution. You have no idea what it means to me or the families you’d be helping.

snake

How far would you go for love and revenge?

It’s been a while since I’ve had anything to say about Snake, but it looks like something came up today. Snake, my second novel, got it’s third review today. It also doubles as its first five-star review, and it’s the shortest review I’ve ever gotten. Eight whole words! I don’t think I’ve ever had such a short review before.

Since it’s been such a long while since I devoted a post to Snake, let’s do a quick recap. Snake is about a young man whose girlfriend is kidnapped, and the subsequent events cause him to go mad and become a serial killer so that he may find her again and kill the monsters who took her. It’s a very dark thriller, and I’ve heard it compared to Stephen King once or twice.

Today’s review comes from Jyoti, who had this to say about Snake:

Quite gripping story. enjoyed a lot reading this.

I’m glad Jyoti liked it. Thanks for reading! Always happy to hear back from the people checking out the stuff I write. And if you’d be interested in reading Snake, you can check it out on Amazon or on Smashwords in paperback or e-book (though the latter only has it in digital version). And if you end up getting a copy and like what you read, or if you hate it, or if you’re ambivalent, let me know in a comment or a review. Positive or negative, I love feedback from readers, so please don’t be shy.

I’ll let everyone know if anything else comes up. Write to you later, my Followers of Fear.

It’s been a while since I updated everyone on my novel-that-also-doubles-as-my senior-thesis Rose, but I have the opportunity to do so now. Especially since I can’t do my job search without updating my resume, and I’m waiting to hear back from a couple of people on whether I can use them as references.

Well, if you’ll remember my post on my first thesis meeting, you know I ended up switching to first person and rewriting some of the early chapters to make them darker. Well, this past Wednesday there was another meeting with my advisor and the other student I’m working with (I keep meaning to ask if I can use their real names, but I keep forgetting. Oh well, I think I’ll stick to M, my advisor, and P, the other student I’m working with). They had a lot of suggestions for me:

  • Probably a hold over from writing Reborn City and Video Rage, but I have a tendency to explain the stranger elements of the story. Works great for science fiction, but terrible for horror. So I’m trying not to explain the stranger aspects and let the story tell it through what happens.
  • There are a few comedy elements that I’m trying to cut out. We’ll see how that goes.
  • There are some things I will need to change for the first couple chapters, but that’ll wait for the second draft.
  • Most importantly, I’ve switched to narrating in present tense.

That last one is a big one for me. In a previous post, I mentioned that I probably shouldn’t narrate in present tense because I’m not very good or familiar with it and because I have the tendency to switch back into past tense. I explained that to M, but he insisted that I at least try it. His reasoning was that since I’ve been narrating the story in past tense with a first person narrator this whole time, it’s pretty much assumed that things will turn out for the best (probably true). Putting the story in first person would probably serve to add a little mystery and uncertainty to the story.

So I thought, might as well give it a shot. I’d switched from third to first person already, and that had brought about a definite improvement, though I have to work harder to make sure that Rose’s constant state of terror doesn’t start to sound boring. On the other hand, I was already comfortable with writing in the first person. One of my early attempts at writing a novel was in the first person, and for a story written in my early-to-mid teens I did a pretty good job. Writing in the present tense was something I’d hardly ever done before.

So I rewrote parts of Chapter Three to start with, the parts that needed some holes to be plugged so that the story could continue to flow.Then I wrote Chapter Four, and over the past twenty-four hours or so I wrote Chapter Five. Both of those chapters and the parts of Chapter Three I rewrote were written in present tense. And it is weird for me. I don’t know many other authors who write that way, so I don’t have an example to refer back to. I’m basically feeling it out as I go.

But I somehow managed to do it. And it’s been a rather dramatic shift, like the DNA of the story has been altered. I keep thinking back to that scene from the first Sam Raimi Spider-Man film, when Peter Parker’s DNA gets rewritten by spider-DNA, causing his whole self to change. It’s that dramatic a shift, like the whole thing has changed in a very important way while still remaining the same basic story. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like it before.

Well, I’ll keep writing it in first-person present tense, hopefully gaining a knack for writing stories like this along the way (it could be useful for a future story). I just hope that when we meet again on Halloween, I don’t have to do another major change to the story. Writing this thing’s been hard enough as it is with just a busy schedule. Writing in unfamiliar styles and with so many new rules or ideas to incorporate certainly makes the job a bit tougher.

Well, it’s late, so I’m going to bed. Hopefully I’ll start Chapter Six tomorrow after classes and homework. Wish me luck, my Followers of Fear.

Before I start, I just want to make sure everyone is aware that I’m not actually showing you how to curse someone. I do know how to do that, but I don’t want to share the method lest someone use it on me. That would suck. No, I’m talking about creating a curse for a story, one that would terrify all who read your work.

The thing about curses is that they are relentless and awful. A curse doesn’t discriminate based on how nice you are, how much money you make, what religion you belong to, or any other factor. No, once a curse locks onto you, it’s like you have a target on your back that you can’t get off, and you won’t get that target off until the curse has run its course (usually this means death). That’s what makes them so scary.

So how do you create a curse? First you need to decide on this:

Person, place, and/or thing. A curse is usually associated with a specific object, location, or person, though sometimes a curse can be associated with more than one of these (such as with an entire family, multiple houses, or a person who lived in a house). In the movie The Conjuring and its spinoff/prequel Annabelle (which I just saw recently), a curse was placed on the doll, allowing a demon to possess it and make havoc for anyone who came into contact with the doll. That’s an example of a cursed object. The house in The Grudge is an example of a cursed location, as well as an example of a cursed person (Kayako, the woman who lived in the house, is the one who carries out the curse). Another example of a cursed person is simply someone who has a curse placed upon them, making interaction with others difficult, if not impossible. Boy, would that suck!

This brings me to my next point, though:

The well is essential to Samara’s curse and origin story.

The origin story. Every curse has its story of how it came to be, and often that the basis of how the curse can be warded off (more on that later). Generally this involves some horrific event happening, causing the curse to manifest or be cast. For example, in the Buffy universe Angel’s curse was caused when he killed the beloved child of a tribe of gypsies, who restored his soul to him through magic. Another example is when Samara/Sadako from the Ring movies was trapped in the well and died, her soul was filled with rage and she infected a blank video cassette. And in The Nightmare on Elm Street franchise, Freddy’s curse came into being when he was killed in a fire by the parents of the children he’d killed/molested (depending on if you’re going with the original movie series or the remake).

 

The trigger. For a curse to take hold of a target, something specific has to happen. For instance, in the popular Bloody Mary legend (which I’ve tested numerous times, by the way), you have to say Bloody Mary three times in the mirror in order to summon her. In the Stephen King story Bag of Bones, the curse was triggered when a child descended from one of any of the families involved in a gruesome murder, whose name usually began with a K, got to a certain age (in the TV miniseries, this was simplified to just the daughters). And in the popular story The Monkey’s Paw, one had to make a wish on the titular paw in order to start the curse. Which leads to the fun part:

How the curse manifests. A curse manifests after the trigger has been…well, triggered. In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (yes, I’m pulling Harry Potter out), Katie Bell was put in unimaginable pain when she touched the cursed necklace. Touching the necklace was the trigger, and the pain was the manifestation. Another form of manifestation would be the Tecumseh curse, which was that any President elected in a year divisible by twenty would die in office (though Ronald Reagan and President Bush managed to get away). The election year is the trigger, while the death of the President is the manifestation.

How to ward it off. This is optional for literary curses, but it’s something you want to consider in creating a curse. In Jewish folklore, the demon Lilith tries to take the souls of newborns or eat them. However, if one has a mezuzah, a marker on one’s doorpost  that has the name of three angels on it, Lilith cannot enter the home and attempt to take the child. The angels whose names are on the mezuzah were the same angels who tried to get Lilith to return to Adam when she was still his wife. When she refused, they cursed her to become a demon and made it that she could not enter a home with their names on it (that’s how the origin story relates to warding off the curse).

The hamsa, a symbol prevalent in Judaism and Islam, is also good at warding off evil. It’s no good at warding off taxes though.

In another example, there’s a curse among some actors about saying the name Macbeth in a theater which leads to bad luck. Depending on who you ask, there are different methods to dispelling the curse, a popular one being to leave the theater, walk around the building three times, spit over one’s left shoulder, say an obscenity, and then wait to be invited back into the theater.

Containing/canceling the curse. This is also optional in writing fiction, but it should be considered. Two things one should consider when figuring out how to cancel or seal a curse is that it should be difficult, and that it doesn’t necessarily have to do with the origin story. In the movie The Unborn, the dybbuk couldn’t be stopped until it was exorcised. A similar thing happened in the third movie in the American Grudge movies, in which case an exorcism that sealed Kayako into a little girl was needed before she could be stopped. In Japanese onryo legends, the spirit needs to have whatever is disturbing it resolved or it will continue to seek revenge.And in Bag of Bones, Sarah Tidwell did not end her curse until her bones were dissolved with lye, thereby releasing her from Earth.

That’s how you create a curse. As for creating a terrifying story involving that curse…well, that’s up to you. I’m not going to give you directions on that. Not in this post, anyway.

Oh, and one more thing: I saw Dracula Untold and Annabelle at the movies today with a friend. Both were excellent, getting 4.5 out of 5 from me. But something in the latter film really stuck with me: near the end, the priest character says that evil can only be contained, it’s not created or destroyed (or something like that). I think that when you’re writing a scary story, especially one involving curses, that’s some pretty good stuff to keep in mind. True evil is not something you can easily be rid of. At least, not in my experience.

What advice do you have for creating curses?

Have you written anything with curses recently?

Are there any stories of curses that are your favorite or that I didn’t include? Tell me a bit about them.

It’s Week 8 of the semester, which means it’s time I update you on how I’ve been doing so far in the semester. So if you haven’t heard the news so far, I’m extremely busy. I’ve got five classes and a thesis I’m working on, and a part-time job on top of that. I’ve got barely any time for blogging, and I’ve completely cut out television. And if I didn’t manage to find time most evenings right before bed, I’d think pleasure reading was some sort of drug the young people are on these days (though from what I hear that’s not the case at all).

Anyway, I’ve somehow managed to keep my grades up, though I’ll definitely try harder for the next exam in my History of War class, I’m not satisfied with the grade I got on the first one. My History of Pre-Modern East Asia course is going well, though the recitation class is a pain in the butt, even if it is somewhat helpful. Shakespeare is pretty interesting. The teacher is a fun character, and I’ve enjoyed reading Taming of the Shrew and The Merchant of Venice (we start Othello tomorrow as well as take our midterm). And remember that Biology course where we mainly watched movies about human anatomy? It’s like what I expected and then it’s not: most of the films we’ve watched deal with a lot of aspects of human health, so we’ve watched documentaries on our healthcare system and vaccines, a biopic on Louis Pasteur, and films on mental conditions like autism, addiction, and schizophrenia, among others. I think this week we watch a film about an English professor with cancer, but I’m not sure.

My creative writing class has been where I’ve learned the most, probably. I think I’ve made it clear that short stories are not my forte, but I’ve gotten some ideas on how to improve my short stories and my work in general. Already I’ve posted on some of the advice I’ve gotten from my classmates for one of my other short stories, and I’m looking forward to what they say about my next short story when I turn it in two weeks from now.

I’m also learning a lot from working on my thesis. My advisor, the other guy who’s also working on a thesis, and I don’t always have a lot of opportunities to meet up due to everyone having busy schedules and just the craziness of life, but I’ve found our sessions so far illuminating. While work on Rose has been slow due to the short story I’ve been working on for class, I’ve gotten some good advice on how to improve it, including making sure that the tone and atmosphere of the novel is consistent throughout. When it’s finished, I feel like it will have already have been edited a little bit due to the feedback I’ve gotten in the sessions we’ve had together.

Well, that’s all for now. I’ve got work to do, so I’m going to do it. I’ll update everyone again on how my semester is going when it’s over, so have a good 8-10 weeks until then. Until then, Followers of Fear. Wish me luck with the rest of the semester!

I just finished the second short story I’ll be submitting to my creative writing class. This one is titled “Frauwolf”, and it’s about a woman who turns into a werewolf–or as she prefers, frauwolf, meaning “woman wolf”. Werewolf mean “man wolf”, so my character thought she’d coin a term for the ladies out there. Anyway, she turns into a werewolf, but at a certain point she can’t tell whether she’s actually changing into a wolf creature or if she’s nuts, and I write it so I make it hard for even the reader to figure it out either.

This story’s also significant because the main character and her partner are both women, and it’s been a long while since I’ve written any characters that were LGBT (I originally intended to make 011 from Reborn City gay, but I didn’t think it fit with the story I was trying to create, so I mase him just creepy and sadistic and possibly asexual). I’m wondering if having two women in love will influence how anyone sees or likes this story. As far as I’m aware, non-hetero couples are still not very prominent in horror fiction, and it’s common for those that are to die pretty early on or be shunted to the side where they won’t make that much impact in the story. Perhaps having them at the forefront will make a difference.

This particular short story was probably one of the hardest I’ve ever had to work with ever. I had to go back three times to the beginning and start over because I didn’t like the way the story was going. Thus, about two or three weeks that could have been devoted to my thesis were devoted to this particular short story. Finally on the fourth try I came out with a version I happened to like.

Still, considering how I’m more suited for writing novels, I doubt “Frauwolf” will come away from critique day without a lot of comments and plenty of edits to make. I say, bring it on. I’m pretty sure there’s plenty of stuff I could do to improve the story, and if I decide to try to publish it in a magazine or something, plenty of the story I could cut out and rewrite to be shorter. And considering how much I love this story’s concept, I’m really hoping to find ways to improve it.

In any case, I’m putting this story away until it’s actually time to deal with it. I’ve still got a thesis to work on and I’ve taken too long of a break from it to get this thing done. If I finish my homework early (and that happens a lot on Tuesdays, for some reason), I’ll get right on the next chapter. Wish me luck, because I’ve got a meeting with my advisor on Wednesday and I don’t want to tell him I have nothing new to send him!

Well, I’m exhausted, so I’m going to rest and relax till bed. You have a good night, my Followers of Fear. Sweet nightmares to you all.