I’ve just written up and published my latest article from Self-Published Authors Helping Other Authors. Today’s article is Submitting Short Stories to Magazines. I figured that since a lot of authors, both traditional and independent, publish or attempt to publish short stories in magazines and anthologies, why not write an article that aims to help authors accomplish just that. And I plan to follow up on that article with another article about the short story submission process very soon, if I can, so keep an eye out for that.

And if you do decide to check out the article, please check out the rest of the website. Self-Pub Authors comes with many helpful articles written by indie authors for indie authors that aim to make self-publishing easy and cost effective. And you never know what sort of articles you’ll find on this website that could prove helpful in getting you some awesome reviews or a ton of readers or something.

That’s all for now. Have a good evening, my Followers of Fear. I certainly think I will.

Be very afraid.

AAAAAH! That was the reaction of several people in the audience at various points during the movie. Ever since I heard of As Above, So Below, I’ve been dying to see it, and that desire only increased after visiting the Paris catacombs themselves. So when my friend Ramsey, who went on the study abroad trip with me back in May, suggested we go see a movie this weekend, I had just the movie in mind.

Written and directed by Drew and John Erick Dowdle and starring Perdita Weeks and Ben Feldman, As Above, So Below follows urban archaeologist who finds a clue to an old mystery during a covert trip to Iran. Heading then to Paris with a documentary student and teaming up with an old flame of hers, she ends up realizing that what she is looking for may be more than just a legend, and goes into the Paris catacombs themselves to find t. But in the process, she finds so, so much more and in her search for the truth, she may just find her death.

Apparently taking a lot of work to film and bring together, the Dowdle brothers can be assured their hard work was worth it. The film’s slow build up of suspense, couple with the claustrophobic feelings of being in dark, underground tunnels (and watching it in a dark movie theater), lends to a creepy atmosphere that only gets heightened in the last act of the film, where monstrous visions and creatures appear one after another, eliciting those screams from the audience that I mentioned. The brother also know how to insert a twist into their script, by taking the last couple minutes of the movie in a direction that other directors might not have gone down, and completely subverting the rules of found footage films (for more on those rules, check out my article on them). And Weeks and Feldman as the film’s leads manage to portray a romance that doesn’t seem contrived or sappy at all.

My one criticism of the film is that at times, things move a little too slowly so that the terror and suspense dies down a little. Luckily at the drop of a hat it can be ramped up again, but I think terror throughout would’ve done more for the film. Still, it was a good horror film, and later over drinks Ramsey, two friends of his that he’d brought along, and I enjoyed a good hour or so of dissecting the film and looking at all the aspects of it, whether symbolical, plot-wise, or what terrified us in our seats.

Grading this film was hard, and I’m still not sure I was able to give it a good grade. Nevertheless, a grade must be given, so I’m going to go with a 4.4 out of 5. Great film, plenty of scares, and no bad sequel. If you like scares, you shouldn’t be disappointed with As Above, So Below. I know I wasn’t.

I did say back when I surpassed 25,000 views that another milestone was on the horizon. And this one has come to pass: as of last night, I have passed 666 blog followers! You know what that means!

He’s coming for us all!

Actually, it doesn’t mean that. This is just a milestone I set up for myself. I don’t really think it has any relevance whatsoever to the demonic, especially since technically at this point I have 668 followers. And I don’t even believe in Satan as the Lord of Evil, so I don’t think I’ll be getting a visit from him any time soon.

Still, I’m happy that I’ve reached this milestone. It makes me feel like a seriously bad-ass horror novelist. And it just shows that I’m doing something right. Lately I’ve been getting a lot more views and followers on my blog, and there’s even been more people interested in checking out and buying my books, which makes me extremely happy. Thanks to all of you for helping me out and supporting me.

Well, that’s all for now. I just wanted to put that out there. You all have a wonderful day that’s hopefully free from demonic activity. And as it’s the first day of football season…GO BUCKS!

Reborn City

Boy, I’m not sure my life could get any better. Things have just been going so well for me these days. It’s like my Tarot was right and fortune really was just around the corner.

Today, my science-fiction novel Reborn City received a new review on Amazon. This new five-star review makes for two 4-star reviews and five 5-star reviews, for a total of seven reviews and an average score of 4.7 out of 5. As you can expect, I’m super excited and super-grateful for all that’s been going on and can’t thank the people who make it happen enough.

This latest review comes from Marc Neiwirth, one of the people to whom my second novel Snake is dedicated to (speaking of which, he just downloaded a copy of Snake today. I hope he likes it when he gets the chance to read it). His review, which he entitled Fantastic First Novel (I love that he capitalized the first letter of each word), goes like this:

This is an extremely commendable effort by a new young writer, whom I believe we will see much more of in the years ahead. Rami Ungar’s vision of a frightening dystopian future is peppered with those elements that make us all human. There are quite a few surprises in the book, and I am anxious for the next volume in the series to be released.

Marc, your words mean a lot to me. I’m glad you enjoyed it and that you found parts of it surprising. Sadly, since I have to focus on schoolwork and my job at the financial aid office before I can do creative writing, editing Video Rage is on the back burner at the moment. Still, there’s a good chance I’ll find time to do editing later on in the semester. I’ve done it before, so I don’t see why it can’t happen now.

In the meantime, if you would like to check out some of the other reviews of Reborn City, or if you’re interested in getting a copy for yourself, you can check out Reborn City’s page or you can check it out on Amazon and Smashwords, where it is available in e-book and paperback (but only through Amazon for paperback). And if you end up liking what you’re reading, please let me know what you think, either in a comment or a review. Positive or negative, I love feedback and I want to hear yours.

That’s all for now. I’ll do a little more homework and then try to relax. Have a good night, my Followers of Fear. Pleasant nightmares!

My brain at work.

It’s been not even one full week into the new semester and there have been some interesting developments in the classes I’m taking. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’m taking a creative writing course this semester. The course requires us to turn in two short stories and a revision of one of them at different points throughout the semester, though not necessarily in that order (I wanted to turn in a revision and two original short stories, but I don’t have anything to revise at the moment, so forget that). And as I’ve also mentioned in previous posts, Ohio State’s English and Creative Writing departments tend to focus on classic and literary fiction. Genre fiction doesn’t often get as much discussion in Denney Hall.

I came into class with the idea that we were going to be writing several literary short stories during the semester, and even had a list of ideas for stories I could write. Imagine my surprise when my teacher announced that we could turn in genre fiction, so long as it was interesting. Yes, she said that. As long as it’s interesting and doesn’t hold to time-honored (0r time-worn) conventions, I could turn in something from genre fiction. The following conversation then ensued:

Me: So I could write a terrifying horror story, and as long as it is interesting and doesn’t hold to conventions, I can turn it in?

My Professor: Of course.

Me: Party time.

You can probably tell I’m excited. I love writing horror stories, and with the focus on finishing the first draft of Laura Horn and editing Video Rage taking up most of my time this summer, there hasn’t been all that much time to seriously focus on writing a decent scary story or two. However, there’s been plenty of time to accumulate ideas for short stories, so at the next available opportunity, I plugged in my flash drive and started looking over the Word document that contains all my ideas for short stories.

So much to work with, so little time.

What a list that was, with 294 entries at last count. Yeah, I know. And no time to seriously work on them. One of these days I’m going to have to set aside a period of time where I won’t work on any novels and I’ll just work on reducing the amount of ideas on that list, maybe put out a couple more collections of short stories.

But the other night when I went over the list, remembering ideas I hadn’t thought of in a while (good thing I keep a list!) and trying to remember what I was thinking of when I wrote down the idea I had for certain stories, I was looking for particular stories. They had to be the right length (under 10,000 words), they had to be one of the more interesting ideas I’ve had (I like to think they’re all interesting, but I tried seeing it from the POV of someone who’s not me) and I had to look for a story that wouldn’t be tied down to the conventions of horror.

And as many of the horror fans know, that last one can be tough. As the Scream movies, Cabin in the Woods, and Behind the Mask so wonderfully point out, horror stories often work within a certain narrative framework. This gives the writers who create these stories more freedom than you’d think as we struggle to please our fans who are looking for a certain product in their story, but there has been criticism (some of it well-founded) that horror stories can get a little too predictable, to the point where you get useful advice videos like this:

He does bring up some good points. Actually, a slightly paranoid fear of a horror movie death is why I’ve never smoke weed, drink sparingly, and I’m not violent outside of the books I write (I’m not commenting on the sex and abstinence part). I don’t want to die like that. That would suck! Especially if somehow my soul gets trapped in the place where I was murdered or is digested by whatever killed me or something. That would suck even more!

So in the end, I managed to pick out about eight or ten short stories that I thought fit the bill for what I was looking for, and I selected two out of them. Neither of these stories have any particular reason as to why I chose them. I just thought they were very unique and that they would be choices my teacher and classmates wouldn’t find boring or stereotypical. In fact, I’m hoping to keep them on the edge of their seats with suspense.

And as for what those short stories are, I’ll give you some hints. This is the hint for the short story I’ll probably start work on sometime next week:

And here’s the hint for the one I’ll probably start in late September, early October:

Anyone want to hazard a guess at subject matter and plot line? There are wrong answers, but no consequences if you guess wrong.

Well, that’s all for now. I have some homework to do if I want to get any form of creative writing done, so I’m off to do that. Wish me luck, and have a good weekend, my Followers of Fear. I’ll let you know the progress of each of these short stories as there is news to report and maybe even let you know what my classmates think. Hopefully they will be terribly scared.

I am pleased to announce that at some point last night, Rami Ungar the Writer passed the 25K view milestone, something that I’ve been looking forward to for a long time. At the time I am writing this, I actually now have 25,013 views. And I have only one thing to say to you:

These days, this is my default let’s-party-because-we-have-something-to-celebrate song. You like?

Anyway, back on subject. I’ve brought it up numerous times when I make it to important milestones, but I remember during the first year or two of blogging (which were also my first year or two as a student at Ohio State), it was rare for me to get views. One or two views a day was the most I could expect, and it was kind of disheartening to see so few people reading my blog. At times I even thought about quitting. But I kept at it, buoyed by the occasional follower or comment, and by the many articles I wanted to write or had inspiration to write. And people kept coming for some reason.

And now, I have reached a huge milestone in my blogging, with at least eight views a day helping to propel me to twenty-five thousand views. And I’ve got to thank everyone who’s visited, subscribed, liked, and commented on my blog for it. Thank you so much for your support and love. It means a lot to me and keeps me working hard so that someday I can be a really successful novelist.

Well, that’s all for now. I’ll hopefully post something else before the end of the day. How can I not? Not only do I have a ton of stuff I want to write, but I have another milestone coming up. Yes, I have another one on the horizon, believe it or not. If I get it within the next couple of days, I’l post about it. Until then, thanks for all your support, and I hope I can continue to count on your support for a very long time. Have a great weekend, my Followers of Fear.

Tonight is the last night of summer break, right before the new semester starts. Later I’ll be cracking open a beer and savoring what will most likely be the end of my last summer break before heading to bed. And all around Ohio State, all around Columbus, all around Central Ohio and even farther beyond, many OSU students will be doing the same or similar things, finding ways to relax and get mentally prepared for 16 weeks of classes, studying, part-time jobs, campus events, clubs, trying to eat healthy, not fall off the wagon, maybe talk to that special person you keep seeing around campus and maybe see if a romantic relationship is in the cards.

What none of us want to have to hope for though, is something that we should all be hoping and working actively towards: a year without school shootings.

I know that’s a somewhat silly thing to hope for. According to StopTheShootings.org, since 1992 we’ve had 387 school shootings in the United States since 1992, or about 17.6 a year. Most of the shooters tend to be between the ages of 10 and 19, the same age as a majority of victims. And children ages 5-14 are apparently thirteen times more likely than children from other industrialized nations to be murdered by guns. Statistically speaking, we’re up against some tough odds.

So what can we do to minimize shootings? I do not feel that making guns easier to get hold of is a very good option. Do we fight arsonists by lighting fires ourselves? Or do we stop thieves by stealing from them? Clearly not. Improving mental health is one option that has been advocated for (and is the only one Congress has actually gotten their lazy butts up to pass). Still, mental health won’t make the problem go away. We hear reports every day from Chicago of inner-city violence being committed with guns. In fact in the past twenty-four hours 2 people died and ten wounded from guns. Clearly, not everyone in Chicago who’s fired a gun is mentally unstable or challenged, so more must be done.

Clearly, no one wants to think of a campus like this as the possible scene of a shooting. But nevertheless, reality dictates we consider the possibility for our own safety and the safety of others.

Another option is placing some limitations on what is portrayed in the media. As much as I hate to admit it, there has been correlations between amount of violent content taken in while watching TV or playing video games and aggression. However, that is only showing the correlation between violent content and aggression, not gun violence. People who get aggressive playing games don’t necessarily become killers, and violent content doesn’t always lead to thoughts of murder, if it ever does. Or in short, correlation doesn’t mean causation. Not to mention that media is often a reflection of the society it is created in, so it seems unfair to artists who are trying o create a harmless representation of their worlds because it might contribute to real world problems. And if we were to police media that could cause violent conduct, we’d have to start with the Bible, because long before guns became an issue, the Bible was encouraging people to kill in the name of God, and in far greater numbers.

A third option is placing limits on guns, where they can be sold or distributed, what sort of guns are available, and where they can be openly carried or who can carry them. Studies show that states with stricter laws of this type have lower rates of murders or suicides because of guns than states without them. And a vast majority of Americans support laws like universal background checks, even within the NRA. And in Australia, the number of mass shootings fell steeply after they initiated a ban on automatic weapons. Clearly placing restrictions such as these might be helpful in reducing gun violence.

We don’t want to see any more memorials like this one created after Sandy Hook, do we?

Sadly, there’s a huge lobby against stricter gun regulations in the United States, and more laws seem to have been passed that have eased gun restrictions rather than tightening them. I don’t want to go into the arguments these lobbies have given against tighter regulations, but it is troubling that a lobby made up of companies that sell guns are advocating for laws that will increase their sales. The best way to combat this sort of lobbying might be in cutting corporate influence in elections and lobbying, but of course that is another difficult and controversy-fraught issue altogether, so I won’t delve into that either.

Finally, some have suggested training school officials in firearms or hiring full-time security guards. While I’m sure there are teachers who would be willing to be trained in firearms and keep them in the classroom, I’m sure there are plenty of teachers who would not feel comfortable with firearms in the same building as them, let alone in the same classroom. Some would even refused to be trained. And even if there were teachers or faculty willing to be trained and keep guns in the classroom or office, there are security risks to this method, especially if students were to get their hands on the guns. And while I like the idea of a trained officer or several on campus to protect students, some school districts do not have the funds to pay for a full-time security guard. And in overcrowded school districts, particularly ones with histories of gang violence, it’d be difficult to check students each and every day for firearms.

Perhaps the best option would be a combination of all of these. Sure, implementing any ofthem would require a lot of work, cooperation, dedication, and compromise on the parts of several people and parties, but in the end, a combined approach to a problem often yields more results than a singular approach (especially if that approach features some major logic flaws). And in the end, working together might bring together this highly fractured country and make it a bit more unified than it’s been in recent years.

So let us work together. Let’s stop the partisan and ideological bickering to start working on a solution to a horrific problem. Eighteen shootings are supposed to happen this year. That’s eighteen tragedies we can avoid. Even doing minor things like teaching children about gun safety or by forming neighborhood watches can do worlds of good. Because our children, and the nation at large, deserve so much better than another Virginia Tech, Columbine, or Sandy Hook. At least, that’s what I think, as I hope and pray for a school year without a shooting.

Please note that I will be screening comments for this post, so be aware that any comments that I find insulting, unacceptable, or off-topic will be deleted immediately. Thank you for your participation in this ongoing discussion.