Well ladies and gentlemen, it’s official. I stayed up too late working on it, and then I finished and did a word count, which took up more time, then I sent an email, and then I did a dance routine to one of my favorite songs to celebrate. Yeah, I’ve eaten up a lot of time to celebrate. And I think I miscounted on that word count.

But yes, the second draft of Rose is finished, thank God. I knew I’d get it done by late March, but I didn’t think I’d be so down-to-the-wire with it. And these last couple of days, I got through chapters like…what’s an original metaphor? Fellow Star Wars fans go through the movies on May 4th? That’ll work.

Anyway, if you don’t know much about Rose, it’s a novel I wrote as my senior thesis. I didn’t need to do a senior thesis, but I felt like doing it. And let me tell you, it’s been a challenge. I had to rewrite the plot at one point, and at times with school and work it was difficult getting through it all. But I managed to do it somehow, and I got through the second draft. Now all that’s left is the thesis discussion with my advisor Manny and one of my teachers who has agreed to read it (I have a feeling she’s going to be pretty terrified over the next week or so). The novel centers around a woman named Rose, who is brought back from the dead through very powerful magic by a man who claims to be her lover but isn’t all that he says he is. And that’s just the start of her problems!

Trust me, it’s as creepy as it sounds.

Anyway, here’s the page count and word count for the second draft. In terms of pages (as always, 8.5″ x 11″, double-spaced, 12-point Times New Roman) is 164 pages, about ten shorter than the first draft. In terms of word count (which I’ve recounted), it’s novella-length at about fifty-thousand words, or a thousand words shorter than the first draft. And still much shorter than the shortest Harry Potter novel, so pretty manageable.

Tomorrow, I’ll send a full manuscript to my teachers so they can prep for the discussion. I meet with my advisor on Thursday, so hopefully he’ll give me some tips for the third draft (though it feels like I’ve gotten a third draft thanks to all the help I’ve gotten with this story). After that, nothing to do until I take the next step, whether that be another draft or if I decide to go straight to publication.

In the meantime, I think I’ll take a short break, work on a few blog posts I’ve been meaning to do, read some books, and write a short story bfore I get back to what I was doing before the school year started. That’s right, I’ll get back to work on Video Rage. Rejoice, fans of the Hydras, because I’ll be back on it faster than Speedy Gonzalez.

In the meantime though, it’s late and I’m tied. You all have a good night, my Followers of Fear (or a good day, if you’re reading this over your morning coffee). I know I am.

Here’s an impression of some of my reactions while watching this film:

“Aah!”
and “Yikes!”
and let’s not forget “Oh my f***ing God!”

Yeah, it was a really good movie. It’s like watching the movie version of a Stephen King novel without actually having anything to do with Stephen King. Inspired by childhood nightmares of writer and director David Robert Mitchell, It Follows…well, follows Jay, a young woman who has recently been seeing a handsome young man named Hugh. One night they have sex in Hugh’s car, which leads to all sorts of trouble. Apparently Hugh’s passed on a curse, making Jay the target of a creature that can only be seen by those affected by the curse and follows them at a walking pace with the intent of killing them, and then going after whoever was the previous bearer of the curse. The only way to pass the curse on is to have sex with someone else.

The “sex equals death” trope has been part of horror since perhaps before Dracula or Frankenstein, but it’s so rare to see a well-worn theme reinvented like this, making the film a very strange metaphor for STDs and the overwhelming power they have on our lives. There’s also the fear of intimacy, alongside a fear of strangers and what they can do to us. That last theme is exploited pretty well in this movie, where every unknown character or extra could be It. Heck, at one point I was wondering if It was a squirrel, and I was afraid!

But that’s not all that makes this film awesome. For instance, the writing is phenomenal, starting slow but mysterious and quickly getting exciting. There’s barely any gore, and the jump-scares, rather than relieving tension, enhances the tense atmosphere that just builds throughout the film. The few moments of humor in this film seem to fit right in, giving us a short break from the constant suspense that characterizes It Follows throughout. And the way it ends is terrifyingly awesome, the perfect satisfactory ending (who knew I’d get that sort of ending just hours after my last post?). And the monster, so undefined and strange, is guaranteed to cause you terror, even at its strangest (and arguably slightly goofy) moments.

Not to mention the acting from the small cast, who are extremely talented! Special mention goes to Maika Monroe, the gorgeous actress playing Jay, shows wonderful breadth and ability despite still being very early in her acting career. I think I fell in love with her a little while watching her performance, it was that good. Also worth mentioning is Keir Gillchrist as Paul, a young man who obviously is crazy for Jay, and his earnest manner is so wonderful that you really want to support him no matter what happens. I definitely empathized with him, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who will.

I can say more about this film–it is phenomenal–but I don’t want to give away any more. Instead, I really encourage horror fans to go see this movie if you can. It’s creepy, it’s fresh, and you’ll have second thoughts about one-night stands forevermore. Just a wonderful example in the continuing trend of great horror films from the indie scene and made on smaller budgets that scare us more than any bigger-budget franchise film.

I’m giving It Follows a 4.5 out of 5. This film is a new gem in the horror genre, so much that I tried to get the poster from the box office after the movie (unfortunately they don’t give those away anymore, darn it). I’m almost kind of hoping for a sequel. God knows the film leaves open the possibility for one, and I wouldn’t mind having some questions answered and seeing Jay and her friends grow in the face of this threat. On the other hand, why risk the possibility of ruining a great story by making a sequel that might fail to live up to the original? It’s quite the dilemma.

Well, that’s all for now. I’m going to bed. Maybe I’ll have a nightmare that’ll lead to an awesome story of my own. One can only hope, right?

“I love a happy ending.”

You hear that a lot. People go to the movies or read books or watch TV shows or plays and they tell you that the happy ending is the best part. Some people won’t even check something out–movie, play, book, whatever–unless they know there’s a happy ending in the story, as if their whole enjoyment of this creative work hinges upon how it ends and nothing else.

But what is a happy ending? What is the definition of a happy ending? If you think about it, it’s not as easy a question to answer as it seems. It can actually vary between genres. In romance, a happy ending is that after many trials and tribulations the hero and heroine finally end up together, madly in love, and the villain, if there is one, either realizes the errors of their ways and repents for it or they suffer for the misery they’ve caused. In fantasy, usually the quest the characters set out upon is accomplished, though sometimes that has its own consequences (the hero dies or, like Frodo in LOTR, has been too affected by the events of the story to truly be happy). And in horror, happy endings aren’t easily achieved. If you’re lucky, you’ll survive and have most of your psyche intact. Anything else is up in the air.

And in some cases, happy endings don’t come at all. Take about a third of Shakespeare’s plays, or movies like Oculus, or the movie Godfather (everyone gets brought low in that film). How about stories where the enemy is defeated but someone dies tragically (Moulin Rouge). Or maybe, as in one of my favorite indie horror film I Am A Ghost, you are left with more questions than answers.

I think happy endings are actually pretty subjective and hard to define. Does everyone but the bad guy win? Do the lovers end up together? Does nobody come away with traumatic experiences? I think it’s easier to look for a satisfactory ending than a happy ending. A satisfactory ending is a conclusion that resonates with you, that you feel is the natural conclusion of this long story you’ve been reading/watching and brings out an emotional response in you that doesn’t involve disappointment. It makes you say, “I like how this ends.” And it’s much less likely to make you burst out crying because you’re so happy that all has turned out well.

How do you feel about happy endings or satisfactory endings?

What’s your definition of either?

snake

How far would you go for love and revenge?

(Warning! This review has some spoilers. Proceed with caution if you haven’t read the book and might read it in the future.)

I’m super-excited to announce that my novel Snake has gotten it’s fifth review, and it’s second five-star review. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this book, Snake is the story of a young man whose girlfriend is kidnapped and becomes a serial killer to find her (yes, I wrote that sort of story. It is awesome). This latest review comes from Ruth Ann Nordin, fellow author, contributor and administrator on Self-Published Authors Helping Other Authors (psst! Check out her blog. It’s got good stuff).

Her review, titled Good Thriller, was uploaded onto Amazon earlier today. Here’s what Ruth had to say:

I really enjoyed this book. When I selected “dark” for the mood, it was almost a toss up with suspenseful. You knew early on who the mafia killer was, but the question of how he was going to find his girlfriend and rescue her was suspenseful. I ended up choosing “dark” because of the level of violence our main character used in getting to the girlfriend. But he was a complex character. Even though he definitely had the dark side to him, there was a surprisingly good side to him, too. You don’t really see this until later on in the book. So early on, you might think this is an unredeemable character. But one of the most intriguing characters are those who aren’t what they initially seem, and for this reason, I enjoyed this character. The pacing was just right. It wasn’t rushed, and in no way did I ever feel it dragged, which is awesome for a book that was over 500 pages in paperback.

This book is violent, and it contains sexual situations. Some of it can be cringeworthy. So I wouldn’t suggest this for young readers. I’d recommend this only to adults. If it was a movie, it would be a strong R. There’s also swearing. These things don’t bother me as a reader, but I know it bothers some, which is why I mention it. But if you don’t mind these elements, I think you will enjoy this book. It’s a great thriller.

Wow, this is one of the best reviews I’ve ever received. And you’re probably right, it would get an R rating if this were ever made into a movie (I wish! If it does happen though, I’d like Dylan O’Brien to play the Snake and Molly C. Quinn to play Allison). And I got to say, the other critics agree:

Rami Ungar makes a promise to (the reader) in all his writings: he WILL scare you, and if he does “his job is done.” Snake will scare you. I am a huge Stephen King fan, so this should give you some idea of my tolerance level for gore, death and mayhem – I was scared. Rami takes you into places you would never have believed possible, and manages to pull his hero (and eventually his heroine) out of them against all odds. If you like to be scared. If you LOVE to be scared. You should read this book.

Angela Misri, author of Jewel of the Thames and Thrice-Burned

Well, I took yet another vacation where I made my family “just wait until I finish this chapter.” This page-turning read was another great effort by Rami. He is not afraid to take risks in plot twists and turns, character development and he takes the reader on quite the journey in this book. So looking forward to his next creation!

Michele Kurland

Anyway, I have to say thanks to Ruth for this wonderful review. I really appreciate it and I look forward to continuing to work with you. And I hope maybe we’ll be able to read each other’s works in the future (if there’s something up my alley that you wrote, I’d really be interested in reading it). Also Ruth, thanks for the private email with the suggestions on how to better sell and market Snake. Please know I am considering your ideas and if I decide to use them, I’ll let you know.

And if any readers here are interested in reading Snake, you can check it out on Amazon and Smashwords. And if you do decide to read it, please let me know what you think, either in a comment or a review. Positive or negative, I love feedback and always use it to improve my writing.

Also make sure to check out Reborn City or The Quiet Game if you haven’t already. Both have also gotten some pretty good reviews and I think you might find them very enjoyable.

Well, that’s all for now. Got a phone interview in the morning so I’m going to get ready for bed. Goodnight, my Followers of Fear. Pleasant nightmares.

My latest post from Self-Published Authors Helping Other Authors has gone live this morning. This post is a special one: it’s a collection of advice from our readers, sent over the past two weeks to my inbox, all the best writing, editing, publishing, and marketing advice from writers of all sorts and degrees of experience. We call it “What’s The Most Important Lesson You’ve Learned: Words of Wisdom From Our Readers.” And I have to say, it’s all very good stuff.

If you get the chance, you should really check out the article. And if you’re so inclined, check out the rest of the website. Self-Published Authors is a site from independent authors for independent authors and has the best advice on writing, editing, publishing, and marketing efficiently and with as little cost as possible. I find it extremely helpful, and I help write for the website!

Anyway, that’s all. Got plenty to do today, so I’m going to get on that. Have a great day, my Followers of Fear.

Once again, I’m updating everyone on the various projects I’ve been working on. God knows I’ve got many at various stages of completion. And only God knows why I’ve gotten myself stuck in these crazy projects. It is insane. Well anyway, here’s my updates:

Rose

I’ve just gotten two-thirds of the way through the second draft. I’d say I’ve got about two or three weeks before I’ve finished the draft. After that, I may or may not do a third draft (though I’ve gotten advice throughout the first two drafts, so that feels like a third draft). Once I’ve finished the editing process though, I’ll start the publication process (copyright, cover, what have you). Might get it out later this year or early next year. Either way, it should scare the pants off of people.

Video Rage

I’ve got a lot of people–most of them my family, I’m afraid to say–pissed at me because of the delays in this one. Sorry, my thesis has taken up a lot of my time, so I haven’t been able to devote any energy to Reborn City‘s sequel. However, I plan to get right back into VR as soon as I’m done with Rose. After that, I have a friend who gave me a great amount of help for RC, and after that it’s all publication. Like Rose, I’ll hopefully get this out late this year or early next year. Fingers crossed.

Laura Horn

I still plan to rework and rewrite this book, to make it better than the draft I finished last year. Not sure when I’ll get to it, but hopefully before the year is out. We’ll just have to wait and see.

The Dead and Dying (plus other short stories)

I know I said I’m working on another collection of short stories, but I’ve been busy with…everything and unable to actually do that much collecting. But I plan to get more short stories written after Rose and maybe include them in the collection. I’m still working on that short story involving witches, but it’s taken time to get it right. I’m exacting that way, I want as close to perfection as possible for this story. I might try to take a break with it though, work on some other ones. I have an idea for another witch story that’ll be a bit easier to pull off, so I’ll work on that instead.

Self-Published Authors Helping Other Authors

Got a new article coming out tomorrow morning, a very special one. I’ll write a post and include a link tomorrow. Trust me, it’s going to be great.

 

Well, that’s my updates. I’ll let you guys knows if anything comes up that’s worthy of knowing. And with school ending for me in a little over seven weeks or so, I’m sure there will be plenty of things worthy of posting about, my Followers of Fear. Good night everyone (or if you’re reading this over your morning coffee, good morning).

Otherwise known as a pretty amazing Korean horror film.

I first heard about this film from Rare Horror and was very interested (they’ve turned me onto a couple of interesting films). It took a while, but I finally tracked down and got my hands on a copy of this very strange Korean fantasy/horror film, directed by Yim Pil-sung and starring Chun Jung-myung. I have to say, I’m surprised this one hasn’t been given an American remake yet. It’s definitely the sort of story that makes you think of the success of The Ring or The Grudge.

Hansel and Gretel (or in its Romanized form, Heljelgwa geuretel; don’t ask me for the Hangul, I  don’t know how to get it on this blog) is about a salesman named Eun-soo who has learned that has gone on a trip to visit his sick mother, which may also be an excuse to get away from his girlfriend, who is four weeks pregnant. On the highway he gets into an accident and wakes up in a forest. He meets a young girl who takes Eun-soo to her home, where he meets her parents and her older brother and younger sister. At first glance, they seem like a 1950’s TV family from Korea. But from the moment he arrives, Eun-soo has senses something very strange about the house and the family here, confirmed when the parents up and leave, asking him to watch over the kids. Unable to leave the forest, Eun-soo tries to figure out the mystery of the house and the children and find a way to escape. And when he finally finds out the secret, it’ll change him forever.

This is definitely an interesting film. The sets and cinematography are excellent, like looking at a Christmas tableau with a horror hidden within it (which makes sense, considering Christmas is a running theme in this story). And the acting, especially from the child actors, is amazing. I forgot that these were actors, but thought they were their characters. This film is practically gore-less (yay!), doesn’t have many jump-scares (sad, but whatever), and works hard on building an atmosphere of dread, which works for it (especially if you turn off the lights and watch it in the dark like I did).

There are only two things I don’t like about this film. One is that it’s two hours long and may feel like a drag to people who like fast-paced stories with plenty of jumps and scares.The other is that when we finally find out how this whole creepy thing gets started, it seems a little riddled with cliches. But other than that, it’s a pretty creepy film with lots of dark, fantasy-based beauty. There’s plenty of character development and growth, which can be rare in horror films, and in the end you find yourself being very impressed with this journey you’ve gone on with the character.

I’m giving Hansel and Gretel a 3.5 out of 5. It’s a very strange movie, a lot of fun, and if you get a chance, check it out.  It’s already given me a few ideas for stories, so that’s definitely a good sign. I’ll definitely check out a few more Korean horror films if I can find some. Should be fun and inspiring.