It’s Friday again, so you know what that means! It’s #FirstLineFriday! Here are the rules if you don’t know them: on Fridays, you write a blog post titled #FirstLineFriday and write the rules down. You then post the first line or first two lines of a potential work, a work-in-progress, or a published story. Then you ask your readers to give their thoughts on the lines.

This week’s selection is from an idea for a novel I had earlier this week involving chimeras. I think it has potential:

Wes glanced up from the bed at Tommy, who was nervously grooming himself in the mirror. If tonight’s job goes well, Wes thought happily, I’m going to marry that man and we’re gonna hightail it out of this fucking city.

That probably wasn’t the beginning you thought it was going to be, was it? If so, good. I love defying expectations.

But what are your thoughts on this? Notice any errors I should fix? Does this seem like something you would read? Let me know in the comments below.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. It’s almost the weekend, so the chances of me posting something this weekend are pretty high. Until then, have a good one!

It’s been one week since what could very well be the series finale as well as the third season finale of Hannibal, based on Hannibal Lecter and other characters created by Thomas Harris, premiered. NBC has declined to keep the show going, and while the show’s producers Bryan Fuller and Martha De Laurentiis, as well as series star Mads Mikkelsen and the many, many fans of the show (“Fannibals” or “Lecterites”, if you will), would love to see the show go on in some form, there is a chance that the show will have to hang up the carving knife and that everyone associated with it will have to move onto new projects.

Personally, I hope that the show is still able to go on, maybe as a feature film as Fuller has hinted at, or maybe moves to Starz or Amazon (though if it’s the former and not the latter I may have to wait till the show is on DVD or Netflix, depending on my financial situation). Also, I think it’s a good investment to keep the show going. Yeah, Hannibal has always been ratings-challenged, which is why NBC cancelled it in the first place. However, they knew a show focusing on a serial killer was a risk to begin with, and they still went with it for three years, as did huge legions of fans.

Why? Well obviously Hannibal Lecter is a famous character who was already well-known because of Harris’ novels, the movie Manhunter, and the three Anthony Hopkins films. But that only drew people to the show in the first place. The reason they stayed is because the show’s creators managed to take the concept of a serial killer show, and elevate it to art. Fuller and his team could’ve simply created a simple procedural show with serial killers like The Following with a famous literary and film character in the mix. Instead they built on that premise and made most of the sets exquisite to the eye, turned ordinary conversations into psychologically and philosophically engaging character explorations that could evolve into verbal tennis matches sometimes, and gave every shot a purpose in how it was filmed.

Add into all that the brilliant characters: Hugh Dancy as the socially-troubled empath profiler Will Graham, Lawrence Fishburne as the ends-justify-the-means, will-do-anything-to-catch-the-killers FBI director Jack Crawford, and of course the quiet gentleman devil with a love of grilling up those who are rude or offensive, Hannibal Lecter himself. Every character brings something to the table, making you want to watch them interact with each other right up until the very (sometimes bloody) end. And of course, the brilliant writing. Even at the show’s less exciting moments, the writers till were able to make you want to keep watching, to find out what happens next. From the growing relationship between Will and Hannibal in the first season, to the terrifying flash-forward at the beginning of the second season, and Will’s struggle to truly rid himself of Hannibal in the third season, it just kept you watching.

Hannibal is art. Creepy, bloody, psychologically strange and terrifying art, but it is art nonetheless, and that’s something you don’t usually see with television shows. I honestly can’t say if Hannibal will go on in some form or another (I’m not psychic), but if it doesn’t, at least we know that it had an ending that tied up most of the loose ends of the story, and the ones left behind we can easily guess at. And with streaming and DVD releases, fans could still watch it and relive the beautiful psychological horror that the show was.

Still, I hope for more. The show was awesome, and Fuller had a vision to continue the show, even if he couldn’t get the characters from Silence of the Lambs (I would’ve loved to see how they changed up Clarice Starling and Buffalo Bill, seeing as I found one annoying and the other slightly comical). If allowed to continue, we could see some award-worthy horror on our screens someday.

So while we wait and squirm and wonder at the show’s fate, I’ll continue to hope. Because if the story of the strange relationship between a man and a monster in a man’s skin can intrigue me and so many other people, then surely it can attract a TV executive or two. And the story that ended too soon won’t end at all.

Oh and NBC, why do you keep doing this to me?! First Dracula, then Hannibal? Stop cancelling these creepy genre shows I really like!

My latest post from Self-Published Authors Helping Other Authors is out. This time, it’s When Should You Release a New Book? No seriously, when should you? I pondered that question, so I went to find out the answer myself. And this article is the result of what I found out. So if you’ve ever wanted to know when you should release your new book, this might help.

If you like the article, read some of the others on the site. Self-Published Authors Helping Other Authors is full of helpful advice on writing, editing, publishing, and marketing independently and doing it well. I should know, I’ve benefited from it in many different ways.

All for now, my Followers of Fear. Things to do, people to scare. Bye!

Rest in peace, Wes Craven. You will be missed.

The word craven means “lacking in courage; cowardly.” I’m hard-pressed to find a man who embodied the exact antithesis of the meaning of his last man, and who instead managed to pass it onto the rest of us. Wes Craven was a filmmaking genius, a horror maestro who helped to create some of our most iconic movie monsters, including Freddy Kreuger and Ghostface. It is with great sadness that I have to admit that he passed yesterday after a lengthy battle with brain cancer at the age of 76.

I remember the first time I watched the original Nightmare on Elm Street. I was somewhere in my teenage years, and I was in my dad’s basement watching it on DVD. From the very beginning the movie set itself apart from other horror movies I’d seen in the past. The small box displaying Freddy preparing his trademark clawed glove, as if he were coming out of a long retirement to start some marvelous work again. That first dream sequence and death, and everything that came after it. Nightmare was visceral, it was scary, and at the end you wondered what was dream and what was reality, or if maybe they were all one and the same. For a guy who hadn’t had that much exposure to the horror classics of the 1980s (I might’ve only recently turned seventeen at that time and gotten access to my library’s collection of 80’s horror, most of which was rated R), it knocked me off my feet and made me want more.

You see, horror is my drug, and the Nightmare movies were really good blow. In Wes Craven, I’d found a powerful dealer, someone who could give me what I needed when I needed my horror fix. I would later find terror when I saw the Scream movies, and quite a few more (I really liked what he did with the North American remake of Pulse). You could go to him and usually he could provide the goods. Occasionally Craven produced some bad stuff—every filmmaker does occasionally, and in horror bad stuff is pretty common—but on the whole he did great work.

And how did Craven feel about these many fans, these people who saw him as a person who fed their inner desires for terror and probably gave more than one child nightmares for the rest of his or her life? To use his own words, “I come from a blue-collar family, and I’m just glad for the work. I think it is an extraordinary opportunity and gift to be able to make films in general, and to have done it for almost 40 years is remarkable…If I have to do the rest of the films in the [horror] genre, no problem. If I’m going to be a caged bird, I’ll sing the best song I can…I can see that I give my audience something. I can see it in their eyes, and they say thank you a lot. You realize you are doing something that means something to people.”(1)

Indeed Mr. Craven. You did something to many people. You gave us iconic characters like Freddy or Ghostface to haunt our dreams. You helped launch the film careers of Johnny Depp, Sharon Stone, and Bruce Willis (no seriously, he did). And you inspired generations of horror fans, from your protégé Nick Simon, whose new movie The Girl in the Photographs will premiere at the Toronto Film Festival next month, to me, a self-published novelist who, while not exactly famous yet, is working hard to create his own stories that maybe one day will scare people far and wide.

So while you may no longer be with us in Mr. Craven, you are very much alive. Like one of your creations, you haunt us in our imaginations and our dreams, making those you inspired take to their pens or computers and create their own wonderful nightmares. And as long as people fear Freddy or Ghostface or those Hills that have Eyes, you will continue to walk among us, leaving your mark wherever you go and giving us our fix when we ask for it.

So tonight, I will raise a toast to Wes Craven, a man with a vision, taken from us when we didn’t want him to go. I will get online and see if I can get a fix from one of his movies. And then soon, possibly tomorrow, I will get to work on my next terrifying creation and hope your ghost whispers in my ears while I do.

You know, my experience with Asian horror films has been rather hit-and-miss, and even some of the hits have had their share of problems. This one however, at least in my humble opinion, is a hit with very few problems, if any. And considering that I found this film by accident, with no idea what it was about or what most of the critics thought, I’m really glad I decided to watch it.

Someone Behind You (also known by its North American title, Voices) follows a South Korean girl by the name of Ga-in, a happy and pretty girl on her school’s fencing team whose life suddenly takes a turn for the worse when her aunt is brutally murdered in an act of rage on her wedding day. Whispers go around that Ga-in’s family may be under a curse, and when Ga-in is attacked herself, she has to unravel where the curse comes from if she wants to survive.

From the very beginning, this movie has you terrified and on your toes. The filmmakers create a great atmosphere using lighting, music, and scares to really immerse you in the film, and the actors are great. When they are sad or angry or murderous, you feel the emotion behind it. And the story itself, with its many twists and turns, will keep you guessing about what will happen and about the nature of the curse (is it caused by rage? Jealousy? General resentment over something? Is there even a curse at all, or is it just a metaphor for letting your emotions get the better of you?) right up until the final scene.

My one criticism is that Ga-in comes to trust Seok-min, a mysterious transfer student who in horror terms is “the creepy outsider character” and seems to know something about the curse’s nature, a little too quickly. Why doesn’t she question him about his knowledge more? Why is she so willing to take him up on his advice? Makes no sense to me.

Overall though, this is a creepy film, and I’m very glad I stumbled upon it. You’ll get scared, you’ll be trying to guess what’ll happen right up until the very end, and when the final secret is unveiled, it’ll blow you away. On a scale of 1 to 5, I give Someone Behind You a 4.5 out of 5. I hope I find more Asian horror films like this one, because nothing lifts my mood like a good scary story.

Now if you don’t mind, I have to go hide. I think that curse is after me now! AAAAAAAH!

I’ve just finished a new story, “Stuck in the Horror House” (not to be confused with a previous short story of mine, “Hunt in the Slaughterhouse”). I’ve been working on this story for weeks, and at one point I had to go back and start rewriting it because I was dissatisfied with the way the story was progressing. But now I’m glad that the first draft is finished. And it’s a long first draft too, 12,607 words, making it a novelette. Boy, when I have a story to tell I just don’t care about word count these days, do I?

“Stuck in the Horror House” is a story inspired by an episode of Ghost Adventures. In one episode, the GA Crew investigates a factory that has been converted into a haunted attraction, and one of the hauntings there was purported to be an actual demon, summoned by an actor there dressing up as Satan and reading verses out of an actual Satanic Bible and attacking said actor whenever he had the chance. That story stuck around with me, and so I ended up adapting it into a story. In this case though, I made the story about a bunch of teenagers who sneak into a haunted attraction during the off-season and one of them does a summoning ritual on a lark, which leads to all sorts of trouble. The protagonist of the story is telling his story to a psychiatrist, leading to questions about whether or not he’s imagined everything or if there’s truly a demon afoot.

Now, as far as first drafts go…I’ve had better ones. Even in the writing I could see places where this story can be improved in future drafts. But, like Ernest Hemingway said, most first drafts are shit. A lot of writing is revision, and that’s when the story really starts to shine and entrance. The first draft is laying down the bare bones so that they can form something extraordinary later on.

In the meantime though, I’m excited for where this story could go in future drafts. I definitely feel like with subsequent drafts it could make for a very terrifying story. Maybe it’ll even go into Teenage Wasteland, seeing as most of the main characters are 18 or 19 years old. We’ll see what happens.

In the meantime, I’m taking a break to watch a scary movie I recently found online. I might even write a review of it later. I also would like to write a blog post or two for my other blog, From the Voice of Common Sense, and I think I’ll take the time to write an article for Self-Published Authors Helping Other Authors before starting another story and then working on editing Laura Horn.

Yeah, I’m busy. And that’s not even including work or searching for whatever comes after my internship is over. And the way I work, I doubt I’ll ever slow down. Until next time, my Followers of Fear. Have a great rest of your weekend!

It’s Friday, which means Shabbat, the weekend, enjoying what might be the last real week of summer while you still can…and oh, #FirstLineFriday! Here are the rules: on Friday you write a post with the title like I have above, and you post the first or first two lines of a potential story, a story-in-progress, or a published story. Then you invite people to give their thoughts on the story.

Last week I did the first two lines of the second novel in a trilogy I hope to write someday (I did the first actually a while back, if I remember correctly). Here’s the third book’s opening:

A girl who looked to be about sixteen, slim and lithe, dressed in jeans, a dark jean jacket and a glowing neon mask, stepped into the DJ booth twenty feet above a crowded dancefloor. The club’s patrons roared for New York’s hottest young DJ, unaware that in reality this girl had been considered middle aged when their grandparents were probably still in high school.

Thoughts? Grammatical errors? Sentences too long? Let me know in the comments below.

All for now. I hope to be around later in the weekend, so keep an eye out for me, my Followers of Fear. Not a literal eye though; as cool as eye patches are, I don’t want you to have to get one on my account.