I just published my latest article from Self-Published Authors Helping Other Authors. This one is “Gulf Coast Bookstore” and is about a new bookstore in Florida dedicated entirely to featuring the works of self-published novelists. I decided to write a post about it when I heard of it, but I couldn’t find the time until today to write it.

If you get the chance, please check it out, as well as check out the rest of the site. Self-Published Authors Helping Other Authors is a wonderful resource for indie authors, by indie authors, and from indie authors to help them write, edit, publish, and market as best they can. You should really check them out if you get the chance.

That’s all for now. Got plenty to do today, so I’m going to get on it. Preparing to go to Germany and all that. Wish me luck, my Followers of Fear!

I love it when I get nominated for these  blogging award memes, they always are such fun to spread on. Today’s nomination comes from my friend Katja, aka ImpossibleGirl123. I really suggest you check out her blog, which you can do by clicking on her online handle. You want to get the latest on anything Doctor Who, TV or movie-related, she’s your girl.

Okay, so first I have to give 7 facts about myself. I hope you find them interesting. I spent some time thinking them up:

  1. I once made a joke that I eloped with the ghost from the Ring movies and some people actually thought I’d gotten married. It was hilarious!
  2. I’ve tried playing the video game Outlast, but it’s so terrifying, that every time I do I end up shaking by the end of it. So there is something that scares me.
  3. Sometimes I find myself rocking out to Tailor Swift. Not sure why, but her songs are so damn addicting!
  4. I sometimes worry that despite my best attempts to advertise and get people to read my books, my small book sales are a reflection as either a writer or an advertiser. And when those thoughts are in my head, they’re sometimes hard to shut up.
  5. The biggest complaint I’ve had with Snake is that it’s ultra-violent. Considering that I wrote it while being heavily influenced by slasher flicks, that makes sense. Still, I wish the violence wasn’t such an issue with readers.
  6. I read too much manga. I love it, but it’s sometimes so many volumes per week and I’m trying to get through them all when I have such little time to read to begin with. Maybe with this trip to Germany I can break the habit and devote more time to reading less manga and more regular prose fiction. God knows I’d like to read the new Anne Rice, Robert Gailbrath, and a few other things on my Kindle.
  7. I recently came to realize that some of my experiences with ghosts may have been the result not of anything supernatural, but of sleep paralysis, a condition where a subject is half-awake but still dreaming, which causes a very powerful waking nightmare, which is why I thought there were ghosts or spirits in my room. Still, that only accounts for half the experiences. The other half is open to debate.

And now to nominate some bloggers:

A Portia Adams Adventure
Amaranthine Night by Joleene Naylor
Dellani Oakes

Thanks everyone for reading, and thanks again to Katja for nominating me. I can’t wait to hear what everyone else writes!

I’m going to tell you right now, I’m a little disappointed with this film. That might be because I hyped myself over this film due to the trailer being so awesome. However, I think a lot of it was because…well, it was a bad film. Not kidding. There was a little girl in the audience, I thought she was brave for coming to see this. She didn’t need to be brave. It just wasn’t scary.

I should’ve known a Poltergeist remake wouldn’t be good.

We all know the story, so I don’t think anyone will mind if I spoil this movie. If you don’t know the Poltergeist story, then spoilers ahead, and I wonder what rock you’ve been living under. Basically the filmmakers decided that since almost everyone knows the story about a family moving into a haunted house and the cute, innocent kid being abducted by the dead and her family having to go after her, they’d just update it for 2015, change some minor details, and throw the mythology at the audience, who will hopefully find it scary. Really, they would’ve done better going in a new direction, which Insidious did with a new mythology and some slight twists on the familiar formula, adding atmosphere, mystery, and surprise to scare us to death.

Here, like I said, they just throw the mythology at the audience. We’re drowned in it so that we  aren’t scared at all and the moments that actually halfway close to being scary were either included in the trailer and don’t have the same impact, or the sense of danger is just not there. For instance, there’s a moment with a power drill that could’ve been very scary, but the way it’s done you just know things will turn out fine before it does.

The thing about the original Poltergeist was that it took its time. It slowly built up the strangeness and horror and helped us wade into a mythology that would be expanded in the later two films. Here, the filmmakers are so concerned about paying homage to the original film that they rush us into it and pay homage to all that made the original scary in ways that just don’t terrify. “Look here!” “Here’s this reference!” That’s literally what they do.

Another thing is the humor in this movie. They try and insert humor at various times in the movie, and while humor in horror does help in some horror stories in-between terrifying moments, the ones here are all at the wrong places and seemed forced. They’re only barely funny. I think they would’ve done better not to insert humor at all the wrong places and instead try and expand on the character development of these barely-developed characters. Maybe show how the dad is trying to be a good provider even though he’s jobless and refuses to allow his wife to get a job and then show how he fixes that?

Also, why does the the little boy have a sink in his attic bedroom? There’s no bathroom up there, so why’s there a sink? Is it an unfinished bathroom or something? And I don’t care how much wiggle room there is on a house in a neighborhood with plenty of foreclosures and that was built on a cemetery. You don’t buy a freaking huge house like that when you have no steady income! Move into an apartment until you can find something better! You’ll avoid the ghosts too!

There are some good points to this film though. The few variations they make from the original are inventive and interesting, and the scene in the afterlife is much more visually interesting and creepy than the weird green screen effect they had in 1986’s Poltergeist II. And I like how the movie incorporates the ghost-hunting field and how some ghost hunters have become famous through reality TV. As a fan of some of those shows, I had a little laugh at that. Plus I don’t think this version has a curse on it (unless the curse either left the movie alone because it was so bad or it made the movie bad, in which case it’s a very intelligent curse we’ve got here).*

But other than that, not much going for this film. Even the “They’re here” falls flat where it should soar, which is just sad. On a scale of 1 to 5, I’m giving the Poltergeist remake a failing grade of 1.4. It’s almost as bad as the Friday the 13th remake. Almost as bad. Poltergeist wasn’t ruined by Michael Bay, and it didn’t use sex to try and utterly fail to liven things up (which is good, because two of the main female characters are under the age of 18).

All for now, my Followers of Fear. I’m signing off for the night. Let’s hope I find a good horror film next time around. I’ve gotten so many duds lately.

*If you didn’t know, the original Poltergeist is supposedly cursed because during one scene it cost too much to make fake skeletons and instead they used real ones dug up from actual graves. Between the first and third films, several members of the cast and others associated with the film died strange and/or violent deaths. Well, if you let monetary considerations overshadow your respect for the dead, you have to expect some sort of karmic backlash. Too bad it came down on the ones who didn’t deserve it.

Guten morgen, mein Anhanger der Angst. Translation: Good morning, my Followers of Fear.

Well, it’s official. I’ve found a job. I was going to wait to announce this when I had all the full details, but I was like, “F*** it,” and decided to post it. Besides, this is such good news, I can’t keep it under wraps for long.

So, if you haven’t seen my Facebook post or tweets yet, I’ve accepted a job with the US Army Civilian Corps, and I’ll be working through some point in September with them (possibly longer, but no guarantees). To be specific, I’ll be working with their Equal Employment Opportunity Office in Wiesbaden, Germany. Yeah, that’s right. I’m heading to Deutschland! It’s been a year since I’ve been to Germany, when I was in Berlin with my study abroad trip, and I’ve been wanting to go back to Europe ever since. I can say with great happiness that opportunity is come.

As for what work I’ll be doing, it’s mostly going to be dealing with policy changes, as well as a newsletter. Yeah, that’s right. I’m working on a newsletter. I actually landed a writing job. Can you say, “OH YEAH!”? Writing is my life, and this will help me work on my skills and build a portfolio.

I leave for Germany May 31st–ten days from now–and will arrive in the evening on the 1st in Frankfurt, which is not too far from the base I’ll be staying at. Some of the details are still being finalized, but that should be coming along soon. In the meantime, today I’m doing a lot of stuff related to getting ready to move out of my apartment and get ready to fly to Europe. Trust me, it’s going to be crazy!

And does anyone remember that Tarot metaphor I used back when I graduated? Well, it looks like that next cycle of my life is starting. How long it lasts or where it’ll take me, nobody knows. Still, I’ll be having a ton of fun as I dive right into this next challenge, and I hope you’ll stick with me as I enter the next phase of my life. Wish me luck, Followers of Fear. I’ll see you next time (probably in my review of Poltergeist).

A while back I said I was going to try and catch some more Korean horror films after seeing one that wasn’t too bad. Well, I just saw another one. And it sucked. So I’m sharing my thoughts on it here, partly because I feel like I should tell people in case they want to see it, and partly because I need to exorcise my thoughts on it or they’ll stew in my head for a while (never a good thing).

Cinderella is only very tenuously connected to the story we all grew up with. This movie follows Hyeon-su, a very pretty teenager who lives with her talented plastic surgeon mother Yoonhee. After one of her friends suffers a gruesome death after getting plastic surgery from Yoonhee, Hyeon-su starts to wonder about things her mother has kept from her. As more of her friends are attacked after getting surgery and as Hyeon-su’s mother starts to lose her mind, Hyeon-su must find the answers, all while being stalked by a blue-eyed ghost with a preoccupation for pretty faces.

While I give that the premise is good and the story told in the movie is very interesting as well, I have a lot of problems with Cinderella. I found myself having a lot of trouble understanding what was going on, the filmmakers didn’t do a very good job of emphasizing the supernatural elements so that you knew they were supernatural, and they didn’t do a good job explaining the mother’s dark secret very well either, making it so that the final twist loses its punch (if you actually find yourself not having to look up the Wikipedia article so you can have the final twist explained to you). Not only that, but the flashbacks are often forced on us so rapidly we have trouble figuring out whether we’re in the past or the present. Add in only a few real scares and that just shows how bad this movie is.

For what it’s worth though, the scares, when they do happen, are spectacular and frightening. And they do chronicle Yoonhee’s deterioration into madness quite well. And like I said, the premise is good, and the story they were telling would’ve been more impactful if they’d done a better job making the movie.

All in all, I’m giving Cinderella a 2.4 out of 5. Not great, but it was a good attempt, and if it had been done right, Cinderella might’ve been a great horror movie with an underlying theme of how some people, especially some South Koreans, are obsessed with beauty and achieving it through plastic surgery. I’d suggest a North American remake, but I have a feeling that that would just be another House at the End of the Street: great potential but poor execution.

My next review will probably be the Poltergeist remake coming out later this week. I’m a fan of the original and I’d like to see what they change in this adaptation (besides the little girl being a brunette and the medium being a forty-something Brit) and how scary it is. Judging by the previews, it should be plenty scary.

I might’ve mentioned this a few times on this blog and on my Facebook and Twitter pages, but I’ve been trying something new with my writing. As you probably know, I’ve been working on a couple of shorter works, a short story and what will likely turn out to be a novelette, since I finished the second draft of my thesis/novel Rose. Unlike previous shorter works, where most or all of the story has been laid out in my head and I’m just transmitting it to the page, I’ve been actually outlining these stories on paper so I have a better idea of where I’m going and to see if doing so improves the stories overall.

I decided to try this because of two things I’ve noticed with my shorter works. For one thing, I’m always worried about the final word count. Many fiction magazines only accept stories of a certain length, and I’m always worried I won’t be able to tell a compelling story within that space, so I try to wedge it in. Usually that doesn’t turn out the results I wish.

Another reason I’m trying outlining is that when I usually write shorter works, most of the story is mapped out in my head. But when I try to get the rest on the page, I sit there wondering which direction to go, how to tell the story just right. And depending on the story, this sitting and wondering can take a while before I actually figure something out and start writing.

For both of these reasons, I’m trying to outline my shorter works. The outlines themselves are just basic summaries of the events of the story, which works for me. It’s just enough information that I can work with it to write the actual story.

And the results have been very interesting. Having a clear direction of where I’m going by writing it all down beforehand not only cuts down on the time I spend on sitting wondering where to go, but having a definite idea of where I’m going makes me less anxious over the word count. It’s kind of…decompressing, in a strange way. I can just write the story as I intend it in the outline and not worry how long or short it is.

As for the stories themselves, the results have been rather mixed. For the first story Streghe, which I finished not too long ago, the outline didn’t help as much, but that was mostly because I kept going back and rewriting or changing the direction of the story. I’d like to write another outline for the second draft though, especially since I think there will be a lot that will change between the first and second drafts. We’ll just have to see what I come up with in-between drafts though and what direction I want to go with that story.

As for the story I’m working on now, a science-fiction story currently at about sixty-seven hundred words, the outline has been very helpful so far. I have a very good idea of where I’m going with the story, and in-between sessions of writing I’m able to lay out what I’m going to put down on the page next in my head, rehearsing whole scenes before I write them down. It’s been a lot of fun working on this one.

Based on what’s happened so far, I think I’ll continue to outline my shorter works along with my longer works for now. As long as it works for me, why not use it? It just goes to show that no matter what stage of your writing career you are in, you’re never too old or too late to learn a few new tricks. And boy, am I glad I learned this one.

Do you or have you ever outlined your shorter works?

What’s been the effects of doing so on your stories?

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I’ve been away from the blog for the past few days. Between working on a really awesome new story and the job hunt and everything else, I’ve been a busy guy lately. But since I’m here, I have a question for you all: where do you go when you want to feel creative?

Now, I define being creative as two different things: either when you’re having a lot of ideas for stories and projects you’d like to do, or when you have the energy to produce those ideas into reality and you can’t stop writing/painting/whatever it is you are doing. And with those definitions, you might have multiple places where you go to have either of these happen. For me, if I’m stuck for an idea or if I’m having trouble moving forward in a story I’m working on, I go take a shower (I might also do that because I’m sweaty or it’s been a long day but that’s beside the point). For some reason my mind unwinds in there and I’m able to come up with new ideas for stories or on how to modify existing stories so that they’re better on the next draft. I also often come up with new ideas during and after a group meditation. If you’ve known me for a while, you know I’m a big believer in the benefits of meditation, and I often find the energy produced during a group session helps my mind make new connections, perfect for coming up with stories.

As for the the latter definition, I like to spread out on either of the couches I have in my apartment and work on my laptop. Usually that’ll get me producing a couple of pages per session, depending on how into the story I am that day and how many distractions there are to keep me from writing. I also tend to favor one couch over the other, depending on the time of day. Not sure why, but I think it might have something to do about where the sun is shining during the day.

But how do we creatives find our creative spaces? That’s something that each individual has to figure out on their own. Some people make a single room in their home their creative space or map out a single space as the place where they get the most ideas and/or work done. I heard one novelist liked to sit on the rim of her bathtub while worked through her stories. Others go out of their homes to coffee shops or parks. And some will make do with anywhere they can get a moment, be that on the way to work each morning or on an airplane or in the laundry room while the kids are zoned out watching TV. A lot of it depends on the person in question, their circumstances and temperament, the places they go to write or whatever they do, the time of day, and a whole bunch of other factors.

It’s really interesting when you think about it. Where someone goes to be creative–either of the definitions I supplied above–can tell you a lot about what sort of person they are. The places I go are at home and where I might try and unwind after a long and stressful day, so you could say I like to be relaxed or unstressed when I’m working on something. And frankly, that’s true. When I don’t have a lot on my mind, I tend to find it easier to tell a story or come up with a new idea.

Where do you go when you’re trying to have a new idea or when you’re trying to create something extraordinary? Why do you think that place resonates with you so well?

By the way, working on a new science fiction story right now, and it’s coming along great. I’ll post about it when it’s done. I think a lot of people will enjoy this one, it’s got a very interesting premise to it.