I wanted to see this when it came out, but it came out after I moved, which means if I wanted to see it, I had to ride a bus about an hour one way to the nearest movie theater (and that’s just the start of the trip). Sucks, but on the bright side, the DVD came out only a couple of months after it came out in theaters, so I still get to see it relatively soon after it’s release.

So how did The Conjuring 2 stack up, both as a sequel to The Conjuring (which I gave a very good review) and as a horror film in general? I’m pleased to say, it stacks up pretty well on both counts. The film continues the story of real life ghost hunters Ed and Lorraine Warren (played again by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, the latter of whom I’ve yet to see in a bad role), giving another one of their famous cases the Hollywood treatment (because real life hauntings are never resolved this easily). This time they’re dealing with the Enfield haunting, a case in which a family living in public housing, particularly the daughters, are oppressed by some sort of demonic entity, as well as Lorraine dealing with a vision that supposedly shows her husband’s death.

Like its predecessor, The Conjuring 2 knows how to tell a scary story. Both jump scares and just creepy atmosphere-building moments are written and filmed wonderfully (there’s a scene where they’re interviewing the ghost without looking at it, and it’s just so freaky), there isn’t a lot of CGI, which I like in a horror film, and the acting feels real enough to make me believe in all of these characters. Of course, the story probably breaks quite a bit from the actual events of the Enfield haunting, but that’s to be expected in a movie version of events. They do give some film time to claims that the girls faked the hauntings (rather obviously too), but as it’s a horror film, they do explain why the girls tried to fake an obviously real haunting (in the movie, anyway). And there’s a fun reference to the Amityville haunting (how did they make that without paying copyright fees?) that I liked. There’s a lot to like in this film.

My favorite part, personally, is the villain, the Masked Nun. God, she/it is creepy. I can see why a spin-off is in the works based on that one creepy character!

Sadly, of course, there’s a few things that I didn’t care for. There’s a moment where Ed sings to the kids in the style of Elvis Presley that felt somewhat unnecessary and possibly shoehorned in, and there’s a joke not too long afterwards involving how far cameras have come in 1977 that, while funny, could’ve been cut out without any problems. Oh, and what’s with that musical montage near the beginning of the film involving footage from England in the 70s? We know this film takes place in London in the 1970s! We don’t need a montage with annoying English 70s music to hammer that home to us!

All in all though, I liked the film. It’s a good follow-up to The Conjuring, and I enjoyed every minute of it. On a scale of 1 to 5, I give it a 4.5 out of 5. Definitely go see it, and get yourself scared.

And this is probably my last post until next month. See you then!

(The following review contains some spoilers. Reader discretion is advised)

It’s finally here. After months of speculation, of no subtitle or definitive casting list, we have the new season of American Horror Story…and I had to wait a day because I don’t have a TV and I work. That sucks, but you learn to live with it. Anyway, since Hotel ended, there has been rampant speculation as to what Season 6 would be. Rumor was we were supposed to get the theme earlier this summer, but after Orlando, the show’s producers decided to hold back, and instead tease us with multiple trailers that may or may not be related to the actual story of Season 6.

But as of last night, we have a theme, and it is Roanoke! Now for those of you not familiar with American history or who haven’t seen the show’s first season in full, let me explain: Roanoke was an early American colony on the North Carolina coast in the late 16th century. One day, ships from England returned to the colony after a long absence with supplies, only to find the colony mysteriously empty, with not a person in sight. There were no signs of plague or foul play, and the only indicator of what might have happened was a single word carved into a tree trunk: Croatoan. The strange circumstances around the “Lost Colony” has led to a number of theories, both credible and crazy, as well as numerous fictional works about the disappearance.

And it looks like AHS is tackling Roanoke’s legend this year, and they’re doing it in odd fashion too. Rather than telling it like a regular story, as they’ve done in past seasons, AHS is presenting season 6 as a Discovery Channel docuseries called My Roanoke Nightmare, which tells the story of a couple who move into an old house and start to experience strange, supernatural events, both through interviews in what I assume to be a studio, and through dramatic reenactments with actors (it’s very meta). And from the looks of it, it may not be your average haunted house story. Already there are plenty of hints that there’s more to this season than meets the eye, and with showrunner Ryan Murphy promising that this season will begin to tie up the series’ sprawling mythology, you know you’re in for something interesting.

So what did I think of the first episode? Well, it’s definitely intriguing. It’s not the fright fest that the first episode of Hotel was, but I think that’s intentional. This episode is meant to be a lure, showing just enough to get us interested in the story. Which it does very well, giving us a format and a setup that is different from the norm. And near the end, you’re given quite a lot of weird stuff that hints at a very dense story for this season, which will definitely make longtime fans want more.

And speaking of more, I get the sense that, like the story, there’s more to the characters we’re seeing. As the season is modeled after a docuseries, you don’t really see the people in it. You see a version of them meant to keep people interested in the show. You’ve got the interracial couple who we’re supposed to root for, as well as a sister-in-law who has a lot of baggage, and as time goes on, I’m sure we’ll get more characters who start out as versions of people who are meant to keep our interest in the story, but, in typical AHS fashion, their characters will go in directions that nobody will expect, and it’ll be both bonkers and totally amazing.

In any case, this season will conclude in November after ten episodes, just like a real docuseries, so I have a feeling that we’ll get a pretty fast-paced season compared to the past. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing (a few slow moments to develop characters are sometimes necessary for good storytelling), but it’ll definitely be different, and in an anthology series that has surprised and terrified us year after year, that’s definitely what we, the viewers, expect.

All in all, this is a solid start for the show’s sixth season. It’s not super-scary, but it definitely is interesting and I have a feeling plenty of people will be buzzing about the possibilities right up until Episode 2. On a scale of 1 to 5, I’m giving the first episode of American Horror Story: Roanoke a 4 out of 5. Good luck, AHS. I have high hopes for you this year. Don’t let us down.

Well, that’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’m getting The Conjuring 2 from the library this weekend, so I’ll most likely be doing a review of that as well. Yeah, I’m not doing too well on that whole “two blog posts a month” thing, am I? Well, until then, have some pleasant nightmares!

So earlier today, I completed the first draft of Full Circle, the sequel to Video Rage and the final book in the Reborn City series. I’m super excited to have finally reached the point where I’m ready to work on the final book in the trilogy, and I cannot wait for November to start so I can start on Full Circle.

Okay, I can wait, because October is one of my favorite months of the year. Still, very exciting.

Reborn City, the first book in the RC series

Reborn City, the first book in the RC series

So, if you don’t know what the hell I’m talking about, the Reborn City series is a science-fiction trilogy I started writing back in high school. The first book, Reborn City, was published in November 2013, and the second book, Video Rage, was released in June of this year. The series follows a super-powered street gang in the titular city, and their connection with the shadowy organization that rules over it. The series contains themes of prejudice and intolerance, gang violence, drug addiction, and, most importantly, overcoming what others think of you and what you think of yourself.

I’ve been working on this trilogy since 2009, so it’ll be good to get it done. As to when it’ll be done, I’m not sure. I’ve planned thirty-three chapters in total, which is between the number in Reborn City and the number in Video Rage. Of course, the number of chapters is never a good indicator of how long it’ll be in total, or of how long it’ll take to write. It’s especially hard to gauge when this is the first time I’ll be writing a full-length novel while working a full-time job.

Anyone have a way to divide me into two people so one guy can write and the other can go to work? Anyone? Bueller?

Well, at least I’ve established a writing routine that works for me at the moment. Yeah, that thing I was doing with trying to get 250 words written every writing session? It works very well for me. When I start out, I think to myself, “Just get 250 done, and you can be done.” However, around 150 or 200 words, I’m already deep into the story , and I don’t want to stop if I can help it. And if I can make that work for just the outline of FC, I think it’ll work just as well for the actual novel.

And speaking of which, I plan to start writing Full Circle in November for National Novel Writing Month (I don’t expect to get anywhere near fifty-thousand words, but I can try to get some words in and see how far I go). In the meantime, I have a book I plan to read as soon as possible for research purposes, and I have short stories for Teenage Wasteland that I want to work on, so I’ll be doing those for a while. Have to keep myself busy, right?

Video Rage, the second book in the RC series.

Video Rage, the second book in the RC series.

Well, that’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. If I have any updates, I’ll let you know. In the meantime, don’t expect much from me besides the review of the first episode of season six of American Horror Story (what’s the theme?! Somebody tell us!!!) until October 1st, when I have something big planned.

And if you would like to read Reborn City or Video Rage, I’ll include the links below to purchase a copy. And if you like what you read, please let me know. Positive or negative, I love feedback from readers, and I’m always happy to hear what you have to say.

Until next time.

Reborn City:Amazon, Createspace, Barnes & NobleiBooksSmashwords, and Kobo

Video Rage: Amazon, Kindle, CreatespaceBarnes & Noble, iBooks, Smashwords, and Kobo

As many of you know, I’m cutting the number of blog posts I do every month down to two (unless I have something special to talk about, in which case we may get one or two more here), so I can use what little time I have to actually get some fiction writing done. And I thought, what better way to start this than to list all the things I’m doing?

Well, actually there are probably a lot better things I could talk about, but all writers are at least slightly narcissistic. Why else do we insist that people should read the fiction we write?

In any case, let’s start talking about me and the things going on in my life right now. This is Updates on What I’m Doing.

I’m now fully employed.

Let me guess, you thought I’d be talking books first, didn’t you? Nope, I’m doing this, because it’s so important, and the main reason I’m doing this cutback.

So, as many of you know, I started an internship here in Columbus, working in an Equal Employment Opportunity office, like I did last summer in Germany (ah, Deutschland! How I miss you so every day!). In an EEO office, we handle everything from promoting diversity and tolerance to getting employees accommodations for disabilities and handling mediation when someone is discriminated against. Within our office, everyone is expected to be able to work the full variety of these tasks, with perhaps some specialization in certain areas for some employees.

Personally, I love the job. The work is good work, the people are nice and laugh at most of my jokes, and the pay allows me to live on my own, which is a godsend (seriously, I love my family, but at this point in my life it’s better for me to be on my own and independent). And as of last Monday, I’m no longer an intern, but a full employee. Yeah, they decided to keep me! I’m so very grateful, and I’m looking forward to working in such a great office for ages to come, getting experience and getting settled into this weird thing called adulthood.

I’m also grateful for a morning cup of tea that’s s good as Starbucks but five times cheaper. Gotta love that.

The one thing I would complain about is that I don’t have as much time to write as I used to. Not surprising, I was unemployed prior to this, and that meant a slightly freer schedule. But the silver lining is, I actually can write knowing I have an income. So maybe I’ll write more slowly, but at least I won’t be doing the whole starving artist routine (seriously overrated).

Which brings me to my next point:

Reestablishing a writing routine

I used to say that I had no writing process, that I just wrote where I could and when I could. Turns out, that’s not really the case. I actually had a pretty established routine during the job search: after a full day of job-searching, I’d stop around five o’clock, have dinner, and write the evening away, watching TV and getting words in during the commercial break. I actually got through two drafts of Video Rage this way.

Well, I moved. And I don’t have a TV, so I stream mostly. And I have an earlier bedtime, which means less time to write. So there goes that routine out the window.

And since then, I’ve been trying to reestablish a routine, though I haven’t had as much success as I would like. I think I just sat down in front of the computer and hoped that something magical would happen. Obviously, magic didn’t occur, despite my prayers to all gods and demons within the vicinity. However, my friend Pat Bertram gave me an idea that’s been helpful: she recently joined a writer’s group where people try to write 250 words a day. Now, I can’t do it every day, but I try to do it as often as possible, and so far it seems to be working. Is it the writing routine I would like? No, but it’s baby steps, and that’s a good enough start if you ask me. Perhaps later on I’ll get to the point where I can write like I used to, even without a TV.

We’ll just have to wait and see, won’t we?

The Reborn City series

As many of you know, I have a final book planned for this series, which I intend to call Full Circle.  Well, as November is National Novel Writing Month and I wanted to do FC for that month (even though I doubt I’ll even get near ten thousand words), I’m doing some preliminary work on the novel this month. I’ve written a bit of the outline, I’ve come up with a list of names and traits for the group of villains, as well as a travel route for the main characters to take, and I’m working on a family tree for a certain character.

The one thing I’m worried about is the number of plot lines I’ve got going in this final novel. Some of these plot lines were set up in the first book, like some things Rip saw in his soul sage hallucinations, so I need to resolve them in the final novel or attentive readers will get angry and point out stuff about them on the Internet. When I put them in the first and second books, I thought they were great and it would be no problem to wrap them up in the final book. Now that I’m actually there, though…well, I have to wrap them all up. And I’m worried that people will find them letdowns or extraneous.

Oh well. I dug myself into this whole. I can dig myself out again. I must’ve thought those plot lines belonged the whole time I was writing/editing/publishing the first two books, so I’ll work them into the third book and see what happens. Who knows? Some people may not like them, but others might, and it’ll be true to my vision, which is what writing is all about, right?

Rose

So if I’m working on FC right now, does that mean I finished the latest draft of Rose? Well, no I haven’t. The thing is, this draft is proving much more difficult than the first two. I changed an important aspect of the story early in the draft, which ended up changing the entire story at a fundamental level, and I’m kept busy just trying to get the story to match that change. Not to mention that I’m adding a lot of material every time I sit in front of the computer to work on it, and that slows me down a bit too. Add in all the other stuff you do while editing–rephrasing sentences, taking out unneeded material, etc–and I took three months to get to Chapter Six.

Yeah, I’m not happy about that. So I’m taking a break to work on other stuff and maybe get my mind into a better place so that when I return to Rose, I can give it the right sort of treatment. I don’t know when this will be, as FC will be given priority so I can get it out and finish the RC series once and for all, and perhaps after FC I’d like to work on stories other than Rose.

But hey, sometimes that’s how writers work. At times we’re able to work on a story, at other times we aren’t. And sometimes those gaps between periods of work on a manuscript can be very long. Stephen King tried to write Under the Dome twice in the 70’s and 80’s before getting it out in 2009. I’m not saying something similar will happen with Rose, but it might be quite the gap before I get to work on the third draft again.

Other Projects

This post is getting rather long, so I’ll just give a quick update on everything else that I’m working on:

  • Teenage Wasteland: I think after FC, this might also get a higher priority than other books. As a collection of short stories, it should take less time and effort than one big novel, so I’ll be working on this in-between drafts of FC most likely, or whenever I need a break and want to clear my mind. I’ve got about seven or eight stories already prepped for that book, and I’d like somewhere between thirteen and twenty-two in that collection, so I think I can get it done sooner rather than later. If so, I’ll make sure to let you guys know.
  • Laura Horn: Like Rose, LH had a major aspect of it changed in a previous draft. Unlike Rose, it didn’t give me this much grief. So I think I could get Laura Horn done very quickly as well, perhaps as soon as FC and TW are done.
  • A replacement for #FirstLineFriday: got something in the works, and it could be ready by October. That’s all I’m saying right now.
  • 5K Likes: We are so close, I can almost smell it! Make it happen, folks! Make it happen!

 

And that’s basically it at the moment. And I think after I finish with the Reborn City series and all this other stuff, I’ll try to limit the number of projects I have going on to two at a time. Because this is ridiculous.

Expect a blog post from me later this month, my Followers of Fear. I’ve got something planned I’ve been looking forward to talking about for a while. Until next time!

It’s Friday, so you know what that means. It’s #FirstLineFriday.

Sadly, it’s the last #FirstLineFriday I do for a while. As many of you know, I’m reducing the number of posts I do starting next month to two per month in order to make time for more writing. Of course, this means that I won’t be doing #FirstLineFriday for quite some time, as it takes up a lot of time (sorry, readers who joined exclusively for #FirstLineFriday or because I post so frequently. I hope you don’t decide to leave because of this). To those who tuned in every week for #FirstLineFriday, who took up the tag on their own blogs, and who just had a blast participating, thanks for being part of this. It was really special, doing this for sixty-five straight weeks, through Germany and the job hunt and the first several weeks of my new job. And I hope you had fun with it too.

Now, if you don’t know what #FirstLineFriday is, let me explain it to you. On Fridays, you:

  1. Create a post on your blog titled #FirstLineFriday, hashtag and all.
  2. Explain the rules like I’m doing now.
  3. Post the first one or two lines of a potential story, a story-in-progress, or a completed/published story.
  4. Ask your readers for feedback and try to get them to try #FirstLineFriday on their own blogs (tagging is encouraged but not necessary).

This week’s opening from any story. It’s from my life. Enjoy:

Today is an end. But it’s also a new beginning.

Thoughts? Errors? Share in the comments below.

And if you’d like to try #FirstLineFriday on your own blogs, go right ahead. It’s easy, fun, and it’s great practice for openings. And to prove that, I’m tagging all of you! Have fun with it, because now you have to do it! Ha ha!

That’s all for now. Expect a post around September 1st, if nothing big comes up between now and then. I’ve got updates to share, so share I will.

And don’t worry. If you liked seeing #FirstLineFriday on this blog, I may do it again someday, for a newly published story or if I ever find myself living entirely off my writing (not a big chance on that second one, but I keep hoping!). And in the meantime, I’m cooking up something I can do instead of #FirstLineFriday that will be a bit more manageable. Look forward to it. I think it’ll be fun.

Have a great weekend, my Followers of Fear.

RC cover

So I got a pleasant surprise today, in the form of another review of Reborn City on Amazon. This is the second one in two days, which practically never happens to me. Naturally, I was surprised, but also rather pleased. Come November, Reborn City will have been out for three years, and it’s nice to see that it’s getting more recognition these days. With any luck, by the time I get the third book, Full Circle, out into the world, a lot more people will have come to like the books and the characters within.

So if you’re so new that you didn’t see the post from Thursday, Reborn City is the first book in a trilogy I started in high school. The series follows a street gang called the Hydras in the western projects of the titular city, the leaders of which have strange abilities and powers, which the leaders of the city have a dark interest in. Major themes of the novel include Islamaphobia, racism and prejudice, drug addiction, gang violence, and most of all, overcoming what other people and what you think of yourself. The second book, Video Rage, came out back in June.

I think I’m going to copy and paste the majority of the previous paragraph whenever I do a Reborn City post. It saves time.

Anyway, the latest review was left by someone named Amazon Customer (how mysterious!), who gave a four-star review of the book. Here’s what he/she/they/it had to say:

It’s a neat exercise in trying to see through the eyes of someone different from oneself. It incorporated a lot of fly comic-book-esque tropes. A good beginning effort of an up an coming new author who has some cool ideas to explore.

That’s the first time I or anything connected to me have been called fly since high school! I’m so happy!

Anyway, I listed reviews that go to show how great RC on Thursday, so I think I’ll skip that. However, if you want to see those other reviews, and maybe check out the book yourself, and maybe Video Rage as well, I’ll post those links down below.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. Unless something comes up that needs blogging, it’s radio silence for the next couple of days. Until next time!

Reborn City:Amazon, Createspace, Barnes & NobleiBooksSmashwords, and Kobo

Video Rage: Amazon, Kindle, CreatespaceBarnes & Noble, iBooks, Smashwords, and Kobo

It’s Friday again, so you know what that means. It’s #FirstLineFriday! And since I’m reducing the number of posts I put out each month starting in September (see reasons why here), this’ll be the second to last #FirstLineFriday I do for a while.

Let that one sink in for a moment.

Alright, so if you don’t know what #FirstLineFriday is, let me break it down for you. On Fridays, you:

  1. Create a post on your blog entitled #FirstLineFriday, hashtag and all.
  2. Explain the rules like I’m doing now.
  3. Post the first one or two lines of a potential work, a work in progress, or a completed or published work.
  4. Ask your readers for feedback, and see if you can get them to try #FirstLineFriday on their own blogs (tagging is encouraged but not necessary).

I had a lot of trouble figuring out which story to do this week. I ended up picking a story idea I’ve done before, but that I wanted to do a variation on and see if I could get a better response. Anyway, enjoy:

My earliest memory of them is from when I was still in the crib. I know, I’m not supposed to remember anything from that age, but I remember this, and I have no reason to believe that the memory is false or something I created on my own.

Thoughts? Critiques? Let’s discuss in the comments below?

And while you’re at it, why not try #FirstLineFriday on your own blog? It’s fun, easy, and for writers it’s great practice on openings.

That’s all for now. I’ve got work and then a busy weekend, so I’m going to get right on it. Until next time, my Followers of Fear!