October 1, 2014

I Dare You To Walk Down The Halls of Eerie Elementary

I thought I would kickoff The Halloween Blog Bash with a review of the second installment of the new Eerie Elementary series, which is part of the Branches book line from Scholastic Inc. Eerie Elementary #2: The Locker Ate Lucy! (ISBN: 978-0545623957; 96 pagers) is written by Jack Chabert with illustrations by Sam Ricks.

Eerie Elementary centers on the third grade hall monitor Sam Graves, who had just learned from the school's janitor, Mr. Nekobi, that the school is actually alive and it needs to feed off of students. Along with his pals, Lucy and Antonio, Sam tries to protect his fellow students against the supernatural school.

In the second installment, The Locker Ate Lucy!, Sam, Lucy And Antonio begin the researching the history of Eerie Elementary in the attempt to discover what or whom is behind the supernatural occurrences. After stepping into the creepy Eerie Cemetery, the trio learn that Orson Eerie never died, even though he was born 1871. Is Orson Eerie behind the haunting at the school?

The trio rush back to Eerie Elementary, so they won't be late for their classes. Shortly after arriving, the unthinkable happens - Lucy disappears into thin air near her locker. After a quick investigation, Sam and Antonio find some sort of slime in her locker which leads to a dark tunnel. They must follow the trail of slime into the deepest and scariest parts of Eerie Elementary in the attempt to rescue Lucy.

Writing Tips Wednesday: Tips for Writing Horror from 5 Horror Masters

It’s October, which means it is the scariest month of the year! Today, I am going to talk about how to make writing sound scary- in case any of you are interested in picking up some horror writing tips.

Now, I am not talking about writing that is scary because the grammar and spelling is so bad. Nope, today, we are going to dissect some of the writing from the horror masters and see what it is about their writing that makes them successful.

Now, everyone probably has their own personal interpretation of what makes writing scary, but I have identified five categories below that many horror writers employ. These categories are suspense, unexpected things, weird things, and gross things.

Many of my favorite horror authors, including Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, Edgar Allen Poe, and HP Lovecraft employ these elements in their stories.


If you state something abruptly, there isn’t time to develop fear for it. Suspense is a necessity in any horror story. The Tell-Tale Heart is quite short, but it spends at least half of the story building up suspense. Take a look at this passage- this is just after the narrator has come into the room to murder the man:

“Presently I heard a slight groan, and I knew it was the groan of mortal terror. It was not a groan of pain or of grief --oh, no! --it was the low stifled sound that arises from the bottom of the soul when overcharged with awe. I knew the sound well. Many a night, just at midnight, when all the world slept, it has welled up from my own bosom, deepening, with its dreadful echo, the terrors that distracted me. I say I knew it well. I knew what the old man felt, and pitied him, although I chuckled at heart. I knew that he had been lying awake ever since the first slight noise, when he had turned in the bed. His fears had been ever since growing upon him. He had been trying to fancy them causeless, but could not. He had been saying to himself --"It is nothing but the wind in the chimney --it is only a mouse crossing the floor," or "It is merely a cricket which has made a single chirp." Yes, he had been trying to comfort himself with these suppositions: but he had found all in vain. All in vain; because Death, in approaching him had stalked with his black shadow before him, and enveloped the victim. And it was the mournful influence of the unperceived shadow that caused him to feel --although he neither saw nor heard --to feel the presence of my head within the room.”

The Unknown

What is the scariest thing? Fear. And if you know what something is, you fear it less. So, the longer a story goes without telling you want the scary thing is, the scarier the final reveal will actually be. The Turn of the Screw is a prime example of building up the fear of the unknown:

“But it was a comfort that there could be no uneasiness in a connection with anything so beatific as the radiant image of my little girl, the vision of whose angelic beauty had probably more than anything else to do with me restlessness that, before morning, made me several times rise and wander about my room to take in the whole picture and prospect; to watch, from my open window, the faint summer dawn, to look at such portions of the rest of the house as I could catch, and to listen, while, in the fading dusk, the first birds began to twitter, for the possible recurrence of a sound or two, less natural and not without, but within, that I had fancied I heard. There had been a moment when I believed I recognized, faint and far, the cry of a child; there had been another when I found myself just consciously starting as at the passage, before my door, of a light footstep. But these fancies were not marked enough not to be thrown off, and it is only in the light, or the gloom, I should rather say, of other and subsequent matters that they now come back to me.”

Unexpected Events

When something unexpected happens, it is scarier. This is a common technique employed by horror writers. One of my favorite examples is from The Lord of the Flies:

“Maybe there is a beast… maybe it's only us.” 

The idea that every person is capable of indescribable horrors is one of the most terrifying ideas of all.

Weird or Shocking Things

Most characters in horror novels are insane. Their insanity makes them unpredicible, which is why they are terrifying. Most of these insane characters have sadistic views and twisted likes. For example, take the character of Patrick Bateman from American Psycho:

"My pain is constant and sharp and I do not hope for a better world for anyone. In fact, I want my pain to be inflicted on others. I want no one to escape."

Gross Things

Gross things are always scarier than non-gross things. That is why, for example, a mummy is scarier than a leprechaun. Take for example, this passage from The Road:

“He started down the rough wooden steps. He ducked his head and then flicked the lighter and swung the flame out over the darkness like an offering. Coldness and damp. An ungodly stench. He could see part of a stone wall. Clay floor. An old mattress darkly stained. He crouched and stepped down again and held out the light. Huddled against the back wall were naked people, male and female, all trying to hide, shielding their faces with their hands. On the mattress lay a man with his legs gone to the hip and the stumps of them blackened and burnt. The smell was hideous.
Jesus, he whispered.
Then one by one they turned and blinked in the pitiful light. Help us, they whispered. Please help us.”
This scene has many gross words that incite all the senses: stench, coldness, damp, nakedness, stumps of flesh, burned skin, stained mattresses, and flickering light bulbs. You can’t help but be frightened by all the ugliness and gross. 

And to wrap things up, the horror master himself has this to say about what makes a story scary:

“The 3 types of terror: The Gross-out: the sight of a severed head tumbling down a flight of stairs, it's when the lights go out and something green and slimy splatters against your arm. The Horror: the unnatural, spiders the size of bears, the dead waking up and walking around, it's when the lights go out and something with claws grabs you by the arm. And the last and worse one: Terror, when you come home and notice everything you own had been taken away and replaced by an exact substitute. It's when the lights go out and you feel something behind you, you hear it, you feel its breath against your ear, but when you turn around, there's nothing there...”
--Stephen King

What are your favorite scary passages from literature? 
Brenda is a fellow book-lover and coffee-addict. She is a freelance writer, punctuation nerd, and grammar enthusiast. Her favorite book genres are Science Fiction, Fantasy with a Twist, and Dystopian. Brenda blogs about books, writing and more at Daily Mayo. Find her here on CaW for Writing Tips Wednesdays the first Wednesday of every month.

Follow Brenda on Facebook and Twitter or subscribe to updates from Daily Mayo to keep up with all the exciting things in her life; ranging from drinking coffee to get through the day to drinking coffee just for fun.
September 30, 2014

Canvas Champ Review & Giveaway

Christmas is barely over three months away and today is the perfect time to start making your gift shopping list. Buying toys and gizmos for the kids is an easy task, but figuring out what to buy an adult can be a little challenging.

Yes, you could just go ahead and buy some sort of gift card, but whoever you are giving the gift to may think you didn't put an effort into the gift. The perfect gift should be something that is more personal, something that you put a little thought into.

Recently, I was contacted by Canvas Champ, a picture to canvas company that was interested in me reviewing a 12" x 8" complimentary copy in exchange for my honest thoughts. I had reviewed a similar canvas company last year, so I thought "Why Not!"

Canvas Champ prices are reasonably priced compared to other companies. A 12"x8" canvas currently costs only $16.77. The canvas sizes ranges from 8"x8" to 30"x20," though you can customize your own canvas size up to 52". The company also sells peel and stick wallpaper, photo boards, metal prints, acrylic prints and canvas banners.

Now you're probably wondering what photo I wanted transfered to canvas. Well, the photo I picked is an old family picture that has my great-grandmother standing in the center with her siblings around her. My great-great-grandparents are the elderly couple sitting in the chairs. It isn't exactly the best photo in the world, but I thought if it turned out good, then I would give it my my grandmother for Christmas.

Review - Where Treetops Glistens

Where Treetops Glisten
by Tricia Goyer, Cara Putman and Sarah Sundin
Publisher: WaterBrook Press
Pub. Date: September 16, 2014
ISBN: 978-1601426482
Pages: 368
Buy Link: http://ow.ly/BwVP9
Blog Tour: http://litfusegroup.com/author/glisten


October won't arrive until tomorrow, but publishers are already releasing holiday titles. Now don't get me wrong, I do like reading a good Christmas story, but this time a year I'm more in the mood to read a R.L. Stine or Stephen King title. Being a blogger, I don't have any control over what books are available to review. After I already reviewed one holiday title this year, I was going to take a break until November, but once I saw Tricia Goyer, Cara Putman and Sarah Sundin were the authors of the new anthology, Where Treetops Glisten, I had to review it.

The anthology centers on the Turner family, whom are living in Lafayette, Indiana during the WWII. Cara Putman pens the first story, titled White Christmas, where college student Abigail Turner is still mourning the death of boyfriend. She has no plans on ever finding love again that is until she meets Jackson, a man that needs her help.

I'll Be Home For Christmas is written by Sarah Sundin and centers on Abigail's brother Pete, a fighter pilot returning home to try to put the war behind him. His faith seems to be a lost that is until he meets a young girl and his mother, a woman he once bullied when they were young.

DVD Review - The Paranormal Diaries: Clophill

The Paranormal Diaries: Clophill
Director: Kevin Gates, Michael Bartlett
Starring: Mark Andrews, Michael Bartlett
Studio: Image Entertainment
Release Date: September 30, 2014
Retail: $27.97
Running Time: 88 minutes
Rating: Not Rated
Buy Link: Amazon


Fifteen-years ago, The Blair Witch Project jumped started the "found footage genre," and many other filmmakers had followed in its footsteps, including today's DVD release of The Paranormal Diaries: Clophill. The film is co-directed by Kevin Gates and Michael Bartlett and stars Craig Stovin, Criselda Cabitac, Kevin Gates, Michael Bartlett, Mark Jeavons and Rob Whitaker. Special features include: audio commentary with co-directors and cast and "Tales from the Graveyard" deleted scenes.

When you see the words "based on true events" on a horror DVD case, most likely the film is fictionalized or it is very loosely connected to the real events. In the case with this movie, it is a faux "ghost hunting" documentary, but if you don't know that before hand, you might be fooled into believing that the movie is actually real.

The film follows six paranormal investigators who travel to Clophill to investigate the strange occurrences that have occurred at the ruined St. Mary's Church. Over the years the area has attracted grave robbers, body snatchers, Satanists and cultists. The team is determined to unravel the mysteries of the "holy ground," but what they discover may just cost them their lives.
September 29, 2014

Review - The Sea House

The Sea House
A Novel
by Elisabeth Gifford
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Pub. Date: April 15, 2014
ISBN: 978-1250043344
Pages: 320
Blog Tour: http://litfusegroup.com/author/egifford
Buy Link: http://amzn.to/ZSbs53

Released earlier this year is the mystery-romance The Sea House by Elisabeth Gifford. Typically, the only romance books I read are the historical kind, but I was looking for something different to read and that is exactly what I got with this novel.

The Sea House centers a couple, Michael and Ruth, who moves into an old seaside house on the Scottish Island of Harris. At first glance the house is a dream come true, but this house has many secrets buried within it, including the remains of a baby, whose legs were fused together, as if it were a mermaid baby. As I guess you can say that the couple's plans on turning the house into a bread & breakfast are definitely put on a hold.

Being pregnant, Ruth becomes interested in the identity of the baby and the history of the house, which leads her to learn about an amateur evolutionary scientist, Reverend Alexander Ferguson, who once lived in he house during the 1800s. Alexander was investigating the legend of the selkies, a mermaid/seal people that have been sighted in the area for the centuries.

September 28, 2014

Review and Giveaway - Gunman's Tally

Gunman's Tally
by L. Ron Hubbard
Studio: Galaxy Press
Release Date: March 21, 2013
ISBN: 978-1592122752
Pages: 120
ASIN: 978-1592123780
Running Time: 125 minutes
Buy Links: Audiobook, Paperback


Besides from listening to a a few children audiobooks on cassettes when I was a kid, I have never been a fan of audiobooks until I started reviewing titles from Stories from the Golden Age, which are short stories that were written in the '30s and '40s by L. Ron Hubbard. With a banquet of 153 stories, Galaxy Press has been releasing these titles onto audiobooks and paperbacks for a new generation of readers.

Recently, I received both the audiobook and paperback of Gunman's Tally, a western short story that was originally published in the November 1937 issue of All Western Magazine. This title also includes an additional title, Ruin At Rio Piedras. The audiobook is directed by Jim Meskiman and features the voice-actors of Shane Johnson, R.F. Daley, Christina Huntington, Jim Meskimen, Phil Proctor, Enn Reitel, Josh R. Thompson and Michael Yurchak.

Gunman's Tally centers on Easy Bill Gates, the landowner of the Las Pinas ranch who has a gentle heart. He had never succumbed to violence until his brother was murdered by the outlaw Fanner Marsten. He tracked down Fanner and struck him down. Little did he know that Fanner was one of the fastest gun in the west, so now Bill has a reputation as a gunslinger.

George Barton is the villain of this story and he wants to claim Las Pinas as his own. He is afraid of Easy Bill Gates, so he hires the fastest and meanest gunslinger to either run Bill off of his land or kill him in the process, but Bill won't give up his land without a fight.

Blu-ray Review - Krull

Director: Peter Yates
Starring: Ken Marshall, Lysette Anthony, Freddie Jones, Francesca Annis and Liam Neeson
Release Date: September 30, 2014
Retail: $9.98
Running Time: 121 minutes
Rating: PG
Buy Link: Amazon


Arriving on Blu-ray for the very first time on Tuesday September 30, 2014 is the 1983 cult classic Krull. The film was directed by Peter Yates (Bullitt) and stars Ken Marshall (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine), Lysette Anthony (Dark Shadows), Freddie Jones (Dune), Francesca Annis (The Libertine) and Liam Nesson (Taken, Taken 2). There are no extras or special features on the Blu-ray.

There were many science-fiction adventures released during the 1980s, including Krull, which in 1983 was one of the biggest budget ($45-50 million) films ever produced. The film was critically panned and was considered a box-office flop, taking in just over $16 million. Over the years, mostly thanks to reruns on TBS and TNT in the '90s, the film now has a cult following.

The film is set on the planet Krull where The Beast and his army of Slayers arrive to wreck havoc by kidnapping Princess Lyssa (played by Lysette Anthony). Her husband-to-be, Prince Colwyn (played by Ken Marshall), is the only survivor of the wedding massacre and seeks out to save the princess and is nursed back to health by Ynyr the Old One.


10" x 8" Canvas Print
Ends Oct. 16th

Gunman's Tally
Ends Oct. 21st

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