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Monday, October 31

13 Days of Halloween: CDF: Sons of Destiny Review



Cirque Du Freak: Sons of Destiny
BY: Darren Shan
PUBLISHED BY: Little, Brown and Company
PUBLISHED IN: 2006
ISBN: 0-316-15629-9
Pages: 240
Ages: Teen & Up
Reviewed by Billy Burgess


In this 12th and final installment of the Cirque Du Freak series, the time has finally come for Darren to fight his ex-best friend, Steve Leopard. Darren reunites his nephew with his sister, Annie. He learns that Mr. Tall was Mr. Tiny’s son. In addition, even shocking news is that Darren and Steve are half-brothers. Their really father is actually Mr. Tiny. In addition, Mr. Tiny is the father of Evans.

One last fight occurs and Steve stabs Darren and kills him.  Darren finds himself in the lake of souls.  He has been turned into a little person just like Harkat.  Darren is given a chance to go back in time to the night he first saw the Cirque Du Freak perform. Will he change his destiny?

It is hard to describe the final book. There are many twists and turns thrown in that at times make it confusing.  I thought it was a little silly to have Mr. Tiny have several children. Despite its flaws, the ending is bittersweet.

Sunday, October 30

13 Days of Halloween: CDF: Lord of the Shadows Review



Cirque Du Freak: Lord of the Shadows
BY: Darren Shan
PUBLISHED BY: Little, Brown and Company
PUBLISHED IN: 2005
ISBN: 0-316-15628-0
Pages: 220
Ages: Teen & Up
Reviewed by Billy Burgess

Darren Shan returns to his home time.  He learns that his parents have moved away.  His sister is now grown and has a child of her own.  He runs into and old friend, Tommy, who is later murdered.  He soon learns that the Lord Vampanese, Steve, in is in town after more murders occur.  Steve now has a child named Darious.

Debbie and Alice Burgess is town too.  They are helping the vampires build their army.  Darren, Harkat, and the women go to the Cirque Du Freak.  Vancha March later joins them.  Mr. Tall, the owner of the Cirque Du Freak, told them no matter who won the war, an evil dictator known as the Lord of the Shadows would rise, rule and destroy the world.

Two of Steve’s men, R.V. and Morgan James, attack the Cirque and kills several of Darren’s friends.

This is one of the better sequels.  I am glad to see that the author brought back Darren’s sister.  I must warn you that a few characters die in this installment, leading up to the shocking cliffhanger.


Saturday, October 29

13 Days of Halloween: CDF: The Lake of Souls Review


Cirque Du Freak: The Lake of Souls
BY: Darren Shan
PUBLISHED BY: Little, Brown and Company
PUBLISHED IN: 2005
ISBN: 0-316-15627-2
Pages: 265
Ages: Teen & Up
Reviewed by Billy Burgess

This is the tenth and longest book in the series.  After the murder of, Mr. Crepsley, Darren and Harket return to the Cirque Du Freak.  Darren sends Debbie and Alice Burgess to Vampire Mountain where they can be safe from Steve and his army of Vampanese.

Mr. Tiny tells Darren it is time for him to help Harket find out who he is. They journey to a barren waste world to discover Harket’s previous identity.

 This book could be written in less than fifty pages but instead is dragged out to two hundred and 265.  I found it hard to get through. There are a few twists and turns to keep you interested, but I do not recommend this book.  It is the worse in the series.

Friday, October 28

Friday Hops

Book Blogger Hop

http://crazy-for-books.com/2011/10/book-blogger-hop-1028-1031.html

Question of the week: What is your favorite Halloween costume? Even if you don’t celebrate, what kinds of costumes do you like?

My answer: I haven't dressed up from Halloween since I was in fifth grade, but I would have to say my favorite costume was just a hockey mask.







Question of the week: 
If you could have dinner with your favorite book character, who would you eat with and what would you serve?

My Answer. I would like to have dinner with the vampire Pam from the Sookie Stackhouse novels. I would eat grilled chicken while Pam is sipping on a bottle of TrueBlood. 

13 Days of Halloween: CDF: Killers of the Dawn Review






Cirque Du Freak: Killers of the Dawn
BY: Darren Shan
PUBLISHED BY: Little, Brown and Company
PUBLISHED IN: 2003
ISBN: 0-316-15626-4
Pages: 208
Ages: Teen & Up
Reviewed by Billy Burgess

Picking up where the previous book left off, Darren, Mr. Crepsley, Vancha and Harket on the hunt of the vampaneze through the cities tunnels. The police and an angry mob are also hunting them.

The police chief inspector, Alice Burgess briefly integrates Darren. Then she is kidnapped by the vampanese.  Darren and friends must battle the vampanese and their lord, Steve.

The first half of this book is boring. The action picks up in the second half leading to another cliffhanger. I did not care for the ending.




Thursday, October 27

13 Days of Halloween - King of the Merge Giveaway

I would like to thank author John Hansen for the following guest post. For more information on his work visit  his blog at http://incessantdroningofaboredwriter.wordpress.com/.

Blurb:
William Brookshire is just a simple college student, out collecting a couple of items for a late night rendezvous with the girl who used to be the love of his life, when a spontaneous street race turns his life upside down.
He knows it isn’t his fault when the driver of the Porsche runs a red light, knows it isn’t his fault when the driver dies of the injuries he sustained during the horrible accident, but William just can’t make himself believe he is completely free of fault. And when a vision of the driver starts appearing in his room, starts stalking him around campus, it threatens to drive him mad.
Why Bother?
Bradley Convissar is an AMAZING horror author. He has this way of telling a story so dramatically and effectively it really compels you to read on. Being a big fan of his books, I am so excited to host this book for a giveaway. It was released only yesterday! If you would like to see how much I love this author, read my review of Dogs of War, which is currently my favorite indie book of horror. http://incessantdroningofaboredwriter.wordpress.com/2011/09/03/book-review-dogs-of-war/ Why else should you enter? Well, the book is being offered for free for goodness sake’s! Doesn’t that intrigue you, at all?
Bradley Convissar has promised to giveaway three copies of this horror novella in honor of Halloween. That means three lucky winners! Be sure to enter before the giveaway’s closing on the 31st!
How to Enter:
I wanted to make this simple and easy, so here are the requirements. To enter all you must do is leave a comment on this blog post or my blog post (http://incessantdroningofaboredwriter.wordpress.com/2011/10/23/spooktacular-giveaway-hop-king-of-the-merge-by-bradley-convissar/) with your email address, stating that you have followed the requirements, and I’ll get back to you ASAP. The requirements are as follows:
a) You must follow my blog – http://incessantdroningofaboredwriter.wordpress.com – if you haven’t already
b) Follow my twitter – @ABoredAuthor – if you haven’t already and if you have a twitter account
c) If you are one of the three lucky winners, Bradley would really appreciate a review of his book.
Simple enough, right?



Bradley also wanted me to share this with you, a screenshot of King of the Merge at its height in sales. It reached the number 21 bestseller in horror ebooks on Amazon! So to see what all of the buzz is about, be sure to enter in this giveaway! And now for my brief review:




As one may say, “Bradley Convissar strikes again”. This was an interesting, different novella, one that I have never read anything like. It was creepy and compelling at the same time and I read it in only the two sittings. The one thing that I disliked about this book, however, was all of the unnecessary obscenity throughout it. I hate that in books and I found myself coming across a number of “TMI” moments and saying to myself, “really Bradley? Do you really have to say that?” In my humble opinion, this book would be much better if given a thorough cleansing and I am sure many of you would agree. That being said, this was still a great book. I enjoyed the protagonist and his internal conflict with the specter… that was way cool. I was also intrigued by his awkward relationship with his “friend” and the revelation at the end really got me. This was a uneasy, chilling horror novella that I believe you all would enjoy. It is not gory or frightening or action-packed. It is… different… but in such a good way! Although this is not Bradley’s best book, it was an enjoyable, creepy read that is perfect for a Halloween giveaway like this one!


Wednesday, October 26

13 Days of Halloween - Halloween Night Review

It’s late at night and I’m attempting to get this new Halloween post written as I have almost completely forgotten about it. Today’s post will be a short review on the 1993 Point Horror Classic by R.L. Stine, one of the most best-selling writers of children books. I first read the book back in middle school, but somehow, somewhere, I have misplaced the book. Over the years, thanks to thrift stores, I have obtained not only one copy, but two. The cover features a creepy jack-o-lantern, which is completely different than the cover I found online to use with this post, with a butcher knife sticking out of it, reminding me of the beginning credits of the horror movie, Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Meyers. 

With Halloween several days away, teenager Brenda Morgan is planning a Halloween party with her friends, Traci and Dina, but they are also planning on something much deadlier - murdering Brenda’s cousin, Halley! Her cousin moved in with Brenda's family because her parents are going through a nasty divorce, but she keeps interfering in Brenda’s life, stealing away Brenda's boyfriend, Ted, and she keeps borrowing the car without asking first. Of course, the girls aren’t really planning a murdering Halley. Their just using her name for a character in a murder mystery short story for class, at least that is what they originally planned.

Strange things begin to happen to Brenda as Halloween nears, blood is smeared on her bedroom wall, a headless bird is left in a pumpkin, and chunks of rotten meat are left in her bed. Is Halley responsible for all this?

Halloween Night is a sweet, quick read. The plot is well written and the bitterness Brenda has for Halley is believable, reminding me of how I felt about a few relatives at the age. There are several twist and turns throughout the book, including a stabbing at the party. It’s a great read to get you into the Halloween mood.

Tuesday, October 25

13 Days of Halloween: Excerpt from Day of Revenge


Excerpt from Day of Revenge 
by Deanna Proach


In the center of the city square, between the tall buildings and the Seine River stands the guillotine. Its wooden scaffold is tall—more than three feet higher than Henri’s head. A set of stairs lead up to the scaffold. Perpendicular to the base of the tall frame lays a six foot long plank where the condemned are forced to lay. Two sets of leather belts, attached to either side of the low plank, are used to tie them down to prevent them from escaping. A large basket stands on the opposite side of the platform to catch the heads when they fall. The basket and the scaffold surrounding the frame is painted red with the victims’ blood, and the large bloodstain on the triangular blade is a gruesome symbol of revolutionary justice.
The guillotine’s frame and heavy blade is visible to all. Any person looking out of his or her fourth-story apartment within the surrounding area can easily see the blade rise and fall each day.
Henri seethes when he sees a group of women set up wooden chairs around the guillotine’s scaffold. Well, Citoyen Robespierre is preparing for another mass murder and those old bitches can’t wait to see that cursed instrument be put to use.

I wonder what it would be like to be inside a revolutionary tribunal in France at that time...

The large chamber is filled with people to the point where no empty seat is to be found. Most of the people are Jacobin members; but a small number of peasants, tradesmen, merchants, and even priests, who had renounced their Catholic faith, are present. The wives of Jacobin members are the only women permitted to sit in the hearing of the trials. All of these women express their denunciations of the accused by spitting on them and shouting “Off with their heads.” One woman even carries a miniature guillotine and shows it to her group of friends. She rises and drops the tiny blade while laughing and mocking the imminent fate of the accused. “May the traitors burn in hell forever,” she shouts over and over again. Wooden guillotine earrings dangle from a number of the women’s ears.

All of the Jacobin members are clad in the revolutionary uniform—the men in blue and red carmagnole coats, plain white cotton or flannel shirts, and red and white striped slacks. All are wearing the familiar red night cap. The non-Jacobin members are clad in plain off-white flannel shirts, brown or beige trousers and frayed cotton stockings. These people, including the women, all wear a fist-sized blue, white and red cockade attached to their shirt or dress bodice. A large tri-colored ribbon extends across the entire tribunal, hung from the marble pillars on either side of the room which separates the audience from the judges and the condemned. The same ribbons also adorn the pulpit of the chief revolutionary judge Antoine-Quentin Fouquier-Tinville. Beside him on the left hand side sits Robespierre, while Robespierre’s most powerful colleagues, Citoyens Camille Desmoulins, Pierre-Gaspard Chaumette, Georges Danton, Georges Couthon and Louis de Saint-Just are seated beside the pulpit.

The large room is quite dark as it has narrow, medium sized windows situated close to the ceiling. The thick dust on the windows acts as a barrier to the daylight and since they are always closed, no fresh air enters the room to clear it of its musty smell. It is no wonder why many victims stutter or faint when they are seated before the cold and malicious Fouquier-Tinville. The loud jeers of the spectators also make the atmosphere of the tribunal room very hostile and terrifying even to the most confident and head-strong victims.

Visit Deanna Proach's at http://desstories.blogspot.com/ and http://www.deannaproach.com/.



Monday, October 24

13 Days of Halloween: Nothing to Fear but Fear Itself





Nothing to Fear but Fear Itself
by D.A Lascelles


October is the month of scary fun with Halloween marking the start of the slow decline into the dark and cold of winter. With this in mind, it is worthwhile considering what it is that fear actually is. What do we fear? Why do we fear it? How can this knowledge help a writer produce a better horror story?

Speaking purely as a physiologist, I will start by stating the obvious. Fear is a physiological reaction caused by perfectly understandable responses in our bodies to external stimuli. Certain stimuli present in the environment will trigger the secretion of particular hormones which stimulate or suppress the actions of various organs and systems. Its purpose is to allow us to recognise danger so that we may take an appropriate action – either fight or flight. This response has been more or less unchanged for millions of years. The physical bit of it, anyway. What has changed has been the psychological bit – what we are actually afraid of.

Now, the classics never change. Darkness, spiders, snakes... the common phobias will probably always get some people, darkness especially. Darkness is really a fear of the unknown, of not knowing what might be lurking out there ready to kill us and eat us. It’s an old mammalian fear from the days when we hid in holes lest the big scary monsters came to get us and human imagination takes that fear and paints on it any number of strange and wonderful images – a pile of clothes becomes the head of a monster, a coat hanging on the back of a door becomes a man waiting to attack you, the sound of the wind rustling in the trees outside takes on a sinister note. These are tropes that writers and film-makers have made much use of over the years and they work well because they speak to a deep, instinctive part of the human psyche which still thinks it should hide in holes. As a writer the fear of the unknown can be an effective tool. The best forms of horror are not the ones which go in for explicit description or gory imagery but those which are light on the description and allow the reader’s own imagination to fill in the gaps. This minimalist description is not as easy as it looks, it is not just a case of not describing something but rather of tracing in some hints of what is there and giving just enough detail to stimulate the imagination. Once you have that, the reader will do all the rest of the work themselves.

Other things that lurk in our fears do change, however. They change as we age, for example, and there are also changes in what society considers frightening. With age, there is a move away from childish fears – the ghoulies and ghosties And long-leggedy beasties And things that go bump in the night as the Scottish (or Cornish) prayer goes – to more mature things. Adult fears are more subtle and elaborate and often don’t wear such a blatant face as a warty old witch. Adults also fear more ephemeral things – war, particular nuclear war, financial troubles and the like. Things that carefree children have no fear of. As Terry Pratchett’s Death comments in Hogfather, you have to start out believing the little lies (the Tooth Fairy, Father Christmas) as practise for the big lies (truth, justice and mercy). Therefore, you can also argue that to prepare you for the big fears you have to practise on the little ones.

As for changes with history there is one example I would give for this which, I think, demonstrates how society as a whole can influence how we interpret ‘the darkness’ – what picture we paint on it to attempt to make sense of it. That example is the Succubus.

The Succubus is, as I am sure you are aware, a demon. In particular it is a demon which takes on the form of a highly eroticised female form, seduces men into having sex with them and, mid coitus, sucks out their soul. There are examples of this in literature the world over though my favourite has to be the character of Juliet in Mike Carey’s Felix Castor series of novels (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Devil-You-Know-Felix-Castor/dp/1841494135) mainly because she is such a modern and interesting character for a several millennia old demon. I am also fond of Erica Hayes’s portrayal of Succubi in her novel Shadowfae (http://www.shadowfae.net/). You can even, at a stretch, consider the typical sexy female Vampire to be an example of this – though they drink blood rather than souls there is little difference to the recipient. Of course, if being fair, I cannot neglect to mention something for the ladies in the form of Incubi – the male equivalent of the Succubus which manifests as a sexy looking man. Again, quite a few urban fantasy novels of late have used Incubi, including Shadowfae again.

What is interesting about Succubi and Incubi is one of the theories of their possible origin. Imagine this: a monastery, late at night. It’s dark and you are in a tiny cell. Because of the rule of chastity, you are not allowed any sexual release and you have been told that any sexual release is evil and will have you taken to hell. Being a young man, you of course have a healthy sexual appetite which has not been satisfied for a long time. Naturally, you are going to have erotic dreams and these dreams are going to be coloured by your religious teachings which could, feasibly, cast the images of your desire into a more sinister and evil form. Now, there is a condition called Sleep Paralysis (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sleep_paralysis). One version of this condition leads to the sufferer being conscious but unable to move and subject to ‘terrifying hallucinations (hypnopompic or hypnagogic) and an acute sense of danger’. It is not impossible to imagine our poor monk, coming to consciousness in the middle of an erotic dream, unable to move while images of a demonic woman play through his head and what sort of terror this may induce.

In the modern day, however, there are rarely any reports of Sucubbi attacks and they seem to be limited to the bookshelves yet sleep paralysis is still a condition that many suffer from. What has changed is what images the human mind plays in that situation and these days it is more likely that someone who wakes in the middle of the night unable to move will report an alien abduction rather than a demonic attack. The cause of the physiological response – the paralysis – remains the same but the hallucinations have changed to fit with what society as a whole sees as a threat.

So what can the above teach a writer about fear? Well, the fact that fear changes is an important lesson to learn. What was scary to those in the medieval period may no longer be scary today. Indeed, some of the things that past generations found terrifying are now sometimes seen as ludicrous. Bram Stoker’s Dracula caused chills and thrills to his contemporary audience but now teenage girls all want to marry Vampires that sparkle. A writer needs to be aware of the zeitgeist of horror to be able to judge what can trigger those primal responses. While some things never change – our fear of the dark, for example – other things do change a lot with exposure and interpretation. Thinking carefully about what fear is and what causes it is very worthwhile.


Author Bio:

D.A Lascelles is a former clinical scientist turned teacher and part time writer. He is the author of Gods of the Sea, a short story in the Pirates and Swashbucklers Anthology from Pulp Empire (http://pulpempire.com/mag/ ), and Transistions, a paranormal romance novella due out in 2012 from Mundania Press (http://www.mundania.com/) as part of the Shades of Love Anthology.

Sunday, October 23

13 Days of Halloween: The Uncanny




The Uncanny
by Hollidae Muhammad

So it’s Halloween which means it’s the time of year where people are getting their costume’s together, celebrating everything spooky, and whether you celebrate it or not, getting ready for the Halloween and horror movie marathon that’s going to be running on about five digital channels and at least one regular cable channel. But as a writer, who observes trends quite regularly for the sake of writing, I found myself this year asking why the fascination with Halloween? What is it about this holiday that we find ourselves so fascinated with? The answer, or at least part of it, came from the Gothic and Sublime class I’m taking for the semester in school. One of the fascinating aspects of Halloween is the uncanny.

What is the uncanny? It’s something we might say when we meet a person that looks just like our dead relative, that the resemblance or familiarity is uncanny, and that’s just what the word means. Something that is uncanny is something that’s extremely familiar, that resembles something we already know, but is just different enough, just off enough to freak us out a little or makes us wary. That’s why that girl we might meet in class and looks like a dead relative makes the person uncomfortable. It’s the uncanny element of it. It’s the same principle in Halloween.

Vampires, werewolves, zombies, Frankenstein’s Creature, Jason, you name them, the thing that makes them truly horrifying (particularly in their original incarnations) is that they look similar to a normal human, but there’s something just enough wrong with them to freak us out, and it’s that fact that they almost look normal that’s the scary part. Jason on first glance is just a tall guy in a mask with a saw and how many of those do we know anyway? The thing that makes this uncanny is that he’s a dead tall guy in a mask with a saw whether he’s coming for you or not, and I think I’d run to the live one before I run to the dead one. Frankenstein’s monster, The Creature, was created to be a beautiful, strong, human being who defies the very principles of life and death. There’s only one problem… His body was created of dead body parts which aren’t so great after they’ve been sitting in a morgue with no life for a few days. Zombies are people who walk out of the grave, and I don’t think I need to explain that one. Tell you what. Go dig up a random dead relative and see if you want what’s left to get up and come knocking at your door.

Then there’s vampire and werewolves. In modern times and incarnations, they’re no less scary than they were when they were first told about in legends and with Dracula, but it seems they’ve become a bit more endearing… And while I’ll be first to admit I might be one of the ones who willing goes off with a vampire to become his bride, let’s put vampire and werewolves into perspective for a moment. We’re talking about people, who look like regular men and women during the day for the most part, who may can be the model, upstanding citizen, work and interact normally in society, and except for the fact that they may be a little scraggy looking or look like they need a good tan on a sunny beach somewhere, appear pretty normal. That is until you see the same person in the middle of the night sucking some poor soul dry of blood or peak into the backyard to see the person transforming into a wolf under the light of the full moon. It’s something like finding out the ‘nice’ man or woman next door is a registered sex offender if we want to compare the feeling.

And the thing about modern day versions of the werewolf and the vampire is that if these things were actually real, we can’t attribute anything strange to them. People go missing every day, regular men and woman do horrible and inhumane acts (Sweeny Todd anyone?), and people come in and out of cities all the time so we can’t blame it on the new guy. There are medical conditions for people who have sharp looking teeth and a little on the hairy side. If we really think about how the werewolf and the vampire can look and act so normal, they’re even more terrifying than a zombie. At least it’s obvious what you’re dealing with when it comes to zombies, but werewolves and vampire are the most uncanny of all because they’re able to blend in with regular human society and that’s a terrifying thought.

So I came to the conclusion that at least part of the reason people, myself included, enjoy Halloween and anything spooky so much is because spooky things are so much like us yet so different, its mind boggling and intriguing when we see it. Without the uncanny element of Halloween, I don’t think the holiday would be halfway as fascinating or even spooky. I mean, what’s scarier than something that used to be human, still looks human, but isn’t human?

About the Author:

Hollidae Muhammad is an aspiring writer who goes under the pen name Lady Dae on most sites and runs a blog with daily writing tips that focuses on everything  She learned about writing over the years from formatting, to creative devices, plot an conflict, the biggest cliches etc. so that writers can learn from her own trial and error. ladydaewrites.blogspot.com

Saturday, October 22

World of Ink - Guest Post with Maha Huneidi



Developing Characters
by Maha Huneidi 

I think I found out how I developed my character in retrospect, and now that I can see it I think I reverse engineered her. When I first started writing my book, “When Monsters Get Lonely,” the last thing on my mind was character development. I just wanted to tell the story of a little girl who overcame her fear of the dark and of monsters. So my character’s greatest fear was already there. She also had a dream of becoming a movie director, so she started out as a concrete character with a dream and a fear from the very start.

I think that developing a character for a picture book is much easier than developing one for a novel. You have a limited number of words to work with, so you can’t go into detail and you have the illustrations to fill in the description of the character. I did have quite a bit of detail about the character which I had to delete because of word count, but the character immerged nevertheless.

I was afraid of the dark and of monsters as a child so the character was partly me, but when the book became about my granddaughter, the character became partly her. She was almost three at the time, so really the character was what I imagined her to be.

I think my character just developed with my understanding of how to write picture books. When I found out that the main character must resolve the problem herself, my character became strong and intelligent, because she had to understand what Grams meant when she said that we invent our lives, and she had to use her understanding to resolve her problem.

Hannah was strong enough to go back to her room, but not overly so. She asked her mom to leave the lights on, so she came through as both strong and vulnerable.

In the end to sum it all up, I think my character was real because she was

-Borrowed from real life, but I don’t think that a character should be exactly like one particular person. But then that’s the fun of writing fiction, you can make up a whole new personality.

-She had an ambition and a fear.

-She had strong traits that the reader can identify with, she was intelligent, brave, and vulnerable.

-She grew and got over her fear by resolving her own problem.


About the Author:


Maha Huneidi is a wife, mother and now grandmother, who finally found out what she wants to be when she grows up. This book is the first step of her journey. She lives in Portland, Oregon.




13 Days of Halloween - Guest Post with Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy



I was born scant days before Halloween with a name one short syllable shy of my grandmother’s dead daughter’s name as another kinswoman departed this life. I like to think Aunt Lottie and I high fived on the way in and out or at least said hello. My parents took me home to an old brick Victorian house where generations of doctors lived and practiced. In that house, the paranormal was the normal because odd things happened often. I also inherited a few psychic gifts from my grandmothers, a great-grandmother, and one great-grandfather who happened to be the seventh son of a seventh son. Some of my true strange experiences have appeared in Fate magazine. So it’s no wonder that I’ve always been attracted to things both supernatural and paranormal with curious wonder.

Although it may sound like something out of one of my novels, all of the above is true. With my birthday so close to All Hallows Eve, many of my early birthday cakes were decorated for the holiday with orange and black frosting, black cats, and even witches. Autumn is my favorite season and as an adult I always burn a traditional fire on October 31. Good little Catholic girl that I am as well I go to church the next morning for All Saints too. I know – shades of Anne Rice or something especially with my vampire romance series, the Love Covenant series from Evernight Publishing.

Maybe it’s no wonder that I write about vampires. In the Love Covenant series (Love Tattoo, Love Scars, Love Shadows and coming soon, book four of six, Love Shadows) readers love my Irish born two hundred year old vampire and his Texas gal. Even in much of my other fiction a few paranormal elements often creep into the pages. This year, I have a story in the Jack-o-spec collection from Raven Electrick Press and a stand alone short, Forty Eight Hours A Year coming October 29 from Silver Publishing. Much of my published short fiction deals with the odd and the supernatural elements.

Since this is the month for Halloween, I’ll share a spooky and strange personal experience, one of many. I lived deep in the rural Ozarks when I first got married and in the hollow down below our home an old derelict farmhouse remained. My imagination always gets fired up by old home places so I talked my husband into trekking through the woods, literally over hills and through the brambles to see it. I brought along my camera, shot a lot of pictures and we went in but not far because it looked dangerous. The staircase that led to the upper floor was rotted away. I shot the pictures with my Canon camera using 35 mm film. When I got the pictures back I looked at them and then looked again. I saw people in the upstairs windows.  In the side window, a woman of about thirty leans to peer out through the glass. In one of the front windows, I could see an old woman with a big apron tied about her waist pointing one finger in the direction I stood taking the pictures. There was another picture of an old man, very distinct.
I showed them to my husband and he saw them too. I still have the pictures and everyone I’ve ever shown them to shivers. The people look very real but no one human could have been upstairs because there was no way left to reach it. Since then, I’ve shot a few other pictures of old houses that have images in the windows too but none are as clear as these.

That’s my strange but true story to share this Halloween season. Feel free to check out my short stories that may offer up a chill or two. If you’re into vampires, try my Love Covenant series. Readers can find my books, all eBooks, some also in paperback, and the anthologies on Amazon.com. I have an author page there, Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy.  

Friday, October 21

13 Days of Halloween: I Love Horror Movies






I planned on posting a review of the 80s horror comedy House II, but sadly I didn’t get around to watching the movie this week. I haven't seen the movie in years, and I ordered it off of Amazon last week. I remember walking up to grocery store (at the time I lived in a very small town) when I was young with my aunt (who’s only six years older than me). The grocery store had very limited VHS rentals, in which we rented Critters 2 and House II. I had seen the first House a few years before when my parents bought it. And I seen the original Critters on the big screen, as my uncle demanded that the movie was funny, but mom and grandma had a different opinion after taking my aunt and me to see it. Anyway, I have fond memories of House II and I look forward to watching it again this weekend.

My first venture in watching horror was back in the late 80s on an old black and white TV set I had in my bedroom, where I would watch Friday the 13th the series at 9 PM on Friday nights. I barely recall what any of the episodes where about until I bought the DVDs a few years ago. About a year or so later is when I was introduced to Michael Myers by my grandma who was babysitting me at the time. My mom was fairly upset that I watched the movie, even though it was the cut version off of TV.  I watched part of Halloween II when I was at my grandparent’s house a few weeks later and I begged to take the VHS home to finish it. My mom made me keep the volume down as I finished the movie at home. As for Halloween III, lets just say I only watched it once as a kid, but I’ve watched a few more times since I have gotten it on DVD. It's not my favorite in the series.

I wasn’t aware of Halloween 4 & 5 even existed, until Halloween: The Curse of Michael Meyers came out. I was eagerly waiting the rental release and kept asking the video clerk (in another town) when it was coming out, that’s when I was told there six movies. I rented 4 and 5 just before the sixth movie came out. During those five years before Halloween 6 was released, I found other movies - A Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, Evil Dead, Night of the Living Dead, and many other horror movies. In the middle 90s I would watch Monster Vision on TNT, and then switch over to the local Fox station to watch Tales from the Crypt at midnight.

After being caught in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer mayhem, I still continued to follower Michael Meyers in his lackluster sequels and remakes. Now at the age of 30, I still love to indulge in the world of horror. I now watch True Blood, The Walking Dead, and the American Horror Story, which all three are better than most modern horror movies and the countless, horrible, remakes.

Thursday, October 20

13 Days of Halloween: Halloween Party Review




Fear Street: Halloween Party
BY: R.L. Stine
PUBLISHED BY: Simon Pulse
PUBLISHED IN: 1990
ISBN: 978-1-4169-1811-0
Pages: 154
Reviewed by Billy Burgess

Does anyone recall the bookshelves of the school book fair being filled with teen horror books? I got caught up in the horror madness in the early 90s, about the time I started watching the 1978’s Halloween at the age of nine, and I stumbled upon the bizarre world of R.L. Stine, a few years before the Goosebumps phenomenon hit the shelves. I read and collected dozens of R.L. Stine novels back in the day, but as I grew up I lost interest. Luckily I kept all of the books and I started collecting R.L. Stine, along with other Point Horror books, again.

Last Christmas, I received Halloween Party by R.L Stine, which is part of the Fear Street series, which I have always wondered why none of the books have every been made into a cheap horror movie or a low-rated CW series. I’ve never read the book before and was memorized by the snappy new cover design from the Simon Pulse release. There’s something about a jack-o-lantern that gives me the creeps. I tossed the book on the coffee table and had forgotten about it until last month when I was planning the 13 Days of Halloween posts. I thought it would be a perfect time to read it.

The Halloween Party is about a teen, Terry Ryan, who, along with his girlfriend, Niki Meyer (Michael Meyers? A Coincidence? Why is there always someone with the last name Meyer or Meyers in a horror novel?) has been invited, along with a selected number of guests, to the Halloween Party of Justine, a new student to Shadyside High with a mysterious past. The party is being held at the old Cameron Mansion on Fear Street, beyond the cemetery. The mansion is said to be haunted!

This is not your typical party as all Justine wants to do is play wicked, cruel games to embarrass her fellow students. Then, out of nowhere, several bikers crash the party, reminding me of the party scene from the movie Weird Science. While the new unwelcome guests causes a little chaos, Niki disappears and one of the partiers is found dead! Terry searches through the spooky mansion in search of his missing girlfriend, while Justine unleashes her revenge plot.

 I have to admit that I normally zoom right through Fear Street novels, but I had trouble getting into this one until I was about the middle of the book. I rolled my eyes as the bikers invaded the party, and my stomach quenched at every cruel joke Justine unleashed. Only when Terry learns of the mansion’s previous owners’ deaths does the plot actually get interesting, and you finally understand why Justine only invited specific guests. Despite that fact that Halloween Party is not the best of the Fear Street, I still enjoyed the few twists and turns that made it a decent read. I can easily see this being made into a TV movie, but I guess those are too rare these days thanks to the boring scripted reality shows. Let me give you some advice: If you get invited to a party at an old mansion next to a cemetery - Don’t Go!

Wednesday, October 19

13 Days of Halloween: Another Interview With A Vampire


Another Interview With A Vampire
By Rebeka Harrington

When developing characters; some authors create detailed character sheets, others use a loose outline and follow their ‘muse’. I use a combination of these, but the main method I use for creating my characters is; I talk to them. Like a crazy person, I sit in my office and talk to my characters. Ask them questions about their lives, reactions and feelings. Thankfully only my cat is witness to this lunacy, otherwise I’m sure I would have been locked up a long time ago.

I thought it appropriate, when Billy asked for a guest post in honor of October and Halloween, that I share with you my version of an “Interview With A Vampire”.

The vampire I’m interviewing is Bektamun. She is 3000 years old and narrator of “Vampires Revealed”.

RH: Hi Bektamun, thanks for agreeing to an interview. I hope you’re comfortable and not hungry at all.

B: It’s my pleasure Rebeka. No I’m not hungry, I fed earlier.

Monday, October 17

Interview with Anna Deskins


Your children's book, The Adventures of Smitty looks magically. Tell us about it.
It's the story of a magical island of little creatures called Smilies and the mischievous little main character, Smitty. He's such a naughty boy. Haha!  All the moms and kids I've shared it with have been giving me such a wonderful reaction. I cannot believe it.  I have to tell you how excited I am to finally have a life-long dream come true. Writing The Adventures of Smitty was really about finding a story that I would want to read to my children at night. It has to be exciting but not scary so that my two daughters can go to sleep.  Basically, I was looking for that perfect blend to read to my kids at night and decided, "Why not try writing my own?"
We've had a lot of changes in our life recently, so I want to make sure that when I put my daughters to sleep that they feel safe.  I have short chapters because I know how busy we moms are but if you can just sacrifice 5 minutes at night reading to your kids, it makes a world of difference.  Your kids will never forget it. And although we're running around the whirlwind of life, our kids grow up so fast, and that time that we'd rather finish watching what happened in our favorite soap opera instead of reading to our kids will never come again.  I hope that The Adventures of Smitty and books like it help moms do exactly that.

And it's only 99 cents this week. That's what I love about it. Now, You are recently divorced. How have you been able to continue writing when going through such a change?
Yes, it is by far one of the most challenging points in my life. To see a marriage you thought would last forever to not last forever was difficult for the two of us. I really learned a lot about myself and most importantly, it's brought me closer to my daughters.  I think that's what really motivated me to finish this children's book no matter what. When you're going through changes in your life like this, you need something to hold on to. There's a part of you that wants to prove that you can make it, that you will be a success even if it's not with the partner you originally imagined building a life with.  I had to keep writing, for my kids. I want to show them that they have to keep strong, no matter what.
We as women, as moms really need to stick together to support each other and our dreams. We're living in an age when I think we're finally realizing, although we want love, the men in our life aren't the answer to everything. We have to stand up on our own two feet and keep going. True love will happen, but until then, we have to keep moving forward. Our children depend on us and we depend on us.

In addition to being a children's book author, you're also a small business owner. How do you juggle taking care of two daughters and at the same time running a business?
Yes, I am a fashion designer and have a retail store. Any type of creativity is what I'm passionate about. That's why writing The Adventures of Smitty was so important to me. Let me tell you, running a small business in today's economy isn't easy especially when raising two girls at the same time. But somehow, it seems someone's watching over me because my dreams are coming true no matter what. To have that many moms glowing about my children's book, means so much to me. And I know my girls are proud.

When do you ever have time to write?
You mean, in between laundry, running a business, chasing my girls around the house, cleaning the house, and flying back and forth from Miami to New York? Haha? That's one thing I've learned, when you really want to do something, you find a way. Things fall into place if you just go for it and that's what I want to encourage all the moms who are reading this right now. Whatever your goal is, you can do it. Don't let the challenges in your personal life stop you from going for your dreams.  Just go for it and it's almost magical how things fall into place.

Where can we get a copy of "The Adventures of Smitty"?
Right now, it's available online by going to: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/94655 You can also visit my website:http://www.AnnaDeskins.com where you can read more about my writing process, my recommendations for other books and my own adventures in Mommyhood.
I'm so grateful for your support and the support I'm getting from so many wonderful moms who dream of writing children's books one day too. Writing The Adventures of Smitty has been such an emotional experience for me, a true journey as I was going through so many changes while writing it. It's truly been a blessing in my life. It, along with my daughters, and that guy upstairs have really pulled me through a challenging time.

Thanks for the interview, Anna. 

Saturday, October 15

Review - Baby, It's Cold Outside & Kindle Fire Giveaway!






Baby, It’s Cold Outside
BY: Susan May Warren
PUBLISHED BY: Summerside Press
PUBLISHED IN: 2011
ISBN: 978-1-60936-215-7
Pages: 313
Reviewed by Billy Burgess

 Dottie Morgan does not celebrate Christmas anymore.  Her only son had died during WWII and she has no family left. Dottie’s friend/co-worker Violet, who is grieving over her fiancé’s death, shows up at door as a snowstorm hits Frost, Minnesota. A mystery man ends up at Dottie’s house, along with her neighbor. She would rather spend the holidays by herself, but must make the best out an awkward situation.

I found it odd that I was reading a Christmas novel in October, but I found the novel charming and witty at times. I liked that the story is set in a small town, which I can relate to. The characters in Baby, It’s Cold Outside are grieving over lost loved ones and are struggling with the holiday season. I found the book funny and heartwarming. I can easily see this as a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie in the near future. It is a great read.

*I would like to thank LitFuse for sending me a copy to review. 


About the Author:


Susan May Warren is an award-winning, best-selling author of over twenty-five novels, many of which have won the Inspirational Readers Choice Award, the ACFW Book of the Year award, the Rita Award, and have been Christy finalists. After serving as a missionary for eight years in Russia, Susan returned home to a small town on Minnesota’s beautiful Lake Superior shore where she, her four children, and her husband are active in their local church.

Susan's larger than life characters and layered plots have won her acclaim with readers and reviewers alike. A seasoned women’s events and retreats speaker, she’s a popular writing teacher at conferences around the nation and the author of the beginning writer’s workbook: From the Inside-Out: discover, create and publish the novel in you!. She is also the founder of www.MyBookTherapy.com, a story-crafting service that helps authors discover their voice.

Susan makes her home in northern Minnesota, where she is busy cheering on her two sons in football, and her daughter in local theater productions (and desperately missing her college-age son!)

A full listing of her titles, reviews and awards can be found at:www.susanmaywarren.com.


Link to buy the book: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1609362152/ref=as_li_ss_til?tag=sprightly-20&camp=213381&creative=390973&linkCode=as4&creativeASIN=1609362152&adid=1W6V46X88E4D79FGRNE1


Blog tour schedule: (please include the link to the blog tour post in your review: http://litfusegroup.com/blogtours/text/13433361)




Baby, It’s Cold Outside – warm up with a Kindle Fire from Susan May Warren


Warm up to Chrismtas early this year with Susan May Warren's Baby, It's Cold Outside! To celebrate the release of her new Christmas book with Summerside Press, she and the publisher are giving away a Kindle Fire and hosting an early Christmas Party on Facebook!

Read what the reviewers are saying here.


One festive winner will receive:
  • A brand new Kindle Fire
  • Baby, It's Cold Outside by Susan May Warren
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. Giveaway ends on 10/26!

But, wait there’s more! Join Susan May Warren on 10/27 for merriment and a few early Christmas presents at her Baby, It's Cold Outside Christmas party! Grab your Christmas sweaters, socks and pj’s and join Susan and a few friends for a fireside chat about her recent books (Heiress & Baby, It’s Cold Outside), holiday traditions, favorite Christmas recipes, a trivia contest and more! Invite your friends and don’t miss the fun!

RSVP here and we'll see you on October 27th at 5 PM PST / 8 PM EST!

Friday, October 14

Friday Hops

Book Blogger Hop

http://crazy-for-books.com/2011/10/book-blogger-hop-1014-1017.html

Question of the Week: What is your favorite spooky book?

My Answer: My favorite scary book would be Grave Doubts by John Peel, which is part of the Shocker series from the early 90s. 


Question of the week: If you could have characters from a particular book meet and form an epic storyline with characters from a particular TV series, which would you choose and why?

My answer: I would like to see Detective John Munch (from Law & Order SVU  & Homicide: Life on the Streets) help Richard Castle (from Castle) solve a murder case.