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Friday, December 30

Follow Friday!






Question of the Week: The New Year is here -- and everyone wants to know your New Years Blogging Resolution! What are you going to try to revise, revamp and redo for 2012 on your blog?

My Answer: Currently I do not have any future plans for my blog. In 2012, I'm planning on spending more time on my writings.


Thursday, December 15

Review - Night of the Living Dead Christian




Night of the Living Dead Christian
BY: Matt Mikalatos
PUBLISHED BY: Tyndale
PUBLISHED IN: 2011
ISBN: 978-1-4143-3880-4
Pages: 272





In this intriguing follow-up to Imaginary Jesus, author Matt Mikalatos once again uses himself as narrator in his own fictional story. While patrolling the streets for the Neighborhood Watch Program, Matt sees the oddest scene - a man wearing a pair of goggles and a long white lab coat, like something Dr. Frankenstein would wear, standing on the corner of 108th street, and clutching onto a mysterious box that is connected to a nearby streetlight by electrical wires. Being the Chief Officer for the Neighborhood Watch, Matt investigates the situation. The strange man is a mad scientist by the name Dr. Daniel Culbetron, and along with is sidekick android Hibbs 300,  they are attempting to send a signal out that only werewolves can hear. Yes, I said werewolves!

Being the nice person that he is, Matt agrees to help the mad doctor search for the werewolf. Matt suspects that his neighbor Luther is actually a werewolf, in which this is where the main plot of the novel begins. Luther is man who has a dark side, and when that side of him comes out, he becomes a beast. A werewolf hunter is on his trail, and only Matt, Dr. Daniel Culbetron, Hibbs, a vampire and few other friends can help Luther, if they can avoid mindless zombies.

I eagerly waited for my copy of the Night of the Living Dead Christian, as I enjoyed the previous book, Imaginary Jesus. I am a horror movie fan, so, naturally, I got a kick out the title. The author, Matt Miklaatos, clearly loves old horror/monster movies as he as added zombies, vampires, werewolves, a robot, and a mad scientist to story. Even though Matt has once again added himself as a character, he is not the main character, as Luther, the werewolf, is the central character and the main focus of the book. Just like his previous novel, Matt uses satire through most of the story. Despite having creatures of the night in Night of the Living Dead Christian, just as the title suggests, this is a Christian novel with a spiritual transformation theme. I enjoyed reading every single page of and I look forward to reading Matt’s next book.

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

About the author: 

Matt Mikalatos is the author of Imaginary Jesus. He works with a Christian nonprofit equipping college students for overseas missions. He started watching the Saturday morning Monster Matinee with his father at the age of two and as a result has a natural fear of giant irradiated insects, blood sucking rocks, and carnivorous dinosaurs. He lives near Portland, Oregon, with his wife and three daughters. Visit Matt online at www.mattmikalatos.com. Visit Tyndale House Publishers at www.tyndale.com.


Tuesday, December 6

Review - An Amish Wedding




An Amish Wedding
BY: Beth Wiseman, Kathleen Fuller, & Kelly Long
PUBLISHED BY: Thomas Nelson
PUBLISHED IN: 2011
ISBN: 978-1-59554-921-1
Pages: 384


An Amish Wedding contains three stories that entwine together as three best friends plan their weddings. In “A Perfect Plan” by Beth Wiseman Priscilla excitedly awaits her wedding to Chester Lapp, but as her wedding day gets closer and closer, odd mishaps occur, challenging the couple.

“The Perfect Match” by Kathleen Fuller revolves around Naomi King, who played matchmaker for her sister, Naomi, and a few other family members and friends. She anxiously awaits her sister’s wedding, but wonders why she can’t find a husband for herself, that is until Chester’s cousin arrives for the wedding.

Friday, December 2

Follow Friday!





Question of the week: What is your biggest pet peeve when it comes to books? Maybe you don't like love triangles or thin plots? Tell us about it!

My Answer: I like twists & turns that I never see coming, cliffhanger endings at every chapter, and smart characters that won't bore me. 

Thursday, December 1

Review: Recovering the Self: A Journal of Hope and Healing & Giveaway!

Recovering the Self: A Journal of Hope and Healing Vol. III No. 4
Edited by: Ernest Dempsey
PUBLISHED BY: Love Healing Press
PUBLISHED IN: October 2011
ISBN: 978-1-61599-128-0
Pages: 104






The theme for the October 2011 issue of Recovering the Self: A Journal of Hope and Healing, a quarterly journal, is parenting and families. Unlike a few other parenting books that are written by non-experts, the articles in RTS are written by actual parents and experts who have go through some sort of life trauma or have helped someone with life’s obstacles. The RTS is aimed toward parents with its meaningful articles, short stories, artwork and poetry, covering such topics as safety and cyber crime, grieving, violence, metal illness, etc.

I don’t have any children, but I found the articles through RTS to be very interesting. “Parenting a High-Tech Generation” takes on the social networking and cyber bulling that today’s children live in. I thought the article was spot on with the problems kids face today and I do believe that every parent should read it. Another article that stood out for me was “Parenting Through Adversity”, in which a father is grieving for his daughter and gives advice for families about how to handle grieving. I also enjoyed the humor of “Newborn to Dad: No Multitasking!” I was surprised to find a section on reviews of books and movies aimed for the parenting and families theme. I mostly liked the simple approach of the journal. It’s not aiming toward a PHD only readers, but is aimed for anyone to read. I recommend the issue to all parents.

*I would like to thank Love Healing Press for sending me a copy to review!


To learn more about the journal visit www.RecoveringSelf.com. They are currently looking for Guest Bloggers to contribute personal stories of transformation and healing in their lives and the lives of their families.












GIVEAWAY DETAILS:

2 print copies of Recovering The Self: A Journal of Hope and Healing
courtesy of Love Healing Press. 
Open to followers of this blog with a US mailing address
Ends December 9th

No rules for this giveaway. All you have to do is leave a comment.



Your comment should also include any of the above actions for additional entries and your email (EXAMPLE: coffeeramblings AT hotmail.com)


The two winners will be announced in a seperate post on December 10th.

Tuesday, November 29

Review - The Mirror of N'DE and Giveaway!


The Mirror of N’DE
BY: L.K. Malone
PUBLISHED BY: Kregel Publications
PUBLISHED IN: 2011
ISBN: 978-0-8524-2667-4
Pages: 328


The Mirror of N’de is a fantasy of adventure about a young girl named Hadlay Mivana who is from the poor Ramash people whom are servants to the high class Oresed overlords. Hadlay’s life is changed when she along with a few friends are chosen to work in the Tower of the Emperor. After a few twists and turns, she befriends the Emperor’s son. Just like every other Ramash child, Hadlay has heard the great tale about the trickster Lelyeh and the Mystical mirror which caused the Ramash ancestors removal from the city of N’de. Hadlay always believed that this tale was just a simple bedtime story for kids, but then she begins to have strange dreams about an unknown Being.

While reading this novel I kept thinking about the Chronicles of Narnia and the Harry Potter books. The Mirror N’De is a new intriguing novel in the fantasy world that both children and adults will enjoy reading. The main character, Hadlay, can be a bit whiny at times, but overall she is an enjoyable character. She is a good role model for younger readers as she is only thirteen years old and takes on many challenges throughout the book by herself. The author did a wonderful job by creating a new mysterious world, but there were a few moments towards the end that I thought was a little too preachy. Despite this, I loved reading the book and I look forward to future works by L.K. Malone.

About the Author: 

L. K. Malone is an insatiable reader who devours nearly a book a day when she isn’t writing. Favorite genres include political thrillers, historical fiction, romance, and fantasy. Some of her favorite reads include the Hunger Games series and the Harry Potter books, which inspired her to try her hand at fantasy with a Judeo-Christian twist. Malone is a Colorado native with a large extended family, which includes two lovely young women who graciously let her mentor them through the Denver Kids program, and a handsome menagerie of pets. 



Monday, November 28

Review: A Whisper of Peace



A Whisper of Peace
BY: Kim Vogel Sawyer
PUBLISHED BY: Bethany House
PUBLISHED IN: 2011
ISBN: 978-0-7642-0785-3
Pages: 352


A Whisper of Peace is set near Fort Yukon, Alaska in the year 1898, and follows twenty-one year old Lizzie Dawson who lives alone in a cabin after her mother’s death. Her father was a trapper and married her mother who was from a tribe. The tribe didn’t see eye to eye with their marriage and her mother was banned from the tribe. Lizzie wants to reconcile with her maternal family before she heads to San Francisco to reunite with her father. She soon befriends Vivian Selby who teaches her how to survive in a big city. Vivian along with her brother, Clay, are missionaries and their goal is to help the local tribes.

I have enjoyed reading other novels by Kim Vogel Sawyer, but I had trouble reading A Whisper of Peace. The picture of the woman on the book cover doesn’t represent Lizzie from the book as she is suppose to be mixed race. I wished the book focused more on Lizzie than on Clay and Vivian, as I liked her character more. I didn’t care for Clay at all. I thought the character was shallow and could have been written better. I did like the Alaskan setting and the conflict between Lizzie and her family. If you are a fan of Alaska romance novels, then you might enjoy A Whisper of Peace. The book is alright, but I was a little disappointed in it.

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


About the Author:
Kim Vogel Sawyer is the author of more than twenty novels, including many CBA and ECPA bestsellers. Her books have won the ACFW Carol Award, the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, and the Inspirational Readers Choice Award. Kim is active in her church, where she leads women's fellowship and participates in both voice and bell choirs. In her spare time, she enjoys drama, quilting, and calligraphy. Kim and her husband, Don, reside in Central Kansas, and have three daughters and nine grandchildren. To learn more about upcoming books, visit her website at www.kimvogelsawyer.com.

Review - Out of Control


Out of Control
BY: Mary Connealy
PUBLISHED BY: Bethany House
PUBLISHED IN: 2011
ISBN: 978-0-7642-0911-6
Pages: 329


Book one in the Kincaid Brides series is set during the Colorado Territory in 1866, where Rafe Kincaid stumbles upon an injured Julia Gilliland in a cave. Someone had cut her rope ladder and left her stranded until Rafe rescued her, breaking his personal vow never to go back into the cave again. Julia is glad to be rescued, but is even more happy to have found a fossil in the cave, in which she plans on going back. She is fascinated in geology and wants to explore the mysterious cave, while Rafe must face his past. This is a love story, so naturally the two characters fall for each other.

I have read several novels by Mary Connealy and I would have to say Out of Control is one of her best, filled with an interesting plot and characters that you’ll actually care about. The cavern is big part of the mystery and part of Rafe’s deadly past. The story is fast paced, as I read the novel quickly. I highly recommend Out of Control to all romance readers.
*I would like to thank Bethany House for sending me a copy to review. 

 
About the Author:

Mary Connealy is a Carol Award winner and a Rita Award Finalist. An author, journalists, and teacher, she lives on a ranch in eastern Nebraska with her husband, Ivan, and has four grown daughters - Jose, married to Matt; Wendy; Shelly, married to Aaron; and Katy - and two spectacular grandchildren, Elle and Isaac.

Friday, November 11

Follow Friday


Question of the Week:  In light of 11.11.11 and Veteran’s Day tell us about your favorite soldier and how he or she is saving the world. Fictional or real life.

My Answer: I don't know anyone that is a solider, nor do I have a fictional character that is a solider as I don't read war books. 

Wednesday, November 2

Review - His Steadfast Love


His Steadfast Love
BY: Golden Keyes Parsons
PUBLISHED BY: Thomas Nelson
PUBLISHED IN: 2011
ISBN: 978-1-59554-629-6
Pages: 331



Set on the Gulf Coast of Texas in 1861, Amanda plans of keeping the promise she kept to her dying mother - to never get married, to never get hurt. Her plans change when she meets the handsome Captain Kent Littlefield, and he is instantly attracted to her as well. Situations become rocky when Texas leaves the Union and Amanda’s brother, Daniel, joins the Confederate States. Her love, Kent, is a union solider, and now Amanda is torn between the two men that she loves greatly.

With the dazzling cover setting the mood for this Civil War novel, I was intrigue to be beginning reading His Steadfast Love, which is a well-written and wonderfully plotted romantic novel, reminding of the North and South trilogy. I recommend the book to fans of romance and historical novels. It’s a great read. 

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


About the Author:


Golden Keyes Parsons is the author of the highly acclaimed Darkness to Light series. She's been nominated for several awards, including the ACFW Book of the Year. She and her family live in Texas.



Tuesday, November 1

Guest post with author Nancy Brophy



What Do Readers Want? 

by Nancy Brophy

Comma’s are the bane of my existence. No matter whether I’m putting them in or leaving them out, I’m wrong. I’ve come to accept this when my friends ask, “Have you considered buying a book on punctuation?”

Comments abound on writer’s loops about the horror of Indie-pubbed authors not putting out perfect books. Even if you, like I, have someone edit for errors they still turn up. Frankly, formatting was invented by the devil. But the question isn’t about the formatting of the book. No one writing a critique praises perfect punctuation.

The real question is what do readers want?

They don’t want to trip over grammatical and punctuation errors. We all know that. No one is striving to write poorly. But readers for the most part aren’t reading to critique, they are reading because they want a good story.

More than anything else a reader wants to feel emotion. The stories we carry with us are the ones where the character resonated with us. Maybe it wasn’t the greatest story ever written, but we read it at exactly the right moment in our life. I read Little Women probably around the time I was nine or ten. For a long time, the story was my favorite going so far as to motivate me to become a writer. But I reread Little Women as an adult. What a preachy, self-serving novel. How could I have liked so much as a child? Because I loved Jo.

Our goal as writers is to evoke emotion in the reader. When we think of Scarlett O’Hara, Frodo Baggins, or Harry Potter we think of people we’ve helped overcome obstacles. Through identification with the characters, their fight is also our fight.

We, as writers, have to make their quest the best possible challenge. Your character has to face insurmountable odds and be willing to give everything. If the character holds back, the reader’s participation will skid to a halt.

In Titanic, the heroine leapt from the lifeboat onto the sinking ship to save the hero. This resonated with young girls. The heroine gave her all. Older women in the audience, many of whom could author a book, called, “What I Did for Love” may have thought the heroine was a fool, but we weren’t the ones who saw the movie fifteen times.

The reader must connect with the characters on page one. And this is craft - the heart of a good story. Because evoking emotion is not through angst, but though technique. Give your characters a quest they can’t refuse with a ticking time bomb in the background. Show me the story, don’t tell it to me. Make your setting work. Who can’t picture Tara, or Mordor or Hogswart? Utilize the five senses to draw me in.



I am reader as well as a writer. I, too, want a good story. In Hell On The Heart, Czigany Romney is perfectly happy. Yes, she’d have liked to have graduated high school, perhaps even attended college and become a CSI rather than working for her father and Uncle as an asthmatic sidekick. But leaving Armadillo Creek would be impossible. A gypsy without family would be like a ship without a rudder - directionless, unable to function.

Agent John Stillwater's scarred face reflects the life of man dedicated to protecting his country. Currently his team is dealing with a nationwide white slavery ring, but lack evidence to prove it. An unusual set of circumstances in a nowhere town in Texas leads John to investigate. Can a petite gypsy woman bring down a man the FBI can't find?

I would love to hear your comments.

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

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

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

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


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.


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!