horror

New Project

Hey, how’s it going? I hope everyone is doing well.

As the title of this post suggests, I wanted to let you know I’ve started work on a new book. Fans of my short story, COVERT GENESIS (which appears in SNAFU: An Anthology of Military Horror), will be pleased to know the new book takes place in the same world. I’ve talked about wanting to take that short story and make a book out of it. I’m putting my money where my mouth is.

My previous literary agent suggested I finish a different book because it was more lucrative. I’m not writing this new book because I think it’ll be lucrative (even though I believe it will be anyway). I’m writing this one because I love the story, and world of Covert Genesis. This is a labor of love for me and I believe that love will find its way to the page.¬†I have a loose outline and the first chapter is going well. My goal is to have the first draft done before the new year.

What can readers expect from the new book?

While I don’t have a title for the new book yet, it will explain where the parasites come from. It’ll be a mash-up of horror, sci-fi, and military action. You’ll find familiar characters as well as new ones. The goal is to set the parasite menace free and see how humanity stands up to it.

I’ll be sure to share more details as the project nears completion. Stay tuned. It’s going to be one hell of a ride!

Paying the Ferryman Facebook Questions Answered

CHARON_FERRYMAN_fulldesign

Last night Charon Coin Press hosted a Facebook party to celebrate the release of their latest anthology, Paying the Ferryman. I’m not on Facebook (tried it and didn’t like it) so I figured I’d jot down the questions and answer them here. Feel free to ask any other questions in the comments below.

Margie Colton: Are you a plotter, a pantser, or a hybrid?

I’m a huge plotter. I like to have a solid story structure and outline in place before I turn on my computer. I’m talking things like character bios, major plot points, and settings. Once I get a feel for all of the different aspects of the story, I like to immerse myself in them, meaning they’re always on my mind. For me, it makes writing a lot easier knowing where I’m going. Taking the time to outline in the beginning means less revision work later.

Frank Edler: Do you see death as a dark end or a promising new beginning?

Each person will likely have a different opinion on this. I’m not sure anyone really knows for sure, and that’s what makes this an interesting question. I suppose I’m not sold on either the dark end or the new beginning. Personally, I hope that when I die that’s it. I’d like to finally be at peace.

Hayden McAnally: What is your favorite horror book?

the descent hardcover

Eric Jude: Do you use a pen name?

No. I don’t believe in using pen names. Even if I write in several genres, I plan on using my real name. I want credit for all the hard work that went into creating those stories, and books, no matter what genre they happen to fall under.

Brian Fatah Steele: Does your story in Paying the Ferryman fall into any particular horror sub-genre?

I don’t think so. Plain old horror.

Hayden McAnally: Did any of you ever get particularly creeped out by your own words?

No. Not much scares me. What I try to do is see through my character’s eyes, what scares them. Fear is such a subjective thing that each person will probably react differently to different situations. The key is presenting the scares in the most universal way possible so a greater number of readers will relate to them.

Tammy Hay Mitchell: Who is your favorite author and why?

Right now my favorite is Tim Lebbon. He does so many things well that I find myself wanting to write better. He usually finds a way to inject horror sensibilities into whatever genre he’s writing at the time. My all-time favorite is Dean Koontz. The way he lets his stories unfold (particularly his earlier works), giving readers enough detail (without over doing it) so they can finish the scares themselves, is masterful.

Frank Edler: What fellow author were you most honored to share the pages of Paying the Ferryman with?

Armand Rosamilia because he’s been in the business for a number of years.

Frank Edler: How did you approach the theme of Paying the Ferryman?

I immediately thought about what death would mean for someone like a car thief. Would they have regrets? Was this person bad or simply making the best of the hand they were dealt? Would they get, or even deserve, a second chance? I believe life is rarely black and white. It’s full of shades of gray, and that’s what I wanted to explore.

Margie Colton: What’s the best part of writing?

Getting to explore ideas and concepts I probably wouldn’t get to in real life. Plus I get to share my stories with readers who may get something more out of them than I ever intended.

Margie Colton: What is your favorite part of your story?

Can I go with the visuals? I bet most readers will remember the bacon scene the most though. ūüėČ

BZD2HMFCIAAOv1u[1]

D. S. Ullery: What drew you to submit to this anthology?

The concept. Plus, the people behind Charon Coin seemed passionate about not only the creative side of publishing, but also the business side. Through experience I’ve learned to not submit to any/every press. It was easy for me to see Charon Coin was different in a good way. Working with Margie was a pleasure and I would definitely recommend Charon Coin to other writers.

Jenner Michaud: Did you learn any lesson as a writer writing your story for Paying the Ferryman?

Just about what kind of people Margie and Jerry are. Margie in particular made the entire submission process easy and approachable for everyone–from the first time author to a more seasoned author like me who’s been actively submitting projects for a couple of years. For those of your who don’t really know, Margie went above and beyond keeping everyone updated and on the same page. She was also very approachable and open to new ideas. One of the better experiences I’ve had to date in publishing.

Paying the Ferryman is available now! For more information visit Charon Coin’s official website.

Paying the Ferryman Has a Release Date

If you follow me on Twitter, you’ve probably seen this information. If not, why aren’t you following me on Twitter?

CHARON_FERRYMAN_fulldesign

Charon Coin Press are gearing up for the October 20 release date of their forthcoming anthology, PAYING THE FERRYMAN. What’s this PAYING THE FERRYMAN ANTHOLOGY, you ask? In each of the stories in this anthology, the main character dies and passes through to the other side. Each author brings a different perspective, and definition, to their other side. Sounds pretty cool, right? I thought so too and was so inspired by the concept that I penned a short story called Death Blossoms.

When I sat down to write Death Blossoms, I knew I wanted a main character of color. They had to be someone from the street. A hustler of some sort. Someone who did what they thought they had to in order to survive. I drew on my earlier years for this character–one of my good friends from high school in particular. I’m no hustler, but I’ve been around them enough to know how some of them think. Despite what some of us may think, not all hustlers are bad people. Desperation and fear can drive even good people to do bad things. My father started out robbing the offering plate from his local church so he could feed his brothers and sisters. All of those things went into Armando Castillo, a young car thief who only wants to get his mamma out of the projects and into a better life. He’s someone, I believe, we all can relate to.

Without giving too much away, the heart of my story is about overcoming our darkest fears (whatever they may be). And, if you’ve read any of my other work, you know I’m big on redemption. Did I mention killer bacon? Don’t adjust your eyes. Yes, I said killer bacon. Bacon…that kills!

Death Blossoms was a lot of fun to write. Turns out it was easy for me too. I can’t wait to see how readers react in a few weeks. Expect more promotion leading up to PAYING THE FERRYMAN’S release.

Mark your calendars. Have your payment ready. The Ferryman is waiting.

The official press release can be found on Charon Coin’s website. Follow this link.

You can find Charon Coin Press on Twitter / Facebook / Official Website

My Short Story Has a New Home

I few weeks ago I teased about some good news involving a zombie short story I had written. Well, today I can finally share that news with all of you.

2013_October_ezine_cover

LABOR OF LOVE, my zombie short story, has a home with The Sirens Call e-magazine!

Sirens Call Publications has an e-magazine, titled The Sirens Call,¬†which releases bi-monthly, or every two months and is 100% free. The latest issue (volume #11) is all¬†about revenge. The talented ladies behind the magazine–Nina, Gloria, and Julianne–were kind enough to¬†include my submission in their magazine. I can’t thank them enough.

This link will take you to The Sirens Call main page where you can click on the revenge issue and download a free .PDF version of the magazine. My story is on page 61. http://www.sirenscallpublications.com/ezine.htm

This is my first publication of any kind and I’m kind of excited. With so many other stories out on submission, it hopefully won’t be the last.

Special thanks goes to Kristen Jett for inspiring me to try my luck with short stories. Without reading her contribution to The Zombie Project, titled ONE GIRL, ONE SHOT (which you can read here:¬†http://chynnablueink.com/2013/09/15/12-one-girl-one-shot-by-kristen-jett/), I wouldn’t have written LABOR OF LOVE. Kristen, you are a real life muse. Thank you so much. And, as always, pink shotguns FTW! ūüôā

A big thank you goes to Jolene Haley (another real life muse) and Chynna-Blue Scott for their zombie inspiration as well. I can’t forget my faithful readers–Daphne, Tonia, Cat, and Amy. I couldn’t have done it without any of you. Thank you.

Now go forth and read. Please? Thanks!

Weekend Horror: Evil Dead (2013)

EvilDead-2013

Like many of you, I heard about this remake before I saw any previews. I was skeptical. I loved the original for the campiness and innocent feel the college actors brought to the table. Then I saw a preview. Still wasn’t sold. Then I learned the original director, producer, and star were involved and gave their seal of approval. Now I was intrigued.

Too bad I didn’t listen to those first instincts.

The Evil Dead follows much of the same story as the original. Five young adults are spending the weekend in a decrepit cabin in the woods, miles from civilization. In the remake, they’re there to help Mia (played by Jane Levy) kick her drug habit. Two of her life-long friends Eric, the annoying know-it-all teacher, and Olivia, who just so happens to be a nurse, are along for support. We mustn’t forget Mia’s brother, David, who has abandoned the family long ago and recently resurfaced with his girlfriend, Natalie, to support his sister. Turns out someone broke into their family cabin. GASP!

After a quick search, they find no one…or the 30,000 dead cats in the basement either. So our fearless fivesome proceed to “make this place livable.” Mia makes it a few hours before she starts screaming and throwing tantrums for some drugs. Meanwhile, Eric decides to open something wrapped in barbed wire and garbage bags because…we don’t know. When he opens it, he discovers a book bound in human flesh. Now most of us would not touch the book further, but not Eric. He’s a teacher! He’s smart! It seems like Eric’s only purpose in this film was to open the book and read it aloud…exactly what it says NOT to do.

PossessedMia

Something comes out of the woods and starts possessing our hapless heroes. Chaos, blood, and dismemberment follow.

What I liked.

  • The special effects were awesome. The burns looked real. Blood, blood, everywhere! Severed limbs, cut flesh, all looked great.
  • The sound. Even though I wouldn’t recommend wasting your money watching this at the theater, the sound alone almost makes up for that. Disembodied voices come at you from all angles. The gross sounds of sawing flesh, puke, and other scary noises was one of the highlights of this film.
  • Jane Levy. The actress who plays Mia did an excellent job. I believed she was terrified in the beginning when things were trying to possess her. After she was possessed, she became a whole different being. Again, her performance almost makes this film bearable.

What I didn’t like.

  • The script. I can hear some of you grumble that this is only a horror movie. I don’t care. Any good movie starts with a good script. This movie had a few good ideas that didn’t pan out because the script was so thin. I spent much of the movie shaking my head in disbelief because I didn’t believe the characters would do many of the things they did. They lacked motivation. When¬†Natalie (who no one other than David knows) is sent for some lifesaving supplies, she stops to check on¬†possessed Mia. It doesn’t make sense. Someone is going to die if she doesn’t get back¬†ASAP, yet she stops to check on someone she has no reason to check on. Don’t get me started on Eric. All he does is bitch, moan,¬†and unleash the demons.¬†When demons are¬†running amok, he¬†calls David¬†a coward for¬†always running away throughout their lives. What? There were simply too many plotholes and no rational character motivations. The home-made defibrillator was the best. Get an old car battery, some needles, and some wires to connect them, and you too can bring people back from the dead!
  • The acting. I’m sorry, but Shiloh Fernandez was horrible as¬†David.¬†I don’t know if he was intentionally trying to show no emotion, but that’s what audiences are treated to.¬†I never believed he cared for anyone, at any time. The same goes for¬†Lou David Pucci, who played Eric. I didn’t believe he had a relevant purpose in the movie. Part of that was due to the script, but there’s a part where he’s whining why everything isn’t all right. All he does is talk in little more than a whisper. He says things like, “we’re all going to die,” but it was so nonchalantly acted that I laughed.
  • Doors slamming every ten minutes. Seriously, every time something was about to happen, a door slammed. It was annoying after the second time, but they just kept doing it.
  • A dog named Grandpa. I didn’t have a problem with them having a dog. I just didn’t see the point. He didn’t do anything and is killed rather early in the film, but we don’t see how, or why. We’re led to believe Mia did it (it was her dog) but that part is quickly brushed under the rug.
  • The book of the dead. Look, I didn’t mind the concept behind the book. I had problems with¬†a lack of¬†reasoning behind anything in the book. It was like someone came up with what they thought were cool ideas and threw them in there. In order to save the possessed soul you have to either dismember them, bury them alive, or burn them alive. Why? Because the book says so. How would killing them save their soul? Because the book says so.
  • The atmosphere. The cabin, and surrounding woods, didn’t feel creepy. When we see the cabin, it just looks like a rundown shack and not a foreboding death house. The whole possession angle hinges on our group of heroes being isolated and stranded, trapped. Other than them showing the overflowing river (which happens in a matter of hours), I didn’t feel like they had to stay in the cabin. I wondered why they didn’t leave, more than once.
  • The prologue moment. Other than explain why there were a million dead cats strung up in the basement, and how the book was there, the prologue left me scratching my head. We never see those people again. It didn’t make sense, or fit in with the rest of the movie.

This movie suffers from poor direction and an even poorer script. Coincidentally, they were both done by the same person, Fede Alvarez. Instead of an intelligent horror film, audiences are treated to one bloody moment after another with no apparent reason. It felt like the director was trying too hard to gross the audience out instead of making a good film, and it shows. Halfway through the movie I said out loud, “I don’t care.” And that’s exactly how the actors interacted with each other on screen. They didn’t seem to care about one another either. Without a good story any movie will fail. And that’s exactly what this film does, fail. If all you’re looking for is¬†gore, see The Evil Dead. That’s one of the few things they get right. For those of you looking for a good movie, skip it. It’s not worth your time, or money.

Weekend Horror: Dog Soldiers

“My¬†imagination completely controls me, and forever feeds the fire that burns with¬†dark red light in my heart by bringing me the best dreams. I’ve always had a¬† wild imagination, a big heart and a tortured soul so I feel that dark fantasy,¬†love and horror are in my blood.”–Kim Elizabeth

Dog Soldiers--PosterIt’s no secret Neil Marshall is one of my favorite directors. I have all his films (Dog Soldiers, The Descent, Doomsday, and Centurion) on DVD and have watched each of them numerous times. I actually stopped to wonder why I like his style. The answer is he tells the kind of grand-in-scale stories on the screen that I’d like to tell in my manuscripts. The kind of stories where you can lose yourself for two hours and not mind. He also does a fantastic job of getting the most out of very little and making his productions seem much larger than they really are. Dog Soldiers is a perfect example of both.

Set in the Highlands of Scotland, a group of reserve soldiers is pit against a Special Forces unit in a series of war games. Ignoring the campfire tales of missing campers and ominous stories of local wildlife, the squad stumbles on the bloody remains of their Special Forces adversaries. Among the carnage they discover a wounded Captain Ryan, played brilliantly by Liam Cunningham. What’s strange is the amount of empty shell casings and a lack of enemy casualties. Ryan mumbles something about there was only supposed to be one. The reserves ditch their blank rounds for live ammunition and their harmless weekend of war games turns into a live operation. Without radio communication they’re forced to fight off unseen enemies as night falls until they stumble onto a lone traveller on the road. She agrees to take them to a nearby farm so they can sort things out. It turns out Captain Ryan was using the reserve squad as bait in order to capture a werewolf. Who will survive the night? You’ll have to watch in order to find out!

Dog Soldiers--Wolf

If you haven’t seen this worthy addition to the werewolf genre, stop reading this post and find a copy. Dog Soldiers is quite possibly one of the best low-budget¬†horror films of all time. While the special effects aren’t the best, Mr. Marshall makes up for it by keeping the creatures in the shadows. This creates an air of mystery that actually adds to the tension, and is a brilliant move. The cast is full of gems like Liam Cunningham (Davos on HBO’s Game of Thrones, Clash of the Titans remake, and Centurion), Kevin McKidd¬†(HBO’s Rome, Percy Jackson, and Brave), and Sean Pertwee (Formula 51, Doomsday, and Soldier) who shine on the big screen. Combining werewolves, soldiers, and plenty of action, Dog Soldiers is a fast paced, bloody good time, which is sure to please horror lovers as well as action lovers. Give it a try, you won’t be sorry.

Weekend Horror: The Descent

It’s here! My first official horror post is finally here.¬†I couldn’t think of a¬†better way to kick off¬†this new¬†weekly horror post than with a movie, and director, so influential in my horror loving life. The obvious connection can be made between the title of this blog and the movie we’re about to dive into. They both¬†contain the word ‘Descent’.

the-descentReleased in 2005, The Descent is so much more than a horror movie (not to be confused with the book The Descent, by Jeff Long). It’s a great movie that just happens to contain horror elements. Director Neil Marshall (who also wrote the script) brings a cast of six ladies together on the anniversary of a tragic accident¬†that took our main character, Sarah’s,¬†family. The friends hope to reconnect and bring a sense of normalcy back to Sarah’s, and their lives. He quickly establishes who these ladies are and why we should care about them. Sarah is still reeling from the tragic accident. Beth is¬†a teacher, Sarah’s BFF, and all around good person. Juno is the¬†thrill seeker and adventurous type who moved away after the accident. Rebecca is the sensible friend and the voice of reason.¬†Sam is¬†Rebecca’s younger sister and studying to be a doctor with a bright future. Also along for our adventure is Holly, Juno’s new BFF and fellow thrill seeker. As you can see each woman has something to live for.

The ladies have a fun weekend planned spelunking a well known cave system in Tennessee.¬†Turns out Juno¬†and Holly’s thirst for adventure led them to lie and after a cave in, the ladies¬†find themselves¬†trapped deep underground in an undiscovered¬†cave system. There’s no help coming. They must press on and¬†hope they can find another way out.

One of the ladies injures herself (I won’t say who…you’ll have to watch) and the smell of fresh blood attracts a few unwanted guests.

What this movie does well.

Director Neil Marshall

Director Neil Marshall

Neil¬†does a fantastic job¬†placing the viewer in those cramped caves.¬†There is a feeling of claustrophobia and paranoia¬†in most of the¬†half light¬†and tight camera shots. The atmosphere¬†becomes a character of sorts and adds loads to the¬†overall tension. By the time our unwanted guests arrive,¬†it’s easy to believe the general sense of panic. If you want to see how to¬†create believable tension watch this film.

We already talked about the great script and characters.

The set pieces are incredible. You won’t be able to tell actual rock from the manufactured. Watch the special features, it’s worth it.

The “creatures” were meticulously crafted. The¬†creature actors pull off ¬†Andy Serkis-esque¬†performances minus the computer generated graphics. I love it when movies use actors instead of CG. It adds a whole other dimension to the film.

What this movie doesn’t do well.

If you’re a fan of immediate action, you will be disappointed. It takes a good 45 minutes for the action¬†train to get rolling, but once it does the action comes at you fast and furious. There are two endings for The Descent. Neil’s original ending wasn’t popular in the States (he’s from the UK) so they re-shot and “Americanized” the ending. I prefer the original ending. You’ll find both on the Blu-ray and DVD versions.

Overall Impressions.

The Descent Alt PosterIf you’re a reluctant horror fan, this is the movie for you. There isn’t too much over the top¬†gore, language, and no nudity. If you enjoy a good scare and haven’t seen this movie, you’ll get your money’s worth. This film is a wonderful example of what an up and coming¬†director with a limited budget (just over 3 million)¬†can accomplish. Neil Marshall’s talent and vision are what makes this film shine. The cast, set, script, performances, and effects are all top-notch. This is horror done right. Not to mention¬†The Descent is one¬†of my all-time favorite horror movies. Period. And yes, I saw it at the movies and it was glorious.

Have you seen The Descent? What did you like, or not like, about this film? What are some of your favorite horror movies?