Thursday, September 3, 2015

Spooky September Challenge - Spookiest Campfire Story You've Heard.




I'm participating in Parajunkee's Spooky September Challenge! Today's writing prompt is the Spookiest Campfire Story I've Ever Heard.

I used to go camping a lot when I was younger with my family.  I remember one time pleading with my dad to tell me a scary story.  He obliged in his corny, dad way...it was a scary story with a joke ending, about a Wrap, Wrap, Wrap on the door...and at the end...it was...WRAPPING PAPER.  *Insert eye roll*

However, one time at Girl Scout Camp, I remember a counselor talking about the "Fifth Dimension" (not the music group), and how it was said to be "out there somewhere" and that anyone could "just fall into it."  A young scout with a vivid imagination pictured this black hole in the woods moving around like a spotlight waiting for unsuspecting victims.  I'm sure I was afraid to get out of bed to even go to the bathroom that night!

How 'bout you?  Do you have any good campfire stories?

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Spooky September Challenge - Tribute to your favorite Horror Writer.




I'm participating in Parajunkee's Spooky September Challenge! Today's writing prompt is a tribute to my favorite Horror Author.  If you checked out my Spooky September post from yesterday, it's no surprise that my favorite Horror Author is Stephen King.

By "Pinguino" ("Pinguino's" flickr account) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

I'm pretty sure my first SK book was his short story collection, Skeleton Crew.  After that, I can't remember what I read chronologically, but my favorite book by King, is The Stand.  Some people think he's overrated, some say his endings are horrible (and admittedly, I haven't been impressed by some of them), but then I'll read a short story or read another of his novels and get entertained, thrilled and chilled once again.

Here are some of my favorite posts that I have written about Stephen King.

Happy Birthday Stephen King - my birthday wishes to the Master of Horror.
A Conversation With Stephen King - when he spoke at UMass Lowell in December of 2012.
Carrie - Read Along, Part One: Blood Sports.
Carrie - Read Along, Part Two: Prom Night.
Carrie - Read Along, Part Three: Wreckage.


Here are some of my reviews of Stephen King books.
11/22/63.
Bag of Bones
Carrie.
Cycle of the Werewolf.
Doctor Sleep.
Just After Sunset.
Mr. Mercedes.
'Salem's Lot.
Under The Dome.

If you want to see all the SK books I've read, you can check out my Goodreads page.

What is your opinion of Stephen King? Do you like him, dislike him, neutral?  Who is your favorite Horror author?




Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Spooky September Challenge - Top 10 Spookiest Books.




I'm participating in Parajunkee's Spooky September Challenge! Today's writing prompt is Top 10 Spookiest Books.  These are not in any particular order.  

1. Twilight Eyes by Dean Koontz.  I think this is one of Koontz's superior novels.  It's about a young man who can see demons, who walk among us.  One day he has to flee his hometown and finds refuge in a traveling carnival.  But, it's not the last he sees of the demons.

2. Dracula by Bram Stoker.  While a bit difficult to read at times, it really is a classic.  Some seriously messed up imagery gave me chills.

3. Beautiful Sorrow by Mercedes M. Yardley.  This was not just creepy but a beautiful collection of short stories and poems.  Mercedes knows how to make dark fiction a masterpiece.

4. Bag of Bones by Stephen King.  I listened to this on audio and it was narrated by King.  So, there's that.  This book is about a writer, Mike Noonan, who has writer's block after his wife's death.  He retreats to a town in Maine and collides with the supernatural and a town secret.  It has a haunting quality and scares that are expected from Stephen King.

5. Dr. Sleep by Stephen King.  A follow up to The Shining, this story follows Danny Torrance into adulthood as he has to battle evil once again in the form of a vampiric cult.

6. Dark Places by Gillian Flynn.  This is one of my favorite books of all time.  Libby Day is the sole survivor of her family's massacre.  Twenty five years after the crime, she meets a young man who is in a group who believes that her brother, who is in jail for the crimes, is innocent.  Libby and he go forward into investigating.  This is a gritty, dark and raw thriller.  There are twists and turns that kept me guessing until the end.

7.  Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake. This is a fun YA supernatural thriller.  It has ghosts, great characters, and a fun plot.

8. Summer of Night by Dan Simmons.  A group of pre-teens in the 60s, fight evil in their hometown.  Lots of scares and coming of age moments.  Soooo many creepy scenes!!!

9. You Come When I Call You by Douglas Clegg.  This novel was like recalling a dream.  To be honest, I don't remember a lot about it, but I remember people in a small desert town battling evil.  While I don't necessarily remember specifics, I will never forget how this book made me feel.  This was actually the first novel I read by Clegg and he has never disappointed me. 

10. Pet Sematary by Stephen King.  Okay, remember how I said that this list was in no particular order?  Well I left this one for last because it scared the living crap out of me.  I don't get scared easily, but this was heart thumping, horrifying and at times even cruel. 


Have you read any of these books?  What did you think of them?  What was some of the spookiest books you've ever read?

Monday, August 31, 2015

Guest Post by Jason Phillips - 7 Fantasy Novels That Are Rocking From Decades


There are hundreds of excellent novels written every year covering every genre imaginable and choosing the seven best ones is not an easy task.  However, there are several books which really stand out, stories which have been read many times by different generations and will become a part of history:

           1.    The Lord of the Rings – by J. R. R. Tolkein

The story was originally written over fifty years ago and has attracted a cult following since its inception. More recently it has been portrayed in a film and has attracted a whole new generation of followers. The book follows a young hobbit called Frodo and his perilous quest to destroy a ring of immense power, simply to prevent it from following into the Dark Lord’s hands. The journey across Middle Earth is fraught with danger and is only made possible with the help of a few close friends.


       
           2.     Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – by Lewis Carroll

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is well known today despite having been written one hundred and fifty years ago! The story follows a young girl who is tired of sitting on the river bank with her sister doing nothing.  This leads to an amazing adventure where she both becomes tiny and giant – all whilst attempting to free the topsy-turvy land she has stumbled across from tyranny.  Much of the wording is nonsensical and this is part of its appeal – to all generations.

           3.     The War of The Worlds – by H.G. Wells

This story was first written in 1898 and deals with an alien invasion. The aliens target England and the story is narrated from the point of view of an unnamed person and his younger brother. The War of The Worlds covers the battle between humanity and malevolent extra-terrestrials and the destruction to the English countryside whilst the two brothers attempt to avoid the aliens and return to their families. It is one of the earliest writings on conflict between humans and other life forms and is seen as a cult classic. It has been converted into a film on several occasions and the book has never been out of print.

           4.     Dracula by Bram Stoker

Dracula is the story that introduced the infamous vampire, Count Dracula to the world. It tells the tale of his attempt to move from Transylvania to England in a bid to find new blood and spread the curse of the undead. His attempts are restricted and he ultimately perishes. The Dracula novel by Bram Stoker is seen as the definition of a modern vampire and the principles applied at the time of writing are still adhered to today.




           5.     A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

A Game of Thrones was originally written in 1996 and was set in a fantasy world known as Westeros where winter’s can last a lifetime and summers just moments. This is the result of a supernatural event. The story is full of characters and each one of them is dealing with their own problems, every character has their own take on what is morally acceptable. It makes for a dark and dangerous world which has an impressive amount of similarity to everyday life. All of these stories are entwined in and around the fate of the Stark family; who are fighting for their survival.


          6.     1984 by George Orwell

The book Ninety Eighty Four was written in 1948 and portrays a future of complete control. Thought police are able to spy upon every person, their conversations and even to watch their every move. All citizens are expected to report those who do not conform to the views of the current political party. The story covers the attempts of its main character, Winston, to bring down the established government by creating a journal which summarizes the truth, including the past which has been rewritten many times. Ultimately the attempt fails and Winston embraces the established regime. Many parallels have been drawn between this novel and the world today!

                 
         7.     The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham

This was the first book published under John Wyndham’s own name, the many books written before had been published under a variety of pen names. It was originally written in 1951 although there have been several adaption’s since. It has also been converted into a radio series, TV series and even a film. The story was written at a time when chemicals were first being used in abundance on crops and there were serious concerns over the potential side effects. It covers the convalescence of a biologist who works with triffids; huge, carnivorous plants from which humans can extract oils far superior to those from fish or vegetables. 

Unfortunately the triffids are a result of biological experimentation and the majority of people on earth have been left blinded by the light emitted from the triffids. The story then covers the attempt to reclaim the Earth. The Day of the Triffids is still critically acclaimed today and many of its views on human nature still apply today.



By Jason Phillips and LoveReading.co.uk!



Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Can the Words of a Psychic Influence your thoughts? Your Choices? Your Destiny?


Everyone has seen a psychic... Right? Maybe as fun or a dare from a friend, or you desperately needed to know what to do after a breakup, or you wanted to connect with a love one that had passed away. Whatever your reason, the words that psychic said somehow seeped into your being; the words are forever etched into your mind. In psychology realms, this is called 'imprinting' and 'Phase Sensitive Learning,' meaning that when you see a psychic, you are vulnerable to their words and ideas.

So what happens if you are in a situation or event you think the psychic has described? Do the words of that psychic change your way of thinking? Alternatively, is it entirely possible that a psychic could actually see the future? This opens a can of worms for the sceptics among us, of which I am not one.  I believe there are good and bad psychics, just like mechanics, hairdressers or tradespeople; there are ones that can actually do what they say and others that will just rob you blind. 

So how do you know a good psychic? This is the million-dollar question and there are many different theories on how to tell. Psychics work with energy; just like when you meet someone you have an instant connection and other times you have an instant dislike, I believe this is the same for psychics. Some get readings stronger than others and some are actually able to delve deeper. From my experiences with psychics, I have found you cannot live your life by their words. I like to think of myself as an intelligent, articulate woman, but over the years, I have found myself falling back to the 'OMG that is what the psychic said!' moment. When I was 21, I was in the process of being divorced and had an almost 2-year-old from that relationship. Like many other women and men that I have spoken to over the years, I searched for answers to find myself at a psychic.

After several different readings from completely different psychics, I found myself following a similar path. Each and every psychic told me to write and I have always written down thoughts and feelings, just to help me process how I was feeling inside; it became my way of letting go. Both John Edward and Lisa Williams told me I had a book inside me that I needed to write, and most have told me about my own green-eyed man. So how do you let go of a man you have never met? He holds a special place in your heart, because every psychic you have ever seen has said he exists, he is real. For me, it was to bring him to life. My book Can't Fight Fate, while entirely fictional, has been written around my own psychic readings and experiences. While some details were changed to suit the story, others were included verbatim.

This brings me back to the question, 'Can the words of a psychic influence your thoughts? Your choices? Your destiny?' For me, the answer is definitely yes. I have numerous times changed my thoughts from the guidance of a psychic, and I must say mostly for the better. What I have also discovered over the years is that if those ideas or words were not originally something I wanted to achieve or something that resonated with me, I would not think twice about them. I also found the psychics opened up possibilities for me I would never have dreamed of by myself. The psychics enabled me to believe in me.

In writing Can't Fight Fate, I was able to enjoy the journey and meet the green-eyed man who I have only ever dreamt of meeting; in my book, he is now alive.


Lisa N. Edwards is a graduate of NIDA (National Institute of Dramatic Art) in Sydney, Australia, after which she was trained at The Film Space. She and her youngest daughter, Darcie, were featured in a series of Coles TV Commercials—‘Feed your Family for $10 with Curtis Stone’ and Coles Home Brand. Lisa’s latest credits include soon-to-be-released Aussie comedy ‘Now Add Honey’ and two Award-Winning Hollywood Short films, 'Riviera' and 'The Road Less Traveled.' A large portion of Lisa's working life was spent as a Talent Agent with VisionsMCP in Melbourne, of which she was the owner and Company Director for 13 years. 

For more information please visit http://www.lisanedwards.comhttp://www.cantfightfate.com or on FacebookLinkedInTwitter or YouTube.  

Can't Fight Fate will be available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and http://www.lisanedwards.com



Thursday, August 13, 2015

Guest Post by Spencer Blohm - Ray Bradbury: Still Alive Through The Whispers


ABC's The Whispers has been mesmerizing viewers all summer long. While the first season is almost over now’s as good of a time as any to reflect on the man who made the series possible; Ray Bradbury. Those who haven’t caught up on the series yet but want to, and have a high speed internet connection, can instantly stream all episodes via ABC Go. Obviously if you’re not caught up this article will contain some spoilers.

It’s not commonly known that The Whispers is based on a Bradbury short story called Zero Hour. This only speaks to the timelessness of Bradbury’s work and the themes he examined in it. Of course, Bradbury aficionados know this is far from the first time his work has been adapted by Hollywood, he even worked as a screenwriter for a while, but it does mark one of the most high profile adaptations of his. So, let’s take a look at the series and the work that inspired it.

In 1951, the Red Scare was in full force and Americans were being fed fear propaganda on a regular basis. During this time, Americans became paranoid and suspicious. Rumors spread about the Russians using mind control techniques to turn Americans against their own country. We were a country in fear.

It is this fear the Bradbury tapped into when writing Zero Hour. The story is told from a suburban mother's point of view. Mrs. Morris is a typical 1950s mother and her daughter Mink is a typical child. Her and her friends like to play games and have come up with one called 'Invasion.' The children all play this game with an imaginary friend named Drill. Of course, this is nothing more than child's play, so Mrs. Morris never gives it a second thought. Until the alien invasion actually starts. That is the end of the story. Bradbury never elaborates on the actual invasion. Simply throws it at you and leaves it hanging there.

Told through the guise of a science fiction story, Zero Hour seemed to really be honed into our collective psyche of the time. When your neighbor can be a secret Communist spy being controlled through mind control, it can be easy to get caught up and ignore what is right in front of you.

The Whispers follows the same general premise, but with expanded ideas and themes. Instead of Mrs. Morris, we have an FBI agent and mother who has been tracking this strange trend across the country. The children are still playing 'Invasion' with their friend Drill, but no more is this just a local incident. This adds a sense of urgency that is not present in the source material.

The biggest change may be the alien invasion itself. Where Bradbury ends, The Whispers may continue. It would seem odd to simply stop at the invasion in today's monster driven world, and knowing that Steven Spielberg is involved lends to the theory that the show will continue past the invasion point.

One thing that is kept from the original tale is the collective fear we all feel. Today, our monsters don’t come in the form of foreign armies or mind control techniques. Our collective fear comes from the acts of terrorism and violence taking place all over the world, and as evidenced by recent events, young people may be influenced by them and the dark forces behind them. Producer Zack Estrin wanted to focus on that out of control feeling parents have in regards to their children and the internet, saying he wanted the series to pose the question “What if someone is influencing your child and it’s not you”. Due to the almost rampant shootings and home grown terrorists attacking common civilians around the world, the fact that at any time, a mass killing could happen keeps many people locked in a state of fear similar to the Red Scare. We are still wondering about our neighbor and what he is doing behind closed doors.

Ray Bradbury knew that these kind of actions from other humans was far scarier than any monster he could ever dream up. This is why his science fiction stories often dealt less with science and more with the human psyche. The darkness each man possesses inside him is the scariest thing Bradbury had ever seen, and that is what he wrote about. While not a scene for scene filming of the Ray Bradbury classic, The Whispers is shaping up to be just as suspenseful and relevant as Zero Hour was in 1951.

The Whispers is currently airing on ABC with the first season set to wrap up on August 31. The series stars Lily Rabe, Barry Sloane, and Milo Ventimiglia.



Spencer Blohm is a freelance entertainment, culture, and lifestyle blogger. He lives and works in Chicago. When not working he can be found camped out in his apartment watching the latest films and newest television shows.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Guest Post by Graham J. Wood - Zein: The Homecoming.

Even in my early life, I was captivated by different worlds and events you could not explain. 
When I decided to write my Zein trilogy starting with Zein: The Prophecy, and recently Zein: The Homecoming about an alien race that lives in the skies above us, I just let my imagination run riot. It is hard to explain how liberating this is. Almost no boundaries. The constraints I imposed on myself were mainly to bring an element of reality to the extraordinary new world that was flowing from my fingers on the keyboard. It is therefore little surprise that some of the main characters are ‘normal’ people who you would not expect to be the driving force against the evil facing us.
My job negotiating contracts across the world brings me in contact with numerous cultures and behaviours and provides a richness, I hope, to the character development. It also means that the love I have of watching peoples characteristics, the hidden (they think) nervousness, the passion and determination helps me develop the interplay between my characters, not only female to male but to how all individuals relate to each other. My anti-hero, Tyson who is always fighting his internal battles with the fate of his friends usually resting in his hands is a case in hand.
All I can promise you is when you read my stories the pace is unrelenting, the characters come to live in front of your eyes and the battle between good and evil is never an easy one. 

Follow the exploits of a small band of humans and persecuted aliens, the latter very much like us but who have a strange array of magics, who fight back against incredible odds. Enjoy…
Bio:
Graham Wood was born and raised in Manchester, England and today lives in Timperley, Altrincham, England. He works freelance, coordinating large global outsourcing contracts. 

Zein: The Homecoming 
By Graham J. Wood

PRESS RELEASE:
The second novel in epic sci-fi trilogy in which a lost planet’s hope and the lives of many rests on the actions of the brave few who faced and beat adversity on Earth, not knowing a secretive evil sect undermines all.

After the climactic Battle of the Southern Palace in Book 1 of the Zein series, the humans have begun to accept the Zeinonian race into their lives and a calm has fallen over the world. Kabel, the alien prince, is made Lord Chancellor and his people begin to apply their advanced technology and knowledge on advancing Earth’s farming, medicine and mining, the latter required to build up major stocks of the powerful raw material, zinithium. Leaving the integration of the two different cultures to others, Kabel leads a joint Human and Zeinonian Expeditionary Force to search for his people’s home planet, Zein. His companions include his half-brother, Tyson, who is increasingly struggling to contain the magics conflicting with his human DNA. Reaching Zein, they find the survivors are attempting to wipe out an indigent but ferocious animal race, the Pod. Kabel and the Expeditionary Force find themselves caught in the combat as the Pod fight back, leading to Tyson’s capture by the animals. Zylar, Kabel’s uncle, is back and building his zombie army on a nearby planet where Tyson’s mother and Kabel’s sister are imprisoned. Kabel and Tyson will use all of their strength to try to defeat the Pod and do battle with Zylar again.

Back on Earth, the Cabal, led by a shadowy figure called the Speaker, have already begun plotting to turn the humans against the Zeinonians once again. Driven by greed and a hatred for the aliens, the group infiltrates the United Nations and stages a vote for martial law to quell riots on Earth, placing the Zeinonians under curfew and jeopardizing the short-lived peace in the process.

Zein: The Homecoming is the second chapter in author Graham Wood’s fast-paced sci-fi trilogy charting an epic battle between good and evil, continuing its exploration of the themes of friendship, optimism and adversity that will resonate with audiences young and old alike. Wood was inspired to fulfill a dream held since he was 15 of being a novelist and write the Zein trilogy after his daughter, Becky, underwent open-heart surgery at only 14. It was at her bedside as she recovered that he began formulating the story in order to take his mind off her suffering. Book 1 sales have raised $3,000 for Alder Hey Children’s Hospital and the Ronald McDonald House after they were instrumental in helping Wood’s family. Further donations will be forthcoming.

Twitter:  ZeintheBook



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