Tag: Horror

Saturday Video: Advice for #Writers – Via Extra Credits’ Places of #Horror

Usually our Videos are from authors talking about their own writing tips and tricks. The writing has varied from science fiction and fantasy, to romance, to comics, but today, I thought it would be fantastic to hear from people whose interest is in writing related to games. This episode of Extra Credits does a wonderful job of exploring settings in horror. While their focus is on horror in gaming, the setting of tone and an understanding of our own fears is discussed and important information regardless of the medium in which you work.

Horror settings fall into two basic categories: places of disempowerment and places of isolation. Places of disempowerment – such as alien worlds and the bottom of the sea – force us into situations where we don’t understand the rules of our environment, and can never tell when our expectations will be suddenly reversed. Places of isolation, like remote cabins and arctic research stations, make sure we know that no one will help us: if we can’t find a way to survive, we will simply die. The inherent terror in these settings can be amplified by giving them a haunted past, such an ancient graveyard or an abandoned asylum, or by making the place itself possessed of malice and willpower that’s directed against those inside it. Finally, these settings can provide psychological landscapes that reflect someone’s inner struggles and fears directly back onto them.

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Horror Genres and Subgenres – Some fun relationships that #writers should know

Special thanks to Horror On Screen for posting this. It’s a fun way to explore the relationships between horror genres and subgenres, AND gives you a new list of fantastic movies to watch.
Horror_Genres

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“Undertaker’s Moon” by Ronald Kelly

Firstly, I would like to issue an apology to my readers as well as my fellow bloggers here at Unleaded. Normally, I post my book reviews at the beginning of the month. However, July has been a busy month. Crazy, in fact. I went on vacation with my family. I’ve had to travel for work. And I’ve been trying to crank out chapters for my writing group. With all that being said, not excuses, just saying things have been busy.

All these activities have also eaten into some of my reading time. But, I did manage to finish a book for this month. “Undertaker’s Moon” by Ronald Kelly has been on my Kindle for several months. I hesitated to use it for a book review because of my recent rut of reading horror books. I buckled because I enjoyed Kelly’s story so much.

“Undertaker’s Moon” has an interesting beginning in Ireland. Here we are introduced to Patrick and Mary O’Shea and their children. Patrick is the undertaker in this tale who moves his family and sire across the ocean to a small town in Tennessee. When the story picks up in the States, Patrick’s two children are now teenagers attending the local high school. Two local teens the O’Shea children meet in school, Brian Reece and Jake Preston, are the main protagonists.

Squire Crom McManus, the O’Shea’s sire, is the main antagonist in the story. He is an old and vicious werewolf. Kelly has created an engrossing lycanthrope mythology along with some unique characters. Kelly’s storytelling is an easy read. He artfully pulls the reader into the Southern culture of his small town and twists the reader’s imagination bringing his monsters to life.

Kelly’s descriptions of people, places, and monsters are prime examples of the “show don’t tell” rule. It was very easy to see this story unfold in my imagination as I read. This is most likely the first time I’ve admitted to something like this, but, “Undertaker’s Moon” actually inspired a couple of nightmares for me. A book has not evoked that reaction in me since I was a child. The seven foot tall werewolves bristling with jet black fur invaded my subconscious enough to stick around until bed time. I suppose for a horror writer, that’s probably one of the highest compliments they can receive.

All in all, I really liked “Undertaker’s Moon.” I give it five flags for being able to give me nightmares.

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“Dhampir” by Barb and J.C. Hendee

[Book Cover]I am normally reluctant to delve into yet another fantasy book which redefines the basic tenets of the fantasy genre. And when said book begins to encroach into another genre I become even more leery of investing my time. Finally, what that book is the beginning of a trilogy or longer series, that is usually the nail in the coffin for me (which I must confess is why I’ve never ready “The Wheel of Time” series).

Dhampir” by Barb and J.C. Hendee however is exactly one of these books. I picked up the book sometime in the past year at either a yard sale or a second hand book store. The cover intrigued me. A female fighter as the protagonist with a half-elf companion. I read the synopsis on the back of the paperback and I was hooked – “Magiere and her half-elf partner, Leesil, have the cleverest con in the land.”

I bought the book but did not pick it up until quite some time later. I was looking for something to read that was different from my recent reads as well as my recent book reviews. It has a couple of months since I reviewed a book with vampires in it, so I began to read “Dhampir.”

Let me say the Hendees have written quite the entertaining story. I did thoroughly enjoy it. I want to break the book down into the parts I described above which normally send me running from a new book. “Dhampir” is first and foremost a fantasy story. There are Elves, half-Elves, warlords, peasants, swords, and magic. The Elves are skilled in the ways of assassination of humans, there are no mages trying to push the boundaries of magic, and the heroine actually attempts a sword fight in a dress!

The genre which the Hendees bring into this fantasy world is horror. Some may argue that vampires are a basic part of the fantasy stable of monsters for the protagonist to fight. However, these vampires while monsters, have a rich back story and are likable as the heroes of their own history.

Finally, even though “Dhampir” is the first of “The Noble Dead” series, I felt the story was complete on its own. That’s not to say I do not feel compelled to pick up the other books in the series. The Hendees have created unique and engaging heroes in Magiere and Leesil. I do look forward to their further adventures as vampire hunters.

For those fans of strong female characters, definitely pick up this book. The writing was flowing and kept me turning pages. The plot was well put together. My only negative comment may be on the flashbacks of the vampires which reveals their history. It seemed a bit jarring at first, but the writing style quickly brought the reader into the story overcoming any issues.

I give “Dhampir” by Barb and J.C. Hendee four flags!

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“Tales From The Mist”

Cover for 'Tales From The Mist'Finally, it’s Halloween week, and my last installment of my October experimen of reviewing one horror book a week. It’s been hectic trying to get all the reviews in while battling real life, including tonight as I’m posting hoping the power doesn’t go out. But, it’s been incredibly fun!

This week’s book is another first for me here at Unleaded: an anthology. This book is called “Tales From The Mist.” The stories and authors are Wampus Cat by Scott Nicholson, The Consuming by Rhonda Hopkins, Addiction by Marty Young, The Messenger by Cate Dean, Jade O’Reilly & the Graveyard Shift by Tamara Ward, In A Beginning by Meredith Bond, Haste by Catie Rhodes, King of Rats by Gregory Carrico, To E. A. Poe by Mitzi Flyte, An Inconvenient Debt by Natalie G. Owens, Dead Lily Blooms by *lizzie starr, Beneath Still Waters by Stacey Joy Netzel.

I would like to very briefly address each of the stories and the entire collection as a whole. Starting with Wampus Cat by Scott Nicholson, this story struck a particular chord with me as I grew up in the Appalachian foothills. I had heard stories and legends of the Wampus Cats in the woods. Wampus Cats were stories told to frighten children, but in Nicholson’s story, that myth comes to life. Even though this is a short story contribution to an anthology, I felt it needed a bit more character development before the horror element is introduced. This is a tentative step into this horror collection.

Next is The Consuming by Rhonda Hopkins. This story left me wanting to know more about the characters. The main character drew me in and made me care about her, but the secondary characters needed a bit of work. Overall, the story was well done, enjoying, and a good story to get the flow moving with the anthology.

Addiction by Marty Young left me a bit confused. I was unsure if this story was a horror story or just an “Afterschool Special.” The characters were intriguing, but left me with a very flat impression of them. There are elements that are introduced late in the story that could have enriched it if they had been introduced earlier. There was promise here, but it fell a bit short. I felt that with the slow start of Wampus Cat, this story should have been placed either second in the collection, or near the end to gently ease the reader out of the book.

The Messenger by Cate Dean does a good job of character development within a very short span. The ending is a bit predictable, but the story is very entertaining and a good addition to the anthology. Dean mixes two different types of supernatural elements in a surprising way and it is done quite well. The Messenger is a good step toward the high point of the collection.

Tamara Ward‘s Jade O’Reilly & the Graveyard Shift is the first story of the anthology to strike a true chill. The stage is set in such a way that it would be easy to see this as a movie. I really want to learn more about the other Jade O’Reilly books after this story. It has the right elements set at the right pace to set up a good scare. Don’t read this one on a dark and stormy night. I feel this story is the pinnacle of the book, even though it is not the middle story.

In A Beginning by Meredith Bond goes way back to the roots of horror stories with a new take on Lilith, Adam’s first wife. Bond’s dialogue moves the story along and gives excellent insight into Lilith and the villain Samael. Through internal thoughts and monologue, Bond gives a great insight into Adam even though he does not make an appearance in the story. The story does give one pause when trusting a stranger. In A Beginning is a nice bridge across the middle of the anthology and keeps the overall flow moving.

Haste by Catie Rhodes is straight horror reminiscient of Tales from the Crypt. The descriptions are well done and the story is “short, sweet, and to the point.” Rhodes brings forth a pair of unique ghosts unlike any I’ve seen before. Rhodes has me intrigued to read more of her work. I feel this story was appropriately placed to continue to provide the reader with the momentum built from earlier stories.

King of Rats by Gregory Carrico is a unique story with unique characters. A traditional monster is present in a surface world overrun with vampires, but unlike one would expect. Each of the participants in this drama are well crafted and entertaining right down to the Rat King’s cockroach sidekick. Carrico’s tale is just light hearted enough to keep the tone light while maintaining darker elements.

To E. A. Poe by Mitzi Flyte pays homage to one of the masters. It borrows from Poe’s stories and is appropriately set in 1845. Flyte puts a story together that has a sense and texture that would make Poe proud. What horror anthology is complete without references to Poe. Flyte’s story is unique and puts the macabre into the book.

An Inconvenient Debt by Natalie G. Owens is the epitome of the Faustian bargain. In the short pages of the story, we see a deep glimpse into both the mother and son in this story. The villain as a demon running a witchcraft store is a bit trite, but it does not take away from a well done contribution to the anthology.

Dead Lily Blooms by *lizzie starr is a well thought out and well done twisted story. Lily is a character I would definitely like to see more of as well as starr’s version of Death and one of his soul gatherers, Agaar. There are hints at the back story for Lily and Agaar both that left me wanting more. This story is a reminder, don’t cross Death. A perfect tale to usher in the end of the book, starr’s story expertly complements the others assembled here.

Beneath Still Waters by Stacey Joy Netzel gives the feel of the Blair Witch and The Twilight Zone. Netzel’s story is well crafted and quickly develops the main characters. A couple of elements are predictable, but the story recovers and carries the reader along with the heroine and shows her the danger of not believing. Beneath Still Waters is the ideal tale to end this selection of stories.

Tales From The Mist is a fun read that is a good introduction to a group of writers that I encourage you to look further into their works. I give the collection 4 out of 5 flags.


Video Saturday (okay, it’s Sunday and I’m a bit late) – Advice to Writers from Stephen King

Going back through my list of authors included in Video Saturday, I was a bit shocked to discover that Stephen King was not on the list. Why is that surprising?  Because probably the book that has been the most helpful in providing me with the “oomph” to write is his, “On Writing.”  Note, I’m not saying that technically it was the most useful or that it held forth huge nuggets of wisdom but if there was ever any book that imbued in me the feeling of “rightness” about my work, then that was it.  There is also the personal connection that I was living alone in Washington, DC at the time and my girlfriend was till in Missouri.  This was the first book that we ever read together.  We’d read and then every night we’d talk about what we read.  As a result, I still have a very positive emotional reaction to it.

So, not to delay any longer, below is a very short video (and an old one) of Stephen King giving advice to writers.  His key point – you must be well-read.  Read a lot and write a lot.   And then because I couldn’t help myself and because I was looking for something a little more recent, I found a video of Stepehen King’s Afternoon in Savannah before the Savannah Book Fair.  The video/audio isn’t great but still understandable.  Note, the second one is 26 minutes long.

 

 

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