Friday 29 March 2019

This draft is done!

That's right. After five weeks of stop-start on this demonic WIP, it's finally done. Yay.

It feels really good to get this story completely out of my head because I've been carrying it with me for quite some time. And the way I tackled this draft was so different to the way I usually write that I came close to putting it aside several times. I'm glad I didn't.

I might have started slow, got distracted by real life stuff, and even put it aside for a bit so I could write + revise a short story that came out of nowhere. I also didn't know how long it would be because the initial idea started as a novelette. 

Still, I kept going. Didn't stop adding words, taking notes, thinking about it, and let things build up in my head until I hit my stride and got stuck into it mid-month. After that, I was hooked and the story took a life of its own. Which is when I totally lost myself in the wicked demonic happenings.

Anyway, here's this week's word count:

Monday: 42,545 (4363w)
Tuesday: 45,770 (3225w)
Wednesday: 50,378 (4,608w)
Thursday: 55,725 (5347w)
Friday: 57,427 (1,702w)

And you know what? The first draft is DONE! Well, I actually reached The End yesterday but I wanted to re-read the last three chapters again because when I wrote them, I got lost in a word frenzy and needed to add a few extra details.

I'm SO excited about this story because it ended up becoming a much deeper plot than I originally dreamed up. There are more problems, the horror is creepier, the characters more complex and the ending. Wow, it surprised me so much I didn't know the story was going end how it did. I kid you not!

I didn't see THAT coming, but it explains so much. 😬

Of course, now that I'm done, I've already started a Revision List. There are quite a few things I need to add to enhance and deepen the plot, etc. 

Actually, now that I'm done and the word count is so close to 60k, when I get stuck into the revision process I reckon the word count might end up in the 70k+ words.

The other thing I did was read PET SEMATARY. I remember watching the movie when I was a kid, and the book got lost in my bookshelf. Now that the new version of the movie is coming out, I wanted to read it before watching. And OMG, this book was heartbreaking and creepy and I LOVED it.

Also, we might have watched CAPTAIN MARVEL again. That makes THREE times and I'm still utterly in love with it. Tomorrow, we're going to watch US.

That's it for now, I suppose. This week's to-do list included finishing my WIP and reading a book. So, I achieved those two goals. 😊

Hope you have a great weekend! 

Thursday 28 March 2019

PET SEMATARY by Stephen King

Pet Sematary
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is one of those Stephen King books that I've had on my bookshelf for years but haven't read because it got lost in my bookshelf. Not to mention that it was one where the movie took over and I just never got back to the book.

Well, this year I decided that before going to see the new movie version, I wanted to make sure I'd finally read the book.

When Louis and Rachel Creed move into a lovely big house in the small town of Ludlow, they're excited about starting a new life with their kids and cat. Louis has got himself a gig as head doctor in the local university infirmary. He's excited about the challenge, and when he meets the charming old neighbour across the road, Jud Crandall, he makes an instant friend.

But Ludlow has its secrets, and after Jud shows the family the local pet cemetery, nothing is ever the same.

On the first day of school, a shocking accident leaves a student with a crushed skull. As the days go by Jud's wife gets sicker. The family cat has an accident. And Jud introduces Louis to a terrible dark and mysterious place that will change the Creed family forever...

After I finished this fantastic book, one word came to mind. And that was: WOW! I mean, I knew this book would be an excellent, creepy read but I didn't expect the multitude of layers. Then again, it is a King book and I am a Constant Reader, so why was I surprised?

On the surface, Pet Sematary is a horror story with plenty of freaky supernatural stuff. There's a creepy indian burial ground, some dark mythology about the wendigo, ghosts with messages, and a lot of scenes that keep the reader on the edge of their seat. But there's so much more.

At the core of the story is the Creed family. A husband and wife who got married against the wishes of her father. Louis is a man who likes his job and is good at it, but most of all he wants to take care of his family and keep them safe. He also doesn't want to lie to them about the facts of life and death--something his wife does. But Rachel's got good reason to fear death because what happened to her sister when she was a kid scarred her for life and caused her to fear death.

My god, the story Rachel tells about her sick sister Zelda was creepy as hell. It gave me goose bumps because it was so messed up and sounded so much like a possession.

And that's another awesome thing about this book, how easily true life horrors--disease, accidents, aging, traffic--are mixed together with the supernatural--ghost messages, premonitions, ressurections. It all blends and blurs, becomes one ugly and terrifying mess that hooked its claws into me and consumed my mind until all I wanted to do was keep reading. But I resisted, paced myself by only reading at the end of the day to get the full extent of the story.

This book is amazing.

Not only is it so well written it was a pleasure to read, but the characters were all good, bad and everything in-between. Just like real people. And that's one thing King excels at--writing characters who feel real, who are real because they could be. He presents real world problems--a man so consumed by grief he decides to challenge the rules of life and death--and when he does, makes everything SO much worse. But sorrow pushes him over the edge of madness, dragging him deeper.

Even the kids are portrayed in an honest and real way. Gage, with his innocence, curiosity and vulnerability because he's a toddler. Ellie, with her deep questions, stunning intuition and ability to see beyond. Hell, even the dangerous road between the Creed and Crandall house is a character in its own right. A line of bitumen that could strip your life at any time because trucks are always hungry and seem to appear out of nowhere.

And that ending was perfect. The book couldn't have ended any other way.

I loved this book SO MUCH, I could rave on and on about it for hours, but I won't. The last thing I'll say is that if you're looking for a creepy book that'll scare you, this is certainly it. But more than that, this is a beautiful and utterly heartbreaking story about love, loss and madness.

Thursday 21 March 2019

Busy Week Writing

Last week I spoke a bit about the story behind my current WIP. And this week I added quite a few new words to my demonic terror. A lot more than I expected, but the story's really speaking to me now. 

So much that the chapter notes I wrote last week no longer matter. They're not relevant. Sometimes, I don't know why I bother. LOL. But that's fine, because the new direction is SO MUCH better. Brutal, even. Some (unexpected) drastic stuff happened to one of the characters. Things I didn't want to inflict because I felt bad, but in the end, these things HAD to happen.

Sometimes, you just gotta put your characters through some heavy stuff. Sometimes, the only way forward is through some dreadful crap.

There's plenty of creepy stuff happening all round. So much that I keep losing myself during each session. Time slips away quickly. In a good way, because when I lose myself to the story like this, it means I'm really feeling it.

Here's this week's word count:
  • Monday:. 24,228 (3,639w)
  • Tuesday:  28,314 (4,086w)
  • Wednesday: 32,504 (4,190w)
  • Thursday: 35,020 (2,516w) 
  • Friday: 38,182 (3,162w)

Not bad, right? I cruised past the 100-page mark today, which is really cool.

I've actually passed the total word count I initially expected this story to be (10-20k). I'm still in novella-size territory, but I'm not sure where it'll end up. Can't be 40k, since I'm pretty close to that total and there's no way I'm going to reach the conclusion by then. Maybe 50k? Could be, but I'm not sure.

It doesn't matter how many words it takes to reach the end of this draft. As long as I get the story completely out of my head and told in the way it deserves.

This story might have started out a bit cautiously, slow even... but I'm totally committed now. 😄

Asides from all this writing and thinking about the story, hubby & I went out on several dinner dates this week before our daughter got back from her 2-week holiday. She went to Canada for a bit and really enjoyed herself.

Well, that's about it for now. The only thing I didn't do enough was reading. Gotta get back into the swing of reading.

Tomorrow we've got to go out and vote. It's NSW election time and I hope the current government gets booted because they're fucking hopeless. And after that, we're going to watch CAPTAIN MARVEL for the third time. Hey, our daughter hasn't seen it yet. 😁  

Have a great weekend!

Monday 18 March 2019

CALL DROPS by John F Leonard

Call Drops: A Horror Story
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I've had this on my Paperwhite for a while, so I decided to start it this morning... and finished it a few hours later because I just had to know where it was going.

Vincent Preece is a rich man who made his money during the beginning of the telecommunication era, just before the rise of the mobile phone. He's a lonely man, but lives in the big house he used to share with his wife and daughter. He also loves to check out second-hand stores. Although, according to him, they're getting too clean and mainstream. Car boot sales are okay, and that's where he finds his latest toy--an immaculate, one of a kind phone he's never seen before.

The phone isn't charged and isn't even supposed to work, so when it rings he doesn't know what to do. Except, of course, there's only one thing to do: answer it...

OMG. This story certainly hooked me in. What starts out as a boring and very jaded older man judging everyone and everything, soon becomes the very intriguing story of a mobile phone that rings when it wants, and gives Vincent insight that leads him to some pretty horrific discoveries.

There's a taxidermy scene that was gross as hell. And sad, too. There's also an air of creepiness hanging over the whole story. But it's not until the last half of the book that everything suddenly becomes crystal clear and the seemingly mundane comments he makes throughout the story about his business ventures and marriage become so much more.

This story just got darker and darker. By the time this character's true nature unravels, every awful clue comes together and makes perfect sinister sense. 😳

Yeah, I really enjoyed this! I quite enjoy unreliable narrators, and they don't get less reliable than this guy.

This story turned out to be a disturbing mystery, wrapped in some horrid horror, with a gruesome filling. Definitely worth checking out.

Saturday 16 March 2019

WAGON BUDDY by Steve Stred

Wagon Buddy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This afternoon while sorting the awesome books on my Paperwhite, I opened this one. I started reading... and finished it in one sitting.

Scott is a lonely boy with a father who abandons the family, and a mother who turns to drinking. So when a creature appears in his yard and offers to play with him, Scott can't believe he's finally got a friend. Sure, it might be a hideous rotting monster, but at least his Wagon Buddy looks out for him.

This comes in handy when the bullying starts at school. Actually, the bullying continues through much of his life, and having a powerful creature on his side comes in handy. Until the day he's arrested...

I really enjoyed this dark novella about a victim of bullying so serious it messes up his life and chases him into the future.

Essentially, Wagon Buddy is a horror story. It features a horrifying creature capable of tearing people apart. It's spooky and there's quite a bit of violence, but it's also a very sad story about a boy who can't escape the physical scars of bullying. What these awful and disgusting kids do to Scott is appalling and cruel. They don't just call him names and push him around, they actually bash and drug him. Hurt him so badly he ends up with broken bones and so much more.

The only problem is that this poor character's bullying doesn't end after his teens. It continues into his adult life, and is so terrible that I liked the bloodthirsty creature and despised the people. This says a lot about how well the story was told, because my sympathy for Scott builds and builds until I was cheering the Wagon Buddy's vengeful ways.

Scott's story is a horror tale that echoes real life. I felt so bad for him. :(

I also liked how the story unfolds during a police interrogation. This way it goes back and forward, filling in the blanks presented at the beginning and eventually connecting to reach a very satisfying end.

The only negative thing I found were a few typos and spots that could've been tightened. But I was so engrossed in the story that it didn't get in the way of my enjoyment.

If you're in the mood for an interesting and heartbreaking story with a good dose of gore, check it out!

Friday 15 March 2019

WIP Thoughts

This week I'm going to talk about the state of my WIPs. 

Not just because my head's been buzzing with stuff, but because I've been juggling and brainstorming and writing a bunch of different stories at the same time. There are several characters trying to grab my attention, but I finally feel like I might have found some kind of balance. Maybe. 😁

The story I'm working on is a (possible) novella-sized story about an unstable mother-daughter relationship further complicated by a demonic presence. It's actually a WIP I started last month. One that started at a much slower pace than usual after I handwrote the beginning in a notebook. By the time I'd typed up the first two chapters, I'd lost some of the momentum. Then some real life crap got in the way and I got a bad case of distracted brain.

Still, I continued to add words. It became a sporadic affair, made even harder when I was consumed by a short story featuring one of my old characters. A shortie prequel I wrote during a weekend in February, and then spent the following week revising. Actually, I got so caught up in it, I couldn't move on until it was polished. And subbed.🤞🏻

And that's when I went back to my demonic WIP. But even then, I wasn't adding as many words as usual. I just wasn't as involved as I wanted to be. Getting an unexpected idea got in the way! Well, it was initially a dream I carried around in my head for a week, before realising it could totally be a story.

Yeah, another horror story idea to add to the mix.

So I took some notes, put a file together and started adding inspirational pics, cast the characters and even gave them names. And it wasn't until I got this done that I finally returned to the ol' demonic idea. And really got stuck into it.

This has been the most constant week yet. I've added words every single day and surprises keep popping up all over the place. So I've finally found my groove. Without a hundred other things trying to get in the way to crowd my headspace, I was able to finally focus and keep a steady pace of new words going.

And you know what? It feels really good. During the last few weeks I let the interruptions convince me that the story might be the problem. That it wasn't as ready as I thought, that I couldn't get into it because I wasn't ready... but nope. The story was never the problem. 

The problem was mind clutter. Sometimes I let too many things get in the way, so I was glad I stuck with the story. Any progress is good progress.

I still have no clue how long this tale of mayhem is going to be, but I'll keep going until I reach the end of the draft.

Every project is different, and the process continues to evolve. I'm glad I kept going no matter what because after adding words all week, today I passed the 20k mark. Yay.

And not just that, but for the first time since I started this story there are so many new ideas and paths ahead. I can clearly see where I'm headed and am super excited about it. Also, everything took a creepier turn than expected. Even the family drama has been amped up.

*rubs hands together*

Well, there you go. These are some of the thoughts circling around inside my head at the moment. 😁

Have a nice weekend!

Tuesday 12 March 2019

HANNAH-BEAST by Jennifer McMahon

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the second Dark Corners Collection story I've read, and the first by this author.

It's Halloween and Amanda's daughter dresses up as Hannah-Beast. An awful urban legend that's haunted the town since Amanda was a kid. She makes her daughter change, but the dark memories from her past aren't as easy to deal with.

Amanda knows all about the Hannah-Beast legend because she was there. She knew Hannah, and her stupidity and silence helped create a tragic turn of events that stained the town for years to come...

Wow. I really enjoyed this one! It's creepy, sets the tone for some bad shit to surface, and then delivers a shocking ending that wasn't a surprise but still hits you hard when you get there. It's dark, man.

You know how in all mean girl groups there's that one girl who is a little different? The one who actually has a heart and cares about more than just belonging to a group? But when it comes down to it, she swallows her pride and keeps quite? Yeah. That's Amanda. She was that girl, and because of her asshole friends an innocent young girl died. And was blamed for a crime she didn't commit.

This is why Amanda hates Halloween, but no matter how much she tries, October 31st arrives every year. It haunts her to the point of hallucinations, or maybe Hannah-Beast is really behind her. The way this story is written, it's not hard to believe both are happening.

I also liked how the present was balanced out by the events of 1982. I felt so bad for poor Hannah. Mean kids are the worst.

Now I'm looking forward to the other shorties in this series AND more books by this author.

Monday 11 March 2019

March into another month...

Can you believe a new month is here? Yikes.

March means that summer is over and autumn is here. Well, technically that's what's supposed to happen. But thanks to an awful thing called climate change, the seasons are all over the place. I mean, the last week of Feb was coldish, and so far the temp in March has been very summerish.

Weird, but at least daylight savings won't be over until next month. o.O

So, the last time I posted an update was several weeks ago and I've been busy doing stuff. As well as dealing with teen attitude (along with stupid decisions), and putting up with obnoxious neighbours doing noisy/smelly renovations at all hours. Ugh.

I lost quite a few days to distracted brain and not being able to focus. But last week was different. I found my focus again. Actually, most of the week was full of thinking, taking notes and inspiration. I even came up with a new idea that I'm super excited about.

Oh, plus I finished that little Sierra Fox prequel story I wrote one Saturday last month. I got so caught up in it, that I finished three drafts and the read-thru on my Paperwhite pretty quickly. Actually, I even subbed it to an anthology. It's a longshot--of course it is--but I still took the plunge. :)

The most exciting thing is that so far this year, I've already finished two projects:
  • Novelette about werewolves (11,503w)
  • Short story about ghosts (3,997 w) 

Not bad! Now I'm turning my attention to a novella about the demonic. While taking notes for an UF novel. And brainstorming a new slasher idea.

Yeah, my head is crowded. But at the same time, I'm so inspired that I'm bursting with ideas and snippets and scenes. 

We haven't watched any TV shows for a while, but we did go to watch CAPTAIN MARVEL. And OMFG, I LOVED IT! It's such a perfect addition to the MCU. I also thought it was clever, full of excellent spacey goodness, great Easter eggs and very cool twists. Plus, the 90s soundtrack matched the story perfectly.

The Stan Lee tribute was beautifully sad. :,(

Also, Brie Larson totally rocked this role. Don't listen to the idiots who are so sexist they can't accept an awesome actress playing an awesome superhero just because they feel threatened by their inadequacy.

That's about it, I guess. I've been busy doing stuff and hope to achieve more this week.

Have a good one!

PS. That comment about not watching any shows during the last few weeks is true. But last night, we finally started AMERICAN GODS. 

Thursday 7 March 2019

THE GOOD GIRL by Mary Kubica

The Good Girl
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I've had this book on my Kindle for a very long time. While sorting my bookshelves during the weekend, I started reading and couldn't put it down.

Mia Dennett is the daughter of a judge in Chicago. A man who cares only about reputation. He married a trophy wife, his eldest became a lawyer, but the youngest disappointed him because she's an artist who also teaches.

When Mia goes missing, her mother Eve is devastated and starts to question her shortcomings as a mother. She also resents becoming a silent partner in her marriage to an overbearing man. All she wants is to find Mia, and with Detective Gabe Hoffman by her side, they just might...

I really enjoyed this book! It's sold as a thriller, which really isn't accurate. I mean, there are a bunch of psychological thriller traits throughout, but mostly it's a mystery full of family drama--from all angles.

An estranged daughter goes missing. The father doesn't give a shit. The mother breaks because of it. The sister is too obnoxious to care. The detective assigned to the case gets a bit too involved. And the circumstances behind her kidnapping are dubious.

The story is told in the Before and After POVs of Eve, Gabe and Colin. Each adds a new layer to the overall story, while bridging together the past and the present to fill in the blanks. I found each POV interesting, as the main characters go through their own personal transition.

Eve's story was interesting and what happens to her daughter actually helps her confront the problems in her own life.

Colin's story is filled with violin moments dripping with self-pity. I didn't like him one bit. He's a douche who wants to make quick money and pretends it's all for his sick mother, but he's just a criminal. An asshole who decides to kidnap a girl so someone else doesn't, just because she's pretty. I mean, seriously. Let's not kid ourselves, it's why he does everything.

Mia is another character I didn't like. Even though she's the supposed victim, it wasn't hard to dislike her. She's too self-involved and falls for her kidnapper too easily. Seems like she's been treated so badly by men--her dad and boyfriend--that the simple act of not shooting her in the head is enough for her to relax. o.O Yeah, not so bright. Though she is conniving.

My favourite character was actually Gabe Hoffman. I liked his easy manner, his determination to solve the case, and his kindness. What he does for Colin's mother, how he gets close to Eve because of her grief and loneliness. He's a nice guy without having to advertise the fact.

I love solving mysteries, so I have to admit that I worked out the big twist at the end. Still, the getting there was a surprise, and I didn't guess where Colin ends up.

Another thing that I liked was the writing style. It was smooth and to the point, revealed as much as it had to when it was absolutely necessary. Even with having to juggle all the different POVs and multiple timelines, everything fit. And I thought the pacing was good, too. This isn't an action-packed story, it moves to a different beat.

I'm looking forward to reading more from this author.

Sunday 3 March 2019


The Sleep Tight Motel (Dark Corners Collection)
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When I found out I could borrow the Dark Corners Collection because we have Amazon Prime, I grabbed this short stories first.

Eve is on the run. She has a stolen ID, a gun, a few bags and a crappy Mustang. She's also trying to outrun her abusive and violent boyfriend.

When she stumbles upon a quiet motel and meets Drew, the kind and helpful manager, she decides to stay the night. But the sounds of violence coming from the empty room next to hers keeps her up, and her car won't start, but she has to keep running before Erik finds her...

Wow. This was quite a story! It's not very long. I read it in one sitting, and I think that's the best way to read this. The way everything unfolds, how the tension builds, the way time isn't linear, and the big reveal at the end are best experienced all at once.

I loved how well this story was written, how clever it was. I really liked Eve. Even though it was clear she was hiding plenty from the very beginning, I saw her as the victim all the way through. She was a sad testament in how easily it can be for someone--especially women--to get caught in a predator's web. To allow him completely into her life even though she'd seen the warning signs too many times.

It was heartbreaking, and eerie. The setting was perfect, suited the atmosphere and when everything becomes apparent, all the clues snap into place. Of course they do!

I loved this. Such a beautiful but sad story of broken trust and toxic love.

Friday 1 March 2019

AN ARMY OF SKIN by Morgan K Tanner

After losing his mother to a brain tumour, Trevor King feels totally alone in the world. Someone needs to pay for her death and Dr Mellick, Trevor's work colleague and family GP, is the man he holds responsible. Trevor's yearning for vengeance leads him to concoct a vicious plot to frame the doctor for multiple murders. Trevor skins the corpses, turning them into elaborate art pieces after being inspired by a mysterious textbook. But as the skins of the flayed victims come to life and continue the killings for him, Trevor wonders whether he is in too deep.When Dr Mellick goes missing Trevor becomes convinced the doctor is planning a similar scheme to bring him down.But as Trevor discovers the truth of his mother's death and his own life, this murderous path becomes more of a calling.

I received an eARC of this novella from the author, and really didn't know much about the story. But the cover was cool and the blurb sounded interesting, so I gave it a go. 

Trevor King works in a doctor's surgery. It's where the man he hates the most also works. Actually, Dr. Mellick is the one who gave him the job. But Trevor doesn't feel an ounce of gratitude towards this man because Trevor blames his GP for his mother's painful death.

So he hatches a macabre plan to get revenge on Dr. Mellick. A sick plan that'll involve getting his hands dirty and very, very bloody. It might even force him to lose his mind along the way. Or find himself...

I really enjoyed this well-crafted novella. It's well written, visceral in its descriptions, full of surprises, and has a surreal, nightmarish feel that kept me wondering about what was real and what was delusion all the way through.

Add a narrator, who at first appears to be a misunderstood guy pushed into violence by circumstance and grief, but might be slowly deteriorating into a monster. Or he could be a delusional man who imagines some pretty wicked stuff. Maybe he's just a psycho killer?

Either way, he's obsessed. With the helpful doctor, with his dead mother, with the awful textbook full of gross artwork pieces made out of corpses. With pretty much everything.

Hell, he even becomes consumed with the skin bodies of his victims. Yeah, Trevor has a few issues and a bunch of problems, but his tale was so addictive I followed him all the way to the shocking end. 😲

An Army of Skin is brutal, bloody and totally twisted. Plus, it's a lot of gross fun! It didn't take long for this gory tale to quickly sink its claws into my skin (pardon the pun). I couldn't put it down. I really liked how everything escalated, the story pace and how it all turned out. Twisty turns are some of my favourite endings. Even if I really should've seen this one coming.

I was totally in the mood for a story like this. The violence is balanced out with the character's motivations. And his motivations definitely lead him down a one-way lane into madness.

Lastly, I'd like to thank the author for sending me a copy of this book!
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