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Wednesday, 27 September 2023

This Novella is Done!

Hey, how are you today? What's new with you?

This week, I've been busy working on the final read-thru of my current revision project. That's when I sit down with my Paperwhite and read the story from start to finish. It's also when any weird sentences or  repetition really stands out. I get very focused on the nitty-gritty details and usually end up mentally exhausted by the end of the day. But it's SO worth it.

I ended up cutting quite a bit, then adding some back. There were a few things that needed to be tightened and had to match the previous story. But it's finished now! I wanted to get this draft done by the end of September and I did it. Yay. πŸ˜ƒ

The final word count is: 30,037.

I'm immensely proud of how this little dark tale turned out because when the idea initially came to me, during one of my afternoon walks, I pushed it away. Didn't want to waste time writing it. To be honest, I didn't think it was going to work. Yet, the characters wouldn't shut up and pieces of dialogue kept appearing out of nowhere. That's not even considering how vivid the imagery was... 

Anyway, I'm glad I gave in. And now it's finished before the long weekend.

I'm looking forward to spending three days with my husband. It's also daylight savings time. I can't wait for the longer days. It's really starting to feel like spring around here. When it doesn't feel like summer. Yeah, we had a few really hot days last week.

Well, that's it for now. I think it's time to enjoy the fact that another writing project is wrapped up. Instead of sitting on my hard drive for years. πŸ˜…

Have a nice day!

Thursday, 21 September 2023

THE FOLLY by Gemma Armor

 

The FollyThe Folly by Gemma Amor
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was lucky enough to get an eARC copy of this novella and couldn't wait to get stuck into it.

After being convicted for the murder of his wife, Morgan's father spent six years in jail. Now that he's been released, she's determined to help him get back into the swing of life outside of prison. It starts with selling their tainted house and heading to the coast to stay in The Folly. A place in a lovely but harsh setting that hopefully helps heal past wounds. But strange things happen almost instantly, and Morgan has to face a reality she's been trying very hard to avoid...

Wow. What an intriguing novella!

I was hooked on this story straight away. Morgan's tragic situation dragged me in as quickly as the strength of her voice. It doesn't take long to realise that although she shares so much, she's obviously holding back certain details. And I couldn't stop reading.

When the weird and super creepy stuff hit, I was riveted. Totally hooked on the events that turned everything upside down. Suddenly, nothing seemed normal anymore, or remotely okay, and I shared Morgan's confusion and suspicion.

This is the kind of tale that grips the reader so tightly, it refuses to let go. I wanted to speed through, to get to the nitty-gritty of the mystery at the heart of everything. At the same time, I wanted to take my time because I didn't want it to end.

I think the pacing is as perfect as the ominous shadow that seems to follow Morgan and Owen. No matter what's happening, the dread is always there, dripping from every page.

Another beautiful thing about this novella is the location. This coastal structure Morgan and her father are staying in seems to have a life of its own, is as cruel as the ocean always ready to steal away careless souls. Not to mention how well the pandemic fits in with everything that's going on.

The Folly is an amazing story that delves deep into the effects of close familial ties after a horrifying tragedy. It's about how the past is never really gone, and shows that secrets have a way of festering. Until one day, everyone has to face their greatest fears.

I really loved everything about this tale, and the ending was unexpected. In the best way possible.

Wednesday, 20 September 2023

Still Revising...

 

How are you today?

Well, it's spring in Australia, but you wouldn't know it because we've been having summer temps since the weekend! 😳

Whenever I hear someone trying to argue that climate change isn't a thing, I get so pissed off because the evidence is there every single fucking day.

Anyway, enough about what annoys me. That list keeps getting longer and longer.

This week I got stuck into the third draff of the novella I'm currently revising, and it's going very well.

After I finished the second draft last week, I started a pretty long and extensive list of changes and additions that I made before I even sat down to tackle the next draff. I wasn't surprised, though. This kind of thing always happens during my revision process. The deeper I get into the story, the more I analyse every detail. Not to mention how my subconscious works in the background and always decides to deliver these gems while I'm out for my daily walk.

I've mentioned this before, but going on long walks around the local river always fills me with inspiration. It's when I work through the kinks, or develop new ideas.

Actually, both of the unexpected novellas I wrote this year were a result of letting my imagination run wild while enjoying a lovely walk. 😊

During this stage I ended up cutting quite a bit. I also added new bits and pieces too, but the word count went down again.

New word count is: 30,483.

I'm really happy with the overall progress of this project. I'm also excited about this story being only one more step away from completion. Not bad for a story I didn't think would work, and I fought all the way. Even while writing it. 😁

Well, the novella is now sitting on my Paperwhite ready for one last read-thru. I always enjoy this final step because this is when everything looks different and anything that doesn't make sense stands out. But that's a task for next Monday because I'm going to take a mental break for the rest of the week.

Asides from the revision, we also started some spring cleaning. Spent most of the weekend going through our built-in wardrobe. Ended up throwing a few things away, donating a bunch more, and even had to walk to IKEA on Saturday night to pick up a few things.

Well, that's it for today.

Have an awesome week!


Friday, 15 September 2023

PRE-APPROVED FOR HAUNTING AND OTHER STORIES by Patrick Barb

 

Pre-Approved for Haunting: And Other StoriesPre-Approved for Haunting: And Other Stories by Patrick Barb
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'd like to thank the publisher for sending me an eARC of this short story collection.

The first thing I want to mention is the cover, which seems very simple at first glance, but perfectly sets the tone for the eighteen dark stories within.

PRE-APPROVED FOR HAUNTING AND OTHER STORIES is packed full of strange and weird tales featuring a cast of very different characters who lead their own personal haunted lives. No story is the same in theme or even format. But they're all an interesting variation of horror in its many forms, and each one stands out for its own eerie reason/s.

As is typical with collated tales, some grabbed me more than others. My personal favourites are: Lost Boy Found in His Bear Suit because of its subtle but strong horror, A Portrait of the Artist as an Angry God (in Landscape) because it's a fever dream of art and obsession, Rose from the Ashes because it's an intriguing revenge fantasy, Iggy Crane and the Headless Horse Girl because it's fascinating, and The Giallo Kid in the Cataclysm’s Campgrounds because it's slasher with a difference.

Another thing I really like are the actual story titles. There are some very clever and creative titles in this bunch.

Overall, I really enjoyed this collection.

Thursday, 14 September 2023

PARASOCIAL by Wendy Dalrymple

 

ParasocialParasocial by Wendy Dalrymple
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Firstly, I want to thank the author for sending me an ARC of this very freaky book.

Casey is nineteen and barely pays attention to the people in her real life. She likes animals and works in a pet store, but her obsession is social media. She's especially into StreamVid and idolises Della. When Della gets sick, Casey decides to set up a fund for medical expenses, but her helpful nature leads to an unexpected nightmare...

Wow. 😳

This novella is one hell of a ride! As soon as I started reading Casey's story, I was hooked and didn't stop until I finished. That's right, I read it in one sitting.

There's nothing better than a cautionary horror tale wrapped in a seriously messed-up social commentary package. And this one packs quite a punch.

I really liked Casey, and often sympathised with her helpful nature. While also cringing because the way she gets swept up in someone she doesn't really know is a situation that is often seen online. For every authentic person, there are a hundred with nefarious intentions. And this story takes that reality and spins it upside down, turns it into a super creepy story with a touch of body horror and plenty of gross imagery.

Like I said, this is highly addictive and relentless, kept me on the edge of my seat until the very last word.

Well, this is another Wendy Dalrymple gem! I seriously love Wendy's addictive writing style, and can't get enough.


View all my reviews

Wednesday, 13 September 2023

I'm back in Revision Town!


Hey! How's it going?

It's me again.

I took a week off to rest my brain after spending most of August revising a 45k novella, but now I'm getting stuck into another lot of revision.

Yeah, I can't stay away.

This time I'm working on this story. The one that came to me out of nowhere and I was convinced it wouldn't turn into anything. Then it became a 30k novella. 😬

I wasn't sure if I was going to enjoy re-reading this tale of woe. Even thought I might end up scrapping it after all. But nope, once I got started I couldn't stop reading. It only took me two long evening sessions to revise. I cut quite a few words, moved a bunch of stuff around, and even added new words. Deepened the description and emotion, intensified the horrifying stuff.

It's now 31k, which is pretty cool for a story I didn't think would go anywhere. LOL.

Anyway, this is another horror novella. One that revisits old territory from a very different perspective. It's bleak and dark, takes the main characters on a pretty shitty journey that—of course—doesn't end well. But I knew this going in.

Funny thing is that while I was out walking this afternoon, my wicked writer brain decided that the ending I have right now needs to be changed. And even presented me with the new, darker ending. Ultimately it leads to the same place, but in a much faster-paced and more screwed-up way. I like it.

So, now I've got a bunch of notes to tackle during the third draft! 😳

That means I'll be taking the rest of the week off, and will get stuck into the third draft next week. The final read-thru the week after. Yeah, the plan is to have it finished/finalised by the end of September. That way, I can take October off to concentrate on reading creepy books while figuring out what novel I'm going to write during this year's NaNoWriMo.

Well, I've got a few crafty things I want to do during what's left of this week. And plenty of stationery/toy organising. 

Until then, have a great day!


FUNNYBONES by Allan Ahlberg & Tim Burton's the Nightmare Before Christmas Colouring book

 

FunnybonesFunnybones by Allan Ahlberg
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a kid's book my husband showed me because he thought I might like it. Of course I was interested. Not only does it feature skeletons, which I love, but the cover glows in the dark!

And I really enjoyed it.

The skeleton family consists of an adult, a kid, and a dog. They live in a basement and decide to go for a walk one night. It's really all harmless fun that does have a bit of a creepy edge. I mean, they're skeletons. πŸ˜…

It's a lot of fun and it's going on my keeper shelf.


- - -


Tim Burton's the Nightmare Before Christmas: Adult Colouring Book (Disney)Tim Burton's the Nightmare Before Christmas: Adult Colouring Book by unknown author
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Yeah, you better believe I'm going to review this lovely colouring book. 😁

The Nightmare Before Christmas is one of my favourite movies. It's also one of my favourite things to collect. I love anything featuring Jack and Sally. And that explains why my husband picked this up for me!

Seriously, though. The illustrations are very pretty. So pretty I don't think I'll be able to do any actual colouring in. πŸ˜…


Saturday, 9 September 2023

HIDE by Kiersten White

 

HideHide by Kiersten White
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the next book hubby chose for me, and it's another good one!

Fourteen seemingly very different people are selected to play a game in an abandoned amusement park. They have to survive a week of hiding. The last one standing gets $50,000. Except, the odds are stacked against them because there's something they didn't expect...

I REALLY enjoyed this book! I was hooked from the very beginning and couldn't wait to find out how everything was going to end. And when I eventually got there, after the heart-pounding race to the conclusion, I was very pleased.

Definitely made all the sacrifice, the lies and gore worth it. The roller-coaster might be out of commission at Amazement Park, but this story is one hell of a thrill ride.

The story starts with Mack, a woman who survived a very traumatic ordeal and carries the guilt with her. Getting a place in this game is her way out of the miserable existence she's found herself in. But she's not the only character. And we catch a glimpse of a LOT of other POVs, which adds to the tension.

Other than Mack, who I really liked, Ava was great. And so was Brandon and LeGrand. A group of selfless individuals who didn't know what they needed was the camaraderie they discover.

I also liked the very interesting reveal about what's really happening and why.

Not only is this a very entertaining horror survival story about a group of damaged people who find a common goal, but it's also a very clever commentary of the injustices in this world.

Had a great time with this book!

Wednesday, 6 September 2023

YOU'RE NOT SUPPOSED TO DIE TONIGHT by Kalynn Bayron

 

You're Not Supposed to Die TonightYou're Not Supposed to Die Tonight by Kalynn Bayron
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Yesterday, I was looking for a book to read, but because I have SO MANY on my TBR pile and want to read all of them at the same time, I got my husband to pick one for me.

And he picked this one! ☺️

During the summer, Charity is the 'final girl' in a horror camp simulation game in the middle of nowhere. Here, she works with a group of fellow teenagers who welcome groups of people who want to have the experience of 'surviving' a slasher. In the same location where one was actually filmed in the early 80s. But this year, the staff are leaving without notice, there are strange sounds coming from the lake, and it's obvious something weird is going on...

Wow. What a great slasher! I love that it fits so well within the subgenre expectations, yet still provides a unique twist. And that ending! 😳

The story is narrated by Charity, who is a final girl to the core. She takes her job seriously, her responsibilities are the most important thing, and she's a caring, concerned friend who wants to keep everyone safe. Unfortunately, this is a slasher and we all know how hard it is to stay out of danger. Let alone, survive the night.

Still, I really liked her voice and determination. No matter what, she wanted to keep pushing through all the obstacles in her way. And trust me when I say, there were many.

I REALLY enjoyed this book and look forward to reading more stories written by this author. I like her writing style. The narrative and bleak situations were as well-written as the gore. And I was on the edge of my seat all the way through.

Awesome fun! πŸ”ͺ


View all my reviews

Friday, 1 September 2023

The Revision is Done!

Hey! How are you today?

Well, it's Friday. The 1st of September. The first day of spring. And the coldest day we've had for a while.

I went for a nice and long walk earlier and the wind chilled me to the bone. πŸ₯Ά

Anyway, enough about the weather.

This turned out to be another busy week for me. The final read-thru usually is. It's when I sit down with my Paperwhite and read the story from start to finish. Doing this always highlights repetition, sentences that are too long, or awkward wording. Things that don't add anything to the overall story. It's when I end up cutting a lot of words and replacing even more.

I don't know why it happens, but every story has a handful of particular words that somehow appear a hundred times. LOL. This time it was: focus, accept and heart. I had to make sure there wasn't too many of them. The great thing about weeding out repetition words is that when I replace them, the new word choice ends up strengthening the sentence. Or encourages me to rewrite it completely.

Like I said, it's the nitty-gritty stage that sharpens the dialogue and narrative. The draft that enforces the emotional depth and develops the character connections even more. With this particular novella, I also had to re-read the sexy scenes a few times because they add a new layer to what's going on. 

I actually finished finalising everything late last night and ended up cutting roughly one thousand words. But a tiny addition that makes a big impact came to me during the day. So I added the few sentences this afternoon, and now it's really done.

The final word count is: 46,580.

I'm very happy with this novella.

It's a story that started as a way for me to deal with the unexpected loss of our beloved Loki. Losing him earlier this year hit us hard, and I didn't deal with it very well. He was my writing buddy, spent all day with me while I created stories. In many ways, he kept me in check. Without him around I tend to take less breaks, and sometimes even forget to eat. I miss him a lot and writing this novella helped me deal with how much his absence has affected me.

From the loss came a spark. An idea that stemmed from my own thoughts. And from that, I now have a completed manuscript about grief, love, and accepting what was there all along. That it turned into so much more and took my characters to places and situations I didn't expect, is a plus. 

It's been an emotional ride, but I'm glad I followed through and let my imagination run wild.

August turned out to be pretty busy. I finished writing a 30k novella, edited another one that will be published later this month (15k), and revised this one (46k). Yikes.

Well, that's pretty much all I wanted to say today. Just an update to mention that this novella is DONE. Yay!! πŸ˜ŠπŸŽ‰

I'm going to enjoy the weekend with my husband and then take a week off writing. After that, think I'll get stuck into another lot of revision for this novella.

Take it easy and have a good one!

Friday, 25 August 2023

More Revision!

Hey! How are you?

Well, the sun is shining and it's Friday, so that's very cool. What did you get up to this week? Anything exciting?

My week turned out to be quite hectic. As you already know from last week's post, I'm in the middle of revising a novella. But early this week, I had to divide my time between two projects. I had to add an edit for a different novella, followed by the final proofread. 

So, yeah, super busy. Kinda mentally exhausting too, but I don't mind because I enjoy spending time in my fictional worlds. Also, tightening the story to make it better is something I love doing. 😁

Anyway. Back to the revision.

The word count is now: 47,608.

Although I trimmed quite a few sentences and moved others around, I also ended up adding new words. At this stage, if something doesn't make sense or stops the flow, I cut it. If a word or passage makes me pause, it needs to go. Or has to be replaced.

I'm very happy with how this story is shaping up. I love how the foundations of this idea grew from a very sad situation in my life, but became something else. A dark story that really surprised me.

Writing really is kinda magical. Hard and pesky work, but always very rewarding.

Okay, that's about it. I just like to post these progress updates to hold myself accountable and celebrate my achievements. Whether big or small, I think it's important to reward yourself at every stage of completion. Otherwise, the creative well dries up and leads to restlessness.

At least, that's what happens to me.

My reward for this week's hard work is taking today off. Then, on Monday, I'll start reading this novella one last time on my Paperwhite. I'm hoping to finish it completely by next Friday.🀞

Have a great weekend!


Thursday, 17 August 2023

Revision Time!


Hey! How are you today? I know I'm a little late, but welcome to August. Yay.

I have big plans for August. ☺️

As you already know (because I posted about it) I finished writing a novella during the first week of this month. Then, I took a week off to read and have a small mental break. But I got back into writing this week.

After spending about eighteen months revising a bunch of first drafts that I kept abandoning for years, I made a promise to myself. That I'll never put projects away for longer than three months. Depending on the length of the story, one or two months is enough distance between drafts. This is a good plan to have. Especially since I don't want to go through that again.

The hard work I put into revising those unfinished projects was time well spent. I don't regret it. I'm glad I put in the effort and came out with a bunch of completed novels and novellas, but it's not something I want to tackle again. It was a LOT of work and nearly broke my brain.

Actually, SUFFER THE DARKNESS was one of those abandoned stories, and look at where that little novella is now. It's my highest reviewed/rated published book!

Anyway, back to my current revision.

Do you remember that story I wrote in June? The idea that came out of nowhere and helped me process the sadness/grief I've been suffering over the loss of my beloved writing buddy. Loki was more than just a cat and he spent most of his sixteen years stuck to my side while I wrote the day away. Losing him hurt a lot. It still does. But this novella helped me process some of my feelings of loss, while giving me the chance to create characters facing a completely different set of problems.

It ended up being a story of self-discovery and acceptance. Of finally realising what's really important, while enjoying a few pleasures along the way. This tale became something very different to what I first envisioned, but I'm very happy with how it's shaping up.

Last night, I reached the end of the second draft. I cut some words, added even more, smoothed things out, made it bloodier, more violent, and changed one character's name twice. Think I might have a title too.

The new word count is: 46,622.

Now I'm putting it aside until Monday. When I'll get stuck into the third draft. This will be an even deeper revision to make sure the story doesn't have plot holes. I'll also figure out the chapter settings, which is something I really enjoy doing during the final round.

Well, that's it for now. Sorry this post veered off into several tangents, but it's all part of the same process for me. ☺️

Have a great day!!


Thursday, 10 August 2023

MY FIRST BOOK OF GIRL POWER by Julie Merberg

 

My First Book of Girl PowerMy First Book of Girl Power by Julie Merberg
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

My husband found this book today while we were thrifting, and of course we had to buy it. I mean, it's a book about girl power featuring a bunch of very cool women who also happen to be superheroes.

I think this is a terrific way of introducing comic book heroes to kids. I think both girls and boys would benefit from reading this. Little girls so they can feel represented, and little boys so they learn early that it's not only men who can be superheroes. Besides, the characters in this book will appeal to everyone.

The pictures are bright and lovely. The superpowers are simplified perfectly for a much younger audience. And I love the message.

Oh, and I might not be the target audience, but I really enjoyed this book! 😁

KINDRED by Octavia E. Butler

 

KindredKindred by Octavia E. Butler
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've had this book on my TBR pile for a while. It was one I found during our pre-Covid thrifting. So, I decided to see if I liked the sounds of it... and once I started, I couldn't stop reading.

On her twenty-sixth birthday, Dana is transported from her comfortable life in 1976 to another time. A time in history when white people used slaves and didn't much value anything or anyone. While she struggles to find the reason why this is happening, she's forced to endure awful hardships that alter her life forever...

Wow. Saying that I really enjoyed this book sounds both blasphemous and accurate. It's such a powerful work of fiction, an essential book that delves deep into the harsh and unjust lives of slaves in the nineteenth century. What Dana is forced to endure, as well as what she witnesses and hears about what others are put through, is despicable. And so very sad.

I was uncomfortable during most of this book. My heart broke with every new chapter. I found Dana's voice compelling and strong. A modern woman who is thrust into a past that is full of danger for someone like her. And in spite of all the cruelty and pain, she remains determined to see this mysterious circumstance to the very end.

While I REALLY liked Dana and Kevin, as well as Nigel, Alice, Sarah, Carrie, and all the other unforgettable slaves, I DESPISED Rufus and John. Actually, all the white people (except for Kevin) in this book were atrocious. Absolutely vulgar and heartless. A product of their time and willing to be awful just to satisfy their own status. Utterly disgusting.

Anyway, I have a lot to say about that, but I won't. Instead, I'll praise this extraordinary piece of literature.

One more thing: asides from the obvious themes, it's also very much a sad tale of an obsession that threatens to destroy everything Dana cares about.
 

Tuesday, 8 August 2023

SCARLETT by Brian Bowyer

 

SCARLETTSCARLETT by Brian Bowyer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I picked this up and read it in one sitting. Yes, it's that good!

Myla's had a bad year and pretty much lost everyone she cared about. At least she's still got her job, which is how she ends up getting back into dating. With some unexpected consequences...

As soon as I started reading this novelette, it hooked me in. I felt so bad for Myla because she suffered a lot of heartache and loss in the last year. No wonder she has trust issues and isn't keen on dating. But then she agrees to meet a mysterious man. He's good looking and seems nice enough, but the story he shares is a lot more interesting than he could ever be.

That's how Myla meets the painting. The one made from the blood of the victim. One who has a lot to say to anyone who will listen.

I love the unpredictability of this short tale. It's fast-paced, fascinating, and leads to a very satisfying conclusion.

Brian's writing style grabs you by the throat and doesn't let go until you've raced from start to finish. And then you want to grab another one of his books!


View all my reviews

REAL LIFE SUCKS LOSERS DRY by Cassandra Daucus

 

Real Life Sucks Losers DryReal Life Sucks Losers Dry by Cassandra Daucus
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I picked up a copy of this novella the other day and was looking forward to reading it. I mean, look at that awesome cover. And how can I resist a book named after a quote from Heathers? I love that movie!

When Blade—Archibald to everyone but himself—meets the new girl in school, he's totally smitten. Chrissy is different and she actually likes him. Listens to him. And even though she keeps him at a safe distance, she does make him feel good. Until everything changes...

OMG. This story is SO engrossing. I almost read it in one sitting, but it got too late and I had to put it aside to get some sleep.

Anyway, I really enjoyed this vulgar little tale from the POV of a guy who's only real concern is getting off. πŸ˜… So, when he meets a girl who seems to match his energy, he's ecstatic. Except, all is not as it seems. And before Blade realises what he's doing and what is happening, it's too late.

This is a great, bloody story with a nightmarish vibe. Definitely worth checking out.

Monday, 7 August 2023

D&D DUNGEON CLUB: ROLL CALL by Molly Knox Ostertag

 

Dungeons & Dragons: Dungeon Club: Roll Call (The Dungeons & Dragons: Dungeon Club Series)Dungeons & Dragons: Dungeon Club: Roll Call by Molly Knox Ostertag
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have to admit that I'm not a huge D&D fan and have never actually played the game. But between Stranger Things and the Dungeons & Dragons movie, I've managed to enjoy D&D from an outsider's perspective.

So when we found this graphic novel for a bargain price over the weekend, we picked it up. And I thought I'd give it a go.

Olivia and Jess are best friends who attend middle school. They're also D&D fans and have been for years. When Olivia wants to invite other players to join them, Jess is opposed to the idea and their friendship hits a rough patch...

Well, this turned out to be an utter delight! The characterisation is amazing. Not to mention how easily these characters managed to weave their way into my head and affect me emotionally. Olivia is an outgoing nice girl who wants to make new friends. Jess is a shy introvert who is happy with the way things are. There's a lot about her past that has shaped and twisted her, made her mistrust and not want to get to know anyone else.

She's also getting bullied, which only adds to her anger and frustration. And when those two emotions combine, she ends up hurting the one person she truly cares about. 😫

Seriously, this is such a great story about friendship and growing up. About not letting the past sour the present, and realising that new people aren't the enemy. It's also about two very creative girls who love D&D.

Loved the artwork, too.

E.T. by Arie Kaplan & Chris Fennell + JAWS by Geof Smith & Kaysi Smith + BACK TO THE FUTURE by Arie Kaplan & Meg Dunn

 

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (Funko Pop!) (Little Golden Book)E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (Funko Pop!) by Arie Kaplan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was really young when E.T. was released back in the 80s, and I went to the cinema to watch the movie. I never forgot this adorable alien, or the human friends who loved him enough to help him find his way home. 😒

The story contained within the pages of this adorable Little Golden Book might be simplified, but it still captures the magic and wonder that E.T. always brings out in me. The illustrations are beautiful and bright.

I loved everything about this. It's definitely a keeper! πŸ›Έ



View all my reviews Jaws: Big Shark, Little Boat! a Book of Opposites (Funko Pop!) (Little Golden Book)Jaws: Big Shark, Little Boat! a Book of Opposites (Funko Pop!) by Geof Smith
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As soon as I saw this book, I HAD to have it. I mean, it's Jaws. A classic movie we've all watched and enjoyed at one time or another. Sometimes more than once.

I was also very curious about how they would adapt such a violent and bloody story to make it kid-friendly. Well, they TOTALLY did. Not only is this set in the same place and has the same characters, but it constantly mentions the iconic music we all know and love—Da-dum, Da-dum.

And Jaws, well, if you're wondering how that man-eating shark can be portrayed as cute, you'll have to read this beautiful book. Loved the ending, too.

This one's another keeper! 🦈



View all my reviews Back to the Future (Funko Pop!) (Little Golden Book)Back to the Future (Funko Pop!) by Arie Kaplan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ah, Back to Future. Another 80s classic! Who can ever forget Marty McFly and Doc? No one, I suppose.

This is another cute adaptation that follows the story exactly the same way the movie did. It's a lot simpler and very fast-paced, but it's very much the same. Unfortunately, though, even a Little Golden Book with its pretty illustrations and bright colours, can't erase the cringe situation between Marty and his mum in the 50s. 😬

This will be a lovely addition to the growing library! πŸ•”⚡

Friday, 4 August 2023

A little (unexpected) writing...

 

How are you today?

Well, I didn't expect to be posting any sort of update this early in the month, but productivity hits when it wants to. LOL.

As the title states, I wasn't planning on starting a new writing project this month. Instead, my plan was to revise the novella I wrote in June. I mean, I would still like to tackle this revision, but had to push it back a bit.

During one of my daily afternoon walks a few weeks ago, a new story idea struck. It's an unexpected tale that came out of nowhere. It's also one that I dismissed as soon as it struck. I mean, there was no way this story was going to work! πŸ˜…

The problem is, the next day more moving parts slid into my mind. Still, I didn't want to commit. I already had plans to revise and besides, this thing that wanted to be written was not going to happen. Seriously. How could it when I kept fighting against it?

Yet, in spite my own personal protests, bits and pieces continued to swamp my brain. So, I finally stopped fighting and decided to start taking notes...

Before I realised what was happening, I had PAGES full of stuff. I even started doing research, and naming characters, casting them too. This story was demanding to be told and wasn't going to take no for an answer.

Finally, against my better judgement, I gave it a go. Tried it on for size. And I kept writing, writing, and writing some more.

Here's how it all went down:

  • 26/7: 4,563w (+2344 to original beginning) 
  • 27/7: 7,454w (+2891) 
  • 28/7: 11,128w (+3674) 
  • 31/7: 15,112w (+3984) 
  • 1/8: 19,687w (+4575) 
  • 2/8: 23,256w (+3,569) 
  • 3/8: 27,498w (+4242) 
  • 4/8: 30,161w (+2663)
As you can see, the first draft is done!

I might have been unsure about whether this strange idea was going to work, but I now have a finished novella. One that poured out of me and ended up consuming my every thought until it was out of my head! LMAO.

There's some sort of lesson here. I should stop second guessing myself and just write the damn thing. If it's not going to work, it'll be clear early on. And if it does work, why the hell did I put it off in the first place?

Anyway, that's it for today. Just wanted to post a little writing update. I'll probably end up taking a break next week and then get stuck into the revision I mentioned above.

Have a great weekend!



PS. I finally have a Linktree with all my social media places, plus more.


Sunday, 30 July 2023

Where did July go?

 

Hey! How are you today? Can you believe this month is almost over? Personally, I think July went a bit too fast. Not sure why, but that's just how it feels to me. 😬

Well, we're currently in the middle of winter, but you wouldn't know it because the weather has been quite warm. Sure, it's still cold in the morning and at night, but the days are quite warm. 

I usually take it easy in July. Mainly because it's my birthday month. I ended up doing a bit of reading, a bit of subbing, and a lot of thinking. Pretty much a bit of everything in equal small measure. πŸ˜…

We also went to the dentist and got some blood tests done. And my head has been full of stuff. Not just a bunch of different ideas forming at their own pace, but also lots of thoughts about my online presence.

If you've been reading my blog for any amount of time, you know how much I enjoy Twitter. But the new owner has decided to make it really hard to spend time over there. After fourteen years, I find myself slowly stepping away.

I even set up Instagram and Threads accounts.

So, if you're over there and I haven't found you yet, please feel free to find me. 😁

I also have a Substack newsletter. Actually, I posted a little more about my Twitter/Threads thoughts yesterday.

BTW, can you believe that my horror novella has been out in the wild for over a month and has over 80 ratings on Goodreads?! I can't believe it. It's so exciting to know that readers are actually checking out my story.

Whether you like it or not, THANK YOU for checking it out!!


Well, I guess that's about it for now. It hasn't been a very productive writing month but I did get an unexpected idea that I've kinda started writing. And a few almost-there rejections, which always get me like this: 😫... before I dust myself off and shrug away the sting.

Have a great weekend!


Thursday, 20 July 2023

SILVER NITRATE by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

 

Montserrat has always been overlooked. She's a talented sound editor, but she's left out of the boys' club running the film industry in '90s Mexico City. And she's all but invisible to her best friend TristΓ‘n, a charming if faded soap opera star, even though she's been in love with him since childhood.

Then TristΓ‘n discovers his new neighbour is the cult horror director Abel Urueta, and the legendary auteur claims he has a way to change their lives - even if his tales of a Nazi occultist imbuing magic into highly volatile silver nitrate stock sounds like sheer fantasy. The magic film was never finished, which is why, Urueta swears, his career vanished overnight. He is cursed.

Now the director wants Montserrat and TristΓ‘n to help him shoot the missing scene and lift the curse... but Montserrat soon notices a dark presence following her.

As they work together to unravel the mystery of the film and the obscure occultist who once roamed their city, Montserrat and Tristan might just find out that sorcerers and magic are not only the stuff of movies...


I always look forward to reading a new Silvia Moreno-Garcia book, and this one was no exception. 

In 1993, Montserrat lives in Mexico City and constantly finds herself fighting to be taken seriously as a sound editor in the film industry. TristΓ‘n is her best friend and used to be a popular soap opera star until an accident destroyed his career and reputation. Together, they find themselves caught up in an old curse shortly after meeting an aging cult horror director...

Wow. That was a blast! Another hit from this very talented author. Bravo.

There's so much to love about this book. The fact that Mexico City comes alive within the pages of this story. The way curses, magic, betrayal, and the supernatural are woven perfectly within the complicated, yet strong friendship between the two narrators. How well some of the darkest moments of world history are blended with the allure of old cinema.

Like I said, there's a lot to love in this tale.

Montserrat and TristΓ‘n are fantastic characters. So different that they complement each other perfectly. So similar that, of course, they've been friends forever. The honesty and rawness of their individual lives kept me as riveted as the intriguing concept, and the many characters who help make this story shine.

I couldn't stop reading.

Silver Nitrate is an amazing book! First, the characters totally grabbed my attention, because they're all interesting and their voices compelling, but then kept me glued to the pages because the creepy situation that slowly unravels is so fascinating it wouldn't let me go.

Thank you Hachette Australia for sending me a copy of this awesome book.


Silver Nitrate, July 2023, ISBN 9781529418057, Jo Fletcher Books

Wednesday, 12 July 2023

I AM AI by Ai Jiang

 

I Am AI: A NoveletteI Am AI: A Novelette by Ai Jiang
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A few weeks ago, I was very lucky and won a copy of this adorable novelette. I've been itching to read it since it arrived and tonight, I finally got the chance to sit down and enjoy it.

Okay, let me make something clear about my use of the word adorable. The subject matter isn't what's adorable, it's the actual book. Not only is the cover bright and gorgeous, but the actual paperback is small and very aesthetically pleasing. I also consider myself very lucky to have a signed copy.

Now, onto this wonderful story. 😁

Ai is a cyborg, but she's also a writer who has managed to keep enough of her humanity to stand out with her AI writing program. That still hasn't gotten her out of debt, and no amount of subscribers can help her keep up with personal maintenance. She's tired of the constant fight to stay charged and craves the silence an absence of emotion could provide...

I absolutely loved this tiny little tale that is full of heart, even though it's wrapped inside a very bleak package of the future. Ai's world is dystopian, and although everyone has access to augmentation, many still live under the shadow of the city's repressive lights.

This is such a terrific tale for many reasons. Found family is always something that gets me, and the support system around her is exactly that. Kind hearted people surviving within an oppressive city where everything has been stripped away but they still manage to actually care about each other is bound to get my attention. And all of the above definitely gels these characters together.

As well as the writing, of course. Ai's voice (both the character and the author) is very strong and kept me glued to the pages from start to finish. I couldn't put it down and loved every minute of it.

It's a heartfelt story about what it means to be human. Or what it means to resent our own humanity.

Anyway, I don't want to say anything else because that would mean getting into spoiler territory and I'm not going to go there. I think you should definitely check this out. You won't regret it.



View all my reviews

Sunday, 9 July 2023

ALIVE UNDEAD by Brian Bowyer

 

Alive UndeadAlive Undead by Brian Bowyer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love vampires in all of their undead glory, so when I found out that Brian Bowyer had a vamp story available, I couldn't wait to check it out.

Valkolar is a very old vampire. Delarosa is a faithless priest. Jamie and Kirsten are young lovers looking for music and adventure. Olivia and Sirius are gifted undead children living their lives recklessly. Naomi is an ambitious musician with an alcohol problem. Mohammed stalks the night. And Rosalie, she's a whole different kind of monster...

Well, this is one hell of a violent and bloody ride! And I enjoyed every gory minute of it.

The fast-paced pages of this book are fuelled by short and crisp chapters that grab you by the throat and refuse to let go. There are a lot of dark characters in this depraved tale, but every single one feels different and their alternating POVs move the overall story until you're thrust headfirst into the shocking conclusion.

I do have to mention that this isn't for the squeamish, or for anyone who can't bring themselves to read violence against children. But if you can stomach extreme horror of the true-crime kind, mixed with an interesting take on vampirism, then this book is definitely worth your time.

Personally, I was hooked from beginning to end, and couldn't wait to find out where everything was going to go. And where everyone was going to land.

I look forward to checking out more books written by Brian.


View all my reviews

Wednesday, 5 July 2023

THE DISMEMBERED by Jonathan Janz

 

The DismemberedThe Dismembered by Jonathan Janz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'm going to start this review by saying that I love the cover for this novella. It reminds me of those old gothic covers from yesteryear, but also totally captures the story vibes.

Arthur Pearce is an American writer who has escaped to England because his marriage fell apart. But his plans to write a new novel change during a chance meeting with Sarah Coyle. A stranger who asks for his help, and her strange situation captures his imagination so much, that Arthur finds himself at the stunning Altarbrook, in the middle of some unexpected trouble...

Well, this was a fantastic story! I was captivated from the very beginning and couldn't wait to see where Arthur was going to end up. And boy, it didn't disappoint.

Not only is this story gothic to the core in the way of characters, locations, plot, and lavish households, but it's also quite adventurous. It's unpredictable and violent. Plus so bloody, in the most menacing and crude way. I loved every moment of it.

Actually, I loved everything about this novella, but have to give a special mention to Lizzie. She's such a great character, and SO freaking cool.

Another brilliant thing about this gothic nightmare are all the female characters. None was a damsel, and each had their very own good and not-so good traits.

Oh, and Arthur was pretty cool, too.

I enjoyed this so much!


View all my reviews

Friday, 30 June 2023

June Update!


Hey! How are you today? What have you been up to? Can you believe we're halfway into 2023 already?!

Yikes. Where does the time go, right?

In Oz, June means winter, and you (probably) already know this is my least favourite season. 😫 I have to admit that it took longer than usual for the cold to settle in but now that it's here, it's seeping into my bones. FFS. I hate feeling cold. I much prefer spring and summer. Autumn used to be nice, too. But now the seasons are all muddled up anyway.

On to other things...

In case you missed it, my horror novella, SUFFER THE DARKNESS, was released by DarkLit Press almost two weeks ago, and it's been a whirlwind of awesomeness.

Check it out:


You can pick up a copy from THESE STORES, and add it to Goodreads HERE.

I'm SO excited!! Kae Roscoe's story is sad and dark. Although she gets her wish and her missing daughter returns, as soon as Molly comes back, everything starts to fall apart. It's a nightmarish ride that I hope you'll enjoy.

Everything is super cool now, but it didn't start out that way because Amazon decided to delete all the pre-orders. πŸ˜‘ But the horror community helped get the word out in a big way (THANK YOU, EVERYONE), and I had a blast celebrating this release. πŸ˜πŸŽ‰

So, what else did I get up to this month? Oh yeah, I wrote the first draft of a novella. Then got stuck into a short story that came out of nowhere, but happens to be the prequel to one of my upcoming releases, and finished it this week.

Oh, speaking of upcoming releases... have you seen these two announcements?


That's right! My horrormance slasher novel about a group of friends who meet up for a reunion dinner ten years after high school and find themselves in a grisly nightmare, has found a home with Aesthetic Press. And my modern gothic horror novella about a newlywed couple, an old house, and a horrible secret legacy will be released by DarkLit Press.

Both of these will be available next year. Yay!!

I'm very excited about these upcoming stories and can't wait to share more details as their release dates draw near. They're very different, feature characters who find themselves in horrible situations, but both are horror stories I can't wait to share.

Well, this has been such a busy month full of so much that my brain feels like it's turning to mush. I'm really looking forward to spending the weekend with my husband and chilling out for a bit.

Have an awesome one!


Thursday, 29 June 2023

EERIELLA: SUPER-FIEND by Sophie Ingley

 

Eeriella: Super-Fiend!Eeriella: Super-Fiend! by Sophie Ingley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was really looking forward to reading this story because I love the cover and the concept sounded so cool.

After a really bad night, in which Ella gets dumped by her girlfriend and gets so drunk she doesn't remember a single thing, she wakes up the next day without a hangover. But there's a painful, lumpy growth on her knee. One that slowly transforms her into something else...

Well, this gory and bloody novelette turned out to be such a fun trip!

Not only is Ella a very cool and interesting character, but the strange situation she's thrown into had me turning the gruesome pages fast because I couldn't wait to find out what was happening to her. I was also totally intrigued by her mysterious friend, and when the twists and turns started to take me into unexpected and exciting territory, I couldn't stop until the truth was revealed.

And it didn't disappoint.

Loved this quirky, wicked tale. 😈

Wednesday, 28 June 2023

THE HIBISCUS AND THE GRAVE by Wendy Dalrymple

 

The Hibiscus and the GraveThe Hibiscus and the Grave by Wendy Dalrymple
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Firstly, I want to thank the author for sending me an ARC of this lovely book. I really like the cover, because it totally matches the story.

In 1920, a new governess arrives at Hibiscus House, an estate on Tybee Island, GA. As soon as she gets there, she has a good feeling about the place and instantly likes the little girl she'll be looking after. She even likes the owner of the estate, but it doesn't take long before strange things start to happen...

Wow. I was hooked from start to finish, and couldn't wait to find out what was going to happen next.

The Rebecca vibes are felt throughout this lovely gothic gem, but it's got a unique style that sweeps you under until you get to the end. The mysterious circumstances are both spooky and intriguing, and the atmosphere is so strong I could taste the salt in the air. Felt the cold seep into my bones because every description about the old, but grand house is so very lush.

Not to mention how much I liked the characters because they all felt authentic in their own way. Each had a role to play, and played it well. I also enjoyed the touch of romance.

Well, I absolutely LOVED this! It's another fantastic Wendy Dalrymple book. She's got an addictive writing style that really appeals to my reading tastes.

Thursday, 15 June 2023

BELOW ECONOMIC THRESHOLDS by Adam Hulse

 

Below Economic ThresholdsBelow Economic Thresholds by Adam Hulse
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Here's another novella I've been looking forward to getting stuck into that didn't disappoint.

After a brutal civil war, demons stalk the slums where the starving people are trying to survive. Kurt works for the Agency to get rid of the demonic pests stalking the buildings, and his payment is barely enough to feed him. But when he stumbles on a plan to rebel, Kurt gets caught up in a fight he can't walk away from...

Well, this is a fast-paced, action-packed ride through a very bleak future! And I mean that in the best way possible because I couldn't put it down.

This story is sad and infuriating because people are treated like scum just because they're in a dire situation that wasn't even their fault. It totally echoes a lot of the shitty things that are going on right now in our world because the rich are never satisfied and continually want to oppress everyone. And that's before considering the vermin who are willing to do their bidding. Wilkes, I'm looking at you. 😐

Sure, Kurt and all the other poor but brave souls live in a dystopian version of our world with the added problem of demonic beings, but the social commentary in this novella is very familiar and perfectly woven into a violent, dystopian story with intriguing supernatural elements.

Another thing I really enjoyed were the main characters. I mean, Kurt is suffering from severe PTSD and leads a very lonely life, yet he's still empathetic and willing to help whenever he can. They're all very relatable and sympathetic, totally had me cheering for them every step of the way.

This is another excellent book by a very talented author.



View all my reviews

Wednesday, 14 June 2023

28 DAYS SASSIER by Damien Casey

 

28 Days Sassier28 Days Sassier by Damien Casey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've had my eye on this novella for a while, so I'm glad I finally got the chance to check it out.

Jim Tiptree is the last man on Earth. It was just his luck to be left behind when humans escaped to another dimension after a goblin invasion. As the lonely days go by, he slowly realises that he's actually not the last one left on Earth. There's also Bigfoot...

OMG. This book is hilarious. I couldn't stop cackling because it was just SO MUCH FUN!

Okay, the situation Jim finds himself in is quite disturbing: the world is overrun by deadly goblins who eat concrete. The idea of these creatures is outrageously funny. Yet, also quite terrifying. I swear these little assholes reminded me of those rude Gremlins.

If only they were the worst of it, though. Imagine being left behind with a bunch of conspiracy nuts. Ugh. The thought makes me ill.

I really enjoyed this story because it's original and quirky. Jim's voice is interesting and humorous. What he goes through is both funny and scary. I mean, there might be a lot of lighthearted stuff going on here, but there's still plenty of violence and horror packed within these pages.

And finally, I have to mention Bigfoot. Who turns out to be a charming and super cool character who surprised me every step of the way.

This is a great post-apocalyptic adventure with extra sass.


View all my reviews

Tuesday, 13 June 2023

HUNGERS AS OLD AS THIS LAND by Zachary Rosenberg

 

Hungers as Old as This LandHungers as Old as This Land by Zachary Rosenberg
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've been looking forward to reading this novella for several weeks now, and it didn't disappoint.

Esther and Siobhan live in the safe and prosperous town of Grey's Bluffs with Esther's father. In order to stay safe, they have a pact with the Hungers who dwell in the nearby mountains. But during their latest trip, they cross paths with Cyril, a man from her father's past who now leads the unscrupulous Blackhawks and has gold in his sights...

I really enjoyed everything about this story, which turned out to be a fast-paced and very entertaining novella through some rough terrain, interesting characters, and even darker secrets.

The heroines in this story are tough, devoted, and never sway from their loyalty to their people or each other. The villains are despicable men who only have violence and wealth on their minds. As for the monsters, I loved how they were portrayed and thought they took up just enough page time to make them fascinating without revealing everything.

Sometimes, less is more. And that's why I liked this approach to the Hungers.

This story is also very well written, and features a sweet love story between two strong women with even stronger ties to their Jewish faith.

A great addition to the splatter western genre!

Sunday, 11 June 2023

A little writing...

How are you?

I can't believe it's already June! Yikes. 😳

In Oz, this means that winter is here. As you might already know, I'm not a big fan of winter. I don't like the cold and definitely have a hard time adapting to shorter days. But this year, I'm trying not to let it get me down too much. I'm also trying not to concentrate on the rising Covid numbers. I mean, no one else seems to care anymore, right?

Also, not having Loki around makes me sad because he used to get really affectionate during the colder weather. It's been over three months since he passed away and I still miss him every day. We used to spend most of the day together, so it's hard sometimes. There are a lot of reminders around the apartment, and I can't seem to shake the sadness whenever I think about him.

So much, that I ended up spending the last few weeks writing a story that first came about because of how much his loss is affecting me.

I think it's easier to add the tweet I posted about it because it explains what I mean:

Yep. In mid-May, after waking up from a horrible dream that made me so sad I spent quite a bit of the morning crying, my subconscious decided to do something about it. I wasn't thinking about a new idea because I was so distracted by the sadness, but my writer brain decided to present me with a new story concept. One that would probably be hard to write because it dealt with the loss of a cat, but that could help me get through this in the longrun.

I ended up writing the first chapter on my phone one night, but didn't get stuck into it until late May. I didn't want to put any pressure on myself. Even thought it might end up being a one-chapter writing exercise and that's all. And I was fine with that.

Well, this attitude sure helped because after a slow start, I spent the last two weeks writing the first draft. I didn't put any pressure on myself to add new words if I didn't feel like it, and started slow. But then I began to lose myself in the story, couldn't stop thinking about it. I picked up the pace and couldn't wait to get back to it every afternoon.

My head was full of ideas and situations. Problems the main character needed to overcome in order to move on. I was gripped and the words were pouring out of me every time I fired up my laptop.

I actually finished the first draft last night. The word count is: 45,078. During most of the writing, I wasn't sure if it was going to be a novelette or a novella, and didn't care. As long as the story kept coming, I kept typing.

So, what started out as a personal exercise to work through my own feelings of loss, turned out to be SO much more. This story, characters and world surprised me. A lot. What begins as one woman's grief after losing her pet companion, became a very involved tale about self-acceptance. About facing what she'd tried to avoid for years. It ended up being deeper, more emotional, pretty violent, and even a lot sexier than I expected.

I'm very happy with how it turned out. And the process really was cathartic. It really did help me, and I look forward to returning to it when it's time for revision. But right now, I'm going to enjoy the fact my sadness was able to produce a whole new (unexpected) story.

Besides, it's a long weekend right now and I'm going to enjoy it with my husband.

Have a good one!


Thursday, 8 June 2023

EXPECTATIONS by B.T. Hayes

 

ExpectationsExpectations by B.T. Hayes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was lucky enough to read an ARC of this novel and I have to say, I was hooked as soon as I started reading.

This story doesn't waste any time getting started and throws the reader into a very violent and confronting scene. Who is this man and why is he doing this? How did we get here? But there are enough hints to start putting the clues together when we're introduced to the main characters.

I enjoyed the way the three POVs flow with each other and allow the story to grow. Jamie and Dale are such great narrators, two smart kids who finally get together and face a lot more trouble than they suspect. I also couldn't shake the unnerving dread. The closer I got to the end, the more I didn't want to get there.

Expectations is an engrossing and very disturbing read that I couldn't put down. On one hand, it's about the normal everyday complications. On the other, it's about the depravity of the human mind when exposed to stimuli secretly craved but not realised. It's also quite sad, really. And definitely delivers a devastating knockout.

Definitely worth your time.


View all my reviews

Friday, 2 June 2023

Q&A with Nico Bell


I have a guest on my blog today. Nico Bell writes awesome horror stories and she's dropping in for a Q&A.

Hi Nico. Congratulations on your latest release.

 

1. What was the inspiration behind your new book?

My insomnia mixed in with my addiction to Zillow! These two ended up sparking my idea to write a haunted house story but in a mansion where all of the locks are controlled by smart tech. This was an important element of the story and one that gave the villain a little more latitude with their scheme. 

2. You described your novella as 'a twist on a haunted house' story, can you expand on that? 

Haunted house stories are a blast because there’s so many ways the plot can turn! For example, in the movie Poltergeist, we see a supernatural haunting, while in Shirley Jackson’s House on Haunted Hill, a case can be made that the real haunting was happening within the mind of the protagonist. Sometimes ghosts aren’t exactly who they seem to be, like in the movie The Others (2001), or sometimes the ghosts are family, like in The Amityville Horror. When I say a “twist” on a haunted house, I’m referring to the way a ghost story can be so much more than a spooky spirit lurking in the shadows, just as they are in these examples.

3. If you were only allowed three adjectives to describe your book, what would they be?

Wicked, wild, and fast! It’s a quick fun read!

4. What came first Caleb, the mysterious woman, or the house?

The house started the brainstorming process. I wanted to dive into the haunted house world and come up with something fun! Then, I developed Caleb, and it’s actually my first time publishing a book with a male protagonist. I typically write largely femme, if not entirely women, casts, but it just made sense to write from his point-of-view. The mystery woman was always lurking around in my brain, but I developed her last. It was important to get her motives right, so she required a bit more work. 

5. If your book was made into a movie, who would play the leads?

I envisioned Caleb as a smoothing talking, young, arrogant man who cares a little too much about his appearance. I think an actor like TimothΓ©e Chalamet would pull that off. The mystery woman is a clever antagonist who is the perfect match for Caleb’s ego. In my mind, I was picturing Scarlett Johansson.

6. Are you a plotter, a pantser, or a combination of both?

When I started writing, I was 100% plotter. Outlines were my lifeline to story writing. As I’ve gotten a little more comfortable with writing and character development, I’ve be able to incorporate a bit of “pantsing” into the process. I usually do fast drafts of the first act and the middle of the book, and then I go back and plot everything out. This helps ensure that there is enough material to work with.

7. Authors always have the best (and most disturbing!) Google search histories. What kind of research, if any, did you do for this book?

I researched a lot of million-dollar homes. I saw one with its very own spa and hair salon, which was wild to me. I also researched home security systems and how smart tech has been incorporated into those.

8. How much research do you do for your stories?

The amount of research usually depends on the project. For example, I have a sci-fi horror novella coming out October 2023 entitled Static. That one required a bit more since I wanted to explore technology and the supernatural. I’m currently working on a sapphic vampire horror which I’ve been researching a ton in order to have a strong foundation for my vampire lore. For Open House, I researched a few key ideas and then got to drafting!


Nico Bell can be found online at www.nicobellfiction.com or on TikTok, Twitter, Instagram, or YouTube @nicobellfiction.

Open House comes out 6/15/2023 by PsychoToxin Press


 
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