Dark Visions: A Horror Anthology You Won’t Want to Miss

Writing to be Read

Dark Visions

October is the month for scary things, and a horror anthology filled with spine chilling short stories from over thirty authors is the perfect read for the season. The release of Dan Alatorre’s compilation of Dark Visions anthology is October 15th, and you won’t want to miss it. In addition to a wonderfully original and entertaining  prologue, and his own story, “The Corner Shop”, Dan has lined up a slew of writing talent to include in this tomb of short horror tales.

Not only does this anthology have a very cool cover, (Check it out above), but it also has some very well crafted short fiction, some that will stay with you in times to come. These shorts cover a wide spectrum of horrors; nightmares, voodoo, vampires, apparitions and spirits, and even demons. The stories found here prey upon your inner fears, making brief little ditties from the stuff of…

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Our Newest Addition (not Edition)

My wife and I were caught by surprise. Baby Patrick arrived 3 weeks early. So far, Momma and Baby Patrick have received clean bills of health.

Yes there are many reasons why I haven’t made new posts for the past few months. Detailed explanations of this complicated year will be posted. No, they will not be bitch, moan, and whine posts, just some interesting facts to bring everyone up to date.

In the meanwhile…

Let’s give a rip-roaring welcome to Baby Patrick! Pat1

 

 

 

He’s only 5lbs. 3 oz.

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s Little Frankie meeting Baby Patrick for the first time.

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Just Too Cute!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Stork Strikes Again

I’ve put this newsflash out on Facebook and Twitter, but I leave it here to make it complete. Ruth is pregnant again. Who doesn’t love baby announcements?

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We’ve only seen a lab tech / nurse to confirm, so we do not have any other details. Is our new baby a boy? a girl? twins? How many weeks pregnant is my wife?

Stay posted for baby news / stork updates and maybe some ultrasound pix.

Rid Your Writing of the Passive Voice

In the simplest definition: When a verb is in the passive voice, the subject of the sentence is the recipient of the verb’s action rather than being the ‘doer’ of the action. For example, in “The football was thrown by the quarterback,” the football (the subject) receives the action of the verb. A better and therefore active version of the example sentence would be: “The quarterback threw the football.” When the subject becomes obscured, it makes understanding difficult for the reader.

Editing from passive voice to active is a simple fix that will improve your writing.

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Sometimes Passive Voice Is Difficult To Spot

Here are a couple of small paragraphs for your consideration.

Jorguth fished the scroll from his sack and offered it to Maselle. She opened the rolled vellum and admired the exquisite and pain-staking beauty of the penmanship. The spell was written in elegant Elven calligraphy in black and red ink.

Dusk’s sunset burned red on the horizon. The vast open landscape was filled with magnificent looking trees, shrubs, and flowers. Jorguth smiled as his eyes soaked in the beauty of the view.

Did you spot the two passive sentences?

Is There a Correct Time or Place for Passive Voice?

The best way to use the passive voice is in dialog, specifically when a character is trying to shirk responsibility.

“Well, some mistakes were made. But I have faith a solution will be found.”

Did you notice that nobody receives credit for the mistakes? Later, if the problem is not resolved, it is the “solution’s” fault for remaining elusive. .” (Listen carefully to Politicians in the future.)

A Simple Solution

Use the “find” function on your word processor and search for forms of “to be” like was and were. Even if your sentences are not passive, you should filter those words out. I once blogged about removing forms of “to be” in order to speed up your writing. Too many instances of the offending verb can make your writing slow down to a crawl.

Did you find this strategy helpful?OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Every Time You Reply Little Frankie Doesn’t Cry

Names in Fantasy Novels

Naming Conventions Can Be Quite A Sticky Problem

From the Seven Seas of R’haquirkh to characters names like Ma’charlkh, and the city of Shavartanshiquilltengshui, the naming conventions within Fantasy novels can be veritable tongue twisters. Such discombobulated names that almost contain every letter of the alphabet with apostrophes can aggravate and disorient readers much like a jump cut from a French New Wave film.

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If any of the above names have actually appeared in a Fantasy Novel…well that’s just dumb luck.

Of course, from the other side of the coin comes an equally viable point of view. A main character named Paul, with his trusty sidekick Tommy, and love interest Lucy, from Milltown, could also serve as a means to prevent reader immersion. These names are too close to the real world and can block out your world-building efforts.

Names I’m Using

In my forthcoming fantasy novel, the first in the series called The Tales of Tyrennia (were you able to pronounce that?), I use the following names. I suppose I tried to be somewhat exotic without being too far-fetched.

Main Character: Dagorat – Secondary Characters: Cyril; Katrina; Liberon – Tertiary Characters: King Baldomir; Brother Maynard; Craicwyth; Magda; and Lhinthel (the Elven Queen). Villains: Lamortain and Xantasia.

Kingdoms: Ravenna, Quintalia, Easterly

Cities & Towns: Mentiria, Jalken, Ethelton, Dun Targill

Of course I’ll ask my beta readers too, but I’d to like to have it all fixed before I send them anything.

Did any of these names make you stumble? Got any suggestions or changes?

Indie Book Review: The Seventh Seed by Allison Maruska

Put on your seatbelts for this roller-coaster-rocket-ride dystopian thriller.

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Within the pages of The Seventh Seed we meet Javier, a prodigy of the scientific community. He has accidentally stumbled onto a horrid truth concerning a corporation called LifeFarm. For the most part, LifeFarm is almighty and all-powerful. The tentacles of this mega-corporation control science, government, media, and therefore the minds of most people. Through the course of the book, Javier meets other like-minded individuals who work together to pull the proverbial rug out from under LifeFarm.

There’s an extensive cast of important characters, and to Allison Maruska’s credit, they are quite distinct. Let’s just say they each have a unique reason for their involvement.

Plot: Everything seems plausible and believable. Things happen quickly; Allison obviously had many threads to juggle and yet managed to stay on track. Also, I was quite impressed by some of the science. Just enough was presented to make everything believable without getting too geeky. Several subplots were smoothly weaved into the story. I especially liked the tête-a-tête exchanges between Charlie and Mattson, and the romance angles (sorry, no spoilers) weren’t overdone.

Writing Quality: Allison has an easy, readable style. I did not have to backtrack or stumble over oddly constructed sentences. Obviously, she and Editor Dan Alatorre revised and smoothed things out most assiduously.

The dialog was short and snappy without long-winded speeches or info-dumps.

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Allison Maruska has displayed an adept hand when it comes to mixing in beats, interior thoughts, body language and descriptions. I didn’t notice any show/tell problems, distancing words, or echoing headwords. She squarely put the reader into the head of the current P.O.V. character. The same goes for settings.

In the end, you’ll find an enjoyable read within the pages of The Seventh Seed. It is quite action-packed and fast-paced, and therefore something of a page-turner.

Twitter: @AllisonMaruska

Website: https://allisonmaruska.com/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Allison-Maruska/e/B00RAS3NFE/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/allisonmaruskaauthor/

A New Year: Hello 2018, Good-Bye 2017

As I look back upon 2017, I realize that I set up writing goals for the year that make me want to stop for a moment and say to myself, “Just what were you thinking?” Let’s face it; I set up an impossible level. Yes, under normal circumstances those goals were not far-fetched. However, I made them in January and did not completely understand the time involved with raising a new born. So, before I get on about the future writing hopes and dreams concerning the New Year 2018, let’s review 2017.

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Looking Back at 2017

January: Finished the renovation of the guest room and started on the nursery.

February: Wrote the final short story for the new collection.

March: The stork delivered Little Frankie.

April: Edited 5 chapters of my fantasy novel and placed them in the Beta Reader Manuscript.

May: The Baptism of Little Frankie. We had a house full of guests.

June: Completed third draft of two more short stories.

July: Wrote the first chapter from a sudden bolt of inspiration for a Sci-Fi series.

August: Adopted another stray cat named Moogie.

September: Edited another 5 chapters, which brought the total up to 15 of 28.

October: Wrote a series of blog posts for NaNoWriMo prepping.

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November: Completed draft version 0.5 for the third novel to round out a trilogy.

December: Edited another 5 chapters, which now brings the total up to 20 of 28.

Looking Ahead to 2018

I’m going to keep it simple for 2018. 1) Finish editing and release the first book of the Tales of Tyrennia Series and 2) Finish editing and release a collection of seven short stories. I do not plan on writing anything new. I’d rather just clean up and finalize the various piles of previous drafts.

How was your 2017? And what are you planning to write or edit during 2018?

P.S. *I wrote this post on New Year’s Eve and on New Year’s Day a sudden flash came upon me. I wound up writing the first chapter of a new campy and quirky series. Faceplant!

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Every Time You Reply – Little Frankie Doesn’t Cry

 

My 7 Favorite Christmas Movies

That special time of the year has rolled around again. During the final weeks into the Christmas Season, I really do not want to hear anything about politics, Colin Kaepernick, or Kim Kardashian. My wife and I prefer to relax (after little Frankie is asleep) with some appropriate ‘feel good’ movies.

Honorable Mentions: These features did not make this list of the best movies because they were specials made for Television and they don’t run the length of a film.

A Charlie Brown Christmas – Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer – Santa Claus is Coming to Town. I can hardly wait to watch these with little Frankie.christmas

(7) Come to the Stable: (D. Henry Koster 1949: Starring Loretta Young & Celeste Holm)

Two Naïve French Nuns come to America to establish a children’s hospital. Of course they wreak havoc upon a sleepy New England town, but miraculously succeed in the end. I ranked this at #40 on my favorite films of the 1940’s

Best Scene: Celeste Holm in full Nun garb playing a competitive game of tennis.

(6) It’s a Wonderful Life (D. Frank Capra 1946: Starring Jimmy Stewart, Donna Reed & Lionel Barrymore) The simple but heroic George Bailey plods through a perceived mediocre life. Later, his guardian angel shows him how his life has affected others for the better. There’s a dark side and something of a sci-fi quality to parts of this incredible holiday favorite. This film ranked as #28 on my list of the best movies of the 1940’s

(5) Miracle on 34th Street (D. George Seaton 1947: Starring Maureen O’Hara, Edmund Gwenn & John Payne)

What happens when you hire a Santa Claus who thinks he really is Santa Claus? Some mischief and mayhem ensues for Maureen O’Hara. Edmund Gwenn received a supporting Oscar for his portrayal of Kris Kringle and there’s a very young Natalie Wood. A delightful ‘feel good’ movie if there ever was one. I ranked this film at #18 on my list of best movies of the 1940’s

Best Scene: When the mail bags are brought into the courtroom.

(4) Babes In Toyland (D. Gus Meins & Charley Rogers 1934: Starring Laurel & Hardy)

Stannie Dee and Ollie Dum have a hard time surviving in Toyland. They even botch Santa’s order for wooden soldiers at the toy factory. Throughout the story they help young lovers get together and foil the plans of Silas Barnaby. The tall wooden soldiers save Toyland from the Bogeymen. I ranked this film at #15 on my list of the best movies of the 1930’s.

Best Scene: The invasion of Toyland by the Bogeymen.

(3) A Christmas Carol: (UK) (D. Brian Desmond Hurst 1951: Starring Alastair Sim)

A truly literate adaptation the Dickens classic. At first this film was panned for its dark content but nobody and I mean nobody has ever given a better dramatic portrayal of Ebenezer Scrooge. This film also sits at #9 on my favorite film of the 1950’s list.

Best Scene: Scrooge on Christmas morning.

(2) The Bishop’s Wife (D. Henry Koster 1947: Starring Cary Grant, Loretta Young, David Niven, Elsa Lanchester & Monty Woolley)

What an incredible cast! Will the angel help the Bishop? Loads of fun laced profound moments. The Bishop and the Angel begin an unhealthy competition for the affections of Loretta Young, Ooops, she’s already married to the Bishop. Of course, nobody (except The Bishop) knows that Dudley is an Angel. Some of his off-hand remarks bear a deep meaning but go over everyone else’s heads. This film ranked as #7 on my list of the best movies of the 1940’s

Best Scene: The Angel and the Bishop’s wife go to an ice-skating rink.

(1) Scrooge: (UK) (D. Ronald Neame 1970: Starring Albert Finney & Alec Guinness) None of the beauty of Dickens literature is lost in this musical version. Catchy lyrics, melodies, and an incredible performance by Albert Finney make for one of the finest films ever made. This film ranked at #11 on my best movies of the 1970’s list.

Grand production musicals were not in vogue in 1970 and I feel that is the reason why “Scrooge” never received the recognition it so truly deserves. This absolute gem of British Cinema has regretfully fallen through the cracks of history.

Best Scene: “Thank You Very Much” Probably one of the most side-splitting examples of dark humor ever!

How About You?

What are your favorite Christmas movies?

NaNoWriMo 2017: The Final Analysis

Hi Folks!

Well I didn’t get to the desired amount of 50k, but I did get my story on paper. The new manuscript for Book 3 sits at 105 pages for about a 25K word count. Guess I will not be putting in a request for the NaNoWriMo 2017 winner t-shirt.

How Can My Story Be Complete?nanowrimobadge2

I tend to write in a dialog heavy style and later add in other things like exposition, description, body language, and beats. Those 108 pages are probably around 75% dialog. Which of course means it will easily go to 300 pages.

Why Did I Wait Until December 13th?

I flew out to New York City on Nov. 29th and didn’t get back until Dec. 7th. Between  unpacking and catching up on many home chores, this is the first chance I’ve had to sit down and write a blog post.

Did I Do Any Writing While Away?

You know I brought my trusty laptop along and got in a few nights of editing Book One. Only a few chapters are left to edit. Of course, that means I’ll be sending out copies to Beta Readers quite soon.

All in all, I can say that NanoWriMo 2017 went well. How did you do on your project?

NaNoWriMo 2017: Week Three Round Up

Hi Folks! This may come as a surprise. My NaNoWriMo 2017 project is on paper. Did I achieve 50k words? No. Which naturally begs the question how I could possibly be done?

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I’ve mentioned before in other posts that my writing procedure can be somewhat awkward when compared to others. Many authors write 115K words and then delete about one-third of their first draft. My drafts tend to expand. Sometimes I don’t add any beats, body language, inner thoughts, descriptions, or appeals to the senses. There are times when I simply blast out page after page of dialog.

I usually turnout what I call draft Version 0.5, which is dialog heavy. The reason for my peculiar style is the desire to get the story on paper first, and then worry about the embellishments later. My first few chapters will have all of the standard extras and then I start drifting into dialog.

As of now, my word count is 24,394 totaling 108 pages.

Hope your NaNoWriMo project is going well.