Thursday, November 12, 2015

I'm Late, I'm Late!

Good grief! The first part of this month evaporated in a flash. I'm very late in announcements and getting things going for this whole NaNoWriMo thing! I made a faux NaNo Cabin, and got some writing friends and then... nothing. Nada. I did almost no writing for almost two weeks. My current WIP that I'm working on for NaNo is a project I've been working on, on and off, for years. And I was determined this year that NaNo would help me finish it, dag nab it!

But I had to go in and CUT big stuff from the novel. Huge stuff. I began this cutting and rewrite process a few months ago. The MS was around 55,000 words. I cut it down to about 30,000, and then I rewrote almost every word from page one, until I got into the middle, and back up around 50,000 and then from there, I looked at what I had left of the original draft, and out of what was left, I cut another 15,000. In one night. It took me two hours to reread and delete what it took me countless hours to create. Sad. Awful. Gut-wrenching.

And completely necessary. So, then I had a novel that was back at 35,000 words, and this was my jumping off point to start NaNo. So now that I'm back to the grind today, I have only 4,000 new words from where I started at the 35K mark, but I am chugging along. Starting today, I get to play catch up. Between now and Sunday, my goal is to write roughly 21,000 words, so I can get back to par for Sunday, which is 25,000. That will be the half-way mark for NaNo, and get the MS back on track, and back up to 60,000, and well on its way to done! I might not hit a full 50K for the month of November, and NaNo, but I am going to finish the book!

There's more about this WIP on my WIP page here:

But, here's a short little excerpt from it... Never before seen.... just for you!

Jasper slammed on the breaks and swallowed a curse. He didn’t want to dent his baby, but he’d plow it through legions of cars if it would only get him to the forest sooner. Doll needed him. And he wasn’t going to let her go without a fight. He hadn’t been trained in his youth to fight. Way’bahs didn’t fight. They left that to their lowest class – the Holcans. Since entering the human world, he had studied martial arts. Karate and Kung Fu were his faves. Bruce Lee was his idol. Followed closely by James Dean. And then Mr. Miyagi. He swerved onto the highway, blasting his horn at some nosebleed in front of him.
He stayed stuck in bumper-to-bumper for twenty minutes, concentrating on Doll. On the way she looked, on the energy of her Way’is, and the feel of her hand in his. He could practically see the thread that connected them. He followed it through the heinous traffic and onto 210. Passing Pasadena, he felt a tug on that connection. No, Doll!
He held tightly to the thread between them. He wouldn’t let her go. He couldn’t. Cursing traffic in earnest now, he pulled onto the shoulder and sped up, blazing past other cars. He prayed to the Goddess there were none of California Highway Patrol’s finest on this stretch of the Interstate. The twinge on the connection lessened. Was she trying to get away from him? Or was it simply that she didn’t really know how to keep their connection strong? He wasn’t sure. As he blasted by the stopped cars, horns blaring at him, he finally pulled back into traffic. He floored it for thirty miles of open road, then got locked up again.
But the closer he got to her, the stronger he felt her. He slammed on his brakes and waited, the slow crawl of rubber on pavement like agony. Traffic thinned again and he followed the interstate to San Antonio Heights. He put the top down, letting the warm night air cascade around him, bathing in the power from the moon’s glow. He didn’t come up this way often. But when the grind of city-slicking life got to be too much, he chilled in the mountains. He finally reached the mountain road, and began winding his way up. There was almost no traffic on this road. Trees lined each side of it, welcoming him. The moon cast a blueish glow over everything as it rose higher in the sky. He counted it as a blessing for what he was doing. A full moon was powerful. He could feel it inside him. The energy of nature soaked into him from all sides, though he was encased in metal. He neared Doll’s location. He could feel her.
He pulled over into a turnaround on the side of the road, and put the top up. Making the car as inconspicuous as he could, he killed all the lights and covered it with the beige top, hoping it would blend in with the tan of the dirt beneath it and the dark underbrush of the surrounding forest. He got the duffel bag and hiked it onto his shoulder. He would go to her on foot from here. She was deep in the forest.
He began walking in her direction, unsure how exact he would be able to find her. He paid close attention to the feel of her powers as he walked, his body enjoying the exercise as he moved. He couldn’t tell exactly where to go. He reached a path, one led to the right, one to the left. Small paths, left by nature. A river babbled in the distance. He remembered seeing a river in Doll’s mind when she was showing him where she’d been. He followed the sound to the edge of the river, and picked up a scent in the air that was unlike those of animal or human. Doll. He let his senses search around him, closing his eyes and concentrating hard. Then he was running, barreling through the brush at lightning speed, using all of his preternatural senses of night vision and speed to bring him to the mouth of a cave. She was in there. He knew it. He skid to a stop and took a shaky breath. After six years, he was finally going to meet his dame in person.
A growl emanated from within the cave.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

I Vant to Suck You Bvlood

Of course, we saved the best horror creatures for last. Vampires! And not the ones that sparkle either. :-)

To wrap up our horror-movie extravaganza, this week, we watched three versions of Dracula. Now, this might sound super boring, but watching three movies back-to-back (two on one day, and the third on the next day) was a great way to see how the Vampire Lore we know and love got started, and how the lore has changed and evolved over the years.

We start where all vampire aficionados ought to start. With Nosferatu. This was a 1922 silent movie adaptation of the story Dracula. This piece follows along relatively closely with the original story line, and it was a blast. A few things were a bit confusing at first, but by the end, you're able to figure everything out.  

This story follows Count Orlock (must've had some copyright issues with using Dracula) and his travels to England, his consequent obsession with his Solicitor, Harker's, wife, and the spread of disease and deaths throughout the town. It is only when Mina gives of herself freely that the deaths end and the vampire is defeated.

From there, we time jumped almost a decade to the Bella Lugosi version Dracula that released in 1931. This version is a bit different in that Harker is not the one who goes to Transylvania to meet the Count, but rather is Renfeild who goes as the solicitor first and becomes one of Dracula's thrawls, which wasn't really ever explained in the Nosferatu plot. Harker later follows in Renfield's footsteps. Dracula again sets his sights on Mina, Harker's wife, and in this version, Dr. Van Helsing plays a much larger role, in that he tries to help protect Mina and the rest from the evils of Dracula.

The final version we watched (though there are more) was the 1992 Keanu Reeves and Winona Rider version. This was my favorite of the three because it not only closely followed the format of the book which is written as a series of journals and letters from Harker and his betrothed, but because it starts Dracula's backstory hundreds of years ago when he was originally Prince Vlad, and how he became Dracula. The love story between Vlad and his reincarnated wife (Harker's betrothed) and the parallel story of Mina and Harker gives so much more depth to the romance and human aspects of this horror story. It gives a fuller picture and really makes you feel for ole Drac, even if he's evil. It all ends up okay in the end. Drac becomes Vlad again, and lets his love for Mina keep him from killing her, and he is set free from his cursed existence.

Well, now that it's finally Halloween, my horror-movie reviews will sadly come to an end now. I hope you enjoyed seeing horror through a romance author's eyes. Stay tuned for more fun goodies to come.


As part of our Horror Flick month, we are devouring zombie movies left and right.

We started out with some really old ones, like Revolt of the Zombies, in which the Zombies weren't actually evil, or reanimated dead, but rather men who were in a trance and controlled by a man who performed this ancient ritual. It was also a love story. It's been so much fun to see the really old zombie movies like this and see where some of the origin stories come from, and stuff. In this movie, the zombies who were under the trance were alive, but they also weren't phased by things like bullets in the middle of a war, and the generals were trying to figure out a way to use them to a strategic advantage. There's oh so much more going on in the movie than I can really tell you here, but it was oddly really cool to watch. I mean, we're talking a movie from 1936 here. And I have to say, overall, it was really impressive. It took a little while to get into it, and the beginning plot threads were a bit hard to follow, but overall, it was really quite an enjoyable movie.

From there, we tried to move on to White Zombie, but we were bored, lost, and irritated by the soundtrack within the first five minutes. We stuck it out about 15 minutes and called it quits. But, since we were seriously burned by the awful Japanese Zombie flicks we tried to start our awesome Zombiepaloosa from, we weren't taking any chances on sitting through the rest of a movie that sucked again!

So, we jumped ship to the original Night of the Living Dead. It's been a seriously long time since I saw this movie, and it's really funny the pieces parts from it that I remembered. Like "They're coming for you Barbara!" I'd forgotten a good portion of this movie, and it was great fun to watch it again. In 
this gruesome tale of the dead coming back to life, we have a great undead origin story of radiation from space dispersing over the earth and reactivating the dead brains of corpses. Now, these are not your ordinary reanimated dead! They use tools, they open doors, they are far more cognizant of human capabilities than many of the undead creatures that we see in today's zombie fiction. They move pretty slow, but can attack quickly. One of the best parts of this movie is the humanity, the characterization, of the people under attack that develops. The second best part is that the black guy isn't the first to die! As a quintessential horror movie, that kind of breaks the mold, which I love. Unfortunately, "the black guy dies first" is such a horrendous horror movie trope that I wish would die, and it's good to see that even in the 60s, this wasn't the norm. It's a great horror movie, with a few jump scares, but an unpredictable plot line, great characterization, and some really creepy scenes! Oh, and oddly enough, zombies aren't just after your brains in this movie - they're real flesh eaters. It's all around a great horror treat, without any romance to speak of, but that's okay, because trying to force a romance into this movie would have sucked. A lot. :-) Probably should've saved that line for my special on vampires, huh? Oh, well.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Haunted House

In light of the impending spooky holiday, I have revised an older piece of flash fiction I wrote many years ago in college. Oddly enough, with a few minor changes, it still holds up well. So, without further ado... here it is.

Haunted House

My palms are sweating, my heart is pounding in my chest, and I can feel a scream bubbling up from my voice box. I’m terrified. And I’m having the time of my life!
We follow the guide down the hall and around the corner, into another room. A maniacal laugh greets us as we burst through the door. A body covered in faux blood lies on the table. The source of that evil little laugh cackles again.
“Welcome to my laboratory.”
He takes out a mushy pile of bloody-something from inside the body and jiggles it at us. “Liver al dente, anyone?”
The body moans and the fingers twitch.
How’d they do that? I begin to wonder and the body sneezes, convulsing on the table and spewing blood on those of us unlucky enough to be too close. Uck. The maniacal doctor lunges for me and I scream.
“Everyone out!” the guide screams, turning tail and heading out the door.
“Come back, anytime, my little friends,” the voice trails behind us.

Our guide leads us into a tiny bathroom, dimly lit. “Who wants to call Bloody Mary forth this evening?” he asks, looking each of us in the eyes. I’m not scared of this stupid haunted house. Not really. I step in front of the mirror.
“Bloody Mary,” I chant fearlessly into the mirror once. I make eye contact in the mirror with Sarah, who smiles nervously at me. My tongue snakes out to moisten my lips. I’m not scared, just a little dry from the yelling. “Bloody Mary,” I chant a second time. One more ‘Bloody Mary’ and that evil ghost is supposed to show herself to us. I take a deep breath and the two words slide almost silently out of my mouth. But the ghosts are like whispers on the wind, and I’m sure she hears me.
The lights go out and darkness envelopes me. I back up a little until I feel Sarah’s hand grip my upper arm. She backs up, pulling me with her. I think we’re backed into a little corner behind the door of the bathroom, but in the insidious dark, I can’t be sure. The lights flash and Holy shit! Before me stands Bloody Mary. We shriek as we try to maneuver and open the door.
But as they are trying to open the door, they’re pushing me closer to the crazy bitch. Wait, they’re not supposed to touch me, I’m okay; it’s only fake fear pounding through my veins. But the whiteness of her face and the dark circles under her eyes make her one scary witch. So do the purple bruises covering her body and the cracked, bloody lips. She looks quite officially dead, and very ghostly. We finally break through the door and our guide tells us to run down the stairs. Oh there’s a good idea. Running down the stairs is usually the part when that stupid girl falls on her face just long enough for the serial killer to close in on her and chop her into tiny bits with glee. But we’re too hyped on adrenaline to care. So we run down the stairs and someone screams. It’s one of those better-than-Jamie-Lee-Curtis-blood-curdling-I’m-really-being-murdered kind of screams that makes the hair on the back of your neck stand on end and sends shivers down your spine, even though you know it’s fake. Somebody’s gonna need a throat lozenge. 
The stairwell is dimly lit. The wall along the staircase is one of those all-glass window-wall things, showing the darkness outside. I can barely see the soft outlines of trees blurring by as I run down the stairs.  As we turn the corner at the bottom of the stairs, a chainsaw roars to life behind the glass wall. I scream and start running forward and I trip over a chair in the middle of the room. I’m that stupid bimbo in the horror movie who trips! Me! How did I let that happen?
I look behind me and the man on the other side of the glass with the chainsaw looks crazy - I mean out of his flipping mind, nuts! And he’s holding a girl’s head by her hair as her blood drips down the glass. I only have a second to think, cool, before Sarah lands on top of me. I trip over some stupid chair in the middle of the room, and she trips over me – perfect! We scramble to our feet and run toward the rest of the group. The guide turns around to make sure we’re okay and his face blanches. His mouth opens in a little o and he’s staring. Not at us, but behind us, at the chainsaw-wielding psycho.
“R-R-Rachel…” he stammers, his eyes now fixed on the head being held by the blonde hair by the meaty clutches of Mr. Chainsaw.
I look back and forth between the two – the head suspended in air and the white face of our guide. “What’s wrong?” I ask.
“Th-that actor isn’t s-s-supposed to have any p-props but the chainsaw…no blood, no head… I th-think that’s, oh, God. It’s Rachel. Sh-she’s a g-guide.” He stammers and then leans over, retching uncontrollably. I help him stand up after a second and turn back to the glass – all I see is darkness. I can faintly see the outlines of the thick trickling blood streaks against the glass. Finally, my mind pieces the puzzle together – real blood streaks – that’s why they’re so bright. Only real blood has that thick viscosity … which means that instead of some college kid with a fake chainsaw we have a bona fide friken psycho on our hands.
Sarah looks at me, and all I can see are the whites of her eyes. Her mouth opens and closes like a fish. Slowly her hand raises, one finger outstretched – pointing behind me.
I turn and scream.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Horror Movies Continue!

I love when a horror movie is creepy as hell, but also has a romance. I mean, obviously I'm a sucker for romances! That's why I write them. :-)

Last week, we watched Sleepy Hollow, which is so very much both a romance and a horror movie all mixed into one. Now, those elements are not easy to balance. I know this because I've attempted to write other flavors of romance like romantic suspense and trying to balance the creepy suspense elements, the driving, break-neck speed pacing of the suspense plot, with the slow build and sexiness of a romance is hard work.

Sleepy Hollow does it with ease and makes it look too damned easy! I give that credit to the creepy mastery of Tim Burton, once again. (See my reviews of Corpse Bride & The Nightmare Before Christmas Here)

We start with a bang. Ichabod Crane is in trouble for wanting to investigate gruesome deaths by Sleepy Hollow. Now, this movie does not shy away from the horror elements. In fact, it embraces them so wholeheartedly, and with such a spine-tingling creep factor that you know you're watching a movie, and that the horror elements are there, but you just don't care. And the fact that it doesn't hide the gore or try to turn this into a creepy romance movie is the reason it works so well. Yet, Ichabod's budding romantic relationship with Katrina begins from their first meeting, when she kisses him in greeting, though he is a stranger. Both the romance and horror develop side-by-side, with the romance only taking a minor step back from being the main plot. Even more than Burton's animated features, this movie hits the horror and romance points of my interests with gusto. And in the end, though tons of blood is shed, and half the cast is dead, the core romance remains. Ichabod and Katrina survive, and what's more, they leave Sleepy Hollow for a new home, with a Prentice in tow, and we are left with the warm and fuzzies that even though lots of people are dead, the horseman has been put back in his grave, and the bad guys are gone. :-)
cutting up the corpses. A big no-no in the late 18th Century. So they decide to send him upstate to investigate the beheadings in a little town called

So, again, I say, Well done, Burton. Well done!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Finding the Romance in the Horror

As I mentioned in my last post, my wonderful love and I are making our way through a dearth of horror movies this October. We began with two versions of Phantom of the Opera, and loved them both, for different reasons.

Since then, we've watched Hocus Pocus, one of my faves, but not one his ;-p and The Nightmare Before Christmas, another one of my all-time favorite movies for Halloween, which he was very happy to watch with me.

Then, we watched Corpse Bride, which I had not seen before, and which I absolutely adored.

First, The Nightmare Before Christmas has been one of my all-time favorite Halloween movies since I was a kid. It's creepy as hell, but also has a really sweet kind of message. Plus, there's a great romance between Jack and Sally. If you haven't seen this movie, stop reading and go watch it. Seriously! It's fabulous. It's dark fantasy, a musical, a romance, and has both Halloween and Christmas spirit. I'm not sure how they pulled it all off, but this brain child of Tim Burton is a treat. 

It follows the story of Jack Skellington who is the King of Halloween Town." Yet, somehow, Halloween has lost its luster. He's become bored with being a walking skeleton. He wants something more. Despondent, he wanders into the forest and finds a circle of trees, each of which leads to another holiday themed town. He picks the one with the Christmas Tree on it, and quickly becomes obsessed with the idea of Christmas and Santy Claus, as he calls him. Through all of this, Jack also catches the eye of a rag doll named Sally, and a romance blooms from afar. When Jack's plans go to hell, Sally takes it upon herself to rescue a kidnapped Santy Claus and save Christmas. I won't leave you with any more spoilers than that in case you haven't seen the movie. But it's such a sweet romance with such a dark fantasy overlay. I might write romance, but I certainly have a dark side, and this movie just hits all the goods for me. Romance, horror, dark humor, fantasy, Halloween, Christmas - it's like all the different sides of me are represented in this one.

It was a real joy also to watch The Nightmare Before Christmas and Corpse Bride back-to-back. Corpse Bride was totally a romance first, with a corpse and underworld elements thrown in. It was also a musical. Watching it the first time was great, but I think for full appreciation to sink in like what I have for The Nightmare Before Christmas, I'll have to watch it a few more times. Thank goodness for Netfilx, right?

Anyways, Corpse Bride is the story of an unassuming young man of "new money" parents betrothed to the daughter of a broke blue-blood family. Poor Victor can't do anything right during the wedding rehearsal (I feel your pain, kid) and thus takes to the woods to practice his vows, as he has suddenly fallen for his betrothed, though they don't meet until the night before the wedding. Of course, this goes awry and Victor finds himself suddenly married to the corpse bride. Voiced by Johnny Depp and
Helena Bonham Carter, Victor and the Corpse Bride go on quite the adventure. All ends wonderfully well, with the bad guy getting his comeuppance, the guy gets his girl, and they're destined to live happily ever after! Be still my romance-beating heart. Along with the wonderful romance is intrigue, horror, danger, and fate. Again, this movie hits all the good points for me. Horror and romance! It's genius, and I highly recommend it.

Check back soon for the next installment of Zombiepaloosa!