Monthly Review (March 2018)

The third month of 2018 is gone and I wanted to try a new feature that I’ve seen on some author’s blogs. I want to use these Monthly Reviews to wrap up any news in my world and highlight some other random snippets from this month.

Story Submissions:

Submissions: 4

Acceptances: 1

Rejections: 0

Yay! An acceptance! Those are very good. I can’t announce where the story has been accepted yet but I can say that it has been a long road to acceptance.

My goal this year is to have 7 stories published. I’ve got two already and with this one it makes three. I’m going to keep writing and keep submitting until I get there.

What Else I’ve Been Doing:

Hellboy

On my continued quest to read 52 books this year I just finished up Hellboy: The Storm and The Fury. I’ve been slowly working my way through the graphic novels and I’m enjoying it immensly. Mike Mignola’s art is one of my favorite things ever and the Hellboy story is so dense and so crazy.

Far Cry 5

I’m also playing through Far Cry 5 on my PS4. Talk about crazy. The game’s open world shooter sandbox has lead to some frustations but also some genuine moments of awe. I’m halfway through the story and I can’t to see what happens next.

I’ll see you guys again at the end of the month!

The Ritual (Film Review)

There is something primordial about the forest. Fear resides in those shadows. It’s ground that has been tread upon before in the horror genre. But The Ritual brings its own mythology to the genre.

I don’t want to lay out the plot because I think this film deserves for you to experience it as it unfolds.

What I can say without spoiling things?

 

ritual-netflix-movie
Four best friends out on a hike!

The Ritual is a fantastic horror film. It treads new ground in many ways and manages to thrill at every turn. Adapting a novel like this one could have gone very wrong and director David Bruckner and team do a fantastic job.

This is a short review. But here’s the thing: Do you love beautiful film-making and skillful performances? Do you love suspense and scares?

Watch The Ritual.

 

Guest Post: How To Write A Successful Novel In 20 Doable Steps

Written by Jimothy Catermeow

  1. Go out and listen to people’s conversations. If you see two people talking quietly, they know more than you do about a great novel idea. Go sit near them and listen in. They’ll probably change the subject when they see you get close, so don’t be afraid to bust them on it and make them tell you their great idea… this is not only a great way to get new ideas, but also to make new friends.
  2. Trying to come up with a great title can be super hard. Go to a public place and start saying your title ideas out loud. You want a title that’s going to grab people’s attention, so when everyone looks at you, you know you have a winner. That’s how I came up with my book title ‘I Have A Bomb You Fricking Idiots Here I Hate You!’
  3. Love yourself. Every time you finish writing a chapter in your novel, don’t be afraid to treat yourself. I personally love printing out each chapter of my book and sending them to my neighbors with no return address. It’s my way of giving back to my community. A side note on this one: If you also want to try this, make sure you don’t accidentally send nudes.
  4. Try acting out a scene that you’re stuck on. For example, in my current novel ‘I Have A Bomb You Fricking Idiots Here I Hate You!’ my main character is a ghost that follows his younger brother around to protect him. This was hard for me to write because I am not a ghost. Also, I don’t have a brother. So I went to the mall one night and followed this teenage boy out to the parking lot to see what my main character could be thinking. I do this every night.
  5. Cry often, and cry loudly. This will help relieve any anxiety you may be having.
  6. Haters will hate. Ignore them when they call you an insane lunatic.
  7. Go to a used bookstore. Sometimes you can get lucky and the cashier will be old and won’t notice if you steal some books for inspiration.
  8. Another great tip is try starting backwards. Go from the back of your book to the front. Try writing: “End The” and see where you go from there. Oxherding_pictures,_No._10.jpg
  9. Try sneaking dialogue from your book into every day conversation. If it flows easily and the person you’re shouting at doesn’t run, you officially have something that grabs a readers attention.
  10. Try punishing yourself whenever you fail. I usually force myself to eat the page I’m working on if it totally sucks. This helps on two levels because 1. you don’t need to stop writing to get snacks and 2. you’re not wasting any paper if you’re using it for food. Also you won’t want to eat paper and so you’ll try not to suck so much.
  11. Write even when it doesn’t make sense and come back to it later. Recently I was stuck on a certain chapter when my character is describing his parents. I never had parents so this was a huge challenge for me. So I kind of froze up and cried when I got to that part. So instead of writing a description I just wrote, “Jimothy looked at his parents. They were blah and if you see how to do this it will be great people love Jimothy.” Sure, on a basic level that doesn’t make any sense… but on another level it will when my project is done probably.
  12. Really put yourself into your character’s shoes. Start telling your coworkers that these things in your book happened to you instead of in your novel. Convince them just like I did that you’re a ghost that was killed in a helicopter accident and that they can’t see you, but you’re here to save your brother from them. This way you feel one with your novel.
  13. Sneak in foreign language. Pick a language that no one speaks and use it for certain words so you sound like a super smarty. Or should I say, use it for certain La Rues so you sound super Paris? 😉
  14. Experience life. There are lots of different kinds of people, try to be all of them one day at a time. For example today my boss and I switched places and he likes it. Right now I’m sitting in my big fancy office listening to Jimothy struggle in the closet with his duck taped arms and legs. He’s having fun, I’m having fun, and I’m learning a lot for my novel ‘I Have A Bomb You Fricking Idiots Here I Hate You!’.
  15. Think of words as calories but instead of trying to reduce the calories try to have more calories. You’ll be thinking you’re eating a huge delicious meal, but you’re actually putting more words on paper. This makes sense.
  16. Being a good writer also can mean being a good liar. Try getting caught shoplifting and getting out of it by telling a beautiful lie. I do this all the time. Just make sure you have at least 20 dollars in case they don’t buy your story. That way you can prove you had intentions of buying the item and just forgot because you’re late to pick up your grandma. I love this one.
  17. Don’t plagiarize
  18. If you have to plagiarize, make sure you change the words enough so no one knows. I bet you couldn’t even tell me what this is from, “A sunflower by any other noun would be as sugar.”
  19. Don’t forget to get your story published once you’re done or no one will read it

 

Jimothy Catermeow is a writer. He writes novels and other things. He will be immensely famous if not for his writings then for the atrocities he commits. Buy his novel ‘I Have A Bomb You Fricking Idiots Here I Hate You!’ when it inevitably releases once he is done with it.

Books I’m Looking Forward To In 2018

2017 was a banner year for horror fiction. Tons of debuts and new classics came out over those 12 months and 2018 is shaping up to be just as incredible. Here is a list of books I’m looking forward to this year!

1. Blood Standard by Laird Barron

bloodstandard

Laird Barron is one of my favorite writers. His blend of cosmic-horror-noir is more powerful and terrifying than just about anything else I’ve ever read. Laird’s debut crime novel promises to be a thrilling ride into some undoubtedly dark stuff. ‘Blood Standard’ hits store shelves (and my shelf) in May.

2. In The Night Wood by Dale Bailey 

In the Night Wood

Though Dale Bailey is a new author to me, this novel sounds way to amazing to not get put on this list. This one sounds to be a supernatural fantasy stuffed full of Gothic elements. Couple that with a jaw-dropping cover and the endorsement of some big names, and we have a book that looks to be very promising. ‘In The Night Wood’ comes out from the always dependable John Joseph Adams in October.

3. The Atrocities by Jeremy C. Shipp

The-Atrocities-by-Jeremy-C.-Shipp

How about another Gothic with an incredible cover? I’m a little more familiar with Jeremy C. Shipp. I’ve read several of his short stories over the years and I have always been impressed. Tor is releasing this novella in April. With their track record over the last two years (The Dream-Quest of Velitt Boe! Agents of Dreamland!) I’m ready for this to download on my Kindle ASAP.

4. Sefira & Other Betrayals by John Langan

sefira.jpg

This collection was supposed to be released ages ago, but I’m okay with the delays. John Langan writes some of the densest fiction you’ll find anywhere, and I know the extra time he’s putting in will be worth it. There is no official release date on this but I expect to see it come out mid-way through the year.

5. The Rust Maidens by Gwendolyn Kiste

There is no official cover or release date for this one. Rest assured though, this will be a fascinating read. ‘And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe’ is one of my favorite things I read last year. Gwendolyn’s unique fairy tale-horror deserves a wider audience and I hope her debut novel does that.

These are five books I’m looking forward to in 2018! What books are you excited for? Any obvious ones that should be on this list?

My Favorite Books of 2017

Hello everyone! 2017, for what little it was worth, has come and gone. I won’t look back at this year fondly. It wasn’t a banner year for me for a lot of reasons. The one thing I did have success with was my reading challenge. I pledged 50 books through the Goodreads’ challenge. I finished my 50th book on the 13th of December, both tired and excited to pick up my next one. I think I learned a lot over the year. I read books from several different genres and enjoyed most of them. I’ve put together a couple of categories to highlight some of my favorites. If you want to see the full list, here is a separate post that has them all. Shall we begun?

My Favorite Novel I Read This Year:

The Fisherman by John Langan

‘The Fisherman’ is a horror epic packed into a small page count. It’s a rusty hook legend at the center of a heart-breaking tale of loss. After I set this book down I couldn’t help but feel sad for so many good reasons. Figure that out. It won the Bram Stoker Award this year and MAN does it deserve it. This is the best novel I’ve read this year and it belongs in everyone’s TBR pile.

Runner-Ups: Little Heaven by Nick Cutter, Hell House by Richard Matheson.

My Favorite Novella I Read This Year:

Hammers on Bone by Cassandra Khaw

This is another award winner I found myself playing catch-up on. What I loved about this one was its ability to take a tired trope (private eye on the hunt) and make it feel VERY new. This world is a Lovecraftian scab of a world that drips with menace. Cassandra’s prose is beautiful, even if the horrible acts her characters commit are not. I think about the way this action plays out in my head and I get chills. It’s that good.

Runner-Ups: The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe by Kij Johnson, Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer

My Favorite Short Story Collection I Read This Year:

Behold the Void by Philip Fracassi

This was the most painful category for me. I read a TON of fantastic collections in 2017. I loved all of them. I discovered some great writers through my literary adventures. But the author who had the strongest showing this year for me was Mr. Philip Fracassi. His cinematic style creates some truly breath-taking tales. ‘Altar’. ‘The Horse Thief’. ‘Mandala’. Three gems in a collection packed with them. I look forward to whatever Philip releases next.

Everything That’s Underneath by Kristi DeMeester, Painted Monsters and Other Strange Beasts by Orrin Grey

Biggest Surprise I Read This Year:

Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen by Mary Norris

Between you and me

This book made grammar fun. Mary Norris’ experience as a world class editor makes for a fascinating read. I had my doubts. Books about writing or the English language are rarely as fun as they strive to be. Mary makes pencil sharpeners fun. Go figure.

I hope you enjoyed this peek into my reading experience this year! Any book on this list deserves your attention and I hope that you give them a chance. Until next time…

Book Review: ‘Beneath’ by Kristi DeMeester

Beneath.jpg

Written by Kristi DeMeester

Published by Word Horde

When reporter Cora Mayburn is assigned to cover a story about a snake-handling cult in rural Appalachia, she is dismayed, for the world of cruel fundamentalist stricture, repression, glossolalia, and abuse is something she has long since put behind her in favor of a more tolerant urban existence. But she accepts the assignment, dredging up long-buried memories as she seeks the truth.

As Cora begins to uncover the secrets concealed by a veneer of faith and tradition, something ancient and long concealed begins to awaken. What secrets do the townsfolk know? What might the handsome young pastor be hiding? What will happen when occulted horrors writhe to the surface, when pallid and forgotten things rise to reclaim the Earth?

Will Cora–and the earth–survive? The answers–and pure terror–can only be found in one place: Beneath.

Plot summary taken from the Amazon product description. 

‘Beneath’ is a lot of things. It’s a modern Lovecraftian horror dipped in gore. It’s a fists-up throw down against that particularly toxic form of religion that haunts our world. DeMeester’s debut novel succeeds in taking the well worn horror stand-bys (reporter plunging into a BAD situation & a town being consumed by the evil inside of it) and gives them a fresh coat of slimy paint.

This novel’s female lead is powerful and smart, which makes for great reading. As the book progresses her anger drives her forward into the horrible events around her. I like this heroine just as I fear the antagonist that she is pushed up against. The antagonist of this story (the occulted horrors referenced above) are unique and well-drawn.

DeMeester’s writing style is rich and flowing. You can smell the mountain air and feel the dark oppression that this crazed religious community has over it. We’re introduced to a lot of characters here (I want to list them but I don’t think I can without jumping into SPOILERS) but I never felt lost. ‘Beneath’ is well paced and confident. It’s a stunning debut through and through.

There it is. Kristi DeMeester is an incredible writing talent. I’m glad I picked up this novel. Her first collection, ‘Everything’s That’s Underneath’, has moved up a couple of spots in my TBR pile. If you want a gonzo horror novel for this autumn, you can’t go wrong with this one.

 

My Ten Favorite Video Games of All Time

Lists like these can be a little silly. But MAN are they fun. For my swing at this I tried to choose games that have stuck with me over the years even if they aren’t perfect. So, without further ado, here are my ten favorite video games of all time!

10. Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag

Assassin’s Creed series’ mix of stealth and crazy history has always fascinated me. Unfortunately, the games up until this one didn’t hook me. I took a chance on Black Flag though, hoping pirates would finally be the element that would suck me in. That first sea battle blew me mind. It was new and thrilling. Sailing and upgrading my own ship in a living and breathing Caribbean world kept me hooked for weeks. The familiar assassin gameplay left me smiling. This one is a true gem.

9. Final Fantasy Tactics Advance

You’d be hard pressed to find another game on the Game Boy Advance with more depth that Final Fantasy Tactics Advance. This strategy RPG had a deep class system, a brilliant and complex story, coupled with an art design that still holds up to this day. Battling a vast conspiracy in Ivalice and adventuring with your clan members makes for one hell of a game.

8. Dragon Warrior Monsters 2: Cobi’s Adventure

This is my ‘I’ve never heard of that game’ entry. Released in 2001 for the Game Boy Color, it was initially dismissed as a Pokemon clone. I’m here to tell you that it’s WAY more than that. DWM 2 puts you in the shoes of a monster battler trying to save his home island from sinking into the ocean. This adventure takes you through countless worlds with three monsters to back you up. Sounds simple right? It is. Until you dig into the breeding system. Breeding two separate monsters almost always gives you a new beastie. Chaining together specific combinations and you can build an unstoppable fighting force. With over 300 monsters to befriend/create, the game never gets old. The battle system is basic but it has an incredible depth if you pay attention. This game is incredibly underrated.

7. Batman: Arkham City

 I’m a major Batman nerd. Though Asylum, Origins and Knight have their charms, no game is better at making you feel like Batman than Arkham City. With a sprawling game world and a story that pits you against The Dark Knight’s extended rogue’s gallery, Batman: Arkham City is a testament to what a superhero game should and can be.

6. Fallout 3

What can I say about Fallout 3? What makes it so beloved? Is it the evil (but also funny) world of post-apocalyptic Washington D.C.? Is it V.A.T.S (which you use to strategically dismember, vaporize and behead countless enemies)? It’s both of those things and more. Fallout 3 is a masterpiece action RPG that can’t be missed. But you probably already knew that.

5. Pokémon Crystal

Ahhh… Pokemon. It’s a formula that has seen little changes over the past two decades. Pokemon X/Y brought us into the modern era of gaming. Sun/Moon shuffled some franchise staples around. But, for my money, I don’t think anything can knock Pokemon Crystal out of my memory as my favorite Pokemon game. It was my first major gaming obsession and Generation 2’s batch of new ‘Mons to catch, trade and battle are as iconic as the original 151. I know he has no competitive viability. But Typhlosion is still awesome.

4. Fire Emblem: Awakening

I’ve been playing Fire Emblem since the first GBA game graced the U.S. It’s a brutal strategy RPG that focuses on a cast of lovable misfits and warriors facing off against near insurmountable odds. Awakening hones this formula to perfect. I’ve never forget this cast and the nail-biting battles we fought together. The new time travel and marriage system adds depth to an already dense system. Fire Emblem: Awakening is a brilliant game packed into a small package.

3. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Thousands of gallons of ink have been spilled talking about this game. And it deserves every bit of it. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is an astonishing achievement in every way. The world building. The combat. The story. Every inch of this world is bursting with things to do and horrors to see. Watching your actions reflect upon the game world is horrifying. No other game world has transfixed me more than this one. This thing is a masterpiece that everyone has to play.

2. Skyrim

Epic. No. That’s not the right world. Expansive? Also not quite right. Flexible? You know what? It’s all of those things. There is a lot of incredible RPGs out in the world. Skyrim (and the rest of the Elder Scrolls series) are the most accessible way to step into a fantasy world. Skyrim is massive and welcoming. The combat is a blast, the quests are memorable, and the world is unforgettable. Skyrim, even all these years later, is still a masterpiec

And number one is…

Bioshock!

I had a hard time nailing down my number one choice. The Witcher 3 is a polished monster, and I’ve logged more hours in Skyrim than is healthy. But when I thought about the tragic saga of Rapture and the mad genius Andrew Ryan, I knew where Bioshock belonged on my list. This dark city beneath the waves hasn’t left my memory since the first time I stepped out of the bathysphere. I play through it every October just so I can once again step into the perfect combat and story that make up this game. No enemy is more terrifying than a Big Daddy. Nothing will break your heart more than meeting the Little Sisters for the first time. Now. If you haven’t played Bioshock… would you kindly go and rectify that?

Those are my Top 10 Favorite Games of all time. What do you think of my list? Am I crazy? Do I need to play more games? Maybe. Comment below and let me know.

Behind That Mask: ‘The Mask of Black Satin’

It’s the last week of the month so that means it’s time for a little Shameless Self-Promotion. This will be short and sweet. Well. Mostly.

This week we’ll be looking at:

My story ‘The Mask of Black Satin’ published in ‘Spooklights’ from Muzzleland Press, which you can buy here.

spooklights

This story was my first paid sale. I’d had other stories published but it was exposure only. I don’t think much beats out that feeling of getting that acceptance e-mail. Other writers can relate.

Re-reading this story for this piece did make me cringe a bit. The writing is fine. But it’s a little rough around the edges. Am I being over critical? Probably not. Or maybe a little bit.

It’s an interesting thing to look back on. This story was published three years ago. I’ve learned a lot since then. I’ve moved across the country. Published thirteen (spooky) more stories. What have I learned since then? I’m going to ponder that for awhile. In the mean time you should check out this anthology. There are a lot of great stories in this anthology outside of mine. Muzzleland Press releases some good stuff.

Thank you for tuning into Shameless Self Promotion. Please follow me on Twitter, Instagram and also check out my Amazon page. I’ll see you all very soon!

Book Review: ‘The Con Season’ by Adam Cesare

Note: this review originally appeared on my old blog (The Fiction & Film Emporium). I hope you enjoy.

the con season

Written by Adam Cesare

Published by Black T-Shirt Books

Plot is as follows:

Horror movie starlet Clarissa Lee is beautiful, internationally known, and…completely broke.

To cap off years of questionable financial and personal decisions, Clarissa accepts an invitation to participate in a “fully immersive” fan convention. She arrives at an off-season summer camp and finds what was supposed to be a quick buck has become a real-life slasher movie.

Deep in the woods of Kentucky with a supporting cast of B-level celebrities, Clarissa must fight to survive the deadly game that the con’s organizers have rigged against her.

Plot summary taken from the Amazon product description. 

‘The Con Season’ is a horror novel for horror fans. It’s takes a literary dive into the slasher genre, bathing us in gore and plenty of knowing winks.

Adam Cesare’s newest work operates on multiple levels. It’s outside is a highly inventive bloody romp, the written equivalent to so many classic 1980’s gore-fests. After the blood begins to flow you start to see the hidden skeleton beneath. It’s clear that Cesare not only understands the tropes and clichés, but that’s he’s willing to subvert and morph them to deliver a thrilling adventure that never grows stale under decades of genre history and expectations.

Our characters are introduced as a variety of known horror archetypes. The mastermind, the killer, the final girl, the tough guy and the level headed leader. My concern going in was that Cesare would stick to those well worn clichés and that the book would suffer. Thankfully, he avoids it. Clarissa is a great character, layered with the all too real fears and concerns that an aging actress would have. The major slashed villain, The Fallen One (awesome name!) was terrifying in a very visceral way. The rest of the cast, mostly filled in with aging horror celebrities and other villains, do a fantastic job of fleshing out this horrific novel.

As horror fans we love to worship our icons. Any self respecting fan gets a little excited when Jamie Lee Curtis drops in for a cameo or when Barbara Crampton plays a leading role in some indie piece. ‘The Con Season’ plays into that nostalgia, lampooning horror conferences and demonizing the worst corners of the fandom.

Cesare is a very skilled writer, using a clear knowledge of horror pitfalls to make his high concept seem plausible at every turn. His open ending left me pondering where this story goes next. ‘The Con Season’ is a horror movie turned into a horror novel. What kind of ending are we getting?

‘The Con Season’ is a lean and mean novel. It pulls no punches. Filled with interesting characters and some truly thrilling sequences, this is a novel that everyone should immediately go out and download.