Sunday, September 17, 2017

My Top Ten Horror Movies



I love horror movies. Real horror movies, not the ones that rely on gore to get a reaction (I'm looking at you, SAW franchise.). We're edging ever closer to fall (my favorite season) so I thought I'd share my top ten horror movies with you, in order from the least scary (to me) to most scary. (Full disclosure: I'm fairly certain I watched some of these when I was way too young to see them. Thanks, Mama.)

Child's Play. (1988) You remember this one? Deranged killer's spirit enters child's doll? That little SOB had me throwing all of my--and my sister's--dolls in the closet.


















Sinister. (2012) I watched this one when I was home alone one day. I was jumping throughout the whole movie--especially the end scene. I squealed a little too, at that end scene. Totally wasn't expecting it. I think the dogs laughed at me.

















Nightmare on Elm Street. (1984) I was maybe seven years old when I first saw this. Somewhere close to that age. Oh, man. I was afraid to go to sleep for a few days. I still jump during a few scenes. One of the true classics.

















The Others. (2001) I really love this movie. It's subtle, chilling, and superbly done. The first time I watched it, I gasped at the ending. Then I had to watch it again to see if I could spot the clues leading to the ending.

















Psycho. (1960) Another excellent classic. Janet Leigh's screams, the shadow of the knife, the shocking ending. I watch it at least once every "Halloween season".


















Children of the Corn. (1984) I watched this movie once. Once. The next day, my daddy took me to the corn field with him to help with gathering. I lasted less than an hour before I was begging him to take me home. I could feel those evil kids staring at me; hear them rustling in the rows. I haven't watched it since.













Halloween. (1978) Creepy music, a creepy man in a creepy mask, a killing spree. What's not to love? I like most of the movies that followed this iconic movie, but this one is my favorite from the franchise.















Hush. (2016) If you haven't watched this yet, I highly recommend it. I jumped my way through the movie and then made sure all my doors and windows were locked. A well-crafted, suspenseful movie that you can watch on Netflix.















The Strangers. (2008) My goodness. This one had me latching onto my husband and muffling screams. I think it got to me because it could really happen. (It's based on true events, but I won't spoil it by telling you what those events are.) This one even shook my husband a little.














IT. (1990) This is why I'm terrified of clowns. I watched this when I was way too young and it scarred me for life. Seriously. I can't handle clowns. I still have nightmares. I have no plans to see the newly-released movie version. Nope. (And Tim Curry was absolutely terrifying as Pennywise.)












And that's my list. I suggest getting a big bowl of popcorn, turning the lights down low, and having a fright-fest on the couch. What are some of your must-see horror films?




Thursday, September 14, 2017

Author Spotlight: Sean Benham



Author Sean Benham agreed to answer some questions today and give us some insight on who he is and how he crafts his stories. 




Tell us a little bit about you. Where are you from? What kind of books do you write? How many books have you written? Do you set your stories in the area you live in?

I write ‘strange’ fiction, which is just my sneaky way of saying that I don’t like to lump myself into one genre. My work is largely science fiction based, but it sometimes leans towards horror, fantasy or crime fiction as well. I love creating alternate realities, some which mirror our world pretty closely and some which are way off the mark.

          To date, I’ve written two novels – White American and its sequel, Bastard Son – and a    handful of short stories. All of which are      available on Amazon (wink, wink, nudge nudge).

I’m a proud Toronto native (that’s the Canadian Toronto, not the little one in Ohio). The majority of work is set elsewhere, but my short story The Dance Prospect is set in and around my hometown. It was a lot of fun peppering specific Toronto details into the story. While that approach might not be appropriate for most of my work, it’s something I look forward to doing again in the future.


Most writers I know are voracious readers. What kind of books do you like to read? What's your favorite book?


These days I’m reading an awful lot of independent and semi-independent fiction. As a small time author, I like to support other people in my boat and hope that they do the same in turn. It’s a bit of a mixed bag in terms of both content and quality, but there’s some really solid stuff out there that you’ll likely never find on a Barnes & Noble bookshelf.

I actually tend to prefer non-fiction to fiction, especially if it’s a little odd – true crime, the occult, that kind of thing. I recently enjoyed Popular Crime by Bill James, it’s a baseball statistician’s take on society’s fascination with violent crime. 

My favorite novel is Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo and if I can compile a collection of short stories half as good as Roald Dahl’s Tales of the Unexpected I can die a happy man.

Let's play a quick game of "This or That".
"Real" books or e-books? Real books at home, e-books on the train.
Coffee or tea? Coffee.
Sweet or savory? Savory, spicy in particular.
Dogs or cats? Cats in general, but my dog’s awesome.
Summer or winter? Trick question! Fall, all the way.
Morning or night? Night.

Would you mind telling us about your writing style? Such as: Do have a routine? Do you need complete silence or blaring music? Early morning writing or late nite writing?

This might sound pompous, but I do the vast majority of my writing in my head. I like to have the characters, setting and plot all worked out long before I begin to type. I find that letting my mind wander on vacation works best for developing new ideas; staring out the window as foreign landscapes whiz by works wonders, I guess.

I tend to do most of my writing during down periods at work (don’t tell my boss) which usually means I’m only able to crank out a couple thousand words a week, at best. I revise heavily as I write and I leave plenty of ‘fix this up later’ notes. The self-editing process is one of my favorite parts of writing. If I were to actually tally up different drafts, I’d say I generally go through twenty or more passes on each piece I write. I prefer not to write to music, but I’ve grown far too accustomed to writing to ambient office noise.

Do you have a favorite “writing” snack?

I’ve never even considered snacking while I write! Which is a long winded way of saying ‘no’. Screw brevity.

Which do you think is the hardest to write: the first sentence or the last one?

That’s a tough one! I think the first sentence is harder. Coming up with a good hook isn’t quite as easy as coming up with something pithy to wrap things up. 

What is your biggest distraction while writing?

Real life! If I didn’t have a slew of bills and a 9-to-5 to pay ‘em, I’d be far more productive when it comes to writing.

What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received?

Honestly, the only advice I can really recall is that a paragraph has to contain at least two sentences. It’s not flashy, but it’s certainly a rule I stick to. 

Do you have any advice for new writers?

I have so much advice I have to break out the bullet points. In no particular order...

  • If you don’t love to write, don’t write.

  • If you’re expecting to make a dime, set those expectations lower.

  • If you don’t have a solid grasp of grammar please don’t self-publish, you’re only making yourself look bad.

  • Praise from your friends is nice, but it’s meaningless. Chances are they like you as a person a lot more than you as a writer.

  • Follow the rules until you’re good enough to break them. If you have to ask, you’re not good enough.

  • Develop a ‘voice’. This’ll only come through lots of practice.

  • Love language.

  • Know that bigger words are not always better words.

  • Learn to self-edit. Read your work out loud to yourself. If it sounds stupid when you say it, it’ll sound stupid when I read it.

  • If it’s not novel length, don’t go calling your work a novel. There’s no shame in writing a novella.

  • If describing a character’s outfit is more important to you than developing a solid plot then you should consider leaving fiction behind and writing for a fashion blog.

  • This one might be controversial, especially online, but fan fiction is intellectual property theft. If it’s not a parody, come up with your own ideas. If it is a parody, it had better be funny.

  • Be sure to come off as a snide dick when someone asks for advice.
What’s next for you? What do your readers have to look forward to?

I’m plugging away at my next novel, Prison of Heroes, but that’s likely over a year away from completion. It’s the third book in a series of five and it seems to take me about three years to wrap a novel. So if you really dig waiting, I’ve got you covered until around 2024!

In the meantime, I’m also working on a new short called The Howling Windsors. It’s a weird crime piece about a murder for hire pyramid scheme. If all goes well, that’ll likely hit the digital shelves this fall.

I’m also about to regain the publishing rights to one of my shorts. Look for M/F/P Circle One with a shiny new cover! (Cover may not actually shine).

Where can we connect with you? Tell is where to find you online.

I’m a borderline Luddite when it comes to social media, I’m active on Facebook and pretty much nowhere else.  But, I love talking to other authors and fans, so please feel free to add me as a friend or to send a message my way. (I’m the handsome, conceited Sean Benham on Facebook).

BONUS!

It would be great to get a plug for all of my work, if you’re cool with that.


Novels


White American


Bastard Son



Short Stories


Coin-Op Carter


The Dance Prospect


The Details


Double or Nothing


The Locked Woman


Skratch N Lik Pistolz

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Author Spotlight: Jim Mosquera


Today's Author Spotlight features Jim Mosquera. Jim was kind enough to sit down and answer some questions for me, so that all of us can find out more about him and his writing.



Tell us a little about you. Where are you from? What kind of books do you write? How many books have you written? Do you set your stories in the area you live in?

I’m an immigrant from Panama (the country with the canal!) who relocated to the Midwest (Missouri) as a young lad.  One thing most people don’t know is that my first language was Spanish.  I actually have a very flat accent in both languages.  

I started writing non-fiction and then to fiction.  The non-fiction writing is about finance/economics/government while addressing why humans do the things they do in this realm.  

My most recent non-fiction book, Escaping Oz: An Observer’s Reflections is written in a unique style.  There is an Introduction and a Conclusion chapter with nine other chapters in between.  Within each chapter there are series of short “articles” to allow the reader time to think about what they just read.  In fact, this is one book that need not be read in order — you can skip around!  This book is timely and relevant in an increasingly polarized society.  The topics raised force the reader to think and more importantly, ask the right questions.  When you don’t ask the right questions, it’s hard to arrive at the right answer.  This book is available in print, e-book, and audio.

My fictional thriller series (3 novels) centers on a young journalist by the name of Chandler Scott.  The series is set in the United States a few years into the future.  Each successive book has an accelerating pace to mimic what happens with crises — they happen slowly then suddenly.  

The first book, 2020, tracks events in the United States before the 2020 presidential election.  There are characters that live through the 3 novels, several of which are mentors to Chandler.  The pace of 2020 starts slow since Chandler’s learning in addition to the characters transmitting social messages to the reader.  The second half of the book accelerates wildly towards a climactic finish.  It will leave readers wondering if such a thing could really happen.

The second novel is called Rebellium and starts immediately after the first ends.  It is a reaction to what happens in the first one.  It is faster-paced than 2020 and introduces a character that will really make you look differently at the world around you.  The third novel is called Division and is paced faster than the second, again to mimic real life crises.  

The novels deal with politics, financial crisis, cyber terror and the media’s role in all of it.  The novels are a cautionary tale of the US’ future.  Much like my non-fiction work, you will be forced to think about the world around you.  The novel series features many locations I have personally visited or lived so it contributes to the texture of the story.  


I have a total of 3 non-fiction and 3 fiction books and 3 on audio.

Most writers I know are voracious readers. What kind of books do you like to read? What's your favorite book?

You’re spot on with that observation.  I read all the time.  Most of my reading has been non-fiction though in the last few years, fiction has consumed more of my reading time.  I’ve read many books on economics, finance, commodity trading, government and what I’ll term sociological/societal issues.  

In the fiction realm, I’ve enjoyed Dan Brown and Tom Clancy.  I don’t know that I have a favorite book as such.

Let's play a quick game of "This or That".
Real books or EbooksI’m gonna fudge on the first one.  There’s nothing like the feel of a book in your hands.  That said, I have a strong technology orientation and love the portability of e-books.  But if it’s my last day on Earth, I’ll take the real book.
Coffee or TeaDon’t drink coffee so I’d have to say tea, herbal please!
Sweet or Savory: Savory!
Dogs or CatsDogs.  I’ve never owned a cat and am mildly allergic to them!
Summer or WinterSummer.  I’m originally from Panama where it’s summer all the time.  I like the idea of wearing shorts and light shirts and having an ocean at my beckon call.
Morning or NightMorning.  There are few things as profound as watching the sun rise or the glint of sunlight bouncing off something aesthetically pleasing.  I’ve spent a few miles on my road bicycle in the early morning hours.

Would you mind telling us about your writing style? Such as: Do you have a routine? Do you need silence or blaring music? Early morning writing or late night writing?

I can write at any time.  Sometimes if I’m reading something (on my tablet), I might get an idea that I can use for a book, and I’ll open a note application and jot it down.  Or I might be on a trip and make a mental note of something, or take a picture of it for later reference…gotta love cell phone cameras!  Given the choice, I’ll take writing in the morning, however.

Do you have a favorite "writing" snack?

I don’t snack much so I guess I don’t.

Which do you think is the hardest to write: the first sentence or the last one?

The last one.  I always worry about how a story ends.  Does it have to be dramatic?  Does it just fade off into the sunset?  My novel series ends with the protagonist, Chandler Scott, engaged in reflection, thinking about his involvement in the latest crisis and what may lie ahead.

What is your biggest distraction while writing?

The computer and any open browser windows or email notifications.

What is the best writing advice you've ever received?

Honestly, I wish I could say that someone sat me down and conveyed their author wisdom.  This has not happened, sadly.  I’m a self-taught person in many disciplines so much of what I’ve done is by research and experimentation.

Do you have any advice for new writers?

Read, read, and read before you venture into it.  I don’t just mean read about how to be a writer, but read as in educate yourself and learn the language.  Language is being diluted with the profusion of social media channels available for expression.  Of necessity these channels are brief (140 characters) or limited in other ways.  This limits the extension of thought.  I often see misspelled words on TV from news outlets in their headlines or in the tickers running at the bottom of the screen.

Once you start writing, do it for fun instead of commercial gain.  The advent of indie authors is good news and bad news, especially from a supply perspective.  Also, publishing a book costs $$$ unless you’re willing to assume many of the tasks yourself.

What's next for you? What do your readers have to look forward to?

My next project will probably be recording the third book in the novel series, Division.  The audio market is an untapped frontier for indie authors and frankly, some people have more time to listen to a book than to read one.  

There is another novel I’ve contemplated that will be a thriller/sci-fi tale with the theme of death.  I suspect if I finish that novel, it will make people think about their mortality in a different way.

Where can we connect with you? Tell us where to find you online.

My author site is www.JimMosquera.com.  There you’ll find links to my books, my own e-book store where I sell EPUB titles with good prices, and other resources.  



Thursday, August 31, 2017

Author Spotlight: Cherime MacFarlane



Today, Cherime MacFarlane joins me for an interview. She's a talented, multi-genre author who can capture a reader with a single sentence. I've read Highland Light, and my review will be posted at the end. But first, the interview.



Tell us a little bit about you. Where are you from? What kind of books do you write? How many books have you written? Do you set your stories in the area you live in?

I was born in New Orleans. We moved quite a bit, but mostly through the Eastern Seaboard, the South and out to the West Coast. I’m an Alaskan transplant and love it up here. I’ve also traveled through the UK and Ireland. The love of my life was from Glasgow, Scotland. 
So far, the count is around thirty books and several short stories. 

As far as genres go, it’s a mixed bag; contemporary romance, historical romance, fantasy and apocalyptic with a dash of supernatural thrown in. The Copper River Romances are all set in modern day Alaska. The Bressoffs of Alaska is a historical series set in 1800s Alaska. The MacGrough Clan spans time in Scotland from the 1300s until modern times. And the clan has a healthy dash of the second sight.

Most writers I know are voracious readers. What kind of books do you like to read? What’s your favorite book?

Favorite book I’ll take first. That has to be the Dragon Riders of Pern and the other that vies for second place is Crystal Singer. As you can probably guess from what I write, I’ll read almost anything except for erotica with no plot whatsoever and I do not read horror. Life can be horrible enough.

Let’s play a quick game of “This or That”. 
Real books or e-books? E-books.
Coffee or tea? Usually coffee, but I do drink tea.
Sweet or savory? Sweet.
Dogs or cats? Dogs and cats.
Summer or winter? An Alaska summer is to die for when the sun is out.
Morning or night? Morning so early it’s still dark. 

Would you mind telling us about your writing style? Such as: Do have a routine? Do you need complete silence or blaring music? Early morning writing or late night writing?
The only routine I have is the gym, then breakfast for myself and the critters. Music or lack thereof depends on the book and where my head is at that moment. Early morning writing is always the best. 

      Do you have a favorite “writing” snack?
      Toast and butter. 

Which do you think is the hardest to write: the first sentence or the last one?
The last. 


What is your biggest distraction while writing?   Facebook.

What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received?
Get it out there.

Do you have any advice for new writers?
Do not shy away from a new experience unless it will land you in jail or the hospital.

What’s next for you? What do your readers have to look forward to?
I do have a favorite couple, a young and his very large, mute, telepathic cat from Brain Waves. Cat and CoDee have left the desert world they met on and have embarked on a life as space traders. I’m two thirds finished with their newest adventure. They are a bonded pair but not able to physically join. But their emotional and telepathic connection makes up for a great deal. And I want to go back to what will be Scotland and the Eilan Water series. Ualan of The Other Side of Dusk promised to help Aed steal the woman he must have from Ireland. It is going to be a rough trip. 


Where can we connect with you? Tell is where to find you online.




FROM AMAZON: HIGHLAND LIGHT is a historical romance set in 1308 during the Scottish war for independence.

A young Scots girl cannot find a man who appreciates a headstrong plain woman. A small group of Knights Templar escape to Scotland to hide and start new lives. Among them is a young man, a ward of the Master of the Temple. The men have brought a treasure to Scotland. In exchange for a large share of the treasure, the knights may marry and be adopted into certain clans. No one must know of the agreement. Each man has a duty to the clan they are adopted into, and a duty owed to Robert The Bruce.

One young man has been with the Templars since the age of ten. He knows nothing of relationships or women. Their wedding is a business arrangement. Having no experience of sex or marriage, the young couple make a game of loving and learn of life together.

Let the games begin.

MY REVIEW: This the first book by Cherime MacFarlane that I've read. Without giving spoilers, I enjoyed the twist in the beginning as well as Gideon's inexperience--that's something not often seen in a romance. You can see the love bloom between Gideon and Ailene, and you come to care about them. While Gideon fights with Robert the Bruce in the war against England, Ailene finds herself keeping the glen safe for him. There are a couple of adventures that had me holding my breath, and the twist at the end was unexpected. I enjoyed reading Highland Light. I think anyone who likes books in this time period will too.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

TEASE ME SPOTLIGHT & GIVEAWAY


Welcome to the Tease Me Spotlight and Giveaway! This giveaway runs from 8/29 to 9/5!

Inside are some wonderful teasers from some of our favorite authors! Check them out. To enter the giveaway all you have to do is share them!
There are links to their work below the teasers as well in case you want to pick up a couple new summer reads!
Enter to win up to $100 in Amazon Giftcards! (three winners)!
Check out the participating authors and enter the giveaway!
**Please note BONUS entries will require you have access to Twitter**