Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Writing Fight Scenes [kindle edition]

I usually don't blog on this day, but I had to break tradition. I've been on the look out for new books on writing fight scenes. For a long time now, there have only two of them: Writing Fight Scenes by Rayne Hall and Write The Fight Right by Alan Baxter. I just read at Book View Cafe about a new book on writing fight scenes.

Have you ever:

*Held a sword?
*Taken a karate class?
*Punched another person in the face?

Even if your answer is "no," you can still write a good fight scene. In this guide, fantasy novelist Marie Brennan will show you how. Drawing on her experience with fencing, stage combat choreography, Okinawan martial arts, and above all writing, she lays out the components that turn the strikes into a compelling story.

From purpose to tactics to prose, Writing Fight Scenes walks you through the anatomy and execution of combat on the page.


Purchase at: Amazon

Since this book doesn't have any reviews, I don't know how good it is. It's only $2.99, so I'll get it and tell you about it. I'll keep you posted. If you've read it, let me know how it is ;)

Monday, September 23, 2013

"Wonderful Castles and Mansions That Are Haunted by Tragic Ghosts"

Knowing history of the real world helps so much with your world building. Looking at pictures of actual place gives you ideas for your settings. 

I love looking up haunted mansions and reading about the ghosts. They've inspired the building in my world. Some of the stories behind these haunted places are more interesting than some novels I've read. Also, let's say, you have some supernatural element in your story. Reading about "real" hauntings help you create a chilling atmosphere. You can't just rely on movies. 

One thing I ran into while making my world map was architectural style. It never occurred to me until then, but mansions and castles are defined by a stylistic period i.e. buildings from the same style period will have similar characteristics. Gothic buildings have high pointed arches and flying buttress. 
For my village map, I had to keep in mind that the buildings needed to have similar characteristics or explain, in the story, why they didn't. 

Last week, i09 put together this amazing list of haunted mansions and castles complete with pictures and the story behind the hauntings. This is the largest list of castles and mansions I've come across so far. The pictures are awesome. This article is a good starting point for more in depth research. World building aside, I just like a good ghost story and looking at historic buildings.

"Raynham Hall, built in the 1630s, Norfolk, Great Britain
The sister of Robert Walpole, the first Prime Minister of Great Britain was the second wife of a British Whig statesman named Charles Townshend, who was famous for his violent temper. When Townshend discovered that his wife had cheated him with Lord Wharton he locked the Lady to her rooms. She remained there until her death in 1726. Her ghost was first observed in 1835, and the famous photograph was taken by Captain Hubert C. Provand in 1936."
Read more atWonderful Castles and Mansions That Are Haunted by Tragic Ghosts
One day, I'm going to visit all those places.  

Monday, September 16, 2013

Movie Review: Insidious Chapter 2


I love supernatural horror! Insidious Chapter 2 was amazing. It was just as good as the first one. I'm a bit weary of saying it was better. But, it didn't fall prey to the curse of the sequel. If you liked Insidious, you'll like Chapter 2. Like the first one, Insidious Chapter 2 had an open ending. I'm so hoping there's gonna be a third movie.

I've been trying to determine whether it was scary. I mean, I'm a terrible judge of what is or isn't scary. Insidious, the first movie, was amazing, but I didn't find it scary. I'll say Chapter 2 was chilling. It had some good "make you jump" moments. It was amazing at building suspense. Unlike most supernatural horror stories, the haunts were non-stop. It didn't have a period where nothing happened.

I was nervous about the unveiling of the "monster." In the first movie, you had this build-up of the black figure with the red face haunting the little boy. When you actually saw it, the thing was comical. It almost ruined the movie for me. I mean it was so bad. I was afraid they'd do that again. They didn't. The ghosts in Chapter 2 were creepy not comical.

That room full of bodies was intense. I liked it.

It didn't look exactly like this in the movie, but it's close enough. The atmosphere was darker. More importantly, Chapter 2 had no gore. Despite the fact that people had walked into a hidden room, full of decaying bodies, we didn't see the actual bodies. Rows of sitting dead people covered in white sheets have far more impact than uncovered decaying bodies.

Even better, the plot was interesting. I liked how it revisited the first movie. We spent more time in The Further.
Still don't like the name. The Further, really? So anticlimactic. It has got to be the most uncreative name in history. For such a haunting place, it has such a dull name. Chapter 2 added a time travel element to The Further. The movie never explained how this was possible, but they were consistent with it so, they didn't need to.

Insidious Chapter 2 had a few funny moments. I was surprised, but it didn't take away from the creepiness. The problem I had with it wasn't the actual movie, but with the audience. With a PG-13 rating, you're gonna get children talking through the movie or screaming dramatically. It was so annoying.

I love this genre, but how many ways can a ghost or demon torment a family? We have electronic toys going off on their own, a piano playing themselves, a ghost slapping people unconscious, phantom knocking, a ghost appearing only on camera. It creepy, but it's not original. I'll admit, though, a "ghost" slapping the mess out of two people was pretty epic.

It gotten be tough to release a movie like this and try to not make it look like all the other supernatural horror movies. Even worse, this one had to follow The Conjuring, which pretty much has the same premise. Though Insidious Chapter 2 was good, it didn't add anything to the genre. It was a fun watch.  I'd see it again, once it's available on Amazon, and I don't re-watch movies often.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Friday the 13th

What does this day really mean? I know people treat it like it's the day the gates of Hell opens up. I'm one of those weird people who likes this day because of its horror association. 

My only experience with Friday the 13th involves a machete wielding masked man...zombie...demon who likes to chop up stupid people doing dirty deeds. Why is it, in slasher flicks, the only smart/entertaining people are the ones doing the killing? 

For all you teenagers and college students wanting to go out tonight to the middle of nowhere for some debauchery, I'd suggest you wait until tomorrow. Please stay away from lakes, old campgrounds and a house where a child named Jason Voorhees grew up.


You know I had to do that.

So, what does Friday the 13th mean? People have a lot of theories. I was surprised. I had expected a clear cut answer, but people really don't know when this superstition started.


The fear of Friday the 13th is called “paraskevidekatriaphobia,” a word derived from the Greek words Paraskev√≠(Friday) anddekatre√≠s(thirteen), attached tophobia(fear). According to the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in Asheville, North Carolina, fear of Friday the 13th affects between 17 and 21 million Americans.

“Paraskevidekatriaphobia” seriously!? What normal person can pronounce this?


Unlucky Number 13

One theory states that that thirteen is an unlucky number and that Friday is an unlucky day. In numerology, the number twelve is considered the number of completeness, as reflected in the twelve months of the year, twelve signs of the zodiac, twelve hours of the clock, twelve tribes of Israel, twelve apostles of Jesus, twelve gods of Olympus, etc., whereas the number thirteen was considered irregular, transgressing this completeness. 


Biblical 

There is also a superstition derive from the Last Supper that having thirteen people seated at a table will result in the death of one of the diner guests since Jesus was arrested and crucified after the Passover meal He shared with His twelve disciples. Friday was the day on which Eve offered Adam the forbidden fruit and Jesus was crucified.


Norse Mythology

12 gods were having a dinner party at Valhalla, their heaven. An uninvited 13th guest, the mischievous Loki, walked in. Once there, Loki arranged for Hoder, the blind god of darkness, to shoot Balder the Beautiful, the god of joy and gladness, with a mistletoe-tipped arrow. "Balder died and the whole Earth got dark. The whole Earth mourned. It was a bad, unlucky day." From that moment on, the number 13 has been considered ominous and foreboding.

Knights Templar

Another popular theory links the superstition to the demise of the Knights Templar, a monastic military order whose members were arrested by France’s King Philip IV on Friday, October 13, 1307. After employing torture techniques to compel the Templars to "confess" to wrongdoing, most were eventually executed and sympathizers of the Templars condemned Friday the 13th as an evil day.


Rome
In ancient Rome, witches reportedly gathered in groups of 12. The 13th was believed to be the devil. Also, Friday was execution day.


The Thirteenth Club

In 1880, The Thirteenth Club was formed to test superstitions surrounding Friday the 13th. They met on the thirteenth day of the month and would have 13 people sit at a dining table in room 13. Guest were often required to walk under ladders and break mirrors. The club eventually grew to have over 400 members. Other Thirteenth Clubs were formed across the US. Though nothing unusual or ghastly happened to its members, Friday the 13th is still seen as an unlucky day. 


Since I'm a dark fantasy writer and I love world building I have to point out, all these lovely details outlined above are awesome fodder for coming up with history and myths in your fantasy world. 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Movie Review: Riddick

Riddick was more like Pitch Black 2 though it did touch on what happened in The Chronicles of Riddick. It mentioned a character from Pitch Black and it went over my head, at first, since I hadn't seen that movie in awhile. Before seeing Riddick, you should brush up on the first movie of this franchise.

The first half of Riddick was like reading a book with a long exposition at the beginning. We only heard what was in Riddick's head since he spent most of the movie by himself. I'm not a huge fan of internal monologues. I need some character interaction. Aptly named, this movie was all about Riddick.

The other characters were there to make him look cool. They didn't add much else. Most were annoying. All were forgettable. Fortunately, Riddick is a strong enough character to carry a movie by himself. Out of all the movies from the franchise, this one focused a lot more on him.

As a dark fantasy writer, I'm always blown away by amazing world building. Riddick had it. I was most intrigued by the creatures.
That dog/hyena did me in. Those monsters with the weird tails had to have been one of the coolest things I had ever seen. I love unusual creatures and this movie definitely had them. It was all about Riddick, the creatures and the landscape.

The advanced tech wasn't too heavy. Like everything else, it was something fun to look at.

I know Riddick is supposed to be this savage, but I felt so bad for him. This man was injured so many times that even I felt the pain. Like seriously, what is he made of?! The movie wasn't unrealistic about it, though. He didn't get a serious injury and just shake it off like it was nothing.

This is a good movie to watch when you don't want to think about anything. It was violent without being over the top with it. The gore was manageable. The plot basic. It wasn't anything too grand. Not much in the way of character development, but it was enough to hold my attention for about an hour and a half. Riddick didn't blow me away. All I wanted was a fun night out at the movies and that's what I got. The Riddick franchise didn't gain or lose anything by adding this movie.


Friday, September 6, 2013

New Release

My new ebook, Visible Through Darkness, is now available on Amazon!




What if you were the only one? How strong would you be? 

Ethics, morals, compassion— what if they didn’t exist? What if the world treated those words as curses? Laws mean nothing. Commitment means nothing. Jade Greer’s parent taught her the old, moral, ways. She still clings to their teachings. The world rejects her. She has suffered. But, her storm is over. Or, is it?

Add it to Goodreads
-Excerpt-

While Jade weaved in and out of people, the man bounced off of them. He turned down a damn alley-like street and crashed into the opposite wall. 

The alcohol, or whatever toxic substance swimming in his blood, killed enough brain cells. Jade grabbed his collar and pulled. He fell sideways, instead, taking Jade with him. She sat up. He recovered faster than expected. He stood over her, phone in hand.  His lips curled in a smile she’d remember forever. He threw her phone at the ground. 

It shattered. Her dream of finding the source of that sensation died with it. 

His smile widened. His eyes rolled around in his head. He was going to say something that would ravage her already damaged body.

They were alone in a street she didn't recognize. Good. No one would interfere.

She lunged at him. He fell backwards. She straddled his chest and beat her fist and her frustrations into his face. No one would care what she did to him. He made her relive everything this world represented and everything she couldn't have. Her fists burned. No one would care. People were supposed to care. He wore a wedding ring. He had a wife and maybe children. This world didn't raise people to honor such commitments.

What Mom and Dad had was beautiful. She once wished for something like that. People like him turned that dream to ash.

She punched and punched. He stopped moving. Why was she born into such an ugly world? Why couldn't she be selfish like everyone else?

His face caved under her blows. Finally, something bent to her will. Her fist drilled though his skull. Jade’s blood sang. His head became bloody ground beef flecked with hard pieces. She punched concrete. She needed to stop. Her body wouldn't listen. Sharp pain slid up her arms. Stop. Gore splashed into her face. Stop. Her body froze.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Happy Labor Day

Can't believe Summer's over. It went by way too quickly! So tragic. Now, it's just gonna get colder.



Hope you all are having an awesome day!