Friday, May 31, 2013

Celebrate the Small Things: 5/31

The things that have gotten me through this annoying week:

1)  Chocolate.
2)  Air-conditioning.
3)  FB friends.
4)  A husband who occasionally makes good suggestions.
5)  The hope that next week will be better.
6)  More chocolate. 
7)  Much more chocolate.  (I should  own stock in a chocolate company ... except I'd eat all my dividends.)

This post is part of VikLit's blog hop, Celebrate the Small Things. To be part of this blog hop, all you have to do is follow the link and put your name on the Mr.Linky list, and then be sure to post every Friday about something you're grateful  for that week.  It can be about writing or family or school or general life.  This is the funnest and easiest blog hop ever!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Review: The Cult of Me by Michael Brookes

Blurb of The Cult of Me from Goodreads:

For too long he dwelt apart, watched those who passed him by. With his unique abilities he entered their minds and inflicted terrible suffering upon them. They didn't even know who he was. The game has lasted for years, but now the game has become stale. On an impulse he decides to make a final and very public last stand. After surrendering himself to the police he enacts his plan to seize the prison for his final bloody act. There he discovers that he's not as unique as he once thought.

My favorite books combine a great story with a piercing look at society and the human condition, and The Cult of Me does this brilliantly.

It’s the story of a killer, but Michael Brookes uses no tired clich├ęs, no supernatural possession, no born-the-spawn-of-the-devil, and no mental illness to explain his unnamed narrator’s bad behavior.  The character’s perfectly sane, just completely amoral.  He possesses a psychic power enabling him to read the minds, and later control the thoughts and actions, of those around him.  In the first half of the book, the author adroitly balances the current story (where the character’s in prison awaiting trial) with childhood experiences and the slow increase of his powers and disaffection with society.  With the exception of his mother’s violent death, there are no moments that catapult the narrator into hating society.  Rather, it’s the fact he has too much power and no normal societal constraints that create this “monster.”

In 1953, Jerome Bixby wrote a story called “It’s a Good Life” that was made into a Twilight Zone episode of the same name in 1961 (not to mention being voted one of the 20 best stories ever written by SFWA).  It’s about a boy who has mental powers, but lacking sufficient maturity and empathy for others, forces his family and town to fulfill his every juvenile wish.  He isn’t exactly evil; he’s just a spoiled narcissist.

The most fascinating thing about The Cult of Me is it explores the idea of what might happen if this type of character grew up.

Aristotle theorized that, by nature, man is blind to morality and inherently an amoral creature.  Freud believed that man was born impulsive, at the mercy of his unconscious drives -- his “id” -- selfish, irrational, and blind to the world.  It’s society that must teach men to stifle these impulses and conform to societal norms of right and wrong.

Since ancient times, the two most powerful influences on socialization have been religion and the rule of law.  And these are exactly what Brookes chooses to set against his “amoral man” -- the Church, symbolized by Friar Francis, and the law, embodied by Hammond, an ex-military man and prison guard.  Unable to force the narrator to feel guilt or to change, they try to enlist him in a greater cause: the destruction of an even more dangerous man who threatens to end the world.

Keeping with his arrogant and self-serving ways, the narrator pretends to go along with the plan while seeking a way to escape.  But a surprise encounter with the villain stirs up a thirst for vengeance, almost a competitive lust, that sets the narrator on the path to a pulse-pounding showdown.

The book is filled with unexpected twists and turns, guaranteed to keep you reading.  Despite being not-quite-likeable, the narrator is at times charming, funny, and always easy to understand.  He could probably be any of us on certain days when we'd like to sear an exceptionally rude stranger with our imaginary laser death-glance.  (You know you have those days! lol)  There are a few bumps before the ending.  At the three-quarters mark, the story bogs down with excessive details about the character and his monk cohorts plotting to overcome the antagonist and the character slowly learning psychic techniques.  But the shocking ending is perfect for the book and opens up the possibility of sequels.

The Cult of Me is clever and entertaining. Well worth the read.

Buy Links for The Cult of Me:

Friday, May 24, 2013

Celebrating My CPs

June will mark the month I began my writing journey four years ago.  I had a pipe-dream about writing a novel and wanted to learn how to go about it, so I joined a writing site.  Actually, I've joined many over the years, but I was lucky enough to find one site and one writing group that is really, really special...

  • There are nine of us -- seven women and two men.
  • We live all over the globe, from New Zealand and Australia, to the Middle East, to the Midwest and Western U.S.
  • Three have already published books with indie presses or epubbers.
  • Two others now have agents and/or book contracts and will publish this year.
  • One always makes the first cut of ABNA and once even made it to the semi-finals!
  • It's an eclectic bunch:  professors, teachers, managers, IT specialists, and stay-at-home moms.  Because of their varied life experiences, each one brings his/her own critiquing abilities to the group, ensuring that our manuscripts get feedback on all different levels.
  • Each one is a super-talented writer who's not afraid of criticism and works hard to improve their craft.

And most important, we support each other.  We help brainstorm new ideas, offer advice during writer's block, and commiserate over rejections.  We offer cheerful support during frustrating times and joyous celebration when things go right.  We lean on each other and each of us is stronger for it.

To my wonderful CPs -- Bill, Breanna, Cynthia, Dave, Kate, Kim, Lori, and Tania -- 

You've enriched my life in ways I never expected and made my writing journey so much easier and more worthwhile. Meeting and working with you has been the very best part of my writing journey.  I'm grateful every day for your friendship and support.

Thank you. 

This post is part of VikLit's blog hop, Celebrate the Small Things. To be part of this blog hop, all you have to do is follow the link and put your name on the Mr.Linky list, and then be sure to post every Friday about something you're grateful  for that week.  It can be about writing or family or school or general life.  This is the funnest and easiest blog hop ever!

Friday, May 17, 2013

MMM: My Horror Confessions

Confession time!  When I watch films and TV,  if there are dead things wandering around and gore spurting through the air -- that's great!  But I like a generous helping of comedy in there, too.  Sounds weird, right?  Combining horror with comedy?  But I just adore it!  Here are some of my favorite Black Comedy/Horror TV shows and movies.

Black Comedy-Horror TV shows:

In this past week's MMM posts, I've already mentioned some of my favorites: The Addams Family,  Kolchak,  Buffy,  Angel, and Supernatural.  But there's one more, perhaps a bit more Comedy than Horror:

Pushing Daisies (2007-2009)
Ned (Lee Pace) has the ability to return the dead to life with one touch. If he touches them a second time within one minute, it returns them to death. If he doesn't touch them a second time within one minute, someone else will die in their place. He uses his power to ask the "dead" who killed them, thus solving their murders. 
Interesting Note:  Pushing Daisies won much critical acclaim, garnering a total of 57 award nominations and winning 18, including 7 Emmy wins.


Black Comedy-Horror Films:
(It's a long list, so kick back and enjoy!)

Abbot & Costello met every creepy thing from Frankenstein to the Mummy!  C'mon. How can you go wrong with Abbott & Costello?

The Fearless Vampire Killers (1967) This is a campy movie, but it was written and directed by Roman Polanski, who directed such notable films as: "Rosemary’s Baby," "Chinatown," "Tess," and "The Pianist."

Young Frankenstein (1974) Another very campy movie, written by Mel Brooks, starring Gene Wilder. A real Comedy-Horror classic.

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) Great surrealistic sets and actions in the dream sequences.  And c’mon. Who doesn’t love Freddy?

Ghostbusters (1984) Director: Ivan Reitman; Starring: Dan Akroyd, Bill Murray, Harold Ramis and Sigourney Weaver.  Gooey ectoplasm, a ghost vacuum cleaner, and a giant Pillsbury Doughboy monster.

Gremlins (1984) With Zach Galligan and Phoebe Cates, and the cutest creature since tribbles, Gizmo.

Fright Night (1985) I think the original beats the remake especially since Roddy MacDowell plays a very funny Creature Feature movie host.

Re-Animator (1985) Written by H.P. Lovecraft. Really gross, bizarre and funny!

The Return of the Living Dead (1985) The zombies in this movie were the first ever to moan, “Braaaaiins” and eat the brains of their victims.

The Lost Boys (1987) Kiefer Sutherland, Jason Patric, Dianne Wiest and other good actors starred in this one.

The Witches of Eastwick (1987) Jack Nicholson as the devil. It doesn’t get better than that.

Beetlejuice (1988) Awesome ghost world-building in this one and great actors. This is my favorite film from Michael Keaton.

I Love You to Death (1990) Not really Horror, but definitely Black Comedy, and I’m a big Kevin Kline fan.

Tremors (1990) This was just a really fun romp!

Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992) The one that started it all.

Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) Tim Burton’s creepy masterpiece.

Fargo (1996) Won Oscars for Best Actress (Frances McDormand) and Best Original Screenplay.

From Dusk Till Dawn (1996) It’s got George Clooney, Salma Hayek, and a bunch of naked freaky sex-vampire women! How can you go wrong?

Deep Rising (1998) The monster can kill you by coming up through the toilet when you're doing your business.  Tell me that idea doesn't totally freak you out!

Idle Hands (1999) The friend sticks his head back on with duct tape. How great is that?

Lake Placid (1999) Betty White feeds cows to a giant alligator, and Oliver Platt is just funny!

Scary Movie (2000) I can’t begin to list all the funny stuff in here.

Evolution (2001) David Duchovny and his use of Head & Shoulders shampoo is unforgettable.

Shaun of the Dead (2004) Except for Monty Python, British humor eludes me, but I know a lot of people love this film.

Corpse Bride (2005) Another masterpiece by Tim Burton.

Slither (2006) Aliens, zombies, mutant monsters, and Nathan Fillion. You can’t go wrong with this one.

Planet Terror (2007) A little violent for some people, but I loved it!  I'll never forget Bruce Willis as a zombie.

Zombieland (2009) Just awesome!

Tucker & Dave vs. Evil (2010) This one is a comic version of hillbillies who kill people, only they don’t. Really.

Which ones are your favorites?
If you haven’t watched these awesome movies, you really should!

Thanks so much for joining me on my TV and Film  Horror retrospective from the 1950s to the 2000s!  I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.  :-)

Links to my previous blogfest posts:
MMM: Horror Nostalgia 2000s
MMM: Horror Nostalgia 1990s
MMM: Horror Nostalgia 1980s
MMM: Horror Nostalgia 1970s
MMM: Horror Nostalgia 1960s
MMM: Horror Nostalgia 1950s

Join the May Monster Madness Blog Hop. We're hopping for seven days, from May 11-17, in celebration of  monsters, mayhem, and all things Horror related!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

MMM: Horror Nostalgia 2000s

Incredibly, many Horror shows from the 90s survived and ran through the 2000s while even more amazing shows went on the air during the decade from 2000-2009.  It was a Horror hey-day!

Horror TV Shows of the 2000s:

Dead Zone (2002-2007)
Based on the Stephen King novel, Johnny Smith (Anthony Michael Hall) wakes six years after going into a coma to find that the woman he was engaged to has married someone else and the son they share doesn't know him. While trying to come to grips with these events, he also discovers that he has somehow acquired the ability to see into people's lives by simply touching them.

Carnivale (2003-2005)
Set during the Great Depression in 1934, a young man named Ben Hawkins with amazing psychic abilities takes a job in a traveling carnivale and finds he’s not the only one with strange powers. He begins having disturbing dreams that convince him he’s God's emissary on Earth in the fight between good and evil.

Ghost Whisperer (2005-2010)
Melinda Gordon (Jennifer Love Hewitt) communicates with dead people who have messages for those they had left behind.

Medium (2005-2011)
Based on the real life experiences of medium Allison Dubois, this show starred Patricia Arquette (sister of Scream’s David Arquette and actress Rosanna Arquette) who uses her gifts of seeing and talking to dead people to assist the district attorney's office in solving crimes.

Supernatural (2005-2013)
The Winchester brothers, played by Jared Padalcki and Jensen Ackles (yeah, baby!), travel the U.S. in their black muscle-car, searching out and destroying supernatural entities.
Interesting Notes:

  • Jared Padalecki played Dean Forester on the series, "The Gilmore Girls." Jensen Ackles was on "Smallville" (as "Jason Teague" - 20 episodes), on "Dawson's Creek" (as "C.J." - 12 episodes), and on "Dark Angel" (as "Alec/X5-494" - regular cast member).
  • Sam and Dean's car is a 1967 Chevrolet Impala. There are actually five of them used to shoot the series.
  • In one of the first episodes, Dean's cellphone number was given, and it was a real number. If you called it, you would hear a message from Jensen Ackles that went, "This is Dean Winchester. If this is an emergency, leave a message. If you are calling about 11-2-83, page me with your coordinates." The number is 1-866-907-3235. (Info from from

Destination Truth (2007-2012)
Host: Josh Gates
Reality show where a group of investigators travel the world to investigate myths and supernatural occurrences.

Fringe (2008-2013)
An off-the-wall scientist, his son, and an FBI agent investigate unexplained events involving the paranormal. The FBI section is called the "Fringe Division" and is based in Boston. As the series develops, they find the strange events lead them to believe there’s a parallel universe.

True Blood (2008-2013)
Based on the novels by Charlaine Harris, “True Blood” follows the lives of vampires, shape-changers, witches, and a psychic waitress in the fictional town of Bon Temps (French for Good Times).
Interesting Note: Every episode of True Blood is titled after the name of a popular song, many of which are religious.

Vampire Diaries (2009-2013)
Based on the novels by L.J. Smith, the series focuses on a teen girl who is loved by two vampire brothers. Vampires, witches, and werewolves all make an appearance in a show that has an amazing amount of plot twists per episode.

Horror Films of the 2000s:

American Psycho (2000)
Final Destination (2000)
Ginger Snaps (2000)
Pitch Black (2000)
Jeepers Creepers (2001)
The Others (2001)
Thirteen Ghosts (2001)
28 Days Later (2002)
Dog Soldiers (2002)
Eight Legged Freaks (2002)
Red Dragon (2002)
Resident Evil (2002)
The Ring (2002)
Dreamcatcher (2003)
The Grudge (2003)
Underworld (2003)
Dawn of the Dead (2004)
Saw (2004)
Shaun of the Dead (2004)
Constantine (2005)
Dark Water (2005)
Hostel (2005)
Land of the Dead (2005)
Silent Hill (2006)
Slither (2006)
Stay Alive (2006)
The Wicker Man (2006)
30 Days of Night (2007)
Deathproof (2007)
I Am Legend (2007)
The Invasion (2007)
The Mist (2007)
Planet Terror (2007)
The Reaping (2007)
Cloverfield (2008)
Doomsday (2008)
Quarantine (2008)
Drag Me To Hell (2009)
Jennifer’s Body (2009)
The Lovely Bones (2009)
Pandorum (2009)
Paranormal Activity (2009)
Splice (2009)
Zombieland (2009)

Instead of doing tomorrow's final post on the most recent TV shows and Films, for the last day of May Monster Madness I'm going to tell my deepest, darkest secrets.  Come back tomorrow for My Horror Confessions!

Join the May Monster Madness Blog Hop. We're hopping for seven days, from May 11-17, in celebration of  monsters, mayhem, and all things Horror related!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

MMM: Horror Nostalgia 1990s

The 90s were a boom time for Horror TV and movies.  There were many fun, high-quality shows -- just take a look!

Horror TV shows from the 90s:

Forever Knight (1992-1996)
An 800-year-old vampire, Nick Knight (Geraint Wyn Davies) works as a homicide detective while endeavoring to keep the fact that he’s a vampire from his co-workers. By doing so, he hopes to make up for his past evil deeds and become mortal again.
Interesting Note:  Ten years after this Canadian show ended, it’s premise was revived in America in a show called “Moonlight” about a vampire detective.  That show only lasted a year.

The X-Files (1993-2002)
Cast:  David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson
Two FBI agents, Fox Mulder the believer and Dana Scully the skeptic, investigate the strange and unexplained while hidden forces work to impede their efforts.

Interesting Notes:
  • Recurring use of the number 1013.  Ten Thirteen is the name of Chris Carter's production company; his birthday is October 13, 1956.  The number 1121 also appears often; it's creator Chris Carter's wife, Dori's, birthday.
  • The character Senator Richard Matheson is named after Richard Matheson, whose writing inspired "Kolchak: The Night Stalker," the show that inspired Chris Carter to create "The X-Files."
  • Props from Mulder's X-Files office are currently on display at the Hollywood Entertainment Museum in Los Angeles.  According to the museum, the famous "I Want to Believe" UFO poster from the office continually had to be replaced on the set as copies kept disappearing.  The poster on display at the museum is reportedly one of the last available copies of the original set-used posters.
  • In the early years of the series, Mulder is a firm believer in extraterrestrials and Scully is skeptical.  In reality, Gillian Anderson is the believer and David Duchovny is the skeptic. 

Poltergeist: The Legacy, TV Series (1996-1999)
"The Legacy," a secret society that began many centuries ago, accumulates knowledge and artifacts to fight against the world’s evil.  The Legacy resides in San Francisco in a castle-like house on Angel Island.  Dr. Derek Rayne (Derek de Lint) heads up the team comprised of psychiatrist, Rachel Corrigan (Helen Shaver); priest, Philip Callaghan (Patrick Fitzgerald); ex-Navy SEAL, Nick Boyle (Martin Cummins); and researcher/psychic Alexandra Moreau (Robbi Chong).


Millenium (1996-1999)
This series was created by Chris Carter (“X-Files”) and stars Lance Henrikson (the android in “Aliens”).  Henrikson plays Frank Black, an ex-FBI profiler who works for the mysterious Millennium Group that takes a special interest in serial killers and end of the world prophecies.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003)
A teen moves from the dangerous streets of L.A. to quiet Sunnydale only to learn that every possible horrible creature calls Sunnydale home, and only she can destroy them
Interesting Notes:

  • Series star Sarah Michelle Gellar initially auditioned for the role of Cordelia Chase, and Charisma Carpenter, who plays Cordelia, auditioned for the role of Buffy.  Others who auditioned for Buffy and got other roles include Julie Benz (Darla),  Elizabeth Anne Allen (Amy Madison),  Julia Lee (Anne) and Mercedes McNab (Harmony).  Other actresses considered for the lead role of Buffy also included Katie Holmes and Selma Blair.
  • Bianca Lawson, who played Kendra the Vampire Slayer in season 2, originally auditioned for the role of Cordelia.
  • Nathan Fillion (Caleb) originally auditioned for the role of Angel when the show was first being cast in late 1996.
  • Danny Strong (Jonathan) originally auditioned for the role of Xander.
  • Ryan Reynolds was originally offered the role of Xander.
  • Seth Green played Oz, the boyfriend of Alyson Hannigan.  He also played her boyfriend in "My Stepmother is an Alien." 

The Hunger (1997-2000)
Host:  David Bowie
This show was a horror anthology like “Tales From the Darkside,” but with more lurid and erotic stories.

Angel (1999-2004)
The vampire Angel (David Boreanaz), cursed with a soul, moves to Los Angeles and aids people with supernatural-related problems while questing for his own redemption.  A spin-off of the extremely successful “Buffy.”

So Weird (1999-2001) 
Disney Channel: Fiona “Fi” Phillips (Cara DeLizia) experiences supernatural and paranormal things like vampires, werewolves and ghosts while traveling around the country with her brother, her friend and her mom.  Then she posts her experiences on her website called "So Weird."

Horror Films of the 1990s:

Arachnophobia (1990)
Darkman (1990)
Flatliners (1990)
It (1990)
Misery (1990)
Night of the Living Dead (1990)
Cape Fear (1991)
Phantom of the Opera (1991)
Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992)
Candyman (1992)
Dracula (1992)
The Hand that Rocks the Cradle (1992)
The Lawnmower Man (1992)
Body Snatchers (1993)
Hocus Pocus (1993)
Jurassic Park (1993)
Interview with the Vampire (1994)
The Stand (1994)
Wolf (1994) (I never knew Jack Nicholson could be such a sexy werewolf!)
Copycat (1995)
The Craft (1996)
Diabolique (1996)
The Frighteners (1996)
From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)
Scream (1996)
Thinner (1996)
Anaconda (1997)
I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)
Mimic (1997)
The Relic (1997)
Blade (1998)
The Faculty (1998)
Godzilla (1998)

The Astronaut’s Wife (1999)
The Blair Witch Project (1999)
Bone Collector (1999)
Deep Blue Sea (1999)
End of Days (1999)
House on Haunted Hill (1999)
The Mummy (1999)
Sleepy Hollow (1999)
Stir of Echoes (1999)
Storm of the Century (1999)

These TV shows and films are some of the best ever made,  but I have to say I love the ones of the 2000s even more.  Join me tomorrow and see if you agree!

Join the May Monster Madness Blog Hop. We're hopping for seven days, from May 11-17, in celebration of  monsters, mayhem, and all things Horror related!
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