Book Review: The Mourner’s Cradle by Tommy B. Smith

November 15, 2018 at 5:09 pm (writing)

HorrorAddicts.net

Review – The Mourner’s Cradle by Tommy B. Smith
4 out of 5 stars

By Chantal Boudreau

The Mourner’s Cradleoffers up an exciting start.  After an intriguing prologue, we are introduced to the novel’s protagonist, Anne Sharpe.  The young widow confronts an unwelcome guest at her husband’s funeral and later encounters an intruder at home.  She concludes this is all related to her late spouse’s research into “The Mourner’s Cradle” and sets off to finish what he started.

Her trip to Peru, with associates, Ruben and Raul, is filled with adventure and danger, thanks to run-ins with her husband’s adversaries and hostile terrain.  The story reminded me of a dark blend of Lara Croft meets Indiana Jones, if the tale were set on (and in) a snowy mountain.

For the most part, the novel was a thrilling ride and kept me entertained.  I enjoyed it’s fast pace and plucky…

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Come See Me at Hal-Con!

October 24, 2018 at 9:36 pm (Links, writing) (, , , , , , , , )

Although I won’t be attending the full weekend at Hal-Con, I will be making a couple of appearances on Sunday,  I will be offering up a solo presentation on alternate histories Sunday morning, and participating in the world-building panel put together by the Genre Writers of Atlantic Canada group Sunday afternoon.   Here is a schedule of Jules Verne Phantastical Society-themed and -sponsored presentations and workshops at Hal-Con:

Friday 26 Oct

1:00 p.m. room 501
Flash Fiction Workshop with Genre Writers of Atlantic Canada

2:00 p.m. room 103
Practical costuming with NERO

3:30 p.m. room 501
Tying History to your novel with Grossman and Wendig

[4:00 p.m. room 502
Librarians: the myth, the mystery]

6:00 p.m. room 106
Representation in SF and Fantasy, with Beiko and Little

6:30 p.m. room 501
Frankenstein at 200, with UKC and SMU professors! Happy birthday to the Modern Prometheus.

8:00 p.m. Grand Parade Square
Gothic Halifax Ghost ‘tour’ with Aulenback

Saturday 27 October

12:15 p.m. room 103
Cosplay and Diversity with Akakioga and Knightmage and Hamm

4:15 p.m. room 501
Ask a Linguist with Gardner

5:15 p.m. room 504
Tea Dueling Workshop with Aulenback

6:30 p.m. room 504
Margaret Cavendish’s Blazing World and the beginning of science fiction with Morris

7:00 p.m. room 103
Adding lighting and electronics to cosplay with Clarke and Hirtle

8:00 p.m. level 5 ballroom demo space
Mylar’s Old Time Fashioned Radio Program Showe

Sunday 28 October

10:45 a.m. room 506
Pasts That Never Were with Boudreau

1:00 p.m. room 502
Steampunk and Alternate History with Thompson

2:00 p.m. room 504
Fictional World-building with Genre Writers of Atlantic Canada

4:45 p.m. room 106
Gothic Monsters: Then and Now with DU

If you can be there Friday, as a writer, I highly recommend the GWOAC flash fiction workshop (I helped with one of the handouts) and Tying History to your novel with Grossman and Wendig (I so wish I could attend that one.)

I’m looking forward to seeing some of you there!

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Review – The Green and the Black by William Meikle

October 19, 2018 at 10:26 pm (dark fantasy, horror, Links, Reviews, writing) (, , , , , , , )

When I was growing up, I owned an encyclopedia of fairies that I loved to revisit on a regular basis. My favourites were some of the darker tales from the mines, such as those of the knockers and redcaps. I also had a fascination for rocks – I even joined the Dawson Geology Club in university and ended up a member of the Science Society despite the fact that I was an arts student at the time. For these reasons, and others, this book really spoke to me.

I could relate to the characters in the story, their excitement about the historic site (providing the setting for the story) and being from Atlantic Canada, I could appreciate how well the author described their surroundings. It was almost like venturing out on another geological field trip, abandoning civilization for the deep woods. Along with well-executed scene-setting and atmosphere, I also enjoyed the author’s method of tension-building. In my opinion, there aren’t enough horror stories anymore that do that as well as this one does. There’s too much focus on an intro “hook”, on gore, and on spectacle and not enough on the development of the psychological elements of horror. I prefer the slow build that establishes and then grows a sense of the eerie, so that the reader is given a chance to become invested in both the characters and the story-line before things go terribly wrong.

The only two very minor complaints I have about the book is that I would have preferred more character development for Bill and Doug, who felt a little two-dimensional, and I would have preferred to see at least one female character with a role other than just supporting ones … girlfriend and mother. I can understand the reasoning behind not including women in the field group because there are fewer women studying in those fields, but I can attest to the fact that they do exist and are becoming more common. I have female friends who are geologists, engineers, archeologists and botanists and they have done fieldwork. I think the added diversity would have been nice (but this is strictly a personal preference.)

This book was a quick, chilling, and entertaining read with an intriguing combination of the historic and the supernatural. Definitely worth my time and highly enjoyable. I would recommend it to horror and dark fantasy fans alike.

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Book Review: The Dark is Full of Monsters by Edward P. Cardillo

September 6, 2018 at 3:27 pm (writing)

HorrorAddicts.net

Review – The Dark is Full of Monsters by Edward P. Cardillo

By Chantal Boudreau

I love horror with monsters, supernatural…mutant…human monsters–it doesn’t matter–so I dove into this book really hoping I would enjoy it.  The premise did intrigue me–a ragtag group of inhabitants from a sleepy little town venture into the woods seeking a local urban legend cryptoid monster after a series of strange occurrences including a close encounter with the monster and the kidnapping of a neighborhood boy.  It had the makings of a good story.

Unfortunately, while it had a lot to offer, it didn’t quite hit the mark with me, but it might work for other readers out there.  I found character intro and development a little thin and that’s the most important aspect for me in a book.  The writing style was at times repetitive (for example far too many of the paragraphs began with…

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Summer Update – A Reading and More

August 24, 2018 at 3:21 am (horror, writing) (, , , , , )

I know I’ve been quiet this summer, but as usual, increased hours at work, outdoor activities and my garden has forced me into a bit of a blog hiatus. I do have a few things to mention.

Coming up this weekend, Sunday the 26th to be exact, I’m participating in Hal-Con’s reading series at the Halifax Central Library. The readings start at two in room 301 and I’ll be sharing an excerpt from “The Hack-Jack Prospect,” a cyberpunk fairy-tale mashup that was originally published in the Young Adventurers: Heroes, Explorers & Swashbucklers from Intrigue Publishing. Room. This will be the second session and this one is with guest, Elaine McCluskey. If you can make it, I hope to see you there.

My noir superhero story, “Amnesty” is now available in print in Crimson Streets #3. My horror story, “Scuttle” is akso available in the Abandon anthology, both released earlier this year.

And perhaps for future reference. I may be participating in as many as three presentations/panels ar Hal-Con proper this year. I’ll only be atteding on the Sunday, so we’ll see how things work out.

More news in the fall…

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Book Review: Naraka by Alessandro Manzetti

July 19, 2018 at 3:25 pm (writing)

HorrorAddicts.net

Naraka is not a novel, it’s an experience – a graphic, chaotic, mind-blowing experience.

It is not an experience intended for those faint of heart.  It is at times gory to an extreme, it is constantly profane, and sex is used more often as a weapon or a form of abuse or torture than for pleasure.  It focuses on cannibalism and the downfall of civilization.

But what else would you expect from a story about a woman who starts out life as a prostitute turned professional killer who is caught and sent to a prison on the moon where prisoners are used as meat, scientific subjects in genetic experiments or breeding stock to make more of the former and the latter.  It presents the reader with social commentary on what becomes of a society that has been deregulated to the point where crime is rampant, people act out of desperation…

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Book Review: GRUESOME, A Gathering of Nightmares

June 12, 2018 at 3:17 pm (writing)

HorrorAddicts.net

GRUESOME: A Gathering of Nightmares
by Terry M. West

One thing I like about anthologies and short story collections is that no two are ever alike. You can count on diversity, even in a collection from a single author.  That was also one thing I appreciated about this book.  While some themes were shared by a few of the stories, such as cannibalism and the supernatural, they were still all very different and had something of their own to offer the reader.

Another thing I really enjoyed about this collection was the human element.  The characters in the stories didn’t feel like archetypal or tropish cardboard cutouts – they had depth, strengths and flaws, and real feeling.  Even the shorter stories…or I’m inclined to say especially the shorter stories…drew me in with strong character descriptions that gave true purpose to the tale.

While I was entertained by every story, the…

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The Blurb on Other People’s Words – Steve Vernon

June 3, 2018 at 6:12 pm (horror, Links, Reviews, writing) (, , , , , , , )

I have a few reviews a long time owing for Nova Scotian writer, Steve Vernon. I’ve reviewed his YA Sci-fi (Flash Virus) in the past, but I especially like Steve’s folksy storyteller approach to tales of murder and horror, and I’ve read several of his short story collections, and a novel, I have yet to review. I thought it was about time.

If you’ve ever witnessed Steve give a “reading”, you’d understand where his particular flavour comes from. He’s the guy you want adding his two cents to stories around the campfire or when you’re huddled by a candle during a power outage on a storm day. His stories, like him, are very animated, hooking your attention and drawing you further in.

His stories are often based on material close to home. Three of his collections I’ve had a chance to read and very much enjoy include Halifax Haunts, local ghost tales retold with Steve’s particular type of flare, Maritime Murder, true crime stories from the past revisited, and
The Lunenburg Werewolf: And Other Stories of the Supernatural, exploring some local legends that were in many cases new to me.

The research required to bring these tales to light is quite obvious, with dates and details that give them substance above and beyond Steve’s enjoyable characteristic style. Most of the stories are dark, some are more playful and some are downright chilling, but they are all entertaining and seem real enough to suggest plausability.

Steve’s books stand on my bookshelves among my favourites. If you’ve never had the opportunity to read his books, I’d recommend doing so.

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A Special Update

May 25, 2018 at 11:25 pm (writing)

via NEW RELEASE!! ABANDON: 13 Tales of Impulse, Betrayal, Surrender, & Withdrawal | #horror #anthology @GLHorrorPodcast @HWAOntario

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Guest Blogger: Adrienne Garvin Dellwo

May 8, 2018 at 2:39 am (Links, writing) (, , , , , , )

I”m happy to host a fellow writer who delves into the realm of the superhero story.  She has a few things to share about character development:

Some characters come to life in just a few words while others remain as thin as the paper they’re printed on. What makes the difference?

You can analyze the writing and learn a lot about description, dialogue, etc., but a key element of creating great characters is something you don’t see on the page. It has to do with how well the author knows the character.

In my upcoming superhero novel, The Hero Academy, I had to create a lot of characters and find effective and efficient ways to communicate them to the reader. Going over notes from someone who read an early draft for me, I noticed she kept commenting on a particular character. She loved the way he talked, his mannerisms, his attitude. He wasn’t even one of the primary characters, just a classmate of the protagonist. I knew right away why he seemed so vivid to her—he’s based on my son. I’ve known that guy for 16 years.

That proves a point you hear authors make a lot: you have to know far more about what you’re writing than ends up in the book. Building a world? You may never talk about the economy, the history of a region, or the particular lilt of the local dialect, but if you don’t know those things yourself, the world will be less believable. The reader feels a writer’s lack of knowledge and enjoys the story less because of it.

No matter your approach to creating characters, before the manuscript is anywhere near ready for an audience, you’ve got to know who those people are. Some writers get in-depth with their main characters before they start writing, creating character profiles, building backstory, even creating inspiration boards. I don’t do any of that. It’s not wrong, it’s just not what works for me. I prefer to start out with a rough idea and then let the characters take shape as I write.

My method does lead to more work in the second draft, but it also gives me some flexibility. Some of my best characters start out incidental, such as Misty Michaels, an intern in The Hero Academy. I needed someone for the brilliant neuropsychologist to bounce ideas off of, and at the beginning, I believed the doctor was the important character.

Before long, though, I found Misty more interesting and realized she could play a significant role in the story’s climax. As important as she became, though, she’s still in relatively few scenes and I knew she was underdeveloped.

Then came a call for stories. A group I’m part of, the Pen & Cape Society, was putting out its fourth themed superhero anthology, The Good Fight 4: The Homefront. It didn’t take long for me to decide I wanted to write Misty’s backstory. I had a vague idea about some deep, dark secret in her past, and I wanted to know more about it and see how it played into who she became later on.

I wrote Misty’s story, “Impulses,” and it made it to publication before the book. Homefront, which explores the day-to-day life of superheroes, came out May 1. (It’s full of great stories—you want to read it!)

After “Impulses,” when I revisited Misty’s scenes in The Hero Academy, I found it easy to add all kinds of new depth to her character because I know her better. I know why she hid her powers. I know why she went into medicine. I know the struggles that shaped her. I even know why she always carries too much stuff, which leads to lots of jostling medical charts and spilling coffee. It’s not all in the book. It’s not all in “Impulses,” either, and it doesn’t need to be. I know her better, so the reader will understand and, I hope, relate to her better.

A full 90 percent of an iceberg is under water, and you don’t need to go scuba diving to appreciate the beauty of what you see above the surface. So when creating characters (or worlds, or whatever), remember that what you put on the page is the proverbial tip of the iceberg. Much more is beneath the surface, and that’s the foundation. Without all that down there as support, nothing floats.

Many thanks to Adrienne for sharing her wisdom.  You can find out more about Adrienne and her books at her website.

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