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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The Blurb on Other People’s Words – Kat and More

May 7, 2018 at 2:24 am (dark fantasy, Links, Reviews, writing) (, , , , , )

I recently completed 6th Turn: Kat, my latest read in Ren Garcia’s League of Elder series. I’m a big fan of his writing, and I enjoyed this book because it was a particularly dark story line but followed the action with a consistent thread of hope (I felt the same way Mentralysis, my previous read.)

This was another world-building win from Ren, and was definitely a favourite so far. The story ventures into the realm of the Black Hats – we get to see their creation process with all of its cruelty and suffering, and then follow four shadowtech females sent out on their first mission where success will mean new status. One stands out amongst the others, and when things take a turn for the worse, she manages to overcome adversity with the help of her “angels”. Her quest takes its own turn and she abandons her original mission for a completely new goal.

I loved following her transformation, the budding romance that matures into something stronger and how she deals with all of the obstacles she must face while trying to achieve her higher purpose as the Covus. She’s no fragile flower, fighting, even killing when necessary to protect the ones she cares about.

I liked some of the scenes so much I went back and reread them after I finished the book. I especially enjoyed their startling trip to Vain (with its air of a post-apocalyptic dystopia) and their encounters at Xandarr that ventured into the surreal.

This one was a big thumbs up for me. More like this one please.

I was happy to hear that Ren has now released an Omnibus collection. This is a great way of getting three of his books in one: The Dead Held Hands, The Machine, and The Temple of the Exploding Head, books that follow the adventures of Lord Kabyl, the lovely Sam and their companions.

His space operas, with their mixture of sci-fi, steampunk and strange, dark magic, maintain the high adventure flavour of old cliffhangers.  When you read them, you can count on masterful world-building, diverse characters and moving story lines. I enjoyed these books immensely individually, so its a great opportunity to be able to get them as a set.

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Book Review: Calen Dark The Infernal Almanac

May 6, 2018 at 5:54 pm (writing)

HorrorAddicts.net

CalenDark: The Infernal Almanac
Harvested by Stephanie Ellis and David Shakes

by Chantal Boudreau

Some anthologies are a mixed-bag with a few stand out stories, some are mindless entertainment without much depth, but I consider this creepy anthology an enjoyable learning experience where I can honestly say I at least liked every one of the stories within (and in some cases loved them).  The lessons learned?  It taught me a little about several obscure, dark holidays with strange rituals or ceremonies that I hadn’t heard of before reading this.  It also changed my opinion about expected quality from “for-the-love” anthologies.

Like them or lump them, calls for submissions where authors aren’t being paid won’t typically attract professional authors with a solid track record, and often the editing leaves a lot to be desired.  This is where CalenDark very much took me by surprise.  The stories and editing were high quality…

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Train to Busan (2016) – Just get on board and hang on tight!

May 5, 2018 at 12:13 pm (writing)

A zombie movie worth enduring subtitles. I have a strong love for Korean horror – this one, The Wailing and The Host have made me a real fan. Here’s Steve Vernon’s take (we don’t often agree on movies but we agree on this one.)

YOURS IN STORYTELLING...

Train to Busan
Okay, so it was a long old week and I decided to take my wife out for supper.
 
We started out by walking over to Fries & Company on Chebucto, right across from The European Pantry where I bought myself and my wife a wonderful supper of fish and chips. She had a Coors and I had a Rickard’s Red and she ordered a bowl of curry dipping sauce, which is GREAT on french fries.
 
Then we went across the street to the European Pantry where she picked up fancy cookies and I grabbed a couple of steak and mushroom pies for my breakfast this morning.
 
Then, after a leisurely walk home, we sat down to watch a movie. A freaking no-holds barred zombie movie – from Korea. It’s called TRAIN TO BUSAN and it is available on Netflix and it blew our minds.
 
I know…

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Science Fiction and Fantasy Day

April 20, 2018 at 10:19 am (writing)

East Hants Writers

Join the Box of Delights Bookshop in an exploration that spans from a land far, far away, to a galaxy out of this world! We will be hosting local science fiction and fantasy authors for a reading, Q&A and signing.

Represent your sci fi/fantasy fandom and come meet some authors whose imaginations create the worlds you love!

Authors

  • Peter Foote
  • Steve Vernon
  • Michelle Bryan
  • Chantal Boudreau
  • A. F. Stewart

Date: Saturday April 21, 2018

Time: 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm

Location: The Box of Delights Bookshop, 466 Main Street, Wolfville, NS

To learn more, visit the Facebook Event page.

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Book Review: Arithmophobia by Ruschelle Dillon

March 31, 2018 at 7:38 pm (writing)

HorrorAddicts.net

Review – Arithmophobia by Ruschelle Dillon

By Chantal Boudreau

I jumped on the opportunity to review this horror short story collection because I love themed collections and anthologies.  The title and cover image also wowed me.  Perhaps as a result, I may have started in on this with unfair expectations.

While the first story had an interesting premise, I found it a little hard to follow.  Not that the descriptions were faulty, but not everything made sense and I had some difficulty figuring out why certain things were happening.  I was still scratching my head at the end.

I enjoyed the second story more.  The author has a plucky, abrupt tone that works with this tale because of the nature of the main character.  I didn’t exactly feel sorry for the self-centered and selfish woman, but I stll wouldn’t have wished her nasty fate upon her.  The stories varied from…

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Book Review: Red by D.J. Doyle

March 29, 2018 at 1:00 pm (writing)

HorrorAddicts.net

Book Review: Red by D.J. Doyle

Review by Chantal Boudreau

I have to start this review by clarifying that I’m a horror fan, but I’m not normally inclined to extreme horror. I have read and written it in the past, but it’s not my preferred sub-genre, tending more towards less graphic, psychological horror. That being said, if you’re a reader who loves stories with intense shock value, you’ll probably love this novella. It has character depth, a multi-layer plotline and does not rely strictly on standard tropes (I appreciate the fact that the narrator’s latest target, Amanda, is not a doormat damsel in distress.) It also offers up plenty of graphic sex and violence.

You also might enjoy the intro to the story. For a hook, it gives the reader a taste of the kind of extreme horror you can expect through the rest of the novella, and a glimpse…

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