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30 Mar 2014

Forced Hiatus

I'm going to have to have a forced hiatus on the blog thanks to my rubbish internet.  I don't know what's wrong but for ages now we have had episodes where the internet and TV won't work, constantly disconnecting every five seconds and this time it's lasted for a good three weeks now.  I'm going to be absent until April 16th when we get our new internet provider and hopefully that will solve all problems. 

On the plus side I'm getting lots of writing and reading done!

19 Mar 2014

What's Up Wednesday

What's Up Wednesday is a weekly feature created by Jaime Morrow and Erin L. Funk. Perfect for readers and writers who want to share what they've been up to on a weekly basis and right now the place to share your goals.

1) What I'm Reading
I'm still being very slow with reading overall this year.  Luckily it's got nothing to do with what I think of Vicious.  It's a great book and even though I'm taking my time reading I'm enjoying every single part of it, even with how it goes back and forth from the origins of Eli's and Victor's superpowers to where they are now ten years later.

2) What I'm Writing
I'm getting my second draft all typed up on the computer and over the last I also wrote a short story that I'd like to enter in the British Fantasy Society Short Story competition.  It's a bit of a mix of genres.  The idea fits into science fiction but I couldn't help throw in horror.

3) What Else I've Been Up To
Back to crafting! I'm making an iPad cover but it's on hold until I get a sewing machine.  Hand sewing doesn't last and my stitching is already coming off.  I'm hoping that a sewing machine will help get things looking a little more professional and stop it from coming apart.  My little owl toy is also losing his wing. =(

Also tried out making two new things cooking wise.  I've done lemonade which I got to make today for Science Day at work and a Lancashire Hotpot last night for tea.  Both actually turned out well. 

4) What Inspires Me Right Now
Gothic literature has been really inspiring and going back to all the projects I wrote for my creative writing assessments at uni.  I found one project I wrote for Experimental Writing that had been inspired by a concern in the late Victorian times so I had a fiddle around with it for my short short entry.

18 Mar 2014

Book Review: A Midsummer Night's Scream by R.L Stine

Oh, what fools these actors be!

it was a horror movie that turned into real horror: Three young actors lost their lives while the cameras rolled. Production stopped, and people proclaimed the movie was cursed.

Now, sixty years later, new actors are venturing onto the haunted set. In a desperate attempt to revive their failing studio, Claire's dad has green-lit a remake of Mayhem Manor, and Claire and her friends are dying to be involved.

At first, Claire laughs at Jake's talk of ghosts and curses. He's been too busy crushing on her best friend, Delia, or making out with that slut, Annalee, to notice that she's practically been throwing herself at him. What does he know anyway? This is her big chance to be a star!

But then, Claire runs into a creepy little man named Benny Puckerman, and gets her hands on a real love potion! Unfortunately, the course of true love never did run smooth...

Get ready for laughter to turn into screams as the Grandmaster of Horror, R.L. Stine, takes on the Master of Theater in this modern re-imagining of Shakespeare's classic romantic comedy, A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Goosebumps were my childhood.  I read a few Fear Street books when I reached my teens and tried out Stine's YA stories but Goosebumps was always my favourite and overall Stine was one of my favourite horror writers.  I couldn't wait for my next trip into town and buy another of his ghastly tales to add to my collection.  Stine is the reason I will never have a ventriloquist dummy in my house.  EVER. 

But A Midsummer Night's Scream was definitely not Stine's best work. For a YA the book read like MG with 2D characters, most of them you don't really care for. So when they are the target of history repeating I simply don't care that they could be next on the list.  Well rounded YA characters fill the shelves nowadays.  They're layered, full of flaws and virtues, interests, dislikes, their own voice... and Stine didn't really give me any of those characters.  There was nothing to them.  They were shallow and bitchy.

It's like RL Stine had two ideas. One was a slasher and one was a retelling of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Unable to decide which one to work on they somehow ended up merging and spawning a rather confused book where the links to AMD were simply thrown in references rather than re-imagining of the play and the slasher aspect had a villain who was OTT mad and ridiculous.  

Completely disappointing.

10 Mar 2014

Gutsy Endings

It's getting closer and closer to the Divergent film and I can't wait! I love the trilogy and seriously looking forward to seeing everything portrayed.  I don't know about anyone else but I actually keep fangeeking every time I watch the trailer and see all the different colours each faction wears.  At the same time I see other fans getting excited but I also see some who feel the film is going to be ruined purely because of how the trilogy ended.

I'm going to keep this spoiler free but the ending was definitely gutsy.  I know a lot of people didn't like how it finished and that was it was completely unnecessary.  As a result they're not going to enjoy the film knowing what's going to happen.

I don't know if I'm in the minority here but I was actually satisfied with the ending.  I understood why the situation happened, I accepted it, and it finished everything off quite nicely.  If I had been writing the story I would have actually done the same.  Sometimes I don't like to let my characters have everything they want or hoped for.  So it got me thinking about gusty endings.  I know they're not always the popular route but I think now and again there needs to be an author to come along and give people a different type of ending.  Every story would be boring if everything became a fairytale happy ending and all the villains were defeated.  I need a story that comes along and gives me the more bittersweet route if it is necessary to the story.  Every once in a while I like an author to shock me and play with my emotions.

How do you feel about gutsy endings? Any book recommendations?

5 Mar 2014

What's Up Wednesday

What's Up Wednesday is a weekly feature created by Jaime Morrow and Erin L. Funk. Perfect for readers and writers who want to share what they've been up to on a weekly basis and right now the place to share your goals.

1) What I'm Reading
Vicious and it's getting good.  All I'll say so far.  I do love how superpowers can occur in this world. 

2) What I'm Writing
I've been taking a break from writing so nothing really.  It's been nice to step away for a bit and focus on other things. 

3) What Else I've Been Up To
Got into a crafty mood at the weekend, almost bought the whole of Hobbycraft and ended up making this little guy.  He's badly hand stitched but for my first craft's project he's not too bad. ^^ My next projects are mobile/iPod cases.

4) What Inspires Me Right Now
Went to a Steampunk market at Armley Mills at the weekend.  So many people were dressed up and there were loads of different costumes and accessories on sale.  Totally inspiring to look at and get the ideas spinning.  One of these days I will take on the challenge to write Steampunk!

4 Mar 2014

Book Review: Fatal Secrets and The Drifter by Richie Tankersley Cusick

Two sisters walk through a snowy wood, collecting pinecones for Christmas decorations. Something has frightened Marisa, and she’s about to explain it to Ryan, her younger sister, when she steps onto a patch of thin ice. Marisa plummets into the frigid water below, and though Ryan tries to save her, there’s nothing she can do. Even though the accident wasn’t her fault, Ryan is consumed by guilt. But guilt is not what she should be afraid of. Three weeks after Marisa’s death, Ryan sees her everywhere. At night she feels something following her, but when she turns around there’s nothing there. A creepy college friend of Marisa’s shows up at Ryan’s house, and her mother asks him to stay through Christmas. To free herself of guilt, Ryan must unlock Marisa’s terrible secret—before death takes her too.

Glanton House was Carolyn Baxter's new home, the haunted island retreat her widowed mother was determined to transform into an inn. As if in answer to her prayer, tall raven-haired Joss Whitcomb appeared at their door and offered to be the handyman in return for room and board. But Carolyn was wary. Joss was dark, compelling, dangerous. He was still a stranger, even after he saved her mother from a near-fatal accident. And now they were alone in the eerie house he seemed to know so well. He knew the legend of the jealous sea captain doomed to kill again and again. But did he hear the ghostly whispers echoing through the halls at night? Did he know the unseen eyes that followed her every move? Who was Joss? Why was he here? How could she trust this devastating drifter when she feared for her life...?
A lot of Cusick's female main characters tend to be very paranoid.  Strange things happen and they slowly fall into this obsessive state of thinking people or ghosts are after them.  To be fair, they are actually in danger but it's a little repetitive to read every time and it feels like Cusick uses the same type of characters over and over again.  The creepy but attractive guys, the dismissive parent, quite a few male love interests and the neurotic heroine.  If this wasn't used in ever book I've read by Cusick I would enjoy it.  I think thrillers are great for YA.  I'm sure everyone has had that feeling as a teenager when something is wrong (not as extreme as Cusick's Point Horror tales) and their parents don't seem to listen.  But it must be ten times worse for these fictional teens who are in a life or death situation and no-one really seems to care or listen.  It's a good issue to turn into something horrific but not in every single book.  Twists are also ruined in Cusick's books because they're also the same in every book.  The supposedly supernatural events are explained in the same way.  The antagonists are always the same for the same reasons.  

That's really why I decided to put these two books together in a review.  What I'll say about Fatal Secrets applies to The Drifter.  Plot wise I think The Drifter had more potential.  The setting was interesting.  A small town with a local legend that may or may not be the cause of spooky happenings at Carolyn's new home.  Unfortunately the cliched and overused dismissive parent and Cusick's go-to twist made me decide on two stars.

3 Mar 2014

Writer Recharge: The Last Update

For the whole month of February I took part in Writer Recharge.  Hosted by Elodie, Katy, Sarah, Liz, and Alison, the idea was to keep all us writers who took part motivated in the short month of February to work on any writing or lifestyle goals.  I decided to have a go, wanting to speed up my editing which was starting to slow down again.  Annoying because I knew I was near the end of these revisions.

My goals:
  • Start planning for April Camp NaNo.  I have a horror short story I'd love to work on.
  • Complete the 2nd Draft of Beast Inside.  Just a few more chapters I need to write and I hope to do this by the end of the month. 
  • Write every day.  Even if it's just a little bit.  I want to be in that habit of taking the time to sit and write. 
How I did overall: 
I made enough plans for the short story I want to write this year.  I didn't get round to writing a brief beginning, middle, and end but that's fine.  Towards the end of the month I decided that I'll have to put Camp NaNo on hold for now.  I've ended up booking my maths test for that month and then was asked to book my driving test for April too.  So I'm going to be very stressed out for most of that month.  When the tests are over I'm probably going to want to chill out for the rest of April.

Second draft of Beast Inside is all completed! I'm pleased with the changes I made to the story and how it all worked out so now that I'm satisfied with the plot my next round of revisions can focus on other things like character, voice, some extra chapters etc.  I haven't really looked at it since I finished, wanting a short break on it before I start getting it all on the computer. 

I didn't write every day in February but every week I'd have a day or two where I didn't write and focus on other priorities.  I used my lunch break for most writing which was quite a productive time for writing.  I guess you get on with writing quicker when you know you only have a certain amount of time.  It definitely worked for me.

I want to thank the team that created Writer Recharge.  A big thank you to Elodie, Katy, Sarah, Liz, and Alison for creating a project that gets writers together and cheer each other on as we focus on our writing goals.  I think we've all done pretty well this month and it's been a great motivation.  Hope you consider this again! =D