Posts Tagged ‘Amazon’

Back in January I got into another Lovecraft binge (see my thoughts on that here), and during that binge I read one of Lovecraft’s most famous stories, “The Call of Cthulhu.” Around the same time, I found out there was a movie version of that short story that was made in the style of a 1920’s silent film, matching the period of when the story was written, and knew I had to see it. Which turned out to be easier said than done: it’s not on any streaming service I can find, copies at my library had all been lost or damaged to the point they needed to be taken out of circulation, and I did not want to illegally stream it on my laptop. Finally, with some Amazon gift card money, I managed to buy my own copy, and after Amazon lost the package and had to send me a new copy (was that Cthulhu’s work, I wonder?), I finally got to watch the film with dinner this evening!

“Call of Cthulhu” tells the story of a man as he recollects becoming the executor of his late great-uncle’s estate, and how he discovered his uncle’s research on a cult devoted to the worship of a being known as Cthulhu. As the man goes deeper into the mystery of the cult and even conducts some research himself, he finds himself falling deeper into a rabbit hole of madness and despair that has no way out, and some things waiting within.

Firstly, this movie looks and feels like a 1920’s silent film. It was filmed using Mythoscope, a process that combines older and newer techniques to produce a film that looks like a silent picture but with much better special effects, and it looks great. You can tell that a lot of work went into making this film just right. And what’s truly amazing is that this film was made almost in a DIY sort of way: sets were made with cardboard, tape, and even a few blankets, with cast and crew sometimes working in miserable condition and using props bought off eBay to make this work. If you watch the film and then watch the behind-the-scenes video, like I did, you gain such a deeper appreciation for how well executed this film is.

Another thing I really enjoyed about this film are the actors. They are great at their work! As it’s a silent film, much of the storytelling is done through expression and movement, like in a ballet. You never once doubt for a moment that the actor are feeling the emotions they are trying to convey to us, and that just makes the film all the more amazing. It also helps that these actors are not Hollywood stars. In a major motion picture, the narrator of the story might be cast as Tom Hanks or someone else who’s good at playing an everyday guy put into extraordinary circumstances. The actors in this movie, however, often look like folks you see on a daily basis, and that instantly makes them more relatable to me.

If there’s one thing I didn’t care for, it might be Cthulhu himself. Or maybe I do care for him. I’m kind of split on my opinion of him when he finally appears. On the one hand, he doesn’t appear on film that much, even at the climax of the story, and when he does, it’s often very quick or he’s seen as a shadow. The stop-motion used to animate him is also very well done, and he looks like how he might be styled in a 1920’s film. That’s very good. But, he is the film’s big bad, and I like to feel even jut a little intimidated by the big bads I see in film. And whenever Cthulhu is on screen, I’m just not intimidated. I guess if I had lived in the 1920’s (an age where Lon Chaney’s version of the Phantom of the Opera was so terrifying to audiences, people actually fainted in their seats or ran out the theater screaming), I might have found the stop-motion terrifying, but I’m from the age of CGI, so it takes more to terrify me. So I’m honestly unsure of whether the stuff with Cthulhu himself adds or takes away from the film.

But all in all, this is a great film, an artistic masterpiece courtesy of the HP Lovecraft Historical Society (do they have a museum to the guy yet?). And when you consider that the original short story has been called “unfilmable,” and the conditions during production tried to prove that assertion, you learn to love it even more. On a scale of 1 to 5, I’m giving “The Call of Cthulhu” a 4.8 out of 5 (as well as the title of “one of my new favorite films”). Find yourself a copy, and enjoy the experience.

Now I just need a good adaptation of Shunned House. That story is SCARY! And it feels like the sort of story that would translate very well to film.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. Join me next week when I watch another Lovecraftian-influenced film. No, not Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (though I probably will see that next weekend with my sister). It takes more than a tentacled monster to make it a Lovecraftian story. No, I mean the film adaptation of Junji Ito’s terrifying manga, Uzumaki.

As you guys know by now, I’m a pretty dedicated horror fan. I read a lot of horror novels and watch a lot of horror movies, I decorate my apartment with horror knick-knacks (just the other day, a Jason Voorhees mask and Funko doll arrived for me from Amazon), and of course, I write a ton of horror. Only thing is, lately I’ve been writing a lot of science fiction, and that’s getting a little old.

The hockey mask looks good on us.

I’ve been working on Full Circle, the final book in the Reborn City series I’ve been working on since high school, since November. And as of the completion of the latest chapter this morning (finished it in just a little over an hour. Do you know how rarely that happens?), I’m just under halfway through the first draft. And while I’m still dedicated to finishing the first draft and the series itself, I’m getting a little tired of the constant sci-fi. Don’t get me wrong, I love science fiction. Doctor Who is one of my favorite shows, after all, and I get as geeky as anyone else when I think about The Last Jedi coming out this winter.

But check the About page of this blog. I’m a horror writer, and all this sci-fi gets a little wearisome. I want to dip back into the world of ghosts, ghouls, serial killers, and all other manner of monsters that go bump in the night.

Plus, I’ve mentioned before that I’m trying to publish more horror short stories, as I’m trying the traditional route again and publishing short stories is a good way to do that. Can’t publish horror short stories if I’m constantly working on sci-fi.

So with that in mind, I’m taking a break from Full Circle to do a little short story writing. I’m going to first write a short story that I had the idea for a couple months back, and then I’m going to edit The Playroom, a short story I wrote back in late 2015 and have not touched since. I think it’s about time I took a look at that one again, and then see if I can get it in a magazine or an anthology. After those are both done, I should be good to get back to work on Full Circle (though if I need to, I’ll write another short story). I have a feeling that starting with the next chapter, it’s going to be hard to stop writing this one anyway, so this is a good time to take a break and slake my thirst for horror.

Until next time, Followers of Fear. And may the terror be with you…always.

Reborn City

Reborn City

Well, this took longer to do than expected. I started writing this novel in November, and it’s late February now. I hope this isn’t an indication of how long the rest of the novel will take.

So if you’re unaware, for the past couple of months I’ve been working on Full Circle, the final novel in my Reborn City trilogy.The RC trilogy follows the Hydras, a superpowered street gang living in a dystopian future. Amongst its main themes are the horrors of prejudice and hatred, gang violence, drug addiction, and above all, learning to overcome what you and what others think of you.

I started writing this trilogy in high school, and it is so crazy that I’m finally on the last book. Even better, I made it to the first real milestone. Okay, technically with thirty-five chapters, there is no even point where it’s off the fourth of the way through, but being nine chapters and is close enough. And while as a first draft this novel is going to need a lot of work (pretty sure that the first two chapters are going to need lots of revision), I think I’m off to a very good start. I’m doing a good job of reintroducing the world to readers who haven’t been back in a while, introduce some really cool villains, and set up an intriguing plot. Plus, I feel like this novel is going to show how much I’ve matured as a writer. You really get this on mature sense of style and storytelling from reading this book. Even if it isn’t horror, this might be my best work yet in some respects.

All right, now for page and word count, which is something I always include with these updates. In terms of pages (which means 8.5″ x 11″ size pages with 12-point Times New Roman font and double-spaced lines), the total is 106 pages, with the average page number per chapter being 11.7. In terms of word count, the total is 30,313, a decent-sized novella, with the average word count per chapter being 3,368. Not bad, if I do say so myself.

So how will things go from here on out? Well, despite my worries at the beginning of this post, I’ve actually started speeding up my writing. This is in thanks mostly to Dragon, a speech to text software that I bought and downloaded onto my computer. Basically what I do is I narrate the story myself, and Dragon puts what I say on the page. What might take me two hours to write now takes closer to a half hour, forty-five minutes. It’s quite handy, and I plan to do a full post on it on Self-Published Authors Helping Other Authors in the near future.

Book 2: Video Rage

Book 2: Video Rage

The point being, hopefully it won’t take another four months for me to reach the halfway point of the novel (which I’ll say is Chapter 18 for simplicity’s sake). And I have some interesting chapters coming up, so that’s even more reason to write. Chapter 10 is going to give us a look at most of the villains in this book, and I’m really looking forward to exploring them a little bit. I’ve actually made some of them a little scary. Like, Stephen King – style psycho crazy villain scary. And I always have fun writing those sorts of characters.

Plus we have some new revelations about certain characters, a little character development, and a location I’ve been saving to explore for this last book. Should be fun.

Well, that’s all for now. If any of what I’ve said here is made you want to check out the Reborn City trilogy, I’ll include the links below. And if you do decide to check out my books, please let me know what you think. Positive or negative, I love feedback and I would love to hear yours.

Until next time, my Followers of Fear. Pleasant nightmares!

Reborn City:  Available on Amazon, Createspace, Barnes & NobleiBooksSmashwords, and Kobo

Video Rage: Available from Amazon, Kindle, CreatespaceBarnes & Noble, iBooks, Smashwords, and Kobo.

Cover of Snake by Rami Ungar

I wasn’t planning on posting anything this weekend, but then this popped up on Amazon last night and, you know me, I have to post all the reviews. Either because of its length (576 pages in paperback) or because of its subject matter, Snake is one of my least reviewed books, which has always puzzled and surprised me, since I’ve always loved this book and enjoyed writing it immensely. The last review was from nearly two years ago! So I’m very glad I have a new review to feature today.

If you’re unfamiliar with Snake, this is a thriller/horror novel I wrote in college between Reborn City and Video Rage. Here’s the description from the back cover blurb:

How far will you go for love and revenge? When a young man’s girlfriend is kidnapped by the powerful Camerlengo Family, he becomes the Snake, a serial killer who takes his methods from the worst of the Russian mafia. Tracking down members of the Camerlengo Family one by one for clues, the Snake will go to any lengths to see the love of his life again…even if it means becoming a worse monster than any of the monsters he is hunting.

So yeah, this is one where you root for the serial killer. This novel was really influenced by slasher films and James Patterson novels (from before he sold out). I told you, some people look at the subject material and are like, “Nope.”

Anyway, let’s talk about the new review. It came sometime yesterday, and I noticed it this morning over breakfast. The reviewer’s username is Chasley T, and he gave Snake four stars out of five. His review is titled Most people ignore anything with 5 stars (hence the 4 star rating), but this book honestly does deserve 5 stars, and–wait, what? Is that true? I’ve never heard of that before. Do people actually ignore 5 star reviews or anything with a majority of 5-star reviews? I’ll have to look into that some time.

Anyway, here’s what Chasley T. had to say about Snake:

I’m someone who really enjoys horror stories/darker reads, and because of this I am very picky with my ratings of these types of books. I’ve seen most plots and plot twists, so I’m not taken by surprise very often and I am VERY stingy with positive reviews since the type of stories I like usually all have a similar plot.

That being said…I LOVED this book. I’ve seen this type of story before, but the way Rami Ungar crafts a cliché plot into a suspenseful, brutal, and rhythmic story puts Snake into a category all of its own. If you’re squeamish, you have been warned that there are some really graphic scenes in this novel.

If you’re a fan of dark plots, this book is a 100% must read.

I’m glad you liked it, Chasley. Part of my aim for this story was to give the typical slasher story and give it new life and a new perspective. I’m happy someone noticed that.

And this mirrors what a lot of other people have said about Snake as well:

I really enjoyed this book. When I selected “dark” for the mood, it was almost a toss up with suspenseful. You knew early on who the mafia killer was, but the question of how he was going to find his girlfriend and rescue her was suspenseful. I ended up choosing “dark” because of the level of violence our main character used in getting to the girlfriend. But he was a complex character. Even though he definitely had the dark side to him, there was a surprisingly good side to him, too. You don’t really see this until later on in the book. So early on, you might think this is an unredeemable character. But one of the most intriguing characters are those who aren’t what they initially seem, and for this reason, I enjoyed this character. The pacing was just right. It wasn’t rushed, and in no way did I ever feel it dragged, which is awesome for a book that was over 500 pages in paperback.

This book is violent, and it contains sexual situations. Some of it can be cringeworthy. So I wouldn’t suggest this for young readers. I’d recommend this only to adults. If it was a movie, it would be a strong R. There’s also swearing. These things don’t bother me as a reader, but I know it bothers some, which is why I mention it. But if you don’t mind these elements, I think you will enjoy this book. It’s a great thriller.

–Ruth Ann Nordin, author of Groom for Hire

This book is another awesome creation by Rami. This book is scary and brings the reader to the depths of how evil the human character can be and how anyone can be driven to commit acts of torture. The author does a wonderful job of developing the plot and characters and there are certainly twists and turns. I highly recommend reading this book if you love a good frightening thrill.

–ENJ

Rami Ungar makes a promise to (the reader) in all his writings: he WILL scare you, and if he does “his job is done.” Snake will scare you. I am a huge Stephen King fan, so this should give you some idea of my tolerance level for gore, death and mayhem – I was scared. Rami takes you into places you would never have believed possible, and manages to pull his hero (and eventually his heroine) out of them against all odds. If you like to be scared. If you LOVE to be scared. You should read this book.

Angela Misri, author of No Matter How Improbable

If you think Snake sounds interesting enough to read and would like to find out more, it’s available in paperback and e-book with the links below. And if you do read it, I hope you’ll leave me a review with your thoughts on the book. Positive or negative, I love feedback from readers, and it helps me improve my game as a writer.

That’s all for now. I’ll probably post again when the first part of Gynoid comes out. Until then, have a great weekend, my Followers of Fear.

Snake: Available from AmazonCreatespace, Barnes & Noble, iBooksSmashwords, and Kobo

tqg cover

Hello again, Followers of Fear. Enjoying your Christmas/Hanukkah/preparations for Kwanzaa/whatever else is going on right now?

Earlier I mentioned that I got two new reviews on separate books, each from the same person (see my last post for the one on Video Rage). And yesterday, when I wasn’t looking, the same shopper, going by the title…Shopper, also left a review of The Quiet Game: Five Tales to Chill Your Bones, a collection of original short stories I wrote, and my first published book. It’s my most juvenile of works, but it’s also my most reviewed and definitely one of my most beloved stories, with a rating of 4.1 out of 5.

I think part of the draw is that it’s short, only five stories.

Shopper gave their review the title Samson Weiss was my favorite, in reference to the title of one of my short stories, and rated the book a 4 out of 5. Here’s what they had to say:

This collection had great reviews, I don’t disagree. I kept reading about Addict. I found that story disconcerting. The author chose the very unorthodox second person point of view, which was unsettling, and therefore pretty effective. The story that grabbed my attention was the tormented senator Samson Weiss.

Samson Weiss and the senator were two different characters, but I’m glad they enjoyed the collection, and that they agree with the other reviews:

5 wonderfully crafted tales! I purchased this as an eBook originally and put off reading it for quite a while, I really wish I hadn’t waited. Sometimes when one purchases a collection of short stories you expect some of them to be less entertaining or of lower quality than the others, but none of these disappoint. Well worth the money, especially considering after you read each story the author gives you creative insight into what inspired him to write each tale, which is really wonderful.

Jeff D.

This is the first time I’ve read any of Rami’s stories. I was very impressed with the wide variety of stories and the way he wove the paranormal into each piece. Paranormal is not something I usually read and I enjoyed this collection very much. The collection reminded me of the Twlight Zone. The descriptions were especially well developed. Keep on writing Rami!

Arthur Siegal

All of the stories were really diverse and fun to read. I also enjoyed the authors blurbs about each stories origination and development. Keep up the good work!

Kim B.

And if I’m lucky, The Quiet Game will continue to get good reviews in the years to come. I know one of my coworkers bought a copy (I left her a very nice message when I signed it for her), so hopefully she’ll leave me a good review after she reads it.

Speaking of which, if you’d like to check out The Quiet Game, I’ll post the links below. And if you do decide to check out the collection, please let me know what you think. Positive or negative, I love feedback (though if the past two weeks are any indication, I especially love positive feedback), and it makes me strive harder to be a better writer. And I would love to hear yours.

That’s all for now. Happy Holidays, my Followers of Fear.

The Quiet Game: Amazon, Createspace, Barnes & Noble, iBooksSmashwords, and Kobo

Video Rage

Happy Holidays, everyone! Are you having a good time, whatever you celebrate? I know I am, and I’ll tell you why:

Yesterday I went online and found that Video Rage received another review on Amazon (I would’ve posted about it then, but I was busy last night and most of today. Holiday stuff, it takes up time). This is the third review in two weeks, which, as you might expect, makes me very happy. However, it’s a rather unusual review. Not unusual as in bad unusual, just different in a way that leaves me with a lot of questions. I’ll explain all that in a moment.

Now if you don’t know, Video Rage is the second novel in a science fiction trilogy called the Reborn City series I’ve been working on for about eight years now. The series follows the Hydras, a street gang in a dystopian future whose leaders have unusual powers, and what happens when the source of those powers comes back to haunt them. It came out back in June, but it’s only just now started to get reviews (not that I’m complaining). The review that I found yesterday comes from someone simply calling themselves Shopper (accurate title, I guess), who also left a review of The Quiet Game (more on that later). Shopper left a four-star review they titled Surprising read, and which made me think that maybe they didn’t read the first book. Here’s what they had to say:

I almost gave up on this book because It kind of has a Mad Max, post apocalyptic thing going on; dialogue is written in dialect; there are hover-bikes….I need a trigger warning for hover-bikes. I did say almost, because, without warning, there is a character named 011. The binary code moniker aside, this guy was awesome. I guess he was technically the villain, but I was totally rooting for him. I would love to read a zany road trip for him and Zahara as a standalone short story.

Okay, some questions:

  1. Which Mad Max movie? Please say Fury Road, because that is the best movie of the bunch! Seriously though, I did not expect that comparison. As I said, I’m not sure this person read the first book, Reborn City, because that takes place in a more urban environment, while most of Video Rage takes place on the road. Taken altogether, I wouldn’t compare it to Mad Max. I actually don’t know what I would compare it to, but definitely not Mad Max.
  2. Trigger warning for hover bikes? That’s a new one. Don’t know what to make of that one.
  3. Rooting for 011? That’s another new one. For those who don’t know, 011 is a character who first appeared in RC (about three years before the Duffer Brothers put out Stranger Things and introduced their character Eleven,, so I’m safe from any copyright claims) who is a nasty psychopath and likes to kill people. So yeah, no technically about it, he’s a villain. Not the kind you usually root for, either. He’s definitely no Jason or Freddy Kreuger (though he has some similarities to the latter in the second book). Not sure why Shopper rooted for him, but if they like interesting killers, I recommend reading my other novel Snake.

In any case, this is a good review, and I’m thankful for it. Especially since it matches up with the other reviews I’ve gotten recently:

From what I understand, this is book 2 in a series. That being said, I had expected a cliffhanger of an ending. I’m not a fan of cliffhangers, but in this particular book, I think the author did an excellent job of finding the balance between making the story stand complete within itself while ending the story on a note that let you know another book was coming. Personally, the ending was one of the most intriguing ones I’d read in a long time. It didn’t leave you to figure it out for yourself (which is something I hate). The author let you know what was happening and why while leaving enough to be answered in a future book.

That all being said, the overall book was an enjoyable read. I especially liked that a former bad guy turned things around and redeemed himself. Those types of characters are one of my favorites. I had hoped in Reborn City (Reborn City series Book 1) that he would, and it was very satisfying to see that fulfilled. I also liked the underlying theme in the novel that what the media tells people through the major outlets is slanted by government agendas. In this book, it was up to the main characters to find an alternative way of getting the truth out.

I think this book is best read after reading Reborn City (Book 1) because it really helped to have the background on the characters, and I think this book is far more effective if you have the foundation Book 1 gives you. The science fiction geek in me really loves the genetic aspect. And so that I don’t spoil anything, I will say the real bad guy in this series does a nice twist in this book along that line.

–Ruth Ann Nordin, romance novelist

I was really looking forward to the continued journey of the Hydras and Rami was able to produce. Zahara is my favorite character and her development from an insecure girl into a strong woman came out clearly in this book. Some other character development was really unexpected but the book moves at such a fast pace that it didn’t hold me up at all. The story line is quite imaginative and, as usual, there isn’t much predictability there. I think that is what draws the reader in – you just need to keep going to find out what weird twists and turns happen next! Looking forward to continuing this journey with Rami and the Hydras.

–Michele Kurland

Reborn City

Reborn City

If these reviews made you in any way want to check out Video Rage, or the first book Reborn City, I’ll post the links for them below. And if you do decide to get a copy and read it, please let me know what you think, either in a review or a comment on my blog. Positive or negative, I love feedback from readers, and I always strive to improve after I hear from readers.

And while we’re on the topic of the Reborn City series, I’ve got an update on the final book in the series, Full Circle. At the moment, I’ve written six out of thirty-six chapters, so I’m officially a sixth of the way done. Currently, FC stands at about 68 pages (8″ x 11″, 12-point font, Times New Roman, double-spaced), with a grand total of 19,373 words. That’s almost a novella. Imagine what it’ll be at a third of the way.

Well, that’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. Happy Holidays, and a wonderful New Year.

Reborn City:Amazon, Createspace, Barnes & NobleiBooksSmashwords, and Kobo

Video Rage: Amazon, Kindle, CreatespaceBarnes & Noble, iBooks, Smashwords, and Kobo

Video Rage

Whoa! Only one day after Video Rage‘s first Amazon review was uploaded, a second one popped up. Coincidence? Probably, but I’m not complaining.

If you didn’t read yesterday’s post and you’re not sure what I’m talking about, Video Rage is the second novel in my Reborn City series, a science-fiction trilogy that follows the Hydras, a street gang whose leaders have amazing powers. When the source of those powers comes back to haunt the Hydras, what occurs will rock the very world to its knees. The first book, Reborn City, came out in November 2013, and currently has a 4.7/5 rating on Amazon. With this second review, Video Rage is now at a 4.5/5 rating, which makes me happy. I’m glad people are responding to it well.

Today’s review was left by Michele Kurland, who gave Video Rage four stars out of five and titled her review Never A Dull Moment (funny, that’s usually what’s said when I go to a party). Here’s what she had to say on the second installment in the series:

I was really looking forward to the continued journey of the Hydras and Rami was able to produce. Zahara is my favorite character and her development from an insecure girl into a strong woman came out clearly in this book. Some other character development was really unexpected but the book moves at such a fast pace that it didn’t hold me up at all. The story line is quite imaginative and, as usual, there isn’t much predictability there. I think that is what draws the reader in – you just need to keep going to find out what weird twists and turns happen next! Looking forward to continuing this journey with Rami and the Hydras.

I’m glad the character development received praise. I feel that in a second book, it’s important not just to expand on the world of the characters, but also to offer some new challenges, both in the form of new adversaries or obstacles to the characters’ goals, and in the form of internal struggles. I’m glad that Michele didn’t find those internal struggles annoying or brought down the quality of the story.

And the imaginative/unpredictable part mirrored what Ruth said yesterday in her review, which she titled Nice Twists Ahead. A good book should have some unpredictability in it (I just finished reading a book that was very unpredictable, and I plan to write a review of it after I’m done with this post), so it’s good to know I can deliver on that aspect.

Reborn City, my first published novel

Reborn City, my first published novel

Over all, I’m glad that I’m getting such positive feedback on Video Rage. It pumps me up and makes me want to work harder on the final book in the series (still slogging through the current chapter, by the way, but if there’s time, I’ll try to get some more written tonight). It also makes me hope that more people will discover the series and want to read it. As I’ve said before, the world in general is starting to resemble the world of the story in certain ways, so I think people who come across the series will identify with the issues present in the books.

That’s the hope, anyway.

Anyway, that’s all for now. I’ll post the links below again in case you want to check out either book and see if the series is something you’d like to read. And if you do end up reading one of the books, please let me know what you think. Positive or negative, I love feedback from readers, and I’d be happy to get yours.

Until next post, my Followers of Fear.

Reborn City:Amazon, Createspace, Barnes & NobleiBooksSmashwords, and Kobo

Video Rage: Amazon, Kindle, CreatespaceBarnes & Noble, iBooks, Smashwords, and Kobo