Posts Tagged ‘Family Guy’

Cover of Dark Nature. Pretty cool, isn’t it?

Wow, what a week it’s been! First I got that double acceptance on Sunday, and then I get this piece of news on Tuesday. Who knows what’s going to occur over the weekend? But I digress, because “Natural Predators” is being published in the anthology Dark Nature from Macabre Ladies Publishing!

So if you didn’t know, “Natural Predators” is a story I wrote back in June about a pandemic hitting a summer camp. Surprisingly, it’s not based on any of our current events. No seriously. It was actually inspired by my own summer camp days. Back when I was a teen, the sleepaway camp I was at, as well as the surrounding communities, was hit by a nasty stomach virus. Over the course of a weekend, the infirmary was filled with kids and adults throwing their guts up. And I was the first in my year to get it, as well as the one who probably got the rest of my year sick.

Years later, when watching an episode of Family Guy where the characters were trying to write their own horror movie, I imagined the character Joe, who is disabled, drawing on his own personal experience to write a body horror tale. Somehow that combined in my head with the camp epidemic, and a story was born: “Natural Predators.”

Of course, I didn’t write it until this summer, when I had the right stimulus. Dark Nature is an anthology around the idea of Mother Nature getting back at humanity for centuries of abuse. As long as nature was depicted being the revenge, anything went. The idea spoke to me, so I decided to write “Natural Predators” around the theme. And it worked pretty well, too.

That being said, I honestly didn’t think it would get in. It’s a pandemic story, after all, and there was such tough competition. And I thought the other submissions would be so much better than mine (humility is a good quality to have as a writer, I find). But somehow, out of a hundred submissions, mine was one of the ones chosen!

Apparently there’s still a market for pandemic fiction. Even in the middle of a pandemic.

Being serious now, I’m really grateful the editors at Macabre Ladies Publishing liked my story and I’m so excited to work with them. Thank you as well to my beta reader Monica, whose advice was probably instrumental in making the story as good as it is. And congratulations to the other people who got in with me. We all faced some tough competition, so I’m glad we were able to get in together.

I hope you’re as excited as I am about this story being published as I am, and are interested in reading Dark Nature once it comes out. Which, according to the publisher, should be some time this month if all goes as planned. I’ll post links as soon as I can, and I look forward to hearing what you all think of “Natural Predators.”

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. At the time this is publishing, I’m off using my dreams to plant dangerous, mutated arthropods in the homes of people who deserve it. So with that, I wish you all a good night, pleasant nightmares, and welcome to October! Truly the most wonderful time of the year.*

*Seriously, it is. I wrote an entire blog post on that and the points still stand.

I’ve been cutting back on announcing finishing the first draft of every single story I finish a first draft of. Not all of them are good, after all, and not all of them will see publication. Even if they are good. But this one, I’m announcing. Why? Because, for one, it’s a pandemic story. So, you know, not related to anything we’re currently experiencing these days! But also because it has some personal significance to me (more on that in a bit).

Natural Predators takes place a few years after the current COVID-19 pandemic has ended. A new virus is spreading rapidly out of Canada and into the US, causing loss of control of patients’ bodies and voices. As campers at a camp in upstate New York grapple with what is becoming of their summer vacation, events occur that will put them at the forefront of a change greater than even COVID-19 had on the world.

So yeah, like I said. This is a pandemic story. But it was not one inspired by our current one, which I’m sure is going to make marketing this story so much harder than it would otherwise be. In fact, the basis for this story germinated (see what I did there?) back in my teens. You see, I went to a summer camp in New York, and during my last year there, we got hit by an epidemic. A twenty-four hour stomach bug that infiltrated the camp and the surrounding communities. I was actually the first in my year to get sick with it, and before I knew it (or the hell that was being unleashed on the community), I’d passed it onto everyone else.

Yeah, it wasn’t pleasant. And if we’d known what was starting that weekend, my counselors would have probably sent me straight to the infirmary, rather than having me stay in Shabbat services and try to get through the day. Oh well. Hindsight is 20/20, as they say. Just wished I hadn’t missed out on the afternoon party that my mom, who worked for the camp, was going to throw for me, my sister, and our respective cabins. I was a guest of honor and I couldn’t even be there!

But I’m digressing. Point is, I knew what an epidemic looked like well before COVID-19. And then, around 2015, I was watching a new episode of Family Guy because it was still funny back then. In that episode, Peter and his friends were discussing writing their own horror film. I was thinking of that episode and what the character Joe Swanson might write his horror film about. Given the character is disabled, I thought he would use personal experience and create a story based around losing control of his body.

From there, I thought a virus might be a good vehicle to show that fear of loss of control over the body. And then I remembered my past camp experiences, and from there the idea bloomed.

So, if that was too much information, let me sum it up: stomach virus at camp + Family Guy episode about horror films = Rami Ungar getting inspired to write a horror story about a pandemic.

Wrote a pandemic story in the middle of a pandemic, and yet it’s not inspired by the pandemic at all. How about that?

Anyway, I think the story has potential. There’s some body horror, a bit of a creature feature, and the familiar paranoia of learning a deadly disease is spreading around the world. There’s an anthology I hope to get it into, but first I’m going to get it critiqued by a beta reader. With any luck, the editors won’t let the pandemic part get in the way and find it an enjoyable read.

And in the meantime, I’m going to take a break to recharge this evening, then start work on a new story tomorrow (this one will be a ghost story). Until next time, my Followers of Fear, good night and pleasant nightmares!

It’s Friday again, so you know what that means. It’s #FirstLineFriday! One of the highlights of my week. I’m not sure what that says about my life, but there you go.

So if you’re new here and don’t know what the heck this is, here are the rules of #FirstLineFriday:

  1. On Fridays, write a post on your own blog titled #FirstLineFriday, hashtag and all.
  2. Explain the rules like I’m doing now.
  3. Post the first one or two lines of a potential story, story-in-progress, or completed or published story.
  4. Ask your readers for feedback and encourage them to try it on their own blogs.

This week’s lines come from an idea I had earlier this week. Interesting story behind this idea: I was out to┬ádinner with my folks, and my mind started to wander. I started to think about the new episode of Family Guy that was going to air┬áthat night, and then I thought of an episode of that show that aired back in October, where the guys tried to come up with their own horror movie (men after my own heart!). The episode only showed ideas for horror films from two out of the four guys, so I started thinking about what the other two, Joe and Quagmire, would come up with for a horror movie. This idea sprang from what the character Joe would probably base his horror movie came from. So if you have any idea who Joe is, you can probably guess what sort of story this is about.

Yeah, this is a weird, twisting origin for an idea. When I told my dad the idea and how I got it, he had this look on his face like, “Interesting idea, but that is such a strange way to come up with a story.” Would you expect anything less from me, Abba?

Anyway, here are the lines for the story. Enjoy:

Becca’s blood still stained the stall door. Sophie sat down on the toilet and tried to look anywhere but at the large, red splash in front of her.

Thoughts? Errors? Guesses about what Joe is probably afraid? Let’s discuss in the comments below.

And if you liked this week’s #FirstLineFriday, why not try it on your own blog? It’s fun and easy to do, and quickly becomes a habit. I’ve been doing it for a little over nine months, and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.

That’s all for now. I’ve got a crazy weekend ahead of me, but if anything worth writing about comes up, you can expect to hear about it here. Have a good one, my Followers of Fear!

Some in the American government and in the media have made the proclamation that “racism is dead”, at least here in the United States. If you ask me, the people saying this are either overly idealistic and na├»ve or they’re willfully ignoring facts. Because the sad fact of the matter is, racism is far from dead. It’s just not as overt as it used to be, it’s become subtler so it can thrive without being reprimanded or outcasted by the majority of Americans who don’t believe in racism or think it’s immoral.

Need proof? The Southern Poverty Law Center estimates that there are over 200 known hate groups in the United States, with Ohio having 31, New York 42, and California 77. Other large states have many different hate groups, most having racist beliefs, and the states with fewer hate groups are more likely to have groups that can be categorized as Neo-Nazi, White Nationalist, KKK, Racist Skinhead, Black Separatist, and General Hate. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg! Just imagine how many small or new hate groups out there the SPLC has yet to document! The numbers are scary if you think about it.

And then there are recent episodes where racism has reared its ugly head and broadcast all over the media. Cliven Bundy recently remarked that he believes that blacks (or as he calls them, “negros”) were better off under slavery than they are now, because apparently not learning to pick cotton has lead to them being on government welfare, aborting kids, and sending their young men to jail┬á(I could write an entire post on the meshuggas of this guy if I wanted to, but why bother? He’s obviously nuts and in the end the federal government will force him to pay the money or send him to jail, possibly with his militia friends in tow). And then he acts like the victim when reasonable people are offended by his words and says MLK Jr. didn’t finish his job.

First off, Mr. Bundy seems to forget that slavery was not a walk in the park. It was inhumane, cruel, and caused the deaths of untold millions. He also doesn’t seem to realize that there is much more to why some African Americans are on welfare, mostly because they are not afforded the economic, environmental, and social resources to help them get off welfare. Plus not all blacks are on welfare, aborting babies, or in jail. Our President identifies as black*, and he’s not on welfare (unless you count living in a government building and receiving your paycheck through taxpayer money welfare), has two beautiful daughters, and has never been to jail unless it’s been to talk to prisoners.

*Yes, he identifies as black. It’s not a biological thing, but a social construct. Amazing that we make such a big thing over a construct of our minds, but there you go. (see this post for more)

And is being on welfare necessarily a bad thing? Mr. Bundy’s ancestors were brought from Nevada on┬áa welfare program, if I remember correctly. So don’t preach like you’re better than them, because your life is the result of welfare programs, Mr. Bundy. And by the way, don’t blame a dead man for what’s in your heart. You have only yourself to blame for your racist beliefs, and if people are offended, it’s because there is still reverberations in our own society resulting from the darkness in our past. No covering up will rid our nation of that darkness, and people are right to be offended by your remarks. At the very least, you can be considered callous, if not outright racist.

And then there’s Donald Sterling, who’s been banned from the NBA and forcibly relieved of the LA Clippers because he didn’t want his biracial mistress seen with black people. Some people say he may be senile, others say he’s worried about his performance, and others just say he’s a racist pig. I think that whatever he is, he is a hypocrite because his team is mostly black and he’s seeing a woman who is half-black, and that his hypocrisy, as we have seen, is his downfall.

It is nice to know that the same weekend we all started talking about Sterling, Family Guy had a wonderful episode that dealt with racism, not just from whites but from blacks as well. And it is nice to know that we are having a dialogue about this, that we are not trying to sweep racism under the rug or deny that it exists. That’s like trying to ignore a serious medical condition or disorder in the hopes that it goes away. Just doesn’t work out in the end.

You know, the Supreme Court is right: a lot has changed since the Civil Rights Acts were passed. We are now a more technological, global, connected society. We recycle in the hopes of not accelerating the destruction of the Earth, and the idea of a black man or a woman running for President is no longer ludicrous, but the former has become a successful reality (twice!) and the latter is welcomed by a huge majority of the country.

However racism is still a problem in this country, and it is something we will have to deal with if this country is to continue to grow and prosper. So denying racism and saying it’s dead isn’t the answer. Rather, open dialogue and a lot of love and understanding is. And we need to have more of it.

Oh, and to the KKK guy in that one news clip who says he has black friends but doesn’t believe in “racial mixing”, where are your black friends exactly? Do they know you wear a KKK robe? And could you bring me an article from an accredited medical journal published in the past ten years that says “racial mixing” is a bad thing? I would love to see it!