Posts Tagged ‘Gothic horror’

I heard about this film last year, but couldn’t see it for a couple of reasons.* I kept an eye out for news about it, but for the longest time, the only places you could watch it were on Amazon and YouTube, and for a price. And then this week it popped up on Netflix. Cue the need to watch it. Which I did this evening. And the wait was worth it.

Girl on the Third Floor stars wrestler-turned-actor CM Punk as Don Koch, an ex-lawyer with a checkered past, buys an old Victorian house in the suburbs with plans of renovating it for his pregnant wife. Problem is, not only is Don still living the party life to some degree, but his new home seems to have some interesting features. Nearly every wall has black goo pouring out of it, pipes and wall sockets leak a milky fluid that looks like a certain other well-known milky fluid, and a strange woman named Sarah keeps appearing around the property. Soon Don and his wife find out their house is way deadlier than they ever could’ve imagined.

I’m told this is director Travis Stevens’ first film, and I have to agree with critics that he’s done an excellent job. A Gothic horror story,** Stevens sets up a slow burn that’s entrancing. It’s as much a psychological horror as a supernatural horror story, following Don as he tries to make things up to his wife while still being a frat boy, and how those choices affect his stay in his new home. Combined with some bat-shit crazy supernatural occurrences, it’s pretty scary.

On top of that, the principal actors, particularly CM Punk, are great in their roles. I totally believed in his role of Don, and loved watching him see the dominoes drop due to his choices and actions. Also, Sarah Brooks as Sarah Yates has an amazing emotional range and really works as the driving force of the movie. I applaud you, Ms. Brooks!

Oh, and let’s not forget the house. The house is itself is a character, and the film does a great job in bringing that character to the fore.

If there’s one thing I could’ve done more with, I wanted more of the history of the house. We got some explanations, but I wanted more on the spirits and where they came from. There’s more to that house than meets the eye, and I feel like we only saw one layer to it.

Overall though, I’m giving Girl on the Third Floor a 4.3 out of 5. It’s a creepy slow-burn that’ll pull you in from start to finish. Get on Netflix, move inside, and be prepared to never move out again.

*Chiefly because the one theater it was playing at is right next to Ohio State, there was a home game that weekend, and you don’t want to drive near campus during a home game. Trust me, it’s the wrong kind of nightmare.

**I’m running into those all over the place. It’s interesting to compare them to Toyland.

Call the press! Pour the honey wine! Sacrifice your neighbor to the eldritch deity of your choosing! The first draft of Toyland is done! To be specific, I finished it early this morning at around four in the morning. I started working on the last two-and-a-half chapters around ten o’clock last night, after I wrote my review of The Lodge, and just didn’t stop.

And now that I’ve gotten some sleep, I’m blogging about it, because that’s what you do!

Now, for those of you who are unfamiliar, Toyland is a Gothic horror novel I started writing back in November for National Novel Writing Month. The story takes place at a boarding school in southern Ohio, and follows students being menaced by a ghost obsessed with a children’s book. Yes, that’s the plot. I can assure you, it’s just as bonkers as that pitch sounds. I hoped to have it done by the end of January, but I’m glad I was able to finish it by the end of February, which is still a whole new record for me in terms of writing a novel (I think Rose had the last one at around six or seven months).

And how is the first draft?

Well, it’s a first draft, which means it’s crap.

Okay, that might be harsh. It not crap, it just needs a lot of work. First drafts are nicknamed “rough drafts” for a reason, after all. I’m going to have to do a whole lot of editing to get this book out to people. And I may need to have someone take a look at it just to make sure it can survive out in the world as a full novel. I did that with Rose, after all, and Rose is doing very well now, with an audio book and some awesome new reviews.

So how long is Toyland, anyway? I knew it would be longer than fifty-thousand words (the minimum word count for “succeeding” at NaNoWriMo), but I haven’t done a count recently. Give me a moment to do some math…holy crap! In terms of pages (with twelve-point, Times New Roman font, double-spaced on regular MS Word paper), Toyland is three hundred and sixty pages long and 97,186 words! For context, the first Harry Potter novel is around seventy-seven thousand words.

This isn’t the longest story I’ve ever written (that honor goes to my thriller Snake), but still pretty freaking long.

So what’s next? Well, obviously I’m going to party a bit (pizza and locally made mead tonight!). But in terms of Toyland, I’m going to let it be for a while. I always believe a story needs to lie and sleep for a while before editing, so I can look at it with fresh eyes. After a second draft, I may start looking for a publisher. Hopefully, it won’t take five years like it did with Rose to get it published.

I wanted to post this graphic one last time.

In the meantime, I’ll try to take a little vacation from writing anything except blog posts (though if the writing bug gets me, that’s that). After that, I’ll try my hand at those ten short(er) stories I mentioned in a previous post. Two of those stories, by the way, take place in Victorian England and one of which I hope to put into that short story collection I’m putting together. I’m looking forward to them. I may also work on an essay which has been cooking in the back of my mind. We’ll see what happens.

For now though, I’m off to relax. Thanks for supporting me during this writing process, my Followers of Fear. I hope you’ll check out Toyland when it comes out and maybe let me know what you think of it. For now though, how about checking out my novel Rose? It’s a Kafkaesque horror story about a young woman turning into a plant creature (and that’s just the start of her problems). If Toyland sounds up your alley, you’ll probably enjoy Rose. I’ll post the links below.

Until next time, pleasant nightmares!

Rose: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada, Audible

Before I start this post, I just want to let everyone who read that title and got concerned, thinking I was going to talk about something negative like giving up on my dreams or whatnot, that that’s not what this post is about. It’s actually a happy post.

Anyway, as many of you are aware, I’ve been making tremendous progress with the novel I started last month, Toyland. If you are unaware, Toyland is a Gothic horror novel about a boarding school haunted by a ghost obsessed with a children’s book. Yes, I’m writing a story with a premise that bonkers. Bonkers premises tend to work for me (click here for further proof). And as I said, I’ve been making tremendous progress on it. Or as my Grandma told me on the phone last night, “You’re just zipping along with it!”

(If she reads this post, she’s going to plotz over seeing herself mentioned here.)

I’ve noticed that zipping along myself, and I’ve wondered about it. Past novels I’ve worked on, as well as some short stories and novelettes, have taken months at a time to write. Occasionally, they’ve taken years (especially if I find myself stuck and have to take a break from the story). What’s so different about this one? A dark premise and some weird things occurring is not unusual for me, so it’s not the plot. And I’ve done National Novel Writing Month before, so that this novel started out as a project for that probably hasn’t affected much.

If I had to guess, I think it might be that I’m fooling myself by underestimating how long the chapters are going to be. Let me explain:

Although I’ve been writing this novel since January, I’ve been planning and researching it far longer than that. Going back months, or years, if you count when I started learning what constituted Gothic literature. Consequently, I’ve had some scenes in this story in my head for a while, and they always seem very short when I play it in my head.

What’s short in your head doesn’t necessarily translate as short once you put it down on paper. In fact, you can spend about twelve-hundred words or more describing a new setting, especially if it’s fantastical. Add in dialogue, action, exploring the characters’ emotions, etc. and what you’re imagining will be maybe sixteen-hundred words at most turns out to be nearly twice that! And yet, I still think to myself as I write, “Just a few hundred words more. Can’t be more than three hundred. Almost at the end.” Over and over, until the chapter ends, and it’s a lot more words than I expected.

Given that I’ve figured that out, however, there’s a chance that strategy won’t work for me after a while. I’ll know what to expect now and the spell won’t work. On that other hand, these past two months has been illuminating as to how much I can get done when I apply myself, so that may make up for it. At this time, I’m over halfway through the book, and on my way to two-thirds. A couple of years ago, this sort of progress in a few months would be confined to the realms of the imagination.

Now I know what’s in my imagination can exist in the real world.

If you need me, this is a great representation of what I’m up to these days.

In the meantime, I’ll use that knowledge, and keep fooling myself until I can’t anymore, and eventually, finish this book. As well as any story that comes after.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’ll hopefully post something again before December 31st, but if I don’t, thank you for everything this fantastic 2019!* Have a fantastic New Year, and I’ll see you next week/month/year/decade.** I’m off to go finish a chapter.

Until next time, pleasant nightmares!

*Fantastic on a personal level, anyway. On a national and global level, while there were signs of improvement (looking at you, Greta Thunberg), this year has been a bit of a dumpster fire.

**Yeah, let that sink in. After Tuesday next week, not only will it be a new month, but a new year and a new decade. Crazy, right?

So, I’m sick again. I didn’t want to be sick today, especially because I had some things I wanted to do today during and after work. Now, the only things I can really do is binge-watch anime and write. Thankfully, I didn’t let my lazy side take over too much and finished Chapter Fifteen of Toyland, putting me halfway through the first draft.

So if you’re not aware, Toyland is my latest novel, and started out as my project for National Novel Writing Month. It’s a Gothic novel about a boarding school haunted by a ghost obsessed with a children’s book. Or at least, that’s what it’s supposed to be. As predicted, it’s going from a Gothic horror story into weird territory the farther in I get. Not sure if that’s a good thing or bad at this juncture, but I’m sure if it’s bad, I can fix it in subsequent drafts.

As I was saying, I’m halfway through Toyland. Chapter-wise, anyway: I’m fifteen out of thirty (it was twenty-nine, but I split Chapter Thirteen in two for better narrative flow). So I think I’m still on track to finish the book by the end of January. Maybe a little longer if things get crazy between now and January 31st. Always a possibility when you’re trying to be an adult in today’s insane world.

I’m rambling, aren’t I? Blame it on the sickness.

Anyway, as of the completion of Chapter Fifteen, Toyland is 46,776 words long (for context, the first Harry Potter novel is seventy-seven thousand words or so). So my prediction that this first draft will be eighty-thousand or more words seems to be spot-on so far. I hope by the time it’s over, it’ll be a good first draft. Bonkers, but good too.

But until then, it’s time to call it a night. I’m going to work tomorrow, come heck or high water. Until next time, Followers of Fear, pleasant nightmares!

The audiobook cover for Rose. Available now from Audible and Amazon.

Oh, one last thing before I forget. As you know, the audio book for my previous novel, Rose, was just released Tuesday. It’s the Kafkaesque horror story of a young woman named Rose Taggert who wakes up in a greenhouse with no memory of how she got there or why. Soon after, her life and her body undergoes a strange transformation. One that can’t be undone.

You can check it out by using the links below. Available in e-book, paperback and, of course, audio book.

Rose: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada, Audible

Well, November is over. And so, by the way, is NaNoWriMo. So you know what that means. Time to give you all my final report of how this past month went!

Now, if you’re unfamiliar, National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, is an annual challenge in November where authors around the world try to write a fifty thousand word novel in thirty days, or about 1,667 words per day. The last time I participated was in college, but I decided to participate this year and even took time off work to get a good start on the novel. My project this year is called Toyland, and is a Gothic horror novel about a boarding school in Ohio that’s haunted by the ghost of a girl obsessed with a children’s book.

Yeah, the premise is as bonkers as that of Rose. But hey, that’s kind of the way I like it.

So now that November is over, how did work on Toyland go?

Well. I think it went well. I managed to get quite a bit of work on the novel done in a short span of time. Yeah, my ADHD often led me to distraction, and the normal things that come up in life–errands, social events, and all the stuff you do as a functioning adult and member of society–took away from writing time. And after I went back to work, things only got more hectic. But I still managed to write and discovered just how much I can write when I really set my mind to it. And during the time when I was off work, I got a glimpse as to what life could be like if I ever am able to write full time (fingers crossed someday that happens), which was neat.

Anyway, time for the final word count (I won’t go into page count because that varies depending on a number of factors). At the time midnight rolled around, I was halfway through Chapter Ten of Toyland. As of my stopping to write this post, Toyland is now 34,284 words long. Last time I participated, I think I wrote about thirty thousand words, so this was some positive growth. So while I didn’t reach the fifty thousand word goal, I do consider NaNoWriMo 2019 a huge success.

Hell, I might do it again next year, and take time off as well. I already know what novel I’d like to work on next, so it’d work out, and I earn a lot more time off at work these days, so it could happen.

Still have plenty of writing to do on this book. And I plan to keep at it.

In the meantime, though, I’m still not done with Toyland. I have a feeling this novel’s going to be somewhere around eighty thousand or more words,* so I still have plenty of writing to do. I’m aiming to have it done by the end of January, but we’ll see what happens. You can’t rush perfection, after all. And even if my work is far from perfect, the sentiment stands.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’m not sure when I’ll provide another update on Toyland or post again, but I can assure you it’ll be very soon.

But before that, have you considered a gift for the lover of the strange and macabre this December?** Why not give them a copy of Rose? The novel follows Rose Taggert, a young woman who wakes up in a greenhouse with no memory of how she got there. She soon finds her life, and her body, irrevocably changed forever, and with it comes many dark forces and powerful secrets that will lead to a desperate fight for survival. It’s dark and engaging Kafkaesque horror novel that will leave you glued to the page until you reach the end. Available from the links below (with an audio book link coming soon).

Rose: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada

Until next time, Followers of Fear, happy reading and pleasant nightmares!

*For context, the first Harry Potter book is about seventy-seven thousand words.

**Yes, I’m doing this. Can you blame me? It is that time of year, after all.

Thomas’s previous work, Kill Creek, is an excellent piece of modern Gothic fiction and is currently my favorite novel (read my review here). When I heard Mr. Thomas had another book, Violet, on its way out, I immediately requested my library buy copies, and then got on the reserve list. Due to my crazy life, it took me two check-outs to finish the book, but I finally did so this evening. And now, it is my solemn duty and great pleasure to do a review. Let’s get to it.

Violet follows Kris Barlow, a veterinarian and mother of a young girl. After the death of Kris’s husband scars her daughter Sadie, she decides to pack the family up and retreat to her childhood lake house in the heartland of Kansas in an effort to heal. The same lake house, by the way, where Kris’s own mother died years ago. However, in-between the home improvement projects on the long-neglected home and Kris’s own fears, something in that house awakens. And it has a special interest in Kris and Sadie, one stemming all the way back to Kris’s buried childhood.

While I didn’t react as enthusiastically to Violet as I did to Kill Creek, I did find it a great slow-burn horror story.

Thomas does a great job job taking his time so we can get to know our main character Kris. By the time I was halfway through the book, she felt like a real person to me. Especially in terms of her anxieties; while what she’s worried about is different from my own anxieties, the emotion behind them felt like my own anxiety when its ugly head rears. That’s not easy to do.

You also get to know the town of Pacington, kind of like you get to know the town of Derry in IT. The atmosphere and melancholy of the town, as well as its citizens, all of it becomes very real to the reader.

All this with the same sort of storytelling Thomas displayed with Kill Creek, allowing the story with its secrets and intrigue and twists to fully take form over the course of 400-plus pages. For about two hundred pages, I was sure I knew what the big reveal was. Turns out, I was very wrong, and I was so glad for it.

That being said, there was one aspect of the novel I didn’t care for. While the slow-burn aspect worked for the most part, allowing for the reader to become embroiled in the town, in Kris’s life, and in the strange events occurring, at times it did drag a bit. I found myself thinking at times, “Come on! Something extremely creepy, please happen!” That may just be my quirk, though. Anyone who’s read my work may have noticed I like to get to the horror and the strange going-ons sooner rather than later. So maybe it was just a little too slow at times for me and me alone.

All in all, Violet is a great follow-up to Kill Creek that takes its time and helps immerse you in the story. On a scale of 1 to 5, I give the novel an even 4. Check it out and settle in. You’re in for a ride.

I’m a little amazed how quickly the month has gone by. As of today, there are only nine days left in the month. And after that, a different kind of countdown will commence.

But onto the main subject of this post. As you all probably know by now, I’m taking part in National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, this year. My project this year is called Toyland, and it’s a Gothic horror novel about a boarding school haunted by a ghost obsessed with a children’s book. And while the goal of NaNoWriMo is to write an entire fifty thousand word novel, I’d be happy to make it halfway, or even more than thirty thousand words (how much I wrote the last time I participated).

So if you read my post from last week, I was over twenty-one thousand words and six chapters into the novel. I guess it was inevitable that there would be a slow-down after getting so much done in two weeks, because this past week I only made so much progress. I didn’t even get any writing done on Monday or Tuesday, in fact, and that might’ve been the case yesterday if I didn’t wake up sick and had to stay home. Yeah, that happened. And for all I know, it may happen again (it is that time of year).

So how much progress did I make? As of last night, I’m in the middle of writing Chapter Eight and the novel is currently 26,746 words. Which is still good progress, but I was hoping for more by the time I typed up this report.

At least I’m close to making that thirty thousand word goal.

I’m also at the point of the first draft where I am questioning A LOT of my creative decisions. Should I include this? Should I write out that? Does that sound too preachy? Am I getting away from the point of my novel? This is something every creator goes through at least once while working on a project–I went through it every day during some of the later drafts of Rose–and it’s never fun. For the most part, I’m just trying to move past those feelings and make more progress on this novel. Because at the end of the day, even if this novel is totally bonkers, it’s my kind of bonkers, so at least I’ll be happy with it.

Anyway, I’m going to try and get some more progress on this chapter done tonight. However, I’m also going to try to go to bed early tonight, because as I said I’ve been sick recently and I don’t want a relapse.

With that said, I’ll sign off now, my Followers of Fear. The next update for Toyland will likely be December 1st, after NaNoWriMo’s done and I have the latest tally on the numbers. But don’t worry, you’ll hear from me in the meantime. And until then, pleasant nightmares!