Posts Tagged ‘holidays’

Today is April 1st, which as we all know is April Fool’s Day, a day to have an excuse to be cruel to one another by making jokes or putting people in embarrassing situations. I absolutely love this day, because I love a good joke, and I love being the one to tell it. Or in some cases, to pull it. So I thought, as a departure from the norm, I’d list some pranks and practical jokes I’ve been part of over the years. It’s a list I hope you find as hilarious reading it as I did doing the pranks in the first place. Enjoy!

That time with the Jason Voorhees costume. I’m a huge fan of the Friday the 13th franchise, and so it shouldn’t surprise anyone that I have the costume for the series’ main villain. So during my second year of college, when I still lived in the dorms, I decided, in honor of April Fool’s Day, to ride up and down the elevator in my dorm building, wait for people to get on, and scare the living daylights out of them as they got on. It worked like a charm. Most people jumped, a few didn’t really react. One girl I was friends with screamed like a murder victim and then cussed me out for scaring her.

To this day, I’m still surprised I wasn’t punched.

I make this costume work.

That time with Bones and Booth’s engagement. Going back a few years to high school, my mom was driving my sister and I to a youth group event, and my mom and sister were having a debate about the TV show Bones and the relationship of the main characters. My mom thought for some reason the leads were married, my sister insisted Booth, the male lead, was seeing someone else. Neither had seen the most recent episodes, and this gives me a great idea. I pull out my phone, and pretend to call a friend of mine. I have this whole fake conversation with my friend about the show, and my sister and mom buy it up without question. When I finish the fake call, I tell my mom and sister, “Bones and Booth are engaged.”

My sister freaks out! She’s screaming, “How is this possible! No! NO! How!” My mom and I are laughing hysterically, and I’m trying not to throw up in the car. This goes on for about five minutes before my sister fishes out her own phone and starts texting everyone she knows, trying to find someone who’s seen the most recent episodes. By the time we get to where we’re going, she’s finally found someone who’s seen the most recent episodes, and has found out the truth. Oh, I slept with one eye open that night.

The many times with the phone. How do you do a crank call in the age of Caller ID? Well, there are two ways: one is that you answer the phone in wacky ways. My dad and uncle are used to picking up the phone and getting a hello from a pest exterminator, a law firm with wacky partners, and even once or twice a kink shop (my dad hates that one!). The other is get transferred around a few times so that your number is hidden from Caller ID, and see where it lands you. I’ve called my high school headmaster a few times, pretending to be anyone from “Doris Widdershins,” a stuffy upper-class Pittsburgh socialite with a son she’d like to enroll in the school, “Kay Cappuchio,” a reality star with a dog, and “Rabbi Abraham Irving,” a rabbi from Yeshiva University who wanted to award the school for excellent graduates. He’s only figured out it’s me about half the time! And the best part is, I got away with it every time, which is remarkable considering some of them I did while still his student! He was way too lenient with me.

The time I got featured in a prank video. This one isn’t of my doing, but one I just happened to stumble into. This guy on YouTube named Dennis Roady does all these pranks, and during my last year in college, he did one where he went to various libraries around Columbus, including Ohio State’s Thompson Library, and used a Bluetooth connection to make us hear sex noises and wonder where the hell they’re coming from. The video is below, and I come in about two and a half minutes. It was actually pretty clever.

Naughty!

The time with the text and the drugs. A while back, there was this thing where you’d text your parents and pretend you had accidentally sent a text meant for your drug dealer, and see what happens. I did it on my parents back in 2014. My dad figured out pretty quickly that it was a prank. My mom actually called me right before one of my classes started to see if I was actually on drugs. It was pretty funny. I told my mom, “Ima, do you really think I’d do drugs?”” She replied, “You told me you were hit by a car last year, and I didn’t believe you! It actually happened!” (And it did, by the way. Story for another time).

Lesson learned: careful with what pranks I send my mother’s way.

The time at camp. This prank actually backfired on me: the summer before eighth grade, I was at sleep away camp, and a couple of my friends and I decided to sneak over to one of the girls’ bunks in our year and scare them on a night the counselors would be at a staff meeting, just for the heck of it. The older bunks at our camp back then had trap doors in the back storage rooms in case of fire, so we sneak out those and somehow get to the girls’ bunks without getting caught. We disguise ourselves with masks one of my friends smuggled in, intending to pop up through the trap door in their bunk, run around screaming to get the girls screaming, and then run out and back home before security or counselors can catch us. We find the trap door, and I go first.

I pop up through the closet, screaming like a ghoul. And I see a girl sitting on an empty milk crate, reading a paperback with a skull on the cover by flashlight (I think it may have been some edition of Silence of the Lambs) in the back storage room I’ve appeared in. And the girl falls off the crate screaming, flashlight shining everywhere. At the same time, something wet and yellow flies through the air and hits me right in the mask, getting into my eyes and mouth. Apparently I scared her enough to pee her shorts and me with them.

Naturally, I fall out the trap door, spitting and laughing and trying not to vomit. My friends are asking me what happened, but I can’t tell them, and anyway, it doesn’t matter, because there’s a passing security team, and they hear the noise. We run for home before we can get caught, and somehow make it back safe, at which point I throw away the mask, take a second shower, and brush my teeth about ten times. Never found out who the girl was, but I think we both got stuck in each other’s memories that day.

That time with the cult. This actually happened last year. I met up with a friend of mine at Starbucks and, because it was April 1st, decided to play a prank on her. I told her my dad and I had had a fight because I was leaving Judaism for a religious group called The One (complete with cult-like hand motions when referring to the group or anything associated with it). She bought it until I said we worshiped a fox god, at which point she asked if this was an April Fool’s prank. I admitted it was, though I did also blow her mind by telling her that The One is a real thing. It’s just not a cult: The One is the name for fans of Babymetal, the Japanese J-Pop/metal fusion band I’m a huge fan of (so I technically am part of The One), and the band’s members say they get their ability to rock out from a fox god.

Weirdness never ceases, does it?

The Fox God

That time I pranked you. That’s right, you’ve been pranked. How, you ask? One of these stories is actually fake! That’s right, you read them, and you may have believed all of them! But the question is, which one is it? Give your thoughts in the comments below. Here’s a hint; it’s not the one with the video.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I hope you laughed yourself silly reading this, and I hope you have a hilarious April Fools’ Day. I know I will. Until next time!

first-day-first-paragraph-tag

Happy New Year, Followers of Fear! It’s January 1, 2017, and I’ll be talking about the past year in another post, but right now, it’s time to see if I can make this tag I created catch on. It’s time for the “First Day, First Paragraph” tag. And if you don’t know the rules, here they are:

  1. Publish your own post on the first day of the month.
  2. Use the graphic above
  3. Thank and link back to the person who tagged you.
  4. Explain the rules like I’m doing now.
  5. Post the first paragraph of a story you’ve written, are writing, or plan to write someday.
  6. Ask your readers for feedback.
  7. Finally, tag someone to do the post next month (for example, if you do the tag on the first of August, the person you tag has to do it on the first of September), and comment on one of their posts to let them know the good news.

Published on January 1st? Check. Used the graphic? Check. Thank and link back to the person who tagged me? Not necessary, I created this tag. Explain the rules? Done.

Now to post the first paragraph of one of my works. As last month I did Video Rage, and the month before I did Reborn City, I think this month I’ll do Snake. For those of you who don’t know, Snake is a novel I published back in 2014 about a serial killer hunting down members of a powerful mafia family. It’s like Taken with a much more violent and horror-themed twist to it. It’s definitely one of my darker stories, and it’s also one of my favorites. Enjoy:

Paul Sanonia had been touched by a nightmare, an unbelievable disaster that had manifested in reality where it shouldn’t belong. Tonight, he was dwelling on the nightmare in St. Mark’s Cathedral—it didn’t matter that it wasn’t a Catholic cathedral, at this point a mosque would do—and no matter how many times he turned it over in his mind, he couldn’t see what the reason was behind it all, why his life had to have been touched, and why his cousin’s life had to have been touched more.

How did that opening paragraph sound? Let me know in the comments below.

And in the meantime, I’m going to tag someone to do this on February 1st. And it only seems fitting that I tag the author who helped me get this book to publication. I choose Angela Misri, author of Jewel of the Thames. Hope you decide to do this Angela, and have fun with it!

Alright, I’ve got one more post to release today, so I’m going to get to work on that. Until next time, my Follower of Fear.

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

The NaNoWriMo logo/coat of arms.

Well, it’s December 1st. That means a couple of things: start of the holiday season and prep for the new year, the days get to their shortest point, I try to push a tag with the hope that it will become a trend (so far, it’s been hit and miss with those I’ve tagged). For writers around the world, however, it means National Novel Writing Month, and assessing how each person did and how their manuscripts turned out.

I’ve actually always found National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for short, full of strange contradictions. For one thing, it takes place around the world, but it’s kept “national.” Heck, even the month’s official website puts you in touch with participants from all over the world! Why don”t we change the name?

For another thing, it’s amazing how many authors take this challenge seriously. For those of you who don’t know, during the month of November, many writers try to write a fifty-thousand word novel within 30 days (that’s about 1667 words per day if you want the math). And I’ve seen so many author friends on Facebook and in blogs lament how they only got so many words down. “I only got eight-thousand words.” “I was so close to 50K!” “This NaNoWriMo sucked! I hardly got any work done.” I don’t even want to know what they thought of the material they wrote.

Just for clarification, there’s no actual prize if you write a 50K novel in 30 days. You just get bragging rights. But plenty of authors see it as a reflection of themselves if they can’t get the words down. And I actually kind of understand this: on nights when I didn’t write anything down (and those nights occurred quite often, sadly), I felt like it was some sort of reflection on my skills or on myself as a writer. It didn’t matter if there just wasn’t enough time before bed, or if I had a book I really wanted to read, or if I just didn’t feel like writing that night. I felt bad. Maybe not as bad as I could have felt, I have a day job that takes up a good chunk of time, so I at least have an excuse for why I’m not writing more. But I bet for those who write full-time, it could be very frustrating when they didn’t reach their goals.

So how did I do, now that we’re on the subject? Well, I knew that with a job and that unfortunate habit of sleeping seven hours a night, plus eating and bill-paying and grocery shopping and everything else that goes on in my life, I had only so much time to do any work. Therefore, I decided that I would keep my expectations reasonable. I decided that I would aim to get ten-thousand words done, and if I got past that, I would aim for another five-thousand afterwards. If I somehow managed to get past that, I’d aim for five-thousand more, and so on and so forth. The result was I probably felt less stress than my colleagues, and I consequently met my first goal, and got more than halfway to my second goal.

To be exact, I got 13,821 words down by the end of the month, about four-and-a-half chapters worth of story. It wasn’t easy, but I managed to do it. How did it turn out? Well, I guess as well as a first draft can turn out. I mean, it’s only in the subsequent drafts that novels actually become the brilliant stories we all hold so dear. During the first drafts, they’re like pre-Fairy Godmother Cinderella: full of beauty and potential but in need of some serious clean up. My own NaNoWriMo project, Full Circle, has a lot of good stuff in it so far. It’s the third book in my Reborn City series, and considering that I started this series about eight years ago, this novel is already showing my growth over that time the most more than any recent story I’ve written.

Still, I think Chapter 1 could use a lot of clean-up. There’s a lot of exposition there, so making it work with the real storytelling moments is important. And possibly the prologue could use some polish as well. Yeah, I included a prologue with this book. New thing for this series, but I think it’s good for this book. Just needs some edits.

In the meantime though, I still have an entire novel to finish, and it’ll probably be a lot longer than 50K. I’m hoping that I can finish it by mid-spring 2017, and have it out early 2018 at the latest. We’ll see what happens.

Well, that’s all for now. Unless there’s something worth posting about, I’ll try to put out a Writing/Reflections-themed post out at some point during that month. In the meantime, it’s writing, writing, writing, and hopefully a lot of it.

Until next time, my Followers of Fear!

Hey, Followers of Fear! Long time no see! I’ve been busy trying to get a short story done before November 1st. And tonight, I managed to do it. Car Chasers is a short story that centers around a Fast & Furious-esque race held in a forest where ghosts chase the racers. Yeah, it’s a pretty out there concept, isn’t it? And I think it might make a great movie, even without Vin Diesel in a starring role.

I liked writing this story for a number of reasons. Along with a fun concept, it focused on a particular incident with these races, told through the point of view of an unreliable narrator. Normally, the unreliable narrators I encounter in fiction are jackasses (the main characters of Gone Girl and Patrick Bateman from American Psycho, for example), but the narrator in this story is actually telling it trying to put a good spin on a friend of his, which is different from my normal experience. I also put a few people I know in the story in varying capacities (you’re welcome, Pat Bertram and Melissa Mendel), and named the bad guy of this story after a certain public figure I dislike a lot right now. Yeah, I’m sadistic that way. It’s fun.

So when can you read this story? Well, it’s a first draft, and it’s going to need a lot of work. For one thing, there are some places in the story that could be fixed or trimmed down. As the story is a bit over ten-thousand words, and therefore technically a novelette, I might want to really trim it down if I want to get it into a magazine. If that doesn’t happen, I can see this in my upcoming collection of short stories, Teenage Wasteland. The characters are at the right age, so it’s a good choice for the collection.

In the meantime though, November is just around the corner. And for novelists, that means one thing: National Novel Writing Month. I’ve got the final Reborn City novel to write, and after that, I’m devoting all my time to getting that novel and Teenage Wasteland out as soon as possible.

Well, that’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’ll see you guys with a couple of posts on November 1st, when I’ll be doing another “First Day, First Paragraph” Tag, and talking about Reborn City and the final novel, Full Circle. Have a happy Halloween, guys. See you soon!

Okay, so I was grocery shopping yesterday at Meijer’s (which is a huge superstore, if you live outside the American Midwest and don’t have the chain near you), and they have this huge Halloween section around this time of year. I think, “Hey, why not pick up some stuff to decorate the apartment? After all, Halloween is a year-long thing with me.” So I go shopping, looking at what I want to furnish the apartment with, and I find an animatronic grim reaper near the back. And I decide to have some fun with it. And this was the result.

How did you like that? I thought it was hilarious enough to film, and then to post online. And since YouTube is the platform to post videos on, here you go. One YouTube video, for your enjoyment. And the best part is, the title of the video is just goofy enough that I think people will actually click on it and watch it.

By the way, after I filmed this, I had my younger sister walk in front of the skeleton. It freaked her out enough to make her jump back two feet, which was pretty hilarious. Sadly though, I did not get it on video, but I’m not sure my sister would like me putting her in a YouTube video, so maybe that’s for the best.

I seriously doubt this will go viral, but I hope a lot of people see it and find it hilarious. I also hope that my voice does not sound that reedy outside of recordings, but this isn’t a perfect world, so maybe that’s how my voice actually sounds and I just hear it differently.

Well, that’s all for now. I hope to have some more Halloween-related stuff out this month, including a picture of me in my Halloween costume (believe me, it’s a real freaky one this year. Until next time, my Followers of Fear.

first-day-first-paragraph-tag

It’s time for another tag. Only this time, I’m the one who created it! Mwa ha ha ha!

And sorry if the graphic is kind of basic. First time using Canva.com (which I think I’ll use in the future for other projects).

So as many of you know, I had to stop doing #FirstLineFriday on a weekly basis because I needed to spend more time writing. Still, I liked doing #FirstLineFriday, and I think a lot of you enjoyed it too (I certainly never got any comments or messages from anyone saying that they hated my #FirstLineFriday posts). So I decided to create a tag that I could do on a less frequent basis, but does something similar to #FirstLineFriday. Hence the creation of the “First Day, First Paragraph” Tag.*

Now that that explanation is out of the way, let’s get down to the nitty gritty details. Here are the rules. Once tagged for “First Day, First Paragraph,” you must:

  1. Publish your own post on the first day of the month.
  2. Use the graphic above
  3. Thank and link back to the person who tagged you.
  4. Explain the rules like I’m doing now.
  5. Post the first paragraph of a story you’ve written, are writing, or plan to write someday.
  6. Ask your readers for feedback.
  7. Finally, tag someone to do the post next month (for example, if you do the tag on the first of August, the person you tag has to do it on the first of September), and comment on one of their posts to let them know the good news.

Rules 1 and 2 are done. I’m not going to link back to me or thank me, because that’s weird. And I just did number 4, so now onto number 5. As it’s October, and that means Halloween, I’m going to do a potential opening for a story idea I have that takes place around Halloween. Anyway, enjoy:

Lanie sat in her chair, feeling like a piece of shit. It was over. Everything was over. She had had one last shot, one last chance to prove herself as an actress before the money ran out and she had to pack it up and head back home. Why couldn’t she have held it together? She had been so confident coming in, knew every line from the audition script by heart (most of it raunchy jokes and puns revolving around shoes and feet), as well as how to say each line to deliver the most punch. And she had totally fucked it up. Now she had no chance of getting the stupid part!

Thoughts? Errors? Let’s discuss in the comments below.

And now to tag someone to continue the tag. I had two people I wanted to be my first victim tag. In the end, I chose to do one person this month and the other next month, because the first person usually loves doing tags. So, Kat Impossible, you’ve been tagged! You have to do the “First Day, First Paragraph” Tag on November 1st. Have fun! I can’t wait to see what you come up with.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’ll have a Reflections post later this month, most likely, so keep an eye out for it. Until then, as always, I’ll update you if anything needs updating. Have a great October, my Followers of Fear! I know I plan to.

*This is actually the second tag I’ve created. The first, The Black Dragon Award, was back in 2013. Sadly, I don’t think it got very far after the first few nominations. Perhaps someday I’ll have to try to resurrect it. You never know. It could go much farther this time.