Thursday, December 8, 2011

Swish and Flick!

Harry Potter is so unrealistic. A school full of hormonal, pubescent wizard boys, and not one of them - over the course of 7 years - ever tries to Wingardium Leviosa the girls' dress robes? Puh-lease.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Very Scary Christmas Anthology

When Kyra Dawson approached me a few months ago, calling out for any short Christmas-themed horror stories for an upcoming anthology, only one possibility came to mind: You Did It Again. It took quite a bit of digging through very old notebooks, and I was about on the verge of giving up and starting over from scratch when finally I came to the notebook at the bottom of the pile, and lo and behold, at the very back of the book, was this short story I had scribbled down about six years ago.

It all started with what was probably the most vivid nightmare I have ever had - and that's saying something. To this very day, I still recall with stark clarity the image of a girl, kneeling by her dying mother in the snow, the red of the blood-stained snow blending beautifully (and horrifically) with the mother's red hair, which spread out through the snow from her head like an incredible system of red rivers.

As the mother died, she whispered to her daughter, "You did it again." And then I woke up.

Very few dreams stay with me after I wake, but this one in particular haunted me for weeks after, and so I knew I had to write it down.

Most of what I recall of the rest of the dream is just vague impressions: a family stranded in a remote cabin during a blizzard, a very creepy child who they bring in from the cold, an old Texas Chainsaw Massacre-esque barn, and the monsters - oh, the monsters.

But that last scene of the mother dying in the snow, and her last words, that image has never left my mind and is still as crystal clear as if I had only just woken up from the dream.

A Very Scary Christmas - the anthology that Kyra Dawson had approached me about -  is a collection of seven horror/supernatural-themed Christmas stories, all written by members of the Scriborium Guild.

Also included in this anthology: A man grapples with his sanity as people close to him mysteriously begin vanishing into thin air in William Topek's, That Holiday Spirit; Christmas haunts interrupt a family reunion in Rosey Reay's Christmas Reunion at Villa El Figueral; a modern-day Scrooge finds out what fate lies in store for those deemed beyond redemption by the Spirits of Christmas in Sean Hayden's The Ghost of Christmas Last; mystery unfolds in an abandoned lighthouse in Athol Foden's Windy Lights; Michael faces the demons of lost memory in David Govett's The Christmas Card; and Eden struggles to bring an end to a curse that has plagued her family for generations in Kyra Dawson's I'll Be Home For Christmas.

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Saturday, October 8, 2011

For Halloween: Harry Potter and Frankenstein

Very recently, I discovered the Harry Potter fan PodCast, Hogwarts Radio, and I have been going back through all of their older episodes, to get caught up. This past week, I listened to their Halloween 2010 episode, in which they had a very interesting conversation topic for their main discussion (not that they don’t have interesting conversation topics for all of their episodes, but this one in particular caught my attention).
For this discussion, they took three works of classic horror literature – Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde – and compared them to J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series.
I was particularly intrigued by their discussion on Frankenstein, in which they compared Victor Frankenstein’s monster to Lord Voldemort and, to a slightly lesser extent, Victor Frankenstein to Harry Potter.
As intriguing as their discussion was, I think they rather missed out on a key point that would have enabled them to broaden their comparison even further. Throughout their discussion, they stuck to the analysis of Victor being the protagonist, and the Creature being the antagonist. While this is certainly not an inaccurate analysis of the characters, part of what makes Frankenstein such a wonderful work of literature is that there are many, many layers to the story and its characters.
On the surface, it is very easy to label Victor as “The Hero” and the Creature as “The Villain.” However, when you really delve into analyzing the book, and Mary Shelley’s overall message of the story, it is actually almost more accurate to label the Creature as the protagonist, and Victor as the antagonist.
Everything that happens in the story is because of Victor and his actions – or lack thereof. Victor brought the Creature into the world, and Victor abandoned the Creature when he saw how hideous it was after he had brought it to life. The Creature was initially benevolent in nature, but when left to face the world and the cruelty of human nature alone, his benevolence became warped and twisted by fear and hate. We are left to wonder what might have happened had Victor not abandoned his creation, but proceeded to care for it and educate it himself, and perhaps even introduce it to the world at large, not as a monster, but as an experiment (not unlike Mel Brooks’ envisioning of the story in his timeless parody, Young Frankenstein).
But, unfortunately, Victor did abandon his creation, and therefore the Creature was forced to fend for himself in a world of humans who fear and hate anything that which is different and that they do not understand.
And yet, up until his dying moments, Victor refused to acknowledge the possibility that the Creature was not evil in nature, but became evil due to this abandonment.
So, how does this tie in to Harry Potter? Not very much, even I admit. However, there are very intriguing comparisons to be made, nonetheless. The Hogwarts Radio team made some very interesting observations in their comparisons of Victor to Harry and the Creature to Voldemort, however I find the comparisons between Victor and Voldemort and the Creature and Harry much more intriguing.
For example, Victor created the Creature out of his obsession with conquering death. Voldemort, as we all know, was also obsessed with conquering death, so much so that he went so far as splitting his soul into seven pieces for the purpose of anchoring himself to the mortal realm. It was this blind obsession with defeating death that led Voldemort to Godric’s Hollow on Halloween, where – in a sense – he created Harry Potter by killing Harry’s parents and inadvertently placing a fraction of his soul inside of Harry. In the end, it was Voldemort’s quest for immortality that led to the “creation” of the one who ultimately brought him to his downfall, just as it was Victor’s quest for immortality that led to the creation of the one who ultimately brought him to his downfall.
As I said earlier, up until his last breath, Victor refused to acknowledge the possibility that he might have been wrong about the Creature, and yet the Creature grieved over the death of his creator and the lives he had cost. Despite all the pain Victor had caused the Creature, the Creature was still able to find it in himself to pity and forgive Victor. Likewise, Voldemort also never was able to admit that he might have been wrong about Harry, yet Harry was able to find it in himself to pity and forgive Voldemort.
That’s about as far as I’ve been able to take it. I’m sure that there are even further comparisons that could be made between the two works of literature, if one were to really dissect the two, but those are the obvious ones to be found.
So, even though it may seem on the surface that these two stories – written almost two hundred years apart – may not have all that much in common, we can still see that there are parallels to be drawn, as the Hogwarts Radio crew started to show and that, hopefully, I have elaborated on.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Gone to the Dogs

A friend once told me that in recent years, Mark Hammill has really gone to the dogs. I told her that although I hadn't heard about that particular rumor about Mark Hammill, I had heard about other people deciding to live amongst animals, and while I personally wouldn't choose that path, I really couldn't find any reason to judge other people's choice of lifestyles. She gave me the stink eye and walked away.  Some people just aren't very open minded.

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Best Years of Your Life

Whenever somebody tells me that their high school years were the best years of their life, I can't help but feel incredibly sorry for them.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Rice Cakes to the Rescue

Having spare rice cakes on hand has saved my life in numerous instances, the most recent case involved a gerbil, a manic clown, and one of the puppets from Disneyland's "It's a Small World" ride. It was a close call.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Net Neutrality

I'm all for net neutrality. Nets do a lot for us and are very useful (they catch us fish to eat, provide amusing ways to trap villains in cartoons, they can be used as underoos for prostitutes, to name but a few uses of nets), so the least we can do for them is give them some neutrality in return.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Age of Instant Communication

The dangerous paradox of living in this age of instant communication is that the act of communication has become something of a virtue. Apparently, because people have the ability to communicate instantly, they have lost the ability to communicate at all.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Thin Line

There is a very thin line between fighting for what you believe to be right and becoming that which you are fighting against.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Rise of the Planet of the Kitties

The other day, this article was posted on The headline reads, "Glow-In-The-Dark Cats Could Provide Answers About AIDS." No, you did not misread that. That is actually what the article is about. Genetically modified cats that glow in the dark and may be resistant to feline AIDS. Here's a picture of the Teenage Mutant Glow-in-the-Dark Kitties:

Animal cruelty issues aside, I can't help but think these guys should have watched "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" before proceeding with these experiments... Granted, I admit that "Rise of the Planet of the Kitties" doesn't really sound as scary as Apes, but I have to say that giant radioactive kittens would probably be quite terrifying in real life, if not on the big screen.

In any event, I definitely think that they have won the WTF of the Year Award. Granted, it is true that there are still three-and-a-half months left in 2011, but I think that prospective contestants for the not-so-coveted award will be rather hard-pressed to top this one.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


I have often said that it would not be completely unreasonable to suggest that if J.K. Rowling, Dan Brown, and Dean Koontz were to get together in a time machine and travel back to early 1982 so that they could have a drunken, care-free, night of passion with Douglas Adams, then I might have been the love child of such a coming together of literary minds.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The New Estate

Since Real Estate doesn't seem to be doing very well lately, I've decided that instead I am going to look into investing in Fake Estate. Hopefully that will prove to be a more profitable endeavor.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Indifferent Button

Everyone is always talking about how Facebook needs to have a
"Dislike" button.  While I agree that would be neat, I think there is another button that is needed much more.  I am referring, of course, to the "Indifferent" button.  It could also be called the "Who Cares?" button, the "Why Did You Waste Time Writing This?" button, or the "Who The Hell Gives a $#!+?" button.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Surgeon General's Warning Re: "The Noricin Chronicles"

It appears that there is a common side-effect amongst readers who read my book series The Noricin Chronicles late at night, and therefore the Surgeon General has stepped in and adamantly requested that I issue this warning.

As those of you who have read the books should already know, there is a character named Nevar Loeren who has what some might call an unhealthy obsession with pancakes. I have received numerous reports from readers that reading about Mr. Loeren's exploits in pancakes late at night apparently causes intense and irresistible cravings for pancakes.

So, please be careful when reading The Noricin Chronicles late at night, and always make sure to have some Bisquick handy or a twenty-four hour IHOP within driving distance.

I am now going to go out and buy some stock in Bisquick and IHOP.

Thank you.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Relation-aids and Band-ships

Some relationships are like band-aids. If you get rid of them too soon, you run the risk of getting infected, but if you leave them on too long, you get all itchy and your skin starts to wrinkle.

Thank You, Francesca!

About a week ago, I began conversing on YouTube with a teenage girl in Italy named Francesca.  Through the trailers on my YouTube Channel, Francesca had become interested in my books, The Noricin Chronicles, and wanted to know if they were available in Italy and translated into Italian.

It was with a heavy heart that I had to tell her that, unfortunately due to being a first-time self-published author I do not yet have an international distribution arrangement, nor the means to have my books translated into multiple languages. I figured this would be the end of Francesca's interest in the books, at least until I had acquired the means to make them available to her in her native tongue.

I was wrong.

A day or so later, Francesca contacted me again, letting me know that she had found my first three sample chapters of The Lost Boy (Book 1 of Noricin) on Scribd and that her mother had been helping her translate them into Italian. She had become so hooked, that she wanted to know if I could send her the full book.

Now, of course I could have just told her how to go about buying the PDF's on-line, but I was so tickled by the story, that I sent her not only the full e-book of The Lost Boy, but books 2-4 as well.  Francesca has now moved on to reading the books without the help of her mother or her computer, and she is currently in the midst of The Room of Death (Book 3).

In the past week, Francesca and I have been writing back and forth at least once a day (and often quite more), and it has been truly amazing to watch her English improve so dramatically in such a short amount of time. Today, she confessed to me that she's even started writing her letters to me with little or no help from the computer translator.

Francesca's beautiful story has genuinely touched me in ways that even I as a writer cannot possibly conjure the words necessary to describe. She has helped me remember WHY I became I writer in the first place - a gift which is far more precious than any material possession, and one that couldn't have come at a better time for me.

Finances have been tight lately, as they have been for everyone, and I have been particularly prone over the last several to intense bouts of depression from the pressures of being a new, self-published author in the current economic climate.

But my interactions with Francesca over the last week truly opened my eyes and reminded me of what it really means to be a storyteller. I hope that every author out there can find their own Francesca to remind them of this from time to time.

Even if I never sell another book again (which, of course, I hope doesn't happen!), Francesca has paid me in a way that will outlast any royalty payment, and for that I will be eternally grateful to her.

As a comedic little side note, after I told my parents (who recently returned from a vacation to Italy) about Francesca's story, their immediate response was to have me ask her where in Italy she lives. To me, asking a teenage girl over the internet where she lives did not seem to be the most appropriate action to take, especially as I have no interest in having the International Pedophile Police (IPP) break down my door in the middle of the night and drag me on Dateline.  Maybe I'm weird.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Twitlighters Must Stop

Let me start off by saying that, for the most part, I have come to peace with the Twilight books and movies.  They are not my personal cup of tea, but they have their place in the world of entertainment, and that's OK.  I'm not real thrilled about the fact that they essentially teach young girls that having a 100 year-old guy crawl through their window, watch them sleep, and dictate who they can and cannot be friends with is not creepy and abusive, but romantic.  

But aside from that detail, I'm at peace with the books.  As Melissa Anelli of PotterCast very aptly put it, "Harry Potter is my soul-mate, and Twilight is a hot weekend."

The Twitlighters, however, are another matter altogether.  And let me be clear: By Twitlighters I am referring to a very specific branch of the Twilight fandom.  Some Twilight fans are very nice people who actually do have a head on their shoulders.

The Twitlighters are the obnoxiously oblivious and idiotic fans who seem to think that the entire world revolves around their fandom.

I present Exhibit A: In This letter an angry Taylor Lautner fan writes to Universal attacking them for "ripping off" Twilight by making a werewolf movie - the remake of The Wolfman.  In this letter, the Twitlighter chastises Universal for ruining Stephanie Meyer's vision by making their werewolf an ugly, hideous monster, where as Taylor Lautner - the "true" werewolf - is beautiful, in both his wolf and human forms.

To this Twitlighter, I say: Sweetie, I think that Universal might have a slight head-start over Stephanie Meyer on the werewolf genre.  Also, technically speaking, Jacob Black is not a werewolf, but a shape-shifter, seeing as he can change at will and is not compelled by the full moon.  Of course, I guess I shouldn't expect you to do your homework on that aspect, seeing as Ms. Meyer didn't do her homework, either...

I now present Exhibit B: In this post this person attacks JK Rowling for ripping off Twilight, since Jacob Black and Sirius Black are both "werewolves" and they have the same last name.

Sweetie, again, I think that JK Rowling might have a slight head-start on Stephanie Meyer in this instance.  Get a calendar, this might help you understand the concept of time.  Also, see my previous comments about shape-shifters versus werewolves, and please note that, unlike Stephanie Meyer, JK Rowling did do her homework and understands the difference between a shape-shifter and a werewolf, as Sirius Black is NOT described as a werewolf, but an Animagus.

And, of course, there is that very special breed of Twitlighters that are absolutely convinced that Amy Lee wrote My Immortal for the Twilight series.  Again, buy a !@#$ing calendar already.  My Immortal: 2000. Twilight: 2005.  Do you see the problem here? Never mind the fact that the only book in the series that My Immortal even comes close to being applicable to is the second book (yes, this is my confession that I have read all the books, otherwise I would not feel comfortable making comments on them).

I'm just waiting for one of these idiots to accuse The Bible of ripping of Stephanie Meyer.  It will happen.  Just you wait.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

All The Answers

Always be very wary of anyone who claims to have all the answers.  In my experience, such people are either 1) trying to sell you something, B) trying to control you, III) idiots or *) all of the above.  Most often the latter.

Monday, August 1, 2011

On the Art of Critique

It has been my observation that the way in which one responds to art of any form - whether it be painting, music, or writing - usually tells infinitely more about the responder than it does about the art or its creator.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Seasons of the Day

Night time and I, we are best friends. We always know that we can rely on each other to be there when needed.
Afternoon and I are like cousins. We've had our falling outs, but we've come to a mutual understanding of each other and get along, for the most part.
Morning and I...Morning is a no-good, rotten, son of a bitch and we hate each other beyond all reconciliation. We're talking Harry vs. Voldemort, Frodo vs. Sauron, Garion vs. Torak kinda stuff here. Only one of us can survive.