Image already added
Image already added
Starring: Ethan Hawke, Vincent D’Onofrio, Fred Thompson
Director: Scott Derrickson
Sinister is a supernatural horror film in which a crime writer, Ellison Oswald (Ethan Hawke), moves his family to a new house in order to work on a new book. (What a great name, by the way, right?) His last real hit was ten years ago and since then, his books haven’t done well. This is his last ditch effort to make money on a family’s murder and disappearance of the daughter. However, he does not tell his family that they’ve moved into the house where the actual murders took place. And when he finds a box of film reels and projected in the attic, he begins watching them, unwittingly giving strength to a supernatural force than intends on possessing his family.
Sinister is not a movie we haven’t seen before, but the execution and the cinematography is top notch. Ethan Hawke hits perfect notes as the jaded writer, desperate at writing another book which will be as successful as his last one. In his words, he doesn’t want to become a “textbook writer” even though that will pay the bills. He’s an artist, after all, right?
When he and his family first move into the neighborhood, they are greeted by the superb character actor Fred Thompson, who expresses a near disdain for Ethan Hawke coming in and disrupting the neighborhood with his presence. He’s professional about it, but his deputy, a young fresh faced dude, is pretty star struck, much to the disgust of Mr. Thompson.
Nevertheless, Ellison persists, even after his son starts to have night terrors and he begins to see visions of children floating around. I must say, those scenes are some of the best jump scares I’ve seen in a while. They’re not cheap, either and they are scarily effective. Even upon a second viewing, I still cringe a little when I know they’re coming.
The entire movie had a deliciously creepy vibe and the excellent cinematography keeps you intrigued. At times it was little dark, making it difficult to see exactly what was going on, but I soon realized that was the director’s trick to make you peer more closely at the screen so he could REALLY grab your attention.
There are snuff movies within the movies that are truly disturbing, especially when you learn the truth behind them. These film were shot on 8mm film to lend them more “realism”, and let me tell you, it worked, as did the rest of the visual effects of the film.
The always good Vincent D’Ononfrio makes a cameo as a professor who’s there to fill in the gaps when Ellison needs some explanation of what is going on in his house. James Ransone plays the young deputy that is Ellison’s connection at the police department. He’s so very happy to be assisting the famous writer with his research work. I thought the dude was kind of bland, but given that he goes on to star in the sequel to Sinister (which I did not see), I guess someone liked him.
I’ve seen this movie more than a few a times, and I have to be honest, it creeps me out every time. The performances, the staging, the overall crawling dread that follows you from the first frame….I have to recommend this movie. True horror fans won’t be disappointed and if you really get into it, it may give you nightmares for sure.
4 stars out of 5: Highly recommended
Criticism is part of our daily lives. Whether it’s about what we wear, what we watch, what we look like—there is someone out there to point fingers and offer unsolicited advice. Even on the advertisements we see, especially on Facebook, people have taken it upon themselves to let the model exactly how they feel about (usually) her appearance and what she looks like. In an atmosphere like this, its nearly impossible to avoid the harsh words of others. So, the aim is not to avoid it, but how to address it?
As a writer with entertainment words “out there” for all to see, criticism is a daily part of our lives. Amazon, Goodreads, and book review blogs are there to tell us what we’ve done right and what we’ve done wrong. To be honest, it is difficult to read how someone doesn’t like a story or a character near and dear to our hearts, but over my career as an author, I’ve picked up quite a few tips relevant for both the “author life” and real life. Read on to see how I cope with criticism.
Words which tell us our efforts are either not good enough or not appreciated are difficult to hear. However, the first thing to do what we perceive as harsh words is to do the following:
1. Listen and Analyze – Before shutting down in the face of words we might not want to hear, really listen to what the speaker is saying. Is the critique relevant? Finding little nuggets of advice in what may seem to be a personal attack is difficult, but often if we listen calmly and think about what is being said, we can see the validity behind it.
2. Don’t take it personally – Yes, it hurts. We created this project, whether it be an outfit, a story, or even a cake, and it is our little creation. Of course, it’s going to sting when someone points out something wrong with it. However, bite the bullet, swallow the pride and do #3.
3. Ask Questions – If the criticism is coming from a place of caring, i.e. the person delivering the message is doing so in a sincere effort to make us look better, then we should take the time to breathe and ask the person to elaborate. Perhaps the words seemed harsh at first glance, but when we give the person time to explain, we may see the value of their opinions.
4. Consider the Source – I touched on this a bit in #3. If the critique is coming from someone we could care less about, brush it off. Don’t let the harsh words of others who are not invested in your well-being to dampen your creative spirit.
5. Manage your reaction – This probably should have been both first and last because it’s so important. Many of us tend to beat ourselves up for past mistakes, past missteps, and things we simply can’t change. The same with criticism. Criticism is hurtful, let’s be real. No matter how hard we work, there will be something wrong with what we’ve done—we are not perfect. Therefore, if someone offers us some helpful hints on our work, take them. We shouldn’t apply them to what we’ve already done: we can’t change that, but we should use it going forward.
Above all, and this should be the greatest takeaway: don’t stop creating. Keep on keeping on. Criticism will not kill you, thus do not allow it to kill the creative spark and/or the drive to “do” within you. Remember, every single person walking this lovely Earth has a different way of looking at things. We, as artists, and as human beings, need to seek out people who will support us as well as gently help us to go in the right direction. This is how you thrive as an artist as well as a person!
Tell me, what are some ways you counter criticism? Do you ignore the person? Snap back? Does it have an effect on how you perceive yourself, or do you just brush it off and go? Let me know in the comments!
I had an interview with Harper Miller sometime last year, and I wanted to share it with you on the blog. Enjoy!
1. If you had an evil doppelganger, what detail would they enjoy revealing about you to the public that people would find surprising and possibly questionable?
First of all, if my doppelganger is really evil, then folks better watch out. The first she would say, the evil thing, is that I read Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier fan-fiction. Not sure if that’s super questionable, but, yeah.
2. How important is word of mouth (online and IRL) when it comes to supporting women-led small businesses?
It’s very important, and I think, more important than paid advertisement. Word of mouth is true endorsement. Nothing sells a product or a service better than the testimonial of a person who has actually used the product or service.
3. Do you have a writing mentor?
Yes, I do have a writing mentor/accountability partner. Although we just “met” a few months ago, she has changed my writing life for the absolute better.
4. What’s the most unbelievable thing that has ever happened in the history of mankind that makes it difficult to grasp the reality that the event occurred?
The election of our current presidentm #45. ‘Nuff said.
5. What was your mindset back in high school?
Honestly, my mindset was to try to be everyone’s friend. A real people pleaser. Now? Not so much. In fact, not at all.
6. When was the last time you embraced your kid like wonder and went exploring?
Because I have children, this makes it easy to do. I took them down to the “brook” where I used to go as a child. They, of course, were a little unimpressed, but I was glad I went, and hopefully, they’ll remember it!
7. If you had to do something differently as a child or teenager to become a better writer as an adult, what would you do?
I would believe in my writing more. Instead of dismissing it as “a fad” I would have finished a story and sent it off somewhere. Right now, I feel like I’m playing catch-up!
8. What was the last five-star Romance you read?
Wow. The last five-star romance I read? I can’t choose! I do enjoy historical romance, books by Lisa Kleypas and Mary Balogh.
9. If you could have your own reality TV show, what would it be?
Shirtless men in a piano-playing competition. Categories: Classical, Jazz, and mid-20th century American Songbook. Tie breaking Category: 80s music.
10. If you were immortal for a day, what would you do?
Probably try that DeathWish coffee and three espresso shots.
Bonus: Ever tried BDSM? If not, would you?
Yes. Now, if I were a top or bottom, that’s a story for another day. 😉
Dahlia DeWinters was born to run, but she’s too tired for all of that now. Instead of debating the politics of dancing, she writes multi-genre stories that celebrate the Black woman in all her diverse beauty. Her work ranges from sentimental romances to dark zombie epics. Whatever the story, there will always be a unique heroine in the eye of the storm. Sometimes she will be the storm. Coffee, music, and movies keep her motivated, along with the occasional purchase of mascara and lipstick. In her spare time, she enjoys digital graphic design, crocheting and of course, reading.
For more information about upcoming books, visit her website at dahliadewinters.com.
Newsletter sign-up: news.dahliadewinters.com/
Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/854283651419880/
New feature. Every Tuesday I want to feature a song I’m listening to for the week. It could be part of a playlist for a story I’m writing or it could be a random song that popped into my head. Whatever its origins, I’m going to share it with you!
Today’s Tuneful Tuesday is the song “Fever” as done by Michael Buble. It’s on my playlist for Love Bytes, a previously published story that I’m revamping. I personally think this is a great version of the song by a male, although Peggy Lee is the ultimate version.
And what, you may ask, is “the Great American Songbook”? Well, let me allow Wikipedia to step in:
The Great American Songbook, also known as “American Standards”, is the canon of the most important and influential American popular songs and jazz standards from the early 20th century. Although several collections of music have been published under the title, it does not refer to any actual book or specific list of songs, but to a loosely defined set including the most popular and enduring songs from the 1920s to the 1950s that were created for Broadway theatre, musical theatre, and Hollywood musical film. They have been recorded and performed by a large number and wide range of singers, instrumental bands, and jazz musicians. The Great American Songbook comprises standards by George Gershwin, Cole Porter, and Irving Berlin, and also Jerome Kern, Harold Arlen, Johnny Mercer, Richard Rodgers, and others. Although the songs have never gone out of style among traditional and jazz singers and musicians, a renewed popular interest in the Great American Songbook beginning in the 1970s has led a growing number of rock and pop singers to take an interest and issue recordings of them.
Some of the most famous singers of these “standards” are Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn, Billie Holiday and others.
Without further ado, “Fever” by Michael Buble.
If you have a favorite American Standard, leave it in the comments!
I have three little ones ranging in age from 12 to 15, and lucky for me, they all attend the same school. Every morning, we all pile into the great minivan and cruise to the bus stop, where we have odd conversations. I enjoy those times, because it gives me real insight into what and how my kids are thinking and also gives me a change to spout off a thread of wisdom or two. Over the years, I’ve gathered quite a bit of stories, so let me share some with you here.
I present to you….Tales from the Bus Stop.
Number 1 son: oldest son, 15
Littlest: 12 (also plays trumpet….important later).
Number 1 son: (terrible Russian accent) In Russia, road forks you.
Daughter: That is the dumbest thing I ever heard.
(Meanwhile, I’m laughing)
No. 1 son: Do not dispute Mother Russia.
Daughter: Only Africa is a mother, stupid. Haven’t you heard of the motherland?
No. 1 Son: Mother Russia will PUTIN you in gulag.
Littlest son: Don’t you mean goulash?
Trumpet Playing Son: Our band teacher told us about Wynton Marsalis today.
Me: Oh yeah? I met him.
:::::shocked silence::::: then, “You did?”
Me (all cool and casual and ish): Oh, yeah, he played the Schubert Theatre in New Haven. Met him after the concert.
Littlest: Wow. My band teacher says he’s the greatest trumpet player in the world.
Me: He might want to get in line behind Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie and maybe Miles Davis, but okay….
Then, I thought about it. Not only did I tell a “story from the past”, I referenced dead musicians.
I….am at that “hey look, an old person’s telling a story” stage.
My daughter was in a bad mood yesterday.
Number One Son made a joke and she snapped back something fierce.
Unperturbed, as Pisces tend to be, he says:
“Excuse me, Miss Pistol, didn’t know you were loaded.”
Nothing but gems here. I had to write them down so I’ll be able to tease them with it when they get older. Seriously, though, the conversations they have are often hilarious. I look forward to sharing more with you!