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Happy July, everyone. It’s been while, but I’m dusting off my idea list and getting back to work on the blog. At first, my goal was to take a short break, then when things happened in 2020, the short break turned into a longer one. I’m sure I don’t have to go into more detail.
But here we are now, back together on the blog. I’m so glad you’re here. From this time going forward, I hope we meet on a more frequent basis.
My son graduated from HIGH SCHOOL! Listen, I thought I had it together, but I swear I was bedridden the Monday before the actual ceremony. You see, I enjoyed the IDEA of him graduation…moving on to his next phase in life, but damn, that’s my first boy-chick! Rest assured I got the mommy-is-having-a-breakdown blues out of my system and was able to enjoy and be proud of number-one son. (I only say he’s number one because he was born first. No shade to my younger son.) But oh, what a milestone.
After not writing for a long time, (which will be addressed in another blog post) I was finally able to produce a paranormal romance/drama novel which has been accepted as a first in a series by Totally Entwined Publishing. Let me tell you, after a long, long drought and many moments…well months, of self-doubt this is breath of fresh air into both my writing career and my personal achievements.
Let’s talk about how I got to this point. It wasn’t easy. I hired an author coach, who takes care of the whole author, as well as a writing coach who takes care of the author’s writing. I have to say, I am not sorry to have spent the money on either. Both coaches helped me focus on my style, my creativity, and the best way for me to get things done.
It wasn’t cheap, but I don’t regret biting the bullet and spending the money. The clarity and support gained in both my author and personal life, is well worth the dollars spent.
Lesson learned: Just because writing is a solitary exercise doesn’t mean you always have to do it alone.
We got a dog! In March of this year, we were the proud new family for Charlotte, who is apparently a Dogo Argentino. I posted her picture on Instagram, and a few commenters there and on Facebook said she looked like a Dogo. Mind you, I had to look up the breed because I’d never heard of it, and wow, it’s so true. Check out this lovely pup putting ALL of her white hair on my blue chair:
There it is. A brief update on me, and hopefully, a fresh start to the blog. Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you back here soon!
Let’s be honest. Given the huge number of gross-out, slash ‘em up films that are under “horror movie” genre, watching someone get stabbed, or hung or cut apart gets a little tedious. Blood and guts can be scary, yes, but the real “horror” is sometimes only in our minds: the stuff we can’t see, or even worse, the stuff we imagine we see.
Following this, and based upon a comment from one of my Facebook friends, I compiled a list of horror/scary movies in black and white that you may enjoy. Where possible, I’ve placed the date and time it’s on the air, but otherwise, I’m sure you can find them on either a streaming service or even on YouTube.
When I was a seventies child, these movies were perfect for a rainy Saturday or Sunday afternoon, and were scary enough to keep you awake with some nightmares for sure! So without further ado, here’s my list.
Title: Jack in the Box (2019)
When a vintage Jack-in-the-box is un-earthed and opened, its new owners soon have reason to believe the creepy clown doll within has a life of its own. (from imdb.com)
The creepy clown doll has more life than this movie. Not recommended. Read on to find out why.
The movie opens with an older fellow in a field with a metal detector. We horror movie veterans know he’s going to find something he shouldn’t which is going to wreak havoc for the rest of the movie. What does he find? Well, true horror fans, you’ll be pleased to know he finds the creepiest Jack in the Box ever. Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m not a fan of things that jump out of boxes, and this clown is super creepy. But let’s face it folks if it weren’t so scary looking then it wouldn’t be a horror movie now would it?
This opening sequence has very little dialogue but it does have a lot of action and right off the bat we’re privy to what the occupant of the box actually does. I like when horror movies like this do that. It lets the audience know what to expect from the movie monster and all we’re doing is watching to see who gets it first and how.
The movie’s protagonist is some milquetoast dude named Casey and he is supposedly an American. But I will tell you this, he neither looks nor acts like any American I’ve ever seen in any horror movie ever. While I suspect the actor himself is not American I’m not going to quibble about their casting choice. the real movie opens 12 years later after the opening sequence in a Toy Museum. apparently the Jack-in-the-Box has found its way there and sits in the storeroom just waiting to claim its next victim.
Note: The box has four letters along the top and when it is first revealed the letters spell DYBK (I think, I couldn’t be arsed to rewind, so if I’m wrong let me know in the comments), which immediately made me think of the Dybbuk box. Just a side note to show how horribly detail oriented I am. Also, how less than impressed I was with the acting.
After the movie gets going with a bit of character development and backstory, we find out the history of the Jack in the box, which I thought was rather interesting. I love the “expert”: a black dude who comes in, gives his lines, and disappears into the “night”. Very cool part. (Also, he wasn’t around to die.)
I went along with the ride of the movie until about a half hour in, then I became annoyed. There was a lack of …..time passage? I didn’t know how much time passed between scenes. Characters appeared and disappeared without explanation. The main example of this is the woman who worked at the toy museum before Casey got there. She hangs around long enough for the story to get started, then she’s just….gone. She does come back later in the movie, but it’s just odd the way the movie rolls out.
Through the obligatory internet search, we find out about the Jack in the Box and the evil contained within.
What I also found interesting about this movie was the number of people who took the time to pause, stare, and speak to this creepy looking exhibit. Plus, though they seemed to be put off by it, they had no problem insulting it! Personally, I see something like that, I’m walking right by that mess.
All in all it’s not a great movie. I watched the rest of it just to see how things turned out, but as I mentioned, I had checked out thirty minutes in.
After much ado, I did finish it. Sigh. Unfortunately, good premise,but poor execution. In fact, on some levels it was rather boring. There was some stabbing, some yelling and some Latin. I’m telling you, I was so done with this film, I didn’t even bother to rewind to hear the Latin words. I….didn’t care.
Questions and quibbles:
I will say the special effects/costuming of the monster clown was effective and creepy. They did put a lot of work into it and it was done very well.
That’s all folks. I’m sorry this movie wasn’t good and wasn’t bad enough to be fun. It was tedious, illogical, and seemed strung together. Again, great premise, poor execution. The script needed a lot of work.
Everyone loves a good story. In fact, telling stories is an effective way to connect with any audience. It doesn’t matter if you’re teaching a class, writing a blog post, or recording a podcast. The art of storytelling should be a large part of your content creation because it’s an excellent marketing strategy. The tough part is coming up with these stories in the first place. If you read on, you’ll find seven tip to keep the ideas flowing so you’ll have just the right one for any situation.
Share A Recent Encounter
We “walk past” – via social media and real life – numerous story ideas every day. Stories happen to you and all around you. In order to harness these ideas, think about who you’ve spoken to recently, what you’ve been up , or who you’ve encountered either online or in person. Now, think about how you can tie that into a blog post or email you need to write.
A Past Conversation
Even the most inconsequential conversation can have an effect on the rest of your day. A brief chat shared with a stranger while standing in line, or even the snippet of an online conversation in the comment section of a post. Is there something you can use from that to create a story? Without giving away too many personal details, you can use the essence of that conversation to impart a message to your readers.
Stories from our childhood often shape who we are today. Is there a childhood memory you can tie into current events or circumstances? There’s bonus points if the memory from your childhood equipped you to get through a current situation. Readers enjoy connecting through shared memories.
Pay Attention to Your Environment
This morning, it was extra quiet around my neighborhood and I was surprised to be able to tune my ears in to hear so many distinct bird calls. I was able to pick out a cardinal and a blue jay, as well as the busy chattering of a squirrel. In addition, I was also able to hear a telephone conversation my neighbor was having about picking up groceries and taking them to a shut-in relative. While I wouldn’t use that specific basic story for my audience, her conversation reminded me how important it is to help out those who may not be able to help themselves and gave me an idea to use as a side plot in a story of mine.
Take Notes in the Moment
As a writer, I am always on the alert for a good story. Unfortunately, there are so many things to remember on a regular basis, that it’s hard to keep all those ideas in your brain. So, as not to forget those juicy storytelling ideas, either jot them down with the old-fashioned pen/pad combination or use the notes app on your phone. You’ll thank yourself later, I promise.
Have Meaningful Conversations
I have three children, and when they’d come home from school, I’d make a point of sitting down with them and chatting about their day. You’d be surprised at the drama going on within the walls of the school: and I’m not just talking about the students. Children can be quite astute, and they pick up on the gossip of teachers. I’ve heard about unplanned pregnancies, spats between teachers, and what teacher got called the principal’s office and why! So many stories, so little time.
Another good way to get people to pay attention to your stories is to surprise them. Hook your readers by connecting two seemingly unconnected things, such as, “How training my dog to fetch helped increase my wordcount by a thousand word per day”. That’s right! That’s an eye- catching title, isn’t it? I almost wish it were true. It’s a good example of how skills sets can transfer from one event to another, and would make a great story.
It’s so easy to lose one’s creativity when under stress. Sometimes you may feel the well has run dry and you can’t squeeze out one more story. But storytelling connects us as humans. Everyone loves a good campfire tale. This is why you need to keep your radar up for story ideas.
Until next time,
Title: Hell House, LLC (2015)
Five years after an unexplained malfunction causes the death of 15 tour-goers and staff on the opening night of a Halloween haunted house tour, a documentary crew travels back to the scene of the tragedy to find out what really happened. (from imdb.com)
Genre: Horror, Thriller
Well, well, well. The found footage genre isn’t completely dead.
If you’re a friend of mine on social media, you should well know I’ve never met a found footage film I didn’t like. Well, scrap that, because I realized, yes, I’ve met a few I didn’t care for at all. However, I am fascinated by the whole genre of found footage horror films and never pass up a chance to screen them….if I can take it. Some I won’t see because the gross factor is too high. But that’s blog post for another day.
Hell House, LLC is a little gem I found hiding on Amazon Video. Sidenote- I got the prime membership just for the shipping, but the Video area is kind of like your favorite Palmer Video. I’ve been finding quite a few cool films included with my Prime membership. Back to the movie.
The premise is quite simple: A group of friends put on haunted houses each Halloween season in New York City. This season, they decide to rent an old hotel. The Abbadon hotel in Abbadon, New York. Now, I’m pretty genre savvy, so I knew that Abbadon meant something or other, but was too lazy to reach for my phone to look it up. No matter, because I simply like watching the story unfold before my eyes. Why do research when surely the filmmakers will do it for me?
As a found footage film, this is one of the better ones. There’s not a ton of shaky cam or people yelling profanity at the camera, which is good. The movie opens telling us of an incident that happened five years prior, where people were killed/injured at the opening of the haunted house. It then circles back to before the incident, where the haunted house was being set up.
I must say, this film offered me quite a few scares from places I didn’t expect and had me covering my eyes at one point. It’s fun and it holds together, pretty much, plot wise. There is very little blood/gore – it’s not a slasher film, but I tell you, it’s creepy enough that I remember some of the scenes from it a few weeks later.
Recommended – have fun!
Rating – B