Wednesday, October 31, 2012

2012 Movie Madness Challenge - October Report

Time for my tenth status report for the Movie Madness Challenge.

Here is my code for the films:

New to me - N
Repeat viewing - R

I'll also be including how I viewed the films:

VHS (yes, we have a lot of those, and a VCR)
Network TV
Pay TV
In theatre

The Phantom of the Opera

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Willie Wonka and The Chocolate Factory

Bedazzled (1967)

Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince

Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows I

Sixteen Candles

The Nightmare Before Christmas


An American Werewolf in London


Total movies for October - 9

Total movies for 2012 - 80


Movie Critic status!

Yeah, baby.

November is NaNoWriMo month, so I'm expecting my total to be a bit low next month. But that will give me December to hit 100 films before New Year's Eve strikes midnight.

I'm there. 

25 Movies: Movie Newbie

50 Movies: Movie Fanatic

75 Movies: Movie Critic

100+ Movies: Movie Master

Saturday, October 27, 2012

5 on Friday - Set 142

Travis at Trav's Thoughts invites everyone to lay down a short set of music that takes their fancies for his 5 on Friday meme.

My Spooky Stories Author series wrapped up here at A Piece of My Mind this week with:

If you missed the first three interviews, you can catch them here:

Halloween finally arrives next week. Happy Haunting to you! 

1 - Wicked Annabella - The Kinks

2 - The Witch Queen of New Orleans - Redbone

3 - Black Magic Woman - Santana

4 - Swamp Witch - Jim Stafford

5 - Don't Fear the Reaper - Blue Oyster Cult

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Thursday Thirteen - 251 - 13 Questions For Linda Poitevan, Author of The Grigori Legacy Series

Time for the fourth and final interview in my Spooky Stories Authors series here at A Piece of My Mind.

Here on the east coast, the leaves thin out in the trees and thicken on the ground while the world glows orange, gold and red. Cold creeps in, darkness comes early and in a few days the little ghosts and ghouls will haunt the streets with their treat bags. A perfect time to welcome fellow Canadian Linda Poitevin to my blog -- Linda, thanks for dropping by! 

1 – Your Grigori Legacy series is a hybrid of genres. What was the reaction from publishers when you pitched your idea?

A number of them were willing to take a look at the first book, SINS OF THE ANGELS, if I were willing to rewrite it as a paranormal romance.

Much as I love a good romance, however, this story just isn’t a happy-ever-after type and rewriting it as such would have been…well, just wrong, lol.

Needless to say, I was totally thrilled when the editor at Penguin USA saw the bigger picture and decided to give me a chance. J

2 – Tell us about your latest release, SINS OF THE SON.

SINS OF THE SON is the second installment in what will ultimately be a four-part series (I’m working on book 3, SINS OF THE RIGHTEOUS, now).

Your titles are great.

It picks up pretty much where SINS OF THE ANGELS leaves off, and delves much more deeply into the Heaven/Hell conflict that is spilling over into our world.

3 – When writing spooky material, do you ever scare yourself?

I’ve learned to never, ever write spooky scenes at night while I’m alone in the house…does that answer your question?

4 – Ha, ha...most definitely. I can't help but wonder if you read scary stories while growing up?

I most definitely did! My favourites were the “scary tales from the crypt” and “tales of terror” anthology types, along with the highly suspenseful Nancy Drew and Hardy Boy series…at least, they seemed suspenseful then! J

5 – LOL! For me, too! Not to mention sophisticated. I always loved the fact that she went out 'sleuthing'. Did you watch spooky TV shows or films when you were young?

I used to love having the living daylights scared out of me by those!

This was back in the dark ages, mind you, so we didn’t get a lot of television variety where I lived (two channels with a seemingly never-ending stream of sports…ugh).

The two movies that stand out most in my mind were Race with the Devil and Carrie, both of which I saw in the theatre. I never did work up the nerve to see Exorcist, lol.

6 –As a reader/viewer, do you prefer spooky/scary, or do you delve further into horror?

Though I’ve had readers tell me that some of my scenes border on horror, I’m afraid that spooky/scary is about as much as I can handle as a reader/viewer these days. Must be getting old or something… ;)

7 – If you had to name your top three supernatural creatures, what would they be?

Angels take top billing, of course, then dragons, then ghosts. I love witches, too, but don’t really consider them to be supernatural.

8 – Have you explored these character types in your fiction so far?

Only the angels, but these are early days in my writing career…I hope!

9 –I have no doubt! Are there some earthbound, everyday aspects of life that you find scary?

Too many to mention, honestly. I avoid watching the news because of it. Escapism, anyone?

10 – Where is the spookiest place you’ve ever been? What made it so scary?

The first house that my husband and I rented.

It had a bedroom in the basement that was painted entirely in red—ceiling, floors, walls, closet, everything (à la Amityville Horror)—and had a slide bolt on the outside of the door.

I swear there was something besides us living in that place *shudder*.

11 –That's pretty creepy. If you could be a fly-on-the-wall visitor in a setting from a spooky book, TV show or film, where would you go?

The television show Supernatural…for obvious reasons, I think. ;)

12--[insert Family Feud "Good answer!"]

Ooo, yeah. My Winchester obsession. You have incredibly good taste.

I want to thank you for visiting with all of us today. Before you go, why do you think people like to be scared in the first place?

I believe it’s at least partly for the adrenaline rush.

There’s nothing quite like a good scare to heighten the senses...and to make us appreciate the fact we’re alive after the fact!

13 –Linda is giving us a short excerpt from SINS OF THE SON. Enjoy!

Aramael didn’t move and a frisson of warning ran down Alex’s spine. If she didn’t put an end to this standoff, it was going to get ugly. No matter what Aramael’s reason for being here might be, he would never allow himself to be taken into custody. Couldn’t allow it.

Shooting a quick glance past him to where Henderson was beginning to look downright pissed, she pitched her voice low enough that only Aramael could hear. “You need to get out of here. Now.”
Aramael met her gaze over his shoulder. “I can’t.”

“Look,” she said through clenched teeth. “I get that you have an agenda of some kind, but neither one of us needs the kind of attention you’ll bring if you’re taken into custody. Now get the hell out of here while you can.”

Not that having him disappear into thin air would be much better, but at least he wouldn’t be around for questioning.

“You don’t understand,” he said, gray eyes boring into hers. “I can’t.”

“You—” She stopped. Stared at his shoulders. Willed herself to see them there, rising beyond him, flexed, powerful, iridescent with their golden fire. But there was nothing. Her gaze moved to his again.

“Your wings,” she whispered. “Aramael, what happened to your wings?”

© - Linda Poitevin

Friday, October 19, 2012

5 on Friday - Set 141

Travis at Trav's Thoughts invites everyone to lay down a short set of music that takes their fancies for his 5 on Friday meme.

My Spooky Stories Author series continues throughout October here at A Piece of My Mind.

If you missed the first three interviews, you can catch them here:

This week brings us to some truly classic spine-tingling compositions. Best enjoyed while walking through overgrown misty graveyards... 

1 - In the Hall of the Mountain King - composed by Edvard Grieg - performed by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra

2 - Ride of the Valkyries - composed by Richard Wagner - performed by the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra

3 - Night on Bald Mountain - composed by Modest Mussorgsky - performed by Leopold Stokowski's Symphony Orchestra

4 - Danse Macabre - composed by Camille Saint-Saens - performed by the National Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Leopold Stokowski

5 - The Isle of the Dead, part I - composed by Sergei Rachmaninov - performed by the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Thursday Thirteen - 250 - 13 Questions For Caleb Casey, Author of Now You'll Never Know

Having spent my early years in Michigan, it's a delight to have Michigan indie author Caleb Casey here today for the third in my Spooky Stories Authors series, running all month on Thursdays here at A Piece of My Mind. Welcome, Caleb!

1 – You’ve been working with the short story format so far. Do you see any novel-length works in your future?

I'm actually working on a novel-length project right now. Progress is slow – I'm just not very fast when it comes to writing – but I like what I have so far.

Many of my favorite books are short story collections and I like the form.

My husband's a big fan of horror anthologies.

It fits with my writing style, keeping things streamlined, keeping the story moving.

My novel-length project has the same kind of style and themes as my short fiction – bleak, dystopian, but with dark humor and a glimmer of hope – it just has more characters and more scenes.

2 – Tell us about your latest release, NOW YOU’LL NEVER KNOW: A COLLECTION OF STRANGE STORIES.

It's a collection of the first stories I've been able to finish.

It took years to complete. I'd been writing for fun for quite a while but something was missing and I don't know what it was. At some point it just clicked for me – like the combination of all the reading and writing I was doing flipped a switch – and I felt like I'd figured it out, how to tell a story effectively.

I was debating whether or not to send some of my short fiction out to magazines, see if anyone wanted to publish them, and then I saw what Amazon was doing with its Kindle Direct Publishing and opted for that route instead.

I took three stories I thought were closest to “finished” and published them as singles, and the goal was always to eventually finish the other stories and publish a collection. Some of the stories in NYNK I started many years ago. Only two of the stories from NYNK were written entirely this year.

The stories are often strange and bleak but with a lot of dark humor. What works for me is to incorporate some element of the supernatural or paranormal into an everyday place and situation.

3 – When writing spooky material, do you ever scare yourself?

I don't, but I do get caught up in some of the other emotions sometimes. I find the spooky stuff to be interesting rather than scary, usually.

4 –Did you read scary stories while growing up?

Actually, I started out reading Tolkien's THE HOBBIT and THE LORD OF THE RINGS and similar fantasy stuff, and I got into reading scary stuff later on.

I took a year or two off from reading after college – I was burned out on it, after reading four or five novels per week for assignments

The same thing happened to me with movies after graduating from film school.

When I started up again I decided to try a Stephen King book (DREAMCATCHER, his latest at the time). From there, I started to check out other horror authors like Clive Barker, Shirley Jackson, Robert Aickman, Bentley Little, Harlan Ellison, Richard Matheson, and now pretty much all I read is horror fiction.

Poppy Z. Brite's WORMWOOD, Barker's BOOKS OF BLOOD, and King's NIGHT SHIFT – all of which are short story collections – are three of my favorite books. My favorite novels are Jackson's WE HAVE ALWAYS LIVED IN THE CASTLE and Barker's THE HELLBOUND HEART. I'm also a big fan of Jackson's short fiction.

5 –LOL! I'm pretty sure my husband has every one of those.

Did you watch spooky TV shows or films when you were young?

I'm a big fan of The X-Files and the Tales From the Crypt TV show. I have an enormous collection of DVDs and literally hundreds of them are horror movies, and they represent a wide range of horror subgenres.

We do, too...

My favorite, one of the few that I find to be legitimately scary, is The Descent.

Here's a few of my other favorites: Planet Terror, the Evil Dead series, [Julia's interruption: "Give me some sugar, baby."] Feast, High Tension, Severance, Jeepers Creepers, Dead Alive, Sunshine, Hatchet, The Thing, Tremors, and Dead Snow. I like Rob Zombie's House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil's Rejects and I thought his Halloween remake was solid. I loved Pan's Labyrinth but it's so bleak I've only been able to watch it once. Donnie Darko – great movie, one of my favorites – qualifies as “spooky,” right?

6 –Definitely! As a reader/viewer, do you prefer spooky/scary, or do you delve further into horror?

It depends on what mood I'm in.

I like a lot of different types of horror fiction. I like to read less overt horror stories, Shirley Jackson, Robert Aickman, where it's mostly psychological, a sense of dread behind everything, but I also like zombie movies, slasher flicks, sci-fi horror, creature features, all kinds of horror movies.

7 – If you had to name your top three supernatural creatures, what would they be?

I like things that are alien, not necessarily from outer space, just things that are strange or different, things that we don't know where they come from. I like stories that involve ghosts or hauntings. The concept of demons offers a lot of possibilities.

8 – Have you explored these character types in your fiction so far?

Quite a few of my stories involve things that are alien. There's the masked things from “The Insomniacs” and the strange co-workers from “Drones Like Us,” the humanoid creatures from “No Blood.” I prefer to use things that are strange, with their own set of rules, rather than using vampires and werewolves and things that people are already familiar with, although if I thought I had a new angle on one of those I would write it.

“The Demon Version” deals with demonic possession, exploring this question: If your friend was possessed, would you rush her to a church or a hospital like they do in the movies, or would you wait and see what it's like?

I haven't written a “ghost story” yet, but the project I'm working on now, one of its themes is living in a place that seems haunted, even though there aren't visible ghosts.

9 –That sounds goosebumpy. Are there some earthbound, everyday aspects of life that you find scary?

I wouldn't say scary, but I find a lot of everyday things to be strange.

Sometimes I wonder how people can do some of the things they do, ranging from the worst acts of physical cruelty to just general rudeness and a lack of compassion, greed for money, betrayal. Some of it's just beyond comprehension.

10 – Where is the spookiest place you’ve ever been? And what made it so scary?

When I was a baby, we lived in a house that had a haunted room.


People swear to it. One story I heard, a person was trying to change a light bulb in there, reaching up in the dark, and feeling a hand grab theirs out of nowhere. Strange noises, strange breezes. My family moved out of that house while I was still very young.

11 –If you could be a fly-on-the-wall visitor in a setting from another author’s spooky story, where would you go?

Hill House, the haunted place from the Shirley Jackson novel.

12-Awesome choice.

Why do you think people like to be scared?

It can be an exhilarating sensation.

I think people like scary books and scary stories because you can explore strange and terrible places and people while staying in a safe environment. Get the sensation without the risk. You can close the book or turn off the TV if it gets to be too much.

13 –This is an excerpt from The Winged Things, one of the stories from NOW YOU’LL NEVER KNOW: A COLLECTION OF STRANGE STORIES. (People can currently download the whole story for free from Smashwords.)

Desmond won’t stop looking at me. His expression makes me think of creeps in trench coats who frequent XXX movie theatres.

I go into the kitchen, feeling my way past the furniture in the dim light, and see what the late Martin Howard has in his refrigerator. It’s still cool inside, and the touch of chilly air feels great on my face and chest; I allow myself to bask in it for a moment. What I would really like is an ice-cold Coke, but the only beverages available seem to be of the alcoholic variety. I grab a Corona.

Back in the living room, they’re still carrying on. Desmond’s eyes are on me and I can practically hear his bad thoughts.

“Hey honey, how about you bring me one of those?” he says. Ugly face, worse manners.

“Desmond, you’re a toad. Stop staring at me or I’ll break this bottle over your head.” I take a sip of cold beer.

Mrs. Prendergast, evidently overhearing our stimulating conversation, sees the beer in my hand and gasps, an exaggerated look of shock on her face. Her eyeglasses are large, round, and thick. She has the pointy face of a turtle.

“You’re drinking Marty’s beer?” She does her best to sound mortified. Seems a little forced.

“He doesn’t need it anymore.” It’s a response that only a jerk would use, I guess, but Mrs. Prendergast has been getting on my nerves ever since we came into this house.

What happened to Mr. Howard wasn’t pretty.

The winged things tore him apart.

People were gathered outside, looking up at the sky, talking, obviously scared. The black clouds above us were tinged with crimson; the sky looked like the inside of an active volcano. Someone – the guy who lived next door to me, Mason, a bald guy, mailman, I think – was trying to start his Jeep, no luck. He opened the hood and started tinkering around. The others in the street had nothing interesting to say, foolishness about the power coming back on soon and “everything’s going to be fine if we just stay calm.”

That’s when the winged things came…

They appeared on roofs and in between houses; they crawled from behind bushes and trees. We heard the flapping of huge leathery wings, like an invasion of man-sized bats. The “just stay calm” plan got chucked right into the trash when the first winged thing shrieked. It was loud. Others joined in. The things seemed to be surrounding us, inching closer, some crawling on all fours like wolves, teeth bared. People started babbling in a mad panic. I looked back and saw one of the winged things near my front door.

Lovely apocalypse we’re having, I thought.

I'm over at The Popculturedivas today, remembering Walter Carsen, the incredibly passionate patron of the ballet company I adore. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

5 on Friday - Set 140

Travis at Trav's Thoughts invites everyone to lay down a short set of music that takes their fancies for his 5 on Friday meme.

I'm already two weeks into my Spooky Stories Author series here at A Piece of My Mind, so my sets for the rest of October are going to be all-Halloween, all the time.

If you missed the first two interviews, you can catch them here:

The tone for this week begins with unchecked madness and spirals into the hell that follows... 

1 - Crazy - Gnarls Barkley

221st Century Schizoid Man - King Crimson

3All the Madmen - David Bowie

4 - Riders on the Storm - The Doors

5 - Home by the Sea - Genesis

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Thursday Thirteen - 249 - 13 Questions For Trish Milburn, Author of Magick

I'm thrilled to have young adult paranormal author Trish Milburn here today for the second in my Spooky Stories Author series, running all month on Thursdays here at A Piece of My Mind--welcome, Trish!

1Many readers may know you as a contemporary romance author writing about rugged cowboys, firefighters, detectives and neighbors handy with renovations. When did your stories begin to take on supernatural elements?

I have always loved supernatural stories in what I read, watch on TV and in movies, and in what I write. It was just a timing thing.

I had been writing and trying to get published for 10 years when I hit a major funk. I was depressed, beginning to think that I wasn’t ever going to get published. So I had what I call my Summer of Buffy.

I literally sat on the couch and watched all seven seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, all five seasons of Angel and the first season of Supernatural.

Yeah, baby.

In the midst of all that, I started getting the idea for the Coven books. At that time, it was just one book, but it eventually was revised into three. That book is what got me inspired to write and keep going. The next summer I sold my first book. While it wasn’t the first Coven book, WHITE WITCH (the first Coven book) was what kept me going.

2 – Tell us about your latest release, MAGICK.

This is the book where Jax figures out if she truly is a white witch and what that means for her, her friends and the evil witch covens she has fled. While the possibility for more books is there, this is the book where everything changes big time for Jax and the witch covens.

But the journey to the answers she needs isn’t without danger, fear and self-doubt.

3 – When you began this series, did you know that’s what you were writing?

No, as I mentioned above, this began as one self-contained book that was titled simply Coven. It won Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart Award, the top award for unpublished romance fiction, in the Young Adult category in 2007.

Do you ever begin a story as a single title only to realize it’s really Book One?

Over time, the story and characters grew to cover three books.

4 – Did you do a lot of research into magic for this series, or did you go with your instincts while world-building?

I did some research, but a lot of what I have is totally made up. I have an entirely different mythology for witches, but it is still rooted in one of the most infamous periods in U.S. history, the Salem witch trials.

I visited Salem last year to do on-site research, and it’s a lovely little town. I worked some of the things I saw there into the second and third books (BANE and MAGICK), which are set in Salem. The first, WHITE WITCH, is set in a fictional small town in North Carolina in the beautiful northwest corner.

5 – When writing spooky material, do you ever give yourself shivers?

Not so much, which is surprising because I’m the world’s biggest chicken.

I tell you what does give me fraidy-cat syndrome though – watching The Walking Dead too late at night! I love that show, but I can’t watch it right before I go to bed.

6 –Did you read scary stories while growing up?

Oddly enough, no. I read a lot of those classic girl stories – Little House on the Prairie, Island of the Blue Dolphins, Julie of the Wolves. It wasn’t until later that I started reading paranormal things, although I’d always loved paranormal shows.

Speaking of Joss, you’ll get that I’m a fan because I mention him and his work in the Coven series. One of my secondary characters is a devoted Whedon fan with a vast collection of Whedon-inspired T-shirts.

7 –Did you watch spooky TV shows or films when you were young?

I grew up in the country where we only got three TV stations on a good day through an antenna, so my viewing was limited. Plus, my dad wasn’t a fan of such things, so that limited it even more.

I can remember being glued to the original V mini-series when I was young. I also really loved Star Trek reruns, sci-fi and westerns, so it’s no surprise that Firefly is my all-time favorite show because it mixed those two genres to Joss Whedon awesomeness.

Speaking of Joss, you’ll get that I’m a fan because I mention him and his work in the Coven series. One of my secondary characters is a devoted Whedon fan with a vast collection of Whedon-inspired T-shirts.But I did watch the V mini-series and Star Trek reruns.

8 –As a reader/viewer, do you prefer spooky/scary, or do you delve further into horror? How far do you go as a writer?

I don’t do hard-core horror. I’d say my writing is more spooky, but it can be dark.

After all, my heroine, Jax, had to watch her mother murdered by her coven because she wanted to leave the coven and live a different type of life. That’s pretty dark, but it’s not gory.

Same goes for my viewing. I’m a huge fan of the Underworld movies, so that’s more my preference than scary stuff that could really happen. You can’t pay me enough to see a slasher movie, no matter who is in it.

9 – If you had to name your top three supernatural creatures, what would they be?

Witch, vampire, werewolf

10 – Have you explored these character types in your fiction so far?

The witches in the Coven series, and I’ve sold a vampire book to Harlequin Nocturne. I don’t have a release date yet, but I’m hopeful it will be the beginning of a series in which I’ve created an entirely different backstory and world for vampires.

11 –If you could visit three hair-raising destinations, where would you go? Or perhaps you’ve already sampled a few…?

Salem isn’t scary if you’re walking around during the day, but I’ve got to imagine that there are some ghosts in a place that saw so much death.

Honestly, I don’t like to be scared in real life. See big chicken comment above. I like to limit it to what I read and watch, then go back to my nice safe real life where there are no spookies waiting to jump out at me.

12 –Are there some earthbound, everyday aspects of life that you find scary?

The idea of chemical or biological warfare scares the bejeebers out of me.

I think the things we see on the news every night are far scarier than anything I’ve ever read about in a book. This is weird for someone who worked for many years as a journalist, but I don’t typically watch the news.

It’s all bad and scary, and I’d just as soon not know about a lot of it. I do read the news each morning as I’m eating breakfast, but there’s something about the way that TV sensationalizes everything that makes it all much scarier.

I want to enjoy my life, not be scared all the time.

13 – Thanks for dropping by A Piece of My Mind, Trish! And for my readers, here's a treat:

A short excerpt from MAGICK, the final book in the Coven trilogy.

I wake not to flames but a windowless stone room. For an addled moment, I think I’m in the basement of the herb shop. A stab of pain hits me in the heart, and tears pool in my eyes. Fiona, the woman who’d found her way into my heart as a sort of surrogate grandmother, is gone. Dead. Killed by the man who should have killed me instead. I blink against the tears and look at my surroundings. The bare room isn’t the hidden repository of witchlore below Wiccan Good Herbs. It’s also not the cold, snow-covered ground where I lost consciousness.
     Where I killed Amos Barrow. Where I gave in to the darkness inside me. Barrow shot his gun at Keller, the boy I love, and I lost my last shred of control after fighting so hard to not let that happen.
     Fear shoots through me, stealing my breath. Keller. God, is he even alive? Did Barrow take everything from me? The urge to kill him all over again wells up inside me followed quickly by nausea.
     My stomach churns and I turn to the side to retch. When I’m finished, I can’t even lift my hand to wipe my mouth. I’m chained to a big, thick chair that reminds me of a medieval throne. My feet are as immovable as my hands, and panic surges to the surface. I try to draw on my power, but it’s not there.
Oh, God, what has happened to me? Where am I? More images settle into my memory, one of red-cloaked figures surrounding me just before I lost consciousness. The Bane. Had Sarah played me all along, making me think she was working with me until she and the other members of the Bane had the opportunity to take me out? Did they capture Egan, too? What about Toni, Rule and Adele? I swallow hard again when I think of Keller and wonder if my actions led to his death? I can’t live with that. Losing him, losing my friends would be so much worse than losing myself.

© - Trish Milburn

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