Short Stories, Novel Launch, and Fantasy Promo

Yesterday, I attended the local writers’ club again for which I wrote a short story. I also wrote one last week which was a lot of fun as part of the assignment was to incorporate some innuendo. Check out the stories, called Surprise! and Scoring resp., under the Short Stories from 2018 menu heading.

Morgan_Deadly_DiscoveryToday is the launch day of Deadly Discovery, Alathia Morgan’s third book in the cozy mystery Nova Ladies series. Here’s the blurb:

Julie while recovering from her wounds in the line of duty, finds out that she isn’t who she had thought was. Her journey into the past, leads her on a path to meet her future, but there are some who don’t want the past to resurface. Determined to find out the truth about her family, Julie is in a race to sift through years of secrets before the past has a chance to silence her for good.

Morgan’s book is for sale for 99c on Amazon.

 

Another book that is on sale for only 99c (until the 25th of June):

Four O’Clock Alice

by Vanessa Ravel

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A little girl. An ancient enemy. A shared past.

Alice Davies wouldn’t hurt a fly, but death seems to follow her everywhere. And as the body count rises, people in Dolwicke start to whisper.

Little do they know, Alice is the least of their worries.

A diabolical entity lurks in the shadows, finding nourishment in the ravages of war and plague. The insidious being also hungers for Alice, who is safe so long as she obeys the mysterious four o’clock curfew imposed by her parents.

But she’s a curious girl.

Desperate to uncover the truth behind her predicament, Alice embarks on a frightening journey of self-discovery that will lead her to face an ancient enemy and to discover a world she not only belongs in, but where she reigns supreme.

If you like ancient myths and portal fantasies, you’ll love this surreal tale that will pull you down the rabbit hole for the adventure of a lifetime.

Four O’Clock Alice is for sale for 99c on Amazon.

 

Amazing Fantasy Giveaway!

Fantasy lovers, look no further than this amazing fantasy giveaway! EIGHTY-FIVE, yes, that’s correct; 85 FREE ebooks for you to read in this amazing promotion offer (including one of yours truly)! It runs for one month from 20 June – 20 July. Check it out!

https://books.bookfunnel.com/amazingfantasyjune

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Meet The Author… F.F. John

Funmi is a writer I met through the One Stop Fiction Authors Facebook group, and I’ve seen  her blossom from the start with her first novel in the Nome Chronicles, the Pursual. Today, she’s launching her fifth novel in her second series, LegionMarked, the sequel to LegionBorn. Let’s meet this fantastic author.

F.F. John

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Biography

As a child, F.F. John was inquisitive and loved to find answers in books. When her home ran out of space for mer books, her mother told her to write the stories she wanted to read. So, she did. 

Today, she conjures worlds of characters that have a lot to say about everything. And she lets them as they tend to give answers to the riddles she’s yet to solve.

F.F. John lives at the top of a hill with my husband and children on a small island in the Eastern Caribbean.  I am the author of The Nome Chronicles, a young adult dystopian romance, and the urban fantasy series, LegionBorn. I’m currently working on Excelsia, a young adult space opera series as I expand the LegionBorn universe. Join my mailing list for updates on upcoming books at https://subscribepage.com/greatworlds.

How long have you been writing?

My late mother encouraged me to write for the simple reason that she’d run out of room for books in our home. She would tell me to create the books I wanted to read and I did. It started off with super short stories but soon cascaded into much more elaborate tales. None very good, if I must confess, but she loved them all the same.

Do you remember the first story you ever wrote? 

Unfortunately, no. However, I distinctly remember the first piece of fiction writing that made me realize writing could be fun! It was an assignment in the 10th grade. Mr. Arnold told us to write five more chapters for A Raisin in the Sun, by Lorraine Hansberry. BEST. ASSIGNMENT. EVER! At the time, I was maybe 14 or 15 and I loved creating tension between my characters. I still have that assignment and read it a few years ago. It wasn’t a masterpiece, but it was written with a zeal that I vividly remember. And, I got an A+ so not bad.

What made you want to become a writer?

FF_John_The_PursualMy kids. When they were small, I read everything I could get my hands on to them. In fact, they got to hear me read The Economist to them in utero. Between that and the amount of time they spent surrounded by books, it was no surprise that they constantly demanded stories for entertainment. It came easy to me–teaching them to spell with a story or teaching them to not touch the hot stove via storytelling. I then started a blog about my life with them that became very popular. That and a political analysis website of mine had people encouraging me to write. Then, my kids told me I should turn one of the funny stories I’d made into a book, so that others could borrow it from the library. That got me thinking why not? It took a while but I eventually got to writing fiction.

How has your environment & upbringing colored your writing?

There was a period in time where I would read books just so I could figure out which ones to get for some of my favorite nieces and nephews. Between getting them quality reads and finding stories for my own children, I noticed a lack of books with diverse characters. I knew I couldn’t just complain about it, so I set off to remedy the situation. My books contain characters of all races and are a reflection of the world I want to see–one where the color of our skin, the religion we choose, the sexual orientation we were born with or our chromosomes do not define us. I’m currently working on a fantasy series that will have a Vietnamese-American girl from West Virginia as the main character. My hope is to continue to create diverse story worlds with diverse characters that anyone from anywhere can identify with and be entertained by.

Is being a writer a gift or a curse?

Gosh, I daresay it’s a little bit of both. Per the gift, there’s nothing like meeting a character in your mind’s eye, discovering his/her story and putting it down. It’s incredible to get that in front of readers and have them enjoy it, no matter if that’s only five people.

Committing to fiction writing has allowed me to tap into a side of myself that needed to breathe.

As for the curse of it, there’s a bit of pressure to live up to my personal expectations. I love writing but its a bit of a time-suck and that bites into family and friend time. I’ve been very fortunate because the people who love me have been beyond gracious. I can only hope to repay them for their kindness and patience. I’ve started by writing a few characters into my books. Sister Patti in the LegionBorn series is based on a super cool family friend who didn’t let anything like the aftermath of a Category 5 hurricane stop her from getting me my manuscript when I couldn’t get it printed on the island I currently live on.

Pen or typewriter or computer?

It depends on the story. Recently, it’s been a combination of computer and paper. I used to log every thought into a Google Docs document but, since Hurricane Maria in September 2017, I’ve been without internet at home, which means I primarily work offline. As such, my trusty notebook allows me to jot down ideas. Oh, and my voice notes are a key component to my story building as well.

Goals of certain # of words a week or when inspiration strikes? 

When I’m in ‘storyland’, I aim for 20,000 to 25,000 words a week. Once I have an outline or ‘scene list’ (a collection of story scenes), I can knock out a first draft very quickly and I wish I did. Sadly, I don’t edit that quickly. I spend months doing that, my story twisting and changing before my eyes.

Do you outline or just write? 

FF_John_LegionBornOh, I have to outline. I go with the flow when I’m making up stories for my kids on the fly. That’s easy to do because they participate and if the tale goes off track, they reign it in so the conclusion is satisfactory for all of us. (Yes, this is something we’ve been doing since the kids were babies. Now they are teenagers and still enjoy making up silly stories when we’re in the car).

As for my books, I like to have a sense of where the story is going. What happens in the beginning, in the middle and at the end. Then I try to imagine other possible scenes that help flesh out the plot. From there, I craft a loose outline that can be very detailed but I don’t marry myself to it. I know it could change at any time.

Do you want each book to stand on its own or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

I’ve watched the way my kids read, they enjoy long series with characters getting through extraordinary circumstances. While I don’t have that patience, I’ve learned that my kids are more reflective of the norm in that people enjoy longer book series that they can sink their teeth into. With my urban fantasy series, LegionBorn, I’ve decided to turn it into a multi-book universe. While LegionBorn focuses on Vaughn Prentiss, I have another related-series that will focus on another character. I’ve found that growing the series through the experiences of multiple characters is a lot of fun and the only issue now is finding the time to create more stories. Fingers crossed it will all work out!

Do you consider yourself to be a successful writer? If yes, why? If not, what do you think would make you successful?

It’s funny you ask this because I just realized I’m a successful writer! While my level of success might not be that of J.K. Rowling or Stephen King’s, I consider myself successful in that I’ve managed to craft stories and characters that readers like/hate enough to send me a private message or a demand to get another book in the series done. There’s no way to explain the feeling I get when I have those sorts of discussions with my readers. I’ve still got room to grow, though, and that’s the goal. 

Do your books have a lesson, a moral?

I’m the child of Nigerian parents and I was fortunate to live in Nigeria during my formative years. Nigerian culture plays a huge impact on my life as an author. It has to do with the great respect and almost mysticism there is around the art of storytelling in Nigerian culture. It’s the way elders share wisdom with the young. As such, I will confess that my stories always have a little moral or two to them. The danger of hubris is one that comes up again and again in the LegionBorn series. My Nome Chronicles series features the power of forgiveness among others.

What writing/publishing wisdom would you bestow upon new writers?

FF_John_LegionMarkedI’m still ‘green’ myself but if I could give some advice it would be the following—you’re going to make a lot of mistakes. Once you accept that, it will make the entire process a little easier. Be sure to continuously learn the craft. You will never not need to (yes, the double negative was purposeful). Understand genres as that will make you knowledgeable about reader’s expectations and what your covers should look like. Treat self-publishing as a business. It requires you to understand not just the art of storytelling but also the skill of marketing, networking, researching and much more. You can pay someone else to deal with these things, of course, but if you don’t know the ins and outs of the business, you’ll always feel lost and you’ll lose more money than you should. Ask for help when you need it. There are always authors out there willing to provide answers. Play nice with others and most will do the same. Finally, don’t compare yourself to anyone else. You’re in competition with who you were yesterday. That’s it. Focus on getting better. Be inspired by those who do well and know that you are capable of success. No matter how big or small that might be.

Do you send out a newsletter, and if yes, what’s your experience?

Yes, I do and interested readers can sign up at https://subscribepage.com/greatworlds. I have enjoyed this part of my author journey because it reminds me of my good, old blogging days. I share a little bit about my life with each message–what I’m watching or reading, what snack I’m craving (usually chocolate mousse cake), my favorite kitty cat gifs (they are a tad addicting) or how the writing process is going. My readers tend to write back and share their favorite gifs, recipes (yes, I got a great steak recipe from a subscriber that we now use for lamb. It’s delicious), advice on how to solve certain problems and much more. I prefer engaging this way though I’ve been encouraged to also communicate visually on my Facebook pages. We’ll see.

Where can we find you online?

Email: funmi@ffjohn.com

Website: https://ffjohn.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/F_F_John

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FFJohnwrites

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ffjohnauthor/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/F_F_John/

Amazon Author page: https://www.amazon.com/F.-F.-John/e/B06Y4Z5DPR

Bookbub page: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/f-f-john

Goodreads page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16612509.F_F_John

iTunes book page(s): https://itunes.apple.com/us/author/f-f-john/id1225855673?mt=11

Thank you, Funmi, for sharing a bit of history about yourself and about your writing. It is always intriguing to find out about how others became writers and how they experience it.

Book 2. LegionMarked is launching today, 19 June 2018! To celebrate, Book 1. LegionBorn is on sale for $0.99 but only for one week. Grab it while it’s hot!

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What To Watch? Old Boy

Yesterday, I watched the movie Old Boy, a 2013 remake of the 2003 South Korean movie of the same name. It’s classified as neo noir, a term I had never heard of. Now I read up on it, I immediately recognized Sin City as being a neo noir movie. Sin City is about gangsters, however, copying the original 1940s and 1950s crime noir movies, whereas Old Boy is purely based on the blurring lines between right and wrong (and other stuff, but that would mean giving away the plot).

Old Boy

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Cast

The main character in this movie is Josh Brolin. I couldn’t recall a particular movie he was in but remembered his face. I wasn’t surprised when I read he played in No Country for Old Men and Sin City but definitely didn’t recognize him as Thanos in Guardians of the Galaxy.  Brolin does a great job portraying a very unlikable character turning good (?). Yet, it was mainly the fact that Samuel L. Jackson and Sharlto Copley featured in the movie that made me decide to watch it. Elizabeth Olsen also has an interesting role.

Plot

Brolin plays the extremely unlikable and alcohol-addicted character of Joe Doucett. One day, after being drunk once again, he wakes up in what at first glance looks like a motel room. Soon, Joe finds out that this isn’t a motel room at all, and that he is imprisoned. Not knowing what for and having no contact with another living being at all, he is stuck in this room for twenty years before suddenly being released into the world. Now, Joe is bent on revenge upon those who have kept him a prisoner for so long.

What I liked about Old Boy

The film wasn’t what I expected. Quite honestly, I didn’t know what to expect, but it had a twisted (as in surprising and sick) ending which only became clear at the very end. The proper dark neo noir fashion with weird angles set the scene wonderfully and it goes well with the twisted plot. It made you go through the twenty years without being bored.

There’s one fight scene which is awesome, reminding me of the Daredevil Punisher prison fight.

What I didn’t like about Old Boy

(Contains some spoilers)

This movie is not for the faint at heart. I suppose it could be classified under horror, with the torturing and graphic fight scenes and all. I didn’t find it necessary for the plot.

Throughout the movie, you’re wondering why Joe doesn’t act upon his imprisonment. Only once does he try to grab the person giving him his food. Surely, in twenty years, you try to at least establish a bond between the only other person in your life?

During his imprisonment, Joe is shown aerobic exercises on TV and, only after years, he starts to work out. Suddenly, upon his release, he is a fighting machine, killing everyone in his path most efficiently. Really? From watching aerobic exercises?

The wound shown on Copley doesn’t match the injury he received. I’m sure the visual effects guys had a ball, but it’s anatomically incorrect.

The plot twist at the end was a bit far-fetched. I won’t spoil it for you, but I’m sure that once it’s revealed, you, too, will go; ‘really?’

Summary

Old Boy is a strange movie that combines horror, great fight scenes, and a twisted plot. I wanted to show you the preview from YouTube, but it shows you almost the whole storyline. If you intend to watch the movie, I recommend you don’t watch the trailer.

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Brush Up On Your Tenses – The Future

Even though most novels are written in the simple past, the future tense often features in them. You need to be able to use it properly to convey exactly what you think is going to happen. Have a quick read of The Past and The Present if you missed them.

The Future Tense

There are four future tenses:

  • The simple future
  • The future continuous/progressive
  • The future perfect simple
  • The future perfect continuous/progressive

Simple Future

Use when:

  • a future action is predicted (using will or [be] going to)
  • a future action is planned/intended (using [be] going to)
  • an action is spontaneous (using will)
  • an action is offered/promised/threatened (using will), either given/made or talked about
  • an action is offered in a question (using shall…)
  • a future action is questioned (using what/where/how/why shall…)
  • the action is an order (using you will)
  • the action is an invitation

Shall is mainly used with ‘I’ and ‘we,’ use will for all other objects of the sentence.

Note: The simple future is used when the action in the future is not 100% certain to happen (it is predicted/planned/offered/promised, but not written in stone).

Note: Sentences beginning with time indications about arranged events together with others at a later date don’t use the present tense. In these cases, use the present continuous.

Example: When I’m attending this workshop tonight with my friend,  I am going to learn a lot.

Form: will/shall + verb root or   [be] + going to + verb root

Note that future tenses always use an auxiliary verb (will/shall or am/is/are + going to). These are verbs that help to convey the tense/aspect/mood of another verb.

Example: She is going to catch the train to get there in time.

Example: I will pick her up from the station.

Example: She will come every Wednesday to help us.

Example: Shall we pick her up from the station together?

Example: What shall we give her for helping?

Example: You will give her something!

Example: Will you accept our gift?

Example: I would like to, but I can’t.

Signal or Key words:

There are no specific signal or key words for future tenses. The future is indicated when:

  • Using certain verbs (would like, plan, want, mean, hope, expect, etc.)
  • Using modals like may, might, and could if the future isn’t certain
  • Using should to indicate you want something to happen or something is likely to happen

Future Continuous/Progressive

Use when:

  • An action is going to start at an unspecific time in the future and will still be happening at a specific time in the future (often accompanied by a future time indication)
  • An action is certain to happen
  • An action is being questioned
  • Two actions will be happening at the same time in the future

The future continuous stresses an action in the future that is/can/will/should be interrupted by another future action.

Form: will + [be] + present participle (= verb root + -ing)

or

[be] + going to be + present participle (= verb root + -ing)

Example: I will be addressing the media at noon tomorrow when I need to take my anti-stress pills.

Example: I am going to be working on the final chapter next week.

Example: Will you be helping me with my grammar?

Example: I will be writing and he will be reading.

Future Perfect Simple

Use when:

  • An action at a certain point in the future will have finished

Form: will + have + past participle (= verb root + -ed)

Example: I will have learned all tenses by the time I get to the end of this article.

Signal or Key words:

By Before

Future Perfect Continuous/Progressive

Use when:

  • An action has already happened at a certain time in the future and is unfinished in a more distant future, often used with a time indication

Note: When using the future perfect continuous, you are stressing the duration of the action.

It is not a very often used tense in the English language.

Form: will + have + been + present participle (= verb root + -ing)

Example: My novel will have been praised by many this time next year.

or

[be] + going to have been + present participle (= verb root + -ing)

Example: My novel is going to have been praised by many this time next year.

 

Beside the four future tenses, you can also talk about the future without a future verb tense by:

  • Using the simple present when an action is in the immediate future

Example: I throw the ball, you catch it.

  • Using the simple present when an action is a scheduled event

Example: You arrive on Thursday evening for the meeting Friday morning.

  • Using the present continuous when an action is a future arrangement

Example: She is working the night shift.

  • Using the verb going to

Example: We are going to do this!

  • Using future obligations

Example: She is to be wed to the old man.

I am aware that this explanation of tenses is far from complete/perfect, but I hope it will get the beginner writer a long way.

Here is a timeline graph that I made that I hope puts things into perspective.

Tenses_Graph

Meet The Author… Alexis Marrero Deese

I met Lexi on Facebook. I was looking for fantasy authors and her book, Ignited, jumped out. It’s a beautiful cover, and a very intriguing story. I had to get to know Alexis Deese a bit better.

Alexis Marrero Deese

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Tell us a bit about yourself

I am an avid reader of all things Young Adult and Fantasy. Favorite authors include Brandon Sanderson, Jacqueline Carey and Leigh Bardugo. Although a Tampa native, I currently live near Atlanta Georgia with my husband and three dogs. I enjoy gardening, reading poolside and binging on Netflix.

Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?

I do! It was written on a yellow legal pad stolen from my father’s office and was about a little girl who runs away from home only to get swept away into a land full of dinosaurs. She has to fend for her life before she can go back home. I’ve always had a vivid imagination. My mother still has the story and it’s nothing more than a few sketches with some scribble underneath but I remember it very well.

What is your favorite under-appreciated novel?

Definitely Kushiel’s Dart (honestly that entire series) by Jacqueline Carey. Read it, people! I love stories with rich world-building and this series gets you hooked from page one. There is romance, danger and political intrigue. Basically all the things I love. If she had a dragon in there I’d be done.

Who is the most famous author you have ever met?

I met R. L. Stine a few years ago at a book convention in St. Petersburg, Florida. It was a beautiful day and I definitely geeked out. I stood in line for an autograph 🙂

R.S. Belcher friend requested me and I fangirled just a little bit. Oh, maybe I should change my other answer. Read Shotgun Arcana (the start of his Golgotha series) by Belcher, it’s SO GOOD!

What are your books about? Could you tell us a bit about them and why they are a must-read?

I write Young Adult Fantasy with just a hint of romance. My debut novel, Ignited, is a multiple POV, fast-paced adventure full of elemental magic, political intrigue and dragons. It is the first of a planned quartet titled: Dance of the Elements.

Do you want each book to stand on its own or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

I’m definitely trying to build a solid body of work. Submerged, the sequel in the series takes place right where we left off at the end of Ignited. With the exception of a couple stand-alone projects I’m working on, all my current and foreseeable projects will be connected.

Of all the characters you have created, which is your favorite and why?

Kay is certainly my favorite. She is a precocious seven year old with too much attitude and too much power. She dreams of riding dragons and she’s kind of a badass. I’m actually releasing a novella featuring Kay later this summer. The novella will show everything that occurs in the two week period between the first two novels of my series. The second book is set to release in February.

What did you edit out of this book?

I actually deleted an entire chapter from Ignited at the suggestion of my editor. She said the chapter was redundant and the flashback was unnecessary. She was right and my novel was stronger for it. Always invest in a good editor! Submerged is currently in the hands of my Critique Partner so its editing fate remains unknown for now.

Can you give us a small teaser of your work?

I’m currently working on both Kay’s novella (title unknown at the moment) and Windswept, the third installment in my series. I’m happy to share an excerpt. Here are the opening lines from Kay’s story:

             For the first time since she’d been taken Kay opened her eyes and knew exactly where she was. The early morning light forced her to squint; someone had positioned the beds in just the right spot so that dawn brought its blinding radiance no matter which bed she chose to sleep in. She frowned down at the row of empty beds and reached blindly for the small glass of water on her bedside table.

            Every morning there was a new glass of the stale, warm water. Kay wondered who had the job of sneaking in her room at night and placing it there. Ash perhaps? She drank the morning’s rations and thought of the crisp water from the well back on her family’s property, somehow the water had always been cold, even in the middle of the summer. Here in the Sand Sea, the summer never ended.

What are common traps for aspiring writers?

Vanity Publishers!!! In the publishing business, money always flows down to the author. It’s sad how there are so many scams out there ready to trick newbie authors into giving them all their money 🙁

How do author friends help you become a better writer?

I love this question so much because I would be nowhere without my CP (critique partner). She is literally life saving. Having good friends who are also authors helps you in so many ways. Aside from the wonderful constructive criticism, my friends also provide me with motivation to write and answers to the publishing ins and outs. If you don’t have any author friends and you’re an inspiring author, go get some now! Join a Facebook group or a local writers club because writer friends are priceless!

Thank you so much for your answers, Lexi! It’s great to hear you talk so enthusiastically about writing. It’s clear from this and your earliest work you are a writer at heart 🙂

I couldn’t resist. I had to post the blurb for Ignited. Here it is:

AM_Deese_IgnitedA NOBLE DAUGHTER.

A FORMER SLAVE.

SCORCHED EARTH AND DANGEROUS GAMES.

“Jura imagined it sounded like rain.”

Juggling death is nothing new for seventeen-year-old Jura, daughter of the First of the Thirteen, successive rulers of the Republic of the Sand Sea. However, when a blood chain ensnares her father, she is thrust into the seat of power and forced to rule her elders.

“To Tylak, water had never tasted sweeter.”

Jura must track down her father’s assassin and balance a country on the verge of collapse. To find the Prince of Shadows and uncover the truth, Jura puts her trust in Tylak, a former slave accused of stealing from the Everflame—a man she once condemned to death.

In a world where water is currency and enemies lurk around every corner, Jura will use her wits or risk igniting a world war.

You can follow Alexis Marrero Deese via the following social media:

Website: www.amdeese.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/authorAMDeese

Twitter: https://twitter.com/authoramdeese

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/authoramdeese/

Alexis Marrero Deese’s book Ignited, as well as the anthology Once Upon a Wednesday which includes her short story called Magic Show, is available on Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, and Nook.

What To Watch? Cargo

Cargo is a movie we watched over a week ago, but it is still lingering in my brain. It certainly had good enough qualities to do so. It was written by Yolanda Ramke for the Adelaide Film Festival, and this version is directed by her and Ben Howling.

Cargo

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Cast

Martin Freeman is the main character of this movie, Andy. He’s himself, a father and husband this time, with the same frustrated/not-getting-it expression that we all love about him. And a beard, which is something new. The other main character, Thoomi, is played by Simone Landers. She’s a young Aboriginal girl who did a great job. Other actors are Anthony Hayes (from Rabbit-Proof Fence), Caren Pistorius, David Gulpilil (from Rabbit-Proof Fence, Ten Canoes (a very funny movie), Crocodile Dundee, and many other Australian movies), Susie Porter (as Kay, Andy’s wife), Kris McQuade (from A Country PracticeHome and AwayThe Flying Doctors, Blue Heelers), Bruce R. Carter, and Natasha Wanganeen.

Plot

The world is thrown into chaos as a virus turns people into zombies. The government has handed out kits to kill yourself/those infected, including a watch that tells you how much time you have from being bitten to turning into a flesh-eating monster.

Andy, his wife Kay, and their one-year-old daughter, Rosie, are trying to stay safe on a riverboat in the Australian bush (yes, there are rivers in the bush in Australia 😀 ). When they stumble upon an abandoned boat, they forage there for food. Kay gets bitten by a person hiding on the boat but doesn’t tell Andy. When she turns and bites Andy, he’s got forty-eight hours to find someone to take care of their daughter.

What I liked about Cargo

It is a heart-wrenching story. A father who knows he’s going to die/turn into a zombie tries to find a carer for his daughter. What’s not to love? Freeman is portraying the role very well. Personally, I’d be a bit more frustrated and impatient, but that’s just me 😀 .

I loved the incorporation of the Aboriginal culture, dealing with the threat in the most natural way. The culture of ancient tribes is disappearing faster than you can think, and it makes you realize that this may not be for the good of humankind.

What I didn’t like about Cargo

Some parts of the story are very predictable, but that’s about it. It’s still a very entertaining story with incredible performances that pluck your heartstrings.

I thought the special effects were a bit tacky (lol, almost literally!), but it did the job.

Summary

Cargo is a movie about hope, survival, and humanity (good and bad) that will make you laugh, scream, and cry. Honestly, get the tissue box ready!

The Darker Side of Fiction Takeover!

Guess what? Jo Curtis and Rachel Brightley are doing a takeover on my Facebook page (Jacky Dahlhaus – Author) on Monday evening, the 11th of June!

Come and join us for some fun and learn more about this awesome book signing which will be held on Saturday the 6th of October in Peterborough.

There’ll be fun and games, and I will be giving away a FREE all-day ticket to the event. It’s also an opportunity to ask me anything about my writing.

I hope to see you on Monday evening, 8:30pm at my Facebook Page! 😀

Brush Up On Your Tenses – The Present

Yesterday’s the past, tomorrow’s the future, but today is a gift. That’s why it’s called the present. This post is all about the present tense. Read up about The Past here.

The Present Tense

Most novels are written in past tense, but some authors prefer the present tense. It is the tense commonly used in dialogue.

For the following explanation of the tenses, please note that the root of a verb is the base form of a verb (= whole verb minus –ing).

Simple Present

Use when:

  • an action is happening right now
  • an action happens regularly/never stops (and hence is sometimes called the present indefinite)
  • an action refers to timetables.

Form:  Verb root

If that word ends in a consonant; you need to add an ‘e’). You also need to add an ‘s’ or ‘es’ in the third person (use ‘es’ when the root form ends in o, ch, sh, th, ss, gh, or z).

Example: I write novels, but she writes thrillers.

Example: He goes to work when she comes home.

Example: We always watch movies on Fridays, but he watches movies on Saturdays.

Signal or Keywords:

Always Seldom After work
Often Never/Hardly ever First
Usually Every … Then
Sometimes On Mondays

Note that most of them indicate a frequency and the others a recurring time frame.

Present Continuous / Progressive

Use when:

  • an action is happening now
  • an action is certain to continue/stop in the near future.

Form: [be] + present participle (= verb root + -ing).

Example: I am writing tonight.

Example: He is finishing his novel this weekend.

Signal or Keywords:

Now For a few days Tonight
At the moment Always Later
Currently Forever This weekend
These days Constantly Little by little
Gradually Look, Listen,
Still At present Even now
Any longer Any more

Present Perfect

Use when:

  • an action has happened in the past but at an unspecified time
  • an action has an unfinished time (i.e. the action is happening all the way up to the present time)
  • an action has been recurring in the past up until now
  • an action has been completed in the very near past (usually indicated by ‘just’)

The present perfect explains why things are the way they are now; there is a connection between the past and the present. It is used to emphasize the result of a(n) (finished)  action.

Form: have/has + past participle (= verb root + -ed)

Example: She has published five novels during her life.

Note that during her life doesn’t indicate exactly when; it is an unspecified time.

Example: I have finished my book and can rest now.

Example: Why is he happy? Because he has sold one hundred books.

Note that he is happy is written in the simple present, and the reason Because he has sold one hundred books is written in the present perfect as it is the reason for the current state.

Signal or Keywords:

Today This week This year
In my lifetime Just Yet
Never Already Ever
So far Up to now Recently
Since For Not yet
Lately Recently Once
It’s the first time

Present Perfect Continuous / Progressive

Use when:

  • an action has begun in the past (sometimes at an unspecified time) and has lasted up until now, but could still be going on.

In contrast to the present perfect, the action of the present perfect continuous isn’t finished. It could be seen as a time indication of the near past (lately, recently) and the result of that action is still visible, heard, or felt. It puts emphasis on the duration of the action, which is often temporary.

Form: has/have + been + present participle (=verb root + -ing)

Example: I have been writing this last hour and have a cramp in my hand now.

Example: She has been teaching English for ten years, so she knows her grammar.

Signal or Key words:

All day Since For
The whole time (…week, year, etc.) How long (used in a question)

Tenses_Graph

Meet The Author… James Dorr

Horror lovers are in luck as I have another horror writer for you to meet this week. Meet James Dorr, past Bram Stoker award nominee and writer of a novel, several collections, and too many short horror stories published in too many anthologies to mention. Apart from writing dark fantasy and horror, he also writes science fiction and mystery. James takes on an active role in the writing community as a member of HWA (Horror Writers Association) and SFWA (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America). Let’s get to know James a bit better.

James Dorr

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Tell us a bit about yourself

I was born in Florida, raised in the New York City area, in college in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and am currently living in the Midwest. I’m a short story writer and poet specializing in dark fantasy and horror, with forays into mystery and science fiction. My The Tears of Isis was a 2013 Bram Stoker Award® finalist for Superior Achievement in a Fiction Collection, while other books include Strange Mistresses: Tales of Wonder and Romance, Darker Loves: Tales of Mystery and Regret, and my all-poetry Vamps (A Retrospective). As an Active Member of SFWA and HWA, I have more than 500 individual publications. I have also been a technical writer, an editor on a regional magazine, a full-time, non-fiction freelancer, and a semi-professional musician. I currently harbor a Goth cat named Triana. My latest book is a novel-in-stories published in June 2017 by Elder Signs Press, Tombs: A Chronicle of Latter-day Times of Earth

How did you become a writer? 

I actually began writing fiction and poetry rather late. In college, for instance, I’d been art editor on several magazines, though occasionally doing some fill-in writing. In graduate school the situation somewhat reversed itself with me doing occasional fill-in illustration until I got a job with a university computing center as a technical writer. It wasn’t until I left that job, though, that I (with an M.A. in Literature), began to seriously try my hand at creative writing. Along with that, I’ve also had an interest in music and currently lead, and play tenor recorder in, a group specializing in Renaissance dance music.   

Who are your favorite authors and how much is your work influenced by them?

James_Dorr_TheTearsOfIsisTwo authors that I often cite are Ray Bradbury (who I approached as a science fiction reader, but stayed for the “dark bits”) and Edgar Allan Poe. Both, for their juxtapositions of both horror and beauty, have influenced me immensely. In fact, my Stoker® nominated collection The Tears of Isis is dedicated to Poe, “who led the way,” and is based in part on a passage in his essay on “The Philosophy of Composition” stating that the “most poetical topic in the world” is the death of a beautiful woman. Well, not everyone dies in the stories in that book, necessarily, but art does walk hand in hand with destruction, led by a poem about Medusa as a sculptress. And then, more death-centric, my novel-in-stories Tombs: A Chronicle of Latter-Day Times of Earth also borrows another theme from Poe, that “[t]he boundaries which divide Life from Death are at best shadowy and vague” (cf. “The Premature Burial”), as well as borrowing its very form as a “novel-in-stories” from Bradbury’s masterpiece, in my opinion, The Martian Chronicles. Then for two quick additions, Bertolt Brecht’s theories of “epic theatre,” particularly in terms of artistic distancing, have been an influence on some of my fiction while Allen Ginsberg, especially in his longer works with their cadenced rhythms, have been an inspiration for poetry.

Pen or typewriter or computer?

I almost always compose prose directly on the computer, though I may work out individual scenes or portions with problems with pen on paper. Poetry, on the other hand, is almost always drafted in pen, then rewritten to the computer.

Why do you write horror?

I like to get in characters’ heads, to write about, and figure out, characters under stress (not to mention invent situations to put them there), and for stressful scenarios horror seems the place to go. I’m also interested, though, in myths and legends and people’s beliefs in the inexplicable, where horror, again, provides a place to work these sorts of ideas out. 

Do consider yourself to be a successful writer? If yes, why? If not, what do you think would make you successful?

James_Dorr_VanitasjpgYes, in that I’m doing something I enjoy, I’m being published and at least some people are reading it, and I’ve received some honors for doing so.

No, in that I don’t have as many readers as I’d like, publishers are not exactly beating down my door, and at best I’m just earning supplemental income, and not much at that. I’m admittedly not that good a self-publicist, but interviews like this help (and thank you, Jacky!). Also more reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, blogs, etc., would be very helpful so, if you should read this and consider buying one of my books and like it, please consider reviewing it too — just a few lines are fine, and any writer is helped by reviews, even if not all are four or five stars.  

Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym? If yes, why?

As a graduate student, I did a series of humorous science essays for an alternative newspaper under the name “James Bearson.” I was in a Ph.D. program in English at the time (I later got out and accepted an M.A., but that’s a different story) and did so in part to avoid questions like “what does an English major know about science?” as well as from some of my professors like “why are you wasting your time on that stuff instead of studying more for my class?”    

Could you tell us a bit about your most recent book and why it is a must-read?

My most recent book is a mosaic novel, or “novel-in-stories,” Tombs: A Chronicle of Latter-Day Times of Earth. In it a Ghoul-Poet, an eater of death, contemplates a city in which all have finally died, seeking to find out what it was that made humans human. It is divided into five sections and with an “Entr’acte,” the sections in turn divided in self-contained story-chapters, about half of which also have also been published elsewhere. To quote from the publisher’s blurb: “It had been a time when the world needed legends, those years so long past now. Because there was something else legends could offer, or so the Poet believed. He didn’t know quite what – ghouls were not skilled at imagination. Their world was a concrete one, one of stone and flesh. Struggle and survival. Survival predicated on others’ deaths.

James_Dorr_Tombs“Far in the future, when our sun grows ever larger, scorching the earth. When seas become poisonous and men are needed to guard the crypts from the scavengers of the dead. A ghoul-poet will share stories of love and loss, death and resurrection.”

As such, Tombs is listed by Amazon as both “Horror” and “Dystopic Science Fiction,” to which I might add “Science Fantasy” and “Dark Romance” (but beware: in that last category some stories are tilted toward adult consumption). It is not a “happy” book, I would say, but not an entirely despairing one either. To quote again, this time from Amazon and a review by Heidi Angell: “Yes, despite the uncomfortable and dark future predicted in this future world, key elements, like love, money, and humanity’s ability to carve out some sort of life in even the direst circumstances carries on with a heart-broken tinge of hope and legends.

“I highly recommend this book for anyone who likes to think deep thoughts about what they read. For anyone who has an interest in politics, social issues, climate issues, anthropological studies, biomedical, and for the curious who like to imagine how the world could turn out. For me, this was more realistic an outcome than the Divergent series, Hunger Games, or Maze Runner, though definitely not for the same audience. This is a grown up’s view for grown-ups of what a dystopian world could potentially provide.”

What is your writing style?

I don’t think I have a single style, but rather try to provide what a story needs. Tombs, for instance, is written in a more literary, almost Baroque style because I thought the overall story wanted a serious, “classic” feel. Tales in The Tears of Isis, however, may vary from stream-of-consciousness, fairy tale, noir, dreamlike, more action-filled, even to light humor (though with a dark side too). 

Does your book have a lesson, a moral of the story?

For Tombs I like to think “love conquers all,” but, boy, does it have trouble doing so! 

What motivated you to become a published author? How did you break into publishing?

James_Dorr_StrangeMisstresses.jpgI first met Joe Morey, then editor/publisher of Dark Regions Press, at a poetry reading at a convention when he asked me if he could reprint a long poem I’d just read. From there we talked about a possible collection, from which Strange Mistresses: Tales of Wonder and Romance came about, mainly short fiction but with a poetry section as well. Several years later I approached him about a second volume resulting in Darker Loves: Tales of Mystery and Regret. I would add though that I’d built up a number of single sales in each case, allowing me to choose about 25 stories for each book from which Joe would pick just over half, so I wasn’t exactly unknown. Then a few years after that, with PMMP’s Max Booth III, I’d also already sold him a couple of tales for publications he had worked on, so when he was ready to start his own press he contacted me, in this case offering me pretty much a free hand in editing and story choice (the only constriction that the book had to total more than 60,000 words), from which The Tears of Isis was born.   

Thank you, James, for letting us get to know you better. I’m sure many of us authors are in the same boat regarding getting reviews and sales and feel your frustration. I’m glad you took up this offer for more exposure. I hope many authors will follow your example and head over to the ‘For Authors’ section on my website!

Most of James Dorr’s anthologies as well as The Tears of Isis and Tombs, are available on Amazon.are available on Amazon.

You can follow James via the following social media:

Email: edgarc@rocketmail.com

Website (blog): http://jamesdorrwriter.wordpress.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/james.dorr.9

Amazon Author page: https://www.amazon.com/James-Dorr/e/B004XWCVUS

Just to let you know I wasn’t kidding about the numerous works James has been published in, here’s the list available on Amazon!

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James_Dorr_Books4

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James_Dorr_Books6

James_Dorr_Books7

James_Dorr_Books8

James_Dorr_Books9

 

Follow me on a journey of words

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