Tag Archives: entertainment

What to Watch? Salem

As there’ll be witches in my next novel, I thought I’d better get to know as much as I could about witches. So, I watched the first season of Salem on Netflix, a supernatural horror series. I learned a lot!

Salem

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Cast

Main Cast

Salem_Janet_MontgomeryThe cast of Salem is very well chosen. Janet Montgomery plays Mary Sibley, the main character/witch whose features are beautiful and her soul ugly (or is it?), and Janet plays a good witch. Mary’s one true love, Captain John Alden, is played by Shane West. He has the rugged look of a man who’s been out there. There’s no nonsense to him, every word counts. Then there’s Tituba, the servant (slave?) of Mary, played by the beautiful Ashley Madekwe. I love, love Seth Gabel’s portrayal of the reverend Cotton Mather (where did they get those names from?). He is so believable and has such sorrowful eyes. If ever they decide to film my series Suckers, I’d be happy for him to play Charlie! (I know, he’s no dwarf, but still).

Others

Salem_Shane_WestI also have to mention the other actors in the series who do a wonderful job of entertaining. There’s Tamzin Merchant as Anne Hale (there’s more of her role to come, I’m sure!), Elise Every as Mercy Lewis, Iddo Goldberg as Isaac Walton, Xander Berkely as Magistrate Hale (his white long hair always reminds me of Lucius Malfoy), Michael Mulheren as George Sibley, Azure Parsons as Gloriana Embry, and Stephen Lang (remember him as Colonel Miles Quaritch in Avatar, the one talking about the indigenous having your eyes as jujubes?) as the scary Increase Mather.

Plot

Salem_Ashley_Madekwe.jpgThe series starts off in the past. The past compared to when the bulk of the series is playing, of course. Mary and John are still young, and when John is sent to go fight in the war, Mary promises to wait for him until he returns next year. Fast forward seven years. John finally makes it back to Salem, only to find Mary has married the one man who sent him away. George Sibley has mysteriously lost his faculties, though, and Mary, now the most wealthy woman around, is running the town in his stead, refusing to give up her position to be with her former lover.

Unaware to most, witches are running Salem. Their goal: to take over and live in peace. But who is friend and who is foe? And is it all mind control or is there real magic going on here? You’ll have to watch the series to find out!

What I liked about Salem

Salem_Seth_GableI won’t lie. I like watching old costumes and pretty people and special effects make-up. Sometimes, I think I was born in the wrong time, but then again, maybe not! Back to the series. I liked the darkness of it. How the goodies are the bad guys, the bad guys are the good guys, and that everything is actually very grey overall.

I liked watching Cotton Mather’s frustration. I liked the power struggle going on between the witches and their attempts to keep it all under cover. I liked the way they suggested the lesbian relationship.

I also like the music they used in the series. The intro tune of Marilyn Manson’s Cupid Carries a Gun is very eerie.

What I didn’t like about Salem

Sometimes the acting wasn’t all that spectacular. Sometimes the scenes didn’t make sense. Sometimes the special effects were a bit fake. Yet this didn’t stop me from watching to find out what was coming next.

Summary

This is not a series for the faint at heart. It is gruesome, weird, shocking at some points. Yet there is hardly any nudity in it, for a change! I loved seeing something different, and I can’t wait to find out what they come up with in the second series.

 

A FANTASTIC BOOK SIGNING OFFER!

I have an amazing offer for my UK readers! It’s a FREE ticket to the DARKER SIDE OF FICTION author signing! This ticket will give you a WHOLE DAY FREE ENTRY to the event which will be held on the 6th of October 2018 at The Bull Hotel in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire.

I only have one FREE ticket to hand out, so first come, first served. Click here to find out more info on the event. Send me an email (jackydahlhaus@gmail.com) with the heading ‘Darker Side Ticket’ if you want a shot at the offer BEFORE 1 September!

If you’re from abroad and happen to be in the UK at the time, you’re, of course, also welcome to take up the offer!

Hope to see you soon!

Jacky D.

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Book Trailer for Killing A Vampire – Update

I finally had some time to update the trailer for Killing A Vampire! Well, I had to as it was in my pre-order form for the Darker Side of Fiction book fair, and I had to hand the form in 😀 . I still haven’t finalized the form as I need to figure out what the price for the Prequel and my Short Shockers books are. For this, I need to upload them on IngramSpark first. So I’m working my ass off to get this done! In the meantime, enjoy the trailer again!

What To Watch? I Am Dragon

If you didn’t get your romantic fix during your summer holiday, don’t worry. You can get it when watching this fantastic (literally 😀 ), Russian movie I found on Amazon!

I Am Dragon

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Cast

The first thing that strikes you is how well the two main characters have been chosen.

Maria Poezzhaeva plays Miroslava (Mira), the girl who gets taken by the dragon. Although she was twenty-six years old when the movie was made (in 2015), she looked about fourteen which I think would be a believable age to be married in a fantasy medieval Russian setting.

My favorite of the movie is, however, Matvey Lykov as Arman. I had to look him up, to see if he plays in other movies. I was not surprised to find out he’s actually a model. He is in two other movies, Peterburg: A Selfie, a Russian movie, and Woodkid: Iron which is a French movie but English spoken. I hope to see him in more movies to come. This man’s body is fantastic. He is so skinny and sinewy. A perfect match to the dragon!

The two of them together is magic on screen. At first I thought Maria’s performance was a bit ‘wooden,’ but soon you get swept away by the chemistry between the two.

Next to these two, there are Stanislav Lyubshin as Prince (Miroslava’s father), Ieva Andrejevaite as Yaroslava (Miroslava’s sister), and Pyotr Romanov as Igor (the groom).

Matvey Lykov as Arman
Matvey Lykov as Arman

Plot

In the past, girls to be wed were offered to the dragon. The people would sing a song to accompany the ritual during which the dragon would come and take one girl away.

Two generations ago, the betrothed of the girl taken didn’t take no for an answer, went after the dragon, and killed it (although his bride-to-be had already perished).

Now, Mira is betrothed to Igor, the grandson of the dragonslayer. For years, the dragon song hasn’t been sung, but Igor insists the song is sung again to honor his heritage. To everybody’s surprise another dragon shows up and takes Mira.

Will Igor get Mira back?

What I liked about I Am Dragon

The best thing about this movie is that it takes you away into this other world and you feel the yearning of two loved ones who cannot be together. Credit to Indar Dzhendubaev, on his directing debut.

Even though the movie was 85% CG, the setting was incredibly real, and I never felt some of it was fake. Okay, sensibility tells you it can’t be real (like the waterfall at the top of the ‘mountain’), but it looked and felt real! Especially the dragon looked as real as it can get. What more does one want?

Mira and the dragon
Mira and the dragon

What I didn’t like about I Am Dragon

As mentioned earlier, Maria’s performance felt a bit fake at the start of the movie, but she soon gets into her role.

Summary

This is a movie for the whole family although probably not too young kids as some scenes may be scary/threatening. Even though there are ‘naked’ shots (without genitalia shown), at no point was there any embarrassment necessary for it.

The film is about tradition, arrogance, true love, and standing up for yourself. DON’T watch the trailer as it gives away way too much! Instead, let yourself be swept away by the dragon…

I am Dragon
I am Dragon

PS: I cried in the end, so keep the tissues ready!

Meet the Author… Ken Stark

I’ve yet to read Ken Stark’s books, but I know I will… one day. Their blurbs stir something primal that makes you want to read them, to find out if the protagonists are going to survive or not. I’m pretty sure not all of them will… Meet Ken Stark, author of two zombie novels, a novelette about unspeakable horrors, and his new horror novel Arcadia Falls.

Ken Stark

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Biography

Ken Stark lives in Vancouver, Canada, where he worked in the armoured car industry for far too long before finally committing full-time to his one true passion. Ken’s writing tends toward the dark, yet through it all he remains an optimist, seeing a ray of hope in even the most dire of circumstances.

And yes, he once gave his lunch to a rat, but in his defense, the scruffy little thing looked hungry.

If you could tell your younger writing-self anything, what would it be?

Ken_Stark_Stage3So many things! But the top two would have to be:

a) Get out and experience everything life has to offer, and

b) It’s perfectly alright to be disappointed, but don’t get discouraged. Good or bad, every experience a writer has adds more color to the palette, and every disappointment brings us one step closer to success.

But younger me probably wouldn’t have listened anyway. He was kind of a know-it-all.

What is the biggest surprise that you experienced after becoming a writer?

When the time came to dedicate myself completely to writing, I knew I would love it, but I was surprised at how much I loved it. I expected it to be like satisfying an itch I was never quite able to scratch, but it was more like breathing freely for the first time.

What does your typical writing day look like? How many hours a day do you write?

I actually have nothing like a typical writing day. I might write for 10 minutes or 10 hours, depending on my mood and whatever else I have going on. I punched a clock for so many years that I never want to think of writing as a job. It’s my passion, and passion doesn’t stick to a schedule.

Pen or typewriter or computer?

Ken_Stark_AlphaI would be completely lost without my computer. My brain seems to work at the exact same speed as my ham-fisted typing, so the words have a way of flowing in a very natural rhythm. And of course, a computer makes editing a breeze. It’s hard enough chopping out all of those fine words without having to rely on erasers and White-Out.

Do you write alone or in public?

I’m always alone when I write. I’m sure I could get along just fine in a crowded room, but only if no one was allowed to peek over my shoulder. Tuning out the distractions is one thing, someone reading an unpolished work is another thing else entirely.

What is your favorite genre? Why?

I’ll read just about anything, but when I write, I prefer a good scary tale. Fear is the most fundamental of emotions, after all. Say what you will about love and compassion and caring, it was fear that kept our primitive ancestors alive in a violent world and let us to survive as a species. Whether you shy away from scary things or face them head-on to get that rush of adrenaline, we are all hard-wired to feel fear, and if I can tap into that most primitive of emotions for even an instant, it’s as if I’m kicking up a few million years of genetic memory. That’s a pretty awesome superpower to have.

What is/are your book(s) about? Could you tell us a bit about your most recent book and why it is a must-read?

Ken_Stark_Arcadia FallsMy latest release is a break from the zombie apocalypse, setting the horror on a much smaller stage. Arcadia Falls is a town with a secret. People are going missing and no one seems to care, until one young man and his little band of misfits start to look into what evil thing might be preying on their town. I won’t tell you what they discover, but you know it ain’t Care Bears!

Does your book have a lesson? Moral?

It’s not so much a moral as an observation. As dark as my works are, the common threads running through them all are the simple act of hope and that ridiculously powerful force known as friendship. There’s never a time when all hope is lost, and a good friend in your corner can make all the difference in the world.

How did you come up with the idea for Arcadia Falls?

One day, I happened to ask my best friend’s teenaged daughter what kind of books she liked to read. Her response was, “Something scary, with a monster, and some kind of mystery.” From that barest of outlines came Arcadia Falls. It’s being marketed as YA because I kept the language cleaner than my usual, but that’s the only concession I made. And really, I did that more for the parents of younger readers rather the young readers themselves.

What has been the best compliment?

Ken_Stark_JittersI met a man named Chris Roy on the Deadman’s Tome podcast a while back. He is a writer, currently serving a life sentence in prison. He was interested in my books, so I sent him a few and he shared them around the cell block. Much to my amazement, several of those men took the time and effort to write a review by hand, photograph the piece of paper, and have Chris send me the pix. Understand that these are the kinds of guys who won’t hold back what they really think, and not only did they like the books, but they actually went through the trouble to tell me in those handwritten notes. That response simply blew my mind, and those reviews will always be very special to me.

Where can we find you online?

website,

Website

Twitter

Facebook

Amazon Author page

iTunes book page(s)

Ken’s books are also on sale at:

Barnes & Noble

Audible

BookFunnel Giveaway!

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Searching for a thrilling selection of new reads? Why not pick one of the Amazing twenty-four FREE novels from this Paranormal Reads Giveaway (including Living Like A Vampire!)?

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This giveaway ends August 3.

This Giveaway includes Book 1 of the Suckers Trilogy

Living Like A Vampire
Living Like A Vampire; Book 1 in the paranormal Suckers Trilogy full of romance and suspense, by Jacky Dahlhaus

BookFunnel Giveaway!

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Searching for a new Kick A** Heroine to love?

Look no further! These authors have teamed up to help you discover your next Urban Fantasy obsession. Nearly 50 FREE books with new heroines to root for!

You can find them here, but only till the 31st of July…

Meet the Author… Mark L. Fowler

Blue Murder Blog Tour

Welcome to Mark L. Fowler’s Blog Tour! As mentioned in my interview with him last March, I’ve known Mark L. Fowler for a few years now. We both joined One Stop Fiction Authors’ Resource Group (on Facebook) when it only had a few members. Of course I said ‘yes!’ when Mark asked me to be a beta reader for his new book, Blue Murder, book 2 of the Tyler and Mills series. As I’m part of his blog tour, I’d love to give him another boost 🙂 .

Mark L. Fowler

Mark_Fowler

Biography

Mark L. Fowler has five published novels under his belt, and he recently contributed one of his many short stories to the Dark Minds charity collection. Mark’s most recent book, Blue Murder, is the second in a police detective series featuring DCI Tyler and DS Mills. The first book to feature the detectives, Red Is The Colour, was published by Bloodhound Books last year and shortlisted for the 2018 Arnold Bennett Book Prize. Mark is also the author of The Man Upstairs, featuring hard-boiled detective Frank Miller, and Silver, a psychological thriller. His first book, Coffin Maker, continues to defy any attempts to categorize it. All of his books can be read as stand-alone works.

Who is the most famous author you have ever met?

Peter James. I met him at the Winchester Annual Writers’ conference many years ago. I attended his workshop and was lucky enough to have a one: one session with him, during which he looked over the opening chapter of my first novel and gave me some sound advice.

What do you love most about the writing process?

I love setting off on new adventures, not always certain of where they will take me. I love exploring new characters, watching them develop as I work on them, and finding what makes them tick.

Is being a writer a gift or a curse?

Mark_Fowler_RedIsTheColourFor me, being a writer is absolutely a gift. Yes, it is hard work, yes there are frustrations getting your books out there, but the creative part of the job, the putting pen to paper, developing storylines, creating settings, sharpening dialogue – I just love the whole business of writing.

Do you outline or just write?

A little of both. I like to have a strong idea of my main characters, and a vivid sense of place, of where the story is happening, before I begin writing. I will usually have a clear idea of the primary situation or conflict that will need to be resolved before the story can reach its ending. But detailed plotting is not something that I like to do before beginning the writing. If I had too much plot before I started the book, I would feel constrained and my characters would not have sufficient room to develop. I know writers who plot intricately before they begin a book, leaving little or nothing to chance, while others just go for it. It is whatever works for the individual writer. I’m somewhere in between.

What is your favorite genre? Why?

I read more crime fiction than any other genre, and my writing has increasingly moved that way too. I have always loved detective stories, both on the page and on screen. Most of my published work so far has been in the detective genre, one way or another, most clearly in my Tyler and Mills books and The Man Upstairs. Whilst Silver is more a psychological thriller than a classic detective novel, the main character, the writer and journalist Nick Slater, is effectively playing the role of detective, trying to get to the heart of a baffling and intriguing mystery.

What genre do you consider your latest book and have you considered writing in another genre?

Blue Murder, like its predecessor Red Is The Colour, is a British police detective novel. But the books are also historic crime, set in 2002-2003. Part of my reason for doing this was my interest in a style of policing that is a little less dependent on technology, and more about detectives going door to door, face to face. The action takes place on the streets of a North Staffordshire city, not in forensic laboratories and on computer screens. I have also written in other genres, Coffin Maker being a good example. It’s just that no-one, including the author, can quite nail the elusive genre that can define it! A lot of people really love that about the book.

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

Mark_Fowler_Blue_MurderThe sub-title of Blue Murder is: Fame. Fortune. Murder. And here lies the first clue to what the book is about. Johnny and the Swamp Seeds are a local band on the cusp of success when the singer Johnny Richards goes missing. Then the body of a young man is found in the local canal. The detectives, DCI Tyler and DS Danny Mills, not only find themselves trying to solve a baffling mystery, but at the same time their efforts appear to be doing nothing more than catapulting a now singer-less band to fame and fortune. What a lot of people most enjoyed about Red Is The Colour was the relationship, strained at times, between Tyler and Mills, and in Blue Murder I have worked hard to develop these two characters further. So the book is as much about the detectives, and also about the city in which they live and work, as it is about finding out what happened to Johnny Richards.

What gave you inspiration for your book? How did you come up with the idea for Blue Murder? Tell us about your writing process and the way you brainstorm story ideas.

I suppose that the inspiration for Blue Murder initially came from being in a band many years ago, though I have been careful to write a work of fiction and not an autobiography. I had the initial idea about the singer going missing at the point at which he and his band were about to break into the big time. Then I began to ask questions about why this might happen, and who might stand to gain. But once I had the basic ingredients, I didn’t want to plot any further. I wanted my detectives to do the work for me. I wanted Tyler and Mills, rather than the author, to dig into the mystery and find the truth. As far as possible, I handed the investigation over to them. After all – they are the detectives!

Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story?

I wouldn’t say ‘hijack’ exactly. While giving the story over to my detectives, in one sense, I still retain the last word. This is why I like to have some idea of the shape of the story from the outset, and why theme is important – to stop the book from veering off course. Some plot developments would seem inappropriate to the story I want to tell, and this comes through experience. The more I write about Tyler and Mills, for example, the more I know when I’m on track. If characters start to act in bizarre ways that give no meaning to the story and for no good reason – if their behaviour ceases to support the theme of the book – then I know I’m getting off-track and need to pull things back. For me this would be one of the dangers of just writing a book completely from scratch, without first getting to know my characters a little bit, and where they come from and where they are heading.

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have? Have you written any other books that are not published?

Mark_Fowler_SilverI have at least half a dozen completed, unpublished novels and quite a number of partially completed books too. In some cases I am simply still not satisfied with the books, and need to return to them afresh to bring them to publication. Others may never see the light of day for one reason or another. In some cases I may have set off writing them too early, without thinking about the characters, the locations and/or the basic plot sufficiently, and then getting into more of a mess than I know how to get out of. It’s all experience though, and I have learned a lot from writing some books that I know may never be read. But these days I would rather set off on my writing adventures with the knowledge that I have enough to get me through to a satisfactory ending. As a writer you never stop learning.

How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

Publishing my books has made me think differently about the whole writing process. I am more aware these days of writing for a readership, an audience. It has made me more disciplined in my approach, asking more questions at an earlier stage in the development of an idea, and a lot less self-indulgent. When I began writing short stories, a long time ago, I used to just let my imagination soar. These days I only allow that once I have a solid base beneath. I do the groundwork first and then allow the imagination of my characters to soar. And on good days they always seem to do just that. Bless them.

Thanks again, Mark, for sharing more about your writing with us. I loved reading Blue Murder and can thoroughly recommend it to anybody looking for a good crime story to read during the holidays!

For those of you who’d like to know more about Mark L. Fowler, you can follow him via:

UK Amazon Author Page

US Amazon Author Page

Twitter

Facebook

Instagram


What to Watch? Incredibles 2

Excuses for posting this a day late. I’ve been working my ass off to get my second newsletter out (in online magazine form). It takes a lot of time to do the editing, but I love it. You can sign up for it on my home page, if you like :).

Last weekend we watched Incredibles 2. For those adults who say ‘I don’t watch animated movies,’ let me tell you that Incredibles 2 is the  ninth highest-grossing film of all-time domestically and the highest grossing animated film domestically. That’s got to say something, doesn’t it?

Incredibles 2

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Cast

Obviously, this movie only has voice-overs. The most known ones are done by Holly Hunter (Elastigirl), Samuel L. Jackson (Frozone)(surprisingly, he actually never says ‘motherfucker’ in this movie 😀 ), and Usher (as Lucius’ best valet). You can check out the full list of the cast on Wikipedia.

Plot

The new movie starts where the first movie stopped; chasing The Underminer. He escapes, but as the superhero family tries to stop his mining machine, there is a lot of damage done to the city. As a result, the relocation program is shut down and all superheroes find themselves not only illegal (they can’t use their superpowers) but also homeless.

Not to worry, a superhero fan called Winston Deavor, owner of DevTech, and his sister Evelyn, creator of the communications technology of DevTech, come to the rescue. They propose a publicity stunt to show the world that superheroes do good things. They choose Elastigirl to head the stunt to defeat Screenslaver, a supervillain who hypnotizes people through TV screens.

Bob is slightly disappointed that they have chosen his wife Helen as the superhero to battle Screenslaver, but he agrees to look after the kids, Violet, Dash, and Jack-Jack. While Helen is away, Jack-Jack finally starts to show his superpowers.

What I liked about Incredibles 2

This movie is as entertaining as the first movie. Obviously, there is a bigger theme underlining the concept of good vs. evil. The interactions between the family members are so funny as they portray common teenager issues as well as seeing Bob’s resentment against having his wife doing all the hero stuff while he has to deal with the kids at home. It’s probably slightly over the top, but shows oh-so-well the problems most mothers have to deal with on a daily basis. Except for the superpower part, of course!

What I didn’t like about Incredibles 2

Honestly, I don’t think I can mention anything here. It was clear who was the supervillain early on, but it didn’t take away from the entertainment at all.

Summary

This movie is a great one to watch, by young and old. It contains lots of humor, surprises, and most of all recognizable situations. Go and see it with the whole family!

 

 

BookFunnel Giveaway!

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Searching for a thrilling selection of new reads? Why not pick one of the Amazing twenty-four FREE novels from this Paranormal Reads Giveaway (including Living Like A Vampire!)?

Click here to take your pick!

This giveaway ends August 3.

Living Like A Vampire
Living Like A Vampire; Book 1 in the paranormal Suckers Trilogy full of romance and suspense, by Jacky Dahlhaus