October Horror Story & Movie Roundup

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Traditionally speaking, Halloween has long been celebrated as a time when the veil between the realm of the living and the realm of the dead is at its thinnest. In some cultures, it’s a time to celebrate those who’ve moved on, and in other cultures, it’s a time to be worried that spirits might be coming back to haunt you… Hence the need for masks.

What most people know of Halloween now is dressing up and eating and drinking a bunch of sugary, ridiculous foods and dancing to the Monster Mash. But there’s something so wonderfully delightful in being able to experience frights at this time of year; like you can feel the ghosts watching from over your shoulder.

And if you aren’t interested in going out to get frightened, then maybe staying in and watching some scary movies and reading some spine-tingling stories might just be the ticket you need to get into an appropriate mindset for the ghouls and monsters that come out to play around All Hallow’s Eve.

That crisp bite in the air is wonderful; I’m sure the ghosts will agree that the breeze is just perfect for floating as well.

Here are 15 movies and books that are perfect for getting you into the spirit for frights this Halloween–or all of October!

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1.
Practical Magic
There’s something to be said about a movie that incorporates magic, romance, and horror to make a truly wonderful story!
This is one of my personal favorites to watch in October if I’m looking for something a bit chilling and also a bit sweet. Added bonus? You can watch this while drinking Midnight Margaritas if you want, too!
You can also read the book the movie was adapted from!

 

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2. Hush:
A Short Ghost Story by Merethe Walther
Since I wrote this one, I’m a bit fond of it; plus you can get it for .99¢!
During Victorian times, it wasn’t uncommon to send your children out to a “baby farmer,” who would care for them with only a small weekly stipend while you slaved away in a pre-union era job.
But Nick and Amelia, siblings sent away to live with one of these “caregivers,” soon find that their matron might not be the only one who’s watching over them… and they’d better hope not to break any of her rules because the consequences could be rather dire.

 

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3. Sleepy Hollow (or any other Tim Burton movie)
I picked this movie in particular because it feels more “Halloween” to me than many others, probably because of the murder-y aspect, but I still love some Tim Burton around this time of year. (I’m firmly in the camp of The Nightmare Before Christmas being a Christmas movie, but that said, it’s still acceptable to watch on Halloween, too!)
There’s something so beautiful about the drab town of Sleepy Hollow that I never considered the Headless Horseman much of a deterrent to wanting to live there. I don’t know. Maybe it was the mist, the lack of sunlight, the grainy filter. The Johnny Depp. As someone with a sun allergy, it was like a dream come true.
Murder, magic, mystery, legendary tales of curses, and pools and pools of blood and frankly ridiculous amounts of arterial spray. What isn’t to love?

 

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4. The Bird Box by Josh Malerman
I read this book a couple months ago and was completely captivated. It’s the story of a woman struggling to raise her two children, Boy and Girl, alone (like, alone alone, not just as a single mother) in a world that’s been decimated by monsters that no one can look at without going completely mad. No one knows what they are, where they came from, or even what they look like. No one who’s seen one is still alive.
Most times fear makes you want to close your eyes, but there is literally nothing comforting about not seeing these beasties.
Brimming with moments that will make your skin crawl and tension where you can feel the claustrophobic crush of wading through a monster-riddled world with only a blindfold to protect you, it’s one that will definitely keep you up at night!

 

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5. Casper
This is another of the movies that I love to watch for the nostalgia. You can laugh at the bad guys while also still being terrified of the consequences of whatever hijinks are happening on screen.
Casper is a beautiful tale that will make you laugh, cry, and even clutch a pillow tight. Plus the soundtrack is so vivid and haunting, I still listen to it even when I’m not watching the film!

 

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6. Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
“For those who still dream and remember, for those yet to experience the hypnotic power of its dark poetry, step inside. The show is about to begin.”
I read this when I was a kid, and I was obsessed with how hauntingly good it was. I loved many of Bradbury’s books, but this one is a treat to read in the Halloween season or any time you’re looking for a bit of a fright!

 

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7. The Addams Family
(I’m beginning to realize that Christina Ricci is basically in every one of my favorite childhood spooky movies, so she’s going to be on this list a lot.) That said, Halloween isn’t complete until you get a chance to sit down and watch The Addams Family being wonderfully weird and bizarre.
Plus, Gomez and Morticia are like, the best example of #relationshipgoals I can think of.

 

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8. Terrifying Tales by Edgar Allan Poe
Since this man practically invented the horror genre, it’s easy to say that he knows a thing or two about the creatures that go bump in the night. Whatever you’re reading by him, you know you’re in for a delightfully wicked time that will leave you will a quiet, unsettled feeling that you just can’t shake.
Any of his short stories will get your brain–and your heart–moving fast!

 

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9. The Conjuring
This movie has the distinction in my book, at least, of having legitimately terrified me when I saw it the first time, which doesn’t frequently happen with horror films for me. Dark, creepy, weirdly religious overtones that are based (very loosely) on a true story set the stage for a film that will literally have you hiding behind a pillow to finish watching it.
For some people, supernatural thrillers aren’t really their bag, but this movie definitely did it for me! A great way to scare yourself into some Halloween spirit!

 
10. The Specialist’s Hat by Kelly Link
Although this is a short story, it’s absolutely one of my favorite stories of all time. I can’t describe it. The atmosphere, the ambiguity, and the bizarre characters are just beautifully well-written.
It’s Halloween tradition in my house to read this haunting story once a year, and I think after you read it, it might become yours as well!

 

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11. Hocus Pocus
You know why you need to watch this movie. It’s a quintessential Halloween film about three kick-ass witches. Need I say more? Go watch it!

 

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12. House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski
This book has been on my list forever because my friend swears it’s so terrifying and good, and since I’ve just bought it and plan to read it this month, I figured I’d share it with everyone else, too!
This book is practically legend. It only existed in obscure forums on the internet for a while, but apart from a truly weird and scary story is also the way it’s presented, which is more art than just novel.
If you’re afraid of an ever-growing abyss behind a closet door and a book so genuinely creepy that you’ll have nightmares (according to the reviews!) then this is definitely up your alley.

 

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13. The Haunting of Hill House
As of October 12, Netflix is going to be releasing this series based on the original The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson.
As a story that I recall truly unnerved and unsettled me as a teen, I am so excited to get to watch this new show!
You can also read the book the show was adapted from!

 

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14. Penpal by Dathan Auerbach
This novel is unique in that it originally began as a series of “CreepyPasta” stories on the internet and then was collected, edited, and polished into a truly terrifying piece of horror writing.
It starts off simple enough–with a boy writing a letter to his penal, but the twists and turns these stories take will leave you biting your nails to the last page!

 

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15. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Stephen Gammell
If you try and say that these books didn’t genuinely terrify you as a child, then you’re either lying or you’ve been living under a rock your entire life. (Probably because these books scared you so bad.)
I would read these before bed and badly regret it, be forced to sleep with the light on, and still worry that there was a monster out to get me. Or listen to the audio cassettes in a dark room and be too scared to turn off the tape before it reached the end of the reel.
Some of these might be more funny than scary, but even as an adult, you’re sure to find these pretty disturbing.
This is a set of stories that you’ll remember for a long time; if not for the tales, then certainly for the disturbing artwork that came along with them, which was like, ten times more frightening than the stories on occasion.

Do you have any great stories or movies you love to enjoy around Halloween? Share them in the comments!

 

 

A little late to the party, but…

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*Waves happily to all of the other writers and readers on Wattpad Island as her boat scoots into dock*

So in case you’re wondering what that means, it’s pretty simple. I finally joined Wattpad!

I know it’s been around a while, but I’m an elder millennial, so I’m at that weird stage where I can look down my nose at older people about their lack of computer savoir faire while still having to google all the newfangled things these kids are doing nowadays on the interwebs so I feel less obsolete.

In case you’re unaware of what Wattpad is, it well… *hastily opens Wiki, scrolls, and minimizes page* is a place where you can read a bunch of cool new content from writers all over the world. For completely free!

If you’re already a member of Wattpad, then please feel free to follow me so I can follow you back and check out some of your work, too. You can also read the first two chapters of my YA sci-fi novel, Star Struck, that I’m updating weekly. I’ll be posting more content on there as well, so if light sci-fi isn’t your thang, that’s cool; just stick around.

Start reading Star Struck here.

You Probably Have An Unfair Bias Against Indie/Self-Published Authors (For No Actual Reason)

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“Indie authors… there’s a reason none of them have been traditionally published. Most of them need to…leave the writing to the writers who are actually good at it.” — Actual quote from a book group I’m in.

When it comes to writing, criticism is easy to come by but difficult to receive. And given that writers are a notoriously delicate, brooding bunch, it’s not hard to understand why sorting through the criticism chaff to get to the good advice wheat is one of the hardest things to do as an author.

You’ve created this book baby. You birthed it from your own head, fed it all of your fears and hopes and dreams, watched it grow, helped it overcome obstacles and form into a coherent being… and then handed it over to a group of people with eager red pens and asked them to tell you all of the ugly, bad things that are wrong with it.

It’s one of the hardest things you’ll ever do. It never gets easier, no matter how many times you go through it.

And if that weren’t enough, you have to keep going through this process, day in, day out, for the rest of your life, facing criticism, backlash, and yes, bad reviews. And some of these reviews might be nothing more than a misunderstanding or someone who is the polar opposite of your target audience buying the book and making your day suck, but some might have valid points. And those are the ones that will really keep you up at night, wondering if you’re a crap writer after all.

In the writing world, some people are so incredibly eager to cut down someone else’s book, it’s astonishing. And many of these unhelpful remarks get unfairly pointed toward indie and self-published authors by people who have never written a book themselves (or take their job as an indie book reviewer a touch too seriously). It’s completely, totally, unabashedly unfair.

And it’s also an accusation that’s fully baseless.

Just because a book has been published by an indie or self-published author does not automatically make it crap.

It doesn’t mean that the book couldn’t stand the test of going through a traditional publisher. It doesn’t mean that it’s not any good and shouldn’t ever be read. And it’s not even just readers that have this unfair bias against indie/self-publishers. It’s also other writers who look down their noses at self-publishers with scorn because they haven’t “passed the trials” that other writers had to.

“But,” you might say, “there are some really, truly, 100 percent awful self-published books that the writer had no business sharing with the world.”

To be perfectly honest, I agree with you. Some of the self-published books I’ve seen and edited are so bad they could curdle milk. But does that bring down the self-publishing market for everyone? No. Does it flood the market? Sure. Does it make it more difficult for your book to be seen? Not if you’re marketing, no.

That’s like saying because some indie movies sucked, that all indie films are awful and lesser than their blockbuster compatriots and not worth watching. But this isn’t true. Amazing indie films get released all the time while the not-so-great ones continue to pour in around them. That’s just the creative process. And once upon a time, your favorite director or author might have been down among those “lesser” indie creations, trying to learn how to get better.

It’s the same thing in the book market. The only reason that you might struggle to make room with indie or self-published authors is if you’re publishing through Amazon’s Kindle Direct, which encourages everyone to make their books as cheap as possible… But that’s another discussion entirely.

The truth is that traditional publishing doesn’t rest entirely on the merits of your work. Maybe you really struggled to get the words out in your query letter and the reader trashed it immediately. The agent or reader might just have a migraine and not really focus on your work that day. They could read literally the first line and hate the way you’ve introduced your character without reading further than thirty words into your entire 80,000-word manuscript.

This is 100 percent a real issue. I have talked to agents and publishers I’ve met at conventions about this. Yes, it really happens. There is literally nothing more inspirational than remembering that Harry Potter was rejected by publishers twelve times before a kid ended up reading it and loving it. But these stories of inspiration are few and far between, and it’s usually rejection for the majority of writers trying to get their work seen for a myriad of reasons — only a small portion of which might be their actual work.

In the real publishing world, it isn’t just that you’re competing with other writers and vying for that golden pedestal position. It’s a battle against timing, opportunity, and sheer dumb luck. Sometimes you’ve got a great book but you can’t get it in front of a traditional publisher. Maybe they aren’t accepting unsolicited manuscripts. Maybe they’re not accepting new work, period. Maybe they’re full up on the genre your book is written in and don’t have plans to publish more for about a year.

An indie author’s writing and effort aren’t the only things affecting their rejection from traditional publishers. And when you want to publish your book and your traditional options are limited, it’s great to know that there are hundreds of indie publishers with great authors and support staff that can fit your needs and get that wonderful story out to the world at large.

For others, self-publishing is the best way. Sure, it costs more money up front, but it gives you complete control over your book’s content and production, marketing, and even art choices. Plus, there’s no one to split royalties with!

So next time you hear someone suggest that indie and self-published authors are all failed writers who couldn’t cut it, remind them that they didn’t stop watching movies even though they’d seen a few bad ones. We all saw The Phantom Menace, and yet somehow Star Wars is still hugely popular.

Don’t judge non-traditional writers on the failures of others in their same field. Give them a chance. Who knows? You might just find a new favorite author you never knew existed before.

18 Books That Will Give You an Accidental All-Nighter

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Books Rock My World

Every bookworm knows the feeling. “I’m just going to relax a little and read my book before bed” turns into “Why is it light outside? What time is it? WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?”

There are a few qualities that combine into a magical mix that keeps us stuck to the page. Great characters, embroiled deeply in plenty of complications and stuck behind insurmountable obstacles. Wonderful prose, although if the premise is good enough just “good” writing is plenty good enough to keep us hooked.

Here is an assortment of books from many genres that combine all of these qualities into something that readers just couldn’t put down. Anyone of them might give you an accidental all-night reading session. You have been warned.

*Book descriptions come from Goodreads*

1. The Illuminae Series by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

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This series is completely unique! The format is brilliant (yes, the story is told…

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Are You an Introverted or Extroverted Reader?

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Books Rock My World

Do only introverts love reading? Spending hours, alone, with a book, does seem to be the perfect activity for someone who is satisfied spending a day with me, myself, and I. The cliché is that all bookworms are introverts, and, like all stereotypes, it’s not really true.

Sure, lots of dedicated readers are introverts. But the main fact the stereotype forgets is that all readers are human, and humans come in infinite variety. There are plenty of extroverts who love the written word, and lots of ambiverts either hanging out with them or chilling on their own.

Do you have the traits of an extrovert bookworm? An introvert? Or a combination, depending on the day and the book? Read on to decide which traits are yours.

Introverts:

  • Feel recharged after a long period spent with a good book.
  • Feel the sense of being a part of the collective human experience…

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Short Stories for Sale!

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If you’re like me, you like to sit down and read as frequently as possible. But sometimes there just isn’t enough time to read a book, or you’ve only got a few minutes, whether it’s on your commute or you’re just trying to kill time on your phone in the bathroom.

(Don’t lie. We all do it.)

Enter the short story, the perfect platform for enjoying another world when you just don’t have the time to spare. Right now, you can get two of my shorts on Amazon for only .99c!

Looking for a story you can read in about 15 minutes that will make you think?

“Flashpoint”

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Donovan’s earliest memory is of the soldier who saved him as a boy.

Now a soldier himself, he’s eager to get into the fight against the rebels.

But when something strange happens during what should be a routine firefight, he finds himself questioning everything he knows to be true.

Get Flashpoint here for only .99c!

Or how about a creepy ghost story to read in the dark?

“Hush”

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For siblings Amelia and Nick, getting sent away to live in a Victorian foster home is scary, but they hold on to the hope that it will all just be temporary. They soon learn that sharing a room with six other children and working from dawn ’til dusk are the least of their problems, however.
The matron doesn’t care about them at all, as long as they’re quiet and out of sight, but the other children warn that breaking a rule—no matter how small—will have dire consequences.
Nick might believe in their ghostly tales of Mother Maggie, but Amelia knows that it’s all just nonsense; at least that’s what she tells herself. But as the shadows in the house begin to move and grow and their situation becomes more severe, she begins to worry that maybe there’s more to the ghost stories after all. Something sinister lurking in the halls of their new home seems to watch their every step, waiting…

Get Hush here for only .99c!

If anyone else would like to link to their favorite short stories on Amazon in the comments below, please share!

Happy reading!

Why You Should Be Reading Your Writing Out Loud

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Last weekend I was at JordanCon here in Atlanta, meeting with and talking to some exceptionally skilled people in the writing and publishing world. It was an amazing treat, since I got to experience being a Con author, but also because I got to pick up little things here and there from other people more experienced than I am.

One of the things that came up in conversation with many of the aspiring writers I spoke to was the fact that none of them had ever read their work out loud or had anyone read it for them.

To elaborate, I’d like to state that I (frequently) annoy my husband into letting me read something I’ve written to him. I’ll do this even if I know he won’t really be listening because it’s while he’s reading the news or playing a video game or even falling asleep.

The benefit I get isn’t just for him to listen to the story and give me feedback, though that does help. The benefit is learning where the flaws are in my own writing by hearing them as I read. This one trick has changed many a story I’ve written.

So it struck me as odd that many people don’t read their work aloud. The benefits to your writing are so tremendous it’s ridiculous.

I’m an incredibly fast reader by nature. If I’m pleasure reading, I often have to force myself to slow down so I’m not missing key elements or glossing over words. Reading out loud forces me to slow down, see what I’m actually reading, and also notice errors (like forgotten words) as I go.

If you’re not reading your writing aloud, then you should be. And here are 3 reasons you need to start doing it right now:

1. Awkward lines become super obvious.

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Sometimes when you’re just reading your own writing, it sounds really eloquent in your head. You know what I’m talking about—you’re sure it’s the greatest set up ever. But reading out loud will strip that idea from you almost immediately. And trust me, that’s a good thing!

When you read out loud, you’re going to see if there are any words that you hesitate on, stumble over, or that otherwise sound weird to you. These are areas that might make other readers (who don’t know your inflection) go “Huh?” and reread it to figure out what you meant or to correct themselves. And since that takes away from their immersion in your world, that’s a BIG no-no.

2. You’ll develop a “reading voice.”

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Reading in front of people is weirdly intimidating. It’s like you’re baring a piece of your soul when you read aloud. This can make it easy to screw up, whether it’s because of a dry mouth, nervous tick, or you’re speed reading and stumbling over your words.

If you practice reading out loud, when you have to do this in the future to a crowd (either big or small!), you’re going to know the pace, be familiar with the tone, and understand how it should sound, which will help lessen screw ups.

3. It will better your writing.

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Yes, reading your work (or hearing someone else read it) is supremely beneficial. In your head, things might sound fine, but out loud, you’ll start to realize that certain words may need to have less complicated choices, or that dialogue sounds too formal, or you’re trying to create a scene and left out a hugely important part.

It will also force you to picture scenes and situations in a different way than just writing will do. You’ll start to notice immediately when things don’t “look” right in your head, and you’ll realize where you’re lacking to your readers, too.

So if you’re not convinced, just try reading your latest piece out loud to yourself, and I’m sure you’ll notice some problems right away. If you have someone you’re comfortable sharing your work with in the early stages, have them read segments to you, too, so you can see where you’ve still got work to do.

This is an incredibly important part of the storytelling process, so don’t neglect it!

 

 

 

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10 Things a Bookworm Loves

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Books Rock My World

Bookworms love to love. We particularly adore anything book related. Or anything which adds to the decadence of the reading experience. Here are 10 bookish things that excite and delight a bookworm:

1. Reading nooks

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The dream is to have our own personalized reading nook, complete with lighting, bookshelves, a comfy seating space, and various bookish memorabilia. However, for those of us who aren’t fortunate enough to have our own, we find enjoyment through Pinterest, which allows us to browse the plethora of pictures of reading nooks we hope we’ll be able to have one day.

2. Pretty covers

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I’m ashamed to say that, sometimes, we bookworms do judge a book by its cover- how can we not when some covers are just so blooming beautiful? Although it isn’t the most important aspect of a book when you’re reading something that looks so exquisite you can’t help but feel extra…

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