Friday, July 3, 2015

Exciting book and movie news

book signing event
Signing session after a screening of Un homme bien (A Good Man)

Lots of exciting things happening, guys. LOTS of exciting things. 


NEXT TO HER 

In half an hour, I'll be off to yet another film production meeting. If everything goes well, my short film script Next to Her (which you can read here) will be filmed this August. It'll be part of an anthology, but will also be available separately. Thrilling, right? Of course, Avalon will have a BIG appearance in the film. 


AVALON 

Talking about Avalon... His book is my most popular and best-received one to date. It has been listed as one of Amazon's best-selling cat books almost constantly since it came out. Of course, with Avalon as the main character, I didn't expect anything else. Lots of blogs have been talking about Avalon lately. Too many to mention them all, so here are a few favorites: 


A GOOD MAN 

Un homme bien (the French film adaptation of my vampire story A Good Man) continues to thrive at festivals. Recently, the film was screened at the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival in India, the Flanders Week in Gdańsk (Poland), the Independent Days 15 Filmfest in Karlsruhe, Germany, and the Shamiana shortfilm happening in India.


DROWNED SORROW 

Horror author Stuart R. West interviewed me about my supernatural thriller Drowned Sorrow. It was one of the best interviews I've done in a long time. Read the interview here.

Also, this is the last day to enter for a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card, a signed copy of Avalon, a cat collar, and a selection of cat toys. Enter now before it is too late.


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Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Visiting the Eau d'heure lakes

romantic lake europe

This past weekend, I visited the Eau d'heure lakes in Belgium as part of a press trip. Though the lakes are situated in my own country, I had never heard of them prior to this trip. 

Yet, with its five lakes and 600 hectares of national park, it's one of Belgium's most beautiful places of interest. 

The reason the Eau d'heure lakes are not well known, is that the area has only just recently seen a steep rise in tourist attractions. Hotels, seminar rooms, holiday villages, and recreational activities pop up at a rapid pace thanks to the support of the local and European authorities. 

During the press trip, I had to opportunity to try out some activities at L'eau d'heure. Here's an overview: 


hiking trails belgium

Recreational activities at the Eau d'heure lakes 

Aqua Golf 

The Plate Taille lake is the only place in Europe where you can play Aqua Golf. Contrary to a normal game of golf, the player has to get the balls onto floating islands. Great fun. 


aqua golf
aqua golf

Crocodile Rouge 

Crocodile Rouge prides itself on being a bus that can drive on land as well as on water. Only nine of these vehicles exist. The Crocodile Rouge took me on a trip on the Plate Taille lake, but I'd say it's more for kids than for adults. 

You can find more pictures of and info about Crocodile Rouge here.


plate taille lake belgium
lakes in belgium

Natura Parc 

If you're adventurous, you may want to do a climbing trail at Natura Parc. There are different tracks and levels, but the 'erolienne' trail in particular is a must as the giant rope slides will take you over the Plate Taille lake for a magnificent view. 

During the summer, Natura Parc organizes a night-time climbing experience, coupled with a BBQ. How awesome is that! 

You can find more information about the Natura Parc here


natura parc eau d'heure
natura parc eau d'heure
henegouwen toerisme
belgium fun activities for tourists

Hiking and biking 

The majority of the tourists go to the lakes to hike and bike. I explored the banks of the Plate Taille lake by foot and soaked up Belgian nature at its best. 


eau d'heure lakes belgium
belgium hiking trail eau d'heure
boats on a lake
woods belgium
best of belgium

Barrage de la Plate Taille 

Belgium biggest dam, the Barrage de la Plate Taille, is the only one whose interiors can be visited. I discovered its underground corridors, its turbine pumps, and enjoyed a 360° panoramic view from 107 meters high. A guide taught me about the history of the lakes and the dam's past and current uses. 


barrage de plate taille
dam eau d'heure
dam corridors
belgium viewpoints
lacs de l'eau d'heure
biggest dam belgium

Aqua Centre 

No holiday is complete without a visit to a swimming pool, right? The Aqua Centre of the Eau d'Heure Lakes has recently been renovated and has a slide and spray park for the kids and a wellness centre for the adults. 


aqua centre eau d'heure

Kayak 

Ever since my childhood trips to the Ardennes, I have loved kayaking. The Eau d'heure lakes lend themselves perfectly to unwind once more on the water and to revel in the beauty of the surrounding shores. 


kayak belgium
kayak eau d'heure
best lakes in europe
belgium beach

Where did I sleep? 

I spent the night at Golden Lakes Village, a holiday resort with newly constructed holiday homes surrounded by water and greenery. 

The holiday homes of Golden Lakes Village belong to private investors. They have the opportunity to purchase completely furnished houses without paying VAT. Golden Lakes then rents out the homes for them. A great idea, don't you think? 

What I loved most about the Golden Lakes Village homes? Their comfort and large balconies that lend themselves perfectly for apéritifs and breakfasts in the sunshine. 

You can find more information about the Golden Lakes Village here.


l'eau d'heure
golden lakes village
weekendje weg henegouwen

Where did I eat? 

Croco BBQ 

Croco BBQ offers basic food such as toasted sandwiches and all-you-can-eat BBQ. Its terrace overlooks the lake and the dam. 


BBQ l'eau d'heure
croco BBQ

Tri Marrants 

Tri Marrants is the place to be for quality food. Meat lovers will love the giant portions, but the cook also does his utmost to please vegetarians like myself. And how to resist dinner with such a beautiful sunset view over the lake?


tri marrants
belgium best views

Aqua Centre 

The Aqua Centre's restaurant is an easy option for pizza and other comfort food. 

Disclaimer 

My trip to the Eau d'heure lakes was sponsored by www.lacsdeleaudheure.be (general information), www.goldenlakesvillage.be (purchase of holiday homes), and www.ardennes-vakantievillas.be (rental of holiday homes). 


What do you think of the Eau d'heure lakes? Any activities that pique your interest?


Thursday, June 11, 2015

Guest post: Welcome to the Zombie Rapture by Stuart R. West

zombie rapture

Recently, Vanessa invited me to chat about my new book, Zombie Rapture, on her blog. (Don’t worry, despite the title it’s not a “zombie erotica” book, although I’m sure someone’s written one. Ugh.) Honestly, before I wrote the book, I thought the whole zombie craze had pretty much been played out. Yet I wanted to try my hand at a zombie tale anyway as I love the original Dawn of the Dead film and The Walking Dead TV series.

But how to come up with something original? 

At first, the idea of “zombie babies” excited me. My excitement didn’t last long, though. I realized all you had to do to escape them is step over them. Gah! So much for suspense. So dumb, so wrong-headed. 

Zombie animals? Nope, been done numerous times. 

Then I had a dream about miniature zombies, the size of toy soldiers. In my dream, a big corporation created small bombs (“bombies”) to destroy the little things. A mass marketing/advertising blitz ensued (I ate lotsa’ cheese and hot sauce that night.) During the dream (as is always the case with me), I thought, “what a cool idea for a book!” Then the cold light of day slapped me in the face and I realized how stupid the whole thing was. 

I considered zombie hillbillies. Nah, I thought…too redundant. (Ouch!) Back to the drawing board. 

There’s zombie politicians. But I’m sure it’s been done (and if not, why?). Besides, I’m not a journalist. 

Then (and I can’t really say when or where it occurred), a very vivid image struck me. A lil’ ol’ lady approaching with hedge clippers, smiling sweetly, but with murder on her mind. Brrr…but how to make this work as a book? And more importantly, why? 

At the same time, I wondered, “When is a zombie not a zombie?” When they’re sentient, of course! Combine that with the “hate churches” that are running rampant through my Midwest stomping grounds and I had my book. The zombies in Zombie Rapture are sentient; dead yet fully aware. They don’t eat flesh. Yet they want to kill the few remaining living beings. Why? To “save them.” The undead believe they’ve been favored by God, enjoying the Rapture come to earth. And it’s their duty to save the living by killing them, resurrecting them into eternal happiness. 

Strange concept, even wilder ride (I hope). Zombie Rapture is a black comedy, a character-oriented suspense thriller driven by a romantic quest. My hero, Hunter (a teen ready to graduate high school and leave behind his Midwestern roots), has fallen in love with Jordan, the perfect girl for him. But the world has changed and Jordan’s missing. Hunter connects with Scout (Jordan’s wild tom-boyish little sister) and his grandpa (ornerier than a six inch sliver) to travel across the Midwest to find Jordan while trying to stay alive, narrowly avoiding both the undead and the opportunistic living minority. 

What starts out as a free-wheeling comedic adventure soon turns dark as the stakes keep rising. Time is running out to save Jordan from the evil, undead Reverend Osgoode and his legion. 

Hey! It’s my first book that has all five-star ratings, my personal best! I’m sure it won’t stay that way forever, so get it while it’s still “good!” 

Zombie Rapture can be purchased here: Clicky for thrills, chills and zombie spills


Zombie Rapture giveaway

Fill in the Rafflecopter below to win an ebook of Zombie Rapture by Stuart R. West (format of your choice). The giveaway is open worldwide. Good luck!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

It's Avalon release day!

cat book

It's Avalon release day!

And we're going to celebrate that...

But, first, let me tell you that I almost didn't release Avalon: a Heartwarming True Cat Story.

You see, this book is hyper personal. There are things in here that I never told anyone before, because I was too ashamed. Because of this book, my family hasn't spoken to me in several months...

Part of me wants you to ignore this book...

On the other hand, I DO want you to read it, because I wrote it to honor the cat I loved more than anything else in this world. This true story is my way to eternalize Avalon, and to bring to light his hilarious shenanigans and amazing talents as a movie star.

I know for a fact that Avalon: a Heartwarming True Cat Story will not leave you cold. Either you'll think I'm nuts, or you'll be touched and cry your eyes out.


Excerpt

Around three o’clock that night, Avalon was fed up with the strange man in his bed. He plonked his rear down on Gilles’ pillow, complaining fretfully in his ear while tapping him on the face. 

After nearly an hour of incessant wailing and poking, more drastic measures were required. The new solution: pushing Gilles out of bed. 

Avalon succeeded. 

Climbing back under the covers wasn’t an option. Unable to sleep, Gilles got up. "I guess I didn't pass the test." 

"Give Avalon some time. Maybe he was just irked because you took his side of the bed." 

But Gilles had already understood that this wasn't going to be a one-time event. 

For several minutes, Gilles and Avalon sized each other up. Then Gilles said, "I’d better leave the two of you alone now. It’s clearly what the little guy wants." 

I swear I could see Avalon smirking when Gilles put on his jacket and left. 

Instantly, Avalon leapt onto me, and compensated for the evening before. He entered a kiss-induced trance. This cat was all about exclusivity, and when granted that exclusivity, his love was immense. 

"Are you really that happy that Gilles is gone?" 

In reply, Avalon looked at me with swoony eyes and purred loudly, then swatted out his paw to urge me to continue to pet him, which I did. 

A phone call interrupted our tender moment. It was Gilles. "There won't be any train to Brussels for hours," he said. "Is it okay if I come back to your place for a while?" 

"Of course." His return would offend Avalon, but I couldn’t possibly leave Gilles outside in the rain for several hours. 

As soon as Gilles appeared at the front door, Avalon’s pupils widened to a pitch black. Let's see who's the boss here, he seemed to be thinking. 

Being a cat of action, Avalon went through his usual attention-seeking routine: making a selection of irritating noises, scratching the wallpaper, and pushing objects to the ground. When that didn't work, Avalon opened Gilles' overnight bag and threw out a piece of clothing. His eyes so dark and evil they could be gateways to hell, Avalon stared at his adversary and waited for a reaction. He then pulled out a box of gel wax. Again, he looked up at Gilles to make sure he understood that all this bungling was meant to get a message across. A third object followed, then a fourth, a fifth, a sixth, until there was nothing. 

Hell-bent on winning the game, Avalon took Gilles' coat in his mouth and towed it toward the front door. There, he used his right paw to tap the keys hanging from the wooden doorframe. 

Avalon’s message couldn’t be any clearer: there was room for only one man in my life. A feline one.  


You can find Avalon: a Heartwarming True Cat Story on: 


Win a $25 Amazon gift card, a signed book of Avalon, a cat collar, and a pack of cat toys! 

Avalon's book tour giveaway is open to readers worldwide. To enter, just fill in the Rafflecopter below.

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Friday, May 29, 2015

Giveaways of great summer reads that thrill and chill


summer reads blog hop

Is your favorite vacation spot a sunny beach, a bright city, or a secluded cabin? A romantic getaway or maybe a place you loved as a child? We want to see it and know why it's your favorite!

To join in this fun Summer Hop:

1) Sign up on the Linky list below. 

2) Put up a post "My Favorite Vacation Spot" and tell everyone about it! 

3) Link to the 6 Blog Hop Co-hosts: 

* Lexa Cain: http://lexacain.blogspot.com/ 
* Melanie Karsak: http://www.melaniekarsak.com/ 
* T.F. Walsh: http://www.tfwalsh.com/blog/ 
* Vanessa Morgan: http://vanessa-morgan.blogspot.com/ 
* Jolie Du Pre: http://www.preciousmonsters.com/ 
* Stuart R. West: http://stuartrwest.blogspot.com/ 

4) Visit the other blogs and see where their favorite getaways are! 

My favorite vacation spot

Molyvos, on the Greek island Lesbos, is my favorite place to go on holiday. The colorful houses of this seaside town are built on the slopes of a hill. Below is the fragrant Aegean Sea and the port with many seafood restaurants. On top of the hill is a Byzantine castle.

My ex-boyfriend introduced me to the island and he warned me that once I got there, I would always want to go back.

Oh, and did I mention that Molyvos is beaming with cats. Of course, I photographed them all for Traveling Cats.

molyvos nighttime
molyvos flowers
molyvos street
molyvos alley

Special Giveaways - Great summer Reads that Thrill & Chill! 

This is what we're giving away this weekend! 

Midway: The Harvesting Series Book 1.5 by bestselling author Melanie Karsak 

~ Step right up, ladies and gentlemen, for the beginning of the end. Join Cricket in this unique zombie apocalypse series. It's all fun and games until someone ends up undead!

midway melanie karsak

Cloaked in Fur by T.F. Walsh 

~ Cloaked in Fur sees rebellious Daciana cast into a life-threatening adventure against her will to uncover who is killing her friends before the predator sets its sights on her.

cloaked in fur

Drowned Sorrow by Vanessa Morgan 

~ If Jaws kept you away from the ocean, Drowned Sorrow will keep you away from any water. Discover this chilling story of a remote village where water has become a supernatural element that can think, move, and kill.

drowned sorrow

Benton (Vol. 1) by Jolie Du Pre 

~ There's no place to go, no way to escape the zombies until Jennifer meets a young man who says he can lead her to safety at his family's ranch. The catch is that Jennifer has to trust him with her life - and maybe even her heart.

zombie novel

Zombie Rapture by Stuart R. West 

 ~ Someone failed to tell the dead they're not in Heaven. Hunter intends to right that wrong.

zombie rapture

Soul Cutter by Lexa Cain

~ A teenage skeptic goes to Egypt and discovers the supernatural she scorns is all too real. The legendary Soul Cutter is hunting again.

soul cutter lexa cain


Giveaway

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Linky sign-up

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

What I saw in Cannes this year

Favorites

sicario benicio del toro

Sicario 

Since Enemy, Denis Villeneuve is my new favorite director. In Sicario, he tackles the Mexican cartels with realism, intensity, and emotional depth. The result is a hard action thriller that leaves you feeling bewildered and vulnerable. 

love gaspar noe

Love 

Everyone in Cannes hated Gaspar Noé's latest. I can see why: Love is repetitive and too long. Some of the dialogue is badly written. And the film contains too many lousy self-referencing jokes and unnecessary 3D sex scenes. Yet no one talks about the beautiful love story and the smart insights about love and relationships in general. Despite its misses, Love is a fascinating viewing experience that sticks long after it's over. 

one and two

One and Two 

Imagine a mix between X-men and The Village, told in a realistic and sober way. That's One and Two. The story may be too slow-moving for some, but its beauty and refinement is undeniable. 

carol cate blanchett

Carol 

Based on Patricia Highsmith's novel The Price of Salt, Carol is the beautifully-lensed portrayal of two women in the mid-twentieth century who fall in love with each other while dealing with the societal problems that ensue. Carol could have had some of the best and most ravaging endings in recent years (think: Brief Encounter), but, sadly, closes on a positive and thus more ordinary note. Definitely check out Carter Burwell's amazing soundtrack. 

my golden years

My Golden Years (Trois souvenirs de ma jeuneusse) 

A delicate French coming-of-age story with charming young talent. I just regret Mathieu Almaric's poor performance and the look-into-the-camera scenes. 

howl

Howl 

This British werewolf movie takes place almost entirely on a train. Admittedly, the story is predictable and the werewolves look goofy in close-up, but Howl is a notch up compared to many other genre movies. It's huge fun. And, in the dark, the werewolves – looking like demons with their glowing eyes and uncanny movements – are downright creepy. 

green room jeremy saulnier

Green Room 

After witnessing a crime, the members of a band find themselves trapped in a secluded venue. An unpretentious, straightforward, and suspenseful take on the survival genre from the hand of Jeremy Saulnier (Blue Ruin). Saulnier's distinctive style is what really makes this movie stand out. 


Just good

10 days in a madhouse

10 Days in a Madhouse 

Based on Nellie Bly's book by the same name, 10 Days in a Madhouse is the true story of a journalist who feigns mental illness to go undercover in an insane asylum to expose abuse. I saw an unfinished version of 10 Days in a Madhouse, so it's difficult to say how much of the movie will improve in the future. Still, despite this being rough around the edges, the story kept me interested all the way through. 

cherry tree movie

Cherry Tree 

David Keating tackles exactly the same theme as in Wake Wood (the unwillingness to accept the death of those we love), but, this time, he goes on the fun midnight movie route (albeit unintentionally). Cherry Tree is lovable teenage witch horror that's a little silly at times, but that mainly surprises by being darker and gorier than what we're used to. And I absolutely loved the centipedes crawling all over the place. 

the pack

The Pack 

A pack of feral dogs infiltrate an isolated farmhouse to attack a family. All the genre cliches are present, but overall The Pack was a fun, polished watch. In case you're wondering, this is NOT a remake of the 1977 movie by the same name. In fact, it's much more reminiscent of Burning Bright (2010, Carlos Brooks) in which a family is trapped inside a house with a ravenous tiger. 

last shift

Last Shift 

Last Shift is repetitive and contrived, but the ghostly apparitions and scare scenes are pretty efficient. Some people even left the screening because it was too scary. 

martyrs remake

Martyrs 

It will probably offend many of you that I preferred the remake of Martyrs over the original one. The over-the-top violence and bloody mess of the French film made it hard to concentrate on the story. In the remake, however, the balance is just right. Just a pity they changed the ending. 

rams

Rams (Hrútar) 

When some sheep in an Icelandic farming valley show signs of BSE, the veterinary authorities decree that all sheep must be destroyed. Two brothers that haven't spoken to each other for a long time, reunite to save the sheep. Rams is not funny nor touching enough to either be a comedy or a drama, but it offers several cute scenes and an interesting view on rural life in Iceland. 


Disappointing

violent shit

Violent Shit: the Movie 

This is a follow-up to Andreas Schnaas' Violent Shit trilogy (of which the third installment – Infantry of Doom – was unsettling). This time, it's not Schnaas, but Italian director, Luigi Pastore, that gives life to Karl the Butcher. The result is a reinvention of amateurism. Violent Shit does everything wrong. You can't do worse than this one. I'd almost recommend Violent Shit: the Movie as a curiosity and to stretch your boundaries of bad taste. 

Update: Luigi Pastore, the director of Violent Shit: the Movie, contacted me to point out that the film I saw is not the final version. He was very much opposed to present the film at Cannes, but his distributor was keen to give it a try.

medusa movie

Medusa 

This story about a mythology professor who finds a mirror that can summon Medusa is another example of amateurism. However, the presence of the cat made it all bearable. 

roar tigers of the sundarbans

Roar: Tigers of the Sundarbans 

If you steal a white baby tiger, all the animals of the forest will turn against you. That's the idea of this Hindi adventure film. It's impossible not to compare Roar: Tigers of the Sundarbans with the cheesiness of The Asylum, but the attack scenes are fun and the animals stunning. 

unnatural

Unnatural 

An animal attack movie with polar bears is quite original, but that's about the only thing that Unnatural has to offer. It looks horribly cheap and the bear is hardly visible. It does have some name actors, though. 

ryuzo and the seven henchmen

Ryuzo and the Seven Henchmen 

What happened to the once talented Takeshi Kitano? Ryuzo and the Seven Henchmen is nothing more than a portrait of farting yakuzas. 

grief of others

The Grief of Others 

Based on the novel by Leah Hager Cohen, The Grief of Others proves that by trying to be too realistic you become fake. I left after an hour. Maybe the film gets better after that.

***