Monday, February 2, 2015

New story out!

next to her screenplay

You may recall the cover reveal I did a couple weeks ago for the new short film script I wrote called Next To Her. It's out now, and I'm really excited for you to check it out.  

Here are some links so you can get Next To Her if you're interested: 

Let me know what you think of the story in the comments and on Twitter using @eeriestories and/or the hashtag #NextToHer. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Reading / watching / listening to...

cozy reading

Reading:

* The Insecure Writer's Support Group Guide to Publishing and Beyond edited by Alex J. Cavanaugh is a collection of essays on writing, publishing, and marketing by more than one hundred independent authors such as L. Diane Wolfe, Chrys Fey, S.A. Larsen, Crystal Collier, and Lexa Cain. The advice itself is basic, but the book excels in explaining how insecure most writers feel, and in the encouragement to keep on writing and improving.

* Horror 101: The Way Forward edited by Joe Mynhardt is similar in concept as The Insecure Writer's Support Group Guide To Publishing And Beyond, except that the essays are by household names in the horror genre (Ramsey Campbell, Graham Masterton, Jack Ketchum, Harry Shannon, Edward Lee, etc). The essays are rarely focused on horror alone, though, and Horror 101 covers everything from character development to finding additional sources of income through screenwriting and ghostwriting. “I've seen authors lose their way, authors doubt themselves, when all they need is a push in the right direction,” the editor says in the beginning of this book. However, insecurities are hardly a topic here. Most authors of Horror 101 believe it's possible to make a living as a writer, even if you don't necessarily know what you're doing, and, even more importantly, they show us the way forward.

* How Not To Run a B&B: A Woman's True Memoir by Bobby Hutchinson. Romance author Bobby Hutchinson recounts her experiences of how she turned her Vancouver house into a B&B to supplement her writing income, and introduces us to all the weird people she met along the way. How Not To Run a B&B is a fast-paced and entertaining read; definitely recommended if you're looking for something light to pass the time. The only downside is the author's arrogance and lack of compassion towards people that are less fortunate.

* On Writing: A Memoir Of The Craft by Stephen King. On Writing has a strange structure; it reads like two different books that have accidentally been thrown together. It starts as a memoir in which Stephen King attempts to show some of the incidents and life-situations which made him into the writer he turned out to be. Then he gives some straight-forward (and obvious) writing advice, and ends the book with another autobiographical part. But I did enjoy reading this book. King just knows how to keep the reader's attention. But, most importantly, On Writing awoke in me the desire to sit down and start writing a new book, not knowing where the story and characters will lead me. That in itself is an accomplishment.

* Baking Bad: A Parody In A Cookbook by Walter Wheat. Do you know any Breaking Bad fans? Then make sure you buy them this hilarious little cook book. Baking Bad is a collection of recipes inspired by the Breaking Bad TV series. What do you think of Ricin Krispie Squares, Blue Meth Crunch, pink bear bites, a jell-o representation of Jesse's acid tub, or hot dogs resembling Saul Goodman? Don't give the book to someone who hasn't finished the series yet, though, because there are spoilers. Otherwise, let's cook.

* Poussy: l'intégrale by Peyo. Poussy (Pussycat in English) was my favorite comic strip as a kid, and a major inspiration for my Avalon cartoons. I haven't been able to find them ever since, but now they just released in a complete edition containing ALL the comics (including the ones that have only appeared in newspapers), as well as preliminary sketches and background information on Peyo's career. Poussy may be Peyo's least known comic (he's the creator of The Smurfs), but it's doubtlessly his best.


Watching:

* [REC] 4: Apocalypse. Right after her adventures in [REC] 2, Manuela Velasco's character wakes up on a ship and is soon chased by zombies. [REC] 4: Apocalypse was much better than [REC] 3, but only mediocre compared to the first two installments. Luckily, Jaume Balaguero brings enough visual flair to the project to lift it to a higher level.

* The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies. It's still as beautiful to look at as the previous films, but our hobbit is way too passive for the story's good. He's an observer, and has hardly any control over what happens. That makes us as viewers passive as well; we don't really care about who'll vanquish or not. Still, having seen all the previous Ring and Hobbit movies in the cinema around Christmas time, The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies gave me a feel-good vibe out of nostalgia.

* Home Alone 2: Lost In New York. Kevin finds himself accidentally lost in New York City, just when the same criminals from Home Alone 1 are visiting as well. The first two Home Alone movies were among my grandfather's favorites, so I couldn't help but watch this one again with my grandmother on Christmas Eve. It's pretty funny, though. Almost as good as the first one.

* The Interview. The host of a celebrity TV show lands an interview with an unexpected fan - North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un - and the CIA wants to turn their trip into an assassination mission. I started watching The Interview half-heartedly to see what the buzz was about (Kim Jong-un prohibited the screening of the movie because he was made fun of), but I didn't expect too much of it as most people thought it was silly and too easy. However, I was sold after a few minutes. Actually, this was one of the most hilarious films I've seen in a long time. Seems like Seth Rogen and James Franco are the perfect combination to make me laugh.

* Penguins Of Madagascar. This one is almost embarrassing to have on here. I loved Madagascar and The Christmas Caper, so the least I could do was to give Penguins Of Madagascar a try as well. Big mistake. The first few scenes are cute, but as the movie trundles on, the more it gets silly and chaotic.

* Anthony Zimmer. American readers will probably be more familiar with its Hollywood remake: The Tourist, starring Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie. Anthony Zimmer is the original French version from 2005. The basis of the story is the same: the international police force and Russian mafia are chasing a man responsible for laundry of dirty money. His mistress (here played by Sophie Marceau) lures his pursuers into believing that a man she met on the train (Yvan Attal) is the one they're looking for. Despite a few slow moments, Anthony Zimmer works much better than The Tourist. Reason for that is its more natural approach, especially when it comes to the look of the actors and the portrayal of the action. Whereas Angelina Jolie made The Tourist look ridiculous, parading like a diva with too much make-up, Sophie Marceau uses her natural charm to create an image of a strong woman that lingers on long after the movie is over.

* Paddington. Holy cuteness. This must be the most magical feel-good movie I've seen in years. Based on Michael Bond's children's books about an unusual bear's life with the Brown family, Paddington is utterly charming, hilarious, produced to perfection, and written in a more original voice than other similar movies. To top it off, London never looked so good. Could this be my new favorite winter movie?

* Whiplash. A promising young drummer enrolls at a music conservatory where his willingness to stop at nothing to become the best in his profession is tested by an instructor who believes that mentally abusing his students is the only way to drive them to greatness. The basis of the story is something we've seen before, but Whiplash is done so much better than others in the genre. Every single element oozes intensity and brilliancy. What stands out, though, is the acting. J.K. Simmons may be nominated for best supporting actor at the Oscars, but it's headliner Miles Teller who makes your skin crawl with emotion.


Listening to: 

* Forest Swords (trip hop with Japanese influences).


What are you currently reading, watching, and listening to? Anything here that piques your interest? 

You can take a peek at all the other books, movies, and music I've blogged about under the "reading / watching / listening to..." tag. 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Next To Her | COVER REVEAL

short film cover

The cover of my new short film, Next To Her, has just been finalized. The official release date is set for January 31.

Though small in size, Next To Her is important to me as it is based on my grandfather's last years of his life. When he was terminally ill, I was surprised to see how rude my grandmother was to him, and how much she hurt him, both physically and emotionally. This was only because she was exhausted and didn't know how to handle the situation. Yet, she never gave up on my grandfather. She could have easily put him in the hospital and have professionals take care of him, but her love was so strong that she wanted to be there for him as long as she could. Next To Her is a reflection of those observations. It's hard at times, but also sweet. Just like life itself...

And, of course, I couldn't help but sneak in a big part for Avalon in the story.

The film based on the script is officially in pre-production. I'll keep you all updated with set photos and official release dates.

Meanwhile, the script of Next To Her is available for pre-order if you're interested:



Let me know what you think of the cover in the comments and on Twitter using @eeriestories and/or the hashtag #NextToHer.

Friday, January 9, 2015

How romantic movies shaped my writing

80s romantic movies

I'd like to welcome guest author Stephanie Faris on the blog today. Stephanie is the author of 30 Days Of No Gossip and 25 Roses. When she isn't crafting fiction, she writes for a variety of online websites on the topics of business, technology, and her favorite subject of all-fashion. Today she'll reveal how romantic movies shaped her writing.


***

Having been a teen in the 80s, I grew up on romantic movies. My favorite movies as a teen were those set in the high school environment. I assumed it was because I was in school myself at the time, but I didn’t realize someday I’d be a writer, with most of my books set in the school environment.

I got the idea for 25 Roses from my own life experience, but there is an underlying romantic tone throughout the book. That romantic tone is always flavored by the books, TV shows, and movies I enjoyed growing up—they shaped my view of fiction today. Here are five of my all-time favorites, four of which start with the letter “S,” oddly!

Clueless

Every girl loves a good makeover movie, right? That moment when an ordinary girl emerges looking amazing gets us all. Based on Jane Austen’s Emma, Clueless features a privileged girl who decides to help out the less fortunate by providing makeovers and matchmaking services. While 25 Roses has similar elements, unlike Cher in Clueless, Mia is hardly privileged. She helps out her fellow classmates because she relates to always being invisible. She feels as though she is one of them.

clueless

Secret Admirer

I remember seeing Secret Admirer on cable as a teen and loving it. I thought Lori Laughlin was so beautiful and I didn’t see how C. Thomas Howell could see her as a buddy. A secret admirer starts sneaking secret admirer notes into C. Thomas Howell’s locker and he assumes it’s from the prom queen. Because, of course, everyone knows prom queens have nothing better to do than sneak notes into boys’ lockers. I tried the “note in a locker” secret admirer thing when I was in school but it never quite worked out for me!

secret admirer

Sixteen Candles

We all love Sixteen Candles so much because Molly Ringwald’s character is so relatable. She has a crush on a boy who (she thinks) doesn’t even know she’s alive. She feels awkward and invisible compared to her beautiful big sister…Mia has that same feeling about her big sister in 25 Roses. Aside from My So-Called Life, I can’t think of another piece of entertainment that has more accurately depicted what being a teenager is like than Sixteen Candles did.

sixteen candles

She’s All That

Freddie Prinze Jr. bets a friend he can turn the school dork into the prom queen. In the process, he falls in love with her. This film mixes commentary on school hierarchies with that makeover magic we all love.

she's all that

Some Kind of Wonderful

I’m including this one because many of you may have missed it. While Mary Stuart Masterson was a little too hostile to be likeable, I loved the girl-likes-boy-who-likes-other-girl theme of this one. It also makes me feel a little better about the fact that my books seem to focus heavily on the social hierarchy in school.

some kind of wonderful

There they are! I won’t say they all directly influence my writing, but they were partly responsible for my views on romance and high school. I’d be interested to hear what movies influenced other people during their tweens, teens, and early 20s.


***

romantic story

About Stephanie's latest novel, 25 Roses:

Mia moves from the shadows to the spotlight when her matchmaking plans go awry in this contemporary M!X novel from the author of 30 Days of No Gossip.

Mia is used to feeling overlooked: her perfect older sister gets all the attention at home, and the popular clique at school are basically experts at ignoring her. So when it’s time for the annual Student Council chocolate rose sale, Mia is prepared to feel even worse. Because even though anyone can buy and send roses to their crushes and friends, the same (popular) people always end up with roses while everyone else gets left out.

Except a twist of fate puts Mia in charge of selling the roses this year—and that means things are going to change. With a little creativity, Mia makes sure the kids who usually leave empty-handed suddenly find themselves the object of someone’s affection. But her scheme starts to unravel when she realizes that being a secret matchmaker isn’t easy—and neither is being in the spotlight.

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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Valkenburg - Christmas in caves

valkenburg christmas

Did you know that Valkenburg in the Netherlands is one of the best towns to visit during the holidays? 

That's because many of its Christmas activities take place in... caves. 

valkenburg christmas market
valkenburg christmas market

Velvet Cave 

The Fluweelengrot (Velvet Cave) houses one of Europe's prettiest Christmas markets. The otherwise dark corridors are decorated with garlands of lights; dozens of stalls have ornaments and gifts on offer. 

Outside the Christmas season, you can visit the Velvet Cave through a guided tour that lasts fifty minutes. The tour focuses on the several century-old murals and sand sculptures, their backstories, and some town history. 

valkenburg christmas caves
megalosaurus fluweelengrot

Castle ruins 

Most tourists who visit Valkenburg buy a combination ticket for the Velvet Cave and the Valkenburg castle

The castle once belonged to the Lords of Valkenburg, but was bombarded and destroyed in 1672 by order of William II. All that is left now are ruins, but they make for quite an impressive visit and offer a good vantage point over town. 

castle ruins valkenburg netherlands
valkenburg castle ruins
valkenburg castle ruins
valkenburg castle ruins
valkenburg netherlands castle ruins
valkenburg ruins
valkenburg kerstman

Wilhelmina Cave 

In the lit dens of the marl corridors of the Wilhelmina Cave, you'll find several sand sculptures depicting the Christmas story. The tour ends with Europe's biggest nativity scene, inspired by The Star Of Bethlethem, and sculpted entirely out of sand. 

Inside the Wilhelmina cave, there's a cozy wooden chalet where you can enjoy a hot chocolate and mulled wine. 

kerststal grotten valkenburg
valkenburg sand sculptures
wilhelmina cave
valkenburg nativity scene
sand sculptures wilhelmina cave valkenburg

Cable-way 

After visiting the Wilhelmina cave, you can take the cable-way to a café/restaurant on top of the hill where you'll have a beautiful view over the Geul valley. 

valkenburg kabelbaan
kabelbaan valkenburg

Santa's Village 

The town of Valkenburg is magical to explore as well. As soon as you arrive, you're submerged in a fairy-like atmosphere. Valkenburg is already pretty outside of the holidays (eighty percent of the houses are made out of marl stone from the caves), but during the Christmas season every house, shop, and restaurant is decked out more abundantly and more beautifully than in many other towns. There is also a small outdoor Christmas market called Santa's Village. 

valkenburg house
valkenburg netherlands
valkenburg christmas
valkenburg christmas
valkenburg christmas decoration
kerststad valkenburg

Parkhotel 

I stayed at the Valkenburg Parkhotel whose interiors and atmosphere reminded me of the Overlook Hotel from The Shining. With its old-style interiors, comfortable bed, and excellent breakfast, the Parkhotel is definitely a place I want to return to. But I especially loved writing from the lovely decorated bar of the hotel (where I drafted this post), with soft Christmas music playing in the background. It was so warm and snuggly there that I seriously didn't want to leave. 

parkhotel valkenburg
parkhotel valkenburg
parkhotel valkenburg

What do you think of Valkenburg? Have you ever been?

Friday, December 19, 2014

Awards, film festival selections, and new editions

a good man movie

* My blog Traveling Cats has won The Bloggers' Lounge Blogger Of The Year Award. A big thank you to everyone who voted and shared. What a great way to end 2014.

* A Good Man (Un homme bien) is going to India! The French film adaptation of my vampire story, will be shown at the Imphal International Film Festival in India on December 27 and 28. 

* A Good Man (Un homme bien) has also been officially selected for Film Festival System D in Brussels, Belgium. The festival starts today.

* I concocted horror movie quizzes for an upcoming trivia book by the makers of Horror 101 and Hidden Horror. The book will have over 1200 questions covering hundreds upon hundreds of films. The working title is Horror U: Twelve Twisted Trimesters of Horror Trivia. It'll probably land in January in both ebook and physical form.

* My supernatural thriller Drowned Sorrow is available in a new paperback edition with a cover by award-winning designer Gilles Vranckx. Some places where you can get the book are Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon FR, and B&N

* The Strange Color Of Your Body's Tears (the movie for which I modeled for the poster) is now available on DVD/Blu-Ray and Instant Video. It's an excellent film, so be sure to watch it.

* My short film script Next To Her will most probably be directed by Fedrik De Beul (Août 1914). The movie will be in Dutch, but I'll make an English version of the script available on Kindle, Nook, etc. The cover is being made as I'm writing this. If you have a blog and want to do a cover reveal, review, or interview I'd greatly appreciate it. You may contact me at eeriestories75(at)gmail(dot)com.