Wednesday, January 21, 2015


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!


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.


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


After visiting the Wilhelmina cave, you can take the cable-way to a cafĂ©/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


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?