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New Beginnings!

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It’s a brand-new year, and almost the 5th anniversary of this website — so what better time to freshen things up with a new look and a new focus?

You may have noticed that I write in a lot of different genres, which is mostly great for me but probably confusing (and maybe a little frustrating) for readers. So for 2019, I’ve split my contemporary romantic fiction off into a new pen name, Carrie Ann Hope, and this site/name/identity is going to focus on “Stories of Other Worlds” — science fiction, supernatural mystery, and paranormal romance.

I’ve also retired from editing for other folks so that I can focus on writing and publishing, which I’ve discovered takes a TON of time!

As I’ve told you, I’m not the most regular of bloggers, but I’ll try to keep you updated both here and on my Facebook page re: everything that’s new and exciting. I’ll also be setting up a newsletter in the next couple of weeks, where you’ll find offers for freebies, a chance to join my ARC team, and links to some great books from other indy authors.

So, stay tuned! It’s going to be a terrific year.

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Tips from the Editor

The Devil’s in the Details

More? Not Necessarily Better

Jen had no idea where the bus stop was, so she stopped the first person she found.

The woman was a good six inches shorter than Jen. Most of her brown hair was tucked into a knit cap, and she was wearing a bright blue raincoat with a row of white stars on the pocket. “It’s down that way,” she told Jen, pointing. “About two blocks.”

“Thanks,” Jen said. To her relief, she got to the stop a minute before the bus did.

Now we know a lot about Jen’s savior.

But… why?

If the point of the scene is that Jen needs to catch that bus to get to a job interview on time, we need to rush through this situation as quickly as Jen does—so bringing things to a halt to tell us about the woman’s raincoat not only isn’t necessarily, it interferes with the pacing of the scene.

Unless the woman appears again later on, and what she’s wearing tells us something we need to know about her (whether she’s trustworthy, or homeless, or she’s someone who wants that job as badly as Jen does), we don’t need to know what she’s wearing. In fact, the only important thing about her is that she provides Jen with the information she needs.

Jen had no idea where the bus stop was, so she stopped the first person she found.

“It’s down that way,” the woman told Jen, pointing. “About two blocks.”

“Thanks,” Jen said. To her relief, she got to the stop a minute before the bus did.

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31 Days of Creepy: The Possession

11168615_oriI started out the month talking about some old favorites – classic scary stuff that’s given me chills over the years. Let’s finish up with something newer – the scariest movie I’ve seen in a long time!

The Possession is the story of a 10-year-old girl named Emily who comes across an intriguing old box at a yard sale. We’ve all had an object “speak” to us, I’m sure, in a way that says “take me home.” The box does that to Emily, but it’s not just the sense that she needs to add this battered old thing to her collection of treasures. It’s literally speaking to her… and that’s only the beginning.

Natasha Calis does a terrific job as young Emily, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Kyra Sedgwick are spot-on as her terrified parents. The direction, photography and music add beautiful layers to the mood. A couple of questions remain unanswered at the end, but overall the story is involving, unsettling, and effective… to the point of making you wonder if you’re really hearing whispers in the middle of the night. Thumbs up to this one – my favorite recent scary movie!

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31 Days of Creepy: Chatting with Author Will Swardstrom

71MNzLaFHIL._UX250_Continuing my conversations with author friends about what creeps them out, on this scariest day of the year…

Meet Will Swardstrom, who’s typically a SF writer, but has dipped into the horror realm with the truly creepy Ant Apocalypse and Z Ball.

Book, movie, or TV show… what’s the one moment that absolutely scared the living bejeebers out of you?

When I was in fourth grade, I was invited to a sleepover at a friend’s house. I typically watched things like Star Wars and Eddie Murphy movies as I recall, so when we watched Children of the Corn, it was way out of left field. Being in an unfamiliar house definitely played into it, I think, but that movie…shudders…I still get creeped out thinking about it. What a scary, scary movie.

Tell the truth: would waking up to find a giant bug crawling on your face make you scream? Or would you attempt to make a pet out of it?

I might actually be too scared to even scream at first. I might be paralyzed by fear and revulsion, but the first move would be to bat it away from me and my face. All those legs…now dog-sized? I can’t even. Arachnophobia really got me as a kid, and of course my story Ant Apocalypse is my first attempt at horror. NO THANKS.

For you, who’s the Master of Horror?

For books, I’ll go with Stephen King. Can’t go wrong there. I really am a wuss when it comes to reading or watching much horror, but that dude is such a great storyteller I can get into any of his books no matter what. That said…the two books that scared me the most: the first is Dragon Tears by Dean Koontz. This was one of his books from the early 90’s where he was still going full-on horror/suspense with his books. In the latter years here he’s toned it down and horror is more of a character to his stories, not the entire setting.

But the one book that scared me the most? Hot Zone by Richard Preston (subtitle: The Terrifying True Story of the Origins of the Ebola Virus). This was in the 90’s when Ebola first became a household name and I read that book. The true nature of it truly frightened me.

What’s the scariest scene you’ve ever written?

The kitten turns into a zombie scene in my book Ant Apocalypse. For sure. I hated writing it (I’m a cat person, honestly), so I forced myself to do it. Listening to it as an audiobook scared the crap out of me.

Zombie Apocalypse. What’s your weapon of choice?

Can I go with Harry Potter’s Cloak of Invisibility? How about Wonder Woman’s Invisible Jet? I would rather just NOT deal with the zombies if I had a choice. However, if I *had* to choose, it would be something that I could use again and again, like a sword or something along those lines where I wouldn’t have to worry about ammunition.

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31 Days of Creepy – Chatting with Author Thomas Robins

61rlT7c956L._UX250_It’s Halloween, horror fans! Scariest day of the year, so I’ve been chatting with a couple of author friends about what creeps them out.

First up: Thomas Robins, author of the popular SF novel Desperate to Escape and the new series The Dragons of Edgewick.

Book, movie, or TV show… what’s the one moment that absolutely scared the living bejeebers out of you?

Alice in Wonderland. In elementary school, our whole school went to an auditorium to watch this film. It terrified me, but I was in the middle of a couple of hundred kids so I couldn’t leave or bury my head in my parents’ arms. I just sat there, horrified for Alice and forced to keep watching. 

Tell the truth: would waking up to find a giant bug crawling on your face make you scream? Or would you attempt to make a pet out of it?

I’d scream like a madman, but probably not because it’s a spider. Things that suddenly wake me up send me into a weird yelling gibberish fit for a minute before I actually wake up. Happens if a fire alarm goes off or a loud clack of thunder comes by. I call it my personal blue screen (from when PCs crash).

For you, who’s the Master of Horror?

Stephen King by reputation. I don’t read or watch straight horror.

What’s the scariest scene you’ve ever written?

I’m in the middle of writing my scariest scene, which is likely to be over the top since I don’t read horror. It’s part of a piece I’m writing for The Shapeshifter Chronicles.

Zombie Apocalypse. What’s your weapon of choice?

A paper map. If I can get my family a few hundred miles to my in-laws’ farm, we’d be able to hole up in safety for years.

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31 Days of Creepy – The Outer Limits

TheOuterLimits-Screenshot-oldOne of my clearest memories from my childhood is of coming home from trick-or-treating and finding my dad sitting in the dark, watching THE OUTER LIMITS on our old black-and-white TV. Back then (1964), I thought the show was weird and scary – lots of strange, eerie music. And lots of monsters.

outer_limits_architects_of_fear_9212The show reflects all the sensibilities of that time — fear of alien invasions, fear of atomic weapons, fear of things we can’t control. It’s humorous now that the monster in “The Architects of Fear,” clearly an actor in a bug-eyed rubber suit, was deemed so terrifying that some of the ABC affiliates refused to air the episode, and others blanked out the offensive scenes. Most of the special effects are primitive, and there’s a lot of melodrama lurking throughout (not to mention the female characters — a lot of devoted wives and girlfriends — who do little more than shriek and cower), but if you dig a little deeper and let go of your 21st century mindset, there’s a lot of great, scary storytelling going on. How far do we dare go to prove a point? When do we reach the point of learning too much? Is knowledge worth losing our humanity?

14789946The show was revived in 1995, and there’s some fine storytelling there as well. My particular favorite episode is “Inconstant Moon,” which stars Family Ties‘ Michael Gross as a lonely physics professor who realizes to his horror that the sun has gone nova and he has only a few hours left to live. (Ignore the incorrect description at Amazon; it’s the correct episode.) If you’re looking for something new to stream, both the 1963 original and the 1995 reboot are well worth your time… especially if you watch in the dark!