Saturday, 31 August 2013

FB3X Drabble Cascade #25 - Echoes (Gen Lit)

Suitable for All

Fantasy Boys XXX Drabble Cascade

This is my drabble entry for the 25th Drabble Cascade. This week there's a competition to win $25 Amazon Voucher too!

Author's Note

I've had the song 'Windmills of My Mind' going round and round in my head all morning, and it's unrelenting style inspired this drabble.

Friday, 23 August 2013

Guest Post - Kia Zi Shiru - Disturbed Connections Blog Tour - Series, Series, Series

Today, I am welcoming back, Kia Zi Shiru, author extraordinare, to my blog as part of her Disturbed Connections Blog Tour. So, without further ado, over to Kia!

Series, Series, Series

Sophie asked me to talk a bit about writing a series and how I plan them. For me it depends on the series but I’ll talk about both types since I tried both the “follow one (group of) character(s)” series and the “same world” series.

My first series, Black Sheep Trilogy, and my upcoming series, nameless still, are both of the first type. Other series like this are things like Harry Potter or the Hunger Games. They follow a few characters and have both one large overarching story arch and multiple short ones. These series are story arches in story arches in story arches, namely the series, the books and the different parts of the books. They are quite straight forward to plot, though are harder to write out of order since a change in an earlier or later book can mean a whole rewrite of earlier stories.

For Black Sheep I had only planned that there would be three parts and even changed the ending of the last book to the ending of the second book. This change influenced the whole third book but it became a better story because of it. These series are often nice to sit down for and plan. You can explore a lot of it while you go.

For Otherkin Spirits I tried the other type. I use one world and place multiple stories within it while still keeping the stories connected. These are all stand alone stories and can be planned separately. I could write them out of order even though I’m not doing that. Stories don’t immediately connect on a basic level but they do on a broader level. For Otherkin Spirits I did this in 3 different ways: by time, by characters and by topics.

The time element of this series are the seasons. The first book, Disturbed Fate, is set in the winter. The second book, Disturbed Connections, is set in the autumn. The third and fourth book are set in the summer and spring respectively. Each story has settings that people associate with the season and some events that are seasonal, like Christmas and New Year’s in Disturbed Fate. Though the direction of the seasons is in reversed order, not for any gimmick but that it felt the right thing to do. This way each story takes place about 9 months after the last story, enough for relationships to develop stronger.

This comes to the second connection I make between the books, the characters. In all books characters from previous stories will show up. This both sets the books after another since the events of previous books will have already happened but at the same time it is a nice reference for people who have read the other books. In Disturbed Connections there are multiple scenes where some characters of Disturbed Fate are referenced, they are not major characters but at the same time they are part of some plot elements. For the story themselves it doesn’t matter much that these characters were in other books as they are treated like any side character in the new book. I’m having a lot of fun with putting this in the books.

The third one is topics, or better said, races. The first book has a narrator who is a seer and a psychic vampire, the second book has a psychic vampire and a werewolf and the third book has a seer and a werewolf, the fourth one has two sanguine vampires. But that doesn’t mean those races are the only ones in their own story. All those races show up in each story, growing the world and your understanding of everything a bit more in each book, but at the same time you don’t need the other stories to understand the books on their own. These races are all important to each plot and I love exploring what they mean for each book.

What the most fun was about this was both coming up with single story arches, things I could talk about in one book, and all sorts of characters. None of these characters are the same, they have different dynamics, different backgrounds and different lives. I can explore all these characters and I’m loving it. Each couple in the story has their own reason why I love them and finding scenes to show this is great.
I got this idea for the series while reading Daisy Harris’ Men of Holsum College which uses this same idea of having a different set of characters each book and also having characters show up in other books. Finding those gems was always my favourite thing about the books (apart from the great sex scenes that is) and I’m hoping people will also like it in my stories.

The main difference between writing and planning Black Sheep and Otherkin Spirits is that I don’t need large overarching plots for Otherkin Spirits. The stories are all stand alone. Each story is their own story so people can pick and choose the ones they do and don’t like to read. I like that about writing it, I’m not as stuck to a plot as I would be with a series with the same characters.

Writing both types of series is interesting. For one you use larger overarching plots and for the other you use the world where it is set in as a connection between the books. I personally love reading and writing both types of series.

About Kia Zi Shiru

Kia Zi Shiru is a Dutch girl who did her bachelor studying English and Creative Writing in the UK but has now returned to the Netherlands to do her masters. Amongst her interests she finds writing, reading, doing research and learning different languages (including but not limited to: English, Dutch, French, German, HTML, Java, PHP and Assembly). Her writing and reading habits include books with Young Adults, gay themes, strong female or minority characters and fantasy elements (more often than not all at the same time).

You can find Kia:
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Disturbed Connections

A werewolf and a vampire, forbidden love. What could go wrong?

CHRIS, a werewolf on the run from his abusive clan, hides in a vampire house. ALEC, a vampire who has comfortably lived in the house for years, has no intentions to ever leave it.

Their connection is obvious from the first time they meet. But the house rules are strict, werewolves and vampires can not date. Unable to fight their attraction and unwilling to leave, they instead choose to hide their love.

Then Chris’ old clan finds him and takes him back. Will Alec ever see Chris again?

Sales links:


On impulse Chris unlocked his door, opened it a fraction and sat on his bed with a book. He hoped he could catch a glimpse of Alec without seeming too obvious. He started reading the book though he kept glancing up at the door. Anything to not seem too stalkerish, because that would be a bad first impression to make. He heard the door to the bathroom open and footsteps in the hallway. Travis had told him that after taking a shower they usually didn’t use the doors directly to their own rooms since it would fill up the rooms with steam—annoying maybe on other days, but lucky for Chris today.

He caught a glimpse of Alec as he walked through his line of sight. Then the footsteps stopped. Chris quickly looked at his book, acting as if he hadn’t opened the door on purpose.

He heard Alec come over to his door and knock on it.

“Hey, you settling in okay?” Alec’s voice was light, not as deep as he expected it, but it was melodic, happy even.

“Yeah, everything is fine.” As Chris answered, Alec pushed the door open and leaned against the frame. Chris swallowed as Alec dried his long black dreadlocks and stood there, all innocent and open, in just a towel. He seemed to be unaware of his staring and Chris got enough courage to look him up and down.

Alec looked even better than the last time he had seen him. Not too bulky, a slim frame with strongly defined muscles. His chest and arm muscles moved gracefully under his tanned skin as he dried his hair. The moving stopped and Chris looked up, catching the sly smile in Alec’s eyes.

“Very well, I see.” The guy grinned. “I’m Alec.”

“I’m Chris. You’re Travis’ sparring partner, right?” Chris acted like he didn’t know much about him, though he probably knew more about Alec than he himself did.

“Yeah. How do you know him? You don’t seem like the type he normally hangs out with.” Alec walked into the room a bit further, one towel now fastened around his huge bundle of dreadlocks and the other still around his well-defined hips.

“We went to the same school.” Huge understatement, but Chris knew that there were parts of himself that Travis would rather not talk about. His past before he awoke as a vampire was one of them.

“Cool. So what do you think about the rest of the house, have you met them yet?”

“They seem nice, especially Jasper.” Chris grinned.

Alec reflected that same grin. “Nice doesn’t really cut it with him, but he is okay. He’s a good guy under all that scary muscle.”

“Good to know.” Chris looked away from Alec, trying to keep himself under control and not pull the towel off of him.

“Hey, um, I’m getting dressed. Do you wanna go to the party downstairs after? They seem to be having a great time.” Alec turned around and Chris got a good look at his back before he found his voice.

“Yeah, sure. I’ll join you.”

“Great, I’ll be back in a bit then.” Alec shot him one last glance over his shoulder before he closed the door behind him.

Chris sighed. Damn, Alec was even sexier than he remembered. Chris didn’t get why Travis didn’t want him—Alec was way hotter than that Nick Travis was dating now.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Evil Dead Remake - My Thoughts

I wanted to go and see this remake of Sam Raimi's Evil Dead in the cinema, but I never made it. However, since I first saw Evil Dead II on VHS when I was a teenager, I suppose seeing it on DVD is a fair comparison. Evil Dead II was the first ever 'proper' horror I saw in my early teens and it scared the pants off me (believe me the comedy elements did not make it any less scary), so did Evil Dead when I finally got to see that, so this remake had a lot to live up to.

Doesn't she remind you of  Regan from The Exorcist?

I will just say that Evil Dead II no longer scares me and I'm not sure if it would if I saw it now (being old and cynical that I am ;P), although the giggling she-demon in Evil Dead always, always gives me the creeps. Still, Evil Dead II (not Evil Dead so much, because Sam developed his directorial talents between the two IMO) is a brilliantly choreographed piece of film, it has tension, shocks and a pace that catches the watcher at the beginning and pulls you all the way through till the end. the original evil Dead also has moments of brilliance that make me keep coming back to it, I mentioned the giggling demon already, didn't I! The new Evil Dead...well, not so much.

It starts with a 'bang' a young girl, teenager probably, wandering in the woods gets thumped by a couple of hill billies. She ends up tied to a pillar and her father sets fire to her to rid her of the evil inside her. We see the demon swearing and cursing and then, bam, we're into the main story. The man in glasses setting fire to his daughter is the only nod to the archaeologist and his wife from original ED that we get in this story, we are only left with the book and the aftermath of the witchery that freed the girl of the demon. I'm not sure if I'd miss him if it wasn't for knowing the originals, but I think I would. The use of another character fiddling around with the book and managing to read out the significant incantation, which is one of the few that has been helpfully translated for him, I found a bit far fetched (yeah, I know, demons and magic spells and I'm finding that point far fetched, but I've suspended my disbelief about the demons for the movie, not my ability to assimilate coincidence). I will also add that, because there is no history to the book, I don't find it as prominent in the story as it was in the originals. It's there, it flashes us a few pictures of what is going to happen (annoying by the way, because it gives away the shock when the nurse is possessed), but it's just a run of the mill plot device.

OK, enough about the prologue that barely impinges on the rest of the story (unless you take the rather clumsy flash-back reminder to inform the audience if we hadn't spotted it that the burnt wooden pillar in the cellar of the cabin is where daddy burnt his daughter to save her soul). On to the main story, and it's far more ponderous than either of the two originals (I'm including these together, because EDII is, more or less, a remake of EDI in the first half hour or so and then branches into more of its own story, but they are essentially the same premise and the same story). We are introduced to David and Mia, brother and sister, and their friends through some rather heavy post-teen angst. Mia and David have a dysfunctional past, Mummy was mad and David left home, Mia is a drug addict wanting to quit. She's going to go cold turkey in this deserted cabin in the woods with her friends to help her. Can you guess what is going to happen next? ;P

It's an interesting premise, more complex than some friends just heading out to a cabin for the weekend, which is how the original is set up, and if you can't see the parallels between drug detox and demon possession, then you're blind. However, because of this parallel and the set up of Mia slowly dissolving into a desperate addict, the story took a while to get going and there wasn't a lot of creepiness in the first 45 minutes. However, when it did get going, it brought the first of two really creepy moments in the movie (yes, I said 2). After Mia is attacked by the trees (and the demon, which we see as some kind of future reflection, I think), sorry, I digress, after Mia is attacked, the others take her back to the cabin, believing she is just raving with withdrawal (didn't see that coming at all, no siree). David goes to talk to her in her room and she tries to convince him that something bad is happening - and boy does she come off as intensely creepy - I take my hat off to the actress, she had me convinced she was terrified and infected and on the crazy train in her whispers and movements. This was let down somewhat by David not being able to act his way out of a paper bag, but never mind, she was fantastic and gave me chills. Plus the shot in the mirror at the end of the that scene was inspired cinematography.

Thereafter, as one by one, they get infected by the demon and end up dead, while Mia is in the cellar cheerleading proceedings, I was left slightly bored. I think it was because the main story had started out too 'gritty', I use the term loosely, for me to really get into the demons. The effects from the originals might seem cheesy in today's standards, but the sheer madness of the demons and their frenetic activity produced shock value. The directing of the demons in this one was much slower, they were murderous, nasty, but they went about it at a pace that was supposed to engender suspense, but which left me waiting for the conflicts to end.

The only bit that had me on the edge of my seat was at the end when Mia is face to face with 'the abomination', one on one, Mia is being chased by the demon (yes, David managed to un-possess Mia before sacrificing himself for his sis, again, never saw that coming ;P). There is suspense, there is fear, there is the worm turning, there is a chainsaw! If they'd managed to put that kind of tension into the rest of the movie, I would have enjoyed it a lot more.

Now, I'm not saying the original ED, or EDII were perfect, far from it and I was not horrified with this remake as I was with Fright Night, which had me ranting, but if I want to watch ED in the future, I think I'll stick with the originals.

As a modern horror movie in its own right, the new Evil Dead is worth a watch though. 

Monday, 5 August 2013

Joss Whedon's Much Ado About Nothing - A Review

OK, technically, it's not Joss' it's Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, but you can clearly see the director's hand in this version and I think Joss deserves a little credit. :)

I'm not a big Shakespeare fan, in fact, the only version of Much Ado I've seen before, which was a live open-air production was truly awful, so I wasn't in any pains to see this version, until my sister mentioned it was on at our local art house theatre and I thought I'd give it a try. Admittedly, what tipped me over the edge into watching the film in the first place was the fact that I think The Avengers was a stunning movie directorially speaking and I also love quite a lot of the cast from Much Ado.

So, my expectations weren't that high when I sat down to watch, in fact, I was keeping an eye on my phone for the announcement of the new Doctor Who. I did turn the phone off before the titles rolled and then had my first, ugh! moment - the movie was in black and white. I wasn't quite sure what the point of that was, still am not sure, but after the first scene, I'd forgotten about it, so I won't hold it against the movie.

So, about the actual play itself. I mentioned above, the only other version I had seen was dire, a comedy had become a farce due to lack of timing and, IMO, lack of understanding of the text. That is something I can't accuse Joss of, he clearly understood what he was about when he adapted Much Ado to a modern era. There were a few anachronisms, always will be with Shakespeare bumped into the 21st Century. Conrad was as I've never seen him before as well - a woman - but she worked very well in the role - confidante and lover to Don John.

The setting was a large, rich house, the house of Leonato, father of Hero, uncle to Beatrice, played brilliantly by Clark Gregg. In fact, many of the performances were noteworthy without upstaging the other cast members. Amy Acker and Alexis Denisof were fantastic as the quick-witted, acerbic Beatrice and Benedick, both bantering their way through life until the hysterical moments when they are convinced by eavesdropping that the one is in love with the other.

I have to say, I was watching patiently up until this point, mostly interested in the plot, but the wonder of the sheer slapstick comedy of the two scenes where first Benedick is hiding and over hearing his friends talk of Beatrice's love for him and then Beatrice is belied the same way by her friends, had me hooked after that. I belly-laughed my way through those scenes and then chuckled my way through most others.

The exception to the laughter was the whole plot where Don John (boo hiss) trick the lovey dovey Claudio into believing that his true love, Hero, is unfaithful to him with another man. Women fainting and dying because they are accused of being 'not a maid' is, shall we say, a stretch for modern audiences, but this is Shakespeare, one has to accept this kind of thing like light sabres in Star Wars, so I won't dwell. However, that whole scene was played with tension and had me wanting to throttle Don John and smack Claudio up side the head, which I think was the intent :).  And so I was grinning all over my face by the end when everything is resolved. :D

So, some fine performances and some fine directing that actually made me fall in love a little bit with a Shakespeare play (no mean feat, I can now list the ones I actively like on one hand). It was well paced, well acted and well adapted. I laughed, I cried and I left the cinema uplifted by the devoted love of Hero and Claudio and the almost anarchic love of Beatrice and Benedick - two very different pairs of lovers.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

That's What HE Said (Thursday Meme)

Today, I'm joining in the 'That's What HE Said' Thursday meme run by the lovely lasses over at Chapter Break.

The idea in full is here, but in summary, you have to post a quote from your favourite book hero to his gal.

"You know what it feels like, Lexie. You know what the power's like. Why are we bothering to fight it? This is too good to miss."

Nate to Lexie

(Advent (Vampires: The New Age #1) by Natasha Duncan-Drake)

I'm a sucker for vampires and half vampires are even better, so this book hits all my buttons :). I'll declare my allegiance as well, my twin wrote it, so I get on really well with the fast-paced, sarky writing style. Nate's a hard bitten hunter, who's been taking out vamps since his teens. Lexie is a witch, who can kick arse when she needs to and they're both infected with vampire blood. They are constantly having to fight the animal within and quote above is from a time when Nate is slipping into that savagery.