Movie Review: Alyce Kills

movie review, movies October 9, 2013

Alyce-Kills-coverWow… this one took even my jaded sensibilities by surprise.

Alyce Kills is a 2013 release, directed by Jay Lee, of Zombie Strippers and The Slaughter fame. This is the story of a young woman, Alyce, and her descent into madness.

Alyce is a rather unhappy chick. She works for a woman who resents her and likes nasty little passive-aggressive games. Alyce’s love for her best friend, Carroll, is painfully apparent but unrequited. The girls spend an evening together bonding, despite past tensions over what is apparently Alyce’s tendency to lapse into “single white female” obsessiveness. All the fun things are present: red velvet cake, plans for vengeance upon a cheating ex, and almost-but-not-quite lesbian action. This scene brings to the forefront Alyce’s feelings for Carroll and Carroll’s dismissal.

After the girls visit their drug dealer and score some Ecstasy, they return to Alyce’s apartment and go to the roof where Alyce (accidentally?) pushes Carroll off the roof. Alyce begins to lose her mind and Carroll’s apparition (can’t be ghost, because Carroll doesn’t die immediately) visits Alyce in her home. Alyce turns to more drugs, which she trades sex for, to assuage her pain, but the drugs seem to only fuel her own dive into psychosis. After Carroll’s eventual death, Alyce attends the funeral, only to be thrown out for molesting the corpse… in front of all the funeral-goers. I’m not sure why this scene tickled me so much… but it did. Something new is always good. She’s clearly out of control and when she finally decides to take back her life… she’s so creative.

The story is a good one and I enjoyed the movie immensely. I was surprised at how quickly it turned into a gorefest after a really satisfying slow burn, and it’s so gory it’s almost gratuitous, but I’ll forgive Lee for this because of the creativity with which Alyce goes about her revenge.

Recommended for horror fans and those who like chick flicks with a twist (and can handle a good blender scene).

Movie review: Devil’s Pass

movie review, movies, research October 4, 2013

I’m always intrigued by movies that claim to be based on actual events, particularly horror movies. Most of the horrific things we write about are so far out there it’s unreasonable to assume they’d actually happen. For a movie to bill itself as real horror is fascinating to me.

I was trolling Amazon rentals for something different to watch one night last month and found this one:

100413 Devil's Pass

    Also known as:

100413 The Dyatlov Pass Incident










This is a 2013 movie directed by Renny Harlin. The basic premise is straightforward: a group of teenagers read about the “Dyatlov Pass Incident,” which is a real event, and go to investigate.

The Dyatlov Pass Incident refers to the disappearance of nine skiers in the Ural mountains in 1959. When an expected message from the group of experienced skiers did not arrive, search and rescue went after them. They were found dead, in various stated of undress (in below zero temps), with tents ripped open from the inside, and some had fatal wounds that could not be explained. Several of them left the camp barefoot, and radiation in the area was unusually high. Their deaths have never been explained. Really fascinating stuff, and certainly could be the basis for a real life horror. If you’re interested in reading more about this event, I found a good article here.

In the movie Devil’s Pass, Harlin puts his own spin on what might have happened to the original skiers. A group of American college students, interested in the original incident, decide to hike the same path as the party from 1956. As you can imagine, Harlin puts forth his own dramatized theory of what might have taken place in February, 1956. The cast is mostly newcomers, no big-ticket actors, and they do a good job. There’s a good slow burn up to a certain point, after which you have to let go of the “true story” part and just run with it. I had a brief outburst of “WHY??? WHY’D HAVE TO GO THERE???” and then just settled in and enjoyed the end. It was suspenseful, if not believable.

I give it three and a half stars. I had to take one and a half off because of the ending. I would have preferred a plausible idea to what might have happened to the skiers, but on it’s own this is a fun movie.










Blogging is rough work (or I think it would be if I did it more often)

agents, conventions, genre fiction, Habeas Corpse, idols, KillerCon, marketing, Mistresses of the Macabre, publishing, release, World Horror September 30, 2013

Hey there intrepid readers!

Seriously? Have I been so remiss about posting that I haven’t actually written a blog entry since February??

*puts self in blogger time-out*

I’m equally bad about tweeting. Twitter is overwhelming to me, so I generally don’t use it. I do like Facebook, so if you like my blog, come like my FB author page, too (just click the link there). I am a little better about posting to my FB page than I am here.

So anyway… things have been busy since I last posted. Lots of writing, plenty of editing, a motorcycle accident that left me with a broken elbow and some awesome bruises, a couple of conferences, a retreat, the loss of a dear friend. I’ll spare you an epic post and just write about one thing at a time. You can come back for more later.

In June I went to New Orleans for World Horror. This was my third HWA convention, and I always have a blast. I did not, however, enjoy New Orleans. The whole trip started off wrong when my flight down was canceled (this has never happened to me… like, a complete cancellation) due to poor crew scheduling. How does that happen? Anyway, the flight was canceled, which meant two whole different flights, and I got in almost six hours later than I was supposed to. I think I got to the hotel around 1AM, and I was feeling pretty pissy because I’d actually gotten up at 3AM to make the flight that was canceled before the airline (*cough* United) even contacted us. It was hot (like REALLY hot… New Orleans in June…) and the smell in the French Quarter was… was… Let’s just say every time I left the Hotel Monteleone I said to anyone standing within earshot “WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT SMELL??” My best guess is it had something to do with the fact that the French Quarter is below sea level, so nothing drains, there’s trash out 24/7, human *substances* in the street and it’s all mingling and baking that incredible heat. I have what might be called an acute sense of smell, perhaps to make up for my terrible hearing, and it was torment.

That said, the Hotel Monteleone was gorgeous. The beignets were oh so yum. The company was second to none. I had the opportunity to speak with some of my writing heroes and they knocked my socks off. The panels were great, particularly the women in horror panel. I spoke with an agent who’s interested in seeing some of my work, and I’m hoping to have good news on that front in a few months. I was asked to sign a few copies of Mistresses of the Macabre at the mass book signing, which was an awful lot of fun, and I finally got to meet Lori Michelle, my editor for Mistresses. Here are some pictures from World Horror Con 2013:


Panel on writing dialogue with some of my peeps.


Panel on working with an editor with my own fab editor, RJ Cavender.


And a panel on women in the horror genre with Lucy Snyder.


The Walgreens in New Orleans carries alligator heads.


Sign on Bourbon Street.


Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop and Bar. Really just a bar. It was built between 1722 and 1732 and is believed to be the oldest building in the US used as a bar. No electric lights. Questionable odor and the guy in the banana hammock out front really added pizzazz.


Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo.


The Hotel Monteleone has no 13th floor. Where is it?!?!


Random view of Bourbon Street.


Cafe Beignet, just a block away from the Hotel Monteleone.


My husband and mentor/brother-from-another-mother waiting for beignets and coffee.


BEIGNETS!! I tried my first one and proclaimed, “It’s a funnel cake!!” (I was raised in Pennsylvania Dutch country). Scott promptly gave me the smackdown and said,”NO! It’s a BEIGNET. If you call it a funnel cake, it’s a SNACK. If you call it a beignet, it’s BREAKFAST!”


I tried to keep my nose buried in a cup of coffee most of the time so I didn’t have to smell the air.


My new friend.


How can a writer NOT like a place called THE BACK SPACE BAR?


Here we were waiting to take a vampire tour, which I was convinced would be full of delicious cheesiness and perhaps people jumping out and yelling boo, but ended being the highlight of the trip.


See why I thought the vampire tour would be cheese-a-licious? Nope, he was very knowledgeable about NOLA history and gave a fantastic tour.

World Horror Con is always super awesome, and besides the odor of New Orleans, this year didn’t disappoint.

I’ll write a post on the SHU In Your Write Mind later and also one about KillerCon, which I’m just recovering from.

I do have some excellent news on the publication front… we have a release date for Habeas Corpse! On November 2, 2013, the world will meet Theo. Write it on your calendar and buy a copy! Buy three! Buy one for your mom! I’m really excited, and even more so since I met Marc Ciccarone and Joe Spagnola of Blood Bound Books at KillerCon. They’ve been great to work with and are genuinely fun guys. I’m glad to be working with them.


Till next time!

Working with an editor, part 1

angst, editors, genre fiction, Habeas Corpses, marketing, writing life February 14, 2013

Last spring I pitched my book, Habeas Corpses, to the editor of a large(r) house that will remain unnamed. I met with this editor in person at a convention, pitched HC, and Said Editor (SE) expressed interest. A week or so later, I sent the manuscript to SE.

I have yet to hear back from SE. No acceptance or rejection.

To be fair, I should have contacted SE and ascertained that SE received my manuscript, but I didn’t. That’s my fault, and I take responsibility for it.

In the meantime, another large house contacted me about Habeas Corpses after reading an excerpt (I think it was the first chapter) on a website they run. That’s right… contacted me. I may have mentioned this before. This Other Editor (OT) requested the first hundred pages, and naturally I sent them. It didn’t take long for OT to send an email outlining some changes I’d have to make in order for my manuscript to be acceptable. These changes basically consisted of removing all traces of gore and graphic material from my novel because OT felt the gore would turn off readers.

Mind you, this manuscript is a zombie novel. Zombie fans turned off by gore? Has anyone at Large Publishing House bothered watching The Walking Dead? Rant over.

I pitched it again to another small(er) publishing house and was told they liked the characters, but the novel didn’t fit their line. Fair enough, and it was a pleasant pitch and rejection.

Yeah, so anyway, at this point I was completely convinced I was marketing this monster the wrong way. But since I was so close to the story, I wasn’t sure I could objectively call it one thing or another. I tried marketing it as urban fantasy, as horror, as a mystery. I had one really awful critique from a contest (more on contests and why I’ll never enter another one in a different post) that claimed it was utter shit and not worth the paper it was printed on. I entered it as an urban fantasy, and I really think that was part of the problem. I needed some help.

A few of my writing colleagues mentioned talking to a professional editor. I know a few editors from my days at SHU, but no one in the horror genre, so it was clear I was going to have to step outside my inner circle.

I started doing some research and one name popped up in a couple of different places from trusted friends. After some procrastinating on my part (because no one could know my novel as well I do, right?) I contacted The Editorial Department for someone to take a look at it and tell me where Habeas Corpses fit in which genre.

My novel was assigned to RJ Cavender. Fast forward by a couple of months and I’d received RJ’s critique of Habeas Corpses. A few weeks later, my mentor and colleague Scott talked me out from under my bed where I was sobbing and dribbling. He smacked some sense into me and I reread RJ’s critique, after which I signed on to work further with RJ.

RJ’s critique was honest (something which I value very much, but always take some time to digest, hence the sobbing and dribbling) and easily the most helpful assessment of a manuscript I’ve ever had. My first read-through of any critique only allows me to read the negatives, so I missed all the complimentary things he had to say until I came back out from under the bed. He accurately pinpointed my strengths (dialogue) and weaknesses (plot holes), and gave solid advice on how to fix the weaknesses.

He also told me my novel should be marketed as horror. And then he helped me market it.

…to be continued


Out with the old, in with the new

publishing, reading, releases, writing and technology, writing life December 31, 2012

Happy New Years’ Eve to all my friends!

I finally convinced my webmaster to update my website. He’s still cursing over adding cover art, but he’ll get there. Or I’ll take his cookies.

2012 was a good year for me… books were completed, short stories written, submissions sent, my first professional writing contracts were signed. As I sit here with my trusty laptop and a cup of coffee, I think back on a year that wasn’t bad at all.

On the horizon is 2013. I’m so excited to move forward and see my projects in print and continue these fabulous professional relationships. I see many good things in the future, and I wish the same for all my readers and friends.

Dark art for mistresses

releases December 19, 2012

I submitted my short story “Black Bird” to Dark Moon Books last year. I found out in August it was accepted for their anthology Mistresses of the Macabre. I’ve been (not so) patiently waiting to get a release time and see some cover art.

Look for Mistresses of the Macabre in March of 2013. It includes my story and the writing talents of Diane Arrelle, Alanna Belak, Chantal Boudreau, Nadia Boulberhane, Mandy DeGeit, Magnolia Erdelac, Erin Eveland, Lindsey Beth Goddard, Hollis Jay, Charlotte Jones, Suzie Lockhart, Dawn Napier, Amanda Nethers, Joanna Parypinski, Suzanne Robb, Kelli A. Wilkins, and Melissa Clare Wright.

Mistresses of the Macabre cover art

Finally! A Big Announcement!

Habeas Corpses, marketing, publishing, writing life December 7, 2012

Drum roll please… Okay, just imagine one or something. Just lots of fanfare and whatnot and whatever you do, DO NOT imagine me doing an obnoxious happy dance. Because I don’t need to pay the therapy bills for that mental anguish.

On to business!!

I’m thrilled to finally be able to announce that I’ve signed with Blood Bound Books to publish my horror novel, HABEAS CORPSES.

Yes, they chose to keep a variation of my working title. I’m very happy about that, since it took a long time and a genius suggestion from a good friend to end up with that title.

Editing fun!

Editing fun!


We’re in the editing stages now and I’m lucky to be working with RJ Cavender. I’ll write a blog post about the process in the near future, but for now I’ll just say that this will be a better, stronger story with his guidance. I have a graduate degree in writing, but I’m learning a ton while doing these edits.

I can’t wait for everyone to meet my zombie.

I’ll keep everyone updated on artwork and release dates from here at the blog and also on my website. I’m absolutely thrilled to be working with everyone at Blood Bound Books and can’t wait to share this story with everyone!