Sunday, October 15, 2017
Thursday, October 12, 2017
Imagine having a dream so big, so vivid, that you feel disappointed when it ends. Or when you know that you have to wake up at some point. It’s a dream. Dreams don’t ever come true.
Every waking moment feels sheer drudgery. Without that essence of a dream, life becomes melancholic. Bland, even. Real life is far from fiction, that much is blatantly obvious. Real life, all those moments encompassed in a day, all of it is beyond control.
In the fiction world, there is safety in knowing that the world will only collapse when you want it to. When it gets too much, there is that sense of relief, that all of it will not engulf you and destroy the characteristics that made you, you.
Fiction world is where sanity exists. It is where happiness lies. It’s a dream that doesn’t depend on waking up.
As a writer, I’ve had many such realizations, epiphany too sometimes. It is not an easy road to travel. The words in my head turned into a story that needed to be written. The story became my excuse to regain some of my sanity when things in my real life got too hard. I escaped, found solace in a world created by my imagination. The characters- some of them were my friends, the protagonist was me.
Everything seemed so easy at first. Write what you want, shape a story the way you want to, create the characters and give them your chosen personalities. It was fun. I was writing and I was always having fun.
The characters were given the breath of life, the story was mystical, I found out that I did somewhat have a knack for creating stories. Unique, dark, funny.
It is when the final word is written in the manuscript when the full stop is added, that is when the real world, rips open your imaginative world and drags you out. The real world is heartless and not afraid to show the truth.
Because the truth is, the story that I fell in love with, the characters I birthed, needed someone to bring it to the people- the readers. Not every publisher was willing to sign. Not everyone found my cherished stories appealing. There were a lot of rejections.
There were some cruel moments- I was offered a contract for my first story, then told months later that the company had dissolved and the rights were being returned to the authors. I hadn’t received mine on time and had wasted months not sending it off to another publisher.
Opportunity came knocking and I finally found an epublisher who offered me a contract. I sold a few books, people were reading and reviewing my stories on a popular ebook store.
Then things turned again. After my third published book, the online bookstore suddenly closed down. The publishing company’s marketing team broke up. Suddenly there were no promotions being done. No good site where people would buy books.
Another career setback. I thought things would be easy as a writer. I really did.
There were arguments, frustrations and finally after my fourth book, I sought another publisher. Things went awry again. The publishers weren’t that honest with their sales reports. I was never paid and had to go find another one.
I did. Then I found that company had been sued by a disgruntled author. I had already signed and the owners sold the company. The new owners delayed the release of my book for a year, then did nothing to promote it from their side.
Eventually I found a fourth publisher, and finally, they were easy to work with and thorough professionals. Of course, in spite of it all, I was hit by a terrifying realization. As an author, my job role didn’t only consist of writing stories but also promoting my work.
I have a marketing degree, so it should have been easy right? Nope.
It’s hard getting a book noticed by readers and harder still to garner enough of their interests to generate sales.
The world had changes distractedly and now, most readers preferred the lazy option: free books or wait for bestsellers to be made into movies. No one has any time to read and discover new writing and authors anymore.
But the words have not stopped knocking on the door of my imagination. My characters still beg to breathe. I can’t stop writing, but I can also no longer make it my only career option. After all, if I write it all, create a world of fantasy and horror, who will read it?
Change begets change. The world has changed and so must I.
Tuesday, October 10, 2017
Monday, October 2, 2017
Imagine having the chance to make wishes and have them all come true.
What’s the first wish that comes to your mind?
Now wait, there’s a string attached. You can make only seven wishes. All of them are guaranteed to come true. This is when your desires are bottle-necked. As humans we have so many desires, all of it to make our lives easier. Since we can only make a limited amount of wishes, a few of them will have to be crossed out to make place for others that will enrich your life.
Okay, now that all the wishes have been listed down, here’s another catch- all your wishes will come true, BUT there’s a blood price.
Do you still want to make wishes? Are you that desperate to make them?
Apparently, Clare is desperate enough to not care.
Wish upon begins with a woman throwing away a wrapped parcel in the garbage can. Then she goes into the house and hangs herself, in the presence of her little daughter.
Years later, Clare awakens from this very nightmare. It was no dream. Her mother had committed suicide in front of her. Her life is a complete mess. Her father scavenges dumpsters for things he hoards in the house, much to Clare’s embarrassment because he does that right across from her school.
Her school life is far worse. She’s bullied by the popular clique, but luckily she has two friends to lean on.
High school hasn’t changed much, it seems. The bratty girls, still call girls names and throw trash at them. But at least Clare is not a complete pushover and hits back at her bullies. However, she does pine for a boy who already has a girlfriend, who in turn is also one of her tormentors.
Clare’s father is the one who brings the ornate Chinese box into the house, even cleans it and props it right on her bed. Clare accidentally touches it and makes her first wish- for her bully to rot.
The wish comes true and her bully starts to rot. Unknown to Clare, the blood price is paid, her dog is killed.
As Clare makes more wishes, she gets to live in a mansion, has a boy fall in love with her. But in doing so, she starts to lose all the people who had loved her for who she was and not who she became.
Having all your wishes come true, apparently, changes and destroys the good in you.
When all the facts are made known to Clare, she is unable to give up her life and keeps the box. Her sixth wish- to bring back her mother. The blood price? Her father.
Left with only one wish, she desperately asks to be sent back to before she found the box. The wish comes true and all should have been well had she simply destroyed it instead of giving it away to a friend to dump it into the river.
The blood price is paid once again. Clare is hit by a car and is instantly killed, and ironically, it is through her bully. Apparently, the evil spirit encased in the box is thought to possess the soul of the wish maker.
In the end, her friend contemplates throwing the box in the river. He can make seven wishes now. He doesn’t know the catastrophic events that had played out because he too was brought back in time.
The choice he makes will decide whether or not there will be a sequel.
Wish Upon is one of those movies that scares in a way that it mirrors the true conflicts processed in our minds.
Life is complicated, tough, heartbreaking. Imagine having the power to have all your problems solved? There is a price for everything and it was eyeopening to see Clare’s confusion and then her desperate reaction.
She does amend her mistakes at the very end, but it took not her friends’ lives, but the life of her father. That was what made her realize the despicable mistake she had made. It’s that kind of horror, where a person can be so desperate for a good life that they show no concern or remorse for others. It makes you gasp, really.
But Clare is human. Her character is relatable though her choices her poorly made.
Like her friend jokes in the movie: why not simply wish for world peace?
Sunday, October 1, 2017
Friday, September 29, 2017
One thing can be said with absolute certainty of this year’s movies: Stories are what make successful movies.
It doesn’t matter if a big star is attached to a project or the elements of various successful movies are coalesced into making one, without a good story, both Hollywood and Bollywood, saw a sharp decline in business.
Good stories, good writing, is essential. Period.
While making sequels, plots can become thin and the filmmakers often rely on the “cult” following of a franchise for the movie to work. The characters, then, become caricatures. The frightening scenes tend to become unnecessarily gory. The story makes no sense.
Fortunately, even after all these years, the Chucky movies, are still not stale. They may not be for everyone, and it does become unintentionally funny at times and even absurd, but for fans of the series, it is another movie that slides right into place.
It has all the elements of the franchise- the creepy doll, the vicious girlfriend Tiffany, the mindless killing and the gimmicky get away.
The movie begins with Andy, the little boy in Child’s play, who is all grown up and struggling in the dating world. After being dumped by a woman who had researched him online, and knew all about his freaky history, Andy goes back home to a half-blown-up Chucky head. Depressingly, that is his only companion.
Meanwhile, Nica, the woman from the previous part, is shown to be in a mental asylum, charged for killing her family. Of course, Chucky was behind it all but no one believes her. The doctor eventually brings a Good Guy doll, as a therapy aid, and one of the other patients takes a liking to it, much to Nica’s horror.
The doll comes to life, which comes as a little surprise because, then, what was that head thing in Andy’s safe?
Turns out, Chucky is using a spell to awaken other dolls like him and has them go after whoever he gets interested in. Why doesn’t he kill a paraplegic woman? That’s because Chucky wants to possess her, as it is revealed later on.
The killings happen in the most outlandish manner. There is blood, lots of it, but not enough to make you want to vomit at the sight of it. Decapitations, smashing of skulls. there’s a lot more of it and all of it looks implausible and at times, even comical.
Andy, having heard of the bizarre happenings at the asylum, commits himself too. But he has a plan. He has sent one of the Chucky dolls, with a weird haircut, in. And inside it, he has hidden a gun. Andy manages to get a kill but is locked in the asylum.
Meanwhile, Nica is possessed by the spirit of Chucky and walks out of the asylum, joining Tiffany. For a second, we see Tiffany feel remorseful for being part of a girl being after she too was possessed by Chucky. But that is only momentarily.
The film ends with a woman enter Andy’s house with a knife, come to torture Chucky’s deformed head. She is revealed to be Andy’s foster sister Kyle.
The film had some interesting moments but one can’t help but wonder where are all the dolls coming from. How is that a doll, that was manufactured decades ago, still available? Where are they finding at least three Good Guy dolls? Especially considering it was linked to all those bizarre murders?
Anyway, one can’t help but not hate Chucky that much. He’s evil and murderous, but its doll face sort of has a likable quality to it. He’s spouting curse words and that makes you laugh. He lunges at his victim and you snicker because, seriously, it’s a doll! How is it not easily overpowered?
But that’s the thing about the Chucky movies. It’s so weird, you watch it if only for a giggle or two.
She wasn’t breathing—not properly at least. The air would enter her windpipe but form a lump in her lungs that would slowly spread only seconds later. Another lump of air burned in her lungs before supplying her clenched body with oxygen. Her stomach was stiff and her limbs were numb.
When more air entered through her slightly open mouth, it didn’t enter her lungs; rather it lodged in her throat where it constricted her muscles.
Maya opened her eyes and started to cough and fresh air entered her lungs. She could breathe again, but only barely.
Rolling over to her side, with her head raised, she was attacked by another bout of coughing that hurt her throat and chest.
Between coughs, she took in big gulps of air and felt her muscles relax and invigorate.
A hand patted her on her back and Maya stiffened. She looked down and saw the hem of a white chiffon dress. She turned to see the old woman look down upon her with concern.
Maya let out a small scream and dragged herself away. The old woman didn’t seem perturbed by her reaction, instead she turned away and picked up her wide comb. Gathering her hair with one hand, she started to comb with the other while singing softly again.
In the moonlight, her tendrils looked like silver threads and Maya found herself being mesmerized by her long hair. It took her several seconds to register that the old woman had used her silver long hair to strangle her. And her face had turned...
In a stupor, she stared at the old woman whose face looked kind in the soft light of the moon.
“You tried to kill me.” The words had left her mouth before she could stop herself.
The woman’s hand paused as she combed her hair and so did her humming. She had heard her, yet when she resumed combing her hair, Maya realized the woman was ignoring her.
She pushed herself away from her, watching for any change in expression. The old woman had begun singing again, her voice so soft and comforting, as if she were singing a lullaby to a child.
Maya’s eyelids grew heavier and she fought hard to not be drawn back in. A voice was awakening in her mind, telling her about going back to the old woman and fall asleep in her lap. She would never have her mother’s love, but she could have this—a dreamless night’s sleep free from all her troubles. The voice egged her on, telling her to stop thinking of ever escaping these woods.
“Don’t go,” The wind whispered in her ear.
“No,” Maya told herself and then again, firmly.
This was all a mirage of lies, a trick to hold her back.
She forced herself to remember how grotesque the old woman’s face had become and how she had tried to strangle her with her silvery hair.
Her limbs gathered up all her energy and made her stand up. She had to run as fast as she could, but something was still holding her back.
The old woman seemed not to have noticed her predicament or her movements since she had veiled the side of her face with her own hair.
Maya stepped back as soft-footed as she could manage. She cursed her heels and wished she had worn something more practical like sneakers. Raising one leg, she used her hands to unstrap her heels. Her fingers deftly unbuckled and pulled off the shoe and she repeated this with the other..
With her heels in her hands, she gazed at the woman who remained oblivious of her movements and her plans to escape.
She took another step back, wincing as the soles of her feet scraped against a thorn. Taking a deep breath, she whirled and began running when she heard a voice.
“Don’t leave me.” The voice was familiar and Maya immediately stopped in her tracks.
She looked at the old woman and saw her with despair in her eyes.
“Please don’t leave me here alone.” The old woman begged.
Maya blinked at the old woman whose voice was now that of her mother’s. For a fleeting second her face had morphed into her mother’s as well.
She raised up her hand, beckoning her and Maya could do nothing but stare with utter disbelief.
“You’re not my mother,” She managed through numb lips. The energy had been zapped out of her limbs again and she was standing only because she was incapable of any other movement.
“No, but I can give you a mother’s love,” The old woman said sadly. “I used to have children, two of them. A son and a daughter. I loved them so much.”
“Wh-what happened to them?” Maya asked.
“They wanted to leave me.” Her tone had changed though it still sounded like her mother’s voice. She turned so that she was now standing face to face with her. “So I killed them.”
Maya felt a cold shiver run down her chest to her stomach. The woman’s eyes were no longer kind. It had darkened into a well of madness and a wide grin appeared on her face.
Maya gasped and stepped back, but still couldn’t make herself escape this place.
The old woman raised one pointed finger up at the sky. “Until I don’t bring their souls back with me. they won’t let me in.”
“Who won’t let you in?”
“They.” The old woman tilted her head, her silver hair swaying as the cold breeze of the night brushed against them.
“But I can’t find them.” The old woman put both hands on her head and then straightened when her eyes fixed on her. “You’re here.”
“I’m not your daughter,” Maya replied, finding her voice.
The old woman appeared dejected. “I know. But then how do I leave this place?”
The old woman waved her hand around their surroundings. “I don’t want to be here any longer.”
“Please don’t kill me!” Maya sobbed. “Please...”
The old woman gave a kind smile. She stepped closer and put one of her taloned hand on her head, smoothing he hair.
“It’s not you. I thought you were. It’s one of your friends.”
“What?” Maya asked, rattled by her words. She wanted to pull away but was afraid she may anger the mad woman.
“One of your friends will die tonight,” She continued, speaking to her as if she were soothing a crying child. “It’s not you.”
“Who’s going to die, and how do you know? Please don’t kill them!” Maya rambled.
The old woman turned away, her silver hair swayed in the gentle breeze.
“Someone will die tonight. .”
Maya saw the woman stretch out her arm. “It’s a message rushing through my veins. One of them will meet their demise tonight.”
“I have to find my friends,” Maya said, more to herself.
The old woman stiffened. “I can feel it now. They are close.”
“What? Who?” Maya wanted to grab the woman and shake her until she revealed more, but the image of being strangled by silver hair returned and she paused.
“The one who’s going to die,” The old woman said, her voice devoid of emotion. She dropped her shoulders and bent her legs. When she turned with her clawed hands before her, Maya was reminded of a wild animal getting ready to charge and pounce on its victim.
The old woman’s face morphed into a demon’s. Her purplish skin looked wrinkled and stretched, while her eyes had turned into a fiery red glow. She opened her mouth and saw pointed needles instead of teeth.
Maya fell on the ground at the sight of such a demonic person. He heart turned cold and she held her breath when the creature before her opened her mouth.
Maya uttered a shrill scream and found herself being swept back by an invisible force. She struck a tree and hit her back on a rock, but was too frightened to feel the pain or the wetness of blood pouring down her back.
Her eyes searched for the demonic creature and found her walking with hoofed feet towards a grove.
“Don’t kill...” Maya tried to say, but the creature didn’t hear her.
With the last of her strength, Maya opened her mouth and screamed.
“Run! She’s coming after you! She’ll kill you!”
The demonic creature turned its head to look at her and then gave a low hoarse chuckle before going in search of its victim.
Saturday, September 23, 2017
There are tests and then there are tests
When seven high school students fail their finals, it gives three bumbling scientists a chance to try their new experiment on them.
All the students have to do is pass the test.
All the scientists have to do is, inject them with the right serum.
But of course, nothing goes according to plan.
Check out my short story SINFULLY STUPID SEVEN here:
Tuesday, September 19, 2017
Seven years ago, my book ‘FRANCESCA AND ELIZA’ had been published. At that time I was super proud and excited about it. I felt that though it wasn’t the best story I had written (because I thought REPEATED LIVES was supreme), it was the longest one I had written. It was about 40,000 words.
Nowadays, of course, I’m writing books that are three times longer than that.
At first, I was going to scrap the story. Midway, while writing it, I had lost my passion for the theme and decided to start on another idea that was slowly developing in my mind (That was, AWAKENED ONE NIGHT). But when my editor contacted me, asking me if I had another book in the works, I was in a pickle. The story I wanted to write, hadn’t been planned out at all. I only had Francesca and Eliza that was somewhat ready. I just needed an ending.
I told my editor, that yes, I had one that I was going to send in. In a matter of few days, Francesca and Eliza had an ending and I sent it, biting my nails as I did so because I wasn’t sure it was written the way I had imagined it.
Later on, during the editing process, I did read the story as a whole, something I hadn’t done before. Yes, it was an amateur move. I read the whole thing in a day and was pleasantly surprised. The ending had written on a whim but it worked! It was my first story that had a plot twist that I felt my readers won’t see coming.
That day I learned that subconsciously, I had written out the whole story in my mind and it was perfect the way it was.
Seven years later, when I was told that a second edition was being planned, the nervousness returned. I like to believe that I have matured as a writer and reading one of my earlier works, filled me with anxiety. What if it isn’t as good as I thought it would be? What if, my foundation as a writer was weak?
I started work on the edits, yet again, and this time I read it as I wanted my readers to read it: with a keen, careful eye. I’ll admit, it isn’t the best story I’ve written. The best one, the one I am damn proud of, is yet to be published. It’s all ready for a suitable publisher.
But, for a young adult/dark fantasy, novella, I was proud to have written something like Francesca and Eliza. I had forgotten what I had done with this story, and how I had ended it, so while reading it, I found myself waiting to find out what happened next.
It had the pace every novella should have and it mystical elements in it, without delving too deep into the dark arts. The characters had different personalities, the leads were unique. As soon as I finished reading it and making minute changes, I could send it back to my editor with confidence and pride.
This is a book that I am proud of. I loved the cover when it first came out and I am happy that the second edition cover came out well, too. All thanks to my editor, of course.
FRANCESCA AND ELIZA is an enjoyable read, that much I can promise. The twist will take you by surprise, as it did me, even after seven years.
See for yourself. Get it at a special price on the CLP website
See for yourself. Get it at a special price on the CLP website
Monday, September 18, 2017
A creepy looking doll, possessed by a deranged woman, stalks and kills people. A shuddersome concept, right?
When Annabelle came out in 2014, I couldn’t wait to watch it. The Conjuring had been scary for me and I had hoped Annabelle would give me nightmares. It had the potential to do so considering the concept. But what it had turned out to be was an insipid movie that was frustrating to watch. The doll wouldn’t even blink. The so-called ‘horror’ scenes were just bland.
When the sequel was announced, I wasn’t going to bother with it, as I expected it to be just as dull as the first.
Miraculously, it is actually NOT dull. The story takes place long before the first when the doll was created by Samuel Mullins. He did have a happy family: a beautiful, compassionate wife and a sweet little seven-year-old girl, he calls Bee.
Then a horrible accident takes place and Bee is killed.
Twelve years later, the Mullins lend their home to a nun who has no other place to take the orphaned girls. One of the girls, Janice, has polio and Samuel generously offers to let her use the chairlift to go upstairs. The older girls don’t play nice with Janice and her best friend Linda. The two only have each other and promise to never be separated even if one of them gets adopted.
There is that cliched tacit rule of not opening one of the doors in the house, one that Janice breaks anyway. In there, is where she finds the doll.
From here on, the doll keeps calling out to Janice in eerie ways, threatening to possess her. Janice must use her faith to not fall prey to the evil doll. Unfortunately, it isn’t enough. She does get possessed and it is up to Linda to try and get her friend back.
She fails at doing so. The doll is possessed not by the Mullins’ daughter who was named Annabelle, but by a demon who had tricked the parents into thinking it was her. The demon needed punishment to haunt them. How nice.
A story to learn: Never ever invite any ghost/demon to stay. People keep making that mistake with the Annabelle doll for some reason. Just say no and no evil supernatural forces will be invited to haunt you.
Back to the movie, the movie doesn’t do much to create suspense or frightening scenes. In fact, in the first half, the camera work gives the impression of sitting on a roller coaster. However, the first half does have a ‘put-your-popcorn-bowl-to-the-side’ moment when Annabelle makes her presence known. The scenes in the bedroom are creepy and nightmare-inducing.
The second half lags and disappoints. The intentions of the demon are not made clear. He wants to kill or wreak havoc? He already has the doll, has already possessed Janice, what does it want to do exactly?
And if it does require an invitation, when exactly did Janice give permission to enter her? Or does it only work if the demon wants to enter the doll? In one instance it’s the doll, in the other, it possesses a scarecrow. If it is that powerful to be in two places at once, why doesn’t it manage to actually kill?
Not that I would want the girls to be hurt, but when you have a villain, in this case, a demon, you want to know why it does what it does. And how exactly.
It doesn’t help that the tired old scenes of being dragged back, is plentiful in this movie. After some time, it gets boring and there really is nothing new in here to frighten and haunt your dreams.
I also felt it tried too hard to connect to the movies it has spun off from. The photograph of the nun (The Conjuring 2) and the last scene that connects it to the first Annabelle movie- most of it didn’t seem required considering Janice looks nothing like the deranged killer who attacks in the first movie.
I did like the way the actual Annabelle doll was gifted to Janice by her adoptive parents. The original Annabelle doll was pretty innocent looking but that poor thing didn’t have the ‘looks’ to make it as the protagonist of horror movies. Poor thing!
The movie could have been scarier. It could have defined the antagonist better. The second half needed better writing. Otherwise, most of it has been seen in other horror movies and can be quite repetitive.
Still, the acting is good and the Annabelle doll does look scary.
Especially when it turns to look at you. Right at the very end.
Friday, September 15, 2017
Are you ready for journeys to all sorts of different worlds? Where experimentation runs amok, or invaders run afoul of humans determined to protect their homes? Can a pill or pills give people intelligence? Can a single entity save the galaxy? What happens in between? Does darkness really rein in the universe?
Can The Warp save Earth?
Darkness has a new name
Destinies link in the In-Between
Hairy science, hybrid secrets
There are tests and then there are tests
We are survivors!
Six science fiction tales that cover the spectrum from speculation to far off worlds. Eric Ian Steele, Rob McLachlan, Tanya Reimer, Josie Montano, Palvi Sharma, and K.C. Sprayberry bring you stories that will send shivers up and down your spine while entertaining you.
Delve into these stories. Get it on Amazon