Welcome to my blog!

Welcome to my blog! This is my journey, my first steps into the world of fictional writing. This blog is an online journal of sorts, where I share the progress of my work as well as what I have learned along the way. I hope you enjoy your time with me and that my experience may be of some use to you.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

BOOTCAMP LESSON 7: Modernization

Welcome back!


Time for the latest installment of BOOTCAMP! This month we have a very special Halloween inspired lesson, which will focus on how to modernize old characters and bring them up to date with today’s market. The game is appropriately called Revamp!


Lesson 7: Modernization


Horror is known for many of its classical protagonists, such as vampires, werewolves, ghosts and witches. Sadly, these characters have been done to death. Readers have grown so accustomed to these old staples of horror, that they have become indifferent to them. Publishers may be wary about accepting submissions involving these creatures, concerned that stories starring them will not do so well on the market.


It is therefore the writer's task to take these classic, pre-established monsters and recreate them in an original way, making them relevant to a modern audience. So let's dust them off and breath new life into them!


The goal of today’s writing game will be to take the offered candidates and find an interesting and different way of working them into a story, all while staying true to their original roots. (Please note that the following candidates are based off of modern day caricatures, and are in no way meant to reflect anyone's opinions)


So, here are today's guidelines!


  1. Below are five "candidates" to work with.
  2. Following each candidates are five popular, descriptive traits.
  3. Write a short story for each candidate.
  4. Each candidate must be modernized by changing their traits;
    1. Three of their original traits must remained unchanged.
    2. Two of their original traits must slightly modified.
    3. One new and unrelated tait must be added.
  5. Within each short story you will write, you must demonstrate how they differ from their original counterparts, while remaining true to the source material.
  6. All five short story must have a limit of one page each.


Candidates:


Candidate 1: Vampires
Trait 1: Survive by biting the necks of their victims with their fangs, then draining them of blood.
Trait 2: Cannot be out in the sun or will burn to death.
Trait 3: Do not age and are basically immortal.
Trait 4: No reflections in mirrors.
Trait 5: Can manipulate the weak minded through hypnosis or a form of mind control.


Candidate 2: Werewolves
Trait 1: Is a human host cursed with Lycanthropy.
Trait 2: Transforms into a Human/Wolf hybrid.
Trait 3: Only transforms on the night of a full moon.
Trait 4: Can regenerate any kind of wound, even if fatal.
Trait 5: Can only be hurt with weapons made of silver.



Candidate 3: Ghosts
Trait 1: Invisible to the naked eye, though can be seen by children and animals.
Trait 2: Incorporeal, can walk through walls or float through floors.
Trait 3: Manifest themselves with the appearance and personality of the people they once were.
Trait 4: Can possess and control  the living.
Trait 5: Can affect electronics.


Candidate 4: Zombies
Trait 1: Is a reanimated corpse, constantly hungry for the flesh of the living.
Trait 2: Bitten victims are stricken with a fever, die, then are revived as a zombie themselves.
Trait 3: Has little in terms of brain function beyond motor skills and recognition of prey.
Trait 4: Has no vital signs, sense of self-preservation and is not affected by injury or disease.
Trait 5: Can be killed by fire or destroying the brain.


Candidate 5: Witches
Trait 1: Are experts in the mystic arts, like spellcasting, curses and alchemy.
Trait 2: Practice magic through religion, such as satanism or paganism.
Trait 3: They have pet familiars, often in the forms of cats, rats, crows or so on.
Trait 4: Fly around on broomsticks.
Trait 5: Often prey on the weak, manipulating them through trickery.




For those who aren’t afraid to share their entries, feel free to submit your entries as a reply to this post. Remember, this is a game, so no posting bad comments about other people's entries. If some simply want to share in private, send me a message via twitter @OzmosisCoH.


Now go! Create! And most importantly, have fun!


Until Next time!


Cheers,


Patrick Osborne

Friday, October 23, 2015

By the Book: Ghost Moon



Welcome back!

This “By the Book” post comes to you a bit out of sync, as it was originally meant to be the book review for September. However, when I realised that Halloween was just around the corner, I decided to hold onto it for a little while longer in order to share it for October.

           The reason for the delay is simple; this book takes place in a Paranormal setting. What better type of book to review on the month of ghosts, maniacs, creepy crawlies and other things that go bump in the night! This review is another first for me, as it is the first Paranormal Mystery I have ever read. The experience was different for sure, but not in a way I expected.
The story revolves around a woman named Kelsey Donovan and a Detective named Liam Beckett. The two knew each other when they were younger, but were separated after the mysterious death of Kelsey’s mother. Years later, Kelsey’s grandfather , Cutter Merlin, died under mysterious circumstances, bequeathing her all his worldly belongings in the process. Now in the possession of Cutter’s mansion and plethora of arcane artifacts, Kelsey, Liam and friends must uncover who killed the old man and why.



Front Cover


Back of the Book:
“Reclusive collector Cutter Merlin is seldom seen in Key West—lately, not at all. Officer Liam Beckett visits Merlin's curious house and discovers the gentleman in his study. In his death grip: a volume of occult lore and a reliquary. His eyes are wide with fright, his mouth a horrified rictus where spiders now dwell.

Kelsey Donovan returns to the old house to catalog her estranged grandfather's collection of artifacts and antiquities, vowing to see his treasures divested properly. But she cannot ignore the sense that she's being watched, the reports of malevolent black figures, the pervasive smell of death.

Is the Merlin house haunted, even cursed? Liam knows well that some ghost stories are true and he swears to protect Kelsey. But there are forces at work for whom one more life is a pittance to pay for their deepest desire….”


What I learned from this book:
  • Subliminal Visualization: Never underestimate the power of subliminal messaging! Though this may not have been the intention of the author, the physical appearance of the main detective was locked in my mind the moment i saw his name; Liam Beckett. For those of you who still wondering how this happened, my mind immediately associated Liam Beckett to Liam Neeson. Again, this may not have been the intention of the author, but I found this phenomenon quite intriguing, and am wondering on how I can play with it in my own future endeavors.
  • Dramatic Tone and Style: I believe Heather Graham has mastered the art of dialogue, as the conversations between characters flow in a way that feels natural. She also has the occasional pause, which we all do in conversation at one time or another.
  • Sticking to the theme: This is my first paranormal mystery ever, but as an avid sci-fi/horror fan, I was expecting way more in regards to supernatural content from a book that was supposed to be paranormal in nature. In fact, take away the “friendly ghosts” in this story (if I am not mistaken, there are only 5 mentioned), then this book reads pretty much like any other crime mystery. Remove the ghosts from the story, and all you have is a wannabe Satanist as a killer, and an old creepy house full of antiques.

For those interested in learning more about the author, Heather Graham, please check out her websites here:



In closing, I would like to thank my wife Linda and her family for not only lending us books, but for the tremendous amount of encouragement in this endeavor.

Until next time!

Cheers,

Patrick Osborne

Monday, October 19, 2015

Interview - catt dahman


Welcome back!


I am very excited about this month's writer interview, because I don’t think I could have found a better suited candidate for a Halloween theme. So it is my great pleasure to introduce you, the well established horror writer, catt dahman.


Like last month’s writer   showcase, I was lucky to meet catt dahman via the Facebook page called The Better Writer’s Group, and was kind enough to volunteer for my writer interviews. After taking a look at the list of books she had written, I immediately knew she had to be my October interview! Here are but a few of the nvels she has worked on.




 
Short Bio:  catt dahman, a native Texan, is a prolific horror writer with Severed Press and J Ellington Ashton. She writes extreme horror (splattergore), mainstream horror, has a crime series, several prehistoric thriller novels, a zombie series, and historical horror. With degrees in psychology from Texas A&M, she delves into the personalities of her characters and the depravity of the human mind. She has over forty novels available, appears in several anthologies, and has more pending. One of her biggest accomplishments, over thirty years of writing, is working in the area of splatter punk and extreme horror, an area that she was once told was out-of-reach because of her gender. She participates in conventions and book-signings regularly where she speaks at panel discussions and likes meeting horror fanatics.
 
Published Works:  

Current Projects: Cold Hunger (With D. A. Roberts), The Trident, Blood Tradition


Website:
Live podcat Friday nights at : http://www.blogtalkradio.com/wickedlittlethings



When did you begin writing?

In junior high school, high school, and some of college I wrote but I was involved in speech-writing/competition, journalism, and debate. I wrote novels in my 20s, 30s and early 40s but put them in boxes. I began my true career all one year when I hired an editor, released a few things, and sold 9 books of a series to Severed Press. I was very fortunate to find a publisher right out of the gates. From there, everything exploded for me and I almost had too much too soon and nearly fell into that mindset of immediate expectation.

Did you receive any special training or attend a school?

I have almost a PhD in psychology with criminology background with a sociology minor. Besides that I have a teaching license in art and English. Besides the many research papers I penned, the psychology trained me for writing more than almost anything else. I taught English grammar and literature for grades 4-8 and college. I am qualified to teach psychology at the college level as well.

Where do you get your inspiration from?  
I generally take ideas from real life stories or three random ideas and then combine them. History and science usually influence my main stream horror and criminal psychology influences my crime series. I can’t think of many of my books that the three have not been a part of. In style, I think I have been inspired by Stephen King, Richard Laymon, Iva Levin, and Thomas Tryone. All of the horror writers I read inspired me. I was a great fan of the short story collections popular long ago as Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and was always a fan of both literary and pop horror.

Do you use any special resources when writing? (other books, computer programs, etc)

It helps to have tons of books covering themes to include scuba diving, poisons, serial killers, science, and history. I do a great deal of research on the computer, interviews, and have more strange experiences that I should admit.

What is (in your opinion) the most important thing to remember when writing, and why is it so important?

There is a huge difference between story-telling and writing and each can be modified or they can be merged for written product. Writing is work. I also don’t put a schedule on my work. At times I can crank out a novel in weeks with long days of writing 12+ hours a day but at other times, may not write for a few weeks at all. Pushing myself to write never benefits me and I have learned to write then I feel the ideas are fresh. The biggest idea here is that no one writing style is the best and that we all operate differently. Some writers get dressed, sit in a quiet office and write in the morning; I write in sweats with a crime show on television, and during the late night hours. It doesn’t matter what we do to get there as long as we arrive on time.

What is (in your opinion) the most challenging part of writing, and how do you overcome it?


For me, it was in finding that not everyone who wishes to write is truly a writer. I read a lot to keep up with trends and compare styles and themes and there is a huge difference between learned writing (and the dreaded unlearned writing) and a true gift for writing. My challenge has been to stop doubting myself and my abilities and to just let the books roll out. My biggest fear was that I would only have one or five book ideas but I am (thankfully) over that fear with more than forty books available already. My biggest trial has been learning to say no. The second I found the smallest success and to this day, I get a lot of people who want to “edit me”, want me to beta read, mentor them, rewrite their books, review, etc. I don’t have the time and legally, it’s best to not do most of those things.

Did you use an agent? (why or why not?)

For film right, yes. For writing, no. The former is impossible for me to understand and the latter is something I learned myself. I can sell my work.

Did you use an Editor? If not, what process did you use to edit your work?

A million times: YES!  I think I toss 99% of the books I see on Kindle now due to shoddy content (story, characters, style) and poor grammar. Many claim to have beta readers and editors (I suspect spouses, friends, people who made an A in English) and the mistakes are horrific. Having a true editor for content and grammar is necessary for ANY writer. Period. Unfortunately, everyone feels he is an editor and I have had readers write to me and complain about issues that are correct but suddenly up for debate. These people have read mistakes so often that they think the mistakes are the right form. I have learned to write for writers and editors (and thus readers as well) but a few individuals write for readers or for themselves. Want-to be editors are cheerleaders and urge writers to write the story for themselves and any way they want while quoting pop rules; this is a disservice to any aspiring writer. I am edited by professional editors and skip beta readers and friends who wish to help. While I have read that some people claim editors “ruin their voice”, I have never seen that for myself or for any other writing with clean grammar and content. At this stage in my life, I don’t think I ever wish to read works unedited by professional editors and I sure would never subject a reader of my work to anything less than polished.

How did you get your book published? (self-published, Vanity publishing, Mainstream publisher).

I have fifteen books with Severed Press and a dozen with J Ellington Ashton Press, and a half dozen independent. Medium to large presses are my only options now but for newer writers, small presses are wonderful and a definite way to get a foot-hold. Make sure the press is at least a few years old, has a good contract, and represents authors who you compare with.

Do you handle your own marketing?

Yes. No one can market a book like the author can. I do interviews, social media, a website, and have done several conventions (booths, panels, etc.). Marketing is less vital than good editing and a professional book cover, but more important is building a strong reader base and a solid branding of your name. It all depends on the goal. If for pure sales, branding and a reader base is all an author needs and even the worst writing can sell enough to make a half-salary a month; it’s probably short term. If a long-term career is desired, the first five to ten years are all about getting quality books released and not worrying about short-term markets.

Do you have any advice for other writers?


A ton, but no one listens to me. Get an education, take Latin, and find out if you are a story teller or a writer and if you have what it takes. Learn about publishing from someone other than pop-sites, learn to read contracts, research publishers, and learn basic grammar. Submit to anthologies (paid and unpaid both help branding). Buy a domain name and host a real website. More than anything, develop a brand that includes being gracious and professional. I can list a dozen mediocre writers who are considered to be pretty great simply because they are gracious and have branded themselves in positive ways. I can list three times that many who are probably fairly good writers and are unpublishable because of their poor branding and social problems. Social media rants, accusations, cursing, and fire-throwing has destroyed many potential careers faster than anything else. Being a writer does not mean we should say certain things and it doesn’t give us a pass. Be gracious, be honest and polite, or be quiet. That helps me.


Hopefully everyone found this interview helpful and informative. I know some good points have been brought up, making me question some aspects about my work. I know I still have a lot to learn, but this interview has made me realise just how much more work I still need to do. The road is long and success is not a guarantee, but then again success is not the reason I started this journey in the first place.


I would also like to give a bloody, gooey heartfelt thanks to catt dahman, for taking the time to take this interview.


Until Next time,






Patrick Osborne

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Inspiration Part 6 - Caverns


Welcome Back!



           I’m very excited to present today’s Inspiration post, because as you will see, it is quite different from everything else I have done so far! I was also saving it for October, given its spooky and eerie appearance!

            While on vacation in late June, the kids and I had the opportunity to go visit an old cave system near our campground. We had visited these caves before but I decided to return, thinking that taking pictures for my blog may help some of my readers,

These underground tunnels are called the “Bonnechere Caves”, and are open to visitors. Please see their website for more information.

In the first set of pictures, we see the descent into the lower levels. Wooden pillars have been erected to help stabilize the ceiling, while stairs made of concrete to facilitate visitors’ access. It does not take long for the sunlight to disappear, so lights were drilled into the rock. The electric cables you see running along the ceiling and floor are to feed the lighting system.

                 

                
                 


               Now having reached the lowest level, we see the main tunnel had wooden planks installed on the floor. Again this is to help facilitate access to the many tourists who visit these caves every year.

           During the tour, our guide demonstrated just how important the artificial lighting was… by turning off the power. The darkness was absolute, as one could not even see their finger while touching their nose.

           These section of the caves also had a strange echo in them. Because of the multiple surfaces and tight spaces, sound seemed to come back to you from every angle. While speaking, your voice could be heard simultaneously from ahead and behind you in the tunnel.

                           

                 
                  


           Now we reach a section of caves that branch off the main tunnel and are not so easily accessible. Though these passages ways still have light, they lack flooring. Visitors are invited to go exploring if they so desire, and if they feel they have sure enough footing. These side paths are considerably smaller than the main tunnel, and I had to crouch low to navigate them. I must admit, that a sense of claustrophobia was building inside me at this point.


                 

                 

             

The last section of the tunnels suffered a cave-in, and now has a blocked off section. For those who are thinking about visiting, do not worry, this happened a long time ago, and the cave system is now supported securely.


These caves were cold and damp, with droplets of water falling from the ceiling. The smell was not of mould, but more like wet gravel. This cave system is also flooded for part of the year, and you can see the various water levels on the walls. The stone was also worn by the centuries of passing water, making the surface both smooth and wave-like. In the following pictures, we also see how the dripping water formed eerie “spin-like” stalagmites on the ceiling.

      

       

           Caves are a location we see often in fiction. Be it dragon dwellings in fantasy novels, a supervillain’s lair in a super-heroic tale, or a dumping ground for dead bodies in a thriller, a cave is often perceived as a bad omen. Its presence triggers instinctual fear, making it a great tool for foreshadowing.

I hope you enjoyed this month’s Inspiration post and that it will be of some use to you in the future.

Until next time.

Cheers,

Patrick Osborne