Tuesday, September 30, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: David C. Smith's DARK MUSE

Another book I recommend for the Halloween season. This is a review I posted on Goodreads and another blogsite about a year ago, but it still holds water. :)





I love discovering new authors. It's almost like when you're a kid at Christmas time and you unwrap a present you didn't necessarily know you wanted but are thrilled you received it. I discovered David C. Smith through friend and owner of Rickert and Beagle Books (in Dormont, PA), Chris Rickert. She invited me to a reading of one of his newer books, Dark Muse. Unfortunately, thanks to a dying car at the time, I wasn't able to make it, but I was interested enough in checking the book out. So I later purchased it from her store and began reading it almost immediately only to be left in shock when all was finished. And I will explain why I do mean that as a good thing.

Dark Muse begins with your typical "everyman", Jack Mathis. He has a decent job as a book editor, a beautiful fiancee (who is also pregnant with their child), and is on his way to carving his niche in life. When he begins to receive genius, yet horrifying, manuscripts at his office, he believes he has hit the jackpot that will make his publishing company a giant moneymaker and many of his co-workers agree. Jack goes out of his way to try and meet with the elusive writer of the stories and little does he know that he will end up with much more than he bargained for. He will also find out that the writer knows much more about Jack and his family than the writer should...

Dark Muse is a page turner. Plain and simple. I would categorize it as being a psychological thriller with some pretty horrifying scenes. Smith's writing is brilliant in the way he handles writing his characters to a point where they do seem like real people and there were times when I did put the book down to make sure all the doors to my place were locked. I very much recommend checking Dark Muse out. It isn't a gorefest by any means, but the storytelling is gripping and the ending did leave me sitting on my couch and staring ahead at the wall for a good few minutes before I was able to bring myself to move again.

I would like to thank Chris of Rickert and Beagle Books for my introduction to David C. Smith. I will be reading more from him in the future.

Dark Muse on Goodreads
Dark Muse on Amazon
Dark Muse at Damnation Books
Rickert & Beagle Books


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You can also subscribe to my YouTube Channel for new vlogging updates.


******

My stories, "The Cemetery by the Lake" and "Dusk to Dawn" are available at Smashwords and Barnes & Noble NOOK. More retailers will follow, but Smashwords is pretty compatible with most e-reader and PC formats.
and Amazon
"The Cemetery by the Lake" at Smashwords and Barnes & Noble NOOK
"Dusk to Dawn" at Smashwords
Tiffany on Goodreads
My music is also available at CDBaby
Support great authors and independent bookstores at Smashwords and Indiebound








Sunday, September 28, 2014

From the Set...

First photo I took from the set of the horror thriller, "The Downfall of Mr. Difford" today when I went to film my part (no, I did not crop the garbage can out...keepin it real). :)  More will come.




If you would like to join our community and receive content exclusive to email, join our little tribe and Subscribe to my Messages from the Labyrinth Mailing List.. We promise to never share your info or spam you. Ever.

You can also subscribe to my YouTube Channel for new vlogging updates.


******

My stories, "The Cemetery by the Lake" and "Dusk to Dawn" are available at Smashwords and Barnes & Noble NOOK. More retailers will follow, but Smashwords is pretty compatible with most e-reader and PC formats.
and Amazon
"The Cemetery by the Lake" at Smashwords and Barnes & Noble NOOK
"Dusk to Dawn" at Smashwords
Tiffany on Goodreads
My music is also available at CDBaby
Support great authors and independent bookstores at Smashwords and Indiebound




Thursday, September 25, 2014

My Thoughts On Reviews

In giving my office space and apartment a cleaning, I came across some early reviews of my music when I first released it. I was fortunate to have it well-received for the most part, but like most things, it wasn't everyone's cup of tea.
Through the years, my attitude toward reviews, both good and bad, has evolved. In the beginning, they were EVERYTHING. Make or break. But in recent times as my skin toughened, here are my thoughts:

I appreciate reviews, whether it's about my music, books, films, or any project I do. I appreciate both the good and bad, because in this industry you pretty much do have to take the good with the bad. When I review someone else's work, I try to do so in a way I would want my own work reviewed. If I enjoy it, I say WHY. If there were aspects of the story/album/film that didn't sit well with me, I say WHY. If I feel it was not categorized properly (and this can actually be more challenging than people think), I suggest another category it might be better for.
Any type of review can be helpful and even negative reviews - if explained well - can allow growth. But what is most important to remember is that a review is the opinion of one person and should never be viewed as a 'be all, end all.' Now, if there is a specific critique of your work that seems to come up frequently anytime someone gives a review, then perhaps this is something that should be considered.
Of course, not everyone is going to 'get' what you are trying to do, and as there are people out there who will find something they love about every piece of entertainment they consume, there are also those who absolutely refuse to enjoy anything they see/read/listen to. And sometimes, there isn't necessarily anything wrong with the work. Sometimes it may simply be a case of something like miscategorizing. Sometimes just changing the category listing can make a world of difference. While I don't dwell on reviews (nor do I recommend anyone doing so), they can be a good way of letting you know how your work is being received and if there is anything - whether it's the quality of the work or how it is being marketed - that might need a little tweaking. There are also times when fans will love one project but not be too crazy about the next.

The thing is, every great musician, writer, artist, filmmaker, etc has received both good and bad reviews. I actually do know many filmmakers, authors, and musicians who take that first bad review of their work as a badge of honor.  To them, a small handful of bad reviews among several good ones basically says 'congratulations...you have now joined the ranks of every successful author/filmmaker/musician/artist who has ever lived.'
As for myself, I've never had a bad review affect my sales or downloads in an averse way, nor have I known anyone to whom that has happened. In fact, I have heard of some instances in which a bad review was actually the reason behind a sales spike/increase during a given week. Now, this isn't to say that you should half-ass your work. Always put your best forward. But also remember that if your work is being overall well-received, then a negative review here and there isn't going to affect it all that much. If it's the other way around though, then perhaps addressing possible issues with the work itself and/or marketing campaign should be considered.

Making and putting out your art is often a lot of trial and error. At times, it can be frustrating. I wish I could say there is a magical method, but there is not. Every musician, author, filmmaker, etc and his or her work is different, therefore requiring different methods of approaching the work in question. Even so-called marketing campaign experts don't always have it right. But the challenge can be a fun and invigorating one if the artist is up for it.

And in closing, feel free to review my work at sites like Smashwords, Goodreads, and CDBaby. :)



If you would like to join our community and receive content exclusive to email, join our little tribe and Subscribe to my Messages from the Labyrinth Mailing List.. We promise to never share your info or spam you. Ever.

You can also subscribe to my YouTube Channel for new vlogging updates.


******

My stories, "The Cemetery by the Lake" and "Dusk to Dawn" are available at Smashwords and Barnes & Noble NOOK. More retailers will follow, but Smashwords is pretty compatible with most e-reader and PC formats.
and Amazon
"The Cemetery by the Lake" at Smashwords and Barnes & Noble NOOK
"Dusk to Dawn" at Smashwords
Tiffany on Goodreads
My music is also available at CDBaby
Support great authors and independent bookstores at Smashwords and Indiebound









Monday, September 22, 2014

Music for the Halloween Season: Clan of Xymox



 So in addition to all the horror/sci-fi/fantasy films out there, what else can help enhance the Halloween season? Music, of course. And one of my favorite albums to listen to at this time of year is the 1985 album from the goth/darkwave/synthpop band, Clan of Xymox (also simply known as Xymox).  There is just something about this album that makes driving through a fall evening with the semi-barren trees and the moon in the night sky with it playing on the car stereo (yes, I'm old-school; vinyl, CDs, etc.) that just really sets a mood. Even driving with it on a cloudy, autumn day sets a real tone for the season.
The album has a dark, nostalgic, other-worldly feel to it. My three favorite songs on the album are "7th Time", "Stranger," and "No Human Can Drown."

You can pick up the album and listen to samples at Amazon (but if you can locate it at your local indpendent music store, even better!):

Clan of Xymox on Amazon

Clan of Xymox Website


SAMPLES OF MY FAVORITES:





Saturday, September 20, 2014

For Shits and Giggles...

...here are three words I absolutely cannot stand and will never use in my writing so long as I can help it (except for this blog post).

No, I do not promote censorship. These are simply stupid little pet peeves of mine. :D

1.) Pamper

It actually bothers me when someone out of diapers says they are going to "pamper themselves" or "I'm being pampered" as a way of saying "I'm taking 'me' time" or "I'm treating myself." Anytime someone says this, I simply assume that they're somehow being diapered. End of story.

2.) Moist

It's just not a nice word. It just isn't.


3.) Bash

This word actually didn't always make me cringe the way the other two had. It just became horribly overused and misused, whether it was being used to mean having a party or belittling someone. Now, I MAY use this word in writing to mean a violent strike (which is the proper definition), but it will never be used to mean the other two aforementioned meanings.

This was my almost 3:00AM rant. Serious blog posts will go up this week.


If you would like to join our community and receive content exclusive to email, join our little tribe and Subscribe to my Messages from the Labyrinth Mailing List.. We promise to never share your info or spam you. Ever.

You can also subscribe to my YouTube Channel for new vlogging updates.


******

My stories, "The Cemetery by the Lake" and "Dusk to Dawn" are available at Smashwords and Barnes & Noble NOOK. More retailers will follow, but Smashwords is pretty compatible with most e-reader and PC formats.
and Amazon
"The Cemetery by the Lake" at Smashwords and Barnes & Noble NOOK
"Dusk to Dawn" at Smashwords
Tiffany on Goodreads
My music is also available at CDBaby
Support great authors and independent bookstores at Smashwords and Indiebound







Sunday, September 14, 2014

On H.P. Lovecraft: The Salon Article or "This Might Offend Someone, Part 3"

Hey all,

As I was browsing my Facebook feed, one of the pages I follow had the article from Salon written by Laura Miller, titled, "It's OK to Admit that H.P. Lovecraft was Racist."

The article is actually well-done, pretty fair, and makes some good points. If you want to check it out, here is the Salon article.

Now, I am a fan of Lovecraft and his stories, but on the same note, I am also not among those who get angry at his flaws being pointed out. Yes, he had some great personal qualities but some not so great as well.

With that said, I was reading some of the comments on Facebook and elsewhere, and of course the "explanation" for his views that are quite prevalent (Milller also addresses such comments in her article) is "well, everyone was racist and sexist and a bigot in his time so it's to be expected."









Okay. *deep cleansing breath* Can we PLEASE stop , using that sweeping generalization? Or any? When you say "everyone" well, it pretty much reads (or tells) as EVERYONE. Meaning that every last person of that time - regardless of their race, gender, class background, sexual orientation, religion, upbringing, etc - were just all terrible, bigoted people who hated everyone. And whether you're intending to or not, by making such a generalization, you are taking away from the many amazing individuals of all backgrounds who fought against the injustices and won. Whether you mean to or not, you are burying their history and treating them as if they never existed.

Now, if you want to point out the discriminating laws that did do a lot of harm, than YES. We can agree on that and discuss it til the cows come home. After all,  a good portion of the injustices that occurred/are occurring within the US as well as the rest of the world did start "at the top" so to speak.
I also think that - to an extent - much of that also depended on what part of the country you were from (though this was/is not always the case, either...there were/are openminded individuals and bigots in both the northern and southern states). And while there sadly were those who became a 'product of the powers that be and their environment', as I have stated many many times, there were also many amazing people of all ethnicities and genders who fought against the injustices. Many from all backgrounds fought for civil rights, there were female aviators, writers, mechanics, and athletes who had the respect of their male peers (an example would be Neta Snook and don't forget the stories of Sylvia Drake and Charity Bryant), and a good portion of the US states had lifted the ban on anti-miscegenation laws well before the final 1967 Supreme Court ruling (and those who did try to ban it nationwide since the founding of the country failed to enforce it every time they tried...so there had to be someone fighting that somewhere). In fact, by the time the U.S. Supreme Court got to it, there were only 16 states left with some kind of anti-miscegenation law (and I say "some kind" because they did vary from state to state as far as their severity went...which is why my forthcoming book Descent was able to have an Irish and Native American union in 19th century Illinois).
I also think we can look at any writer/musician/playwright/filmmaker/artist - both old and modern - and find something about them we don't find favorable or come across some material by them that we may deem 'questionable' or problematic. Hell, I've even seen modern authors and other artists having their works picked apart by those who feel they are racist, misogynist, etc.  Some can move passed the shortcomings and still appreciate the works. Others on the other hand cannot. Either way, it's the consumer's choice.
I think with any era, you have good and you have bad. Every walk of life has those who are racists, misogynists, etc. and those who are not. Every time period and era (including 2014) had those who were bigots along with those who were not and fought against those who were. But a lot of people seem to either want to completely demonize or completely romanticize instead of acknowledging, discussing and learning from both sides of the history (or the person in question). Doing so can lead to more awareness of self and those around you.

And why are sweeping generalizations so dangerous? Well, here is an article on a group of people who have been horribly affected by just that. When I set out to write Rom or "gypsy" characters (and all my characters, for that matter) for my book series, I wanted to do it right and therefore did a lot of research on them and their culture. And...surprise! For the most part, it's not even close to how the mainstream 'represents' them. Nope, "My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding" is not even close to the truth.

Here is an interesting article on misrepresentation and stereotyping of Romani women that was included in part of my research for The Birthrite Series.

I have also decided to - at the end of each of the books in the series - give a small bibliography of my research sources, which also includes knowledge my own family history and heritage (Native American, Irish, and Eastern European) along with books (both fiction and nonfiction), films, documentaries, and conversations I had with those who lived through about the 1920s (great grandparents) to the present.

So case in point, it is not only still possible to enjoy the quality of a person's work while not agreeing with some of their life views and choices, you are also doing a lot more damage than good by making the broad generalizations.

And I chose the Wayne's World gif because it's damn funny and Mike Myers is awesome.



If you would like to join our community and receive content exclusive to email, join our little tribe and Subscribe to my Messages from the Labyrinth Mailing List.. We promise to never share your info or spam you. Ever.

You can also subscribe to my YouTube Channel for new vlogging updates.


******

My stories, "The Cemetery by the Lake" and "Dusk to Dawn" are available at Smashwords and Barnes & Noble NOOK. More retailers will follow, but Smashwords is pretty compatible with most e-reader and PC formats.
and Amazon
"The Cemetery by the Lake" at Smashwords and Barnes & Noble NOOK
"Dusk to Dawn" at Smashwords
Tiffany on Goodreads
My music is also available at CDBaby
Support great authors and independent bookstores at Smashwords and Indiebound








Thursday, September 11, 2014

State of Things: Film, Blogging, and Books

Hey all,

 Hope all is well in the blogasphere.

I'm currently working on two new posts: one being the long awaited Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon and the other about views on the state of things and why I feel so much in our society is - well - bullshit. So much has been in my brain as of late as I look around and process all that is happening around us and in our media. But I also see that in the midst of insanity, there is also a lot of good. I'm also deconstructing the infamous Ban Bossy campaign (not sure if I'm going to include that in the Fifty Shades post or the other or if it will be its own post, but it WILL be going up).

In other news, I'm pushing to get the books Descent and Sared Atonement prepped for release and editing books for a couple other authors. I don't want to give an exact date because that usually jinxes it, but it will be very soon.

I'm also finishing my role in the film Midnight Massacre and on the 28th, I will be going to Ohio to film my part in The Downfall of Mr. Difford (a horror film that's Silence of the Lambs meets American Psycho with a touch of Dexter). We are also in the editing phase for my own film, Driving Nowhere.

So I'm working at getting the new blogposts up next week and the first one and a half books in the Birthrite Series out this month or before Halloween.

I also plan to start reviewing again. May have a music review this weekend. :)

Have a great weekend, everyone!




If you would like to join our community and receive content exclusive to email, join our little tribe and Subscribe to my Messages from the Labyrinth Mailing List.. We promise to never share your info or spam you. Ever.

You can also subscribe to my YouTube Channel for new vlogging updates.


******

My stories, "The Cemetery by the Lake" and "Dusk to Dawn" are available at Smashwords and Barnes & Noble NOOK. More retailers will follow, but Smashwords is pretty compatible with most e-reader and PC formats.
and Amazon
"The Cemetery by the Lake" at Smashwords and Barnes & Noble NOOK
"Dusk to Dawn" at Smashwords
Tiffany on Goodreads
My music is also available at CDBaby
Support great authors and independent bookstores at Smashwords and Indiebound









Sunday, September 7, 2014

New Episode of The Underworld TV: Castle Blood, 2014

The popular and long running haunted attraction, Castle Blood is back for the 2014 Halloween season...and in a 100 year old funeral home! I sat down and caught up with Rick, aka Gravely MacCabre and got a bit of an inside on what they will be up to, not only for their Halloween attraction, but also their year round events. So watch and enjoy, and get more information at http://castleblood.com
Also check them out at Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

If you enjoyed this video, Like, Share, and Subscribe!





If you would like to join our community and receive content exclusive to email, join our little tribe and Subscribe to my Messages from the Labyrinth Mailing List.. We promise to never share your info or spam you. Ever.

You can also subscribe to my YouTube Channel for new vlogging updates.


******

My stories, "The Cemetery by the Lake" and "Dusk to Dawn" are available at Smashwords and Barnes & Noble NOOK. More retailers will follow, but Smashwords is pretty compatible with most e-reader and PC formats.
and Amazon
"The Cemetery by the Lake" at Smashwords and Barnes & Noble NOOK
"Dusk to Dawn" at Smashwords
Tiffany on Goodreads
My music is also available at CDBaby
Support great authors and independent bookstores at Smashwords and Indiebound

Thursday, September 4, 2014

This Might Offend Someone, Part 2

Although this is my blog where I share largely my own thoughts on issues and such, there are times when I see posts on my social networks that really make me happy. And lately, I've been REALLY annoyed, beyond what I typically am, with all the PC policing, the easily offended, the easily outraged, the humorless, etc. All of which, my friends, seem to be very fast spreading diseases.

So while I prepare my books for release, my first YouTube video for the 2014 Halloween season, and my next blogposts (including a couple reviews), enjoy a rant from an awesome facebook friend of mine and a couple videos made by one of my favorite YouTubers, Leahmouse that - yes - offended people that somehow missed the humor behind it:

My Facebook Friend's Rant:

"When did this great, proud nation become such a breeding ground for self-entitled, over-indulged, whiners who claim to be "offended" by everything? This country fought it's way through the Great Depression and survived. My ancestors came here and struggled through tough times to provide good lives for their children. I'm pretty sure they didn't complain and whine and stomp their feet every time they heard a word they didn't like.
My father's father was a German who fought for the Allies in WW2. Imagine the shit he had to endure, constantly being accused of being a spy and a "Kraut Sympathizer". He never curled up into a ball sipping his soy latte. He completed his service, came home, and worked for 40 years.
People are "offended" by every word, every voice inflection, every raise of an eyebrow. People see a flash of skin on TV and lose their minds, as if seeing a breast for a fraction of a second is going to turn their precious, precious children into monsters. Oh wait, their children are too busy with their faces buried in their iPads instead of playing sports, where everyone wins a trophy just for showing up.
Language doesn't offend me. Skin on TV doesn't offend me. You know what does? War, crime, poverty, disease, child abuse, hunger and violence. Those are the things that offend me, and maybe we should stop worrying about the latest "offensive" thing some shock jock in Anaheim said and start addressing those problems, for real.
Oh wait....we can't. Someone might get offended."

 The Videos that Actually had Some People Outraged (Seriously?):





Enjoy not being offended! :D I will be back Monday with a new blogpost. Plus, the first video for the Halloween season will be posted this weekend at my own YouTube Channel.

:) 




Monday, September 1, 2014

"We MUST Stand Upon Our Desks"

Hey everyone.

So I'm back to blogging and making regular posts. A lot has been on my mind lately, and anytime I would start a post, my mind would go off in so many different directions. I guess that's the price of dissecting and deconstructing things too much. :P

The death of Robin Williams also shook me a little. Not only because he was and still is a tremendous influence for me, but also depression does hit pretty close to home. Check out the brief, but very much to the point post my acting teacher and friend Jeff Monahan posted.

I think of all his works, "Dead Poets Society" was the film that influenced me the most. Especially this particular quote:

"I stand upon my desk to remind myself that we must constantly look at things in a different way."

And we most certainly should. This is why I'm constantly dissecting and deconstructing. I always assume that there is more to everything than what we are being told. Very rarely do I take things at a face value and even when I read I try looking for hidden meanings and symbolism.

"Carpe Diem" is another of my favorite quotes from the film. In our media and consumerism saturated culture, in a world in which we are encouraged to "move fast", we forget to "seize the day." We forget to just stop for just a moment and appreciate all that is around us. We forget to really enjoy research and learning and instead expect 'one stop info shop' websites (nothing against Wikipedia or Snopes as I use those sites as well, but only as a starting point for any research or just quick, basic fact checking) to do it for us. We go to massive chain stores where everything is mass produced and artificially made, yet we go in expecting the best quality and "service with a smile" from beaten down employees (it's always a much more pleasant experience to visit a locally owned business). We've been trained to believe that if we are rude or obnoxious toward others, we will gain more respect when really that is far from the case.

I realize that some of my dissecting and deconstructing might upset some, as I tend to do that to even things that are supposed to be considered 'positive' (speaking of which, check out one of Jenny Trout's recent posts on Megan Trainor's "I'm All About That Base" in which she offers a few points to think about on why it may not be as 'body-positive' as the media and industry is trying to sell it as...and yes, she really did receive threats for posting it). But it is important to look into EVERYTHING that is presented to us, because there may be something crucial that is being missed among the hype.

In my last post, I posted a bunch of music videos by some kick ass female artists, ranging from the 1920s up to the 21st Century. But so many don't get the credit they deserve because we seem to have a need to feel superior to those who came before us. We don't give them enough appreciation and gratitude. An interesting theory of why was brought to my attention and I'm working on a post to elaborate further on that, which I will post on either Thursday or next Monday.

In closing (on this day of 'not laboring' for us Americans), let's remember to "stand on our desks" and never stop questioning. Let's also practice to "carpe diem", even if it is for only a few minutes during a hectic day. And appreciated those around you, for you never know what tomorrow may bring.




If you would like to join our community and receive content exclusive to email, join our little tribe and Subscribe to my Messages from the Labyrinth Mailing List.. We promise to never share your info or spam you. Ever.

You can also subscribe to my YouTube Channel for new vlogging updates.


******

My stories, "The Cemetery by the Lake" and "Dusk to Dawn" are available at Smashwords and Barnes & Noble NOOK. More retailers will follow, but Smashwords is pretty compatible with most e-reader and PC formats.
and Amazon
"The Cemetery by the Lake" at Smashwords and Barnes & Noble NOOK
"Dusk to Dawn" at Smashwords
Tiffany on Goodreads
My music is also available at CDBaby
Support great authors and independent bookstores at Smashwords and Indiebound