Archive for October, 2011

Scary stuff

Halloween approaches. I have the cutest ladybug in town, and perhaps the cutest zombie, although he might not like that description. I have thought I should masquerade as someone who has it all together, but I’m not sure I can pull that off. Instead, I shall note my favorite scary and Halloween-type stuff. Here they are, in no particular order.

Night of the Hunter. A movie from 1951, directed by Charles Laughton and starring Robert Mitchum, with Shelley Winters and Lillian Gish. This is a movie that despite it being in black and white and 60 years old, I find hard to watch alone. Mitchum is menacing, and few things are as menacing and scary as evil wrapped up in good clothing. If you ever wondered where the “love” and “hate” on the knuckles came from, this is the place. This is a suspense film, with very little blood and violence, but all the more scarier for it. Laughton incorporates those nightmare images we all know, such as when the children are making their way down the river, and Mitchum is chasing them. He rides his horse at a leisurely pace but never falls behind. This movie was panned on its release but is now regarded as a classic; Laughton never directed again. Here’s Roger Ebert’s Great Movie essay.

Hush,” from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. This is my favorite episode from one of my favorite series. For half an hour no one talks. Can you imagine, on television, no dialogue?!!? Kudos to Joss Whedon for pulling it off, with his usual mix of humor and suspense. The Gentlemen in this will no doubt remind you of The Strangers in Dark City (see below) and possibly Pinhead from Hellraiser.

Dark City. A movie I can rewatch any time. A wonderful mix of film noir and sci-fi, from Alex Proyas, who also directed The Crow. The movie isn’t so much scary, but it’s dark and has a great Twilight Zone feel. Perhaps an odd cast, but William Hurt is great, Jennifer Connolly has a great singing voice, and it’s probably the most unusual role for Keifer Sutherland since The Lost Boys. Ebert again.

The Nightmare before Christmas. A fantastic movie, produced by Tim Burton. It has the advantage of being both a great Halloween and a great Christmas movie! Jack Skellington is bored with Halloween and discovers Christmas. Imagine what the residents of Halloweentown, gruesome and good-natured as they are, will do as they attempt to manage Christmas. Santa’s not thrilled, either.

Clive Barker.  Barker is a more fantastical writer than Stephen King, but his earlier works like The Books of Blood (from which Hellraiser came) are terrific. One of my favorite stories is The Body Politic. Hands off, indeed.

Stephen King. I won’t bore you with what you already know, about the most prolific (probably) horror writer of our time. So let me note a few of my more favorites. First, The Stand, unabridged. Despite the length, I found it hard to put down. The TV mini-series (remember those?) was great, considering how much they likely had to cut and condense. Oddly, I find I often prefer the books he wrote under the name Richard Bachman, and of those, I would recommend The Regulators, the companion book to Desperation.

Neil Gaiman. All of his books, for kids and adults, are worth reading. For a Halloween feel, I’d suggest his Sandman comic book series.

There you go – Happy Halloween!

Ack — nearly forgot! The Serpent and the Rainbow! This is a movie by Wes Craven, based on a non-fiction book by Wade Davis. It was probably one of the first horror movies I ever saw, and it’s great. Not great like Oscar-great, but has all the right elements of cast, plot and pacing. It also has Bill Pullman, one of my favorite actors. You’d mostly likely recognize him as the President in Independence Day, but I highly recommend you check out his role as Oswald Danes in the recent series, “Torchwood: Miracle Day.” Pullman is surprisingly good at playing a bad guy.

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Just who’s selfish?

I have a Kindle, and I love it, and I download a lot of the free stuff. Many times, the story is worth about what I paid, but generally they’re not bad, and I give people a lot of credit for putting their stories out there for people to see, read, and critique. I’ve noticed that romances seem to dominate the Top 100 Free list, or at least come close, and many of these romances are “Christian” romances, and perhaps because of that, quite traditional in many gender roles.

What gets me, often, is the idea that the women have to give up stuff to be with the guy. I was reading a book called Sweet Baklava by Debby Mayne. It’s set in Florida, and features a large, loving Greek Christian family. I’m assuming they’re Greek Orthodox, but it’s never stated. The “odd woman out” is Paula, who’s carrying a torch for Nick, one of the Greek boys. Paula has put down roots in the hometown, including starting her own business, while Nick is in the Air Force and isn’t sure he wants to come and stay.

These are fine issues to deal with. Miscommunication and misdirection by Paula’s mother led Nick to think Paula was done with him. Paula assumed Nick was done with her when he joined the USAF with no warning. They’re still in love, but it’s hard to admit, and hard to find middle ground on what they want. Paula was raised by a single mother who bad-mouthed the father (possibly deserved, hard to say), who went from one job to another claiming she was never appreciated, and sometimes running away from home for days at a time, leaving Paula on her own. Most important, Paula’s mother would threaten to uproot her daughter and move, which she’d done once before, and this led to Paula’s dream of setting down roots.

Nick and Paula dance around, feint and parry, trying to find where they stand. Paula’s business grows, and she takes on help from women in Nick’s family. This is great, really. I love a strong, successful woman in a story. However, what kills me is that Paula comes to think she is selfish for wanting to stay in Tarpon Springs (yep) with her business.

Seriously?

Of course a permanent relationship requires sacrifice on both sides, some big and some small. So in this story, Paula decides to give up daily management of her business (true, she does not give up the business entirely; Nick’s cousins step in and up quickly to satisfactorily handle everything, which is perhaps more fantasy than almost anything else in the story) to marry Nick, who will remain in the USAF for a while. Nick gets everything, in a way of thinking: he gets the girl and he gets his career. Paula gets the man she loves, which I don’t mean to understate, but she also has to move to Texas, away from all her friends, deal with deployments, and deal with moving whenever the AF moves her husband to a new station. This is a lot for a woman who wanted little more out of life than love and roots in a town she came to adore.

So why is Paula selfish for wanting to stay in Tarpon Springs, yet Nick is not? I don’t mean to diss Nick, btw. He’s a decently drawn character, a guy who struggles between wanting to stay in Tarpon Springs to get the woman he loves versus his career in the military. In fact, he decides not to re-enlist, and tells Paula, but before he can put that into action, she makes her decision and he stays. I suppose because Nick was willing and at the point of giving up the USAF, that counts as his compromise or sacrifice.

I’m sorry to digress — my brother is in the USAF, a captain, and I’m very proud of him. He’s currently on his fourth deployment to the Persian Gulf. While his tour is not as long or arduous as the ground troops (God love those guys), it’s not easy. He’s limited to the AF base he’s on, he’s very busy, and it’s considered nice weather when the temperature stays around 105F. He went in July and will be there until February or close to. I have other relatives in the military as well, including a younger cousin in the Army who I know has had one or two tours in Iraq. I am not dismissing the military or its importance, believe me.

Still, it doesn’t seem fair. Does Nick’s career in the military outweigh Paula’s? Maybe. Not necessarily. Nick was considering not re-enlisting anyway, but it was a struggle. I’m sure it is. My brother’s been up against that a couple of times, and he’s opted to stay in, in part because, well, he has a job. Who can blame him?

Yet Nick wants to marry Paula, a woman for whom stability is extremely important. Somehow, the love translates into her giving that up for him. I’d like to think if I loved someone enough, I could do that, too. Being a military spouse is not easy, but I’d hope that it’d be worth it on many levels.

I read another book, In Need of a Tow, by Vivian Vincent, and this same issue cropped up. It’s a fine book, and probably hits true notes with a lot of people. However, I kept disagreeing with the heroine. When it came time to put up or shut up, I guess you could say, she said to herself, what am I doing trying to stay with the young business I created? That’s so selfish when he’s waiting for me. I’m thinking (shouting loudly in my head): No! No it is not selfish! It is not selfish to want to support yourself, and to tend to the business that you started! That’s a lot of self-confidence at risk there, not to mention money and energy. Why is that supposed to be something the woman can give up without a whole lot of fuss?

What would I have done with a story like this? I don’t know. Maybe there’s not a much better solution. Someone has to give up something, right? And it probably won’t ever be 50/50. Still, I don’t like how when the women have something going, it’s “selfish” of them to keep it.

Review: I Wish I Might

Here’s my first review. Hope you enjoy. 🙂

I Wish I Might, by Jocelyn ModoYellow Silk Dreams

As war comes to her home planet, her home city, Calixte realizes her father’s plan to ask for aid won’t work. She decides to initiate her own plan, knowing what the consequences might be, but intent on saving her world.

So begins I Wish I Might, by Jocelyn Modo, a science-fiction romance. Calixte’s home planet of Cepheum is under attack by the forces of the Uriga; Cepheum’s only hope for victory lies in winning the aid of Indus, a planet that is not an enemy, but not a friend. The neutral relationship is strained by Cepheum’s refusal to participate in any marriage alliances with Indus, whose population is heavily out of gender balance. Calixte knows this, and knows that Cepheum’s leader–her father–will fail secure their aid will fail and so offers the one thing she knows Indus is most likely to accept.

Ms. Modo places us in the action at the start, as Calixte wakes to the sound of battle and wastes no time developing a plan and putting it into action. Although her heroine faces obstacles, none are unbelievable, and that helps make a new world more real to the reader. Calixte takes a problem common in history—that women are viewed as little more than property—and tries to turn it to her advantage. Her assets are few: herself, her courage, and three friends who risk their lives to help her.

Ms. Modo and Calixte move ahead, knowing time is of the essence. Calixte learns a lot in a short time about herself, her father, and the Indus, who are not as she expected. The pace is quick; you’re never waiting for something to happen.

Something does happen: Calixte meets the leader of the Indus, Sarin, who is not what she’d expected. Not when the Indus have made a reputation for themselves as cutthroat warriors. Sarin proves himself to be more than the public perception of his people, and Calixte is relieved both that he accepts her plan, and her.

I do wish there had been more—I’d like to know more about Calixte, her relationship with her father, and the history between Cepheum and Indus. I’m also curious about how the different cultures of the two races developed. However, for this story we have what we need: a gutsy heroine who will do what she can to save her world, even when she’s not sure what will happen if she does.

New from Jocelyn Modo

Check out the new story I Wish I Might by Jocelyn Modo, available via Yellow Silk Dreams.

Summary:

Lady Calixte is known for spending her nights in the company of handsome spaceforce pilots so when her home planet is invaded and her bed found empty, no one questions her whereabouts. Who would guess she’d stowaway on a ship to plead for help from the most feared man in the galaxy?

Leader Sarin has fought many battles. Now he wonders what is left worth fighting for. Until, that is, the daring Lady Calixte arrives in her sleep gown looking for help. He doesn’t doubt he can win the battle to save her people, but can he win her heart?

Halloween story

Hello and Happy Fall.

Well, it’s not the next hockey story, but I did write and enter a story into Literotica’s Halloween Contest, called The Collection.

Excerpt:

He’d planned to shoot the pictures in black and white. It would be classier than color, he thought, more glamorous. Chloe would look like a movie star from Hollywood’s golden age; he could see it in his mind’s eye. She’d put Veronica Lake and the others to shame.

It had all worked out. Chloe lay on his bed, on her side, looking back at him. Her blond hair drifted over her shoulder in the back, and grazed the top of her breasts in the front. He could never get enough of running his fingers through her hair. The lights were down, and a candelabra to the side of the bed threw intriguing shadows over Chloe’s body.

I hope you enjoy.

It’s also available here at StoriesOnline.net, and here at EroticStories.com.

Ego boost

First, thanks to those who voted for me as Most Helpful Editor at Literotica in their annual awards. I won for 2010, and it’s not yet 2012, so I guess we’re still ahead of the game.

Also, congratulations to Tamara Clarke, aka MugsyB, who won for Best Romance, with Part 2 of her story A Feel for the Ice.

A writing update:

I am coming into the home stretch, I hope, for a new hockey romance, as yet untitled. It’s about a woman who’s a musician — and is not so crazy over sports.

I have recently finished an erotic horror story, a new genre for me. It was inspired by the song “A Collection,” by one of my favorite groups, Marillion. It’s had a number of beta readers, whom I can’t thank enough, and right now it’s off for copy editing. After a final read by the hub, it should be ready. I’ll be posting it at StoriesOnline.net, EroticStories.com, AfterDark-Online.com, and entering it in the Halloween Contest at Literotica. If you’re a Lit reader, please read, vote and feedback is always welcome.

To all my Canadian friends, Happy Thanksgiving! To all of those in the U.S., I hope you get to enjoy the Columbus Day holiday.

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