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Saying goodbye to an author who inspired me… P.G. Holyfield

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Hello ladies and gentlemen!  Welcome to the Casa!

I had an idea for this week’s blog post, but that changed this morning when I checked out Facebook.  P.G. Holyfield, an author who inspired me to begin writing stories again after many years, is dying.

When I got my first IPod and started listening to podcast and audiobooks, his was probably the only fantasy story I was willing to try.  I’ve never been a big fan of high fantasy stories, but “Murder at Avedon Hill” wasn’t your typical fantasy story.  It was a murder mystery that took more twists and turns than a roller coaster, and yet every swerve felt natural in delivery.  For those who don’t know it, “Murder at Avedon Hill” is about the murder of a woman named Greta Platt, Headmistress of Avedon Manor.  A retired Aaronic priest named Aramis Kragen is in need of passage through Avedon Pass, but Lord Avedon will not allow it until he finds the murderer.  How does one find a murderer in a town with more secrets than townsfolk?  It was known as the podcast that would not end, but that isn’t why I remember it so well.  It was the writing and the excellent voice acting work that really made the full cast audiobook come to life.  His stint as a co-host on the Dead Robot’s Society writing podcast, among other voice acting work.

I want to close with a link to a blog post which provides more details on what is going on with P.G., as well as information on a fund-raiser for his medical bills and his daughters.  Please, take the moment to check it out and, if you can, possibly donate a little money to help out a family in need.  The link is http://specficmedia.com/2014/08/17/pg-holyfield-announcement/

I want to close this with something that was a bit of a joke from when Murder at Avedon Hill, and I say this with a lot of respect and a wry grin…

DAMN YOU HOLYFIELD!!!!!

Donald “D.J.” Pitsiladis

 

Publishing news and Master of Macabre 2014

2014 MMM

Hello ladies and gentlemen! Welcome to the Casa!

Apologies for the delay in this week’s blog post. I have my sons for the full week and was having lots of fun with them. Now that they are asleep for the night, it’s time to bring you up to speed on the latest news. A little over a month ago, I submitted two stories to the Horror Society for their Best of 2014 and found out on the Fourth of July that one of them was selected for inclusion. I don’t know which one because it is also in contention for the Best Story in the Anthology,so it’s best to wait and find out which one they will use. I can say that the editor liked both stories, so that has a smile on my face. Add to that another flash story submitted and accepted for publication in the “A Tasteful Murder” anthology. Lastly, I also submitted a science fiction story for another anthology consideration and wait anxiously for word on whether it was accepted or not. While these may not pay financially, the confidence build up they gave me is huge, and for that I am eternally grateful.

Another publication I’ve received this past weekend was my fourth attempt at the title of HorrorAddicts.net Master of Macabre. This is a contest I’ve participated in since it’s inception in 2011 and my writing has only improved with time from it. For those unfamiliar with the contest, it is open to male writers and the idea is to write a short story that contains certain elements and is scary. This year, the theme was “Creature Features” and we were given a location for the story, an item, and an origination place for the monster. I don’t want to give out details of my story, “The Samaritan”, but I would greatly appreciate it if you can go listen to it and the other contestants’ stories and vote for your favorite and share the link with everyone else who you know enjoys a good story. You can find the audio and the text version of the stories at http://horroraddicts.wordpress.com/2014/08/08/horroraddicts-net-105-masters-of-macabre-contest/.

And now it’s time for me to say goodnight. I will see you again next Monday when I offer a review of “Lumps” by Ian Woodhead. Until then… why so serious?

P.S. — look for additional book reviews on the Horror Addicts blog, appearing soon.

Donald “D.J.” Pitsiladis

Balancing act and “Help Wanted: Tales of On-the-Job Terror”

help wanted

Hello ladies and gentlemen!  Welcome to the Casa!

This past week I got a lesson in finding some sort of balance in life.  For most of this year, I’ve felt like for everything I’ve done and wanted to do has been more wheel spinning than anything.   I’ve heard about possible ways to keep from everything running through your mind and then getting anxious and frustrated when you can’t focus on one thing long enough to get accomplished.  I decided to fill out a white board with a list of everything I want to accomplish this week and will wipe off everything I finished.  So far it has helped considerably, but I found something lacking in those planned tasks (outside of my day job that is).  I found that there was no counterbalance of time with my fiancee, my children (when I’m able to have them), and with my pets.  Getting things completed and accomplished in pursuit of a carrier in acting, writing, directing, etc. is empty if you don’t spend time with some of the very folks you are doing all that for.  That is one of the things I learned from my recent divorce, and it isn’t a mistake I intend to repeat.  So when you are busy working for your dream, please remember that you need a balance in your life to keep you from overworking, burning out, or losing sight of who you are and want to be.

I felt that this week’s review should be about the anthology, “Help Wanted:  Tales of On-the-Job Terror” released by Evil Jester Press, and edited by Peter Giglio.  Have you ever had a job that was a complete nightmare, working with co-workers from Hell, and feeling like your soul is being sucked away?  This collection of stories explores some of these very professions, and then some.  It begins with a mortician asked to perform extra modifications to a recently deceased woman’s body, a demanding company head who replaces you in every part of your life, a baker of the best beignets in New Orleans, and border patrol officers who find more than they bargained for.

I thought all of these stories were very fun and entertaining, especially “The Best Beignets in New Orleans”.  They were a great escape from the doldrums of my day job and a fun distraction during my divorce.  I found the collection well written stories that made me glad I have the job that I have.  My rating of this book is a four out of five, and you can find this book at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Well, ladies and gentlemen, I must bid you adieu for the week.  I feel another part of a balance life calling me… a nice soft bed and a good night’s sleep.  Until next week…

Donald “D.J.” Pitsiladis

Valuing the classics, “The Phantom of the Opera”, and “Inkubus”

inkubus

Hello ladies and gentlemen!  Welcome to the Casa!

I am a Christian.  I don’t hide that fact, but one thing that irked me was when a couple at a church I used to attend told me that I was wrong for liking Stephen King and horror stories in general. Their opinion was that I needed to concentrate on reading classics and focus on more positive stories.  At the time, I didn’t have enough confidence in myself to stand up for what made me.  If I given a second chance, I’d tell that couple why I enjoy reading and writing the stories I do.  I’d also make sure to point out what classic stories are staples of most horror aficionados.  Writers such as Edgar Allen Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, Bram Stoker, Mary Shelley… really the list goes on and on.

Personally, some of my favorite authors and stories are classics.  My all time favorite is and always will be “Phantom of the Opera” by Gaston Leroux.  While the musical is fun and visually stunning, it doesn’t compare to the original tale.  It’s in that story that you get a better feel of just how dangerous of an antagonist the Phantom truly is.  For those who don’t know the story, the Parisian Opera House is sold and the new owners told about the demands of the Phantom.  They are to leave the Phantom a weekly allowance and a viewing box for every performance.  As you can guess, the new owners don’t pay heed to the demands and murder and chaos follows.  Mix into this is a love triangle between the Phantom, his pupil Christine Daae, and her childhood friend, Viscount Raoul de Chagny.  I am not able to truly give you a good feel of the story by description alone.  It is one of those books I recommend reading when you get a free spot in your reading list.

Another horror classic that has influenced my horror journey is Robert Englund.  Best known for playing Freddy Krueger, the toasted child murderer with razor claws, one liners, and creative ways to kill you in your dreams.  After seeing him in a very tongue in cheek “PSA” for the Chiller network bringing sympathetic awareness to out of work slashers, I thought I’d check out one of his latest movies.  Englund plays the title character in “Inkubus”, an independent film about a man who walks into a police station on its last night open with a woman’s head in his hand and a blade hidden in his other sleeve.  The man then begins to confess to murders such as Jack the Ripper, Black Dahlia, Zodiac, and many others.  Soon, the police officers that have him in custody begin to die in creative ways.  It’s not as good as Freddy, but Robert is the true star of this film.  I give it a three and a half out of five.

With that, I must bid you adieu for the week.  Novel words are calling my name, begging to be written.

Until next we meet… Why so serious?

Donald “D.J.” Pitsiladis

Adversity and “A Method to the Madness: A Guide to the Super Evil” edited by Jeffrey Hite and Michell Plestad

A method to the madness

Hello ladies and gentlemen!  Welcome to the Casa!

I want to talk to you all today about adversity.  It’s something everyone faces in their lifetime, and will either make or break a person.  What is a major challenge for one person might be an easy one for the person to your left or a practically impossible one for the person to your right.  One consistent thing about adversity is that it will challenge you, make you a stronger and better person, and perhaps allow you to view things in a different light than before.  The other consistency is that you can’t always the see the good it offers until later.  When focused right, it makes us reach higher and dig in stronger than we may normally have.  It is also the source of inspiration for brilliant and artistic minds.  It also shows us who we are and the true face of the people we surround ourselves with.

I’ve had my fair share of adversity.  I’ve dealt with mental and emotional abuse from my biological father, some of my girlfriends, and even some of my “friends”.  I was denied access to my children for a short time because of lies about me.   I’ve lost or given up everything I owned at least three times and rebuilt each time.  I’ve been betrayed by people close to me.  Through all of that, the ups and downs, I’ve soldiered on, learned from the mistakes (sometimes after multiple times making them), and have found positive ways to look at them.  Whether it’s ideas and/or characters for stories (it’s true, we writer’s do put you in them), emotional through lines in acting, and being able to cope when receiving rejections and criticism.  What you need to do is find a good  and positive outlet for your bad feelings, surround yourself with people who will help you up while you’re down, and find something to help you thinking happy thoughts (I recommend “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” by Monty Python, but to each their own).  The one thing you never want to do is to give up.  It might be the easy thing to do at that moment, but staying the course until it ends is so much more sweeter.

For those of you evil geniuses out there wanting to improve their lives and images, I have the perfect “how to” book for you.  “Method to the Madness” is full of advice for the next generation of villains and villainesses from some of the top and most feared names in the world today.  Have you wondered what or who makes the best minions, how to find and decorate the perfect evil lair, or are you married to an evil genius and want advice on keeping the spark going between the two of you.  And, let’s face it, who else suffers through more adversity and without giving up than evil villains and villianesses?

The stories in this anthology are a lot of fun and good for a not so serious read.  I found the voices they were written in very convincing and the advice enlightening.  I made sure to take notes for future villains and hench people/monsters/devices.  I recommend it as a good summer read or one you want in short bursts any other time.  I rate it  a four out of five.

You can find “A Method to the Madness” in Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, and can be ordered through your local bookstore.

If you’ve found this helpful, have any ideas or suggestions on improvements to the site, or have suggestions for movies and books to check out, please leave a comment below, e-mail me at dpitsiladis@gmail.com, or follow me on  FacebookTwitter, & Google +.

Until next time, I wish you a very happy week and know that we’re here to offer a positive word or two if you need it.

Donald “D.J.” Pitsiladis

“Black Lotus” by K’wan

Black Lotus

Hello ladies and gentlemen!  Welcome back to the Casa!

As promised this morning, here are my thoughts on “Black Lotus” by K’wan.  First, let me set the scene.  The story opens with the murder of a priest by the Black Lotus, a black clad assassin who claims to work for the Lord and leaves a black lotus as a calling card.  Detective James Wolf, a narcotics officer with the nickname of Lone Wolf James for reasons that become obvious quickly, is asked to look into the case by his mentor, the Chief of Police himself.  As victims begin to pile up, the Lone Wolf needs to figure out what ties the victims together to stop the Lotus without becoming a victim himself.

I thought this story was an okay one, but dealt with a lot of cliched characters which made it a difficult to stay in the story at times.  The story itself was a good one that did make some sense, but someone who I thought played a pivotal part to the story didn’t get introduced until act three of the story.  The Black Lotus’ identity also seemed easy to deduce based on the big hints in the story, that when the big reveal finally arrived, there was no surprise.  Over all, I give this story a rating of a three out of five.  You can find “Black Lotus” at Amazon, Barnes and Noble,and your local bookstore.

And now, without further adieu, I bid you goodnight and we’ll see you next Monday.

Donald “D.J.” Pitsiladis

 

 

Consistency

Hello ladies and gentlemen!  Welcome to the Casa!

I just wanted to drop a little message before heading off to the day job.  The reason?  Nothing more than to maintain consistency.  It is something I haven’t been as good about maintaining over the past two years, and is the one item I am able to control.  Whether it is for the day job, my writing, or even time with my family.  I ‘ve found that when I lose my consistency in things, my anxiety ramps up, and that is not a fun thing.  When I am writing daily or doing anything with my day job regularly, my work is better and more productive.  My advice, taken with a large grain of salt, is that if you are struggling with any endeavor, regardless if it is writing, work, or most anything, and working in spurts doesn’t work, try doing a little bit of it everyday.  It  won’t immediately improve things since it will take time to adjust to the new routine, but you may find that in the longer run it helps you become more productive and relaxed.  If after three weeks to a month of trying this method, feel free to try something different.  The one thing that never changes is that everyone has certain ways of working and doing things that works for them.

With all of this in mind, I must bid you all adieu for now, but will be back later tonight with this week’s book review.  Today’s offering will be “Black Lotus” by K’wan.  Until then…

Why so serious?

Donald “D.J” Pitsiladis

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