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Politics, positivety, and “Childhood’s End” by Arthur C. Clarke

Childhood's End

Hello ladies and gentlemen.  Welcome to the Casa!

We are now one month into the new year, and I’m already wondering where the time is gone.  Here in the states, we have already finished the first of many caucuses to help determine who we will get to vote for in the Presidential election at the end of the year.  While many of us may think that the candidate we are backing throughout this process is the best choice, there are plenty of people who will politely or militantly disagree with that choice.  We all have our reasons for feeling one way or the other, but that is part of the beauty of our freedom to choose.  I haven’t made up my mind about who to support in this year’s election, but I have decided who doesn’t deserve my vote.  Now, I won’t share any names, because that is not what me as the creative artist wants to do.  I don’t intentionally focus on negativity here unless it is in a horror story.

What has me thinking in such a positive way, you may ask?  Aside from my resolutions for the year, I read a book recently that had an ending completely opposite of what I expected to find.  That book was “Childhood’s End” by Arthur C. Clarke.  Imagine a world where humanity, on the verge of taking the first steps into space exploration, discovers that we are truly not alone in the universe.  Silver ships appear in the sky and the Overlords, as the alien race is referred to by Earthlings, communicate that they are on a mission to help us.  Within a short time, war, poverty and cruelty become things of the past and Earth enters a golden age.  The price of such a change is culture and creativity stagnation.  By the time the true reason for the Overlords arrival comes to light, will it be too late for humankind?

When I began this story, I expected it to be much like other science fiction stories I’ve read.  The aliens lull us humans into a false sense of security before springing the trap we unexpectedly walked into.  Without giving away spoilers, this story didn’t fall into this category of extraterrestrial visitation.  Even so, I found this story to be very fascinating and had a hard time putting it down.  If you are looking for science fiction story with a change of pace, or want to get an idea on what the upcoming television adaptation of this book is about, definitely check it out.  I rate this a 4 out of 5.

Until next time…

D.J. Pitsiladis

P.S. — I’m always looking for ways to improve the blog and your enjoyment of it.  If you have any ideas, or podcasts and books you’ve enjoyed, please feel free to send me those suggestions as well.

Playoffs, resolution update, and “Rough Draft” by Michael Robertson Jr.

rough draft

Hello ladies and gentlemen.  Welcome to the Casa!

Well, another season is done for the Pittsburgh Steelers.  As I’m writing this, they were defeated by the Denver Broncos in a very conservatively played game.  A lot of people were ready to write the team off earlier in the season when they lost key players and had difficulties stringing wins together.   Although they didn’t advance to the next round, I am very proud to call myself a Steeler’s fan, and look forward to the next season.   Go Steelers!

Since my last post, I’ve been doing really well in my resolutions.  Although I haven’t submitted any stories yet, I have been able to brainstorm a zombie series I had written a year or two ago, and have a much clearer picture of how I want that world to be.  I have also made further progress in what started as a short story about an old, abandoned house with a story, but it is now approaching novella length with the potential to become a full novel by the time I’m done with it.  I am also editing a short story I hope to have submitted by the end of the week.  On top of that, I have recorded some audio book auditions that I hope to have edited and submitted by the time you read this.  All in all, I am making progress on my plans, and I’m only just getting started.

With how busy I’ve been keeping myself, I’m still making it a point to read as much and as often as possible.  One of the more recent books I’ve finished is “Rough Draft” by Michael Robertson Jr.  The story follows three popular and bestselling authors who are blackmailed into going to a cabin just outside of Pike, CO.  The town is a ghost town, its residents having long ago vanished without a trace or explanation.  Their blackmailer wants just one thing from them in exchange for their freedom… write a novel about what may have happened to the people of Pike.  This mystery person provides them with everything they need to write the story, even down to the little details of their individual writing processes.  What they discover may end up costing them their lives.

This story was an interesting one.  The individual authors in the story all have very unique personalities that seem to mesh well.  At times, there is a definite Dean R. Koontz feel to the story, and it definitely captured my imagination.  There were a few spots where things felt a little too convenient or cookie cutter, but, with that aside, it was a very good read until the very end.  I give it 3.5 out of 5.

Until next time…

D.J. Pitsiladis

New Year’s Resolutions and “Wayward Pines Book 1: Pines”

Pines

Hello ladies and gentlemen.  Welcome to the Casa!

Happy new year one an all.  I hope that all of your holidays were festive, relaxing, and, most of all, fun.  Ours had a few hiccups, but we survived the dawning of a new year.  As with the beginning of a new year, resolutions are the order of the day, so I thought I’d share some of mine with you.

  1.  Blog regularly — This one I’ll admit I had a difficulty doing in past years, but it is still one I’m hoping to improve on this year.
  2. Finish writing more stories — I have some that I have started and stopped before finishing for one reason or another
  3. Submit more stories for publication — In 2014 I had two stories accepted for publication, but this past year I only submitted a couple of times without any success.  I plan on changing both in 2016
  4. Start a podcast — This one I’ve been wanting to do for a long time.  I think this year will be the year I finally get that off the ground with stories I hope to draw you in and entrap your imagination.
  5. Audition for and record more audio books for other authors to diversify my creativity
  6. And, finally, perform in a theatrical production for the first time in almost three years — My youngest three have been wanting to see their dear old dad performing on stage, which I think is pretty darn cool.

With any luck, much perseverance, and a lot of hard work, I will be able to meet all of these.  I hope that sharing this with all of you it will help to give me accountability if I find myself lagging behind.  Wish me luck and stay tuned for future news.

To start the year off review wise, I thought I’d provide a review of the first novel in the Wayward Pines Trilogy, “Pines” by Blake Crouch.  For those of you who have not read the novel or seen the television series this past summer, the story is about a man who wakes beside a river with no real memory of who or where he is.  As the story unfolds, he remembers his name is Ethan Burke, a Secret Service agent sent to Wayward Pines, CO, to search for two of his fellow agents.  As he struggles to find the missing agents and contact his wife and boss, he finds only unanswered phone calls and unanswered questions.  The story starts out much like Twin Peaks or a Twilight Zone episode, but the ending is one that you definitely don’t see coming.  I definitely recommend this book for those of you looking for a book you can’t, or don’t, want to put down until the final page.  I give this book a 4 out of 5.

Until next time…

D.J. Pitsiladis

Happy holidays and 2015 in review

Dimensional Abcesses

Hello ladies and gentlemen.  Welcome to the Casa!

Merry Christmas!  Happy Hanukkah!  Happy Kwanzaa!  Merry Festivus!  And for the other holidays I may be missing, Happy and Merry to you all!  This of course means that another calendar year is coming to a close.  This year has been a mixed bag of good and bad.  As one of my 2016 New Year’s resolutions, I’m going to focus on the positive aspects.  This past year, I’ve had stories appear in two anthologies, Forgotten Places and Dimensional Abscesses.  Until recently, you could only find the latter in eBook format, but I’m proud to say that a paperback format has just been released on Amazon.  The links to this, as well as my other works, will be at the end of this post.

Another venture that I’ve started this past year was recording audio books for other authors.  I have two so far, and have plans for more in the coming year.  I’m hoping to make this a regular thing, for both other authors and my own work.  As everything comes out, I’ll be sure to let you know so you can check them out and spread the word.

This past year also saw me become a regular contributor to the Horror Addicts podcast with Nightmare Fuel.  I offer stories and lore based on real events, cryptids, and some other scary fare.  It has been a welcomed addition to the podcast and the blog, and I look forward to bring more legends and lore to your eyes and ears.

Speaking of spreading the word, please feel free to check out, leave a review, and share with as many others as possible.  I’m hoping to make next year a bigger year, and, with your help, I’m hoping it will.  Until next year…

D.J. Pitsiladis

HorrorAddicts.net

Dimensional Abscesses — Book and eBook formats

Forgotten PlacesBook and eBook formats

Fresh BloodBook and eBook formats

Tasteful MurderseBook format

Bump Off Your Enemies — eBook format

Darwin Murders — eBook format

Once the BestAudiobook format

EvolutionAudiobook format

 

NaNoWriMo recap, a writing tip, and “The Atlantis Gene” by A.G. Riddle

atlantis gene

Hello ladies and gentlemen.  Welcome to the Casa!

November has come and gone.  While I freely admit that I didn’t hit 50,000 words or finish a novel, I did get something positive out of it.  I got my writing built back up to a much higher daily output on the days that I was able to write.  That being said, I still have a little more to go to finish the current novel, and then start brainstorming the next one.  What has helped me stay on target for this story was something I learned from the the Get Published podcast.

On one of the earlier episodes, a writing tip was offered that suggested writing a sentence or two about what you want the story to be about.  After that, you write down a single sentence about what you want to happen in each chapter.  If you know your normal average words per chapter, this will help you to figure out your estimated word count for the story.  I’ve tried outlining the story, but it seemed to take the life out of the story and it didn’t last for long.  I’ve also enjoyed writing by the seat of my pants and letting the story decide what happened and where it was going to go.  It allowed the story to develop more naturally, but if I stepped away from the story for too long, I lose my entire direction on it.  This new way of story writing is definitely helpful for me.  If you are a new writer trying to find the best way to work, give this one a try.  It may or may not work, but is worth experimenting with.  For those of you who try it, let me know what you think of it and if it’s helped or hindered your work.

For this week’s review, I offer to you a review of the book, “The Atlantis Gene” by A.G. Riddle.  It is the first in a trilogy of stories that follows Dr. Kate Warren, a scientist looking for the cure to autism, and Agent David Vale, a member of an elite international security team named Watchtower.  When Watchtower is taken over by the very group David is investigating and two autistic children are kidnapped from Dr. Warner’s lab at gunpoint, the two of them find themselves unlikely allies against a global conspiracy that may end with human extinction.  Will they stop the plot in time and save the world?  How does the lost city of Atlantis fit into all of this?

Aside from horror, I really enjoy thrill rides like this one takes you on.  It is a longer book, but you hardly notice that once you start reading it.  It is the first in a trilogy, and once you pick it up, you want to keep reading non-stop until the very end.  This is a story that I highly recommend.  My rating is a 4.5.

You can find this book on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and at your local bookstore.  There is even talk of it coming out as a major motion picture.

Until next time, patrons…

D.J. Pitsiladis

Happy NaNoWriMo and “The Purge of Babylon” by Sam Sisavath

babylon

Hello ladies and gentlemen.  Welcome to the Casa!

It has been a bit since we last talked, and, now that I have my laptop fan fixed, I thought I’d drop in and say hello.  And, what better time to start again than the beginning of NaNoWriMo.  For those who don’t know it, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month and occurs every November.  The idea is to write a 50,000 word novel in the span of 30 days, so if you’ve ever thought about writing a novel, this might be a good time to try.  The prize is the satisfaction of knowing you completed writing a novel in a month and, after some polishing and editing, a possible novel to submit to a publisher or self-publish.  If you do go the self-publishing route, I strongly encourage having at least a second pair of eyes review it first.  Even kids can participate and set their own word goal for the month.  This year, I will be participating, but not in the traditional sense as I have one novel I am already in the middle of writing.  My goal for this year is to finish that novel and start on a new one, but still maintaining the goal of at least 50,000 words written in the month (excluding blog posts and book reviews).  Wish me luck as I wish all of you brave individuals also attempting it good luck.

And now, the blog post wouldn’t be complete without a review, so this go round I offer to you the novel “The Purge of Babylon” by Sam Sisavath.  This book is the first in a series and is about a night when people go crazy, mutate, and begin chasing down other humans.  These are not zombies, as head shots don’t even put them down for long.  Also, unlike zombies, these creatures a capable of intelligent thought, planning, and cooperation.  These ghouls also carry a mighty grudge as they chase and hunt one pack of survivors comprised of two SWAT team members, a business woman, a med student, and three teenagers, who only have silver and sunlight to protect them as they make their way to a survival bunker constructed by a paranoid billionaire.  As with all apocalyptic stories, not everyone makes it out alive.

I found this very entertaining and well written for an apocalyptic story.  The interactions between the survivors as they make their way to safety is captivating, although there were times it was a little too tennis-ish in the delivery between two people.  The biggest user of this style of conversation are the SWAT team members who don’t seen to take anything seriously.  All in all, I thought this was a great read and recommend it to anyone who appreciates the Romero-esque ghouls.  I rate this a four out of five.

Until next we meet, I hope you enjoy the lovely fall weather where you are, and remember, “Why so serious?”

Donald “D.J.” Pitsiladis

Beginnings, Ends, and “The Black: A Deep Sea Thriller” by Paul E Cooley

the black

Hello ladies and gentlemen.  Welcome to the Casa!

It has been a rather interesting summer, but I, for one, am kind of glad to see it go.  Personal issue with my ex-wife aside, we have lost plenty of big name celebrities in the horror and wrestling worlds, and seen some other wrestlers fall from grace.  The latest of which is one of the horror mavens, Wes Craven.  The creator of many horror mainstays, Craven is best known for creating the cultural icons that are “Nightmare on Elm Street’s” Freddy Krueger and Ghost Face from the “Scream” movie series.  He was a true master and the horror community mourns for his loss.

One major highlight of the summer this year was that I got married again to someone who has been a positive influence for me these past couple of years, even when things have been very rough with said ex-wife.  I can honestly say that I love her deeply and marrying her has been the best decision I’ve ever made.  Look for it to show in my posts and future creative endeavors.

This week, I decided to share with you “The Black: A Deep Sea Thriller” by Paul E Cooley.  Picture an oil rig drilling in the middle of the ocean looking for a major score, only they find something more than just oil.  What they find is something purer than any oil ever found, but what seems like an impossible find becomes a nightmare for the crew of roughnecks and scientists.  The black substance is actually a living organism that eats anything except metal and glass and has taken a liking for people.

This story definitely hearkened back to the drive in theater days and “The Blob” movies and the symbiotes from the Spider-Man comics, Venom and Carnage.  This mass of ooze is sentient, able multiply, and able to restructure itself.  If that wasn’t bad enough, the people on the oil rig have nowhere to go to escape, and there is a storm bearing down on them.  Will they all make it out? That bit of information is something you will need to read and find out.  My rating is a 4 out of 5.

You can get your copy of “The Black: A Deep Sea Thriller” at Amazon or through your local book store.

Until next time…

Donald “D.J.” Pitsiladis

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