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Catching up on things

Hello ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the Casa!

The past two weeks have been rather uneventful on the writing and audio fronts. The current audiobook I’m recording is progressing nicely, and I’ve sent out more auditions to that will hopefully lead to additional work for me. There hasn’t been much progress on the novel set in a mental institution that I’ve been plugging away on. It’s not that the story is losing steam, just veering too far off course. The original outline was a loose guide of each chapter in the first half of the novel, but since the outlined portion ended it feels too far off on a tangent. For now, I’m setting that book off to the side to regain perspective of it. Hopefully, with some “surgery” I can remove the parts hijacking the story and get it back on track.

That’s not to say I haven’t gotten any writing done. Last week I entered a new short story to a contest Dark Regions Press is running. I want to tell you more about it, but am waiting until after the judging is complete so I don’t jinx things. What I can say is that it is a sole survivor on a desert island tale. Wish me luck.

I’m still pursuing freelance work, but am finding it difficult since I haven’t made a name for myself yet. As such, I’ve begun looking for a regular job as well since bills still need paying. While I like the freedom freelancing offers, the family needs the steady paycheck until it takes off. If you are an author or publisher looking for a reliable and talented audiobook narrator, I’d gladly audition and offer my services to you.

The new season of HorrorAddicts.net is ramping up to the premiere episode, which means deadlines are looming. This year is not only the return of Nightmare Fuel to the podcast, but I’ll also be contributing my vocal talents to one of the featured stories and producing the season’s audio drama, “Dogtooth.” A Goth metal band, a honky-tonk bar, and a monster in the woods all play their parts. I’ll also be introducing my two oldest sons to the world of voice-over acting as they each have roles in “Hunter/Prey” and will be sharing co-hosting duties on Nightmare Fuel. In case you can’t tell, I’m very excited for this season.

Next week, I’ll be bringing you a review of “Toward the Brink: The Apocalyptic Plague Survival Series Book One” by Craig A McDonough. It is a zombie tale involving a potato growth hormone created by an evil cabal bent on controlling the world. It was a fun story to read, and I look forward to telling you all about it.

Thank you for your continued patronage. See you next week.

D.J.

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Creative Update — 03/29/2018

Hello ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the Casa!

It has been a bit since we last talked, but there is a good reason for that. I have been busy writing and recording audiobooks, some which are available now, and others coming soon.

On the writing front, I’ve been busy plugging away on two different novels and a couple of short stories. So far, the short stories have not found a home yet, but I still hold out hope for them. Eventually, they will be available to you. I want to try finding a traditional style publisher for them first. The first novel is a psychological thriller in a mental institution, while the other is more of a science fiction action thriller. After I’ve finished them, I’ll be attempting an overhaul on an earlier completed novel, just to see if I can get it nice and shiny.

That is not to say that self-publishing isn’t an option. I am updating some previously published stories with the idea of putting them out myself. I intend to have my stories be both self and traditionally published, so I don’t have all of my eggs in one basket.

As if being a full-time stay at home dad and an author isn’t enough, I’ve been busy recording and editing audiobooks for other authors as well. It’s a thrill to read good stories while being able to bring their characters to life. The first one, delayed due to various setbacks on my part, was finally released for purchase. “Predators of Darkness: Aftermath” by Leonard D. Hilley II takes place in my old hometown of Pittsburgh, PA. The city is attacked with nuclear weapons by an unknown foe, and a small group of survivors finds refuge inside a fallout shelter. When they re-emerge, the survivors find themselves the only people left in the abandoned city. Before long, something new emerges from the shadows intent on taking man’s place at the top of the food chain. Shifters, creatures able to change their bodies at will, are hungry and we are their preferred meal. Will the survivors live long enough to unravel the conspiracy that holds them prisoners to these new beasts?

I also managed to record and release another novel that has also become available since last we chatted, “In the Blackness of Space” by Robert Kuntz. Imagine that NASA is days away from sending the first manned mission outside of our solar system, and they find themselves an astronaut down due to illness. The best-qualified replacement is one of the top scientists on the project, Dr. Grant Chapman, who also happens to be afraid of almost everything. Drug him and send him anyway? Then you have the opening premise of the story. As Dr. Chapman lay in a drug-induced sleep, the crew is exposed to radiation and die, making an already complicated situation worse.

Both audiobooks are available on Amazon, Audible, and iTunes. If you like what you hear, check out some of the other books I’ve narrated: “Evolution” by Cody Toye and “Once the Best” by Roy Chandler. I am also working on another audiobook, “Twilight City: Edward the Silver Werewolf” by James Richardson, and will let you know when it becomes available.

That is all I have for now. I am working on some new goodies for the next season of HorrorAddicts.net, but that is something for next week. Until then, I wish you a Happy Easter if you celebrate it. Otherwise, I hope you have a great weekend.

Thank you for your patronage, and please leave comments below.

D.J. Pitsiladis

 

New Year and Movie Review of “Lovely Bones”

Hello ladies and gentlemen.  Welcome to the Casa!

I hope you have had a good and rest filled holiday season.  I myself did, and it gave me some time for looking at what I want out of life, professionally.  I tried working a telecommuting job, and thought I did a good job of it.  Unfortunately, the job didn’t really fit the idea of common sense ratings, so it didn’t last long.  It did reinforce the idea that I want to work from home, because I really enjoy doing that.  Call me anti-social, but I seem to perform better when not constantly around other people.   That wasn’t quite enough, however.  So, I decided to begin working as a freelancer, specializing in writing, voice acting, editor/proofreader, and database entry.  Each one I feel I am well qualified for, although the first three are my preferred choices.  As time goes on, I’m sure there will be some changes, but those three will always be right at the top.  We’ll see how things work out.

So, if you are in need of a writer, voice actor, or editor/profreader, please message me.  I promise, I will impress.

Last night, I was able to do something I haven’t been able to in a while, watch movies with my wife.  One of the movies was one on my “To Watch” list, “The Lovely Bones”.   The movie, based on the book by Alice Sebold, follows a teenager named Susie Salmon who is murdered early in the story by a neighbor.  She provides narration on her family as they get the news of her death, attempt to deal with it, and try to figure out who the murderer is.  As the story weaves, we also see how Susie deals with her death and works her way to acceptance so she can move on.

The story is a very compelling one, and I thought Mark Wahlberg did a convincing turn as a distraught willing to do whatever it takes to find the killer and bring him to justice.  Stanley Tucci also puts in a good performance as the murderous neighbor, whose identity we know from the beginning.  As good of a drama as I found it, the ending seemed to leave something feel unfinished somehow.  It folds the story up in a neat fashion, but there appeared to be missing something.  I do recommend watching it, especially if you like light thrillers and dramas.

Now it’s time for me to run off and get some more work done.  Until next week, loyal patrons…

D.J. Pitsiladis

Graphic Novel Review — Batman: The Dark Knight: Master Race

Hello ladies and gentlemen.  Welcome to the Casa!

Last week was a busy one, so I opted to take the week off from the blog.  Apologies for that.

This week I started training for a new part-time job that allows me to work from home, which fits into my desire to be Mr. Mom with our little man.  The flexibility of the schedule also works for writing and audiobook work as well, so I’m happy for that.

It’s no secret that I’m a big Batman fan.  In the past couple of weeks, a continuation of the Frank Miller classic, The Dark Knight Returns, was released.  It takes place well after Bruce Wayne faked his death in a fight against Superman.  Superman has disappeared from the world, and Wonder Woman is busy leading the Amazons of Themyscira and raising her children.  Her eldest daughter, Lara, goes to visit the frozen form of her father in his Fortress of Solitude, when she receives a distress message from the bottled up city of Kandor.  She takes the city to an expert in resizing people and things — Dr. Ray Palmer, AKA The Atom — to figure out a way to rescue the miniaturized citizens and return them to their correct height.  When Dr. Palmer succeeds, he is horrified to find that those he resized are members of a Kryptonian cult whose aim is to subjugate the Earth with themselves as the gods and goddesses.  Standing in the way are Batman and other members of the Justice League, who are pulled back into the fray.  Sadly, Lara, is convinced by the cult leader to join them in their conquest of the planet.  Can Earth’s heroes stop a large group of crazed Kryptonians, or is this humanity’s final hour?

When it comes to the Frank Miller penned Batman comics, they tend to be hit or miss.  I have enjoyed his later Batman stories with an elderly Bruce Wayne still doing his best to be a hero.  They tend to be much darker and more violent, but it fits the story format.  The Kryptonian cult make excellent villains and the way they pull Superman and Wonder Woman’s daughter to their side works well.  You get a feeling of helplessness in the beginning of the story as you see what the cult members do to take out the heroes, and that is a major part of what makes this a very compelling tale.  I had a hard time putting it down, but a person needs to sleep sometime, right?  🙂

I definitely recommend this graphic novel to any and all DC Comics and Batman fans.  It is well worth the read.

Until next week, loyal patrons…

D.J. Pitsiladis

Animated Series Review — Castlevania Season 1

Hello ladies and gentlemen.  Welcome to the Casa!

It has been an interesting week here at the Casa.  Plans for the near future are firming up regarding home repairs and the job front.  Pending a background check, I should be starting a new telecommuting job next week, which pairs up well with me being Mr. Mom.  Fingers crossed about that.

I am still actively looking for new audiobook recording projects, so if you have any suggestions of authors to work with, please share them.  Also, writing is becoming more regular, with some more stories to submit this weekend.  No takers as of yet, but not giving up after getting some accepted before.  I believe in myself as a storyteller, although some days less so than others.  I hear from other writer friends of mine that it is a common feeling.  But, enough about me.  Let’s get to the main course.

Normally, I don’t get a lot of free enough time to catch a new season, let alone a new series right when it debuts.  When I saw that Netflix came out with Castlevania, however, I felt it was something I really needed to check out right away.  Just a little history, this was the first horror themed game I remember playing as a kid, and I spent a good amount of time back in the early days of Nintendo playing it.  Keep in mind, this was back before you could save your progress and you were given only so many continues once your lives were depleted.  I will admit, I was never able to defeat the monster Dracula became after you beat the humanoid version of him.  My love for the game series has continued to this day with some of the later versions, so watching the series was a no-brainer.

The series starts with a woman demanding to meet Dracula, but not to destroy him.  She is a firm believer in science, and sees him as a kindred spirit to her in their heavily superstitious and religious world.  She asks for him to teach her and share the wonders of his mind and the natural world.  He agrees, and they eventually marry.  She helps him find the humanity inside and convinces him to go see the world as a man instead of as the vampire.  When he returns to his home, he finds it destroyed and his wife taken by the townspeople, at the behest of the local Catholic bishop.  Even moving at the speed of a vampire, he is unable to save her from being burned at the stake for witchcraft.  Distraught, Dracula warns the townspeople that they have one year to make peace with themselves and God.  On the anniversary of his wife’s death, he unleashes the full power of his monster hoards on the town.

Trevor Belmont is the tarnished hero of the series.  His family has been excommunicated by the Church for working with devilish devices in their fight against Dracula and his hoards over the centuries.  He is now a drunkard willing to work for food and drink.  When he sees a pair of priests acting as enforcers threatening harassing and threatening an old man, he steps in to intervene.  After much violence, the priests are chased off, and Trevor finds out that the old man is a member of an order called The Speakers, monks who follow prophecies more than the commands of the Catholic church.  Even though their mission is to help the citizens in their fight against Dracula, the church claims they are the reason for the attacks, that the only way to stop the monsters is to kill all of the Speakers.  Trevor, as a way to help the order, agrees to help them find a missing member in exchange for leaving town for their own safety.

I don’t want to go too much further into the series without giving away spoilers, but lets just say that Trevor finds the hero inside and allies he never thought of.  It is a bloody show, which is to be expected considering the source material.  I liked that they fully embraced the Vlad Tepes (a/k/a Vlad the Impaler, Vlad III) link to Dracula, mostly because it shows just how vicious in torture that he can be.  At the same time, you feel sympathetic to him as he is acting out in revenge for the wife the townspeople murdered.  Some additional historic details they included was how much of a villain the Catholic church was back in that era.  If you dared to go against the church edicts, which history says was more about control and power back then, you faced excommunication, death, or both.

As for the animation, I thought it really well done, akin to many of the other anime geared toward adult audiences and very well crafted.  Story wise, it was a nice build up for an origin story, which was basically what the four episodes are.  I wished the season was longer than that, but it was announced the same day the series was released that a second season was greenlit by Netflix.  I definitely look forward to the next season, where I hope they get into more of the meat of the story.  If you have Netflix and are an anime fan, I recommend this series, although not for your kids if they are under twelve or thirteen.  It might just give them nightmares.

Until next time, loyal patrons…

D.J. Pitsiladis

Book Review — “Clade” by James Bradley

Hello ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the Casa!

It has been a relatively busy two weeks, chock full of appointments and some other changes. While I can’t go into the latter at this time, I promise to provide more info in the weeks to come, once some of them gel a little further. Aside from that, my wife and I celebrated our second anniversary and our youngest son’s first birthday. The weather is finally changing to something more conducive to creation for me, so be on the lookout for some more news on that front. Now, without further ado, this week’s review of “Clade”, by James Bradley.

The story starts in an unspecified time, but seems to be around present time since the effects of climate change are just being studied. It follows the life of a family during the course of their lifetime, sometimes as seen through the eyes of those outside of the family. The picture painted shows not just how the family adapts to major world-changing events,but humanity as a whole. Whether it is hurricanes and flooding in Great Britain, a worldwide pandemic, increased scrutiny and distrust of foreigners and immigrants, and… sorry, can’t give away spoilers.

This story, as I read it, reminded me a lot of “Childhood’s End” by Arthur C. Clarke. It gave a long-term view of how humanity changes, given major events, and the possibilities of what to expect. It isn’t a science fiction story chock full of action, like most tend to be, but there are some instances where it does occur and it fits in very organically. The flow seemed a little slow at times, but none that feels even the least bit out-of-place. Overall, I enjoyed the story, and it is very much a change of pace compared to most that I’ve read. It is definitely a good read if you like powerful science fiction that makes you think.

Until next week, loyal patrons…

D.J. Pitsiladis

Book Review — ‘Handling the Undead”

Hello ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the Casa!

Well, it has been a busy week here at the Casa. I finally finished the audiobook that was delayed by so many life events and am just waiting for it to be approved. I will let you know as soon as it becomes available. I also have begun submitting short stories for open anthologies and magazines with hopes that they will accepted. I’ve also started recording auditions for other audiobooks with the hope that, between the writing and the recording, it can become a good source of income on top of what we already have coming in. Stay tuned to the blog for updates as they come.

Last week also saw the return of one of my stories in an anthology with the release of “Horrific Beginnings” by The Horror Society. My contribution to the book is “Blood Bank”, a story about what happens when a banker attempts to foreclose on a house that is home to a vampire brothel. He learns just how bad of an idea that turns out to be. You can purchase the book online by searching for it on Amazon.com, or by clicking here.

This week, we take a look at a zombie tale, but not one that follows the mainstream version of the reanimated — “Handling the Undead” by John Ajvide Lindqvist. It is in Sweden and a strange energy pulse has swept through the country, and the dead are rising from their graves. Unlike the typical zombie stories, they are not out for flesh or brains as sustenance. In fact, they are only wandering around aimlessly, but this still does not sit well with the living at all. No one knows what to make of it other than it is localized to their country and only to those who have died within a couple of months of the day of awakening. As if that isn’t enough to cause chaos, people start being able to read each other’s minds when they are within the proximity of the reawakened. The question remains, how does one handle the undead?

I thought this was a good alternative take on the zombie genre we have been inundated with over the past few years. To have the reanimated be in such small numbers and not try to make a snack out of the living is very refreshing. That being said, the story itself is one that does feel like it dragged at times. To me, it might have done with a little more action somehow, perhaps more from the living than the dead. The way the story ended was a fitting way and one that left the story open enough for a sequel, one which I would gladly read. This story is definitely a recommend from me, 3.5 out of 5.

Until next, loyal patrons…

D.J. Pitsiladis

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