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Set in a futuristic dystopian where society is governed by a council of vampires and lycanthropes, selection students are sheltered and raised in a deceptively utopian world. Strict rules are imposed to control population growth, education, and even personal interactions with other members of the Sector, all in the name of safety. When ‘A’ comes of age, she like all youth throughout Sector C and her selection classmates aren’t sent out into the world to find jobs, make money and lead happy carefree lives. They are forced to endure the rigorous physical and mental testing of Selection Week before choosing their destiny or being forced into a fate far worse. Those that make it out alive are announced as sector residence, given a position within the society, and allotted all the privileges of their chosen “culture.” However, when your only choices are vampirism, lycanthropy, breeder, blood donor, or banishment to the Wastelands, what choice do you really have? Suspenseful, intense, passionate, and awash in paranormal delights, Sector C captures the enchantment and mysteries of the supernatural world and the power of friendship.
Abby Henderson has lived her whole life under a dark cloud. When she was born, a demon called the Deacon claimed her family as his property. When she turned 13, she was traumatized by an ominous psychic vision. When she turned 14, her dad had a psychotic breakdown and tried to kill her.
She’s just turned 25, and now people are dying all around her.
This is all according to the Deacon’s plan. He believes that Abby is the key to a ritual that will unleash an ancient evil on the world, and he will stop at nothing to make sure that ritual succeeds.
Now, Abby is in the fight of her life against an enemy that defies all reason. Together with her pious girlfriend, her magic-slinging ex-teacher, and a hotheaded Amazon with a machete, Abby will have to use every trick in the book to outlast the Deacon. Because if she can’t, her next birthday is going to be Hell.
Samuel Thomas Fraser is a writer and actor from the rainy mountains of Vancouver, BC, Canada. A lover of medieval literature and truly weird fiction, Sam holds a BA in English and a Certificate in Creative Writing from Simon Fraser University. His short fiction and poetry has appeared in outlets including The Macabre Museum and Unleashed: Monsters Vs. Zombies Vol. 1. As a performer, he has inhabited such memorable stage roles as Algernon Moncrieff in The Importance of Being Earnest and Charlie Cowell in The Music Man. Abby Normal is his first novel.
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What made you want to be a writer?
When I was 19, I was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. That’s a very broad term for a whole host of developmental disorders from low-functioning autism to Asperger’s syndrome (which is what I have). Day-to-day, having Asperger’s isn’t as much of a hindrance for me as it is for some people, but social interaction can be very difficult sometimes.
In conversation, I often fixate on one topic for too long, and if it’s a topic I’m passionate about, I’ll just start monologuing and I won’t stop. On the other hand, if I don’t have as much interest in a topic, I may not say anything for ages, because I’ll feel like I have nothing I can sensibly contribute. If I do try to contribute, I’ll trip over my words and ramble while my brain screams at me that I’m not making sense and the best time to shut up was about fifteen seconds ago. Sometimes I can be too blunt, and because I can’t pick up on nonverbal cues, I won’t realize it if I offend someone until they tell me they’re offended.
This is a long way of saying that writing gives me a sense of control. When I can dictate both sides of a conversation and steer it toward a conclusion of my choosing, I feel so much more relaxed than if I have to go to a job interview or (heaven forbid) on a date. As a kid, I was always making up stories and losing myself in imaginary worlds even at times when I really shouldn’t have been. I played soccer for a bit when I was about eight or nine, but when I was on the field, I always spent more time fighting imaginary pirates or secret agents than I did chasing the ball and paying attention to the game. When I reflect on that time now, I realize that I was always trying to escape into a world that was more predictable than my own. There’s a 50% shot at victory in a soccer game, but in a battle with imaginary pirates, I would always win. I write because it gives me a clear goal to work toward, and I always know how the beginning and the middle will beget the end. That’s the same reason I enjoy acting and building LEGO sets: I always know from the first page what will happen on the last page. As for real life? Yeah, not so much.
What made you want to write this book?
Abby Normal is what happens when you take a nerdy theatre kid, stick an English degree in his hands, and pump his brain full of Beowulf, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and HP Lovecraft. As a result of my education and my general geekery, I have a very wide range of literary and cultural interests that don’t always jibe with one another. The writing of Abby Normal was a process of taking all those interests and stuffing them into one box, then trying to craft a narrative that would at least make them all look like they belonged together. In this book, the astute reader may find bits and pieces of Buffy, The Dresden Files, Doctor Who, BioShock Infinite, Alice in Wonderland, Alan Wake, and much more besides. Ultimately, I wanted to write a story that would entertain me, and if that meant ripping off (or as we say in the business, “paying homage to”) other stories that have entertained me over the years, that was a price I was willing to pay.
RENDER UNTO CAESAR…
Another match failed, and Don’s cigarette remained stubbornly unlit.
He cursed, insinuating that the match had had improper carnal knowledge of a family member. He threw a hard look at the matchbook, trying to intimidate it into cooperating with him. He promised the matchbook that this really was his last cigarette, honestly, and wasn’t a man’s last cigarette more than enough reason to give him a light?
And it was going to be his last one, too. For real this time. He had sworn to Karen he would quit when the baby arrived, and he’d already cut down to only two or three smokes a week.
But. But, but, but. He had said “when the baby arrives” and not a split second before. And Karen had been in labour nearly eleven hours now.
Jesus. Eleven hours in the worst storm to come up the coast of BC in 15 years. Don had heard of natural births before, but this was fucking ridiculous.
They’d all told him it had to be this way, Karen included. Something about ley lines and chaotic energies and ancient traditions. Something about imbalance in the mystic equilibrium, which would alter the electric potential in the atmosphere and wreak havoc on the complex mechanical systems in a hospital.
In Don’s opinion, the whole thing had a pretty pungent odour of bullshit.
He finally got his cigarette lit and took a walk around the beach. The island was a half-mile of rock and trees, with one log cabin stuck in the middle of a clearing on the nearby hill. It was what Don’s father-in-law would have called ‘a real strip-of-piss’. As lightning struck the next island over, Don told himself there wasn’t anything to worry about. Really, there wasn’t. That 200 pounds of rugby muscle wasn’t just for looks: he knew how to handle himself in a fight. So did Karen, if it came to it.
Not to mention the retinue of freaks, said a voice in his head. Then, Holy shit, there’s a Word of the Day for you.
“Lovely night for it, eh?”
Don turned and saw a man approaching him from the cabin. Enter Freak Number One, said the voice.
The man shouted at Don over the howl of the wind, and his long Inverness coat billowed behind him. “I said, ‘lovely night for it, eh?’”
Don didn’t answer as the man in the Inverness coat drew close to him. He was shorter than Don’s six-three, and much thinner, with goofy oversized ears and a square chin, but there was something about him—some presence in his bright green eyes—that was naturally, effortlessly commanding.
One of the green eyes winked, and the man in the Inverness coat whispered, “Oh, to be in Canada now that autumn’s here.” He spoke with a soft English accent and a cheeky, joking note in his voice.
Don wasn’t in much of a joking mood, and he looked straight past the Englishman to the log cabin. “How is everything in there? I mean… is she here yet?”
The Englishman shook his head. “Not quite yet, but I’d say she’s very near, going by the state of things.” He glanced at the sky as he said this, as if the ‘things’ in question would suddenly blow down from one of the dark clouds above.
Don turned back toward the water, and the Englishman closed his eyes like he was meditating. It was several minutes before the Englishman gripped Don’s shoulder and whispered, “She’s here.” As the wind died away, Don heard an infant crying in the distance. He threw his cigarette into the waves and charged toward the cabin, excited and terrified in equal measures. He could hear the calm, measured footsteps of the Englishman jogging after him.
Inside the cabin, Karen Henderson was lying on a creaky twin bed in one corner, trying to soothe what looked like a very noisy pile of old dishrags. She was a small, round-faced woman, like a child’s doll come to life. Not at all, then, like the two women flanking the bed, who could both have passed for angry villagers in a Universal monster movie.
The woman on the right was a tall, muscular Haitian with a lot of dark hair pulled back in a tight ponytail. Natalie Arnaud wore a bulky, dirty trench coat over an equally dirty tank top, khaki pants, and heavy steel-toed boots. The whole ensemble suggested that she’d been working nights in either a munitions factory or a slaughterhouse.
The woman on the left looked like an older version of Karen. Stout of frame and straight of back, ‘Grandma’ Meg McAllister had a glass of single malt scotch in her hand. It was not her first one of the night.
Don stood with his back to the door for a moment, staring at the squirming, noisy bundle in Karen’s hands, until the Englishman gave him a nudge. “I think some introductions are in order, Donald.”
Karen looked up and nodded, beckoning Don over to her. As he approached the bed, she glanced at the Englishman and said, “You too, Simon.” The two men huddled around the bedside as Karen gave the child a gentle pat on the back and said, “Don… say hi to your daughter.”
Grandma Meg put down her Scotch and gently placed the child in Don’s arms. His whole body froze as the baby’s weight settled against him, and he imagined that the slightest tremor would offend her. Only his mouth moved as he whispered, “She’s gorgeous…”
This was, of course, a clever lie. She was a newborn baby, and all newborn babies look like flesh-shaped balloons filled with prune juice and raspberry jam, but as far as Don was willing to admit, the child was perfect.
“So, what do we call her?” Simon asked. “Only I feel like ‘Small Human-in-Progress’ is a tad wordy.”
Karen smiled and shook her head. “We call her ‘Abigail’.”
Grandma Meg nodded and took a sip of her scotch. “Aye,” she said, in a broad Yorkshire accent, “Abigail Margaret ‘enderson.” Then she smirked and added, “My suggestion, of course.”
Don nodded and rocked the child in his arms. “Abigail. Abby, for short.” He leaned in close to his daughter and whispered, “Do you like that? Do you like ‘Abby’?”
Abby made a gurgling noise of assent and reached for Don’s nose with a fat, sausagey arm. As her eyes opened and she took a first look at the room around her, the party went quiet and just watched her, forgetting that there was a world beyond their log cabin.
So it came as a huge shock when somebody knocked on the door.
Knock-knock-knock. For a second, nobody moved. Then Natalie pushed aside her trench coat, letting her hand rest over the hilt of the long machete she had strapped to her leg.
Knock-knock-knock. Grandma Meg reached for the Webley revolver she’d holstered at her hip and thumbed the hammer nervously.
Knock-knock-knock. Simon closed his eyes and nodded once. “It’s him.”
The door crashed against the wall as a rush of freezing wind howled through the cabin. Don held Abby close to his chest and turned his back to the chill, while Natalie and Grandma Meg trained their weapons on the figure in the doorway.
The newcomer was not quite a man, nor was it quite a monster. It was human in shape, but it was cloaked in a set of white floor-length robes, with gold at the sleeves and collar, and a purple hood that hid its eyes.
The thing in the robes glided into the cabin, hands folded in front of it, heedless of the venomous looks it received. Behind it, the door slammed shut and locked itself. The thing whispered, “The weather is… pleasant, is it not?” Its voice was like the crunch of dead leaves underfoot, and the way the corners of its mouth twitched upward suggested that it was attempting irony.
Natalie stepped forward and touched the point of her blade to the creature’s throat. “What the hell do you want, you son of a bitch?”
The robed figure raised its hands submissively. “Such language,” it wheezed, “and in the presence of a child…”
Natalie leaned in and pressed the blade harder. The robed figure winced as the tip of the blade bit into its neck, and a thin track of blood seeped into the collar of its robes. “I’m warning you, Deacon,” she hissed.
The Deacon flicked one of his raised hands and the machete sank to the floor like a lead weight, taking Natalie with it. He moved his hand again, and the weapon leaped out of Natalie’s grip and flew toward Grandma Meg. The Deacon made a fist and the machete screeched to a halt, its tip inches from Grandma Meg’s heart.
“Do not test me, woman,” the Deacon hissed at Natalie. “I do not come here to quarrel with any of you. But, if I am met in the spirit of war, I will take steps to… defend myself!” He opened his fist, and the machete jumped forward another inch. Grandma Meg retreated back against the wall.
Simon raised his hands. “All right! Everyone just take a deep breath. This is not a fight we wish to have.” Then, pointedly, to Natalie, “Any of us.”
With a curt nod to Simon, Natalie backed away from the Deacon and raised her hands. Behind her, Grandma Meg dropped the Webley and kicked it across the floor. The Deacon flicked his hand again, and the machete veered right, sinking into the far wall.
“Cooler heads prevail…” the Deacon whispered, glancing at Simon. “And the wisdom of the ages shines bright.” He turned and glided toward Don, extending a hand. Abby whined and kicked as the Deacon’s slender fingers brushed against her swaddling clothes. “Please. I wish to consider my… investment.”
Don shook his head. He didn’t realize it, but every muscle in his body was vibrating with fear and fury. “She’s a baby…” he whispered. “She’s just a baby…”
The Deacon’s thin lips stretched into a grin. His teeth were like piano keys: shining white and perfectly straight. “Soon,” he vowed, “she will be much, MUCH more.”
Before Don could respond, the Deacon tore Abby from her father’s arms and rearranged her swaddling clothes, smiling the whole time. Don looked back at Karen, who was struggling to rise from the bed. But the labour had left her exhausted, and she sank back into the pillows.
The Deacon bowed his head over Abby and opened his mouth. Don and Karen both gagged as the Deacon pressed his tongue to Abby’s pink flesh, right over her heart, then tracked it up her chest, her throat, all the way to the top of her head. Abby began to sob and Don’s hand curled into a tight fist. But he dared not move. Not against the being that had saved his life.
When the Deacon was finished, he licked his lips and hissed, “I can taste it on her already. I can feel the energy crackling and burning within her. She will have great power before long…” The Deacon passed Abby back to her father, and he tried to calm her down. “You see? I have no ill intentions toward you, Hendersons.” He bowed low in an exaggerated gesture of mock-respect. “I will, of course, honour our arrangement, so long as you do me the same courtesy.” He straightened up again and pointed a thin, bony finger toward the wall behind Karen. “Use your time wisely, for it is short.”
Scritch-scratch-scritch. Wood chips sprinkled onto the bedspread as an invisible knife carved a number into the wall, right above Karen’s head. “Render unto Caesar,” the Deacon rasped, “that which is Caesar’s… and render unto God…” He pointed at Abby and loosed a short, devious laugh. “The things that are… God’s…”
Nobody heard him. They were too fixated on the number above Karen’s head, which glowed bright red like a fireplace ember. In the howling storm outside, a bolt of lightning struck the shore opposite the tiny strip-of-piss island.
The following thunderclap made Abby cry again and snapped everyone back to reality. Don looked back and saw the Deacon had vanished. The door of the cabin was still locked tight, and the only sign that he had ever been there was the mark carved into the wall.
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Based on Anna Todd’s novel, AFTER follows Tessa (played by Josephine Langford), a dedicated student, dutiful daughter and loyal girlfriend to her high school sweetheart, Noah (played by Dylan Arnold, as she enters her first semester in college. Armed with grand ambitions for her future, her guarded world opens up when she meets the dark and mysterious Hardin Scott (played by Hero Fiennes Tiffin), a magnetic, brooding rebel who makes her question all she thought she knew about herself and what she wants out of life. ~ Written by Aviron Pictures
Ok, lets start by pointing out that this film is based on the book AFTER by Anna Todd, who posted the first chapters of the novel on Wattpad, a free online storytelling community. The original story is said to have been based on Harry Styles and Zayn Malik from One Direction, but they were portrayed as students at Washington State University.
When her readership quickly grew passed 500 million readers on Wattpad, Anna landed herself a publishing deal and the novel was published in 2014. Paramount Pictures then acquired the rights, later returning them to Anna Todd because she wanted more freedom when it came to adapting the film. Eventually the rights were sold to Aviron and the movie was released in April of 2019.
As an author myself, I would love to have one of my books take off like this. It’s a writer’s dream come true. We’ve seen it with other fan fiction novels like the Twilight Series, the 50 Shades of Grey Series (which was actually Twilight Fan Fiction), and now AFTER just to name a few.
There is a lot of negative talk about Wattpad, and I personally have never used it because I prefer my old-school Microsoft Word, so I can’t speak to my personal experience. However, aside from AFTER, there have been a number of novels and movies that got their start on Wattpad. Most recently; The Kissing Booth (a Netflix movie) and Light as a Feather (a Hulu Series based on the Wattpad story, Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board). So, mock it all you want, but authors are being read and making things happen.
Now let’s talk about the movie… That’s why we are here, right?
I haven’t read the book but, if for no other reason than to see how true to the book the movie was, I feel like I need to read it. I didn’t think the writing was bad, it was a typical college coming of age movie. It was extremely predictable and, in that sense, written in a way that most people could find at least one character to relate to. Having gone to college right out of high school, I had at least one friend that fit into each of the character molds that Anna Todd created. There were no real plot twists or surprises. The one potential twist was set up with two in-your-face foreshadowing moments. (Spoiler Alert “It was all a lie.”)
There are some pretty shots in this film, but the cinematography is nothing to write home about.
I’ll admit the acting isn’t that great. I’m not sure if it was the director’s choice or the actors’ choices, but the long “dramatic” pauses between almost every sentence made the movie drag. I did enjoy the relationship building between Tessa and Hardin as well as between Tessa and Landon. However, I hope that there was more buildup between Tessa and Landon in the book. Landon seems like such a minor character in the movie that as a viewer, we don’t really care about him. I would imagine that in the book there is a stronger friendship between Tessa and Landon, giving us a reason to root for him. It feels like the potential for Team Noah vs. Team Hardin vs. Team Landon was there, but the movie just never made us care enough about any of the male characters (aside from Hardin) to get there. I’m hoping the book does a better job.
The copy of Wuthering Heights that we see in Hardin’s bedroom is actually the copy that author Anna Todd has had since she was a teenager.
MY FAVORITE QUOTES:
“My life before him was so simple and decided, now after him…It’s just…After.”
I think most people can relate to this quote in one way or another. We all have a moment in our life that seems to change everything. We plan… we dream… we decide our future. Then, one day, something changes. Someone comes along or something happens that completely turns our world upside down and our plans fall through, our dreams fade away, and our future which was once so clear becomes uncertain.
TO SUM IT UP:
Despite the fact that I’ve seen and read a number of reviews that completely trashed this film, I have definitely seen worse. I didn’t hate it. I enjoyed it for what it was, mindless entertainment… a chance to watch the good girl fall for the bad boy in hopes of changing him. I know, when I was young and stupid, I tried to change a few bad boys too. Trust me, in real life, it never works.
I will say this though, the demographic this film is geared toward – young teenage girls – seem highly inappropriate. There isn’t a lot of overly sexual content in this film, but I have seen previews for the sequel and it definitely steps up the sexual content a few notches. So, all the 13 and 14-year-old girls who feel in love with Hardin Scott in the first film are going to really be exposed to more-than-necessary sexual content when they hide away in their bedrooms watching movie number two. On top of that, this movie also makes light of underage drinking, smoking, and use of e-cigarettes, etc.
TELL ME WHAT YOU THOUGHT!!!
Have you seen AFTER? If so, let me know your thoughts in the comments below. If not, I recommend seeing it for yourself and forming your own opinion. Have you read the book? If so, let me know if I should read it!
THE AFTER SERIES
THE LANDON SERIES
ANNA TODD (Author/Writer/Producer) is the New York Times bestselling author of the After series of books, The Spring Girls, and the recent The Brightest Stars.
Always an avid reader, Todd began writing stories on her phone on Wattpad, the reading and writing multiplatform for original stories, with After becoming its most-read series with over 1.5 billion reads.
The print edition of After was published in 2014 by Simon & Schuster and has since been released in over 30 languages with more than 11 million copies sold worldwide. After has been a #1 bestseller across the globe including Italy, Germany, France and Spain. She has since written eight additional novels and serves as a producer and screenwriter on the upcoming film adaptation of After We Collided, the sequel to After.
Todd has been hailed by Cosmopolitan as “the biggest literary phenomenon of her generation.” A native of Ohio Anna, her husband and son currently live in Los Angeles.
Find her at AnnaTodd.com, on Twitter at @AnnaTodd, on Instagram at @AnnaTodd, and on Wattpad as Imaginator1D.
Fans of Powerless, The Testing, Hunger Games and the Maze Runner will crave this world of iniquitous secrets, intrigue, and desire to find a place in society.
Divinic. Somatic. Psionic. Naturalist. Who will you be?
Having a superpower is ordinary. Your Power determines your job, social class, and future success.
But Ugene doesn’t have a Power. The only thing special about him is that he isn’t special at all. Ugene is Powerless.
So when the most prominent biomedical research company in the city offers Ugene a solution, he jumps at the possibility to be ordinary. All he has to do is agree to allow them to use him in their research. But the longer he stays at the research facility, the more he realizes something isn’t right.
Friendships are forged. Trust is broken built and broken. And everything Ugene thought he understood and believed is called into question.
Who can Ugene trust in his search for answers? What is he willing to sacrifice for Powers?
STARR Z. DAVIES is a Midwesterner at heart, and lives in Wisconsin with her husband and kids. From a young age, Starr has been obsessed with superheroes like Batman and Captain America, which inspired her novel, ORDINARY. If Starr had a superpower, she would be an Empath, because she is an emotional sponge and easily relates to how others feel.
While pursuing a degree in Creative Writing from the University of Wisconsin, Starr gained a reputation as the “Character Assassin” because she has a habit of utterly destroying her characters both emotionally and physically.
In her free time, Starr loves watching Doctor Who or anything with superheroes, reading books (duh!), writing about her favorite fantasy stories (Song of Ice and Fire, Mistborn, The Wheel of Time), and staring out the window as she dreams up more stories. Oh, and sometimes she steps out the door.
Writing is in my bones. I think I wrote my first short story when I was in fourth grade. In middle school I spent a lot of time honing my creative skills by building unusual scenarios in my head and sharing them with others. By high school, I was really into screenwriting—because I love movies—and I carried at least two or three notebooks around with me at all times. Each notebook was a different screenplay. The stories were all garbage, but it really spurred me on. In my “new adult” years, I wrote a couple of really dumb romance books. I’m not sure why. I don’t even like reading romance. The books were completely unsatisfying and I quickly scrapped them.
When Lord of the Rings came to the big screen, it changed my life forever. I knew I wanted ot write something different at that time, but I wasn’t sure which direction to go. Then I watched Lord of the Rings and read Dragonlance and it was like a lightbulb went on. Now, if I read a book, it needs to have some sort of fantastic element. When I write, it has to bend or break the rules of reality in some way. I can’t NOT write anymore. It’s a form of escapism and is as much a part of me as my bones, and as necessary as air. I get bored when I’m not writing!
Switching Perspectives: Writing the Opposite Sex
I’ve read books where male writers create needy, clingy, or whiney female characters and it drives me absolutely crazy. I also have read books by female writers create ultra-masculine, hero-complex, too hot for school male characters, and I also can’t stand them. Personally, I feel like I have a small bit of an advantage. My stepson is older now, and I’ve been around him, watched him interact with others and venture out into the world. I’ve listened to him talk about becoming an adult, girls, and politics in a way that is definitely very much indicative of guys his age. When I write, I find that channeling some of his voice helps me create stronger male characters.
Ugene is certainly no exception. He starts off a bit weak and whiny (for very specific reasons), but that changes quickly. I’ve been told (by male beta readers) that I do a good job depicting male emotion and connection, and that I really know how to nail those awkward moments. Honestly, I find it easier to write male characters than female characters.
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Did you participate in last week’s #WritingWednesday post? It was about an unopened box. If you haven’t posted your response, click HERE so you can do that now. Then, make sure you check in here ~ every Wednesday ~ for the latest #WritingWednesday writing prompt! Now, back to today’s regularly scheduled post…
Remember, #WritingWednesday is an EASY, STRESS-FREE, weekly writing challenge.
Read the writing prompt below,
Spend 5 minutes writing (in your own voice or the voice of a character you’re writing) whatever comes to mind,
DON’T EDIT what you write! IT DOES NOT HAVE TO BE PERFECT!
The goal is 5 minutes of creativity.
Today I am writing in the voice of The Twin, a character in one of my current ‘WIP’ manuscripts.
Today’s writing prompt:
Have you ever been in a fun house? You know the kind with the mirrors covering every wall. You go in a dark entryway and come face to face with what seems like a thousand clones of yourself. It’s not dark, not really, but it isn’t light either. Because the walls are made out of mirrors, you can’t tell which way to go or even which ways you can go.
That’s me. I’m the mirror.
They call me ‘The Twin.’ They have since I was a little girl.
“Which one are you? Are you The Twin?” they would ask.
Sometimes they were right, but most times they were wrong. I was pretty good at mimicking others when I was young. Now that I’m older, they’ve stopped guessing. I guess when you’re always wrong, you stop playing the game.
I don’t mimic people any more. I become them. If you’re my target, good luck. You’re going to need it.
Alright, now it’s your turn. I’d love to see what today’s writing prompt [MIRROR] inspires in you. So, if you are willing, go to the comment section below and start typing. Take 5 minutes and let’s see what you come up with!
What books have made your March 2020 reading list? Comment below and let me know! Then, click on the links below to check out my latest post for the New York Times Top Ten Lists and see which books you’d like to add to your reading list!
What is your name and do you write under a pen name? My name is Esraa Yousry same name as my Pen Name
Where do you call home? Besides my own house? In a library but of course, my house with my beloved family and my loved ones.
Obviously, we know you are an author, but some writers have other jobs as well. Do you have another occupation? Do you believe you’re any good at it? Do you like what you do? I’m a designer, video editor, and screenwriter. I’m good at directing also.
What is your family like? When I say My family is the best I mean it. Incredibly, wonderfully, talented and loving. We’d die for each other.
Do you have any hobbies, other than writing? What do you enjoy doing? Of course, astrology is my favorite hobby. I’m a Taurus so I love knowing more about Astrology.
Not to pry too much, but do you remember your first love? And how can I forget? even though we are not together anymore but I still respect him to this day. That’s all.
What is the most terrible thing that ever happened to you? That’s a hard question, many terrible things happened to me that I can’t even name one, honestly.
What or who inspired you to start writing? And how long have you been writing? My family, that’s where it all began, they inspired me to start all of this. Professionally? for three or two years. As a hobby? maybe five years ago.
Who is your role model? My role model is Maya Angelou for sure.
What is your greatest fear? My greatest fear is losing my loved ones. Maybe that’s why I’m overprotecting them, that sometimes they think that I’m controlling them.
Do you prefer e-books, paperbacks, hard-covers or audio-books? I’m more into paperbacks, hard-covers.
Have you ever read a book just based on its cover? Maybe once? you know they always say never judge a book by its cover, but I did once and it was the worst.
What is your favorite film based on a book? Let me be clear, I hate when books are turned into movies. It loses its identity.
What is your favorite book genre at the moment? Literature.
What books have made it onto your wish list recently? And why? I don’t have any on my wish list recently, I don’t know why or maybe It’s just me. But nothing really attracts me right now. Recently, books are cheap and that’s my own opinion maybe it’s wrong.
What book are you reading at the moment? And in what format? At the moment, I’m not reading any. I’m currently supervising the writing of some new books by new writers.
Let’s shift somewhat and talk about your latest story.
What is the name of your most recent book and if you had to sum it up in 20 or fewer words, what would you say? The name of my most recent book is In Your Absence: Emerald Lover. It’s all about relationships, culture, beauty, love, family and pain.
Is the above book part of a series? Yes, the book is part of the In Your Absence series.
How did you come up with the covers? Who designed the covers of your book(s)? The cover is Inspired by my African culture and roots. The cover is designed by me.
Did you listen to any particular songs while writing your book(s)? The answer is yes. Actually, the songs I was listening to inspired me to write more of what I even expected to write in this book.
How did you come up with the title for your book(s)? The title is a secret, that only a few will understand but maybe if you read it you will understand why I gave it this title.
Do you have a book trailer? If so, where can we watch it? No, I don’t have a book trailer.
How did you come up with the idea for your latest book? My culture, my family and my own experiences.
Let’s talk now about your writing process.
What is your writing style like? Are you a pantster or a plotter? I change my mind a lot so, I’m a Pantser. I start at the beginning and let the characters and situation determine what happens next.
Are you a self-published/Indie author or did you publish through a traditional publishing company? I’m a self-published author.
If you’re a self-published/Indie author what made you go that route instead of the traditional publishing route? I choose to be a self-published author so I can do whatever I want, I can control my whole writing process from writing to publishing.
What’s the best advice that you have been given when it comes to writing? “To pen down something isn’t a big deal. But to pen, something that has never been said or something spoke like never before takes courage and skill.”
What advice would you give someone who wants to start writing? My advice is to ask themselves why do you want to become a writer? If you want to do it for the love of the writing itself then do it, if not for the whole process then just let it go. It’s not for you. But if you do it for the whole Idea and process of writing then just try to be professional in every way and in everything that you do, that doesn’t mean that you can’t make mistakes. Of course not, you’ll fail many times but it makes you more educated. Write on a regular basis and know who you are writing for.
Mark Lukens has been writing since the second grade when his teacher called his parents in for a conference because the ghost story he’d written had her a little concerned.
Since then he’s had several stories published and four screenplays optioned by producers in Hollywood. He is the author of many bestselling books including: Ancient Enemy, Sightings, Devil’s Island, The Exorcist’s Apprentice, Followed, and more. He is a member of The Horror Writers Association.
He grew up in Daytona Beach, Florida. But after many travels and adventures, he settled down near Tampa, Florida with his wonderful wife and son … and a stray cat they adopted.
It started with rumors of a plague that turned people into flesh-eating predators. The governments of the world and the media tried to suppress it, but little by little the truth got out. The economy had been in a freefall, banks closed, protests turned into riots, people began hoarding and panicking. And then on a Friday morning, the collapse came.
After the government office where Ray Daniels works shuts down, he just wants to get home to his wife and kids. On his arduous journey home, Ray gets a call from Craig, his supervisor, inviting him and his family to his home where the answers to the collapse and the Ripper Plague are waiting for him, but the phone call breaks up and Ray only hears the word Avalon.
When Ray gets home to his family, the TV stations have been replaced with a loop of the President of the United States declaring martial law. The electricity and water are shut off soon after that. They hole up in their bedroom for the night – they have no weapons, little food, and no information about why everything collapsed so quickly.
After Ray’s neighbor, Helen, holds a secret meeting to try to fight back against martial law, she asks Ray to help her blind daughter Emma, promising that Emma can help him and his family find the way to Avalon. But what is Avalon, and what does Emma know about it?
Hours later, after soldiers in gas masks take Helen away, Ray has no choice but to flee with his family. Society has crumbled within the last twenty-four hours. Hordes of flesh-eating infected are loose on the streets. The police and military are doing their best to fight back, but they are losing the battle now. The collapse is here, and Ray wants the answers that Craig has, but he must keep his family alive first.
Josh Hooper has always been a screw-up. He’s done his share of jail time and has battled drugs and alcohol throughout his life. But since moving to Pittsburgh with his sister, Josh has gotten clean and turned his life around . . . just in time for the apocalypse.
As society begins to collapse on a Friday morning, Josh drives into the city to get some lifesaving medications for his nephew. When he tries to avoid the mass of panicked people and gridlocked traffic downtown, Josh is arrested, beaten, and detained.
Josh and some of the other uninfected are taken to a FEMA camp miles outside the city as the Ripper Plague continues to spread. They are taken to the camp for their protection, but Josh soon realizes that the camp is not what it seems to be . . . he believes terrible things may be happening there. Not only does he need to get back to his sister and nephew, but he needs to escape the evil brewing in the camp.
At night, while making his plans to escape, Josh dreams of a beautiful blind woman who calls to him, inviting him to head south to join her and others. And there’s someone else in his dreams, a man in the shadows with eyes that shine in the darkness, an evil man who will try to stop Josh and the others. But Josh can’t worry about people he sees in his dreams, people that he convinces himself aren’t real, because even though the chances of his sister and nephew being alive and uninfected are dwindling, he has to try to get to them.
Luke is not a nice man. He’s not a good person. But he’s a fighter . . . a survivor. A former MMA fighter who was sent to prison for attempted murder, Luke is accepted into a crime family run by Vincent, and during his years there he’s trained in weapons and the art of delivering pain.
When civilization collapses, Luke is sent to protect Vincent’s brother and his family. Luke finds the family slaughtered and the brother responsible, already infected by the Ripper Plague. After killing the brother, Luke knows he needs to flee the city. But with martial law declared and Vincent vowing revenge, sending the assassin who trained Luke after him, Luke’s chances of getting out of the city don’t look very good.
But Luke won’t give up, and with help from a woman who’s nearly as skilled and deadly as he is, Luke finds himself heading out of the city, on a new path, a journey south. In his dreams, Luke has seen a beautiful blind woman calling him south to be with her and the others. But there’s someone else in his dreams, a shadowy man of pure evil who is amassing an army to collect and control all the food and dwindling resources left behind. Not only will Luke and Wilma have to contend with the hordes of rippers on their journey, but they will have to run right through the shadowy man’s dark army.
Ray, Emma, and Mike are on their way to Doug’s cabin in the woods, their hope of refuge, when they drive into a trap in a small mountain town in West Virginia, a trap set by the Dark Angels, a gang controlled by the shadowy man they’ve seen in their dreams, the man who calls himself the Dragon.
Just when things are bleakest, Josh helps save Ray and the others. Josh is shocked when he sees Emma, the woman he’s seen in his dreams, the woman who has helped him along the way. And Josh has also seen Ray and Mike in his dreams. And he’s seen Luke and others. He knows that they are all meant to be together . . . if they can survive.
Miles away, Luke has made his way south from the Camp, but he gets trapped in the small town of Heaven, West Virginia, hunkered down in a building, the place surrounded by Dark Angels. But Luke has weapons and ammo to hold them off for a little while. A Dark Angel calls out to Luke on a megaphone, trying to convince him to surrender and promising that he has a surprise coming for him.
After a nearly-deadly encounter with a horde of rippers, Ray drives Josh, Emma, and Mike right into the battle in Heaven, West Virginia. And soon they are banded together with Luke. But now they are trapped together, making plans to escape, as the surprise the Dark Angels have promised comes into town.
Will they make it to their refuge, the cabin in the mountains? And if they do, is the refuge truly the safe place they’ve been dreaming of . . . or is it even more dangerous?
Kate Crawford’s world was shattered when the Collapse came. It seemed like one moment she was a university professor of Anthropology, and the next moment she was hiding in her home from the Ripper Plague, tortured by nightmares of a shadowy man with shining eyes. And then the Dark Angels came to her neighborhood, marking front doors and searching homes – she had no choice but to leave.
She planned to travel west, back to her hometown in the mountains of North Carolina, back to an oppressive family she vowed never to return to . . . but she has nowhere else to turn now.
Before she can even make it out of the city, she’s stuck on the roof of a building with a possible madman, the streets below overrun with tens of thousands of rippers. But she knows she needs to get out of the city, because the blind woman in her dreams tells her to head west, telling her that there are others like her, that they will all be together . . . they just need to find each other first.
Ray, Mike, Emma, Luke, and Josh think they’ve found their refuge at the West Virginia cabin, but it all falls apart when Luke finds tracks in the snow at the edge of the woods. Someone has been watching them. A ripper? A Dark Angel? Someone else? Soon they find their stalker, a young woman, but is she who she says she is? Can they believe her story?
To the south, in North Carolina, Lisey brings a horde of rippers to Kate’s parents’ home where Kate, Brooke, Petra, and Max are holed up. They don’t have time to pack their truck as they try to get away from the mob of rippers. But even if they get away, they don’t realize that something is waiting for them in the shadows of the woods just down the street.
Each group faces its own challenges, yet they are getting closer and closer to coming together. They need to be strong because the Dragon and his evil forces have ramped up their game, herding them where he wants them, ready for the final attack.
I’ve always been a writer because I’ve always loved to write, but I guess I first considered myself a professional writer when I optioned my first screenplay. Even though none of my scripts were ever made into movies (at least not yet), it still gave me a thrill that complete strangers in Hollywood felt that my writing was good enough to be made into a film, and production companies were considering investing huge sums of money on stories that had just popped into my head. After a few years of pursuing my screenwriting dream, my dad and my best friend both told me I should look into self-publishing on Amazon/Kindle. So I did. I’d been working a regular job for years, and by that time my wife and I had saved up some money. I told her that I wanted to quit my job and really pursue writing one hundred percent for the first time in my life. I told her I would give it six months, and if it didn’t work out I could always find another job. Up until that point I felt that I had only been giving my writing part of my time and not taking it seriously, treating it more like a hobby, hoping for a lucky break. It was scary to quit my job and pour everything into my passion, but my wife agreed immediately that I should try it—she knew how much writing meant to me. I turned one of my screenplays, Ancient Enemy, into a novel and put it on Amazon near the end of 2013, and to my surprise it took off in a few months. Complete strangers were buying and reading my book. I felt that same thrill I had when I had optioned those four screenplays, but this was even better—it was finally a dream come true for me.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE MOVIE?
It’s difficult to select a favorite movie without breaking them down into genres: favorite horror movies, or sci-fi movies, or comedies, etc. But if I had to pick only one movie as my favorite, it would be Lonesome Dove (which was actually a mini-series on TV in the late eighties, so I hope that counts). I watched Lonesome Dove when it first came on TV (I believe in 1989). I was mesmerized, and I immediately bought and read the book written by Larry McMurtry. I’d never been a huge fan of westerns at that time, but Lonesome Dove seemed to be different than a typical western; it was an epic journey and the characters seemed familiar yet larger-than-life at the same time. I’ve seen many great movies over the years, but that one is still my favorite.
WHICH OF YOUR NOVELS CAN YOU IMAGINE BEING MADE INTO A MOVIE?
I can imagine most of my novels being made into movies, and I would be thrilled if any of them ever made it to the screen. I always thought Ancient Enemy would be a really scary movie on the screen, if the special effects were good enough. That novel started out as a screenplay originally and had some interest for a little while, but nothing came of it. Sightings also started out as a screenplay and it was optioned for years, so I think it would transfer well into film. The Exorcist’s Apprentice started out as a treatment (but the studio passed on it at the last moment), and I could still see that as a movie, or even a limited series. I would love to see Devil’s Island and my latest Dark Days post-apocalyptic series made into films or a series.
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We are on day 7 of the quarantine and I’ve already begun to run out of shows to binge watch. Luckily, I have a large stack of books patiently waiting for me to crack their spine. Ironically, the first book on my list is Parasite by Mira Grant.
A decade in the future, humanity thrives in the absence of sickness and disease. We owe our good health to a humble parasite — a genetically engineered tapeworm developed by the pioneering SymboGen Corporation. When implanted, the Intestinal Bodyguard worm protects us from illness, boosts our immune system — even secretes designer drugs. It’s been successful beyond the scientists’ wildest dreams. Now, years on, almost every human being has a SymboGen tapeworm living within them.
But these parasites are getting restless. They want their own lives . . . and will do anything to get them.
Mira Grant lives in California, sleeps with a machete under her bed, and highly suggests you do the same. Mira Grant is the pseudonym of Seanan McGuire – winner of the 2010 John W. Campbell Award for best new writer. Find out more about the author at http://www.miragrant.com or follow her on twitter @seananmcguire.
Have you read Parasite by Mira Grant? I’d love to know what you thought of it. Comment below and share your thoughts, good and bad!
C.A. Gray is the author of three YA Amazon bestselling trilogies: PIERCING THE VEIL (magic and quantum physics meet Arthurian legends), THE LIBERTY BOX (dystopian metaphysics and mind control technology), and UNCANNY VALLEY (dystopian coming-of-age with neuroscience and super intelligent A.I). She starts with some scientific concept that she’s interested in learning more about herself, and then creates lots of epic chaos and high-stakes action to go along with it. Her stories are free of gratuitous violence, language, and sexual content, and she abhors depressing endings… but they’re not all kittens and rainbows either!
She also listens to and reviews audiobooks on her website (www.authorcagray.com), Goodreads, Instagram, and on her podcast, Clean Audiobook Reviews, where she also occasionally interviews other authors.
By day, C.A. Gray practices naturopathic medicine, podcasts, and writes medical non-fiction under her maiden name (Lauren Deville). She lives in Tucson, AZ with her husband Frank, and together they maintain an occasionally contentious film review blog (under her real name: Lauren Baden. Three names. Yes.) She’s kind of the queen of multitasking–so in her spare time, she creates whatever meals or crafts she found most recently on Pinterest, drinks lots of coffee (Aeropress btw) and occasional wine (reds–and she saves the corks for craft projects), works out (while listening to audiobooks), and studies the Bible (about half of the podcasts on Christian Natural Health are scripture meditations). …She does sleep, too.
Join her newsletter for best-of-the-month reads, freebies and giveaway information, as well as new releases! http://eepurl.com/F3rof
I love when I get to interview a guest author and really get to know them. C.A. Gray is a pleasure and I’m proud to be hosting her book.
What can we expect from you in the future?
I’m working on something a little different this time. It’s an early chapter reader/middle grade series in which three 9-10 year old kids (Gabe, Elizabeth, and Marty) apprentice under a time-traveling magician called Thrylos, traveling to various critical moments in history. They must battle against the evil magician Kakovoulos, ensuring that history turns out as we know it, rather than taking a much darker turn. I love the historical research I get to do for this one! For instance: did you know that Julius Caesar was once kidnapped by pirates? Or that Plato was once sold as a slave? Or that in 1908 an asteroid nearly hit London that would have wiped out the entire city? True stories, all. Not sure how my kids are going to save the day, but they totally are… Now I just have to figure out the whole illustration thing! 🙂
How did you come up with the title of your first novel?
The first novel was Intangible, and the original name for it was Ripple Effect. It referred to a quantum mechanical principle, but it was just so vague. Intangible isn’t much better, I’ll admit, but I wanted an alliteration theme with all one word: Intangible, Invincible, and Impossible is what I came up with. I know better now — I need to have some keywords in there!
Who designed your book covers?
Now I do them all on Design Crowd so each is done by a different person, though I’ve used a few designers more than once.
How did you come up with name of this book?
Actually I originally intended to call it just Bloodline. It was the name of a sermon series at my church, and I thought, that would be an awesome book title!! But then I decided, not enough keywords for Amazon searching. And since it was about descendants of Atlantis, and that’s a BIG keyword, bingo. (Then I ended making Bloodline the name of Kai’s band.)
What is your favorite part of this book and why?
I LOVED writing the initial tension between Ada and Kai as they got to know each other, and Ada wasn’t sure what his deal was. I knew what was happening and I still felt the suspense!
If you could spend time with a character from your book whom would it be? And what would you do during that day?
Oh I’d totally hang out Esme (I’d say Kai, but I’m married) 😉 and she’d take me to the Mermaid Cove where we would swim with the mermaids! And then she’d take me to the Faerie Glen. I never even give the faeries any page time in this book, but I’d like to meet them.
Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?
I think all of my main characters have aspects of me in them, because I imagine how I would react in a given situation or how I might say something, and I put that in their heads or their mouths. But I suspect I’m pulling all of my characters from experience, whether it be myself, others, or fictional archetypes. You write what you know.
Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story?
A little bit of both. I have outlines, but the outlines are pretty fluid. Sometimes as I’m writing a scene, I realize that something needs to be said or done that I didn’t plan for, and I just go with it.
Convince us why you feel your book is a must read.
This book is a bunch of my favorite things, all meshed together: romantic suspense, a Cinderella-ish story, a secret society, mermaids, magic, and mythology… how could you not be intrigued? 🙂
Is there an writer which brain you would love to pick for advice? Who would that be and why?
Marissa Meyer or Orson Scott Card. Both of them have such distinctive narrative voices (though completely different from one another.) I could read anything by either of them, no matter what it’s about, and be engrossed. I want to know how they pull that off!
When sweet Ada Edwards meets the mysterious Kaison Hughes, lead singer of the biggest band in the world, she can’t understand what he sees in her. Despite everyone’s warnings about him, she’s rapidly falling in love. But it’s obvious he has a secret, and he’s not all he appears to be.
Kai’s life isn’t his own, and his fame isn’t the half of it. As a member of a secret organization known as the Elioud, descended from the Atlantean daughters of the Pleiades, he’s been commissioned with a task: to reintegrate the lost line of Maia into their ranks. It just so happens that Ada is the one they’ve been looking for. He doesn’t know what they intend to do to her, and he doesn’t care. All he wants is the prize for a successful mission: one unqualified wish, which he intends to spend on his beloved sister’s freedom.
There’s just one problem: Kai’s falling in love with Ada, too.
Did you participate in last week’s #WritingWednesday post? It was all about Dreams. If you haven’t posted your response, click HERE so you can do that now. Then, make sure you check in here ~ every Wednesday ~ for the latest #WritingWednesday writing prompt! Now, back to today’s regularly scheduled post…
Remember, #WritingWednesday is an EASY, STRESS-FREE, weekly writing challenge.
Read the writing prompt below,
Spend 5 minutes writing (in your own voice or the voice of a character you’re writing) whatever comes to mind,
DON’T EDIT what you write! IT DOES NOT HAVE TO BE PERFECT!
The goal is 5 minutes of creativity.
Today I am writing in the voice of Tanja, a character in one of my current ‘WIP’ manuscripts.
Today’s writing prompt:
THE UNOPENED BOX
A coffin is just a box. A box we fill with the bodies of our lost loved ones. A box we fill with tears at the passing of friends and family. A box designed to keep out unwanted pests and vermin, vandals and thieves. A box not to difficult to unlock, from the inside, even when buried six feet under. All it takes is a little magic and a talented guide.
I am that guide!
I learned the ritual from my mother and my Aunt Clara when I was only ten years old. Although they were well known throughout our community and thought of as true practitioners, they had only scratched the surface of what it really means to be a necromancer.
By the time I was eleven, my mother was gone, sealed in a pine box and buried six feet below the earth’s surface. For the last six years, I’ve been salting the earth, above her body, weekly to protect her remains from those who practice the black magics. She was powerful, maybe not as powerful as I, but powerful enough that others might want to steal an ounce of blood, a sliver of skin, a lock of hair, or even a bone or two in an effort to intensify their own magic. It would work too. That’s why I salt the earth. That’s why I’ve never left New Orleans. That’s why, when Operation Atlas came knocking on my door I insisted that if I were to work with them, I wouldn’t be one of their pets, locked in a cage… or cell… or wherever they kept them at the corporate offices. When I showed them what I was capable of, they agreed to let me stay in my home in New Orleans. Not that they really had a choice.
Alright, now it’s your turn. I’d love to see what today’s writing prompt [THE UNOPENED BOX] inspires in you. So, if you are willing, go to the comment section below and start typing. Take 5 minutes and let’s see what you come up with!
What books have made your March 2020 reading list? Comment below and let me know! Then, click on the links below to check out my latest post for the New York Times Top Ten Lists and see which books you’d like to add to your reading list!