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Found 3 results

  1. J.T. Strand Finding Lucifer Speculative (supernatural horror) COMPS: The Hunger by Alma Katsu and You Let Me In by Camilla Bruce HOOK LINE: Tormented by nightmares, a young professor must stop a shadowy figure, who achieved immortality through cannibalistic ceremonies, before he is consumed by it. Ben is a young professor who has just moved to the countryside, while his girlfriend, Jen, is on fellowship abroad. Coping with loneliness, Ben experiences episodes of sleepwalking and sees a shadowy figure in his dreams which turns all pleasant memories into wicked ones. While up nights, he befriends raccoons by leaving them scraps of food. Sleep-deprived, he decides to let the raccoons nibble on his arm, only to wake up to the worst pain of his life. Finding Lucifer is a dark tale of a man resisting an ancient evil, threatening to overtake him. As the pain worsens, Ben grows to understand that only through murder can he relieve it. Ben’s love for Jen helps him combat the urge, at least for a while. After a couple people have been killed, Ben discovers a hidden room containing the skeleton of a child and gnostic texts dating back thousands of years. When a peculiar stranger shows up looking for a missing person, Ben learns that only he can face down an evil that has claimed thousands of lives. Now Ben must thwart the shadowy figure before it consumes him and uses his body to continue a cannibalistic killing spree. SAMPLE: “I’m not exactly sure, but it would probably look to you like a jewelry box that‘s strangely marked.” Franco’s gaze didn’t waver. “Maybe a music box?” I said taking a step inside. “C’mon, I’ll show you what I found.” I was halfway to the root cellar door when he called out. “I can’t go in there…” He croaked. I turned. He seemed smaller and somehow weaker from inside the garage. His eyes had lost their serenity and he became a normal person without any special presence or empathy. Instead of a man of steel hiding untold amounts of wisdom he now appeared more like a desperate drug addict hoping to score another hit of oxy. “Unless you want to see my whole body burn up like my hands did on Saturday,” His voice was weaker and almost pathetic in its tone. “He’s done something to protect it from those like me.” “I’ll bring it out.” I went into the cellar and made a beeline towards the silver music box, not taking my eyes off of it for fear that I would see the boy’s ghost, or maybe even the priest’s. That thought made me tremble—the mad priest becoming a ghost that perpetually haunted the place, spouting off Latin as he hit me with an ancient book. After grabbing the box, I practically jogged out of the cellar, then the garage, not wanting to even glance at Franco’s diminished state. Once I joined him outside he immediately snatched the box and opened it. The discordant rhythm began instantly. We both stared as it played. I was now somewhat accustomed to the sound’s perverse symmetry. Yet the longer Franco stared at it, the wider his eyes and the more dilated his pupils became. His mouth contorted into a jagged grimace that was somehow visually appropriate to the melody. His face froze in this position for a moment before it began to turn red, then purple. It was like he couldn’t breathe. He started shaking and emitting a crinkling sound as his eyes filled with fire. I thought of Father Grisholm’s rapid decline to madness and was about to remove the box from his grasp when I noticed his white knuckles and a depression in the metal. He was trying to crush it. “Franco.” I wanted to do something, but felt helpless. His face was now a mixture of red, blue and purple. Around his neck, the color was so deep that it was almost black. “Franco.” I repeated, still unable to tell if he was breathing. The crinkling sound intensified. “Franco.” I said louder, shutting the box as I spoke. The instant the music stopped he threw it into the garage. It ricocheted upward off the rear of the Subaru before crashing to the ground at our feet. He took deep gasping breaths—his eyes burning with fire and his mouth still contorted. With the color slowly fading from his complexion, he kicked the box under the car. After swallowing with difficulty, Franco looked up and down the length of the house before turning away in disgust, still breathing heavily.
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  3. Robert Pfaff, Shrunken Heads, Book Reports Book Reports: The Art of Fiction (Gardener) 1. I have loved John Gardener since I read Grendel in high school. He validated my instincts. For example, I like to break the rules but have always believed that you have to master the rules before you can break them well. Learning a musical instrument or a foreign language teaches you the same idea. You must understand and appreciate structure before you can manipulate it. 11. 1) He debunks certain myths like “Write what you know.” It’s a good departure point for a first book, and my first book is a memoir. But I prefer to write about topics that inspire me to learn new topics, even when it requires years of research to acquire a credible grasp of the subject matter. 2) He embraced the idea of crossing genres, and blending thematic element, which has been on my mind a lot (and often the subject of online debate). I struggle with the concept of genre. My marketing research tells me that genre exists from the summit, as boxes. There are clearly westerns, romance, murder mysteries, etc.…. From a lower altitude, the idea of genre starts to blur. For example, one of my comparables was Karen Robard’s “The Last Victim,” pitched as a ‘romance supernatural suspense thriller.” At the granular lever – the decision-maker’s level, the idea of genre appears to depend on buzz words that appeal to an individual agent or editor. To use one example, I discovered that an Author’s Salon representative with a major publishing house who asked for my manuscript at the conference also purchased the rights to a “supernatural suspense” novel in 2013. I would not have unearthed that information by searching under the genre “horror” on Publisher’s Marketplace. I had to experiment and analyze multiple, related keywords. 3) The concept of the novel as the fictional dream became important to me: shorter, action-based scenes that use vivid imagery and senses to tell the story and induce empathy in the reader, without tripping over false allegory. I make use of one brief allegory in the novel, because psychoanalysts are prone to “deconstruct” simple nursery rhymes or myths to an erotic extreme. This hyperbole fits squarely within the character’s mentality. III. I read the book when I first started this program more than six months ago, and reviewed my notes before I answered these questions. I do not recall anything that directly contradicts what is taught in this course. His approach is less prescriptive – he does not adhere to a particular kind of plot structure, but the “nuts and bolts” six-act, two-goal plot structure taught in the Authors Salon is what I needed to learn at this time. Writing the Breakout Novel (Maas) I. Overall, his insights into how the publishing industry works and what agents and editors are looking for is the overall best lesson gleaned from this book. II. 1) He validated both how I defined the protagonist and the antagonists. The protagonist is the person who has the most to learn from the events that transpire. The primary antagonist is not a one-dimensional serial killer, but a complex, oddly sympathetic monster who believes “it” liberates souls from bad brains. The “red herring” antagonist is a complex, sympathetic young woman at first, troubled by delusions about replicas and robots. 2) He inspired me to move the backstory into the novel as a murder mystery subplot. In the first two drafts, five of Leonard’s former patients and lovers were “missing,” but never participated in the plot. Now they have left the wings and play important roles in driving a subplot that I believe makes for a tightly coiled plot. To save his daughter’s soul from the vengeful spirits, he must risk everything tracking down a serial killer that both 1) has wielded the vengeful spirits embodied in Marta determined to possess his daughter but also 2) holds the mystical secret to her salvation. 3)) His emphasis on bringing the reader deeply as possible into the character’s experience, whatever the point of view, and his emphasis on credible setting within a given historical and cultural setting. In this respect, I have studied down to the historical weather reports – and through subscriptions to The Boston Globe archives – to provide a surreal narrative and its supernatural elements with historically accurate underpinnings. III) Again, I read this book six months ago when I first started this course, and I do not recall direct contradictions. Perhaps the only exception that qualifies is that he validated my initial, first-person “flash-back” approach to writing this novel from a point in the future, as a series of first-person letters from father to daughter. I see where that is discouraged as less marketable in the Author’s Salon modules, but not prohibited. Write Away (George) I. The best image that comes to mind is how the best novelist allow the story to blossom like a flower bud throughout the narrative, planting clues without tipping your hand. II. 1) She embraces the “issue-based” approach to novel writing – suggesting that you write about your passions, both political and philosophical. She does discourage storylines that have a thematic agenda. What asks you to write about what “riles you up?” 2) The chapter (11) on “Tricks of the Dialogue Trade” was exactly what I needed to help distinguish one character’s voice from another, with examples provided above. 3) The emphasis on Unity in all aspects of the novel beyond theme stood out to me. As a result, I have striven to ensure that all scenes in the first 100 pages adhere to a unified cause-and-effect, and conversations between characters echo the unity as well. 4) I will also add the hero’s journey based on Joseph Campbell’s archetype. The ordinary and often flaw protagonist steps over a threshold that takes him on a journey to his inner depths (the approach to the inmost cave) facing many “ordeals,” with “enemies and allies,” until he reaches an epiphany, which leads to his “resurrection,” and then returns with a “reward.” III. It seems that the reading assignments complement the course modules, so I do not see major contradictions. She does promote a standard “three-act” structure, but acknowledges variations exist and that there are no “hard and fast rules.” The Writing Life (Dillard) I. The ultimate trade off that a committed writer must make between creative autonomy and that likelihood that no will care and your sacrifices will not matter struck me hard at this crossroads in my life. II 1) The questions that every write must ask: Can it be done? And can I do it? Resonate with the hurdles I faced when I first waded into this book three years ago. 2) She places an emphasis ion trusting your instincts, suggesting that if your gut signals you to keep something in the book rather than hold back gave me the confidence to trust y instincts when my inner critic told me, do you really need to that paragraph. I allowed me to say I may not need it, but I like it, and I think it will appeal to the reader. 3) The trade-off between a propensity for the metaphysical and the “commercial claptrap” to borrow her phrase, represents an endless challenge for me. She suggests that when drawn to the metaphysical, its best to provide the plot with the most realistic underpinnings possible. This led me to explore topics that not only gave me the realistic underpinnings I needed, but taught me that the horrors of the real world are far more perverse and sinister that I summoned from the musty basement of my imagination in the first two drafts. III. Yes, her approach is less structured and systematic that what is taught in the modules. However, she is describing the challenges that writer’s face, and not writing much of a how-to manual.
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