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Tuesday, 18 September 2018

My Top 50 Vampire Movies

My Top 50 Vampire Movies

So it's not a secret I love vampires, I also collect vampire films and have lost count how many I own. However, I do know which ones I really like, so I thought I would share. I have a very simple system for rating films which has nothing to do with quality or ground breaking film making - it's just how much I want to watch them again :).

Synopses taken from IMDB - unless I thought they totally missed the point ;)

Here are my top 50 vampires films (titles are links to Wikipedia articles):

50 - 41

#50 True Bloodthirst (aka Night Breakers - Vampire Nation) 2012

This is an Andrew Lee Potts special - not the highest budget, but just has something which makes it watchable.

Set in a not-too-distant future in which a synthetic blood substitute, dispensed by the Romanian government, allows humans and vampires to potentially co-exist.

#49 Queen of the Damned 2002

Stuart Townsend makes a very sulky Lestat and Aaliyah is superb as Akasha - the Queen of the Damned. However, never watch this film thinking it is the book - it's one of those movies that take 'based on' to a whole new level. I enjoy watching it as if it is a stand alone film that just happens to use the same names as one of my fav books ;). It's a decent vampire flick, but Anne Rice's Queen of the Damned it is not.

The vampire Lestat becomes a rock star whose music wakes up the queen of all vampires.

#48 The Breed 2001

I have a big soft spot for Adrian Paul because of Highlander: The Series, so I was doubly excited he was playing a vampire. This movie is entertaining. I wouldn't say it's high art, but I do enjoy watching it.

In the future vampires have come out of the shadows and try to live among people as a special and peaceful breed. When a series of murders happens, a cop and his vampire colleague are assigned to arrest a dark figure who tears the throat of the victims and strains their blood off.

#47 Blood Ties 1991

This is clearly a pilot for a series that was never made, but it ticks my boxes. It's a kind of knock off Kindred: the Embraced, without all the depth that being based on Vampire: The Masquerade gives it. It basically fun.

Carpathian Americans are just like any other expatriate organization, they enjoy family get togethers, and share business opportunities. There is just one minor difference, the Carpathian Americans seem to have a predilection for drinking human blood.

#46 Van Helsing 2004

Hugh Jackman in a long coat with long hair and a cross-bow ... what, do I need another reason for enjoying this film? Okay, I love the whole thing Van Helsing and Dracula have going on too, and the plot is fun.

The notorious monster hunter is sent to Transylvania to stop Count Dracula who is using Dr. Frankenstein's research and a werewolf for some sinister purpose.

#45 The Twins Effect (aka Vampire Effect) 2003 (Chinese)

It's silly, it's fun, it has martial arts and Jackie Chan.

It's a high-kicking battle on the dark side when an ace vampire slayer and his beautiful sidekicks wage the ultimate martial-arts showdown with one of the most dangerous of the undead.

#44 I was a Teenage Vampire (aka My Best Friend Is a Vampire) 1987

This is an old favourite - I original saw this on Sky movies, I think, around 1991. Robert Sean Leonard is really good as the confused, conflicted Jeremy. It's a classic example of the 80s vampire genre.

After a sexual encounter with a beautiful client, a teenage delivery boy finds himself being turned into a vampire.

#43 Lost Boys 3 - The Thirst 2010

Lost Boys 2 is terrible, however, Lost Boys 3 is far better, much more fun and highly entertaining. I suspect this is what you get when the executives no longer care, Corey Feldman gets more of a say, and no one just tries to remake the Lost Boys.

In San Cazador, California, the clumsy vampire hunter Edgar Frog is evicted from his trailer. But the best-seller writer Gwen Lieber offers him a job to destroy the head vampire DJ X that promotes worldwide raves to increase his army of undead.

#42 Byzantium 2012

This is a stylish vampire movie focused on the female of the species. It has a lot to say with some superb ideas.

Residents of a coastal town learn, with deathly consequences, the secret shared by the two mysterious women who have sought shelter at a local resort.

#41 30 Days of Night 2007

I'm not fond of the end of this movie, which is probably why I don't watch it as much as the others, but it has a fabulously interesting premise and some great characters.

After an Alaskan town is plunged into darkness for a month, it is attacked by a bloodthirsty gang of vampires.

40 - 31

#40 Blade 1998

Saw this movie in the cinema. It's definitely the grittiest of the Blade movies and it's Blade at his bleakest. Just the opening scenes are amazing. A must see for every vampire fan.

A half-vampire, half-mortal man becomes a protector of the mortal race, while slaying evil vampires.

#39 Vampires Los Muertos 2002

I love this movie because it pushes my buttons - I can't say how, because of spoilers, but it's awesome. It also has Jon Bon Jovi :D

A vampire hunter, a half turned woman, and a priest fight a band of the walking dead in Mexico.

#38 Blade Trinity 2004

This is my second favourite of the Blade films, and yes I know, lots of people hate it, but I love it. Abby, Drake and Hannibal - great characters, especially since Hannibal is basically Deadpool without the invulnerability, oh and much prettier :D

Blade, now a wanted man by the FBI, must join forces with the Nightstalkers to face his most challenging enemy yet: Dracula.

#37 Dracula (aka Horror of Dracula)1958

Sir Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing - it's a classic - need I say more?

Jonathan Harker begets the ire of Count Dracula after he accepts a job at the vampire's castle under false pretences.

#36 Subspecies 1991

This is another one I saw on Sky in the early 90s, and I loved it. Good vampires, bad vampires and Eastern Europe - a match made in heaven.

The evil vampire villain Radu returns to his hometown Prejnar, after spending years in exile. He steals the precious blood stone which is said to be bleeding from all saints, from his father and kills him. Meanwhile two American schoolgirls team up with a local girl for work on Romanian culture. Radu becomes attracted to them but runs into trouble when his brother Stephan helps the girls.

#35 Dracula 2001 (aka Dracula 2000) 2000

I love Gerard Butler as Dracula in this, he is so very intense, and this is a film without the perfectly straightforward storyline. It uses Dracula lore, but twists it nicely.

A group of thieves break into a chamber expecting to find paintings, but instead they release the count himself, who travels to New Orleans to find his nemesis' daughter, Mary Van Helsing.

#34 Fright Night 2 - New Blood 2013

Now this is actually the sequel to the remake of Fright Night, kind of, except it isn't at all really, it's more of a different take on a remake of Fright Night and I love it. In this one we have Jaime Murray as Gerri Dandridge and she is awesome, and Will Payne is great as Charley Brewster. A fun romp much more in keeping with the original.

By day Gerri Dandridge is a sexy professor, but by night she transforms into a real-life vampire with an unquenchable thirst for human blood. So when a group of high school students travel abroad to study in Romania, they find themselves ensnared in Gerri's chilling web of lust and terror.

#33 BloodRayne 2005

This is a movie based on a video game, which isn't often a great way to start out, but, unlike the sequels, this is a decently made movie. Rayne is an interesting character and the plot skips along nicely. It's not Shakespeare, but it's highly entertaining.

In the 18th century, a vampire escapes from the freak show she once participated in and teams up with a group of vampire slayers to kill the man who raped her mother.

#32 From Dusk Til Dawn 1996

Now this is a classic - a movie of two halves, one a gangster flick, the other a vampire horror movie. It's typically Tarantino with overt violence in both halves and it has something enticing about it.

Two criminals and their hostages unknowingly seek temporary refuge in a truck stop populated by vampires, with chaotic results.

#31 Nick Knight 1989

This is the original pilot to Forever Knight with Rick Springfield as the vampire cop who want to be human. I think the show with Geraint Wyn Davies struck a better balance between the characters, but I still really enjoy this film - except the flying, the flying is silly ;).

Detective Nick Knight is investigating a series of murders in which the bodies are found drained of blood - but the most recent one doesn't fit the pattern. Instead it involves the cure that Nick has been searching for for decades, so that he himself can face the light of day. Later remade as the first two episodes of Forever Knight.

30 - 21

#30 Vampire Hunter D 1985 (Japanese)

This film is an anime classic and one of the first anime movies I ever saw. It is stylish, action packed and intelligent. Well worth a watch.

A young girl requests the help of a mysterious dhampir, a vampire hunter, to kill the vampire who has bitten her, and thus prevent her from becoming a vampire herself.

#29 Buffy the Vampire Slayer 1992

Before the classic series was born, there was the movie. A lot of people rag on this film, but it's a great romp. In places it's silly, in others heart-wrenching with lots of action and lots of fun. It has an amazing cast and deserves more recognition than it gets.

A flighty teenage girl learns that she is her generation's destined battler of vampires.

#28 Near Dark 1987

Another classic from the 80s, where as most of my other choices from the decade have an element of comedy to them, this definitely doesn't (probably why it gets more recognition from outside the genre). This is a gritty tale with nasty vampires who do whatever they have to to survive. It also offers an interesting take on how it might be possible to cure a vampire.

A small-town farmer's son reluctantly joins a traveling group of vampires after he is turned on by a beautiful drifter.

#27 Underworld 2003

I love this movie for Selene and Michael and all the history and structure it gives the vampire and lycan societies. The world building for this film is superb, and the characters are awesome.

Selene, a vampire warrior, is entrenched in a conflict between vampires and werewolves, while falling in love with Michael, a human who is sought by werewolves for unknown reasons.

#26 Lair of the White Worm 1988

This is a film with some quite silly bits in it, although it is anything but silly when taken as a whole. It has dream sequences, flashbacks, snakes, vampires and everything you could want from a British movie without the highest budget in the world.

When an archaeologist uncovers a strange skull in foreign land, the residents of a nearby town begin to disappear, leading to further unexplainable occurrences.

#25 Dylan Dog: Dead of Night 2011

This is just my kind of movie, humans, vampire, werewolves, zombies all messing up a Southern town. There's action, there's backstory, there's plot and there's good special effects. There's also a twist in the tale, which it always fun.

The adventures of supernatural private investigator, Dylan Dog, who seeks out the monsters of the Louisiana bayou in his signature red shirt, black jacket, and blue jeans.

#24 Dracula's Widow 1988

This is another movie that tries to be a gritty horror, but it's hard to take it as seriously as Near Dark. It is, however, a great movie. The special effects leave a lot to be desired, some of the acting is a little off, but it's a really good story and I love Lenny von Dohlen as Raymond.

A shipment of crates bearing artefacts from Romania arrives at Raymond Everett's Hollywood House of Wax for a Dracula display. Inside one of the crates is Dracula's wife Vanessa who is enraged to discover that she is a widow.

#23 Captain Kronos - Vampire Hunter 1974

This is a classic of the 70s Hammer vampire genre - Kronos is an ex-soldier and vampire hunter who comes to the aid of a community where young women are suddenly becoming old. It is a different take on vampires that is captivating.

A master swordsman and former soldier and his hunchbacked assistant hunt vampires.

#22 Interview with the Vampire 1994

Melodramatic, full of beautiful music and fantastic imagery - Interview with the Vampire is lovely to watch and enthralling. The highlight for me is Kirstin Dunst as Claudia - she is simply brilliant.

A vampire tells his epic life story: love, betrayal, loneliness, and hunger.

#21 Bram Stoker's Dracula 1992

Another example of the 90s vampire movie, like IwtV it's melodramatic in places, and full of the most amazing imagery. The costumes are spectacular, especially Lucy's wedding dress, and the special effects are clever and engaging. This is Dracula, with a bigger backstory, and it is well worth a watch. If nothing else, Gary Oldman's performance is simply amazing.

The centuries old vampire Count Dracula comes to England to seduce his barrister Jonathan Harker's fiancée Mina Murray and inflict havoc in the foreign land.

20 - 11

#20 Sundown - The Vampire in Retreat 1989

This movie is a little silly and a lot entertaining. We've got a town full of vampires trying not to kill people, a love triangle, a misguided vampire hunter and lots of action. It's a romp with David Carradine, Bruce Campbell, Morgan Brittany and more.

Reclusive vampires lounge in a lonely American town. They wear sun cream to protect themselves and drink synthetic blood, but their plant is having production issues. The inventor of the blood substitute and his family arrive, along with a descendant of Van Helsing arrives resulting in hilarious consequences.

#19 Vamp 1986

Yep, another 80s vampire movie, this one with Grace Jones as Katrina, the head vampire. This is a movie that combines comedy and horror as only 80s movies seem to be able to do. There are silly bits and horrific bits and it has such a great plot and great characters.

Two fraternity pledges travel to a sleazy bar in search of a stripper for their college friends, unaware it is occupied by vampires.

#18 Fright Night Part 2 1988

This is the direct sequel to the original Fright Night where Charley has moved on the college. In this one Charley is up against the mysterious Regine who is out for revenge. It is brilliant, and a case where the sequel is as good as the original, it would be further up the list if I didn't have so many favourite vampire movies ;)

Charley Brewster and Peter Vincent must face more vampires, out for revenge.

#17 Vampire Hunter D - Bloodlust 2000 (Japanese)

This is the sequel to Vampire Hunter D, although it is not necessary to see the first one to understand this one. The reason I have it higher up my list is because I prefer the animation style. It is similar to the first, but not as stylised. It has lots of action and explains more about vampire and humans.

When a girl is abducted by a vampire, a legendary bounty hunter is hired to bring her back.

#16 Higanjima - Escape From Vampire Island 2010 (Japanese)

This is a live action manga with all the classic character types and the vaguely bleak outlook on vampires and their consequences. It's full of action and is highly engaging with a great plot. It is most frustrating that the subsequent TV show is not available with English subtitles!

Higanjima is an eerie island occupied by vampires, from where none has ever come back alive. When teenager Akira hears that his missing brother has been seen in the island, he decides to investigate with several friends.

#15 Vampires 1998

This is a film that takes no prisoners. It's gritty, full of cursing and there is not a whiff of sparkly vampires in this one. The vampires are cold blooded, evil and only out for blood. It has great characters, good plot and superb special effects.

Recovering from an ambush that killed his entire team, a vengeful vampire slayer must retrieve an ancient Catholic relic that, should it be acquired by vampires, will allow them to walk in sunlight.

#14 Abraham Lincoln - Vampire Hunter 2012

It's a concept straight out of left field, and yet this film makes it work. This is no parody, this is a serious vampire film, with plot, action and special effects, where the hero just happens to be a young Abraham Lincoln. It's well worth a watch.

Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, discovers vampires are planning to take over the United States. He makes it his mission to eliminate them. (actually, that's only half the plot, but it'll do)

#13 What We Do In the Shadows 2014

This is a great, great, great film. It's hilarious for a start. It's done in a mockumentory style, totally deadpan and very, very funny. It has to be seen to be believed. Also Taika Waititi!

Viago, Deacon, and Vladislav are vampires who are finding that modern life has them struggling with the mundane - like paying rent, keeping up with the chore wheel, trying to get into nightclubs, and overcoming flatmate conflicts.

#12 LifeForce 1985

This film is a cross between a vampire movie, sci-fi and a zombie flick. The vampires aren't blood drinkers, they take the life force of their victim, and they come from outer space. I know, probably not a ringing endorsement, but this movie pulls it off. It is very of its time, so there are naked people wandering around for no real reason, but I have watched this more times than I care to count.

A race of space vampires arrives in London and infects the populace, beginning an apocalyptic descent into chaos.

#11 Blade II 2002

The best of the Blade movies IMHO. I love the Reapers, and the blood pack and, well, everything about the film. The way the characters evolve, how they interact and the underlying plot are all brilliant. It's directed by Guillermo del Toro and it is superb.

Blade forms an uneasy alliance with the vampire council in order to combat the Reapers, who are feeding on vampires.

The Top 10 (with images, because they deserve it)

#10 Innocent Blood 1992

I love this movie - a vampire gets mixed up with mobsters and an undercover cop, which can only result in chaos. Marie is such a great vampire and this is not a movie that has delicately feeding vampires.

Marie is a vampire with a thirst for bad guys. When she fails to properly dispose of one of her victims, a violent mob boss, she bites off more than she can chew and faces a new, immortal danger.

#9 Rockula 1990

Now I don't expect many people to have heard of this one, although I have just discovered it's out on Blu-ray (the only copy I had before that was VHS!). This is half music vid, half vampire movie and it's very funny and entertaining. To start with the hero's name is Ralph, and his reflection (which he shouldn't have) gets more sex than he does.

A vampire cannot lose his virginity because of a curse imposed upon him centuries ago.

#8 Dracula 1979

This is my favourite traditional style Dracula movie (i.e. based of Bram Stoker). It is based on the stage play, rather than the book, so it changes a lot of things, but it still has the core feel of Dracula, and Frank Langella is super sexy as the count.

In 1913, the charming, seductive and sinister vampire Count Dracula travels to England in search of new hunting grounds and wider horizons.

#7 Moon Child 2003 (Japanese)

The only real way to describe this film is vampires and gangsters like a live action manga. It will make you cry and have lots of feels, but it will also make you laugh out loud. Lots of action, lots of emotion and lots of angst. It's awesome.

The story of love and friendship on the harsh streets of 2014 Mallepa, a small corner in Asia.

#6 Dracula Untold 2014

I love tales of Dracula, and this is a fantastically done take on how Dracula began. I love it from beginning to end and really wish there was a sequel as the last scene seems to promise.

As his kingdom is being threatened by the Turks, young prince Vlad Tepes must become a monster feared by his own people in order to obtain the power needed to protect his own family, and the families of his kingdom.

#5 Only Lovers Left Alive 2013

Only Lovers is a literary vampire movie. It has little action, some plot and lots of characters. It is visually stunning and it will grab your heart. It also has Tom Hiddleston as an almost terminally depressed vampire.

A depressed musician reunites with his lover. Though their romance, which has already endured several centuries, is disrupted by the arrival of her uncontrollable younger sister.

#4 Let the Right One In 2008 (Swedish)

This is a masterful telling of a bleak story that is captivation from beginning to end.

Oskar, an overlooked and bullied boy, finds love and revenge through Eli, a beautiful but peculiar girl.

#3 Underworld Evolution 2003

It ticks the vampire box, it ticks the werewolf box and it ticks the hybrid box, plus there is equal opportunities nakedness and lots of action. Wins all around.

Picking up directly from the previous film, vampire warrior Selene and the half werewolf Michael hunt for clues to reveal the history of their races and the war between them.

#2 The Lost Boys 1987

The movie that made me a vampire fan. Soph and I were just old enough to see it in the cinema. Went in vaguely interested, came out hooked. Also one of the gayest vampire movies ever, apparently, innocent little me totally failed to notice as a teenager, but now I see it ;)

After moving to a new town, two brothers discover that the area is a haven for vampires.

#1 Fright Night 1985

This is most likely the vampire film I have seen the most times - so many, in fact, that I have lost count. It ticks all my boxes and hits all my buttons. All the characters are great and Chris Sarandon is so very sexy as Jerry Dandrige.

A horror-obsessed teenager discovers that his next door neighbour is a murderous vampire. He tries to convince the police, his family and friends but to no avail. Now, he must take matters into his own hands.

Let me know if I left off any of your favourites and what you think of my choices!

Friday, 7 September 2018

Flawed Design by Natasha Duncan-Drake #SciFi #FreeFictionFriday

Free Fiction Friday
Flawed Design by Natasha Duncan-Drake

August has been and gone, far too fast in my opinion, but there we are, which means we have reached the first Friday in September. The kids are back at school, the weather is turning just a little bit chilly and it's Free Fiction Friday!

Every month we give away a free short story to all the lovely subscribers of our Wittegen Press Newsletter.

It's very easy to subscribe and it's totally free and spamless - I promise. In fact mostly the emails to the Newsletter are all about Free Fiction Friday, with the odd competition or book launch thrown in for good measure.

We'll give you 2 free eBooks just for signing up as well as the password for this month's free short story.

This Month's Short Story

Author: Natasha Duncan-Drake
Genre: Science Fiction

Created in a lab, engineered to be the perfect killing machine, but she has a design flaw. They had no idea what they fashioned when they made her, but they soon found out.

If you have any questions about the newsletter or Free Fiction Friday, do drop me a comment.
Always happy to chat. :)

Saturday, 1 September 2018

Resources for Artists & Content Creators

I use resources from all over the internet to create covers and graphics, and to teach myself new techniques. These are some of the best sites I have found and used for completely free photos, fonts, textures, vectors, clipart, tutorials and more. Be warned - I thought I had kicked my font problem until I found DealJumbo ;).

Some have thousands of things, some just a few, but they all have something useful. I hope others may find them useful to.

If anyone has any to add, please do comment - always glad of new resources!

If I find more I will add to the list.

Royalty Free, Use for Anything (Personal & Professional) Image Sites



Fonts (some free for commercial use - some only personal use)




Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Cover Composition - The Rule of Thirds and The Golden Ratio

 Cover Composition

The Rule of Thirds and The Golden Ratio

We all know the adage, don't judge a book by its cover, but we all do! The cover is what grabs the reader's eye, especially in this age of the Internet, when you make have even less time to snag a reader as they scroll down Amazon or Smashwords, than while they wander through a book shop.

I design my own book covers, mostly because I enjoy it and, now that I am on Wattpad, it's kind of important because even fanfic needs a cover. Over time I have learned many things, and one of those things is how to layout a book cover to make it pleasing to the eye. Let's not mention my early attempts when I knew nothing - I am gradually replacing any of those that still exist ;).

The thing is though, there is more than one way to do it.

Of course there is :) - there couldn't just be one magic formula could there. Today I'm going to talk about 2 techniques I have used in, what I hope, is a successful manner.

The Rule of Thirds

Until recently, I have almost exclusively used The Rule of Thirds, which is the easiest to layout quickly. It is very straightforward to add to an image:
  1. Add guidelines to the cover vertically and horizontally to divide the cover into 3rds like so (I made a cover template with the correct guides in place and use it whenever I start a new project).
  2. Use the thirds to divide up the elements of the cover, e.g. put the title in one part, the main image in another etc.
  3. To build drama place significant parts of the cover over the lines or intersections, which are known in some circles as power points.
Here is an example of a cover I designed using the rule of thirds (it's for The Soul Reader Series, books 1-3 that will be coming to paperback soon):

As you can see I used the bottom third for the title and the top 2 thirds for the image. I also made sure each of the figures was place over a power point and the main action was nearly completely in the middle third.

I don't know why the human brain finds this pleasing, but it does :).

*If you would like to know more, here is a great article about The Rule of Thirds from Cover Design Studio.

The Golden Ratio

The other option I am learning about for book covers is the Golden Ratio. This is a little more complicated to layout, but also seems to give a good feel for a cover. I've only just started using this, but I find is especially useful for laying out titles. Because this golden ratio can be scaled, it can be used within elements of the cover as well as for laying out the full cover.

This is the golden ratio:
It is made by dividing a quarter of a circle by 1.618 and adding the part together to create a spiral.

The easiest way to get it, is to google it and download a png or vector of it someone has already made :). (Like this one).

THERE IS ONE IMPORTANT RULE - never scale the golden ratio without the relative dimensions being fixed, or you will wreck the whole point of it!

There are many ways to use the golden ratio, it can be used to frame an image, or to arrange an image, but what to remember is that important bits of the image should line up with bits of the ratio pattern.

This is a cover I created for my fanfic Opposites (ReVamped) (which I am currently posting to Wattpad) using the Golden ratio to lay it out:

The main elements of the image follow the ratio, ending with Richie as the focus, because he's the star of this particular story.

F.Y.I. I also used the Rule of Thirds to place the title, which was created as a block, once again using The Golden Ratio, as well as using RoT for my name.

As I mentioned I'm new to this technique, and I'm not sure I quite have it yet (I think Richie might need nudging to the right a smidge ;)), but you see the general idea.

*If you would like to know more, here is a more in depth article about The Golden Ratio by the Keith Draws Blog .

The Rule of Thirds vs The Golden Ratio

Personally I like the look of both layouts. I think some covers will lend themselves to one, while others fit more with the other.

The Rule of Thirds is definitely more intuitive and straightforward than The Golden Ratio, but they have a similar effect, on my eye, at least.

One thing I do know for sure is that having a layout in mind when designing a book cover makes the process easier if nothing else. Deciding where to place things it one of the hardest decisions when creating something from scratch and a layout really helps.

In my experience it also makes the end product superior.

Do you design book covers? Do you use one of these techniques or do you have another?

As a reader, do you have a preference for cover layouts, or do they not make a huge amount of difference to you?

Friday, 17 August 2018

Comments Recently Not Appearing

This is just a shout out to let people know, I am so sorry if you commented and it had not yet appeared.

I had asked Blogger to email me when comments require moderation (had to turn it on because of changes they made), but it wasn't telling me about them.

I have just been through and moderated all comments - so hopefully it won't happen again!

Now I can go through and reply. :D

Monday, 13 August 2018

Soul Reader - Cover Reveal

Soul Reader - Cover Reveal

So I am currently working on combining the Soul Reader series into a single book so I can publish it as a paperback. The stories are too short to work as cost effective individual books, so I'm putting them all together in one volume.

I'm on the proof with a red pen stage at the moment. That's what I shall be getting back to as soon as I hit publish on this :D.

I'm also working on finishing the 4th part to the series as well, but that's going to take a little longer.

So, new book means a new cover.

I spent most of the weekend on it. The original image is from pexels.com (best site for free images ever!) and is by a chap called Lalesh Aldarwish. He has some other fantastic images on there for free download too, so check him out.

From there I had some fun with the rule of thirds and the golden ratio and fire. I've just started using Illustrator as well as Photoshop and it's really good for text. Still learning, so it took me ages to get the title right, but there are many wonderful tutorials on Youtube, thank heavens.

Cover Reveal

Are you ready? I know you're on the edges of your seats, aren't you ;)

Two male figures in silhouette against a window, one with hand stretched out, fingers on fire. Title says Soul Reader Books 1-3
Soul Reader Books 1-3 All Rights Reserved
And here's how it will look in paperback:

Thank you for dropping by.

Do you have any favourite covers, either on your own books or on ones you have seen on the internet?

P.S. I was lucky enough to be asked to guest post on the blog of the lovely  Ronel Janse van Vuuren this last weekend. I wrote all about eBooks.

Friday, 27 July 2018

Let's All Go to the Movies - Another Blanket Box

Popcorn in paper boxes with Let'all go to the movies over the top.

Let's All Go to the Movies

Since last week's blanket box went down so well and no everyone can see Pillowfort yet, here is another one. This is all about films. I love movies, so this was the next one I picked.

Your favorite movie of all time

Start with an easy one why don't you! :) Oh heavens, how am I supposed to choose?

Given that this is from a horror loving, sci-fi watching, fantasy obsessed, vampire nut, this is going to seem odd, but:

A Nun's Story with Audrey Hepburn. I just love it, I always have and I can watch it over and over again. It is totally not what I usually choose, but it is simply a great film.

A movie you watch to pick you up when you feel sad

RED or RED 2 - they are both full of explosions and laughs and Helen Mirren being badass!

A movie that makes you feel invincible

Wonder Woman - it's an awesome film make with the female gaze showing a woman who can be anything she wants to be. It is simply brilliant.

Which genre of film is your favorite?

Vampires! What? you expected a different answer. I don't count them as horror movies because they just aren't scary and I love them. I have over 400.

A movie that scares you

Ju-on The Grudge - the Asian horror market is simply superb and the Japanese really know how to do movies that will scare the pants of anyone. And take no substitute - the originals are nearly always much better than the remakes. The only one I think that came close was The Eye.

A movie that makes you cry

E.T. - every damn time! With a special mention to Steel Magnolias, which also makes me cry every single time I watch it.

What movie is guaranteed to make you laugh?

Grosse Pointe Blank - I love it. John Cusack is brilliant at Martin Blank the hired killer, but my fav of all is Joan Cusak are Marcella, his secretary. The way she goes from chewing someone out for not getting her the right ammunition at exactly the right time to talking to someone else about soup is so perfect it's difficult to describe.

Your first R-rated movie

I think it must be Evil Dead II - I didn't see it in the cinema, so I have no idea what it was rated in the UK, but I saw it on VHS at a friends and it was the first real horror I ever saw. Scared me silly at the time - I'd only really seen Hammer Horror before that.

The first movie you remember seeing in theaters

Pinocchio, I think, on one of it's re-releases. I seem to remember it was on with A Spaceman in King Arthur's Court - which is apparently also called Unidentified Flying Oddball (because in those days there were b-movies before the feature) and I enjoyed the b-movie much more than the main film :)

The most boring movie you've ever seen

Now this is hard because I tend to erase such things from my mind. Don't think I can answer this.

What movie have you seen that you will never watch again?

Recently - Tom Cruise's The Mummy - OMG, it was so bad. It didn't even pass the Bechdel Test. I thought maybe Tom Cruise was getting over his I-have-to-be-the-only-thing-in-this-movie-that-matters stage, after the MI films started changing, but nope, apparently not. The film should be called Guy With a God Complexnot The Mummy. The plot doesn't even makes sense as far as character motivation goes, let alone a whole.

Also any of the Lethal Weapon movies, which used to be some of my favs, but I can no longer watch anything with Mel Gibson in it.

And Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil thanks to Kevin Spacey.

Your favorite documentary film

Diving Into The Unknown - on a dive in a cave in Norway, a Finnish dive team lost two of their number. The international recovery team deemed it too dangerous to retrieve the bodies and the authorities closed the cave to divers. The remaining members of the Finnish team, plus more of their friends, went back illegally to get their friends' bodies out. They filmed it all.

What movie did you love the most when you were a kid?

Jason and the Argonauts - they used to show it every year either at Christmas or Easter and I never got to see the end because we were dragged off to church, but I loved it nevertheless. Have never lost my love or Ray Harryhausen films.

One story you want desperately to see as a movie (can be a book, videogame, comic, etc.)

Wolf's Hour by Robert R McCammon - werwolves, the Russian Revolution and World War II - brilliant book and it was supposed to have been optioned for a movie, but I've heard nothing about it lately. I want this movie - lots!

What movie do you always recommend to friends?

Fright Night (1985) - it is a brilliant vampire movie that is often overlooked. I knew I would love it because when Barry Norman mentioned it on his film review program he hated it and I always really liked movies he hated ;) Sexy vampire, horror and comedy and Roddy McDowall - how could it not be amazing?

A movie series you love to marathon

Fright Night (1985), Fright Night part II (1998) and Fright Night 2: New Blood (2013) - and yes, I did deliberately leave out the Fright Night remake because it is a travesty!

Also the Evil Dead movies make a good marathon :)

Favourite superhero movie

I'm going to hell because I am a Marvel fan, but I have to say Wonder Woman, with The Avengers and Black Panther coming in at joint second.

Favorited movie based on a book

The Fellowship of the Ring - love that movie.

Favorited animated movie

Zootopia - now that is how to go 'racial profiling is a bad thing' and get the message across.

Free space: Mention any movie you love that you haven't talked about already!

*cracks knuckles*

The Mummy (1999) - there is nothing not to love about this movie.

Star Wars - all of them except Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith.

Dracula (1979) - Frank Langela is so sexy!

Dracula Untold (2014) - best Dracula origin story I have seen.

The Lost Boys (1987) - it's a classic, everyone should see it.

The Breakfast Club - another classic everyone should see!

Um ... I had better stop - there are far too many more ;)

Do the Blanket Box Yourself

And also like last week, if you would like to do the Blanket box on your blog, here are the questions in easy copy and paste format. Drop me a link if you do so I can come take a look.
  • Your favorite movie of all time
  • A movie you watch to pick you up when you feel sad
  • A movie that makes you feel invincible
  • Which genre of film is your favorite?
  • A movie that scares you
  • A movie that makes you cry
  • What movie is guaranteed to make you laugh?
  • Your first R-rated movie
  • The first movie you remember seeing in theaters
  • The most boring movie you've ever seen
  • What movie have you seen that you will never watch again?
  • Your favorite documentary film
  • What movie did you love the most when you were a kid?
  • One story you want desperately to see as a movie (can be a book, videogame, comic, etc.)
  • What movie do you always recommend to friends?
  • A movie series you love to marathon
  • Favorite superhero movie
  • Favorite movie based on a book
  • Favorite animated movie
  • Free space: Mention any movie you love that you haven't talked about already!

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Music or Ambient Noise - the Key to Focusing #TipTuesdays

Music or Ambient Noise - the Key to Focusing

You know how sometimes, when we sit down to write, our minds just don't seem to want to focus on the task in hand? Sometimes our thoughts flick all over the place and refuse to settle, causing all sorts of difficulties.

When this happens to me I use background music or ambient noise.

Now, I'm not saying this is a cure all, but if focusing is a problem this might be worth a try.

The way I see it, the music or background noise entertains the part of my brain that is trying to flit from thing to thing, so the creative part can get on with the work.

I suspect there are more scientific explanations, but this is the one I like :D.

Of course there are a few provisos.

For music:

  • We need to make sure we're not listening to our favourite songs - singing along does not help!
  • Anything with intrusive or catchy words can be a problem - again, singing along does not help.
  • Depending on what we are writing, different music may be appropriate:
    • if I am writing a battle I like something fast, with a heavy rock rhythm, something exciting
    • if I am writing a love scene or something more thoughtful, I prefer mellow music

For Ambient Noise

  • The noise can't be too mellow or it will send us to sleep - seriously, I have found myself dropping off ;).
  • Likewise, if the balance of strong sound is incorrect, noises that are too loud may break us out of our concentration.
There are occasions where neither of these work and, frankly, I think the only solution then is to go and have a nice cup of tea and stare at something else for a while.

Assuming everyone has their own stash of music or Spotify or Deezer, here as a couple of ambient noise sites I found, just by googling 'Ambient Noise Generator':
As I said, this might not work for everybody or in every situation, but sometimes I find it bordering on miraculous to help me focus. We're all different, so it might take time to find what is right for each of us, but it's worth a try.

Q: Do you use music or ambient noise to focus? Does it work in all situations for you? Does it not work at all?

Friday, 20 July 2018

Vampires - Be Still My Heart!

Vampires - Be Still My Heart!

So I'm on a new blogging site called Pillowfort, which is still in beta so unfortunately everyone can't just come along and sign up, even though it's great. On there we have things called Blanket Boxes, which are a set of questions for certain subjects to get people talking. I created one for vampires and since I know you're dying to know all about my vampire obsession, I thought I'd post it over here too :)

1. Why do you love vampires?

I love that vampire media can go from the darkest of the dark (Salem's Lot, John Carpenter's Vampires) through action (Underworld, Moon Child) to romance and comedy (Fright Night, Sundown the Vampire in Retreat) and combine any of these and still seem as believable as vampires are in the first place. Vampires can slot into just about any fandom if you try hard enough (I know, I made it my mission to write them into as many fandoms as possible ;)). Historical, Contemporary, Futuristic - they can be found anywhere, and they give that spicy edge to anything.

2. Which vampire(s) brought you to the dark side?

The Lost Boys - I never really though about vampires before that film. I saw it when it first came out in the cinema and never looked back. It's only looking back that its possible to see how the film changed vampire movies and how ground breaking it was, but, at the time it was definitely ground breaking for me. I never identified with Dracula or Mina or Lucy, but Sam and Michael and the very good looking Lost Boys - now them I could totally feel.

3. TV, Movie or Books - have a favourite vampire medium?

I love vampire movies. While I enjoy TV and books and occasionally comics, it is definitely movies that have me. I collect them, so I have some really, really bad ones, as well as the ones I really love. I think I have over 400 of them - not that I have seen them all yet - some are yet to be watched :). There is such a range in vampire movies and every time they have a resurgence I cheer.

4. All time favourite vampire?

Um ... this is hard ... I think I have to go for Regine (Julie Carmen) from Fright Night part II - she is bold, she is beautiful, she is ruthless and I love her style.

Beutiful dark haired woman with yellow eyes and long vampire fangs, in a red dress, opening her mouth wide and looking at the camera.

5. Current favourite vampire?

Adam (Tom Hiddleston) from Only Lovers Left Alive - he's so melancholy, but so focused and sexy. It's also a great film with a moody arty feel - not the usual kind of vampire movie I enjoy, but totally captivating. Okay, yes it also might have something to do with who plays him ... I'm not obsessed, I'm focused! :P

6. All time least favourite vampire?

Mama Dracula! Got the VHS out of a previous viewed bin at Blockbuster many years ago and hated her and it. There are many things I will forgive in a vampire film, but being deadly boring is not one of them.

7. Favourite vampire book?

It's a toss up between Salem's Lot by Stephen King and Queen of the Damned by Anne Rice (read the 1st 3 vampire chronicles books, but can't get into the rest). On balance, given how many times I have read each and seen the film/mini series adaptations, I think I have to go with Salem's Lot. I either love Stephen King books or I loathe them, this one I adore and my copy is so battered I probably need to get a new one soon.

8. Favourite vampire movie?

Fright Night (1985) with Fright Night part II a close second. The original Fright Night is a classic (don't get me on to the remake, I will rant ;)) and has everything I love about vampire movies. It has dark moments, it has comedy, it has wonderful special effects, it has plot, it makes me laugh, it makes me cry and I love everything about it. It comes out at least once a year, if not more often and I never get tired of it (except the cafeteria scene which makes me cringe). Fright Night is about Charley Brewster, an average teenager with an obsession for horror movies. He gets new neighbours and notices something very strange about them, becoming convinced one is a vampire. Things get tricky from there.

9. Favourite vampire TV show?

I have several :) it could either be Moonlight with Alex O'Loughlin and Sophie Miles or Blood Ties with Kyle Schmid and Christina Cox. They are both private investigators and vampires, only in Moonlight the PI is the vampire and in the other the PI knows about the vampire. Or Kindred: The Embraced with Mark Frankel, C Thomas Howell and Stacy Haiduk from way back in the 90s - that is a re-imagining of Vampire the Masquerade. Or Forever Knight with Geraint Wyn Davies and Catherine Disher - cops and vampires ... I should stop.

If I have to choose one out of all of them, I think I have to go for Kindred: The Embraced - after all I have written fanfic for it :).

10. What trait does a vampire have to have for them to be a "real" vampire for you? (e.g. fangs, speed, strength, hopping, nocturnal etc)

For me they have to have fangs. There are a couple of exceptions, but the fangs have it usually, I am afraid. It doesn't matter what kind of fangs, but I do like my vamps to be able to snarl ;).

11. Any vampire fanfiction recs?

Um - I will have to think about this and come back to fill in this space later.

12. Do you create vampire content - what is your favourite of your own creations?

Oh, lord, which to pick. I think I am most proud of my Harry Potter/Anita Blake crossover. It took the most work and I think I did a good job of melding the two universe. It's called Black Magic By Moonlight, it's 35 chapters and 169.6K long and it can be found on: AO3 or Wattpad

Harry gets himself almost sacrificed on a trip to St Louis, which ends up involving Anita Blake, most of the preternatural community and Draco, who was the one who sent Harry away to get some rest in the first place.

So when I originally wrote this I was totally in fandom mode, but decided to cheat and mention original fic too :). I have a vampire book out I am very fond of called Dead Before Dawn: The Vampire Curse - it's in eBook & paperback from Amazon, just eBook from Smashwords. Gay characters, bi characters, poly relationship, angst, humour - I tried to get it all in there.

Max Statton's life will never be the same again. While in Moscow for the premier of his new movie he is attacked by one of the city's resident vampires. Bitten and infected, only a team of local vampire hunters prevent him being dragged into the violent underworld of the undead. Fighting for his very existence, Max must resist the vampire curse with everything he has.

13. Any unusual vampire law you would like to share with us?

Vampires don't have to just be staked with wood in folklore - sometimes they were staked with iron or other metals. The original idea was that if you impale the corpse into the ground or into its coffin, it can't rise as a vampire.

Have a go at the Blanket Box

If you would like to have a go at the Blanket Box, here are the questions in a neat little list for copying and pasting. You don't have to answer all of them, just have fun :) Drop a link in the comments if you do it so I can come look at your answers!
  1. Why do you love vampires?
  2. Which vampire(s) brought you to the dark side?
  3. TV, Movie or Books - have a favourite vampire medium?
  4. All time favourite vampire?
  5. Current favourite vampire?
  6. All time least favourite vampire?
  7. Favourite vampire book?
  8. Favourite vampire movie?
  9. Favourite vampire TV show?
  10. What trait does a vampire have to have for them to be a "real" vampire for you? (e.g. fangs, speed, strength, hopping, nocturnal etc)
  11. Any vampire fanfiction recs?
  12. Do you create vampire content - what is your favourite of your own creations?
  13. Any unusual vampire law you would like to share with us?

Thursday, 19 July 2018

Review - Moon Child (2003) [vampire, gangster]

Title: Moon Child

Summary: After Japan suffers a major economic crash, many Japanese move to mainland china, one of whom is the vampire Kei. On the verge of death he is found by an orphaned boy, Sho, and saves him from gangsters out to take revenge for Sho, his brother Shinji and friend Toshi, stealing to survive. Sho and Kei form a bond that endures through the ups and downs of Sho's mortal life.

Hyde ... Kei
Gackt ... Sho
Leehom Wang ... Son
Tarô Yamamoto ... Toshi
Susumu Terajima ... Shinji
Zeny Kwok ... Yi-Che

So this film is part vampire movie, part gangster film with all the craziness of a live action manga. It was written by Gackt, Kishu Izuchi and Takahisa Zeze and it's engaging and has surprising depth.

Now I know what you're thinking, a movie part written by a musician (Gackt) and staring said musician and another musician (Hyde) who happens to be a good friend of his - it's going to be terrible, right? Wrong. This film is brilliant. It makes me cry every single time I watch it ... and it makes my husband cry too.

Let me give you the low down.

This is Kei (Hyde) and he's a vampire.

When Sho first meets him he's not doing so well and he looks like this:

At this point Sho is not Gackt because he's a wee thing and is played by Kanata Hongo (isn't he adorable):
Sho saves Kei's life and in return Kei deals with some bad guys who are after Sho and his little gang. Sho then grows up into Gackt, learning from Kei and pulling off daring heists against gangster types and generally being a little shit.

There's a whole love story going on (unfortunately not Kei and Sho) while Kei angsts about being a vampire and Sho grows up to be a big shot gangster himself.

There is angst (oh boy, is there angst), there is love (familial, romantic, it's all in there), there are amazing gun battles (don't worry about the physics ;)), there are themes of deep racial divide (Sho and Kei are immigrants in a country that doesn't really want them), there is hopelessness (the story has an inevitability in its journey), there is heartache (if you have a soul you will cry ;)), there is comedy (Gackt can be very silly when he wants to be), there are vampires (they just fit)—there is everything we could ever want from a movie. This is a film that has it all.

This movie takes us through Sho's lifetime and it feels as if we are there every step of the way. It makes us laugh with him, love with him, bleed with him, and then it gives us Kei too, who has just as much depth, as well as a plethora of supporting characters who become real to us.

This is a great film that doesn't get enough respect and I thoroughly recommend it.