In the Tall Grass by Stephen King & Joe Hill

In the Tall Grass

Dur­ing a cross-country trip, sib­lings Cal and Becky Demuth stop to inves­ti­gate the sounds of a child call­ing for help from the sur­round­ing field of grass.

What fol­lows is tense, excit­ing, and mys­te­ri­ous as the sib­lings become sep­a­rated, lost, and dis­ori­ented, not know­ing where the child is or how to make it back to the rest stop they parked at. In the field of grass, they encounter strange peo­ple and things that test the lim­its of their sanity.

in-the-tall-grass-ebook

This intense novella was col­lab­o­ra­tively writ­ten by Stephen King and Joe Hill. It car­ries the grim fore­bod­ing of some sim­i­lar King sto­ries, such as Chil­dren of the Corn and N., as well as the descent into mad­ness found in H.P. Love­craft. But, it feels dif­fer­ent enough. So if you like those, it’s fairly safe to assume you will like this.

 

The Set­ting

One of the high­lights of this story is the tall grass itself. It’s very much a char­ac­ter, tak­ing on sin­is­ter char­ac­ter­is­tics. It seem­ingly manip­u­lates the sib­lings like an intel­li­gent and sadis­tic trick­ster. The loom­ing, oppres­sive atmos­phere cre­ated heav­ily by the grass con­sumes the char­ac­ters and reader alike.

The tall grass has its own implied back-story, which adds to the mys­tery and depth of its char­ac­ter. Attrib­utes of incom­pre­hen­si­bil­ity and com­plete mali­cious­ness add to its haunt­ing nature. You get hints at how long it may have been the way it is and other col­or­ings of its mythol­ogy. Although fea­tured lit­tle, the rest stop makes for a great set­ting also—it’s always a great start­ing point for a hor­rific tale.

 

The Hor­ror

Both authors are experts work­ing ten­sion, pres­sure, and fear, and the reader gets a heavy, con­densed dose of that in this novella.

The pres­sure to escape, espe­cially since the sis­ter is preg­nant, is high. The ten­sion stays taught as the sib­lings strug­gle with want­ing to help the lit­tle boy, but not los­ing them­selves in the process. They want to find a way out of the grass and under­stand what is hap­pen­ing, but can’t.

The authors effec­tively por­tray the fear of being sep­a­rated, and the fear when your brain fully clicks over to real­iz­ing you can­not escape. And of the fear of incom­pre­hen­si­ble, over­whelm­ing men­ace and hor­ror, dizzy­ing the brain with the sur­real real­ity that ratio­nal­iza­tion just will not work in these situations.

Keep in mind, this story is intense and prob­a­bly not for every­one. It is very graphic, bru­tal, and grue­some at parts. But it is a creepy good time. Also, make sure to check out another col­lab­o­ra­tion by Joe Hill and Stephen King called Throt­tle.

A Study in Emerald by Neil Gaiman

A UNIQUE MIX

Weav­ing together hor­ror and a detec­tive story, Neil Gaiman crafts a unique and inven­tive short-story using his cus­tom­ary charm­ing voice. Specif­i­cally, A Study in Emer­ald com­bines the worlds of Sher­lock Holmes with the Cthulhu mythos.

a study in emerald

I expect almost every­one is famil­iar with Sher­lock Holmes, but for those not famil­iar with the Cthulhu mythos, it comes from writer H. P. Love­craft, who started the cos­mic hor­ror genre that encom­passes mon­sters beyond the under­stand­ing and rea­son­ing of mankind.

In this com­pos­ite, alter­nate world, tak­ing place in a ver­sion of Vic­to­rian Eng­land, we meet two very famil­iar char­ac­ters who are called in to help inves­ti­gate the mur­der of a mem­ber of the royal fam­ily. An ancient and mon­strous royal family.

ENGAGING

As the hunt for the killer begins and the mys­tery begins to unravel, the reader gains more and more insight into the his­tory and cul­ture of this odd world.

And enhanc­ing the detec­tive feel of the story, Gaiman writes the mys­tery so the reader can piece together and deci­pher the clues for him– or her­self. Cer­tain mys­ter­ies are never explic­itly revealed, so you will have to read with your think­ing cap on if you want to catch everything.

But it’s not all about the mys­tery. With twists and turns, the story never becomes stale or bor­ing. The mix of the two worlds def­i­nitely keeps things con­stantly fresh, and the char­ac­ters are witty and a joy to hear con­verse.

ITS GAIMAN

If you haven’t read Gaiman before, you are miss­ing out. The way he tells a story is just a delight to read. Enchant­ing and charm­ing. Dark and inven­tive. Fun and adven­tur­ous. A mas­ter fairy­tale sto­ry­teller with wild and mod­ern inventiveness.

The whim­si­cal voice of the nar­ra­tor main­tains a qual­ity of fun even in the dark­est moments, and his unique takes on clas­sic fan­tasy tropes keep things fresh.

FREE

Check it out and see if you can piece together all the mys­ter­ies. Either way, you’ll have fun along the way. And best of all, you can read it for free on his site at: http://www.neilgaiman.com/p/Cool_Stuff/Short_Stories

Laugh Out Loud! Top Five Humour Books For Children

The key to get­ting chil­dren inter­ested in read­ing is to keep them enter­tained and a great way of doing this is through humour. Some of the finest writ­ers of children’s books have used humour to get their read­ers inter­ested and every­thing from silly sto­ry­lines to funny facts can be per­fect to get a reader interested.

Books for chil­dren cover a wide num­ber of areas and gen­res and we’ve picked out five top funny reads that your lit­tle reader is bound to enjoy. They also make great gifts.

Gnomes, Gnomes, Gnomes

Gnomes, Gnomes, Gnomes

Illus­tra­tor: Vicki Gausden

One of the most recog­nis­able names in children’s books, Anne Fine, brings a fun adven­ture which sees gnome-obsessed Sam on an adven­ture with his favourite friends. A for­mer Children’s Lau­re­ate Anne Fine knows how to find the funny bone and it’s a very sweet tale of Sam plan­ning the per­fect send off for all his gnome friends, with the help of his sis­ter Alice.

 

Mad Iris

Mad Iris

Illus­tra­tor: Scoular Anderson

With over 70 books for chil­dren under his belt Jeremy Strong def­i­nitely knows what makes our kids laugh. Mad Iris fea­tures Ross and Katie’s mad­cap attempts to hide an escaped ostrich in their school toi­lets. From the off it doesn’t sound like they’re going to have much suc­cess and this is a fun read for chil­dren aged up to 8 or could be enjoyed with parents.

 

Mary’s Hair

Mary's Hair

Illus­tra­tor: Richard Watson

Best known as the sci-fi mas­ter­mind behind Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer also knows how to crack a good joke for younger chil­dren. In this story Mary sim­ply can’t stand her bushy, curly hair. Her answer is to sim­ply cut it off but Mammy isn’t happy about it and bans her from ever doing it again. Mary has to think of inge­nious new ways of exer­cis­ing her cre­ative ener­gies and there are plenty of laughs to be had along the way. We guar­an­tee you’ll feel sorry for the poor dog!

 

The Cup­cake Wedding

cupcakewedding

Illus­tra­tor: Nina de Polonia

Gillian Cross is another of those names who have writ­ten tons of pop­u­lar and enjoy­able books for chil­dren. She also knows how to write a good com­edy and this one is all about cakes. The Cup­cake Wed­ding is all about Mia’s wed­ding but the fun is soon halted when the young cou­ple announce they sim­ply can’t afford cake. Our hero, Mia’s sis­ter Holly, sim­ply can’t let this be true and does all she can to ensure that her sis­ter has not just one cup­cake but a whole tower of them. As the wed­ding day approaches there is more than the cakes to worry about.

 

The Two Jacks

twojacks

Illus­tra­tor: Ross Collins

Tony Brad­man intro­duces two boys with very sim­i­lar names but very dif­fer­ent per­son­al­i­ties. We meet goody goody Jack Baker and bad boy Jack Barker and it’s the per­fect begin­ning for a funny escapade of mis­taken iden­ti­ties. One new teacher gets them con­fused and the pair of them finally see what the other lives like, with ever­last­ing consequences.

 

Keep­ing the kids laugh­ing and enter­tained as they build a love of books is a sim­ply great idea. Books can be fun and the sooner chil­dren learn this the better.

***

–This arti­cle is writ­ten by Alice. A book worm, she is espe­cially pas­sion­ate about chil­dren read­ing books.

Esoteric Fiction with Agostino Scafidi

We’ve been patiently wait­ing in line for years now! It’s been way too long since any­one has given us the go ahead to feel some relief and it’s high time we get our turn!
-The Invis­i­ble Papers
 The Invisible Papers by Agostino Scafidi

This is my sec­ond eBook. It’s what I call Eso­teric Fic­tion. What makes it eso­teric you might ask? Well, I have always had an inter­est in the topic of spir­i­tu­al­ity but there was a time when I was extremely curi­ous about the Occult, espe­cially Thelema and its pro­po­nent Aleis­ter Crow­ley. I was also fas­ci­nated by other Occult related top­ics, some being tarot, astrol­ogy, astral pro­jec­tion, and lucid dreaming.

Of all the things I’ve read in the field of Occultism, one thing I never failed to notice (which I also found to be quite enter­tain­ing), was how most of the lit­er­a­ture was writ­ten in a way that made it very hard to under­stand. It was almost as if the author tried their best to make their book illeg­i­ble while man­ag­ing to throw in just enough infor­ma­tion that is con­ve­niently shared between many other books in the field. What I’m say­ing may not make sense to you, or if you are famil­iar with occult lit­er­a­ture you might con­sider me a fool right about now. Whichever one it is, I really don’t care! I’ve read quite enough to be able to stand by my opin­ion. Fur­ther­more, if you’d like to inves­ti­gate this area for your­self I rec­om­mend tak­ing a look at Hecate’s Foun­tain by Ken­neth Grant and then get back to me. ;)

One thinks they’re learn­ing to ignore the igno­rance. They’ve got to remind them­selves about some­thing or another or else it will slip their mind and evade their mem­ory rather quickly. He or she must scrib­ble down reminders but if handy they’ll type their reminder into a dig­i­tal device, how­ever more often than not what one needs to keep in mind is just shy of being wor­thy of dig­i­tal storage!

-The Invis­i­ble Papers

So what does does all of what I just wrote have to do with The Invis­i­ble Papers? Well, I took the spirit of all the occult writ­ings I’ve enjoyed (as much as any­one could enjoy them) and applied it to my own cre­ativ­ity. I didn’t have another fic­tional story in me like I wrote in The Anchor That Stopped The World, my first eBook. So when I began writ­ing in an almost jour­nal like fash­ion for this one, some­how I was inspired to trans­form my entries into an eso­teric pre­sen­ta­tion. Did I suc­ceed? Who knows? It seems like the reviews I’ve gar­nered for it thus far agree with my inten­tion. I am just glad when­ever some­body else gets it, because per­son­ally, I’m happy with it.

_________________

The Anchor That Stopped The World

There’s a spe­cial place in my heart for this one, The Anchor That Stopped The World, my first eBook. I was so proud of it (and still am) that I call it a novel. I know it’s really more like a short novel (but I would never agree to call­ing it a novella!).

Once the haunt­ing sound­track had been set and the whole hor­ror show was set in motion, Mar­tin stood back and admired it for a few sec­onds. ‘Damn, that’ll teach ‘em.’ pat­ting him­self on the back. This sick­en­ing dis­play will serve as a trau­ma­tiz­ing repel­lant if any assailants were to return. There was one last thing Rizzo decided to add. He pro­ceeded to write a note and place it in view of any­one who might enter. This is what the note read:

-The Anchor that Stopped the World

 

The story is about Mar­tin Rizzo and the bad things that are hap­pen­ing to the peo­ple around him. A man who wakes up in unfa­mil­iar sur­round­ings and finds him­self cap­tive. The story unrav­els from there and involves var­i­ous orga­nized crime fac­tions. A Crime fic­tion, the story takes place in Montreal.

Grow­ing up in Mon­treal as an Ital­ian def­i­nitely exposed me to sto­ries about orga­nized crime. I guess it’s no sur­prise that I amassed enough infor­ma­tion about the sub­ject in a very pas­sive way. The inspi­ra­tion for this book came about in a burst, but the details of it all unfolded as I went along.

 

Alain, who was dri­ving, sta­tioned the SUV in a place they deemed covert enough. They all exited the vehi­cle and from the trunk grabbed gas masks and put them on. Each man car­ried a hand­gun with a few extra clips, a shot­gun and a semi-automatic rifle except for Benoît who had a tear­gas launcher instead of a shot­gun and Georges who had a hunt­ing rifle with a scope instead of a semi– auto­matic rifle. Mar­tin approached the fenced gate and cut a way of entry into it. Then, accord­ing to plan, Georges passed through it first and took up a van­tage point on top of a ship­ping con­tainer by climb­ing up a back­hoe loader.
-The Anchor that Stopped the World

 

Before The Anchor That Stopped The World, I had never writ­ten any­thing with such a word length. For many years I had pon­dered the idea of pos­si­bly writ­ing a book, but I never had what I felt to be a story idea sub­stan­tial enough to write so much. Nor did I have enough con­fi­dence. At the same time, I was quite pre­oc­cu­pied with my pur­suits as a musi­cian. How­ever, once I made a con­scious deci­sion to put my hopes of a career as a gui­tar player on the back­burner (but of course I still play for my own per­sonal enjoy­ment), it seemed like there sud­denly was all the time in the world for me to write.

This one is raw, its quick, and it’s not a refined piece of lit­er­a­ture. It’s exactly how it’s meant to be.

I am in the edit­ing stages of my third eBook right now, it will be called Dreams, Fic­tion and Me. I am very excited to get this one out there, but I am tak­ing my time ensur­ing I do the very best job I can. This book will be clas­si­fied as a para­nor­mal fic­tion. It is a col­lec­tion of short sto­ries based directly on dreams of mine. I recorded my dreams using a dream jour­nal. What that is, is basi­cally a pad of paper and a pen sit­ting by my bed­side. I’d wake myself up after each dream (as often as I could), and jot down what I could remem­ber. To achieve this wasn’t easy. I had prior expe­ri­ence in dream jour­nal­ing some years ago after read­ing a lot of Car­los Cas­taneda. Suf­fice it to say, I learned how to har­ness just enough abil­ity to amass enough mate­r­ial to put together what I believe to be a unique and inter­est­ing read.

***

  • Bio: Agostino Scafidi is an author, a gui­tar player and ama­teur pho­tog­ra­pher who was born and raised in Mon­treal, QC of Sicil­ian descent. As soon as he learned to write he began writ­ing sto­ries for fun. Also at a young age he received his first gui­tar, a nylon stringed clas­si­cal gui­tar. His child’s curios­ity would keep him inter­ested in play­ing from then on and at the age of 14 he bought his first elec­tric gui­tar. Agostino also began explor­ing the world of pho­tog­ra­phy around that time and his inter­est never died. In August of 2013 Agostino inde­pen­dently pub­lished his first novel The Anchor That Stopped The World in eBook format.

ConCarolinas

Con­Car­oli­nas

Copyright 2010 Ed Beard, Jr.

Art for Con­Car­oli­nas, Copy­right 2010 Ed Beard, Jr.

Con­Car­oli­nas was this past week­end (May 30 – June 1). It is a con­ven­tion of all things sci-fi, fan­tasy, hor­ror, and related gen­res from the worlds of writ­ing, comics, art, gam­ing, cos­tum­ing, film, and music. Really, it fea­tures just about any­thing fun, geeky, and pop-culture related.

hotel

The venue, a Hilton Hotel in Char­lotte, NC, had a great out­door area with a large pond and walk­way lead­ing to an area filled with restau­rants and bars.

THE EVENTS

Every­thing you could hope to find at a sim­i­lar con­ven­tion was present. A deal­ers room with ven­dors sold all types of mer­chan­dise based on sci-fi, fan­tasy, hor­ror, and other prop­er­ties. For instance, a Medusa knit hat, orig­i­nal jew­elry, orig­i­nal Game of Thrones art­work, and painted wooden carv­ings of things such as the Mas­ter Sword and the Key­blade from the Leg­end of Zelda and King­dom Hearts respectively.

There were tons of fun and inter­est­ing pan­els such as: The New Star Wars, Comics & Web­comics, Doc­tor Who Trivia, Space Explo­ration, and I am Sher­locked.

There were writ­ing work­shops such as: What are Edi­tors Tired of See­ing, Writ­ing for Antholo­gies, and Is YA Really Just for Kids?

There was a Sci-Fi Whose Line is It?, a com­edy show from Pineap­ple Shaped Lamps, and live music from Valen­tine Wolfe, The Rop­ers, and Mikey Mason.

There was a short-film fes­ti­val, as well as air­ings of films such as Knights of Badass­dom.

There were rooms for table­top gaming.

There was a cos­tume contest:

Sith

A Sith Lord

Krampus

Kram­pus

Three contestants in the costume contest.

Three con­tes­tants in the cos­tume contest.

Costume Contest Winners

Cos­tume Con­test Winners

There were great pan­els of authors dis­cussing and read­ing their works, auto­graph ses­sions, and of course the author guest-of-honor George R.R. Mar­tin speak­ing on all three days.

Some other guests included:

  • Media Guest of Honor: Anthony Mont­gomery (Actor — Star Trek: Enter­prise)
  • Artist Guest of Honor: Tommy Lee Edwards (Illus­tra­tor & Comic Book Artist)
  • Music Guests of Honor: Valen­tine Wolfe (elec­tronic music group)
  • Gam­ing Guest of Honor: Chris­tine Stiles (RPG Writer and Editor)
  • Filk Guest of Honor: Bill & Gretchen Roper (Musi­cians in the filk genre)
  • Some of the Spe­cial Guests: David Weber (Sci-Fi and Fan­tasy author), RJ Haddy (Spe­cial FX artist – Face Off), Lara Parker (actress – Dark Shad­ows), Kathryn Leigh Scott (actress – Dark Shad­ows), Jonah Knight (musi­cian), Pineap­ple Shaped Lamps (sketch com­edy troupe), DJ Spi­der (Cos­play and Cos­tum­ing), Rich A. Molinelli (illustrator)
Snoopy

Red Baron Snoopy

WILD CARDS AND BEYOND

At one of George R. R. Martin’s pan­els, he dis­cussed his Wild Cards series. It is about an alien virus unleashed upon human­ity in WWII. The virus deforms and debil­i­tates the major­ity, while a hand­ful are granted super­pow­ers and main­tain their nor­mal appearance.

George2

Other than its engag­ing and orig­i­nal con­cept, Wild Cards stands out for being a shared-universe. While Mar­tin edits and writes for the series, many other authors con­tribute sto­ries that take place and tie into the Wild Cards uni­verse while stand­ing on their own as well. Although there are about 23 vol­umes, it is not a strictly ordered series such as A Song of Ice and Fire, and there are a few dif­fer­ent jump­ing on points if you do not wish to read them all.

Those famil­iar with his A Song of Ice and Fire will appre­ci­ate some real­ism and grit­ti­ness applied to this fan­tas­ti­cal world. In fact, Mar­tin com­mented that he wanted to con­struct the world with even greater real­ism than it has, but many of the authors wanted to write more flam­boy­ant sto­ries. So, it seems a bal­ance was struck.

He also talked about his other works, such as Fevre Dream, Martin’s take on the vam­pire story. Set in 1857 in Mis­sis­sippi, a river­boat cap­tain is entan­gled with a mys­te­ri­ous, aris­to­cratic vam­pire. Other top­ics dis­cussed were his short sto­ries, movies in devel­op­ment for his other works, and work­ing with many dif­fer­ent writ­ers as an editor.

George1

ICE & FIRE

At his A Song of Ice and Fire panel, he read from an upcom­ing coffee-table book con­sist­ing of orig­i­nal, new mate­r­ial about the his­tory of Wes­t­eros, avail­able Octo­ber, 2014. Some of what he read cov­ered the ori­gins of house Lan­nis­ter and their wealth, the pro­gres­sion of lead­er­ship from Tytos to his son Tywin, and the fate­ful Rains of Cas­tamere. The book will be com­pre­hen­sive, illus­trated with fam­ily trees and maps, and most impor­tantly of all con­tain new and orig­i­nal mate­r­ial.

THE GEEKDOM

If you have never been to one of these con­ven­tions, you will not be dis­ap­pointed if you decide to go. Espe­cially for new­com­ers, there is the pres­ence of fun and excite­ment as if dis­cov­er­ing a new world. A world as lay­ered and in-depth as the fic­tional worlds from the works of the authors and artists present there.

The con­ven­tions are filled with fans as pas­sion­ate as the cre­ators them­selves, such as the groups of Doc­tor Who and Game of Thrones cos­play­ers, and as kind and wel­com­ing as old friends, such as the friendly faces you will meet at the hotel bar.

DoctorWho

Every­one is eager and accom­mo­dat­ing to strike up a con­ver­sa­tion, whether it be while wait­ing in lines or sit­ting next to a stranger in one of the pan­els. Like­wise, the authors and artists at the tables fill­ing the halls are very approach­able and will­ing to dis­cuss their works and answer your ques­tions. And, it’s always an added plea­sure to see these famil­iar faces through­out the rest of the day.

StarWars

Ter­rific Star Wars cosplay

Some of the employ­ees are dressed up, and all are kind, effi­cient, and accom­mo­dat­ing. For instance, George R. R. Martin’s sec­ond panel reached capac­ity, and quite a few peo­ple were not going to be able to see him. That is until they, on-the-fly, opened up another room and added a bunch of chairs. For­tu­nately, every­one got to see him.

Activ­i­ties seemed to run all night as there were screen­ings of movies as late as mid­night and table­top gam­ing prob­a­bly until dawn. Also, fliers alerted every­one to the par­ties in the hotel rooms that would take place late into the night.

Con­Car­oli­nas was sim­ply fan­tas­tic through and through, and should def­i­nitely be added to your cal­en­dar for next year, May 29–31, 2015!

For upcom­ing Sci-Fi and Fan­tasy Cons, check out http://www.upcomingcons.com/science-fiction-conventions