Authors of ‘Insanity Tales’ to Appear at Queen City Kamikaze in New Hampshire 

 

By Jason Harris

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Authors David Daniels, Stacey Longo, Dale T. PhillipsVlad V., and Ursula Wong will be appearing at the Books & Boos’ tables at Queen City Kamikaze. They will be signing copies of Insanity Tales, a collection short stories and one novella with a foreword by award-winning author Jonathan Maberry (Rot & Ruin). 

This will be the first time all five authors will be available to sign this collection so come to Queen City Kamikaze and enter a world of madness as you find out about these nine tales of twisted psyches, peculiar people, and demons of the mind and spirit.

The authors will also participate in a panel, Writing, Editing, and Collaborating on a Book, at the convention.

Queen City Kamikaze happens on March 7 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at 1 Crusader Way in Manchester, New Hampshire.

Book Review: ‘The Great Grammar Book’

 

By Stacey Longo

The Great Grammar Book

I am a copy editor for a Fortune 100 company by day, a copy editor by night for a small press, and a writer. As such, I am extremely rigid and unforgiving when I am asked to review and analyze a book about grammar and syntax. I am happy to say The Great Grammar Book (Second Edition) by Marsha Sramek exceeded my expectations.

The book uses familiar and easily understood language to go over the fine details of the English language, patiently walking the reader through each step, starting with parts of speech and ending with a comprehensive chapter on successful writing techniques. The example sentences used to demonstrate the nuances of the lesson being taught were full of interesting trivia, making this not only an informative review but also an interesting read.

My favorite things in this book were the pointers regarding commonly misused words. (Chapter Two, for example, patiently explained that “alright” does not exist in standard English—a pet peeve of mine when it crops up.) There were numerous examples highlighting common errors, all of which made me start mentally composing a list of people who would benefit from this book. Suffice to say, most of my holiday shopping is now done.

The only proofing error I found was in Chapter Five, “Using Apostrophes Correctly.” Chicago Manual of Style, 6.114 notes that the using the left single quotation mark “should always be construed as an error.” Basically, the tail of the apostrophe should always point to the omitted text, which didn’t happen in the section on omitted numbers (Spirit of ’76 was displayed as ‘76, for example). This is, of course, a minor error, but one I’m sure the author is chastising herself over as I type this.

The Great Grammar Book is fabulous for writers, editors just starting out (I found it to be overly simple for my editing level, but it never hurts to review the basics) and anyone who misuses the English language on a daily basis. I’ve brought it in to work with me to use as a reference when I’m tired and second-guessing myself. This book should be mandatory for every writer’s library.

The Great Grammar Book is available on Amazon here.

The ROCK Comic Expo Has Been Postponed

According to the organizer of the ROCK Comic Expo, the convention has been postponed until further notice. There were “many unforeseen circumstances” that caused the convention to be postponed. The organizer wants to provide only the best entertainment, the official statement said. Refunds will be given for tickets purchased. The organizer apologizes for any inconvenience.

The organizers’ original statement is located on the convention’s Facebook page here.

Red Cross to Honor Westport Employees at January 30 Event

 

The Red Cross will honor three Town of Westport employees at its 16th annual American Red Cross Community Heroes Breakfast set for January 30 in Stamford.

David Ellis, Joseph Bairaktaris, Jr. and former co-worker Ian Chasnow will receive the Life Saving Hero Award. The men are responsible for saving the life of co-worker for quick thinking that saved a co-worker who suffered a heart attack at work. “Doc” Kashka who suffered a heart attack at work.

Joseph Bairaktaris, Jr., and David Ellis were working at the Ned Dimes Marina on Compo Beach when Kashka suffered a heart attack at the nearby basketball courts. Together with former co-worker Ian Chasnow, the men administered CPR to Kashka until emergency personnel arrived with an AED and took over care.

In a citation honoring the men for their actions in saving their colleague, Westport First Selectman James Marpe cited the group’s swift and professional actions displaying “extraordinary composure.”

“Joseph, David and Ian are true heroes for stepping forward to save a life,” said American Red Cross Connecticut and Rhode Island Region CEO Mario Bruno. “They represent the Red Cross ideal of knowing how to save a life with CPR and First Aid training and taking action to do so.”

The breakfast will be held at the Stamford Marriott Hotel and Spa, 243 Tresser Boulevard. Breakfast is served at 7:30 a.m. Registration begins at 7:00 a.m. Tickets for the event are $40. Wells Fargo is Statewide Leadership Sponsor. Emcee will be Tom Appleby, News Director and Anchor with NEWS12 Connecticut. Tickets are $40 each and must be purchased in advance. To purchase tickets online, visit http://www.redcross.org/ct/heroes.

The other honorees at this year’s breakfast are:

  • Workplace Hero Award: General Electric, for its commitment to supporting American Red Cross disaster relief work and programs as well as its outstanding philanthropic and volunteer commitment to communities across Connecticut and the nation.
  • Community Resilience Award: The City of Norwalk, for its multiple programs to better support its citizens and strengthen its infrastructure in disaster preparedness, response and recovery.
  • Military Hero Award: Alfred Meadows, of Huntington, a U.S. Army veteran, Purple Heart Medal recipient and founder of “Operation Gift Cards,” which has presented more than 17,000 thank you kits valued at more than $800,000 to wounded troops and additional military support groups.
  • Spirit of the Red Cross Award: The Echo Hose Hook & Ladder Company 1, in Shelton, for their extraordinary work at a major fire in Shelton, in which they successfully evacuated 28 residents from the building, directly rescuing five of those residents. In the days after the fire, the fire company became a central point of coordination to support the recovery needs for the building residents.
  • Water Safety Award: Brenda Moratoya, of Stamford, for her role in saving a drowning swimmer off Cummings Beach in Stamford last summer.

More information about the heroes is available at the Connecticut Red Cross Blog.

The American Red Cross Community Heroes Breakfast is set for Friday, January 30, at the Stamford Marriott Hotel & Spa, 243 Tresser Boulevard, Stamford. Statewide Leadership Sponsor is Wells Fargo. News12 Connecticut News Director and Anchor Tom Appleby will serve as Emcee. Registration is at 7:00 a.m. and breakfast is served at 7:30 a.m. Tickets are $40 each and must be purchased in advance. To purchase tickets online, visit www.redcross.org/ct/heroes. For more information about the event or to reserve tickets contact Melissa Fazzio at (860) 678-2724 or email her at Melissa.Fazzio@redcross.org.

The Sex Appeal of ‘Style Icons’

By Stacey Longo

Style Icons

Style Icons, Volume I: Golden Boys (2014, Createspace Independent Publishing Platform) is the first in a series of coffee table books from Fashion Industry Broadcast, written by Paul G. Roberts. In this volume, the series examines the sex appeal of some major Hollywood actors of the 20th century.

The selection of actors offered is diverse and clearly carefully chosen. From the brooding handsomeness of Brando to the swashbuckling sexiness of Flynn, the book showcases a variety of talented, beautiful actors. It examines why these men were so appealing: on page 10, the author says, “It would be convenient to compare the greatest sex symbols to Greek gods … but a keener truth seems to be that we fancy our love gods deeply flawed.” I’d agree that this is true for most of the men in this book.

The book contains glossy photos, a biography on each actor, and links to videos (more on those later). The book opens with Marlon Brando, a personal favorite of mine. There’s a brief biography, and many smoldering photos to remind the reader of why he was so appealing. I particularly enjoyed a whimsical shot of Brando on the set of Apocalypse Now, where he looks relaxed and happy.

Next up is James Dean. The glossy photos capture his handsome face and bad-boy charm. Interesting note about the bio included here: I used to think Dean was bisexual. After reading this, now I think he was gay. This, of course, is irrelevant, because the main point is, he was a good actor and easy on the eyes.

Errol Flynn is featured next, and the pictures here emphasize his debonair reputation. Many actors today still emulate Flynn—indeed, in one photo, he reminded me of Cary Elwes; in another, Kevin Kline.

The chapter on Clark Gable was what I’d expected—several shots from Gone with the Wind, certainly his most famous role, along with candids of him with Carole Lombard and Marilyn Monroe.

The Cary Grant chapter was much like the others—a brief bio and several photos. The treasure in this chapter was a shot of him with Marilyn Monroe. She is posing, and he has a bewildered look on his face. It was a nice glimpse of Cary Grant, the man, not just Cary Grant, the actor.

I especially enjoyed the chapter on Rock Hudson. The photos emphasized how attractive he was, and the bio emphasized the tremendous impact he had on bringing AIDS to the spotlight. As I still remember the shock of seeing his gaunt face on the cover of People back in 1985, it was good to see him young and sexy again.

The Steve McQueen chapter offered no surprises, and served as a reminder of how cool he really was. He was followed by Paul Newman. It’s impossible not to love Paul Newman: besides being a genuinely nice guy—those eyes!

The chapter on Elvis Presley was sad. Though many of these icons died young, it’s tragic to look back on Elvis’s life, see how much he had going for him, and knowing that his life ended so soon. Yes, he was handsome, and the photos will remind you of that, but he was unhappy, too.

Finally, we have Rudolph Valentino to close out the book. His sex appeal was legendary, though photographs don’t always capture that essence of sexuality about him. Luckily, there are links that the reader can visit to see the man in action.

I did have some small issues with the book—it definitely needs another text edit, and it ends abruptly and without photo credits. (In all fairness, I have a review copy, so it’s possible that further edits were made after this version.) The video links throughout the volume will certainly enhance the e-book version of Style Icons, Volume I: Golden Boys, but in the print version, the location of the “play” icon in the center of each image was frustrating. However, this extra element of video links embedded throughout the book did make me want to purchase the e-book version.

Overall, Style Icons, Volume I: Golden Boys was an enjoyable read, and a respectful and intriguing look back at some of the screen’s most alluring leading men. You can buy it on Amazon by clicking here.

Author Marcia Clark Talks about ‘The Competition’

By Stacey Longo

John Valeri and author Marcia Clark on Skype.

John Valeri and author Marcia Clark on Skype. Photo by Stacey Longo.

Former L.A. District Attorney Marcia Clark made an appearance via Skype at the Bentley Memorial Library in Bolton on January 8 to discuss The Competition, the fourth book in Clark’s Rachel Knight crime fiction series.

The event was moderated by John Valeri, who pens the Hartford Books Examiner column. Valeri kept the mood light as technical and other difficulties kicked off the event—first, Clark was caught in L.A. traffic, and then the Skype connection wasn’t working. Clark and Valeri started the discussion on speakerphone until the Skype issue was resolved.

Sixteen enthusiastic readers braved the cold weather to ask Clark about her book. The Competition revolves around Rachel Knight investigating a school shooting reminiscent of Columbine. Clark explained how she researched Columbine prior to starting to write the novel, learning more about Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold’s psyches and situations. The Newtown school shootings in Connecticut happened right as Clark turned in her draft of The Competition to her publisher. She and her publisher decided to move ahead with the book’s publishing schedule, as the theme seemed even more relevant and important after the events in Newtown.

The audience agreed that The Competition was at times difficult to read due to the subject matter, but well written and suspenseful. Clark shared some insight into her life these days—besides maintaining a hectic publishing schedule, she also writes appeals briefs and occasionally appears on television. While the audience was respectful of Clark’s request that her most famous trial not be brought up, Clark herself did refer to it when asked why she worked as a prosecutor and not a defense lawyer for much of her career.

“Keep in mind that what you saw in the Simpson trial was not the norm,” Clark said, though she did admit that there is a lot more freedom when working as a defense lawyer. “You only have to convince one person [of reasonable doubt], not twelve [of guilt].” Clark started her career as a defense attorney, but “I wanted to represent the victims,” she explained regarding her move to the prosecutor’s table.

Clark was articulate and endearing as she answered questions. She and Valeri played off of each other well, and attendees praised the event. As one person in the audience posted on Facebook later in the evening: “Great time tonight listening to John Valeri interview the brilliant Ms. Marcia Clark!”

A Book Suggestion for the New Year

 

It’s December 31, the last day of 2014. What do you plan to do in 2015? If you are a reader, I would suggest the anthology, Insanity Tales. It’s a collection of work by five authors: David Daniel, Stacey Longo, Dale T. Phillips, Vlad V., and Ursula Wong. 2014-10-03 12.13.50Insanity Tales includes a foreword by award-winning author Jonathan Maberry (Rot & Ruin) and published by Books & Boos Press. Be prepared to enter a world of madness as you read these nine tales of twisted psyches, peculiar people, and demons of the mind and spirit.

Anthologies are a great way to discover new talent, so order the paperback or e-book today by clicking here.

You can find out about Books & Boos Press here.

 

Movie Review: ‘Thankskilling’

 

by Stacey Longo

thankskilling

Thankskilling (2009) is a delightful testament to everything that can go right in a cheap B-horror film. The plot: a legendary bloodthirsty turkey murders college kids, one by one, over Thanksgiving break. Sounds marvelous, right? It is!

Ali, Kristen, Johnny, Billy, and Darren (or, in genre terms, the slut, the good girl, the jock, the fat funny kid, and the geek) are on their way home for the holiday break when their car overheats. They decide to pitch tents for the night and Darren tells a scary campfire story about a homicidal turkey. He thinks he’s making it up, but it turns out this legend is true: Turkie soon appears on the scene, leaving a gory trail of dog innards and turkey turds in his wake.

It turns out that Turkie returns every two-hundred-and-something years to exact vengeance on the town that slaughtered his brethren for that first Thanksgiving meal. The teenagers involved might be related to some of the pilgrims—or not; it was a plot point that disappeared as quickly as it popped up. Regardless, Turkie is on the prowl, and nobody’s safe.

Turkie’s one-liners and laughable disguises as he hunts down the group of friends will make you laugh so hard, gravy will shoot out your nose. There’s one scene in which Turkie, dressed as a human (wearing a ridiculous pair of sunglasses complete with plastic mustache that will make you giggle just looking at it) has coffee with Kristen’s father (dressed as a turkey) that is just as awkward and bizarre as you’d expect from a movie about a killer turkey. After Ali meets an untimely end, the gang heads to Kristen’s house because, as she says, “My dad has a huge collection of books. I’m sure he has something on killer turkeys.” (As would any decent private library, of course. Don’t we all have books on fowl lore and legend on our shelves?) Her father greets her at the door, but wait—is it really her father, or a turkey wearing her father’s face as a mask?

“You look different,” Kristen tells her father, squinting suspiciously at him.

“Err . . . I got a haircut,” Turkie says, and the group buys this excuse without thinking twice. Fabulous.

The kids start going through all of the books in the hope that they can find out how to defeat the killer bird. There’s a delightful scene in which the brainy kid teaches the porky kid how to read, and the looks on their faces as they overact this sequence is worth every moment of your life that you’ve wasted watching this movie. The book-cramming pays off, of course, when they find an ancient ritual that seems to be the answer to all of their problems.

To fight the evil curse of Turkie, the gang must chant specific words and perform convoluted rituals, which they predictably get wrong. You won’t be upset, though—Turkie, despite being the antagonist in this film, is undeniably the most likeable character, and you’ll be rooting for him and hoping for a sequel. Your hopes will be fulfilled, but that’s a review for another day.

Full of juvenile humor, occasional frontal nudity, and cringe-worthy puns, Thankskilling is a must-watch film for any B-horror fan.

The Official Pre-Christmas Writer’s Promotion Part 10

 

Looking for a good book this holiday season? Check out The Faceless One by Mark Onspaugh.

In 1948, when he was just a boy, Jimmy Kalmaku trained with his uncle to be the shaman of his Tlingit village in Alaska. There he learned the old legends, the old myths, the old secrets.

Chief among them was that of a mask locked in a prison of ice, and of the faceless god imprisoned within: a cruel and vengeful god called T’Nathluk, dedicated to the infliction of pain and suffering.

Now all but forgotten in a Seattle retirement home, Jimmy finds his life turned upside down. For when an unwitting archaeologist pries the mask free of its icy tomb, he frees T’Nathluk as well.

Stuck in spirit form, the Faceless One seeks a human to serve as a portal through which he can enter our reality. The Faceless One can control—and mercilessly torture—anyone who touches the mask, which means there is no shortage of slaves to ferry it across the country to its chosen host.

Yet the Faceless One has foes as well: Stan Roberts, a tough New York cop whose pursuit of justice will lead him into a dark abyss of the soul; Steven, Liz, and Bobby, the family of the doomed archaeologist; and Jimmy Kalmaku, who must at last become the shaman of his boyhood dreams.

The Faceless One by Mark Onspaugh.