The Romance of Fan Fiction, part 2 by Jude Sierra

Hello all! Happiest of Novembers to everyone. This month we wanted to welcome Jude Sierra for two exciting reasons: first for a very first look at her upcoming novel and second, for a four part series she wrote for Binge On Books. Jude will be spending the month of November discussing the intersections between some of her favorite things: fanfiction, romance novels, and authors you know who play in both sandboxes! Jude will be talking with some of your favorite romance authors throughout the month about their fanfiction to original fiction publication stories and just how important fan communities have been to them.

Before we get down to the nitty gritty, there’s one more order of business. It’s been a little while since we’ve seen a new novel by Jude, and we’re excited to announce the details of her upcoming novel, A Tiny Piece of Something Greater.

Blurb: Reid Watsford has struggled with his cyclothemia his whole life. When his grandmother offers him a place to stay at her condo in Key Largo, he decides to leave Wisconsin, his ex, and his family to try to make a fresh start. There he meets Joaquim, a Brazilian wanderer who came to the US looking for adventure, and ended up an intern at the Key Largo Dive Shop. When Reid signs up for his introductory dive classes, it seems an adventure has come to Joaquim—but Reid has a lot of secrets, and a past he can’t quite escape. As their relationship deepens, so do Reid’s complications, something they both must learn to navigate—on their own and with each other.

Coming from Interlude Press on May 17th, 2018. 


The Romance of Fanfiction, part 2 by Jude Sierra

Whether it is lore, or underground knowledge; a passing references those of us who have been there and done that will get – many of us recognize our own. When it comes to the ties between fanfiction authors and romance novelists, truthfully, I just thought everyone knew. The whole thing was rather normalized by dialogue within fan communities. I come from an independent publisher (Interlude Press) whose roots were in fandom and who branched out from there. I mention this because Interlude, like many others, recognized the quality and depth of writing and artistry in fan works.

It’s that artistry I really want to focus on here. Whether it’s in the community feedback or in sheer opportunity to write (a lot!) there’s a level skill building for authors that creates transitional opportunities and maturity when moving from one space (fanfiction) to another (published fiction). Every author I spoke to for this article touched on this. For example, Avon Gale (Scoring Chances) described the ways in which fandom taught her to write characters: “When you’re constrained by someone else’s character you really put a lot of thought into every little thing your character does, from actions to voice…inner dialogue, you name it.” Much like Avon, I found that the practice of trying to fit my own stories to existing characters was an instrumental piece of learning how craft.

Fanfiction allows writers to stretch given information in unique new directions. How can we take a high school kid and put him in a world where people have wings? How can we make that a story about how the divisions between those with wings and those without represents class hierarchy, restricts or allows for access to resources, speaks to how social constructs affect our everyday lives…and want readers to care? (Yes, this is a thing I tried to do, thanks Glee!) Fanfiction authors ask devoted fans to take their internal concept and love for a character, plot or story into a voyage that amounts to an incredible leap of faith. To do so, authors have to be able to ground this crazy voyage in something fundamental. I particularly enjoyed fanfiction crafting when the stories that we are given create contradictory moments – how can we stitch together pieces that make no sense or actively contradict each other and make the reader believe them? (I’m looking at you Marvel)

When I spoke with Suzey Ingold (Speakeasy), something that jumped out at me was this – the idea that having characters given to you doesn’t provide a “shortcut”; similarly, having a plot already provided won’t either. Like some of the authors I spoke to (E.M. Ben Shaul, Amy Stilgenbauer, Racheline Maltese), Ingold had experience writing prior to coming to fandom – in her case, in theater and for the screen – but didn’t believe in her ability to write descriptive prose or narrative. Writing fanfiction not only helped her realize she could, but gave her the space to practice and hone those skills. When E.M. Ben Shaul (Flying Without a Net) described her journey from a day job as a technical writer at a software company to published author, fanfiction also came before original fiction: “I started writing fan fiction because…I realized at one point that I had forgotten how to write anything other than short, declarative, action-verb sentences; bulleted lists, and numbered steps. I had forgotten how to write dialogue that sounds like how real people talk.” Importantly, it was in writing fanfiction and skill building – and passion for writing and character – that the main characters for her novel came to her.

For many authors of both fan and published works, the genesis of an original character can be traced to initial interest in writing something in fanfiction. Often, the thing we want to write just doesn’t fit. Loving a story or a unique take on a character enough to see it through – outside of what often becomes a lovey comfort zone with existing readership – is a testament, in my opinion, to craft. Knowing when you’ve stretched something as far as it can go; recognizing when a character demands a unique world and voice; believing in a story enough to take a risk – these are skills we’ve learn through careful attention to character as well as story and world building.


Jude Sierra is a Latinx poet, author, academic and mother who  began her writing career at the age of eight when she immortalized her summer vacation with ten entries in a row that read “pool+tv”. Jude began writing long-form fiction by tackling her first National Novel Writing Month project in 2007. In 2011Jude was introduced to the Glee fan community began writing fanfiction, where her stories garnered thousands of readers.

Jude is currently working toward her PhD in Writing and Rhetoric, looking at the intersections of Queer, Feminist and Pop Culture Studies. She also works as an LGBTQAI+ book reviewer for From Top to Bottom Reviews.  Her novels include Hush,  What it Takes,  and Idlewild, a contemporary LGBT romance set in Detroit’s renaissance, which was named a Best Book of 2016 by Kirkus Reviews. Her upcoming novel, A Tiny Piece of Something Greater will be available in May of 2018.

Social Media Links: Website Twitter Goodreads Facebook


E.M. Ben Shaul is the author of Flying Without a Net, which was published in 2016 by Interlude Press. 

Suzey Ingold is the author of The Willow Weeps for Us, part of the Summer Love Anthology, Speakeasy (Interlude Press), and An Open Letter to the Men that Frighten Me, part of Issue 2 F Word (404 Ink)

Avon Gale is the author of the Scoring Chances series as well as numerous published novels and novellas. She is also co-writing the Hat Trick series with Piper Vaughn and co-wrote Heart of the Steal with Roan Parrish. 


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Horror-Romance Anthology, All in Fear, currently on sale! Plus excerpts from each of the stories…

 

Spotlight on: All in Fear! Currently on sale now through 10/31 for only 99 cents!

Authors: Steve Berman, KJ Charles, Avon Gale, Roan Parrish, Kris Ripper, J.A. Rock

Original Release Date: 12/1/16

Available at: Publisher | Amazon | All other retailers


Learn more about the book:

All in Fear: A Collection of Six Horror Tales

Horror wears many faces, and its masks can be tantalizing. Some of the top names in queer fiction come together to spin their own versions of horror. Worlds rife with dark beauty and mystery, the familiar becoming terrible, creatures ethereal and alluring—and all bearing the gleam of love. Does hope lie along these grim passages or only doom? It will become clear. All in time—and all in fear.

Company by Roan Parrish

Nick Levy’s family is falling apart and he has no friends, but at least he can escape into the world of his favorite comic book series, The Face of the Vampire. Naturally, when the vampire in question shows up one day, Nick is enthralled. After all, what could be better than his own personal fantasy made real? Except that Nick isn’t exactly sure whether Michel is real or not. And when the arrival of a new boy in school promises romance, Nick sees a side of Michel he never could have imagined. This Michel is cruel, jealous . . . and he’ll do anything to keep Nick for himself.

Love Me True by Kris Ripper

Palmer’s life is as good as it gets. Well, okay, so he hates his mind-numbing office job. But he’s found a hot, smart, incredibly kinky guy. The sex is explosive. The power play is off the hook. And if he gets his way, Jon will soon be his husband.

When Palmer asks, Jon says yes. For the first time ever, Palmer thinks things might be really good. Sure, bad things happen in the worldto other people. But this is all he needs: Jon at the end of the day, in their bed, arms around him.

How could he have possibly been so stupid?

The Price of Meat by KJ Charles

Johanna Oakley will do anything to save her beloved Arabella from the cruelty of Mr Fogg’s madhouse—but ‘anything’ turns out to be more than she bargained for when she finds herself working for a man suspected of worse than murder. As Johanna is plunged from the horror of Sawney Reynard’s barber shop into the foul, lawless labyrinth at the heart of London, can she or anyone get out alive?

His Mouth Will Taste of Chernobyl by Steve Berman

Joining Zeta Psi isn’t Steve’s dream, it’s his dad’s. Nevertheless his dad’s gift of the mysterious Bailey flask gets Steve an in to the frat house, and maybe his best shot at being accepted on campus. But the flask’s silver sheen may only be lighting his way into the darkness at the heart of the frat—and the darkness he’s learning is within himself. Steve wants to choose who he is, but choices are dropping like flies as he learns the true mystery of the Bailey flask. How does he give back a gift that’s also a curse?

Legion: A Love Story by Avon Gale

STAFF SERGEANT JASON ESSEX, YOU HAVE RECEIVED THE FOLLOWING ORDERS FROM THE UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS:

REPORT TO: CAIN INSTITUTE [ADDRESS REDACTED]

ACTIVE DUTY COMMITMENT: GUARD AN ENTITY CURRENTLY HELD IN AN ENCLOSURE AT THE CAIN INSTITUTE. RECORD DAILY MEASUREMENTS. KEEP ANY AND ALL PERSONS FROM ENTERING OR LEAVING THE FACILITY. ENSURE THE ENTITY REMAINS COMPLETELY INCARCERATED. OBSERVE THE ENTITY WITHOUT ENGAGING.

ADDITIONAL INSTRUCTIONS: THIS ASSIGNMENT WILL BE CARRIED OUT IN FULL ISOLATION. PLEASE BE ADVISED.

Beauties by J.A. Rock

When Dr. Lester Usole attends an event at AI developer Carnificiality, he’s introduced to Beauties: artificial beings designed to provide tailored sexual experiences for their human owners. Lester isn’t interested in sex—but he is fascinated by Ira, a Beauty too violent to be sold.

Lester convinces Carnificiality to give Ira to him. Lester has always wanted the chance to work with an adult AI, and around Lester, Ira isn’t violent. He’s strangely innocent, uncannily perceptive, and his company does much to ease Lester’s loneliness. Except something’s not quite right: Ira roams at night, even when Lester’s sure he’s locked Ira’s door.

Soon Lester is certain of only one thing: Ira has a secret. Something that will link their pasts and change the course of their future—if Lester is willing to face what’s on the inside.


Check out excerpts from each of the stories of ALL IN FEAR:

Excerpt from Company by Roan Parrish:

“Hello, Nicholas,” he said. How the hell did he know my name? I ran through many possible responses and settled, naturally, on the worst one.

        “Did my mom send you after me?” I asked, like a total loser.

        Michel didn’t respond, just cocked his head as if to say, “I am a beautiful and otherworldly creature. Where I come from there is no such thing as mothers.”

        “Are you real?” I asked then, congratulating myself on a slightly more pressing and practical question.

        “Of course,” he said.

        He was just how I’d imagined him: graceful, and beautiful, and so, so lonely. I realized that I had returned his handshake without thinking and was now just standing there, holding his hand and staring like an idiot. At this thought, Michel smiled kindly, and lifted my hand to his lips in a soft, gentlemanly kiss. I’m not proud of it, but it was my first kiss, and even though it was just on my hand, I felt it everywhere.


Excerpt from Love Me True by Kris Ripper:

“Truth or dare, Palmer.” He lay back against the pillows of our bed, still idly playing with the band of his shorts.

“Does this game really work if we already know everything about each other?”

He grinned. “You think we know everything about each other?”

“Oh, come on.” I poked him in the chest. “Do you really have secrets from me, mister?”

“Maybe one or two things that haven’t exactly come up yet.” The grin turned into a smirk. “I don’t tell you everything I think about, Palmer. Aren’t secrets supposed to keep things interesting in a couple?”

I rolled my eyes. “I don’t think we need any help keeping things interesting. Plus, I want to know everything about you. Don’t you want to know everything about me?”

“Uh huh. I really do. So: truth or dare?”

“Truth.”

“Okay. How about . . . when did you know you were in love with me?”


Excerpt from The Price of Meat by KJ Charles:

The doctor grasped her arm. Johanna stamped on his instep with everything she had, wrenched her arm free, and fled out of the terrible room, running for the stairs. Reynard gave a roar that might have been amusement or rage, and at the cry his men rose from the shadows with leering grins and stretching arms. Two moved to the base of the stairs. Johanna changed direction and fled for the other door, driven by the instinct of the hunted fox to seek any hole, and this time, nobody got in her way. She pulled it open, hurtled in, batted aside something heavy and cold that swung from the ceiling—

One of dozens of things, hanging from great hooks, cold and pale and heavy in the dim light from the door, white bone-ends showing where the inedible parts had been trimmed off.  It was a meat store, full of carcasses. The one she’d shoved swung back at her and on its side, like a cattle brand, Johanna saw an anchor-shaped tattoo.

A shadow fell over her. Reynard, with ragged, grinning men at his side, loomed in the doorway.

“Not a bad idea, Miss Oakley. We leave meat here to tenderise, and this should soften you up nicely. A couple of hours should make you more obliging, don’t you think? I’ve got to gather the Freemen for a meeting, but I daresay we can let you out once I’m done, if you ask nice enough.”

He stepped back and shut the door. It slammed on her like the thud of a coffin lid; the bolt scraped on the outside; she was alone in the dark. She hammered on its unyielding surface with her fists, begging and weeping and screaming for release from this dreadful larder, while behind her the dead men creaked and swayed on their hooks, quietly, gently decaying in the dark.


Excerpt from His Mouth Will Taste of Chernobyl by Steve Berman:

As I push open the trapdoor at the top of the ladder, a moist, thick heat trapped within the attic overruns me. The outside daylight seeps through the oddly peaked roof, enough that I can find the dangling cord of a single bare bulb. One pull and I see the attic is really an unfinished elevated crawl space. By the time I worm off the last rung and onto the floor beams, my face feels like a windshield in the rain.

Carl climbs after me. The brothers ordered me to retrieve last year’s Halloween decorations, but Carl volunteered to help. I almost wish he hadn’t because there’s not enough room in the attic for the two of us to move about comfortably. He ends up on his hands and knees beside me.

The cardboard boxes I brush with one hand are mottled with mold and coated with dust. I reach blindly into one box and pull out a cheap plastic devil mask, the scarlet streaked with thick crud.

“I hate Halloween,” Carl says. His pained face is inches away from my shoulder. Dark crescents bloom under his neck, his armpits.

“No one hates Halloween. There’s all you can eat candy. Free candy.”

He shakes his head like a thick-coated dog after a bath and the sweat flies in droplets. “My folks celebrated the ‘harvest’—”

I hold the devil mask in front of my face. The bits of Carl I see through the cut-out eyes look miserable. “That sounds spookier—”

“It’s just pathetic.” Carl reaches out and lifts the mask off me. “I was . . . quieter before I came here.”


Excerpt from Legion: A Love Story by Avon Gale:

Personal Journal

Today I asked Cain if demons really did eat human souls. I expected him to tell me that wasn’t true (they don’t live in a lake of fire, either) but . . . well. Apparently that part of demon-lore is true.

“When I’ve broken these bonds of magic and found those who summoned me, Jason, I’m going to feast on their souls so slowly they will die a thousand deaths before I swallow them.”

That probably should have put an end to my thoughts about getting him out of there, but honestly . . . could I really blame him? If I were kidnapped and put into a cage, experimented on and held against my will, I’d be pretty pissed and looking for revenge, too. Definitely.

“Do you need souls to survive? Like food?” I asked. Because there’s only one human here at the moment. Freeing Cain doesn’t mean I have to be his lunch. At least, I hope it doesn’t mean that.


Excerpt from Beauties by J.A. Rock:

Lester turned in time to see Ira pinch each end of the worm and pull it in half.

“Ira! What are you doing?”

Ira held the two halves up, each one still wriggling. “I want to see what’s on the inside.”

“But that kills the worm. Don’t you know that?”

Ira frowned at the dark half. “It wipes the worm?”

A sharp pain pulsed behind Lester’s right temple. It’s just a worm. Just a worm. It was startling, to see something come apart like that, is all. “It kills the worm,” Lester repeated.

“It doesn’t,” Ira said steadily. “Both halves can live on and become new worms.” The halves curled around Ira’s thumbs in perfect synchronicity, as though Ira had commanded them. “I just wanted to see what was on the inside. Lester.”

Lester didn’t answer. He studied the dark red clots at each end of the severed worm, unable, for a moment, to move.

A pale mass trailing wires like jellyfish tentacles. Lips moving. No screams. The long, spindly appendages of a cancer cell. Shaking in a white hospital bed. Lips moving. Last words. You had to take things apart to make them whole. That was how ABs had been created—by dissecting the human body until it was nothing. By building its echo.

Ira tossed the worm halves aside. “They have nothing on the inside.”


Get to know the authors of ALL IN FEAR:

Steve Berman

Steve Berman loves to tell stories that are both queer and weird. He was a Zeta Psi back in his college days at and remembers being hazed. He survived and graduated and even earned a Masters Degree in Liberal Studies. He has written and sold over a hundred articles, essays, and short stories. His YA novel, Vintage, was a finalist for the Andre Norton Award.

Website: www.steveberman.com

KJ Charles

KJ Charles is a writer and freelance editor. She lives in London with her husband, two kids, and a cat with murder management issues. KJ writes mostly historical romance, mostly queer, often with fantasy or horror in there.

Find her on Twitter @kj_charles, pick up book info and free reads on her website at kjcharleswriter.com, get the infrequent newsletter at kjcharleswriter.com/newsletter, or join her Facebook group, KJ Charles Chat, for sneak peeks and exclusives.

Avon Gale

Avon Gale wrote her first story at the age of seven, about a “Space Hat” hanging on a rack and waiting for that special person to come along and purchase it — even if it was a bit weirder than the other, more normal hats. Like all of Avon’s characters, the space hat did get its happily ever after — though she’s pretty sure it was with a unicorn. She likes to think her vocabulary has improved since then, but the theme of quirky people waiting for their perfect match is still one of her favorites.

Avon grew up in the southern United States, and now lives with her very patient husband in a liberal midwestern college town. When she’s not writing, she’s either doing some kind of craft project that makes a huge mess, reading, watching horror movies, listening to music or yelling at her favorite hockey team to get it together, already. Avon is always up for a road trip, adores Kentucky bourbon, thinks nothing is as stress relieving as a good rock concert and will never say no to candy.

At one point, Avon was the mayor of both Jazzercise and Lollicup on Foursquare. This tells you basically all you need to know about her as a person.

Connect with Avon:

Website: www.avongalewrites.com/

Facebook: www.facebook.com/avongalewrites

Twitter: @avongalewrites

Sign up for Avon’s Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bOXXp9

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/author/show/14237686.Avon_Gale

Roan Parrish

Roan Parrish lives in Philadelphia where she is gradually attempting to write love stories in every genre.

When not writing, she can usually be found cutting her friends’ hair, meandering through whatever city she’s in while listening to torch songs and melodic death metal, or cooking overly elaborate meals. She loves bonfires, winter beaches, minor chord harmonies, and self-tattooing. One time she may or may not have baked a six-layer chocolate cake and then thrown it out the window in a fit of pique.

Sign up for her Newsletter to receive updates about new releases, works-in-progress, and bonus materials like sneak peeks and extra scenes! eepurl.com/bmJUbr

Website: www.roanparrish.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/roanparrish

Twitter: @RoanParrish

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/ARoanParrish

Instagram: www.instagram.com/roanparrish

Kris Ripper

Kris Ripper lives in the great state of California and hails from the San Francisco Bay Area. Kris shares a converted garage with a little kid, can do two pull-ups in a row, and can write backwards. (No, really.) Kris is genderqueer and prefers the z-based pronouns because they’re freaking sweet. Ze has been writing fiction since ze learned how to write, and boring zir stuffed animals with stories long before that.

Links:
The site: krisripper.com

The Facebook group: Ripper’s Irregulars: https://www.facebook.com/groups/405062456366636/

The Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/SmutTasticKris

J.A. Rock

J.A. Rock is the author or coauthor of over twenty LGBTQ romance, suspense, and horror novels, as well as an occasional contributor to HuffPo Queer Voices. J.A. has received Lambda Literary and INDIEFAB Award nominations for Minotaur, and The Subs Club received the 2016 National Leather Association-International Pauline Reage Novel Award. J.A. lives in Chicago with an extremely judgmental dog, Professor Anne Studebaker.

Website: www.jarockauthor.com

Blog: http://jarockauthor.blogspot.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jarockauthor

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ja.rock.39


Win one of three e-copies of All in Fear now!

 

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It’s…an Audio Giveaway! Four authors, four books, four chances to win!

Hey there! You’ve found this post, meaning you’ve read all about my favorite books in audio over on HEA USA TODAY! Now courtesy of my favorite authors, we are giving away some audiobooks! Here’s your chance to win audio from Roan Parrish, Amy Jo Cousins, Avon Gale, and Santino Hassell! There are four audiobooks up for grabs – one from each of the authors – and you have four chances to win!

 

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Top Books of 2016 from Binge on Books

I asked, they answered: so today we have…the Best Books of 2016 from everyone here at Binge on Books!

Our task? To pick one favorite book of the year, just one, and after a lot of grumbling, and dirty looks, and twitter angst, Erin, Alisa, Alex, Madison, Sara, Anya, Abbi (and me! Judith!) compiled our favorites just for you. So in no particular order I give you… Read More

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Alisa Listens, Audio Review: Save of the Game by Avon Gale

28121630Title and Author:  Save of the Game by Avon Gale

Narrator:  Scott R. Smith

Publisher:  Dreamspinner Press

Format:  audio

Genre:  contemporary romance

Order link: Amazon 

Reviewed by:  Alisa

What to expect:  A sweet and low angst story about two guys having their first relationship with another man. Read More

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Alisa Listens, Audio Review: Power Play by Avon Gale

o-power-playTitle and author:  Power Play by Avon Gale

Narrator: Scott R. Smith

Publisher:  Dreamspinner Press

Format:  Audio

Genre:  Contemporary Romance

Order link:  Amazon

Reviewed by:  Alisa

What to expect:  Two men who are trying to put behind past hurts and become good support systems to their young team and to each other. Read More

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All in Fear anthology: The most horrifying scenes

all-in-fear-out-121

On 12/1, my small press, Open Ink, put out an unusual collection of horror and romance featuring the talents of KJ Charles, Roan Parrish, J.A. Rock, Steve Berman, Avon Gale, and Kris Ripper. To celebrate the release, and to give you a taste of what you can expect from each of these terrifying tales, here they all are with the most horrifying scenes from their stories. Read More

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Countdown to Halloween: Hidden Gems in the Dark by Avon Gale

countdown-with-bob

Hello! My name is Avon Gale, and I’m here today to tell you about a few of my favorite horror movies. As a horror fan, my favorite films tend to be atmospheric, supernatural movies but I’m a sucker for found-footage films, anything having to do with demons, and a good twist-on-a-classic. I think I’ve probably watched the entirety of Netflix’s horror collection, and I’ve given more than a few Amazon Prime horror films (or, more appropriately, “films”) a chance. I’d say about 35% of what I watch is enjoyable, and of that, 10% is fantastic.

So, while I have a lot of well-known favorite horror movies – my favorite being The Haunting (the old version, that remake is dead to me :|) – including classics like The Shining, The Exorcist, etc, I wanted to share a few of the gems I’ve found that you might not have heard of. They range from sci-fi horror to supernatural horror to psychological horror, but each one spooked me and I’d recommend any movie here without reservation.

Here we go!


Let Us Prey

This is a Scottish horror movie about a mysterious prisoner who shows up in a police station, and causes…things…to happen, with the other prisoners *and* the police. It’s admittedly got a few problems, but I love this film mostly for the unconventional romance (seriously, the ending. OMG. /swoons). It’s a clever little movie but please be advised – it’s *very* graphic with some heavy bloodshed. This is part slasher film and part supernatural horror, and yes, part romance. I tweeted about how romantic the ending was, in fact, and the film’s director (!) tweeted back saying very few people appreciated the romance. Leave it to a romance fan, eh? Anyway, not for the faint of heart, this one, but the ending. Gah.

Spring

This is technically creature!horror with a bit of a supernatural twist…but it’s mostly a romance. It’s got amazing dialogue that will crack you up when you least expect it, and it’s so well-done. It’s about a guy who goes to Italy following some family woes, and meets a girl with whom he falls immediately in love. But she’s more than just a girl. Seriously, this is *delightful*, okay? Just watch it and then come squee with me about how amazing it is.

 

It Follows

This is, hands down, the best horror movie I’ve seen in probably a decade. You might have heard of this one, as it got a lot of attention a few years ago. But listen – I still think about a certain scene from this movie when I wake up at night and am in the kitchen or the bathroom. It makes me shiver and dash back into my bed, so. This movie is beautifully written, gorgeously shot (there’s an awesome time-dysphoria thing going on, which lends a dreamlike, timeless quality to the film) with a simple and chilling premise. I also want to talk forever about the various interpretations and meanings, and I love the characters so much.

 

White Bear episode of Black Mirror

I highly recommend the entire Black Mirror series, which you can find on Netflix. The series features chilling tales about the dark side of technology, and while I love all of them, “White Bear” remains one of the most unsettling and terrifying things I’ve ever seen. What’s so frightening about this is how it could happen, and…ugh. I don’t want to say too much because I don’t want to ruin it, but it’s only an hour and trust me, it’ll freak you out. It’s giving me the shivers just thinking about it.  

The Atticus Institute

It’s no secret that I love anything having to do with demons and demonic possession. No matter how bad it is, I will probably watch it (ditto with found-footage films). This film has one of the most interesting takes on demonic possession that I’ve come across, and it’s filmed as a faux-documentary, which is a conceit I absolutely love.  Rather than taking a religious angle, this film is about a woman who shows up at a paranormal research institute in the 70’s, and is kept for observation for several weeks. The mockumentary-style film is set in present-day with flashbacks to the 70’s, and deals with the idea of the military attempting to weaponize a demonic entity. This movie was actually the inspiration for my upcoming short story in the “All in Fear” anthology by Open Ink Press, thanks to a quick interview with an Air Force soldier that planted a seed in my demon-loving brain. Really unique take on a favorite horror trope.

The Invitation

This is a wonderful example of how horror doesn’t have to rely on ghosts or masked madmen to be effective. This one’s a psychological thriller in some ways, about a group of people at a dinner party who have intertwined – and complicated, uncomfortable — pasts. There’s a masterful build-up of tension in this movie, and you’re never quite sure what’s happening or if things are as sinister as they appear. This is not a movie that is going to appeal to everyone. If you’re not into the slow-build thing, you might want to skip this one – but if you give it a chance, trust me, the payoff is more than worth it. Thinking about the last scene of this movie gives me chills. 

The Witch

A very slow-burn horror set in Colonial America, this movie is incredible. It’s brilliantly written and acted, and deals with a family that’s been ostracized from their community. It’s another one that relies on tension and dread to be effective, and some people might hate the period-appropriate dialogue but I absolutely loved it. A perfect atmospheric horror film for a cold night. Unique and original and just all around a wonderful addition to the genre. 

Arq

This is a Netflix Original that just came out, and it’s about a machine that causes a time loop, an estranged couple, and a dystopian future. If I say any more than that, I’ll ruin it. Brilliantly acted film with an obvious low budget, this is horror sci-fi at its best – a great mix of tension and interpersonal drama that moves the plot along instead of stymying it. The action starts off right at the beginning and doesn’t let up, and I loved this movie for not forcing the audience to try and understand why the characters are in the situation they’re in. It just throws you in with them, and lets you figure out as they do. Really brilliant.

The Final Girls

So, I love horror but one thing I could do without? The “woman in peril” plotline. Not that I can’t appreciate it when it’s done well, and I know that most survivors in horror movies tend to *be* women, but I especially can’t stand it when the woman has to be pregnant just to “make it more horrible” that she’s in danger. Anyway, tangent aside, this movie is a highly-stylized production that reminded me a bit of a comic book. It’s beautifully filmed, with these deep bright colors and contrasting shadows, and it’s unclear what time period it’s set in. The premise is a girl who has been trained to take on a group of murderous, privileged young men who like to hunt and kill women. Watching the main character kick ass is so satisfying, I can’t even. This movie might not appeal to many *because* it’s so stylized, but it’s different and unique and I found it really enjoyable.

(note – there are two movies with this name, and honestly, I recommend both of them. This one is the shorter of the two, and was my favorite simply because it was so different from anything I’ve ever seen.)

 

Muirhouse

This movie has a terrible rating on IMDB, and it infuriates me because I thought it was awesome. It’s a slow-burn horror movie as well, about a paranormal investigator who spends some time – not even a night – in the haunted Muir House. Look, this isn’t the movie for you if you want jump scares galore or things explained and resolved. The majority of the movie is this one guy in the house, in which strange things keep happening and freaking him out. This is a supernatural movie that does amazing things with tension and dread, and one of the better found-footage films I’ve seen in the last few years.  

The Ceremony

I’m putting this movie on here because it is absolutely one of my favorites, and I can’t find it anywhere. I’ve searched and searched, and it’s like this damn thing no longer exists. It’s from 2008 and it’s about a guy trapped in his house while sinister things happen…and other than that, I can’t really explain it without giving anything away. All I can tell you is that I’m SO MAD I can’t find this, because I was only able to watch it twice and now it appears to have vanished (there are other films with this title, but this one is from 2008 and there’s a single trailer on YouTube that is terrible and not representative of this film at all). The film is about as low-budget as you get, featuring one actor in a perfectly normal college-ish duplex, stuck inside with the remnants of his absent-roommate’s class project. So good.

IF ANYONE FINDS ME THIS MOVIE I WILL SERIOUSLY SHOWER YOU WITH GRATITUDE, BOOKS, WHATEVER YOU WANT. I’m so enamored of it that I have a half-written story inspired by it, and I can’t work on the story because every time I try, I just get angry that I can’t find the movie >:( One day, ONE DAY, this will be available again and you’ll hear me yelling from Missouri.

A couple others to check out if you’re so inclined:

Housebound, They Look Like People, The Taking of Deborah Logan, All The Boys Love Mandy Lane (the most brilliant take on a slasher film ever), The Dark, Grave Encounters, The Houses October Built, Ava’s Obsessions (hilarious horror-comedy), Rows,  Hush, You’re Next, and Lake Mungo.

Honestly, I can go on and on, so if you want to talk horror, please do! Hit me up on Twitter at @avongalewrites anytime!!

 

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Hockey Double Shot: Rookie Move by Sarina Bowen and Empty Net by Avon Gale

Hey guys, it’s almost hockey season! I say that with excitement, despite the fact that I’m a Bruins fan and they’re probably going to be terrible this year. Sigh. Anyway, if you just can’t wait until October, or if you just like a good sports romance for the romance, not the sport, here are two hockey romances you can read now!

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rookie moveRookie Move by Sarina Bowen

This book features Leo Trevi, a pro hockey players with the Brooklyn Bruisers, and his high school girlfriend Georgia. They were each other’s’ first love, and nobody else has measured up since. Leo is traded to the Bruisers, where he has to come face to face with Georgia (and her father, the coach, who hates Leo’s guts) and all they left behind. Georgia is dealing with trying to keep up after a new promotion and doesn’t have time to be distracted by the long-lost love of her life.

One thing I found refreshing about this book is that, while the event that pulls Leo and Georgia apart is her rape in senior year of high school, the rape itself is never described. The aftermath of Georgia’s assault has echoed through both of their lives, but it’s never dramatized or treated as the only defining event in her life. It’s a choice you don’t often see, and I appreciated the choice the author made.

As always, Bowen does a fantastic job weaving in hockey details with the romance. I also really liked that, even though this was a workplace romance, both Leo and Georgia take their jobs very seriously. They both come to the decision individually that their jobs are more important than the romance, and that never really wavers. They both take pride in their work and are ambitious — there is never the sense that her job is less important than his because she works in PR rather than being on the ice, and her personal ambitions are central to the plot. (I loved the Mark Zuckerberg-like character who owns the team, and I really hope he gets his own book.)

This was a really hard book for me to review. Sarina Bowen is an author who knows how to hit my id hard with tropes and relationships I love. She writes interesting, vibrant characters who have complicated histories, and she should be a  very uncomplicated auto-buy for me. That said, she takes a weird turn into misogyny in almost every book. It’s usually brief, but it’s like, “gorgeous ride, beautiful scenery, CAR CRASH, ok, back on the road, gorgeous ride, beautiful scenery..” She has written an incredibly powerful book about slut-shaming (The Shameless Hour) and then, in other books, she has female characters roll their eyes at other female characters for being shallow or “puck bunnies.” There’s always a moment where the heroine is “not like those other girls” and it really grates.

I think it grates so much because I otherwise love her damn books. I know that when I pick up a Sarina Bowen book, I won’t be able to put it down until it’s done. I know that she’ll have characters that feel full and real. I just wish she would never write anyone’s ex-girlfriend ever again.

divider-horizon-lineempty_net_final-1Empty Net by Avon Gale

Avon Gale’s Scoring Chances series shows a different side of professional hockey: the less-glamorous, lower-paying minor hockey world of the ECHL. The first three books can be read as standalones, but Empty Net doesn’t make nearly as much sense if you haven’t read the third book (Power Play) as it continues pretty directly from the end of that.

This book is all about the drama! Like Sarina Bowen’s book, I couldn’t put it down once I started. However, I definitely think this is going to be the kind of book people will either love or hate. It’s very much a soap opera, with enemies-to-lovers, eating disorders and abusive parents and a hero with a past as a prostitute. Oh, and did I mention that one of the heroes is a virgin? This book is packed with so many tropes, it’s bound to be somebody’s catnip.

The things I loved about this book: good hockey and good therapy. Gale does a great job writing the game, showing a side of pro sports that’s rarely depicted anywhere…the life of struggling minor-league player. She also does a terrific job writing Laurent’s therapist and depicts therapy sessions fairly realistically. Therapy done badly is a huge pet peeve of mine.

The relationship is sweet and mutually supportive, but the book is ultimately all about Laurent and his journey, discovering his sexuality, (he’s demisexual and a virgin) gettiIfng healthy, and freeing himself from his father. Gale’s books deal with difficult subjects but somehow always feel safe, in the way where you know everything is going to be all good at the end.

If you’re in the mood for deep dive into the trope deep end, this is an excellently-written book for you.

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ErinErin is a full time contributor to Binge on Books. She is a voracious reader and reviewer who has been been reading romances since she stole them from under her neighbor’s mom’s bed while she was at work. You can read all her reviews here.

Connect with Erin on Twitter: @booksandjoe

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What Are We Reading May 22nd Edition – What Erin’s Reading

I’ll be straight with you, fellow readers: If I were going to honestly represent what I’ve been reading this week, it would consist of all seven of Ruby Dixon’s Ice Planet Barbarians books, plus the two “slice of life” short stories. These short stories include the accurately named Ice Ice Babies, about life after giving birth to alien baby twins named Anna and Elsa. I fucking love these books. I’ve been stressed, and this level of silly fun was exactly what I needed right now.

So just in case blue aliens aren’t your bag, here are three books I’ve read and enjoyed in the past few weeks!

What Erin is Reading

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