From the Mind of Master Imaginationist Crystal Connor ~"A Trusted Name in Terror."

The Darkness, Artificial Light, In The Valley of Shadows

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Unveiling the Concept Cover for Artificial Light

The artwork Yvette Montoya created The Darkness is a hard act to follow.

So needless to say I was becoming more that just a little worried as Artificial Light began to unfold itself into the complex, nail-biting, roller coaster of a ride that it’s become and at Chptr XXXIII I still had no idea of how or what I wanted the cover of this 2nd book to look like.

Because both power players in this trilogy are women I knew I wanted a woman on the cover, & because of the title I also wanted some sort of play on light and it needed to be pretty … but what I didn’t want is for the cover to look like everyone else’s.

As I’m sure most of you are aware, I am a high-maintenance drama queen with combative and belligerent tendencies who’s not easy to please, and though that has resulted in some pretty phenomenal results it can sometimes be my Achilles heel.

A couple of nights ago, actually it’s been about a week, I sloppily wrote “binary code” in my notebook on my nightstand either while I was dreaming or right as I was waking up & fell back asleep because I don’t remember writing it and had no idea what it meant but I have been thinking about it every sense.

At approx 4am this morning this is what I came up with:

I’m going to pass this off to an artist because it needs a little tweaking she needs darker skin and curlier, darker hair but basically boys and girls this is the cover art for Artificial Light.

I have been up all night and half the day working on A.L. since last Friday so I bought some Tylenol PM so that I can force myself to go to sleep, I missed a breakfast date with my BFF this morning because I was totally delirious from being up all night. I was talking to myself but didn’t understand a word I was saying …that’s pretty bad =/

Til next time guys,

Monday, November 29, 2010

If you like books and love jewelry…Meet Amanda!

Today we’re talking to Amada Leigh, I was 1st introduced to Amada by my tour coordinator Yolonda Spinks from BooksAnd… when she booked me to be interviewed by Amanda about The Darkness on her blog. The coolest thing about Amada’s blog is that not only does she interview and showcase authors, she host contest where you could win free books, she also brings to our attention artist of different genres and mediums and she is also…wait for it…a jeweler! So grab a cup of tea and let’s get to know a little more about Miss Amanda Leigh.

Notes From The Author: 1st of I would like to thank you so much one more time for taking the time to read the sneak peak of The Darkness and giving me such a good review, I can’t wait to hear what you have to say after you’ve read the entire book =D I also want to thank you for taking the time to answer a few of my questions.

The 1st thing I’d like to talk about the name that you have branded yourself with, Not Really a Southern Vamp Chick, what does that mean and how did you come up with that name?

Amanda Leigh: Thank you so much for having me here! Most people just assume my name has something to do with the Sookie Stackhouse Southern Vampire Mysteries, but that didn't even come into the picture when I was thinking of a name.

I live in Tennessee and have never really fit in much here. I have a lot of “northern” tendencies and ways that I talk. Plus I've never met any girls like me around here. Then throw in the fact that my family in Kentucky, for those that don't know US geography that state is the state above TN on the map, always talk about being more southern and country than me.

I always meant to bring a map with me when I visited, but figured that would hurt more than help so I never did. LOL! So, I'm a bit of a goth girl stuck in Tennessee who doesn't fit in and people are confused by, and vampires have just been a lifetime love of mine, and there you have it! ;)

NFTA: You have been blogging since 2009, when you 1st started your blog did you ever image that you would have such a huge following?

AL: Oh my goodness no! I wasn't even sure that I would do much with my blog at first. I started out with just a few followers who were people I knew from other sites. Next thing I knew I was addicted to my blog, and now Twitter, and am absolutely amazed by my wonderful readers!

NFTA: How did you attract so many fans & followers, did you advertise or was it a “write it and they will come” situation?

AL: I've advertised off and on by making accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads. I know a lot of people join different groups and all too, but I'm horrible with keeping up with things like that, so I try to keep that at a minimum. When I first started my blog I think I advertised more. Now I use Twitter the most, and that's what has made a big difference I think. With that said, I've never wanted to have followers just to have the numbers. I want the people that follow my blog, facebook, etc., to want to read it.

NFTA: I know right? Speaking of reading, the foundation of your blog is reviewing books in the paranormal and urban fantasy genres, which I super appreciate btw, are you also a writer and if you where can we find your work?

AL: If you had asked me that question even a few months ago I probably would have just said no. I've always written poetry. It's been the easiest way for me to express myself my whole life. Recently though, after several people asking me this same question, I've been thinking about it more and more and finally started writing my first novel. Who knows when I'll finish it, or what genre it will end up being in, but so far it's borderline urban fantasy/horror.

NFTA: What do you think makes a good story?

AL: I think that is completely subjective which is why it's so great there are so many books in the world. To me though, anything that can pull me in to the world and get me lost in the characters and the story is good. I like a bit of variety so there's no mold it has to fit. As long as the writing is done well and I like the characters for the most part, I'm usually pretty happy. Do I love all stories? No, but I still rarely start a book I don't finish. Too many books start out a bit slow but end up so amazing.

NFTA: Where do you as a book reviewer draw the line on gory descriptions and/or erotic content?

AL: Lol! I'm one person that it is hard to shock or disturb. Even if something gives me pause for a moment, I can usually just think about it and find some reason to laugh about it and move on with the story. I've actually only read one book that disturbed me with it's gory descriptions, which still made me laugh because I was curious who in the world could read it if it bothered me. I wish I remember what it was. As far as erotic content, I read plenty of it and as long as there's still a story line going on then I'm happy. Once the story line seems to disappear... then I don't see the point in reading anymore.

NFTA: How do you decide which books to review?

AL: I read the synopsis for the book, try to find out when or if there's a deadline for the review. For ebooks I can only review a few at a time. I don't have an ereader and have to read them on my computer, which is a bit hard on the eyes. I'm usually pretty good about picking out books for review that I want to read. I don't want to waste my time, the author's or the publisher's. There wouldn't be much point in me reviewing it if I were to go in with the mindset that it wasn't something I wanted to read. Still though, my reviews are my honest opinions though I try not to be harsh.

NFTA: What are the biggest challenges you face when writing a review, and have you ever received negative feedback from an author whose review was less than glowing?

AL: My biggest challenge is probably deciding how much I want to tell. I want to give my readers enough to make them want to read it, but I don't want to spoil anything for them.

As for feedback from authors, I've been lucky and have mostly had great experiences with them. Here's where my opinion on reviews differ from some people's though. I will say if I don't enjoy a story, but I'll go into my reasons for that without attacking the author. Like some young adult novels just don't seem to be written in a way I can connect with them, they aren't bad books at all. There are great characters and cool worlds, but I can't connect to them or care about them like I do others. Does that mean the author did a horrible job and you should avoid that book? No. In fact some of the series I don't care for I still recommend to people because I think they will really enjoy them.

NFTA: Not only do you review books, you hold a contest called “Win on Wednesday”, a segment called “Feature a Design on Friday” that will soon be ending due to the start-up of your jewelry blog and a “Shop on Saturday” where you share with us the things you’ve found and bought online. What is a typical work day/schedule for you? How many projects do you juggle at once?

AL: Right now I'm lucky enough to make my own schedule for the most part. There's the book review blog of course which I think I could work on constantly and still find more to do, jewelry making, general crafting, writing, and I clean and run errands for my grandmother who has trouble getting around. Now I'm going to start trying to do craft fairs every few weeks hopefully! Oh and starting up a blog for my jewelry and crafts, because one isn't enough work lol!

NTFA: Ok, now let’s talk about my favorite subject…jewelry! When did you become interested in creating jewelry?

AL: I've always made some bits of jewelry here and there, but since I've had the book review blog and do my Shop on Saturday feature, I've gotten to know some great designers. There were also times I'd be wondering around Etsy and see something and be like “Well I could make that,” so I did. At first I just thought I'd fix a few broken pieces I had and maybe create something new out of them. The next thing I knew I was completely hooked and couldn't quit shopping for more supplies.

NTFA: The jewels on your Etsy page are very diverse & the materials you use are, for me, a temptation to the sense of touch. What is your medium of choice when it comes to creating jewels and why?

AL: I have to choose? Oh no. Lol! I guess it's obvious that I like chains. I have a blast working with them. I'm really looking forward to what I hope I'll get to start working with in January and that's velvet and maybe lace!

NTFA: Where do your ideas come from and how does your creative process from conception to final piece work?

AL: Some ideas stem from general things from books. I love all things Celtic, so I keep making lots of things with green and Celtic knots. Sometimes I'll be in a store and see something and it will give me an idea for something else. Now not all of my ideas work. I just make what comes to mind, and if it doesn't work I can take it apart and start over. I can't work on jewelry everyday. Some days I just don't have any creativity in me it seems. Other days I'll pull out a box of charms and right away picture 5 pairs of earrings I want to make and maybe necklaces to go with them.

NFTA: What is your favorite project to date and why?

AL: It is probably my Crosses Gothic Necklace, 5 chains and 5 crosses all connected to one toggle clasp. I'd always wanted a necklace like this one and was thrilled that I could make it. It was one of the first pieces I made and was a lot of work. I love it.

NTFA: It really it a gorgeous necklace. Do you still have the 1st piece of jewelry you created or did you sell it?

AL: Well as I said, I've made jewelry off and on, though most of that I gave away to friends. Since I started this year, let me think... The first piece I made I gave away to a contest winner on my blog.

She won a steampunk necklace another blogger had made for it and I made a pair of earrings that matched it just about perfectly so I just sent her those too.

NTFA: Ok Amanda I just have one more question for ya, if you were conducting this interview, what question would you ask?

AL: Since it's Christmas time, for those that celebrate Christmas, I LOVE Christmas carols, do you have a favorite Christmas carol? Mine is Carol of the Bells with Oh Holy Night being a close second.

NFTA: OMFG! Carol of the Bells is my all time favorite! I love the version by Nox Arcana and a capella version by Destiny's Child. I reviewed a movie called Whisper and the director used Carol of the Bell in the most sinister scene…it was perfect!

That was a pretty good question, I would have never thought of that =D Well that's wraps up our interview, thank you so much for your time today, don’t work too hard!

AL:Thank you so much for having me!!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Moving at warp speed...

Ok kiddies, I am reviewing the final changes to The Darkness! If all goes as planned it should hit the selves the 2nd week of Dec just in time for Xmas!

...And They All Lived Happily Ever After, is cruising along nicely as well. The shortest story in that collection is a two page story called The Queen's Pawn, because it is such a short story I contacted a guy I know named George Moss who is the executive producer of Gmoss Designs to get some tips on how to convert a story into a comic book. He referred me to a friend of his named Charles Apellaniz.

After just a few emails and a quick phone call Charles was able to write a kick ass script for Pawn, and I am so excited about it I've been driven from sleep =D The visual and graphic artist I am working with is Ron Davis his work is like nothing I have ever seen before so I am totally hyped up about the way the comic book is going to turn out!

I am going to include both version in the anthology and give away the comic at the cons I'll be vending at next year. Just wanted to check in and say hello, I've been up all night so gonna get some sleep
'til next time!

Friday, November 12, 2010

DVD Pick Of The Week: INSIDE two tales of terror.

1st up Jeff Mahler’s 2006 Inside

Plot line: The main character in Jeff Mahler’s 2006 Inside is Alex has disturbing hobby. He likes to follow strangers. One night Alex takes things too far when he sneaks into a home and gets caught...instead of calling the police, the couple, fascinated by his resemblance to their dead son Timmy, ask him to stay. As the grieving couple begins to believe that Alex really is Timmy, he finds himself trapped in a horrifying existence of desperation, despair, and insanity--and Josie, suspicious of Alex's sudden disappearance, is his only chance at escape...

Scariness Factor: Is off the fucking chain, this well thought out low budget film is more terrifying than William Goldman’s adaptation of Stephen King’s Misery

Gross-Out Factor: N/A

Complaints: The only thing I did not like was the graininess of the film but that took nothing away from this little gem.

High Points: Like in Misery Alex is confined to a wheelchair, so he can't just run away. The thing I love this most is how the kidnappers convince 1st a priest and then a doctor that the person they have captive is actually their son and just the horrible realization and hopelessness that Alex feels as he realizes that he may be trapped inside this house forever.

Personal Commentary: One of my favorite scenes is when Alex is in the bath tub and the mother goes into the bathroom and closes the door, she is furious that Alex keeps trying to tell her that he is NOT her dead son Timmy. We don't get to see what she does to punish him, but its easy to guess by Alex's screams, splashing water and gurgling sounds.

Stars: 5 Stars

Where I rented it: Blockbuster

Our next nightmare is courtesy of Alexandre Bustillo’s 2007 À l'intérieur (American translation: Inside)

Plotline: Four months after the death of her husband, a woman on the brink of motherhood is tormented in her home by a strange woman who wants her unborn baby.

** I don’t think I have ever put a warning disclaimer on a movie that I have reviewed but in this case it’s warranted. **

Scariness Factor: I’m not really sure about what’s happening on the other side of the pond with our UK cousins but this movie is outright brutal. As gut wrenching as writer/director James Watkins’ 2008 Eden Lake is, by far À l'intérieur is far worse. Bustillo uses lighting, shadows, and music to create an atmosphere of terror that is all consuming and it will continue to effect you hours after the movie is over.


Gross-Out Factor: Not really gross but gory because it has to be.

Complaints: N/A

High Points: I love the fast pace and how Bustillo uses the lighting.

Personal Commentary: The main character, Sarah, is nine months pregnant and her baby is due in 3 days. When something bad happens to Sarah we get to see how the baby in the womb is responding to the assault. When Sarah is being pulled thru the hallway by her hair, the camera goes thru Sarah’s stomach to show the baby distressed and crying…it’s really cool.

Stars: 5 Stars

Where I rented it: Blockbuster online

Both of these movies explore the monstrous things parents are capable of for the love of a child