Author: Melody E McIntyre

Epeolatry Book Review: Plumes: and Other Flights of Fancy Flash Fiction by Andrena Zawinski

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Title:

Plumes: and Other Flights of Fancy Flash Fiction, 70 pages

Author: Andrena Zawinski

Genre: Flash Fiction/Memoir/General Fiction

Publisher: Writing Knights Press

Release Date: January 31st, 2022

Synopsis: In her debut collection of stories, Andrena melds flash fiction with memoir. She entertains, peaks curiosity, even exacts revenge in characters enjoyable to come to know, whether through love or through hate, all cast on a smooth and well-crafted journey that invites the reader to return to its pages again and again.

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Epeolatry Book Review: When it Rains by Mark Allan Gunnells

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Title: When it Rains
Author: Mark Allan Gunnells
Publisher: Crystal Lake Publishing
Genre: LGBTQ+ Horror
Release Date: 25th March, 2022

Synopsis: It may be dangerous to go out in the rain…
But it may be even more dangerous to stay inside.

Just after noon on a sunny spring day at Friedkin University, a layer of strange clouds smudges across the sky, and a mysterious rain begins to fall. This isn’t just a surprise spell of rain—this substance is slimy and gelatinous…and it’s not letting up any time soon.
The rain spreads across the country, the hemisphere, and the globe, with growing ripples of panic and paranoia gathering behind it. Is it a natural, undocumented phenomenon? A chemical weapon? Some kind of bacterial contagion? As fear turns theories into conspiracies and no clear answers are given, factions start to form between those who have been exposed to the rain and those who stayed dry. Who is safe? Who is marked? Who is dangerous, and who is not?

The rain keeps falling, and at Friedkin University, the sanctuary of the campus bookstore swiftly becomes a dangerous battlefield. Is it man versus nature? Or man versus man?

When it Rains is a perfect read for fans of Stephen King, Clive Barker, and Nick Cutter, or books like One Rainy Night by Richard Laymon, Bird Box by Josh Malerman, and Rain by Joe Hill, and even movies like Night of the Living Dead and The Thing.

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Epeolatry Book Review: The Bone Orchard by Sara A. Mueller

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Title: The Bone Orchard
Author: Sara A. Mueller
Genre: Mystery, Dark Fantasy
Publisher: Tor Books
Release Date: March 22, 2022

Synopsis: Charm is a witch, and she is alone. The last of a line of conquered necromantic workers, now confined within the yard of regrown bone trees at Orchard House, and the secrets of their marrow.

Charm is a prisoner, and a survivor. Charm tends the trees and their clattering fruit for the sake of her children, painstakingly grown and regrown with its fruit: Shame, Justice, Desire, Pride, and Pain.
Charm is a madam. The wealthy and powerful of Borenguard come to her house to buy time with the girls who aren’t real.
Except on Tuesdays, which is when the Emperor himself lays claim to his mistress, Charm herself.
But now—Charm is also the only person who can keep an empire together, as the Emperor summons her to his deathbed, and charges her with choosing which of his awful, faithless sons will carry on the empire—by discovering which one is responsible for his own murder.
If she does this last thing, she will finally have what has been denied her since the fall of Inshil—her freedom. But she will also be betraying the ghosts past and present that live on within her heart.
Charm must choose. Her dead Emperor’s will or the whispers of her own ghosts. Justice for the empire or her own revenge

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How do Authors Use Direct Characterization in a Story?


How do Authors Use Direct Characterization in a Story?

By Melody E. McIntyre

 

Characters are the heart of any story and characterization is how authors tell us who those characters are. The methods authors use fall into two broad categories: direct and indirect. Direct is when an author tells you something about their character such as “she is smart”. Indirect characterization presents the same information, but through the character’s actions or dialogue instead of outright stating it. This can also be phrased another way, show vs. tell. 

One of the most common pieces of writing advice is to avoid “telling” in favour of “showing”, and often this is true. However, to develop strong, relatable characters, it’s important for writers to know how to use both styles in their fiction. 

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Epeolatry Book Review: Comfort Me With Apples by Catherynne M. Valente

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Title: Comfort Me With Apples
Author: Catherynne M. Valente
Genre: Supernatural Thriller/Folk Tale
Publisher: Tordotcom
Release Date: 9th November, 2021

Synopsis:Comfort Me With Apples is a terrifying new thriller from bestseller Catherynne M. Valente, for fans of Gone Girl and Spinning Silver
Sophia was made for him. Her perfect husband. She can feel it in her bones. He is perfect. Their home together in Arcadia Gardens is perfect. Everything is perfect.
It’s just that he’s away so much. So often. He works so hard. She misses him. And he misses her. He says he does, so it must be true. He is the perfect husband and everything is perfect.
But sometimes Sophia wonders about things. Strange things. Dark things. The look on her husband’s face when he comes back from a long business trip. The questions he will not answer. The locked basement she is never allowed to enter. And whenever she asks the neighbors, they can’t quite meet her gaze….
But everything is perfect. Isn’t it?ush, gothic fantasy about the prices we pay and the vengeance we seek.

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How Do Authors Create Suspense?

How Do Authors Create Suspense?

Suspense is a critical part of any story. It builds tension and keeps readers engaged. Without it, stories risk falling flat and your readers will move on to something else, leaving your story unfinished. There are many ways to create suspense and keep your readers turning those pages. Here are a few:

 

1. Create Compelling Characters

Characters are arguably the most important part of any story. Having strong, compelling characters that your readers can root for (or against) is the strongest way to build suspense. When readers are invested in a character, they want to know what happens to them. 

Don’t limit yourself to creating suspense from purely external factors. Suspense can come from the character’s actions themselves. This works especially well with characters who aren’t “good people”. When you have a character who is capable of heinous deeds, like Joe Goldberg in You by Caroline Kepnes, suspense comes from not just what might happen to the character, but also from what the character might do next.

 

2. Danger

Another way to create suspense is to take a beloved (or hated) character and place them in danger. Suspense in this case comes from either the reader’s worry about their favourite character, or the anticipation of seeing a despised character get their comeuppance.

The most obvious method of this is threatening the character with death. However, consider other types of danger. Readers know that in most stories, the main characters will survive, so near death situations don’t always generate the kind of suspense you might be hoping for. Consider other consequences, like failure, injury, loss, or even a combination of several different consequences.

 

3. Information

Revealing enough information to your readers, without giving away too much is a careful balancing act that every writer must grapple with. If the reader has too little information, they can become confused and stop reading. However, if your plot is predictable or the reader can guess everything that’s going to happen, there is no suspense. Clever plot twists will help prevent predictability, but be careful because too many plot twists, or ones that aren’t properly foreshadowed can instead anger your reader.

 

4. Deadlines

A deadline or a countdown is an easy device to create more tension in your story. Knowing that the reader must accomplish something within a certain time frame adds more stakes to the story. Be careful, though, because instead of manufacturing urgency, an improperly used countdown can actually remove suspense from your story. I’m sure you can think of dozens of examples where a bomb is set to go off at a certain time, only to have the hero defuse it with one second remaining. Instead of biting their nails, your reader will be rolling their eyes.

One of the most effective uses I have seen was in the novel Battle Royale by Kousun Takami, which takes place in an alternate history Japan where the government kidnaps third-year junior high school students and forces them to kill each other until only one student remains. At the end of each chapter, the novel provides a countdown of how many students are still alive. The reason this countdown works so well is because it’s unique. Even though we’re told only one can survive, we don’t know how long it will take or who will be next.

 

5. Other types of suspense

Horror, and thriller are the genres that leap to mind when discussing suspense. However, all stories need an element of suspense to succeed. In a romance novel, anticipation is built around how or when the couple will get together. In a coming of age story, we want to know how their lives will turn out and how the character will grow. In a mystery, suspense comes not only from the possible danger the detective faces, but also how and when they will solve the mystery.

 

Knowing how to employ suspense is an important skill any writer should develop. It doesn’t matter whether you write thrillers, romances, or any other type of fiction. Suspense builds tension and feeds reader curiosity. Without it, your stories will be dull and predictable. 

 

Epeolatry Book Review: Have You Seen Me? by Alexandrea Weis

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Title: Have You Seen Me?
Author: Alexandrea Weis
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Publisher: Vesuvian Books
Release Date: 17th August, 2021

Synopsis: SOME SECRETS CAN CHANGE YOUR LIFE … FOREVER.

Lindsey Gillett is missing.

And she’s not the first girl at Waverly Prep to vanish without a trace.

To help cope with the tragedy, new history teacher Aubrey LeRoux organizes a small student investigation team. But when the members start turning up dead across campus, Aubrey suspects there’s more going on than anyone is willing to admit.

The murdered students all had something in common with Lindsey. They shared a secret. And what they uncovered could threaten the future of the historic school.

At Waverly Prep, someone wants to keep the past buried—along with anyone who gets in their way.

A killer stalks the grounds of Waverly Prep, murdering students and anyone who get in the way. This novel is an excellent horror/slasher. The deaths are creative and just gruesome enough without being over the top. If you’re looking for classic horror/slasher movie fun, but in a novel, this is a good pick.

Unlike a typical slasher flick, none of the characters become throwaway victims. Each one shows motivation, personality, and complete rounding. Their deaths hit harder even though I saw their end coming—and I kept hoping for a last-minute rescue of my favourites.

However, as a mystery novel, this book falls short. The aforementioned creative murders often require characters to make illogical and reckless mistakes in order to establish isolation. I found it frustrating at several points, and almost amusing at others. I also felt the resolution to the mystery, while it made sense, wasn’t as creative as I would have liked.

Overall, the writing and pacing is well done, and I enjoyed this book.

 out of 5 ravens.

Available from Amazon and Bookshop.

Epeolatry Book Review: The Horror Collection: Ruby Edition, ed. Kevin J. Kennedy

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Title: The Horror Collection: Ruby Edition
Author: Various, ed. Kevin J. Kennedy
Genre: Horror
Publisher: KJK Publishing
Release Date: 25th July, 2021

Synopsis: The Horror Collection: Ruby Edition from KJK Publishing celebrates the 10th book of the series! Since its conception in 2018, The Horror Collection series has been a firm favourite amongst global horror readers.

With each edition, KJK Publishing has prided itself in bringing audiences new stories from a coalition of brilliant indie talent across the spectrum of horror literature. Putting these stories firmly in the hands of readers, these collections are perfect for those who enjoy shorter works of fiction, those seeking fresh talent in the horror genre and make great reads, as a break between devouring longer works.

Contributors: Tom Deady, Calvin Demmer, Lex H. Jones, Ronald Kelly, John Kennedy, Kevin J. Kennedy, Christopher Motz, Kyle M. Scott, Guy N. Smith, Steve Stred.

At only 139 pages, this collection of short stories isn’t long, but it still offers a good amount of variety in its subject matter. The horrors include apocalypses, forest creatures, ghosts, and serial killers. The volume even ends in a dark poem and excerpt from a novella, Halloween Land by Kevin J. Kennedy.

My two favourite stories were:

Tanglewood by Ronald Kelly – A man takes a short cut home from work one day and is temporarily stranded by a flat tire. While he fixes his car, he is confronted by ghostly figures from his past. I loved the dark, foreboding atmosphere present in this story and although I had a sense of where it might be heading, I still enjoyed the ride.

Where the Holly Ceases to Grow by Lex. H. Jones – A young boy, Jacob, strolls through the woods around Christmas time and makes an unusual friend. What drew me into this story was the mysterious nature of Jacob’s friend and the tantalizing hints at a larger world.

As with any collection, I found there were some stories that I enjoyed less than others. However, I think this was more due to personal taste than any lack of talent on the part of the authors. The stories were intriguing, but a lot of them didn’t scare me like I wanted.

 

I give this collection  out of 5 ravens

Available from Amazon.