Friday, August 30, 2013

What's In a Name?

I for one have always been fascinated by the meanings and origins of names. For instance Ruth (that's my first name by the way) means mercy, merciful or friend to all. As a writer I put a lot of thought into what I name my characters, using a baby name books with meanings and origins as a writer's tool. Sometimes I like a name until I read the definition. Other times I can't think of anything and just start flipping through the pages of names until something grabs my attention. When naming my main character in "The Forsaken" I knew right a way her name had to be Gwenevere. When I checked the meaning: Fair One, I thought it fit perfectly.  However, Gwen can't speak English at the beginning of the book and is given the name Marianne by the orphanage. Marianne means sorrow or Bitterness, which also seems fitting as she isn't  very happy at the orphanage or when people call her by that name.
As Gwen delves deeper into the mystery of her past she'll go from the human world into the other worldly in book two of the Children of Cain series "The Offspring". Naming characters from another era, world, culture, or species is quite challenging. When my series went into the Fantasy realm I needed to get more creative, but I didn't want to get too complex. We've all read books (Fantasy in particular) where the names are so outlandish and unusual that you can barely figure out the pronunciation let alone agree with other fans how it's supposed to be said. I didn't want to have that headache in my series. Below is a list of some characters from book two "The Offspring"

Emon---------------------------Elf (scholar)
Angelo--------------------------Vampire (Italian)
Vinita---------------------------Elf (female)
Legion--------------------------Vampire Lord (French)
Ivan-----------------------------Vampire (English)
Lucca---------------------------Vampire (black)

As you can see... nothing too fancy. None the less they're still interesting and unique to the characters, their personalities or species. Well, that's how I do the naming game. How about you? I'd love to hear from my fellow authors out there. How do you get the inspiration for the names of your characters? Now go forth and leave a comment below and enjoy "Open Book" by Cake!

R.J. Craddock

Saturday, August 24, 2013

We've Got It Covered

We live in a time when the old adage "You can't judge a book by its cover" just isn't true anymore. When a reader is searching for a book online the first thing they judge is the cover. If that interest them than they'll read the description, summary and reviews. If the cover doesn't grab their attention right away the book gets past by as they scroll on down the never-ending list of titles available.

 For those of you who don't know the cover design and all illustrations for my book "The Forsaken", were done by yours truly. It's been a life long dream to find a way to marry my two great passions: writing and art. Having studied at the Art Institute of Phoenix, I decided to take that experience and do my own Cover for my debut novel. However, I soon found that this is easier said than done! I wanted to make a cover that conveyed the genre and feel of my book, that caught the eye but wasn't too similar to other popular covers. As it is part of a six part series, I also felt I needed to come up with a style that would be easy to carry through each subsequent cover, something that made it recognizable on sight as a part of the same series. I started researching books in my genre, Urban Fantasy. What I noticed is that they all looked eerily the same. Then I started looking st some of my favorite book covers from every genre and sat down to examine what it was about them that caught my eye. One of these books is "The Dragon and the Unicorn." by A.A. Attanasio.

I have to admit that I bought this book entirely for its cover and have had it for years but have still never read it. However, I do intend to start it next week. One reason I love this cover is because of the use of negative and positive space, and the contrast with the black and white. It's simple yet dramatic and some what mysterious. I'm a big fan of negative and positive, black and white imagery and use it often in my own art. It seemed only natural that I would use the same concept for my cover.

The black and white background represents the good and evil existing within my main character, Gwenevere, and her struggle to figure out her own identity and her true nature. The stars and snow textures represent the many struggles and trails she encounters in the book. The silhouettes of the girl's face, showing the two sides of her personality, were meant to look like a ying and yang sign. The locket in the middle is an iconic item from the book. Green and red are used as accents, signifying her magical gifts. The fiery font of the title representing the refining fires she'll go through to become the person she was destined to be. I made sixteen different versions of the cover before arriving at this one. I have to say that all the work was worth it and I am very satisfied with it.

Book two of the series "The offspring" is nearly complete and I'm currently working on the cover art and illustrations. I can't reveal the new cover yet but can tell you that the black and white (negative and positive space) and fire fonts are all incorporated in it. One fun difference I've made is to change the color of the spine. Book two will have a white spine, everything else changed to contrast. I plan to switch the color of the spines throughout the series, so that, should they be siting together on a shelf they would be black, white, black, white, black, and white. Needless to say the complete collection will look rather sharp together on your book shelf or mantle.

I've received many compliments on "The Forsaken" cover, and hopefully I can make book two's cover as effective as the first. I've enjoyed the process--although grueling--of creating them both and look forward to doing it again for the rest of the series. If you like what you see you can check out my book on my website, Barnes n' Noble and Amazon. Now that I've covered the cover art of my books, you may now go forth and have a fabulous weekend full of leisurely reading.

R.J. Craddock

Friday, August 16, 2013

Hansel and Gretel Witch Hunters - Movie Review

I love the idea of re-vamping a classic child's tale and taking it a step further. What happens after they kill the Witch in the gingerbread house? What would Hansel and Gretel be like when they grew up? What would they do for a living? What adventures would they have? These questions and more are answered in the film "Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters".

The movie starts by re-telling the story we all know, with their father leading the children into the woods and leaving them. Then they wander the forest finding a house made--rather unlikely--of Gingerbread and candy. When they enter they find that the innocent-looking home is inhabited by a Witch. Capturing the siblings, the Witch forces Hansel to eat candy to fatten him up, and Gretel to heat the fire for the stove in which she'll bake them. When the children fight back trying to escape, the Witch tries to use magic on them but they are immune to it. They shove the evil Witch into the stove and burn her alive. Thus, she becomes their first kill as Witch Hunters, a profession they carry on into adulthood.

Fast forward to present day; Hansel and Gretel (played by  and come to the aid of a village plagued by children-stealing Witches. But not everyone in town is confident of the legendary Witch Hunters' abilities. The town sheriff assembles his own Witch hunting party, and both groups attempted to solve the mystery. But time is running out, it appears that the children might be taken for a specific spell, one that will make Witches impervious to fire. They need one more child and the heart of a White Witch before the blood moon is past to cast their spell. If they succeed they the Witches will be unstoppable.

Although they attempted to put some modern twists into the story, I still felt it was believable in the era and style it was told. They gave Hansel and Gretel some rather advanced weaponry for the times, but I was able to look passed that and still enjoy the action scenes.  (Jean Gray in the x-men movies) was fantastic as the Grand Witch, a dark yet sexy villain. The performances from the two leads were at times a little weak, but overall I enjoyed this movie. It's not the greatest Fantasy film of all time, however, it did had some clever twists in the plot that made it enjoyable. 

I Give "Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters" three out of four stars. It was well done, fun, and original.

Now go forth and see it for yourself, or if you have already, share your thoughts on the film with us here. Also, below I added for your viewing pleasure the wicked opening titles for the movie. Enjoy.

R.J. Craddock

Friday, August 9, 2013

A Poet's Tale

I've always enjoyed poetry. When I undertook writing poetry myself, I wrote in a style all my own. I'm not 

so much symbolic as I am straight forward. I write with emotion, and try to rhyme in unique ways. Mostly my

poetry is rather autobiographical. When I was a poor struggling art student I spent an enormous amount of 

time writing what I call "Napkin Poetry". I kept a sketch book journal as well. Most artists do. It was my 

goal to someday compile these scraps of paper and my collection of drawings into a book. Now, after 

having published my first novel, "The Forsaken" (The Children of Cain - book one) which includes my own 

illustrations; I feel confident to make that collegian dream a reality. So be on the lookout for my poetry/art 

book "Disenchantment" sometime next year. Until then you can enjoy a sample poem.

To read more of my work you can find me on Wattpad. Also, you can visit my website for more updates on The Children of Cain series and my other projects. You can 

follow me on Facebook or Twitter linked at the top of the blog. Now go forth and enjoy your weekend and

what have you. Till next time. 

R.J. Craddock

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Excerpts are for Perverts

So I'm getting really bad at posting my blog on Fridays. This is supposed to be a weekend blog so just as long as I get it posted before Monday I figure I'm good. Anyhow, you're probably wondering about the salacious title of this post. Well, I had to get your attention somehow! 

Okay, I'll get serious now. This weekend post is an excerpt from my urban fantasy novel "The Forsaken" (Children of Cain Series - book one). I've been adding a new chapter from the book to Wattpad each month. Currently we're on chapter five "The Boy in the Tower" 

What is Wattpad you ask? Here's the Wikipedia definition to explain it:  Wattpad is an online community for writers (and readers) Users are able to post articles, stories, and poems. The content includes work by undiscovered and published writers. Users are able to comment and like stories or join groups associated with the website. Around five in ten users are U.S. based; traffic also comes from the U.K., Canada, the Philippines, Australia, and more. The most frequently voted stories (every day) appear on the "What's Hot List". These stats change daily, due to reads and votes by other users. Wattpad also has a Featured Story list, which promotes content reviewed and approved by Staff and an editorial review board. Many of these featured stories are written by self-published and professional writers from different genres.

If you're on Wattpad, here's the link to read "The Forsaken" on my profile: Chapter Five - The Boy in the Tower For those of you who aren't involved in Wattpad, here's an excerpt from chapter five of "The Forsaken". Enjoy! 

“Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t jump,” he demands, staring Gwen down, determined to scare the little girl away.
            “Because she needs you as much as you need her,” Gwen replies calmly, not the least bit intimidated by Douglas’s cold manner.
            “What’re you talking about?!” Douglas shouts, exasperated and surprised by her strange response. “Just leave me alone!” he yells at her, turning his back on her, determined that this time he would  jump even if he has to do it with Gwen watching. He doesn’t care anymore. He’s had it.
“Soon a couple will come. She’ll see you and she’ll love you right away. You’ll remind her of her little brother Thomas; he died when he was your age. They won’t care where you come from, or what you’ve done, or what’s been done to you. They’ll adopt you just as you are,” Gwen prophecies.
Douglas stops dead in his tracks, his back still turned away from her, he looks out of the bell tower at the Orphanage and the courtyard below.
“I’m not sure what will happen after, but she seems really nice, like someone who’d be a really good mom. I think you’re going to be happy
with them,” Gwen replies, feeling suddenly jealous of the glorious future Douglas has before him, something Gwen knows she will never have. She has been adopted and returned so many times now that, after two years, the Nuns had finally given up and no longer even show Gwen to prospective parents. It hasn’t bothered her before, but just now, she feels utterly unwanted and alone in the world. But now isn’t the time to feel sorry for herself. She still hasn’t fulfilled her obligation to save Douglas; this is her top priority at the moment.
“That’s a good enough reason, isn’t it?”
            Slowly, Douglas looks over his shoulder at Gwen.
            “How can you…?” Douglas begins to ask but Gwen cuts him off.
“I told you, just trust me. I just know things sometimes. It doesn’t matter how or why!” Gwen shouts at him, losing her patience.
            Douglas doesn’t know how to react, so he just stands there, stunned and speechless. 


There you go. I hope that little tid bit peeked your curiosity. If you want to read more either login/join Wattpad to read the book for free (but make sure you vote for me and share it like crazy)! Or, you can buy "The Forsaken" in print or kindle form at It's also available online at Amazon and Barnes  N' Noble. Now go forth and have a superb weekend!

R.J. Craddock