Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Forsaken Comes Out May 1st!

Yes, you read it right, tomorrow my debut novel "The Forsaken" will be available! So in honor of this momentous occasion I am sharing a excerpt from said novel featuring my heroine, Gwenevere. No last name? Nope. She doesn't have a last name because she doesn't know who she really is or from where she comes. All she has is a locket inscribed with the name Gwenevere, disjointed memories, and a recurring dream that threatens death should she ever return home. "The Forsaken" is the first book out of six in "The Children of Cain" series. In book one we follow our Heroine's journey from age five to age eleven as she tries to discover her own identity and find her place in this strange human world. However, this is not a Young Adult novel, this is a very dark tale with grown up themes. It's not graphic per say, but might not be suitable for anyone under eighteen years of age. Without further ado, her is a little sample of "The Forsaken".

“Where do you think you’re going?” Beatrice all but shouts at her as her fingers dig into the flesh of Gwen’s arm. Gwen fights and struggles to get free. All around her, she can feel the customers and employees gawking, the chatter of their many voices sounding loud in her ears until she feels as though her head is going to burst. Gwen stops struggling and turns to behold a dark look of hatred on the middle-aged woman towering over her.
“Let me go!” Gwen commands. Her voice becoming deep and hollow, the sound filling the whole diner with its resonating tone, penetrating all the spectator’s ears and reverberating through their skulls. Suddenly, as if magically, Beatrice releases her. With her eyes going wide and her expression blank, she stands up erect before Gwen, her gaze transfixed upon Gwen’s yellow-green eyes.
Raven comes running through the door. He stops short when he realizes that everyone save Gwen is acting strangely. He looks all around the diner noticing that all present are sitting or standing stiffly, bodies erect, all turned toward Gwen, their faces devoid of feeling or emotion. Gwen is now their only focus, commanding their strict attention as they stare at her with wide eyes.
“What happened?” Raven turns to Gwen who looks around her in disbelief.
       “I don’t know. I mean, I did this once before, but it was kind of an accident.”
       “Well, what did you do?” Raven asks, perplexed as he waves a hand in front of Beatrice’s eyes to see if she’ll flinch or blink. She doesn’t react, just continues to stare, transfixed at Gwen.
“I just spoke, and this happened!” Gwen exclaims. She frowns at the kind man who still holds the door open; she puts out a hand toward him. “You can go now,” she says, but he doesn’t move. She says it again, this time staring deep into his eyes. Suddenly, he springs to life, startling both Gwen and Raven.
“Have a good night, miss,” he says smiling down to Gwen and then quickly exits to join his family who await him outside. The door swings shut behind him, leaving Raven and Gwen to stare after him in amazement.
       “You can tell them what to do?” Raven asks, flabbergasted.
“I don’t know,” Gwen replies. She scans the rest of the occupants of the diner and is somewhat relieved to see that their condition had not altered. “Let me see if I can do it again?” She says to Raven as she plants herself right in front of the unfriendly Beatrice. Taking a deep breath, Gwen looks deep into her eyes, and using the same commanding voice she says, “Go open the cash register and give us all the money inside.”
      Just as the man had done, Beatrice springs into life, a cheery, happy disposition about her as she turns and practically skips back behind the counter. She pushes a few buttons and the register springs open with a chime. The once-rude waitress reaches in, pulls out the entire cash teal, and holds it out to Gwen, a big beaming smile on her wrinkled face.
      Raven and Gwen exchange a look of awe. Gwen slowly smiles, a nervous laugh erupting out of her as she reaches out and takes the teal from the waitress who just stands their grinning at them like an idiot doll.      
“Hurry, go get our bags from the truck!” Gwen orders Raven who immediately rushes out the door to obey. While he is gone, Gwen is left alone with the mannequin-like people; all their eyes upon her, making her skin crawl. But Beatrice’s unnatural smile makes her the most uncomfortable.
Out of the corner of her eyes, she sees something and turns her head to look out the glass window into the dark night. Suddenly, a man dressed in a fancy white suit appears on the other side of the glass windowpane. It is the man from the forest, the same man that started the fire in her vision. He smiles, and Gwen feels her inners turn to ice. She stares wide eyed at this apparition, feeling cold and ashamed as if standing their naked.
“You are all powerful, aren’t you, my dear?” A voice like dark music in an empty room echoes in her mind. The man before her just smiles, his lips hadn’t moved, yet she knows that it is his voice that she hears. 
“You can kill them if you want. Or just kill one. Just to see how it feels. You know you can do it. The power is there, just reach out…” he speaks of killing in a dispassionate tone, he raises an eyebrow at her as if to issue a challenge.
“Who are you?” Gwen finds herself speaking in her mind, knowing somehow that she can’t push him out of her head.
It only takes a minute for Raven to return, yet for Gwen, it feels like an eternity has passed. A bell dings. Startled, Gwen turns to watch Raven walk into the diner, their bags tucked under his large arms.
     “Here is your bag, Gwen.” Raven hands it to her, his face flushed from running, his eyes alight with excitement.
Gwen flashes a look back where the man in white had been standing, finding nothing but the dark, empty night behind the clear diner windowpane. In shock, Gwen stares not sure what to think.

All right, well... there it is. If you want to read more then you'll just have to go buy the book tomorrow! Now go forth and share the news with one and all. "The Forsaken" comes out May 1st!

R.J. Craddock

Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Hobbit - Movie Review

Yes! Finally, "The Hobbit" is now available at redbox! So, we checked it out last weekend and enjoyed it with our son, who loved it. "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey." by Peter Jackson based (loosely) on the novel of the same title by J. R. R. Tolkien. It is the prequel to "The Lord of the Rings Trilogy" (in case you didn't know). I read this book right after high school when "The Fellowship of the Ring" was about to come out in theaters. Immediately afterward I read the rest of the series.

I, for one, love Tolkien's elaborate and poetic storytelling and enjoyed the books immensely. However, since I read the book over ten years ago, I couldn't remember it all with perfect clarity. After watching the film version I felt like I needed to re-read the book; just to verify whether what's in the film's plot was an invention of Tolkien or a creative liberty taken by Jackson.

The film starts off with old Bilbo Baggins writing his memories of his adventures from his youth to leave for Frodo after he's gone. (This is supposed to take place before Bilbo's birthday party in "The Fellowship of the Ring"). From there we go back into the tale and see Bilbo as a young man meeting Gandalf as he passes by his home. The conversation turns to adventuring and somehow, without even knowing it, Bilbo agrees to go on a quest. Later that night random Dwarves-- whom he's never met before in his life--start showing up at his door and inviting themselves in for dinner. Finally, when Bilbo is at his wits end, Gandalf arrives to explain everything. It turns out Bilbo is to be the 13th member of this company, sworn to take back their home, Erebor, from the evil dragon, Smaug. From there we go on a whirlwind adventure into unknown parts of Middle Earth. Along the way we learn the history of the Dwarf Prince, Thorin Oakenshield, and his fallen kingdom. I remember some of this from the book, but then they tell of the Dwarf Prince and all the homeless Dwarves trying to take back the ancient Dwarf kingdom called Moira. Only problem is there are Orcs already squatting there. So a battle ensues involving a legendary Pale Orc astride a white Warg (Giant Wolf) who has sworn to end the Dwarf royal line of Thorin.

However, he doesn't succeed in killing Thorin because the Dwarves end up winning the fight but not regaining the mines of Moira (this is all back story). Before the company of 13 finally reaches The Lonely Mountain, Bilbo the Hobbit accomplishes many things. First, he saves the Dwarves from being eaten by Trolls. Second, he escapes capture from an Orc hunting party. Then, he stumbles into the Elvish kingdom of Rivendale. Then, he escapes from the Goblin fortress. And finally, he saves Thorin's life. Not to mention he wins a magic ring of invisibility from Gollum in a game of riddles. For such a humble little fellow, Bilbo Baggins proves to be quite the hero in this tale.

As far as the movie goes, the production value is just as excellent as "The Fellowship of the Ring". The story is well told if only a bit off course from time to time. The only things that really bothered me were the parts that turn out aren't in the book. The Pale Orc astride a white Warg is a Jackson invention to give us more of a definite villain. In the book it was always Smaug the dragon. However, since Peter Jackson decided to break this tale up into a trilogy, Smaug seems more like a mythical creature instead of an imminent threat. Also, the whole thing with Moira confuses me. This is why: in "The Fellowship of the Ring", Gimli, son of Glóin, takes Frodo and the Fellowship through the mines of Moira expecting to meet his kinfolk who rule there. However, they find out that the Dwarves are all dead, and Balrog, the fire demon, and his orc minions, now inhabit it. Now if "The Hobbit" happened quite some time before "The Fellowship of the Ring" then how come no one knew Moira was inhabited by evil until they got there? Why didn't Gandalf warn anyone? (Listen to me, I sound like A Tolkien fanatic!) I was confused a little, yes, however these plot holes did not take away from my enjoyment of the film.

Overall I give "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" three and a half stars. It was well done and definitely got me excited to see the next film in the series. Now go forth and see it yourself (if you haven't already). Or, go re-read the book that inspired it. Either way you'll be having a good time.

R.J. Craddock

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Favorite Movie Quotes - Classic

Here’s another post of my favorite movie quotes. This one is of American film classics. By this I mean films from the golden age of Hollywood. I’ve always enjoyed older films, whether black and white, Technicolor, comedies, or epics.  So here are some of my favorite classic movie quotes.

1)      Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine.” – Rick Blaine, Casablanca (1942). Starring Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid. During the beginning of World War II, Rick Blaine (Bogart), an American without a country, owns a bar in unoccupied Casablanca (Africa). He helps refugees escape from the Nazi’s for a price. Until one day the girl that left Rick without a word in Paris shows up at his bar with a husband, and in need of his help.

2)      I don't think I've ever drunk champagne before breakfast before. With breakfast on several occasions, but never before, before.” - Holly Golightly, Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961). A young New York socialite (Audrey Hepburn,) becomes interested in a young man (George Peppard) who has moved into her apartment building. There really isn’t a whole lot to the plot of this film, but the writing is good and the characters are interesting. The performances by both leads (especially Audrey) are fantastic. It’s one of my favorite movies of all time. 

3)      Great balls of fire. Don't bother me anymore, and don't call me sugar. “- Scarlett O’Hara, Gone with the Wind (1939). Starring Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable. Based off the novel by Margaret Mitchell, a two hundred and thirty-eight minute long epic about an equally epic love story during and after the civil war. I loved the book, I love this movie, and I even love the sequel “Scarlet.” And the mini-series spin off of that book, too. There are plenty of good quotes in this film, but this one sounds a little like something I might say myself, so it makes me giggle.

4)      He wouldn't have died of pneumonia if I hadn't shot him! “ - Jonathan Brewster, Arsenic and Old Lace (1944). A drama critic (Cary Grant) learns on his wedding day that his beloved maiden aunts are homicidal maniacs, and that insanity runs in his family. A very funny movie. If you haven’t seen it, you really should. The whole film, start to finish, is a gold mine of comic timing and great one- liners.

5)      “Boy. When you come on, you come on.“ - Cary Grant “Well, then, come on.” - Audrey Hepburn, Charade (1963). Romance and suspense in Paris as a woman is pursued by several men who want a fortune that her murdered husband had stolen. Who can she trust? This film also stars a young Walter Matthau, and a lot of great performances from a great cast. Audrey and Cary are great together in this romantic thriller. Again if you haven’t seen it you should. They tried to remake this movie a while ago. Perhaps you’ve heard of the awful Mark Walberg flick called “The Truth about Charlie.” Yeah, it’s pretty bad. Tim Robbins does a pretty good version of Walter Matthau’s character from the original, and Thandie Newton was okay as a modern take on Audrey Hepburn, but Walberg was, well… just terrible. So watch the original, Charade. It’s by far superior.

If you have a favorite movie quote please share it on this blog, or else go forth and check out these ones. Well, that’s it for now. Thanks for reading.

R.J. Craddock

Friday, April 19, 2013

Dark Shadows – Movie Review

Some of you out there may not know this but Tim Burton's film "Dark Shadows" is based off of the popular daytime soap opera. With Vampires, Witches, Warlocks, Werewolves, and other supernatural creatures, it was the phenomenon that ran on ABC-TV from 1966-1971.

With two Dark Shadow films, multiple tries at re-vamping (pun intended) the series, a score of fans and even a Dark Shadows Festival, the show's legend has lived on in various forms. I, myself, am an old fan of the soap opera and watched the re-runs on the Sci-Fi Channel in junior high. When I heard that Tim Burton was remaking "Dark Shadows" with Johnny Depp as Barnabas Collins, I was out of my mind with ecstasy. Burton and Depp are the perfect pair to tackle this project, and I knew they would do it justice. I have to admit if I had millions of dollars I might have done a "Dark Shadows" movie myself.

The show started with Victoria Winters, the outsider who comes to Collinwood, to be the new governess. She soon finds out that the Collins family has more than just skeletons in its closet. In the soap opera Barnabas Collins wasn't introduced to the cast until nine months into the show, becoming the first Vampire with a conscious in pop-culture history. However, in Burton's film version the story begins with Barnabas Collin's mortal life before he was cursed by Angelique Bouchard (Eva Green)--his jilted Witch lover--and transformed into a Vampire and entombed for two centuries. We jump a head in time to 1972 with Governess Victoria Winters, played by Bella Heathcote, on her way to Collinsport Maine. When she arrives at the old gothic-style Collinwood mansion she meets the Collins played by an all-star cast.

Michelle Pfeiffer plays her employer, and head of the Collins family, Elizabeth Collins Stoddard. The family's live-in-shrink, Dr. Julia Hoffman, is played by the very talented and always awesome Helena Bonham-Carter. The brother, Roger Collins, a drunken widower and negligent father, is played by Jonny Lee Miller (who was once married to Angelina Jolie just so you know). The Collins children are played by Chloë Grace Moretz (also seen in "Kick-Ass" and "Hugo") and Gulliver McGrath (also seen in "Hugo" and "Lincoln"). The family has plenty of personality all their own, but things get even stranger at Collinwood when Barnabas Collins is accidently released from his coffin. He returns to his home to find that Collinsport has changed considerably.

His family's fishing company is all but extinct and his family manor in shambles. Luckily, he has a hidden stash of wealth in the mansion and goes about trying to reconnect with his family and return the family business to its former glory. Only problem is his wicked Witch of an old flame is still alive and owns the rival fishing company and pretty much owns the town. What ensues is a hilarious farce of dark magic, Vampires, and 1970's culture. There's even a part where Barnabas kills a bunch of hippies (awesome)! I loved this movie and laughed out loud all the way through. However, they never explain exactly how Angelique Bouchard managed to live two hundred years. The film likewise does not explain where the modern day Collins descendants came from. In the beginning of the film, they portray Barnabas Collins as an only child; his parents both killed by one of the Witches' curses before he became a Vampire. These two plot holes bugged me a little but not enough to take away from my enjoyment of the film. I would recommend this movie to anyone who likes Tim Burton, Jonny Depp, supernatural beings, and has a dark sense of humor. You don't have to be an original "Dark Shadows" groupie to love the movie, but it doesn't hurt.

Below is a link to the movie trailer and a dark shadows fan site for you to check out as well. Now go forth, children of the night, and view this flick. Love it or hate it, I'd love to hear what you thought of it.

Till next time,
R.J. Craddock

Monday, April 15, 2013

Favorite Movie Quotes - Comedy

So, I noticed the other day that my movie quoting turrets doesn’t seem to be carrying over into my blog. Apparently, I only suffer from this condition verbally. However, to make up for this oversight I have decided to do a series of my favorite movie quotes from different genres. Today’s genre is Comedy. The following will be the quotes and a brief description of the film and why I love these lines. These are in no particular order so let’s get to it shall we?

1)      “There’s a shortage of perfect breasts in this world, t’would be a pity to damage yours.”  - The Princess Bride
Released 1987, it stars Cary Elwes, Robin Wright (before she was married to Sean Penn) and Mandy Patinkin. It’s got fencing, fighting, giants, monsters, revenge, chases, escapes, true love, and Miracles. It’s a med-evil comedy not to be missed. Honestly, if you haven’t heard of this movie then you might have been living under a rock for the last thirty years.

2)      “We’ve got a piper down. I repeat, a piper is down!” – So I Married an Axe Murderer
It stars Mike Meyers, Nancy Travis, and Anthony LaPaglia, with Alan Arkin in the supporting role. This hilarious comedy/mystery came out in 1993. About a young poet with a phobia of marriage and a tendency to find strange flaws in all his girlfriends, who suddenly falls in love only to find out that his dream girl just might be a husband killing maniac!

3)      “I was in love once… she was Brazilian, or Chinese, or something weird.” – Anchorman
It’s a 1970’s period piece about a legendary anchorman suddenly having to share his spotlight with a female co-anchor. With an all-star cast including: Will Farrell, Christina Applegate, Paul Rudd, and Steve Carrell (along with many famous cameos). This film just might be one of the funniest and most quotable movies of all times.

4)      “It’s called a day spa! D-a-i-y-e… Daiye. – Zoolander
Released in 2001 starring Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, and Will Farrell. A ridiculously funny film about the hard life of a male model, and the pressures of being professionally really, really, ridiculously good looking. One of my favorite movies to quote.

5)      “He can’t forgive me and I can’t forgive him for that.” - Money Pit
A young couple desperately needs to find a new place after the girl’s ex-boyfriend returns from Europe, kicking them out of his apartment. They end up being conned into buying a beautiful disaster of a house and the story follows their renovation nightmare and the havoc it wrecks on their romance. Released in 1986; starring the very funny Tom Hanks and Shelly Long, in what is perhaps the best comic performance of either of their careers.

There’s my top five. Each of these films had multiple great quotes but these are the ones that come to my mind the most readily. Unfortunately, I had to leave a few of my other favorite comedies off this list, so I might end up doing a part two Favorite Movie Quotes - Comedy later on. Anyhow, there they are. I hope you enjoyed the quotes and share my excellent taste in comedy. Or, if you haven’t heard of or seen some or all of these flicks, perhaps you’ll go check them out after reading this. Now go forth and share the cinematic love.

R.J. Craddock

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Host - Movie Review

While out on a movie night with my mom I saw "The Host", a film based off of the novel by Stephanie Meyer. After reading the "Twilight" saga I was all Stephanie- Meyered-out, so when "The Host" came out I couldn't have cared less. However, seeing the film has changed my mind. Perhaps Meyer's talent lies with Science Fiction instead of YA Paranormal Romance.

The movie begins with a voice over of Uncle Jeb (William Hurt) telling how wonderful the world is now that the human race has been taken over by alien parasites. Yeah, sure the world finally has peace but it's no longer our world. The Seekers of this Alien Race seek out the last of the Human resistance. Amongst these last remaining few is Melanie Stryder, played by (Saoirse Ronan) of course; she gets nabbed by The Seekers at the very beginning of the film. In her attempt to get away from them she tries to kill herself. However, The Seekers just take her near-lifeless-body and heal it with their advanced alien medicine. Now her body can play Host to another alien soul, called Wanderer or Wanda for short. But unlike other humans who give in to the invading souls and lose control of their bodies, Melanie refuses to give in and fights Wanda for control of herself. Especially, when Wanda is asked by The Seeker (Diane Kruger) to access Melanie's memories and finds the rest of the human resistance. Melanie will do anything to protect her boyfriend Jared Howe (Max Irons) and her little brother Jamie (Chandler Canterbury). Melanie plays on Wanda's sympathy and convinces her to help her protect the ones she loves.

Wanda escapes The Seekers at Melanie's directions and goes in search of Melanie's uncle Jeb, the one place she knows Jared and Jamie would go to be safe. What proceeds is an emotional journey for both alien and host. Wanda learns to care for humans and their spirits and Melanie learns to Love Wanda. I can't tell you how the rest of the movie goes, of course, but it is an interesting tale of survival and the human spirit. Also, this story has the classic YA love triangle but with a twist. Melanie still loves Jared who she met while she was on the run. On the other hand Wanda begins to have feelings for Ian O'Shea, (Jake Abel) one of the humans living in the cave-like refuge on Uncle Jeb's property in the desert. This is a conflict since Melanie won't let Wanda do anything about her feelings, but also can't stand to let Jared kiss her because he's also kissing Wanda. Confused yet?

Overall I was pleasantly surprised by this movie. I enjoyed all the casts' performances, even Saoirse Ronan whom I'm not particularly a fan. However, she felt like a good fit for this role of dual personages trapped in one body. I loved the location of the Human's cave hideout, not a bad place to live in a time of peace let alone during a global takeover. The ending was a little corny but not so much as to turn me off. Anyway, they kind of leave it open at the end for a sequel. I didn't know the book was part of a series but now that I do, I might end up reading this one after all. I'm still not a Stephanie Meyer enthusiast, and I'm most definitely not a Twihard (someone who is a die-hard "Twilight" fan). Still, I found this storyline far more to my liking than the melodrama that is "Twilight".

I'd give this film a three and a half star rating. Below you'll find "The Host" trailer and the cover art from the book. Now go forth and read the book or go see the film if you're interested. I thought it was fun. You might, too.

R.J. Craddock

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Introducing Raven

With the release of my book “The Forsaken” on the horizon, I'd like to take a moment to introduce you all to one of my characters: Raven, aka Adam Matthews. Although the series centers on Gwenevere, Raven does play a significant part in the books. Found lost and wandering in the woods Gwenevere is put into St. Paul's Catholic Orphanage.There she meets a kindred spirit, Adam, who she promptly renames Raven. Both misunderstood they bond together and find out that they are not like the other children; there is something supernatural about them. When Gwen finds she can no longer stay at St. Paul’s, Raven embarks on a journey with her to find their kind. A lot of this story was inspired from my own childhood. I am not an orphan and did not grow up in a place like St. Paul's. However, I, too, was misunderstood and was befriended by a boy; his name was Jonathan. In a lot of ways Raven was based off of him and our friendship. Below is an excerpt from “The Forsaken” featuring Raven just to give you a taste of his character and my writing style. I hope you enjoy the read.
“What’s going on, Raven?” Gwen asks, perplexed. Then, a stream of images invades her mind as she senses the thoughts and feelings of the driver. The things he’s thinking of Raven appall her. Apparently, the man thinks her best friend--the nicest, kindest boy in the world--is some kind of child molester. Gwen is just about to try and calm the driver down when she notices something strange happening with Raven.
            “We’re not going back there!” Raven shouts. The twelve year old boy shakes all over, almost as if he’s having a seizure. His muscles are tensed; he seems to be fighting his own body for control. Gwen gasps in horror as Raven’s features began to change, his very form mutating before her eyes.
            Hair begins to sprout out of his flesh as if by magic, covering him in a black-silvery fur. His fingernails grow, his hands becoming like massive claws. His golden eyes become animal-like as his nose and mouth becomes a muzzle, his ears becoming pointed and furry. All the while, Raven screams in agony, as every bone in his body seems to realign itself, disjointing from its natural human form into that of a ferocious animal. Behind the wall of his pain, he is vaguely aware of Gwen’s little voice screaming his name, her little hands tugging at his left arm, even as it distorts and reshapes itself. He can’t comprehend anything else happening around him, the excruciating pain swallowing him whole into a cocoon of thoughts, feelings, and emotions that are not his own. He feels the feral animal instinct taking over his will. Raven’s human consciousness is being suppressed by the animal’s need to hunt.
            Gwen tries in vain to get Raven to respond to her, to look at her. However, he has transformed almost completely, to the point that he no longer resembles a boy, but a wolf of some kind. All her attention is focused on trying to touch Raven’s mind, completely forgetting about the man driving the truck.
            She catches a sudden gleam of metal in her peripheral vision and turns barely in time to see Rex--whose face is distorted in panic and fear--pull out a handgun and aim it at Raven. With a speed that even surprises her, Gwen grabs Rex’s hand and yanks the weapon upward, the gun going off suddenly, shooting a hole in the roof of the truck.
            Rex gives out a yell of surprise, the truck swerving all over the road. He tries to regain control of the wheel with his left hand as he struggles with Gwen for the gun with his right. Suddenly, the truck veers off the road into the forest, jostling the vehicle as it goes over dirt and rock. Gwen lurches forward, and Rex hits the windshield with a loud crack when the truck rams straight into a tree, causing the vehicle to come to an abrupt stop.
            Gwen rocks backward and hits her head on the back wall of the cab, her vision blurs and the world begins to spin around her. Gwen tries to regain control of her senses when she hears a low growling sound from Raven. She pears over the seat and sees a large, silver and black wolf sitting in the passenger seat; a cold, gold-eyed stare directed at Rex. The man, barely recovering from the impact of the crash, turns and looks disbelieving at the animal only two feet away from him. The black wolf bares his teeth at Rex, his growl intensifying. In a panic, Rex, with a hand to his bleeding forehead, opens the driver side door and stumbles out into the forest, desperately trying to flee from the creature. No sooner does Rex escape then the wolf pounces, leaping out of the truck through the open door and into the night after his prey.

Well, there you have it. Coming soon more tidbits and insights into the book “The Forsaken” coming out in May 2013. If it peeked your curiosity, go forth and share, comment, and like on Facebook and Twitter.

R.J. Craddock

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Win a Free Copy of my book "The Forsaken!" - Contest Blog

I promised to announce the details of the contest for the free copy of my book "The Forsaken" so here it is. There are two contests:

Contest #1 (Facebook) - Starting today, April 3rd, until May 1st the person who comments/shares/likes my R.J. Craddock Author Fan page, and my posts from that page, the most wins a book! (easy enough, right?) Remember, my blog is updated every Monday and Friday.

Contest #2 (www.rjcraddock.com) - Again starting today, April 3rd, until May 1st the person who refers the most people to join my website gets a free book. To do that you have to be a member yourself. Subscribe and then the site will give you the option to invite your friends to join. When you do this, add a personal message. Make sure to let them know that they need to make a comment on my contest blog on the website and add the name of the person who referred them. That's how you'll get credit. On May 2nd I'll announce the winners! Good luck, everyone!

Now as far as the book's actual release date, we're looking at May 1st. I'll have my offical book launch party a week or two after that. I'll make sure to annouce that as well. Keep an eye out for the "The Forsaken" trailer coming by the end of the month. 

Again, if you're entering the Website Contest, your referrals have to post your name in the comments of the contest blog at www.rjcraddock.com. Make sure to tell them that, or you won't get credit for them! Thanks all for entering the contest. Happy sharing and such. 

Now go forth and promote my book for me, and win a free book while you're at it!

R.J. Craddock

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare - Book Review

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare - Book Review
A couple of years ago when I first began writing my book "The Forsaken" I was trying to explain the concept of my story to my sister--a former librarian and ex-Border's employee (so she's a book fanatic like me)--and she said it reminded her of these books about The Shadow Hunters. She couldn't remember what they were called, and I had no idea what she was talking about. Anyway, a year later I was at a Christmas party for my local chapter of The League of Utah Writers and I won a copy of "The Mortal Instruments, Book One: City of Bones" in a raffle. I was excited because I'd seen the cover at the bookstore and thought, "Ooohh! Nice Cover. I think I want to read that book." So, getting it for free was great. However, I was in the middle of three other series at the time and just put it on my bookshelf, saving it for another time; where it stayed untouched for two years. Then recently as I was designing the book cover for "The Forsaken", I was looking at some of my favorite books and came across "City of Bones." I decided to finally read it.

Now, I don't usually read much Young Adult novels because of three main factors: first, the story telling is watered-down for a younger audience, leaving it with very little atmosphere or description. Second, the conceptions of the stories (in Urban Fantasy and regular Fantasy at least) feel under developed because a younger audience apparently can't handle complex world building. Third, the characters and dialogue seem unrealistic because they exclude the natural sexuality of teenagers so it can be a YA book. I don't know about you, but I was a very hormonal, boy-crazy teenager, even though I was good girl. But nonetheless, those kinds of thoughts and feelings are natural at that age. However, I understand not wanting to include sex in these books, but all too often YA books seem to ignore sexuality all together which, to me, makes the characters seem unrealistic.

However, never fear Cassandra Clare has none of these issues in her book "City of Bones." As far as storytelling and description, Cassandra is awesome. I was not bored in the least; she gave great details at pivotal moments which really enhanced the mood of the book. The world building/concept of this series is amazing for a YA book, for any book really. "City of Bones" is rich in detail and unique mythology built off of biblical references and old legends. It's pure genius. Honestly, I was pleasantly surprised at how three dimensional her characters were, and appreciated the realistic sexual tension between them, while still maintaining a PG-13 vibe. The dialogue was great, giving each character their own individuality without seeming written or cliché. It even made me laugh out loud a few times.

Finally, someone has written a teenage heroine that doesn't annoy me! I love Clary Fray. She's got wit, sarcasms (one of my favorite things) personality and spunk. Like many books do, "City of Bones." has its own love triangle--well, it's really a love octagon--but unlike other YA books, I actually felt like this one made sense. I can totally understand why two guys would fight over Clary, she's irresistible. Also, I can see why she would be torn between her two male leads. She has the good boy next door in Simon, but he's got more to him than that with his own sarcasm and wit and an endearing sense of loyalty that every best friend should have. On the other hand we've got the bad boy, Jace who isn't just a stereo-type but has real depth and vulnerability, taking the edge off his cold, arrogant exterior making you want to know him better. Not to mention he's sexy as can be and the chemistry between him and Clary is electric and believable.

I have to admit that it took me until chapter five to really get into this book. Not because the story telling wasn't good, it was. Nowadays books are faster paced, like movies, where you start off the book with a life changing event. (inciting incident) The thing I've always preferred about books is that you can take your time to get to know a character, establish their background and hang on tight as their lives become a roller coaster ride. However, once I got to know the characters, I was hooked and stayed riveted until the very end. I have to hand it to the author for her subtle foreshadowing that gave hints of the outcome of the book yet left me completely unprepared for the twist at the end (you will be, too). All too often the ending of a book is less surprising and more predictable. Although I was a little mad about the ending, eventually I broke down and bought the next book because I was too invested in the characters not to read on. Overall I give this book a 5 star rating. The Mortal Instruments is my new favorite series from my new favorite author.

"The Mortal Interments: City of Bones" movie comes out in August 2013. I can't wait to see it. Below I included a music video of the song that I think should be Jace's theme song, or at least what Clary thinks of him. I can totally hear this song over the end credits of the movie. Also, I included the movie trailer itself. I hope you enjoy both the videos and go out and pick up this book. You will not be disappointed.

R.J. Craddock

Jace Wayland bad boy theme music:

City of Bones Trailer:

Monday, April 1, 2013

How “The Forsaken” Came to Be.

Over the years I've had a lot of concepts for books and screenplays. None has ever taken hold of me and pretty much taken over my life, the way The Children of Cain series has. Where did my inspiration come from? Well, a lot of places really. It came from a lifetime of reading Fantasy and Folklore. It came from reading bad books, that, to my amazement, were bestsellers and thinking, “I know I can write something better than this.” It came from countless hours at tedious jobs that require none of my intellect, that, were it not for letting my imagination run wild, I might have fallen asleep on my feet. Also, I think the idea was germinating in my psyche for quite a while, just waiting for the right moment to blossom into something significant.

Once it did blossom I was filled with utter amazement. I knew right then that this was it, the story I had been waiting all my life to be inspired to write. Suddenly, the woman who could start a million things but rarely ever finish anything was writing nonstop, determined to actually finish a novel--even if it killed her (sometimes I felt like it just might). Finally, after a year or so, the first draft was complete. I know a year is a long time, but my kids never slept and never left me alone, so finding the time to write proved difficult. Next, I had to embark on the phase of writing that every author loves; editing and re-writing. This took another tedious year, during which I started querying publishers and agents. They say you’re not a real author until you've gotten that first rejection letter. Others say that you can get as many as a hundred rejections (or more) before you finally get a publishing contract. So, when I got my first rejection I just thought, “Okay, that’s one down, ninety-nine rejections to go!”  Eventually I did get a publishing offer. However, the company’s reputation wasn't solid. Since I was afraid to sign a contract for five years and end up disappointed and stuck in a bad situation, I declined the offer.

At this point I decided to take matters into my own hands. Over the past four years I’ve taken some necessary steps: I joined The League of Utah Writers, I went to a few Writers’ Conferences, and spent endless hours researching the publishing industry. One thing became apparent; it’s extremely difficult to make a decent living as a writer. It’s sad but true. The average novel can be anywhere from three hundred to one thousand pages. Typically a novel can take three months to a year to write, then, another 6 months to a year of re-writes, edits, and proof reads before it’s considered a polished “publish-ready” book. Get picked up by a big publishing house and you’ll get a signing bonus. Finally, after all that time, you’re now getting paid for your work. However, the publisher has to recoup your signing bonus from the profits of your book once released before you’ll see a cent of your royalties. Depending on how well your book sells--and how large your bonus was--this might take a while. Writers also don’t get much say in the cover art or look of their book. Did I mention that the average royalties an author gets of each book sold is a paltry twenty percent? This is why most authors do not become millionaires.

So, what then? What was I to do? Writing had always been my dream job. I had finished my first novel and was almost done with my second. I couldn't just give it up. This series now had a life of its own and would not be stopped. So I decided to self-publish. Now I know in the past there has been a lot of a negative connotation associated with self-publishing. That’s not so much the case nowadays thanks to the digital age. You can pay a vanity press to publish your work, but you end up paying big bucks to do it. It’ll look the same as a traditionally published book only you’re the investor; it’s your money on the line. Or, you can do what I’m doing, and publish through a company like Amazon. They have a print on demand program set up through Creatspace. Again you can pay their professional team to do all the work and sell it online, or you can do it all yourself. You can higher freelancers to do everything from editing, cover art, and formatting for a lot cheaper than what a vanity press will charge and get the same results. You don’t have to pay to have an inventory of books to sell; they print your book as their sold on the site! Also, you keep 80% of the royalties! I’m not kidding. When I really looked into the whole process it became clear that this was the way to go. I was able to hire an editor and proofreader to polish my book. Since I studied Art and have some Graphic Design training I got to design my own cover and all the interior illustrations; something I've always wanted to do. Thanks to tablets like Kindle, Nook, and the eBook revolution, bookstores are going the way of the video stores… extinct. Most of the reading populace today buys their books online, both print books and eBooks alike. So, being available in the bookstores isn't as big a deal anymore, however, if you’re book is in demand bookstores can order it in bulk at a discount from Amazon and Barnes n’ Noble online. So as I see it, it’s a win/win. Instead of spending all my money on publishing the book, I’m simply investing in advertising, marketing, and publicity.

Sure my book might flop, or it might be a huge success, either way I’m getting to do what I love! And if I make some money doing it, great! But ultimately, I’m an artist at heart. I write because it is in my soul and I can’t imagine spending the rest of my life not writing, not creating. I do it for me. If I should procure a following then I’ll get the chance to share my passion with others. Whether it is one person, or hundreds of thousands of people, it is a blessing and privilege just to be writing.

Now enough about me… go forth and live your wonderful lives, but, remember, in May the next great American novel is coming out and you don’t want to miss it!  ;)

R.J. Craddock