10212017 (General updates–plus a new book announcement!)

Since it’s been so long since I last updated, this is going to be a kind of long, rambl-y post…with lots of pictures :). I’ll do my best to keep it organized in some fashion, though.

Where to start?

The summer went by so fast!

Back in July Steve and I saw Matthew Sweet live. This was a dream come true for me and I sort of blubbered all through the show.

I know, how embarrassing :X.

I hadn’t expected to get that emotional but sheesh…so many of his songs just mean so much to me! Hearing them played live made me think about the past, and what a lonely and depressed teenager I was back then. It’s not an understatement to say music was one of the things that got me through those rough years, and some of Matthew Sweet’s albums in particular, helped me so much. So, yeah. That show was an a-m-a-z-i-n-g experience for me. I just wish the audience had been livelier. They just sat there–while I wanted to go nuts, lol :).

Matthew Sweet marquee

I also got to see Guns N Roses live again in September, in San Antonio. They put on a really great show, of course, and it was doubly wonderful because Steve and I were able to catch up with some old friends before the concert, too! Later in the month we saw The Descendents, one of Steve’s favorite bands, which was also a lot of fun.

In August, we continued with our 6pack 5K Beer Challenge and completed the course at the Southern Star Brewing Company in Conroe. This race benefited Toys for Tots. It was super fun, as all of these races have been. The breakfast tacos afterward were dee-licious, too!

Toward the end of August, Hurricane Harvey hit and everything went haywire. Or at least, that is what it sort of felt like down here in Houston! I’m thankful (very, very thankful) our home did not flood. We were without power for a couple of days, but that was it.

scrabble board

We played Scrabble by candlelight :).

It was heartbreaking to see so much damage all around us, though.

We have made some donations to relief charities and Steve and I will be raising money for the Houston Food Bank when we run the Aramco Houston Half Marathon for the tenth time this year. This is an organization that we have donated to and volunteered with many times in the past, and I think they are great. Here are some stats about their recovery efforts, from an email they sent me. (And if you’d like to read more about them and their ongoing work, please click here to go to their website!)

Houston is my home, it has a big piece of my heart, and I hope we can do at least a little something to help out around here.

karbach happy hour for hunger

A Rodeo Clown IPA from Karbach Brewing Co.’s “Happy Hour for Hunger” back in September — another fun event, and for a good cause!

At the same time, I know we are far from the only area to be devastated in one way or another, lately :(. There have been hurricanes, earthquakes, wildfires, and that terrible shooting in Las Vegas, just to name a few.

I know bad things happen all the time but it really feels as though 2017 has been an especially tough year for a lot of people.

I’m not one to blog very much, either here or on social media, in general and honestly, lately it has been even harder for me to get motivated to do so. In the face of so much tragedy, what do you even say? Particularly when you are someone who spends a lot of her time writing (ostensibly) funny stuff. You can begin to question what you do, whether it is important at all, or a worthwhile contribution to the world. I think about this a lot anyway, but lately it has really been on my mind.

BUT…a couple weeks ago, Steve and I saw horror-comedy director Adam Green speak before a screening of Victor Crowley and he talked about this very topic. He said (and I’m totally paraphrasing here) that, in a way, it’s more important than ever to share a laugh together after something bad happens, because it reminds us that life isn’t all one thing.

There’s good and there’s bad, and getting our minds off the bad, even if it’s only for a short while, can be really helpful sometimes.

I think that makes sense. I know it’s true for me. A few years ago I had some health problems and was having to go to the doctor a lot, while they tried to determine what was wrong with me (it ended up being nothing too bad, thankfully). I was reading Meg Cabot’s Abandon series at the time and I remember being so grateful for the distraction. Her funny, happy books almost always put me in a good mood! I would love it if anything I wrote or did was ever able to lift someone’s spirits in a similar manner, even temporarily. That’s part of why I do what I do, to entertain and encourage, and it’s extremely humbling and fulfilling for me when someone does seem to get something worthwhile out of my work :).

So, um, I guess I’ll keep doing it. Particularly since I can’t seem to stop, anyway.

All of which leads me to…book news!

The Goodreads giveaway for The Real You ended on September 10th. There were almost 1500 entries all told, which is awesome! All of the books have long been packaged up and sent out, I just hadn’t gotten around to writing about it yet (big surprise). Thanks to everyone who entered! I had such a blast with this, I may just have to do another one again sometime soon ;).

And last but not least…I’ve written another thing.

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Adorable cover by Steve, once again :).

This is a short novella, about 33,000 words (130 pages) in length, and I hope to have it out soon. Very soon.

As in very, very soon.

You know, seeing as how it is set at Halloween and all..! 🙂

This story (which I’m so far referring to as a “Bonus Holiday Special”) takes place about 2+ years after the end of The Real You. It features Rourke, Dallas, and a bunch of other characters from The Real You, as well as Fear and Laundry and Fear and Laundry 2. I have no idea if anyone will be interested in reading this (and, really, that is true of everything I’ve ever written in my life), but I wrote it anyway because:

  • A) I like Rourke and Dallas, they wouldn’t leave my mind, and I wanted to write a little more about them.
  • B) I enjoy writing about holidays, and since Halloween is my favorite, I wanted to write a story set then.
  • C) And yeah, I wanted to put the characters in funny costumes and send them off to a haunted house :D. Why not, I ask you?

I hope at least some of y’all will check it out and get a kick out of it. I’ll post the release date as soon as I know what it is. (Edit: As of October 28th, 2017, A Very Merry Carreen Halloween is now available in the Amazon Kindle store :)).

‘Til then…thank you for reading this and take care, y’all!

With love and gratitude,

XOXO,

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October, 2016 horror movie round-up

I’m a little later than usual with this, but here it is:  the annual list of top ten horror movies S and I watched together during the month of October. Thankfully, we had better luck picking good movies this year than last!

10) Ouija: Origin of Evil

ouija-origin-of-evil

I thought there was a lot to like in this sequel to Ouija, particularly Lulu Wilson’s impressive performance as nine-year-old Doris Zander. All of the acting was pretty good, actually. I like Henry Thomas a lot, but that’s admittedly mainly because I saw him at a convention once and he seemed super nice and down-to-earth.

So anyway, even though parts of this movie were a bit confusing, there were enough cool elements to make me like it overall. For example, the Ouija board moving by itself…sorry, but that is just creepy. And the mystery surrounding what once went on in the Zanders’ basement…Ugh! This would probably be a good one to watch at a slumber party.

9) Hush

This is about a deaf writer who is terrorized in her home by a masked maniac — and who decides to fight back for all she’s worth.

The MC’s deafness brings a unique twist to a familiar set-up, and the story definitely kept my interest the whole way through. My only complaint about the movie is how dark it was. I mean that literally:  the villain cuts the power early on in the story, and the rest of the film plays out in deep shadow. This made it hard to follow the action at times. We turned out the lights and fiddled with the brightness on the TV, but it didn’t really help. Still a good movie, though.

8) The Boy

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After watching the trailer for this, I was so excited to see it! I guess I was hooked by the promise of a good creepy house/creepy doll story.

Well, in the end it wasn’t as great as I’d hoped, but I did enjoy it. I thought the setting was atmospheric and well done. The story was interesting, but it left me with questions and I’m still not sure how I feel about the ending. I won’t spoil it but suffice it to say it, um…didn’t go where I thought it would. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, particularly since I’m not sure if what I’d anticipated would have worked any better. Basically, I’m just not sure what I wanted from this movie, which is not the filmmakers’ fault. Ha.

7) The Conjuring 2

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For the most part, I liked the first Conjuring movie. This was better, though.

Even though the real case it’s based on seems to have been pretty thoroughly debunked, it still makes for an interesting premise for a horror movie. There were a lot of creepy moments.

My favorite element of the film, though, was the relationship between Lorraine and Ed Warren. It seems to happen so rarely that I’m always thrilled when married couples are portrayed in popular media as actually being in love and, you know, happy together. This couple even work together! Okay, they work together investigating demon possessions and whatnot, but still. They are cute.

I actually think the Warrens’ cases would make for a good TV show. Kinda like the X-Files (my favorite show of all time) but possibly even better, because the two leads would be allowed to smooch and stuff :). I don’t watch TV, but I’d be tempted to watch something like that, if someone made it.

6) Jaws

I saw Jaws as a kid and remember being terrified by it. Then I rented it as an adult and was bored stiff. I was so bored, in fact, that I didn’t even finish watching it! So I was kind of dreading watching it a third time. But this time I didn’t think it was boring at all. I actually thought it was really, really good. And I was surprised by just how gory and scary a lot of it was. Audiences in the seventies must have been freaking out when this was first released. I can see why it was such a big hit.

5) Jessabelle

I loved how straightforward this was. Maybe I’m just getting old and jaded, but I’m pretty tired of every movie trying to have a big twist to it, and/or an ambiguous ending. I know it works sometimes (trust me, I like a confusing, ambiguous movie as much as the next person), but…I’ve gotten to the point where I appreciate it so much when a movie just straight up tells me a good story without feeling as though it’s relying too heavily on gimmicks. This one had a good story. I thoroughly enjoyed watching it.

4) The Hallow

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Ditto this one. Another good, solid story, featuring real monsters. “Real” in the sense that they were actual elements in the story, not just figments (or potential figments) of people’s imaginations. Monsters are a plus in my book.

3) It Follows

it-follows

I’d heard a lot about this one, both good and bad. Overall, I liked it. It kept my interest throughout, and made me wonder just what the heck was going on. There were some genuinely creepy moments, and I’m not going to lie:  when I woke up in the middle of the night after watching it, I momentarily worried I might encounter a scary naked person on my way to the bathroom :(. (Luckily I did not.)

2) Phantasm: Ravager

Okay, I’ll confess, I love me some Phantasm. So I’m a little biased on this one.

I’ve been waiting for this fifth installment in the series for what feels like forever and even though it ultimately didn’t make much sense, I still liked it. Cause hello…it’s Phantasm. And at this point, why would I expect the franchise to suddenly start making sense? It never has before. Which is part of what makes it so awesome. (Told you I don’t mind being confused).

1) The Witch

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I debated whether or not to include this one because it isn’t new to me (I’d seen it before, when it first came out). But I couldn’t think of anything else that deserved the number one spot on the list. I think this is a really great horror movie. It was especially cool that this time around, we saw it at an outdoor screening. The host had mentioned having a live black goat in attendance, which I was excited about, but it ultimately didn’t happen. Oh, well. Still a fun night. Now S tells me the director, Robert Eggers, is re-making Nosferatu. That is exciting to me, too. Possibly moreso than getting to see a live goat.

 


Now for the “honorable mentions.” These movies didn’t make the list, only because I had seen them before, but they are all really good:

Return of the Living Dead

Repo! The Genetic Opera

Jennifer’s Body

I also want to give a little shout out to Unfriended because I thought the way the story was told was really interesting. I don’t know that I’ll ever watch it again, but I can respect what the filmmakers did with their premise (a group of friends begin receiving messages online from a dead schoolmate). And it was good that they kept it so short, since I don’t know that the gimmick would have worked in a much longer movie.

Hellions was another movie I liked a lot, but there wasn’t enough room for it on the list. Watching this gave me a claustrophobic feeling, like I was stuck in someone’s nightmare. And that little kid’s voice constantly asking, “Dora? Can you hear me?” Yikes.

Okay, that’s it. The full list of movies we watched can be found on my husband’s blog. All links in this post are his. Happy Halloween (almost a month late)!

-Elizabeth

October, 2015 horror movie round-up

Last year I wrote up a top ten list of the best horror movies S and I watched during our annual horror movie challenge. I’d planned to do that again this year but…unfortunately, this time around we didn’t watch too many that I enjoyed very much :(.

There were a few highlights, though:

8) The Butterfly Room

This story was pretty different and interesting, but I think what made watching it especially fun was seeing so many horror icons together in one movie:  Barbara Steele, Heather Langenkamp, P.J. Soles, Adrienne King, Ray Wise, etc.

7) Someone’s Watching Me!

This was made for TV (and is perhaps more of a thriller than a horror movie), but it’s interesting and worth a watch, particularly if you’re a John Carpenter fan; this is one of his earliest films.

6) Dolly Dearest

I remember always seeing the box art for this movie at the video store, but I’d never actually seen the film itself. It’s basically a Child’s Play rip-off, but it was entertaining (a lot more so than some of the other stuff we watched during the month) and I really appreciated that. Plus, it has Lt. Yar from “Star Trek TNG” in it!

5) Tusk

Kevin Smith’s body-horror movie about a man with a dark secret involving a walrus. The story line was pretty twisted, but I enjoyed all the humor in it.

4) Exists

A found-footage movie about Bigfoot! Made near where I live! I was really excited to see this, as I have really enjoyed every movie by Eduardo Sanchez that I’ve ever seen. It didn’t disappoint. And Sanchez may officially now be one of my favorite directors.

3) Crimson Peak

I have a thing for haunted house/ghost stories (even though they are all pretty similar) and this is probably one of the best I’ve seen. The visuals are just gorgeous. Plus, I was sick as a dog (not contagious) when we went to see it and it took my mind off my misery for a while. I was truly grateful!

2) We Are Still Here

“In the cold, wintry fields of New England, a lonely old house wakes up every thirty years – and demands a sacrifice.” Another haunted house movie. Stylistically, this reminded me a bit of House of the Devil, another movie I liked a lot. This was just straight-up old-fashioned horror (with great, gory makeup effects) and I enjoyed the heck out of it.

1) Last Shift

This was the second-to-last movie we watched during the month and by this point, I was pretty tired and losing hope. But this perked me up again. It is the story of a rookie cop covering the last shift in an empty police station (i.e. having the worst night at work EVER) and it is genuinely creepy in many places.

Last but not least…we also always try to include at least a few perennial favorites in the mix, too, to ensure that we see at least some stuff we know we’ll like. This year we re-watched: Re-Animator, Suspiria, The Amityville Horror, and Ghostbusters. And they were all still awesome :).

Hope you enjoyed your Halloween!

Elizabeth

The Top Ten Best Horror Movies I Watched in October 2014

Every October, S and I watch a different horror movie every night of the month. Afterward, he posts cool art and trailers from each film over on his blog. All the links in this post are his.

I think this October Movie Month was one of our most enjoyable yet! We had a really good “mix” of titles to choose from — some older, some newer, some stuff we’d never seen before, and a few favorites. Plus we sampled from a variety of sub-genres, which is always cool. I decided to list the ones I liked most, so I won’t forget them. Here’s my top ten countdown.

10) Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones

Fun. And I kind of want that “Fueled by Frijoles” t-shirt.

9) Slither

I’d seen this before but it was still fun and hilarious and great the second time around. “Baby, what happened to your face?” “It’s just a bee sting.”

8) Night of the Creeps

Somehow, I’d never seen this before! Great, especially when watched back to back with Slither, for a fun nasty-slugs-from-space double feature.

7) Jug Face

This is one of those movies I know I’ll never forget. I found it to be unique and more disturbing than scary — although not quite disturbing enough to make my list of Movies I Wish I Could Unsee (post coming soon).

6) We Are What We Are (2013)

Wacky religious cannibals! I have not yet seen the Spanish film this is based on, but now I’m intrigued.

5) The Returned

I’ve been pretty sick of zombies for many years now, so I really appreciated this movie’s different take on them! It’ll make you think.

4) Eyes Without A Face

This film is from 1960 and is in black and white. It’s also in French and has subtitles. I had never even heard of this classic until recently. I really loved some of the imagery, though — weird and grotesque and beautiful all at the same time. And the surgery scene was more graphic than I’d anticipated, considering how old the movie is.

3) Nurse

Just campy, gory fun. Reminded me of something I would’ve watched back when I was younger and living with my roommates. For some reason me and the girls always got a big kick out of watching crazy “erotic thrillers” like this. Although maybe I shouldn’t admit that-?

2) Only Lovers Left Alive

I can’t quite put my finger on what I liked so much about this movie, but I really, really loved it. It was different for a vampire film.

1) Maniac (2012)

Hands down my favorite movie of the month! I love art films and I love horror films and this is an almost perfect blend of each. I’d worried the “shot-from-the-killer’s-POV” device would get annoying but it never did. And instead of overshadowing the story, I think it really enhanced it. The movie winds up being artsy but still sick and gory and seedy the way a slasher film oughtta be. Awesome.

On Halloween night, we also watched The Devil’s Rejects (my pick) and Phantasm (S’s pick). I didn’t include those on the list, though, because they’re both sort of perennial favorites of mine and therefore go without saying…I know a lot of people dislike TDR, and I can see how it’s not for everybody, but IMO it’s a horror masterpiece. I love Rob Zombie!!

PS — Here’s how my Halloween pizza turned out last week:

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He was almost too cute to eat! But eat him we did :).

Have a great weekend!

Elizabeth