On Inkshares Horror Novel

Have you guys heard about this? I recently heard about a crowdfunding site called Inkshares. It’s basically Kickstarter or Indiegogo crossbred with Createspace or Lulu. It looks like a site where you can crowdfund a novel that will have an ebook and physical presence in bookstores. Unlike Kikstarter or Indiegogo where you give them thousands of dollars and then the writer keeps a percentage and has to then hire editors and distributors, Inkshares does all of that. So if a project is successfully funded at Inshares, it includes a professional manuscript editor and distributor.

I had no idea how any of this works, so I figured I’d dive in and take a look see with my current manuscript. I’m working on a 90 thousand word novel about three strangers entering the witness protection program when they accidentally thwart a serial killer. They’re relocated to a new state, but their new home brings them into contact with horrors beyond imagination.

You can find the Inkshares page, along with fun FAQs and whatnot, and back this project here are: https://www.inkshares.com/projects/horror-novel

Thanks so much for your support!

This is Elliot Arthur Cross eternally grateful for your support. For any questions about the project, please email me at elliotarthurcross@gmail.com. Thank you and happy reading.

On Camp Carnage reviews

Camp Carnage front coverHey all. It’s been a busy summer. Thought I’d share some book reviews for the recently released Camp Carnage.  Here are some selections. For full reviews, click on the bloggers’ links.

Boys, Bears, and Scares: 5 stars

“Imagine an 80s summer camp slasher movie that features gay kids getting massacred, and you’ve got the novel Camp Carnage by Elliot Arthur Cross and Joshua Winning. Set in 1986 (complete with 80s pop culture references), this page-turning gay horror novel has basically re-imagined Friday the 13th—at a conversion camp!”

Wall-to-Wall Books: 5 stars

“If you are not afraid of a little blood and guts – mua ha ha ha! I dare you to read this! It was a surprise for me right up to the end, I did not have it figured out. Great job Elliot and Josh! Two thumbs up!”

Genuine Jen: 5 stars

“This book jumps right into the action in the first chapter. It reminded me of an 80’s/early 90’s horror flick, like Jason. It was a little different with the kids going to a “gay” camp to be “cured”. One by one campers start to disappear and then they are found dead. It was scary, not too gruesome but definitely had me on the edge of my seat.”

For more, check out Camp Carnage at Goodreads or Amazon.

On Mr. Jones review

I caught this found footage horror flick on Netflix. I was a teen when Blair Witch hit, and I loved it. There have been imitators and cheap-rip offs since then. And btw, Blair Witch was not the first horror mockumentary, but it was the earliest smash success in the sub genre. Mr. Jones follows a couple of artists (he’s a filmmaker, she’s a photographer) who move to a remote cabin the woods for a year to work on their relationship and make a nature documentary. After a few weeks, they discover their only neighbor is the elusive Mr. Jones, who’s been sending random strangers scarecrow figures since the 1970s. All Hell breaks loose.

Cons: What the Hell did I just watch? I’m all about finishing a movie and having enough ‘well it could mean this’ theories to discuss with fellow viewers, but it was far too abstract. This is the type of movie that you show to twelve people, and you’ll get twelve different explanations. I feel like the found footage angle wasn’t needed; this story could have been told in a standard narrative without losing much, and possibly gain a lot.

Pros: Natural cast that really sold it. Super strong opening, decent middle, and then weak ending. But that shouldn’t take away from the first 2/3’s. Unlike Blair Witch, then went backstory, backstory, backstory, random woods stuff, slow scares, this movie goes intro, scare, backstory, scare, backstory, scare, random shit. It feels refreshing, it feels reel, and it works more often than it doesn’t. So often, with ‘found footage’ movies, it’s hard to justify the shots, and here the in-universe filmmaker creates a camera that shoots in two directions at once to capture his documentary, which really pays off later in the film when they’re using the same camera to learn more about the elusive Mr. Jones.  Star Jon Foster is a hottie, and talented. There’s an early montage of ‘nature is beautiful, everything is wonderful, wait it’s been two weeks now I hate it all’ that is perfectly shot and acted, it immediately won me over.

Overall: There’s so much going for this movie in the first two acts that I’m so frustrated by the weak finale. Three out of five stars. Give it a watch with a friend, and then spend a half hour discussing your theories to what it all means.

This is Elliot Arthur Cross wishing you happy viewing.

On cancelled TV shows

Okay, here’s what really grinds my gears: TV studios cancel shows way too early. I’m not talking about ‘hey, they could have squeezed one more season of How I Met Your Mother or Lost out’ but I’m talking about ‘hey, the premiere episodes wasn’t record breaker so we’re cancelling it after two episodes.’

Fun fact: If Seinfeld premiered this year, it would have been cancelled midway through the first season. Why’s that? Because most shows need some time to breath, to come into their own, and to find an audience. Even the much beloved Star Trek: The Next Generation started rocky and didn’t hit its stride until season 2 or 3.

Let’s take a look at he cancelled shows that I was watching this year:

The Neighbors
Cheesey? Sure, but the cast was delightful. The show harkened back to the good ole times when sitcoms were about witches, monsters, or genies. I should consider it lucky we even got a second season, but ABC shoved it in the Friday Night death slot, which only few shows ever recover from.

Suburgatory
Another show that lasted enough to get me hooked on. At least it got Jane Levy enough exposure to star in the great Evil Dead remake/reboot/sequel/whatever it was.

Super Fun Night
A fat girl, her nerdy friend, and her lesbian friend star in awkward city misadventures? Count me there. But apparently I was the only one. One short season flew by, and I looked forward to watching more zany fun from the crew. Oh well.

Bad Teacher
Based on the movie of the same name, this series features a fantastic cast with great timing. This one had the potential of being a real super star, but CBS cancelled it after airing two episodes. Not cool.

Friends With Better Lives
Probably my favorite show on this list. Much hyped by CBS as the new Friends, they cancelled the show after three episodes. This was the biggest mistake on the list. James Van Der Beek, please find a vehicle that lasts. And Kevin Connolly, please continue to be hot well in your forties. Thank you.

Dads
I watched this one because hey why not? I liked the cast, but it was cringe worthy. Fox, this was a good decision. Well played, for once.

Enlisted
What do you do with a feel-good comedy about the military with a hot cast (I’m looking at you, Chris Lowell) and a quirky sense of humor? According to Fox, you throw it on at a random Friday Night Death Slot with little fanfare and air the episodes out of order. No surprise the show was cancelled after that treatment. The series should have been paired with Brooklyn 99 and found an audience. Poor move, Fox.

Raising Hope
Fox took the series, gave it a new showrunner and a new night, and only gave it one season. I guess we were lucky to have that one extra season. The show probably had run its course.

Surviving Jack
A victim of circumstances. American Idol’s been slipping, and the first season was shortened due to scheduling conflicts. This nostalgic look at the early 1990s couldn’t find the audience that The Goldbergs (similar style to the early 1980s) found.

Community
For a series that’s been on the bubble since the first season, I considered every year to be lucky (even the year of the gas leak). Of all the series on the list, this one is the only one with a chance of continuing on somewhere else (I’m looking at you, Netflix).

The Michael J. Fox Show
I was a fan, mostly because of the star. Give him a better vehicle and start over. I agree with this one.

Sean Saves the World
I actually really liked this one, and it definitely got better as the season progressed. The cast started to gel together and the writing improved. Of all the sitcoms cancelled, I think this one had the best shot of really growing into a lasting series. I’ve no doubt Sean Hayes will find something new, and I’m pleased Tom Lennon’s already in for the Odd Couple remake.

That about sums it up for me. Any of you agree/disagree? Did you love one of the other dozens of shows that got canned that I never watched? Let me know.

This is Elliot Arthur Cross wishing you better luck for your favorite series next season.

On Veronica Mars film review

I recently took a short road trip to the theaters to see the Veronica Mars movie. Here’s my history with the franchise: I never watched it when it aired, “girl teen detective” sounded really stupid to me, and eventually I let a friend lend me the three seasons on DVD. I loved them and devoured the series in 2 weeks. The kickstarter came up to fund the movie, so I helped out with a whopping dollar donation. Yep, I sure helped make it.

The film picks up years after the series ends, and embroils Veronica (the impeccable Kristen Bell) in another murder mystery back in her hometown of Neptune. You don’t need to have seen the series, but you should have if you want to get the references (season three optional).

Cons: The murder mystery part has always been the weakest point for me in the series. They usually don’t drop in any clues about the killer until Veronica figures it out. So it’s more of a ‘how will the detective find the killer’ than the audience playing ‘whodunit.’ I won’t spoil the solution, but I figured out the killer very quickly. Besides that, there’s the whole evil organization sub-plot that never gets resolved. It felt like set-up for a future movie (fingers crossed we get one). And I was bummed at some of the character deaths.

Pros: Humor, acting, script, direction. It’s a really fun movie with some big payoffs from the series. A movie continuation from a TV show could easily suck, but this was Veronica Mars at its very best. The series had great cameos from well established actors, and the movie continues that tradition (Jamie Lee Curtis, James Franco, Justin Long, etc.). The best part of season three was the introduction of Piz (played by Chris Lowell), and there’s lots of great Piz action here (I love Chris Lowell and his character, but why that horrible name?).

Overall: 4 out of 5 stars. Fun, witty adventure with high stakes and great characters.

This is Elliot Arthur Cross wishing you happy viewing.

On Stage Fright (2014) review

Stage Fright (which has nothing to do with the 1980s Italian horror film) recently came out on VOD. I’ve been looking forward to this one. And while I love musicals, horror movies, and Meat Loaf, I did not love this musical horror movie featuring Meat Loaf.

Plot: Minnie Driver appears as a Broadway star killed off in the first scene. Her agent is Meat Loaf, and she has twins (daughter Camilla and son Buddy). Fast forward 10 years, and Meat Loaf is poor and running a musical theater summer camp where his adopted children/slave laborers Camilla and Buddy work as cooks. The big show of the season is the Phantom of the Opera rip-off that Minnie Driver died in, and it seems as if the killer is returning to keep the show from performing.

Cons: The show centers around the Haunting of the Opera, an obvious Phantom of the Opera clone. Why not be original and come up with a new horror idea? Yes, Meat Loaf sings, but his talent is not utilized here. The man has been on Broadway, has performed in numerous movies and music videos, and I’ve seen him live. They could have written him better music. It seemed like characters were well thought out, but perhaps underdeveloped, which makes me wonder if there are a few scenes that were left on the cutting room floor for time and pacing issues.

Pros: Snappy script that left me chuckling a few times. Good acting. Fans of Todd and the Book of Pure Evil will recognize Hannah as the camp diva. Enough music that had me tapping along (but I could have used more). I only sort of figured out the killer (there was an additional twist I didn’t see coming, but fit). Decent set-up and well shot. Really, the movie felt like it bordered on greatness.

Overall: I so wanted to love this movie. There’s a lot going on for it. But for anyone who’s seen Project Runway, you know what I mean when I say it felt a tad safe. The envelope could have been pushed further, the script could have been sharper, etc. Still, I don’t wish for my time back and I could see the potential for rewatches. So I’ll go for 2.5 out of 4 stars. That seems fair.

This is Elliot Arthur Cross wishing you happy viewing.

On Saint Nick review

I feel like I’ve mentioned that I like horror movies, and foreign ones are fantastic. My favorite is probably Suspiria, but I’m always up for one. Thanks to Netflix, I caught Saint Nick, a Dutch Christmas themed horror originally titled Sint.

I love learning about other cultures, and part of the joy from this is seeing how the Dutch celebrate Saint Nicholas Day, which is apparently a European holiday around Santa Claus’ birthday, which is in the beginning of December. Through the movie, I learned that high school (I assume) students give gifts to each other in class after reading funny cards, and many of the gifts are sex toys. And instead of elves, Santa has black people. I guess that’s not racist. So apparently the Dutch dress up like Santa on Saint Nicholas Day, but other people put on old timey black face as Black Peter (yep, that part’s definitely racist) and they give gifts on December 5th or 6th. The plot of this movie is every time there’s a full moon on Saint Nicholas Day, then Evil Santa murders tons of people, and the government covers it up. Note that there’s a comedic element here, so it’s less cheesy than it reads.

Cons: I can’t really think of much. There was some stilted dialogue, but that’s to be expected with translations. Usually I see several aspects I’d change, but I really didn’t here.

Pros: The film looks glossy, there are funny moments, and the evil Santa actually works. I went in thinking it would be horrible, but it’s well handled. And I jumped once! I can’t think of the last time I jumped from a jump scare. The sub-plot with the government pays off, and I think it’s a fun movie.

Overall: I’m going with 3.75 out of 5 stars. Fun horror movie with a few scares that’ll teach American viewers a little about European Christmas. Check it out.

This is Elliot Arthur Cross wishing you happy viewing.