Looking for a reviewer for your online dark fiction? Read the requirements, fill out a form that fits best, and send a request. Lily Blaze will let you know if she’s interested within 24 hours. Continue reading to learn how you can submit for a dark fiction review.
Dark Fiction Review Requirements
First and foremost, your submission must be dark. The darker the better.
Characters die? Doesn’t matter. Gory? Not a problem. Taboo subjects? That’s okay as long as there’s a plot. Extreme and/or SplatterPunk? Bring it on.
Second, adult fiction preferred. Some NA might be considered, but it still needs to be as dark as possible.
Third, Lily Blaze is looking for quality over quantity.
Last but certainly not least, priority will given to authors/creators/artists who are unknown and struggling to get reviews.
What Not to Submit
YA or Children Fiction
A whole series
Anything that ends with “to be continued”
Completed works only and only one submission per request.
If your submission is a book in a series, Lily Blaze will only review the first book.
Short Story or Poetry Collection
Dark Fiction Review Schedule
If your submission is accepted, Lilly Blaze will keep in touch.
For novels, novellas, short story and poetry collections, up to three months.
Zines & YouTube Channels
Anywhere from a week, up to a month.
Accepted Submission Exposure
All reviews are posted on the Neon Vagabond Blog as a SEO friendly article, and shared to GoodReads, Facebook, and Twitter.
Before Sending Your Submission
Please have the following prepared in advance, where applicable.
One image at least 2000 pixels wide for the review header page. PNG or JPEG format. If you’re unable to provide that, Lily Blaze will help you with an image that fits.
Any relevant links.
Text formats: PDF, Word, RTF, OpenOffice.
Dark Fiction Review Submission Form
If you don’t get a response within 24 hours, contact Lily Blaze on Facebook or Twitter.
Read the first blog post by Lily Blaze and get an even better idea of the kind of submissions she accepts.
NYV: Punk is the first novel in a vampire series that’s set in the New York 1980s punk scene. Although the writing has some rough spots, KD McQuain is a talented emerging author with a fascinating story to tell.
NYV: Punk – Ritual Theme
The book starts with a theme of dark rituals, and then we meet the protagonist. Christian is a typical teen boy in a small Texan town, who survives an upbringing with bizarre rituals imposed by his single mother. Don’t be fooled by the lull of a small town. There’s plenty of foreshadowing and Christian’s family history is all connected to the plot. You don’t want to miss a word.
Once Christian gets to New York City,
things happen fast.
NYV: Punk – Almost 40 Years Ago
The novel reminded me that I’ve
forgotten how vivid and diverse the punk scene was in 1984, when the
city had a beautiful, perfect skyline and pop culture was ruled by
After surviving a viscous attack in a
bus station (remember the ritual theme?), Christian is soon adopted
by a group of street punks. Each character is unique and fully
fleshed out. I felt their excitement, disgust, love, pain, and grief.
Meanwhile, a violent creature lurks in the shadows.
Rite of Passage
Christian has the unfortunate luck (or
fortunate depending on your point of view) of living through growing
pains at the same time as something inhuman grows inside of him. The
parallel between events like falling in love for the first time and
witnessing supernatural violence, makes for a well-rounded story.
Christian fights to survive his rapid
development, and a deadly yet ancient vampire.
In internet publishing, it’s become
sadly common for authors to cheat when writing a series by slapping
on “to be continued” at the end of a book. The plot of NYC: Punk
naturally shifts from punk to goth. And what’s the title of the next
book? NYC: Goth.
In the natural order of Will Bernardara Jr.’s America, the details are the devils. This isn’t a patriotic story. This is a fictional account of the truth as shown by a demonic hive mind.
the Author of America
My first intro to Will Bernadara Jr.’s writing is a short story in Underbelly Issue 1 that I reviewed. He remembered my review, I remember his strong writing. So when he sent me a review request, I happily accepted.
One of things that I love about extreme fiction is the lack of self-censorship. That’s evident in Bernardara Jr.’s creative use of, well, everything. As the story unfolds, there’s references ranging from Shakespeare to David Cronenberg. 1980s horror slasher movies to Skinny Puppy. And many others you should know.
After all of that, there’s more.
Story of America
America is a riveting and quick read. It’s the anti-thesis of mainstream media with their attempts to explain mass shooters. Prepare yourself of an original analysis that connects the overuse of medication with ancient demonology. Science meets demons.
What is Wrong with America?
We’ve all heard that sentiment. We see it all over social media. Instead of repeating a rhetorical question, America paints a terrifying picture with clever anecdotes and hilarious side-notes. Hints of a horrific future are splattered throughout the story.
The question isn’t what’s wrong with this country. The question is, how is the country sick?
Extreme Wide Appeal
It thrilled me every time I read a horror reference. The science and demonology are never hard to read. Pacing is steady and consistent. The references made me smile. America‘s ending is deeply haunting, as it’s meant to be.
You’re checking out America now, right? I’ll wait.
In essence, Underbelly’s trangressive fiction is everything to the extreme, with a broader range. Tired of heterosexual dark fiction limited to predictable formulas? Underbelly has something for everyone.
From the website:
Extreme Horror, Splatterpunk, Bizarro, LGBTIQ+, Pornorotica (yes, we made that up, but you know what we mean!), freaky fantasy worlds and futures, ridiculous mash-ups, or anything just plain weird.
Underbelly Issue #1
The issue starts with a story about a soldier and alien sex, then jumps to a new level with each story that follows. Nine stories in total, for this 60 page read. And if that’s not enough, there are illustrations.
Many stories have commentaries on different aspects of perversion, sexuality, and personal identity, yet they could be read only for the pleasure of something beautifully strange, or darkly twisted.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. No, really, I do. Ew, yet another indie zine trying to be all hip and different by reinventing the wheel. Or, you’re thinking, ew, how perverse. But none of that is the point of Underbelly, and it’s not the point of this review.
I admit that I was mildly concerned about misrepresentation, but the concern went away rather fast. Some of the stories I enjoyed more than others, and a number of them really impressed me. All stories have very original concepts that kept me reading to the end. In the end, it’s a satisfying read.
Regardless of personal preference, I appreciate that issue #1 isn’t trying to be gross for the sake of grossness. Perverse, taboo, and for an adult audience? Without a doubt. But each story is there for a reason. Make no mistake. This is art.
In order to catch flies, you have to align a web On This Day. In Oak Anderson’s newest thriller, On This Day: Homeland Thriller Series (Brant Discher Book 1), the web is more complex than it appears.
Discher is a friendly cop, the kind
that rescues kittens, who’s thrown into a deeper mystery when he
investigates an apparent suicide. Conflicts ensue. Terrorists are
discovered. Bodies pile up. Love is threatened. Wounds are exposed.
With alternating chapters that focus on different POVs, villains and protagonists, Oak Anderson paints a complicated three-dimensional web. Is it all a Conspiracy? Another 9/11 story? A firm no. Not if you pay attention.
Long Read, Short Chapters On This Day
Oak Anderson is an interesting thriller writer. He takes his time and crafts every word. Not one word is wasted. At the same time, you never have to wait long for plot twists (yes, twists, plural, and endless). If you haven’t already, pick up a copy of his book Take On With You, then prepare yourself to start paying attention.
On This Day, explores all aspects of
cultural reactions, and sometimes deadly actions, when choice is at
perilous risk of extinction. Family, working-class employees,
vigilant citizens, social media uproar, federal versus local law
enforcement, and a lone newscaster who needs to tell story, all
fight for their small corner of the world.
And there’s Brant, at the heart of an expanding murder mystery, as he tries to keep his own life from falling apart.
Do we take our lives for granted?
A Deeper Question
In today’s politically-charged world,
how can law enforcement catch suspects without racial profiling? Many
of us (including yours truly), recognize racial profiling as not only
wrong, it’s downright criminal. By the same token, a criminal justice
system founded on the wrongness of an outdated past, is suddenly
without the tools needed to enforce the law.
This book proves that the tools are
Enter On This Day. You’ll be taken on a whirlwind journey that’s ripe with dangers and the most creative death scenes. When shit hits the fan, it literally hits the fan. And that nagging question persists. Who has the real power? The flies or the spiders?
My Sister And I by Sean-Paul Thomas is a psychological thriller with moments of extreme horror and SplatterPunk. Twin 13-year-old girls with a spooky connection, deal with a horrific childhood with an absolutely psychotic father, embark on a journey to scare the living crap out of everyone, then fight for their lives, each in their own way.
The book comes with a heavy warning, violence, strong language, etc, etc. I didn’t find anything in the book more extreme than what you’d find in, say, Trainspotting. (The book is much more graphic than the movie). That’s not a fair comparison. My sister And I starts with a slow burning first person narrative, then progresses (or regresses, depend on your point of view) into rapid action until the end. Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of horror, but a different plot than Trainspotting.
The setting of the Scotland’s Highlands
interested me the most. In North America, we tend to get a comedic
version of Scotland, and it’s rare to see anything that goes deeper
than a cartoon character. And darker. I would call it Scottish
Gothic, if such genre existed.
I didn’t enjoy reading this book as much as I thought I would. The scenes of extreme horror are well-executed and as a reader of extreme fiction, I enjoyed that. I appreciate the author choosing to withhold key pieces of information for the sake of enhancing plots twists, but that tends to have a negative result for readers. It slows down the story too much. For me, there wasn’t enough suspense.
This is unfortunate, because the writing is strong and many of the extreme horror scenes are entertaining. There is a good pay off. The book ends well, in the way that it should, with My Sister And I. Despite the rough patches, I’m quite satisfied with the book’s ending.
Nightmare Nocturne is a YouTube channel focused on narrating creepy tales. Two ghoulish yet lovely girls post videos with stories from various sources. They’re artists supporting artists, and they’re just starting to gain some real traction.
Spooky stories based on true events, indie authors reading their stories, and classic scary tales. The Black Dog, anyone? Classic. There’s quite a choice so far, and I predict the channel will only get better.
I must make a confession at this point. One of the girls downloaded The Vault, my collection of free stories and poetry. I’m looking forward to finding out which story she’s going to read.
While I realize not everyone can sound like Vincent Price or Elvira, I do feel the girls could slow down their speaking skills just a tad and pause ever so briefly at the appropriate moments. I’m being picky, I know that. Regardless, I feel that extra bit polish would go a long way.
On the other hand, the girls look like they’re having so much fun!
The videos are low-budget, but considering it’s only two girls running the whole show, I can’t blame them. On the plus side, every video has subtitles/captions, so anyone can watch them. If you enjoy raw, creepy, and indie, Nightmare Nocturne is worth checking out.
You might want to book a front row seat, if you dare…
I’ve used WordPress since 2009 and Jetpack since the beginning of May, 2018. I love content management. As an artist and a writer, it makes the most sense. However, there are a few things that aren’t obvious. I’m still learning a lot about features, especially for the combo of WordPress + Jetpack. The point of this article is to show what certain features mean for rest of us, who are not developers or computer scientists.
I started using WordPress only for the responsive capabilities. I’m not a developer and I can’t write PHP code to save my life. It was the damn viewport that kept snagging. So I gave in and installed WordPress for one page. I’ve long-since expanded and now my entire site is managed by WordPress.
[ps2id id=’site’ target=”/]
This is your targeted audience. Choose the language that best suits your site.
From WordPress dashboard > Settings > General > Site Language
Now, WordPress is American CMS, so it stands to reason that a lot of views are American, and the default language is English (US). Bad news, there really isn’t any such thing as country specific CMS. Good news, you can broaden your horizon by changing the Site Language.
My site is set to English (Canada), because I’m Canadian. Tons of traffic comes from the US, but there’s a lot that comes from many countries. So far, I’ve received traffic from Canada, US, Brazil, United Kingdom, Poland, Italy, India, and Philipines.
If you want to target an American audience only, then Site Language > English (US)
More bad news, Jetpack will nag you about Site Language if it’s not set to English (US). I ignore it. More about Jetpack later.
[ps2id id=’categories’ target=”/]
Categories are for site navigation. They should be set up so the viewer can search and find what they’re looking for, using the built-in search feature. Categories rarely show up in search engines.
[ps2id id=’tags’ target=”/]
Tags are miniature search engines. They show up in any possible search. Tags need optimization far more than categories.
In other words, tags are keywords.
I’ll use my site as an example.
In google, I searched using the keywords “lily dark art gallery.” Lo and behold, there I am, first place.
Let’s take a closer look at the url. The text t the end is the tag, which I also use as the Slug.
You’ll notice the word “tag” isn’t used. No one can see that the text in the url is a tag until they visit your site. In fact, I don’t think anyone notices. So I guess you can say Tags are invisible miniature search engines.
Choose the keywords so that your tags can be found.
Having said that, “lily dark art gallery” is a very specific keyword search. The chances of random strangers online finding the art gallery page based on that keyword are slim, and I know that. I want my blog to be the most search-able content on my site, but that’s just me. Yet, if people search for “art gallery,” mine just might show up.
If your categories or the tags aren’t attached to a post or page, they show up as 404 pages in search engines. The best thing to do is delete all unused Categories and Tags. Problem solved.
Oddly, I never had a problem with 404 pages until I starting using Jetpack.
I’ve seen a lot about Jetpack. There are plenty of articles about the paid plugin. However. the free version is useless, and failed to give me a reason to install it. But, Jetpack is now included with my web host package, so now I’m using the plugin.
Jetpack + Premium Theme
If you have a Premium theme, like I do, there will be a lot features already built in. As a result, I had to disable a number of Jetpack features, because the two cancelled each other out.
Here’s a list of disabled features that are provided with my theme. I contacted web host support, but they redirected me to Jetpack support, who tried to redirect me back to web host support. I received no support help whatsoever.
So I manually tested each one, one at a time, until my theme finally worked. It was tedious and I gave JetPack Support a negative rating. It’s their responsibility, and they failed.
Be forewarned, if you have both Jetpack and a Premium theme, there will be incompatibility issues.
Here’s a list features I disabled, in case that helps anyone.
WordPress Dashboard > JetPack > Settings
Under Writing tab the following are disabled:
Enable JetPack Mobile Theme
Everything else works just fine for me.
Spelling and Grammar
My vision is not what it used to be. I’ve been told my vision is “normal.” I’m near-sighted now, due to permanent damage caused by a bad case of optic neuritis. So I wear glasses and everything’s fine. I appreciate any tool or aid I can use to continue managing my life. I was looking forward to extra help from Jetpack’s Spelling and Grammar feature.
In all fairness, it does help catch minor typos I didn’t see before. And, um, that’s it. Jetpack is also included with my web host, but if I had to pay for it, I wouldn’t bother. There are plenty of free plugins that do the same as each feature.
Let me get something out of the way. Despite Jetpack’s constant screaming, passive voice isn’t wrong. If every site wrote in 100% active voice, we’d all sound like desperate used car salesmen.
A) There’s nothing wrong with passive voice.
B) There’s nothing wrong with using your own voice.
C) Past tense doesn’t automatically mean passive.
D) If you need a plugin to write for you, maybe question why you’re writing in the first.
I’ll give you the perfect example of a good passive voice.
Open call for independent authors, online zines, and YouTube channels to submit for a dark fiction review.
As a writer of dark fiction, I
understand the struggles of getting a review. So I’m opening my blog
for reviews of dark fiction from independent authors, to shed some
light on the darkest corners.
Dark Fiction Formats I’ll Consider for
Short Story Collection
What Kind of Dark Fiction I’m Looking For
Dark, twisted, different. Characters
die? Fine by me. Graphic and gory? Doesn’t bother me as long as it’s
within context. Taboo subject? No problem. Adult themes? Preferred.
I’m not interested in YA or younger. I might consider some NA,
but that’s the youngest I’ll go.
Here’s a full list:
Dark, the darker the better
Experiential, lack of formulas
Contemporary preferred, especially
for dark poetry.
Quality crafted writing, if
If what you have matches three or more
items in the above list, chances are high I’m going to be interested.
Hopefully you can see I’m fairly open. I’m not easily shocked and
very little bothers me.
Other than what’s in the list above,
What I Don’t Want
Light and fluffy
Completed works only, please, and only
one title per request.
If you try to disguise light and fluffy
as dark fiction because one of the characters happens to wear black
leather pants, that’s an immediate rejection. I’ve been reading dark
fiction for a long time. Don’t try to fool me. 😉
What You Get From Me
Email within 24 hours letting you
know if I’m interested.
Full text review posted on my
blog, GoodReads, Twitter, and my Facebook page.
My blog uses images that’s 1400
pixels wide. If you’re unable to send an image of that size, I’ll
create one for you, as a featured blog image.
Updates every step of the way.
I’m one person, I only have one brain.
I can’t offer instant reviews for everyone. Check below for my
posting schedule. I try to keep up a new post once a week, usually
Fiction Review Schedule
For reviews of each title, up to three
months. If you have a series, I’ll only review the first book in the
series. Small warning: I have a strong dislike for
books that end with “to be continued.”
There’s so many horror eggs that I had to write a full article about The Haunting of Hill House.
The 10 episode series is a Netflix original, adapted from the 1959 novel of the same name, by Shirley Jackson. And it’s brilliant. I love it when creative people take the ball and run with it, and boy did they run far with The Haunting of Hill House. It’s the best adaptation I’ve seen.
It’s also impossible to write a review without spoiling everything, but I’ll do my best.
As usual, Netflix’s summary writing fails. When I first saw the series on Netflix, I thought it’s another attempt at Ghostbusters with a brother/sister team investigating the supernatural. I’m so happy I’m wrong.
In a corner of a flipped supernatural world, the eldest siblings of a five child family attempt to debunk a traumatized childhood, while the younger siblings keep chasing ghosts. It’s a race against memories, love, and grief, in this psychological horror series.
And the ghosts hide. They lurk in the darkest corners, unseen by the trained eye.
The Haunting of Hill House is a horror egg hunt.
How Many Horror Eggs are in the Hill House?
I counted 13 hidden spooks, but I might have been biased by another movie about ghosts. Still, I’m pleased I was able to spot 13 on my own.
I love horror, but it’s rare for me to actually jump while watching horror. The Haunting of Hill House made me jump for the first time in years.
On the other hand, they are many more jump scares of the subtle kind. Emotional and psychological. As I said before, blink, and you’ll miss it. And even then. It wasn’t until the day after I finished watching the series that a few plot pieces fell into place.
Oh, that’s why the Dudleys stayed with the house.
Oh, that’s why they couldn’t unlock the Red Room.
And, oh, dammit, saying more spoils everything.
There are secrets that unravel the same way life unravels. In lurches and scattered pieces. The ghosts keep the house alive with human weaknesses and flaws. It’s up to the humans to collect the broken pieces and make sense out of a timeline that’s not a line at all. Like a drop of water in a puddle, the lines balloon out and ripple through time.
Each ghost feeds on flaws and becomes a waking nightmare. Fear, guilt, the urge to kill. The house woke up a long time ago. And the house is hungry.
But which came first? Haunted humans or the haunting of Hill house?
So, how many spooks and horror eggs can you count in The Haunting of Hill House?
I didn’t like Godless at first. In fact, I stopped watching half-way through episode two. I was bored and confused and nothing made any sense. Scenes felt too convenient and stereotypical. I was disappointed. It’s an all-star cast and I was expecting something much better.
Then I took a bit of a break and decided to try again at the beginning. And you know what? I started enjoying the limited series.
Here’s the thing. The trailer, while well-made, is crap.
Don’t watch the trailer. Hey, what are you doing? I said don’t watch it. Okay, well, you’ll be sorry later.
I don’t even know why they made that trailer or wrote such a misleading synopsis and a tagline lie. My best guess is a writer somewhere complained, but you can’t give anything away! Second best guess, trying too hard to cash in on women’s issues. I’m hoping it’s my first guess. Benefit of the doubt and all that.
Godless Synopsis – Rewrite
Allow me to give you an honest synopsis.
In the land of the lizard and the snake, a man has lost his shadow, an outlaw is a horse whisperer, and a woman is the fastest draw in the West. Several lives come together like blood-stained lace in a New Mexico town as everyone struggles with the aftermath of a tragic mining accident.
If I could, I’d give you a better trailer, but that might get me in trouble with those pesky copyright laws. I’m sure you undertand.
Godless – Lily’s Review
The Netflix limited series starts with the whisper of a gun silencer. Godless is not to be mistaken for a typical, fast-paced, action-packed Western, but it is most definitely a Western. With only seven episodes, it’s a Western you can fit in your pocket.
In some ways, Godless is hard to describe because so much of the story is shown through visuals and facial expressions only. It’s driven by the way scenes feel. The lack of dialogue at key moments make a powerful punch.
In terms of the mystery, it’s not just one story, one town, or one person. The mystery is the whole series. Clues abound. I had to watch the series three times before I picked up all the clues. I had to really pay attention. There’s a lot packed in only seven episodes.
In essence, everybody’s looking for something in Godless.
Jeff Daniels plays Frank Griffin, the leader of a misfit pack of outlaws, so well that I actually forgot it’s Jeff Daniels. Michelle Dockery (you know her from Downtown Abby) plays Alice Fletcher, a tragic figure who proves (in graphic detail) that what doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger. And Kim Coates‘ perfectly waxed mustache as Ed Logan? Pure gold. Coates certainly knows how to play a righteous son of a bitch.
As for the ladies of La Belle, all the actresses threw themselves into their roles 100%. I find it interesting that the series never overplays a female-only town. They could have. It could have gone in the wrong direction. Instead, it’s appropriate for that time in history and presents a ‘what if’ scenario. What if all the men died? Would the women start acting like men as replacements? Would they become completely helpless females? Or would they become stronger women? All these questions and every possible answer is fully explored in the series.
Godless isn’t only about the women. It’s not a feminist series and it’s not just about the men, either. It’s about the horses.
I could go on about each performance, but I have a point I want to make.
Netflix has invented a new category, limited series. A mini-series that can be binge-watched or watched over and over. It’s wonderful to see options. Oh sure, Godless could have been a lot more. With such a talented cast, it’s hard to deny how this story could have been a long-running series. There’s definitely an epic feel. However, I’m satisfied with the series. It was just enough.
By introducing a limited series, streaming possibilities have been opened, which creates a new media that doesn’t directly conflict with the medium of television. I’m not saying limited series will end the heated argument of cable vs streaming and allow them to play nicely together (for once), but it’s now a possibility. And that’s my point.
I give Godless 4 out 5 stars. If Martha was given more screen time, I’d give it 5 stars. Who can resist a badass bohemian woman who knows how to use a gun?
I admit I decided to watch To the Bone, a Netflix Original, because of various online complaints about controversy and claims of glorifying anorexia.
They’re all wrong.
Netflix originals are either a massive miss or a big hit. To the Bone has an all-star cast, both seasoned and new. It’s one of those movies that’s a rare gem. Due to perceived controversy, it will never be a hit. It’s not easily consumed by the masses, but it’s such a well-made movie that digs much deeper than only the subject matter of eating disorders. It cuts to the bone.
It’s common in the Western Culture to misinterpret eating disorders as sign of selfishness. There’s starving children living on the streets, you better eat everything on your plate! That’s an attempt to emotionally blackmail someone into ceasing their eating disorder addiction. It’s outdated and ignorant. To the Bone doesn’t attempt to make anyone feel bad for being sick.
The question that’s presented for most of the movie is, who’s the one with the real disease? Girls starving themselves as per stereotype, or all of society? The movie’s overall theme demonstrates how any kind of perceived controversy just might be nothing more than the result of dishonesty. Society lies, parents lies to children, and young adults lie to themselves all the time. Herein lies the real disease.
Suffering from anorexia, Ellen, played by Lily Collins, is a tough young woman with a devil-may-care attitude. In a monotone, she repeats all the same tired old excuses for eating disorders. The media. Skeletal models. Society’s expectations. Etc, etc, etc. But that’s exactly what they are – excuses. Ellen is not a victim of excuses. If anyone tries to make her a victim she responds with an attitude that says, “suck my skinny balls.”
Raised by dysfunction, she’s surrounded by mother-figures. An anxious step-mother. A loving half-sister preparing for Ellen’s funeral. An estranged biological mother. And the biological mother’s bold girlfriend.
Her father? We never see him. He’s always tied up at the office. Always late for dinner. He’s just not there.
Ellen has every opportunity to be healthy with all these mother-figures in her life, but she remains disconnected.
After attempting and failing many treatments, Ellen’s desperate step-mother seeks the help of Dr. Beckham, who’s known for unconventional methods. In truth, his methods are simply honest. “Blame is bullshit,” he blurts, and just like that, society’s bullshit is debunked.
Like a robot, Ellen agrees to try another treatment. It’s not just any treatment. This time, it’s a race against death.
Beyond the Controversy, a Diverse Cast
Ellen moves into the house for Dr Beckham’s patients. A varied cast, different races, different genders, and different backgrounds. The dancer. The rebel. The artist. The unicorn. Each has a different reason for their eating disorder. All are utterly normal. They all want the same thing – to feel alive.
Ellen glides between the lives of the other patients. She’s intelligent with a biting sense of humour, and shows a wisdom beyond her years. Yet she rarely applies this insight to her own life. How can a young woman accept love for herself when she can’t see herself as she really is?
Stark and painfully beautiful, the patients laugh and cry among themselves. They’re ghosts in many ways, neither here nor there, struggling between life and death, trying to decide which way to go. They’re all on a journey.
Aren’t we all?
Keanu Reeves has come a long way. It seems he’s finally broken away from the dumb but cute guy typecast. His acting skills have matured and expanded. It’s the first time I’ve seen him in a role where I actually forgot it’s Keanu Reeves. All I could see is Dr. Beckham.
I wouldn’t be surprised, if given the right role, an Oscar nomination is in his future.
Dr. Beckham does everything he can to make his patients feel accepted, but never coddles anyone. He always leaves the ultimate choice up to his patients. Stay or leave. Get healthy or die. The choice is theirs alone.
He makes arrangements to bring his group of misfits to an art exhibit after hours. The good doctor stands in the middle of an exhibit, arms spread wide, and asks, “Can anyone tell me why we’re here?”
GLOW – Gorgeous Ladies Of Wrestling. Everyone knows television wrestling is fake. But that isn’t the point of this Netflix Original series.
Heavy on neon and 80’s references, GLOW looks and sounds cheesy as hell. I half-expected the show to be accidentally funny. It’s actually quite entertaining and smart.
The creators behind GLOW did something clever. Instead of dumbed-down educational sequences about how television wrestling is fake, they focused on the lives of the gorgeous ladies and their interaction. GLOW doesn’t have a perfect ending wrapped in a pretty pink bow. Yet the conclusion is a rather satisfying resolution.
Right at the start of episode one, I had my doubts. Ruth, the leading lady if you will, didn’t come across as a sympathetic character to me. In fact, she was kinda non-descriptive and it was hard to root for her. A struggling actress who has never made a name for herself, Ruth sleeps her way through a number of fumbles.
However, I’m glad I kept watching By the end of the second episode, the set-up is clear. Ruth is not suppose to be a heroine. She’s a foil. It’s clever. Instead of hitting the audience over the head with heroes, and heroines, and perfect plots, we are introduced to a fake villain who’s job is to make the star of GLOW shine. And with that, she’s sympathetic.
You want Ruth to win. To craft the perfect character to portray on television wrestling. But if she wins, will she lose the only real acting job she’s ever been able to get?
GLOW is about a lot more than just television wrestling. It’s about the struggle of women behind the curtains that we are never shown. Struggles with financing, money, relationships, family, female friendships, and hard-hitting issues many women face every day.
There are attempts at various political statements, campy as they are, but they’re always shown as the most ridiculous tv wrestling scenarios. The show takes itself seriously, without taking itself too seriously.
There’s no feminist extremism here. There’s simply ordinary women fighting for their own choices. Sometimes they succeed and sometimes they fail, like we all do. Every damn day.
But you will only see all of the above if you dig a little deeper, beyond the flashy neon.
On the surface, it’s wildly entertaining watching the women learn how to show the perfect fake wrestling moves while they wrestle with their own imperfections.
It’s worth watching after you leave the hype at the door. It’s also based on a true story.
I love creating art. I started drawing at age 2, many moons ago. I’m sure I’ll be an artist until I’m in a nursing home. I can just see it now. Nurses will have to fight with me to put the crayons back in the box. Retirement plans aside, I’ve reached a point where I need to accept the that I’d rather write.
Hey, at least I can have a sense of humour about this.
Here’s the thing. Working on Cottonseeds the graphic novel has burnt me out, and I’ve felt that way for a while now. I hoped that my Independent Art Series would rejuvenate me, but that didn’t happen.
The question, of course, is why? I can create art, either fine art or digital. So why can’t I finish Cottonseeds as a graphic novel? I sat down and wrote a list.
1. It’s a bigger story than what I can express in art.
I wrote the first draft in 2009 as a 70,000 word thriller. Though I’ve tried my best, I can’t fit a 70,000 word story into a graphic novel. All the space is taken up by art. I’m actually starting to resent the art, only because the story isn’t being told.
2. I only have one brain.
It’s been brutal switching from art to writing to art… and so on, and so forth. Since starting the graphic novel, the breaks I have to take have been getting longer and longer.
3. The story is ruined.
Well, not completely ruined, but pretty close. I trusted a “friend” to help me with the project, as a mutual agreement, since we were both pursuing graphic novels at the time. Yes, it’s my fault for listening to his bad advice, so I’m not playing the blame game here. I’m just stating facts.
We had a constant email exchange for 2 years. He just wouldn’t listen. Cottonseeds is a psychological thriller with supernatural elements. He refused to accept that and held his promised help over my head like a sword. He tried to convince me that Cottonseeds should be some kind of action hero story.
(No offence to lovers of action heroes, it’s just not Cottonseeds).
All of his emails can be paraphrased as the following. I’m secretly a mansplaining asshole who will only help if you do everything my way and everything you do is wrong. Long story short.
Anyway, we reached a settlement (I did a lot of artwork for his own projects… without payment), cut ties, and moved on.
4. As much as I love art, I’d rather write.
I just prefer writing most of the time, and art once in a while. I’m not a full-time artist.
5. I’m running out of disk space.
Graphic novel pages are massive. I know how to compress so that an issue can be downloaded, but the files on my computer are just too big to handle. And I need all files so hand so I can go back and make sure everything is as consistent as I can make it. Also, see number 4.
6. I miss having the time to write reviews.
I would love nothing more than to open my blog to accept review requests. Writing reviews is so much fun and I haven’t been able to write reviews in a long time.
So, to sound all fancy, in conclusion, I’m wrapping up the graphic novel as best as I can with issue number 3. After that, I’m going back to my 70,000 word manuscript and finish Cottonseeds the novel The graphic novel will be a companion, always available to download from my website.
Oliver Parker’s Dorian Grey is a slow burning thriller with sparks of horror that builds up into one quick firework. Then the light fades.
For too long the North American audience has been beaten over the head with pop psychological and very little history. I’m saddened to see in many reviews I’ve read after I watched the movie that everyone seems to have completely missed the point. Parker’s Dorian Grey is a literary masterpiece in the form of a movie with much needed updated visual effects.
The Other Dorian Grey in a Different Era
There’s been several other movies based on The Picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde, going as far back as 1945. All are tame which is understandable considering the times. Often the movies, either big screen or small screen, were dependent on acting and psychological elements to support the story. The 1945 movie is a black and white classic, but feels outdated. I don’t fault any of the other versions of Dorian Grey. I’m sure they did what they could within the limitations of the era.
Before Parker’s Dorian Grey, various adaptations focused too much on the psychology of a narcissist and sexual freedom. However, the story was never about sexuality or psychology. It’s about love and how one young man can take the concept of self-love way too far.
The Original Dorian Grey and Greek Myth
Oscar Wilde wrote the novel during a time of Victorian sexual repression and gothic literature. Pop psychological didn’t exist in the 19th century. The Portrait of Dorian Grey is based on the Ancient Greek myth, Narcissus and Echo. Of course, the Ancient Greeks had a tendency to romanticize everything, including tragic tales. The Greek myth is a tragedy that provides a mythological explanation for the origin of an echo.
A beautiful young man saw his reflection in the water one day and fell so completely in love with himself that he became blind to everyone around him. A wood nymph fell in love with the beautiful Narcissus, but he wouldn’t betray his love for himself. Spurned, the nymph went to a cave, wasted away until only her voice was left, and became an echo.
In the 21st century we call that a narcissistic sociopath, but I urge everyone to ignore psychology in order to appreciate Parker’s Dorian Grey.
Oscar Wilde took the Greek myth and turned it into a novel. As typical of a writer, it starts with a ‘what if’ question. What if Narcissus was a man living right now (the 19th century), in London, England, and introduced to the whims of high society?
In Wilde’s novel, Narcissus is a young man named Dorian Grey who sees his picture for the first time and falls so completely in love with himself that he’s willing to barter his soul in exchange for eternal youth. He stays young and beautiful no matter how many years has passed. He can do anything he wants for his own pleasure without suffering consequences.
His picture, a painting that’s hidden away in an attic, takes the damage from years of self-abuse. It becomes old, twisted, and poisonous.
The Picture of Dorian Gray has a simple, old moral. What goes around, comes around, and always bites you in the ass. Yet Wilde’s novel is dark, romantic, and tragic, because that was the 19th century.
A Fresh, New Dorian Grey
Parker’s Dorian Grey is so true to the original novel and the Greek myth it’s based on. It’s not a psychological thriller. No rapid action sequences. No pop psychology based on current global politics. The movie burns slowly until the flame is snuffed out.
Ben Barnes enters the movie as a silly, wide-eyed and young Dorian Grey. A bit scarred and alone, yet approaches his sudden inherited mansion with such innocence that he seems lost and adrift in the wonder of so much wealth.
Lord Henry Wotton, played by Colin Firth, immediately takes Dorian under his wing and shows him how to give in to hedonistic pleasures without suffering consequences. Although Ben Barnes is true to the character from beginning to end, it’s Colin Firth’s performance that steals the show.
Visiting prostitutes and enjoying imported cigarettes are just a way for the wealthy to pass their time. But there’s always consequences, even for the privileged. Dorian learns that lesson the hard way, through murder and cruelty. Can sweet and innocent Dorian Grey redeem himself in the midst of such immorality, self-indulgent wealth, and the loss of his soul?
The real underlying conflict Dorian faces isn’t just the fact he can’t age, it’s about the fact he can’t mature. He can’t let go of his first true love – himself.
Yet, Narcissus is only one part of the story. The entire movie is Echo.
I’ve decided to design a new logo, that I think stands out mush better than the old one. It’s more readable, and that’s the most important aspect of logo design.
New Logo Square
This one still works for everything in the meantime.
New Logo Circle
Chris mentioned Eden Fell, the book that’s now The Ash Garden, so I’m going to provide what updates that I can.
The Ash Garden is being considered by a publisher. I hope to have it published by the end of this year, fingers crossed. No, really, cross your fingers, eyes, toes, whatever, thanks.
On the subject of updates, here’s some updates for, er, updates.
Added a sleek share bar for all your social sharing needs, one that doesn’t cover half the page and makes it unreadable. It took me a while to find one.
Deleted a plugin for this blog that was suppose to encourage social media follows but caused such a problem that I threw it in the fuckit bucket. Besides, it was redundant. In the 21st century, people know how to follow on social media.
Cottonseeds 3 – taking longer than expected, but still working on it.
I’m actually quite happy with what I’ve been able to achieve so far this year, now that I’ve written everything as a list. It can be too easy to get lost in the little details. So many times, it’s not until I take big step back (metaphorically) that I’ll realize, hey… not bad at all.
I know I haven’t been posting much
lately, but I’ve been busy. I wanted to share with everyone an update
and my goals for 2019.
Although I had bigger plans for 2018 (best laid plans and all that), I’m content with where I am as a writer. I sold my first horror story! I mean, someone actually PAID me for writing fiction. Crazy, huh? I’ve also sold a one of a kind art piece for an upcoming issue for the same zine. Someone actually PAID me for my art. Good times.
2019 Review Schedule
Three reviews are coming in January, February, and March. Lots of new and dark fiction coming your way. My reputation as a reviewer of dark fiction is gaining traction. If you’re interested, fill out the form here.
You know how experienced writers say
edit your work with fresh eyes? I think I figured out a trick.
I’ve started dabbling in screenwriting.
I’ve written a screenplay before, as an experiment, so I’m familiar
with the basics. But now I’m making more of a commitment to
screenwriting. Even if it doesn’t pay off, I have to say, writing a
screenplay based on a fictional story is the best editing. I’m
catching so many minuscule typos and minor inconsistencies that I
never would have seen before.
Added bonus! While playing around with loglines, I summed up the story better than a novel synopsis. And it works.
I’ll be honest. I would love nothing
more than to sell screenplays. Eventually. I’m realistic, and I
always keep my expectations low. Of course, I could sell screenplays
and books. But, if I sold both, well, I wouldn’t complain.
And, if I can sell screenplays, books, and art (!!!) well, that would
be perfection. One step at a time and all that.
So, while I experiment with
screenwriting, I’m going explore my Pierrot novel idea, starting
Happy Holidays! Here’s a toast to a new
year full of creative opportunities!
P.S. On the off chance you’re reading
this thinking, zomg how can I buy me some Lily art, never seen
Facebook screwed up. Google failed. I wasted two days trying to figure out how to disable all this new shit after switching my Page to Business Manager. And,of course, Facebook never provides instructions. So I’ve decided to provide step by step instructions for how to use Business Manager, or not use it.
If you have a personal Facebook Page, for sharing info or updates, or Page for talking bout your fav tv show, movie, book, whatever, then business Manager is useless and not recommended.
If you’re running business with lot of products for sale, Business Manager can be useful.
If you’re n independent creator such as your truly, busines manger has pros and cons, so it’s up to you.
[ps2id id=’pro’ target=”/]
Business Manger Pros and Cons
Switching to Business manger means your personal profile will become an ad account that’s not connected to your Page.
You have to go through all settings and figure out what needs to be turned on or off.
It’s confusing and frustrating
Violates the privacy you may have for your personal profile
Offers deeper audience insights that you wont find in stats or Google Console.
If you want to do a lot of ads on Facebook, Business Manager is great.
Um, I can’t think of anything else.
[ps2id id=’where’ target=”/]
Where Did Your Page Go?
Take a deep breath. Your Page did not vanish into another dimension. Left column on the Facebook homepage, scroll down to Page (under Page Feeds). Select, and you’ll see any Pages you own. Everything’s fine.
[ps2id id=’how’ target=”/]
How to Share a Post on Your New Business Managed Page
This took the longest to figure out. It made me fangy.
You’re already logged into you Facebook account, right? Good. At the top where it shows your current selected account, click on the down arrow to the right > select the account that shows your Page. Then, click on Business Settings that will be on the top right as a big blue button.
On the settings page, hover on your Page name. See the teeny blue people icons on the right? Hover around like an idiot until one of the cutesy icons pops up with the text, Editor. Select Editor.
Because, in the fictional world of Facebook, apparently Admins (ie Page owners) are not allowed to do anything to a Page, not even sharing posts. Apparently.
Now that’s set up, go to Facebook homepage, find a post you want to share, down arrow, select whether you want to post as yourself or as your Page. Or, if you took the time to turn everything off on your newly created ad account that’s actually your personal profile and not connected to your Page, the option will go back to Share to a Page, and you now have permission to do that.
Yes, that’s right, with Business Manager activated, you have to give yourself permission. I’m not kidding.
[ps2id id=’deactivate’ target=”/]
How to Deactivate
If you want to remove Business Manager from any or all accounts, go to Business Manager Settings, select the account, check all the No, I’m not buying, etc, and the Deactivate link will show up. Click Deactivate.
The account is now under review to make sure you don’t have any active ads running on Facebook. The review can take days or weeks. It’s not instant. Or, turn everything off, and leave it, which is instant.
[ps2id id=’conclusion’ target=”/]
So far, after fighting with the settings, almost everything is the same as it was before. Business Manager hasn’t improved or changed my life. But, in all fairness, I’m an independent creator, not a business, so it’s a grey area. Sure, I have every legal right to sell my creations but, technically, I’m not running a business.
Business Manager just isn’t for everyone who owns a Facebook Page.
Lily Blaze doesn’t believe in limiting herself to one genre, or one format for that matter. She loves experimenting with creative ideas and different media. Anything goes, as long as it’s dark art or stories.
Writer and Artist
Congratulations, you’re now in Lily’s brain.
Aurora Awards 2019 Nominee for Best Artist. See the nominated art, Dragon Lab, here.
More info about about the Aurora Awards hosted by Can*Con here.
And I’m back! I won’t bore you with the fight I had trying to update everything and getting the comment box to show up. If anyone needs to know how to resolve security conflicts in WordPress, send me a message and I’ll give you step by step instructions with screenshots and info-graphics if you need them. For free.
I had finished watching Glow on Netflix (I’ll save that review for another post) and searched for something else to watch the other day (or it could have been night, or 2 am). I was pleasantly surprised to find Star Trek: Voyager. What will Netflix show next? It never ceases to amaze me how many good shows are now being preserved with online steaming services.
Don’t get me wrong. I haven’t jumped on the cable-cutting bandwagon. I just don’t care that much about mainstream culture. I don’t care whatever songs are in the top 40 this week. I don’t care what’s hot and what’s not. Well, maybe “don’t care” is too harsh of a phrase. More like… indifferent. If something is popular and I happen to like it, it’s not a deal breaker, but it’s not a deciding factor either.
I haven’t owned a TV since 1998. Do I ever feel like I’m missing something? Honestly? No. I’m a child of the 80’s and kinda maxed out on the personality explosion in television during that decade. I mean, we had Saturday morning cartoons.
After I gave away my small TV in ’98, I would watch TV shows with friends at their homes (when I wasn’t busy working all the time). We’d make dinner parties out of. it. Star Trek nights. Buffy nights. Angel nights. Anime nights or erotic shows/movies on Bravo. Obscure low-budget films from Germany whose titles I have long since forgotten and I can’t remember which channels aired them. I discovered amazing classic movies on my TV nights, such as Harold and Maude. Then, there would be commentaries, debates, and laughter. And, we would, gasp and shock, rent movies. On VHS!
*waits for collective gasps to fade*
Oh, sure, I could go on about the injustice about removing excellent shows (losing Dr. Who still makes me sad) and the corporate bickering over regional licenses. I’ve thought about cancelling Netflix many times. So many Canadians will complain about the limited number of TV shows on Netflix Canada. But despite everything, I still don’t feel like I’m missing anything, so I haven’t bothered to cancel.
I’ll watch TV shows because I honestly, sincerely, enjoy watching them. I don’t watch shows to have something to complain about. And the number of shows I enjoy watching, including anything available with online streaming, hasn’t changed since 1998.
For me, there’s a wonderful nostalgia attached to older TV shows or movies that have been made immortal by online streaming services. Re-watching good shows is like watching my memories stream eternally.
P.S. It’s my birthday. I accept gifts in the form of comments, shares, likes, or bottles of red wine. Up to you.
In 2005, I started a Google blogger account to post articles because a friend told me that’s how you get started as a new author. Fast-forward many years, and I’m right back to where I started. My old blog is still out there, floating around cyberspace.
Blog of the Past
I used my blog for a lot of randomness. My posts alternated between promotions, writing lessons, and rants. It became a chore. After a while, I stopped linking the blog to my website. I gave up on it.
I’m going to be brutally honest. I can’t stand blogs. Or rather, what blogs have become. Back when, it was simple. You have something to say, you wrote about it. Believe it or not, years ago blogs were 100% about content. Book reviews, movie reviews, useful articles. Now it seems blogs have become a platform to launch egos. Some are insecure egos, some… aren’t.
I know, I know. It’s not everyone. It’s just a large majority giving the rest of us a bad name. And it sucks.
But you know what? I don’t care. I love writing as much as I love art. Writing on a regular basis helps to keep my brain muscles in shape. I love connecting with like-minded people who also love writing and art, whether they’re a reader, writer, or an artist. I care about my friends.
If you’re reading in hopes of discovering ZE SECRET, you’re going to be disappointed. I won’t be posting any lessons or how-to manuals. If you’re reading to enjoy my funny/rambling/sarcastic/ranting/commentaries posts as I hammer out stories and art, then I welcome you. If, by chance, what I do inspires you to do your own thing, whatever it happens to be, then I will be flattered and honoured to call you a friend.
So, long story, er, longer, this is me and this is my (non) blog. Comments welcomed, rants appreciated, and respect rules.
I’ve been dealing with a lot lately. When I was almost finished my new blog launch, I got a call. My father passed away at only age 72. Sure, he wasn’t a young guy, but it was still sudden. So I’ve been trying to work on things, went ahead and launched my blog anyways. I haven’t been all that productive, for good reasons. I’ve been taking longer breaks than usual, trying to hold on to my concentration.
Netflix is always a nice distraction, where I can tune out for an hour or two. But, one snag. I’ve caught up with all TV shows that I want to watch. Supernatural, Jessica Jones, Stranger Things, The Walking Dead, Oh, and Deadpool‘s finally been added. There doesn’t seem to be much left of interest. For now. It’s bad timing for me.
I decided to watch a movie that I’ve seen on Netflix, Hush, a thriller (or maybe horror, I don’t know, I didn’t get that far) where the main character and the prey is deaf. It honestly didn’t look that good to me, so I kept ignoring it. But, here I am, in desperate need of distraction, so I thought, what the hell? It might be good for a laugh.
And… oh bloody hell. The main character was too stupid to live, which kinda pisses me off, because it reinforces the false stereotype of “deaf and dumb.” Not cool, Netflix, not cool at all.
I’m hard of hearing. For me, it’s not a big deal. I happen to know a lot of people who are hard of hearing or completely deaf. When you have an impairment like that, instincts become much stronger. You know that feeling of creepiness and hair raises on the back of your neck, and you just know if you turn around, whatever you find is going to make you scream? Yeah, that feeling. I have that feeling all the time, 24/7. After living with hearing loss (how can it be a loss when you never had it in the first place?) for thirty-seven years, I’ve long since learned to curb that feeling, and only act on it when I know something is definitely wrong. That’s where visual clues come in handy.
I stopped watching the movie after about ten minutes, and here’s why. So the character is cooking or cleaning in the kitchen, and the killer (who’s wearing a Michael Myers’ style mask) dances past a very tall and very see-through window. He’s in sight. He’s right fucking there. She turns, faces him, and keeps on cooking, completely oblivious. Why? Because she’s deaf. And why? Because deaf people are dumb with no instincts whatsoever, and deserve to be stalked and murdered by a Michael Myers poser.
Pisses me off.
Okay, now that I’ve written all of that, I can finally see it is a little bit funny. But that’s not the point.
My point is, this movie was obviously written by someone who has no clue what it means to be deaf. It’s very similar to screenplays that have Transgender characters yet straight actors are hired for the part. Or, and in my opinion, I find this far worse, when “token” actors are hired to make it look like a diverse cast. The token gay guy, the token Chinese guy, the token Black guy, the list goes on.
But that’s not what pisses me off. What pisses me off is that we have done this before. And it’s exhausting. You want to see a good movie with a deaf character? Go see Children of a Lesser God, 1986. That was exactly 30 years ago.
There’s a huge gap going on. The audience wants more diversity, because there’s been an extreme lack of diversity for 20 to 30 years now. But if writers who know nothing about the subject write about it, then comes acoss as fake, because it is fake. Writers write what they know. The question isn’t, why is there such a lack of diversity? The question is, why aren’t the writers who can write diversity getting hired?