Saturday, October 31, 2015

Happy Halloween! The Sweepstakes Deadline is Extended!

Halloween slogan with jack-o-lantern for the letter O, a gravestone, pair of corpse hands rising from the ground and bats in background.

Happy Halloween, everybody! If there’s anything I like better than Halloween, it’s Halloween on a Saturday! Which means most of us don’t have to return to boring reality until moanday Monday. So I’ve decided to extend the Halloween sweepstakes to midnight tonight, PST. Therefore, once the clock strikes the witching hour this giveaway turns back into a carved pumpkin (and so is over). So enter your chance to win free books now! All you have to do is answer this question: What is your favorite book to read or movie to watch around Halloween?

You may leave your answers in the comments coffin below if you’d like. But whatever you do, you must leave them in the sweepstakes box above that in order for your entry to be acknowledged by Rafflecopter (where this giveaway generates from). Please see last week’s post for more important details on how to participate and for important terms and conditions.

Again, I hope everybody has a Happy and safe Halloween!

Until next time . . . 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Far Out Fantastic Halloween Sweepstakes 2015

A witch's hat with a broom behind it and a bat hovering above the two.
Photo Credit:

Update, October 31, 2015, 10:00 PM: Because the sweepstakes deadline has been extended (see below), the winner will not be announced until next weekend's blog post but he/she will be notified before that at the contact information they provided.

Update, October 30, 2015, 10:59 PM: The sweepstakes below has been extended to midnight, November 1 (PST)!

What do you get when you put witches’ brooms together with vampire hunters’ and witch hunters’ artillery? You get sweep stakes, or more like sweepstakes. That is, the Far Out Fantastic Halloween Sweepstakes that you can enter for a chance to win a big treat! No purchase necessary.

The treat: a three-book set consisting of a copy of the short fiction collection, The Fool’sIllusion, and two novels! This set approximately totals an original retail value of $33. All you need to do to enter is answer the question at the end of this post.

This giveaway begins at midnight on Tuesday October 27 and ends at midnight October 31, 2015 Pacific Standard Time.


Answer the question at the bottom of the post by using one of the two options provided in the giveaway box. For reasons of budgetary constraints on shipping and handling of the prize, participants must either reside or have a residential address in the continental U.S. Only 18 and older are allowed to enter. In order to avoid potential favoritism issues, family/relatives of contest sponsor (yours truly) are disqualified from participating.

Procedure for Selecting a Winner

The winner will be selected randomly and will be announced by 9 PM, Saturday October 31 PST here at the Far Out Fantastic Site. If it is discovered that the winner did not play by the above mentioned rules and/or conditions, an alternative winner may be selected and the prize will go to the alternative winner instead.

Use of Participants’ Information

Participants’ email and postal mailing addresses as well as other personal information will be used for purposes of selecting a winner and delivering the prize (to be delivered either by U.S. Postal Service or UPS); this information will not be sold or maliciously used. For more details about how your personal information is used, please visit Rafflecopter’s privacy section


Sweepstakes sponsor can assume no liability for loss or damages of prize in the mail that are beyond his control.

Good luck! And . . .

Until Halloween!

Question For Sweepstakes Entry: What is your favorite book to read or movie to watch around Halloween?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, October 18, 2015

6 Pics from Sinister Creature Con

Sinister Creature Con was a blast. I was there most of the day. Even though it catered more to the cinematic special effects and make-up crowd, I found a lot of great inspiration and motivation for my own art, the art of words particularly. I want to share with you that inspiration and the tips that came from it but it’s been a long day, so tonight’s not the best time. I would do it next week but that’s when I want to give you a chance at winning a giveaway through a Halloween contest and I’m not sure if I’ll be able to fit both in that weekend, especially since I have a family gathering to go to that evening. So it will probably be either Halloween weekend or the weekend after. But I would like to share some photos* with you that I took at the con which you’ll find below. Most are of attendees who came in costume which theirs and many others’ were really out’a sight!

Two furries (or hairries?)

Three convention attendees in costume: Michael Jackson "Thriller" Werewolf, "Old Man" in a cloak, and a "Pimp".

Three cousins in costume, from left to right: Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” Werewolf, Old Man in a Cloak (but my cousin underneath is nowhere near an old man; in fact, he just turned 21 this past summer!); and Pimp. People were really impressed with the Werewolf. Other attendees kept asking if they could take his photo. He even danced in a spontaneous act with his Michael Jackson “Thriller” zombie double! Sadly, I wasn’t with them at the time to snap a photo.

Convention attendee in Magenta maid costume from The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
Magenta the Maid, from The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Two costumed con attendees: Magenta the maid with glitter dressed Columbia from The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
Magenta with Columbia, from Rocky Horror.

Two con attendees in black and white striped costumes, one with ghoulish green paint on her face and holding a stuffed unicorn.
A couple of friendly ghoul girls I asked if I could snap a photo of.

Bookmark depicting the right top portion of a green face peering out of a blackened window.

And for those of you who were not able to make it, here’s the Hidden promo bookmark I distributed copies of at the swag table in the dealers’ room. As I said last week, I had to get it together fast using stock photos because I couldn’t make the book cover’s illustration that I wanted to base it off of in time. I wasn’t even sure if I would get this one done in time for the con, but I did. So Canva, the online photo-editing software I used to design the bookmark, worked out pretty good.

I did, however, have to leave a tiny flaw in the bookmark because I didn’t have time to fix it. Can you find it? If you do, point it out by telling me in the box below. For that matter, if you find any other flaws in it that I may have overlooked, please also point them out. It will help me do better on the next one.

Until next time . . .

* Photo credits: Steven Rose, Jr.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

What's Happening in the Halloween Season

Halloween is one of my all-time favourite holidays and we're more than a week into the month of October. So your ghoulru has decided to conjure up this list of Halloween-related events happening now in the Sacramento area where he is broadcasting this blog from. I know many of you are not from here, but I have a couple links that might be of use to you that may direct you to some special Halloween events near you.

A list of Halloween Events 

Sacramento Horror Film Festival, Oct. 9 – 11: Yes, that's right. This festival of fearful films by indie directors is going on right now! It was started back in 2007 and has been going since. It shows both feature and short films.

Sacramento Area Authors talk about their post-apocalypticnovel, Oct. 16: Authors Louis Grivetti and Sargent Reynolds talk about their latest novel, The Cave, set in a post-apocalyptic future, at The Avid Reader bookstore in Davis. But no zombies in this one (unless they make a surprise appearance; yours truly can't say since he hasn't read it yet.) But there's something even scarier in it than the living dead: a much more plausible apocalyptic event and so one that can more likely happen. You can find out more about it in the article I wrote for

Sinister Creature Con, Oct. 17 and 18: This con emphasises cinematic makeup and special effects artists of horror films, but it will feature other kinds of artists too. These include the cast and crew from several movies such as actress Nell Campbell from The Rocky Horror Picture Show, actor Gerrit Graham from the cult classics Phantom of the Paradise and TerrorVision, actress Judith O'Dea from the original Night of the Living Dead and John Russo who co-wrote the screenplay, and actor Miko Hughes of Stephen King's Pet Cemetary. Other creative pros who are scheduled to be there are Josh Hancock, author of the meta horror novel, The Girls of October; Comic book horror-parody artist Paul Allen; and Industrial Light and Magic's Fon Davis. There will also be plenty of dark and weird merchandise for sale. 

I'll be at this one on Saturday, hopefully with some swag which I have not even had time to put together yet. I meant to do my own illustration based on my cover for The Hidden to base my book marks and post cards off of. However, I have not gotten that far yet since I've been busy with clients' projects and with the book’s stories themselves. So I'm thinking about doing a stock photo-based version of the swag using’s software and hope to have them available for Sinister. If I can crank these out on time I’ll either have them on hand or at a swag table, so look out for me there and please feel free to say “hi” if you see me!

Empire's Comics Vault Halloween Comics Fest and Mini Con, Oct. 31: There will be plenty of free Halloween themed comics for both kids' and adults' trick-or-treat bags! But there will also be horror/monster comic book creators selling signed copies of their work, a pumpkin carving contest and a costume contest.

For Our Far Out Neighbours . . .

And for those of you not in the area, below are two links to lists of Halloween/horror events throughout the nation. For those of you outside the U.S.: sorry, I haven't been able to find anything referring to events in your areas, since Halloween is mostly a North American, U.K. and Irish holiday (but I'm not familiar with the sources of these last two). Try doing a Google search using the phrase "horror conventions near me”. To tell you the truth, I'm not even familiar with the sources below that much, so please contact the facilitators of these events before making a trip. This one is a calendar for the entire year, so for October events you need to scroll down towards the bottom.

Preview of Coming Attractions

Next time I'd like to talk about one of the two movies Gerrit Graham (mentioned above) played in, Phantom of the Paradise. I've been fascinated with this movie for a long time, as much as it freaked me out (partly because I was too young to get the satire) when I first saw it when I was 14. I think I said I would also discuss childhood bullies and horror fiction, and I may have a Halloween treat tale for you at the end of the month. So join me here next week to find out more!

Is there any great Halloween events you know of that didn’t make it on the above list? If so, list them in the box below, especially if they’re outside Sacramento!

Until then . . .

A doll dressed in a Mexican Day of the Dead costume.
My auntie put a Day of the Dead costume on this "Barbie" doll . . . permanently!
Photo Credit: Yolanda Cota

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Book Giveaway and Keeping Up with the Science Behind Sci Fi

A Change In Offerings

I got so tired of waiting for Amazon to reflect the reduced price for the hardcopy of Fool's Illusion that I decided to change the 2nd Anniversary offer to an ebook giveaway. So between now and 11:59 PM Tuesday the 3rd of October you can download a free digital copy of The Fool'sIllusion. You do not need a Kindle device to download or read. If you click on the link that says “Read On Any Device” at the book’s Amazon page, you can download a free app that allows you to read the book on your desktop, laptop or any handheld device the app supports.

 A Change In Topics: Sci Fact In Sci Fi

Diagram of a table holding a meter device at each end with a disk tethered to each.
Photo Credit:


Last week I said that I might discuss my options for publishing my upcoming book, The Hidden. However, I decided to switch topics and discuss science fact in science fiction, which I kind of went over last time, particularly in relation to the story I'm presently working on. But I thought I would go into a little more detail about it because I came across a neat article on The Washington Post's website that talks about fact-checking in light of Ridley Scott’s new movie that just premiered in theatres yesterday--The Martian. The movie is based on author Andy Weir’s book of the same name.

The article, “Fact-Checking the Science of ‘The Martian’”, discusses the accuracies as well as inaccuracies of the science in the movie. The article's author, Rachel Feltman, presents a trailer that points out these hits and misses. This is very clever and helpful. The only problem is you can’t judge a movie’s level of factual accuracy by just a few scenes shown in a trailer. A critic would have to see the whole movie to do that . . .  uhem . . . accurately enough. But what can a person do when they’re writing about the movie before it's in theatres which I believe might’ve been Feltman’s case?

Aside from that, she gives a good analysis of those scenes shown in the trailer. While she says that “a lot of the science . . . in the film is accurate”, she discusses a few flaws. This includes the reason that the protagonist (played by Matt Damon), who is stranded on the red planet, creates his own water from a “chemical reaction” he produces. She says that, while the method is realistically done, the purpose is not since, as the world discovered only earlier this week, there is liquid water on Mars that can more easily be extracted. However, this inaccuracy that is in the implication that liquid water is inaccessible in Martian geography, was inevitable because of the timing of producing the film. Therefore it can't be blamed on the writers or producers.

This improbability of a tedious method of creating water, however, is an example of how quickly science fiction can become “outdated”. I put “outdated” in quotes because, as I talked about in an earlier post, science fiction in certain respects doesn’t really become outdated. However, with technology advancing faster each day and enabling science to come up with more efficient methods of research and study, we sci fi writers have to keep up with the trends more than we did two or three decades ago.

Keeping Up With the Trends

So how can we science fiction writers do this? Harlan Ellison once said he keeps up with the trends by reading Scientific American which I've read myself both in print and digital. This was as much as 10 years ago though, when the trends did not move as quickly as they do now (and they're going to move even faster yet!). As much as I prefer print material over digital, my suggestion is to keep up with them online since many of these magazines and journals on the web post new stories every day. Here's a few of the ones I read:

· (The name tells you how fast the news in science comes in this one!)

And a great source that I just found out about today is science fiction writer/genetic research scientist Dan Koboldt's Science In Sci Fi, Fact In Fantasy.  This is a fantastic one to read over even if you just want to learn which stories contain accurate science. I strongly suggest you check it out.

Preview of Coming Attractions

We're now in the Halloween season, one of my favourite seasons of the year! So starting next week, I plan to discuss horror authors, one in particular whose stories are inspired by her experiences as a victim of childhood bullies. Also I'll talk a little about the upcoming horror con, a premiere here in Sacramento, Sinister Con.

So until then . . .