Where’s the Diversity, Hollywood? Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blockbusters Overwhelmingly White, Male

Important part of reality. We need diverse books, and we need diverse representation in mainstream media….very thoughtful informational post. Must read!

the open book

Summer blockbuster season is in full swing. For many moviegoers, that means escaping to a galaxy far, far away—or perhaps just a different version of our own planet Earth—through science fiction and fantasy movies. As fans clamor for the latest cinematic thrills, we decided to focus our next Diversity Gap study on the level of racial and gender representation in these ever-popular genres that consistently rake in the big bucks for movie studios. We reviewed the top 100 domestic grossing sci-fi and fantasy films as reported by Box Office Mojo. The results were staggeringly disappointing, if not surprising in light of our past Diversity Gap studies of the Tony Awards, the Emmy Awards, the children’s book industry, The New York Times Top 10 Bestseller List, US politics, and the Academy Awards, where we analyzed multi-year samplings and found a disturbingly consistent lack of…

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Dirty Beautiful Words

A review of the new book of poetry, Dirty Beautiful Words by Brooklyn Brayl.

So, if the title didn’t get me, mellifluous as it is, I was hooked by the second poem. In Brooklyn’s own hand, “It’s all just poems I’ve bled before” and her words truly bleed with raw emotion.

The collection of poems is a larger than life yet humble coming out story of a transgendered soul struggling out of her cocoon. But this review isn’t about that, because Brooklyn’s words transcend her own hardship and she brings a voice not just to transgendered youth, non-binaries, queer gender, questioners, and those struggling with the seething monster we call identity, but also  to everyone who has ever looked in the mirror and been enchanted yet poisoned by what they saw.

There is much evocation here, without getting dreary and emo, a line that is often hard to walk with class, not to mention five inch heels.

Her words literally jump out at you and she creates a tension between the mundane and the mysterious, between the subtle and the erotic, between the god and the goddess.

Succinct social commentary woven with harsh truths and raw vulnerability make her lyrical poems something magical, a force all their own, and truly pleasurable to read.

A little dirty, a lot beautiful, and completely surprising, Brooklyn Brayl’s Dirty Beautiful Words is an excellent debut and brings a fresh, vibrant voice to a generation who is tired of saying what is expected and ready to tell it like it is.

I highly recommend this to anyone. You can find Dirty Beautiful Words on Amazon.



Phobias for your writing, character development, horror, thriller

Here is a new angle for your horror, thriller, or psychological stories. Perhaps vampires are people who simply suffer from Alliumphobia, Phengophobia?

Or maybe you use these phobias to bring depth and mood to your pieces. Which ones scare you? Chances are they scare your readers too.

Alternatively, you can use these phobias to develop your characters even if you story has nothing to do with horror. Even the bravest characters have fears….

Metrophobia – Fear or hatred of poetry.

Deipnophobia – fear of dinner parties.

Arithmophobia – fear of numbers.

Selenophobia – fear of the moon.

Octophobia – fear of the number 8.

Hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia – fear of the number 666.

Sesquipedalophobia – fear of long words.

Alliumphobia – Fear of garlic.

Venustraphobia – fear of beautiful women.

Samhainophobia – Fear of Halloween.

Philophobia – Fear of falling in love.

Chirophobia – Fear of hands.

Paraskavedekatriaphobia – Fear of Friday the 13th.

Sciaphobia – Fear of Shadows.

Nyctohylophobia – Fear of the woods at night.

Panophobia – Fear of everything.

Aichmophobia- Fear of needles or pointed objects.

Anthophobia- Fear of flowers.

Asymmetriphobia- Fear of asymmetrical things.

Autophobia- Fear of being alone or of oneself.

Bacillophobia- Fear of microbes.

Barophobia- Fear of gravity.

Cacophobia- Fear of ugliness.

Catoptrophobia- Fear of mirrors.

Chromophobia or Chromatophobia- Fear of colors.

Chronophobia- Fear of time.

Chronomentrophobia- Fear of clocks.

Clinophobia- Fear of going to bed.

Coimetrophobia- Fear of cemeteries.

Decidophobia- Fear of making decisions.

Disposophobia- Fear of throwing stuff out. Hoarding.

Dysmorphophobia- Fear of deformity.

Eisoptrophobia- Fear of mirrors or of seeing oneself in a mirror.

Gephyrophobia or Gephydrophobia or Gephysrophobia- Fear of crossing bridges.

Haphephobia or Haptephobia- Fear of being touched.

Homichlophobia- Fear of fog.

Mnemophobia- Fear of memories.

Wiccaphobia: Fear of witches and witchcraft.

Verbophobia- Fear of words.

Trypanophobia- Fear of injections.

Theatrophobia- Fear of theatres.

Staurophobia- Fear of crosses or the crucifix.

Spectrophobia- Fear of specters or ghosts.

Somniphobia- Fear of sleep.

Sociophobia- Fear of society or people in general.

Snakephobia- Fear of snakes. (Ophidiophobia)

Seplophobia- Fear of decaying matter.

Potamophobia- Fear of rivers or running water.

Porphyrophobia- Fear of the color purple.

Photophobia- Fear of light.

Oneirophobia- Fear of dreams.

Philosophobia- Fear of philosophy.

Pogonophobia- Fear of beards.

Placophobia- Fear of tombstones.

Phengophobia- Fear of daylight or sunshine.

Onomatophobia- Fear of hearing a certain word or of names.

Oenophobia- Fear of wines.

Neophobia- Fear of anything new.

Nephophobia- Fear of clouds.

Noctiphobia- Fear of the night.

Nomatophobia- Fear of names.

Nosocomephobia- Fear of hospitals.

Found these here: http://phobialist.com/

Horror ( Screen) Writing Excercises & Prompts

So, I’m finally getting into horror. And for my horror buff friends: yes, you were right, I was a liar all along.

It took me some time to get here, and I had to convince myself I was writing “thriller” or “psycological thriller” for a while before I was able to come out of the boogey man’s closet and just admit: I fucking love scary shit. It just happens to be my “own brand” of scary shit. But at the end of the day, it is horror – a story that is designed to spook.

I personally love the slow, subtle, build up, of utter, absolute, ambiguous, oh my freaking god, what the eff is that, am I going crazy, kind of terror that delves not only into the outer world of monsters and mayhem, but also looks at what lurks within.

In the midst of all this, I decided to migrate my musing into Celtx and write in screenplay format. I think visually, I write my novels visually, and maybe my visuals are more important than my prose. Especially when we’re talking about haunted forests and The Thing with Two Faces.

And I sat down, looked at all the white, empty space, and basically had no where to go. I had a setting, which was seriously freaking me out, since I was staring at it out my back window, but where were the characters?

I googled “Horror screenwriting prompts” and surprise, I didn’t find what I was looking for. So I took a moment and attacked it in an epeological way: if I was a horror screenwriting professor, what kind of assignment would I give my students?


Horror (Screen) Writing Exercise #1

1. think of the most frightening setting possible. (Remember, your scary shit needs to scare you first, otherwise it wont stick to the page, or the screen.)

2. write down three things that are not usually associated with horror or spook, it can be objects like a tangerine, or a bottle of beer, or it could ideas, like love, honor, or courage, it could be people, like a newspaper delivery boy, or the milkman. Maybe try a combo of all three?

3. Now write a scene that begins in your setting and incorporate at least two of the three things, but here’s the kicker: make them scary or part of the spook of the scenery.

These aren’t set in stone, obviously, and who gives a rats patootie about what I think anyway, but remember these are prompts to get you going, not to define your novel or script. Although, they could, who knows? Maybe there is a haunted forest in which a haunted tangerine tree grows? Hmm…


Horror (Screen) Writing Exercise #2

That didn’t do it for you?

Write the scariest scene you can imagine and work on it until every detail in your mind is clear. What are the smells, the sounds, the colors, the mood. What does it make you think, feel? What part of the scene is scary. Is it just scary? Or are there certain elements that make it scary? Expound.


Horror (Screen) Writing Exercise #3

Write a juxtaposed scene where the setting is not scary or spooky at all, ie: a bright, warm summer day; or a little league baseball game; or playing with kittens or something like that. try to create a sense of well being and safety in your scene. Then smash through it with something horrifying.


Bonus Prompt!

I created this desktop wallpaper out of my own fears (see, I told you, I was a secret horror junkie). You can download the desktop wallpaper here, and write a scary story or scene based on it. wooooooooo……

The Raven Man

The Raven Man


Still stuck? Check out Diabolique Strategies for mischievous little provocations for your increased creepiness.

Hope you enjoyed this! If you have any prompts or exercises or advice, please share below. Happy slashing.


Thrift Store Novelist

Writing Exercise

Go to one or more thrift stores, find the weirdest object/thing you can (you don’t have to buy it, just study it real well) and then write about it. What is it? What color? Texture? What is used for? Who owned it? Why is it in a thrift store? Where did it come from? Who bought it originally?

Do this with more than one item over the course of however many days it takes. Then sit down and create a short story / dialogue / scene that contains as many of the items you wrote about as you can.

*bonus prompt: write about the book in the picture below. What is written inside? Anything? Who was the author? How old is it? Where did it come from? Is it expensive? What kind of stories are told in a book like that?

Book found here

Book found here


Paranormal Romance Writing Prompts

Here are 10 paranormal romance writing prompts to flutter the pulse and horripilate the tender, succulent heart.

'When the dead walk' available  here

‘When the dead walk’ available here

The love of your life dies in a car crash but you still see him/her in your dreams. Soon, other people you see in your dreams start to bleed into waking life. You start looking for the love of your life…

You suspect your significant other is cheating on you, you follow them and find out that they are, with a vampire! (Werewolf! Alien!)

A necromancer accidentally brings a very handsome prince back from the dead…

A woman’s boyfriend leaves every month on the full moon. Suspecting he’s a werewolf, she follows him, finds out he’s actually a were____.

A Sasquatch abducts you because he needs you to heal his sick family. Cue beauty and the beast redux.

A man wins a vacation at a resort, but upon arriving he realizes an old flame works there, but she can’t ever leave…

A succubus leaves the love of her life because she doesn’t want to hurt him.

A vampire is “stalking” a woman. She threatens him with a broken table leg. As soon as he leaves, she is attacked by….

A psychic has a hard time with relationships because she always knows what is going to happen, and how much she will dislike the men she dates in the future.

A tarot reader keeps getting the same card over and over and over again. One day she sees a man with the card tattooed on him.

*bonus prompt: write a short story set in the painting above!

Unusual Words for Writing Prompts

Here are several websites about curious, old, and unused words you can use to A) build your vocabulary B) create interesting writing prompts, short story ideas, or plot movements, characters &ETC

For example:

Lucubration /ˌlo͞ok(y)əˈbrāSHən/ noun formal

the act of studying by candlelight ; nocturnal study ; meditation

that which is composed by night; that which is produced by meditation in retirement; hence (loosely) any literary composition

a piece of writing, typically a pedantic or overelaborate one.

Now take lucubration and craft a short story, writing prompt, or simply start writing about what it makes you think of. Use it in a sentence. Write two paragraphs about someone who lucubrates.

Here are great sites that give many many words to learn and choose from. Happy epeoltarification.


Curios Words & Phrases

A decent list of very unusual words like wimbler, squinch, & ailurophile.


Unused Words

Quite a copacetic list, and handily categorized by noun, verb & adjective.


Etymologically Speaking

A curios list of rather familiar words, with a bonus of telling you where they are from, settings, histories galore!


The Encyclopedia of Arda

A swell list of archaic or unusual words used in Tolkien’s works.


The Best Old English Words

Only 13 words, but stupendous nonetheless.


Bizarre, Old, Outdated or Weird Words

A little outdated itself, but still a good list.


Bonus Video! 40 weird words and their origins



Tarot cards as writing tools

Cartomancy  /ˈkärtəˌmansē/ noun

fortune-telling by interpreting a random selection of playing cards.

Here is an easy way to use tarot cards to generate plot, setting, characters, conflict, inner emotions and writing prompts.


‘Strength’ available here

If you don’t have one already, buy a tarot deck with a tarot book, or, you can download a free tarot app on your smartphone, though working with the actual cards is easiest for me.

Shuffle, pick out cards. See what combos you make. Look in the book and try some spreads. Or put cards together randomly. You can read the descriptions in the guide for an in depth look at the card meanings. They are rife with symbolism and archetypes. Use the combos to prompt your writing! Learn more about the universe in the process.

Look for archetypes on the cards, from there, narrow down your characters. Is your character a priestess archetype but a stay at home mom? The king of pentacles may be an accountant, or successful businessman. The knight of cups may indicate a love interest. The knight of swords might indicate a love interest in a action/adventure story, or a love interest with anger issues. The chariot might be a taxi driver. The star might be the protagonists dream girl. ETC.

Create plot by layering cards on top of your characters. Do they face heartbreak (3 of swords), destruction (the lightning stuck tower), does one get pregnant? Etc. Is their jealousy? Where is the jealousy? At work? In the home? The symbols on the cards will create conflict if you look for it.

Look for setting in the backgrounds of your cards. Are they in a city? A home? The country? Is there a mountain? A forest? What combinations have you made? Do the cards indicate travel?

Here is a basic structure you can use:

Major Arcana: major character archetypes and big plot movements, plot arcs

Suit of cups: emotion, romance, drama, love, water

Suit of pentacles: money, career, the home, family, earth

Suit of wands: creativity, passion, spirituality, sex, fire

Suit of swords: conflict, violence, tragedy, battle-scenes, protection, air

Page cards: young man or woman, message, communications

Knight cards: romantic lead, hero archetypes, competition?

Queen cards: leading ladies, matriarchs, women on top, competition?

King cards: action/political/patriarch leads, the chief archetypes, villains?


Take it a step further and do “readings” for your characters. Take notes and use them to build emotional profiles or to add depth to your characters’ motivations.

Happy writing!

Horror, Sci Fi, Thriller & Fantasy Writing Prompts

Here are 20 writing prompts for the epeolatrists. Happy writing.

'The lone rider' available here

‘The lone rider’ available here

You have a dream about something horrific or terrifying and in your dream you take a picture of it with your cell phone. In the morning, you discover the picture is actually on your phone.

Your significant other/housemate comes home, staggering, foamy blood running down their chin, eyes gone yellow and bulging. Before you can react, they spit all over you.

Your mother insists on hanging a spooky portrait of your grandmother over the fireplace. You swear her eyes follow you. One night, you hear a noise and come downstairs, the portrait above the fireplace is empty.

You just got offered a job at a high tech company to work on super computers. As you are walking home that night you are accosted by yourself, from the future.

One day you realize that everything you write in a particular notebook comes true…

You are having a wonderful afternoon with your sweetheart, in a meadow of wildflowers by a river. Your sweetheart starts running father and farther away, the sky darkens, you look down and notice a needle in your arm. You come to in a hospital bed, strapped down.

An orphan learns her adoptive parents died five years ago…

A woman has never been to the ocean before, and her parents never let her. When she runs away and jumps in the ocean for the first time she grows gills…

A spaceship crash lands in your backyard. A man stumbles out of the wreckage and says the human colony on Mars is collapsing, they need help…

You have a dream that the world ends, the next morning you wake up and the events of your dream start happening.

You find incredibly old writing on a cave wall deep in the mountains, upon searching deeper you find a detailed sarcophagus that looks exactly like you. But there is no mummy in it.

In the future, you live in a completely automated home, but eventually, the AI gets a crush on you and becomes psychotically obsessive. “Where were you last night?”

Digging up your backyard to plant a garden in your new home, you find a witches jar, full of broken glass, nails, thorns, and blades. Disgusted, you throw it out. That night your new home comes under attack.

Every time your house mate’s new boyfriend comes round your cat spits and howls and runs away.

Your boyfriend gives you an antique locket, but when you polish it later that night, an incredibly sexy genii (djinn) comes out.
You go through something traumatic, and move to the other side of the country to escape it, but something follows you…

Your girlfriend starts acting weird and you suspect she is cheating. When you follow her, you see her get abducted by two men in a black SUV.

Your girlfriend starts acting weird and you suspect she is cheating. When you follow her, you see her kick the shit out of two goons.

When you go to your car after work it is gone. When the taxi pulls up to your block, your house is gone, there is an empty lot with a dingy for sale sign. When you try to call your husband/wife, they have no idea who you are. You try to check into a motel, but your credit cards are not recognized.

You are an alien who was given an assignment on earth to infiltrate their society in order to study them in a non invasive way. You find out that you have actually been transmitting a deadly virus that will wipe out the human race. Your blood is the only antidote. You try to approach the humans and help, but they lock you in a cell and torture you. You seriously consider not helping them….


*bonus prompt: write a short story set in the painting above.