Super Short Story Formula! This Is Boss and Should Be Read!

26 04 2015

How to write a short story from author Vylar Kaftan!

Ever Ask Yourself “Why Am I In THIS Skin?”

22 04 2015

We are four-dimensional bubbles filled with blood and illusions. Sealed at one end by our birth and at the other with the darkness we will never see until too late. Walled by a too-permeable membrane against a violent and cunning world.

That breath you just took could be your last. Or that breath. Or that one.

Why confront YOUR mortality?

Read about a doomed couple of awe-inspiring mystics as they confront THEIR mortality.

Your doom is waiting.

Put it off by reading THE FLESH SUTRA. Read it today.


A Sympathetic Victim: What I Learned from “Unfriended” and “It Follows”

17 04 2015

How do you generate sympathy for your characters? Two movies offer an object lesson.
I watched “Unfriended” and “It Follows” over the last few weekends. Both movies deal with the perils of teen relationships and sexuality using rather rote horror tropes. How the movies differ hinges on culpability and betrayal, and their different treatments of teen community.
“Unfriended” is just as you see in the commercials. A high school girl is drunk-shamed on YouTube which makes her decide to commit suicide. A year later, the girl’s friends are visited during an online chat by the dead girl’s ghost.
“It Follows” features a distillation of all ’80’s slasher monsters: an implacable, mute, supernatural murderer visible only to its prey. The creature is a curse passed through sexual intercourse, making someone truly and well-fucked if caught by the monster.
In “Unfriended”, the ghost reveals the betrayals hidden among a group of friends. “It Follows” shows a group of friends rallying to help a girl being followed by “It”.
The basic difference between the two is that we want the contemporary kids in “Unfriended” to get their comeuppance. They make catty remarks about each other, speak ill of the dead girl, and indulge in lots of booze, drug-dealing, and sex. The kids in “It Follows” live in a more romantic, surreal world. Their suburb is 1960s generic ranch housing with 1980s vehicles parked out front, and their pockets filled with cellphones and e-readers. That romanticism plays out in the kids personalities. They hangout on each others lawns, chide each other gently, even apologize at offense.
It’s said that to make a character sympathetic, give the character a pet. In these movies, I saw that a supportive family made the kids in “It Follows” seem kinder, even more kid-like as parents and cops swoop in to handle break-ins, accidents, and deaths. Aside from an ignored yapping dog, there are no other signs of life or love in “Unfriended.”
So, getting along with others, having others care, and having a pet will get the audience’s sympathy?
Not quite. “Unfriended” is much like “Tales From The Crypt” in that the kids are transgressors (two of the boys are criminals) being forced to own up to their betrayal of their friend. “It Follows” has a group of who are protecting one of their own by passing that curse to someone outside of their social circle.
Depending on how a writer would resolve either situation, either group could be heroes or villains. The ghost wants regret. Does the Final Girl take responsibility for her actions? The monster seems unstoppable. Does that Final Girl contain it to keep society safe?
The assumption of responsibility creates sympathy. Keeping wits and guile creates sympathy. If the characters already have gained sympathy, their failure would heighten their humanity.
Hi Horror! How ya doin’?
So bravery, compassion, and mature responsibility aid in creating sympathy.
I’m glad I thought this out. I found this useful for upcoming projects.
By the way, go see “It Follows”. Its clever, artful, and its soundtrack kicks ass. Wait for “Unfriended” on a small screen. You’ll save money and the movie will actually improve when watched through your computer.

Why Just Be “YOU”? Read One Of The Thirteen Best Horror Novels of 2014

12 04 2015

Horror is the last bastion of pure, untrammeled Freudian Id in genre. The horror buff demands Sensation! Usually with a slam of brawny fist on the dinner table, a slam making the wine glass shake and trickle from its brim of A Horrid, Mind-Breaking Tonic.

Horror buffs breathe while the mundane yearn.

Are you Mundane? Become Buff!

Here is your tonic. Take it!


“In THE FLESH SUTRA Tim W. Burke has charted a diabolical, metaphysical odyssey for his main characters, a journey that will take you through Death itself… and back out the other side.”
— Shawn Garrett, Pseudopod



The HWA Declared My Novel One Of The Ten Best* of 2014

1 04 2015

Every Autumn, the Horror Writers of America solicit works published that calender year. The novels are read by a jury of professional horror authors. The jury culls the enormous stack of books and selects ten to be the preliminary ballot for the Bram Stoker Award.
“The Flesh Sutra” was on that ballot.
That novel is one of the ten best horror novels published in 2014.

*Ok, let’s not quibble that Stephen King, Joe Hill, and Dean Koontz did not submit their books for consideration. Because you don’t want to be a “quibbler” about three books. Quibbling…man, that’s a one-way road to Quibbletown. And Quibbletown’s smiling motto is “We’re The Gateway To OBLIVION”.
Body horror and spiritual examination in the tradition of Clive Barker.

The editor of “Space and Time” declared  “Combining horror, spirituality, dark humor and romance, it weaves a spell around the reader from the first page and won’t release you until the last.” She joins the ranks of professionals bestowing glowing reviews.

Stop quibbling. Join those professionals who are SOMEWHERE. Read “The Flesh Sutra” today.


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