Your Quarantine Entertainment Guide

Welcome to the Covid-19 apocalypse. What a bizarre time we’re living in—everyone is understandably feeling uneasy about their health and financial situations. Unfortunately, there’s not much we can do about these things until we have a better grip on just what the heck is happening out there. So, in the meantime, we can all use a way to pass the time as we sit in our homes, waiting. Being as productive as possible isn’t a terrible idea, but we also need some entertainment to fill out the endless hours.

If you’re like me, nothing keeps out the bad thoughts better than streaming TV shows and movies. So, I thought I’d pass along my list of stuff you should definitely check out right now. Go HERE for a list of my favorite horror movies from last year, all of which are available for rent or free on several streaming services.

horror, Horror movies, top 10 of the decade

A Decade of Horror

The 2010s—the decade horror became elevated. I’m not sure what that means, but I agree this was a golden age of horror. We saw wonderful performances and storytelling by some of the most talented up-and-coming directors in the business. Setting out to create a top ten list from such a substantial sample size is a fool’s errand, but I’m a sucker for these things, so what the heck. I’ll push mine out there and see what you think. I doubt most of my list will be a great shock, especially to horror nuts, but there may be one or two you’ve not seen before.

What was my method for choosing the films on this list? Aside from picking my favorites, I didn’t have one. I suppose each of these movies impressed me and kept me thinking about them days or even weeks later. They’re also the kinds of films I showed to friends and family. Re-watchability factored somewhat into my thinking, as did the singularity of the filmmaker’s vision and skill.

So, here we go…

horror, Horror movies

Horror 2019

Merry Christmas!

First off, I just want to say this has been one crazy year for the Speak-Reeves family, after moving across the damned country to settle back in my hometown of Bettendorf. I can’t say it’s all gone according to plan—in fact, almost nothing has happened like we planned it—but we’re settling in OK and figuring things out. Reznor is doing very well academically, though moving to a new town/school is the LAST thing a fourteen-year-old wants to do. We’re all more than a little homesick, even now. Michelle’s been hard at work—like, fingers-to-the-bone style—and Speak Art Studio is growing because of it. I think 2020 will be a good one for our family.

Also, this next year should see the release of at least one, or maybe two new books by the end of 2020. In February, I will launch a Kickstarter campaign to fund the editing, cover design, and marketing of my new novel The Last House. I’ll be posting more about that after the new year! And I continue to work through the draft of the third Bettendorf Tales novel.

My Favorite Horror 2019

2019 was another good year for horror—not as stellar as 2018, but it sure had some great moments. Three of the young auteurs had new offerings this past year, all of whom further pushed the boundaries of the genre. Though I can’t say any of their sophomore efforts quite rose to the level of their debut films, they remained well worth seeing and two of them made my list. So, without further ado, here are my ten favorite horror movies of 2019. A lot of these films are on the Shudder streaming service, so if you don’t have it, I highly recommend subscribing.

This list is not my idea of the “best” horror movies of the year, just my personal favorites set into some kind of order only because I enjoy that kind of thing. Several other films could have made it here, but these were ultimately the ones I settled on.

Horror movies, Uncategorized

Ten Haunted House Movies For Halloween

Halloween is just around the corner, and if you’re like me, this month has been all about watching scary movies. My personal favorites are the ones with ghosts. For me, there’s nothing like a good old fashioned haunted house tale. And if you haven’t subscribed to Shudder, AMC’s horror movie streaming service, I highly recommend you do so for at least a month. For the cost of what you’d spend on a typical rental, you get a month’s access to a huge catalog of horror movies, including many you’ve probably never seen.

So, here’s a list of some of my favorites, in no particular order. I tried to slip in a few movies you may not have seen, just to keep it from being too obvious.


Getting There

Wow. We did it. We’re in Iowa. How did that happen? It all seems like a dream, even now. A fuzzy dream with a million blurry images mixed together.

Memories of packing a multitude of boxes then loading a moving pod with all our stuff, thinking the whole time we won’t have enough room for everything. Of trying to decide what we need  and what we don’t, what we can live without and what we can’t. Of reassuring Reznor that, yes, we know what we’re doing—and hoping we sound convincing.

Of sharing a hundred tearful goodbyes throughout the month of July. Of the slow trudge through summer school and the rising dread of leaving Northpoint. The humbling joy of our going-away party with all our best friends and family coming out to spend one last afternoon with us, then that mountain-top feeling giving way as the last guests trickled out of our favorite hangout, Trustworthy Brewery, leaving Michelle and me to return to our empty apartment, tearful and overwhelmed with second-guesses. We fell asleep thinking about getting there.

Crow Creek, Devils Glen, Uncategorized, writing

Iowa: The Return!

We’re moving back to Bettendorf! Well, it’s “back” for me, but my family will experience Iowa life for the first time—I’m curious to see how they handle their first Midwest winter. I know they’ll love fall and they’ll eventually get used to the summer humidity, but I pray the polar vortex you guys had last winter doesn’t become an annual occurrence or I’ll be getting some dirty looks in the house from January through March.

horror, writing

Query Letters and Slow-Moving Sequels

Hey all! This past month has been busy-busy, as I’m sure it has been for all of you. The school year is winding down for our family. Some big plans are looming on the horizon, so we’re nervous and excited, but overall hopeful.


Last week, I sent out my first round of query letters to literary agents for my latest manuscript, The Last house. Hopefully, we’ll hear something positive in the next couple of months. You never know. If the right book hits the right agent at just the right time, it could all work out. Kind of like how things worked out for Devils Glen with Kindle Scout.

For those who don’t know, a query letter is basically an email you send out to potential agents describing your book. You tell a brief one or two paragraph blurb-like synopsis, a hook line, author bio, and information like genre and word count. Usually, you include a chapter or two for them to read. If an agent likes what he or she sees, they might request a full or partial manuscript. If not, you usually get a form letter rejection. Most books get loads of rejections before they get even a request for full or partial. It’s a long process, but I think this book has potential.

Devils Glen, horror, Kindle, Uncategorized

Devils Glen New Cover!

Hey all! Devils Glen has had a mini-relaunch with a new cover and a new edit. No major changes have occurred to the story, but I have cleaned things up a little. Here’s the new cover:

I love the mood, and the thumbnail definitely pops on Amazon. This week, we’re running a promo! The Kindle version will be FREE from Tuesday April 16th through Thursday April 18th, so tell your friends who haven’t read it yet and get a free copy today!

authors, writing

Rough Drafts and Refunds

Hey all! Hope you’re all making it through this crazy winter. Out here in Southern California it’s not so bad, but our friends and family in the Midwest have had it tough. I’m thinking about you guys!

Last House Update—Cheers!

As you know if you’re following me on Facebook, I’ve finished the rough draft of my next novel, The Last House, and am letting it sit on the back burner for some weeks while I work on another project. Those of you who pre-ordered it on Inkshares will receive refunds this week. I only put the book up on Inkshares to enter it in the 2018 Horror Novel Contest.

What’s next? I will get back to working on the next draft by mid-April and I plan to query it out to agents as soon as I’ve got a solid draft ready. It may be quite some time before you get to read it, but I’ve got high hopes for this one.

editing software, Self-publishing, writing, writing software

Tools of Writing

Laptop on a work table with DIY and construction tools all around top view hobby and crafts concept

Just as a painter requires a brush, canvas, palette, and easel, a writer needs specific tools to create a story. These days, authors use a wide variety of programs to improve almost everything about their work—from editing and plotting, to formatting and publishing.

Below, I’ve listed several basic programs useful for any kind of writing.