Part I: Making of The Vital Sacrifice – The Invisible Race of Djinn

Image courtesy of © Ruslan Kokarev | # 11325218

ATLANTA – Written by M.L. Childs, Paranormal Romance Author, Screenwriter, Copywriter and Dramatic Historian

When I stopped wishing I could be a writer and I actually sat down to write my first novel, The Vital Sacrifice, I decided that I wanted it to be a love story between my two main characters, Teresa McMillan and Ali Rahman.  My initial drafts set their love story in the past during the time of the Spanish Inquisition, but something kept urging me to make it a present-day tale. So, I put the drafts of their past romance aside and began working on their modern love story.

As I was formulating their contemporary romance, I was pleased with its development, but I felt that their past romance had relevance in my tale. How could I juxtapose a story set during the 1500s with the present-day?

That’s when a light bulb came on in my head.  As I pondered how to fit both tales into one storyline, I remembered that my favorite horror film, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, tied in a historical love story between Count Dracula and Mina.  She and Dracula were lovers during 15th century Romania and they crossed paths again in late 19th century Victorian England.  Dracula was a paranormal entity who lived for many years feasting off the blood of humans which was how he was able to see Mina again.  I concluded that if I was going to weave Ali and Teresa’s past and present together, I would have to make Ali a paranormal character; however, I didn’t want to write a vampire tale.  I needed to create a unique paranormal love story that was different from what was already on the market.

I thought about using other paranormal creatures such as werewolves, zombies or ghosts but none of these inspired me.  The genie in the lamp tale intrigued me but I didn’t want my love story to be about Teresa rubbing a lamp and out comes Ali, the man of her dreams.  Since I was creating an adult love story, I didn’t want my tale to morph into a children’s novel by using the genie in the traditional sense that we are familiar with in western culture. Therefore, I had to reconstruct the whole idea of how we perceive genies in this culture.

When I researched genies, I discovered that they are much more than the playful entities that we see in Aladdin tales.  Eastern cultures, which refer to the genie as Djinn, have cunning and somewhat vicious interpretations of what these creatures are.  My research revealed that these entities exist in a world similar to our own but they are invisible to the human eye.  They also live much longer than humans and have different classifications ranging from the playful types that we see in Hollywood to much scarier ones.

After realizing that I didn’t have to stick to the genie in a lamp cliché, I begin to work diligently developing a genie that didn’t play by the rules of lamp enslavement and instead existed on his own terms.   My genie characters were half-men half-genies but live longer than their human counterparts.  This paranormal character was the glue that I needed to link Ali and Teresa’s past romance to the present one and this changed my story from a romance to a paranormal romance novel.

Follow this blog to learn more about how I developed the paranormal novel, The Vital Sacrifice.  


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Image courtesy of © Ruslan Kokarev |


Who is Chasing this Famous Singer?

Image of a woman being chased by a paranormal entity in an alley - The Vital Sacrifice Promotional ad

Renowned songstress, Teresa McMillan, has recurring nightmares about a creature who walks out of her dreams and into her waking life disguised as a gorgeous stranger by the name of Ali Rahman who wants to make her his.


Get your copy of this thrilling paranormal romance novel today!  Click the link below to buy, The Vital Sacrifice.  Don’t forget to follow my blog page and subscribe to my quarterly newsletter to learn about book giveaways and other freebies.

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Image composition courtesy of Scott Hill Design

Lady in red image courtesy of By VladGavriloff | Shutterstock

Disclaimer:  The woman’s image used in this post is a stock image and is used for promotional purposes only.  

Film Review From a Screenwriter’s Perspective – Us, Directed By Jordan Peele

ATLANTA – Written by M.L. Childs, Paranormal Romance Author, Screenwriter, Copywriter and Dramatic Historian

When it comes to film, we screenwriters know or should have an idea of when things should take place within a film to keep the audience’s interest.  We refer to this as the story structure.  Directors that adhere to the story structure deliver an outstanding product.  Those that don’t tend to make us snooze or leave the theater.  As a screenwriter, I like to watch and review films from a screenwriter’s perspective to see if the movie plays by screenwriting structure rules.  This month, I am reviewing the film Us written and directed by Jordan Peele.

Act One 

Does the first act introduce us to all of the essential characters in the film including the hero?

Yes.  Act One introduces all of the people that we see for the rest of the film.  Adelaide Wilson is the hero.

What is the want and need of the hero?

Adelaide’s want is for all of the doppelganger class to be free.  Her need is for her to face her doppelganger and get rid of it once and for all and join the rest of the freed doppelgangers.


Inciting Incident 

Was there an inciting incident at least 10-15 minutes into the film?

Yes.  The inciting incident was when Adelaide wandered off from her parents while she was at the beach carnival and goes into “Merlin’s Forest – Find Yourself” hall of mirrors and sees a reflection of herself in the mirror that was her twin self.


Plot Point One and Act Two

How was the hero’s journey complicated?

Adelaide’s mission is complicated when the family shows up in the driveway.  This scene is plot point one and the introduction of Act Two.



What is the point of no return or what is dramatically different now?

The midpoint is when the family turns on the television and sees that this is no longer just their problem but a problem that everyone is having with their “tethered” selves.  The family realizes that there will be no one coming to save them and that they have to face these creatures themselves.


Plot Point Two

Is the hero’s journey complicated, even more, an hour and a half into the film?

Yes. When Adelaide’s doppelganger takes Adelaide’s son whom she vowed to protect, this raises the stakes, and she has to face her doppelganger fearlessly to save her son.  This scene is plot point two and the introduction of Act Three.


Act Three

Is the hero’s internal and external dilemma resolved?

Both the hero’s internal (need) and (want) external dilemma are resolved .  Adelaide realizes her external want for the doppelganger race to be free when we see all of the people in red holding hands across American in the same way that the eerie commercial alludes to in Act one.  Also, Adelaide fulfills her personal internal need when she defeats her twin and is finally “tethered” from her evil twin.


What seems to be the theme of the film?

The theme seems to be as follows:

In the U.S., everyone has an evil twin that is residing in dark, vacant caves, living terrible lives waiting for the opportunity to free themselves from bondage to kill and replace their twin so that they can live the perfect life that their good twin is living.


Overall Impression of the Film

All screenwriting technicalities aside, I think that Jordan Peele adheres to story structure very well.  He is both the writer and the director for the film, so this places him in a strong position to ensure that the storyline stays intact.  I was very impressed with how things unfolded and when they unfolded.  I felt that from a screenwriter’s point of view, he nailed this film in terms of sticking to the rules of screenwriting.

Many are talking about the confusion associated with the end of the movie; however.  For me, the only confusion I experienced was how the family would react to Adelaide being the true evil twin and their “real mother” being the one who was chasing them?  I guess this is what will lead us into a sequel.

Other things that people are talking about is the color red that the tethered class wore.  Jordan Peele seems to borrow this dominating color from the popular Hulu series, Handmaid’s Tale – played by Elizabeth Moth, the star of Handmaid’s Tale who also appears in Us as family friend, Kitty Tyler.  In Handmaid’s Tale, the red cloaks that the women wear represents their fertility.  I felt that the red in this film was chosen to represent the bloodshed that the tethered class would need to cause to be free.  The jumpsuits are similar to those that prisoners wear and seem to symbolize the fact that they are all united in bondage.  The red jumpsuits and the golden scissors seemed to go hand in hand symbolically representing the key to their freedom.

I’ve read where people are making comparisons of this film to Twilight Zone and Invasion of the Body Snatchers.  While I can definitely see the comparison, this film reminded me of the Planet of the Apes because a lower life form is seeking to overtake the human race which is exactly what happens in Us.

Everyone also seems to be comparing this film to Jordan’s debut Get Out however, I don’t think there is a comparison.  It seems to me that Jordan is trying to build a portfolio of horror flicks that maintain his macabre style but are completely different from his hit thriller Get Out, which I think is a smart approach.   Avoiding being typecast as a certain type of director or writer will keep audiences wanting and wondering about what he will create next instead of assuming that they’ve seen all that there is to see with this developing director.

Will this film be Oscar-worthy?  It’s hard to say but if I were to choose a category that this film could be nominated for, it would be Best Story and Screenplay.  Will Jordan snag a win as he did for Get Out?  I guess we will have to wait until early next year when the Academy Awards air to find out.



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*Announcement* – Blog Schedule Deviation

Attention blog fans,

The blog schedule is slightly off-schedule.  I plan to post every first and third Wednesday of the month by 11:30 am.  However, the post that you will see tomorrow is a week late.  I will resume the regular posting schedule next week.  I apologize for the inconvenience.



M. L. Childs Writer




*Announcement* New Blog Focus

I am happy to announce that my writer’s blog has shifted in a new direction!  I will still include my book promotions and advice for aspiring writers; however, my blog – which is now called “Pondering the Obscure Blog” – will include book and film reviews and topics that delve into occult studies, secret societies, supernatural occurrences, ancient controversial knowledge and much more.  Blog postings will be every first and third Wednesday of the month at 11:30.  Exceptions to this schedule will be announced.


Follow my blog page and also join the discussion on Facebook group where you will be free to share more of your own findings with the group.




Characterization in the Book Marketing Process


Every writer knows how effective characterization is during the writing process but who has ever tried to use it during the marketing process?

I have recently been playing around with the idea of continuing characterization into the marketing process.  Using characterization during the marketing process allows fans to learn more about my characters’ lovable personalities.

One way that I do this is by creating make-believe identities for the characters using Pinterest.  Each of my main characters have a Pinterest board that includes what they like to do or like to wear or like to eat.  This allows fans to gain more insight into the personalities of the characters in my books — things that I can’t explain during the story because it would serve as TMI or “too much information.”  Creating a Pinterest board for them allows the characters to have personalities of their own and creates an interactive experience between the characters and the readers.  The characters “share” their favorite things which allows for fans to engage with the characters.  This interactive experience works well because Pinterest is not only digital display board but also a social media marketing tool that is able to lead followers to the boards I’ve created and eventually to the website I have listed on the Pinterest page and finally to my book sales page which is the ultimate end goal.

Below is an example of how one of my Pinterest boards looks for my character Anwar.  You can also click here to see more samples on my Pinterest page.

From the cover image above and the image below, a reader can discern that this character is into historical topics, particularly those related to Turkey.  I also created a blurb about the character which also includes his zodiac sign and other things about him that the book may not readily reveal.


As writing and publishing continues to change, so will the marketing strategies associated with book marketing.  It is no longer enough to be able to tell readers “Read my book because it is so good!”  That’s been everyone’s spiel for many years.   Social media is making visual interpretation much easier for just about every market and the writing industry too will become much more visual as it pertains to the marketing process.

What do you think about this technique and what other techniques are you using to encourage book marketing?  Share your thoughts in the comments section.

It’s Almost Too Late…


No one has one the Amazon giveaway yet so there is still time to claim your free Kindle copy.  This current giveaway is good until tonight at midnight Pacific standard time.  Click the link below, log into your Amazon account and try for your chance to win.


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