It’s time! It’s here! After working with BSC Publishing Group’s graphic designer and waiting for days, it’s here! The cover for my new collection of short stories, Hannah and Other Stories, has been released! And you can look at it below.

What do you think? The cover depicts a moment from one of the stories in the collection, a rather macabre moment that made even me shiver (imagine what it will do to readers). I gave BSC the idea of the cover, as well as other covers I love, and they ran with it. From there, we worked together on fonts, added and subtracted elements, and eventually got to the beauty above. At which point, I emailed BSC and was like, “We’ve got it! By George, I think we’ve got it!”

But that was only the beginning. Not only did they create a cover with my input, but they went and created a book trailer too! A freaking book trailer! I’ve tried my hand at creating book trailers before and was thinking of trying to make a new one with Hannah, but they did something even better than anything I have in mind. Check it out below.

How about that? Having a publisher create this book trailer and work so hard to make it as creepy and enticing as can be shows how much they believe in this book and want it to succeed.

So, what happens next? Well, as the trailer states, Hannah will release in Fall 2023, so at least five months and a few days away. In the meantime, BSC and I will work together to make sure the final manuscript is as polished and clear of mistakes as possible. We’ll also work together to build as much buzz for the book before it releases. That way, when it releases, as many people as possible are reading it.

And I may do a little voodoo on my end. What can I say, I like the idea of friendly supernatural entities helping me out with my dreams. And I have reason to believe it’s worked before. Why can’t it work with this book?

Anyway, I’m just so excited for you to read the stories within. They’re all original stories I’ve been crafting over the years and I’m so excited for you to finally read them. There’s Queen Alice, about an internet legend that takes on a life of its own; Fuselli’s Horses, about a horse ranch with some unique stallions among its residents; and What Errour Awoke, about how a simple English literature class leads to a dangerous situation during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. And that’s just three out of seven! But trust me, the other four are just as creepy and as fun.

But in the meantime, if you’re interested in supporting me, or if you’re just looking for something spooky to read, you can check out my Books page and then check out any of my already published work. And if you like what you read, consider leaving a review online somewhere. Not only do I appreciate your feedback, but it helps me grow as an author and helps other readers find my work.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’m off to celebrate the reveal. Until next time, good night, pleasant nightmares, and are you scared yet? Because if you are, then my job here is done.

Two posts in one day. My Followers of Fear, you either did something very good in your past life or very bad. Either way, I finished Grady Hendrix’s latest novel on audio book today, so I’m going to review it here.

How to Sell a Haunted House follows Louise Joyner, a mother of a five-year-old who has a complicated relationship with her family. When her parents die unexpectedly, she flies from San Francisco to Charleston to take care of their estate and put them to rest. However, things are complicated by her younger brother Mark, whose lifestyle and choices puts him in conflict with Louise from day one. As the two argue like children and try to get the estate settled, they soon find that something malevolent is alive within their childhood home. And unless they get their shit together, it may claim not just the both of them, but Louise’s little girl.

The amazing thing about Grady Hendrix is that he can take a concept that sounds ridiculous on paper and write a whole novel out of it that’s both darkly comic and quite terrifying. From an IKEA knockoff built on the grounds of a former prison, to a teenage girl becoming possessed in 1980s-saturated Charleston, he just makes it work. And it’s no different here. Honestly, I found myself laughing quite a bit listening to Mark and Louise act like me and my sisters at our worst times ten. And as you get further in and see just how dysfunctional this family is, you find yourself glad you’re not part of the same family.*

And when you figure out who/what is going to be the main antagonist of the story, you find yourself laughing…only to see how terrifying said antagonist is. And as you see episodes from Louise and Mark’s childhoods and adulthoods that formed them as people, you see elements as these moments come back to literally haunt them in their parents’ homes. It’s freaky, and there were actually times I found myself wincing or shuddering as I listened to these moments.

And underneath all the darkness and comedy, you get some great themes about the effects of generational trauma on family and family dynamics, about learning to deal with death (and explain it to children), and what family actually is. It’s heavy stuff.

I do have some problems with the book, however. I did see a certain twist regarding the antagonist very early on, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. I also thought the resolution of the climax could have been a bit darker and might have ended too sweetly. And I would have liked to see Mark and Louise explore and resolve their issues a bit more. I feel like during the last third of the book, a lot of stuff was skipped over so the novel could reach its end.

But all in all, How to Sell a Haunted House is another awesome release from Grady Hendrix, whom I’m sure will only continue to grow in stature as a storyteller. On a scale of 1 to 5, I award his latest outing a 4.2 out of 5. It’s funny, creepy, and an all-around thrilling story. Grab a copy, settle down, and get ready to either feel grateful for your own family or feel like you’re reading about your relatives (it’s either one or the other, for better or for worse).

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. Until next time (which will be sometime before the week is done), good night and pleasant nightmares.

*I actually texted my own sisters to let them know how much I loved them and was glad we got along despite our childhood rivalries and disagreements. They were touched, as well as concerned about me because I was sending that text. Anyway, that’s how I reacted to this family’s malfunction.

When I attended the Columbus Witches’Ball back in November, a Druid priest approached me after the ancestor’s ritual. This man, who had never met me before and had never read my biography, told me that he could tell certain things about people, and that I wasn’t human. My body may have been human, but my soul was anything but.

My response: “It’s about time somebody realized it!”

A couple of months later at ConFusion, on the first night, a little boy of about four years old walked past my booth with his mom and older brother. He took one look at me, wearing a cloak and top hat, and asked, “Are you evil?” Mind you, the kid couldn’t read the sign at my booth, tell what kind of books I wrote, or see my cane with its winged skull handle. To him, I was just a funny adult in a costume.

My response after I stopped laughing: “Yes, but in all the best ways.”

And this past weekend, I stayed at my dad and stepmom’s place in Cleveland so I could do some Passover shopping (they have a huge selection up there, way bigger than Columbus). While I’m there, we sit down to watch the movie The Vigil (see my review of that film here). The film’s opening explains the concept of a shomer, someone who watches the body of the deceased overnight and reads prayers over it to comfort and protect the soul of the deceased.

Sometimes, if no family or friends are available, someone else is paid to be the shomer.

As we pause the film so we can all read the text, I complain how I was never given such a job, even when I was job hunting after graduation and my internship in Germany. Not only could I have used the money, but I would have loved that job, macabre as it was.

My stepmom, without missing a beat, responded, “Are you kidding me? The shomer is suppose to protect the body and soul from evil! You’d only bring it with you!”

I had to admit, she had a point.

All this goes to show is that, whether or not they know me, these people know me. They know what I am and what I’m about. And some of them know to be very, very afraid.

To which all I can do is laugh like the madman I am.

I knew there was a reason why I was feeling so good about the near future.

As many of you know, I have a new collection of short stories, Hannah and Other Stories, to be released sometime this year by BSC Publishing Group. This is a terrifying collection filled with stories about ghosts, budding serial killers, and carnivorous horses, among other things. And I’ve been updating you all as developments occur.

Well, I have a new development: the cover will be revealed next week! What day, exactly? I can’t tell you. What does it feature? I won’t tell you. All I can say is that after I sent BSC’s graphic artist some ideas, they ran with them and created some great mock ups. From there, we worked together to make the cover everything I hoped it would be, and I think the final result is, to use my best French, fucking fantastic.

Anyway, I look forward to showing you the cover next week, and I hope you’re looking forward to seeing it. Once that cover is out there, the process to getting the book ready for publication and selecting a release date should speed up a bit. Just you wait and see, it’s going to be awesome.

And in the meantime, if you want to support me, or if you’re just looking for a creepy read, you can find all my work on the Books page of this blog. From plant/human hybrids and ancient gods to mafia-hunting serial killers and mad scientists, I got a bit of everything, so why not check it out and see what tickles your fancy?

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’m off to fill my belly before getting into a groove of creativity and terror. Until next time, good night, pleasant nightmares, and look forward to whatever’s coming next week.

Consider this an early Autism Awareness Month post (doesn’t officially start till next Saturday).

As many of you know, and many of you may not know, I’m on the autism spectrum. Have been my whole life.* And honestly, while it has made some things somewhat more difficult to me, I really don’t consider it a disability. Well, it is, but it doesn’t disable me. It’s just made me fight harder and learn new ways to work my way through this strange world of ours.

Anyway, onto the meat of this post: recently, my dad sent me a video of a TED talk, featuring a woman named Rosie King speaking about her own autism and how it’s affected her life. Positively affected her life, by the way. If you can, I highly encourage you to watch the video, which I’ve embedded below, before reading the post. It’s only six minutes long and will really resonate with you.

When I saw this video, I was what the young people call shook. Honestly, it felt like Ms. King, who’s only five years younger than me, was talking about my own life. For one thing, I do feel like I have thousands of worlds in my head. Or thousands of stories, some of which take place in the same worlds as each other (I love shared universes in fiction). My imagination is constantly coming up with new stories, which is one reason I write. If I didn’t, they would stay in my head, constantly shifting and changing until I no longer knew what they were.

And I get what she says about having so much energy and needing to scream or move around or whatever. I used to need to pace to calm down. And I’ve been in situations where nobody wanted to be my friend because I was so different, though eventually some came to understand who I was and be my friend. A few are even on the spectrum like me.

And I am far from Rain Man (never seen it, but I’ve heard enough to know). I’m no math whiz beyond my finances, and I need someone else to do my taxes. I do understand a lot of science, but I’m no specialist. And as anyone can tell you, I’m quite verbal and love a good hug. Social situations can prove challenging, especially if I don’t understand some cue or another. But once it’s explained to me what line I’ve crossed or what the issue is, I usually learn from it.

But the thing that resonates with me the most is the part about “being normal” and saying “you’re so normal” as a compliment. As Ms. King says, “What is normal?” Just a setting on the dryer, if you ask me. None of us fit into a box, but some of us just spill out of the box and spread out in several directions much more easily. It’s because people do spread out that way that we as a species advance, from the sciences and technology to literature and culture.

And while I don’t know how much of a role my ASD has played in making me the person I am, as well as the creative I am, I can’t deny that it has played a role. And like Ms. King, I wouldn’t give it up for anything. Not when it has brought me so much good in my life.

So, I guess in conclusion, if someone’s different in some way, don’t try to change them, or make them fit in a box. So long as nobody is getting hurt and being who they are makes them happy, I see no reason to try to change them. Hell, I’m happy just the way I am. The only thing people tried to change in me is giving me the tools to make my way through this world while still being me. And that was enough.

Until next time, my Followers of Fear, good night and pleasant nightmares.

*And no, it wasn’t caused by vaccines. I was neurodivergent well before that, my mother says so, and you wouldn’t want to call her a liar. Them’s fighting words.

I’ve been asked this before numerous times in one way or another. “What advice do you have for new writers?” Well, there’s one thing that always comes to mind. And the past couple of years, the thing I’ve come back to, time and time again, is this: “You need to carve out the time to right.”

Yeah, that’s the advice. A lot of people want to write, but they say they don’t have the time to write, or that they can’t find the time, or there’s just not enough time in the day. I often reply, “Well, you’re going to have to carve out the time. If you’re serious about writing that story. There’s no time fairy who’s just going to grant you time to write.”

Sounds kind of caustic, and it is. But it’s also true. For one thing, I’ve never seen a single fairy, let alone one that grants time to would-be writers. For another, the time to write just doesn’t find you. It doesn’t drop out of the sky and into your lap. And yeah, there is only 24 hours in a day, with hopefully only 8 of them devoted to a day job and the other 16 sleeping and personal stuff.

Fact of the matter is, if you don’t make time, even just half an hour, to write, you won’t ever get the time to write.

I mean, if you want to cut out sleeping, you’ll find that time, but from a health standpoint you’ll really suffer.

But I understand why people say they don’t have the time. Finding that time can be hellishly difficult. Besides day jobs and sleep, people need to do chores around the home, take care of family obligations, and finding time to relax after a long day.

Still, you can find time. Plenty of others have done it before. Even when he was raising three kids under the sage of six and was living out of a trailer, Stephen King found time to write 2500 words a day. That’s how he wrote Carrie, which later launched him into the stratosphere. And my friend/colleague Angela Misri wrote every day on the bus to and from work in moleskine notebooks. That’s how she wrote her Portia Adams books, and they’ve been pretty successful.

As for me, I write in the evenings between dinner and bed (though on weekends or days off I try to write during that free time as well). I’ve been doing that for years, and it’s how I’ve written some of my best work. Yeah, it helps that I’m only responsible for myself, don’t have kids, and writing helps me destress. But I still carve out that time most nights to get work done, because I want to get those stories done and out there. I want to write for the rest of my life. So I carve out that time.

And if you really want to tell those stories and get them out into the world, you’ll find the time. It may take some changes to your schedules, or maybe some changes in your life, but if you’re serious, you’ll be able to find the time. Like I said, plenty of people have before and plenty of people in the future. That includes me, and that includes you.

How do you find time to write? Did you make changes to your life or schedule to do it? Has it helped? Let’s discuss in the comments below.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. Just wanted to get something out to you sooner rather than later, and this seemed like a good subject to post about.

Until next time, good night, pleasant nightmares, and–oh look, a fairy! Oh, you want to join my Army of Nightmares and help me accomplish my goals? Okay, let’s go! To the dragon bats!

The cover of Entomophobia.

Some of you may remember my interview with Sarah Hans last year about her debut novel, Entomophobia (click here if you’d like to read it). I was interested enough that I bought my own copy (Sarah gladly signed it for me) and I began reading it recently. And while I don’t have a lot of time to read these days, I was able to get through it quite quickly. So, what did I think? Let’s find out.

Entomophobia follows Meri, a woman who has just left her abusive husband and is trying to get her life back together. However, it seems life is conspiring against her at every turn: her aloof mother is unsupportive; the judge ruled that her soon-to-be ex-husband will have primary custody of her daughter, Magda; and, after having to steal supplies for an art show she’s part of, she gets cursed by a tiny man with insectile features. The curse is changing her, forcing her to face her darkest fears. And if she doesn’t do something quick, she’s going to lose what little she has.

One of the biggest strengths of this novel is Meri. She’s a fully realized character, sympathetic yet flawed. Within a few chapters, I felt like I really knew her, and that made it easy to empathize with her pain and fear and the woes of her life. There’s also a strong supporting cast, especially in the character of her mother, whom I wanted to strangle at times.

Another of the book’s strengths is the human-based horror. We see a lot of characters being cruel, uncaring, or just plain awful. This is obvious in Meri’s ex-husband Adam, who is a huge piece of shit, but also in her mother, in random teens in a bad neighborhood, and even in her ex-boyfriend Dan, though he does mean well at times. Whether they realize how their actions effect others or not, it’s horrifying to see just how much they don’t give a shit at times about the damage they cause.

The body and supernatural horror isn’t anything to sneeze at, either. A lot of scenes in this book will make your skin crawl as you read them, and the description of some of the characters, especially the less-human ones, really bring them to mind and make it easy to imagine what they might look like.

I do have some gripes, however. I did feel like the book could have been longer. As I said at the beginning of the review, it’s a short book, and I feel like it could have been a bit longer. Perhaps some scenes could have been drawn out more or added in, especially ones involving the curse or Meri’s phobia. I would have been good with some expansion.

On a scale of 1 to 5, I’m giving Entomophobia a straight 4. It’s a quick, creepy read with a great cast and an engaging story that I recommend.

On a sad note, you might have trouble finding copies. As mentioned in my interview, Entomophobia’s publisher closed and was only printing new copies through the end of 2022. So right now, I have a kinda-rare first edition.

The good news is, Sarah tells me Dragon’s Roost Press will be re-releasing the book sometime this year, possibly this summer. So if you’re interested in getting Entomophobia when it’s available again, check out Sarah’s Twitter and you’ll find out with the rest of us when the book is available again.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’m off to read some more before heading to bed (I’d rather do some more writing, but I know if I start now, I’ll never get to bed at a decent time). Until next time, good night and pleasant nightmares!

Back in 2021, I got my first author fan art. Iseult Murphy, my friend and colleague, created a couple of pictures based on a made-up creature I mentioned in a tweet, the dragon bats. You can see them below.

Pretty cool, especially since they didn’t belong to any story. At least, not then. The fan art inspired me to write a novelette, “Disillusionment and Trauma Sometimes Go Hand-in-Hand.” That story was published in Ink Stains: A Dark Fiction Literary Anthology in October 2022.

And this past month, Iseult created some more fan art, which she’s sent me. The first is a story-accurate picture of the dragon bats, down to the orange fur and cat-like faces. Even their scaly, armored bellies are featured! Now imagine if one of these were real, and as big as a large dog! Now imagine hundreds of them, flying around and feeding upon you. Did I mention they may be venomous? A single bite can be deadly!

But that’s not the only piece of art Iseult sent me. Yesterday, she sent me this picture based on my story “The Dedication of the High Priestess.” That story is a fusion of ballet horror with the cosmic horror entity The King in Yellow. Check it out:

DAAAAMN! That is beautiful! The dancing figure of Anastasia in yellow, her shadow underneath her, and the giant form of her master, the King in Yellow, watching over her as she dances. It’s just an amazing piece of art. Also, was that painted with oil pastels? Because it looks like it, but I’m no art expert. Iseult, please let me know.

Whatever it’s made with, I LOVE this picture. I’ve said it before, but I feel like “Dedication of the High Priestess” is one of my favorite and best stories. And fan art is one of the sincerest forms of flattery you can give a creative, as well as showing your love and appreciation for that creative and their work. And from this, I really felt the love Iseult has for this story. So, I printed out a copy of this picture, bought a frame for it, and am now trying to find a good place to hang it up.

Check my Instagram to find out where I eventually hang it up.

Anyway, I wanted to post this fan art for you all to see. Iseult’s art needs to be appreciated by more people, so I made sure to put it on my social media and on my blog.

And I hope to receive more fan art in the future. Not just from Iseult, though I would be happy to see more of her work. I hope, as I continue to publish more stories and reach more readers, I’ll see more fan art based on my work. And, as long as it’s manageable to do so, I may even post more fan art to this blog and to my social media.

Perhaps there will be more fan art once Hannah and Other Stories releases later this year. I can see the stories Queen Alice and Fuselli’s Horses getting some fan art.

In the meantime, I have plenty of stories that are worth reading. You don’t have to create fan art from them if you don’t want to. I just want you to read them. And maybe let me know what you think. And you should also check out Iseult Murphy’s stories, which you can find links to on her blog. I recommend 7 Days in Hell and 7 Weeks in Hell.

Anyway, for my books, here are my links. For starters, if you want to check out “Disillusionment and Trauma Sometimes Go Hand-in-Hand,” you can grab a copy of Ink Stains here. If you want to check out “The Dedication of the High Priestess,” you can listen to it on the Tales to Terrify podcast here. And below are the links for my books.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’m off to work on a new short story while trying to figure out where to hang Iseult’s picture. Until next time, good night and pleasant nightmares.

The Quiet Game: Five Tales to Chill Your Bones: Amazon, Createspace, Barnes & Noble, iBooksSmashwords, and Kobo.

Snake: AmazonCreatespace, Barnes & Noble, iBooksSmashwords, and Kobo

Rose: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada, Audible, B&N

The Pure World Comes: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, Kobo, Goodreads, Audible, Chirp, BingeBooks, LIbro.Fm, Storytel, Palace Marketplace, Hoopla, Vivlio, Smashwords, Thalia, Scribd, Spotify

Mother of the King: Amazon

Agoraphobia: Amazon

The first season of the Scream TV series. The show deserves more attention, if you ask me.

Odd topic for my two thousandth post, but hey, not every milestone post is going to be something big and amazing. Besides, this needs talking about before Friday.

And what’s Friday? The release of Scream VI, the sixth Scream movie. By now, most horror franchises, especially the slasher franchises, end up on direct-to-video (or DVD and Blu-Ray or streaming, as things now stand). But the Scream franchise, through not putting out sequels every year and making films that tend to age well (seriously, I enjoyed the films I disliked on first viewing more on the second viewing), has stayed in theaters. And the sixth film, set in New York and featuring a Ghostface who appears to be a major fanatic of the Ghostface killers, looks especially amazing. What could be missing?

Well, in all the rewatch of the films and which one’s best, I miss the TV show. Yeah, Scream had a TV show. A lot of people have forgotten that. It was on MTV for two seasons and VH1 for a third season, it was slightly more serious than the movies with less metatextual exploration of horror (but it did have that), and, for two seasons, had a Ghostface whose costume didn’t look clumsy or like it would get in the killer’s way.*

I actually bought the TV show’s version of the costume for Halloween soon after I got my job. I still have the costume, and enjoy wearing it on occasion. I wore it for this post!

What was the TV series about, you might ask? Well, it was a similar setup to the movies. A serial killer, known in this reality as the Lakewood Slasher or the Brandon James Killer, wears a mask based on the face of an accused murderer named Brandon James and starts killing people related to this world’s Sydney, named Emma. And, like the original films, the killings are often inspired by Emma’s family’s past.

There was also some amazing character development, a mystery that kept you guessing, and some really freaky kills and scares that competed with American Horror Story and the Slasher TV series. So, what happened?

I don’t know. I guess the producers got scared that people were losing interest in the second season, because after a Halloween special, they scrapped the ongoing storyline of Emma and her friends and started a new story with the original Ghostface costume for the third season. And that was the season that got critically panned and was followed by a cancellation. So, I guess it was a good decision?

Me in my Scream TV series costume. Creepy, right?

And that’s a shame, because as I said, I remember it being really good for the first two seasons. And while we can never be sure, if the series had decided to focus on the story of Emma and her friends, rather than doing a reboot for a possible anthology series, what could have happened? What if the series got better? At the very least, we might have wrapped up the story.

So, while I look forward to seeing the new film, I would like to point out that the TV show (or at least the first two seasons, anyway), deserve some love and appreciation. Hell, after I finish watching the original run of Law & Order, I’m going to rewatch the first two seasons on Netflix.

Maybe you can join me for a watch? I think that would be a lot of fun. And together, we can maybe show this show some deserved love.

Did you watch the Scream TV series? What were your thoughts of it? Any chance you’ll revisit it with me? What’s your favorite scary movie?

*Seriously, what the heck is with the Ghostface robe? It goes down to your feet and is tight around the legs. Every killer in that costume should trip every time they pursue a victim. Actually, they showed that in the parody film Scary Movie.

The Wild Hunt, the major inspiration for this story.

Glad I got it done in March than maybe in June or July. The Great Editing, am I right? Keeps me so busy!

Anyway, as I said in a previous post, I took a break from all that editing so I could get some new stories written before all that editing drove me mad. Well, madder than usual. You know what I mean. The point is, I took a break, and this past Wednesday started on a new short horror story set on Christmas Eve. Yeah, I know I’m Jewish, but I can write a Christmas horror story like everyone else.

And no, this story, which I’m calling “The Hunting Party,” doesn’t involve Krampus or another evil Santa Claus variant. I love the character, but he’s already been done to the point publishers are starting to get tired of seeing him. Instead, I decided to base this story on the Wild Hunt. For those of you unfamiliar, the Wild Hunt is a mythical band or horde of ghostly riders that travel at night, flying through the air as they hunt whatever crosses their path. There are many variations of the Hunt throughout Europe and even beyond, and depending on where you are can be made up of different leaders, riders, spirits and reasons why they ride. It’s a fun motif to work with.

And some versions of the Wild Hunt, as well as some of their leaders, are said to be most powerful around the Christmas season. In fact, some versions are led by Odin, who himself is speculated to be an influence on the modern depiction of Santa Claus. You can see why it lends itself well to Christmas stories, including one written by me.

As for “The Hunting Party,” I’m going to start sending it out to a beta reader or two as soon as I can find one. It’s about 7,400 words long, so I hope neither their suggestions or my attempts to improve the story end in the story getting too much longer. Yeah, the publisher I hope to send it too allows stories up to ten-thousand words or more, but I’d feel more confident if this story didn’t get that long.

As for what’s next, I already know what story I’m going to work on next. It’s going to make you shudder in horror, it involves a common phobia, and takes place at Halloween. I do not write enough stories set at Halloween. The last one I did ended up a trunk novel. Hopefully this one finds a home.

For now though, I’m making a late dinner and watching a movie before hitting the hay. I have a crazy week ahead of me, so I’m going to need all the rest I can get. Wish me luck.

And until next time, my Followers of Fear, good night, pleasant nightmares, and Merry Christmas! May nothing bloodthirsty come down your chimney (or otherwise enter your home if you don’t have a chimney).