Archive for the ‘Living and Life’ Category

As you guys know by now, I’m a pretty dedicated horror fan. I read a lot of horror novels and watch a lot of horror movies, I decorate my apartment with horror knick-knacks (just the other day, a Jason Voorhees mask and Funko doll arrived for me from Amazon), and of course, I write a ton of horror. Only thing is, lately I’ve been writing a lot of science fiction, and that’s getting a little old.

The hockey mask looks good on us.

I’ve been working on Full Circle, the final book in the Reborn City series I’ve been working on since high school, since November. And as of the completion of the latest chapter this morning (finished it in just a little over an hour. Do you know how rarely that happens?), I’m just under halfway through the first draft. And while I’m still dedicated to finishing the first draft and the series itself, I’m getting a little tired of the constant sci-fi. Don’t get me wrong, I love science fiction. Doctor Who is one of my favorite shows, after all, and I get as geeky as anyone else when I think about The Last Jedi coming out this winter.

But check the About page of this blog. I’m a horror writer, and all this sci-fi gets a little wearisome. I want to dip back into the world of ghosts, ghouls, serial killers, and all other manner of monsters that go bump in the night.

Plus, I’ve mentioned before that I’m trying to publish more horror short stories, as I’m trying the traditional route again and publishing short stories is a good way to do that. Can’t publish horror short stories if I’m constantly working on sci-fi.

So with that in mind, I’m taking a break from Full Circle to do a little short story writing. I’m going to first write a short story that I had the idea for a couple months back, and then I’m going to edit The Playroom, a short story I wrote back in late 2015 and have not touched since. I think it’s about time I took a look at that one again, and then see if I can get it in a magazine or an anthology. After those are both done, I should be good to get back to work on Full Circle (though if I need to, I’ll write another short story). I have a feeling that starting with the next chapter, it’s going to be hard to stop writing this one anyway, so this is a good time to take a break and slake my thirst for horror.

Until next time, Followers of Fear. And may the terror be with you…always.

A couple of years ago, I published a couple of lists about haunted locations I wanted to visit before I die and become a ghost myself (click here and here to read those lists). And yes, I am planning on becoming a ghost after I die. I’ll hang around a century or so as a wandering spirit, see some sights, and then ascend to heaven. And if you don’t read at least one of my books and leave a review before I die, I WILL HAUNT YOU!!!

So anyway, it’s been about two years since that last list, and I figured now would be a good time to come out with a new list. Especially since I’ll be visiting a few haunted locations this summer (more on that in a later post). So without further a-BOO! here’s even more haunted places that I plan to visit before I also become a ghost.

BEWARE!!! Sorry, couldn’t help myself.

1. Old Licking County Jail

Location: Licking County, Ohio

I swear to God, as soon as I get a car, I’m going to visit the ones that are located in my home state. It is so hard to get to these places when you know basically no one who’s willing to go with you and drive you!

Old Licking County Jail is a prison in Licking County, Ohio. Like the Ohio State Reformatory, more than a few inmates died here, some under violent circumstances. There were also corrupt guards, beatings, and everything else you can think of when it comes to jails in an era more prone to punishment than correction. It’s been shut down for a number of years, but since then, there have been claims of full-body apparitions, voices from nowhere, and even spirits following paranormal investigators home.

I’m not going to say throw me in and throw away the key, but do throw me in for a night.

2. Double Eagle Restaurant

Location: Mesilla, New Mexico

I’m hungry. How about you? At the Double Eagle Restaurant, you not only get dinner, you get dinner and a ghost or two! The building the restaurant is housed in used to be the family home of a wealthy Latino family. The family’s eldest son reportedly fell in love with a servant girl, which ticked off his social-climbing mother. One day she returned home early from visiting friends, and caught the two lovers in bed. In a rage, she murdered the girl, and accidentally wounded her son, leading to his death three days later. The mother later was committed and died in an insane asylum. Years later, the house has become a restaurant, but apparently it’s also become a home for various kinds of spirits. Poltergeist activity has been recorded, and there have been voices and even full-body apparitions too.

Not only that, but the room those two lovers were killed in has since become a private dining room with two chairs kept in there for the lovers. It’s said that anyone who sits in those chairs will have horrific nightmares.

Um…waiter? Ghosts please!

3. Goatman’s Bridge

Location: Denton, Texas

According to local legend, back in the 1930’s a black goat farmer named Oscar Washburn moved across the Old Alton Bridge, where he ran a successful goat farm, and became known to the locals as the Goatman. He apparently took that in stride, putting up a sign on the bridge that said, “This way to the Goatman’s.” And because white racists get upset very easily, in 1938 they hung him from the bridge, only to find that the noose was empty when they looked over the side. These men, dressed up as Klansmen, later went and murdered Washburn’s wife and kids.

Since then, there have been reports of a demonic, satyr-like figure stalking the bridge and the surrounding woods. Glowing eyes have been seen, people have been attacked, and women have reportedly suffered attachments that have tormented them all the way home. There have also been reports of Satanic activity in the area, leading to a negative charge about the bridge.

This sounds like one billy goatman I’d love to meet trip-trapping on a bridge!

4. Zak Bagan’s Haunted Museum

Location: Las Vegas, Nevada

You guys know I’m a big Ghost Adventures fan and the team’s lead investigator, Zak Bagans. Well, apparently he’s bought a 30-room mansion in his home city of Las Vegas, and he’s been converting it, room by room, into a museum for paranormal objects he’s collected over the years. There’s a room devoted to haunted dolls and puppets, a room devoted to the Kevorkian van and the hospital room where Dr. Kevorkian did assisted suicides, to skulls, and to all sorts of weird and interesting things. I even hear the famed Dybbuk Box, whose previous owner I know and which inspired a short story of mine and The Possession, is in the museum.

All this is sure to create a rather interesting mix of paranormal energy, which would make for a very interesting visit. Don’t you agree?

5. Dorothea Puente Murder House

Location: Sacramento, California

Dorothea Puente was a serial killer who used her job as a caretaker for the elderly to kill off her charges, dispose of the bodies, and collect on their rent checks. Several of her victims were later dug up in the yard of her building. She was sentenced to life in jail, still insisting on her innocence, and died in 2011. Since then, her home/boarding home has become something of a tourist spot, part private home, part attraction with weird stuff in the front yard. There are also reports of paranormal activity in the house, and thus a few paranormal investigators have been allowed inside the house.

How about a novelist with weird interests?

6. Winchester Mystery House

Location: San Jose, California

Weirdly enough, this show hasn’t been featured in any episode of Supernatural. Too bad. I think Sam and Dean would have a blast in a house that shares their last name.

The Winchester House was built starting in 1884 and going on around the clock for thirty-eight years. Its owner, Sarah Winchester, was the widow of William Hart Winchester, owner of the Winchester Rifle Company, maker of the famous guns. After her husband’s death, Mrs. Winchester became convinced that the ghosts of those her husband’s guns had killed were haunting the Winchester family, and had even been the cause of her husband and infant daughter’s deaths. A medium later confirmed this, and told her move out West and continually add onto a house so that the spirits would get lost and never find her. This she did, buying property in California and having a mansion built there until her death in 1922, after which work ceased immediately.

The house is well-known for its massive size and oddities, including staircases that lead to nowhere, and doors that open to the outside…on the second floor. Windows at odd locations, glass doors on the bathrooms, and even rooms that have yet to be discovered (they actually found a new room in 2016). It’s also become a paranormal hot spot, with plenty of documented activity taking place there (some think the activity might even be slightly demonic).

Sam and Dean, I’ll meet you there! Bring the Impala and your hunting gear. I’m bringing the humor and the beers (oh, if you’re a Supernatural fan, that line’s hilarious).

7. The Clown Motel

Location: Tonopah, Nevada

The name says it all. It’s a clown-themed motel, with tons of pictures, dolls, and even a life-sized clown mannequin! Worst place to read or watch Stephen King’s It ever! And if that’s not all, it’s right next to a graveyard! Yeah, talk about creepy! And a great source for the supernatural activity that has been reported at the motel.

Yeah, I’ll take whatever you have available.

8. Moonville Tunnel

Location: Moonville, Ohio

Moonville was a small mining town in Southeastern Ohio during the late 19th century. It was small as heck, it was never prosperous, and it was dead by the 1950’s. The only thing keeping it from falling into obscurity is the train tunnel built into the side of the mountain. Supposedly, a train engineer was hit by a train (or possibly two, the record’s not exact) one night, and since then, glowing lights and white mists have been spotted in the tunnel. There have even been rumors of further deaths.

ROAD TRIP!

9. Haunted London

Location: London, England

I know. I’ve already been to London. I’ve even visited the Tower of London, which has a few ghosts in it. But I WANT TO SEE MORE! I never saw as much of London as I wanted to, and that includes haunted locations. There are haunted hotels, Highgate Cemetery, and so many more! There are even supposedly haunted Underground stations.

Cool guv’nor! Let’s go!

10. Akasaka Mansion

Location: Tokyo, Japan

Now known as Akasaka Weekly Mansion, it’s a hotel with more than one building, and it’s Building #1 that has been known for the paranormal activity. There have been reports of figures standing at the end of the beds, noises being heard at night, guests being touched (sometimes sexually), and a woman being dragged from her bed. Even creepier, there’s supposedly a woman who crawls from room to room on her hands and knees. That’s something right out of a J-Horror film!

I’ll go, but I’m not watching any Ring or Grudge movies right before I do.

What haunted locations have you been to recently?

Have you been to any of these? What were your experiencces?

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m dividing my writing time between working on Full Circle* and working on short stories. And with my short stories, there’s been more of an emphasis lately to write them with the goal of getting them into magazines and/or anthologies. Why? Well, as many of you know, I’ve been trying the traditional publishing route again (though I will self-publish if I feel a story is better off getting published that way), and while getting published in magazines and anthologies isn’t absolutely necessary to getting an agent and/or publisher, they do help make you more appealing to them. Kind of like internships and volunteering on a resume during a job search, if you think about it a certain way.

That being said, getting your short stories in mags and anthologies is pretty difficult these days. Okay, the short story market has always been difficult (Stephen King said in his autobiography On Writing that he had railroad spikes full of rejection letters from mags/publishers/agents/etc. before he found success), but in an age where so much content is available for free, reading has to compete with movies, streaming, and video games, and even self-publishing is cutting into magazine’s readership,** magazines and anthologies are even choosier than they used to be. Especially the ones that pay. They only accept the best work out of all the submissions they receive.

So up against this market, how can an author increase their chances of getting their stories published? Well, keep writing, get other people to take a look at your work for feedback, and don’t take every rejection as the end of the world or as a reflection of your talents, of course. But is there anything beyond that to help one get editors’ attentions? Well, there are a few strategies, and I’d like to list them here:

  1. Research and target. In this strategy, an author should create stories geared towards a particular magazine or group of magazines. For example, if you find a magazine that prefers urban fantasy stories, write an urban fantasy story that the magazine would probably like. Look at the magazine’s website and/or in recent issues to get an even better idea of what sort of stories they prefer (maybe they prefer female protagonists, or they hate romances between humans and supernatural creatures). Once you have a good idea of what they prefer in their stories, write one in that vein and then submit it to them. Chances are that if the story is the kind the magazine specializes in and likes, they’ll publish it.
    I’ve actually used this strategy successfully before. My first published short story, Summers with Grandmother Fumika, is about a fox-spirit that takes part in a Japanese tea ceremony. It was written after I discovered a magazine that specializes in articles and fiction relating to tea! Earned $100 for that story, which to a high schooler who averaged about $28-$35 dollars selling tickets for basketball games, was a pretty big deal. And I recently wrote a short story that I wrote for a specific sub-genre of horror, so there’s a good chance that it could be published in any of the publications that like those stories (though time will tell, of course).
  2. Rely on your networks. We live in an age of social media, and that means we come across all sorts of people we might never have even known existed thirty, twenty, or even just ten years ago. That means if you have a blog, belong to writer’s groups on Facebook, or belong to an online critique circle, you potentially have dozens or hundreds of people who can help you find homes for your stories. For example, I asked one of my writers’ groups on Facebook if they had any suggestions for places I could submit another short story in a particular sub-genre of horror. Within a few hours, I had a couple of responses that I could follow up with.
    Sometimes your friends don’t even have to give you suggestions. Occasionally, they run magazines or anthologies! In the past three years, three short stories were published in anthologies where a friend of mine was one of the editors (you know who you are). Just from this, you can see what an amazing resource friends can be!
  3. Check your publications. There are a buttload of books out there that are meant to help the average writer write and publish their work. Most of them have sections full of listings for magazines, agencies etc, and a lot of them are updated yearly. The best part is, a lot of libraries carry copies of these great tomes with them. I highly recommend The Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market from Writer’s Digest. They have great articles and listings (though never enough in the horror department, sadly).
  4. Google. I know, sounds like something that goes without saying, but you’d be surprised how often this doesn’t occur to people. Google is a remarkable resource, and if you’re careful with your search terms and what links you click on, it can open doors. In the past couple months, Google has led me to several magazines and anthologies that specialized in stories I could send them. At the moment, I’ve been rejected by one, but there’s a chance I could be accepted by two more. And if those don’t work out, there are all sorts of places I can still try out. All thanks to Google

Now, there’s still no guarantee that you’ll get into a magazine or anthology, even with using these tips. That’s fine, many successful writers have rarely or even never been published in these sort of publications. But if you think it can help your career, or you prefer short to longer stories, these tips might just help you get into that collection of winter-themed romances or into that magazine that likes hopeful stories involving space exploration and interactions with alien species. And that is a joy that every writer relishes.

*Speaking of which, when I’m working on that, the general policy is “get a chapter done, then work on a short story or a blog post.” So if you see a post come out on this blog over the next couple of months, it’s either because something big happened worthy of blogging about, or I just got a chapter of FC done. Like I did right before I started writing this post (only 22 more to go!).

**Dammit self-publishing, why do you have to–wait, what am I saying?

Today is April 1st, which as we all know is April Fool’s Day, a day to have an excuse to be cruel to one another by making jokes or putting people in embarrassing situations. I absolutely love this day, because I love a good joke, and I love being the one to tell it. Or in some cases, to pull it. So I thought, as a departure from the norm, I’d list some pranks and practical jokes I’ve been part of over the years. It’s a list I hope you find as hilarious reading it as I did doing the pranks in the first place. Enjoy!

That time with the Jason Voorhees costume. I’m a huge fan of the Friday the 13th franchise, and so it shouldn’t surprise anyone that I have the costume for the series’ main villain. So during my second year of college, when I still lived in the dorms, I decided, in honor of April Fool’s Day, to ride up and down the elevator in my dorm building, wait for people to get on, and scare the living daylights out of them as they got on. It worked like a charm. Most people jumped, a few didn’t really react. One girl I was friends with screamed like a murder victim and then cussed me out for scaring her.

To this day, I’m still surprised I wasn’t punched.

I make this costume work.

That time with Bones and Booth’s engagement. Going back a few years to high school, my mom was driving my sister and I to a youth group event, and my mom and sister were having a debate about the TV show Bones and the relationship of the main characters. My mom thought for some reason the leads were married, my sister insisted Booth, the male lead, was seeing someone else. Neither had seen the most recent episodes, and this gives me a great idea. I pull out my phone, and pretend to call a friend of mine. I have this whole fake conversation with my friend about the show, and my sister and mom buy it up without question. When I finish the fake call, I tell my mom and sister, “Bones and Booth are engaged.”

My sister freaks out! She’s screaming, “How is this possible! No! NO! How!” My mom and I are laughing hysterically, and I’m trying not to throw up in the car. This goes on for about five minutes before my sister fishes out her own phone and starts texting everyone she knows, trying to find someone who’s seen the most recent episodes. By the time we get to where we’re going, she’s finally found someone who’s seen the most recent episodes, and has found out the truth. Oh, I slept with one eye open that night.

The many times with the phone. How do you do a crank call in the age of Caller ID? Well, there are two ways: one is that you answer the phone in wacky ways. My dad and uncle are used to picking up the phone and getting a hello from a pest exterminator, a law firm with wacky partners, and even once or twice a kink shop (my dad hates that one!). The other is get transferred around a few times so that your number is hidden from Caller ID, and see where it lands you. I’ve called my high school headmaster a few times, pretending to be anyone from “Doris Widdershins,” a stuffy upper-class Pittsburgh socialite with a son she’d like to enroll in the school, “Kay Cappuchio,” a reality star with a dog, and “Rabbi Abraham Irving,” a rabbi from Yeshiva University who wanted to award the school for excellent graduates. He’s only figured out it’s me about half the time! And the best part is, I got away with it every time, which is remarkable considering some of them I did while still his student! He was way too lenient with me.

The time I got featured in a prank video. This one isn’t of my doing, but one I just happened to stumble into. This guy on YouTube named Dennis Roady does all these pranks, and during my last year in college, he did one where he went to various libraries around Columbus, including Ohio State’s Thompson Library, and used a Bluetooth connection to make us hear sex noises and wonder where the hell they’re coming from. The video is below, and I come in about two and a half minutes. It was actually pretty clever.

Naughty!

The time with the text and the drugs. A while back, there was this thing where you’d text your parents and pretend you had accidentally sent a text meant for your drug dealer, and see what happens. I did it on my parents back in 2014. My dad figured out pretty quickly that it was a prank. My mom actually called me right before one of my classes started to see if I was actually on drugs. It was pretty funny. I told my mom, “Ima, do you really think I’d do drugs?”” She replied, “You told me you were hit by a car last year, and I didn’t believe you! It actually happened!” (And it did, by the way. Story for another time).

Lesson learned: careful with what pranks I send my mother’s way.

The time at camp. This prank actually backfired on me: the summer before eighth grade, I was at sleep away camp, and a couple of my friends and I decided to sneak over to one of the girls’ bunks in our year and scare them on a night the counselors would be at a staff meeting, just for the heck of it. The older bunks at our camp back then had trap doors in the back storage rooms in case of fire, so we sneak out those and somehow get to the girls’ bunks without getting caught. We disguise ourselves with masks one of my friends smuggled in, intending to pop up through the trap door in their bunk, run around screaming to get the girls screaming, and then run out and back home before security or counselors can catch us. We find the trap door, and I go first.

I pop up through the closet, screaming like a ghoul. And I see a girl sitting on an empty milk crate, reading a paperback with a skull on the cover by flashlight (I think it may have been some edition of Silence of the Lambs) in the back storage room I’ve appeared in. And the girl falls off the crate screaming, flashlight shining everywhere. At the same time, something wet and yellow flies through the air and hits me right in the mask, getting into my eyes and mouth. Apparently I scared her enough to pee her shorts and me with them.

Naturally, I fall out the trap door, spitting and laughing and trying not to vomit. My friends are asking me what happened, but I can’t tell them, and anyway, it doesn’t matter, because there’s a passing security team, and they hear the noise. We run for home before we can get caught, and somehow make it back safe, at which point I throw away the mask, take a second shower, and brush my teeth about ten times. Never found out who the girl was, but I think we both got stuck in each other’s memories that day.

That time with the cult. This actually happened last year. I met up with a friend of mine at Starbucks and, because it was April 1st, decided to play a prank on her. I told her my dad and I had had a fight because I was leaving Judaism for a religious group called The One (complete with cult-like hand motions when referring to the group or anything associated with it). She bought it until I said we worshiped a fox god, at which point she asked if this was an April Fool’s prank. I admitted it was, though I did also blow her mind by telling her that The One is a real thing. It’s just not a cult: The One is the name for fans of Babymetal, the Japanese J-Pop/metal fusion band I’m a huge fan of (so I technically am part of The One), and the band’s members say they get their ability to rock out from a fox god.

Weirdness never ceases, does it?

The Fox God

That time I pranked you. That’s right, you’ve been pranked. How, you ask? One of these stories is actually fake! That’s right, you read them, and you may have believed all of them! But the question is, which one is it? Give your thoughts in the comments below. Here’s a hint; it’s not the one with the video.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I hope you laughed yourself silly reading this, and I hope you have a hilarious April Fools’ Day. I know I will. Until next time!

Remember when I blogged about being on the autism spectrum back in late January? Well, that post got a lot of positive feedback, both on the blogospphere and on other social media, particularly Facebook. One of the people who responded well to the post was my college disabilities counselor, Enjie Hall, who I became Facebook friends with…I think after graduation? I can’t remember. It’s been a while. Anyway, she reached out to me after that post came out, and asked if I wouldn’t mind doing a short audio and/or video presentation for a much longer presentation she was doing at the university she works at now. The subject was “Living in and Past College with a Disability,” and since I’m doing so well in that subject, she’d thought I’d be a natural at it.

I agreed to the project, and produced a short YouTube video about my experiences. Okay, maybe “short” isn’t the best term: I was asked to do a five-minute video, and somehow I ended up making it thirteen minutes! But hey, can you really put down all that experience and advice into a five-minute video? I’m not so sure.

It only occurred to me after I made, edited, and uploaded the video that I realized I’d just done my first vlog! Yeah, a vlog. Blogs I’m used to. Vlogs are entirely something new to me. I don’t regularly watch them, unless they’re full of unconventional humor (holler at my boy Thomas Sanders!). But me vlog? I never thought that would be something I’d do. I mean, I’ve considered doing a video of me reading from selected sections of my books, but I’ve never actually done it. Not sure why, maybe just because I’ve only used YouTube a couple of times to make and post videos, and they haven’t exactly gotten a lot of views.

But I made a vlog, and it was actually very nice. And it made me feel good that I made it. I put a positive message into the video, and from what Enjie tells me (her presentation was this morning), the portion of the video she used was received very positively by the people at her presentation. Because of all that, I thought I’d share the video with you guys, and see if maybe you find it as uplifting as others found it at the presentation. Enjoy:

How was that? Do you have any thoughts on what I had to say? Let me know in the comments below.

And as for whether I’ll actually try to make more videos in the future…I don”t know. Anything’s possible. At least I know I can and they can turn out half-decent. We’ll see what the future holds.

Well, I got another post scheduled for Saturday, so keep an eye out for it, folks. Until next time, my Followers of Fear.

I normally don’t make New Year’s resolutions. When I do, they usually don’t last longer than a month or even a week.  But this year, I decided to break from tradition and actually make a resolution: to try new methods to get people interested in my writing. This decision was partially spurred by my earlier decision to try and find a literary agent, as well as from reading a book on marketing and realizing that I needed to change my approach to how I was getting people interested in my fiction.

It’s a hard market out there. If what you’re doing isn’t working, maybe you should try something new.

So if you’re still here and you’re not thinking, “Oh, this is just one of those posts where he blathers on about what’s going on with him and his life”, then you’re probably thinking “How is he doing with that resolution, then?” and “How did he change his approach?”Well, I like to think that so far, so good. This isn’t the sort of resolution that can be objectively measured, like losing so many pounds or bringing your academic scores up. I could measure it by new followers, but not all followers read posts frequently, and only a small fraction are willing to spend money on my books. Book sales can be an indication, as can reads on Wattpad, but to base my success solely on those factors doesn’t seem the wisest course to me. And finally, building an audience is a long and arduous process. This blog took five years to gain as many followers as it has, after all. An audience of readers interested in my books might take even longer.

It’s easier to talk about what I’m doing different. One thing I’ve done is that I’ve stopped doing ads through Facebook and Twitter. Unless you have of big budget like Coca-Cola’s advertising department, ads through those sites usually don’t translate into sales. At the very least, I’m saving money, and that’s never a bad thing.

Another thing I’ve been doing is related to my goal of trying the traditional route again and finding a publisher. That is focusing more on my niche, which is horror. I know, I’ve written and published a lot of sci-fi, but I prefer horror, and what I’m trying to do now is to write more horror stories and trying to get them published in magazines and anthologies. I’m still working on Full Circle, the final book in the Reborn City series, but I’m also devoting more time to horror. The hope is that I can produce enough work and get it published in magazines, building my name as all or a writer, thereby making myself a bit more attractive to horror fans and possibly literary agents and/or publishers.

As of yet, I’ve only submitted one short story, and I’m still waiting to hear back on it. But the next time I take a break from Full Circle, I plan to do some editing and writing, and see what happens. The goal here is to at least get a couple stories published by the end of the year (fingers crossed!).

A third method I’m trying, and this is already producing results, is I’ve started publishing through Wattpad again. Last month, I published my sci-fi novelette Gynoid on that website, and so far I’ve had a positive feedback. There’s been quite a few readers, a couple of votes (which is kind of like “Likes” for that platform), and even a comment or two. One of those comments was from someone who was very relieved to see a certain outcome for one of the characters. That particular comment made me feel very happy, because it showed that the story I wrote and the characters within had people invested.

Sure, Wattpad doesn’t make me any money, but it does give me an audience. And based on Gynoid’s success, I may publish more stories through the website in future, especially for stories that might have a hard time getting placed in magazines.

So that’s what I’m doing right now. It’s a multipronged approach, which is usually what is recommended for any big endeavor like this. Later this year, after I finished the first draft of Full Circle, I plan on editing Rose and shopping that around to agents. Rose really represents not only my growth as a writer, but it is a prime example of the niche I want to write for, so I feel that’s the best novel to shop around to agents and publishing companies. I’m also considering different social media platforms to try out, like Goodreads and Reddit (I know one person who is very active on one of those sites, so I may ask her for advice). If it can work, anything’s on the table.

For now though, I’m just focusing on focusing on my niche and finishing Full Circle. Any resolution that is to be successful takes time, proper planning, and patience. I want this to go well, so I’m not going to rush any of the steps I’m taking to further widen my audience. Will any of it work? Tough to say. But I’m an optimist at heart, and I like to think that this new approach will eventually yield results.

And if you are interested, I’ll give an update in a couple of months or at the end of the year, and let you know how I’m doing. In the meantime, if any of you have any tips on expanding my audience, or places I can look for an agent/publisher, or places that I could potentially publish my stories, let me know. If they work out, I’ll credit you in any post I write about it.

That’s all for now, Followers of Fear. I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me, so wish me luck. And thank you, as always, for supporting me as I work hard on becoming a great horror novelist.

Lately I’ve been pondering something. Well actually, I’ve been pondering a lot of things, including how kissing is treated in different genre fictions and if swallowing the prize in a cereal box makes you a specially marked package (I ponder a lot of things, some of which are strange and some of which may appear in future blog posts), but this one thing in particular I’d like to explore. In a YouTube video I watched recently, the host of the video pointed out that a lot of movies start out with a protagonist walking in on their spouse having an affair, and how that is supposed to start a journey of transformation. This actually caused me to have an epiphany: a lot of fiction–not just movies–revolve around, or start off with characters being in, being caught, or thinking about having an adulterous relationship.

Like, a lot. A whole lot. Like if it’s not a main focus, then there’s a good chance an adulterous relationship will show up in a story at some point or another. I can think of four Stephen King stories that involve affairs as major plot points. One of the most popular TV shows out right now has an affair as a major plot point (*cough* Scandal *cough*). The novel Gone Girl, one of the most compelling mystery/thrillers of the past decade, has an affair as its catalyst. Adultery is freaking everywhere you read/view/listen!

So this got me thinking on three points. First, why do affairs show up so much in fiction? Second, is this a good trope, or a trope that should be done less? Perhaps even phased out? And third, how often do adulterous relationships appear in my own fiction?

Well, that first point is rather obvious (unfortunately). Adulterous relationships show up so much in fiction because they happen so much in real life (unfortunately). Of course, affairs have happened since the beginning of monogamy, but I’m not so sure they were discussed as openly as they are these days. Affairs were considered vulgar things, so the only places they were really talked about were places where it was okay to discuss that sort of thing: bars, raunchy plays (William Shakespeare was actually considered a very dirty and lowbrow for his time), and the occasional dirty poem (yes, those did exist). In polite society, they were only quietly discussed, and that kind of reflected how often adultery was discussed in fiction, and how it was treated when it was brought up.

Scandal, which revolves around an adulterous relationship (still love you, Olivia).

Nowadays though, for whatever reason, we’re a lot more comfortable discussing adultery. In fact, rather than being something discussed in hushed whispers, adultery can be a major and accepted talking point. When a celebrity or a politician, especially one who preaches family values, is caught having an affair, it gets discussed ad nauseum in checkout lines and on national TV. Websites that facilitate adultery are at the center of major scandals, and advice columns around the world regularly feature letters from people who had discovered their lover has a side lover. There are even people who think that having an affair is healthy, natural, or no big deal. It’s a thing, and it’s pervasive (unfortunately).

And as fiction tends to reflect the real world up to a certain extent–last I checked, there aren’t any real exiled queens with dragons calling her “Mother”– it makes sense that adultery would show up in a lot of fiction.

So that answers the first question. What about the second question? Is the adultery trope a good one, or is it overused to the point that we might want to use it less?

Well, that’s a tricky one. Affairs are so common (unfortunately) that it would seem weird to take them out of all fiction. It’s like war or murder; they’ve happened, and they will continue to happen, so you might as well base a story or two around them. Like it or not, adultery is a part of everyday life, so it will show up in fiction.

I think the thing to keep in mind is just to avoid certain clichés with adultery. Any mystery writer will tell you that the lover killing the victim over jealousy or an affair has been done to death (pun intended), so perhaps one should avoid using that cliché, or find a way to use it so that it actually comes as a surprise rather than being expected, like in Gone Girl. Another cliché to avoid is how finding out your lover had an affair is a signal to go on a journey of self-discovery, or to try something new and exciting. Like I said above, the cliché has been done quite a bit, and it really doesn’t make sense. Affairs can change lives, but I don’t think they are one of those events that suddenly change how you look at life or at yourself. A near death experience, or the realization that you become everything you didn’t want to be, maybe. But walking in on your spouse? I think that’s a more likely to cause a shouting match. Maybe an alcohol binge or a murder, but probably not a journey of self-discovery.

And while we’re on the subject, nearly all the affairs in that cliché I mentioned involve the wife or the girlfriend doing the cheating, which is odd because most affairs involve the husband or boyfriend. That’s not some anti-male sexism, that’s just statistics. We could balance it out a little more.

I guess the answer I’ve come to is that if you’re going to have an affair in your story, and it’s going to be a major plot points, make sure it’s not subject to tiresome clichés we’ve seen a thousand times.

And now to my final point how much does adultery show up in my own fiction? And yes, I have to make this a major point of this post. This is my blog about my writing, and all authors who share their work with others are a little narcissistic, including me. Can you blame me?

Surprisingly, not that much. I’ve thought about a number of stories I’ve written since I was ten years old, and of those, adultery shows up in maybe three or four. Only to really come to mind. One was a vampire novel I wrote in high school that was really me exploring my own sexuality before I was aware of it (see this post for more details), and the other was a recent short story. In the latter example, I only spent about a paragraph on the affair. It serves as one of the reasons why another character commits a double murder, but it’s far from the main focus, which is actually the environment of the characters. I actually have plenty of story ideas that involve adultery, but I haven’t gotten around to writing them, and they are a minority among all the other stories I’ve come up with but have been written yet.

Whether we like it or not, adultery will continue to appear in fiction for a long time to come.

I think this might be because adultery is just not an issue I want to focus on. Outside of a few shows I watch, I’m not very interested in adultery. This might be because I’m not interested in romantic relationships in general, or because they’re just other tropes that I would prefer to work with. Not only that, but adultery is rarely that scary. I am all or a writer, I prefer to write about scary things. Monsters, ghosts, the horrors that mankind is capable of, the fear of things that could happen to us if things were just a little different. Unless you’re dating a psychopath or something, adultery is not really that scary. The biggest fear is getting caught, and in most fiction, that is what happens. Not much incentive for a horror writer to focus on adultery. Or at least not this horror writer.

But who knows? Adultery could show up in more stories in the future. My style is still evolving, so anything is possible.

Adultery is sadly very common, which means it will continue to show up in fiction for generations to come. However, the way we use adultery in our fiction can be highly a versatile, and that ensures that it won’t be a trope that will get tired anytime soon. Just avoid the clichés, and if you don’t care to use adultery in your stories, don’t. For every writer who isn’t comfortable running about such a subject, there is always one who is.

What’s your take on adultery in fiction?