Archive for the ‘Living and Life’ Category

The post that got me thinking about this subject.

So, if you weren’t aware, Rosh Hashanah, or the Jewish New Year, starts tonight. This is the beginning of the High Holidays, or the most important holidays in the Jewish calendar, and there’s a couple of traditions around this time of year that religious Jews practice. A lot of those traditions have to do with forgiveness. Specifically, we go out of our way to forgive those who might have upset us in the past, ask for forgiveness ourselves, and maybe even gain God’s forgiveness for our weaknesses. Forgiving ourselves is also on the menu, but that’s something that’s up to us and can require more work than just what can be accomplished around a holiday.

I do these traditions myself, and about a week ago, I posted on my social media, asking for forgiveness and forgiving everyone else as well. However, I added as a sort of postscript that I might still add someone who’s seriously crossed a line with me to one of my stories, which would mean their portrayals would not be flattering, and that their deaths would probably be horrifying. As I said in the post, “Hey, every action has an equal and opposite reaction. That’s life. Get used to it.”

This and other events got me thinking, and I realized that horror is not a genre where forgiveness is front and center a lot. In fact, it’s a genre where anger and vengeance is often a major factor! Think about it: most of the killers in slasher movies are motivated by rage and revenge. In a lot of ghost stories, the spirits are stuck on this mortal plane because they have some sort of baggage keeping them trapped here and they’re lashing out because of that baggage (this is especially true in Japanese horror movies like Ringu and Ju-On: The Grudge). Carrie White in Carrie gets revenge on all her tormentors by setting the prom, the high school, and most of the town on fire, followed by killing her biggest bully and her mother, and Leland Gaunt in Needful Things takes advantage of people’s fears, grudges and relationships to cause all sorts of chaos.

In all of these stories and many others, forgiving anyone is almost nowhere to be seen. In fact, in many cases, even after the reason for the anger is gone, the anger and need for vengeance continues on. Perhaps Needful Things has some moments of self-forgiveness, where characters like Alan Pangborn, Polly Chalmers, and Norris Ridgewick realize they’ve been duped and/or done horrible things and are able to start on the path to forgiveness and redemption, but it’s not a large part of the story. In fact, those moments are overshadowed by the rest of the events of the story and the need to stop Gaunt.

Snake is not a novel I would associate with forgiveness.

The lack of forgiveness extends to my own work as well. And quite often, too. Snake is a novel about a serial killer motivated by both love and revenge against an organized crime family. “Disillusionment and Trauma Sometimes Go Hand-in-Hand,” AKA the dragon bat story (releasing next month in the 14th volume of the Ink Stains horror anthology series, if you didn’t know), is driven by several characters’ needs for revenge and being unable to let go of the past (whether they are right or wrong in doing so, I’ll let you decide). And one or two stories I’m working on now may be motivated by characters’ need to release their anger on others, whether deserved or not.

Given all that, you might be wondering if any horror stories might include forgiveness, or if all of them are unforgiving. Actually, quite a few stories with religious themes include forgiveness. Swan Song by Robert MacCammon and Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chbosky, both of which deal with Christian Apocalypse scenarios and the Devil, feature scenes where the protagonists forgive others, including the Devil himself, who usually can’t take being forgiven for their evil by a mere human and run off to hide in their own misery. And in the 2010 movie Devil, forgiveness plays a huge part in the resolution of the story and in one of the leads being able to avoid being dragged down to Hell.

This is a movie where forgiveness and sin are major themes for the horror.

All of these stories feature the Devil, but there are likely other stories with religious themes where forgiveness features but the Devil doesn’t. And perhaps there are stories where forgiveness is a big part of the story without religious themes as well. In fact, Cujo by Stephen King ends with the Trentons patching up their marriage and forgiving each other after the death of their son. But, at least in my experience, forgiveness tends to stay in horror stories with strong religious themes. The rest of the time, it seems to be “let out your wrath upon all those who have wronged you!”

But is that necessarily a bad thing? Even for the religiously inclined among us (including Jews around the High Holidays)?

I don’t think so. Whether we are misfits because we like horror, or we are already misfits and find a home in horror, both we and our genre of choice have often been maligned by the majority of society. Obviously, this can build some anger in us misfits, as we do nothing wrong but be ourselves. Where better to channel that anger than into our genre, where people often get what’s coming to them? It’s honestly rather therapeutic.

That’s why, even if I forgive someone, I’ll often find some way to write them into a story. It’s a healthy way to get rid of any lingering resentments and build something creative and meaningful while I’m at it. In fact, one could say I’m symbolically or metaphorically purging myself of hate and finding forgiveness for those who’ve wronged me, which I’m sure any rabbi would approve of, especially around the High Holidays.

As to whether I’ll ever write a story where forgiveness is a main topic…I’ll never say never. But it might be a while before we see me write something like that. Forgive me if you were hoping for one!


That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. Sometimes I like getting my thoughts out like this, even if it leads to an essay-length blog post. In any case, I want to wish you all a Shana Tovah, or a Happy New Year. May we all be inscribed in the Book of Life and blessed with a sweet year.

Until next time, good night, pleasant nightmares, and 36 days till Halloween! Ask your doctor if sacrifices to the old gods is right for you!

Well, you know the drill by now. I’ve made it to the third round, the “Conjure Round,” of The Face of Horror Contest. The question is, will I survive to the next one?

So, if you’re unaware, I’ve been participating in The Face of Horror, a contest for horror fans where the winner will get a walk-on role in an indie horror movie and a photo shoot with Kane Hodder in Rue Morgue magazine (among other things). And as of tonight, I’ve cleared the second round, thanks to everyone casting free daily votes and even buying extra votes for me.*

Now we’re onto the third round, the Conjure Round, which goes on till September 29th. To stay in the competition, I have to stay in the Top 10 in my group. Currently, I’m averaging between 10th and 12th place most days, and at the time I’m posting, I’m 13th. I want to think that’s lucky rather than unlucky.

Anyway, you’ve all been really amazing for me these past couple of weeks. I’ve been able to stay in the contest and make it as far as I have because of you. However, I need your help to continue in it and make it to the next round. Only ten people in my group are going to go onto the next round. So please continue voting every day and (if you feel comfortable doing so) buying votes for me. With your action, I could not just make it to the next round, but maybe even win this thing.

That being said, if I don’t win, it’s not the worst thing that could happen to me. I’ve already benefited greatly from your support since the contest began. Still, I would like to see how long we can keep this going for. Maybe all the way to a photo shoot with Kane Hodder, the only actor to play Jason Voorhees more than once? I would love that.

Anyway, I’ll include the link for the contest below, my Followers of Fear. Keep on voting, spreading the word about the contest, and helping me in every way you can. And, until next time, good night and pleasant nightmares.

Face of Horror — Rami Ungar

*Paid for votes go to support the Andrew McDonough B Positive Foundation, which provides funding for research into pediatric cancers.

If you’ve been with me a while now, you know I’ve become a fan of The King in Yellow by Robert Chambers. First published in 1895, the important stories in the collection (and the best ones) revolve around a play called The King in Yellow, which is so twisted that reading it can drive you mad (or make you a slave to the titular entity, if you believe he’s real). The collection has proved influential and has been touted as a classic by many horror writers, including HP Lovecraft, as well as being partially integrated into the latter’s Cthulhu Mythos.

I read the collection after hearing about it last year, and since then, I’ve become a little obsessed. I bought my own copy of the collection, I wrote a short story called “The Dedication of the High Priestess” that combines the character and the lore with ballet (this story will be narrated on the Tales to Terrify podcast some time before the year is out), I created some AI art of the figure, and now, I am the King in Yellow. For Halloween, at least.

What do you think? I went with something more simplistic than I originally planned (big white gloves, an ornate crown resembling antlers and tree branches), and boiled it down to a robed figure with a mask. However, that’s basically the things that most people agree upon when it comes to the character’s appearance, so it works. And I even got a photo of me holding my copy of the collection like it’s the play itself. I think that’s a nice touch.

Credit for the photos go to my sister, Adi, by the way. She did a great job taking the photos this afternoon.

Anyway, I look forward to wearing this costume to events like A Night of Horror at the Bexley Public Library and the Local Author Book Fair at the Licking County Library, as well as hopefully to a party or two (my exact plans for Halloween are still up in the air). And even if people don’t know who the character is, this might get them to read the collection, or at least look him up. But hopefully the former, because it makes for some great Halloween reading.

Speaking of which, if you’re looking for something spooky to reading this Halloween season, might I recommend some of my books? I have four books out now and they’ve all been received well. Some readers have even found them quite terrifying. I’ll include a quick summary of the stories and links to check them out below.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I hope you liked my Halloween costume. But tell me, what are you planning to dress up as this Halloween season? Do you have any big plans? Let’s discuss in the comments below.

Until next time, good night, pleasant nightmares and only 43 days till All Hallows Eve!

The Pure World Comes: A maid goes to work for a mad scientist and gets wrapped up in his experiments. Terror ensues. Gothic horror novel. Very Frankenstein meets Crimson Peak.
Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, Kobo, Goodreads, Audible, Chirp, BingeBooks, LIbro.Fm, Storytel, Google Play

Rose: A young woman gets turned into a plant/human hybrid (and that’s just the start of her problems). Fantasy-horror. Very Kafkaesque and has a lot of Japanese mythology mixed in.
Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada, Audible, B&N

Snake: A serial killer hunts mobsters in New York City. Who is he and why is he killing? Slasher horror. Think John Wick, Taken and Friday the 13th got smooshed into a horror novel.
Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada, Barnes & Noble, iBooksSmashwords, and Kobo

The Quiet Game: Five Tales to Chill Your Bones: Five creepy tales from my early writing and publishing career that will entertain as well as scare you. They’re weird, eerie and a lot of fun. You know, like their author.
Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooksSmashwords, and Kobo.

You like the graphic? It’s based on the one for the official contest. I hope they don’t sue me for that.

If you’re reading this, then that means I made it to the second round–the “Gauntlet Round”–of the Face of Horror contest. And I have to thank all of you for that.

So if you’re not sure what I’m talking about, The Face of Horror is a contest I’m participating in. At the end of the contest, the winner will get a walk-on role in an indie horror film and a photo shoot with Kane freaking Hodder in Rue Morgue magazine, among other things. The first round, the “Child’s Play” round, began on September 6th and ended just a little while ago. Participants advance when people either cast a free daily vote or buy extra votes (portion of proceeds go to pediatric cancer research) for their favorite candidate.

And the fact that I made it past the first round means that you all kept coming back to vote for me over these past several days. I cannot thank you enough for that. It means a lot to me that you would go to these lengths, revisiting my original blog post and my profile page on the contest site every day to vote for me. You kept me in the Top 20 participants in my group, and that means the world to me.

However, now that I’m in the Gauntlet Round, things will be a little tricky. Like I said at the beginning, I don’t expect to win this contest. I’ll be happy if I make it a couple of rounds and get some side exposure or other benefits from it. However, I would like to see if we can keep the momentum up, so I’m asking you to keep voting throughout the Gauntlet Round, which lasts from September 15th to September 22nd. If I manage to stay in the Top 15, I’ll move onto the third round. If I don’t…well, it was fun while it lasted.

Either way though, I plan to give this all I got. So please continue to cast your votes everyday for me, and buy extra if you feel comfortable doing so. With any luck, I’ll continue to stay in the running and maybe meet some new readers that way.

Face of Horror — Rami Ungar

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’ll probably be back in a few days with a post for the Halloween season. Until then, good night, pleasant nightmares, and 45 days and 1 hour till Halloween at the time this post is released!

Well, I have to start this post off with some bad news: I will not be at the Ohio Author Spotlight Event being held by the Pickerington Public Library in Pickerington, Ohio. I’ll get into why in a bit. Stick around, because you’ll want to read on, even if you don’t live anywhere near Ohio.

The good news is, the Bexley Public Library will be hosting another Night of Horror with me and my fellow members of the Ohio chapter of the Horror Writers Association, or HWA Ohio. We’ll be doing readings and selling books at the Bexley Public Library in Bexley, Ohio on Monday, October 3rd from 7-8 PM. The featured authors’ list is still being finalized, but I’ll be there, you can count on that.

And on October 15th, I’ll be at the Licking County Public Library for their Local Author Festival. The fair will be from 10:30 AM to 2 PM at the Licking County Public Library in Newark, Ohio. This year, the library is doing quite a bit to draw in bigger crowds than last year, so hopefully plenty of people show up.

If any of you are in Ohio during those dates, please stop by to say hello. I would be happy to see you, provided you’re not a murderous stalker or just any form of stalker, and I would gladly sign a book for you. And if any other events pop up, I will let you know.

And while this is not an event, you all know that I’m competing in the Face of Horror contest. The first round of the contest ends Friday, September 15th, at which point the Top 20 of each group will move onto the next round. I don’t expect to win, though I would love to meet Kane Hodder and have a walk-on role in an indie horror movie, among other things. But I would like to make it to the next round, and I need your help to do that. Every day, you get one free vote, so please cast your votes using the link below. Or you can buy extra votes (portion of proceeds goes to charity).

Whatever you choose, thank you for your support these past several days. Because you keep coming back and casting your votes, I’ve been able to stay in the rankings in my group and might just make it to the next round. I hope you’ll continue to support me as I work hard and try to make the most of this opportunity for my writing career. Who knows? I may even win.

Face of Horror — Rami Ungar

Finally, why am I not going to the Pickerington Public Library this weekend? Well, that’s because Mystics and Marvels this past weekend was a huge success! I sold all but two copies of The Pure World Comes, which is more than I’ve ever sold at any other event, and earned more than at any other convention I’ve been to. My fellow authors at the HWA Ohio table also sold plenty of books, which definitely made all the work this past weekend worth it. We’ve already put a deposit down on a booth for next year, and we’re planning on bringing more authors with us next year so we all can reach even more readers.

This and other recent events make me think that, even though I’m so busy lately that I often don’t have time to write, that I’m on the path I’m meant to be on right now. It’s like the universe or God or whatever is moving me towards some new chapter of my writing career, and I can’t wait to see what unfolds in that chapter. Maybe more writing time? One can only hope.

Anyway, that’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’ll end this by posting photos from Mystics and Marvels. I’ll probably be back soon, so keep an eye out. And in the meantime, good night, pleasant nightmares, and 47 days till Halloween!

From left to right: Matt Betts, me, Sarah Hans, and Anton Cancre
This is my new author photo.
Definitely one of the most elaborate costumes I saw at the fair, if not the most elaborate: the Skull Bear!
No joke, that is a genuine wolf! Not a dark furred German Shepherd, a real wolf!
A medium made this portrait for me using pastels. Apparently he’s one of my spirit guides, and an English soldier from the Battle of Agincourt who might be my ancestor.
Another great costume, but it was difficult to communicate with this person due to the mask.
You would not believe what it took to get that photo taken.

55 days till Halloween! Who’s excited?

You’re probably wondering what this is about. Well, a little while ago I heard about a contest for horror fans called the Face of Horror. What’s it about? Well, various horror fans and creators sign up to show that they are the greatest horror fans there are. The Face of Horror, if you will. And over the coming days, you’ll be able to vote for the candidate of your choice.

Guess who signed up as a contestant?

That’s right, me. I mean, can you blame me? And what happens if I actually win? Well, I’ll earn $13,000; get to stay in Buffalo Bill’s house from Silence in the Lambs for two nights (apparently it’s a real place in Pennsylvania); a walk-on role in the next movie of the director running the contest, Jim Vendiola; and a photo shoot with Kane Hodder, the only actor to play Jason Voorhees more than once, let alone four times, in Rue Morgue magazine! And all I need is your votes.

Now, I know you guys don’t owe me a thing and there’s no reason for any of you to help me. However, even if I don’t win, this could be a good opportunity for me. By participating, I might get even just a little bit of exposure, which may help me find some new readers. And if I end up winning, this could be a huge boost to my career! I could end up meeting all sorts of new people and followers through this contest.

Plus, you would have my gratitude in helping me move forward through the contest and hopefully furthering my career.

So, how do you vote? Click on the highlighted link below, and it’ll take you to my profile. You can cast one free vote per day during the contest, and can purchase additional votes (a portion of proceeds from purchased votes going to the Andrew McDonough B+ Foundation, which funds pediatric cancer research and financial assistance for families of patients). All you need is a Facebook account and/or a valid credit/debit card (especially if you intend to purchase more votes).

Anyway, this post being out means that the contest has begun, and the first round will go until September 15th. That’s at least ten chances for each person to vote. I hope you’ll consider voting and helping me out with moving onto the next round. Who knows? You may end up helping me further my dreams by leaps and bounds just with your support.

The Face of Horror — Rami Ungar


One more thing: I’ll be at the Mystics and Marvels fair on Saturday and Sunday, September 10th and 11th, from 11 AM – 6 PM, at the Franklin County Fairgrounds in Hilliard, Ohio. This is a really cool convention with Tarot readers and fortune tellers, stones and crystals sellers, and, of course, authors. I’ll be at the chapter for the Ohio chapter of the Horror Writers Association, HWA Ohio, so stop by if you can. You can check out more information at the website here.

And on Saturday, September 17th, the Pickerington Public Library is holding an Author Spotlight Event for Ohio authors at their location in Pickerington, Ohio from 10 AM – 2 PM. I will be signing and selling books at a spooktacular table, so I hope you’ll stop by and say hello.

And if you can’t make it to either event but would still like to support me (in addition to voting, of course), you can always check out one of my books and let me know what you think when you read it. Positive or negative, I love reader feedback and it helps me in the long run. I’ll include links below.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’ll check in again soon. So until next time, happy voting and pleasant nightmares!

The Pure World Comes: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, Kobo, Goodreads, Audible, Chirp, BingeBooks, LIbro.Fm, Storytel

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

Snake: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada, Barnes & Noble, iBooksSmashwords, and Kobo

The Quiet Game: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooksSmashwords, and Kobo.

Hello, Followers of Fear. There are sixty days till Halloween. What have you done to prepare?

Artwork produced by artificial intelligence, or AI art, has become kind of a thing as the technology has advanced. In fact, some months back, there was an app that became a fad for horror writers to generate images and even book covers. And earlier this week, John Oliver featured it on his TV show, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. Here’s the video, if you’re interested. It’s hysterical.

John Oliver’s wife and children must have such a blast telling people who don’t know who he is what he does for a living. “Oh, my husband/dad? He sexually harasses Adam Driver and marries cabbages on TV once a week.”

Anyway, it got me interested enough to want to play around with AI art, so I made an account with one of the recommended companies, Midjourney, and went to work. The results were not only fascinating, but gave me some thoughts on the nascent AI art industry.

First, here are some of my successes. As it turns out, Midjourney’s AI program does very well with Lovecraftian/cosmic horror entities. For example, here’s Cthulhu destroying Las Vegas because I’m not a big Vegas fan (though under the right circumstances I’d visit again).

Then, in order, we have Yog-Sothoth, Shub-niggurath, Nyarlathotep, Azathoth, two pictures of the Deep Ones, the Color from Outer Space, and the King in Yellow.

And portraits of famous people tended to go well with the program. Here are Stephen King, Anne Rice, and HP Lovecraft, three of my biggest influences as a writer, as well as one of Lizzie Borden with an axe. Because why not?

And because I love ballet and try to put dancers in my stories when I can, I made a series of ballet posts, with their titles in the captions.

Dancer and Wolf on the lake
The Little Ballerina Ghost
Dancer in the Egyptian Temple
Dancers on a Moonlit Beach
Little Dancers Running from Lava
Little Dancer and Anubis

Pretty cool, right? Most of them look really good. However, those were success stories, like I said. Here’s what happened when I tried to create Jason Voorhees from the Friday the 13th films.

Yeah, I know. None of those come close to looking like Jason! He’s arguably more famous than Cthulhu, but these were the results. And then there was my attempt at Freddy Kreuger from A Nightmare on Elm Street. Oy freaking vey!

Yeah, who is that? Not Freddy Kreuger, who is definitely more famous than Cthulhu! Honestly, it looks more like my conception of Leland Gaunt, the antagonist from Needful Things by Stephen King. How could the AI get our favorite subconscious serial killer so wrong?

And those are just a few examples. I went through several failures trying to get anywhere close to a specific idea or image, only to give up when I realized the program just couldn’t create it. I couldn’t even create a decent Sailor Moon or an accurate tiger image, and both those prompts have enough references out there that they should have been easy to create something accurate.

Even some of the successes took a lot of work and experimentation, such as The King in Yellow or Little Dancer and Anubis. I won’t even go into detail about how hard it was to get a good Alice in Wonderland pic that wasn’t too trippy. I mean, I know the source material is plenty weird, but not all art based on it has to be super-surreal!

And while I call some of them successes, they aren’t perfect. You can especially see it in the ballerina series, where features like the head and limbs look odd or bent in ways you wouldn’t see on a normal dancer or a Degas painting. Only the tutus and bodices come out well. The rest of their bodies can be a mixed bag.

It kind of reminds me of that scene in 1986’s The Fly, where Jeff Goldblum puts steak through the teleporter and it comes out tasting weird. He figures out that the computer hasn’t learned how to move organic materials, and is instead creating an interpretation or bad imitation of what it thinks steak is. That’s what we have here: the AI has learned how to mimic and create, but it’s still leagues away from making certain things.

And honestly, I’m glad. Art is art because there’s someone behind it with a vision or a passion. You can program a computer to recreate famous art pieces or original pieces, including Batman comics and scripts or horror screenplays. And the computer might even do a good job at times. But there won’t be any passion or soul behind it. Art is art because we’re putting our love and soul into our creations.

And getting to work with a creator? That’s even more special. Believe me, I’ve done it before, and it’s amazing to see your vision come to life with their help. Especially when working on art pieces like book covers. That truly is something special.

That being said, I can see AI-generated art being used for cheap book covers as the technology improves, and the services of artists becoming more expensive. This could especially apply for small presses or independent publishers who need to lower costs while maximizing profits. The only time publishers may use a real artist is if the author is big enough to warrant it.

Hopefully that doesn’t happen, because it would mean we wouldn’t get to see some really amazing collaborations. So, for the meantime, I’ll stop with the AI art (I’ve scratched that itch and I don’t want to pay a subscription for Midjourney, anyway), and continue supporting the artists who create amazing art. Especially horror art.

And now, here are some more pieces I created. Except for a few I’m waiting to reveal till the time is right, here are my other successes. You can ask what was going through my mind when I created these in the comments below. Enjoy, and until next time, my Followers of Fear, pleasant nightmares!

Vampire Mothers and Child
Jump Rope with a Ghost
Jack the Ripper in an Alley
Flaming Giraffe #1
Flaming Giraffe #2
The Necronomicon
Bunny Girl and Hammer
Spooky Alice in Wonderland
Tour entrance of the West Virginia Penitentiary

As you know, I went to another haunted location recently. This one was the West Virginia Penitentiary, which was to be the host of the West Virginia Penitentiary Paracon. Now, you know me, I never pass up the opportunity to visit a haunted location, so the day before the Paracon I visited the prison for a tour.

Now, if you’ve never been to the Penitentiary (and I bet many of you haven’t), it’s a big, Gothic building that reminds me of my beloved Ohio State Reformatory back in Mansfield. Granted, it’s older by about twenty years and was in operation for far longer, and its history is certainly bloodier. In fact, the prison used to be known nationwide as “Blood Alley,” and it was cited by the Justice Department in an investigation of America’s prisons as its worst examples. In the late 1980s, there was a riot there that killed four people, and at one point, an Aryan Brotherhood leader was murdered by his deputy during yard time!

And these are just drops in the bucket: apparently the prison saw about 998 deaths during its operation. And that’s just the ones that we know of that weren’t scheduled executions.

Obviously, the building is supposed to be haunted up to the gills, and I was hoping I might experience some creepy occurrences while there. Sadly, I didn’t, and I couldn’t attend the vendor ghost hunt after the paracon. However, I did feel something in one area:

The “skating rink,” where I got a really bad feeling

There’s this long corridor near where you enter the building for tours called the skating rink. It got that name because during the winter, event today, this corridor ices over and you can skate on it. When the prison was in operation, prisoners were supposed to line up along the walls before going back to their cells, and anyone who would step over a line on the floor would be shot dead. It was a great way to get rid of someone you disliked, and plenty of people did.

I did not know this, but I felt some negative energy in that area. When the tour guide told us about that, it made sense.

I then told our tour guide about my feeling, and he later said to another tour guide as they passed by that he was scared of me (I hadn’t even told him I was a writer yet). I was proud that he figured out to be afraid of me. Very few realize they should until it’s too late.

Some other places that caught my attention were:

This one wall. Can you see a signature? That’s from Zak Bagans, leader of the Ghost Adventures team from TV. Apparently he left his signature there while filming an episode there. However, someone destroyed part of the signature (I think the dude was drunk), and it’s now a funny part of the tours.

This hallway is infamous for a funny reason: apparently the pattern on the floor was imported from Spain, but when Netflix used part of the prison for filming an episode of Mindhunter, they placed their own tile on the floor, ruining the pattern. Netflix is now banned from ever using the prison. I find that hysterical.

This is the Wheel. It separated the main prison from either a residential or administrative section of the prison. Only one other like it exist in the world, in Manchester, England, and it’s the only one in existence still being used.

On the tour, we learned that the prison was used as the filming location for the TV show Castle Rock, and that this particular cell was where Bill Skarsgard stood for his scenes. Standing in that same cell was just plain awesome!

Finally, there was this moment: this section, in addition to having some creepy spirits, is probably the only area in the prison where the cell doors still work. The cells are about five feet by seven, and would usually house three inmates, and they would let us experience what it’s like to be in that cell as a prisoner for a minute.

Naturally, I got it on camera.

Yeah, that was a cool moment. Even if I didn’t get any sort of presence in there.

So, would I go back? Probably, if I could properly investigate the place. There are some shadow figures that supposedly hang around, and I would like to see about contacting some of the other spirits, including ones in areas that weren’t on the tour (some places were just off-limits for certain reasons).

And maybe I’ll get something really creepy on video. Creepier than me, anyway.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’m off to work on Crawler. After this chapter, I may take a break to work on a short story or two. And I might have a post or two to write in the near future. So, until next time, good night, pleasant nightmares, and is that a chupacabra outside your window?

Stock image of a house. Definitely not my condo! Photo by Binyamin Mellish on Pexels.com

As many of you know from reading in this blog, I recently bought and moved into a condo after six years in an apartment complex. And while at first it was a lot of stress, I’ve been enjoying my new home while at the same time updating it, repairing certain things, and thinking of more changes to make (I’m thinking of painting my bedroom green, and my office will definitely be black and white).

Yeah, I’m lucky to have this place.

I know a lot of other people in my age bracket aren’t as lucky.

Let’s face it, housing in the United States is in a crisis right now. There are a whole lot of reasons why that is: fewer affordable apartment buildings available or being built; fewer single-family or “starter” homes available or being built; Baby Boomers and Gen Xers downsizing and taking all the homes that are available because they have more financial resources; wages having not increased for years while the cost of living having grown steadily at the same time; local ordinances making it more profitable to build multi-family homes and homes for higher-earning families; and so much more.

I won’t go more into it because I’m not a subject matter expert, but these videos do a great job explaining the problem:

This one is from The Daily Show showing how desperate things have become and the factors millennials face.

This one from Vox shows how making affordable homes in the US faces more obstacles than just profits.

And Last Week Tonight with John Oliver shows the many problems that folks in many of America’s cities are facing just trying to keep a roof over their head. It’s as funny as it is troubling.

Like I said, I’m lucky. I have a good job and my paycheck has grown with every passing year. Rent in my city has, until recently anyway, been quite affordable and never got too expensive at my place. My student loans were paid off years ahead of schedule thanks to my paternal grandfather of blessed memory, and what was left of what he left me allowed me to really build my savings account. They were further built by putting away the stimulus payments the government gave out in 2020 and 2021. I didn’t have to put those payments towards necessities because my workplace had been doing work-from-home for years, so the switch wasn’t too hard on me and my employer. And I got my mortgage before the interest rate was hiked, so I don’t have to pay extra like a bunch of other people who will be borrowing money in the near future.

Again, I’m lucky.

But even with all that luck, I still had a lot of trouble finding a new home. In the six months I searched for a new home, I heard about high wait lists for apartments in the complexes I applied to. Especially the nice ones that were affordable, and those were few and far between. Most of the ones that didn’t look like they were dens of iniquity or poorly maintained charged well over a thousand dollars per month for one-bedroom apartments. And that was just looking for a place to rent! (I tried to keep my options open.) Of the seven houses and condos for sale I visited, I bid on five. And I was outbid on the first four, sometimes by several thousand dollars.

Getting this place, especially right as I was getting close to my move-out date, was a Godsend.

And I know plenty of my generation are struggling, and will continue to struggle, just to stay in a home. And for many, even a crappy apartment might be too expensive. As in the Daily Show video, plenty of millennials are buying fixer-uppers together, but for many even that is too hard.

And I just hope that, by talking about it, maybe something will change. Not on its own, obviously. What do I look like, the Pope? But maybe, if I join my voice to the chorus advocating for change, then maybe change will come. It’ll be slow, but I hope it happens. And if nothing else, maybe it’ll remind us how lucky we are to be in homes at all. And that nothing in life is guaranteed.

Well, that was a dark note to finish on. How about some photos of my new place?

My bedroom. I’m thinking of painting it green.
Jonesy hanging out on the wall near the kitchen window.
No surprise, my masks make this place so much creepier.
My first Shabbos celebration in the new place. Took a lot of unpacking before I could do this.
You like my new rug? Bought it with a gift card a friend gave me as a housewarming gift.
My new writing space. What do you think?
Finally, my new lamp. I like the meeting of vintage and industrial here.

Well, that’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. If there are any more updates on my home life that I feel like sharing, I will. Until next time, good night and pleasant nightmares.

Happy Birthday to the blog,
Happy Birthday to the blog.
Happy Birthday to Rami Ungar the Writer.
Happy Birthday to the blog.

It’s crazy to think that this blog has been around for eleven years. I’ve told this story before, but I remember when I started this blog in the library near my mother’s house the summer before I went off to college. I hardly knew what I was doing back then. I just knew that blogging might be a good platform to build an audience before I released my first book (which was an inevitability in my mind). And during those first two years of blogging, I was lucky to get one or two views a day. I could have given up plenty of times and this blog probably would’ve passed into obscurity without so much as a whisper.

But I’m pretty stubborn about this sort of thing, so I kept at it. And eventually, opportunities came my way, the blog got noticed and grew.

And now, here I am. I’m not going to go into all the crazy numbers, but I’m approaching 1400 followers on this blog, some of whom have become dear friends of mine, and the blog itself has been viewed over 145,000 times! These days, I average around 50-60 views a day, and at least a couple of likes and comments per post.

And some of you even read my books on occasion. A growing number of you, actually. That’s been a big boost to my creative drive and has spurred me to keep writing and blogging.

And I’m hoping that this next year, I’ll be able to continue to share good news with you. We should see the release of The Pure World Comes audio book, the release of That Which Cannot Be Undone and Hannah and Other Stories, plus a short story or two. But what else? Only time will tell. And I look forward to updating you on the progress of my stories and careers.

And I hope you all continue to support me. Whether it’s reading/liking/commenting/following this blog or reading my books, or both, you’re all helping me along and I can’t express my gratitude enough!

Speaking of which, I’ll leave links to my works down below. If you enjoy horror and want to support a smaller author, or you’re just looking for something new to read, reading my books is a great way to do either. And if you do read one of my books, I hope you’ll let me know what you think somehow. Doing so not only helps me as a writer, but helps other readers decide whether or not to check out my books.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’ll be back soon with another blog post or two. Until next time, good night and pleasant nightmares.

The Pure World Comes: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, Kobo, Goodreads

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

Snake: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada, Barnes & Noble, iBooksSmashwords, and Kobo

The Quiet Game: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooksSmashwords, and Kobo.


Oh, before I forget, the West Virginia Penitentiary Paracon will be occurring on Saturday, August 13th at the West Virginia Penitentiary in Moundsville, West Virginia. Doors open at 11 and close at 5, and there will be authors, psychics, ghost hunters, paranormal investigators, and so much more. I’ll be selling books and reading Tarot cards and I’m looking forward to meeting people. Hopefully I’ll meet some already-committed Followers of Fear. You never know!