Archive for the ‘Reflections’ 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!

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
My favorite films surrounding my remote control.

You know, this may not be the biggest issue in my life. And it may not be the meaningful thing I could write about on this blog. But you know, it’s something I find myself pondering from time to time. What do my Top 6 Favorite Horror Movies say about me and my interests?

(It used to be 7, but I realized while making my list that while I enjoyed the film, it wasn’t something I would gladly watch again and again and again, just say the word go. Also, my tastes change over time, so this list could look very different in ten or even five years, as well as grow or shrink.)

But what does it say about me that I enjoy these particular films? What about them draws me to them? I tried to figure it out by listing them and then listing what I liked about them. Here are the films in question:

Perfect Blue (1997)
Based on the novel by Yoshikazu Takeuchi and directed by Satoshi Kon, Mima Kirigoe is a J-Pop idol who is forced by her agency to transition into acting. This and a violent stalker sends Mima into a violent psychological down-spiral, one which may very well claim her life.

  • One of the few good examples of anime horror I’ve come across in my life. The art style is also excellent, where characters and scenes are animated with a sense of realism rather than the usual anime exaggerations. This gives the horror a certain sense of realism that you wouldn’t normally find in anime.
  • The movie works to make you question, along with Mima, every moment of reality. What is real, what isn’t, what’s a dream, what’s part of Mima’s TV drama and what’s her actual life. It’s all up for debate throughout the movie, with the use of color, quiet scenes vs acting and dancing scenes, and repetition of events making you feel the disorientation Mima feels. All leading up to a final third with a horrific twist.

Color Out of Space (2020)
Starring Nicholas Cage and based on the novella by HP Lovecraft (one of my favorites by him, BTW), a meteor falls in a small West Virginia farm, giving off an odd color that can’t really be categorized. Soon after, strange events start happening on the farm, changing the plant life, the family, and reality itself. All leading to a devastating conclusion.

  • Ask most film critics, it’s one of the best HP Lovecraft/Lovecraftian horror adaptations ever made.
  • The film’s very misleading, at first playing up Cage’s penchant for odd acting and adding in plenty of comedy. Later on, however, Cage’s performance goes from funny to sinister, and the humor vanishes as the number of scary events occur and build, filling with you with dread.
  • The mix of practical effects and CGI is well done, with the latter only being employed as absolutely needed and the former being used enough to make fans of The Thing proud. This allows for the final scenes to be really horrifying, even when chock-full of CGI.
  • Just watch the cutting board and alpacas in the barn scenes. You’ll be scarred for life.

Overlord (2018)
During the D-Day invasion, a small troop of American soldiers sneak into a French town to take out the Nazi’s radio tower, preventing the Nazis from calling for help. What follows is a harrowing ride through hell as the team confronts not just Nazis and the horrors of war, but deadly experiments that may end up changing the tide of the war.

  • Despite being a “Nazi zombie” film, which is usually silly or played for laughs, this film plays it much more seriously. The zombies are almost a secondary feature of the film. The real emphasis is on how war scars and changes you, how horrible the drive to win can make a person, and how war brings out the depravity in all of us. When the zombies are on screen, they’re used sparingly, only to heighten the horror and the stakes.
  • During the scenes where the protagonist explores the laboratory, the emphasis on mood and atmosphere creates a powerful dread of what’s around every corner, under every sheet. If you’ve ever seen or played the game Outlast, it often feels like you’re in the middle of that game, and that is a terrifying thought to have.

Sleepaway Camp (1983)
As a young girl, Angela sees her father and brother killed in an accident on a lake adjacent to Camp Arawak. Years later as a teen, Angela and her cousin Ricky go as campers, only for a strange series of deaths to ruin the summer fun. And in the center of it all, Angela seems to be a fixture.

Who else had their mind blown by this moment in the film?
  • This is a rather unique 80’s slasher. For one thing, the campers are all played by actual teens and tweens, rather than adults pretending to be teens. Coupled with the teens language and behavior, it often reminds me of my own camping days, except less Jewish and more murder-y.
  • There are also prolonged periods between (admittedly inventive) kills, which allows you to really get to know the characters and remind you that these are just kids. This makes each instance of death even more shocking and brutal than it would be if they were in your face one after the other.
  • The twist in this movie is rather famous and forces the viewer to recontextualize everything in a new light. I won’t say what happens, but ooh boy, it’s not the sort of thing you could do today. I’d be interested to see how a remake handles this twist and reworks it for a modern audience. Also, I wish there was a novelization for this movie, because it would be great.

The Taking of Deborah Logan (2014)
A medical student is filming a documentary about an older woman’s battle with dementia. While out at her country home, however, it becomes increasingly clear that this woman is dealing with something else besides dementia: a dark presence has come for Deborah Logan, and it’ll use her to accomplish its sinister goals.

  • Both a found footage and a possession movie, the take on the latter is very unique, both in the victim of possession and who/what is doing the possessing. However, since this is a film about a woman with dementia, it misleads you at first so that you don’t know if what you’re experiencing is really supernatural at first. And when it becomes clear that something supernatural is happening, it becomes both terrifying and tragic.
  • Did I mention this film is terrifying? Not just for anyone whose relatives have experienced dementia (and I’ve heard from people that that’s a form of terror in and of itself), but just as a horror movie it is terrifying. From dark and claustrophobic scenes in an abandoned mine to strange happenings in the house and one bloody scene that freaked me the hell out, this is not a film you want to watch with the lights out.

Prince of Darkness (1987)
A Catholic priest discovers an ancient artifact in the basement of an abandoned church that points to the fulfillment of an obscure end-of-world prophecy. Needing to prove it to the world, the priest enlists the help of several prominent professors from a local university and their grad/PhD students to help quantify this strange, evil miracle. As you can guess, shit really hits the fan.

  • One of John Carpenter’s lesser known masterpieces (which I think is a damn shame), the film has a unique take on God and Satan that feels more at home in a UFO cult, but works really well here. It also has some interesting ideas and themes to explore, such as the nature of evil, the relationship between religion and science, and even an allegory for the AIDS epidemic, which was at a peak when this film was made.
  • Also, while not the scariest thing ever, it is pretty damn creepy and has some truly great moments of horror.

So, there you go. These are my favorite horror films right now. And I struggle to find a unifying theme about why I elevate them above all others. Half of them are from the last decade, two from the 1980s, and one from the 1990s. They all place a lot of emphasis on psychological horror, but how and how much varies from film to film. Only two of them are adaptations of anything. No similar genres, directors or writers, different themes are explored in each one, and I own copies of all of them on DVD or Blu-Ray.

Maybe it’s just that they stick in my head more than others, or that they impressed me in some way that other horror films haven’t. Perhaps they’re the kind of stories I wish I’d wrote, or I like thinking of what I’d do with the material. Wait, no, it’s not that. I think that with every horror film.

If nothing else, I’ll be able to discuss films like Perfect Blue and Prince of Darkness with more people.

Well, maybe you’ll help me find some insight. If nothing else, there’s a chance you’ll be curious enough to see these films if you haven’t watched them before, or give them another watch if you have. You may even notice something I don’t.

You may even make some of them part of your Halloween watchlist this year (63 days till Halloween at the time of this writing). And if you do, I also recommend adding Carnival of Souls (1962), Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988), Rosemary’s Baby (1968), As Above, So Below (2014), The Void (2017), both versions of The Fly (1958 and 1986), the 2013 remake of Carrie, It (2017), and Freaky (2020). All make great additions to your Halloween viewing lineup. Not to mention all the movies coming out starting next month. I’m getting chills just thinking about it!

Anyway, this has been a long post and it’s getting late. I’m going to end it here and call it a night. Until next time, my Followers of Fear, good night and pleasant nightmares!

What are your thoughts on these films? Did you notice anything I didn’t? What are your favorite horror films that you recommend to everyone?

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!

Photo by Vlad Bagacian on Pexels.com

As I’ve mentioned before, I have an audio book in production for my Gothic horror novel, The Pure World Comes. What you may not know, however, is just how far production is. I can now tell you that the audio book files are done and have been sent for quality assurance. And in honor of this special news, I thought I would tell you all about the experience and any advice I have for producing an audio book.

So first things first, how did I produce the audio book? Well, I don’t have the talent, time or equipment to actually narrate my own audio books, so I used a service. Findaway Voices is a service/platform that pairs authors and publishers with audio book narrators (think ACX, but with more distribution options than just Amazon and Audible). And honestly, I found the process to get the book narrated pretty easy. Findaway Voices is owned by the same company as Draft2Digital, the platform that published the paperback and ebook versions, so all I had to do was transfer the books from one site to another. After that, all I had to do was fill out some questions and then do some auditioning.

That’s how I found my narrator, Nikki Delgado. She could do every accent necessary for each character and gave them all a unique voice. Plus, whenever I found something that could use an edit, she got it done quickly and exceeded my expectations. Truly, a great narrator and I’m glad I got to work with her.

If it’s not clear, Nikki Delgado’s a wonderful and professional narrator and if you’re thinking of hiring a narrator who can do British accents, she’d be a good choice.

That being said, producing the audio book was kind of expensive. Not as expensive as that YouTube video I sponsored when Rose came out (click here to watch that video, by the by), but it cost a lot. The majority of that money went to paying Ms. Delgado for her services, plus a bit in taxes for using Findaway Voices and for taxes (it was a service, after all). Not surprising, considering this is an income stream for many of these narrators. It’s a good thing I had some savings and budgeted for the audio book. Otherwise, after buying my own place and all the expenses involved with that, I might be in trouble!

And cost will play a role in determining if I produce another audio book this way in the future. Most of the money I used to pay Ms. Delgado came from the original payment from Readict to license TPWC, so I didn’t really take a financial hit from the payment. It made me appreciate all the more when Castrum Press paid for Rose‘s audio book, because then I didn’t have to pay for it! So if I want an audio book produced of another novel or collection in the future and I’m paying for it myself, I’ll have to do some calculations before I decide if I’m going to do it. And then I’ll have to figure it out how to pay for it if I decide to go for it!

But other than that problem, it was a great process with a good platform and an excellent narrator. So, if you can pay for the work and nothing else is holding you back, I totally recommend you use Findaway Voices.*

Audio book coming very, very soon.

Anyway, now the audio book is with Findaway Voices’ quality assurance team. They’ll check it over and make sure everything’s fine with the recording and the cover art before letting me release it. I’ll let you all know. I’m planning on the first week having the audio book on sale, so I hope you check it out when it’s available.

Until then, I’ll leave the links for The Pure World Comes down below in case you want to check it out. And if you prefer audio, I’ll post links for Rose. After all, that book has an excellent audio book as well.

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

*Whether or not you get your investment back, that will depend on your marketing skills and a few other factors. Good luck to you and me both!

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

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

Jonesy, my skeleton roommate, chills while the rest of us move my boxes in. Honestly, if he weren’t already dead, I might kill him for being so lazy.

In a previous post, I mentioned how stressful and anxiety-inducing packing up for my move had been. Now, I’m unpacking in my new home, trying to make it livable and taking note of what needs to be worked on. And boy, is that a wave of emotions!

As many of you know, I bought my first home recently, a nice condo perfect for a guy living on his own like myself. On the one hand, I’m glad to have finally stopped renting, as now is not a good time to rent and I’m tired of living where I was. I have a quiet place and I can do with it what I want (on the inside and according to cost, at least). But at the same time, my new home is still a mess of boxes, I have so much left to do, I’m already encountering things that need to be worked on, and I’m getting ready to pay the various bills associated with owning a home.

It’s a lot, and every day I feel like I’m on roiling sea of emotions. Happiness, hope, excitement, worry, regret, anxiety, annoyance (mostly because my internet provider screwed up and I won’t have internet till next week), and exhaustion. Mostly exhaustion. Kid you not, I’ve gone to bed every night feeling like I’ve run a marathon from all that I’ve done!

Still, I’m trying to remain positive. Moving out and getting a new home is what I wanted. And of the five homes I bid on, four were in the area I moved to, including the one I got. I can’t help but feel this is fate. And every time I break down a box, I feel like I’ve lightened my load a little bit. And I’m doing everything I can to make sure my mental health doesn’t take a toll. It’s good that I have a strong support network around me, to boot.

And talking about this here on my blog helps.

Also, and this may or may not be related, but I’ve been feeling a strong urge to get back to writing. Not editing, which I’m already doing plenty of, Hannah-related and otherwise, but something new. Perhaps a novel. Perhaps Crawler, the mummy novel I was going to start last year before Hannah was accepted (also, that title is a working title). Perhaps with a new change of home, I want to channel that new energy and all these roiling emotions into some new creative work?

Well, I’ll keep you all informed on any big developments. The next time I write about my new life as a homeowner, I hope I’ll have plenty to share with you, and most of it good news. Not only that, but there are a couple of book anniversaries coming up, so I’ll be sure to post about those somehow. And I’m always hopeful of another advance in my writing career.

In the meantime, I hope you’ll continue to support me by checking out my already published books. Some of them, like Snake and The Pure World Comes, have been getting all sorts of new reviews, and the readers seem to enjoy them, calling them quite scary and engrossing. And the latter has an audio book on the way, which is super exciting. Why not check read the reviews and check them out? I’ll include links below.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’m off to finish up one DIY project and unpack my bedroom and office. Until next time, good night, pleasant nightmares, and don’t set off commercial grade fireworks in residential areas. It can be quite an issue for your neighbors, to say the least.

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.

So, I’ve started the process of packing things up. Today I started by packing my many, many books and DVDs/Blu-Rays, followed by packing up the stuff I use when I’m working my day job from home. Tomorrow, I hope to do my more delicate stuff, like my doll and figurine collection, possibly my plates and kitchen stuff, and a few other things I have around here.

I gotta tell you, packing for this move has been a lot more stressful and scary than I expected. It’s a lot of work, I need to figure out what to pack when, get the packing done before moving, somehow figure out what to do with my food (thankfully, I only have so much in my fridge right now), and a few other things. Honestly, in only one day, it’s affected my appetite so I don’t feel that hungry.

The heat from bringing in the many boxes probably contributed to the appetite. Packing during summer, people!

The thing that’s been scaring me, though, is the idea of packing up my entire life. I’ve lived in this apartment complex over six years now, five in a one-bedroom and eighteen months or so in a two-bedroom. When I first moved here, I was starting my day job and only had so much stuff. Packing up then took only a little while, as did moving all my stuff in. When I moved into the two-bedroom, it was more of a simple transfer, so I packed knowing most of my stuff would just be spread out in a little more space. I didn’t even have to do too much with the stuff with my fridge and freezer. It wasn’t a big change.

But I’m going to a condo I bought now, and that requires a lot more considerations. Not to mention seeing just how much I’ve settled into this complex, only for all of it to be picked up. It’s kind of like my apartment has been an extension of myself, and I’m packing myself away. Or maybe even ripping parts of myself off the walls.

And before you mention me making a story out of that idea, the movie Monster House kind of already did that. Though I do hope to use my experiences of moving into a story someday.

Anyway, I’m taking some time to do some writing work, which is both a source of stress and a way for me to relax. When I get back to the packing, I’ll do it with the goal of conquering my fears. I assume it gets easier the more stuff gets put into boxes and I get further along in the packing process. I’m mostly just blogging to unload and get my thoughts and anxieties out. That worked for the pandemic, so why not for packing for my move?

Wow, that last paragraph went in a rambling direction. Anyway, I look forward to letting you know about how the move goes and everything what happens afterwards. Or possibly in-between. Anyway, until next time, good night and pleasant nightmares!

You know, I’m honestly surprised that, in nearly eleven years of blogging, I’ve never once talked about this subject. Well, no time like the present, right?

“Show, don’t tell” is a common phrase taught by creative writing classes and preached by writers of all stripes. Yet actually figuring out what each one is, how to tell them apart (unfortunate pun intended), and then avoid doing one versus the other is really difficult to do. Especially in your own writing.

Or should I say, in my own writing? Yeah, during editing of Queen Alice, the second story in Hannah and Other Stories, one of the notes that kept popping up was, “This is telling. Show it to us!” And while I managed to get something that would satisfy the editors down on paper, it still left me wondering how I was supposed to do this for future stories. Especially for those in Hannah.

Well, I did what I always do when I’m stumped: I do research. And while I’m still not sure I have the method down, I think I gleaned a few gems that should help.

First off, based on what I’ve found, you don’t just give up telling entirely. You actually do need to tell some things. Telling is good for things like quickly moving through parts of the story that aren’t integral and don’t need a lot of description. A better way to phrase this rule would be, “Show more, tell only as necessary.”

Next, what are showing and telling? Well, “telling” is a lot like summarizing. It’s quickly laying down the bare plot events in quick succession. There’s not a lot of description, but it’s enough to tell you what’s going on. Another way to look at it might be as thinking of the way fairy tales are told. Fairy tales don’t have a lot of details. Instead, they just tell us what happens. For example:

Drosselmeyer gave Clara a gift. She unwrapped and opened it. Inside was a nutcracker. She picked it up and instantly fell in love. “It’s the most incredible toy ever!” she said.

Yes, that’s Nutcracker, though not the original 1816 short story. But it illustrates the point, so who cares?

As for showing, it’s more detailed. Well, that’s oversimplifying it. Showing can be thought of as painting a picture that engages most or all of the senses, as well as what’s the character’s thinking. From what I can tell, the idea is to give the reader enough detail so that they not only see what’s happening and feel like they’re there, but maybe even feel the emotions or sensations the characters are experiencing. Here’s what I think might be a good example:

Hank’s muscle fibers snapped and tore apart like Twizzler Pull-n-Peels, before retying themselves into new braids. His abdomen heaved and roiled as, underneath the skin, organs shifted, burst like rotten fruit, and formed into new shapes. He could hear his bones cracking as they changed positions, stretched and folded in on themselves. And all over his body, his nerves screamed as his body shrunk in some places, elongated in others, and created new structures alien to his form. His mouth swung open, and what might have been a scream vibrated out of his throat. To his ears, it sounded like a train whistle, and he thought he saw whisps of steam rising into the air from his lips.

That was from no particular story. I just tried to paint a picture. And even writing this, I’m not sure I was successful. On the one hand, I want you to feel Hank’s pain. But on the other, I’m aware that I have only so much space, so I need to get through it one way or another. Balancing here is a difficult feat.

Maybe that’s another thing about showing vs. telling: with short stories and novelettes, you’re more tempted to tell rather than show. After all, with a novel, you have plenty of space to go into full detail with a single moment. To show, in other words. But in a shorter work, you need to economize your words, so you can only show when it really matters. Otherwise, you tell people what happens and give them enough to go on without using too much space.

Hoping I get better at showing vs. telling before this comes out.

In any case, it seems there’s still a lot for me to learn when it comes to knowing when to show and when to tell. Hopefully, with more practice, I’ll get better at distinguishing those moments and then how to show effectively. Perhaps with the next, and longest, story in Hannah, ‘The Autopsy Kid and Doctor Sarah,” I’ll get in plenty of practice.

What tips do you have for showing vs. telling? Leave them down in the comments below.

Please leave them in the comments down below. The more help I have with this, the better Hannah and other future stories will turn out.

Well, that’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’ll keep you updated on Hannah and any of my other projects. Until next time, good night and pleasant nightmares.

As you are probably aware, I read Tarot. And in some of my recent readings, especially concerning the month of May, cards have been coming up relating to new cycles in life. Wheel of Fortune, Death, those kinds of cards. And after today’s reading, I had a bit of a revelation: tomorrow is May 1st. And it’s not just going to be a new month, but a month full of changes. And I don’t just mean the weather.*

First, there’s stuff at work. We’re getting ready to go back to the office soon now that the pandemic seems to be winding down (though cases of COVID are rising again in certain areas, including in Ohio, so who knows?). And though my particular section will be going in later and staggering days we’re in the office, and a lot still has to be finalized, it’s still a change after two years working from home.

Then there’s stuff in the writing career. As you all know, The Pure World Comes will release in paperback and ebook on the tenth, so I’m busy promoting the hell out of that. In fact, I think this time TPWC is going to appear on more blogs, websites, and podcasts than Rose did when it came out, so hopefully that, and the fact that I’ll be at ParaPsyCon selling copies at the end of the month, will lead to plenty of people reading and reviewing it.

Funnily enough, both Rose and TWPC involve transformation, so I guess it makes sense for the latter to come out in a month of change and transformation. Hopefully the transformations I deal with won’t be as dramatic or life-threatening. I wouldn’t mind if that transformation leads to the new book doing well.

There are a few other changes I know are happening, though they’re not big enough that I feel like talking about them here. But there might be other big changes on the horizon. I’m actually looking to move out of my current place, so for all I know, I might find where I’ll be living where my rent is up. Though with both the housing and the rental market in a crazy state, I may end up in this place for another year.** Whatever the case, this coming month could be a month where things change dramatically with that search.

Are other changes in my life around the corner? I don’t know. Nearly anything’s possible. I wouldn’t mind if I lost the weight I gained this past month (thanks Passover and home-searching stress!). Well, whatever the case, I’ll try to roll with whatever happens and adjust as necessary. Though if the Tarot cards are anything to go by, it’ll be a good month.

This is from my personal deck and from today’s reading. The center card, the Present card, is The Magician. It represents mastery and having all you need within you. The one on the left, the Past card, is the World. It represents triumph and success, happiness and achievement. Opposite is the Future card, which is The Emperor. It means authority and ambition, as well as achievement and even financial stability. Up top in the Cause position is The Knight of Swords, which represents swift and chaotic movement, or a serious-minded young man (I’m going with the latter this time around). And on bottom, in the Potential space, is The Knight of Pentacles, which represents eventual good news and/or a reliable young man.

The question I asked the cards was, “What do I need to know for the month of May?” Based on the answer, I think May will be a month of good transformations. I hope, anyway.

*Which, let’s face it, this is Ohio. Our weather is notorious for changing at a moment’s notice. In fact, it often does. We joke about it a lot.

**God, I could write a whole post about the state of the market and how mad I am at it. But I won’t, because it’s not that kind of blog.


BTW, Followers of Fear. The Pure World Comes is available for preorder on Amazon! Yeah, they basically lied to me when they said it wouldn’t be. So now, if you would prefer to purchase from there, you can use the link below. And if you decide to read it, let me know what you think. Positive or negative, I love reader feedback and it helps me as a writer, as well as help other readers decide to read the story.

Hope you enjoy the last couple of hours of April, my Followers of Fear. Until next time, good night and pleasant nightmares.

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