Archive for the ‘Scary Stuff’ Category

I know I said I’m trying to cut back on this self-promoting stuff, but you have to admit this is a good enough reason to post.

So, as you all probably know by now, some writer friends of mine and I formed a publishing press, Cracked Skull Press, and are doing a Kickstarter campaign for our first anthology, “That Which Cannot Be Undone.” Every story within the anthology will be set in Ohio, written by Ohio horror writers, and center around the theme “that which cannot be undone.” If we make our funding goal, we plan to release it in October.

And guess what? As of today, seven days before the end of the campaign, we’re just $999 away from making our funding goal! I know! You cannot imagine how excited we are by reaching this milestone.

Of course, we need your help to reach the finish line, so we would be honored if you would pledge your support to the anthology. Folks who do will be listed in the Donors section at the end of the book, but you can also get an electronic and print copy of the anthology sent free of charge; signed copies of books by the contributing authors; amazing swag, including Ohio horror-themed Tarot cards (you’ll plotz when you see who’s on the Death and Devil cards); and for our highest pledges, you could come to our release party with a plus one! You can use the link here to contribute: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/crackedskullproject1/that-which-cannot-be-undone-an-ohio-horror-anthology

And if you’ve already pledged and want to pledge more, you can use the “manage pledge” feature on Kickstarter to increase your pledge. Just saying.

Anyway, thank you all for pledging and sharing the Kickstarter campaign. Working on this anthology has been such a journey and we’re so glad to see that it looks like we might reach our funding goal. And we at Cracked Skull Press know we wouldn’t get this far without you. We can’t wait to show you your support and faith was well worth it.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I just wanted to log on and let you all know where the campaign stands. You’ll hear from me again about this on the results of the campaign. In the meantime, one more thing I want to mention:

A week from this Saturday, January 29th, 2022, I’ll be at the Lafayette Hotel in Marietta, Ohio for the Hidden Marietta Paranormal Expo. It’s a convention full of ghost hunters, psychics, paranormal enthusiasts, and one or two authors like me, which you know is going to be fun! I’ll be there signing books and doing Tarot readings, so I hope to see you there!

Until next time, my Followers of Fear, pleasant nightmares!

Photo by Pedro Figueras on Pexels.com

For those of you who have been following me for a while, every now and then I post about haunted locations I want to visit before I become a ghost myself (because if I get the chance, I probably will become one). Over the past several years, I’ve been lucky enough to visit some of the places I want to visit (in the case of the Ohio State Reformatory, multiple times). My most recent visit was to Zak Bagans’ Haunted Museum in Las Vegas, Nevada, and boy, did I experience some stuff (click here to read more about that).

However, as many as I manage to visit every year, several more always pop up on my lists. So that I have a record of the new places I want to visit, as well as the places some of you will now know to avoid from here on out, here’s my latest list of haunted locations! Prepare to be scared.

Great Saltair Pavilion, Salt Lake City, Utah

There have actually been several Saltair pavilions near the Salt Lake outside Salt Lake City, Utah and they’ve been resorts, amusement parks, concert venues, and dance palaces. Saltair II was even a set piece in the 1962 horror movie Carnival of Souls (which I highly recommend). Currently, only one, Saltair III, is standing, and it’s said that the building houses quite a few spirits. Some of which sometimes get violent when a concert is held in the building.

Both for the history and the hauntings, I want to go.

The Hinsdale House, Hinsdale, New York

I think this is a house my sister told me about. Anyway, the house has quite the history. According to legend, a family moved into the house in the 1970s and came into contact with numerous spirits. And some of these spirits were apparently not very friendly, as a priest from a local Catholic university had to stop by and perform exorcisms several times. Eventually the family moved out, and it went through several hands before the current owner, who turned it into an investigative hot spot.

I wonder who I know in the New York area who would want to join me there?

Virginia City, Nevada

This town was a real Wild West town, and many of the buildings in its historic district are from the 1860s and 70s. Several have been or are being converted into museums, as well as hotels, restaurants, saloons, and more. And from what I understand, quite a few cemeteries and mines from the era as well. And apparently, the majority of them are haunted! To the point you could probably spend a month there and still find new locations to investigate! Um, count me in!

Marietta, Ohio

This is another city I’ve heard has plenty of haunted locations, including the Anchorage Mansion, the Blennerhassett Island and Mansion, the Blennerhassett Regional History Museum, and the Lafayette Hotel, among others. Luckily, I’ll be visiting at least one of the locations at the end of the month for the Hidden Marietta Paranormal Expo, so maybe I can stay in a haunted room the night before and experience something spooky.

The Mark Twain House, Hartford, Connecticut

This historic Victorian mansion was the home of Samuel Clemens, AKA Mark Twain, and his family for nearly 17 years. Today the house is a museum open for tours, educational institute, and (at least before the pandemic) a place for writers’ retreats and weekends. And it might be the home to a few spirits, including the spirit of the great writer himself.

The house of a writer that’s also haunted by said writer? When can I stop by?!

Mary King’s Close, Edinburgh, Scotland

A “close” is a Scottish term for an alleyway, and they’re usually named after a famous occupant. In this case, Mary King’s Close is named after the 17th century merchant Mary King. A century after her death, however, the close was built over for the creation of the Royal Exchange. For centuries, it’s been rumored to be haunted, and since it’s been opened and excavated, those stories have only continued. Is it maybe hallucinogenic gases from a nearby bog? Or is there something still living there, in a sense? I want to find out.

Windsor Castle, England

One of the homes of the British royal family, all sorts of spirits are said to haunt that place! King Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, Queen Victoria, and quite a few more. I doubt the Queen or her family would let any ghost hunting team, let alone me, but it’s fun to dream. And it would be fun just to go. Who knows? Something could happen if I went on a tour!

Eloise Asylum, Westland, Michigan

Pretty sure one of my uncles told me about this one. Just not sure which one. Anyway, located about 30 miles outside Detroit, the Eloise Asylum was originally a poor house before becoming a hospital and insane asylum. It operated for nearly a hundred years and was a massive complex. Today, only a couple buildings still stand, but those that do, as well as a nearby cemetery, are reputed to be heavily haunted. The building is home to regular ghost investigations, as well as haunted attractions during October.

Ah, the number of excuses to visit my relatives in Detroit keep building up.

Punderson Manor, Punderson State Park, Ohio

This giant Tudor-style manor has been a resort since the 1950s and is a scenic place to get away from the world. You can hike, swim, fish, canoe and kayak, sleep, and relax. At least, if the ghosts don’t bug you. Apparently there are spirits who mess around with the staff and guests every now and then. Laughter is heard, objects moved without reason, lights flicker, and apparently terrifying apparitions show up. But if you ignore all that, it could make for a nice weekend getaway.

Hmm…my dad and stepmom live near there. Maybe I can convince them to stop by with me if I sell them on the weekend away from it all.

The Buxton Inn, Granville, Ohio

My most recent discovery is actually a short drive from me. This beautiful colonial house was opened in 1812 and has plenty of history and stories to match its beauty. That, and possibly a few spirits. Orbs, phantom footsteps, a ghost cat, and a “Blue Lady” in room 9 are among the hauntings reported. It sounds like the perfect place for me to hang out this upcoming Halloween…as well as maybe to tell a story at.


Well, that’s my latest list. If I visit any of these locations in the near future, I’ll be sure to let you know. Especially if I experience any activity. But tell me, Followers of Fear, have you been to any of these locations? What were your experiences? Where would you like to go? And which would you absolutely avoid at all costs? Let’s discuss.

Until next time, my Followers of Fear, pleasant nightmares!

Before I get into the meat of this post, I want to tell you a funny story from this weekend: so my youngest sister and I drove up to Cleveland to spend some quality time with my dad and stepmom. Since just about everything was closed due to COVID, we had a movie night and watched Freaky, which I mentioned in my review that my dad wanted to see. Unusual for him, seeing as he hates horror and only reads my work because it’s mine.

Anyway, we’re watching the movie, and in an early scene a girl is getting brutally murdered by the serial killer using a toilet seat. My dad is grossed out by the gore and turns to me, because I was singing the movie’s praises when it came up as a possible viewing choice, and says, “Rami, what the–?”

Just then, the shot changes from the girl getting murdered to two teens hooking up in the garage. We all burst out laughing at the perfect timing. Even my dad found it hilarious. And yes, he enjoyed the film, though he didn’t care for the gore.


Alright. So, as many of you are no doubt aware, I’m involved with a small publishing press, Cracked Skull Press, and we’re currently fundraising for our first anthology. That Which Cannot Be Undone: An Ohio Horror Anthology will be written entirely by authors based in or from Ohio, with their stories set in Ohio, and revolving around the theme “that which cannot be undone.” It looks to be an amazing anthology.

As I said, we’re fundraising for the anthology with a Kickstarter campaign, and we’re currently over 40% funded on this project. And as of today, we’re halfway through the campaign’s duration. It’ll come to an end on January 28th, 2022. And I’m asking you all to help us reach our goal by pledging your support. If you help us get to our goal, my friends and I will be able to put some amazing original short stories into the anthology. Doesn’t that sound like a ton of fun?

We’re working hard to make this anthology a success. I hope you’ll support us and even pledge to the campaign!

Plus, there are a number of perks to pledging to our campaign. Depending on the pledge you choose, you can get listed in the donor section of the book, as well as your very own e-book and paperback copy. Interested in a copy of a book from one of the authors? How about a special limited edition horror-themed candle? Or how about being included in a story by one of our authors? That’s right, you can be included as a character in a story by a great horror author! Doesn’t that sound like fun?

So, if you’re interested in supporting us in the creation of this anthology, you can check out the campaign, the various updates and the awesome pledge choices we have available using the link below. We’ve already announced some of the awesome authors we’ve brought on, and will be posting updates periodically as we get them. And whether or not you can pledge, we appreciate it if you can share news of the campaign on your own blogs or social media. The more people who know about the anthology, the more likely we are to make our goals, so every mention helps.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/crackedskullproject1/that-which-cannot-be-undone-an-ohio-horror-anthology

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I hope you’ll continue to support us as we work hard to make this anthology, and our dreams of writing terrifying stories, roaring successes. And if I don’t post anything new before the end of the week, I wish you all a very Happy New Year. May 2022 be leagues better than 2021 was.

Until next time, good night, pleasant nightmares, and please get vaccinated so society can stop shutting down for indefinite periods of time every four to six months.

Last month, I wrote a story that combined art and my love of ballet with the stories of the King in Yellow. This was after finally reading the stories earlier this year, which was after hearing about them and their titular subject for a few years. Recently, I edited that story and then submitted it to a publication that I think will like it. And after doing so, I just wanted to write a blog post about the King in Yellow, and see how many of the Followers of Fear are familiar with the character.

So, for those of you who don’t know, The King in Yellow is a collection of short stories published in 1895 by Robert Chambers. The first four stories revolve around the titular character. Or to be more precise, around a fictional play revolving around the titular character. This play has the uncanny ability to make those who read/see it lose their hold on reality. Or, in another sense, to put them under the sway of the King in Yellow.

If you would like a more in-depth analysis of the character, the play, and stories than I can give here, you can watch this video which goes in depth on the collection and the stories in question.

Not bad, huh? I find the Tale Foundry channel puts out some incredible work on all things writing and literature.

Anyway, The King in Yellow–the book, the play, and the character–have had quite an effect on horror literature. HP Lovecraft was actually heavily influenced by the book, and some of the themes in the book could be considered proto-Lovecraftian. Some writers have even included the King in the Cthulhu Mythos under the name of Hastur, a name from the original collection, as well as the half-brother of Cthulhu. And plenty of other writers have played in the sandbox of The King in Yellow, both in and out of the Cthulhu Mythos. He’s appeared in tabletop games, video games, all sorts of stories, and even was heavily referenced in the TV show True Detective.

Question is, why? What is it about these four stories and the King that has caused them to endure and slowly germinate into our popular culture?

Well, that’s the thing: it does germinate. Or the play does, anyway.

If you’ve read the stories or watched the video, you might have noticed that the King himself only appears once. Even then, you can’t be sure this isn’t the hallucination of a madman. Really, what we see in the stories is the effect of the play. It’s power to corrupt people, as well as the public outcry against it, has ensured that if someone hasn’t read it, they at least know of it and have seen the damage it’s caused.

Sounds like Twilight, but better and horrifying in the right ways, if you think about it. And it’s a great metaphor for how stories can spread through a populace and change people and culture, for better or worse. Not just fictional texts, like Harry Potter or Uncle Tom’s Cabin, but non-fiction tomes like The Travels of Marco Polo and Herodotus’s Histories, and religious texts like the Bible. All of these had huge effects on the societies they spread through, changing cultures, beliefs, and minds in so many ways.

The metaphor is even more apt if you think of the play as a religious text for those who worship the King in Yellow.

Just one edition of the King in Yellow collection. There are as many as there are ways to tell a story with the character.

Add in that the stories are psychological works where a lot is left to the imagination, combined with some decent and eerie storytelling, as well as ideas that resonate with writers the way Lovecraft’s world would years later, and it’s no wonder people began playing with and adding to the concept of the King in Yellow. And this was happening even before the stories entered the public domain.

Is it any wonder the King has been partially absorbed into the Cthulhu Mythos now?

And like the Cthulhu Mythos, the King in Yellow is becoming more well-known and mainstream, albeit slower than the Mythos. Still, the fact that it showed up in True Detective says a lot. And I hope, should the story I wrote be published, that it’s considered a nice addition to the King’s legacy, as well as helps to spread awareness of the original stories.

Speaking of which, I highly recommend checking out the original King in Yellow short story collection. They’re really eerie and you probably won’t regret checking them out. At the very least, you’ll be able to see how another classic work of horror has influenced the genre as a whole.

Just don’t read beyond the first four stories. The ones afterward don’t really connect to the stories about the play and aren’t as good, making you wonder why Chambers included those stories. I heard that if you read the book in reverse, it reveals something, but I can think of a lot of other stuff I would rather do with my time.

Have you read The King in Yellow or come across works inspired by it? What do you think of the stories? Let’s discuss.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’m going to make dinner, read a story a friend sent to me for feedback, and imagine putting together a King in Yellow costume. Until next time, good night, pleasant nightmares, and beware the Yellow Sign.


One more thing: the crowdfunding campaign for That Which Cannot Be Undone is at 29% funded! And we’ve added a whole bunch of new perks to the campaign, as well as a new author to the anthology!

If you’re unaware, I’m part of a small publishing press and we’re crowdfunding our first anthology, That Which Cannot Be Undone, which will highlight Ohio writers. It’s an exciting new venture, and we’re very excited for you to read the stories that will be included. I’ve already written one story that will be in the anthology, so I hope you’ll support us in making this anthology a reality.

If you’re interested, you can click on the link below and learn more about the anthology. I hope you’ll lend us your support! Thanks, and have a good night!

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/crackedskullproject1/that-which-cannot-be-undone-an-ohio-horror-anthology

Well, I found my least favorite novel of 2021. Given how much hype it’s been getting since 2020, I’m disappointed.

Drawing on Japanese folklore and mythology (gee, who do I know who’s done that before?), the story follows five college grads who go to an old Japanese mansion for a wedding ceremony (sounds like my dream wedding). The mansion is supposedly haunted by a bride whose fiancĂ© died on the way to the wedding, and then had herself buried alive underneath the house. As night falls, strange things occur in the mansion, putting everyone at risk.

I hate to be negative about a novel. I know how hard it is to get your work published. But that being said, I’m still not sure how this novel got published in the first place. There’s so much to hate!

While the location and the concept are cool and the climax did make things more interesting, the rest is a hot mess. For one thing, I barely know these characters, because very little time is spent actually developing them. I know even less about our narrator, Cat, because what we learn about her is mainly just hints. We understand that she has depression and it messed with her pretty bad, but the specifics aren’t given and it just leaves the reader so confused.

As for the other characters, there’s nothing to like about them. One’s a “perfect” billionaire who’s sorry about something he did to the narrator (what, I don’t know); another is supposed to be the narrator’s best friend, but I don’t know anything about him to really get me to like him; one is supposed to come off as funny and instead just comes off as annoying; and the ironically most developed character is the best friend’s fiancĂ©e, who just hates the narrator because she’s insecure and think the narrator wants her man. They all seem to hate each other, yet insist that they’re all friends and should get along. Why they hang out with one another, I have no idea.

At least looking up hitobashira put that one Junji Ito story into context. Didn’t make it any scarier, but it did make it easier to understand.

As for the rest of the novel, there’s a scary story hidden in there that wants to come out, but it’s buried under a lot of problems. The language is trying to be flowery, but there are words in here that I’ve never read before. In the English language, no less! It feels like the author was trying to out-Lovecraft Lovecraft with the wordplay, and succeeded in all the wrong ways! Not to mention the Japanese stuff is never explained. I had to look up most of it myself, which is not a good sign if the book doesn’t spell it out for the unfamiliar reader.*

And finally, the psychological stuff is trying and failing to be psychological. It’s just wacky. Like watching a bunch of people on drugs trying to be profound and get into your mind. And the characters are drunk, but that’s no excuse. If you’re going to go for psychological, at least make sure it’s effective!

On a scale of 1 to 5, I’m going to award Nothing But Blackened Teeth by Cassandra Khaw a 1.3. One reviewer on the book’s back cover called it “The Haunting of Hill House for this century,” and I agree, in the sense that it takes the worst parts of that book and coalesces it into another haunted house. Avoid this one, and go read something else. Trust me, your time will be much better spent on other books.

*When I was editing Rose, I made sure that the Japanese concepts of kami and oni were spelled out because I knew plenty of my readers, including my parents, wouldn’t know anything about them. The novel has gotten a couple of negative reviews, but nobody’s criticized it for not understanding the Japanese mythology/folklore/religious stuff.

I won’t say Rose is better because of that, though. I’ll leave that up to the readers to decide. I’m just explaining what I did differently.


Just a note, Followers of Fear: today marks one week till the crowdfunding campaign for That Which Cannot Be Undone goes live. If you’re not aware, some of my fellow Ohio horror writers and I came together to create a small publisher, Cracked Skull Press, with the goal of putting a spotlight on Ohio horror writers. We’re gearing up for our first anthology, That Which Cannot Be Undone, the stories of which will be set around the theme “that which cannot be undone,” set in Ohio, and written entirely by Ohio horror authors.

Of course, we’re going to need your help to make it happen. We’re doing a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter starting November 29th and hoping to raise ten thousand dollars for paying the authors and editor, as well as other costs. And if you support the anthology, not only will you help us shine a light on Ohio horror, but there are perks to be gained for pledging your support.

And if we don’t make our goal, you won’t be charged for it. So your pledge won’t be taken unless we make our goal. That being said, we hope and think we’ll make our goal, so we hope you’ll join us. You can check out the project and sign up for notifications using the link below.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/crackedskullproject1/that-which-cannot-be-undone-an-ohio-horror-anthology

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’m off to work so I can work on my stories later. Until next time, good night, pleasant nightmares, and, if I don’t check in before Thursday, Happy Thanksgiving!

It’s time I tell you about something exciting. A project I’ve been working on in secret with my friends and fellow Ohio horror writers.

So, for a while now, my friends and I in the Ohio chapter of the Horror Writers Association have wanted to put together an anthology of Ohio horror and bring some attention to the writers here. I mean, we’ve got Bram Stoker nominees and winners here, for the love of God! But the HWA has its own anthologies and standards for those anthologies, so chapters can’t do their own anthologies under the HWA banner. The only solution was to either partner with a publisher, or to form a publishing press ourselves.

Some of my friends in HWA Ohio and I decided to go the latter route.

Over the course of the pandemic, we formed Cracked Skull Press, did a ton of research and planning, and now, we’re working on putting out our first anthology: “That Which Cannot Be Undone: An Anthology of Ohio Horror.” This anthology will be full of stories set in Ohio, written by Ohio horror authors, and revolving around the theme “That which cannot be undone.” We’ve already brought on Bram Stoker winners Lucy Snyder, Tim Waggoner, and Gary Braunbeck, as well as NYT and USA Today bestselling author Megan Hart, as well as Bram Stoker winner Jess Landry to edit the anthology. My friends and I are super excited for this anthology and we can’t wait for you to read what we come up with!

However, to get this project off the ground, we’re crowdfunding the anthology on Kickstarter. We’re looking to raise $10,000 to pay authors, cover Ms. Landry’s editing fees, and take care of other costs. And that’s where you come in: we’re hoping you’ll support us in this endeavor. All pledges are voluntary, and you won’t be charged unless the campaign is successful. Plus, there are all sorts of perks with pledging, such as swag and copies of the final project!

And like I said, it’s all voluntary, so you don’t have to pledge if you don’t want to. However, we hope you’ll support us and make this project a reality. As I said, we’ve got a lot of talented horror writers here in Ohio, and we want to show people that. And who doesn’t like new horror? Besides non-horror fans, I mean.

Anyway, the campaign starts on November 29th and runs for 60 days. You can check it out using the link below and sign up for notifications from the campaign. My friends and I at Cracked Skull Press thank you for your support and we can’t wait to show you what we Ohio horror writers can come up with.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/crackedskullproject1/that-which-cannot-be-undone-an-ohio-horror-anthology

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’ve got a YouTube video to make for the campaign and then a new short story to finish (it’s literally consuming me from the inside out!). Until next time, good night and pleasant nightmares!

Well, I’m back from my vacation. I enjoyed making memories in St. Louis, the city I was born in but did not remember; I learned I am not a Las Vegas person, but that the Mob Museum is really cool, as is Zak Bagans’s Haunted Museum (more on that later); and I absolutely fell in love with New Orleans, especially the French Quarter.

Now that I’m back, though, I’ve got work to do. And I don’t just mean my day job (though that will be taking up a good chunk of my time). I’m ready to get back to writing and finding homes for my stories. Here’s what’s on the docket:

The Pure World Comes and Hannah

I’m hard at work on getting a paperback, ebook and even an audio book of The Pure World Comes out next year. The goal date is the first Tuesday of September, September 6. Why that date? It’ll be a little over a year since The Pure World Comes was released on the Readict app, and right as the Halloween season gets into full swing. And a lot of books, including successful ones, release on Tuesdays, so might as well.

Anyway, I’ve gone through the manuscript for TPWC again and cleaned up some of the errors I missed for the Readict version (don’t tell VitaleTek). I’ve looked into some platforms that will get a paperback and ebook onto sites like Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and one that does audio books as well. And I’m talking with some audio book narrators. With any luck, I’ll definitely have the paperback and ebook out on September 6 and the audio book out not too long after, if not on the day of.

As for Hannah, the new collection of short stories that was accepted for publication while I was traveling, I cannot wait to send copies to people I know named Hannah and make them think the titular story is based on them (believe me, it’s not). Also, I was just emailing with the publisher, BSC Publishing Group, today. We’ll soon be starting work on the stories, just as soon as an editor is settled on. Once that’s done, I imagine we’ll go through each story, editing until it’s as close to perfect as possible. Then we’ll discuss a final order for the collection, and then let it out into the world.

Anyway, I’ll keep you posted on this. The hope is to get Hannah out at some point in 2022, so I imagine things will be hectic moving forward. Still, if people enjoy the book when it comes out, than it’ll be worth it.

And that brings me to my next point…

Crawler

I know I was going to start work on this novel right after I got back from my vacation. And you know, I still want to. However, Hannah is going to take up A LOT of time. In fact, it might take up as much time as a novel might. With all that in mind, it would be a bad idea to work on a new book while editing another. I would keep bouncing back between one and the other, and I would get super-annoyed by how little progress I’m making on Crawler because I have to keep putting it down and work on Hannah.

So, for now, Crawler will have to wait.

Yeah, I know. I was excited for it as well. I even made some edits to the outline the other day and thought it would be a kick to work on. But that’s too much of a balancing act when I’m still working a day job.

Still, I want to work on new stories. I don’t want to just be editing, especially in-between the stories that need working on. Luckily, I have a million ideas for short stories, including about ten that I came up with during my vacation. Not only that, but I’ve had some success lately writing and finding homes for shorter works, and they’re easier to put down if something comes up.

So, when not working on stories in Hannah, I’ll be working on new short stories and novelettes, and hopefully finding homes for them after they’re edited. Not sure which one I’ll work on first, but I’m currently leaning towards one that incorporates elements of Masque of the Red Death by Edgar Allan Poe (and no, it’s not a pandemic story. I did that already this year). It should be fun to work on.

And eventually, I will get to writing Crawler. It’s just a matter of the right time.

Other Projects

Of course, I also have stories to edit for other publications. “The Hanukkah Massacre,” co-written by Richard Gerlach, will be published in Dead of Winter early next year, and we’ll have to edits for that. Not only that, but I have another project I’ve been working on that I may actually be able to talk about very soon.

So yeah, as it turns out, I’m going to keep being busy this year. Probably into the beginning of next year. Still, it’s better than not having anything to work on. And hopefully all this leads to more people reading my work and letting their friends know to read my work.

One last thing before I sign off, though:

Zak Bagans’s Haunted Museum

If you didn’t already know, Zak Bagans from the TV show Ghost Adventures has a museum in Vegas filled to the brim with haunted artifacts he’s collected over the years from ghost hunting, as well as items donated to the museum. This includes haunted dolls, actual skulls and skeletons, shrunken heads, serial killer murderabilia, and more stuff than I can name! I was there on October 30th, Devil’s Night, for a tour, and then a few hours later I went back for some late-night ghost hunting, what they call a flashlight tour.

And I experienced stuff on both tours.

Highlights include:

  • In the room with Ed Gein’s cauldron and shovel (inspiration for Norman Bates and Psycho, if you don’t know. Look him up), I smelled the smell of cooking meat. Apparently I’m not the only one who smells that in that room, either. Considering he made clothes out of body parts, God only knows what he did with that cauldron!
  • There’s a room with a guitar that might be possessed. It was found on the body of a teenager who died while playing the guitar. I felt so uncomfortable in that room. Nothing really happened in there, and it didn’t have mood music like the basement did (Satanic rituals supposedly took place down there), but it freaked me out anyway. I did not like that room.
  • The Dybbuk Box (inspiration for my story “Samson Weiss’s Curse” and the movie The Possession) had a few things happen. Using a device called a spirit box (it scans through radio frequencies quickly and any voices that come through over multiple sweeps might be a ghost or other spirit), I heard a voice come through saying “dybbuk” multiple times. And at one point, when I asked if anyone was in the room with me, I heard a woman’s voice whisper, “Yes.”
  • In another room containing the remains of a demonically possessed house Zak owned in Indiana before having it torn down, I got some voices through the spirit box. At one point, I asked if anyone wanted to talk to me, a voice responded immediately: “No.”
    Yeah, I thought that was cheeky, too. But that’s not all. Another device called a MEL-meter went off at one point in that room (it measures electromagnetic changes in the air around it) and later, a woman’s voice hissed through the spirit box, “Raaaah!” And I knew it was trying to say my name!
  • Finally, in one room containing a painting taken from Adolf Hitler’s vacation home, Bergdorf, I got voices coming through the spirit box. Apparently, there’s an evil energy attached to the painting and it affects anyone who touches it. I asked if anything evil was attached to it, and a voice came through saying, “Evil.” I then asked if it might be Hitler’s spirit, and I got a “Yes.”
    Not sure if that was actually Hitler’s spirit, as the painting wasn’t near Hitler when he committed suicide. It may have just been an evil energy/spirit messing with me (or nothing at all, if I’m being skeptical). But it made me smile to know that this Jew was standing in front of a painting belonging to Hitler and maybe his ghost and letting him know how bad he failed. I almost went “Neener, neener, neener” to the painting, but provoking the spirits wasn’t allowed.

Oh, and guess who was there? Right before we went into the house to explore for ghosts, we watched a safety information video. Then we split up into two groups. And as my group went around the corner to the building’s back entrance, guess who passed us by and wished us luck? Zak Bagans! I turned to the girl in front of me and whispered, “That was him!” She replied, “I know!”

And yes, he’s as tall as he looks on TV. In fact, I think he’s about a head taller than me. I just find that an interesting detail.


Well, that’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I have work in the morning, so I’m going to get to bed. I look forward to letting you know what’s going to happen next (whatever that is). Until next time, good night and pleasant nightmares!

Raise the banners of all the Dark Lords! Wail in terror and in jubilation! Dance like the flames and music of Hell are moving through you! Halloween is here! I’ll be posting about my Halloween activities later on, my Followers of Fear (believe me, there’s plenty to talk about while I’m in Vegas during this holiday). However, the reason you’re here is because there are new releases today. Two new anthologies and a new issue of a magazine, to be precise. So, without further ado, let’s get into it!

The Jewish Book of Horror

From the Denver Horror Collective comes an exciting new anthology! I recently spoke to the Columbus Jewish News about the release of TJBOH (you can read that here if you’re curious), and I mentioned that Judaism and the Jewish people are no strangers to horror. All of our history involves other nations trying to annihilate and subjugate us, so we haven’t had to make up monsters to menace us that much. We have enough of those without using our imaginations.

That’s partly why I’m so excited to be part of this anthology (that, and some good old Jewish pride). As far as I’m aware, nothing like this has ever been released before. We’re literally breaking new ground here! I’m so honored to be part of it. So with that stated, I hope you’ll check out TJBOH and let the readers and writers know what you think. And if you don’t, I’ll make your cholesterol test come back with terrifying results (now that’s a Jewish horror if ever there was one).

The Jewish Book of Horror: Amazon, B&N

Dark Nature: A Horror Anthology

You know, I didn’t think I would get into this anthology. Besides the huge amount of competition to get in, my story “Natural Predators” is a pandemic story, and we’re in the middle of a pandemic. However, it was accepted and I can’t wait for everyone to read it!

Not only that, but you should get ready to read the rest of the anthology. Thirteen hair-raising horror stories about Mother Nature getting her revenge against humanity for all the shit we’ve put her through in the name of our survival and greed. I’m looking forward to hearing what people think of it. As well as basking in the irony that they may be reading the book in a paperback format. Enjoy!

Dark Nature: Amazon

The Dark Sire issue 9

I was really excited to learn one of my stories was going to be serialized in The Dark Sire. Issue 8, which came out back in July, was full of amazing stories. And not only that, but I heard from people saying they were intrigued by my story “Blood and Paper Skin” and wanted to know how it would end after reading Part One. Well, Part Two is out today in Issue 9 (Amazon link coming soon, so I’ll post that later), and I’m looking forward to hearing what everyone says about it.

I’ll leave links to both issues below. If you haven’t checked out Issue 8, I suggest you check it out and enjoy the stories and poetry within. And for those who buy Issue 9, I’m looking forward to hearing what you think of Part Two of “Blood and Paper Skin.” Things are about to get violent.

TDS Issue 8: Amazon

TDS Issue 9: Website download

One More Surprise…

You guys remember Indie Author Book Expo? It’s the group that held that book expo in Iowa I attended last year, and was hosting the one in Aurora until COVID-19 canceled it. Anyway, the group put together a horror anthology and I contributed a story for it, “Afternoon Tea,” about a haunted silent film. I kind of forgot about it because I got busy, but then the anthology, “Nightmare Collective Part 2,” was released yesterday. The book’s sales will benefit future Indie Author Book Expo events, so if you would like to help indie, hybrid and/or smaller-name authors continue to have venues to sell their work directly to the people, buying a copy and leaving a review could help. I hope you’ll check out “The Nightmare Collective Part 2” and let people know what you think. And I hope you’ll let me know what you think of “Afternoon Tea.”

Nightmare Collective Part 2: Amazon


That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’m off to enjoy myself on this fabulous Halloween day. I hope you will enjoy yourself as well, while also checking out these new additions to the world of horror literature. Until next time, pleasant nightmares and Happy Halloween!

Hi Followers of Fear! I’m writing from lovely, enchanting Las Vegas! Actually, it’s more elaborate, gaudily opulent and sensory overload-inducing Las Vegas. It’s both, really. And extremely expensive. Whatever, I’m going to enjoy myself here! But first, I have an exciting announcement. One worth getting on the blog and writing up a blog post early for!

As many of you are aware, I’ve been working on getting another collection of original short stories out. I even did a ton of editing over the summer to make it happen. Well, I’m happy to say, all that work paid off! Yesterday at 3:15 PM in St. Louis, I signed a contract with BSC Publishing Group to publish a new collection of short stories, “Hannah and Other Stories.” So, without further ado, here’s a temporary cover that I created until we get something a bit more professional.

Not bad, right? This is actually a hint as to the subject matter of the titular short story. No, not toilet humor or toilet horror, I put all that into The Pure World Comes. In fact, the short story Hannah was inspired by a famous legend from Japan. If you can guess what it is without Google, congratulations! We can be friends.

Also, the titular character in the titular short story is not named after any of the people named Hannah I know. And believe me, there are a few. It’s a popular name in the Jewish religion.

You hear that, Hannah P. whom I went to high school with and sometimes saw at Ohio State? This has nothing to do with you! Though I may send you a copy when it’s out as a cheeky present.

Anyway, where was I? Oh right. Well, in addition to “Hannah,” there are six other stories in the collection: “Queen Alice,” about a mythical Internet boogeyman. Or boogeywoman, to be precise; “The Autopsy Kid and Doctor Sarah,” about a budding serial killer; “Fuselli’s Horses,” about a rather interesting breed of horse; “The Red Bursts,” about a town whose residents become reluctant witnesses to something terrifying; “What Errour Awoke,” about how one innocent reading during an English literature course leads to a terrifying situation during the COVID-19 pandemic (already putting it into my fiction, don’t you know); and “Poor, Unfortunate Souls,” about a party underneath the streets of Paris which takes a turn for the awful.

I look forward to hearing what you all think of the stories. There’s likely going to be a lot of editing over the next year or so, but I have confidence we could see this book out some time in 2022. What this means for the paperback/ebook release of The Pure World Comes, or writing my mummy story Crawler, I can’t say at this point. But all I can say is, I think the next 365 days will be quite eventful.

My view from my hotel in Las Vegas. I can’t wait to have fun in this city.

And in the meantime, if you’re looking for good stories to read, I have plenty available now while you wait. I hope you’ll check them out while I work on Hannah and releasing The Pure World Comes in paperback and ebook. Not only will find them entertaining and possibly terrifying, but it’ll help me out while I’m writing and editing. Also, if you do end up reading one of my stories, let me know what you think. Email me, or leave a review online somewhere. It’ll let me know what you think and help other readers decide whether or not to check out my work. I’ll leavve the links below.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’ve got to film a YouTube video and then grab dinner before having a proper celebration in my hotel room tonight. Until next time, good night, pleasant nightmares, and prepare for Halloween in three days! If you don’t, I will obliterate you from the face of the Earth! Mwa ha ha ha!!!

The Pure World Comes: Readict app (free with ads)

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

Rose: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada, Audible

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

Agoraphobia: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada

Mother of the King: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada

Everyone probably knows Scooby Doo. That dog and his human friends have been solving mysteries and getting into hijinks since my parents were small. However, what most people don’t know is of the other dog dealing with ghosts and ghoulies, Courage the Cowardly Dog. This series aired during the late 90s and early 2000s, and followed a little dog named Courage living on a farm in Nowhere, Kansas with his kindhearted, elderly Scottish owner Muriel and her crotchety husband Eustace Bagg. There, Courage would be forced to fight supernatural, paranormal, and sometimes just weird threats to his home. It was dark, surreal and a ton of fun.

And someone at Warner Bros. had the genius idea that, since Scooby-Doo and Courage the Cowardly Dog have certain similarities, why not have them crossover? Thus came about Straight Outta Nowhere: Scooby-Doo Meets Courage the Cowardly Dog. And fans of both series have been wondering since: is this movie as genius as the idea?

As someone who has been looking forward to this film as much as Halloween Kills, I can confirm it is.

Straight Outta Nowhere starts with Scooby and the gang finishing off a mystery in Kansas when Scooby hears an odd sound and feels an overwhelming compulsion to find the source. This leads him to run off to Nowhere, home to the highest number of strange occurrences in the world, and meets Courage. The two dogs quickly become friends, which is good because giant cicadas have risen up and are attacking people! And surprisingly, this isn’t a normal Tuesday for Nowhere.

There’s a lot to like about this film. The animation styles for Scooby Doo and Courage are highly different, but the animators managed to synthesize them into something that works. Not only that, but the writing is really good and the characters play off each other very well (it’s cute how much Muriel and Velma become besties within five seconds). It also feels like the Courage TV show I remember as a kid, with random monsters unrelated to the main plot showing up at random to menace the cast. Having the Scooby gang trying to logic this stuff out when logic clearly has no place in this story adds a bit of hilarity to the story as well.

Add in all sorts of Easter eggs from the original TV series (haunted mattress for the win!), references to Monty Python and Young Frankenstein, a decent explanation for why Nowhere is so weird without overtaking the actual plot and characters, and some stellar writing, and you’ve got a great movie here.

That being said, it’s not perfect. I would have liked to see some more of the minor characters from Courage the Cowardly Dog, such as the psychic chihuahua and Dr. Vindaloo. And for some reason, Eustace is given a hip-hop number, to which I say, “Why?”

However, all in all, Straight Outta Nowhere is a great mashup of these two shows and will delight fans of both franchises. On a scale of 1 to 5, I give it a 4.5. It’s hilarious, delightful, and might end up in my DVD collection someday.

It’s certainly better than Scooby Doo and the Curse of the 13th Ghost, anyway. That was a big middle finger to fans of the TV show it’s based on and misunderstands what made The 13 Ghosts of Scooby Doo good. It’s basically the Friday the 13th remake of Scooby-Doo. Yes, I trashed the Friday the 13th remake again! Bite me, MIchael Bay!