55 days till Halloween! Who’s excited?

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

Guess who signed up as a contestant?

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

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

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

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

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

The Face of Horror — Rami Ungar


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I got to know Heather Miller earlier this year, and I saw from the get-go that she was passionate about horror. In fact, she’s become well-known in the horror community as a horror reader and reviewer, to the point where she gets through multiple books a year and posts her thoughts on them. I considered it a true honor when she gave The Pure World Comes a four-star review.

I also learned that Heather is a writer as well, and that she had a book coming out. I not only volunteered to be an early reader (my review will be out later this month), but to interview her for my blog. So, sitting with me here today to discuss her upcoming collection, Tales My Grandmother Told Me, is Heather Miller.

Rami Ungar: Welcome to the blog, Heather. Tell us about Tales My Grandmother Told Me and some of the stories inside.

Heather Miller: Tales is a collection based on old stories and songs my grandmother used to tell and sing.  These stories are family heirlooms in a way, part of our oral history. In the book you’ll find stories of both supernatural and entirely man-made horror, you’ll find stories which are based on real events and stories which are clearly made up.  You might even find a bit of humor.

RU: What was the impetus for this collection? And was it difficult to turn those tales and songs into stories?

HM: I’ve always had it in the back of my mind to take Grandma’s stories and share them with the world.  I chose to do this collection at this particular time because my mother was in failing health and I wanted her to see our family’s stories go out into the world before she died.  Unfortunately, she passed away recently and never got to see the final copy, but she read the stories as I wrote them and knew the book was coming out.

I really didn’t find it difficult to turn the old tales into stories.  These are stories which have been percolating in my brain since childhood, so when I sat down to write, they just flowed out of me.  Some were certainly easier than others.  One in particular gave me trouble as it was one I remembered only vaguely.  But honestly, I had a lot of fun taking the old tales and twisting them around a bit, adding to them, making them my own while still honoring the old storytelling tradition of my grandmother.

RU: Did you have a particular audience in mind when you wrote the collection? Were you hoping to pass these stories to your children like your grandmother passed them onto you?

HM: The great thing about this collection is that these stories are unnerving enough to give an adult the creeps, but also perfectly suitable for older children to read.  There’s nothing in this book (aside from horror) that would be considered too “adult” for kids.  While this is certainly not a children’s book, or even Young Adult, I think these are easily stories that adults could read with their kids, if those kids like a good scare.

RU: What are some other works you’ve written? And do you have anything else coming out?

HM: I have a novella out, called Knock Knock.  It’s a modern Gothic ghost story.  Also I have stories coming out in a couple of anthologies later this year: my story “The Far Field” is part of the book These Lingering Shadows (Last Waltz Press), and my story “Baba Yaga in Repose” is in the book Into the Forest: Tales of the Baba Yaga (Black Spot Books).

RU: In addition to writing horror, you also regularly read and review horror from a variety of authors. In fact, you’ve gained a reputation as a discerning horror reviewer. How does that make you feel? Is that something you set out to do?

HM: Honestly, I just like to talk about books.  I never dreamed when I first started my Bookstagram account that just a couple of years later, publishers would be sending me books like crazy and authors would wait anxiously to hear what I had to say about their writing.  It feels good, don’t get me wrong, but it’s also sort of weird to me still.  I’m just a girl who likes to read, likes to be scared, and likes to tell other people when I find a good book.  I also have come to love the literary horror community.  They are the most amazing people.

RU: What is it about horror that draws you in? And are there any particular kinds of horror stories or genres that you gravitate to the most?

HM: I’ve always loved horror.  Even as a small child, reading picture books, I was drawn to horror elements.  It could be June and I’d still go straight to the Halloween books section when we visited the library.  If a book had witches or ghosts or creepy monsters, I wanted it.  As I grew older, I discovered adult horror and delved right in.  I think I like horror because it is such an escape.  It’s fantastical because these things will never really happen but it’s so exciting to lose yourself in that world of suspended disbelief for a while.  And who wouldn’t want to live in a world where ghosts and witches and vampires are real?

I will read almost any kind of horror as long as it’s well-written, but my deepest love will always be for the old-fashioned kind of horror, the Gothics (original and modern).  A heroine finding her inner strength while battling evil in a haunted house will never get old to me.

RU: I hear that. Now, what is some advice you would give to other authors, regardless of background or experience?

Tales My Grandmother Told Me, out September 27th.

HM: Good readers make good writers.  Read like crazy.

Don’t be afraid to write what makes you happy.  You don’t have to write a certain way or in a certain sub-genre (or NOT write a certain way or avoid a certain sub-genre) just because it’s the current trend. Whatever you write, if well-written, will find it’s audience.

Find your voice.  Find your brand.  Know yourself and let that bleed into your work.

Kill your darlings but pay your editors.

RU: All good pieces of advice. Finally, if you were stuck on a desert island for a little while and could only bring three books with you, which books would they be?

HM: The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury, and The Collected Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe

RU: Excellent choices. Well, thank you for joining me on the blog, Heather. Good luck with the release of Tales My Grandmother Told Me.

If you would like to check out Tales My Grandmother Told Me, you can find it available for preorder from most retailers and will release September 27th. And if you would like to connect/learn more about Heather Miller, you can find her on her website, Heather Miller Horror, as well as on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I hope you’ll check out Tales My Grandmother Told Me once it releases (as well as my review once it’s out). Until next time, good night, pleasant nightmares, and 58 days till Halloween!

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?

If you don’t know some of the acronyms I use on this blog, you’re probably going, “What the heck is this post about?” Don’t worry, I won’t leave you hanging.

So, as many of you know, some of my fellow Ohio horror writers and I formed a small press to publish an anthology written by Ohio horror writers. This anthology is called That Which Cannot Be Undone, or, TWCBU, and is made up of some of the best horror writers in Ohio, including Megan Hart, Tim Waggoner, Gary Braunbeck, Kealan Patrick Burke, Lucy Snyder, and Gwendolyn Kiste.

Oh, and this dude named Rami Ungar is part of the anthology. Have you heard of him? I think he’s written a few things.

I’m pleased to announce that not only are all the stories finalized and approved for publication, but we have finalized the cover and are revealing it to the world. So, without further ado, let us not undo reverse course and reveal our new cover!

What do you think? The cover was designed by Greg Chapman, an Australian horror writer and artist (you can find his work on his website here), and we love what he’s done here. It kind of reminds me of the movie Oculus, and it just gives you the shivers! I think we’ll get plenty of readers just from the cover alone.

As for when it comes out, we’re currently on track for an October 2022 release. Once we’re ready to release, we’ll be sure to let everyone and their cousin know so you can get a copy if you so desire. And I hope you do. We put a lot of work into showing just how scary Ohio horror writers can be, and I bet once you read it, you’ll gain an interest in the writers from our state. An interest that cannot be undone.

Yes, I went there. Can you blame me?

On another note, the audio book for The Pure World Comes, or TPWC, was just released on Audible. If you’re not aware, this is my Gothic horror novel about a maid in Victorian England who goes to work for a mad scientist. Think Frankenstein and Crimson Peak had a baby together. The audio book came out last week, but because Audible is owned by Amazon and they dislike it when you self-publish using a service other than one they own, they held it for a week. But now it’s out, so I’m letting everyone know in case they were waiting.

I hope you take a listen to TPWC and if you do, I hope you’ll let me know what you think of it. Positive or negative, I love reader feedback and it helps me as a writer, as well as helping other readers/listeners.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’ll check in again soon. Until next time, good night and pleasant nightmares!

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

Tour entrance of the West Virginia Penitentiary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some other places that caught my attention were:

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

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

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

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

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

Naturally, I got it on camera.

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

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

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

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

Hide in your homes and pray for mercy! I got an acceptance this weekend! “Trauma and Disillusionment Sometimes Go Hand in Hand,” AKA the dragon bat story, is going to be published! It’ll appear in this year’s upcoming Ink Stains anthology from Dark Alley Press!

So, a little background for those of you who weren’t reading this blog last year. About a year ago, I posted on my social media about “releasing the dragon bats!” No reason, I just like to post weird stuff on my social media feeds to remind people that I love the scary and the macabre. But apparently this caught the eye of my friend, fellow author and Follower of Fear Iseult Murphy (you can check out her blog here), who ended up creating some fan art of these dragon bats. Here’s the art she drew.

Pretty neat, right? These were my first pieces of fan art ever, and I absolutely loved it! And I really wanted to make a story about these dragon bats now that they had art based on them. Which I did: “Disillusionment and Trauma Sometimes Go Hand in Hand,” a novelette about a teen girl who gets wrapped up in a revenge plot involving calling on some dangerous supernatural forces.

I had a blast writing the story, but was worried that I’d be able to find it a home. There are more publications accepting novelettes now, but it’s still hard to find homes for them. But I kept plugging away and submitting, and lo and behold, it’s found a home!

And what a home it is! Ink Stains: A Dark Fiction Literary Anthology used to be a twice-yearly anthology of horror and dark fiction that produced some great horror fiction, but stopped producing due to the pandemic. Now it’s back for the first time since the pandemic began, and I’m so excited and honored to be part of the new edition.

As for when you can expect to read “Disillusionment and Trauma,” as well as the rest of the stories in the latest edition of Ink Stains, it appears to be on track for an October release. As soon as I have news, you can expect me to post about it. Or, you can follow Dark Alley Press on their website and Facebook, as well as their parent company, Vagabondage Press, on Twitter.

Anyway, I want to thank N. Apythia Morges and the team at Dark Alley Press for accepting my story, and I can’t wait to be part of this amazing anthology. I also want to thank Iseult Murphy, who inspired this story and who helped me polish it up for publication. And I want to thank you, my Followers of Fear, for always supporting me and my stories. I hope you enjoy this one as much as you’ve enjoyed my stories.

Until next time, my Followers of Fear, good night, pleasant nightmares, and run! I’ve just released some actual dragon bats! And they’re vicious carnivores.

I told you I would be back soon!

It’s official: The Pure World Comes is now in audio book, narrated by the awesome Nikki Delgado.

This novel, which came out on an app called Readict last year and which came out in paperback and ebook back in May, is one of my favorite projects and I’m so excited for the story to be in audio book. Not just because it’s another avenue to reach readers (though that’s another reason), but because I love the audio medium, and I can’t wait to listen to the story alongside all those who haven’t yet.

Now, for those of you who don’t know, The Pure World Comes is a Gothic horror novel set in Victorian England and follows a maid who goes to work for a mad scientist. Here’s the blurb from the back of the book:

Shirley Dobbins wants nothing more than to live a quiet life and become a head housekeeper at a prestigious house. So when she is invited to come work for the mysterious baronet Sir Joseph Hunting at his estate, she thinks it is the chance of a lifetime. However, from the moment she arrives things are not what they seem. As she becomes wrapped up in more of the baronet’s radical science, she realizes something dark and otherworldly is loose within the estate. And if left unchecked, it’ll claim the lives of all she holds dear.

Not bad, right? And the book itself has garnered some amazing reviews already. Here’s what people are saying:

This book kept you on the edge with its many twists and turns. Really haven’t read anything like it. I will follow this author

Michele Kimura, Goodreads

I love it when I’m pleasantly surprised by a book. Rami Ungar is not a debut author, (according to the back of the book, this is his fourth novel), but his work is new to me and so I went in not knowing what to expect.

What I got was a short novel so perfectly Victorian and utterly Gothic that it made my old-fashioned self giddy as a schoolgirl….Mixing classic-romantic Victorian elements with early science-fiction, tales of Jack the Ripper/Spring-Heeled Jack, and a bit of the occult, this book gives the reader a truly chilling and also slightly fun little Gothic adventure.

Heather Miller, Amazon

The Pure World Comes by Rami Ungar
The story started with a slow build which
quickly turned into a page turner for me.
It has a bit of a Frankenstein feel to it.
It was a little out there but I really enjoyed
it.

Annette, Goodreads

Again, I’m so glad they enjoyed the book. Hearing from these readers not only encourages me and helps me out as a writer, but also gives other readers an idea of whether or not they’ll like the book. I hope I can get some great feedback on the audio book.

And speaking of which, if you would like to check out the audio book, I’ll post the available links below. Right now, there are about five or six websites distributing the audio book, and more, such as Audible, expected to release it in the coming weeks (Amazon owns Audible, so of course they’re finnicky when anything produced outside their platform). So, if you don’t see it on your preferred distributor, keep checking back and it should be there eventually.

Did I mention for the first week the audio book is discounted? That’s right, for the first week the audio book will only be $5.99. It’ll go up after the 17th, so be sure to get it now at a low price while you can!

Anyway, I look forward to hearing what you think of the audio book (or the other formats, if you choose those). While you’re listening to it, I’ll be busy with other stuff, including a convention, but I promise I’ll stick around and post regularly. What can I say, I like interacting with you guys.

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

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

The Mummy of Rameses I. I thought it worked well for the post.

Sheriff’s Deputy Cole Sawyer knew he had the right house before he’d even read the numbers beside the door. The body was sitting there on the front stoop, just as the caller had said it would be.

I’ve mentioned before that I started a new novel, a mummy story I’m calling Crawler until I can come up with a better title.* It’s been a little over three weeks since I started the novel with the lines posted above. I’m now three chapters in, and I wanted to take some time to share my thoughts with you on the writing process so far.

And what are those thoughts? Well, I’m wondering what I got myself into. This book is already seventy pages (8.5 x 11 inches, double-spaced, 12-point Times New Roman), and rapidly approaching twenty thousand words! And that’s just the first three chapters! It’s going to be as long as Snake by the time the first draft is done. You could use it with your favorite Stephen King doorstopper to knock someone out.

Which I don’t recommend doing unless your life is in danger and you have no other options.

All that being said, it’s also been fun to write. The first chapter, I had such a hard time pulling myself away from the computer to go to bed because I was just so into the story. I got it done at that pace in two nights. And while the next two chapters haven’t gone at such a crazy pace, it’s still been a fun process.

For example, one of my characters has grown up extremely sheltered, and the events of the novel force her into the world. Writing things from her POV has been a fantastic journey of trial and discovery. I think by the end of Chapter Two, I got her down pat, but there could still be challenges ahead.

Scratch that, I know there are challenges ahead. It may be a world where a mummy is on the attack, but it’s still based on our world. The characters’ actions and reactions to events must make sense to someone in our world. That could be hard. And I have to keep the slower moments interesting. And of course, I’ll have to get on the net every now and then to do some research. Yeah, lots of challenges ahead.

But hey, the first draft isn’t meant to be perfect. It’s meant to be passable. That way, I can build on it in subsequent drafts and create something spectacular. So if I mess up, I’m sure I’ll find some way to fix it further down the line.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’ll post more updates as I make progress. I promise, they won’t come at a crawl (get it?). So don’t worry, I’ll be back again soon. And until then, good night, pleasant nightmares, and do not read from the Book of the Dead. If you’re not careful, you might wake up an undead Egyptian high priest seeking to resurrect his girlfriend.

*And no, I’m not going with The Mummy. Nor am I going with I Want My Mummy; Are You My Mummy?; or Man, Fuck This Mummy. One’s taken, two are probably taken by RL Stine or Doctor Who, and the last one sounds too close to a novel on my TBR list. I might go with Sympathy for the Mummy, however. I mean, that’s probably not too like a famous Rolling Stones song, is it?

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.