Posts Tagged ‘audio book’

I’ll give 2021 this, it went by fast. A lot faster than 2020 did, thank God! And, despite how the year started (*cough* treasonous rebellion against the US government *cough*), it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be when I posted back in late 2020.

Okay, real talk. While 2021 wasn’t as difficult as 2020 was, it still had its fair share of troubles. A lot of people still can’t or won’t get vaccinated against COVID-19, leading to the spread and emergence of new variants. Climate change is still an ongoing problem. There’s a big job and housing crisis happening in the country right now. And there’s still a ton of political and social unrest in the US and around the world, among other things.

That being said, 2021 did have some improvements. A lot of people are still alive because of masking and vaccination. In many places, we’re able to eat in restaurants, go to school and work, and even see movies and shows in theaters again (my mom, sister and I are going to the ballet for the first time in nearly two years! We’re so excited). The US didn’t collapse, despite how much we feared it would one way or another back in January. There are new treatments for other diseases alongside COVID-19 being discovered and developed, and new initiatives to protect the environment, combat homelessness, and so much more!

Oh, and we got one hell of a two-part movie adaptation of the Sailor Moon Dream arc back in June. Can’t forget that.

On a personal level, 2021 was mostly very good. I got vaccinated (and boosted as of two weeks). I moved into a bigger apartment. I got to visit some cities I’ve always wanted to visit for my vacation (and learned I’m not a Vegas person in the process). My efforts to save for a home are on track (for the most part; a lot of that savings account went into my vacation). And…what else? Oh yeah. I had my best year of writing and publishing ever!

Very excited about this (and whatever is created as the cover).

Seriously, The Pure World Comes was released and has been getting rave reviews; I published several short stories, novelettes and articles in anthologies and magazines; my collection, Hannah and Other Stories, was accepted for publication; I got to attend a couple of awesome conventions and meet some readers and writers; I wrote and edited so, so much; my friends and I created a small publishing press and are crowdfunding our first anthology (more on that below); and the number of Followers of Fear grew on this blog and my other social media platforms. This has been my most successful year of writing since I first started keeping track!

All that being said, I had my difficult moments this year. Things I didn’t talk about on my blog or other social media. I couldn’t keep my cats due to reasons outside my control and had to return them to the shelter soon after I got them; a driver ran a red light, causing us to get into a crash and forcing me to replace my car (at least the insurance company helped me get a new one); and there were plenty of times I felt frustrated, restless, or lonely because of the isolation we’ve all been going through these past two years. Yeah, all that happened. And it sucked. At least they helped me grow as a person (I think).

So yeah, 2021 was full of good and bad. At least the good outweighed the bad. And that’s making me somewhat hopeful for 2022.

Yeah, there’s still a lot of shit in the world that’s likely going to bring down my opinion of humanity and the world in general. But as I said above, things have gotten better in certain areas and may continue to go that way. And I have a lot of projects on the horizon, like Hannah and the paperback and ebook editions of The Pure World Comes (and maybe an audio book); I’m already signed up for a couple of conventions and expos; I have at least one short story being released next year, and hopefully more on the way; I might be working on an anthology next year (more on that below); and so many ideas I can’t wait to write!

I may even get to work on Crawler, like I planned to.

Speaking of the paperback/ebook for The Pure World Comes, how does this look for cover art.

And who knows what else might happen in 2022? I don’t think I’ll be able to buy a house or get a movie adaptation of my work (though I would love it if either happened), but a lot happened in 2021 that I didn’t expect. Sky’s the limit, and I plan to head there.

Yes, 2021 was difficult in some ways and on many levels, but it was also happy and rewarding, too. And while I know that a lot of problems will continue through to 2022, I’m hopeful for the new year as well. So much more than I was at this time last year.

And I hope that whatever happened in 2021, you’re feeling the same way too.

How did 2021 go for you? How are you feeling about 2022? Anything happen that made you smile or feel helpful? Let’s discuss in the comments below.


On the subject of the small press my friends and I created and our anthology, That Which Cannot Be Undone, the crowdfunding campaign is going quite well. In just six days, we’ve reached 17% of our goal and are working to get the rest. If we make our funding goal, we’ll be able to release a great anthology of horror set in Ohio and written by our fellow Ohio authors. You can learn more about the anthology and the campaign by clicking on 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 going to keep the hope alive for the week (and maybe the rest of the year). Until next time, good night, Happy Hanukkah and Krampusnacht (yes, that’s a thing), and pleasant nightmares!

When I was in New Orleans a couple weeks ago, there was this voodoo shop on Bourbon Street I visited almost every night I was there. I did buy from that shop, but I also just liked looking around. There were so many cool things there: statues and masks, clothes, books, Tarot cards, candles, voodoo dolls, incense, and so much more! I’d have taken a photo if it were allowed. And one of the nights while I was there, I got a Tarot reading from one of their resident psychics/readers.

The reader, Eshu, had me follow him into the back room and pick out thirteen Tarot cards from a Thoth Tarot deck while I closed my eyes. I did so, picking out cards by trying to feel a tingling or heat or magnetic pull in my fingertips. And after I picked out my thirteen, he started reading what the cards had to say.

I can’t remember all that he said, because sadly the human memory doesn’t work like a video camera (what I wouldn’t do for it to do so when I want to), but I remember some specifics. For one thing, he said that I had a power within me, that he sensed that from when I stepped into the room, and that it was manifesting out in the real world. He also noted that this power came from darkness within, but it wasn’t evil or bad, and that it was leading to big things for me. Prominent cards, if I remember right, were the Fool and the Magician.

Could Hannah and Other Stories be evidence of something manifesting?

To me, in the moment, this made sense, and it still does. My writing career is going extremely well these days, and writing is a form of magic or power, as the Magician evidences. And if it’s not manifesting right now, with the many stories I’ve released this past year and the acceptance of Hannah and Other Stories for publication, I don’t know what is! That also plays into the Fool card, which represents a great opportunity or chance.

And what is horror writing if not taking a darkness that isn’t necessarily evil and manifesting it in the real world?

Don’t answer that, it was rhetorical.

In the two weeks or so since I got back from the Big Easy, a lot’s been going on. I’ve been editing a story for one anthology, the crowdfunding campaign for That Which Cannot Be Undone is about to launch and people are really showing interest (click here to learn more about that), I’ll likely be meeting with an editor soon from BSC Publishing Group to discuss Hannah, I’m on track to put out a paperback, ebook, and maybe even an audio book of The Pure World Comes, I was interviewed by the Columbus Jewish News (click here to read that article), and I may have had an idea for something I can release in the first half of 2022.

That last one came to me yesterday when I realized a short story I finished earlier this week had some similarities to another story I wrote this year. And I thought, Wouldn’t it be interesting if they were released together? I thought of a third story that might go well with them. and now this idea for a mini-collection of novelettes has sprung up. So who knows? Depending on a couple of things, I might be putting out three novelettes together.

So maybe I’m manifesting that power born of darkness within me, and maybe it’ll lead me to new heights in my writing career. Which, for a guy who tells people he’s an eldritch entity from another dimension, that’s something I’m happy with. Or the exact opposite could happen. I don’t know. I love using the cards, but I still have to remind myself they might just be fairy tales and hokum.

Still, with things going the way they are, with Hannah and That Which Cannot Be Undone and maybe even this novelette collection, I want to believe that Eshu’s cards were onto something. And that the Nine of Swords I’ve pulled from my readings these past two days, which represents anxiety, despair, and a sense of oppression, symbolizes what I’m putting into my readers rather than something I’m going to feel in the near future. We’ll see what happens.

Get these and other books this holiday season. And make sure to let the authors know what you think.

And while we wait to see what happens, you looking for something to read or for your horror-loving cousin? Then I have the books for you! Yes, I’m advertising my books. But you gotta do what you gotta do. Anyway, I’ve got a ton of stories available right now in paperback, ebook and even audio book, as well as stories in some great anthologies. You can check out the fantasy-horror novel Rose; the serial killer thriller Snake; my first collection, The Quiet Game; or the anthologies Into the Deep, The Nightmare Collective Part II, Dark Nature and The Jewish Book of Horror. I’ll leave links below.

And if you like what you read, leave a review online somewhere. That way I’ll know what you think and so will other readers.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’m off to conjure new nightmares so I can keep manifesting that power from within. Until next time, pleasant nightmares!

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

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

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

The Jewish Book of Horror: Amazon, B&N

Dark Nature: Amazon

Nightmare Collective Part 2: Amazon

Into the Deep: Amazon

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!

It’s hard to believe that two years have passed by since Rose was released. For one thing, 2020 felt like it was way longer than a year. And January 2021 felt like at least three months. Still, it’s been two years since Rose was released, and so I’m celebrating it with you today.

So if you’re unaware, Rose is a novel I wrote that was released June 20th, 2019 by Castrum Press, based in Belfast, North Ireland. The novel follows Rose Taggert, a young graduate student who wakes up in a greenhouse with no memory of the past two years. Suddenly, she undergoes a transformation into a plant/human hybrid! And then, as people around her react to her new form, particularly a young man who claims to be her boyfriend and to have saved her life, she realizes that not everyone can be trusted. Dark forces are swirling around her, and if she’s not careful, not only will her life be forfeit, but her loved ones as well.

Rose Trivia

I’ve heard that readers love behind-the-scenes trivia about books they’ve read or they’re considering reading. Especially if it comes from the original author. So, with that in mind, I thought I’d do some trivia for Rose’s anniversary today. Hopefully you find it interesting.

  • The original idea for this novel came to me in a science fiction class at school. Back in college, I was taking a Science Fiction & Fantasy literature course (yes, Ohio State taught that class, because Ohio State is awesome). I was just sitting in class, listening to the lecture, when the basic idea for Rose just popped into my head. I liked the idea, so I wrote it down in my idea notebook and set it aside for later.
    Later on, when it came time to do my senior thesis, I decided to write Rose and had that very same teacher from my Science Fiction class be one of my critics for the novel.
    So if anyone ever says a Liberal Arts degree doesn’t pay, point them my way. I benefited so much from one!
  • Rose took fifteen months to get edited for publication, and it was the most anxiety-producing time of my life. I’ve had an anxiety disorder for a few years now, and I’ve been pretty good about keeping it under control and not letting it interfere with my life. That being said, Rose was accepted during the time when I was just learning how to control that disorder, and all the edits and rewrites I had to do to get the book ready for publication just sent my anxiety into overdrive. It took a lot of work to calm me down, let alone get work done on the novel. I was just overwhelmed by it all. Figuring out how to rewrite the story, trying not to disappoint readers or the publisher or myself. Fearing that the story would be hated and then I would be hated because I was the writer. Even just general, irrational fear bothered me on a daily basis.
    It probably didn’t help that I had to rewrite two-thirds of the novel because one of those thirds was irrelevant flashbacks and the other third was dependent on those flashbacks.
    Thankfully, I was able to learn coping strategies and get inspiration on how to rewrite the story. The result was that I was able to put out Rose. And I’m happy to say that none of my anxieties have come to pass.
  • I got to use some of my ballet knowledge in this story. After college, I became a huge fan of ballet, to the point that I and my family actually buy subscription packages to our local company’s shows every year. And in the novel, Rose’s younger sister Maddie is a ballerina.
    In the first couple of drafts, Maddie was a very minor character and her dancing only got one or two mentions. However, when it became apparent that nearly two-thirds of the novel needed to be rewritten, I saw an opportunity to expand Maddie’s role in the story, and thus her career. I even got to teach my editor the word barre, which he thought was an error on my part but which is actually a technical term from the French.
    And since I’m a big ballet fan, you can expect it to appear in another story someday. Maybe even more prominently than it does in Rose. Only time will tell!

What the Readers Say

At the time I’m writing this, Rose has more reviews than any single one of my books. And I’m happy to say that the majority of people have really enjoyed the novel. Here’s what they had to say.

Loved the premise and all of the descriptions of turning into a plant creature, as well as several other body horror scenes, were disturbing in the best way. I also liked the psychological horror of the story and was often at the edge of my seat wondering what would happen next.

My only criticisms were that sometimes the characters acted in ways I found unbelievable and some of the descriptions and explanations were a little too “on the nose” for me.

Overall, a solid horror story! I feel the strong beginning and surprising and intense ending made this a great horror experience and a book I would definitely recommend.

(Also, I listened to the audiobook and the narrator was superb!!)

Emma, United States

I didn’t know what to expect going into Rose, but I was intrigued first by the cover, and second by the description. Listening to Rose Taggert’s story as she tries to figure out what has happened to her and why she has no memory of the last two years was fascinating, especially as her boyfriend Paris’ version doesn’t really make sense the more she digs. She learns what obsession and power can do, as she is transformed into something not human, and those she loves are brought into danger. I enjoyed the book, and even though I saw what was coming, the way it came was unexpected. Sara Parlier’s narration was very good, and I look forward to hearing more from her.

Manakalita, Audible

In this work, Rami Ungar paints a captivating picture of Japanese folklore and magic, which serves as a backdrop for a story about captivity, manipulation, and possession! His narrative style also captures the dread and claustrophobia of being a captive, not to mention the twisted pathology of the captor! Scary stuff, and all the while you’re rooting for the bad guys to get their just desserts!

Matthew Williams, author of The Formist Trilogy, Canada

And this is just three of the many reviews Rose has acquired over the past two years. I’d guesstimate that there’s fifty individual reviews across the various websites and platforms. Maybe more.

Granted, not all of the reviews have been positive. I’ve had some one or two-stars here and there. One mixed review was published on a prominent website a month or two ago! Still, reviews like that make me want to work harder and show readers how much I can improve. Hopefully that shows in the stories I’ve written since then and which will be coming out later.

Do You Wanna Check the Book Out?

If any of this makes you interested in reading Rose, I’ll be including links below. I would love to hear what you have to say on the novel. And if you do end up reading Rose, let me know what you think. Positive or negative, I love reader feedback, and it helps me out in the long run. Not to mention it helps readers figure out whether Rose is for them or not.

The best way to do so is to leave a review on Amazon/Audible or Goodreads, but I’ll be happy with a mention anywhere.

And thanks again to Paul and the team at Castrum Press, as well as The Golden Quill who did the artwork. It was a great and edifying experience working with you, and I hope we can do so again someday.

Also, if you haven’t checked it out yet, Snake’s seven-year publishing anniversary occurred recently as well. The story follows a serial killer hunting members of a powerful Mafia family in New York City. If you haven’t checked that one out yet, either, I’ll include the links below.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I hope I get to hear what you think of Rose (or Snake) very soon. Until next time, good night and pleasant nightmares!

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

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

(WARNING: Light spoilers ahead. You’ve been warned)

I’ve heard this book mentioned so many times in one of my Facebook groups. And when I heard earlier this year that a movie adaptation being made, I knew I would read it eventually. I downloaded the audio book from Audible and started listening over ParaPsyCon weekend. And I can see why it’s been mentioned so much.

Also, don’t let the goofy, Goosebumps-esque title fool you. This is a straight up horror story.

My Best Friend’s Exorcism chronicles the friendship of Abby Rivers and Gretchen Lang, two girls of very different backgrounds growing up in the 1980s. During their sophomore year, after a night of partying, Gretchen’s personality and health takes a change. Abby, frightened and confused, worries about what is happening to her best friend. Is it drugs? Mental illness? Or something else? Something very evil and dark? Something that has a dark purpose for Gretchen, and for everyone else.

Damn! What a horror novel! And definitely up there with Stranger Things when it comes to decent 80s nostalgia stories.

The strongest point of this novel is definitely the relationship between Abby and Gretchen. You see how it first formed during Abby’s tenth birthday party, the ups-and-downs of the early teen years, and finally into high school, when both girls are at the height of popularity but also at their closest. Like it says in the opening, they are friends when the word can draw blood. And even before anything scary happens, the strong phrases and emotional writing centered around their relationship is enough to engross the reader.

And that helps pack a huge punch when things start getting dark. You feel Abby’s concern as she notices Gretchen’s condition change and deteriorate. And as things continue to get worse, you really start to worry. Not just for Gretchen, but for Abby, who becomes almost obsessed with Gretchen’s condition.

Speaking of which, you’re just as confused as you are worried for Gretchen. There’s a lot of ambiguity around what’s causing all these changes, and it doesn’t really get resolved until close to the end of the book. Even when it starts throwing clues about what actually causes the change, there’s enough red herrings left to confuse you.

The scares are decent, as well. There are plenty of scenes that made me cringe while listening. Scarier than the horror, however, is the terror of growing up and of interacting with others. Abby learns throughout the novel just how difficult the real world is, as well as how little help adults can be. And then, during a particularly bad section of the novel, Abby finds herself socially isolated and it’s hard to listen to. Even curmudgeons hate to be isolated from the rest of the world, so it’s hard for Abby. And for us, the reader.

I also liked how the novel approached the topic of exorcism and divine power. It was a nice twist on an old trope, and not just for being outside the Roman Catholic tradition (do you know how rare that is in and of itself?).

And as for 80s references, they are everywhere and they are neither excessive nor done tastelessly.

If there are a few things I can criticize, I thought the opening chapter was a bit of a fake out. And then there were some things about the denouement I wish had been different.

Still, I did enjoy this novel. On a scale of 1 to 5, My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix earns a solid 5. A dark and heart wrenching slow burn which will get you right in the feels, as well as the 80s nostalgia. I look forward to seeing how the movie adapts the novel, as well as reading Grady Hendrix’s other work (I just acquired his original novel Horrorstor). And in the meantime, I hope you’ll give it a read as well.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. If nothing occurs between now and Friday, I’ll be back with a review of the next Conjuring film (lot of exorcism-themed stuff lately, isn’t there?). So until next time, pleasant nightmares!

As I mentioned at the end of my recap of ParaPsyCon, I would talk about the supernatural parts of my trip in another post. Congratulations, here’s that post!

So, after the setup session on Friday afternoon, we had a bit of time to grab dinner before vendors who had signed up in advance could get a haunted tour of the prison. Because, as we all know by now, Ohio State Reformatory is one of the most haunted prisons in America (click here and here for my past experiences at the prison). I grabbed some dinner, then came back to the prison. Plenty of other vendors were there early, so we stuck around taking photos and discussing ghost hunting/the paranormal/our various booths/etc. About 7:30, they let us into the prison and we started checking in. After that, we were divided into three groups. I was in Group 3, the smallest group, with the tour guide Lindsay leading the way.

I also had my writing colleague Tim McLaughlin, who you might have seen in the last ParaPsyCon post, was also in the group, and he filmed one of the videos taken during the tour.

And that’s a good point to bring up that I took plenty of video during the Ghost Walk. Below are the videos I took that I uploaded to my YouTube channel and either contain blatantly supernatural events or just interesting events during the story. Let me know if you catch anything I might have missed in the video, like EVPs or other unexplained phenomena.

The first video was taken right in front of Old Sparky, the electric chair housed at the Reformatory. Now, just to be clear, no scheduled executions ever took place at OSR, let alone with the electric chair. The executions took place at a prison in Columbus. After being retired, the chair was put into a warehouse before OSR scooped it up. And it apparently brought some of the spirits who died in that chair with them. In fact, Lindsay reported that some of these spirits, who may have been the worst of the worst in life, have been bullying the spirits of the prison!

And that leads to this video, which was taken with the Ghost Tube app on my phone.

This video is short, but what’s featured is extraordinary. In ghost hunting, you sometimes ask questions you already know the answer to in order to see if we’re actually speaking to a spirit and not just getting random responses. So, when I got a response that matched up with the historical record, that was a sign that we were speaking with an intelligent entity, not just getting random answers on the dowsing rods. Proof of the paranormal!

Later, we went into some of the more administrative parts of the prison, which led to the Chair Room, infamous for both its lack of windows and its titular, possibly haunted piece of furniture.

This video doesn’t contain too many paranormal instances beyond the messages I got on the app (and I don’t have any clue what they were referring to), but the stories were quite interesting. Imagine if someone was able to test if the chair did move through the night. What could happen?

My last video took place in the West Cell Block Attic, which is usually off the regular tours. As Lindsay says below, there was a time when the worst of the worst had to be stored in that attic temporarily due to a fire. They were kept separate from the regular population, who were non-violent first-time offenders. Not surprisingly, we got a few spirits in there, and one of them may have spoken to me during the video. What they said had an interesting parallel to what Lindsay says later in the video.

Please be aware, the video is restricted to 18+ viewers due to some nasty language in the video. Can’t be too careful, can you?

Pretty cool, huh? I hope I can someday do a proper investigation in the attic as well. Though if the spirits are in a bad mood, that could end up being dangerous.

Did anything weird happen that wasn’t caught on camera? Well, we might have gotten a few odd smells, especially in the warden’s living area. One warden and his wife are said to haunt the area and you can sometimes smell her rosewater perfume. I don’t think I smelled anything, but some other people might have.

In a couple places, I swear I heard whispers with no discernable source. In one room in particular, one with two large closets, I heard whispers from the closet further back from me. I looked inside, but there was no one there. I mentioned it to LIndsay, and she said I probably heard something after all.

Then, while going through the West Cell Block, I stopped by James Lockhart’s cell (you may remember him from some of my previous videos). I didn’t have a lot of time to ask him anything on the dowsing rods, let alone film it, but I did ask him how he was doing. He said he was well, which was nice. He died by self-immolation, so I’m happy to hear he’s doing better.

Later, in the shower room, Lindsay used her own dowsing rods to introduce us to the Baseball Team, a group of nine spirits who are obsessed with the Dodgers (though they prefer them from before they moved to LA and were known as The Bums). She says these spirits like to hear the latest baseball scores and will hang out with the prison archivist in the library when the latter is working. From what Lindsay says, the archivist will play movies and music for them and see what they like using dowsing rods (obviously, they’re sick of Shawshank Redemption).

I managed to ask using my own dowsing rods if they might be interested in audio books, and even got a response. Apparently, they would like audio books, but they’re not interested in fantasy. They are, however, interested in horror. I told this to Lindsay later and she mentioned she would pass it onto the archivist, but I’ll have to follow up to see if she actually did.

Hmm…perhaps I’ll get some fans on the other side if I send them an audio copy of Rose.

Other than that, nothing supernatural that I can recall. There were some moments where I thought I saw something, but it turned about to be something ordinary. In solitary, for example, I thought I saw an orb, but it turned out to be a reflection from the exit sign off a security camera. DEBUNKED!

And then on Sunday, right before the convention started, one of my neighbors and I thought we saw a bright light moving across the ceiling. Sadly, that was just a reflection off someone’s watch. DEBUNKED!

All in all, I had a lot of fun with this Vendor Ghost Walk. Yeah, I would love to have spent more time in various areas and trying to catch some spooky happenings. Maybe even on camera. But it was still cool to see some of the history and hauntings I wasn’t aware of or forgot about since my last trip to the prison. And taking a tour with so many other vendors was fun too.

If you ever get the chance to do a ghost walk at the Ohio State Reformatory, I highly recommend it. It may even whet your appetite to do a private ghost hunt, something I hope to do someday.

Well, that’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I have exercise to do, stories to write, and other tasks to take care of. I’ll catch you on the flipside. Make sure to check out my YouTube channel in the meantime. And until next time, pleasant nightmares!

This morning, I checked my memories on Facebook, and what popped up in 2018? No, not an embarrassing photo from that year’s Purim celebration. I killed the person who took the photo and destroyed their phone’s SIM card before they could post it. No, it was the announcement that my novel Rose had been accepted by Castrum Press, a publishing company based out of Belfast, North Ireland.

And over the course of today, it just kept hitting me. Three years. Three whole years. It felt like so much longer (and not just because of the mess that was 2020). And given all that happened with the book over those three years, it only feels right to blog about it.

So if you’re unfamiliar, Rose is a novel I first wrote as my college thesis and which later became my first novel published with a publisher. The story is a Kafkaesque fantasy-horror tale about a young woman who wakes up with no memory of the past two years. She then finds herself transfigured into a plant/human hybrid by ancient magic, setting her on a path of no return.

As I said, a lot happened with Rose in the three years since Castrum Press accepted the novel. The novel itself went through a heavy editing and rewriting process that lasted about fifteen months, from March 2018 to June 2019 when the book was released. Characters were changed or written out, plot points were added and pulled out, and at one point two-thirds of the book needed to be thrown out and rewritten. Yeah, that happened. Word of advice, don’t add flashback scenes that have nothing to do with the main plot of the story, let alone make one-third of the book flashbacks and the other third somewhat dependent on the flashbacks.

But it was worth it. The book came out soon after my twenty-sixth birthday, and people started reading it. Soon, I had some great reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, and they kept growing. In August, I had a reading at Brothers Drake, a local bar and meadery, or distiller of honeywine. In December, the audio book released, narrated by the incomparable Sarah Parlier, who made chills go up my back with her narration. 2020 came in, and the book continued to do somewhat well. I wasn’t making Stephen King money, but I was doing okay for an author of my skill and reach.

Honestly, though, the fact that anyone’s reading Rose at all, especially with so much good horror out there, is incredible. Yeah, people enjoy it, but I had to do a lot of plugging over the course of these three years to get people interested, let alone willing to read it. That’s part of the author lot, truth be told: you gotta do a ton of work to let people know your book is available. No one’s going to do it for you, at least not without compensation.

Well, I’m not complaining. All the work has paid off. More and more people are reading Rose, and are leaving reviews. I just got a new four star review today from an author I know through Twitter, which made my day. It makes me happy. And I’m hoping, with continued work, some devoted fans, and a few conventions/author events, Rose will continue to do well.

If you would be interested in reading Rose, I’ll leave links below for you to check out. And if you end up reading it, I hope you’ll take the time to let me know what you think. Positive or negative, I love reader feedback, and it not only helps me, but your fellow readers in the long run.

That’s all for now. I’m off to enjoy the weekend. Until next time, my Followers of Fear, good night, Shabbat Shalom, have a great weekend, and pleasant nightmares!

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

Not sure when I first heard of this book or its author (might have been a documentary about the history of zombies I saw around Halloween), but I looked both the book and its author up and was like, “Huh, that sounds interesting.” The original plan was to listen to the audio book as part of my Black History Month/Women in Horror Month reading in February, but then the move happened, and I needed something to listen to while I unpacked.

Glad I started early. And to quote one of the replies I got when I said I was going to listen to it on Twitter, “Why hasn’t this been made into a limited series yet?”

The Good House follows Angela Toussaint, a lawyer who returns to her family’s house, known by the locals as “The Good House,” two years after a horrific family tragedy tears her life in two. While up there, strange events lead her to confront a monstrous evil, something that her grandmother, the beloved and powerful priestess Marie Toussaint, battled in 1929. And this confrontation will not only have consequences for the living, but for the dead as well.

Where do I start with this book? The story, the narration, the atmosphere, it’s all done really well. Dr. Due* brings these characters and settings to life, making you really believe them. Some of my favorite parts were told from the perspectives of Marie Toussaint or Angela’s son Cory, because I could honestly believe they were real people. I also found it fascinating to listen to the parts where Vodun was explained to the readers. I don’t know much about real Vodun or voodoo, but what’s in The Good House, if based on actual belief, is a decent introduction.

And the villain, the baka,** was great! How it inserted itself into so many aspects of Angela and her family and friends’ lives, just to taunt them. Half the time, it wasn’t even trying to do anything other than scare Angela or warn her it was coming, and it was freaky. When it then got serious, it was quite the spectacle.

The one aspect I wasn’t in love with was the ending. Yeah, it was a good ending, but I kind of felt it erased a lot of the progress Angela made as a character.

On the whole, though, The Good House by Tananarive Due is a scary, engrossing story that you’ll be glad you picked up. On a scale of 1 to 5, I give it a 4.8. Grab a copy, put on an album by the Orishas (Cuban band mentioned in the book, and they’re good when you’re in a certain mood), and start reading.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. My next audio book will be Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. I’ve heard amazing things about it, so I’m looking forward to diving in and eventually giving my own review.

In the meantime, Dr. Due, if you happen to be reading this, I would love to interview you on my blog someday. If that’s something you’re cool with, let me know somehow. I’ll send you an email and we can discuss it.

Until next time, pleasant nightmares!

*I assume she’s a doctor or a professor, she teaches at a university.

**Or is that spelled bakka? So hard to tell with audio books. The anime fan in me hopes it’s the former, however. So many wordplay jokes to make.

The audiobook cover for Rose. Available from Audible and Amazon.

You know, its been six months since I last had a post focused on Rose? How crazy is that?

But to the point of this post: a year ago today, the audio book for my novel Rose was released, the first time a story of mine was ever available in an audio format. The book was narrated by the amazing Sara Parlier, who I had to pleasure to meet this past summer in South Carolina. No joke, at times her narration gave me chills! And that was both times I listened to the audio book, by the way. And I wrote the damn thing!

So if you don’t know about Rose, it was my first novel published with a publisher (Castrum Press if you’re curious). The story follows a young woman, Rose Taggert, who wakes up one day in a greenhouse with no memory of the past two years. However, before she can get a handle on that, her body undergoes a startling transformation into a human/plant hybrid! As those around her react, she realizes some are not all that they seem, leading to a desperate fight for survival.

Sara Parlier, the narrator for the Rose audio book, meeting at a Starbucks in South Carolina.

And I can’t believe it’s been a full year since the audio book came out. I can believe nearly all of 2020 has passed, but the audio book being a year old? The mind boggles!

And I’m happy that the majority of reviews on the audio book, and the novel in general, have been positive. At the time I’m writing this, Rose rates a 4 out of 5 on Audible based on five ratings and four reviews, as well as a 4.6 on Amazon’s US site based on thirty ratings and twenty-nine reviews. Considering how I’m still not as well-known as other authors I could name, I consider all this feedback from readers absolutely amazing, and I hope there are more to come.

And if you’d like to check out those reviews yourself, or maybe even check out Rose, I’ll include the links below. And if you like what you read, or if you find Rose to be horrible trash, please leave a review. Not only do I appreciate all reader feedback, but it helps me out in the long run and helps other readers decide whether or not the book is for them.

One last thing: I’d like to thank everyone who’s read, reviewed and enjoyed Rose since its release in June 2019. It’s been an insane ride this past year and a half, even excluding current events, but I’m so grateful for the love and support you’ve shown me and this little novel I wrote as my college thesis project. I’ve dreamed of being an author since I was a kid, and you’ve helped make that dream a reality. So, once again, thank you so much. I hope you’ll enjoy my other stories, as well as the ones to come, just as much.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’m off to stop that creep Santa Claus from stalking people and then breaking into their homes based on his assessment of their behavior. Until next time, Happy Holidays and pleasant nightmares!

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

Audible’s audio edition of Dracula by Bram Stoker. Turns out, it was just what the Count ordered.

Everyone has heard of Dracula. Most likely, you’ve seen some version of him in a movie or a TV series .* But how many of you have ever read the original novel? Not many, surprisingly. Besides the fact that Dracula’s melted so thoroughly into pop culture, the source material is a Victorian novel written in the form of diary entries and letters. Even veteran bookworms have to steel themselves for those!

I tired once or twice in my younger years to read Dracula, but found it harder to get through than some Lovecraft stories and had to stop reading. Last month, however, Audible offered its own audio version for free as part of my subscription. I was like, “Maybe I’ll enjoy it more in audio form” and downloaded it.

Turns out, while Audible may have a dumbass exchange policy (and yes, fixing Audible and Amazon’s issues are still works in progress), the audio book was just what I needed. Great cast that brought the story to life and allowed me to get into it while driving or working out or cooking.

And let me tell you, Dracula the novel is good! It’s a slow burn Gothic story that takes its time building up an atmosphere as well as a conflict. By the time the action really gets rolling, the suspense and dread is so well-constructed that you actually feel a bit of worry with every encounter or setback the characters endure.

I also liked how a lot of my expectations were subverted while listening to the novel. Yes, his name’s on the cover, but Dracula himself doesn’t show up that much in the story past the first act. He’s mostly on the edge, only showing himself every now and then. While this may upset some readers who expect the Count to be front and center, it’s actually pretty effective. Whenever Dracula shows up, you know shit is likely to get real, and you’re waiting for that shit to happen.

Contrary to what the movies portray, Dracula is more on the edges and backgrounds than front and center.

Another surprise: while I expected Dr. Van Helsing to be an important character, Mina Harker (nee Murray) really stole the show. She’s easily smarter than most of the other characters, including the doctor, and could almost be seen as a proto-Buffy. The only reason she doesn’t do any slaying is because Victorian mores made it impossible for anyone, including Mina herself, to see her taking on a more active role against Dracula (much to their regret later). Kind of makes you wonder if Stoker was making some sort of feminist statement there. I’d love to see an adaptation where Mina’s the one kicking ass. You know, instead of falling for the Count and/or being totally helpless.

And there were some details in the story that I found fascinating, simply because they never make it into any adaptation. For example, Van Helsing hints that Dracula, for all his power and evil, has a very childlike brain when it comes to planning or deep thinking, and that hinders him when he comes to England. It’s amazing what never gets translated to the adaptations.

All that said, the novel isn’t without flaws. The character of Renfield, Dracula’s faithful madman, is pretty extraneous to the plot. He’s really just a vampire radar, and other than that, he doesn’t do much beyond be crazy and help develop Dr. Seward’s character. Then there’s Quincy Morris, a character from Texas who feels more like a parody of Texans from Western novels than a real Texan. And yeah, I would have liked to see a bit more of Dracula, as well as him being a big bad. That might just be my pop-culture image not lining up with the novel, but can you blame me?

All in all, though, I think Dracula is deserving of a 4.8 out of 5. It’s moody, well-written and worth the read if you find a format that works for you. Hell, I think I might go on a binge of Dracula-related media: some essays on the story’s deeper meaning, some adaptations, that novel co-written by Stoker’s descendant (yes, that’s a real thing). I might also write a story involving Dracula and characters in the novel. Who knows?

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. If you need me, I’m celebrating the first night of Hanukkah with vampires and jelly donuts (weird combination, I know). Until next time, happy holidays and pleasant nightmares!

*Speaking of which, I’m still sad that the 2014 NBC TV show was cancelled after one season. All because they didn’t give it the advertising it deserved. The fact that this might be the first you’ve ever heard of it unfortunately proves my point.