Posts Tagged ‘audio book’

(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.

Audible company logo.

If you’re not familiar with Audible and Audiobook Creation Exchange (aka ACX), let me fill you in. Audible is Amazon’s audio book wing. They distribute thousands of audio books and have just as many subscribers (I’ve been one since 2015). ACX is part of Audible: it’s a places where authors and publishers can hook up with narrators, produce audio books, and then upload them to Audible.

With me so far?

Recently, Audible and ACX have been in a bit of hot water. It’s come to the attention of several authors that Audible has a rather questionable policy on the books. Audible Premium Plus subscribers have the option to exchange an audio book they’ve bought through their subscription within 365 days of purchase! And get this: if an audio book is exchanged within that time frame, the authors or publishers get their royalties deducted for it!

You read that right: somebody can exchange any audio book they buy within a year of purchasing, and the author gets punished for it.

Most people’s reactions to the exchange policy abuse. Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

And lately, this has become a huge problem. Many authors, mostly indie authors, have noticed an increase in exchanges and deducted royalties over the past several months, In fact, some have speculated that use of the exchange policy–or should I say abuse of the exchange policy?–has boomed because Audible’s been using the policy in some of their advertising to attract new members.

Spurred by reports of this, the Authors Guild, along with a whole bunch of other author organizations, have drafted a letter to Audible and ACX to get them to, among other things, change the policy and create a more reasonable exchange policy. At the time I’m writing this, the letter has over twelve thousand signatures, and it’s still growing. To quote the letter,

This policy is in clear breach of the duty of good faith and fair dealing implied in the authors’ agreements with Audible and ACX as it allows books to be purchased and listened to without paying the authors and narrators their royalties.

Authors Guild Letter to Audible and ACX

Now, I have only have Rose‘s audio book on Audible, and so far as I know, it hasn’t suffered from this exchange policy much. However, I have heard from a couple of colleagues, including some I consider good friends, who are upset by the policy and are considering pulling their works from Audible and ACX because of the policy.

And even if I didn’t know anyone affected by this policy, once I learned about it, it was hard for me to sit still. This is a terrible policy that hurts authors and publishers alike! These are the people that Amazon needs to continue selling through Audible, and yet they treat them this way?

And why is the exchange window a year long to begin with? That’s a terrible business strategy. Can you imagine if a hardware store allowed you to exchange a tool within a year, even if it’s likely been used? Or a shoe store? Or a computer business? They’d be out of business within a year with a policy like that! What the hell, Amazon?

The letter I received from Audible about the change in the exchange policy. Feel free to enlarge and read it in full.

Thankfully, it seems that news of the abuse and the letter made Audible realize their mistake. While they’ve defended the policy, saying that they do monitor for abuse and that such abuse is rare, they are changing the policy effective January 1st. After that, the exchange window is limited to 7 days, and Audible will pay for any exchanges made after that timeframe. They later confirmed this in an email to ACX creators, which I got as well.

And that is good. That is a good change. It’s harder to abuse an exchange policy limited to only a week instead of a year. Still, some aren’t satisfied. In fact, the Authors Guild letter suggests shortening the window to 48 hours. And I like that idea: not only is it even harder to listen to multiple audio books over the course of two days than it is to do over a week, but it should be easier to spot abuse when an account is making multiple exchanges within a two day period.

So, what can you do? Well, you can sign the letter, which at the time of writing is only 440 signatures away from the Authors Guild’s goal. Even if Audible has changed the policy, every signature is a reminder to the company that this sort of malarkey won’t be tolerated by the very people the company needs for products if it continues.

You can also share with other authors and readers. The more people who are informed about the issue, the more people who will be weary and on the lookout for policies and abuse like this. People, and companies, are more likely to be better behaved if they know they’re being watched and kept under pressure.

And finally, if you have or plan on getting an Audible subscription, don’t be the kind of subscriber who does this sort of crap. I’ve only exchanged a book on Audible once, and that was because I thought it was one kind of story, and it turned out to be another. Otherwise, I would never rob another writer of royalties! Instead, keep the book once you buy it, and wait for your next credit. Don’t make someone else lose money just because you want more listening material!

And if Audible doesn’t address the problem, maybe consider giving up your membership. Yeah, it’ll suck to not get that credit for an audio book each month, but it’ll sure send a message to Audible.

And if you do enjoy an audio book purchased through Audible, make sure to review or at least rate it afterwards. Trust me, ratings and reviews left by readers help both new readers and the writers who put their books on the site. I speak from personal experience on that!

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. Thank you for reading this far and giving a damn about this problem. I hope you’ll consider helping out authors and stopping abuse of Audible’s exchange policy.

Until next time, Happy Thanksgiving and pleasant nightmares!

One piece of writing advice I don’t often seen given is that you sometimes need to change what you’re doing. I don’t mean you need to abandon your projects to embrace a new genre or resort to crazy gimmicks like dancing in the middle of the road and passing flyers out to passing drivers about your book/website (though that does sound memorable). It’s just that sometimes, if a particular method for getting your work out there doesn’t work, it can be a good idea to examine what you’re doing and maybe make some changes.

I’ve been examining my own methods as of late, and given my own goals in the short-term and long-term, I’ve made a decision regarding my short(er) stories. While I’ll still attempt to get some of these stories published in magazines and anthologies, I’ll also be releasing some of those stories as e-book exclusives.

That’s right. There’s going to be a lot more stories of mine available now. In fact, I plan on releasing one before the end of the year, and then releasing two or three throughout 2021.

The reasons why I’m doing this are many, so I’m not going to bore you with the details. But the main reason is that I want more people to be exposed to my work, and the industry as it is now allows me to be a gatekeeper alongside publishers, so why not take advantage of that?

But wait, there’s more! I also plan to release print versions of the stories. These stories will be available as little booklets (or chapbooks, as they’re known in the industry, and I’ll have to write a blog post about those someday), and they’ll be available at events like conventions and book expos. This means anyone who has a physical copy of one of these stories will have a special, exclusive piece of fiction memorabilia!

And who knows? If these stories do well both as e-books and as booklets, then I might produce audio versions, or maybe put them out as collections. That might be fun to do. Especially if there’s a demand for it.

I hope to have an announcement out about which short story will be released first. I’ve already selected the story, but I want to give it another edit and create a cover first. So, that’s the big project today. Hopefully soon I’ll be able to post an announcement and a release date, as well as get the marketing machine up and running again.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’ll be back before too long, believe me. Until next time, pleasant nightmares!

Also, a big thank you to our troops, both past and present, for their sacrifice and service. We here in the United States would not enjoy the freedom we do without you, and we can’t thank you enough for what you’ve done. May the memory of your great deeds live throughout time and remind us to never take what we have for granted.

I know you’re all expecting me to recount my adventure at the Bellaire House over the weekend. Believe me, I’m working on it and will have that out as soon as I can manage it. In the meantime, I’ve some other things to take care of. Including a special announcement. One I’ve been sitting on for quite some time.

Some time ago, I was asked by Jason Stokes, owner of publisher Gestalt Media, if I wouldn’t mind taking part in a project called Haunted. The project is a collection of audio recordings of various people, quite a number of them creative types like myself, recounting their experiences with the paranormal. Given that I go to haunted locations at least once a year and I have plenty of stories to tell, I said yes.

It’s been agony keeping this in for so long. But I’m pleased to announce that Haunted, as well as its print companion guide, will be released on Thursday, October 15th, 2020. You can check out the art for the collection below.

Pretty awesome, right? And the collection will have music in the background, each track written and fitted for each story by Mombi Yuleman, a musician specializing in dark, cinematic ambient music. The track behind my section is called “Lizzie Borden.” Gee, I wonder what it could be about?

Anyway, you can expect links to both the collection and the companion guide as soon as they’re up. I hope you’ll consider checking Haunted out when it’s available, and leaving reviews so people know what you think. I’m really excited for you to hear about some of my paranormal experiences,* as well as those of these others.

I also hope you’ll check out Gestalt Media’s other works, which you can find on their website. It’s a great company devoted to putting authors first, and even did fundraising for their authors after the pandemic hit and cut into many authors’ incomes from events. They also were behind Dark Tides, a charity anthology that benefits victims of the Virginia Beach shootings and their families. I can’t think of a better reason to support a company.

Thanks for supporting, my Followers of Fear. I hope you’re as excited as I am about Haunted. I promise to share the links as soon as I have them. In the meantime, I’ll be busy uploading videos and photos, writing blog posts, writing stories, editing stories, making moves and making deals, summoning demons, raising hellhounds, and a million other things (and that’s just the writing-related stuff). I’m having a busy October!

Until next time, pleasant nightmares!

*Obviously, the Bellaire House won’t be among the ones included.

I’ll admit it: I haven’t read any of Clive Barker’s books yet. I’ve seen some of the film adaptations, especially Hellraiser, but not his books. I know, shame on me. What kind of horror fan am I? Well, I’ve downloaded the first volume of Books of Blood on audio book.

But before that, I watched a new adaptation of his famous collections of short stories, Books of Blood on Hulu, which tells three interconnected tales involving the titular book.

Now, I’m not usually one for anthology movies. Or maybe I just haven’t shown enough of an interest. But this one was really good. The first two stories are very well-written, particularly the first one, “Jenna.”* The settings look great, and the acting never feels hammy or terrible. What special effects there are, they’re done so nothing looks silly or fake.

And of course, there’s blood. Lots and lots of blood. Enough to not make a liar out of the title.

That being said, there are a couple of negatives to the film. While there’s plenty of scary imagery and tense moments, there wasn’t any point until near the very end where I felt frightened. And while the stories were well-written, you could see the twists for most of them coming and the last one, “Bennett,” had no surprises at all.

And while the stories were interconnected, I wasn’t really satisfied with how a couple of them were connected. I would have liked more emphasis on the connections and how each story could play into and influence each other.

But on the whole, Books of Blood is a decent enough adaptation of the source material. On a scale of 1 to 5, I’ll give it a 4. If you like horror anthology movies, this might be something to put onto your watchlist.

Just be careful not to watch it while drinking red wine, tea made for you by someone else, or stay at a bed and breakfast while watching it.

*Not sure if any of the stories in the film are based on stories in the books, but I think I’ll find that out if I enjoy Volume One and decide to continue with the series.