Posts Tagged ‘authors’

I met Heather Miller recently, and I could tell she had a passion for horror. It feels like every day, she’s posting a review of the latest horror novel she’s read and what she thought of it. So when she announced that she would be publishing a collection of short stories, the majority of which were based on tales her grandmother told her either as a ghost story or as a song, I thought I’d check it out. I got an advanced copy, and read it in about a week.

And as you can guess, here’s my review.

My impression of the thirteen stories in Tales My Grandmother Told Me is that it would make some great summer camp or around-the-campfire reading. Which, honestly, is rather fitting considering the first story is told around a campfire. They’re also quite bingeable. You can read them back-to-back pretty quickly, like I did. And I have to say, while I wasn’t terrified, I did enjoy most of the stories. My favorites were Safe House, which was a creepy Gothic horror story, and Girl’s Best Friend, which was a fun twist on an old urban legend.

I will say that this collection didn’t feel aimed at me. It felt more like it was aimed at the teenage crowd, especially teens who are just starting to ease their way into horror. Kind of like Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark was for children. If I knew any young teens who were looking to get into horror but weren’t ready to be traumatized, I would probably recommend this.

On a scale of 1 to 5, I’m going to award Tales My Grandmother Told Me by Heather Miller a 4 out of 5. If you have a teenager who wants to wade into the waters of horror, or you like that fiction, you’ll probably enjoy this collection. It’s available now from Amazon, so check it out if you like. And if you enjoy the book, be sure to leave a review so both the author and others know what you think.

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

That Which Cannot Be Undone. Cover by Greg Chapman. Hopefully to be in bookstores everywhere.

Run for the hills! Hide in your basements! Sound the trumpets of doom! That Which Cannot Be Undone is now set to preorder!

So, if you’re not aware, some of my Ohio horror writer friends and I started a press last year with the goal of releasing a horror anthology highlighting both Ohio horror and Ohio horror writers. “That Which Cannot Be Undone” is the result of that goal, as well as countless hours of meetings, hard work, rallying, writing, and, of course, the pledges of many supporters on Kickstarter.

And, as of this morning, the ebook is available for preorder on Amazon, with a release date of October 11th.

Here’s the blurb from the back cover:

Beneath Ohio’s congenial midwestern facade lies a dark underbelly of urban legends, cursed sites, and unseen terrors. From a woman drawn to an underwater town haunted by its last resident to a killer desperately seeking to experience new life through the teeth of his victims, these eighteen stories all take place in the Buckeye State, some drawn from already-known accounts of strangeness and infamous settings, others completely the author’s invention.

Edited by Bram Stoker Award-winner Jess Landry, That Which Cannot Be Undone features works from new and established voices in horror, including Bram Stoker Award-winners Gary A. Braunbeck, Tim Waggoner, Lucy A. Snyder, Gwendolyn Kiste, and Kealan Patrick Burke, and New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Megan Hart.

it also includes a story by this guy named…Rami Ungar. Hmmm, I don’t know him. Do you? And is he any good?

Jokes aside, I can’t tell you how excited we are for everyone to read this anthology. It was one thing just to imagine this book coming out, especially as we were looking for ways to make the pandemic go by faster. But then talk turned into research, research turned into decisions, decisions turned into, plans turned into starting a business, the business made more plans, those plans led to the cooperation of several writers, an editor, and a Kickstarter campaign! The Kickstarter campaign surpassed its goal, authors starting submitting their stories, we hired an amazing cover artist who produced a terrifying cover, our editor Jess Landry helped us polish up our stories, and now we have the book ready to release! And very soon, many of you will be reading it.

Down below is the link to preorder the ebook (sadly, Amazon makes it so we can’t offer a preorder for the paperback just yet). I hope you’ll preorder a copy or purchase it when it’s out. And for those of you whose pledges include a copy or two of the book, don’t worry; we’re working hard to ensure you get your copies as soon as possible.

Either way, we hope you’ll read the anthology, enjoy it, and leave a review to let us know what you thought. Reviews are huge boosts for these books and help them find new readers, so we appreciate every review left for us.

Anyway, that’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I can tell you, October is going to be an exciting month, and not just for all the usual reasons. I look forward to celebrating all the events that are to come.

Until next time, good night, pleasant nightmares, and 42 days till Halloween!

That Which Cannot Be Undone: Amazon

If you’ve been with me a while now, you know I’ve become a fan of The King in Yellow by Robert Chambers. First published in 1895, the important stories in the collection (and the best ones) revolve around a play called The King in Yellow, which is so twisted that reading it can drive you mad (or make you a slave to the titular entity, if you believe he’s real). The collection has proved influential and has been touted as a classic by many horror writers, including HP Lovecraft, as well as being partially integrated into the latter’s Cthulhu Mythos.

I read the collection after hearing about it last year, and since then, I’ve become a little obsessed. I bought my own copy of the collection, I wrote a short story called “The Dedication of the High Priestess” that combines the character and the lore with ballet (this story will be narrated on the Tales to Terrify podcast some time before the year is out), I created some AI art of the figure, and now, I am the King in Yellow. For Halloween, at least.

What do you think? I went with something more simplistic than I originally planned (big white gloves, an ornate crown resembling antlers and tree branches), and boiled it down to a robed figure with a mask. However, that’s basically the things that most people agree upon when it comes to the character’s appearance, so it works. And I even got a photo of me holding my copy of the collection like it’s the play itself. I think that’s a nice touch.

Credit for the photos go to my sister, Adi, by the way. She did a great job taking the photos this afternoon.

Anyway, I look forward to wearing this costume to events like A Night of Horror at the Bexley Public Library and the Local Author Book Fair at the Licking County Library, as well as hopefully to a party or two (my exact plans for Halloween are still up in the air). And even if people don’t know who the character is, this might get them to read the collection, or at least look him up. But hopefully the former, because it makes for some great Halloween reading.

Speaking of which, if you’re looking for something spooky to reading this Halloween season, might I recommend some of my books? I have four books out now and they’ve all been received well. Some readers have even found them quite terrifying. I’ll include a quick summary of the stories and links to check them out below.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I hope you liked my Halloween costume. But tell me, what are you planning to dress up as this Halloween season? Do you have any big plans? Let’s discuss in the comments below.

Until next time, good night, pleasant nightmares and only 43 days till All Hallows Eve!

The Pure World Comes: A maid goes to work for a mad scientist and gets wrapped up in his experiments. Terror ensues. Gothic horror novel. Very Frankenstein meets Crimson Peak.
Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, Kobo, Goodreads, Audible, Chirp, BingeBooks, LIbro.Fm, Storytel, Google Play

Rose: A young woman gets turned into a plant/human hybrid (and that’s just the start of her problems). Fantasy-horror. Very Kafkaesque and has a lot of Japanese mythology mixed in.
Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada, Audible, B&N

Snake: A serial killer hunts mobsters in New York City. Who is he and why is he killing? Slasher horror. Think John Wick, Taken and Friday the 13th got smooshed into a horror novel.
Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada, Barnes & Noble, iBooksSmashwords, and Kobo

The Quiet Game: Five Tales to Chill Your Bones: Five creepy tales from my early writing and publishing career that will entertain as well as scare you. They’re weird, eerie and a lot of fun. You know, like their author.
Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooksSmashwords, and Kobo.

Well, I have to start this post off with some bad news: I will not be at the Ohio Author Spotlight Event being held by the Pickerington Public Library in Pickerington, Ohio. I’ll get into why in a bit. Stick around, because you’ll want to read on, even if you don’t live anywhere near Ohio.

The good news is, the Bexley Public Library will be hosting another Night of Horror with me and my fellow members of the Ohio chapter of the Horror Writers Association, or HWA Ohio. We’ll be doing readings and selling books at the Bexley Public Library in Bexley, Ohio on Monday, October 3rd from 7-8 PM. The featured authors’ list is still being finalized, but I’ll be there, you can count on that.

And on October 15th, I’ll be at the Licking County Public Library for their Local Author Festival. The fair will be from 10:30 AM to 2 PM at the Licking County Public Library in Newark, Ohio. This year, the library is doing quite a bit to draw in bigger crowds than last year, so hopefully plenty of people show up.

If any of you are in Ohio during those dates, please stop by to say hello. I would be happy to see you, provided you’re not a murderous stalker or just any form of stalker, and I would gladly sign a book for you. And if any other events pop up, I will let you know.

And while this is not an event, you all know that I’m competing in the Face of Horror contest. The first round of the contest ends Friday, September 15th, at which point the Top 20 of each group will move onto the next round. I don’t expect to win, though I would love to meet Kane Hodder and have a walk-on role in an indie horror movie, among other things. But I would like to make it to the next round, and I need your help to do that. Every day, you get one free vote, so please cast your votes using the link below. Or you can buy extra votes (portion of proceeds goes to charity).

Whatever you choose, thank you for your support these past several days. Because you keep coming back and casting your votes, I’ve been able to stay in the rankings in my group and might just make it to the next round. I hope you’ll continue to support me as I work hard and try to make the most of this opportunity for my writing career. Who knows? I may even win.

Face of Horror — Rami Ungar

Finally, why am I not going to the Pickerington Public Library this weekend? Well, that’s because Mystics and Marvels this past weekend was a huge success! I sold all but two copies of The Pure World Comes, which is more than I’ve ever sold at any other event, and earned more than at any other convention I’ve been to. My fellow authors at the HWA Ohio table also sold plenty of books, which definitely made all the work this past weekend worth it. We’ve already put a deposit down on a booth for next year, and we’re planning on bringing more authors with us next year so we all can reach even more readers.

This and other recent events make me think that, even though I’m so busy lately that I often don’t have time to write, that I’m on the path I’m meant to be on right now. It’s like the universe or God or whatever is moving me towards some new chapter of my writing career, and I can’t wait to see what unfolds in that chapter. Maybe more writing time? One can only hope.

Anyway, that’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’ll end this by posting photos from Mystics and Marvels. I’ll probably be back soon, so keep an eye out. And in the meantime, good night, pleasant nightmares, and 47 days till Halloween!

From left to right: Matt Betts, me, Sarah Hans, and Anton Cancre
This is my new author photo.
Definitely one of the most elaborate costumes I saw at the fair, if not the most elaborate: the Skull Bear!
No joke, that is a genuine wolf! Not a dark furred German Shepherd, a real wolf!
A medium made this portrait for me using pastels. Apparently he’s one of my spirit guides, and an English soldier from the Battle of Agincourt who might be my ancestor.
Another great costume, but it was difficult to communicate with this person due to the mask.
You would not believe what it took to get that photo taken.

With books like A Head Full of Ghosts, The Cabin at the End of the World and Survivor Song (which I still say would make a great stage musical), The Pallbearers Club by Paul Tremblay has been one of the most anticipated novels of 2022. I got my copy almost as soon as it came out, but because my life has been busy lately, I only just finished the book today. So now, as I feel obligated to do, I’m writing my review.

The Pallbearers Club follows a man who calls himself (or the version of himself in the novel/memoir he is narrating) Art Barbara. Seeking to pad out his college applications, Art starts the Pallbearers Club, a volunteer club where members show up to funerals for the homeless and lonely, and then carry them out to the hearse (because who wants no one to show up to their funeral?). At one of these funerals, Art meets Mercy Brown, a strange college girl who both opens up Art’s world and sets him on a path that will affect him through his adulthood. And maybe even beyond.

For starters, the novel is creative in its presentation. It’s written primarily by Art on a computer, while Mercy’s red-inked, handwritten notes speckle the margins and bookend each chapter. It allows you to learn a lot about each character, who are both somewhat unreliable narrators for each their own reasons, and there’s a lot of reflections on topics like memory and identity. It also makes me wonder what the audio book is like, because Mercy’s notes are a big part of each chapter. Does her narrator interrupt the text every now and again?

I also like how Art uses unusual adjectives while he writes, and the best parts of the novels are probably the sections set in Art’s teenage years during the late 80s. You really get to know and like the characters the best at that point, and it’s among the best examples of 80s nostalgia I’ve come across.

That being said, there’s a lot about this novel that rubbed me the wrong way. My biggest issue is the story, or almost lack of one. Art spends a lot of time going through the major points of his life, especially where Mercy is part of his life, but it becomes a slog because he hits you over the head at times with how little self-esteem and how much self-loathing he has. It’s okay early in the book, because he’s a teenager and those are always difficult times and Mercy is at least opening up his world. But after graduation, Art seems intent on just making you hate him as much as possible.

Which might be okay if Mercy or the plot helped balance the story out, but they don’t. Even with her notes, Mercy’s so intent on being edgy and mysterious that we really don’t get to know the real her, and it makes it hard to see her as a character and more as a mystery. Again, fine early in the book, but after a while, we get tired of it.

There’s also not a lot happening in the book. At least, not as far as horror novels go. The New England vampire lore is part of the story, but not in a significant way like I’d expected. It becomes more like a background theme, kind of a parallel about aging, health problems, and our own anxieties and delusions are like vampires on us and we wonder where in the hell they come from. Which is fine, if the story is interesting or the the lore is utilized in the right way.

The Pallbearers Club didn’t do it in the right way. I feel like it was trying to go for what Revival by Stephen King did, which was show how a single man affected the life of an aging rocker throughout his life while mixing in the supernatural. But while it tries, it doesn’t succeed.

And this isn’t something I’ll deduct points for, but why pick on Def Leppard in the early parts of the story? That band is a big part of why I love 80s music, how dare you!

I normally like Paul Tremblay’s work, but on a scale of 1 to 5, I’m going to give The Pallbearers Club a 2. The way it’s written is creative and the initial chapters are great, but annoying characters and an unimpressive plot just stakes it through the heart.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. My next read will be The Devil Takes You Home by Gabino Iglesias, while my next review will likely be Tales My Grandmother Told Me by Heather Miller (read an advanced copy). You’ll know my thoughts on both in time.

Until next time, good night, pleasant nightmares, and 49 days till Halloween.

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

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

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.

In his latest collection, Junji Ito contains four short horror manga for us to enjoy. Surprisingly, none of them are named “The Liminal Zone,” which is unusual for his collections.

That’s it. That’s the summary of the book.

So, as you all know, Ito-sensei’s work can be really hit-or-miss with me. Some of it, like Remina or Uzumaki, are masterpieces and I feel should be read by horror lovers everywhere. Others, like Smashed or Fragment of Horror, didn’t make that big an impact on me (though I think one of the short stories in the latter inspired one of the stories that’ll be in Hannah). This collection, for the most part, was a miss.

The first story, Weeping Woman Way, is about a couple who come across a professional mourner, affecting the woman in the couple. It is kind of eerie, but it kind of fell flat with me. Too much exposition and not enough focus on the horror, which I feel is a trend with the lesser of Ito’s stories.

The second, Madonna, was my favorite. Taking Catholic veneration of Jesus’s mother Mary to new extremes, the story takes place at an all-girls school where the principal’s wife dresses up as the Virgin Mary. As new student Maria Amano notices weird things occurring at the school, and the attentions of the principal and his wife become more than creepy, she finds herself wrapped up in a terrifying plot centered around the belief that the Virgin Mary will reincarnate one day.

As a cult story, I rather liked it and how it took Mary worship in a rather disturbing direction. I also like how Ito-sensei explored feminist themes in the story, like how many of the female characters equate acting passive and devoted to their god–the principal–to acting like Mary. Even the main character acts very passively and only takes action when her own life is threatened.

The one flaw with the story was that I would have liked a slightly different ending, but overall it’s easily the best story in the collection. I would love to see how a live-action horror adaptation would handle the story. It would likely be an improvement over that other horror movie about twisted Marian veneration that came out last year.

The third story, The Spirit Flow of Aokigahara, is Ito’s take on the famous “Suicide Forest” of Aokigahara, and I did not think it was possible to find a story on that subject I would hate more than 2016’s The Forest (see my review here). A terminally ill man and his girlfriend head to the forest to commit suicide and find a mysterious phenomenon involving ghosts and a mysterious cave. I really have no idea what was up with this story. It just seemed like Ito was throwing darts at a board and trying to see what plot points he could hit.

Though I do appreciate that it made fun of that idiot YouTuber who actually posted footage of a dead body on his channel by having another YouTuber experience something sanity ending.

The final story, Slumber, wasn’t half-bad. A guy believes that he’s been going out and killing people after he goes to sleep. It’s a decent psychological thriller with a nice twist. Plus, the art is especially gruesome.

All in all, this is one of Ito-sensei’s lesser collections, though there is material to enjoy. On a scale of 1 to 5, I’m going to give The Liminal Zone a 2.5 out of 5. If there was more or better material inside, the grade would have been better, but it is what it is. Read for Madonna and Slumber, but skip over the other two.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’ll have some more posts out next week, believe me. So until next time, good night and pleasant nightmares!