Posts Tagged ‘authors’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Jewish Book of Horror

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

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

The Jewish Book of Horror: Amazon, B&N

Dark Nature: A Horror Anthology

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

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

Dark Nature: Amazon

The Dark Sire issue 9

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

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

TDS Issue 8: Amazon

TDS Issue 9: Website download

One More Surprise…

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

Nightmare Collective Part 2: Amazon


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

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Lately, I’ve been deep into two very different books of horror. The first, which I finished last night, is What One Wouldn’t Do, an anthology of horror stories around the idea of “what wouldn’t you do for…what? Power? Revenge? Love? Etc?” The other is Ghoul by Brian Keene, a coming-of-age horror novel about three boys who discover a ghoul living in the graveyard near their homes. They’re both very good, very different from one another, and both deal in emotional horror.

Emotional horror is horror that relies more on the feelings the story provokes in the reader than a supernatural/paranormal entity or a serial killer or anything like that. And yes, I’m aware that all horror tries to provoke an emotional response in readers. Namely terror and fear. But this is a much more subtle kind of horror. Emotional horror scares you with the situation the characters are in and their responses, particularly their emotional responses, to the situation.

A good example of this is the 2015 movie The Witch. You may have noticed, but the titular witch is actually pretty peripheral to the story. She doesn’t show up except to maybe push events in the story. In total, I think she’s maybe only in the film for three whole minutes, if even that. Rather, the horror of the story is how each character reacts to the witch’s interference in their lives. It starts with the baby being kidnaped, then with the older son disappearing into the woods and then coming back horrifically changed. The kid has an ecstatic vision before dying, which leads to the family to believe they’re being victimized by a witch, who could possibly be one of them. And you’re terrified not by the witch or what could be her supernatural influence on the characters. You’re scared by their paranoia, their heartbreak and distrust, and how quickly things devolve from here, leading to an awful, irreversible decision on the part of the protagonist.

The true horror of this story may not be from the titular monster

This is the kind of horror both What One Wouldn’t Do and Ghoul deal in. Many of the stories in the former deal with supernatural elements, but the horror itself is what drives the characters to commit heinous acts or to make deals with the devil or go through insane challenges, and then seeing the fallout from those decisions. And for the latter, while the titular monster is scary in its way, it’s no Pennywise. Rather, a lot of the horror we experience is through the main characters, twelve-year-old boys who are becoming disillusioned by the world around them through the adults in their lives. It’s honestly heartbreaking to see the adults around them fail them so spectacularly, and one scene in particular was so upsetting, I had to post about it on Facebook and Twitter just to get my emotions out.

So, how do you write these scenes? Honestly, it’s not easy. I’m not sure you can set out to write a story that deliberately tugs at your heartstrings and fills you with the emotions the characters are feeling. It’s kind of like how you can’t write a story around a theme. Instead, you take a story and the theme evolves naturally from your working on it. Only when that theme has revealed itself can you play with it and the story together to bring out the best in both.

That was certainly the case with Cressida, the story I wrote that was published in Into the Deep (click here to check it out if you haven’t yet). While it’s a horror story and a mermaid story, it’s not a horror story about mermaids, though they aren’t the pretty fishtailed supermodels Disney animated, either. Rather, the mermaid is in herself a catalyst for the true horror, which is what the characters do upon encountering a mermaid who shares an uncanny resemblance to a deceased family member of theirs.

But when I set out to write that story, I never intended that the horror would come from the characters’ emotional and psychological reactions. I wrote the story because it sounded like a lot of fun to work on and I made changes to the storyline along the way to better bring out the horror I was discovering. The result is Cressida, which I feel is some of the best work I’ve written yet.

You know, that makes me realize something: in emotional horror, whatever is happening in the plot, be it mermaids, ghouls, necromancy, witches, etc., is often not the main focus of the story (even if it’s in the story’s title). Rather, they’re plot devices, tools to draw out the horror hidden within the characters’ emotional responses.

My story in this anthology didn’t start out as an emotionally-driven horror story. It just ended up that way.

I guess that makes emotional horror a kind of psychological horror.

Anyway, that’s what’s going through my mind at this time. The fact that I was getting into all these stories with similar kinds of horror at the same time got my brain working, so I decided to write it out. I’d love to hear what your thoughts on this subject are. Let’s talk in the comments below.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I leave for my trip tomorrow, so I likely won’t be around as much as I would otherwise be. However, I’ll be around on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, so check there for updates if you start to miss me.

Until next time, my Followers of Fear, good night, pleasant nightmares, and there’s only a week till Halloween. Prepare to give yourselves to the dance of terror and to raise the old gods so we can all enjoy their infernal gifts. If you do not, I suggest you run.

Bye!

Wow, we have a lot of announcements to make on this blog lately, don’t we? It’s a wonder I have any time to do any writing after the day job!

As you might remember, at the beginning of the month my story “Natural Predators” was accepted into the anthology Dark Nature from Macabre Ladies Publishing. The anthology revolves around the idea of Mother Earth getting her revenge for all the awfulness humanity has perpetrated on her surface. My own story, one of only thirteen accepted, is about a new virus that quickly spreads into a pandemic, threatening a summer camp as cases pop up among the campers.

Yes, I wrote a pandemic story, and it somehow got accepted! Who would have thought there’s still a market for pandemic fiction?

Anyway, Dark Nature will be releasing this Halloween and the e-book is currently available for preorder (the paperback will be available a few days prior). If you are interested, please preorder. And when you read it, please leave a review. Not only will your reviews let people know what you think, they’ll help the publisher in the long run.

Here’s the link for the ebook. I’ll post the link for the paperback when it’s available.

And speaking of anthologies releasing on Halloween, The Jewish Book of Horror will be coming out the same day. That anthology includes my story “The Divorce from God,” as well as other Jewish horror stories. I’ll include the links to preorder that below.

The Jewish Book of Horror: Amazon, Barnes & Noble

And as I said before, there’s still time to register for A Night of Horror with the Ohio Horror Writers Association. Me and my fellow writers Lucy Snyder, Anton Cancre, and Krista Canterbury Adams will be at the Bexley Public Library tomorrow, Wednesday evening from 7-8 PM. We’ll do some readings, answer some questions, and maybe share our books with some people. And you can attend virtually if you don’t live nearby, so why not register? Hope to see you there. Here’s the link.

And finally, I’ll be at the Licking County Library Local Author Festival this Saturday. If you’re in the area, stop by the downtown library in Newark, Ohio from 10 AM – 2:30 PM. I’ll be there selling books and hopefully making some new friends and fond memories, so why not stop by and support local authors?

We’ll that’s all for now. I’m going to try to do some writing before bed. Until next time, good night and pleasant nightmares!

Well, this has been a nice surprise. I found out a little while ago that The Jewish Book of Horror is being released early!

Originally this anthology of Jewish horror, which features my story “The Divorce from God” among other terrifying tales, was supposed to come out around Hanukkah. However, the Denver Horror Collective, who is publishing the anthology, decided to move it up to Halloween. Not sure why, but I’m guessing that since there’s already been a bit of Bram Stoker buzz around this collection, it might have something to do with it. Either way, I’m not complaining. I’m looking forward to all of you reading this book as soon as it comes out.

And guess what else? The book is already available for preorder from sites like Amazon and Barnes & Noble! I’ll put the links below in case you want to check it out. Also look at other websites and ask your local libraries to order copies.

The Jewish Book of Horror: Amazon, Barnes & Noble

There are also a bunch of other publications coming out soon with my work in them, so I’ll make sure to post the links for those as soon as I have them.

In the meantime…

As I said the other day, there are a few events in the near future that I’m hoping to get a huge attendance at. Obviously, this Wednesday I’ll be at the Bexley Library with some of my fellow horror writers Lucy Snyder, Krysta Canterbury Adams and Anton Cancre for a A Night of Horror! Even better, you can attend virtually, but you have to register first.

Remember, this event is on Wednesday, October 13th, 2021 from 7-8 PM. I hope you can attend.

Registration link here!

Also, on Saturday I’ll be at the Licking County Library Local Author Fair from 10 AM to 2:30 PM. There’s going to be a lot of awesome authors of all stripes there, including plenty of my colleagues in the horror genre. It’s at the downtown library in Newark, Ohio, so why not take a trip over and say hi? I’ll be waiting with books and skulls and maybe a bit of mood music.

And finally…

I’ve been hinting that I’m going on vacation soon. And while I’m not giving away the dates (I’m worried about burglars and stalkers), I am giving away the locations. I’ll be gone for two weeks visiting St. Louis, Missouri; Las Vegas, Nevada; and New Orleans, Louisiana. Why those cities? Well, I was born in St. Louis, but I left when I was two and have only been back maybe once. I honestly don’t remember anything from either time, I was that little. So, I’m heading to my birthplace to make some memories.

As for Vegas and New Orleans…well, I’ve always wanted to visit, so why not? And since I’m going outside of tourist season, I’ll probably avoid crowds while still having some fun.

And in all three cities, I’ll likely pick up some great ideas for stories.

Well, that’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’m going to have a busy week, but I’ll hopefully get some writing done while I’m at it and have a blast too. Until next time, good night and pleasant nightmares!

Hey all. This is kind of last-minute, but I am attending a couple of events in the central Ohio area and I wanted to make sure you all knew about it. Especially since one of them, people outside of the Columbus area will actually be able to attend this one.

A Night of Horror with the Ohio Horror Writers Association

Some of you may remember that two years ago, before the pandemic, me and my fellow members in the Ohio chapter of the Horror Writers Association had an event at the Bexley Public Library. We couldn’t do anything with them last year, but this year is entirely different. And this Wednesday, October 13th, 2021, we will be having another event with them from 7-8 PM. We’ll do some reading, answer some questions, maybe sell some books while we’re at it.

And guess what? You can now attend it remotely through Zoom. You’ll need to register and sign up to attend, whether you’re in person or not, but that means anyone who wants to can attend. I hope a few of you reading this will show.

In order to sign up for the event, you can register on the Bexley Library website here.

Licking County Local Author Festival

On October 16th, I’ll be attending a local author festival at the Licking County Library at their downtown Newark location. From what I hear, they’re going to be having a ton of authors of all stripes and stories across two floors. And I also hear that the horror authors may be getting their own area. I’m going to have to wear a great costume. And I don’t mean my human form.

Anyway, hope you can stop by. It’s at 101 W. Main Street in Newark, Ohio and the festival is from 10:30 AM – 2 PM. Please stop by and support your local authors!


That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. Lots of exciting stuff on the horizon, so I’ll keep you updated. Even when I’m on vacation and can’t blog as freely. Until next time, good night and pleasant nightmares!

Let’s face it, every creative out there (especially those who weave stories together) has put themselves into their work. Often, they do it more than once, and the resemblance to themselves, accurate or in their own heads, varies from self-insert to self-insert.* HP Lovecraft loved to put himself through cosmic horror and dreamlike ordeals as Randolph Carter (does that count as masochism?), and Stephen King’s The Dark Half is obviously him having fun with a fictional version of himself and his pen name Richard Bachman.

And don’t forget, Dante Alighieri made himself the star of The Divine Comedy, where the poet Virgil and later Beatrice, the dead girl he crept on when she was alive, led him through Hell, Purgatory and Heaven.

You know, now that I’m typing this, I realize that a lot of self-insert characters get to go on the biggest, most grandiose adventures. I mean, Dante traversed the afterlife and recorded it in detail! And remember Lani Sarem, the lady who conned her way to the top of the New York Times bestseller list? Her novel’s protagonist, who from the cover art is basically her under a different name, was a witch who basically became the delight of the Las Vegas entertainment scene using her abilities.

There’s an article to be found in this, I’m just not in the mood to research and write it right now.

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes. Self-inserts. I’m no exception to the rule. Throughout my writing career, I’ve included different versions of myself in my stories. One or two have even been included in published stories (I’ll let you guess which ones those are). And once more, I’m inserting myself into the story I’m currently working on. Only this time, this might be the most obvious and blatant self-insert since Dante!

Okay, that’s an exaggeration. But it feels like it! My character is basically what I hope will be me in a few years: a full-time writer with his own home, hosting costume parties in his living room and able to focus on creepy tales as a living. His last name is an anagram of my own and his first name also begins with an “R.” So yeah, pretty obvious self-insert.

Still, I’m having fun with it. The story’s focus isn’t on my character, he’s just a good way to get this story going. And since I can focus on telling the story and not making my self-insert seem like the bee’s knees to readers, I can get a little ridiculous and have a ton of fun with it. Whether that will lead to a decent ghost story (because of course I would put myself into a ghost story!) remains to be seen. But perhaps with some edits…well, we’ll see.

Anyway, I’ll get back to this story soon. And I’ll likely have a post or two for you all very soon, so keep an eye out. And in the meantime, check out this book trailer for The Jewish Book of Horror that was uploaded to YouTube last night. It’s really cool, and you can even see my name listed beside my story, “The Divorce from God,” at one point. Give it a watch and consider getting a copy of the book when it releases.

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

*That’s the preferred term, as I understand it.

Cover of Dark Nature. Pretty cool, isn’t it?

Wow, what a week it’s been! First I got that double acceptance on Sunday, and then I get this piece of news on Tuesday. Who knows what’s going to occur over the weekend? But I digress, because “Natural Predators” is being published in the anthology Dark Nature from Macabre Ladies Publishing!

So if you didn’t know, “Natural Predators” is a story I wrote back in June about a pandemic hitting a summer camp. Surprisingly, it’s not based on any of our current events. No seriously. It was actually inspired by my own summer camp days. Back when I was a teen, the sleepaway camp I was at, as well as the surrounding communities, was hit by a nasty stomach virus. Over the course of a weekend, the infirmary was filled with kids and adults throwing their guts up. And I was the first in my year to get it, as well as the one who probably got the rest of my year sick.

Years later, when watching an episode of Family Guy where the characters were trying to write their own horror movie, I imagined the character Joe, who is disabled, drawing on his own personal experience to write a body horror tale. Somehow that combined in my head with the camp epidemic, and a story was born: “Natural Predators.”

Of course, I didn’t write it until this summer, when I had the right stimulus. Dark Nature is an anthology around the idea of Mother Nature getting back at humanity for centuries of abuse. As long as nature was depicted being the revenge, anything went. The idea spoke to me, so I decided to write “Natural Predators” around the theme. And it worked pretty well, too.

That being said, I honestly didn’t think it would get in. It’s a pandemic story, after all, and there was such tough competition. And I thought the other submissions would be so much better than mine (humility is a good quality to have as a writer, I find). But somehow, out of a hundred submissions, mine was one of the ones chosen!

Apparently there’s still a market for pandemic fiction. Even in the middle of a pandemic.

Being serious now, I’m really grateful the editors at Macabre Ladies Publishing liked my story and I’m so excited to work with them. Thank you as well to my beta reader Monica, whose advice was probably instrumental in making the story as good as it is. And congratulations to the other people who got in with me. We all faced some tough competition, so I’m glad we were able to get in together.

I hope you’re as excited as I am about this story being published as I am, and are interested in reading Dark Nature once it comes out. Which, according to the publisher, should be some time this month if all goes as planned. I’ll post links as soon as I can, and I look forward to hearing what you all think of “Natural Predators.”

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. At the time this is publishing, I’m off using my dreams to plant dangerous, mutated arthropods in the homes of people who deserve it. So with that, I wish you all a good night, pleasant nightmares, and welcome to October! Truly the most wonderful time of the year.*

*Seriously, it is. I wrote an entire blog post on that and the points still stand.