Posts Tagged ‘editing’

The common noctule bat was a big visual inspiration for the dragon bats in the story.

So, a while back, I started mentioning dragon bats on this blog and my other social media. Nothing serious, just casual mentions of releasing dragon bats when something good happens. But it apparently was more than that, because the nasty beasties stirred the imagination of friend, colleague and Follower of Fear Iseult Murphy (check out her blog here), who ended up creating fan art of the dragon bats (click here to see that art).

And for those wondering what a dragon bat is, it’s exactly as the name implies: a bat big enough to earn the descriptor “dragon.” They’re also carnivorous, aggressive, and their bite is either venomous or has lots of dangeorus pathogens in the saliva, we’re not sure. They’re like Komodo dragons, in that way.

Anyway, Iseult’s fan art inspired me in turn and I decided to create a story featuring the dragon bats. It took a bit of brainstorming, but I was eventually able to come up with a story with the nasty beasts. And this past week or two, I wrote the story, finishing it up this morning at around 4 AM.

Yeah. It’s been a while since I was up that late finishing a story. I think the last time was finishing up my novel River of Wrath around Halloween 2018.

Back to the story. The story, which I ended up naming “Disillusionment and Trauma Sometimes Go Hand in Hand” (I couldn’t think of something short and snappy, so I took a page from Stephen King and gave the story a long, ridiculous title), follows a girl who becomes an unwilling participant in a plot to get revenge for the death of her best friend. A plot that, you guessed it, involves dragon bats.

And whoo-boy, did this story end up being a crazy one! Not only is it a decent-sized novelette at 12,645 words, but it’s also got a lot going on in it. Blood, murder, revenge, a bit of torture, some creature feature and the occult. All in all, though, I think it’s a good story. Hopefully Iseult and any other beta readers I ask agree and I can find a home for it.

So, what’s next? Well, I’ve been marketing a collection of original short stories for a while now. I think I’ll take a second look at some of them and give them another round of edits before trying to find a publisher again. After that…well, we’ll see. With The Pure World Comes accepted for publication, it’ll soon be time to start editing it and that’ll take up some time. I don’t want to commit to anything knowing it might be sidelined after starting.

At least I was able to get one more story done. And like I said, it’s one hell of a story. If kind of…batty.

Oh come on, I had to make that joke! Sue me.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. Until next time, pleasant nightmares and RELEASE THE DRAGON BATS!!!

Oh, and one more thing: you have ten more days to submit a question to my Ask Me Anything, or AMA. If you submit a question to ramiungar@ramiungarthewriter.com by 11:59 PM on July 28th, 2021, you’ll be eligible for a prize. This is all to celebrate ten years of blogging on this platform, so I hope you all send questions my way. Looking forward to reading them!

Funny story: when I was writing the title of this post, I accidentally wrote “Days’ instead of “Years.” I thought about the confusion my Followers of Fear would feel when they saw that title, smiled maliciously, then decided to change the title. You’re welcome.

So, today marks eight years since The Quiet Game: Five Tales to Chill Your Bones was released. This was my first published book, and my first published collection of short stories to boot. I wrote it in early 2013 because I decided to self-publish the year before. As I was working on a novel that wasn’t ready to be published, but wanted something out anyway, I started writing stories with the goal of making a small collection. A lot of work, some feedback from one of my creative writing classes, and on July 17th, 2013, The Quiet Game was released!

Looking back, the work I wrote then sometimes feels a bit amateur to me. If I wrote some of those stories today, I think I would have written some of them differently. Still, I’m proud of them and I’m glad that people enjoy them (more on that in a bit).

And then there’s the cover. I actually took that photo on a snowy night at Ohio State. It’s actually Orton Hall on the Oval, our central quad. I then added some special effects to make writing in the sky, and then added the letters. Which, as I mentioned in my unboxing video from March, accidentally had an extra F in the subtitle. Oops. But I’m fond of the typo now. It means people shiver when they read it!

And shiver they do. Here is what people have been saying about The Quiet Game:

A collection of five varied stories that get stronger as the collection builds, with the final being my favorite. Though I fancy myself able to “solve” the stories before the reveals, there were several surprises here, especially the reveal in the Quiet Game and I’m Going to be the Next James Bond. I also liked that Rami pulled no punches with his characters. In one instance, an anti-semite for instances uses words that would be hard for any author to write -though are necessary to his character. There are other examples sprinkled throughout the stories that show Rami’s commitment to telling the story in the way it needs to be told. A good collection for a stormy night!

Joleene Naylor, author of the Amaranthine vampire novels.

Imagine if you will a young Stephen King penning dark scenarios inspired by his youth, and what you get is this anthology. Through this collection of short stories, Rami Ungar brings us into the world of dark urges, childhood traumas, ghosts, phantoms, and dark psychological thrillers. An inspired creation, and definitely a good intro to this indie author’s world!

Matthew Williams, author of The Cronian Incident.

this book was filled with action pacted fun and the scary vibes are always coming and I think that you need to write more of these 5 book scare rides. totaly a 6 (; star book.

KATHLEEN LYNN LEVEN
My friend and fellow author Allen Huntsman with his new copy of “The Quiet Game.” I look forward to hearing his thoughts.

I should mention, the reviews come straight from Amazon, so any typos are the reviewers’ and not mine.

Anyway, most of the reviews are like this and I’m happy that people enjoy the book so much. In fact, before Rose, The Quiet Game was my most reviewed book on Amazon. And while Rose may still be ahead in terms of reader feedback, I still get people picking up The Quiet Game every now and then and leaving their thoughts. So, I guess I wrote some stories that have aged well.

One can hope, anyway.

If you would like to check out The Quiet Game, I’ll leave links below. It’s a short but enjoyable read, so I hope you’ll get a kick out of it if you pick up a copy. And if you like what you read, or if you don’t, please leave some feedback for me. Positive or negative, I love reader feedback and it helps me, as well as other readers, in the long run.

Thanks for checking the book out, and happy publishing anniversary.

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


One last thing, my Followers of Fear: the tenth anniversary of when I started this blog is coming up, and I’m having an Ask Me Anything, or an AMA, to celebrate. Submit a question to me, along with your name and where you’re from, to my email at ramiungar@ramiungarthewriter.com by 11:59 PM July 28th, 2021. Not only will you get your question answered, but one lucky person will win a prize!

I look forward to answering all your questions and celebrating the big event with you. Until next time, stay safe and pleasant nightmares!

I made a nice graphic for “The Pure World Comes.” It’ll work till I get a proper cover for the story.

If you read the poem in my last post, you probably noticed a key phrase in the last stanza. How did it go again? Oh yes. Now I remember.

Behold! THE PURE WORLD COMES!

That wasn’t just some incomprehensible poetry mumbo-jumbo (though I wouldn’t blame you if you thought it was). No, this poem has been a prelude for something big.

As many of you are aware, last year as we were all in lockdown, I wrote a novel set in Victorian England. The novel followed a young maid who went to work in the home of a mad scientist. I then did another draft, sent the novel to a couple of beta readers, and then made a third draft based on their feedback. Then I started shopping the book around, seeing if I could get anyone interested.

I’m happy to say that one company did show interest. And after some back and forth of the terms, we came to an agreement, culminating today with my signing the contract. So with that said, I can now say, my novel The Pure World Comes will be published!

Specifically, the novel will be published by VitaleTek, a company that releases stories through its app Readict. Which, honestly, is kind of Victorian: novels were released through periodicals like newspapers or magazines before being collected in hardcover and paperback (I think the latter, like now, is for more commercial books). And apps like Readict can be the newspapers and magazines of today.*

Anyway, I’m super excited to have this novel come out. The Pure World Comes is a love letter to all I love about the Victorian era (and probably won’t be the last). That several people, from my beta readers to the folks at VitaleTek, thought so highly of my story and that it’s been accepted for publication only a year after being written (Rose took five) is a huge deal for me.

As of right now, we don’t have a release date. However, I can tell you that the latest draft of the novel has been sent to the company and I’m sure their editing department will be in touch soon so we can polish this novel up. I cannot wait to share this book, its protagonist Shirley Dobbins, and the strange going-ons at the Hunting House mansion, very soon.

Thanks to Ms. Keheaku and the team at VitaleTek for taking on this project; Patrick Freivald for introducing me to the company; to Ruth Ann Nordin, Tim Purvis, and Angela Misri for beta reading the book; and many more people who helped me get to this point. It could not have been done without you.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I have posts and videos to make on my other social media platforms, pizza and ice cream to eat, mead to drink, anime and movies to watch, monsters to summon, and so much more. Until next time, pleasant nightmares and God Bless Queen Victoria!

*As for whether The Pure World Comes will get a print edition, you’ll just have to wait and see.


Oh, one more thing, my Followers of Fear: there’s just over two weeks left to submit questions to the Ask Me Anything, or AMA, to celebrate my ten-year blogging anniversary. Send your question in an email to ramiungar@ramiungarthewriter.com by 11:59 PM on July 28th, 2021 and you’ll get entered for a prize. I look forward to reading your questions!

Also, if you’re looking for something to read until The Pure World Comes releases, you can check out any of my previous work below. People are still discovering my stories all the time, and apparently they’re enjoying them too (thank you for the review on Agoraphobia, Jennifer Patino). Who knows? You may find something that will give you one or two…pleasant nightmares.

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

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

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

Agoraphobia: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada

Mother of the King: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada

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

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

Rose Trivia

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

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

What the Readers Say

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

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

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

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

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

Emma, United States

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

Manakalita, Audible

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

Matthew Williams, author of The Formist Trilogy, Canada

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

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

Do You Wanna Check the Book Out?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’ve been cutting back on announcing finishing the first draft of every single story I finish a first draft of. Not all of them are good, after all, and not all of them will see publication. Even if they are good. But this one, I’m announcing. Why? Because, for one, it’s a pandemic story. So, you know, not related to anything we’re currently experiencing these days! But also because it has some personal significance to me (more on that in a bit).

Natural Predators takes place a few years after the current COVID-19 pandemic has ended. A new virus is spreading rapidly out of Canada and into the US, causing loss of control of patients’ bodies and voices. As campers at a camp in upstate New York grapple with what is becoming of their summer vacation, events occur that will put them at the forefront of a change greater than even COVID-19 had on the world.

So yeah, like I said. This is a pandemic story. But it was not one inspired by our current one, which I’m sure is going to make marketing this story so much harder than it would otherwise be. In fact, the basis for this story germinated (see what I did there?) back in my teens. You see, I went to a summer camp in New York, and during my last year there, we got hit by an epidemic. A twenty-four hour stomach bug that infiltrated the camp and the surrounding communities. I was actually the first in my year to get sick with it, and before I knew it (or the hell that was being unleashed on the community), I’d passed it onto everyone else.

Yeah, it wasn’t pleasant. And if we’d known what was starting that weekend, my counselors would have probably sent me straight to the infirmary, rather than having me stay in Shabbat services and try to get through the day. Oh well. Hindsight is 20/20, as they say. Just wished I hadn’t missed out on the afternoon party that my mom, who worked for the camp, was going to throw for me, my sister, and our respective cabins. I was a guest of honor and I couldn’t even be there!

But I’m digressing. Point is, I knew what an epidemic looked like well before COVID-19. And then, around 2015, I was watching a new episode of Family Guy because it was still funny back then. In that episode, Peter and his friends were discussing writing their own horror film. I was thinking of that episode and what the character Joe Swanson might write his horror film about. Given the character is disabled, I thought he would use personal experience and create a story based around losing control of his body.

From there, I thought a virus might be a good vehicle to show that fear of loss of control over the body. And then I remembered my past camp experiences, and from there the idea bloomed.

So, if that was too much information, let me sum it up: stomach virus at camp + Family Guy episode about horror films = Rami Ungar getting inspired to write a horror story about a pandemic.

Wrote a pandemic story in the middle of a pandemic, and yet it’s not inspired by the pandemic at all. How about that?

Anyway, I think the story has potential. There’s some body horror, a bit of a creature feature, and the familiar paranoia of learning a deadly disease is spreading around the world. There’s an anthology I hope to get it into, but first I’m going to get it critiqued by a beta reader. With any luck, the editors won’t let the pandemic part get in the way and find it an enjoyable read.

And in the meantime, I’m going to take a break to recharge this evening, then start work on a new story tomorrow (this one will be a ghost story). Until next time, my Followers of Fear, good night and pleasant nightmares!

Pour the drinks! Start the party music! Feed the dragon bats a little extra blood and meat with their dinner tonight! I’ve had two acceptances! That’s right, you read that correctly. Two. And I am so excited that the editors loved them enough to include them in upcoming publications, let alone that you will get to read them.

So, the first acceptance actually came last week, but I only just got permission to start screaming from the high heavens. A short story I wrote is being accepted by “The Jewish Book of Horror,” an anthology from the Denver Horror Collective coming out this holiday season in time for Hanukkah. That’s right, a book emphasizing horror from a Jewish slant. When I first heard of that, I knew I had to write something for it, which I did: a short story called “The Divorce from God.”

I’m adding to Jewish literature! It’s not typical Jewish literature, but I’m not complaining!

“The Divorce from God” is a story that was inspired by the New York divorce coercion gang. For those of you who haven’t heard, the New York divorce coercion gang was a group of ultra-Orthodox Jews who forced men into divorces. Yeah, even the Jews have our fair share of fanatics, and they do bad things sometimes. In this case, they meddled in divorces. In traditional Judaism, divorce has to be granted by the husband, and occasionally that’s held over the wife’s head to hurt her. Normally, non-violent means are sought to encourage the husband to grant a divorce, but in this case, the gang members went to violent means. It’s pretty sick and twisted stuff and I encourage you to read up on it if you’re curious.

Anyway, I took the case and put my own fictional spin on the story. After letting some beta readers give me some feedback, I made some edits and submitted it. And I’m happy to say it’ll end up in the anthology! Woo-hoo! I get to be part of a big contribution to Jewish literature while still being scary! I’m sure my parents and teachers and rabbis are proud of me.

Also, apologies that I didn’t write a blog post for this story like I usually do. The subject matter and the targeted anthology was so specific, I didn’t want to post about it only for it to maybe get rejected. But I’m telling you now, so it’s all good, right?

And today, I got some more good news! I wrote an essay recently on a character trope I call “the broken child.” What is that? Well, you’ll have to wait till August to find out. It’s going to be published in the August edition of House of Stitched magazine (don’t you just love that name?). They were looking for articles on the craft and process of horror writing, and I’d been turning over some article/essay ideas in my head, including an examination of the broken child. I wrote it and sent it in, keeping my fingers crossed. And today they sent me a contract. I signed and now I’m on cloud nine!

I mean, wouldn’t you be? Last year, I was only able to release one story. But two months ago, I was able to get an article published on Ginger Nuts of Horror and release a new scary story. And in just one week, I was able to get a short story and an article accepted as well! It’s very encouraging and makes me hopeful for what’s to come.

I’ve been writing up a storm lately. Glad to see it’s been worth it.

A big thanks to the Denver Horror Collective, who will be putting out “The Jewish Book of Horror,” for accepting “The Divorce from God.” And an equally big thank you to the team of Stitched Smile Publications, the publisher of House of Stitched magazine, for accepting “The Horror of the Broken Child.” I’m so excited to be working with both of you and I hope your readers enjoy my contributions as much as I hope you did.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I hope you’ll pick up a copy of the August issue of House of Stitched magazine and “The Jewish Book of Horror” once they’re released. I’m off to enjoy a walk in the nice weather. I’ll probably also have a beer or two tonight in celebration as well. And I’ll be working on my next short story as well. Gotta keep up the writing and submitting so I can get a few more stories out there.

Until next time, my Followers of Fear, stay safe, pleasant nightmares, and don’t approach my dragon bats! They may be cute, but they’re alpha predators for a reason.

Well, this was a great day. I got out of work early (long story, don’t ask), which allowed me to finish the third draft of The Pure World Comes around 5:30 PM. And that was great, because by coincidence I was going to meet some friends who had also had their vaccinations for dinner and drinks. So I had the opportunity to turn a good night out with friends into a celebration.

Of course, then I had to wait till I was good to drive before coming home. And then I had to take a shower and check my email and whatnot. Hence why I’m writing this so damn late. Sorry about that. But hey, sometimes that’s life.

So, if you’re not aware, The Pure World Comes is a Victorian Gothic novel I wrote last year revolving around a maid who goes to work for a man who could be charitably called a mad scientist. I did a second draft a few months ago and sent them off to some beta readers for feedback. After getting their feedback and finishing the latest draft of River of Wrath, I started on the third draft. And after only a week or so, the third draft is completed!

Now, this story has always been a lot of fun for me to work on. I’m a huge fan of the Victorian era of British history (see my reasons here), and this novel was a love letter to that era. But this draft was especially fun because I got to read my beta readers’ comments while I worked. They really enjoyed the story and had a lot of good suggestions to improve the story. It’s great hearing what people think of your story (which is why it’s so important to leave reviews after reading an author’s story, by the by). But getting such positive feedback while the story’s still being refined was especially nice and made me hopeful for the story’s future.

Speaking of which, what is the future of this story? Well, it’s late, so I’m not going to do anything further with it tonight. However, tomorrow I’m going to try to submit it. As I said when I finished River of Wrath, I usually start shopping novels after the third draft. And based on the feedback I got on the second draft and the improvements I’ve made, I think this draft has a good chance of finding a home pretty quickly.

As for my next writing project…tough to say. I’ve been mulling a few ideas for short stories, especially ones I could write for specific anthologies. On the other hand, I recently had an idea for another story set in Victorian England, and I at least want to develop it a bit more. Problem is, that story has a good chance of becoming a longer project, maybe another novel if I’m not careful (and I’m not always too careful about word length). So, I might have to mull it a few days.

Whatever I choose, so long as I’m having fun with it, it’ll be okay.

Well, that’s all for now. I’m heading to bed so I’m not a wreck at work tomorrow. Until next time, good night, pleasant nightmares, and please consider getting vaccinated if you’re able to. It’ll protect your health, the health of others, and maybe allow us to move out of this insanity of a pandemic sooner.

I only like one kind of cocktail, but I haven’t mixed it in years. Recently, I found all the ingredients at the grocery store and decided to pick them up. You mix vodka, sweet n’ sour mix, and blue curacao. I call it an Electrified Lemonade (though it may have another name I am unaware of). Why do I mention it? Because I mixed it this evening in celebration of finishing the third draft of River of Wrath. Woo-hoo!

So, if you’re unfamiliar with this novel, River of Wrath is a novel I wrote on-and-off between October 2017 and October 2018 (which is hilarious, because the main events of the novel take place during Halloween 1961). The novel follows a young couple who find themselves trapped in a small town in Mississippi when a river full of living, violent corpses floods the town. Turns out the river is actually the River Styx as described in Dante’s Inferno, the fifth circle of Hell and the punishment for the wrathful. Trapped in a church in the town, internal tensions rise as the town’s racial differences are brought to light. And believe me when I say, the danger within has an effect on the trouble within and vice versa.

So yeah, you can guess what sort of themes the novel encompasses. I started coming up with the story back in 2017 after reading the book The Blood of Emmett Till by Timothy Tyson, about the infamous murder of a young African-American boy from Chicago in the Mississippi Delta, and the trial of his murderers (spoiler alert, they got off and then admitted they murdered him). I had just learned about Dante’s Inferno and was thinking of where various people and groups in the book might have ended up in Hell according to Dante. That was the impetus for the novel, which originally I didn’t think would be more than twenty-thousand words. A year later, and it was over sixty-thousand words, and I was like, “I gotta stop turning short stories and novelettes into novels.”

Yeah, I have not kept that promise to myself at all.

The Fifth Circle of Hell, as illustrated by Stradanus.

Anywho, I usually try to shop my novels around after three drafts (the third draft of Rose was the one that was accepted for publication, after all). And since this is the third draft, I’ve already sent it off to a publisher. I’ll hopefully get an acceptance somewhere, but we’ll see what happens. It’s not perfect, but I’ve gotten a lot of kinks out of the book and I think it’s a good story. Should be enough to interest someone.

If it does get accepted, however, I’m going to ask for a sensitivity reader. Let’s face it, I’m white, and given the subject matter, I don’t want to accidentally cause offense.

Well, River of Wrath is off. What’s next for me? Well, tomorrow I’ll be getting my second COVID-19 shot, so I might not do anything, creative or otherwise, depending on whether or not I suffer any side effects. That being said, my next project will be the third draft of The Pure World Comes, my Victorian horror novel. After that, I’ll try submitting that for publication. And then…well, who knows? Maybe I’ll work on a new story, or I’ll be editing older stories. We’ll see what happens.

Well, that’s all for now. I’m off to bed, because I have a big day tomorrow. Until next time, goodnight and pleasant nightmares.

I can’t remember who first said that to me, or whether it was said to me in a tweet or a Zoom chat. I also can’t remember if I’ve been saying it to others who have been dealing with rejections (my memory can be like a sieve some days). Nevertheless, it’s been on my mind a lot lately, as I’ve had a few rejections lately, and I thought I would share it.

“If you’re getting rejections, then you’re probably doing something right.”

It’s true, you know. Yeah, nobody likes getting rejections. We would rather just have things come to us, including story acceptances. We don’t like to hear that these stories we’ve thrown our sweat, blood and tears into aren’t wanted or acceptable or good enough for the publication or publisher in question. Enough that you want to stop submitting.

Which, I guarantee, every author has gone through at least once.

However, you know what you could be doing? Not submitting at all, which would mean no chance to get accepted OR rejected. You’d be cutting yourself off from any chance to get that story out there. Sure, you’d be free from rejections, but what’s the chance someone would discover your stories another way and ensure that it reached a wide audience who might love it? Probably not very high.

So, keep submitting, because that ensures you’re getting your work out there. Even if you get rejections, consider it discovering just one place that isn’t right for your story. You just have to try the next place, and keep writing, polishing, submitting and hopefully someday you’ll get that publication.

That’s what I tell myself. And it works.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I just wanted to get this off my chest and share it with you. If you need me, I’m about sixty pages away from finishing the latest draft of River of Wrath and submitting it. Hopefully it won’t be rejected (though if it is, at least I know that publisher wasn’t the right place for the book).

And while I still have your attention, this is a reminder that ParaPsyCon 2021 is just over a month away. This is a convention of ghost hunters, purported mediums, and authors taking place at the historic Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, Ohio (filming location of The Shawshank Redemption). This year, it’ll be May 22nd-23rd, 2021 and the cost of admission is the same as entry to the prison, about $25. I’ll be among the vendors there, so I hope you’ll stop by if you’re able. You can find more information about the convention HERE.

Until next time, my Followers of Fear, pleasant nightmares!

I think this fits the theme of the post very well, don’t you? Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

In my last post, I mentioned that I would soon be tackling editing River of Wrath and The Pure World Comes, two novels that each have gone through some edits and which I would like to try submitting this year. As promised, I have started editing River of Wrath, which is about one of the nine circles of Hell appearing in a small town in 1960s Mississippi (you can guess what sort of themes are included with that description).

And so far, the biggest obstacle I’m dealing with is my narrator’s voice.

For a bit of background, my narrator, Audrey Falley, is writing down her experiences as she remembers them. She’s a character I thoroughly enjoy. She’s an Army wife in the 1960s, but she’s not demure like you would expect from that sort of character in that time period. She’s brash, street smart, she admits she drinks, swears, and has sex with her husband. In other words, she’s unladylike, and proud of it, and I tried to make that show in how she tells her story.

Which is challenging. In addition to all that above, Audrey is also not your typical narrator. By which I mean, this is her first time really telling a story, as her life hasn’t had many opportunities for her to practice creative writing. She also breaks the fourth wall a lot in a way Deadpool might approve, pointing out things about her word choice and how at certain times she sounds like she’s writing a romance novel.

And yet she’s very much aware what sort of story she’s telling.

And here I am, on the computer, trying to tell this story through this character’s unique perspective, while also balancing that perspective with the needs and tone of the story. Not only that, but I have to make the language used sound both like they were written by Audrey and by me, a writer who has a few published books and stories under his belt. And I have to ensure it reads like a horror story.

All told, it’s a bit of a juggling act. And I’m feeling the struggle. There are plenty of points where I’ve wondered to myself, “Does this sound good? Or does it sound totally amateur-ish?” It can affect how I look at the project at times.

That being said, there are moments where I look at the changes I’ve made and I’m like, “Yeah, I got this.” I had one of those moments when I was editing the scene the novel goes from period piece with strong romantic overtones to full-on horror story. Here’s the passage in the previous draft:

Before either of us could answer, there was a scream from the edge of the park. It was followed by several other screams, not just women, but men and children. Dogs barked, and birds flew into the air and away from the park entrance. Around the park, and in Little Angola as well, people stopped what they were doing, stood up if they were sitting down, and looked in the direction of the screams.

And then there’s the section from the current draft (asterisks are to prevent spoilers):

From the edge of the park came a woman’s scream.

Everyone, including Gordon and me, froze before turning in the direction of the scream, which was the same direction we’d come from. We could hear more people screaming, not just women, but men and children too. And that wasn’t all: dogs were barking, birds were flying in every direction, and everyone in the park, from the folks in ********, to the families at their picnic benches, to the children on the playsets, and to the couples in the flower garden, stiffened.

Later on, it occurred to me that we were all feeling the same thing. We weren’t just afraid. We were dreading whatever was causing those people to scream and making the animals go crazy. We dreaded it in our very bones.

Busy editing. Hopefully by the time I’m done, this novel will look a whole lot better and I’ll have a better idea if it’s ready to be submitted anywhere.

How was that? It’s not perfect, but it is better written than the previous version. Feels more like something you might read in a professionally-published horror novel. And that difference really made me feel like I could balance all those things I mentioned above. I don’t know if by the end of the draft, the novel will be ready to submit to publishers as I’d hoped, but if the new passage is anything to go by, I’ll at least get a bit closer.

Anyway, that’s where I’m at right now. I think, as the draft continues, I’ll hopefully not only get a better idea of where the story is in its development, but maybe even be able to go back to the beginning and do a better job of polishing up the story. We’ll see what the rest of the draft holds.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’ll check in again soon, though I’m not sure when or what I’ll be talking about. Until next time, pleasant nightmares!