Posts Tagged ‘entertainment’

About a year or two ago, this one title became kind of a sensation in one of Facebook groups. Everyone was talking about it, raving that it was the next best thing in indie horror. Combined with a striking cover and name, I couldn’t help but grow curious. Sadly, my TBR list is already a mile high, so I had trouble getting around to reading it. Thankfully, I get plenty of reading done thanks to audio books, so when I found out the audio book for this novel was finally released, I scooped it up for my October read.

So, after all that hype and fanfare, is Stolen Tongues worth the wait?

Set mostly in California and Colorado, Stolen Tongues follows a fictionalized version of the author himself, Felix Blackwell, as he and his fiancée Faye go up to her parents’ cabin in the mountains as a little engagement present. However, the lovers’ weekend is interrupted when they find a strange object hanging from the trees, and later that night start to hear odd voices coming from the surrounding woods. Soon, Faye starts to walk and talk in her sleep, and it becomes clear that something is influencing her in her dreams. And it will stop at nothing to have her.

So, the suspense throughout this novel is phenomenal. The prologue itself would make a terrifying short story on its own, and the early scenes, where we have no idea what sort of monster we’re dealing with or how it’s doing what it’s doing, are some of the tensest, most heart-pounding scenes I’ve ever had the pleasure to read. It’s also quite unsettling to see Faye undergoing changes due to the influence of the creature. Her personality warps at times, as do her memories, and you feel the narrator’s anguish and concern as she becomes someone he doesn’t recognize.

I also like the reverence and respect shown to Native American beliefs, both the beliefs themselves and indigenous people’s attitudes towards their beliefs and sharing them with outsiders. As the novel’s monster draws heavily from Native American culture, it’s refreshing to see so much respect. Often, horror that draws on Native American folklore and ideas doesn’t always include the very peoples from whom the folklore and ideas derive from, and when they do, not always in the most respectful manner, so it’s a welcome change to see said folklore, as well as Native characters, portrayed with such care.

Actually, the author includes at the end of the book an essay he wrote on writing Native American characters and horror based on their folklore, which I would read after you’re done with the novel.

Sadly, the novel isn’t perfect. After the reveal of what the creature is, some of the tension and mystery is sacrificed. The author does try to keep things creepy, especially after the narrator has a close-up encounter with the monster, but it’s not always successful. I also thought the ending was rushed and a letdown, with far too much telling, not enough showing, and not a finale epic or scary enough to match the rest of the novel.

I know me griping about showing vs. telling when I only just got better at that this year is rich, but it’s still a legitimate problem.

Overall, while it’s not the terrifying ride of suspense and creepy atmosphere that I was led to believe I was going to get, Stolen Tongues by Felix Blackwell is still a decent and chilling novel. Those sections where the tensions really works make it worth the read all on its own. On a scale of 1 to 5, I’m going to give it a straight 4. If you’re still looking for something spooky to read this October, this book might be a good choice. I’m certainly glad I finally got around to reading it.

I did warn you this post was coming, didn’t I?

As many of you are aware at this point, I’m the co-founder of an independent publishing press, Cracked Skull Press, and we released our first anthology, That Which Cannot Be Undone, exactly two weeks ago today. The anthology is written entirely by Ohio authors, every story is set in Ohio, and the theme of the anthology is “that which cannot be undone.” This anthology is the result of a successful Kickstarter campaign, as well as lots of tears, sweat, discussion, blood, and so much more, and I’m so proud that I got to be part of its creation.

I’m also quite proud to have one of my own stories, “Is Anyone There?”, in the anthology. It’s about a ghost at the Ohio State Reformatory, one of my favorite places on Earth, and I consider it some of my best work.

Anyway, in the two weeks since the book was released, we at Cracked Skull Press have sent out copies of the anthology to the backers who supported us and have sold plenty of copies through Amazon. The result is that we’ve been seeing a lot of people reading the anthology, which is what we always hoped for! And not only that, but we’ve been getting plenty of reviews. At the time I’m writing this, we’ve received nine reviews on Amazon and eleven ratings with ten reviews on Amazon, for an average rating of 4.6 out of 5 and 4.18 out of 5, respectively.

Here are what people are saying:

This is a horror themed short story collection with a diverse range of topics. All stories have two things in common – they take place in Ohio and the underlying theme is that somehow something in the story is irreversible. As always with such collections I enjoyed some stories more than others, yet there weren’t any that I actually disliked. I think the editor did a good job putting this anthology together. Some stories had so cool concepts that I was “enraged” when they ended, wishing they were made into novels or movies. A few were based on myths or locations authors knew about…Some really imaginative and original stories in here that did manage to “wow” me and make it quite easy to recommend this anthology.

Aili Annuk, Amazon

This book brings together short stories that are very different from each other, all set in Ohio. Some are more horrific, others more melancholic, but they all have something original and appealing. Whether they are about ghosts, teeth, PTSD, or murder, they all have a dark and intriguing atmosphere that makes you want to keep reading. A perfect read for a cozy autumn evening.

Aiden Messer, Goodreads

What a great idea for a horror anthology. These eighteen stories, all set in Ohio, weave different aspects of the state into their terrifying narratives. From the cities of Cleveland and Columbus, to an old prison, a drowned town, an abandoned winery, and many other natural and notable locations, these stories place Ohio front and centre on the map of horror landscapes.

Iseult Murphy, author of All of Me, Amazon

High praise, indeed. And if things continue in this vein, we’ll only be getting more.

Anyway, if you would like to support our little venture and get some good scary reading in before Halloween, I’ll leave links to the anthology below. You can check it out, read the reviews, and then decide whether or not you’d like to read That Which Cannot Be Undone yourself. And if you end up reading it, I hope you’ll leave us a review. It lets us know what you think and helps other readers decide whether or not to read the book.

Anyway, that’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I hope you’re having a wonderful and spooky October. Until next time, good night, pleasant nightmares, and 13 days till Halloween! Who has sweets and scary movies ready?

That Which Cannot Be Undone: Amazon, Goodreads

You know the drill: I released something, so I have to do a post about it the day of, one week after, two weeks after, one month after, two months after, three months after, six months after, one year after, and then every year on the release anniversary. Hopefully you don’t find that too annoying.

So, as you know, last week the press I’m part of, Cracked Skull Press, released That Which Cannot Be Undone, an anthology of horror stories written by Ohio horror authors, set in Ohio, and revolving around the theme “that which cannot be undone.” This includes my spooky ghost story “Is Anyone There?,” which takes place at the Ohio State Reformatory and is inspired by something that happened to me at the prison a few years ago.

(I also had a short story, “Disillusionment and Trauma Sometimes Go Hand-in-Hand,” published in Volume 14 of the Ink Stains Anthology series on the same day, and you can get a copy for that here. However, since I had a bigger hand in the creation and release of TWCBU, this post focuses on that.)

As you know, getting this anthology created started over a year ago with just a dream and some talk among my fellow Ohio writers and friends. And a year, a Kickstarter campaign, and a whole lot of work later, the book is out, and we at Cracked Skull Press are focused on making sure that the book’s release isn’t the last you hear of it. Rather, we’re focusing on making sure that this dream goes on, and leads to all sorts of wonderful things. That TWCBU becomes an anthology all horror fans want on their bookshelves!

And from the looks of it, we’re making good progress on doing just that. It’s only been a week, but at the time I’m writing this, TWCBU has amassed four reviews on Amazon and five on Goodreads for an average score of 4.7 out of 5 and 4.40 out of 5, respectively. Here are what people are saying:

What a great idea for a horror anthology. These eighteen stories, all set in Ohio, weave different aspects of the state into their terrifying narratives. From the cities of Cleveland and Columbus, to an old prison, a drowned town, an abandoned winery, and many other natural and notable locations, these stories place Ohio front and centre on the map of horror landscapes.

Iseult Murphy, author of All of Me, Goodreads

When I was in 5th grade I discovered horror fiction, and I’ve been a fan ever since (almost 40 years), and I’ve always had an affliction for short story horror fiction collections. Especially the kind that makes a 12 year old think its better to ‘hold it’ than make a break for the bathroom in the middle of the night – the risk of putting a foot on the floor at 3am is too great.

This is a (creepy) collection of short stories, all with ties to Ohio where I now reside, although many references will be well known outside the area.

Its any easy read, as most short story collections are, with a variety of writing styles, so each story feels fresh. Some creepier than others, but all entertaining by their own merit. As the days are getting shorter and the weather colder, this makes for a perfect bed time snack before turning out the light (be sure use the restroom first).

Wallflower9193, Amazon

So glad I had this creepy captivating horror anthology to read during the short breaks between bands at a huge metal/rock festival over the last four days.

This anthology written by multiple authors had stories ranging from ghosts to murder to horrific creatures. This dark and chilling collection was a joy to read.

Gillian Casso Speiche, Amazon

And these are just a few of the reviews we’ve received! Imagine, as the backers get their copies and more people buy copies, what they’re going to say about the anthology! I’m getting chills just thinking about it. Or is that the legion of undead that have escaped my washing machine freezing up my condo?

Anyway, this is a great anthology that will hopefully continue to receive notice and praise, and I’m doing all I can to ensure that that happens. So, if you would like to check out the anthology, I’ll include the links for both Amazon and Goodreads below. And if you do read the anthology, I ask that you leave a review somewhere. Amazon, Goodreads, BookTube, BookTok, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, whatever! Just let us know what you think!. Reviews not only help us know what you’re thinking, but give readers an idea of what they’re about to get into, so it doubly helps us out!

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’ll be back soon, I’m sure. In the meantime, I’ll be at the Licking County Local Author Fair with Cracked Skull Press on Saturday, October 15th, 2022 from 10:30 AM – 2 PM. If you’re in Newark, Ohio this weekend, stop by the Downtown Library and say hi. You may even get a signed book from it all.

Until next time, good night, pleasant nightmares, and 20 days till Halloween. Have you ingested pumpkin spice flavor yet? If not, better get to it!

That Which Cannot Be Undone: Amazon, Goodreads

Sad to say it, Followers of Fear, but I didn’t make the cut for the next round in the contest. I know, I know. You all kept casting your votes and supporting me, but in the end, even though it was close, it just wasn’t enough.

Still though, it’s not the worse thing that could happen.

So, if you’re unaware, I’ve been participating in this contest called the Face of Horror. If I had won, I would have gotten a walk-on role in an indie horror film and a photo spread with Kane Hodder in Rue Morgue magazine, among other things. Contestants were divided into groups and to get through each round, had to occupy a certain number in their group’s rankings. To get higher numbers, people had to vote for each contestant using a once-daily vote or by buying extra votes (portion of proceeds going to pediatric cancer research).

And as you can tell from the title of this post and the preceding paragraphs, with this latest round, I didn’t make the cut.

But hey, it’s not all bad, is it? I got really far in this contest, and I learned just how much my Followers of Fear support me in my endeavors. That means a lot to me. Hell, you guys kept coming back to the blog posts featuring the link to my voting page, which made September 2022 my best month of blogging in terms of views! I can’t tell you how much that helped me out in other areas as well, but it did. So even if I didn’t get to meet Kane Hodder, act in a movie, or any of the other prizes, I still feel I won.

And I didn’t expect to win anyway, so not feeling that upset or disappointed about it.

So what’s next for me? Well, I’ll still follow the contest. I have one or two friends still competing, so I think I’ll support them for as long as they’re still in the running. And I’ll be working on my stories and attending events and trying to make it as a writer. And I guess I’ll just keep going on about my life, same as always.

Again, thank you for supporting me, my Followers of Fear. I really appreciate it. I hope I can pay you back by creating and publishing amazing stories that you’ll be eager to read once they’re available. I mean, I already got some out there that people apparently love and which you should totally read for the Halloween season, but why stop there? I want to write more and put more out there.

Anyway, that’s all for now. Until next time, good night, pleasant nightmares, and only 25 days till Halloween. If you’re not preparing, then congratulations: your least favorite band is going to come to your place, tie you up, and give you a private concert. Enjoy the music you find terrible!

What do I even say about this? We’ve been discussing and planning this anthology since I was in a one-bedroom apartment, and then plans really got going when I was in a two-bedroom. Then there was a campaign, and things really started to happen, and then we made our funding goal, and then plans started to become concrete, and stories started to be submitted, and a cover was made, and…well, what do you say?

Well, probably not “let’s drink tonight like there’s no tomorrow!” Because there is a tomorrow, and it’s Yom Kippur, and I’m not going to drink and celebrate right before the holiest day in the Jewish calendar. Especially when I have to fast.

Maybe this weekend.

But seriously, this is such a huge and momentous occasion. Since we Ohio horror writers formed our own chapter of the Horror Writers Association, we’ve talked about putting out an anthology that will show just how terrible and terrifying our chapter can be. However, it only became more than talk during the pandemic. And during the pandemic, there were so many moments when it could have just dissolved and nothing would have gone forward. Somehow, we managed to overcome all that, form a publishing company, have a Kickstarter campaign, and put out this book.

And what a book it is! An anthology of Ohio horror writers writing stories set in Ohio and revolving around the theme “that which cannot be undone.” Featuring stories from Gary Braunbeck, Lucy Snyder, Gwendolyn Kriste, Megan Hart, Tim Waggoner, Kealan Patrick Burke, Tim McWhorter, Ray Pantle, David Day, Randall Drum, Matt Betts, Patricia Lillie, J. Thorn, Steven Saus, Marvin Brown, Weston Kincade, and…this one weird guy with a funny name. Rami Ungar. Anyone heard of him? He seems totally unknown to me.

Weird unknowns aside, That Which Cannot Be Undone is an amazing anthology, and there are so many people I would like to thank for helping us release us. To all the writers who submitted work to this anthology, thank you. You’re shining a spooky spotlight on our state and I can’t wait to see what people say about your stories. My fellow writers/co-founders of Cracked Skull Press, David Day, Ray Pantle and Randall Drum. You guys are great and are definitely getting cards in the mail this Halloween. Jess Landry, our tireless editor, thank you for helping us get these stories up to snuff. Greg Chapman, thank you for your awesome cover. We hope it leads to many more commissions for you. And to the many backers who funded this project, whether you be Followers of Fear or not, we can’t thank you enough. This project wouldn’t have happened without you, so thank you so much for supporting our dreams and making this anthology more than just talk and crazy ideas.

If you’re curious to read That Which Cannot Be Undone, I’ll include the link below. I can confirm that both the paperback and ebook are available now, so no problems there. And if you read TWCBU, be sure to leave a review online. Anthologies need reviews as much as they need sales to reach readers, so if you like what you’ve read, please let us know what you think and spread the word around.

Anyway, that’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’m looking forward to hearing what you all say about the book, as well as getting my own copy. Until next time, good night, pleasant nightmares, and only 27 days till Halloween. Please wait to start massacring your enemies until at least three days to Halloween. Otherwise, you’ll mess up the holiday mojo, and we can’t have that, can we?

That Which Cannot Be Undone — Amazon

One of the best ways to get into the Halloween spirit is to actually become a spirit. But if that’s not your jam, you can always read some scary fiction. And today, a story I didn’t think I could find a home for has been released in an awesome horror anthology!

The Ink Stains Dark Fiction Literary Anthology is an annual anthology of horror stories from a variety of authors looking to scare you silly. The publisher was on hiatus for a while as the COVID-19 pandemic raged, but it’s come back this year with a vengeance and with Volume 14. And speaking of vengeance, I have a story in the anthology that I’m quite proud of and that I didn’t think I could find a good home for.

“Disillusionment and Trauma Sometimes Go Hand-in-Hand,” AKA the dragon bat story, follows a young girl who gets wrapped up in a revenge plot invoking supernatural entities. Those entities are, you guessed it, giant bats known as dragon bats. The fact that this story even exists is amazing, because I just made a joke on social media once about releasing monsters called dragon bats, and my friend/fellow writer Iseult Murphy made some fan art of the creatures. This led me to want to write a story around them, and I combined them with an idea for how certain body parts can be used for occult rituals. The result was a story that I liked, but that I had difficulty finding a home for. Several times, I thought it might be impossible to find a home for the story.

Lo and behold, after about a year of submitting it around, Dark Alley Press bought the story for the anthology, and now it’s out today. Which just goes to show if you keep trying and believe in the story enough, you can find a home for it.

Anyway, I hope you’ll check out this story now that it’s released. Currently, Ink Stains vol. 14 is only available in paperback, but I’m sure an ebook edition will be available soon. Either way, there are a lot of great stories in this anthology besides my own, so I hope you’ll take advantage of spooky season to get a copy. And if you end up reading the anthology, be sure to post a review online. Anthologies often only survive this harsh book market by the reviews readers leave, so you’re helping the anthology, its publisher and the authors within every time you leave a review online.

Anyway, I’ll be sure to leave a link below. Enjoy, my Followers of Fear, and happy reading.

Ink Stains: A Dark Fiction Literary Anthology volume 14 — Amazon


One more thing, my Followers of Fear: there’s a few days left of The Face of Horror contest’s Nightmare Round, and I’m currently at 8th place in my group. I need to be in at least fifth place by the time the round ends, so I need you to continue voting for me every day. With your help, I could survive the round and get a bit closer to the grand prize. Thanks again for your help on this. I appreciate it.

The Face of Horror — Rami Ungar

Well, I have a reading to prepare for. I’ll check in tomorrow when another anthology containing one of my stories releases. Until then, my Followers of Fear, good night, pleasant nightmares, and only 28 days till Halloween! Better get the decorations up, or the people living in your eyeballs will have something to say about it!

Well, we did it, my Followers of Fear. Somehow, by the skin of my teeth, I’ve made it through the Conjure Round and into the fifth round of the Face of Horror contest, the Nightmare Round!

If you’re just joining us, let me do a quick recap: I’m participating in a contest called the Face of Horror. The winner of this contest will get a small walk-on role in an indie horror movie and a photo spread with Kane freaking Hodder in Rue Morgue magazine, among other things. To get through each round, competitors must get a certain number of votes and stay ranked in their competition groups. For the Conjure Round, I had to be in the Top 10 out of 15.

This past week, my score varied from 6th to 13th, but settled today on 10th in the lineup, allowing me to get into the Nightmare Round.

Now, this is where things could get really dicey for me. For this round, I need to be in the Top 5 to survive, and for that, I need you to continue voting. You can cast a free daily vote, or buy votes (portion of proceeds go to fund pediatric cancer research), through October 6th. If I’m in the Top 5, I get to stay on for the Sacrificial Round. If not…well, I had fun and got plenty of prizes along the way, so I’m not complaining too much.

In any case, I have faith in you, my Followers of Fear. You kept me going far longer than I thought possible, so if you continue to help me, I think I have a good chance of getting into the Top 5. So from now until October 6th, keep casting your votes and helping me along so that I might become the Face of Horror!

Until next time, my Followers of Fear, good night, pleasant nightmares, and 32 days till Halloween! Better keep the hellhounds at bay.

The Face of Horror — Rami Ungar

So, I did not expect to be writing this post today. But so many things are happening that I need to get out a quick post about them all. So, without further ado, here are some updates and announcements about various projects, events, and other stuff that you might want to know about.

THAT WHICH CANNOT BE UNDONE

So, most of you are aware by now that I formed a publishing company with some of my Ohio horror writer friends so we could publish an anthology bringing an attention to Ohio horror and Ohio horror writers. That anthology, That Which Cannot Be Undone, was supposed to be released in less than two weeks on October 11th, 2022.

That’s no longer the case. Instead, the anthology will be released on October 4th, 2022, six days from now and a full week early! That’s right, this anthology will be coming out earlier than expected, which means you all get to read it that much sooner. I guess that’s what happens when things go smoothly and you end up being ready to release much sooner than expected.

Anyway, the ebook is already available to preorder, and the paperback will be available on release day Tuesday. You can use the link below to order a copy in the format of your choice. And don’t worry, those of you who got signed copies and whatnot from pledging during the Kickstarter campaign will get what you pledged. We’re working hard to make sure of that.

Can’t wait to hear what you think of the book. I can promise you, this anthology is going to be a scream.

That Which Cannot Be Undone: Amazon

INK STAINS DARK FICTION ANTHOLOGY

Also releasing October 4th is the 14th volume of the Ink Stains Literary Horror Anthology. As you are probably aware, this anthology contains my story “Disillusionment and Trauma Sometimes Go Hand-in-Hand,” AKA the dragon bat story. This is despite Hurricane Ian battering Florida, where the anthology’s publisher’s parent company is located. You just can’t stop good literature, can you?

Anyway, links aren’t available for that one yet, but as soon as they are, I’ll be sure to post them. And in the meantime, you can marvel over this awesome book cover. Now, this might just be my opinion, but I think the cover depicts America in a few years if we don’t get our asses together. In other words, it’s a prophecy of the future.

2022 EVENTS

So, there’s been another change in the events I’ll be attending during the last three months of 2022. And while it’s unlikely any of you will be in the area, I’m letting you all know in case you can somehow make it out. You know I love meeting my Followers of Fear in person when I can. When they’re not creepy stalkers, of course. *cough* Reginald! *cough*

Just kidding. There are no stalkers among you guys, let alone one named Reginald. At least I don’t think there are.

So, first off, the Bexley Public Library will be hosting A Night of Horror again on Monday, October 3rd, 2022 from 7 PM – 8 PM. Myself, as well as my fellow writers Anton Cancre and Sarah Hans, will be doing readings of our work and selling copies of our books to the people there. And, of course, we’ll be in costume. Stop by the library in Bexley, Ohio if you can for a spooky good time with some fellow horror enthusiasts.

Next, I’ll be at the Licking County Library on Saturday, October 15th for their Local Author Fair. If you’re looking for an opportunity to support Ohio authors of all kinds, including Ohio horror authors, this would be the place to do it. Be sure to stop by the Downtown Library in Newark, Ohio from 10:30 AM – 2 PM and see if I’m wearing my Halloween costume or some other wacky get-up. Hey, if it gets you interested in what I’m selling, then why not?

And finally, it looks like I’ll be wrapping up the year at the Columbus Witches’ Ball at the Greater Columbus Convention Center on Saturday, November 5th from 6 PM – 11 PM. This is a huge event I heard about just a few months ago and I was extremely lucky to be able to get a spot. I’ll be selling books and reading Tarot cards there, so if you can make it, please stop by and say hi.

If anything changes, I’ll let you know. Though from the look of it, my schedule looks set through the end of the year. In which case, the next time you get an event update will be 2023. And trust me, there’s stuff planned for then.

THE FACE OF HORROR

As you know, Followers of Fear, I’m participating in the Face of Horror contest and am competing to win a walk-on role in an indie horror film and a photo shoot with Kane Hodder, among other things. The third round ends tomorrow night at 11 PM EST, and if I manage to stay in the Top 10 of my group, I’ll move onto the fourth round. For that to happen, I need you all to keep voting for me and keeping me high in the rankings. You can vote using the link below.

And thanks to all of you who have been continually voting for me. At one point this week, you even had me at 6th place! I was really touched by that and by your dedication to helping me win this thing. It means a lot to me.

THE FACE OF HORROR — RAMI UNGAR

OTHER NEWS

  • I’m back at work on my mummy novel Crawler (title pending). I’m currently going over the four chapters I’ve already written, and then I’ll start on the fifth. I’ll still take breaks every now and then to work on shorter stories, but Crawler has my attention for the time being.
  • Still working on editing Hannah and Other Stories. Yeah, I know, it’s been nearly a year since it was accepted for publication, but these things take time and you can’t rush a good product. But trust me, when this new collection is done, it’s going to be awesome! From haunted schools to budding serial killers to carnivorous horses, there’s plenty there for you to enjoy, so keep it in the back of your mind and be patient until its ready.
  • I’m shutting down this blog to start a new one where I investigate various suspicious deaths, supposedly cursed objects, and track down the only known score and dance notation of a ballet said to have summoned a demon at its only performance.

Kidding on that last one. But my God, whenever I threaten to change this blog or get rid of it, at least one person reading this gets scared that I’m serious. And isn’t scaring his readers what a horror writer does?

Anyway, that’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’m heading to bed now. But I look forward to sharing with you all the exciting stuff that’s bound to come up in the coming days, weeks and months. Until next time, good night, pleasant nightmares, and only 33 days till Halloween! I’m looking forward to putting out my decorations very, very soon.

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.

The post that got me thinking about this subject.

So, if you weren’t aware, Rosh Hashanah, or the Jewish New Year, starts tonight. This is the beginning of the High Holidays, or the most important holidays in the Jewish calendar, and there’s a couple of traditions around this time of year that religious Jews practice. A lot of those traditions have to do with forgiveness. Specifically, we go out of our way to forgive those who might have upset us in the past, ask for forgiveness ourselves, and maybe even gain God’s forgiveness for our weaknesses. Forgiving ourselves is also on the menu, but that’s something that’s up to us and can require more work than just what can be accomplished around a holiday.

I do these traditions myself, and about a week ago, I posted on my social media, asking for forgiveness and forgiving everyone else as well. However, I added as a sort of postscript that I might still add someone who’s seriously crossed a line with me to one of my stories, which would mean their portrayals would not be flattering, and that their deaths would probably be horrifying. As I said in the post, “Hey, every action has an equal and opposite reaction. That’s life. Get used to it.”

This and other events got me thinking, and I realized that horror is not a genre where forgiveness is front and center a lot. In fact, it’s a genre where anger and vengeance is often a major factor! Think about it: most of the killers in slasher movies are motivated by rage and revenge. In a lot of ghost stories, the spirits are stuck on this mortal plane because they have some sort of baggage keeping them trapped here and they’re lashing out because of that baggage (this is especially true in Japanese horror movies like Ringu and Ju-On: The Grudge). Carrie White in Carrie gets revenge on all her tormentors by setting the prom, the high school, and most of the town on fire, followed by killing her biggest bully and her mother, and Leland Gaunt in Needful Things takes advantage of people’s fears, grudges and relationships to cause all sorts of chaos.

In all of these stories and many others, forgiving anyone is almost nowhere to be seen. In fact, in many cases, even after the reason for the anger is gone, the anger and need for vengeance continues on. Perhaps Needful Things has some moments of self-forgiveness, where characters like Alan Pangborn, Polly Chalmers, and Norris Ridgewick realize they’ve been duped and/or done horrible things and are able to start on the path to forgiveness and redemption, but it’s not a large part of the story. In fact, those moments are overshadowed by the rest of the events of the story and the need to stop Gaunt.

Snake is not a novel I would associate with forgiveness.

The lack of forgiveness extends to my own work as well. And quite often, too. Snake is a novel about a serial killer motivated by both love and revenge against an organized crime family. “Disillusionment and Trauma Sometimes Go Hand-in-Hand,” AKA the dragon bat story (releasing next month in the 14th volume of the Ink Stains horror anthology series, if you didn’t know), is driven by several characters’ needs for revenge and being unable to let go of the past (whether they are right or wrong in doing so, I’ll let you decide). And one or two stories I’m working on now may be motivated by characters’ need to release their anger on others, whether deserved or not.

Given all that, you might be wondering if any horror stories might include forgiveness, or if all of them are unforgiving. Actually, quite a few stories with religious themes include forgiveness. Swan Song by Robert MacCammon and Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chbosky, both of which deal with Christian Apocalypse scenarios and the Devil, feature scenes where the protagonists forgive others, including the Devil himself, who usually can’t take being forgiven for their evil by a mere human and run off to hide in their own misery. And in the 2010 movie Devil, forgiveness plays a huge part in the resolution of the story and in one of the leads being able to avoid being dragged down to Hell.

This is a movie where forgiveness and sin are major themes for the horror.

All of these stories feature the Devil, but there are likely other stories with religious themes where forgiveness features but the Devil doesn’t. And perhaps there are stories where forgiveness is a big part of the story without religious themes as well. In fact, Cujo by Stephen King ends with the Trentons patching up their marriage and forgiving each other after the death of their son. But, at least in my experience, forgiveness tends to stay in horror stories with strong religious themes. The rest of the time, it seems to be “let out your wrath upon all those who have wronged you!”

But is that necessarily a bad thing? Even for the religiously inclined among us (including Jews around the High Holidays)?

I don’t think so. Whether we are misfits because we like horror, or we are already misfits and find a home in horror, both we and our genre of choice have often been maligned by the majority of society. Obviously, this can build some anger in us misfits, as we do nothing wrong but be ourselves. Where better to channel that anger than into our genre, where people often get what’s coming to them? It’s honestly rather therapeutic.

That’s why, even if I forgive someone, I’ll often find some way to write them into a story. It’s a healthy way to get rid of any lingering resentments and build something creative and meaningful while I’m at it. In fact, one could say I’m symbolically or metaphorically purging myself of hate and finding forgiveness for those who’ve wronged me, which I’m sure any rabbi would approve of, especially around the High Holidays.

As to whether I’ll ever write a story where forgiveness is a main topic…I’ll never say never. But it might be a while before we see me write something like that. Forgive me if you were hoping for one!


That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. Sometimes I like getting my thoughts out like this, even if it leads to an essay-length blog post. In any case, I want to wish you all a Shana Tovah, or a Happy New Year. May we all be inscribed in the Book of Life and blessed with a sweet year.

Until next time, good night, pleasant nightmares, and 36 days till Halloween! Ask your doctor if sacrifices to the old gods is right for you!