Posts Tagged ‘Halloween’

The Wild Hunt, the major inspiration for this story.

Glad I got it done in March than maybe in June or July. The Great Editing, am I right? Keeps me so busy!

Anyway, as I said in a previous post, I took a break from all that editing so I could get some new stories written before all that editing drove me mad. Well, madder than usual. You know what I mean. The point is, I took a break, and this past Wednesday started on a new short horror story set on Christmas Eve. Yeah, I know I’m Jewish, but I can write a Christmas horror story like everyone else.

And no, this story, which I’m calling “The Hunting Party,” doesn’t involve Krampus or another evil Santa Claus variant. I love the character, but he’s already been done to the point publishers are starting to get tired of seeing him. Instead, I decided to base this story on the Wild Hunt. For those of you unfamiliar, the Wild Hunt is a mythical band or horde of ghostly riders that travel at night, flying through the air as they hunt whatever crosses their path. There are many variations of the Hunt throughout Europe and even beyond, and depending on where you are can be made up of different leaders, riders, spirits and reasons why they ride. It’s a fun motif to work with.

And some versions of the Wild Hunt, as well as some of their leaders, are said to be most powerful around the Christmas season. In fact, some versions are led by Odin, who himself is speculated to be an influence on the modern depiction of Santa Claus. You can see why it lends itself well to Christmas stories, including one written by me.

As for “The Hunting Party,” I’m going to start sending it out to a beta reader or two as soon as I can find one. It’s about 7,400 words long, so I hope neither their suggestions or my attempts to improve the story end in the story getting too much longer. Yeah, the publisher I hope to send it too allows stories up to ten-thousand words or more, but I’d feel more confident if this story didn’t get that long.

As for what’s next, I already know what story I’m going to work on next. It’s going to make you shudder in horror, it involves a common phobia, and takes place at Halloween. I do not write enough stories set at Halloween. The last one I did ended up a trunk novel. Hopefully this one finds a home.

For now though, I’m making a late dinner and watching a movie before hitting the hay. I have a crazy week ahead of me, so I’m going to need all the rest I can get. Wish me luck.

And until next time, my Followers of Fear, good night, pleasant nightmares, and Merry Christmas! May nothing bloodthirsty come down your chimney (or otherwise enter your home if you don’t have a chimney).

For some reason, you guys really liked it when I wrote a similar post last year, so I’m back to examine how 2022 was and what I’m hoping 2023 will be like. Or maybe you guys liked the graphics I used and am using again. But I like to think it’s the former rather than the latter.

Well, I don’t think anyone will argue that 2022 was a rollercoaster designed by someone who clearly didn’t mind putting us through the ringer. Among the lows, Russia invaded Ukraine; we lost numerous great people who helped shape many of our lives growing up and through adulthood; inflation and gas prices going through the roof; a maniac billionaire took over Twitter; and a housing crisis that continues to today. Among the highs, we got the darkest, grittiest and probably the best Batman adaptation ever; a third world war did not break out; the midterms were among the smoothest elections we’ve had in recent years (which might be saying something); and we got a stunning sequel to Black Panther that handled grief really well.

On a personal level, this year was just as much a rollercoaster as it was on a global/national/whatever level. That being said, the highs were pretty awesome. Among other things, I:

  • I bought and moved into my first home, a lovely condo with its own dishwasher, washer and dryer, and a garage. It’s a huge step up from my old apartment, made all the better that it’s quiet and getting way more bang for my buck. I love it here, I love being able to decorate the condo how I want, and I like having a lawn I can turn into a Halloween display every October (next year’s display is going to be even bigger and better).
  • I released The Pure World Comes in paperback and ebook in May, and had it professionally narrated for the audio book, which was released in August. That was a big deal for me!
  • I also had three stories and an article published, two of which I consider among some of my best work. I also wrote way more than I expected to, and even started a new novel that’s about a quarter of the way through right now. And this was probably my best year as an author, selling more books than I ever had before. Hell, I even got a nice grant in February, which was a big deal for me and helped me pay for a lot of author copies.
  • That Which Cannot Be Undone, the anthology of Ohio-based horror my friends and I came together to produce, was fully funded and released back in October. It has some amazing stories in it (I’ll let you decide if mine, “Is Anyone There,” is among the awesome ones), and has been racking up positive reviews left, right and center! And I have a feeling that more and more people are going to be discovering this anthology and loving it as time goes on, as well as spreading that love to their friends and families.
  • I was able to spend a lot of time with friends and family, some of whom I hadn’t seen since before the pandemic! Now that was something special.
  • And I’m still somewhat healthy, gainfully employed, have some savings, and able to pursue my dreams while living my life and occasionally doing a treat for myself/something impulsive.

That being said, not everything about 2022 was good. It was definitely an expensive year, inflation notwithstanding. Moving into my home, as well as all the money I spent on DIY home improvement projects and other necessities really put a drain on my finances. And as much I learned from writing, I also spent more than I thought I would, which was not ideal (I’m going to be way more frugal next year). And the whole moving process was a strain mentally, with every mishap really bringing down my mood and making me want to tear my hair out. And while in the end, all that stuff worked out, it was still a drag to go through.

There were other things, as well, like work. Work was extremely difficult this year. There are a number of reasons for that, none of which I’m going to go into. However, it was a lot of reasons, and they were problems throughout the year, so that made my life difficult and made me want to break out the beer and wine or the sweets more often than was probably healthy (don’t worry, for the most part, I held off). And there were other things that just made me want to scream and shout and tear my hair out.

Yeah, when this year was good, it was good, but when it was rough, it was perfectly shitty. Which is why I rate 2022 a “Meh.” Not as bad as the hell that 2020 was, but definitely could have been better.

Still, I try to focus on the positive stuff, so let’s do that. And next up is 2023. And there’s already a lot to look forward to this coming year. On the writing side of things, I’ll be finishing up edits on and releasing my collection Hannah and Other Stories, as well as hopefully getting other stuff written, edited, and published. I’ll also be attending numerous conventions as both a vendor and just a regular attendee, way more than this past year. Hell, I’m even going to StokerCon, the biggest horror convention in the world, for the first time! I have no idea what to expect besides an awards show, but I’m looking forward to all of it.

Not only that, but I also turn thirty this year. Yeah, the big 3-0, so I’m going to make sure my birthday celebration is as big as that deserves to be. I already have a few things planned out, but I’m looking forward to adding some more to make the celebration amazing and memorable. Hey, might as well go big or go home, right?

And I’m just looking forward to growing in my new home (which, at this time last year, I did not expect I would even have) and seeing what the new year will bring. New friendships, new stories, new adventures. I look forward to it all and hope that it’s all wonderful and crazy and just a blast. It probably won’t be, but it can’t hurt to dream and hope and pray.

How was your year, my Followers of Fear? What are you looking forward to in 2023? Let’s discuss in the comments below.

So glad I got to have a Halloween display this year. I can’t wait to see what I do next year.

One more thing before the blog post ends, Followers of Fear. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but we’re in the holiday season. And if you’re looking for a new horror story to read, or know a horror fan who wants to read something other than Stephen King, why not get yourself or them a book by yours truly? As you know, I have a number of stories available, with another book on the way, and they make great gifts for horror readers of all stripes. Not to mention, you’d be giving me a gift by helping me to advance my career and get my stories in more readers’ hands.

With that in mind, I’ll leave links down below, including for That Which Cannot Be Undone, in case you want to check out the books. And if you get one and like what you read, be sure to leave a review somewhere so I know what you thought of it!

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. Until next time, good night, pleasant nightmares, and happy Krampusnacht (yes, that’s tonight. Behave yourself and be very careful if you go outdoors for any reason).

That Which Cannot Be Undone: Amazon

The Pure World Comes: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, Kobo, Goodreads, Audible, Chirp, BingeBooks, LIbro.Fm, Storytel

Rose: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada, Audible, B&N

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

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

I wanted to post something before Halloween, but there wasn’t any one particular topic I was passionate enough to write an entire blog post about. So instead, I thought I’d do an update post, because there’s a lot going on right now and you should know about it. How much is going on? Well, let’s take a look and find out.

Crawler and Toyland

So, for my mummy novel with the tentative name of Crawler, I’m making steady progress in it. I’m currently writing Chapter Seven and think I could get to Chapter Eight by the end of the week. Hell, I might finish it by the end of the week, if life is kind! (It’s usually not, but one can hope, right?). After that, I’ll take another break to work on shorter works (more on that below), and then get straight to Chapters 9-12. It may take longer than usual, but I will get this novel done eventually.

As for Toyland, I hope to do another draft of it before sending it out to publishers. I feel that this Gothic novel of a boarding school under attack by a ghost obsessed with a children’s novel has a lot of potential and I want people to read it. However, I want to get Hannah and Other Stories out of the way before I tackle that novel again (there’s a good reason why Hannah needs to be done first, but I can’t tell you that just yet). So hope Hannah gets released soon.

Hannah and Other Stories

Speaking of Hannah, BSC Publishing and I are looking to get that out sometime in 2023. Currently, the publisher is starting its winter vacation a month early in November rather than December, so I’m getting a little break from Hannah to work on more of my other projects. However, once we hit January, it’ll be a furious pace to wrap up the edits on the book and get it ready for publication. I can’t wait to share with you this terrifying collection of short stories featuring ghosts, budding serial killers, and meat-eating horses, among other things, so keep an eye out for news after the new year.

Other Shorter Works

As many of you know, I have one more short story, “The Dedication of the High Priestess,” scheduled to come out before the end of the year. Literally: Tales to Terrify, the podcast that will be reading the story aloud on their show, said it will come out before the end of the year. And with 61 days left, there’s only so much year left, so I should be getting news on that any day now. When I get that news, I will let you know.

I will also, of course, let you know the moment I hear of any other stories of mine getting published.

In the meantime, I plan to do some writing and editing on some other stories over November and December, once I finish Chapter Eight of Crawler. For one thing, I plan to finally edit They Sleep Within the Rock, the novella I wrote last winter where I terrorize neo-Nazis. I have no idea why I put it off for so long, but I have and I want to give it some edits so I can maybe find it a home. I also want to write some more novelettes and novellas that I’ve been feeling passionate about working on for some time. A lot of these stories center around common themes, so I think I would not only enjoy writing them, but maybe putting them into a collection.

I may also write a short story involving bugs, but I’m not sure if I want to. Yeah, there’s an anthology I could submit it to, but I prefer to write stories that I feel I would enjoy writing rather than what I think would get accepted or make some money for me. We’ll see how I feel after I finish those chapters of Crawler.

Anything Else?

Quite a bit, actually. Let’s talk about it.

  • Events: This coming Saturday, I’ll be operating a booth at the Columbus Witches’ Ball. This is an awesome event featuring plenty of paranormal enthusiasts, psychics and mediums, authors, and so much more. Plus, plenty of dancing and ritual (or so I’m told). I’ll be selling books and doing Tarot readings there, so I hope you can stop by. The event is November 5th, 2022 from 6 PM – 11 PM at the Greater Columbus Convention Center. I’m not sure you can get tickets at the door, but I know you can buy them from Eventbrite by following this link.
    In addition, I’m already signed up for events in 2023! I’ll be making reappearances at Hidden Marietta Paranormal Expo (which will be in May this year and in a bigger venue) and at ParaPsyCon. I’ve also put down a deposit for another booth at Mystics & Marvels and am waiting for confirmation on a few other events, so I’ll keep you posted as those come up.
    And, of course, I’ll be at StokerCon in Pennsylvania in June, so if any of you are planning to be there, I really hope I get to see you and give you a great big hug (if you feel comfortable with it).
  • I saw Dracula the ballet yesterday. As you probably know by now, I’m a huge ballet fan, and I’ve long held that ballet can be a great venue to tell horror stories. I got to see that in action yesterday when my local company BalletMet performed Dracula, which was as amazing and as horrifying as I could have hoped. It was scary, really delved into the themes of Victorian terror regarding sexuality and anything considered aberrant through its choreography, and even managed to surprise me at times, especially with the conclusion. If I ever get a chance to see it again, I will.
    And, of course, if there are any other horror ballets, I would love to see those too. Hell, I have a few ideas for ballets that are both horror and otherwise, so if any companies would like to collaborate, email me. Let’s work together! I’m easy to get along with, and I don’t cost an arm and a leg, so why not?
  • New YouTube video. I’m going to try to post a new video to YouTube tomorrow before my Halloween festivities really get underway (having a friend over for pizza, drinks and scary movies. I can’t wait!). If I can’t, I’ll get it out as soon as possible. In the meantime, please check out and consider subscribing to my YouTube channel while you wait. You can also check out my other social media by clicking on the widgets on the right.
So looking forward to putting this bad boy out on the stoop tomorrow.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. As usual with these sorts of posts, I’ll post links to my published works down below in case you want to support me that way or if you’re just looking for something spooky to read. Until next time, good night, pleasant nightmares, and one day till Halloween! Get ready to hop around a bonfire in costume with terrifying creatures from the other side!

The Pure World Comes: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, Kobo, Goodreads, Audible, Chirp, BingeBooks, LIbro.Fm, Storytel

Rose: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada, Audible, B&N

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

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

What are some of the first things you think of when it comes to Stephen King’s IT? Is it Georgie being dragged down the drain by Pennywise the clown? The fortune cookies filled with eyeballs and mutated bugs? The final battle with Pennywise in his lair? That one scene that dare not be spoken?

I’m sure all these and more occur to you, because they’re significant plot points and they carry a whole lot of scares.* What you might not think about are the quieter moments in the story: the building of the dam in the Barrens, or Ben, Beverly and Richie going to see a movie together, or Bill going for a ride on his old bike Silver after not having seen it for over a quarter of a century. They’re the quieter moments of the story, the moments that allow you to get to know the characters better and see them about their daily lives. And they’re just as important as the scarier parts of the story.

I’ve been thinking of these moments more and more lately, because I just wrote an entire chapter for Crawler, my mummy novel-in-progress, that was a quiet moment. In it, two of the characters, one of whom is in mourning over a sudden loss, bond with each other over the course of a lazy afternoon. Nothing scary happens, no mentions of the horrors driving the plot take place, and there’s no ground laying or foreshadowing for future scares. It’s just a sweet, quiet scene where two characters form a relationship.

Honestly, I’m not used to writing those sorts of scenes. In shorter works, every word has to be necessary so the story can fit within a word count. There’s no room for quiet scenes showing the creation or deepening of bonds, getting to know a character better, or seeing them grow. You need that room to create a short story that packs a punch, especially for horror stories. And with my novels, every chapter and scene was necessary to the plot in some way, furthering the story, foreshadowing future plot points, or scaring the shit out of the reader in some way. Writing a scene over the course of two or three days that was just exploring the budding relationship between two characters, was new for me. And I feel like I learned a lot while doing it.

Which is good, because other writers, not just King, include those quieter moments throughout the books. Ever wonder why Harry Potter includes Quidditch matches in the books? Because they’re fun, normal things a wizard would learn in school and serve as breaks from the intrigue of whatever was happening any year at Hogwarts.

Now, having these scenes aren’t always necessary for every story. But it can be a good idea to include them if you need an organic way to flesh out your characters, deepen their relationships, or show them growing. Especially you can’t think of any way to insert such moments into the more essential scenes, like Georgie getting dragged into the sewers or whatever.

In any case, I’ll probably write a few more of these scenes in Crawler, as it’s a very character-focused story, so I’ll get plenty of opportunities to practice. Perhaps afterwards, I’ll be able to write a post about writing quiet scenes and writing them well. And maybe when I do, I’ll write it with a quiet satisfaction.

*Except that one scene, I know, but we’re not going to talk about it, are we?


One more thing, my Followers of Fear: this Wednesday at 4-6 PM EST, I’ll be joining fellow horror writers Heather Miller and Daemon Manx on the podcast “What’s Write For Me” with Dellani Oakes. We’ll be recording live, so you’re encouraged to join us live by following this link, and we’ll be discussing and even reading from our scariest works, so I hope you’ll join us. See you there!

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. It’ll be a busy week leading up to Halloween, but I hope it’ll be a fun and memorable one. Until next time, good night, pleasant nightmares, and eight days till Halloween! Have you carved a Jack-o-Lantern yet? I have, and for the first one in my own home, I don’t think it turned out half-bad. What say you?

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

So, for those of you not following my social media, particularly Instagram and Twitter, I got a home winemaking kit for my birthday last year. So far, I’ve made two batches of wine with it. The first is plum wine, while the second is pumpkin wine. Yes, you can make wine from pumpkins. You can make wine from all sorts of fruits, vegetables, and other materials you normally wouldn’t think of for winemaking. Anyway, I haven’t tried any of the wine yet. And winemaking, as it turns out, is a lot like writing fiction. I’ll explain both in a moment.

First, let me give you a quick rundown of the winemaking process. You basically take all the ingredients, including the crushed/chopped/quartered/otherwise cut up main ingredient (ex. grapes, plums, pumpkins, etc.), put them all into a big container with fermentation yeast and oxygen, and let it simmer for a week or so. During this time, the yeast breaks down sugars and releasing flavor from the main ingredient. This is primary fermentation. Then you put it in a smaller container with as little oxygen as possible, where it undergoes secondary fermentation. This can last anywhere from a few weeks to a few months, changing containers every couple of weeks until the wine is clear. At that point, you bottle it and let it age for a year before drinking.

This is the pumpkin wine I finished making earlier this week. Looks good, right?

That’s why I haven’t had any of the wine yet. The plum wine won’t be ready until January, and I just bottled the pumpkin wine earlier this week, so it won’t be ready till next Halloween. I hope it tastes good when I finally taste it. Otherwise, I’m going to feel very bad for anyone who drinks the wine with me.

Now, here’s a pop quiz: using multiple ingredients to create a single thing? Going through multiple processes to further refine it? Taking at least a year to work on before it’s ready for consumption? This does describe winemaking, but what else can it describe?

If you guessed fiction writing, congrats. You win a glass of wine from your own stores. But yeah, it does sound a lot like fiction writing. The ingredients for the wine are like the plot, the research, and the words; the primary fermentation is the rough draft; the secondary fermentation is the subsequent drafts where you clean up the story; and the year after it’s bottled is the time until publication, during which you may do further refining for the story until it’s out.

Plum wine, just before it begins primary fermentation, when it’s just a bunch of disparate elements in a bucket.

And, like writing, winemaking takes time and trial and error to get good at. Like I said, I haven’t tried the wine yet. I tried both the plum wine and the pumpkin wine before secondary fermentation, but at that stage the wine is tart and full of yeast and other matter floating around. It was alcoholic, yes, but was it good alcohol? No. Just like a first draft is technically a completed story, but it’s not something you want to immediately release into the world! I mean, all those errors and plot holes you might miss before giving out the story!

But getting back to the wine, I have no idea how either batch will taste once I open them up. They may be completed, but will they be any good? It might take years of trying and failing before I make a good batch of wine. And that’s kind of like writing, too. You can write a story and go over it many times, but you have to keep writing until you’re any good at it.

But maybe that’s why I enjoy making wine. I mean, yeah, I love wine, especially sweet wine, but I also like the process of it. I like taking my hands and using them to create something that people can enjoy with me. I like that it takes hard work, precision, trial and error, and your love of something to create it and bring it together. And I like the many possibilities it presents.

It’s like writing to me. Only I don’t intend to sell this stuff: that requires a license, and I’m not going to jump through hoops for that!

Also, I’m going to need a wine rack and more empty bottles before I make any more wine. Otherwise, I’m going to run out of space for it all in my condo!

Anyway, I just wanted to share my thoughts on wine-making and writing with you guys. I’m going to do a little late night writing and then hit the hay. Good night, pleasant nightmares, and fifteen days and thirty-four minutes to Halloween. Anyone else vomiting spiders in excitement?

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

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

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.

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!