Posts Tagged ‘Halloween’

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

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

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

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

Here’s the blurb from the back cover:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That Which Cannot Be Undone: Amazon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You like the graphic? It’s based on the one for the official contest. I hope they don’t sue me for that.

If you’re reading this, then that means I made it to the second round–the “Gauntlet Round”–of the Face of Horror contest. And I have to thank all of you for that.

So if you’re not sure what I’m talking about, The Face of Horror is a contest I’m participating in. At the end of the contest, the winner will get a walk-on role in an indie horror film and a photo shoot with Kane freaking Hodder in Rue Morgue magazine, among other things. The first round, the “Child’s Play” round, began on September 6th and ended just a little while ago. Participants advance when people either cast a free daily vote or buy extra votes (portion of proceeds go to pediatric cancer research) for their favorite candidate.

And the fact that I made it past the first round means that you all kept coming back to vote for me over these past several days. I cannot thank you enough for that. It means a lot to me that you would go to these lengths, revisiting my original blog post and my profile page on the contest site every day to vote for me. You kept me in the Top 20 participants in my group, and that means the world to me.

However, now that I’m in the Gauntlet Round, things will be a little tricky. Like I said at the beginning, I don’t expect to win this contest. I’ll be happy if I make it a couple of rounds and get some side exposure or other benefits from it. However, I would like to see if we can keep the momentum up, so I’m asking you to keep voting throughout the Gauntlet Round, which lasts from September 15th to September 22nd. If I manage to stay in the Top 15, I’ll move onto the third round. If I don’t…well, it was fun while it lasted.

Either way though, I plan to give this all I got. So please continue to cast your votes everyday for me, and buy extra if you feel comfortable doing so. With any luck, I’ll continue to stay in the running and maybe meet some new readers that way.

Face of Horror — Rami Ungar

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’ll probably be back in a few days with a post for the Halloween season. Until then, good night, pleasant nightmares, and 45 days and 1 hour till Halloween at the time this post is released!

55 days till Halloween! Who’s excited?

You’re probably wondering what this is about. Well, a little while ago I heard about a contest for horror fans called the Face of Horror. What’s it about? Well, various horror fans and creators sign up to show that they are the greatest horror fans there are. The Face of Horror, if you will. And over the coming days, you’ll be able to vote for the candidate of your choice.

Guess who signed up as a contestant?

That’s right, me. I mean, can you blame me? And what happens if I actually win? Well, I’ll earn $13,000; get to stay in Buffalo Bill’s house from Silence in the Lambs for two nights (apparently it’s a real place in Pennsylvania); a walk-on role in the next movie of the director running the contest, Jim Vendiola; and a photo shoot with Kane Hodder, the only actor to play Jason Voorhees more than once, let alone four times, in Rue Morgue magazine! And all I need is your votes.

Now, I know you guys don’t owe me a thing and there’s no reason for any of you to help me. However, even if I don’t win, this could be a good opportunity for me. By participating, I might get even just a little bit of exposure, which may help me find some new readers. And if I end up winning, this could be a huge boost to my career! I could end up meeting all sorts of new people and followers through this contest.

Plus, you would have my gratitude in helping me move forward through the contest and hopefully furthering my career.

So, how do you vote? Click on the highlighted link below, and it’ll take you to my profile. You can cast one free vote per day during the contest, and can purchase additional votes (a portion of proceeds from purchased votes going to the Andrew McDonough B+ Foundation, which funds pediatric cancer research and financial assistance for families of patients). All you need is a Facebook account and/or a valid credit/debit card (especially if you intend to purchase more votes).

Anyway, this post being out means that the contest has begun, and the first round will go until September 15th. That’s at least ten chances for each person to vote. I hope you’ll consider voting and helping me out with moving onto the next round. Who knows? You may end up helping me further my dreams by leaps and bounds just with your support.

The Face of Horror — Rami Ungar


One more thing: I’ll be at the Mystics and Marvels fair on Saturday and Sunday, September 10th and 11th, from 11 AM – 6 PM, at the Franklin County Fairgrounds in Hilliard, Ohio. This is a really cool convention with Tarot readers and fortune tellers, stones and crystals sellers, and, of course, authors. I’ll be at the chapter for the Ohio chapter of the Horror Writers Association, HWA Ohio, so stop by if you can. You can check out more information at the website here.

And on Saturday, September 17th, the Pickerington Public Library is holding an Author Spotlight Event for Ohio authors at their location in Pickerington, Ohio from 10 AM – 2 PM. I will be signing and selling books at a spooktacular table, so I hope you’ll stop by and say hello.

And if you can’t make it to either event but would still like to support me (in addition to voting, of course), you can always check out one of my books and let me know what you think when you read it. Positive or negative, I love reader feedback and it helps me in the long run. I’ll include links below.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’ll check in again soon. So until next time, happy voting and pleasant nightmares!

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.

My favorite films surrounding my remote control.

You know, this may not be the biggest issue in my life. And it may not be the meaningful thing I could write about on this blog. But you know, it’s something I find myself pondering from time to time. What do my Top 6 Favorite Horror Movies say about me and my interests?

(It used to be 7, but I realized while making my list that while I enjoyed the film, it wasn’t something I would gladly watch again and again and again, just say the word go. Also, my tastes change over time, so this list could look very different in ten or even five years, as well as grow or shrink.)

But what does it say about me that I enjoy these particular films? What about them draws me to them? I tried to figure it out by listing them and then listing what I liked about them. Here are the films in question:

Perfect Blue (1997)
Based on the novel by Yoshikazu Takeuchi and directed by Satoshi Kon, Mima Kirigoe is a J-Pop idol who is forced by her agency to transition into acting. This and a violent stalker sends Mima into a violent psychological down-spiral, one which may very well claim her life.

  • One of the few good examples of anime horror I’ve come across in my life. The art style is also excellent, where characters and scenes are animated with a sense of realism rather than the usual anime exaggerations. This gives the horror a certain sense of realism that you wouldn’t normally find in anime.
  • The movie works to make you question, along with Mima, every moment of reality. What is real, what isn’t, what’s a dream, what’s part of Mima’s TV drama and what’s her actual life. It’s all up for debate throughout the movie, with the use of color, quiet scenes vs acting and dancing scenes, and repetition of events making you feel the disorientation Mima feels. All leading up to a final third with a horrific twist.

Color Out of Space (2020)
Starring Nicholas Cage and based on the novella by HP Lovecraft (one of my favorites by him, BTW), a meteor falls in a small West Virginia farm, giving off an odd color that can’t really be categorized. Soon after, strange events start happening on the farm, changing the plant life, the family, and reality itself. All leading to a devastating conclusion.

  • Ask most film critics, it’s one of the best HP Lovecraft/Lovecraftian horror adaptations ever made.
  • The film’s very misleading, at first playing up Cage’s penchant for odd acting and adding in plenty of comedy. Later on, however, Cage’s performance goes from funny to sinister, and the humor vanishes as the number of scary events occur and build, filling with you with dread.
  • The mix of practical effects and CGI is well done, with the latter only being employed as absolutely needed and the former being used enough to make fans of The Thing proud. This allows for the final scenes to be really horrifying, even when chock-full of CGI.
  • Just watch the cutting board and alpacas in the barn scenes. You’ll be scarred for life.

Overlord (2018)
During the D-Day invasion, a small troop of American soldiers sneak into a French town to take out the Nazi’s radio tower, preventing the Nazis from calling for help. What follows is a harrowing ride through hell as the team confronts not just Nazis and the horrors of war, but deadly experiments that may end up changing the tide of the war.

  • Despite being a “Nazi zombie” film, which is usually silly or played for laughs, this film plays it much more seriously. The zombies are almost a secondary feature of the film. The real emphasis is on how war scars and changes you, how horrible the drive to win can make a person, and how war brings out the depravity in all of us. When the zombies are on screen, they’re used sparingly, only to heighten the horror and the stakes.
  • During the scenes where the protagonist explores the laboratory, the emphasis on mood and atmosphere creates a powerful dread of what’s around every corner, under every sheet. If you’ve ever seen or played the game Outlast, it often feels like you’re in the middle of that game, and that is a terrifying thought to have.

Sleepaway Camp (1983)
As a young girl, Angela sees her father and brother killed in an accident on a lake adjacent to Camp Arawak. Years later as a teen, Angela and her cousin Ricky go as campers, only for a strange series of deaths to ruin the summer fun. And in the center of it all, Angela seems to be a fixture.

Who else had their mind blown by this moment in the film?
  • This is a rather unique 80’s slasher. For one thing, the campers are all played by actual teens and tweens, rather than adults pretending to be teens. Coupled with the teens language and behavior, it often reminds me of my own camping days, except less Jewish and more murder-y.
  • There are also prolonged periods between (admittedly inventive) kills, which allows you to really get to know the characters and remind you that these are just kids. This makes each instance of death even more shocking and brutal than it would be if they were in your face one after the other.
  • The twist in this movie is rather famous and forces the viewer to recontextualize everything in a new light. I won’t say what happens, but ooh boy, it’s not the sort of thing you could do today. I’d be interested to see how a remake handles this twist and reworks it for a modern audience. Also, I wish there was a novelization for this movie, because it would be great.

The Taking of Deborah Logan (2014)
A medical student is filming a documentary about an older woman’s battle with dementia. While out at her country home, however, it becomes increasingly clear that this woman is dealing with something else besides dementia: a dark presence has come for Deborah Logan, and it’ll use her to accomplish its sinister goals.

  • Both a found footage and a possession movie, the take on the latter is very unique, both in the victim of possession and who/what is doing the possessing. However, since this is a film about a woman with dementia, it misleads you at first so that you don’t know if what you’re experiencing is really supernatural at first. And when it becomes clear that something supernatural is happening, it becomes both terrifying and tragic.
  • Did I mention this film is terrifying? Not just for anyone whose relatives have experienced dementia (and I’ve heard from people that that’s a form of terror in and of itself), but just as a horror movie it is terrifying. From dark and claustrophobic scenes in an abandoned mine to strange happenings in the house and one bloody scene that freaked me the hell out, this is not a film you want to watch with the lights out.

Prince of Darkness (1987)
A Catholic priest discovers an ancient artifact in the basement of an abandoned church that points to the fulfillment of an obscure end-of-world prophecy. Needing to prove it to the world, the priest enlists the help of several prominent professors from a local university and their grad/PhD students to help quantify this strange, evil miracle. As you can guess, shit really hits the fan.

  • One of John Carpenter’s lesser known masterpieces (which I think is a damn shame), the film has a unique take on God and Satan that feels more at home in a UFO cult, but works really well here. It also has some interesting ideas and themes to explore, such as the nature of evil, the relationship between religion and science, and even an allegory for the AIDS epidemic, which was at a peak when this film was made.
  • Also, while not the scariest thing ever, it is pretty damn creepy and has some truly great moments of horror.

So, there you go. These are my favorite horror films right now. And I struggle to find a unifying theme about why I elevate them above all others. Half of them are from the last decade, two from the 1980s, and one from the 1990s. They all place a lot of emphasis on psychological horror, but how and how much varies from film to film. Only two of them are adaptations of anything. No similar genres, directors or writers, different themes are explored in each one, and I own copies of all of them on DVD or Blu-Ray.

Maybe it’s just that they stick in my head more than others, or that they impressed me in some way that other horror films haven’t. Perhaps they’re the kind of stories I wish I’d wrote, or I like thinking of what I’d do with the material. Wait, no, it’s not that. I think that with every horror film.

If nothing else, I’ll be able to discuss films like Perfect Blue and Prince of Darkness with more people.

Well, maybe you’ll help me find some insight. If nothing else, there’s a chance you’ll be curious enough to see these films if you haven’t watched them before, or give them another watch if you have. You may even notice something I don’t.

You may even make some of them part of your Halloween watchlist this year (63 days till Halloween at the time of this writing). And if you do, I also recommend adding Carnival of Souls (1962), Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988), Rosemary’s Baby (1968), As Above, So Below (2014), The Void (2017), both versions of The Fly (1958 and 1986), the 2013 remake of Carrie, It (2017), and Freaky (2020). All make great additions to your Halloween viewing lineup. Not to mention all the movies coming out starting next month. I’m getting chills just thinking about it!

Anyway, this has been a long post and it’s getting late. I’m going to end it here and call it a night. Until next time, my Followers of Fear, good night and pleasant nightmares!

What are your thoughts on these films? Did you notice anything I didn’t? What are your favorite horror films that you recommend to everyone?

I heard a movie based on this book was coming out later this year, so I thought I would check it out. And since I had to drive up to Cleveland yesterday (it’s a Passover thing, don’t ask) and the audio book was long enough for the drive to and back, I thought I would listen to it. I started as I pulled out of my parking space and finished about a mile from my complex on the way home. And I have to say, it certainly added to the drive.

Set in an unnamed village on Halloween night 1963, Dark Harvest follows Pete McCormick, a teenage boy who is participating in the Run, an annual harvest ritual where he and the other teen boys in town chase a living pumpkin-headed scarecrow known as “Sawtooth Jack” and “The October Boy.” The kid who manages to catch and kill Sawtooth Jack before he reaches the church in the center of town by midnight wins great prizes for him and his family, including the right to leave the village. Pete is gearing to win this year, even if it means breaking some rules, but he soon finds out there’s a darker truth to the Run. And losing might not be the worse thing in the world.

I have to say, while I was able to predict certain things, I enjoyed the story. I was sucked in by the immediate weirdness of the tale and by the haunting atmosphere. There’s this explosive potential in the narration and the reveling in violence and death that comes from the story. It really fits the Halloween vibe, as well as the cruelty and nihilism that comes with it. And while some things were predictable, as I said, it’s such a joy watching them unfold.

That being said, the style of narration was kind of annoying at times. There’s a lot of addressing the reader and rambling on the thoughts of individual or multiple characters. Great, it’s lots of psychological flowery language, but I would like to reach the next exciting bit of the story, and what does this all add to the overall book?

That, and it wasn’t really explicit about why the Run exists. It’s hinted it’s some sort of pagan ritual to help with next year’s corn harvest and keep people in town, but it’s never really spelled out or how this sort of thing began in the first place. Mostly, you hear stuff about how the Run is part of a way of life, but that only explains so much.

Still, I had a great time with this novel and was glad I finally got around to reading it. On a scale of 1 to 5, I’m giving Dark Harvest by Norman Partridge a 4.3 out of 5. It’s a fun little Halloween romp that you can gobble up in a day or so. Whether or not you plan to see the movie version, if you haven’t read this one and love your Halloween stories, I recommend checking it out.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I hope to have some exciting news out very soon. Until next time, good night and pleasant nightmares!

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

The Jewish Book of Horror

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

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

The Jewish Book of Horror: Amazon, B&N

Dark Nature: A Horror Anthology

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

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

Dark Nature: Amazon

The Dark Sire issue 9

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

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

TDS Issue 8: Amazon

TDS Issue 9: Website download

One More Surprise…

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

Nightmare Collective Part 2: Amazon


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

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bye!

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

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

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

The Jewish Book of Horror: Amazon, Barnes & Noble

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

In the meantime…

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

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

Registration link here!

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

And finally…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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