Posts Tagged ‘Hannah and Other Stories’

As many of you are aware, last October I announced that I would be releasing a new collection of short stories, Hannah and Other Stories, with BSC Publishing Group. Like my previous collection, The Quiet Game: Five Tales to Chill Your Bones, these are all original and unpublished stories that have gone unread except for a few other people at this point. Unlike The Quiet Game, however, Hannah will be seven stories instead of five, and I have a professional editing team working with me to polish up the stories before they’re released.

It’s that editing process I’m here to talk about. As I mentioned in a previous post, BSC is sending me the notes for each story one at a time so that I’m not overwhelmed. I appreciate that, as the last time I was overwhelmed editing a book, I spent a good amount of time watching Sailor Moon on Blu-Ray while trying to quell my anxiety. And recently, they sent me the notes for the second story in the collection, Queen Alice, which they told me is their favorite story in the collection so far.

I started editing Queen Alice recently after several delays (you can guess one or two of the delays were). And there are a lot of notes from the editors.

Not that I’m complaining. I’m grateful that they’ve been so thorough, picking things up that I missed in all that editing and polishing I did last summer before submitting Hannah. However, it is a challenge. I’m seeing a lot of stuff that needs to be clarified or rewritten or cut out, and doing all that so the story turns out better than it was before can be tough at times.

I’m a little nervous about how things will go down the line, when it comes time to polish up What Errour Awoke. Great story in the Lovecraftian universe and it did help me with my anxieties regarding the COVID-19 pandemic when that first began, but I know there’s plenty there that’ll need to be worked on. Especially in the latter half!

Still, I’m working it. I’m taking it one page and one section at a time. And I’m already seeing vast improvement with Queen Alice. At the moment, the story is kind of like a Lovecraft story: great concept, but the writing needs work (thankfully no racism or xenophobia). My goal right now is to get the writing up to the same standard as the concept and the story that my editors fell in love with.

That way, when it gets to you guys, you won’t be disappointed by it, but thrilled. Or maybe, just maybe, you’ll be terrified.


Just a couple of quick notes, my Followers of Fear:

First, as you know, The Pure World Comes has been out five days. And so far, my Gothic horror novel about a maid in Victorian England going to work for a mad scientist has been doing pretty well. It’s not selling like a Stephen King novel (I wish), but it’s been selling steadily and people have been leaving positive reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. This has made me hopeful for the book’s future and I plan to continue letting people know about it so they’ll want to read it (including a more in-depth post on it in the near future).

If you would like to check out The Pure World Comes, I’ll leave links below, including to Goodreads. You can read what people are saying, decide whether to purchase a copy, and maybe, if you like what you read, leave me a review letting me and others know what you think. It would be a big help to me, and let me know just what you thought of the book.

The Pure World Comes: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, Kobo, Goodreads

Also, ParaPsyCon is one week from today! If you’re unfamiliar, this is an awesome gathering of ghost hunters, psychics, authors and more at the Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, Ohio, one of the most haunted locations in America (and the filming location for Shawshank Redemption). If you want to stop by on May 21st and 22nd, please do! I’ll be selling signed copies of books, including TPWC, and entrance fee is just one ticket for a self-guided tour of the prison. Hope to see you there!

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. Until next time, good night and pleasant nightmares!

So, I was hoping to have some big news on at least one project by now, but…well, you know what they say. Man plans, God laughs. Or maybe it’s Rami plans, the entities foolish enough to be my enemies get in my way. I don’t know.

Anyway, I thought I would just do an update on the many projects I’m working on, as I don’t know when I’ll have any big news on any one of them. And at the very least, it’ll let you know where I’m at with things and with life in general.

Hannah and Other Stories

As many of you know, I have a collection of seven original short stories being released by BSC Publishing Group. And as I mentioned in my post on mental health during the publishing process, BSC is sending stories one at a time with editing notes so I don’t feel overwhelmed with the amount of work I have. Understandable, considering that at least two of those stories are actually novellas.

Anyway, right now I’m just waiting on the next story with edits, which will hopefully come soon. Once it does, I’ll start work on it immediately so I can get back to waiting for the next story again. I’ll keep you posted.

The Pure World Comes

My Victorian Gothic horror novel and love letter to Victorian England, The Pure World Comes follows Shirley Dobbins, a maid living in Victorian England who goes to work for a mad scientist after the deaths of her employers. It was published last year on an app, but now it’s going to be published as an ebook and paperback so that more people can access and read it. At the moment, I’m just waiting on the new cover. Once I have that, I’ll be able to start on the process that will eventually end in putting it online, selecting a release date, and making it available for preorder. Hopefully we can start on all that by the end of the month.

As for an audio version…well, that will depend on a few things, including how well the book does in paperback and ebook. If it does happen, I’ll be over the moon. If it doesn’t, it’s sad but hey, sometimes those are the breaks.

That Which Cannot Be Undone

As many of you know, some of my fellow Ohio horror authors and I formed a small press with the goal of releasing an anthology of Ohio-based horror stories, That Which Cannot Be Undone. At the time of writing this, we have most of the stories from the contributors and the editor is going over them with a fine-toothed comb. My friends and I are also regularly meeting and making sure we stay on time for our October release while also producing one hell of an anthology. We can’t wait for you to read what we’ve created.

Other Novels

Crawler: I know some of you were really excited when I said I was going to write a mummy novel. Those same people were saddened when I put plans to write that on hold due to Hannah being accepted and wanting to focus more on that. That being said, I think I might be able to start working on it later this year. Still a lot of things up in the air, but if nothing else gets in the way, I could start on it before autumn. If I do, I’ll let you know.

Toyland: Still plan to get this bizarre Gothic ghost story published. I’ll probably give it another round of editing before I submit it anywhere, though. It’s a complex story with lots of moving parts, so I want to make sure everything holds up before I let anyone else read it.

River of Wrath: unfortunately, I think I need to put this in the proverbial trunk. I’m saddened, since I still like this story and I had a hell of a time writing it (and for those of you who know what it’s about, pun totally intended). But I’ve had a lot of time to think regarding this novel as I’ve sent it from place to place to place, and I’ve come to realize that, as much as I love the novel, it does not reflect my best work and I don’t think, even if I made changes, it would be that much better. Hell, it might not even be the original novel I set out to write when all is said and done. (Again, pun totally intended.)

So, it hurts, but in the trunk it goes. At least the lessons it gave me will always be with me. And I now know more about Dante’s Inferno than I ever thought possible. Never a bad thing.

Shorter Works

Over the past several months, I’ve been writing a bunch of shorter works. Right now, I’m up to one novella, four novelettes, and three short stories. And yesterday, I started what will probably be a second novella. I like to think they’re all spectacular, though some of them definitely need more work. Anyway, once I’m done with this current project, I’ll spend time polishing them and trying to find homes for these stories before I do anything else that’s new (and that includes Crawler). Hope you get to read them soon!

Anything Else?

Well, there is, but not anything worth writing a paragraph about. At least, not yet. Hopefully I can tell you all about some of the things developing in my life in the near future.

Anyway, that’s all for now. I’m going to bed. In the meantime, thanks for your continued support of my writing career (and for even reading my books every now and then). Until next time, good night and pleasant nightmares.

Jeffrey Mansion in Bexley, Ohio.

Been meaning to write this post for about a week now, but life got busy and there was never a good time. Don’t you just hate it when that happens.

Anyway, as I’ve mentioned before, I’m working on short stories in-between edits on Hannah. Or shorter stories, seeing as some of them are novelette or novella length stories. Might work on a novel if the itch gets really strong, though I’m not sure if I’ll edit Toyland again or finally start on Crawler. But for this particular story, which I’m guessing will be a novella, I had a particular location in Columbus that I wanted to check out as a basis for the setting.

I’ve been to the Jeffrey Mansion many times when younger. I used to live a few minutes away from it and sometimes would play on the playground or walk the woods on the property. But I had never been inside before and had never heard of it being potentially haunted.

Then I discovered this video:

I thought since it was so close and easily accessible, and since I had a story in mind taking place in a similar location, I thought I would go and see it. Sadly, I didn’t find any evidence of hauntings. Just a weird moment when, in the library, the camera app on my phone started acting weird and wouldn’t work again until I left the room again. That being said, I could only access the first floor and basement, as the upper floors were reserved and off-limits to visitors. Also, it was daytime, so I couldn’t do a proper investigation. Perhaps the mansion is haunted and there are spooky things just waiting to be found.

Probably not the woman in white or the hanging man spirit from the video, however. The former is likely kids being afraid of the then-living janitor of the premises, and the original owner died in a hospital in the 1960s, so it’s unlikely he’s the hanging ghost if there is one.

But that’s not the point. The point is, I don’t get to stop by actual locations for research for stories that often. Sure, I’ve been to locations and used them as the basis for stories later on, but never to a location with a story already in mind. Going there, walking the grounds and taking photos of the lower two floors, my mind was moving at a thousand miles an hour and thinking up all sorts of great details for the story.

In the garden room: “This would probably double as a ballroom for parties. Oh, and this room will be an important location for the story. That will be in here.”

The tiny staircase hidden in the garden wall: “Ooh, I wonder if I could make use of this somehow. Maybe as a location to meet?”

The dance studio: “Didn’t know this was down here. But it works for me. Some of my characters are dancers, after all.”

It’s just insane how much of a boon my imagination got from coming here. It really helped me develop plot points and the location my story would take place in, right down to the location’s history and what would happen in which rooms. If I ever get a chance, I would like to go to another location for a specific story in mind, just to see what would happen to my brain and to the story. Who knows? Doing so might help me create my best work yet.

Anyway, that’s all for now, My Followers of Fear. Next up for me is to do some edits for the short story I’m using for That Which Cannot Be Undone (that’s still coming along wonderfully) and then, if there are no new edits for Hannah, I’ll get started on this new story. And, of course, I’ll let you guys know if anything exciting comes up.

In the meantime, enjoy more photos of Jeffrey Mansion. Until next time, good night and pleasant nightmares!

First photo of the mansion. Beautiful Jacobethan structure. I would love to do a full paranormal investigation there or see it used in a movie based off my work.
Side view of the mansion. Kids at the preschool get picked up there, though I imagine it was used to drop off important guests once upon a time.
Close up of the mansion’s entrance. It’s pretty striking.
Back of the mansion. It looks like it could be a movie set someday. I know plenty of kids like to use them while playing on the playground nearby.
Back of the carriage court. Back in the day, it was where the owners stored their carriages and cars. Now, it’s used as event space.
The editing process can take a toll on authors’ mental health, no matter their experience.

As I’ve mentioned more than once (especially during the past few weeks), the publishing process for Rose was something of a roller coaster for me. At least, it was on the mental health scene. There were days and weeks I was feeling on top of the world, and then there were weeks where I was freaking out and wondering how the hell I would ever get this novel into a state fit for publishing.

It’s been nearly three years since Rose was released, and I’m older, wiser, and I want to say calmer. However, I know that roller coaster could start up again during the editing process of Hannah and Other Stories, so I’m writing this post. Both as a reminder to myself, and to help anyone who might go through something similar with their own upcoming books.

Here’s are some tips for getting through the editing of publishing of your upcoming book and the mental health rollercoaster that it is.

First off, remember that this is natural. There’s nothing wrong with you, you shouldn’t be expected to stay happy because you’ve got a book coming out (whether it’s your first or your 247th), and every author goes through difficult periods in life. We have human brains, and those brains, while being the most advanced supercomputers on Earth, have some quirks built in. Our neurochemicals don’t always act naturally, and life can upset those chemicals as much as genetics. So if you’re having a bad period, don’t heap further stress on yourself by being upset with yourself. Just remember that this will pass and good periods will happen as well.

Our brains. Great supercomputers, but they aren’t perfect. So these feelings are natural.

That being said, if your feelings become too much or last for prolonged periods, consult a licensed doctor/psychiatrist/therapist. They may be able to help you with medication, the talking cure, and strategies for coping with those wacky neurochemicals.

And that brings me to my next point: have a support network and coping methods in place if you can. I know everyone’s circumstances are different, but it really helps to have someone to talk to or multiple people who can come together when you’re feeling down. Having those people who will stand by you and help take your mind off of the craziness of the publishing process can make things all the more bearable.

Not to mention those coping strategies. Taking some time for self-care when you need it improves things immensely. I already have Sailor Moon DVDs awaiting me in my room and ice cream in the fridge. Those are my comfort foods and anime, and they got me through more than a few crazy nights. Not to mention that methods such as hypnosis and meditation, going for a run or dancing, a nice drive, a good book and so many other things, can really help when your mental health starts to spiral.

That being said, certain coping mechanisms should only be done sparingly. For example, I tend to eat more sugary foods and drink alcohol when I’m under stress. Not the healthiest way to deal with my feelings, so I have to be careful not to do it too much.

Okay, now that we’ve gone over the self-care stuff, here are some practical tips when it comes to the editing and publishing of the book:

  • Edit in chunks or manageable blocks. This is something BSC Publishing Group, which is publishing Hannah, is doing with their clients. Rather than sending notes for the entire book all at once, they send notes for a few chapters or a single story at a time. That way, neither author nor editor is overwhelmed by the process and it feels more collaborative.
    I kind of like it, as it means I have less of a giant workload to get through, and I can work on other projects in-between chapters. And if you like it, maybe talk to your editor or publisher to see if you can do something similar.
  • Expect big gaps without activity. You know how you have to wait several weeks or months to hear if a short story is accepted or rejected by a publisher? It’s even worse with a book. Case in point, three months would often go by between submission of a new draft of Rose and getting new notes. And the time between acceptance of Hannah and the first round of notes was about six months.
    So no, you didn’t do anything wrong. And no, the publisher isn’t ignoring you. They’re just juggling a lot of projects, and they have to devote time to all of them.
  • Approach each issue/suggestion individually. Finding out your stories has issues, such as a plot hole or a character that doesn’t make sense, or a scene that doesn’t work like you thought it would, can seem insurmountable. Just know that every novel and collection has issues that need work on, including great ones. For Rose (which I like to think is great), after I got my anxiety under control, I went after each problem individually. First I handled the main problem with the antagonist, then the issue presented with the amnesia, and then the monumental problem with the flashbacks, which led to two-thirds of the book getting rewritten.
    Hopefully that won’t happen to you (though on the plus side, it did rid the book of some problems later in the draft). But taking it one problem at a time does yield results over trying to tackle, and agonizing over, all of them at once.
  • Remember, the publisher believes in your book enough to publish it. Sometimes, editing the book and guessing what people will think of it, we tend to doubt our own abilities. But remember this: the publisher believes your book is not only good, but it’s good enough that it’ll sell copies and they won’t take a loss on it. And that’s in an unedited state with issues!
    So if you could write something that good in that state, you’re more than capable of getting it up to scratch for publication. Just keep reminding yourself that and it might boost your spirits a bit.
  • Finally, keep reading and writing. During the quiet periods in-between drafts or before you go to bed. When you’re wondering how to tackle a problem with your book or when you’re just looking for some down time. When inspiration strikes you or when the new book by your favorite author comes out. Just keep reading and writing. Do it because you love it. Because it’s nice to get lost in imaginary worlds with imaginary problems and imaginary people. Because it’s relaxing and a great way to let the problems of the world slip away.
    Plus you occasionally get insights from the stories of others to improve your own stories. But that’s not important. It’s important to just sit down and enjoy these activities, because they’re what got you into the storytelling business in the first place and have led you here. And they will lead you onwards from here too.
Rose had plenty of issues before publication, and Hannah still has its share. Still, the publishers for both believe/believed in them to publish them, and that’s an important thing to keep in mind.

Well, those are my thoughts on mental health and the publishing process. I’d include some stuff on marketing, but then we’d be here all night. Anyway, I hope you found these tips helpful. If you think of anything I missed, feel free to put it in the comments. And if you have a book you’re working to get up to snuff for publishing, I wish you the best of luck. You’re in the middle of a tough journey, but you can get through it. And if you managed to get through the trials of writing and editing the book in the first place, you can get through the trials of getting it in shape for the publisher.

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

The placeholder cover I made for Hannah and Other Stories. I can’t wait to show you all the official cover someday soon.

Well, the story I was writing for that one anthology will have to be put on pause. Good thing I don’t have to submit till June.

So, as many of you are aware, back in October I signed with BSC Publishing Group to release a collection of short stories. The collection is going to be called Hannah and Other Stories and will consist of seven short stories, novelettes and novellas, including: Hannah, which follows two ghost hunters whose latest investigation has consequences for multiple people; The Autopsy Kid and Doctor Sarah, about a young girl’s relationship with a budding psychopath; and Poor, Unfortunate Souls, in which a rave underneath the streets of Paris receives an unexpected and horrifying guest.

Anyway, since I signed that contract, some time has passed, and I’ve been writing and editing stories like crazy so I don’t get rusty. And today, I finally received the first round of edits. And it looks like I have a lot of work to do!

Man, I wish all those edits I’d done back in spring and summer last year were enough to spruce up the stories. But I guess I wasn’t so lucky.

On the bright side, I still have some pretty clear memories of when I edited Rose back in 2018 and 2019. That was the last time I edited an entire book with a publisher, and it was quite the learning experience. Given what I remember, I will take it story by story, part by part, and try to identify the same issues my editors did, as well as using their suggestions to improve the story.

I will also make sure to take care of my mental and emotional health. It’s not something that’s talked about enough in the writing community, but this path we walk takes a toll on us writers. And that’s especially true when it comes to publishing an entire book! When I got the first edits back on Rose, for example, I went into a tailspin of anxiety. There were a lot of issues with the novel, a couple of which led to me rewriting around two-thirds of the book. Needless to say, I was upset with myself that I missed so many issues and worried I wasn’t going to be able to fix them. It took a lot of work for me to calm down again and start to work on the book again.

This time around, I’ll be better prepared. As I said before, I’ll take each story one at a time, and I’ll try not to let the issues with each story get under my skin. After all, not only have I been through this ordeal before, but I wrote these stories already and the publisher thought they were decent enough in their imperfect state that they wanted to publish them. If I was able to do that, I can edit the stories to a state where they can be released.

Plus, I have a support network I can rely on if things get to be too much, and I’ve already ordered my comfort anime from the library (nothing like a Sailor Moon binge to make you feel refreshed). Add in some ice cream and the occasional pizza delivery, and I’ll be fine.

Anyway, I’ll keep you all updated on the progress of the book, as well as my other projects. I may also write a post on maintaining your mental health during the publishing process at some point. In the meantime, if you’re looking forward to Hannah and can’t wait to read it, or you need something to read in the meantime, I’ll include links to Rose and my other books down below. Who knows? You might just find your new favorite horror story down below. Let me know what you think.

And please also check out the anthology Dead of Winter from the Dublin Creative Writers Cooperative and Spark Street Media, which contains the story “Azazel Dances” by myself and Richard Gerlach. It’s a great story inside a great anthology, so why not check it out?

And with that, I’ll take my leave. Until next time, my Followers of Fear, good night and pleasant nightmares.

Dead of Winter: Amazon

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

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

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

Agoraphobia: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada

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

The Pure World Comes: Readict app (free with ads)

A handy graphic for understanding the three act structure, courtesy of Wikipedia.

The other day, I was talking with some other writers about how to write a decent short story (an eternal question among writers, including the ones who’ve gotten them published). And I noticed that, with a lot of my recent short stories, most of them fall into a decent three act structure. And then I said, “I know the existence of the three act structure is dubious, but it’s the truth.”

And, like many odd things, that little exchange has stuck in my head.

So for those of you who don’t know, the theory of the three act structure states that all stories, especially longer ones, can be divided into three separate acts or sections: the setup, the confrontation, and the resolution. The acts may then be divided into smaller scenes or subsections, but they all fit into those categories. Some examples given of stories with the three act structure are Star Wars, Die Hard, and Avengers: Endgame (though I sometimes think everything before the five-year jump is its own separate act or prologue).

While many of us are taught this structure in school, most of our teachers will let us know that not everyone believes in the three act structure, let alone say they use it. Some prefer using a five act structure. Others say storytelling is too complicated and diverse to say a story can be divided into a formulaic structure. And nearly all playwrights will agree that if it can’t be told in one act, tell it in two.

Good example of a story in three acts (supposedly).

That last one might be a joke.

I’m usually of the camp that believes storytelling is too complicated and diverse to boil down into a structure. Look at Stephen King stories. Most of his shorts, like Graveyard Shift, Night Surf or The Boogeyman, are simple one-scene stories with maybe a twist at the end, and I dare you to try to fit books like IT or Salem’s Lot into three acts. Then there are stories like Kill Creek by Scott Thomas or Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice, which feel like they fit into four acts.

As for my own books, Snake is in multiple sections, much like the books I was reading up to and during the writing process, and I see Rose as in-the-apartment and after-leaving-the-apartment (if you read the book, you know what I mean). I can’t see the stories in The Quiet Game as anything but a progression of events. And I wouldn’t even know where to start with The Pure World Comes or the stories in Hannah.

So, is the three act structure a real thing? Well, yes and no. I feel like it’s more of a framework for people to examine fiction, both others and their own. You don’t have to use it if you feel it doesn’t work for you or if you feel a story has too much happening in it to divide the plot into three separate sections.

But if you do find it helpful, use it to your heart’s content. I’m sure many writers, especially plotters like myself, find the three act structure helpful for planning their stories. And as I said above, many of my recent short stories, including the ones that have been published, fall into three acts. Though I think of them less as acts and more like beats, scenes, settings, or occurrences. And if I’m trying to keep a story within a certain word count, I can see using this structure to my advantage.

So what is the three act structure? It’s a prism to understand some fiction stories through, as well as an actual tool for writing. It’s not perfect, and most stories don’t fit into it that well, but that doesn’t mean the idea isn’t useful. Hell, it might even help you hone your craft and get a few more short stories out there. And that is never a bad thing.

Unless you’re trying to write an award-winning musical. Then you might want to keep it to two or maybe just one act.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. March has just started and it’s already looking a lot better than January and February is (world events notwithstanding). I hope I can update you on exciting developments in the near future. And until next time, pleasant nightmares.

I would say pop some champagne, but I decided to abstain from alcohol this month. It’s healthy to do every now and then. I think I’ll stick to tea instead.

Okay, enough weird asides. As of this evening, I’ve finished a novella I started working on back in December, making this my first completed story of the year. The story is called “They Sleep Within the Rock,” it’s exactly one-hundred pages and is about twenty-six thousand, four hundred words. Which is just a bit shorter than I thought it would be.

As for the plot, the story is about a group of white supremacists that try to establish a “whites-only enclave” in the American West, only to find out that the land they’re on has a history to it, and may be cursed. The story was inspired by a news article I read about white supremacists trying to buy up land and housing in rural areas to establish their own mini ethnostates. Yes, that’s something they’re trying to do, and I hope they’re never successful at it.

Anyway, I read that article and thought, “I can write a story about that. There are so many ways to make a story about people trying to establish a place like this scary.” It took some brainstorming, but I managed to come up with something that I liked and, over three months, I got it written out. And I found it quite therapeutic, as well. There’s been such a rise in anti-Semitism in the US and worldwide lately, and the horrors reigned on my people, such as last month’s synagogue hostage situation in Texas, have been rising as well. It was nice to be able to visit some horror back.

That being said, I don’t know if the story is any good. It was therapeutic and I enjoyed writing it, but that’s no mark of a good story. Plus, I’m sure there are plenty of things that could use improvement in the story. Perhaps there’s even a need to rewrite certain parts.

Well, I’ll try to edit it later this year if I can. I say “later this year” and “if I can” because I’ll soon be editing the stories for my upcoming collection Hannah and Other Stories, so that’s obviously going to take up some time. And after so much editing, I may just want to write rather than edit another novella. But hey, at least whenever I do return to it, I’ll be able to see it with fresh eyes. That’ll be helpful, for sure.

So, what’s next? I think I’ll take the weekend to relax and refuel my creativity. I have an important blog post I want to put out before Valentine’s Day, so that’ll take priority. And I want to edit that superhero horror story I wrote last year and see if I can find a home for it. And after that…well, we’ll see what’s going on then.

But for now, though, I think I’ll hit the hay. Good night, my Followers of Fear. I hope wherever you are, the winter storm isn’t causing you too much trouble, and that you have pleasant nightmares.

I’ve been wanting to post something for the past several days, but I have nothing to really post about. But I’ve been getting antsy and current events are not helping (type “Texas synagogue” into Google and you’ll understand why), so I’m blogging about things going on in my life. If only just to distract myself and to let you all know I’m still alive.

And if you Googled what’s happening in Texas, please pray to the deity of your choice that everything turns out alright.

So, in my personal life, things aren’t too bad. Work was a little crazy during the first week of January (which is pretty much par for the course), but this week things got calmer, so I didn’t feel like tearing my hair out. And all month, I’ve been looking for a new apartment to move into when my lease ends this summer. I’ve got a few possibilities already scouted out and am on the waitlist for, so hopefully I’ll have a better idea on where I’ll be living soon.

On the writing front, things have been crazy! The work for the Kickstarter campaign has taken up quite a bit of my time (more on that in a bit). However, I have found time to write, or at least attempt to write. As I said in a previous post, I’ve been working on a story where I terrorize neo-Nazis, and that’s been going well. Actually, while finishing up the most recent chapter of that, I managed to fix a few problems with the logic of the story and cut out a superfluous character. It’ll still take me some time to get the first draft finished, but I think it won’t be too bad once it is. It’ll be in need of a lot of editing, but it won’t be half-bad.

On another note, the Kickstarter for “That Which Cannot Be Undone,” the horror anthology I’m helping to create, is 77% funded! Yeah, pretty amazing, huh? We think we can reach our full funding by the time the campaign ends in twelve days, but we’re doing everything we can to make sure that happens. In the spirit of that, I’m offering up signed copies of my books Rose, Snake and The Quiet Game for people who pledge to the campaign. So if you want to read some of my works (signed, no less), and help support the career of me and fellow Ohio horror authors, this is a great opportunity to do so. You can use this link to pledge: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/crackedskullproject1/that-which-cannot-be-undone-an-ohio-horror-anthology

77% and counting. Why not join us?

As for the other projects, the paperback and ebook editions of The Pure World Comes is on schedule. I’ll be reaching out to a cover designer I’ve worked with before on the cover soon, and once I have that, I can start uploading/formatting the actual book on a publishing platform. And I’ll be starting work on Hannah and Other Stories soon, as well as following up on some submissions this weekend. With any luck, I’ll be able to post a real update on something soon.

Anything else? Oh yeah: in about two weeks, I’ll be driving over to Marietta, Ohio for the Hidden Marietta Paranormal Expo. It’ll take place on the 29th at the Lafayette Hotel, and I’ll be selling books and doing Tarot readings while there. Hope you can make it!

Well, that’s my update. I’m off to heat up dinner, watch a movie, and then do a late-night writing session. Until next time, good night, pleasant nightmares, and please pray for what’s happening in Texas.

I’m not so sure anymore.

Of course, it seems like gospel that the first sentence of a story is important. It’s your hook, isn’t it? It’s how you get the reader into the story. You should put as much thought into that first line as you would as asking your significant other to marry you!

But I’m not convinced anymore. That may be strange, considering how often I used to (and sometimes still do) the #FirstLineFriday meme on this blog. You know, that thing where I post the first line of a story and hope it gets you into the story? But then again, maybe that’s why I’m unconvinced. I’ve posted first lines so many times, I’ve recognized how little effect that they have on the total story.

And you know, if you look at some famous books, you kind of see that. Harry Potter‘s first line is “Mr. and Mrs. Dursley of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.” Most Muggle-ish opening you’ve ever read. It doesn’t really hint at what’s to come in the story, and I honestly would have cut it from the final product if I had edited the first book.

And Stephen King’s stories don’t usually have those sorts of openings. The first line of IT goes like this:

“The terror, which would not end for another twenty-eight years–if it ever did end–began, so far as I know or can tell, with a boat made from a sheet of newspaper floating down a gutter swollen with rain.”

It’s a nice opening, but it doesn’t exactly scream…well, going to make you scream. It’s actually kind of mellow. And the opening for Needful Things is even more unassuming: “You’ve been here before.” Kid you not, my first time listening to that book on audio, I had to repeat it a few times because it was totally unexpected and confused me a bit. Only as you keep reading does the opening make sense with this story.

Maybe this is why some books have poems, excerpts from other famous stories, Bible verses, or even song lyrics at the beginning, before the story even starts. You read those little epigraphs (that’s what they’re called, I check) and keep reading to see how it relates to the story you’re taking in.

in any case, I’m starting to think that maybe it’s not the first sentence, or even the first paragraph, that’s responsible for making a story’s opening catchy. It’s maybe the first couple of paragraphs or the first page. When the author sets up the story, the characters, the setting, that you really get pulled into the story.

The opening of the story should be like opening a door to guests. Yes, that’s important, but what’s inside is even more important. Photo by Ron Lach on Pexels.com

That’s certainly the case with my current story, where I set up a nice, rural setting, something kind of idyllic…and then one of my main characters reveals that he’s a neo-Nazi. It’s a stark contrast from the first paragraph that takes the reader off-guard, and hopefully will get them reading further along. I’ll have to finish the story first to see if that’s the case, however.

Anyway, the first sentence is important, but it’s not the most important thing about a story. Rather, it’s just the opening of the door and allowing people to take a quick look before stepping inside. What’s beyond that is what’s truly important. You just have to make sure to open the door and open it well.

But what’s your take, Followers of Fear? Let’s discuss openings and if the first lines of a story really are as important as we make them out to be. I’m curious to hear what you think on the subject. Maybe more of you will agree with me than I imagine.


Happy New Year, my Followers of Fear. I wanted to start this year off with a post that’s reflective on the craft of writing, as I enjoy writing those posts. Anyway, I hope you’re having a good 2022 so far. Mine’s been rough so far, but that tends to be the case with the first full week of January. And at least there’s a lot to look forward to right now: editing and releasing Hannah and Other Stories; putting out the paperback and ebook copies of The Pure World Comes; conventions and expos; maybe a bit of travel; and, of course, some good reading and writing.

Oh, speaking of conventions and expos, I’ll be at the Hidden Marietta Paranormal Expo on the 29th in Marietta, Ohio. If you can, stop by the Lafayette Hotel and maybe I’ll sign your book and read your Tarot.

Also, the crowdfunding campaign for That Which Cannot Be Undone is at 58.5 percent! We’re over halfway funded and we just keep going! And if you would like to help me and my fellow Ohio horror writers put out an amazing anthology of horror stories set in our state and revolving around the theme “that which cannot be undone,” click on the link here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/crackedskullproject1/that-which-cannot-be-undone-an-ohio-horror-anthology. There are also some amazing perks to pledging, like candles, Ohio-themed Tarot cards, copies of the book, and even end up in one of the stories! How cool would that be?

Anyway, that’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I hope to have more stuff to tell you soon. Until next time, good night and pleasant nightmares!

You’re probably reading this title and wondering what’s going on in my life that would make me write a blog post with such a title. Well, I’m not planning on going to an ashram in India or a monastery in Tibet to find enlightenment, if that’s what you’re wondering. So not the right time for it.

No, the reason why is, between my limited time and all that’s going on, I have to refigure where my priorities lie.

For one thing, there’s Cracked Skull Press and That Which Cannot Be Undone. The campaign is in its latter half, so I need to spend a lot more time focusing on making sure that it’s a success. It’ll involve a lot of man hours, networking and other tasks. So I’ll have to set aside more time to working on that and not to writing. I’ll need to if we’re to make the remaining amount of funding in our budget.

Speaking of which, if you would like to help us create a kickass horror anthology, or you’re just curious, you can find more about the anthology, the campaign, and the rewards here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/crackedskullproject1/that-which-cannot-be-undone-an-ohio-horror-anthology. We’ve been working hard on making sure we have an awesome anthology with talented horror authors and we can’t wait to share it with you. Thanks in advance for your support. We appreciate it.

If you would like to check out the campaign and help me and my friends put out a great anthology with our stories inside, click the link above.

Even after the campaign is done, I have two books to release this year. I’ll be putting out a paperback and ebook of The Pure World Comes (plus an audio book if fate is kind), my Victorian Gothic horror novel. That probably won’t take too much time, as all I need is provide a good cover and ensure it’s formatted right. However, Hannah and Other Stories will need A LOT of editing done. Those seven stories will each require their fair share of attention, and it wouldn’t surprise me if some, like “The Autopsy Boy and Doctor Sarah” or “What Errour Awoke,” may need significant portions rewritten.

Add in all that, plus one story that’s currently being edited for a different anthology and other stories that might be accepted into other anthologies and magazines, the probability of a third draft of Toyland (or is it the fourth?), conventions and book expos, and a whole lot of other stuff that will or could crop up, and I will have to put a hold on the writing for a while.

It’s a shame. I was really enjoying working on this story where I got to terrorize neo-Nazis. And I had a great idea for a story based around Cinderella I was looking forward to writing. And this will probably push my mummy novel Crawler even further back.

But as things stand, my life won’t handle anymore projects. Still, if any of these stories find a home, it’ll be worth the pause. Because as long as I’m able to keep sharing my twisted, terrifying stories with you all, that’s all that matters.

My works can be found in many great booksellers. Check them out and let me know what you think.

And if you want to help things along, you can always check out my works that are already published and leave reviews online. Those help me immensely by letting me know people are reading my stories and are also letting other people know if my stories are worth their time. You can find my stories on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and from other great booksellers. Just search Rami Ungar and see what comes up!

Well, that’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I look forward to updating you with the latest on all the projects I’m part of or will be hopefully be part of soon. Until next time, good night, pleasant nightmares, and Happy New Year.

Oh, and before I forget, I was recently featured again in the Columbus Jewish News and interviewed on the website Bookishly Jewish. And my fellow writers at Cracked Skull Press were on the podcast Necrocasticon recently too. Please check them out if you get the chance. Thanks!