Posts Tagged ‘horror’

Temporary placeholder artwork for Hannah.

Well, that took less time than expected. Still took awhile, but it didn’t take two months as I predicted.

So, for those of you who are unaware, I have a short story collection called Hannah and Other Stories being released some time this year. It contains seven original stories of varying lengths and covers the following subjects: a rumor about a figure on the Internet who is targeting vulnerable teens; carnivorous horses; and budding serial killers, just to name a few. It’ll be released by BSC Publishing Group, whom I’ve worked with before through their magazine The Dark Sire.

And since New Year’s, I’ve been editing the last four stories in the collection, trying to expand on certain things such as showing rather than telling and cutting out stuff that doesn’t do the story any good. I think between that and all the other edits I made, the collection is that much stronger and will make for one hell of a read upon publication.

Of course, I doubt it’s finished yet. We’re probably going to have to go through and make another round of edits before we can set a release date, let alone format everything, create a cover, and make one hell of a marketing plan. But I think that at this point, we’ll just be making some minor alterations to make sure the stories are well-edited and the plots flow well.

Then again, they do say writers are their own worst judges of their work, so who knows? We may have more than cosmetic work up ahead.

The page and word count as I finished the manuscript. It’s going to be a long book.

Well, it’s with the publisher now and they’ll hopefully let me know what they think very soon. In the meantime, I”ll be taking the next few days to relax and catch up on some movies I’ve been meaning to catch and some reading I’ve been meaning to do. I’ll probably also celebrate finishing the latest draft with some good food and some wine. After that, and with my creativity replenished (plus, I’ll likely feel like I need to work on something or I’ll die), I’ll get to work on some other stories that require another draft. These stories are Forever Young, about an unusual child actress; It Changes You, taking place in the Internet phenomenon known as The Backrooms; and They Sleep Within the Rock, the story I wrote about neo-Nazis getting their just desserts.

You can tell why I call all this editing The Great Editing. It’s a lot!

Anyway, after those stories are edited, I haven’t made any commitments yet. It’ll depend on whether or not BSC Publishing Group has sent me back any decisions regarding Hannah and whether or not I need to do further edits. But I do hope I can work on some new stuff by that point. I’ve a bunch of new story ideas I want to work on, so I’m hopeful.

In the meantime, however, I’m going to make a late dinner, maybe open a bottle of homemade wine, and figure out what I’m going to do for the rest of the night. Until next time, my Followers of Fear, I look forward to sharing Hannah with you and hope you enjoy it as much as I have enjoyed working on it.

Good night and pleasant nightmares!


Oh, one more thing: you may have noticed, but at the top of the blog there are a lot less pages. In fact, I recently consolidated all my books onto one page, simply titled Books. I figured that would make things easier for both new and old readers to find my works and the links to them, rather than having to scour fifteen different pages for them.

Just wanted to mention in case you hadn’t noticed. Good night!

So, you’ve probably heard of Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey. If you haven’t, let me give you some background, because it’s important to talk about. So, Winnie the Pooh predates Disney and was originally some stories written by AA Milne. Some of those stories became public domain back in 2021, so now anyone can make a story about Pooh Bear so long as they don’t use anything exclusive to the Disney version. A British filmmaker took advantage of that to make a horror film based on the characters, Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey. And ever since its announcement, this film has gotten a ton of buzz, so even if it’s terrible, it’s likely going to make bank.

I’m actually going to see it at the one night screening at my theater. I can’t wait.

Unfortunately, not all of the buzz is positive. Recently, one of the actresses in the film, Danielle Roland, said the cast and crew got a lot of hate for being part of the film. Rhys Frake-Waterfield, who directed and co-produced the movie, even got emails saying he should die. You can read the original article here.

Now, I can understand if people are upset about this film being made, let alone the phenomenon it’s become. Winnie the Pooh is a popular character and childhood icon for many people around the world. Seeing him and Piglet used in a horror film might be upsetting. But death threats? That’s going way too far! You’re threatening to kill someone over a fictional character! Might as well threaten to kill someone over the Easter Bunny!

And here’s the thing: no one is forcing any of these people to watch the film. It’s not like men with guns are going to go into people’s homes and kidnap them to the movie theater for the one-night screening, or force them to put it on their various streaming platforms to watch in their living rooms. If you don’t want to go see it, don’t see it. Even better, pretend it doesn’t exist! You can continue to enjoy your childhood bear without having to acknowledge the one that’s going to be taking an axe to a bunch of college students next month.

Unfortunately, death threats like this, as well as over-the-top reactions to fictional media of any sort, have become more and more commonplace over the year. Or maybe they’re being reported by news outlets more. Either way, it’s bizarre to read about. When I was in college, I read about people threatening to ruin Charlaine Harris’s career or kill themselves depending on what she wrote into one of her Sookie Stackhouse books. After college, when Marvel had a storyline in the comics where Captain America was revealed to be a Hydra agent, I read articles about people threatening Marvel’s writers for this storyline. One person alleging to be a Marine even said he was going to abandon all his values because of Cap’s betrayal and even become a killer (I seriously hope that was hyperbole). In 2020, when The Last of Us Part II released, people review-bombed the game based on leaked plot points. Part of this was fueled by homophobia (several of the characters in the game are openly LGBT), but a lot of this was due to fans hating the supposed direction of the game. Not only that, but one of the actresses for the game received death threats for playing a villain.

People got way too upset over this one scene.

And now people are threatening to kill folks associated with this new horror film because it’s about a beloved childhood character.

I don’t care about the circumstances or the reasons why. I don’t even care if the people making the threats are serious. I’m more concerned that anyone thinks reacting like this is appropriate. No matter why, you shouldn’t threaten people’s lives like that.

Let me share you a story from my high school days. Back then, I worked for my gym teacher selling tickets to volleyball and basketball games at the door. When I wasn’t taking tickets, I did homework, ate dinner from the snack bar, and read. It was a good gig. One day, however, I was steamed because I had just finished a Dean Koontz novel and absolutely hated its resolution. After the game, I was picked up by my stepmom, who proceeded to drive me home. And as I’m complaining about the book’s ending, my anger radiating off me like heat from a space heater, my stepmom turned around and said, “Rami, it’s fiction! It’s not real! Don’t get so upset about it!”

Well, that shut me up. And it turned out to be very helpful for me, because it made me realize something: as much as I love stories and characters, none of it is real. The absence of these characters and stories from the world wouldn’t change much, let alone their presence. And among all the things to get mad about in the world, a book resolution or how a character is portrayed isn’t one of them.

Since then, as wrapped up in fiction as I get sometimes, I don’t allow myself to get emotionally out of hand because I don’t like the direction. Yes, I’ll share my thoughts on it, but I’m not going to threaten people over it! And if I really dislike it, I just won’t have anything to do with it. My stress levels stay down and everybody stays happy.

And I wish more people would react that way. Or maybe not react at all. If they did, I guarantee we would all be much happier.

(WARNING: The following post discusses some recent movies that not everyone has seen yet. I’ve tried to avoid spoilers, but if you’d rather see these movies without knowing anything, then stop reading now and come back later. You’ve been warned.)

It’s no secret that I’m an eccentric, and I channel that eccentricity into my fiction all the time. I mean, my most popular novel is about a young woman who’s turned into a plant/human hybrid. If that’s not an example of weird fiction, then I’m a high school girl in an anime. And I’m not!

Skinamarink’s poster displayed outside my usual movie theater.

With all that expertise, I can say with certainty that there is plenty of room in fiction, especially in horror fiction, for weird. The novel House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski, is a prime example of this. It’s a story about a documentary about a recounting of one family’s experience living in a home that has a giant labyrinth hidden inside it. The novel is full of footnotes, some of which have footnotes, as well as pages with only a few lines of text, or the text laid out in an odd manner, forcing the reader to hold the book at weird angles. From what I’m told, it makes for an experience both agoraphobic and claustrophobic.*

No wonder that book has an enduring relevance among horror readers, despite the author and some readers seeing it more as a love story than a horror story.

All that being said, there is both a good way to make a story weird and a bad way to make a story weird. Especially in the horror genre.

Some of you may have heard of the new Canadian horror movie Skinamarink. The movie revolves around two children who wake up one night to find that their father, as well as the doors and windows to their home, have mysteriously vanished. There’s been a lot of talk about the film online, with some loving it and others reviling it. I went to see it on Friday, knowing that one way or another, I would get a weird experience.

Well, I did get that weird experience. It’s filmed in a way meant to evoke a child’s perspective and reflect their nightmares, with the majority of shots focused on hallways, things high overhead or on the television in the den. Anything but the characters themselves. The entire film is also filtered to look like a home movie from the 80s or 90s, and the use of effects is minimal and mostly reliant on practical effects. A lot of the dialogue is told in whispers, so subtitles are used throughout the film. There’s no music, and plenty of surreal moments throughout the film, especially near the end.

That being said, everyone in my theater, including me, hated it. I even spoke to someone who was in the theater with me afterwards, and he told me he fell asleep during the film. I can see why: except for a few effective jumpscares, there was nothing to actually unsettle the viewer or keep them tense or focused, let alone scare them.

Since seeing the film, I’ve been characterizing it like someone took the cursed videotape from The Ring and tried to make it into a feature film, but took out what made that video so scary in the first place.

Now, I’m not saying anyone who enjoyed Skinamarink or found it scary is wrong or bad. The wonderful thing about horror is how subjective it is and how there are many different niches to suit every fan. Nor am I shitting on the director for the choices he made. I reserve that for the Friday the 13th remake and its creators, because that film is trash that gets everything good about the franchise wrong. Most of the people involved in it should get a good kick in the pants!

No, what I’m saying is that the weird is emphasized at the expense of the horror. Online, Skinamarink is characterized as “an experimental horror film” and that feels like an apt way of putting things. From the way the film is shot, to the use of subtitles and the story (flimsy as it is), you can tell that it’s all been an experiment by the director to conjure up a unique viewing experience. And in that respect, his experiment was a success. However, in terms of creating an effective horror film, the experiment was a bust.

Hatching is, in my humble opinion, a great example of weird horror done well.

Now, compare that to another recent horror film, Finland’s Pahanhautoja, or Hatching. The film follows a girl who finds an egg in the forest and incubates it, only to end up the caretaker of a large bird/dinosaur monster that she calls Alli. Yeah, that’s weird, especially when you see the ugly-ass creature, which is brought to life mainly with practical effects and puppetry. But it also helps to tell a story about a very repressed girl who is struggling as part of a toxic family dynamic and being ruled by a narcissistic, social media-obsessed mother. Rather than overtaking the story, the weird aspects help drive the story and explore its deeper themes.

And that’s where the big difference between Skinamarink and Hatching is. The former’s weird aspects overtake the film and drown out the horror, while the latter’s weird aspects help out the horror and the story in order to be told more effectively.

To summarize, when telling a story of the weird variety, it’s important to remember that you’re telling a story first and foremost. Thus, while you can add as many weird elements as you want, if they overwhelm the story you’re trying to tell, you risk alienating rather than engaging your audience. And that’s something every storyteller wants to avoid. Including eccentrics like me.

*It’s on my TBR list, but that list is long and I only have so much reading time. Thus, it’s going to have to wait a while till I get to it.


Just a reminder, my Followers of Fear: this coming weekend I’ll be at ConFusion at the Sheration Detroit Novi in Detrot, Michigan. This is a big science fiction and fantasy convention that’ll be held from Friday, January 20th to Sunday, January 22nd. I’ll be there selling books and doing Tarot readings, so if you’re in the area, feel free to stop by and say hi. I’d be more than happy to see you.

You can find out more information about the convention by checking out its website here.

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

So, how’s 2023 treating you so far? Is it unbearable yet? Or has it been a grand old time? Me, I can’t handle it anymore and want to go back to bed right now! Just kidding, the year’s actually been pretty good so far.

Anyway, as many of you know, I’m going to be spending the next couple months only editing stories, not writing anything new. At least four of these stories will be in Hannah and Other Stories, the collection I’m releasing with BSC Publishing Group later this year. And as of yesterday, I’ve finished the second draft of one of my non-Hannah stories, They Sleep Within the Rock.

If you’re not familiar, They Sleep Within the Rock is a novella I started at the tail end of 2021 and finished in early January 2022. The story revolves around a bunch of neo-Nazis who try to establish an all-white enclave in the middle of rural Idaho, unaware that the land they’re living on is anything but ordinary (no, there isn’t a Native American curse or burial grand on the land, that’s way too cliché). At the time, I was feeling a lot of anxiety over the rise in anti-Semitism in the nation and world, so writing this was really therapeutic. However, for various reasons, I never got around to editing the story until late December 2022, about a year after I originally started writing it. And the editing was finished up about a year after the initial draft was finished.

I can’t say if that’s a coincidence or if there’s a significance there, but it is interesting.

Anyway, with the first story of the Great Editing out of the way, I’m going to see f I can find a writer friend to beta read/critique the story and give me some helpful feedback for the next draft. After that draft is done, whenever that is, I might see about finding it a publisher. Either on its own or as part of a collection, I definitely think there’s plenty in the story to interest readers and publishers alike, so hopefully it finds a home quickly.

And in the meantime, I’ll get started on those stories for Hannah that require my attention. These include the stories “Fuselli’s Horses,” about some carnivorous horses that might have a taste for human flesh; “What Errour Awoke,” about how a class reading brings people into contact with an ancient god at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic; “The Red Bursts,” about a town that goes insane because of a pulsing red light; and “Poor, Unfortunate Souls,” about a party in the catacombs underneath Paris.

After they’re done, I’ll send the completed manuscript back to the publisher, and then…well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. There’s still plenty to do before we get to that point.

Anyway, I’ll keep you all posted on my progress, both with getting Hannah to publication and the Great Editing. I start editing those four stories tomorrow, so tonight, I’ll take it easy, try to go to bed early, and hopefully be fully energized to tackle these stories after work tomorrow.

I can’t wait to share with you the final results of my hard work.


One more thing before I sign off, my Followers of Fear (yes, I know I just blogged about this, but that’s advertising for you). Right now, most of the ebooks of my stories are on sale through the end of the week. This includes my first collection of short stories, The Quiet Game: Five Tales to Chill Your Bones; my slasher novel Snake, about a serial killer hunting members of a mafia family; and The Pure World Comes, a Gothic horror novel about a maid going to work for a mad scientist. In addition, the audio book for The Pure World Comes is on sale from certain retailers as well. So if you’re interested in my stories, or are looking for something spooky to start the year with, this is a great time to do so.

And if you like what you read, please leave me a review online somewhere. Positive or negative, I love reader feedback, and it helps me as a writer and helps readers figure out if I want to read the book.

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

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

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

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

Agoraphoboia: Amazon

Mother of the King: Amazon

I’m sure this is the last thing you want to read on the first day of the year, but what the hell? I’m doing this sale, so might as well make sure everybody and their grandmother knows about it.

So, in the hopes of starting 2023 off on the right foot, I’m having a sale on most of the electronic versions of my books, of which I’ve listed below. This includes such terrifying tomes as my first collection, The Quiet Game: Five Tales to Chill Your Bones; my slasher novel Snake, about a serial killer hunting members of a powerful mafia family; and The Pure World Comes, my Gothic horror novel about a maid going to work for a mad scientist and getting wrapped up in his odd science.

All these and more will be available for the first week of 2023 for only ninety-nine cents. And get this: the audio version of The Pure World Comes will be on sale as well from certain retailers. Not for under a dollar, but enough that it’ll make a considerable difference.

So, if you have been wanting to read my works but costs have been prohibitive, or you want some new horror to start the new year right, this is a great opportunity for you. I’ll post the links down below. And if you end up purchasing a book and reading it, and you like what you read, please leave a review to let me know what you think. Positive or negative, I love reader feedback, it helps me as a writer, and it helps readers figure out if the books are worth their time.

Anyway, that’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I promise, my blog posts during the rest of the year will be the same stuff that you’ve come to expect and love (hopefully). Until next time, Happy New Year, good night and pleasant nightmares!

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

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

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

Agoraphoboia: Amazon

Mother of the King: Amazon

I’ve been hearing about this one in one of my Facebook horror groups, so I got interested and got the audio book. And on the ride home from work, I finished it today.

Set in 1994, The Exorcist’s House follows the Hill family as they move into a farmhouse in West Virginia with the goal of flipping it for a profit before the new baby arrives. However, the house used to belong to a local exorcist who spent much of his life fighting demons. And there’s plenty to suggest that while the exorcist is no longer living there, or even living, something else is. And if the family doesn’t do something soon, they may not live much longer.

So, I couldn’t help but see this as kind of Conjuring-esque. I mean, it feels like something that would be inspired by The Conjuring. A family moves into an isolated home in the middle of the country with a history of the paranormal, demons start to oppress and try to possess them, it all takes place in an era that’s starting to become nostalgic in the public’s memory, an exorcist or two are involved in the story, and plenty of Catholicism to boot. Near the end, I couldn’t help but think that the author could do a whole shared universe around some of these characters, especially the exorcist of the title.

That’s not detracting from it, I’m just saying that’s how it feels.

All that being said, it was an enjoyable read. The story is well-written and the characters are quite fleshed out, especially mother Nora who has a strong character arc in regards to her own inner demons (pun intended). Even daughter Alice, who is a stereotypical teenager, is more than just a flat stereotype. There’s also some really scary scenes, such as the scene with Nora in the basement in the first half of the book (I got shivers while listening to that chapter in the car), as well as a few twists that I didn’t see coming.

And that ending! Not sure if the author really is setting up for a sequel or a shared universe al a The Conjuring, but even if he isn’t that ending left me satisfied as only a horror fan can be.

That being said, there are some tropes that we’ve seen a hundred times, such as an exorcist being brought in during the third act for the big confrontation, so at times it does feel a little predictable.

On a scale of 1 to 5, I’m going to award The Exorcist’s House by Nick Roberts an even 4. Plenty of good scares, a decent story and possibly the launching point for a shared universe. Also, the audio book has a great narrator with a ton of range. Pick the format of your choosing and get settled in for a nice read.


That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. This will, in all likelihood, my last review of the year, and likely my last post of 2022 (unless something comes up between now and Saturday and 11:59 PM). Thank you all for your support in 2022 and I look forward to sharing with you my adventures, trials and accomplishments in 2023. Until next time, happy new year, good night and pleasant nightmares!

I did say in my last post that I would be talking about my upcoming plans in another post, didn’t I?

So, you’re probably aware that I have a collection of short stories coming out sometime in 2023 from BSC Publishing Group. That collection, Hannah and Other Stories, has been going through a lot of editing over the course of 2023, though we took a break for the holidays in November and December. Starting January 3rd, I’ll be starting work again on the collection. BSC sent me notes for four of the stories, so I’ll be working through those for the first couple of months of 2023.* After those edits are done, it’s back to the publisher, where they’ll hopefully give the okay to move onto the next stage and start getting things like the cover and the marketing push ready.

It also means I’ll be editing “Forever Young” and “It Changes You,” the stories I wrote in November and this past month. I think if I can find the right publishers or magazines or anthologies, I can either get them published individually or as part of another collection, but they’ll need work before I can send them out. Hence, editing.

And between now and January 2nd at 11:59 PM, I’ll be editing “They Sleep Within the Rock,” the novella I wrote where I put neo-Nazis through Hell. I wrote it last year, but have not touched it since then for some reason, so I want to get that done before I get back to work on Hannah. It’s about twenty-six thousand words, so it’ll definitely take more time than a single evening writing session to finish. However, it’s divided into ten chapters if I remember right, so I think if I knock two sections a night out, it should be fine.

Anyway, given all that editing, it’s no wonder I’m calling this the Great Editing, like it’s some dramatic event that could shape history or something. Then again, as a writer, isn’t part of my job making mundane things dramatic? Yeah, pretty sure it is.

In the meantime, however, it’s late and I have work in the morning, so I’ll be taking the rest of the evening off. So, until next time, my Followers of Fear, good night, pleasant nightmares, and, if I don’t post again before Saturday, December 31st, 2022, Happy New Year!

*I assume. Hard to tell how long all this will take. Life is unpredictable, isn’t it? For all I know, I could get it all done in a few weeks, or I could be finishing it all up in June. You just never know.


One more thing: I know I posted this in the last post, but I might not post again this week! Might as well repeat it so the message gets heard.

Anyway, for the first week of January, the electronic versions of most of my books will be on sale, as well as the audio book for The Pure World Comes from certain retailers! It’s my hope in doing so that it’ll be a great kickoff to 2023. Anyway, if you would like to read any of my books at a discounted rate, this would be a great opportunity to do so. So between January 1st and January 8th, go to the retailer of your choice and you’ll find most of my books there on sale. I hope you enjoy reading them, and if you do, please let me know what you think. Positive or negative, I love reader feedback and it helps me out in the long run (as well as other readers).

Well, that’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. This time, I’m serious. Good night and pleasant nightmares!

The original photo that started the Backrooms. At first, not too creepy, but then you realize that there’s no sign of human habitation. And that’s what makes it really terrifying.

Well, I didn’t think I’d get it done this weekend, but I somehow managed to do it. Merry Christmas/Happy Hanukkah/Happy Boxing Day/Happy Holidays to me.

So, as I mentioned in my last article on Ginger Nuts of Horror, I was developing a story based on the Backrooms, an internet urban legend that’s become really popular in the past year or so. For those who don’t know, the Backrooms were inspired by a photo of an empty office decorated with yellow wallpaper and some accompanying text, both posted anonymously. The text went something like this:

“If you’re not careful and you noclip out of reality in the wrong areas, you’ll end up in the Backrooms, where it’s nothing but the stink of old moist carpet, the madness of mono-yellow, the endless background noise of fluorescent lights at maximum hum-buzz, and approximately six hundred million square miles of randomly segmented empty rooms to be trapped in
God save you if you hear something wandering around nearby, because it sure as hell has heard you.”

Spooky, no? The Backrooms has since gone viral, becoming a series of games, YouTube videos, and fan art, among other things. However, there isn’t a lot of prose fiction set in the Backrooms yet, so I thought I’d try to get ahead of the crowd and give it my own original twist while I was at it. After all, it was stuck in my head. Might as well make something with that.

Thus, I have created “It Changes You: A Backrooms Story,” which I have spent basically all of December working on. The story follows a bunch of people, particularly two teen girls named Kat and Ginger, who end up falling into the Backrooms, and what happens to them as they try to find a way out.

This story was a blast to work on for so many reasons. The first half is very strange and psychological, while the second half has body horror, some really gross stuff, and a bit of cosmic horror that was terrifying even to me! I also had a lot of fun making the main characters nerds into anime and Doctor Who like I am, and Kat in particular is a writer who also happens to be aromantic, like me.* I also based some characters loosely on characters from shows I watch, including Law & Order, and let my mind go in some really weird directions with this story, which allowed my characters to take over to a greater degree than I’d ever seen before with a story. Overall, it was just a great experience writing it.

And let’s not forget how much ambience helped me write this one. Prior to Kat and Ginger finding themselves in the Backrooms, I listened to YouTube videos of outdoor crowd ambience to get in the mood. Afterwards, I listened to ten-hour vids of fluorescent buzzing to really help me feel like I was in the Backrooms, and during the final scenes of the story, I listened to creepy horror music to get me in that cosmic horror mood.

And now this story is finished, a novella of decent length of nearly 27,000 words. Yeah, that long. No wonder it took all month to write. Anyway, I’ll let it rest a while before editing it and then sending it to a beta reader to look at. But honestly, I think it has potential. The Backrooms are still not as well known as other internet horror creations like Slender Man or Momo, so there’s plenty of room for this story to make a splash. That’s the hope, anyway.

So, now that this story is done, what’s next for me? Well, I’ll save that for another blog post. Right now, I haven’t had dinner, so I’m going to fill my belly, watch a late movie, and then hit the hay. Until next time, my Followers of Fear, good night, pleasant nightmares, and happy holidays! I hope Krampus didn’t visit you this year. Or maybe I hope he did, I honestly don’t know how many other people love the guy like I do.

*Aromantic means I don’t feel romantic attraction or want to be in a romantic relationship. Like, I’m physically incapable of doing so. It’s a real thing and a discussion for another blog post, but I liked putting it into a story through one of my characters.


One more thing before I forget, my Followers of Fear: in the hopes of starting 2023 off on the right foot, I’m having a special sale on my published stories. The electronic copies of most of my books will be discounted to 99 cents for the first week of January, and the audio book of The Pure World Comes will also be discounted for that first week from certain retailers. If you’re interested, please head to the retailer of your choice after the new year and download a copy.

And if you like what you read, please leave me a review letting me know what you think. Positive or negative, I love reviews, and they help me out in the long run. Not only that, but reviews help other readers figure out whether they want to read a story or not. Pretty sweet, right?

Right, now that’s the real end of this post. Until next time, pleasant nightmares!

I’ve been saying it all weekend, in person and on my other social media: one of the things I love about writing (among others) is getting to add my interests to the stories I write. And not just interests: I get to play with my favorite tropes, character types/archetypes, locations, and so much more.

And I’m not the only one: Stephen King likes to set his stories mostly in Maine or other parts of New England, have characters who are either writers or psychics (with the latter often being children), and just getting into weird ideas like aliens or extradimensional entities. Anne Rice enjoyed placing her stories throughout history, particularly places that are beautiful in some way or another, and telling stories that delve into our cruel but beautiful world (AKA the Savage Garden) via supernatural but very human creatures. Riley Sager enjoys deconstructing and turning classic horror movie tropes on their heads by making them the entire plots of his books, female leads who have some deep trauma in their pasts that affect their present, and a male romantic interest whom they should have no business getting with. HP Lovecraft–wait, let’s not get into him. We know what he liked, as well as what he hated.

As for me, I’ve got a few. For one thing, I like to include ballet and ballerinas in my stories. Part of that is that I love ballet like some people like football, but there’s also a symbolic reason. As I’ve said before, corruption of the innocent is one of my favorite elements of horror and ballerinas, particularly young ballerinas, are a symbol of innocence to me. With that reason, it’s no wonder I tend to add ballet and ballerinas to my stories when I get the chance. Though given that I write horror, I often put those poor dancers through hell. Just look at Maddy Taggert in Rose and Annie Hummel in “The Dedication of the Hight Priestess.”

Though whether or not that pattern holds with the dancer character in Crawler, I’ll let you guess.

I also enjoy putting my nerdy interests into my stories when I can. For example, in my WIP I’m working on now, I’ve included references to anime, fantasy tropes, and Doctor Who, among other things. In that same story, I also modeled two characters after the original detectives in Law & Order and named them after the actors who played them. And with half the story still left to write, I can probably find more room to add those in. It’s a blast when I do!

Some other things I like adding with my work when I can are:

  • setting my stories in Ohio
  • making some of my major characters Jewish like myself
  • noting the tropes I might be using while the character denies that their life is working like a story.
  • references to famous movies and books, especially those in the horror genre
  • my favorite periods in history (such as The Pure World Comes for Victorian England)
  • and powerful, sometimes godlike entities that often come from realms very much unlike our own
I love it when I get a chance to reference this show in a story.

And these are just the ones that I’m aware of. Some things are more noticeable to authors than others. I’m sure as I write and publish more, others will point out things about my writing that I never noticed before but will find very true.

But yeah, this sort of thing is a perk of writing fiction. They say “write what you know,” but what that actually entails is often quite different than what our writing professors often preach. Instead of basing our stories entirely on our own experiences and reality, we weave what we love into our stories and use it to spice up our stories. To make them the stories we would enjoy reading ourselves. And when you release those stories and find people enjoy them and the elements you add in…well, that makes it all the better, doesn’t it?

What are some elements you enjoy putting into your stories when you can, Followers of Fear? Let’s discuss in the comments below.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I mentioned this sort of thing to my folks after seeing Nutcracker last night and on social media after the Doctor Who reference was written into the story last night. After all that, it just felt natural to blog about it. Now, if anyone needs me, I’ll be making dinner and then getting back to my WIP. Until next time, good night, pleasant nightmares, and happy second night of Hanukkah!

Well, it’s actually been two months, one week and four days since the book was published (not that anyone is really counting). But there’s a reason why we’re doing this so late. It’s because something extraordinary is happening today for the anthology.

Actually, there’s a lot happening with this anthology. Quite a lot of amazing things.

So, for those of you who don’t know, That Which Cannot Be Undone, or TWCBU, is an anthology of horror stories where every story is set in Ohio, written by Ohio authors, and revolves around the theme “that which cannot be undone.” It came about because some of my fellow Ohio horror writers and I wanted to see an anthology that emphasized how creepy our state can be. We even formed a small publishing company, Cracked Skull Press, to make it happen. It took a lot of work, a lot of planning, a very hectic crowdfunding campaign, and more marketing than you can shake a stick at, but we got the anthology written, edited, and published.

And as I said, a lot of amazing things have happened since TWCBU came out. We’ve received glowing reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, where the book averages a 4.7 out of 5 and a 4.3 out of 5, respectively. We also got a positive review in the Akron Beacon-Journal, which was pretty cool. A lot of libraries, including my local library, the Columbus Metropolitan Library, have bought copies of TWCBU (for those of us in Columbus, it’s been a big boost to our egos to learn that). But biggest of all is what’s happening with Kirkus Reviews.

Now, if you’re not familiar with Kirkus Reviews, it’s a magazine that has been publishing book reviews for nearly ninety years. Each review is read by an actual human, is honestly written, and is published on their website (if the writer/publisher likes the review). A while back, my friends and I at Cracked Skull Press submitted That Which Cannot Be Undone for a review, and they gave us a glowing one, which you can read here.

Now, getting a positive review from Kirkus is great. As I said, none of the reviewers are paid to say nice things. They give you their honest-to-God opinion when they read your book. However, as I said, Kirkus is a magazine. And while about ten-thousand reviews appear on the website every year, only ten percent of reviews submitted by the smaller presses and indie authors end up in the print magazine.

You might’ve guessed it, but the review for That Which Cannot Be Undone is going to be in the print version of the magazine. Which releases today, no less!

This is a big deal not just for TWCBU, but for everyone involved in its creation, especially the authors! What started out as just a dream among a few authors and a bunch of talk has led to a published book that is going to be read about in a magazine with nationwide circulation among readers and industry professionals alike! It could mean all sorts of doors will open up for the anthology and the people who helped make it happen.

And I’m so incredibly proud to be one of those people involved in the creation of TWCBU.

Of course, I have to be aware that all of you were instrumental in making this happen. Many of you pledged to our crowdfunding campaign, spread the word about the campaign and the book, read it when it came out, and then wrote reviews on blogs and websites, including Amazon and Goodreads. So, we wouldn’t be even celebrating this milestone, let alone all these amazing developments, without your help. And for that, thank you so very much. It means the world to me, the team at Cracked Skull Press, and those of us who sacrificed time, blood, sweat, tears, and more blood to bring TWCBU.

If you would like to check out That Which Cannot Be Undone, I’ll leave links for Amazon and Goodreads down below. You can get yourself a copy right in time for the holidays! And if you like what you read, please be sure to leave a review or a rating letting people know what you think. After all, we can’t know unless you tell us, and it helps us out in the long run.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. Until next time, good night (or is it good morning?) and pleasant nightmares.

That Which Cannot Be Undone: Amazon, Goodreads