Posts Tagged ‘Krampus’

The Wild Hunt, the major inspiration for this story.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That Which Cannot Be Undone: Amazon

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

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

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

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

I’ll give 2021 this, it went by fast. A lot faster than 2020 did, thank God! And, despite how the year started (*cough* treasonous rebellion against the US government *cough*), it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be when I posted back in late 2020.

Okay, real talk. While 2021 wasn’t as difficult as 2020 was, it still had its fair share of troubles. A lot of people still can’t or won’t get vaccinated against COVID-19, leading to the spread and emergence of new variants. Climate change is still an ongoing problem. There’s a big job and housing crisis happening in the country right now. And there’s still a ton of political and social unrest in the US and around the world, among other things.

That being said, 2021 did have some improvements. A lot of people are still alive because of masking and vaccination. In many places, we’re able to eat in restaurants, go to school and work, and even see movies and shows in theaters again (my mom, sister and I are going to the ballet for the first time in nearly two years! We’re so excited). The US didn’t collapse, despite how much we feared it would one way or another back in January. There are new treatments for other diseases alongside COVID-19 being discovered and developed, and new initiatives to protect the environment, combat homelessness, and so much more!

Oh, and we got one hell of a two-part movie adaptation of the Sailor Moon Dream arc back in June. Can’t forget that.

On a personal level, 2021 was mostly very good. I got vaccinated (and boosted as of two weeks). I moved into a bigger apartment. I got to visit some cities I’ve always wanted to visit for my vacation (and learned I’m not a Vegas person in the process). My efforts to save for a home are on track (for the most part; a lot of that savings account went into my vacation). And…what else? Oh yeah. I had my best year of writing and publishing ever!

Very excited about this (and whatever is created as the cover).

Seriously, The Pure World Comes was released and has been getting rave reviews; I published several short stories, novelettes and articles in anthologies and magazines; my collection, Hannah and Other Stories, was accepted for publication; I got to attend a couple of awesome conventions and meet some readers and writers; I wrote and edited so, so much; my friends and I created a small publishing press and are crowdfunding our first anthology (more on that below); and the number of Followers of Fear grew on this blog and my other social media platforms. This has been my most successful year of writing since I first started keeping track!

All that being said, I had my difficult moments this year. Things I didn’t talk about on my blog or other social media. I couldn’t keep my cats due to reasons outside my control and had to return them to the shelter soon after I got them; a driver ran a red light, causing us to get into a crash and forcing me to replace my car (at least the insurance company helped me get a new one); and there were plenty of times I felt frustrated, restless, or lonely because of the isolation we’ve all been going through these past two years. Yeah, all that happened. And it sucked. At least they helped me grow as a person (I think).

So yeah, 2021 was full of good and bad. At least the good outweighed the bad. And that’s making me somewhat hopeful for 2022.

Yeah, there’s still a lot of shit in the world that’s likely going to bring down my opinion of humanity and the world in general. But as I said above, things have gotten better in certain areas and may continue to go that way. And I have a lot of projects on the horizon, like Hannah and the paperback and ebook editions of The Pure World Comes (and maybe an audio book); I’m already signed up for a couple of conventions and expos; I have at least one short story being released next year, and hopefully more on the way; I might be working on an anthology next year (more on that below); and so many ideas I can’t wait to write!

I may even get to work on Crawler, like I planned to.

Speaking of the paperback/ebook for The Pure World Comes, how does this look for cover art.

And who knows what else might happen in 2022? I don’t think I’ll be able to buy a house or get a movie adaptation of my work (though I would love it if either happened), but a lot happened in 2021 that I didn’t expect. Sky’s the limit, and I plan to head there.

Yes, 2021 was difficult in some ways and on many levels, but it was also happy and rewarding, too. And while I know that a lot of problems will continue through to 2022, I’m hopeful for the new year as well. So much more than I was at this time last year.

And I hope that whatever happened in 2021, you’re feeling the same way too.

How did 2021 go for you? How are you feeling about 2022? Anything happen that made you smile or feel helpful? Let’s discuss in the comments below.


On the subject of the small press my friends and I created and our anthology, That Which Cannot Be Undone, the crowdfunding campaign is going quite well. In just six days, we’ve reached 17% of our goal and are working to get the rest. If we make our funding goal, we’ll be able to release a great anthology of horror set in Ohio and written by our fellow Ohio authors. You can learn more about the anthology and the campaign by clicking on the link below.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/crackedskullproject1/that-which-cannot-be-undone-an-ohio-horror-anthology

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’m going to keep the hope alive for the week (and maybe the rest of the year). Until next time, good night, Happy Hanukkah and Krampusnacht (yes, that’s a thing), and pleasant nightmares!

Around November, stores across the world start putting out tinsel and cute little bulbs and emphasize snow and sleighs and candy canes.* At the same time, Christmas music is played from most loudspeakers and many radio stations, one of those songs being “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” by Andy Williams (yeah, I didn’t know who sang that until today, either). And many people would agree. The two months leading up to Christmas, especially December, is the most wonderful time of the year.

However, there is a segment of the population who disagrees with that sentiment. Among that segment are people, and whatever I am, who say Halloween is the most wonderful time of the year. And since I don’t have a singing voice to advocate our views, I’ll do what I do best and write out why the Halloween season, starting anywhere from late August to early September and ending when October becomes November, should be considered the most wonderful time of the year.**

1. Halloween isn’t as cold.¬†Okay, that’s probably not true south of the equator, but at least October isn’t as freezing in most places as it is in November. In fact, in Central Ohio, it can range from the 40’s to the 60’s (we have weird-ass weather). Whereas in December, it’s usually between 30 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit. And that’s in a good year.

2. A stalker isn’t part of the central theme of Halloween.¬†No, I’m not talking about Michael Myers. I’m talking about Santa Claus. I mean, think about it. You have an old guy in a red tracksuit watching you 24/7, but especially right before Christmas, and is judging your behavior. If you “behave,” you get gifts, but if you don’t, you get fossil fuels. Also, he can break into anyone’s home and we have no idea how well his workforce is treated. If this was any other person, they would be hit with investigations and possible criminal charges.

At least with Halloween, a little naughtiness is okay. It’s even encouraged. “Trick or treat,” after all.

3. There’s no need to be “perfect,” “well off,” or “good.” For a lot of people, Christmas is a time to show just how perfect your family is, or how pretty you can make your house look, or how deserving of gifts you are. A lot of people spend more money than they should just to show people they can have the “perfect” Christmas, or suck up their dislike of a disagreeable family member so as not to “ruin” Christmas, or give more to charity because “tis the season.” Shouldn’t the season to help the needy be all year? Not just when gifts are on the horizon?

Though if you are giving to charity during the Christmas season, good on you. Thanks for helping out the less fortunate.

At least with Halloween, you don’t have to go all out. A simple bedsheet with eye holes is a wonderful costume. A bag of penny candy is just fine. And if you gather donations to UNICEF, it’s not because “tis the season,” but just a nice thing to do.

Speaking of costumes…

4. Be whoever you want to be.¬†Halloween is about changing who you are into who you want to be for a day. A princess, a vampire, a soldier, a superhero, it’s all up to you and what costume you buy or create. Or don’t. That’s valid as well. There’s no pressure, just as long as you’re having fun. Want to be a little macabre? Go right ahead. Want to just emphasize the pagan roots of the holiday? Perfectly fine. Just want to have a wild costume party to celebrate fun and monsters and changing your identity for one day? Go get ’em, cowboy! It’s your holiday, and as long as nobody’s getting hurt, you’re answerable to no one.

Again, during Christmas, a lot of people feel like they need to project a certain image of “perfection” or “being good.” Otherwise, your or others might believe you’ve done something wrong, or the season is ruined. I think of the mother from the movie Krampus a lot with this point. She’s dead-set on everything being “perfect” to the point she invites relatives over whom she and her own family don’t really like and comes up with all these complicated foods that nobody really asked for, just to maintain this image of a “perfect” Christmas in her mind.

Has that ever happened with Halloween? As long as you have fun, that’s all that matters.

Jack Skellington had one thing right: Santa Claus is scarier than at first glance.

5. So many reasons to get scared!¬†Of course, for those like me, this is one of the biggest reasons. Horror movies, horror novels, haunted houses, music, costumes, parties and games. At Halloween, there’s so many reasons to get scared and have fun with it. The number of scary things to do at this time of year is endless. Whereas at Christmas, beyond either Black Christmas film, Gremlins and Krampus, there aren’t that many horror-related things associated with the holiday. Maybe a Christmas episode for a horror show, but beyond that, it’ not a holiday to indulge in anything scarier than fossil fuels from everyone’s tracksuit-wearing stalker. And to me, that’s a damn shame.

 

Now, this is just a small fraction of reasons why I prefer the Halloween season to the Christmas season. There’s probably a part two or three that could be written. But tell me, which season do you prefer? Why? Are there are any reasons I missed? Let’s discuss.

Just keep it civil in the comments, folks. Or I will delete your comment and then write you into a story.

*I think. I have no idea what Christmas looks like below the equator beyond the fact that it’s summer down there in December.

**That being said, I’m not trying to put down anyone who thinks Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. I’m not trying to wage war on Christmas or anything like that. I’m just representing an opposing opinion. That’s not the sign of moral decay or an anti-American or anti-Christian persecution. Having a spirited but civil disagreement where both parties respect each other’s views is the sign of a healthy and thriving society. If you feel Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, that’s okay with me. Just let me continue feeling that the Halloween season is the most wonderful time of the year in the meantime.

It’s Friday again, so you know what that means. It’s #FirstLineFriday! And since today is Christmas, I wonder if I should a Christmas edition #FirstLineFriday or be a typical Jew and say, “Bah, humbug.” Hmm…okay, I’ll do a Christmas edition.¬†Just as long as I still get visited by three ghosts.

Alright, for those of you who don’t know the rules of #FirstLineFriday, here they are:

  • You write a post on your own blog titled #FirstLineFriday, hashtag and all.
  • You explain the rules like I’m doing now.
  • You post the first one or two lines of a potential story, a story-in-progress, or a completed or published story.
  • You ask your readers for feedback.

Like I said, I’m doing a Christmas edition. Speaking of which, can you imagine a Christmas story from me? A Jewish horror writer?¬†God, that story would probably not just be scary, it would probably make you rethink the holiday a little.

Well, I do have an idea for a Christmas-themed novelette written down somewhere, and here’s what the opening would probably be like. Enjoy:

Rob swore that if Chrissy didn’t calm down and shut up, he was going to smack her hard enough to knock her into the New Year. And he didn’t give a damn who saw him do it.

Thoughts? Errors? Let’s discuss.

Well, that’s all for now. For all my Christian readers, I wish you a Merry Christmas. For the rest of us…at least we get a really awesome Christmas Special from Doctor Who every year, right? And the movie theaters and Chinese restaurants are open (yeah, that’s a Jewish stereotype that’s actually true), so at least we’re not stuck in the house. Oh, and it’s still very pretty around this time of year, so that’s a plus. See? There’s always a silver lining.

Anyway, have a good weekend my Followers of Fear. I hope to have some good news out this Sunday, so be on the lookout for that. Also be on the lookout for Krampus, I hear he’s punishing bad kids this year.

Until next time!

I’ve been wanting to see this movie for months, and this evening I got the chance. Let me tell you, it was everything I’d hoped it would be.

Now, if you’re unfamiliar with the Krampus story, let me do some background: Krampus is a being whose origin dates back to ancient pagan beliefs, and he’s particularly well-known in central and northern Europe. While St. Nicholas is supposed to reward good children, Krampus would punish the bad children.¬†Normally portrayed as a big, hairy demon with horns, he would leave coal, hit the bad kids with birch twigs, and/or drag the kids to wherever Krampus hangs out the rest of the year, depending on who you ask. On December 6th each year, plenty of cities and towns have Krampus Night, where people dress up as Krampus and have a parade chasing people around the town (sounds like fun).

In this movie, Krampus is summoned when a family loses the Christmas spirit, and proceeds to abduct each one of them to take them to the underworld. And let me tell you, from the very beginning, when you see an entire superstore torn apart by shoppers desperate for Christmas gifts, to the twist ending, Krampus is just excellent. It’s so well-written, with¬†the writers (one of whom is the director and also directed the Halloween cult classic Trick ‘r Treat) taking us through a comedy film that manages to do all the horror tropes but remain funny throughout without being too obvious or self-referential. There’s never a dull moment, keeping your attention glued to the screen no matter what’s happening. The actors are also great, with most of them seeming like they’re either being themselves or playing around rather than doing any real acting, and just adds to the fun of the movie.

My favorite part of the film is the visuals, Krampus goes all out to make this the most visually interesting film ever. Except for the CGI gingerbread monsters (yes, there’s that in this movie), the monsters are all done with make-up and animatronics and actors. To say the least, they are terrifying, but what’s really interesting is that so many of them look like they’re pretending to be people in costumes instead of actual monsters. I’m not sure if that’s part of the humor or if that’s some sort of commentary on the Christmas season, but I like it. And I still would probably hide from these monsters if they showed up at my door on Christmas (thank God I’m Jewish).

Another thing I loved about Krampus is how it finds so many ways to make fun of the Christmas season. From the opening sequence’s critique of the commercialization of the holiday¬†to the family’s interaction’s with each other to showcase how little time we actually devote to being nice and generous around these holidays, this movie finds all sorts of way to point out what’s wrong with the Christmas season. And maybe it’s because as a Jew I find the Christmas hype a little annoying at times, but I just love every second of it. And if you’ve ever been annoyed with how people treat Christmas or act around this time of year, you will love it too.

The one critique I would give this film is that when we finally get a good look at Krampus, he’s actually not that intimidating. He looks like someone took a Father Christmas costume, stuck on horns, lots of fur and chains, and added really bad teeth to the mask, looking more like that old rat Nicodemus from The Secret of NIMH than an actual demon. And maybe that’s because the other monsters are just so scary that the filmmakers decided to make¬†Krampus look a little comical, but I would’ve preferred it they actually made him a bit more terrifying.

Overall though, this is a very fun movie. Is it something that’ll become a staple at Christmastime? Maybe not, but I think that the film has enough going for it that we’ll find good reason to revisit it every December. Especially if we want to remind ourselves how not to act around Christmas, or if we want to imagine certain politicians we dislike getting a visit from Krampus (I can think of about three or four right now).

On a scale of 1 to 5, I’m giving Krampus a 4.6. It’s funny, memorable, and reminds you what this season is really all about. Go check it out and have a good laugh.