Posts Tagged ‘living and life’

On today’s interview, I have a very special guest with an amazing story. Some of you are probably already familiar with her story: earlier this month, fellow Ohio author Chelsea Banning took to Twitter to vent her feelings. She’d been at a book signing for her debut fantasy novel, Of Crowns and Legends, where forty people RSVP’ed that they would attend, but only two arrived. The response from the Writing Community was unexpected and massive, with many authors, including Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, and Joyce Carol Oates offering their own stories of poorly-attended events and offering their own help for Ms. Banning’s career. Stephen King even went out of his way to let his entire Twitter following know about her next event the moment she tweeted about it!

Since then, word about Of Crown and Legends has also spread and has become an Amazon bestseller with plenty of positive reviews (seventy-five at the time of posting). This is hopefully the beginning of a prosperous career, so I thought I’d pick the author’s brains sooner rather than later. So, please welcome Chelsea Banning, author of Of Crowns and Legends, to my blog.

Rami Ungar: Welcome to my blog, Chelsea. Tell us about yourself and your book, Of Crowns and Legends.

CB: My name is Chelsea and I am a Young Adult/Teen Librarian by day and author by night. I am also a self proclaimed geek. I love Marvel, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, cosplay, and Renaissance Faires. My book Of Crowns and Legends follows the twin children King Arthur was never supposed to have 20 years after his death. It is about their struggles to live in his shadow while also dealing with an upcoming war.

RU: I’m something of a big Arthurian legend fan myself, and have even written about it as well. What is it about the mythos that draws you to it?

CB: You know, it’s hard to say. I think it’s as mysterious as who exactly King Arthur is himself. There’s just some sort of magic that draws people into this story.

RU: Please describe your research and writing process for the book.

CB: I pretty much devoured any King Arthur book, movie, and TV show I could get my hands on. As I write, I did a bit of research along the way if I had questions. It’s a high fantasy, so it’s not historically accurate at all, but I did want to incorporate as much of myth as I could from all the different stories.

RU: Can you tell us about the book signing where only two people showed up and what happened later? What was your reaction to that?

CB: Yeah, I had reached out to Pretty Good Books after I saw them have another author signing. I had heard from quite a few of my friends saying they were planning on coming out, and then when the signing happened and only 2 people came, it was a little disheartening. I was still feeling a little bummed the next morning and just wanted to kind of get the feelings off my chest so they wouldn’t keep resonating in my head.

I did not expect it to take off the way it did and when I initially saw it, I was just in pure shock.

RU: Have any of the authors who encouraged and boosted you reached out to you personally? Have any of them read the book? What were their reactions to it?

CB: Brigid Kemmerer offered to help with advice about agents, and my old writing professor, Christopher Barzak, who is an award winning author himself, has been a huge help through all of this!

Joanne Harris offered some advice as well and it’s been so heartwarming. I love the writing community.

RU: So do I. Now, Of Crowns and Legends is currently an Amazon bestseller and averaging a 4.2 out of 5 there at the time of writing this. How does it feel to have found so many readers and getting so much positive feedback?

CB: It feels amazing. That’s every authors’ ultimate dream, isn’t it?

RU: Yes, it is. So, what’s next for you, both in terms of your writing and your career? Also, is there an audio version of your novel in the works? Asking for a friend who is actually me.

CB: I am currently working on book 2, as Of Crowns and Legends will be a trilogy. After completing this, I definitely plan to write more books. And I am working on an audio!

A very fantasy-esque photo of Of Crowns and Legends.

RU: Good to hear. Now, what are some books you’ve read recently and that you would recommend to other readers?

CB: Legendborn and Bloodmarked by Tracy Deonn, Queen and Conqueror by Isabelle Olmo, The Black Witch Chronicles by Laurie Forest, Among the Hunted by Caytlyn Brooke and Akithar’s Greatest Trick by Jason Dorough.

RU: What is some advice you would give to other writers, regardless of background or experience?

CB: Keep writing and don’t give up. Do some research on the writing process and pick out what works for you. Not every writer will be the same, and once you found your rhythm, writing will start to come easier.

RU: Final question. If you were stuck on a desert island for a little while and could only take three books with you for the duration of your stay, what books would you pick?

CB: A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas, Lord of the Rings, and The Other Merlin by Robyn Schneider.

RU: Well thank you for joining me here, Chelsea. I look forward to getting my hands on a copy of Of Crowns and Legends.

If you would like to check out Of Crowns and Legends, you can find it at most retailers where great books are sold. And if you would like to connect with Chelsea Banning, you can find her on her website and on Twitter.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I hope this piqued your interest in the novel (my interest certainly was). Until next time, good night and pleasant nightmares to all!

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

I did warn you this post was coming, didn’t I?

So, as you know, I attend a lot of events as an author, usually selling copies of my books and sometimes doing Tarot card readings. This past year of 2022, I attended more events than ever before, which helped to make this my most successful year as a writer since I started keeping track of how much I earned from the craft. And for 2023, I’m confirmed to be going to quite a few events. And in case anyone can attend, I’m listing all the ones I’ll be at.

If one of these is near you, please come by and say hi. If you can’t come by, find a way to come by anyway, because I would love to see you. Just be aware that with Stoker Con, I won’t be selling books and will be mostly socializing with my fellow writers of the craft. But hey, I think that means we can hang out. Provided you’re not my stalker, of course.

ConFusion 2023
Where: The Novi Sheraton Hotel in Detroit, Michigan
When: January 20th-22nd, 2023 (times vary per day)
Description: Michigan’s longest running science fiction convention, with an emphasis on the written word and publishing.
Website: https://2023.confusionsf.org/

Hidden Marietta Paranormal Expo 2023
Where: Washington County Fairgrounds, Washington County, Ohio (they kind of outgrew the Lafayette Hotel ballrooms!)
When: May 6th, 2023 from 10 AM – 4 PM
Description: One of the most awesome paranormal conventions in Ohio.
Website: https://www.hiddenmarietta.com/paranormal-expo

ParaPsyCon 2023
Where: The Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, Ohio
When: May 20th-21st, 2023 (times vary per day)
Description: The most famous paranormal convention in Ohio, held in one of the most haunted spots in Ohio (as well as the filming location for the Shawshank Redemption).
Website: https://www.parapsycon.com/

Canal Town Book Festival
Where: Downtown Dover Ohio, at the corner of Wooster Ave and 3rd St.
When: May 27th, 20223 from 10 AM – 3 PM
Description: Part of the Canal Dover Festival, this is a great opportunity to meet local Ohio authors and discover new books
Website: http://www.doverlibrary.org/about-2/canal-town-book-festival/

Stoker Con 2023
Where: The Sheraton Pittsburgh Hotel at Station Square in Pittsburgh, PA
When: June 15th-18th, 2023
Description: The premier event for horror writers and fans in general. It’ll be my first time attending.
Website: https://www.stokercon2023.com/

And that’s what we have on the calendar so far. I’m going to have a busy May!

Not only that, but there are likely going to be other events to attend throughout the year. I’m hoping to return to Mystics & Marvels and the Columbus Witches’ Ball later in the year, and there are others I’m waiting to hear about. I’ll keep you posted on those.

And, like this past year, I’ll only post about these events when I have new ones on the calendar or there’s one rapidly approaching that I want to remind you of.

Anyway, I hope you’re able to join me at some of these events and that we get to talk. And if not, you can continue to support me by reading my books and leaving reviews online so I know what you thought. In fact, that’s one of the best ways to support your favorite authors. And I hope I rank somewhere close to your favorites.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’ll see you very soon. Until next time, though, good night and pleasant nightmares.

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 have some exciting stories on the way, just you wait and see.

Today’s December 1st, 2022, and it’s almost midnight as I’m finishing this post. Just over 29 days till 2022 is over. And yesterday, November 30th, 2022, close to 11 PM, I finished a new novelette. I wanted to blog about it, but it was getting late and I had to go into the office today, so I went to bed instead.

Worked out in the end though, because not only do I get to talk about this new story, but also what I’m going to work on next, and maybe a third or fourth thing as well.

Benefit of having a blog: you can write whatever you want to write (so long as it doesn’t break any laws or causes harm to others or yourself, of course).

So, my latest story is something I’ve been working on all November and finished last night in a mad dash to get it done by a self-imposed deadline of 12:00 December 1st. It’s called “Forever Young,” and follows the career of an actress who never ages past childhood. It’s currently a little over thirteen-thousand words, and I swear there’s a good story somewhere in there. It’s just lost in a rough draft that probably has too much in it or not enough. A lot of ideas that just need someone to sift through them and cut the gold from the shit.

Thankfully, a friend and a fellow writer agreed to beta read and critique it for me, so hopefully they can give me some idea on how to get it edited up to snuff. I’m sure it’ll take a lot of edits and maybe some rewrites, but I like and believe in this story too much (and I’ve spent too much time on it) to give up on it. With any luck, I’ll be able to make it into a story that people might enjoy and find a little thrilling.

So, what’s next? Well, I spent last month trying to write a novelette. I think I’ll spend this month trying to write a novella.

If you read my article on Ginger Nuts of Horror last month, you saw that I’m developing a story based around the Backrooms, an Internet-born urban legend about an endless maze of empty office hallways that stretch on for miles and are inhabited by entities that resemble nothing close to natural. At least, not as we define it. Anyway, I have the outline for that story ready and I’ve already written about eleven hundred words, so I’m going to try to finish this story by 11:59 PM, January 2nd, 2023. That’s when I’ll likely start working on Hannah and Other Stories again and will only be doing other stuff in-between edits of stories in the collection.

But hey, I’m looking forward to the challenge. I’m very excited for this story and the possibility of making my own unique twist on the Backrooms mythos that has been created. The Backrooms are a fascinating idea, very psychological and uncanny valley in their strange nature, and I want to further highlight how strange the space is by dropping some people in there and making them deal with the impossibility of the space, as well as what is capable of happening there.

Well, despite what I wrote at the beginning of the post, I don’t have a third or fourth thing to talk about. I guess I just wanted to talk about what I wrote last month and what I got on deck next. But hey, I had fun doing that, so I guess it’s cool. Like writing stories, as long as I’m writing what I enjoy, that’s all that really matters.

That, and I look forward to sharing with you all these strange and macabre stories I have coming down the pipeline. Stay tuned.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. As the year winds down, I’ll be back with thoughts on the past year, as well as plans for the upcoming year. And if any good news pops up, I’ll be sure to let you all know.

Until next time, good night and pleasant nightmares.

If you’ve been paying attention to the news lately, you may be aware that billionaire Elon Musk bought Twitter and has been turning it from a somewhat tolerable landscape to a freaking hellhole. I’m not going to go into details, because you can read all that elsewhere, but suffice to say, a lot of people have been wondering if now is a good time to get off Twitter and find a new platform to interact with that does the same thing as Twitter. For us writers, we’ve been looking for a new platform where we can talk about writing and maybe avoid the vitriol that seems to have been given free reign on Twitter these days.

One of those platforms is called Hive Social, which I’ve seen a lot of posts about on both Twitter and Facebook this past week. It seemed like a good platform, a lot of writers and horror types I’m connected with were trying it out, and I’m usually slow on new social media trends and wanted to not be the last again, so I decided to give it a try yesterday. Besides, the platform’s website says it doesn’t tolerate hate speech or any other sort of awful behavior, which honestly appeals to me in the wake of certain decisions by Twitter’s new leader.

So, now I have an account on Hive. I’ve gotten about forty-something followers, posted a couple of times, and have liked other people’s posts as well. How does it compare to Twitter?

Well, it does have some room to improve. The app is slow to load or register likes at times, and the search engine feature doesn’t always bring you to the person you’re looking for, even when you type their full name in. You can’t access the app from the laptop just yet, only your mobile devices, and occasionally the app just shuts itself off mid-use. And you can’t leave a link so people can directly go to your page on the platform.

However, this may be because of its sudden popularity. I doubt anyone running the app could have foreseen so many people migrating over to Hive as Twitter continues to implode, so they’re probably scrambling to make sure the app is at least somewhat able to handle all these people. In fact, I did see a post from the app’s company asking people to be patient as they try and deal with the new influx of users.

So, there is a chance this app could improve as time goes on. Of course, there’s also a chance that it won’t replace Twitter and that we’ll stay on there. Or maybe we’ll go off both apps and find something else. It’s hard to tell the future. All we know is that Twitter might not be a good place to stay for the foreseeable future and that we may not be able to stay on there for much longer.

In the meantime, I’ll keep trying both apps for a while before I make any final decisions, one way or another. And while I can’t leave a link to my page on Hive, I can leave links to my other social media (though you can also look to the left and see them listed there). If you want to check me out on any of these platforms, please do. And if you end up subscribing, I hope you and I will have plenty of wonderful interactions on these other apps.

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

YouTube


One more thing before I sign off tonight, my Followers of Fear: I found out today that my short story “The Dedication of the High Priestess,” which combines ballet with the figure of the King in Yellow, will be read aloud on the Tales to Terrify podcast this Friday. I’m so excited for you all to experience this story! I’m quite proud of it and I really hope you enjoy it. I’ll be sure to post a link as soon as it’s out.

The RMS Queen Mary, one of the locations I would like to visit someday.

So I may be super busy these days writing a hundred different projects while also working a day job, but there’s one thing I can always make time for: looking up haunted places I want to investigate. And as expected, I have ten more I want to visit and even investigate. And some of them are even close! I hope that means I can get into them eventually.

Anyway, let’s talk about some haunted locations I will want to visit, investigate, and eventually force one of you to join me for a night of terrifying occurrences. Yes, I might kidnap one of you, Followers of Fear. You know I’m capable of it.

Marsh’s Library, Dublin, Ireland
Marsh’s Library was the first public library in Ireland, and dates back 300 years. From what I hear, folks like Bram Stoker and James Joyce may have spent time researching there and going through its over 25,000 volumes and manuscripts, some dating back centuries! Perhaps some of those books have spirits attached to them. What is known is that there are rumors that the library is haunted by its founder, Archbishop Narcissus Marsh, who is buried near the library. According to one legend, his beloved niece eloped and left a note for him in one of the books, so he’s searching for it.
Seems a dumb reason to haunt a library, but that’s just the one legend I was able to find. Perhaps there are other stories behind it. Other ghosts. Which leads me to ask: when can I check in?

Central Ohio Fire Museum, Columbus, Ohio
This one’s really close to me. Like, just a few miles away! Originally a working fire station until 1982, the building was turned into a museum by some firefighters wanting to preserve the history of firefighting. Today, it’s an educational center that teaches about fire safety and preserves the history of the profession in Ohio. However, there are some spooky happenings in that building as well: ghostly thoroughbred horses from the days before fire engines had engines are said to haunt the building, as does a dead fire captain who likes to take inventory. There are also reports of singing coming from nowhere.
I don’t think this place is open to ghost hunts. Still, if I could, I would go.

Pine Street Saloon, Paso Robles, California
The Pine Street Saloon is one of the oldest buildings in the area, having been around since the 1800s and used for various kinds of businesses. Today, it’s a working bar that’s open to the public and that has its fair share of spooky ghosts hanging around. I wouldn’t mind getting out the dowsing rods and doing a spirit session while also drinking a pint or two

Satan’s Hollow, Cincinnati, Ohio
Supposedly there’s a storm drain in the Blue Ash neighborhood of Cincinnati that’s supposedly a portal to Hell. If you manage to find it and go inside, you’ll hear strange noises, ghostly voices, and even demonic growls. Videos online taken in the storm drain often have creepy voices that will deliver shivers to any viewer! Sadly, this place is on private property and going there means you’re trespassing. Apparently the police have to go there multiple times a year because of trespassing calls, especially around Halloween. Makes you feel sorry for the landowners, who are probably lovely people.
Still, it would be cool to investigate. Just make sure to bring some sage with you before you go.

The Yellow House, Six Flags Over Arlington, Texas
In Texas long ago, a little girl named Annie was found dead in a creek. Years later, the Six Flags company built Six Flags Over Arlington, and the land where that creek used to be became part of the park. Annie is sometimes seen around the park, but is well-known to stay at the Yellow House, a yellow building/concession stand near the entrance of the roller coaster the Texas Giant. From what I hear, a paranormal group investigated the building and did get some recordings from Annie, who is generally a kind and mischievous spirit.
I’m not much for theme parks these days (too much standing around in line in the hot summer sun), but if I could investigate the park one night, I’d make the trip.

Sylvan Beach Amusement Park, Sylvan Beach, New York
Another amusement park, but this one is supposedly haunted all over the place, and the park even acknowledges its history of hauntings with ghost tours. Supposedly, people who love the park so much in life stay behind after death just to enjoy the rides and games for all eternity. I’d be willing to come by after hours to check this place out.

Grand Hotel, Mackinac Island, Michigan
The Grand Hotel is one of Michigan’s most beautiful resorts! Built in the 19th century, it’s a lovely building with great architecture and some lovely golf courses, stables, dining facilities and other attractions. However, there’s a dark history to the area. The island used to be home to both Native Americans and an Army fort, so there were a lot of deaths over the years. Supposedly, so many skeletons were found during construction, the construction crew gave up trying to excavate them all and just built over them. Stories of spirits haunting the place include a woman in Victorian clothing traipsing through the halls and climbing into beds at night, a man with a top hat smoking a cigar in the piano lounge, and a malevolent shadow figure with red eyes that was once spotted in the theater.
I don’t know if they lean into their haunted history at all, but if they do, invite me over. I want to find some spooks!

Cachtice Castle, Slovakia
Ever heard of Elizabeth Bathory? For those of you who haven’t, she was a Hungarian noblewoman who was accused of killing many young girls and women for the sadistic pleasure of it. Some legends even claim she bathed in the blood of her victims as part of a macabre beauty regimen (likely false, as it was first recorded a century after Bathory’s death and ascribes a very stereotypical reason for the murders. I guess for some people, women being sadistic for sadism’s sake is just too ludicrous).
Nowadays, there’s a lot of doubt that Bathory did commit those murders, or as many as is popularly rumored. Instead, she may have been the victim of a witch hunt, accused of heinous crimes because she was a powerful landowning woman whom even the King of Hungary owed a favor to. God forbid they just let a woman be independent and capable and even a national leader!
But even if the stories are lies, the castle where she supposedly committed those crimes is still around. Whether or not it’s the sight of terrible horrors, it’s probably picked up a ghost or two. Maybe even Elizabeth Bathory’s ghost. Who wants to visit with me?

Queen Mary, Long Beach, California
A former British ocean liner, the Queen Mary was used as a commercial passenger ship and, during WWII, a naval troopship. In 1967, it was retired and moored in Long Beach, California, where the city purchased it and converted it into a hotel, museum and tourist attraction. Given its history, it’s not surprising that it’s gained a reputation for being haunted. One stateroom is home to the spirit of a man who was allegedly murdered, and a former third-class cabin is said to be, by the Queen Mary’s own admission, “notoriously haunted.” I want to go there, I want to investigate, and I want to write a story based in the hotel. Who’s with me?

Catalina Casino, Catalina, California
A lot of California locations this time around, isn’t there? Anyway, this isn’t a gambling establishment, but instead comes from the original Spanish word for casino, “gathering place.” Indeed, the casino has a theater and a ballroom, and is where the residents of Catalina Island are supposed to head to when disaster strikes. However, the place is filled with a lot of spirits. A very aggressive woman supposedly haunts one of the lounges, spirits are sometimes heard knocking around the theater, and the casino once held a museum inside featuring skeletons of the local natives, which probably contributed to the hauntings.
Anyone want to make a trip out to California?


That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I haven’t had anything really worth blogging about lately, so I’m glad I was able to at least get together a list of haunted locations to visit at the right time and post about it. But tell me, have you been to any of these places? Are there any I should add to my list for next time? Do you plan to become a ghost after you die, or do you have other plans? Let’s discuss.

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

I don’t know how writers who write in silence do it. Unless I’m trying to sleep, I absolutely hate silence. I’m not saying I need noise all the time. That’s part of the reason I moved out of my old apartment complex: I couldn’t stand the noise my neighbors were always making and the lack of support from management to quiet the noise. But it’s rare when I’m comfortable with complete quiet and I’m not trying to sleep.

And there are writers who are able to write in silence. Hell, some even need it!

Me? I need something in the background. Especially when I write. It’s rare that I can write in silence. If I do, my brain automatically starts playing something on loop in my head just to make up for the silence. So, when I write, I need to listen to something when I work. And it has to be the right sort of thing for the project I’m working on. Otherwise, I find it hard to concentrate and get any words down on paper.

Sometimes, this is easy to do. Usually I can put on 80s music or the soundtracks of my favorite musicals and just write, no matter the story. No joke, I wrote The Pure World Comes entirely to my favorite hits of the 1980s. Or I listen to ASMR videos on YouTube, especially if I’m blogging. (And if you don’t know what ASMR is, I’m not going to explain it here. Just know, I find it very relaxing when done right.) And when I’m editing, I can put on music, or maybe have an anime on in the background, and just get it done.

Other times, it has to be very specific, or I can’t work at all. For my novel Toyland, I needed to listen to the Moulin Rouge soundtrack (Broadway musical based on the movie, not the movie itself) for nearly the entire writing process. Until the final few chapters, I could not write without that soundtrack. It only occurred to me ages later that my mind probably chose that album subconsciously because, like Toyland, both plots involve a story within a story. I might need to listen to that soundtrack again when I do one more round of editing on it and then try to find a publisher.

I’m still trying to nail down what works best for Crawler. Some days I’m in the mood for 80s music, other days I’m in the mood for a musical soundtrack. Once I even listened to the Mad Max: Fury Road soundtrack just because it was so epic I couldn’t help but write to it!

Thankfully, for the two projects I’m working on while I’m break from Crawler and before getting back to editing Hannah, identifying the background sound I need was easy. For one project, which involves a very unique child actress, I’m listening to the Phantom of the Opera soundtrack. Makes sense: both involve people in the fine arts who are not what they seem. And the other, which involves my own unique take on a recent piece of internet folklore, will involve ambient noise videos on YouTube. I already got the first part of the story done while listening to a video of noises at an outdoor mall (guess where that scene took place?).

It’s lucky that I was able to figure those out so quickly. Otherwise, I might not be able to write a single word!

Still, I was able to identify what I will (likely) need, so I’m glad for that. I have good feelings about these stories and I look forward to writing them. And I’ll thankfully have the right sounds to listen to them while I do.

Do you listen to music while you write? Do you need it or can you do without it? What do you prefer to listen to?

And if you prefer silence, why? How are you able to write like that? Let’s discuss.

In truth, I should have posted this update last night. That’s when I finished the latest chapter of the novel. But it was nearly eleven at night, and I had to go into the office this morning, so I put it off till now. Would have been written earlier in the day, but I had to de-stress from work and relieve my election related anxiety.

So, as many of you know, I’ve been working on-and-off on a new novel, a mummy novel tentatively called Crawler. The story was inspired by that god-awful movie with Tom Cruise that came out in 2017. Or maybe I should say it’s my attempt to show the world (and maybe Universal) how to write a decent mummy story. We’ll hopefully see someday whether or not I’m successful in that department.

Anyway, I’ve been writing four chapters at a time, then working on other, shorter projects that I can submit to other publishers. And if you’ve guessed that I’m going to post an update every four chapters, you’re completely right. In fact, the chapter I finished last night was Chapter 8. And if I’m being honest, these past four chapters have been among my favorites to work on so far.

Yeah, I know. How can I have favorites this early in the process? The novel is barely a quarter written! And you’d be right. But these chapters have some (what I think is) great content. Chapters 5 and 8 have some nice, slow character development and bonding that I really enjoyed writing. I really got to showcase the forming and established bonds between these characters, which is something I feel like I haven’t done enough of in my previous novels.

And Chapters 6 and 7 did plenty to establish the mystery and terror of the story. Chapter 7 in particular, I feel, was quite creepy and is a nice little opener for the horror that the readers will eventually get to experience. I’m trying to approach the idea of the mummy as a threat in a way that hasn’t been done before, so seeing the initial results with these initial chapters is encouraging to me and makes me think I’m onto something here.

And when I get back to this novel, I’ll be diving right back into the horror and seeing if my idea goes anywhere (no spoiler, but Chapter 9 is going to be something else). At the moment, the novel is currently 133 pages (regular MS Word pages, double-spaced, 12-point Times New Roman font) and 37,575 words. It’s going to be one hell of a Stephen King doorstopper when it’s done. And hopefully just as terrifying. Or if not terrifying, hopefully just as interesting.

In the meantime, however, I’ll be working on a couple of (hopefully) shorter works, and finally editing that story where I put some neo-Nazis through the hell they deserve. All these stories have a common theme to them, so I think they might work well together if I wanted to create a new collection or something. Of course, we’ll have to wait and see what I end up writing, if it’s any good and if I think a collection is the best way to go with these stories.

But first, I’ll need to write and edit them, of course! And I look forward to every moment of it.

Well, that’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I need to head to bed. So, until next time, good night, pleasant nightmares, and may God have mercy on all our souls! Trust me, there’s a good chance we’re going to need it.

Where did the month go? How are we already in November? And why were stores putting up Christmas decorations before Halloween had even passed? I know it’s a big holiday, but come on! At least wait till November before you put that stuff up!

Anyway, onto why you’re all here. As many of you know, I co-founded a small publishing company called Cracked Skull Press with some of my fellow Ohio horror writers, and we released our first anthology, That Which Cannot Be Undone, on October 4th. The anthology is written entirely by Ohio authors, and each story is set in Ohio, as well as revolving around the theme “that which cannot be undone.”

Obviously, I have a story in the anthology, “Is Anyone There?” which takes place in the Ohio State Reformatory, one of the most haunted locations in America and one of my favorite places in the world. So far, I’m getting some good feedback on it.

I’ve said it before, but it’s very exciting for all of us writers to have this anthology out. And we’ve been doing our best to make sure as many people as possible check it out. We just had a release party at a restaurant in Columbus the other day (one of the waiters actually bought a book off us), and this past weekend, some of Cracked Skull Press and the other writers showed up at a local writing-related establishment for an event (I was at the ballet). Thanks to all this work, more people than ever are reading the anthology, and we’re so glad they are.

Not only that, but we’ve had some amazing reviews. The Akron Beacon-Journal from Akron, Ohio gave the book a very positive review, as did Kirkus Reviews! And from what I hear, more publications are going to release reviews of TWCBU soon! Imagine, so many publications are going to have reviews of this book in it! The mind boggles.

Not to mention all the love we’ve gotten from readers on Amazon and Goodreads. Here are what people are saying:

A gem. I’m an avid reader and writer and new to the horror genre. This was a great opportunity to explore a bunch of creative and very different authors. I snickered, I laughed, I almost cried from the beauty of several scenes. I lost my breath at several twists. I grinned at several regional legends brought to life. I’ve found a new genre.

Justin Reynolds, Goodreads

This book contains 18 stories of the deranged, mysterious, spooky, and disturbed. These stories all take place somewhere in Ohio and include a little bit for everyone. There’s a possible vampire baby, a dead girl in the snow, gender-shifting, an underwater town, death by lawnmower, a reanimated body, a FrankenDaddy, and some insurance revenge.

The stories are so creative and well-written that I found myself just sinking into the book until I found myself at the last page. This speaks to the excellent editing, as well, because I am easily distracted by grammar errors, misspellings, duplicated words, etc. This book was so well edited, I remember thinking about it while I read, amazed I hadn’t encountered an error. A perfect addition to your spooky season reads! Just released and ready for you to grab now on Amazon!

The Bookish Abyss, Amazon

What a great idea for a horror anthology. These eighteen stories, all set in Ohio, weave different aspects of the state into their terrifying narratives. From the cities of Cleveland and Columbus, to an old prison, a drowned town, an abandoned winery, and many other natural and notable locations, these stories place Ohio front and centre on the map of horror landscapes…A frightening anthology that has ensured if I ever visit Ohio, I will be very afraid.

Iseult Murphy, Author of “All of Me,” Goodreads

Not only are people loving it, but some are discovering the horror genre for the first time and loving it because of TWCBU! Can you imagine? A lot of people say Stephen King or Anne Rice or Shirley Jackson or other major authors were their introduction to horror. Hell, King is why I’m writing horror today! And now something I’m part of is bringing new fans to the genre. It’s an honor to be part of this project.

If you’re interested in this book, I’ll leave links below. You’ll find stories about serial killers, underwater towns, ghosts, people haunted by more than ghosts, and so much more, so why not dive in and see what sort of stories you’ll come across? Perhaps something will be your new favorite.

And if you do read it, be sure to leave a review. Reviews help bring visibility to the book and allow other readers to figure out whether or not a book might be up their alley. So please be sure to share your thoughts when you’re done.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’ll be back with more to post soon. Until then, happy reading, pleasant nightmares, and 364 days till the next Halloween. I wonder what horrors will occur in the meantime?

That Which Cannot Be Undone: Amazon, Goodreads