Posts Tagged ‘novel’

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.

Has it really been six months since The Pure World Comes was released on paperback and ebook (and three months since it was released on audio book)? Maybe it’s because I moved into a condo and the entire month of October happened, and just a lot of other stuff occurred, but yeah. It’s been six months. And I have to say, it’s been nice to hear that people are enjoying it.

So, if you’re new here, then first off, hi! How are you? What’s your favorite horror novel and horror movie? If you don’t have one, better fix that soon.

Second off, The Pure World Comes, or TPWC, is a Gothic horror novel I wrote in 2020. It was first licensed on an app in 2021, and was officially released on May 10th, 2022. I often describe the novel as the love-child of Frankenstein and Crimson Peak, which is a pretty apt description. It follows Shirley Dobbins, a maid living in Victorian England who goes to work at the estate of the Baronet Hunting after the deaths of her previous employers. However, strange occurrences happen at the baronet’s estate, the Hunting Lodge, and some of them seem quite deadly. Does it have anything to do with the baronet’s research into a fringe science that might cure humanity’s imperfections? Shirley will find out, and her life will change along the way.

Did that catch your attention? It tends to do so. And thanks to that description, I’ve been lucky to get plenty of readers in the past six months. And some of them even leave reviews. Here’s what people are saying:

I love it when I’m pleasantly surprised by a book. Rami Ungar is not a debut author, (according to the back of the book, this is his fourth novel), but his work is new to me and so I went in not knowing what to expect. What I got was a short novel so perfectly Victorian and utterly Gothic that it made my old-fashioned self giddy as a schoolgirl…Mixing classic-romantic Victorian elements with early science-fiction, tales of Jack the Ripper/Spring-Heeled Jack, and a bit of the occult, this book gives the reader a truly chilling and also slightly fun little Gothic adventure.

Heather Miller, author of “Tales My Grandmother Told Me,” Amazon

In Victorian England, Shirley Dobbins rises from lowly maid to competent scientist. The problem is, her tutor and employer is a mad scientist, and his mansion is haunted. I loved the cast Ungar put together, young to old, rich and poor, lower class and upper class, and most dramatically, kind hearted and evil. The mad scientist’s haunted mansion is a character, too, with its secret laboratory and portals and rats and a haunted toilet…Gothic horror fans will love The Pure World Comes. Ungar keeps getting better and better. He has become an auto-buy author for me.

Priscilla Bettis, author of “Dog Meat,” Goodreads

Really enjoyed this! Been a while since I’ve read a Gothic tale and it did not disappoint. I love the twists that it took!

Pax Panic, YouTuber, Goodreads

And on Audible, the audio book recently got its first couple of reviews. Here’s what they said:

Very interesting story that brings together the evolution of science and some history too. I especially liked the strong female heroine.

Arthur Siegal, Audible US

Great story. Loved the main character. The narrator does a great job, especially with the voices.

Iseult Murphy, author of “All of Me,” Audible UK

High praise. And all these reviews have led to TPWC to receive ratings of 4 and up on Amazon, Goodreads and Audible. It makes me really happy that so many people enjoyed the story and thought it was good. And that’s why, even as I work on my other projects, I’m working hard to get this book into as many hands as possible. I want people to enjoy this work of Gothic horror and tell as many others about it as they can, so those people can enjoy it too.

If you’re interested in reading The Pure World Comes, I’ll leave all the links I can down below. And if you like what you read, please leave a review. Not only do I leave reader feedback, but your thoughts help other readers figure out whether or not they should check out the book.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I hope you’re having a good week, no matter what direction election week has gone. Until next time, good night, happy reading and pleasant nightmares.

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

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.

I wanted to post something before Halloween, but there wasn’t any one particular topic I was passionate enough to write an entire blog post about. So instead, I thought I’d do an update post, because there’s a lot going on right now and you should know about it. How much is going on? Well, let’s take a look and find out.

Crawler and Toyland

So, for my mummy novel with the tentative name of Crawler, I’m making steady progress in it. I’m currently writing Chapter Seven and think I could get to Chapter Eight by the end of the week. Hell, I might finish it by the end of the week, if life is kind! (It’s usually not, but one can hope, right?). After that, I’ll take another break to work on shorter works (more on that below), and then get straight to Chapters 9-12. It may take longer than usual, but I will get this novel done eventually.

As for Toyland, I hope to do another draft of it before sending it out to publishers. I feel that this Gothic novel of a boarding school under attack by a ghost obsessed with a children’s novel has a lot of potential and I want people to read it. However, I want to get Hannah and Other Stories out of the way before I tackle that novel again (there’s a good reason why Hannah needs to be done first, but I can’t tell you that just yet). So hope Hannah gets released soon.

Hannah and Other Stories

Speaking of Hannah, BSC Publishing and I are looking to get that out sometime in 2023. Currently, the publisher is starting its winter vacation a month early in November rather than December, so I’m getting a little break from Hannah to work on more of my other projects. However, once we hit January, it’ll be a furious pace to wrap up the edits on the book and get it ready for publication. I can’t wait to share with you this terrifying collection of short stories featuring ghosts, budding serial killers, and meat-eating horses, among other things, so keep an eye out for news after the new year.

Other Shorter Works

As many of you know, I have one more short story, “The Dedication of the High Priestess,” scheduled to come out before the end of the year. Literally: Tales to Terrify, the podcast that will be reading the story aloud on their show, said it will come out before the end of the year. And with 61 days left, there’s only so much year left, so I should be getting news on that any day now. When I get that news, I will let you know.

I will also, of course, let you know the moment I hear of any other stories of mine getting published.

In the meantime, I plan to do some writing and editing on some other stories over November and December, once I finish Chapter Eight of Crawler. For one thing, I plan to finally edit They Sleep Within the Rock, the novella I wrote last winter where I terrorize neo-Nazis. I have no idea why I put it off for so long, but I have and I want to give it some edits so I can maybe find it a home. I also want to write some more novelettes and novellas that I’ve been feeling passionate about working on for some time. A lot of these stories center around common themes, so I think I would not only enjoy writing them, but maybe putting them into a collection.

I may also write a short story involving bugs, but I’m not sure if I want to. Yeah, there’s an anthology I could submit it to, but I prefer to write stories that I feel I would enjoy writing rather than what I think would get accepted or make some money for me. We’ll see how I feel after I finish those chapters of Crawler.

Anything Else?

Quite a bit, actually. Let’s talk about it.

  • Events: This coming Saturday, I’ll be operating a booth at the Columbus Witches’ Ball. This is an awesome event featuring plenty of paranormal enthusiasts, psychics and mediums, authors, and so much more. Plus, plenty of dancing and ritual (or so I’m told). I’ll be selling books and doing Tarot readings there, so I hope you can stop by. The event is November 5th, 2022 from 6 PM – 11 PM at the Greater Columbus Convention Center. I’m not sure you can get tickets at the door, but I know you can buy them from Eventbrite by following this link.
    In addition, I’m already signed up for events in 2023! I’ll be making reappearances at Hidden Marietta Paranormal Expo (which will be in May this year and in a bigger venue) and at ParaPsyCon. I’ve also put down a deposit for another booth at Mystics & Marvels and am waiting for confirmation on a few other events, so I’ll keep you posted as those come up.
    And, of course, I’ll be at StokerCon in Pennsylvania in June, so if any of you are planning to be there, I really hope I get to see you and give you a great big hug (if you feel comfortable with it).
  • I saw Dracula the ballet yesterday. As you probably know by now, I’m a huge ballet fan, and I’ve long held that ballet can be a great venue to tell horror stories. I got to see that in action yesterday when my local company BalletMet performed Dracula, which was as amazing and as horrifying as I could have hoped. It was scary, really delved into the themes of Victorian terror regarding sexuality and anything considered aberrant through its choreography, and even managed to surprise me at times, especially with the conclusion. If I ever get a chance to see it again, I will.
    And, of course, if there are any other horror ballets, I would love to see those too. Hell, I have a few ideas for ballets that are both horror and otherwise, so if any companies would like to collaborate, email me. Let’s work together! I’m easy to get along with, and I don’t cost an arm and a leg, so why not?
  • New YouTube video. I’m going to try to post a new video to YouTube tomorrow before my Halloween festivities really get underway (having a friend over for pizza, drinks and scary movies. I can’t wait!). If I can’t, I’ll get it out as soon as possible. In the meantime, please check out and consider subscribing to my YouTube channel while you wait. You can also check out my other social media by clicking on the widgets on the right.
So looking forward to putting this bad boy out on the stoop tomorrow.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. As usual with these sorts of posts, I’ll post links to my published works down below in case you want to support me that way or if you’re just looking for something spooky to read. Until next time, good night, pleasant nightmares, and one day till Halloween! Get ready to hop around a bonfire in costume with terrifying creatures from the other side!

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.

What are some of the first things you think of when it comes to Stephen King’s IT? Is it Georgie being dragged down the drain by Pennywise the clown? The fortune cookies filled with eyeballs and mutated bugs? The final battle with Pennywise in his lair? That one scene that dare not be spoken?

I’m sure all these and more occur to you, because they’re significant plot points and they carry a whole lot of scares.* What you might not think about are the quieter moments in the story: the building of the dam in the Barrens, or Ben, Beverly and Richie going to see a movie together, or Bill going for a ride on his old bike Silver after not having seen it for over a quarter of a century. They’re the quieter moments of the story, the moments that allow you to get to know the characters better and see them about their daily lives. And they’re just as important as the scarier parts of the story.

I’ve been thinking of these moments more and more lately, because I just wrote an entire chapter for Crawler, my mummy novel-in-progress, that was a quiet moment. In it, two of the characters, one of whom is in mourning over a sudden loss, bond with each other over the course of a lazy afternoon. Nothing scary happens, no mentions of the horrors driving the plot take place, and there’s no ground laying or foreshadowing for future scares. It’s just a sweet, quiet scene where two characters form a relationship.

Honestly, I’m not used to writing those sorts of scenes. In shorter works, every word has to be necessary so the story can fit within a word count. There’s no room for quiet scenes showing the creation or deepening of bonds, getting to know a character better, or seeing them grow. You need that room to create a short story that packs a punch, especially for horror stories. And with my novels, every chapter and scene was necessary to the plot in some way, furthering the story, foreshadowing future plot points, or scaring the shit out of the reader in some way. Writing a scene over the course of two or three days that was just exploring the budding relationship between two characters, was new for me. And I feel like I learned a lot while doing it.

Which is good, because other writers, not just King, include those quieter moments throughout the books. Ever wonder why Harry Potter includes Quidditch matches in the books? Because they’re fun, normal things a wizard would learn in school and serve as breaks from the intrigue of whatever was happening any year at Hogwarts.

Now, having these scenes aren’t always necessary for every story. But it can be a good idea to include them if you need an organic way to flesh out your characters, deepen their relationships, or show them growing. Especially you can’t think of any way to insert such moments into the more essential scenes, like Georgie getting dragged into the sewers or whatever.

In any case, I’ll probably write a few more of these scenes in Crawler, as it’s a very character-focused story, so I’ll get plenty of opportunities to practice. Perhaps afterwards, I’ll be able to write a post about writing quiet scenes and writing them well. And maybe when I do, I’ll write it with a quiet satisfaction.

*Except that one scene, I know, but we’re not going to talk about it, are we?


One more thing, my Followers of Fear: this Wednesday at 4-6 PM EST, I’ll be joining fellow horror writers Heather Miller and Daemon Manx on the podcast “What’s Write For Me” with Dellani Oakes. We’ll be recording live, so you’re encouraged to join us live by following this link, and we’ll be discussing and even reading from our scariest works, so I hope you’ll join us. See you there!

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. It’ll be a busy week leading up to Halloween, but I hope it’ll be a fun and memorable one. Until next time, good night, pleasant nightmares, and eight days till Halloween! Have you carved a Jack-o-Lantern yet? I have, and for the first one in my own home, I don’t think it turned out half-bad. What say you?

About a year or two ago, this one title became kind of a sensation in one of Facebook groups. Everyone was talking about it, raving that it was the next best thing in indie horror. Combined with a striking cover and name, I couldn’t help but grow curious. Sadly, my TBR list is already a mile high, so I had trouble getting around to reading it. Thankfully, I get plenty of reading done thanks to audio books, so when I found out the audio book for this novel was finally released, I scooped it up for my October read.

So, after all that hype and fanfare, is Stolen Tongues worth the wait?

Set mostly in California and Colorado, Stolen Tongues follows a fictionalized version of the author himself, Felix Blackwell, as he and his fiancée Faye go up to her parents’ cabin in the mountains as a little engagement present. However, the lovers’ weekend is interrupted when they find a strange object hanging from the trees, and later that night start to hear odd voices coming from the surrounding woods. Soon, Faye starts to walk and talk in her sleep, and it becomes clear that something is influencing her in her dreams. And it will stop at nothing to have her.

So, the suspense throughout this novel is phenomenal. The prologue itself would make a terrifying short story on its own, and the early scenes, where we have no idea what sort of monster we’re dealing with or how it’s doing what it’s doing, are some of the tensest, most heart-pounding scenes I’ve ever had the pleasure to read. It’s also quite unsettling to see Faye undergoing changes due to the influence of the creature. Her personality warps at times, as do her memories, and you feel the narrator’s anguish and concern as she becomes someone he doesn’t recognize.

I also like the reverence and respect shown to Native American beliefs, both the beliefs themselves and indigenous people’s attitudes towards their beliefs and sharing them with outsiders. As the novel’s monster draws heavily from Native American culture, it’s refreshing to see so much respect. Often, horror that draws on Native American folklore and ideas doesn’t always include the very peoples from whom the folklore and ideas derive from, and when they do, not always in the most respectful manner, so it’s a welcome change to see said folklore, as well as Native characters, portrayed with such care.

Actually, the author includes at the end of the book an essay he wrote on writing Native American characters and horror based on their folklore, which I would read after you’re done with the novel.

Sadly, the novel isn’t perfect. After the reveal of what the creature is, some of the tension and mystery is sacrificed. The author does try to keep things creepy, especially after the narrator has a close-up encounter with the monster, but it’s not always successful. I also thought the ending was rushed and a letdown, with far too much telling, not enough showing, and not a finale epic or scary enough to match the rest of the novel.

I know me griping about showing vs. telling when I only just got better at that this year is rich, but it’s still a legitimate problem.

Overall, while it’s not the terrifying ride of suspense and creepy atmosphere that I was led to believe I was going to get, Stolen Tongues by Felix Blackwell is still a decent and chilling novel. Those sections where the tensions really works make it worth the read all on its own. On a scale of 1 to 5, I’m going to give it a straight 4. If you’re still looking for something spooky to read this October, this book might be a good choice. I’m certainly glad I finally got around to reading it.

So, I did not expect to be writing this post today. But so many things are happening that I need to get out a quick post about them all. So, without further ado, here are some updates and announcements about various projects, events, and other stuff that you might want to know about.

THAT WHICH CANNOT BE UNDONE

So, most of you are aware by now that I formed a publishing company with some of my Ohio horror writer friends so we could publish an anthology bringing an attention to Ohio horror and Ohio horror writers. That anthology, That Which Cannot Be Undone, was supposed to be released in less than two weeks on October 11th, 2022.

That’s no longer the case. Instead, the anthology will be released on October 4th, 2022, six days from now and a full week early! That’s right, this anthology will be coming out earlier than expected, which means you all get to read it that much sooner. I guess that’s what happens when things go smoothly and you end up being ready to release much sooner than expected.

Anyway, the ebook is already available to preorder, and the paperback will be available on release day Tuesday. You can use the link below to order a copy in the format of your choice. And don’t worry, those of you who got signed copies and whatnot from pledging during the Kickstarter campaign will get what you pledged. We’re working hard to make sure of that.

Can’t wait to hear what you think of the book. I can promise you, this anthology is going to be a scream.

That Which Cannot Be Undone: Amazon

INK STAINS DARK FICTION ANTHOLOGY

Also releasing October 4th is the 14th volume of the Ink Stains Literary Horror Anthology. As you are probably aware, this anthology contains my story “Disillusionment and Trauma Sometimes Go Hand-in-Hand,” AKA the dragon bat story. This is despite Hurricane Ian battering Florida, where the anthology’s publisher’s parent company is located. You just can’t stop good literature, can you?

Anyway, links aren’t available for that one yet, but as soon as they are, I’ll be sure to post them. And in the meantime, you can marvel over this awesome book cover. Now, this might just be my opinion, but I think the cover depicts America in a few years if we don’t get our asses together. In other words, it’s a prophecy of the future.

2022 EVENTS

So, there’s been another change in the events I’ll be attending during the last three months of 2022. And while it’s unlikely any of you will be in the area, I’m letting you all know in case you can somehow make it out. You know I love meeting my Followers of Fear in person when I can. When they’re not creepy stalkers, of course. *cough* Reginald! *cough*

Just kidding. There are no stalkers among you guys, let alone one named Reginald. At least I don’t think there are.

So, first off, the Bexley Public Library will be hosting A Night of Horror again on Monday, October 3rd, 2022 from 7 PM – 8 PM. Myself, as well as my fellow writers Anton Cancre and Sarah Hans, will be doing readings of our work and selling copies of our books to the people there. And, of course, we’ll be in costume. Stop by the library in Bexley, Ohio if you can for a spooky good time with some fellow horror enthusiasts.

Next, I’ll be at the Licking County Library on Saturday, October 15th for their Local Author Fair. If you’re looking for an opportunity to support Ohio authors of all kinds, including Ohio horror authors, this would be the place to do it. Be sure to stop by the Downtown Library in Newark, Ohio from 10:30 AM – 2 PM and see if I’m wearing my Halloween costume or some other wacky get-up. Hey, if it gets you interested in what I’m selling, then why not?

And finally, it looks like I’ll be wrapping up the year at the Columbus Witches’ Ball at the Greater Columbus Convention Center on Saturday, November 5th from 6 PM – 11 PM. This is a huge event I heard about just a few months ago and I was extremely lucky to be able to get a spot. I’ll be selling books and reading Tarot cards there, so if you can make it, please stop by and say hi.

If anything changes, I’ll let you know. Though from the look of it, my schedule looks set through the end of the year. In which case, the next time you get an event update will be 2023. And trust me, there’s stuff planned for then.

THE FACE OF HORROR

As you know, Followers of Fear, I’m participating in the Face of Horror contest and am competing to win a walk-on role in an indie horror film and a photo shoot with Kane Hodder, among other things. The third round ends tomorrow night at 11 PM EST, and if I manage to stay in the Top 10 of my group, I’ll move onto the fourth round. For that to happen, I need you all to keep voting for me and keeping me high in the rankings. You can vote using the link below.

And thanks to all of you who have been continually voting for me. At one point this week, you even had me at 6th place! I was really touched by that and by your dedication to helping me win this thing. It means a lot to me.

THE FACE OF HORROR — RAMI UNGAR

OTHER NEWS

  • I’m back at work on my mummy novel Crawler (title pending). I’m currently going over the four chapters I’ve already written, and then I’ll start on the fifth. I’ll still take breaks every now and then to work on shorter stories, but Crawler has my attention for the time being.
  • Still working on editing Hannah and Other Stories. Yeah, I know, it’s been nearly a year since it was accepted for publication, but these things take time and you can’t rush a good product. But trust me, when this new collection is done, it’s going to be awesome! From haunted schools to budding serial killers to carnivorous horses, there’s plenty there for you to enjoy, so keep it in the back of your mind and be patient until its ready.
  • I’m shutting down this blog to start a new one where I investigate various suspicious deaths, supposedly cursed objects, and track down the only known score and dance notation of a ballet said to have summoned a demon at its only performance.

Kidding on that last one. But my God, whenever I threaten to change this blog or get rid of it, at least one person reading this gets scared that I’m serious. And isn’t scaring his readers what a horror writer does?

Anyway, that’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’m heading to bed now. But I look forward to sharing with you all the exciting stuff that’s bound to come up in the coming days, weeks and months. Until next time, good night, pleasant nightmares, and only 33 days till Halloween! I’m looking forward to putting out my decorations very, very soon.

The post that got me thinking about this subject.

So, if you weren’t aware, Rosh Hashanah, or the Jewish New Year, starts tonight. This is the beginning of the High Holidays, or the most important holidays in the Jewish calendar, and there’s a couple of traditions around this time of year that religious Jews practice. A lot of those traditions have to do with forgiveness. Specifically, we go out of our way to forgive those who might have upset us in the past, ask for forgiveness ourselves, and maybe even gain God’s forgiveness for our weaknesses. Forgiving ourselves is also on the menu, but that’s something that’s up to us and can require more work than just what can be accomplished around a holiday.

I do these traditions myself, and about a week ago, I posted on my social media, asking for forgiveness and forgiving everyone else as well. However, I added as a sort of postscript that I might still add someone who’s seriously crossed a line with me to one of my stories, which would mean their portrayals would not be flattering, and that their deaths would probably be horrifying. As I said in the post, “Hey, every action has an equal and opposite reaction. That’s life. Get used to it.”

This and other events got me thinking, and I realized that horror is not a genre where forgiveness is front and center a lot. In fact, it’s a genre where anger and vengeance is often a major factor! Think about it: most of the killers in slasher movies are motivated by rage and revenge. In a lot of ghost stories, the spirits are stuck on this mortal plane because they have some sort of baggage keeping them trapped here and they’re lashing out because of that baggage (this is especially true in Japanese horror movies like Ringu and Ju-On: The Grudge). Carrie White in Carrie gets revenge on all her tormentors by setting the prom, the high school, and most of the town on fire, followed by killing her biggest bully and her mother, and Leland Gaunt in Needful Things takes advantage of people’s fears, grudges and relationships to cause all sorts of chaos.

In all of these stories and many others, forgiving anyone is almost nowhere to be seen. In fact, in many cases, even after the reason for the anger is gone, the anger and need for vengeance continues on. Perhaps Needful Things has some moments of self-forgiveness, where characters like Alan Pangborn, Polly Chalmers, and Norris Ridgewick realize they’ve been duped and/or done horrible things and are able to start on the path to forgiveness and redemption, but it’s not a large part of the story. In fact, those moments are overshadowed by the rest of the events of the story and the need to stop Gaunt.

Snake is not a novel I would associate with forgiveness.

The lack of forgiveness extends to my own work as well. And quite often, too. Snake is a novel about a serial killer motivated by both love and revenge against an organized crime family. “Disillusionment and Trauma Sometimes Go Hand-in-Hand,” AKA the dragon bat story (releasing next month in the 14th volume of the Ink Stains horror anthology series, if you didn’t know), is driven by several characters’ needs for revenge and being unable to let go of the past (whether they are right or wrong in doing so, I’ll let you decide). And one or two stories I’m working on now may be motivated by characters’ need to release their anger on others, whether deserved or not.

Given all that, you might be wondering if any horror stories might include forgiveness, or if all of them are unforgiving. Actually, quite a few stories with religious themes include forgiveness. Swan Song by Robert MacCammon and Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chbosky, both of which deal with Christian Apocalypse scenarios and the Devil, feature scenes where the protagonists forgive others, including the Devil himself, who usually can’t take being forgiven for their evil by a mere human and run off to hide in their own misery. And in the 2010 movie Devil, forgiveness plays a huge part in the resolution of the story and in one of the leads being able to avoid being dragged down to Hell.

This is a movie where forgiveness and sin are major themes for the horror.

All of these stories feature the Devil, but there are likely other stories with religious themes where forgiveness features but the Devil doesn’t. And perhaps there are stories where forgiveness is a big part of the story without religious themes as well. In fact, Cujo by Stephen King ends with the Trentons patching up their marriage and forgiving each other after the death of their son. But, at least in my experience, forgiveness tends to stay in horror stories with strong religious themes. The rest of the time, it seems to be “let out your wrath upon all those who have wronged you!”

But is that necessarily a bad thing? Even for the religiously inclined among us (including Jews around the High Holidays)?

I don’t think so. Whether we are misfits because we like horror, or we are already misfits and find a home in horror, both we and our genre of choice have often been maligned by the majority of society. Obviously, this can build some anger in us misfits, as we do nothing wrong but be ourselves. Where better to channel that anger than into our genre, where people often get what’s coming to them? It’s honestly rather therapeutic.

That’s why, even if I forgive someone, I’ll often find some way to write them into a story. It’s a healthy way to get rid of any lingering resentments and build something creative and meaningful while I’m at it. In fact, one could say I’m symbolically or metaphorically purging myself of hate and finding forgiveness for those who’ve wronged me, which I’m sure any rabbi would approve of, especially around the High Holidays.

As to whether I’ll ever write a story where forgiveness is a main topic…I’ll never say never. But it might be a while before we see me write something like that. Forgive me if you were hoping for one!


That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. Sometimes I like getting my thoughts out like this, even if it leads to an essay-length blog post. In any case, I want to wish you all a Shana Tovah, or a Happy New Year. May we all be inscribed in the Book of Life and blessed with a sweet year.

Until next time, good night, pleasant nightmares, and 36 days till Halloween! Ask your doctor if sacrifices to the old gods is right for you!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With books like A Head Full of Ghosts, The Cabin at the End of the World and Survivor Song (which I still say would make a great stage musical), The Pallbearers Club by Paul Tremblay has been one of the most anticipated novels of 2022. I got my copy almost as soon as it came out, but because my life has been busy lately, I only just finished the book today. So now, as I feel obligated to do, I’m writing my review.

The Pallbearers Club follows a man who calls himself (or the version of himself in the novel/memoir he is narrating) Art Barbara. Seeking to pad out his college applications, Art starts the Pallbearers Club, a volunteer club where members show up to funerals for the homeless and lonely, and then carry them out to the hearse (because who wants no one to show up to their funeral?). At one of these funerals, Art meets Mercy Brown, a strange college girl who both opens up Art’s world and sets him on a path that will affect him through his adulthood. And maybe even beyond.

For starters, the novel is creative in its presentation. It’s written primarily by Art on a computer, while Mercy’s red-inked, handwritten notes speckle the margins and bookend each chapter. It allows you to learn a lot about each character, who are both somewhat unreliable narrators for each their own reasons, and there’s a lot of reflections on topics like memory and identity. It also makes me wonder what the audio book is like, because Mercy’s notes are a big part of each chapter. Does her narrator interrupt the text every now and again?

I also like how Art uses unusual adjectives while he writes, and the best parts of the novels are probably the sections set in Art’s teenage years during the late 80s. You really get to know and like the characters the best at that point, and it’s among the best examples of 80s nostalgia I’ve come across.

That being said, there’s a lot about this novel that rubbed me the wrong way. My biggest issue is the story, or almost lack of one. Art spends a lot of time going through the major points of his life, especially where Mercy is part of his life, but it becomes a slog because he hits you over the head at times with how little self-esteem and how much self-loathing he has. It’s okay early in the book, because he’s a teenager and those are always difficult times and Mercy is at least opening up his world. But after graduation, Art seems intent on just making you hate him as much as possible.

Which might be okay if Mercy or the plot helped balance the story out, but they don’t. Even with her notes, Mercy’s so intent on being edgy and mysterious that we really don’t get to know the real her, and it makes it hard to see her as a character and more as a mystery. Again, fine early in the book, but after a while, we get tired of it.

There’s also not a lot happening in the book. At least, not as far as horror novels go. The New England vampire lore is part of the story, but not in a significant way like I’d expected. It becomes more like a background theme, kind of a parallel about aging, health problems, and our own anxieties and delusions are like vampires on us and we wonder where in the hell they come from. Which is fine, if the story is interesting or the the lore is utilized in the right way.

The Pallbearers Club didn’t do it in the right way. I feel like it was trying to go for what Revival by Stephen King did, which was show how a single man affected the life of an aging rocker throughout his life while mixing in the supernatural. But while it tries, it doesn’t succeed.

And this isn’t something I’ll deduct points for, but why pick on Def Leppard in the early parts of the story? That band is a big part of why I love 80s music, how dare you!

I normally like Paul Tremblay’s work, but on a scale of 1 to 5, I’m going to give The Pallbearers Club a 2. The way it’s written is creative and the initial chapters are great, but annoying characters and an unimpressive plot just stakes it through the heart.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. My next read will be The Devil Takes You Home by Gabino Iglesias, while my next review will likely be Tales My Grandmother Told Me by Heather Miller (read an advanced copy). You’ll know my thoughts on both in time.

Until next time, good night, pleasant nightmares, and 49 days till Halloween.