Posts Tagged ‘novel’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

With the year winding down, I thought I would let you know that I’m scheduled for a couple of events in 2022. Not many, but one is next month, so I figured I might put out a notice in early December. Sorry if you consider this spam in your reader or your email inbox.

First, I’ll be attending the Hidden Marietta Paranormal Expo in Marietta, OH on January 29th, 2022. This is a cool convention for those who enjoy the spooky and the dark, in a city that is known to have quite a few haunted locations (I’m thinking of taking a vacation there for my birthday next year). In fact, the expo will be held at the Lafayette Hotel, which is said to be haunted to the gills! You can find more information on Hidden Marietta’s website here.

And guess who’s going back to prison (so to speak)? That’s right, I’m going back to the Ohio State Reformatory for ParaPsyCon 2022. This year it’ll be on May 21st – May 22nd, 2022 and again it’ll be at one of the most haunted, if not the most haunted, prisons in America, the Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, OH. I had a really good experience last year, and I’ve learned from my fellow vendors, as well as my own mistakes, for ways to ensure that I have an even greater experience as a vendor. You can find out more about ParaPsyCon by checking out the website here.

Anyway, thought I’d mention it in case anyone is able to make it, especially the Hidden Marietta Paranormal Expo. I plan to bug you all less this year about my public appearances so you don’t get sick of me mentioning them. Except for news about new conventions and whatnot, I’ll probably only mention them right before they happen.

Anyway, I hope I’ll get to see you at one of these events and maybe read your Tarot and/or give you a signed copy of one of my books.

(And if you can’t, or if you’re looking for some scary reading for you or for friends and family this holiday season, I’ll include links for my stories below. Yes, I’m doing another book ad, but I only do this occasionally, like how I plan to do event notices.)

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’ll talk to you again very soon. Until next time, good night, Happy Hanukkah, and pleasant nightmares.

Oh, and if you’re wondering about That Which Cannot Be Done, I’ll update you on that in a future post. Probably the next one. Believe me, I have news. But like I said, trying to limit how much I advertise this sort of stuff.

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

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

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

The Jewish Book of Horror: Amazon, B&N

Dark Nature: Amazon

Nightmare Collective Part 2: Amazon

Into the Deep: Amazon

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Recently on Twitter, another author I’m acquainted with tweeted that she didn’t think she would ever reach the levels of the authors she admired. She then went on to say that while she aspired to “champagne quality” writing, her stories usually ended up being “boxed wine” quality.

First off, what’s wrong with boxed wine? The first sips of wine I liked came from boxes. And price, prestige, method of preparation, or recommendation of experts is no guarantee of quality or tastefulness. Just check out this hilarious video on the subject.

And second, just because you think your work isn’t as good as your heroes or as prestigious as other stories doesn’t mean it’s bad. For starters, you think the writers you aspire to be don’t have their bad days? Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov and Frank Herbert probably bemoaned that they would never come up with stories as influential as those of Mary Shelley, HG Wells and Jules Verne. Every professional manga artist, including those who have made the most famous series like Eiichiro Oda, Rumiko Takahashi, and Naoko Takeuchi, have lamented they’ll never be as good as their favorite artists despite all proof to the contrary. And God knows HP Lovecraft, one of the most influential and controversial writers in horror, worried that he would never measure up to the likes of Edgar Allen Poe, Robert Chambers and Arthur Manchen.

(And if I’m being honest, between his prejudices and his hyper-Victorian style of writing, he never did.)

Another thing to keep in mind is that just because another work is considered “prestigious” doesn’t mean it’s good. In fact, the word prestige comes from the Latin word for “illusion.” And that’s what prestige is: an illusion. A bunch of critics or purveyors or publishers came together and agreed that because a work of art has certain qualities or is being sold in a certain place (like a fancy, pretentious art gallery), it’s considered “good” and worthy of being worshipped. But beyond making sure that it’s been edited well, that’s no guarantee of quality.

An example of a bestseller whose quality is questionable.

Neither is being a bestseller, honestly. The way a bestseller is defined is often based on how much a publisher thinks a story will do and how much marketing is done for the book. Most bestseller lists can be gamed for profit, such as happened with Lani Sarem’s YA novel a few years ago. And many bestsellers fade into obscurity after a few years, rather than having staying power. It has nothing to do with quality of the story itself (just look at my review of Nothing But Blackened Teeth, which has attained bestseller status, if you don’t believe me).

You know what is an indicator of quality (beyond editing and not having anything offensive in the content)? An audience’s reaction. Fiction is often an escape and helps audiences heal from our awful reality, or at the very least bring joy and give readers a feeling that their interests are shared by others. So if your work brings people joy, then that’s a great sign of its quality. Doesn’t matter if it involves college professors and literati types scheming and having sex with one another; fighting aliens in another solar system; or having a love affair with a powerful man in a universe where humanity is divided into castes based on supposed wolf pack heirarchy.* Just as long as your audience gets joy from reading it, then it’s quality.

You especially see this in the horror genre. You have your Gothic and ghost stories with flowery language; serial killer thrillers that gush blood and gore; Nazi zombies that bite your face off as they propagate a toxic and deadly ideology; and even stories around killer cows or living poop monsters or other ridiculous ideas. All those are stories in the horror genre, and very few within the genre will judge you for it.

Plenty outside the genre will, though. Horror as a whole is still looked down upon as a genre, even as it proves more profitable and popular every year. But that’s another thing: tastes and what is considered prestigious changes all the time. Shakespeare, opera and even lobster used to be considered low-class. Now they’re fancy and high-falutin. Perhaps in a hundred years, your “boxed wine” fiction will be taught in high school and college classes, working on horror and superhero movies is a highly sought-after privilege, and a restaurant is considered luxury if it serves real bacon. You never know.

All that being said, this might not make you feel any better about your stories. These feelings might come from stress, anxiety, depression, or dating a demon fairy who scares people with a twitch of the face rather than trying to write stories. But if learning all this helps you feel like your work is champagne quality, then mission accomplished. Because no matter what your story is about, how flowery the writing is, or who’s hyping it up or buying it, if your work is enjoyed by someone, that’s what matters most.

Better have an editor check it over first. They catch stuff you’ll never see in a million years before you get to the publishing phase.

You may think your story is a boxed wine, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad or low-class. The exact opposite, in fact.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’ll be back Monday for something special (you probably know what already). Until next time, good night, Happy Thanksgiving, and pleasant nightmares!

*This is an actual subgenre of romance, and it is apparently very popular. I won’t judge anyone who likes it, but I will say that wolf packs aren’t actually based around alphas, betas and omegas. Research has shown that wolf packs are really alliances of small, nuclear families and lone wolves adopted into the pack. The more you know.

Well, I found my least favorite novel of 2021. Given how much hype it’s been getting since 2020, I’m disappointed.

Drawing on Japanese folklore and mythology (gee, who do I know who’s done that before?), the story follows five college grads who go to an old Japanese mansion for a wedding ceremony (sounds like my dream wedding). The mansion is supposedly haunted by a bride whose fiancé died on the way to the wedding, and then had herself buried alive underneath the house. As night falls, strange things occur in the mansion, putting everyone at risk.

I hate to be negative about a novel. I know how hard it is to get your work published. But that being said, I’m still not sure how this novel got published in the first place. There’s so much to hate!

While the location and the concept are cool and the climax did make things more interesting, the rest is a hot mess. For one thing, I barely know these characters, because very little time is spent actually developing them. I know even less about our narrator, Cat, because what we learn about her is mainly just hints. We understand that she has depression and it messed with her pretty bad, but the specifics aren’t given and it just leaves the reader so confused.

As for the other characters, there’s nothing to like about them. One’s a “perfect” billionaire who’s sorry about something he did to the narrator (what, I don’t know); another is supposed to be the narrator’s best friend, but I don’t know anything about him to really get me to like him; one is supposed to come off as funny and instead just comes off as annoying; and the ironically most developed character is the best friend’s fiancée, who just hates the narrator because she’s insecure and think the narrator wants her man. They all seem to hate each other, yet insist that they’re all friends and should get along. Why they hang out with one another, I have no idea.

At least looking up hitobashira put that one Junji Ito story into context. Didn’t make it any scarier, but it did make it easier to understand.

As for the rest of the novel, there’s a scary story hidden in there that wants to come out, but it’s buried under a lot of problems. The language is trying to be flowery, but there are words in here that I’ve never read before. In the English language, no less! It feels like the author was trying to out-Lovecraft Lovecraft with the wordplay, and succeeded in all the wrong ways! Not to mention the Japanese stuff is never explained. I had to look up most of it myself, which is not a good sign if the book doesn’t spell it out for the unfamiliar reader.*

And finally, the psychological stuff is trying and failing to be psychological. It’s just wacky. Like watching a bunch of people on drugs trying to be profound and get into your mind. And the characters are drunk, but that’s no excuse. If you’re going to go for psychological, at least make sure it’s effective!

On a scale of 1 to 5, I’m going to award Nothing But Blackened Teeth by Cassandra Khaw a 1.3. One reviewer on the book’s back cover called it “The Haunting of Hill House for this century,” and I agree, in the sense that it takes the worst parts of that book and coalesces it into another haunted house. Avoid this one, and go read something else. Trust me, your time will be much better spent on other books.

*When I was editing Rose, I made sure that the Japanese concepts of kami and oni were spelled out because I knew plenty of my readers, including my parents, wouldn’t know anything about them. The novel has gotten a couple of negative reviews, but nobody’s criticized it for not understanding the Japanese mythology/folklore/religious stuff.

I won’t say Rose is better because of that, though. I’ll leave that up to the readers to decide. I’m just explaining what I did differently.


Just a note, Followers of Fear: today marks one week till the crowdfunding campaign for That Which Cannot Be Undone goes live. If you’re not aware, some of my fellow Ohio horror writers and I came together to create a small publisher, Cracked Skull Press, with the goal of putting a spotlight on Ohio horror writers. We’re gearing up for our first anthology, That Which Cannot Be Undone, the stories of which will be set around the theme “that which cannot be undone,” set in Ohio, and written entirely by Ohio horror authors.

Of course, we’re going to need your help to make it happen. We’re doing a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter starting November 29th and hoping to raise ten thousand dollars for paying the authors and editor, as well as other costs. And if you support the anthology, not only will you help us shine a light on Ohio horror, but there are perks to be gained for pledging your support.

And if we don’t make our goal, you won’t be charged for it. So your pledge won’t be taken unless we make our goal. That being said, we hope and think we’ll make our goal, so we hope you’ll join us. You can check out the project and sign up for notifications using the link below.

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

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’m off to work so I can work on my stories later. Until next time, good night, pleasant nightmares, and, if I don’t check in before Thursday, Happy Thanksgiving!

When I was in New Orleans a couple weeks ago, there was this voodoo shop on Bourbon Street I visited almost every night I was there. I did buy from that shop, but I also just liked looking around. There were so many cool things there: statues and masks, clothes, books, Tarot cards, candles, voodoo dolls, incense, and so much more! I’d have taken a photo if it were allowed. And one of the nights while I was there, I got a Tarot reading from one of their resident psychics/readers.

The reader, Eshu, had me follow him into the back room and pick out thirteen Tarot cards from a Thoth Tarot deck while I closed my eyes. I did so, picking out cards by trying to feel a tingling or heat or magnetic pull in my fingertips. And after I picked out my thirteen, he started reading what the cards had to say.

I can’t remember all that he said, because sadly the human memory doesn’t work like a video camera (what I wouldn’t do for it to do so when I want to), but I remember some specifics. For one thing, he said that I had a power within me, that he sensed that from when I stepped into the room, and that it was manifesting out in the real world. He also noted that this power came from darkness within, but it wasn’t evil or bad, and that it was leading to big things for me. Prominent cards, if I remember right, were the Fool and the Magician.

Could Hannah and Other Stories be evidence of something manifesting?

To me, in the moment, this made sense, and it still does. My writing career is going extremely well these days, and writing is a form of magic or power, as the Magician evidences. And if it’s not manifesting right now, with the many stories I’ve released this past year and the acceptance of Hannah and Other Stories for publication, I don’t know what is! That also plays into the Fool card, which represents a great opportunity or chance.

And what is horror writing if not taking a darkness that isn’t necessarily evil and manifesting it in the real world?

Don’t answer that, it was rhetorical.

In the two weeks or so since I got back from the Big Easy, a lot’s been going on. I’ve been editing a story for one anthology, the crowdfunding campaign for That Which Cannot Be Undone is about to launch and people are really showing interest (click here to learn more about that), I’ll likely be meeting with an editor soon from BSC Publishing Group to discuss Hannah, I’m on track to put out a paperback, ebook, and maybe even an audio book of The Pure World Comes, I was interviewed by the Columbus Jewish News (click here to read that article), and I may have had an idea for something I can release in the first half of 2022.

That last one came to me yesterday when I realized a short story I finished earlier this week had some similarities to another story I wrote this year. And I thought, Wouldn’t it be interesting if they were released together? I thought of a third story that might go well with them. and now this idea for a mini-collection of novelettes has sprung up. So who knows? Depending on a couple of things, I might be putting out three novelettes together.

So maybe I’m manifesting that power born of darkness within me, and maybe it’ll lead me to new heights in my writing career. Which, for a guy who tells people he’s an eldritch entity from another dimension, that’s something I’m happy with. Or the exact opposite could happen. I don’t know. I love using the cards, but I still have to remind myself they might just be fairy tales and hokum.

Still, with things going the way they are, with Hannah and That Which Cannot Be Undone and maybe even this novelette collection, I want to believe that Eshu’s cards were onto something. And that the Nine of Swords I’ve pulled from my readings these past two days, which represents anxiety, despair, and a sense of oppression, symbolizes what I’m putting into my readers rather than something I’m going to feel in the near future. We’ll see what happens.

Get these and other books this holiday season. And make sure to let the authors know what you think.

And while we wait to see what happens, you looking for something to read or for your horror-loving cousin? Then I have the books for you! Yes, I’m advertising my books. But you gotta do what you gotta do. Anyway, I’ve got a ton of stories available right now in paperback, ebook and even audio book, as well as stories in some great anthologies. You can check out the fantasy-horror novel Rose; the serial killer thriller Snake; my first collection, The Quiet Game; or the anthologies Into the Deep, The Nightmare Collective Part II, Dark Nature and The Jewish Book of Horror. I’ll leave links below.

And if you like what you read, leave a review online somewhere. That way I’ll know what you think and so will other readers.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’m off to conjure new nightmares so I can keep manifesting that power from within. Until next time, pleasant nightmares!

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

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

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

The Jewish Book of Horror: Amazon, B&N

Dark Nature: Amazon

Nightmare Collective Part 2: Amazon

Into the Deep: Amazon

Well, I’m back from my vacation. I enjoyed making memories in St. Louis, the city I was born in but did not remember; I learned I am not a Las Vegas person, but that the Mob Museum is really cool, as is Zak Bagans’s Haunted Museum (more on that later); and I absolutely fell in love with New Orleans, especially the French Quarter.

Now that I’m back, though, I’ve got work to do. And I don’t just mean my day job (though that will be taking up a good chunk of my time). I’m ready to get back to writing and finding homes for my stories. Here’s what’s on the docket:

The Pure World Comes and Hannah

I’m hard at work on getting a paperback, ebook and even an audio book of The Pure World Comes out next year. The goal date is the first Tuesday of September, September 6. Why that date? It’ll be a little over a year since The Pure World Comes was released on the Readict app, and right as the Halloween season gets into full swing. And a lot of books, including successful ones, release on Tuesdays, so might as well.

Anyway, I’ve gone through the manuscript for TPWC again and cleaned up some of the errors I missed for the Readict version (don’t tell VitaleTek). I’ve looked into some platforms that will get a paperback and ebook onto sites like Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and one that does audio books as well. And I’m talking with some audio book narrators. With any luck, I’ll definitely have the paperback and ebook out on September 6 and the audio book out not too long after, if not on the day of.

As for Hannah, the new collection of short stories that was accepted for publication while I was traveling, I cannot wait to send copies to people I know named Hannah and make them think the titular story is based on them (believe me, it’s not). Also, I was just emailing with the publisher, BSC Publishing Group, today. We’ll soon be starting work on the stories, just as soon as an editor is settled on. Once that’s done, I imagine we’ll go through each story, editing until it’s as close to perfect as possible. Then we’ll discuss a final order for the collection, and then let it out into the world.

Anyway, I’ll keep you posted on this. The hope is to get Hannah out at some point in 2022, so I imagine things will be hectic moving forward. Still, if people enjoy the book when it comes out, than it’ll be worth it.

And that brings me to my next point…

Crawler

I know I was going to start work on this novel right after I got back from my vacation. And you know, I still want to. However, Hannah is going to take up A LOT of time. In fact, it might take up as much time as a novel might. With all that in mind, it would be a bad idea to work on a new book while editing another. I would keep bouncing back between one and the other, and I would get super-annoyed by how little progress I’m making on Crawler because I have to keep putting it down and work on Hannah.

So, for now, Crawler will have to wait.

Yeah, I know. I was excited for it as well. I even made some edits to the outline the other day and thought it would be a kick to work on. But that’s too much of a balancing act when I’m still working a day job.

Still, I want to work on new stories. I don’t want to just be editing, especially in-between the stories that need working on. Luckily, I have a million ideas for short stories, including about ten that I came up with during my vacation. Not only that, but I’ve had some success lately writing and finding homes for shorter works, and they’re easier to put down if something comes up.

So, when not working on stories in Hannah, I’ll be working on new short stories and novelettes, and hopefully finding homes for them after they’re edited. Not sure which one I’ll work on first, but I’m currently leaning towards one that incorporates elements of Masque of the Red Death by Edgar Allan Poe (and no, it’s not a pandemic story. I did that already this year). It should be fun to work on.

And eventually, I will get to writing Crawler. It’s just a matter of the right time.

Other Projects

Of course, I also have stories to edit for other publications. “The Hanukkah Massacre,” co-written by Richard Gerlach, will be published in Dead of Winter early next year, and we’ll have to edits for that. Not only that, but I have another project I’ve been working on that I may actually be able to talk about very soon.

So yeah, as it turns out, I’m going to keep being busy this year. Probably into the beginning of next year. Still, it’s better than not having anything to work on. And hopefully all this leads to more people reading my work and letting their friends know to read my work.

One last thing before I sign off, though:

Zak Bagans’s Haunted Museum

If you didn’t already know, Zak Bagans from the TV show Ghost Adventures has a museum in Vegas filled to the brim with haunted artifacts he’s collected over the years from ghost hunting, as well as items donated to the museum. This includes haunted dolls, actual skulls and skeletons, shrunken heads, serial killer murderabilia, and more stuff than I can name! I was there on October 30th, Devil’s Night, for a tour, and then a few hours later I went back for some late-night ghost hunting, what they call a flashlight tour.

And I experienced stuff on both tours.

Highlights include:

  • In the room with Ed Gein’s cauldron and shovel (inspiration for Norman Bates and Psycho, if you don’t know. Look him up), I smelled the smell of cooking meat. Apparently I’m not the only one who smells that in that room, either. Considering he made clothes out of body parts, God only knows what he did with that cauldron!
  • There’s a room with a guitar that might be possessed. It was found on the body of a teenager who died while playing the guitar. I felt so uncomfortable in that room. Nothing really happened in there, and it didn’t have mood music like the basement did (Satanic rituals supposedly took place down there), but it freaked me out anyway. I did not like that room.
  • The Dybbuk Box (inspiration for my story “Samson Weiss’s Curse” and the movie The Possession) had a few things happen. Using a device called a spirit box (it scans through radio frequencies quickly and any voices that come through over multiple sweeps might be a ghost or other spirit), I heard a voice come through saying “dybbuk” multiple times. And at one point, when I asked if anyone was in the room with me, I heard a woman’s voice whisper, “Yes.”
  • In another room containing the remains of a demonically possessed house Zak owned in Indiana before having it torn down, I got some voices through the spirit box. At one point, I asked if anyone wanted to talk to me, a voice responded immediately: “No.”
    Yeah, I thought that was cheeky, too. But that’s not all. Another device called a MEL-meter went off at one point in that room (it measures electromagnetic changes in the air around it) and later, a woman’s voice hissed through the spirit box, “Raaaah!” And I knew it was trying to say my name!
  • Finally, in one room containing a painting taken from Adolf Hitler’s vacation home, Bergdorf, I got voices coming through the spirit box. Apparently, there’s an evil energy attached to the painting and it affects anyone who touches it. I asked if anything evil was attached to it, and a voice came through saying, “Evil.” I then asked if it might be Hitler’s spirit, and I got a “Yes.”
    Not sure if that was actually Hitler’s spirit, as the painting wasn’t near Hitler when he committed suicide. It may have just been an evil energy/spirit messing with me (or nothing at all, if I’m being skeptical). But it made me smile to know that this Jew was standing in front of a painting belonging to Hitler and maybe his ghost and letting him know how bad he failed. I almost went “Neener, neener, neener” to the painting, but provoking the spirits wasn’t allowed.

Oh, and guess who was there? Right before we went into the house to explore for ghosts, we watched a safety information video. Then we split up into two groups. And as my group went around the corner to the building’s back entrance, guess who passed us by and wished us luck? Zak Bagans! I turned to the girl in front of me and whispered, “That was him!” She replied, “I know!”

And yes, he’s as tall as he looks on TV. In fact, I think he’s about a head taller than me. I just find that an interesting detail.


Well, that’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I have work in the morning, so I’m going to get to bed. I look forward to letting you know what’s going to happen next (whatever that is). Until next time, good night and pleasant nightmares!

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Lately, I’ve been deep into two very different books of horror. The first, which I finished last night, is What One Wouldn’t Do, an anthology of horror stories around the idea of “what wouldn’t you do for…what? Power? Revenge? Love? Etc?” The other is Ghoul by Brian Keene, a coming-of-age horror novel about three boys who discover a ghoul living in the graveyard near their homes. They’re both very good, very different from one another, and both deal in emotional horror.

Emotional horror is horror that relies more on the feelings the story provokes in the reader than a supernatural/paranormal entity or a serial killer or anything like that. And yes, I’m aware that all horror tries to provoke an emotional response in readers. Namely terror and fear. But this is a much more subtle kind of horror. Emotional horror scares you with the situation the characters are in and their responses, particularly their emotional responses, to the situation.

A good example of this is the 2015 movie The Witch. You may have noticed, but the titular witch is actually pretty peripheral to the story. She doesn’t show up except to maybe push events in the story. In total, I think she’s maybe only in the film for three whole minutes, if even that. Rather, the horror of the story is how each character reacts to the witch’s interference in their lives. It starts with the baby being kidnaped, then with the older son disappearing into the woods and then coming back horrifically changed. The kid has an ecstatic vision before dying, which leads to the family to believe they’re being victimized by a witch, who could possibly be one of them. And you’re terrified not by the witch or what could be her supernatural influence on the characters. You’re scared by their paranoia, their heartbreak and distrust, and how quickly things devolve from here, leading to an awful, irreversible decision on the part of the protagonist.

The true horror of this story may not be from the titular monster

This is the kind of horror both What One Wouldn’t Do and Ghoul deal in. Many of the stories in the former deal with supernatural elements, but the horror itself is what drives the characters to commit heinous acts or to make deals with the devil or go through insane challenges, and then seeing the fallout from those decisions. And for the latter, while the titular monster is scary in its way, it’s no Pennywise. Rather, a lot of the horror we experience is through the main characters, twelve-year-old boys who are becoming disillusioned by the world around them through the adults in their lives. It’s honestly heartbreaking to see the adults around them fail them so spectacularly, and one scene in particular was so upsetting, I had to post about it on Facebook and Twitter just to get my emotions out.

So, how do you write these scenes? Honestly, it’s not easy. I’m not sure you can set out to write a story that deliberately tugs at your heartstrings and fills you with the emotions the characters are feeling. It’s kind of like how you can’t write a story around a theme. Instead, you take a story and the theme evolves naturally from your working on it. Only when that theme has revealed itself can you play with it and the story together to bring out the best in both.

That was certainly the case with Cressida, the story I wrote that was published in Into the Deep (click here to check it out if you haven’t yet). While it’s a horror story and a mermaid story, it’s not a horror story about mermaids, though they aren’t the pretty fishtailed supermodels Disney animated, either. Rather, the mermaid is in herself a catalyst for the true horror, which is what the characters do upon encountering a mermaid who shares an uncanny resemblance to a deceased family member of theirs.

But when I set out to write that story, I never intended that the horror would come from the characters’ emotional and psychological reactions. I wrote the story because it sounded like a lot of fun to work on and I made changes to the storyline along the way to better bring out the horror I was discovering. The result is Cressida, which I feel is some of the best work I’ve written yet.

You know, that makes me realize something: in emotional horror, whatever is happening in the plot, be it mermaids, ghouls, necromancy, witches, etc., is often not the main focus of the story (even if it’s in the story’s title). Rather, they’re plot devices, tools to draw out the horror hidden within the characters’ emotional responses.

My story in this anthology didn’t start out as an emotionally-driven horror story. It just ended up that way.

I guess that makes emotional horror a kind of psychological horror.

Anyway, that’s what’s going through my mind at this time. The fact that I was getting into all these stories with similar kinds of horror at the same time got my brain working, so I decided to write it out. I’d love to hear what your thoughts on this subject are. Let’s talk in the comments below.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I leave for my trip tomorrow, so I likely won’t be around as much as I would otherwise be. However, I’ll be around on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, so check there for updates if you start to miss me.

Until next time, my Followers of Fear, good night, pleasant nightmares, and there’s only a week till Halloween. Prepare to give yourselves to the dance of terror and to raise the old gods so we can all enjoy their infernal gifts. If you do not, I suggest you run.

Bye!

Hey all. This is kind of last-minute, but I am attending a couple of events in the central Ohio area and I wanted to make sure you all knew about it. Especially since one of them, people outside of the Columbus area will actually be able to attend this one.

A Night of Horror with the Ohio Horror Writers Association

Some of you may remember that two years ago, before the pandemic, me and my fellow members in the Ohio chapter of the Horror Writers Association had an event at the Bexley Public Library. We couldn’t do anything with them last year, but this year is entirely different. And this Wednesday, October 13th, 2021, we will be having another event with them from 7-8 PM. We’ll do some reading, answer some questions, maybe sell some books while we’re at it.

And guess what? You can now attend it remotely through Zoom. You’ll need to register and sign up to attend, whether you’re in person or not, but that means anyone who wants to can attend. I hope a few of you reading this will show.

In order to sign up for the event, you can register on the Bexley Library website here.

Licking County Local Author Festival

On October 16th, I’ll be attending a local author festival at the Licking County Library at their downtown Newark location. From what I hear, they’re going to be having a ton of authors of all stripes and stories across two floors. And I also hear that the horror authors may be getting their own area. I’m going to have to wear a great costume. And I don’t mean my human form.

Anyway, hope you can stop by. It’s at 101 W. Main Street in Newark, Ohio and the festival is from 10:30 AM – 2 PM. Please stop by and support your local authors!


That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. Lots of exciting stuff on the horizon, so I’ll keep you updated. Even when I’m on vacation and can’t blog as freely. Until next time, good night and pleasant nightmares!

Read the book by Max Booth III last month. Finally got to see the movie, the screenplay of which was penned by Booth as well and which was directed by Sean King O’Grady, this evening. Let’s get reviewing.

As I said, We Need to Do Something is based on the novel by Max Booth III and follows Melissa and her family as they pile into the master bathroom during a violent storm (no basement). However, they soon find themselves trapped in that bathroom with no way to get out, and it’s unlikely anyone’s coming for them. Hunger, fear and their own dysfunction soon lead to tension, terror and their own personal ride to Hell.

Okay, first off, the bathroom in the movie is both bigger and tackier than the one I had in my head. Seriously, there’s plenty of space, but has that bathroom not been remodeled since the 1970s?

Enough silliness. Onto the actual review.

The film was made during the height of the pandemic and O’Grady said that the movie and current events sort of mirrored and mimicked each other. And you can see it in the film: all four of the main cast are trapped inside a small space due to events in the outside world and can’t leave. They grate on each other rather quickly and events make things worse and worse. Add in some crazy, ambiguous happenings to heighten the atmosphere and the situation further deteriorating, and it makes for a great analogue to the pandemic.

Not only that, but the ambiguity in the novel is translated very well into the film. It’s more heavily implied that what’s happening outside the bathroom (which we never see) might actually be real rather than a side effect of cabin fever or anything. But it’s still quite mysterious and leaves you with just as many questions as the novel did.

Finally, the cast does a great job as their characters. As Melissa, Sierra McCormick is brimming with hurt and pathos, while Vinessa Shaw (Allison in Hocus Pocus, if you can believe it) does a great job as the mother tired of living a friction-filled marriage. And while Pat Healy’s take on dad Robert is written the tiniest bit more sympathetic than in the book, he still comes across as a mega asshole you love to hate.

Oh, and guess what? Ozzy Osbourne is apparently in the film. I’ll let you guess which character he is.

On the downside, the flashbacks with Melissa and her girlfriend Amy do feel kind of lacking without a lot of the context the novel gave them. While the score reminds me of the best of Colin Stetson’s work, it does have a few moments where it doesn’t work too well with what’s occurring in the movie. And in certain moments, the snake does look laughably fake.

But all in all, this is a great translation of the novel to the screen. On a scale of 1 to 5, I give We Need to Do Something a 4.5 out of 5. If you can’t make it to a theater playing it, you can find it on YouTube, Apple TV and Amazon, among other sites, so go give it a watch. You’ll be reminded that, as bad as your pandemic experience with your family has been these 19 months, at least you weren’t trapped like these guys!

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. Tomorrow I get to work on new stories, but right now, I’m going to hit the proverbial hay. Until next time, good night and pleasant nightmares!

September has gone by so fast, but I’m having a lot of trouble believing that it’s only been a month since The Pure World Comes has been released. That’s right, an entire month! And man, it’s been doing well. Not only that, but there have been other updates on my projects and upcoming publications. Let me tell you about it.

The Pure World Comes

The cover for “The Pure World Comes” on the Readict app.

So, if you’re new here, The Pure World Comes was a novel I wrote last year and which was published, as I mentioned at the beginning, exactly a month ago on the Readict literature app. The novel was a love letter to the Victorian era and to Gothic literature from that era, which I’ve been obsessed with for quite some time now. Here’s the summary:

Shirley Dobbins wants nothing more than to live a quiet life and become a head housekeeper at a prestigious house. So when she is invited to come work for the mysterious baronet Sir Joseph Hunting at his estate, she thinks it is the chance of a lifetime. However, from the moment she arrives things are not what they seem. As she becomes wrapped up in more of the baronet’s radical science, she realizes something dark and otherworldly is loose within the estate. And if left unchecked, it’ll claim the lives of all she holds dear.

The app records how many people have been reading the novel and aggregating their ratings of the chapters, as well as the novel in general. When I was writing this post, 728 were reading or have read the novel and rated it a 4.7 out of 5 stars! I don’t think any of my published works have ever scored so high before.

But the best feedback was from my sister. She actually doesn’t read much of my work, as she’s both got a busy life and is not a big fan of horror (I can’t even remember if she’s read Rose). But because it was on her phone, she was able to read it more easily than other books, and she tried to read at least a chapter every night. As of last night, she actually finished it and said she loved it. She especially loved the characters and the mystery hanging around the story.

Considering she doesn’t have much time to read, let alone read all my work, I’m happy to hear that.

And if this is how the first month is going, I can’t wait to see how the next year goes. In fact, I hope to get an ebook and paperback out some time next year. I’ll start working to that end after the new year. I look forward to hearing what people say when they can own a physical copy.

In the meantime, you can find it on the Readict app. It’s free with ads, so why not check it out before Halloween? I’d love to hear what you say.

The Jewish Book of Horror

As you may remember, I submitted a story to The Jewish Book of Horror, an anthology all about what scares my people (besides cholesterol and allergies, of course). I’m happy to say that The Jewish Book of Horror will be released this Hanukkah (so December-ish) and will feature my story, “The Divorce from God.”

And the cover is already being circulated around the internet. You can see it on the left, and isn’t it terrifying/sexy? I love it! I’m so honored to have a story in there. I can’t wait for people to read it and the other stories in the anthology and to let me know what they think.

Anyway, it’s only a couple of months till Hanukkah, so I’ll be sure to let you know when the book is available for preorder and purchase. I hope you’ll support it. As I’ve mentioned before, I think it would be cool to have more Jewish portrayals in fiction, especially from Jews. And the Denver Horror Collective, which is putting out the anthology, has hinted that if it does well, they may pursue doing a sequel anthology. I would love to see that (and maybe submit to them again).

Other Stories

I mentioned in a recent post that I had settled on a new novel to write and was working on an outline. The outline for that novel, Crawler, is finished and I should be ready to work on it after my vacation (more on that later). I’m not sure if the novel will be any good, but I think it’s going to be at least fun to write. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Also, the next part of “Blood and Paper Skin” will be published in Issue 9 of The Dark Sire, which should be out at the tail end of October. I’ll post links when they’re available.

And I’m shopping around several more stories, looking for homes for them. I’m even waiting to hear back from publishers regarding a novel and a collection of short stories. Hopefully I’ll be able to give you some great news very soon. I’m trying to get a few more stories accepted for publication before the end of the year, so I won’t let up on writing and editing and submitting.

And I have more stuff I can’t wait to tell you about. I’m just waiting for the right time to tell you.

In the meantime, I’m hoping you’ll check out some of my work that’s available, including The Pure World Comes. Except for that novel, all my stories are sold wherever great stories are sold. I look forward to hearing what you think.


That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’m off to enjoy the weekend and relax after a rough week. I’ll be starting with a Phantom of the Opera movie starring Robert Englund. Yeah, that apparently exists. And it’s apparently really bad. Still, it sounds like something you gotta see to believe. I can’t wait!

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