Posts Tagged ‘novel’

Okay, I’m not ready to start work on a new novel. I’m ready to start researching and outlining a novel. As well as working on some new short stories, novelettes and novellas now that I’ve finished editing a bunch of stories. But that’s not going to make a catchy title, will it?

Anyway, I’ve been itching to write another novel for a while now. But I had three novels I was either editing or trying to find a publisher for, so I held off. But The Pure World Comes is published (and hopefully will be in paperback and ebook next year), River of Wrath is being shopped around (I hope to have news on that someday soon), and Toyland will likely get another draft in the near future. So, I think I can do another novel now.

And I know what novel I’m going to work on. But first, let me tell you a short story:

Back in 2017, my sister took me to see a movie for my birthday. Which movie, you might ask? Why, it was the latest Mummy reboot! The one Universal desperately hoped would launch their own horror-themed cinematic universe after 2014’s Dracula Untold was, while a moderate success, not as big as they wanted. Ironically, The Mummy ended up being terrible and failing at the box office, killing the Dark Universe franchise before it could get off the ground.

While I appreciated my sister going to the movies with me, I couldn’t help but think of ways that the film could have been better. And eventually, all that thinking led to this idea of a story. A novel. One that I thought would be a lot of fun to write.

This is the novel I’m going to write. A mummy story I’m going to call Crawler. And that’s all I’m going to say about the story now. But let me just say, after growing and mutating in my brain for four years, it’s looking to be one hell of a scary story.

I probably won’t start writing it until after my vacation (more on that in another post). However, I will be working on an outline, and I already bought the one reference book I’ll need for research (the rest I can probably get from a Google search). And prior to my vacation, I’ll be working on some shorter stuff that I’ve been dying to work on lately. Hopefully one or two of them will not only be scary, but worth reading.

Who doesn’t love a mummy story?

But yeah, this is happening. And I really hope I can eventually share it with you. I’ll let you know how it goes. And in the meantime, if you’re looking for something to read for the Halloween season, or if you’d like to support me, I’ll include links to my published works below. There’s plenty of scary stories there, so check them out. And if you read them, let me know what you think. Your reviews can help not just me, but all sorts of readers.

Now if you need me, I’m going to start work on an outline and character sheet before I go to bed. Until next time, good night and pleasant nightmares!

The Pure World Comes: Readict app (free with ads)

The Dark Sire Issue 8: Amazon

Into the Deep: Paperback, Ebook

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

Rose: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada, Audible

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

Agoraphobia: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada

Mother of the King: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada

I can’t believe it’s been nearly a year since I did one of these! No kidding, the last one was December 4th, 2020. What a gap. Thanks to my friend and fellow writer Iseult Murphy for reminding me this is a thing and to do it again.

So, if you’re unfamiliar with #FirstLineFriday, this was a meme I used to do quite often as a way to get people’s opinions of opening lines for stories (opening lines can be the hardest part of writing fiction sometimes). Here are the rules I usually went with:

  1. Create a post on your blog called #FirstLineFriday, hashtag and all.
  2. Explain the rules like I’m doing now.
  3. Post the first line or two of a potential story, a story-in-progress, or a completed/published story.
  4. Ask your readers for feedback and try to get them to try #FirstLineFriday themselves on their blogs. Tagging is encouraged but not necessary.

This time, however, I’m doing it with a twist. I’ve been lucky enough to have a bunch of publications recently, including two novelettes and a novel. So, I’m going to give you the first three openings of each of these works! Triple Publication Edition! Woo-hoo!

First, we have “Cressida,” my mermaid horror story, which was released in Into the Deep, from Jazz House Publications. I’m really proud of this story and think it’s some of my best work. And my dad, who just read it recently, agrees. Enjoy:

Mark Honig drove the rental car towards his uncle’s beach home. On the driver’s side was a great cliff face dappled with green moss, while on the other side the ocean lapped against the cliff face dappled with barnacles and mollusks.

“Cressida,” Into the Deep, July 2021.

It’s a quiet opening, but at least it paints an image in your head. Enough to make you keep reading and get to the good stuff, I hope.

Our next story is “Blood and Paper Skin,” which is being serialized in Issues 8-10 of The Dark Sire. The story is about a bunch of teens that end up trapped in a jail-like room in someone’s basement for a dark purpose. I’m looking forward to how people react to the conclusion. For now, though, here’s the opening:

Grey held onto the side of Mark’s Chevy Tahoe for dear life, cursing his supposed best friend for making him endure the chilly winds whipping around the car. How the hell did I end up in this situation? he wondered for the millionth time.

“Blood and Paper Skin,” The Dark Sire Issue 8, July 31, 2021.

A guy hanging onto the side of a car. What a way to open a story. I had fun with that. And guess what? It was inspired by something I saw last year on my birthday.

And last but definitely not least, the opening of my novel The Pure World Comes. This was published on the Readict app, run by VitaleTek Inc. The novel follows a maid in Victorian England who goes to work for a mad scientist. It’s my love letter to Victorian England and to Gothic literature.

A stream of shit and piss fell from the second floor of the Avondale house to the street below, where it mixed with the piss, shit and mud that already littered the avenue. From the second-floor window of Mr. Avondale’s dressing room, Shirley Dobbins put down the chamber pot belonging to Mr. and Mrs. Avondale and picked up the one belonging to their daughter, Miss Lucinda.

The Pure World Comes Ch. 1, August 2021

How many novels start with piss and shit? I don’t know, but this one does! And it sums up Victorian living in many ways.

But what do you think of these openings? Did anything catch your eyes and make you want to read more? Let me know in the comments below. And if you want to read the rest of the stories, I’ll leave the links for them below.

And as for who should do this next, I’m going to tag Priscilla Bettis, Allen Huntsman, and Brian B Baker. You don’t have to, but it would tickle me if you did. And I hope you’ll tag back here if you do the challenge.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. It’s past midnight, so I’ll see all your comments in the morning. Until next time (which should be soon, believe it or not), pleasant nightmares!

The Pure World Comes: Readict app (free with ads)

The Dark Sire Issue 8: Amazon

Into the Deep: Paperback, Ebook

I’ve been working on editing a collection of original short stories for the past month and a half. I was shopping this collection around, but after getting a few rejections, I thought I’d spend some time on the collection and see if I could edit the stories and make them better.

Since July, I’ve been going over each story, taking out the weak ones or the ones that will need more than a single draft to be polished up and making the rest presentable for submission. And as of today, after rewriting the final third of the final story, I’m done with the collection!

Honestly, I’m glad I decided to take another look at some of these stories. It had been a while since I looked at some of them, so I noticed problems that I hadn’t noticed before. One story needed a lot more added to the ending before I could call it finished. Another needed an entire section taken out for being extraneous. One story needed to be removed because it needs a lot more work before I can consider putting it out for publication. And one was just terrible, so I trashed it (sometimes it happens).

But overall, I’m satisfied with the work I did on this collection. And as I sip a beer and write this post, I think I’m ready to send this collection out again. Whether or not it’ll find a publisher, I’m not sure, but I think it’ll be a lot more successful in that department than I was before. And if I still have trouble, I have enough confidence in these stories that I think I could self-publish it without any issues.

Or without too many issues, at least.

Anyway, besides submitting this collection, I’ll be putting the final touches on a few other projects before sending them out. After that, I have two stories I’ll need to edit before I can submit them anywhere. And after that…I don’t know. I definitely want to work on some more shorter works, but I’m also warming up to the idea of starting work on another novel. Maybe this November or December (though not as a NaNoWriMo project). We’ll see what happens.

Anyway, that’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’ve got a collection to start shopping around. Until next time, good night, pleasant nightmares and WATCH OUT FOR THE AX MURDERER!!!

What would happen if I featured my faith more in my stories? Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

I’ve been thinking a lot lately on Jews in the media I consume.

As you probably know, in addition to being an eldritch abomination from another universe in human form, I’m Jewish (we need faith too, you know). I’m not super-religious, but I follow many rituals and feel close to my heritage and my definition of God. But except for a couple of stories, my religion doesn’t really show in my writing. Or at least, characters who share my faith don’t show up in my stories a lot.

There could be a lot of reasons for that. Part of it could be that horror, the genre I’m drawn to and find most exciting, doesn’t necessarily need religion. Horror may draw on religious beliefs a lot, but that doesn’t mean the stories are religious. Religious elements are just tools for telling a good horror story. Also, Judaism itself isn’t really a scary religion. We don’t have a Devil or Hell, and demons and evil spirits are still subservient to God’s Will and Plan. Beyond golems and dybbuks, the biggest sources of horror for us is our history of being oppressed. And finally, I may have never felt a real need to emphasize the beliefs of my characters. It just doesn’t matter that much. Unless I need to state it, their religion is, “Whatever.”

But lately, I’ve been thinking a bit about that. It started with an essay on Variety about Jews in Hollywood and how we’re represented that brought up some good points. I’ll let you read the article yourself, but it made me aware that I don’t see many members of my faith in the media I consume. And that includes in horror. Yeah, there are some: Stan Uris in IT; Yakov Ronen in The Vigil (one of the best horror films I’ve seen yet this year); Tzadok in The Possession (played by musician Matisyahu, believe it or not); and then some.

But still, it’s a small number. And in an age with resurgent anti-Semitism, I feel like that’s something that needs to change.

Besides, I want to challenge myself. What kind of stories can I tell with a Jewish character as a lead? And not just any kind of Jew, but an amalgamation of the Jews I’ve known throughout my life, from secular to religious and old to young, from all walks of life and all types of spirituality? What if I decided, for a few stories, not to make their religions “whatever?”

Well, I actually already know the answer to that. As you probably are aware, my short story “The Divorce from God” is to appear in The Jewish Book of Horror this holiday season, and a short story in this collection I’m working on has two Jewish men as the leads. And I like to think both stories are good (I only have confirmation of one).

But what if I expand that? What if I tell more tales–not all of them, but some of them–with my fellow members of the Tribe? What if their faith is both an aspect of themselves, though not the only one, and a source of strength? What if the lead is that amalgamation I mentioned?

Well, perhaps I’ll find out sooner rather than later. I’ve mentioned it before, but I’m thinking of working on another novel after I’ve finished editing this collection and a couple more stories. And while I don’t think it’s necessary for the lead, I can also see them being Jewish. It could actually fit them very well.

We’ll see what the future holds.

I look forward to the stories I write in this vein.

You know, it’s funny. At one point when I was young, a grown up tried telling me I should write less horror and more of what I know. Which at the time was mainly going to a Jewish day school, having rabbis for parents and being annoyed by my sisters. I absolutely refused, telling this well-meaning grown up “that would be boring.” I think they were worried I was going to turn out to be some psychopath who murdered people in basements and then wrote about it (we horror lovers and creators are so misunderstood!). Still, I wasn’t going to write something I wasn’t attracted to or found boring. Stories are an escape from reality, not a regurgitation!

Now I want to incorporate what I know into a horror story. I guess it’s true what they say, when people “write what they know,” they’re writing it in a completely different way than expected. I wonder that well-meaning adult would make of this now? Hopefully they’d be intrigued enough to read it (and realize I grew up much more well-adjusted than they anticipated).

Anyway, it’s late and this post has gotten insanely long. I’m going to sign off and say Shabbat Shalom, an early Happy New Year (Rosh Hashanah starts Monday evening, it’s our New Year), pleasant nightmares, and a good night. See you next time, my Followers of Fear!

Have you ever written part of or an entire novel, and then nothing has happened to it? Maybe you edited the hell out of it and tried to find a publisher. Maybe you got some feedback from a beta reader that made you hesitate to put it out in the world. Or maybe you realized that, as much as you loved it and as much work as you put into it, it’s not very good and you’re better off moving on. So this project you’ve worked months or even years on gets put away, stored in a box or on a shelf or in a file drive to gather dust and likely never see the light of day.

If you have one of these novels, you have a “trunk novel.”

What are trunk novels, you may be asking? Well, trunk novels are as I said above: novels that were put away because, for one reason or another, they weren’t suitable to be released or marketed. Prior to computer storage, you might literally put them in a trunk so nobody ever saw them but you. Hence the name.

At least, I think that’s how it got its name. Tracking down the origin of the term was kind of impossible.

In any case, it happens more than we like to admit. We write a story and no matter how hard we try, it doesn’t get past the first draft or never leaves our computers. We may have thought it was the next big thing, or something that could have been published and been a small success, or at least could have gotten a publisher or agent interested. But in the end, it just doesn’t cut the mustard in one way or another, so it gets stowed away somewhere. You may say you’ll work on it again someday, but rarely does that happen.

And it happens to all of us. Really. Even Stephen King has them. He wrote four novels before Carrie was published. Only one of the previous three, Rage, was ever published (and King kind of regrets that). I did a poll in one or two horror writing groups I belong to, and all of the people who answered have trunk novels somewhere in their pasts.

I have several from my younger years, finished and unfinished, that are trunk novels. And one of the novels I wrote in college, Laura Horn, which I am still really proud of, is pretty much a trunk novel now. Why? Several reasons, but the fact that some of the events in the book resemble events that occurred in recent years might have something to do with it. Putting the book out given what’s happened in the last five years just feels wrong.

And I guess you could consider the Reborn City books trunk novels, even though I previously self-published them before taking them out of circulation.

And you know what? That’s alright. Yeah, our feelings towards our trunk novels may sometimes be complex. And we may regret at times that the stories never saw the light of day. But they are still important milestones in our career. They are the results learning to become writers, to learn what works in writing fiction and in learning the discipline of writing. They are the foundation of becoming us. Of becoming the authors we were meant to be.

So, as much as it sucks when a novel goes into the trunk, don’t regret it or feel too bad. It’s just another foundation stone in what is becoming your career.

Do you think I should get one of these and put literal manuscripts inside?

All that being said, I hope none of my completed, as of yet unpublished novels go into the trunk. I’m still shopping around River of Wrath with the hopes of finding a publisher for it, and I plan to work on Toyland again someday soon in the hopes of shopping that around too. What will happen to them? I honestly don’t know. But if they do end up in the trunk? Well, at least I had a hell of a time working on them and honing my skills with them.

Do you have any trunk novels? Would you mind talking about them with me? How do you feel about them? Let’s discuss.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I still have time left in the evening and I have only one story left in the collection I’ve been editing, so I’m going to get to work on that. Afterwards, I have a couple more short stories to edit (including one with dragon bats in it), and then…well, I’m not sure. A couple of new short stories? Perhaps a new novel? I’ve certainly been itching to get into something longer. And now that The Pure World Comes is out (check it out on the Readict app), I think I can afford to put together another sixty thousand-plus word story of terror and woe. We’ll see what happens.

Until next time, my Followers of Fear, good night, pleasant nightmares and–OH NO! MY TRUNK NOVELS, AS WELL AS MY TRUNK NOVELLAS, TRUNK NOVELETTES, AND TRUNK SHORT STORIES, HAVE BEEN COMBINED TO FORM A GIANT MONSTER MADE OF PAPER! Excuse me while I get the boom stick and fight it off. Ta ta!

Last month, you might have heard about a novel of mine, The Pure World Comes, being accepted for publication. To be specific, the story was accepted at VitalTek Inc, the owner of the Readict literature app. Here’s the blurb I wrote up for the novel:

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.

Not a bad summary for a Gothic horror novel set during the Victorian era, is it?

What appears on my phone when I pulled up The Pure World Comes today.

Anyway, I’ve a nice surprise for you. As of this morning, The Pure World Comes has been released on Readict’s app! That’s right, it’s out!

Honestly, it feels a little unreal. Things happened so quickly.

Regardless, I’m excited that the book is out and I can’t wait for you all to read it. You can get the Readict app from your app store of choice (I think I use Google on my phone). Please make sure to check it out. And if you do read it, please let me know what you think. Positive or negative, I love reader feedback, and it helps me out in the long run.

As for whether or not it’ll end up on ebook or paperback, I’ll keep that to myself for now. But I never say never.

Of course, I still have plenty of stories in paperback and ebook if you’re interested. I’ll leave links below in case you want to see. I wonder, will you check out my collection of short stories? Or my serial killer thriller? Or the fantasy-horror story of a young woman turned into a plant creature? Whatever you choose, I hope you enjoy it.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I have a busy evening ahead of me with this story out. Until next time, good night, happy reading, and pleasant nightmares!

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

Rose: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada, Audible

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

Agoraphobia: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada

Mother of the King: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada

Richard Chizmar, author of Chasing the Boogeyman.

Back in late 2019, I had the opportunity to interview Richard Chizmar, owner and publisher of Cemetery Dance Publications, as well as the author of several stories (including one or two in collaboration with Stephen King). Well, a lot’s happened since then, and Mr. Chizmar has a new novel called Chasing the Boogeyman that’s just released, Chasing the Boogeyman. In this novel, Chizmar himself plays the protagonist as he returns home post-college to write, prepare for a wedding…and deal with a serial killer that is hunting in his hometown.

I got to sit down with Mr. Chizmar to discuss the new book, the COVID-19 pandemic, and what he’s been reading lately. Here’s what we talked about.

Rami Ungar: Mr. Chizmar, welcome back to the show. Tell us about Chasing the Boogeyman and how the novel came to be.

Richard Chizmar: I always wanted to write a novel set in my hometown of Edgewood, Maryland. I pretty much assumed it would be a big fat coming-of-age horror novel – in the vein of IT or SUMMER OF NIGHT – but that’s not how it worked out. Instead, I couldn’t shake the idea of a small town being held hostage by a monster of the human variety. A town on the verge of losing its innocence and never being able to gain it back. In the summer of 1988, after graduating from college, I got engaged and my fiancée and I decided it would be smart to save rent money until the wedding. So I moved back in with my parents for a period of eight or nine months to work on the first issue of Cemetery Dance and write short stories. It was a strangely wonderful time. There I was standing on the doorstep of full-fledged adulthood, yet I was living in the house I’d grown up in and eating dinner with my mother and father most nights. It was an interesting period in my life, very fertile creatively, and it felt like the perfect setting for a novel about innocence and terror.

RU: You made yourself a character in the novel. Can you tell me how you decided to do that and what writing your character was like? Was it difficult or did you find it easy?

RC: It happened very naturally. When I first started jotting down notes for CHASING THE BOOGEYMAN I quickly realized how much of my true self would be surfacing in the story. I was writing about my past, my family and friends, my hometown, and most importantly, my early life hopes and fears. It just made sense to me, in that moment, that I wouldn’t even pretend to be someone else. Once I got past those normal early feelings of self-doubt, the rest of it was a breeze. It almost felt self-indulgent at times because I was having so much fun.

RU: Speaking of your character, would you say your character is close to what you’re like in real life?

RC: My character in the book is as close to the real me at age twenty-two as I could make him. In real life instances that occurred within the novel, I drew on memory and described them exactly as I remembered. When it came to the make-believe, I asked myself: what do you think you would have done? How do you think you would have acted or reacted? And then I put pen to paper as honestly as I could. That was important to me, and a promise I made to myself when I first started writing the book.  

RU: Going back to the boogeyman in the title, what do you think it is about the boogeyman character that makes it and its equivalents in other cultures enduring figures in our collective imaginations?

RC: Two things: longevity and proximity. The Boogeyman – in its various forms – has been around forever. That dark shape lurking in the woods or the alleyways or the shadowed neighborhood streets has always existed and been feared. And every town has one. Just like every small town has a haunted house located somewhere within its borders, every town also has its Boogeyman.

RU: I’ve been hearing this novel hyped for about a year now. What’s it like having one of the most anticipated novels of 2021?

RC: On the one hand, it’s very exciting when readers are talking about your book so far in advance and there’s a lot of positive press and buzz. On the other hand, it’s also nerve-wracking and can feel like a lot of pressure. I just try to roll with the punches as they come and enjoy the moment. Even eleven months ago when the book was first announced, I knew that publication day would be here before I knew it. From Day One, I’ve been determined to enjoy the process as much as possible. I’ve been in the business now for close to 35 years and CHASING THE BOOGEYMAN is technically my debut novel (GWENDY’S MAGIC FEATHER was billed as a novel, but it’s really a short novella), so it’s natural that it would come with a decent amount of fanfare. I just hope it does well for Simon & Schuster who really believed in the book.

RU: Pivoting to a new subject, you’re still running Cemetery Dance Publications and Cemetery Dance magazine. Have you noticed a change in the fiction you’ve been getting since the COVID-19 pandemic began? If so, what?

RC: That’s an interesting question. Unfortunately, I don’t have an interesting answer. We haven’t been open to public submissions for a while, so I haven’t seen any sort of trends developing. My bet is that we’ll see those trends appearing in published fiction over the next couple years.

RU: I have no doubt about that! Speaking of which, what have you been doing while stuck inside during the pandemic? Has it had an effect on your writing and productivity?

Chasing the Boogeyman. Available now.

RC: I’m pretty much a recluse in even the best of times, so the pandemic didn’t really affect my day-to-day comings and goings as much as it did most folks. In between insanely long bouts of cable news viewing, I managed to write a couple novels and a handful of short stories and essays. I was pretty pleased with that output.

RU: I guess we had a similar pandemic writing experience, then. Now, can you tell us about your upcoming projects?

RC: I’m about to start working on a new novel, which I’m too superstitious to say much about. In February of next year, GWENDY’S FINAL TASK, the third book in the Gwendy Trilogy, will be published. As with the first book, I co-wrote this one with Stephen King and had an absolute blast. Hopefully, after that, there will be a new novel release, as well as a collection of novellas. 

RU: Good luck! And finally, what are some books you’ve read recently that you would recommend to others?

RC: I’ve been on a good run of reading lately. One gem after the other. GOBLIN by Josh Malerman. THE BURNING GIRLS by C.J. Tudor. MY HEART IS A CHAINSAW by Stephen Graham Jones. ROAD OF BONES by Chris Golden. THE FINAL GIRL SUPPORT GROUP by Grady Hendrix. I’ve been spoiled!

RU: Oh, one of those is on my TBR list. Glad to know you recommend it.

If you would like to check out Chasing the Boogeyman, it’s currently out and available wherever fine books are sold (or lent if, like me, you went to your local library). And if you would like to keep up with Richard Chizmar, you can find him on his website, on his Twitter, and on Cemetery Dance’s website and Twitter.

If you would like to check out other author interviews, including my first with Mr. Chizmar, you can find it on my Interviews page.

And if you’re an author with something coming out soon and want to have an interview with me, email me at ramiungar@ramiungarthewriter.com. If I’m available, we can make some magic happen.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’ll be back with a couple of new reviews this week, as well as some other stuff so this blog doesn’t become a review and interview blog (nothing wrong with that, but it’s not what this blog is). Until next time, good night and pleasant nightmares.

There’s a phrase about opportunity and knocking on doors, but I can’t think of what the exact phrase is. Oh well.

So, I recently found out I’m going to be a guest author at the Licking County Local Author Festival in October. For those of you who aren’t familiar, Licking County is one county over from Franklin County, where I live and work. It’s a decent drive, but nothing too strenuous. Anyway, I heard about the festival a while back and signed up. Today, I found out I’m going to be among the authors there. And I hear they may have a special section just for those Halloween-loving, terror-propagating writers such as myself.

Plus food stalls (yum!).

Anyway, if you want to stop by, it’s Saturday, October 16th, 2021 from 10:30 AM – 2 PM at the Downtown Library at 101 West Main Street in Newark, Ohio. I hope you’ll stop by.

And as you already know, we’re just over three weeks away from the Indie Author Book Expo in Aurora, Illinois. That’ll be on September 11th from 10 AM – 3 PM at the Prisco Community Center in Aurora, about an hour west of Chicago. I look forward to driving out there and seeing you there.

Heck, I hope to see you at both events. Authors from all over the place and a variety of backgrounds will be at the book expo and the author festival. We’ll all be meeting readers, helping you find your next great read, and maybe making friendships and connections to last a lifetime along the way. So please, come on out!

And if you can’t make it out but still want to support me, you can always find my stories online (the stories of the other authors are another matter entirely). I’ll provide links below. And if you decide to read one of my stories, please let me know what you think. Positive or negative, I love reader feedback, and it helps me in the long run. Not just by giving me encouragement to write, but by letting other readers know whether they should check out the stories as well.

What will you choose, I wonder? A quick tale about King Arthur or a recluse forced out of his home in a hurricane? The story of a young woman turned into a human/plant hybrid (and that’s just the start of her problems)? A collection of creepy tales that has been scaring audiences for over eight years? Or the tale of a serial killer hunting members of New York’s most powerful mafia family? Whatever you pick, I hope you like it!

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’m off to get shit done. Until next time, good night, pleasant nightmares, and only 75 days till Halloween! Are you excited? Because I am.

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

Rose: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada, Audible

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

Agoraphobia: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada

Mother of the King: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada

I did say in my last post that I was going to try to get my thoughts out on this novel soon. As it happens, I ended up finishing it before bed, and now’s the first time I’ve had the opportunity to write out my thoughts.

The basis for the famous 1999 horror film from Takashi Miike, Audition follows Aoyoma, a father and widower who is ready to date and love again. However, he’s no idea where to start looking for a potential new wife. Luckily for him, his best friend has an idea: they’ll hold auditions for a movie they never intend to make, and Aoyama can pick a girl from any of the applicants. Through this crazy plan, Aoyama meets Yamazaki Asami, a former ballerina who is as mysterious as she is beautiful. And she’s quite beautiful. Problem is, there’s a bit of a dark side to her, and Aoyama is going to discover it pretty quickly. With disastrous consequences.

I may have gone into this one with too-high expectations. I know J-Horror can be hit or miss with me sometimes, but I’ve heard nothing but praise for the movie, so the book had to be good. Right? RIGHT?!

Sadly, I was wrong. As it turned out, this book felt kind of amateurish. The language is elegant and well-written, and the scenario presented within isn’t implausible. And Aoyama’s progression from a salaryman with a somewhat sexist/voyeuristic view of women to a very besotted man with a very narrow view of a particular woman is well written. However, the storyline is basic and nothing special, and there isn’t enough to Aoyama for us to really root for him. I would call it a slow-burn, but there has to be some tension to really make it worth that slow pace. It just comes off as slow and kinda boring.

And Asami’s reasons for becoming the villain that she is feels like it might have been written by a high schooler whose only knowledge of psychology comes from watching Criminal Minds reruns. Not to mention kind of ableist (though that might just be my interpretation).

All told, I’m assigning Audition by Ryu Murakami a 1.3 out of 5. One critic likened it to an early draft or treatment for the movie, and I kind of have to agree with that assessment. It’s the bare bones of what could have been a good, suspenseful story about a man’s love with a twisted femme fatale. As it is, though, it’s at best something to compare to the movie and maybe write an academic paper about.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I have one more review coming up, this one for a movie (not the Audition movie, though I will try to get my hands on that). And if anything else comes up, exciting news or weird musings, I’ll let you know.

Until next time, good night and pleasant nightmares!

I’ve seen Max Booth’s tweets on Twitter a bit, but this was the first time I’ve read one of his works. I was spurred to do so by the trailer for the upcoming film adaptation, which looks terrifying (click this link to watch it). I had an audio book credit and the novel looked short enough, so I downloaded it and got to listening.

We Need To Do Something follows Melissa, a teenage girl who gets home from a friend’s as a massive storm hits the area and tornado sirens wail. As her family hides in the parents’ bathroom (no basement in the house), a tree falls in front of the door, trapping them inside. As Melissa, her little brother Bobby, her mother Diane and her father Robert, struggle with time, hunger, and their own dysfunction, they’ll also go on the ride from Hell. Possibly in more ways than one.

This novel is predicated on the concept “Hell is other people” and I love it!

What I really was blown away by is that everything takes place in the bathroom. Even flashbacks take place in the bathroom, presented as dreams or as hallucinations rather than as full flashbacks. This really gives you the sense of isolation and claustrophobia the characters are feeling. And this space acts like a pressure cooker, forcing them to confront their problems, themselves and each other. It is intense, and the confusion Booth weaves into the narrative only makes it worse. Are they really experiencing all of this? Is part of it something supernatural, or is there an element of shared delusion? You’ll read till the end asking those very same questions.

It doesn’t help that when the outside world does make an appearance, it’s only to make things crazier. Truth be told, you could learn a lot about writing tension from this novel.

As for the characters, you get to know them quite intimately. You also come to like them quite a bit–well, most of them. Robert, Melissa’s father, is an alcoholic with serious anger and toxic masculinity issues, and does not see the irony in calling his daughter a “snowflake” at one point. You love to dislike this guy from early on. But the others, you do start to feel sympathy for the others. None of them are perfect–Melissa has her own anger, Diane has been suffering for years and probably wishes her life was closer to a fifties sitcom than what it really is, and Bobby exists to annoy his sister and make fart and pee jokes–but you do grow to like them. And Melissa especially has more to her than what you meet in the first few pages, which at first glance is a typical phone-obsessed teen who’s annoyed with her folks.

The one downside is that there’s a lot of ambiguity and not everything you’d think would be clarified is. Now, for me that doesn’t really take away from the novel, but for others it’s going to be frustrating.

Altogether, We Need to Do Something by Max Booth III is a terrifying rollercoaster of a novel. On a scale of 1 to 5, I’m giving it a 4.5. Grab a copy, use the toilet real quick (not during a storm, though), and get settled in. You’re going to want to read this one.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’m hoping to get you my thoughts of Audition by Ryu Murakami by the end of the week. And when the movie for this novel comes out, I’ll probably review that too. And I’ll likely have more to say in the near future. Point is, there will be more from me soon.

In the meantime, however, I’ve got work tomorrow, so I’m getting ready for bed. Good night, sleep tight, and pleasant nightmares!