Posts Tagged ‘ParaPsyCon 2021’

June has always been a special month for me. For one thing, it’s the month I was born. But not only that, I have a lot of publishing anniversaries during this month, and this is a lucky anniversary. On this day, seven years ago, Snake was published.

So if you’re not familiar, Snake is my second published novel and third self-published book. The novel follows a young man who descends into madness when a powerful Mafia family takes something important to him. He becomes a serial killer, desperate to get back what he desires most. Even if that means becoming a monster worse than the ones he’s hunting. It’s kind of like the movie Taken meets a slasher movie.

I had a lot of fun writing this novel in college. Along with Taken, it was heavily influenced by slasher movies like Halloween and Friday the 13th, James Patterson’s Alex Cross novels, and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit reruns. I got to tell a really long story, with lots of violence, action, and a complex character whom audiences found themselves rooting for despite the fact that, you know, he’s a serial killer.

And apparently readers agreed. Here’s what some of them had to say:

This book is another awesome creation by Rami. This book is scary and brings the reader to the depths of how evil the human character can be and how anyone can be driven to commit acts of torture. The author does a wonderful job of developing the plot and characters and there are certainly twists and turns. I highly recommend reading this book if you love a good frightening thrill.

ENJ, Amazon

Rami Ungar makes a promise to (the reader) in all his writings: he WILL scare you, and if he does “his job is done.” Snake will scare you. I am a huge Stephen King fan, so this should give you some idea of my tolerance level for gore, death and mayhem – I was scared. Rami takes you into places you would never have believed possible, and manages to pull his hero (and eventually his heroine) out of them against all odds. If you like to be scared. If you LOVE to be scared. You should read this book.

Angela Misri, author of the Portia Adams novels and other books

Riveting story and great characters. I loved this book from front to back.

Leon Sluijter
If you end up getting a copy, please also post a photo. I love seeing people enjoying their print editions of my books.

That last one was actually from Germany. This books has international fans!

And did I mention at ParaPsyCon that this novel was really popular? It was actually my top sellers, more than Rose even! People were drawn in by the cover and then drawn in by the story. I guess a lot of people like serial killer stories.

Despite that, it’s not gotten as many readers or reviews as Rose, so I’m working hard to get more people interested. And that’s part of why I’m posting the anniversary. If this gets people interested in the book, even just a bit, I’ll be happy.

And if you like what you’re reading in this blog post, please consider checking out the novel using the links below. And if you like what you read, please let me know somehow. Positive or negative, I love reader feedback, and it helps me, as well as other readers, out in the long run.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’m having a four-day weekend, so I’ll be out celebrating my freedom and life and Snake. Until next time, don’t get into strange cabs at night after receiving mysterious phone calls and pleasant nightmares!

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

(WARNING: Light spoilers ahead. You’ve been warned)

I’ve heard this book mentioned so many times in one of my Facebook groups. And when I heard earlier this year that a movie adaptation being made, I knew I would read it eventually. I downloaded the audio book from Audible and started listening over ParaPsyCon weekend. And I can see why it’s been mentioned so much.

Also, don’t let the goofy, Goosebumps-esque title fool you. This is a straight up horror story.

My Best Friend’s Exorcism chronicles the friendship of Abby Rivers and Gretchen Lang, two girls of very different backgrounds growing up in the 1980s. During their sophomore year, after a night of partying, Gretchen’s personality and health takes a change. Abby, frightened and confused, worries about what is happening to her best friend. Is it drugs? Mental illness? Or something else? Something very evil and dark? Something that has a dark purpose for Gretchen, and for everyone else.

Damn! What a horror novel! And definitely up there with Stranger Things when it comes to decent 80s nostalgia stories.

The strongest point of this novel is definitely the relationship between Abby and Gretchen. You see how it first formed during Abby’s tenth birthday party, the ups-and-downs of the early teen years, and finally into high school, when both girls are at the height of popularity but also at their closest. Like it says in the opening, they are friends when the word can draw blood. And even before anything scary happens, the strong phrases and emotional writing centered around their relationship is enough to engross the reader.

And that helps pack a huge punch when things start getting dark. You feel Abby’s concern as she notices Gretchen’s condition change and deteriorate. And as things continue to get worse, you really start to worry. Not just for Gretchen, but for Abby, who becomes almost obsessed with Gretchen’s condition.

Speaking of which, you’re just as confused as you are worried for Gretchen. There’s a lot of ambiguity around what’s causing all these changes, and it doesn’t really get resolved until close to the end of the book. Even when it starts throwing clues about what actually causes the change, there’s enough red herrings left to confuse you.

The scares are decent, as well. There are plenty of scenes that made me cringe while listening. Scarier than the horror, however, is the terror of growing up and of interacting with others. Abby learns throughout the novel just how difficult the real world is, as well as how little help adults can be. And then, during a particularly bad section of the novel, Abby finds herself socially isolated and it’s hard to listen to. Even curmudgeons hate to be isolated from the rest of the world, so it’s hard for Abby. And for us, the reader.

I also liked how the novel approached the topic of exorcism and divine power. It was a nice twist on an old trope, and not just for being outside the Roman Catholic tradition (do you know how rare that is in and of itself?).

And as for 80s references, they are everywhere and they are neither excessive nor done tastelessly.

If there are a few things I can criticize, I thought the opening chapter was a bit of a fake out. And then there were some things about the denouement I wish had been different.

Still, I did enjoy this novel. On a scale of 1 to 5, My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix earns a solid 5. A dark and heart wrenching slow burn which will get you right in the feels, as well as the 80s nostalgia. I look forward to seeing how the movie adapts the novel, as well as reading Grady Hendrix’s other work (I just acquired his original novel Horrorstor). And in the meantime, I hope you’ll give it a read as well.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. If nothing occurs between now and Friday, I’ll be back with a review of the next Conjuring film (lot of exorcism-themed stuff lately, isn’t there?). So until next time, pleasant nightmares!

As I mentioned at the end of my recap of ParaPsyCon, I would talk about the supernatural parts of my trip in another post. Congratulations, here’s that post!

So, after the setup session on Friday afternoon, we had a bit of time to grab dinner before vendors who had signed up in advance could get a haunted tour of the prison. Because, as we all know by now, Ohio State Reformatory is one of the most haunted prisons in America (click here and here for my past experiences at the prison). I grabbed some dinner, then came back to the prison. Plenty of other vendors were there early, so we stuck around taking photos and discussing ghost hunting/the paranormal/our various booths/etc. About 7:30, they let us into the prison and we started checking in. After that, we were divided into three groups. I was in Group 3, the smallest group, with the tour guide Lindsay leading the way.

I also had my writing colleague Tim McLaughlin, who you might have seen in the last ParaPsyCon post, was also in the group, and he filmed one of the videos taken during the tour.

And that’s a good point to bring up that I took plenty of video during the Ghost Walk. Below are the videos I took that I uploaded to my YouTube channel and either contain blatantly supernatural events or just interesting events during the story. Let me know if you catch anything I might have missed in the video, like EVPs or other unexplained phenomena.

The first video was taken right in front of Old Sparky, the electric chair housed at the Reformatory. Now, just to be clear, no scheduled executions ever took place at OSR, let alone with the electric chair. The executions took place at a prison in Columbus. After being retired, the chair was put into a warehouse before OSR scooped it up. And it apparently brought some of the spirits who died in that chair with them. In fact, Lindsay reported that some of these spirits, who may have been the worst of the worst in life, have been bullying the spirits of the prison!

And that leads to this video, which was taken with the Ghost Tube app on my phone.

This video is short, but what’s featured is extraordinary. In ghost hunting, you sometimes ask questions you already know the answer to in order to see if we’re actually speaking to a spirit and not just getting random responses. So, when I got a response that matched up with the historical record, that was a sign that we were speaking with an intelligent entity, not just getting random answers on the dowsing rods. Proof of the paranormal!

Later, we went into some of the more administrative parts of the prison, which led to the Chair Room, infamous for both its lack of windows and its titular, possibly haunted piece of furniture.

This video doesn’t contain too many paranormal instances beyond the messages I got on the app (and I don’t have any clue what they were referring to), but the stories were quite interesting. Imagine if someone was able to test if the chair did move through the night. What could happen?

My last video took place in the West Cell Block Attic, which is usually off the regular tours. As Lindsay says below, there was a time when the worst of the worst had to be stored in that attic temporarily due to a fire. They were kept separate from the regular population, who were non-violent first-time offenders. Not surprisingly, we got a few spirits in there, and one of them may have spoken to me during the video. What they said had an interesting parallel to what Lindsay says later in the video.

Please be aware, the video is restricted to 18+ viewers due to some nasty language in the video. Can’t be too careful, can you?

Pretty cool, huh? I hope I can someday do a proper investigation in the attic as well. Though if the spirits are in a bad mood, that could end up being dangerous.

Did anything weird happen that wasn’t caught on camera? Well, we might have gotten a few odd smells, especially in the warden’s living area. One warden and his wife are said to haunt the area and you can sometimes smell her rosewater perfume. I don’t think I smelled anything, but some other people might have.

In a couple places, I swear I heard whispers with no discernable source. In one room in particular, one with two large closets, I heard whispers from the closet further back from me. I looked inside, but there was no one there. I mentioned it to LIndsay, and she said I probably heard something after all.

Then, while going through the West Cell Block, I stopped by James Lockhart’s cell (you may remember him from some of my previous videos). I didn’t have a lot of time to ask him anything on the dowsing rods, let alone film it, but I did ask him how he was doing. He said he was well, which was nice. He died by self-immolation, so I’m happy to hear he’s doing better.

Later, in the shower room, Lindsay used her own dowsing rods to introduce us to the Baseball Team, a group of nine spirits who are obsessed with the Dodgers (though they prefer them from before they moved to LA and were known as The Bums). She says these spirits like to hear the latest baseball scores and will hang out with the prison archivist in the library when the latter is working. From what Lindsay says, the archivist will play movies and music for them and see what they like using dowsing rods (obviously, they’re sick of Shawshank Redemption).

I managed to ask using my own dowsing rods if they might be interested in audio books, and even got a response. Apparently, they would like audio books, but they’re not interested in fantasy. They are, however, interested in horror. I told this to Lindsay later and she mentioned she would pass it onto the archivist, but I’ll have to follow up to see if she actually did.

Hmm…perhaps I’ll get some fans on the other side if I send them an audio copy of Rose.

Other than that, nothing supernatural that I can recall. There were some moments where I thought I saw something, but it turned about to be something ordinary. In solitary, for example, I thought I saw an orb, but it turned out to be a reflection from the exit sign off a security camera. DEBUNKED!

And then on Sunday, right before the convention started, one of my neighbors and I thought we saw a bright light moving across the ceiling. Sadly, that was just a reflection off someone’s watch. DEBUNKED!

All in all, I had a lot of fun with this Vendor Ghost Walk. Yeah, I would love to have spent more time in various areas and trying to catch some spooky happenings. Maybe even on camera. But it was still cool to see some of the history and hauntings I wasn’t aware of or forgot about since my last trip to the prison. And taking a tour with so many other vendors was fun too.

If you ever get the chance to do a ghost walk at the Ohio State Reformatory, I highly recommend it. It may even whet your appetite to do a private ghost hunt, something I hope to do someday.

Well, that’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I have exercise to do, stories to write, and other tasks to take care of. I’ll catch you on the flipside. Make sure to check out my YouTube channel in the meantime. And until next time, pleasant nightmares!

I’m sure you’re all champing at the bit to hear how ParaPsyCon was. And I think the best word to describe it would be AWESOME! I mean, it was a convention full of ghost hunters, psychics and mediums, and authors, among others, inside the Ohio State Reformatory, one of my favorite places on Earth (as well as one of the most haunted). I got to meet so many cool people, hear about so many different businesses and places, and, of course, I may have minted some new Followers of Fear.

Now, of course I took a lot of pictures and video. In fact, I created this YouTube video, which you can see below.

Fun fact: this video was originally supposed to be longer, but due to a glitch some of the footage I took got corrupted. I figured out what caused it and how to avoid it in the future, but I had to make some cuts because of the issue.

Which is unfortunate, because even if the video was at the intended length, you only get so much from it. ParaPsyCon was an experience, and the video only relays so much of that experience. So, let me tell you all about my trip to the Ohio State Reformatory this past weekend and what occurred there.*

I love coming to this place.

So, if you’re unaware, ParaPsyCon is a convention held at the Ohio State Reformatory, an old prison in Mansfield, Ohio that’s now a museum, filming location (most notably The Shawshank Redemption), and haunted hotspot. The convention was held in three areas across two floors: the West Cell Block, where the bigger tables and the celebrities were (I don’t show it in the video, but the prison showers were turned into a makeshift auditorium. I wish I’d taken a photo, it was so surreal); the Central Guard Room, which one could call the center of the convention; and the East Diagonal Room, where I was situated.

And this convention had everything. Ghost hunters and paranormal groups were showing us their equipment and the books about their experiences, while mediums were doing readings and authors like myself were trying to rope in new readers (I also did Tarot readings). But that was just a small fraction of the booths. There were people selling T-shirts, jewelry, self-care products. One or two booths specialized in reiki healing, while one woman near me was selling jewelry she said could improve moods and mental states. There was another table advertising the Haunted 1889 McInteer House in Kansas (a place I’m adding to my next list of haunted locations), while down the row from me were a mother and daughter selling creepy dolls which I wished I could afford.

My friend Tim McWhorter’s booth looks pretty cool.
Tim McLaughlin and his wife Carol at their booth.
The table I mentioned with the creepy dolls. I wish I could have bought them, but they cost too much for me!
Did I forget to mention meeting Bumpy, the mascot for the Bump in the Night Society?

Not to mention the number of tables selling New Age products, cool sculptures and crystals and jewelry, homemade soaps and snacks, books and Tarot cards and so much more. There was an even a table for a group that believes Bigfoot might be real, if you can believe it! And who knows? While I’m skeptical, there’s plenty in this world I don’t know about.

Of course, I already had a few friends at this convention. Greg and Kathy Fetekik of Tri-C Ghost Hunters, whom you may remember from my trip to the Bellaire House last year, were running the convention and it was cool to see them again. Plus, there was Tim McWhorter and Tim McLaughlin, whom you saw in the video, two authors I’ve gotten to know fairly well through HWA Ohio and through Twitter. It was nice seeing them.

And it was nice seeing so many people at the convention. We had a really good turnout, which I chalk up to a number of factors, including the location, convention subject, and people just wanting to get out during a pandemic. I’m not sure how many people were there, but the parking lot was full both times I went out to grab lunch (they had concessions in front of the prison), and they had cars parked on the grass. So there’s that.

Hell, even my dad and stepmom stopped by to see how I was doing. That was a nice surprise (and yes, they were originally supposed to be in the video, but their footage was corrupted as well).

My table wasn’t the most extravagant, but it still got some good traffic.

My favorite part though was probably all the people coming to my booth. I actually got quite a bit of traffic, even though my booth was one of the more understated of the convention. I handed out a lot of my business cards, but I also got to do plenty of Tarot readings, which most people found accurate to their circumstances. I’ve gotten very good at reading Tarot since Iowa last year, so I think that helped. That and maybe my cards really are magic.

And, of course, I got to sell some books. All my books–The Quiet Game, Snake, and Rose, as well as the chapbooks of “Agoraphobia” and “Mother of the King”–sold copies. And it was a delight to have so many people get excited to read my work, and then to sign said work for them. I hope I get to hear from them soon about what they thought.

All in all, I consider ParaPsyCon a great experience and came home exhausted but glad I went. I made some great memories (not to mention bought some great souvenirs), and managed to make about double what I put down on my table. And I got some great ideas on how to improve for next year should I go (which I think is a good possibility). For one thing, I’m investing in a sign with changeable letters, so that could draw in more attendees who like horror at future conventions.

For now though, I’ve got video evidence to review, souvenirs to hang up, a podcast tomorrow (click here to check that out), and–oh yeah, stories to write. Not to mention, I’ve got things I can’t talk about yet until the time is right and a day job that’s eating up a lot of my time. So I’ll catch up with you later, my Followers of Fear. I hope this post made you want to consider going to the next ParaPsyCon, no matter where you are right now.

Either that, or subscribe to my YouTube channel. Or both. I’m not picky.

Until next time, pleasant nightmares!

*I’ll be saving the supernatural stuff for another post, as I still have to look over some of the footage I took and see if I got anything spooky on camera. However, I can say that I did experience some things, so keep an eye out for more videos and another post.

I know you all are desperate to hear about ParaPsyCon went after this past weekend. And believe me, I want nothing more than to tell you about it. However, getting that post out is going to take time. Especially when you have a day job and need to sleep.

But I didn’t want you to think I had fallen off the face of the Earth or anything, so I thought I’d let you know about a piece of good news. I recently wrote and had another article accepted by Ginger Nuts of Horror, the same website that published my article on that the spider scene in 1958’s The Fly. This article, however, is quite different. This article is about THE THEATER!!!

“When The Theaters Reopen, They Should Do More Horror Stories,” is about how Broadway and the West End, as well as local and regional theaters, should consider putting on more horror-themed productions. Why? Because theater is going to be very popular once the pandemic is over (let’s face it, we love the experience), both theater and horror are escapes for their respective audiences, and after the horrors we’ve experienced during this pandemic, we could use a double escape.

Of course, I go into more detail as to why we should have more horror productions and even give some suggestions as to stories that I feel would make great stageplays or musicals. Obviously, I avoided my own work,* as well as the classics and Stephen King (he’s had more than a few stageplays based on his work). What works did I suggest? You’ll have to read the article yourself to find out.

And then, if you can and willing, I hope you’ll help me make this pitch a reality. I would love to see some more horror stories on stage. Whether it would be a Broadway show or something more local.

Speaking of which, you can read the article by clicking this link. I hope you like it and let me know what you think. Also, what are some works you think would make some great stageplays? Other than mine, of course.**

Also, a big thanks to Ginger Nuts of Horror for publishing another article by me. I’m happy you like what I have to say and feel it’s worth sharing. Hopefully, I can send you something else in the near future. Especially with at least one story coming out this year (fingers crossed for another one at some point or another).

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I am tired, so I’m going to go to bed. Hopefully tomorrow I can at least start on my recap of ParaPsyCon. Until then, good night and pleasant nightmares.

*Though I would be flattered if someone wanted to adapt my work for the stage.

**I mean, you could mention my work if you wanted. Just remember, flattery won’t get you anywhere with me.

Hello humans. Can you believe we’re two-thirds of the way through the month of May? Time is flying by almost too quickly. Though with the fun coming my way, I’m not sad or angry.

Anyway, I wanted to give you a heads up on some of the stuff going on in my professional life. Things are cropping up, and I want to make sure that you are all aware. And I hope some of you would like to know.

First, I’ll be joining my friend Dellani Oakes on her podcast What’s Write for Me on Wednesday! That’s right, I’ll be back on my good friend’s podcast for the first time since Rose first came out. That’s about two years, so I’m glad to finally have a reason to be back on the show. A few, actually: including my Arthurian fantasy “Mother of the King” and my creepy short story “Agoraphobia,” I have my short story “The Divorce from God” being published in The Jewish Book of Horror this Hanukkah and my article “The Horror of the Broken Child” in House of Stitched Publications. And who knows? I may have more good news to talk about when the show starts.

The logo for Dellani’s show.

So, why not get on now while I have the chance?

And even better, I’ll be joined by Scott Moses, an author and editor I’ve recently had the pleasure to get to know over Twitter. He’s got a new project or two to talk about, so I’m looking forward to hearing what he’s going to talk about and what we’re going to talk about with Dellani.

Anyway, if you would like to check out the show, it’ll be on Wednesday, May 26th, 2021 at 4 PM by clicking on this link. Also, make sure to check out Dellani’s website by clicking here. She writes more stories than I do, so who knows? You might find something you’d enjoy.

On another, much sadder note, I’m sad to say that Indie Author Book Expo Chicago has been canceled. Yeah, I’m sad too. But it looks like there was a COVID-19 issue with the venue, and I am very happy that the organizers are putting our health first. Speaking of whom, the organizers are looking for alternative venues in the Chicago area. However, at this time, I am guessing that I’ll have to find something else to do this June 19th, 2021 (and so will you). Too bad. I was looking forward to driving to and from Chicago. My first interstate road trip!

Sad to say, but this is canceled.

Anyway, I’ll let you know if it gets rescheduled and where and when. Keep an eye here for that here and on my social media pages. I’ll include links below.

This weekend!

On the bright side, guess what’s still going on this weekend? If you guessed ParaPsyCon, you are correct!

This Saturday and Sunday, ParaPsyCon will be held at the Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, OH! I’m so excited to be heading back to the Reformatory and to be participating in this awesome convention. There will be ghost hunters, authors, psychics and mediums (oh my!), and so many others. All it takes to attend is to buy a self-guided tour of the prison, and you get automatic access to the convention. You can learn more by clicking on the link here. Hope to see you there.

Anyway, that’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I hope I’ll get to see you in some form or another soon. In the meantime, stay safe, enjoy the beautiful weather this weekend, and pleasant nightmares.

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I’ve always considered that receiving fan art is one of the highest compliments you can receive as a creator, as well as a sign that you really have made it as an author, illustrator, mangaka, YouTuber, video game designer, whatever. Last week, as I was celebrating the accomplishments of both a short story and an article being accepted by various publishers, I received another reason to celebrate: fan art.

Now, you might have seen on my blog, as well as on some of my social media accounts, mentions of my dragon bats. What are the dragon bats? Well, they’re bats, obviously. They’re big enough to earn the designation dragon, with a ten-foot wingspan. They have tough skin on their bellies that looks kind of scaly. They are carnivorous, and while they don’t breathe fire, their bites are either full of potent venom or very dangerous pathogens that can kill you in minutes. Either way, they’re like Komodo dragons: they’re the biggest of their kind, we’re not sure what’s in their bite, and we have to be very careful while finding out. And they have dragon in the name, though neither are proper dragons (Komodo dragons are actually the largest species of monitor lizards).

Also, a group of dragon bats is known as a coven. Just worth mentioning.

Anyway, the mention of my beautiful dragon bats inspired the artistic side of a particular Follower of Fear, my friend and fellow author Iseult Murphy. Before I knew it, she’d created a couple of pieces of fan art featuring her interpretation of the dragon bats. The first, which I received Friday, is below.

Pretty neat, huh? As you can see, I am on the right unleashing my dragon bats on what I can only assume is either a hapless victim or one of my noisier neighbors (I have a few, unfortunately). Said victim has lost their head while blood spurts out, which the dragon bats are slurping up. And at the top of the picture is “Congrats,” referring to my story and article being accepted.

Obviously, I loved it, so I went ahead and shared it across my Twitter, Facebook and Instagram profiles. Besides being from a friend, I was flattered that anyone was interested enough to create art based on my ideas and stories. And it was good artwork too, to boot.

Then yesterday, I got another surprise from Iseult. She made another piece of fan art!

I like this one too. It shows three dragon bats on a branch having a nap after gorging on blood and meat from helpless victims. I love the sheer amount of detail in this picture. The branches have a lot of detail you would expect from tree branches in real life, and I love how all three have different colors and characteristics. Kind of like Danaerys Targaryen’s dragon babies.

I love this artwork too, and obviously spread it around the social media channels too. And, as you can see, I decided to post both pieces here on my blog so they could be appreciated by a wider audience. But I also got to thinking. If the dragon bats were getting fan art, I should really write them into a story. Maybe give Iseult and other potential readers something for their creatives sides to cogitate on.

And yesterday, I did come up with a story. A short story or novelette featuring the dragon bats that I might work on later this year. It’ll be dark, creepy, and yes, very bloody and gory. And don’t worry Iseult, I’ll let you beta read it when it’s done. I won’t put you into the story, however. I only do that to people who have really wronged me in the past.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed Iseult’s interpretations of the dragon bats. If you see one or a coven in the future, please find some sort of shelter and hide, because they are vicious. And if you want to check out Iseult’s blog, which you can find here, I recommend you do. She does great fiction reviews and publishes her own dark and creepy fiction as well.

And thanks again for the fan art, Iseult. It means a lot to me and makes me really feel like I’ve made it as an author. I hope my strange ideas and stories continue to inspire you and many other creators in the future.


One last thing: I’m sure you’re tired of hearing this, but ParaPsyCon will be held this coming weekend, May 22nd and 23rd, at the Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, OH. This is the biggest convention of authors, ghost hunters, psychics and mediums, and more around, at one of America’s most historic and haunted prisons. Cost of admission is one ticket for a self-guided tour of the prison, $25. I’ll be there selling copies of my books, reading Tarot, and hopefully having fun, so stop by if you can and say hi. More information on the website here.

Also, I’ll be in Chicago for Indie Author Book Expo Chicago at the Quarry Chi on June 19th, 2021. This is a small expo of an eclectic gathering of authors, so you’re bound to find something there that’s up your alley. So if you’re in the area, please stop by and say hi. You can find out more information on the website here.

And if you’re unable to make either of those events but still want to support me, I’ve got links to my books below. Please consider checking them out and, if you like what you read, please consider leaving a review somewhere. Positive or negative, I love reader feedback and it helps me, as well as other readers looking for something to read, in the long run.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I have to go feed my coven of dragon bats and then work on some of my side projects. Until next time, stay safe, hope to see you soon, and pleasant nightmares!

Agoraphobia: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada

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

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

Snake: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooksSmashwords, and Kobo

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

I recently was able to watch the new Netflix true-crime docuseries “The Sons of Sam.” For those of you who haven’t seen it, the docuseries follows how a man named Maury Terry became convinced in the wake of the arrest, conviction, and incarceration of David Berkowitz, AKA the Son of Sam Killer, that Berkowitz didn’t commit all the murders and was in fact part of a Satanic cult. Berkowitz himself claimed to be part of such a cult, naming the sons of Sam Carr, the man who owned the demon dog (and who, by the way, were both dead and unable to defend themselves at the time of the allegations), as members.

Now, I’m not here to argue whether or not Berkowitz was the lone killer. Most historians and investigators agree anyway that the claims of a cult are unlikely for a number of reasons. Berkowitz himself has been diagnosed as antisocial and seems to enjoy the attention, so he would say anything to stay in the spotlight/keep up the image he’s built for himself since first getting arrested.

What I’m here to talk about is the true horror of the docuseries. It’s not how terrifying Berkowitz and his crimes were, though that is scary too. Nor is it the idea of a nationwide Satanic cult that Berkowitz may have been part of (and which, given how often it keeps cropping up in American history, feels more silly than scary nowadays). It’s the price of obsession. Of becoming so sure of an idea or a hidden truth, that you look for anything that could be considered evidence and end up linking things that might not be evidence at all. You may even lose sight of objective reality and the truth, as well as the respect of your peers and relationships with your loved ones, just to find what you are looking for.

The doucseries revolves around the conspiracy theory that David Berkowitz did not commit the Son of Sam murders alone.

And quite often, what you’ve been looking for has been right in front of you all along. You just refused to see it.

We see this play out with Maurice Terry in “Sons of Sam.” After Berkowitz is arrested and sent to jail, Terry believes that Berkowitz may not have committed all the murders or acted alone because most of the police sketches don’t resemble him or because one or two people saw Berkowitz far from the site of a Son of Sam murder minutes before it happened. Rather than chalking it up to disguises, the noted unreliability of police sketches, or that all these sightings took place at night under low visibility settings, Terry believes there may have been multiple people involved in the shootings.

This leads to him looking into Berkowitz’s hometown and alleged Satanic rituals occurring near Berkowitz’s home, which leads to conversations with people who claim to have belonged to the cult or know people who were, including the Carr brothers mentioned above. He goes on to link the Manson murders, the murder of a woman at Stanford University, and the deaths of a billionaire and a filmmaker to the cult, the last two being members who were allegedly killed to silence them.

And sometimes it seems convincing. Mutilated German shepherds were found in the park near Berkowitz’s home, as well as Satanic graffiti. Charles Manson was likely influenced by belief systems such as Christianity, Satanism, and Scientology, just to name a few. Some of the people who knew or met the Carr brothers say they were interested in the occult and at least one of them was afraid of being followed. And Berkowitz, as we stated above, has said he was part of a cult, though he refuses to name names other than the dead.

The problem is, none of these can be definitively proven as being Satanic. Yes, dogs were mutilated near the park, but there’s no way to prove that it was Satanic or Berkowitz was linked. Satanic graffiti can be found all over the place (I saw plenty in the college bathrooms at Ohio State), and doesn’t mean Satanists are at work. Manson and his followers never claimed to be linked to any other group, though they’ve at times claimed that Manson was God, Jesus and the Devil all at once. The Carr brothers aren’t around to defend themselves, and we don’t have enough information to know if they suffered from mental illness or if their alleged interest in the occult was serious. A couple of the murdered people Terry linked to the cult have since been solved and have mundane, if horrible, explanations.

And Berkowitz, as noted, is likely a psychopath who enjoys the attention. He would say anything if it keeps him in the spotlight.

The horror of consipracy theories is that, while they seem plausible and preferable, they hide the truth and can destroy so much in the lives of believers.

We especially see this in the interviews Terry has with Berkowitz. A lot of the questions Terry asks Berkowitz seem leading, and he seems less concerned with getting to the truth than with confirming what he already believes. Berkowitz himself doesn’t give any new information that can be investigated, like a name for an active member of the cult or where proof like member logs or photographs can be found. But Terry believes it, because he wants to believe.

And that’s the horror. Terry has woven a spider web of possible links and maybe connections around himself. And it’s so tightly and thickly woven with “facts” that he’s unable to see anything that might disprove this theories. He, and those who believe like him, only see the idea of the cult that they say committed the Son of Sam murders. In the process, Terry drives away many people close to him, ruins his credibility as a journalist, and suffers from health issues while searching for his truth. And in the end, he dies still pursuing his truth.

It’s unfortunately an all-too common story. Since time immemorial, mankind has spun spiderwebs of conspiracy theories around themselves and others, refusing to see the truth because it doesn’t fit with their worldview or beliefs. In the US alone, we’ve seen it time and time again with a variety of boogeymen and alleged cover ups. Since 1692, the idea of Satanists operating in the US has been especially prevalent, most recently gaining new life in the 1980s with the Satanic Panic (which Terry unintentionally contributed to trying to convince people of his beliefs) and with today’s QAnon conspiracy.

The result is not just the actual truth being ignored or denied by many people. It can lead to lost relationships, ordinary people being misled, the ruination of reputations, laws being broken, and day-to-day life being severely disrupted. Occasionally, lives are even lost.

And all because someone sees something, may not like or understand what it means, and an alternative presents itself that seems to make more sense. To an outsider, it can seem impossible and extraordinary when so many different and unrelated people, events or things are connected or enlisted to “support” the central idea of the theory. But to the believer, it’s all so simple, and if the connections out of left field help to make the core idea make sense or more believable, or if powerful figures back it up for whatever reason, all the better.

It’s preferable to admitting that a sick and twisted individual work alone and takes lives for their own sheer pleasure. Or that some people have never liked a former President because of what he said/stood for and enough came out and voted against him to keep him from a second term. Or that horrible stuff happens, and there isn’t some grand, simple, good-vs-evil reason behind it.

And to admitting you might’ve been fooled and gone through so much just to be wrong.


If you want to check out “The Sons of Sam” docuseries on Netflix, by all means go ahead. I’m not saying you shouldn’t. Just go in with quite a bit of salt. It may make what you’re watching feel more psychologically difficult, because it’ll feel like you’re watching someone fall down a bottomless pit of conspiracy and experiencing the fallout of it. But it’s a fascinating watch nonetheless, and it might deepen your understanding of the allure and journey into conspiracy.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. Thanks for reading through my entire TED talk. I just wanted to discuss what I’d watched and how it made me feel. I had no idea it would get this long. Hopefully, I made it interesting enough.

Anyway, I plan to have a shorter but just as exciting post out before too long. Until then, you know me. I’ll be busy writing stories and trying to find them homes, as well as experiencing (and in some cases, causing) all the terrifying phenomena I can. Should be fun.

Also, ParaPsyCon is only two weeks away. This is the biggest convention of authors, ghost hunters, mediums, psychics and more around, and it’ll be held on May 22nd and 23rd at the Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, OH. Cost of admission is just purchasing a self-guided tour of the former prison, about $25. I’ll be there as well, so I hope you’ll stop by and say hi. You can get more information by checking out the website here.

Until next time, Followers of Fear, stay safe, have a good weekend, and pleasant nightmares.

Yep, I’m doing this again. But I gotta make sure people know. Otherwise, how will people know to come?

So, if you’re unaware, I’m doing some events as an author this spring and summer. And, in the hopes that some of my Followers of Fear might join me at one or two of them, I’m updating you on the details of each.

First off, we have ParaPsyCon 2021, which I’m glad to say is happening! ParaPsyCon is a convention hosting plenty of ghost hunters, psychics and mediums, and authors (including yours truly), among other things. The convention takes place this May 22nd and 23rd at the Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, OH. If you recognize this building, it’s the former prison where they filmed Shawshank Redemption, and is one of the most famous haunted prisons in America. Cost of admission is just one ticket for a self-guided tour of the prison, so you can see where they filmed famous scenes from the movie and then check out the convention.

I’ll be there selling copies of my books, including chapbooks of “Mother of the King” and “Agoraphobia,” as well as doing Tarot readings and selling a few other odds and ends. And who knows? Maybe I’ll catch a ghost on camera. You never know. Anyway, hope to see you there. And if you want more information, please click on the link here.

The other event I’m currently scheduled to be at (assuming I don’t sell out at ParaPsyCon), is the Indie Author Book Expo, or IABE, in Chicago on June 19th. And as you can see, I’ve included the posters above.

IABE Chicago is from the same group who hosted the expo I was at in Des Moines last year (you can read all about that here). It’s got a very eclectic mix of authors coming by the Quarry Chi in Chicago. So, if any of my Followers of Fear, or anyone who would be interested, happen to be in Chicago (or Illinois in general), please feel free to stop by. And for more information on IABE’s events, click this link here.

Anyway, that’s all I got going on right now, my Followers of Fear. I’m trying to set up more events for summer and fall, particularly around the Halloween season, so I’ll let you know if any of that turns out to be successful. In the meantime, I hope some of you are able to stop by the events. And if you’re not able to, then maybe consider alleviating your boredom and supporting me at the same time by checking out some of my stories.

Yes, I’m doing another plug for my books, but can you blame me? Gotta get them into readers’ hands somehow!

Anyway, I’ll leave the links to my work below. And if you like what you read, please consider leaving a review online. Reviews not only help me out, but they also help other readers decide whether or not a story is worth their time.

That’s all for now. Until next time, my Followers of Fear, stay safe and pleasant nightmares!

Agoraphobia: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada

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

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

Snake: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooksSmashwords, and Kobo

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

I can’t remember who first said that to me, or whether it was said to me in a tweet or a Zoom chat. I also can’t remember if I’ve been saying it to others who have been dealing with rejections (my memory can be like a sieve some days). Nevertheless, it’s been on my mind a lot lately, as I’ve had a few rejections lately, and I thought I would share it.

“If you’re getting rejections, then you’re probably doing something right.”

It’s true, you know. Yeah, nobody likes getting rejections. We would rather just have things come to us, including story acceptances. We don’t like to hear that these stories we’ve thrown our sweat, blood and tears into aren’t wanted or acceptable or good enough for the publication or publisher in question. Enough that you want to stop submitting.

Which, I guarantee, every author has gone through at least once.

However, you know what you could be doing? Not submitting at all, which would mean no chance to get accepted OR rejected. You’d be cutting yourself off from any chance to get that story out there. Sure, you’d be free from rejections, but what’s the chance someone would discover your stories another way and ensure that it reached a wide audience who might love it? Probably not very high.

So, keep submitting, because that ensures you’re getting your work out there. Even if you get rejections, consider it discovering just one place that isn’t right for your story. You just have to try the next place, and keep writing, polishing, submitting and hopefully someday you’ll get that publication.

That’s what I tell myself. And it works.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I just wanted to get this off my chest and share it with you. If you need me, I’m about sixty pages away from finishing the latest draft of River of Wrath and submitting it. Hopefully it won’t be rejected (though if it is, at least I know that publisher wasn’t the right place for the book).

And while I still have your attention, this is a reminder that ParaPsyCon 2021 is just over a month away. This is a convention of ghost hunters, purported mediums, and authors taking place at the historic Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, Ohio (filming location of The Shawshank Redemption). This year, it’ll be May 22nd-23rd, 2021 and the cost of admission is the same as entry to the prison, about $25. I’ll be among the vendors there, so I hope you’ll stop by if you’re able. You can find more information about the convention HERE.

Until next time, my Followers of Fear, pleasant nightmares!