Posts Tagged ‘publishing’

I know I said I’m trying to cut back on this self-promoting stuff, but you have to admit this is a good enough reason to post.

So, as you all probably know by now, some writer friends of mine and I formed a publishing press, Cracked Skull Press, and are doing a Kickstarter campaign for our first anthology, “That Which Cannot Be Undone.” Every story within the anthology will be set in Ohio, written by Ohio horror writers, and center around the theme “that which cannot be undone.” If we make our funding goal, we plan to release it in October.

And guess what? As of today, seven days before the end of the campaign, we’re just $999 away from making our funding goal! I know! You cannot imagine how excited we are by reaching this milestone.

Of course, we need your help to reach the finish line, so we would be honored if you would pledge your support to the anthology. Folks who do will be listed in the Donors section at the end of the book, but you can also get an electronic and print copy of the anthology sent free of charge; signed copies of books by the contributing authors; amazing swag, including Ohio horror-themed Tarot cards (you’ll plotz when you see who’s on the Death and Devil cards); and for our highest pledges, you could come to our release party with a plus one! You can use the link here to contribute: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/crackedskullproject1/that-which-cannot-be-undone-an-ohio-horror-anthology

And if you’ve already pledged and want to pledge more, you can use the “manage pledge” feature on Kickstarter to increase your pledge. Just saying.

Anyway, thank you all for pledging and sharing the Kickstarter campaign. Working on this anthology has been such a journey and we’re so glad to see that it looks like we might reach our funding goal. And we at Cracked Skull Press know we wouldn’t get this far without you. We can’t wait to show you your support and faith was well worth it.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I just wanted to log on and let you all know where the campaign stands. You’ll hear from me again about this on the results of the campaign. In the meantime, one more thing I want to mention:

A week from this Saturday, January 29th, 2022, I’ll be at the Lafayette Hotel in Marietta, Ohio for the Hidden Marietta Paranormal Expo. It’s a convention full of ghost hunters, psychics, paranormal enthusiasts, and one or two authors like me, which you know is going to be fun! I’ll be there signing books and doing Tarot readings, so I hope to see you there!

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

I’ve been wanting to post something for the past several days, but I have nothing to really post about. But I’ve been getting antsy and current events are not helping (type “Texas synagogue” into Google and you’ll understand why), so I’m blogging about things going on in my life. If only just to distract myself and to let you all know I’m still alive.

And if you Googled what’s happening in Texas, please pray to the deity of your choice that everything turns out alright.

So, in my personal life, things aren’t too bad. Work was a little crazy during the first week of January (which is pretty much par for the course), but this week things got calmer, so I didn’t feel like tearing my hair out. And all month, I’ve been looking for a new apartment to move into when my lease ends this summer. I’ve got a few possibilities already scouted out and am on the waitlist for, so hopefully I’ll have a better idea on where I’ll be living soon.

On the writing front, things have been crazy! The work for the Kickstarter campaign has taken up quite a bit of my time (more on that in a bit). However, I have found time to write, or at least attempt to write. As I said in a previous post, I’ve been working on a story where I terrorize neo-Nazis, and that’s been going well. Actually, while finishing up the most recent chapter of that, I managed to fix a few problems with the logic of the story and cut out a superfluous character. It’ll still take me some time to get the first draft finished, but I think it won’t be too bad once it is. It’ll be in need of a lot of editing, but it won’t be half-bad.

On another note, the Kickstarter for “That Which Cannot Be Undone,” the horror anthology I’m helping to create, is 77% funded! Yeah, pretty amazing, huh? We think we can reach our full funding by the time the campaign ends in twelve days, but we’re doing everything we can to make sure that happens. In the spirit of that, I’m offering up signed copies of my books Rose, Snake and The Quiet Game for people who pledge to the campaign. So if you want to read some of my works (signed, no less), and help support the career of me and fellow Ohio horror authors, this is a great opportunity to do so. You can use this link to pledge: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/crackedskullproject1/that-which-cannot-be-undone-an-ohio-horror-anthology

77% and counting. Why not join us?

As for the other projects, the paperback and ebook editions of The Pure World Comes is on schedule. I’ll be reaching out to a cover designer I’ve worked with before on the cover soon, and once I have that, I can start uploading/formatting the actual book on a publishing platform. And I’ll be starting work on Hannah and Other Stories soon, as well as following up on some submissions this weekend. With any luck, I’ll be able to post a real update on something soon.

Anything else? Oh yeah: in about two weeks, I’ll be driving over to Marietta, Ohio for the Hidden Marietta Paranormal Expo. It’ll take place on the 29th at the Lafayette Hotel, and I’ll be selling books and doing Tarot readings while there. Hope you can make it!

Well, that’s my update. I’m off to heat up dinner, watch a movie, and then do a late-night writing session. Until next time, good night, pleasant nightmares, and please pray for what’s happening in Texas.

I’m not so sure anymore.

Of course, it seems like gospel that the first sentence of a story is important. It’s your hook, isn’t it? It’s how you get the reader into the story. You should put as much thought into that first line as you would as asking your significant other to marry you!

But I’m not convinced anymore. That may be strange, considering how often I used to (and sometimes still do) the #FirstLineFriday meme on this blog. You know, that thing where I post the first line of a story and hope it gets you into the story? But then again, maybe that’s why I’m unconvinced. I’ve posted first lines so many times, I’ve recognized how little effect that they have on the total story.

And you know, if you look at some famous books, you kind of see that. Harry Potter‘s first line is “Mr. and Mrs. Dursley of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.” Most Muggle-ish opening you’ve ever read. It doesn’t really hint at what’s to come in the story, and I honestly would have cut it from the final product if I had edited the first book.

And Stephen King’s stories don’t usually have those sorts of openings. The first line of IT goes like this:

“The terror, which would not end for another twenty-eight years–if it ever did end–began, so far as I know or can tell, with a boat made from a sheet of newspaper floating down a gutter swollen with rain.”

It’s a nice opening, but it doesn’t exactly scream…well, going to make you scream. It’s actually kind of mellow. And the opening for Needful Things is even more unassuming: “You’ve been here before.” Kid you not, my first time listening to that book on audio, I had to repeat it a few times because it was totally unexpected and confused me a bit. Only as you keep reading does the opening make sense with this story.

Maybe this is why some books have poems, excerpts from other famous stories, Bible verses, or even song lyrics at the beginning, before the story even starts. You read those little epigraphs (that’s what they’re called, I check) and keep reading to see how it relates to the story you’re taking in.

in any case, I’m starting to think that maybe it’s not the first sentence, or even the first paragraph, that’s responsible for making a story’s opening catchy. It’s maybe the first couple of paragraphs or the first page. When the author sets up the story, the characters, the setting, that you really get pulled into the story.

The opening of the story should be like opening a door to guests. Yes, that’s important, but what’s inside is even more important. Photo by Ron Lach on Pexels.com

That’s certainly the case with my current story, where I set up a nice, rural setting, something kind of idyllic…and then one of my main characters reveals that he’s a neo-Nazi. It’s a stark contrast from the first paragraph that takes the reader off-guard, and hopefully will get them reading further along. I’ll have to finish the story first to see if that’s the case, however.

Anyway, the first sentence is important, but it’s not the most important thing about a story. Rather, it’s just the opening of the door and allowing people to take a quick look before stepping inside. What’s beyond that is what’s truly important. You just have to make sure to open the door and open it well.

But what’s your take, Followers of Fear? Let’s discuss openings and if the first lines of a story really are as important as we make them out to be. I’m curious to hear what you think on the subject. Maybe more of you will agree with me than I imagine.


Happy New Year, my Followers of Fear. I wanted to start this year off with a post that’s reflective on the craft of writing, as I enjoy writing those posts. Anyway, I hope you’re having a good 2022 so far. Mine’s been rough so far, but that tends to be the case with the first full week of January. And at least there’s a lot to look forward to right now: editing and releasing Hannah and Other Stories; putting out the paperback and ebook copies of The Pure World Comes; conventions and expos; maybe a bit of travel; and, of course, some good reading and writing.

Oh, speaking of conventions and expos, I’ll be at the Hidden Marietta Paranormal Expo on the 29th in Marietta, Ohio. If you can, stop by the Lafayette Hotel and maybe I’ll sign your book and read your Tarot.

Also, the crowdfunding campaign for That Which Cannot Be Undone is at 58.5 percent! We’re over halfway funded and we just keep going! And if you would like to help me and my fellow Ohio horror writers put out an amazing anthology of horror stories set in our state and revolving around the theme “that which cannot be undone,” click on the link here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/crackedskullproject1/that-which-cannot-be-undone-an-ohio-horror-anthology. There are also some amazing perks to pledging, like candles, Ohio-themed Tarot cards, copies of the book, and even end up in one of the stories! How cool would that be?

Anyway, that’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I hope to have more stuff to tell you soon. Until next time, good night and pleasant nightmares!

You’re probably reading this title and wondering what’s going on in my life that would make me write a blog post with such a title. Well, I’m not planning on going to an ashram in India or a monastery in Tibet to find enlightenment, if that’s what you’re wondering. So not the right time for it.

No, the reason why is, between my limited time and all that’s going on, I have to refigure where my priorities lie.

For one thing, there’s Cracked Skull Press and That Which Cannot Be Undone. The campaign is in its latter half, so I need to spend a lot more time focusing on making sure that it’s a success. It’ll involve a lot of man hours, networking and other tasks. So I’ll have to set aside more time to working on that and not to writing. I’ll need to if we’re to make the remaining amount of funding in our budget.

Speaking of which, if you would like to help us create a kickass horror anthology, or you’re just curious, you can find more about the anthology, the campaign, and the rewards here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/crackedskullproject1/that-which-cannot-be-undone-an-ohio-horror-anthology. We’ve been working hard on making sure we have an awesome anthology with talented horror authors and we can’t wait to share it with you. Thanks in advance for your support. We appreciate it.

If you would like to check out the campaign and help me and my friends put out a great anthology with our stories inside, click the link above.

Even after the campaign is done, I have two books to release this year. I’ll be putting out a paperback and ebook of The Pure World Comes (plus an audio book if fate is kind), my Victorian Gothic horror novel. That probably won’t take too much time, as all I need is provide a good cover and ensure it’s formatted right. However, Hannah and Other Stories will need A LOT of editing done. Those seven stories will each require their fair share of attention, and it wouldn’t surprise me if some, like “The Autopsy Boy and Doctor Sarah” or “What Errour Awoke,” may need significant portions rewritten.

Add in all that, plus one story that’s currently being edited for a different anthology and other stories that might be accepted into other anthologies and magazines, the probability of a third draft of Toyland (or is it the fourth?), conventions and book expos, and a whole lot of other stuff that will or could crop up, and I will have to put a hold on the writing for a while.

It’s a shame. I was really enjoying working on this story where I got to terrorize neo-Nazis. And I had a great idea for a story based around Cinderella I was looking forward to writing. And this will probably push my mummy novel Crawler even further back.

But as things stand, my life won’t handle anymore projects. Still, if any of these stories find a home, it’ll be worth the pause. Because as long as I’m able to keep sharing my twisted, terrifying stories with you all, that’s all that matters.

My works can be found in many great booksellers. Check them out and let me know what you think.

And if you want to help things along, you can always check out my works that are already published and leave reviews online. Those help me immensely by letting me know people are reading my stories and are also letting other people know if my stories are worth their time. You can find my stories on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and from other great booksellers. Just search Rami Ungar and see what comes up!

Well, that’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I look forward to updating you with the latest on all the projects I’m part of or will be hopefully be part of soon. Until next time, good night, pleasant nightmares, and Happy New Year.

Oh, and before I forget, I was recently featured again in the Columbus Jewish News and interviewed on the website Bookishly Jewish. And my fellow writers at Cracked Skull Press were on the podcast Necrocasticon recently too. Please check them out if you get the chance. Thanks!

Before I get into the meat of this post, I want to tell you a funny story from this weekend: so my youngest sister and I drove up to Cleveland to spend some quality time with my dad and stepmom. Since just about everything was closed due to COVID, we had a movie night and watched Freaky, which I mentioned in my review that my dad wanted to see. Unusual for him, seeing as he hates horror and only reads my work because it’s mine.

Anyway, we’re watching the movie, and in an early scene a girl is getting brutally murdered by the serial killer using a toilet seat. My dad is grossed out by the gore and turns to me, because I was singing the movie’s praises when it came up as a possible viewing choice, and says, “Rami, what the–?”

Just then, the shot changes from the girl getting murdered to two teens hooking up in the garage. We all burst out laughing at the perfect timing. Even my dad found it hilarious. And yes, he enjoyed the film, though he didn’t care for the gore.


Alright. So, as many of you are no doubt aware, I’m involved with a small publishing press, Cracked Skull Press, and we’re currently fundraising for our first anthology. That Which Cannot Be Undone: An Ohio Horror Anthology will be written entirely by authors based in or from Ohio, with their stories set in Ohio, and revolving around the theme “that which cannot be undone.” It looks to be an amazing anthology.

As I said, we’re fundraising for the anthology with a Kickstarter campaign, and we’re currently over 40% funded on this project. And as of today, we’re halfway through the campaign’s duration. It’ll come to an end on January 28th, 2022. And I’m asking you all to help us reach our goal by pledging your support. If you help us get to our goal, my friends and I will be able to put some amazing original short stories into the anthology. Doesn’t that sound like a ton of fun?

We’re working hard to make this anthology a success. I hope you’ll support us and even pledge to the campaign!

Plus, there are a number of perks to pledging to our campaign. Depending on the pledge you choose, you can get listed in the donor section of the book, as well as your very own e-book and paperback copy. Interested in a copy of a book from one of the authors? How about a special limited edition horror-themed candle? Or how about being included in a story by one of our authors? That’s right, you can be included as a character in a story by a great horror author! Doesn’t that sound like fun?

So, if you’re interested in supporting us in the creation of this anthology, you can check out the campaign, the various updates and the awesome pledge choices we have available using the link below. We’ve already announced some of the awesome authors we’ve brought on, and will be posting updates periodically as we get them. And whether or not you can pledge, we appreciate it if you can share news of the campaign on your own blogs or social media. The more people who know about the anthology, the more likely we are to make our goals, so every mention helps.

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 hope you’ll continue to support us as we work hard to make this anthology, and our dreams of writing terrifying stories, roaring successes. And if I don’t post anything new before the end of the week, I wish you all a very Happy New Year. May 2022 be leagues better than 2021 was.

Until next time, good night, pleasant nightmares, and please get vaccinated so society can stop shutting down for indefinite periods of time every four to six months.

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!

About two weeks ago, I posted that some friends/fellow Ohio horror authors and I had formed a small publishing press, Cracked Skull Press, with the goal of producing an anthology that highlights Ohio horror writers. (You can read that blog post here.) This anthology, “That Which Cannot Be Undone,” will be full of stories revolving around the theme “that which cannot be undone” (hence the title), set in Ohio, and, of course, written by Ohio horror writers.

Of course, these books don’t come out of nowhere, and that’s why we’re turning to you. We’re running a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter to raise the funds for production, paying the authors and the editor, and other costs. The total we’ll need is around ten thousand dollars, and if you pledge to help us, you can get some really awesome perks, including your own copy of the book. Some of them are even signed!

And, if we’re not able to make our crowdfunding goals, you won’t get charged! You only get charged if we make our goals.

All that being said, we really hope you will support this project. Ohio is mostly known for its sports teams and for being a swing state. Yet we have a strong community of horror writers, some of whom are award winners! Case in point, already signed onto this project are Bram Stoker-winning authors Lucy Snyder, Tim Waggoner, and Gary Braunbeck, and New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Megan Hart, all of whom are longtime Ohio residents. Not to mention lots of other writers that aren’t as well-known but have talent that deserves recognition.

Oh, and there’s this one guy named Rami Ungar. You might have heard of him? He’s okay, I guess. He deserves more recognition as well.

Anyway, supporting this campaign and this anthology will help shine a light on a group of horror writers who have plenty of stories to tell. Why not give them a spotlight and help contribute to Ohio horror?

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’ll include the link for the crowdfunding campaign below. I hope you’ll support our efforts and I look forward to seeing what we can accomplish with that support. Until next time, good night, pleasant nightmares, and Happy Hanukkah!

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

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 fiancĂ© 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 fiancĂ©e, 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