Posts Tagged ‘reflections’

Followers of Fear, I just want to make you aware of one thing: ten years. Do you know how long that is in terms of Internet existence? In human life? Ten years ago, I was still fresh out of high school, so naive and with no idea about what the future may hold for me. I just hoped blogging would give me an audience so that when I finally released some fiction, there would be people eager to read it.

Well, that did end up happening. Over ten years, I did cultivate an audience who like what I write. If you’re reading this post, you’re one of them.

That being said, I got so much more from blogging. This blog, and the people who read it, have been here for all those ten years. Through college, first publications, trips to Europe, anxiety and depression and mental health struggles, job searches, jobs found, ups and downs, accomplishments and failures, and so much more. And I don’t know if I could’ve done all I did without you guys. This amazing community who have supported and encouraged me in my writing. I’m so thankful for all of you and can’t thank you enough for what you’ve done for me this past decade.

That being said, let me take a moment to brag and post some stats. Over ten years, this blog has acquired:

  • 1,840 posts
  • 123 thousand views
  • 1,324 followers (not counting those who come from other social media platforms)
  • Around 6,900 likes
  • Over 5,100 comments
  • And over 1.1 million words!

I guess no one can ever say I was lazy, can they?

But now, onto the juicy bits. I asked my Followers of Fear to participate in an Ask Me Anything, or an AMA, with one lucky participant getting a prize. And guess what? I got a few responses. So without further ado, let’s see what everyone wanted to know. After all, I promised.

Just don’t scroll all the way down to the bottom of the page to see if you won. Believe me, it won’t end well for you.

Okay, onto the questions!

Priscilla Bettis asks, “Where do you see your writing headed in the next five years? You know, like more Goth, more slasher, short stories, etc.”
Good question. Honestly, I’m hoping my writing allows me more time for writing. And if possible, I’d like to be able to work on a lot more short stories and novelettes, with at least a novel a year. As for what those novels and short stories are about, I can’t say right now. All I can say is, I have some fun ideas I can’t wait to work on. And I hope you’re excited to read them someday.

Alain Davis asks, “What is your most favorite/prized memory from visiting haunted attractions?”
You know, that’s a tough one. But I think my entire stay at the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast would have to be my choice. As much fun as my other experiences have been (and as much as I’m always up to visiting the Ohio State Reformatory), that one night at the Lizzie Borden House was a big deal for me and I keep wishing I had more time there. As well as more opportunities to experience ghostly phenomena.
Well, who knows? Maybe someday I’ll hold an event there. A book reading followed by an all-night ghost hunt. Anything’s possible, right?

Ronald Gillepsie asks, “Many authors create one character to base an entire series around (e.g. Ian Fleming with James Bond). This helps to ensure book sales and retain a readership. Are there any characters you’ve created which you would plan on expanding into a series? Alternatively, do you plan on writing a series?
PS I probably already know the answer to this with your Arthur character in Mother Of the King.”

Yeah, still working on that one. I’ve made progress on a sequel, but it’s something that I only do every now and then when I have the energy. As for other stories, maybe the Snake from the novel of the same name. I loved that character, I have ideas for sequels, and I would love to work on them. However, I’ll need a lot more demand for sequels of Snake to even consider writing another Snake story.
That being said, I can see a shared universe being a thing. Characters from some stories appearing in other stories in varying capacities. It could be a lot of fun. I’ve actually already taken steps to do that. We’ll just have to see if any of those stories get published.

Iseult Murphy asks, “What keeps you writing on the days when you’re ready to give up? (Mounting rejections coming in, or a bad book review, or just a dark day when everything seems pointless and impossible).”
Well, as the beginning of this post made clear, my Followers of Fear keep me writing. Their love of my work and eagerness to read more keep me writing even at low points.
Also, while I love my day job, it’s not what I want to do for the rest of my life. I want to write full-time, so you need to keep writing to make that happen. That’s a good motivator.
And I think if I stopped writing, I might die. At this point, it’s just a compulsion. I need to get these stories out if I’m going to survive.

Allen Huntsman asks, “what is the most useful writing advice you’ve ever received?”
I think it might be, “Don’t be afraid to try new stuff. Follow your interests. You never know what it’ll lead to.” Did my dad tell me that? I think he did. Thanks, Abba. You do have the odd pearl of wisdom every now and then, don’t you?

Well, those are all the questions I received. Now onto the winner.

IF YOU SCROLLED DOWN HERE TO FIND OUT WHO WON THE PRIZE WITHOUT READING WHAT CAME BEFORE, THEN GET BACK UP THERE! YOU HAVE A LOT TO READ BEFORE WE GET TO THAT POINT, AND THE WINNER ISN’T GOING ANYWHERE. SO SCROLL UP AND GET READING! THAT CLEAR? GOOD. SEE YOU WHEN YOU’RE DONE READING.

Okay, if you actually read through all that, then let’s talk about the winner of the special prize. The winner is…Alain Davis! Congratulations Alain, you have won the following prize.

That’s right, you’ve won a copy of each of my chapbooks and an Aztec death whistle. I own one myself that’s not too different from this one, so you and I can both summon dead Aztec spirits now. I’ll be contacting you soon to get your mailing address.

And to all the other participants, thank you for your questions. I had a lot of fun reading and answering them. And thank you all once again for continuing to support me through thick and thin. It means a lot to me.

And if you’d like to continue to support me beyond just following and reading my blog/social media, I’ll leave links below for my stories. That’ll include “Into the Deep,” “The Dark Sire,” and “House of Stitched” magazine. After all, purchasing and reading those ensure those publications and their publishers continue to release new work, which just benefits everyone.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’m so glad you could celebrate this major milestone with me. Now if you need me, I’ll be drinking some good wine later and just generally having a good time. Until next time, good night and pleasant nightmares!

House of Stitched Magazine Fall 2021 Issue: Blurb.com, Amazon

The Dark Sire, Issue 8: Print

Into the Deep: Ebook, Paperback

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’ve mentioned in previous posts that I’ve been shopping around a collection of original short stories and not been having much success. After the last rejection, I decided that I might as well take another look and do another round of editing, in case that had anything to do with it. There are nine stories in the collection, and I thought I’d give at least four or five a good run through. Now though, I’m planning on giving all but two (those that have been edited to death already) another pass.

I didn’t think what I would find would be so bad. Most of these stories were written in the past five or six years, so they should be fine. Right? Right?!

*Sigh*

I looked at the first story. I was horrified that it wasn’t as I remembered it. There were several mistakes that I needed to fix. Not just grammar/spelling/punctuation. but just plot issues that I should’ve fixed or excised in earlier drafts. And if the other stories are like this, I’m not surprised I kept getting rejected!

Well, can’t change the past. I’m taking another look at these stories now, that’s what’s important. I’m already over halfway through the first story, and it’s shown remarkable improvement. If I see similar improvement in the other stories, then…well, I can’t really say what’ll happen then, let alone if the collection will be published.

I even asked my Tarot cards if the collection would find a publisher after all the edits. When I pulled the future card, I got The Moon, which represents uncertainty. Which says it all, really. The writing and publishing game is full of uncertainty. You never know if you’ll find a home for your story when you send it out. Let alone collections!

Still, we play the game, because we love what we do. And I’ll continue working on these stories in the hope that I can improve them enough that someone will want to publish them in a collection.

Or, if things are going well for me, I have the cash to spend, and I think they’re edited enough, I could self-publish. It’d be quite a bit of work all on my own, for certain, but it would likely be worth it. I hope.

Anyway, that’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’m going to try to finish up one story tonight, then perform a surgery on a ghost, then start editing the next story. Until next time, good night and pleasant nightmares!


One more reminder: in honor of my ten-year blogging anniversary on Monday, I’m having an Ask Me Anything, or AMA, to celebrate. All readers are encouraged to participate, and one lucky person will receive a prize! Just send an email to ramiungar@ramiungarthewriter.com before tomorrow night, July 28th, 2021 at 11:59 PM EST. I look forward to reading your questions!

And no, I won’t be sending the winner a dragon bat. Not even a baby one. I’m sorry, but the adults are ferocious, the babies need too much care to be separated from their parent, and the laws regarding transporting them are too much a pain in the ass to deal with. Sorry, but thems the breaks.

Last night, I decided to do something I hadn’t done in a while and record myself reading aloud from one of my stories. Why? Because I have two stories coming out one after the other, so I thought it would be a good way to drum up interest in them. However, because longer (and effect-laden) videos take longer to upload to YouTube, this is the first chance I’ve had to post about it.

So, without further ado, here’s me reading from “Cressida,” which is in Into the Deep, and “Blood and Paper Skin,” which will be The Dark Sire starting with Issue 8 on July 31st.

How about that, huh? I still can’t figure out how to have multiple texts throughout the video, but I managed to add music and other effects throughout. Did what showed up at the end surprise anyone?

And if you weren’t able to watch the full video, here’s a quick rundown of all the pieces of news I mentioned after the reading from “Blood and Paper Skin:”

  • Into the Deep is available now for download. Last I checked, the ebook is still the only version available. If the paperback version isn’t available by Tuesday, I’ll email the publisher and see what’s up. In the meantime, you can check out the ebook of Into the Deep now with this link. If you decide to read it, please let the publisher and me know what you thought (especially of my story “Cressida”).
  • “Blood and Paper Skin” will be released in The Dark Sire, Issues 8-10. I’m very excited about this. The first issue, Issue 8, will be released on Saturday, July 31st. I really hope you’ll check out the magazine when the story comes out and will let people know what you think. I’ll post a link when the time comes.
  • As previously stated, an essay I wrote will be in House of Stitched Magazine next month. This is an essay on a trope I’ve noticed in horror, the broken child, and I’m very excited for the issue to feature my essay. Especially considering the great authors whose stories are in the issue as well. I’ll be sure to post a link when the time comes, so keep an eyes out!
  • My short story “The Divorce from God” will be in The Jewish Book of Horror this holiday season. I’m very excited to be contributing to Jewish literature this way! And obviously, I hope you’ll pick the book up once it’s available later this year. After all, Jewish-influenced horror is pretty rare. Especially when so many writers have been influenced by Christianity, let alone horror writers. I’d love to see what you think.
  • The Pure World Comes is getting published!!! I know you’re very much aware of this, but it bears repeating. My novel The Pure World Comes will be released through the Readict novel app hopefully in the near future. I don’t have an exact date, but I’ve been communicating with Readict’s staff this whole week, so we’re chugging along. Hopefully things continue to go well and I can update you in the near future.
  • I’ll be at Bibliophile Books in Dover, OH, on July 31st for an author event! Turns out, the editor of The Dark Sire is from Ohio, as are several of the authors in Issue 8. And in order to draw up some more interest, they’re hosting an author event at the bookstore. Authors who can make it will read short excerpts from their work, answer questions, and sign copies of Issue 8, as well as their own books. I’m looking forward to heading out there and maybe meeting some new readers. Not to mention meeting some of my fellow writers! Be there from 11 AM – 1 PM if you can!
  • I’m still going to Indie Author Book Expo Aurora this September. Remember, this will be held in Aurora, Illinois on September 11 at the Prisco Community Center from 10 AM – 3 PM. There will be all sorts of awesome authors to check out, as well as great books. I hope you’ll be able to come if you can. You can find out more here.

In addition, I inserted another reminder that I’ll be celebrating my ten-year blogging anniversary next month and will be hosting an Ask Me Anything, or AMA, in honor of the occasion. If you would like to participate, you can submit questions to my email address, ramiungar@ramiungarthewriter.com, until 11:59 PM on July 28th. One lucky participant will even win a prize! I look forward to reading and answering your questions.

Anyway, that’s the content of the video. I hope you enjoyed it if you watched it, and I hope the updates were helpful.

I’ll be back later tonight with a review, so I hope you check that out when it’s released. Until next time, my Followers of Fear, good night and pleasant nightmares!

Damn, that title’s a mouthful!

Still, it’s the truth. In one month, on August 2nd, 2021, I will mark the ten-year anniversary of when I started this blog. And in honor of this momentous occasion, I thought I would do something fun. An Ask Me Anything, or AMA. All you Followers of Fear will have the opportunity to ask me questions and get some answers (assuming the questions are appropriate, of course).

But this isn’t just any AMA. Oh no, that would be too dull. No. This will be an AMA with a prize!

That’s right. One lucky Follower of Fear will receive a special prize for submitting a question to the AMA. And no, Iseult, it’s not a dragon bat! Not even a baby one. Trust me, even small ones would be too much for most people to handle.

Rather, this prize will be a surprise (or is that sur-prize?). You’ll have to wait till August 2nd to find out what the prize is and who the winner will be.

As for how to participate in the AMA, here are the directions. Just send an email with your question (just one question per person, mind you) and where you’re from to my email address, ramiungar@ramiungarthewriter.com. Use the subject “Ten Year Anniversary AMA.” Send them in by 11:59 PM on July 28th, 2021. Prize winner will be announced at the end of the AMA post.

Or posts, if this thing gets a lot of questions. You never know.

Anyway, that’s all for now. I hope you’ll participate and ask some awesome, silly, mysterious, thoughtful, penetrating, strange, and/or universe-destroying questions.

Until next time, good night and pleasant nightmares!

Recently, the United States celebrated the first occurrence of Juneteenth as a federal holiday. For those unaware, Juneteenth commemorates when General Gordon Granger of the Union Army entered Galveston, Texas on June 19th, 1865 and announced the end of slavery there. This was two-and-a-half years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, though often emancipation had to be enforced by Union soldiers. Nevertheless, many African Americans count June 19th, known as Juneteenth, Jubilee Day, Black Independence Day, and Emancipation Day, as the day slavery ended and for celebrating African American culture.

President Biden signing the holiday into law makes Juneteenth the first new federal holiday since Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 1983. And hopefully, both holidays will now serve as opportunities to educate the masses on the history of African Americans in the United States and what they’ve gone through. It could even make for an interesting discussion when we contrast it with July 4th, Independence Day, which will be in just a few days.

That is, if teachers in certain states aren’t kept from talking about the stories behind Juneteenth and MLK Jr. Day by law.

If you’re from outside the United States or just haven’t heard, many state legislatures are enacting laws to try and keep teachers in those states from teaching Critical Race Theory, or any form of in-depth discussion of race’s effect on the history and culture of the United States. Opponents say that CRT or any other form of in-depth discussion as “left-wing propaganda” or “trying to shame white people for actions of the past.” Some of these bills have been passed into law, which might technically make discussion of why we have these holidays technically illegal.

Which worries me, because as we’ve seen, ignorance isn’t bliss. It only furthers divisions.

You probably heard of this, but recently, a certain United States congrresswoman compared mask mandates in the US to the Yellow Star worn by Jews in Nazi Germany and Nazi-controlled areas. This same congresswoman then defended herself, saying that any rational Jewish person would agree with her.

Well, I may be eccentric, but I am Jewish and I consider myself rational. And I think there’s a huge difference between public health measures that are meant to protect people from disease–you know, like having proper sewage disposal systems rather than letting poop contaminate our drinking water and cause cholera outbreaks like what happened in 19th-century London?–and measures that were meant to isolate and stigmatize people of a minority religion, keep them from most professions and taking part in a nation’s political, economic and social circles. These same people were then forbidden to practice their religion, forced into tiny communities and concentration camps, and endured harsh slave labor and systematic murder.

Last I checked, no one is trying to do any of that with people who don’t wear masks or aren’t vaccinated. Governments and businesses just want people to continue following measures taken to keep people from getting sick. You know, like not mixing poop into your drinking water? Victorian Londoners learned that one the hard way!

Anyway, that congresswoman realized she made a mistake, went to the Holocaust Museum in DC, and publicly apologized for her comments. And I want to believe she’s at least learned some kind of lesson from this. But I know that there were plenty of people who backed up her ignorance when she was defending herself, and would have resisted any attempts for her, or for themselves, to find out that why what they said and did was wrong.

I can only chalk some of this response to blatant white supremacy and anti-Semitism. It is part of it, no doubt, but ignorance has played its part as well. Since the Civil War, many history textbooks have been written with the aim of keeping people ignorant of the actual causes of the war, the horrors of slavery, or why things are still very unequal. And while Holocaust education has made great strides since WWII, it’s not emphasized enough if the level of ignorance displayed by our elected leaders is anything to go by.

(Not to mention the number of Holocaust deniers out there.)

Look, I’m white. I may not be treated as such sometimes because of my religion (anti-Semitism is weird that way), but I am white. And I’ve never once felt ashamed of my skin color due to learning of how white people treated black people in the past. Our fifth grade history unit mainly focused on the slave trade, Underground Railroad, and the Civil War, and I feel like it allowed me to feel more empathetic to African Americans. At the same time, I wish I had learned about the 1921 Tulsa race massacre, which was basically an American pogrom, or the coup in Wilmington, North Carolina, which I’m still fuzzy on.

Both events, by the way, I only learned about in the last year! And that doesn’t sit right with me.

From the way I’ve been writing this, you would think that I’m going to conclude that a better handle on history would solve these problems. I wish it were so easy. There has to be a multi-pronged approach to fixing not just the ignorance of the past, but the divisions and pain of the present so they don’t continue into the future. But teaching a history that takes in multiple perspectives, follows more than one or a few groups, and takes a look on how those histories affect our modern day world and culture, would be one of those prongs.

Otherwise, nothing will change. No matter our background, us and our descendants will not receive a history that’ll help us deal with the modern world. We’ll just receive some stories with lies, propaganda and fairytales mixed in. And teaching fiction as truth helps no one.

General Mark Miley testifying before Congress on why critical race theory is taught at West Point.

And we also have to learn why certain circles, mainly composed of white conservatives, have come out so strong against CRT. To quote General Mark Miley, who recently testified before Congress on critical race theory being taught at West Point, “I want to understand white rage–and I’m white.” This pairs very well with what my recently retired boss, who is African-American, gave as the reason why we needed a European American group in our organization, alongside groups for African-American, Latinx, Asian Americans, Native American, LGBT, veterans, and disabled employees,* “We need to have EVERYBODY at the table.”

I completely agree. We need everybody at the table. Because all Americans are at the table. And we need to be better able to understand each other if we want this country to continue on. Otherwise, there’s a good chance that, like a table with rotten legs, it’ll simply collapse.


Thanks for reading this essay, everyone. I know this was a rather unusual sort of post for me to write, but given current events in this country, I felt it was necessary. I look forward to discussion in the comments, but I only ask that you keep things civil. After all, the only things that are supposed to intimidate or scare people on this blog are me and my stories! The comments section are neither.

Until next time, Followers of Fear, thanks for reading, and pleasant nightmares.

*For those who don’t know, my day job is at a supply agency where I work in an office that promotes diversity and inclusion in the workforce. My main duties involve getting accommodations for disabled employees so they can do their jobs, arranging interpreting for deaf employees, and assisting with programs meant to highlight the contributions and accomplishments of the various groups above. It’s a fulfilling job in many different ways.

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.

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!

I think this fits the theme of the post very well, don’t you? Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

In my last post, I mentioned that I would soon be tackling editing River of Wrath and The Pure World Comes, two novels that each have gone through some edits and which I would like to try submitting this year. As promised, I have started editing River of Wrath, which is about one of the nine circles of Hell appearing in a small town in 1960s Mississippi (you can guess what sort of themes are included with that description).

And so far, the biggest obstacle I’m dealing with is my narrator’s voice.

For a bit of background, my narrator, Audrey Falley, is writing down her experiences as she remembers them. She’s a character I thoroughly enjoy. She’s an Army wife in the 1960s, but she’s not demure like you would expect from that sort of character in that time period. She’s brash, street smart, she admits she drinks, swears, and has sex with her husband. In other words, she’s unladylike, and proud of it, and I tried to make that show in how she tells her story.

Which is challenging. In addition to all that above, Audrey is also not your typical narrator. By which I mean, this is her first time really telling a story, as her life hasn’t had many opportunities for her to practice creative writing. She also breaks the fourth wall a lot in a way Deadpool might approve, pointing out things about her word choice and how at certain times she sounds like she’s writing a romance novel.

And yet she’s very much aware what sort of story she’s telling.

And here I am, on the computer, trying to tell this story through this character’s unique perspective, while also balancing that perspective with the needs and tone of the story. Not only that, but I have to make the language used sound both like they were written by Audrey and by me, a writer who has a few published books and stories under his belt. And I have to ensure it reads like a horror story.

All told, it’s a bit of a juggling act. And I’m feeling the struggle. There are plenty of points where I’ve wondered to myself, “Does this sound good? Or does it sound totally amateur-ish?” It can affect how I look at the project at times.

That being said, there are moments where I look at the changes I’ve made and I’m like, “Yeah, I got this.” I had one of those moments when I was editing the scene the novel goes from period piece with strong romantic overtones to full-on horror story. Here’s the passage in the previous draft:

Before either of us could answer, there was a scream from the edge of the park. It was followed by several other screams, not just women, but men and children. Dogs barked, and birds flew into the air and away from the park entrance. Around the park, and in Little Angola as well, people stopped what they were doing, stood up if they were sitting down, and looked in the direction of the screams.

And then there’s the section from the current draft (asterisks are to prevent spoilers):

From the edge of the park came a woman’s scream.

Everyone, including Gordon and me, froze before turning in the direction of the scream, which was the same direction we’d come from. We could hear more people screaming, not just women, but men and children too. And that wasn’t all: dogs were barking, birds were flying in every direction, and everyone in the park, from the folks in ********, to the families at their picnic benches, to the children on the playsets, and to the couples in the flower garden, stiffened.

Later on, it occurred to me that we were all feeling the same thing. We weren’t just afraid. We were dreading whatever was causing those people to scream and making the animals go crazy. We dreaded it in our very bones.

Busy editing. Hopefully by the time I’m done, this novel will look a whole lot better and I’ll have a better idea if it’s ready to be submitted anywhere.

How was that? It’s not perfect, but it is better written than the previous version. Feels more like something you might read in a professionally-published horror novel. And that difference really made me feel like I could balance all those things I mentioned above. I don’t know if by the end of the draft, the novel will be ready to submit to publishers as I’d hoped, but if the new passage is anything to go by, I’ll at least get a bit closer.

Anyway, that’s where I’m at right now. I think, as the draft continues, I’ll hopefully not only get a better idea of where the story is in its development, but maybe even be able to go back to the beginning and do a better job of polishing up the story. We’ll see what the rest of the draft holds.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’ll check in again soon, though I’m not sure when or what I’ll be talking about. Until next time, pleasant nightmares!

I think I’ve been hearing buzz about this novel since it was released last year. However, I only just got around to reading it recently (or more accurately, listening to it on audio book). I had somehow managed to stay spoiler-free despite the buzz, and knew nothing beyond the fact it was a Gothic novel set in 1950s Mexico. And knowing nothing, I was going in expecting something amazing.

Mexican Gothic follows Noemi Taboada, a young high-society woman living in Mexico City in 1950. That is, until a mysterious letter from her cousin Catalina arrives at the family home. Concerned, Noemi is sent out to check on her cousin, who has been living in the countryside since her marriage to a mysterious Englishman named Virgil Doyle at his family’s estate, High Place. When she arrives, she’s not surprised to find things are not what they appear. However, the biggest surprises are yet to come. And if Noemi’s not careful, she’ll find these surprises may keep her from leaving High Place. Forever.

I can see why this novel was nominated for a Bram Stoker award, it’s excellent!

For one thing, the language this book is written in is just beautiful, like a Victorian novel without being too stuffy or overly wordy and dramatic. From the opening chapters, I felt like I was listening to the sort of writing I aspire to write (maybe someday I will). And Moreno-Garcia uses this brilliant language to not only bring the novel to life in your mind, but to bring out this strong sense of atmosphere and dread. I could almost see High Place and feel the horror that Noemi felt.

Speaking of which, I loved Noemi. She’s a very spunky young woman who refuses to compromise or let anyone tell her what to do just because she’s a woman. I loved watching her go up against the stodgy, stuffy Doyles with their rigid ways and gloomy lives, as well as how she refused to submit.

In addition, Mexican Gothic‘s story has a unique twist on the concept of a haunted house. I won’t go into details, because it’s more fun for you to read it yourself. Let me just say, it’s different than anything I’ve read and you’ll probably find it pretty clever on a number of levels.

I can’t think of any real downsides to this story. If I did, it would be nitpicking on my part. I will warn some readers that there are some things in the novel that might be triggering to them. One of the characters turns out to be…skeevy, to put it mildly. Just warning you.

In any case, Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia is a wonderful addition to the Gothic horror genre. On a scale of 1 to 5, I’m giving it a 4.7. Wonderfully written, ingenious and spooky. Pick up a copy and find out for yourself why people are raving about this book. Preferably before they decide the Bram Stoker winners in May.

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

(Note: All stories and publications have had their names removed. This way, my stories and my career won’t be negatively affected by mentioning anyone by name. I would flatter myself by adding that the circulation of the publications won’t be negatively affected, but we all know that’s never gonna happen.)

Before you ask, no, I was not happy to receive a rejection because the publication was actually run by bad people or ethically dangerous or whatever.

Also, no one likes getting a rejection, least of all me. It’s never nice to hear that your story isn’t going to appear in a publication or an anthology. That all those hours of hard work, of writing and editing, of making sure your story is as exciting and memorable and well-crafted as possible, weren’t enough to sway an editor to publish your story. It can dishearten anyone. There have even been times where I’ve gotten rejections and have not wanted to submit anything ever again (or perhaps just for several months).

But every now and then, you get a rejection where the editor takes their time to let you know what they thought of your story. And sometimes, even in a rejection, it elevates your mood like nothing else.

Take yesterday, for example. I received a rejection for one of my stories. However, the editor noted that the story wasn’t bad. Far from it, actually: he said that this submission period the magazine got a huge number of submissions, and some decisions had to be made. He also included one editing suggestion for the next time I submit the story, which I listened to after a bit of thought (it was something cosmetic that I didn’t really think would make a difference, but apparently to him it did).

So, that was very nice. Yeah, the story isn’t going to appear in the next issue of the publication. However, the editor did imply he liked it, he just had to make a tough decision. And he also gave me some advice for the next time I submit the story (which has already gone out again. Here’s hoping it finds a home at the next place). I love it when people enjoy my stories, so even if this editor didn’t take the one I sent him, I was still happy he thought so highly of it.

Turn your rejections into fuel for your creative bonfire. Trust me, it works.Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

And this isn’t the first time this has happened, either. A while back, I got a rejection from a well-known publication whose editor I happen to know personally. While it was a rejection, what the editor had to say made me really happy. They gave me some strong feedback and some ideas on how to further improve the story. I was so happy with the message, I sent them a private message on Twitter just saying how helpful I found their advice. If I remember right, they responded with a smiley face.

What’s the point of recounting all this? Well, I guess it’s just to remind writers who submit stories and get rejections that this happens to everyone. The rejections, anyway. We all get passed on or told our stories aren’t a good fit or that the editor found the story hard to believe. But then we get the ones that encourage us. That tell us the stories, or that we the authors, have the potential. That if we keep writing and editing and submitting, and with a bit of luck, we can get our stories published.

In the meantime, let those rejections be the fuel for your creative fire. They’ll keep you going strong until you reach the end.

At least, that’s what I think. And the Tarot cards seem to back me up, so that’s what I think. Hey, the Seven of Wands means overcoming obstacles to reach your goals. When that appears in the Future position, you know you gotta keep trying because you know those rejections are just more fuel. Better listen and get to work.

Well, that’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I hope you found this post inspiring for your own creative work. Let’s not get bogged down with rejections (even when it seems everyone else is getting acceptances) and get to work. Who knows? We may just end up finding the perfect home for our story with the next submission.

Until next time, stay safe and pleasant nightmares!