Posts Tagged ‘social media’

Sarah Hans, author of Entomophobia

It’s always fun to talk to authors about their books and about what they’re working on. And today, I’ve got another author on, a friend of mine whose novel, Entomophobia, is only going to be around for a short while. So, to help her spread the word, I figured I’d bring her on the blog and pick her brains on her book.

I also bought a copy because Entomophobia just sounds really fun, and I love the idea of having a book that will only be available for a little while. The fact that it’s written by a friend made it extra special.

So, without further ado, Followers of Fear, let’s give it up for author, fellow HWA Ohio member, and my friend, Sarah Hans!

Rami Ungar: Welcome to the show, Sarah. Tell us about yourself.

Sarah Hans: I’m a public school teacher in my day job and I write mostly horror, but I also write science fiction, fantasy, and whatever else I can get paid for.

RU: How did you get into writing? And what exactly attracts you to the horror genre?

SH: I’ve been telling stories since before I could write. I found writing really tedious until the computer was invented, because my brain moves so much faster than my hand could keep up with a pen. Typing is much better! For a long time I wanted to be a science fiction author, because I love sci-fi and enjoy it so much, but every time I wrote something it would turn into horror, so I just leaned into that. Sometimes the genre chooses you!

RU: Tell us about your novel, Entomophobia. What is it about and what will readers enjoy about it?

SH: Entomophobia is about a woman in the middle of a contentious divorce and child custody battle who is cursed to turn into a bunch of insects. I hope readers enjoy seeing a very smart, determined woman who is down on her luck find strength within herself to keep going even when things seem impossibly terrible.

RU: A lot happens to your main character, Meri. Can you tell us a bit about her, what she’s dealing with and why readers will like her or want to follow her?

SH: Meri is extremely resilient. Her abusive husband is now getting custody of her daughter, she’s living with her awful mother, and now she’s got bugs coming out of her skin, but she’s not going to give up.

RU: I understand Entomophobia is only available for a short time. Can you explain why that is? Also, are you doing anything to keep it around longer?

SH: My publisher has closed her doors and the book will only be available through her until the end of the year. After that, I may self-publish it, because few publishers will reprint a book. I’ve never self-published before so it could be a fun new challenge!

RU: As someone with plenty of experience in that department, I’d be happy to give you any advice I can if you want it. Anyway, can you tell us about some of the other stories you’ve written and published?

SH: I have a collection called Dead Girls Don’t Love full of my short stories. Most people call them “quiet horror” because I don’t (usually) do a ton of gore. The horror is often psychological. I love to write from the point of view of the monster, or about people who become monsters. I also like to write feminist stories about the horror of living in an oppressive patriarchy. One of my best stories, “Tiny Teeth,” is available on Pseudopod episode 660 in both text and podcast format. I’m really proud of that one. It’ll be appearing in my next collection.

The cover of Entomophobia.

RU: What are some projects that you’re working on now or that you have coming up?

SH: I’m currently revising and tweaking a novella I just finished writing that’s about meth addicts hiding out in an abandoned asylum. I’m also about halfway through a historical horror novel about an identity thief who finds herself getting in way too deep.

RU: What is some advice you would give another writer, regardless of background or experience?

SH: It can be hard to give advice because there’s so much advice out there, and sometimes it’s conflicting! Some things I would say: Ask for what you want. Keep writing, submitting, revising, submitting. When you go to cons or interact online, don’t look to “network” and make contacts, be a real person, be genuine and honest. Most folks I’ve encountered in the writing community have been really kind, generous, and lovely, so be that in return. The opportunities will come—but you may have to wait for the world to be ready for your writing and be prepared for the day you’re finally a hit!

RU: Finally, if you were stuck on a desert island for a little while and could only take three books with you, what books would you pick?

SH: I’d want three books I’d never read before! Probably one young adult, one horror, and one romance.

RU: Solid choices. Thank you for being on the blog, Sarah. And best of luck with Entomophobia. I hope it gets plenty of new readers.

If you would like to get a copy of Entomophobia, you can purchase it in paperback and ebook from Amazon. And if you would like to connect with Sarah Hans, you can find her on her blog, SarahHans.com, as well as on Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I hope you enjoyed this interview and are interested in checking out the book. Until next time, good night and pleasant nightmares!

Just a quick update. As you know, I’m trying to post these less and less often. Trying not to spam you with news of these events, especially when it’s unlikely you’ll be able to visit. Still, in case you’re able to visit, I’m going to put these out when a new event is on the schedule and remind you leading up to the event.

So, as previously reported, I’m going to be at ParaPsyCon at the Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, Ohio. This will be taking place on May 21st and 22nd, and all you have to do to gain access is to buy a self-guided tour of the prison. You get in, see where they filmed The Shawshank Redemption and where plenty of ghosts still hang out, and you get to meet over 90 authors, ghost hunters and paranormal investigators, psychics, and so much more! Plus some celebrity speakers too. You can find out more from the website here.

But my beloved Reformatory isn’t the only prison holding a convention this summer: the West Virginia Penitentiary in Moundsville, West Virginia will be having its annual Paracon on August 13th, 2022! Like ParaPsyCon, it’ll have plenty of authors, paranormal investigators and equipment vendors, psychics and so much more. More details, such as cost of admission and the full vendor list, will be posted as we get closer to August. In the meantime, you can check out their Facebook event page for more info.

And that’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. Obviously, if I get signed up for any more events, I’ll be sure to let you know ASAP. Same goes for any changes, such as a date change or (God forbid) a cancellation. Anyway, I hope you’ll be able to stop by one of these events and say hi as I sell books and do Tarot readings.

And yes, that post on mental health while publishing a book will be published at some point this month. I promised, didn’t I?

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

Ladies and gentlemen, we have our first publication of 2022!

Some time ago, I met another Jewish horror writer by the name of Richard Gerlach. There was an anthology being created at the time of holiday horror stories, and we thought we’d team up to write one with a little Jewish flair. We wrote a story set around Hanukkah and submitted it. It didn’t get in, but it birthed a friendship and we both believed in the story, so we kept shopping it around.

Dead of Winter from Dublin Creative Writers Cooperative and Spark Street Media, which contains mine and Richard Gerlach’s story “Azazel Dances.” Looking forward to hearing what you think of it!

Some time last year, the story was accepted by the Dublin Creative Writers Cooperative,* who in partnership with Spark Street Media are releasing the anthology Dead of Winter. And our story, “Azazel Dances,” is featured in the anthology! Which is out today!

Honestly, Rich and I are so excited for you to read this story, which centers on a demon who interferes with two feuding Jewish families around Hanukkah. Not only do we get to add to the ever-growing subgenre of Jewish horror (something I’ve been trying to do anyway), but we worked really hard on this story. Like really hard. Like oh my God, the amount of work that went into this story to make sure it was ready for publication! And it was not easy for either of us to find time to edit it, either. Like, I tried to buy the guy a bottle of wine because we somehow made the deadline despite the amount of work and how crazy our lives got! Sadly, mailing alcohol without subscriptions or memberships to special clubs is troublesome.

The point is, we put in a lot of hard work, and I’m very proud of the work we put in to write and edit this story together. So I hope you read it and see what we managed to create together. And if you like what you read, please make sure to spread the word somehow. Goodreads, Amazon, Twitter, Instagram or TikTok, whatever. Leaving your thoughts online somewhere allows us writers to know what people think of our work, as well as helps other readers decide whether or not to check out the book.

Anyway, that’s all for now. I’ll leave a link to check out Dead of Winter below. Ebook is already available, and paperback shouldn’t be far behind. Either edition, there are a lot of great stories in there besides the one by Rich and me, so it’s worth your while. And while you’re at it, you should also check out Richard Gerlach. He’s a great writer with another story in another anthology and has more on the way. He also writes for Divination Hollow Reviews and is a co-host for the podcast Staring Into the Abyss. You can find him on his Twitter account here, his previous publication here, Divination Hollow Reviews here, and the Twitter account for the podcast here.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I don’t know how we got to the end of February so fast, but I’m looking forward to whatever March brings. So until next time, good night, happy reading and pleasant nightmares!

*Dublin Ohio, which was used for a short scene in Rose. Not Dublin, Ireland. Just clarifying.

DEAD OF WINTER Amazon Page

Alma Katsu. Photo by Evan Michio

Some of you may remember at the start of the pandemic I had the pleasure to interview Alma Katsu, author of the critically acclaimed novels The Hunger and The Deep (you can read that interview here). I loved both novels, which took on the historical events of the Donner Party and the Titanic, respectively, and turned them into supernatural horror stories. It won’t surprise you, then, that I’ve been looking forward to her next historical horror novel for a while now.

Two pieces of good news: first, Ms. Katsu has a new novel, The Fervor, coming out in late April! The novel takes place during World War II at a Japanese internment camp and involves a strange disease and a stranger monster from Japanese legend. Yeah, you can tell this is right up my alley!

Second pieces of good news: Ms. Katsu has agreed to let me interview her about the book! So without further ado, let’s talk to Alma Katsu and find out why you should be as excited as I am for her new novel.

Rami Ungar: Welcome back to the blog, Ms. Katsu. Please tell us about The Fervor and how it came about.

Alma Katsu: First came the decision to set the next book in WWII. That had to do with trends in publishing, frankly; I’d sat in on the editors’ panel at the Historical Novel Society conference a few years ago, when it was time to come up with a proposal, and their advice was that historical fiction was pretty much dead except for WWII. I’d always thought it would be interesting to write about the internment camps, but then the question was how to turn that into a horror story? Objectively, the horror should be pretty evident: here was a government locking up its own citizens, people who hadn’t committed a crime, because they didn’t trust them. Because the average citizen (with the help of propaganda) believed that Asians were inherently sneakier and untrustworthy.

RU: You’ve talked about your Japanese heritage and how it influenced the story. Can you go into that for us?

AK: This was the first time where the main character of the book has the same ethnicity as me, and it was pretty eye-opening. For one thing, as I was writing I realized that I had a lot of resentments about the way my mother had been treated coming to America after the war, and the way I’d been treated as a minority (to a lesser extent) bottled up inside. Add to that the preconceptions about Asians and Asian women, in particular. This was an opportunity to write the truth, to dispel myths. It was freeing.

RU: I can only imagine! And speaking of Japanese elements, there’s been a surge of stories inspired by Japanese culture, particularly yokai, in the West. Some examples include Nothing but Blackened Teeth by Cassandra Khaw and my own novel Rose. What do you think of that surge, and where do you think it comes from?

The Fervor by Alma Katsu.

AK: I’m afraid I don’t have much to offer here. I know some folks are big into Japanese folktales and such, so I’m not aware of a surge per say. It always seems to be fairly popular thanks to anime! Japanese yokai and yurei are part of the fabric of life for Japanese, and so I’d heard and read stories when I was a kid, and it didn’t seem you could tell a horror story with Japanese characters without incorporating it in some way.

RU: Well, I can attest that anime was definitely an influence on me. Anyway, The Fervor also involves an epidemic in a Japanese internment camp. Did the COVID-19 pandemic influence your decision to include that?

AK: I drew on COVID, yes, the feelings of mass panic and confusion, but The Fervor is about racism. I decided to write it after watching what’s been happening to this country over the past four years or so. I’m not naïve but it’s been bewildering to see racism go mainstream in America. It’s comforting in a way to think it could be a disease, something you could catch, as that at least is understandable. The January 6th attack on the Capitol also influenced the book: The Fervor was an attempt to look at what this country has been going through and compare it to another horrible incident in America’s past, and show that we haven’t changed much.

RU: I’m looking forward to seeing how that plays out in the book. So, what research did you do for the book?

AK: This was different from The Hunger (the Donner Party) and The Deep (the sinking of the Titanic), events that I didn’t know a lot about. I already knew a lot about life in the internment camps, because I’d heard stories from my in-laws, seen documentaries and read articles. I knew what the issues were, I knew how the interned felt and what they had gone through. For the book, it was more a matter of filling in the gaps. I lucked out in that a neighbor’s family had been interned at Minidoka, which is featured in the book, and had a trove of documents from the camp: maps, rosters, newsletters, all kind of non-official documentation that typically gets lost to time. It was a real windfall.

RU: Yeah, primary sources like that are always a boon when writing about history or using it. And speaking of which, you’ve written about the Donner Party, the sinking of the Titanic, and now the Japanese internment camps. Are there any other ages or historical events you would want to write a story about?

AK: After doing three books and having them change a bit each time (going from being fairly close to the history to becoming reinterpretations of events, maybe just shy of alternate histories), I think it’s time to re-evaluate. I’m sure there are plenty of interesting historical events (I’d love to do another Western, for example) but I’m a little burned out on close reads of history right now.

RU: Fair enough. Switching gears a bit, what are you working on nowadays? And when can we expect to see the TV series based on your spy novel, Red Widow?

AK: I just handed in the second in the spy novel series, and though I’m sure it’ll need some work, I’m glad to have that behind me. I’m working on a new project that I can’t talk about at the moment, and hope to be pitching a few TV proposals soon.

Red Widow, the TV series, is chugging along. The pilot script is being polished right now, and we hope to know whether we’ll be shooting the pilot before too long.

RU: Final question: what are you reading these days? And are there any recent reads that you would recommend others check out?

AK: There are so many great books coming out this year that it’s hard to single out just a few. Let’s see… SA Barbes’ debut Dead Silence just came out. It’s space/horror: think Aliens meets Titanic.  It’s a lot of spooky fun. I had the opportunity to read Andy Davidson’s The Hollow Kind, a wonderfully suspenseful, creepy southern Gothic with a dual timeline. It doesn’t come out until October, however. I’m really excited for Catriona Ward’s next novel, Sundial, which I think I liked even better than Needless Street.

RU: Well, thank you for joining us, Ms. Katsu. It was a pleasure to have you again. Please keep us posted on your progress.

If you are interested in The Fervor, you can preorder it now from most retailers. You can also check out Ms. Katsu’s other books, including The Hunger, The Deep and Red Widow. And, of course, you can find Ms. Katsu on her website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I look forward to reviewing The Fervor this coming spring. And in the meantime, I’m sure I’ll be back soon with plenty to share with you. Until next time, good night and pleasant nightmares!

Occasionally in fiction writing, you create characters you find utterly repulsive. Maybe it’s their personality, maybe it’s what they do or believe in, but these characters are VILE.

And surprisingly, writing them well is kind of challenging. I should know. I’m working on a story now where I hate most of the characters. Why? I’ll get into that a little later.

(Though if you’ve been paying attention to my Facebook posts or Twitter feed, you might already know why.)

The thing is, while you may hate the character you’ve created, you can’t let that hate show too much in your writing. You have to treat them like you would any other character. Showing your contempt may be easy, but the reader may notice. And while they may agree with you, they will be turned off by the clear aversion and disdain coming off the page, especially if it’s a protagonist. “Why even bother writing this character if you’re going to make it so obvious you don’t like them?” That might be what goes through their minds. Instead, write them like you would a character you like.

A good example of this is how Vladimir Nabokov treats Humbert Humbert in the novel Lolita. In an interview, Nabokov stated he found Humbert a hateful person for obvious reasons. But he didn’t show his dislike for the character and his predilections in the story. Instead, he writes the novel normally and let’s the readers come to hate him by his actions.

That’s something to keep in mind. Instead of showing your disdain for a vile character, let their actions do the work for you. You can do a lot just by showing a cruel teacher depriving a kid of ice cream or a prison warden manipulating his prisoners to attack each other, rather than by describing them as nasty pieces of shit.

Dolores Umbridge. A great example of a vile character.

You can then supplement that by showing other characters’ reactions to the hated characters for being assholes. JK Rowling, despite her faults, did this quite well when Harry and his friends described characters like Umbridge or Pansy Parkinson and focused on their negative traits. Rowling famously hates those characters, by the way, and made sure they suffered or didn’t get happily-ever-afters in the end.

What if you have to show things through the perspective of the hated character, however? Well, that’s where it can get queasy to write them. Because, as much as you might hate them, you’ll often have to write them as any other character. For instance, l’m writing characters who are neo-Nazis.

Yeah, you read that right. The story I’m working on now is full of neo-Nazis, people who would gladly see me dead for being Jewish (among other things). And I am writing them as I would most other characters. I could write them and focus on their hatred and nasty ideology, and in another story I could get away with that. But for this story, I can’t let them just be stock characters or stereotypes, much as I want to. Instead, I’m trying to show the reader how the characters might see the world. And let’s face it, neo-Nazis are people, and they’re as complicated as any other character. So I should try to write them that way.

That being said, I am going to show just how horrible these people and their toxic ideology can be. And then I’ll take great pleasure in showing what horrors occur to them later in the story. Hey, I’m a Jewish horror author who loves visiting terrors upon his enemies. What do you expect?

So, writing characters you consider vile is more than just making them hateful or showing how much you hate them. It’s a combination of actions, character description, and even writing them in a complex manner. And, of course, making sure they get what’s coming to them if it fits the story. It may make you feel sick to write them that way, but it can also lead to a good story becoming that much better.


On an unrelated note, the anthology I’m helping to produce, That Which Cannot Be Undone, is closing in on forty percent funded on Kickstarter! Not only that, but we’ve added a whole bunch of new perks and have announced some new authors joining the project as well. Some of those authors have even volunteered to name characters after backers and kill them off in style should they back certain limited pledges. Isn’t that cool? You could be a character in another author’s story!

If that, and helping our group produce a kickass horror anthology featuring new stories from me and my friends, you can check out the campaign by clicking 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. For those who celebrate, I want to wish you a Merry Christmas. If you need me, I’ll be joining my friend John McClane at Nakatomi Tower for Nakatomi Corp’s annual Christmas party. I hear they tend to go out with a bang every year.

Until next time, Happy Holidays and pleasant nightmares!

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bye!

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.

Some of you may remember that last year, I wrote a blog post about my fascination with Robert Johnson, an early blues singer whose music and mysterious life has led to all sorts of wild stories about him. Some even believe he sold his soul to the Devil at a crossroads to receive his talent. At the time, I was trying to think up a decent story to wrap around Johnson, but hadn’t come up with anything yet.

Well, I did come up with something. However, I only decided to write it recently after I saw a call for an anthology based around a certain theme. A theme I felt the idea for my Johnson story fit very well. Thus, I ordered Up Jump the Devil, the best Robert Johnson biography out there, from the library for a quick reference guide. And after doing my research this afternoon, I spent this evening writing late into the night.

And what do you know? I finished it all in one sitting.

“Window Audience Blues” follows the famous singer around the time his first wife was pregnant with their first child, and what occurred to him while he was away from her. It was an important turning point in his life, and I thought it was the perfect time to tell this story. And I managed to tell it within thirty-six hundred words too. Not sure how I pulled that off, but I’m glad of it.

Now, as to whether or not it’s any good, I’m not sure. I like to think it’s at least entertaining, but I’m probably biased. In any case, I’ve already reached out on the Horror Writers Association Facebook page to see if anyone wants to beta read the story and let me know what they think. With any luck, I’ll get a few people who can give me some good feedback. Not to mention it’s probably going to need a sensitive reading. After all, Robert Johnson was black and I’m white. The last thing I want to do is to accidentally include something racist or otherwise offensive in the story, especially when I just want to tell an interesting story around a most mysterious and legendary singer.

Well, that’s all for now. It might be a while, but if “Window Audience Blues” gets accepted into the anthology I mentioned (or another publication if they don’t accept it), I’ll be sure to let you all know. In the meantime, it’s well past midnight and I need my sleep. I’m working on a mermaid horror story for another anthology (yes, you read that right), so I want to be well-rested for that.

Until next time, my Followers of Fear, good night, pleasant nightmares, and my favorite Robert Johnson song is “I Believe I’ll Dust My Broom.” Check it out if you’ve never given it a listen.

This morning, I checked my memories on Facebook, and what popped up in 2018? No, not an embarrassing photo from that year’s Purim celebration. I killed the person who took the photo and destroyed their phone’s SIM card before they could post it. No, it was the announcement that my novel Rose had been accepted by Castrum Press, a publishing company based out of Belfast, North Ireland.

And over the course of today, it just kept hitting me. Three years. Three whole years. It felt like so much longer (and not just because of the mess that was 2020). And given all that happened with the book over those three years, it only feels right to blog about it.

So if you’re unfamiliar, Rose is a novel I first wrote as my college thesis and which later became my first novel published with a publisher. The story is a Kafkaesque fantasy-horror tale about a young woman who wakes up with no memory of the past two years. She then finds herself transfigured into a plant/human hybrid by ancient magic, setting her on a path of no return.

As I said, a lot happened with Rose in the three years since Castrum Press accepted the novel. The novel itself went through a heavy editing and rewriting process that lasted about fifteen months, from March 2018 to June 2019 when the book was released. Characters were changed or written out, plot points were added and pulled out, and at one point two-thirds of the book needed to be thrown out and rewritten. Yeah, that happened. Word of advice, don’t add flashback scenes that have nothing to do with the main plot of the story, let alone make one-third of the book flashbacks and the other third somewhat dependent on the flashbacks.

But it was worth it. The book came out soon after my twenty-sixth birthday, and people started reading it. Soon, I had some great reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, and they kept growing. In August, I had a reading at Brothers Drake, a local bar and meadery, or distiller of honeywine. In December, the audio book released, narrated by the incomparable Sarah Parlier, who made chills go up my back with her narration. 2020 came in, and the book continued to do somewhat well. I wasn’t making Stephen King money, but I was doing okay for an author of my skill and reach.

Honestly, though, the fact that anyone’s reading Rose at all, especially with so much good horror out there, is incredible. Yeah, people enjoy it, but I had to do a lot of plugging over the course of these three years to get people interested, let alone willing to read it. That’s part of the author lot, truth be told: you gotta do a ton of work to let people know your book is available. No one’s going to do it for you, at least not without compensation.

Well, I’m not complaining. All the work has paid off. More and more people are reading Rose, and are leaving reviews. I just got a new four star review today from an author I know through Twitter, which made my day. It makes me happy. And I’m hoping, with continued work, some devoted fans, and a few conventions/author events, Rose will continue to do well.

If you would be interested in reading Rose, I’ll leave links below for you to check out. And if you end up reading it, I hope you’ll take the time to let me know what you think. Positive or negative, I love reader feedback, and it not only helps me, but your fellow readers in the long run.

That’s all for now. I’m off to enjoy the weekend. Until next time, my Followers of Fear, good night, Shabbat Shalom, have a great weekend, and pleasant nightmares!

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

As many of you know, I have a YouTube channel that I post to every now and then. Today, I had a bit of time and decided to film a quick little video. What was it about? Well, it’s about reviews. Specifically, how you should help your favorite authors by leaving reviews online for their books, as well as why.

I’m not going to lie, I’m proud of this video. It’s not very long, but I managed to make a nice thumbnail, do some fun editing tricks, and even add music and a short title card at the beginning of the video. I don’t think I’ve ever done that before. I may still be an amateur when it comes to video production and editing, but I am getting better at it.

And yes, I did mention Rose‘s audio book in the video. Can you blame me?

Anyway, as the video said, if you like an author’s book, please leave a review with your thoughts online somewhere. Even a short tweet or post on Facebook or Goodreads can be a momentous help to authors. Especially those who aren’t very well-known. Every review helps an author improve, helps other readers find the book, and lets the authors know their work is being read and hopefully appreciated.

And if you would like to support me, I’ll leave the links for my works below. Please consider checking my stories out and letting me know in a review what you think. Because…well, you know why.

And if you liked this YouTube video, please consider subscribing to my channel. I don’t post often, but when I do, it’s usually because I’m passionate about whatever I’m posting. And I would love to see you all there.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’m off to dispose of Santa’s body before the authorities find me. Until next time, Happy Holidays and pleasant nightmares!

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

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

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

The Quiet Game: Five Tales to Chill Your Bones: Amazon, Createspace, Barnes & Noble, iBooksSmashwords, and Kobo.