Posts Tagged ‘YouTube video’

Hello, Followers of Fear. There are sixty days till Halloween. What have you done to prepare?

Artwork produced by artificial intelligence, or AI art, has become kind of a thing as the technology has advanced. In fact, some months back, there was an app that became a fad for horror writers to generate images and even book covers. And earlier this week, John Oliver featured it on his TV show, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. Here’s the video, if you’re interested. It’s hysterical.

John Oliver’s wife and children must have such a blast telling people who don’t know who he is what he does for a living. “Oh, my husband/dad? He sexually harasses Adam Driver and marries cabbages on TV once a week.”

Anyway, it got me interested enough to want to play around with AI art, so I made an account with one of the recommended companies, Midjourney, and went to work. The results were not only fascinating, but gave me some thoughts on the nascent AI art industry.

First, here are some of my successes. As it turns out, Midjourney’s AI program does very well with Lovecraftian/cosmic horror entities. For example, here’s Cthulhu destroying Las Vegas because I’m not a big Vegas fan (though under the right circumstances I’d visit again).

Then, in order, we have Yog-Sothoth, Shub-niggurath, Nyarlathotep, Azathoth, two pictures of the Deep Ones, the Color from Outer Space, and the King in Yellow.

And portraits of famous people tended to go well with the program. Here are Stephen King, Anne Rice, and HP Lovecraft, three of my biggest influences as a writer, as well as one of Lizzie Borden with an axe. Because why not?

And because I love ballet and try to put dancers in my stories when I can, I made a series of ballet posts, with their titles in the captions.

Dancer and Wolf on the lake
The Little Ballerina Ghost
Dancer in the Egyptian Temple
Dancers on a Moonlit Beach
Little Dancers Running from Lava
Little Dancer and Anubis

Pretty cool, right? Most of them look really good. However, those were success stories, like I said. Here’s what happened when I tried to create Jason Voorhees from the Friday the 13th films.

Yeah, I know. None of those come close to looking like Jason! He’s arguably more famous than Cthulhu, but these were the results. And then there was my attempt at Freddy Kreuger from A Nightmare on Elm Street. Oy freaking vey!

Yeah, who is that? Not Freddy Kreuger, who is definitely more famous than Cthulhu! Honestly, it looks more like my conception of Leland Gaunt, the antagonist from Needful Things by Stephen King. How could the AI get our favorite subconscious serial killer so wrong?

And those are just a few examples. I went through several failures trying to get anywhere close to a specific idea or image, only to give up when I realized the program just couldn’t create it. I couldn’t even create a decent Sailor Moon or an accurate tiger image, and both those prompts have enough references out there that they should have been easy to create something accurate.

Even some of the successes took a lot of work and experimentation, such as The King in Yellow or Little Dancer and Anubis. I won’t even go into detail about how hard it was to get a good Alice in Wonderland pic that wasn’t too trippy. I mean, I know the source material is plenty weird, but not all art based on it has to be super-surreal!

And while I call some of them successes, they aren’t perfect. You can especially see it in the ballerina series, where features like the head and limbs look odd or bent in ways you wouldn’t see on a normal dancer or a Degas painting. Only the tutus and bodices come out well. The rest of their bodies can be a mixed bag.

It kind of reminds me of that scene in 1986’s The Fly, where Jeff Goldblum puts steak through the teleporter and it comes out tasting weird. He figures out that the computer hasn’t learned how to move organic materials, and is instead creating an interpretation or bad imitation of what it thinks steak is. That’s what we have here: the AI has learned how to mimic and create, but it’s still leagues away from making certain things.

And honestly, I’m glad. Art is art because there’s someone behind it with a vision or a passion. You can program a computer to recreate famous art pieces or original pieces, including Batman comics and scripts or horror screenplays. And the computer might even do a good job at times. But there won’t be any passion or soul behind it. Art is art because we’re putting our love and soul into our creations.

And getting to work with a creator? That’s even more special. Believe me, I’ve done it before, and it’s amazing to see your vision come to life with their help. Especially when working on art pieces like book covers. That truly is something special.

That being said, I can see AI-generated art being used for cheap book covers as the technology improves, and the services of artists becoming more expensive. This could especially apply for small presses or independent publishers who need to lower costs while maximizing profits. The only time publishers may use a real artist is if the author is big enough to warrant it.

Hopefully that doesn’t happen, because it would mean we wouldn’t get to see some really amazing collaborations. So, for the meantime, I’ll stop with the AI art (I’ve scratched that itch and I don’t want to pay a subscription for Midjourney, anyway), and continue supporting the artists who create amazing art. Especially horror art.

And now, here are some more pieces I created. Except for a few I’m waiting to reveal till the time is right, here are my other successes. You can ask what was going through my mind when I created these in the comments below. Enjoy, and until next time, my Followers of Fear, pleasant nightmares!

Vampire Mothers and Child
Jump Rope with a Ghost
Jack the Ripper in an Alley
Flaming Giraffe #1
Flaming Giraffe #2
The Necronomicon
Bunny Girl and Hammer
Spooky Alice in Wonderland
Tour entrance of the West Virginia Penitentiary

As you know, I went to another haunted location recently. This one was the West Virginia Penitentiary, which was to be the host of the West Virginia Penitentiary Paracon. Now, you know me, I never pass up the opportunity to visit a haunted location, so the day before the Paracon I visited the prison for a tour.

Now, if you’ve never been to the Penitentiary (and I bet many of you haven’t), it’s a big, Gothic building that reminds me of my beloved Ohio State Reformatory back in Mansfield. Granted, it’s older by about twenty years and was in operation for far longer, and its history is certainly bloodier. In fact, the prison used to be known nationwide as “Blood Alley,” and it was cited by the Justice Department in an investigation of America’s prisons as its worst examples. In the late 1980s, there was a riot there that killed four people, and at one point, an Aryan Brotherhood leader was murdered by his deputy during yard time!

And these are just drops in the bucket: apparently the prison saw about 998 deaths during its operation. And that’s just the ones that we know of that weren’t scheduled executions.

Obviously, the building is supposed to be haunted up to the gills, and I was hoping I might experience some creepy occurrences while there. Sadly, I didn’t, and I couldn’t attend the vendor ghost hunt after the paracon. However, I did feel something in one area:

The “skating rink,” where I got a really bad feeling

There’s this long corridor near where you enter the building for tours called the skating rink. It got that name because during the winter, event today, this corridor ices over and you can skate on it. When the prison was in operation, prisoners were supposed to line up along the walls before going back to their cells, and anyone who would step over a line on the floor would be shot dead. It was a great way to get rid of someone you disliked, and plenty of people did.

I did not know this, but I felt some negative energy in that area. When the tour guide told us about that, it made sense.

I then told our tour guide about my feeling, and he later said to another tour guide as they passed by that he was scared of me (I hadn’t even told him I was a writer yet). I was proud that he figured out to be afraid of me. Very few realize they should until it’s too late.

Some other places that caught my attention were:

This one wall. Can you see a signature? That’s from Zak Bagans, leader of the Ghost Adventures team from TV. Apparently he left his signature there while filming an episode there. However, someone destroyed part of the signature (I think the dude was drunk), and it’s now a funny part of the tours.

This hallway is infamous for a funny reason: apparently the pattern on the floor was imported from Spain, but when Netflix used part of the prison for filming an episode of Mindhunter, they placed their own tile on the floor, ruining the pattern. Netflix is now banned from ever using the prison. I find that hysterical.

This is the Wheel. It separated the main prison from either a residential or administrative section of the prison. Only one other like it exist in the world, in Manchester, England, and it’s the only one in existence still being used.

On the tour, we learned that the prison was used as the filming location for the TV show Castle Rock, and that this particular cell was where Bill Skarsgard stood for his scenes. Standing in that same cell was just plain awesome!

Finally, there was this moment: this section, in addition to having some creepy spirits, is probably the only area in the prison where the cell doors still work. The cells are about five feet by seven, and would usually house three inmates, and they would let us experience what it’s like to be in that cell as a prisoner for a minute.

Naturally, I got it on camera.

Yeah, that was a cool moment. Even if I didn’t get any sort of presence in there.

So, would I go back? Probably, if I could properly investigate the place. There are some shadow figures that supposedly hang around, and I would like to see about contacting some of the other spirits, including ones in areas that weren’t on the tour (some places were just off-limits for certain reasons).

And maybe I’ll get something really creepy on video. Creepier than me, anyway.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’m off to work on Crawler. After this chapter, I may take a break to work on a short story or two. And I might have a post or two to write in the near future. So, until next time, good night, pleasant nightmares, and is that a chupacabra outside your window?

Stock image of a house. Definitely not my condo! Photo by Binyamin Mellish on Pexels.com

As many of you know from reading in this blog, I recently bought and moved into a condo after six years in an apartment complex. And while at first it was a lot of stress, I’ve been enjoying my new home while at the same time updating it, repairing certain things, and thinking of more changes to make (I’m thinking of painting my bedroom green, and my office will definitely be black and white).

Yeah, I’m lucky to have this place.

I know a lot of other people in my age bracket aren’t as lucky.

Let’s face it, housing in the United States is in a crisis right now. There are a whole lot of reasons why that is: fewer affordable apartment buildings available or being built; fewer single-family or “starter” homes available or being built; Baby Boomers and Gen Xers downsizing and taking all the homes that are available because they have more financial resources; wages having not increased for years while the cost of living having grown steadily at the same time; local ordinances making it more profitable to build multi-family homes and homes for higher-earning families; and so much more.

I won’t go more into it because I’m not a subject matter expert, but these videos do a great job explaining the problem:

This one is from The Daily Show showing how desperate things have become and the factors millennials face.

This one from Vox shows how making affordable homes in the US faces more obstacles than just profits.

And Last Week Tonight with John Oliver shows the many problems that folks in many of America’s cities are facing just trying to keep a roof over their head. It’s as funny as it is troubling.

Like I said, I’m lucky. I have a good job and my paycheck has grown with every passing year. Rent in my city has, until recently anyway, been quite affordable and never got too expensive at my place. My student loans were paid off years ahead of schedule thanks to my paternal grandfather of blessed memory, and what was left of what he left me allowed me to really build my savings account. They were further built by putting away the stimulus payments the government gave out in 2020 and 2021. I didn’t have to put those payments towards necessities because my workplace had been doing work-from-home for years, so the switch wasn’t too hard on me and my employer. And I got my mortgage before the interest rate was hiked, so I don’t have to pay extra like a bunch of other people who will be borrowing money in the near future.

Again, I’m lucky.

But even with all that luck, I still had a lot of trouble finding a new home. In the six months I searched for a new home, I heard about high wait lists for apartments in the complexes I applied to. Especially the nice ones that were affordable, and those were few and far between. Most of the ones that didn’t look like they were dens of iniquity or poorly maintained charged well over a thousand dollars per month for one-bedroom apartments. And that was just looking for a place to rent! (I tried to keep my options open.) Of the seven houses and condos for sale I visited, I bid on five. And I was outbid on the first four, sometimes by several thousand dollars.

Getting this place, especially right as I was getting close to my move-out date, was a Godsend.

And I know plenty of my generation are struggling, and will continue to struggle, just to stay in a home. And for many, even a crappy apartment might be too expensive. As in the Daily Show video, plenty of millennials are buying fixer-uppers together, but for many even that is too hard.

And I just hope that, by talking about it, maybe something will change. Not on its own, obviously. What do I look like, the Pope? But maybe, if I join my voice to the chorus advocating for change, then maybe change will come. It’ll be slow, but I hope it happens. And if nothing else, maybe it’ll remind us how lucky we are to be in homes at all. And that nothing in life is guaranteed.

Well, that was a dark note to finish on. How about some photos of my new place?

My bedroom. I’m thinking of painting it green.
Jonesy hanging out on the wall near the kitchen window.
No surprise, my masks make this place so much creepier.
My first Shabbos celebration in the new place. Took a lot of unpacking before I could do this.
You like my new rug? Bought it with a gift card a friend gave me as a housewarming gift.
My new writing space. What do you think?
Finally, my new lamp. I like the meeting of vintage and industrial here.

Well, that’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. If there are any more updates on my home life that I feel like sharing, I will. Until next time, good night and pleasant nightmares.

As I mentioned in my last post, an audio version of The Pure World Comes is in the works and was being put through the quality assurance process. I can now let you know that TPWC has passed the quality check and is being exported to multiple audio book platforms! Even better, it should be out on most of them on August 10th, the three month anniversary of the paperback and ebook’s initial release.

For those of you who don’t know, The Pure World Comes is a Gothic horror novel about a maid going to work at the estate of a mad scientist and what happens there. Think Frankenstein had a baby with Crimson Peak. Here’s the summary from the back cover:

Shirley Dobbins wants nothing more than to live a quiet life and become a head housekeeper at a prestigious house. So when she is invited to come work for the mysterious baronet Sir Joseph Hunting at his estate, she thinks it is the chance of a lifetime. However, from the moment she arrives things are not what they seem. As she becomes wrapped up in more of the baronet’s radical science, she realizes something dark and otherworldly is loose within the estate. And if left unchecked, it’ll claim the lives of all she holds dear.

Not bad, right? And the audio book is amazing! It’s narrated by Nikki Delgado and is about six and a half hours long. And what a great six and a half hours it is! Ms. Delgado did an excellent job and I can’t wait to hear what everyone thinks of her reading. In fact, I made a video using the retail sample and posted it to YouTube late last night. You can watch/listen to it in the video below.

Not bad, huh? She does an amazing job reading what is probably the scariest section of the book.

Anyway, that’s all for now. I’ll post about the audio book again as soon as it is out. In the meantime, it should show up on most audio book retailers’ websites (and likely available for preorder) by August 10th (though Amazon and Audible might be annoying for annoyingness sake). For now, you can still get the paperback and ebook editions using the links below. If you like what you read, please let me knwo what you thought so I can improve as a writer and continue to provide quality stories.

So until next time (which could be very soon), good night, pleasant nightmares, and happy reading. Or listening, whichever you prefer.

The Pure World Comes: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, Kobo, Goodreads

Jeffrey Mansion in Bexley, Ohio.

Been meaning to write this post for about a week now, but life got busy and there was never a good time. Don’t you just hate it when that happens.

Anyway, as I’ve mentioned before, I’m working on short stories in-between edits on Hannah. Or shorter stories, seeing as some of them are novelette or novella length stories. Might work on a novel if the itch gets really strong, though I’m not sure if I’ll edit Toyland again or finally start on Crawler. But for this particular story, which I’m guessing will be a novella, I had a particular location in Columbus that I wanted to check out as a basis for the setting.

I’ve been to the Jeffrey Mansion many times when younger. I used to live a few minutes away from it and sometimes would play on the playground or walk the woods on the property. But I had never been inside before and had never heard of it being potentially haunted.

Then I discovered this video:

I thought since it was so close and easily accessible, and since I had a story in mind taking place in a similar location, I thought I would go and see it. Sadly, I didn’t find any evidence of hauntings. Just a weird moment when, in the library, the camera app on my phone started acting weird and wouldn’t work again until I left the room again. That being said, I could only access the first floor and basement, as the upper floors were reserved and off-limits to visitors. Also, it was daytime, so I couldn’t do a proper investigation. Perhaps the mansion is haunted and there are spooky things just waiting to be found.

Probably not the woman in white or the hanging man spirit from the video, however. The former is likely kids being afraid of the then-living janitor of the premises, and the original owner died in a hospital in the 1960s, so it’s unlikely he’s the hanging ghost if there is one.

But that’s not the point. The point is, I don’t get to stop by actual locations for research for stories that often. Sure, I’ve been to locations and used them as the basis for stories later on, but never to a location with a story already in mind. Going there, walking the grounds and taking photos of the lower two floors, my mind was moving at a thousand miles an hour and thinking up all sorts of great details for the story.

In the garden room: “This would probably double as a ballroom for parties. Oh, and this room will be an important location for the story. That will be in here.”

The tiny staircase hidden in the garden wall: “Ooh, I wonder if I could make use of this somehow. Maybe as a location to meet?”

The dance studio: “Didn’t know this was down here. But it works for me. Some of my characters are dancers, after all.”

It’s just insane how much of a boon my imagination got from coming here. It really helped me develop plot points and the location my story would take place in, right down to the location’s history and what would happen in which rooms. If I ever get a chance, I would like to go to another location for a specific story in mind, just to see what would happen to my brain and to the story. Who knows? Doing so might help me create my best work yet.

Anyway, that’s all for now, My Followers of Fear. Next up for me is to do some edits for the short story I’m using for That Which Cannot Be Undone (that’s still coming along wonderfully) and then, if there are no new edits for Hannah, I’ll get started on this new story. And, of course, I’ll let you guys know if anything exciting comes up.

In the meantime, enjoy more photos of Jeffrey Mansion. Until next time, good night and pleasant nightmares!

First photo of the mansion. Beautiful Jacobethan structure. I would love to do a full paranormal investigation there or see it used in a movie based off my work.
Side view of the mansion. Kids at the preschool get picked up there, though I imagine it was used to drop off important guests once upon a time.
Close up of the mansion’s entrance. It’s pretty striking.
Back of the mansion. It looks like it could be a movie set someday. I know plenty of kids like to use them while playing on the playground nearby.
Back of the carriage court. Back in the day, it was where the owners stored their carriages and cars. Now, it’s used as event space.

Fairy tales have been on my mind a lot lately. Granted, that’s nothing new. When writing Toyland, I knew fairy tales and children’s stories were going to play a part in the story, since it was about a school haunted by a ghost obsessed with a children’s fairy tale. And yes, I still hope to get that book published.

But recently, I took a class offered by the Horror Writers Association on fairy tales, which got my imagination working. And then I watched a couple of TED talks on YouTube on the subject. And last week, I wrote my own twisted, dark fantasy version of Cinderella in just one sitting while everyone else was watching the Super Bowl. This was at the same time I spent two weeks coming up with an idea for a novel involving fairy tale elements, the idea finally crystallizing on Saturday before going to see Giselle. A ballet, by the way, that could be considered a fairy tale. It certainly has enough fairy tale elements to qualify as one.

All this has made me hyper-aware of just how much fairy tales have permeated our society. Not just as stories or elements of our favorite stories, but in advertising, fashion, music, art, and even our expressions (“Cinderella story,” anyone?). They are freaking everywhere, and used/enjoyed not just by children, but by teens and adults too.

“But wait,” you’re probably asking, “aren’t fairy tales just kid stuff?”

Not exactly. In fact, fairy tales were often for adults as much as children. Early written versions of Little Red Riding Hood were told as parables to warn young ladies about getting into bed with the wrong sort of man, or as metaphors about entering womanhood (especially if cannibalism is kept in the story). In fact, that is still the case in some places: in Ireland, many still believe in fairies and tell stories, or “tales,” about them and what places to avoid. And in parts of Scandinavia and Iceland, beliefs in trolls and elves are still popular. Many countries in Asia, especially in southeast Asia, still believe in many types of spirits (and according to the classical definition of fairies, just about any supernatural entity can be considered a fairy, so it counts), and use stories to warn new generations of the dangers of pissing them off.

This adaptation of “The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter” is a prime example of how fairy tales can be recontextualized for new eras.

But beyond warnings, fairy tales, like many other kind of stories, are reflections of how we look at our world. Hansel and Gretel, for example, was probably told in an age of famine, poverty and witch hunts, given its elements and the lessons imparted in it. Even better, fairy tales can be recontextualized for new ages. Cinderella tales are increasingly told to make the lead less passive and more in control of her own life, and the Studio Ghibli film The Tale of Princess Kaguya, based on the Japanese fairy tale The Story of the Bamboo Cutter, retells the story with the theme of how Kaguya wants none of the finery her foster parents gift her, only to be surrounded by people who love her. This feels relevant in an age with rising consumerism, online image-building, and social isolation.

And that’s the cool thing about fairy tales, too. You can retell them in so many different ways. Hell, you can even come up with new ones. Plenty of writers are creating their own fairy tales, such as Diana Wynne Jones did with Howl’s Moving Castle, Melissa Albert with The Hazel Wood and many more. And many stories today use elements of fairy tales. The inclusion of “The Three Billy Goats Gruff” in Stephen King’s IT isn’t just a fun choice by King, after all: King originally started plotting that story as a modern interpretation of “The Three Billy Goats Gruff.”

Makes you wonder what elements of fairy tales and legends you’re putting into your stories, doesn’t it?

And that’s the thing. Even you can make up your own original fairy tales or retellings. In fact, plenty of writers are, and will as the world changes. I wouldn’t be surprised if we get an updated version of Anansi and the introduction of stories to the world in the wake of so many states attempting to rewrite history or schools attempting to ban books. And I wouldn’t be surprised if this pandemic, or any of the major conflicts we’ve experienced in the past several years, make their way into a new or an old fairy tale. I’ve already come up with a few ideas for some, and might write one or two in the near future.

And I bet, no matter who’s telling the stories, they’ll continue to influence society for years to come. From the “Once upon a time” beginnings to the optional “they all lived happily ever after.”

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I spent most of President’s Day writing, so I’ll take the rest of the night off. I’ll be back soon, as I’m expecting to share some good news very soon. Until then, my Followers of Fear, good night, pleasant nightmares, and don’t try to wake me up with a kiss. I bite.

Also, here are some of the videos I watched while researching fairy tales. Give them a watch. They’re quite edifying:

Transforming our Understanding of Fairy Tales by Anne Dugan

Why We Absolutely Need Fairy Tales by Jason Link

Myths, Folklore & Legends: We Still Need Our Fairy Tales by Heidi Shamsuddin

Last month, I wrote a story that combined art and my love of ballet with the stories of the King in Yellow. This was after finally reading the stories earlier this year, which was after hearing about them and their titular subject for a few years. Recently, I edited that story and then submitted it to a publication that I think will like it. And after doing so, I just wanted to write a blog post about the King in Yellow, and see how many of the Followers of Fear are familiar with the character.

So, for those of you who don’t know, The King in Yellow is a collection of short stories published in 1895 by Robert Chambers. The first four stories revolve around the titular character. Or to be more precise, around a fictional play revolving around the titular character. This play has the uncanny ability to make those who read/see it lose their hold on reality. Or, in another sense, to put them under the sway of the King in Yellow.

If you would like a more in-depth analysis of the character, the play, and stories than I can give here, you can watch this video which goes in depth on the collection and the stories in question.

Not bad, huh? I find the Tale Foundry channel puts out some incredible work on all things writing and literature.

Anyway, The King in Yellow–the book, the play, and the character–have had quite an effect on horror literature. HP Lovecraft was actually heavily influenced by the book, and some of the themes in the book could be considered proto-Lovecraftian. Some writers have even included the King in the Cthulhu Mythos under the name of Hastur, a name from the original collection, as well as the half-brother of Cthulhu. And plenty of other writers have played in the sandbox of The King in Yellow, both in and out of the Cthulhu Mythos. He’s appeared in tabletop games, video games, all sorts of stories, and even was heavily referenced in the TV show True Detective.

Question is, why? What is it about these four stories and the King that has caused them to endure and slowly germinate into our popular culture?

Well, that’s the thing: it does germinate. Or the play does, anyway.

If you’ve read the stories or watched the video, you might have noticed that the King himself only appears once. Even then, you can’t be sure this isn’t the hallucination of a madman. Really, what we see in the stories is the effect of the play. It’s power to corrupt people, as well as the public outcry against it, has ensured that if someone hasn’t read it, they at least know of it and have seen the damage it’s caused.

Sounds like Twilight, but better and horrifying in the right ways, if you think about it. And it’s a great metaphor for how stories can spread through a populace and change people and culture, for better or worse. Not just fictional texts, like Harry Potter or Uncle Tom’s Cabin, but non-fiction tomes like The Travels of Marco Polo and Herodotus’s Histories, and religious texts like the Bible. All of these had huge effects on the societies they spread through, changing cultures, beliefs, and minds in so many ways.

The metaphor is even more apt if you think of the play as a religious text for those who worship the King in Yellow.

Just one edition of the King in Yellow collection. There are as many as there are ways to tell a story with the character.

Add in that the stories are psychological works where a lot is left to the imagination, combined with some decent and eerie storytelling, as well as ideas that resonate with writers the way Lovecraft’s world would years later, and it’s no wonder people began playing with and adding to the concept of the King in Yellow. And this was happening even before the stories entered the public domain.

Is it any wonder the King has been partially absorbed into the Cthulhu Mythos now?

And like the Cthulhu Mythos, the King in Yellow is becoming more well-known and mainstream, albeit slower than the Mythos. Still, the fact that it showed up in True Detective says a lot. And I hope, should the story I wrote be published, that it’s considered a nice addition to the King’s legacy, as well as helps to spread awareness of the original stories.

Speaking of which, I highly recommend checking out the original King in Yellow short story collection. They’re really eerie and you probably won’t regret checking them out. At the very least, you’ll be able to see how another classic work of horror has influenced the genre as a whole.

Just don’t read beyond the first four stories. The ones afterward don’t really connect to the stories about the play and aren’t as good, making you wonder why Chambers included those stories. I heard that if you read the book in reverse, it reveals something, but I can think of a lot of other stuff I would rather do with my time.

Have you read The King in Yellow or come across works inspired by it? What do you think of the stories? Let’s discuss.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’m going to make dinner, read a story a friend sent to me for feedback, and imagine putting together a King in Yellow costume. Until next time, good night, pleasant nightmares, and beware the Yellow Sign.


One more thing: the crowdfunding campaign for That Which Cannot Be Undone is at 29% funded! And we’ve added a whole bunch of new perks to the campaign, as well as a new author to the anthology!

If you’re unaware, I’m part of a small publishing press and we’re crowdfunding our first anthology, That Which Cannot Be Undone, which will highlight Ohio writers. It’s an exciting new venture, and we’re very excited for you to read the stories that will be included. I’ve already written one story that will be in the anthology, so I hope you’ll support us in making this anthology a reality.

If you’re interested, you can click on the link below and learn more about the anthology. I hope you’ll lend us your support! Thanks, and have a good night!

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

Let’s face it, every creative out there (especially those who weave stories together) has put themselves into their work. Often, they do it more than once, and the resemblance to themselves, accurate or in their own heads, varies from self-insert to self-insert.* HP Lovecraft loved to put himself through cosmic horror and dreamlike ordeals as Randolph Carter (does that count as masochism?), and Stephen King’s The Dark Half is obviously him having fun with a fictional version of himself and his pen name Richard Bachman.

And don’t forget, Dante Alighieri made himself the star of The Divine Comedy, where the poet Virgil and later Beatrice, the dead girl he crept on when she was alive, led him through Hell, Purgatory and Heaven.

You know, now that I’m typing this, I realize that a lot of self-insert characters get to go on the biggest, most grandiose adventures. I mean, Dante traversed the afterlife and recorded it in detail! And remember Lani Sarem, the lady who conned her way to the top of the New York Times bestseller list? Her novel’s protagonist, who from the cover art is basically her under a different name, was a witch who basically became the delight of the Las Vegas entertainment scene using her abilities.

There’s an article to be found in this, I’m just not in the mood to research and write it right now.

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes. Self-inserts. I’m no exception to the rule. Throughout my writing career, I’ve included different versions of myself in my stories. One or two have even been included in published stories (I’ll let you guess which ones those are). And once more, I’m inserting myself into the story I’m currently working on. Only this time, this might be the most obvious and blatant self-insert since Dante!

Okay, that’s an exaggeration. But it feels like it! My character is basically what I hope will be me in a few years: a full-time writer with his own home, hosting costume parties in his living room and able to focus on creepy tales as a living. His last name is an anagram of my own and his first name also begins with an “R.” So yeah, pretty obvious self-insert.

Still, I’m having fun with it. The story’s focus isn’t on my character, he’s just a good way to get this story going. And since I can focus on telling the story and not making my self-insert seem like the bee’s knees to readers, I can get a little ridiculous and have a ton of fun with it. Whether that will lead to a decent ghost story (because of course I would put myself into a ghost story!) remains to be seen. But perhaps with some edits…well, we’ll see.

Anyway, I’ll get back to this story soon. And I’ll likely have a post or two for you all very soon, so keep an eye out. And in the meantime, check out this book trailer for The Jewish Book of Horror that was uploaded to YouTube last night. It’s really cool, and you can even see my name listed beside my story, “The Divorce from God,” at one point. Give it a watch and consider getting a copy of the book when it releases.

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

*That’s the preferred term, as I understand it.

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!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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