Posts Tagged ‘YouTube video’

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!

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

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

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

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

I love coming to this place.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time, pleasant nightmares!

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

So as you likely know by now, I’ll be attending some events as a vendor. And I’ve been promising an update to let you know what the status of those events are. Well, not only have I created a post with updates on the events I’ll be attending later this year. I created a YouTube video about it!

So if you didn’t have time to watch that, let me just tell you about the events I’ll be at later this year.

First, I’ll be a vendor at Paranormal & Psychic Convention, or ParaPsyCon, 2021. This will be held at May 22nd-23rd, 2021 at the Ohio State Reformatory. If you’ve been following this blog for forever, you know that this is a former prison that later became a film set (it was actually the set for The Shawshank Redemption) and now it’s a museum famous for its architecture, history and numerous spirits haunting the building.

Yeah, you read that right. It’s haunted, and I have the documentation to prove it. Click here and here to find out what spooky stuff I witnessed while at the Reformatory.

Anyway, entry into the convention is just the cost of entry into the Reformatory, about $25. Not only will you get to tour the prison, but you’ll get access to the convention. Along with me, there will be other authors, reiki healers, Tarot readers, jewelry makers and vendors, paranormal teams, and so much more! You can check them out on the convention website here. I hope you’ll stop by and check them out.

The other event I’ll be attending as a vendor this summer is Indie Author Book Expo, or IABE, Chicago 2021. This will be at the Quarry Chi in Chicago on June 19th, 2021. This is being held by the same group that I did the book expo in Iowa with last year. With the pandemic improving and a big urban center, hopefully more people interested in reading books by lesser-known authors will stop by. And as far as I know, there’s no charge to get in, so that should help with people’s book budgets. I hope you’ll stop by to see me and all the other amazing authors there. In the meantime, check out IABE’s website here for more information.

My table at the Indie Author Book Expo in Des Moines last year. That was a fun time. Hopefully fun times are ahead this year.

That’s all the events for 2021 so far. If I end up attending any others, I’ll be sure to let you know. I’m actually trying to set up a few author readings for when I’m traveling during my vacation later this year. However, most of the places that are willing to work with me have cautioned that unless I have some sort of local presence, it’ll be difficult to have a successful event of any sort (do I have any Followers of Fear out in St. Louis? Vegas? New Orleans? Bueller?).

And if you’re not able to attend any of those events, you’re always welcome to check out my work by using the links below. Yeah, I’m listing my links again. Sorry, but writing is a business as much as it is a labor of love. Anyway, if you do decide to check out and read my works, I hope you’ll let me know what you think. Positive or negative, I love reader feedback and it helps me out in the long run (as well as other readers).

Also, check out and maybe consider subscribing to my YouTube channel. I don’t post as often as some YouTubers, but I’m passionate about every video, so that should make up for the difference.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. Assuming my first dose of the vaccine doesn’t throw me out of commission, I’m off to devour my enemies with a clan of gargoyles. Until next time, happy reading, a good April, 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: AmazonCreatespace, Barnes & Noble, iBooksSmashwords, and Kobo

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

I actually don’t have anything worthy of devoting a blog post. But if I don’t regularly post, I start to feel like I’m not doing something I should, and that isn’t a pleasant feeling. Thus, I’m giving everyone a quick update on what I’m doing, how certain projects are coming along, and what dark magic I’ve been using lately.

So with that little preamble, let’s get started.

Writing Projects

So, for the past week or so, I’ve been working on a mermaid horror story. Yeah, you read that right. A mermaid horror story. I saw an anthology announcement with a theme of ocean horror, and I thought that it looked good. Especially since the word count actually allowed me to spread my wings and work without feeling like I’m sacrificing story for length. Anyway, I’m about halfway through and hope to be finished with the first draft soon. After that, a quick trip to a beta reader, a quicker edit, and then submission. Hopefully the editor or editors like the anthology.

As for the other writing projects, I’m going to be editing and submitting the Robert Johnson story I wrote, “Window Audience Blues,” in May. Then I’m editing River of Wrath for a submission call in June. And with the last beta reader for The Pure World Comes supposed to be getting back to me soon, I should be able to edit that and start shopping it around soon. And I wrote another article that I submitted to a horror website. After that article on the spider web scene in The Fly, I think I have a good chance of getting it published where I submitted it.

So yeah, lots of editing and submissions in the near future. Hopefully, along with the stories I’ve already submitted here and there, I’ll get at least a few acceptances.

Other Writing-Related Work

Besides my own projects, I’ve been handling a lot of stuff on my plate. Most of it is administrative stuff, like answering emails or planning on various projects. It takes up a good chunk of the time I devote to writing, but it’s necessary to get it all done. And if all these projects I’m working on in secret pan out, who knows? It may lead to more writing time or other benefits.

On a less secretive note, my plans to attend various events in the next couple of months appear to be moving forward. I hope to put out a blog post (and probably a YouTube video) later this week with the latest on those. Not the most exciting thing I could report, but considering how nice it is to have these events and whatnot, I’m excited for them.

Life in General

Between my day job and Passover, I’ve been even busier than usual. Heck, sometimes writing and the administrative stuff I referred to just a moment ago have to take a back seat! Add in that people my age in Ohio are almost eligible for the vaccine, and my dance card is just about full!

I’m not complaining. I know that things could be a whole lot worse and I’m glad they’re not. And if things go as planned, they should get better. I’m actually planning a vacation for the fall that I’m really looking forward to, that’s how optimistic I am about the future. Details, obviously, to be shared when I get a bit closer.

So That’s What I’m Up To Right Now

Life is busy, but it’s good and looking better. I hope this post didn’t bore or disappoint you. If things go as planned this week, I should be able to post something more interesting either Friday or Saturday at the latest. In the meantime, I hope you’ll stick around and continue to support me.

And if you don’t, you’ll find swarms of spiders appearing in your home. That’s the black magic I’m working with today. Check out my work using the links below, read it, and let me know what you think! Or your arachnophobia will go into overdrive this week!

Until next time, my Followers of Fear, 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: AmazonCreatespace, Barnes & Noble, iBooksSmashwords, and Kobo

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

As many of you know, I recently moved into my new apartment, which comes with a second bedroom. I don’t really need a second bedroom, as my only roommate is Jonesy (and skeletons don’t need that much sleep), so I turned it into a home office where I can write and do my day job. And since I finished putting it together today (as well as putting up all the wall art and getting rid of all the boxes), I filmed a short YouTube video of my new home office/writing space. Or as I prefer to call it, THE NURSERY OF HORRORS!

And yes, you have to capitalize it when writing out the name. I wrote the rules, and I enforce them as well.

Anyway, the YouTube video is below. It’s about six and a half minutes long, so why not give it a watch?

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed that tour. If you did, please consider liking and/or commenting on the video. Maybe even subscribe as well? I don’t post often to the YouTube channel, but when I do, it’s usually because I’m passionate enough about what I’m posting. Link for the channel itself is here.

In the meantime, I’m looking forward to writing, editing and (hopefully) publishing some stories here that will scare the pants off of you in this new writing space. I’ll keep you updated on those as they happen. Until then, good night and pleasant nightmares to you all!