Friday, July 22, 2022

Fifty-Five is the New...?

So where the hell did FIVE years go? Seriously? I usually don't make a big thing about birthdays (I mean, who really does as you get older) and as my 55th quickly approached, I remembered when I turned 50. I posted about it here, which you can scroll back and read if you're really, REALLY bored. 

Back then, I'd just started out on my indie self publishing venture, put out a couple ebook shorts that my friend and editor Erin Al-Mehairi had so kindly helped me with. And that started our wonderful professional relationship as editor and client (along with her partner Tim, who's awesome to work with). I'd been working on the first draft of my scifi horror novel The Ravening five years ago, and had been close to completing it. Mister Jack, my Halloween horror novelette, would come next and then Roseblood. And because Mister Jack had been my most popular work to date, I wrote Night of the Pumpkin God, my first full length horror novel and followup to Mister Jack. 
Again, if you're really bored or just mildly curious, my last blog post back at the beginning of the year was to promote my latest horror novel, the 2nd book in the Roseblood trilogy called Bloodletting. In my usual rambling on style, I explain how my first-ever published horror story called "Roseblood" became the horror novella Rose Blood. Do check it out, but more importantly, stay tuned because the 3rd and final Rose Blood novel Bloodlust will be out later this year!
In five years, I've produced and self published two full length horror novels and three novellas, not to mention several short stories and two more books that need to be edited/revised. One is Island of Devils, the followup to The Ravening, which in its first draft form is my longest book to date (even edited, I suspect it still will be) and two, is of course Bloodlust, which will be a full length horror novel. 
I also broke into horror anthologies with a story in each three volumes of the Books of Horror Community Horror Anthology, part of the hugely popular Books of Horror FB group.
Not too shabby for five years worth of hard work. 

One of my biggest challenges is standing out to some degree amongst all the other extremely talented newer crop of Horror authors and growing my readership. I'll probably be launching an email newsletter in the coming year to help with that. Moreover it's not so much book sales as it is getting book reviews, which in turn helps the former. At the end of the day, I just want folks to enjoy my work, post an honest review, and hopefully buy my next book (or other books of mine). That's not too much to ask, right? 

As for the next five years, who knows? I'd like to eventually do much less self publishing and focus more of getting my work in with an indie horror publisher. Five years ago, it was all about getting my name and work out there, but doing it myself (with the help of an editor and professional cover artist and book designer) is an expense that I can afford. But it is an expense. Besides the forthcoming and future novels mentioned above, I also want to self publish two short story collections, The Nightmare Season, and another centered around my demonic entity (featured in my ebook shorts Clowning Around and The Last Chord) entitled No Laughing Matter. There's also a horror novella called Rebirth that I'm toying with, sort of a fun side project that may get written by the end of 2022, but we'll see. 


As always, you can find my ebooks and trade paperbacks on BN here. And my Kindle ebooks here. Book reviewers that are interested can always reach out to me for a digital ARC of any of my books. Thanks so much for showing an interest in my books and of course for reading them!

Monday, January 31, 2022

No Ordinary Rose!

 Back in the mid-90s, I wrote a short story called "Roseblood." A year or so later it became my first published horror story, appearing in a little rag of horror zine called Impaler. Yeah, that Impaler. Apparently they liked my story enough with its loosely vampiric overtones to want it in their zine. I was proud of achieving this first step, and added a few more small press horror publication sales over the years since then. After a long drought in writing for a variety of reasons (honestly, I never stopped writing, but for a variety of reasons, I'd not submitted any short stories for publication anywhere for a while), I took a step into the self-publishing world about a decade ago and haven't looked back. In recent years, I've had a couple short story appearances in the popular Facebook group Books of Horror Community Horror Anthology, Vol. 1 thru 3. I'm quite proud of that. Still have work to do, getting more of my books in reader's hands, more reviews, and breaking into the indie horror small press market instead of self-publishing my books.

But honestly, it all started with this seductively deadly serial killer named Rose Valentine aka Roseblood. I revisited that short story several years ago, found it lacking in some ways like many early efforts, and considered rebooting it. Since "Roseblood" took place in the late 80s, I decided I wanted to write a more recent tale and alas, "A Rose's Prick on a Bleeding Heart" was born. I shared it with my editor and friend, Erin Al-Mehairi, who liked it but as always with her deft editorial eye, told me there could be more of even longer story here if fleshed out. She wanted to know more about Rose. I gave that serious consideration and it didn't take long for me to write the short novel Roseblood. 

So for me, while not nearly as popular or bestselling as Mister Jack, Night of the Pumpkin God, or The Ravening, Roseblood has always been one of my favorite stories because Roseblood was the first. And Rose Valentine had more stories to tell, too.

When I began writing Bloodletting, the 2nd Roseblood novel, I already knew I'd probably write one more Roseblood book. Shortly after finishing Bloodletting, I'd already come up with a title and some story notes. The 3rd and final Roseblood novel will be called Bloodlust. I expect that to be finished sometime later this year and most likely see publication late 2022 or early 2023. 



Book bloggers or reviewers, please do hit me up for digital ARCs as I'm happy to do so. Or if you've read any of my books, I'd appreciate a honest review posted on any of the usual venues. Thanks for reading my work as it means the world to me! 

My ebooks and trade paperbacks are available here on bn.com! Signed copies can be purchased directly from me and payable via PayPal, too.

My ebooks for Kindle can be found here!

Sunday, October 31, 2021

Josie's Prank Night

So, here's a little Halloween treat (no tricks) from me to you, especially for fans of Mister Jack, my Halloween horror novellette. Enjoy! 



Josie's Prank Night 

Copyright 2021


The resident "witch" of Summerdale normally hated Halloween. For a variety of reasons, some of which had been widely known to a handful of townspeople that were old enough to still remember the decades past stories about her. 

Of course most of those old tales concerning her and her long deceased mother and her murdered lover Jack Delacroix, aka the infamous local boogeyman otherwise known as Mister Jack, were mostly false. Only Josie knew the truth and only a few others did too. Those numbered less than the fingers of her arthritic right hand. Except for the rancher still kicking it on his property at the outskirts of town, once a former lover when she was much younger and still had her looks.

So, Josie didn't just despise the autumnal holiday because of what it represented and those ghastly memories tied to her parents...no, she hated it because of the kids that started coming around, bothering her, playing Halloween pranks and disturbing her relatively quiet existence. And scaring her cats, too.

For years after the personal tragedy that afflicted her mother, and for years after Josie entered this world until her mother died, no one bothered her. Sure, the stories abounded but it hadn't been until she was on her own and trying to just live her life that the kids started coming around. At first it was merely innocent curiosity. But soon the inevitable Halloween mischief began. 

Then it stopped, thankfully, as the sixties came and went with all the social strife and the war. The seventies had nearly come and gone before the latest crop of ne'er do wells decided to harass the crazy, witchy old cat lady living in the woods outside of the town proper. 

And now here came the 1980s. 

She hoped this new era of peace and prosperity would give her another break from the annual fall tradition the high schoolers liked to call Prank Night. Seemed like the allure of the newfangled MTV channel and video game arcades, along with the usual nonsense young people with raging hormones got up to since time immemorial, wasn't simply enough.

Last Halloween, it had been awful and the kids a bit meaner and disrespectful. One of the little bastards broke a front window, not to mention the aftermath of broken eggs that had been tossed at her old ramshackle house. 

Josie vowed that if those same kids or a new crop of them came around this Halloween, she'd have a little Prank Night fun of her own. 

She'd spent time considering her options, least of which was actually employing some of what some would call black magic. Sure, she could do that because she had her mother's witches journal, her Book of Shadows, which sounded more ominous than it really was. But there were things in there that would more than do the trick. Josie had many times thought about resurrecting the restless ghost of her father, but even if she could, that kind of magic always came with a price. And she just wasn't prepared to do that, even if she could.

No, she'd let her beloved father have his final rest, one whom she'd never met in this plane, such as it was. Besides, Josie got the impression that her mother, blessed be her soul, would most likely not be happy if she attempted that.

Josie sat on her front porch, smoking her pipe and sipping her own blend of strong herbal tea and mulled over what exactly she was going to do for Halloween. 

Suddenly there came a loud and distinctive meow from just off her rickety porch. It was Shadow, one of her newer feline additions. She lost count these days but she had at least two dozen cats now. Some stayed inside or hung around her overgrown yard, hunting for mice or lizards. Shadow was just over a year old by her estimation, nearly big as a medium sized dog, and black as midnight. Hence the name. She'd never bothered with coming inside but seemed happy to sometimes lay on the porch for neck scratches from her new mistress. She would wander away to hunt in the woods around her house and occasionally be gone for a few days. Recently she'd gotten into a scuffle with another feral cat or some other woods critter and had one ragged ear for her trouble.

However this Halloween would be her first with Josie. Shadow loved Josie. She sometimes got quite territorial when any of the other cats got too close to her. She was fairly protective of Josie as well.

Josie stood up and stepped off her porch, holding her smoldering pipe. She watched as Shadow sauntered around to where her overgrown garden lay behind the house. Her wizened eyes spied the top of her scarecrow who she'd long nicknamed Jack. 

A sly and wicked smile spread across her lined, leathery face. 

*    *    *

Jeremy and Nick had longed planned for this night. Hell, it was easily their favorite time of the year besides summer break and they couldn't wait to pull it off. 

Both were seniors at Summerdale High and had of course known about the Halloween tradition of pranking that crazy old woman named Josie. Supposedly, she was a witch who lived in the woods outside of town with a bunch of cats. They'd never been out there yet and while they'd always wanted to do this, now was the time. Next year would be college and away from Summerdale and on with the next chapter of their young lives. 

If only both their girlfriends were more enthusiastic about their ghoulishly fun All Hallows Eve plans. Carla and Stacy were less than happy about it, tried excusing themselves from it, but both Jeremy and Nick had convinced them to begrudgingly go along. 

Besides, both boys needed their girlfriends as eye witnesses.

They'd picked up a couple of cheap rubber Halloween masks for the occasion and other necessary supplies: a case of Budweiser swiped from Nick's father's garage fridge well stocked most of the time (he wouldn't miss it), a carton of eggs, and a camera that Jeremy's sister hadn't bothered with in months. Jeremy added two bags to their Prank Night gear. One bag full of fresh dog shit collected from the big back yard his 5 year old Rottweiler Butch made his daily deposits in and the other full of rotting mangos. The latter was in the front side yard and the damned thing sprouted so much of the tropical fruit every year (for years!) that his folks couldn't give it all away and Jeremy grew to hate the stuff. His mom was always trying to slip the fruit in every freaking thing since he was a kid.

Now they were sitting in Jeremy's Chevy Blazer after they'd picked up the girls, who sat in the back. Stacy asked about the beer, which was in a cooler behind her in the cargo compartment and as she turned around, Carla wrinkled her nose and made a face. Both girls hadn't bothered dressing up for the occasion, but instead wore regular date night clothes: Stacy in Jordache jeans and a button up blouse and Carla in a short skirt and matching top. Both wore tennis shoes. 

"Ewww, what's the smell?" Carla said.

Jeremy chuckled and thought of that old southern fried rock song as Nick popped in his current favorite cassette: Shout At The Devil by Motley Crue. He reached back his arm for his girlfriend to beer him as Jeremy drove them to the outskirts of town and their destination. 

"Seriously, guys...what's that horrible stench?" Stacy asked. She handed a beer to Carla, and handed one up to her boyfriend Nick. Jeremy would get his once they reached Josie Howard's place. 

"Just a bag of Butch poop," Nick told her. "We'll drop it at the old bat's front door and set it on fire. Then when she opens the door and stomps on the flames, I'll take a couple pictures! Man, this'll make us Summerdale High legends!" 

Both girls groaned and rolled their windows down. Stacy popped open the tab on her beer and said, "Not a very smart idea if you burn her place down." 

"Yeah, you'll be real legends, alright," Carla agreed. She rolled her eyes and tilted her face to the open window next to her. The slightly cool but humid night air provided some relief from the dog crap stench. She opened her can of Bud and sipped it. 

Stacy giggled. She tapped her Bud against her best friend's beer can. 

"Oh knock it off, you two," Nick said. "This is just Halloween fun. It's just a Summerdale High..."

"...tradition," Carla replied, cutting him off. "Yes we know, you've already told us that. Have you given any thought that she might just want to be left alone? She's just some weird lady who lives in the woods with her cats. Witch or not, she's probably tired of all this Halloween nonsense every year. I'd heard that she shot at kids one year, too." 

Stacy nodded her pretty brunette head. "Same here. Bet they got what was coming to them, the stupid jerks."

Jeremy groaned as the intro of the Crue tape started blasting to the self titled hit. "Whatever, but we won't be stupid and she's probably a lousy shot anyway. Besides I got my piece with me if she does." 

Nick turned to look at his best buddy. His dark eyebrows raised. "Really? You brought the Ruger Twenty two?"

Jeremy nodded. His Dad--a gun nut and seasonal hunter--bought him the target pistol for his sixteenth birthday. But Jeremy grew up with guns, knew how to shoot and had his own hunting rifle and shotgun. The Ruger was sweet, fun to take target shooting plus the ammo was cheap. He'd tucked it on his seat before leaving his house.

Both girls started to protest, to show their displeasure at Jeremy bringing a gun of all things to this Halloween prank. In fact, they wanted Jeremy to stop and take them both back home. This was ridiculous and really a bad idea!

"Relax, both of you, for fuck's sake," Nick said, sighing aloud. "We're not going back and we'll have a blast. You'll see!" He wanted to add that afterwards they'd find a nice secluded spot to park and have more beer, maybe fire up the big fat joint he'd bought from Scotty at school and then they'd see where things progressed after Prank Night. He'd brought a rubber, too. 

"Yeah, what Nick said," Jeremy added and braked the Blazer and started to turn the wheel. They'd been traveling down a darkened two lane road and hardly any other cars passed them. 

"Besides, girls, we have arrived," he said with a rather sinister chuckle. Nick reached over and killed the heavy metal tunes. 

Jeremy drove off the road and down a dirt road choked with trees on either side. Headlights from the Blazer pierced the thick, heavy darkness as Jeremy slowly proceeded down the lane barely wide enough for his truck. A few times scraggly branches scraped the sides of the vehicle like skeletal fingers and both Stacy and Carla rolled up their windows, shivering at the sound. From the deep night shrouded woods came the sursurrus buzzing of insects and God knows what else. 

It all spooked them. They drank more beer. 

"How much farther is it?" Nick asked, his face set with excitement.

"Just a little ways, I believe," Jeremy told him. "Around a bend, but maybe we should pull over before then, get out and walk the rest of the way. What do you think?"

Of course, the girls didn't like that idea at all. 

And the boys suddenly wondered if bringing them had been such a good idea, even if after they both might get laid. Probably but all the complaining was starting to ruin the Prank Night mood. 

"Screw it, just drive right up," Nick said, exhaling his mounting irritation at the backseat complaint committee. "We'll lob the eggs and stuff after we drop off Butch's Halloween contribution. Take a couple quick camera shots and then leave. Sound good?"

Jeremy grinned. "Sounds like a mighty fine plan."

"Just make it quick," Stacy said. "And for God's sake, don't even think about using the gun, Jeremy!" 

Carla nodded. "She's probably harmless, too. All those stories about her and that boogeyman...what's that name again?"

"Jack. Mister Jack," Nick replied. "My old man and his Dad grew up hearing those old ghost stories. Just a bunch of bullshit if you ask me. Stuff they made up to scare kids is all that was."

"Like Freddy Krueger or something?" Stacy asked. She hated horror movies, even if her boyfriend loved them. Freddy was his favorite. He took her to see that movie against her wishes and she had nightmares for weeks.

"No, not really. Freddy's a bad ass!" His second favorite was that Jason dude in his hockey mask, even though that signature look didn't appear until the 3rd movie. His older brother liked that Halloween movie with the Michael guy in the plain white mask, but he didn't think it was all that scary.

"Okay, guys," Jeremy said. "We're about here, so let's pipe down unless we want to warn her ahead of time." He'd suddenly killed the headlights as he slowed the Blazer to a crawl. 

Everyone craned their heads around to see anything after the Blazer's lights went out, and at first, they couldn't see much except blackness surrounding them. Then their eyes adjusted to the inky gloom and thanks to the moon washing ashen pale light down over everything that they could pick out details.

Jeremy brought the truck to a halt and left the engine idling.

Up ahead and to the left stood a little house with a sagging covered front porch. A twisted oak tree sat right off the porch, gnarled branches reaching out close enough to touch the wooden railing. 

All the windows appeared darkened and most likely the old woman was already in bed asleep. Or maybe she'd died or moved away. 

Only one way to find out, Jeremy thought. He pulled up closer and turned to Nick. He nodded and Nick climbed out to walk around to the rear cargo door and opened it. 

Jeremy got out and joined him, and both donned their Halloween masks. Jeremy wore a big skull mask that glowed in the dark and Nick had on one that looked liked a deranged, pale-faced killer with bloodshot eyes and wide toothy grin.

They gathered up their "supplies." Both hummed with the thrill of what they were about to do. Nick clutched the bag of doggy-doo and the camera while Jeremy grabbed the bag of rotten fruit and the eggs. 

In tones, they quickly discussed their plan of action. First the bag of Butch crap at the door, then they'd lob mangos and eggs at the house. That would certainly wake the old bat up, then they'd hopefully snap a few pictures of her stomping out the flaming shit. 

Then they'd get out of there. 

Both boys knew their Halloween exploits would gain them legendary status amongst Summerdale High classmates and when the pictures got developed and passed around, Jeremy and Nick would get talked about by others at the school for years! 

As Nick cautiously approached the porch carrying the bag in one hand, he stopped just a few steps away. He hadn't noticed it before but suddenly he saw several sets of yellowish eyes glinting in the ambient moonlight. Her cats. Most of them came from the deep shadows of the porch but a few sat in the pools of darkness in the weedy grass. Then he saw the carved pumpkin sitting beside the front screen door. It glowed faintly with the guttering candle inside.

Shit, he thought. That's pretty spooky.

A few of the lounging but wary felines grew restless and moved at the approach of this stranger. Nick hesitated on the stoop. Did a few of them meow threateningly at him? 

"What are you waiting for?" Jeremy whispered. "Hurry up!" 

Nick cast a quick and slightly annoyed look (which obviously his best friend couldn't see because of the mask) back at Jeremy before facing the porch, pumpkin, and small army of cats. 

Quickly, he stepped up and placed the bag next to the pumpkin in front of the screen door. As he stepped away, turning to step off the porch, he thought he heard cackling laughter emanating from somewhere inside the house. Or was it out back? He couldn't tell. He reached inside his jeans pocket for the book of matches. He'd light one and go back to drop it on the paper sack. But he hadn't realized just how damned old this place was, looked to be completely wooden and Nick suddenly felt like his girlfriend's warning had some merit. Christ, if they weren't careful they'd set this dump on fire! 

"Come on, man...do it!" 

Jeremy was starting to piss him off. He wasn't the one holding the matches having second thoughts about potentially burning down the old witch's hovel, for fuck's sake! 

Nick started to walk over to him when he heard the noise again. Well, a noise and it definitely was coming from behind the house now. 

"Hey, Jer, did you hear that?" 

Nick couldn't tell from the mask if he had and he reached up to pull his own mask off his face. Jeremy did the same. 

"Why'd you take the mask off? What are you talking ab--?"

Then it came again. That sound, only louder. It was a terrible howling sound that made both boys freeze in their tracks as they eyes swiveled to the murky shadows along the left side of the house. 

Jeremy yanked off his mask. "What the hell...?"

Nick saw it first because he was closest. His eyes widened and dimly, he thought he heard the girls asking them what was going on. Thought he heard one of the passenger doors creak open. He opened his mouth to warn them to stay inside but then whoever had gotten out saw it too and screamed.

Nick felt like loosing a very unmanly shriek himself.

The figure creeping out of the darkness was tall and skinny. Dressed in rags with a big misshapen head. The head of the thing was huge like the pumpkin sitting on Josie's porch, and it's eyes seemed to glow with some inner hellish light. The closer it crept, making that horrible sound like cats or dogs being tortured, the more the moonlight revealed its form. Nick nearly wet himself when he saw what was clutched in one bony hand: a wickedly sharp looking machete.

It lurched forward at him, maybe a dozen feet away. Nick cried out shrilly and before for the Blazer. 

As Nick climbed into the passenger seat, calling out for Jeremy, his friend hesitated for a moment before he turned away to get behind the wheel. The girls were crying, telling him to get them the hell out of there, but in a moment of testosterone fueled bravado, he grabbed the Ruger .22 under his seat.

He'd been startled for sure, maybe even a bit scared at first, but another part of him thought this was Josie herself in disguise. In fact, he'd bet on it. 

Brandishing the pistol, he turned to face the gaunt, grim, pumpkin-headed ghoul bathed in the light of the Halloween moon. Fuck, if that thing didn't really have a Jack O'Lantern for a head. 

"What are you doing, man? Let's get the fuck outta here!" Nick yelled. The girls screamed, crying.

Jeremy began to point the gun at it, at her, at Josie, the Old Witch of Summerdale, but didn't shoot. Was this really her or...Mister Jack? He wasn't really going to shoot her, was he? Or...it? If it was the local boogeyman, would bullets even stop it?

Goosebumps rippled over his skin and he broke out in cold sweat. His finger caressed the trigger. 

Fuck this! 

Then a low growl came at him, but it wasn't that thing. Sometimes else and it leapt at him, big and black, eyes flashing like narrowed yellow pinpoints and Jeremy felt the gun fly from his hand as something struck it. Then he felt pain, sharp agonizing pain as teeth and claws ripped into his hand, his arm, blood spurting...

He screamed himself and flung his arm around as the huge black cat attacked him, biting and clawing, even its back claws raking across his belly, slicing through his shirt. Finally it let go and he fell back, scrabbling for the door. He tugged it open and got inside. His bloodied hand shook as he fumbled for the gear shift. Outside the truck, there came howls and snarls and he didn't dare look at it...

"Just go, man, go!" Nick begged him.

Finally his blood slippery hands got the truck in gear and tromped on the gas. He might've scraped the Blazer against some trees or bushes but he didn't give a flying fuck. He just wanted to get gone from here.

As they quickly departed, Nick looked back once more. He never said anything to either his best friend or his girl. In fact, neither of them talked about that night. But as rounded the bend, he thought his saw something else. 

Of course it could've been his eyes playing games with him, being so frightened, or a trick of the moonlight or something.

But before the truck made the turn and he lost sight of the house, and the ominous figure with the pumpkin head, Nick thought he saw something else. Another figure behind it. Tall. Shadowy. With eyes that glowed lambently. 

Naw, that couldn't have been anything more than his frenzied, terrified imagination, right?

After all, it was just Halloween. 



Saturday, April 3, 2021

The Ravening

 After lying dormant for a million years, something insidious is brought to shore by two experienced divers. 

As Hurricane Annabelle churns towards coastal Southwest Florida, Bella Vista Island is cut off from the mainland after a boat accident damages the island's only bridge.

An alien organism infects both guests and staff at the beach resort, turning them into ravenous and bloodthirsty killers. Aided by two resort managers, a mystery author with a unique gift, and a Spec Ops soldier, the enigmatic and mysterious Peter Smith is tasked with destroying the organism before it spreads further.

The Ravening threatens every living thing with apocalyptic carnage. Are they enough to prevent it from being unleashed on the rest of the world?




As with my other ebooks, you can find my latest full-length scifi horror novel for Kindle here. And all my ebooks and trade paperbacks at bn.com here. Also, for book bloggers and reviewers, I have digital ARCs available, so hit me up!

Thanks as always for your support. It means a lot! 

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Reign of the Winter King

In the past I've written various horror stories centered around or themed from certain holidays like Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving and of course, Halloween. Even my erotic horror novella, Roseblood, was somewhat inspired by Valentine's Day. 

Recently during this colder than normal Florida winter, we had frost and some folks having to scrape off windshields early in the morning. We can get tiny snow flakes but more northern Florida and if the weather conditions are right for it. We rarely get enough to make a small snowman. It'd be easier going to the beach to build a sandman version. 

So the wheels were spinning one frosty morning (see what I did there?) and the story below came to be. Originally, I'd imagined two brothers for this tale, but opted for sisters instead because I've found myself enjoying writing about female characters more. 

Also, after I'd written this, it became somewhat obvious that I'd been channeling my inner John Urbancik. It seemed like something he'd write, and if you haven't checked out his work yet, I'd highly recommend you unfuck that pronto. He's one of the most talented writers of dark fantasy and horror fiction around. 






Reign of the Winter King

Copyright 2021


Once upon a time there were two sisters, each a year apart, who were enjoying the first big snowfall of the year. It had been a chilly winter and while it had been a cold Christmas the week before, it hadn't been a white one. 

Then a week after the Yuletide holiday, the snow came and where they lived, it had been the first significant snow storm in a decade. They'd been too little to remember when the snow had fallen the last time.

Excited by the prospect of donning heavy coats and gloves and boots, they dashed out into the mid morning backyard to check it out and marvel at the blanket of near blinding white that had covered the ground around the house and surrounding woods. It was breathtaking! They scooped up handfuls of snow and tossed them at each other and took turns laying in it to make snow angels.

Suddenly, the older sister, Kristine, had an idea. "Hey, lets make a snowman!"

Her younger sister clapped her snow-flecked gloved hands in delight. "Yeah, that would be awesome!"

So as they hunkered down and began to gathered up huge handfuls of snow and formed the big round base of the snowman's bottom half, Kristine had another idea.

She didn't want to make the traditional and common snowman that most kids did. Their snowman would be much better than that. He'd be grand, noble...and he would be the King of the Snowmen. 

He'll be the...Winter King! Kristine thought and smiled. She shared that with her sister.

"Whoa, sis...that's freaking perfect!" Kristine was always reading books and had the more imaginative creative mind. But her sister said she'd be right back, had to go get something from her room, and went inside their house.

Minutes later, as Kristine continued working on the snowman, the Winter King, her sister came back holding a silver toy crown. It was made of plastic but embedded with red rubies and jade gemstones, all fake of course, and while it had faded a little bit, it still looked useable. Her little sister had found it in the woods behind her house a few years ago and thought it looked cool. Kristine had suggested it probably belonged to some neighborhood kids who sometimes played in the woods.

"Remember this thing? Bet it belongs to him now," she proclaimed as she held it up. "The crown of the Winter King!"

Kristine laughed and her sister got down on her knees as they continued putting together their snowman. It took a while, longer than they figured and an hour later, the Winter King was brought back to life. He had two twisted arms from a couple medium sized but thick fallen tree branches and they used small stones for his eyes and another chunk of rock for his nose. His mouth was made from a small twig with a slight curve like a wicked grin. 

Then Kristine let her sister place the crown upon his head. They clapped and cheered aloud. 

"All hail the Winter King! Long may he reign!" Kristine cried out in a deep voice. 

Her sister echoed the declaration.

Suddenly, a deeper voice called out. "What's the deal with the snowman? And that thing on his head doesn't belong to you, either."

Both sisters swiveled their heads around toward the snowy woods to see three teenage boys emerge. Dressed like the girls for the cold weather, they wore smirks and sneers of derision across their reddened pale faces. Their "leader" stood in front and gestured again at the Winter King.

"That crown is mine. Lost it in the woods a while back. So...give it back."

They knew the boys as being a group of slightly older boys, usually up to no good both at school and home. They had a bad rep around the neighborhood as bullies but had pretty much left the sisters alone. 

Until today. The leader moved forward and stepped over to grab the crown off the Winter King's head. But Kristine intercepted him and prevented him from touching it by blocking his path with her tall, willowy body. 

"No, you don't," she said. 

The leader frowned and his cronies chuckled darkly. Then he shoved her aside and snatched the crown. Cristine fell sideways, thrusting one arm out in reflex, and one of the tree branch arms whacked her face, splitting open her bottom lip. She collided with the Winter King and he toppled over and she fell atop him.

Her sister yelled and bent over to scoop up snow, compacting it into hard balls and hurled it at the laughing boys. She hit them a few times as they retreated back into the woods. Then she helped her sister to her feet. Her sister's lip bled down her chin.

"You okay, sis?"

Kristine wiped at her bloody lip and bit back the sobs of frustration and embarrassment. Usually it was she who defended her younger sister not the other way around. But she'd been grateful. She told her she was fine, but they needed to fix the snowman first.

They hurriedly put the Winter King back together, slightly disappointed and dispirited because he no longer wore his crown. Some of Kristine's blood had stained his body but they agreed it seemed fitting somehow. Then they both had needed to go back inside to warm up and drink hot tea or cocoa. 

The weather worsened and both sisters hadn't ventured back outside that day. They'd not forgotten about the Winter King and checked on him a few times by looking out a window. They were pleased to see the bullies hadn't returned to destroy him. However, they might do that once night fell. Sadly, he didn't look quite so noble without his silver crown of jewels even if those were fake plastic ones.

The next morning, more snow had came overnight and both sisters decided they'd wait a while before going outside. They'd told their parents about the scuffle with the bullies and their Dad wanted to report them to the police, but Kristine asked him to let it go. 

Their father told them over his morning coffee and newspaper that they must've had a change of heart after getting what had been coming to them. He chuckled and sipped from his mug.

"What do you mean, Dad?" Kristine asked curiously. Her sister asked him the same thing.

He shrugged and pointed with his mug. "Go see for yourselves. Your snow king got his crown back. And it wasn't me, I swear."

They both went to the back window overlooking the snowy yard behind the house and sure enough, the Winter King sat proudly wearing his rightful silver crown. His twig mouth seemed to grin even wider. Wickedly, almost.

Both sisters had no idea why the three ruffians would do that, but they swore it had to be their father. He probably visited their parents and got the toy crown back after explaining what had transpired. They only hoped his intervening wouldn't result in further retaliation. 

Nothing untoward occured but curiously, once they returned to school after the holiday break, Kristine had found out something very interesting. Very interesting, indeed.

One of her classmates and friends was telling her about how she'd heard the trio of wannabe thugs had been hanging out in the woods last week when they'd been attacked. They'd suffered from cuts and bruises, but not so bad that they needed to go to the clinic. At least not that they'd admitted to anyway.

The bizarre thing about it, her friend told her, was that they claimed it had been a big snow monster. 

Kristine did her best to hide the look of shock and surprise. She'd nearly gasped. Her friend noticed something and asked if she was okay.

"I'm fine," she replied and couldn't wait to tell her younger sister. But she could barely suppress her own wicked grin. 

Winter eventually moved into early spring and because of that the Winter King did melt away. Both sisters had been a little sad to see him go, but they saved the silver crown. 

After all, winter would come back. And so would its King.




Saturday, October 17, 2020

Why I Love Halloween...

 ...the John Carpenter classic and iconic 1978 horror film. I do love the autumnal holiday (I mean, duh, I write horror and All Hallows Eve is my Xmas), but for my money and since I was in my early 20s, the simply yet perfectly made slasher flick has been my all time favorite horror movie. 

Horror has been a big part of my life since then, but I wasn't always a horror fan. At least with books, anyway. I'd written about this to a degree in previous blog posts, but that darkly magical attraction/addiction began when I was 18, in 1985-86, when I bought my first Stephen King novel PET SEMATARY and devoured it (followed by PHANTOMS by Dean Koontz or Dean R. Koontz as he went by back then, when he had the balding pate and mustache). I'd found my genre to read and write and was hooked for life. 


As a kid growing up in Southwestern coastal Florida, I loved the Saturday morning Creature Feature show on Channel 44 WTOG hosted by the legendary Dr. Paul Bearer, which showed many old classic horror films, from the early black & whites to those in garish Technicolor. Looking back now, it seemed I was destined to discover my beloved spooky-scary genre eventually.

But my love for the Halloween (and ultimately, the entire film franchise) began, ironically, right around when Halloween 4 came out. I'd seen that one in the theater along with Halloween 5 when it came out. But while I'd been aware of the first film, I'd totally became enraptured with it on Halloween night 1987. I was dating my first serious girlfriend back then. We'd visited with her aunt and helped put up cheap Halloween decorations and generally just goofing around trying to spook out one another. Then she and I came back to my parents' house and relaxed in the living room watching the original Halloween movie. I loved it and have seen it dozens of times since then. I'd also become complete fan of John Carpenter's oeuvre of horror. From his scifi horror remake THE THING to THE FOG and PRINCE OF DARKNESS, along with his other films, there's no better creator of iconic 80s horror cinema.



However, it all started with that first movie. Arguably, the reigning king of what became known as the slasher film. Granted, and rightly so, many would claim the Hitchcock's classic PSYCHO was the first true slasher film, but I contend that it really began in the late 70s and exploded in the 1980s. And Halloween was and is the best and most original, enduring for decades and has even seen a resurgence with the pseudo-rebooted franchise (and admittedly, just a bit annoying to completely discount everything as canon after the first movie, but I understand why the new film producers/writers/directors did that. I still love the franchise living on and drawing in newer younger fans). 

The decade of decadence saw a glut of slasher flicks from the Friday the 13th series to nightmarish Freddy Krueger with his finger blade glove, the psycho-doll Chucky, among others. Cannibalistic inbred rednecks with revving chainsaws and irradiated kill-crazy bloodthirsty mutants, oh my!



No other horror film villain compares to the silent and unstoppable menace of The Shape aka Michael Myers. In my opinion. What started out as a low budget film with the title THE BABYSITTER MURDERS, once the film producer suggested changing it to HALLOWEEN (setting it of course on that night), a movie horror icon was born. 

So why do I believe the original Halloween film & Michael Myers is the best ever? Firstly, the fact that the movie takes place on All Hallows Eve is solely reason enough. It's the perfect setting for a horror movie. The concept of Michael Myers, the rather common even bland name, which soon would become synonymous with teenage 80s horror. The plain mask, courtesy of Capt Kirk, with the bleached-out white rubber face, was pure brilliance if necessary for a low budget film. (If you haven't, Google how the film was made or catch the numerous YouTube videos or documentaries. Much of what was done, particularly the opening scene was groundbreaking for its time). And if you look into the highly collectible (and expensive) paperback novelization by Curtis Richards, published shortly after the film was released, you'll find a lot of added history and more of a supernatural explanation to why the child Michael Myers became the knife-wielding killer who murdered his older sister on Halloween night. The horror website Bloody Disgusting published a cool, in depth article on this a few years ago:

https://bloody-disgusting.com/books/3529811/revisiting-novelization-john-carpenters-halloween-fascinating-michael-myers-origin-story/

However, it wasn't until the inevitable sequel, HALLOWEEN II, that the idea of making the Final Girl, Laurie Strode, Michael's sister and the reason for his obsessively murderous intent, that things became very intriguing. This was even taken a step further in 4 and 5 with Laurie's daughter (and Michael's niece), Jamie, becoming The Shape's newest target. In 4, it was briefly explained that Strode died in a supposed car accident, leaving young Jamie motherless (this was written into the script since Jamie Lee Curtis didn't want to do another sequel). The character's name was an homage of sorts to the actress. Of course many fans wanted Ms Strode back and got their wish eventually in HALLOWEEN H20 and to a lesser degree, HALLOWEEN RESURRECTION (my least favorite franchise film). Even HALLOWEEN 6 THE CURSE OF MICHAEL MYERS had its moments, mostly bringing back Tommy Doyle (played by a young Paul Rudd) and a deadly Celtic cult tied to Myers, which interestingly ties loosely into the original film's novelization. 





I'll be honest with you. And I didn't always feel this way, but the older I've gotten and the numerous times I've watched these films, the more I think they could've just avoided the somewhat implausible familial connection as an explanation for his relentless bloodlust. Why as such an uber Halloween fan do I say this? Because in 1963, when 6 years old Myers inexplicably kills his teenage sister in her room on Halloween night, his parents did...what exactly? In their grief and loss, decide to have another child right away? Think about it. Then in 1978, 15 years later when Halloween the movie begins and we're introduced to Laurie, the slightly shy and bookish high school student. The timing is a little off, if I'm being honest. Or did Michael's parents divorce after the horrible tragedy in '63, one or both remarry and either another child is conceived soon or they gain a very young stepdaughter? It's just one of those loose ends that's never really explained after the sister angle reveal in the sequel. Personally, they could've just skipped the sister connection altogether and kept Laurie as the "one who got away" or survived Michael's night of terror, the original Final Girl, if you will...and thus, spurring his undying bloodlust. 

With 2018's self-titled reboot of sorts, given the thumbs up from Carpenter as creative consultant, we see everything after the first film discarded, including the sister connection. HALLOWEEN KILLS, delayed til October 2021 due to the pandemic, and the final film, HALLOWEEN ENDS, will be anxiously awaited by us die-hard fans, for sure. I'd be remiss in not mentioning the Rob Zombie remake of the first two films. As a fan of both his music and films, I enjoyed his revisionist take and more psychological approach, though brutally violent...which given it was an RZ flick was to be expected. And seeing a much older Danielle Harris, who played Jamie in 4 and 5, portraying Annie, was a nice touch. However the followup wasn't as good, even with the always amazing Malcolm McDowell playing Dr Sam Loomis. 


Which leads me to my last argument or point concerning why HALLOWEEN rocks, has stood the test of time as one of horror's greatest most iconic movies, and has been my personal alltime favorite: Sam Loomis.

 Dr Loomis with his indefatigable and dogged pursuit of his psychopathic young patient of 15 years, the ever present tan trench coat (and his legally registered handgun), makes the perfect addition to this classic slasher horror triumvirate. While he's sorely missed in the latest installment (he'd be much too old anyway, let alone still living), Loomis was the penultimate boy (or man, in this case) who cried wolf. No one listened to him until it was too late. And he has some of the best dialogue or memorable lines in horror film history, most notably his conversation with Sheriff Brackett while they search the Myers' house. Dr Loomis tells the sheriff, "He had the blackest eyes...the Devil's eyes." That line gives me chills almost every single time. 

Speaking of goosebumps, has their ever been a more recognizable and chillingly brilliant theme music than what John Carpenter composed himself for his movie all those years ago? I don't think so. 

I'd also be remiss in not mentioning the influence this film series has had on horror and horror films. For example, when it seemed like horror in general had been in a rut during the mid 90s, along came a new slasher film called SCREAM from Wes Craven. Part homage, part darkly funny but certainly bloody, SCREAM elevated what a good slasher flick could really be. It exploded, revitalized public interest in horror and slashers, spawned several sequels and is rumored to return in the near future with a new feature film installment. In the original film, during the infamous party sequence, a tv can be seen playing HALLOWEEN, the director's nod to this groundbreaking low budget slasher film.

So that's it, folks. There's been a wealth of HALLOWEEN gruesome goodness over the years to keep us die-hard fans happy, from collectible merchandise, clothing (my favorite sites for those are Fright Rags, Terror Threads and Gutter Garb...quality product with great customer service!), and several books such as anthology fan fiction to the sometimes pricey out of print novelizations and more! Long live HALLOWEEN...

P.S. for those interested, I wrote a short piece of HALLOWEEN fan fiction called "Halloween: The Beginning" and posted it on my blog many years ago. You can find it here:

http://horrorgasms.blogspot.com/2015/10/halloween-beginning.html?m=1

Friday, August 21, 2020

2020 and Beyond!

Needless to say, in most respects, this year has sucked. We all know why, and while I hope this pandemic that has affected all of us in one way or another begins to lessen its spread, with schools reopening (fuck what the supposed experts think...this is the worst idea largely pushed forward by pure political BS, but I digress...), Covid-19 is unfortunately going to be around for the foreseeable future and beyond. Vaccines will take a while to be approved after lots of testing and then distributing, well, you get it. 

I've been thinking about the foreseeable future and beyond with my professional writing. My latest self published release (see my blog's previous post for details), Night of the Pumpkin God, had been delayed from its early 2020 release to just last month (mainly due to issues related to the pandemic and everyone's crazy hectic schedule, myself included). Normally, I'm working on a first draft of a new book, and sometimes editing/revising another book. I've got several things planned and thought I'd list them here for anyone interested. Most will be self published horror books (ebook and trade paperback), but one will hopefully be published with an indie horror publisher.

So here goes...

The Ravening -- the novel mentioned above that I'd love to see published by one of the horror genre's many fantastic independent publishers. It's a scifi horror novel set on the Florida gulf coast at an island beach resort. A deadly organism of alien origin surfaces and is inadvertently brought ashore, turning ordinary, everyday people into ravenous killers. A hurricane is bearing down on the area and a handful of people have a slim chance of thwarting it from spreading. Final draft completed. Full novel length.

Bloodletting -- the sequel to my horror novella Roseblood. Rose Valentine runs The Thorny Rose, an semi-upscale stripclub just outside of the rural North Central Florida town of Tuckton. Rose runs a tight ship and is very protective of her girls and staff. And the townspeople leave her alone. Mason Kreel grew up in Tuckton, and returns home after his ailing mother passed away. Both Rose and Mason harbor dark secrets, but they converge one night when a sadistic psycho sexual killer arrives in town. First draft completed. Short novel length. 

No Laughing Matter -- a short story collection, bringing together my first two self published ebook shorts, Clowning Around and The Last Chord, along with 4 new stories involving a supernatural being known as Tricksy the Clown (or Mister Tricks) and his other sinister identity, Mister Black. The longest story explains this demonic entity's origin and concludes with a final climactic story...or does it? First draft completed. 

Island of Devils -- this is currently a WIP. Sequel or more of a followup to The Ravening because while it's a totally different story, it involves several characters from the aforementioned. The special ops group known as UMBRA is being shut down after their director suddenly dies. Intel has reached them that may provide them valuable clues as to where The Collective (a clandestine organization made up of alien/human hybrids that has infiltrated human society with nefarious intent) has made their base of operations. Dane Frost, former Navy Seal and interim director at UMBRA, goes rogue with a ragtag team made up of operators and former Collective members to find this secret base. And destroy the hideous mastermind known as The One. But can they reach the mysterious island off the coast of Northeastern South American in time? Do they even have a chance of stopping the horrors running amok on what some call Isla de Los Demonios? Full length novel planned.

Bloodlust -- the third and final book in what I'll call the Roseblood trilogy. In the Afterword of the novella, I share how Roseblood was originally a short story called "Roseblood," and was my first published horror story. Upon completing the first draft of Bloodletting, I kept thinking about a potential third story, novella or short novel, and soon came up with a rough idea and jotted down notes. Mason Kreel will play a part, along with more of the shadowy group he works for known as The Organization. Someone affiliated with them discovers who Rose might be, after what transpired in the previous book, and wants to not just find her, but to take her against her will. And there will lots of bloodshed and death! Novella or short novel planned.

Well, that's what I've got on tap to keep me busy for the duration of 2020, into 2021 and beyond. 

You can find my ebooks and trade paperbacks at bn.com here, and my ebooks on Amazon here. I always appreciate the support and honest reviews. Also, I welcome requests from horror book bloggers and reviewers for digital review copies, so hit me up via social media or my author email flahorrorwriter67@gmail.com.