A Note on Haunt Me to Sleep and MHz

If you’ve kept up with this blog, you know the troubles I’ve had with Haunt Me to Sleep. A lot of them are unexpected personal delays, as I’m the only one working on it, such as having to recover from getting sick and drastic schedule changes with work and family. So, it probably will come as no surprise that I’m resetting the publication date until next year. There’s no set date or month, it will just come out when it’s out. The good news is, you can request a review copy ahead of time by messaging me on Goodreads, if you want one. They’re free, as long as you give it a rating or review in return, and I’ll email it to you before it’s published.

It was largely wishful thinking believing it would come out this year, but I’d rather it come out late than bad, and I need time to clean up the writing, so that it can be at its absolute best quality. A late book is only late until it’s out, but a bad book is bad forever. (I’m pretty sure that’s a paraphrase of a real quote, but I forget who by.)

MHz was the last poetry book of this year, but it only has a Kindle version for the moment. I’m working on the paperback and ePub version now, so that it’ll be more widely available. I also intended for those to come out much sooner, but sometimes things happen that get in the way, and I honestly had forgotten about it for a time. You can get the Kindle version on Amazon if you want, it’s not expensive. Just wanted everyone to know about these things! 🙂

Thoughts on the Goodreads Choice Awards

I’ve been on Goodreads for almost four years now, and the design of their book awards ceremony has consistently been a disappointment. It’s not an issue with the books themselves. Granted, there seem to be a lot of the same authors, but what’s popular is popular. That’s beside the fact. My issue is with the lack of variety represented. Several major genres are completely missing, or melded into categories that they either have no chance of winning in or do not belong in.

Currently, there exists two young adult (YA) genre groups – fantasy-sci-fi and realistic fiction. YA horror gets squashed into fantasy, even though it does not belong there, and there is no mystery option unless one happens to make its way into realistic fiction. In other words, young adult horror has little chance of winning in its category, because it will be pushed out by the massive amount of fantasy books published each year, and mystery is virtually nonexistent.

There are no defined categories for LGBT fiction by itself, Christian fiction, indie books, or erotica. These are popular, well-read genres, and I believe it’s unacceptable to hold an all-genre awards ceremony and disregard these, especially given the fact that people have been petitioning for over two years to get LGBT fiction on the list.

What I do like about the Goodreads Choice Awards is their variety in nonfiction. They have pretty much all of the nonfiction genres covered, from biography to science to history and beyond, but this just enhances the fact that their fiction selection is so sparse. Where are these major genres, and what would it hurt to include them? Enough books are published a year in these missing categories to have plenty of contenders, so what is the issue here?

Taking Q&A on Goodreads

Just very briefly. I meant to post this ages and ages ago, but I’m taking open questions on my Goodreads author page now. They do not have to be related to books or writing, they can be literally anything… well, almost literally anything. I’m sure there’s a few I would be tempted to report but probably still answer. Ask something ridiculous if you want.
Anyway, if you’re on there, feel free to send me one, or more if you want. I love getting these.

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🎃Harvest of Horror 2019🎃

The month of Halloween, the only socially acceptable time to be creepy, in both demeanor and your cerebral interests. And yes, I said month. As if Halloween lasted only a day, are you kidding? Not in this household.
Since I felt that last Harvest of Horror was churned out rushed and somewhat lackluster, I’ve planned this one way ahead of time. I’m always busy in October for whatever reason, usually because I have something being submitted for publishing around this time, so I’m actually writing my Halloween posts from back in May and June and touching them up from the present in October. Confused? So am I, by this point.

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Anyway, all this means is there is no particular schedule like there was last Halloween. There will be something horror-related every day. I thought I’d be a bit different this year and branch out into other things besides books and writing, so there’s to be a miniseries on the best and worst (in my opinion) horror video games, some artwork for Inktober on DeviantArt, some reviews and poems scattered throughout as usual, amongst other uncanny novelties.

The series on video games I think you’ll find especially interesting, since despite the cult following many of them have gotten, not many people discuss them in the same vein they would a book or film review. If you’re into games for the story aspect, or don’t know much about them and want to, you might like these. My recent trend of talking about video games probably won’t spill into the rest of the year, though, as I’ll likely be going back to a focus on writing and books when I can, but I feel like to be a writer-reader, it’s best to understand every medium.

I had considered doing a mini-series on the Fear Street saga by R.L. Stine, but I didn’t realize the later books were out of print, and quite expensive if you aren’t lucky enough to happen across them in a thrift shop. I certainly was not up to hunting them all down. I might talk about Fear Street and Goosebumps a bit, but no promises.
Anyway, enjoy the special, and have a horror-ific October!

Haunt Me to Sleep Preview!

“Float far out into the Pacific. Follow its surface in any direction you want, whenever the anxiety gets to be overwhelming, whenever there is no treatment left for the black clot that forms a body-wide cancer. Adrift in the crystalline sea, you will come upon a cavern, whether you intend to or not.”

One of the prose pieces from the upcoming horror-dark fantasy collection Haunt Me to Sleep, “Grotto Siren”, was published in Radium Piano Band. You can read it for free at the link below. Haunt Me to Sleep is a mix of horror “atmospheres”, ranging from dark humor, to fairytale, to existential horror, to grotesque. It was difficult to place a specific sub-genre to its name.
I had originally intended for this book to come out around October 7th, but due to the massive rush on horror during that time, I’ve decided to move it closer to Halloween itself, when, believe it or not, fewer horror books are published. The final date for all versions, at least, will be between October 21st and November 9th, the ePub version coming out slightly later than the paperback and Kindle ones.

Radium Piano Band – Issue #17

Thoughts on the Western Silent Hills

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This will be a lot briefer than yesterday’s post on the series, as to tell you the truth, I just don’t have as many personal feelings about the American and European Silent Hill series. Are they as good as the originals? Well… yes, and no. They’re all fun, and for the most part pretty, but if I had to complain about anything, they don’t take nearly enough inspiration from their parent series. The Western Silent Hills seem significantly more “video game-ish”, if that makes sense. The only one that is somewhat immersive is Shattered Memories, and ironically, it’s probably the biggest departure from the norm. Years later, people are still complaining about how these games are “too different” from the quartet, and I don’t think that’s fair. Considering how much the publisher loved to abuse this series, we’re really lucky that we got these at all. They’re not perfect, but they aren’t terrible, either. They’re like reading a well-written, plausible fanfiction.

Thoughts on Silent Hill 0rigins
If you’re in these for the literarary aspect, a large part of 0rigins is based off of Shakespeare plays, which is incredibly cool. This was supposed to be a prequel to the first one, but um… it doesn’t quite jibe, story-wise. Several aspects don’t quite make sense, and it’s interesting to watch someone try to tie it and the first one together, because they always get confused before they manage to. I love the design of this game (and the fact that the protagonist can, for whatever reason, carry twenty portable televisions in his pocket – which, true story, he can beat the god of death up with), and the shout-outs to its predecessors. However, despite the creators obviously being bibliophiles, it egregiously lacks the “interactive novel” kind of feeling that’s important to the series.
For some reason, physical copies of this game tend to be pretty expensive, or at least they were. So, probably better to research it in detail to make sure you’d want to buy it first, if the series interests you.

Thoughts on Silent Hill: Shattered Memories
Shattered Memories is incredible. I don’t care who says otherwise, it’s good. SH:SM reminds me so much of those “choose-your-own-adventure” books that were popular in like the 90s and early 00s, but surprisingly emotionally powerful. Unlike well, the entire rest of the series, SH:SM has no action element, it’s namely exploration and story. Is that for the better? In this case, probably. The action parts in 0rigins were cartoonish and difficult, so maybe it’s better that they left them out. I keep comparing them to novels, but this one seriously is novel-like, about the closest you could get and still keep a fully interactive element intact.

Thoughts on Homecoming and Downpour
I feel like these two get a bad rap, and are generally considered the two worst of the series. Homecoming is objectively bad, and spoiler alert, made my Harvest of Horror list for the worst horror games, but I can see where someone would love it, too. The characters are interesting enough, and oh man, the horror designs are beautiful. The main thing I would say about Homecoming is that it under-utilizes or overdoes everything – there is no good medium anywhere in it, which is tragic, because if the developers had been given more time to perfect it, it could’ve been so awesome with what it has to work with. It’s very similar, thematically, to the Silent Hill film, and I don’t think that was a bad decision in itself, because that movie’s absolutely gorgeous.

Downpour is actually good to me. I love Downpour. It suffers from, again, the developers not being given nearly enough time to clean it up. If they just could’ve touched it up, Downpour would have been one of the best, but as it is, it’s still far from the worst. It returns to similar literary influences – Hansel & Gretel, classic American horror novels, and so on. I wouldn’t call it scary, for sure, but I think it’s a worthwhile experience. Something of a shame that nothing has come of the series since, though.

Thoughts on the Silent Hill Quartet

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The first four entries in the Silent Hill series, which I usually call the “quartet” for convenience, were developed from 1999 to 2004 by Team Silent, a bunch of incredibly talented literature and American horror movie fanatics who were essentially given free reign to develop a horror series for the PlayStation. I think the publisher and everyone else expected what they made to be a rip-off of Resident Evil, but fortunately for us all, they ended up making this fantastically beautiful quartet of lore-rich, tragic and terrifying games. Unfortunately, Team Silent was split up by Konami shortly after the fourth one came out – the first of many extremely questionable choices made by the publisher. I won’t get into that, you can probably look that up if you want to see the whole laundry list. It’s a shame to think what could have been had the team had been allowed to continue their own series, but we’ll always have the quartet.

The series was shipped off to several different developers afterwards. Whether this was for better or for worse is highly subjective, as every single Silent Hill entry, including even the books and movies, has an atmosphere that is entirely unique to that piece. The first one, for example, feels almost nothing like the second one, but they do have in common that surreal, interactive-novel vibe that is the series’ signature. Silent Hill is, in my opinion, an underappreciated influence on the psychological horror as a whole.

I owe this series my will to start writing. I mean, I’ve always wanted to write, but the Silent Hill quartet invigorated me to actually go through with it. I recommend the living heck out of it for writers and would-be writers.
Hold on a minute. You’re like, Emm, I don’t even like video games. That’s fine, I understand that. I’m not the biggest expert on them myself, but if you want to go into horror, especially ambient or psychological horror, you owe it to yourself to at least research it. The price on actual copies tends to go up and down, seemingly at random, but like I said yesterday, you can always use YouTube or the Wiki. (Or a reproduction game. Not as good as the real thing, but we take what we can get, yeah?)

Anyway, I’m probably never going to do a full-out review of any of these, as it would take video equipment I don’t have and likely weeks of effort to do them justice in a review. These are just some loose thoughts I had on each entry. Tomorrow I’ll cover the Western-made ones, which are certainly their own animal. If you’ve played any of these, let me know what you think!

Thoughts On the First Silent Hill
It will never cease to surprise me that this series ever became mainstream in America. There’s so much occultism, and even though the first Silent Hill has a far less realistic tone than the later ones, still has some pretty frank depictions of religious abuse. Not to mention, the main antagonistic force who underlines the entire series is a demonic god of blood and suffering. That’s damn dark for a major video game made in the 90s. I wouldn’t call the series as a whole extremely “violent”. It can be violent, if you choose, which gives it an ongoing theme of moral choice, but as a default, it’s not.
The first Silent Hill is admittedly, an acquired taste. It’s more action-based than exploration, and therefore slightly less to my personal preferences, and the story can be confusing. The protagonist, Harry Mason, can be a bit of a tactless doofus, too. (I made a comic about that, in fact.) The monster and character designs are really good, especially for the time, but I find myself coming back to it the least. You could say its predecessors did all of the horror tropes it introduced better – distortion of reality, human and inhuman evil, so on. Fun fact, that the Gillespie family, the main (human) villains, are based off of Carrie and her mother from Stephen King’s Carrie.
Continue reading “Thoughts on the Silent Hill Quartet”

The Silence of the Hills – Pre-Halloween Special

Happy Pre-Harvest of Horror! Not that that’s going to become a thing. We are rolling into Halloween, which I was going to save this for, but decided to post it a bit early, just because I wanted to. And also, my Halloween schedule is clogged, and I won’t have time to post it then.
Silent Hill is a psychological horror franchise that began in the medium of video games with Silent Hill for the PlayStation in 1999, which was rather unorthodox for its genre and methods of storytelling at the time. It has since branched out to two feature films, multiple albums worth of music and a smattering of novels, comics and artworks. Silent Hill is acknowledged as one of the forerunners of the survival horror genre, along with its different-yet-alike sister series, Resident Evil and Clock Tower.

Though it continues to have an active fanbase, and recently was cited as one of the inspirations behind the popular Netflix show, Stranger Things, sadly, as of writing this, Silent Hill itself is no longer being developed. After several… dubious decisions made by the publisher, Konami, the latest entry in the series was canceled and it was shelved indefinitely for future projects.

While the series itself is largely based on literature, it’s had its own unique, powerful effect on the psychological horror genre as a whole. Silent Hill was one of the first video game series to break into the mainstream that used the supposed “limitations” of the medium to tell realistically dark, atmospheric and emotionally complex horror stories, the likes of which had never really been seen that often in video games beforehand, outside of maybe certain RPGs, making Silent Hill more like a fully interactive novel or art piece.

If you’ve been following my little blog for awhile, you’ll know how much I love, love, love this series, even the parts that are flawed. It’s the perfect video game for a bibliophile, as well. This series has introduced me to not only one of my favourite authors, but a multitude of excellent stand-alone novels that I likely wouldn’t have had an interest in or even heard of otherwise. More importantly, it’s one of the key factors that inspired me to become a writer.
For this not quite Halloween special, I’ll be doing a rundown of almost every piece of the series – the original quartet, the Western video games, the books, the movies – pretty much the whole shebang. Mostly, I wanted to share what I love about it, but you might discover something awesome from this, too.

Obviously, I recommend the Silent Hill video games, even if you don’t care for video games. Like, I mean this. If you like this kind of horror at all, you’re doing yourself a grand disfavor by avoiding them because of them being games. If you don’t like the thought of hunting them down solely on my recommendation, there’s always the Wiki and YouTube to get some of the experience. None of the series is “rare”, per se, but some pieces can be difficult to track down physical copies of, namely Origins, the first one, and for some reason, the graphic novels, but we’ll get to that, and why those might be somewhat more rare. Here is the upcoming schedule for what I’ll be talking about or reviewing! It’s in no particular order, just like the plot!

It should be noted that I won’t be covering either Book of Memories, the Play Novel, that HD Collection that supposedly sucked, or the Japanese novels, because I have no experience with any of them, and therefore nothing to talk about.

Sept. 23 – Thoughts on the Silent Hill Quartet
Sept. 24 – Thoughts on the Western Silent Hills
Sept. 25 – The Books Behind the Series
Sept. 26 – Thoughts on the Films
(*Edit* – The comics reviews have been moved to a later date, due to time.)
Sept. 28 – The Silent Hill Comics, Pt. 1 (Reviews Revisited)
Sept. 29 – The Silent Hill Comics, Pt. 2 (Reviews Revisited)

What Makes a Novel Scary?

This question is almost impossible to answer, but I believe it boils down to atmosphere and the author’s personal goal. Horror is all-around a difficult genre to work with, because horror is just so subjective, but books, as I’ve found, are one of the harder mediums to make scary. Movies, I think, would actually be somewhat harder because they require a large, perfectly functioning team effort, but as far as something you would create by yourself, it’s books and stories. I love horror for its creative stories, but personally have only been not just unnerved, but genuinely scared by a very, very tiny handful of books. This makes me either an amazing or a terrible horror writer, because nothing I create scares me, either. Granted, once you’ve spent hours tweaking the details of a phantom, it kind of loses every ounce of its fear factor, but working on this latest book, I have learned a lot about what horror takes.

What kind of “scary” you’re going for can be changed instantly depending on how your concept and execution match up. If the concept is terrifying, but the execution is over-the-top and silly, a thrilling, serious horror could turn into an unintentional comedy. The overlap between humor and horror is really difficult to prevent, though I’ve found most good horror books have a bit of self-awareness about it when it happens.

When you are creating horror, consider what scares you, and what you want others to feel from your book. Dread? Panic? Fear? Sorrow, even? Or would you rather it be a dark comedy? Horror relies heavily on anticipation. The general feeling, and how this anticipation will be built up is the most important thing to know, before even deciding if it fits into any sub-genres. Genre labels are not actually that important, in the long run. Many of the greatest books I’ve ever read, or ones that are celebrated by the public, do not clearly fit into any singular genre. Some do, some don’t. It’s good to know, but it doesn’t matter nearly as much as succeeding at whatever atmosphere you want to convey. Continue reading “What Makes a Novel Scary?”

Halloween on the Horizon

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Halloween, limited to a single day? I don’t think so. Didn’t you know that the entirety of September and October exist solely as an excuse for horror to be socially acceptable for awhile? Who am I kidding, of course you did! They haven’t renamed it Septober on Mars for no reason…

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I already prepared most of this year’s Harvest of Horror special back in May and June, because I was anticipating publishing a book near Halloween, and wanted to give myself plenty of time. I ended up with a couple of excess horror-related shenanigans that I no longer have room for to publish during H.H., and I don’t really want to save them for next Halloween, so I’m going to go ahead and publish those this month. I only start to wake up around September, so this is a perfect way to get started.

Last year’s Harvest of Horror was somewhat unfocused, because it was the first Halloween special I’d done since starting this blog, but I ended up featuring mostly books. This year, the special will revolve around horror as an interactive medium, in video games and other alternative methods of storytelling. I’m doing a countdown of the, in my opinion, best and worst horror video games, as well as some unrelated horror reviews and posts, and of course, Haunt Me to Sleep should be published by the end of October. I’ll be posting previews of it sometime this month, too, as I think I’ve already mentioned.

Some more of what’s happening in September includes a week dedicated to the Silent Hill franchise and its legacy – the main series, the books, the movies, everything – and some miscellaneous horror reviews and poems. Also coming up is some art! Yes, I’m actually posting some drawings again. I talk about it often, but go through with it rarely. The ePub and paperback editions of MHz should also be out soon. There was some complications with the cover design and formatting that prevented them coming out when the Kindle version did, and I didn’t figure anybody was in a huge rush for it to be out, so I’ve put off fixing it. ‘Tis the way of procrastination. Anyway, hope everyone’s looking forward to Halloween as much as I am!

A Commentary on Cosmic Love

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+Cosmic Love is free to download on Amazon, B&N, Kobo, and Smashwords. Get a copy worldwide in any format here. Add Cosmic Love on Goodreads here. A paperback is also available.+

Genre: Poetry / Dark Fantasy / Romance

Commentary: Cosmic Love was unceremoniously plopped out as a miniature chapbook of haiku in early 2018. Its second half, Parasite of the Sun, was also supposed to be its own separate book, but the two were so thematically similar and short that I conjoined them to save time.
The project began namely as an experiment to test myself, to see if I could handle the rigors of publishing a piece of writing. Spoiler: I couldn’t! The initial “beta” version was not that good, and it still brings shame to me just how many people read it! I suppose it shouldn’t. I mean, there must have been something salvageable about it that I didn’t see, or there wouldn’t have been nearly over a hundred downloads by the time I took it out of print that fall.
I feel like, no matter what I write later on, Cosmic Love will always be my most popular poetry book. At least now, I can be somewhat proud of it! In both cases, I was determined for the cover to be pink. And it is certainly pink.

The new version was developed from February to April 2019, off and on and in snippets. The haiku are still present in the final, or what I like to call the “real” version, but cleaned-up and strung with the freestyle poems in a more coherent way, to form working themes of tragic love, cosmic horror and cosmic beauty. The oldest poems are “In the Land of Rust”, “System Time” and “Patchwork Tower”, which are all out of a notebook I kept in high school. They have been cleaned up heavily from the source poem, don’t worry! They aren’t that old, but it’s amazing to see how your writing changes and, hopefully, improves in just a few years.

Some of the inspirations for this collection were the science fiction novels Double Star by Robert Heinlein and Dune by Frank Herbert, and various sci-fi horror films like Sunshine and Fantastic Planet. Retro sci-fi in general, with a blend of Eastern philosophies served as kind of the building point that Cosmic Love grew from. One poem that might be intriguing is “Wandering Melon”. The title, and obviously the poem itself, were inspired by the nara melon, a mysterious fruit that somehow survives and thrives in the hottest, most arid parts of the world, in Namibia.

What ended up being probably my personal favourite poem, “Hidden in a False Sun”, was written on a day, on a whim to enter into a contest. It didn’t win but it did appear in an issue of Radium Piano Band, along with my second-favourite, “In the Land of Rust”.

The passion of sound flares my final dream
I evaporate in the corals of Neptune
Into the parhelia of a hidden sun –
No one else will know what I found there

-from “Hidden in a False Sun”

Personal Fave Poems: “In the Land of Rust”, “Hidden in a False Sun”, “Promenade of the Palm”

Never Finding the Book You Want

“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” – Toni Morrison

Does this sound familiar to anyone? Something that has always plagued me when seeking out new things to read is that there never seems to be enough of what I crave from specific types of books, whether we’re talking about the psycho-visual aspect of the writing or the story itself. This is even true with just a single author’s catalogue. One of their books may have that exact “vibe” I’m looking for, and the rest may lack it. It’s hard to pinpoint anything about the feelings I seek through books, save for a jumble of loosely coordinated images.

All of my current books are poetry, but I’m a fiction writer at heart. To soothe this dilemma was one of my key motivations in transitioning more and more into fiction, beginning this fall. Poetry can capture some of those, I don’t know what exactly to call them, I suppose “ambiences” or “atmospheres” would be appropriate, but not nearly as efficiently as a story, which has more time to build it, until it becomes a tangible thing that you remember, though of course none of it actually happened.

There are two “ambiences” that I have the most trouble finding in published books – one I could describe best as “urban psychological”, like that feeling you get wandering an empty, fluorescent-lit street or listening to smooth, ambient lo-fi music. Japanese novels and urban thrillers are probably my best bet for reliving this feeling in a book, as I’ve had the most luck with them, but unfortunately, there is only so much to choose from. The second is the “ambience” of occult mystery. I have yet to find more than a rare handful of books that truly capture that sinister feeling, and it would be difficult to describe. A transcendental, conspiratorial sort of horror, maybe. One that got that “ambience” right – even though the book itself isobjectively not that great, I loved it nonetheless for this reason – is the obscure paranormal novel The Sisterhood by Florence Stevenson.

Anyway, just some curious musings on my never-ending scour of the shelves. Have you had a similar problem? Feel free to leave a comment.

“Biotica” Featured in Radium Piano Band

My poem, “Biotica”, was recently featured in Radium Piano Band, along with some extraordinary poems by other indie poets. This poem is the sausage ground up from several different incarnations, was supposed to be in multiple books that it never appeared in, and went by several different titles, including the rather peculiar titles “Biotic Black Hole” and “Dreams of Human Sacrifice”, before landing on simply “Biotica”. The final result is… kind of an insane poem, not going to lie.
“Biotica” will be featured as well in my upcoming multi-medium horror compilation, Haunt Me to Sleep, which I talked (read: aimlessly blathered) about yesterday. That book will likely be published in late September or October.
You can read or download the August issue of RPB here:

Radium Piano Band – Issue #16

News on Haunt Me to Sleep

Haunt Me to Sleep is my debut fiction project. I’ve talked about it a little bit, but before I was positive about what the project was going to be like. It hasn’t quite strayed entirely away from poetry, as there are multiple prose pieces, but I thought a mix of styles would be perfect for what I was trying to convey. There are 52 pieces total, most of which are stories or prose. I think about 10-12 of them count strictly as poems.

Haunt Me to Sleep is an unorthodox book of “ghost stories”. Some are ghosts in the traditional sense, and some are more like mythological monsters. On the other hand, some are more metaphorical “ghosts” – something that haunts a character that isn’t really a tangible person or thing. I drew heavily from Japanese and Cherokee mythology for the design and nature of some of the ghosts, as well as themes of existential horror and common phobias.

This book, this insane book, which began as a pet project, has absolutely consumed the majority of my spare time. (Have patience with me! This book might have actually become some kind of evil entity by this point.) What was initially a poetry book of roughly ninety pages is now a fully fleshed-out book of short stories that I estimate will top out at 43k words. I’ll probably be able to post some illustrations from it soon, as I’ve set it to be published between late September and mid-October.

As of today, I still have about eight stories to clean up. Seems like a lot, but none of them are over eighteen pages. Everything else is finished, save for the cover and some touch-up on the interior artwork, which hopefully, you’ll love. The ghost portraits turned out very creepy and quirky. I am not as practiced a horror artist as say, Junji Ito or Stephen Gammell, but for a twenty-something novice, the illustrations at least look professional and smooth. Anyway, it’s something to look forward to, and I really can’t wait to start sharing some excerpts from it! 🙂

Books I’ve Read But Will Never Review

 

I have no strict review guidelines, at least not as far as my casual reviews. I used to think it was better to try to make them poetic… which, looking back at some of my older reviews, maybe it wasn’t… But there are some books, while I might have liked them, I don’t feel adequate in reviewing them. I love nonfiction and memoirs, but I slightly dread getting requests to review them, because I’m not often as knowledgeable about the subject as I feel I would have to be to do the book justice. These are some that I probably won’t ever review, at least not in-depth, though some hold a lot of interest for me and I like to discuss them.

The Bible
Genre: Religion
I’ve read the majority of the Bible, and even took a class on theology. It’s a fascinating subject to me, but understandably, I would never feel right “reviewing” a religious text, period, even though it would be more of a general overview than a typical review. How could I possibly? The Bible means so much to some people, and to others bringing it up infuriates them. It’s not fair to either party, and I would need to gather loads of historical information and context to even begin. Not to mention that the only version I’ve read likely is missing crucial pieces. You can also count other religious texts as literature I will never review.

Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
Genre: Magic Realism / Science Fiction
Infinite Jest tested my patience. I don’t believe I finished it. I admire Wallace as a journalist, his nonfiction is amongst my favourite, but I don’t personally enjoy his fiction. If you’ve never heard of this book, it’s a strange science fiction novel about the size of an orca, with about ten squillion characters, each with their own unique narrative styles. I don’t not recommend it, but to me, it wasn’t pleasant at all to attempt. It would be ideal for a specific type of reader, that is not me, but I would definitely download a preview before you buy a copy. Continue reading “Books I’ve Read But Will Never Review”

“Sunshine Weeping Demon” Featured in RPB

Avant-garde magazine Radium Piano Band is back after a brief hiatus, and was kind enough to feature two new poems of mine – “Sunshine Weeping Demon” and “Rose and Thrombus”. These appear in my chapbooks MHz and Infinite Summer as well. A neat little fact about these two poems is that they were both inspired, in an abstract sense, by the creative work of two different horror-film directors – Dario Argento and Shinya Tsukamoto. It might show, it might not.
This issue is a very strong one, and I especially love the first poem, “The House of Blue Lights” by Lee Ballentine. Check it out! 🙂

Radium Piano Band – Issue #15
Infinite Summer on Amazon
Infinite Summer on Smashwords

Finally Back on Track!

Hello, I’m finally back on a somewhat regular basis, and with a lot of fresh content! July and June have been really weak months for me, and I’ve been focused on trying to get Haunt Me to Sleep‘s semi-final draft finished so it’ll be ready to format by October. Of the 54 pieces in the collection, around 46 are on their final draft, so I feel that’s good progress. Apparently, it’s only taken around five months, combined, to put this collection together, which surprised me.
For the rest of July, I’ve got several new Lovecraft reviews, stand-alone book reviews and some poetry. I’m also working on content for my Halloween special, because I have something fun planned and want to perfect it ahead of time.

Anyway, about the final poetry book I’ll publish this year, MHz, it’s gotten pushed back several times but God and the fates willing, should be out at last on July 31st. If not then, then August 7th. It should come out around that time, in any case, inititally for a dollar, and become free slightly later. Unless you want a print copy, which there will be. The three previous collections are still all free or cost under $3USD to download an eBook copy of your choice on Amazon, Kobo and Smashwords.

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The Best Books of 2019 (So Far)

On this day, more of this year is now dead than alive. Normally I cling to time like a miser clings to pocket change, but I will be happy when this year’s over. Not merely happy, but elated. 2019 has worked its way into the official hall of shame in my memories, slightly higher than middle school but slightly lower than the entirety of 2016. And there’s still five long months to suffer through!

One of the few upsides, however, is that I’ve discovered some truly wonderful books. Most of my reading this year has been average, as usual, with only a handful of ones I would call “bad” reads, and a surprising amount that really stood out. So far, these are the best contenders, in no particular order, for the final countdown I’ll be doing around the end of the year. Be sure to check them out if you can. These are books and authors definitely worth their salt!

The Mad and the Bad by Jean-Patrick Manchette
Genre: Mystery / Thriller
Every now and then, the stars align and produce the exact book you desire at the exact moment you want to read it. This is one of those rare occurrences. The Mad and the Bad is an older, and comparatively obscure piece of noir fiction that is at the same time, far different from any noir fiction I’ve ever read – quirky and outlandish yet with an insanely dark sense of humor and irony. I plan on doing a review of this one eventually, so won’t spoil too much. You should just go out and read it, it shouldn’t take more than a few days to finish it.

Stain by A.G. Howard
Genre: Dark Fantasy
Young adult fiction needs more writers like A.G. Howard. Her writing style is unabashed and intelligent, and wickedly contorts the over-used tropes of fairytales into something brilliant. While I thought Howard’s more famous series, Splintered, was phenomenal, Stain shows a stronger sense of mischievous, calculating cunning and maturity in its development that ultimately made for a deeper story.

Smashed by Junji Ito
Genre: Horror / Short Stories
I am a hardcore Junji Ito fanatic, so pretty much any new work of his, even if it’s a stylish reprint of older stories, will automatically make the Top 10 for that year. Smashed got mixed reviews for being, I suppose, more haphazard in tone than his last two horror omnibuses, but as far as enjoyment of the stories goes, I actually liked this one more than both Shiver and Frankenstein. Continue reading “The Best Books of 2019 (So Far)”

Is It Ever Okay to Ban Books?

You would think the automatic, short answer to this question would be a resounding “NO”, and you would be correct… ninety-nine percent of the time. There is the rare book that should be banned for promoting hatred, but unfortunately, these tend to only be published within private circles. The good thing about that is they’ll probably never reach the mainstream public, but the bad thing is that someone thought it necessary for hate lit to exist in the first place, and also that they sometimes slip into the library of public domain if they’re old enough or the copyright has expired. Who would ever want to own the copyright for a piece of hate lit is beyond me, though.

When you consider most classics were banned somewhere simply for being honest about uncomfortable topics, or “brazen” with their writing styles, it really makes most controversies with books seem pointless. I think that there are cases where toning down content or mild censorship for a specific audience are okay, or even a good idea. But it should always be the decision of the author to do so. Massacring the hard work of another because of your own cowardice is the sin of sins, to me.

What brought the question up is that I’ve seen a recent upswing in banning and ordering censorship edits of books within independent publishing – yes, independent books, you read that right. The avenue created expressly for freedom of content is not allowing certain books on their platforms. And before you ask, yes, it’s mostly erotica and horror being subjected to censorship. What are arguably two of the first genres to ever exist, along with fantasy, have been challenged right and left since conception. Continue reading “Is It Ever Okay to Ban Books?”

Top 10 Scariest Stories to Tell in the Dark (Pt. 2)

Sorry for the delay between this and Part One, which began the countdown of the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark I find to be the most unnerving, gruesome and haunting of them all, in light of the upcoming film adaptation. Please read Part One first if you haven’t already, and take into context that these are plucked from the original, beloved Schwartz and Gammell books, not any of the alternate reprints. Gammell’s illustrations (and a decent dose of nostalgia) have a massive effect on the creep factor that is absent from the Helquist-illustrated version.

5. Oh, Susanna! from Book 2
The story itself is disconcerting enough, being about a serial killer who sneaks into a student’s dorm and beheads her roommate while she’s trying to sleep, but the illustration for this is so abstract and bleak and “WTF” that it unintentionally makes it far more nightmarish. It depicts, at least in my personal interpretation, the killer as a skeletal beast severing the head of Susannah, the roommate, which carries the protagonist off into the abyss of horrific realization.
While it does it through grotesque methods, “Oh, Susanna!” is a great point to bring up when discussing cerebral depth in children’s books. This drawing made my imagination go insane and back around again, trying to determine what it meant.

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4. Harold from Book 3
“Harold” is the darling of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, and features on most of the new film’s promotional art. Scarecrows are not fundamentally scary. They are big, stuffed dolls with silly faces and button eyes. But that unchanging expression would be disturbing if say, you abused a scarecrow for kicks and it learned how to move like a person just to spite you. And it only gets worse. I won’t spoil this one because the ending is brutal. Most of the Scary Stories library, as far as the actual plots go, would not be upsetting to an adult, but I think this is one of the exceptions. Continue reading “Top 10 Scariest Stories to Tell in the Dark (Pt. 2)”