Wicked Neighborhood #2: The Foot is Coming Jan. 28!

Something Wicked This Way Comes! And it’s called The Foot!

The second issue in my five-issue series, Wicked Neighborhood, will be pre-released on January 25 (my birthday), with an official release on Tuesday, January 28, 2014.

Take a look at the cover:

TheFootCover

The Foot Plot Synopsis:

Ernie Graham discovers a mysterious space rock in his backyard. The rock seemingly infects his body, forcing his foot to mutate into a deadly organism that’s out for blood. Can he stop his evil foot before it kills someone he truly loves?

For those unaware, Wicked Neighborhood is a “Goosebumps for adults”-type short story series that is loosely inspired by my very own neighborhood in northern Ohio, albeit twisted into delightfully freaky, weird, strange tales of pure macabre fiction. The Foot is the second issue in the series, following the best-selling hit, The Stray Cats.

The short stories will be split over five issues, with the possibility for future “seasons” of the series if the stories prove popular. In other words, if you like what you read, spread the word to keep this series going.

Each issue of Wicked Neighborhood will focus on one particular household seated on the seemingly quiet stretch of land known as Forest Street. The upcoming stories are connected by characters, incidents and events on the street. That said, it is not necessary that you read every single tale in the series to delight in what I have in store for you … though you will be missing quite a lot of fun. Also, as future issues appear, you are welcome to read them in any order you so desire.

On the book’s official release date, I’ll be sure to post a link, as well as a little background about this issue. Stay tuned!

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If you haven’t already, check out my short stories and novellas. Titles include,The Horror, Vampire Zombie Claus, Does She Smile at Home? and The Stray Cats. They’re all just 99 pennies each! CLICK HERE to buy your copies today!

I love my readers, and I love my Twitter followers, too! Be sure to follow me on Twitter.

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New Short Story Coming November 12, 2013

This month I’ll be releasing not one, but two stories, exclusively on Amazon. The first (a short story) is a character drama titled Does She Smile At Home? The second tale (a novelette) is a “to be titled” Christmas parody, due on Black Friday. More on that story in the coming days.

Plot Synopsis for Does She Smile At Home?

In the midst of his own existential crisis, a middle-aged man comes upon Dolores, a lowly grocery store clerk who never seems to smile. Confused and haunted by this woman’s poisonous demeanor, and suspecting the riddle of her existence will somehow solve his own emotional puzzle, the man follows her home to see what her life is like. What he discovers stirs him to his very core, and changes him forever.

Some Background

Does She Smile At Home? strays from my standard comforts of the thriller/sci-fi/horror genre and explores the nature of hope, depression, and social/economic struggle through an existential lens. Rich with moody characters, brisk fall imagery and thoughtful metaphor, the story is meant for those who struggle to make ends meet, but hope for a better day.

Here is a sneak peek at the cover:

SmileATHome1

The illustration on this cover was drawn by my young nephew, Zach.

Does She Smile At Home? will be available through Amazon Kindle on November 12, 2013. Note: You can read the story on any Kindle device or on your phone, computer or tablet just by downloading the Kindle app.

If you haven’t already, check out my thrilling short stories, The Stray Cats and The Horror. Both are now only .99 cents. CLICK HERE to buy your copies today! And be sure to follow me on Twitter.

The Horror is Out Now!

My latest, terrifying novelette, THE HORROR is now available on Amazon Kindle (BUY HERE).

NOTE: You don’t need to own a Kindle device to read the story. All you need is the Kindle app, which is available on your desktop, laptop, phone or tablet.

TheHorrorCoversmaller

Synopsis: 

What if the horrors of a seemingly innocent and fun haunted house attraction were real? What if someone were inside with you, stalking you and feeding on your fear? What if every corner of the maze were deadly? What if you couldn’t get out?

The Horror tells the story of Lisa and Alan, two college teens visiting a theatrical haunted maze themed after local urban legends. Once inside it becomes clear that the macabre sights are not just smoke and mirrors, and gallons of fake blood, but the gory work of a deranged psychopath who is inside the house, hunting them. The two lovers must attempt to escape before this crazed lunatic tracks them down and completes his grisly ritual.

Background:

With The Horror, I wanted to craft a special short story for the Halloween season, and I wanted this story to be something “balls to the wall” scary. Ultimately, The Horror was inspired by one of my wife’s worst fears: that someone inside a haunted house might have nefarious plans for the guests. While the core story of The Horror has been swimming around my noggin for close to a decade, the plot began to truly form this September, when my wife and I visited the haunted houses at Universal Studios.

The result is a haunting, atmospheric ride through a terrifying, nail-biting narrative that simply doesn’t let up. But it’s also a story designed to make you think. The Horror explores the nature of trauma and death through brutal metaphor. It examines what we really fear and how our culture deals with disaster. The story is a response to those who criticize horror as exploitation or entertainment, all while fueling a reader’s fears through thrilling set pieces, unnerving suspense, vivid description and meaningful characters.

I hope you will enjoy The Horror as much as I enjoyed writing and editing it. Keep in mind, the story is quite scary, so I would definitely recommend this one to hardcore horror readers, especially lovers of the slasher genre.

Happy Halloween!

Top Ten Favorite Horror Films Part 3: Slashers

In honor of my latest slasher-themed novelette, THE HORROR (click HERE to buy your copy), my Halloween Horror Lists feature continues with slashers!

I tried to go a little obscure(ish) with this list so we won’t see any repeats from other lists.

Please be aware that I change my mind often. The ability to change one’s mind on any subject is paramount for our culture’s growth and development. With that in mind, don’t be surprised to see another version of this list next year, with totally different books on it … what can I say, I absolutely love the genre.

Be sure to comment below and let everyone know which films are your favorites.

10) Midnight Movie

A surprisingly clever spin on the slasher genre. A similar premise to Demons (which may appear on another list). This low-budget indie manages to succeed where so many other recent indies have failed. Honorable mention: the Hatchet series.

9) The Prowler

A freaky slasher from Joseph Zito, who would go on to direct the best Friday the 13th film in that franchise. The final jump scare is a memorable one!

8) Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers

This hilarious slasher send-up doesn’t offer much more than some base thrills, but it’s a comfort food of mine. Pamela Springsteen is just awesome. I wish she would have done more horror films.

7) Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan

Friday 8 doesn’t get much love. It actually gets no love at all, which is a shame because it’s really quite good. It sports the best direction of the bunch, with clever set-ups and great pay-offs. The finale is a bit of a letdown, but that scene between Jason and the punk kids in Times Square makes it worth it.

6) Slumber Party Massacre

Not what you’d think from the title, Slumber Party Massacre is actually a pretty subversive, somewhat funny pro-feminist slasher, that also happens to be an exploitation flick. The first sequel is also worth a look, but don’t expect a film that’s anything like the first.

5) The Burning

Had Jason not taken off, The Burning would probably be the slasher everyone remembers from the 1980s. There’s a ton of great actors in this, and it features some fantastic gore effects, courtesy of Tom Savini.

4) The Hitcher

The original film, not the shitty remake. I’m not exactly sure this film meets the title of slasher, but I’ve always loved The Hitcher for its intense, moody narrative, and nail-biting suspense. Rutger Hauer is easily one of my all-time favorite screen villains. Great stuff, with a dream-like atmosphere that will surely get under your skin.

3) A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge

I must confess, I absolutely adore A Nightmare on Elm Street 2, if only for the awesome pool party scene. But also for all the not-so-subtle sexual references and equally not-so-hidden homoerotic subtext. It’s a genre classic in its own way, and a great second outing for Freddy, critics be damned.

2) Black Christmas

This 1974 hit was the first real slasher, outside Psycho and Peeping Tom (both worth watching, BTW). Black Christmas is the perfect film to watch during the cold winter months. It was also the inspiration for John Carpenter’s Halloween.

1) Scream

Looking back, this series has probably influenced more than any other slasher out there. I just love it. Wes Craven crafts a perfect blend of horror and clever comedy in this send-up of the slasher genre. Ignore Scream 3 and 4 and stick with the first installment and the underrated sequel.

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Next week: My top ten favorite zombie films! So grab some brains and head back here next week.

Why I Write: The Benefits of Short Stories

 

WHY I WRITE #1 – Welcome to the first entry in this ongoing blog series designed to offer my perspective on the subject of writing. I also hope to inspire and aide fellow writers and readers to explore their creativity in new, exciting ways, and to help others achieve their goals and get their work published.

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“Why are you writing short stories?” I’ve gotten this question plenty of times from friends, fans and family. Some might blindly assume I’m either too afraid to write a full-length book, or simply too lazy. The reality is unequivocally neither. I’ve written three full-length books and two screenplays this year alone, and I plan on releasing six or seven short stories by year’s end, with about a dozen or more slated for 2014. All told, I probably write, or work on writing, for about 50-60 hours a week, if not more.

In truth, I just can’t stop writing. I write every single day, be it a blog entry, tweets, a screenplay, a book or a short story. Writing is like air to me, I can’t live without it. It doesn’t help that I’m an idea machine and I’m always jotting down stories, film and book ideas.

But why short stories? Well, my real goal with shorts is to create a base of writing samples that I can share with new readers, fellow writers, fans and potential agents and publishers who might be interested in reading or buying my work.

But also, my decision to focus on shorts is intentional beyond those motives. We live in a very busy time. Our attention is more divided than every before. There is so much content to consume, and more entertainment options. And, as much as some might argue to the contrary, we are also living in an economically depressed climate. It might not be labeled as such by the powers that be, but trust me, we are. If you’re in the middle class, or lower, you are likely feeling the damning effects of this on nearly every single aspect of your life. You are working hard to pay bills, pay off debt and still have enough coins to have some kind of fun on the weekends. In some cases, people are working two or even three jobs to pay for what little free time they have.

Between having no money, and having so many entertainment options, many have little-to-no time for things like books, or even movies or television. Taking this into consideration, I decided I would focus on bite-sized stories that can be read in a matter of hours.

This, I feel, is satisfying to readers because they get that sense of accomplishment from finishing a story. But also, a shorter story fits into our cramped schedule much better than a longer one. And, let’s be honest, not many people know who I am just yet. That will certainly change, but for now I’d prefer to give new readers a tasty bite of my writing abilities before asking them to indulge in a full-length book. I’ve also found that many readers feel the same way. They want to know if they even like my style, or the genres I’m working in, before they take the big plunge and dive into one of my books.

If you’re a fellow writer, I highly recommend trying your hand at a short story. If nothing else, it’ll get you writing every day and it’ll get you exploring your boundaries. Try a new style of writing, a different perspective, a type of character you aren’t familiar with, or even a different genre. When you’re finished (editing included – this is important), you can sell these stories for cheap (about a buck) on Amazon, and they’ll help your career in the long run. Binge readers can quickly enjoy your entire body of work, and the stories may lead to bigger things, like an agent or possibly a publishing contract. If nothing else, it allows you to have a body of work for sale on Amazon that readers, fans, friends and family can explore and enjoy.

And yes, you can charge for your work. Don’t be afraid of this. Even though I’m speedy and efficient, I spend around 80-120 hours (at least) prepping just one short story, from writing to editing to building the Kindle file to designing a cover and promoting the title. People work hard at their jobs. There is no reason you should not get paid for your hard work, either. But keep your stories cheap, please. I prefer the price point of $1. Anything more than $2 is excessive for shorts.

That’s essentially why I write short stories. I plan on publishing my books in the near future, but I am still in the very long, very taxing process of searching for agents and publishers. But, in the meantime, I am building an incredible body of work that will only help me achieve my goals. And I’m having a blast writing and sharing all my stories and ideas with you. So thanks for reading and please, if you publish a short, share it in the comments section below and I’ll be sure to promo the hell out of it to aide you in your own personal goals. Good luck!

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On the next, WHY I WRITE, I will discuss creating book covers for Kindle Edition books. Stay tuned!

–Also, if you haven’t already, check out my first short story, The Stray Cats (BUY HERE)!

TheStrayCatsCover

Wicked Neighborhood #1 is out now!

Wicked Neighborhood #1The Stray Cats is now available on Amazon Kindle. The short story is just $.99!

Click Here to buy your copy!

And, if you like the short, please feel free to review it on Amazon, post a link on Facebook or Twitter, or write a review on your own blog. Spread the word if you want to see more issues of the series!

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A little back-story on The Stray Cats:

The short was inspired by an encounter my wife had with a small tabby cat one morning. She was taking out the trash when a loving orange cat came knocking on our door. Over the next few weeks, Callie (as we came to name her), would visit our home almost daily. Unfortunately, our cat DeDe (pronounced DD), isn’t the most friendly feline of the bunch, and even the sight of Callie outdoors seemed to rattle her ego a little too much, so we couldn’t take her in.

We tried to find Callie a home, but got very few bites. Sadly, after a few weeks, the orange tabby mysteriously disappeared. We hope she found a good home and is living and loving to the best of her abilities. She was easily the friendliest stray I have ever seen and I trust she found a good home.

Here are a few photos of Callie:

Callie's first encounter with my wife - this moment ended up in the story

Callie’s first encounter with my wife – this moment ended up in the story.

Callie on our deck.

Callie lounging on our deck.

Oddly, Callie isn’t the only stray that’s come to visit our humble home. There’s Poline, who sleeps every day on our trampoline, baking in the glow of the afternoon sun. There was also an absolutely adorable kitten who followed my wife and I for almost half a mile during one of our early evening walks. We didn’t even notice her, at first. Our neighbor asked us, “Who’s your friend?” I replied with confusion and our neighbor pointed out the small gray cat who was eagerly trailing behind us.

I began writing The Stray Cats out of a love and affection for felines, though I wanted to tell a story that wasn’t just cute and cuddly. I wanted something creepy … something a little scary. The Stray Cats represents a delicious blend of adorable and terrifying, and I truly hope you enjoy it. I also hope that, once you read the tale, you will contemplate the story’s bitter subtext.

What’s in store for Wicked Neighborhood #2?

The second issue of the series is tentatively titled “The Foot,” and will focus on Jennifer’s neighbor, Ernie Graham, a man with a rather curious ailment. Look for it in late October, just in time for Halloween!

Anthology series, Wicked Neighborhood, is coming!

The launch issue of my short story anthology series, Wicked Neighborhood, will be hitting the Amazon Kindle store very soon.

The first issue, The Stray Cats, follows Jennifer Riley, a young woman trying to pick up the shattered pieces of her life in the aftermath of an abusive husband. Despite her positive outlook, Jennifer feels an emptiness in her heart. That’s when Callie, an adorable tabby cat, appears on her doorstep seeking shelter. Jennifer gladly allows the feline into her home, but soon another cat shows up at her doorstep … and another … and another … and another. What is causing this strange preponderance of cats? Is it Jennifer’s bizarre neighbors, each one seemingly weirder than the next? Is it her own selfish desire to fill her lonely days? Or is there something far more deadly at play? … something fiendish lurking within the woods.

TheStrayCatsCover

Here is a sneak peek at the cover of Wicked Neighborhood #1!

The short stories will be split over seven issues, with the possibility for future “seasons” of Wicked Neighborhood if the stories prove popular.

The series is loosely inspired by/hyperbolized from my own neighborhood, a strange suburban cage located in northern Ohio riddled with more than a few odd birds. Each issue of the series will focus on one particular household seated on the seemingly quiet stretch of land known as Forest Street.

The upcoming stories are connected by characters, incidents and events on the street. That said, it is not necessary that you read every single tale in the series to delight in what I have in store for you … though you will be missing quite a lot of fun. Also, as future issues appear, you are welcome to read them in any order you desire.

I will update this blog as soon as The Stray Cats goes live on Amazon. Stay tuned!