Why I’m Looking Forward to 2014!

Greetings, happy belated holidays and welcome to 2014. I hope the first few days of this new year are treating you all very well.

Sorry I haven’t been around since early December. After pouring a few hundred hours into completing my novella, Vampire Zombie Claus, I decided to take a month off from the blog to recover and re-energize … plus I had all the holiday craziness to deal with, which was genuinely delightful, if slightly stressful.

My December went remarkably well. Not only did Santa bring me pretty much all the presents I could have ever hoped to receive, but my novelette, The Horror, was reviewed over at Horror-Writers.net. They gave the story a wonderful write-up, which I am incredibly pleased with. Thank you, guys … for reading the story, liking it and sharing your thoughts with the world. So awesome!

The Horror has also reached another major milestone. The book is currently sitting on Amazon’s Top 100 Best-Selling Horror books, where it has been for more than two weeks now. That’s right, my novelette has joined the ranks of other best-selling books by the likes of Stephen King and Dean Koontz! As of the time I wrote this blog entry, the book was seated at #52. Check it out:

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If you haven’t read this story yet, and you like slasher horror or intense nail-biting thrillers, please do so! You can check it out on Kindle devices as well as your tablets, computers, or those fancy internet smart phones like the iPhone or the Samsung Galaxy.

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So … onward with 2014! I’m incredibly stoked about this year. I’ve got a slew of projects coming up, from short stories, numerous blog entries and more. Here’s a rundown of what to expect.

On January 25 (my birthday), I’ll be releasing The Foot, the second installment of the Wicked Neighborhood series. I’m also currently editing the fourth installment, and finishing writing the third issue. As some of you may know, I was originally planning a seven-issue season for this series, but I have slightly altered those plans. The “first season” of Wicked Neighborhood will now end after five issues. Following the five-issue release, I’ll publish a full-length book, collecting every issue.

I’m also prepping some printed copies of my stories for sale on Amazon, and I’ll be taking Wicked Neighborhood, Vampire Zombie Claus and The Horror to a few comic cons in 2014. I’ll keep you all posted on dates and events.

Just an FYI, I may not be publishing as many short stories and novellas in 2014. I would like to focus my efforts on finding a publisher for my three full-length works, including two fiction novels and one nonfiction book. I am still dedicated to getting all five issues of Wicked Neighborhood out there in 2014, as well as one or two other short stories and novellas.

As if I wasn’t working on enough, I am currently crafting an audiobook version of The Horror. I’m looking to have this ready by late summer/early fall 2014. My good friend,and uber-talented wunderkind musician, Michael McFarland, is busy drafting a musical theme for that audiobook, while I perfect my mini recording studio to bring you the best sounding, most professional audiobook I can.

As for this blog you are reading right now (probably in the nude, you kinky devil), I’ll be discussing numerous subjects in the coming weeks, from the controversial documentary Blackfish, to the fascinating story of The Disaster Artist, the book about the making of The Room, one of the best worst movies ever made. I’ll also be adding a few book reports, movie reviews, interviews, top 10 lists, and more.

2014 is going to be a big year, folks … so stay tuned and keep on making those dreams a reality!

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

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Get Two Short Stories on Kindle for Free!

Happy Cyber Monday!

Because of this special shop-at-home-naked event, I thought I’d offer two of my books for free. Just click on the titles or images below to get your copies! If you like the books, please add a kind review over at Amazon, Goodreads or both. Thanks and happy shopping!

Both books will be free from Cyber Monday through back-to-normal Tuesday, ending on Wednesday.

NoteYou can read the stories on any Kindle device or on your phone, computer or tablet just by downloading the Kindle app.

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

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

Does She Smile at Home?

In the midst of an existential crisis, a middle-aged man comes upon Dolores, a lowly grocery store clerk who never seems to smile. Confused and deeply 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 to catch a glimpse of what her life is like at home. What he discovers there stirs him to his very core, and changes him forever.

This inspirational drama strays from my standard comforts in the thriller/horror/sci-fi genres and examines the nature of hope, depression, and socioeconomic woes through a philosophical 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.

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Wicked Neighborhood #1: The Stray Cats

Jennifer Riley is 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 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 surrounding Forest Street.

“The Stray Cats” is the first installment in an ongoing anthology series titled Wicked Neighborhood. The series is loosely inspired by/hyperbolized from my very own neighborhood in northern Ohio.

The short stories will be split over several 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 desire.

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In addition to the free book sale, my latest novella, Vampire Zombie Claus, is also on sale, marked down from $2.99 to just $0.99. That sale ends Tuesday.

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Vampire Zombie Claus

This Christmas tale recounts the shockingly true story of the life, and death, of Kris Kringle, from how he came to become a vampire, to the man known as Santa Claus, and eventually … Vampire Zombie Claus.

Following in the great tradition of stories like The Princess Bride, A Nightmare Before Christmas, The Lord of the Rings, World War Z and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, this novella blends genres, both serious and silly, and delivers a new tale of excitement, nostalgia, humor and good old fashioned Christmas cheer.

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The Horror (still just $0.99)

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, grisly 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.

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

Why Corey Feldman Deserves Your Respect

Welcome to Different Perspectives, an essay series designed to offer a new, more positive perspective on an entertainer or piece of entertainment that fans and viewers may not have considered.

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It’s May 24, 2010, and I am standing in the basement of Annabell’s Cocktail Lounge in Akron, Ohio. If you haven’t been to Annabell’s, allow me to paint you a quick picture. The place is small, about the size of any corner watering hole. It’s usually filled with a colorful collection of young artists, hipsters and drunks. A Yelp user review describes the customers of Annabell’s as “Cheers meets the Star Wars cantina.” In other words, the place is a unique hangout for those who follow an alternative path.

Below the main bar is a concert venue. The walls are painted jet black, and between the noise and thumping footsteps of the patrons above, it feels as if you are in a bomb shelter during an apocalypse. The ceiling leaks, it’s hot and muggy, and it smells of booze and sweat.

This is where dreams and ideas are born. Where bar patrons become fans of performers. This is a place where people, like you or me, put their heart out on the line and share their vision of the world with others. It is a place that, in the warm summer months, feels almost like hell. But to any artist hoping to rise the ranks, this place is everything. It’s where you begin, where you celebrate, and where you return to. It’s home.

This is where I met Corey Feldman.

I’ve been a fan of Feldman, and his frequent costar Corey Haim, since I was about 6 years old. It started with movies like Gremlins, The Lost Boys and The ‘Burbs, and continued on with other hits like License to Drive, Stand By Me, Dream a Little Dream, Friday the 13th Part 4 (and 5) and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Feldman voiced Donatello for two of the three live-action films).

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It’s an odd experience being a fan of two actors who are often lumped into the “Teen Beat” category and idolized by preteen girls. It put me in a strange place that made me an easy target for ridicule and bullying.

But I saw something in both actors, something that spoke to me. They were likable and relatable on many levels. They were geeks, like me. When Haim died, I was deeply crushed. It was like losing a long lost brother whom I had cared about, but never met. As a writer and filmmaker, I had hoped to one day work with “The Two Coreys.” It was a silly dream, perhaps, but they were a part of my youth, and I owed it to them.

The week Haim died, I found myself in a nasty argument on Facebook with an old friend over whether Haim had been the victim of a drug overdose. “Haim’s a drug user. That means he’s a loser,” my friend contended. His compassion was flattened by his own brute arrogance.

“We don’t know how he died,” I argued. “But if Feldman thinks he was clean, he was clean.” I pointed to the video above and went on to talk about how drug abuse was a sickness that haunted Haim. I spoke of Haim’s sexual abuse, and how that had damaged his soul. My friend simply couldn’t see that.

“Once a loser, always a loser. I’m glad he’s gone,” he told me.

My friend didn’t even apologize after the autopsy came back and revealed that Haim did not die of an overdose, but of pneumonia. Regardless, my friend and I no longer talk. There’s no reason dealing with someone that mean, that close-minded.

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I’ve long been compelled to write about Corey Feldman, but it’s a touchy, personal subject. Feldman is a polarizing figure, he even admits as much. He is a trusting man, not unlike his old idol, Michael Jackson. As such, he tends to find himself on the defensive in interviews. He adores his many fans just as much as he seemingly despises aspects of the media and the public eye. You would too, if you were attacked every time you so much as breathed on TV.

So, I am here to tell you that Corey Feldman deserves your respect.

Back to 2010.

Feldman’s band, Truth Movement, had booked Annabell’s as part of a tour to promote their newest album, Technology Analogy. Unlike so many glossy, over-produced stage productions, Feldman rocked out old school. The band was tucked into a tiny nook, but they made the space work, and the show was actually quite brilliant, complete with gonzo set pieces and some great tracks that really rocked the house. Feldman pushed himself to his limits, and probably beyond. Sweat poured from his body and you could almost see him lose weight on stage as he reached the end of his set.

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Unsurprisingly, the venue proved to be far too tiny to sustain the legions of Corey fans who flooded the small basement to watch him perform. I frowned every time someone made fun of him, though. Most did not come to mock him, to be sure, but there were some who took pleasure in destroying his art. They threw out tired movie references and pretended Feldman was some kind of trained monkey, doing tricks for our entertainment. One drunk patron kept yelling “Do Mouth from Goonies!”

But as the evening went on, the mood changed. Some might have come to make fun of Corey Feldman and his band, but by the end of the night, they were all having fun. Through hard work, tough skin, care and showmanship, Corey had won them over.

As the concert came to a close, he returned to the stage for an encore. He asked the audience what they would like to hear. Dozens of fans threw out suggestions for Michael Jackson songs and tracks like Dream a Little Dream or Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car. The drunk patron yelled “Do Mouth from Goonies!” another dozen times.

That’s where I came in. At well over six feet, I towered over most of the audience. And in that moment I met eyes with Corey. I yelled, “Cry Little Sister!” His eyes twinkled, he pointed at me and nodded. It was probably the cue he was waiting for, though he scrambled to find the lyrics and sheet music for the band.

What followed was one of the single coolest encores I have ever witnessed (you can watch him perform the song at another concert shown below). The audience exploded with cheers. They loved it. Corey had left them clapping, howling and screaming for more. It was a perfect concert. And it was also symbolic of who Corey Feldman was, and where he was going.

Annabell’s felt like a beginning, a new chapter for the actor. In the years leading up to that May 2010 concert, Corey Feldman had been hit with some tough emotional waves. In June 2009, Feldman’s friend, Michael Jackson, had passed away. A few months later, in late 2009, he got divorced, an event that has seemingly shaken his foundation of trust. And in March 2010, just months before the concert, his friend and longtime screen star, Corey Haim, had suddenly died.

Making matters worse, over the years, Feldman’s image had been painfully dragged through the mud by exploitation artists and journalists hoping to get clicks for mocking him. He had been scrutinized, ridiculed and bullied by the media. But it was time for Corey to move on to bigger and better endeavors. It was time to put it all out there once more. It was time to revive his old fans, turn some naysayers, and find a new audience all at the same time. And it worked.

It’s now 2013 and Feldman is working around the clock. He has a new solo album, Ascension Millennium. He’s got several films – both mainstream and indie – rolling out in the near future, not to mention a half-dozen other film projects in the pipe. In addition to his film appearances, he is voicing the role of Slash on the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series, and recently he narrated (and appeared) in the absolutely terrific 4-hour Friday the 13th documentary, Crystal Lake Memories. He also has a new book, the cleverly titled Coreyography – a memoir about his roller-coaster private life, his tarnished public persona, and the work that made him a star.

But there is a shadow that looms over Corey’s career. There are those who still enjoy picking and prodding at him in public.

His critics point to his latest venture, Corey’s Angels, as something of a sticking point. Corey’s Angels is a modeling and talent agency of sorts, similar to how Playboy operates. And like Playboy, Corey’s Angels also happens to occasionally hold lavish lingerie parties.

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Ostensibly, Corey’s Angels may seem, to some, like a dream crafted by a man struggling to overcome a bitter divorce or a failing career. It may also look like prostitution, perversion or deviancy to others. If nothing else, a cash grab (the parties run upwards of $250). But I do not know what Corey’s Angels is, not completely anyway.

Like so many journalists, writers and critics who have made their own judgments, I have not seen one of his parties, that is, outside a few articles that seemed destined to turn the venture into a punchline.

I have not yet experienced Feldman’s new brand of entertainment. But I have written about sex and alternative lifestyles. In 2013, I completed a nonfiction narrative on the subject. In that book, I detailed strip clubs, sex dens, adult theaters and swing clubs. I saw it all and I can say this … Corey’s Angels does not appear to fall into the sexual spectrum so many critics have categorized it.

If nothing else, it falls into that same gray area explored by the likes of Victoria’s Secret, Hugh Hefner, or any Average Joe who’s eaten at a Hooters. Corey’s Angels seems to be an idea where beauty is idolized, happiness is king, and careers begin to find their footing.

To be honest, I would relish in the opportunity to experience a Corey’s Angels party at his mansion. I would love to have the full perspective. But for now, I’d prefer to any judgments at the door. Not everything is what it seems. It never is.

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Enter Coreyography.

I picked up the book along with Nick Offerman’s Paddle Your Own Canoe. Both memoirs are also available on Audible, narrated by their respective authors. If you are a Kindle owner, I suggest picking up both the book and the audiobook for maximum enjoyment. Both narrations are outstanding and add quite a lot of texture to their tales.

I had actually read very little about either book and assumed both would be a funny jaunt through history as seen through the eyes of two of my all-time favorite entertainers. What I got instead was an eye-opening experience. I planned to swap back and forth between both books, but once I sunk my teeth into Coreyography, I couldn’t put it down. In less than two days, I had read the whole book.

Nick Offerman

It was actually strange returning to Offerman’s memoir, which serves as a complete contrast to Coreyography, from Offerman’s lighthearted upbringing to his success as an entertainer and husband. Corey was famous, but he didn’t quite have Offerman’s luck.

I liked Corey Feldman before I read Coreyography. And I respected him. I have defended his character and his work over the years, even though I sometimes chuckle at his outlandish ways. He’s a sensitive entertainer and a wildly fascinating entrepreneur. But he’s also a frustrated, peaceful human being whose perspective is often glossed over and forgotten for no good reason.

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Coreyography is as much about Feldman’s life as it is about setting the record straight. The book is a demand for his respect, and he earns it. He not only starred in some of your favorite films from the 1980s, but he’s also suffered more than a lifetime (or two) of pain, all before he was in his 40s. He and his friend, Haim, were a victims of child abuse and molestation. Together, they bonded over their success, but also over their darkest secrets. They both fell to drugs. They both made terrible decisions. They were both haunted men. But Feldman endured. He broke free of drugs. He cleaned himself up. He returned to entertaining his fans with fresh ideas and fistfuls of love. He even helped inspire his friend to do the same.

That didn’t change how some have perceived Feldman. He is still, for whatever reason, a punching bag for some media outlets. Perhaps it was his gimmicky reality TV stints, or all the self-referential cameo appearances (he admits to loathing these decisions in his book). Either way, it is not fair. After years of bullying, abuse and sexual molestation, Feldman is still getting picked on.

A friend once described her life as being on “hard mode.” That sentiment has stayed with me over the years. I think it fits well with Feldman’s persona. He’s continued on, despite his critics. And he’s found his fans. He’s active on Twitter, retweeting and commenting on nearly every tweet that’s sent his way. He’s still trusting, too. It might be considered a fault, but it is who he is, and it’s what has made him the bright, shining enigma that he is today.

On some level, his book is actually about awareness of child abuse and molestation in Hollywood. It serves as a stunning warning to those who want to enter that world. Hollywood can be a place where dreams come true, but it’s also a place of extreme darkness, and not every corner is safe. Feldman saw it first-hand, and he tries, quite passionately, to convey that message.

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Feldman is not a perfect person. None of us are. I’m not asking for people to be fans of him. If you like his work, and I know there are a lot of you, that’s great. If you don’t, that’s also fine. But that doesn’t mean you’ve earned the right to bully or publicly mock him. There’s a lot to respect about Feldman. He’s worked hard to change the face of Hollywood, to stop molestation and child abuse. His only desire, it would seem, is to keep pushing that message until something can be done. He even admits, as busy as he is, he isn’t in the public eye much anymore. So when he is, he’s a pistol, firing out passionate arguments and defending himself.

But Corey Feldman has also changed people. He’s made several genre and cult classics. Films that inspire young writers, actors and filmmakers. He’s made people laugh, cry, and howl with joy. His music speaks to his fans and helps him find peace. And his book reveals his tragic, brutal upbringing, and his ultimate redemption. He is a man who constantly puts himself out there, even with the odds stacked against him. He is always trying to achieve the dream of every man – to be remembered for one’s successes, not your faults.

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Like anyone who brushes past the negative aspects of our culture, the criticism and the destroyers of creativity, he deserves your respect for trying, and for sometimes succeeding. He deserves your respect for shaping nostalgia of the 1980s. But most of all, he deserves your respect for enduring the depths of hell and raising awareness about molestation and pedophilia.

And soon enough, like that night in Annabell’s, he will win the crowd.

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Different Perspectives essay series:

The Dark Knight Rises – A Deeply Personal Film Christopher Nolan Didn’t Want to Make

Rob Zombie’s Halloween II: The Sequel That Gets No Love

Movie 43 Isn’t That Bad

Curse of Chucky Indeed

Fright Night II: New Blood- A Deserving Sequel

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Shameless plug time! If you own a Kindle (or have the free Kindle app on your phone), check out my thrilling short stories, The Stray Cats and The Horror. CLICK HERE to buy your copies today! Also, my latest short story, Does She Smile At Home?, releases Nov. 12, 2013. Mark your calendars!

And lastly, be sure to follow me on Twitter for rants, raves, promos, news, essays and everything in between.

Top 10 Favorite Horror Films Part 4: Zombies!

This week’s list details my favorite zombie features. Enjoy, and feel free to post your favorites in the comments section.

Please be aware that I tried to not have any repeats on these lists, so if you see something missing, it might be elsewhere.

Previous Halloween Horror Lists:

Part 1: The Classics

Part 2: Books

Part 3: Slashers

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10) House of the Dead

Yup, you read that right. Uwe Boll’s camp “masterpiece,” House of the Dead, made the list. Why? Because I laughed my ass off the entire film. Plus, it’s gory as hell and unabashedly strange. I kinda love the big shootout in the middle of the film, not to mention the hilariously awful flashback to the big shootout that happens not five minutes after the scene is over. So bad it’s good, folks.

9) Warm Bodies

This is a newbie so it’s ranking a little lower, but I can see it rising in the coming years. Warm Bodies takes zombie conventions and spins it in new, refreshing direction. It’s a tender, sweet and clever film that shouldn’t be missed. For another new(sih) zombie film, check out ZMD: Zombies of Mass Destruction or the Canadian hit, Dead Before Dawn.

8) Cemetery Man

A trippy piece of Italian cinema that’s required viewing for any zombie lover. This one is quite strange. I highly recommend checking it out in the middle of the night, when your mind is ready to travel elsewhere.

7) Day of the Dead

George A. Romero’s Day of the Dead isn’t a masterpiece, but it’s damn close. The effects are incredible, and Bub is probably one of zombie cinema’s finest creations. If you like him, also check out Fido. Also give Land of the Dead a look. It’s grown on me over the years, and while I wouldn’t rank it as one of my favorites, it’s well worth a midnight screening.

6) Braindead (Dead Alive)

Here’s a film that starts out slow and unsuspecting, but quickly escalates into the absurd, the wacky, and the positively gonzo. The finale alone is worth the price of admission. I wonder where director Peter Jackson ended up with his career? Also check out Re-Animator for something equally gory and off-the-wall.

5) 28 Weeks Later

I loved 28 Days Later, but I found the sequel a far more riveting, character-driven film that took the genre in a new direction. Plus, 28 Weeks Later was Jeremy Renner’s first memorable role, ahead of The Hurt Locker and a little thing called The Avengers.

4) Zombieland

Of all the zombie comedies, this one is my favorite. I could pretty much watch it every day. It never ceases to entertain. The cast is awesome, the gore is great, and the story is clever as hell. VERY honorable mentions: Shaun of the Dead and Dead Snow. Both almost made the list, but they weren’t quite my favorites.

3) Zombie

Zombie vs. shark. Eye vs. wood shard. Zombie barn battle. These are the reasons why this one ranks so high. There’s a scene where a zombie fights a real shark. Yup. The film’s epic finale, a showdown of man vs. zombie, is positively one of the best ever put on film. This one is a masterpiece of zombie cinema, and one of the best Italian “Dawn of the Dead” knockoffs out there.

2) Dawn of the Dead

Dawn of the Dead is probably one of the very best horror films ever made. It is everything that we know and love about zombies all tied up into a fun package filled with gore, horror, comedy and brilliant characters. The remake is also pretty great, and well worth a look. And, of course, the original cult classic, Night of the Living Dead, deserves some love, too.

1) The Return of the Living Dead

Hands-down my favorite, go-to zombie feature each Halloween. It’s clever, funny and that middle act switch from comedy to flat-out horror is simply fantastic. But don’t start here. Watch Night of the Living Dead first, then watch this. Skip the sequels (okay, watch the second one). Also, check out Night of the Creeps.

Next week: My top ten favorite obscure horror films! We started with the most obvious horror choices (The Classics), let’s finish with the obscure.

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If you own a Kindle (or have the free Kindle app on your phone), check out my thrilling short stories, The Stray Cats and The Horror. Both are just .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.

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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)!

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