A Few Weekend Happenings

Got a few things going on this weekend.

COVER-WARS

On SUNDAY APRIL 15th, voting for my entry in Cover Wars begins. Voting runs for a week and you can vote every 24 hours. Can’t emphasis enough how important it is that you vote for Dark Hollow Road each and every day. The winner receives a week’s worth of free publicity and will be the featured author of the week. There’s a lot of potential there to get my work known better and to boost sales. So, come Sunday morning, go to COVER WARS and VOTE FOR ME – or rather – VOTE FOR DARK HOLLOW ROAD HERE and help me win the coveted prize.

Screenshot-2018-4-13 Cedar Hollow Horror Reviews

I was recently interviewed by Curtis Freeman over at Cedar Hollow Horror. I haven’t done an interview in a while so am super excited to get another one out there. We talk about my favorite books and movies, totem animals, works in progress, and most importantly, beer!

I was recently made aware that a friend of my son is also a poet! She’s a wonderful young woman and I hope you’ll take some time to hop over to Amazon to check out her first book of poetry WELL OF MIDNIGHT.

Last but not least, The Witch’s Backbone Part 2: The Murder has finally made its way to Draft 3 status. It will soon be handed off to a select few beta readers who will tell me what they really think and from there I’ll either take their advice or say, “Are you kidding me? I am NOT changing that!” LOL. But, seriously – it’s getting closer and closer to being done with, so all of you that have already read TWB1: The Curse can at last find out the fate of remaining characters! And for those of you you haven't - you still have time to catch up.

Until next time – Write On!

Battle of the Books!

Dark Hollow Road has been out and about in the world for a couple weeks now. She’s slowly finding her way and has gotten some top notch reviews over on Amazon. Check them out! Thank you to everyone who’s posted one so far! You’re awesome.

I gotta say that the cover for this book has got to be my favorite! With that in mind, I’ve taken the plunge and entered her into Cover Wars over at Author Shout. The cover with the most votes becomes their Book Of The Week which they’ll will promote for one week on their website, shout outs, and newsletter. It’s a great opportunity for free publicity, which I could really use!

In lesser news, I’m going to be firing up the old editing brain soon and dive back into edits for  The Witch’s Backbone Part 2 : The Murder. It’ll be out and about before you know it, sometime in the fall. In the meantime, you’re going to want to read The Witch’s Backbone Part 1 : The Curse so you’re up to speed on what’s going on. Unlike the other books in the Barnesville Chronicles, The Witch’s Backbone is a real series. You’ll need to read the first one to make sense of the second.

New projects are happening very quietly in the background, but I’m holding off on revealing the subject matter to anyone until I’m further into it. Even The Hubby hasn’t been made privy to what’s going on yet! Maybe soon. Maybe.

 

 

Tales Beyond The Hollow

Now that Dark Hollow Road is reaching the finish line of being out and about in the world, I thought I’d step back and recap on the other titles I have out there for those who may have missed something along the way.

Secrets of the Scarecrow Moon is a Murder-Mystery full of paranormal elements.
A mysterious death sends one investigator deep into her hometown’s dark and bloody past. It’s a past the local coven of witches would rather keep buried. Can justice be served or will the witches succeed in keeping their centuries-old secrets intact?
Available on Kindle and in paperback here: Secrets of the Scarecrow Moon

That’s What Shadows Are Made Of continues the paranormal Murder-Mystery theme.
Everyone thought the local undertaker was such a nice guy, until someone murdered him.
As the police look for a flesh and blood killer, a witches’ coven discovers dark magic may be the culprit. Is the shadowy figure being seen around town stalking for its next victim real or something much more diabolical?
Available on Kindle and in paperback here: That’s What Shadows Are Made Of

No Rest For The Wicked takes a sharp turn away from the previous two releases. Oh, there’s murder, but the mystery isn’t who did it, but the dark reasons behind the violent deaths.
Every ghost has a story. Not all of them want it told.
A sadistic doctor hell bent on controlling both the living and the dead, would rather keep his final year of life a closed book. It’s a classic ghost story with a twist; it’s told, in part, by the ghosts themselves.
Available on Kindle and in paperback here: No Rest For The Wicked

The Witch’s Backbone Part 1: The Curse is a creepy coming-of-age tale.
It’s 1980 and five friends take it upon themselves to prove there’s nothing to their local urban legend and its deadly curse. That legend has other ideas.
After one of their number believes she’s seen the local urban legend, five young friends head deep into the woods to prove it’s just a story. Except in trying to do so, they may have discovered this old wives tale isn’t quite so fictional. And if the subject of the legend is real, does that mean her deadly curse is, too?
Available on Kindle and in paperback here: The Witch’s Backbone Part 1: The Curse.

Dark Hollow Road is all that the name implies, a journey into the darkest hollows of the human condition, where the real monsters of this world are made.
In the quiet Pennsylvania countryside, on a dead end road, she waits.
What does the 1948 rape of an eight-year-old girl have to do with the disappearance of a six-year-old boy seventy years later? They have one thing in common, a house on Dark Hollow Road. Empty now, the house stands as a warning to all who dare enter and take from it what isn’t theirs.
Kindle pre-orders happening now. Paperback release Mar. 23: Dark Hollow Road 

Tonight’s The Night!

This is it, folks. We’re down to the wire.

Kindle pre-orders of my psychological horror novel DARK HOLLOW ROAD begin TONIGHT at midnight. (Alright, probably a few hours before that because I’m not going to stay up that late to hit the magic button.)

Check out the trailer then buy the book!

DARK HOLLOW ROAD – BOOK TRAILER

Don’t read eBooks – no worries. The FULL RELEASE happens MARCH 23rd. Between now and then I’m hoping to do something I’ve never done before … stay tuned!

Dark Hollow Road – The Back Cover

There are less than two weeks to go before Kindle pre-orders start for my latest and darkest novel yet, “Dark Hollow Road”. Now that you know all about the story’s creation from my 4 part UrbEx series, I thought I’d treat you all to a little teaser from the back cover.

A past filled with terror.

On Dark Hollow Road, Mary Alice Brown and her siblings know little more than poverty and abuse at the hands of their father. Getting rid of their tormentor seemed the answer to bringing joy back into their lives. But when that doesn’t work, Mary takes it upon herself to see that justice is served.

A present full of dread.

After an unusual visit from an elderly woman looking to borrow sugar, the theft of his coloring book, and complaints about other kids bothering him in the middle of the night, six-year-old Brandon Evenson, who lives within sight of the house on Dark Hollow Road, goes missing.

A future obsessed with revenge.

Desperate, Brandon’s parents seek answers from Lee Yagar, a local who’s warned people time and again of the dangers lurking at the old Brown place. But, Lee’s suggestion that Mary is involved in Brandon’s abduction makes little sense. Mary is presumed dead, as she’s not been seen in decades, but is she? And is the house truly as empty and abandoned as it appears to be?

 A psychological horror driven by hate, fear, and every parent’s worst nightmare.

A little after story here. As you know from reading the UrbEx series, I’ve done my fair share of urban spelunking, starting when I was just a kid. I don’t do it so much anymore, but that isn’t to say the desire to do so has left me. This past summer I had a chance to stop at the farmhouse my grandparents owned up until the late 1970s. This place is near and dear to my heart. Sadly is has fallen into decay. Weeds have grown up everywhere. The house appears unlived in. The barn itself has collapsed.

Given the chance, even for just a quick explore, I took it. I worked my way back to where the barn once stood and into the old milk house. I longed to take a souvenir from this place of such joyous childhood memories, but after so long I couldn’t tell what was from the time of my grandparents and what was more recent with any sort of real surety.

It was then I was reminded of Dark Hollow Road and the fate of those who take from that place what doesn’t belong to them. What if I took the wrong thing? It wasn’t worth the risk and I left empty-handed.  My work of fiction convinced even me not to cross that questionable line – imaginary or not.

UrbEx & The Dawning of Dark Hollow Road – Part 4

In the previous posts about the creation of my upcoming Psychological Horror Dark Hollow Road, we’ve done a whole lot of spelunking. Apart from a small building located creek side in Salado, Texas that I wandered into back in 2013, my urban exploration days are pretty much over. The desire to continue the hobby is still strong. I’m just not so brave and nimble as I was back then. But, how does all that exploring old, and sometimes empty, houses back in the late 80’s translate into writing a Horror novel in the early 2000s? Therein lies the dark and mysterious magic, dear reader, a magic that even we authors struggle to understand.

All those experiences aside, the case for Dark Hollow Road began with the title. It literally flew past the right corner of my eye, barely seen, quickly read, and instantly understood for what it was to be. If you Google Dark Hollow Road, you’re going to find a whole mess of them. From Oregon to North Carolina, Pennsylvania to Texas, and who knows how many others betwixt and beyond; Dark Hollow Roads seem to run rampant.  The one I spotted was in Pennsylvania which boasts no fewer than six of them.  My exact words the moment I saw it were, “If that’s not the title of a Horror novel, I don’t know what is.” For that reason alone rural PA became my setting.

But, what would this story be about? I had absolutely no idea, none.  For a good six months, that would remain the case. It was just a title and a vague setting, no characters, no nothing really. With other projects keeping me busy, I didn’t dwell on it. I knew the people involved in the telling of this dark tale would speak up when they were good and ready to do so. Stories and their titles flow in and out of my head all the time; this wasn’t anything new. Or so I thought at the time.

Despite my actual spelunking days being a thing of the past, I still love to seek out and stop to look at the empty places that are local to me. I don’t go inside anymore, but I do try to take some atmospheric pictures from the outside at least. One such house is located only a few miles north of my home. It’s highly visible and there’s no place to park and hide your car. In fact, the roadside along the front of the place is marked with No Trespassing and No Parking signs galore. The safest option would be to park at the nearby church, cross the stream, and cut through the cornfield, which I’m really not so keen on doing.  For all the years I’ve known of this place, since I moved to the area in 1995, I’ve never known it to be occupied.  The memories and experiences of other houses we’ve already discussed came to mind, adding a layer to the story. We have a road. We have a house. We need some people.

The first whispers of characters arrived as I passed by my husband’s (then boyfriend) car and looked at the sticker I’d seen hundreds of times before in his back window. It said Brown House. It was a band he sang and played for in Texas. A gear clicked into place. The last known people to live in my fictional house on Dark Hollow Road were the Browns, but I still didn’t know anything about them.  What had happened that they would seemingly leave their house behind? Was the place haunted? That seemed too cliché to me, besides, I was already in the midst of writing a ghost story with “No Rest For The Wicked” and didn’t want to repeat that theme so soon.  No, there had to be something different about the Brown house and those that had once lived there, but what?

One summer night as I sat alone by a twiddling campfire in my back yard, a man appeared. He was old and grizzled. He was no stranger to hard work and it showed on his large, calloused hands and weather-worn face thick with wrinkles. Somehow I knew his name was Lee Yagar. He came out of the darkness of my imagination, studied me sitting there for a moment and remarked, “I know what happened at the Brown house.”  When I asked him, he refused to say anything further. He was there and gone, tingling my spine and twisting my mind to know more. He wasn’t going to talk or make things easy for me. He was going to be a tight-lipped, cranky, pain in the ass – not just to me, but to those who desperately needed his help. I went to bed that night thinking and thinking, trying to will Lee Yagar back so he’d tell me his story. But, it wasn’t his story to tell.

Much to my surprise, a very sad and frightened eight-year-old girl stepped forward next. This was Mary Alice Brown. This was the person Lee Yagar did not want to talk about. This was who had last lived in the house on Dark Hollow Road, the sole survivor of some nightmarish life everyone wished they could forget.  Mary wanted to talk. It had been a long time coming for her. The first words she said to me were, “I was eight years old in 1948 the night Daddy Clay came into my room and pulled the blankets down for the first time. “

This would become the novel’s opening line and the first steps down a long dark, hollow road indeed. As Mary began to open up about her life, I sat and listened, typed and envisioned.  As the months went by and even as I also learned about her new neighbors, Samantha, Renee and their son, Brandon – it was clear this story truly belonged to Mary.

There are some who would believe that on that day we first drove past the original and very real Dark Hollow Road in rural Pennsylvania, that the restless spirit of Mary Alice Brown reached out and found me, knowing in her unique supernatural way that I was someone she could trust with her tale.  I would tell it without bias and that I was more than willing to share it with the rest of the world on her behalf.  It didn’t matter if it was being presented as a work of pure fiction. Maybe it was her hope that in the telling, she’d find some level of peace. I like to think I’ve brought her a little bit of that.

Is all of this merely the culmination of what’s been said in Parts 1-3 of this series mixed with an active imagination? Probably.  Or, could the inspirations for this and so many other novels really be the actual lives and souls of people who once were, or those living in some sort of alternate reality? I guess that’s possible. Maybe it’s some weird combination of the two.

The only thing for certain is that Dark Hollow Road was a story that desperately needed to be written down and shared. If it gives some poor, lost soul peace, that’s great.  If it creeps out my readers, keeps them up at night reading, and makes them think twice about what lurks in the darkest corners of a seemingly forgotten empty house, that’s even better. Thank you for joining me on this little walk in the paranormal darkness. I hope you’ll find Dark Hollow Road worthy of even more of your time once it’s released this coming spring.

Dark Hollow Road – Book Trailer

As progress is made with proof edits and eBook formatting on my forth coming Psychological Horror novel “Dark Hollow Road”, let me present you with the first trailer of this dark and disturbing tale.

BOOK TRAILER – DARK HOLLOW ROAD

Scheduled for release SPRING 2018.

I’ll also be posting the 4th and final entry in the UrbEx & The Dawning of Dark Hollow Road series very soon. Learn the personal experiences, stories, and adventures behind the book.

 

Cover Reveal – Dark Hollow Road

It’s been a long time coming and the end product is almost here. Today, I’m SUPER excited to share with you all the cover for my soon-to-be released psychological horror novel “Dark Hollow Road”.

DarkHollowRoad-FrontOnly_Halfsize

If you’ve been following along the past few months, you’ll know some of the things that inspired the writing of this book.  In case you’ve missed those blog posts, here are the links back to them.

UrbEx & The Dawning of Dark Hollow Road Part 1
UrbEx & The Dawning of Dark Hollow Road Part 2
UrbEx & The Dawning of Dark Hollow Road Part 3

The fourth and final entry in this blog series will be posted in the very near future. This novel has taken me down a very strange and dark road, indeed. This isn’t Barnesville by any stretch of the imagination – although – if you’re a long-standing reader of my work and have been paying attention, you’ll know there is some sort of connection between this work and those.

More info to come on this one including a trailer and a reading by yours truly. Stay tuned and stay away from those old, abandoned houses … seriously.

UrbEx & The Dawning of Dark Hollow Road – Part 2

Urban Exploration, also known as UrbEx or Urban Spelunking (spelunking being ‘the hobby or practice of exploring caves’) takes its practitioners into the realms of man-made structures, most commonly empty and abandoned homes, mansions, hospitals, factories, and the like. No Trespassing signs don’t seem to mean much to the dedicated UrbEx-er. In fact, to some that’s as good as a welcome mat, even if one has to enter these sometimes dangerous structures at night under the cloak of darkness.

As a teen living in a small town surrounded by rural farmlands, UrbEx didn’t come into play very often. If an empty place did happen to crop up, chances were it was in pretty close proximity to another house and the person who lived there probably knew you, your siblings, your parents, and your grandparents. It wasn’t a chance many were willing to take. Getting grounded from what little there actually was to do around town was not a punishment we took lightly.

However, once you or your friends earned yourself a driver’s license and access to a car, more opportunities to explore begin to arrive. I was a late bloomer when it comes to driving. I didn’t get my license until I was nineteen. My own car didn’t come into the picture until I was twenty-two and permanently moved out of my childhood home.

DSCF3599For the next five to ten years, urban spelunking took on a whole new thrill. We, meaning the man I would marry in 1989, didn’t have a lot of extra money so our sources of weekend entertainments were limited. Luckily, we both loved to search for and explore abandoned houses. Looking back I am surprised at how many we actually found. There were dozens! Many times we could do little more than peek into the windows. We’d never break locks, doors, or windows to gain access. When we could get in, the first order of business was to make sure the floors weren’t so rotted away we’d find ourselves crashing through them into the unknown darkness below. Once in, we’d start photographing our finds, and I’m somewhat ashamed to say, taking a small memento from the place if something appealed.

Some dwellings had little to offer beyond a dead bird that had gotten trapped inside who knows how long ago. Others would show signs of some sort of occupation going on, squatters, a hangout for partying teens, drug users, maybe the place a homeless person called home. In one instance, we walked into a fully furnished, museum-quality mansion that blew our minds. There was also that little psychic-ghost hunting part of us that hoped to feel or see something paranormal in every dwelling we made our way into. This actually happened twice that I can recall.

DSCF3601At one location, a massive two-story brick home only a few miles outside of Watkins Glen, NY, was nestled quite a ways back from the road with the driveway barely passable. It was nearly impossible to even see in the summer unless you knew exactly where and when to look as you drove by. The leafless trees of winter offered a much better view of the place from the road. Our visit took place on a hot summer day, pulling the car in as far as we dared to keep it out of sight. We went in through an already open back door by way of some sort of garage full of empty plastic milk jugs. The ceilings in this place were at least ten feet high and the original woodwork around the doors and windows intact. There was evidence of an occasional occupant, small piles of empty beer and soda cans, filled ashtrays, a battered sofa and some ragged chairs with crumbled clothes nearby, the burnt out nubs of candles. When you see things like this, you really start to pay close attention to the sounds around you.

As we headed out and began walking around the outside, a soft sound drifted by on the warm breeze. It only happened once, but it sent a strange little shiver down my spine. It was the sound of a woman humming; just two notes, a bit like “yoo-hoo” only gently hummed and nearby. The image of an elderly, heavy-set woman sitting in a rocking chair on a front porch snapping beans, popped into my head. Real or imagined? Spirit or something much more of this world? I don’t know.

It does give one pause, though. If the spirits of the dead are lingering in and nearby these abandoned places, that do they make of UrbEx-ers with their cameras and flashlights. Do they see us as we might see them, wisps of sounds and motions? Or are we as solid to them as we are each other? Do they resent our intrusion and consider us trespassers and thieves? This incident and the questions it raised have stuck with me for close to thirty years now and would eventually contribute to the writing of my psychological horror novel “Dark Hollow Road”.

There’s a house on Dark Hollow Road that by all appearances is unoccupied, just like the one mentioned above. The locals say the last time anyone lived there was back in the late 1970s. The doors are all locked. The windows on the first floor are nailed shut and covered from the inside. To date three children have gone missing in its proximity. The house contains a past filled with terror, a present full of dread, and a future obsessed with revenge.

Stay tuned for further posts about my UrbEx adventures and how those experiences led to the creation of “Dark Hollow Road” – a story driven by hate, fear, and every parent’s worst nightmare. Heading your way Spring 2018. 

UrbEx & The Dawning of Dark Hollow Road – Part 1.

The popularity of UrbEx (aka Urban Exploration) doesn’t really surprise me. What does surprise me is how so many people seem to think it’s a new phenomenon. It’s more visible now thanks to such YouTube channels as Baltimore, Maryland-based Dan Bell’s FILM IT and the European (Dutch, I believe) BROTHERS OF DECAY, but it’s been around for generations.

Also known as Urban Spelunking (spelunking being ‘the hobby or practice of exploring caves’) UrbEx takes its practitioners into the realms of man-made structures, most commonly empty and abandoned homes, mansions, hospitals, factories, and the like. No Trespassing signs don’t seem to mean much to the dedicated UrbEx-er. In fact, to some that’s as good as a welcome mat, even if one has to enter these sometimes dangerous structures at night under the cloak of darkness.

In one of the earliest memories I have as an UrbEx-er, I couldn’t have been any older than ten or eleven and very much the tomboy. Across the road from the house I grew up in was a mysterious barn-like structure.

This wooden, red building had three large garage-type doors on the front, no windows on the ends and only one at the back. This single window was usually made inaccessible by stacks of rough-cut timbers. It was owned by the lumber mill and fine furniture factory at the end of the street, appropriately named Mill Street.  You can find some awesome pictures of what is left of this mill at The Explorographer’s SLEEPY HOLLOW SAW MILL post. 

 

HowlandsMill_6_2016

Not much remains of the mill anymore.

Much to my parents and grandparents horror, we played a lot across the street during the weekends when the mill was closed. We climbed on, raced between, and flirted with gravity and the possibilities of one of those tons-heavy twenty-foot long timbers shifting and crushing us to death on a regular basis. The cut wood was bundled and placed in stacks that swayed precariously as we climbed to the tops and jumped from one to another, like Superman leaping across buildings in a single bound. We scrambled and clawed our way to the top of the sawdust pile made by the enormous saws that did the initial bark removal outside, and rolled down them, sometimes into a puddle of mud. It wasn’t only dangerous play, it was messy.

 

But, what we really needed to know was, what was in that red building and how could we get in to find out?

During one fateful summer afternoon, the opportunity presented itself. During a game of hide and seek, someone discovered the stacked wood was at such a height and distance as to provide the thin and nimble kids that we were, easy access to the lone window some ten feet up. A sheet of outward-swinging hinged plywood covered it and we could see the simplest of hook and eye latches holding it loosely in place. That lock and the inch-wide gap it displayed was no match for a sturdy stick. The hook was quickly popped from the eye and the covering opened wide.

Behind it we were met with a multi-paned glass window and another simple hook and eye latch. In this case the window swung open inward at the bottom and the latch holding it shut was right there, unobstructed from our eager fingers.  It was freed, offering us a two foot wide gap into the building. One of our hooligan numbers peered in, ooohed, and slithered in through the gap.

What wonders awaited us? What was so valuable to the lumber mill that they kept it under lock and key in an almost windowless building? The rest of us quickly wiggled our way in one at a time, ready to be amazed!

As we passed through the window, each of us rolled onto a very smooth, hard, light brown surface. Cardboard. Huge sheets of cardboard, strapped together in giant bundles ready for the forklift operator to come along and haul a stack back to the factory to box up fully-assembled hardwood tables, chairs, dressers or cabinets. Box storage. That’s all it was, boring, folded up boxes! What a rip-off. We’d endangered life and limb to find a bunch of stupid, flattened out cardboard boxes!

We spent a few minutes atop the stack we’d entered on and talked. I’m sure pondering the thrill of it all, but quickly grew bored, as the minds and bodies of restless ten and eleven-year-olds will do. We crawled out the way we came in, slipping the hook and eye lock of the glass window back into place and closing the plywood shutter as best we could before climbing down to the safety of ground level – an adventure had, a mystery solved.

For me this was the dawning of a new fascination. This interest would wax and wane over the years and would eventually lead to the writing of my Psychological Horror novel, “Dark Hollow Road”. You see, there’s a house on Dark Hollow Road that by all appearances is unoccupied. Even the locals say the last person to live there was back in the late 1970s. The doors are all locked. The windows on the first floor are locked and covered from the inside. And, to date, three children have gone missing within close proximity to the place.

Stay tuned for further posts about my UrbEx adventures and how those experiences led to the creation of “Dark Hollow Road” – quite possibly the darkest and most disturbing story I’ve ever written. Coming your way in the Spring of 2018.