The Wonderful Week of Writing

It’s been a rather satisfying week for this little Scribe.

It started with the cover reveal of Dark Hollow Road. I’m so excited about finally getting this book out there. It’s taken over two years, but now the wait is nearly over. The release date for both paperbacks and eBooks has been set for March 23. eBook pre-orders will be announced soon, too.



Next came this amazing review by Isobel Blackthorne for my HellBound Books novel, “No Rest For The Wicked”.  I’m pretty speechless about this one. Thrilled is putting it mildly.



Then this review appeared over on Goodreads for my most recent Barnesville Chronicle title, “The Witch’s Backbone Part 1: The Curse” by none other than fellow Horror writer, Hunter Shea.

 It’s moments like these that keep me writing on. They give me a level of hope that pulls me up from the dregs of self-doubt and pointlessness.


Over the weekend, I started work on my first run through of the first draft of Part 2 of The Witch’s Backbone, “The Murder”. It’s sat ignored for a month so I go in with somewhat fresh eyes, having forgotten certain scenes, inserting scenes I realize needed to take place later in the book, and discovering scenes that are completely missing from the printed version. Let’s hope that’s just some sort of printing snafu and that they are actually still intact when I get back into the electronic version to implement all these corrections, subtractions, and additions. The hope is to have this one released by September, but don’t quote me on that.


Terlingua, Texas


We have a grand trip planned for Southwest Texas and a little ghost town called Terlingua in late October – early November. I’ve been thinking of doing a story based on this area of the country for several years now and am looking forward to doing some much-needed first hand research as well as enjoying what promises to be a once in a lifetime experience of celebrating Dia de los Muertos with the locals and visiting my husband’s cousin all wrapped up into one wonderful adventure. Can hardly wait to breathe in that delightful desert air again!

Grand things are in the works, dear readers and I’m really looking forward to sharing them all with you as they unfold.

Top Ten Reads of 2017

Thanks to GoodReads, I now have a quick and easy way to keep track of my reading accomplishments. For 2017, I set my goal at 24 books. I wasn’t sure I’d make it. I lean more in the direction of thicker tomes, 300-400 pages and I did manage to get a few of those in. However, I must thank those authors who write on the shorter end of the stick for helping me make that 24 book goal.

Of those 24, I’ve selected ten that have left the best impressions. The only order here is the order in which I read them, earliest to most recent. Maybe one or more will strike your fancy and make it to your To-Read list for 2018.

TheWillowsThe Willows by Algernon Blackwood. Published in1907, The Willows was one of H.P. Lovecraft’s favorite reads. It’s a truly creepy tale of two friends who take an intentionally wrong turn while on a boat trip down the Danube, despite the warnings of the locals. Something bizarre and malevolent dwells within the willows along the shoreline, enticing one member of the party to a near-suicide. This being, or collection of beings, it’s never quite clear what’s out there, continually stalk and threaten the travelers. It seems the willows harbor another life form, of this world, the next, or perhaps from the stars. Whatever it is, or wherever it comes from, you’d be much wiser to follow the right path than in the steps of this stories two main characters.



SinisterEntity_SheaSinister Entity by Hunter Shea : Even at the tender age of eighteen, paranormal investigator Jessica Backman has seen and experienced more than her fair share of things that go bump in the night. She’s always worked alone, until a series of emails arrives from Eddie Homes, a total stranger. Who is this clown and how has he learned so much about her? Jessica has always been very careful about keeping her privacy, but Eddie knows things he absolutely should not know. When Eddie tells Jessica that her dad sent him, she takes notice. Jessica’s father died horrifically when she was only six, and boy does Dad have a job for her and Eddie to do! Sinister Entity is the prequel to the first Hunter Shea book I ever read, Island of the Forbidden. After reading this I’m just itching to get the first book of the series, Forest of Shadows.


DATTOML digital coverDreaming at the Top of My Lungs by Israel Finn : There’s always a touch of envy in me for people who can pull off a successful short story. In a mere 112 pages, Israel Finn managed to keep me engaged and amused for the past couple weeks. As with any collection or anthology by even the most famous of writers, there are some stories that are better than others. There were a few in here that I didn’t quite get or felt that were lacking, but the vast majority I thoroughly enjoyed and enough so that I’d easily consider picking up more work from this up and coming author.




Boggy_BlackburnBeyond Boggy Creek by Lyle Blackburn : A must read for anyone interested in Bigfoot, specifically those associated with the southern United States. Blackburn gives us numerous examples from Texas, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Louisiana, Kentucky, Virginia, Georgia, Tennessee, and Florida. (I may have missed some). Be that as it may, I was amazed there were so many sightings in all of these states. I had no idea! And not just from a hundred years ago, but within the past five years.





ShadowFabricThe Shadow Fabric by Mark Cassell : On the second day of his new job, Leo is witness to a murder. His boss, Victor, stabs his own brother, Stanley, with a mysterious dagger known as the Witchblade. But Stanley suffers from no normal stab wound. Instead he is drawn into what appears to be a black piece of fabric and is consumed. The Shadow Fabric is an action-packed and fast-paced run through the underbelly of a realm of darkness, insanity, and a secret mythos that all but the very few are aware of. Leo took my hand, gripped it tight, and yanked me along through it all right along with him. His fears became my fears. His desire to find the answers, were mine. The feelings of betrayal and hopelessness that he felt made me cling to each page, urging him to continue to fight and find the truth.



TheSelectionThe Selection by Jason J. Nugent : A coming-of-age story taken to its most basic level, survive! Every eighteen-year-old boy has to go through it. Most will not make it. Not long ago Eron’s brother Timo entered The Selection. The last thing Eron remembers is the sound of his older brother’s screams. Now, Eron must face whatever awaits him and he’s understandably terrified. It was a little slow at the beginning, but once the greater action began, I really got involved with the characters and was cheering for Eron every step of the way. Jason has done a great job creating another world, environment, and belief system that is part of, yet so far apart from Earth, that it’s unrecognizable.




77ShadowStreetKoontz77 Shadow Street by Dean Koontz : The first of several books that feature the Pendleton Hotel, 77 Shadow Street was my first voyage into the writings of Dean Koontz. I know! Don’t judge! There’s something very wrong going on at the hotel and for those that call the place home, it’s a matter of life and death. An entity that calls itself The One is dedicated to destroying those it deems unworthy and saving those that share its apparent lack of respect for the foolish, overly-sensitive and emotional human race. Your average Joe is a waste of this things time. All must be destroyed or assimilated. This process has been going on for generations and each cycle results in a series of gruesome deaths. What is The One? An alien intelligence? A powerful demon? An over-zealous, future computer that believes itself to be God? All of the above? Whatever it is, Koontz captured it perfectly. I can’t recommend this book enough.


watchingWe Are Always Watching by Hunter Shea : After being hit by very hard times, fourteen-year-old West Ridley and his parents are forced to move in with his ornery grandfather, Abraham. As if living with the grumpy and less-than-hygienic old man isn’t bad enough, the old family farmhouse is falling to rot and ruin and Grandpa couldn’t care less. In fact, he seems to intentionally want to drive them out with insults and rage. But, the family has no other place to go and no money to get there if they did. Buttermilk Creek, Pennsylvania is the bottom of the barrel, isolated, creepy, and filled with more terror than even the Horror-loving West can take. We Are Always Watching is loosely based on real events that Shea has taken and run with, twisting them into his own horrible version of a nightmare, as he does with all his work. Family secrets begin to leech to the surface and the more West finds out, the more he comes to realize he and his family need to get the hell out of Grampa Abraham’s house! Like, NOW!


Shattering-the-LeyShattering the Ley by Joshua Palmatier : I was first introduced to Joshua Palmatier’s work about ten years ago through the Throne of Amenkor series and I really loved them. He has a marvelous way of combining Fantasy and Science Fiction, two genre’s I’m usually not all that into, but Josh may make a convert out of me yet. Shattering the Ley is no exception to the amazing work Palmatier does. He creates a myriad of characters that you quickly grow to either love or hate and his visual descriptions easily draw you into the world of his creations. A wonderful, engaging read and I am super eager to get into the next book in the series!




GehennaGehenna & Tartarus by Jason Brant : Alright, technically two books, but you just can’t have one without the other! This Zombie Western series is gory, thrilling, and laugh out loud funny all at the same time. Who could ask for more? Gehenna was my introduction to Jason Brant’s work and I couldn’t be happier. I love a good zombie movie, but in all honestly, these West of Hell books are the first zombie BOOKS I’ve read and am thoroughly enjoying. Tartarus picks up right where Gehenna ends. Both are super fast-paced and well-written. I only bought the first two and am now chomping at the bit to get my hands on the third.

The Horrors That Grew Me – Witchcraft

It’s no secret. I’m fascinated by witchy things and things associated with witchcraft. This does not mean I am one. I have a huge interest in vampires, too. Their lore and mythology, the novels, the movies, the whole nine yards, (Except for Twilight. I hate Twilight. Sorry. Deal with it.) all enthrall me. This does not mean I am one or believe I am one.

As with so many other horrors that grew me, I wasn’t entirely clear on when this interest first blossomed until recently. It has simply always been. But, the more I’ve thought about it for the writing of this post, the more I’ve come to understand about its origins. There’s a bit of interest in Spiritualism that I can easily trace to a particular relative on one side of the family who would later not only purchase my first Ouija board for me as a birthday gift (my 13th birthday, btw) but would also teach me how to use it – much to the rolling of her husband’s eyes. Another close relation on the other side of the family was really into the meaning of dreams and astrology.

As I was exposed to dream interpretation from my earliest days, let’s start with Ballantyne and Coeli’s Your Dreams And Your Horoscope : 25,000 Interpretations of the Messages Received in Sleep and the Predictions of the Stars, Planets, and other Heavenly Bodies, a copy of which was given to my great grandfather for Christmas in 1943. This same book now holds an honored place in my private research library. From Abacus to Zoo, we are presented with dream interpretations of all kinds in the first 564 pages of this yellow-paged tome. This is followed by finding numbers associated with dreams based on numerology. On page 574 we start our lessons in astrology, which continue for another 300+ pages. Hm. It all seems rather witchy to me.



The Mysterious, Zolar?

This book would lead me to buy a dream book of my own, Zolar’s Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Dreams along with his Compendium of Occult Theories and Practices. This Zolar fellow has thirty books listed on Goodreads, but there’s an overwhelming lack of any actual information on who Zolar really was (or is). Other than a picture I found of a bearded man wearing a tweed suit with matching hat and smoking a Sherlock Holmes-style pipe, I haven’t found a thing. I strongly suspect that he’s the Simon and Schuster equivalent of General Mills’ Betty Crocker.


Once the research fuse on this particular study was ignited, things really got interesting. I quickly found myself diving into the non-fiction book Witchcraft At Salem by Chadwick Hansen and The Complete Book Of Magic and Witchcraft by Kathryn Paulsen. Much like the vampire library, the library of books on witches and witchcraft grew.

For my high school senior paper I wrote about the causes of the Salem witch trials and as part of my research was granted access to Cornell University’s massive Witchcraft Collection at the age of seventeen. I was taken to a small study room that contained nothing but four large tables with two chairs each, and several surveillance cameras. I was permitted to take in a pencil and a notebook. That’s it. Having looked at the card catalogue prior to my admission, I had a list of documents and books I was interested in seeing. These were brought to me and for the next few hours I gathered as much information as I could that pertained to my topic. I was in Heaven – and some would say probably working my soul’s way to Hell. Little did I know at the time, but I was also gazing at documents that pertained to my own family lineage.

For a good twenty-five to thirty years or so, I was very involved in all manner of occult dabbling. I taught myself to read the Tarot and other methods of scrying. The use of the Ouija board was common practice. I gathered stones and crystals. I burnt cedar and sage. I met and hung out with a lot of pagans whose practices ranged from Druid to Wicca and participated in numerous drum circles. It was fun and I learned a lot spiritually about myself.  It’s been a solid ten years since I’ve done any of that and a good five since I’ve spoken to anyone from those days.  My interest is still there, but it’s really just an interest now, not a practice. As I said, it was educational and it helped me find a pretty content zone when it comes to all this spiritual, in the religious sense of the word.

A few years prior to my maternal grandmother’s passing, she gave me a book she highly prized. It was THE family genealogy book, researched and written by her cousin. When she gave it to me she said, “You’re the only one who really seems to care about this so I wanted to make sure you got this.”  It would not be until 2009 that I would find a passage in this book that thrilled me beyond words, despite the sad injustice of it all.

In the Preston line of family is this entry:  Thomas Preston, born abt 1642, per his deposition 30 Jan 1690, stating he was then 48 years old. He m’d in Salem Village, Mass in 15 April 1669, Rebecca Nurse, d/o Frances & Rebecca (Towne) Nurse.  Rebecca (Towne) Nurse was born 16 Feb 1621 & was executed as a witch 19 July 1692.

Thomas Preston’s brother Roger was my 7x great grandfather, making Rebecca (Towne) Nurse my 8x great aunt. It’s a thin, frail line of descent, I grant you, but I’ll take it. Of course, the 71-year-old Rebecca Nurse accused and hung as a witch was no such thing. In a similar vein, my Godfather is descended from Judge William Stoughton – also of Salem fame – and his wife, my Godmother, is also descended from an accused Salem innocent.

Last but not least, all this love of genealogy research led me to work on a lineage for a friend – just for fun. Through that I discovered the Connecticut Witch Trials that ran from 1647 to 1697, before, during, and after Salem. No fewer than thirty-four men and women were formally charged with witchcraft. Eleven were hanged. And from these people grew my idea of the Barnesville witches that you’ll find in my Barnesville Chronicle series.


So, there you have it – my love and fascination with witches, the good ones, the bad ones, the factual ones, the fictitious one, and the ones that weren’t really witches at all, but innocent victims of their culture and circumstance. The apex of this horror that grew me will be the day I walk into the homestead of Rebecca Towne Nurse that still stands today in Danvers, Massachusetts (the original Salem Village) as a museum and feel some strange, magical, and witchy sense of coming home.

The Music of the Muse

Back when I was a kid, all the really cool movies had accompanying soundtracks. I was in love with these things. There was a section of my record collection devoted to Jesus Christ Superstar, Star Wars, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, The Dunwich Horror, The Hunger, and The Shining, just to name a few. With the black light on and the incense smoke swirling in the room, I listened to these just as much as I did all that screaming 80s hair band music and loved them just as much, if not more, because of the moods they would create. I can’t help but wonder if my parents thought maybe I was conjuring up old Beelzebub when some of these albums were playing … talk about your Devil Music!

While I was writing my first novel, an epic fantasy adventure called “The Pride”, I listened to a lot of Enya. She was big back in the 1990s. I even made a soundtrack for the novel, basing each selection on a certain scene and putting them in chronological order on the cassette tape. Good times.

I didn’t write much of anything but short stories and poetry in the ten years following “The Pride”. Since then, I’ve seen a lot of other author’s being asked if music plays a role in their writing. Most seemed to choose music of a similar genre to whatever they were writing in, to set a certain mood, I guess. The horror writers leaned towards dark, gothic stuff and metal. Romance writers seemed to linger in the Classical section. You get the idea.

For a long time, I needed near total silence in order to focus on my writing. Anything with words in it was completely distracting. I’d sing along instead of working. For a while, I’d use Mozart or Chopin for that simple reason, no singing! And then, for no recallable reason whatsoever, I had my headphones on listening to the Blues as I wrote. And I wrote, and I wrote, and I wrote. My fingers danced over the keyboard. One scene after another rolled out of me in thousands upon thousands of words. I was thrilled! What had I just discovered? Was this a fluke or had I stumbled upon my Muse’s music? The Blues seems a very odd choice to write Horror to.

In the years since this revelation, the effect has remained the same. BB King, Etta James, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, John Lee Hooker, and Stevie Ray Vaughn along with so many others would rock and croon their way into my writer’s brain, waking up that little Muse and sending her into action. It’s almost a fool proof way of smashing writer’s block. And if I can’t get any writing done even then, I know it’s time to save, close, and go do something else for a while, cuz if it isn’t happened then, it ain’t gonna happen.

How about you? Is there certain music that helps you progress with your chosen craft, be it writing, painting, scrap booking, or even housework? What kind of music inspires you and your Muse into motion?

The Horrors That Grew Me – Rod Serling

It was late summer as my husband and I traipsed around in a small, quiet, and isolated cemetery in the Finger Lakes Region of Upstate New York. We’d come to visit a grave, which was quite a normal thing to do in a cemetery. I’d only ever seen pictures of the headstone. I had never met the man buried there, but his influences on the mind of the young girl I once was and the woman I’d grow up to become, are immeasurable.

I’d hoped there would be some sort of map directing us to the grave. There wasn’t. Frustrated, I feared we’d come all this way for nothing. Although it wasn’t a big place, it was big enough to be intimidating at the thought of finding such an unimpressive headstone. We walked in different directions. Maybe ten minutes later, my husband’s voice beckoned. “Sweetheart? I think I found it.” My heart leaped as I surrendered my futile search and headed in his direction instead.

On Christmas Day 1924, in Syracuse, New York, Rodman E. Serling was born to Samuel and Esther Serling. When Rod was two, the family moved to Binghamton, New York where he would spend the remainder of his youth and graduate from high school in 1943. Binghamton is a mere 40 miles from the small town I grew up in and I’m currently only a dozen or so more miles further away. By the time I came into being, Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone had been cancelled for over a year. Lucky for me, re-runs of the program were very popular during my early, impressionable years and I ate them up like nobody’s business. I couldn’t then, and I still can’t, get enough of The Twilight Zone. If it’s New Year’s Eve\Day, you can be certain The Twilight Zone marathon is playing on my television.

I feel very at home with Rod Serling’s work and in his world. I can’t help but wonder if it’s because we grew up so very close to each other, in the same REAL world – give or take a few decades. It’s entirely possible he passed through my small hometown and knew the same streets, sights, and sounds of towns near me. Maybe his mother took him shopping at J.J. Newberry’s in Owego. It’s possible he enjoyed a beer or two at The John Barleycorn. It’s been there long enough. He most certainly knew the mighty Susquehanna River and the C.F.J. Carousel in Johnson City, and I dare even say he rode on it as a child, just as I did. Rod Serling feels almost like kin, even if it’s some distant, never-met cousin.


But it wasn’t just The Twilight Zone that captured my imagination, but his other series The Night Gallery whose pilot episode stared my all-time favorite actor, Roddy McDowall. (Serling was also a contributor to some of the Planet of the Apes screenplays, btw.) The first episode aired in 1969 and whole thing would be cancelled in 1973. The Night Gallery leaned more towards horror and suspense than TZ had, something I quickly picked up on as a budding writer and student of the macabre. Each episode took place in a fictional museum gallery, of which Mr. Serling was the curator. He would present to us, usually three, sometimes only two, paintings. The painting depicted a scene that was sometimes horrifying, sometimes seemingly quite innocent. Behind every image was a dark tale to be told. The first episode of the first season was called The Cemetery.

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I made quick work of finding my husband and approaching the grave he stood in front of. That was it, alright. Small, unassuming, level with the ground, and covered with offerings of pebbles, coins, pens, and a little green Army guy that had toppled off the back edge. I put the soldier back into place. Several of the stones had been painted on. “Best in Show RIP” one was marked. Another said, “Time At Last”. A third simply stated “Willoughby” after an episode of The Twilight Zone titled “A Stop At Willoughby”. It was this episode that Serling freely admitted to being his favorite of the first season. I looked down at the stone and said, with laughter on my lips, “Willoughby! Next stop, Willoughby!” Seeing the somewhat blank look in my husband’s face, I added, “You have no idea what that means, do you?” He admitted he didn’t.

A soft breath escaped me followed by a moment of silence as I looked back down at the grave, then the unexpected happened, the tears came. I was suddenly very sad and heartbroken, mourning a man I’d never met and only knew by his work I’d seen on television. I realized then how much I have always idolized Rod Serling and how hard I’d strived since day one of knowing that being a writer is what I wanted to be, to being even just a little, teensy-weensy bit, no matter how pale a shadow that may be, like him and his work.

DSCF3487 - CopyI pulled myself together as quickly as I could, wiped my tears, took some pictures and had my picture taken at the grave. The power of that visit has clung to me ever since, the emotions bubbling to the surface as the most unexpected times, and the gratitude I feel for all that Rod Serling brought into my world, felt through and through. On June 28th 1975, after two heart attacks and undergoing open heart surgery, Rodman E. Serling’s life succumbed to a third, fatal heart attack. He was fifty years old. Only a year younger than I am now. His funeral took place on July 2nd, followed by a memorial service at Cornell’s Sage Chapel on July 7th.

When we left that cemetery, I left a little piece of myself behind and took with me a much greater appreciation for the quiet, privacy in which one of my idols rests. I hope he’s found his way to Willoughby. RIP Mr. Serling, Rest In Peace.

Dusting Off The Cobwebs

I admit, I’ve been a lazy blogger as of late. It’s not that I don’t have anything to blog about. I have a regular weekly schedule that I try to keep on top of, but sometimes I just can’t get into it. My brain gets covered in cobwebs and there I sit, coated in them. I’ve got book and movie reviews I should be writing up and getting out. Maybe it’s because I’ve been trapped in editing mode for so long. I have been working on projects, trying to get several things wrapped up all at once for a new release. I haven’t been twiddling my thumbs entirely.

All that aside, I do have something to share! Last week I was asked by author Jason J. Nugent if I’d be interested in participating in his “Author Spotlight” blog feature. Of course, I said yes. There’s even a except from the soon-to-be released third book in the Barnesville Chronicles here!

FOLLOW THIS LINK over to Jason’s page and enjoy!

I’ll be writing up more reviews this week – at least that’s the plan – along with another installment of “The Horrors That Grew Me” and silently pecking away at the keyboard as I journey back to Barnesville and Meyer’s Knob in the year 1980!


The Horrors The Grew Me – Roddy McDowall

Actors like Robert Englund who played Freddie Kruger in the A Nightmare on Elm Street movies, Kathy Bates as Annie Wilkes in Stephen King’s Misery and her various creepy roles in the American Horror Story series, Vincent Price or Lon Chaney, and Linda Blair in her unforgettable performance as the possessed Regan McNeil in The Exorcist, are well known for their roles or series of roles in classic horror movies. Someone that most people don’t think of as being a horror actor, however, is British actor, Roddy McDowall.

I can’t remember a time in my life when I wasn’t totally in love with Roddy McDowall, nor do I remember the first of his films I saw. All I really knew is that save for one, who is still my bestie to this day, most of my friends had no idea who he was other than the guy who played Cornelius in The Planet of the Apes movies. He also played Galen in the TV series, by the way. But, oh, he did so very much more than that. As a fan of horror and thrillers from a very young age, his work within those genres is what I was most drawn to. For the sake of brevity and the purpose of this blog series, that is also where my focus will be.

HeartDark The earliest film of his that I’ve seen is based on the Joseph Conrad book of the same name, Heart of Darkness written in 1899. The film was presented by Playhouse 90, a television show that ran from 1956-1961, in 1958 and starred Roddy as the lead character of Charles Marlow alongside a man whose name is nearly synonymous with Horror, Boris Karloff, as Mr. Kurtz. Eartha Kitt did an amazing job as The Queen. Though not technically labeled a horror film, Heart of Darkness does, as the name suggests, delve into the very dark corners of man’s psyche and the corruption of the soul when given a taste of power.

Roddy made numerous appearances in popular paranormal or unexplained-themed television programs as well. McDowall starred in a 1960 episode of The Twilight Zone titled People Are Alike All Over, as well as appearing on the Alfred Hitchcock Hour in 1964 in episodes The Gentleman Caller and See The Monkey Dance. In 1980 and 1981 episodes of Fantasy Island, Roddy played the ultimate entity of horror and evil, the very devil himself, Mephistopheles.

My all-time favorite, however, was his role as Jeremy Evans in another Rod Serling NightGalleryseries, Night Gallery, which first aired in 1969. In this first episode of the first season titled The Cemetery, McDowall plays a heartless and greedy nephew who’s chomping at the bit to get at the inheritance. In fact, Jeremy flawlessly orchestrates the uncle’s death and quickly steps in as heir apparent before his uncle’s body has even begun to cool. All is well and good until Jeremy realizes one of the painting his uncle did years before is different. It’s a view of the family cemetery located near the house. Suddenly, there’s a freshly dug grave in the painting that wasn’t there before and Jeremy is convinced he’s hearing footsteps from beyond the grave.

Roddy also starred as comic-book villain The Bookworm in the Batman series in 1966 and was the voice of The Mad Hatter in the Batman cartoon series. Not exactly horror, but another example of the actor’s versatility as playing the bad guy. In 1964 Roddy appeared as Martin Ashely, a murderous gardener, in Shock Treatment and had the leading role as Arthur Primm in the creature-feature IT! (1967). Both of which I have already reviewed.

HellHouse One of my all-time favorite Roddy McDowall movies is The Legend of Hell House (1973) based on the novel Hell House by Richard Matheson. Here Roddy plays the role of physical medium Benjamin Franklin Fischer, the sole survivor of a previous group of investigators into the house of Emeric Belasco, a sexual deviant of Satanic proportions. Fischer and three others are hired by millionaire William Deutche, the home’s current owner, to investigate the house and prove or disprove life after death. Known as Hell House, the Belasco home got its name from the various perversions that took place there during Emeric’s lifetime and lays claim to the title as most haunted house in the world. Amazing, amazing movie!

You can’t discuss the subject of horror movies and Roddy McDowall without mentioning his portrayal of vampire slayer, Peter Vincent in Fright Night (1985) and Fright Night II (1988). In all honesty, the world probably could have done without the sequel, but the first movie is another huge favorite of mine. I mentioned it last month when I discussed that other horror that grew me, vampires. If you missed that post, here’s a quick link back to it – The Horrors That Grew Me – Vampires.

DeadWinter In 1987 the movie Dead of Winter came out. It starred Mary Steenburgen as Katie McGovern, a struggling actress who answers an ad placed for open-call auditions. When Katie walks into the room, the man conducting the interviews, Mr. Murray played by McDowall, pays her little mind until he looks up. She’s hired instantly. The role will involve Katie traveling with Murray to an isolated location where she will study the role and replace another actress who suffered a nervous breakdown some time earlier. Katie was hired because of her striking resemblance to this other woman, Julie Rose. However, there’s a lot more to all this than just replacing a fellow actress. A lose remake of the 1945 film My Name Is Julia Rose, Dead of Winter takes some remarkably dark twists and turns, not the least of which involves Katie finding a notebook full of Polaroids of Julie’s corpse!

On October 3, 1998 Roderick Andrew Anthony Jude McDowall died of cancer at the age of 70. I was devastated and heartbroken. Maybe he wasn’t a heart throb actor to the rest of the world, but for me, he was a huge and deeply loved part of my childhood. He was the one and only actor I ever wrote to requesting from, and later receiving, an autographed picture of. That picture is now safely tucked away with other important papers like my marriage license and property survey, in a locked, fireproof box. It’s simply that precious to me.

To end on a light note, I can’t help but share this wonderful video put together by fellow Roddy McDowall fan, Melanie Hall called Roddy Gets His Sexy On. Again, not horror at all, but a wonderful tribute to a man who acted and smiled his way into my Horror-loving heart.

The Day I Wore Fangs

I seem normal enough on the surface. I don’t have crazy or colorful hair. I don’t dress in any shocking manner. The only piercings I have are in my ears and the few tattoos I have aren’t seen all that often. Yup, just a normal, everyday kind of gal …until you start asking around, that is.

If you were to approach some of my childhood friends, mainly from my high school days, you’d get the inkling that maybe this normal thing is all an act. Or maybe I’ve just outgrown the black fingernails, eyeliner, and lipstick. Maybe dressing all in black every day, muttering in Latin, and sitting in the corner of the school cafeteria at lunchtime alone with my nose buried in some sort of occult-themed novel or research book was all just a fad; something I’ve grown out of as my mother so fervently prayed I would.

Or maybe in my dotage, I’ve just toned those things down a bit, just a bit. I still have my moments, like the day I wore fangs.

It was about ten years ago, making me about forty years old at the time.

Ever since I first began watching all those vampire movies, I’ve wanted a pair of realistic-looking fangs. I wondered how Hollywood did it. I considered talking to my dentist about it, but never did. Even if had dental insurance, I’m pretty sure they’d not cover something like that. I attempted to craft my own numerous times, adapting those cheap plastic things, buying different sorts every October hoping against hope that at last I’d found The Ones! I even tried to make some out of wax, but nothing had that real look I was striving for.

And then, the internet and online shopping happened. I found a site that looked promising, , but I didn’t get my hopes up too high. I’d been disappointed before. $30 seemed an awful lot for fake fangs, but my primal urges screamed out for satisfaction. I ordered them. They arrived in a little coffin-shaped case. I remained skeptical.

One day while I was home alone, I decided it was time to put that $30 to the test. The results? Amazing! I couldn’t have been happier! Not only did these fangs look real, they allowed me to drink (no, not blood – I’m not QUITE that off) as long as I was mindful and to eat, though somewhat awkwardly.

The following July, I bought them in October, I decided to step up my game. I was no longer satisfied to just wear them around the house and yard. It was time to go public and what better way than to just pop them in on a Friday morning after brushing my teeth while getting ready for work?

I don’t work with the public much, but I do have a few office mates. My goal was to just act natural and go about my day, not to flash the fangs at everyone I met or spoke to. Let’s see who notices! There’ not a lot of chit-chat in my office, but my boss did eventually take note. She rolled her eyes and laughed. “Only you, Pam,” she said. “Only you.” By the end of the day, half a dozen people were aware I was in vampire mode.

It being the Friday after payday, it was also grocery day! Directly after work I headed over to one of the bigger grocery stores in town. No one noticed as I picked out my fresh fruits and vegetables, coffee, milk, butter, and eggs. I was paid no mind at the check-out as I unloaded the cart and helped bag things up. And then the cashier, a young man in his early-mid-20s, told me my total and glanced up. I gave him a slight smile as I opened my check book. There was a flicker of surprise in his eyes. His mouth dropped open for a fraction of a second, then he looked away and refused to make further eye contact.

A few minutes later, I pushed my packed cart out of the store and towards my car, wondering about the conversation that likely arose from the lad’s encounter with the normal-looking lady with fangs who had just exited the building.

I did this several more times, but the first time was the sweetest and most memorable. Now I just need to get some of those weird-colored contact lenses …maybe something along the lines of lizard eyes.


Into The Mansion

Somewhere, once upon a time, I learned an interesting theory about dreams. That theory stated that certain rooms represented certain aspects of the dreamer’s psyche. If you dream of a bedroom, for instance, that’s believed to have something to do with sexuality and intimacy. If you dream of a kitchen, that’s your domestic side, a living room was considered your social, public self … and so on. That, in part is what Into The Mansion is about.

Not long ago in Facebook Land, I shared that I was working on something somewhat different than my usual Horror novel fare. Oh, it’s still about a big, creepy, old house, but instead of prose – it’s poetry. It’s not a new poem. It was written in 1995, though parts of it existed long before that in the world of my dreams.

Instead of just posting it here and forcing you all to read, I’ve created a 7-minute video of the poem that I narrate. It took more times than I care to mention to get a recording I was happy with and though it’s still not perfection – it will do.

And so, without further delay – I extend a hand and say, “Come with me …



Why I Love Horror

How can you watch that stuff? Don’t those books give you nightmares? I’ve been hearing these questions for as long as I can remember. That’s what happens when you’re a horror fan. I recently put up a link on my Facebook page directing people to Lyndon Johnson’s blog where he explains why he loves horror. It’s a great answer to a question millions of us have posed to us as Horror fans.

Looking back, I’m going to have to guess that this horror madness all started with Nancy Drew. No, the series isn’t known as one of horror, but it’s certainly chock full of spooky settings, mysteries, and possible paranormal activities. A lot like Scooby-Do without the hippie van.

Following Saturday morning cartoons, we were treated to a show called “Monster Movie Matinee” broadcast out of Syracuse, NY. They featured all manner of horror movies, mainly creature features like Godzilla or Creature from the Black Lagoon.

As I entered my teens, my reading and movie choices got a little bit darker. By high school I was reading Stephen King, Anne Rice, along with the truly bizarre world of Tanith Lee, and ANY vampire novel I could get my hands on. I graduated to watching Twilight Zone, Outer Limits, Kolchek: That Night Stalker, and Night Gallery along with the late night horror movies brought to me courtesy of “EIVOM” that tended to favor Hammer Films or such fantastic movies as The Other, The Legend of Hell House, Let’s Scare Jessica to Death, The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane, or my all-time favorite horror movie, The Haunting of Hill House.  The arrival of cable TV to our little town in the early 1980s was mind-blowing! Horror movies I wasn’t old enough to see in the theater were brought to me through HBO or Cinemax, not to mention the craze that was sweeping the nation … Blockbuster movie rentals!

But, all this doesn’t really answer the question of WHY I love horror so much. Why horror instead of Science Fiction or Romance, for example?

Romance novels were in a word, yawn. My grandmother read them by the hundreds. She’d come home from work every now and then with a big box full of Harlequins. Sometimes there’d be a few Westerns in there that she’d give to my grandfather. I did read a few of the Harlequins, but very quickly I realized they all followed a very set plot. Oh, there was some variations, but not much and they became SO predictable I lost interest after only a handful.

And maybe that’s part of answer, in a way, predictability.

Every now and then, in that big old box of books, there’d be a horror novel. I still have two of those books from those days, The Owlsfane Horror by Duffy Stein which was the first (and I think only) book that ever scared me so much I had to stop reading it at night. The other is Edmond Hamilton’s sci-fi novel, City At World’s End. Both made lasting impressions, but I definitely enjoyed the fear created by Owlsfane more. Why?

Apart from the Planet of the Apes series, I’ve never been able to really get into the Sci-Fi scene. Though, I do love aliens and anything to do with UFOs (as long as they’re real-life accounts) and was a huge fan of Logan’s Run, they never thrilled or chilled me like the scary movies did.  They didn’t make me wonder what was going on. Was it something real that would be explained away at the end, like the Nancy Drew books and Scooby-Do cartoons? Or would it be something paranormal like a haunting?

Outer space, the future, or beings from another world confuse me. Even though I’m fascinated by UFOs, have SEEN a UFO, and accept the probability of there being others out there, I can’t relate to it on a personal level. My smart phone all too often bewilders me so how can I even begin to try and comprehend or visualize something that describes technology of the future? It’s interesting, but not enthralling.

Horror enthralls me. It captures my known senses of fear, apprehension, and profound curiosity. It ignites in my imagination the questions of what may or may not be dwelling beside me at any given moment in any given place. Are the spirits of the dead beside me? Can we really talk to them? Photograph them? Do some people possess supernatural powers and the abilities to manipulate their surroundings? What other beings, considered paranormal, exist right here on this very earth we call home and why can’t we all see them?

Horror piques my curiosity. It makes me wonder. It inspires me to delve deeper into the history of unexplained events that have been happening on Earth for hundreds of years. It gives me goosebumps and it makes me feel alive. It’s not predictable, it doesn’t make me yawn, and because of personal experiences, I can totally related to it.

That’s why I love Horror.

To find out why Lyndon Johnson loves horror  CLICK HERE