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 

Creating An Urban Legend

With Dark Hollow Road out of my hair for the next couple of months, I’ve been working on The Witch’s Backbone. Thanks to NaNoWriMo last month, I was able to buckle down and decide on the opening scene and yesterday wrapped up Chapter 10. Many of you will be happy to hear that we’ve moved back to Barnesville and surrounding areas for this one. The big difference is, we’ve taken a step back in time to the summer of 1980, where Nell’s knowledge of the macabre, magic, and witchcraft probably isn’t going to be of much use.

I’ve always had an interest in old legends and folklore, especially ones that relate to a specific location or things like Bloody Mary, where you stand in front of a mirror and say her name three times to summon the spirit of Mary Worth, a woman who is reputed to have been hung for witchcraft. What happens after that, I’ve no idea. We tried it as kids. Nothing happened. There’s one about a phantom hitchhiker who vanishes from the back seat of the car of anyone who dares pick her up. Usually she’s found walking some lonely stretch of highway in the rain. Where I come from, she’s wandering around Devil’s Elbow.

Folklore takes me back to the dark old days where fairy tales are born and stories of vampire, werewolves, and witches capturing children with houses made of candy to entice them in for a sweet snack. Things like the Scottish Kelpie that normally looks like a sort of water horse, but has the ability to shape shift to fool its victims, are pretty cool. There’s Black Shuck, a ghost dog, who roams the wilds of England and the Strigoi that you might know better as a vampire. And who doesn’t love to hear the eerie and lonesome scream of the Banshee at night? Ah, what beautiful music she makes!

I toyed with the Shadow Man (or the Hat Man, as he’s also called), in my murder-mystery, That’s What Shadows Are Made Of. While doing research on that, I chanced on The Night Hag or simple just The Hag and something called Old Hag Syndrome. The name of the phenomenon comes from the superstitious belief that a witch – or an old hag – sits on the chest of the victims, rendering them immobile. Old Hag Syndrome is often used as a way to explain a medical condition called Sleep Paralysis, which is reported to also happen when The Hat Man is paying a visit.

This poem also came to mind. I can’t say who wrote it, but judging by the wording, it seems pretty old.

If at night ye dare t’roam,
along the twisted, witch’s backbone,
avert thy gaze, meet not her eye,
or cursed thy life and soon t’die.

Thee won’t find her flying o’er the trees,
but lurking amongst the molded leaves,
and crawling in the stony crags,
in the stagnant filth, this loathsome Hag.

She’ll seek you out forever after,
making thy death her cruelest laughter
as sits she upon thy sleeping chest,
to draw from thee thy final breath.

Avoid the dangerous paths she treads.
Stay safe and sound within thy bed,
for ‘tis always best to neither walk nor ride,
along the witch’s backbone at night.

I liked the whole idea of The Hag and having had some firsthand experience with Sleep Paralysis as a teenager, thus knowing the amount of terror it can generate, decided I needed to put my spin on that piece of ancient folklore in the form of a small town urban legend. Thus was born The Witch’s Backbone.

Every kid in the area knows the rhyme associated with the witch and when twelve-year-old Tara Fielding finds herself staring back into the eyes of what she believes to be that loathsome hag, she freaks out. She and her friends decide the only way to know if the legend is true or not, (and to learn if Tara is about to meet an early death) is to spend the night camping near where she claims to have made eye contact with the creature. It’s an area in the woods, halfway between the county dump and the rocky ravine the witch is reported to haunt known as The Witch’s Backbone.

Good times, my friends, freaky good times!

Write On!

A Turtle In A Field Of NaNo Hares

Apparently I created a NaNoWriMo account three years ago. I have no memory of creating it, but when I decided to join this year, I discovered one already existed. For those who don’t know, NaNoWriMo = National Novel Writing Month. The premise is that for the month of November you write 1667 words per day to reach a goal of 50,000 by the end of the month. This is supposed to be either a complete novel (I’d call that a novella, but anyway…) or a very good start on a longer work to be completed later.

As I was having such a hard time getting into gear with “The Witch’s Backbone” I decided to give NaNoWriMo a shot. It couldn’t make matters worse and from what I’d read it’s supposed to be all inspirational and you can find writing buddies to motivate you and join all kinds of chat forums to compare notes and talk about your book. So far, I’ve not been overly inspired by any of the automated messages I’ve been sent, I don’t have a single writing buddy, and I figured I had better things to do (um, like actual WRITING) than chit-chatting with others about the books we’re working on.

First off, I don’t have the time to write 1667 words a day. Sorry. I work a full time job and I sit at a computer from 7:30am – 4:00pm. Very often the LAST thing I am interested I doing when I get home at the end of the day is to sit down at my home computer for any reason. I’m tired. My mental focus isn’t always entirely intact. It’s certainly not going to be all that sharp to write anything I’d be proud of and frankly, I’d rather write something half way decent than crap just so I can say I made my daily word count. When it comes to my writing, that’s simply not how I operate. I’m a turtle not a hare. I’ll take my time and do quality over quantity.

That being said, you guessed it, with only ten days left I’ve not even reached 25,000 words towards this alleged ‘win’. I haven’t reached 20,000 either. I’m averaging 878 words per day. I guess that’s something interesting to know.

Will I do NaNoWriMo again next year? I don’t know. A lot depends on where I am with what is already out there and what stage other projects are at. I’m trying to stay positive, but lately it’s just not been going as well as I’d hoped. Sales are abysmal. What I have sold isn’t bringing in the amount of reviews needed to get anyone’s attention. Queries are answered with silence. Places I’ve been encouraged to submit to aren’t taking submissions. It all has a way of dragging a hopeful author down. All I have are a few little straws to hang onto and my hands are getting tired.

I’ve been told, “You’re doing all the right things.” and “Just keep writing great stories and putting them out there.” Considering the source of that advice and encouragement, that’s nothing to ignore or brush aside, but after so many other dead ends, I still feel very discouraged and lost. I’m doing my best and for the past five years, my best just hasn’t been good enough.

But, I hate to end a post on a negative note so …

On the positive side of this NaNoWriMo business, I have made progress on the novel! There are things I know about what’s going to happen that I never even imagined when all this started, some rather shocking things! Things I really DON’T want to have happen, but know they must to move the plot along in the way it needs to go. When I was reading Stephen King’s “Pet Sematary” a friend of mine who’d read it before would ask me every day, “Did the cat die yet?” The death of the cat in that book is pivotal to the novel. After the cat dies, all hell breaks loose! It’s that sort of little kick in the pants event that I really wasn’t expecting to have to deal with, but boy, will it get the point across! I look forward to it with a strange mixture of dread and delight.

I’d be interested to hear from others who have used NaNoWriMo and what your experiences were with it. Good, Bad, Indifferent?