Monthly Archives: September 2011

GhoStory Guru: “At the End of the Pier” by Len Maynard & Mick Sims

As you can imagine, I’ve read many excellent ghost stories; it’s always a pleasure when I discover a new one to add to my “favorites list.”

What makes a favorite? Technically, it’s got to have all the qualities of a well-written short story: character/conflict/crisis/change (or lack thereof); fine motiving; tactile atmosphere; elements which come to fruition, a few more. Emotionally? It’s got to pierce my marrow, obliterate reality, and leave me gasping, “Wow!”

Maynard & Sims’ “At the End of the Pier” does all that and more. To the subtle “Everyman” twist on Poe’s trigger theory exhibited in such tales as “The Tell-Tale Heart” to an atmosphere so well-crafted we can taste the sea spray, “At the End of the Pier” is perfection. Every ghost story lover should curl up with a cup of tea or a glass of wine in his favorite spot, take a time out from life, and enjoy.

“At the End of the Pier” appears in Maynard & Sims’ fine collection Echoes of Darkness, published by Sarob Press in 2000. Few copies are available, and they are mostly second-hand. However, if you have a Kindle (or Kindle for PC), you can purchase the entire collection here:


To read an interview of Maynard & Sims written by Peter D. Schwotzer, visit here:

To learn more about the Echoes of Darkness collection, visit here:

GhoStory Guru: “The Highboy” by Alison Lurie

Ever had an inanimate object give you the creeps? If you have, then you’ll identify strongly with Alison Lurie’s disturbing “The Highboy.” If you haven’t? Then this story is the best way to connect with that feeling without having to go through it (yes, I know, cheap thrill).

What gives this story its creep-factor—well, other than the very subject itself—is Lurie’s diction: this modern tale is peppered with antiquated words and phrases to invoke the feel of many of the classics.

Read “The Highboy” and the next time you go into your dining room, you might just give that really ugly inherited antique a second glance.

“The Highboy” is found in Lurie’s 1994 collection, Women & Ghosts. You can purchase it here:


Don’t keep Skeletons your little secret…make no bones about it! T-shirts, tote bags, magnets available now…other gear coming soon. Make great gifts for that hard-to-buy-forDisneyPark fan that has everything!

You can head on over to the Haunted Disney Tales website and check it out here:





The Smoking Poet’s Zinta Aistars recently gave Skeletons in the Swimmin’ Hole—Tales from Haunted Disney World an in-depth review, noting that the stories “are imaginative, and each one, in its own way, left me squirming a bit in discomfort as ghost stories should…If horror isn’t exactly my favorite genre, certainly not my area of expertise, I respect the skill it requires to craft stories that have a haunting quality—whether of light or of shadow. Schoonover can play well with shadows.”

I was really excited to read this review, especially since I know that Ms. Aistars isn’t a fan of horror stories.

It’s posted in the latest issue of The Smoking Poet and a few other places. You can read it here:

The Smoking Poet:

On Zinta Reviews:

On Lunch Network:

“Amusement Parks Have Shadows,  Too…”


Put a scare in your September—stop by the New England Horror Writers’ booth at the Hebron Harvest Fair Thursday, September 8-Sunday, September 11.

I’ll be there with horror writers including Danny Evarts, Dan Foley, Scott Goudsward (Shadows Over New England), Dan Keohane (Solomon’s Grave), Stacey Longo, TJ May (Ill Conceived), Kurt Newton (Black Butterflies), and Jennifer Yarter-Polmatier (The Coven: The Tale of the Vampire Nigel)—at last count; I’m sure there will be more.

We’ll be selling books, T-shirts, and more at the table, and there will also be a special raffle featuring signed books by authors like Stephen King, so don’t miss it!

The fair’s hours are:

Thursday, September 8: 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Friday, September 9: Noon to 11 p.m.

Saturday, September 10: 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Sunday, September 11: 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

I’ll be there at various times beginning 9 p.m. on Friday through 11 a.m. or so on Sunday, so if you’re up that way, come see me!

The Hebron Harvest Fair will be held at the Hebron Lions Fairgrounds, Route 85, 347 Gilead Street, Hebron, Connecticut. For more information, directions, admission prices and much, much more, visit their official website:

Me in the New England Horror Writers’ new T-shirts. I’m not sure if they’ll be sold at Hebron, but they will definitely be available at Rock & Shock in October and AnthoCon in November.

Me with the New England Horror Writers’ new Booth Banner for events. It was designed by Danny Evarts; I just handled ordering it. Its arrival was totally exciting!

GhoStory Guru: “Ghostwriter” by Edward Lodi

The ghost story has developed enough over the years that there are certain plots, characters, settings, and themes that pop up over and over again to the point at which they are considered cliché. Sometimes, use of these can make for tired reading: this is like “XX” by Poe/Hawthorne/Whoever; this has been done to death; I suspect I know how this ends, so I’m not going to bother to finish.

Yet, there is a place in the ghost story canon for some of these—because they work. In the hands of the right person—who is usually doing this intentionally—a few of these slightly skewed and combined can still make for a read that ends in surprise and is one hell of a joyride on the way.

What’s difficult about placing a story of this ilk is the level of skill required to spot one. Some haven’t studied the genre enough to understand the technique; case in point: my short story “Denigrating David,” was rejected by a few people, and the one that impressed me the least was from someone who wrote, “Our reader says there are things wrong with this that can’t be fixed.” The one that impressed me the most was from an editor who totally understood and appreciated what I was doing, but didn’t care for it and took the time to discuss what she thought might have been done differently. Three other editors, however, were quite pleased and all the acceptances, strangely, came in on the same day—I chose the one that came in first. It now appears in State of Imagination’s Issue 3.

“Ghostwriter,” by Edward Lodi, is a piece like “Denigrating.” In his introduction to the story, he writes that he found the manuscript in a drawer and realized he’d written it 25 years before—but didn’t remember why he’d shoved it aside for that long. I could guess—and I’m glad he chose to get it in print.

I can’t tell you what he used or how he skewed them because I will ruin it for those of you that are curious enough to check it out. But I can tell you that if you love the classic horror and ghost story hallmarks you’d find in Poe or even Lovecraft, but you’re looking for something that’s fresh and still going to surprise you, then “Ghostwriter” is a fun, uncomplicated, chilling little chocolate in which you just have to indulge.

“Ghostwriter” can be found in Till Human Voices Wake Us…The Lost Ghost Stories of Edward Lodi, which was published in 2009 in a limited run of 400 copies. It’s a beautiful volume, and should be on every ghost story lover’s shelf. The original price was $27.50, and there are a couple near that in stock through Amazon Marketplace here:





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