Monthly Archives: May 2012

Twisting the Ordinary: Daniel Pearlman on tonight’s Scary Scribes

Daniel Pearlman

Daniel Pearlman knocks back a cold one at The Mews in Wakefield, Rhode Island, August, 2010.

Want to twist up your Memorial Day weekend? Join Scary Scribes for a reading of Daniel Pearlman’s “The Fetal Position” tonight at 6 p.m. on the Paranormal, Eh? Radio Network here:

This author of two novels and several collections of short stories lived in Spainfor years, and his fantastical stories and novellas began appearing in 1987 in magazines and anthologies such as New England Review, Quarterly West, The MacGuffin, Nemonymous, Amazing Stories, Synergy, and Simulations. In 1995 he founded CLF, Council for the Literature of the Fantastic, whose object was to promote recognition of ignored work of literary quality in fantastic fiction. The project lasted through 1999, but has subsequently been taken up at other websites. He’s an active Member of the SFWA (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America).

Pearlman re-casts ordinary objects and has a knack for giving historic events an unexpected twist or two. If you’re looking for an interesting ride, his stories are the ticket.

Daniel Pearlman’s Website (includes a comprehensive list of all of his books)

A Giant in the House & Other Excesses

Free Work Online

“Flies,” a story at Infinity Plus

“The Ground Under Man,” story at IFiction

“Unlike the Burbs,” a short-short at The Montreal Review

52 Weeks of Spam: Winners, May 7-21


Winners, Week of May 7:

(From the Spam Filter)

Marin Stiely x

I want to say that this article is awesome, nice written and include almost all significant infos.

I’m so glad the significant little infos have found a nice written home. I hate those sad commercials. 


Winners, Week of May 14:

(From the Spam Filter, posted under “52 Weeks of Spam: Winners, Week of February 20”):

buy shoes x

My brother suggested I would possibly like this web site. He was once totally right. This publish actually made my day. You cann’t consider simply how much time I had spent for this information! Thank you!

Since the Spam post the Week of February 20 had to do with an offshore bank account services place in Panama informing me of an event that happened in Rhode Island a year and a half ago, I’m wondering if this person can time travel. I’m honored my publish could help.


Winners, Week of May 21:

(From the Spam Filter)

rsgyydwyrc x

Submitted on 2012/03/15 at 1:51 pm

wdjyolsjtujqfufstfotdippopwfs, vakuoxyvme, [url=]uislmzngzo[/url], vakuoxyvme

Oh, shit. The aliens have landed.

Everybody hates Spam—it fills up your Inbox (unless you’ve got G-mail, which does a great job of putting it in an appropriately-labeled folder), clogs your blog (WordPress does a great job filtering, too), and can threaten your computer’s security.

I have to say though, I love my Spam. It cracks me up—it’s poorly spelled, illiterate, and often leaves me wondering who would be dumb enough to click on the link for whatever product/service/lottery winning from mysterious relative in a country you’ve never heard of. So I decided in 2012 I’d go through my Spam each week and pick my favorites to share with the world. I remove the sender and any links that might be damaging (plus, who wants to give them press?).

See you next week! If you get any great Spam, you can post it here, just strip any links and the sender’s e-mail. And be sure to say something in the post to let me know you’re real. Otherwise I might think you’re…well, Spam.

Our Fetish for Zuni

Zuni Fetish Doll, Trilogy of Terror

The Zuni Fetish Doll from 1974’s Trilogy of Terror

The mention of 1974’s Trilogy of Terror sometimes results in a blank stare until I jog it by adding: “you know, the one with the nasty doll that chases a woman around her apartment?”

The memory is suddenly fresh: “That doll scared me so much as a kid! I had nightmares for weeks!”

Yeah, we love that Zuni fetish doll, but why? The answer lies in what he represents. I take a look in “Our Fetish for Zuni: Why we’ll never escape ‘that doll’” over at the Dark Discussions Podcast Article Library here:

Review: In Haunted Houses: The Greatest Stories, Spooky Dwellings Get a Fresh Coat of Paint

Haunted Houses Review Art

I suppose it could be argued that there isn’t a “new” way to write a haunted house story—how many unique things can you really do with a haunted house, after all?—but after reading Haunted Houses: The Greatest Stories, edited by Martin H. Greenberg, if such an argument were ever to be presented, I’d be on the side of the defense.

This collection isn’t short on classics—Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper,” Lovecraft’s “The Rats in the Walls” and Stoker’s “The Judge’s House”—nor is it short on some standardly-hallmarked, but still fun, pieces: Henry Slesar’s “The Right Kind of House” if you love a nail-biting mystery;  Robert Aickman’s “The School Friend” if you love a little odd romance; “The Haunting of Shawley Rectory” if you like a ghost hunt; Michael Raeves’ “The Tearing of Graymare,” if you like a good scare.

But it’s the several stories with unique takes that make this collection a must-have.

Robert Bloch’s “Lizzie Borden Took an Axe,” while I found had one unbelievable moment as a character leaps to rather sudden conclusion (I would have founded this with at least one mention or thought earlier on in the story so it didn’t feel like it came out of nowhere), is a riveting page-turner while simultaneously creating a sense of leaden, pondering dread in the middle of a summer day through the use of a decay motif. And the subtly-foreshadowed ending is a total shocker. I won’t provide any other spoilers here except to note that the story is not about Lizzie Borden, but if you really want to make this one hell of a ride, you’d do well to read Angela Carter’s “The Fall River Axe Murders” first (Carter’s short was first published in 1981 and again in 1985; Bloch’s was first published in 1946. Who knows if Carter read Bloch’s story, but I find the connection between the two makes me think Carter may have been directly inspired).

Joyce Carol Oates’ “The Doll” is what you’d expect of her unique psychological horror, but when applied to the haunted house story, it’s definitely not what you’d expect (think about the story’s title a little bit and you might figure out why)—and deals a wallop of a commentary on the long reach of our childhood’s shadows. Similar in theme is William F. Nolan’s “Dark Winner,” which isn’t surprising, since he’s the genius behind Logan’s Run. What is surprising about “Dark Winner” is the storytelling itself. I won’t spoil it, but I will say that it’s tough to pull of this particular style and not bore the crap out of your readers. Nolan not only nails it, he gets the job done quick and dirty. I couldn’t put the story down. Charles L. Grant’s “The Children, They Laugh So Sweetly” also looks at the haunted house in connection with children, but through the eyes of—if I even mention it, I’ll blow the story’s surprise ending.

Years ago, I’d read Jack L. Chalker’s “No Hiding Place” and had loved it—and given its completely odd take on the Haunted House, I’m not surprised it was included in this collection (it appeared in his 1988 collection Dance Band on the Titanic, which had, that year, been a birthday gift from my Dad): this one will trash everything you know about haunted house lore.

The most fun piece, though, is Margaret St. Claire’s “The House in Bel Aire.” This is one take on a haunted house story that was so fresh I had to read it twice. For all the haunted house tales I’ve read over the years, I can’t think of any even remotely reminiscent of this one. I have never read anything like this and I’m pretty sure you haven’t either.

Anthologies and collections can be uneven, and this one is no exception. Just as there are solid and creative stories in this collection, there are weaker ones, too.

I felt that Edward Bryant’s “Teeth Marks,” which started off in a gripping, chilling voice, collapsed because it was told from alternating POVs; it was like walking on an uneven floor. Elizabeth Bowen’s “The Cat Jumps,” despite its well-developed atmosphere, was peopled with cardboard characters, lacked suspense, and had a what-the-hell-does-this-have-to-do-with-the-last-five-pages-I-just-struggled-through? ending.

I didn’t mention all the stories in here; there are a few more, and Greenberg’s introduction alone, in which he examines why tainted home stories are scary, makes the purchase of this book a worthwhile endeavor. So if spooky dwellings are your thing, you should own this collection.

It definitely puts a fresh coat of paint on the old haunted house.

You can purchase Haunted Houses: The Greatest Stories by Martin Harry Greenberg at Amazon here:

Miss Storytown USA? It’s in living color here!

StorytownBlog-CarnivalPostScreenShotSometimes you wake up and find a nice surprise in your Inbox. Today was one of those days.

I have very special memories of a place called StorytownUSA, which is now the Great Escape, inLake George,New York. One of the joys of today’s Internet is that it grows and grows, and if you’re looking for information or photos of something totally obscure from your childhood, Google it. Chances are you’ll find something—and if you don’t, wait a few months and try again. I’ve reconnected with so many amazing things, things I thought were lost forever, things I thought that only I was obsessed with. Thanks to the Internet, I’ve found there are loads of people just like me. None of us need dwell in isolation anymore.

That said, after my father passed away, I got my hands on tons of old photo albums loaded with goodies from my past. Each postcard or random shot of any of the amusement parks we visited became a treasure. There was, however, precious little ofStorytown,USA. Because of an article I was writing called “The Call of the Carnival,” I wanted more information.

I found a wonderful site called Storytown USA; a retrospective at I signed up to follow the blog immediately and, although my article “The Call of the Carnival” was published in July 2010, I have never stopped looking forward to the site’s posts. Every few weeks, new information and photos, new details appear. The site, in the past two years, has gotten quite massive.

Today I woke up and found that he wrote about “The Call of the Carnival” and his own reaction to it. Needless to say, it’s a big honor for me to be included in the only online, comprehensive “Storytown Museum.”

If you are a fan of Storytown USAand it’s beginning to languish in your memories, fear not. It’s alive forever at If you want to see what he said about “The Call of the Carnival,” you can check that out here:

Thank you, universe. I needed that today.

The Traveling Writer: Ten Things You Should Own for Promotional Events

These are the photo easels I mentioned. You can pick them up for about $4 at Michael's Crafts.

I’ve been doing events for ages, and my first few weren’t easy. No one had a must-have list, and I had to learn by doing. Today I’m sparing you all of that.

So, here are the ten things every writer should have in his “Traveling Promotional Toolkit” (other than, obviously, your books/product). If you’re with a larger writing promotional organization, such as Broad Universe, there’s a good chance you won’t have to worry about some things on this list, like the table and tablecloths. But you should own them anyway, because at some point, you will probably be going solo.

Interestingly enough, these ten items won’t break your bank—in fact, if you buy everything at once, your investment is going to be well under $100 and most of that you’ll never have to replace—but they’re absolutely essential if you’re going to take your show on the road.

Table/Chair: Card tables aren’t that expensive. Pick one up and keep it in your basement. If you don’t use it for going on the road, believe me, you’ll find some other use for it the next time you throw a party. A decent card table can run you anywhere from $20 on up. Some come with four or five chairs and start at about $50—but as far as chairs go, anything from home will do. Even those fold-up lawn chairs are fine. But you should have one in case the venue doesn’t.

Tablecloth: You can bring a cloth one from home you already own, but since I’m a horror writer I like to get funky and use something appropriate. Plastic tablecloths, which you can get at any party store and start at, like, a buck, are the best choice, because you can customize them to the event (you might not want to bring your blood-spatter design to a hospital benefit, for example), and you can toss them when they get worn out. I usually get several uses out of them and have a few different designs on hand, especially during October, when I’m doing four or five events in a row and want to change it up. You’ll find you also won’t mind loaning out the plastic ones, either. These are the most frequent things you’ll replace other than your handouts (see below).

Plastic Tubs: A must. All your books and materials stay dry and in mint shape. The tubs are also easy to carry, and make for a great “table” to put your drinks and food so they don’t go on your signing table, putting your product at risk.

Book Stands: Sure, you can lay your books down on the table, but if they’re standing up, they’re easier to spot, plus they instantly look serious. You don’t have to spend a fortune to own an industrial book stand: these are the poor man’s POP (point-of-purchase) displays. All you have to do is visit Michael’s Crafts and head down the framing/photo aisles; they’re referred to as easels, they’re portable, and they’re cheap. The ones pictured above, which fold easily, are about $3.99 each, and if you get Michael’s coupons in the weekly paper, then they’re even less. If you wanna go nuts, they have some pretty cool wrought-iron ones. Those are on my Christmas list. If you don’t have a Michael’s, craft or hobby stores should carry them. They are also, I think, available through Amazon.

Handouts/Flyers: The idea with a handout or flyer is to provide something of value: content your readers will take home and possibly keep for awhile or use—this is the idea behind what today we refer to as “swag” (years ago when I worked for a firm we called them CM’s–“collateral materials”) such as magnets, bottle openers, and pens. The good news is, since you’re a writer, you don’t have to spend the bucks on promotional items if you can’t afford them. An easy, better, and less expensive way to market your work is to take a short story (preferably one that’s published) or a sample from one of your books and copy it. You can then staple your business card, postcard – or simply a flyer with your website and where people can purchase the book – to those copies and hand them out. You may not think it works, but it does result in at least a few residual sales (a residual sale is when a person purchases your work after the show is over).

Pens/Markers/Paper: Don’t laugh. This may seem like a no-brainer, but I’ve been to book signings at big box retailers (Barnes & Noble, Costco, and the like) and the author didn’t have pens that worked. Invest in a box of Bics. And while you’re at it, pick up a few Sharpies, too. Also make sure you have a notepad or extra paper – it comes in handy if you need to make notes, keep sales records, or make a sign. Just keep them in your travel tub.

Sign Holders: These are those plastic one-offs that stand on their own into which you can insert your own flyer, sign, photo, or whatever and the beauty is you can prepare one and use it over and over; you can also change them out frequently but keep a file of different ones on hand and avoid having to print new sheets every time you need something different. They add to your professional appearance and come in a multitude of vertical and horizontal styles and sizes. The best place to get them is at Staples, and you can spend as little as $4.00 each.

Tape: One word: MacGyver.

Plastic Shopping Bags: to offer to customers who purchase your product, and to use for just about anything else, including those empty Dunkin’ Donuts coffee cups and Tab cans. One box of 100 costs about $13 at Staples or Office Max, and it’ll take you awhile to go through them.

Decorations/Candy: Something festive to dress up your table is always helpful because it broadcasts I have passion for what I do, and a bowl of individually-wrapped candies is always pretty, especially around Halloween, because it shows you have a sense of fun. And after all, who doesn’t want to Trick or Treat?

This article originally appeared on the New England Horror Writers Blog on April 15, 2012, at the URL

Review: Eerie Britain is a Premiere Introduction for the Unfamiliar

Non-fiction paranormal books are my guilty pleasure—they’re always light fare, an escape, and usually inspire a short story or two. Therefore, I look for books on paranormal subjects about which I know little or nothing; unfortunately, not knowing the material means it’s easier for me to be turned off by the sometimes seemingly-scantily researched, poorly-written or flat-out boring. MB Forde’s Eerie Britain: Ten of Britain’s Most Terrifying and Peculiar Real-Life Stories, thankfully, fits none of these descriptions—and, in fact, I’d recommend it as the top primer to anyone unfamiliar withBritain’s scariest legends.

First, the text is definitely well-researched; incidents from the past are taken from direct accounts. The writer also provides a list of recommended reading and web resources at the end of the book, so I went on to do more research on two of the book’s cases I found most fascinating. Second, the style is not only easy to read, it’s linear and gripping; each case starts at Point A and ends at Point Z, providing a clear overview of the case’s origin, its repeated occurrences, and where the theories surrounding it stand today. Third, it was thoroughly entertaining—this is not, at all, what I would call “dry”—and, in fact, there were a couple of sections which honestly gave me the chills; the descriptions are vivid enough that, at times, I felt as though I was reading a good fiction.

If there were two negative things I’d say about this book, it’s that the punctuation is never inside the quotation marks, as it should be. As a writer, I was totally annoyed to the point of distraction by that. In addition, there were some poorly-constructed sentences (to the point at which I didn’t know what he was trying to say), and Chapter 5, in particular, was loaded with improper use of semi-colons and commas as well as typos. The second is that, although, as I said, I can tell it is well-researched, the citations should have been footnoted with the specifics on where to locate the original material.

Despite all of that, the book is honestly a worthwhile read. It grabbed my attention and held it, and because I entered knowing nothing about any ofBritain’s paranormal legends, I got my money’s worth.

You can purchase Eerie Britain for your Kindle here:

Book Trailers: Boon or Bust?

I’ve been writing short stories since the age of five. At that age and into my early teens, I’d often dream of a commercial—a trailer, basically, but I didn’t know that word back then—for my tales; I could envision my characters as though they were real, talking to each other, saying their dialogue against cool music, and big letters with the title of my story and my name. I used to think, “why don’t people make these for books?”

Well, just like I had always thought “why don’t they just put a single song on a cassette?” in the late 1970s and then in the late 1980s it happened, book trailers burst on the scene a few years ago. I was thrilled that they finally existed, although some writers in some discussion groups in which I participate don’t necessarily feel the same way. There has been some debate about the value of book trailers—are they really necessary? Should I spend time on making one for my book? Should I spend money in hiring a company to make a trailer for me? Do they really sell books?

Frankly, I believe whether or not there’s a traceable point-of-purchase from your trailer to your book is irrelevant. A trailer provides content which supports your book. It takes less time to watch than a review takes to read, is easily accessible via mobile devices, and, more importantly, it’s visual, so it’s easy to remember. And while not many book trailers go crazy-viral, every book trailer has that potential.

I’m a visual person; when I read, I see what I’m reading as a “film” in my head (if that doesn’t happen, I put the book down and read no further). Therefore, a trailer is much more likely to entice me to make a purchase than a review—especially if that trailer’s unique or entertaining. Today’s audiences are so used to being bombarded with visual media 24/7—Youtube, Vimeo, Hulu, Netflix, DVRs, 24/7 Cable, watch everything instantly on your Kindle Fire, your laptop, your Ipad; in addition, the generations behind Generation X, the current and future book buyers, are primarily visual learners (Gardner, 1993)—so it just makes sense your book should have a footing there. After all, when you release a book trailer, what you’re really saying is, ‘hey, my book’s as entertaining as a movie or show! Come check it out!’

The value in a book trailer isn’t always tangible. But I know that sometimes a trailer has made a book look so exciting I had to have it—whether it was at that moment or down the road.

And isn’t that what you want?

Below, some book trailers I liked which grabbed me for one reason or another. I was going to provide a huge list of resources, but fiction writer Darcy Pattison has done such a comprehensive job of covering all aspects I’m going to let her do the work:

The Hour Before Dark, Douglas Clegg

Breaking Silence, Linda Castillo

Crabapples, Rob Watts

Dark Matter Heart, Nathan Wrann

Gardner, H. (1993). Mulitple Intelligences: The Theory in Practice. New York: Basic Books.

52 Weeks of Spam: Winners, Week of April 30

Winners, Week of April 30:

(From the Spam Filter, posted under “GhoStory Guru: The Woman in Black—A Ghost Play, adapted by Stephen Mallatratt from the book by Susan Hill”):

Comprar enlaces… x


I’m really loving the theme/design of your site. Do you ever run into any internet browser compatibility issues? A handful of my blog readers have complained about my blog not working correctly in Explorer but looks great in Firefox. Do you have any recommendations to help fix this problem?

First of all, I’m a horror writer. Why the hell would you think I know anything about Internet Browser Compatibility Issues? I mean, unless you think, since you did post this under my review of The Woman in Black, that your computer is haunted?

Everybody hates Spam—it fills up your Inbox (unless you’ve got G-mail, which does a great job of putting it in an appropriately-labeled folder), clogs your blog (WordPress does a great job filtering, too), and can threaten your computer’s security.

I have to say though, I love my Spam. It cracks me up—it’s poorly spelled, illiterate, and often leaves me wondering who would be dumb enough to click on the link for whatever product/service/lottery winning from mysterious relative in a country you’ve never heard of. So I decided in 2012 I’d go through my Spam each week and pick my favorites to share with the world. I remove the sender and any links that might be damaging (plus, who wants to give them press?).

See you next week! If you get any great Spam, you can post it here, just strip any links and the sender’s e-mail. And be sure to say something in the post to let me know you’re real. Otherwise I might think you’re…well, Spam.

Come join me and the NEHW at the East Coast Craft Fair this Sunday!

I’ll be joining New England Horror Writers Kimberly Dalton, Stacey Longo, Kasey Shoemaker, Rob Watts, and Nathan Wrann at the East Coast Craft Fair in New Haven, CT, this Sunday for signings and readings! Get a glimpse of what you won’t want to miss in this post by Jason Harris over at the NEHW blog below:

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