Category Archives: News

Notes from the Tornado Zone

Tornado Damage Stadley Rough Road

The roads in my neighborhood were a dangerous maze of downed wires — my landline still hasn’t been fixed because they can’t even find some chunk of cable that disappeared. Here, at the corner of Stadley Rough Road and Great Plain, someone had tacked up wires so cars could “pass through.” It wasn’t as easy as it looked.

If you know me personally, then you probably know that a rash of freak storms tore through western Connecticut on May 15, spawning tornados and microbursts. My house got hit. We are not as bad off as some in our communities, but we sustained heavy damage—my bedroom’s not safe so we’re sleeping in the living room, our back porch was destroyed and what’s left of it is unstable, my husband’s car was flattened by falling trees, and all of our bird feeders and porch furniture were hurled everywhere like so many pick-up sticks. All of this, coupled with the estimated 30 trees on our property that are either downed or contorted in dangerous positions that may not last long, has made my life utter chaos.

Tornado damage back porch

Damage to the back porch. In case you’re wondering, those chairs weigh a LOT.

Everyone I love is safe, and everything that got broken is all just stuff. And, as more and more people chimed in on Facebook and reminded me that this was a good thing—“it’s just stuff, no one died”—yes, that’s true, but there was something about it that was bothering me. It made me realize that people who lose everything in devastating events like the Kilauea eruption and Hurricane Harvey aren’t just losing stuff. They are losing memories, stability, and their concept of home and what it means, even if only temporarily. It is also struggling to accept a state of chaos that may last for a long time—others not affected move on, while those that were will still be dealing with upheaval and a lack of normalcy months, if not years, afterward. It’s incredibly isolating.

If there is one thing I’m going to walk away from this with, it’s a new compassion for people who are left with nothing but wreckage. I understand the deep emotional impact now in a way I didn’t before. It’s probably going to change my life in many ways in terms of how I respond to natural disasters and how I can physically help. The first thing I wanted to do was go volunteer at the shelter that was set up here in Brookfield (there were people who suffered total, I mean total losses and we weren’t one of them, by far)—but once I got home, the roads were blocked, so I couldn’t leave.

Sadly, there will be a next time, and I will make sure I get there.

Below, the most important things rescued from my bedroom—I only needed to save them because of what they meant, not because of the items themselves.

 

Mumble, Dremlite, Pua

Build-A-Bear Mumble, Pua the Pig, and the Penguin Dreamlite—These were all stuffed animals my husband Nathan bought me. Mumble, who is the featured character in the 2006 movie Happy Feet, was the hottest item that Christmas. My husband busted his ass to get that thing for me…I heard the horror story on Christmas Eve of how he conned the lady at the counter to call him the second the shipment arrived. He got me the Penguin Dreamlite when he started working at the movie theatre in 2012—he would often work overnight and he got that to keep me company (I am afraid of the dark sometimes). Pua the Pig was my favorite character in Moana, so he got it for me for my birthday a couple of years ago. I like to cuddle with it…I may be 47, but I’m very in touch with my inner child.

For Kaye who sees everything

For Kaye Who Sees Everything—this painting was a Christmas gift to me from my friend Judith Nagib, who was in the Pencils! Writing Workshop I ran down in Norwalk from 2003-2009.

Uranus by Do'An

Uranus, by dear friend and mentor Do’An. It was the first piece of “real” art I ever owned, and when I look at it, I think of our great times together at Burlington College and how much he taught me about writing—and life.

Untitled by Heather Gleason -- This Poisoned Ground

This painting, by artist Heather Gleason, is untitled, but has an uncanny story. She was painting it at around the same time I was writing my novelette This Poisoned Ground, and it’s incredible how the painting describes what’s happening in the story. Talk about a fine example of the collective unconscious at work (no, we didn’t know each other at the time). You can check out Heather Gleason’s artwork here: http://myeclecticmind.com/

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THE TERROR PROJECT: SALE and a RELEASE PARTY VIDEO TREAT!

Terror Project Covers 1

Want some great summer chillers to enjoy at the beach? Now’s your chance to get nine great novellas and pay less…and scroll down to get a peek at the private Three on a Match Release Party!

Books & Boos Press is offering the first two books in The Terror Project series—Triplicity, which contains stories by Stacey Longo, Rob Smales and Tony Tremblay—and Three on a Match, which contains my J-horror inspired piece “Splendid Chyna” and tales by G. Elmer Munson and Melissa Crandall—for a special sale price TODAY (June 4) through June 10 (next Sunday).

Triplicity and Three on a Match will be $9.99 (30% off) for the paperback and $1.99 for the ebook (50% off).

In addition, the third volume, Three A.M. Wake-Up Call, hits Amazon on Tuesday, June 5 (tomorrow) and is available for pre-order today. This third installment showcases novellas by Nick Cato, David Daniel, and Rob Watts.

Here’s where you can get your copies (click on the titles):

Triplicity

“Brando and Bad Choices” by Stacey Longo

“Steel” by Tony Tremblay

“The Christmas Spirit” by Rob Smales

 ♦

Three on a Match

“Splendid Chyna” by Kristi Petersen Schoonover

“All’s Well That Ends” by G. Elmer Munson

“Thicker Than Water” by Melissa Crandall

  ♦

Three A.M. Wake-Up Call

“Chew Toys” by Nick Cato

“Clinton Road” by Rob Watts

“Roons” by David Daniel

Want them on audio? Guess what? Audio books are on their way! I’ll post on this blog when those are available.

Below, get a peek at the private Three on a Match Release Party, which was held at my house in September. Don’t miss out, and happy reading!

THE NASTY NINE: Do you have a narc in your life?

The Nasty Nine

Today, I’m helping out my sister, who runs an online support group as well as the website https://escapinginsanity.org/ for victims of those who have Narcissistic Personality Disorder…I’m coming out as a former victim, and by doing so I hope to spread awareness.

What is a narcissist, you ask? The Mayo Clinic definition reads “a mental condition in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for excessive attention and admiration, troubled relationships, and a lack of empathy for others.” It then goes on to say this is due to their low self-esteem or some other heart-tugging thing that almost makes you feel bad for them.

I’m going to apologize right now—for me, there’s no way to put a pretty face on this disorder. I’ve had experience with several narcs in my life (two of them romantic relationships), and I can tell you they are nothing more than abusers. I’ve gone through it, I’ve seen my friends go through it, I’ve seen my family go through it. Part of why I’m sharing this is to open people’s eyes. I know enough that if I even smell narc behavior I run, so there hasn’t been a narc–friend, romantic interest, boyfriend of a friend or otherwise–that’s been able to get a foothold in my life in sixteen years.

I want to give others that same opportunity.

If someone in your life does these nine patterns of behavior Read the rest of this entry

GLOBAL BIG DAY IS SATURDAY!

HERMIT THRUSH CROPPED 04-19-18 - Copy

A hermit thrush perches in our back yard, April, 2018. There was quite the snafu trying to get this bird id’d (ovenbirds and hermit thrushes can look really similar to an unpracticed eye like mine), but an Ebird expert came through. Photo by Nathan Schoonover.

If citizen science appeals to you and you love birds or have always wanted to have an excuse to start birdwatching, this Saturday, May 5, is a golden opportunity!

Global Bird Day is a “virtual” event in which participants take as little as 10 minutes in their favorite spots—even in their backyards—and count the number of birds and species. Participants then log what they’ve seen in Ebird. This effort is important, because it shows the ornithologists at Cornell a real-time snapshot of which birds are where—especially now, when we are in spring migration, which got off to a late start due to the colder-than-normal weather patterns.

Participating is easy; you can do as little or as much as you want, and a free Ebird account takes just a couple of minutes to set up. You can download an app, too, if you prefer—but you don’t have to. You can do it the old fashioned way, like I do: take a notebook and a pen and record it later.

Nathan and I are hitting up four locations; the first one will be easy, because it’s our back yard (thanks to 18 feeders, we get 14 species on a slow day). We’ll head up to hike a few miles through Audubon Bent of the River in Southbury, visit the nature preserve behind our favorite cemetery in Bridgewater (we’re hoping for lots of water species), and spend the remainder of the day at another preserve in Brookfield.

If you’d like more information on how to participate, visit https://ebird.org/news/global-big-day-5-may-2018.

If you’ve got Kentucky Derby or Cinco de Mayo invites (we do), those are probably at the end of the day, so you can still do both! Don’t miss out!

Light it Up with me at Annie’s Book Stop in Worcester, MA this weekend!

Three on a Match Cut the Cake

Melissa Crandall, g. Elmer Muson, and I cut the cake at the Three on a Match release party, September, 2017.

Join me and fellow writers g. Elmer Munson and Melissa Crandall at Annie’s Book Stop in Worcester, MA this weekend for a special reading from the novella collection Three on a Match! The Light it Up: Three on a Match celebration of literary horror event takes place on Independent Bookstore Day at Annie’s from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 28.

With the focus on horror and its connection to the real world, we’ll read a portion from each tale in the book, talk about where the story came from and share its connection to reality. There’ll be some Mad Libs, snacks, and giveaways (like those nifty matchbooks you could only get if you were at the Three on a Match release party).

Want to know more? Check out Annie’s author spotlight on Melissa Crandall, “Thicker Than Water,” here: https://anniesbookstopworcester.wordpress.com/2018/04/13/author-spotlight-melissa-crandall/

…and me here: https://anniesbookstopworcester.wordpress.com/2018/04/20/author-spotlight-kristi-petersen-schoonover-2/

Annie’s is located at 65 James Street in Worcester, MA. For more detailed information, visit Annie’s website at http://www.anniesbooksworcester.com/

It’s here! INK STAINS VOLUME 7: DECAY – get a free peek!

Ink Stains Cover

I’m pleased to announce that the anthology I’ve spent a year curating, Ink Stains: A Dark Fiction Anthology Volume 7—Decay is now available! Containing fifteen pieces by young, fresh, and seasoned voices alike, the stories in this volume focus on the various ways decay permeates our lives and very beings.

I’ve always wanted to put together an anthology, so it was thrilling when Dark Alley Press gave me the opportunity. It’s been an incredible journey—I’ve worked with some very talented writers, and was able to put awesome new discoveries as well as stories that haunted me for years either into print or back into print. One of the most exciting things about this anthology is that it contains writer Daniel Pearlman’s final first draft, which his widow, Sandy, graciously agreed to let us publish.

Ink Stains is available wherever you purchase books. Here’s the Table of Contents and a specially prepared preview you can print or download (at the bottom of this post). Get your full copies here:

Amazon Print: http://bit.ly/inkstains7

Amazon Kindle: http://bit.ly/inkstains7K

TABLE OF CONTENTS

As We Rot – Taro Turner

Christmas in Connecticut – Robert Mayette

The Depths – Elizabeth Allen

Heroes – Jackie Logsted

The Mating Habits of the Late-Adopting Smoker – Dorianne Emmerton

Stikini – Travis D. Roberson

The Fate of the Worms – Page Sullivan

Ignorance Is – Rhonda Zimlich

Black-Hooded Caller – Pablo Patiño

The Cold Gets In – Mary Thorson

Do the Faceless Remember? – Megan Neumann

Suicide in Reverse (After Matt Rasmussen) – Bri Faythe

The Leaf People – Heather Sullivan

Letting in the Cat – Kaitlyn Downing

Overdrawn at the Time Bank – Daniel Pearlman

Photo: The Singer’s Last Stand – Christopher Petersen

 

Get a PDF sample here: Ink Stains Sample

 

 

 

Eight films with immersive abandoned settings

If you’ve been following me on any social media or have read some of my work, you know I have a thing for all things abandoned. On a recent Dark Discussions episode, we reviewed the 2001 film Session 9—it has some small issues, for sure, but you can’t beat the atmosphere; it was shot in the real former Danvers State Hospital in Massachusetts, which today is home to luxury apartments (yes, really).

I decided it might be fun to pull together a list of my favorite movies that are set in abandoned locations. I didn’t include films that have one or two stunning scenes in such places—believe it or not, the animated love fest Happy Feet would rank high on that list, with its most disturbing scene playing out in an abandoned Antarctic whaling station—only films that are almost entirely set in them.

Please note: The only thing these films have been judged on is the quality of the abandoned setting. Check out your favorite review venue if you want more detail on the film’s other aspects before watching.

8 Abandoned Session9

David Caruso stands amidst the ruins in SESSION 9.

Session 9 (2001)

An asbestos cleaning crew takes on a big contract at a crumbling, abandoned asylum, not realizing that they’re going to get a lot more than they bargained for when they find cassettes of a patient’s hypnotherapy sessions. Many people consider this one of the most terrifying movies of all time, but I maintain it’s because of the claustrophobic setting. Shot at Danvers State Hospital in Massachusetts (before it was gutted and became Bradlee Danvers Luxury Apartments—check it out here), this is a fine example of how setting is sometimes the biggest player in what makes a movie scary. Watch Session 9

8 Abandoned Ghost Ship

An abandoned state room in GHOST SHIP.

Ghost Ship (2002)

A salvage crew thinks they’ve hit the jackpot when they find a passenger liner that went missing forty years ago—one that had long been rumored to harbor massive treasure. But it also harbors something else: ghosts for sure, but I’m thinking more along the lines of splendid furnishings corroded by four decades worth of exposure to the salt air. For most of us, this is as close as we’ll ever get to exploring a derelict liner. The set is so ably rendered it’s easy to envision the grandeur that must’ve been. Watch Ghost Ship

8 Abandoned Reincarnation

Something’s amiss in the surprisingly bright abandoned resort in REINCARNATION.

Reincarnation (2005)

A filmmaker and his crew go to an abandoned hotel twenty years after Read the rest of this entry

CREEP, CREEP 2, DARK DISCUSSIONS and the most unsettling Christmas present EVER

Peachfuzz 1

There are some Christmas gifts that are just so personal, clever, and awesome it’s unlikely they’ll ever be forgotten. I came home from a particularly rough one and received just that—and so did my friends Eric and Phil.

 

Most of you know that I’m a part-time co-host on a horror film podcast called Dark Discussions. The five of us—Phil, Mike, Eric, Abe, and me—tend to be irreverent and do a lot of laughing. A year or so before I joined them, they discussed an unsettling 2015 indie gem called Creep. Much joviality surrounded one of the movie’s more outlandish moments which was a little on the dirty side, if you get my drift.

You can listen to the DD episode on Creep here and the one on Creep 2 here…and you can watch the films here:

Creep

Creep 2

Creep Episode 195

The masthead for DARK DISCUSSIONS Episode 195, CREEP. Look at the picture bottom left–yup, it’s the stuffed wolf! Collage by Philip Perron.

*SPOILER ALERT*

The Creep franchise focuses on a serial killer; but, much like a narcissist, he likes to toy with and manipulate his victims first in a series of bizarre emotional ploys. He first cons his victim—in both movies, an aspiring filmmaker—with the lure of cash to film him for one day, evoking sympathy with one sob story after another as things get more complicated. What’s key to my anecdote, though, is that at one moment in the original film, he dons a wolf mask he calls “Peachfuzz.” That dirty moment I referenced? He touches himself while murmuring Peachfuzz’ name, later explaining to his victim that he thinks of himself as a wolf—tough on the outside, tender and loving on the inside.

After the victim leaves to go back to his life, our serial killer regresses to mailing strange packages before doing him in. The contents of at least one of the packages always contains a stuffed wolf.

As far as my scary little package, we’re still not sure which co-host did it; nobody’s owned it yet. Or even better if we never know. Because the brilliance of this isn’t only the reference to all the fun we have on the show, it’s got that creep factor: I could, indeed, be this guy’s next victim. Oh, Peachfuzz…

Creep 2 Episode310

The masthead for DARK DISCUSSIONS Episode 310: CREEP 2. At the top left, you can see the Peachfuzz mask. Photo collage by Philip Peron.

The Bronx Zoo’s Extinct Species Graveyard

Extinct Species 1 - Headstone

The Extinct Species Graveyard at the Bronx Zoo’s BOO AT THE ZOO Event was fascinating–and sad.

Nathan and I love to visit the Bronx Zoo, which is just about an hour from our house—it’s like being on vacation for a day, and it could be said the zoo is part of our lives (we’ve “financially adopted” many of their animals over the years, everything from a bat to a Madagascar Hissing Cockroach we named Mountain King). Since we’re members, we try to make it down for the zoo’s special events throughout the year.

October brought Boo at the Zoo: weekends full of activities such as a beer garden, pumpkin carving demonstration, not-really hay rides, marshmallow roasting pits, candy trails, a corn maze—and my favorite, a Haunted Forest in the abandoned World of Darkness Building. Little known fact about me? It was my first-ever walk-through Haunted House, and I did pretty well!

It was lots of fun to see kids in costume.

Look who I ran into in New York City!

…and to visit our hissing cockroach, Mountain King.

The exhibit that struck me most was the Extinct Species Graveyard, which was set up in a little-used grove of trees next to The Mouse House. It wasn’t there for a Halloween thrill, nor was it there as just another decoration to fill up space; it seemed part educational, and part memorial. I was surprised by the profound sense of sadness I felt as we wandered through the headstones.

Here’s a tour!

Extinct Species 6 - Falkland Islands Wolf

Officially discovered in the late 1600s, the Falkland Islands Wolf’s tame nature spelled its doom—it hadn’t learned to fear humans, so settlers could easily trick it into coming close enough to kill it. They were hunted for meat and fur, and were considered threatening to sheep. The last one was killed Read the rest of this entry

DARK DISCUSSIONS dives 47 METERS DOWN

 

Dark Discussions 47 Meters Down Mast_Episode293

47 METERS DOWN collage by Philip Perron.

Shark Week may be a long 10 months away, but there’s still plenty of thrills to be had in this year’s much-delayed Mandy Moore vehicle 47 Meters Down, which had been titled–and even briefly released, as I understand it–under the moniker In the Deep.

Dark Discussions delves deep into what works and what doesn’t in this film (which personally I didn’t get all the hate for–it’s a friggin’ shark thriller, for God’s sake, why are you all expecting high art?) which is available on Blu-Ray and DVD today. Pick it up here — http://a.co/20Q1UNs — then dive into what we thought!

You can listen to our episode on Stitcher, iTunes, and here: http://www.darkdiscussions.com/Pages/podcast_293.html

1280_in_the_deep_47_meters_down_poster

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