William Blackwell

Dark Fiction Author

Tag: supernatural thriller

New Looks and New Books in the New Year

New looks and new books in the New Year. That’s right dear readers, I’m making a number of changes in 2019. First to the new looks.

I’ve unpublished Black Dawn and The End Is Nigh. I did it because my former publisher controlled all the pricing. Paperbacks were priced as high as $30 each, ebooks around $4.99. In my opinion, $30 for a paperback is just too high. Both novels will be re-edited and given a fresh new look with dramatic new covers. Telemachus Press, my tried-and-true publisher, will be helping with the process and talented cover artist Johnny Breeze has been tasked with cover design.

When the new versions reappear, probably in about two months, horror novel Black Dawn will be priced at $3.99 for an ebook and $9.99 for a paperback. Post-apocalyptic novel The End Is Nigh ebook will retail for $3.99, paperback $11.99. Far more affordable for you, the reader.

Here’s a short summary of Black Dawn: A down-on-his luck alcoholic realizes his terrifying nightmares are actually teleportation trips to gruesome murder scenes. Struggling with external and internal demons, he’s thrust into an epic battle to try and save the life of his estranged girlfriend and other close friends. Black Dawn offers a rare and raw glimpse into the dark underbelly of the Dominican Republic.

The End Is Nigh short summary: As a blazing inferno decimates the world, seven social outcasts form an unlikely alliance, fleeing to an underground shelter where they’re thrust into a life-and-death battle with vicious evil forces threatening to seize control of a post-apocalyptic wasteland.

Both novels have received excellent unbiased and honest reviews. When they’re released, I’m considering offering a limited time, re-release promotion price. Don’t worry, you’ll be the first to know.

What else is new?

In 2018, I wrote two novels—The Witch’s Tombstone and The Dark Menace, both supernatural thrillers that I’m really pumped about. The Witch’s Tombstone is still going through the editing stages and The Dark Menace is ready to be released.

It involved a ton of research on alternate realities, other dimensions, sleep disorders, and the strange and mysterious otherworldly entities (that have haunted and terrorized people for centuries) known as The Hat Man and The Shadow People. It’s about a nightmare-plagued man who suspects an enigmatic doctor may have unleashed a torrent of horrifying attacks by the Shadow People and the Hat Man.

When will it be released? There’s the rub. I don’t really know. This year I’m approaching my craft a little differently. I have a new strategy. In search of contractual representation, a book deal, I’ve pitched The Dark Menace to a number of Canadian book agents as well as a few big-name publishers. I’m waiting to hear back. By the way, if you have connections to—or work with—book agents or publishers, I’d like to hear from you.

My new strategy also applies to The Witch’s Tombstone. When the editing and rewrites have been completed, I plan on submitting it to publishers and book agents. It involved extensive research on legends of witches who reportedly lived on Prince Edward Island during the 17th century. One such which was falsely accused of witchcraft, convicted, and burned at the stake.

Short summary: A troubled young woman cursed with shadowy supernatural powers believes she’s the descendant of an evil witch who was burned at the stake in the 1700s for her crimes.

Of course, I’d love to see book deals for both novels. And I know how this game goes. You have to be patient. As Telemachus Press publisher Steve Himes says, “Writing novels is a marathon not a sprint.”

How long will I wait? I think it makes sense to grind it out for about a year. If the marathon begins to look more like a treadmill by the end of 2019, I’ll self-publish both titles through William Blackwell Publishing and Telemachus Press.

At that time, I’ll have to retool my marketing machine in an effort to give those titles, along with my extensive backlist of novels, the exposure reviewers and readers alike say they deserve.

Happy New Year! I sincerely hope all your dreams come true in 2019.

The Witch’s Tombstone Resurrected

After months of research, I’ve finally started to draft the outline of The Witch’s Tombstone. I’ve also scribbled a few words here and there.

The writing process never ceases to amaze me. You’d think that after nineteen novels, it would become easier.

It certainly doesn’t feel that way with this supernatural thriller. Some days the prose seemed wooden, the dialogue contrived and even a little stilted. Other days I became so immersed in the story and characters, I forgot about all about the writing process. Lost in a dramatic and mysterious world of my imagination, I forgot to eat, forgot to shower, and even forgot to turn the phone on or check social media.

But it certainly wasn’t like that in the early stages. Every writer is different, I suppose. Without doubt, some start a work in progress confidently high on their past accolades, positive reviews and books sales.

But not this scribbling scribe.

To be sure, my books have at times garnered decent sales. And about eighty-five per cent of the reviews are five out of five stars. Perhaps most importantly, when I finish one I won’t release it to the viewing public unless I’m really pleased with it. Unless, regardless of what some naysayers might say, I know it’s a good book.

But that doesn’t seem to stop the self-doubt when I start a new novel. I sometimes ask myself, “Can I still do this? Maybe I’ve used up all my creative juices. Maybe there’s nothing left in the tank. Is this story even going anywhere?”

But, I usually find a groove and the process becomes a little easier and a lot more satisfying. I loosen up and the creativity starts to flow.

Sometimes the satisfaction is difficult to put into words. Indescribable. It’s a kind of magic really when you can take one little idea and spin it into a complicated story with three-dimensional characters, unexpected plot twists, and a heaping helping of macabre, gritty and horrific elements.

To discover that your art contains sub-texts, themes, unexpected layers, and operates on levels that you hadn’t even intentionally constructed, is a small miracle.

I think in many ways The Witch’s Tombstone will be about art mirroring life and life mirroring art. I started to recognize symbolism that I hadn’t consciously intended.

I asked myself, “Did my subconscious intend this? Was it a gift to my conscious?” Whatever it was, it was an incredible moment of elation and gratification, knowing that there were parts of my brain working on the novel while I was doing something else.

In a word, magic.

I guess that’s why I do it. I was born with a gift. Wouldn’t it be a tragedy to turn a blind eye to our God-given talents? I write because I was born to write. I write because, even with all the agony, despair, and self-doubt, I love it.

I’ve always encouraged my friends and family to pursue their dreams and develop their talents. If we have no passion in our lives, we don’t have much.

So, yes, I’m thrilled about my latest work in progress.

Here’s a short synopsis to whet your appetite.

A troubled young woman cursed with shadowy supernatural powers believes she’s the descendant of an evil witch who was burned at the stake in the 1700s for her heinous crimes.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my rant.

THE DARK MENACE COVER REVEAL

At long last, here it is—the final version, or close to it, of The Dark Menace cover. Talented cover artist Johnny Breeze and I have been working on this on and off for over a month. Mostly it represents his artistic talent in concert with my vision. In version one, you’ll probably notice my vision was flawed. All I could come up with was a somewhat menacing Hat Man holding a sword and giving you a kind of “I dare you to cross my path” look. Didn’t take me long to scrap that and start thinking about something more mysterious. By the way, Johnny didn’t create the blotchy background for version one. I was playing with photo-shop one day and mucked it all up.

Before I get too carried away with the cover design process, you’d probably like to know a little about The Dark Menace, a supernatural thriller that I have been painstakingly polishing for over two months but is finally oh-so-close to completion.

Short synopsis:

Mysterious and terrifying attacks by the Shadow People and the Hat Man lead a nightmare-plagued man to suspect an enigmatic doctor has accidentally opened a portal to hell.

Dark Menace version one

Long synopsis:

Noah Janzen is plagued by nightmares and numerous sleep disorders; night terrors, sleepwalking, sleep talking, and a terrifying sleep paralysis that often invokes chilling images of the Shadow People and the Hat Man.

Determined not to let his nocturnal demons interfere with his successful career and newly formed relationship with Angela Rosewood, he meets her in a local pub. But when he sees a shadowy figure wearing a fedora and a trench coat eerily watching him through a window, he freaks out and battens down the hatches.

He soon learns that a hat-wearing psycho has viciously attacked Angela, smashing in her door, trashing her apartment, and nearly killing her. Worse still, Angela suspects Noah has morphed into a conduit for evil and starts distancing herself from him. She might even think he is the Hat Man.

Desperate to save his new relationship and find answers, he seeks the aid of physicist and sleep specialist, Doctor Neil Samuelson. While remaining tight-lipped on his experiments involving the Shadow People and the Hat Man, the enigmatic doctor informs Noah that an old woman has been brutally murdered at the hands of The Dark Menace.

As blood-curdling reports of Shadow People and the Hat Man escalate, Noah suspects Neil has accidentally opened up a portal from another dimension, unleashing a torrent of evil shadowy entities, hell-bent on terrorizing and destroying humanity.

He’s thrust into an epic battle to preserve his relationship and sanity and find answers to a strange and mysterious real-life phenomenon that has haunted and terrorized thousands of people around the world for centuries.

Dark Menace version two

Back to the cover reveal. Since some people view the Hat Man as a dark and evil force, after viewing version one, I thought that it might look eerie to have the Hat Man standing in a cemetery, perhaps with skulls and crossbones in the foreground, highlighted by an ominous moon and tombstones in the background. I wanted more definition in the moon, less black swirling smoke, and sharp definition on the skulls and bones, similar to something you might see at the Catacombs of Paris. In version three, I believe Johnny accomplished most of what I had in mind.

He trimmed down the black smoke, made the Hat Man more three-dimensional of his own accord, and added the skulls and bones in the foreground. I think it hits the mark as an eye-catching and appealing cover.

Of course, Johnny still has to incorporate my suggestions. I’d like to see more definition and maybe brighter colors in the skulls and bones (looks a little washed out to me and doesn’t stand out enough). As well, I think there needs to be a big pile of skulls and bones, possibly ornately arranged like the Catacombs of Paris. Lastly, perhaps the Hat Man hat needs to be just a little taller and more consistent with the fedora or gaucho style hat that most people seem to see the Hat Man wearing.

Dark Menace version three

We’re almost ready to rock and roll. I look forward to the final version. If you have any comments you believe would improve the cover, please post them below.

Thanks for stopping by and have a great day.

 

The Dark Menace progress

I’ve destroyed the writer’s block demon and am moving forward with substantive revisions on The Dark Menace. It didn’t hurt that I took three days off over the weekend and had the opportunity to clear my mind by spending time on my awe-inspiring beachfront property. The beautiful scenery never ceases to invoke a sense of peace and inspiration.

I think it also helped that I had a terrible nightmare the other night in which, armed with a chainsaw, I found myself attacking and indeed slicing and dicing demons with it. It was deeply disturbing but I believe the nightmare acted as a cleansing mechanism of sorts, my mind’s way of taking out the trash.

In any event, here’s a synopsis and a sample of The Dark Menace:

Noah Janzen is plagued by nightmares and numerous sleep disorders; night terrors, sleepwalking, sleep talking, and a terrifying sleep paralysis that often invokes chilling images of the Shadow People and the Hat Man.

Determined to prevent his nocturnal demons from interfering with his successful career and newly formed relationship with Angela Rosewood, he meets her in a local pub. But when he sees a shadowy figure wearing a fedora and a trench coat eerily watching him through a window, he freaks out and flees.

He soon learns that a hat-wearing psycho has viciously attacked Angela, smashing in her door, trashing her apartment, and nearly killing her. Worse still, Angela suspects Noah has morphed into a conduit for evil and starts distancing herself from him. She might even think he is the Hat Man.

Desperate to save his new relationship and find answers, he seeks the aid of physicist and sleep specialist, Doctor Neil Samuelson. While remaining tight-lipped on his experiments involving the Shadow People and the Hat Man, the enigmatic doctor informs Noah that an old woman has been brutally murdered at the hands of The Dark Menace.

As blood-curdling reports of Shadow People and the Hat Man escalate, Noah suspects Neil has accidentally opened up a portal from another dimension, unleashing a torrent of  ghostly evil entities, hell-bent on terrorizing and destroying humanity.

He’s thrust into an epic battle to preserve his relationship and sanity and find answers to a strange and mysterious real-life phenomenon that has haunted and terrorized thousands of people around the world for centuries.

PROLOGUE

The muffled scream echoing eerily from the hallway leading to Noah’s bedroom didn’t alarm Barbara Janzen enough to stir her from her couch-potato, channel-surfing position. She reached into the glass bowl cradled on her lap and shoveled a mouthful of potato chips into her mouth, unaware of a few chips that slid down her gray sweatshirt, one lodging in the crotch of her sweatpants, a few others spilling onto the sofa. She grabbed the remote, adjusted her bulk, and turned up the volume. The crotch-pinned chip crunched into powder. Oblivious, she flicked the channel quickly six times and finally stopped at Bride of the Monster, a 1955 B-grade cult horror film. She leaned back and grinned, exposing crooked, decaying and nicotine-stained teeth.

“Mooommmmy… heeeeeelp me!”

She craned her neck, scanning the dimly lit hallway. The shrieking cry for help echoed off the walls and then the house grew quiet and still. She frowned slightly. Damn kid, she thought. Always having nightmares about monsters. There are no monsters. Only on TV. Raising the volume a second time, she refocused on Bela Lugosi’s cult classic, a movie she thought would take her away from the bleakness and despair of her own existence.

Five minutes later, she was lost in the movie.

The front door swung open so violently it crashed into the wall, rattling a window and knocking a cactus plant onto the floor, shattering the clay pot and spilling dirt on the beaten carpet. The cactus miraculously stood upright, a prickly phallus defying all odds. A long-haired motley-looking man dressed in torn denim stepped inside and grinned.

“You drunken idiot,” Barbara said, her eyes narrowing. “You scared the shit out of me. Look what you’ve done. What the hell’s wrong with you?”

Through glazed eyes, the man gazed at the TV, then at Barbara. He took a long swill from his Molson Canadian beer can, chucked the empty outside and slammed the door. “Honey, I’m home.”

Barbara paused her movie and put the glass bowl on the coffee table, along with the remote. She gritted her teeth and clenched her fists. Her first instinct was to erupt like a volcano and she struggled to control the rising flow of lava. It wouldn’t do any good to argue with Garrett now. Not in his current condition. He could be extremely confrontational when he was drunk. And not just verbal abuse; a few times he’d come close to striking her. Besides, he’d just called her ‘honey,’ a word he rarely used when speaking to her, even though the term of endearment was alcohol-induced.

She rose and approached him quickly, helping him off with his jean jacket and leading him over to a tattered La-Z-Boy chair. She plopped him into it.

He melted into the chair, slouched his head to one side, and focused on the screen vacantly. “You watching that crap again?”

Not wanting to rouse his ire, she ignored the comment, grabbed a dustpan and broom from a nearby closet and kneeled down to the mess he’d made. She swept up shattered remains of the clay pot, deposited them into a kitchen garbage can, and returned with an empty glass and a dish cloth. She swept some soil into the glass and, using the dish cloth as an improvised glove, carefully picked up the cactus plant and inserted it into the dirt inside. In the kitchen, she added a little water to it and placed it on a kitchen window sill, out of the way of future intoxicated paths of destruction, she hoped.

She cleaned the carpet as best she could and stood up to evaluate her effort. It would need a vacuum to get everything, she knew. But the vacuum was broken, and had been for more than a week. She sighed heavily, returned to the couch and plunked herself down.

She looked at Garrett. His head lolled slowly to and fro, eyes opening and closing.

“I should get you to bed,” she said. “You’re wasted.”

His eyes opened. “Barney’s got a new hottie. Sweet little thing she is…”

“Barney’s always getting new girlfriends,” she said. “He wears them out faster than you do a pair of socks.”

She searched his bloodshot eyes for a response, but they were closed now. She watched Garrett for a minute or two as spittle began dripping from his open mouth. He emitted a loud nasally snore, the first of many to come. She debated trying to help him to bed, but quickly changed her mind. No sense waking the fool now. Let him sleep it off in his favorite chair.

She resumed watching Bride of the Monster with a sigh, thankful that she hadn’t married this loser. He couldn’t hold down a steady job, drank like a fish, and relied on government hand-outs to survive. And his demeanor and disposition were far from that of a model citizen. But, just like all the others, he’d probably be gone in a month or two.

Five minutes or so into the movie, even over Garrett’s snoring and the blaring TV, Barbara heard a loud crash, followed by another ear-piercing scream. This time she did react, standing up so fast, she tilted her chip bowl, spilling its crunchy contents all over the sofa and carpet.

Garrett stirred, inhaled a nasally snore and muttered something incomprehensible—the beginning of his night-time symphonic somniloquy.

At the far end of the hall, the bedroom door burst open and Noah sprang out, crashing head-first into the wall and falling on the floor. Although she didn’t rush, Barbara walked purposefully down the hall, stopped in front of her son, and knelt down. His long brown hair was sweat-matted to his head. A small cut above his left eye leaked blood down his face. His mouth was open in a large O of shock and his green eyes were wide open, fixated on the ceiling and frozen. Holding his arms stiffly at his sides, he appeared to be in a state of catatonia. She grabbed his shoulders and shook him.

He blinked, opened his eyes, and looked at his mother. “The Hat Man,” Noah said, the color draining from his face. “Help me, Mommy, help me… he tried to kill me.”

When the truth leads you astray

I’ve heard it said that, “You are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own set of facts.” I fall back on the saying occasionally when engaged in a debate where the facts will only show one answer. No gray area. Just black or white, right or wrong.

One such story is the tale of Paddy McGuinness, the so-called female witch. As the rumor goes, she poisoned children in the early 1900s and a successful witch hunt led her to the gallows where she was publicly hanged for her crimes. People say her tombstone is in The Roman Catholic People’s Cemetery in Charlottetown. The weathered statue depicts a grief-stricken woman holding a hand to her face. An old cross leans up against her, tilted at an odd angle, probably the result of Mother Nature’s powerful forces. My research shows that she isn’t buried below the witch’s tombstone in Charlottetown at all. In fact it’s a man by the name of Patrick Paul McGuinness. Paddy is a common nickname for Patrick.

As well, sources say that that area of the cemetery is no older than 1960, so the Paddy McGuinness timeline doesn’t square with the facts. In efforts to further debunk the myth, I reached out to PEI history guru Ed MacDonald.

He writes: “Jim Hornby published a history of capital punishment on PEI through Island Studies Press about 20 years ago now. No mention of a Paddy McGuinness there. I suspect the story is a complete fabrication possibly concocted by combining two incidents: one old legend about The Witch of Port Lajoie, which was made into a novel by Joyce Barkhouse and concerns a supposed witch from the French Regime on PEI in the 18th century; and the well-known case of Minnie McGee of St. Mary’s Road, who poisoned five of her children in 1912 but was not hanged. She spent the remainder of her life either in prison or a mental hospital… Minnie was no witch, just a tragically troubled mother.”

According to a news story in The Graphic, in “April 1912, Minnie McGee poisoned her six kids by soaking phosphorus matches in weak tea, and giving it to them to drink. They became deathly ill within days: they vomited, their pulses weakened, their hearts failed. The first five children died on the same day: Louis (age 13), Penzie (age 12), Georgie (age 8), Bridget (age 6) and Thomas (age 5). Johnnie (age 10) died two days later.”

In her confession, Minnie, whose real name was Mary Cassidy-McGee, reportedly said, “They will be better off. They will be in heaven.”

The Minnie McGee story is a tragic account of a woman who endured much hardship and suffering and found herself in a position of utter despair and hopelessness. Prior the poisoning, two of her children had died from pneumonia. Evidently her husband Patrick was frequently away from home seeking work and often beat her. “Pat, my husband, used to beat me quite often. He would beat me when I was sick in bed.”

Some may find it hard to have sympathy for a woman who poisons her children. But when you consider her situation—a poor, abused, troubled woman raising six children by herself in the winter of 1912, it is hard not to feel a pang of sadness for her plight. After all, she lived during a time when spousal abuse was hardly frowned on; there were few counselors, no shelters, no government hand-outs or food banks. With no one to turn to for help, the weight of her burden became too much.

Although Minnie was originally sentenced to hang, the community rallied around her and in the end her sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. She spent part of her days in jail and part of her days in an insane asylum, before passing away in 1953.

So, where am I going with all this? Well, what started out as a story of the so-called witch called Paddy McGuinness has morphed into a tale that will combine the tragedy of Minnie McGee with The Witch of Port Lajoie. A cursory search of major book retailers showed no such book currently available for purchase. I guess I’ve come full circle. I find myself once again searching for an elusive witch. Research takes you down strange and unexpected paths.

Tune in next week for a follow-up.

Thanks for stopping by, please leave comments below, and have an awesome day.

Who are the Shadow People?

Just who are the Shadow People anyway? Well, to define the plural, let’s start with the singular—shadow person. According to Wikipedia, a shadow person “is the perception of a patch of shadow as a living, humanoid figure, particularly as interpreted by believers in the paranormal or supernatural as the presence of a spirit of other entity.”

Although some would argue it, Shadow People represent the shadow person, only in droves. According to researchers, images of Shadow People date as far back as 300 AD. Wikipedia says, “A number of religions, legends, and belief systems describe shadowy spiritual beings or supernatural entities such as shades of the underworld, and various shadowy creatures have long been a staple of folklore and ghost stories.”

So what do they want? Well, that is certainly a matter of debate. Here are some theories:

An extraterrestrial theory. Shadow People are negative alien beings, sent to harm or abduct us, who can be repelled by invoking the name of Jesus.

A neurological theory. Shadow People images occur during sleep paralysis, a mysterious sleeping disorder occurring in that transitional stage between waking and falling asleep during which a person becomes completely immobilized and often sees frightening images. In that case they would just be the manifestation of a sleeping disorder and by extension nothing more than a product of the subconscious mind.

A religious theory. Shadow People are the evil minions of the Devil sent to snatch our souls and drag us down into the filthy bowels of hell.

Another religious theory. Shadow People are guardian angels, sent from heaven to protect our souls and shield us from evil.

I could probably go on for hours about the many theories that exist. We know for sure that thousands of people have seen the Shadow People in their waking and sleeping worlds. We know that, due to the supernatural aspect of their existence, nobody has yet to prove what the Shadow People really are. But my favorite theory is this one:

The Scientific theory. Some physicists believe that unexplained forces are causing other dimensions to merge with ours. This merging of different dimensions would explain why we can only see the Shadow People as shadowy figures who have the ability to transcend our laws of gravity, float through walls, fly, and change shapes at random.

According to this theory, Shadow People are the extra-dimensional inhabitants of another universe or another dimension. That’s why they can disappear and reappear in the drop of a hat. Or maybe in the drop of the Hat Man.

Theories also abound on the existence and agenda of the Hat Man. Many people report seeing him in their waking lives. Some claim he’s a guardian angel of sorts while others are convinced he’s the devil come to harvest their souls. He has been connected to alien abduction, preying on fear, and striking you when your defenses are low; when you’re sick or depressed. Some claim he’s trashed their houses and tried to strangle them to death in the middle of the night.

In some reports, The Shadow People and the Hat Man are sometimes interconnected. Some people claim to see the Hat Man with the Shadow People. But the connections are muddy at best.

In Dark Menace, my work-in-progress supernatural thriller, I attempt to clarify the connections between the two strange and mysterious phenomenon that are very real and very terrifying to many people. Here’s a synopsis:

Noah Jansen is plagued by nasty nightmares and multiple sleep disorders; night terrors, sleepwalking, sleep talking, and a terrifying sleep paralysis that often invokes chilling images of the Hat Man and the Shadow People.

Determined not to let his nocturnal demons interfere with his successful career and a crush he has on Angela Rosewood, he meets her for a drink in a local pub. But when he sees a dark shadowy figure wearing a fedora and a trench coat peering at him eerily through a window, he freaks out, fleeing in terror and battening down the hatches of his apartment.

He soon learns that a hat-wearing man has viciously attacked Angela, smashing in her door, trashing her apartment, and nearly killing her. Worse still, Angela believes Noah has morphed into a conduit for evil and starts distancing herself from him. She might even think he is the Hat Man.

Desperate to save his new relationship and find answers, he seeks the aid of former physicist and sleep specialist friend Neil Samuelson, now a full-time paranormal investigator. While remaining tight-lipped on his experiments involving the Shadow People and the Hat Man, the enigmatic scientists informs Noah that an old woman has just been brutally murdered at the hands of The Dark Menace.

As blood-curdling reports of Shadow People and the Hat Man begin to escalate, Noah finds townsfolk pointing fingers at him. They believe he’s plunged off the precipice of sanity. Noah believes the Hat Man is not only real, but actually exists in a dangerous and deadly other dimension—one the Hat Man affectionately calls “the dead zone.”

He’s thrust into a violent and unpredictable battle to prove his innocence and sanity, win back Angela’s affection, and confront The Dark Menace he believes responsible for all the bloodshed and carnage.

The Dark Menace will be available in leading book retailers soon. In the meantime, if you’ve ever encountered Shadow People or the Hat Man, I’d love to hear about it. Please post your comments below.