William Blackwell

Dark Fiction Author

Category: Posts Page 2 of 9


If you’ve been following my latest blog posts, you’ll already be aware that I’ve unpublished post-apocalyptic thriller THE END IS NIGH and will be republishing it within the next month with brand-new edits and rewrites, and a fresh and stunning new book cover.

If you’ve ever worked with a cover designer before, you’ll know that really it’s an artist collaboration. Typically—in the form of images and words—I send talented cover designer Johnny Breeze my vision. Through a back-and-forth dialogue that often results in a phone conversation or two, Johnny tries to interpret my vision. The result typically is something spectacular. Check out some of my backlist of book covers if you don’t believe me. They’re awesome. And so is Johnny.

But, I digress. On the latest cover design for THE END IS NIGH I decided to do something different. Instead of dreaming up a cover concept—I like to call it a cover vision—I decided on a departure. I thought I’d let Johnny do it for a change. I thought I’d let him create the vision and see what happened. All I did was send him the short and long synopsis.

Short synopsis:

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.

Long synopsis:

Cray Lenning’s life as a garbage collector in a small town is reclusive and boring. Burdened with strong feelings of distrust and resentment, he’s content to wallow in lonely self-pity. But when he witnesses a defrocked preacher proclaim “The end is nigh” seconds before getting struck by a car, Cray’s world spirals out of control.

Initially, Cray dismisses the wayward preacher as a wacko, but ominous signs begin to convince him otherwise. Enter Sandra Colling, a heartbroken but resolute nurse. Together, they build an underground shelter to try and survive a deadly inferno blazing across the country, and embark on a frantic mission to save others. Trapped inside the shelter, they learn the terrifying reality of their choices: a traumatized police detective; a manipulative and self-righteous psychologist; a sadomasochistic sex-addict; a rambling, alcoholic preacher; and a mentally ill redneck with an explosive temper.

Their dire predicament worsens when water runs out and they’re forced to emerge from the shelter. To survive in this God-forsaken wasteland, they must form an unlikely alliance and battle a far more deadly presence topside—a gang of ruthless escaped convicts, hell-bent on starting an evil polygamist cult that rules by fear, intimidation, and brutal murder.

 As is normally the case, Johnny and I had to discuss details a few times before we reached the finished product. Adding more flames, eliminating the cocaine line from below the preacher’s nose (I told him he’s an alcoholic but as far as I know, not a coke head, LOL), adding a few wrinkles, making his hair Einstein-like. Stuff like that. All the rest, I left to his creative imagination. I think you’ll agree when you reach the bottom of this page—the result is nothing short of spectacular.

The second edition promises to be everything the first edition was and much more. Tighter prose. More detailed, hair-raising suspense, and scares. Complete elimination of a few grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors. Best of all, the prices will be much cheaper. With the first edition I had no control over pricing and the ebook was priced at $5.99 and the paperback sold for as much as $35. Are you kidding me? Thirty-five bucks for a paperback?

When THE END IS NIGH is re-released, the ebook will retail for $3.99, paperback $11.99. But the savings don’t stop there. For a limited time, I’ll be offering the second edition ebook for a mere ninety-nine pennies. Stay tuned. I’ll advise you when the SALE starts.

Modesty aside, I think you’ll really enjoy THE END IS NIGH. But don’t take my word for it. Read what reviewers say:

This book kept me up all hours, until I had finished it! I could NOT put it down!! With complex characters, a fast-paced plot, escaped convicted felons and an apocalyptic theme, this book has everything you could want and more. What happens when the world as you know it, is on fire? If you had to choose who you could save, could you? What would you do in order to ensure your survival? Could you trust strangers? Who do you warn of the coming dangers? When 7 people are forced to live together underground in order to survive, personalities, manipulations and secrets will push them all to breaking point. When they are forced to return top side, they are faced with a new reality, one that will have them questioning everything they thought they knew.
I hope there is more of this!


Another page-turner from Blackwell, as most of the others novels I had my hands on from this outstanding horror-fiction writer. I’m pleased to say that this novel met all my expectations, and then some. They main characters create a terrifying and fascinating storyline that quickly turns into an addiction which you won’t let out of your hands before you finished reading it. This dark fiction novel will strike you to the core and creates a tension which I have hardly ever felt with a book in my hands.

-Amazon Kunde

This is a suspense-filled, action-packed thriller. Unlikely bonds are forged between seven complex and disparate characters as they fight evil forces that are both external and internal in an attempt to save themselves as their world burns. They are confronted with the reality of the burning inferno (and subsequent disasters sent to destroy the world and all life forms), the uncertain pasts and intentions of each other, and the real threat of marauding murderers who want to rule the post-apocalyptic world. Underlying the strong plot line is vivid character development and intense examination of relationships and individual motivations.



As always, thanks for stopping by and have an awesome day.

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.

‘Tis the season to better ourselves

Can you believe it? It’s that time of year already. Another year almost under our belts. Another year older. Counting down the days until Christmas. Counting down the days until New Year’s Day.

For better or worse, 2019 here we come.

I’m not a huge fan of Christmas, although I do like the spirit of giving and humanitarianism that it evokes in people. But, sometimes I ask myself, “Why are some people on their best behavior for one, maybe two days of the year? Why can’t they be nice all the time?”

I was surfing through Twitter one morning and I came across a profile that caught my eye. I can’t remember the name now, but I do remember the philosophy the woman had posted on her profile. It went something like this: We have enough smart people. We have enough rich people. We have enough beautiful people. But they’re not going to change the world. Kindness will change the world.

I started thinking about it in the context of the holidays, my lackadaisical attitude about Christmas, and my feeling about New Year’s.

First, Christmas. Why don’t I like it? It’s not so much that I don’t enjoy the giving spirit of Christmas, the fellowship, the time it provides for us to be with our loved ones. I do enjoy that. I also get that Christmas is for kids.

But, literally, figuratively and metaphorically, I don’t buy into the rampant commercialism associated with Christmas. Malls go crazy with shoppers. People are out buying gifts for people they hardly even know, hardly ever see. That uncle you can barely tolerate gets a pair of socks. Maybe a nice pair of mittens for that verbally abusive cousin. You know, the really good ones with the attached strings so he won’t lose them.

And whether people can afford it or not, many make Christmas lists, check them twice, and then go on a shopping spree—often putting themselves in massive debt for the next year or more.

Crazy, you ask me.

Wouldn’t it be nice if instead of buying loads of unnecessary gifts for financially stable people, we gave that money to people in need? Wouldn’t the money be better served there?

Just a thought.

In any event, New Year’s is one of my favorite holidays. As 2019 approaches, I take time to reflect on 2018 and ask myself if I accomplished all of my goals. I review my hand-written goal list and take stock of how I did. I separate my goals into two categories. One, career/financial. Two, personal.

Since the career-financial is less important than the personal, I’ll skip it. You know the saying. When we’re dead and gone, we won’t be remembered by how many toys we’ve managed to accumulate, or in my case how many books I’ve written and sold.

Oh, no.

We’ll be remembered by how many people we’ve loved and by how many people we’ve helped. We’ll be remembered by the depth of that love and the depth of that humanitarianism. It’s that simple.

That’s why New Year’s gives me the opportunity to reflect on my deficiencies, take responsibility for my actions, and not seek refuge in the victim card. It gives me an opportunity to change. To make a fresh start. An opportunity to make new goals and New Year’s Resolutions.

My life, like anybody’s I suppose, is a constant journey in search of positive growth and change. A quest to try and better myself and learn more about my inadequacies, come to terms with them, and find some semblance of happiness and inner peace.

And I’m starting to realize the road to happiness is paved with humanitarianism. Much greater minds than my own have said that one of the greatest joys in life is helping other people. Over the years, I have gotten involved in a number of volunteer jobs, all in an effort to make someone’s life a little better, a little easier, and a little happier.

And the joy and satisfaction I felt through giving unconditionally and selflessly is difficult to put into words. It’s heartwarming, to say the least.

With that in mind, New Year’s resolution number one is to try and practice a more selfless agenda as opposed to a self-serving agenda. A humanitarian agenda.

New Year’s resolution number two. As much as I’m not a materialist, on some level I do tie some of my happiness to financial success—namely book sales. Next year I hope to better understand that the notion that money buys happiness is an illusion. It’s a dead-end street.

At the same time, I take some comfort in the knowledge that I’ve recognized and accepted my faults, and am trying to fix them. Who knows, maybe I’m halfway there. At least recognition, acceptance, and a willingness to change is better than denial.

We live, we learn, and we try not to repeat the same old patterns over and over and over again.

Let’s hope the New Year ushers in a kinder, gentler, and more tolerant humanity.

Happy Holidays!

How to stay focused while writing

With all the distractions in this crazy, mixed up world, mastering how to stay focused while writing can be very difficult. In this complex day and age, it’s often difficult to stay focused on anything for a long period of time, let alone writing.

But, we’re talking about writing here.

I’ve written hundreds of news articles, dozens of university papers, several contracts, and numerous website articles. In addition, I’m currently doing edits and rewrites on my nineteenth novel. A supernatural thriller, The Witch’s Tombstone is about a troubled young woman cursed with shadowy supernatural powers who believes she’s the descendant of an evil witch who was burned at the stake in the 1700s for her crimes.

An aspiring writer friend recently said, “I don’t know how you do it. I haven’t figured out how to stay focused while writing.”

Whether you’re writing an email to a friend, a university or high-school paper, or your own novel, you’ll have to figure out a recipe that works for you. Here are some proven tips to help you master how to stay focused while writing.

Find your flow. When you get into the zone, you can write fluently, holding multiple pieces of a story in your head simultaneously, often without referring to notes. Wikipedia defines flow as “the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, flow is characterized by complete absorption in what one does, and a resulting loss in one’s sense of space and time.”

When I find my flow, hours seem to pass by in the blink of an eye. I get so immersed and engrossed in the story, I forget to eat, forget to shower, and forget all about the phone and social media. My story catapults me into a fantastical and amazing world that almost becomes more real than the world in which we live.

Turn off your phone. Turn off all social media. Close your email.

Often people who think they can multitask are only fooling themselves. Researchers have demonstrated that when we multitask, oftentimes many tasks are completed poorly. There is still something to be said for concentrating on one task, completing it, and then moving on to the next.

Turn the TV off. Turn the radio off.

I guess some writers listen to music or have the TV blaring in the background while they write. However, I’d hazard a guess that this doesn’t work for most of us. It hearkens back to the research on multitasking; that often your brain is incapable of handling several tasks efficiently.

Come to grips with distractions. Even if you turn your communications off, you will get distracted. Accept it. Sometimes your brain will be slow to kick into gear and you’ll feel your thoughts wandering. Don’t panic. Just remind yourself that you have to concentrate and stay focused. Gently steer your mind to the writing task at hand.

When I start my writing day, often at six or seven in the morning, my mind is generally slow to find the thread of the story. The words often feel clunky, the dialogue wooden. I see plot-holes everywhere. But, as long as you’re comfortable with your revision process, knowing you can polish the sentences later, convince yourself to plow forward and write the story. Often it takes me an hour or more before I find my flow, after which the words seem to come effortlessly and smoothly.

Got ants in your pants? I often find myself getting up from my desk to get something or do something and I have to constantly tell myself to return to the office and get back to work. If you want to learn how to stay focused while writing, you’ll have to learn to sit still. When you find yourself wandering aimlessly around the house, remind yourself to get back to work, even if you have to shout it out to snap yourself back to the task at hand.

Set a schedule. Figure out the time of day when you’re at your best and write then if you can. As I said, I’m at my best in the morning. I put aside three to five hours every morning (of every working day) for nothing but writing. If you have to, determine how many hours your project will take and then allocate a set amount of hours to it weekly so you’ll finish it on time.

Sometimes setting a daily word count goal helps. It works for me. During novel writing, I generally set a daily quota of 2,000 words. When, and only when, I reach that goal, do I begin doing all my other writing-related tasks and domestic chores.

Do the things that inspire you. If your inspiration comes from visiting your friends, schedule a visit before you start writing. I find inspiration from a number of sources: horror movies, news, reading, conversations, people-watching, and Mother Nature. I tap into all of them regularly to keep my creative juices flowing. It’s also important to take time away from your writing so you don’t burn out.

This might contradict what I said earlier, but if you find you can’t get your muse flowing, try changing up your schedule. Maybe you find you have too many things to do in the morning. Too many things on your mind. Maybe your mind will be calmer and more focused at night. It doesn’t hurt to experiment.

Whatever your writing goals are, start now. Don’t procrastinate. If you put aside just a little time every day for writing, you might find that as the days pass, you become more excited about your work and more inclined to dedicate larger blocks of time to it.

Lastly, don’t be daunted if you don’t get it right the first time. Be prepared for disappointment, pain and suffering.

After all, if writing was easy, we’d all be doing it.

Remember what President Theodore Roosevelt said: “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.”


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.

What happened to our right to privacy?

In the age of big information technology companies, the notion of privacy has become a joke. To name a few (and there are hundreds, if not millions of companies, doing this), Microsoft, Facebook and Google all track your movements, develop a profile on you, and use that information to make money. What happened to our right to privacy?

And here’s the kicker. There’s little, if anything, that you can do about it.

I’m constantly being bombarded by online ads based, not only on my internet search history, but also on the content of my emails.

I’ve already established, as have greater minds than my own, that internet privacy is a fallacy, a joke, an illusion of monumental proportions.

And if you believe Facebook is some kind of a social media saint, guess again. Facebook has tons of data on you, including every message or file you’ve ever sent or ever received; every audio message you’ve sent or received.

Based on what you’ve liked and what your friends discuss, Facebook determines, tracks and stores what they think you might be interested in. When you log into Facebook, they track and store log-in location, time, and from which device you logged in.

According to data consultants and analysts, Facebook also tracks, when technologically possible, where you are. At random, they can access your laptop or desktop webcam or microphone, your computer contacts, emails, calendar, call history, files you download, photos, internet search history and more.

Much, much more.

If you have Facebook on your phone, they have access to all of your contacts and photos, in some cases even your text messages.

It doesn’t take an Albert Einstein to figure out all the potential nefarious uses of this information. As a writer, I’m dependent on the internet for my livelihood. If I wasn’t, I’d be awfully tempted to buy a landline to keep in touch with friends and family, and toss my smartphone and laptop into the trash can. Maybe then, I’d reclaim my privacy.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not denying there are good things associated with the internet and social media. But, if you think for a second that these behemoth tech companies view our privacy as a priority, think again.

It seems abundantly clear that they’re doing the exact opposite—going to great lengths to invade and exploit our privacy for commercial gain.

What happened to our right to privacy? We forfeited it when we decided to watch cute little cat videos on Facebook and surf the internet.

Be careful what you search for. Big Brother is watching.

International Make a Friend Week—August 9th to 16th

It’s been said if you can count them on one hand, you’re doing very well. Friends, that is. I’m not trying to brag or anything, but I must be extremely fortunate. Without specifying numbers, I can count my friends on more than two hands. I’m not talking acquaintances here. People you say hi to once in a while, maybe even invite to dinner occasionally, and perhaps have a five-minute—often mundane and meaningless—conversation with when you bump into them in the grocery store.

I’m talking inner circle people. Those who know you well, know your character flaws, and love you anyway. Those who—as long as you don’t cross a moral red line in the sand—are willing to forgive and forget your indiscretions. I’m talking people who would give you the shirt of their back, loan you money (if they had it), drop everything and come running to your aid if you were suffering a major crisis. I’m talking about people with whom you connect with on an emotional and intellectual level. People you can tell your innermost secrets to with the sure knowledge that they will not betray your trust. People you don’t need an appointment with to talk to or visit.  People you can call anytime. People who praise, not criticize your success, support you through good and bad times, have confidence in you, and encourage you to reach for the stars. You can spend hours with them and time flies by as if it were mere minutes, even seconds. Instead of sapping you of energy, they rejuvenate and fill you with happiness.

Of course, these are just a few of the criteria for close friends. The list goes on and on. I understand I generalize to a degree. What works for me might not work for someone else. Some people might be more or less forgiving; others might be able to tolerate more bullshit and still consider someone a close friend.

Whatever, your criteria, you know what works for you.

How many close, inner circle friends do you have? Have you ever stopped to ask yourself how many close friends your friends have? Have you ever asked them? The answer might surprise you. To some of my close friends, I’ve asked, “This isn’t a competition or anything but how many really close friends do you have?” I’ve received answers such as, “One… and it’s you.” This from a close friend whom I considered to have a vast social circle.

Another response, “I’m lucky I can count them on one hand.”

Once I was bold enough to ask an acquaintance this question. The answer, sad but true, “I don’t have any friends unless you count family. And I don’t.”

I told you that to tell you this. Maybe it’s time we stepped out of the shell of imperfection and misconception and ventured out in the world to try and make a new friend or two. Whether we’re willing to admit it or not, we all need social contact, love and companionship.

I once mistakenly thought I could survive on the cherished friendship of Robbie the Rabbit and Alvin the Chipmunk. Don’t get me wrong, their social skills are impeccable and they would never let me down. But after some time, we solved all the world’s problems and I realized it was time to broaden my horizons and make friends with a few human beings on Prince Edward Island. I’m managing okay, but I still have some work to do.  After all, we can never have too many friends, at least not of the inner circle variety.

That’s why I’m declaring the week of August 9th to August 16tth (that’s tomorrow, folks) International Make a Friend Week. So step out of the box of solitude, reservation and self-doubt. Step out of your comfort zone. Call up an acquaintance, someone you’ve always wanted to get to know better and start building a friendship. Revive an old friendship, one that perhaps has become extinct with the ravages of time. Or, put yourself in social situations where you can meet more people, make new friends. I’m sure you’ll be glad you did.

You might be wondering who died and made me God, granting me the power and authority to suddenly declare it International Make a Friend Week. No one did. Hey, I’m just trying to help you guys out; maybe even trying to help myself out.

Whatever you might think about all your worldly possessions—your beautiful car, your beautiful house and all your beautiful toys, they do not measure up to the value of true friendship. As Thomas Aquinas once said, “There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship.”

So go on, give it a try. Pay it forward. Maybe it’ll catch on.

When self-discipline flies away

Everyone says I’m so good at it. Self-discipline and focus so finely tuned I sometimes get tunnel vision, losing track of what day it is, or that I actually need to eat. In the winter, spring and fall I have my routine; get up at six, get a coffee (or ten) in me and hit the keyboards. Two thousand words later, I would leave the office, eat, take care of domestic chores and complete life-sustaining chores. My afternoons were reserved for reading and research. In my six-day work week, I would also put a few hours aside for book marketing and blog posts. If I felt like I deserved it, I would perhaps treat myself to a walk in the forest late afternoon and maybe a movie in the evening. And, like clockwork, take one day off a week.

But when summer arrived this year, my self-discipline and focus flew out the window. Who knows, maybe it went to the beach? You want to hear my excuses? I thought you might.

On June 11th, while cutting wood for winter heat, I tore a ligament in my lower back. The pain was so intense, I could barely get off the couch for two weeks and was swallowing pain-killers like they were candy. During that stretch, the pain got so severe, I actually started to wonder if this new development would be a life-time injury.

It made me think. If I couldn’t play in the (often so inspirational and enjoyable) forest, and I couldn’t sit down at my desk for longer than five minutes to string a sentence together, than what was the point of living? You might think this is a bit harsh, but think about it. Two of the things I love most in this world are writing and enjoying the outdoors. And all of a sudden I couldn’t do any of them. Life is one thing, but quality of life matters more, at least to me. I couldn’t imagine going through life in constant pain, having to depend on others, and debilitated to the point where I couldn’t do some of the things that give me the most satisfaction.

However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Only two days ago, the pain decreased to the point where I’m off the pain killers. I can still feel a dull roar in my back, and I’m sure it’ll be another month before I can pick up a chainsaw. But at least I can sit at my desk for an hour or two at a time and write. I can take a walk in the forest. I can go to the beach and do light exercise, maybe even go for a swim if that’s what picks my fancy.

But just when the back pain began to fade, another pain took hold. I started suffering from severe headaches. While chewing. While talking. Even when I wasn’t flapping my jaws. Before I started down the dark path of self-pity and morbid introspection on quality of life, I got it diagnosed.

I have allergies that often create nasal congestion as allergens build up in my system. The nasal congestion occasionally causes the Eustachian tube in my left ear to get clogged. When that happens, I can’t pop my ears. Pressure builds up and causes severe headaches. The cure is a daily dose of antihistamines and a nasal decongestant. I’ve been on both for the last three days. And, wonder of wonders, today I am almost sure my ear actually popped. It was first thing this morning when I crawled out of bed at 8:00 am and yawned. I felt and heard some air escape and now fortunately I feel much better. Similar to the back pain, I still feel a dull roar in my left ear, but nothing like before.

So, back to work? Well, kind of, sort of. The weather is way too nice right now to return to my usual tunnel-vision routine. And something happened to me a few days ago that really gave my life some perspective. I was driving my utility tractor (affectionately named Freddy Krueger) up a winding road from my beachfront one night when all of a sudden the steering jammed in a left-turn position and sent me crashing into a tree. The tree was about fifteen feet off the road and I had ample time to slam on the brakes, barely scratching the tree, barely scratching myself.  That particular road, part of a moonshine operation during Prohibition, is affectionately named Cemetery Lane. Don’t forget, as a horror writer, I get a kick out of these macabre names.

Long story short, my trustworthy mechanic arrived a few days later with a truck and a winch, pulled Freddy from Cemetery Lane and rushed him into intensive care. The diagnosis—a broken front axle.

As he was examining Freddy, and doing a forensic analysis of the crash scene, his jaw dropped.

“What’s wrong,” I asked, watching the color drain from his face.

“You’re lucky,” he said, pointing to a large tree stump about three feet from the road that I had narrowly missed. “If the axle would’ve busted about three feet sooner, you probably would have hit that stump. It would have catapulted you off the tractor. It definitely would have totaled the tractor and who knows what might’ve happened to you.”

Thinking about it now, all the whining I’ve been doing about a lower-back torn ligament and allergy-induced headaches seems trivial in comparison to the Cemetery Lane tree crash. I could have died. Worse still, I could’ve ended up a paraplegic.

And here’s the perspective. Do the things you love to do while you can. See the people who matter in your life while you can. Life is short. Life is precious. It can be snatched away in the blink of an eye. So, no I won’t be resuming my normal routine until September. I think I can take a little bit of downtime without beating myself up with that powerful and useless emotion called guilt.

Oh, for sure I’ll do a little writing this month. I’m always working on a new book. I’ll even do a little research. But, I’m gonna take a little time to smell the wild roses in the back-forty and invite a few friends over to celebrate the thing so many of us take for granted. Life. And, now that I’m feeling way better, good health.

Thanks for stopping by.


A magical healing stone and a witch

The Micmac are a First Nations people indigenous to Canada’s Atlantic Provinces. They were nomads who wandered all over the northeast coast of New Brunswick, the Gaspe Peninsula of Quebec, and all through Prince Edward Island. According to Joyce Barkhouse, THE WITCH OF PORT LAJOYE, the Micmac told many strange tales around remote wilderness campfires, “stories of the creation of the earth, the sun, the moon and the stars; of plants and animals; of stones; of stones and islands; of winds and floods; stories of the supernatural and the peculiar behavior of certain human beings.”

Passed on from generation to generation, one such legend (sourced from Joyce Barkhouse’s novel, THE WITCH OF PORT LAJOYE) is the stone of Mineota. As the story goes, a Micmac chief called Kiotsaton, grieving the loss of his wife, wandered away from the rest of his tribe along with his son Kitpou and daughter Mineota. Deep in the forest, surrounded by towering pines and looming spruce trees, they made camp near a shimmering spring-fed lake.

On the third night, Kiotsaton was confronted by the great god Glooscap, who warned him that an angry spirit inhabits the spring and if he dares to venture on the lake called Minnewauken, great harm and evil will visit him. And, although Glooscap told him to leave, Kiotsaton insisted on staying, saying his grieving heart found enormous comfort and healing at the spring-fed lake.

So Kiotsaton and his children grew up beside Lake Minnewauken, never forgot Glooscap’s warning, and never set foot in the lake. But one day, when her father and brother were off hunting, the beautiful Mineota went picking berries along the shore. Gazing at her reflection in the still water a short time later, her long hair accidentally touched the water. A ferocious gurgling sound followed and a whirlpool suddenly formed, widened, and tried to suck her down.

She was able to narrowly escape the danger, but not before glimpsing a green, slimy, ferocious monster rising out of the middle of the lake.

Although she told her brother Kitpou, he did not heed her warning. A short time later, he launched a canoe into the lake and the evil monster reared its ugly head, sucking Kitpou and his canoe deep into the bowels of the lake.

Angry and heartbroken, father Kiotsaton threw rocks into the lake, calling out the evil one. And when the monster appeared, he shot it with an arrow. Snarling and hissing, the head disappeared back into the lake, although it’s unclear if the arrow actually found its mark.

But what happened next was an apocalypse of sorts. The waters of the spring rose and towered in the sky and then a gigantic wave descended on the land, causing a roaring flood and massive death and devastation.

The great god Glooscap again confronted Kiotsaton, declaring that the only way to appease the angry spirit of Minnewauken and prevent more bloodshed and devastation would be to offer his daughter Mineota as a sacrifice. But Kiotsaton adamantly refused.

Overhearing her father’s words, Mineota silently slipped into the troubled waters and disappeared, appeasing the offended spirit, driving back the waters, and restoring calm.

Kiotsaton grieved for many moons until finally Glooscap appeared before him again.

“Your daughter’s sacrifice shall not go unrewarded,” the great god said. “The spirit of fair Minetoa shall return and live on within a stone which you will find where your wigwam stood. This stone shall have healing powers for the people of your tribe alone. It is for you, Kiotsaton, to use all the days of your life, but when you die it must be dropped into the deep bubbling spring of Minnewauken.”

“And after my death, may the medicine stone never be used again?” Kiotsaton asked.

The great god responded with a warning: “If the one who enters the waters of Minnewauken to seek it thinks only of the one to be healed, and has not thought of self, then the stone can be brought out and used again to heal those of Micmac blood.”

Kiotsaton found the magic stone, became a notable medicine man, and used its magic powers and the spirit of his daughter to cure many. Shortly before his death, he returned it to the deepest part of the spring, where it sank to the bottom and lay hidden for hundreds of years.

Until Micmac chief Kaktoogwassees, distraught over the failing health of his Caucasian wife La Belle Marie, plunged into the depths of the chilly water, retrieved the copper-colored stone, and used it to cure his ailing wife.

And that’s when things turned disastrous.

La Belle Marie’s husband was murdered.

Accused of being the witch of Port LaJoye, she was burned at the stake.

So you see, out of one old and sacred Micmac legend comes another tale of the bitter fate of La Belle Marie. Where one story ends, another begins.

According to Barkhouse, “To this day, the story of Marie is told by the Micmac of Prince Edward Island. The bubbling source is thought to be in the western part of the Island, a place now called Scales’ Pond. Some think it is near Fort Amherst or Rocky Point. Still others think the spring is, indeed, near St. Peter’s.”

The story of the magic stone of Mineota, the witch of Port LaJoye, and the witch’s tombstone, all form part of my research for my latest work in progress.

Tentatively titled The Witch’s Tombstone, here’s a short synopsis: A troubled young woman cursed with shadowy supernatural powers believes she’s the descendent of an evil witch who was reportedly burned at the stake in the 1700s for her crimes.

Combining myths, facts, legends and creativity, expect to see my latest supernatural thriller on bookshelves soon.

Thanks for stopping by and enjoy your day.

When the stars align perfectly

I might have said this before, but it was a monumental struggle to finally reach THE END of The Dark Menace, a supernatural thriller I’ve been working on since some time last winter. In fact, it’s been so long, I’ve forgotten exactly what date I started it.

But, sometimes, the stars align perfectly. At long last, today I finished my final edits on the book. And oh, what a relief it is. So many months of research, so many months of writing, and so many months of painstaking polishing—finally culminating in what I truly believe is a sensational story 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.

As a wordsmith, it should be easy for me. But, it’s not. It’s hard to put into words the feeling of satisfaction I get when I reach THE END of a novel. It’s always a bittersweet moment when I unleash my creations onto the world. You see, I’ve gotten to know them intimately, grown to love many of them, and now it’s time to let them go. I liken it to the feeling a mother or father must experience when their children grow into adults and they must open the protective cocoon, let them loose into the world in search of love, job security, indeed even a sense of identity and independence.

As a mother would with her child, I hope my characters also find love, fame and fortune, and are able to touch and influence people in ways I never thought possible.

But it wasn’t only the edits that came together today. I’ve been working with talented cover artist Johnny Breeze for, well, let’s just say I forget how long. And, seven versions later, we’ve finally arrived at what I believe is a truly sensational cover for The Dark Menace.

As is usually the case, when one thing goes well in your life, a snowball effect often occurs. It’s not like I’ve been strictly concentrating on The Dark Menace. I’m also researching and writing The Witch’s Tombstone. I still have to keep up with my blog posts and promote my novels. I have a life to live after all, full of domestic chores, nagging house repairs, and planned improvements to my large beachfront acreage.

Oh, wait a minute. Speaking of the beachfront acreage, that’s another project that has gone remarkably well and reached a successful conclusion. Many years in the making, I’ve groomed and developed numerous sites on the property for recreation and leisure purposes. Some are within a hundred feet from the beach, others are in the thick of the forest. But all of them offer a special kind of magic and beauty. As a nature lover, I’ve taken great pains to minimize my environmental footprint on the forest and natural surroundings. Fortunately, I hired a mini excavator operator/logger, who shares my love of Mother Nature and also took great pains to minimize the environmental footprint. The results, on time, under budget, and minimally invasive, are nothing short of spectacular.

Since I draw so much inspiration from my breathtaking surroundings, it seemed only fitting for me to give back to Mother Nature as much as I could, or at least preserve as much of her natural beauty as I could.

It’s normal and natural for humankind to tamper with Mother Nature.

The trick is to do it in harmony with her.

But, alas, I digress. Where was I? Right. My writing projects. Since I just completed final edits of The Dark Menace, I guess it’s time to kick it into high gear on The Witch’s Tombstone, my latest work in progress. But first maybe I’ll kick up my heals at Mother Nature’s beach, savor this moment of multi-accomplishment, and enjoy some of the simple things in life—like a glass of Scotch on the rocks and amazing scenery.

Enough about me. For your reading pleasure, here’s Chapter One of The Dark Menace. Painstakingly proofread. Lovingly polished. Thanks for stopping by and enjoy.



                                                 CHAPTER ONE

A kaleidoscope of brilliant colors flashed before his eyes. Deep greens, dark purples, vibrant pinks, reds and blues. Inside the colors, images appeared—faceless apparitions with indistinct and undulating shapes. Some of the ghost-like images were black, some white. They twirled in the rainbow of colors, shrinking and growing, shrinking and growing. Then the black images began attacking the white images, slicing them with machetes, stabbing them with knives, biting into their heads and bodies with menacing fangs. Horrifying screams punctuated the eerie silence and Noah, his eyes opening in shock and terror, bolted upright.

Where am I? He looked around at the darkness and saw large trees looming in the distance, illuminated faintly by the white glow of a full moon. The ghostly combatants had disappeared. A forest. But where? Brushing off dirt and leaves from his clothes, he stood up, trying to make sense of his surroundings. But try as he might, he couldn’t figure out how he’d gotten here. Worse, he couldn’t remember events of the last week. He tried to take a step, but felt a numbness and an electric tingling sensation in his body that strained his efforts. He managed one step and stopped, frozen to the spot. A terrible feeling of cold dread surged through his veins. He felt his heart begin to pound in his chest furiously; struggling to escape its rib cage prison cell and leave him to fend for himself. After three or four panicked gasps, he managed to restrain his cardiovascular prisoner.

“What’s going on?” Noah asked. “Where am I?”

In Noah’s panic-tinged tone, the forest echoed back a response: “What’s going on? Where am I?”

Fighting paralyzing protestations, he took a step, crunching into the forest carpet. It brought him renewed confidence, helping to diminish the fear demons. That’s it. You can do it. Noah needed to leave the forest and search out some city lights. That way, he could find his apartment in downtown Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, get to his bedroom, resume his sleep and wipe this nightmare off the map; if indeed that’s what it was.

Locating a path in the forest, he crunched his way along, rubbing his shoulders and arms in an effort to eliminate the tingling numbness and the bone-chilling cold that was slowly enveloping him. He was still looking down at the path when he felt its evil presence. He looked up instantly, knowing, but not wanting to know what he was about to see.

But it was different this time. He was different. Noah stopped dead in his tracks.

Illuminated by the ominously glowing moon and the black looming trees, the old man grinned. He produced a machete and held it high in the air, adjusting his tattered straw hat and scratching his stubble with his free hand.

“You’ve finally come to meet your maker,” he said. Then he cackled in an incongruously high-pitched voice.

The cold chill coursing through Noah’s veins turned to ice. Oh my God, no. He had seen the man in many forms in his childhood years, and wasn’t wasting any time on small talk now. He turned around and ran, taking some measure of satisfaction in the realization that the ice in his body had miraculously thawed and his legs willingly complied.

Noah turned a corner on the path and glanced back. The man was coming for him. He knew that if he caught him, there would be no mercy. As in his childhood nightmares, he would be sliced and diced to smithereens.

You’re dreaming, you’re dreaming, you’re dreaming, Noah thought as he ran. Hide.

As if he’d been reading Noah’s thoughts, the man replied, “You can run, but you can’t hide.”

Panting and puffing, Noah rounded another bend and came into a clearing in the forest. In a corner, just inside the tree-line, was a large hollowed-out log. Quickly he bent down and crawled inside, curling up in a fetal position as soon as he was out of sight, hoping against all hope that the menacing man was wrong. He could hide. He would hide. He would wake up and return to the comfort of his bed.

He struggled to control his breathing as the twig-snapping footfalls grew nearer. Then it became quiet. Eerily quiet. But in the silence, Noah heard the sound of breathing, not his own—a raspy, nasally inhaling and exhaling that grew louder. In a terrified instant, he knew it was too late. He was caught. Time to die.

“I got you now,” the man said, the sound of his approaching footfalls nearing. “You can run but you can’t hide.”

Before he could move, Noah heard a splitting sound and he knew right away what it was. Metal on wood. The man was chopping at the rotten tree trunk with his machete. Chopping through to him. But a split-second later, instead of the sharp metal of the blade, Noah felt the stomping of a boot heel on the small of his back and a bolt of red hot pain shot up his spine.

He tried to scream. Nothing. He tried to move. Nothing. He was frozen, once again.

The man cackled. “I bet that hurts. What I’m gonna do next will really mess you up.”

Noah tried to crawl out of the log but he was paralyzed. He pressed his eyes shut tightly, gritted his teeth and tried with all his strength to break free.

The sound of a distant wailing siren suddenly snapped him back into reality.

When he opened his eyes, he was sitting bolt upright, staring at the small green nightlight that instantly told him he was back in his house, back in his bedroom. With a loud sigh, he curled up in bed. His heart stilled, and the fear slowly melted away. A terrible nightmare. Nothing more.

But it wasn’t long before a dark presence invaded the room—thick and palpable. His heartbeat once again thumped louder, faster. Beads of perspiration sprouted on his forehead. His throat became dry and the numbing, tingling sensation returned. Green dots danced in front of him and he tried to reassure himself. It’s from the nightlight. Don’t worry.

But he was too afraid to open his eyes, in case the inbred-looking hillbilly had returned. Finally, it became too much. He felt like he was being completely engulfed by this dark and evil presence, as if it was swallowing him whole and turning him into some kind of a monster. Emotions swept through him—anger, rage, anxiety and finally a powerful sadness that slowly gave rise to fear.

He opened his eyes. Oh God, please. All this time. Why now?

The darkly cloaked man stood at the foot of his bed, staring at him. Looking at him as if he was trying to reach into Noah’s soul and snatch it away. The man raised a hand and touched his wide-brimmed black hat. Noah tried to shout, scream, move but it was no use at all. He was paralyzed, frozen like a chunk of ice. The Hat Man walked around to the side of the bed and leaned down, his black face, a dark mask with no discernible features whatsoever, moved in closer.

Like an incubated alien fetus, Noah was sure his pounding heart would snap his ribcage, tear his muscles and flesh, leap right out of his chest, and escape its humanoid incarceration once and for all. His mind filled with the sudden image of a slimy extraterrestrial creature exploding onto the Hat Man and wrapping its deadly tentacles around his throat and face, constricting and suffocating the life out of the monster. If he wasn’t paralyzed with fear, he might have grinned.

The black face moved closer and stopped six inches or so from Noah’s face. Noah’s breathing became labored and he felt a painful tightening in his chest. The small of his back still stung from the hillbilly’s heel. Time to die. This is what it feels like to die. Not now, oh please God, not now. With raw panic rising up his throat like a sick green bile, he mustered all his strength and jerked. His body twitched and convulsed and he instantly sat upright, gasping for breath as sweat streamed down his face. Eyes wide with terror, he watched the Hat Man shrink, retreat and disappear out of sight, trailed by a green dragon tail emanating from the glowing green nightlight.

It took a few minutes for Noah to calm himself down. When his breathing finally returned to something approximating normal, he glanced at his digital alarm clock: 3:33 am. He climbed out of bed, wincing as the small of his back ignited with fiery pain. He was still trembling by the time he reached the bathroom. Still too terrified to look in the mirror, he wiped his face with a towel, relieved himself, sat down gingerly on his living room couch and flicked on a table lamp. He needed some incandescent comfort right now to try and make sense of the nightmare that had seemed so much more than a nightmare.

The Hat Man had returned. With a vengeance. He had been only six the last time he’d seen the Hat Man, thirty-four years ago. But he remembered the haunting experience as if it had happened yesterday. As a child, he’d suffered from frequent nightmares, many of them paralyzing. There were variations of many themes, but most involved some kind of a monster chasing him with the intent to kill. And while they’d terrified him, none of them had resulted in physical injury. Except for the Hat Man. As a child, the darkly cloaked intruder had bent down to his bed, wrapped cold fingers around his throat and began choking the life out of him. He remembered gasping for breath. He remembered the constricting pain he’d felt as he leaped out of bed, rushed from his bedroom in terror and face-planted into the hallway wall. He’d suffered a concussion that dislodged much of his cognitive functions for two weeks and kept him out of school for three weeks. He absently rubbed the scar above his left eye, the result of the concussive cut that had required six stitches to repair.

But, after that ill-fated evening, the nightmares had stopped. All the monsters and the Hat Man had vanished. Maybe the concussion—which doctors had described as moderate to severe—had helped. Whatever the reason, Noah had managed to banish the Hat Man, along with all the other shadowy creatures, from his waking and sleeping world. Blocked them out and successfully expelled them from his existence.

Growing up in Calgary, Alberta, had been tough too, but he’d also managed to block that out. He’d been eighteen when his stepfather, Garrett, and his mother Barbara combined lethal doses of opioids and alcohol one night during a horror-movie binge-watching session. The irony at the time hadn’t been missed by Noah. They’d been watching a remake of a Jack the Ripper slasher movie when the grim reaper, with his death-dealing scythe, had decided to pay them a life-ending visit.

But, like the Hat Man, Noah had put it behind him like a fading shadow, and had focused full-tilt on work, not willing to admit to himself, on any level, that at best the workaholic cure would only serve as a Band-Aid solution to a gaping traumatic wound. In spite of himself, images began to float into his head, images of Barbara slumped over on the couch, her glass of vodka and orange juice, her signature poison still held tightly in her hand. Garrett, the loser that he was, nestled in beside her, his head slumped on her shoulder, his mouth open wide, his venom of choice, a Molson Canadian beer, spilled onto his lap.

But, as he’d done successfully throughout his life, Noah, in spite of a knot of sadness and grief tightening in his stomach, pushed the dark shadows into the dark recesses of his mind. In his mind’s eye, he grabbed the Hat Man forcefully and tossed him into the cavernous hole along with the others, locked the closet door and threw away the key.

He smiled. He was starting to feel better already. “Mind over matter,” he said, trying to boost his confidence. “That’s all it is. Mind over matter.”

A few minutes later, as he drifted off into what would be a dreamless and peaceful sleep, the only thought that crossed his mind was one that brought anticipatory chills of excitement. Last week, he’d asked Angela Rosewood, a cashier at a nearby Wendy’s fast-food restaurant, out on a date. And, finally, after the fourth entreaty, she’d accepted. Tomorrow was the big day.

As he drifted off, her acceptance speech echoed in his head: “I used to think you were weird. And I probably still do. But you’re weird in a positive sort of way. You’re five times lucky. I guess I’ll go.”


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