Odds, Sods, Gods and Broads: The Goddess Makes Entirely Too Much Work For Herself

The cause of evil never rests, as all of you know, and as a card-carrying emissary of said evil, I work tirelessly to bring you, my minions, the most enjoyable nastiness that my fevered brain can vomit up. Yes, I bestow upon you small nuggets of nefariousness in the form of these here blog posts (and I will have a new Scary Silents up by the beginning of next week, I promise; it will either be about The Sealed Room from 1909 or Dante’s Inferno from 1911, so sit tight), but there is so much more, darklings, and perhaps you don’t realize the extent of my iniquitous empire. If you’ve read any of my previous ramblings, you’ll know that I often piss and moan about how busy I am, so for your edification, I’m gonna outline exactly what I’m doing with all my malevolent hours. So here, in handy-dandy list form with pictures and links and everything, are the ten projects the Goddess has going on right now:

1. Something Old, Something New

Like any writer, I have a fuckton of unpublished bullshit lying around on the sofa, not helping out with the rent and just generally being useless wastes of space. In order to make these shiftless little word-bums earn their keep, I’ve decided to put out a NEW print book containing a veritable gumbo of goodness: New short stories! Older short stories that appeared in anthologies years ago that you probably didn’t read! Unpublished screenplays! Even modified versions of some of my favorite posts on this very site! At the moment, the book’s working title is Salmagundi, but I might change it if I think of something better, which I probably will. It’s gonna be an epic compilation of my various brain leavings and obsessions, and you’ll all need to buy copies for everyone you know for the upcoming holiday season, or else Jesus won’t bring you any presents and Santa Claus will let his reindeer shit in your rain gutters. I will, of course, be posting the link when this literary milestone drops, so keep your eyeballs peeled.

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2. Mammoth Mountain Mischief

By now you all know that the book I co-authored with the God of Hellfire, The Mammoth Mountain Poltergeist, is the best poltergeist book ever penned and will bring about world peace in our lifetimes. In my frazzled, half-assed way, I try to promote the thing, mostly through paranormal-type radio shows and podcasts (such as here, here, and here). The GoH and I will soon be appearing on yet another one of these, the UK-based Keeping the Paranormal Friendly show! Tune in on Sunday, August 9th at 4:00pm Eastern Time and watch our sexy, Skype-enabled mugs flapping our jaws about the book. Then buy a copy in print or Kindle, goddammit.

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3. More Paranormal Hijinks

As I believe I’ve mentioned a few times before, my above-mentioned foray into paranormal nonfiction drew the attention of British parapsychologist Steve Mera of MAPIT, and I am working with him on a book about the Rochdale poltergeist case from 1996. I’ve written the bulk of the narrative, and now the first draft of it is in Steve’s hands so that he can correct details and add his own insights. I’m not sure when this will be done, but it will definitely be soon, so again, keep watching this space.

4. Dirty, Filthy Sex

Since some of my horror stories veer into erotica territory, I’ve been toying with the idea of starting a series of straight-up erotica tales (which, since it’s me, will likely have horror elements, because I just can’t seem to help myself). These will be longer short stories, published as ebook exclusives and sold for about 99 cents each. I will also probably write them under a pseudonym, just to keep everything kinda separate, but I’m not gonna make a big secret about what the pseudonym is (when I decide on one, that is), so I’m not trying to be sneaky or nothin’. I’ve written part of an erotic short story so far, and hopefully I’d like to get to the point where I’m cranking out at least one a week. Keep the lube and tissues handy for the first moist installment!

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5. Ambition, Thy Name is Goddess

Christ on a cream cracker, I’m already worn out and I’m only on number five. But this here is a project I’ve been mulling over for years, and I hope to have it come to fruition fully in 2016. It’s going to be a serialized novel/interactive mystery that spans several mediums. I don’t want to go into too many details, because I’m still working everything out, but I’m very excited about this and hope I can do it without fucking it all up. I’ve already got gobs and gobs of notes, layouts, designs, video scripts, and so forth; the logistics of it are complicated, but I think it’ll either turn out super cool and make me a beloved horror sensation, or flop spectacularly into a wet diarrhea fart of insignificance. Either way, it’ll be fun for me to do, so, y’know. *shrug*

6. Cooking With Satan

Here’s something you might not know: In addition to being a writer, I am also a graphic designer. Here’s another thing you might not know: I have cool-as-shit friends. One of these friends is the motherfuckin’ Vegan Black Metal Chef, who is rad and metal as fuck and has an awesome YouTube show where he cooks delicious vegan vittles whilst he serenades you with ear-bleeding death-metal tunes that describe the recipe so that you may follow along in your own kitchen/dungeon. Subscribe to him, he rules. Anyway, I have been working with him for the past several months to design a cookbook as epic as his show is, and we’ll be coming down the home stretch in the next couple months. By the way, he has a Patreon, so throw some filthy lucre in his direction. The book is gonna be badass, and seriously, you don’t have to be a vegan to want to cook some of this shit in here, because all of it is devilishly delectable. *horned hand salute*

7. All About the Club Life

Speaking of cool-as-shit friends, I have another one known as DJ Lavidicus, and he hosts the best monthly goth-industrial night in central Florida, Memento Mori at Independent Bar in downtown Orlando. Great music, great crowd, great vibe, and if you’re in the area, you need to check it out as soon as you can. The GoH and I always make an appearance, and we also have a hand in promoting the night and the scene in general! I design all the posters and promo materials! The next one is going to be on Monday, August 17th, but go to the Facebook page to keep up with dates and make requests! (Might as well check out the Facebook page I run with the GoH too, Our Gothic Orlando, while you’re at it, and also check out Cold Therapy, the band featuring the beautiful wife of DJ Lavidicus, Jen Draven.)

Oh, and I can’t mention Memento Mori without mentioning our other beloved monthly scene night, Escape at Southern Nights! Hosted by some talented and batshit insane friends of ours, it tends more toward fetish, with outrageous costumes, monthly themes, sexy dancers, crazy game shows, and general debauchery, so kindly stop by, say hello to the GoH and myself, and maybe have a chance to go up on stage and get playfully molested by a giant bunny! Here are a few videos to whet your appetite!

8. I Know People in Bands Too, You Guys

Speaking of that graphic design work I do, a large percentage of it comes from my amazing friend Imani and her company, Valkyrie Management. She manages tons of (largely) death metal bands in the area, and she’s always got shows going all over the place, for which I design several posters, tickets and T-shirts every month. Check out her page, check out her bands, go see some of them play! Live music, motherfucker!

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9. Looking for a Handout

If you have a few meager pennies left after tossing money at everything else on this list, won’t you consider dropping a few into the coffers over at my Patreon page? You can get free books and other cool shit, and I promise it’ll be a couple bucks well spent. COUGH IT UP, PEONS. Ahem. I mean, thank you in advance.

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10. Oh Yeah, That Nine to Five Thing

Did I mention I also have a full-time job doing graphic design at a printing company? I’m not gonna tell y’all where it is, though, because you might stalk me. 🙂

And now, back into the fray. Until next time, keep it creepy, my friends. Goddess out.

The Goddess’s Ten Favorite Creepy Books from Childhood

I told you guys I’d be back to this blog shortly, and here I am. Before I get into today’s post, I wanted to acknowledge the horrible news I heard earlier this morning: one of Nick Cave’s 15-year-old twin sons, Arthur, has died in a tragic accident, falling from a cliff in Brighton. As I’ve written before, Nick Cave is a musical and literary hero of mine, and I cannot begin to imagine what he and his family are going through right now. For what it’s worth, I extend my most heartfelt condolences.

And now on to less soul-crushing subjects. It is perhaps fitting that I chose today to focus on childhood books I loved and that helped to shape my writing identity. These ten books, among the hundreds I read growing up, have stuck with me for various reasons over the years, and I would recommend any of them unreservedly to older children and adults alike. To make the experience more authentic, I even tried to find the cover art I remembered for each book, though I failed in a couple of circumstances, because the 60s and 70s were a long time ago, folks. So, without further ado, here they are, in descending order:

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10. The Face of Danger by Willo Davis Roberts (1972)

I have no idea why this little trade paperback made such a lifelong impression on me, but such are the quirks of the writer’s brain, I suppose. It’s not strictly a horror story, being more of a gothic thriller/mystery type of thing, and it’s not really for children either, I guess, but after discovering it in one of the towering piles of books in my grandfather’s old house, I read it over and over again in total and abject fascination. It tells the tale of a homely woman named Sharlee whose face is so drastically disfigured in a car accident that plastic surgeons are basically obliged to give her an entirely new face, one that is strikingly beautiful. I was transfixed by the idea of a lifelong plain Jane suddenly being thrust into the entirely unfamiliar milieu of the beautiful people (and all their fabulous gowns, not gonna lie), and the struggles that ensued. Sharlee is whisked away to a remote mansion by her new, wealthy suitor, where it comes to pass that there’s some pretty shady shit going on with the family she meets there, relating back to the woman whose visage hers was modeled after. I haven’t read this in years, but I remember it being pretty harrowing in a “dark romance novel” sort of way. Fun fact: While I was researching this blog post today, I discovered that Willo Davis Roberts also wrote one of my other beloved childhood books, the profoundly depressing child-abuse saga Don’t Hurt Laurie. I was kind of a morbid kid, you guys.

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9. The Ghost of Opalina, or Nine Lives by Peggy Bacon (1967)

I must have checked this out of my elementary school’s library at least a dozen times. I adore ghost stories, and I adore cats, so a book that combined those things was of course going to be like a magnet to my wee, nugget self. It’s essentially a frame story about three children who move into a rambling old house and find a talking ghost kitty with glowing opal eyes in the attic. Opalina, as she’s called, tells them all about her nine lives and the people who had lived in the house over the decades. Even though I was never a huge fan of “historical” fiction growing up, I was absolutely spellbound with this one, and I remember the illustrations (done by the author) being charming as well.

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8. The Ghost of Windy Hill by Clyde Robert Bulla (1968)

This little blue hardback was a frequent resident of my backpack and bedside table after I bought it from one of those wonderful book fairs Scholastic periodically held at my school. If I remember correctly, there didn’t actually end up being a ghost in the story (and please correct me if I’m remembering it wrong), but there was a fantastic creepiness about it just the same: The old drafty farmhouse, the mysterious woman in white with her rag bag, the tragic Bruno and his horrible father. I have a vivid memory of the mentions of the spring house (which I had never heard of before and found intriguing), and the placing of bells on the doorknobs to try to catch the “ghost.” Good stuff.

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7. The Witches of Worm by Zilpha Keatley Snyder (1972)

More feline frights! Jessica is a cat-hating pre-teen who finds a blind, hairless little kitty she grudgingly adopts and contemptuously names Worm. But apparently there’s more to Worm than meets the eye, because soon afterward, Jessica begins behaving strangely, as if the cat is possessing her and making her do terrible things. Is Worm a witch’s familiar? Is Jessica projecting her own unhappiness and destructiveness onto the defenseless animal? It’s a fascinating psychological study that never clearly states whether there’s anything supernatural going on. As an aside, I believe this was the first audio book I ever listened to (on a series of cassettes, because I am old).

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6. The Mystery of the Fiery Eye (Three Investigators Classics) by Robert Arthur (1967)

I was a big fan of the Alfred Hitchcock-sponsored Three Investigators series. They struck me as much cooler than the Hardy Boys books, which always came across a little too goody-two-shoes for me (I was also way more into Trixie Belden than Nancy Drew, but that’s neither here nor there). I read most of the 43 books in the series at one stage or another; I think I felt an affinity with chubby smarty-pants Jupiter Jones, and I absolutely fucking loved the idea of the investigators’ headquarters being in a trailer that was hidden under a pile of scrap in a junkyard and accessed through a series of tunnels. My favorites in the series included The Secret of Terror Castle, The Mystery of the Screaming Clock, and The Mystery of the Silver Spider, but Fiery Eye was hands-down my jam. I’ve had a long fascination with gemstones anyway, particularly rubies, and I was also enchanted by the busts of historical personages that figured prominently in the mystery.

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5. The Headless Cupid by Zilpha Keatley Snyder (1972)

Snyder’s second appearance on the list. I first heard about this book on that old PBS show with John Robbins. Does anyone else remember it? He had one called “The Book Bird” and one called “Cover to Cover”, and he would feature a book or two on each episode (I distinctly remember White Fang, The Witch of Blackbird Pond, The Sea Egg, The Bridge to Terabithia, Tuck Everlasting, and Misty of Chincoteague being highlighted). Excerpts of the book would be read and he would illustrate them. I loved the crap out of that show, and though I found a few episodes of it on YouTube, the episode lists on the internet don’t mention The Headless Cupid (or Ellen Raskin’s Figgs and Phantoms, for that matter, which I also swear I saw on there), so now I’m thinking my entire childhood was a lie and I don’t know how to behave. At any rate, this book had everything that preteen me loved: weird teenage girls, possible witchcraft, a ghostly mystery in an old house. The main character of Amanda, with her pet crow, crazy braids, and silver forehead triangle, was one of the aspirational figures of my youth. I thought she was the coolest chick ever.

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4. The Ghost Next Door by Wylly Folk St. John (1972)

I loved this book so much as a kid, and for a long time afterward I only remembered the cover and the general story outline, but not the title. But thanks to the miracle of Google-Fu, I was able to track it down and revel in the magic once again. A little drowned girl, a spooky blue rose, a cement owl with marble eyes, and that vague sense of ambiguity about whether the ghost is real all added up to a chilling read. Easily one of my childhood favorites, and one that still holds up when read as an adult.

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3. Alfred Hitchcock’s Supernatural Tales of Terror and Suspense by Various Authors (1973)

I wrote a post about another of these Hitchcock-edited anthologies, Stories That Scared Even Me, right here, but this one got just as many read-throughs, and I still own a worn hardback copy of it. There are only eleven stories, but all of them are great, and I have to give it props for introducing me to what is still one of my favorite short stories of all time, “The Triumph of Death” by H. Russell Wakefield (which I discussed a bit here). Other standouts include a second Wakefield story, “Mr. Ash’s Studio,” a rare Raymond Chandler tale called “The Bronze Door,” a creepy undertaker yarn called “The Pram” by A.W. Bennett, and a horrific model-train story by Alex Hamilton, “The Attic Express.”

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2. The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin (1978)

I liked all of Ellen Raskin’s books, but this one was my favorite by a mile. It’s more mystery than horror, but I was so delighted by it that for years I’ve been contemplating doing a similar puzzle-style story (it’s actually in the planning stages at the moment, though I still have a lot of bugs to work out). The characters are hilarious, the writing sharp, the mystery intriguing. I actually re-read it just a few years back and I enjoyed it just as much. A classic. Why hasn’t there been a big-budget movie of this again?

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1. The House With a Clock in Its Walls by John Bellairs (1973)

If you read this previous post, you shouldn’t be surprised that this came out on top, because it’s easily my favorite young adult book of any era, and I don’t see that changing at any point in the future (sorry, J.K. Rowling and Philip Pullman). Again, it hit all the right notes with me when I first read it: There was a creepy old house with secret passages and randomly changing stained-glass windows, witches and wizards, a hand of glory, necromancy, a scary countdown to doomsday, and those wonderful illustrations by Edward Gorey. Everything about this book was magical, and every time I reread it (which I do, quite often), I am transported back to that time in my childhood when all I ever dreamed about was ghosts and witches and hauntings and delicious creepiness that I wanted to utterly infuse my life forever (which it has, to a large extent, so I’ve got that going for me). I just can’t recommend this one enough; I wanted to live in its terrifying yet whimsical world, and if offered the chance to do so now, I would not hesitate to move right into that wacky mansion in New Zebedee and pile ice cream on my hat. Just talking about the book makes me want to dive back into it and forget about reality for a while, so I’m off to snatch up my purple-globe-topped cane, peer into my history-reenacting egg, and resurrect the corpses of some evil, long-dead wizards. If I don’t bring about the end of the world through these activities, I will return with more of my nostalgic and rambling posts very soon. So until next time, Goddess out.

“The Nightmare Collective” Now Available for Pre-Order

Horror anthology The Nightmare Collective, featuring my short story “The Mother of Foresight,” is now available for pre-order! You may choose to order it now, though if you wait until its official release on April 3rd, you will be able to download it for free for the first week of its release. Also, if you’d be willing to write a review of the book for Amazon, please let me know and I can send you a free .mobi or .epub file for your perusal. Thanks!

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The Nightmare Collective

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As I mentioned in a previous post, my short story “The Mother of Foresight” will be appearing in an ebook anthology called The Nightmare Collective published by Play With Death. The anthology also includes stories by Tom Wortman, M. B. Vujačić, Manen Lyset, Kyle Yadlosky, G. T. Montgomery, Ari Drew, Patrick Winters, Trevor James Zaple, John Teel, Dexter Findley, and Kyle Rader. For the first week after its release, the book will be a FREE DOWNLOAD! Click this link and sign up to get notified when the ebook is released!