Everyone has a monster inside




The Official Blog of JG Faherty

Date: 3/28/2017 8:08 AM EDT

Rainy Season is a dark, tense supernatural thriller that succeeds because of the emphasis on the tension rather than on the supernatural.

Based on Stephen King’s short story of the same name, the plot is deceptively simple: a young couple has come to the town of Willow, Maine for some alone time at a cabin. But when they stop to buy supplies in town, they are warned by a pair of elderly locals to get as way as fast as possible. You see, Willow has a secret: every seven years it rains carnivorous toads and some unlucky visitors get eaten as a sacrifice to the evil gods that keep Willow prosperous and happy. Naturally, the young couple laughs it off and goes back to the cabin, only to discover the awful truth that night when the rain starts and the old cabin can’t be sealed tight enough.

This is the type of story that is both familiar and difficult to pull off. King does it well by focusing on the small-town feel, gradually building the tension, and then smacking us with a powerful description of what the young couple must endure.

Translating this to film, however, presents a host of additional problems, the most obvious of which is how to create realistic carnivorous toads on a shoestring budget. Director Vanessa Ionta Wright and her production staff solved this problem neatly by shifting the focus of the story from the toads to the young couple, John and Elise, played convincingly by Brian Ashton Smith and Anne-Marie Kennedy. Rather than turn this 20-minute short into a cheap, shlocky bloodfest, Wright uses a good portion of the film building the relationship between the audience and John and Elise. We get to know them, their quirks, their hints of marital strife, their love for each other. And because of the warning they received, we begin to feel the tension building inside us as night draws closer and the rains begin. And then things go bump in the night. During the final scenes, Wright and the camera crew follow the Hitchcock adage of less is more when it comes to seeing the monster, so there’s never a chance for the suspension of disbelief to be broken by the sight of goofy rubber toads stuck to screaming actors. Instead, the tension continues to rise throughout the attack, with John and Elyse fighting for their lives in a cabin that has been turned into a pitch-black maze where every turn, every doorway or window, leads to more danger.

Rainy Season was made as part of Stephen King’s Dollar Baby program, where King allows budding filmmakers to adapt one of his stories for just a dollar, with the understanding the resulting film can only be shown at festivals, never used for making money. It’s a program designed to help directors and producers hone their craft and show what they can do, and in this case it has been a great success.

Both Wright and Executive Producer Samantha Kolesnik (who also partnered on I Him Baked a Cake, another horror film) work wonders keeping this film grounded and realistic from beginning to end. Brian Ashton Smith and Anne-Marie Kennedy are very believable as John and Elise Graham, and Kermit Rolison and Jan Nelson are great as the two townspeople who try to do the right thing (although not too hard, ha ha!). Smith and Kennedy really do well during the final scenes in the cabin where tone of voice and facial expressions are critical as they react to what’s happening. A real treat is the music, which, under the auspices of Ross Childress (formerly the guitarist and songwriter for Collective Soul), adds to the overall atmosphere of the film without going overboard.

All in all, Wright, Kolesnik, and the rest of the team succeed in doing the near-impossible with this plot: delivering a film that provides some real chills without descending into B-movie territory.

Official Trailer: Rainy Season Trailer

Rainy Season

Director: Vanessa Ionta Wright
Samantha Kolesnik - Executive Producer
Stephanie Wyatt - Producer
Mark Simon - Director of Photography
Kevin Peterson - Producer
Ross Childress - Original Music & Score

Starring: Brian Ashton Smith, Anne-Marie Kennedy, Kermit Rolison, Jan Nelson
John, Elyse, Laura, Henry

Posted by JGFaherty | 1 Comment

Date: 1/26/2017 3:00 PM EST

 Catherine Cavendish is the author of  several novels and novellas, including The Devil's Serenade, Dark Avenging Angel, Saving Grace Devine, and The Pendle Curse. Today she's here to talk about some rather unsettling imaginary friends.

When you were growing up, did you have an imaginary friend? Did they seem real to you? Maybe sort-of-real. You could talk to them, imagine their responses, play with them - but you probably kept the ‘relationship’ within certain boundaries, however young you were. In my case, I invented an entire family of siblings – three sisters (two older, one a few years younger) and an older brother who looked out for us girls. Being an only child, I found them comforting, and fun, but I never imagined them to be real. They, in turn, kept themselves firmly lodged in my own mind and never attempted to cross any boundary into the real world.
In my novel, The Devil’s Serenade, my central character also had an imaginary family when she was a child. Scarily for her, they now start to appear in her real adult world.
Of course, my story is fiction, but there have been a number of accounts of small children making ‘friends’ with most unsuitable imaginary friends – who then cross the line.

One such story concerns a woman called Layla who lived with her four year old son, Ryan and her partner in a suburb of Stoke-on-Trent in England called Trentham. Although an only child, Ryan was a good mixer, socialising well with other children and enjoying a normal childhood. He had no history of talking to himself so his mother was surprised to hear him doing just that – quit loudly - as she passed his room one January evening.
On entering his room, she found her son sitting cross-legged on the floor. She asked him who he was talking to and he replied that he had a new friend, “Fred.” They had been talking. Ryan described his new friend as, “silly.”
Layla decided there was no harm in this new imaginary friend and left him to it. For the next few weeks, Ryan could often be heard chatting and laughing and his parents thought nothing more of it, putting it down to his lively imagination.
Then, one unforgettable night, Layla and her husband were woken by an earsplitting scream. It was Ryan.
They dashed into his room and found him curled up in the corner, white-faced, his hands over his face. Layla tried to comfort him, asking him what was wrong.
Ryan sobbed. He said Fred had got angry with him and shouted at him when Ryan said it was too late to play. Then Fred had screamed at him and scared him.

It took some minutes to calm the terrified little boy down.
The next day, Layla was cleaning out Ryan’s room while he was out with his father. She had a sudden urge to warn the imaginary friend and told him to keep away from her son. “If you ever scare my child again I shall have you removed. I will take Ryan to the doctor’s if I have to.”
She felt rather silly issuing such a warning to nobody, but a strange sense of satisfaction spread over her.
Ryan came home and went immediately to his room. Shortly after, he emerged and asked his mother why he had to go to the doctor’s. “Fred says you are taking me.”
Layla stared at her son, uncomprehendingly. How could Ryan have known about her tirade in his room? She had been alone in the house at the time and told no one else about it.
Ryan continued, each word chilling Layla’s blood. "He says you told him off today when you were alone. He says he's sorry for shouting at me and he won't do it again."
Layla didn’t take Ryan to the doctor and, although Ryan continued to play with ‘Fred’ for some months, nothing further happened to make her concerned. Then, Ryan stopped playing with his imaginary friend altogether.
Forever afterwards, Layla was never able to explain how Ryan could have known about her warning to Fred. Ryan could throw no light on the matter either. It remained an unsolved, intriguing mystery.

Maddie had forgotten that cursed summer. Now she's about to remember
When Maddie Chambers inherits her Aunt Charlotte’s gothic mansion, old memories stir of the long-forgotten summer she turned sixteen. She has barely moved in before a series of bizarre events drives her to question her sanity.
The strains of her aunt’s favorite song echo through the house, the roots of a faraway willow creep through the cellar, a child who cannot exist skips from room to room, and Maddie discovers Charlotte kept many deadly secrets.
Gradually, the barriers in her mind fall away, and Maddie begins to recall that summer when she looked into the face of evil. Now, the long dead builder of the house has unfinished business and an ancient demon is hungry. Soon it is not only Maddie’s life that is in danger, but her soul itself, as the ghosts of her past shed their cover of darkness.
You can find The Devil’s Serenade here:

and other online retailers

Other books by Catherine Cavendish include:

and are currently available from:

About the author:

Catherine Cavendish lives with a long-suffering husband and ‘trainee’ black cat in North Wales. Her home is in a building dating back to the mid-18th century, which is haunted by a friendly ghost, who announces her presence by footsteps, switching lights on and strange phenomena involving the washing machine and the TV. Cat has written a number of published horror novellas, short stories, and novels, frequently reflecting her twin loves of history and horror and often containing more than a dash of the dark and Gothic. When not slaving over a hot computer, she enjoys wandering around Neolithic stone circles and visiting old haunted houses.
You can connect with Cat here:


Posted by JGFaherty | 6 Comments

Date: 12/7/2016 10:27 AM EST

Well, it's the end of the year and for genre writers this means frantic scurrying to read and nominate all those books and stories you never had the chance read all year long. And for someone like myself who writes in multiple genres, and is a member of multiple writer organizations, it means a lot of eye strain!

With that in mind (and because a few people have nudged me to get my ass in gear), I am also posting that I have a couple of works eligible for awards, in the horror and science fiction/fantasy categories. So, if you're reading this, and you're part of the HWA or the SFWA (or even the Thriller Writers!), please feel free to take a gander.

"The Lazarus Effect" is a weird urban fantasy that involves people facing the possible end of the world when zombies and religion collide. It's out now in the latest edition of Cemetery Dance (#74/75, the big double issue). If you're a member of either organization, you read it for free here:

Also eligible, in the long fiction/novella category, is Death Do Us Part, from the now-defunct Samhain Publishing. This is a Tales from the Crypt-type story about revenge from beyond the grave. It's available on Amazon or by emailing me at

So, hopefully I've done my duty for promotion and I can get back to work on those things that are really important for writers: social media, coffee, wine, and sometimes writing.

Posted by JGFaherty | 2 Comments

Date: 9/21/2016 5:10 PM EDT

It's getting close to Halloween (really, only 6 weeks!) so I thought I'd post my all-time Top 15 horror movies, in no particular order:

1. Phantasm. The first time you see the silver balls, or the Tall Man? Has there ever been a person more perfect for a role than Angus Scrimm? I was 17 when this came out and there were scenes in it that actually made me jump.

2. The Shining. A lot of people, including Stephen King himself, don’t like this movie. Personally, I think it’s great, despite some of the over-acting. The outdoor scenes and bar scenes were the best.

3. The Exorcist. This was a movie that stayed with you long after you left the theater. The scenes of the actual exorcism can't be beat.

4. The Omen. I often consider this a cousin of sorts to The Exorcist. Kids, demons...that feeling that it could happen in your neighborhood. And how could you visit a graveyard after that without thinking of Rottweilers?

5. Burnt Offerings. Many a night was haunted by the memory of that hearse driving past the mansion!

6. Alien. Science fiction? Perhaps, but horror through and through. It’s only purpose was to scare you. Plus, Sigourney Weaver in that tank top and undies!

7. The Thing. I’m talk the Kurt Russell version. Not brilliant, but it did a fine job of providing surprises.

8. Night of the Living Dead. Has there ever been a zombie movie as creepy and perfect as this one? No. The first time I saw it was at the drive in as a kid, and my parents drove away when the first person got killed. I had to wait years to finally see the entire movie.

9. Them! One of the many sci-fi/horror films of the fabulous fifties, this one always stuck with me for some reason when my memories of the others faded.

10. Paranormal Activity. One of the few modern horror movies that lived up to the hype. When done right, found footage hits hard.

11. 30 Days of Night. Yes, you can do vampire movies that are downright creepy and nasty, without reverting back to the same old stories.

12. White Noise. A sleeper, this one raised goosebumps on my arms a couple of times.

13. The Haunting. The original. Subtle horror at its finest.

14. Evil Dead. I fell in love with this one the moment I saw it. And each sequel was only better.

15. Dracula/Frankenstein/Creature from the Black Lagoon. A tie. I couldn’t decide between them. I love all the original Universal Monster movies, but some, like The Mummy, don’t hold up as well. These three do.

Posted by JGFaherty | 2 Comments

Date: 6/30/2016 7:09 AM EDT

Most people wouldn't think to discuss writing by comparing it to a Monty Python sketch. But today's guest blogger, Brian W. Matthews, not only does just that, he does it in a way that mirrors what he achieves in his latest book, The Conveyance: by using the idea of taking something ordinary and turning it upside down in order to surprise the reader.

Have you ever seen the Monty Python skit, the Ministry of Silly Walks? It’s one of their most famous, near the top of a long list of hilarious British comedy routines. If you haven’t, take a moment to do the Google and watch it.
Don’t worry, I’ll wait for you.
Done? Great. We can move on.
I learned one thing from this brilliant skit—writing well is much like walking badly.
Sounds confusing, I know, but bear with me.
When you walk, hundreds of muscles and a handful of sensory systems work cooperatively and in perfect harmony to move one foot in front of the other, shift your body weight forward, and take that crucial step. This happens over and over, ten thousand times a day. If one little thing goes wrong, you face plant into the ground.
The process works exactly as intended, time and again.
Now imagine if you wrote like that—the way you were taught in college composition classes? Sentences would be long and complex, the flow of words steady and uninterrupted. Perfect sentences forming completed thoughts, the process repeated the same way, page after page. Structurally sound writing that might earn you an A on a composition paper.
But here’s the problem as I see it—reading that kind of prose is like watching a man in a three-piece suit walking down the street. Tick-tock, tick-tock. The same thing, over and over. It quickly becomes predictable, and boring. When that happens, the reader abandons the story and goes on to something else.
Now imagine John Cleese. He’s wearing his proper British three-piece suit, has his leather satchel in hand, yet he’s doing these crazy gyrations as he walks the streets of London. He’s doing the same thing as our first person; he’s walking. That’s it. But what Cleese does, and what makes you want to watch, is you don’t know to expect next.
He doesn’t stumble. He doesn’t fall. His stride is, yes, silly and unconventional, but it’s also perfectly rehearsed and as choreographed as a figure skating routine. You can’t tear your eyes away from the screen.
You watch a man walking simply because you don’t know what to expect.
If you’re a fiction author, your writing needs to be smooth, choreographed, and unpredictable. Break up the length of your sentences. Throw in a few well-chosen fragments. Understand the proper uses a higher level punctuation—semicolons and colons, ellipses and em-dashes—and use them. Make sure your dialogue isn’t stilted. Vary it up.
Make sure your reader can’t predict what’s coming next.
To achieve this level of writing is difficult. It takes practice, and a lot of it. But if you achieve this level of skill, your writing will seem compelling no matter what your subject matter is.
So go ahead and be silly.
Just make sure, like Mr. Cleese, that it is precise and intentional.

Beneath the calm waters and pastoral fields of Emersville, a deadly secret lurks. But when psychologist Dr. Brad Jordan stumbles upon the odd happenings in the town, he sets off a series of tragedies that threatens to expose a danger long kept hidden from the world. Relentlessly following a trail of madness, suicide, and murder, he soon finds himself confronted with a massive conspiracy, and a sinister device known as the Conveyance.

This is the summary of Brian W. Matthews' latest novel, a deceptively quiet story about an ordinary man who gets caught up in mysteries that threaten the fate of the entire human race. Brian, a former psychologist, draws on his experience as a therapist to weave a tale of abuse, betrayal, hope, and terror. The Conveyance is his third book (the others are Forever Man and Revelation).

By day, Brian W. Matthews works as a financial planner, but after the sun goes down--in the deep dark of night--he scribes stories meant to entertain and, perhaps, terrify. When he isn't developing investment portfolios or crafting tales of monsters and madmen, he tries valiantly to knock a little white ball over the rolling green hills of a golf course without hitting traps or trees. He can also be found lurking in the wilds of Michigan's Upper Peninsula, hunting and fishing and generally causing mayhem.  

Brian lives in southeast Michigan with his wife, daughter, and two step-daughters. You can follow him on Twitter , Facebook, and his website,

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Date: 6/9/2016 7:57 AM EDT

So, a little more than a week ago I decided to take the plunge and enter a book into the Kindle Scout program. For those who don't know, this is part of Amazon's publishing arm, where you submit a completed book, along with a professional cover, synopsis, and some other info, and then Kindle readers get to view an excerpt and vote on whether or not they'd be interested in reading the book.

Each month, a few books are chosen by the Amazon editors and the writer gets a publishing contract for the ebook, plus a $1500 advance. If the book sells well, there are opportunities for extending the initial contract and also negotiating a separate paperback book deal.

I'd been skeptical, but two writers I know and trust (Michael McBride, Norman Prentiss) ran promotions to great success. Michael's led to his getting a book deal with Kensington. Not too shabby!

In my case, I decided to go with a YA science fiction-thriller (The Changeling) I had polished up earlier in the year and was getting ready to begin the submission process with. So, with the help of some friends, I put together a cover and completed Kindle's submission process.

Lo and behold, it gets accepted into the program. Now the hard part begins.


And this is where the struggle begins as well. You see, I thought all you had to do was get the book whoring machine in motion. Get as many people as possible to read the excerpt and hope they all vote for you. But it turns out to be more complicated than that.

You see, you want to get votes, but Amazon also keeps track of things like hot and trending, how many views per day, and where those views come in from. So if all your views come from people who've discovered the book via paid promotional services, that could be a negative, even if they all vote and keep you trending. But if you get no votes, that's also bad. Amazon is nice enough to give you all your daily stats, too, so it's 30 days of nail-biting. Am I getting enough views (you can't see how many votes you actually get)? Is the percentage of organic (Kindle members) to pushed (social media referrals) views in the range Amazon likes to see?  Which of my social media promotions are working, and which aren't?

On top of that, I learned that it's not just reader popularity, it's also how the book resonates with the Amazon editing staff. In a way, the reading public is acting like the traditional slush pile reading team and the senior editors still make the decision. Only now, you're looking over their shoulders and watching them go 'hmmmm' while you wonder if the book will get passed up the ladder.

Not fun.

At the end of 1 week, The Changeling has spent 2 days 'hot and trending.' I'd hoped for more, but people tell me this is normal. It's still getting 25-100 views a day; I have no idea if that's good enough or not to attract the attention of the editors. With 3 weeks to go, it's been a constant struggle to keep the project in front of potential voters while not over-promoting it. Each day, I pick 2-3 different FB book review or reader pages to post on; never the same ones 2x in a given week. And I'll tweet it 1x per day. My own social media pages - FB, Instagram, etc. - get a post 1x per week.

Will this be enough? Stay tuned to find out.

And for those of you interested in reading about the book, here is the site:

How far will a girl go to save the world?
Struck by lightning. Developing weird super powers. On the run from a top-secret military group. This is so not the 18th birthday Chloe Olivetti was hoping for! With her family and her girlfriend being held hostage, and her own body rejecting the crazy changes it’s going through, Chloe only has hours to find a cure for her condition, go back in time, and stop her enemies from creating an army of mutant super-soldiers—before everyone she loves ends up dead a second time.

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Date: 5/31/2016 10:53 AM EDT

Know a Nominee – Thoughts on Writing and The Cure

An Interview with JG Faherty

A few weeks ago, the HWA interviewed all Stoker nominees regarding their works. Here is the one done about me.

HWA - Please describe the genesis for the idea that eventually became the work(s) for which you’ve been nominated. What attracted you most to the project? If nominated in multiple categories, please touch briefly on each.

JGF - The idea for The Cure came to me when my dog got sick and we were at the vet. I thought how terrible it is that animals get ill or injured and then have to go weeks recovering without understanding why they don’t feel well. And then I thought, there have been several books about people who can heal by laying hands, but they only treat other humans. Why not animals? So that gave me the main character for the book, a veterinarian who can heal with a touch.

HWA - What was the most challenging part of bringing the concept(s) to fruition? The most rewarding aspect of the process?

JGF - The most rewarding part of the process was watching all the pieces come together smoothly at the end and creating a build up that, I believe, really resonates with readers. The most challenging aspect was making sure the different criminal elements in the story didn’t come across as 2-dimensional or as carbon copies of each other.

HWA - What do you think good horror/dark literature should achieve? How do you feel the work(s) for which you’ve been nominated work fits into (or help give shape to) that ideal?

JGF - My belief is that horror, like any fiction, should first and foremost entertain. It should also strike hard at emotions—the ones we usually try to avoid in our everyday lives. Fear, disquiet, sorrow; these are the places where horror works best. And in that respect, I think that The Cure will keep people on edge with the action and suspense but also induce a few shivers.

HWA - I’m curious about your writing and/or editing process. Is there a certain setting or set of circumstances that help to move things along? If you find yourself getting stuck, where and why?

JGF - Well, I pretty much always get stuck in the middle. It’s happened with every book I’ve ever written and The Cure is no exception. When it happens, I put the project aside and work on something else. Sometimes that might just be for a couple of weeks; in some cases it’s been for a couple of years. Then I’ll get that ‘aha!’ moment and dig the story out and write feverishly to the end.

HWA - As you probably know, many of our readers are writers and/or editors. What is the most valuable piece of advice you can share?

JGF - Writing is hard, but the secret to becoming a better writer can be distilled down to these basic rules: Practice, study (read!), learn from other writers (workshops), and get yourself good beta readers.

HWA - If you're attending StokerCon this year, what are you most looking forward to at this year’s event? If not attending, what do you think is the significance of recognitions like the Bram Stoker Awards?

JGF - I am definitely attending. It’s a great way to catch up with old friends, make new ones, and build contacts within the industry. As far as recognition, winning (or even being nominated for) a Bram Stoker Award is very rewarding because it lets you know your peers feel your work has merit. And it can catch the eye of an editor, too, and perhaps open a few more doors.

HWA - What scares you most? Why? How (if at all) does that figure into your work or the projects you're attracted to?

JGF - Death scares the hell out of me. I fear getting old, getting sick, getting injured—because all those things lead to death. I really love my live, and learning new things, and doing the things I enjoy. I don’t want it to end. If I could stick my brain in a robot and live forever, I would! I think this plays a key role in all my writing because dark fiction in all its forms ultimately deals with death. How we react, how we fight it, how we hate the idea of that skeletal hand tapping us on the shoulder someday and saying “it’s time.

HWA - What are you reading for pleasure lately? Can you point us to new authors or works we ought to know about?
JGF - My most recent reads were books by Michael McBride (Subterrestreal), John Palisano (Ghost Heart), and Maynard & Sims (Death’s Sweet Echo). Some of my other favorite authors (I won’t mention the ‘big’ names everyone is familiar with) are Rena Mason, Erinn Kemper, Patrick Freivald, Peter Salomon, James Chambers, Chris Marrs, and Chantal Noordeloos.

Check out The Cure and all my other books here: Amazon
And please visit my website,, to keep up with the latest news

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Date: 5/23/2016 10:12 AM EDT

Well, it’s been a week now since the first StokerCon, and I’m finally caught up with work enough to get my own thoughts and reminiscences down for posterity.

I have to begin by saying that this was one of the best—if not THE best—horror conventions I’ve been to. Kudos to the con team—Lisa Morton, John Palisano, Rena Mason, Brad Hodson, Kate Jonez, Erinn Kemper, and all the volunteers—for making it so special.

My adventure in Sin City began when I arrived on Wed. evening and found some good friends (Rena Mason, Erin Kemper, Brian Kirk, Hal Bodner) gathered by the firepit at the Garden Bar, which became the unofficial gathering place throughout the con. After a full day of work and a long flight, I retired early (midnight, which is early at a con!).

Thursday found me, in the words of Billy Martin, tanned and rested and ready to go as I started my first stint at the registration desk. Working with James Chambers, Patrick Freivald. Kate Jonez, Brian Matthews, Erin Kemper, and several other volunteers, we assembled the signage that would be used throughout the weekend, set up the registration desk, and prepped the swag counter. Under the alert eye of Brad Hodson, we resolved some critical issues. Jimmy Z. Johnston showed off his table of HWA-logo shirts (I grabbed a nice hoodie!), and the dealers room took shape.

Thursday was also our annual Beta Readers Group lunch, so Rena Mason, Patrick Freivald, Erin Kemper, James Chambers, Chris Marrs, and I—along with Craig DiLouie filling in for the sadly absent Peter Salomon—headed to the Yardhouse for beer and burgers, both of which were excellent. I love our beta reading group, we are friends as well as readers, and we could have probably talked and drank all day except duty called and we all had to get back to take care of our official commitments. For me, that meant some more time at the registration desk and then heading off to get ready for opening ceremonies. Rousing speeches by our president, Lisa Morton, and our Master of Ceremonies, the always entertaining Stephen Jones. After that, I attended the annual HWA board meeting, where besides discussing the state of the organization, we put forth some really great ideas for the coming year.

With official business out of the way, I headed back to the Garden Bar, where I met up with my good friends Beth Murphy, John Palisano, Trevor Firetog, James Chambers, and several others. These are some of the best times at cons, where you can just sit or stand around and catch up. It’s like a family reunion. But no matter how much fun you’re having, you do have to get up in the morning, so I sadly called it a night at around 3am.

Friday found me bleary-eyed but excited, because after some time at the registration desk, I got to do a book signing with the ever-wonderful Nancy Holder, and then moderate the Beta Readers panel with my entire beta reader group. It was a hit last year, and just as well-received this year, with a great crowd. After that, I enjoyed lunch with Daniel Knauf and Beth Murphy, and then Beth and I spent some hilarious time in the Flamingo Garden with Lisa Mannetti, taking selfies and people watching.

Friday was also the Lucky13 film festival/contest, so Beth, John Palisano, and I arrived early to get good seats for the 13 short films, which ranged from comical to emotionally powerful. I was happy that my favorite piece, a darkly comic look at the tooth fairy legends, won first place. After the contest was a cocktail party, and it ended up being another late night, crawling into bed around 3:30.

Saturday was the big day, of course. Not just for the convention, with tons of panels and readings and signings, but for me, personally. Because my plans went awry in the best of ways. Due to a sudden emergency, a spot opened up to moderate the Q&A session with world-famous author RL Stine of Goosebumps fame. Even with only 30 minutes to prepare, I accepted—who wouldn’t?—and scrambled to put some questions together (thanks to Lisa Lane and her husband Thomas for help with that!). Not only did the Q&A go off superbly, but Bob Stine congratulated me on coming up with questions he hadn’t heard before and provided me with a motivational quote for me to use at a library teen writing talk the following week. And then later that day, I participated on the YA Horror panel with Bob Stine, my good friends Jon Maberry, Tonya Hurley, and Lynne Hanson, and my new friend Megan Hart.

In between all this, I managed to squeeze in pitch sessions with Rob Cohen and Christine Roth of RothCo Press/Co-Conspiracy Entertainment and Tony Eldridge of Lonetree Entertainment, my first movie/TV pitches ever. I was nervous, but they went well (meaning I didn’t make a fool of myself!).

Saturday Night was the Big Event – the annual Bram Stoker Awards Ceremony and Banquet. My fantastic luck for the weekend continued, as I ended up sitting with my friends Nancy Holder, David Morrell, and Daniel Knauf. It was great catching up with Nancy and David, who I never get to spend enough time with since they’re on the West Coast, and we were highly entertained by the antics of MC Jeff Strand, who outdid himself. Stephen Jones opened the night with a stirring speech about how the horror community needs to stick together and be a positive force, rather than dwelling on the negativity abounding in social media, and Jeff ran with that, riffing on everything from recent industry kerfluffles to dog-eaten award certificates.

Following the awards (you can see all the winners and nominees here:, I drowned my momentary sorrows at not winning in the Novel category with beer and my new favorite drink (Bacardi Limon and water, thanks Beth!) at the post-awards cocktail party, where I had the honor of meeting Steve Rasnic Tem and saying hi to Robert McCammon, a surprise guest at the event.

Sunday morning came too early, with sad goodbyes said just before the sun rose. I grabbed an hour of sleep and then headed to the airport, wishing, as always, that so many of my friends lived closer.

There are so many people I didn’t get to spend more time with, friends old and new: Mercedes Yardley, Brian Matthews and his wife Sue, Kya Shore, Denali Jones, Angela Yuriko Smith, Jason and Sunni Brock, Weston Ochs, Yvonne Navarro, Marge Simon, Jon Maberry, oh, I could go on and on but I have a better list on my post-con Facebook post (

But now, it’s back to writing and daydreaming about next year – The Queen Mary in LA!!

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Date: 4/22/2016 7:00 AM EDT

Haunted houses are a dime a dozen, but Catherine Cavendish is here today to tell us about one that doesn't just hold ghosts, but perhaps traces of the Devil himself! The story of Loftus Hall also forms the basis for her latest book, THE DEVIL'S SERENADE.

Bloody and Violent Loftus Hall
by Catherine Cavendish

Can pure evil be absorbed by bricks and mortar? Did the devil play cards with the owner of Loftus Hall, back in the late 1700s?

Whatever the truth of it, the claims made for Loftus Hall in Ireland, are certainly many, varied and well documented. Originally built during the Black Death, in 1350, its 666 years of history – much of it troubled, violent and bloody- certainly seem to have left an indelible and Yeti-sized footprint on this substantial and once grand mansion situated on the Hook Peninsula in County Wexford.
The house is open to the public who, it is claimed, can expect to experience some scary and unpredictable phenomena during regular themed ghostly events.

Its reputation has attracted the attention of many paranormal investigation crews and it has featured in a number of TV programmes. The current owner of the house – Aidan Quigley – affirms that Loftus Hall is a strange place at the best of times but during special occasions – such as Samhain – it surpasses itself. “We observe strange phenomena in the house throughout the year,” he said, “but at Halloween, the house often surprises us.”

Among many other phenomena, ghost hunting groups have reported dramatic temperature drops in certain rooms – especially the Chapel and the Tapestry Room – and unseen electro-magnetic fields have caused instruments to register dramatic spikes. In addition, visitors have reported photographing and seeing figures that couldn’t be there. Tourist Thomas Beavis took a photograph of what seems to be a ghostly figure of a woman standing in the porch of the Hall and another visitor, Tara McMeel took a selfie which revealed some strange, ghostly apparitions.

One famous incident which serves to underline the sinister and devilish reputation of the house took place in the 18th century when the then owner – Charles Tottenham Loftus – invited a stranger to play cards. Loftus’ daughter, Anne, became captivated by the stranger and stayed to watch the game. A card fell to the floor and she bent to retrieve it. She had the shock of her life as she saw the stranger had cloven hooves. On being ‘unmasked’, the guest flew into a rage and crashed through the roof, leaving behind him a stench of brimstone and sulfur. Since then, it is claimed that no one has been able to successfully repair that roof.

Poor Anne never recovered from the shock of her devilish discovery and became mentally ill. Her family were so ashamed of her condition that they locked her in her favourite room where she could be happy, but out of sight. This is the infamous Tapestry Room. It appears her infatuation with the mysterious cloven-hooved stranger never waned and she sat, looking out of the window across the sea, waiting for him to return. Needless to say, he never did, and she died there in 1775. Legend has it that when she died, they could not straighten her body as her muscles had seized in a sitting position. So she was buried sitting up.

Her ghost – along with that of the devil she so admired – are reputed to haunt the Hall to this day. Much poltergeist activity over the years has been attributed to this mysterious stranger and Anne has regularly been seen. She seems unconfined to the Tapestry Room though, as reports have her descending the main staircase.

The house was extensively demolished, rebuilt and renovated in 1870, yet the imprints of the ghosts of the earlier building appear to have carried forward into the new. To find out more about this fascinating house, a good place to start would be with its own website
Certainly well worth a visit whether you believe, or remain skeptical!

Now, to give you a taste of THE DEVIL'S SERENADE, here’s the blurb:

Maddie had forgotten that cursed summer. Now she’s about to remember…
“Madeleine Chambers of Hargest House” has a certain grandeur to it. But as Maddie enters the Gothic mansion she inherited from her aunt, she wonders if its walls remember what she’s blocked out of the summer she turned sixteen.

She’s barely settled in before a series of bizarre events drive her to question her sanity. Aunt Charlotte’s favorite song shouldn’t echo down the halls. The roots of a faraway willow shouldn’t reach into the cellar. And there definitely shouldn’t be a child skipping from room to room.  

As the barriers in her mind begin to crumble, Maddie recalls the long-ago summer she looked into the face of evil. Now, she faces something worse. The mansion’s long-dead builder, who has unfinished business—and a demon that hungers for her very soul.

Here’s an extract:
A large flashlight rested on the bottom stair and I switched it on, shining it into the dark corners. There wasn’t a lot to see. A few broken bits of furniture, old fashioned kitchen chairs, some of which looked vaguely familiar, jam jars, crates that may once have held bottles of beer. 

The beam caught the clump of gnarled and twisted roots that intertwined with each other, like Medusa’s snakes. I edged closer to it, my heart thumping more than it should. It was only a tree, for heaven’s sake! The nearest one was probably the willow. Surely, that was too far away? I knew little about trees, but I was pretty certain their roots couldn’t extend that far.

I examined the growth from every angle in that silent cellar. The roots were definitely spreading along the floor and, judging by the thickness and appearance of them, had been there for many years. Gray, like thick woody tendrils, they reached around six feet along and possibly four feet across at their widest point. I bent down. Close up, the smell that arose from them was cloyingly sweet. Sickeningly so. I put one hand over my nose, rested the flashlight on the steps and reached out with the fingers of my free hand to touch the nearest root. It wriggled against my palm.

I cried out, staggered backward and fell against the stairs. The flashlight clattered to the floor and went out. Only the overhead bulb provided any light, and it didn’t reach this darkest corner. Something rustled. I struggled to my feet, grabbed the torch and ran up the stairs. I slammed the door shut and locked it, leaned against it and tried to slow down my breathing. A marathon runner couldn’t have panted more.

I tapped the flashlight and it flickered into life, seemingly none the worse for its accident. I switched it off and set it on the floor by the cellar door. Whoever came to fix those roots was going to need it.

You can find THE DEVIL'S SERENADE here:

And other online retailers

About the author:

Following a varied career in sales, advertising and career guidance, Cat is now the full-time author of a number of paranormal, ghostly and Gothic horror novels, novellas and short stories. She was the 2013 joint winner of the Samhain Gothic Horror Anthology Competition, with Linden Manor, which features in the anthology What Waits in the Shadows.  Other titles include: The Pendle Curse, Saving Grace Devine, Dark Avenging Angel, The Second Wife, Miss Abigail’s Room, The Demons of Cambian Street, The Devil Inside Her, Cold Revenge and In My Lady’s Chamber.
You can connect with Cat here:

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Date: 3/16/2016 7:00 AM EDT

 Stuart R. West hails from Kansas, which he says is home to lots of cool and creepy things. You have to believe him, if his stories are indicative of his environment! But he doesn't just write horror - he does mysteries, thrillers, YA... you name it. His latest is a foray into comic horror, and today he's here to tell you all about the story behind his new novel, Demon with a Comb Over.

Demon with a Comb-Over: My Comedy of Terrors by Stuart R. West

Sometimes I think there’s a thin line between comedy and horror. For me they can both induce dread, queasiness, even chills. 

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Years ago, when I had lots more hair and lots more (unfounded) confidence, I thought I’d give stand-up comedy a shot. I figured, how hard could it be? Right? Yeah, right.

Famous last words. At an open mike night at a local comedy club, I had my booster club with me. My friends surrounded me, buying me liquid encouragement and giving me a lotta “atta boy’s.” 

Completely behind me, supporting me. Yet the closer it came time for me to take the stage, the faster my confidence dissipated. Funny how that works. About the only funny thing of the night.

As soon as I hit the stage, the spotlight hit me. Increased my sweating ten-fold. A few nervous chuckles (not the good expected ones, either) spread through-out the room. And I froze. Couldn’t remember my routine. Someone booed. I waved, looking like an idiot. Soon enough, the crowd felt entitled to heckle me. Tough crowd, tough crowd. Finally, I remembered one of my jokes, not even my opening one. But by then? Too late.

I went out in a fizzle, the crowd laughing at me, not with me. Even my usually boisterous knucklehead friends fell silent, staring into their beers. Still behind me. Just way behind.

Ladies and gentlemen, my one time dalliance with stand-up comedy. Never again, I told myself. For it was truly terrifying and clearly, I had no business being up there. Sometimes, I still have nightmares about that disaster.

So I thought (which is kinda what got me into trouble in the first place), why not turn it into a horror novel?

Hence, the birth of Demon with a Comb-Over. It’s the tale of Charlie Broadmoor, a recently divorced, struggling and not very good Kansas City stand-up comedian. Things get worse. Charlie heckles a demon. One with a comb-over. Bad move. This demon doesn’t think Charlie’s funny and vows to kill him, but not before destroying everyone he loves first. 

Now, mind you, the book’s a horror tale first and foremost. There’re several gruesome trips to hell, bloody murders, hallucinatory events. But, as I said earlier, I truly believe horror and comedy sometimes stroll (no, not stroll; more like hurtle) hand-in-hand. I hope this time, I get it right.
If you enjoy your humor with a chuckle, as I sometimes do, pick up Demon with a Comb Over (links below). While you're at it, get Neighborhood Watch, too, one of his earlier books, which is chock full of demony-goodness and creepy neighbors that will make you think twice about what goes on behind closed doors on your own street.

Demon with a Comb-Over available at Amazon.
Twitter: @StuartRWest

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