Summer is almost upon us. If you live in Florida, then you know summer started weeks ago! At least, it feels like it. It's the time of year to sit out by the water, whether it be ocean, river, lake, or pool, and read a good book. So, I thought I would propose a summertime offer. If you sign up for my quarterly newsletter before June 21st, you will receive a FREE, autographed copy of my horror novella, Getaway. Cool, right? If you want to sign up, just click here. After the newsletter goes out, I will contact you for your shipping address and get the book to you right away! Happy (almost) summer!
If you follow me over on Instagram, you might be aware of the micro stories I share on Wednesdays. But now, I'm trying to expand that endeavor. Basically, I've started a hashtag on Instagram called #WriteDownWednesday. I'm encouraging all authors and writers to use this hashtag every Wednesday. Write a short micro story about 3-6 sentences long. It's a lot of fun and us authors can use it to connect with each other. It's going to be great. Help me get this thing rolling! Head over to Instagram now and start writing!
If you've been keeping up with my blog (first of all thank you so much!) then you know I'm currently reading through The Dark Tower series by Stephen King for the first time. I took a bit of a break between Wizard and Glass and Wolves of the Calla, parts IV and V respectively. Now, I'm back into them.
Currently, I'm a little ways into Wolves of the Calla Part V of the series. And wouldn't you know it? There's a cameo by good old Mr. Stephen King. I've made posts in the past like this before. Back in 2016 I mentioned how the first book The Gunslinger referenced the movie The Shining. I talked about what that meant for the universe. Read it here. In 2017, I talked about how part of Wizard and Glass made mention of The Stand. Check that out here.
Now, in Wolves of the Calla there's mention of a bookstore with an advertisement on a chalk board. Which author is featured on this chalkboard? None of than Stephen King. So, I'm confused. The universe where Jake and Eddie come from is the same universe as Stephen King and his books. Presumably, it's our universe as well. Stephen King exists in the universe where he invented things like The Shining, The Dark Tower, and The Stand. Do those books exists in this universe or is it some sort of weird parallel universe to ours where King is an author but some of his major books were never written, such as The Dark Tower series? Or, perhaps in this universe Stephen King has the ability to shine as well. Ugh!
My mind hurts thinking about this. But I must say, it's fun to think about. What do you think? Have you read The Dark Tower series? What do you think is going on? Let me know in the comments below. Thanks for reading. As always, keep wandering. Just not alone.
Horror is one of those genres which, if done well, can really stick with you for a long time. There's a lot of horror books out there. Some are eerie, some are creepy, some are downright disturbing. But what truly makes a horror book amazing, in my opinion, is one you can remember years later and still get that uneasy feeling. And these four books definitely lingered with me for quiet some time. So, here they are. Four of my favorite horror books, in no particular order.
4. I Am Legend by Richard Matheson
Richard Matheson's book I Am Legend was outstanding. It had everything a horror fan could ask for. Post apocalyptic society, vampires, desperate loneliness, and more. Plus, the vampires were real vampires, unlike the movie of the same name. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying the movie sucked but the book was certainly better. There are still scenes that stick with me to this day. For example, there's a scene with Robert Neville trying to return home before the vampires come out for the night. He's behind the wheel of his manual car and his foot slips off the clutch and it stalls. There was so much tension in that scene. There are plenty more examples but I want to keep this spoiler free. If you haven't read I Am Legend, you need to!
3. Dracula by Bram Stoker
I'm sure you've read Dracula or at least seen one of the many movies inspired by the book. If not, you surely know his name. He's the king of all the undead beasts of our horror fueled nightmares. Dracula is cunning, charming, dangerous, and vile. This book sticks with me for many reasons but mainly because of its style. The book is written as journal entries from our hero Johnathan Harker and others at times. It was such a cool concept and original idea. It seemed to build the suspense over the entire novel. Plus, Dracula was much more than the simple villain movies made have made him out to be. In the book, he's far more dangerous and cunning. He's able to shape-shift into multiple forms, not just a bat. Some of them are utterly terrifying. I really feel for Jonathan and his fiance. There's a particular scene between Dracula and Jonathan's fiance Mina that was particularly unsettling. But I'll let you discover it for yourself.
2. The Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allen Poe
I know what you're thinking. Evan, The Cask of Amontillado is a short story and not a book. To which I say, how are you able to interrupt me while I'm writing this? You must have the shine (from Stephen King's The Shining. Foreshadowing to the number 1?) Seriously, The Cask of Amontillado by Mr. Poe has to be my all time favorite story of his. Of course, there's the classics like A Tell Tale Heart, or The Raven (yes, I know that's a poem. Stop interrupting!), and The Pit and the Pendulum. But I can still remember this story clear as day from when I first read it in middle school. I can't say much about the story, for those who are about a hundred years late in reading it. Let's just say it centers around being buried alive. That is an utterly terrifying notion. In fact, it's been a while since I've read this story. I think I'll go read it now.
1. The Shining by Stephen King
Now that I've reread The Cask of Amontillado, let's talk about The Shining. (Seriously, I did go read it before finishing. Don't believe me? Follow me on Goodreads. You'll see!) Now, I know I said there was no particular order to these but I think I lied about the number one spot. The Shining has to be my all time favorite horror book and might even be my favorite King novel. The book is far more unsettling than the movie and there's plenty of scenes to get your paranoia flowing. One part in particular happens in the bathroom. Let's just say it took me a while to use the bathroom without moving the shower curtain first. Then there's a bit about a firehouse, an elevator, and just everything. Everything in this book is creepy and terrifying. It's amazing!
There you have it. Four of my favorite horror books and my number one favorite of all time. Are any on my list your favorites as well? If not, what are some of yours? Let me know in the comments below. Thanks for reading and remember, keep wandering. Just not alone.
You probably remember my Book of Nature project. I used photos of nature I've taken and wrote short micro stories inspired by the images. I've since moved the project to Patreon only, however, I still do micro stories for all to read over on Instagram. These micro stories are a bit different. The images can be anything. I'm having a lot of fun writing these stories. Hopefully, they are entertaining and it's good practice for me.
That actually brings me to the point of this blog post. If you're a writer, I encourage you to do this too. Even if you don't want to share them with the world, it's still a great exercise. I'm now finding myself viewing nearly everything with the potential to be a story. It really helps keep the creativity flowing all day.
It makes for great practice as well. Think about it, you have to convey a story (or at least part of one) with 6 or less sentences. Not incredibly easy. It forces you to write far more creatively without the risk of getting burned out quickly. Some daily writing challenges have you write pages or paragraphs but it can get overwhelming. Especially, if you're a writer with a day job.
So, I present to you the idea of micro stories. If you're a writer, give it a try. I promise you'll love it. And please, share them with me. Use Canva to make some really cool images. Feel free to share them with me on social media or email them to me. My favorites will be featured on my Instagram page, with credit to the writer, of course. I look forward to seeing your stories and if you want to read some of mine, be sure to give me a follow on Instagram. Thanks for reading and remember, keep wandering. Just not alone.
Hello and happy Friday! Got any cool weekend plans? I'm installing a fence this weekend, should be fun. Speaking of fenced in areas, I have a question for you. When it comes to the books you like to surround yourself with, what is your favorite genre? I'm just curious what everyone out there reads. Let me know if the comments below if you can't get enough fantasy. Maybe Sci-Fi is your thing. Maybe it's horror. Or, perhaps you love a good old school spy thriller. Or, maybe you read a genre that isn't main stream like erotica. Whatever it is, let me know!
Australia. A beautiful country of nature and culture unlike most other places on the planet. There's an endless list of snakes (that can kill you), aquatic life (that can kill you), spiders (that can kill you), and countless other things (that can probably kill you). It's no secret the outback can be a dangerous place. No, I'm not talking about the steakhouse. Although, that can be dangerous too. Don't take your Australian friends there to impress them. They will not be.
With the myriad of animals that can murder a human being which reside in the land down under, it should come as no surprise that a mountain is gunning for the job as well. I'm talking about a place called Black Mountain, a.k.a. Death Mountain, a.k.a. Kalkajaka. No, that last word isn't a planet in Star Wars. It's an aboriginal word which means "place of Spear". See, I told you, the mountain is hungry for violence.
All joking aside, Black Mountain is a fascinating, yet dangerous place. It's part of a protected national park, south west of Cooktown. The mountain is made up of granite boulders. Some of these boulders are the size of houses. If you haven't guessed already, they are black. Hence the name, Black Mountain. There's a lack of soil between the rocks which means there's a labyrinth of gaps and tunnels. I wouldn't recommend venturing into them, however. You probably won't make it out alive.
The rocks get extremely hot in the Australian sun. Over time, the cold rains can make the rocks crack or dissolve. Sometimes, they even explode violently, causing the rocks to shift and slide. If you're inside a chasm when that happens, you probably won't be coming back out.
Many people have gone missing around the mountain, which is why it earned the nickname Mountain of Death. Most likely, people have tried venturing inside some of the gaps and never made it back out. Others claim it's because it's a portal to another dimension, an alien artifact, or government conspiracy. Whatever the case, people have died and some have gone missing.
Something else I learned about Black Mountain, recently, really fascinated me. The volcanic rocks resonate in a particular pitch when struck together. The tone seems to be B flat. There's a cosmic entity that also emits a tone of B flat in our universe. The Black Hole. No, I'm not saying there's a black hole at the center of Black Mountain. But it's interesting to think of the connections of nature.
I'd suggest looking up Black Mountain. It's a very interesting place with a lot of history. I've merely scratched the surface for you today. However, there is one more thing I'd like to share concerning the mountain. It is going to be featured in an upcoming novel of mine. Not just any novel, either but my sci-fi debut novel. There's not a lot of details I can share right now but I think you're going to love this one.
If you like what you learned today, share it with a friend. If you haven't liked me on Facebook, followed me Instagram, or followed on Twitter then check me out there as well. You'll find the link to all my social media accounts at the bottom of the page. Also, I'm slowly uploading interesting videos to Youtube regarding my writing and even personal life, so check me out there. If you've read any of my novels, please consider leaving them a review. It's the best way to show recognition to your favorite authors. As always, thanks for reading. Remember, keep wandering. Just not alone.
For those of you who already support me on Patreon and those considering it, allow me to share with you an update. I have changed the reward tiers and I'm pretty excited about the changes. Book of Nature, my project which consisted of nature photography taken by me and Posted to Tumblr. Then, I would write a micro story of about 4-6 sentences long inspired by the image.
Good news! That project is being moved to Patreon as a special reward for those who become patrons. It will be an exclusive reward, meaning only my patrons will be able to view the images and read the stories. If you want to get involved, please consider supporting me on Patreon. I'm also including the images as a desktop background with a quote from it's respective story. Neat, right? At a higher tier, I will mail out postcards with the image and story included. There's a lot of great stuff on my Patreon page and more to come. Please consider supporting me there and making it possible for me to focus on my writing in full. Thank you for everything you do.
Thanks for reading and remember to keep wandering, just not alone.
This October my latest horror novella will be released. It's about to hit the review process and will be available for pre-order sometime in September. In the meantime, I thought I would share with you the first chapter of the book. Hopefully, I can get some honest feedback about this first chapter. Let me know what you like, what you don't like, etc. Just remember, it's not edited yet so don't be too harsh. There's probably grammatical mistakes and spelling errors. Feel free to point them out, though. It will make editing somewhat easier for me. Below, you will find chapter one of my upcoming horror novella, Echoes of the Past:
She remembered the feeling of cold steel pressed firmly against her throat. She remembered the fear of losing everything she had ever loved or cared about. Her daughter, Tara, had flashed through her mind that night. Will he kill her next? She had thought. When her husband was done with his drunken rage, would he turn his attention to their young child? It had been the scariest thought in her mind, even while faced with certain death.
Of course, she hadn’t really believed he would kill her, not on purpose anyway. The knife to her throat had merely been a tactic of fear. But that did not mean he couldn’t accidentally slit her throat. Sasha had finally had enough that night. It had been the beginning of the end.
“Comfortable, sweetheart?” She called out to the backseat for her daughter, doing her best to ignore the memories that always seemed to invade her happiness. Tara told her she was but complained the trip was taking too long. Sasha laughed and said, “I know, honey, but we should be there very soon.”
“But why are we moving so far away?”
“You know why, sweetheart.”
“But I don’t want to leave my life behind.”
“Sometimes we need to do things we don’t want to do. Sometimes we have to.”
Tara stopped questioning her mother and returned to playing on the tablet in her lap. She couldn’t see the tears Sasha was quickly wiping away. Hearing her daughter express distain for the move made her feel like the world’s worst mother. She was being uprooted from her life, from the only house she had ever known. All of her friends would become distant memories. It was upsetting for a girl of nine. Hell, it was upsetting for a woman of thirty-seven. But it was necessary.
No one knew where they were going, not even Sasha’s own mother. She had been aware of the abuse at the end. In fact, it had been her idea for Sasha to leave. “Don’t tell anyone where you’re going,” her mother had instructed. “It’s best if we not know.”
Sasha had taken her mother’s advice and loaded a small trailer with anything that would fit. Taking Tara, they headed off to a small, New England town that barely showed up on any maps she could get her hands on. It felt as far off the grid as she could possibly be without living off the land like some sort of doomsday prepper.
A brown sign appeared on the side of the road slightly obscured by a long hanging tree, it’s leaves turning the beautiful golden colors of fall. It read, Welcome to Carlisle, Maine. Est. 1692 Our Land Echoes with the Whispers of the Past.
The quote on the sign had been oddly beautiful. It was a poetic notion that only the early settlers of the country could have possibly written. It inspired her to learn the town history. She made a mental note to learn as much as she could after they were safely unpacked and established in the small town.
It had actually been mere coincidence she had found this place. When she had planned to run away with Tara, she had called several real estate agents miles from where they lived. None could fit her hardly existent budget. Many had even laughed at her and hung up. Before she could feel defeated, however, she was given a tip to try a real estate company in Maine. Supposedly, their specialty was finding the right house for anyone on any budget. Sasha had been skeptical, realizing how low her budget really was, but had called all the same.
The overly excited man nearly talked her ear all the way down to the floor. He would not shut up about the beautiful country side and how gorgeous Maine was. Finally, he told her of a small house, more like a cottage really, in a small town in Maine. Without much hesitation, Sasha had said she’d take it.
“Don’t you want to see it first?” The man had asked. But it didn’t much matter what it looked like. Sasha knew a God send when she saw one. This was her opportunity to leave her old life behind.
As the town rose into view, Sasha slipped a Xanax into her mouth and swallowed it dry. The thought of meeting everyone and explaining where she had come from, what little she could really share, did nothing for her stress levels. When she had told her psychiatrist about the move, she had prescribed extra medicine, on top of the two pills she had to take daily for her depression. Psychiatrist sure loved their pills but they worked so Sasha did not complain.
“Mommy, are we here?” Tara asked, placing the tablet in the seat next to her. Sasha nodded at her through the rearview mirror. She could see pure happiness in her daughter’s eyes. Not because she was excited to start her new life, but because being trapped in the back seat of a small car was torture on a child.
Sasha pulled into the driveway and stared at her new home. It was small. Well, small was putting it mildly. The whole building could have fit inside a studio apartment. But what it lacked in indoor space it more than made up for with the yard. The backyard stretched for several yards before disappearing into the surrounding forest. A Thomas Kinkade painting came to mind as she stared at the cottage. Despite it’s size, it felt perfect.
Right on cue, Tara tore off into the house and bolted inside. Clearly, she was excited to see which room would be hers. Sasha smiled and hoped there were other little girls in the town her daughter could get to know. She would desperately need a friend.
She spent the next couple hours unloading the trailer. There wasn’t much to unload and, lucky for her, the cottage had already been furnished. The furniture was old and rickety but it would work. There wasn’t a television anywhere in sight but she felt they could live without one for a while.
As she unpacked a box in the kitchen, a knock came at the door. Sasha knew it must be the inevitable neighbor greeting and put on her best fake smile. She pulled the door open and smiled at the seemingly cheerful woman on her doorstep.
“Hello there, you must be the new lady.” Her New England accent was thick but Sasha didn’t mind.
“That’s me. My name’s Sasha,” she said, proffering her hand. The woman shook her hand and gave her a smile.
“Gwen,” she responded. Spotting Tara on the couch, she said “Well, hello there little one. What’s your name?”
“Tara,” she said with a frown.
“What’s wrong, dear?”
Tara shrugged and motioned to her tablet. “I can’t get the internet to work.”
“We don’t have a very good signal out here. It’s best if you use a landline if you want to make phone calls or get online. It’s tough on the young ones but it’s how it is.”
Sasha smiled. “I’ll be sure to get that set up. Wouldn’t want her getting bored at her. Not that there’s much to be bored with,” she nervously back peddled on her words, afraid she had offended the woman. “It’s such a lovely town and the view is amazing.”
“Yes, it really is. Well, I just wanted to welcome you to the neighborhood. If you ever need anything, I’m the next house down. It’s a bit of hike but a nice one. You two should come to the town center tomorrow evening and introduce yourselves. We’re having a nice little fall festival.”
“That sounds wonderful,” Sasha said, though she wasn’t sure if she meant it. Gwen smiled and said her good-byes. Seconds later, her and Tara were alone in their cozy little cottage once again. Things seemed to be going better than Sasha had expected. Her neighbors seemed friendly enough, at least one did. Not that it mattered to Sasha. She did not plan to become a social member of her newfound society. Her depression made it hard to want to get out and make friends. Considering her situation, she wasn’t overly willing to push through her feelings.
But she wondered if it would be good for Tara to get out and meet the people of the town. Maybe there would be some kids she could befriend. She would need them now more than ever. The decision seemed harder than it needed to be and the right choice should have been obvious to her. As always, she doubted and second guessed her own decisions. If she went, she’d spend the whole time wondering if she had said the wrong thing or made herself look foolish. If she didn’t go, she would become paranoid of what the town thought of her. Either way, she couldn’t win. In the end, she had to think going was the better decision.
“Hey, Tara.” She looked at her beautiful daughter sitting on the couch with a frown on her face. “You want to meet everyone tomorrow at a festival?” Tara shrugged. “It might be fun. You might meet a friend there. Maybe even a boyfriend.”
Tara giggled. “Ew, I don’t want a boyfriend.”
Sasha smiled at her daughter’s innocence, knowing one day it would vanish. She wasn’t looking forward to those days and she prayed like hell she never developed the same disorder as her mother. Tara was too precious to suffer such debilitating thoughts. She deserved everything the world had to offer and should never experience pain like Sasha had endured through her life.
A wave of emotion crashed over her like a rogue wave over the bow of a ship. She could feel herself sinking into the low pit of anguish and despair. It was nearly impossible to fight but she had to for the sake of her daughter. Tara did not need to see her mom in a heap on the floor with endless streams of tears in her eyes. Sasha did her best to fight back the feeling and eventually made her way into the bathroom, an unpacked box in hand, with the excuse she needed to unpack.
Once the door was shut, she collapsed on the floor and everything flooded out of her at once. The situation she now found herself had caught up, the thought of her ex-husband, and uprooting her daughter’s life all flowed through her mind. It was like a projector showing all of her mistakes and she could not power it down.
A memory of her husband breaking a beer bottle on the wall and forcing her to have sex with him sprung up. It made her feel disgusting and pathetic. She remembered being forced face down on the bed as he had his way with her. Sasha watched the foul smelling liquid drip down the wall until it was all over. When he was finished, he told her to clean up the mess. Even now, she was unsure if he had meant the glass bottle and beer stained wall or the disgusting substance his small member had left behind. Either way, she did both.
The memory only made her cry more. Even after everything that had happened between now and then, she still felt as if she had deserved it. After all, he would complain she didn’t give it up enough. She always had some excuse. He was sexually frustrated, which is why he broke the bottle and forced himself upon her. They were married, rape wasn’t possible. At least, it was what he had said when he found her crying about the incident the next morning.
“You know how I can get when I drink. Mix that together with sexual frustration and…” She remembered him trailing off. Or maybe she had stopped listening. All she could remember was it being the beginning of the end. It was the first time she had thought about hurting him, in self-defense of course. He did, on occasion, threaten her with a knife, or hammer, or whatever he had been holding in the moment. She would have been well within her right to protect herself.
Composing herself, Sasha sat up on the bathroom floor. The spiraling, it seemed, had come to an end. But these things always had a way of sneaking back up on her when she least suspected it. A tiny knock came at the door and Sasha jumped to her feet.
"Mommy, I have to pee."
"Alright, honey, just a second."
Making sure nothing was out of place with her hair and make-up, not wanting her daughter to think something was wrong, Sasha pulled open the bathroom door and smiled. "All yours" she said and headed off into the living room to unpack the remainder of the boxes.
No doubt, you have seen the movie Jaws. I mean, who hasn't? It's a classic movie with a concept that scared thousands of people out of the water. But, did you know it was based on a book? You did? Alright, well aren't you just so smart. Peter Benchley wrote the book Jaws and it was published in 1974. Clearly, I don't have to tell you how popular it became. But was the book any good? Well, yes and no. At least, in my opinion.
I read Jaws several years ago and have to say it completely captivated me. I finished it in one day. The characters were amazing and realistic. I actually found myself hating Hooper and Sheriff Brody's wife, Ellen. The thought of them in the book disgusted me. Which is an amazing testament to Mr. Benchley's writing style as he was able to evoke real emotion from me.
*Note, from here on out there will be spoilers for both the book and the movie. Swim at your own risk!*
I would highly recommend this book but suggest you read all the way up to the very end. Right up to when the shark attacks the Orca. Stop right there. Put the book down. And watch the end of the movie. That's where the book, at least for me, falls apart.
In the movie, there's the epic struggle with the shark as it destroys the boat and eats Quint, much like the book. However, Hooper was eaten by the shark the day before in the book. It's for the best. He was a dick. Of course, we all know Brody's famous line as he shoots the oxygen tank stuck in Jaw's jaws. (Was the shark named Jaws? I think someone should have named it Jaws. Makes sense to me) "Smile you son of..." KABOOM! Shark dead. Blood, guts, and blubbery debris rain down from the heavens. Cool, right? Well the book....well....it sucks. I just don't like it.
Quint's dead, Brody is floating on debris from the Orca. He peers into the water and sees the shark swimming towards him, mouth agape. He readies himself for death but suddenly....the shark dies. Yup. It. Just. Dies. You see, they had thrown several harpoons into the creature before hand and it only now succumbs to its wounds, just in time to not eat the main character.
Is it a more realistic ending? Yes. Is it an exciting one? No! To me, it felt like the author originally wrote an ending where Brody was eaten by the shark and continued on its way until it later died in the ocean, like many sharks before it. But then he had a change of heart and let Brody live. Which meant, having the shark die in the most anticlimactic way possible. Of course, the explosion wouldn't have been as impressive in the book but maybe we could have had something in between. You know, Brody jabs it in the eye for a final time with a spear and it dies. Would have been a lot better. For a book with so much built up conflict, it felt like the end puttered out. Ultimately, it was a great book but the ending was better in the movie.
What did you think? Did you read Jaws? Did you like the ending? Did you hate it? Let me know your feelings in the comments below! Thanks for reading and remember, keep wandering. Just not alone.
Evan Bond, author of To the Wolves and Death Can Wait, is a thriller/suspense author. When not writing, he can be found hiking or camping in the beautiful state of Florida.