Mark MacNicol and the Dreaded Light Project

Mark MacNicol
Courtesy of The Fountain

I hope it will be different from anything you have seen. In particular the use of light.

I ran across an interesting film project and wanted to share it with you. Mark MacNicol is a novelist and playwright. Currently, he is raising money for a film with paranormal themes called Dreaded Light. Take a look at this interview excerpt, and be sure to watch the video. Good luck, Mark!

With two novels under his belt and several stage plays, Mark MacNicol is lending his talents to film, producing, writing and directing avant-garde feature, Dreaded Light, which he is funding through ‘crowdinvestment.’

Mark spoke with The Fountain about the project, extending this experience to young offenders and how crowdinvesting is different to crowdfunding.

TF: A new film project, Dreaded Light, how exciting, what can we expect?

I hope it will be different from anything you have seen. In particular the use of light (one of the characters has a phobia of daylight). I also hope you will struggle to put it in a particular box/genre.
As the Producer Writer and Director it means I can take chances that I wouldn’t be able to or allowed to under normal circumstances. Also authenticity of subject matter (we’ve done a massive amount of research into Spiritualism).

TF: And you are providing young people with social exclusions an opportunity to work on this feature, how noble?

One of my stage plays, Kamikaze, toured high schools and young offenders units. That was a humbling experience and I got to meet a lot of very special staff and young people. While that play was touring I knew at some point in the future (if I was able to) I would reach out to them and get them involved somehow.

To see the rest of this interview, please visit The Fountain.

Three Things I Learned from Ghost Story

Ghost Story Cover

I first read Peter Straub’s terrifying Ghost Story decades ago, and I recently decided to pick it up again to see if my impressions had changed. They hadn’t. The work is mesmerizing. The author has created in the fictional town of Millburn a waystation steeped in snow where people live their separate lives, oblivious to the horrid things lurking in the forest waiting to strike. Eventually, these corrupt creatures come for the hapless residents, and they are caught unawares.

In many ways, this tale of ghostly revenge is instructive in how it shows us the consequences of mistreatment people visit on one another. The town itself is filled with characters surviving in escalating degrees of guilt, and it is precisely these stains on their souls that mark the victims for the marauders intent on feeding on them.

I admire this book so much, and I wanted to share three things I learned.

Turn It Up to Eleven
If you’re going to get revenge, it’s better if, instead of concentrating on a few elderly townsfolk, you turn it up to eleven and destroy the whole town. The chief villain who is known by many names—all of them with the initials AM—is going to do just that. And, like the author, she proceeds to instruct her victims in the ways of the occult and the reasons why they must die. Fortunately, because of the combined bravery of Ricky Hawthorne, Peter Barnes, and Don Wanderly, the monster’s coup de grâce cannot be delivered. Good effort, though.

Make Sure There’s Plenty of Guilt to Go Around
Stories in which the innocent are slaughtered like sheep are not fun, in my view. But take a town full of characters who have done everything from the despicable to the merely annoying and go after them—now you’ve got something. Of course, the Chowder Society members are the worst, because they caused a young woman’s death (well, she looked like a young woman, Officer) and literally buried the evidence. Then add a crazed farmer who is forever suing people and seeing Martians, a drunken shell of a sheriff, and a wife who would rather have sex with just about every other man in town than stay home. Plenty of ammunition for a vengeful, murderous, supernatural being, wouldn’t you agree?

Make the Ghost Something Else
This last point speaks to Straub’s brilliance. He could’ve done as Henry James did in The Turn of the Screw and delivered a good old-fashioned vengeful spirit. But he went one better—he created a being—or, God help us, a race of beings—that have occupied the planet for thousands of years, and enjoy feeding not only on people’s flesh but on their fears. For me, that’s what sends this novel over the top. Because you can’t just cower inside a circle of salt, holding up a crucifix. These things are real, my friend.

If you haven’t had a chance to read Ghost Story, I suggest you grab a copy and prepare not to sleep. And while you’re at it, check out the movie, which was released in 1981 and features the esteemed Fred Astaire, Melvyn Douglas, and John Houseman.

You can find this review at Goodreads.

Book Description
#1 New York Times bestselling author Peter Straub’s classic tale of horror, secrets, and the dangerous ghosts of the past…

What was the worst thing you’ve ever done?

In the sleepy town of Milburn, New York, four old men gather to tell each other stories—some true, some made-up, all of them frightening. A simple pastime to divert themselves from their quiet lives.

But one story is coming back to haunt them and their small town. A tale of something they did long ago. A wicked mistake. A horrifying accident. And they are about to learn that no one can bury the past forever…

Where to Buy
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon CA
Amazon AU
Amazon IN

More Reviews
Did you enjoy this review? Check out my other reviews here.

Goodreads Giveaway—The Girl in the Mirror

Announcing a Goodreads Giveaway

The Girl In The Mirror Cover

Very exciting news. The Girl in the Mirror is published, and to celebrate, I am giving away copies of the Kindle version to 100 lucky winners. So, if you love supernatural suspense and want to get your hands on the first novel in the new Sarah Greene Mysteries series, then be sure to enter for a chance to win.

Sign Me Up!

Book Synopsis
While renovating an old house with her ex-husband, Sarah Greene finds a mirror that holds the spirit of a dead girl. As she learns more about the people who built Casa Abrigo—and about their demon-worshiping son—Sarah comes to believe the girl did not die a natural death, and she sets out to discover the truth. But prying into someone’s sketchy past can be risky, especially when it awakens dangerous dark forces.

Book Review—Ellie & The War On Powder Creek

Ellie & The War On Powder Creek Cover

It’s been a while since I read The Dolan Girls, the first book in this entertaining series by the talented S. R. Mallery. And I was excited to see that she had recently released a sequel. Like the first book, Ellie & The War On Powder Creek is filled with memorable characters, some who make you angry—even shock you—and others who demonstrate the power of women holding together against all odds in a violent old west.

One thing I’ve always appreciated about this author is her devotion to history. She always surprises me, portraying things—incredible things—that I cannot at first fathom, yet know somewhere in me that they actually happened. And don’t get me wrong, there’s also humor in the way these earthy people make it through another day. And there’s also love, which makes the trials Ellie, her family, and friends go through worth it all.

If you love colorful stories about the old west that come to life like a movie in your head, then pick up a copy of Ellie & The War On Powder Creek.

You can find this review at Goodreads.

Book Description
Another Rip Roaring, Heart Warming Story of Love, Fear, and Redemption in the Wild West

It’s 1891 and The DOLAN GIRLS western romance saga continues. This time it stars the feisty Ellie Dolan Parker, who finds herself caught up in the middle of the Wyoming Cattle Wars. Filled with rich, greedy cattle barons thirsty for prime land, crooked politicians, a major kidnapping, local ranchers in life-threatening danger, Butch Cassidy’s Hole In The Wall hideout, hired ‘guns’ from Texas, a troubled marriage, and a blossoming romance, this story is a colorful portrayal of a forgotten time. A time when these well-known events and their players filled the newspapers.

Will Ellie make her mark? Or will she simply become one of the victims?

Where to Buy
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon CA
Amazon AU
Amazon IN

More Reviews
Did you enjoy this review? Check out my other reviews here.

Book Review—We Have Always Lived in the Castle

We Have Always Lived in the Castle Cover

Like many school children, I read Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” when I was too young to understand it. Later in my twenties, I read The Haunting of Hill House, a mesmerizing experience. Of course, I was well acquainted with the outstanding Robert Wise film adaptation starring Julie Harris as the pitch-perfect Eleanor Vance. What I learned best from that story is that hauntings are best when the victim cooperates.

We Have Always Lived in the Castle is Jackson’s last novel, and it is a masterwork of madness, deception, and envy. In words that are simple and well chosen, the author allows us to follow Mary Katherine Blackwood—also known as Merricat as she goes about her day in the house, the woods, and sometimes, the village. We come to learn early on that the other family members are long dead—poisoned. And we also discover the village’s hatred of the Blackwood family which, towards the end of the book, comes to a head in a way reminiscent of “The Lottery.”

Things are orderly and cloistered in the Blackwood house until Cousin Charles appears. It’s immediately apparent that he is hoping to cash in on the supposed hidden wealth of the sisters. And, being the imperious lout that he is, he underestimates the strength and protectiveness of Merricat as he bumbles his way through vague overtures toward Constance and threatening promises of things changing for the better.

We Have Always Lived in the Castle is a story that will chill you with characters who are sympathetic in their trapped existence. It is a brilliant novel that makes me wish Jackson were still alive to write more. After all, there are so many other castles yet to explore.

You can find this review at Goodreads.

Book Description
Merricat Blackwood lives on the family estate with her sister Constance and her uncle Julian. Not long ago there were seven Blackwoods—until a fatal dose of arsenic found its way into the sugar bowl one terrible night. Acquitted of the murders, Constance has returned home, where Merricat protects her from the curiousity and hostility of the villagers. Their days pass in happy isolation until cousin Charles appears. Only Merricat can see the danger, and she must act swiftly to keep Constance from his grasp.

Where to Buy
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon CA

More Reviews
Did you enjoy this review? Check out my other reviews here.

Avoiding Strangers on a Train to Write

Strangers on a Train
Photo Courtesy of IMDb

Like many indie authors, I work for a living. There are worse things, like plantar warts. Never mind. Because I live in LA, having a day job requires me to endure a long, daily commute. Several years ago, I decided to abandon my car and use public transportation. Though the combination of trains and ride services such as Uber and Lyft, my commute isn’t any shorter, it does free me up to do other things. For instance, I can read. And more importantly, I can write.

Stalling Our Way to Happiness
Most writers I know are born procrastinators. Netflix and Amazon Prime were made for us—not to mention mobile phones bursting with games and social media apps. And if like me, you are stuck on a train with a bunch of strangers, it’s easy to tell yourself there’s no way you can get any real writing done. For one thing, it’s too noisy, what with all the announcements and people watching funny cat videos without earbuds.

And then, there’s the problem of where to put the device. The light rail trains don’t have flat surfaces, other than the floor. And the seats are narrow, so other passengers are usually sitting very close. In short, there are plenty of reasons not to write on the train.

When You Wish Upon a Star
A few months ago, I decided I’d had enough. I was going to write every morning on the train, no matter what. So, I took myself on a journey of discovery. I already owned a MacBook Air, which is what I use to do most of my writing. Unfortunately, because of the problems mentioned above, I found that it was too large for me to work comfortably. I needed something I could balance on my lap—a device that runs Microsoft Word.

Surface Go

After spending time researching laptops, I decided on a Microsoft Surface Go. Though small, the device is responsive, and the screen is bright. And battery life is outstanding. As a rule, I don’t like touch screens, so I decided to purchase the optional keyboard, which I find to be comfortable, though compact.

My only complaint is the touchpad. It’s overly sensitive and often sends my cursor flying to unknown parts of the page, which I didn’t intend. But, trust me, that’s a small price to pay to avoid writing with paper and pen. Even on a full train, I can bang out anywhere from 750 to 1,000 words, which is plenty for a morning’s work.

Go Forth and Write
Now, I’m not trying to sell you on Microsoft products. I’m sure there are plenty of other choices out there. All I’m saying is, writing on a train—or a bus—is possible with the right device. If you’re the kind of person who can get work done on an iPad, then go for it. I’m just happy I found a solution that works for me.

Happy writing.

Book Review—From Away

From Away Cover

Those who experience the paranormal regularly aren’t like most people. Especially if they are, as the taciturn locals on Fox Island like to say, from away. This is the situation Sammy Kehoe faces when he convinces his sister Charlotte to flee to the scene of their many childhood family vacations rather than face the prospect of continuing as they have been, sad and numb from the long-ago death of their parents and brother. Not to mention suffering the slings and arrows of outrageous languor.

Others might have used the opportunity to refuel so they could return to “real life,” rested and ready to be productive. But Sammy has problems. For starters, he can’t stop seeing the dead and desperately wishes they would leave him the hell alone. Can that explain why at way past college age, he still works in a video rental store?

In lesser hands, the premise of this novel would have played out as maudlin and uninteresting. But the way this author describes Sammy’s state of mind as he tells the story—accompanied often by wry, even side-splitting observations—drew me into this strange family, wanting more than anything to learn how they would extricate themselves from their collective morass which, if left unchecked, could have a lasting adverse effect on Charlotte’s daughter, Maggie.

If you like ghost stories that are fresh and modern and feature plenty of humor, then I highly recommend From Away. You won’t be disappointed.

You can find this review at Goodreads.

Book Description
Sammy Kehoe, his sister, Charlotte, and her four-year-old daughter, Maggie, are all each other have left since the car accident that killed the rest of their family. When they visit their beloved old family home on remote Fox Island, Maine, Sammy and Charlotte each have relationship sparks with island locals. But the budding idyll is shattered when Sammy and Maggie’s unexplained abilities to “see things” are put to the test when dangerous ghosts from the past resurface. At first, this novel about an unusual and loving family draws readers in with warmth and intrigue—and then it builds with suspense that makes it impossible to put down.

Where to Buy
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon CA
Amazon AU
Amazon IN

More Reviews
Did you enjoy this review? Check out my other reviews here.

The Girl in the Mirror—Cover Reveal and Preorder

The Girl In The Mirror Cover

Click here to preorder now!

It’s finally here—the cover of my new supernatural suspense novel, The Girl in the Mirror. And that’s not all. This books kicks off a new series, Sarah Greene Mysteries. Okay, so this whole thing is a bit of a departure for me. As many of you know, I’ve written an entertaining horror trilogy featuring lots of zombies and a flawed—such a flawed—male hero. But now, I have created a new world in which a contemporary woman in her mid-thirties, who is by no means a professional ghost hunter, decides she must confront the evil in the town where she lives.

Preorder Information
And now for the best news. You can preorder the Kindle version of The Girl in the Mirror at Amazon for 99 cents. At publication, the price goes up to $5.99. So, make sure to reserve your copy now.

Book Giveaway
I plan to give away copies of the paperback when it becomes available. If you would like to be notified, sign up for my newsletter here and choose “Supernatural Suspense” as your interest.

Book Description
When you look in the mirror and see a ghost, that’s a bad day.

While renovating an old house with her ex-husband, Sarah Greene finds a mirror that holds the spirit of a dead girl. As she learns more about the people who built Casa Abrigo—and about their demon-worshiping son—Sarah comes to believe the girl did not die a natural death, and she sets out to discover the truth. But prying into someone’s sketchy past can be risky, especially when it awakens dangerous dark forces.

Sarah Greene has been communicating with ghosts since her best friend died when they were both fifteen. At thirty-three, she still doesn’t know why God gave her this “gift,” but with each new paranormal mystery, she feels she has no choice but to investigate, even when the underlying supernatural forces threaten to harm her.

Teaser Trailer

Click here to preorder now!

And just for fun, here is the teaser trailer I created.

What I Learned from Creating My First Audiobook

Chainsaw Honeymoon Audiobook Cover
Here is an article I wrote for BookWorks about creating my first audiobook. I hope you enjoy it. And don’t forget to look for a special offer.

Last year, I decided to take the plunge and create an audiobook of my romantic comedy, Chainsaw Honeymoon. Like many of you reading this article, I was new to this market and quickly realized I had a lot to learn. In thinking about the novel, I felt there were two main challenges. First, the story is told mostly by a precocious thirteen-year-old named Ruby. From a narration perspective, this creates a problem because, as far as I know, there are not a lot of teenage narrators out there. Secondly, the tone of the book is satirical. That meant the narrator had to be very good at smart comedy. Fortunately, I found someone who fit the bill nicely—Valerie Mirarchi (www.valerievoiceover.com).

You’re probably wondering why I chose a romantic comedy, considering I’ve published a horror trilogy. Simple. It was because the idea of jumping into the production of a trilogy seemed daunting for two reasons. First, I had never done this before. Second, if I were to do it, I would have to ensure the same narrator was available for all three books since I wrote them in the first person. What I needed was a one-off novel, and Chainsaw Honeymoon seemed like a good choice.

Here are some things I learned along the way. If you’ve decided you want to create an audiobook, feel free to use these notes as research. There are many ways to get the job done, and you might very well discover a better way. Also, keep in mind that I chose to go with ACX and cannot speak to other audiobook marketplaces.

To read the rest of this article, please visit BookWorks.

Book Review—Tender Enemies

Tender Enemies Cover

One of the things I love about an S.R. Mallery novel is how well researched it is. Years ago, I became interested in Germany during WWII and read extensively about the rise of the Nazi party. I also learned about the German American Bund, which in 1936 began openly supporting Hitler and his merry band of henchmen. It’s astonishing to me that such a thing could occur in this country, but there you have it. Not only were grown men and women engaging publicly in a giant PR campaign to convince Americans that the Nazis were a great bunch of people, the Bund also established camps for kids so that they could be indoctrinated—much like the Hitler Youth.

In Tender Enemies,  we get a chance to see all of this firsthand through the eyes of a beautiful and good-hearted amateur spy. Thanks to Lily, we are presented with an exciting story that brings this dark period of our history to life in glorious Technicolor. We meet the good, the bad, and the really bad. And much of the time, we’re not sure who we can trust, which is not good when you’re an operative who finds herself falling in love with the very person you are supposed to be spying on.

If you enjoy riveting historical fiction featuring characters who are realized wonderfully, I urge you to pick up this novel. After reading it, you may come away asking yourself—as I did—how in the world could something like this have happened in America?

You can find this review at Goodreads.

Book Description
A USA Today Best Selling author and two-time Readers’ Favorite Gold Medal winner, S. R. Mallery—as her fans say—”brings history to life.” Here is her newest, a romantic suspense thriller.

It’s 1941 in New York City, a time before Pearl Harbor, when Nazi spies are everywhere in the U.S. and no one knows who’s working for whom. In comes beautiful Lily, paid to gather intelligence by setting up a “honey trap” for Joe Stiles, a supposed German infiltrator. Problem is, she soon faces a danger she isn’t prepared for—falling in love.

Where to Buy
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon CA
Amazon AU
Amazon IN

More Reviews
Did you enjoy this review? Check out my other reviews here.