Thursday, October 28, 2021

May Zombies Never Die
I've talked about this quite a bit lately, but I'm currently in the process of releasing weekly episodes of a complete story that combines Steampunk, Romance, and Zombies.  Yes, you read me right. If you can't imagine those genres going together, consider giving Serendipity at the End of the World a try. 

There seems to be constant debate in media about whether zombies are passé. Clearly they aren't. There may be times when their stock surges higher than other times--think back a few years ago to the popularity of World War Z, The Zombie Survival GuidePride and Prejudice and Zombies, just to name a few. Many years later, though, The Walking Dead is still limping along. Zack Snyder is getting ready to release Army of Thieves, a prequel to this years' Army of the Dead (which I didn't love but they can't all be winners, right?) I'll probably watch this new release anyway because it apparently features the back story of the safe-cracking German from Army of  the Dead, and he was my favorite character. 

Passé or not, I don't imagine there will ever be a time when I'm completely ready to be rid the undead. Because it's Halloween week and because I'm deeply embedded in my own zombie fiction, I decided to write a little ode to my favorite horror monster of all time:

To the fast ones, 

the slow ones, 

the ones that made me cry,

"Train to Busan"

To the screamer,

the groaner,

the silent type,

"Night of the Living Dead" 1968

To the runners,

the shamblers,

the ones that can fly,

To the old ones,

the bold ones,

the ones that are shy,

"Warm Bodies"

To the big ones,

the small ones,

the ones that are high,

May they be brown, 

may they be blue, 

may they be violet sky

May they be hurtful, 

may they be purple, 

may Zombies never die.

Monday, October 25, 2021

Some Treats for Horror Christmas!

Another quality post brought to you by Steve!

Ho ho ho!  Merry Horror Christmas, everybody!  It has been a wild and genre-defying year for me, but never fear, my little droogies.  When it comes to chills and thrills I've always got you covered.

Those of you who love your audiobooks may have noticed a distinct lack of incompetent, smartass zombies in your aural canals recently.  And you'd be right!  The Voiceover Arts Award-nominated BRAINEATER JONES audiobook has been out of print for the last eight months or so.

But, like some sort of human corpse which has been resurrected from the dead for some reason (perhaps they'll come up with a name for that some day), BRAINEATER is back, baby!  And I have 25 free copies to give away.  

And what's that?  It was even narrated by Steve Rimpici, the star of "CarousHELL" and "CarousHELL 2?"  Where do I sign up, am I right?  Well, wherever.  Just get in touch with me.  Reach out by e-mail, Twitter DM, Facebook PM, or even just leave a comment below and I'll get you a free Audible code.  (Oh, I also need to know whether you're in the US or UK.)

"But wait," you're doubtlessly saying, "what if I've already heard and or/bought the BRAINEATER JONES audiobook?"

Well, then, you, my friend, are in luck.  Same deal applies for my other two audiobooks, THE GHOUL ARCHIPELAGO, narrated by the incomparable Jennifer Fournier, and BILLY AND THE CLONEASAURUS, also nominated by Rimpici.  Just reach out for a hot spook injection in your ear!

"And what if I've already listened to all of those?" some of you are now, no doubt, breathlessly asking.  Well, in that case, tough shit, I guess.

Happy Horror Christmas, everybody!

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Sharpen Your Pencils ~ Blogging Has Entered A New Era!

By Cheryl Oreglia

I know ~ news flash! Right? 

We’ve seen it coming for years, ever since blogging made its debut in the 90s, it infiltrated the world as if a virus, then we flattened the curve with a herd mentality if you will, and today it seems to be controlled by a new vaccine, A.I., and we need to decide if we’re up for the new challenges solopreneurship blogs will be facing or be put out to pasture.

At the height of blogging it was easy to get ranked, one little focused keyword, and your blog shot to the top of Google’s search engines. Booyah. Remember when our posts enjoyed thousands of hits week after week? 

Those were the good old days.

The competition is stiff. To succeed in the future of blogging, we’ll need to produce top-quality content, demonstrate niche authority, establish a strong brand, and employ multimedia as well as a multi-channel approach says Akshay Hallur.

There’s a lot of false news out there claiming, “Blogging is dead,” but I believe these are simply scare tactics. Blogging is here to stay but those who plan on prospering in the next decade will need to sharpen their pencils and invest in some new skills. 

Here’s what the market is predicting for the future of blogging.

Google favors what favors Google. Duh.

According to Akshay Hallur, this means the SERPs will be dominated with content by big brands and corporate-owned sites like YouTube, Linkedin, Medium, etc. This creates a lot of tough competition for small bloggers. 

Hallur also says Google recently incorporated A.I. and machine learning to its search in the form of Rankbrain algorithm. It now has the ability to fully comprehend the content in seconds and rank quality content without human intervention. That is crazy. 

What does this mean for us?

Our content needs to dazzle not only our readers but Google Rankbrain according to SEJ. Shit. It’s one of the top 3 ranking factors of Google today. 

Our readers have a lot of options. Why would they choose us?

There’s a thing called information overload out there, people like to follow only a couple of blogs in their niche unless they are related to us and feel obligated to read. The current reality demands that we create captivating content, build our blog as an authority in our niche, have solid branding, or get ditched.

We need to continue to entice subscribers who read our content regularly. 

Content marketing is booming according to Akshay Hallur. Creating content that educates our readers to make decisions on future purchases, life choices, healthy living, travel, music, art, food, etc. is the future for bloggers.

In simple words, creating content in order to educate prospective customers and sell a product is booming says Akshay Hallur.

Next to Google, YouTube is the next most used search engine. We all know this and yet most bloggers completely ignore the opportunities YouTube has to offer. Apparently, people like to view content instead of reading it. It’s easier. This allows our multi-tasking culture to do things simultaneously like cooking and viewing interesting material.

Many blogs have moved to posting a link to a YouTube version of their post. It’s a skill to consider when we invite new writers to join our community.

Bloggers are able to extend their reach to new audiences by posting their content on other mediums like SlideShare, Medium, Pinterest, and Linkedin. 

People who are in need of quick information don’t always have the time to watch a video or listen to a podcast. The blog posts remain the single-best format for quick content consumption claims Akshay Hallur.

Good content writers are in demand in almost every industry. Big blogs are hiring content writers for their business, and it appears this employment model will continue to grow. 

I do not believe blogging will ever be dead but I believe solopreneurship will become a rarity in the future unless you have established your authority in your niche and your brand is well known.

It’s our new reality!

As technological advances continue to invade the blogging spear new opportunities will be unveiled. We just need to hang on to the kite’s tail so to speak and ride this trend into the future. 

What are your thoughts on the future of blogging?

When I'm not writing for Across the Board, I'm Living in the Gap, drop by anytime.

Monday, October 18, 2021

Writing Prompts for NaNoWriMo


It’s mid-October, which means two things: first, spooky season is well and truly upon us, with its crisp air and cardboard tombstones and sticky-sweet caramel apples and I could not be more delighted. And second, we are two weeks away from National Novel Writing Month, or, to those of us who are a little bit masochistic, NaNoWriMo.

Some of you probably have your novel all plotted out and ready to go. You are clearly serial killers.

The rest of us might need some help. Even if we know mostly kind of what we plan to write, it helps to have a little nudge.

I present for the approval of the midnight society, a list of prompts to help you get started or to help dig the wheel out of the mud when you get stuck.

Happy Spooky Season and Happy Writing.


1.      Your character realizes they have inadvertently become a stalker.

2.      Screw you.

3.      A translator lies about what she’s just been told.

4.      Write an anonymous letter to a stranger, going into intimate detail about the things you’ve learned about Life.

5.      Write about a lie you told and got away with.

6.      There’s a high school party happening. Write the scene from these three points of view: the drunk teen in the corner whose lost her friends, the cop called to the scene, and the nosy neighbor who called the police.

7.      Write about the oldest thing you own. Make up a backstory completely different from the truth.

8.      A woman you don’t know shows up at your house in the middle of the night to tell you something very important. What does she say?

9.      The chapter begins, “Never underestimate the lives of old men sitting on park benches.”

10.  “I was not sorry.”

11.  What is the sound of silence? Write about a time you heard it.

12.  You, a grown-ass adult, are afraid of the dark. Write about what lives in it.

13.  Your main character lives in Gary, Indiana, in 1918 and his house is on fire.

14.  How is tomato soup made?

15.  Write about irresistible temptation.

16.  You are a serial killer. What TV shows are in your Netflix to-watch list?

17.  Write a scene in which a pair of dirty socks is very important.

18.  She was a fat woman whose eating habits were dainty. There was a check for $14,000 in her purse, not made out to her, but, you know, she was good at figuring these things out. Start with her hair.

19.  Your character is 42 years old and has an imaginary friend.

20.  You are Death and starting to write your memoirs. How does it start?

Thursday, October 14, 2021

10 Horror Novels to Read this Halloween

    I've always been a big fan of the horror genre, and with Halloween coming up, I thought it would be nice to share some of my favorite horror novels I've read in the past few years. They are in no particular order. I can't really pick a true favorite book as a rule, as I just love reading in general. Check these out if you're looking for some new books to celebrate the spooky season!

Dark Hollow - Brian Keene

    Kicking off the list, is a popular novel by Brian Keene that I read just this year. I've been friends with Brian for a long time, and it was only in the last year or two that I actually got around to reading his books. I love his style and his no holds barred approach to story-telling. 'Dark Hollow' was the first book I read that featured his popular character, Levi Stoltzfus. It's about a Satyr statue that comes to life and begins seducing the wives of all the men in town. It's one of the most unique horror concepts I've read, and I highly recommend it.


Christine - Stephen King

    What list of favorite horror novels won't include the King himself? I've been a lifelong fan of Stephen King, but I never read 'Christine' before recently. A slow build leads into an absolutely terrifying possession-style thrill ride. Christine herself becomes her own character despite the fact that she is a car, and you never really know for sure if she is alive or being used as a vessel for an evil spirit. 'Christine' has become one of my favorite King novels.

Dracula - Bram Stoker

    I put off reading 'Dracula' for many years before finally delving into it this year. Although it starts a little slow, it quickly hooks you with the build up of terror the main characters experience during their encounters with the Count and his minions. It is told through a series of journal entries, which can be a little confusing at times, but experiencing the different viewpoints of the main characters was what made this classic hit my list this year.


The Loch - Steve Alten

    I love cryptids and extinct animals, so naturally when I picked up this book I was hooked just by the title alone. I've actually read it twice, I liked it so much. It takes real scientific facts and theories and applies it to the Nessie lore, and the end result is a thrilling, head-scratcher that leaves you wanting more. Although this is more of a science-fiction novel than a horror, the scary elements were enough to land it on this list for me. There is a sequel called 'Vostok' which is an equally fun and terrifying read.

The Amityville Horror - Jay Anson

    This is the original haunted house novel. What makes this book scary isn't so much the plot, as it is the fact that it was based on a true story. Though there is debate on how much of the story is fabricated vs. real life accounts of the family, it is still that slow building, mortal terror that makes this a great book. Just don't read it at night if you live in an old, creepy house. Or do, if you want an extra thrill.

The Raven - Edgar Allan Poe

I know this is technically a poem and not a novel, but 'The Raven' makes my list due to it's classic status and the psychological terror it creates when reading it. Perfect for reading aloud by a campfire. The ambiance is perfect for a short, but spooky story.

Red Riding Hood - Sarah Blakley-Cartwright

    I picked this up on a whim a while back, and I haven't regretted it. They made a movie based on this one a few years ago, but the book is naturally a lot better. More of a mystery wrapped in a horror package, 'Red Riding Hood' takes the classic children's tale and ages it up for a grown up audience. It's a regular 'who done it' story with elements of romance, fantasy, and of course, horror.

The Hollower - Mary SanGiovanni

    I've known Mary as long as I've known Brian. I read 'The Hollower' a few months ago, and as the first novel by Mary I've ever read, I'm eager to dive more into her work. Psychological horror which jumps right at you from the first chapter, you never know what madness the creature will instill in its victims next, or how it will manifest itself. This is a great one if you like your mind to be utterly f-cked.

Feral: A Novel of Werewolf Horror - Matt Serafini

    If you like explicit gore and sex, then 'Feral' would be a great read for you. You've got your basic werewolf novel at first, but then things start to turn freaky really fast. There is no lack of detail in this one, so if you're squeamish, you might want to shelve this one. I actually said 'ew' out loud a few times when reading it.

Menagerie - Rachel Vincent


This book is classified as a fantasy rather than a horror novel. Indeed it does deal with magical creatures like oracles, werewolves, and nymphs, but the horror aspect of it comes from the world in which they are placed. It takes place in a time where magical beings are locked up and forced to perform in circuses, work in brothels, and generally be slaves to the humans that own them. It's a very triggering novel that deals with rape, torture, and worse, so if you're sensitive to these things, skip this one. 'Menagerie' is the first in a three book series, and if you start it, you'll definitely want to read them all.

Monday, October 11, 2021

4 Conventions and a Music Festival

 Hey everyone! A thoroughly exhausted Mary here. I just survived what I've been calling the Month of Madness... though it was more like a month and a half. Starting with Awesome Con in mid August, it's been pretty much back-to-back-to-back events, including four weekends in a row. Basically, thanks to pandemic year scheduling, things that should have taken place months apart all got smashed into the same timeframe.

The last time I was on here, I was wondering what the dickens to expect from the return of events. Awesome Con was barely in the rearview mirror, and Gen Con was coming up... followed by Capclave, followed by New York Comic Con. Oh, and I also attended Firefly Music Festival. 

Well, now having been to four conventions and a music festival, I've got something of an idea. The atmosphere at all these events was definitely different from 2019... the good ole beforetimes. Some things were better... Both Gen Con and Firefly were noticeably chiller than in years past. Limited attendance meant fewer crowds, and everyone seemed more relaxed as a result. Of course, that wasn't great for Gen Con sales. I can't complain really -- they were at 60% of 2019's attendance, and we our book sales were 70% of what we had in 2019, so we beat the odds at least -- but it did mean a lot more lulls in Authors' Ave. 

As an attendee at Firefly, though, the slower pace was nice. There wasn't as much of a mad rush to get places, lines were shorter, and people actually respected personal space. From what I've seen in one of the Gen Con Facebook groups, attendees there felt similarly. A lot of people were saying "oh, they should keep it like this every year." And maybe these events were growing faster than they could manage previously. I have a feeling that the machine of capitalism won't allow for that though, and that the giant companies that organize these events will want max attendance as soon as they're able.

Before New York Comic Con, I would have, from a vendor perspective, been with them. But holy crap NYCC was a madhouse, and I witnessed for the first time what it felt like for an Artist Alley to be TOO busy. For some of the artists (like the two extremely talented visual artists on either side of our table), it was good for business though exhausting for them personally (these poor guys barely got breaks to eat or drink). For me and Elizabeth Corrigan, who were sharing a table, the crowd became a problem. People were unable to even see our table because there were too many people. Normally the way we start a pitch is by offering free bookmarks and cards, but when the aisle got too crowded, people went into dodging mode and just bobbed and weaved along rather than browsing. 

This was my first time at NYCC so I can't compare, but a few longtime NYCC-goers said it was a weird vibe. People were coming out of their hidey-holes for the first time in almost two years and had forgotten how to con. Enthusiasm was high, but so was confusion and general... weirdness. Sales-wise, though, we couldn't complain. I matched Gen Con in terms of sales, though considering NYCC made us work 10-hour days instead of the usual 8, I'd still say Gen Con was a better show.

As for Capclave? Again, it was my first time there (for the full weekend at least; I'd gone down for a single Saturday back in 2019) so I couldn't really compare. I was told by longtime goers that it was much lighter than previously. I didn't have a table there - I was just on panels - and I did notice that attendance was rather light. And again, there was something odd in the air.

But for all five events, people were good about following the pandemic year rules -- showing proof of vaccination when asked and keeping their masks on for the most part. And as far as I'm aware, none have turned into super-spreader events.

Here's hoping the weirdness dissipates in 2022!

Monday, October 4, 2021

Back Jacket Hack Job: House of Leaves

P.T. Phronk
A post by P.T. Phronk,
of Forest City Pulp fame
It’s my turn to do a back jacket hack job, in which I emerge from my shack to whack at a back jacket to give it flack until it cracks.
I finally finished reading House of Leaves recently. As a novel, it’s very … challenging. You can read my review on Goodreads to see what I thought. The description on the cover could go something like this:


House of Leaves, by Mark Z. Danielewski

WARNING: do not open this book unless it appeared mysteriously on your doorstep in the rain. This isn’t a horror novel, it’s an experience. The book should be absolutely filthy, waterlogged, almost impossible to read. If you bought this in a book store, you are not getting the full meta experience. This is Mark speaking. Also: fuck you.1


What you are about to critically engage with is a story about a person discovering a transcription of an analysis of a movie about a house that’s a metaphor for a relationship. You lost already? For an explanatory prologue, please search your local pawn shop for the out-of-print references in Appendix D. I don’t want to see you read one page before you put in the work to understand the nuances of academic texts, have listened to the compact disc of my sister’s album, and are prepared to sit down and over-analyze every sentence of this 700-page manuscript.


As Natsume Sōseki remarked, after watching you read this back jacket from the impossible crawl space beneath your second-floor office: “Your addiction to thinking will come back to haunt you.”2


There is one final message to understand before you open this book and begin. As I write this, I’m on a rollercoaster that appeared in my bathroom (long story), so this important message is upside-down and backwards. Stand on your head and look in a mirror or something:


ɟnɔʞ ʎon



1 Psst, hey, it’s me, the guy who left the book on your doorstep. Don’t worry about that Mark guy. Nice lawn. It reminds me of this time I was in Shrewbury, woozy on shrooms and crushing hard on a stripper who was also an assassin who called herself Jiminy Cricket, and we lay in the grass, which was the shade of my mother’s jade necklace, so let me tell you about [sentence continues for nine pages]


 Hey, it’s the editor. There is no Appendix D. Fuck you.


2 Natsume Sōseki, Light and Darkness (1917, Putnam Publishing Group), as quoted by


Is this a real book? I don’t know, but I guarantee you’ll put down House of Leaves to descend into a dark rabbit hole of Googling it, then find yourself in another room three hours later swiping through historical documents on your phone with no recollection of what led you there. It will take you five years to get through this book. Anyway, as I was saying about my mother and strippers, [twenty pages written in wingding font]

Hey it’s me, P.T. Phronk. I’m done. I’ll be back in a month, when I reveal the one tool that can double your writing output. It’s not what you think, so you’ll have to return to ATB in a month to find out what it is. How’s that for a cliffhanger? #marketing

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