Likes is a sign of approval. They say, “Something about your post resonated with me. I’m letting you know that.” They’re not as engaging as a comment, which leads to conversations, or as gratifying as a subscription, which shows that someone liked what you posted enough to want to come back for more, but they’re nice to have.

And as of this morning, I’ve reached a very big milestone with the number of likes. Yes, that’s right, I’ve gotten to five-thousand likes!

Wow, you people are enthusiastic. I like it.

I’m very happy that I was able to make it to this milestone. I’ve mentioned it before, but when I first started out blogging, I didn’t get a lot of views, let alone likes, comments, or subscriptions. It was disheartening, logging in day after day, and seeing maybe a view or two every seven or eight days. At times like that, I thought about giving up blogging.

Call it stubbornness or ambition or just plain narcissism (I think all authors wanting to share their works with people have a bit of that in them), but I kept at it. And somehow, you all came. You liked, commented, subscribed. Heck, sometimes you even reblog. And a few of you even bought my books when I put them out.

And now this. After over five years of blogging, I’ve gotten five-thousand likes. Thank you. Thanks to everyone who’s liked the words I put out there in cyberspace, and thanks especially to nalindesignprofile, Victo Dolore, acidburnshorrorshow, and Joleene Naylor for giving me the final four likes necessary to get this far. I couldn’t have done it without you guys.

Well, that’s ll for now, folks. I’ve got a busy day ahead of me, as well as a busy rest of October. If there’s anything to post about, I’ll make sure to do so. Until then, have a great day, my Followers of Fear!

Okay, so I was grocery shopping yesterday at Meijer’s (which is a huge superstore, if you live outside the American Midwest and don’t have the chain near you), and they have this huge Halloween section around this time of year. I think, “Hey, why not pick up some stuff to decorate the apartment? After all, Halloween is a year-long thing with me.” So I go shopping, looking at what I want to furnish the apartment with, and I find an animatronic grim reaper near the back. And I decide to have some fun with it. And this was the result.

How did you like that? I thought it was hilarious enough to film, and then to post online. And since YouTube is the platform to post videos on, here you go. One YouTube video, for your enjoyment. And the best part is, the title of the video is just goofy enough that I think people will actually click on it and watch it.

By the way, after I filmed this, I had my younger sister walk in front of the skeleton. It freaked her out enough to make her jump back two feet, which was pretty hilarious. Sadly though, I did not get it on video, but I’m not sure my sister would like me putting her in a YouTube video, so maybe that’s for the best.

I seriously doubt this will go viral, but I hope a lot of people see it and find it hilarious. I also hope that my voice does not sound that reedy outside of recordings, but this isn’t a perfect world, so maybe that’s how my voice actually sounds and I just hear it differently.

Well, that’s all for now. I hope to have some more Halloween-related stuff out this month, including a picture of me in my Halloween costume (believe me, it’s a real freaky one this year. Until next time, my Followers of Fear.

My latest post from Self-Published Authors Helping Other Authors, Reestablishing a Writing Routine, has just gone live. This one is based on very recent and personal experiences, and I’ve been waiting for just the right moment to release it. Now it’s out, and I hope you check it out. It has great advice on how to get back into writing after a major life-change shakes up an already established writing routine.

If you check it out, I hope you like it. And if you have the time, I hope you check out the rest of the site. It’s brought to you by authors, the articles are from authors, and they’re for authors. If you need help writing, editing, publishing, and marketing when you’re doing it mostly on your own, this is the site for you.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I hope to have another post out in the middle of the month. Until next time!


It’s time for another tag. Only this time, I’m the one who created it! Mwa ha ha ha!

And sorry if the graphic is kind of basic. First time using (which I think I’ll use in the future for other projects).

So as many of you know, I had to stop doing #FirstLineFriday on a weekly basis because I needed to spend more time writing. Still, I liked doing #FirstLineFriday, and I think a lot of you enjoyed it too (I certainly never got any comments or messages from anyone saying that they hated my #FirstLineFriday posts). So I decided to create a tag that I could do on a less frequent basis, but does something similar to #FirstLineFriday. Hence the creation of the “First Day, First Paragraph” Tag.*

Now that that explanation is out of the way, let’s get down to the nitty gritty details. Here are the rules. Once tagged for “First Day, First Paragraph,” you must:

  1. Publish your own post on the first day of the month.
  2. Use the graphic above
  3. Thank and link back to the person who tagged you.
  4. Explain the rules like I’m doing now.
  5. Post the first paragraph of a story you’ve written, are writing, or plan to write someday.
  6. Ask your readers for feedback.
  7. Finally, tag someone to do the post next month (for example, if you do the tag on the first of August, the person you tag has to do it on the first of September), and comment on one of their posts to let them know the good news.

Rules 1 and 2 are done. I’m not going to link back to me or thank me, because that’s weird. And I just did number 4, so now onto number 5. As it’s October, and that means Halloween, I’m going to do a potential opening for a story idea I have that takes place around Halloween. Anyway, enjoy:

Lanie sat in her chair, feeling like a piece of shit. It was over. Everything was over. She had had one last shot, one last chance to prove herself as an actress before the money ran out and she had to pack it up and head back home. Why couldn’t she have held it together? She had been so confident coming in, knew every line from the audition script by heart (most of it raunchy jokes and puns revolving around shoes and feet), as well as how to say each line to deliver the most punch. And she had totally fucked it up. Now she had no chance of getting the stupid part!

Thoughts? Errors? Let’s discuss in the comments below.

And now to tag someone to continue the tag. I had two people I wanted to be my first victim tag. In the end, I chose to do one person this month and the other next month, because the first person usually loves doing tags. So, Kat Impossible, you’ve been tagged! You have to do the “First Day, First Paragraph” Tag on November 1st. Have fun! I can’t wait to see what you come up with.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’ll have a Reflections post later this month, most likely, so keep an eye out for it. Until then, as always, I’ll update you if anything needs updating. Have a great October, my Followers of Fear! I know I plan to.

*This is actually the second tag I’ve created. The first, The Black Dragon Award, was back in 2013. Sadly, I don’t think it got very far after the first few nominations. Perhaps someday I’ll have to try to resurrect it. You never know. It could go much farther this time.

My copy of To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

My copy of To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

So I recently bought my own copy of To Kill a Mockingbird, something I’ve been contemplating on doing since I listened to and reviewed Go Set a Watchman last year (more on that later). Reading the book, which I hadn’t read since eighth or ninth grade, I realized two things: one was that a lot of my memories of the Mockingbird book had been clouded and confused with the Mockingbird movie. The other was that this merited discussion. And where better to discuss it than on my blog?

I finished the book on Tuesday and watched the movie that night, but couldn’t really blog about it till now because I only have so much time, and what little I have goes by rather quickly (dammit Time, you’re still a quick bastard, aren’t you?). This article will be part review, part reflective essay, but all about what is obviously one of the best pieces of American literature ever written. So without further ado, let’s get into it.

The Book. To say the least, I’m glad I reread the book. I’m not sure if I just didn’t absorb the details as well the first time around, or if I just have a worse memory than I thought, but a lot of what made the book so wonderful hit me like it was my first time reading it. The text is beautiful, full of a smart child’s observations about events that an adult might have trouble absorbing, and all with a somewhat poetic innocence and beauty. You find yourself discovering all sorts of ironies and hypocrisies with Scout Finch, and you find yourself also wanting to explain to her these ironies and hypocrisies that, to her, are too confusing and that the adults can’t seem to explain to her very well.

And like I said earlier, I had quite a revelation about how much I confused the book and the movie. For instance, Scout’s a lot girlier in the book than in the movie. Yes, she’s still quite the tomboy in the book, but the movie emphasized that more, even to the point where she says she hates dresses. In the book, Scout doesn’t seem to outright hate dresses, she just prefers overalls. She also wants to be a good housewife when she grows up and take care of her husband, and she dreams of being a baton twirler when she’s in high school, which are something I can’t imagine Mary Badham’s Scout ever wanting to do. Yeah, these aren’t big differences, but they’re differences nonetheless.

What really surprised me though was the difference in Atticus’s character.* I’ve had this image of Atticus being like this perfect being, a giant of a man with the wisdom of Merlin and the morals of Abraham. However, this is only the movie’s version of Atticus. While Atticus is definitely a moral force, he does struggle in the book. You see it, every decision he struggles with. At times, you can feel him trying to figure out what’s the best move, whether it’s raising his children or trying to be a good lawyer and a good citizen. It was quite the surprise, but I like this version of Atticus more. A character who struggles to do the right thing is always easier to identify with and root for than a character who always does the right thing without question, and that makes the story all the more powerful.

Atticus Finch in the movie, as played by Gregory Peck.

Atticus Finch in the movie, as played by Gregory Peck.

The Movie. I love how the movie started with Scout just humming and coloring. It embodies the innocence that Scout somehow manages to maintain throughout the story. The actors all do very well in their roles, though I thought that the actor who played Bob Ewell could have looked a bit more unkempt and hateful, because he looks like just a regular farmer here. The film is smart in how it sticks to the most important points of the story, namely the trial and the children’s relationship with Boo Radley, as well as the family moments that allow the audience to get to know the characters. I would’ve liked to see more of Dill Harris, as his role is really scaled down in the film, and his exit from the movie is abrupt and not commented upon. Still, it is a really wonderful film. I’m glad I watched it again, and I hope it never gets remade (though if Hollywood is desperate enough to do so, cast Zachary Quinto as Atticus. He’s a bit young for the role, but he’s just an amazing actor. He could pull it off).

Overall thoughts. This book is just as relevant today as it was when it came out in 1960. Now I know to some people, that seems like a no-brainer. After all, the book is taught in schools every day, illustrating the racial climate of both the 1930’s and 1960’s. And yes, that is true, but Mockingbird‘s themes can be applied today. Look at the Black Lives Matter movement: it’s a movement that’s fighting against racial injustice in the justice system, trying to keep black men, women, and children alive when many are accused and sometimes even killed for crimes they did not commit. And people who would readily smack down Adolf Hitler have called these protesters thugs, criminals, terrorists for wanting things to change, and to not have to feel fear while walking down the street. Exactly like Mockingbird. And all too often, you hear people make sweeping generalizations about minorities, especially minorities who are “dangerous,” or a threat to social order. This happens in Mockingbird as well, and it’s scary to see something in a novel about the past happening in my present. And it makes you question how far we’ve really come since then.

One of the best lessons from Mockingbird is that you can’t really know someone until you walk in their shoes. I don’t remember if this point was emphasized as much in my classes back in the day (and as students at an all-Jewish school, we’re all-too familiar with what it’s like to be a persecuted people), but it’s something that should be emphasized more in examinations of Mockingbird. Because it’s all too easy to be scared of someone, but it’s difficult as hell to empathize and see things from their point of view.

Whether it’s the book or the movie, really, To Kill a Mockingbird is just a powerful story. It’s beautifully written and told, the characters are timeless, and its lessons are things we can all take to heart, no matter what age it is. I’d be lucky to write something just as earth-shattering someday. Because Mockingbird isn’t just a great example of American literature. It’s an exploration in what it means to be a human being.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. My next post will be at some point Saturday, so keep an eye out for it. Until next time!

*Speaking of Atticus’s character, something I just want to talk about real quick. When Watchman came out last year, there was all this controversy about Atticus being revealed as having racist leanings. Not the best thing to have in a sequel, is it? Well, I didn’t know this when I wrote my review, but apparently Watchman was not a real sequel. In actuality, it was most likely a very early draft of Mockingbird. This makes all sorts of sense to me, especially in light of my rereading Mockingbird. For instance, Watchman spends a lot of time going back and forth between events in Scout’s childhood and in her adulthood, which doesn’t happen at all in Mockingbird. A weird move for a sequel. That, and Atticus isn’t the only character who’s changed a bit: Uncle Jack Finch is portrayed as more eccentric in Watchman than in Mockingbird, which seems unusual as I’m sure Scout would have noticed his uncle’s oddness as a child. Most damning of all, though, is that the trial in Mockingbird is only barely in Watchman, and Boo Radley, who’s so essential to Mockingbird, isn’t even mentioned in Watchman! Very odd, to say the least.

And from a writer’s experience, I can tell you that stories can change dramatically between drafts. Some of my own stories have gone through great transformations from first draft to final publication (I should do an article on that!). That’s why Watchman, an early draft, is so different from Mockingbird, the final product.

So fear not, folks. Atticus isn’t really racist. An early version of him was, but I think the final version, who defended Tom Robinson and who said cheating a black man was ten times worse than a white man, isn’t a racist at all. He’s still a great idea of what we can be. He’s human, he struggles with his decisions, he’s not perfect. But he is a good man without prejudice. And that’s the version we love the most.

And Watchman? Well, it’s a pretty blatant attempt to capitalize on an already-famous book, but it’s good in its own right. Just remember its origin and don’t get too depressed over certain characterizations when you read it. That’s all I can say at this point, friends and neighbors.

I wanted to see this when it came out, but it came out after I moved, which means if I wanted to see it, I had to ride a bus about an hour one way to the nearest movie theater (and that’s just the start of the trip). Sucks, but on the bright side, the DVD came out only a couple of months after it came out in theaters, so I still get to see it relatively soon after it’s release.

So how did The Conjuring 2 stack up, both as a sequel to The Conjuring (which I gave a very good review) and as a horror film in general? I’m pleased to say, it stacks up pretty well on both counts. The film continues the story of real life ghost hunters Ed and Lorraine Warren (played again by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, the latter of whom I’ve yet to see in a bad role), giving another one of their famous cases the Hollywood treatment (because real life hauntings are never resolved this easily). This time they’re dealing with the Enfield haunting, a case in which a family living in public housing, particularly the daughters, are oppressed by some sort of demonic entity, as well as Lorraine dealing with a vision that supposedly shows her husband’s death.

Like its predecessor, The Conjuring 2 knows how to tell a scary story. Both jump scares and just creepy atmosphere-building moments are written and filmed wonderfully (there’s a scene where they’re interviewing the ghost without looking at it, and it’s just so freaky), there isn’t a lot of CGI, which I like in a horror film, and the acting feels real enough to make me believe in all of these characters. Of course, the story probably breaks quite a bit from the actual events of the Enfield haunting, but that’s to be expected in a movie version of events. They do give some film time to claims that the girls faked the hauntings (rather obviously too), but as it’s a horror film, they do explain why the girls tried to fake an obviously real haunting (in the movie, anyway). And there’s a fun reference to the Amityville haunting (how did they make that without paying copyright fees?) that I liked. There’s a lot to like in this film.

My favorite part, personally, is the villain, the Masked Nun. God, she/it is creepy. I can see why a spin-off is in the works based on that one creepy character!

Sadly, of course, there’s a few things that I didn’t care for. There’s a moment where Ed sings to the kids in the style of Elvis Presley that felt somewhat unnecessary and possibly shoehorned in, and there’s a joke not too long afterwards involving how far cameras have come in 1977 that, while funny, could’ve been cut out without any problems. Oh, and what’s with that musical montage near the beginning of the film involving footage from England in the 70s? We know this film takes place in London in the 1970s! We don’t need a montage with annoying English 70s music to hammer that home to us!

All in all though, I liked the film. It’s a good follow-up to The Conjuring, and I enjoyed every minute of it. On a scale of 1 to 5, I give it a 4.5 out of 5. Definitely go see it, and get yourself scared.

And this is probably my last post until next month. See you then!

(The following review contains some spoilers. Reader discretion is advised)

It’s finally here. After months of speculation, of no subtitle or definitive casting list, we have the new season of American Horror Story…and I had to wait a day because I don’t have a TV and I work. That sucks, but you learn to live with it. Anyway, since Hotel ended, there has been rampant speculation as to what Season 6 would be. Rumor was we were supposed to get the theme earlier this summer, but after Orlando, the show’s producers decided to hold back, and instead tease us with multiple trailers that may or may not be related to the actual story of Season 6.

But as of last night, we have a theme, and it is Roanoke! Now for those of you not familiar with American history or who haven’t seen the show’s first season in full, let me explain: Roanoke was an early American colony on the North Carolina coast in the late 16th century. One day, ships from England returned to the colony after a long absence with supplies, only to find the colony mysteriously empty, with not a person in sight. There were no signs of plague or foul play, and the only indicator of what might have happened was a single word carved into a tree trunk: Croatoan. The strange circumstances around the “Lost Colony” has led to a number of theories, both credible and crazy, as well as numerous fictional works about the disappearance.

And it looks like AHS is tackling Roanoke’s legend this year, and they’re doing it in odd fashion too. Rather than telling it like a regular story, as they’ve done in past seasons, AHS is presenting season 6 as a Discovery Channel docuseries called My Roanoke Nightmare, which tells the story of a couple who move into an old house and start to experience strange, supernatural events, both through interviews in what I assume to be a studio, and through dramatic reenactments with actors (it’s very meta). And from the looks of it, it may not be your average haunted house story. Already there are plenty of hints that there’s more to this season than meets the eye, and with showrunner Ryan Murphy promising that this season will begin to tie up the series’ sprawling mythology, you know you’re in for something interesting.

So what did I think of the first episode? Well, it’s definitely intriguing. It’s not the fright fest that the first episode of Hotel was, but I think that’s intentional. This episode is meant to be a lure, showing just enough to get us interested in the story. Which it does very well, giving us a format and a setup that is different from the norm. And near the end, you’re given quite a lot of weird stuff that hints at a very dense story for this season, which will definitely make longtime fans want more.

And speaking of more, I get the sense that, like the story, there’s more to the characters we’re seeing. As the season is modeled after a docuseries, you don’t really see the people in it. You see a version of them meant to keep people interested in the show. You’ve got the interracial couple who we’re supposed to root for, as well as a sister-in-law who has a lot of baggage, and as time goes on, I’m sure we’ll get more characters who start out as versions of people who are meant to keep our interest in the story, but, in typical AHS fashion, their characters will go in directions that nobody will expect, and it’ll be both bonkers and totally amazing.

In any case, this season will conclude in November after ten episodes, just like a real docuseries, so I have a feeling that we’ll get a pretty fast-paced season compared to the past. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing (a few slow moments to develop characters are sometimes necessary for good storytelling), but it’ll definitely be different, and in an anthology series that has surprised and terrified us year after year, that’s definitely what we, the viewers, expect.

All in all, this is a solid start for the show’s sixth season. It’s not super-scary, but it definitely is interesting and I have a feeling plenty of people will be buzzing about the possibilities right up until Episode 2. On a scale of 1 to 5, I’m giving the first episode of American Horror Story: Roanoke a 4 out of 5. Good luck, AHS. I have high hopes for you this year. Don’t let us down.

Well, that’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’m getting The Conjuring 2 from the library this weekend, so I’ll most likely be doing a review of that as well. Yeah, I’m not doing too well on that whole “two blog posts a month” thing, am I? Well, until then, have some pleasant nightmares!