Category Archives: Daily Words

Creative Writing

Just a bit of free form writing I started this morning. Nothing from my life except the horror. Dragonfly guy popped in my head when I woke up and I loved him too much. Bit of a break from horror.


The cold metal chair bites into my back as I listen to the latest speaker. I shouldn’t be slouching, but I feel like a kid stuck in church. The group had been billed as a fiction writing group, but if you add a podium, we could be an AA meeting. Hell, add some robes and we’re a cult.

The empty school gymnasium echoes as the poetry guy talks again. He just simply showed up and started reciting poems. Jasper, the guy that was running the group, tried to explain that this was for fiction writer’s and not a poetry jam, but the guy didn’t get it. We just kind of let him do his thing. It would be cool if his poetry didn’t suck so bad.

The overhead lights are shut off and we’re illuminated by a set of hastily placed work lamps. The janitor apologized and said the overhead’s were on a timer. I think he’s full of it though, and just wants us to leave.

Ok, poetry guy finished his introduction. My guess is the poem will be about his mother.

“My poem is entitled, ‘My Mother, Dragonfly.’” He beams.

I look around, some people have looks of pity for the guy, some are leaning heavily into their hands trying to stay awake. We just came off a long lecture about ‘showing, and not telling’ from Jasper. He told us all the ways we could show things.

“Mother dragonfly, your legs are not strong enough to walk, but you can fly,” poetry guy recites from a pristine piece of paper. It had been folded but the lines are so crisp that you can tell he had spent more than a minute folding it.

All the poems are like this. Last week was ‘Soaring mother eagle,’ and then before that ‘Proud mother lion.’ We all felt bad for the guy, clearly he had just lost his mom and was trying to express himself in the only way he knew how. I mean, even if it was just through rhyming animal facts he was still expressing himself.

Then his completely healthy mother picked him up from the meeting last week and now it’s gotten a bit weird.

I try to make eye contact with the cute girl across the way that writes about elves and dwarves and stuff. She’s beautiful in that ‘pre-taking off glasses’ moment in a high school movie kind of way. I never got that, half the time the girls were better looking with the glasses and messy hair. More unique.

Anyways, I tried talking to her last week, but found out quickly that she wasn’t into any universe but the one she made up. I made small talk while she explained the intricacies of her magic system. When I tried to explain my basics for what I feel makes great horror, she kept steering it back to the scary creatures occupying her world. I listened and smiled but it hurt, weren’t we here to share ideas? Also it hurt that she didn’t care a lick about my writing but the ideas thing is probably more important.

Applause struggles for life as the Dragonfly guy sits back down.

The next woman called up is in her forties and was just laid off. She told us this last week and I went home and teared up about it for a bit. She was good. I mean best seller good, but she couldn’t finish her manuscript for the life of her. Just kept re-editing and re-reading us the same passages. I wanted to tell her to submit it. It was about her life experiences as a single mother of two, having come from a nuclear family. It was touching, and I hadn’t worked up the nerve to ask for a manuscript but I think I will someday. I want to tell her to submit it to some literary agents, but I don’t.

I get up and read next. It’s more Gothic horror, and I’m starting to run out of ways to say ‘incomprehensible’ and ‘mind-shattering.’ The more I write, them more I lose the horror. I can’t put together a novel length story to save my life. I don’t write blood and guts, and I have no idea how to keep the story going past 1000 words. I went to a literary agent once, but they told me no one cared about a short story collection unless you’re established.

With that the meeting concludes. Jasper says he’ll see us next week because writing’s cheaper than therapy and we laugh. It’s a bittersweet laugh because I know half of us are in therapy. Hell, that’s probably why we’re writers.

I get up to go ask the single mother for her manuscript but stop myself. It feels wrong, it just feels so intimate to ask for something like that. I don’t want to pressure her into doing something with her work she doesn’t want to do yet. I walk away and catch up with the elves girl.

I ask her out on a date and she says yes. As we walk through the empty school halls and into the brisk winter night, she regaled me with the royal history of the Elven people of Aeri.

Back to the grindstone

Hey everyone! Sorry I’ve been so quiet lately. I’ve been working on my new camping and outdoors site, It’s In Tents! and have been trying to get that up and running. I haven’t forgotten about you lovely people however, and have started writing my fiction again. I have a piece of The Map waiting to be discovered, as well as some horror movie reviews (seriously, if you like horror movies, check out ‘The Babadook.’)

I’m also stoked to get back into the swing of reading all of your wonderful stuff! I’ve put so much time in to the book editing I had mentioned a few posts ago that I haven’t had time to really get on here at all. So, sorry I’ve been quiet, and I’ll try and be a bit more prolific on here without rambling.

Heh, like I could ever NOT ramble.

On Editing

I was recently hired by a friend to do a quick first editing of their novel. Find awkward phrasing, spelling mistakes, the normal. I don’t have to go too far into detail with the actual editing, however I cannot believe how interesting it has been. Make no mistake, it is WORK, and I have a new found respect for editors, but seeing the good and the bad of a first draft is really interesting.

The story works, and most of the issues I find are with phrasing or the repetition of words. The latter of which I have struggled with in my own writing. It’s also nice to see how a first draft looks in person that isn’t mine.

What I like about it is that it is actually really good. The characters feel real, with the exception of a little too perfect protagonist, but I feel almost like every first time writer is guilty of that. God knows I have been. Otherwise, with the exception of struggling to remember if a rule of grammar has been broken, I’m having a pretty good time with it!

Have any of you done any long form freelance editing? Any suggestions for me?

More 2 sentence horror stories and some housekeeping

First off, I have some news. Myself and some friends have created another website! ItsInTents.com, dedicated to camping and outdoor reviews and news. This way I’ll pull some of the stuff I’ve written that doesn’t fit why I created this site to begin with away and publish it to a more proper location. Please check it out! It’s sparse now, but growing a bit each day like the horrible parasite that has replaced your tongue.

Anyways! Back to horror 2 sentence horror.

A beautiful girl winked at me at a funeral yesterday. I wouldn’t have been horrified if she wasn’t in the casket.

I had never ridden in a stretch limo before. The trunk isn’t nearly as nice as I imagine the rest of it to be.

The anesthetic had kicked in but I hadn’t fallen asleep. I could feel it wear off as I wiggled my finger unnoticed by the doctor, who was too engrossed in preparing the bone saw.

I actually live in the attic. I’m sorry it had to be this way, I thought you and your husband had left for work.

Only in dreams

“You know what Dee, I don’t want to hear about your dream, okay? I hate listening to people’s dreams. It’s like flipping through a stack of photographs. If I’m not in any of them, and nobody’s having sex, I just… don’t care.”

-Dennis, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

I had two separate nightmares tonight. In one, I was assisting in a murder investigation at a coal mine in South Africa, when a previously unknown pocket of oil was struck. The oil was flooding the mine, and I barely escaped with my life and could feel myself choking on the rancid liquid as I fought for air and saved one of my fellow investigators. I honestly thought I was going to die.

In the second nightmare, I was in a classroom filling out a worksheet, while a strange man would come around and ask basic science questions. I was sitting next to some friends, both those new and those who have gone their separate ways, when he came to me and asked what were the three types of rock. “Easy,” I say. “Sedimentary, Igneous, and… uhmmm,” I stammered.

Guess which one woke me up in a cold sweat. And I still can’t think of the damn third rock. I refuse to look it up.

Continue reading Only in dreams

6 Subjective Rules for Successful Horror

I watched “Beneath” (2013) on Netflix Instant the other day, and was thrown a bit. 1. It doesn’t show up on IMDB under that name, however another movie exists with that name. 2. I couldn’t figure out its internal logic. That’s not always a problem, but does pull me out of the movie a bit.

Horror needs rules. I don’t mean that there always needs to be a killer targeting teens, or a final girl, or anything like that. Horror can have cliche’s as many of them allow us to place ourselves in the shoes of the protagonists. I mean rules as in an internal consistency in the universe.

One of the problems with most horror movies is the inability to set up rules. Jump scares are prized over real atmospheric terror. The killer being mysterious I have no problem with (if it is that kind of horror, and not existential or body horror or the like,) I have issues when the killer isn’t restricted by any kind of rules.

Continue reading 6 Subjective Rules for Successful Horror

A Writing Experiment: Results

So the experiment went well! My players didn’t get as far as expected, but that was due to 2 main factors: me shaking off that game mastering dust since I haven’t run a game in probably a year now, and the fact that I got tired before any of them.

See, even though I have been spending my time mainly writing, I.e., working on my own schedule, I still wake up at 5am every morning on the dot. It doesn’t matter if I fall asleep at 9:30pm or midnight or 2am, it just happens. Weird eh? Last night I kicked them out at 9:15pm and was asleep at 9:30pm. Very early for me but for some reason I was just hit by a wall. Probably a combination of the mental strain of keeping all the pieces juggling in the game, and the Guinness I claimed as my right as game master.

Anyways, it actually really did help me work out a few kinks in my world and as a storyteller. I found something interesting in the meantime, I get much more self conscious trying to explain my story to others in person instead of just as a written story. My story is basically a fish-out-of-water fantasy with a few spins on the genre. It’s been fun to write, but just trying to explain it to someone, I get lost stumbling over myself. How much do I give away? How much do I hold back?

Writing for the game itself became interesting since I had to lay the general story out on the line and more. No longer were the characters just speaking through me, but also interacting and responding to the player characters.

I, and I assume many others, have come to what can be looked at as the adventurer assumption. For instance, the world is threatened, you have the means to stop it through a mysterious item or quest, do you embark on it as soon as possible, or do you research? Can caution be thrown to the wind, or should it be trusted and steps measured. At what point do you say to hell with it and jump through the doorway or read the forbidden book or speak to the creepy old man?

As a game master, I see this a lot. The sections where I assume the players will selflessly throw themselves into a dangerous situation, they debate and research. When I assume they’ll act with caution, they will ride in like heroes, guns ablaze. This is more of an indictment of my abilities as a storyteller, and I’m extremely happy that I tried it. It helped point out the jumps in logic I make because I know what comes next. Not what the characters will do necessarily, but major events that are in the works and when they happen. I’m still working on making the world proactive. I need to remember that even though my POV characters may not be involved in a certain plot point, it still develops and is both proactive in it’s progression, and reactive to protagonist actions.

One of the best things I’ve learned from writing actually came from an RPG book for game masters. Remember that while the players have their goals and are seeking them out, the villain isn’t just sitting on his throne, bored, occasionally ordering minions to go bug the player characters. They have wants and needs of their own, and while the players are doing things so are the villains progressing in their goals. Maybe their goal is to be lazy, but if they’re developing a super weapon or rigging an economic system or whatever the case, they should still be making progress in the vacuum of the player characters. I need to remember that for my stories.

All in all, experiment a success, and it sounds like we might get back together next Sunday so I’m glad everyone enjoyed getting together enough to be up for having another go where we left off.

Also, shout out to Carla Doria M. of “Diaries of the happy loner” for recommending Microsoft OneNote. All my writing I still do in Scrivener, but OneNote was perfect for maps and documents on the fly for my group. Who doesn’t like a MS Paint hand-drawn map of a fantasy world? I made the castle orange so they knew it was special.

A writing experiment

In a few hours I’m going to try something interesting.

A bit of a writing experiment to test the usability and coherence of the world of my novel. I’m going to have my RPG group run through a section of it.

Now, I’ve mentioned in the past that I’m a huge nerd and love Role Playing Games, while I don’t play Dungeons and Dragon’s or wander through the woods in a cloak, the image in your mind is probably true. A group of friends and I hang out, drink beer, and basically create collaborated, guided stories. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. Regardless, we have a good time.

In this case, introducing my friends to the world of the novel as I close my world-building phase, I feel like it will be a stress test on how well the setting itself works before I commit myself to 80,000+ words. It feels like a focus group of people I trust, but in a good way.

Have any of you writer’s ever tried something similar before committing to a fiction setting? Or any other writer’s who play RPG’s and use that in their writing? Any system recommendations? I love Call of Cthulhu, World of Darkness, Delta Green, Shadowrun, and Traveller for instance. And for all my other readers: next update will be about the follow up to my bachelor party. The trip where we went back to the Wisconsin River… Stay Tuned.

There’s something in my house

At least Bailey seems to think so. This is going to sounds kind of cliche coming from a horror writer, but ever since I’ve written the article on Skinwalkers, weird things have been happening. Bailey is on edge and will bark and growl at empty rooms, she’ll insist on napping next to me or my wife while we work and not anywhere else, and every so often she’ll seem to hear something downstairs.

Now, she is skittish as all hell. When her ball rolls next to the garbage can, encouraging her to get it is like trying to convince someone who’s scared of heights to go skydiving. Regardless though, I’ve noticed stuff too. Weird little things. Strange noises and the sound of footsteps. Unease when I’m home by myself with the dog or even just outside in the yard at night. I do not live in a scary area, this is a new feeling.

Just now she perked her ears up and is rapidly scanning the room.

Anyways, what happened the other day really made my skin crawl.

I’m pretty OCD about making sure I lock the back door after taking Bailey out. It’s the first thing I do before I unleash her. So, put yourself in my shoes.

You’re upstairs on your computer, listening to music, playing games, whatever.

Then you hear something downstairs, just sounds like something being moved. You pause the music and listen. There it is again. The dog won’t leave your side. You go downstairs and first thing you notice is the backdoor is unlocked. Chiding yourself for being careless, you lock it and turn around and face the basement door.

And see the glow of the basement lights flooding out between the gaps in the door.

Lights that weren’t on that morning, and that you don’t remember turning on.

Bailey and I retreated upstairs, confirmed my wife was still at work, and then searched every inch of the house. I even had a horror movie moment where I had to dramatically pull back the shower curtain. By the end I was sure I was having a mini-panic attack. I didn’t find anything, but still we’ll hear things downstairs that we just ignore at this point.

Occasionally Karen will hear something at night, but it seems most of whatever it is happens during the day. Sorry for the quick update, I was writing about a local hospital, but this popped in to my mind and I had to write it down. Have you guys ever had anything weird like that happen? Probably just a fluke in memory but enough to throw off your day based on the creepiness factor? Let me know in the comments below. If no one has had anything that specific, I’ll need to figure out how all those vampire and werewolf hunters in the movies source all of those silver bullets.

5 Historic unsolved murders straight out of a horror movie

Unsolved historical murders fascinate me. Usually a suspect that is considered the perfect suspect ends up exonerated years later. Or an obviously guilty subject can be let go due to police incompetence with the investigation. I’ve compiled a list of 5 unsolved murders that could be the plot of a horror movie. These have all scared me in the past and the last entry still reminds me to be extremely aware of my surroundings. If there are any you’ve felt I’ve missed that are just as scary, please feel free to comment below.

The Murphy family, Michael not pictured.

The Gatton Murders

Sometime between the night of December 26th and morning of December 27th 1898, Michael Murphy and his two sisters went missing after leaving to attend a dance in nearby Gatton in Queensland, Australia. After the dance was canceled, their mother dispatched her son-in-law to go find them. He was able to easily track their progress as Michael had borrowed his horse drawn cart for the trip, which had a damaged wheel.

He found them on the morning of December 27th, the two women bludgeoned to death. Michael and the horse had both been shot to death. Their bodies were arranged in a triangle with the cart and horse forming two sides, while the bodies were laid next to each other in an East-West orientation. Evidence at the crime scene was destroyed when patrons at a local hotel rushed to the scene of the crime. The murders have not been solved, although family members were placed under investigation.

bodom

The Lake Bodom Murders

As a frequent camper, this one hits close to home. On June 5th, 1954, four teenage friends camping on the shores of Lake Bodom in Finland were attacked between the hours of 4 and 6 am. The attacker used a knife and a bludgeon to kill 3 of the teens, and hit the fourth in the face leaving a concussion, swelling, and a broken jaw. Most likely thinking him dead, the killer left the scene.

The lone survivor lived a relatively normal life until the 1990’s when he was arrested on suspicion of committing the killings. The charges were later dropped. The other suspects included an alleged KGB spy, and a drunk farmer who confessed to the crimes and then stated he buried the weapons in his well. The well had indeed been recently filled in. However, he did have a shaky alibi from his wife who said he had never left the house that night, but then admitted he had threatened her on occasion.

AthaliaPonsellLindsley

Athalia Ponsell Lindsley

On the evening of January 23rd, 1974, former model, actor, and political activist Athalia Ponsell Lindsley was murdered on the front steps of her home in St. Augustine, Florida. She had been attacked with a machete and almost decapitated. The main suspect was her neighbor, Alan Stanford, who had threatened her in the past. One of the neighbors confirmed that Stanford was the one that killed her that night, however he was acquitted due to tainted evidence and police incompetence. The case gets even more interesting shortly afterwards.

Frances Bemis, Lindsley’s friend and neighbor, was a public relations representative and author. She began her own investigation into her friend and neighbor’s death when the police investigation fell through. She was known for her frequent evening walks. One day she mentioned that she had discovered information about the death of Lindsley. Shortly afterwards on November 3rd of 1974, she was found with her skull bashed in with a cement brick. The murder also remains unsolved.