Tag Archives: real life

H.P. Lovecraft and Podcast Update

Some things to watch out for: we officially launched the YouTube channel here the other week, and now we’re currently finishing up our second story.

One of the things we also plan on doing are some public domain stories, specifically H.P. Lovecraft coming up.

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Post-Michigan Trip

So me and the boys got back from our Michigan trip on Saturday. We were winter camping in da’ U.P. until someone (this guy!) got food poisoning and caused us to leave a day early.

Only creepy thing to really happen to me was when we got there we found bear tracks (it IS black bear country). So 1:30 AM when I wake up sick the first night, I hear something move through our campsite. It wasn’t the wind, because I could hear it move from point to point slowly, like it was exploring.

I was lying in my sleeping bag, very warm but nauseous and with a pounding headache. My rifle was lying next to my pack inside the tent, and all I could hear would be some of our outside gear move. The metal cookware drag, yet all of the food was untouched the next morning. Even the stuff just sitting out. Then it stopped, and was replaced by the wind and normal rustling sounds.

There was no fingertips on the tent fabric or anything like that, but what scared me was the lack of any animal footprints surrounding the site. So it’s either a magic bear (most likely explanation), my sick fever brain imagining things, or the Wendigo, since I chose earlier that night to tell stories about it. So, I tell stories about the Wendigo and get sick from the meat I cooked. Seems too much to be a coincidence to me…

5 Mysterious Disappearances

There have been many mysterious disappearances throughout history. A lot of the strangest ones have been thoroughly debunked, but many still have a basis in fact. I decided to keep some of the more famous ones off this list (everyone knows the Mary Celeste,) and tried to stick to those that haven’t been probably debunked (sorry WW1 Lost Battalion.) Below are some of my favorite, and creepiest, disappearances.

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Write or Die

Oh I had too much fun with this site. Write or Die is a website and writing program that force you to write. Just keeps you on task to make sure you hit out those 500 words in 15 minutes or whatever other goal you set for yourself. The program is $20 to buy, and can be tried on their site with limited settings for free.

Write or Die forces you to keep pace with your chosen WPM by flashing color whenever you slow down too much, and playing startling sounds once you’ve breached the barrier. It forced me to just write. I had to free form as quickly as possible, and it did actually get my heart rate up. I’m not sure if I’ll buy the software or not yet, but I recommend everyone give at least the trial a try (no download, straight through your browser.) Unfortunately I lost my first attempt, but it was amazing how much it kept me on task. Give it a shot and let me know what you think! I’ll try and write another entry on a stricter time frame and see how the results work.

The fear of winter

I set a lot of my horror stories in the winter.

That’s not intentional, it’s just something I noticed today. I love spring and summer. The vibrant greens and signs of animal life and growth just make me happy in the most basic of senses. A lot of people love autumn, but the dying trees and cold just remind me that winter is coming. Yeah I just did that.

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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.

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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.