Nightmare #365: Spider

(Male, 30’s) On a normal night, one where you wouldn’t expect anything out of the ordinary to happen, I am sitting in my living room, in my favorite spot on the faded couch, when I notice a large spider in the corner. Not only does its appearance frighten me — it has markings unlike a natural spider, with bright red rings around its body and fangs that seem to drip with venom, although I dare not draw nearer to make sure — but I can sense a malevolent aura coming from it. Its strange eyes transfix my own, and I feel myself trying to discern its desire. For it is clear that this spider wants something from me, something bad, but I wake up before I can find out what.

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Nightmare #364: Ruined Vacation

isolated island

(Female, 40s) I was spending Christmas vacation on a tropical island, maybe Hawaii or Tahiti. It was really lovely.But I wandered off to another island and came upon some criminals who were holding 2 people hostage. And so they kept me hostage too.

But I had tickets home for a high school reunion, and rather than expose their plot, the criminals let me go to the reunion. They made me promise to come back or they would kill the other hostages.

The reunion was a a big university library. I saw friends I hadn’t see in years. But I was torn about what I should do about the island hostage situation. Was I supposed to keep it a secret or should I get help?

I decided to tell some of the teachers in charge. At first they were not that interested. They thought I was making up the story or that I was crazy. They didn’t really seem to care at all– until I mentioned the stolen property that the criminals had: some maker-bot 3-d printers and a big yellow robot — 6 feet wide and 6 feet tall. The teachers had only the empty boxes the stuff came in. Seems those things had gone missing so my story might be true after all.

Then I was back as a hostage in the house on the island. The criminals came and they had me hold their gun on one of the other hostages while they tied them back up again. They wanted to make us afraid of each other too. I pointed the gun at the other criminal however and pulled the trigger. I was going to shoot him, but there were no bullets in the gun.

So we hostages decided to escape. Trying to get out of the house, I ran into a man I knew. I asked for help, but it became apparent that he was on the other side. His eyes glowed like LEDs. He’d been brainwashed or taken over; he was going to hurt me, strangle me. So I had to kill him. We fought and wrestled. I was sitting on top of him, finally, and I had to drive a chisel through his neck. It was hard work and bloody, but he was dead. Then there were more people I ran into as I tried to flee the house– a lawyer, an actor, my husband. They all had to be killed in specific ways– with knifes or saws or chisels — through their necks or cutting off their heads. They were possessed and would kill me if I didn’t kill them. I didn’t want to fight them but I had no choice. I just wanted to go home.

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Hail Zombo

Hail Zombo

It’s time to take down that ratty Sisters of Mercy poster, the one you taped to your dorm room wall, the one that’s followed you into this so-called adult life that you’re leading. I understand why you cling to this relic. It reminds you of when you were with-it, when you were relevant. I agree. You need better things to hang on your walls than the soul-less, mass market crap from Kmart. But face it, there’s not a lot left of the paycheck for home decorating. Let me tell you about

Every single day, features a different hip, reasonably priced art print. For a few bucks more, they’ll frame it using archival materials and ship it to you so well packaged and cradled it’s almost like they are home delivering babies or something. The runs are limited editions, signed and numbered and the images are from some of the freshest contemporary artists. I have a whole wall full of pieces by John Dunivant, the crazy genius behind Theatre Bizarre and they’re all from 1xrun. Other folks of interest to DailyNightmare readers are Glen Barr, Mimi Yoon, Chet Zar, Sarah Joncas… seriously, lots of great images. From time to time, also offers the original art associated with the print run for more serious collectors with deeper pockets. Subscribe to the mailing list at least to slap something interesting in your face on a daily basis.

"The Twins" by John Dunivant from

“The Twins” by John Dunivant from

From time to time, has “Archive Sales” where they sell the final few pieces from some of their recent runs. This is the gold mine, the last-train-to-Clarkesville chance for missed opportunity. For instace, I was able to pick up Dunivant’s “The Twins” from a run printed long before I was hip to 1xrun. If you can keep a secret, there’s another Archive Sale happening this weekend and when I just checked, one of Dunivant’s “Illusionist’s Ball” prints was available, that cool poster from the last Theatre Bizarre but printed on metal.

"The Illusionist's Ball" by John Dunivant from

“The Illusionist’s Ball” by John Dunivant from

You took an art history class, didn’t you? You have a taste for the better things, cooler things. 1xrun will hook you up.

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Escalator to HELL

The Doktor filmed this video on our recent visit to Atlanta, Georgia to attend the World Horror Convention. It’s 1:46 seconds of a slow, steep ride down an escalator which appears to be lit a light green for added eerie effects. Although I do not suffer from escalaphobia or acrophobia (I rather enjoy both escalators and heights), my grip on the handrail was steady and tight the entire time. I may have held my breath as well!

Take a trip with us to the underworld on the escalator to hell, or at least, the bowels of the MARTA system!

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Nightmare #363: Trapped in the Sinking Car

Sinking Car

(Michiganian, 30’s) I’m at my old job, and my co-worker and I are driving somewhere in her car. She’s always pretty nervous and anxious, but today she’s even more nervous than usual. I wonder if someone said something that freaked her out? Or maybe she’s just nervous that I am in the car with her. I have no idea where we’re going.

It’s winter, the roads are a little snowy. We drive over a bridge. Are we crossing a river? a lake? I don’t know. The bridge is very low, very close to the water, and it is very narrow, very much like a pier, actually.

She drives the car off the pier/road into the icy lake, and the car crashes through the ice into the frigid waters beneath. She’s hit her head on the steering wheel, she’s lost consciousness.

I suddenly remember an episode of Mythbusters where they talked about what to do if you are in a sinking car. The water pressure on the outside of the car makes it very difficult to open the doors and get out. So you have to open the windows (ideally before the car has sunk under the waters surface), and let the car fill with water. The pressure equalizes, and you can open the door and swim out. They did their mythbusting in a swimming pool in California, not an icy Michigan lake. I’m not excited about sitting in a car placidly as it fills with icy water, but that may be my only chance to survive if i don’t die of hypothermia first. I try to open the window. The car has power windows, and the system must have shorted out because when I press the button nothing happens.

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DailyNightmare PODCAST – Nicole Cushing Interview

Several works by Nicole Cushing

Several works by Nicole Cushing

The World Horror Convention is a great opportunity to meet authors, publishers and agents from around the world… and from around the corner. I was able to talk with Nicole Cushing, one of my favorite up and coming authors of darkly weird fiction who just happens to live in Indiana. I had only read her novellas, Children of No One (DarkFuse 2013) and I am the New God (DarkFuse 2014) when I interviewed her, but I am currently working through her first collection of short stories, The Mirrors (Cicatrix Press, 2015) which I picked up at World Horror Convention 2015. I also grabbed her Bizarro work, “How to Eat Fried Furries“(Eraserhead Press, 2010). Her novel, Mr Suicide, will be released this July and is already getting some stellar press from folks whose opinion counts.

I am also a member of the Nicole Cushing postcard club which we discuss in the podcast and which is, frankly, a hoot and a half. A selection of these monthly missives can be seen in the photo above.

Nicole’s business card bills her as a “freelance nihilist” which suggests the dark wit that I find so compelling, both in her fiction and in person. I thank her for being so generous with her time for this interview.

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DailyNightmare PODCAST – World Horror Convention 2015

Doktor Leech and Elsa L reminisce about the World Horror Convention 2015 held in Atlanta.

Highlights include:

Lucy Snyder wins as Michael Knost and Michael Arnzen grovel in awe.

Lucy Snyder wins as Michael Knost and Michael Arnzen grovel in awe.

Midwest Shoutout to Lucy Synder who won TWO Bram Stoker Award®
Shooting Yourself in the Head for Fun and Profit: A Writer’s Survival Guide
Soft Apocalypses (Raw Dog Screaming Press)

Linda Addison reading poetry

Linda Addison reading poetry

Dark Poetry Readings
— Linda Addison (Being Full of Light, Insubstantial)
— Mary Turzillo
— James Dorr
— Sydney Leigh
— Stephanie Wytovich (Mourning Jewelry)
— Marge Simon
— Bruce Boston
— Michael Arnzen

Balogun Ojetade, Jeff Carroll, Gerald Coleman and John Edward Lawson

Balogun Ojetade, Jeff Carroll, Gerald Coleman and John Edward Lawson

The “World Horror” programming track

— John Edward Lawson
— Usman T. Malik
— Toni Morrison’s Beloved which came up as a topic on several panels.

Southern Vampires
Charlaine Harris

Good Greens at White Oak Kitchen & Cocktails

Good Greens at White Oak Kitchen & Cocktails

Good Greens
Sweet Auburn Curb Market
White Oak Kitchen & Cocktails

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Tempest Bradford told me I WILL DIE

I'll likely DIE before I finish reading books like THESE!

I’ll likely DIE before I finish reading books like THESE!

I already own more books than I could possibly read in my lifetime–not that this fact slows the rate at which I buy more books, mind you. Perhaps part of my mind is blissfully unaware of my eventual mortality. Perhaps some scrap of my psyche buried since adolescence thinks I *will* be able to read everything. Thanks a LOT, Tempest Bradford, for reminding me that I’m going to die with most of my books unread.

Seriously, that’s the most controversial, click-bait-y spin I can put on the challenge made last February by K. Tempest Bradford. Read it, why don’t you? Some of the dust has settled… or maybe it’s just been eclipsed by other, more pointless controversies. I blog about as slowly as I read, so I’m only getting around to boosting this idea now.

Don't be DECEIVED by that smile! Tempest Bradford makes White Men CRY! (pictured here with Chesya Burke, Mary SanGiovanni and Lucy Snyder at MoCon X)

Don’t be DECEIVED by that smile! Tempest Bradford makes White Men CRY! (pictured here with Chesya Burke, Mary SanGiovanni and Lucy Snyder at MoCon X)

TL:DR? To paraphrase, Tempest proposes that readers might construct a self-directed reading list that looks beyond white, straight, cis-gendered male writers. Try it for a year, even if you happen to be non-white, non-straight, non-cis-gendered, non-male yourself. You might learn something.

But I take a different approach to what is, basically, the same point. I know my own experience… and it bores me. I read to extend that experience, to visit the universe next door, to sample what it might be like to be someone else. Reading allows me to bolt on enhancements to my factory-standard life without sutures, scar tissue or electrodes on my neck. I suspect most folks who are drawn to speculative fiction are particularly familiar with this interest in literary transcendence, so to speak. The mainstream world confuses it with “escape.” I prefer to view it as a choice to live more fully and deeply.

And I am particularly susceptible to challenges. (Perhaps the less said about that character trait the better… unless proof surfaces on Youtube.)

After I read her article, I scanned my disheveled shelves and scooped up a tall pile of books that I already own which would satisfy the challenge. Some of these works I had wanted to read for years. Worse, some of these works I had *pretended* to have read. Egad, in at least one case, these authors are my friends. Clearly, following the challenge would allow me to stop this madness, assuage some guilt, in addition to gratifying that weird predilection I have to peer pressure.

This mound of books (only a small portion of which is depicted in the photo above) was far taller than I could realistically read in a year at my current rate of consumption so I made further subdivisions. One stack of “non-male,” another stack of “non-white.” I only balked at the non-cis-gendered category for some really egg-headed theory-licious reasons that I won’t delve into here. The piles were still too high, especially when I factored in the new books that I know are coming out this year that would qualify. So I made another set of subdivisions that are relevant to this blog: I focused on works that were any combination of Midwest + Snob + Horror. Such sub-divisions, I believe, would be cool with Tempest.

Note: these are mostly books I’ve already decided I want to read. I’m just going to, y’know, actually READ them.
Note further: I still plan to BUY books by straight white dudes this year. Woe be to one who tries to stand between me and my occasional retail therapy.

I met Tempest Bradford this weekend at MoCon X and we chatted a bit, once I steeled my courage with alcohol. She’s rather charming in person, despite her big bad reputation for making white men cry.

And even if her post, y’know, reared the dark foreboding of the Grim Reaper over my library, one bony finger pointing to my waiting grave.

Wanna know the specific titles I’ve been reading or the ones that are on my shelf? Stay tuned.

Elsa and I make similar points, though with far fewer words and in a largely caffeine-deprived state in this Podcast.

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DailyNightmare PODCAST: Bradford Challenge

Elsa and the Leech Doktor discuss the challenge issued by K. Tempest Bradford to plan a year of reading focused on expanding one’s experience. Why not take the Bradford Challenge yourself?

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DailyNightmare PODCAST: Penguicon 2015

Doktor Leech and Elsa L. mention some darker highlights from Penguicon 2015, the annual convention that celebrates open source culture. (

Topics include:

• gelatin prosthetics for costumes. Shout out to Jeannie Arquette of ArtificeFX who makes silicone prosthetics and airbrush stencils (;

• speculative poetry. Shout out to Matt Betts, novelist and dark poet ( ;

• Michigan cryptids . Shout out to Shetan Noir, paranormal expert (

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Gothic/Romance in Nerve’s “The Heights”


A view from “The Heights”

I’d intended to follow Nelly, to watch her reactions even when the focal action was elsewhere but I lost my way, so to speak, on the urban moors of Nerve’s production of “The Heights.”

Such decisions are encouraged during immersively staged “consensual theatre” which is Nerve’s stock and trade. Audience members mingle around the action and are free to follow their hearts. Going into this production, based on Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, I was oh-so-certain that Nelly would be the linchpin. She tells the tale, after all, this questionable narrator. Marisa Dluge, a Nerve regular, vividly conveyed this mesh of verbiage, modulating between narration and mimickry. My initial hypothesis was that Nelly would present the tale like she was playing with mental dolls, that every detail would be clearest through her perspective. The playbill even asked “Should we do what is right… or real?” and that seemed to be the kind of question that would vex Nelly, that ever vigilant, proper servant.

Nerve’s gritty, visceral production, thankfully, problematized my easy pre-interpretation.

First Obstacle: I found it impossible to ignore Catherine’s very embodied ghost. Just as Rachael Harbert was a revelation as the Red Queen in Nerve’s Alice, her portrayal here was eloquently gestural. Though Catherine never speaks a word during the performance, she and Nelly engage in a near constant dialogue, with Harbert providing physical response and counterpoint to Dluge’s accounts of the story. (If I were smarter, better read and only slightly more pretentious, I might launch some observation involving Sedgwick’s notion of homosociality, that Nelly and Catherine both use Heathcliff as an object of gratification, a token of exchange. But fuck the footnotes, OK?) My favorite moments of “The Heights” involve Harbert’s Catherine. For instance, her unabashed welcome of the returning Heathcliff, played by the handsome and talented Steve Xander Carson, where she fused herself to his body like a tattooed glyph, brought tears to my eyes. In another scene, she struggled palpably beneath the figure of Edgar, who is literally no more than a stuffed shirt, so painfully evocative of the weight of her ill-considered marriage. Her portrayal of that pivotal scene made sense of an enigma I found in the story. Catherine, too, broods on the question of rightness and realness, which honestly, I missed in my quick perusal of Brontë’s novel.

A second obstacle to my facile pre-reading was the evocatively creepy stage design. Full disclosure: I helped build some of the pieces but the way my scant contributions were woven into the complete design was quite remarkable. I particularly liked how the weird assemblages of Book/Trees cast textural shadows around the room. Lines from the text were written in large letters across the floor, some of which were only legible from the balcony. That raised alcove offered other treats for the curious. The set was interesting before the performance but was even more intriguing after the actors had their way with it. While audience members filed out, I wandered the set again, taking in the family grave site that had been erected in one corner during the performance, and in another corner, the site where Heathcliff (nearly) exhumed Catherine’s corpse. It felt appropriate that “The Heights” was staged in Gallery 17, an art gallery in the Russell Industrial Center since the set evolved in respond to the actions of the play, becoming an art installation all its own. In fact, before the final performance this Saturday, Nerve is allowing patrons to tour this installation (3:00 – 4:00 PM, Saturday April 25)

I could quibble about certain infelicities. The echoe-y cement walls swallowed some of the dialogue. Before the show, we were warned about proper behavior, which gave a sense of undue delicacy to this rather rough and tumble ballet. And the audience clumped together at times like they’d been given assigned seats. No matter, the production roared to life subsuming all impediments.

Spring is the time for lovers, and Nelly’s stormy tale of Heathcliff and Catherine is indeed a timeless affair. In proper fairy tales, love ends in happy ever afters, a happiness which apparently relies on rightness and propriety. “The Heights,” however, is no such comforting bedtime story. If you’re fortunate enough to score tickets, this production portrays other passions, ones that leave us breathless, ruined, quite unfit for Heaven, yet darkly fulfilled.

Right or Real? Nerve leaves the choice to you.

Check here for ticket availability.

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“The Heights” — Nerve’s invitation to Wander the Moors

10978521_1571869419721918_1248196256115469464_nExpect to get your hands dirty if you were lucky enough to score tickets to “The Heights,” the latest production by Nerve, the Detroit based performance company. Nerve productions typically immerse audience members inside the playing space, and their adaptation of Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights is no exception. Ticket numbers are limited to allow participants space to roam the “urban moors” that Nerve has constructed at Gallery 17 in the Russell Industrial Complex. The run is extremely limited as well, just four performances, April 17 and 18, 24 and 25. (Tickets might still be available here.)

Any reader of the DailyNightmare really should be familiar with Brontë’s tale of stormy gothic passions, of sex and death and ghosts… though I confess I wasn’t. To prepare for the show, I listened to the free audio version available from I am also prepared, however, to have a unique experience apart from a “traditional” reading of the text. Nerve has pared the tale down to its most vital spine to sharpen the essential question “…should we do the right thing or the real thing?” The drama is enacted by Steven Xander Carson, Rachael Harbert, and Marisa Dluge.

If you are wondering what to expect from the performance, Nerve’s mission statement provides some hints: “We define success as sensation. We take space and use it. We make consensual art. Our audience is everywhere.” From attendance at previous productions, we know Nerve’s “consensual art” invites but does not require the audience’s participation, yet the magic of the performance is enriched by the attendees’ willingness to play. The final alchemy of the event is more easily experienced in person than explained in abstract.

Nerve is (in)famous for its puppets, and I’m told several constructed actors will appear in this production as well. I’m curious how they will fit into this production– and the only way to find out for sure is to be there, but here are some previews:

Fair warning: all tickets must be purchased in advance, so if you want to wander these urban moors this spring, you’ll need to plan ahead. In fact, act right now.

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Nightmares about Bugs!

If you are looking for bug-related nightmares to inspire 100-word stories, follow the links below. Keep in mind that we’re defining the category broadly, so topics can include insects and arachnids, worms and slugs, ants, bees and creepy crawlies as well as diseases, biological, mental and spiritual.

The March 30 deadline approaches quickly! Submission details can be found here.

Nightmare #249: House Consumed by Bugs and Rats

Nightmare #222: Water Bugs

Nightmare #182: Bugs Everywhere

Nightmare #339: The Needle and the Conqueror Worm

Nightmare #336: Pick on Someone your own size

Nightmare #225: Smothering Humidity and Heat

Nightmare #310: Larval Goddess

Nightmare #75: Snakes and Straw

Nightmare #71: Snakes and Chain Fence

Nightmare #143: The Dark Carnival

Nightmare #84: Bees and Spiders… and Nazis?

Nightmare #26: Monstrous Bees

Nightmare #360: House of 1000 Copses

Nightmare #358: Child Vampire

And to be sure, there are many MORE nightmares about bugs among the collection that would prove suitable for a 100-word prose poem for the Quick Shivers about Bugs anthology. We invite you to explore, to experiment, and frankly to shake up the editors’ mailbox. Be clever, horrific, reflective, playful and wise in your word choice. 100 words allows no time for fillers, dull words, or repetition. Are you ready to try? Good!

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Le Marche du Nain Rouge 2015, Detroit

According to legend, le Nain Rouge, a feisty local demon, cursed Père Cadillac over 300 years ago as he tried to found the city of Detroit. This “red dwarf” has continued to plot Detroit’s demise ever since… until Detroit took action.


Every year, on the first Sunday after the Spring Equinox, the Nain Rouge re-appears in Midtown to heap scorn and sow discord in the the Motor City. And every year since 2010, Detroit has united to march the troublemaker out of town in grand style.


Called the “Mardi Gras of the Midwest,” the annual Marche du Nain Rouge is a glorious expression of community pride. Equal parts Carnivale-type floats, home-town parade, semi-pagan rite of spring and old-fashioned Motown party, the Marche has steadily grown in attendance.


Participants are encouraged to wear costumes so that the vindictive Nain Rouge doesn’t seek retribution. Creative folks live in southeast Michigan, as these photos attest.





The predominant color is red, fitting both to the Nain Rouge and to local hockey team, the Red Wings.




The Nain Rouge perched atop a mechanical cockroach that spewed smoke and dour music…


But the revelers included the Detroit Party Marching band who countered his gloom with butt-shaking jams.
IMG_5668This year, attendees paraded the mean-spirited Dwarf down Second Street, starting by Traffic Jams and ending at the Masonic Theatre, where he was successfully banished for another year.
A dance party ensued in the sumptuous Fountain Ballroom in the basement of Masonic. If tradition holds, that cantankerous dwarf will return next Spring so why not plan to join the resistance and take your place in the next Marche du Nain Rouge in downtown Detroit, Michigan?


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Long Distance Bromance: Ken MacGregor on Collaboration

I first met Ken MacGregor when his film “The Quirk and the Dead” was under consideration for the 2013 Impy Award. (Watch it on YouTube.) Ken wrote, directed and acted in that short, oddly sweet zombie movie, based on one of his short stories. But I really got know Ken by carpooling to monthly meetings of the Great Lakes Association of Horror Writers. Ken’s relentless drive to keep writing and keep submitting is a source of great personal encouragement. Though he started writing professionally only a couple years ago, Ken’s work has appeared in over 50 publications. His first collection of creepy tales, An Aberrant Mind, came out last year on Siren’s Call Press. I grin whenever I even *think* of his character Gavin the werewolf. I asked Ken to write a bit about the experience of writing a series of novels with Kerry Lipp, a collaboration that was productive long before the two met face to face.

Long Distance Bromance
Ken MacGregor

Writing has been called one of the loneliest jobs in the world. Sometimes, it really is. But, once in a while, if you find the right person, it can kinda be a party.

I write a lot of horror, among other things, and I’ve been picked up by several anthologies. Some of the same names come up over and over in the tables of contents and you start to get to know people. This one writer, Kerry Lipp (middle initials G.S. for Giant Squid – you’ll have to ask him why) wrote in a style I found very entertaining. His characters were people I could imagine drinking beer with. His sense of humor was remarkably similar to mine. His story-telling resonated with me.

So, around the end of 2012, I shot him a note asking if he wanted to try something together. He asked if I had anything in mind. I did.

I sent Kerry the opening to a short story I had started in which a man wakes up one morning physically dead, but still mentally sharp. He liked it, picked up where I left off and sent it back. We went back and forth like that until we had over 4,000 words and a complete story. It was called “Stiffed” and appears in an anthology called “Life of the Dead.” (This is a shameless plug.)

We had so much fun writing together, I asked if he wanted to do it again.

“Sure,” he said, cheerfully (at least, I assume so. It’s hard to tell tone in a Facebook message). So, I sent him another beginning I had. He liked this one, too, and we did the Ping-Pong thing with the words.
Somehow, though, this one got away from us. The story just kept going. Before we know what was happening, we had written a novel.

How cool is that?

So, from a chance meeting of two writers who liked each other’s work came the first of what will likely prove to be a series of books (we’re already 9,000 words into the sequel and have written a 4,000-word origin story of one of the characters).

Kerry and I have become pretty good friends through this process, which is great. The weird thing, though is that I’ve only ever met him once, at ConText in Columbus, Ohio.

I’ll tell you one thing, however: if we manage to sell this novel, we’ll be seeing a lot more of each other. In the meantime, we’ll keep writing, making each other laugh, leaving our characters in the lurch for the other one to deal with and having a hell of a good time doing it.

We’ll keep our long-distance bromance going as long as it keeps working. Though, to tell you the truth, I have been thinking about seeing other writers…

Posted in Fiction, Great Lakes Association of Horror Writers | 1 Comment

Daily Nightmare Interviewed by Little Red Reviewer

We were delighted to meet the Little Red Reviewer at Context this past fall and excited to be interviewed recently by her. You can read all the details on her blog here. We both had a great time answering her questions.

For an impressive 10 years, the Little Red Reviewer has blogged about books, authors, and reading. Her record as reviewer shows serious commitment. If you are looking for reading recommendations, check out her site!

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TREMENDOUS e-book deal — Subterranean Press Humble Bundle

Humbe Bundle Sub PressSubterranean Press publishes gorgeous editions of speculative fiction, and they’re based right here in the Midwest which makes them a special delight to the Midwest Horror Snobs here at the DailyNightmare. To celebrate 20 years of publishing, Subterranean Press is teaming up with the Humble Bundle and WorldBuilders with a great promotion. Hurry over to Humble Books to pickup some choice ebooks at very reasonable prices. BUT HURRY because the offer is only good until March 3rd.

Humble Bundle is a nifty operation which offers bundles of books, games and comics, and splits the proceeds with a charity. For the Subterranean Press promotion, pay WHATEVER you want and you get seven ebooks, DRM-free — (including The Ape’s Wife and other Stories, a collection of dark weird fiction by Caitlin Kiernan who is one the Doktor’s favorite authors.) Pay more than the average price (currently about $13 bucks) to unlock a FULL DOZEN more titles (including Clive Barker‘s Tortured Souls and The Agonizing Resurrection of Victor Frankenstein by Thomas Ligotti) or pay more than $15 to unlock the whole kit and kaboodle.

One slick feature of the Humble Bundle is a set of sliders that allow you the purchaser to decide how much of your contribution goes to Subterranean Press or a charity, in this case WorldBuilders. All, none, little, some, you get to decide. Worldbuilders deserves a plug all on its own. Formed as a registered charity by fantasy writer Patrick Rothfuss (The Name of the Wind, The Wise Man’s Fear) Worldbuilders rewards folks who donate to Heifer International. Heifer International is non-profit charity that seems to me is based on the traditional wisdom, “Give someone a fish, feed for a day; teach someone to fish, feed for a lifetime.” Heifer International gives folks the means to change the conditions of poverty and hunger. But if it’s not your jam, you can choose to divert your payments to Subterranean Press or Humble Bundle itself.

At least check out the deal before it closes on March 3rd. And if ebooks aren’t your thing, check out Subterranean Press for gorgeous hardbound editions of speculative fictions.

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Til Death Do Us Part– Films from Three Corpse Circus

Til Death at Corner

If you are among those who need a good mouthful of horror to get rid of the saccharine-sweet taste of Valentine’s Day, you’ll want to attend the Three Corpse Circus‘ upcoming evening of short horror films at the Corner Brewery in Ypsilanti, MI. “Til Death do us part” will bring together a collection of films about love and relationships, but don’t expect all flowers and hearts– at least, not beating hearts. The show runs from 8 – 11pm on Tuesday, February 10, promising an evening of horror, love and beer.

The promo poster features a still from “Dead Hearts” which played at the Three Corpse Circus in October 2014, a movie that incidentally stole my heart. The ending of the film filled my nose with sniffles and eyes with tears– and who would have expected that from a film that included a first kiss in a mortuary, a blind karate expert, and Little Red Riding Hood taking on a werewolf gang? I cannot wait to watch it again.

Also on the docket is “‘Til Death“, a short black comedy from Hands Off Productions, the team behind the fantastic short film “I Owe You,” which won the 2014 Impy Award.

It’s always delightful to see what the Three Corpses provide for an event– and this theme and time of year is rife with possibilities. I’m looking forward to having my heart broken, played with, torn up, and stabbed. It’s Valentine’s Day; who’d want anything less from the movies?

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“I Owe You” – Impy Award Handoff

We got a SURPISE in Columbus…

The Impy chills in the Torpedo Room, Columbus

The Impy chills in the Torpedo Room, Columbus

When Elsa and I traveled to Columbus to award Jason Tostevin this year’s Impy, we weren’t prepared for our reception. The Impy recognizes cinematic achievement in short horror films produced in Midwest, but the rules somewhat jokingly note “with the possible exception of Ohio.” The genuine Buckeye hospitality we were shown made us seriously consider revising that proviso. Honestly. What could (nearly) prompt a change of heart in this second-generation Wolverine? In addition to his artistic skill, Jason Tostevin, producer of “I Owe You” and mastermind of “Hands Off Productions,” also throws a great party.

We convened at the Gateway Film Center, an impressive cinema destination in the heart of Columbus, adjacent to the Ohio State University campus. For this celebration, Tostevin gathered some of the principal talent involved in making “I Owe You” such a dark gem.

Trista Caruso who played “Diane” in “I Owe You” has also appeared in several “Hand Off Productions” including the medical horror short “Room 4C (2011)” and the heart-warming fantasy “Stones, (2010)” both of which were done as part of Columbus 48-hour film festival. (View her other IMDB credits here.)

Elsa happily reports that actor Brian Spangler (who played “Cam”) is as handsome in real life as he is on-screen. She was also not surprised that he fronts a band (Barefoot Swagger.) Brian has also appeared in several previous Hands Off productions, including twisted romantic horror tale “Til Death (2013)” and “Help Wanted” which was produced for the 2013 Columbus 48-hour Film Festival.
(View Brian’s other IMDB credits here.)

I was particularly pleased to meet Randall Greenland whose script provided a tight narrative cohesion. Many short films have a keen visual style and some even feature great acting but Randall’s economical and expressive script pushed “I Owe You” to the winner’s circle. Randall is also a long-time member of the team and has provided many scripts for Hands Off Productions. (View his IMDB credits here.)

Tostevin has assembled a team of folks who enjoy each other’s company and that sense of easy collaboration comes through in their films.

Randall Greenland, Jason Tostevin (with Impy), Brian Spangler and Trista Caruso

Randall Greenland, Jason Tostevin (with Impy), Brian Spangler and Trista Caruso

Jason has also found creative ways to work with other independent filmmakers. While taking his films to festivals, Tostevin encountered many remarkable short films that he knew wouldn’t get screened widely due to their brief running times. Tostevin worked with other award-winning directors to collect seven admirable films in “Seven Hells (2014)” a feature length anthology that premiered at the Gateway Film Center in the fall of 2014. Check out a teaser for Seven Hells here. Included in this collection is his own piece “‘Til Death,” a comedy-horror short about the unintended morning-after consequences that four guys discover after killing their partners. “Til Death” has won over 100 awards in various festivals, making it perhaps the most winning-est short in Ohio film history. Check out the “Til Death” listing at IMDB here. “Seven Hells” was such a success that Tostevin plans another anthology film, this one collecting various romantic-horror films suited particularly well for Valentine’s Day. I like a guy who finds ways to spread horror all around the calendar.

The Torpedo Room, inside the Gateway Film Center, Columbus, Ohio

The Torpedo Room, inside the Gateway Film Center, Columbus, Ohio

Jason chose the perfect location for this award celebration, namely The Torpedo Room, a steampunk-Jules Verne themed restaurant located inside the Gateway Film Center. I immediately fell for the decor of brass portholes, woodcut sea monsters, leaded glass and a view screen that looped classic Verne inspired movies. The Torpedo Room is a fully licensed restaurant featuring fun food and drink. I had a brussel sprout pizza and a blood orange wheat beer. The Torpedo Room’s concept is the design of Columbus restaurant legend Elizabeth Lessner whose other clever eateries include Dirty Franks Hot Dog Palace and the Surly Girl Saloon all heavily themed, fun eateries. (Elsa and I added them all to our growing list of Cool Things to Do Next Time in Columbus. Before meeting Jason, I couldn’t have imagined such a list was possible.) One clever way The Torpedo Room partners with the Gateway is in creating special drinks to tie into the current running shows. Elsa and I are always scoping out what we call “Weird Date Nights,” and having the Torpedo Room inside the Gateway makes the traditional dinner and a movie easy and enjoyable.

Jason also arranged a personal tour of the Gateway Film Center. This modern day movie palace features both state of the art digital projection as well as not one but two theaters capable of showing 35mm prints. (Yes, there’s a difference.) While traversing the hidden innards of the building, I asked if the Gateway, like most theatres, was haunted and I learned of “Barry” (named after “Barry Lyndon,” of course) a good-natured spectre who occasionally unplugs devices and moves small objects. The Gateway makes great use of this facility to celebrate film, from independent features to classic gems to contemporary blockbusters. A couple of their on-going programs might particularly appeal to readers of DailyNightmare. The “Nightmares from the Crypt” film series screens lesser seen horror films worthy of a second look while their “Nightmares on High Street” series shows the best independent contemporary horror. I was particularly interested in their monthly “Show us your Shorts” event which is like an open-mike night for film. The first ten participants get to share their short film with the audience who votes for their favorite. Winner takes home the ticket sales for the night. What a great way to inspire filmmakers and foster a sense of camaraderie. The Gateway Film Center seems committed to making film a fun communal event.

Elsa and I chatted, munched and filled our list of cool Columbus must-hit locations, but we had one last question for our gracious host. We at the DailyNightmare believe horror is best seen against a backdrop of hope. What gives Jason Tostevin hope in this world?

My personal relationships make me hopeful. Some of the best, most supportive (and challenging, in the best way) people I’ve met have been on the film festival circuit; we’ve become an international network of indie filmmakers who promote and support and look out for one another. That’s pretty special and makes me optimistic.

In life, my wife and kids make me hopeful. Seeing my girls grow up in a world where there are real social issues being talked about and acted on — where most people agree that my daughters, when they’re grown, should be paid the same as men, that they don’t need to marry (but they can, including if they’re gay), that they should be free from men’s sexual expectations, that bullying is bad — has me optimistic that they’ll live in a world with better men and women than their parents did. And that’s kind of why we do it, right — tell stories and create a new generation. So the world gets better?

On this note, Elsa and I bid adieu to Jason Tostevin and the wonders of Columbus, assured in the fact that this year’s Impy had found a worthy home.

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Krampus Ball Ypsi 2014

A shot early in the evening when the dance floor wasn't packed

A shot early in the evening when the dance floor wasn’t packed

Let purists quibble that 2014 Krampus Ball Ypsi, held last night at the DreamLand Theatre, happened too long after the Feast of St. Nicholaus (December 6th) when the Krampus traditionally run free. There is NO better way to prepare for the shortest day of the year, than to dance the night away at a debauched masquerade. This was the first Krampus Ball that Elsa and I attended, and we were delighted top to bottom, start to finish.

I wish I could say that my dance floor photos were intentionally blurred to protect the naughty from Santa’s wrath, but truth is I couldn’t keep from shaking my ass long enough to take a good shot.


As befits the Krampus tradition, dancers took turns getting spanked. Here, a marionette Krampus scourged one of the naughty, which blended a deliciously perverse Punch and Judy element into the already twisted tradition. Throughout the night, the Dreamland Theater’s cast of marionettes performed. Make no mistake: puppets party hard.


But the highlight of any masquerade is the costumes. I’d worked on my costume all week (as I blogged about here) and Elsa dolled herself up good with her corset and Theatre Bizarre fez.


I was extremely glad to see others had indulged their creativity.


The costume contest allowed contestants to shimmy and shake during the judging phase. But in the end, the golden baton went, appropriately enough to a Krampus — complete with basket of bad children.


At midnight, the festivities reconvened outside led by a locally familiar torch-bearer.


A brass band performed as we paraded to a mystery location, behind a traveling screen of shadow puppets. These monstrous outlines of light and shade seemed particularly appropriate for such near Solstice revels.


On and on, into the night, into the wilds, we danced.


We arrived at a secondary party location complete with fire barrels, more shadow puppets, and brass band music.


The party was still going STRONG when Elsa and I strayed back to reality, sure of only one thing: We’ll definitely be back for Krampus Ball 2015.


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