The Montauk Monster Coming To A Museum Near You!

I know I’ve said in earlier posts that my book, THE MONTAUK MONSTER, is on display at the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine. This is the museum created and curated by Loren Coleman. I haven’t been able to get there since it was put in the display, but thanks to Asher Ellis, I now have photographic proof! Kind of like what we have of the creature itself. Thank you so much Asher for taking the pictures and sharing. I’ll be at the museum this summer and maybe again in the fall with copies of my next cryptid book, THE DOVER DEMON, in hand. Now I can retire early and happy.

MM display

And a closer shot…

Montauk Monster Crypto Museum

The Importance Of Taking A Writing Break

This blog post is the first thing I’ve actually written, aside from emails, in a week. I’m in the middle of a two week break. And despite having deadlines to meet this year, both hard and soft, I don’t feel an ounce of guilt. In fact, I’m sitting on the patio of my windy side yard on a sunny day, listening to three hawks terrorize every bird on the block. If it were just a tad warmer, I would probably be at the beach with my girls, getting sun, listening to the waves and reading a battered paperback. Oh, and waiting for the guy to come by selling coconut ice.

Lately, I’ve been listening to podcasts and reading posts by other writers who seem to never stop. Once they finish one manuscript, they set it aside and dive right into the next, maybe taking the time to drink a Coke before moving on.

Not me. I need time off. As much as writing has been both my life’s dream and a way to get away from my daily problems, I have to give my brain a rest every now and then. The break I’m on right now is already paying dividends. As I wait for my first readers to deliver their feedback on the book I gave them last week, I’ve done a lot of reading. (I’m going through some of Stephen King’s suggested reading list from his book, On Writing.  Just this morning I finished Anne Tyler’s A Patchwork Planet –  a book I would have never read if I hadn’t plucked it from his list. Thanks SK!). I’ve spent more time with my family – three of the four of us dealing with health issues. Netflix has gotten a workout. My wife and I anxiously awaited the latest B movie presented by Svengoolie on Saturday night and werent’ disappointed. I love creature features, even the awful ones. I’ve caught up on correspondence and even worked with my graphics main man to create some cool stuff like banners, bookmarks and my newsletter logo.

I decided two days ago to completely revamp a short story I wrote, expanding on it and publishing it on October 1st, just in time for Halloween. I’m also doing some research on the next book I start writing over the summer, as well as one I plan to write in the fall. While all this is going on, my subconscious is gearing up for the last round of edits on my next cryptid book. So even if it looks like I’m dozing in my chair, there’s actual work going on, I promise.

With time away from my laptop comes insights I would have missed if I hadn’t taken the time to just walk away for a spell. The last thing I want is for writing to feel like a job. I already have one of them. I don’t want two.

Learning meditation years ago has helped me immeasurably. When you calm your mind, the thoughts that have been bouncing around become much clearer. Even if I don’t meditate, I’ve learned the value of silence.

So if you’re feeling stuck or tired or in need of fresh ideas, just stop, kick back and relax. It’s not a bad thing. In fact, it can only make your writing stronger. Brains, like batteries, need recharging every now and then. And boy, mine was running awfully low.

Now, I’m off to take my daughters out driving, armed with their permits and my father’s spirit urging me to stay calm, just as he did when he taught me.

Interview With a Vampire – Sort Of

As part of the Monster Men podcast, I’ve gotten to interview great writers and super interesting peeps over the past 4 years. This time around, I think Jack and I have topped ourselves. We interview Daniel Rumanos – illusionist, paranormal investigator and debunker, member of the Dracula Society, writer for Honeysuckle Magazine and a man cloaked in as much mystery as he is controversy. As I said in the interview, he probably has the coolest business card of anyone we’ve ever met.

So strap yourselves in as we delve into the world of magic, ghosts and vampires….

80’s Monster Flix – The Golden Decade

One of the best parts of doing this blog the past 5 years has been the people I’ve met (both online and in person) who share the same passion for all things horror and monsters and insane. Today I present a great article by a returning guest to the blog and chain, Spencer Blohm, this time to talk about his 5 fave monster movies from the 80s. I saw them all in the theater when they came out and ended up buying them on VHS a few years later. Wish I had a damn VCR to watch them now!


The eighties. What a crazy time period, in the most general terms. In terms of horror? There was no other decade like it. Filmmakers took elements of classic Universal monster films and threw them into a centrifuge with the raunch and gore of H.G. Lewis style exploitation.

Here’s a look at some notable titles.

  1. Deadly Friend

Although best known for A Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream, Wes Craven is the man behind some of the strangest horror films ever made. One that gets overlooked is Deadly Friend, which stars Kristy Swanson (who you may recognize from the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer). Swanson plays a young woman who dies and is resurrected by her nerdy neighbor, who is also an amature roboticist. But wouldn’t you know it, she glitches out from time to time, and has these sporadic impulses to kill.  Still not sold? The movie can be summarized by the following  three words: “decapitation by basketball.”

  1. The Beast Within

Loosely based on Edward Levy’s eponymous novel, this film takes many of the conventions of lycanthrope films and places the story in a small southern town. A young woman is impregnated by a giant cicada monster. The woman bears a child named Michael, who appears to be normal until his 17th birthday, when he begins to slowly transform into a cicada beast himself. The film’s high point (or nadir, depending on who you talk to) is the film’s outrageous transformation sequence. Seeing is believing. The script was written by Tom Holland, who would go on to script and direct Child’s Play.

220px-BeastWithinPoster

  1. Killer Klowns From Outer Space

You could say that the story is a tad thin, but that confuses the point. This is what happens when special effects artists decide to direct films — the emphasis is placed entirely on visual trickery. The Chiodo Brothers directed this self-aware horror comedy, wherein a gang of killer clowns descend upon a small American town. What the film lacks in nuanced dialogue or character development, it makes up for with highly imaginative sequences (including the scene where we see the interior of their spaceship…the clowns hibernate in pods of cotton candy). There was also the memorable theme song provided by California punk band The Dickies.

  1. C.H.U.D.

There is a legion of “Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers” living beneath the city streets of New York. Legions of subterranean homeless people have come into contact with chemical waste, thus rendering them a bunch C.H.U.D.s. THe most memorable aspect of the film are the rather poorly constructed, fanged puppet heads. The film has been showcased pretty frequently on Robert Rodriguez’s El Rey Network (details about where you can watch it here) and stop by your local swap meet to find 70+ copies of the film on VHS.

  1. Pumpkinhead

You may know Stan Winston as the special effects wizard behind blockbusters such as Terminator and Jurassic Park. This was one of Winston’s only outings as director.The film centers around a grieving father in Appalachia whose son is killed in a vehicular accident by a group of reckless teenagers. The father goes to summon “Pumpkinhead,” a demon who lives in under a pumpkin patch. Not the smartest script in the world, but the effects are second to none. It’s the epitome of bad, special effects heavy, eighties horror films.

pumpkinhead-poster

Cover Reveal for THE DOVER DEMON

Yes, I’m diving back into the cryptid pool this September, this time training my sights on The Dover Demon, a bizarre creature spotted in a small Massachusetts town in the late 70s. The cover art was done by Kelly Martin and she knocked it out of the park. Pretty damn creepy.

Dover Demon Large Cover

I’d heard a little bit about this alien-looking creature, but didn’t get a true education on the legend until I met Loren Coleman on a trip to his International Cryptozoology Museum. In fact, the book is dedicated to Loren, who urged me to make the demon the star of my next show. And let me tell you right here, there’s more to this story, both the true accounts and my twisted take on them, than what you may think looking at the cover. This little cryptid defies classification. Gray aliens can kiss this beastie’s ass.

So, what’s it all about Alfie?

The Dover Demon is real…and it has returned.

In 1977, Sam Brogna and his friends came upon a terrifying, alien creature on a deserted country road. What they witnessed was so bizarre, so chilling, they swore their silence, their lives forever changed. Decades later, the town of Dover is hit by a massive blizzard. Sam’s son, Nicky, is drawn to search for the infamous cryptid, only to disappear into the bowels of a secret underground lair. The Dover Demon is more than they could have believed, and deadly. These creatures are not alone, and their desires cannot be stopped. Can Sam and his reunited friends battle a race of creatures so powerful, so sinister, that human history has been shaped by their secretive presence?

I know we have a whole summer between now and its release, but I had to share this cover. And if you’re in the Portland, Maine area on vacation, stop by the Cryptozoology Museum to check out the Dover Demon display. I promise, there will be no probing.

You’re A Witch Girl – Catherine Cavendish’s The PENDLE CURSE

I have to admit, my fascination with witches has extended to Witchy-Poo from Bugs Bunny, Hocus Pocus and the TV show, Charmed, mostly because it had Alyssa Milano.

When it came to witches in horror fiction, I hadn’t even dipped my toes in the water until I read Brian Moreland’s THE WITCHING HOUSE, which was so good, I knew in an instant I was hooked on a sub genre. It came just in time, because I was getting pretty damn bored with vampires and zombies.

So imagine my delight when I found out that fellow Samhainer, Catherine Cavendish, came out with her own witch’s brew of horror, THE PENDLE CURSE. It only took two pages for me to realize I was in the capable hands of someone who is at the top of their game, and with that, I settled in for one of the best novels of this very young year.

pendleHere’s the scoop on the story –

Four hundred years ago, ten convicted witches were hanged on Gallows Hill. Now they are back…for vengeance.

Laura Phillips’s grief at her husband’s sudden death shows no sign of passing. Even sleep brings her no peace. She experiences vivid, disturbing dreams of a dark, brooding hill, and a man—somehow out of time—who seems to know her. She discovers that the place she has dreamed about exists. Pendle Hill. And she knows she must go there.

But as soon as she arrives, the dream becomes a nightmare. She is caught up in a web of witchcraft and evil…and a curse that will not die.  

As someone who has a chronically ill wife, my biggest fear is losing her. So right away, I’m completely sympathetic to Laura, a woman trying to cope with the loss of her husband. There’s a little touch of a ghost story here, too, just enough to make you wonder what’s coming next and to feel her pain and curiosity about the strange things happening in her home.

Cavendish expertly takes us on a ride between past and present as Laura is cast under the spell of the Pendle Curse. A simple trip to get away from things and heal turns into an absolute nightmare. She does a fantastic job creating what could have been cookie cutter characters into fully fleshed out human beings with strengths and faults that make you love them one minute and hate them the next. I literally had no idea what was going to happen, and for someone who knows how the sausage is made, this is high praise indeed.

Now, the witches in The Pendle Curse aren’t sporting warts or riding around on brooms, but they are terrifying in their own right. And there’s a little something extra within these pages for fans of classic VC Andrews yarns. I’m not giving away any spoilers, because you have to get the book and read it yourself.

Catherine Cavendish is now on my top 10 list. I give it 5 out of 5 brooms!

The Bear Who Wouldn’t Leave – Terror In Teddy Bear Town!

I’ve never been a big fan of Women In Horror Month, and for a very good reason. If you love horror, every month should and can be filled with great books by great writers who just happen to be women. True, horror is a male dominated genre, but you don’t have to look hard or far to find plenty of tales penned by the fairer sex that are just as good if not better than what the male chimps dream up. Just off the top of my head, I’m thinking of some of today’s best in the genre like Mary Sangiovanni, Kelli Owen, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Sephera Giron, Melanie Tem, Catherine Cavendish (who I’ll post about next week), and Kathe Koja. That’s literally the work of about 5 seconds.

Well, you can add one more to the list – J.H. Moncrieff. I was lucky enough to get an advanced copy of her debut horror novella, THE BEAR WHO WOULDN’T LEAVE, part of Samhain horror’s Childhood Fears series. I was never a teddy bear kid. I did have a three foot tall Bugs Bunny that I literally dragged around everywhere until every stitch came undone. Bugs wasn’t scary at all, even though I watched him daily shoot people with cannons and guns and drop them off cliffs.

The Bear Who Wouldn’t Leave is about a disturbing teddy bear named Edgar (right there, you know this plushie just ain’t right) given to young Josh by his bastard of a step-father. When I first saw the title, I thought of the John Belushi SNL skit, The Thing That Wouldn’t Leave, about a piggish house guest that way overstays his welcome. That skit was as funny as Moncrieff’s tale is chilling.

the-bear-who-wouldnt-leaveHere’s a quick synopsis of this tiny tale of terror :

Sometimes evil looks like a fuzzy teddy bear.

Still grieving the untimely death of his dad, ten-year-old Josh Leary is reluctant to accept a well-worn stuffed teddy bear from his new stepfather. He soon learns he was right to be wary. Edgar is no ordinary toy…and he doesn’t like being rejected. When Josh banishes him to the closet, terrible things begin to happen.

Desperate to be rid of the bear, Josh engages the help of a friend. As the boys’ efforts rebound on them with horrifying results, Josh is forced to accept the truth—Edgar will always get even. 

I have to tell you, I had a total blast reading this book. At times brutal, especially with the portrayal of a child terrified and abused by his step-father, and his mother’s inability to stop it, once I started reading, I couldn’t stop. Edgar is one freaky teddy bear. I mean, just look at the cover above. You sure as hell don’t want that glaring at you all night. What makes things even worse for Josh is the sense of isolation. Sure, he has a friend that helps him out, but what he needs is an adult to swoop in and save him from this nightmare. It’s that sense of desperation, paired with a killer bear that recalls the glory days of Child’s Play, that makes this a hell of a read.

J.H. Moncrieff has arrived! And I’m so glad she’s part of the Samhain family.

There’s even a trailer for the book if I haven’t convinced you to pick up a copy. Watch it and keep your eyes on that giant bear your man gave you for Valentine’s Day. It just may be out to kill you!

Ring Around THE DEVIL TREE!

File this one under “How didn’t I think of this first?” Keith Rommel’s latest book. THE DEVIL TREE, is a story so strange and compelling, I can’t believe it flew under my radar! Thankfully, the true story has gotten the full horror treatment by a master at the top of his game.

I mean, Jeez, the name alone is worth the price of admission (or Ebook/print). The fact that the actual tree still stands in Port St. Lucie, Florida, the scars of its sordid history visible on its bark, makes this tale all the more chilling.

Over the past couple of years, Keith Rommel has become a true friend – a friend I’m envious of because he can walk to Mets spring training games. Yes, I can drive 20 minutes to CitiField to see them during the regular season and playoffs (fingers crossed), but spring training is something special. Kinda like Keith, and just like The Devil Tree.

Devil Tree 1So, what is this Devil Tree all about?

Based on the Port St. Lucie Legend …

Back in the 1970s, a series of bizarre incidents occurred at what has since been known as “The Devil Tree.” Beneath this ancient denizen, evil was wrought by a sick serial killer, calling upon forces most evil and dark. People were hung there … and bodies buried there … exhumed by the police. Overcome by superstition, some tried to cut down the tree, to no avail. Since then, it has stood in a remote section of a local park — left to its own devices — quiet in its eerie repose — until now!

Best-selling psychological-thriller author Keith Rommel has imagined the whole tale anew. He’s brought the tree to life and retold the tale with gory detail only possible in a fiction novel. Action-packed, with spine-tingling detail, this thriller is beyond parallel in the ground it uncovers … one author’s explanation of what may have really been said — what may have really happened — under Port St. Lucie’s “Devil Tree.”

Now, I’ve talked to Keith about the writing of this book. Basically, it was like a fever that came over him, and the only prescription was….not more cowbell…but to write until his fingers bled. In just a few weeks, he wove a fictional story around the tapestry of truth, plucking the most sinister aspects of what happened at the Devil Tree and amping up the scares. This is his most visceral book to date, a departure from his previous work, and he nails it.He even includes pictures taken of the tree in its current state. To me, the scariest stories are always the one that contain a kernel of truth. This one has enough kernels to send tiny demons dancing up your spine.

What happens at The Devil Tree is not for the faint of heart. Read the book, then visit the old, twisted tree if you can find it. Just don’t try to bring harm to the tree, and cleanse yourself in holy water when you’re done.

Visit Keith Rommel’s website to learn more and order your copy today!

The Aliens Are Here! Interview with BOOM TOWN Author Glenn Rolfe1

It’s time to put on your tin foil hats and settle down in the bunker. Today, for your listening and viewing pleasure, the Monster Men interview Samhain author Glenn Rolfe to talk about his latest release, Boom Town. Glenn is a horror author in Maine (I think there’s some other guy up there who does stuff like that) and a real up-and-comer. Now first, check out the interview :

Here’s what Boom Town is about :

Terror from below!

In the summer of 1979, Eckert, Wisconsin, was the sight of the most unique UFO encounter in history. A young couple observed a saucer-like aircraft hovering over Hollers Hill. A blue beam blasted down from the center of the craft into the hill and caused the ground to rumble for miles.

Now, thirty years later, Eckert is experiencing nightly rumbles that stir up wild rumors and garner outside attention. The earthly tremors are being blamed on everything from earthquakes to underground earth dwellers. Two pre-teens discover a pipe out behind Packard’s Flea Market uprooted by the “booms” and come into contact with the powerful ooze bubbling from within. What begins as curiosity will end in an afternoon of unbridled terror for the entire town.

Now, this is why I love my job. I got an advanced copy of Boom Town from Glenn. I’m not sure if he was fully aware of my alien invasion obsession. So little did he know, I was already hooked by the premise, big time. Boom Town is set in a small, out of the way town, so you immediately get that sense of isolation, which always amps up the creep factor. Most of the main characters are kids in their teens, so folks who grew up loving It can rejoice.

boom town 1

Glenn wastes no time diving right in. I will say that this isn’t your typical alien invasion tale. There are no grays or reptilians skulking around, probing anuses and trying to gain world domination. Think of this more as The Blob on steroids. Snappy prose and non-stop action make this a real fun read. Take me to your leader, if that leader is Glenn Rolfe!

Scares That Care Weekend – My One Con Appearance For 2015

I know it’s still months away, but I wanted to let you all know that I’ll be at the SCARES THAT CARE WEEKEND  in Williamsburg, VA July 24-26th. This is the second annual con and if it’s anything like the first, it’s going to be a hell of a lot of fun.

scaresthatcareweekend-logo

Those who attend get first crack at my summer release, TORTURES OF THE DAMNED, a few days before it hits stores nationwide. Of course, I’ll have all my books on hand. There will be author readings (and the high strangeness that I do for mine), panel discussions and more. I’ll also be joined by fellow Samhainers Jonathan Janz and I hear Kristopher Rufty and Ron Malfi. Oh, and there’s also this little known writer called Brian Keene that will be there as well. I hear he’s written some cool zombie books.

Check out this pic of me on the website that makes me look like one tired, long-faced bastard.

Hunter-SheaI promise, I’m waaaay more alive than that in person. Get your tickets and make your reservations and head on down. I had an amazing time last year. Odds are, if you stop by my table, we’ll be sharing some brews.

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