Guest Post: Dan Padavona

Dark Vanishings series

If I had a dollar for every time someone told me, “I liked the book, but the movie was scarier,” I’d be a rich man.

Let me be clear about one thing. It is hard to frighten someone with the written word alone. I don’t care if your name is Ketchum, King, or Laymon. Scaring people with mere words is incredibly difficult and is only fleetingly accomplished, even by the most gifted horror writers.

The truth is that horror movies hold significant advantages over novels when it comes to delivering scares. While films, due to their brevity, cannot compete with books for character and plot depth, films take advantage of musical score, strong acting performances, camera angles, and innovative direction. And although cliche’, the horror movie can also deliver “jump scares,” momentary shock scenes – for example, the killer leaping out of the closet, or the false jump scare, where the hissing cat suddenly bounds across the set – which are almost impossible to replicate in printed form.

Yet authors have managed to frighten readers since the advent of horror fiction, and for my money, Salem’s Lot by Stephen King and Intensity by Dean Koontz are the most heart-pounding examples. But how should a writer attempt to frighten a reader?

The Slow Burn

The trend in fiction and film is to deliver action immediately, and while I don’t disagree with this methodology, I believe it is less than optimal when it comes to horror.

My horror fiction employs a slow burn, a creeping dread if you will, similar to the gradual builds of 1970’s horror films (think Black Christmas and The Exorcist). Similar pacing dates as far back as horror has existed as an art form, yet it was perfected by Alfred Hitchcock and leveraged by the classic horror films of the 1970s.

Everything begins with characterization. A book should contain characters which the reader can get behind and put emotional stock into, whether the characters are villains or heroes. The reader should believe in and care about the character. Then, when the character is put into jeopardy, the reader’s natural reaction is to become stressed. This alone isn’t enough to frighten the reader, but it’s a necessary beginning.

Read a Clive Barker or Stephen King novel, and pay particular attention to the author’s pacing during a frightening scene. In most cases, a slow burn is utilized. Nothing is rushed, and the scene is allowed to unfold gradually. When done to perfection, the horror broods and broods until the reader realizes she has been trapped and is without an escape route.

Let’s take the classic example of the monster or boogeyman hiding in the closet.

If I come right out and show you the boogeyman, I’m not likely to frighten you. Inside of a movie, I could use a cheap jump scare to get you to drop your popcorn, but in fiction I have no such advantage. In order for me to frighten you, the scene must unfold with near perfection.

For one thing, you’ll need to feel a sense of place. If the boogeyman is hiding in the closet, I haven’t done my job until I walk you from the kitchen to the bedroom and sit you upon the bed with cookie in hand. You need to feel the cookie crumbs on the bed sheets. You need to see the room – the lamplight pooling around the base of the nightstand and dying in the middle of the room, the Black Sabbath poster scotch-taped to the paint-chipped wall, the way the bed sheets and blankets covering your chest and legs won’t stretch past your neck.

And even then you won’t believe the boogeyman exists. But if I place you in that desolate room and make you hear the muffled rumble of the television through the floor, so that no matter how loud you scream, your parents won’t hear you, then I’m at least halfway home. Because once your closet door starts to creak open, and once those shadows start to spill into the bedroom like a black ocean, I need you to be that kid in the bed.

And then if I do everything right, and if I catch you in a receptive mood, I might just chill you to the bone with the written word.

Don’t Let Them Run Away

Think about how expert directors like Hitchcock paced their scenes, allowing the disquiet to simmer before the monster was unleashed. The shower scene of Psycho didn’t open with Norman Bates holding the knife. We followed Janet Leigh through the dingy motel room, watched her peel her clothes off and step into the shower, and saw from her perspective the spray cascading down. Think about how you would write this scene, if you were constructing a Psycho novelization.

Two more excellent examples are the directions of Fred Walton’s When A Stranger Calls and When A Stranger Calls Back. The pacing of the brooding horror is tortuous. You cannot help but squirm as the babysitters are unknowingly stalked by madmen. In a bad slasher movie, the opening scene to When A Stranger Calls would last a few minutes. In Fred Walton’s direction, it lasts over twenty excruciating minutes in which the viewer is trapped inside the creepy house.

The best horror authors never allow their readers to run away before the monster gets them. They lure the readers in, then they lock the doors.

As authors of horror novels, it is important we slow down and allow our readers to immerse themselves in a scene. Slower is better. Go for a gradual build, and never rush the process. Writing for horror is incredibly challenging, and it is imperative we give ourselves every advantage.

Take your time with the scene. Then scare Jessica to death.

About the Author

Dan Padavona is a horror and dark fantasy author. Dan’s gothic vampire novel, Storberry, reached the top-10 among Amazon horror novels, and his post-apocalyptic series, Dark Vanishings, has been compared to Robert McCammon’s Swan Song and Stephen King’s The Stand. You can visit Dan at his website,

Guest Post: Stephen Zimmer


The Soundtrack of Hellscapes, Volume II

by Stephen Zimmer



I would like to thank Armand Rosamilia for the opportunity to create a soundtrack for the six tales in Hellscapes, Volume II.  It wasn’t easy coming up with a specific list, as there are lots and lots of songs and bands that come to mind when thinking of these tales, but I have made some choices that fit very well with the individual stories.


I have broken up the synopsis, so I can give a sense of what each story is about before giving my song pick.


Hope everyone enjoys the list!  Definitely on the heavy side of things!



In “The Cavern”, a man finds his way into a nightmare, subterranean world that leads to an even greater, and more devastating, revelation.


For this one, I choose the song “Hell Awaits” by Slayer, off the album by the same name. This has all of the atmosphere that I feel in the story as well, with finality and a grand scale to things.


Lyrics such as the following fit very nicely with the roaming element contained in this particular story.



“The Reaper guard’s the darkened Gates

That Satan calls his home

Demons feed the furnace where

The Dead are free to roam”


I almost chose “South of Heaven” or “Seasons in the Abyss”, but “Hell Awaits” captures the essence and the scale of this story so wonderfully.



A police officer takes pleasure in violently executing his duties and it appears to be open season in “The Riot” when he is part of an operation sent to crack down on a gathering of people protesting an economic summit nearby. But this is an operation that is going to take a very different kind of turn, one that opens his eyes to a new reality.


For this one, I pick Pantera’s “Five Minutes Alone” off of the Far Beyond Driven album.  I’m not anti-law enforcement at all, it is a noble and needed pursuit for those who do it for the right reasons, but for the ones who abuse their power and authority I think the Pantera song fits well, especially with what transpires in this story.


It is about meting out justice in a very visceral manner that the offender cannot escape from.  Not too different from Phil Anselmo’s vision of having five minutes alone with the offender in the Pantera song.  The main character in this tale definitely is a loathsome, brutal individual who comes to face his five minutes alone with the evil he created in life.


A woman finds herself stranded on a high, rocky ledge, along with many other men and women, surrounded by a frothing sea in “Above as Below”. Shadows glide beneath the surface and soon she will discover what lurks within the depths.


For this one, I select “Monsters of the Deep” by Devildriver, off of their album The Last Kind Words.  Heavy and brooding in feel, this one definitely fits the vibe of this story.  And there definitely are monsters in the deep too!


The following lyrics are simply perfect with what transpires in this particular story:


“Set your sights on rocky shores

You just might run aground on the reef

The journey’s in the destination

Mention fear, you’re falling on deaf ears”


You’ll have to read it to find out just how, though!


“Spots Do Not Change” tells the story of a man who has never had any qualms lying, cheating, or deceiving the women in his life. A reckoning day looms as he comes to understand that his actions have harmed the lives of many others, actions that in the realms of Hell take on forms of their own.


This one gets Five Finger Death Punch’s “Meet the Monster” off of their first release, The Way of the Fist.


One line in this song speaks volumes to the theme reflected in this tale.


“It’s time you met the monster that you have helped create.”


This is a story about accountability, and about the monsters that are created when you cause others pain and harm lives.  In this story, it takes a literal form, and the one condemned does indeed meet the monster and everything else his actions gave life to.


Having spun webs of intrigue and personal destruction at the heights of national politics throughout his life, a man finds webs of another sort to present grave danger when he finds himself lost within a strange wilderness in “Weaving Webs”.


For this one I pick a rarer Danzig song, “Soul Eater”, from the release The Lost Tracks of Danzig.


With the reference to pitchforks and presidents in the song, which in my mind conjures up thoughts of the masses alongside figures of power, the following lyrics apply nicely to the main character and the ultimate fate that he comes to discover.  He has spent a lifetime in manipulation and the halls of power, but now he runs into something inescapable…that has his soul.  It also holds the connotation of someone being manipulated by a greater power, or a weaver of webs being part of an even greater web being spun.  Perfect song fit.



“Bad seed in the base of your skull

I’m here to help it grow

You wanna Pitchfork and presidents

Well, I can make you choke”

Then you call me

Here I am

But you remain

Just remember that I got your soul”


Many are drawn to “The Club” in the heart of the decaying, shadow-filled city of Malizia, hoping for some entertainment and release, or even safety from the monstrous dangers lurking in the darkness. One man struggling against amnesia finds his way to the seemingly popular establishment and its confines give him momentary hope; until he discovers the nature of this night club and those who run it.


Danzig makes the list a second time, with “Lilin” off of the Danzig 666 Satan’s Child album. This one flows with a sense of dark, supernatural power of a female nature.  With the kind of guy that the main character is, and those he comes to meet in the story, this song is a great fit.

“And if you look down into her eyes, yeah
You’ll see the souls she has trapped inside.”

Book Synopsis for Hellscapes, Volume II: Return to the nightmarish, shadowy realms of Hell in the latest installment of the Hellscapes series by Stephen Zimmer. Six brand new, macabre tales of the infernal await you … but be that you only visit these realms, you do not want to share the fates of the inhabitants you will encounter!


About the author:   Stephen Zimmer is an award-winning author and filmmaker based in Lexington Kentucky.  His work includes the cross-genre Rising Dawn Saga, the epic fantasy Fires in Eden series, the sword and sorcery Dark Sun Sawn Trilogy, featuring Rayden Valkyrie, the Harvey and Solomon Steampunk tales and the Hellscapes and Chronicles of Ave short story collections.

Author Links:














MandoWriMo – Slight Change Of Plans

Just a quick update for ya…

The best laid plans of mice and men and all that…

I love planning out my month, because it usually changes halfway through… which is exactly what August did to me, but I roll with the punches and adapt and survive… and totally stress out. 

The changes:

1. The 30k movie adaptation ended up being PRIORITY #1 and also ended up being 38k and written exclusively for quite a few days, which is always odd for me. I like to work on 2-4 projects each day if possible, but this one needed to be released. And it was. Zulu Six: Origins is the expanded book version of the upcoming independent film (they tell me a later 2014/early 2015 release) and I’m quite happy with the way it turned out. Readers who remember my Miami Spy Games: Russian Zombie Gun novel will enjoy this. Coincidentally (or not), I wrote it for the same people. 

But adding an extra 8k to this forced me to drop some other stories I wanted to finish… keep reading, you’ll see it…

2. Children of The Grave short story is done. 10k and I liked where the story ultimately took me. I just need to clean it up and send it off to the publisher, Crystal Lake Publishing, for the editing round now. 

3. Change Jar Books Part 3-5… I finished Part 3 and sent it to my editor a week late due to other deadlines. It was supposed to be out last week, but I’m hoping I can get it released this week. I wrote only 1k on Part 4 so far, a victim of adding to the movie adaptation. I’m hoping to finish at least part 4 before next Sunday, when August ends.

4. Necromance 5 is done. 5k and I just got it back from my editor. Now it will go to Hazardous Press for their turn before releasing it in their Hazardous Encounters horror erotica short story series. I’m really beginning to have fun with the main character, a sexy demon hunter who loves Metal and guys and gals. 

5. Dying Days: Origins 2 was another victim this month, but it is my main focus this week to get as far ahead on it as I can. I only managed 5k, so I have almost 11k left to write to hit 25k, although the story looks like it will be longer. I also set up a pre-sale page on Amazon at 99 cents (when the book is released it will go to the normal $2.99, so get yours now). The cover should also be ready in a week or so, featuring David Monsour and his back-story.

How am I doing? 54k in 25 days so far… a bit ahead, but need to finish as many projects as I can, because I just signed another huge movie adaptation contract, which will begin on September 1st and run until October 30th… 100k in 60 days. Can I do it? Of course I can. But I’m hoping I can also find the time to write everything else I want to write in September. 

Regardless, this is going to be fun…


FanBoy Moment: Meeting Brian Keene at WHC

About eight years ago I was a completely newbie author with a couple of fantasy books out and maybe three horror short stories published to my credit (I have a lot more horror stories published now), and I went to Horrorfind Weekend convention in Baltimore, Maryland. I sat at a table in the dealer room and sold a few books and met a few people. It was fun. 

But I stayed in the dealer room for 99% of the weekend, convinced no one there would give me the time of day. And, unfortunately, I was kinda right. A couple of authors were friendly (Michael Laimo said hi to me) but I was just there. And it was my own fault, because I didn’t talk to anyone or make any effort. Believe it or not, I was shy and insecure among all these great authors. 

Cut to the bar area that night. 

Brian Keene was sitting there, and I knew who he was thanks to MySpace (remember MySpace?) and because his book The Rising had completely knocked me off of my feet. I kid you not. I owe the Dying Days zombie series to this man, because without his book I wouldn’t have attempted zombie fiction. I even wrote a piece about it conveniently titled “Why I Write About Zombies” (feel free to read it and then come back for the rest of this post… I’ll wait…)

Brian Keene - The Rising zombie

I walked up to the bar, as close to Brian as I could get without bumping into him, and casually turned and stared at him like a little schoolgirl. Brian Keene turned to me with a smile and said hi. 

I said blahbehchickablehblehugghhhh and felt my chest and throat tighten. Then I did what every cool person does when meeting an idol… I ran away like a little schoolgirl.

Cut to eight years later and across the country in Portland Oregon. 

The World Horror Convention, and while I’d come a long way but had much more to do and to rise, I felt I’d earned a place at least at the kid’s table. And I was fine with it. And when I heard Brian Keene was going to be the Grandmaster of the weekend, I was excited. And then nervous. 

I wanted to meet him. I needed to meet him. I posted on Facebook about my last and only encounter with him, and how this was going to be cosmic payback. I would stride up to him with a grin, pat him on the back and we’d hug it out like real men. Or something like that. 

Of course, on Thursday afternoon, as Special Gal and I had lunch in the hotel restaurant, Brian Keene walked into the lobby and I might have squealed a little. She thought it was quite amusing and ‘threatened’ to call him over, but I was not ready. I needed time to prepare. 

Cut to a few hours later. 

Special Gal and I were walking through the lobby, minding our own business, when I saw Brian Keene chatting with a few people. As I went to go past him he suddenly turned and noticed me. He smiled and said hi. He put his hand out and I turned my brain off and gripped his hand, shaking firmly. 

He said something but I have no idea what because I was too busy trying not to talk or say something incoherent. I nodded, smiled back, and walked away. Special Gal busted my chops the rest of the night but I was flying. 

The next time I saw Brian Keene was at a zombie panel, and as it wrapped up Special Gal turned to me and said in no uncertain terms we weren’t leaving the room without a picture of me and Brian together. 

I nodded dumbly. She asked him to take it and he smiled and took us into the hallway.

Then he put his arm around me and said “we need to do the Devil Horns, right?” 

He had either done his homework and knew who I was (and that I was a fellow Metalhead) or it was an excellent guess. Either way, I was damn proud as the picture was taken. But, wait… there’s more…

“Are you going to the Gross Out Contest tonight?” Brian asked me.

I had no intention of going but I said yes. Of course I was going to go! 

We made small talk for a few minutes and the guy was just genuine. He gave me a few minutes of his time and even said to find him at the bar that night so we could have a drink. 

I learned three things from this encounter… 

1. I am still such a FanBoy when it comes to him but at least I strung a few sentences together

2. THIS is the way you treat fellow authors, no matter how big or small they are. Brian Keene’s WHC posts aren’t just about what he did and accomplished but about pointing out all the new writers he met during the con, and praising the new batch of authors who are inspired by him

3. Special Gal is the greatest woman I have ever met and I am damn lucky to have her in my corner to help me fumble through the non-writing parts of this career. Friends lucky enough to have met her in Portland can attest to this

Brian Keene 

My goal for years to come is not only to emulate him but also to remember this lesson. Oh, and now I want to hang out with him again and pick his brain for hours… and I’ll try not to make it too creepy…


Radio Gigs, Podcasts and Hot Dog Flavored Potato Chips

Surf FM

I’m once again moving on up, to a deluxe apartment in the sky… OK, maybe that’s the wrong opening line.

When I first started back in June on 1700 AM The Surf it was truly a dream come true. Not only did I get to talk writing and publishing with two co-hosts (which then became one co-host), but I got to broadcast a music show live with all the killer tunes I grew up on and love.

1700 AM in Flagler Beach is morphing into 97.3 FM very soon, and I’m excited to be a part of it. Station owner Vern Shank has some really great plans for the station and you’ll still be hearing me on the air on Friday nights. But in a slightly different format…

I had a sit-down with Vern yesterday about my role at 97.3 FM and how I could stay on while balancing my writing career/movie writing career/radio gigs/personal life without too much fuss. Vern also tricked me into eating a hot dog flavored potato chip, which tasted like mustard and ketchup. I hate condiments. I still have the horrible taste in my mouth.


Mando’s Manic Melodies will still air in the 10 pm til midnight EST slot, but most shows won’t be live anymore. I recently purchased a podcast kit, which will be perfect for recording hours of the show. I’ll also be tightening the format up a bit to include a block of cover songs, a theme block as well as a Mandatory Stryper or Mandatory Steel Panther song. Other than that it will be whatever I decide to play, as usual. Whenever I get the chance to drive down to Flagler Beach I will, and do a live show with any requests you might have.

You might now be asking yourself two questions… first, why did Vern force you to eat that disgusting potato chip? and second… what about Friday Night Writes?

I will be stepping down from FNW and handing everything over to Tim Baker. The last couple of weeks he’s filled it with temporary music and I’m sure he’ll have something fresh and new planned for the 8-10 pm EST Friday night time slot. With everything going on for me right now, there is no way to commit to driving down to the station (I now live almost 75 minutes away – one way) and not getting home until 1:30 in the morning and killing my Saturday writing time because I need to sleep. I didn’t want to string The Surf, Vern or Tim along anymore, but I will miss the show. I had a lot of fun doing it.

So much fun, in fact, that at some point in the near future, I will be returning to a show about authors and publishing, but on my own time. Because I bought all this fancy podcast equipment, I’ve also decided to do my own podcast from home. I don’t have a name for it (but will take suggestions!) and I can tell you it will be a one hour format dealing with the same basic issues FNW dealt with, but I’ll have a different guest host each week talking about writing and publishing. I’m excited to still be able to talk about writing, and the shows will be in as many places as I can get them and archived as well.

Is that it for me? Nope.

I’m also excited to announce I will also be doing another music show each and every week, this time on Monday nights from 6-8 pm EST on Metal Messiah Radio! The show, Mando’s Metal Covers, will play harder songs and nothing but covers… and it will be broadcast live each week, so I will be creating a FB group so people can chat with me in real time and request some brutal Metal covers. I’m excited to be getting yet another opportunity to play music live, and doing it from the comfort of my own office. More details will be coming, but my first show will be live on Monday, May 5th. 


Anything else? Other than still being mad at Vern for trying to kill me? 

Nah. But as always wish me luck!



“Necromance” #1 and #2 #horror #erotica #stories are out!


Necromance #1: Blood Omen, by Armand Rosamilia

Introducing Cheri Rose Thorne, demon-hunter, and more. An evil presence draws Cheri to a strip club in Florida, where she indulges in her own unique brand of debauchery and mayhem.

  Ganxy link:
  Smashwords link:  FREE on SmashWords!
Necromance #2: Check-In by Three, by Armand Rosamilia
  Ganxy link:

The second story in the Necromance series takes Cheri Rose Thorne to Newark, NJ, where she must decide whether or not to make a deal with a devil.

Hookers, vampires, fiends, and hot sex in cheap motels. Just another day in the life of Cheri Rose Thorne, demon hunter. To what lengths will Cheri go to get information on her twin sister and her father, the Necromancer?

Guest Post: Patrick C. Greene



Patrick C Greene


In honor of Armand’s DYING DAYS series, and the upcoming anthology based in its universe, I decided to take a look at how the zombie phenomenon has infected the popular and underground music scenes.

blog zombie music

Okay. Maybe not the Top Ten – but here’s my take anyway.

Back in nineteen eighty-something, Michael Jackson kicked off the pseudo-trend I guess, with his loving tribute to horror films, the extended music video for his smash hit Thriller. Using then-state of the art special effects, lavish set design, and cinematic-level camera work, The Gloved One went all out, even hiring A-list director John Landis and the one and only Vincent Price to provide some nice atmospheric voice work.

The result was a success on every level. No one had ever seen anything quite like it on MTV, and probably never will again, unless teen moms and Jersey shore mouth breathers turn into werewolves, or face a zombie outbreak, only with decent lighting, editing, scripting, etc. 

If you’ve never seen it, you really should:

blog thriller

The climactic zombie dance number has been parodied and imitated numerous times. Working with Peepin Tom Productions on a zombie film called One Last Sunset a couple of years ago, and again this past spring, I bore witness to a well-orchestrated re-enactment on set. MJ would be proud. Unfortunately I didn’t catch the crew in action, but here’s the trailer for the movie:

blog sunset

Back to the music…

Soon after, punk rock pioneer Billy Idol took a tune he had performed with his first band Generation X called Dancing With Myself and re-recorded it for his first solo foray, leading to a video directed by none other than Tobe Hooper. The stylish vid features a raggedy band of what can only be zombies, attracted apparently by Idol’s singing and posturing, crawling up the walls over one another looooong before World War Z made it fashionable.

blog zombie wall collage

Still in the eighties, new wave-ish pop band The Hooters contributed an atmospheric and hooky tune called All You Zombies that took the charts by storm–though what the hell it’s actually about is up for debate. I don’t think it’s zombies, but decide for yourself:


blog zombie crowd


1986 found Credence Clearwater Revival alum John Fogerty tossing out a nice piece evocative of bayou voodoo called Eye Of The Zombie. Warning: ass nudity.

blog zombie eye


For at least the next decade or so, it would be difficult to find a song -or for that matter, any pop culture source- about zombies. With the advent of Road Rules type programming, MTV degenerated to a more subtle and less interesting brand of zombification, and horror films in general began to wane. When they were eventually resurrected, it was in the form of a slasher film revival.


But our rotten, shambling archetype could not stay figuratively dead anymore than literally so. With hardcore favorites Misfits leading the way, a new wave of ghoulish rock slowly dug its way from the underground. Generally known as “horror punk”, ( these acts use all manner of Halloween and horror film imagery, combined with fifties-esque doo-wop sensibilities to evoke a retro spookshow feel. Naturally, zombies are a popular motif.


blog misfits


There’s no shortage of tongue-in-cheek fun to be had from the music and in the presence of horror punk bands. It’s hard not to love a band like this:

blog zombie eat brain


The Crimson Ghosts did a good job of capturing the apocalyptic feel of the better zombie movies with this little ditty:


Why even good old Uncle George got in on the undead action, directing this sick little gem for the ‘Fits:

blog zombie rock

Leave it to the world of metal to bring gravitas back to the grave. The video for Moonspell’s “I’ll See you In My Dreams” is bleak and doom-laden:


Of course, any band calling themselves Cannibal Corpse should have on their set list at least one track concerned with the undead:

blog cannibal corpse


To bring the cycle back around, techno/goth metalers Gothminister pay tribute to the song that started it all, with–well, what else? Thriller.

blog zombie thriller end



  • BIO_ Patrick C. Greene – Some dark serendipity plopped a young Patrick Greene in front of a series of ever stranger films-and experiences-in his formative years, leading to a unique viewpoint. His odd interests have led to pursuits in film acting, paranormal investigation, martial arts, quantum physics, bizarre folklore and eastern philosophy. These elements flavor his screenplays and fiction works, often leading to strange and unexpected detours designed to keep viewers and readers on their toes.

Literary influences range from Poe to Clive Barker to John Keel to a certain best-selling Bangorian. Suspense, irony, and outrageously surreal circumstances test the characters who populate his work, taking them and the reader on a grandly bizarre journey into the furthest realms of darkness. The uneasy notion that reality itself is not only relative but indeed elastic- is the hallmark of Greene’s writing.

Living in the rural periphery of Asheville North Carolina with his wife, youngest son and an ever-growing army of cats, Greene still trains in martial arts when he’s not giving birth to demons via his pen and keyboard. Visit the website:

In addition to his novel PROGENY, and the short story collection DARK DESTINIES, Greene has several film projects in the works, and just finished writing his second novel – THE CRIMSON CALLING -the first in the action-adventure vampire trilogy, The Sanguinarian Council.