HALLOWEENPALOOZA 3: Author Announcement and Giveaway

Halloweenpalooza 3:
Hey, Halloweenies, Halloweenettes, and all you friends of unrelenting horror!!!

31 Authors are ganging up to bring you the best Halloween of your lives!!! We won’t stop until the top of your head blows off!!! It’s why we’re offering up our best original fiction, blog posts, and free copies of our books all to make you happy!!! You’ll be so distracted that you won’t even think about toilet papering the bushes of those neighbors that have been giving you a hard time about carrying around that chain saw. But remember, it’s all good ‘cuz that’s what got you arrested the last time, Bucko!!!This year we’re featuring giveaways, prizes, original fiction, blog posts, and interviews … oh, didn’t I mention that I got some to sit still for an interview? Oh, yes, I did, my little Ghostie Toasties!!! I tried the gambit I learned from SCREAM!!! I called a couple of authors and asked them to answer a few questions. Then I messaged them a picture of their car with some duct tape over the front grill. They cried like little girls and begged me not to hurt their hunk of metal before answering every single one I asked!!! Now that’s Halloween entertainment at its finest!!!!   
In case you’re new to this event, this is how it works. Every day in the month of October, I’ll be posting a link to this blog on the Official FB Event Page. The blog post will feature either an interview, blog post, or an original short story written for this event. It will also include the name of the book being given away as well as how many copies and in what format. To enter, click back over onto the FB Event Page (the Halloweenpalooza 3 picture at the bottom of the page is linked to the event for easy navigation), and follow the instructions. It’s that simple. To get you completely psyched, I’m listing all the participants in
quasi-alphabetical order. Remember, this is me putting them in that order and I’m the one that got hammered last night—literally!!! So here are the names linked to their respective Amazon Author pages. And remember, after you get done reading, JOIN THE PARTY by clicking on the pic at the top and bottom of this post (didn’t I just say they’re linked?)!!! Consider this your #OFFICIALINVITATION!!!!
Ready, set, here’s the list of 28 (3 more to be announced)!!! And, hell no, we’re not telling you on what day who is appearing!!!  That’s why you have to join!!! So you don’t miss a thing!!!


Julie Ann Hacker

J.D. Horn

Open to residents of Canada/USA who are 18 or older 



 a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Wayward Pines: I Wanted to Love You

p9693038_b_v7_adWhen I first saw the promos for Wayward Pines, I got excited. The new series on FOX seemed to tick all the boxes in my “Must Have” list. There was Matt Dillon playing Ethan Burke, Juliette Lewis popping in to creep me out, Terence Howard taking time out from Empire to work a second job and eat an ice cream cone, and M. Night Shyamalan playing the Red Queen and directing the mad affair. Come on, M. Night Shyamalan? With him at the helm, what could go wrong? Answer: Plenty. Lesson: Just because something looks good on paper doesn’t mean it’ll work. It’s why we women set our sights on multi-millionaires, but end up with plumbers.

Ethan Burke is the lead in this twisty-turny puzzle that we’re supposed to want to solve. Burke is a secret service agent that is assigned the task of finding two missing officers, but right off the bat, things are not as they seem. We learn this through a glimpse of a counseling session held between Burke and his therapist. It seems Burke has suffered some type of trauma due to the Easter bombings. He feels he’s responsible—and, no, we have no idea what the Easter bombings are either. As much in the dark about them as we are about other key elements in this drama, the holding back of information sets the precedent for much of what follows. However, what we do discover is that this event was the cause of Burke suffering from a dissociative disorder and hallucinations. While Burke assures the therapist that the delusions are so yesterday, the response is disingenuous given that Burke also asks for a definition of what an hallucination is. It’s shades of Bill Clinton asking what’s considered sex … and, oh, while you’re explaining that to him, pass the cigar.

Now I don’t know whether Burke indulged in smoking, but like the above, he has dabbled in extramarital affairs. In fact, one of the agents he’s searching for was someone he had a fling with. No good deed goes unpunished, and so in the course of trying to locate the two fellow officers, Ethan is involved in a car accident—but is it? An accident, I mean. After all, the driver seems to have steered the vehicle straight at an oncoming truck. Not surprisingly, he hits the moving target and Ethan is knocked unconscious and awakens, battered, bruised, and alone in the woods. In an attempt to find help, he stumbles into the sleepy little town of Wayward Pines.

Lucky him! He’s soon being tended by the crack team of one healthcare professional named Nurse Ratched … I mean, Nurse Pam. Hang onto your bedpans because Florence Nightingale she ain’t! Magnificently portrayed by Melissa Leo, this scary lady may be the real reason Obamacare will fail. Ethan has the right idea when he flees this shrew that always seems to have a hypodermic needle in her hand, but instead of finding freedom, he wedges himself further up the butthole of Kafka World. With his cell and wallet gone missing, Ethan wanders around town trying to find a phone that works and someone to talk to. The shoulder to cry on comes in the form of Juliette Lewis, a bartender who forks over a free hamburger and her address—just in case he needs it. *wink wink* The address is written on a napkin that’s imprinted with, “There are no crickets in Wayward Pines.”

Yeah, well, unfortunately, there is no logic either. Perhaps the producers should have printed that on it as well. And stories that don’t make sense? They’re sort of deal breakers for me and that’s what happens here. In fact, one of the biggest disappointments was the incoherent presentation of the storyline. The disjointed nature of it really got to me. I mean, with so many things happening at once, did I really need to be jolted back and forth in time? The fact that clues were offered in these time jumps was curious at best, and the skewed timeline added an unnecessary and confusing note that was probably intriguing when put in book format. But sometimes things that work in books just don’t in film. In books, there are such things as inner dialogue and narration where an needed explanation can be offered. In video? The audience is left to figure it out on their own and I was one of the ones left in the dust.

Other problems? Let me count the ways:

  1. The story skips from Ethan’s reality to his wife’s and boss’ reality. Because a lot hinges on whether what happens in Wayward Pines is all in Ethan’s head, the excursions into (a) showing the exchanges between Ethan’s wife and son, and (b) his boss trying to find out about the car wreck have to be interpreted as real. Ethan can’t imagine things when he’s not there—and he’s clearly not. So when it’s shown that Ethan’s boss, Adam Hassler is talking to Dr. Jenkins, a psychiatrist that Ethan has met in Wayward Pines Hospital, we have to believe that Jenkins is real and not a product of an hallucination. This means giving away much of the plot that should have been kept under wraps. It also means that if these things are not real, that we’ve been duped because they should be.
  2. By giving Ethan a job that requires a degree of professionalism, the dialogue between Ethan and other characters comes off as silly. For instance, in his meeting with Juliette Lewis, Ethan is desperately trying to contact his wife and family to let them know he’s alive, and yet he asks her if she’s seen the two missing agents? Really? With everything else going on and his colleague that was driving dead and perhaps still in the car? Then there’s a conversation he has with a “new hire” at the bureau. It comes about when he finally does find a phone and calls his boss Adam Hassler. Now Ethan has been missing and Hassler (as note above), has been devoting his time trying to find him, but the woman answering the phone refuses to track Hassler down to tell Hassler she has Ethan on the phone? The fact that Ethan didn’t find anything strange about this conduct was ridiculous. Instead, he only puts it down to this woman being recently hired?!!! I find that completely unreasonable, and the ensuing conversation he engages in totally out of character. The exchange between the two should have gone something like:

New Hire:    Sorry I can’t interrupt Mr. Haslett.

Burke:         You can’t what?!!! *stares suspiciously at the phone* “Who the hell am I talking to?

New Hire:    Sir, there’s no reason for profanity and I told you that I’m a new—

Burke:         Knock off the bullshit! If you expect me to believe Haslett didn’t mention me to you and didn’t tell you to patch me right through if I called, means you’re as dumb as you sound! Now who the hell are you and what the hell is going on?

1253499479678318375But, wait! Not done on this point of him acting out of character. There’s Juliette Lewis, yeah, the girl who flips burgers and hands out her address to strange, extremely hunky strangers. (Can’t blame her there.) She resurfaces just in time to rescue Ethan from undergoing some very unwanted brain surgery. Not only does she know where he is in the hospital (It’s a freakin’ big hospital. Did she use sonar?), she also just happens to have a key that can unlock the handcuffs tethering him to the gurney. The funny thing is that he never questions how she got the key or knew she’d need one. I mean, how many people bring along a spare set of master keys to take off handcuffs when they visit hospitals? Then there’s the conversation he never has about why she gave him an address to an abandoned house that contained one of the missing agents he’s looking for inside. (Nope, she sure didn’t live there! And the guy was dead. Think he’d be curious about why the officer was left to rot on a mattress?)

  1. Since Burke is working in the field of covert tactical warfare, he must have heard of psychological experiments. If he has, then he would know that an important component is to not only isolate the target in order to make him a victim, but to also install someone to befriend said victim—someone that appears to be being subjected to the same type of torture that he is undergoing, but is not. It’s how they get said target to spill his guts and tell this shill “friend” everything—including whatever it is they’re trying to find out. It never even occurs to him that this helpful girl that appears at the strangest times is doing just that? Really?
  2. When Ethan finally steals a car, we’re like, “Opa!” But then we find that the road is circular and only leads back to Wayward Pines. “No, Opa!” But he tries again, this time parking in the middle of the road and going into the woods to find a way out. What he finds is an electrified fence skirting the entirety of the property. What? Okay, if this is real and not a delusion, the government has to be involved for something of that magnitude to have been undertaken. While a crackpot cult can stockpile weapons and keep people locked up in a compound, they can’t build electrified fences that stretch for hundreds of miles. Trust me, someone would notice! They have things like satellite imagery that would pick up hundreds of people clearing the forest and building this barrier. Then there’s the hard cold reality of him having had to get THROUGH the barrier to get to Wayward Pines. I mean, he wasn’t born in Wayward Pines, so doesn’t that mean there has to be an exit and entrance? Especially if we see Dr. Jenkins inside the town and then in Washington talking to Adam Hassler? Is he helicoptered in? If so, we never hear any obnoxious noises tipping us off to personnel coming or going. Then we get the question of food and supplies. Does everyone just grow their own vegetables and is this town self-contained? If it is, what about gas for the cars? They never need to refill? You see, there has to be an entrance and exit. Also the fence has to be real since the camera pans out and shows us. The camera acts as the objective narrator/third eye confirming this to be a fact since Burke couldn’t possibly have seen an aerial view.
  3. To return to the infamous escape from the hospital, Burke hides Juliette Lewis in a room, while he hides in one opposite it. Since it’s raining out, Lewis leaves a water trail and a puddle right in front of the door she’s hiding behind. When Nurse Pam comes looking for Burke, she looks down and sees the puddle of water. At that point, she knows he can’t be hiding behind the door since he hasn’t been outside. Therefore, by a process of elimination, it has to be a person that was in the rain and that broke in the hospital and freed Burke. BUT Nurse Pam talks to the door she knows doesn’t hide Burke, saying things like she knows he’s in there. This gives him the opportunity to sneak behind her and wham her head into the wall. (Yeah! Booyah!) Because of her actions, I already know that he’s being set up like the patsy he is. I also know that Juliette Lewis must be working in tandem with this group for the nurse not to have opened the door and had her arrested. She could have then taken care of Burke since it was only going to be a few minutes for the sedative he’d already been given to take effect.

These are just some of the loose threads that are hanging all over the place and unraveling the fabric of this show. From the trailers, I thought this would be homier and more cultlike. For instance, a man who is having a tough time of things has a car accident and is brought to Wayward Pines. They treat him kindly and he envisions a new start, but after a while he finds that things are not as idyllic as they first seem. It would seem creepier than fences that extend for miles, time shifts, and women who feed accident victims raw hamburgers. And if I had to guess from what I’d seen, I’d say they’re trying to break Burke down so he’ll assassinate a target they want taken care of. Since he’s seen as expendable, why not?

Because of the above and a lot more, I just couldn’t get into the story and do not care where it’s going! All the silliness diverted my attention from what should have been a tidy mystery with fifty shades of paranoia. What a shame. I’m sure the book by Blake Crouch was a lot more cohesive, and just maybe I’ll pick up a copy and leave the watching of this ten-parter to someone else.


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Gods and Galaxies: Aaron Smith and W. Potocki

A few days back, I was approached by fellow author Aaron Smith about the subject of  childhood fantasies and how they may have helped shape our career paths. I thought the topic intriguing and penned some of my experiences.

Aaron did the same and here are our combined efforts. Hope you enjoy!


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la-mct-enter-tv-strain-1-mct-jpg-20140711Include me as one of the three million viewers who watched the debut of Guillermo del Toro’s new vampire-virus drama “The Strain” on FX last Sunday. After being disappointed by other shows that looked promising, I can uncategorically state that “The Strain” delivered on all fronts. It ushered in a new brand of late night fare that I choose to call “Creepy-as-hell TV.”

The story opens with a Boeing 767 about to land at JFK, but, oh! Guess what? At the last minute, the damn thing disappears off the radar screen! Even if you’re not tracking planes all day for a living, you gotta know that it’s never a good thing when planes go dark, and so the event rousts an air traffic controller off his kiester and jolts him into a New York Code Red State of Emergency Kind of Mind. Take that Billy Joel! His supervisor agrees after he confirms that all communications have been shut down by some mysterious entity that escaped all because some loopy flight attendants just had to unlock a cargo door. So what if there were mysterious noises coming from below? In these kinds of stories, opening a locked door is tantamount to searching the basement of a house with only a faulty flashlight that keeps going off. A team is immediately dispatched to see what the problem is, but when the first responders find the plane in the center of the runway, they assess the Flight 753’s condition by saying, “It’s like a dead animal.”

FX_Strain_SetrakianGallery_1233It’s the first solid punch of the evening, and perfectly sets the tone of this very smartly written offering. Written and produced by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan, there’s just so much to love. First, this project does not seem to be written by a committee. Networks please take note: The number of writers you bring in to help buoy a story with no plot does no good. No, really. It doesn’t. Trust the thousands of disappointed horror fans throwing their popcorn at their TV screens and yelling curse words while vowing never to watch your lousy channel again. Next, this show is going somewhere and we’re along to accompany it to its destination. Thirdly, the casting is so superbly awesome that you might end up putting your pants on backward. And last … *drum roll* … in addition to the chills … it’s fun! Yeah, I know! When was the last time you had fun watching a TV series? Hmmmmm … oh, yeah. One hyphenated word: X-files, but back to storyland.

After taking the plane’s pulse and finding it doesn’t have one, we’re shunted into our lead character’s apparent close encounter with the psychiatric kind. With his marriage crumbling, Dr. Ephraim Goodweather, the head of the Center for Disease Control Canary Team in New York City, has agreed to counseling. Never mind that the therapist heading the sessions is a pill and probably displays her used panty liners at Christmas because she’s proud of being a woman and it’s a symbol of her fertility. And that the wife Eph still loves (why?) shops for husband material at Sears. Young Men’s Department? Okay, so that was a low blow, but listen. I’m all for spouses regurgitating their angst and making their partners feel like turd patties any chance they get, but not when said partner is an epidemiologist! So I’m asking … no, begging … that all spouses of epidemiologists that work so closely with the CDC that they’re in the same framily phone plan, chill! I mean it! Cut them some slack when they get messages and don’t get all snarky and roll those eyes if you know what’s good for you. We have a lot at stake here, and whether your husband is late for a stupid session is not our problem, but parasitic worms that morph people into vampires are.

The next thing you know (after Ephraim, brilliantly portrayed by Corey Stoll unleashes his paranoia about these two women ganging up on him which is impossible because we women never get together on anything) is that Mr. Virus gets a parking ticket, meets the guy his wife babysits boffs, and arrives on the runway in time to stop a bunch of ninjas from boarding the plane first. As if I’d fight to go aboard that thing first, but the battle ensues nonetheless, and Eph and his fellow bug hunter Nora Martinez win—if you can call that winning.

STRAIN_1250The boarding of the plane was the second big chill of the night. Talk about polar vortex! I was screaming at the TV screen for them to get the hell off that plane, but would they listen? No! But then in effective thrillers, they never do. Most especially Nora. While she’s warned numerous times not to go anywhere alone or enter the cockpit, she does both—at the same time! Good thinking, Nora! Two birds; one stone? I’m just sayin’. And so we see her saunter into the cockpit—alone! Then there’s the examination of this little girl Emma. Dear God, where did they find this actress? I should state here that I have a thing about child actors because they usually don’t rise to the level of thespian sophistication that the more seasoned actors do. Given that, I tend to ignore them and give them a pass. There have been a few notable exceptions over the years (Kirsten Dunst, Haley Joel Osment) and now there’s Isabelle Nélisse. Gosh, she’s wonderful! She was spot on in her delivery and when she walked home in the dead of night to tell her father she was cold … it was yet another blast of frigid air in our collective faces! That scene was uber effective and I was laughing, crying and applauding that somebody appeared to have finally gotten something right.

Of course, I’m leaving out the crazy, old man who feeds a heart he keeps in a jar with his blood (ala shades of Eleanor Rigby), a gigantic, dirt-filled coffin covered with skulls that Eph disregards as a cabinet (does this guy really know what he’s doing?), and Dr. Bennett (Jeffrey R. Smith) performing autopsies on the dead bodies found on the plane right up until he finds out that they’re not really dead.

If you’re one of those horror fans that’s been hungry for something to feast on, man, you’ve got yourselves a smorgasbord this summer. This thing has more legs than a centipede, and I can’t wait to see where it’s going to go. So tune in, stream in, worm in, or do whatever you have to do to watch some really interesting, Creepy-as-Hell TV!

Bolivar! Bolivar!

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Craving a THRILL?


NEWFINALThrill5 copy
Hey, You Horror Fiends!

Hope your Halloween was all you hoped for. It was for me. HALLOWEENPALOOZA was epic and I had a blast! But now I move onto my next project which I’ve been busily working on. That project? THRILL.

THRILL is the next frightmare on my agenda. It’s a horror-a-second chill and will freeze your marrow making it difficult to dive under your bed! It’s published and here’s the trailer for it. The very talented Drew Gilbert helped me put it together and I think it came out rather well.

Here’s what people are saying about THRILL:

Thrill is a story of a good but bullied young man who decides to change his life and become enmeshed in a gang lifestyle at staggering costs to his life … well-crafted … The mix of teen-coming-of-age-conflict, peer pressure, remorse, and voodoo revenge is deftly managed and well handled.” —Michael Sabourin, Horrortalk.com

“I was pleasantly surprised by this book. The story is very good and I didn’t figure out the ending – even at the end! … Thrill is a very good book and I recommend it for anyone who is looking for light horror that will leave you guessing until the end.” — CloeyK, Cloey’s Book Reviews and Other Stuff

Thrill is one thrill-ride of a novel that will carry readers along from the first pages. … It is fast-paced, adrenaline-rushed suspense that keeps the pages turning. … The twists, turns and And Then There Were None style of horror will keep readers pulled into the strange world of Tyler, CA. With plenty of action, suspense, and darkness, Thrill is definitely one to check out.“–  The YA Lit Chick Review   

“Wendy Potocki will pull you in from the beginning. … Dark and Gritty, if you are a fan of the mysterious suspense novels that don’t pull punches, this is definitely the book for you.  … The author will have you holding your breath and trying to find out what exactly is going on all of the way until the very end.” – A Life Through Books

“There was a lot going on in the story, but Wendy Potocki did a great job of keeping her readers … anticipating the next move … The characters were all very interesting. … Kyle and his journey is really what drives this story … Wendy Potocki hit it out of the park when she created him.” — The Indie Express

Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/THRILL-Wendy-Potocki-ebook/dp/B00IFWBO5U/ref=la_B002BRGIP6_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1405718961&sr=1-5

Amazon: UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Thrill-Wendy-Potocki/dp/1494847795


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I hope everyhalloween-fun-pumpkin-party-festivity_121-84687one saw my tweet about moving the Halloweenpalooza to FB!!!

If not, here’s the link:

It’s the official event page! It’ll tell you about the posts for the day, where they can be found, and about how to win the daily giveaways.If you’re looking to post a ghost story, please use this link to join our HALLOWEENPALOOZA Ghost Stories group! You might win a HUGE prize package! Don’t be shy!


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Brown_ladyI’m kicking off this Halloweenpalooza one day early! Why? In order to announce The Halloweenpalooza Ghost Story Competition!

This competition will last all month long. Entries can begin today. The last entry will be October 30th with winner chosen on October 31st. The winning selection will be announced on this blog and Twitter.

Our lucky winner gets an amazing prize package that will be sending chills up their spine for weeks to come. The shivers may even last until next October 31st.

The rules? Not many. We like to keep it simple because we want to give away prizes! But first, let’s get this out of the way: THIS CONTEST IS LIMITED TO THOSE RESIDING IN THE U.S. AND CANADA. DUE THE ADULT NATURE OF SOME CONTENT, CONTESTANTS MUST ALSO BE 18 OR OLDER. BY ENTERING, YOU ARE CONFIRMING YOU MEET THESE REQUIREMENTS.

With that over, listen up, here’s how you win:

1. Post your best brush with ghosts (we’re assuming you survived) on our HALLOWEENPALOOZA: Ghost Story Group page:


2. These stories must be real life encounters that you have personally experienced.

3. The stories can be as short or as long as you like, but can’t exceed 1,200 words. We just want to be creeped out.

4. Leave your first name and Twitter handle or email at the end of your post so we can contact you.

5. Winners will be chosen by bestselling author Susan J. McLeod and moi. We’ll look for the entry that best sends us into adrenalin overload and has us ducking under the bed.

You’re probably wondering about the prize package. Ready? Here we go:

— An ecopy of the awesomeThe Dark Ascension Series by N.R. Wick. This includes: Land of No Angels (Dark Ascension, Book 1), Land of No Mortals (Dark Ascension, Book 2) and Land of No Demons (Dark Ascension, Book 3). http://www.amazon.com/Land-Angels-Dark-Ascension-ebook/dp/B0054E2F32/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1380549950&sr=1-3-fkmr0&keywords=DARK+ASCENSION+nr+wick

— A $15 Amazon gift card will also be given courtesy of Ms. Wick.

— A print copy of Ronan Cray’s bestseller Red Sand. This is scream-inducing horror at its best. http://www.amazon.com/Red-Sand-ebook/dp/B009LRQUUW/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1380548707&sr=1-1&keywords=ronan+cray+red+sand

–A print copy of Beneath the Surface of Things and In Our House: Tantalizing Tales of Terror courtesy of Julie Dawson of Bards and Sages Quarterly, Two fabulous books that will be the catalyst for you leaving the lights on for about a year. http://www.amazon.com/Beneath-Surface-Things-ebook/dp/B004R1Q8X6/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1380550572&sr=1-1&keywords=beneath+the+surface+of+things http://www.amazon.com/Our-House-Tantalizing-Terror-ebook/dp/B0067LQMR6/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1380550605&sr=1-1&keywords=tantalizing+tales+of+horror

–An ARC copy of Aaron Smith’s new horror thriller Chicago Fell First. It’s a panic-filled tale of a zombie outbreak wiping out Chicago. Big cities just became more dangerous.

–An ecopy of Bryan W. Alaspa’s new horror thriller Strange Fruit and the Slender Man. Why is murder never simple when ancient evils are involved? https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/353396

–An ecopy of G. K. Wakeling’s Pacifier 6, The Shadows Within, an zombie apocalyptic tale guaranteed to freeze your blood marrow.  http://www.amazon.com/Pacifier-Shadows-Within-Thriller-ebook/dp/B00B8SJM2U/ref=sr_1_10?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1380548241&sr=1-10&keywords=wakeling

–An ecopy of The Man with the Blue Hat, my bedtime story designed to give you nightmares. http://www.amazon.com/Man-Blue-Hat-ebook/dp/B0049H8WS2/ref=la_B002BRGIP6_1_4_title_1_kin?ie=UTF8&qid=1347063600&sr=1-4t

That’s the package, folks! So dust off your ghost story and write it down. Who knows? You may find yourself up to your ears in stultifying horror.

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