Going Static

My goal was to post three times a week with Mondays given over to posts about my personal writing  process, Wednesdays I would share those books I'd discovered during searches of the internet for my personal library, and Fridays would be devoted to creepy places.

You know what they say about the best laid plans and how they often go awry.

As I write this I'm 35,000 words into the Parasite manuscript, part two of the Shadows of the Past series, with a proposed release date of Halloween 2014. I've another 20 - 30 thousand words to go before the first draft is ready for rewrites. Tomorrow I'm going to try to whittle off another 10,000 words as it is the last day of my four day weekend.

In addition to Parasite I'm also working on a series of interlaced stories woven around the world twenty years after the Zombie Apocalypse. The stories will center on a place called Bordertown that appeared in my short "Don't Mess With The Pizza Guy," and will feature the main character from that story, Meat. Born during the Zombie Apocalypse his mother named him Meat. In her mind that was pretty much his future.

Taken in by a man he learned to call Dad his life was a roller coaster of ups and downs as they struggled to survive. Eventually they found Bremo Bluff and became a part of the growing community there. While others were focused on surviving Meat developed an interest in the history of the country that now lay in shambles and with two of his friends he set out to save the country's past.

I'd like to have the first set of Bordertown Tales ready by Christmas. Three to four stories centered around the main character and the place he calls home, packaged under one cover.

There are a number of other projects clamoring for my attention from short stories to novelettes that are crying out for me to work on them.

For the foreseeable future I will be devoting my time to my writing and letting this blog go static. I'll provide updates on my progress from time to time. To be honest I'm not a blogger, just a guy with a full time job and dreams that refuse to go quietly into the night.

One Thousand Words A Day

My goal as a writer is to produce a minimum of one thousand words a day. A big part of hitting that goal is my willingness to carve out the time to put those words on the page. It’s all boils down to conditioning the mind to respond to a certain stimulus. If you’re sitting at your desk every day at the same time with the intent to write, I’ve discovered the words will flow. And it’s not as hard as one thinks.

Every morning, without fail, I'm at my computer editing, marketing, or writing new stuff. I put aside the time, before work, to focus on my dream. Some mornings I don’t want to get up when the alarm goes off but I force myself to do so. For me writing is a priority in my life. One I take seriously.

I’m sure as a writer you have several non-writing friends, out of those friends I’m willing to bet one of them would also be writing a book if only they had the time. There’s always one thing or another cropping up to prevent them from doing what they want. The real reason they’re not writing is that for them writing is not that high of a priority in their life.

With a little planning and a willingness to commit ones self to a set time each day, anyone can achieve the goal of writing a thousand words a day. And while a thousand words alone does not sound like much, if you can produce a thousand words each day, on the same project, in three months time you will have a 90,000 word novel.

Fridays Frights: Ohio State Reformatory

Located in Mansfield, Ohio, the Ohio State Reformatory, also known as the Mansfield Reformatory is an imposing structure that immediately reminds one of an old German  castle. Constructed between 1886 and 1910 it opened to its first inmates in 1896 while still under construction and remained in operation until 1990 when a Federal court ruling ordered the facility closed.

A bit of a celebrity the structure has appeared in both films and television.

The Shawshank Redemption, based on a novella written by Stephen King was filmed in and around the area. The reformatory itself appeared in a long panning shot for the movie and the wardens office was used as the office for Warden Samuel Norton played by Bob Gunton. 

The reformatory also served as a stand in for the Russian prison that housed General Ivan Radek in the movie Air force One starring Harrison Ford. It has also been the setting for episodes of Ghost Hunters, Ghost Adventures, and Ghost Hunters Academy.

While a celebrity, the prison harbors a sinister past. It is said the tortured spirits of inmates who died within its walls still wander the hallways.

In the administration wing where, Warden Glatkke and his wife Helen once lived, employees and visitors have reported paranormal events.

Helen died of complications after suffering a gunshot wound to the chest in an accidental discharge of the weapon. There are those who believe the warden was directly responsible for the accident. Ten years later the Warden suffered a heart attack and died at the same hospital as his wife.

There have been reports of the smell of rose perfume, Helen's favorite, filling the room when visitors enter. Camera shutters will suddenly quit working until they are removed from the area, leading one to believe the spirit of the warden is preventing visitors from photographing he and his wife’s quarters.

It is rumored The Chapel was once used as a torture chamber. Strange recordings have been made and numerous orbs have allegedly been seen in the chapel. Visitors have reported seeing the shadowy silhouette of a person who vanishes when they approach.

Other hotspots of paranormal activity include the Infirmary, where many prisoners spent their final moments, and is known in paranormal circles to set off EMF detectors. Clusters of orbs have seen captured in photographs, and visitors have reported feeling unexplained gushes of air passing them as they explore.

In the basement the spirit of a fourteen year old who had been beaten to death lingers in the shadowy hallways. The spirit of former Reformatory employee George is said to inhabit the same area.

Visitors have reported seeing objects move for no obvious reason in the inmate graveyard where the bodies of past inmates lay interred. In the library equipment will stop working for no reason.

The darkest spot has to be the hole where unruly prisoners were confined in dark cells and subsisted on a diet of bread and water. The walls of this area still carries the despair the prisoners must have felt and some visitors to the area have reported being overcome by a feeling of dread that forces them to leave immediately.

Now under the care of the Mansfield Reformatory Preservation Society the prison is open to self-guided tours from April 1 to September 1. Other tour packages are available. There is also the Shawshank Trail, a fourteen stop self guided tour that takes one to the filming locations from the movie. More information can be found at their website.

New Discovery: Who Goes There by John W Campbell.

I guess what I really should say is new 'old' discovery as John W. Campbell's novella Who Goes There, was originally published in Astounding Stories in 1938. It is purported that he wrote Who Goes There in response to H.P Lovecraft's novella At The Mountains of Madness that had been published in Astounding Stories in 1936, to show Lovecraft how a story of that nature should be written.

Campbell's story Who Goes There served as the basis for the 1951 movie The Thing From Another World, that John Carpenter remade in 1982 as The Thing.

What makes this release unique is that before John Carpenter became involved in the remake, Universal Studios approached William F Nolan, who had recently garnered a great deal of attention with the release of the movie Logan's Run for which he'd written the screenplay. The print version contains a forward by William F Nolan as well as his treatment of the proposed screenplay that Universal passed on in favor of John Carpenter's version.  Nolan's take on Campbell's story downplays monster elements in favor of an "imposter" theme, in a vein similar to The Body Snatchers by Jack Finney. The forward and treatment is not available in the kindle version, I purchased a copy hoping to find the treatment by Nolan only to be disappointed.

Click on the cover to grab a copy for yourself.

Issac Asimov called Campbell, "the most powerful force in science fiction ever,." and his novella Who Goes There proves the point.

Establishing a Routine

It's not unusual that during the course of a conversation I'll be having with someone I haven't met before, when the subject of my writing comes up, almost without fail the person will express their desire to write a book themselves. If they only had the time.

Their excuses for not doing so range from having to watch their kids, to wanting to spend time with their spouses. There's housework that needs to be done, laundry waiting to be washed, work around the house that they've been putting off far to long. And the biggest excuses is being too tired after a hard day at work.

Not to brag but I'm writing this on Sunday evening after having worked from 9am until 5pm in a retail store. I got up this morning at 5:30 am, showered and made some coffee, then sat down and wrote until it was time to get ready for work. After work I stopped at another store to pick up food for the dogs and upon arriving home I sat down to dinner with my wife and our oldest grandson who had stopped by for a visit.

After dinner I ran my grandson home, came back to the house and helped finish the dishes. Now I sit at my computer, a cold beer on my desk beside me, while I write this post I've been promising myself I would do all week. You see I've made the decision that I have to post three times a week from this point on. Mondays will be missives like you're reading now about living the life of a writer who also works a full time job. Wednesdays will be devoted to new discoveries I've made in horror fiction, guest posts from other authors, and interviews. Fridays will remain Fridays Frights with a more personal touch as I talk about creepy places around the world. After I'm done this post I'll join my wife on the patio while we watch our dogs play in the back yard and relax for an hour or so before we go off to bed.

Recently I've rediscovered an old truth about being a working writer. To be successful, to complete your projects in a timely manner, you have to have a routine. Setting a goal is not enough if you don't establish a routine that will help you achieve that goal. My shot term goal is to finish Parasite, part two of the Shadows of the Past series I've been contemplating for some time. I want to release it by Halloween this year. To do that I have to finish it by the end of August. That will give me all of September and most of October to rewrite and polish the story in preparation for its Halloween release.

Will I make it?

I'm doing everything possible on my end. For the past two weeks I've gotten up every morning at 5:30, hopped in the shower, and grabbed some coffee before turning on the computer and getting to work. I've established a routine that is slowly becoming second nature.When I wrote Shadows of the Past I did the same thing, starting work the same time each day,and working until I achieved a goal which at the time was five pages per day, many days I'd write ten or fifteen. and in no time I had written 85,000 words.

To date I've laid down just over 25,000 words on Parasite. I'm nearly halfway there.

There's another little truth I've rediscovered recently. By sticking to my routine I've found I actually have more time to do the things I want to without feeling guilty.

Oh and don't forget while you're here to sign up for my monthly giveaway. This month I'm giving away a $10.00 amazon gift card along with an electronic library of all of my work. The drawing will take place August 15. to sign up follow the Where's Puddles link above.

Fridays Frights: Eastern State Penitentiary

We've visited a number of old insane asylums in our travels, coming to understand that wherever there was misery and death, ghostly apparitions were sure to follow. The walls of these places having absorbed the despair of its former occupants. Some had been placed within those walls for their own good, unable to care for themselves, requiring constant supervision. Many others had been abandoned by their own families. Committed not because they needed to be, but because they were in the way, so to speak. Innocents imprisoned for the crime of existing.

At the other end of the spectrum are the hardened criminals who deserve to be locked away to protect society as a whole. Men and women with no regard for anyone or anything but themselves. And one such place is Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Originally constructed in the early 1800,s the prison was operated under the Pennsylvania system from 1829 to 1913. A system centered on solitude that the designers felt would force the inmate to look within and find god. Yet the solitary existence was enough to make a sane person insane.

Confined to a single cell for twenty three out of twenty four hours, there was but a single slit in the ceiling through which the sun would shine, and was referred to by many as the eye of god. Before they could leave their cell a black hood was placed over their head to prevent communication as they were guided through the prison.

 Communication between inmates was an offense punishable by the cruelest form of torture. An iron ring was clamped around the inmate's tongue, their wrists were then bound behind their head and attached to the ring. Even the slightest movement would result in a tearing of the tongue. Many inmates died from loss of blood as a result of this punishment.

Other punishments included The water bath, an inmate was dunked into ice cold water then chained to a wall overnight. During the winter when this punishment was most popular the water on the inmates flesh wold freeze overnight.

The mad chair, so named  because many inmates were driven insane if they survived the punishment. They were strapped to a chair so tightly with leather straps that even the slightest movement was impossible. Forced to sit for days with no food in almost all cases circulation to their extremities would stop resulting in amputation or death.

Prior to its reform in 1913 the prison, which was designed to hold 250 inmates, was crammed with over 1700 inmates in tiny makeshift cells with little light or ventilation. In 1971 the prison was closed for good. Since that time there have been reports of weeping, giggling, and whispering coming from within the prison walls.

A locksmith changing  the 140 year old lock on cell block #4 reported being overcome by a malignant force that prevented him from moving. Anguished faces appeared on the walls of the cell block as shadowy forms swirled around him, and an overpowering entity beckoned for him to come to it. Many believe when he removed the lock he released the trapped spirits within the cell block.

Today the penitentiary is open to the public. More information on tours is available at