The Never-Ending Halloween

I went to work yesterday, and they were playing Christmas songs. Christmas decorations were everywhere, and I had to assemble a cardboard replica of Santa’s mailbox to hang gift cards on. And yet just a few days ago, I posted this on Instagram. Halloween hasn’t been over for a full week, and already Christmas is dancing on it’s dessicated corpse.

Of the two holidays, I have to say that I’m more of a fan of Halloween these days. Oh sure, I don’t go trick-or-treating, and I spend more time with friends and family on Christmas than I do on Halloween. But I feel closer to the spirit of Halloween than Christmas. Maybe it’s because Christmas has been commercialized out the wazzu (not that there isn’t a huge commercial element to Halloween as well), or maybe it’s because I’m sick of hearing about the War on Christmas from the more conservative side of the family. But honestly, I think it has more to do with Halloween being steeped in fantasy and horror, my two favorite genres both to write and to read.

Anyone who reads my blog should know I’m a fan of the macabre. I think I’ve posted more horror stories on this blog than any other genre. The same goes for the stories I post on my Patreon. I could make up some pretentious artistic explanation for why that is, such as horror being able to expose our underlying primal anxieties or whatever, but the truth is that I just find it fun to read scary stories and to write my own. I have ever since I was a kid. Seriously, you have no idea how many Goosebumps books I checked out of the school library.

A lot of my current projects revolve around horror, as well. Wednesday marked the premiere of the podcast TerrorTop, a Dungeons and Dragons Actual Play with Gothic and Lovecraftian elements. I’ve been working real hard on DMing the game and working together with my players to create a believable and terrifying world. We plan on releasing a new episode every other week, alternating with out sister podcast Quips and Crits.

The thumbnail art for TerrorTop, as drawn by Evan La Medica

In addition, I have been working on an urban fantasy/ horror themed indie tabletop RPG, which I hope to eventually be able to publish. Working on developing the rules has been really fun, especially since I decided to work on my own system instead of piggy back off of someone else’s work. Unfortunately, that means I could very well screw up and create something unbalanced and not at all fun to play. But that’s the basic risk that comes with making any game.

Finally, I’m continuing to write horror stories. I’ll be posting a short flash fic later today, and I’m spending time that I’m not working on the RPG writing a longer story that I eventually hope to have published. if I can’t publish it, I’ll throw it on the Patreon and work on the next one. Eventually, I’ll get good enough to be a published horror author. Halloween may be over, but I will never stop celebrating the spirit of the macabre.

Projects, Projects, Projects

Has it really been July since I’ve updated this blog? Man, I really have been in my own head, haven’t I?

I’m still getting the hang of juggling my OfficeMax job with the other things I want to do, but the good news is that I’m more happy and motivated than I have been in a long time. Having a steady job gives me a bit of financial security, so I can focus on other things and not have to worry about paying my student loans. It of course helps that my parents have been letting me stay with them, so I am privileged int his regard. Still, it’s a load off my shoulders and has greatly reduced my anxiety.

I’ve been doing a lot of work on various projects, most of which are related to role playing games in some form. The first one I should mention is Quips n Crits, a Dungfeons and Dragons fifth edition actual play podcast with some homebrew rules. I play Nikos the Younger, an Eladrin Warlock who has become the firs of his kind to step onto the material plane in generations. He joins an eclectic cast of characters including Breeze the Tabaxi bard, Tribute the Tiefling Paladin, Cas the Half-Elf Eldritch Knight, Talos the Half-Orc Cleric, and  Adela the Water Genasi Druid. Their current quest: figure out how to stop a pirate captain from killing everyone while also tracking down Breeze’s long-lost family and there’s also this thing about a war between the elementals and the gods and…you know what? It will make more sense if you go listen to it.

The second major project goes off of the first. On Halloween, a new  5e actual play podcast will premiere. With myself as the Dungeon Master, and a number of my friends as the players, the new podcast explores the Gothic city of Godsfall, a plce where monsters stalk the streets at night and strange conspiracies intertwine. Pray you are one of the lucky ones who can sleep at night in the city without worrying about what’s lurking down below. The podcast is called TerrorTop, and it brings Gothic/Lovecraftian horror to the realm of D&D actual play. It is legitimately the best campaign I have ever run and I am so excited that I get to share it with the world. Head on over to the facebook page, or follow Quips n Crits, as TerrorTop will be premiering on the same podbean channel.

Also, check out this amazing cover art by Evan La MedicaTerrorTop

The final project is still in development. I am talking with an artist friend about a collaboration. Specifically, a webcomic, one that I will write and they will draw. We are still working on character designs, so don’t expect anything soon. Suffice it to say there is still a lot of work to be done. But we are both very excited about the project and cannot wait until it goes live!

And that is what I’m up to. Hopefully I will get a chance to post something again relatively soon. And I definitely plan to post once TerrorTop goes live.

Sometimes it’s Fun to Be Scared

I’ve found myself really getting into the Halloween spirit lately. I checked out a horror novel from the library and have been enjoying reading it, and when I’m finished with that I’ve got the digital edition pf The Exorcist on my Kindle. Most importantly, I’ve been working on writing a scary story that I hope to submit to a magazine sometime in the near future. Yes, it’s safe to say I’ve gone head over heels for spookiness this season. But sometimes, when I talk to people, I feel like I’m in the minority this year.

When I’ve talked to people about Halloween and horror lately, I’ve gotten a lot of comments to the tune of “The world’s so scary now, why make it scarier in fiction?” Indeed, there seems to be a lot of people who’s normally be all about the scares but who just can’t seem to get into the spirit right now. And it’s true: the world really is a scary place, especially recently. I can completely understand why someone would not want to be scared this year, or would be having trouble finding the fun in horror. But, somewhat paradoxically, the scariness of the world has made spooky stories all the more fun for me.

See, part of the thing that makes horror fun, at least the horror that I personally like, is that the scary monsters and ghosts aren’t real. Oh sure, they can stand in as metaphors for real things, but they are still impossible beings that only exist in our imagination. And what I’ve found is the more I’m beings scared by these things, the less scared I am about the state of the world. Horror functions as a kind of escapism for me, allowing me to exchange my real life fears for things that are made up. And this is important, because it helps me keep going.

So if you’re having trouble getting into the Halloween spirit, this is my advice to you: find a spooky movie to watch. Make it one of your favorites. Put it on the TV. Turn the lights off. And just focus on the experience for a while. Tune everything out except for the movie. And, just for a little while, stop focusing on the horrors of real life and allow yourself to be terrified by the illusions on the screen.

Happy Halloween, everybody.