Well, after getting into the review groove, I’ve decided I don’t really like the format I’ve been using. But, I figure that’s pretty in line with my goal for the site. After all, I started this to showcase how ideas and stories change throughout the process. How editing and reworking are integral parts of the creative process. And that we should not be ashamed to show where we start from and where we are going.
But, frankly, the format I’ve been using was chosen for expediency rather than artfulness. While I want to keep some parts to make it easy to learn more about a podcast (like the basic info), I want to change the way I’ve done the reviews. I just want to talk about them, not try to fit it into this artificial format with a couple of short paragraphs. I’ve tried to make it clear all over this blog: I like to hear myself talk (er…see myself write?). And I want the reviews I write to have the same quality as the short stories, even if the style and requirements are different. But I’ve never really done many reviews, so I’m learning.
In line with my aspirations for the blog as a whole, I will keep the old published versions of all reviews already published available via “Read More” links. And if I should decide to make further changes later, well, I’ll cross that bridge then. For now, I hope you like the change!
Well, the cobwebs sure have gotten thick! I see the last post was last October. Not a great look. I guess a brief update is in order. About a year ago, I found out I was pregnant. A few months back, I gave birth to a happy, healthy, wonderful little girl. To be honest, pregnant me was not really feeling much up to writing, and new mom me was feeling it even less. But, life is settling into a little more routine, and I’d like to get back to a few things. But I also think I need to ease into this. So, I’m thinking of something new. Mainly because I have a newborn, want to get back into writing, but don’t quite have the brain/will power to work on things more comprehensive right now. I’ve got ideas, but the idea of sitting down and crafting them out right now just seems….overwhelming. So, for a bit, I thought I’d write some reviews. Not that they don’t take time and energy, but they are less labor intensive for me, at least. And I like sharing my opinion on things, so why not?
I’ve thought about this for a bit. About two years ago now I volunteered to help out one of my work’s locations with therapy while they were low staffed. It meant having an hour one way commute for about 9 months. (It was supposed to be three, I was supposed to get paid for travel, I won’t be volunteering again!) During that time, I started getting into podcasts more seriously. I had been listening to Welcome to Night Vale for a while already, probably 2-3 years at that point, but I wanted something more to keep my attention. And since then I’ve gathered a healthy collection of podcasts that I enjoy, some I dislike, and some I’m still figuring out. While I’m sure there is no dearth of podcast reviews on the internet (I bet you there’s even a podcast of podcast reviews!), I figured why not add my voice to the din. It’s my blog, after all.
So, I’m going to be sharing my thoughts. I’ll only review something I’ve at least listened to three episodes of, because that’s generally my mark for determining if I’m going to keep listening or not. Most of the ones I’ll review I’ve listened to much more, but there may be some outliers. I figure I may as well be trendy and come up with an interesting rating scale, so I’m going to base it on how likely I am to listen.
- Top of the Queue – For podcasts that are so good, a new episode preempts whatever else I’ve been listening to.
- Always up-to-date – I know listening will be good, and so I’m definitely going to listen within the week so that I can be ready when the next episode is out. A few standouts may jump ahead of it in the queue, but I’m not going to miss it!
- I’ll get to it when I get to it – I find it interesting, but I’m not captured by the story or waiting anxiously for the next episode. It may get shuffled lower in my queue a few times, but I eventually get caught up.
- If there’s nothing else – For those podcasts I keep around with the idea that, if I finish listening to everything else, I’ll go back to it. Something redeemable, but not that engaging.
- Unsubscribe – Pretty self-explanatory. There are some that I’ve listened to and decided it just wasn’t for me. Time to hit the unsubscribe button, because I’m not interested in going farther.
So, be looking for those to hit the….internet. I guess. I have a few already done that I will be adding, probably on a weekly basis. Tuesday seems a good day to drop a podcast review, right?
They all have roughly the same format, and so I hope to be able to continue as I add more podcasts. My review list is already….23 podcasts long. And I guess if someone is actually reading this and you put out a podcast, you can let me know. No guarantees, but I can usually manage to listen to a few episodes and spew my unsolicited opinion. 🙂
And, fingers-crossed 2019 bring a little more time to write. You know, with an infant and all….
Hello! I hope 2017 is off to a great start for everyone. I have a few things coming down the pipe on here, so I thought I’d post a short update.
First, I wanted to highlight two additional narrations for Devil in the Details. The first is a Youtube narration by Khostic, which you can listen to here! The second was part of a podcast by The Mad Catter (got to say, I love the name!), and you can catch it in episode 105 on SoundCloud here.
Going forward, I’m going to create a page that lists narrations just to keep them organized. It also allows me to more easily link between stories and narrations, so you can find audio when you want it. Again, I am so grateful for those who have taken the time to record things I wrote! It’s really been a great experience. If anyone is interested in narrating any of the pieces I have on here, just send me a note on the contact form and give me the info when it’s posted so I can give you the credit!
So, for this year, I have some things I’d like to accomplish. First, I plan on starting up a short series on writing tips covering various topics that I find come up when I’m doing beta-reading. I’m, of course, no expert, but I have a few years experience writing and getting solid feedback, so I’d like to pass along that information. And hopefully generate discussion with some of you as to what you agree and disagree with me on. I look forward to sharing what I’ve learned and learning from you as well! If you have topics you’d be interested in, leave me a comment or let me know, and I’ll see what I can put together.
Additionally, I want to continue with Milgram. I’m really enjoying that story arc so far, and I hope I can smooth out some of the issues to finish it strong. Right now, I’m considering it a much longer piece, moving out of short story realm and towards novella. But we’ll see what twists and turns my writing process takes.
I’ve also enjoyed doing some longer pieces, even longer than my admittedly wordy short stories. I’m trying to figure out a good balance. Because I really still enjoy the shorter, one-off stories as well. I also enjoyed the 13 Stories of Halloween, so I might try to work in more shorter, consistent writing events like that. They are a bit stressful, but I also really enjoy the end product.
Well, all that to say Happy New Year! Thank for reading, and I hope I can continue to entertain you throughout 2017!
I am so excited about these narrations and the communities around them. What a great creative outlet! I’m always amazed by how people take these, put their own spin on it with sounds, music, and images, and create something wonderful. Not only that, but it also gives all kinds of people more ways to get exposed to different stories and styles. Having really gotten into podcasts recently, I like the idea of being able to listen to a great creepy story, because the experience is so different compared to reading. And the people who make them put so much work and energy into them! So, I’ll continue to post and share about these as they come in. If you like to make narrations, please let me know if you ever want to narrate something. I’m almost always game!
Hello there! I just wanted to drop a quick note to let you know about an absolutely fantastic youtube video (<– click here)! Okay, I’m being a little boastful because someone took Barter and narrated it. Natenator77 contacted me shortly after Barter was posted and asked to put together a narration. I’m excited to say it’s done! A lot of different narrators came together to take this story and bring it to life. I’m so excited to see different people using their talents to all tell scary stories in their own ways. And it’s pretty cool hearing someone read my story! I hope you will give it a listen and enjoy!
Also, if you like the work don’t forget to like and subscribe to Natenator77’s channel. They post high quality work on a regular basis, so I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.
(And sorry for all the exclamation points. I’m excited.)
Hello there! Welcome to the 13 Stories of Halloween in the Attic. I know, it’s not an original concept, but I thought it would be fun. What it means is, for the next 13 days, I’m going to post a short story relating to the season. Being a predominantly horror/supernatural writer, this is kind of like my Christmas. So I thought I should celebrate!
The stories will be short one-shots dealing with seasonal themes. Expect to see classic monsters, trick-or-treaters, jack-o-lanterns, ghosts, and ghouls. Some will be funny, some scary, and most of them a little campy. I have written a few of them over the past two days, and there is quite a bit of variability in the style and tone of them. Hopefully there will be something for everyone! All the stories will be available in the 13 Stories of Halloween tag, so you can catch up anytime. Without further ado, I give you the first story. Happy reading!
“How long do we have to stay here?” Alex asked, his eyes trying to take in the decrepit setting all at once but only succeeding in bouncing wildly from one corner of the room to the other.
“What, are you chickening out already?” His friend Dean threw his backpack onto the floor as he stomped in.
“No, I just—it’s hot out, is all, and this place definitely doesn’t have AC.”
The two boys stood in the entryway to the abandoned house. Like every town, theirs had its haunted house. They were certain, however, that their haunted house was actually haunted. Unlike all those others. A sweeping staircase stretched in front of them and up towards the second floor. There was a room to either side of the entryway, neither decorated in a way to suggest any previous use. Everything was simply covered in a hefty coat of dust and broken glass. The windows had been boarded up, but only after the town hooligans had managed to smash most of them.
Dean knelt down by his bag, the dust swirling around him as he disturbed it. His hands swam through the bag before escaping with two flashlights. He had replaced the batteries before leaving home, and they shone brightly as he tested them out.
“Trust me, Al, you aren’t going to melt.” Dean shoved a flashlight toward Alex, who took it and rapidly clicked it on and off as if afraid it would reject his commands. Dean took a few steps forward, venturing further into the house along the hallway running parallel to the stairs. “Guess we should have a look around?”
Alex nodded and turned his light on. While the moon was large and bright outside, almost none of that light made it past the plywood sheets on the windows. The floors creaked under their feet, obviously unused to being walked on. How long had such a place lain dormant, Alex wondered. There were no signs left of the original occupants. Of course, that made sense. He never understood why the houses in movies and TV shows were always furnished with antiques. He knew enough to know that was like burying cash in a house and leaving the door unlocked.
The hallway led back and into what appeared to be a kitchen. There were old hookups from something, plus the sagging remains of countertops. Dean tapped his flashlight against a hole in the wall. “Someone beat us to the pipes and wiring,” he said with a smirk. Alex just nodded.
There was a small pantry off the kitchen, but nothing inside besides rat droppings and an old pull string light. Despite its rather imposing presence on the street, the house itself was beginning to feel rather cramped. And, if Alex was honest, boring. Hearing the stories, he had expected bloodstains and skeletons, maybe some screaming ghosts and at least a general feeling of unease. But it felt like an abandoned house. Nothing special.
Dean took the lead, walking back towards the entryway. The two rooms off the entrance were large and open. One had a fireplace in the middle of one wall, the brickwork crumbling away. Dean shone his light inside it and leaned close to inspect what was left. Expecting perhaps some charred bones or the remains of a secret diary, he was disappointed to find nothing more than some burnt newspaper—probably from the last bum seeking shelter—and bird droppings.
“Well, this is a bit of a letdown,” muttered Dean as he rose back to full height. Alex leaned against the opposite wall, his flashlight off and bouncing softly against his knee.
“I did expect something a little more interesting from the scariest house in Four Clovers,” agreed Alex.
“Yeah, I’m pretty sure my Aunt’s house after chili night is a lot scarier than this old place.”
“But I’m guessing you still want to stay?”
Dean looked at Alex as if he were the dumbest person in the room. “Of course,” he said, stating the obvious, “it’s a dare, isn’t it? We have to stay until after 3:00am. The Witching Hour.” At the last phrase, he flipped his light up so it cast his face in shadows, taking one long, stalking step towards Alex. It was less effective than he hoped.
“I bet the asbestos in here is terrible for cell service, too,” bemoaned Alex as he slid down the wall and pulled his phone from his pocket.
“I don’t know if that’s how that works,” stated Dean, “and either way, we still have to check upstairs.”
Now was Alex’s turn to return the stare. “I’m sorry, upstairs? Have you seen the state of this place? You go up there, you will fall back through the floor. And I’m not carrying you to the ER for a busted leg.”
“We can’t just half explore the house.”
“We can. We agreed to stay here, not choose it for our summer home.”
“Oh, come on, what if all the scary stuff is upstairs?”
Alex made a show of leaning away from the wall and out the doorway, just far enough out so that he could barely look up the staircase. “You’re probably right, bro. I bet the ghosts like to hide up there. But hey, we wouldn’t want to scare them.” He returned to typing on his phone, probably telling Amy how much of a bust Dean’s Halloween plans turned out to be.
“We said we’d take a picture in the attic. They’ll never believe us without it.”
Alex sighed and rolled his eyes, then pushed himself to his feet. He grumpily shoved his phone in his pocket and retrieved his abandoned flashlight. “Fine. We’ll go to the attic. But if I fall and die, you have to deal with my parents.”
The two slowly started up the stairs. They groaned and sagged a bit, but none of them gave way as they stepped carefully up one at a time.
“This is what my grandpa calls true craftsmanship,” said Dean with an exaggerated smile. He eagerly stomped once, twice, three times on his step, which responded with a hollow thud.
“Just climb the stairs.”
The landing branched off to three bedrooms, with a fourth door closed at the end of the hall. Alex walked toward the closed toward and supposed staircase to the attic while Dean turned the opposite way.
“Dude, attic?” snapped Alex.
Dean shrugged and continued on his way. “If we’re up here, we might as well check out the rooms. I think this one,” he waved his flashlight at the open room at the end of the hall, “was where the father murdered his daughter and her boyfriend.”
Alex waited, hoping he could call the bluff, but Dean vanished into one of the rooms and did not reemerge. “Dean?” he tried after a few seconds of silence. No response.
“Dean? Come on, did you fall in or something?” Alex began taking slow, measured steps down the hall, leaning against the all as he tried to peek into the bedroom. But Alex was nowhere to be seen.
“It’s not funny. Come on, let’s go to the attic!” Slow and steady, he made his way down the hall and found himself face to face with the doorway. He leaned around the doorframe and spotted Dean, face pressed against the intact glass of the window.
“What are you doing?”
“I can see in the Davis’s house from here. They’re watching Saw tonight.” Alex shoved him, and Dean pulled away from the window with a wide grin.
“I thought you were bored?”
“Can we just go up to the attic? Before this place collapses?”
“Fine,” Dean acquiesced, making their way out of the room and toward the opposite end of the hall. “They say after he killed the two of them, he strangled his wife because she wouldn’t stop screaming. And then his son tried to stop him, but the dad pushed him down the stairs.”
“Yeah, Dean, everyone knows the story. Dad goes crazy, kills everyone. The American Dream.”
“But isn’t it crazy? We’re walking where they died. Those stairs? Those were the ones he threw his son down! That front door? He shoved some neighbor guy’s face through it. I mean, there aren’t any ghosts, but still…”
“Yeah, and when you sit on your couch, you’re sitting where your parents conceived you.” Alex stopped, underlighting his face and waving his free hand about his head. “Isn’t that spooooky?”
“You’re an ass, you know?”
They tugged open the door to the attic, staring up at yet another set of stairs. These were noticeably less dusty, likely, Dean reasoned, due to the closed door. Still, cobwebs hung thick around them.
“Ladies first,” offered Dean. Alex shoved him forward onto the first step.
“No, I insist, after you,” said Alex with a smirk.
The attic was as much of a letdown as the rest of the house. Nothing up the stairs, not even an old treasure trove of discarded junk. Whoever had moved them out took everything with them. Alex snapped the picture with little fanfare, and they began their descent.
“Do you think there’s a basement?” asked Dean, hopefully.
“You can check. I’m going to watch some videos until we can finally leave in—“ Alex quickly checked his phone—“two hours and seventeen minutes.”
“You’re so lame.”
“You’re the one who still says lame.”
They reached the bottom of the stairs and turned the doorknob, but it was stuck.
“So much for craftsmanship,” muttered Alex, giving the door a solid push. It protested, but did not move.
“Let me try. Probably just warped.” Dean put his hand on the doorknob, turning it sharply. He leaned back, then shoved his shoulder into the door. It released suddenly, sending him stumbling out onto the decrepit landing.
Only this time it was different. The dust was gone, replaced by a stylish carpet runner down the middle of the floor. The rooms had doors on them now, and light seeped out from under the far door.
“What the—“ the words died on Alex’s lips. Everything was clean and new, or at least newer than before. Someone was snoring behind one of the doors. “We’ve got to get out of here,” he said when his voice returned, pushing past Dean toward the stairs.
“What do you mean?” hissed Dean. “We’ve been looking for something to happen, and now you just want to leave?”
But Alex was already halfway down the stairs. The door squealed open, then closed with a final thud. Dean stood dumbstruck at his post. Shaking his head, he slowly began walking along the hall towards the door with lighting. The daughter’s door, he told himself. Maybe he could talk to her ghost.
The door swung open quietly, so quietly it did not immediately alert the occupant. She sat at a table under the window, writing thoughtfully in a small journal. He could see her face reflected in the dark glass of the window, a smile on her lips at whatever she was writing down. After a moment, her eyes caught his reflection in the mirror, and she turned with a start.
“Ricky?” she asked, eyes wide with surprise and a little fear.
“Uh, my name’s not—“
“You know better than to come here. What if my dad finds us?” She stormed across the room, peeking her head out the door before closing it quietly.
“My name’s Dean,” he finally managed.
“This is not a time for jokes. My dad cannot know you were here. He didn’t see you, did he?” All the warmth had drained from her face, leaving behind nothing but the very real fear. It seemed to be contagious, because Dean felt it bubbling through his chest as well.
“No, no one saw me. Everyone else was asleep.”
“Good, then you’ll just climb out the window and go home. We’ll talk at school.” She grabbed his hand and practically dragged him across the room. The window squealed in protest as she raised it, and they both froze. Nothing but silence in the house.
She released a small sigh, followed by a half smile. “Don’t pull something like that again,” she said as she kissed him softly on the cheek.
Dean got one leg out the window before the silence exploded into noise. The door to the room flew open, an angry giant of a man filling the frame. He crossed the room in what could have been no more than two long strides, grabbing Dean by his shirt and dragging him back into the room.
The two eyes that glared down at him were bloodshot, and the smell of alcohol rolled off of him in a tangible wave. “You think you can come into my house?” he roared, angry enough that spittle coated Dean’s face.
Dean’s lips were moving, trying to get words out that would solve the problem. But nothing besides air made it through.
The eyes moved from Dean to the girl cowering beside the window. “You think you can whore in my house?” he bellowed. She covered her face defensively, a tiny sob escaping her lips as she prepared for an incoming blow. Instead, the man threw Dean like a rag doll against the wall.
“I guess I’ll have to teach you both a lesson.”
Alex waited outside, breathing heavily as he eyed the once again dark house. He was not sure what he had seen inside, but something had happened. It wasn’t until he made it off the porch that everything returned to its prior state of disrepair. But, Dean had not followed. And now, he paused and listened closely, he imagined he heard some mumbling voice.
The mumble grew until it was a definitively audible roar from the back corner of the building, accompanied now by a wet smacking noise that he could not place. It made his skin crawl, and his concern for Dean shot up a few more degrees.
Then someone screamed, a brief and piercing noise that cut off halfway through. The silence after was deafening. This was a prank, Alex assured himself. Dean must have recorded some spooky noises and saw this as the perfect opportunity to scare him. There probably hadn’t been a dare after all. He expected some new effect after the scream was silenced, but there was nothing for a minute. The silence stretched.
Alex walked back up the stairs of the porch and tentatively turned the door knob.
“Dean?” he asked as he gently opened the door and stepped inside.
The door opened onto a lovely furnished entryway, this time. In shock, he felt the door slip form his hand and fall gently closed behind him. Alex looked up along the stairs to see a young boy kneeling and crying, as some dark shadow paced from down the hallway. The boy sobbed and screamed in terror. Then, in a fluid motion, the shadow grabbed the boy by the neck and flung him down the stairs, almost as if discarding a dirty rag. The body bounced about halfway down the staircase, rolling the rest of the way to land at Alex’s feet.
He was rooted to the spot, eyes wide. His mouth opened and closed like a fish, and he felt just as breathless. “Do not meddle in my business,” roared the shadow at the top of the stair. It suddenly barreled down the stairs, taking them two or three at a time. Alex felt his muscles free in time for him to spin to the door, hands scrambling for the knob.
Just as his fingers wrapped around the doorknob, strong fingers wrapped around his skull.
“It’s my house!” growled the man from the stairs, punctuating the statement with a knock on the door using Alex’s head.
“It’s my family,” he added, giving another firm knock.
“I’m the man—“ the world was grey and full of impossible pain for Alex with the third knock—“of this household.”
The man’s fingers seemed to seep into Alex’s skull know, pressing on his brain from all sides until it felt like it was simply going to explode.
“I will. Be. Respected,” he growled, each word punctuated by another rapid conference between Alex’s head and the door.
Alex welcomed the relieving darkness, the man’s word turning into nothing but mumbled nonsense. The pain faded as he got one last glimpse at the outside world before that massive hand pulled his head back through the door to continue his tirade.
This work by Katherine C is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Just an update, but I have successfully completed the cross-country move and unpacked all the boxes that are getting unpacked. I hope to get some writing done this week as I have it off, and then get back to a more regular schedule once I start my job (with regular hours!) and no impending moves from one side of the US to the other. I will also be getting caught up on emails and editing requests, so apologies for delays. Thanks!