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Blog Share – Stephen King’s Top 20 Rules For Writers

Stephen Kin - The Haunted Pen
Stephen King’s books have sold over 350 million copies. Like them or loathe them, you have to admit that’s impressive. King’s manual “On Writing” reveals that he’s relentlessly dedicated to his craft. He admits that not even The King himself always sticks to his rules – but trying to follow them is a good start. The Barnes & Noble blog recently featured its favorite pieces of Stephen King advice for aspiring writers: 1. First Write for Yourself, And Then Worry About the Audience “When you write a story, you’re telling yourself the story. When you rewrite, your main job is taking out all the things that are not the story. Your stuff starts out being just for you, but then it goes out.” 2. Don...
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Author Interview – J.H. Moncrieff

The Third Degree - The Haunted Pen
Today, I’m pleased to bring you the first edition of “The Third Degree” where I’ll be subjecting authors to grueling interrogations in an effort to discover more about their writing techniques and published work. My first victim guest is J.H. Moncrieff, author of the “GhostWriters” series of supernatural suspense books featuring “City of Ghosts,” “The Girl Who Talks to Ghosts,” and “Temple of Ghosts.” Let the grilling commence. Enjoy the interview! When did you first start writing and what led to your love of writing? Every writer tends to say this in interviews now, so it’s probably a cliché, but I started writing as soon as I could pick up a crayon and string a sentence together. My first ...
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The Winchester Mystery House

Haunted Hotspots - The Haunted Pen
For nearly 100 years, the Winchester Mystery House located in San Jose, California has been Mecca for paranormal investigators, ghost hunters, mediums, and even non- paranormal believers. On February 2, 2018, the house and its chilling past will be attracting increased interest when the supernatural horror movie “Winchester,” starring the wonderful Dame Helen Mirren in the lead role, is released. The Oscar-winning actress plays Sarah Winchester, a grieving, reclusive and tormented heiress to a firearms fortune, has a supernatural compulsion to build a house that to the outsider looks like a “monstrous monument to a disturbed woman’s madness.” The house is a prison, an asylum for hundreds of ...
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Blog Share – The History of Creepy Dolls


While researching the information for my blog post “ The Dread Files – Pediophobia ,” I discovered this superb feature on the Smithsonian website written by Linda Rodriguez McRobbie on July 15th, 2015. In my humble opinion, this feature is too interesting not to share with you as a companion to my “Dread Files” feature. Photo – http://smithsonianmag.com The History of Creepy Dolls Pollock’s Toy Museum is one of London’s loveliest small museums, a creaking Dickensian warren of wooden floors, low ceilings, threadbare carpets, and steep, winding stairs, housed in two connected townhouses. Its small rooms house a large, haphazard collection of antique and vintage toys – tin cars and trains; boar...
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The Dread Files – Pediophobia

The Dread Files
Pediophobia is the perpetual fear or worry of dolls, such as walking/talking dolls or porcelain and china dolls. Despite being safe, seeing a doll makes the phobic person believe that he or she is in some sort of danger. Dolls have been a source of entertainment for children for many years. They often talk to their dolls, name them, sleep with them, groom them, play with them, and some children even share secrets with these imaginary friends. Some children are scared of dolls, so much that they run away at the sight of one. While most childhood cases of pediophobia dissipate as the child grows up, this fear can persist into adulthood. Pediophobia originates from the Greek ‘Paidion’ meaning l...
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Book Review – The Damned by Tarn Richardson

The Haunted Pen - Book Review
First of all, I need to say a few words of thanks to Tarn Richardson. In early November 2017, Tarn held a giveaway on Twitter for a couple of copies of “The Damned” and I was lucky enough to be one of the winners. I also need to add that I’m posting this review because the book is that damned good and not because it was a freebie. Anyone who follows my blog will know I’m not a prolific book reviewer as I feel reviews are not my strong point, so to be writing and posting this shows how strongly I feel about it. “The Damned” is the first book in Richardson’s “Darkest Hand” trilogy. Part Two is titled “The Fallen” and Part Three is “The Risen.” However, before reviewing “The Damned” I need to m...
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My Writing Goals For 2018

My Writing Goals For 2018 - The Haunted Pen
Welcome to January, the first month of a squeaky-clean, fresh-faced and oh so innocent 2018 – a month so packed to the rafters with writing hopes, dreams and goals it’s standing room only. “He didn’t mention resolutions,” I hear you asking. There’s a reason for that. I don’t believe in them. What’s a resolution? I’ll tell you. A resolution is a vow that’s invariably broken by mid-January (if its lucky enough to last that long). Now, replace ‘resolution’ with ‘goal,’ and things take on an entirely different meaning. Resolutions are rigidResolutions are behaviors or actions that either get done or they don’tGoals are dynamic, flexible, and fluidGoals are a series of actions that lead to accomp...
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2017 – My Writing Year

The Mask That Always Smiles... - Dave Burnham, The Haunted Pen
It’s December 29th and it’s time to take a step back and reflect on what I’ve achieved as a writer in 2017. Writing can be a singular existence where it’s sometimes easy to forget what you’ve accomplished throughout the year. So, dear reader (s?), here we go. The biggest highlight was the response to my short story “ The Mask That Always Smiles .” Featuring characters from a group known as “The Circus of the Night,” this story is a departure from my usual style of writing in that it was a lot gorier than normal. The “Circus of the Night” can best be best as the bastard love child of “The Devil’s Rejects” and “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” conceived in a Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey big...
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Happy Horrordays From The Haunted Pen


Have yourself a scary little Christmas… It’s time for a little rest and recuperation here at The Haunted Pen. I’ve just begun a 10-day vacation from my day job and will be kicking back from my writing projects for a few days. I’m looking forward to spending time with my wife and celebrating some of the traditions that make this time of year so wonderful. We’ll also be celebrating the 10th anniversary of the day she said “yes.” I’d like to say a sincere thank you for visiting my website / blog and commenting on my work, it’s really appreciated. If you’ve left a review or recommended me to a friend or loved one, or sent me a message or an email –  thank you, you’ve played a big part in helping...
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Character Traits – Trypophobia

The Haunted Pen - Character Traits
There is all manner of things in the world to be afraid of – death, darkness, clowns, heights, spiders, small spaces, dentists, balloons, and even flutes (yes, it is a real phobia and it is called aulophobia). If that small selection was not enough, thousands of people in the last decade claim to be disturbed or frightened by something that can pop up anywhere…a cluster of irregular holes, bumps or patterns. This is called trypophobia, an intense, irrational fear or disgust of closely packed holes and clusters of circles and bumps, such as those found in pods of lotus flowers, milk foam bubbles on a latte, or the spots on a frog’s back. People who suffer from trypophobia usually feel queasy ...
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Christmas Short Story – He’s Making A List


It’s that time of the year again, boys and girls. It’s Christmas, a time of peace on earth and goodwill to all – yeah, right. It’s the most wonderful time of the year, the season to be jolly, despite being battered senseless by endless repeats of “Elf” on TV. Bah, humbug. On a side note, I really dislike Will Ferrell. I’ve had projectile vomiting sessions from excess Guinness consumption that were more fun than watching his movies. Ah, Christmas, the season of twinkling lights, wondrous looks of excitement on children’s faces, the scent of pine trees, and adding copious amounts of Jim Beam to your eggnog. Best of all, it’s time to roll out the Victorian tradition of telling ghost/horror stor...
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How to Foreshadow Like Alfred Hitchcock


“If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off.” —Anton Chekhov This quote by Chekhov is the basis of foreshadowing. Foreshadowing is a literary device that allows you to plant clues, hint at what’s to come, build the tension, or even place a red herring in your reader’s path. You can use foreshadowing in a variety of ways. The resulting action can be immediate or delayed. You can use dialogue or narrative to set the scene, and you can foreshadow a symbolic event or an ethical dilemma. You can use direct or indirect foreshadowing, and it can even be true or false. Foreshadowing can feed the tension of a sce...
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Halloween Short Story – All…Fall…Down!


According to Wikipedia, Halloween or Hallowe’en (a contraction of All Hallows’ Evening), also known as Allhalloween, All Hallows’ Eve, or All Saints’ Eve, is a spooky celebration observed annually on October 31st – the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows’ Day, also known as All Saints’ Day. It is believed that many Halloween traditions originated from ancient Celtic harvest festivals, particularly the Gaelic festival Samhain; that such festivals may have had pagan roots; and that Samhain itself was Christianized as Halloween by the early Church. Some believe, however, that Halloween began solely as a Christian holiday, separate from ancient festivals like Samhain. Halloween act...
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Celebrating Perseverance in the Writing Community


Today I am happy to be part of Writers Persevere!, an event that authors Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi are running for the next few days to celebrate their release of their newest book , The Emotional Wound Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Psychological Trauma. This book looks at the difficult experiences embedded in our character’s backstory which will shape their motivation and behavior afterward. Because Angela and Becca have spent the last year exploring painful human struggles, they wanted to highlight a very important aspect of overcoming difficult circumstances: it can make us stronger. I promised to let Angela hijack my blog today, so please read on! ***** Hi everyone! When you set...
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Eight Writing Strategies From Stephen King

The Haunted Pen - Eight Writing Strategies From Stephen King
Picture – http://www.guardian.com Stephen King is one of the most prolific and commercially successful authors of the past half century, with more than 70 books of horror, science fiction, and fantasy to his name. Estimates put the total sales of his books at between 300 and 350 million copies. 16 years ago, King shared everything he knows about writing in a book that instantly became a bestseller: On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. Part memoir, part codification of his best writing strategies, the book has become a classic among writers. You don’t have to be a fan of King’s writing to appreciate the wisdom within the pages of this book. Nor do you have to be a novelist: The book has highly ...
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Five Tips for Writing a Horror Story by H.P. Lovecraft


Though the term “weird fiction” came into being in the 19th century – originally used by Irish gothic writer Sheridan Le Fanu – it was picked up by H.P. Lovecraft in the 20th century as a way, primarily, of describing his own work. He also wrote in depth about writing itself. He did so in generally prescriptive ways, as in his 1920 essay “ Literary Composition ,” and in ways specific to his chosen mode – as in the 1927 “ Supernatural Horror in Literature ,” in which he defined weird fiction very differently than Le Fanu or modern authors like China Miéville. For Lovecraft: “The true weird tale has something more than secret murder, bloody bones, or a sheeted form clanking chains according to...
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Scenes From The Haunted Camera – Part Three

The Haunted Pen - Duck River Cemetery
This may seem strange to some people, but historic graveyards can be very photogenic locations offering myriad combinations of history and atmosphere. I don’t consider old graveyards to be spooky, haunting or intimidating. I find they stir strong emotions. Some tombstones are works of art with ornate and lavish sculptures. Or they’re eye-catching due to their design, carvings or lettering. Many older gravestones and statues have a weathered look fashioned by centuries of exposure to the elements. Show the location the utmost respect – this is someone’s final resting place, somewhere sacred. Graveyards represent lives, history and often sorrow. It’s not my intention to talk about my photograp...
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Flash Fiction – The Divine Darkness

The Haunted Pen - The Divine Darkness
The basis of this piece of speculative fiction is a section of text I originally wrote for my short story entitled “Killed By Death.” Reading through the finished first draft, it didn’t really fit into the story but was something I could work on again in the future. I’ve been spending a lot of time recently researching a long-term writing project but also missed the writing process and producing something new. I took the 400 or so words and developed them into “The Divine Darkness.” The antagonist is a fictional demonic entity named “Cizasias.” I hope to develop this character and story further in the future. Anyone who’s a regular reader of my blog posts (or who knows me) will know I’m a bi...
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13 Tortured Tips for Writing a Short Horror Story

The Haunted Pen - 13 Tortured Tips for Writing a Short Horror Story
Are you looking to give your readers the heebie-jeebies with a great short horror story? Writing horror is exciting and enjoyable, so look no further my sick little puppies. Listed below you’ll find 13 tried-and-tested tips for creating ferocious fiction and tales that traumatize. Good luck and, most of all, have fun doing it! “Horror fiction has traditionally dealt in taboo. It speaks of death, madness and transgression of moral and physical boundaries. It raises the dead to life and slaughters infants in their cribs; it makes monsters of household pets and begs our affection for psychos. It shows us that the control we believe we have is purely illusory, and that every moment we teeter on ...
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My Writing Month – April 2017

The Haunted Pen - Two Minutes to Midnight
As I mentioned in my March update, I was about to start a new piece of flash fiction entitled “Two Minutes to Midnight.” I’m happy to announce that it’s finished and can be read on the website HERE . The original influence for the story came from a “The Twilight Zone” episode called “You Drive.” The show was about a nervous and distracted man whose mind is not on his driving. As a result, he slams his 1956 Ford Fairlane into a young boy delivering newspapers on a bicycle, injuring him seriously enough that the boy dies. The man stops, but instead of offering aid, hurries away from the scene. A short time later, the car takes on a mind of its own and rebels against its owner. When he goes nea...
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