Archive for October, 2017

All Hallow’s Read 2017

Posted in All Hallows Read, Horror, Writing in Theory & Practice on October 31, 2017 by Occult Detective


It started on October 23, 2010 with a blog post by Neil Gaiman titled “A Modest Proposal“.

I propose that, on Hallowe’en or during the week of Hallowe’en, we give each other scary books. Give children scary books they’ll like and can handle. Give adults scary books they’ll enjoy.

I propose that stories by authors like John Bellairs and Stephen King and Arthur Machen and Ramsey Campbell and M R James and Lisa Tuttle and Peter Straub and Daphne Du Maurier and Clive Barker and a hundred hundred others change hands — new books or old or second-hand, beloved books or unknown. Give someone a scary book for Hallowe’en. Make their flesh creep…

Give a scary book.

If you don’t know what kinds of books there are, or what would be appropriate for the person you’re giving a book to, talk to a bookseller. They love to help, most of them. (The ones that don’t tend not to be booksellers for long.) Talk to librarians. (Do not plan to give away their books though, unless they are having a library sale.)

That’s it. That’s my idea.

Scary book. Hallowe’en.

Who’s with me?

I, and thousands of others, were and are. To be honest, any excuse to give books as gifts is one worth taking, but I quite like the giving of scary books, as that is, arguably, my raison d’être. The scary part, not necessarily the giving, but I do that too, quite happily and even more so than the receiving end of the exchange for a whole host of messed up reasons that delve back into the annals of time and childhood neuroses.

Anyway. I’m squarely in league with the scary book giving as a Hallowe’en tradition. You should be too. And this year, I believe my family is adopting Jolabokaflod for the Yule season, because, well, BOOKS.

Not familiar? Jolabokaflod or Yule Book Flood is the tradition of gifting books to one another on Christmas Eve and then spending the night reading. The only thing I can think of lovelier than that is All Hallow’s Read, but just because it’s got bats, and ghouls, and spooky things attached.

So, books. Give ’em. For Hallowe’en and Christmas Eve. Hell, I’m thinking of starting a book giving Thanksgiving tradition too… Thanksreading? Booksgiving?

But beyond all that, let me wish you all, my friends and readers, a Happy Hallowe’en and a Blessed Samhain. May all your nightmares come true.

One day till Hallowe’en means it must be Devil’s Night

Posted in All Hallows Read, Horror, Liber et Audax, Occult Detectives, Writing in Theory & Practice on October 30, 2017 by Occult Detective


Devil’s Night is upon us, a night of pranks and mischief. Unfortunately, good-natured fun (corning or soaping windows, smashing pumpkins, toilet papering trees) can sometimes give way to out-and-out vandalism.

Please, if you’re up to some devilishness this evening, do not include arson or property damage into your repertoire. Have fun, but remember — these are your neighbors.


— On another note: I drew attention to the latest issue of Occult Detective Quarterly and my short story “Birds of a Feather”. There was a problem with the issue and the last 800 words or so of my tale were inadvertently absent from the edition. This problem is being rectified and I trust no print copies will make it into the wild sans the story’s conclusion.

If so, please contact me and I’ll email you the rest of the third act and epilogue. Same holds true if you are one of the few who was sent a pdf of the issue.

It’s a story I’m quite fond of and would like to make sure you get to read it in toto.


— Now normally on a Monday night, Connor and I would join some of my oldest and dearest friends in a rousing Roll20 session of D&D, but this week that will not be the case and we’re looking toward spending the night with Kim for a change.

I wonder what sort of infernal tomfoolery will get up to? Only the devil knows for sure, and he’s not telling.



— In closing, a reminder to embrace All Hallow’s Read. Please, give someone a scary book this Hallowe’en.


3 days till Hallowe’en & it’s time to flock together #OccultDetectiveQuarterly

Posted in All Hallows Read, Horror, Occult Detectives, Writing in Theory & Practice on October 28, 2017 by Occult Detective

testDavies stepped back out into the Scottish mist and once more set off across the moor trail, refreshed in body if not in spirit.

He doubled his efforts, cutting a course through the high grass and past the ruins of the old Bradshaw house, of which he scarcely managed to take in the scenic beauty.

The sun was all but gone now and he ached to ascend Cauldron Hill with his wits about him, but by the time he reached the hillside, and the formidable climb ahead, his hip assured him that there would be no fanfare at journey’s end… and the confidence he’d had when he embarked on this fool’s errand had all but fled.

Through gritted teeth he attacked the rise, his hip screaming in protest, his mind full of doubt. He was no warrior, at least, not in the sense that his mentor was. He had killed, and would do so again, not just men, but monsters… so many monsters. But Davies was, at heart, a scholar. Not a man-of-action. Yet, here he was, about to ascend to the summit of Cauldron Hill.

He stopped and took a deep breath, drawing the blade from the cane sheath and, with a silent prayer to the Gods of Ancient Alba, walked forth onto a scene of unfathomable carnage.

Cauldron Hill was awash in the blood of a thousand black birds, of the variety most commonly thought of as vermin by those who make their living by the sweat of their brow, working the soil.

But these crows were not slaughtered by the salt of the earth. No, Davies was sure, this was black magic; as black as it gets.

The preceding text is an excerpt from my short story “Birds of a Feather”, my humble contribution to the Occult Legion collaborative effort that is being serialized in Electric Pentacle Press’ Occult Detective Quarterly.

The latest issue, that includes my tale, is currently available via Amazon, just in time for the witching season’s close.

Freeman_BloodsingsIf memory serves, you’ll also discover some artwork from my pen as well, and a spot here or there of some header and logo work.

The crew at Occult Detective Quarterly are all good chaps, dedicated to the genre, and have put together a fine assemblage of talent, including the always brilliant William Meikle, Brian M Sammons, Alice Loweecy, and Ed Erdelac, to name but a few.

My spot of prose in this issue, I hope, will appeal to all fans of the occult detective school of fiction, but will certainly be of note to fans of my Cairnwood Manor novels, as characters, both good and bad, found within their pages are spotlighted here in “Birds of a Feather”.

What a terrific All Hallow’s Read gift it would make.


Four days till Hallowe’en and magic can still be found in the quiet places

Posted in Liber et Audax on October 27, 2017 by Occult Detective

Kim, Connor, and I made our annual pre-Hallowe’en trek out to the old bones of a Victorian farmhouse. Built in 1879, it was a beautiful home, as recently as thirty years back, but neglect and vandalism have given way to the old girl fading fast. She’ll not be with us much longer, I suspect, but we will continue to marvel over her till she becomes naught but a memory.

1879 BK

1879 1

1879 2

After, we trekked north to one of my favorite places on earth — a place my friends and I called “The Circle of Stone” in our youth.

Located in the heart of the Mississinewa Forest, a hop and a skip from the Dam, the circle is long gone, destroyed by vandals in the late 90s, and the shelter house has fallen into disrepair, but there was no escaping the magic of the place.

The three of us were swept away, enchanted by the majesty of that sacred site that has inspired me for nearly 40 years.

We walked the Lost Sister Trail, stood out by the lake, and let nature sink into our bones.

If felt good to reconnect to a place that had meant so much to me as a young man. It felt even more special now that I get to share it with the people I care most about in this world.



We have a Winner! #OccultDetectives

Posted in Occult Detectives on October 25, 2017 by Occult Detective

A big thanks to everyone who took part in the Weiser Book of Occult Detectives Giveaway, and to Judika Illes and Weiser Books for graciously supplying me with a copy to pass along.

My readers were tasked with spotlighting their favorite occult detective, through art or prose, and I would be then left to sort them out and assess them accordingly.

It was a tough choice. I collected somewhere in the neighborhood of two dozen entries and there wasn’t a wrong answer in the lot <insert cheeky wink>.

I believe the general consensus was that Thomas Carnacki was the favored occult detective with well over a third of the submissions naming him.

Other submissions heralded Dr. John Richard Taverner, Jules de Grandin, John Thunstone, Aloysius Xingu Leng Pendergast, and Levi Stoltzfus, among a smattering of others.

I was surprised there was ne’er a mention of John Constantine or Harry Dresden, two occult detectives I profoundly thought would be in the running, nor did a single female supernatural sleuth make an appearance, nor were there any female submitters.

So, who tipped the scale to win, not only a copy of The Weiser Book of Occult Detectives, but also signed copies of my own Shadows Over Somerset and Occult Detective Illustrated?

It was the only artistic entry… and it buttered my bread.


Congratulations are in order to W.R. Nordstrom who delivered the artwork of my own occult detective, Landon Connors, along with a simple note: “Landon Connors of course.”

Well, far be it from me not to reward such blatant pandering.

Thank you for your entry and I’ll strive to get you your package before Halloween’s dark arrival. Enjoy.

And to all of you who entered, thanks to you as well. I’m sure we’ll do this again in the near future.

Today’s your last chance to enter to win a copy of the Weiser Book of Occult Detectives!

Posted in All Hallows Read, Horror, Occult Detectives on October 24, 2017 by Occult Detective


At the stroke of Midnight, EST, all submissions to win a copy of The Weiser Book of Occult Detectives, edited by the erudite and spooktacular Judika Illes should be in my inbox.

Why do you want to enter this contest? Read my review. Trust me, this is the book you’ll want to be reading Halloween night.

So, what’s the trick to getting this treat? It’s Show and Tell time. Share with me your favorite fictional occult detective, either with prose or picture, but I want to know the why of it.

You will be judged based on the content of your submission. This is open to writers and illustrators. Length is not a factor, but the overall piece will be viewed as a whole. Be creative. Dazzle me with your words or pictures, but most of all I want to feel your passion for the character.

I am happy to accept multiple submissions.

Unfortunately, I have to limit this to folks in the continental US.

Submission deadline is Midnight (EST), OCTOBER 24th.

The winner will receive The Weiser Book of Occult Detectives, a signed copy of my novel Shadows Over Somerset, and a signed copy of the now rarer-than-rare, short-lived Occult Detective Illustrated and have their winning entry splattered across this internet.

Send all submissions to: contest (at) occultdetective (dot) com

8 nights till Hallowe’en & we bid an old friend farewell

Posted in Liber et Audax on October 23, 2017 by Occult Detective


John Hall was rapier smart and an absolutely brilliant musician. He loved to argue, but loved to laugh even more. He was an absolutely unforgettable guy and I will miss him terribly.

John passed away on Friday from complications with his heart catheter. He would have turned 54 on Sunday.

John was just three years older than me, but in high school that seemed like an enormous gulf, especially when I was a freshman. I really looked up to him and the rest of the elder statesmen and women of the Oak Hill Dungeons & Dragons Club.

He never failed to put a smile on my face.

I know he’d been suffering for a long time and I’m glad that suffering has ended for him, but damn it I’m going to miss that guy.


I am thankful that we got to sling dice with him on a couple of occasions a few years back. It meant the world to all of us and to him… It was like no time had passed. We were young lions once more, roaring at the mind-flayers whose dungeon we darkened.

Godspeed, John. I love you, brother. Save me a place at that great gaming table in the sky.

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