Saturday, October 6, 2012

The October Contest

October has always been my favorite month. Something about its arrival adds a spark to my mind, makes my imagination soar. I don't know exactly what the magic of October is, but I've felt that way for as long as I can remember. It could be the end of summer and the cooling of the air, or the sight of the leaves changing color, or maybe the way the night falls earlier and the days leading up to Halloween seem to put that slightly spooky, suspenseful aura in the air, that natural tingle that come somewhere between the end of summer's comfort and the beginning of winter's harsh bite (doesn't it make perfect sense that we, even with our modern conveniences, still celebrate our fear-based holiday at a point in the year when our long-ago ancestors were probably filled with dread and wondering if they would even manage to survive the coming cold season?). I suspect it's really a combination of all those things, but I do love October and all it represents in the life I live now and in my memories of childhood and in the imagination that keeps me dreaming and creating and writing.

Having said all that, the beginning of this October is even better as it coincides with the release of the anthology I mentioned here a few days ago, Something Wicked. This book, my second anthology with Buzz Books, might be the reason some of you are reading my blog today, since this post marks the sixth and final stop on the Something Wicked Blog Tour.

If the blog tour brought you here, welcome! I hope you'll find this post, the other posts here, and my work interesting enough to continue to follow my blog and my books in the future. For those of you who normally read my blog, here's the link to the official contest page that Buzz Books has put up for the release of Something Wicked.

Now, I'd like to share a short piece I wrote recently about what inspired me to write the story that appears in Something Wicked.
When asked to do a story for Buzz Books’ anthology Something Wicked, I had to come up with something worthy of a horror story, something frightening. Of course the old standards of horror crossed my mind: vampires, werewolves, zombies, ghosts, and the other usual suspects, but I wanted something different. I had done vampires recently in a novel and had also just finished a short werewolf story. I wanted something new, so I began to think about things in the real world that seem a little strange sometimes, that make me just a bit nervous, that could potentially find a place in a horror tale.         
            Social media won that contest and the story “Spectral Media” was born. “But what’s so scary about social media?” you might ask. Perhaps it’s not so frightening when not turned into what it is in my story, but it is, along with the other means of communication that have come to prominence in recent years, something that has changed the world more than most people might realize, and those changes are something I have very mixed feelings about.
            I suspect that some of the readers of Something Wicked will be too young to remember what it was like to live in a world where every home did not have access to the internet and everyone did not have a phone with them at all times. It was, in many ways, a very different world.
            On one hand, I love the leaps in technology that have been made over the past few years. It’s much harder to get lost, thanks to the GPS. And if we do get lost or have some other problem, there’s no need to look for spare change and find a pay phone. Email makes being a writer a lot easier and the internet makes research faster than ever before. Facebook and other social media systems have changed things too. I’ve reconnected to a lot of people from the various sections of my past. I now know that my second grade teacher is enjoying her retirement, and that the girl I went to the prom with has a wonderful life with her children, and I get to follow the successes of my fellow writers on a daily basis.
            But, at the same time, I can’t help thinking about some of the things that have been lost to the ever-easier means of communication and information gathering in the world. Yes, the GPS is a wonderful thing, but I worry that it takes away the ability to think about directions and figure out the best route without being guided there. Nobody memorizes phone numbers anymore; just add it to your contacts list and don’t worry about it. The convenience of the internet steals the thrill of having to seek out books from the library to gather information on whatever subject I need to learn about to complete my current writing project.
            And most of all, I can’t help noticing the way cell phones, texting, and Facebook have changed the way most people communicate and relate to each other. Nobody has to wait anymore, and I think that takes away some of the thrill of dealing with others.
            Nobody is ever completely out of communication range with anyone else anymore, and that’s not necessarily always a good thing. A friend of mine recently reentered the dating scene after his divorce. He met someone, they went out, had a good time, parted for the night with a kiss, and he drove home, basking in the glow of a date gone well, looking forward to the next time they saw each other, planning to call her the next day. But she started texting him an hour later, which he felt shattered the afterglow of the evening. They went out a few more times, had fun together, but the constant texting when they were physically apart started to become too much for him. The relationship didn’t last long.
            I remember being a teenager and what it was like to see a girl I liked and struggle for what felt like an eternity to get up the nerve to ask her out, to get her number or give her mine, and then wait for the phone call that might or might not come (or find the courage to call her only to find out she wasn’t home!). There had to be waiting, because we only had home phones then. People were sometimes out of reach of each other. Thought had to go into the timing of calling people. The waiting, as the Tom Petty song days, was the hardest part. That waiting no longer exists now. Anybody can be found at any time with a cell phone call, a text, or a Facebook message. The waiting for that call was a hard, sometimes painful thing…but it was a sweet suspense, because it made the moment when the phone did ring so much more precious. When you didn’t constantly talk via text, seeing each other in person was so much more important. Youth is meant to be full of emotional highs and lows and storms of the heart and the mind. Those difficulties are how we grow up, get stronger, and find out who we really are. I can’t help wondering if social media and our other ways of modern communication have altered that part of a person’s life into something that can never quite go back to the way it was. In gaining convenience, have we lost some valuable experiences? If that’s the case, there certainly is something frightening about the whole subject.
            I look at my own Facebook friends list, and I see people from every possible zone of my life: old teachers, relatives, childhood friends, adulthood friends, coworkers, writing colleagues, editors, a few celebrities, old lovers, people I worked in theatre with, people I used to hate but now like because time heals old conflicts, and many others too. Looking at that cast of characters, I can’t help wondering what they’d say about me if they all got together in a room in the real world and compared notes. That’s what “Spectral Media” is about.      

And now, to conclude this blog entry, I'd like to offer a Halloween treat to those who have come to this blog either after purchasing Something Wicked or who plan to purchase it soon.   
One week from today, I will write down the names of all those who leave comments here on this blog entry (so be sure to include your name!), fold up those little pieces of paper, and pick two names out of a fedora. Once those names are chosen, I'll post the names here with a choice of several of my previously published books, from which each winner can choose one book and have a free, signed copy sent to them once they send their address and  a scan or picture of their receipt from  ordering Something Wicked.  

Thanks to everyone who stopped by my blog today. Anyone interested can find most of my books at my Amazon Author page at  

1 comment:

  1. Great post, Aaron. I love your story and am thrilled you're in the anthology