Forgotten buildings and towns are what drives my settings in stories. These are the ruins that left behind old souls. These are the places that hold secrets--both good and bad, scary and sad.
And this is what I write about.
I'll confess something rich: One of the biggest reasons I started the October Series is because most - if not all - of the entire teenage experience sets in motion events that shape young adulthood.
October Syndrome was a brief glimpse into the lives of 4 confused, anxiety-ridden, and complex teenagers. I love the dynamic between best friends/brothers Catch and Todd. They are two of the strangest boys you'll ever meet, but they are also polar opposites.
But even in the throes of October Syndrome, you see some cracks forming in their seemingly solid relationship. Catch is the Herculean jock while Todd looks like a nerdy Harry Potter wannabe. And, just like in real life, Todd struggles with feelings of insecurities while standing in Catch's shadow. Those feelings are heightened when (spoiler alert) Catch develops feelings for Todd's #1 girl crush, Sully.
It's a defining moment for Catch as much as it is for Todd. And the crack in their brotherhood foundation is even deeper when October Weeping begins.
While Book 1 focused on Catch and Sully's budding romance (while stuck in a haunted house), Book 2 is all about Todd and Sully's best friend, Naomi, as they spend a night investigating an alleged monster haunting a shopping mall. I love the friendship between Todd and Naomi. And in OW, they definitely need each other.
Naomi is 17 now. She's struggling with her sexuality. Her single mother is getting married. Of all the constants in her life, her mother's been the biggest. And learning to accept this new dynamic - as well as struggling with the end of her relationship (big spoiler alert!) are just a couple reasons why Naomi winds up spending Halloween night with Todd.
Todd acts out of character by 'borrowing' Catch's car and venturing out on an adventure. It's the first time he's acted out against Catch...and his mother...and there are weighty repercussions in his actions that actually set a new pace for the series.
Maybe that's what's so original about the series. I don't think of anyone as the "main" hero or heroine. Each individual has their own story to tell - and it started in Book 1 with October Syndrome and builds up to more tension and conflict in October Weeping.
A final note: I appreciate all the wonderful readers who took time out to read the series opener, and who hopefully stay along for the next chapters. The feedback on Goodreads is phenomenal, so again, BIG THANK YOU!
And if you have any questions or feedback, feel free to email the intern: firstname.lastname@example.org
Release date is set for Halloween for October Weeping!
Volume 2 goes live on HALLOWEEN!!! Here's another sneak preview:
freedom! Naomi was in the car and out of the parking lot when
she spotted the old abandoned mall across the busy street. It looked like a
graveyard to the past. A thin layer of fog made the giant compound look even
eerier. She had spotted it earlier—when they had first arrived at Madame
LeGrand’s—but she hadn’t quite soaked in the scene.
shopping there with Lucy when she was in Kindergarten. She remembered the
courtyard that sat open in the middle of the complex. There was a garden of
flowers—red, white, and blue. A small marbled pathway led to outdoor seating.
She remembered how fragrant those flowers were. She loved those flowers. They
were happiest flowers from a perfect memory with Lucy.
Not like those ridiculous
wedding flowers that just smelled like something she didn’t even understand.
it was nostalgia that made her pull into the empty parking lot. Or just the
need to hold on to a moment that would never happen again. Before her life—or
more correctly, her mother’s life—changed forever.
smirked when she caught sight of an old Buick parked near the front
entrance—with a GHOST HUNTING FOREVER bumper
sticker plastered on the back windshield. “Thornwackers.”
She whispered with a smile. And without hesitation, she parked beside the Buick.
October Weeping will go live on Halloween -- and it's a fun and suspenseful ride into another Thornwacker paranormal adventure. Truly, I love this story. It's a great continuation of where October Syndromeleft off, only this time the plot centers around Todd and Naomi.
October Weeping dives into some great mythology about gargoyles, as well as an abandoned mall with a dark history. While the material may sound heavy, the heart is really about Todd's inadequacy as the younger (and not popular) Thornwacker. Independent Naomi is in a similar boat. Confused, angry, and stubbornly defiant, Todd and Naomi delve into a dark mystery together. But fate may have more than just another haunting in store for them.
She watched Todd take a gulp of soda, then follow-up
it up with some more Doritos. In a year’s time, not much had changed about
Todd…with the exception of his toned arms and less boyish voice. But that hardly
mattered. Naomi shook her head, half laughing at her own observation.
seemed to take notice of her sizing him up, unfortunately. He flexed his bicep
and winked at her. “Catch isn’t the only one becoming a man, you know.” Now she
did laugh. Two brothers couldn’t be so different. Catch, the somehow naturally
tanned blonde who looked like he fell out an Axe commercial. And Todd, who
could have been Daniel Radcliffe’s stunt double for Harry Potter. ...If Harry ate junk food 24/7 and ghost hunted.
glanced back up at the gargoyle. It didn’t particularly look like a weeping
boy. Instead, its serpent-like tongue hung out of its mouth, while the eyes
looked as though they were hunting for new prey. An odd wave of hair circled around
the forehead. By all accounts, that thing
was scary. Todd’s story of tragedy hardly measured up against something that
The word came out before she could stop it.
The gargoyle?” She nodded. “Well, gargoyles aren’t supposed to be pretty,
sighed. The sun was setting. The air was getting chillier. “How much longer are
you going to stay here?” He shrugged in response. It occurred to her that
usually Todd was much more animated. He loved being a nerd. He loved exploring
and being the weirdo Thornwacker that everyone expected. But this picnic
spread…it was more solemn than a boy on an adventure. “Where is Catch?”
party with our parents.”
sighed. “I guess some stuffy event in our little town didn’t sound like much
you came up here to…watch the gargoyle?”
grinned at her. “Don’t you have big plans with your girlfriend? Or with Sully?”
winced at his reference to Emma. “Sully is spending quality time with my
mother. She likes romantic crap like weddings and dresses.”
funny.” Todd stated flatly. “Catch isn’t much for dresses and romantic crap.”
know.” Sully reached for more Skittles. “That’s more your style, isn’t it?” She
stopped herself from laughing. Because Todd certainly wasn’t. “You still like
Sully, don’t you?”
doesn’t matter. She made her choice. But it’s the wrong one.”
Most scary/suspense movies I watch reach that fever-pitch level of fear simply awaiting the monster/demon/lunatic to jump out of the darkness. And, oddly enough for me, once the monster is 'seen,' it is suddenly much less scary.
Maybe that's why so many movies depend on that "it's what you can't see" motif. It allows our imaginations to run wild and conjure up all kinds of horrific beings. That evil holy man from Poltergeist II, Linda Blair's possessed character from The Exorcist, and Helena Bonham Carter (she's always been scary to me).
I'm working on a short story for Halloween, and definitely like the idea of what's lingering in the darkness. When I was in college, I had an apartment on the 4th floor of this really old building. The walls and floors were cement, so noises were seldom for the most part.
One particular night, I was coming home from a late shift of bagging groceries. It was a hot September. So hot that even at 2 or 3am, the air was muggy and thick.
Coming home so late, I had to park at what felt like the other end of a football arena. Every step I took, I could feel the sweat dripping down my back. It was irritating. I was already tired. The sweat beads that gathered around my neck just reminded me that I would have to wash my hair again (seriously, long-college-hair was a lot of work).
When I got inside the building, it was pretty quiet. There were no elevators, but 3 sets of wide stairs that took you up to each level. The negative was that coming up the stairs...you couldn't quite see what was just around the corner. A single light would shine at the base of each stairway, but often the one on the 4th floor would be out. Usually, I was too tired to be bothered.
My apartment was the last one on the left, number 49. I'd usually leave the kitchenette light on, which would shine underneath the door. That was enough to guide me through the darkness.
This particular night, though, I paused before going up the last flight of stairs to the 4th floor. The light was out (again). Up above, there was an odd sound--as if someone was dragging something across the floor. I couldn't see anything, so decided I would just 'try' the first or second step. ...Because then maybe I'd be able to make out what the noise was. But upon reaching that second step, the noise abruptly stopped.
I waited probably 3 or 4 minutes. Then I decided it was probably my nerves. Plus I was so tired. So I took another step...just as that dragging sound resumed. I froze; it stopped. My heart was pounding into my ears.
I kept thinking, "Is something looking at me? Is something up there in the darkness just waiting for me?"
That feeling of sheer terror, once you experience it, is truly remarkable. On one hand, you turn on those raw survival instincts--and you've never felt so alive. On the other hand, you definitely don't want to die.
Luckily, my terror was pretty short-lived.
A neighbor upstairs suddenly opened his door, shouted at his terrier, Muffy (who was dragging a doormat across the floor), then picked up Muffy and presumably went back to sleep.
And that was that. I ran up the stairs, saw the light shining from under my door, and reached refuge. A fleeting few moments of absolute fear, and then I was under a cold shower. Life went on.
It's funny how we perceive things...especially in the dark. And it's elements like that that brings out our worst fears. And THAT is exactly what I'm hoping to do next...
After writing October Syndrome, there was a wave of disconnect from what was always close to my heart -- exploring troubled (read: allegedly haunted) locations.
Sunday evening, I drove through old parts of my hometown. Parts that had that enchanting layer of pristine houses next to buildings that were abandoned long ago. The history there, whether you believe in ghosts or not, is still vital. People lived their lives in these places, and maybe that's what pulls me back: these lost and abandoned buildings...and how they are (in many ways) a continuation of graves for the dead.
Another element is actually talking to people who had (at one time or another) connections to these places. And there's always something quirky or off about the connections. Like Hank Jr.'s story.
Hank Jr.'s dad, Hank Sr., grew up in a loft on top of an old sale barn. Hank Sr. married, had children, and raised them in the same loft until 1960. So, what's so special about an old loft on top of a dilapidated sale barn?
Not much. It's just that next to the bed where little Hank Jr. slept was where his grandfather was found dead. Hank's grandfather, it should be said, was little more than 4 feet tall. The cause of death? An abnormally small heart.
The eeriness of the story? Hank Jr. alleges that before the building was "let go", he once found his young daughter upstairs in the old loft (then converted into an office). She was scribbling on the wall "little hearts will kill you."
When questioned about this, the girl replied, "that's what the little man told me."
Hank Jr. closed the sale barn for good in 1970. His father had been dead for nearly a decade. Hank Jr. was an accountant, not a farmer. And no one in the family had any desire to keep the sale barn going -- especially when the county built their own, which was much more modernized (and much larger).
The family still owns the lot where the original sale barn was, though. Hank Jr. says he will eventually tear what's left of the building down. Eventually. His daughter says he's been saying that for twenty years...
There are a couple projects I'm planning on finalizing in the next 6 months...right in time for the New Year (I know -- it's still only June!).
The 2nd short story for October Syndrome will likely be released as a free blog post on this forum (my way of saying thank you). The final odds and ends will be that the Lana Moon Facebook page has been closed.
Why? Because it seemed redundant since the original Facebook page(Moon/Bryant Books) is still gaining momentum. <-- PS: check out the link to those eerie ghost pics here.
That's it for now. More on those end of year projects soon! Thanks for following!
“Can you tell what they’re talking about?” Todd had finished off his M&Ms and trail mix and was starting on a bag of Twizzlers. How he kept so skinny and ate so much was a mystery. “Maybe they’re getting cold feet. Sully looked a little freaked, right?” Todd shrugged. “I hadn’t noticed. Then again, I have noticed you’ve barely taken your eyes off of her." “What?” “You can deny it all you want, Captain Denial, but you’ve been making googly eyes at her all night." Catch scoffed. “Googly eyes? She’s fifteen, Todd. I’m seventeen—” “Is two years so much?” Catch couldn’t believe this conversation was happening. “Toddy, do me a favor and butt out of my love life." “What love life?” Catch smacked him on the back of the head. “Come on, what serious girlfriend have you had, like, ever?" “For your information, Sandy Bayless drew a picture of me once.” “Sandy Bayless drew a picture of you? Why?” Catch’s frustration was building. He rubbed his face and grumbled. “Why’d she draw a picture of you, Jonah?” “Maybe she dug me.” Though saying it out loud suddenly seemed absurd. Sandy Bayless was homecoming queen. And she had been tied to the hip with the quarterback of the football team since freshman year. “It’s not easy being a Thornwacker, is it? Even if you’re a wrestling star.” Catch recalled the times he was teased in school for his parents’...hobby. The yelling, the name calling. The word FREAK had followed him until he joined the wrestling team in junior high--and won. Every. Single. Match. That’s where he and Todd differed. Todd embraced being an outcast. He embraced all the weirdness that went along with being Mary and Sebastian Thornwacker's offspring. Catch preferred being the normal guy...who happened to chase the paranormal at night.