Hello Travelers,

Earlier today I had the pleasure of reading a post on Regret. I recommend you check it out, because it’s quite insightful, and even though I’m about to talk about regret too, I’ll never tell you that I have all the answers or that you’re better off following my path than someone else’s.

But as far as I’m concerned, I have few regrets. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve made a lot of mistakes, and I’m bound to make a lot more, but so far, I can name on one hand the times where I look back and say, “I shouldn’t have done this.”

The fact is that if you’re sitting here today as an accomplished professional in any field, you’re here both in spite and because of those mistakes. If you’re wishing that you had done more, then that’s because your mistakes have taught you you’re capable of a lot that you haven’t done yet. Either way, it’s never too late to start (or continue) down the road you’ve always dreamt of walking.

Take me, for example. Five years ago, I was utterly alone, clinically depressed, and trapped in an abusive relationship. I wrote for myself, in what spare time I had, and even though I always said to myself, “I want to be a writer,” I never got around to actually trying to be one.

A little over one year ago, I sat back in my chair and thought, “What a life I’ve lead, and who knows about it? What have I got to show for all that I’ve been through? Those naysayers who said I wouldn’t be a writer… am I going to sit back and let myself prove them right?”

So I began seeking publishing. Before I continue: if you’re just setting out as a writer and have yet to receive any acceptances, keep in mind that my story, while a little more common now in the days of the independent press, is still rare.

It only took me a few weeks for one particularly great publication company to write me back and say, “You know what? We liked this piece and want it in our August ezine” (Not an exact quote, but that’s the spirit of it). Since then I’ve published over a dozen short stories, am working to revise my first novel (which has a tentative “Yes pending revisions” for publishing), am currently writing my second (and more shorts in the down time) and that’s not to mention what editing work I do here and there.

I do, to put it simply, a damn lot of things. I have an advantage of not really having a job, so I do have a lot more time than many, but even an hour of writing a day will eventually yield a novel.

I may go through periods of moody rumination over what I’ve done or let people do to me, but looking back on my past year- on the decisions I’ve made for myself, on the things I’ve done that I know were right- I’ve turned those mistakes into fuel. I’ve made every wrong decision worth it.

I’ve made every wrong decision right.

So remember, Travelers, that life really is what you make of it. No matter how twisted it is, you can always prove the master of the path you take (and all that walking is great exercise). You can’t always choose not to make a mistake, but you can choose not to regret.

Make the most of what you have, because being miserable isn’t going to make things any better.

May the wind be at your back,

A. Chase


My Love Hate Relationship with Film (Part one of many)

Hello Travelers,

Today I came across this video. Be warned that there’s a spoiler alert below, so you may want to see it first (it’s only a minute).

The good: This is an example high-impact psychological horror. A dark ambiance and haunting surreality make this more than worth the viewing. Maybe not 100% original, but it’s on the right track.

The bad: There are already traces of Hollywood horror corruption visible in this filmmaker.

It isn’t horror or even horrifying to have something lurch out and scream as the camera changes angles. It’s surprising at best and, what’s more,  distracting because the viewer is actively threatened by the image, causing them to be thrown headlong back into reality as their brain checks them over, making sure all systems are go.

Please, if you’re a budding artist of the visual medium, think about this: would it be scary on paper? Consider the following.

Jason crept down a deserted hallway, feeling a bead of his cold sweat drip down his spine. The flashlight his brother Jerry had insisted he take began to flicker, and for an instant, he thought about the beeping of the heart rate monitor, and the instant his father had flat lined. He heard a creak and turned back, only for a hideous demon to jut into his view, screaming. 

Did that scare you, Traveler? I doubt it. So why is it ‘scary’ in film? Because the writers and directors feel shock value and an adrenaline spike are worth more than genuinely terrifying creatures and scenarios.

I’m not saying these films aren’t worth their salt, to certain crowds and for certain reasons, but consider Saw- one of the reasons I really enjoyed the antagonist here isn’t because he leapt out of a closet with a Chucky mask and a bloody knife, but because he single-handedly outsmarted everyone in the movie and was so confident he could do so (spoiler!) that he laid on the floor right in front of his victims, then got up and left at the end without a second thought.

Or, if mental horror is not your speed, consider Jacob’s Ladder, which was terrifying simply because you had no idea what was going on and couldn’t really trust the protagonist. Hell, for a while, it looks like he’s the bad guy.

Dracula (the book) was horrifying because it was almost impossible to kill the eponymous vampire and he was getting stronger every day. He had few concerns and didn’t bother trying to kill the protagonists that were trying to kill him because, for the most part, no human posed a threat to him.

Or Frankenstein (Again, book), which held the scare-inducing notion of a man defying god to raise the dead, and that undead specimen then trying to kill his own father because humanity itself was one giant, heartless monster that drove the creation mad.

Perhaps I’m ranting and raving, but I consider myself a bit of an old soul, and I don’t believe that true fear will ever be inspired by loud noises and sudden screen flickers. Disagree with me if you want, or hate me for bashing your beloved slasher films, but I prefer quality terror to cheap jerks and jolts every day of the week.

Comment, share, and do what you will with my diatribe, Travelers, just be sure to send a tweet my way if you appreciate where I’m coming from. It’d be nice to know I’m not alone on this road.

May the wind be at your back, no matter where you turn your eyes,

A. Chase

Dissections 2 by @JosephAPinto @penofthedamned

Hello Travelers,

Once again, we’ve been given a few chilling poems by the incomparable Joseph Pinto. They’re short and sweet, so I won’t spoil your appetite here. Do yourself a favor and check out his newest Dissections, won’t you?

Farewell, friends,
A. Chase

Dissections 2.

The Other by @Sotet_Angyal @penofthedamned

Hello Travelers,

I love the phrase ‘significant other’ for many reasons. One of which is that it implies there are insignificant others, lovers who represent such a small part of our own existence that we could utterly forget about them.

Similarly, it means there are Others who are bound to us with no regard to significance at all. But does that make their existence more or less meaningful? Let’s see what the Dark Angel of Pen of the Damned has to say about that…

The Other.

Down In A Hole by @tyrkieran @penofthedamned

Hello Travelers,

It’s been a while, hasn’t it? These long roads have kept me away for some time as I pursued my various projects. One or two, unfortunately, have been, how shall we say… dead… ends.

However, it is my distinct pleasure to bring you Tyr Kieran’s “Down in a Hole”. At times, we must use all of our power to do what we think we must. But what qualifies as something we ‘must’ do? Is it something that makes us more than human? Or does our doing it make us less so?

Take a moment to see what Tyr thinks of this matter…

Down In A Hole.