Not Heavy, but Super-Heavy

Since my favorite types of music, death/black/thrash metal, grindcore, deathcore and hardcore have lyrics about horror, I thought it would be fun to blog about it. You see, I used to think I knew what was heavy, like Carcass and Nile–and I’m not saying they’re not killing it; other bands kill it harder, though–but I’ve come to discover what’s really heavy. Well, all right, those bands are heavy, but super-heavy. It’s just better. I mean, when’s the last time Carcass sounded like Reek of Putrefaction, and when’s the last time Nile has sounded like In Their Darkened Shrines or Black Seeds of Vengeance? So here’s my new list of favorite albums:


  1. Reek of Putrefaction – Carcass
  2. House by the Cemetery – Mortician
  3. Mortal Massacre – Mortician
  4. Chainsaw Dismemberment – Mortician
  5. Darkest Day of Horror – Mortician
  6. Domain of Death – Mortician
  7. Hacked up for Barbecue – Mortician
  8. Gore Metal – Exhumed
  9. Slaughtercult – Exhumed
  10. Panzer Division Marduk – Marduk
  11. Church of the Five Precious Wounds – Repulsive Dissection
  12. Cut Open the Aberration – Repulsive Dissection
  13. Assembled in Blasphemy – The Ravenous
  14. Through the Cracks of Death – Abscess
  15. Wrath of War – Thornspawn
  16. Sanctified by Satan’s Blood – Thornspawn
  17. Cross Species Transmutation – Malignancy
  18. Generation of Hate/Mutilation of God– Dismembered Fetus
  19. Season of the Dead– Necrophagia
  20. The Divine Art of Torture – Necrophagia


Death metal should scare you. If it bores you or puts you to sleep, you’re listening to the wrong groups.

Black Metal: Music of the Possessed

I’ve been sharing my paragraph assignments from Warriner’s Grammar and Composition, Book 3, and this one’s about black metal, which I’ve been listening to more than any other type of music lately. Thankfully, I’ve discovered BM bands that play like death-metal bands, without the clean vocals and keeping the keyboards to a minimum: Immortal, Marduk, Absu, and Thornspawn to name a few. Here goes:


Black metal represents possessed people in look, sound, and attitude. The vocals are pattered after how Regan MacNeil sounded when possessed by the devil in the horror flick, The Exorcist. The corpsepaint the musicians wear resembles the hideous face of Satan that keeps flashing on the screen in the uncut version of The Exorcist. Moreover, The black-metal artists’ hatred of Christ is identical to possessed Regan’s. Therefore, their actions confirm them as being possessed by the devil. First, when Dead of Mayhem blew his brains out, the other musicians, when they found him, decided to take a picture and use it for an album cover instead of calling the police. Then, when a McDonald’s opened in Oslo in Norway, the musicians shot at the business late at night in an effort to start World War III. And black-metal musicians have been known to burn down churches–even if landmarks. BM band members and fans of the Norwegian music committed over fifty arsons of Christian churches from 1992 to 1996. For example, Burzum genius Varg Vikernes was convicted of four church burnings; Samoth of Emperor got sixteen months in jail for church arson; Faust of Emperor, Vikernes, and Euronymous of Mayhem tried to bomb a church, but it didn’t detonate, so they burned the building to the ground. Some of the bands call death metal commercial and use the crappiest equipment possible to come off as being brutaler than anyone else. Finally, in all these ways, they prove black metal is more the devil’s music than any other kind.


Perfect: Nadia Comaneci, Alien or Human?

In commemoration of the Rio Olympics, I thought I’d share a writing exercise I wrote for Warriner’s Grammar and Composition, Third Course. The paragraph is about Nadia Comaneci, who at the 1976 Montreal Olympics was perfect more than once. It doesn’t have anything to do with horror, unless you muse over how human beings can’t be perfect; then I guess it could be a sci-horror paragraph about Nadia being an alien. But she wasn’t an alien, so that doesn’t work. Anyway, if you’re a fan of the Olympics-which is a hell of a lot better than watching my baseball team, the Chicago White Sox, lose and lose and lose again–you should enjoy this. It may mean nothing to most people, but when I watched her steal the show in ’76, I was so in love with her when I was thirteen. On an interesting side note, the scoreboard manufacturers were told an athlete getting a perfect score was impossible, so they scored her 1.00 instead of 10.00, at the Olympics and the competitions before the Olympics. Here we go:


The Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci is the best female Olympic athlete ever. She garnered a perfect score at the tender age of fourteen and earned eight perfect scores in all. She had to do that, for the Russian judges were prejudiced against Romanians back then. Therefore, it was the only way Nadia could win. She won three gold medals in Montreal in 1976, then two more in the 1980 Olympics in Moscow. Over the Olympics, world championships, European championships, and summer university games, Nadia won twenty-one gold medals, seven silvers, and two bronzes. The Olympic gold medals were for the balance beam–twice–uneven bars, floor exercise, and all-around. Only Mary Lou Retton was perfect again, for that’s supposed to be impossible for humans. No one did it as much as Nadia, however–not inhuman, but insanely talented.

Great, Free Horror eBooks

Admit it, great books are hard to find in any genre, but especially horror–thanks to all the “authors” way-past-overdoing vampires and zombies–and if you do find them, you’ll probably have to pay too much, as is the case with any recent eBook by Stephen King or Joe Hill. Over ten dollars for a digital book is just greedy and unfair. Therefore, let me make it easier for you to find great, affordable horror.


Nobody knows better than me how hard it is to not only find a great horror novel, but also to come across the rare jewel of an excellent horror film that, holy crap and miracle, actually scares you (Holidays, V/H/S). In past posts, I’ve made it easier to find great horror movies. Now I’m going to fill you in on the terrific free horror novels. It’s common knowledge that most of the books by the olden-day horror authors are free (unless you want a good cover), i.e. Lovecraft, Shelley, Poe, Blackwood, James (M.R.), James (Henry), Stoker, and Le Fanu, so I won’t list those. Just the modern ones.


The Familiar–Benjamin A. Sawyer (This one draws you in with great characters.)


The Taste of Fear–Jeremy Bates (See above.)


Green Lake–S.K. Epperson (Quite creepy in that stalker kind of way.)


Possess–J.A. Howell (This one and the 1st sequel–which isn’t free–will creep you out. After that, the series [ugh] turns into romance [more ugh].)


Pure Evil–Jesse Bastide (Horribly disturbing in a get-under-your-skin kind of way.)


Rushed–Brian Harmon (Just a great, original horror tale; the world needs more of these!)



You’re welcome.




Alone Is Better: the Life of Emily Dickinson

I wanted to share an assignment for Warriner’s Grammar and Composition, Third Course that I’m fond of. It’s a paragraph about the life of Emily Dickinson, my hero, because she got rid of people. Let’s face it, with the exception of your parents, no one really has your best interests at heart. People are more trouble than they’re worth, and I’m a notorious loner. You can go ahead and call me the extreme-metal version of Morrissey.


I don’t care if nobody reads this blog, either.


Here’s the assignment, after I revised and edited it as much as I could:


“Alone Is Better: the Life of Emily Dickinson”


How could the best poet of all-time have been a recluse? Because she experienced life on a deeper level than those with people around. Some of her loner lifestyle wasn’t her doing. She had many fast-disappearing friends found through family. Eventually, she came to the conclusion that she bore an intensely-lived private life no one else could share or comprehend. Surprisingly, Emily never had the desire to publish her poetry. It was found after her death and published, never to be rivaled by “people who need people who are the luckiest people in the world.”


Great Smashwords Deal on My Newest Novel

The Not Smaller Size Image

My newest novel, The Not, is now available on Smashwords.com for $1.50 instead of the usual $2.99. It’s part of a promotion they’re doing called the Summer/Winter Sale, which ends July 31. I’m not sure why it’s also called a “Winter” sale, unless they’re doing the ever-popular “Christmas in July” thing. Anyway, it’s a great time to get a deal on the book I released in December, if you haven’t already read it.


Here’s the code to get it for $1.50: SP97D Here’s the link to my profile on Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/AlanRBraun (Copy and paste it into your browser.)


It’s a sensational introduction to The Not. And hey, it’s an eBook, so why should you pay too much for it? For the impatient (thanks for your kind and amazing interest in my fiction!), I’m working on getting my next novel published, so I have no idea when it’ll be out. But if I have to self-publish it because of no agent or publisher interest, then it should be available around Halloween. I wish it could be faster. Yet I edit ten times–sometimes more–and of course try to get it published so it will sell well and have a movie version. Anyway, enjoy the sweet deal! I hope you have as good of a time reading my novel as I had writing it!

That’s Called Lying

I’ve seen certain self-published authors make up a fictional publisher and give it a name, to avoid what many see–and shouldn’t–as leprosy: admitting your book is sold by Amazon Digital Services. They’re afraid that if potential readers know it’s self-published, they’ll avoid it like the plague. I can’t believe there’s still a stigma against self-pubbing in 2016 but, apparently, it remains. Therefore, they outright deceive potential readers by tricking them into thinking they’re published. I can’t believe, with how many self-pubbers have become bestsellers, that this is still done. Again, agents turn down a lot of books they like because they don’t think they can sell them. If a self-pubber hits the bestseller list on Amazon anyway, good for him or her.


My issue with it is for an obvious reason: it’s lying, and that’s wrong. It’s not the kind of relationship I’d set up with potential readers. Maybe it is leprosy for most self-pubbers that aren’t the lucky few that make a good living at this, but I’m still not selling my soul. And what if readers find out you’re not really published? What, lie again? That’s what I was taught in high school, that one fib leads to another.


If an excellent horror author such as Sam West can admit his books are sold by Amazon Digital Services, so can I. It may just be an opinion, but at least I’m not insulting the intelligence of my readers.


There, that’s off my chest.



Some More Nuts and Bolts of Grammar

I’ve decided to take grammar Nazism to an extreme this week by teaching how to subjugate verbs in all six tenses. I know how much panic this statement can cause, from hair-pulling to all-out screaming. But I’m here to show you that, once you take it on, hardcore grammar isn’t as bad as it seems. Most dreads aren’t when faced.


Being a horror author, I’m going to use “hack,” an extreme verb, as in “hack and slash.” Let’s go!


Present tense: “I hack people up.” This shows the act happening regularly or permanently.


Past tense: “I hacked people up.” Shows I already did it.


Future tense: “I will hack people up.” Something that hasn’t happened. Yet.


Perfect tense: “I have hacked people up.” Did it not too long ago or at a certain time in the past.


Past perfect tense: “I had hacked people up.” Came right before another act.


Future perfect tense: “By tomorrow, I will have hacked up my girlfriend and her lover.” Acts that will come before other future acts.


That’s pretty much it, something you can do with any verb, especially if you’re a writer and need to know your grammar and syntax, or as an exercise in self-torture. Either way, it’s bound to be satisfying! Let’s see if you can guess how to subjugate “slash” in all six tenses. Come on, you can do it! I’ll even give you the first one.


Present tense: “I slash people.”


Past tense: ___________ Remember, it shows you already did it.


Future tense: _________ Remember, it’s something that hasn’t happened yet.


Perfect tense: _________ Remember, you did it not too long ago or at a certain time in the past.


Past perfect tense: __________ Remember, it came right before another act.


Future perfect tense: __________ Remember, acts that will come before other future acts.


Did you ace it? Good for you! Not sure? Here are the answers. I practically gave them to you:


  1. I slash people.
  2. I slashed people.
  3. I will slash people.
  4. I have slashed people.
  5. I had slashed people.
  6. By tomorrow, I will have slashed my girlfriend and her lover.

Oh, you’re right. This is cruel. I’m a sadist as well as a grammar Nazi, I admit it.



Some Nuts and Bolts of Grammar

All right, so it’s the least fun part of being a writer, but we all must know it, so let’s clear up some grammar misconceptions and errors I’ve seen even in published novels, as well as self-pubbed ones:


1. There is no such thing as a four-dot ellipses:


The way ellipses points are written varies upon style. You can use three dots with spaces around all the points . . . the way I write it, or together with spaces in front and in back of the points … which some prefer. But one thing that’s universal: there are never four ellipses points: that’s an ellipses with a period. Ellipses points are for pauses in conversation (“Hey, what are you . . . ?”) or for added emphasis at the end of a sentence (If I’m going to die someday, why not get it over with. . . . ). You’ll see both ellipses points alone and ellipses with a period in novels by the greats, and I’d learn when to use which if I were you.


2. Don’t start your sentence with “However” just to do it:


The only time it’s acceptable grammar-and-syntax-wise to use the word “However” at the beginning of a sentence is when you use it in the sense of “However way you want to do this.” It may not seem important to you, but Joe Hill knows it. I’ve read most of his novels, and he uses it correctly. He also writes for one of the big-five publishers.


3. Use a hyphen for compound adjectives, but not for all of them.


I’ve seen this a lot in critique groups, the reluctance to use a hyphen for compound adjectives. But not all C.A.s use the hyphen, so consult a dictionary, or watch how famous authors do it. It’s an important-but-thankless job to use grammar and syntax correctly.


4. Don’t use bold or all-caps in a novel you’re pitching to agents or publishers:


I know, you’ve seen it done in published novels; so have I. But that doesn’t mean it won’t hurt your chances at publication and getting paid well for your art. We’ve all seen those uber-gifted authors who can break the writer rules–my favorite is Gary A. Braunbeck’s run-on sentences that seem to go on forever–but with a novice trying to get discovered, it’ll look sloppy. Basically, if you’re writing in all-caps, you’re yelling, and you can even get in trouble for it in some critique-group forums. It can be done in a better way. By that I don’t mean use of ass out of exclamation points; agents and publishers hate that, and I’m not seeing it done in my favorite writers’ books. I mean like so: “Get off my foot,” she yelled. And no bolding is a given; if you let loose with bolding, what’s next? Headers? Bullet points? A fluffy font? Control yourself!


That’s enough for now. We’ll delve into more Grammar Nazi lessons later.

Great Horror on Netflix

I’m beyond grateful for John of the Dead’s blog about the best horror films on Netflix: http://johnofthedead.com/2015/02/11/the-best-horror-films-on-netflix-instant-streaming/ I’ve found a good number of movies he didn’t mention, however, and I’m going to list them now. You’re welcome.


  1. Last Shift

A new female police officer has to deal with Manson-Family-Type ghosts, and you know right there that it’s going to be nasty. Talk about on-the-job training, or a crash course! Creepy and eerie are understatements for this one.


2. Contracted

I hate to include a zombie movie here, but this one comes at the old Z tale with a fresh take, and I feel it’s worthy. You get to watch the progress, after the undead virus is spread as an STD. Bet some chicks became nuns after seeing this one!


3. Kristy

Haley Bennett’s come a long way since playing Cora Coleman in Music and Lyrics, but almost ten years later, she still looks young enough to play a college student. This time a murderous cult’s after her with this catch phrase: “Kill Kristy, kill God.”


4. V/H/S

Get ready for nightmares. Crooks find a corpse and a stack of VHS tapes, and they’ll soon wish they hadn’t. Spookier movie than most.


5. Inner Demons

A straight-A student who knows the Bible better than anyone in the area–except maybe the pastors–has come down with a drug problem. But she’s getting high to keep back her demon, and when intervention time comes, watch out!


6. Alien Abduction

All right, let’s tell true: it’s our worst fear, the A-word. And it comes true in this flick that’s guaranteed to make you jump.


7. Oculus

A brother and sister are back to the old house after the bro’s released from the mental home, for revenge against a supernatural mirror, and not one to be messed with. After all, it killed their parents.


8. Stung

Insects from hell are on the rise in this one. Two young caterers attempt to thwart the monsters, but can they succeed?


9. 88

If you love Katherine Isbell, as I do, you’ll fall for this one. A woman awakes with amnesia, and the journey to memory takes her on a revenge-filled hell-on-earth.


10. Apartment 143


The paranormal-investigator-finds-poltergeists story unfolds in an apartment this time, and with horrific results. Get ready to flinch.


Bonus: DVDs


I had to include a couple of movies you can get from Netflix DVDs, because they’re mandatory:


  1. The Other

Simply one of the best horror stories ever, Thomas Tryon’s novel comes to life in this movie, sure to be a mind-fuck.


2. It Follows

This actually isn’t a zombie movie–it’s way better. Again with the STD plot, in this one you can give the virus away…if you have sex with somebody else and have no conscience.


If you haven’t seen these, have fun. And don’t watch them alone!




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