Monday, October 24, 2016

The Legend of Slender Man

Feels like just researching this...thing opens a door I want to leave closed. I keep looking over my shoulder. Am I going to start seeing him everywhere? Will he drive me insane?

Slender Man is featured often in horror video games and short films. I heard about this creature often but never knew the lore.

Slender Man (also known as Slenderman) is a supernatural character that first appeared on the SomethingAwful forums under a thread titled “Create Paranormal Images.” User Eric Knudsen (a.k.a. "Victor Surge") in 2009 created photoshopped images featuring this creature. Knudsen also created fake "official" documents about Slender Man such a doctor's note recounting ita victims. Afterward, others added Slender Man images and fiction to the forum.

According to lore, Slender Man generally appears as a tall humanoid creature in a black or gray suit, red or black tie, and white shirt. His face is blank, with no eyes, mouth, or clearly defined facial features. He has no hair and his fingers are longer and bonier than a typical human. Slender Man has been depicted at anywhere between 6 and 15 feet tall, depending on the situation, though in videos he's usually only around 6-7 feet tall. No one has yet determined what Slender Man is.

Image Credit: ILL-Zzz
The creature may cause memory loss, insomnia, paranoia, coughing fits (nicknamed “slendersickness”), photograph/video distortions and can teleport at will. Some say he lives in the woods and eats children. He sometimes stalks human prey wherever he can find them: in basements, outside half-open windows, along lonely streets late at night. Some say he has no face. Others say, his face looks different to everyone who sees it.

Anonymous graffiti of the Slender Man drawn on pavement in Raleigh, North Carolina
In some stories, Slender Man has multiple arms, like tentacles, and in others, he has no extra appendages.

Stories of the Slender Man commonly feature him stalking, abducting or traumatizing people, particularly children. He appears in many works of fiction, typically published online. Outside of online fiction, Slender Man impacted popular culture, having been referenced in Minecraft and video games such as Slender: The Eight Pages and Slender: The Arrival.

Beginning in 2014, readers of his fiction committed several violent acts in his name, particularly a near-fatal stabbing of a 12-year old girl in Waukesha, Wisconsin.

Slender Man started out as a few photoshopped images and some bacsktory and took on a life of its own.

Enjoy this horror short film featuring Slender Man

Slender Man | The Slender Man Wiki | Fandom powered by Wikia
The complete history of ‘Slender Man,’ the meme that compelled two girls to stab a friend

Friday, October 21, 2016

The Week in Links 10/21/16: Nintendo, JRR Tolkien, Logan

Welcome to the weekly roundup of links for fellow writers and nerds.

Book Marketing and Branding
11 Ways to Grow Your Snapchat Following

We Asked Writers How A Game of Thrones Changed Fantasy Forever
Exclusive Teaser Premiere: Screamfest Short Film “AGATHA”!
JRR Tolkien's Middle-earth love story to be published next year

19 Beautiful Bookstores You Need to Visit in America: The List List #224 Pokémon Sun & Moon Developer Wants to Add Pokémon Go Interaction The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Gameplay Videos Show Exploration, Survival
Wildlife Photography Tips – Telling A Story

Want to see your post in the next The Week in Links? Email me at The post needs to be published between today, 10/21 and next Friday, 10/128.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Dead Man's Curve: A Twisted Ride

Just the book to get me in the Halloween mood. Man, this story is twisted. And that ending is messed up. I don't like roller coasters but I love a book that'll take me on a wild ride.

Dead Man's Curve gets right into the action and doesn't let up. I'm tired of books that start off with long expositions. It gets boring. This story did not take long to get into the horror. It's a pretty short read. The story's kind of trippy. Terrible, gruesome things happen to and around the characters and you don't know why. You're just along for the ride. I felt a bit lost during some parts but not so much that I wanted to stop reading.

It starts off pretty cliche with teenagers driving home from a party and then getting lost in the woods. There's even the female who becomes useless once all the gruesomeness starts. Dead Man's Curve reminds me of a watchable B-horror movie without the cheese. It doesn't add to the horror genre but I don't regret reading it.

Although I was into the story, I also felt some distance between me and the characters. There are the two main characters who are fleshed out and the side ones who are just there. The two main character were likable. I didn't feel much for the side ones.

The story is the right amount of disturbing. It's not so gruesome that I can't read it again. It's not for the faint hearted. Dead Man's Curve has some light gore but it's...tasteful, if that's the right word for it. Alex Van Tol doesn't rely on it to get the scares across. This story was one twisted ride.

Title: Dead Man's Curve
AuthorAlex Van Tol
Genre: YA Horror (novella)

The road to Hell passes through Dead Man’s Curve.

It’s been two years since Booker broke up with Rachel, and he wants to get her back. Only problem is, he doesn’t realize it until he and his four friends are hip-deep in a deadly nightmare. They've run over a wispy figure on the highway on Halloween night and now something is preying on them, one by one, going after their deepest fears.

Lost and scared in the New England wilderness, the group realizes they’re trapped in their own twisted version of The Blair Witch Project. They're powerless against dark forces. When Rachel's life is threatened, Booker realizes it’s up to him to figure out a way to stop the unholy madness.

If he’s man enough to face it head on.

“What’s with the scrubs?” I ask. Rachel’s wearing them, too.

“The clothes are the least of our problems,” she says. There’s fear in her voice. As she speaks, the light above us flickers. She reaches toward me and pulls my mask down, below my chin.

I look around. We’re sitting against the wall in a long, dim hallway. A few old metal chairs sit askew, tipped over on the dirty linoleum floor. Paint peels from the walls, its faded blue-green leaves curling away from the pinkish concrete below. Several doorways lead off the corridor, but no light comes from any of them. Something hisses through the pipes that run along the ceiling. One of them drips somewhere far away.




Rachel shudders.

“Where are we?” I ask. A pile of broken beds hulks darkly at one end of the hallway, their legs a tangled forest of metal tubing. Heavy double doors block the other end of the hall. A reddish light shines through their round windows. They remind me of portholes. Or windows to hell.

I push the thought away. A bedpan, a scale and an old wheelchair form an obstacle course of abandoned equipment, separating us from the double doors.

Fuck. An old hospital. Far away, deep inside some other part of the rotting building’s bowels comes the haunting sound of someone screaming.

Rachel closes her eyes. “Welcome to my nightmare.”

“Then we need to get out of here,” I whisper. “STAT.” I stand and pull Rachel to her feet. My legs feel like rubber. My hand burns, but when I look at it there is no blood. No scab, even. Just a wide, pale scar across my palm where the cable seared through the skin.

An elevator dings in the wall nearby and I jump, my heart slamming. I hadn’t even noticed it. Rachel gasps and turns toward the sound. An old-fashioned curved display lights up above the doors. An arrow arcs across its face, pointing to each floor as the elevator moves. I watch, horrified, as the arrow shows the elevator’s descent.

Ping! 10.

“What the hell?” Rachel’s eyes are huge. “Why is it moving?”

“I don’t know. But I’m not sticking around to find out.”

“Oh, god.” Rachel’s got my hand in a death grip and she’s not letting go. I’m worried that she’s breathing so fast. They don’t teach you about hyperventilation in first aid. All I know about curing it is that it has something to do with breathing into a paper bag, and I’m not sure where I’d find one down here.

“It’s okay. We’re getting out of here,” I say.

“Which way are the stairs?”

“I don’t know.” I’m getting tired of hearing myself say those words. I rub my thumb across the back of her hand in what I hope is a reassuring way as I look up and down the hallway. Even though things are terrible, there’s something so good about having Rachel with me right now. She gives me confidence. Makes me feel stronger than I actually am. Even if she’s losing her shit, she’s still braver than any other chick I know.

Girl. Any other girl I know.

Ping! 9.

My adrenaline spikes. “What about that door at the end?” I ask, pointing to the circles of red light.

Rachel shakes her head. “I don’t want to go down there, Booker.”

I turn and look behind me, to where all the beds are piled up. “Well, this way is blocked. We won’t be able to move all that stuff out of the way in time.”

Ping! 8.

“We could try.” I can hear the desperation in her voice.

I almost take a step in that direction, but then I realize how ridiculous the idea is. There must be a dozen beds down at that end of the hall, all jammed together in a car-crash of a stack job. And they’re heavy hospital-grade beds, metal frames and all. We’d cut ourselves, or worse, crush a bone. “No way,” I say. “And anyway, who’s to say whatever is behind that door is any safer?”

Rachel studies the blocked doorway. She presses her lips together.

Ping! 7. Her hand tightens around mine.

A born writer, Alex Van Tol cut her teeth on Stephen King novels so terrifying she had to turn them face-down on the floor in order to sleep at night. Alex writes across a broad range of genres for youth and adults, including contemporary, paranormal, historical and, of course, horror and thrillers. She lives between the mists and moody skies of Vancouver Island.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Fantasy and Horror Designs to get you in the Halloween Mood

If I had 5 more hours in the day, I'd still need more time. Don't know why I came up with 5. It seemed like a nice number. I'm trying to get a handle on my schedule. Writing and marketing take up most of my life. Because I'm completely insane (and I'd like to make some money), I added selling my photographs and designs into the mix on top of starting my own business. Yeah, I don't sleep much.

Some things get left behind. I haven't been designing as much as I'd like. 

Last week was Virtual FantasyCon. While thinking of ways to attract people to my booth, I figured I'd design some new images, including a cover redesign, and reveal them at the Con. Apparently, this was the kick in the butt I needed. In the past two weeks, I did some serious designing. 

First up was the cover redesign.

Here's the original:

This was one of the first covers I designed. Since I was still getting to know Photoshop, I made some mistakes. Somehow, I only have this cover at 100px x 200px. That is waaaay too small to do anything with. Photoshop can work magic but it can't make this image larger without it looking like crap.

The cover also looks like it's been Photoshopped. I think the test of a good image is whether or not you can see the seams, so to speak. It was time for a redesign. I also tweaked the ebook.

Amazon |

I created the below images for the Con. If you'd like to buy any of these images, email me at with the name of the design you'd like. 

Lunar Wraith

Blood in the Water

Don't Walk Alone 

Haunted View

 Lightening Kitana 


 Wicked Fire

 I did the following designs exclusively for my newsletter. If you subscribe to my newsletter, you get unlimited use of certain images I created. These aren't for sale. 

Friday, October 14, 2016

The Week in Links 10/14/16: Fantastic Beasts, Wonder Woman, Rogue One

Welcome to the weekly roundup of links for fellow writers and nerds.

Book Marketing and Branding
Authors: Do You Have the Perfect Pitch?
5 Tips to Build More Loyalty With Your Twitter Fans

The best horror movies to stream on Shudder, Netflix, Amazon and Hulu

Anime Feminist Wants To Get Real About Fan Service
Luke Cage Meets Family Matters in this Perfect Mashup!

Want to see your post in the next The Week in Links? Email me at The post needs to be published between today, 10/14 and next Friday, 10/21.