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Valuing the classics, “The Phantom of the Opera”, and “Inkubus”


Hello ladies and gentlemen!  Welcome to the Casa!

I am a Christian.  I don’t hide that fact, but one thing that irked me was when a couple at a church I used to attend told me that I was wrong for liking Stephen King and horror stories in general. Their opinion was that I needed to concentrate on reading classics and focus on more positive stories.  At the time, I didn’t have enough confidence in myself to stand up for what made me.  If I given a second chance, I’d tell that couple why I enjoy reading and writing the stories I do.  I’d also make sure to point out what classic stories are staples of most horror aficionados.  Writers such as Edgar Allen Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, Bram Stoker, Mary Shelley… really the list goes on and on.

Personally, some of my favorite authors and stories are classics.  My all time favorite is and always will be “Phantom of the Opera” by Gaston Leroux.  While the musical is fun and visually stunning, it doesn’t compare to the original tale.  It’s in that story that you get a better feel of just how dangerous of an antagonist the Phantom truly is.  For those who don’t know the story, the Parisian Opera House is sold and the new owners told about the demands of the Phantom.  They are to leave the Phantom a weekly allowance and a viewing box for every performance.  As you can guess, the new owners don’t pay heed to the demands and murder and chaos follows.  Mix into this is a love triangle between the Phantom, his pupil Christine Daae, and her childhood friend, Viscount Raoul de Chagny.  I am not able to truly give you a good feel of the story by description alone.  It is one of those books I recommend reading when you get a free spot in your reading list.

Another horror classic that has influenced my horror journey is Robert Englund.  Best known for playing Freddy Krueger, the toasted child murderer with razor claws, one liners, and creative ways to kill you in your dreams.  After seeing him in a very tongue in cheek “PSA” for the Chiller network bringing sympathetic awareness to out of work slashers, I thought I’d check out one of his latest movies.  Englund plays the title character in “Inkubus”, an independent film about a man who walks into a police station on its last night open with a woman’s head in his hand and a blade hidden in his other sleeve.  The man then begins to confess to murders such as Jack the Ripper, Black Dahlia, Zodiac, and many others.  Soon, the police officers that have him in custody begin to die in creative ways.  It’s not as good as Freddy, but Robert is the true star of this film.  I give it a three and a half out of five.

With that, I must bid you adieu for the week.  Novel words are calling my name, begging to be written.

Until next we meet… Why so serious?

Donald “D.J.” Pitsiladis

Adversity and “A Method to the Madness: A Guide to the Super Evil” edited by Jeffrey Hite and Michell Plestad

A method to the madness

Hello ladies and gentlemen!  Welcome to the Casa!

I want to talk to you all today about adversity.  It’s something everyone faces in their lifetime, and will either make or break a person.  What is a major challenge for one person might be an easy one for the person to your left or a practically impossible one for the person to your right.  One consistent thing about adversity is that it will challenge you, make you a stronger and better person, and perhaps allow you to view things in a different light than before.  The other consistency is that you can’t always the see the good it offers until later.  When focused right, it makes us reach higher and dig in stronger than we may normally have.  It is also the source of inspiration for brilliant and artistic minds.  It also shows us who we are and the true face of the people we surround ourselves with.

I’ve had my fair share of adversity.  I’ve dealt with mental and emotional abuse from my biological father, some of my girlfriends, and even some of my “friends”.  I was denied access to my children for a short time because of lies about me.   I’ve lost or given up everything I owned at least three times and rebuilt each time.  I’ve been betrayed by people close to me.  Through all of that, the ups and downs, I’ve soldiered on, learned from the mistakes (sometimes after multiple times making them), and have found positive ways to look at them.  Whether it’s ideas and/or characters for stories (it’s true, we writer’s do put you in them), emotional through lines in acting, and being able to cope when receiving rejections and criticism.  What you need to do is find a good  and positive outlet for your bad feelings, surround yourself with people who will help you up while you’re down, and find something to help you thinking happy thoughts (I recommend “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” by Monty Python, but to each their own).  The one thing you never want to do is to give up.  It might be the easy thing to do at that moment, but staying the course until it ends is so much more sweeter.

For those of you evil geniuses out there wanting to improve their lives and images, I have the perfect “how to” book for you.  “Method to the Madness” is full of advice for the next generation of villains and villainesses from some of the top and most feared names in the world today.  Have you wondered what or who makes the best minions, how to find and decorate the perfect evil lair, or are you married to an evil genius and want advice on keeping the spark going between the two of you.  And, let’s face it, who else suffers through more adversity and without giving up than evil villains and villianesses?

The stories in this anthology are a lot of fun and good for a not so serious read.  I found the voices they were written in very convincing and the advice enlightening.  I made sure to take notes for future villains and hench people/monsters/devices.  I recommend it as a good summer read or one you want in short bursts any other time.  I rate it  a four out of five.

You can find “A Method to the Madness” in Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, and can be ordered through your local bookstore.

If you’ve found this helpful, have any ideas or suggestions on improvements to the site, or have suggestions for movies and books to check out, please leave a comment below, e-mail me at, or follow me on  FacebookTwitter, & Google +.

Until next time, I wish you a very happy week and know that we’re here to offer a positive word or two if you need it.

Donald “D.J.” Pitsiladis

“Black Lotus” by K’wan

Black Lotus

Hello ladies and gentlemen!  Welcome back to the Casa!

As promised this morning, here are my thoughts on “Black Lotus” by K’wan.  First, let me set the scene.  The story opens with the murder of a priest by the Black Lotus, a black clad assassin who claims to work for the Lord and leaves a black lotus as a calling card.  Detective James Wolf, a narcotics officer with the nickname of Lone Wolf James for reasons that become obvious quickly, is asked to look into the case by his mentor, the Chief of Police himself.  As victims begin to pile up, the Lone Wolf needs to figure out what ties the victims together to stop the Lotus without becoming a victim himself.

I thought this story was an okay one, but dealt with a lot of cliched characters which made it a difficult to stay in the story at times.  The story itself was a good one that did make some sense, but someone who I thought played a pivotal part to the story didn’t get introduced until act three of the story.  The Black Lotus’ identity also seemed easy to deduce based on the big hints in the story, that when the big reveal finally arrived, there was no surprise.  Over all, I give this story a rating of a three out of five.  You can find “Black Lotus” at Amazon, Barnes and Noble,and your local bookstore.

And now, without further adieu, I bid you goodnight and we’ll see you next Monday.

Donald “D.J.” Pitsiladis




Hello ladies and gentlemen!  Welcome to the Casa!

I just wanted to drop a little message before heading off to the day job.  The reason?  Nothing more than to maintain consistency.  It is something I haven’t been as good about maintaining over the past two years, and is the one item I am able to control.  Whether it is for the day job, my writing, or even time with my family.  I ‘ve found that when I lose my consistency in things, my anxiety ramps up, and that is not a fun thing.  When I am writing daily or doing anything with my day job regularly, my work is better and more productive.  My advice, taken with a large grain of salt, is that if you are struggling with any endeavor, regardless if it is writing, work, or most anything, and working in spurts doesn’t work, try doing a little bit of it everyday.  It  won’t immediately improve things since it will take time to adjust to the new routine, but you may find that in the longer run it helps you become more productive and relaxed.  If after three weeks to a month of trying this method, feel free to try something different.  The one thing that never changes is that everyone has certain ways of working and doing things that works for them.

With all of this in mind, I must bid you all adieu for now, but will be back later tonight with this week’s book review.  Today’s offering will be “Black Lotus” by K’wan.  Until then…

Why so serious?

Donald “D.J” Pitsiladis

Happy 4th of July! Updates and “Robogenesis” by Daniel H. Wilson


Hello ladies and gentlemen.  Welcome back to the Casa!

It’s been a bit since I’ve seen you all, so let me bring you up to speed on things.  My divorce finalized on St. Patrick’s Day and I’ve been dealing with getting life back in order.  After four months, things are finally getting into a better life flow.  My writing is becoming a regular habit again and I’ve started auditioning for narrating gigs, so things are starting to turn around now.  I’m submitting stories again, am a finalist in the 2014 Master of Macabre writing contest, and have at least one new short story selected for an anthology (I will share the name when it is okay to do so).  I’m getting more time with my sons and engaged to a great, beautiful, and supportive woman.  Life is getting better.

Since this is a weekend to celebrate those who gave their lives for our freedom, I thought “Robogenesis” by Daniel H. Wilson might be a good fit.  A sequel to “Robopocalypse“,  the story takes place directly after the end of the war against Archos 14.  As with the first book, the story follows multiple characters as they run across new lifeforms and a larger threat to the survival of the human race on their return home.  They thought the war was over, but in reality it only just started.

While I thought the first book was good, there were issues with it that I didn’t care for as much in it.  This book does a good job of delivering a much smoother story .  I found myself really enthralled with the organization of the character’s stories and the broad overview they gave of the bigger story.  The cliffhanger ending has me wanting the next book, but also worried it might turn into a Pirates of the Caribbean kind of turn.  The one big flaw I found was the stories left some parts out that I felt might help fill in some time frame gaps.  All in all, I rate this book a 4 out of 5.  You can find this book at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and your local bookstore.

Do you have any suggestions for books, podcasts, or indie movies to review?  Perhaps you want to find out what projects I’m working on next?  You can follow me on Facebook, Twitter, & Google +, or leave a comment below.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Donald “D.J.” Pitsiladis



Book Review – “Pandemic” by Scott Sigler

PandemicHello ladies and gentlemen! Welcome to the Casa!

Eight years ago I married to a nice young woman, started at my current job, and listened to my very first podcast novel, Scott Sigler’s “Infected”. Fast forward to eight years, my divorce is nearing completion, I am starting a different work account than what I was originally hired on to, and Scott has released his final book in the “Infected” trilogy, “Pandemic”. 2014 seems a year for some eras to end and others to begin.

As most, if not all of you know, I am a writer when I’m not busy being a family man or working at my day job. Like any other writer, I find influence from so many masters of the craft. It started with Stephen King when I was thirteen, and has grown to include J.K. Rowling, Christopher Golden, Tracy Hickman, and Scott Sigler, among others. Stephen and Scott are two writers whose stories I read almost religiously and are two big reasons why I decided to begin pursuing a writing career that I feel is just starting to show signs of blossoming. I have even introduced my oldest son to both men’s works and he is already hooked on each.

To give you the rundown on the “Infected” trilogy before I dive into my review of the latest book, an alien race sends out satellites containing artificial intelligence and the means to create a virus intended to exterminate any sentient race it comes across. Their purpose is to eliminate any threats they discover long before they branch out into space. One such satellite, called an Orbital, runs across Earth and begins to send out it’s payload, which turns ordinary people into psychopathic killers. As each book progresses, the Orbital finds ways to modify the virus to improve it’s effectiveness.  Blue triangles mark the infected in the first book, “Infected”. One person, Perry Dawsey resisted, but at a brutal cost to himself. In “Contagious”, the virus mutated in the wild, adding a second strain which can pass the virus via a kiss with the result of much death and destruction.  Everyone thought the virus eradicated after that, but they were wrong.

“Pandemic” takes place five years after the events of “Contagious”, and Dr. Margaret Montoya is a shell of her former self. Her marriage to agent Clarence Otto, the special agent assigned to protect her in the first book, is less than happy. She has become recluse, punishing herself by continuously reading Internet posts and criticisms blaming her for the destruction in the second book. After the latest in another round of arguments ends with Agent Otto stating their marriage is over, a telephone call from an old friend in the government calls the both of them back into service. The virus has returned and is even deadlier than ever.

I have waited for this book since I finished reading “Contagious” years ago. Scott brings the characters to life, whether it’s on the written page or his narration in audiobook format. This book is the emphasis of this. I found myself not wanting to write my own stories or fall asleep on time just so I could read a few more pages. I found the story to grip you tightly and not let go until the roller coaster ride is finally done. The ending is EPIC in scope and gives a definitive ending to a thrilling story. I give this book a 5 out of 5.

You can find Scott’s books at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and your favorite local bookstore. If you enjoy science fiction in your horror or vice versa, then I recommend checking out his work.

As always, if you want to leave a comment, please do so below.  Let me know your opinion  and feel free to share mine with your friends, family, and yes, even your enemies.  I’m on FacebookTwitterGoogle +, and via e-mail at  And check out my stories in the “Darwin Murders”, “Bump Off Your Enemies”, and “Fresh Blood” anthologies.

And remember… Why so serious?

Donald P.

Book Review – “Dead Men Kill” by L. Ron Hubbard

Dead Men Kill

Hello ladies and gentlemen! Welcome to the Casa!

I hope everyone came through the dreaded polar vortex this past weekend warm and well. I know it was a bitter couple of days where travel, sadly, wasn’t on the itinerary. Now we in North Dakota are experiencing a heat wave of sorts (anything above 30 degrees around the middle of January is warm for us). The cold weather did give me plenty of time to get more writing done, spend some quiet time at home fighting a head cold, and getting some more reading done. One such book is by L. Ron Hubbard, the father of the Church of Scientology. Religion aside, I’d always heard his stories fell into the science fiction realm, so imagine my surprise when I found “Dead Men Kill”.

The story itself is a pulpy, noir detective story involving murder, extortion, and zombies of the Haitian voodoo variety. Rich and powerful men are receiving letters demanding payment or face death at the hands of their dead secretaries. The warnings all bear the green signature of a man who calls himself the Loup Garou, or human hyena as they define it in the story. Heading up the case is Detective Terry Lane, a cop eager to dish out a fist to the bad guys as easily as firing a gun. If you are looking for a story that is both cheesy and fun to read, then this story is for you. Personally, I’ve never been a very big fan of the pulp stories, but I did like this one somewhat. My rating is a 3 out of 5, which shows that even I have a limit when it comes to cheesiness.

Before I sign off for the week, I want to send a big Happy Birthday to my dad, George. It is a milestone birthday and I wouldn’t have my work ethic if not for him and my mother. Happy Birthday Dad!

And with that, I must bid you adieu for this week. Until next weekend…

As always, if you want to leave a comment, please do so below.  Let me know your opinion  and feel free to share mine with your friends, family, and yes, even your enemies.  I’m on FacebookTwitterGoogle +, and via e-mail at  And check out my stories in the “Darwin Murders”, “Bump Off Your Enemies”, and “Fresh Blood” anthologies.

And remember… Why so serious?

Donald P.

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