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Book Review: “How to Survive Your Murder” by Danielle Valentine

how_to_survive_your_murderWelcome to the Casa, everybody!

Apologies for not getting a post out last week. There was a family issue that needed my full attention. On the professional side, I submitted a short story to an anthology, and have some other stories I’m looking at polishing up and sending out. With some luck, you’ll start seeing more of my work in print. For this week’s post, I’m here to offer a review of the fun slasher novel, “How to Survive Your Murder”, by Danielle Valentine.

It’s Halloween, and Alice, a horror movie nut, is on her way to a corn maze with her sister, Claire. When they arrive, Alice is a little too scared to enter the maze, so her sister enters without her. Screams too loud and bloodcurdling to be caused by an actor erupt from the cornfield, and Alice rushes in to look for Claire. She finds her in time to watch Claire being stabbed by the janitor from her dad’s gym. Claire dies, and the janitor goes on trial a year later based on Alice’s testimony. In that year, Alice’s life is further turned upside down when her parents’ divorce and she has to deal with people not believing her about what happened that Halloween night. It is one of these doubters who offers Alice a chance to see what really happened by sending her back to the night of her sister’s murder. If she can discover the identity of the actual murderer by midnight, then any changes she makes will become permanent and her sister will live again.

I really enjoyed this book. The story keeps you guessing to the end, and there are enough red herrings scattered throughout to keep you guessing all the way to the end. I enjoyed it as both a murder mystery and a slasher story akin to “Scream” and “I Know What You Did Last Summer”, with just a dash of time travel mixed in. It’s safe to assume that once the story really gets going that no one is safe, no matter how important of a character they are. It’s a great read for late nights, rainy days, and snowy days.

You can find this book on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or order it through your local bookstore.

Until next time, loyal patrons,


P.S. – Don’t forget to order your copy of Horror Curated Magazine today.


Updates and Horror Curated

HCBTCoverHello everybody. Welcome to the Casa!

I hope everyone had a wonderful week, and aren’t feeling too hungover after last night’s Super Bowl. It was a good game with some fantastic commercials in between. Next year, I hope to see my Pittsburgh Steelers in the big game and lifting the Lombardi Trophy after. Time will tell.

On a publishing standpoint, the latest issue of Horror Curated is out today. The theme for this issue was Bloody Tea, so of course my Nightmare Fuel article was tea themed — Tasseography, or the reading of tea leaves. It was a very interesting topic to research with much more information than I could include in the article. I got my copy, and you should get yours, too. Go to the Horror Curated website or Etsy for more details.

This week I also wanted to offer a tip to all you writers out there. Have you ever been so far into your work in progress, only to lose most, if not all of it, with no chance of recovery? That just happened with my current work in progress, a re-writing of the first novel I completed. As frustrating as losing all of that work is, I prefer to see it as not the right time for that story… yet. I will tackle it again, just perhaps down the line a little more. Lesson learned from this: back up your work in two different ways. That’s my plan from now on.

For those wondering, the story is about a private investigator who wakes from a coma with the ability to read events imprinted on objects and people’s emotional auras with a just the touch of his hand. Fired by the police force because of what he can do, our hero hopes to discover what happened to him while investigating murders involving others with special abilities. I look forward to working on this again when it’s the right time.

Until next time, loyal patrons,


Book Review: “Pay Me In Flesh” by James Scott Bell

pay_me_in_fleshHello everybody. Welcome to the Casa!

I don’t have any updates to provide this week, so let’s jump straight into this week’s book review. One of the many story tropes you run into in fiction literature is the lawyers are soulless. While this is mostly untrue in real life, this book looks at what happens when it is true. This week we look at “Pay Me In Flesh”, by James Scott Bell, writing as K. Bennett.

Mallory Caine is a defense attorney with a problem. She is dealing with the aftermath of an attack where rips her soul from her body. Rather than leaving her for dead, her assailant left her dead, and yet still able to function — as long as she can eat a regular supply of brains, that is. They are the only things keeping her from becoming a mindless, slobbering zombie. She tries to stick to criminals when she can and dons a prostitute costume for the other times. When one of the latter proves to be a crooked cop, her world spirals further, especially when the person arrested for the crime is someone she knows. Her dilemma is how to protect her client without revealing her dark secret. Compounding the problem is the fact that her new client is an actual vampire. As if all of that isn’t enough, someone is running around the city killing zombies like her. What is an attorney to do?

This was a well-paced story that played up Mallory’s situation really well. It is the first of a series, but explains how she became a zombie lawyer without delving too deep into her backstory. The revelations and feel natural and paint Mallory as a very intelligent woman and lawyer. She tries staying on the right side of the case when confessing would be easier, but then she’d have no way to reclaim her soul. When the ties between her client’s case and her own become apparent, it offers just enough of a glimpse to leave you wanting to learn more. I want to tell you more, but don’t want to enter spoiler territory. Fans of urban fantasy and thrillers will dig this story.

You can find “Pay Me In Flesh” on Amazon or order it through your local bookstore.

Until next time, loyal patrons,


Updates January 2023

Hello everybody. Welcome to the Casa!

I’m sorry for being gone so long again. As I’ve alluded to in previous posts, a lot was going on in my personal life the over the last four years, which made it difficult to commit to regular blogging. One of my goals for this new year is to become regular with my blog posts, which I plan to roll over into a podcast or two. More details will be forthcoming once they are out of the planning stages. The important thing to take out of this is that my head is fully back into the creative realm again. It also means that I will post more consistently again.

News wise, I have been back to writing Nightmare Fuel for the Horror Addicts podcast for the past two years. Recently, they have started a quarterly digital magazine, Horror Curated, which also includes additional Nightmare Fuel. Last summer also saw the release of “Horror Addicts Guide to Life 2“, which included Nightmare Fuel along with goth fashion, recipes, puzzles, and various other bits and pieces growing horror addict need and want. Definitely check each out if you are looking for little tidbits of occult, paranormal, cryptid, or story inspiration.

In other publishing news, I have submitted some short stories for publication. One will appear in an anthology named “Fright Manor”, due out in Summer 2023. In this anthology, all the stories take place inside a Victorian manor at different points over one hundred years. When it gets closer to the release date, I will give more details. I’m excited about it as this will be my first new piece of fiction in print in a while. I can promise you, this will not be the last.

There will be a mixture of content coming up on the Casa, ranging from movie, television show, and book reviews. I may even release some small pieces of fiction here and there. If there is anything you would like to see here, please share it in the comments below, or contact me via e-mail, Facebook, or Twitter.

Until next time, loyal patrons.


News and Book Review: “Abducted” by T.R. Ragan

HAGL2Hello ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the Casa!

It’s been over a year since the last time I posted on here, something which I apologize for. A lot has gone on in that time, some good and some not so good. Without going into details, this year has been a turnaround and I’m working on some creative projects I hope to share with you sometime soon.

I’ve started a new season of Nightmare Fuel on the Horror Addicts podcast and blog. To those who don’t know, Horror Addicts is a home for those of us who enjoy all things scary, goth, spooky, bloody, and macabre. Nightmare Fuel is my way of sharing legends and true stories of spookiness to get those creative juices flowing. Even better news is that some of those same blog posts are being published in the “Horror Addicts Guide to Life 2”. This will mark my first publication in a couple of years, but it will just be the beginning.

I have some other writing and audio projects that I’m working on and lined up. As soon as I get some more substantial details on them, I will share. The latest story I’m editing is about a group of friends boating in the middle of the Bermuda Triangle, with disastrous results. It is just above 13,000 words, but I hope to have that finished by the end of the week. Then it is off to submissions, and I start work on something new.

And I don’t want to leave you today without offering a book review from an author I have quickly become a big fan of. This week, I offer you “Abducted” by T.R. Ragan.


The story follows a private investigator named Lizzy Gardner as she plays a game of cat-and-mouse with a serial killer named Spiderman. Unlike the Marvel superhero of the same name, this monster kidnaps teenage girls and tortures them in various ways, including the use of venomous exotic spiders. Lizzy is the only victim to escape, and now he’s back to finish what he started fourteen years ago.

The story had a great flow, and the mind games that Spiderman used on Lizzy played out well. I had a hard time putting the book down, regardless of how tired I was. It really drew me in, and you felt all of Lizzy’s pain and remorse, and hoped she got to the latest victims before Spiderman could complete his game. I also enjoyed that the women in the book aren’t all damsel’s in distress. Some are butt kickers trying to get themselves out of trouble. I highly recommend this book if you really enjoy thrillers and rollercoaster rides.

You can find “Abducted” on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and through your local bookstore. You can also find “Horror Addicts Guide to Life 2” on Amazon. I can also be regularly on the blog and podcast.

Until next time, loyal patrons.


A New Year

Hello ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the Casa!

A lot has happened since I last talked to you all, and has been a large part of the reason for my absence. Most of it was bad, and it got my head and heart in not so good places. Now that most of it is in the past, and will hopefully stay there, I’m determined to get back on the proverbial horse this year. I’m starting that here with you.

My plan for this year is to write at least one post a week, and moving up to possibly three. It will still have some reviews (books, movies, television shows, etc), but I’m going to throw in updates on the writing and audio production updates as well. There may even be some writing tips from time to time as I recommence on my professional journey.

I’m also planning to re-work how the blog appears and functions in this new year. Expect some changes, but I hope it will be to better your experience here.

As always, leave a comment, or send me a message at any of the links on the page. I look forward to sharing more with you and ask for your patience whilst I re-acclimate to everything.

Until next time.


Book Review: “The Jekyll Revelation” by Robert Masello

Hello ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the Casa!

This week, we look at an intriguing piece of historical fiction involving Robert Louis Stevenson and the possible events surrounding the creation of a horror masterpiece. This week I offer you a review of “The Jekyll Revelation” by Robert Masello.

The story in “The Jekyll Revelation” takes place in two very different eras. The half taking place in the past begins with famed author Robert Louis Stevenson seeking treatment for his tuberculosis. It is shared in the form of journal entries and chronicles his treatment at a hospice resort for others suffering from his same malady. As Robert is working on writing “Treasure Island” with his stepson, the doctor who runs the resort offers him an experimental treatment with hopes of curing his disease. The serum is derived from wolf’s blood and proves to be helpful in treating, but not curing his tuberculosis. The nightmares and mood changes that come with the treatment prove to be the inspiration of his only horror novel, “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.” When the book becomes a stage play, Robert is on top of the world. It comes crashing down, however, as on the night the play debuts in London, the infamous Jack the Ripper killings begin. Both the police and the public see a correlation between the opening of the play and the murders, and that draws Robert into the investigation. As the story continues, he is shocked to discover the Ripper’s identity and the parallels between him and the horror tale.

The other half of “The Jekyll Revelation” takes place in present-day Topanga Canyon in California. It follows a Bureau of Land Management officer named Rafael Salazar, who is happy with his job, although not the politics that go with it. One such job involves tracking coyotes in the area, but it’s also to monitor any illegal goings on in the area. That includes run-ins with two trappers who will catch anything and are always on the lookout for valuable items. There is also a methamphetamine producing motorcycle gang, his landlady’s freeloading boyfriend, and an unrequited love. The catalyst to the story is a chest half submerged in a lake containing a top hat, white gloves, an opera cape, a knife, a journal, and a silver flask. The box’s discovery lights the fuse for an explosive ending.

I found the story to be well written and engaging, especially the half involving Robert Louis Stevenson. It does take creative license with the timeline and the events of that era but does so in a more believable manner. The big reveal towards the end is fitting without being too ham-handed or pulling things from the far left field. Everything felt right with it. The other half told in the present day, felt like it was missing something. There were opportunities to tie the two stories together that felt overlooked. It could easily have been split into two separate books and worked just as well, if not better. The ending also felt rushed and a bit anticlimactic. Overall, I enjoyed the book and fans of historical fiction will too. Click here to order your copy of the book today. Your Amazon purchases will help support the Casa.

Until next time, loyal patrons.

D.J. Pitsiladis


Catching up on things

Hello ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the Casa!

The past two weeks have been rather uneventful on the writing and audio fronts. The current audiobook I’m recording is progressing nicely, and I’ve sent out more auditions to that will hopefully lead to additional work for me. There hasn’t been much progress on the novel set in a mental institution that I’ve been plugging away on. It’s not that the story is losing steam, just veering too far off course. The original outline was a loose guide of each chapter in the first half of the novel, but since the outlined portion ended it feels too far off on a tangent. For now, I’m setting that book off to the side to regain perspective of it. Hopefully, with some “surgery” I can remove the parts hijacking the story and get it back on track.

That’s not to say I haven’t gotten any writing done. Last week I entered a new short story to a contest Dark Regions Press is running. I want to tell you more about it, but am waiting until after the judging is complete so I don’t jinx things. What I can say is that it is a sole survivor on a desert island tale. Wish me luck.

I’m still pursuing freelance work, but am finding it difficult since I haven’t made a name for myself yet. As such, I’ve begun looking for a regular job as well since bills still need paying. While I like the freedom freelancing offers, the family needs the steady paycheck until it takes off. If you are an author or publisher looking for a reliable and talented audiobook narrator, I’d gladly audition and offer my services to you.

The new season of is ramping up to the premiere episode, which means deadlines are looming. This year is not only the return of Nightmare Fuel to the podcast, but I’ll also be contributing my vocal talents to one of the featured stories and producing the season’s audio drama, “Dogtooth.” A Goth metal band, a honky-tonk bar, and a monster in the woods all play their parts. I’ll also be introducing my two oldest sons to the world of voice-over acting as they each have roles in “Hunter/Prey” and will be sharing co-hosting duties on Nightmare Fuel. In case you can’t tell, I’m very excited for this season.

Next week, I’ll be bringing you a review of “Toward the Brink: The Apocalyptic Plague Survival Series Book One” by Craig A McDonough. It is a zombie tale involving a potato growth hormone created by an evil cabal bent on controlling the world. It was a fun story to read, and I look forward to telling you all about it.

Thank you for your continued patronage. See you next week.


Creative Update — 03/29/2018

Hello ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the Casa!

It has been a bit since we last talked, but there is a good reason for that. I have been busy writing and recording audiobooks, some which are available now, and others coming soon.

On the writing front, I’ve been busy plugging away on two different novels and a couple of short stories. So far, the short stories have not found a home yet, but I still hold out hope for them. Eventually, they will be available to you. I want to try finding a traditional style publisher for them first. The first novel is a psychological thriller in a mental institution, while the other is more of a science fiction action thriller. After I’ve finished them, I’ll be attempting an overhaul on an earlier completed novel, just to see if I can get it nice and shiny.

That is not to say that self-publishing isn’t an option. I am updating some previously published stories with the idea of putting them out myself. I intend to have my stories be both self and traditionally published, so I don’t have all of my eggs in one basket.

As if being a full-time stay at home dad and an author isn’t enough, I’ve been busy recording and editing audiobooks for other authors as well. It’s a thrill to read good stories while being able to bring their characters to life. The first one, delayed due to various setbacks on my part, was finally released for purchase. “Predators of Darkness: Aftermath” by Leonard D. Hilley II takes place in my old hometown of Pittsburgh, PA. The city is attacked with nuclear weapons by an unknown foe, and a small group of survivors finds refuge inside a fallout shelter. When they re-emerge, the survivors find themselves the only people left in the abandoned city. Before long, something new emerges from the shadows intent on taking man’s place at the top of the food chain. Shifters, creatures able to change their bodies at will, are hungry and we are their preferred meal. Will the survivors live long enough to unravel the conspiracy that holds them prisoners to these new beasts?

I also managed to record and release another novel that has also become available since last we chatted, “In the Blackness of Space” by Robert Kuntz. Imagine that NASA is days away from sending the first manned mission outside of our solar system, and they find themselves an astronaut down due to illness. The best-qualified replacement is one of the top scientists on the project, Dr. Grant Chapman, who also happens to be afraid of almost everything. Drug him and send him anyway? Then you have the opening premise of the story. As Dr. Chapman lay in a drug-induced sleep, the crew is exposed to radiation and die, making an already complicated situation worse.

Both audiobooks are available on Amazon, Audible, and iTunes. If you like what you hear, check out some of the other books I’ve narrated: “Evolution” by Cody Toye and “Once the Best” by Roy Chandler. I am also working on another audiobook, “Twilight City: Edward the Silver Werewolf” by James Richardson, and will let you know when it becomes available.

That is all I have for now. I am working on some new goodies for the next season of, but that is something for next week. Until then, I wish you a Happy Easter if you celebrate it. Otherwise, I hope you have a great weekend.

Thank you for your patronage, and please leave comments below.

D.J. Pitsiladis


New Year and Movie Review of “Lovely Bones”

Hello ladies and gentlemen.  Welcome to the Casa!

I hope you have had a good and rest filled holiday season.  I myself did, and it gave me some time for looking at what I want out of life, professionally.  I tried working a telecommuting job, and thought I did a good job of it.  Unfortunately, the job didn’t really fit the idea of common sense ratings, so it didn’t last long.  It did reinforce the idea that I want to work from home, because I really enjoy doing that.  Call me anti-social, but I seem to perform better when not constantly around other people.   That wasn’t quite enough, however.  So, I decided to begin working as a freelancer, specializing in writing, voice acting, editor/proofreader, and database entry.  Each one I feel I am well qualified for, although the first three are my preferred choices.  As time goes on, I’m sure there will be some changes, but those three will always be right at the top.  We’ll see how things work out.

So, if you are in need of a writer, voice actor, or editor/profreader, please message me.  I promise, I will impress.

Last night, I was able to do something I haven’t been able to in a while, watch movies with my wife.  One of the movies was one on my “To Watch” list, “The Lovely Bones”.   The movie, based on the book by Alice Sebold, follows a teenager named Susie Salmon who is murdered early in the story by a neighbor.  She provides narration on her family as they get the news of her death, attempt to deal with it, and try to figure out who the murderer is.  As the story weaves, we also see how Susie deals with her death and works her way to acceptance so she can move on.

The story is a very compelling one, and I thought Mark Wahlberg did a convincing turn as a distraught willing to do whatever it takes to find the killer and bring him to justice.  Stanley Tucci also puts in a good performance as the murderous neighbor, whose identity we know from the beginning.  As good of a drama as I found it, the ending seemed to leave something feel unfinished somehow.  It folds the story up in a neat fashion, but there appeared to be missing something.  I do recommend watching it, especially if you like light thrillers and dramas.

Now it’s time for me to run off and get some more work done.  Until next week, loyal patrons…

D.J. Pitsiladis

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