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Master of Macabre and Wicked Women Writers 2015

Hello ladies and gentlemen! Welcome to the Casa!

I’ve been keeping busy in the past week between working on some re-writes for a novel I originally wrote three years ago titled “Coffeehouse”.  It was sitting around while I thought of a way to streamline the story and figure out the ending I really wanted compared to the one I ended up with.  The muse finally graced me with the inspiration I needed.  I hope to have the improved story ready to be sent out within the next couple of months, and I’ll share more details as things progresses.

This week I thought I’d share what, to me, has become an annual tradition — The Wicked Women Writer and Master of Macabre writing contests.  If you are a fan of the Food Network television show “Chopped”, you will have a good feel for how these contests run.  For those who aren’t, the idea is to write a short story using specifically selected elements that fit into a theme.  Past “ingredients” have included locations, items, disasters, and phobias.  This year, both contests share a common theme — Tarot Cards.   Every contestant, male and female, will be assigned a card from the Major Arcana along with an evil being/supernatural entity. The rest of the story is up to you.  Pretty simple, right?

In addition to the shared theme, this year also has the added twist when it comes to recording the audio portion.  The story will need to be recorded as an audio drama with at least two reader voices.  While this may sound daunting or intimidating to newer writers, there are people willing to help.  Based on my own experiences, it isn’t as hard as you may think.

Check out and for more details, contest rules, and deadlines for each contest.

Well, I hear the work bell ringing, so it’s time to head back to work.  I hope to find your names among those striving to become the 2015 Master of Macabre or Most Wicked Woman Writer.

Until next week…

Donald “D.J.” Pitsiladis

Connect with me on Facebook, Google +, and Twitter.

“The Monarch” by Jack Soren

the monarch

Hello ladies and gentlemen! Welcome to the Casa!

Last month was a busy one for me. Between edits for a short story I have coming out in “There’s a Magic Portal Under My Sink”, recording the beginning of my first audiobook project through ACX, and having my sons over almost every weekend, it was a busy, happy, and tiring month, but well worth it, of course.  Now, without further ado, let’s jump right in to this week’s book review. I offer for your literary consideration… “The Monarch” by Jack Soren.

A serial killer who carves butterflies into the flesh of his victims is making his rounds in New York City.  When one of the bodies is found in a museum fountain with a painting long thought recovered jammed down his throat, it becomes clear to the FBI agent that the murderer is playing to a particular audience.  The painting is one of a group of paintings liberated by an art thief known only as The Monarch.  The hunt for The Monarch begins with an author considered by many to be the authority on his escapades,

As the hunt for a killer begins,  Jonathan Hall is struggling to provide a life for his daughter.  He has the means to do so, but accessing it means breaking a deathbed promise made to his wife to keep his previous life a secret from their daughter.  When his former partner arrives at his doorstep, both men know the time has come for The Monarch to return and stop the serial killer from besmirching their shared identity.

What starts out as a cop and killer story quickly becomes a thrill ride with the introduction of a dying billionaire and the lengths he is willing to go in a search for a cure to his disease.  Nathan Kring proves there is nothing he isn’t willing to do for control over the lives of everyone possible, including his daughters.  It all climaxes into an explosive ending you have to see to believe.  My ranking for “The Monarch” is a 4.5 out of 5.

You can find this book via Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and your favorite local bookstore.

Well, I’m afraid I must bid you adieu for the week.  I feel another part of a balance life calling me… a nice soft bed and a good night’s sleep cuddled up with my fiancee.  Until next week…

Donald “D.J.” Pitsiladis

Connect with me on Facebook, Google +, and Twitter.

Happy New Year and “Lumps” by Ian Woodhead


Hello ladies and gentlemen!  Welcome to the Casa!

Happy New Year! It’s been a busy holiday season spent with my fiancée and children, as well as some much-needed relaxation.  2014 wasn’t exactly the best of years, but now we are in a new year that offers new possibilities across the board.  Two of my short stories will be coming out in the near future, and I am halfway through one novel and a quarter of the way through another.  There will also be weekly blog posts here at the Casa as well as on the blog.  2015 will be a busy and successful year, I can just feel it.

This week, I offer you a review of a short story by Ian Woodhead named, “Lumps”.  David Kerrigan is a boy with a bit of a dilemma, he sees lumps on the walls of his home.  They aren’t always there, and they don’t stay in the same place all the time.  In fact, the more he sees them, the more they move and the bigger they get.  His parents tell him to stop making up stories for attention, but there is something in their eyes that makes him wonder otherwise.

This is a fun little horror story that offers a nice break away from the daily grind with a just a pinch of Lovecraft for spice.  It conveys a good feel for the emotions and fear young David feels as he watches the lumps multiply and grow.  You feel for the boy as things spiral deeper and deeper.  I rate this little story a four out of five.

You can find “Lumps” at Smashwords, and the Barnes and Noble stores in e-book format.

Well, ladies and gentlemen, I must bid you adieu.  There is a story just begging to be written.  Until next week…

Donald “D.J.” Pitsiladis

Finding enjoyment in the writing process, “White Zombie” review

white zombie

Hello ladies and gentlemen.  Welcome to the Casa!

I’ve been busy in the last two weeks that I spoke with you last.  I have started writing a new thriller novel since the earlier stories I’ve tried to tell have fallen beyond flat in my excitement of writing them.  I will be re-visiting them in the near future, but I felt a need to cleanse my palate so to speak of the writing processes I tried with them.  As writers sometimes we need to test out different ways to work on our prose to see if possibly a different method to getting the story down will work.  I tried plotting stories, focusing on the events of the story, even rotating into stories a chapter at  a time.  While the last one did seem to work kind of okay, the first two really didn’t click for me.  When I started my current project, I decided to try focusing on writing by the seat of my pants and putting the focus of my narrative on the characters.  I’m letting them progress the story instead of reacting to it.  So far, it is all working.  The story is progressing well, I have a better feel for the characters, and, most of all, I’m having fun in writing a novel again.  I can’t wait to finish it and see what other people think of it.

To any of you new writers out there, feeling things out and figuring out the best way for you to work, I do have one piece of advice.  You will have plenty of writers and creative type people making suggestions on the best way to create.  I’ve heard many anecdotes from people about how their one way is the best and only way to put out good art (and yes, story telling is an art).  They are all wrong, and yet they are right too.  The best and only way to put out good art is to sit down and create it, and different methods will work for different people.  My advice is to try the different ways, at least once.  You may find that it doesn’t work, but, then again, you may find that it brings out even better creations than before.  Don’t be afraid to experiment.  In fact, it’s that kind of thinking to brings me to this week’s book review, “White Zombie, Volume 1″ created by Richard Evans and edited by Andrew Ardizzi.

I’m sure by now, everyone is familiar with zombie stories.  It’s everywhere you look.  What it there were people who were immune to the virus, and this immunity was based on your race?  That is the premise behind the short stories in “White Zombie, Volume 1″  There is a flu-like virus spreading across the globe.  Once you get it, you have 24 hours before it kills and re-animates you.  The only people directly unaffected by the virus are people of African decent.  The stories chronicle the immune and what they must experience to survive.

I’m almost as white as they come, and I’ll admit I didn’t know what to expect when I read the book.  I almost expected a very heavy racial overtones, and, since I do this mostly for fun, wasn’t sure I wanted to dive into something so heavy.  After reading the stories, I’m glad I dove in with both feet.  The stories by themselves were wonderful and, aside from the person’s ethnicity affecting whether they became infected after a zombie bite, I really didn’t think anything about the color of the characters’ skin.  That’s not to say there weren’t some racial undertones to the stories, but they fit into them in a natural way.  I for one am looking forward to the next volumes in the series.  My rating is a 4 out of 5.

You can find “White Zombie, Volume 1″ at Amazon, Smashwords, and the Itunes book stores in e-book format.

Well, I’m afraid I must bid you adieu for the week.  I feel another part of a balance life calling me… a nice soft bed and a good night’s sleep cuddled up with my fiancee.  Until next week…

Donald “D.J.” Pitsiladis

A post is coming

Hello ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Casa!

I just wanted to drop a quick note before work to let you know that a post is coming today.  I’ll be reviewing the zombie anthology “White Zombie”.  See you later today.

Donald “D.J.” Pitsiladis

Murder is on the menu in “Pasta, Passion, and Pistols”

Do you love a good murder mystery?  Do you get excited when you read or watch a well done whodunit?  Maybe you strive to figure out who the killer is before such great detectives as Sherlock Holmes, Miss Marple, or Sam Spade can?  If you enjoy matching wits with a murderer in a fun and safe atmosphere, then the Minot Area Theatrical Society has just the show for you, “Pasta, Passion, and Pistols”

The play takes place in La Speranza, New York City’s most popular Italian restaurant.  It is the wake for the late owner, Pepi Roni, who was shot in the back by his own gun.  In attendance are his wife Mama Rosa, his children Marco and Angel, his tough talking twin brother Rocco Scarfazzi, Rocco’s fiancée Tira Misu, the brothers’ cousin Bo Jalais, Sister Al Fredo, and the mystical astrologist Clair Voyant.   One of these people is guilty of murder, and it is up to you to figure out who committed the crime and why.

This interactive dinner theater, directed by Nicolette Eisenzimmer and Cassie Rech, stars Tyler Reimche, Stephen and Kit Young, Brandon Shafer, Kristin Nelson, Monica Anderson, and Christine Staley.  Performances will take place in the Stardust Ballroom at the Vegas Hotel October 9-11 at 7 p.m., with doors opening at 6:30 p.m.  Tickets are $22, which includes the meal, and reservations are suggested.  For more details or to reserve your tickets, call 701-441-9340 or e-mail  Help find Pepi Roni’s killer and have fun while doing it.

See you at the show…

Donald “D.J.” Pitsiladis

Another Story in Print and a Review of “Dead Stop” by D. Nathan Hilliard

Tasteful Murders

Hello ladies and gentlemen! Welcome to the Casa!

It has been a month since I’ve been able to chat with you all, and I hope that this finds you all well. Since you last heard from me, the e-book anthology “Tasteful Murders”, which includes my flash story “Dinner Party”, was released on Amazon. It contains 43 nuggets of murder and mayhem that can appease even the most finickiest of palates, and all for the low price of $0.99. Pick up your copy today by clicking here.

In keeping with the theme of horror and eateries, this week’s book review is “Dead Stop” by D. Nathan Hilliard. The dead rise from their graves and head to the nearest sign of life, a well-lit truck stop. Their movements are slow and weak at first, but the more people they consume, the stronger and more formidable they become. The best way to describe the book is Zac Snyder’s “Dawn of the Dead” remake meets “Maximum Overdrive”.Dead Stop

I found it very difficult to put this book down. The pacing of the story felt just right and it was interesting to see a zombie story where, not only is the cause discovered, it isn’t due to a virus or something artificial like technology. I also found it interesting that the author decided to not have a zombie bite or scratch be an automatic death sentence. If there were any faults in this story, it was in some of the character development. There were some character’s in the story who I thought needed to have some more of their story brought out more. I also thought that there seemed to be a spot or two in the story where something was built up, only for it to never materialize. It was for those reasons I give this book a 3.25 out of 5.  You can find it on Amazon by clicking here.

Well, ladies and gentlemen, I must bid you adieu for the week.  There is a story just begging  to be written.  Until next week…

Donald “D.J.” Pitsiladis

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