Brian James Freeman

Author, Editor, Publisher

Author: Brian James Freeman (page 3 of 42)

Photos of an untrimmed book block

It’s been a while since I’ve had the time to post an inside look at book publishing and book production, but for those who are curious, here is what an untrimmed, unbound book block looks like:

First Photos of PATREON STORIES: VOLUME ONE Lettered Edition!

Shipping early next month to qualifying Patreon supporters is the hand-bound Patreon Stories: Volume One Lettered Edition, and I’m really pleased with how it turned out! These are hand-bound in real leather and my binder used imported hand-marbled endpapers, etc, to take them to the next level. Here are some photos I took real quick yesterday:

Please visit my Patreon page to learn about the different rewards I’m publishing exclusively for my supporters. I’d love to see you there!

Thank you, as always, for your continuing support!

BONUS CONTENT: First Photos of the PATREON STORIES: VOLUME ONE Lettered Edition!

As you might remember, I decided to add a Lettered Edition for Patreon Stories: Volume One, and today I’d like to show you the first photos:

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PLEASE be sure to update your Patreon Account shipping address if you move since that database is where I pull the shipping lists from for rewards.

Thank you, as always, for your continuing support!


Newly Revised & Expanded Trade Paperback Edition of MORE THAN MIDNIGHT!

I’m very pleased to report the newly revised and expanded trade paperback edition of my collection MORE THAN MIDNIGHT is being announced today and will ship later this month. This new edition features creepy cover artwork by the awesome Vincent Chong, stories that weren’t in the original hardcover, and story notes as well — plus anyone who orders in the next week or so from Cemetery Dance Publications can get their copy signed for free!

Just a reminder: my Patreon supporters at Levels Six and Above as of the end of the day TODAY will automatically receive a signed copy of the book with their Patreon membership, so they don’t need to place an order.

Thank you again for all of your support!

A Few Photos of My “An Unusual Proposition For a Mountain Man” Chapbook

I’m still working hard on improving my “product” photography skills, which have always been lacking, and here are a few shots of the new chapbook I published for my supporters over on Patreon. Not bad, but there are some things I want to try differently for the next one!

BONUS CONTENT: Top Secret New Anthology Cover Design Preview!

As I mentioned earlier this year, thanks to your support here on Patreon I was finally able to make the time in my schedule to edit a themed horror anthology I’ve wanted to work on for many years now. This project is still officially UNANNOUNCED, so please don’t share this information or the image below anywhere:

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The cover design for Midnight Under the Big Top landed on my desk today, and I thought I’d share it with all of you first. The designer added the ragged effect around the edges to make it look like an old poster you might find left behind after the circus has rolled out of town:


Update on “An Unusual Proposition For a Mountain Man” Chapbook

Good news about the “An Unusual Proposition For a Mountain Man” chapbook I’m publishing next month for my supporters over on Patreon:

I’ve sent the final files to the printer, so I should have the actual chapbooks in about two weeks!

Because there were a few extra blank pages at the end, I included an “alternate ending” for the story. It’s a small change that is also kind of a big change in terms of how you might interpret the preceding events.

My first readers were torn over the possible endings, so I thought it would be fun to include both of them for your perusal. Future printings of the story will only have one ending, although I cannot say for sure yet which one since I have no clue which one I like better.

More news soon… Thank you again for all of your support!


(return to the Table of Contents)

Chapter Three

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The brisk fall wind shook the trees along RR #324, the road leading to and from Black Hills. The leaves were changing color, dropping free and drifting to the ground, more and more with each passing day. The fields were barren and crisscrossed with rock hard furrows of dark earth. Cattle huddled inside barns and people in town readied themselves for the approaching winter.

The Farris home was perched alone in a clearing high on a hill. A rutted, gravel driveway connected the property to RR #324. One of the windows in the garage door was broken. A forgotten child’s swing hung from the branch of an enormous weeping willow in the yard. The wooden seat blew in the wind, twisting and falling back to the ground after every gust. The branches of the weeping willow whispered in the breeze.

From the porch there was a breathtaking view of the town and the rest of the valley, including some bends in the Slade River and Black Rock Lake to the east, but the picturesque scenery wasn’t why the original owner had built the house there. He didn’t care to be one with nature. It wasn’t meant to be his Walden without the pond. Kurt Farris had been motivated by his desire to escape Black Hills. To escape his past.

On this particular morning, his great grandson Eddie Farris was walking with no great urgency down the gravel driveway with his backpack slung over his shoulder. His ride to school was still a good five or ten minutes away from arriving, but he had wanted some time alone. His father was in one of his moods and staying in the house felt like being trapped in a room without enough oxygen.

Eddie thought about everything and nothing, as teenage boys on their way to school are apt to do. His girlfriend, Rachel, was at the top of his mind, but he was also contemplating how he might dodge the bullet of giving his speech in Spanish class today. Yet how could he? Ms. Rodriguez always went in alphabetical order and there was no way the few students before him would use up the entire period.

“Ah, shit,” Eddie muttered, coming to an abrupt stop and kicking some gravel. “My speech!”

The class would prove to be an even greater challenge without the two pages of lined paper that were still sitting on his desk in his bedroom.

Eddie turned and made his way back up the hill, moving with a little more purpose now. The world was at peace, maybe for one of the last times in his life, although he certainly didn’t know it then. Our last peaceful moments are almost always only realized in hindsight.

Eddie opened the front door. The morning sun blazed through the picture window, causing the room to radiate with an odd, orange light. The colors were surreal, like an expressionist painting in some museum, possibly a work by Salvador Dali.

Laura Farris, who was only in her late thirties but was already cursed with numerous gray hairs, was on her knees on the floor in the kitchen. She was crying softly as she used a towel to soak up a puddle of spilled milk. There was a white carton a few feet away, still dripping on the linoleum. There was also a glass that hadn’t quite shattered, but had a long crack from top to bottom.

Michael Farris loomed over his wife. He was bear of a man with broad shoulders and a bulging chest. He was dressed for work, his blue uniform pants neatly pressed and creased. Attached to his belt were a metal key ring and a black pouch holding a can of pepper spray.

Two long white scars dashed across the flesh directly below his lips. They formed a slightly crooked cross. He wore the mark with pride. It was the result of the last time an inmate had given him trouble. There had been what he called a discipline issue, but it didn’t last long. The inmate spent a month in the hospital.

“Mom, are you okay?”

His mother’s head snapped up at the sound of her son’s voice. She nodded and said: “Yes, Eddie, get on to school, everything’s fine.”

He could see the red welt on her face. Later on, his mother would use make-up to hide the bruise as best she could. She always did. Eddie locked eyes with his father but said nothing. A current of anger crackled just under his skin.

“No, no, son, stay here for a moment,” Michael Farris said, his lips forming a malicious grin. “You and I have something to discuss. Come with me.”

Eddie knew better than to object. He followed his father to the garage where he had spent much of his childhood playing on the concrete floor with his toy trucks while his father toiled at some project or another at the work bench: a bird house for the pole in the backyard, a new window frame to replace the one rotting in the kitchen, or even the swing tied to the weeping willow.

Michael Farris  pointed to the red gasoline can sitting next to the lawn mower beyond the workbench. “Get that.”

“But why?” The words left Eddie’s mouth before he could stop them.

“Son, I’m teaching you a lesson.”

Eddie nodded, just happy not to have been clobbered. He picked up the red container. The liquid inside sloshed around, shifting the weight from left to right, right to left. The handle was cold against his hot flesh.

“Come on,” Michael said, leading his son to the living room where notebooks were stacked neatly on the chipped coffee table. They were green and spiral-bound. The lined pages were filled with Eddie’s stories, essays, and poems.

“How?” Eddie stuttered. When he was done writing his stories, he took special care to hide the notebooks behind the short bookcase in his bedroom. Everywhere else seemed far too obvious: under his bed, in his closet, in his dresser. So he stacked the notebooks, spine to spine, leaving barely a gap between the bookcase and the wall. He had been certain his father wouldn’t stumble across his writings there.

“My job is to know how the cons hide their contraband. You thought you could fool me?” Michael laughed, but the sound was completely void of warmth. “This is garbage, Eddie. Farris men are better than this. We don’t hide away in our rooms and scribble nonsense about the flowers and the wind and other bullshit. We act like men. It’s time you grew up. I allowed this hobby of yours to go on too long. That was my mistake, but I’m fixing it now. Put that shit in the fireplace.”

“No,” Eddie whispered, closing his eyes and bracing for the sudden impact he was certain was on the way. Yet when he wasn’t hit or kicked or thrown to the floor, he opened his eyes.

His father was dragging his mother by the arm. White marks were forming on her flesh where the huge hand squeezed into her. She winced, gritting her teeth, but said nothing.

“Eddie, don’t make me ask you again. I’m doing this for your own good. It’ll help make you right.”

Pain flashed in his mother’s eyes. Her body twitched under the force exerted by her husband’s hand, and Eddie knew he had no choice. If he disobeyed his father, his mother would pay for the defiance. He understood how this game was played. He had chosen to take a risk and he had lost. Now he had to pay-up, the loser in a big gamble.

Hands trembling, Eddie gathered his notebooks. Three years of his thoughts filled their lined pages. Three years of dedication and devotion. Page after page contained the images he developed during the day and then composed onto the paper. There wasn’t anything he could do to save them. He walked to the fireplace, his legs heavy.

“Son, this is for the best,” his father said, his voice suddenly aching with sympathy. “It really is. You’ll understand eventually when you’re a real man.”

Eddie didn’t respond. He opened the glass doors of the fireplace, but he held onto the notebooks as long as he could. Then, when he heard his father grunt and take another step toward him, he tossed the spiral-bound pages onto the pile of charred logs. They landed there, helpless and pitiful, a couple of them open to random stories he would never read again. He wanted to dive in and pull the notebooks out, but there really wasn’t any reason to try. His father would beat him and his mother and then destroy the contraband himself. Or maybe he’d do something worse.

“Now the gas,” Michael coaxed.

Eddie unscrewed the rusted cap. Acrid fumes drilled straight into his nose. He held his breath and fought the urge to run from the house. He splashed the harsh liquid onto the notebooks. The paper soaked up the gas, the white pages growing dark, the darkness spreading to the edges, to the metal spiral binding, saturating the thin cardboard covers Eddie had carefully labeled with titles and dates when the works were created. Once the notebooks were coated, he put the container on the floor.

Michael’s calloused fingers handed his son a single wooden match. Eddie took the tiny piece of wood. Tears dribbled from his eyes and his entire body shuddered. He swiped the red tip on the mantle. The match flared to life. The flame chewed down to his skin, the sulfur smell reaching his nose, burning his eyes. His flesh stung.

Eddie wished for a reprieve, prayed for a miracle, but he knew none was coming. Breathing deeply, he tossed the match into the fireplace. The notebooks burst into flames, a loud whoosh engulfing the room, fire reaching out for him on the fumes, a plume of black smoke rising into the chimney.

Vomit rushed into Eddie’s throat, but he managed to choke it down, the acid burning in his mouth. He coughed. His chest hitched.

“Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, and all that jazz,” Michael whispered into Eddie’s ear. “Don’t fuck with me, son. Don’t ever break my rules again.”

Eddie remained motionless, his eyes locked on the fire and his notebooks.

“I’ll be home at five tonight,” Michael stated. “But you’d better be here right after school. Understand me, boy?”

Eddie nodded, but he didn’t look away from the smoke and the flames.


* * *

(continue to the next chapter)

(return to the Table of Contents)

THE ECHO OF MEMORY: CHAPTER TWO (From the Handwritten Account of Eddie Farris)

(return to the Table of Contents)

Chapter Two:
From the Handwritten Account of Eddie Farris

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The doctors keep telling me I’m only eighteen, they keep saying the young are better at healing and I will recover fully, but right now I feel like I’m eighty and my body is full of concrete.

My eyelids are heavy.

I can barely lift my head.

My right hand is bandaged where the pieces of glass sliced me open.

I shouldn’t even be here. I should be in some boring class at school, not in a hospital.

I should be with Rachel.

But instead I’m in this place, probably still bleeding internally for all I know.

The doctors don’t tell me much, or if they do, the next day I can’t remember what they said.

Other than: I’m eighteen and young people can heal and recover from this sort of thing.

But what sort of thing do they mean?

The painkillers mess with my head.

Here I am, secluded from the real world, all alone in the hospital.

Where will I be in five years?

In seven?


Doesn’t matter. Not today.

Today I have to get started on this little project of mine.

My goal is simple: to figure out what went wrong.

I can’t remember much of what happened and the doctors refuse to tell me.

They say those details will return eventually.

I think writing down what I can recall might jog my memory.

Where’s the best place to start?

Well, where did every day of my life for the last eighteen years start?

The town of Black Hills, of course.

Our valley is a hodgepodge of farms and isolated homes scattered along Rural Route #324.

To the west is the Black Rock State Penitentiary, which is more than a hundred years old.

There are dozens of buildings inside the thirty-eight foot high stone wall: cellblocks, a workshop, a laundry, a chapel, and even a garage for doing maintenance work on the prison’s vehicles.

Orange NO TRESPASSING signs are posted on the trees near the prison.

There are guard towers every forty yards along the wall.

This is where my father went to work after he dropped out of high school.

A few miles down the road, there is another gloomy complex at the end of a windy road most people outside of the valley don’t even know exists.

Originally there were ten separate buildings constructed in the 1880s, but additions over the years connected every section to another, creating a single, giant, slithering structure.

This was once a state run hospital for the criminally insane, true story, no shit, but President Reagan closed all of them in the 1980s and now it’s a privately owned mental health facility with some long, fancy name.

Everyone just calls it the Asylum.

The Asylum is one of the hidden worlds along RR #324.

There are many others, many more I probably don’t even know about and I’ve lived here all my life.

You’d have to ask the old gossips who spend their mornings in the Black Hills Diner drinking too much coffee and their afternoons smoking too many cigarettes on the front porch of the Nolan’s General Store if you really want the dirty details.

Every now and then a gravel or dirt driveway cuts through the fields or the woods to meet with RR #324.

Some of the driveways are no wider than a small path.

They lead to the homes and shacks of outcasts and isolationists alike, for whom Black Hills is a place to visit as little as possible.

Everyone has their reasons for avoiding civilization.

Some of those reasons are a little more off the wall than others.

At the top of one particular gravel driveway is a ranch style house in a small clearing.

This is where my story begins.

Kurt Farris, my grandfather, built the house. My father’s father.

He had a long history of problems.

I learned some details from my mother, the rest from people in town. They enjoy talking.

Every now and then, in the halls at school, I still hear someone whispering my sister’s name.


Poor, sweet Mary.

She died when she was four.

Her arrival in our lives had been a miracle, the doctors said.

My birth had complications. They said my mother would never have another child.

And then, seven years later, her belly grew large and our family grew closer.

My father couldn’t express his happiness. He and my mother had always wanted another child.

We loved Mary.

But something happened a week after her fourth birthday.

I was eleven when the accident tore our family apart.

If it really was an accident.

Mary will be four years old until the end of eternity.

But I’ve grown up.

* * *

(continue to the next chapter)

(return to the Table of Contents)

New Chapbook: “An Unusual Proposition For a Mountain Man”

“An Unusual Proposition For a Mountain Man” is the second chapbook I’m printing exclusively for my Patreon supporters, and Glenn Chadbourne contributed five interior pieces of artwork to make the chapbook extra special. This reward will ship to all supporters who are on Level Two or above as of January 31, 2019, so now is the perfect time to sign-up if you’re interested in what I’m doing over on Patreon!

About the Chapbook:
When he heard the polite knock on the cabin’s wooden door, Buddy “Bud” Williams was certain another pretty face had arrived to represent the developer who wanted his land to build a neighborhood of godawful McMansions.

Bud was right on one of those counts, but very very wrong about the other. The person at his door came with a life-changing offer, but the life that would be changed the most was not Bud’s… it was his son’s life, probably the only person Bud actually cared about.

What will Bud do when it’s time to make the most important decision of his life, and what will the true consequences of that decision be?A

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