Lights Out Cover

(Previously published under the pseudonym “Stephen Bentley.”)

Welcome to Hilltown, NJ, a place the kids have always called Helltown. It’s nothing like the suburb you might live in . . . Unless, that is, an insane, Listerine-guzzling Realtor sold you your house? Or perhaps your postman happens to have a disturbing relationship with his claw hammer?

A grieving Dan LaBarbara knows something is different in Helltown as soon as he comes back home. Yeah, sure, the town always been a little off. You can feel that about the place, like if you stepped into a house whose only occupants were freshly murdered corpses in an upstairs bedroom. But this is something else entirely.

Standing in his little brother Barbie’s basement workshop, holding one of those dioramas Barbie’s been building since the accident, the ones that seem to move when you hold them, Dan can feel Barbie’s terror. Barbie must know something is coming, something big, something evil. He’s trying to warn Dan in the only way he knows.

Why else would Barbie build a diorama depicting a man-sized version of a cartoon rabbit with bloody teeth about to devour a trembling teenager? Why else would he spend so much time crafting an intricate model of Death standing over a pimply teenager in the school library? And let’s not even talk about that little model of the mob of undead surrounding the massive tower of vicious black spines behind the high school.

Hilltown has a story to tell, and the lonely brain-damaged man who builds magical dioramas in his basement workshop has been telling it all along.

As the evil closes in around them, Dan and his new love interest Jessica must do the impossible: save everyone one in Hilltown before it’s too late.



Lights Out Cover

Lights Out: Five Dark Tales


Any railroading man worth his salt knows about the bad stretch of tracks they call the Cut, and Ernie Simms has been a Bangor and Aroostook Railroad man his entire adult life. One warm fall day in 1947, a couple of kids go missing there, and the yard boss tasks Ernie and his buddies to investigate. What they find is much worse than they feared. The Cut has gone bad again, and they must all face . . . the DEADSHINE.

Tug the Bug Man:

Hal Grafton and reality are on shaky terms. He is half of the Tug the Bug Man Pest Control team. His other half, Franklin “Tug” Tuggle, is nowhere to be found. Worse, Hal has awakened in a high-security hospital with the hangover of his life. No memories survived his epic blackout–at least, not at first . . .

From the Desk of Robert Ballinger:

Robert Ballinger was just like any other seventeen-year-old kid growing up in a rich suburb until Mrs. Gulch moved into the basement and ate his grandmother. Was the bloody EZ-Tie shoe it left at the top of the basement stairs a peace offering . . . or a declaration of war?

Yard Work:

Detective Lou Bailey knows a thing or two about yard work, but nothing can prepare him for the tragic story of Frank Lavelle, a man who’s either lost his marbles after the disappearance of his wife or is the deadliest gardener in the history of gardeners.


“You don’t want to go out there. They’ll be all over us.” Nothing could have prepared Jason Reynolds for his first day on the job. He’s on the lookout for Runners with his psychotic new boss, Tommy, a man who seems to enjoy killing on the job.



Die for My Sins Cover

Sex, drugs, and rock and roll

An endless supply of cash, oversexed groupies, drugs, booze, and in-your-face rock and roll. This was the life of Billy Bitch, a legendary heavy-metal guitarist with a f@#k-you attitude and the monster chops to back it up.


But something or someone brought him down at the height of his fame. Billy vanished.

Everyone has a story about Billy, his excesses, his obsession with witchcraft and the occult . . . and his descent into madness while secluded in his Weston, Connecticut mansion.

Murder . . . or Mayhem?

Music journalist David Blackwood believes Billy was murdered, and he’s determined to find out what happened to his one-time hero.

Lies and deceit

The world of addled ex rock stars and the eccentric groupies who obsess over them soon drag David into a snake pit. Someone knows the truth. But who? Billy’s creepy drummer? His charismatic lead singer? A roadie with a past? In the murky world of rock and roll, everyone, David learns, has a reason to keep the past in the past.

A thrilling finale

As David closes in, a wicked plan, set into motion the moment he began his investigation, races towards its deadly conclusion, and David is not the only one fighting to save his life.



DeadOfWynterCover_sm[An] effective thrill ride.“—Publishers Weekly

. . . cracks like footsteps on frozen branches. You’ll have trouble putting this down until the last page has been turned. This is not only a fine first novel, it’s a terrific novel, period.“—Michael Palmer, New York Times Bestselling Author

. . . packs a wallop, with writing as raw and rugged as its landscape and characters. You’ll want to stay with it until the last shot is fired.“—Gerry Boyle, author of Damaged Goods, and the Jack McMorrow mystery series

Thought-provoking, chilling and addictive, [Dead of Wynter] is a fast-paced and seductive ride.“—Paige Crutcher, Examiner.com

. . . a haunting mystery told in a lyrical style with unforgettable characters.“—Kaye George, Author of Choke, for Suspense Magazine


Some say ghosts aren’t real. Alice Wynter would tell you otherwise. Sometimes they come back to haunt. Sometimes they come back to exact revenge on the living.

A phone call in the middle of the night brings horrific news: Alice Wynter’s father has committed suicide out on a lonely highway in her hometown of rural Redding, Maine. Her alcoholic twin brother is missing and presumed dead. All the result of a downward spiral fueled by years of alcohol abuse and poisonous mutual hatred between father and son.

Twenty-five years after fleeing her broken, self-destructing family, Alice returns to Maine to bury her father and a toxic family history she knows is to blame for what happened out on that cold two-lane highway.

The truth is far worse than she imagined. Detectives are calling her father’s death a homicide and want Alice and her mother to help find her brother, if he’s still alive. But there are some family secrets her mother would sooner take to the grave than reveal. Alice Wynter is forced to admit that she herself holds the key to unlocking not only the mystery of her father’s death but the 25-year-old murder that started it all.

This enthralling suspense thriller leaves a chilling trail as family members come to grips with the harm they have done to one another and the tragedy of a life without love.



LovesickCover_smA true thriller . . . my head is spinning from the heart racing, breath holding, fist clenching, mouth drying conclusion!“—MysteryNet.com

. . . a gripping tale full of diversionary plot twists and well defined, engaging characters that made it hard to put down.“—Linda Hitchcock, Booktrib Review Crew (link no longer active)

Late one night out on the Eastern Promenade Trail in Portland, Maine, the police discover an incoherent teenager sitting in a pool of blood, holding the body of his best friend and the murder weapon. The girl they both love has been missing for weeks.

The kid’s jealousy clearly drove him to murder. He says the missing girl is the love of his life. She also happens to be the girlfriend of the murder victim.

It’s an open and shut case, or so most of Portland thinks.

Dr. Lisa Boyers, forensic psychologist, receives a call from an old friend, a connection to her troubled past. Attorney Rudy Swaner wants her to interview the young killer Paul Ducharme, who is claiming he doesn’t remember the events leading up to the murder.

In her jailhouse interviews, Lisa helps Paul to recover his memories. But something about Paul’s disturbing love story shakes Lisa to the very core of her being. To understand Paul, she is forced to confront her own ugly, violent secrets.

Media attention mounts. Reporters stream into Portland. All eyes turn to the psychologist who seems intent on exonerating the vicious teen killer. Soon Lisa finds herself the focus of an over-zealous reporter with a knack for digging up dirty secrets.

But the killer who has Lisa in the crosshairs already knows them all.



Beating Blitz Cover

Besides dreaming up grizzly stories and writing them down, I’m also something of a computer nerd/white-hat hacker. Lately, I’ve been obsessing over a kick-@#! Bejeweled Blitz-playing bot I built. (For the uninitiated, a “bot” is a piece of software that performs some complex task autonomously.)

My bot scored less than 10,000 points on its first game. By the end, it could routinely beat the Bejeweled Blitz Guinness World Record in regulation game play and all the daily challenges, earning me tons of rare gems, all the while humiliating any Facebook friends who dared challenge me in the weekly tournaments. (Sorry about that!)

How did I do it?

Follow along in my easy-to-read, diagram-rich guide, where we’ll build a bot from the ground up, together. I cover all the gory details, including computer-vision techniques, move-picking algorithms, playing strategies, as well as tips for debugging.

Sure, this is a book about building a Bejeweled Blitz bot, but it’s also about critical thinking and complex programming techniques. If you’re new to Python (as I was) or programming in general (I’m a veteran), you’ll have fun as well as learn some cool stuff. Oh, and there’s this: nothing earns white-hat-hacker street cred like building a good bot.

My bot’s best score is 1,299,950 in a regulation game (no boosts, no rare gems). This is over 350,000 points higher than the current Guinness World Record!



Beating Blitz Cover

Love Scrivener? Me too. Microsoft Word? Not so much. But many publishers, agents, and industry professionals require manuscripts in a properly styled Word document.

For good reason. Styles are an essential and powerful feature. Mastering them is a critical component of being a writer, especially in the age of the Kindle and self-publishing.

By now, you might be thinking, Yeah, but doesn’t Scrivener export Word documents? It sure does . . . with no styles and therefore a whole mess ‘o direct formatting, which can make working with a large manuscript much more painful and error prone than it has to be.

In this casual, short, and thorough ebook, I’ll teach you all about Word’s paragraph and character styles as well as a (mostly) painless way to convert your Scrivener manuscript to a Word document with proper styling.

So why not get styling?