Friday, July 14, 2017


"Love, Death and Other Lies," my book that was published through Tell-Tale Publishing Group recently, is going to be on a book blog tour in August!!!  Yeah.  I'm  excited.  I'd love to see more reviews posted for it online.  And, through the tour, I know I'll see at least two.  Hopefully it will steer more horror fans to it as well.  If so, I'll be a happy camper.   So, if you have time, check it out online.   

The tour dates?  Well here you go:

August 16th 
August 17th Mythical Books - Book Spotlight
August 18th
August 19th 
August 20th
August 21st 
August 22nd
August 23rd 
August 24th
August 25th - The Attic Ghost - Review
August 26th - JBronder Book Reviews - Review
August 27th 
August 28th - Mello June Book Blog - Book Spotlight
August 29th.
Many thanks to Sage of Sage's Blog Tours for setting this book tour up for me!  For any aspiring authors out there who might come across this post, I highly recommend that you check her out.  She's easy to work with and will do one Hell of a job.  You can find out more about Sage, and the details on my book tour, at Sage's website here:

Wednesday, June 14, 2017


My novel Love, Death and Other Lies was released by Tell-Tale Publishing Group on June 4th! You can now go on-line and purchase the book through most of the larger on-line book stores such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million, GoodReads and, of course, through Tell-Tale's own online bookstore.  

I do hope that anyone who reads this enjoys the story.  Please know I tried to put an emphasis on the characters and their motivations, which is what I believe makes horror stories seem a little more real. 

If you haven't already, you may want to check out my interview with the Whimsical Herald.  You can find it at:

And, for those of you still wondering exactly who I am and what my background is, here's the bio I provided Tell-Tale, which you'll find on their website:

Jerome Sparks is a native of West Virginia.  He majored in the highly unprofitable and nonspecific field of Creative Productions while attending the University of Charleston in Charleston, West Virginia.  Hoping to become a college professor, Sparks went on to earn a Master of Arts degree in Humanities, with a concentration in literary theory from the West Virginia Graduate College located in Institute, West Virginia.  But, after an unsuccessful attempt to teach English at the college level (for which he offers his most sincere apologies to his former students), Sparks took the easy out and pursued a J.D. from Tulane Law School in New Orleans, Louisiana.  Sparks called New Orleans home for several years, haunting the bars and bistros of the French Quarter, before finally following a girl back to West Virginia where he is currently practicing law.  (Yes, he married the girl.)  Sparks and his family now live happily in the West Virginia hills.

Finally, just in case you'd like a taste of the story in Love, Death and Other Lies, here is the Prologue:


February 24, 2017

He woke.  Suddenly, as if escaping a nightmare. He groaned as he forced his dry, matted eyelids open.  Despite his effort, only more darkness pressed in around him.  His tongue was thick and swollen in a mouth that felt stuffed with sawdust.  The air seemed heavy and smelled of strong chemicals and synthetic materials. 
His legs were stiff, and his back ached.  Shifting his weight, Conner discovered that his body was confined. Confused, he felt around him and discovered a space only a little larger than his own size, preventing him from moving. 
Even after that detection, the panic didn’t immediately set in.  His thoughts were drifting in a thick fog, memories hazy, and his immediate circumstances failed to register.  He couldn’t remember where he was or how he got here, and the lack of any illumination prevented him from doing a proper survey of his surroundings. 
But it was more than that.  Conner couldn’t remember exactly what had happened to him before he woke, not the immediate events that placed him there, or those preceding them.  He couldn’t recall a single name to cry out, not even his own.  All he knew was that he wasn’t where he was supposed to be.  He knew it deep in his gut. 
This was wrong. 
He struggled with the snippets he could recall – faint images and impressions of faces and people and places.  But none helped him recall anything more.  He waited for his mind to clear, for the miasma to lift. 
Conner pressed his hands against his confinement and wondered at the cool, smooth texture of the fabric he was tearing at. When the crushing realization that he was imprisoned registered, a cold chill crept over him. He was entombed and alone. 
His mind suddenly racing, Conner fumbled to find some latch, some bolt or lever that would open a door or a window or a hatch to release him from his stifling cell.  But there was none.  No exit.  No escape.  And when he opened his mouth to scream for help all that burbled up from his throat was an unintelligible, garbled howl.   
Thrashing, Conner threw himself against the low ceiling and walls of his personal vault.  He clawed desperately at the soft, silky material inches from his nose until his cold fingers touched hard, smooth wood – then he paused.  He ran his fingernails over the polished wood.  It was much too hard.  Clawing wouldn’t see him through it.  If nothing else could cut through the fog in his mind that fact had.  It was horribly apparent.  
Conner searched himself, his hands pausing as they found his belt buckle.  Loosening his belt, he slipped it from his waist.  Then, gripping the metal buckle tightly in his hands, he proceeded to hack at the wood until it splintered.  He continued to chip away, for endless seconds, minutes, hours, the buckle cutting into his fingers and his fleshy palms with each thud against the roof of his cramped tomb, until a small break in the wood finally opened and Conner could smell the dank, rich odor of earth and well-watered sod. 
He continued on, pressing his muscles to action, summoning an incredible strength he never knew he had.
Conner’s fingers tore into the soil, shoveling mud and muck into his cramped confines until he could finally begin to pull himself into the small chasm he’d dug.  Then, with his legs beneath him, he continued to dig and push and work his way up through the loose earth until his right arm jutted up and out of the ground into the open air.  He could feel a cold, soft rain striking his skin.
He used his legs to push his upper body up out of the earth, a dark sky above him, the gentle rain splattering against his cheeks, his fingers raw from tunneling through rock and dirt.  Then, with one final burst of strength, Conner hauled himself up out of the ground, collapsing in the mud beside the tombstone. 
It didn’t sink in.  Not at first.  Not for a long while.  He’d read the name on the tombstone four times before he could finally place it – Conner Bestte.  And, when it did register, he let loose another garbled howl
He knew the name was his, but he couldn’t conceive of why it appeared on a tombstone. What was he doing here? Who had done this to him?
Shambling down the hill, weaving through a forest of gravestones and monuments, Conner made for the gates of the graveyard and the mist-shrouded road beyond.  He struggled onward, his joints aching, his mind reeling, his memories still only discordant, drifting remnants of images and ideas, disembodied emotions and vague recollections. 
But, as he hobbled along, one image came to him. One image stood out among all the others as he pressed ahead – her image. The image of that young, beautiful woman, the woman he knew he’d once loved, the woman he knew he’d once desired, longed for, yearned for, the one woman he’d risked everything for – was the woman he now wanted to kill more than anything, to rend her limbs from her body and listen to her scream in agony as he ripped the flesh from her bones. He wanted to place her under his heel and stamp out the last gasp of her life. 
But, struggle as he might, he couldn’t remember why.  Although, in that moment, as he stumbled out onto the street, the why didn’t matter. 
Only the urge mattered – the urge to do her harm, the urge to see her dead, the urge to rip skin and muscle away from her body with his teeth. 
That is all that mattered. 
The rest would come to him later, when he’d finished with her. 

Monday, May 8, 2017

My Novel's Release Is Getting Closer!

I know anyone who has been following this blog is probably surprised to see me posting to it so soon after my last post only  a month ago.  However, I'm posting because I received the cover to my upcoming novel - Love, Death and Other Lies - and I wanted to share it.  So, here it is . . .

It doesn't have a release date, yet.  However, as soon as it does, I'll pass it along.

I don't know if anyone has visited the site of the publisher, Tell-Tale Publishing (, and seen the summary of the story.  So, I'll share that with you, too, just in case.

Love, Death & Other Lies

During an ill-fated girls’ night out, still reeling from the loss of her husband, Liv Bestte meets a mysterious, old woman who promises to return her husband to her – for a price. It isn’t until the reanimated corpse of her late husband has begun terrorizing the hills and hollows around Julian, West Virginia, tearing flesh from bone, that Liv learns the price is her soul.

Now Liv is racing against time to find a way to satisfy this debt without sacrificing herself. And she soon learns that the only way she might escape her grisly fate is by offering up her daughter, Tegan, in her place.

But is it already too late for Liv? Is Liv’s fate sealed by family history? When Liv is about to make an ill-fated decision, it is Liv’s younger sister, Abby, who stands in her way, despite the fact that Abby was the first victim of the resurrected thing that was once Conner Bestte.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

I Love A Character Driven Story

It's only April and already this year is an incredibly busy one.  I barely have time to think while moving from one project to the next.

Please understand, I'm not complaining.  I make my living as an attorney and the health of my legal practice can be measured by how busy I am.  And, yes, the fact that I must make my living as an attorney means I'm unable to depend on the sales of my writing as a true income.  I would hope to see that change.  Hope being the operative word.  But, I know that only the most successful writers (Stephen King, Anne Rice, J.K. Rowling) can live off their writing alone.  (And for those I named, deservedly so.)

Anyway, I simply mean to inform you of how busy things are in the hope that you'll excuse my long lapse in posting anything new to this blog.

Of course, the fact that I'm busy doesn't mean I'm not writing or working on a story.  I really can't help myself.  Some ideas pop in my head and I just have to jot them down or flesh them out.  At the moment, there are two stories rattling around in my brain.  The story I'm actively working on is a story about a demon who shadows a girl from her childhood into her young adult life.  It's not as conventional as it sounds and there are plenty of twists and complications thrown in.  Otherwise, this would be a short story and not a novel.

The thing is, while working on this story, I realized that I love writing stories with characters that start out as children and grow into adults.  That way I can show their progression from where they started to who they are when the story ends.  And that journey, hopefully, will explain why they ended up where they ended up.  For a horror story, I can show why the fate that befalls my characters is fitting or tragic or sad.    

The key for me though is the fact that I think of this as a character driven story.  I have a hard time getting into any story if it's not character driven - anything I read or anything I watch.  If the choices a character makes aren't natural and don't fit with how they've been depicted, then the story itself doesn't seem real to me and always seems forced.  More often than not, when I'm reading a piece of genre fiction or watching a movie/t.v. show that falls under the sci-fi or horror label, the characters always seem to be thinly drawn and subservient to the plot itself.  I don't like that, I like a plot that evolves out of the choices a character has made.      

That isn't to say plot driven stories can't be good or that they have no quality.  The best example of successful plot driven story-telling was on television in the form of NBC's long running television series "Law and Order."  Over it's 20 year run, each episode of the series opened with a crime, which saw an ever changing roster of detectives set out to solve it. Then, in the second half of the episode, the show's team of prosecuting attorneys would see to it that the perpetrators were brought to justice by pressing criminal charges.

There is no doubt that each story told during a given episode was well written.  The show was, if nothing else, a well oiled machine when it came to telling a police procedural. And each of the stories moved along quickly, with sleek efficiency.  However, and this is a subjective criticism, I never really connected with the characters on the show.  The characters were all portrayed by wonderfully talented actors - the late, great Jerry Orbach being among them.  But, I never got to know these characters very well, other than being able to recognize some idiosyncrasies and foibles thrown in as if they were salt and pepper being added to a stew.  What I saw when I watched Law and Order with my wife were characters that reminded me of some office acquaintances.  I might know them and something about their backgrounds/history, but I didn't really have a sense of who they truly were as people.  

Conversely, one of the greatest examples of a successful television series with a character driven plot (for the most part) is AMC's "Breaking Bad."  It was perfect The story depicted the journey of Walter White, who starts out as something of a mouse and ends up an over confident drug kingpin.

The development of the character is believable because of who Walter is.  Vince Gilligan, the series' creator, and his writing team, did a masterful job of showing the audience how Walter goes from being a put upon high school chemistry teacher with great technical skills, to a cold, calculating meth cook/dealer who overestimates his own genius.

The tragic turn in Walter's character is so rich because Gilligan and his crew show us Walter from the beginning, when he is struggling with debt as an under-valued teacher lacking self-esteem, bristling at perceived slights from people he considers less cerebral and less deserving of their good fortune.  From this point, over five seasons, Walter uses his scientific know how and skill to build a successful criminal enterprise - one that he rules over with an unearned confidence.  Of course, it is Walter's belief that he is deserving, because of his intelligence, that leads to his downfall.  Walter eventually comes to believe that he is too smart for anyone to bring down and this over-confidence sees him laid low.  And along the way, none of his decisions seem forced or awkward.  All are true to who Walter is and the way he would naturally act. Every step Walter White took toward the conclusion of the series is a step that only Walter White could take because of his psyche, his circumstances and his hubris.

When the series ended I felt like I knew Walter White - every ugly thing about him.  Breaking Bad was that kind of show, one that gives you an intimate look inside a character's mind.  And, that's the kind of story that pulls me in and keeps me coming back for more.

So, when I write, I try to make sure that I focus on the characters and let the story go where it does based upon the choices they would make.  I've even changed the outcome of a story because it didn't fit with the character I'd put on the page.  Of course, more often than not, since I write horror stories, the choices my characters make are not always the best.  And, it's not just the story's protagonist, but the villain's, too.  I want them to act in a way that seems believable, that seems plausible based upon who they are.

I don't know that I'm always successful, but I try.      

Friday, December 16, 2016


I’ve always loved movies.  There’s never been a time when I couldn’t lose myself in a film – vegging out in front of a movie screen or television, a soda in one hand and pizza/popcorn in the other.  When I was in high school, back in the 1980s in Madison, West Virginia, I used to run around with a group of guys who loved movies almost as much as me.  If we weren’t traveling to the theater, we were renting movies on VHS.  (Movies were a cheap and effective way to escape the monotony of our lives in the southern coal fields, for a little while at the very least.)  I can remember whole weekends devoted to movie marathons.

And our favorite movie genre at that time?  Naturally, horror films.

Well, it’s Christmas time and this time of year has its own specific brand of film.  And I’ll admit, there are some great Christmas movies.  And, I’ll also admit that I watch them all when they hit television.  However, for every film that’s even comparable to the classic It’s a Wonderful Life, you have a hundred that are more akin to Arnold Schwarzenegger's 1996 bomb Jingle All the Way, co-starring Sinbad; or Michael Keaton’s 1988 movie Jack Frost.  Jack Frost is the creepiest story about family bonding ever made.  Why?  Well, because Keaton’s character dies, is resurrected as a snowman and only then does he finally put some effort into getting to know his son.  (You would think Jack Frost would have some kitsch value, based upon that description.  But, no, it doesn’t.)   

Now, there have been more than a few attempts to marry the horror genre and the Christmas holiday.  Sadly, more often than not, they don’t work.  The majority are tone deaf gore-fests without a story, plot or anything memorable to recommend.  (I know there are some out there who will argue the virtues of the 1980s slasher schlockfest known as Silent Night, Deadly Night.  So, let me make short shrift of this – there are none.  The movie is void of virtue.) 

There have only been a couple of movies that successfully mashed horror and Christmas together – like peanut butter and chocolate in a Reese’s cup.  The first that I can remember doing it was Gremlins, back in the 1980s.  No, this isn’t a great film.  But, it was fun and entertaining.  (And that’s all it needs to be.)  But, in Gremlins the fact that the story takes place at Christmas time is superfluous.  You could’ve set the film during almost any other time of year and had the events play out in pretty much the same way.  So, while it did successfully combine horror and Christmas, the end result wasn’t wholly organic.  That outcome isn’t peculiar to Gremlins though.  This is true of almost every other holiday horror film that has been released: the holiday setting isn’t a requirement for the film to work.       

The film that managed the mash-up best is one that came out recently.  What is it you ask?  Why, it’s Krampus, a 2015 movie starring Toni Collette, Adam Scott and David Koechner.  One reason it works so well is that the chief boogey-man in the film springs from Eastern European myth and, like Santa himself, the devilish Krampus is said to only make an appearance once a year – at Christmas time.  Where Sherlock has his Moriarty, Bond has his Blofeld, and Harry Potter has his Tom Riddle (a/k/a Voldemort) – Santa has his Krampus (or the anti-Claus, if you like). And, while Santa rewards the good boys and girls by showering them with gifts, Krampus deals with the bad boys and girls by beating them, kidnapping them and then (after salting lightly) eating them. 

In Krampus, the story focuses on a young boy who, along with the other members of his dysfunctional family, loses sight of what Christmas really means.  Not only has he lost his Christmas cheer, he has also lost faith in Santa.  Things get so bad that the characters turn on one another, allowing their tempers and long festering squabbles to tear apart the connective tissue that makes them a family.  Needless to say, all of this ill will ushers in the Krampus.  Once he makes his entrance, the Krampus and his crew set about punishing the family, one by one, for treating one another so horribly.  (Yes, there is a healthy dose of comedy thrown in so the medicine goes down easy.)    

In the end, Krampus says something about how we ought to treat one another, especially during the Christmas season when we should be making an extra effort to approach our fellow man with good will, compassion and cheer.  And it demonstrates the horrors we face when we don’t treat one another with such kindness and understanding.  That is why this film works so well as not just a horror film, but as a Christmas film.  You don’t get that when you watch something like Silent Night, Deadly Night or Black Christmas. Neither of those film has anything that links them to Christmas except in the most superficial ways.  And, although I have a fondness for the movie as a child of the '80s, I have to admit that not even Gremlins meets the same standards that Krampus does.   

So, if you’re brave enough, you might toss Krampus into your mix of holiday films.

I dare you.  

Wednesday, December 14, 2016


Good news! After years of writing for myself, and the few friends and family members I've forced to read my babbling (I'm soooooo sorry Melinda, Sherry and Scotty), I recently signed with Tell-Tale Publishing and will have a new horror novel coming out titled Love, Death and Other Lies.  

There is no release date, yet. However, I do hope to see a cover coming soon. Once I have that, I'll post it here for everyone. And, don't worry, I'll be sure to post information on the release date once the good folks over at Tell-Tale have finished editing it.

In case you're interested in "Love, Death and Other Lies", here's a brief synopsis:

During an ill-fated girls’ night out, still reeling from the loss of her husband, Liv Bestte meets a mysterious, old woman who promises to return her husband to her – for a price. It isn’t until the reanimated corpse of her late husband has begun terrorizing the hills and hollows around Julian, West Virginia, tearing flesh from bone, that Liv learns the price is her soul.

Now Liv is racing against time to find a way to satisfy this debt without sacrificing herself. And she soon learns that the only way she might escape her grisly fate is by offering up her daughter, Tegan, in her place.

But is it already too late for Liv? Is Liv’s fate sealed by family history? When Liv is about to make an ill-fated decision, it is Liv’s younger sister, Abby, who stands in her way, despite the fact that Abby was the first victim of the resurrected thing that was once Conner Bestte - Liv's late husband.

IN THE MEANTIME . . .you might be interested in another West Virginia author who is also publishing through Tell-Tale: Amanda Summerbell. Her book, Family Sins, is up for sale at the Tell-Tale website as well as through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books a Million, etc., etc., etc.

Here's a link, in case you want to check her work out: