Attention readers and followers of my Ridgewood books. After months of consideration, I decided to retitle Night of the Hellhounds, the first novel in the Vree Erickson series. The story began as “Ghost Dogs,” a short story I wrote in the 1970s that dealt heavily with a pack of vicious ghost dogs chasing the main character. Over the next 40 years, I rewrote the story several times, changed the ghost dogs to hellhounds, and retitled it “Night of the Hell Hounds.” I gave the story to my teen character Lenny Stevens in 2012 and published it January 2013 at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Meanwhile, I remembered writing a rough draft novel of the hellhound story for my teen character Vree Erickson in 2006. Its working title was Margga’s Curse, and it dealt little with hellhounds chasing the main character. Instead, Margga’s Curse concentrated on a witch seeking revenge on a man who killed her father. Margga is a bit insane, so after she kills the man, she then kills his wife and tries to kill their daughter. Her contemporaries put her to death, but Margga’s spirit returns annually on a night in July called “Night of the Hellhounds.” (She befriends some hellhounds in the spirit world, so they join her on that night.) She continues her revenge and over the years, she kills the daughter, the daughter’s husband, and the wife of their son, and then continues her vengeance until Vree finally puts an end to Margga’s curse.
After I finished the novel, I spent months debating what to do with it. After all, it was the published hellhound story wearing a new outfit. While I debated, I showed the novel to friends and family, and most said they liked it over the short story. Some people wanted me to change the night to Halloween, but I felt it was too cliché. Why can’t there be other spooky nights during the year?
I replaced the short story with the novel and gave it the title Night of the Hellhounds. But a part of me wanted to keep the original title. This nagged me for years, though not too deeply until a few days ago. The more I listened, the more I realized I had to go with my gut feeling.
I have included two versions of the new cover above. The first is dressed in red and yellow colors, giving it a warm appearance. The second cover has an emphasis of blue in its colors to play down the warmth and give it a chillier look. And I whitened the title to make it colder as well and to add emphasis. I’m not sure which cover I’ll use, but any suggestions would be appreciated. I plan to choose the new cover and make the title change Sunday, March 6, and have them ready Tuesday, March 8 at Amazon. Changes at Barnes and Noble will follow later in the month.
What do you think of the title? Which cover do you like best? Have you read the “Night of the Hell Hounds” short story or any of the versions published at my old website? Have you read my novel or any of my other books? If so, which books are your favorites? Do you have a favorite character? I would love to hear what you think.