Category: Blog

Luis Paredes’s blog

Luis Appears on the Alley Report with Elford Alley

The American Devil Acceptance

The American Devil cover art featuring the story's main characters, Professor Siegfried Engel and Major Graf, walking through a ruined trench with a cloud in the background resembling the creature stalking them.

My WW1 era horror short story, the American Devil, makes its debut in the June 2024 issue of Max Blood’s Mausoleum.

Design house, Iracheta Horrors, brought my cover concept to life and I am in love with this artwork! It features the main characters professor Siegfried Engel and Major William Graf making their way through the trenches and away from the story’s titular character in the background.

The American Devil Synopsis
Professor Siegfried Engel is called to the frontline town of Cantigny, France to investigate the recent massacre of German troops by a new American super weapon dubbed, Organism 646.

Armed with a lifetime’s worth of occult knowledge, Siegfried reunites with his ex-lover, Major William Gräf, to track down and kill the winged, red-eyed creature before it attacks again.

Transforming Art into Words

Elijah Cole by Luis Paredes. Pen, ink, and pencil drawing on paper.

Sometimes words just aren’t enough. When I’ve hit a wall and can’t find a way to describe a character, I break out my art supplies. After a few minutes, the face that’s been hiding within my mind’s eye reveals itself on a sheet of bristol board or watercolor paper.

It’s exhilarating! Suddenly, the hero (or villain) of my story is staring right back at me. I’m always surprised by the details my subconscious adds to a drawing: scars, unique jewelry, missing extremities, or funny headwear.

These items or physical characteristics usually make it into my story and sometimes they don’t. Either way, I appreciate their appearance because they always help me find the words I needed.

“Luther” Illustration by Luis Paredes.

Storyboard Tip

This magic isn’t limited to characters. I often fall back to illustration when a particular scene doesn’t fall into place. When this happens, I’ll print out a few storyboard panels and sketch out the action. I’ve found that this technique helps me find my way out the jumbled mess I’ve written.

“Egon and Peyton” Illustration by Luis Paredes.

Free Storyboard Download

You can find plenty of storyboard templates and apps (paid and free) online or you can download the free storyboard template I created HERE.

The next time you find yourself hit with some writer’s block, reach for a fresh sheet of paper and a pencil. A quick sketch can breath new life into a flat character or a storyboard can help map out how your heroes make it out of a treacherous trap. Best of all, an entirely new story could bloom from a few smudges of charcoal or ink!

I’ve always found that art helps me find my writer’s voice again and I hope that it works for you too! Give it a go, post your artwork on Instagram and tag me, please!


crab with jack o lantern face

I wrote this letter to one of my siblings at the start of the COVID lockdown here in the USA. It was a way for me to stay connected with my family by sharing some key memories from my early life in Maryland.

Story and digital collage by Luis Paredes

Do you know what a sink full of Chesapeake blue crabs sound like when you pour boiling water over them?

It sounds like Dad laughing.

Once his giggling settled down you’d hear the hiss of steam snaking its way out of every crevice, joint, eye stalk and orifice as dozens of crustaceans waved their legs, flipped themselves over and pounded their claws against aluminum in one massive convulsion. Sometimes, the heat caused eggs to burst from abdomens in a yellowish froth, segmented jaws to crack open, shells to split in half or legs to fly off and land wriggling on the linoleum floor. 

After a few seconds, the contortions would slow as some of the crabs’ appendages would shrink inwards like skeletal hands closing into half formed fists while others would flatten out like limp rag dolls. After that, you might hear an occasional pop as the heat cooked the meat from the inside out, or perhaps a scrape of pincers against metal as a straggler tried to escape the basin. Then there’d be only a hissing silence from the sink and a gentle burbling from the second pot of water heating on the stove.

That’s when Mom would get to work: she’d lay out each crab on the counter, shower them with Old Bay seasoning, and occasionally hammer down an obstinate survivor. Then she’d dip each crab into the new boiling bath until the pot was full. 

While cooking, the heat would paint over each crab’s iridescent blue armor with a new coat of menacing jack-o’-lantern orange or a sunburned red. The seasoning, gritty in your nostrils with notes of sea salt and paprika, added a speckled texture to the shells. 

This transformation, depending on the size and number of blues inside, took fifteen or twenty minutes. To be sure they were safe to eat all mom would have to do is wait and watch; cooked crabs rise to the surface.

Then, with a pair of metal tongs, Mom would lift out each crab and place it onto a newspaper-covered platter, spacing each one out like playing cards; the weight and heat made the sheets crinkle and shrink as the mound of steaming shells grew taller. 

Once the table was set, the three of us would sit, say a quick prayer, and snatch a crab from the pile. If we weren’t careful, we’d prick a palm against the spiky ridges running along the shells or hold onto a blistering-hot carapace for a few seconds too long. Either way, we’d rub our wound or suck the heat off of our fingertips before jumping back in and snapping a claw or splitting an abdomen to reveal tender, succulent white meat.

I’ll admit, sometimes it wasn’t pretty: 

Every once in a while, after cracking open a shell, you’d find yourself staring at dollops of mustard-colored fat lining the interior dome, undercooked crab blood running black and gooey down your hands or  bumpy grey masses of roe. If I encountered any “defect” like that, I’d push the crab to the side and never finish. Dad, noticing my discomfort, would snatch these pieces from my plate and eat them in front of me, usually without breaking eye contact.

By the end of dinner, the table would look like a bizarre war zone: crab mallets with whiskers of white flesh clinging to the sides, seafood crackers clinching a burst claw, chipped shells, and piles of dismembered legs and half eaten crabs (usually mine) splayed on and over plates. 

Clean up was a mess. Luckily, I was too young to do the bulk of the work so I was able to walk away and let the adults do the wiping, scouring, and washing. The only thing left when they were through was the smell of crab that lingered in the air through the next day.

Those were some of the best weeknights of my life back when we lived in Maryland. I wasn’t always happy spending an entire day or night fishing and crabbing on a cold pier, but the delicious meals at the end made it all worth it. 

I can’t remember if we ever did this together in Virginia or on a trip to Pax River, so I wanted to share this memory with you. 

Now you can enjoy a slice of time from before you were born.

Luxury Cigar Picks

skull cigar pick by maven gems

Locked inside luminous Australian Opals are scents cigar smokers love – soil, wood, dust, crushed leaves, and forest undergrowth.

To release these aromas from the stone, all you have to do is press an opal against a diamond-coated grinding wheel spinning at 1,800 RPMs. Or, you can take the word of Aaron Hayes, a lapidary artist, who crafts luxury cigar picks from precious and semi-precious stones like emeralds, sapphires, jade, lapis, and turquoise; fossilized ivory, dinosaur bone, and coral; metals like titanium and gold – even human finger bones…

This is a sample of one of the many blog posts I’ve written for my cigar accessory website, Vice Merchant. The photographs on this page were taken by me. You can read the full story on:


lunch poem by luis paredes

My eyes burn with sage
harsh, misty, and verdant
The chalk-white smoke curls
around my lashes, collecting
pooling into dew drops, falling
gently into the voice below
I hear the call of my rusted gut
aching with hunger and fear
Just a bite,” it says with a
bulge of regret, pushing
against my clammy shirt
…my appetite is alive

by Luis Paredes

Night in the City

night in the city poem by luis paredes

Dive bar hotdogs dredged from the deep
well whiskey karaoke shots, Papaya
slices, and Christopher St. cigars

Our appetite for panang curry is
legendary, but now lost to the swirling, snowy mist on the bottom
of that $13 bottle of sake.

This is the last call: bus, train, and
ferry cocktail to slip you back home.

God bless the MTA.

Night in the City
by Luis Paredes
June 8, 2020

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