Derp stoat. There’s always one…
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So, the big announcement today is that James Roy Daley, publisher of Books of the Dead, obviously not tired of my shit as of yet, has signed me to a new two-book deal for two (the last two!) of my older, rewritten novels.
The first, originally titled The Rat-Catcher’s King, will be out sometime this summer, I think. It will be re-titled as The Exterminator because evidently Roy is so afraid of rats he can’t even abide having one in the title. I wanted to call it Rat! The Novel…but no.
This one’s basically a horrorized, modern-day retelling of the Pied Piper legend…with rats of course, sorry Roy!
The second book, which still needs a rewrite/polish, is currently titled The Orpheus Box, and concerns two shadowy occult organizations vying for the device Thomas Edison invented to communicate with the dead, which is partially true. I don’t know if the title will stick or not, and it won’t probably be out until this fall.
So, here’s what’s stirring in 2014 for me:
The End in All Beginnings, my five-novella collection, out in late summer
The Exterminator, out sometime this summer
I Can Taste the Blood, a novella collection featuring me, J. Daniel Stone, Joe Schwartz and Erik T. Johnson. Finished this summer, out to editing and ready for selling to some lucky, lucky publisher.
The Orpheus Box, out sometime this fall…probably.
Various short stories here and there, which I will inform you of in a future blog.
My thriller Kill/Off is still doing well, generating 5-star reviews from happy readers. One of them, Shane D. Keene, left me a great one today:
‘John F.D. Taff is well known for his gems of horror including THE BELL WITCH and LITTLE DEATHS (one of the best single author collections I’ve ever read) so I was a little bit hesitant with this one at first. KILL/OFF is a departure from the norm for John in that it is a thriller and not too many authors are adept at crossing genres and still remaining true to the voice that makes them great writers in the first place. John is one of the rare exceptions to that rule being equally capable of entertaining (and scaring) the hell out of you whether he’s writing horror or crime fiction. KILL/OFF is the proof to this statement. It is a darkly entertaining, addicting novel of murder and mayhem like none I’ve ever read before. The characters are delightfully quirky, flawed and loveable all at the same time and as the story progresses it becomes increasingly more difficult to decide who the ‘bad guy’ is and whether or not the line between right and wrong really exists. KILL/OFF is a lightning fast thrill ride through the darkness that lives in all of us and it kept me reading from beginning to end without pause (except for bathroom breaks and a beer run :). I would highly recommend this book to any lover of crime thrillers or dark fiction. John F.D. Taff is a skilled and accomplished writer who I very quickly added to my “buy everything he publishes” list. Get this book and enjoy.”
That’s a fantastic review. Thanks, Shane.
You’ll like it, too. And only 99 cents! Don’t wait to get your copy!
So, I got tired of my authory head shots. I’ve got the one in a fedora, which Deb tells me makes me look like an old man. Who wears fedoras anymore, she says. Ummm, cool people? Like Indiana Jones. Like me.
And then there’s the scowling one with my arm propped up on a tree. I’ve also got a ridiculously scowling one in back and white that I don’t even bother sending out anymore because it scares people. The most recent one, with my gigantic bald watermelon of a head very prominent, was a pic of me and my good friend Chris, that I cropped Chris out of. And I think I ruined the pic permanently. Sorry, Chris.
Anyway, so Deb and I and some friends–Chris & Laura Homan and Matt Baltzell–spent a Saturday a few weeks ago taking shots of me around the tombstones of Bellefontaine Cemetery in North St. Louis. It’s a sprawling, Protestant Land of the Dead, spooning for eternity, as it were, with Calvary Cemetery, home of dead Catholics. Having been raised a Catholic (and then really, really lapsing), I have family members in Calvary. But in an astonishing twist, at least for a religion that split with Catholics over too much iconography and frippery (amongst other things, I know), the Catholic cemetery is astonishingly boring, where the Protestants have made almost an amusement park of death in Bellefontaine.
And there’s a lot of history in Bellefontaine. The Buschs, at least some of them, are buried there. Yes, the Anheuser-Buschs. And lots and lots of other prim and proper dead Protestants.
Anyway, so here’s the thing. I got three good headshots. And by “pretty good,” I mean the shots are good, but they feature me. Nothing I can do about that. But I thought I’d throw them up here and see what people think.
Which shot should I go with? You guys can vote, and I’ll use the shot that gets the most votes. So, here they are, in no particular order. (Ugh…I’m kind of jowly. I never feel old–or even fat, for that matter–until I pass a mirror or see a photo of me. Then it’s like, God, who let Ironsides in? What’s Orson Welles doing in this picture?
OK, so I got roped into this by the delightful Latashia Figueroa, an author you should check out here. She’s a delightful, beautiful lady and a very good writer. Go see what she’s doing. She’s got a book, This Way Darkness, out in May.
Now I’m supposed to answer some questions about authory stuff and then refer you to three other authors. Well, my three other authors are:
I chose these three gentlemen because I admire their writing. And we’re all working together on an upcoming super-secret project that I will divulge here in the next few months. These gentlemen will then answer the same questions I’ve answered below next Monday…at least that’s how it’s supposed to work. Joe doesn’t blog and Dan is forehead-deep in his next novel. So, who knows what will happen? But their names are linked to stuff. Go there next Monday and see, and we’ll all be surprised!
So here are the questions! Enjoy!
What am I working on?
Excellent question! Right now, I am at about the halfway point of a new novel, working title The End. It’s an everything-and-the-kitchen-sink apocalyptic horror story. I have to finish it soon, as my fiancée is kicking my proverbial ass to get it done. Perhaps another month…
Also writing some shorts, as always, working with Grey Matter Press on my upcoming novella collection The End in All Beginnings, which should be out sometime this summer.
And then there’s another novella I’ve started for the super-secret boy band project Joe, Dan, Erik and I are working on.
So, lots of stuff!
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Hmm…a tricky question. I’d have to say that the primary difference is that my work is written almost entirely by me, whereas other works in the genre are primarily not.
Aside from that, my work is generally labelled as “horror,” pretty much because there’s not a closer label to attach to it. Well, aside from “dark, weird speculative fiction,” which doesn’t really roll off the tongue. So, horror. But I’d guess that my work is not the splattery, things jumping out, cats meowing, chains-a-rattling fiction that some view as horror. Mine tends to be a slow-building dread kind of thing, which always gets me the Twilight Zone comparison. I’m cool with that. My stories, hopefully, move you on an emotional level other than just fear. I find that the combination of fear and some other emotion—love, sadness, etc.—works best and helps the stories linger longer in the reader’s mind.
Why do I write what I do?
Because horror is what sticks with me. It’s a world view that flavors everything I do, how I think, what I believe. So of course it’s going to play out in my writing. There’s no other place for it to go…well, murder I guess, but that’s so unpleasantly messy.
How does your writing process work?
I sit down at my desk each day and spend many, many long tedious hours sweating over how I can avoid writing. When that’s done, and perhaps a light lunch, I usually dig in. I write on my laptop, take numerous breaks to attempt to get back into the spirit of work avoidance. If that doesn’t work—and it often does—I will write late into the night, egged on by the dulcet tones of my three pugs snoring. I am a night owl. I am not a morning person. As I get older, I curse the mornings more and more. I am sure I will die on some godforsaken morning, after rising from some disturbed sleep and attempting to make coffee. I’m not really, fully awake until about 2 p.m.
That’s it kids. Sorry it took so long to get this up, Latashia, I forgot! But then I remembered, so OK!
So, my good author buddy Erik T. Johnson has won a MAJOR AWARD!!! It’s some very nice recognition of the level of his work, and extremely well-deserved!
I’ll let him tell you a little about it here:
WRITTEN BACKWARDS, publisher of three anthologies within which I am proud to be published–Pellucid Lunacy, Chiral Mad, Chiral Mad 2–as well as Michael Bailey’s astounding novels Palindrome Hannah and Phoenix Rose (and the upcoming Qualia Nous anthology)–Written Backwards, the one-man literary phenomenon known by the unassuming name of Michael Bailey–has just announced the winners of the first ever Written Backwards DARWA Awards–and hath bestowed upon me the Written Backwards DARWA Voice Award.
Michael describes the award this way:
” . . . the DRAWA Voice recognizes an individual with a fresh, unique literary voice, someone who quite clearly knows all the rules, and is very good at breaking them; this person has their own genre of awesomeness, in other words.”
P.S. Oh yeah, you can go to the Ginger Nuts of Horror website and read a great, mind-bending interview with Erik. Go there. Read. Blow. Mind.
Well no more! My awesome publisher, Books of the Dead, has done something, I don’t know what, but Kill/Off has rocketed up the Amazon charts. It stands at about #1,500 in paid Kindle sales and No. 17 in Kindle Thriller/Crime. Finally.
This is a really, really good book guys. Look! Joe McKinney even liked it! It’s not horror or supernatural at all, but it’s a solid suspense thriller. I think you’ll like it. And for 99 cents, believe me, it’s worth the shot. And if you like it, leave a brother some reviews. I could always use some reviews to move this book.
Got some other Books of the Dead news to share, perhaps over the weekend. Lots of stuff happening!
My latest novel, Kill/Off, is available now for Kindle for just 99 cents.
Kill/Off has a solid 5-star average review on Amazon, it features some of my best writing, and people seem to like it. However, it seems to be struggling to find a wider audience. This is perplexing to me. The only reason I have for this is that it’s not the horror book my readers are accustomed to. But I think my horror chops still shine through this non-supernatural thriller.
Hopefully, 99 cents will make it easier for people to take a chance and buy the book. I think you’ll like it if you do.
Here are what some people say about Kill/Off:
“Kill/Off is a tightly written, dark descent into the world of the contract killer. I haven’t been sucked into the mind of a murderer so convincingly since Theodore Sturgeon’s Some of Your Blood. John F.D. Taff hits this one out of the park.”
~ Joe McKinney, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of Dead City
“A captivating story of murder and conspiracy, Kill/Off will keep you nervous, questioning and, more importantly, entertained until the last page. John F.D. Taff really knows how to deliver!”
~ Ann Hale, Horror Editor, Pop-Break.com
“Fast, sharp, elegant, and darker than a pool of blood in a gloomy alley at midnight, Taff’s Kill/Off packs everything that’s great about crime fiction while simultaneously avoiding its clichés. This is a sleek noir made up of danger and tension and written in an undeniably commanding voice. As a bonus, death and blood come easy to Taff, one of the best short story writers in the horror genre, so crime fiction fans who enjoy an extra dose of brutality are in for a treat.”
~ Gabino Iglesias, Author and Reviewer at OutoftheGutterOnline.com
“John F.D. Taff is an artist telling stories with bullets. His crisp, staccato style targets a reader in its crosshairs obliterating any chance of escape. Kill/Off is an exciting, dark adventure that will make your heart race and palms sweat hoping it is merely fiction.”
~ Joe Schwartz, author of The Games Men Play
“Accomplished horror author John F.D. Taff takes the reader on a journey into the murky world of contract killers, exploring their motivations and the guilt associated with their deeds. Pitting assassin against assassin, ‘Kill/Off’ is a tense story replete with murder, deceit, greed and a twist on a significant event in American history; and is truly the thinking man’s action-thriller.”
~ John Milton, Horror Reviewer at AndyErupts.com
So pop on by and give Kill/Off a chance. I think you’ll like it. And, I mean, it’s only 99 cents.
And for some inexplicable reason, my other novel The Bell Witch is also still just 99 cents.
A new book that you should get is out. It’s called The Chapman Books, and it’s a three-novella collection by Aaron J. French (whom I know a little), Erik T. Johnson (whom I know pretty well), and Adam P. Lewis (whom I know not a whit.)
The book is out now by new publisher Uncanny Books. I was lucky enough to get an advance read, and I really enjoyed it…enough to provide the blurb and the entire back cover’s contents. It’s an interesting, fun read, very weird in places (I’m looking at you, Erik!), and highly recommended. You all (all 6 of you) know what an avid fan I am of Erik’s writing, and his tale here is fantastic. The tales are unique and individual, but each references the creepy, mysterious Chapman family in delightful ways.
This is a book to have and read. So go here and buy it!
Blogs are a great tool to introduce you to new authors, something I try my best to do. There are so many interesting authors out there putting out great reads that it’s easy to get lost in the crowd.
So, let me introduce you to BC Brown, a wonderful writer I met through our mutual friend, J. Travis Grundon. BC has a bunch of her work out there now, which you might want to pick up and give a read. So without further intrusion from me, here’s some info on BC!
BC Brown is the author of A Touch of Darkness and A Touch of Madness, both Abigail St. Michael novels. Her work has been included in three, multi-author anthologies – Fracas: A Collection of Short Friction, Quixotic: Not Everyday Love Stories, and A Chimerical World: Tales of the Seelie Court. She has published a dark fantasy novel, Sister Light, Book One: Of Shadows previously under the pen name B.B. Walter.
She lives in Arizona on tequila and gummy bear-related products. She spends her free time bicycling, performing in Community Theater, and spends way too much time on karaoke, Star Trek, and Doctor Who. She is legendary for her mismatched sock collection. Her foul mouth and lack of filter has gotten her into hot water in the past. She will no longer discuss the “big booty ho” incident of 2012.
BC has upcoming work with the Abigail St. Michael novels entitled A Touch of Emptiness. More of her work will be released in a general fiction novella entitled Feather in a Hurricane and a dark fantasy novel, Of Shadows.
Sister Light, Book One: Of Shadows (published under B.B. Walter – out of print) – 2007
A Touch of Darkness – 2010
Fracas: A Collection of Short Friction – 2011
A Touch of Madness – 2012
Quixotic: Not Everyday Love Stories – 2013
A Chimerical World: Tales of the Seelie Court – 2014
Multiple Blog Articles – Foci: Author Improvement and Education – 2007-current
“This author defies convention by shocking the reader.” – P.M. Russell, author of The Wormhole Adventures: Travel is Relative
“BC is amazingly imaginative.” – Wendy Strain, freelance author
“[BC Brown] is a refreshing change of pace.” – Stephanie Johnson, author of Eveningshade
Individual Book Reviews:
(About A Touch of Darkness) “A witty page turner and will keep you guessing right up until the end! BC Brown combines a snarky sense of humor, intelligent wit, and an exotic ‘touch’ to this murder mystery. Add the elements of romance, and the reader is left wanting more at the end. A definite recommended read!” – Molly Daniels, author of Balancing Act
(About A Touch of Madness) “This book has definitely been worth the wait! Every time you think you’ve got the plot figured out, the author throws you another curve ball! It’s one unexpected turn after another that keeps you on the edge of your seat.” – reader review
(About Sister Light, Book One: Of Shadows) “Sister Light is aimed at intelligent readers who want something that has all the rumor of a classic but also an unrefined real-world depth. This author defies convention by shocking the reader with disturbing imagery and gothic vengeance.” – P.M. Russell, author of The Wormhole Adventures: Travel is Relative
(About A Chimerical World: Tales of the Seelie Court) “It’s not the most even of collections but I did enjoy this anthology of fairy tales, urban fantasy, and magical realism. Particular standouts include: “The Beggar-Knight and the Lady Perilous” by Matthew A. Timmins, “Extra-Ordinary” by BC Brown, “Dead Fairy Doormat” by George S. Walker. All of these stories have the right mix of material and attitude, but Timmins story, in particular, strikes me as a good blending of a Grimm style story with a more modern aesthetic.” – reader review
A Touch of Darkness Blurb:
Urban Fantasy – Paranormal Mystery – Romantic Suspense
Abigail St. Michael, a former cop, has joined the recently growing ranks of metaphysicals, individuals with abilities outside that of normal human nature. When a murderer stalks her town killing children, Abbey uses her ability of touch clairvoyance to hunt him down. Her only roadblock is that her villain seems to have his own unique talent, the ability to ‘wipe’ his victims and their surroundings of any metaphysical energy. With little physical evidence and no supernatural evidence, Abbey is forced to rely on luck and instinct to solve the case. However both seem to have taken a permanent vacation as the victims keep piling up with the killer’s escalating blood lust.
A Touch of Darkness Excerpt:
**Explicit Language, Some Graphic Imagery**
I’d gotten the call on my work cell. I actually have a second that I carried for just police work. For a while, my advisory jobs had become so hectic that the calls began to outnumber my personal ones. Davis had spoken to the police chief and gotten the force to foot the bill for a company phone.
Everyone referred to it as the “Bat Signal.”
Davis called me in and, almost a week after the incident, I walked the crime scene for the first time. I was more than a little pissed. I was even more pissed when I arrived on the crime scene amidst a light drizzle.
Rain is a problem for individuals with my unique talents. Water washes away metaphysical energy as quickly as it washes away physical evidence. A violent event can get trapped for longer but eventually time and the elements fade the energy no matter how violent the event. I mean, I’m not still picking up shit from the Manson murders or anything.
Once I arrived on the crime scene, I was doubtful I’d pick up anything left over. I told Davis my doubts. He encouraged me to try, regardless; he always encouraged me to try. It was his special talent, I guess. So I slipped off my special-made gloves.
Clothing doesn’t always protect me from seeing impressions, but the gloves were a damned sight better than my walking around bare-skinned. That would land me back in the funny farm in no time. Trust me, I know, I’d been there once already. I had once brushed up against a woman who beat her two children on a twice-daily basis. I felt her glee as she did it; her happiness as she felt their little bones crunch under her/my hands…
Davis knew my doubts, but I did my job. I slipped off my sweet Italian, designer gloves and touched everything in sight. The railing, the stairs, the curb where he’d busted his damned head, and… nothing. Nada, zip, nein – no pun intended, Mr. Schleck. There was nothing left to see. I told my ex-boss as much, but I was wrong.
There was a cat.