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A Free Book! Yay! For You, I Guess…



I’m a nice guy and everything, but damn, I hate free books.  I think they send sooooo much the wrong signal to readers, devaluing the work an author puts into writing and training readers to simply wait for cut-rate sale or the free book.  But I am an old man, so get off my lawn.

Kill/Off, a thriller that was published by Books of the Dead late last year, has been the single book of mine so far that has simply languished. It’s a good book, if I do say so myself.  It’s garnered some great reviews and blurbs, from people like Joe McKinney and Gabino Iglesias.  It’s gotten good promotion from BOTD.  But still, it’s just sat there, not selling well, not doing much of anything, while my books like Little Deaths continue to tear up sales two years after their publication.

Today, I heard from BOTD’s publisher James Roy Daley that he was trying something new.  Some service called Story Cartel.  The idea behind the service is to generate reviews for authors.  So we have the free giveaway.

While I ain’t thrilled about this, I can understand Roy trying to figure out what to do with the book.  I think, since it’s a straightforward thriller without an ounce of anything supernatural or horror in it, that my audience of readers isn’t aware of or possibly interested in it.  Perhaps giving away some copies might move this in the right direction.

So, sigh, go to Story Cartel and download a free copy of Kill/Off.  Tell your friends and neighbors.  The offer will only last three weeks, so it’s not forever.

Kill/Off is a good book.  If you do download it for free–and you like it–please make this all worthwhile and leave an Amazon review for it.  It will surely help.


Avengers: Age of Ultron. OMFG.


Where was this shit when I was a kid?  Oh, yeah, only in the comics.  This stuff brings out my inner 10 year old.

Some Updates!

Lots of new stuff going on, which is pretty cool.

First, The End in All Beginnings is doing phenomenal.  Reviews are blush-worthy, so things are moving along on that front.  Oh yeah, and it made the Horror Writer’s Association’s 2014 Bram Stoker Award Recommended Reading List, which is cool, too.

My #Horrorstar contest is still active, and we’re looking for 50 entries by the end of this month…10 days.  Should I be concerned? I dunno.  We’ve only got 11 so far, but I know a lot of people have told me they’re leaving reviews. So, hopefully this will all come through.  I mean, don’t you want to be a character in my upcoming novel The Fearing?  Of course you do!  So enter already!

Second, sometime soon, Books of the Dead will release Infestation, a kinda new novel.  It’s a mostly rewritten version of an older novel, previously titled The Rat Catcher’s King.  Brand new version, new cover, new title, new publisher.  Should be cool.  It’s a horrorized, modern-day retelling of the Pied Piper legend.  More on it when I have a clear picture when it’s coming out.

A sort of follow-up to this novel (with one reappearing character), The Orpheus Box will also be released sometime…well, sometime.  This vagueness is primarily my fault, since this, too, is an older novel that has to be gone through thoroughly, edited, revised, streamlined, to bring it in line with my newer works.  It probably will be out early next year.  It’s about two modern-day occult organizations vying for a device created by Thomas Edison to communicate with the dead, which is at least partially true.

OK, so moving on to C). I Can Taste the Blood.  This one is a quartet of novellas being developed by myself, the gritty Joe Schwartz, the poetic J. Daniel Stone, and the eldritch Erik T. Johnson.  We’re all using the same title and developing novellas based on our unique viewpoints.  Should be effin’ great.  We just all need to finish them.  Joe, bless his black heart, already has, but the other three of us are limping along.  I’ve already had some interest from publishers for this, so count on this coming out sometime later next year.

The Fearing, my work in progress, my horror doctorate, my epic tour de force, is coming along and should be done by the end of the year.  Publishing? Who knows?  Gotta finish it first, of course.

In terms of shorts, I’ve got a few irons in the fire:

“Some Other Day,” a very King of Pain-ish story featured in Grey Matter’s upcoming antho Death’s Realm…I think out sometime in November.

“That Song You Can’t Get Out of Your Head” is a short that’s made it to Round 2 of the selection process for Grey Matter’s Savage Beasts. Can’t say it will get it in, but it’s out there.

One of my recently published shorts will also be part of something cool Farolight Publishing (the new owners of the Horror Library series) is doing next year.  It’s a pretty big deal, as Ron Burgundy would say, and I’ll let you know exactly what it is soon enough.  Don’t want to steal their thunder!

Finally, I was invited to participate in a pretty cool dual anthology project Robert Wilson is working on.  Can’t divulge the details yet, that’s Bob’s job.  But it’s a pretty interesting one, and I was happy to be asked to participate.  More information yadda-yadda.

That’s all I can think of right now.  Later!

A Podcast and a Love Letter…Ha-cha-cha!

So, I almost forgot that I’m appearing right now on Armand Rosamilia’s Armcast Podcast.  Armand’s a great guy, fun author of tons of stuff (his latest Dying Days 4 is a hoot), and it was great to talk with him. Go there and download the podcast and be exposed to my lovely speaking voice.

Also I want to direct your attention to a Love Letter written to me by the lovely, vivacious Latashia Figueroa, author of This Way Darkness.  I think she really likes me…well, my work, that is.  Go here to take a look.

That’s about it for tonight. Ummm…less than two weeks to go in my #HORRORSTAR contest.  Better be entering (buying THE END IN ALL BEGINNINGS, reading, reviewing, linking) quick if you’d like to be in one of my novels.

Five New 5-Star Reviews for The End in All Beginnings!



So, in addition to Michael R. Colling’s mind-bending review (which you can read in the previous post) of my latest, The End in All Beginnings, the book has generated an additional 5 five-star ratings over the last day or so, bringing my 5-star rating to 11!

Here’s a sampling:

“This collection of 5 novellas by John FD Taff is hands down one of the best books I’ve read this year.” J.R. Wargo

“Highly recommended! I will be reading everything I can find from the author now!” Armand, Rosamilia, author of lots of stuff, including Dying Days 4.

“The End in All Beginnings” is a solid collection of novellas by John F.D. Taff, who’s been writing dark fiction for nearly a quarter of a century.” Eric J. Guignard, author

“All of Taff’s novellas in the book start sort of if you’re dreaming, but each quickly resolves into vivid clarity and is thoroughly enjoyable to read.”  Aaron Banerjee

“I have never read a collection of stories where I had a hard time picking a favorite, so I won’t. They’re all my favorite. In fact, John F.D.Taff is my new favorite writer.” Latashia Figueroa, author of This Way Darkness.

Pretty cool!  Go here to read them all and buy yourself a copy!

And remember my HorrorStar contest–buy the book, review it on Amazon, post a link here or at Grey Matter’s Facebook page, and you’re entered into a drawing for some cool stuff.  Grand Prize: YOU get to be a character in my upcoming novel, The Fearing.  No shit!

Michael R. Collings Gives The End in All Beginnings a Review That Nearly Made Me Cry


Michael R. Collings is a noted writer, editor and reviewer of genre literature.  I was fortunate to connect with him a few years ago, on the advent of the publication of my short story collection, Little Deaths. Michael gave the book a completely unexpected–and wonderful review.  Revisit it here.

As wonderful as that review was (and it was!), I was floored tonight when I came across his review, just a few days ago, for The End in All Beginnings.  It was a review that, quite literally, had me flushing, forgetting to breathe and tearing up.  It’s as humbling a review as I’ve ever, and I mean ever, had.

“Just under half a century ago, I discovered a personal “tell” that let me know when a performance had touched me deeply. Several friends, all of us college freshmen, had just watched Peter O’Toole’s performance in Lord Jim. As we walked back to the dorm, they chatted—as freshmen tend to do—about art direction, nuances of performance and location shots, subtlety of imagery, and complexity of symbolism…everything, indeed, except the story.

Normally, I would have joined them; any number of late-night conversations intent on solving the problems of the universe had convinced me that I could hold my own with them. But this time there was something different, something odd.

I found that I couldn’t talk about the film.

The story had resonated so strongly with me that to open my mouth and break what had become a powerful and meaningful silence was simply impossible.

 That experience—with minor variations—has recurred many times since. When I finished reading J.R.R. Tolkien’sThe Lord of the Rings for the first time. When I read John Milton’s Paradise Lost in one sitting as an undergraduate; I was supposed to be studying for a final exam but the storycaptured me and suddenly I was turning the last page of Book XII and wishing there were more. Listening to the final “Prisoners’ Chorus” of Beethoven’s Fidelio at the Hamburg Opera House near the end of my two-year church mission in Germany. When I finished Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbevilles for a graduate course in Victorian literature. When I finished Stephen King’s It, reading a typescript he had sent six months before the novel was published…and, yes, itwas roughly the size of a human head.

There have been more examples over the years, some expected and of short duration; some unexpected and sudden, almost paralyzing in the intensity of emotions generated. But all signaling that I have read or seen something that has changed me and my perceptions of the world in important ways.

The last time it happened, I had just finished John F.D. Taff’s collection of horror novellas, The End in All Beginnings.”

Ummm…I’ll let you read the rest, lest I breakdown like a 12-year-old girl.  Go to Michael’s blog and read the rest.

Thanks, Michael.  Glad you enjoyed it.

Now go here, all of you, and buy it.  Read it. I think you’ll enjoy it, too.

Oh, and P.S.  There are two more 5-star reviews for it, bringing the total to 8!


The Gentleman’s Business Has Scumbagified…

So this blog post may not interest some of you, just sayin’.

The business of publishing used to be referred to as the “gentleman’s business,” meaning that it was (supposedly) filled with truthful, trustworthy folks who operated as much by a handshake as with attorneys and contracts.  I don’t know if this was ever actually true, but let me tell ya, on some level, it ain’t true these days.

Let’s begin by extracting the big publishing houses from this argument and let’s deal with today’s milieu of small press publishers, not only in horror but in most of the genres.  The general collapse of BIG PUBLISHING–or if you’d rather see it as a course change in the status quo of the publishing world at large–has led to an explosion of small presses and self publishing.  And in the small press world, there’s an entire spectrum of small publishers, from the fly-by-night, publish-a-book-or-two-and-then-die type all the way up to the established, professional-as-the-big-boys-at-least presses.  But, wow, there seems to be an ever-growing number of these…umm…less than professional publishers, shall we say.

So, yesterday I learned of a bombshell that’s exploded in the very heart of horror small pressdom.  It’s with a publisher called Permuted Press.  In the horror small publisher pond, Permuted is a bigger fish.  Bought out from its original owner a while back by some investors (one of whom is said to have extensive experience with one of the Big Boy Publishers), Permuted has had the reputation, recently at least, of signing up an extraordinary number of authors and publishing an extraordinary number of books–0n the order of 5 books per week.  Let that figure settle in for a moment.  Five books.  Per week.

Anyway, that’s its business model, so if it can do it, great.  But here’s the thing.  Evidently, authors were signing multiple-book deals with them in a feeding frenzy.  I’d imagine that some of these authors were overwhelmed to sign a book contract.  I know how that feels, man.  But evidently they weren’t looking closely at what they signed–or maybe they were and just didn’t understand or they didn’t care or whatever–and they signed away all rights to their works.  All. Most legitimate publishers offer contracts that stipulate that they own the work for a set period, some number of years, but that stuff like movie rights stay with the author.  Not Permuted Press.  They asked for–and got–all intellectual property rights to everything they bought.  And people signed these contracts, so there’s nothing illegal here.  Shifty, yes.  Not very ethical or moral, but not illegal.  Then the company recently decided to open a film division.  Why?  Because they were sitting on this mountain of intellectual properties to which they conveniently owned all the rights to.  You might be forgiven if you speculate, as many have, that this was all planned out in advance.

So, that’s asshattery No. 1.

Asshattery No. 2?  Well, recently the company decided to stop offering, for the most part, print books.  Its business logic was unassailable.  In the small press, at least, print book sales lag well, well behind digital sales.  It may be in the order of 80% or 90% weighted toward digital sales.  And there’s some additional costs associated with print production.  So Permuted decided, ostensibly, that it no longer made business sense to produce print copies for the majority of its authors. OK, fine.  Business decision.  I can get behind that.

But the way they’ve enacted this measure, the lengths that they went to to underplay it, to trickle the message out to avoid being called out for it, the mess they’ve made of a lot of authors lives (who signed contracts expecting–though let’s be honest here, not legally promised–print versions) is simply cold-blooded, unethical and immoral.  Again, not illegal, but just particularly scummy. And those authors who are aggravated enough to call them out on this with the desire to cancel their contracts?  Yeah, well, not gonna happen, says Permuted, unless, that is, you’d like to buy yourself out.  To pay, in effect, for Permuted’s douchebaggery.

I don’t have a dog in this fight…well, fuck that, I’m thinking this out as I type…I do.  Even though I’ve done nothing with Permuted, even though I stayed clear of them because I’d heard bad things about them for years, they are screwing with my peers and pissing in the larger cereal bowl of horror publishing in general.  That infuriates me.  I don’t know exactly what to do about it, other than to spread the word about this crappy company that thinks legal equates to ethical.  Others have called for boycotts and stuff, and while that’s OK, I don’t know exactly what it will solve, other than to take the individual authors down with the company.

Here’s the thing.  If you’re an author, you need to keep in mind that the creative side of the business is great.  But it is a business, and you need to pull your head out of the clouds every once in a while to pay attention to that part of it, particularly when signing a contract.  Don’t let your enthusiasm for signing an actual book contract overwhelm your common sense.  Don’t sign away all your rights to your intellectual property.  Not for anyone, not ever.  Why in the fuck would you do that?  It’s yours, you created it, sweat and bled it into existence.  Why, then, would you sign it away, basically turning yourself into a work-for-hire writer?  And at the paltry rates a small publisher would pay?  Come on!

That there are companies out there, seemingly like Permuted Press, that would prey on this enthusiasm and naivete and call it a “business decision” is not surprising.  Every industry has plenty of by-the-rules companies that aren’t ethical or moral.  There are a lot of not very nice people out there, folks, and some of them decide to go into publishing.  Sad but true.  It’s simply the way of the world.

I’ve been relatively lucky so far in my writing career.  I’ve had some run-ins with highly unethical “publishers” who stole stories from me, printed stuff without my permission, didn’t pay, etc.  But in most of my dealings, I’ve been lucky enough to find good, honorable people to do business with.  One of those is Grey Matter Press up in Chicago.  They produce great books.  They have a fine eye for talent. Their editing and production work is impeccable.  But more so than any of this, they do what they say they’re gonna do.  They pay, and they do it on time and unbegrudgingly.  I’ve entrusted them with several short stories, my new collection of novellas, The End in All Beginnings, and some secret stuff that we’ll talk about later.  Why?  Because they are a joy to work with and you should support them wholeheartedly if you want quality horror available to you.

My other publisher, too, bears recognition.  Books of the Dead, based in Toronto, has been around a little longer than Grey Matter, and it, too, is one of the good guys.  James Roy Daley is the publisher, and he’s a hardworking, honest and ethical guy who also produces great books.  I’ve trusted him with three of my books already–Little Deaths, The Bell Witch and Kill-Off–and there are two more coming, Infestation and The Orpheus Box.  I wouldn’t publish all that with a company I don’t trust, or who made unreasonable contractual demands or who just plain didn’t live up to their end of the bargain. I trust Roy with my work.  He’s never let me down, never cheated me, never failed to deliver on a promise.  And he produces some great looking, great reading books, not just for me but for the dozens of other authors he’s worked with.

I don’t know if that’s a rarity these days or not.  But I hate to read stuff like what Permuted Press is doing.  It doesn’t increase my faith in either humanity at large or the publishing world.

Want to read more about this?  Well, veteran horror author Brian Keene has written a few blog postings encapsulating the hullabaloo in greater detail than I just did.  His postings also contain links to Permuted Press authors’ blogs recounting their problems.  It’s all very illuminating.  Aggravating, but illuminating.

I guess all I’m saying is that if you’re interested in quality horror, as a reader, support those publishing companies, like Grey Matter and Books of the Dead, that treat their authors with respect.  And in doing so, they also treat their readers–YOU–with respect.


UPDATE!!!  Tonight I spoke via Twitter with Jake Bible, another Permuted author who has taken issue with the statement that some authors are claiming that Permuted is forcing them to buy out their contracts.  Jake was adamant that this wasn’t so, and I can’t prove that it isn’t…or is.  I was just referencing claims from one of the very numerous blog postings by other Permuted authors.  So, I’d urge you all to not take my word or Jake’s or anyone’s…do the research, read what the authors are saying and form your own opinion.  I did.  And thanks to Jake for a good, clean argument!


UPDATE PART DEUX!!!  There’s been a lot of squawking about all this all over the intertubes.  I’m not weighing in any more than I have, because I’m not directly involved in all this.  All I know is what the affected parties are saying, and for the most part, it ain’t great.  And at least one poor soul wanted to post a negative remark here, disagreeing with my post.  Which is fine, and I would have approved the post regardless.  I’m fair that way.  However,  if’n you want to post on my blog, at least have the balls to attach your name to your post.  And….done!


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