An Open Letter to Ben Robinson…

An Open Letter to Ben Robinson, Head of the Eaglemoss Star Trek Ships Collection…

(With apologies to all for me being an uber-nerd.)

Dear Ben,

You are breaking my heart.

I’ve been a subscriber of the Eaglemoss Star Trek Ships Collection for…ummm…like 40 some odd months now…more than three years.  Each month, I’ve received two spectacularly rendered (for the most part) model ships from some incarnation of Star Trek–from obvious ones like the Enterprise D and Voyager to the more-than-obscure ones like the Malon Freighter or the Romulan Drone.  Mostly I’ve been satisfied.  Mostly.

However, recently things have run off the rails.  The models are getting a little less…ummm…how shall I say it?…nicely detailed and more seemingly slapdash–the Borg Renegade ship anyone?  Special shipments here in the states are, at best, haphazard.  And 0f most concern to me lately is the state of customer service at Eaglemoss.

When I take it upon myself to contact Eaglemoss about a problem, your staff is always courteous and friendly, which is great, but to say that’s a relatively low bar is putting it mildly.  Every time I’ve taken it upon myself to contact Eaglemoss, either by email or phone, the staff member is unfailingly nice, but woefully ignorant of a) your products, b) my problem (even if the phone call was prefaced by a few emails) or c) any details specific enough to answer my question.

You might have noticed that I used the phrase “take it upon myself” twice.  Unfortunately, it’s for good reason.  If there’s a hiccough in my service, as there has been over the last few months, and a shipment doesn’t arrive when it’s supposed to, no one calls me to tell me there’s a problem or what the problem is or what I can do to ameliorate the problem.  There is, simply put, no communication from Eaglemoss unless I initiate it.

Now, I have problems with that.  I have turned over billing information to Eaglemoss in order to subscribe to the collection; to ensure that my shipments arrive each and every month.  I have, in fact, created a monthly bill for myself, giving Eaglemoss access to financial information so that it can dip into my account each and every month and deduct money.  That’s not a privilege I give lightly or often, and it’s got to come with some responsibility from Eaglemoss.

Given this, and the fact that I’ve subscribed now for 40+ months–which has got to make me a pretty damn good customer–I’m surprised and aggravated when there’s a problem and Eaglemoss doesn’t contact me.  I was supposed to receive a shipment in December.  No shipment has arrived or seems to have been shipped.  This has happened three or four times over the last five or six months, and nothing happens unless I call.

So far, I haven’t called, pretty much because I wanted to see how long I’d have to wait.  I’m still waiting.  No call from Eaglemoss.  I’m pretty sure I know what the problem is, but that’s not the point, is it?  It’s that I’m evidently not that big a deal to Eaglemoss, even though I’ve already spent some $2k with you and have signalled my willingness to spend even more.  Not enough reason, evidently, for Eaglemoss to give me a head’s up when there’s a problem or even seem to care whether I’m a subscriber or not.

I find myself now wondering why I should care.  Why should I even bother to subscribe anymore?  I mean, there are plenty of good uses to which I could put the monthly outlay I make to Eaglemoss.  And my wife would surely be ecstatic if I stopped filling my office with tiny ships.

Why should I bother, Ben?  I really need a reason…


The Desolated Orchard Makes Tangent Online’s 2016 Recommended Reading List

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The Desolated Orchard, my freestanding novella (or novelette, I suppose) made Tangent Online’s 2016 Recommended Reading List!  Yay me, right?  Tangent is the venerable sci-fi/fantasy review site, and each year it culls through all of the many, many published genre pieces to find the best of the best.  Incidentally, I’ve made the list the last three years running.  In 2014, every single novella in The End in All Beginnings made the list.  Every. Single. Goddamn.  One.

Anyway, go over here to see the entire list (The Desolated Orchard is under Novelettes, Two-Star).

And go here to pick up a copy, for just 99 stinking cents!

Everyone, with the exception of the pets, has been sick here at Taff Lodge pretty much since Christmas, so…ugh.  I managed to finish Part 3 of my work-in-progress The Fearing, with about 100-150 pages to go until the end.  Hopefully, by end of January.

Some of the other projects I’ve been hinting at will likely jar loose here soon, and I’ll be able to discuss them.  But good things coming in 2017 if you like reading my work.

 


So, I Just Had to do Something Sucky

Divorce is hard.  No, not that kind, not literal divorce…though, that ain’t great, either. (Been there, done that.)

No I mean business divorce.  Looks like I’m having to divorce one of my publishers.  Books of the Dead, out of Canada, really gave me a leg up.  It published my first book of short stories, Little Deaths, back in 2012.  It did really well, selling in excess of 18,000 copies.  (Yes, 18,000 copies.)  Then, I signed for another two books–The Bell Witch and Kill/Off.  The Bell Witch did even better, selling more than 23,000 copies to date.

But then things fell off.  Kill/Off, a cool little thriller, fell off the face of the planet, from a sales standpoint, where it still resides even today.  And my last one, Infestation, went nowhere.  Falling off the face of the planet would have been at least something.  But zero effort went into it.  I never even got my author copies of it.

Then Books of the Dead stopped doing just about anything.  They didn’t market anything.  Didn’t really update their website or Facebook pages.  Communication became sporadic, and recently ceased altogether.  Repeated attempts to contact the publisher went unanswered.  Royalty statements stopped, as did payment.

Has Books of the Dead gone under, as many small publishers these days do?  Has something untoward happened to its owner?  Who knows?  I certainly hope not, but Books of the Dead has published a lot of top-notch authors–Bracken MacLeod, Mark Matthews, Justin Robinson, Julie Huchings, Simon Dewar–to name but a few.  And it’s left them somewhat in the lurch.

If I’ve learned one thing over the 25 years I’ve been doing this, it’s that if the author doesn’t take care of himself, then no one will.  So, I’m reclaiming the rights for these books, as Books of the Dead is in breach of contract.  I’m pulling them from all of the appropriate sales outlets–Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, etc.  So, in the next day or so, hopefully, they’ll be down.  I’m sending a letter by registered post to Books of the Dead, letting them know I’m reclaiming my rights to these works effective immediately.

I already have plans for some of these books; plans I will be able to share soon.  Exciting plans.  Wonderful plans.

So, thanks Books of the Dead.  It’s been a good run, but all good things, as they say.  Time to move on.


This Makes Me Smile

Big, stupid nerd smile.  Really awesome, finally captures the Spider-Man I read as a kid.


Prepare to be Unnerved

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So, I like to support new endeavors in the horror industry.  I like to participate in bringing new blood, as it were, into the mix.  I’d like to think that, perhaps, I can bring some of the six of you who read this along for the ride with me, and we can all help keep horror vibrant and refreshing.

I saw a call for submissions a while back for something new, a quarterly horror magazine called Unnerving Magazine.  I liked what the publication said it was shooting for, and even though its pay rate fell well below the bar I’ve set for myself, I wanted to support the effort.  I know, from two decades in the magazine industry, how hard it is to make a magazine work, in any industry. To that end, I submitted.  And the story was accepted.

The piece was an older short story fragment I cleaned up and finished a few years back for Deb, She Who Hates Horror.  It’s called “What Returns, What Remains,” and it appears in this first issue of Unnerving.

Go grab this first issue and support the horror industry!  And read a little John F.D. Taff!


A Great Review for The Desolated Orchard from Tangent Online!

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If you haven’t yet gotten a copy of my novella The Desolated Orchard, you might want to.  First, it’s only 99 cents.  And second, well, the reviews so far have been excellent.  That was underscored the other day when Tangent Online, that venerable speculative fiction review site that’s been so good to me in the past, gave the piece a great review–and it’ll be appearing on the site’s 2016 Recommended Reading List.

Go here to read the entire review.

Go here to buy a copy of The Desolated Orchard.

I’ll post Tangent’s Reading List when it goes live, which should be fairly soon.

Also, I have quite a few projects lined up for 2017. Eleven, in fact, at the current moment.  I think this is more (by quite  few) projects I’ve ever had lined up for a single year.  I can’t announce any of them at the moment…but soon, very soon I’ll be able to post something where I can shock and awe you with my peripatetic 2017 presence.

 


Happy 10th, Pseudopod!

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Pseudopod is a fantastic audio horror fiction site.  They take horror short stories from some of the best writers out there, professionally narrate them, then post about one a week for listeners…for absolutely free.

They’ve always paid authors for the rights to their stories, and now, at their 10th anniversary, they’d like to expand that to pay the narrators.  Now, I gotta tell you, I’ve had two stories up at Pseudopod“Orifice,” Episode #47 and “The Dark Level,” Episode 188.  Both were spectacularly produced and really wonderful to listen to. (Side note:  If you really want one of your stories to sound polished, have it read by a Brit…just sayin’.)

Anyway, Pseudopod is celebrating it’s 10th with a Kickstarter designed to raise enough money to pay the narrators, which is a very good thing.  So, go here to support them.  And, hmmm…, it might be time to send another story their way.

 


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