It’s a Big Day!

So, today marks republishing day for three of my books–Kill-Off, The Bell Witch and a Definitive Edition of Little Deaths!  All under the imprint of Grey Matter Press, simply one of the very best dark fiction publishers out there, operated by Tony Rivera, who is not only a savvy marketer and brainy publisher, but someone I’ve come to call a close friend.

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I met Tony via email, I dunno, about five years ago now, when I submitted two stories to an open call by a new publisher, Grey Matter Press.  I sent two stories, “Show Me” and “Angie.”  After some back and forth, Tony bought them both.  “Show Me” would appear in Grey Matter’s Bram Stoker Nominated collection Dark Visions Vol. 1, and “Angie” would appear in Ominous Realities.

And we were off to the races.  Tony and I seem to share similar views about writing, horror, publishing. (Not music, though.  I am more prog rock; he is more thrash metal.) Tony bought “Some Other Day” for his Death’s Realm antho and “That Song You Can’t Get Out of Your Head” for Savage Beasts.  In Dread, a Best Of Grey Matter anthology where readers voted on the stories, “Angie” and “Show Me” also appeared.  I was one of only two authors who had two stories in this, the other being Horror God Ray Garton.

And, of course, Tony tabled the idea of taking I Can Taste the Blood anywhere else when I brought it up first to him.  Of course it would be published by Grey Matter.

Through it all, as I wrote and sought new readers, Tony and Grey Matter have been there.  So when my other publisher fell on hard times, as so often happens in the indie press world, Tony said “of course” he wanted to bring those titles under the Grey Press mantle.  And he’s done it.  I cannot be more proud, impressed and excited about the new edits and new clothes he’s given to these books.

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And he went ahead and gave The End in All Beginnings–my own Stoker-Nominated title released by Grey Matter–a slight sprucing up, too.  A tweak to the cover, a revised Afterword from me, and a brand new introduction by none other than Shane Douglas Keene, reviewer at his Shotgun Logic blog and for other sites such as This is Horror.  Oh, and Shane has been a big and very appreciated supporter of mine for a while now.  So getting him to say a few words was spectacular.

So that’s it for now.  But you won’t have to wait too long.  Lurking in the shadows is a whole new collection of mine, Little Black Spots, out in 2018.  Oh, and some other stuff here and there.

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Little Deaths: The Definitive Collection

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So, this year marks the fifth anniversary of my very first short fiction collection, Little Deaths.  It’s been a helluva five years.

Little Deaths, as it turned out, put me on the map in a way that my 20 years of writing beforehand hadn’t.  And it’s been the little collection that could, outselling just about every other things I’ve done (save for The Bell Witch), an amazing 20,000 copies.

Like my other works recently picked up by Grey Matter, Little Death‘s first publisher had run onto hard times and had to let the titles go.  Tony at Grey Matter wanted ’em all, and tomorrow, December 12, he releases all new versions of Kill-Off, The Bell Witch and Little Deaths (also a slightly revised version of The End in All Beginnings, but more on that tomorrow).

Little Deaths, like the other works, gets a whole new edit, thorough as only Grey Matter can.  Also I wrote a new Afterword and revised the Notes section.  And we added five stories to this edition–thus the Definitive Collection–bringing the total to a generous 24 stories.

But perhaps the most exciting thing for me was to have Josh Malerman, author of Bird Box and Black Mad Wheel and Goblin and soon-to-be-released Unbury Carol, write a brand new Introduction.  And, well, it’s awesome.

Though the original edition of Little Deaths had a great cover, this edition kind of plays on it, with slightly more evolved take.

Little Deaths: The Definitive Collection is out tomorrow at all the major outlets, in trade paperback.  E-editions to follow by the end of the year.


On This, the 200th Anniversary of the Bell Witch Legend

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The Bell Witch is the quintessential American ghost story, and one of the only (if not the only) poltergeist tale where the poltergeist actually kills someone.  Is it true?  Who knows, but its enduring legacy seems to indicate that it has burrowed its way into the American subconscious.

I read about it a long time ago, as a child reading shit about UFOs and ghosts and Yetis and the Loch Ness Monster.  And it lodged deep in my subconscious, too.  I knew when I decided to become a writer (or when writing decided it wasn’t going to leave me alone, I’m not sure which it was), I wanted to try my hand at retelling this tale.

So I did.  Like 1820s America, where this is said to have occurred, my tale of the Bell Witch was a rough and shambling beast.  It sported a great cover by the awesome Kealan Patrick Burke, but inside it was the work of a much greener writer–and it wasn’t particularly well edited.

But that book, The Bell Witch, sold like proverbial hotcakes.  When it was all said and done (and it indeed was all said and done, because that publisher went under recently), that little small press book sold over 24,000 copies–a figure unheard of for a small press book.

Along comes Grey Matter Press, publisher of many of my finer short stories and my Stoker Award-Nominated The End in All Beginnings.   Tony Rivera there said he’d like to take on the pieces that erstwhile publisher had brought to market for me, effectively becoming the holder of my entire library of work to-date.  Effin’ awesome.

So this December 12–less than one week from today–the new paperback version of The Bell Witch comes out.  And this year, 2017, marks the 200th anniversary of the beginning of this legend.  Also Dec 21st (my actual 54th birthday!) also marks the 196th anniversary of the death of one of the main characters in this legend, John Bell, said to have been killed by the spirit.

I loved Kealan’s original cover for my book, and the burning doll on the new cover seems to me to be a perfect illustration of the legend, too.  In addition to this great new cover, this revised edition features expanded notes, a fresh edit of the text and a great introduction by author Bracken MacLeod, of Stranded and 13 Views of the Suicide Woods.  All in all, a new version of a book I am very proud of.

If you’ve never heard of the Bell Witch, hold onto your hats.  If you have, I hope you enjoy my retelling of the legend, for my version gives the Witch a voice of her own for the first time.

December 12.

And beyond that, Little Black Spots, my brand new collection of short fiction. Spring 2018.


Kill-Off, December 12th

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Part One of the John F.D. Taff Library

In our previous episode, you learned that one of my past publishers, name redacted, went tits-up earlier this year.  It had previously published several of my books, including Little Deaths, The Bell Witch and Kill-Off.  Now, bad stuff happens in small press publishing all the time, so I’ll not speak ill of the dead.  And to be honest with you, I made a fair amount of money with said publisher, to whit: that publisher managed to sell nearly 24,000 copies of The Bell Witch and about 20,000 copies of Little Deaths. Sold, mind you, not gave away.  These are unheard of sales numbers.  Most small press books are wildly lucky to sell 1,000 copies.  A smash hit in the indie press might sell 2,500 to 4,000 copies.  So, how can I be sure that these two books sold so well in the small press?

Simple.  I was paid on these sales numbers.  Ain’t no publisher gonna pay you on inflated sales numbers.

Anyway, so said publisher folds its tent, leaving some of my titles unhomed.  I approach Tony Rivera at Grey Matter, the publisher of my Stoker Award-Nominated The End in All Beginnings, and ask him if he’d be interested in taking them.  The answer was yes, and the newly packaged books will be released in trade paperback format next Tuesday, December 12, with e-books to follow shortly.

The first of these books I’d like to feature is a bit of an odd duck, at least for me.  It’s a thriller called Kill-Off, and it represents a bit of a departure for me.

Kill-Off is a straight-forward thriller, with not a whiff of the supernatural about it.  In that, it’s not typical of what I normally write.  I wrote it about 20 or so years ago, used it to snag a big time New York City agent. But big time New York City publishing was undergoing some paroxysms around that time–contracting vendors, distribution problems, how to deal with the whole digital revolution–and my big time New York City agent wasn’t able to do much with it.  Boo-hoo, right?

Oh well.  I had sole Little Deaths to my small press publisher, it was doing well, and he wanted to know if I had more.  Yes.  How about Kill-Off?  OK.  Bam!  Published.

Grey Matter has taken this book–the tale of a shadowy organization that blackmails our main character into becoming a hit man–and has given it a whole new edit and a great new cover.  Bram Stoker Award-winning author Joe McKinney was the big name I’d approached for a blurb, and he gave me a great one:

Kill-Off is a tightly written, dark descent into the world of the contract killer. John F.D. Taff knocks this one out of the park.”

Kill-Off has a squarely suburban noirish feel to it, and while not supernatural, is just as dark and unwholesome as the other stuff I write.

A fantastic trade paperback will be available at Amazon and the usual outlets beginning December 12, with e-books to follow.

And don’t forget, this all leads up to my new collection of short fiction Little Black Spots, Spring 2018.  More information on that forthcoming.

Next up for discussion The Bell Witch.


All of My Stuff Under One Roof–Finally!

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All of my works are finally under one house, and it’s a great one–Grey Matter Press, Chicago.

Had a little hiccough earlier this year when one of my other publishers shuttered, leaving Little Deaths, The Bell Witch and Kill-Off in limbo.  But Grey Matter stepped in, and now they are the (hopefully!) proud publishers of my entire library.

Each book received an entirely new, thorough edit and polish, as only Grey Matter can do.  Believe me, these books sing now.  And spectacular new covers.  In addition, they also received new afterwords and notes from me.

The Bell Witch also received a great introduction, “A Skeptic’s Guide to The Bell Witch,” by Bracken MacLeod, author of Stranded, 13 Views of the Suicide Woods, and Come to Dust.  Cool note:  this year marks the 200th anniversary of the beginning of the hauntings that became known as the Bell Witch.  And December 21st–coincidentally (or not), my birthday!–marks the 196th anniversary of the death of the family patriarch, Jack Bell.  Auspicious!

Little Deaths gets the biggest makeover, though, in what’s being called Little Deaths: The Definitive Edition.  Five years since my first fiction collection was published, this book gets all new notes from me, a new afterword, five stories brand spankin’ new to this collection (bringing the total to a generous 24 stories!), and a spectacular new introduction by none other than Josh Malerman, author of Bird Box, Black Mad Wheel, Goblin, and soon, Unbury Carol.

The End in All Beginnings, my five novella, Stoker-Nominated collection, gets a subtle cover makeover to bring it in line with the other books.

Trade paperback editions of all of these books are available December 12, with e-editions coming toward the end of the year.

And…hold on…we’re not done yet.  All of this builds toward something, and that something is something entirely new.  And that something is…

Little Black Spots.

My brand-new fiction collection coming in Spring 2018 from Grey Matter.  Some reprint stories, some totally, wholly new, never-published-before stories. Very excited about this, and more news and stuff as we creep closer to the date.

Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll feature each one of these new books, talk a little more about them, share some stories, etc.  And, who knows?  Maybe I’ll tease a little more about Little Black Spots.  A TOC maybe?  Cover?  Who knows?  Watch this space for more news, and head over to Amazon Dec. 12 to grab new copies of these books.

And, by the way, thanks for all of your support over the years.  It keeps me going.


Update on Stuff!

Look at this.  What a bad blogger I’ve been not to address my blog in over a month.  Bad, horrible, naughty, evil Zoot!

Anyway, what’s going on?  So, pretty much 98% recovered from my little stroke. So, things are back to normal (whatever that means) here at Taff Lodge.

Looking for an agent for The Fearing, but many are put off by the book’s length–nearly 600 manuscript pages and 145,000 words.  But it’s out there, making the rounds.  We’ll see…

Meanwhile, I’ve started on my next novel, He Left.  Can’t say much about it other than it’s completely different from The Fearing.  Shorter, tighter.  Nostalgic.  The 1970s.  Childhood, friendship and parenting.  Aliens. UFOs. Oh yeah, and death.  Shooting for April to have it finished, and it’s coming smoothly, easily.  Gonna be a heartbreaker I think…at least I hope.  Two chapters in so far!

Working on some short stories right now, too.  Trying to replenish the well, which was basically run dry by Little Black Spots, the new collection coming out from Grey Matter Press next Spring.  More on that later.

Meanwhile, Grey Matter Press is putting out a 5th anniversary Definitive Edition of Little Deaths, complete with a new cover, five new stories, new notes and an afterword from me, and also a new foreword by Josh Malerman, author of Bird Box and Black Mad Wheel and Goblin.

And Kill-Off takes on a more hardboiled cover, and an excellent introduction from Joe Fucking Schwartz, author of Stabco and A Season Without Rain.

The Bell Witch, too, is getting a makeover; a great new cover and an excellent intro by Bracken MacLeod, author of Stranded and 13 View of the Suicide Woods.  I’ll show you the cover for that, too, soon.  Did you know that the 200th anniversary of the Bell Witch legend is this year?

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My story The Desolated Orchard, which made it to Tangent Online’s Recommended Reading List last year, was featured in Cutting Block Book’s omnibus Single Slices anthology.  Get it here.

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My story, “A Ware That Will Not Keep,” was in Behold: Oddities, Curiosities and Undefinable Wonders.  It’s been well-received, both the story and the book.

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My story, “Shug,” was in Shadows Over Main Street 2 (along with a story from Joyce Carol Oates!).  Get it here!

I’ve written the introductions to two swell books, both first collections of stories from two of my favorite authors–and people!  The first is J. Daniel Stone’s Love Bites and Razorlines. 

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The second is Erik T. Johnson’s Yes, Trespassing.  These are both excellent, inspired and out there collections of work from these two authors.

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Get them both!

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I’ve also got a reprinted story, “The Scent,” appearing in Eric Guignard’s The Five Senses of Fear, out soon.

What am I working on?  Well, I’ve got a project I’m working that involves six other authors, each writing novellas.  Publisher secured, out late next year.  More soon.

Another possible project I can’t discuss.

A GIANT possible project that I, alas, cannot discuss.

My own next novel, which I’ve already discussed.  Various other shorts and novellas and projects that I will discuss in good time.

So, to recap:

  1. Not Dead
  2. Novel Started
  3. Various Projects Out
  4. Various Other Projects Begun

I know I’ve forgotten something, either to share or to vaguely hint about.  Oh well, enough for now!  Thanks for stopping by!


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