Monthly Archives: September 2012

I’m Featured on the HWA’s Halloween Haunts Promotion, Wednesday, Oct. 3

You might have seen that little logo on the left hand side of the blog there, below my picture.  The one with the Hall0ween pumpkin it?  Clicking that takes you to the Horror Writers of America’s Dark Whispers blog…which will host the Halloween Haunts blog for the month of October.  Halloween Haunts is a promotion undertaken by the HWA to promote reading horror.  Great month to do that in, right?

For the entire month, the blog will be given to a different horror author each day to talk about some aspect of horror or Halloween.  There will be giveaways of books and other things, and it should all be a lot of fun.

My contribution will appear on the site this Wednesday, Oct. 3.  I’ve written something special for Halloween, there will be a brief excerpt from one of the short stories in my collection, Little Deaths, and they’ll be giving away an autographed print copy and one digital copy of Little Deaths.

Should be an interesting thing to check in on each day and see what a whole host of horror writers have put together.  So, click on the link on the left or go here.

Buy a copy of Little Deaths here.

“Bolts” on The Electric Chair Show This Sunday!

Corey over at The Electric Chair Show, an awesome horror podcast, as decided to add some new things to the ‘cast.  Namely, he’ll be reading short stories or selections from horror novels as part of the show.

The episode that will premier this Sunday (Sept. 30) will feature Corey reading my short story “Bolts,” the lead story from my fantastically reviewed collection, Little Deaths.  “Bolts” is my homage to Frankenstein, and has been selected by almost every reader and reviewer as one of the standouts in the collection. Corey’s got a fantastic voice.  I’ve already heard the reading, and it’s spectacular.

Go here on Sunday to listen and/or download the podcast.  And follow Corey on The Electric Chair Show.  It’s fun!

And go here to buy Little Deaths!

Cigarpocalypse: Over. The Power of Twitter…or Something

So, the two or so of you who actually read this blog from time to time may have read about my cigar problems with Cigars International.  Well, I am pleased to say that today my money was refunded back into my PayPal account…with absolutely no word from the fine customer service folks at CI.  No explanation, no heads-up email and certainly no apology.  Oh well..

I immediately went to Thompson Cigar and spent my money there…and actually got more for the same amount of money.  Not only that, I tweeted that the great cigar imbroglio was now over, that I would never do business with CI again, and that I ordered from Thompson with no problems.

Interestingly enough, after four days of tweeting about this, and including @CigarsIntl in the tweet, I had no responses from the company.  One single tweet including @ThompsonCigar, and I got a retweet (!) and a nice note from them thanking me for my business.

Imagine that…great customer service.  Thanks, Twitter!

Can’t wait to get my cigars.  Debbie loves cigars…  :  )

Cigars International Sucks and Other Customer Service Failures

I don’t smoke, but I like cigars every once in a while.  Never been much of a smoker of anything.  Never into cigarettes when I was younger.  Never into anything less legal but still smokeable, either.  Just didn’t seem interesting to me.  But around 30ish, I developed a taste for the occasional cigar.  A nice cigar, a big steaming mug of tea and sitting down to some evening writing with some good music.  That’s a great evening.

So, I recently ordered some cigars from Cigars International, fine online purveyor of cigars I had ordered from successfully in the past.  No worries.  Placed the $54 order, then    happily tracked my package through UPS until…well until it wasn’t delivered.  For some reason that I still can’t figure out, CI shipped to the address I lived at 4 years ago.  Now, this on the surface might not seem so strange, but I hadn’t placed an order with CI until I moved to this address.  So, they shouldn’t have even had that address.  I still don’t know exactly what happened…but I’m looking at you, PayPal.  Grrrr…

Anyway, no prob, I figured, the fine folks at Cigars International would clear this up.  Ummm…well, after half a dozen messages sent back and forth to their customer service reps, it seems as though, no, they can’t or won’t help.  Whatever.  The package shows up on UPS tracking as “Undelivered” and “Undeliverable.”  (All of this is made stranger by the fact that the wrong address is right down the road from where I have lived for 4 years…literally about 10 houses down.  Indeed, the UPS/USPS mail truck has to PASS MY HOUSE in order to get to that wrong address.)

Anyway, CI Customer service tells me that they can do one of three things:

1.  Cancel the order, in which case I will not get a refund of my $54 until they get their lost package back.

2.  Allow me (graciously) to re-0rder the product, and accept another $54 from me, so that I can get the product I originally ordered.  Except now they have $108 of my money with no clear plan for reumbursing me for the package they lost.

3.  Nothing.  That’s right.  Nothing.  Sit back and wait for something to happen–the package to teleport to where it needs to be or, evidently better for the folks at CI, me to be struck on the head severely enough to forget I ever placed an order that I paid for and did not receive.

As you might imagine, none of these options seemed tremendously appealing, and I demanded my  money back.  That, the fine customer service rep assured me, was not gonna happen.

Today, after more wrangling with them, I was basically told that I am responsible for finding the package myself.  Once it’s located and returned, they will refund my money.  Until then, I am out $54 and out the product and basically out of patience with Cigars International.

I don’t know how the problem occurred.  They told me it was my responsibility to check the shipping address, and that’s true.  My bad.  But since they’d already delivered successfully to me in the past at the address I’m at, I didn’t check.  So, this failure on my part, evidently, negates every little common customer service courtesy most companies extend to their customers.

I’ve ordered from them before.  I would order from them in the future.  And yet, for some reason, they think it’s my responsibility to rectify this problem.  I’m not asking for anything unreasonable, either.  I even get that they don’t want to let loose of my money until they know that I don’t have the product.  But the UPS tracking clearly shows that the package was undelivered.  Which means I didn’t steal it from Cigars International and lie to them about not receiving it.

Frankly, I don’t tolerate bad customer service, and this is the worst I’ve seen in quite a while.  The folks at CI customer service, while polite, were in no mood to help, only to turn the problem back around onto me.  I even asked for a manager or someone else outside of customer service to contact me to discuss this, but I was told there was no one else.  I LOVE being told this particular bad customer service lie, because it is so blatantly a lie.  Really?  There’s no one else working at Cigars International besides two unhelpful customer service reps?  Really? No, what this means is that there’s no one here who will help you.

So, I blogged about this and tweeted about this.  And probably nothing will happen, because people tend to shrug off bad customer service and say to themselves, “Oh well, I’ll just never do business with them again.”  But I think bad customer service is almost endemic here in these United States, and companies get away with it because most customers remain silent.

Not me.  Not only will I take my cigar business elsewhere, to either Thompson or even a local shop, I want to let you know not to spend your money there, also.  Got some more bad customer service stories?  Share them with me or on Twitter.

My Five Favorite Books…

James Roy Daley, my publisher at Books of the Dead Press, has posted a short interview with me concerning my five favorite books.  If you’re interested, and of course you should be, stop by Books of the Dead’s website here.  It’s a fun little blurb.  Scroll down and see the five favorite books of Matt Hults (author of Husk) and Tonia Brown (author of Badass Zombie Road Trip), too.

Buy a copy of Little Deaths, my amazingly well-reviewed collection of horror stories, here.

Little Deaths: “A brilliant anthology that will keep you enthralled until the end.”

The kind folks over at Erebus Horror have reviewed Little Deaths…and it’s another terrific review!  Here’s a sample of the review, but definitely go here to visit the site and read the entire post.  It’s great!

“John’s credits are definitely something to take notice of, so I had a good impression before reading the anthology. After I started, this increased ten-fold. You will find with many authors who release an anthology that their stories all have a similar feel. Sure they might all be about different things like Vampires, Werewolves, Ghosts and Goblins etc, but the way they tell the story and the tones/styles used can be generally the same. With this anthology however, John’s style changes with every story. One minute you’re reading a tense ghost story, the next you’re reading a nightmarish tale centered around sweets!

There’s something for everyone in this great collection, whether you love the whole psychological horror aspect, or whether you like to be nauseated by the sickening images conjured in your mind’s eye. John F.D. Taff raises the bar for other horror writers in this brilliant anthology that will keep you enthralled until the end.”

That last sentence is the kicker; couldn’t have written a better marketing blurb for Little Deaths if I tried.  Thanks to everyone at Erebus Horror!

If that review makes you want to give Little Deaths a try, you can buy it here.


I’ll Be Featured in the HWA Halloween Haunts Promotion

So, the Horror Writers Association (or HWA, to those in the know) is sponsoring a Halloween Haunts promotion to spread the word about horror during the Halloween season.  Basically between Oct. 1 and Oct. 31, they’ll host guest blogs, do giveaways and promotions and whatnot.  They accepted a blog from me, along with a promotion for Little Deaths, a giveaway signed copy of Little Deaths and a giveaway digital copy.  I’ll have more details as they’re available, including when my guest blog will be up.

Sounds fun!

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