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Great Review for Little Deaths: The Definitive Collection!

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So, Little Deaths: The Definitive Collection racked up its first new review, and it’s a swell one.  The folks over at scifi/horror site Signal Horizon posted a great review of the book last week.

“Overall I found this compilation easy to read, hard to put down and impossible to forget. These stories all felt new and ancient at the same time in the most amazing of ways. Long after I finished the last word I thought about the characters. I would strongly recommend this for fans of truly thought provoking horror. Fans should check out Taff’s other books.”

I’d say that’s pretty good. Click here to read the entire review.

Get all my books at Amazon.  Kindle versions are on sale for just $2.99 each.  Click here to go to my Amazon Author page to find them all!

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Why Aren’t You Reading–and Reviewing!–This Book?

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Time to start the New Year with a whiny author whine.

Why aren’t you reading more of the books I’m in?

And if you are (thanks!), then why aren’t you reviewing them?

I don’t mean starting your own review site and laboriously writing in-depth analysis of books you’ve read.  There are plenty of good review sites and reviewers out there–I give you Shane Keene at Shotgun Logic and This is Horror, David W. Spell, Rich over at The Horror Bookshelf, Adrian at the Grim Reader, and the voracious reader Gabino Iglesias.

No, I’m not suggesting you hang out a shingle and devote your life to analysis of the written word, I’m just saying taking the time to post a two or three sentence distillation of what you liked/didn’t like about a book along with a commensurate number of stars might be a nice idea…and helpful to the publisher and author who brought the book to you!

Case in point:  Shadows Over Main Street 2, which came out a few months ago.  Edited by a terrific duo–Doug Murano and D. Alexander Ward–the book sports short Lovecraftian small-town fiction from the likes of Joyce Carol Oates, Joe Lansdale…and me!  My story is entitled “Shug,” and is a…well…a continuation, let’s say, of my eponymously titled story in I Can Taste the Blood.

Anyway, it’s a solid book with a bunch of great horror authors.  And a great publisher in Cutting Block Books.  So, lots of great people involved in this project, all of whom deserve your support.

So far, the book has generated two reviews at Amazon.  Two.  Granted, they’re both great reviews, but only two.  That’s not even one review for every month it’s been out there.  I can’t stress enough how important reviews of any kind are for books and their publishers. Amazon’s complex and probably arcane sales algorithms don’t even kick in until a book gets more than two dozen reviews.  As I look over the numbers of reviews most of the books I’m in get, it’s less than this…anemically less.

Look, I know reviewing books is a hassle.  I know it takes some time and your life is hectic.  I know.  I’m right there with ya.  But if you want to continue to read quality horror and dark speculative fiction, you need to support the small, indie press, because this stuff isn’t coming (for the most part) from the big press.  Sure, there are a scant handful of big press horror authors.  But by and large, most of the stuff is coming from the small press.  And they need your help in beating the bushes and attracting new readers, because they don’t have the marketing budgets of a big publisher.  Most don’t have any marketing budget.

So, get out there and leave a line or two or three for the books you’ve read and enjoyed, particularly books like Shadows Over Main Street 2.  You’ll help those publishers continue to bring you great horror literature in the future.

Now, get out there and read more in 2018!


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.


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.


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