Monday, December 31, 2012

One tradition dies, another is born

Christmas Eve, as I was filling the last stocking and preparing for bed I was struck by how much life has changed over the past year, and how much more it will do so in 2013.

At that moment I realized we had lost one holiday tradition that has been a part of our family just as much as Christmas trees and wrapping paper, when I noticed there was no milk and cookies on the table for Santa.

That’s right – my little one, who turned 11 earlier in the year, has finally reached the point where she no longer believes in dear old St. Nick. I have five kids, with the oldest of the brood turning 21 in October, and for 20 years we’ve placed the little mug of milk and a saucer of cookies on the end table nearest the Christmas tree. For 20 years the last thing I’ve done after everyone is long gone to bed and I’ve filled the last of the stockings is sit on the sofa, watch a little television or listen to some music and munch on those cookies. Some years there was a note, and I’d scrawl out a reply, taking great pains to hide my handwriting style.

As you can imagine, with five children our house has always been busy, particularly at Christmas. When our four oldest were really young (my first child was a month short of turning 5 when the fourth one was born), after I’d eaten the cookies and left the note my wife would cover the doorway to the den with wrapping paper, as if the entire room was one big present. That served the dual purpose of enhancing the excitement for the kids and keeping them out of the room in the wee hours of the night.

I can’t tell you how many Christmases we’d be awakened at 2 or 3 in the morning, the sound of little footsteps running up and down the hall, hushed voices talking about what might be behind the wrapped door or how many hours were left until they were allowed to rouse us from bed. We’d chase them back to bed, only to repeat the process every hour or so until 7.

Despite running low on sleep, that was always great fun.

Gradually those days gave way to less excitement, and now, for the first time in two decades, sadly, no Santa, and already I’m missing those days when Santa was real and the kids were little.

A new tradition was born this year, though even that one has a bit of bitter-sweetness to it.

My oldest daughter is engaged to be married, having officially accepted the young man’s proposal in October. Every year we have a family Christmas Eve dinner, just my wife and I and the kids. This year we added to that mix the young man engaged to my daughter. After eating, the two of them opened the presents we all had purchased for them, then left on a four-hour drive to his family, where they spent Christmas Day and the days afterward.

Saying bye to the oldest of our crew on Christmas Eve, watching her ride away to spend Christmas with her soon-to-be husband and his family is the new holiday rite we’ll be observing. My daughter is ecstatic over her pending marriage and her new family, and I’m genuinely happy for that, but it’s still a little sad to see the holidays change, knowing we may never all be together on Christmas again.

Change, of course, is the nature of life. I think it was Billy Joel who sang “Life is a series of helloes and good-byes.” I was a very young man when I first heard those words, and while the young tend to think they understand everything in a way no one else can, it’s only with age one truly starts to understand such sentiments.

I’ve witnessed a great deal of change in recent years, with the declining health of my parents, approaching adulthood for my kids, and my own advancing age. Still, I’m not unhappy. My oldest is as content with her life as I’ve seen in a long time, and my other children are growing up to be, if I do say so myself, nice young men and women whom I’m proud to know.

The coming year offers great promise: the aforementioned marriage, my second daughter’s transfer from a community college to a four-year school, and I hope my continued development and success in the literary world.

Still, forgive me if every once in a while I sit and wish for times gone by.


Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Dark Secret of Warren House is free today!

Just a quick update to let you all know my winter horror tale, THE DARK SECRET OF WARREN HOUSE, is FREE today only (Dec. 29) at Amazon. THE DARK SECRET OF WARREN HOUSE is part of the Holiday Horror Collection (the full collection is available for just $1.49).

As a stand-alone piece, WARREN HOUSE can be purchased normally for 99 cents (but FREE today!), and it's gotten a handful of really strong reviews.

Here's an excerpt:


Kevin looked at her. She was pointing to the next alcove.

There, Kevin saw, sat Lucy Adams. Her face was drawn and pale, eyes staring vacantly. Blood dripped from a dozen different entry wounds where tentacles invaded her body. Kevin reached into the alcove, fingers brushing Lucy’s face, when a tentacle stabbed from the shadows, slicing into his forearm.

Kevin yanked his hand away. The tentacle stretched and then snapped, a sliver still in his arm.

“Get it out,” he screamed, clawing at this skin. “My knife,” he gasped.

“What?” Marcia asked.

“Knife … in my right pocket,” he said through clenched teeth. He continued scratching, peeling the skin away from the wound. Marcia slipped her hand in his pocket, withdrew a small pocketknife, then opened it.

“Now what?”

“Cut it out!” he screamed.

“Wha… I can’t do that.”

Kevin grabbed the knife and sliced around the wound. The tentacle was longer now, growing from his arm. Kevin slashed deep into the skin, cutting under the tentacle, like a surgeon removing a tumor. A chunk of flesh, tentacle imbedded in it, fell to the floor.
Kevin stumbled away, the room spinning, gray clouding his vision. He fell to one knee. Marcia knelt next to him, eased him to lying position. Blood trickled from his arm, pooling on the cold stone beneath him.

“We gotta get out of here,” Kevin said. “Help me up.”

Marcia helped him to his feet. Kevin stumbled, dizzy. He looked down, his senses snapping awake when he did. Two tentacles sprouted from the floor where his blood pooled.

THE DARK SECRET OF WARREN HOUSE is FREE today at Amazon.com

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Need help wrapping up the Christmas shopping?


We made it past the Mayan Doomsday, but your personal D-DAY is just around the corner because Christmas is here and you haven’t finished your shopping.

Maybe your significant other has everything she (or he) needs; perhaps you need a little token gift for a coworker or casual friend; possibly you just procrastinated and now you’re up a creek without a paddle (or perhaps you just want to treat yourself to a little electronic stocking stuffer).

Ever thought about e-gifting a book? It’s inexpensive, you don’t have to worry about on-time delivery (in fact, delivery is FREE), and it’s just a cool 21st-century thing to do.

You can give an e-book to anyone who has a valid e-mail address, and they don’t even need to own a Kindle to read your gift. For complete information on how to e-gift a book, visit giving an e-book, then check out my offers here:

For the suspense lover who has a little romance in them, might I suggest my novel CLAIMING MOON? It’s a riveting, fast-paced murder mystery with a serving of humor, a healthy dose of romance, and a little bit of the macabre. And it’s just $3.99 deliverable to a Kindle or Kindle reading device.

For horror lovers, I offer HOLIDAY HORROR, a $1.49-short story collection (five tales) built around three of my favorite holidays – Halloween, Christmas and New Years. I won’t give any of the tales away, but I will say this: You’ll never look at Christmas angels the same again, you’ll think long and hard about setting any more New Year’s resolutions, and come next October you might be a little more hesitant about visiting any of the seasonal haunted houses that spring up around your community.

And if you’re looking for something for the zombie lover in your life (who’s probably having Walking Dead withdrawals), I have a brutal short story that fills the bill, and at 99 cents SUMMER’S END is affordable for everyone.

Last, I offer a story for the lover of old books – you know, those things that used to be printed on paper, with a cover and everything. Think older, collectable books are great? You might not after reading THE JOURNAL, for just 99 cents.

Just click on any of those titles to order, or visit my author page at Amazon.com for additional choices.

If you purchase any of my work, I hope you (or the one for whom you buy it) get great enjoyment.

And most of hall, have a Merry Christmas!

Thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Can a horror guy do religious/inspirational writing?


It was a spring day in 1990 and I was sitting on the courthouse steps in the tiny town of Stuart, Va., talking with a young colleague named Melody. Her desk and mine faced one another in the newsroom of the paper where we worked, some 30 miles away. It was unusual for our newspaper to send a reporter to Stuart, yet today there were two of us -- Melody to report on some controversial school board action and I to cover a trial. Her board was in closed session, my jury was deliberating, so there we were sitting in the pleasant spring air of the Blue Ridge mountains, under the watchful eyes of a statue of Civil War hero J.E.B. Stuart.

Although I would not seriously pursue writing fiction for many years, even then I dabbled a little in horror. Melody knew that. She also knew I had attended Liberty University. You know, Jerry Falwell’s school, the college the good Dr. Falwall had said would become to fundamentalist Christians what Notre Dame was to Catholics. It was right wing conservative central at the dawn of the modern conservative social and political movement. Naturally Melody, and most everyone else I knew back then, thought folks coming from Liberty University were clean-cut Bible-thumping, right-wing clones of Jerry Falwell.

So, the first guy she meets from Liberty is me, someone who dabbles in horror writing as a hobby. A religious guy who writes decidedly non-religious work.

“How do you reconcile your beliefs with what you write?” she asked me that afternoon.

I don’t recall exactly what I said. I mumbled what was probably a long-winded series of words that sounded good but in truth gave no real answer.

In some ways I guess that’s a question I’m still trying to answer.

I was raised in an ultra-conservative home, at the northern tip of the Bible Belt of the South. Whatever the preacher said on Sunday was right, everything else was wrong, and there was no room for gray areas between the two. From the sixth grade through college my formal education took place in Christian institutions – first a Christian middle and high school, then Liberty University.

I’ve spent most of my adult life in the field of journalism, with a brief time out when I was executive director for a suicide/crisis hotline. I have seen some of the worst in people along the way – crimes people commit against one another; businesses that chew up and spit out their employees while lining the pockets of top executives; and worst of all churches where preachers and “leaders” just pound away at some in their congregations until they have literally broken those people.

Through the years I’ve questioned many of those beliefs ingrained in my psyche when I was young. Quite frankly, some of them just don’t measure up in the cold hard light of critical examination. They’re myths, in best cases half-truths passed down through the generations and followed blindly by those who don’t know better, in worst cases they are dogma intentionally used by church leaders to keep others in line – to emotionally enslave them.

Some of those beliefs, though, stand up to rational examination. At the very worst they make for a solid set of principles by which to live, and at best they show that there may very well be more to this life than we can glimpse, that there is something larger than we are, something we can belong to, become part of. Something – or someone – we can place our faith in.

Which brings us back to that question, maybe from a different angle, these many years later. How does a guy who writes horror suddenly come out with a book that’s best described as Christian/inspirational?

I’m not sure. I do believe it’s a travesty to pigeon-hole a writer, to say he’s written horror so everything he pens must be horror, or she writes romance so all of her work must be romance. Those neat little genre tags have by-and-large been developed by the publishing industry – more specifically by the marketing arm of the publishing industry. Books, at least ones submitted to the major publishing houses, aren’t so much judged on quality of writing or story-telling as they are along one simple principle – is there a potential big market for this? Will it sell? Might it sell big?

So the publishing industry selects what it thinks might be big sellers, and packages them in neat little categories that make for easy marketing – inspirational, horror, science fiction, romance, and so forth. I understand that – publishing is a business, and its sole purpose as a business is to make money for its owners. That’s the way of the business world.

As writers, and readers, we’ve allowed that marketing vernacular to take over the way we define what we write, what we read.

And that brings me back to that original question: Can a horror guy write religious/inspirational work?

The answer to that is no.

But a writer who just happens to pen horror can. A writer can, or should, challenge himself, write in the different genres, tell the stories that are on his heart to tell. Most of my work is horror. I don’t know why – I’m wired that way. To those of a more religious nature, who believes God made everyone specifically as they are, that everything is controlled by God, I can only say this is the way I was made.

But not all of my work is horror. I’ve got a murder mystery novel (CLAIMING MOON) with a bit of romance in it, I’ve written and published erotica under a pen name (and no, I’m not telling you the name), and I now I have a religious/inspirational novel on the market called CHOICES.

So how does a horror guy write a religious/inspirational work? I don’t know. I’m no longer just a horror guy. I’m a writer, and CHOICES is the work I have to offer today. It’s a story about second chances, about bitterness and forgiveness, about homelessness and death and family and, I suppose, redemption, and how belief in God affects all of that.

I hope you decide to download the book. More importantly, I hope you enjoy it, and tell others about the novel. You can download CHOICES to your Kindle here, and to your Nook here. If you don’t have either, you can download a free Kindle reading app for your computer or mobile device right here.

Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Holiday horror, a free novel, and a free short story

I certainly hope everyone has had a great Thanksgiving.

This, of course, is the traditional start of the Christmas season, when we’re all supposed to be looking forward to that joyous day, sharing good cheer with our neighbors, co-workers and relatives, and generally having a merry old time.

That doesn’t mean the bad stuff, the unusual, the events driven by unseen but dark forces, go away. On the contrary, the holiday season can be a time for evil to show itself in unexpected ways.

You can get a taste of that in my new mini-collection of short stories called HOLIDAY HORROR. There you’ll find a piece that calls up all the fun of Halloween, and you see true evil from an unexpected place. Then we dive into Christmas – yes, a bit of horror from the Yuletide season. Well, okay, a LOT of horror built around Christmas. And the collection ends with a look at what happens when we become a little too obsessed with keeping a New Year’s resolution.

There are five creepy little tales in HOLIDAY HORROR, and it’s available for just $1.49

Now for the freebies – one of my stories in HOLIDAY HORROR, a tale called The Dark Secret of Warren House, is free for download to your Kindle on Sunday, Nov. 25. That’s right, it’s free! Slip on over to Amazon.com on Sunday, download the story, and tell everyone you know to do the same!

Before that, however, you can get a copy of my debut novel, CLAIMING MOON, absolutely free on Friday, Nov. 23. That’s right, the full novel, for free. Go get it, and tell all your friends to do the same.

And Happy Holidays!

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Next Big Thing

Author Kate Aaron last week tagged me in her blog post, which means she passed a series of questions to me that I'm supposed to answer on my blog, and then tag other writers who do the same on their blog.

Slip on over to Kate's blog for a few minutes, peruse her answers, then come on back here and see what I have to say about my next work (I shift gears quite a bit from my horror and thriller work for this one).

And now, on to the next big thing!

What is the title of your next book?
Still working on that, although the tentative title is CHOICES.

Where did the idea come from for the book?
It's hard to pinpoint one event or idea. Over the years I've come to realize the natural results of many choices I've made over my lifetime. Some turned out okay, others were bad choices that still have an effect not only on me, but my entire family. Unfortunately, I think many of us make more bad choices than good along the way. It was that theme I wanted to explore.

What genre does you book fall under?
Inspirational/religious.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Oh, that's a though one. For my main character, Joey Reagan, I see John Stamos, although he'd need to be about 25 years younger. His sister, Amy Martin, would be played by Sarah Lancaster and his would-be girlfriend, Jessica, I think would be played by Zooey Deschanel (with a different color hair – you'll have to read the book to learn what color). As for the father, Jack, I think I'd like to see Gene Hackman play that role – not necessarily because he fits, but I can't think of a better actor.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
(Okay, I'm cheating on this and using two sentences). A series of bad choices cost Jack his family and career, and left his kids growing up alone. Years later he and his son, Joey, are faced with a chance to put aside a lifetime of hurt – can they overcome their past, or will they each make another bad decision with life-long, maybe even eternal, consequences?

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agent?
Self-published.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your novel?
About six years. Okay, maybe not quite that long, but it was a good long time between the beginning and the finish. I started the novel several years back, got a couple of thousand words into it, then put it aside. Once I came back to it and decided to finish, it was really about a month of writing time.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
“The Christmas Box” by Richard Paul Evans or perhaps Donna VanLeire's series of Christmas novels (“The Christmas Promise,” “The Christmas Hope,” and a few others).

Who or what inspired you to write your book?
Oh boy, I hope you have some time on your hands.

Three separate events, separated by 17 years.

The first happened when I was a young reporter, way back in the dark ages (1989, I believe), three local homeless men died in a fire. The three had taken shelter in a vacant building on a particularly cold winter night, built a small fire to stay warm and some time during the night while they slept it went out of control and burned the building down. I was the reporter who drew the assignment of spending a couple of days out on the streets, talking with various homeless people, local shop owners who may have known them, trying to figure out who these guys were, what they were like, what led to this end. Turns out one of them had plenty of money in the bank – he wasn't rich, but he had close to $40,000 there. You could buy some small houses in that city for that amount of money back in those days. His family said he just got tired of life one day and left, and had been living on the streets for years.

The second event happened in 2006. I was group publisher of some newspapers and various other publications, making good money for the company, when I was asked to do a couple of things I found unethical, which I couldn't do. Pretty soon the firm I worked for decided it was time to “change things up” and “go a different direction.” My job, along with a few others, was eliminated. Up to that point I had been paid reasonably well, but I was the sole bread-winner for a family of seven and it didn't take long for us to find ourselves in pretty bad shape. For two years I did a combination of part-time work, freelance writing, selling some fiction here and there, taking a job for a small weekly publisher who ended up stiffing me on quite a bit of pay, all the while flirting with losing our rental home. Even after I found a decent job and moved to a new place, we struggled with – and to a degree continue to struggle with – some of the repercussions of those two years. True confession time here: There were times during that period when I just didn't care, I didn't see any end. I worked and worried and did what I had to do to keep my family fed and under a roof, but for me, personally, if no one else was involved I would have just walked away and ended up homeless. I came to a point where I understood what that gentlemen from years ago must have felt – sometimes, it's just easier to walk away, even if that literally means living on the street. I think readers will see some of that in CHOICES.

The final part of the “inspiration” came when I read “The Christmas Promise” by Donna VanLiere. As a writer and editor I have a terrible, awful tendency to sometimes read work by someone else and say “oh heck, I could do that,” or think “that's not really all that good.”

I don't know Ms. VanLiere and have no reason to think she would ever read my blog, but if she does I hope she'll forgive me for this next statement. When I read “The Christmas Promise” my first thought was “Eh, kinda nice, but a best-seller? No way.”

Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the book, but I kept thinking it was too simple, maybe too much of a formula. Then I decided to write my own Christmas novel and found out it wasn't so simple. I went back and read “The Christmas Promise” again, and a third time, and realized Ms. VanLiere had done a really wonderful job of building a novel, of setting various plots in motion and bringing them together later in the work. I read her novel a fourth time, then drew upon those other two events in my life and ended up with CHOICES, although it's a bit darker than some holiday novels.

What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?
Wow, I've already gone on way too long. Hopefully by now you're ready to read! It'll be available on Amazon.com soon – sometime between Thanksgiving and Dec. 1. You can sign up and follow my blog for more details, or sign up for my e-mail alert list by sending an e-mail to johnpeterswriter@yahoo.com Put “reader alert” in the subject line. I won't give out the address, or spam you – I'll just send out the occassional e-mail when I've got new work available.

Now it's my turn to get tagging. Carry on following the hop by checking out the authors below to find The Next Big Thing! (I'm supposed to have five writers, but it seems most of the ones I know have already been tagged, except for one writer who, ahem, seems to have misplaced his blog – if you'd like to be one, I can still add you!)

J. Heather Leigh
Stephen Mark Rainey
Michelle Garren Flye
A.J. Brown

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Do give-aways really work? But first, the BIG give-away is set for next autumn

It's been a couple of weeks since my last post. I've been hip-deep in election coverage in my regular job, and I've been writing and editing fiction quite a bit as well.

The big non-writing news in my household is that my oldest daughter (who just turned 21) is now engaged. She and the young man have been friends since their early teen years, and have been officially dating for five years. He asked me for permission and the whole nine yards, and overall we're all really happy. I wish they would wait until my daughter is finished with school – she'll have another year left at the time – but otherwise I think they're going to do just fine. They have tentatively set a September wedding date.

And now for the writing news.

Well, actually, I don't have much. A few things in the works, but nothing to announce just yet. I know a few of you have been curious about how my Nine Weeks of Halloween Horror series went, so I’ll address that today.

A brief recap – starting on Sept. 2, and every Sunday afterward until Oct. 28, I released a horror short story at Amazon.com. I went into the plan viewing it as an experiment, and overall I'm pleased.

I had a decent amount of sales in September, but they really picked up in October, when about three-quarters of the sales took place. Of course, that's what you would expect for a couple of reasons – first, it's October, when people really start to think Halloween and horror; and second, with each passing week another story was added, giving more variety of available titles.

Most of all, though, I believe joining Amazon's Select program helped with the short stories. For those of you who don't know about that program, it's one in which you agree to list your story on Amazon exclusively for 90 days – that means no Kobo, no Smashwords, no Nook – only on Amazon. In exchange for that exclusivity you get two things. First, Amazon Prime members can borrow your work for free (they have a limited number of monthly borrows they can use as Prime members). You get royalties for each borrow, and since my Halloween Horror shorts were only priced at 99 cents, I actually earned more from a borrow than from a sell.

Second, you can have up to five days to give away your book/story for free during the 90-day agreement period. The idea behind a give-away is twofold. First, if you story gets high enough on the Amazon ranking system, hopefully it attracts more attention even after your free give-away is done. And second, the idea is that a lot of folks will download your story, like it so much they seek out – and buy – additional work you have.

Does any of that really work? Some writers will tell you it's been a major factor in some big-time success, while others will say it's a pointless exercise. For me, it definitely bumped up sales.

I did a two-day give-away for my story The Dark Secret of Warren House. I like Warren House, but going into the Nine Weeks campaign if you had asked me which one of the stories I like best, I would have said first would be A Mother’s Love, second would be The Journal, and third was probably Patron Saint. The Dark Secret of Warren House would have been next.

Readers definitely took more of a liking to Warren House. Before I did the free give-away promotion, it was already the best seller of my Nine Weeks stories, and during the give-away it shot all the way to No. 2 on the Amazon horror list, passing work by a few well-known authors that were on free give-away promotions that weekend. It even got some downloads in the UK and Germany.

Curiously, I didn’t see a single sale of any of my works that weekend, nor did I sell anything the day after the promotion ended. At this point I was wondering if the freebie idea had killed my sales rather than helped.

Then sales picked up again, in a pretty big way. I’m not giving raw numbers here, but over the following four days more than a third of the total Nine Weeks sales took place, with Warren House leading the way. Even as October ended and we drifted into November, I continue to pick up a few sales of Warren House – that single work accounted for nearly half of all my Nine Weeks sales.

We’re well into November now, and sales for horror have slowed to a crawl. I still have a few plans for my Nine Weeks stories, but the Nine Weeks experiment is largely over, and as I said earlier, I’m pleased, both with the overall numbers as well as my first foray into experimenting with free promotions as a way to drive traffic to my work. At least in my limited experience, it definitely works.

John Peters is the author of the paranormal romantic suspense novel Claiming Moon, as well as the Nine Weeks of Halloween Horror series of short stories, which can be found here.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Rocketing to the top of the genre, and a new release!

I haven’t done a lot of blogging lately – really busy with writing, work, and the family. But I wanted to check in today and give an update on my series Nine Weeks of Halloween Horror.

First, for the rest of today (Sunday, Oct. 21 – until roughly midnight Pacific time), you can download my story, The Dark Secret of Warren House, absolutely free at Amazon.com. Amazon has a program called KDP Select, and writers who enroll their work in that program for 90 days have the opportunity to offer the work for free, up to 5 days during the 90-day period, as a promotional tool. (The down side to KDP Select is that you can’t sell your e-book through any other provider, such as Barnes and Noble or Kobo, during the 90 days).

The idea behind giving the work away for free is to hopefully attract new readers who enjoy your freebie so much they seek out other work you’ve written. Some of the more successful Amazon authors also tell me they sometimes see a bump in sales for the freebie after the work comes off of free promotional status.

I have had Warren House on free promo for Oct. 20 and Oct. 21, and it has skyrocketed to #2 among freebies in the horror genre (#324 overall among ALL freebies in any genre). The story has even climbed ahead of work by uber-indie writer (and now Big 6 author) Amanda Hocking, horror luminary Kealan Patrick Burke, well-known horror writer Christopher Fulbright.

The trick, of course, will be turning this into paid sales for Warren House and my other works after the free promo ends today. Again, chatting with more successful authors, this was once a given in the world of Amazon publishing, but because of changes in how Amazon does business and ranks work, some writers tell me once the free promotion ends, few, if any sales, take place. Others say it still gives a nice little bump for a few days.

I suppose I’ll see this week – as I said way back when I first published my novel Claiming Moon at the start of August, this is all one grand experiment for me.

The second bit of news, and I hope this doesn’t get swallowed up in all the talk of the promotion work, is that my eighth work in the series, A Mother’s Love, is now available for purchase at Amazon, for just 99 cents.

As I’ve published this series, I’ve said many times I think there will be something for everyone in these tales I’m publishing – zombies, a unique look at werewolves, a haunted house, and some dark humor. I’ve also said if a person was only going to purchase two or three of the series, I had definite suggestions along those lines.

A Mother’s Love is one of those (Patron Saint and The Journal were my other picks, although readers seem to have taken a liking to Warren House even before the freebie). A Mother’s Love has what I call the wicked factor. Not necessarily scary, as I think some of the tales are, but I think A Mother’s Love is one that will hit you in the gut, and stay with you a long while after you’re done reading.

So take a look at A Mother’s Love. It’s just 99 cents.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Halloween, horror, and religious fervor

This is week seven of my Nine Weeks of Halloween Horror, and my story, ANYTHING FOR THE CAUSE, is now available for download to your Kindle.

This is the eighth story I’ve released in the series (just so you know my math isn’t all wonky, one week I included two stories), but it’s the first one that does not deal with any supernatural horror. It’s also the one that’s most likely to get me in trouble.

Maybe trouble is a little too strong – no one’s going to burn down my house or toss firebombs at my car over it, but I know some people are going to be a little miffed over the subject matter. ANYTHING FOR THE CAUSE is a story about young love, a visit to a Halloween haunted house, and what happens when religious fervor is perverted by those who stoke the flames of fanaticism.

No ghosts. No vampires. No werewolves or zombies. Just a theologian and a few young people too easily swayed.

And that’s about all I can say without spoiling the story. ANYTHING FOR THE CAUSE is, at its core, just a spooky story meant to entertain. If it makes readers think a little bit, so much the better.

ANYTHING FOR THE CAUSE is available for download to your Kindle for just 99 cents. If you don’t have a Kindle you can download a free Kindle reading application for your PC, Mac, or mobile device right here.

Monday, October 1, 2012

A few Hitchcockian frights

If the cooler weather, shorter days and leaves turning color weren't enough of a hint that we've finally arrived at October, surely the television commercials tell you what time of year it is.

All weekend I've seen TV spots for horror movies, horror weekend marathons, scary stories, and the like. Most look kinda silly to me, although there are a few films I'd like to see, a few shows I'll probably catch on AMC or TBS or some other cable network playing them all month long. That's a bit easier in my household now, with four of my five kids at age 16 or older. For years and years I basically missed all things broadcast horror for fear of scaring the little ones.

Now those little ones are nearing adulthood (or in two cases already there, at least legally), and we catch a few such movies from time to time. My oldest, a 20-year-old daughter, has become quite the horror fan, even writing a few short stories in the genre.

If you've been reading my blog you know I've been ahead of the curve on this seasonal fright-fest idea, beginning a series called Nine Weeks of Halloween Horror way back on Sept. 2. Every Sunday since then I've been releasing a new horror short at Amazon.com, a practice I'll continue until Oct. 28, the final Sunday of this month.

The stories have done fairly well in terms of finding an audience, with sales increasing week to week. I've also gotten a bit of reader feedback – one official review at Amazon.com, and a few others who have dropped me e-mails. For a writer, knowing people are reading your work, are enjoying it and taking their time to comment, well, there's little that can compare with that.

This week I'm releasing two stories together for a single price of 99 cents. The first is called THE CHOSEN, and the only thing I'll tell you is that the tale contained in those pages are every parent's worst nightmare.

What a couple of readers have said about it are: “This story has a Poe-like quality,” “Splendid piece of horror,” and my personal favorite: “It's not often that a writer channels Hitchcock to where I can believe it has truly happened. My hat's off to you.”

I have to say, I was thrilled, and a bit overwhelmed, at that last one.

My second tale, included with THE CHOSEN in this week's release, is a piece called THE HEARSE. It's most definitely a horror story, but it's my attempt at adding a little bit of dark humor to my work.

Here's what a reader had to say about THE HEARSE: “A couple of years ago I was stranded in Denver for half a day and I stopped in a bookstore that had a huge rack of pulpy-looking old paperbacks...I thumbed through the bunch of them and found a real gem. It's called “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” and it's basically a collection of short stories that he wanted to do on the show but which the producers deemed 'too scary,' ...your story reminds me of this book. It is truly Hitchcokian, and the tension in the story builds very deliberately throughout.”

Wow, okay, that's two readers, looking at two different stories, who have compared my writing to Hitchcock. I think I'm very close to writer heaven at present. What might nudge me a little closer is to see you buy THE CHOSEN (which includes THE HEARSE in the same file) today. The two stories together are just 99 cents, and available for download to your Kindle. If you don't have a Kindle, you can get a free Kindle reading app right here.

If you like creepy, I believe you'll enjoy both of these tales.

Nine Weeks of Halloween Horror stories from weeks 1 through 4 are still avaiable for 99 cents each. SUMMER'S END, THE JOURNAL, PATRON SAINT, and THE DARK SECRET OF WARREN HOUSE.

Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Finally - Dark Secret of Warren Home available for your reading chills

I’m nearly two days late (and always a dollar short) with this posting, but THE DARK SECRET OF WARREN HOUSE, the fourth story in my Nine Weeks of Halloween Horror series, is now live at Amazon.com.

Here’s the little book blurb I’ve posted at Amazon: Kevin Franks has been fascinated – no, obsessed – with a large vacant home at the edge of Warrentown ever since moving to the small North Carolina town. Everyone has a different story about the structure, but two things he learns is that Warren House is ancient, perhaps the earliest structure built in the 300-year-old town, and the townspeople believe it is the center of their existence.

Kevin is thrilled when he is invited to attend a Yuletide Gathering at the home and has a chance, hopefully, to get some answers about the house and why it is so important to the folks who live in Warrentown. He also has a fantasy come true when librarian Marcia Jones reciprocates a long-simmering flame he’s carried for her. Together, they learn an awful, ancient secret about Warren House, and that knowledge may carry an eternal price.

Warren House is a thrilling tale of dark secrets and ancient evil. It is the fourth story in the Nine Weeks of Halloween Horror series.

And here’s what a few readers have said about WARREN HOUSE: "Very cool haunted house story…is Shirley Jackson meets Lovecraft…very entertaining read."

"Plays out like a Twilight Zone episode."

"This felt a lot like a gothic ghost story. It would have been good if it was just a ghost story. But the introduction of something else living in the house was a nice twist that made the story truly original."

Of course, the first three stories in the series, SUMMER’S END, PATRON SAINT, and THE JOURNAL, are all still live, and each of the stories is available for 99 cents.

A few readers have been downloading the stories, and that traffic seems to have picked up over the past week or so. One even wrote me to say how much he enjoyed THE JOURNAL, and another left a 4-star review in which he called parts of THE JOURNAL sadistic—but in a good way, of course.

If you haven’t downloaded any of the stories yet, now that the weather is turning cool and autumn is here, this would be a perfect day, or evening, for a creepy read. And while I like all of the stories, if I had to offer you just one or two, I’d suggest downloading either THE JOURNAL or PATRON SAINT. Of course, any of them will give you more than a few chills.

John Peters is author of the murder mystery romance novel CLAIMING MOON, available now for download to your Kindle. Don’t have a Kindle? No sweat – you can download a free Kindle reading app right here.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

One story I hope you don't miss

Have you ever read a story and at the end you just said “Wow, that was something.”

For those of you who are writers, have you had the same experience after finishing one of your tales?

Today marks the release of my story PATRON SAINT, the third in my series Nine Weeks of Halloween Horror. As a writer, every once in a while I sit back and think Did I write that? Last week’s tale, THE JOURNAL, was one of those, although with time that feeling has faded a bit. PATRON SAINT is another one, although I have to say this tale excites me, as a writer, more today than when I first wrote it. That’s pretty rare.

What do readers think? Well, I’ll give you a few comments from those who have read PATRON SAINT:

“The only bad thing that I can say about this story is that it made my teeth tremble and I would want to give a health warning to any reader before they read this.”

“Teeth – yikes. I was hooked by this story. I was really hoping for there to be a great twist at the end. And I wasn’t disappointed.”

“Great stuff, got me hooked from the start and never let go. I didn’t see the twist and it was so good it made me smile even though it was horrific.”

Clearly, PATRON SAINT touched a chord with a few readers, and I think it can with you, too, if you like scary stories with a twist.

PATRON SAINT is just 99 cents, and is available for download to your Kindle. If you don’t own a Kindle, you can get a FREE Kindle reading app for your PC, Mac, or mobile device right here.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Cool weather, shorter days, and some scary stories

Ah, it’s finally here. The cool weather – our high yesterday was 72, 74 today, and last night the temperature dropped to a very autumn-like 52 – making it feel as if fall has officially arrived, even if the calendar says we have a few days of summer.

Yesterday while doing a bit of grocery shopping I even saw a big Halloween display, complete with life-size skeleton in one chair, and a skull that’s twice the size of Herman Munster’s head in another spot. There’s a field near my house, one I pass every day on my way to and from work, and it’s now dotted with hundreds – maybe thousands – of pumpkins nearing harvest time.

Yep, summer’s over and autumn is upon us, and it’s now really feeling like time for a few scary stories. I’m a day late posting this, but THE JOURNAL, my second release in the NINE WEEKS OF HALLOWEEN series, is now live and ready for you to download at Amazon.com.

I’m sure writers can identify with this next statement, heck, I suppose everyone can to some degree. I’d like to think that everything I write – the short stories, the novels, the novellas – are all great, a figurative home run if I may slip into baseball terminology for a few minutes.

The truth, for me and probably most folks who write for a living, is that sometimes I’m a little more on my game than others. A few of my stories, going back to the baseball descriptions, might be considered strike-outs, and those I generally discard and no one ever sees them. I probably put a lot of singles and doubles out there – and there’s not a thing wrong with those, because there have been quite a few baseball players over the years who have made a Hall of Fame career out of these.

Every once in a while, though, I know I’ve hit a home run. Back when I played baseball and softball, generally I could tell when I hit the ball if that thing was going to clear the fence. It’s just a feel you have, when the sweet spot on the bat hits the ball at the perfect place in your swing.

I’ve had a few stories like that, and this week’s release, THE JOURNAL, is one. If it’s not a homer, it’s at least bouncing off the top of the wall for a triple.

I’ve got a couple more such stories coming out over the NINE WEEKS OF HALLOWEEN, and I hope you download and enjoy them all. But, if you’re only going to get three or four of my stories, this one needs to be one of those.

If you haven’t already, you can pick up last week’s story, SUMMER’S END, which is an appropriate title given we really are at the end of summer. Only thing for the folks in SUMMER’S END, that’s not all that is coming to a close.

And if you haven’t yet purchased it, check out my novel, CLAIMING MOON. It’s got a serial killer unlike any other, a fair amount of romance, and in the end a bit of supernatural horror.

That ought to stock up your reading needs for the next few days. Drop me a line to tell me what think.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Free fiction for you, a little favor for me

I have an offer for you. Well, for some of you, anyway. And I’d like to ask a favor, too.

I know from various discussion boards, writer’s groups, Twitter and Facebook that quite a few of you reading this are big-time fans of horror fiction. And I’m going to give a few of you some free horror fiction, a couple of stories that are part of my NINE WEEKS OF HALLOWEEN series.

Over the years I’ve written a fair bit of fiction – mostly horror, some romance and erotica, even some children’s work and a couple of inspirational/religious pieces. My biggest problem has been I just haven’t followed through with a lot submissions to various markets.

Oh, I’ve had some nice publications for my work – a couple of pieces in the Stoker-nominated Horror Library anthology series, work published in Dark Recesses, the Australian magazine Midnight Echo, the United Kingdom publisher Spinetinglers, and a number of anthologies and websites.

But, overall, I’ve mostly written and put it aside. While I have had some folks who read my fiction contact me, a couple even wanted to interview me for blogs and reviews, I guess you could say I haven’t been consistent enough to build a big following.

So I’m going to give some of you free horror fiction, some of my better work. And I all ask in return is if you like my work, let others know. Tweet about it, post it on Facebook when I publish the stories, maybe even ask others to buy it.

That’s it. I’ll give you some of what I think is pretty decent work, you read at your leisure, and if you don’t care for it, just throw it away and no biggie. If you do like it, I ask only that you help spread the word a bit, let others know and hopefully they’ll have a chance to enjoy it as well.

That’s it.

My next story in NINE WEEKS OF HALLOWEEN HORROR is a little tale called THE JOURNAL. You know, if you’re a writer, sometimes you get the feeling a piece you’re working on is going to be a home run? Or at least a triple slammed off the outfield wall? Well, that was the feeling I had when I wrote this one. A few folks who read it felt the same – these are some of the comments I received: “Well written and original, if somewhat twisted,” “What a creepy tale. Poe? Better or at least as good as King. I hadn’t planned to read it today, but it grabbed me and wouldn’t let go. This is one hell of a story!”

This one will be officially released on Amazon on Sunday, Sept. 9, selling for 99 cents. The first 12 people who contact me at johnpeterswriter@yahoo.com, or by message on FB (look me up by my yahoo email) or direct message on Twitter (@johnpsterswrite) with the words FREE FICTION in the subject line will get a copy sent to them absolutely free. Just read it and, if you enjoy, spread the word, encourage others to go to Amazon and download the story.

On Sept. 16 I’ll release another story entitled PATRON SAINT. Again, this is one of those that really excited me when I put it together, and others have had the same reaction. Here are a few comments I’ve gotten: “The only bad thing that I can say about this story is that it made my teeth tremble and I would want to give a health warning to any reader before they read this.” “Teeth – yikes. I was hooked by this story.” “Great stuff, got me hooked from the start and never let go.”

The second dozen people who send me an e-mail with the words FREE FICTION in the subject line will get this story sent to them, absolutely free. Again, all I ask is that you read it and, if you enjoy, spread the word, ask others to check it out.

Remember, just e-mail me at johnpeterswriter@yahoo.com with the phrase FREE FICTION in the subject line. Who knows, I may even have a surprise bonus down the line a bit for those who take me up on this offer.

And if you really like my work, there’s plenty more to check out. The first story in my NINE WEEKS OF HALLOWEEN HORROR is a wicked little zombie tale called SUMMER’S END. Additional stories will be available each Sunday through Oct. 28.

And my debut novel, CLAIMING MOON, is a romance/thriller with a healthy dose of horror thrown in for just $2.99.

But first, the free fiction. Go ahead and send your e-mail, I’m ready to send you one of my stories absolutely free.





Sunday, September 2, 2012

As summer ends, zombies come out to play

I don’t know about you, but where I live it’s feeling like mid-summer again. Two days ago we hit 90 degrees, and yesterday we were at 88. After a couple of weeks where we’ve been about 10 degrees cooler, these temps have been a little on the uncomfortable side.

No matter what it feels like, though, we’re in September now, the last days of summer. I pass a couple of large open-air produce markets on my daily work commute, and Friday I got my first glimpsed of big orange pumpkins for sale – which was an odd sight given that they were next to bins of fresh watermelons and cantaloupes.

Nevertheless, autumn is near, and it’s time to start thinking about cool nights, hot apple cider, and Halloween. More specifically, Halloween horror stories.

Starting today I’m launching my series NINE WEEKS OF HALLOWEEN HORROR.

Every Sunday between now and Oct. 28, one of my scary little stories will be posted at Amazon.com, available for download to your Kindle for just 99 cents. If you don’t have a Kindle, fear not (there’s plenty to fear in the stories), you can download a free Kindle application for your PC, Mac, or mobile device.

Enough with the tech stuff. For a full list of stories I’ll be releasing, please see my Aug. 26 blog entry.

Today’s story, SUMMER’S END, is a nice little … well, let me show you what a couple of readers have already said:

“This is a great zombie tale. The narrator with her slow evolution from innocent to survivor finally to heartless killer was extremely well done.”

“I'll get straight to the point -- I loved this. This is a great zombie tale.”

“You have a nice subtle way about horror and a visual style that makes a person who generally steers very clear of the genre, like myself, be able to read to the end and enjoy the tale.”

Now, it’s time for you to see for yourself. Purchase SUMMER’S END for just 99 cents, and then sit back, relax, and have a read.

John Peters’ debut novel, CLAIMING MOON, is just $2.99 and is available for purchase and download to your Kindle at Amazon.com.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Five (mostly) indie authors I'd like you to know

The indie author movement is an exciting time not only for authors, but readers. Just three or four years ago we were still trapped in that small world of publishing where just a few folks decided what writing was “marketable” and what readers should be able to get their hands on.

Yes, there have always been self-published authors, but until electronic publishing came along those folks had to spend a pretty penny to get their work out. Today, it’s a different universe.

As a writer I find that thrilling. I’ve had a good number of my short stories published through traditional means in some quality magazines, anthologies, and webzines. I feel I was pretty close, on a few occasions, to getting an agent for three of my novels (which is no guarantee of being published, but that puts you on the short list of consideration).

But now, with Amazon’s Kindle, B&N’s Nook, and other e-readers and publishing software, publishing is literally just a few button pushes away (Okay, that’s a simplification – formatting, cover designs and such make it a more involved process, but you get the idea).

More importantly, for readers this indie author movement has really opened up the world. Just on Amazon there are somewhere in the neighborhood of a million titles ready for download. Yep, I said a MILLION, and if you have a Kindle, you can download those for a fraction of what a printed book will cost – some are even free. Heck, if you download a free Kindle reading app for your computer (or mobile device), it’s conceivable you could be reading novel after novel for just a few cents each.

With that wide-open world, though, can come a little confusion. With a million titles from which to choose, how do you know what to try, what to pass on?

Well, I want to help you with that, and in turn ask you to help me out a little.

My help to you is introducing you to five authors.

First there’s AJ Brown, known by some as Jeff, known by most everyone as the most prolific writer in North America – for a fuller take on AJ’s productivity, I interviewed him back in January, and you can check that out right here.

AJ is putting together a short story collection at present, and I hope he publishes it soon, because I am anxious to read his work. AJ is painstaking in making his choices for the collection, and equally fastidious in editing and revising his work for final presentation. Many of his tales are downright creepy, which is what he’s usually going for.

You don’t have to wait, though, to read some of AJ’s work. He has another collection called ALONG THE SPLINTERED PATH that’s been out since the first of the year, and hopefully you’ve already gotten it. If not, you need to download this collection now (just click on the link). See, AJ doesn’t simply write horror stories. He creates a world in which you feel for the character, a creepy world that can draw you in and, if you’re not careful, keep you there for a while.

The second writer I want to mention today is Will Hahn, who writes fantasy. Again, a heck of a nice guy even though in this picture – particularly with that wall in the background – he looks as if he could go medieval on your hinny at any moment. The first thing I’ll tell you about fantasy is that I don’t generally read much of it. Most of the time I get lost in the descriptions of some other world, with technology and culture and customs that take waaaay too much time to wade through.

Every once in a great while, though, I come across a fantasy writer whose work draws me in, makes me want to learn a little more about what’s going on, to figure out what the characters are doing, and why. In other words, every once in a while I find a fantasy writer who does a really nice job with the writing and story-telling.

Will is one of those writers. If you have any inkling of appreciation for fantasy, check out his work (particularly THREE MINUTES TO MIDNIGHT, although I don’t think you’d go wrong with any of them).

A third writer I’d encourage you to check out is Michelle Garren Flye. I met Michelle a few years back in an online horror writer’s group, and while she still dabbles in the occasional scary story, she’s doing a lot with romance these days.

In addition to self-publishing one title, she’s had two picked up by Lyrical Press and most recently another novel, WHERE THE HEART LIES, published by Carina Press, an e-book imprint of Harlequin. Her writing is really nice and I think brings a little more than the typical romance tropes to the page (or e-reader). She knows how to write and how to tell a story.

Fourth, let me introduce you guys to J. Heather Leigh. I really don’t know her very well, having just met here on Twitter a few weeks ago. But here’s what I do know – she writes in an arena of some tough subjects that so many, many people face in real life.

I was raised in a fairly conservative home, with parents who had strict and solid Christian beliefs. Out-of-wedlock pregnancy, a cheating spouse, divorce – those were issues facing many, but still not talked about openly, and certainly not written about in works of fiction, among those of us who were church-going people.

Times have changed, but in some parts of the religious world those issues still are sometimes avoided. That’s why I like Heather's work. She does address those, in ways that are not preachy, and she does it with a nice story-telling flair.

Finally, I want to mention Lucas Pederson (hey, I started this list with a horror guy, gotta end with one, too). I met Lucas in the same horror-writing workshop where I met AJ and Michelle, and while I don’t really know him as well, I do know he’s been working on his writing for years, and he’s sharpened his ability to tell riveting, interesting stories.

He’s also recently begun traveling down the indie publishing trail with the release of two shorts -- THE FOLLOWERS and BUCKLE ROAD. I like Lucas’s work, but I have to confess to a little envy at present. In a good way of course. He’s got two stories out there, people are buying and reading them, and from the ever-elusive reviews we all seek (and Lucas is getting) they are enjoying this work. I'm entitled to be a littel envious of that, I think.

Seriously, though I’m happy for Lucas, and for the others I’ve mentioned here. Whether you’re into fantasy, horror, romance, or some real-world inspirational stories, these folks have something for you.

And now that I’ve helped you a bit in finding your way in this million-book world of e-readers, I'm going to ask you for a favor. Tell as many people as you can about this blog, about these five authors. If you're on Twitter, tweet about my blog today with a link. If you're on Facebook, post there with a link. Not so I can get a lot of hits, but because I'd like to see these five folks selling a truckload of their work, and this is one way we can all help them.

So what do you say? Go get a few of their works, then tell everyone you know about them.

Thanks.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Line-up announced for Nine Weeks of Halloween Horror

The calendar keeps moving right along, and that means we’re just two weeks away from the launch of my series NINE WEEKS OF HALLOWEEN HORROR.

For those of you who missed my last post (if you really want to check it out, it’s just below this one – scroll on down) I’ll be releasing a series of creepy little tales each Sunday from Sept. 2 until Oct. 28 in celebration of Halloween. The stories will be available at Amazon.com for download to your Kindle (and if you don’t have a Kindle, you can get a FREE Kindle reading app for you PC, Mac, or mobile device right here).

Now, as promised, the list of stories coming up in NINE WEEKS OF HALLOWEEN HORROR. I’ve included a few comments from folks who have seen the first four tales. To keep the blog from going on too long, I’ll hold back on reader comments on the final tales for a few weeks.

SUMMER’S END (Coming Sept. 2). I’m not going to tell you much about this, other than to say sometimes monsters come in all shapes. What a couple of folks have said about SUMMER’S END: “I'll get straight to the point -- I loved this … this is a great … tale.” “…reminiscent of The Cask of the Amontillado…”

THE JOURNAL (Coming Sept. 9). Ever wonder if we have any real control over our lives, or if it’s already written and we merely follow along? What a few readers have said: “Well written and original, if somewhat twisted…” “What a creepy tale. Poe? Better or at least as good as King.” “I hadn’t planned to read it today, but it grabbed me and wouldn’t let go.” “This is one hell of a story!”

PATRON SAINT (Coming Sept. 16). A killer with a dark obsession, a victim with a darker secret. Readers’ take: “The only bad thing that I can say about this story is that it made my teeth tremble and I would want to give a health warning to any reader before they read this.” “Teeth – yikes. I was hooked by this story.” “Great stuff, got me hooked from the start and never let go.”

WARREN HOUSE (Coming Sept. 23). An ancient home holds an unshakable power over a town, and a couple of newcomers find there is more than Southern hospitality behind the welcome they receive. Readers’ say: “Very cool haunted house story…Shirley Jackson meets Lovecraft…very entertaining read.” “Plays out like a Twilight Zone episode.” “Good, old-fashioned story-telling.”

THE CHOSEN, RETURN OF THE MESSIAH, and THE HEARSE (Coming Sept. 30). That’s right, folks, three tales this week. Because they’re all on the short side, I want to make sure you have enough to keep you reading for a while.

THE CHOSEN: What is a parent’s greatest fear? RETURN OF THE MESSIAH: The New Testament and the Mayan Empire both had it right. THE HEARSE: Didn’t see that one coming, did you?

WITCH HOUSE (Coming Oct. 7). A bit of friendly hazing for freshmen on the high school football team turns tragic. Sometimes the horror is of our own making.

ANYTHING FOR THE CAUSE (Coming Oct. 14). With eternity on the line, how far will a few religious zealots go for their cause?

FOR WANT OF A GHOST (Coming Oct. 21). When a magazine editor promises to find local ghost stories for a Halloween issue, he soon uncovers more than he bargained for.

A MOTHER’S LOVE (Coming Oct 28). How far will a mother go to save her child?

I hope you find a few – maybe even all – of those stories intriguing. Halloween is my favorite time of year in many ways, and horror was really my first love when I began writing. I’m excited about publishing these stories, and if you like horror (who doesn’t at this time of year?) I think you’re going to enjoy them.

Until then, check out my debut novel CLAIMING MOON. It’s available for download at Amazon.com. If you don’t have a Kindle, that’s okay. You can get a free Kindle app that lets you read any Kindle story on your PC, Mac, or mobile device right here.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Mid-August portends Halloween Horror?

Beware the ides of August.

Okay, that doesn’t quite have the ring of Shakespeare’s Ides of March, but we are at the mid-point of August. Around where I live the weather’s already begun changing a bit – it’s still hot during the days, but the heat isn’t as oppressive and the nights are cool enough to turn off the AC and open the windows.

Soon, the lazy warmth of August will give way to September, with the first fall-like days on tap, and then we’ll have the cooler, crisper days of October. Before we know it, the ridges and mountains around where I live will erupt in vibrant reds and yellows and oranges, then the leaves will fade and the streets will fill with little ones – and maybe a few big ones – dressed as ghosts and goblins, demons and Mitt Romneys.

While my writing of late has centered more around murder and suspense, romance tinged with a bit of eroticism, I was born into the literary world as a horror writer, learning much of my craft while writing about bad things that often are not of this world.

Well, that’s not entirely true. What I strove for was to tell what I hoped were compelling stories, with ever-improving writing, with horror as the backdrop in which the story exists. In other words, I didn’t write “go boo” stuff for the sake of being scary. I wanted to write good, strong stories that took place within a world where things weren’t exactly as they should be.

I think that training helped me learn to create life-like characters, with situations built around human drama, rather than relying on the clich├ęs and tropes of a given genre.

Despite having moved away from horror in much of my writing, this time of year I begin to think about autumn and cool breezy nights and scary stories.

And I still have the urge to write horror. Which brings me to what I think is an exciting announcement.

Nine of my horror tales will be published in a weekly series called NINE WEEKS OF HALLOWEEN HORROR. Beginning on Sunday, Sept. 2, and for the next eight Sundays afterward, one of my horror stories will be published on Amazon.com and available for download to your Kindle.

So get ready for a few chills and thrills – cannibalism, a killer with an obsessive compulsion (and a victim with a dark secret), an ancient home in search of new blood, a small town that strangely is devoid of any ghost stories, some religious zealots who’ve lost perspective – all of that and more will be available in my series NINE WEEKS OF HALLOWEEN HORROR.

More information coming, including a full list of stories and maybe a couple of sample covers, this Sunday, Aug. 19.

See you then.

John Peters is the author of the paranormal romantic thriller CLAIMING MOON, available for download to your Kindle now. Don’t have a Kindle? Get a free Kindle app for your PC, Mac, or mobile device right here.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Readers speak on CLAIMING MOON: now part of Amazon Prime

Less than two weeks ago my debut novel CLAIMING MOON was released in Kindle format, and as I blogged in the days leading up to that release, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’m still not certain. Thus far sales have been decent – I’m not setting the world on fire, but copies are selling.

What’s really exciting is feedback I’ve gotten from a few readers – some still working their way through the novel, while a few have finished. I thought I’d share some of their comments:

“Good story, very smooth, good writing. I’m enjoying the read…”

“I’m enjoying this story. You’ve created a great dynamic between Frank and Cassandra…”

“So it’s a mystery in a mystery…this rocks!”

“…great writing style…your book stands out.”

“…an awesome book.”

“You have really pulled me in with the mystery about Frank’s past. I’m anxious to know what his big secret is. You’ve definitely got my attention here and I’m anxious to keep reading. Well done!”

What’s all the fuss about? See for yourself, click on the title CLAIMING MOON and get your own copy. Even better – if you’re a member of Amazon Prime, you can now download CLAIMING MOON for free! That’s right, CLAIMING MOON is now part of the Amazon Prime lending library and you can download it for a limited time to read for free.

Here’s a little blurb about CLAIMING MOON:

People are dying in Southwest Virginia, their bodies ripped open, a vital organ missing.

Clearwater Police Detective Frank Taliaferro has served in larger departments, advised the FBI, even worked international cases for The United Nations, but now he’s back where his career began, in the small town of Clearwater, Virginia. And he’s never seen anything like these killings.

Frank finds himself forced to participate in a charity bachelor auction as a public relations move for the police department.

Cassandra Kincaid, a rising star at the Daily Dispatch who has her sights set on moving to one of the larger dailies – New York, Washington, maybe Los Angeles – is forced into participating in the auction as a bidder so she can write a feature piece on the whole process.

Although she is none-too-fond of police, Cassandra ends up winning a date with Frank. Surprisingly, she finds the detective charming, definitely attractive, and enjoys their evening together until the date is interrupted by a gruesome murder.

That’s when things get complicated. The two find themselves drawn together in an uneasy yet passionate relationship while they both race to uncover what is behind a series of macabre murders.

Cassandra’s probing also uncovers a dark secret from Frank’s past, one that drives a wedge of mistrust between them, yet Cassandra finds she can’t get the detective out of her mind.

In the end her feelings for Frank may not matter because the two find themselves in a deadly face-off with the killer. Only then do they learn there is an ancient evil behind the grisly murders, but that discovery may be too late for either of them.

CLAIMING MOON is available now for Kindle. Don’t forget, if you’re a member of Amazon Prime, it’s free to download.

Don’t have a Kindle? No worries, you can download a FREE Kindle reading app for your PC, Mac, or mobile device right here.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Weekend warrior writing challenge results

Well, folks, just reporting on my weekend warrior writing challenge.

If you’ll recall from my last blog, posted Friday afternoon, I was challenging myself to put out 5,000 words on my novel in progress, while also mowing the lawn, making a few trips to the gym, and doing whatever odd jobs my wife had planned for me around the house. Not all at the same time, of course.

I didn’t quite make it.

First, the excuses. Friday night I arrived home only to find my youngest and one of her friends at the house, using the computer. They kept it busy until well into the evening – right around 11 o’clock, and I just didn’t feel up to starting any writing that late.

Then came Saturday morning, and instead of rising early and jumping on the writing, I had the rare occurrence of having a few extra bucks in my pocket, so I took my wife out to breakfast, then we ran a few errands, and…well, you get the idea. Between all of the unexpected stuff, the planned mowing and other chores…I did not reach 5,000.

I did manage slightly more than 3,000 words. Given the fact I had managed a total of 1,000 the entire week prior, I’ll take that. It’s not what I wanted, and by-and-large I have no one to blame for that but myself, but I’m back into the novel, writing, and I’m feeling pretty good about it. And I still managed to slip online a few times for a bit of posting/marketing about my recently published novel, CLAIMING MOON, available on Kindle for just $2.99.

It’s now late on Sunday, I’m readying myself for the week ahead, and part of that week includes 800 words a night, Monday through Friday. No excuses accepted.

And, lest you forget, let me remind you all ...

CLAIMING MOON is now available on Kindle, and soon will be on Nook and other mobile readers. If you don’t have a Kindle, you can download a free reading app for your PC, Mac, or other device here. And, while I don’t have any fancy, schmanshy contest to drive readers to buy my novel, I will send a Hershey Almond bar to anyone who downloads the story and offers a review on Amazon. In fact, I’ll send a LARGE such bar to the first three people who do (but you have to send me your mailing address!).

Friday, August 3, 2012

Weekend warrior -- mowing, exercising, and writing 5,000 words

Okay, I admit it. I published my first novel, CLAIMING MOON, on Kindle a few days ago and I’ve checked the sales reports for it about a million times. I’ve tweeted about it, posted on Facebook, let a few writer friends know, even sent out a couple of e-mail blasts to a list of folks supposedly (hopefully) interested in my writing.

In the midst of holding down my fulltime job, watching the Olympics, doing a few things around the house, and all of this “marketing,” guess how many words I’ve written on new work?

Zilch.

I was afraid this might happen. Other writers have told me it would. You, as a writer, get so caught up in the work you just published, in marketing and talking about it, in finding potential websites to do a review of your published novel, that you lose focus on what’s most important – continuing to write.

I’m going to remedy that right now.

I’m leaving work sometime between 7 p.m. and 7:15 p.m. I don’t work this weekend, so these are my plans, my to do list, what I have to accomplish between the time I leave today and when I return to work on Monday morning.

First, I have to mow the yard.

Second, I have a couple of trips to make to the gym – one tonight and another either Saturday or Sunday.

Third, whatever else it is my wife has on my list.

Fourth – write 5,000 words on my novel-in-progress.

Yep, that’s right – 5.000 words.

I got the inspiration to do this while perusing Brian Keene’s website. I came across a blog post from July in which he talks about writing 80,000 words in a weekend. A single, three-day weekend.

That’s astounding. Far beyond what I can manage at present.

I don’t have the advantages he had – I’ll not be alone, but instead surrounded by my wife, my five kids, boyfriends of the two oldest will no doubt be making a few appearances, maybe even friends of the younger ones will be running around the house.

Still, I’m going to do this.

I’ve written little over the past week. First, I was spending time formatting my novel for Kindle. Then I was spending my time fixing screw-ups in the formatting. Then I spent time telling everyone about it. All totaled, I’m guessing I actually wrote 1,000 words on my novel in progress.

For the whole week.

This is not how to make a career as a writer.

So, from the time I arrive at home tonight, somewhere between 7:30 and 8 o’clock, and the time I go to work Monday morning, I’m chasing down 5,000 words.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

It's here! My first novel, now available on Kindle

My debut novel, CLAIMING MOON, is now available at Amazon.com for download to Kindle.

Set in the mountains of Southwest Virginia, the tale follows two people – Clearwater Police Detective Frank Taliaferro and Clearwater Daily Dispatch reporter Cassandra Kincaid.

Frank, with more than 20 years of police experience, finds himself forced to participate in a charity bachelor auction as a public relations move for the police department. Cassandra, a rising star at the Daily Dispatch who has her sights set on moving to one of the larger dailies – New York, Washington, maybe Atlanta - just as soon as she can is forced into participating in the auction as a bidder so she can write a feature piece on the whole process.

Although she is none-too-fond of police, Cassandra ends up winning a date with Frank. She finds him a little more disarming than she anticipated, and enjoys their evening together until the date is interrupted by a gruesome murder. The death is the first in a series of strange killings that have their roots in an ancient cult still alive in the Virginia mountains, where some people continue to practice the religion brought to their land by their ancestors, generations ago.

Frank is determined to solve the crimes and bring the killers to justice, Cassandra is equally driven to uncover what is at play and why there seems to be a conspiracy to cover up the deaths. In the end they learn the deaths are the result of no ordinary killer, and both of them may be next on the list.

CLAIMING MOON is available now for download to your Kindle.

Don’t have a Kindle? No problem – you can get the FREE Kindle application for download to your PC, Mac, or many mobile devises right here.

Monday, July 30, 2012

You want me to do what?

Here it is, two days before the release of my debut novel, CLAIMING MOON, on Kindle (Nook, other formats to follow). I should be all wrapped up in preparing for that, nervous, thinking more about how to get the word out, continuing to find reviewers for the work, all that sort of stuff.

I am doing that, I really am. But you know what is foremost in my mind right now?

Basketball.

Any of you who know me know I coach, or I did coach, a girl’s high school varsity team up until March of this year. (For a little more on the end of that season, and why I coach, check out my blog from Feb. 29).

As much as I love coaching, I decided to give it up for two primary reasons. It is an all-consuming commitment. There’s practice planning, conducting practices, studying the strengths and weaknesses of your players, designing drills to address those, scouting other teams, watching video, preparing specific game plans for some games, travel to games…the list could go on. The team I coached played 35 to 36 games every year, traveling across three or four states to do so. We start practice in August and finish the season in March.

It’s great, but it’s long and takes, as I said, all my time outside of work.

My first reason for giving it up was simply to spend more time at home, with my family. I have five kids. Two of them are attending a local community college and will be transferring to four-year schools after this upcoming school year. This is my last chance to be at home with them (although, to be honest, they both work, they go to school, they have boyfriends – there still isn’t all that much family time at home with them).

The second reason was more time for writing. This summer I’ve edited and revised and prepared a novel for publication, I’ve collected a novella and some of my short stories for two upcoming collections to be released (some are original stories, some reprints), and I’m about a third of the way through a new novel.

None of that, most likely, would have happened if I were still involved with basketball.

So what’s the problem?

I opened my e-mail yesterday and there was a little note from a coaching buddy of mine. He started up a girls homeschool basketball program two years ago and, quite frankly, has done a remarkable job growing from a start-up to a fairly competitive program in just two seasons.

Now, the parents want to start a boys program, with a junior varsity team this year. He asked if I’d be interested in helping to get it up and running and to serve as the coach.

Wow.

I was just thinking a couple of days ago about how it’s nearly August, and how much I miss the preparation work I’m usually doing at this point for the first practices, but also how much I’m enjoying the freedom from that time commitment.

If you followed the link I supplied earlier in this blog, you know a little bit about my coaching. I coach because I love the game of basketball, and I’m far too old to try playing competitively. I coach because I get great satisfaction from working with kids, watching them struggle and work and then suddenly get it, master some skill, understand the offense, figure out how to play defense. It’s amazing to watch -- sometimes you can literally see their face light up with excitement.

That’s usually just the beginning. They grow more confident, on and off the court, become a stronger, more self-assured person. I’ve had a handful go on to play some college ball.

I enjoy the competitive aspect of coaching. The chess game, matching wits with another coach. The feeling after a close, hard-fought game (elation with a win, disappointment at a loss). I’m not above bragging a bit here – in three seasons we won 72 games, we went to two state title games, winning one and nearly pulling of a major upset in the other. There’s a camaraderie between coaches, between coaches and officials, coaches and players, that can’t be matched anywhere else.

All of those are reasons I so much enjoy coaching. And, honestly, miss it already.

Yet that is a chapter I had closed, at least for now. I had moved on. Or so I thought.

Anyway, I’m going to give it serious consideration. It is a junior varsity, after all. Not as much practice, not as many games, no late-night video sessions to scout the other teams, not quite as much time, right?

For now, maybe in writing this I’ve gotten basketball out of my mind for a few hours. Time to focus on writing.

If I can.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

CLAIMING MOON rises in three days


People are dying in Southwest Virginia, their bodies ripped open, each missing a vital organ.

Clearwater Police Detective Frank Taliaferro has served in larger departments, advised the FBI, even worked international cases for the United Nations, but now he’s back where his career began, in the small town of Clearwater, Virginia. And he’s never seen anything like these killings.

Nor has he met anyone like Cassandra Kincaid.

When Frank is forced into a charity bachelor auction as a prospective date, he meets Cassandra, a reporter for the Clearwater Daily Dispatch assigned to participate in the auction as a bidder and report her experience.

That's when things get complicated. The first murder occurs while Frank and Cassandra are on their date, and the two soon find themselves drawn together in an uneasy yet passionate relationship, while they both race to uncover what is behind the macabre murders. Working independently of one another, each discovers an awful truth – the deaths are revenge killings, and someone, or something, is still on the loose, looking for more victims.

Cassandra’s probing also uncovers a dark secret from Frank’s past, one that drives a wedge of mistrust between them, yet Cassandra finds she can’t get the detective out of her mind.

In the end her feelings for Frank may not matter because the two find themselves in a deadly face-off with an ancient cult deep in the mountains of Southwest Virginia. Only then do they learn the truth behind the grisly murders, but that discovery may be too late for either of them.

CLAIMING MOON will be available on Kindle Aug. 1, Nook and other formats to follow. More details soon!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Seven days and counting to the release of CLAIMING MOON

Today puts me one week away from when my paranormal thriller novel, CLAIMING MOON, will be released as an e-book on Kindle. Other formats will follow, but Kindle will be its first trip out into the world.

I have to confess to being nervous. Venturing into the world of e-publishing is a new experience for me. I’m not breaking any ground, plenty of other writers have done this, but for me it’s all new, and in essence one grand experiment.

I’m not sure what my expectations are. In a way I don’t really have any. This being a new venture for me, I haven’t the foggiest notion of what to expect, what would be a good and successful run and what would be disappointing.

I suppose if I’m sitting here a year from now with maybe a dozen sales I’ll be terribly disappointed. If I have a thousand sales I believe I’ll be beyond ecstatic. A couple of hundred sales would make me pretty happy, I think. So there, I guess between a dozen and a couple of hundred sales is the difference between happy and disappointed.

Even then, is this all about sales? If the writing (already done) and the publishing/marketing teach me something, either about this business or about myself, doesn’t that count for something?

Lots of questions, huh? That’s just a sample of what all’s going through my head right now, not to mention all the work I still have to get done before a week from today (formatting for e-publishing is taking forever).

But for now, I just wanted to remind everyone CLAIMING MOON will be available on Kindle one week from today (and if you don’t have a Kindle, fear not – there is a free app you can download for a PC, Mac, or a number of different devices – click right here to get yours!)

Looking down the road a bit, my novella PROTECT THE INNOCENT will be available Sept. 1 in the collection PROTECT THE INNOCENT AND OTHER TALES, and on Oct. 1 – just in time for Halloween – will be a collection of my stories in SOME KIND OF MONSTER.

But for now, I’m getting set for the release of CLAIMING MOON. I hope you are too.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Sleeping with skunks, dancing with yellow jackets

That title line could easily be the description of the mini-camping trip we took over the past several days. It was a quickie to a state park here in the mountains of Virginia. With so many of my family now working (my three oldest all have jobs), it’s hard to find time for a family get-away. But we managed, arriving at the camp early Sunday and leaving mid-day on Tuesday.

It was pretty standard fare as far as a state park goes – cookie-cutter camp sites for pitching tents and grilling, crushed pebbles for sand on the lake, lifeguards who looked as if they would rather be anywhere (even back in school) than sitting in their chairs blowing their whistles at teens chicken fighting in the shallow swim area.

Still, it was a nice get-away. No computers, no television, no radio, nearly no telephones (my wife and two oldest daughters took their cell phones because they are addicted to the things). And we had a nice sized crew – my wife and I, our five children (ages 20, 18, 17, 15, and 11), and boyfriends of the two oldest kids.

Not to bore you with all the details, but we arrived early Sunday, set up camp and spent the rest of the day at the lake, bobbing in the water, splashing one another, throwing the football around – all the usual stuff.

Sunday night we had our first encounter with a bit of wildlife, when a skunk ambled by our campsite. Other than making sure he kept going as far as our flashlight beams would reach, we gave it little thought.

Later that night, as everyone was turning in, my youngest son – the 15-year-old – complained about it being too hot inside the tent, and he was right. I’ve never cared much for tent sleeping in the summer, because the heat builds up inside and takes most of the night to dissipate. So he and I bedded down outside, under the handful of stars we could see through the canopy of pine and oak trees.

Around two o’clock, my youngest – a girl – woke me. Some creature, we figured it was a raccoon, had tried helping itself to a few of our supplies. My son apparently heard him, turned on the flashlight and found himself in a stare-down with the little bandit. Being the he-man that he is, my son high-tailed it for the tent and only by chance woke up his little sister. Dad? Oh, well, my son conveniently forgot about me. It was the 11-year-old who thought maybe they should wake me and let me know I wasn’t alone out there in the forest.

Eventually we all got back to sleep, including the 15-year-old, the two of us still sleeping outside.

The next day was fine – hot and breezy, perfect for hanging out at the lake, swimming, building sand castles, just an all-around nice day. Lunchtime, however, was a bit of a challenge. Seems a horde of yellow jackets decided they liked the scent of our water melon, so lunch ended up being the Dad Run and Dance Olympics. With the bees swarming our site’s picnic table, we ate at the vacant adjacent campsite; with yours truly being the one who darted in and out of the bee swarm, grabbing the cooler, the bread, the napkins – whatever someone else decided was needed.

I’m not certain, but I think a few of those requests were simply to see me dancing in and out of the bees. Amazingly, I was not stung a single time, although I may have been risking permanent injury with some of the contortions I put on display.

The afternoon was more of the same – hanging out at the lake, not dancing with bees, I mean. Things changed a bit in the evening with not one, not two, but THREE skunks moseying on in and out of our campsite whenever they darn well felt like it, even while we were still sitting around the fire making s’mores.

When time to turn-in rolled around, the 15-year-old decided he was going to sleep outside again.

“What about the skunks?” I asked.

“No skunk’s going to come around as long as we’re out here,” he replied.

“They did while we were making s’mores.”

“Well, even if they do, they won’t bother us while we’re sleeping.”

I told him okay, if he was up for it, so was I. Truth was, I really did not want to sleep inside the tent. We went inside, grabbed our sleeping gear and stepped back out, only to see two of the little stinkers walking around exactly where we planned to unroll our sleeping bags.

My son and I looked at one another and, without a word between us, turned back into the tent and slept there for the night.

You know what? Despite all the wild creature problems, it was a nice trip. My two oldest are in college now, still living at home, but likely to move away in another year. The next two are right behind, and even the youngest, with another seven or eight years before she’s ready for college, will be grown and going her own way before long. These sorts of family times are, I’m sad to say, dwindling, and it was a good time to enjoy being together, away from the rest of the world, even if it was just for a couple of days.

*****

Being away from the e-word doesn’t mean the writing stopped entirely. As many of you know, my debut novel CLAIMING MOON is set for release on Aug.
1. One of the things I’ve been struggling with is a follow-up, the sequel to the book, a way to carry the characters (at least the ones who survive) on as their lives continue to evolve.

While the wife was lying on the shore, getting a little sun, and the kids (and the boyfriends) were all off splashing and playing, I spent a few moments out in the water, floating along, watching the opposite shore line, when my attention was drawn to a sailboat drifting, seemingly without any direction from its occupants. For a few minutes I even wondered if anyone was on board, or if it were going to come on in to the swimming area, carried there by the summer wind.

That’s when the germ of the idea hit me. I spent that night, and the next, once everyone else had gone to sleep and the camp-invading creatures weren’t intruding too much, working out some plot lines, and I think the little mini-vacation has given me what will become the second novel in my series.

Now I can’t wait to get cracking.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Thunder, lightning and memories of The Mist

Where I live, in the mountains of Southwest Virginia, and work, in the foothills of North Carolina, we’ve had quite a summer so far.

The tiny little town where my family and I call home has sweltered through record-breaking temperatures – never in recorded history of the town had a high temp in June reached 90 degrees until this year, when we topped out at 102 – and in recent days we’ve been pounded by storms.

As I write this, it’s raining hard outside, and the rumble of what I call gentle thunder is echoing across the ridges and hollows. I call this gentle thunder because lately we’ve experienced a fair bit of ground-shaking claps of thunder, with lightning filling the sky, hailstones as large as marbles pelting the ground. On one recent morning I watched as wind literally ripped large trees apart, pulled shutters and shingles from homes, and sent anything that wasn’t locked down flying across the land.

In the midst of that storm, I was reminded of one of my favorite Stephen King stories, THE MIST. The work was made into a movie a few years back, and I’m happy to say I have yet to see it. This is one of those stories that played out in my mind in full living color (despite Mr. King’s insistence in his notes that this was the sort of story best seen in black and white, at the drive-in, with your girl (or guy) snuggled up against you). I don’t want to see some director’s rendition; I have my own images from the novella, thank you very much.

Funny, how random happenstances will bring to memory songs or events or, in my case, novels and stories I’ve read. Sunday, when I was watching the power of that storm, I suddenly wanted to dig out my copy of King’s short story collection, SKELETON CREW, and read THE MIST. Unfortunately, it wasn’t on any of my bookshelves, which means it’s packed up in a box somewhere.

Later in the day we drove out and saw some of the damage (professional curiosity, of course, being that I’m a journalist). Trees were down, utility poles had been snapped, and some roads were even blocked. We stopped at a hardware store to pick up a window air conditioning unit, and saw people dejectedly walking from the store after learning there were no generators within 150 miles to be had (widespread and long-term power outages left many in the dark for a week). We stopped at a grocery store which had no power, its workers dealing with frustrated customers who didn’t seem to understand why they couldn’t go ahead and buy milk and other items from cold storage.

And my thoughts drifted again to my first reading of THE MIST so long ago, when I was very young and the world was still full of mystery and promise.

Does that ever happen to you? Do you find yourself drawn to something you’ve read years ago? Do you read it again when that happens? Or do you simply spend a few moments fondly recalling the work, and then move on?

Share your memories, your answers, or anything else you’d like to say in the comments section here – I’d love to read what you have to say.

As for me, I may very well have to go digging through my boxes. See, the gentle thunder has grown now, the ground is shaking, lightning streaks fill the air, and I can think of no better time to read such a tale as THE MIST.

See ya ‘round.