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.