Seventeen Skulls Virtual Book Tour, Day 27

Just a quick post today, with no tour stops until Monday and a couple of needed days off to recharge for the final push. Seventeen Skulls is still forging ahead and holding strong, and there’s actually been a bit of an uptick in interest in Terror in High Water, too.

In other news, Crafting the Short Story and Writing Horror: The Dark Side are both set to kick off for the fall semester. Hope to see some of you there.

The Nixies of McGillivray Lake, the debut novel from Sheryl Doiron-Powers, is available on Amazon and many other quality outlets. It’s also up on Booksprout, for any of you who have a membership and might be interested in checking out a high quality YA dark fantasy novel. As an aside, Seventeen Skulls is available there as well.

Enjoy your Saturday, thanks for dropping by to visit . It’s appreciated as always. Don’t forget to head on over to my contact page and subscribe to have these posts sent directly to your inbox. Until next time, stay safe, talk soon!

-JP

Seventeen Skulls Virtual Book Tour, Day 26

It’s Friday, the end of another long week and the beginning of the last week of this virtual book tour. As a reminder, there aren’t any tour stops again until Monday, at which point we’re doing double stops each day until the end. I’ll have posts over the weekend with other stuff, though.

Today’s tour date brings us to the home of the Midnight Book Reader, where we’ve got a feature spot and an update on the giveaway counter – over 2,400 today, heading into the home stretch. Thanks to our gracious hosts today, as every day. I appreciate the interest and the time taken.

A reminder that Crafting the Short Story and Writing Horror: The Dark Side kick off in the near future. Click the links for details. It’s not too late to sign up if you or someone you know has an interest in writing and needs a little nudge in the right direction.

Enjoy your weekend, everyone. I’ll have posts here tomorrow and Sunday, before we launch into the last leg of this mammoth tour. Thanks as always for stopping by, feel free to pop over to my contact page and subscribe to have news and updates delivered right to your inbox. Until next time, stay safe, talk soon!

-JP

Seventeen Skulls Virtual Book Tour, Day 23

It’s been a long and eventful road along this virtual book tour, but we’re finally into the final ten-day stretch. Technically, there are just eight tour days left since we’re taking the last weekend to catch our collective breath before the home stretch. So, one stop per day for the rest of this week, a short pause on Saturday and Sunday, then double-headers every day down to the final guns.

Today’s stop along the tour takes us to Bedazzled by Books. They feature a ton of books over there, including yours truly today. Big thanks to our gracious hosts for the feature spot.

In other news, we’ve got less than two weeks until the start of this semester’s Writing Horror: The Dark Side. It runs on Mondays starting September 27th. Then on Thursdays starting October 7th we’ve got Crafting the Short Story. Both are entertaining and informative courses, in case you or someone you know is interested in exploring the basics and nuances of fiction writing.

That’s all for today. Thanks as always for following along with the tour here, your support is greatly appreciated. For news and updates delivered right to your inbox, head on over to my contact page and subscribe. Until next time, stay safe, talk soon!

-JP

Seventeen Skulls Virtual Book Tour, Day 20

It’s Saturday evening here on the east coast, but regardless of your time zone I hope you’re having a great day! We’ve arrived on day twenty of the book tour, and even though we don’t have any scheduled stops on the itinerary today I thought I’d mention some other business while I keep the streak alive.

First, a reminder that fall sessions of Crafting the Short Story (Thursdays starting October 7th) and Writing Horror: The Dark Side (Mondays starting September 27th) will be kicking off shortly. These classes are always fun and informative and provide that extra bit of motivation needed to put pen to paper (literally or figuratively) and start churning out works of fiction.

Next, I wanted to mention to any of you who use Booksprout, Seventeen Skulls can be found there. For those who might be unfamiliar, Booksprout is a site for readers to download an advance readers copy (ARC) in exchange for posting a review. As I’ve mentioned before, reviews are the lifeblood of all authors, new or established. Ratings and reviews on sites such as Amazon, Goodreads, or whichever platform you acquire a book from play a huge role in others discovering and checking out things they might not have otherwise. It’s always greatly appreciated, believe me!

Lastly, be sure to visit my contact page and subscribe for emailed news and updates sent directly to your inbox. Thank you as always for dropping by and following along here. We’re back tomorrow for another book tour update, but until then, stay safe, talk soon!

-JP

Inside Old Bones: Creature Comforts

Just before we dive into today’s post I want to take a second to plug Crafting the Short Story, which kicks off this Thursday. There are still spots left if you or someone you know is interested in this fun and informative writing course.

As we continue to wend our way through the table of contents of my forthcoming short story collection, Old Bones, we come to a fun little tale called Creature Comforts. Nine-year-old Paulina is having trouble with bullies at her school. Her grandfather gets wind of this and gives her his old teddy bear for protection. But this toy brings more to the table than just moral support, to Paulina’s great delight.

I wrote this story, or most of the bones of it at least, in my little studio space. Years ago I shared a studio with several other artists on the top floor of an old building in the downtown core. It ultimately wasn’t the most productive creative space during the year-plus I spent there, although a few ideas did come from my time there. One, which I’ll talk about at length in a future post, was the earliest stages of what would become my second novel, Seventeen Skulls. Another was Creature Comforts.

There are monsters everywhere, if you look hard enough. Sometimes you don’t have to look all that hard. This is a story about monsters, but more than that it’s about family. How far would you go in order to protect the ones you love? What sort of evil would you be willing to unleash, knowing the potential consequences? These are some of the themes I wanted to explore, knowing as I do the answers will vary from person to person. Paulina isn’t based on a real person exactly, nor is her grandfather, but I tried to get into the heads of both characters to determine how each would react to the situation I put them in. I wasn’t exactly sure how things would turn out, and I was pleasantly surprised.

As I mentioned in the last post, I wanted to experiment with writing from different points of view that aren’t exactly like mine. While I’m not, nor have I ever been, a nine-year-old girl, I did have access to one for a while a number of years ago. I drew on my observations and experiences to try and add realism to my character. Hopefully I came close. As for the grandfather, I can identify with him a little more closely. I know the lengths I would go to but also my limitations in such a scenario. I wanted to give him an interesting way to protect his granddaughter, and I think I did that.

The title has a double meaning, as my titles so often do: everyone knows what creature comforts are, but in Paulina’s case she takes comfort in the presence of an actual “creature” – grandpa’s stuffed bear. As always it’s tricky to go into detail without giving too much away. Hopefully when the book comes out you’ll read these stories and realize why these posts have intentionally been a little vague.

Thanks as always for reading along and continuing to come back to this space. Feel free to subscribe for updates directly to your inbox.

Stay safe, talk soon!

-JP

Online Summer Writing Classes

Summer is rapidly approaching, which means it’s time for the next round of summer classes! Crafting the Short Story and Writing Horror: The Dark Side are both offered as online courses via Zoom.

Crafting the Short Story:

Short story creation is an art form that is often neglected and overlooked. Related to – but entirely separate from – novel writing, short story creation can be a tricky art to master but also fun and rewarding. It has been suggested that writing short stories can even be more difficult than novels. Impossible? Take this course and judge for yourself!

Here’s an opportunity to focus on writing effective short stories, covering many of the basics of short story writing. You’ll learn how to set the scene, create and develop believable characters, avoid common pitfalls, and much more.

With an emphasis on developing the craft through good writing practices and habits, the course offers tips and advice on discovering the joys of short speculative fiction.

The summer session of Crafting the Short Story begins Thursday, June 17th.

Writing Horror: The Dark Side:

Horror is hack and slash, blood and guts. It’s creepy ghosts and haunted houses. It’s psychological thrillers, gothic tales, atmospheric tension, human drama, and of course, monsters. It spans generations and appeals to a wide audience – from Stephen King and Edgar Allen Poe to Neil Gaiman and R.L. Stine, horror brings joy (and scares) to kids and adults alike.

In this course, we’ll dispel some of the myths surrounding horror, and explore the key elements including, what turns an ordinary story into a spooky tale, how to build and maintain suspense, developing strong characters (human and otherwise), how to write an ending with maximum impact, and more.

This course shares some basic elements with Crafting the Short Story, and emphasizes developing the craft through good writing practices and habits.

The summer session of Writing Horror: The Dark Side begins Monday, June 14th.

Get in touch with me or contact the CEL office directly with any questions or for more information. Hope to see you there!

-JP

Back to Class

Just a quick update today to remind you that spring is here, which means it’s time for the next round of online writing classes. Time is ticking, but there’s still time to register for Writing Horror: The Dark Side and Crafting the Short Story. Dark Side kicks off this Monday, April 12th, with Short Story a few days later, starting Thursday, April 15th.

What are these classes all about, you ask? From UNB’s registration site:

“Short story creation is an art form that is often neglected and overlooked. Related to – but entirely separate from – novel writing, short story creation can be a tricky art to master but also fun and rewarding. It has been suggested that writing short stories can even be more difficult than novels. Impossible? Take this course and judge for yourself!

Here’s an opportunity to focus on writing effective short stories, covering many of the basics of short story writing. You’ll learn how to set the scene, create and develop believable characters, avoid common pitfalls, and much more.

With an emphasis on developing the craft through good writing practices and habits, the course offers tips and advice on discovering the joys of short speculative fiction.

The course also covers important topics such as editing and preparing your work for publication. There is a segment that focuses on submitting for publication, publishing contracts, identifying and avoiding scams, and more, to help avoid the worst of the potential pitfalls in the publishing world.”

As for Horror: the Dark Side:

“The word “horror” often conjures images of masked, machete-wielding monsters doing unspeakable things to innocent teenagers. That’s definitely part of it, but there’s a lot more to the story.

Horror is a genre unlike no other. Its purpose is to unsettle, to elicit a strong emotional response from the reader through “safe scares”. It’s also perhaps the most misunderstood genre of all.

Horror is hack and slash, blood and guts. It’s creepy ghosts and haunted houses. It’s psychological thrillers, gothic tales, atmospheric tension, human drama, and of course, monsters. It spans generations and appeals to a wide audience – from Stephen King and Edgar Allen Poe to Neil Gaiman and R.L. Stine, horror brings joy (and scares) to kids and adults alike.

In this course, we’ll dispel some of the myths surrounding horror, and explore the key elements including, what turns an ordinary story into a spooky tale, how to build and maintain suspense, developing strong characters (human and otherwise), how to write an ending with maximum impact, and more.

This course shares some basic elements with Crafting the Short Story, and emphasizes developing the craft through good writing practices and habits.”

Just a few days left to register, but there are still spots in both classes. Just follow the links above. If you or someone you know has an interest in learning the basics of creative fiction writing, or a specific peek into the world of creating scary stories, I’d love to have you come along with me this spring.

-JP

Horror in the Books

Just a few notes to bring everyone up to date on what’s new in my little corner of the world. We’re mere weeks away from the first day of spring! If you’re in a part of the world that’s still clinging to the daylight savings thing, it happens this weekend.

The inaugural offering of Writing Horror: The Dark Side concluded tonight. I have to say, it went extremely well, even as I worked out the kinks and smoothed out the syllabus. What are the key elements to writing horror? How do you write for maximum emotional impact? At the same time, as with Crafting the Short Story, my emphasis is always on good writing habits and practices. So the challenge is to fit everything in, cover some of the basics while keeping it fresh for those who have already taken the short story course. I was thrilled and very proud as I watched my students, some of whom hadn’t written anything in years, churn out some chilling and creepy stuff. I’m already looking forward to the next session, which kicks off April 12th.

Seventeen Skulls and Old Bones are on the horizon, still working their way through the arduous process of becoming books. Next on the docket: the first draft of the next novel is done, now the process has begun to repair all the fissures and cracks and transform it into something that resembles a finished product. This one’s still several steps down the road before it sees the light of day, but it’s never too early to throw out a teaser!

Finally, thanks to everyone who read my post about the Donnelly massacre last month. It garnered a lot of interest and generated lots of positive feedback. It’s a subject of great interest to me, and a story I always enjoy recounting to anyone who isn’t familiar with the history. I suspect there may be more such entries in this space along the way.

That’s all for now. As always, thanks for stopping by for a visit. Feel free to sign up for updates via email through my contact page. Until next time,

Stay safe, talk soon!

-JP

Winter Semester Starts Soon!

Winter is in full swing – actually, I take that back… it really isn’t. I have to admit, as Canadian winters go this one has been rather mild, which doesn’t exactly break my heart. It’s still pretty chilly out there, but at least for the time being we’re not eyeballs-deep in snow. I’m speaking solely from my Maritime perspective though, so depending on where you’re reading this from your mileage may vary. If your locale isn’t getting off as lightly as we are here, my condolences.

Nevertheless, the onset of winter does mean the beginning of a new semester of online classes at UNB. And as always, it means Crafting the Short Story (which has moved from Mondays to Thursdays and now run for eight weeks) along with the latest addition to the lineup, Writing Horror: The Dark Side which takes over the long-standing Monday time slot. And the hour is nearly upon us! Classes begin next week, so if you’ve been on the fence about signing up, there’s no time like the present. There’s still room in both classes, so if you or someone you know is interested in learning/improving their writing skills – and filling some of those wintry COVID lockdown hours – you can kill two birds with one stone and come hang out in my virtual classroom.

Lastly, as I frequently do here, I would like to remind you that reviews for Terror in High Water are always welcome on any and all platforms it’s available on. Reviews are always welcome but they’re especially helpful now with not one but two new titles coming soon, to generate and draw interest in anticipation of the forthcoming Old Bones and Seventeen Skulls. Teasers, blurbs, and cover art when available can be seen on my World Castle Publishing author page, here. Also, for updates on new posts and news check out my contact page, fill out a few boxes, and voila! Emailed updates sent right to your inbox.

That’s all for now. Thank you as always for dropping in to see the latest goings-on, or catch up on some of the history around here. Whether you’re a first-timer or daily visitor, I’m always pleased you’ve taken some of your time to spend here with me. Until next time,

Stay safe, talk soon!

-JP

Last One of the Year

Happy Solstice! The shortest day of the year is now behind us, onward to longer (and, before we know it, warmer) days! It’s the holiday season, and possibly my last post of this crazy whirlwind that has been 2020. I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy, even if you’re in a place where travel restrictions and such have hampered your plans. As of today Ontario has gone into lock down for the next month, most other Canadian provinces are in various stages of restriction, and I understand there’s a new strain of COVID making its way through the UK and possibly into Australia. And of course America is reporting some frightening infection numbers. There may be light at the end of the tunnel, but it’s a little way off still I think.

As for me, I’m recovering from entirely different health woes, having suffered some broken ribs about a week ago. It’s the second time in my life that I’ve damaged myself in this way, roughly twenty years between instances. It’s not any more pleasant this time around, I can tell you. Fortunately for me, the next couple of weeks will bring a light work schedule, which means more time to convalesce here at home.

The time off will give me a chance to put the finishing touches on my new Writing Horror: The Dark Side class, which debuts on January 25th. Meanwhile, Crafting the Short Story moves to its new time slot on Thursdays starting January 28th. It also switches to an eight-week course as noted in this previous post. I’m looking forward to getting back into the classroom – virtual though it may be – this new winter session.

In other news, I wrote a new story this weekend. One of those spur of the moment things where an idea occurred to me and I wrote it down as it was hatching. I guess it wasn’t so much the act of writing the story that was spur of the moment; I wanted to submit something to an open call but had nothing that really fit, so I did sit down with the intention of coming up with something. As for the story itself, I didn’t even have an inkling of what it would be before I started. Sometimes that’s how it works: a little spark of an idea turns into a story right before your astonished eyes. One of the things I tell my students involves a daily writing exercise which can spawn story ideas and, from time to time, actual stories.

Speaking of stories, keep an eye on this space in the new year for a new feature I plan to add to the site. I’ll be adding a section of free content including some stories and the like. For those who have already read some of my work and enjoy it, this is just a little something extra. For those who may not have read anything I’ve done yet, this is your chance to test the waters. Hopefully you’ll like what you see!

In case this is indeed my last post this year, let me thank you for spending some time here with me and my thoughts. Once again I end with the obligatory mention of my contact page, not only for yourself but any of your family and friends whom you think might enjoy what we do here. And what post would be complete without a gentle reminder than book reviews are the lifeline of all authors? Since it’s the season for giving and all, I would happily accept any and all reviews. Primarily and ideally for Terror in High Water, at any or all of here, here, or here. But any of the titles that have included my work would also be welcome. Finally, as always,

Be safe, talk soon!
-JP