Old Bones Goes Live!

I’m thrilled to announce the imminent release of Old Bones, my first short story collection.

From the cover:

Gather round, my friends. Get comfortable, dim the lights, and settle in for a terrifying journey where each stop along the way is creepier than the last.

A themed corporate gathering…children with very special, very disturbing powers…a well-meaning criminal who can’t quite manage to stay on the straight and narrow…filmmakers chasing an old legend that’s more than just a story… a spectral visitor returns with stories from the past…

These stories reveal the evils of humanity at its worst, and the nightmarish things that lurk just around the corner from reality. Deceit, jealousy, temptation, danger, evil. Twelve tales of horror that delve into the dark recesses of your worst nightmares and lay them bare upon the page.

The release date for the ebook is April 11th, but it’s available now in paperback and hard cover editions. Also, for those who enjoy free stuff, Old Bones is available on Booksprout. If you’re not familiar with Booksprout, it’s a free signup site that allows you to read books at no cost in exchange for leaving a review. Read great books, and pay nothing aside from the time it takes to leave a review, which authors love and appreciate? It’s a win-win!

I hope you enjoy Old Bones as much as I loved creating the stories within its pages. If you pick up a copy I’d love to know what you thought of it. Thanks as always for the support and feedback, it’s greatly appreciated. If you haven’t already, take a moment to sign up over at my contact page for all the latest news delivered right to your inbox. Until next time, stay safe, talk soon!

-JP

Spotlight on Short Stories

Winter hasn’t passed us by just yet, but here in my region of the world we’re getting a bit of a reprieve – sort of. There’s been snow and/or freezing rain nearly every night, but daytime temperatures have been on the happy side of freezing for a couple of days and several more just like it in the forecast. It might be a tiny oasis in the middle of the freezin’ season, but at this point we’ll take it!

This week I’m getting back to my roots a little bit with a focus on short stories. A while back I did a sort of miniseries where I took a look behind the scenes of some of the stories in Old Bones, my forthcoming collection. I took a break from doing that to promote Seventeen Skulls, and never got around to picking up where I’d left off. Fast forward to now, which finds me happy to report the edits have been completed and the release date of Old Bones is approaching.

as a reminder, here’s a look at the cover art and blurb:

Gather round, my friends. Get comfortable, dim the lights, and settle in for a terrifying journey where each stop along the way is creepier than the last.

A themed corporate gathering…children with very special, very disturbing powers…a well-meaning criminal who can’t quite manage to stay on the straight and narrow…filmmakers chasing an old legend that’s more than just a story… a spectral visitor returns with stories from the past…

These stories reveal the evils of humanity at its worst, and the nightmarish things that lurk just around the corner from reality. Deceit, jealousy, temptation, danger, evil. Twelve tales of horror that delve into the dark recesses of your worst nightmares and lay them bare upon the page.

I’ll keep you in the loop as the release date draws nearer. As an added bonus I’m very pleased to announce one of the stories from Old Bones will appear in audio form on the Creepy Podcast. I find this pretty cool, as it marks another first for me along my chosen path. I’ve listened to a few horror podcasts, with mixed results. Some, obviously, are better than others. Creepy does a nice job with production, and the actors enhance rather than detract from the story. As with all things, I’ll keep you posted when it’s finished and goes live. In the meantime, if you’re a fan of audio books or are familiar with and enjoy the podcast experience, why don’t you pop on over to Creepy and give them a try.

It’s been a productive week, for sure. Additionally, the winter session of Crafting the Short Story is in full swing with a a fun and creative group of writers. As I posted this link I was reminded of a short promotional video we put together, which now appears at the bottom of the registration page. I believe they’re planning to add more of these by other instructors but for now mine is, as far as I know, the only one. Just a little something fun for those who might be considering one of my classes. It looks like it’s on the page for Writing Horror: The Dark Side too.

That’s all for now. As always, thanks for reading and dropping by. Feel free to pop over to my contact page to sign up for updates sent directly to your inbox. Leave reviews for authors you enjoy, help spread the word and shine light on books that deserve to be noticed. Not just mine, but anyone whose work you’ve read and enjoyed. It makes a difference, I guarantee it!

Be safe, talk soon!

-JP

Dissecting Old Bones

Where do story ideas come from? It’s one of the most common questions I, and presumably most genre fiction writers, hear. It’s a legitimate question. I can only speak for myself, but in my case the answer usually comes down to one of two things.

The first is two simple words that form the basis for most speculative fiction: what if? Take any everyday situation or scenario, and ask yourself what if things aren’t quite what they seem, or what you might expect. A young couple sitting on a park bench having a conversation? What if they’re plotting a robbery, or a killing spree? A fisherman sitting on the bank of a peaceful stream? What if an unspeakable monster lurks just below the surface? The possibilities are endless; the trick is to figure out which ones will capture the imagination effectively and become intriguing stories.

The second type of story creation draws inspiration from real events and/or past experiences. In my travels I’ve seen and experienced all sorts of interesting and, in some cases, unexplained things. Some of these turned out to be perfectly mundane and explainable things, but that doesn’t necessarily take them off the table as good story ideas. As for the rest, the ones that defy reason or logic, well… those are even better story fodder.

This is all well and good, but broad-stroke generalities aren’t nearly as interesting as specific examples, right? So, since my first collection of horror stories, Old Bones, comes out later this year, I thought I would do a short series of entries here that takes a look at some of the stories contained therein and where they came from.

Today we’ll look at a tale called Fashionably Late. It’s the story of a young married couple attending a corporate Halloween costume party. This was one of those “what if” scenarios where I found myself thinking about how things might play out if the costumes the people at the party wore weren’t actually costumes at all. What would you do if you walked into a room filled with vampires and werewolves and such, only to discover these were real monsters around you? How long before they discovered you weren’t actually one of them? How would they react? The characters were loosely based on a real couple I know (who were pleased to learn they’d inspired this piece), which added an element of realism and believability. To the best of my knowledge nothing like this ever actually happened to the real couple, but I thought about how they might handle it if it had. Here’s a short excerpt:

Attention to detail was one thing, but the closer he examined some of the costumes the more he was convinced there was more to them than just extreme dedication to detail. The wiggling ears on the werewolf, the twitching antennae on the alien mutant, even the pulsing gills on the swamp creature. Somewhere in the back of his mind he questioned how a creature with gills could breathe out of the water, which made him aware that he hadn’t been thinking of the people in the room as his co-workers in costumes. Subtly, he crept closer to take a better look at the beast he’d seen eating the arm earlier, and it was only when he saw a small cluster of fleas leaping around near the neck and back that he came to the sudden, jarring conclusion that it was no costume. Realization dawned on him, creeping up from his subconscious with increasingly chilling clarity: these weren’t intricately detailed costumes. At least some of these people weren’t people at all. This was real, and he was in serious trouble.

Now that we’ve laid the groundwork for the creative process I’ll continue to feature the back stories from Old Bones here as we wend our way toward its release. To receive these posts directly to your inbox, sign up at my contact page and you’ll be the first to know whenever I add new content.

Thanks for reading and following along with me. Until next time!

-JP

Introducing Old Bones

As I mentioned in my last post, I have two new books coming out in the next little while. As I also mentioned, one of these will be a collection of short stories. Some of these stories you may have seen before, as there is a smattering of reprints included in there. But there are also a number of brand new, never before seen scary tales that I’m very excited to share with everyone. I won’t tell you any more about them just yet – but keep an eye on this space for hints and teasers.

To make up for the lack of information let me share with you something just as cool: introducing the cover for Old Bones, the first collection exclusively containing my own work.

Pretty snazzy, huh? Oh, and it’s also unique in the sense that it’s the first horror short story collection my publisher, World Castle Publishing, has ever produced. That’s all, just this one. So that’s a special and rare honor that I’m very grateful for.

To say I’m thrilled about this would be selling it short. Short stories are what I cut my teeth on in this industry. They’re still my go-to when I’m stuck or in a bit of a creative lull. For this collection I’ve selected some of my favorite stories from over the years. In turn, each of the stories included here has a back story about how it was created, where the idea came from, the process, and so on. Maybe down the road I’ll do a post dedicated to some of those behind the scenes tidbits.

For now, I hope you like the cover, and I promise there will be a cover reveal for the new novel very soon. Keep watching this space for more info and updates, or for even more prompt service feel free to drop by my contact page, fill out the info, and receive updates delivered right to your inbox.

Until next time, stay safe and talk soon!

-JP

A Necessary Detour

This week I had to take a short break from working on my novel. I didn’t want to, necessarily, it just worked out that way. Something I hadn’t seen much of in a while wandered across my path and drew my attention.

Ideas for stories come to me – to most writers, I suspect – in the oddest ways, unannounced and when least expected. In this case I was taking my dog, Daphne, for a late-night stroll around the property. I often talk to her as we walk, and on this occasion something I said sparked a little idea in my head. Just an innocent little phrase, but my mind took it and ran with it into darker places. By the time we came up the stairs and back inside for the night, the basis for a short story had been born.

I came inside, and once everyone else in the house was bedded down for the night I sat down at the computer and decided I needed to get the basic idea down before it got away. I sent a message to a friend that outlined the story in a few lines. I wanted an outside opinion – sometimes ideas that sound cool at first, in my head, make less sense once they go from concept to execution. In this case I got the thumbs up and forged ahead.

It isn’t finished yet, but it’s outlined. In my own vernacular, the skeleton has been assembled, now it just needs meat on the bones. I’ll pick and putter with it for a while until I’m happy with it, put it through my usual routine, and call it done. It’s nice, because after hammering away at novels almost exclusively for the last three-plus years, writing a short story is a recent rarity for me.

So, why was it a “necessary detour”, as the title implies? While I often stress the need to finish projects and not leave them lying around in various stages of disarray and disassembly, sometimes when something you’re working on feels like a struggle a step back can be a blessing. It’s not a long term thing – I’ll go back to the grindstone soon enough. I feel I may have needed a little pause, without pausing. In this case it came in the form of a new project. Just a brief side road to renew my enthusiasm, and maybe a little reminder that I’m still capable of pulling out a short story once in a while.

On a related note, Crafting the Short Story  kicked off this week. I always look forward to working with a new group, and so far this one has a fun dynamic. It should be a good run.

Time to get back to it. Stay safe, talk soon!

-JP