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 21

It’s a lazy Sunday afternoon here. I’ve got a sleeping cat curled up on a pillow to my left, a ‘weary from a long walk’ dog sprawled on her bed to my right, and my better half luxuriating in a hot bath at the far end of the house. Here I sit, flipping through Shudder looking for something interesting while storm clouds loom large just on the horizon at the edge of my sight line. I feel like there’s rain in our future.

As for the tour, we’ve taken another day with no stops to report. It’s back to business tomorrow, but even book tour hosts need a day off here and there. So for now, it’s just me and my laid-back household, stopping by to say hi to those of you who like to drop in here and keep up on what’s new and exciting. Oh, I will mention that as of yesterday Seventeen Skulls was flirting with one of Amazon’s various sub-category top 100 best sellers lists (it has since slid back a bit, but is still going strong!). Big thanks to those of you who have picked up a copy, I’m very pleased with how many have shown their support. If you have read the book and enjoyed it, you might also like my first novel, Terror in High Water. And for the short story fan, my collection, Old Bones, is still on the horizon as something to look forward to.

Just a quick post today – I won’t take up too much of your time on this lazy Sunday. Thanks as always for following along here. If you haven’t already, or if you have and know someone who might also enjoy what we do here, you can always visit my contact page and subscribe to have news and updates sent directly to your inbox. The more the merrier, I say. There’s always room for new visitors here!

We’re back to the regularly scheduled tour again tomorrow. 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

Tying Up Loose Ends

March is slogging its way to a close, and has apparently decided to end on a snowy note this year. After several days of weather in the high teens this weekend has dipped back below the freezing point and today is the third in a row it’s either rained or snowed, or both. Our newest grandchild is just a little over a week old now, and hopefully the warmer weather isn’t far behind her arrival.

It’s a rare down time for me in terms of writing. The forthcoming Seventeen Skulls and Old Bones are still in the pipeline, and the winter sessions of my classes have all concluded. With the spring classes still a couple of weeks away from kicking off, I’m cleaning up a couple of projects that have taken a back seat lately.

First on the docket: edits on my next novel, Putting Down Roots. This is one of those projects that feels like it’s been on my to-do list forever. In a way, it has been kicking around for a long time. I came up with the original idea for this about five or six years ago and wrote the bones of the first draft, then put it aside for a while to let it marinade. Time went by and other projects pushed it down the list of priorities, but it’s always been a good enough story that it was never entirely forgotten. So the skeleton became a more complete body as I put meat on the bones and fleshed out the story. Now it’s more or less finished, albeit very rough and in need of a lot of polish.

About a year ago I started work on another novel idea I had. I started the fleshing out process, worked on developing some of the characters and researching the settings and such. To date it isn’t finished, but it will be. I’m usually loathe to work on too many projects at once – I prefer to finish one before diving into another for fear I’ll abandon the first one unfinished. But what this means is that I have two novels in various stages of completion, and it’s time to close one of them out.

The editing process is a lot less fun than writing, no question. It’s probably why I procrastinate and put it off as much as I do. But the fact of the matter is, whenever there’s an incomplete project waiting for me, I think about it pretty constantly until it’s off my plate. So the process now involves setting aside a block of time with as few distractions as possible and just push through a chunk of what needs to be done. Each time I do that, the sense of accomplishment pushes me to press on and get through to the end.

Of course, getting to the end isn’t the end. It’s just the beginning of the next round of edits. But that’s another story…

Anyway, that’s what’s new here. As much as I enjoy this novel, it’s time to lay this old friend to rest. The sooner it’s done, the sooner I can share it with the world and give the next big project the attention it deserves. Thanks as always for reading and following along with me. Until next time,

Be safe, talk soon!

-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