Friday, September 7, 2012

"13 Horror Stories" Cracks the UK top 25

This is a day I dreamed about but wasn't quite sure it would ever happen. My ebook of horror short stories, "13 Horror Stories" is climbing the charts on Amazon UK. A few days ago it was #25 in the horror short stories category, and today I've watched as it has steadily climbed to (the last time I checked) #19 for horror short stories and #82 for short stories of every category. Woo hoo, let's break out the champagne!

I am gratified because it means that my hard work is paying off. I have been a writer all my life, but even though I love fiction and got a Master's in English Literature because I wanted to keep reading it, I spent most of my life doing other kinds of writing. Just about every other kind, including catalog copy, speeches, trade magazine articles, blogs, newsletters -- you name it, if it involves putting words on a screen (or on paper, which is how I started out years ago), I've done it. I wrote a few short stories along the way, and I even got a handwritten rejection letter from The New Yorker magazine once (handwritten rejection letters are supposed to be not as bad for the ego as typewritten ones, because they mean an editor took a little extra time to tell you your work was unsuitable). I never pursued my fiction writing dream with any great effort, though. It was too scary to actually reach for, so I pushed it away.

Until I turned 50 and realized that if I had any intention of realizing my dream I'd better get to work. So, I started writing fiction every day, mostly awful stuff at first, but slowly the stories got better. I joined writing groups, kept polishing my craft, and started sending my stories out to online magazines. To my surprise, some of them got published. I kept writing, and then the ebook revolution came along. Now it was possible for anyone to publish a book, to reach an audience, and to get exposure for their writing.

I jumped in with both feet. I put out first one book of short stories, then another. And another. Now I have 11 books listed on Amazon. Some are horror books, some are humor, and some are the kind that pull at the heartstrings. I don't stick to one type of writing. My horror books don't have zombies, but they do have twists that sneak up on you. My humor is verbal; not in your face. My books are not mainstream, but they're finding an audience, and that's so gratifying.

Dreams can come true.
13 Horror Stories UK edition

Friday, July 27, 2012

"Bone Chillers" Is Out

I admit, I'm wacky. I'm one of those people who likes to feel afraid. I like that feeling in the pit of my stomach when I hear an unknown sound in the dark. When I hear footsteps in an empty house. When I get a sudden shock. That's why I write scary stories. When I get a number of them together, I publish them in ebook form. My latest ebook is called "Bone Chillers", and it's a collection of nine scary stories.
Here you'll meet shape-shifters, transformers, monsters, water spirits, the undead and the unclean. There are people with blood on their hands and vengeance in their hearts. There's an old man who thinks an evil troll is after him; two gangsters who meet a mysterious young woman in the empty desert; an acting coach who says he can help a young actress with her fear of confined spaces; a food critic who gets bitten by a strange wolf-like creature in a restaurant; an Irish monk in AD 1000 who thinks the world is ending, and much more.
I think this is one of my best efforts yet. It's available for only $2.99 at Smashwords. It'll make you think twice about being in the house alone on a dark night.
Whatever your phobia, whatever your weakness, the Bone Chillers will expose it!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Aliens And Teens: My Latest Humor Ebook Is Out

I don't know what it is about aliens and UFOs, but something about them strikes me as funny. I keep writing stories about wacky alien/human encounters. Some writers think these encounters are fraught with peril, others focus on the history-making possibilities, but I like to imagine an alien falling in love with a bratty American teenager. There's a shared bond between aliens and teenagers, I think. They both look different, their minds work differently than inhabitants of Earth, and they speak a language only they can understand. It makes perfect sense to me that aliens and teenagers could get along.

I have some stories about encounters between aliens and humans in my new ebook of short stories called Funny Fantasies. There is also a story about an Irish genie, a daffy princess on a medieval quest, a village pharmacist who has to deal with customers who turn into monsters once a month because of a witch's spell, a story in the tradition of P.G. Wodehouse's Jeeves tales, and lots more. These are G rated stories, so the whole family can enjoy them.

My books are priced reasonably -- Funny Fantasies is only $2.99 -- so the laughs are not expensive. Read a sample at Smashwords. I'm sure you'll like it!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Big Chills Is Climbing!

The results are coming in, and as of 10:30 AM Eastern Time today, January 27, the free promotion for my ebook Big Chills is a success. Big Chills has been downloaded 284 times on Amazon and 66 times on Amazon UK. It's up to #15 on for short stories in the Kindle Store, and it keeps climbing.
How high can it go? I'd love to see it hit #1 for short stories! If you're reading this and you like short horror fiction, please download Big Chills on your Kindle. You'll get some very entertaining stories to read, and I'll get a higher rank on Amazon.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Free Horror Stories Here

If you like horror short stories, you have two days to get a free copy of my ebook, "Big Chills",  a collection of short horror stories that pack a wallop at the end.
That's because "Big Chills" is being offered for free on on January 26-27.
I've taken the plunge. After following the heated debate among indie authors about KDP Select, the Amazon program that lets readers borrow ebooks for free, I signed two of my ebooks up for it. KDP Select, in case you don't know, is a little perk that Amazon gives to its Amazon Prime members, where they can borrow one ebook a month for free, to read on their Kindle. There have been thousands of words written about this program since Amazon went public with it a few months ago, with writers divided on whether it's the greatest promotional tool ever invented or a crude ploy by Amazon to corner the market on ebooks.
Why are some writers mad? When you enroll an ebook in the KDP Select program, Amazon forces you to stop distributing it on any other sites -- including your own Web site or blog -- for 90 days.  If you're selling a lot on Barnes & Noble, for example, you have to bite the bullet and lose those sales for 90 days. Other publishers are not pleased. Smashwords, in particular, released a statement saying that Amazon was being "predatory" and trying to take away writers' independence.
Amazon says that it's doing writers a favor -- that by offering your ebook to its huge audience for free, either through its lending library or as a free promotion (you're allowed to offer your ebook for free for five days during that 90 day period, and that's what I'm doing with "Big Chills") you'll get a large boost in name recognition among readers, and that will carry over to more sales for your other ebooks.
Plus, Amazon is paying writers every time their ebook is borrowed. There's a formula for payouts, but basically it works out to $1.70 per ebook.
I don't like the idea of giving my work away for free, but I finally decided to enroll a couple of my ebooks in the program. The reason is that Amazon does have a huge audience, and its giving away free Amazon Prime trial memberships to everyone who buys a Kindle Fire (and that's a lot of people). As an indie author I need exposure, and it's worth trying KDP Select to get that.
Plus, I already know it works pretty well. I did a test promotion on my book "Facebook Ate My Life" and got hundreds of downloads. When the promotion ended I saw a bump in sales for all of my ebooks.
Now I'm going to do it again. This time it's "Big Chills". I'll post the results here when the promotion is finished.  

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Networking With The Gods

By John McDonnell

“It's a sad situation when you can't get anyone to worship you anymore,” Zeus said. “What's the world coming to, I'd like to know?”
“I don't know, Zeus,” said Ra. “Things just aren't the same.”
They were riding the subway in New York, and nobody was paying attention to them. Zeus fit right in, because his long hair and beard made him look like a street person. Ra was dressed like an ancient Egyptian, naked except for a loincloth, but the only attention he attracted was from a little boy who told his mother he wanted that costume for Halloween.
“It’s not fair, I tell you,” Zeus said. “I haven't had any serious worshippers in about 1500 years. Who’d have thought things could come to this?”
“How do you think I feel?” Ra said. “I used to be the highest of the Egyptian deities. Thousands of people worshipped me. They painted my picture on their pyramids, they made statues of me. I was the man back then. Now, nothing.”
“You went out of style ages ago,” Zeus snorted. “I took over in Egypt, remember?”
“Oh yeah? Well, how many pyramids do you have? How many statues?”
“I have some pretty impressive temples around the Mediterranean. And the statue of me in Olympia was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.”
“Ancient is right,” Ra said. “It was destroyed centuries ago. The pyramid of Giza is still standing, my man.”
“Bah,” Zeus said. “I bet I get more tourists every year than you.”
“Tourists? We're arguing about tourists? We used to have followers who would sacrifice their first born children to us. Now we're counting up how many tour groups are snapping pictures in front of our broken-down temples.” 
Zeus shook his shaggy head. “Yeah, you're right. It's a shame what happened.”
“It was the Christians who did us in,” Ra said. “Who can compete with all that ‘salvation for everybody’ stuff? In my day we didn’t let the riffraff into the afterlife.”
“I don't get it,” Zeus said. “I never asked much from my followers. I certainly never made them follow a bunch of commandments.”
“No, but you slept with their wives, and you turned them into goats when you disagreed with them.”
“Well, I'm lord of the universe, aren't I?” Zeus thundered. “Don't I get to do what I want?”
“Buddy, that attitude is what got you in trouble. People don’t want their gods throwing hissy fits and nuking everything in sight. That doesn’t sell anymore.”
“Oh, and you handled things better? You had your people working thousands of slaves to death every year just to build temples to you, and look at your great monuments today! Nothing but a pile of stones in the desert.”
“Listen,” Ra said. “We can talk all day about what we made our followers do. Gods do crazy things. I mean, the guy in Mexico asked for child sacrifice from the Aztecs, and he didn't last more than a couple of centuries. The question is, what are we going to do about it now?”
“Do? What can we do?” Zeus said, moodily. “We're a couple of broken-down old gods that nobody believes in anymore. We have no power, no influence.”
“Come on, don't give up so easily. There are some things we can do.”
“Like what?”
“Like social networking. We can get a Facebook page. A Twitter account. Google Plus, even.”
“And what will that do?”
“We'll get followers, dummy. It's simple. We just post some of our thoughts, some pictures (maybe you could comb your hair and trim your beard, make yourself look presentable), and people will start to friend us. The key is to be interesting.”
“Yes. That means no complaining about the last 2000 years, okay? No bitching about how Jesus stole all your followers. No threatening to throw thunderbolts, or wipe out whole cities. And no coming on to the women, okay? You'll ruin things if you do that.”
Zeus thought it over. “Okay, I guess you're right. But you have to promise you won't post any pictures of mummies. I hate looking at mummies.”
“Fine, no mummies.”
So Zeus and Ra opened a Facebook account and started posting. They hooked up with some old friends online (except one or two gods whom Zeus had cuckolded a thousand years before, who didn't accept his friend requests). Things were going well for awhile, and they got up to a few thousand followers. However, their account was shut down after Zeus repeatedly left lewd messages on attractive females’ walls and Ra tried to start a pyramid scheme.
You just can’t teach old gods new tricks.