Beware of Santa

Santa Claus

Santa Claus (Photo credit: Christopher S. Penn)

Christmas is almost here and once again we’re all faced with the terrors of St. Nicholas, the supernatural interloper who demands entry into our homes once a year to eat our food and, if we’re lucky, leave us gifts under the evergreen we sacrificed for his pleasure.

If you don’t have a chimney, you have to leave your door unlocked on Christmas Eve.  Otherwise, if Santa is hungry, he’ll break in, and if he’s not hungry, he’ll move on to the next house, leaving no presents.

And where does Santa get his elves?  Those are children he stole from their beds, enslaved in the eternal winter of the North Pole as punishment for being awake when he peeked into their rooms.  Like Francis Wolcott, the serial killer of prostitutes in Deadwood, Santa doesn’t like to have been seen.  Wake early on Christmas Eve, my friends, and spike your eggnog in the early evening.

You may want to distract yourself from the whisper of the wind and the clomp of Santa’s boots on the roof.  If so, I recommend getting lost in a good book.

Merry Christmas!  Now do this:


Freebies Galore Over Here

I’m in a rush but I wanted to let everyone know that some of my books are free today. Just click on the Books tab for links. A Circle in the Wooda, The Drought, and The End of the Party. Get ’em while you can!

skull and crawdad, book photo for A Circle in the Woods, Justin Comley

Ten-Thousand Views Giveaway Winners

Download A Circle in the Woods on Amazon

Time to knock the dust off a few copies of A Circle in the Woods for three lucky winners.  If you’re a winner, and you’ve come here for The Object, bear in mind that the book you will soon receive in the mail is much more violent, much darker, and unconventional in many ways.  You may love it or you may hate it, but if you can’t stomach realistic violence and cruelty, don’t read this book.

With that said, congrats to the following people, who will be receiving an email shortly:

Barbara Pohle-Schulze

Laura S.

Thom Millman

Kyle B. Stiff

Shelby Haun

Before you go, I’d like to announce a second round to this contest!  I’m holding a vote for one of you to win a free paperback of The Object: Book One as well as the other two books in the series, upon release.  So get as many people as possible to vote for you in the poll below!  Voting will close Wednesday evening at 11:59pm Central Standard Time.

Good luck!

P.S.–Don’t forget about the contest for A Circle in the Woods!  You can enter after reading.

A Free, Funny Book for Indie Authors and Readers

I ran into this book on the Amazon forums last week.  Written by author and forum frequenter Stella Deleuze, Rage Against the Indie is a sort of How-To book in two parts:

First, the rant.  Stella goes on at length in a humorous but meaningful way about the horribly annoying mistakes self-published authors make while trying to promote themselves.  I admit I blushed as I read it, finding several mistakes I’ve made, time and time again.

Next, suggestions for improvement.  For a beginning self-publisher, the second half of this book serves as a great reference guide or checklist when editing and uploading your next big release.

Best .99c I’ve sent in a long time.

Rage Against the Indie is FREE for Kindle today.

Rage Against the Indie, FREE on Amazon Today Only

Rage Against the Indie, FREE on Amazon Today Only

My Predictions for The Walking Dead Season Three Finale

The Walking Dead (season 2)

The Walking Dead (season 2) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Season Three of The Walking Dead is well underway and has taken quite a turn from Season Two.  Thanks again to that noble pack of zombies for running the gang off Hershel’s ridiculous farm (where a bountiful yield of boredom was harvested every Sunday night).  Now we’re jumping back and forth between prison and the Governor’s paradise Woodbury.

Andrea is banging the Governor, who keeps severed zombie heads alive in fish tanks and slaughters more of the living than the dead.  He also has a zombie daughter or niece whom he tucks into bed every night.

Michonne is defying the laws of physics with her big sword Kill Bill-style.  She’s spent the entire season pacing at a distance, suspicious of the ground beneath her feet.  If the show’s producers decide to kill her off, you might as well stop watching because The Walking Dead will officially make no sense whatsoever.

The best news of the season yet is the absurd death of Lori by baby extraction.  Of course, everything comes at a price, and for two episodes we had to watch Rick throw a little psychological fit and start talking to his dead wife on the phone.  Why?  Because Rick is a big baby who needs attention.  And when big babies don’t get enough attention, they invent imaginary friends.  Never mind the fact that he has a real baby in desperate need of some formula before it has a bloody change of appetite and starts chomping at Daryl’s trigger finger.

Oh, Daryl, that’s right.  The Walking Dead actually has a character who matters.

Okay, now that we’re up to date, here are my predictions for the remainder of the season:

Tonight’s episode opens with a dark figure emerging from the bushes outside the walls of Woodbury.   Merle is running his mouth to two guys standing guard for the night and they catch a glimpse of the dark figure.  Scanning the area with their rifle scopes, none of the men see Dexter Morgan appear behind them with three syringes.  He stabs Merle in the heart just before letting him fall over the wall to be eaten by walkers.  The other two men, Dexter disarms and leaves unconscious but in safety.

Before killing the Governor with his zombie heads as witnesses, Dexter derails for two episodes on a half-sentimental sexcapade with Michonne in which small pieces of their cold outer shells are chipped away as they awkwardly bang each other.  (Both shows are soap operas in this regard.)

With the Governor and Merle dead, Dexter welcomes the arrival of Al Swearengen, who becomes the new leader of Woodbury, now called Deadwoodbury.

Walter White from Breaking Bad arrives shortly thereafter with news of his recent discovery: the zombie outbreak was sparked by his blue methamphetamine.  Dexter moves immediately to kill him, but Swearengen stops him just in time to ask if Walter can concoct a cure.

The episode ends with Jimmy McNulty from The Wire, so drunk he starts hitting on a female zombie.

That’s how it’ll go down.  Guaranteed.

What Are You Reading?

I’m reading three books right now: Slammed by Colleen Hoover, The World According to Monsanto by Marie-Monique Robin, and my unfinished manuscript Prettiest When It’s Dying, which I hope to release in the coming weeks.  The other two I plan to review when finished.

What books have you read this year?  Anything you’d recommend as a Christmas gift?  I’d love it if you’d give the genre and a “People who liked _______ would like this book” descriptor.

Christmas Recommendations–Music

English: This is a photograph of rapper Hopsin...

English: This is a photograph of rapper Hopsin in his basement recording studio. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Kylie and I put up a single run of Christmas lights across the front wall of our apartment.  We also bought and wrapped our first presents.  The holiday spirit haunts us early this year.  We even have a gingerbread candle burning on the table.

Thanksgiving is coming up in two days, and I don’t know if you participate in the Black Friday riots to kick off the nationwide pre-Christmas shopping spree, but we’re doing another free promotion for Book One on Tuesday and Wednesday of next week.  If you know anyone with a Kindle, feel free to recommend it to them.

I’ve been drinking strawberry wine from the farmer’s market tonight, so I thought this would be a good time to give some recommendations for Christmas gifts.  I’m going to do this as much as possible until the year is over, with emphasis on things I’ve discovered this year.  Let’s start with music . . .

Two Recommended Albums

Up From Below by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros


I’ve discovered two new and exciting musicians this year, both up-and-comers, largely (or completely) independent, and completely different from one another.

The first is Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, a folk, blues, rock, hippie band in no way represented by these genre tags.  Kylie and I saw them live with two friends at Iroquois Amphitheater in Louisville a few months ago.  The only other band I’ve ever seen who delivers such a crisp performance while seamlessly changing tempo, improvising, jamming, etc., is the Dave Matthews Band.

The front man of the group, Alex Ebert, shares the stage with his wife, Jade Castrinos.  Wait, this is the internet.  I can just embed a YouTube video.  And I know what I’m going to pick.  Their David Letterman performance of “Man on Fire” from their newest album Here:

My other recommendation is Hopsin, a completely self-produced rapper who even makes his own music videos.  Hopsin raps in a way that makes you feel like he’s speaking to you directly.  He raps in conversation, in speeches.  It’s quite unique.  He also acknowledges what the music industry has done to rap music and seeks to have a positive influence on others through poignant and revealing parody.

Here is an example of what Hopsin is all about.  It’s called “The Ill Mind of Hopsin 5” and again, I warn you, this music contains explicit language and adult themes.  Please do not click play if you are one who is easily offended:

What do you think of these guys?

My Guest Post on Self-Publishing

Today author Red Tash, who recently interviewed me for, published an article I wrote for her blog on the subject of self-publishing.  Check it out!

the object hovering over the louisville kentucky skyline

Get Your Copy of The Object: Book One

We begin the serialization of Book Two in May 2013.  Check back for some exciting announcements about a new dynamic we’ll be introducing to the reading experience.

In the meantime, download the book!

the object hovering over the louisville kentucky skyline

The Object: Book One, Kindle Edition

For Paperback

Please share this post and tell everyone you know about The Object!

Thoughts on The Walking Dead

English: Intertitle from the AMC television pr...

English: Intertitle from the AMC television program The Walking Dead (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Sunday night, we all saw the aftermath of Lori’s death by Cesarian section: Rick is turning into Captain Kurtz from Heart of Darkness.  Or the Anton Chigurh of zombie-killers.  I find myself holding strong to my feeling that if the camera would simply pan away from this terrible character, the show would be a lot more interesting.  Shane and Lori are dead.  That’s two out of three.  Now someone needs to off Rick.

Another problem I have with this show is that it has a lead character at all.  Really?  In the zombie apocalypse, where survivors are of random selection based upon skill, timing, and luck, why does anyone deserve to be the front man?  Why not give the characters more equal time like HBO’s The Wire?

I don’t mean to dishearten fans of the show.  I do enjoy the atmosphere, some of the plot, and some of the characterizations, but The Walking Dead succeeds in pissing me off more than anything else.

Why did T-Dog have to die?  You introduce a new black guy into the story and you have to kill the old one off?  The American public won’t tune in otherwise?  You’re telling me that in the deep south, a group of survivors who band together during a zombie apocalypse will be a near all-white crowd?  Seriously?

T-Dog was a sturdy character who never got his due share of camera time.  He was one person the group really needs–just as I thought the group really needed Dale.

But no, they die, and we get to focus on Rick turning a world of zombies into his own persona soap opera.

Now the Governor is a character I can get into . . .

Bittersweet Comics by Justin Comley

Bittersweet Comics Volume 1

Bittersweet Comics


Justin Comley


man beating wife comic, art by justin comley

Copyright Justin Comley, 2012.


depressed man driving off cliff comic, art by Justin Comley

Copyright Justin Comley, 2012.


cat and buttered toast challenge comic, art by Justin Comley

Copyright Justin Comley, 2012.


brick wall around my heart comic, art by Justin Comley

Copyright Justin Comley, 2012.


jerk spoiling movie endings comic, art by Justin Comley

Copyright Justin Comley, 2012.

Pieces of Barry on a Coathanger

Contrary to what the title might imply, our beloved attorney Barry Schafer is not dead.  Strips of his flesh do not currently dangle from a coat hanger.  He’s alive and well and, as you know, about to unleash Hell upon the city of Louisville, if anyone is left alive for Book Two at all.  No, “Pieces of Barry” is an old short story.  Today I’m experiencing a little nostalgia after receiving a message from Matt saying he’d dug up some of the old recordings from the band we formed in high school and

uploaded one to Soundcloud.  That got me thinking about all the time I used to spend holed up in my attic-space bedroom cranking out short story after short story, only breaking to strap on a bass guitar and go make terrible noises with my friends, who were much better musicians than me.

Ceramic gun art by David Hellman

Recent work by David Hellman. Photo Copyright David Hellman, 2012.

Matt and I started a band in high school with our friend David Hellman, an amazing drummer who now has a master’s degree in ceramic arts.  We’ve all been friends for years.  In the summer of 2009, I rented a room from David for three weeks while I attended an advanced writing workshop at Western Kentucky University under the instruction of Pulitzer Prize-finalist Lee Martin.  A lot of Sailor Jerry’s rum bottles turned up empty during that time.

David and Matt were and still are serious musicians.  I was only in the band to pluck away a simple bass line.  I was writing my first novel at the time and wasn’t serious about playing music.  Still, we had a lot of fun.

This is the song Matt uploaded to Soundcloud.  It’s called “A Crash Downstairs” and is purely instrumental.  Remember, we were just kids.  Haha.

But our collaborative efforts didn’t stop with tape-recording our underdeveloped songs on my back deck or at night in the daycare David’s mom owned and operated.

Matt and I also wrote a short story together in high school, taking turns writing exactly one page apiece, sometimes leaving a sentence unfinished, until one of us brought it to conclusion.

stack of short stories by Winston Emerson

Stack of old stories.

“Pieces of Barry” told the tale of a man whose wife cheated on him with an attorney named Barry, who also turned out to be an alien.

When we started to develop the idea for The Object, I had no recollection of this link: that two projects Matt and I worked on together, ten years apart from one another, share a character named Barry, an attorney.

Now I’m sitting here in front of a stack of short stories six inches thick.  It’s been quite a while since I looked through them all.  Maybe I should go through them, find one I’m not ashamed to let people read, and post it on here by taking photos of every page.

Want to read a story I wrote in high school?  Let me know and I’ll start rooting through them.  I may even pick a few, give you a synopsis, and let you vote on which one you want to see.

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like . . .

Here in Kentucky, we’re really starting to feel the change of the season.  Fall goes by so quickly and then suddenly snow starts hitting regions closer and closer to you, until finally something like this happens:

“He shut the living room light and crossed the room and wiped the frost from a window and peeked out.  Darkness so thick he couldn’t see the ground.  Snow fell in heavy curtains and it whisked and spun and danced and away it flitted formless into the void.  If eyes are out there in the windswept dark they see now a dull maroon square quivering in the air like a harvest moon and in that square a shadow small and black and entire.  The shadow begins at once to swell and dissolve of its form as its referent moves on.  Finally the light snuffs out of the darkness and there is nothing.” — A Circle in the Woods

The weather has me thinking a lot about A Circle in the Woods because this time last year I was racing to finish the book in time to submit it to the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest.

A lot of people on Facebook are posting daily status updates to note the things for which they are thankful and earn their slice of turkey come Thanksgiving.  I don’t read most of them, nor do I participate, but with so many cool things going on in my life, I suppose it’s proper to give my own shout out to the cosmos for aligning the world so perfectly these past few months.

Last year, I had no writing career whatsoever.  My life has changed dramatically.  I can feel myself getting closer and closer to being a full-time writer, and I have many people to thank for that, from the folks at Ereader News Today to my author cohorts like J. Eric Laing, from bestselling author Colleen Hoover to author/blogger Jeff Bennington.  All my friends and family who put up with my constant book talk.  The good people at Authonomy.  Matt and Justin.  Lots of people have helped me get to this point as a writer.

I’ve decided to do a Christmas Giveaway, which will include books, prints, and, if we get things aligned in time, some other cool stuff we’re cooking up.  If you’d like to be entered to win, all you have to do is comment here and say so.  You’ll also want to subscribe to the blog so you’ll be notified when I post the winners.

In the meantime, I’ll be mixing eggnog and Sailor Jerry’s spiced rum, with a little cinnamon and nutmeg sprinkled on top.


Need a Christmas gift for your reader friend?

Try The Object: Book One

Introducing “Bittersweet Comics”, a New Series at The Object

Bittersweet Comics by Justin Comley

Bittersweet Comics coming soon to The Object

Introducing Bittersweet Comics by Justin Comley

In 2009, The Object’s illustrator, Justin Comley, began working on a hand-drawn comic series called Bittersweet Comics.  Dark, disturbing, often hilarious, Justin would appear now and again with a few new frames to show his friends.  We all loved them, but with no idea how to make them available to more people, he moved on to other projects.

Luckily, his good friend and second cousin–yours truly–has devised a way to bring Justin some much-deserved exposure, so I’m happy to announce that we’ve got something new for you guys while you await Book Two: Bittersweet Comics, which we plan to post every Monday, indefinitely.

Bittersweet Comics are short, hand-sketched comic strips similar to those in the Sunday paper, only the content is intended for an adult audience.  The stories or images depict heartbreak, anger, frustration, and injustice, but not without a sprinkle of humor and hope.

We must warn you in advance that the subject matter can be pretty grim.  If you keep your reading and viewing content to a PG-13 level or lower, you might want to skip these posts.  Otherwise, we hope you enjoy them.  Stay tuned for the first ever Bittersweet Comics posting, coming up today!

A little about Justin:

Justin and I met as students of Western Kentucky University, both living in Pearce Ford Tower, the tallest dorm in Kentucky at 27 floors.  Eventually we got an apartment together, along with our horticulturist friend Rick Heavrin, who is now the head gardener at a famous author’s house.  (I actually went to visit him over the weekend.  Didn’t get to meet the famous author, tough.)  After living together for several months, Justin and I found out we’re actually second cousins.

His artwork ranges from landscapes to monsters of his creation to commissioned illustrations to the human form.

Justin featured in the Bowling Green Daily News

Justin’s blog: Trevor Inkwell

self-portrait using cardboard by Justin Comley

Copyright Justin Comley, 2012.


All images Copyright Justin Comley, 2008-2012.

"Homo Devoro" skull art by Justin Comley

“Homo Devoro”

"Ballerina" art by Justin Comley


waterfall art by Justin Comley


Behemoth underwater creature art by Justin Comley


skull and crawdad, book photo for A Circle in the Woods, Justin Comley

“Grave and Refuge”

plague doctor art by Justin Comley

“Plague Doctor”

The Object Interviews Author Paul Freeman

The Object’s author interview series continues with Paul Freeman, who’s here to tell us about his new book,  Tribesman.  Mr. Freeman also talks about why authors shouldn’t be afraid to self-publish, his experience on Authonomy (a popular online writer’s community), and is favorite scene from the new book.

author Paul FreemanWELCOME, PAUL FREEMAN!

Author of Tribesman

Winston: Tell us a little about yourself.  What made you decide to be a writer?

Paul: Well I’m from Dublin Ireland. I like to think I am a warrior, adventurer, and zombie hunter. All in my own head of course, but hey, it’s a fun place to be. Tribesman is my first novel to be published, it is an epic fantasy based around love, loss, betrayal and of course adventure. I have also recently signed a contract with Spore Press who will be releasing a horror novel I wrote with three other writers called, Season of the Dead, in spring 2013. A little while ago I was asked to contribute a short story to a steampunk anthology being published by a new press, Kristall Ink. That anthology is now out, it is called Strange Tales From The Scriptorium Vaults. I’d never written steampunk before, so as well as a challenge, that was a lot of fun.

To answer the second part, I’m not sure if I ever made a conscious decision to be a writer, it just sort of happened. As a kid I was always making up stories, and games, it was just a natural progression I suppose.

Winston: Who are some of your favorite authors?  Do you see some of their inspiration in your own work?

Paul: Oddly enough, although I do write fantasy, I don’t read all that much of it. Of the fantasy writers I’ve been inspired by I think David Gemmell stands out by a mile. I’ve also taken a lot of inspiration from mythology and ancient history. Anything to do with swords and magic and you have me hooked. I’m a big fan of Historical fiction, among my favourites are Bernard Cornwell and Robert Low. If even a touch of their style and class has rubbed off on me I will be more than delighted.

 Winston: You’re a member of the HarperCollins writing community  What was your experience like there?

Paul: I had a very positive experience on Authonomy. When I first joined and uploaded my novel, Taxi, I was very green, and new very little about the publishing world. Not just writing technique, but more mundane things like correct formatting, how to approach agents and publishers, or not to as the case may be. I made a lot of friends through the site, learned a hell of a lot from them, and realized there are thousands upon thousands of people just like me all over the world. I also learned that everybody has an opinion, and that while it is great to get advice, and share knowledge, knowing which to take and who to trust is key.

On a more practical level, to the best of my knowledge I am still the only person to have made the ‘editors desk’ with two books in the same month. In fact while on my way to the desk I was approached by three publishers asking me to submit Tribesman, one of them eventually offered me a contract. No offers for Taxi, although it received a very positive review from Harper Collins.

Winston: Tell us a little about Tribesman, how it came to be, and what kinds of readers would enjoy it.

Paul: Tribesman is an, old school, epic fantasy, with a grittier edge. I love adventure stories, and Tribesman is an adventure. A warrior banished from his homeland because of a dark deed, sets out upon a mission to rescue a merchant’s daughter. Along the way he meets a girl from a race of desert nomads, together they battle demons, men, and the warrior’s own dark god, bent on controlling him.

I like my heroes to be flawed, to forever balance on the edge between dark and light, and that is what Culainn is, a complex hero with a code of honour that may not always match the values of others. In real life bad things happen to good people, and good people do bad things, so it is in what I write.

I think anyone who enjoys a good story and seeks escapism, From Lord of the Rings fans, and Robert E Howard, through David Gemmell, to fans of Brent Weeks and George RR Martin will like Tribesman.

Winston: Describe your favorite scene from the book and tell us why it sticks out to you.

Paul: In Tribesman, the war god of the north, Culainn’s homeland, is called Morrigu. I based her loosely on a figure from Celtic mythology, The Morrigan. She can take any shape but prefers that of an old crone, or a dark raven. In one particular scene, Culainn is helping defend a town from an attack by an army of desert nomads. The besiegers break into the town and kill everyone but Culainn.  He is in the town square surrounded by his enemies, when a raven swoops down and lands on a body at his feet. I have a really strong visual of that scene, I’d love to see it played out in film.

 ~ ~ ~ ~

Out of nowhere a raven swooped down and stood proud on top of a corpse at the warrior’s feet. It pecked at a gaping wound in the chest extracting a long crimson string. With the morsel hanging from its beak it flapped its wings and flew up to perch on the snarling warrior’s shoulder. He could see fear mixed with awe cross the faces of the nomads. The white sea parted then, leaving a gap for a dark shadow-like figure to float through. The mage. Culainn spat and waited.

“They fear you and what protects you,” the bald mage rasped, his emotions hidden. He brought a long tube up to his lips and blew into it. Culainn felt a sting on his cheek, like an insect bite. And then he was falling.

He tumbled through the darkness. An image materialized of a warrior armored in a chainmail shirt, his face a mask of horror covered in blood, his hair matted to his head in gore, his arms soaked red from his enemies. A sword in each hand, on his shoulder perched a raven, croaking a triumphant song of defiance. He knew the warrior, recognised the face that would strike terror into the hearts of all men. His name was death.

Warrior born.

~ ~ ~ ~

Winston: You went with Cogwheel Press to publish Tribesman.  How has your experience been with this small press publisher?

Paul: Pretty good. I went in with my eyes open. I understood a small publisher would never be in a position to give the same sort of marketing and distribution support as a major publisher. Obviously the ultimate goal would be to see the book on bookshelves around the world, but it’s a start and I realize most of the marketing will be down to me. However it’s a great boost to have a publisher albeit a small one prepared to put their money behind you, to have faith in you and your work. The contract I have is also a lot more generous than I would ever get from a major publisher, of course that is all relative, but yeah I’m happy with them. The small group of authors and editors we have are like a family, all supporting one another. Hopefully we can all grow together.

Winston: The publishing world has changed a lot in the past couple of years with advancements in self-publishing, so much that for the first time ever independent authors are attaining success.  What’s your opinion on self-publishing?  Yay or nay?

Paul: Yay for sure. I think it’s great that so much control is now in the hands of authors, they no longer need to stuff their jiffy envelope with reams of paper and wait six months or longer on a yes or no from an agent or publisher. It’s also great for readers. Now the market can decide what it likes, not a bunch of faceless executives following or inventing trends. On the downside, it means there are a lot of vanity projects that maybe would not have otherwise being published, but I think in time it will balance out and the quality will show. I’ve read some fantastic books by self-published authors, including Circle in the Woods, I might add. Eric Laing springs immediately to mind and several others. There’s a lot of rubbish out there too, but there’s a lot of rubbish put out by publishers also.  I think the cream will rise to the top.

Winston: Where should our readers go if they want to learn more about you and stay updated on your new releases?

Paul: You can follow my blog for updates and occasional short stories I post, find me on GoodreadsFacebook, and Twitter, or be really nice and buy me on Amazon. At the moment Tribesman is only available for Kindle, but should be out in paperback by the end of November.

Tribesman on

Tribesman on

Winston: Thanks for taking the time to talk with us here at The Object.  We’ll leave you with one final question related to our particular area of focus: do you believe in aliens?


Paul: Yeah sure. Maybe not as in little green men in spaceships, but I’m sure somewhere out there, there is a planet with life, maybe they are more advanced, or maybe on a par, or even behind us. But I’m sure there is life out there somewhere. It would feel kind of lonely otherwise.


Tribesman, a novel by Paul Freeman

Tribesman, available on Amazon