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.

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

Download A Circle in the Woods Free, Win Money

Download A Circle in the Woods Free on Amazon, Today Only, 10/04/2012

Yes, Another Competition

Today I’m running a free promotion on Amazon for A Circle in the Woods and I’d like to take this opportunity to launch yet another contest, the winner of which (if there is one) will receive $100.00, a signed copy of A Circle in the Woods, and a Mystery Prize, to honor the nature of the book.

A Circle in the Woods is free today only, so get your copy now.  It’s also available in paperback, if you’re old-fashioned and want to donate to my small royalty check.

If you’ve read A Circle in the Woods, you know it’s a very strange and mysterious book that leaves a lot to the imagination and puts the burden of what the hell happened in the end on the reader’s shoulders.  Many of you may be left with the feeling that there’s an underlying truth to the story.

Well, there is.  Your job in this competition is to tell me that truth:

Who is Phil Stapleton?  What’s he all about?  What does he want from Brittany?  What became of them in the end?

It’s not necessary that you answer each question specifically.  What’s necessary is that you give me an accurate interpretation of the story as a whole.

When someone’s accuracy blows me away, that person will receive $100.00, a signed copy of A Circle in the Woods, and the Mystery Prize.

Use the form below to submit your response.  Good luck.


P.S.–Don’t forget to download your free copy.



Book Giveaway, Character Contest Updates

A boy and his turtle, from A Circle in the Woods

Excerpt from A Circle in the Woods

As we’ve surpassed 10,000 views, we’re anxious to give away some books, but so far only five people have signed up.  If you’re interested in a free paperback copy of A Circle in the Woods, just enter your name and email address in the form provided on this post.

As to The Object Character Contest, we also only have five entries.  The entry round for this contest runs until October 1st or until we receive 20 characters.  There are still plenty of spots open, so if you have a character in mind for The Object and like winning money, go to this post to enter.

We’re working hard to get Episode Nine up and available tonight.  I know some of you have expressed an eagerness to see the story moving along at more frequent pace.  Feel free to encourage, hustle, or shout at me.


Nearing 10,000 Views, Time for a Book Giveaway

I’m borrowing this idea from a few other authors.  As I write this post, The Object has had 9,919 views, and I’d like to celebrate by giving away a few copies of A Circle in the Woods.  Here’s how we’ll do it:

Nominate yourself to win a copy by entering your name and email address in the forms below.

I’ll compile a list of entrants into a voting poll.

You will then compete with everyone else to garner as many votes as you can.  I haven’t decided how many books I’ll give away, but the winners will be those with the most votes.

Who’s in?

Some Exciting News

Last Thursday I was contacted by a senior agent at a very reputable New York literary agency.  This agent had downloaded one of my books from Amazon, read it, and enjoyed it enough to email asking me to share any of my current projects with her.

This is a first for me.  I’ve only queried three or four agencies over the past 10 years, and this wasn’t one of them.  Rather, self-publishing brought me enough exposure that my book naturally fell into the right hands.  Whether anything good will come of it, I can’t predict, but it’s pretty damn exciting.

Since the agent read a book published under my pseudonym, she doesn’t know about my other book, which I believe is much better and much more commercially viable.  What’s great is I may be in a position to get a guaranteed full read from her.

Good luck, A Circle in the Woods.  I hope she likes you.


Louisville, Kentucky

What Would You Change About This World?

People who spend time with me regularly in person know I have a tendency to ramble on and on about how to make the world a happier, safer, and more sustainable place.  In an upcoming interview for another blog, I was asked what I would change about the United States given the opportunity and resources.

I have lots of ideas, some of which I may share later, but for now I’d like to pose the same question to you guys.  We’ll keep it about the world as a whole.  What would you change about it if you could?

Looking forward to your responses.  Maybe we can get an interesting discussion going.


P.S.–As so often happens, Episode Eight is late.  I’ve almost finished it, so don’t expect to wait much longer.  Tomorrow evening is a possibility.  It’s been a grueling month at work.

P.S.S.–I have an exciting announcement coming up later in the week.  For those of you who’ve committed to putting up with my frequent tardiness, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by a new aspect of The Object blog soon to be unveiled.

P.S.S.–Check back on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, because I’m giving nearly all my books away for free on those days.

Thanks to everyone who’s been tweeting and sharing The Object!  Keep it up!

notes for The Object, Louisville, Kentucky

Need Help From My Readers

Let me start off by letting you know I’ve decided to finish Book One of The Object and make it available on Amazon in August.  Lucky for you, I’ll be announcing its first free promo day ahead of time, and if you’ve subscribed for email notifications, you’ll be able to snag a copy.

I’m hoping the availability of The Object: Book One will drastically increase participation on this blog during the serialization of Book Two so we can begin to utilize some of the cool contests and events I’ve been planning, including a character contest, a chance to vote for a character to be killed, and even an episode in which you get to decide what happens.

From this point forward, new episodes will be posted regularly–yes, on schedule, for a change–until the official release of Book One.

While I’m writing and releasing episodes of Book Two, I also plan to begin another novel, and here’s where I need your help.  I’d like to give you the tentative title and a brief description of the stories I’m currently outlining and have you vote for which one you’re most interested in reading.

Here they are.  Thanks for taking a moment to help me make up my mind!


Inside–A futuristic novel in which all of human civilization exists in an indoor facility.  The story follows a young male protagonist living in and working from a one-room cell who suddenly finds himself being led by the hand into the elite class of citizens who enjoy luxuries he never imagined, only to discover a dark, hidden truth about what the world has become.  This endeavor is more in the vein of A Circle in the Woods than The Object.

Control–A three-book series about a teenage girl who gets kidnapped from a concert and taken to a secluded mansion deep in the woods, where she meets a group of people all too familiar to her: they’re all celebrities, people she sees on TV every day, and they want something from her.  This will be geared towards a mainstream audience.

Prettiest When It’s Dying–This book is over halfway complete.  It follows Jimmy Sharp, a high school student living in rural Kentucky who spends his weekends in the woods digging ginseng.  One day he wanders a little too far and comes upon two young girls living in a tree house in the woods behind their grandfather’s farm.  They’re both malnourished, exposed to the elements, and subject to constant physical abuse.  What’s worse, Jimmy finds out the girls have been placed there to guard the largest marijuana operation in the history of the state, and when he tries to help them escape, he discovers just how many people in his small town have a hand in the business–and how much they don’t want things disturbed.  This novel is thematically and atmospherically similar to The Drought.

Untitled–A young genius living on a 1,000 acre farm he inherited from his dead parents discovers the world is going to end in about ten years, and he decides not to tell anyone about it.


Vote for Your Favorite

Free Book Alert–A Circle in the Woods

I’ve made A Circle in the Woods free for Kindle today.  Grab it while you can:

In a place where people have been disappearing for years, a little girl gets lost in the woods. Meet the man who saves her life.

On a late summer morning in 1958, Phil Stapleton discovers and rescues five-year-old Brittany Duncan after she spends two days lost deep in the Kentucky woods. Two months later, when a tree branch crashes through the rickety trailer where Brittany lives, Phil takes the girl and her mother under his roof. What follows is a decade of mystery, terror, violence, and tragedy, with no escape in sight.

A Circle in the Woods employs an experimental approach to storytelling.  With limited punctuation, a snapshot plot structure, and mystery at every turn, its technique will either deliver you an enriching, spellbinding experience or send you running for the hills.

Take a peek, and decide for yourself: Who is Phil Stapleton?

Get A Circle in the Woods on Amazon for free.


A Circle in the Woods FREE today

A Circle in the Woods is free again today for Kindle, so go download it before I cry.

Also, you probably noticed that I didn’t post Episode Six last night.  The cable shorted out on my laptop two days ago and the computer died shortly thereafter.  That’s put me behind in finishing the episode, but I’ll have it up soon.

Now go download my book.

Circle Free; Also, Help Kill Ted

Tomorrow and Tuesday (May 7th & 8th), A Circle in the Woods will once again be free on Amazon.

My goal is to give away even more books than I did last time, so I need all the help I can get.  Please share this post on your Facebook, Twitter, etc., or just copy and paste the link to the book itself.  More readers of A Circle in the Woods could mean more readers of The Object.

So head on over to Amazon and download a free copy of A Circle in the Woods, and when you’re done with that, tell everyone you know about it.

In the meantime, for those of you who are caught up on The Object, take a vote on what should happen to Ted in Episode Six:



Free Kindling! You Must Haul!

I shouldn’t have to explain how many ways that title is funny.

On March 20th and 21st, I’m running a Free Promo for A Circle in the Woods, my weird and twisted mystery thriller literary masterpiece.  Please, even if you don’t own a Kindle, go to Amazon on one of these two days and download a copy.  The more downloads Circle gets, the higher it climbs on the Freebie charts, which will result in even more downloads.  More free downloads = more sales later.

In the meantime, why don’t you tell me which of these covers you like the best:

A Crawdad in the Eye Socket

A Brittany in the Woods

Super Sad Face Brittany