RIP author Tom Piccirilli

51NDJGDIDML._SX303_BO1,204,203,200_Yesterday, the fans of dark genre fiction lost a huge, talented voice when Tom Piccirilli passed away from brain cancer.

Like most of the horror authors I read, I never had the chance to meet him, but other authors (Brian Keene, Jeff Strand, et al) have remarked on what a kind, generous man he was. He was especially known for his encouragement of new writers and for his breadth of work. While he started out in horror, he branched out into dark fantasy, crime dramas, mysteries, and even westerns – sometimes mixing genres (always with dark themes). He won the Bram Stoker award four times.

Piccirilli’s list of works is extensive, but so far I’ve only read four: November Mourns, Headstone City, The Dead Letters, and A Choir of Ill Children. The latter is cited as a classic example of southern gothic horror and is my favorite. Like much of his work, it relies heavily on themes of loss, family, and secrets. Some readers may find his depiction of severely physically-deformed individuals disturbing, but Piccirilli uses such imagery to reveal the ugliness of the human soul. I once read in an interview that Piccirilli himself did not quite understand why he often featured children who did not fit society’s definition of “normal.”

I first encountered Piccirilli in a book review section of “Talebones” – a quarterly horror/dark fantasy magazine that ran for several years in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. If my memory is correct it was a review of A Choir of Ill Children. So I’d like to thank “Talebones” editor Patrick Swenson for introducing me to him and his work. While there will be no new works forthcoming, I look forward to catching up on Piccirilli’s other works.

Condolences to his wife, Michelle.

Experiments in Marketing

Following the advice that “Twitter sells books” I have been concentrating on developing marketing campaigns to advertise my short story collections available on Amazon Kindle.

There’s something for everyone: horror & dark fantasy and erotica (okay…smut! smutty smut!)

I’ve been trying to create enticing blurbs that highlight either the collection (as a whole) or individual stories within the collections to pull readers in. It has been working – to a degree. I’ve been making some money, but it’s still just pizza and beer money.

Therefore, I’d be interested in any feedback my readers care to offer as to whether you think my blurbs are interesting. Do they at least make you click on the links to look?

For example, to advertise my horror/dark fantasy collection, “Skin and Bones” I’ve tweeted the following pertaining to individual stories:

1) Ancient taboos collide in “Bones in the Fire”

2) Zombie insects? Find out in “Zombitos”

3) The buzzing sound died; maybe the bugs had busted his eardrum. Then he heard chewing noises inside his brain. (From “Zombitos”)

4) She did not stop the cat as it ran past, an eye clamped in its teeth. (From “Third”)

5) And then her husband melted away…a stream trickling, then rushing, toward the sea from whence he came. (From “The Fisherman’s Wife”)

From my horror/comedy/political satire “Zombies and Aliens” (note: may offend you depending on your political affiliation):

1) “A Congressional Zombie Love Story”

2) Republicans v Democrats: whose brains taste better? (From “Prop Z”)

From one of my erotica collections (“The Box Quadrilogy”) (Adults only!)

The “Box Lunch Cafe” smelled not of burgers or fries, but of women.

Of course, I try not to bombard my twitter followers with constant “buy my books!” tweets. That’s a huge turn off. I also tweet about my other interests: cats, more cats, travel, zombie fiction, animal rights, environmental protections, space exploration, and even more cats, etc.

If you’d like, you can also follow me on Twitter @TheFarPlaces