Sunday, December 7, 2014

Pankhurst's Amazons

I was lucky enough to be offered an advance copy of the first installment of SUFFRAJITSU, a three part graphic novel by Tony Wolf and Joao Vieira, for review. In early twentieth century Britain the phrase “the battle of the sexes” took a literal turn when, after forty years of peaceful protests failed to gain women in the UK the right to vote, the suffragettes under Emmeline Pankhurst lost faith in words and began taking action. SUFFRAJITSU is an alternative history based on the true story of Pankhurst and “The Bodyguard,” her elite security force composed of kickass women trained in the martial arts.

A solid grounding in the actual events of the day makes for an excellent springboard into a tale of international intrigue and adventure. There’s a big twist in the first issue that moves the story from canonical to alternative history. I can’t tell you what it is, but I can tell you it left me breathless.  The artwork is fabulous, the storytelling tight. My greatest disappointment is that since I received the first issue early, I now have a longer wait than most for the next. SUFFRAJITSU debuts January 2015.

Learn more about the project here:

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

More Than Your Usual Hocus-Pocus


Okay, gang! The conclusion of the Witching Savannah trilogy debuted yesterday. I am both excited and terrified, as I tried to do something a wee bit different from the other "Urban Fantasy" series out there. Those of you who read UF regularly have probably picked up on that by now. 

THE LINE was the set-up, building a comfortable entry to the story, where enough well-worn tropes (the self-absorbed outsider young woman, the romantic entanglements) are present for a habitual reader of UF to feel she/he is in familiar territory. There are a few twists, a few hints that this sense of familiarity is every bit as much of a lie as one of Mercy's Liar's Tour tales, but nothing too jarring,

Then comes THE SOURCE, the bridge book, which honestly was my favorite to write.A healthy dose of actual history works its way in--Jack Parsons, Maria Orsic, the aviation hero whose name shall not be said as he has living descendants--these people were all real. One of them, Parsons, got up to some odd occult things. Maria and the flyboy were stains upon the soul of humanity. (And that is putting it mildly.) THE SOURCE addresses questions about the existence of things larger than ourselves. (And yes, most of my characters share my probably antiquated view that there is indeed something out there. Just because we can figure out some of the magic tricks, doesn't mean there is no magician.)

That brings us to THE VOID. I understand an early reader has described it as "bat shit crazy." That may actually be the best way to sum it up. Those well-worn tropes get ripped apart and set on fire as Mercy concludes her "hero's journey," and reality on every level gets questioned. Hence my terror. 

Still, I thank all of you who have taken this trip so far with Mercy and me. You should hang on to your hats, though, as it is a wild ride to the end.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Release Day

Today THE VOID, the conclusion of the Witching Savannah trilogy, was released. 2014 has been an incredible year with all three of the novels coming out in around a ten month period. I couldn't have asked for a better experience; it has been a dream come true.

I just want to take a moment to thank everyone who has come along for the ride with Mercy and me. So here's that moment. Get ready, 'cause I'm taking it.

Thank you!

In THE VOID, I hope you'll enjoy seeing all the final secrets uncovered and the final truths revealed. 

And for everyone who has been wondering just where in the he double toothpicks I came up with these crazy ideas, check out today's Kindle Post for a few clues.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Goodreads Choice Nomination

So pleased to be an official nominee in the Best Debut Author category in the 2014 Goodreads Choice Awards event. If you're so inclined to vote for me, please do!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Join me THIS THURSDAY 10/30 for A Murder of Authors

Join me THIS THURSDAY 10/30 for A Murder of Authors:

In addition to the chance to interact with all the great authors listed above, you'll also have the chance to win a Kindle Paperwhite of your very own (US + Canada only).

Monday, September 22, 2014

Guest Post by Charlie N. Holmberg

Occasionally you come across an idea that is so charming you wish you'd thought of it. Well, maybe I shouldn't say "you." Maybe I should own up to the fact that it is "I," and that I went totally green-eyed monster when I learned of the magical world Charlie N. Holmberg has created in her debut series. 

THE PAPER MAGICIAN, featuring Ceony Twill, is enchanting readers worldwide.  It's good enough to make me jealous, and that is about the highest commendation I can think of. :)   -- JDH

Collecting Criticism: Writing Groups vs Critique Partners

by Charlie N. Holmberg

Writing groups aren’t for everyone.


But hear me out.

When I say writing groups aren’t for everyone, I don’t mean that some writers don’t need criticism. Every writer needs criticism. Rowling and Brown and Martin and Patterson all need a second, third, and/or fourth pair of eyes on their work. But over the years I’ve noticed two models for critique: the writing group model and the critique-partners model. I personally started out with the first and have moved to the second with grand success.

So which model is right for you? Allow me to deconstruct them:

The Writing Group

The Writing Group is a very sociable setting, great for making friends and sharing cookies and just generally being loud. It’s like an in-depth book club.

·         Getting to hear group discussion on your work as though spying on a book club.
·         Acquiring a more social aspect to writing, which can be very isolating work.
·         Eliminating a lot of wait time. Everyone reads your manuscript at the same time and gives you feedback at the same time, so there are no gaps between critiques.
·         Real-time feedback. If you have a question, you can ask it and get an answer right away. No waiting on emails.
·         Keeping structure. At least, a writing group should have ground rules. Otherwise it’s chaos.

·         Disappearing into the crowd. If you tend toward introversion, it’s easy to get your voice swallowed up.
·         Defensive authors. A writer who won’t take criticism and defends their every word makes for an awkward meeting.
·         Lazy readers. Sometimes group members don’t stay on the ball, and you end up with only a portion of the feedback you were hoping for.
·         Possible embarrassment. Not everyone is tactful in a writing group. I once sat in on a writing group where a guy actually printed out a speech about why another member’s writing was terrible. Made her cry. It was awkward.
·         Scheduling problems. Finding fellow writers who can all meet at the same time and the same place can be a headache, especially if your group is online and you have to deal with time zones.

Critique Partners

Critique partners are fantastic if you don’t have fellow writers in your area. A few of mine I met online; others are friends from previous writing groups or from high school/college. It’s a great way to get feedback without changing out of your pajamas.

·         Having a wider range of people critiquing your work (since they don’t have to be local).
·         Receiving all your critiques pre-written for you. No note-taking; it’s all in the document. This also makes organizing the criticism a lot easier.
·         No scheduling required.
·         Picking and choosing your readers is a lot easier. If you use a critique partner you end up not liking, it’s simple to cut them out of the loop and use someone else; in a writing-group setting, if you don’t like someone’s critiques, you either have to deal with it or leave the group as a whole.

·         No community desserts.
·         There’s a lot more wait time. Some critique partners are really quick to get back to you, others aren’t. And sometimes you’re not sure if that email actually went through…
·         No group discussion. Someone may point out a problem, and if you want a second opinion on that opinion, you have more emails to write and more waiting to do.
·         You have to actually find each critique partner. Joining a writing group is a two-step process: find the group and join it. Finding the same number of readers you’d have in a writing group to use as critique partners is much more time-consuming because you have to seek out each one personally.
·         It’s less sociable.

So how do I do it?

I have about fifteen critique partners, which I suppose I could split into two “writing groups”—my alpha readers (fellow writers) and my beta readers (non-writing readers). My rough draft goes out to the first set of readers, and I make changes to my manuscript based on their comments as they filter through my email. That modified manuscript then goes out to my beta readers, and I incorporate their changes as well.

If you go the route of the critique-partners-model, I highly recommend using several of them. That way you get the varied feedback of a writing group, and if someone is too busy to read your stuff, you have others to fall back on.

Side note: If you’re one of those writers who won’t share your work for fear of others stealing it, you can always do a poor man’s copyright and email the manuscript to yourself. Don’t open the package when it arrives. The post office stamp will more or less keep your creative works yours.

Homegrown in Salt Lake City, Charlie was raised a Trekkie with three sisters who also have boy names. She writes fantasy novels and does freelance editing on the side. She’s a proud BYU alumna, plays the ukulele, and owns too many pairs of glasses.


Amazon purchase page:

Tuesday, September 2, 2014


WARNING: If you haven’t read THE SOURCE yet, the following contains a spoiler. Step away from the screen.

There. Give them a sec.

Okay, are those folk gone? Yes?

Good. I want to share a bit about Mercy and Jilo’s relationship—and my relationship with Jilo—and why Jilo had to die at the end of THE SOURCE.

A lot of what you see in the series was planned. A lot—including Jilo herself —wasn’t. When I started writing THE LINE, I knew where Mercy’s story would begin and where it would end. Or so I thought. I knew it would kick off with Ginny’s murder, and I knew it would end up very much near the place where THE VOID does end.  Still, everything in between those points? Phew. Not the same story at all.

Mercy started off with a different boyfriend, Daniel Trujillo, a soldier who had returned from a tour of duty in Afghanistan with a djinn on his back. This boyfriend hung around for four drafts before it hit me that he just didn’t want to be in the story, and that he was much more interested in Oliver than in Mercy anyway. (Cue sound of record needle scraping across a vinyl album.)

Martell was supposed to play a much greater role in THE LINE, serving as the northern, urban, African-American foil to Mercy’s entitled white southern belle. I didn’t meet Jilo until my fourth or fifth (maybe sixth) stab at writing THE LINE. I kept getting up to around page 150, and then the story would fall apart.

Jilo Wills was intended to be a toss out character, serving only to send frissons through the Taylors when her name got mentioned as they sat around the kitchen table discussing Martell and his possible involvement in Ginny’s murder. And then once again, I hit page 150. I knew there was a story in all this, I just didn’t know how to tease it out. I sat staring at the screen, not having a clue which way to write. Then I heard Jilo talking to me. Really. Full on auditory hallucination. “Jilo, she knows what happen here. You listen to her, boy. She tell you the story.” I knew I either needed to see a doctor or start typing fast. I let myself run with it.

As the story progressed, I could feel an emotional connection forming between Jilo and Mercy. They wanted to be friends. They wanted to look out for and protect each other. Now, here’s a little scoop on Miss Mercy: Mercy can be a difficult character to write, in the sense that if she doesn’t like what I’m doing, she will not participate. She will dig in her heels, with her arms crossed over her chest, and stare at me until I come up with something she likes. (And yes, I am completely aware how imbalanced that statement makes me sound, even if you are willing to overlook Jilo’s talking to me.) For example, THE VOID was supposed to begin with the Taylors having a little fun, time traveling to the last party at the Greenwich Plantation, a Savannah mansion that once rivalled the Biltmore Estate, until a short in a sewing machine sparked a fire that leveled it. The party got scrapped when I couldn't find a nice enough 1921 maternity dress for Mercy to wear to it. Seriously. Like it’s my fault that in the early 1920’s not enough pregnant women attended balls to have inspired designers to do maternity wear for such events.

Still, all I had to do to get Mercy to show up for a scene and deliver was to write Jilo into it.

After a while, I realized Mercy and I had both grown too dependent on the old woman of the crossroads. By the time I began writing THE SOURCE, every time Mercy encountered a difficulty, her first response was to turn to Jilo. (And every time I started to get bogged down in plot, my go-to idea was to bring Jilo in.) Jilo got very good at solving Mercy’s problems, and even better at solving mine.

The story was supposed to be Mercy’s hero’s journey, but Jilo grew into such a large character, even though I hated it, I knew I had to move her offstage. Otherwise, Mercy would never grow as a person, as it was too easy for her to run to Jilo. (And I would never grow as a writer, as…well, it was way too easy for me to run to Jilo, too.)

As I drew near the end of THE SOURCE, and I knew the death scene was coming, I started slacking off. Not getting it finished. Watching television or playing computer solitaire. Finally, I grabbed a box of tissues and set down to finish the story. Lordy, was this boy a mess by the end of the chapter! But I completed the book and sent it off to my publisher. Then, much to my horror, I realized I had committed to writing THE VOID without Jilo’s voice to guide me. Believe you me, it wasn’t easy finding that groove without Jilo’s voice to guide me.

WARNING: Spoiler for THE VOID follows.

Now, here’s the point where if you don’t want a spoiler for THE VOID, you should click away. (*Hums the Jeopardy theme.*)

Okay, so maybe it isn’t that much of a spoiler, but as I have told a few people who hate the idea of not seeing Jilo and Mercy together again, a little thing like dying is not gonna keep Mother Jilo down. I, too, wanted to give them one last chance to save the world together. So, you may not see Jilo show up when you expect to see her, or how you expect to see her, but in the end, when our girl Mercy really needs a shot of Jilo, Mother doesn’t let her down. And if you don’t like spoilers, but couldn’t resist reading this anyway, don’t worry, there are so many twists in THE VOID, this one little tidbit is just a drop in the bucket.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

It's been a month already?

Wow! It's been a month since I've been out to visit my own blog. It's been a wild few weeks in the old personal life, but I'll spare you those details. Outside of the mostly amazing things happening in my private life--Yes, I am now legally married!--a big part of the reason I haven't been blogging is that I have been writing.


After more than a year of trying to turn out SHIVAREE as a novella, I have finally given into the fact that it doesn't want to be a novella. So, with trepidation, I am letting it grow. You won't see it this year, as I had hoped, but fingers crossed there will be a much richer version of the story coming in 2015.


I am thrilled that my proposal for a 4th Witching Savannah book has been accepted. Mercy's story comes to a (hopefully satisfying) end in THE VOID, coming out on November 18th. The 4th book is scheduled to be released in in late 2015. Its working title, JILO (A WITCHING SAVANNAH PREQUEL), pretty much sums up what the story is about. JILO will be different from the other Witching Savannah books, though, in many ways, including a shift from 1st to 3rd person. We're going back in time, as it's set for the most part in the 1950's and early 1960's. While Savannah will still play an integral role in the book, the setting will include other parts of the Lowcountry (which gives me an excuse to make another visit under the guise of research). Will we see any of the Taylors? One or two, but no one whose played a major role in the series so far.


My short story, "Pretty Enough to Catch Her" is coming out as part of THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF SOUTHERN GOTHIC ROMANCE  in the United Kingdom in November and in the United States in January. 

Friday, July 25, 2014


I'm thrilled to reveal Patrick Arrasmith's latest wonder, the cover of the third Witching Savannah novel, THE VOID.


Book Three in the darkly magical Witching Savannah series.
An otherworldly energy runs through the city of Savannah, betraying its sleepy, moss-cradled charm. The old, beguiling streets look welcoming to most…but certain families know what lurks under their genteel surfaces. Families like Mercy Taylor’s, which has the most powerful lineage of witches in the South, know this all too well.

Mercy and her husband, Peter, are happily preparing to welcome baby Colin into their lives. But their excitement quickly becomes overshadowed by a gruesome discovery: someone has scattered severed limbs throughout the city. After a troubling visit from an old foe, Mercy learns dark magic is at play, and someone—or something—wants her and her unborn child out of the picture. To uncover the shocking reason why, the amateur witch must face a force beyond her power…or risk losing everything.

The third book in J.D. Horn’s Witching Savannah series, The Void is a gripping adventure about the enchantment—and evil—that can lie just beyond sight.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Dedication in THE SOURCE

For those of you asking about the "in loving memory of" dedication in THE SOURCE, this is the little man, Quentin Comfort Horn, to whom the book was dedicated.

Quentin was a rescue dog (although in truth, he was the one who rescued me), so I never knew his true age. I had the joy of knowing him for over twelve years. He was my little buddy, my travel companion--as you can tell from the number of Savannah photos I share featuring him--and my co-author. He sat on my lap for hours as we worked together on the Witching Savannah books.

Somewhat ironically, I lost him when I was about halfway through the first draft of the third and final book of the series (THE VOID), and wow, what a void his passing left in my life. Sometime after his yahrzheit, which I will observe and not care what anyone thinks,  I plan to honor his memory by going to a shelter and finding my next little Chihuahua monster.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Don't Steal My Work - Piracy is Theft

Yes, this posting is not my usual type of post. It is a rant. And a wake up call.

All you honest people out there, people who would never think of stealing someone's work by downloading it from an illegal  pirate site, please forgive my rant. 

For those of you who are choosing to download my work in audio or written formats from these bit torrent sites, YOU ARE STEALING. And you aren't stealing from a nameless, faceless corporation. YOU ARE STEALING FROM ME PERSONALLY. 

I spent a year of my life researching and writing THE SOURCE. So,  yeah, it makes me really angry to find people downloading it illegally.

I just stumbled across one of these pirate sites where one of the people who stole my work said how excited they were, as they had been waiting for THE SOURCE.  That positively boggles my mind. To think someone has been waiting with baited breath to rob me.

If you want to read or listen to THE SOURCE for free, GO TO YOUR LOCAL LIBRARY.

You need to realize that what you are doing is the same thing as walking into a store and shoplifting a book or a CD. No, wait. Actually what you are doing is worse, as it encourages theft on a scale no single shoplifter could ever achieve. 

So whatever rationalization you are using, realize you are not a good person. You are a thief. Plain and simple. 

Now you know, so cut it out.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Cover Reveal: SHIVAREE

So happy to share the cover of my upcoming novella, SHIVAREE. If all goes well, it should be available for your Kindle around mid-August.

About SHIVAREE (A Novella):
At the close of the Korean War, sturdy army nurse Corinne Ford turns her back on a troubled past to travel to rural Georgia and marry her battlefield sweetheart. Corinne soon learns she was not the first woman in her fiancé's life. The once exquisite Ruby, failed actress and dabbler in dark magic, had been brought back from Hollywood to her father's house, sick, broken, changed. Her death cleared the way for many who had wished that she had never returned. Soon, Corinne is confronted with evidence that her fiancé's first love is neither forgotten nor truly gone. Backlit by the Klan's burning crosses and scored by the cacophony of shivaree, a twist on the traditional wedding night abduction of the groom, SHIVAREE (A Novella) looks into a world where the monsters of folklore confront the monsters of history. SHIVAREE (A Novella) is a work of Southern Gothic Horror. 

Saturday, May 31, 2014


Image via Shutterstock, copyright bikeriderlondon

In celebration of the countdown till THE VOID's June 3rd release, here's another insight into the creation of the Witching Savannah series.

Peter was the third major character who didn’t appear in the (multiple) early drafts of THE LINE. The original story kicked off with the arrival of a certain Texan named Daniel Trujillo. Daniel, a veteran of the Iraq War came home with an unwanted and extremely nasty hitchhiker. When his local bruja realizes she is in over her head, she sends Daniel to Taylors Ferry, GA—see earlier post—to consult with Ginny Taylor. The only problem was Daniel did not want to be in THE LINE. At one point I wrote that he went to his room to rest. Five chapters later, he still wasn’t ready to come out and play, and the book was moving on without him.

While Daniel was napping, Wren insinuated himself into the story, and quickly made Daniel’s little demon problem superfluous. I struggled to entice Daniel into playing his intended role. It would have been a great part. Battling demons and winning Mercy’s heart. Still, no matter how hard I try to sell him on it, he wasn’t buying it. He started to make it clear that

               A)  He would prefer more scenes with Oliver.
                         (So much for the romance with Mercy.)
               B) He really did not want to be in the story. Period.

So it was farewell Daniel, so long Pazuzu. The story got stripped back to the bare bones. I had found my villain, so there was no grief there, but Mercy didn’t have her guy. After the dark intense stranger expressed more interest in Mercy’s uncle than in Mercy herself, I started toying with the idea of a childhood friend who was desperately in love with Mercy, but who hadn’t quite convinced her to make the leap from friend to lover. Peter, the quintessential boy next door, was born and quickly took root. He charmed me, and I realized he was indeed the type of guy Mercy could love—not just feel passion for, but really love.  Peter’s only problem was that he was too perfect. So perfect, in fact, that I had no idea what to do with him. I honestly thought about striking the character from the book, and trying again. Then he shared his secret with me. He wasn’t so perfect. He had gone to Jilo for a spell before Mercy ever considered it. I breathed a sigh of relief and committed to Peter. I think you will see how happy I am now that Peter made the cut. His story takes what is (hopefully) an unexpected and entertaining twist in THE SOURCE.

Friday, May 30, 2014

What’s up with that weird golem creature anyway?

Rabi Loew and Golem by Mikoláš Aleš
Image in Public Domain (Thanks, Wikipedia)

Continuing the celebration of the countdown till THE SOURCE's June 3rd release, here's another insight into the creation of the Witching Savannah series.

I don’t read reviews. At least I try not to. I have been told that reviews are intended for readers, not writers, so to preserve my sanity, I have subscribed to this view. Still occasionally a stray review slips through my defenses. One that made me chuckle had a comment than ran something along the lines of “What’s up with that weird golem creature anyway?” I’m sure it was intended rhetorically, but it made me reflect on my golem, Emmet, why I created him and why he grows into a major character in the Witching Savannah series.

To begin with, the golem comes to us from Jewish folklore. It is an inanimate body, usually formed from clay, that is brought to life brought to life through magic. Unlike Adam—the biblical one, not my handsome detective—who also, according to tradition, was formed from clay, the golem does not possess the essential spark of a soul. Emmet’s first name is derived from the Hebrew word for truth (emet), a word that plays an important role in some versions of the golem story. His last name, Clay, should be a bit more obvious in its origin.

In THE LINE, the character count jumps up quickly when Mercy’s cousins arrive for the drawing of the lots that will determine Ginny’s successor. Still, I wanted to include the other nine main loyal witch families in the affair, but I didn’t want to introduce nine new characters at that point. I found myself considering different ways to allow them to be present without actually being on scene. I found myself wishing there were some kind of vessel to carry them all in. For some reason, the way my brain is wired,  when I hear the word “vessel” I associate it with the word “clay.” I blinked as the synapses fired, then realized I could house the awareness of the families’ representatives in a golem.

So I began writing the scene where the golem rises from Savannah’s sandy gray soil. It was to appear in a couple of scenes, then dissolve back into the earth. Then—out of nowhere—the golem started flirting with Mercy. I kept writing with one hand poised on the delete key. It was odd, but I could sense fire between Mercy and this artificial man. That alone would have merited keeping Emmet around, but I realized what a perfect mirror he would make for Mercy, if something were to occur to turn him into a “real boy,” and he has to learn about being human while Mercy learns about being a witch. So at the end of THE LINE, I wrote it so  that the magic of the line molds Emmet into a unified personality. Just like with my other “toss out” character, Mother Jilo Wills, Emmet, pushed himself onto the page, and I fell in love with him.  

In THE SOURCE, we see how Emmet (and his devotion to Mercy) grows.  I’ll leave it there for now as any more than that would be heading into spoiler territory.  So that, dear reader, is what is up with that weird golem creature.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Liar’s Tour of Savannah

The beautiful Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist of Savannah
 (no lie, the inside is even more beautiful than the exterior)

Only 5 days until The Source, book two of the Witching Savannah series debuts. To celebrate, here's another look at what went into the creation of Mercy's world.

A lot of people have asked me about Mercy’s Liar’s Tour, and how I got the idea for it. The first thing you have to know is that I hadn’t originally intended to set The Line in Savannah. (Yeah, I know. Right?) I had planned on creating a fictional setting (Taylors Ferry, GA), but my setting had no pulse. I worked through five or six rewrites of the first one-hundred or so pages, before I finally acknowledged to myself that Taylors Ferry had flat lined. (Pun not intended, unless you were amused by it. Then it was intended.)

 As I struggled to breathe life into my fictional setting , I kept feeling my heart (and imagination) pulled to Savannah. I had first become acquainted with Savannah through Margaret Wayt Debolt’s Savannah Spectres and Other Strange Tales and later John Berendt’s worldwide bestseller Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Actually the fact that Savannah was already so associated with “the book” nearly discouraged me from using the city as a setting. But what can I say? I felt Savannah calling me. Seriously. Both my heart and mind felt a tug that neither could resist. Still, I had never even set foot there.

I grew up in the southeast, my family at one time having lived as close to Savannah as Macon, but all I knew of Savannah at that point came from books and internet articles. Still, I listened to my gut and committed to the idea of setting The Line in Savannah anyway. It was time for some boots on the ground research. A lot of my first trip to Savannah was spent walking around on 98 degree days, when the humidity was like 2000%. Still, Savannah captivated me.

I love tours (especially walking tours)—I honestly would take a walking tour of my own house if someone were to offer one. I ended doing heaven only knows how many tours that first week, scribbling in my notepad and making some of the guides very, yet unnecessarily, nervous. After a few days, I had heard just about every tale they had to offer, many of them variations on the same stories. I started thinking how the locals must tire of hearing these same tales every time they pass by one of the tours.  I imagined a twelve year old Mercy rolling her eyes and mimicking the guides. I felt Mercy respond to that idea.

Then magic happened. I had the good fortune of going out with a new guide. The tour I went on with him was only his second unchaperoned (by a more experienced guide) outing. He was charming and a good storyteller. But then he messed up. He got confused and began telling a story associated with a property clean across town about the home we were standing before. I knew the story (and its setting) well. He was about two sentences in when I saw panic reach his eyes. He knew he had flubbed. I knew he had flubbed. None of the other folk on the tour knew he had flubbed. He committed to it, and carried on. There was no way I was going to ruin his day and their tour by pointing out his mistake. Still, I began thinking that these guides could be making up things left and right, and people would be none the wiser.

Then I had a flash of that same young Mercy, leading tourists around by the nose and making up the wildest stories she could sell them. I loved it. Mercy loved it. And that’s how the Liar’s Tour came to be.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A Salute to Brown Jenkin

Sketch by H.P. Lovecraft, 1934. Image in Public Domain.

We are less than a week away from the June 3rd debut of THE SOURCE, book two of the Witching Savannah series. To celebrate, I will be sharing a bit of background each day until the release.

A salute to Brown Jenkin
HP Lovecraft, the man, had some issues; There are no two ways around that. Still, I am a huge fan of HP Lovecraft’s work, and have quietly adopted and adapted his Cthulhu Mythos for the Witching Savannah series. His Cthulhu Mythos, with its alien entity “small g” gods, allows for an exploration of a cosmic evil that lies outside the tenets of the established religions. This was important to me, as I wanted to make Mercy’s world accessible to everyone, regardless of their religion or lack thereof. If you aren’t a fan of Lovecraft, not to worry, the allusions, while ever-present, are for the most part pretty subtle.

Still while you won’t encounter six foot tall penguins or witness R’lyeh rising off the Georgia coast, those familiar with Lovecraft’s works will see his influence in the mythological underpinnings of the Witching Savannah series. So, in THE SOURCE, when Mercy encounters a creature that resembles a rat with a tiny humanlike face and hands, know that yes, this is an affectionate shout out to Brown Jenkin.

One bit of trivia:  In THE LINE, Mercy tells us her family came to Savannah shortly after the Civil War. What she doesn’t say is that, at least in the unpublished backstory of the Taylor family, they came to Savannah from Lovecraft’s own beloved Providence, and undoubtedly had a run-in or two with Jenkin’s mistress, Keziah Mason. 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

CONvergence 2014 Schedule

If you are attending CONvergence 2014, please join me for the following panel discussions!

CONvergence 2014
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel
7800 Normandale Blvd.
Bloomington, MN 55439

Monday, May 12, 2014

News Update

Win a signed copy of THE SOURCE (Witching Savannah Book 2):

Meet JD on Thursday, May 15th at 7PM at
Village House Of Books
326 Village Lane Los Gatos, California 95030 (408) 354-6600

JD will be live Tweeting from the 2014 Dark Shadows Festival in Tarrytown, NY June 28th-28th.

Meet JD at CONvergence 2014
July 3-6, 2014
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel
7800 Normandale Blvd.
Bloomington, MN 55439

Meet JD at ThrillerFest IX
July 8-12, 2014
Grand Hyatt
New York City

Monday, April 21, 2014

"The Source" is Coming

Excited to see we are only five weeks from The Source's release date (June 3rd)! If you liked The Line, The Source will knock your socks off. (And if you didn't like The Line, well, then chances are you aren't reading this anyway.)

The Mercy we meet at the beginning of The Source is a tad different from the young woman she was in the first pages of The Line. Betrayal has forced her to mature and look at herself and those she loves in a very different way. The boy troubles that at one point seemed so important to her, she now sees as trivial. She believes the worst surprises are behind her, and is determined to work on setting things right and moving on. In her mind, step one of setting things right is to find her missing sister, even though the line's other anchors have forbidden her to search. 

Mercy's single-minded determination to rescue Maisie leads Mercy into an alliance with Mother Jilo Wills, and frankly, the relationship that forms between these two women is my favorite part of the entire Witching Savannah series. The wonderful thing about their unlikely friendship is that each of them  makes the other a better person. 

We have only caught a glimpse so far of the true Jilo. We learned in The Line that the facade of the crotchety uneducated conjure woman is a fiction Jilo herself created. Well, at least the uneducated part. The crotchety part is certainly real. 

Jilo was born into a world not ready for her. She graduated with a degree in chemistry in an age when African-Americans still had to drink from separate water fountains. Her dream had been to become a medical doctor, not a "root doctor," but our society at the time would have none of that. 

Jilo Wills combined her education in chemistry with the knowledge of Hoodoo magic she got from her grandmother to turn herself into a powerful conjurer. (I have this wonderful back story in mind that one day might be written. It features a young, modern, scientifically-minded Jilo fighting with her Hoodoo practicing grandmother, only to return later to study at her feet.)

The bitterly disappointed young woman decided to turn the superstitions and prejudices of the world around her to her own advantage. Her prospective clients were willing to pay good money for an ignorant swamp witch, so that's what she'd give them. Over time Jilo became trapped in the persona she created.

Even though, the Witching Savannah series is Mercy's story, The Source is Jilo's book. I hope you enjoy, and remember, when Jilo knocks, you damn well better answer.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Shivaree Update

Thanks to everyone who has asked about the availability of SHIVAREE (A NOVELLA). As the characters continue to deepen and gain their own voices, the story itself is taking on more depth and texture. Yes, that is my way of confessing that I am still working to complete the first draft.

SHIVAREE (A NOVELLA) is set in fictional Conroy, Georgia--situated near the edges of the Georgia, Tennessee and Alabama borders--in the early fifties, some months after the end of the Korean War. Conroy is a a moral cesspool, a corrupt little fiefdom run by Judge Ovid Lowell. Ovid, or "The Judge" as everyone in town knows him, should be the guardian of justice in the community, but it's Ovid's manner to corrupt those things he should protect.

In an attempt to escape both her father and Conroy, Ovid's daughter, Ruby, falls into the hands of a conman who promises a new life in golden California, but ends up coercing her to prostitute herself to finance his own addictions. Ruby finds herself sold to a group of jaded degenerates who take their pleasure from drugs, sadism and experimenting with black magic. By the time Ovid's detectives manage to track Ruby down and return her to Conroy, she has been changed in ways her father never could have imagined.

And this, folks, is just the back story.

Above is my mind's image of  the Lowell's house.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Charleston's ABC TV (WCIV) Lowcountry Live Interview

Lowcountry Live Interview -

Click on the above link to see my interview with Lowcountry Live's Jon Bruce. This was my first TV interview ever. Jon did his best to make me look good, but alas, no one can stop my cartoon facial expressions. Still it was a lot of fun, and I didn't pull the "deer in the headlights" expression I was so afraid I would. :)

Author J.D. Horn to sign urban fantasy that is set in Savannah |

Check out my interview with's Linda Sickler!

Author J.D. Horn to sign urban fantasy that is set in Savannah |

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

When I feel kicked, Jill Scott picks me up.

Ever have a day when you just can't catch a break from folk who seem so determined to tear you down? Most of us have. Well, Jill Scott's powerful song has become my anthem, a song that reminds me to keep picking myself up and putting myself out there, no matter what. To focus on the positive, and let the negative slide like water off a duck's back. (Thank you, Jinkx Monsoon!)  And that is what this week is all about.

Visiting Charleston today and tomorrow, and doing an interview on Lowcountry Live (Charleston ABC Channel 4). I am really excited and more than a bit nervous, as I have only done a handful of interviews so far, and never one with a camera pointed at me. But be it deer in the headlights, or suave and cool, I will feel pride in knowing I put myself out there, in spite of my fears.

Friday, I am heading down to Savannah to visit the city I have fallen in love with, the city where I have lived in spirit, if not in body, for the last three years. If you are in the area, I would love to see you at Bob's Your Uncle on River Street, Saturday at 2 PM.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Siren Call of a New Series Idea

The Siren Call of a New Series Idea-

I took a walk today. A walk intended to clear out the cobwebs that have latched on to my imagination and are interfering with the completion of Shivaree (A Novella), my post-Korean War Southern Gothic take on the ever-popular vampire.

The Source (Witching Savannah #2) is off to production. The Void (Witching Savannah #3) is in the capable hands of my editor, and I am awaiting notes. I have no excuse, absolutely no excuse, not to pull out all stakes (sorry for the pun) and get the novella finished. Except I’m getting ready for a short promotional tour for The Line. Oh, and  it’s sunny, so I need to get outside. Oh, and I feel the need to binge watch True Crime all in one sitting. Oh, and…well, you get the picture. Pure procrastination.

It isn't like the universe isn't screaming at me to finish what I've started. This morning Facebook showed me a picture of an adorable child who shares a none too common name with one of Shivaree’s main characters. Then on my walk, I met a friendly Mastiff who, you guessed it, also shares the same name. 

“So okay,” I say to the universe, “I  get the message.” I begin stomping off the last hundred or so yards toward home when it hits me. What hits me? Only the greatest ever idea for a new series. One set right here in Portland, in my own neighborhood even. Stop the presses, right? Writer finds inspiration in his own backyard. 

Well for me this is news. Even though I am currently living in the Pacific Northwest, I am a southern boy. Cut me and I bleed fried green tomatoes. I live and breathe Southern Gothic. Portland is a nice, clean and pleasant place to live, but somehow until today it has failed to speak to my imagination. Then boom, I get a complete novel just dropped on my head in the matter of ten, maybe eleven steps. I wish Portland could have held its tongue for just six more chapters of Shivaree (A Novella).

Sunday, February 23, 2014


Pareidolia - 

When I first stumbled across photos on the internet of Savannah’s deserted gunpowder magazine, I knew I had to find a way to work the structure into the Witching Savannah series. I set out one drizzly February morning to visit the crenelated red brick building, but finding it proved no small feat.  My imagination began to convince me that it was under some enchantment, as even though I had seen pictures and found old news articles that mention the building, the magazine itself seemed to have faded from the memory of nearly every local. I knew it was located off Ogeechee Road—actually an article I found said that it was plainly visible from that stretch, nestled in among a grove of trees. What I had failed to consider was the age of the article. Those nestling trees had grown up and filled out since publication,  and now screened the magazine from view.

 I spent what seemed like hours traveling up and down Ogeechee Road, peering out through fogged windows, stopping once at the side of the road when I thought for sure I had finally found it, only to realize I was sorely mistaken. The sad thing was I even had the exact longitude and latitude for the structure, but alas, my GPS system wanted nothing to do with degrees, minutes and seconds. It wanted good, solid street addresses or nothing. Nearly frustrated to the point of giving up, I pulled into the parking lot of an auto parts store that I knew had to be in the magazine’s general location.

 I went in and spoke to a clerk, describing the building, its history—as best I knew it—and its appearance. He was sorry, but he had never heard of the place. He did offer to ask someone who was working in the back if she knew of it. The young woman came out, and I launched anew into my spiel, when she smiled and pointed over my shoulder. “I think you are talking about the building next door.” And, yes, as it turned out, the gunpowder magazine was sitting a few yards away on the far side of their parking lot. Needless to say, learning it was next door to an auto parts store did strip away some of the building’s romantic glamour. But still, I had gone to all this trouble to find the place, so I crossed the lot and managed a four point landing in the ravine that separates the wooded area that houses the magazine and the auto parts establishment.

I felt convinced I had wasted my time, until I caught sight of the single story red brick castle. Like much of the rest of Savannah, it was so accessible and surrounded by the everyday, but somehow still magical and haunting. I hadn’t even finished brushing the dirt from my knees before I began imagining Jilo and Mercy hiding out here, working magic together. Even with the sounds of a steady flow of traffic coming off Ogeechee, this place seemed secluded, somewhat out of sync with both its mundane surroundings and the year in which I had come to visit it. A misty Savannah morning paired itself with this writer’s overly active imagination to convince me that even though there was no one else around, I was not alone. In that moment, Savannah wore down what remained of my healthy skepticism, and I found myself taking photos, convinced that one of them would show more than had met my naked eye.

         Let me make one thing clear: I am not a believer that orbs are in any way supernatural.  I chalk them up to dust or insects or pixilation, but just as there are few atheists at 30,000 feet, Savannah had a way making me question this. I will leave you to be the judge.  The building was locked, but there was a gap large enoughfor me to put my camera through and snap a couple of photos. The following is a blown-up version of an orb caught in one of these photos.

In it I see the face of a man with a shaved head and mustache. He appears to be wearing sunglasses. Pareidolia, you say? I’m certain you are right. At least I am right now, sitting thousands of miles away from Savannah. Still, haunted or no, you will encounter this setting in the very first pages of THE SOURCE (Witching Savannah #2) coming out on June 3rd. 

Thursday, February 13, 2014


With The Source (Witching Savannah Book 2) in the final stages of copy editing, and The Void (Witching Savannah Book 3) in the hands of my (first) editor, I am turning back to Shivaree, the novella I began late last summer.

Shivaree is my take on the vampire tale. I know, I know.The world is awash in stories about vampires.

What makes Shivaree unique is that this dark Gothic dream unfolds in a time (the early 1950s) and place (the fictional town of Conroy, Georgia) where supernatural evil is more than given a run for its money by the evil engendered by racism and other forms of bigotry. In fact, one of the challenges in writing Shivaree has been making my vampire more frightening than my human monsters. Although evil, through and through, in many ways Shivaree's vampire remains a more empathetic character than many of Conroy's other residents. The blurb follows:


At the close of the Korean War, sturdy army nurse Corinne Ford turns her back on a troubled past to travel to rural Georgia and marry her battlefield sweetheart. Corinne soon learns she was not the first woman in her fiancé's life. The once exquisite Ruby, failed actress and dabbler in dark magic, had been brought back from Hollywood to her father's house, sick, broken, changed. Her death cleared the way for many who had wished that she had never returned. Soon, Corinne is confronted with evidence that her fiancé's first love is neither forgotten nor truly gone. Backlit by the Klan's burning crosses and scored by the cacophony of shivaree, the traditional wedding night abduction of the groom, SHIVAREE (A Novella) looks into a world where the monsters of folklore confront the monsters of history. SHIVAREE (A NOVELLA) is a work of Southern Gothic Horror running approximately 30K words.