The Martian Theory

While hauling my earthly goods from California to Colorado, I listened to the audiobook version of The Martian by Andy Weir. I was intrigued by the self-published success story, and decided to give it a go. You should too, it’s a fantastic book. Here’s a blurb, paraphrased from the Amazon product description:

After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, [astronaut Mark Watney] finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive…. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?”

My wife and I loved the central character so much, we started saying I was Mark Watney-ing whenever I’d creatively solve a problem around the house. It’s the new MacGyver-ing.

Now then, beyond a simple book recommendation, I have a theory about the book. Very, very minor spoilers follow. As someone who hates spoilers, trust me, you’re fine.

I originally described this book to friends as, “a near-future where we’ve started manned missions to Mars,” but upon further reflection, I’m going to update that stance. It’s not a near-future, it’s an alternate-present. All the technology for these fictional Ares missions currently exists. The only problem is that we haven’t spent billions of dollars on space travel and Mars research.

Here it is, my theory on The Martian: In the story-world, the September 11th attacks never happened. Instead, we spent all of those billions of dollars funding NASA and manned missions to Mars.

Think about it. There’s never a mention of a terrorism. There’s never a mention of 9/11. There’s never a mention of tightened regulations, security, or a slashed NASA budget. The world comes together on a cooperative level with such ease, it fits the political atmosphere of an America that hasn’t been at war for well over a decade.

The Martian takes place in a parallel universe where there is no Global War on Terror.

For those who’ve read the book, I’d love to hear what you think about my theory, or if you have any theories of your own. Do you think it’s an alternate-present where there was no recession either? And if you haven’t read the book yet, don’t forget to check back in once you do!

Your Life as a Comic Book

I’ve had STAR WARS on the brain a lot lately. In fact, tonight I’m going to watch the three-prequels-in-one film, Turn to the Dark Side that I managed to download off vimeo before it was yanked down. But enough about that for now.

With this blog post, I’d like to assure my die-hard Click Your Poison readers (you do exist, right?) that I’m still hard at work on CYP#3 — SUPERPOWERED — the title that asks if you’d be a hero or a villain if you had fantastic skills. Well, I am still hard at work. And as part of my process, I found this hilarious collection of faux-comics featuring “real life” supervillians. Check it out, they’re great:

download1download2download3download4download5download6

(Originally found via College Humor)

A Writer’s Resolution

Image credit: Geoff Whaley

A week into the New Year, I’ve finally decided to write a post pertaining to my goals in 2014. I have personal resolutions for health and happiness, but I’d like to keep this post focused on my goals as an author and as the owner of this blog.

The first, as an author, is a fairly straightforward one: Complete the next book in my Click Your Poison series.

As far as a blogging resolution, I feel a bit hesitant. But… I think I should embrace being a “blogger” — and for me, that’s easier said than done. I have a voice in my head saying, “Why should you shout your opinion at the world? Why should anyone care?”

Well, in order to silence that voice, I pledge to post more often and more honestly about the two things that should draw you to this page: 1) My writing, and 2) My journey from unknown writer to self-published rock star (gotta dream big, right?)

This year, just like this kid, I'm resolving not to lose my sense of humor.
This year, just like this kid, I’m resolving not to lose my sense of humor.

Topic #1 will include include progress updates and samples (hooray, samples!), and will involve the community when and where I can. Maybe I’ll bounce story ideas off you, give polls, or even host contests for naming characters, businesses; that kind of thing. It should be light and fun.

Topic #2 will focus on what I’ve learned in this business from pitfalls and successes. This will primarily be of interest to other writers. In that vein, I’m introducing a new topic: Lessons Learned (to be populated gradually over the year)

Happy New Year and best wishes in 2014!

-JS

STAR WARS Myers-Briggs Personality Chart

Too cool not to share! I found this on Geek in Heels where it looks like it’s going viral. What’s your type? If you want to take the test, you can do so here.

I haven’t taken one of these tests in years, so I took it again and got INTJ… I guess as someone who plots multi-universe books, I probably could have guessed I’d get “The Mastermind.” What about YOU? What character are you?

Ding-dong, the Witch is Dead

Hey! Amazon deleted that 1-star review written in Dutch!

Haters need not apply

 

It would appear that the 1-star review of INFECTED was deemed invalid by Amazon’s filters, but… Why do you care?

I doubt you do. This post is a blending of narcissistic and cathartic, which I believe comes out to narcotic, and fits the definition of a substance offering a hollow, fleeting happiness that will consume your life if you let it.

But that’s what blogs are for, right? Sharing the good and the bad. Exposing shortcomings.

Like this one: I actually cared about a review written in Dutch that said my book “wasn’t for people with actual zombie experience” (according to google translate), whatever that means. In my dark hours I would see zonder inspiratie flash across my mind and I’d wonder if maybe this was the one guy who had it right. Maybe my writing is uninspired. Maybe he’s the only one with the guts to tell the truth.

The fact that the review was taken down (no, I did not “flag” it or anything of the sort) doesn’t eliminate doubt. Comes with the territory, I guess. But it helps.

I’m in trouble if and when my books ever go wide and–God forbid–thousands of people review it and some small percentage is negative. I realize that will happen, and I’ll be fine. Even if all those negative reviews get to stay up, I’ll know that all the positive reviews are unquestionably valid.

See? That’s what this did. It’s a good thing. Okay, enough narcotic. It’s Halloween! Time for a zombie author to celebrate.

Oh, and if you hear a scratching at your door, you may want to look through the peephole before you open up to give out candy:

    You never know what's lurking out there...
You never know what’s lurking out there…

Celebrating the 10,000

IMG_20131012_233633743

The horde grows! Yesterday my website crossed into 10,000 views and I just wanted to say a big THANK YOU to all my faithful readers. You guys make it all worth the while.

That’s it! Back to work.

PS — Should have some news on Click Your Poison book #2 soon…

Pics or it didn't happen
Pics or it didn’t happen

When Do You Dump a Bad Book?

They say breaking up is hard to do, and I know I’ve suffered many a bad relationship with books and movies. Rarely, if ever, do I quit before I’m finished. Because of that I try to be more discerning before I dig in. What about you?

Over at book-rating site Goodreads, they did a user poll and came up with some fun data. Check it out:

1373380267-1373380267_goodreads_misc

I honestly can’t think of the last book I quit. Actually, wait, I can. It was a self-published Iraq war memoir that shall remain nameless and was a chore to read. Movies, I’m getting better at dumping. I’ll sheepishly admit the last I turned off was Zombie Strippers. I was looking for camp well done and didn’t find it.

What about you? What books or movies have you abandoned? Why? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

PS — If you haven’t used Goodreads, it’s pretty useful and a fun way to find new books. I’m on there as an author, if you want to connect.

Thankful for Your Brains

Happy Thanksgiving, all! I have a lot to be Thankful for this year. Not the least of which is for you, the reader.

This website, which just celebrated its one year anniversary yesterday, has introduced me to many wonderful people: Thank you for your comments and thanks for reading. I’m equally thankful to those who read in earnest silence; the lurkers! I’m Thankful to have published my first book this year, and touched that so many of you not only spent your hard-earned money on something I wrote, but also that you enjoyed it enough to share with your friends and family. I’m thankful that people value the written word, that you appreciate when time and effort is put into writing, and I’m glad to live in a society where it’s possible to earn a living from my passion (not that I’m there yet, maybe next year, ha!).

Now, to show that I’m thankful for your brains, enjoy this ten-course zombie thanksgiving feast:

1)

http://www.underwatercitypeople.com/HappyThanksgiving.html

2)

https://www.facebook.com/zombiedatingguide

3)

http://zombieportraits.com/happy-thanksgiving-zombie-turkey/

4)

http://www.zazzle.com/a_zombie_thanksgiving_card-137540433110706408

5)

http://blingee.com/blingee/view/118668988-zombie-thanksgiving

6)

http://shewalkssoftly.com/2011/11/

7)

http://joonbug.com/newyork/scenetracker/Pre-Thanksgiving-Zombie-Walk-2011/vu5W9wOVb6R

8)

http://shewalkssoftly.com/category/art/page/13/

9)

http://popculturecrusader.blogspot.com/2011_11_01_archive.html

10)

http://peoplesrepublicofpaul.wordpress.com/tag/zombie-thanksgiving/

And, of course, I’m thankful to have gotten married this year. None of this would be possible without you, Michaela — LOVE YOU!

(Dessert)

http://www.joyboe.com/2010/10/creative-costumes-as-art-form.html
* I don’t own any of these images and therefore all art is linked to the original source. Thanks to the artists for making this a HAPPY ZOMBIE THANKSGIVING!

Perhaps a month? And I’m a little scared

As promised, here’s an update on my impending book. I’ve gotten round one of reader feedback from my betas, with Mike somehow making it through unscathed (that dude is a ZAdass–Zombie Apocalypse Badass–sorry…that’s awful) and Chris showing me the best ways to die. Seriously, Chris can be in my survival group, but he’s not making the decisions (love you, man).

What’s up now? I’m sending the manuscript out to a professional editor next week, so she can shred it apart before it rises again as an immortal hellion bent on spreading across humanity like a virus. Also, I’ve got a talented cover artist working on a custom design for me. Here’s something she did a couple of years back:

wolves

So with all this awesome news, why am I suddenly terrified?

Maybe it’s because I’ve been toiling in obscurity so long it’s all I know? It’s like all I’ve ever wanted to do is go skydiving, and now that I’m standing in the door, I keep thinking how crazy I am.

Well, ready or not, I’m making the leap — in a month, perhaps.