PATHOGENS Cover Reveal

This is a post I’ve been sitting on for a while now. After all, there is no established, “right” time to reveal a cover for a new book and I’ve been struggling to find that perfect moment. My cover artist, Brian Silveira, has been dying in slow agony as I’ve waited to reveal his epic artwork. I wanted a moment with some gravity, and I suppose this is it.

I’ve gained feedback from multiple sources (some of you might be reading this now, I suspect), and used those notes to make the book a more compelling read. Thank you, Beta Readers, I am incredibly grateful for your time and diligence.

Now the rewrites are completed and the book is off to my professional editor. Once she’s done, it’ll go to formatting, the book will pop up as a pre-order (for about a week so I can finalize the product page) and then — BOOM — you’ll have PATHOGENS on your favorite reading device.

For now, let me knock your socks off as Brian did for me.

The final Final Final Pathogens 1
Click Me for Full Size.

Cool things you might notice:

  • This is by far my busiest book cover. Aside from the fact that Brian Silveira is a master of detail (plug: he has a graphic novel out now), this is also my busiest book. Six characters to play through, each with tiny details that relate not only to the other storylines, but also back to INFECTED and the larger Click Your Poison universe. I wanted the cover to say, “Get ready: Madness inside.”
  • The fact that the cover is actually a lab door. You see, “the company” was a major aspect to the first book, but now you’re getting a deeper look –and one that goes far beyond the lab itself.
  • The Gilgazyme inhaler on the floor, the mouse on the foreground and the mice eyes in the lab. It’s all already happened. I don’t think of this book as a sequel or prequel to INFECTED. More of a spin-off. A sister book, if you will. The events in PATHOGENS take place after INFECTED has already begun and end before that book concludes.
  • The rebar from the explosion looks a lot like clawed hands.  In my last interactive zombie tome, your primary enemy was the undead themselves. That’s still the case here, but you’ll also have to deal with a (perhaps) larger threat: the death of civilization and the evil in men.
  • The colors evoke a sunset. Yep, goodbye mankind. It’s up to you, Dear Reader, to help these characters survive another day.
  • The hospital symbol in the rear. A small detail, but many of the events circle around this location.
  • The melting clocks. The cover for INFECTED was a riff on Salvador Dali’s famous Voluptuous Death image, so I thought it only fitting to find inspiration in another Dali classic: The Persistence of Memory. Check out some comparisons:

Thanks for reading! What do you think of the cover?

Leave me a comment below, and don’t forget to share and subscribe!

Last-chance: PATHOGENS sneak peek

Editing COMPLETE

Last month after I finished the first draft of PATHOGENS, I sent out a call for Beta Readers.

Well, my edits are complete and the book is ready for feedback! If you already volunteered, your character is waiting for you in your inbox.

Want to get in on the action? It’s not too late! Hit me up on my contact form. All you have to do is send me your top three preferences for which character you’d like to read. You’ll find a short description of each character in PATHOGENS below.

PS — If you’re not into feedback, here’s your update: PATHOGENS should be in your hands sometime in August or September!

Sims

Technical Sergeant Robert Sims, National Guardsman and electrician in the greatest Air Force in the goddamned world. Divorced, no kids, fourteen years of service given to your nation thus far. You’re a “Prepper” (a dedicated survivalist), and you’ve been looking forward to the zombie apocalypse for as long as you can remember. Your unit was mobilized and now you find yourself at the tip of the spear.  When it comes to idioms you’re not the smartest crayon in the box, but you’re an electrical genius.

Cooper

Kaeden Cooper, known as “Kay” to your friends. Daughter of a NASCAR driver who turned to the bottle and lost his shot at stardom. You’ve since done your fair share of racing on the motorbike circuit, but it’s still very much a man’s world, and no one wanted to give you sponsorship unless you posed by the bike in a bikini. Instead, you turn wrenches for a living, working for the weekend until you can ride again. Little do you know that this shift under the hood will be your last. Soon the world will learn it’s those who know how to change their own oil that will survive.

Tyberius

Work nights at the call center, days at the bank. Sleep? Yeah, right. It’s all you can do to provide for you and Mama, who lost her own job in the recession. She still hopes you’ll find a nice girl and settle down, but you’d settle for an apartment in the better part of town. So you use any spare moment; while eating, even while shitting, to take online courses on a smartphone, angling for a promotion at the bank. But all that effort is about to be in vain when the global economy tanks in 3, 2, 1…

Rosie

Smart, cute, spunky redhead. 17-year-old high school student. Your father is a combat-veteran Marine and you work weekends at the family-owned shooting range. Sarah is your real name and truth be told, you’re more interested in boys and music than you are bug-out-bags and MREs, but you play along for dad’s sake. Ever since mom died he’s had a hard time and he’s not the type to get a pedicure so for quality time you learn about pyrotechnics. Unfortunately, Sarah’s world is about to end and you’ll have to fully embrace his training to become the “Rosie the Riveter” of the apocalyptic wasteland.

Lucas

Lucas Tesshu, middle aged man who handles crisis with the same serenity a stone handles the river. As a child of Japanese immigrants, you’ve lived much of your life as an outsider, making solitude a revered mentor and friend. As a Kendo instructor and master of swordplay, you’re more than capable of defending yourself, but as a disciple of Bushido, you are committed to helping those in need. So the question becomes: Can a man unable to leave someone for dead still survive the Zombie Apocalypse?

Hefty

Poor as dirt, good ole southern boy. Thin as a rail, and yeah, the nickname is ironic. Known to the State as inmate #: 080620-06. They say money doesn’t grow on trees, but you can cook some up in your kitchen using a few household ingredients as fertilizer. Like literal fertilizer, for one. But you’re over that now, clean, back on the straight and narrow, and ready to be a productive member of society once you get released from the Big House. Which is about to come early, courtesy of the Apocalypse.


Thanks for reading! Excited? Ready to start reading?

Leave me a comment below, and don’t forget to share and subscribe!

‘TESTIMONE’ hits Italy!

My second Click Your Poison novel, MURDERED, is now making a splash on the Italian shores as the translated edition, TESTIMONE.

Give Catnip Edizioni a like, check out the beautiful cover art, and if you know any Italian readers, send them this way:


Thanks for reading! Have you ever read a book that was translated from the author’s native language into your own?

Leave me a comment below, and don’t forget to share and subscribe!

A Call for Beta-testers/Readers

PATHOGENS is currently in editing and once I’m done I’ll need your help.

This is by far my most ambitious book, featuring six playable characters each with their own point of view and unique storyline. Which is why, for the first time ever, I’m opening a work-in-progress for early reads and feedback.

I’ve hinted at “something big” in my monthly newsletters for a while now, and this is it. The official request will come in a newsletter later this week, so if you haven’t signed up for the mailer yet, make sure you do.

nurse_icd-10
Tell me, how did being devoured by the ravenous undead make you feel?

Interested? Sign up for that mailing list! Not the feedback type but still want to follow along? Sign-the-eff-up already!

No, I’m not going to give you the whole book. Frankly, that would leave me constantly sending “Are you done yet? Did you hate it? Is that why it’s taking so long?” follow-up emails and nobody wants that.

Instead, I’m going to ask for your top-three characters, so that way I can spread the feedback love around. Here’s a sneak-peek of the book’s first choice. Who would you choose?

PATHOGENS

Unlike other Click Your Poison™ books, this is the first one where you don’t “play” as yourself. Instead, you can choose a character and see how that person survived the initial outbreak from their own perspective. Think of this page as your “character-select screen” in this gamebook.

Each of these characters first appeared in INFECTED, but you don’t need to have that book memorized (or even have read it, truth be told), to enjoy PATHOGENS. Instead, pick a persona and learn their story as only one who experienced it truly can.

But beware—since these characters appear in another book, if you take the wrong path and end up bitten, mangled, or dead, you’ll rip the very fabric of the space/time continuum and your adventure will be over. Good luck!

Sims

Technical Sergeant Robert Sims, National Guardsman and electrician in the greatest Air Force in the goddamned world. Divorced, no kids, fourteen years of service given to your nation thus far. You’re a “Prepper” (a dedicated survivalist), and you’ve been looking forward to the zombie apocalypse for as long as you can remember. Your unit was mobilized and now you find yourself at the tip of the spear.  When it comes to idioms you’re not the smartest crayon in the box, but you’re an electrical genius.
Select Sims

Cooper

Kaeden Cooper, known as “Kay” to your friends. Daughter of a NASCAR driver who turned to the bottle and lost his shot at stardom. You’ve since done your fair share of racing on the motorbike circuit, but it’s still very much a man’s world, and no one wanted to give you sponsorship unless you posed by the bike in a bikini. Instead, you turn wrenches for a living, working for the weekend until you can ride again. Little do you know that this shift under the hood will be your last. Soon the world will learn it’s those who know how to change their own oil that will survive.
Select Cooper

Tyberius

Work nights at the call center, work days at the bank. Sleep? Seems like a distant memory. All this in an effort to provide for you and Mama, who lost her own job in the recession. She still hopes you’ll find a nice girl and settle down, but you’d settle for an apartment in the better part of town. So you use any spare moment; while eating, even while shitting, to take online courses on a smartphone, angling for a promotion at the bank. But the worst part? All that effort is about to be in vain because the global economy is about to tank in 3, 2, 1…
Select Tyberius

Rosie

Smart, cute, spunky redhead. 17-year-old high school student. Your father is a combat-veteran Marine and you work weekends at the family-owned shooting range. Sarah is your real name and truth be told, you’re more interested in boys and music than you are bug-out-bags and MREs, but you play along for dad’s sake. Ever since mom died he’s had a hard time and he’s not the type to get a pedicure so for quality time you learn about pyrotechnics. Unfortunately, Sarah’s world is about to end and you’ll have to fully embrace his training to become the “Rosie the Riveter” of the apocalyptic wasteland.
Select Rosie

Lucas

Lucas Tesshu, middle aged man known for being as serene as a stone in the stream. As a child of Japanese immigrants, you’ve lived much of your life as an outsider, making solitude a revered mentor and friend. As a Kendo instructor and master of swordplay, you’re more than capable of defending yourself, but as a disciple of Bushido, you are committed to helping those in need. So the question becomes: Can a man unable to leave someone for dead still survive the Zombie Apocalypse?
Select Lucas

Hefty

Poor as dirt, good ole southern boy. Thin as a rail, and yeah, the nickname is ironic. Known to the State as inmate #: 080620-06. They say money doesn’t grow on trees, but you can cook some up in your kitchen using a few household ingredients as fertilizer. Like literal fertilizer, for one. But you’re over that now, clean, back on the straight and narrow, and ready to be a productive member of society once you get released from the Big House. Which is about to come early, courtesy of the Apocalypse.
Select Hefty


Thanks for reading! Excited? Apathetic? Fun summer plans?

Leave me a comment below, and don’t forget to share and subscribe!

CYP#4: Lucas Complete!

Lucas Tesshu, the sword-toting modern day samurai whose greatest weakness was a compulsion to help everyone he met is now fully visualized with an origin story in the upcoming PATHOGENS. To all the teachers out there, I ask: What would you do if the zombie apocalypse hit while class was in session? Stay put with your students? Try to get them to their parents? Just leave the snotty brats and make a run for it?

Your answer might change if you were a master swordsman teaching a kendo class. Or not. Either way, get ready to live his journey for yourself!

 

Up next? Our final character: The cold, hard, badass leader: Cooper!


Thanks for reading! Excited? Confused? Bemused?

Leave me a comment below, and don’t forget to share and subscribe!

CYP#4: Tyberius Complete!

::Walks away from explosion like a badass::

Tyberius, the street-smart athletic force of nature from INFECTED is now completed! Some might recall he reacted rather harshly at Deleon’s reveal in the high school. In the upcoming PATHOGENS, you can find out why as you live his story for yourself.

Most evocative image of the Tyberius path I could find. Still recovering from the Google image rabbit hole. Whew.

Up next? Kendo master Lucas Tesshu!


Thanks for reading! Excited? Confused? Bemused?

Leave me a comment below, and don’t forget to share and subscribe!

2015 JS Book Recommendations

As I first did last year, it’s time to recommend the best books I’ve read this year. Maybe you’ll like them too. Or, maybe someone on your gift list will.

Turns out, I read a lot of good books in 2015! It wasn’t easy to whittle down the list, but here they are, the five books I absolutely could not put down in 2015. I’ve given a brief explanation why you should read each, but hopefully not enough to spoil anything.

1) I’ll start with a book I’ve been meaning to read for a long time, Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy. If you don’t mind dark and gritty (and if you read my books, I assume you don’t), this book is simply stunning. It’s on the top of my “read again if you ever decide to write a western” list.

2) The next two are books I’ve loved for a long time, but re-read this year, so I’ll lump them together. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller and Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut. Many people read these books in high school, but I’d recommend saving them for (or re-reading later with) an adult’s perspective on the world.

3) While writing SUPERPOWERED, I got into a lot of graphic novels. One that has stuck with me and that I continue to read as issues are released is Saga by by Brian K. Vaughan (Author), Fiona Staples (Illustrator). It would be overly simplistic to call the story Romeo and Juliet set in space, but I think it’s great proof that adding a different spice (and this one is spicy!) can completely change a familiar dish.

4) The Girl with all the Gifts by M. R. Carey. Minor spoiler: This book contains sentient zombies. Which, normally, I don’t like. I’d rather see new human perspectives in the zombie apocalypse than I would like to see the ZA itself re-invented. That said, this book has a lot of heart and a lot of creativity, without too much gore. Stuff it in the stocking of the most sensitive zombie fan you know.

5) Rounding out this year’s list in the only Indie book on here (I know, I should be better than that!): Reapers by the Thornton Brothers. What starts off as a clever Lord of the Rings parallel to the Iraq war (our cast is comprised of “black ops” rangers, but the setting is high fantasy) eventually evolves into something much more. I won’t say too much, because there is some massively creative storytelling in here.

Honorable Mentions

First, we have The Strain by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan. I went into this story blind, simply because GdT is one of my favorite filmmakers, and the audiobook is narrated by the delightful Ron Perlman. If you want your own Monet Experience, I’d highly recommend picking up the book and diving in. The opening air of mystery is fantastic. It didn’t make my top reads cut, however, because it’s a cliff-hangar book. None of the story is resolved by the end and I’m assuming you have to read all three to get any closure. To boot, Perlman only narrates the first book. So I’ve started watched the TV show instead of continuing the series.

Next up is All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, which falls just short of amazing. The book jumps around its timeline, presenting some chapters in a WWII “present” and then going back to the backstory for others. I know this is a popular technique to keep readers hooked by teasing the climax, but I feel like it cheapened the experience here. In fact, if you decide to check out this book, I’d recommend you go through and write down the dates at the front of each chapter, then read the book chronologically. I’m willing to bet you’ll have a brilliant experience with it.

Over the summer, I listened to the audiobook of A Long Time Until Now by Michael Z Williamson. On the cover, it shows a caveman, a centurion, and a modern US soldier standing atop a jeep and fighting off ice age beasts. Nuff said, right? I’m a sucker for a good time travel story. And I wanted to love this one, but there just wasn’t any interpersonal conflict in the novel. Several groups of people were shuffled through time, and they were all just like, “cool, let’s do this.” I needed a bit more.

I was looking forward to The Fold by Peter Clines for a long time. It’s the sister-book to 14, which was one of my favorites of the previous year. The story is still a lot of fun, but the main character’s (minor spoiler) perfect “mimetic memory” is too much of a superpower. I loved the average Joe falls into a crazy world that 14 gave me, but the protagonist of The Fold feels like an AI computer and so the stakes were lowered. I always felt he’d come out on top. Still, this book was worth the read and I’d check out another written in that same universe.

Finally, we have Armada by Ernest Cline. This author is on fire, and he’s delivered another fun book, but not quite to the level of his first, Ready Player One. This book feels just a little bit too inspired by Ender’s Game and the conclusion felt somewhat truncated. That said, it’s a fun, quick read (or a cool listen by narrator Wil Wheaton). Worth it, but not amazing.


So, what do YOU think? Have you read any of the titles listed? Any suggestions for me?

Feel free to comment below, and don’t forget to share and subscribe!

The Future, Origins, Ramblings, and Shamblings

What’s new? Quite a bit with me, as it turns out.

May was a huge month in the world of Click Your Poison, with a new book launch, and a $0.99 sale for the series. In fact, I had over a thousand ebook sales on Amazon for the month! Weee! (SUPERPOWERED is still on sale for the next two weeks).

I also did a live interview/chat on google+ which you can watch a recording of below. In it, I announced my plans for the next book, which I’ll go more into after the jump.

For CYP#4, I’m returning to the storyworld of INFECTED. You’ll get to play as the supporting cast from the original, to survive the initial outbreak from each of their perspectives. While it’s technically a prequel, I think of it more as a sister story, and you don’t need to have INFECTED memorized to enjoy INFECTED Origins.

For me, I see it as a challenge as a writer and an opportunity to grow. I’ve tried to keep out of your head and did my best to keep telling-you-what-you’re-thinking to a minimum, and to make the protagonist’s age, gender, and race as neutral as I can so you could better delve into the story as a reader.

But not with this book. Each character has a rich background with firm viewpoints about the world. So you’ll get to Being John Malkovich the story and ride along in someone else’s head. Crazy? Maybe. We’ll see.

Stay tuned for updates as the book comes along. I probably won’t have room for every single character in the book, so expect cast announcements as well. If there’s someone you think is a must-have for the book, let me know in the comments below.

Also on the horizon: I’ll be updating my events tab soon, with a confirmed signing in Central Texas this summer, and possibly here in Denver (SUPERPOWERED just got accepted at the Tattered Cover Bookstore — yay!)

Oh, and I’m doing a rafflecopter contest thinger too. Check it out: a Rafflecopter giveaway.


Add your opinion in the comments below. And don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe!

Writer Discovers 5 Weird Tricks. You Won’t Believe What Happens Next!

Or, 5 Tips to Market Your
Book Online

Note: This post originally appeared on the Creatrix Marketing blog.

As hinted in my tongue-in-cheek clickbait alternate title, anyone who tells you there’s a guaranteed path to publishing success is probably selling something. Usually in ebook form. As the old joke goes, if you purchase, “Learn how to be a bestseller, just buy this book!” the only thing you’ll find written inside is, “Write a how-to book; tell people to buy it.” 

While there’s nothing you can do to guarantee success, there are steps you can take to increase your chances. Many authors compare publishing success (whether self-pubbed, small press, or traditional) to being struck by lightning. Think of these tips as your lightning rods.


Write a marketable book. I’m going to catch a lot of flak for this one, but the easiest way to market a book is to make sure it’s easy to pitch. In Hollywood, they call this High Concept—your story should be clear enough that you can describe it in one to two sentences, and have someone hooked if you only have an elevator ride to pitch your story. I know, you’re an artist, you write what the muse speaks and not what sells. But you really can have it both ways: Perfect your elevator pitch for marketing success, and perfect your prose for artistic fulfillment. No one will read your genius if you can’t convince them to crack open the cover.

Be active on social media. There a thousands of people, right this second, looking for their next book to read, and they’re doing so online. Social media is where you give your elevator pitch, but don’t use the internet solely as a sales tool. Be yourself. When others see that you like the same shows, or they admire your viewpoint on an issue, or fall for your under-140-character wit, they’ll pay more attention the few times you announce a promotion. Which leads us to…

Use available marketing tools. No need to reinvent the wheel, all that groundwork has been laid out for you. If you’re self-pubbed, you should consider running free or discounted promotions of your title. You can also get your publisher to run some of these promotions for you. Then advertise your promotion on the many websites/mailing lists targeted to eager bargain hungry readers. This will drastically expand your reach, increase sales, and gain you reviews. 

moneyreviews

Market off-line too. Don’t forget to reach out to the real world. You don’t have to be a bestseller to set up a book signing at your local store, or an interview on your local radio station. Tell friends at parties. Always carry business cards! By rubbing elbows with potential fans out in the real world, you’ll increase your visibility online too. Many of those new connections will reach out to find you in cyberspace, or tell their friends. Each new fan is like planting a seed to help you grow as an author. 

Think outside the box. There are far, far more reading options than ever before. From the growing list of classics, to the self-publishing movement, it’s hard to stand out. You’ve got to try something different. For me, that’s been book trailers. You can turn that elevator pitch into a short film, and spread it out across the series-of-tubes just like a movie trailer. If done well, it’s an entertaining piece in its own right and most viewers don’t feel like they’re directly being advertised at. Book trailers are a growing trend, but what will be the next tool? Who knows, maybe you’ll be the one to discover it.


Are you a writer or marketer? A reader/customer with thoughts on being pitched to? Add your opinion in the comments below. And don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe!

It’s a Trilogy Now (and You Can Win FREE Signed Books)

New art celebrating Click Your Poison by DC Comics artist and co-creator of Malice and Mistletoe, Jack Purcell!
New art celebrating Click Your Poison by DC Comics artist and co-creator of Malice and Mistletoe, Jack Purcell!

We’re a month out from the SUPERPOWERED release, and to celebrate my third “gamebook” in the Click Your Poison series, I’m giving away three signed copies of each book, anywhere in the world. Each book is a standalone title, so there’s no need to read them sequentially. But hurry, this contest ends soon.

Click below to enter each raffle:

INFECTED — Will YOU Survive the Zombie Apocalypse? [Ends midnight, 10 April]

MURDERED — Can YOU Solve the Mystery? [Ends midnight, 25 April]

SUPERPOWERED — Are YOU a Hero or a Villain? [Ends midnight, 10 May]


Add your opinion in the comments below. And don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe!