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?

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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!

SUPERPOWERED Cover Reveal

Artist Brian Silveira delivered the goods on the SUPERPOWERED cover. And it’s Bam! Pow! Incredible.

Superpowered Final
Click me. See my stunning details.

Yes, this means we’re getting closer to having a book. No firm release date yet, but I’m nearing the end! Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, Brian is working on a landscape promo graphic (all the better to social media with, my dear), and happy to return to his graphic novel (Bun). I’ll totally post info on that when he releases it. Oh! And we may collaborate on future projects. An interactive graphic novel, perhaps?


So, what do YOU think? Intrigued? Dig the cover? Tired of waiting for the book?

Feel free to comment, like, share, and subscribe!

Reigning in Parallel Worlds

This post was originally published on author J.P. Choquette’s blog after she contacted me and asked if I’d go a bit into the process of writing interactive fiction. I liked the essay so much, I wanted to make sure my subscribers got to check it out, so you’ll find the full piece below. You should also check out J.P.’s website, she brings a great many different voices together and it’s worth a perusal.

Reigning in Parallel Worlds

by James Schannep

The main characters in INFECTED choose to wait out the zombie apocalypse inside their home, boarded up and barricaded, with enough supplies to wait out doomsday. They also leave the city in search of fellow survivors and greener pastures. Oh, and they also become zombies themselves.

No, my characters are not schizophrenic (and neither am I!), they just exist in parallel worlds.

What do I mean? Click Your Poison books are gamebooks—wherein you, the reader, choose how the story progresses. Each CYP title has three unique storylines and over fifty possible endings. Because of this “many possibilities” quality to interactive fiction, different readers will experience different outcomes and have a rather different reading experience from one another. It’s my job, as the author, to keep all these parallel worlds straight.

The problem is, every decision expands the storylines; sometimes familiar to one another, but other times they become drastically altered. Their worlds grow too large to exist solely within the confines of my head! I literally can’t keep them all straight; not by memory alone. So how do I do it? Just like in the real world—I use maps. Almost on a daily basis I’m forced to pause, stop writing, and think, “Wait, is this person dead here? And does this other character currently hate you or love you?” That’s when I check the maps.

Level one is my world map: the outline. In any novel, you need a beginning, middle, and end, with a logical pathway through the three. At the most basic level, the outline keeps the overarching plot on track towards the eventual destination(s).

Level two, interstates and roadside attractions: the chronology. Here I’ll keep a chart in Excel. Important plot points form the x-axis (time) and major storylines/characters form the y-axis (events). This helps me know which events happen at what time.

Level three, city streets, dark alleys, slums and shortcuts: the flowchart. This is my bread and butter. Without the flowchart, none of the other maps matter. The flowchart tells me, if you make decision A (attempt to play dead to avoid zombies), it will lead to outcome B (get eaten!). Often times the path will change slightly and I’ll have to go back, edit the story, and change outcomes. Without the flowchart, that would be impossible. Below, you can see a rough scrap from my latest CYP book as an example.

Nathaniel Hawthorne said, “Easy reading is damned hard writing.” If my process sounds excruciatingly difficult, good. My job (in addition to keeping the parallel worlds straight), is to make it look effortless inside the story. Your experience making decisions as reader should be smooth and clean, despite the complexity and ambiguity of the actual decisions themselves.

The real test of all this behind-the-scenes planning is your experience. So go ahead, dive into INFECTED and see if you have what it takes to survive the zombie apocalypse!

 


 

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Judge a Series by its Cover? Opinions Please!

Instantly recognizable, right? Those are the “Choose Your Own Adventure” books, one of the original gamebook series.

For Click Your Poison, several readers have suggested that my covers should have a similar “connected” look. Or, at the very least, something on the cover that lets you know it’s “Interactive Fiction” or a “Text-based Adventure.”

I must say, it makes sense. I love my covers for INFECTED and MURDERED, but they don’t really look connected to one another in any way. I could still keep the images, but maybe in a different design scheme.

One fan suggested a design reference to the old InfoCom games, a callback to when all video games were essentially text-based adventures. The original company is defunct, but they certainly had that “connected” feel. And there it is, all the info you need, right on the cover.

I think a call-back to old games could work pretty well. Maybe not something exactly like this, but a “cartridge” design might not be a bad look for a “gamebook.”

Super_Infected

So, what do you think? Whether you’re a casual reader or a student of design, I’d love to get your thoughts!

When an ebook is Superior to a Paperback

The pros and cons are oft debated; which is better? An ebook or a physical book? Usually the list looks something like this:

Paperback
-Infinite battery life
-Can take in bathtub
-Easier to lend/resell/buy used
-Can display as art
-Nostalgia for feel & smell

ebooks
-Cheaper
-More portable
-Saves trees

Well, now you can add another pro to the ebook list. With interactivity, ebooks blow paperbacks out of the water. With my “Click Your Poison” series, I’m often asked how an interactive ebook works on the Kindle. So I made this video. Enjoy!

INFECTED Paperback Giveaway!

That’s me, with the proof of the book. INFECTED will be out in paperback just in time for Thanksgiving, and to give “Thanks!” to all my readers, I’m hosting a giveaway. And in the Holiday spirit, share share share this link: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Enter to win at Rafflecopter or on Facebook.