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!

SUPERPOWERED now on Pre-order for only $0.99!

If you’re subscribed to my new release mailing list, then you got word this morning. SUPERPOWERED is now available on pre-order! And it’s only $0.99 until release day, when it’ll fly back up to $3.99. Go to Amazon now and Get SUPERPOWERED!

Official release date: 5/10/15
Official release date: 5/10/15

Blackest Friday

As some of you consider braving the crowds for a 75% off Blu-ray player, or perhaps the most ticklish Elmo ever designed by man, let this excerpt from INFECTED serve to remind you of the depths of depravity that awaits you. Comparable to looting at the start of the zombie apocalypse….

Time to fight the crowds for Blackest Friday, the biggest looting day of the year. Guns, batteries, powdered water; you’ll take it all!

On a Spree

Have you ever seen the YouTube videos about Black Friday sales? It looks like a zombie invasion—and that’s just for videogame consoles and designer kitchenware. Today, people are looting for their lives, and the chaos in the streets makes post-hurricane Katrina scavenging look like a sleepy Borders bookstore on a Wednesday afternoon. You know, the ones that closed due to lack of business.

Cars are crashing into anything and everything in an effort to get whatever as fast as possible. People are smashing windows just because the world’s ending. This is going to be bad.

You head straight for the sporting goods megastore in search of a gun. You’re not sure if there’s a waiting period, but you’re thinking it’ll be waived today. Besides, you’ve only got a hammer and a steak knife; not ideal for home defense.

From the looks of the parking lot, the insanity has already begun to make its way here: people pay no mind to parking spaces or any other laws designed to keep order. It’s total Lord of the Flies madness.

Inside, the crowds seem to be cooperating. The employees are still taking payments, and people are happy to charge it, knowing the credit card bill collectors will have a hell of a time in the upcoming months. Some sprint down the aisles with their arms loaded to capacity; others use shopping carts as battering rams. Polite society hasn’t crumbled yet, but it’s certainly strained.

It looks like the rifle racks were the first to go. Disappointed, and about to turn and look for other supplies, you see a handgun on the ground resting under one of the shelves, just barely in view. You pick it up. There’s a lock on the trigger—to keep people from using it in the store—and evidently it was abandoned by a frustrated shopper. Time to see if you can find the keys.

“Give me that piece,” a voice from behind commands. You turn to see who is speaking. The man in question looks polite enough in his business suit, but the baseball bat he’s carrying (and the manner in which he holds it) tells another story. “I’m not asking.”

  • “Go fuck yourself.” Go to page 124

  • Give it to him. You can get some other supplies, then hole up back home. As long as you properly barricade yourself, you shouldn’t need a gun. Go to page 138

World Premiere: MURDERED Book Trailer (official)

The day you’ve been waiting for (or at least the day I’ve been waiting for, either way) is finally here!

Check it out, the mystery/thriller book trailer in all its glory:

.

Some people have said it’s a bit odd to put out a book trailer almost a year after a book’s release (or again, just a voice in my head, either way), yet I couldn’t be happier with the decision. I’m extremely pleased with PixelTwister Studio, and I think you can see why. What an incredibly professional product. The feeling of seeing my words turned into art is, well, let me put it this way…Shortly after completion, Jeremy and Ellen asked if I’d be willing to give a testimonial for their website. I was glad to do so, and I’ll leave you with my glowing review:

When I first saw my words come to life in the trailer, I got chills. Not figurative chills, literal chills. I can’t recommend PixelTwister Studio enough. Ellen and Jeremy are ideal collaborative partners–they’ll listen to your ideas, then use their own intuition and artistry to make the world you’ve created not only richer, but instantly accessible to readers in a tangible way. PixelTwister represents everything I love about the indie publishing front; passionate people doing professional work on their own terms.”


 

So, what do YOU think? Make you want to read the book all over again?

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

The Final Countdown! MURDERED Trailer Release Date (and More Art)

Obligatory:

 

It’s really happening. I’ve seen a rough cut, and it looks fantastic. The MURDERED trailer should be ready for the world by the end of the week/beginning of next. Just to be safe, I’m calling the world premiere as Wednesday, October 29th. Expect a blog post with the trailer next week!

But in the meantime, I’m hosting a Goodreads giveaway to add to the excitement. If you have an account, please consider RSVPing “Yes!” to show your support and help spread the word! Here’s your invite:

Hey all! MURDERED is finally getting a book trailer and it’s going to be killer. Help celebrate the world premiere and win a FREE copy in the process.

3 Unique Storylines. Over 50 Possible Endings. Just one question… Could YOU Solve a Murder?

Now: More art.

Art by Jeremy Pollreisz, PixelTwister Studio
Art by Jeremy Pollreisz, PixelTwister Studio
Art by Jeremy Pollreisz, PixelTwister Studio
Art by Jeremy Pollreisz, PixelTwister Studio

 

Art by Jeremy Pollreisz, PixelTwister Studio
Art by Jeremy Pollreisz, PixelTwister Studio

 

Thanks for reading! Feel free to comment, like, and share. And don’t forget to subscribe so you’ll be the first to see the trailer when it’s released.

Art & a Script: MURDERED Trailer Update!

In case you missed it, I mentioned last week that a MURDERED trailer is on the horizon.

This week, I’m happy to share that Ellen (the writer-half of PixelTwister Studio) and I have come up with an amazing script. It’s meant to tease out the idea behind the book, so it shares part of the you find a body and a revolver with a “pick me up” note opening hook, but it’s also broad enough to get the entire concept across in only a minute or two. If you haven’t read the book/don’t know what I’m talking about, you can check out the first chapter for free using the amazon “look inside” function on the MURDERED product page.

The gist goes something like this:

You’re in Brazil for Carnival when you turn down the wrong alley on the wrong night…”

Meanwhile, Jeremy (the artist-half of PixelTwister) has been busy building the world of the trailer. As part of that, he sent me a sneak peek (which I’m also happy to share with you!) of the Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer) statue that watches over the iconic Rio de Janeiro skyline.

Without further ado:

Redeemer

Boom! Annnnd that’s now my desktop background.

Sorry to tease you all, but I had to share my excitement. The trailer is coming soon! So don’t forget to subscribe 😉

On Having a Thick Skin

“Have a thick skin.” If you’re a writer, whether you’re a hobbyist or a pro, you’re probably given this piece of advice dozens of times throughout your creative lifetime. The gist of the sentiment is: “Don’t take criticism too personally.” And while this is a lovely aphorism, it’s also easier said than done.

“Get tough, writer!” Image courtesy derausdo.

To follow the metaphor, having a thick skin makes my professional persona armored like an elephant or a rhinoceros. But here’s the thing–those noble beasts are born thick-skinned, whereas a creative person is nearly always the opposite.

We wouldn’t need a battlecry to “toughen up” if it came naturally. We’re told to desensitize ourselves to criticism because it’s the opposite of our instinctual reaction. When someone judges a writer’s work harshly, this tends to feel like a judgement of the author on a personal level. How can it not? You pour yourself onto the page, whether it be genre writing or memoir, and dedicate months or years to perfecting the product.

Okay, so what inspired this newest bout of self-reflection (and/or pity)? A negative review, of course.

A thoughtful, honest, and thorough skewering of MURDERED appeared on Amazon yesterday in the form of a 3-star review and it’s been eating at me (read the review here). And before you say, “3-stars isn’t negative,” allow me to direct your attention here:

Exhibit A: See the titles? "Most Helpful Critical Review". The defense rests its case.
Exhibit A: See the titles? “Most Helpful Critical Review.” The defense rests its case.

While the reviewer has some lovely things to say about the book and its author (he said in third-person), there’s quite a bit in there that I can only describe as “scathing.”

But I digress. The point of this blog post is for me to expand on how it is that I’m able to have a thick skin. How I “take a licking and keep on ticking.” Sure, I allow myself a moment of self-pity (and by “allow” I mean I accept the fact that I will experience these emotions and resign myself to it). But then I move on. What’s my secret?

My thick skin doesn’t come naturally, it’s formed from callouses.

That is to say, it’s built up as a defense against injury and assault. Each affront, no matter how small, toughens me up. Now, I’m able to look past the surface review and ask myself, “Okay, what did the reviewer really not like?”

The reviewer in my personal example compares MURDERED to a Rubik’s Cube, in a negative way. Their impression is that the book is nothing more than a simple curiosity; fun for a few minutes until the novelty wears off. And yet when I was writing the book, I actually told several friends I felt like I was creating a “literary Rubik’s Cube!” I naturally meant this as a positive–as a challenge. As a game that is fun to pick up and play with from time to time, but actually difficult and time-consuming to solve in full.

Not everyone loves a Rubik’s Cube. Then again, there are whole clubs and competitions formed by those who do. Not everyone will love my books, and some of those people will review them, but there are others who enjoy what I do and I’ll keep writing for that audience. The negative reviews still sting, but with my callouses I’m able to move past them more quickly.

Soon, I’ll be charging forward and there’ll be no stopping me.

James Schannep
9 June 2014

Artwork by Judith Powers, Ragged Edge Studio.

 

Mystery/Thriller Sale!

Starting now, MURDERED is on a Kindle Countdown Deal — so it’s $0.99 today, up to $1.99 on Friday, $2.99 on Sunday, before going back up to the original price of $3.99 next Monday.

On Sale 21-27 April
On Sale 21-27 April 2014, only on Amazon.

3 Unique Storylines. Over 50 Possible Endings. Just one question… Could YOU Solve a Murder?

MURDERED is a mystery novel unlike any other — YOU are the main character. Follow clues, interrogate suspects, and piece together the puzzle before the killer gets away! It’s up to you to solve the case in this action-packed, dark and humorous thriller. Each link represents a choice, and the story evolves based on your decisions.

You’re in a dark alley, a lost tourist in Brazil, when you stumble across a woman’s body and a revolver atop a grisly note which reads, “PICK ME UP.” That’s when you realize you’re not alone….

What starts as an exotic vacation ends up as the opportunity of a lifetime when you inadvertently witness a man fleeing the scene of a murder. Work side-by-side with US Diplomatic Security agents (DSS) and Brazilian Police Officers inside the lawless slums of Rio de Janeiro — but choose wisely, no one is who they truly seem to be.

Get MURDERED!

Test your detective skills in the shantytowns of Rio de Janeiro's favelas.
Test your detective skills in the shantytowns of Rio de Janeiro’s favelas.

★★★★★ “I grew up with Choose Your own Adventure Novels, and I love how the Click Your Poison books take the conceit into the digital age. …a gripping mystery packed with action set against an exotic Brazilian backdrop. This is a novel that you control.” — William Massa, Hollywood screenwriter and Amazon bestselling author of Fear the Light: Who Murdered Dracula?

★★★★★ “MURDERED…solid writing, humor, mystery, thrills and…the opportunity to investigate and solve a murder…” — Zach Tyo, reviewer, indiebookreviewer.blogspot.com

If you’ve read the book, now would be a great time to leave a review on amazon or to share your thoughts on goodreads. Please tell your friends about the sale and don’t forget to subscribe to the blog (toolbar on left) for future sales and specials!

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!

INFECTED Promo Results (Day Three)

Continued from Lessons Learned from the INFECTED giveaway.

One of the many promo pics I made to entice readers.
One of the many promo pics I made to entice readers.

January 10th
Today starts the final day of my free promotion, and it is with some apprehension that I begin. I’ve read that the “magic number” is 20k downloads. If you get less than that, your promotion was not worth it. You also need to make it into the Top 20 free books (overall) on Amazon’s best sellers list. Bearing those stats in mind, let’s see how we’ll start off the day:

NOTE: CLICK ALL IMAGES TO ENLARGE

Downloads as of 0600, January 10th.
5640 Downloads as of 0600, January 10th.
Somethin'
No change (save for category updates).

Woof. No update in the ranking and a measly 300 downloads overnight. Fear is sinking in… Am I doing this for nothing? Have I spent all this money advertising only to fail? But I can’t think that way. Today is my BookBub day, they’re supposed to be the best of the best, and that announcement hasn’t gone out yet. Holding out faith for “BookBub the Almighty” I’m still worried. I’m listed in the horror category which is one of their smaller lists. As you can see in the pricing chart below, the average downloads for a free horror book are 6,700 with a historical maximum of 10k over the entire promotion.

I really need to get MURDERED on a promotion... possibly to coincide with the launch of book 3?
I really need to get MURDERED on a promotion… possibly to coincide with the launch of book 3?

Seeing as how I’m only using a single day of BookBub, I’m thinking I’ll be lucky to get 6k. Which means <12k downloads. Which means… failure. Well, at this point what’s done is done. Best to let it play out and hope for the best (along with continued plugs on social media). Yesterday’s lesson was to be patient and not to panic, so I’ll try to keep that in mind as the day progresses.

Here’s a mid-day update, after BookBub has gone out:

14090 Downloads as of 1400, January 10th.
14090 Downloads as of 1400, January 10th.
Holy Crepe! Look at those numbers...
Holy Crepe! Look at those numbers…

Whoa! Now that the BookBub announcement has gone out, the downloads are gushing forth like spray from a firehose. I can literally refresh the page every few seconds and see more and more downloads. #26 overall! Maybe I’ll make the Top 20 before the day is through?

LESSON LEARNED: BookBub rocks. Until something changes, don’t do a free book promotion without them. This is my honest advice.

With numbers like this, I’m very very hopeful again. Though I’ll only be “On top of the world!” for a fleeting instant, it’s nice to bask in that accomplishment. When you do your own promotion, don’t forget to do so as well.

LESSON LEARNED: Enjoy yourself.

Topping the combined SciFi & Fantasy chart as of 1800.
Topping the combined SciFi & Fantasy chart as of 1800.
Best in horror as of 1800.
Best in horror as of 1800.

Everything’s going my way! This is amazing! I’m climbing the chart, I’m absolutely killing it, I —- just got a 1-start review. What? Ugh. Hours before my promo ends, someone shows up and says “Do not buy.”

Surprise! Kinda changes the experience, doesn’t it?

LESSON LEARNED: Shrug off the haters. As much as it sucks getting negative reviews or bad press (someone also posted in the comments of an INFECTED blog review how much they hated it…), if you manage to give out 20k copies, you’re bound to have some readers that don’t like what you’ve done. There’s no pleasing everyone.

Okay, time for one last check as the promo ends…

Over 20k downloads!
Over 20k downloads!
Agh! So close...
Agh! So close…

The best INFECTED was rated during the promotion was #22 Free in Kindle Store, so I didn’t quite make the Top 20, but I did (barely) make 20k downloads. Will it be enough? Time will tell…

Up next — Two Week After a Free Promo!