A Star Wars Manifesto

As today is Star Wars day (May the Fourth Be With You!), I’m releasing part one of a passion project that’s been consuming me these past few months.

Many of you may have heard me mention my Reboot the Prequels project, but I wanted to take a minute to declare my intent. For those unfamiliar, I decided to rewrite The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, and Revenge of the Sith into a story-focused narrative that unfolds Anakin’s descent to the Dark Side in a compelling way.

Why would I do such a thing?

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Allow me to explain. Photo credit: Jo Sabin.

Undoubtedly, some of you reading this think I’m wasting my time. But I’m not. And not just in the John Lennon, “Time you enjoy wasting, was not wasted,” sense.

Here’s why:

  1. I’m certain this writing exercise has made me a better writer. It’s kind of incredible, when you step back and think about it, that we have one trilogy that is universally loved and another that is all but universally reviled set within the same franchise. But what is it that makes them so different? The wooden performances in front of a greenscreen, for sure, but it’s much more than that. It’s the story. I broke down what worked for one and what failed in the other and I’m a stronger author for doing so.
  2. Writing is cathartic. The best way to discover how you feel about a subject (and why) is to write about it. It was truly healing to be able to put my gripes to bed, even in something as seemingly inconsequential as a movie franchise. But now I’ve said my piece. I have an answer, one which I can give emphatically, to the proverbial, “Yeah, well, could you do any better?”
  3. I got to write a Star Wars movie! Sure, I didn’t get paid six figures and get to walk the red carpet (though, if you’re reading this Disney, let’s do lunch), but I undoubtedly wrote the movie. And I loved every minute of it. This is the most I’ve ever felt like an “artist.” Having created a thing for no other reason than for the pure joy of doing so. It’s the same aspect of self-publishing that I find so freeing. We are living in an era where the only thing stopping you from creating and distributing a story is the will to do so.
  4. I get to share my love and my lessons.

That’s where you come in, #4. And May the Fourth Be With You.

The screenplay for A New Menace (That’s what I’ve called my Episode I. Get it?) clocks in at 103 pages, with another dozen of story lessons and explanations at the end. If you’ve never read a screenplay, that should take you 103 minutes or less to read. You can read this first script right now on my Reboot the Prequels page. Then you can tell me if I nailed it or failed it. Share it with your friends. Let these screenplays be the movies we all deserved to see.

Your author,

May 4th, 2017


Thanks for reading! What do YOU think? Waste of time or time well spent?

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

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INFECTED Promo Results (Day Two)

Continued from Lessons Learned from the INFECTED giveaway.

January 9th
PhotoFunia-16f3d2b_smallGood morning, again! Today Book Blast is set to go out and, with (fingers’ crossed) the continued buzz from yesterday’s promotion, this should make for an exciting day. I don’t know about you, but I could hardly sleep a wink. Whattdya say we see how much action happened overnight?

NOTE: CLICK ALL IMAGES TO ENLARGE

2686 Downloads as of 0600, January 9th.
2686 Downloads as of 0600, January 9th.
Woo-hoo! Made it into the coveted Top 100.
Woo-hoo! Made it into the coveted Top 100.

Two interesting points of order based on these stats. First, is that I’m still listed in Literature & Fiction > Action & Adventure (an old category) as well as Science Fiction > Post-Apocalyptic (new category). Could this be because my update is still “processing”? I’m not sure. I’ll have to watch carefully as this develops. Second, even though my rank has surpassed the Top 100 free books in the kindle store, I only gave away 450 copies over the course of the entire night. Which leads to…

LESSON LEARNED: Be patient/don’t panic. Within the first two hours of the day, my rank got worse and shot up to #99. If this is a race to #1, that means I’m not doing well… or does it? Amazon’s best seller ranking is elastically flexible and doesn’t necessarily correspond to current downloads. Maybe someone else’s rank simply processed before mine? I could just need some time to catch up. Tough to say. Amazon keeps their ranking algorithm a closely-guarded secret, but it pays to go with the flow. Just keep doing what you know you should be doing, and let the ranking system do its thing.

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

4113 Downloads as of 1400, January 9th.
4113 Downloads as of 1400, January 9th.
Back to "increasing!" Slow and steady wins the race today.
Back to “increasing!” Slow and steady wins the race today.

Interesting to note that the categories are still switching. Could this be a good thing? It’s putting me on several different categories throughout the day (the maximum allowed is two), so I can’t see how it would hurt… Hmm. But the main point is that it’s getting better. From all I’ve heard and read, Book Bub is the behemoth service that’ll push any promotion over the edge. So if I can just keep climbing the charts, no matter how slowly, I should be in for a treat tomorrow.

The snowball is your book promotion. The more people you get to help push it along, the bigger it’ll get until it eventually starts feeding itself.

The afternoon was spent doing more promoting and marketing, of course, which leads to another…

LESSON LEARNED: Set up everything beforehand. I started contacting book sites a month out, but I found a great list of resources I was planning to contact during the promotion. Big mistake. Just going through with everything I’d had planned, to include continued social media marketing, took up all my time. You should have everything ready to go before you promotion starts, so the most work you have to do during the event involves the copy/paste function.

It’s getting late. Let’s do one last look at the stats before bed:

5358 Downloads as of 2200, January 9th.
5358 Downloads as of 2200, January 9th.
Still increasing and -- BONUS -- now it's topping 3 categories!
Still increasing and — BONUS — now it’s topping 3 categories!

It’s getting significantly more difficult for INFECTED to climb the ranks, but at least it still is. And with tomorrow set to be my “anchor day” I’m hopeful. You might also notice 3 more sales of MURDERED in 24 hours. Not exactly the boost I was hoping for, but it’s still early (and I’m thankful for each sale I get). Time to try and sleep and prepare for the exciting conclusion tomorrow…

Continue to INFECTED Promo Results (Day Three) 

Get MURDERED!

The newest Click Your Poison book, MURDERED, is available now! Check it out on Amazon.

Our Amateur Detective Contest also just kicked off, and the first one to solve the case wins, so jump on in.

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

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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!

INFECTED is Evolving

Happy Monday! It’s time for an important announcement. The impossible now becomes… possible–INFECTED is moving from being available only as an ebook. It’s growing up. Evolving. By the end of this month (probably right around Thanksgiving), there will be a paperback version. Just in time for Christmas shopping! Zombies… the gift that truly keeps on giving.

Granted, the ebook format lends itself to a more streamlined reading experience, and that will still be available, but there’s demand for a print edition as well. I know what some of you are thinking; it’s called Click Your Poison, what am I “clicking” in a paperback? Nothing, Captain Smartypants. The Click Your Poison brand stays, this is simply the “eAversion Version”. And as a bonus for this edition, rules for the Party Game are included along with a Reader’s Guide in the back of the book.

So stay tuned, zombie fans, because there will be a paperback giveaway for my blog followers upon release. Subscribe on the upper left and make sure you don’t miss out!

The Paranoid Gamer reviews INFECTED

Product Spotlight: INFECTED by James Schannep
Posted October 2, 2012 by Daniel Flatt in Paranormal

If you’ve ever known the thrill of choose your own adventure books that were popular back in the 80’s and 90’s, then you’ll be familiar with the concept behind INFECTED. You are the main character and it’s up to you to put all your pre-made zombie apocalypse survival plans you made with your friends to the test. As you make your way through the story you’ll be asked to make choices at certain junctures that will change your overall plot within. The book is a more adult take on the idea though, your character will meet bloody and violent ends throughout the experience with a wrong decision. Most importantly and complimentary to the author, your choices never feel too forced with more sweeping impacts to the narrative than most choose your own adventure books.

Three unique overall storylines are presented throughout the book to mixed results. Each of them are pretty well written with the author’s previous military experience peeking through in certain points and legitimately witty references to pop culture throughout. However there are elements that just aren’t up to snuff pacing and plot wise to the rest of the book. In addition, characters often come off as one sided caricatures, which honestly in this type of book I’m not sure how much more development they could have seen with so many different balls to juggle. Both these issues add up to my one real problem with the book. Throughout the experience, in most cases, the narrative feels slightly rushed and you’ll go from in danger to saved or dead within the space of a good night’s reading. At times the swift pace is certainly appreciated and there are moments that will legitimately get your blood pumping, I just wish there was more time I could have spent with every story.

Honestly, that’s a compliment in and of itself as I just wanted to spend more time reading and making choices in this setting. The book, while perhaps not the next Lord of the Rings, is immense fun and can be enjoyed time and time again due to the variety of endings and branch offs that explore different facets of an overarching narrative. Some of the multiple narratives even weave in and out of each other and you often see hints of one story in another. Death scenes, usually a sentence or paragraph in most of these types of books, are well written and usually leave you wondering up till the last page if you’re going to meet your end. Impressively enough, even though the characters aren’t the most fleshed out, you’ll find yourself caring more about them and even more so your fate, simply because you are more invested in the story. I can proudly say that my first read through was met with unmitigated success as I survived the zombie apocalypse without dying once, and with my morals mostly intact. Maybe not so much the second time.

Even more impressive, and I never thought I’d say this with a book, is the fun you can get by adding in more people to the experience. I’ve read this aloud with friends and my wife and it’s simply a blast to play through together and make choices. There’s even a drinking game featured on his website that entails ways to turn the book into a real party experience and, though I don’t typically enjoy that sort of thing, it certainly seems like it would be lots of fun.

As a gamer I doubly appreciate the interactivity and re-playability (re-readability?) that this form of writing brings to the book. Before now I’d almost forgotten about the appeal of choose your own ending (or in this case called click your own poison), but it was back in full force with this book, and with the more mature themes, was even more impressive. It’s worth noting that the addition of using an E-Reader means you can click through the choices and go directly to the consequences of your actions instead of searching for a page; something I never would have thought of myself before this, but that makes the experience even easier to enjoy. I’ve gone through all three storylines now and comparing my stories to my brothers, who read through at the same time. Even though we saw some of the same storylines, ways we navigated them were different and we got to know more about certain characters or see more aspects of the full plot because of our choices. There’s even a website you can share zombie apocalypse survival stories with other readers if you so choose.

INFECTED is quite simply a welcome evolution to an old format that just begs to be enjoyed. The zombie apocalypse is an instantly identifiable and enjoyable setting to many, especially us gamers who have spent hours in conversations with friends about the topic. With the internet being leveraged to share stories, the e-reader bringing even more accessibility, and the more mature theme; James Schannep has truly managed to bring choose your own adventure into this generation. The future looks bright for this subset genre of books and I can’t wait to read more from this promising author, in this format or any other.

If you’d like to purchase this book you can do so at this link.

via Product Spotlight: INFECTED by James Schannep- The Paranoid Gamer.

113,000 words in 152 days

Okay, I haven’t posted in a while. Sorry about that, but I’ve got two really good excuses:

1) I’ve been busy scrawling away at my breakaway novel.
2) I’m getting married in… (let me check the calendar)… 7 days.

So, I’ve been a little busy.  However, In keeping that this is a professional blog, let’s focus on #1.

Over the last five months, I’ve worked nearly every day with the goal of at least 1000 words. Looks like I averaged around 740–not bad considering I drove across the country, spent two months away from home, and was busy planning a wedding.  Okay, to be fair, my fiance planned most of it.

Still! For the first time, I’m going to be a published writer. This is a certainty. Not because I’m sure I’ll woo an agent and a publishing house, but because I’m not even going to try. I’m self-publishing. I have a story that those in the biz (and people like me who want to be) call High-Concept. This means as soon as I tell you what it’s about, you’ll want to buy it. No matter that you’ve never heard of me and I have no track record; it’s that compelling. Scout’s honor.

It’s a zombie apocalypse story, I’ll say that much, but I’m not going to tell you what makes it so compelling just yet, not until the press release. Sorry.

Thinking of using this for my author picture in the back.

Instead, I can tell you what to expect from here on out. 1) Updates about the progress of the book’s editing, cover development, and release schedule. There is still much work to be done before the release. If you want to subscribe (over on the right), you won’t miss a thing.

And 2) News on the short stories I’ll be publishing as ebooks in the upcoming weeks and months as well.

But you’ll probably get neither until after the wedding.

Here we are at the start of a journey. I’m glad you can join me!