A Novel Idea

And now for something completely different.

After yesterday’s post about some recent setbacks, I’m excited to tell you about my current project, and the timing couldn’t be better.

I actually finished this novel back in 2019, but I told myself I’d try the traditional publishing route because it was a book I was both extremely proud of and one I thought had an important message and needed to be put in as many hands as possible. But, as it turns out, sitting in a folder on my computer for three years has put the story in as few hands as possible.

Equal parts heartwarming and humorous, “Social Vampire” is a coming-of-age story about a kid who pretends to be a vampire at his new school to get the attention of a girl. It’s about young love, loss & grief, and growing empathy. I think it’s the best thing I’ve written.

Early draft cover image for “Social Vampire”

I decided to do an initial run publishing the story serially on Kindle Vella. If you haven’t heard of the platform, it’s only available to readers in the US right now, but it’s for short, episodic reading. After this initial run, which is going from now through December, I’d look to publish the book as a paperback and ebook in April, 2023.

You can wait until then, orrrrrrrr, you’re in luck. Amazon is running a promo that starts today. You get to read Vellas for free (including mine) and I still get paid royalties. For the next week, which will include two new chapters being released, you get a free look at “Social Vampire.” Amazon is taking the hit, hoping you’ll want to continue reading on this new platform.

You can head to my Vella page now, or I’ll tell you a bit about the story.

At a new school, you get a chance to reinvent yourself, so…why not be a vampire? When we first meet Gordon, he claims he can’t physically tell a lie, yet says he’s stopped aging and that his peers believe him to be a vampire. He tells us his mother left him, but doesn’t give us the full story.

It’s soon clear that Gordon is an unreliable narrator, if an entertaining one.

Gordon is a California native, a theatre geek, and an aspiring screenwriter. His life starts to unravel when his special-effects artist dad loses his job and relocates the family from Los Angeles, CA to Bozeman, MT. If that wasn’t hard enough, through a comedy of errors, Gordon’s new classmates—who are obsessed with self-pubbed vampire fiction—think he’s secretly a vampire.

With help from Gordon’s improv background, Dad’s special effects gear, and a little luck, this new school might be the perfect place for Gordon to shine—or, better yet, sparkle. But will the costs of living a lie outweigh the newfound popularity that comes with being a social vampire?

Here’s the link: https://www.amazon.com/Social-Vampire/dp/B0BDGM1J8J

Up, up, and away! SUPERPOWERED release!

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SUPERPOWERED has been live in both Kindle edition and paperback for four days now, and I just realized that in all my social media blitzing and marketing, I somehow forgot to mention it on my blog!

My bad. But I’ll redeem myself by saying, “It’s only $0.99 during the special release period!” so that should help, right?

So, grab a copy, tell a friend, and please leave a review. Many promo sites have a minimum number before a feature, so it would really help me out to keep the momentum going.

And look! It’s doing great so far!

Not sure how I'll ever compete with the lady-porn titles, but being the only actual superhero book in the top 5 ain't half bad!
[Click to expand] Not sure how I’ll ever compete with the lady-porn titles, but being the only actual superhero book in the top 5 superhero books ain’t half bad! 
That’s it for now. I’m working on the next book in the series, but more about that later. Make sure you sign up for my new release mailing list so you don’t miss out.

PS — MURDERED is on sale for $0.99 right now as well, so if you haven’t tried to solve the mystery, I suggest that you….

Murdered (0-00-34-20)


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

Book Trailer Easter Egg

The official book trailer for SUPERPOWERED launched last week. It’s an interactive trailer, where you choose your viewing experience. I’ve also added a sample decision-point for the book on its sub-pages.

And I’ve hidden an Easter egg.

If you’ve read any of my Click Your Poison titles, you know I love hiding things in my books. Well, I did the same thing for my new trailer. Through some ninja-like coding, the team at PixelTwister Studios has made the trailer more interactive. You can watch both the Hero and Villain perspectives simultaneously with something we’ve called DoubleTube.

Be a hero, be a villain, or be both?
Be a hero, be a villain, or be both?

Click the picture above, or the hyperlink here, to watch the video. Then, choose either Hero or Villain. Once the stream starts playing, you can press the V key on your desktop keyboard to cycle from the Hero video into the Villain stream, or press H while watching the Villain video to peek over at Hero side. This will only work through this Easter egg link, and will not work on the regular YouTube site.

I hope you enjoy this hidden gem as much as we did creating it! And don’t forget, SUPERPOWERED is still on pre-order for only $0.99. It’ll be here in a month!


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

Excelsior! 1st Draft of SUPERPOWERED: Complete.

So, I broke the news on Twitter last week, but now I’m making it official.

Cover? Check.

First draft? CHECK.

It took a year, literally. The document creation time-stamp shows 16 January 2014. Almost poetic if I hadn’t originally planned on finishing last summer, but this book has taken on a life of its own. I’ve lived in Mercury City for a year! And I can’t wait to share that place with you.

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Here’s the setup: You’re in an experiment with two other volunteers, and you get one of three superpowers. That means the three paths are the powers (you “play” each one). You can be a hero or you can be villain, and you can win each way with each power. That means SUPERPOWERED will be the first Click Your Poison book to have six “Good Endings” (in quotes because half of those are, you know, Evil Endings).

What’s next? Editing. The first draft came in at 138,000 words, and I’d like to trim that down to under 120k. Sheesh. Drinking before noon is rarely acceptable, but when you’re editing, it’s required! Kidding. Mostly.

After that, it’ll go off to my trusted Beta Readers (other writers and friends well-versed in story). Then my professional editor, my formatting team, and finally on sale. I’m also working on a book trailer.

Plenty to keep me busy, but the end is in sight! After beta, I’ll have a release date. Stay tuned!


So, what do YOU think? About damn time?

Feel free to comment, like, share, and subscribe (top right)!

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!

 


 

Feel free to share, comment, and like!

MURDERED Cover Reveal

I just sent off the edited, final manuscript off for formatting. That means we’re almost there. And that means the next announcement will be a release date!

Drum roll, please…. Check out this gorgeous cover by artist Nikki Jansen (who also did the INFECTED cover):

Could YOU Solve a Murder?
Could YOU Solve a Murder?

MURDERED is the next in the Click Your Poison series, a thrilling murder mystery where YOU must solve the case. Interrogate suspects, follow clues, and get into (or avoid) gunfights, all in an effort to catch the killer. Think you’re up for the task?

100k words and counting

I hit 100,000 words on my next Click Your Poison book the other day. I figure as long as I’m celebrating base-10 accomplishments, from 1k to 10k, I think I should toast myself for hitting 100k words on MURDERED. That’s long for a novel (which typically runs 60-90k words), and I’m not even done yet. Chalk it up to the three storyline schtick. Hopefully it’ll result in a more immersing experience for you, the reader. That’s the plan anyway. Now if I could just finish the first draft! Although, I did celebrate this today as well:

 

Mind-blowing Fiction

Looking for something to blow your mind? Look no further.

Reading the new INFECTED paperback has been known to kill boredom.
Use at your own discretion.

Only 3.5 days left in the giveaway. In case you missed yesterday’s announcement: 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.

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!

Scripts vs Novels

Disclaimer: I am not a legal professional, and nothing found on this site should be taken as legal advice.  Always consult an attorney.

I’ve already written about the differences of Screenwriting vs Prose from a writer’s perspective.  Now I’d like to touch a little on the differences between the finished products: Scripts (screenplays) and Novels (books).  Physically, here you go:

The Script: Three-hole-punched 8 1/2″ x 11″ computer printed paper, bound with two brads.

A Book: Bound pages, professionally printed, in a variety of shapes and sizes.

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As for the format?  There’s plenty of nuts and bolts books written on formatting screenplays and you can google manuscript specifications for agents or publishers (or ebook format), so if you’re looking for that, keep looking.

What I’d really like to talk about in this post is what the rights a writer keeps if they sell a script versus selling a novel.

Here’s what it boils down to: when you sell a screenplay, you are (generally) selling the whole thing.  It’s no longer yours.  Other writers can (and probably will) make changes to your story without your permission.  When you sell a novel, you’re still the copyright holder and it’s still your writing, you’ve just given the publishing house the rights to print and sell it.

As a writer in the US, you have far more rights as a novelist than as a screenwriter.  In Europe, screenwriters have more rights, but for this purpose–I’m talking only about American writers making deals with American production companies.

There are ways to keep certain rights to a screenplay, such as the extremely complicated Theatrical Separated Rights.  On the flipside, there’s also terrifying loopholes like Hollywood Accounting, where you might never even get paid.  For the most part, though, screenwriters aren’t even allowed to distribute the very scripts they wrote once they’re sold.

But as a novelist, you keep your copyright.  Even if your book is getting adapted to film–in which case you only license the material to the studio, allowing them to make the film, much like you allowed a publisher to print the book.

Really, we can chase this rabbit down the hole as far as we want, but I think if we go much further we’ll need a pack of lawyers to read the map.  So… that’s it for now.

Lesson learned: write the book first.  Sell it twice, keep the rights!