Free Zombie Swag

If you’re on facebook and love zombie fiction, today’s your lucky day.

ZFEEB

Check out Zombie Fest Free ebook Bonanza, a facebook event open to the public and supported by numerous zombie writers, artists, and fanatics.

I’m giving away a few copies of INFECTED to lucky raffle winners, and countless others are doing the same. There’s even a free ebook you can download the day of the event (an anthology of short stories) to which I’ve submitted “Corporate Zombie“.

So, click the link, head on over to facebook, get some free gear, and meet some talented artists!

And while you’re there, give a LIKE to Click Your Poison Books! 😉

CYPFB

Chance to Support Indie Gaming

Aim for the head in the upcoming indie FPS, Deadly Walkers — due out Fall, 2013.

I’ve been following the progress of Deadly Walkers for a while now, ever since game developer Francesco Calvi contacted me to see if I’d be interested in some cross promotion.

Specifically, he asked if I’d be willing to create a series of ‘newspapers’ for the game detailing how a zombie outbreak might progress in London. It seemed like a neat project, and I’ve always wanted to work in video games, so I accepted.

The first two newspapers are out now:

2 Day Before Plague (Click to Enlarge)
1 Day Before Plague (Click to Enlarge)

You can read the full story as it’s released (there should be a new edition today) by clicking HERE.

And now YOU can support indie gaming too. They just started their kickstarter campaign this week, and for only $10 you’ll get a full copy of the finished product. Check out their full list of pledge incentives at the Deadly Walkers Kickstarter.

Support indie artists!

My Big Week in Texas

Hey, that's me!
Hey, that’s me!

If you follow me on twitter, goodreads, facebook, or have checked out my “events” tab in the last month, you probably know I went to Ft Hood, TX for a book signing (Or, to be more accurate, I went to Texas for my sister’s wedding and scheduled a book signing around the same time. Congrats Melissa and Craig!). Well, for a self-published author, this was a big week.

Knowing it would be a 3-day signing event, but not knowing what to expect, I ordered 3 boxes of books (24 each) and brought the 10 I had sitting at home, just because I was feeling optimistic. So, with 82 books, I was hoping I wouldn’t have to leave too many at my parents’ house.

First stop was to our hometown newspaper, where I was interviewed. I’m still new enough to the game where little things like this are novel and exciting. If you like, you can read the article here.

Source: “Heights High School grad pens zombie book” from KDHnews.com

Next stop? I’d heard that Hastings has a “local author” section, so I decided to give it a try and see if I could leave a few copies there. Much to my surprise, not only was I accepted at Hastings in Killeen, but I was placed on the “zombie” shelf right up front as well as out in the general “horror” section. Whoa! That in itself was a huge life event–my first brick-and-mortar store.

Make Your Choice
Make Your Choice
Note to self, stop having an "S" last name.
Note to self, stop having an “S” last name.

Then there was the signing. My sister Alison had the idea to dress up like a zombie on Saturday, and my other sisters soon caved to the peer pressure. After all, I offered a free t-shirt and a professional makeup job. I’d play Friday straight, have my zombies with me on Saturday, then offer a sale on Sunday in hopes of reducing my inventory. I needed to leave some books behind for Hastings, but not too many…

IMAG0311

Friday, day 1: People were very receptive to INFECTED! In fact, I sold 21 books–almost a full box. Not bad, maybe I could sell the same on Sunday and try for a full 30 on Saturday when my zombies were with me. That would leave 10 books for Hastings. My nervous fears that I’d be ignored for three days were proving to be unfounded. I even met some very nice people who were excited for me to sign a book for either themselves or a zombie fan in their family. At lunch, my fortune cookie sagely reminded me:

Whoever wants to reach a distant goal must take small steps.”

Saturday, day 2: Thanks so much to my sisters–love you guys! The book sold like hotcakes. There was often a queue at my signing table, zombie fans eager for a book and a photograph with our crazy family. I sold 47 books. I had to tell my family members not to buy any for themselves, otherwise I’d be in danger of selling out. I had already dropped off  9 at Hastings, so I was left with only 5 left for Sunday… gulp.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Don't worry, my family scares me too.
Don’t worry, my family scares me too.

Sunday, day 3: I sold out in about an hour. Boy, did I underestimate. I should’ve brought two more boxes at least. I think I could’ve hit Friday’s numbers at least, then I would’ve had some left over for Hastings after I left. Instead, I had to direct disappointed would-be customers to either this store or amazon.com. After checking with Hastings, turns out they sold out of my book as well–making it their #1 book for the week. Even beating out “50 Shades of Grey”! Granted, E.L. James wasn’t in Killeen promoting like I was, but it still felt like victory.

This was an appreciated confidence booster, and it was fun to be a minor celebrity for a weekend, but I still have lots of work to do before “Click Your Poison” is a household name. So what’s next? Of course there’s book #2 to work on, but I’ve also been invited to come back to Fort Hood any time, and I probably will. Maybe for book #2? Maybe around Halloween when the zombie craze is at its peak? In the meantime, I need to ship more books to Hastings and see about getting other stores out there to carry INFECTED. Maybe there’s a Big Week in California in my future? Who knows–but wherever life takes me, the future looks bright.

Thanks to all who attended!

What’s Happening?

Introducing the “Events” tab! See it up there? At the top; next to “Blog.” Go ahead, click it.https://i0.wp.com/www.birthdaydirect.com/images/36603-zombie-birthday-sign600x600.jpg

Now, whenever there’s a writerly event, you won’t have to miss out. Also, if you have an event and want me there, let me know. I’ll bring the party:
https://i1.wp.com/www.discountpartysupplies.com/media/catalog/category/zombies_420.png

 

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.

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!

When Your Work Rises From The Dead

This is an essay I wrote for the blog Fictional Candy to coincide with a book  giveaway.

Fictional Candy

Indie writers have a bad rap. There’s a stigma that these authors couldn’t cut it in the real world of publishing, and therefore used the resources of the internet to bypass the gatekeepers of talent. Some writers, admittedly, deserve this stereotype. For your first story, you probably shouldn’t publish it. You should email it to friends and family for their enjoyment, ask for feedback from strangers online, and grow before you try to stake a professional claim.

But what about projects rejected for reasons other than talent? Those rejected because they are considered “not marketable”? Marketability is actually more important than talent to the business side of publishing. Don’t believe me? How else can you explain this? Sure, at some point, talent is marketability, but not always. You could’ve penned the best vampire novel ever written, but the odds of getting accepted by a publishing house are extremely low—the market is flooded with vampires and therefore it might be rejected based on marketability.

You could try writing a Twilight prequel!        Or not.

So they will kill your work before it’s even born, and it’s up to you to resurrect it. You have the power. It’s no longer “Can I?” but “Should I?” Short stories are a perfect example. You can’t market a single short story as a publishing house, but you sure as hell can self-publish it online as an indie author. And if it’s good enough, you should.

Which brings me to INFECTED and “Click Your Poison” books. No, it wasn’t rejected by a publishing house—it wasn’t even submitted to a publishing house—it was rejected by Hollywood. Back in 2008, INFECTED was a screenplay. It made some ripples in the pond, did well in contests, and even won me a little money. What it didn’t do was attract studio attention. Why not? It was good, I was told, but it needed to either be based on existing intellectual property or be a zombie musical rom-com. Read: Marketability. Not wanting to compromise my story, I shelved the project.

Cut to four years later and an idea to make a “Choose Your Own Adventure” series for grown-ups.* I knew right away that INFECTED needed to rise from the dead. A book where the reader can finally find out for themselves if they would survive the zombie apocalypse? Marketable! I believed this so much so, in fact, I decided not to even attempt the traditional publishing route. It’s the new Wild West in publishing, and that makes indie authors the new outlaws. But soon, very soon, “self-published” will no longer be a dirty word.

*Choose Your Own Adventure® is now a registered trademark of Chooseco, LLC, and is not associated in any way with Click Your Poison™ books.

Head on over to Fictional Candy to enter the giveaway for a free copy of INFECTED!

Zombies & Spirits Unite!

Welcome zombie blog walkers and internet shamblers! This post is a special one, made for the “2012 Virtual Zombie Walk” hosted by zombieseverywhere.org Undead aficionados are joining their bony, fetid hands for one day only, in celebration of all things zombie. You can see a full list of the blog walk (and follow the tour yourself) at this bottom of this page.

For my own contribution, I’d like to highlight a drinking game I created for my gamebook, INFECTED. It’s Friday, it’s zombies, lets adult this thing up and make it a zombie stumble. You can play the book by yourself, seeing if you have what it takes to survive a full-on apocalypse, but it’s a hell of a lot of fun with a group too. The full rules have a permanent home on my page, but for those just visiting, the quick and dirty version is below:

Gather ’round, friends. For this book will help you forget how to read…

1) Load INFECTED on your ipad, tablet, ereader, etc.

2) Pass the book in a circle, each person reading aloud until you reach a decision point, and decide as a group what path to take. Narrator has final say for that choice.

3) Chug every time you kill a zombie, take a shot every time you die.*

4) Try to survive.

That’s it! Enjoy. Annnnnd please be responsible.

*If you’re not of legal drinking age, chug Mountain Dew (Code Red) and take shots of hot sauce. Trust me, whoever’s parents are hosting the slumber party will love this idea.

Want to intensify your game? DRESS UP AS ZOMBIES!

If you’re into parties, this is a great way to start one. And what better season to give it a go than right before Halloween? Thanks for stopping by and enjoy the rest of the zombie walk!

PS — Not into parties? Take the high road here.

Virtual Zombie Walk 2012 list of blogs:

Zombies Everywhere

[Retro-Zombie]

Halloween Blues

The Southern Northerner

Martha’s Journey

Annie Walls

GingerRead Review

App’y Talk

Kweeny Todd

Jenny’s House of Horrors

Bubba’s Place

Fictional Candy

herding cats & burning soup

Author Sherry Soule Blog

Paranormal research Group Blog

Adult Urban Fantasy by Sherry Soule

Moonlight Publishing Blog

Candid Canine

Ghost Hunting Theories

Above the Norm

A Dust Bunny In The Wind

Faith McKay

Zombob’s Zombie News & Movie Reviews

Flesh From The Morgue

The Living Dark

Some One Else’s Cook

Stumptown Horror

Forget About TV, Grab a Book

Zombie Dating Guide

Strange State

The Paranormalist – Renae Rude

Idée Fixe

Random Game Crafts

WhiteRoseBud’s Tumblr

Gnostalgia

Book Me!

Carmen Jenner Author

Sarasota Zombie Pub Crawl

Not Now…Mommy’s Reading

Love is a Many Flavored Thing

Its On Random

Ellie Potts

Attention Earthlings!

Horror Shock LoliPOP

The Spooky Vegan

The Story In…

DarkSide Detectives Blog

Something wicKED this way comes….

Julie Jansen: science fiction and horror writer

[You are here] Author/screenwriter James Schannep

The Zombie Lab

Creepy Glowbugg

Pickleope

Sharing Links and Wisdom

Midnyte Reader

This Blog Has A.D.D.

Carol’s Creations

Jeremy Bates

Vanessa Morgan

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.

My Reddit Experiment and the Troll Who Ended It

In case you’re not one of my usual readers, I recently self-published a book and I’m looking for ways to promote my work and spread the word. A couple of friends suggested I check out reddit.com and put up a few posts there to try and garner more interest. I’d never used reddit before, but I had heard stories such as the guy who got a screenwriting gig from reddit, so I thought it could be worth a try. After all, my book is a solely electronic experience and reddit is easily one of the largest online communities out there.

So I gave it a shot, starting out with an AMA (Ask Me Anything) detailing my recent life.

Looks so innocent, doesn’t it?

It was a fun experiment, but ultimately a failure from a book promotion standpoint as people were far more interested in picking the brain of a former nuclear missile officer than they were in talking about anything I’d written. Still, my blog got 25% of its page views for the year… in one day. So I figured I should give it another try.

My next time around, I decided to post specifically about the book. I posted an announcement in the zombie forum, put my book cover in their pics section, and asked a question in the writing sub-reddit. This is where my troll was lurking.

I asked if my self-published book looked professionally done or if there were any aspects that screamed, “Amateur!” and the answers started trickling in. I won’t give you a link to this post, and (hopefully) you can’t find it, because I’ve since deleted it.

Allow me to explain why.

One commenter praised my blurb, saying it seemed to keep in tone with the book. Another said the cover looked professional, but the fact that I have only five-star reviews on amazon made him suspicious. This latter point is what the troll jumped on. She/he immediately threw out accusations that I’d written all the reviews myself, even going so far as to create multiple reddit accounts to have a conversation with myself online. The troll then submitted their own accusations to the “worst of” reddit under the title “User schannepj submits own post to r/bestof, uses same shell account [“Brian”] to post fake amazon reviews of his book and sell it on r/writing.” Luckily, a moderator quashed this flagrant lie of a post.

In the light of recent sock puppetry scandals, I’d like to take a moment to address my glowing amazon reviews. INFECTED has only been out for two weeks, hardly enough time for the independent reviewers and bloggers I’ve contacted to have a chance to weigh in. As of right now, most of the reviews are written by friends, but of their own volition. I never asked anyone to post five-star reviews. And I certainly never wrote any reviews for myself.

Even after I explained this, the troll did not relent. One of the friends who suggested the reddit campaign even tried coming to my aid:

I’ll self-identify as one of the author’s friends, and FWIW, I’ll vouch that Brian is a very real perosn(SIC) and a very ardent promoter of James’ work. James debuted his book to our group by passing an iPad around a circle with a bottle of Jamison(SIC) in the middle. It’s no surprise that the participants of that drinking game wrote several of the rave reviews you see the very next day.

I’m gritting my teeth and trying to be polite here because, even though you insulted my friend, there are some truthful observations in your comment–even if you misinterpreted the information. You seem concerned with preserving the credibility of self-publishing. What would you have a fledgling author do? Ask his friends NOT to help?

The troll stopped claiming sock puppetry, but did not apologize. Instead, she/he shrugged it off with an, “[It’s] all the same to me because it has the same end result: game the system.”

Okay, so let’s drop the whole troll issue for a moment and discuss the core issue here: Is it wrong for friends to post online reviews without some sort of “I know the author” caveat upfront? Should I have said, “If you know me, please don’t review my book”? I don’t think so, I think I should tell everyone I meet to review the book, but I’d certainly love to hear some other opinions. These are only my *first* reviews and I hope to see many more from people I don’t know, like this one on Goodreads. It’s an interesting scandal-filled world out there, where reviews are of the utmost importance, and self-published authors will do anything to succeed.

I know my integrity’s intact, and I stand by my product. I’ll just be staying off reddit for a while. But the troll did bring up a good point, albeit in a roundabout and vindictive way: I need more reviews.

So… calling all reviewers–anyone care to give me an honest read?